2021 season recap

2021 Season Recap: A’s Finish Frustrating Year at 32-31

Posted: September 3, 2021

It wasn’t a bad year; it wasn’t a bad year at all.

But to hear the A’s brass talk, their 2021 team stunk up the house like a skunk unloading in a birdhouse.

“It was a very trying season,” manager Tim Moyer said.  “On paper, this team should have finished with a much better record than 32-31. We had one of the best pitching staffs I can recall.  Sometimes paper just doesn’t translate to execution.”

Sometimes the A’s brass have unrealistic expectations. Granted they put together a promising roster this spring, but the great expectations talk in the pre-season by Moyer and General Manage Denny Moyer, failed to take a couple of things into consideration.

The competition picked up considerably. Teams in both leagues improved dramatically. Green Bay, which finished last in the NEWBL, was 4-2 against the A’s. And Addison, which struggles every year to avoid the Wisconsin State League cellar, qualified through the Illinois regional and played in the national AABC tournament. There were no patsies on the A’s schedule. No built-in wins. Every game was a tough one. It was definitely an “any given day” year.

It cannot be overlooked that two people who would have made major contributions were not factors. Josh Moses (UW-Platteville Alum) was planning to return, but broke his hand in spring and was unavailable to play at all, and Colin Butkiewicz (Southern Illinois University Alum), an outstanding catcher, signed with the Milwaukee Milkmen of the American Association after just one week with the A’s. Moses hit .368 in 2017 and .327., in 2018. Butkiewicz hit .400 last year.

There is also a factor that fans do not consider. The A’s have a reputation as being winners. They customarily finish in the top three in the Wisconsin State League. Opponents rarely throw anybody but their top pitchers at the A’s.

“Not having Moses and Butkiewicz really exposed some holes in our line-up, but that said, “our young guys stepped up as the season went on. We had eight new players who competed regularly, and seven of them were freshmen in college.  As the year went on, they gained confidence and the game slowed down for them.”  

“Key injuries in the last weeks of the season tested our depth, but we played some of our best baseball during that stretch, no matter what our won-loss record says.” And the manager added, “I look forward to having them all back with another year of school under their belt. If our pitching comes back, we should have a much better record next year.”

The A’s 32-31 record this year saw them go 15-15 in the Wisconsin State League; 8-8 in the Northeastern Wisconsin League.  Every game was a tough one. The A’s were 6-4 in extra-inning games and 9-10 in 1-run games. They won the Northeastern Wisconsin Baseball League tournament championship and fell in extra-innings in the final game of the season, where a win would have given them the Wisconsin Class A State Championship. It truly was a white-knuckle year.

If one wanted to rap on the A’s, he would point out that they made too many errors and that they struck out too much.

For only the second time in their history (which now dates back more than a half-century), the A’s recorded more than 400 strikeouts. They were asked to leave the batter’s box 413 times in 2021. Only the 416 strikeouts of 2002 surpasses that. And they committed 104 errors for a .948 fielding percentage, a full 11 points lower than their opponents.

But not all was doom and gloom.

The A’s boasted an outstanding pitching staff this year with seven solid starters.

Jared Reklaitis (UW-Milwaukee Alum) was the leader with a 5-2 record, a 1.04 ERA, and WHIP of 1.000. Joey Pettit (UW-Whitewater) was 5-2, 2 saves, 2.20 and 1.122; Eric Schmitz (UW-Whitewater Alum) was 4-1, 2.21 and 1.158; Brad Rindfleisch (UW-Stout Alum) was 2.20, 3-5, 3 saves and 1.360; Davis Wilson (Marian University), 5-7, 3.53 and 1.398; Bryce Lovisa (Marian University) , 2-2, 3.76, and1.282; and Noah Imrie (Marian University) , 4-2, with a save, 4.88 and 1.611.

Mac Doherty (Marian University) was the most effective reliever with two wins and three saves in 17 appearances.

Reklaitis’ 1.04 earned run average was the third-best ever recorded in one season. Rick Reiss holds the record, 0.89 set in 1969. Cody Griebling came in at 0.95 in 2008.

While the failure to put the ball in play is the No. 1 excuse for a lack of hits, runs, and wins, a number of the A’s had good years at the plate.

The leader once again was Harry Steldt (UW-Stevens Point Alum). The A’s bomber hit .338 to mark the fourth time he has led the club in hitting (.347 in 2013, .395 in 2017, and .356 in 2018). He and Jacob Neese (Parkland Community College) played in all 63 games and he and Ross Krist (UW-Platteville) led in plate appearances, 259.  Steldt alone led in at-bats, 201; runs scored, 50; hits, 68; RBI, 48; sacrifice flies, 4; home runs, 11 (the most since Jason Bischoff hit 17 in 2002); and total bases, 113. He also led in on-base percentage, .471, and slugging, .562 for a rousing, 1.033 OPS. 2020’s MVP, Krist came in with a .300 average. 

The Sheboygan A's are members of the Wisconsin State League and Northeastern Wisconsin Baseball League. The A's have helped develop more than 43 players that have reached professional baseball, including 2002 World Series Champion Jarrod Washburn (Anaheim Angels). All Sheboygan A's home games are played at Wildwood Baseball Park in Sheboygan. Connect with the A's on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.