One year after recording the best winning percentage in professional baseball, the Quad-Cities River Bandits went quietly in 2016.
The Midwest League season ended Monday with a 12-1 victory at Burlington, leaving manager Omar Lopez’s team with a 61-78 record that included losses in 17 of the last 21 games.
The victory total is the lowest for Quad-Cities since the franchise finished with an identical 61-78 mark in 2009.
“This isn’t the way we wanted our season to go,’’ said infielder Dexture McCall, a .286 hitter who was one of four position players to spend the entire season with the River Bandits.
“We were never able to get any momentum going and make it work for us. Everybody fought and competed, it wasn’t a lack of effort, but that didn’t lead to wins for us.’’
Consistency was a season-long issue.
The River Bandits were the only team in the Midwest League to not sweep a series this season, and the only win streak that reached four games was one that ran from April 19-22 that came after the team started the season with a 2-10 record.
Quad-Cities did pull to within four games of .500, 57-61, before its late-season slide, a slump that saw the River Bandits’ offense grind to a halt.
The team labored offensively throughout much of the season with a collective batting average of .237 that ranks 13th among 16 Midwest League teams.
But, an offense that had been averaging 3.97 runs per game has only averaged 2.7 runs since leadoff batter Myles Straw and his .374 batting average and clean-up hitter Kyle Tucker, the fifth overall pick in baseball’s 2015 draft, were promoted by the Astros to high-A Lancaster in mid-August.
“I cannot say as a manager that we are satisfied with the overall results we had as a team this season and in a lot of ways, we worked with two teams, the guys who were here early and what is pretty much a new team that is here now,’’ Lopez said.
“We had a lot of guys do good things individually at times and development and growth is a big part of what we do here. That part, to see guys move up, is satisfying. We’ve gotten guys ready to go to the next level.’’
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Straw and Tucker, currently hitting .319 and .339 respectively in the California League, are among 14 players who saw action for Quad-Cities in 2016 who helped Lancaster clinch the second-half title in the South Division of the California League earlier this weekend.
Four more, pitchers Rogelio Armenteros, Ryan Deemes and Jacob Dorris and infielder Antonio Nunez, have advanced two levels in the Houston farm system and will participate in the Texas League playoffs for Corpus Christi.
Quad-Cities’ season-ending roster includes 13 players who started the current season with Greeneville or Tri-City, short-season clubs in the Astros farm system.
Lopez believes a number of them will return to the Midwest League to start the 2017 season.
“It is a young group right now and this has been a test for them,’’ Lopez said. “It has given them a chance to experience what this level is about. It should send them into the offseason with a good idea of what they need to do to compete here next year. It has been a tough few weeks, but this will help them.’’