Archive for April 2013

Wednesday Wrap – April 3, 2013 World Series Preview Edition

Most of you probably don’t care all that much about the World Series when you aren’t in it.  Since I am in it, I obviously care.  But beyond that, the opposing team is managed by my best friend, Evan.  If you’re newer to the league and didn’t already know, Evan and I were roommates in college , he was in my wedding, and he actually got me hooked to WIS over a decade ago (I just seriously realized I’ve been on this site for that long).  So for us, this is the biggest deal possible.  It is the HBD world we both care about the most, we are both original owners with these franchises, and now we’re in the World Series.  Now I will say that I hope to do this kind of preview for every World Series every season, but I will never be more pumped for a World Series than I am for this one.  So here is a position by position break down preview for the Big Sky Alumni Season 26 Fall Classic.

1.  Catcher – Both of Marvin Piper and Antonio Feng are top 5 offensive catchers in the BSA.  And both of them rank near the bottom of the league in defensive abilities.  Both will be perennial MVP/Silver Slugger candidates.  Tough call but Advantage – KC and Piper based on his experience

2. First Base – KC’s Toby Darnell is an underrated star in BSA history, compiling over 2400 hits, 385 homers to go with his career .301 average (career average IMO is the most underrated statistic by BSA owners).  He has mainly been a 2B in his career and statistically has been one of the greatest ever, but his age has slowed him down and he has moved to 1B.  This is really his last go around as an every day player and might be his last real chance for a World Series ring, which he already has 2 of.  Benito Rodriguez was an MVP candidate in the NL this season and is emerging into his prime.  He is a solid .300 plus hitter with good power and can hit righties and lefties.  Rodriguez has been Toledo’s bet hitter in the playoffs, hitting .364 with 5 homers so far.  Advantage to Toledo on this one, though Darnell’s playoff experience is a key to the KC locker room.

3. Second Base – Toledo’s Jacob Schmidt continues to emerge in his prime and attempts to make his mark as the best hitting 2B in BSA history.  He played a lot of LF this season, but as Toledo’s lineup was shaped through some in season maneuvers he moved back to 2B full time.  Butch Gwynn is 35 and was a late offseason addition to KC and was primarily a 3B before in his career.  He had a solid season, hitting 290, and has been great hitting leadoff in the playoffs, posting a .327 average and a .926 OPS.  Advantage – Toledo but again factor in Gwynn’s experience and being a former champion into the overall equation.

4. Third Base – KC’s Nash Thornton was a part time player this season, but he has emerged as KC’s primary 3B in the postseason and has responded with a .340 average.  23 year old highly touted prospect Alex Barajas played his first ML season with somewhat average returns offensively (though he played gold glove level defense) and has played average in the playoffs as well.  On paper, Barajas is the better player, but this game isn’t played on paper.  Advantage – KC due to Thornton’s emergence in the postseason

5. Shortstop – Toledo’s Hoss Grabow is getting the starts after platooning all season.  He has a weak bat and a strong glove with average range.  He did have his best season ever at the plate this year, but has been worse than normal in the playoffs.  Chuck Knight is a better skilled offensive player than Grabow, though he had worst season this year and Grabow had better production.  But his glove is weaker than Grabow’s overall.  Both of these franchises focus on the defensive production of their shortstops, so it makes sense that the Advantage goes to Toledo with the better defensive player.

6. Left Field – Garret Thames is the heart and soul of Kansas City and will anchor this lineup for a long time.  Coming off an MVP season in season 25, he had his worst ML season to date.  But he has turned up the heat in the postseason, hitting .308 with 5 homers.  Toledo has shuffled around the lineup this season, but Damaso Ramirez has emerged as the everyday LF in the playoffs.  He has not been the presence that Toledo expected him to be in the middle of the lineup since they acquired him and had a worse season than expected.  But he has gotten on base in the postseason and has the ability to really turn it on at any time.  Advantage – Kansas City as Thames worst season is still better than most.

7. Center Field – KC’s Victor Mackowiak has always been a great defensive player with a ton of power at the plate.  He has struggled with his average since being acquired last season by KC, but he still has flashed his trademark power and solid glove.  Toledo’s Mike Busby is a defensive stalwart who hits righties pretty well.  But he is in he lineup for his glove and is an average hitting ML outfielder with no power to speak of.  Advantage – KC as Mackowiak has the great glove and can contribute with his power.

8. Right Field. While Toledo plays both Don Hunter and Oswaldo Rivera, Hunter will probably get more ABs.  He has been an absolute beast since coming to Toledo  hitting .411/.491/.716 since being acquired from Scottsdale.  His full season stats would have put him up as an MVP candidate if he had not played in both leagues.  He has struggled in the playoffs, which has led to Toledo giving Rivera some at bats in the NLCS.  Carlos Perez has been up and down with some really great seasons and then a few average seasons.  He has been pretty average the last 2 seasons and has also struggled in this postseason.  Advantage to Toledo particularly with the option to play Rivera too.

9. Designated Hitter – I almost forgot to evaluate this position since I am so used to playing real baseball with Toledo and forgot we play softball for a few games.  KC has a big hitter in Tsubasa Wang who hit .313 with 42 long balls in his first season in KC.  He has perhaps been the best hitter of anyone in the playoffs this season, posting these numbers: .348/.436/.739 with 6 homer and 14 RBI.  KC is really going to miss his bat when playing in the NL.  They might even buy a glove for him and try to find him a spot on the field (a glove they’d eb hoping he never actually has to use).  The obvious candidate for Toledo is Oswaldo Rivera, but the team has an emerging option in C Dan Craddock.  They could play Craddock at C and move Feng to DH.  Craddock did have a good regular season and hit .323 with 12 homers in limited time, but he has been an absolute beast in limited playoff time.  He is 7 for 8 in the postseason with a homer and 2 doubles.  The 2.375 OPS kind of jumps off the page at you.  Both will probably see time at DH.  In spite of those very good young hitters, Advantage is still with KC as Wang has the experience and the steady production.

10.  Bench – Toledo’s bench has been a key to their playoff success this season.  Along with the already mentioned Craddock, little used William Sobowiak is 2 for 3 with a game winning homerun, Oswaldo Rivera has hit .294 with 2 homers, and 2B Harry Torres has a couple of hits, 2 runs, and a stolen base in late inning mop up time.  KC has a solid bench for an AL team since it has many older veterans who needed some days off during the season.  Tsubasa Wang will be the big option when they play in Toledo, but RF Sam Kent will be a key option in power situations and veterans Luis Canseco and Macbeth Masterson should have the opportunity to get some key hits as well.  Advantage goes to Toledo since their players are more used to this role

11. Starting Rotation Toledo will start Albert Garcia in game one, Boomer Hoffman in game 2, and Vladimir Leon in game 3.  Cookie Mota is a possibility for game 4 depending on how the beginning of the series plays out.  With some off days, KC should be able to reset their rotation and go with Jason Sierra in game 1, Stone Wood in game 2, and Virgil Rodriguez in game 3.  Don Malone provides an option for game 4 or an emergency start if fatigue becomes and issue.  For KC, Sierra has been roughed up this postseason after a really solid regular season run, but Rodriguez has been ok and Wood has pitched very well in his 3 starts.  Considering the offensive teams they have gone up against, KC has to feel pretty good about their staff.  For Toledo, Vladimir Leon has been shelled so far, Garcia is 2-0 but hasn’t pitched his best, and Boomer Hoffman has been one of the best pitchers in all of the playoffs (3-0, 1.80 ERA, .90 WHIP, .194 OAV, 21 to4 K to BB ratio).  Advantage looks like it goes to Toledo, but their production has been as good as it might seem on paper.

12. Bullpen – The bullpen seem to shorten in HBD playoffs where they get used more in the MLB playoffs it seems.  So when we focus on who really pitches for these teams, KC has 2 main pitchers in Diego Ramirez and Guillermo Almonte.  Ramirez has pitched in 7 games (12.1 innings) so far this postseason with a 2.92 WHIP and a 1.05 ERA.  He is without a doubt the most important non-closer to any team in the BSA and one of the most underrated pitchers in this world.  Almonte has pitched in 5 games with a 1.35 ERA and has responded well to his first opportunity to throw in the playoffs at the ripe age of 36.  Toledo’s 2 main bullpen options are Lloyd Stone and Sam Blank.  Blank has been roughed up, posting a 10.80 ERA and management might reduce his role and put in someone like Warren Gload in front of him.  Lloyd Stone is a playoff vet, posting a respectable 3.00 ERA in 5 games and will remain their main option.  If we were evaluating their entire bullpens, Toledo probably gets the nod with their overall depth.  But with the way the playoffs normally work, Advantage goes to KC on the strength of Diego Ramirez.

13. Closer – Both of these clubs use the theory of not placing their best relief pitchers in the closer role so that they get more innings out of their setup men.  Toledo toyed with the idea of moving the veteran Lloyd Stone to the closer role for the playoffs with his experience, but have so far left Ken Parrish in the role he has had for 3 seasons with good success.  He has converted all 3 of his save opportunities this post season, giving up 0 runs but letting some men on base.  Rico Cruz converted 45 of 47 save opportunities this season, but he wasn’t dominant in doing so.  He has continued that success into the playoffs with 6 saves, but he did blow one save and lose a game against Vegas in the ALCS.  This is about as close to a push as we have, but I decided there could be no pushes before writing this.  So I give the Advantage to Toledo just based on the fact that Cruz has shown a little vulnerability.

 

The Prediction: This will be the most difficult series for me to predict.  One, I have a bias as every knows.  Two, I have had a feeling all post season that this team would not play to expectations.  Three, I have picked against KC so far, thinking they were too old to keep up but they have continued to prove me wrong.  Four, every time I pick Evan to win something he ends up losing it (and I believe strongly in the forum jinx).  On paper, Toledo is the favorite to win this series.  In our preview, they have the advantage 7 to 6 which is probably closer than many people thought it would be.  So I am going with my gut on this one.  Kansas City in 7.  That is truly, honestly, God’s honest truth what I think is going to happen (and not because I don’t want to pick my team or jinx Evan).  Here is how I see the series going down.  Toledo jumps out to a 2-0 series lead on the backs of strong pitching performances by Garcia and Hoffman.  KC wins game 3, blowing out Leon who has pitched poorly and with Virgil Rodriguez putting in a strong performance.  Both clubs throw their #4 starters and KC’s have fared far better in the playoffs so far and are at home, so series tied 2 to 2 in a close game where KC jumps out to an early lead and Toledo falls short of a comeback.  KC gets a come from behind win in game 4 after Garcia gets pulled early due to fatigue with a Toledo lead, Diego Ramirez comes in to shut down Toledo and Parrish blows a save in the 9th and Cruz redeems himself in the bottom of the 9th to send the series back to Toledo at 3-2.  Hoffman again steps up and shuts down KC in game 6 to tie the series at 3.  Toledo has seen Leon be hammered for 3 straight starts, and gets jumpy and gives the start to Denny Mason, his first of the playoffs with Leon coming in out of the bullpen if things start to get hairy.  Toledo over manages, Rodriguez pitches well enough for KC, but Diego Ramirez comes in and again shuts down Toledo so they cannot come back.  They mount a close effort against KC’s bullpen in the 9th inning, but KC holds on to win it in 7.  I’ve been pretty wrong about everything so far this playoff season so I hope I am just being pessimistic about my team, but we’ll see how closely this plays out to the real thing.

Post your predictions here to get on the record before the series starts!

 

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