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2002 Scouting Report

Peoria Chiefs

Midwest League Playoff Champions


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2002 Teams
Beloit
Burlington
Cedar Rapids
Clinton
Dayton
Fort Wayne
Kane County
Lansing
Michigan
Peoria
Quad City
South Bend
West Michigan
Wisconsin
  • Peoria, Illinois.
  • Affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals.

This page profiles the 2002 Peoria Chiefs, a Single-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals and a member of the Midwest League.

  • Manager: Danny Sheaffer.
  • Coaches: Gary Buckels (pitching), Tony Diggs.

End of Season Profile

2002 was a great season for Peoria's fans, and for the Vonachen family: A new ballpark, and the best team the town's ever seen. The Chiefs had great pitching, tremendous power, and a generally fine offense. On defense, they had terrific range but had some mechanical problems. All in all, this was one of the best teams in recent memory. And this team's ninth inning comeback in the playoff's last game was something really special.

When they were healthy, Peoria's starting rotation was pretty intimidating. While Tyler Johnson had perhaps the best year of any MWL starting pitcher, I'd call Justin Pope and Dan Haren better pitchers. The bullpen was similarly impressive, with closer Jared Blasdell stopping hitters almost completely, and the others working effectively in clearly-defined roles.

The Peoria offense was explosive. Second baseman Shaun Boyd's a complete package, with power and speed and good batting habits. There was no one in the regular lineup who couldn't park the ball in the seats. In a year when home runs were relatively rare, this team didn't seem to realize there was a power outage.


The Chiefs used 18 position players and 22 pitchers during the 2002 season.


Unless otherwise indicated, all statistics on this page are through the end of the season.

MWL Fan's Guide

Season Summary

  • Second Half: 43-27, .614 (2nd place, 1.0 behind)
  • First Half: 42-26, .618 (1st place, 5.5 ahead; playoff qualifier)
  • Pitching: 85-53, 2.78, 36 saves, 1100 strikeouts
  • Hitting: .261, 671 runs, 122 HR, 117 steals (66% success)
  • Defense: 175 errors (1.27 per game); .706 defensive efficiency
  • April: 18-6 (.750)
  • May: 13-15 (.464)
  • June: 15-11 (.577)
  • July: 17-11 (.607)
  • August & September: 22-10 (.688)
  • Playoff Round One: 2-0 (1.000)
  • Playoff Round Two: 2-0 (1.000)
  • Championship Round: 3-1 (.750)

Leading Players


  • Best Player on the Team: Second Baseman Shaun Boyd or Starting Pitcher Tyler Johnson

  • Best Starting Pitcher: Justin Pope (1.38, 8-1, 72 strikeouts) or Tyler Johnson (2.00, 15-3, 132 strikeouts)
  • Bullpen Stopper: Jared Blasdell (1.37, 6-2, 23 saves, 79 strikeouts)
  • Strikeout Pitchers: Tyler Johnson, Jared Blasdell, Joel Barreto, Ben Julianel, Joe Rogers, Jared Smith
  • Control Pitchers: Justin Pope, Dan Haren, Tyler Johnson, Mike Wodnicki, Chris Narveson, Jared Blasdell, Joel Barreto, Rich Burgess, Ben Julianel, Joe Rogers

  • Best Hitter: Shaun Boyd (.313, 12 HR, 60 RBI; 91 runs scored)
  • Home Run Leader: Gabe Johnson (26)
  • High Batting Average: Shaun Boyd (.313)
  • High On Base Percentage: none
  • High Slugging Percentage: Shaun Boyd (.471), John Nelson (.453), Gabe Johnson (.461)
  • Notable Baserunners: Shaun Boyd, John Nelson, Jesse Roman, Tim Lemon
  • Notable Batting Eye: none notable

July Profile

The Chiefs are the league's best team. Period. Great pitching, fine defense, terrific power. The only weaknesses are self-inflicted: This team seemed to lose its edge when it built up a huge early-season lead.

Second baseman Shaun Boyd's developed into a star this summer. The other regulars are mostly fine hitters; none have high averages, but all have power, or speed, or both.

This is the best MWL pitching staff since the 1997 West Michigan staff. Besides regular starters Dan Haren (who's been promoted), Tyler Johnson, Mike Wodnicki, and Aaron Russelburg, manager Danny Sheaffer's used an array of spot starters very effectively; he's also used a pair of closers, Jared Blasdell and Joel Barreto, with excellent results.

Veteran Peorians Tim Lemon (Chet's nephew) and Chris Duncan (Dave's son) are in their third Peoria seasons. Lemon's finally delivered on some of his promise; he's got a lot of talent and is finally learning to use it. Duncan? Well, he's playing acceptable defense this summer, but his hitting's dropped off quite a bit.

The Chiefs have scored 501 runs; their opponents have scored 364 runs.


June Profile

The Chiefs righted themselves through the break, but have played half-hearted ball since. (This is the argument against split-season baseball; here's a team with little stake in its daily results.) The Cards took their best pitcher, but this is essentially the team which dominated in April. There's a lot of talent in Peoria, and they remain the most likely team to win the MWL championship. Assuming they can handle the similarly-talented Kernels squad, come September.

Notable Midseason Loss: Starting Pitcher Dan Haren.

Worth Watching: Utility Pitcher Ben Julianel.


May Profile

The Chiefs just stumbled through May, but had built up such a lead in April that the Kernels couldn't catch them. A reasonable person could still call Peoria the league's best team. And they've got this fine new ballpark.

The main story remains: Peoria's team has great pitching and very good hitting. They're a little weak on the basepaths, and have a below-average MWL defense.

Manager Danny Sheaffer's been using four starting pitchers regularly, with the fifth slot filled with whomever's available. Dan Haren and Tyler Johnson are formidable pitchers, and Mike Wodnicki's a better pitcher than his won/lost record. Most of the bullpen's also strong; closers Joel Barreto and (especially) Jared Blasdell are particularly impressive.

The offense has no stars, but lots of players with talent. Third baseman Gabe Johnson is the main power source; nearly everyone runs a little bit; second baseman Shaun Boyd and outfielder Tim Lemon are the best talents.


April Profile

Strong offense; great pitching. That's the formula for baseball success, and the Chiefs have been delivering. The Chiefs' pitchers strike out about a batter an inning and walk almost no one. Justin Pope and Dan Haren have been anchoring the rotation, Rich Burgess has picked up three wins in a mixed role, and Joel Barreto's leading the league in saves. Although the Peoria offense is fairly strong, there's no standout performer.


Pre-Season Profile

Manager

This is Danny Sheaffer's third season managing in professional ball, but his first at this level. His Double-A team last season liked to bunt, but on the whole he appears quite conservative.


First Round Draft Selection

  • Justin Pope, 2001; 28th player selected
  • Shaun Boyd, 2000; 13th player selected
  • Chris Duncan, 1999; sandwich pick

Team Age Information

  • Average Team Age: 22.0
  • Pitchers: 22.3
  • Hitters: 21.7
  • Oldest Player on the Team: Pitcher Josh Merrigan (born June 30, 1978)
  • Youngest Player on the Team: Catcher Yadier Molina (born July 13, 1982)

The average player in the Midwest League this season is 21.6 years old. Average ages were calculated from the opening day roster; age as of July 1, 2002.

This website has more information about team ages.


Where they played last season

This is a brief portrait of how the team was put together. These summaries are based on the team's opening day roster and will not be revised to reflect roster changes.

The new Peoria squad has some strong holdovers from last year and a pitching staff which worked together in New Jersey.

Team           League            W/L     Place    Hitters Pitchers
                                        (Teams)
Potomac        Carolina (A+)     66/74    6(8)       2       0
Peoria         Midwest (A)       67/81   11(14)      5       3
New Jersey     New York-Penn (A) 35/41    9(14)      4       8
Johnson City   Appalachian (R+)  31/35   T5(10)      3       3

Several of these players appeared at two levels and are counted twice on this table. One of the new Chiefs played in another organization last season; another apparently did not play professionally.



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Overview



The Midwest League plays Single-A, professional baseball in America's agricultural and industrial heartland. 16 teams play a 140 game schedule which begins in early April and ends Labor Day weekend.

Disclaimers:
This website is a private project and has no official relation with or sanction from the Midwest League or Minor League Baseball.
The opinions expressed on this page are mine, and are worth about that.


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