The Worcester Tornadoes and Grand Prairie AirHogs are about to begin a three-game set starting tonight at 7:05 p.m. so we wanted to give you some background on Grand Prairie. The first time we saw them on the schedule this offseason we were left with a blank stare when we saw the name, so hopefully this post will be informative and helpful if you’re coming out to the ballpark this week or just listening at home or following along or Facebook and Twitter.
1. Where Is Grand Prairie and Who Are These Guys?
Grand Prairie, Texas is a city of over 175,000 people just 16 miles away from Dallas, Texas. The area is known for their aviation industry and famous natives including former major league pitcher Kerry Wood and actress Selena Gomez.
The AirHogs have been around since 2008 when they began playing in the American Association. They have won the South Division title twice in four years and last season the AirHogs defeated the St. Paul Saints to win their first ever league title. Only seven players return from last season’s championship squad, but the team did add former major leaguer Brian Myrow. The first baseman was signed by the Yankees in 2001 and and got his break when he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004 for Worcester native Tanyon Sturtze. Myrow played in 52 games over three years with the Dodgers and San Diego Padres, collecting eight hits and one home run in 51 at bats.
2. Balanced Offense
Grand Prairie has just one hitter in the top nine in the American Association in batting average, home runs and RBI but the roster is loaded with talented hitters from top to bottom. Seven of the 13 position players who have made an appearance this season are hitting over .300 and the AirHogs as a team are hitting a ridiculous .296 batting average. That same balance can be seen in the team’s RBI totals, as seven Grand Prairie hitters have recorded at least 15 RBI and four players have five or more home runs.
3. Interleague Domination
The AirHogs are beginning their fourth of six series of interleague play this season and they’ve been quite successful thus far. Grand Prairie holds an 8-2 record between a home series against Newark and road series against Rockland and New Jersey with both losses coming by a single run. In their lone loss against Rockland, the AirHogs jumped out to a 4-2 lead after five innings, before Rockland scored three runs over the final three innings to earn the win. In the New Jersey series, the AirHogs lost a heartbreaker in Game One, falling 10-9 in 16 innings in the opener, despite holding two separate leads, including an 8-6 lead in the top of the fifteenth.
4. Pitching Wins Championships
Pitching has been the key to the AirHogs success as Grand Prairie sits in first place in the South Division of the American Association with a 24-12 record. Grand Prairie has allowed the fewest hits, runs, earned runs, walks and wild pitches in the American Association and the staff carries a 3.47 ERA overall. Pitchers John Brownell, Jakob Cunningham and Lance Janke are three of the seven players returning from last season’s championship squad and they’ve been a huge part of the pitching staff’s dominance.