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2016 Albuquerque Isotopes Season In Review

September 8, 2016

The Albuquerque Isotopes wrapped up the 2016 campaign with a 71-72 record, finishing 2.0 games back of the first place El Paso Chihuahuas in the PCL's Pacific Southern Division.

The Isotopes went 34-19 (.642) after the All-Star Break and won 23 of their final 31 games after starting the season with a 37-53 (.411) record. Albuquerque was 17 games behind El Paso in the standings on July 7, but starting August 1, was able gain 12 games in the standings for a late playoff push. The Isotopes also won 20 games in August, their most wins in a single month in team history.

The late run Albuquerque went on after August 1 was helped by winning 11 of the last 14 games at Isotopes Park, including a season-best nine-game home winning streak from August 6-23. The Isotopes went 37-34 at Isotopes Park this year, their first winning record at home since 2013 when they went 42-30.

Most Common Batting Order
No. Player Pos.
1. Rafael Ynoa 2B
2. Mike Tauchman CF
3. Stephen Cardullo LF
4. Ben Paulsen 1B
5. Tom Murphy C
6. Jordan Patterson RF
7. Chris Nelson 3B
8. Joey Wong SS
9. Jeff Hoffman P

The Isotopes tied their single-season record for sweeps with five in 2016, including their first road sweep since 2009, coming in the final series of the year in El Paso.

Albuquerque recorded four winning streaks of at least six games during the season, including tying its team record with nine straight wins from July 8-19. A week before that nine-game winning streak began, the Isotopes ended their worst losing stretch in team history, having lost 13 consecutive games from June 17-30.

Albuquerque compiled a .270 team batting average for the season, ranking eighth of 16 in the PCL. However, it was the lowest average in their 14-year existence. Outfielder Stephen Cardullo finished the campaign with a team-leading .308 batting average (125-for-406), placing seventh in the circuit. The 2016 season was Cardullo's first at the Triple-A level, having spent the past four years playing in independent baseball. A former walk-on at Florida State University, he also led the Isotopes in RBI (72), total bases (212), and was second in home runs (17). The 29-year-old's impressive season with Albuquerque was rewarded by receiving his first Major League call-up by the Rockies on August 26.

The Isotopes finished 10th in the league in home runs, belting 111 long balls this season, one more than their team-low set in 2013. Tom Murphy's 19 home runs paced the team, while also tying with Brendan Rodgers for the most in the Rockies farm system. Murphy became red-hot at the plate from July 1 through the end of the season, batting .453 (68-for-150) over his final 40 games. Isotopes batters slugged five grand slams in 2016 (Tim Smalling, Jordan Patterson, Murphy, David Dahl, and Cardullo), six sets of back-to-back home runs, one game-opening home run (Rafael Ynoa), and two walk-off blasts (Murphy and Brandon Barnes). Isotopes batters collected five multi-home run games, including two from Murphy, while Dahl, Patterson, and Alex Castellanos each recorded one on the year. For the first time since 2013 the Isotopes had a pitcher hit a home run when Matt Flemer sent one over the fence on July 14 vs. Memphis.

Batting Leaders
(min. 2.7 plate appearances/lg. game)
Category Player Stat
Average Stephen Cardullo .308
Games Mike Tauchman 129
At-Bats Rafael Ynoa 481
Hits Mike Tauchman 136
Total Bases Stephen Cardullo 212
Extra-Base Hits Tom Murphy 52
Runs Jordan Patterson 75
RBI Stephen Cardullo 72
Home Runs Tom Murphy 19
Triples Jordan Patterson, Mike Tauchman, & Tom Murphy 7
Doubles Rafael Ynoa 30
Stolen Bases Mike Tauchman 23
Walks Jordan Patterson 47
Strikeouts Jordan Patterson 118

One of the rarest feats in baseball was accomplished twice by the Isotopes in 2016 when Murphy and Pat Valaika both hit for the cycle. Murphy recorded the feat on July 14 vs. Memphis, while Valiaka hit for the cycle against Fresno on August 22. The Isotopes have now had six cycles in their 14-year history with the most recent before this season coming on August 21, 2008 by Robert Andino.

For the third time in team history the Isotopes led the PCL in triples with 56 in 2016 and ranked second in all of Minor League Baseball, trailing only the Red Sox High-A affiliate in Salem, VA with 62. Murphy, Patterson, and Mike Tauchman each collected seven triples to lead the team. Albuquerque also compiled the ninth-most doubles (248) in the PCL this season, led by Ynoa with 30.

Tauchman registered a team-best 136 hits and established an Isotopes team record by hitting safely in 25-straight games to end the season. The 25-year-old outfielder batted .402 (37-for-92) during his streak that began on August 12 at Colorado Springs. Tauchman extended his streak to 15 games on August 27 when he connected on his only home run of the season, which was his first round-tripper since April 27, 2015 with Double-A New Britain, a span of 893 at-bats.

Albuquerque pinch hitters hit a combined .270 (27-for-100), with Chris Nelson receiving the most pinch-hit opportunities with 17 at-bats and led the Isotopes with four pinch-hits. Albuquerque did not record a pinch-hit home run in 2016, with just eight extra-base pinch-hits.

The Isotopes' 393 walks this season were the fewest in team history, and finished 18 ahead of El Paso for the least in the league. Patterson walked a team-high 47 times and compiled 13 hit-by-pitches, marking the third time in his four-year professional career that he has led a league in hit-by-pitches. The Isotopes also saw a PCL record tied for hit-by-pitches in a single-game when Dustin Garneau was plunked three times on May 5 vs. Sacramento.

After completing in his third season in an Isotopes uniform, Castellanos is moving his way up the club's all-time leader boards, now ranking second in hit-by-pitches (28) and tied for fifth in both home runs (42) and runs scored (176).

Darryl Scott's pitching staff finished the season eighth in the PCL with a 4.44 team ERA, best among teams in the league that use a humidor. Isotopes hurlers struck out the fourth-fewest opposing batters in the league in 2016, fanning just 1,034. Albuquerque issued the fifth-fewest free passes in the league while setting a new team record, walking only 421 opposing batters on the year.

Pitching Leaders
(min. 0.8 innings pitched/league games)
Category Pitcher Stat
ERA Jeff Hoffman 4.02
Games Simon Castro 50
Starts Jeff Hoffman 22
Wins Harrison Musgrave & Eddie Butler 8
Losses Jeff Hoffman 9
Saves Simon Castro 10
Games Finished Simon Castro 30
Complete Games Eddie Butler 1
Strikeouts Jeff Hoffman 124
Innings Jeff Hoffman 118.2
Hits Allowed Shane Carle 147
Runs Allowed Shane Carle 75
Walks Allowed Jeff Hoffman 44
Home Runs Allowed Harrison Musgrave 17
Hit Batsmen Jeff Hoffman 7
Wild Pitches Jeff Hoffman 5

The Isotopes sent 16 different starting pitchers to the hill in 2016, with just seven making double-digit starts on the year. The pitching staff logged 59 quality starts over their 143 games this season, including 20 in their final 36 outings. Eddie Butler recorded the 12th complete-game shutout in Isotopes history when he held Las Vegas scoreless for all seven innings in the first game of the August 9 doubleheader at Isotopes Park. The shutout was also the first by an Isotope since John Ely accomplished the feat in a seven-inning contest vs. Tucson on August 8, 2012.

Eight Albuquerque relievers recorded at least one save on the year, contributing to the club's 39 saves in 57 opportunities. After recording the first save of his 11-year professional career in April, Simon Castro went on to convert a team-best 10 saves in 2016. Castro pitched in a career-high 50 games and recorded the sixth-most games finished in the league with 30. Five Isotopes were used as both a reliever and starter this season, including Flemer who posted a 3.74 ERA (40er/96.1ip) over 13 relief appearances and 11 starts.

Right-hander Jeff Hoffman finished the year second in the PCL in strikeouts with 124, the fifth-most in a single-season in Isotopes history. The 23-year-old was two strikeouts away from the Isotopes single-game record on June 19 when he fanned 11 batters in seven innings against Reno. Hoffman led the club in starts (22) and innings pitched (118.2) despite being promoted to Colorado on August 20.

Hoffman was one of three Rockies top pitching prospects to toe the rubber for the Isotopes this season, along with Kyle Freeland and German Marquez. Freeland logged a 3.91 ERA (32er/73.2ip) in 12 starts after joining the club on June 25 and had three scoreless outings over his final four starts to end the year. Marquez was promoted to Triple-A on August 10 and went 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA (15er/31.0ip) and 29 strikeouts in five starts.

Patterson represented the Isotopes in the 2016 Triple-A All-Star Game at BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights. Patterson entered the game in the sixth inning in left field and received one at-bat, grounding out to the pitcher in the eighth inning. Hoffman and outfielders David Dahl and Raimel Tapia played in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in San Diego on July 10. Hoffman pitched a scoreless fourth inning while striking out one batter. Tapia started in left field for the World Team and scored two runs, produced two RBI, and hit a double in the game. Dahl went 0-for-2 at the plate, but did record an outfield assist throwing out Marlins farmhand Josh Naylor at home to end the sixth inning.

Promoted To COLORADO (22)
* Major League Debut
Pos. Player
C Dustin Garneau
RHP David Hale
RHP Carlos Estevez *
RHP Gonzalez Germen
RHP Scott Oberg
RHP Eddie Butler
RHP Jordan Lyles
RHP Miguel Castro
LHP Tyler Anderson *
LHP Yohan Flande
OF David Dahl *
INF Rafael Ynoa
INF Ben Paulsen
RHP Matt Carasiti *
RHP Christian Bergman
RHP Jeff Hoffman *
1B/OF Stephen Cardullo *
C Tom Murphy
OF Raimel Tapia *
RHP German Marquez *
1B/OF Jordan Patterson *
INF Pat Valaika *

Dahl played only 16 games for the Isotopes from July 4-23 before making his Major League debut with the Rockies, but was dominant during his brief time in Albuquerque. The 10th overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft hit safely 15 of the 16 games he played, hitting for a .484 average (30-for-62) with five home runs and 16 RBI. Dahl was the only Albuquerque player to hit an inside-the-park home run this season when he circled the bases on July 7 at Las Vegas.

Cardullo was the lone Isotope to receive a PCL Player of the Week award, earning the honor for his performance from August 8-14. Cardullo turned in a .417 batting average (10-for-24) in six games to go along with three doubles, three home runs, nine RBI, and two walks. The 28-year-old posted a .917 slugging percentage and a .444 on-base percentage. Cardullo's 22 total bases and six extra-base hits during the stretch also led the league.

Albuquerque ranked fourth in the PCL in fielding percentage (.982) in 2016, tying their team record from 2004 while committing a record-low 94 errors on the year. The Isotopes also placed third in the league in double plays turned (149) as well as outfield assists (40). The 40 outfield assists were one shy of the team record set in 2013 (41).

Isotopes catchers threw out 28% of potential basestealers (40 of 139) on the season, with Murphy catching 33% of attempts while he was behind the dish.

Albuquerque tallied 159 total transactions during the 2016 season. Twelve players, Shane Carle, Ryan Carpenter, Simon Castro, Nelson Gonzalez, Sam Moll, Brian Schlitter, Jeff Bianchi, Nelson, Smalling, Joey Wong, Patterson, and Tauchman spent the entire season with the Isotopes, with Castro, Patterson, and Tauchman being active for all 144 games. Twenty-two members of the Isotopes also appeared for the Colorado Rockies this season. Of those promoted to Colorado, 12 were on the Isotopes Opening Day roster. Twenty players made their Triple-A debut in 2016 with the Isotopes while Albuquerque hosted 14 Major League rehab assignments. Ten Isotopes players - Tyler Anderson, Matt Carasiti, Carlos Estevez, Hoffman, Marquez, Valaika, Cardullo, Dahl, Patterson, and Tapia - made their Major League debut during the 2016 campaign.

Isotopes Director of Field Operations Casey Griffin was named the Pacific Coast League's Sports Turf Manager of the Year, as voted by the league's 16 managers and coaching staffs. The 2016 campaign was Griffin's fourth season as Director of Field Operations, having originally joined the Isotopes organization in 2009. As a result of this accolade, he will now be nominated for Triple-A Groundskeeper of the Year as presented by the SportsTurf Managers Association.