Fisher Cats set for Eastern League playoffs

The regular season is over and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats are ready for their first playoff appearance in six years. Here’s a quick recap of where things stand after Labor Day weekend at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium

A season of potentv offense

If Vladimir Guerrero Jr. stayed in New Hampshire for the entire season, there is little doubt he would have been the Eastern League’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year on the strength of his first two months alone. Instead, both of those honors went to Fisher Cat second baseman Cavan Biggio.

Like Guerrero, Biggio is also the son of a Hall of Famer, although he came into the season with far less fanfare. Guerrero’s name may have made the Fisher Cat record books if he stayed or remained healthy, as he led the league in RBI for several weeks after his early June leg injury.

Instead, Biggio leaves 2018 with that distinction, setting a single-season Fisher Cats record in walks (100), and coming up just short of new franchise records in home runs (26) and RBI (99).

“I’m really happy for Cavan, all the work he put in, he had a great first year in Double-A,” said Fisher Cats manager John Schneider.

Bo Bichette came up just five hits shy of setting a franchise record in that category ending the year as the league’s run scored leader (95) by a wide margin.

Also of note, Harold Ramirez won the Eastern League’s batting title with a .320 mark, surpassing the .311 franchise high set by Travis d’Arnaud in 2011.

Manchester’s role in

Guerrero’s future

Although Toronto general manager Ross Atkins indicated this weekend that Guerrero won’t get time in the big leagues this September, with the departure of Josh Donaldson at the waiver deadline, its likely that the starting job at Rogers Center will be his to earn in 2019.

If Fisher Cat fans get a shot to see him at Fenway in future years, they can think back to memorable moments he provided this season, a season that Schneider says combined with his innate talent to make him ready for the show.

“Vlady’s really an obviously talented player on both sides of the ball,” said Schneider. “We feel good about the work that he did when he was here, and we feel good about the progress he had when he was here.”

Guerrero’s Triple-A season ended on Monday. He is expected at the Arizona Fall League.

Playoff time

Biggio wasn’t the only Fisher Cat earning accolades this week, the Eastern League also announced Schneider as its Manager of the Year, the third time a Fisher Cat manager has gotten that award.

The previous two times a Fisher Cat manager has earned that award (Mike Basso in 2004 and Sal Fasano in 2011), New Hampshire won the pennant. That, combined with the fact that Schneider already won a championship in the Short Season-A Northwest League (2014) and a co-championship Florida State League (2017) provide a positive augury for this postseason.

The Fisher Cats begin their playoff run on Wednesday in Manchester against Trenton.

Trenton, the New York Yankees’ Double-A affiliate, had a 9-7 record against New Hampshire this season.

Despite the fact that New Hampshire held first place in the Eastern Division for all but 17 games this season, Trenton clinched home field for the series this week thanks to a sweep in Reading and New Hampshire’s three losses in their final four games of the regular season.

Along with this year’s contests between the two teams, the upcoming playoff series serves as a quasi-rematch of last year’s Florida State League semifinal, with the nuclei of both squads in that matchup composing the core of this year’s Fisher Cat and Thunder rosters.