Sioux City, IA – With 2019 drawing to a close in a little over a month it is a time to reflect on Sioux City Explorers baseball over the last decade.
The Explorers enjoyed their most successful decade since becoming a franchise. Winning 533 games, a winning percentage of .535 higher than the previous two decades (90’s – .519, 2000’s – .454). The Explorers saw three managers in the last ten years with Les Lancaster for one of his three seasons in 2010, going 49-47 (.510). The next three seasons Stan Cliburn went 134-166 (.447). The most success however was had by current manager Steve Montgomery who took over in 2014. In the past six seasons the X’s have gone 350-250 (.583). The team has made the playoffs four times in his six seasons.
All of the success from these managers however could not have been without the players on the field winning those games. Through the team’s Facebook (Sioux City Explorers) and Twitter (@SiouxCityXs), fans were asked to vote on who they believed were the top players at each position from 2010 to 2019. The players listed below are the Sioux City Explorers All-Decade Team as decided by the fans.
Dylan Kelly (2017-19) – Kelly has been the Explorers main backstop for the last three seasons, he has played in 242 games in an Explorers uniform with 219 of those coming behind the plate. Over the past two seasons he has led the American Association in games caught. Kelly has thrown out 42 would be base stealers including a career high 24 last season and has committed only 6 errors. He has hit .292 in his three seasons with the X’s with six homers, 43 doubles, 117 RBI’s and 86 runs scored.
Kent Sakamoto (2010-11) – Sakamoto’s two seasons with Sioux City were highly productive. His .330 career average sits fifth in franchise history. He swatted 17 homers, drove in 132 RBI and scored 124 runs. His .347 batting average in 2011 ranks as the 7th best for a single season in X’s history. Of the 176 games Sakamoto played, 136 were at first base.
Ryan Court (2015) – was an integral part of the historic 75 win, 2015 team which was his lone season in Sioux City. That year he hit .331, swatting nine homers, driving in 52 runs, scoring 65 himself, and swiped 15 bags. Whats more incredible is that 2015 was his first season ever playing second base professionally. Court made his major league debut last season on July 26th for the Seattle Mariners.
Jose Sermo (2018-19) – Sermo has spent two seasons with the Explorers. The 2018 season was especially memorable as he took home league MVP honors, becoming just the third player in league history and first in X’s history to put together a 20 homer/20 stolen base season. His 22 homers that season are the second most in X’s single season history. Between his two seasons here Sermo has played in 187 games, hitting 35 homers, 45 doubles and eight triples. He has a .286 average with the X’s, with 158 RBI and 45 stolen bases.
Nate Samson (2014, 2016-19) – Samson has firmly entrenched himself into upper echelon of Explorers greats this decade. You would find his name near the top of many offensive categories. He has played in the third most games in franchise history at 408. His 541 career hits with Sioux City now sit second behind Michael Lang’s 642. He is second in both RBI with 274 and doubles with 95. In his five seasons with the team he has hit for a .332 average, stolen 95 bases and has struck out only 98 times compared to his 149 walks. He has twice set the X’s single season record for hits. Breaking Noah Perio’s record in 2016 with 137 and then breaking his own in 2018 with 141, also winning the batting title that year at .340. In 2016 Samson also became the first ever Sioux City Explorers to win the league MVP award.
Michael Lang (2012-19) – Michael Lang was a main stay in right field for the Explorers for the past six seasons in an Explorers uniform and has played in seven total. Lang has played the most games in a Sioux City uniform with 538. Lang also leads the X’s in career franchise hits with 642 and became only the thirteenth player in league history to reach the 600 hit mark. Lang also leads the franchise in runs (432) doubles (106), triples (32), total bases (912), at bats (2,135), plate appearances (2,421), hit by pitch (52) and strikeouts (473). He finishes with the second most stolen bases in franchise history with 143, which is 25 short of Nolan Lane’s 168. He also holds the single season records for triples (’15 – 10) and stolen bases (’15 – 45). Lang during his seven seasons slashed 301/.370/.428, hit 34 home runs and collected 172 extra base hits.
Peter Barrows (2012-14) – Barrows played parts of three seasons with the X’s from 2012-2014. During that time he was one of the X’s biggest offensive contributors. He hit for a .282 average, driving in 179 RBI, scoring 150 runs and knocking 62 doubles. In back to back seasons, 2013 and 2014 he led the team in both homers (13,17) and RBI (55,76). His 41 career homers with Sioux City are the fourth most in franchise history.
Tony Campana (2017) – Campana spent one spectacular season in Sioux City. The former big leaguer showed off his famous speed with 35 stolen bases, good for 4th in the league that season. Campana also took home defensive player of the year honors committing only two errors, compiling a fielding percentage of .992 and finding himself on SportsCenter’s top ten plays. That season he hit .301 with 59 runs scored nine doubles and a homer.
Patrick Johnson (2014-15) – In two seasons Johnson made himself the standard for Explorers starting pitchers in his two years he racked up the third most wins in team history with 24, an ERA of 3.22 and the third most strikeouts in X’s history with 238. However he is most remembered for his dominant 2015 season. He went 15-1 that season, good for the most wins in both league and X’s history. the fifth best single season ERA at a minuscule 2.08 and the most strikeouts in a single season with 132. All of those numbers helped him net the league’s Pitcher of the Year award.
Taylor Jordan (2018-19) – The former big leaguer was with the X’s for the past two seasons, offering consistency when he took the mound. In those two seasons he made 35 starts putting together a 16-12 record and a an ERA of 3.97. He had 168 strikeouts in in 220 innings pitched and walked only 56. He had three complete games, with one of those being this past season on June 6th against the Winnipeg Goldeyes which had also been manager Steve Montgomery’s 300th win as X’s manager.
Ryan Zimmerman (2015-16) – In two seasons with the X’s Zimmerman had a 3.73 ERA and a 17-11 record but what he is on this list for is his historic 2015 season. That year he went 14-2, second most wins in X’s history. With an ERA of 1.80. He was the main catalyst behind the X’s league record 3.04 ERA that season. He also set a league record of holding opponents to a .190 batting average. He struck out 96 batters that season and walked only 37 in 120.1 innings pitched.
Chris Bodishbaugh (2012-15) – As the primary closer for three straight seasons Bodishbaugh has the most saves this decade and tied for the second most in X’s team history with 44. In his three plus seasons with Sioux City he held a 3.16 ERA, appearing in 112 games and compiling 138 strikeouts, a K/9 of 8.9.
Rob Wort (2014-16) – Made exactly 100 pitching appearances in three years for Sioux City. In those three seasons he had ERA’s of 0.97, 1.79 and 2.38. A total X’s career ERA of 1.80 which is the best in franchise history. Wort compiled 220 strikeouts during his time with Sioux City leading to a franchise record 12.7 K/9, and averaged another franchise record of 1.4 strikeouts per inning. During the 75 win 2015 season, Wort had career highs in wins (11), games (41) and innings pitched (65.1).
The Explorers 28th season in Sioux City opens at the Kansas City T-Bones on May 19th, 2020, the home opener is May 26th, 2020 against the Sioux Falls Canaries.