Archive for November 2011

Division Play In Series Season 21 Recap

National League

The big surprise was Richmond upending the defending World Series champs Austin.  There were high expectations for Richmond coming into this season in a weak division with a veteran ball club, but they had a down year and are only in the playoffs because of how weak their division is.  But with 3 quality starts from veteran pitchers and OT Sears hitting .364 with a pair of homers and 4 RBI, the walked away with 4 close victories.   Austin hit the ball well, with Butch Gwynn and Julio Trevino each hitting .417 for the series, but they just didn’t get the hits when they needed them.  Richmond goes on to face World Series favorite Tampa Bay and showed they shouldn’t be overlooked in a short series.

While New York was the higher seed, they beat favored Honolulu in 5 games to make it 2 NL teams with losing records moving onto the DCS. New York went up 2-0 on the Hawaiians, but saw the Noka Oi take 2 at home to even up the series and send it to its final game.  In the deciding game 5, Brandon Foster pitched a gem for New York, going 7 annd 2/3s and giving up only 1 run.  Veteran leader Ryne Magruder struggled for Honolulu, hitting only .167 and fans are blaming him for their playoff woes as he hit only .188 in their first round loss last season.  New York moves on to face 2 seed Los Angeles.  Some think they have a shot, but they are fatigued and mentally drained after a tough series and Foster won’t eb able pitch until game 3 at the earliest.  With only one game of Foster in the series, New York stands little chance.  Look for LA to win in 4.

Predicted NL Divisional championship: LA vs Tampa Bay

 

American League

Scottsdale played as expected and made quick work of Vancouver.  Don Hunter, who has been overlooked all season and snubbed as an MVP candidate, powered the lineup hitting .500 with 3 doubles, a pair of RBI, and 4 runs scored.  Vancouver’s Garret Vernon did his best to get the lineup going, hitting .533 with 8 hits and a pair of stolen bases, but the lead off hitter didn’t have the support behind him or on the mound to overcome Scottsdale.  Scottsdale moves on to face El Paso.  Considering there were only 4 games separating the top 5 teams in the AL, the next round should prove to be unpredictable.  But since I always pick against El Paso and never pick against Scottsdale except in the World Series, Scottsdale is favored to win and move on to the league championship.

Tacoma and Ottawa was the back and forth bloodbath we all expected, but with a twist.  While most series see the home teams dominate, Tacoma jumped up 2-0 in Ottawa and looked to make quick work of their foes, but Ottawa took the next 2 in Tacoma to send it to a game 5.  Back home and with momentum, Ronnie Crosby hit a solo shot for Ottawa in the first inning and it looked like Ottawa had everything going its way.  Joaquin Baez hit his second homer of the series for Tacoma in the 2nd to tie it up, but Shigetoshi Kwon put Ottawa back up in the 4th with an solo shot.    Still up 2-1, Ottawa brought closer RJ Milton in early at the start of the 8th inning.  After 2 singles and a walk, he walked in the tying run.  Ottawa brought in Benito Ordonez, who has been lights out all season, but Damaso Alvarado connected with a fastball and sent into the right field stands for a grand slam to put Tacoma up 6-2 and move them on to the next round.  Edwin Sauveur pitched a gem for Tacoma, pitching all but one out of the game and giving up only the 2 solo homers with 5 strikeouts.  Tacoma moves on to face surprise top seed Rochester.  Riding the momentum of this series and having ace Frank DeHart ready to go in game 1, Tacoma is favored but it is going to be a close series.

Predicted AL championship series: Tacoma takes on Scottsdale in an AL West showdown.

Wednesday Wrap – The Super Late Expanded Edition

Sorry everyone, I have a ton of excuses as to why there has been no Wednesday wrap for a month, all equally valid and true, but you get out of the habit and it’s easy to just forget after a while.  But here is to getting back into the swing just in time for the playoff stretch!  Since it is late, I’m giving you a super sized version with predictions on every division race and every award.

1.  NL North (predicting New York as the winner)

2 sub .500 teams battling for the top and it is not the worst division in this league.  Augusta is an up and comer who has the young talent to take over this division for a long time, but I have this feeling the Evil Empire is going to find a way to win.  They both have weak schedules down the stretch, so the division will probably be decided primarily by an upcoming series between the two starting tomorrow.

2. NL East (predicting that no one deserves to win)

The NL East is the new AL North.  Richmond fans are scratching their heads over their team being sub .500, Toledo fans are shaking their heads in disbelief over being tied for the division lead, Indy fans have raised eyebrows over the Arf Sox being better than the Colts, and Washington fans are shrugging their shoulders when asked whether they are trying to win or not.  Anyone could potentially win this division down the stretch, but it is stupid that Richmond is not at least 10 games up.  They are the most talented team and should pull away down the stretch.  But who knows with this division this year.

3. NL South (predicting Tampa Bay)

Tampa has really flexed their muscle this year and proven themselves to be the best team in the NL.  Austin would be in the race in any other division and is still going to be a threat when October rolls around.

4. NL West (predicting Los Angeles)

So LA is not a fluke.  I was wrong.  That’s the last time you’ll see that sentence from me so enjoy it while it is there.  Honolulu has had another solid year, but they can’t keep up with LA.  The real story is Sacramento’s collapse and subsequent selling mode.  Can they rebuild quickly next year around Neruda?

5. NL Wildcard (predicting Austin and Honolulu)

The NL really sucks this year.  There is not real wild card race barring a collapse on Honolulu’s part and a huge end of the season by New Orleans or Memphis.  When 2 divisions are being fought over by sub .500 teams, it is no wonder the wild card is so boring.

6. AL North (predicting Ottawa)

After 3 straight division titles and 90 win seasons, Vancouver dropped off last season to 78 wins and a distant second place finish.  They are back to their old self again and should get to the 90 win plateau, but Ottawa is the better team now.  Vancouver has a chance, but they would have to sweep Ottawa in their remaining series and hope for Ottawa to lose some games they should win along the way.  It’s Ottawa’s division to lose now.

7. AL East (predicting Rochester)

Rochester won their first division title in franchise history last season and decided they liked the feeling.  They are running awya with the division this year and may have enough veteran leadership to make some noise come postseason time.

8. AL South (predicting El Paso can’t possibly blow this lead)

But if any one can, it’s them.  KC would be in the mix if not for a rough mid season stretch and a losing record at home.  El Paso is also competing for the best record in the AL, so they should be on their A game down the stretch.

9. AL West (predicting Scottsdale)

This is obviously the toughest division to predict and the best race out of any considering these are the best two teams in the AL.  Tacoma plays on the road alot down the stretch, but I think the deciding factor will be the season ending series between the two where Scottsdale has the home field advantage.  If that series were in Tacoma, I would be predicting their victory.

10.  AL Wild Card (Tacoma and Vancouver)

The loser of the West is obvious, but who gets in between Vancouver and Kansas City? Vancouver is the biggest surprise of this season after a down season 20 and they have tough series remaining against Ottawa and Scottsdale.  But I am predicting them over Kansas City for one main reason; so Evan can blame me for jinxing his team again.  I called them a surprise team to watch at the beginning of the season and everyone said the hex was on, so now KC fans can blame themselves if they fail to overtake Vancouver!

11. Early World Series Prediction

Tampa Bay versus Scottsdale with Tampa winning in 6.  In the AL, I think Scottsdale is going to pull out a tough division race, get a bye to rest and Tacoma will get “upset” in the first round by Ottawa after the emotional let down of losing the division.  Rochester will get the second bye and El Paso will also get upset by  Vancouver.  Vancouver will also upend Rochester and go on to face Scottsdale after they knock off Otttawa in 7 games.  But the wild card run will end with a sweep by Scottsdale.  Tampa Bay will get the #1 seed and will easily beat Honolulu who swept New York in the first round.  Richmond and Austin will go 5 games in the first round and Austin will move forward and take out #2 seed LA, setting up the NL South showdown everyone expects.  Tampa will get stretched to 7 games by Austin, but pull out an extra innings victory in game 7 to move on to the Series.  Then the NL South will continue it’s World Series dominance and beat the Buffalo Bills, err, the St. Louis/ Scottsdale Skyscrapers.  Sorry to make the obvious prediction of sabres losing, but that’s how I see it!

11. MVP awards

The AL race is very tough to choose this year, and I think it will come down to Baker and Hartzull.  I’m giving the edge right now to Von Baker as I think he is the main reason El Paso is as good as they are this year, but any of the current nominees could have a great last month and steal this award.  Stan Fisher should run away with the NL voting as he will be near 60 home runs and that number always gets the voters attention with the kind of numbers he has surrounding it.

12. Cy Young awards

The NL race is ridiculous this year.  I’m tossing out both relievers in spite of their absurd numbers because it is near impossible for a reliever to get this award when there are good starters to choose from.  If the voting were today, I believe Joaquin Guerrero would win.  He has the lowest win total, but also the lowest loss total.  He has less innings so less Ks and a higher WHIP than Sherman, but that sub 2 era with a 14-2 record would jump out at voters.  But I think at the end of the season, it is going to be Neruda.  I think he’s going to get the starts needed to push up his win total, Sherman already has more losses which seems to stand out to voters, and barring a bad start, Neruda is going to have the higher innings and Ks and probably wins to go along with a similar WHIP and ERA.  But if Guerrero maintains an ERA below 2, it’s his award to lose.  In the AL, it is between Esteban Cubillan and Frank Dehart.  Trace Woods is a dark horse as he should have over 20 wins and the highest win total, but his WHIP is going to be high enough that I think most voters will look past him.  Cubillan has the more impressive record and should get to 20 wins, but Dehart is going to come in with an ERA and WHIP that are noticeably lower.  2 or 3 less wins usually don’t matter to voters when there’s s substantial ERA and WHIP difference and then factor in that DeHart has thrown an impressive 8 complete games and he is the odds on favorite.

13. Fireman of the Year awards

Since saves are really the only criteria here since we don’t get to vote (which by the way is one of the dumbest things about the awards), Hal Wagner and R.J. Milton should maintain their leads and win this award in their respective leagues.

14. Rookie of the Year awards

This is always the hardest award to predict because you never know what people will value when comparing pitchers and hitters, but I think a couple of pitchers are worthy of the award this year.  Frank Burton is 8-3 for Charlotte and has posted solid numbers all year.  with the hitters in the AL all looking similar, I think he should stand out from this crowd and has a bright future in the bigs.  Boomer Hoffman (yes, I am biased) is only 9-7, but with a 2.10 ERA and 1.08 WHIP he has been the best rookie pitcher around.  Al Medrano could easily win with a great season as a rookie closer and Theodore Poole is already over 30 homers and 100 RBI and could easily have the power numbers that easily impress voters.

All Time Leaders

Hits
1. Luther Aldred 3031
2. Alfonzo Cruz 3004
3. Ugueth Moya 2830
4. Orlando Lee 2736
5. Alan Vickers 2643

Home Runs
1. Alfonzo Cruz 811
2. Dan Thompson 749
3. Ugueth Moya 686
4. Jerome Duran 633
5. Ivan Mantalban 602

OPS
1. Rusty Laker 1.021
2. Dan Thompson 1.020
3. Ugueth Moya .989
4. Matty Bennet .984
5. Emil Wilkinson .975

Wins
1. Fernando Neruda 352
2. Geronimo Flores 310
3. Esteban Cubillan 275
4. Frank Dehart 263
5. Shawn Radlosky 257

Strikeouts
1. Fernando Neruda 5038
2. Geronimo Flores 3866
3. Frank Dehart 3356
4. Esteban Cubillan 2955
5. Shawn Radlosky 2871

Saves
1. Jesus Torrealba 694
2. Hal Wagner 636
3. Charles Hall 575
4. Cole Alexander 488
5. Augie Martin 478