2017 Nashville Sounds Season in Review

By Nashville Sounds | September 11, 2017 3:01 PM

 

Nashville Sounds fans flocked to First Tennessee Park in record numbers in 2017, the 40th season in franchise history. The ball club concluded the season with 68 wins and 71 losses to finish in second place in the American Southern Division. Nashville spent 131 days out of 160 in second place.

593,679 fans came through the gates in 2017 to set a new ballpark record and the 8,861 fans per game paced the Pacific Coast League. Seven of the ten largest crowds in First Tennessee Park history occurred in 2017 including the largest ever on July 3 against Oklahoma City when 11,764 fans came out to watch the Sounds and the Dodgers. There were 22 sellouts out of 67 openings after 33 sellouts in 2015 and 2016 combined.

64 players donned the Sounds colors this season, 25 position players and 39 pitchers. Seven of them were called up by the Oakland Athletics to make their MLB debuts. Infielders Franklin Barreto and Matt Chapman each got the call along with pitchers Paul Blackburn, Michael Brady, Daniel Gossett, Sam Moll, and Bobby Wahl.

Renato Nunez, Chris Smith, and Paul Blackburn were each selected to represent the Sounds and the Pacific Coast League in the Triple-A All Star Game but both Smith and Blackburn were called up prior to the event. Nuñez participated in the Home Run Derby and took home Game MVP honors as his three-run home run helped the Pacific Coast League defeat the International League 6-4. Both Blackburn and Smith pitched in 15 games for the Sounds before being called up. Blackburn went 5-6 with a 3.05 ERA while Smith posted a 4-3 record with an ERA of 3.16.

Nuñez continued to mash in the second half of the season en route to PCL postseason All-Star honors and was selected as the Sounds Team MVP. The native of Venezuela batted .249 (118-for-473) with 27 doubles, 32 home runs, and 78 RBI. His 32 home runs are tied for fifth on the Sounds single season home runs list and second in all of MiLB. His 55 career home runs for the Sounds are fourth in franchise history.

Pitcher Tucker Healy was selected as the Community MVP for his generosity throughout the season. Healy donated his time to help out with youth clinics, visit patients at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, and more. Healy was a key cog in the Sounds bullpen, appearing in a team-high 35 games including a combined no-hitter on June 7 before landing on the disabled list in early August. He posted a 4.64 ERA in 42 2/3 innings including a stretch of nine consecutive scoreless outings from April 23-May 26.

Sounds catcher Ryan Lavarnway was voted as the Fan Favorite. It became a pregame routine for Lavarnway to play catch with young fans along the third base line. Like Healy, Lavarnway was generous with his time as he assisted with youth camps, visited patients at the hospital, and participated in the Ashley HomeStore Hope to Dream event. Lavarnway split time with the Sounds and Oakland this season. He played in 82 games for the Sounds and batted .239 (63-for-264) with six home runs and 26 runs driven in.

Three Sounds garnered Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Week honors. Daniel Gossett took home the award for the week of May 22-28. On May 22 the right-hander tossed eight shutout innings against the Sacramento River Cats while allowing just four hits with no walks and six strikeouts. Then on May 27 against Colorado Springs he threw six more shutout innings while yielding just a pair of hits with no walks and eight punch outs.

Chris Smith was honored with the award after hurling six no-hit innings at Omaha on June 7. Smith along with Healy, rehabbing Sean Doolittle, and Simon Castro delivered the Pacific Coast League's seventh combined no-hitter as the Sounds blanked the Storm Chasers 4-0. It was also the seventh no-hitter in franchise history and first since Manny Parra's no-no at Round Rock in 2007. One month later Smith was called up by Oakland and became the A's oldest ever pitcher to make his first career MLB start.

Ben Bracewell became the third and final Sounds player to collect PCL Pitcher of the Week honors. From August 21-27 the right-hander went 2-0 with a pair of shutout performances in 13 innings of work. He allowed a combined seven hits while fanning 10 batters in wins over Iowa and Round Rock.

The Sounds boasted one of the most powerful lineups in MiLB in the early part of the season prior to Chapman's call up to the big leagues in mid-June. Chapman along with Nuñez and Matt Olson formed one of the most formidable trios in all of professional baseball as they clubbed 50 home runs from the beginning of the season until Chapman's call up on June 14. The only trio that belted more than them was in the Majors where Cincinnati's Scott Schebler, Joey Votto, and Adam Duvall had hit 52 up to that point. Nashville finished with 159 long balls, which was good for fourth in the PCL and the most for the Sounds since 2007 when they also hit 159 home runs.

Chapman excelled during his tenure with the Sounds as he showed why scouts view him as an elite defender at third base. He showed his power at the plate as well, belting 16 home runs and driving in 30 in just 49 games before making his MLB debut.

23 different pitchers started a game for the Sounds led by Zach Neal's 16. Gossett and Blackburn each had 14. The 4.37 team ERA was good for fifth in the PCL and the team walked 411 batters, which was the third lowest in the league. Corey Walter was the lone pitcher on the circuit to toss two complete games.

Second baseman Joey Wendle excelled on the diamond for the Sounds as he climbed the franchise's all time hitting charts. Wendle became the franchise's all-time doubles leader with 102 from 2015-17 and moved into fourth in hits (440), fifth in triples (25), fifth in runs scored (229), sixth in at-bats (1,546), and tenth in games played (380). Wendle received a call up to Oakland following the Sounds season in which he batted .285 (136-for-478) in 118 games with 67 runs, 29 doubles, 8 triples, 8 home runs, 54 RBI, and 13 stolen bases.

21-year-old Franklin Barreto made his presence felt for the Sounds in his first full season at Triple-A. He earned his first ever call up to the big leagues in late June and was promoted again when the rosters expanded in September. The A's top prospect appeared in 111 games for the Sounds and hit .290 (136-for-469) with 63 runs scored, 19 doubles, seven triples, 15 home runs, 54 runs driven in, and 15 stolen bases. His 15 home runs set a new career-high.

Strikeouts were an offensive epidemic for the Sounds in 2017. Barreto and Nuñez each struck out 141 times, which is tied for eighth in Sounds single-season history. Overall Nashville was fanned 1,217 times to set a new franchise record.

Yairo Munoz was another one of Nashville's most exciting players this season. The young prospect was transferred to the Sounds from Double-A Midland on June 23 and immediately made an impact while learning to play the outfield. The career infielder saw time at third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions and hit .289 with nine doubles, a triple, seven home runs, 42 runs batted in, and ten stolen bases in 65 games. Muñoz recorded five straight multi-hit games (August 26-30) during his eight-game hitting streak from August 24-September 1. His breakout game came on July 15 in Omaha when he drove in a career-high five runs.

The Sounds made 180 transactions during the 2017 campaign including one prior to the first game. Pitcher Jesse Hahn was recalled by Oakland when John Axford was placed on the 10-Day Disabled List. Axford was one of 15 Oakland A's players to make appearances with the Sounds on rehab assignments along with Wahl, Wendle, Daniel Mengden, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Sean Doolittle, Marcus Semien, Chad Pinder, Kendall Graveman, Jharel Cotton, Ryan Dull, Josh Phegley, Jake Smolinski, and former Smyrna High School and Vanderbilt standout Sonny Gray. Gray started against the New Orleans Baby Cakes on April 27 and tossed six shutout innings while fanning seven in his lone Sounds appearance.

Nashville walked-off eight times at First Tennessee Park over the course of the 2017 season. Seven different players recorded walk-off hits and one came in to score on an error. Matt McBride belted a walk-off two-run home run in the 12th inning against New Orleans on May 1 and Matt Olson blasted a three-run shot in the seventh inning in the night cap of a doubleheader on June 20 against New Orleans as well. The Sounds posted back-to-back walk-off victories over Oklahoma City on July 1 & 2. Marcus Semien singled home a pair of runs on July 1 and Jaff Decker scored from third on an error by former Sound Max Muncy on July 2.

The month of May was prosperous for the Sounds in 2017. The offense crushed 46 home runs, more than any team in all of professional baseball and the pitching staff posted a PCL-best 3.38 ERA while also leading the league with five shutouts. The 46 home runs were the most a Sounds team hit in a single month since 2005. Chapman led the way with 11, which were the second most for any Sounds player in a month in that same time.

The Sounds were consistent for the entirety of the season as they never had an extended winning or losing streak. The ball club never won more than four games in a row and never dropped more than five in a row. They were swept once and completed one series sweep themselves, the final series of the season against New Orleans.

Seven different players recorded hitting streaks of at least ten games. Wendle and Kenny Wilson each posted 12-game streaks to lead the team. Wilson went 12 consecutive games with a base hit from April 10-24 while Wendle did so from July 5-20. Mark Canha reached base safely in 22 straight ball games for the Sounds from April 22-June 17. Matt Olson reached base safely in all 34 road games he played in for the Sounds in 2017 and the streak extends to 39 games dating back to the end of the 2016 season.

The Sounds were noticeably better away from First Tennessee Park for the second straight season. Nashville went 37-33 on the road as opposed to 31-38 at home. On the road the team hit .277 with 382 runs, 122 doubles, 20 triples, and 103 home runs compared to a .244 batting average with 273 runs, 104 doubles, 15 triples, and 56 home runs at First Tennessee Park.

A franchise milestone was achieved this season at home against the Oklahoma City Dodgers. The very last hit recorded by the Sounds in June was the 50,000th in team history. Beau Taylor's ninth inning double reached the milestone in Nashville's 12-6 loss to Oklahoma City on June 30.

Taylor joined the Sounds midway through the season after spending parts of the last six seasons in Double-A. The catcher appeared in 41 games for Nashville and batted .289 (41-for-142) with six doubles, three home runs, and 17 RBI.

Just two Sounds players spent the entire season with the ball club and never went on the disabled list. Nuñez and McBride earned that distinction although McBride broke a bone in his wrist in the final home game of the season. Despite the injury he was not placed on the disabled list for the final four games of the season. McBride, in his second season with Nashville, appeared in 79 games for the Sounds. He played first base 23 times, catcher 27 times, and in the outfield 21 times. He batted .231 (58-for-251) and with 19 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, and 49 RBI.

Most Starts by Position
C - Ryan Lavarnway, 56
1B - Matt Olson, 71
2B - Joey Wendle, 81
SS - Franklin Barreto, 83
3B - Matt Chapman, 49
LF - Renato Nuñez, 47
CF - Jaff Decker, 42
RF - Mark Canha, 61
DH - Renato Nuñez, 30

 

Batting Leaders

Batting Average  Franklin Barreto .290
Games Played Renato Nunez 126
At-Bats Joey Wendle 478
Hits Joey Wendle/Franklin Barreto 136
Total Bases Renato Nunez 245
Runs Scored Renato Nunez 74
Runs Batted In Renato Nunez 78
Home Runs Renato Nunez 32
Triples Joey Wendle 8
Doubles Joey Wendle 29
Stolen Bases Franklin Barreto/Jaff Decker 15
Walks Renato Nunez 47
Strikeouts Franklin Barreto/Renato Nunez 141


Pitching Leaders

Earned Run Average (min. 40 IP) Paul Blackburn 3.05
Games Tucker Healy 35
Games Started Zach Neal 16
Wins Blackburn/Bracewell/Jensen 5
Losses Zach Neal 8
Saves Alcantara/Castro/Trivino 4
Complete Games Corey Walter 2
Strikeouts Daniel Gossett 71
Innings Pitched Zach Neal 99.0
Hits Allowed Zach Neal 115
Runs Allowed Chris Jensen 59
Walks Allowed Chris Jensen 29
Home Runs Allowed Zach Neal 9

 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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