1. Ahmad Nippert (San Diego) ****1/2- This 18 year old lefty is dominate against left handed hitters and can really give the radar gun a workout. A potential top of the line starter is everything a rebuilding team would want in the first pick.
2. J.O. Chavez (Baltimore) **** – May not be a dominant starter, but has 3 good pitches and could really be a workhorse.
3. Damion Wilkins (Scranton) ***** – As if Scranton didn’t have enough great prospects already, they walk away with a a middle infielder who has a decent glove and a could be a perennial league leader in batting average and even has some pop and speed to go with it.
4. Darin Barker (New Orleans) ****1/2 – You don’t see first baseman picked in the top 5 of the draft anymore, unless of course they hit like Barker. Huge power and everything else to go with it.
5. Ryuu Hasegawa (Baltimore) **** – About as good of a hitting second baseman as you could find, his range could develop enough to make him a possible centerfielder.
6. Darrell Grey (Mexico City) *** – He’ll have to move from SS, but he could play almost anywhere else. Health concerns are the huge knock against him
7. Eugene Lillibridge (Fargo) – unsigned
8. Chipper Mlicki (Scottsdale) **** – His eye is the only knock on this corner outfielder, but he’ll still hit just fine.
9. Addison Wilson (Vancouver) ** 1/2 – He’d have a decent bat for a SS, but his range isn’t good enough to play SS.
10. Benjamin Thurman (Honolulu) *** – Thurman is a SS with a decent bat and the range. His throwing accuracy is a little lacking, but he could be one of the better all around short stops in the league.
11. Al Hernandez (Austin) ***1/2 – A lefty starter who struggles a little against righties, but he can dial it up on the radar gun with superior control.
12. Harry Cruz ( Cincinnati) – unsigned
13. Sammy Serra (Rochester) *** – While his splits are average and his health is a little low for some owner’s comfort, his control combined with his velocity and pitches will make him a solid ML starter if he stays healthy.
14. Jim Kingman (Trenton) ***1/2 – A solid second baseman with a good eye who could make a solid leadoff hitter with his eye and speed, though his durability will hold him back a little at the top of the order.
15. Turk West (Charlotte) *** – He’s not going to be a top of the rotation starter, but with great control and 4 good pitches, he can be a workhorse middle of the rotation type.
16. Murray Kiner (LA) ***1/2 – Another great leadoff candidate with low durability, he could be a little like Otto Buchanon.
17. Cookie Bautista (Tampa Bay) – unsigned
18. Nash Bonham (El Paso) *** – Might have the best combination of pitches in the draft. His major issue is his durability, but he’ll be good when he does pitch.
19. Albert Donahue (Charlotte) ***1/2 – Big power particularly against righties, but he’ll be more than just a platoon player.
20. Bryant Ramirez (Las Vegas) ** – The first reliever taken in the draft, he shows a great fastball but doesn’t project to have the tools it takes to be a great closer.
21. Joe Quinn (Huntington) *** – The second reliever taken does have all the tools to be a closer in the league, though his stamina will limit his real impact.
22. Adam Teut (Toledo) ***1/2 – A really solid all around SP with a flamethrower for a right arm, but durability and health questions dropped him in the draft.
23. Jimmy Sosa (Nashville) – unsigned
24. Al Whitehill (Huntington) **1/2 – Another SS who will probably be moved, he could be a CF with a lot of power and a good eye though his splits will hold him back.
25. Santo Mendoza (Richmond) *** 1/2 – A finesse pitcher, he is a solid all around starter who can work the corner against righties and lefties.
26. Mack Parker (Tampa Bay) ** – It’ll be interesting to see where he actually ends up in the field, but his bat will be average wherever though his arm will be among the best at whatever position he does play.
27. Jake Arenado (Kansas City) *** – A solid defensive 2B with the range to possibly move to CF, has a solid all around bat that excels against south paws.
28. Houston Braden (Tampa Bay) *** – A solid reliever prospect with a rare 3 pitch combination that are all out piches.
29. A.J. White (Nashville) ** – A good eye and speed, he’ll have to move to a corner outfield spot and doesn’t have the bat to hold that spot.
30. Evan Snodgress (Portland) *** – This setup prospect will throw between 100 to 150 innings per season with his combination of skills.
31. Carlos Feliz (San Fransisco) ** – He has some solid splits, but his weak eye and poor range are what will hold him back.
32. Damian Hoover (Augusta) *** – If he doesn’t get hurt, he should make a great platoon player against lefties who could leadoff
33. Kirk West (Trenton) ***1/2 – A DH who could catch if he had to, he has the bat to be a major league hitter even if he didn’t own a glove. Struggles against righties some and his health is a concern, but a great pick at 33.
34. Bono Post (Toledo) **** – I might be biased with this assessment, but Post is a legitimate centerfielder with gold glove level range who can play everyday, has plus speed, and can put the ball in play well.
35. Denny Corbett (Ottawa) ***1/2 – The rich get richer as he may be the best closer prospect of the draft, but his health scared away a lot of teams.
I’ve had a hard time finding the time to blog for this season, but what better way to start off the New Year than with some blogging. We’re down to the wire, so what better way to start than with a playoff preview. I’ll take a look at each division and then the 2 wild card races. Honestly, there really is only one division that is even potentially a race, so I’ll highlight the ups and downs of each team.
AL North It is no surprise that defending champion Ottawa has run away with the division once again. While they are slightly behind last year’s pace , Ottawa is still the clear favorite to win it all, but they are aging so their grip on the AL may not last long. Vancouver took a step forward with their young hitters Alan Twitchell, Doyle Byrnes, and Carlos Viriato and have a chance to end a 7 season playoff drought. Trenton continues to hover around .500 but Mitch Morehead (13 wins, 2.99 ERA) continues to excel. Scranton continues to be at the bottom of the division, but their youth movement is starting and they’ll be at the top of this division soon. If their winning percentage holds up, they will have their highest win total in 16 seasons.
AL East Boston hasn’t wrapped up their 3rd straight division title, but they have a comfortable 7 game lead. Mendy Wingo is having a Cy Young caliber season for them, sitting at 15-5, 2.35 ERA, and .97 WHIP. Huntington is still in it, but something significant would have to happen since they have no games left with Boston. Brian Canseco has quietly been putting together one of his best seasons (.347/.450/.538) in his first season in Huntington. Rochester and Baltimore are both rebuilding, but both are playing better this year than last year and are showing some signs of life.
AL South Nashville is looking like a sure bet to repeat as division champs in what is normally one of the tightest division races. Sonny Torres has been out of his mind this season, pacing Nashville at 13-3. Charlotte is hanging in the wild card race with a balanced rotation that has 4 pitchers with double digit wins. Kansas City looked old at times this year, though Marvin Piper still showed himself as one of the best slugging catchers in BSA history with 33 long balls so far with 98 RBI. El Paso simply hasn’t gotten the production it expected out of some of their big free agents signings the past 2 seasons like Terrell Hoffman
AL West The AL West has always been a very competitive division with a tight race, but that was normally because it always had 3 good teams. They’re still competitive, but absent those 3 good teams. It looks like it is Las Vegas’ division to lose. Mikey McGuire needs 8 more stolen bases to become the 2nd player in the BSA with 800 stolen bases and 27 more to take the all time lead in the most neglected and forgotten category. San Fransisco is hanging around in the division title race, and a Ben Sherman led rotation could give them enough to not only take the division but pull an upset in the playoffs. After a surprising run last season, Portland has fallen back to earth, hitting only .232 as a team. Scottsdale continues the rebuilding effort after years at the top, but at least fans have Brian Kim to watch each night.
AL Wild Card While last season’s AL playoff race was a mess to figure out, this year really comes down to a 3 team race for the 2 wild card spots. Huntington stands at the top of the Wild Card race, 2 games ahead of Vancouver and 3 ahead of Charlotte. Huntington has been hot lately, winning 13 of 17, and has a fairly easy schedule ahead of them. Charlotte will play the 4 teams with the best records in the AL still, and Vancouver will need to gain ground early as it meets Nashville and Ottawa and the end of the season. But this week a 7 game stretch is coming up where Huntington plays 4 against Vancouver and then 3 against Charlotte which should really decide this race. I predict Huntington will all but secure their spot in that stretch and that Charlotte will squeeze out the final wild card spot the last days of the season while Vancouver is visiting Ottawa.
NL North This has been the best division in the NL for some time, and while that still holds true this season, it’s not the same. Burlington is in control and for the first time in years has breathing room down the stretch. Rudy Tabaka isn’t having as good a season as last year, but he set a ridiculous standard and is well on his way to another Cy Young with 20 wins, a 1.60 ERA, and a .86 WHIP. Columbus has stepped up this season and the trade for Tike Henson has pushed them into the playoff hunt with his .294 average and 25 homers. Augusta collapsed at the start of this season in surprising fashion, but they played more like the real Augusta in the second half and are making a mad dash towards the playoffs. Fargo has to hate being in this division, but Junior Manuel likes being in Fargo, putting up his 2nd straight 30 dinger season.
NL East While it was a close race early in the season, Toledo has pulled away with a comfortable 15 game lead. Juan Veras has proven worth the trade to get him, with 11 wins and a 2.31 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in Toledo. After taking a step forward into the playoff race last season, Richmond is playing at a slightly better place and in the driver’s seat for the second wild card spot. Veteran starter Philip Coleridge is still the heart beat of the team, just getting his 260th career victory. Washington has taken a little step back from last year, but is still slugging away with 3 hitters already over 30 home runs. Cincinnati never recovered from the devastating injury to Miguel Romano and is going to have to have to take another look at the mystery of why they are not more competitive.
NL South New Orleans is holding on to a 5 game leas over Tampa Bay, and Harry Shirley has been the difference with his 15 wins in his return from losing all of last season to injury. Tampa Bay is still fighting for life though and Koji Ming ‘s emergence as a closer has helped them in a a lot of close games. Mexico City and Austin are at the bottom this season, but in this division they could easily find themselves at the top next season.
NL West Boise is poised to win its 5th division title in 6 seasons. Trot Harmon is on pace to have his first 40 home run season and Vince Nathan continues to take his special “vitamins” and has posted consecutive 30 home run seasons. Tony Ellis was signed to lead LA past Boise this season, but he has struggled in LA, hitting only .249. In it’s first season under new ownership, San Diego has shown marked improvement and young Andrea Parker continues to shown the potential to be a superstar. Honolulu knows it’s future is much brighter than its present and has a steady flow of young talent waiting to make its way to the big show.
NL Wild Card If you were to just look at the standings and the math, Columbus and Richmond look to have their wild card spots all but secured. But then you see Augusta looming 5 games back and you know that team can kick it into another gear and make a big run. In fact, they already have. August is 26-12 since the All Star break, but just look at who is left on their schedule: Boise, Toledo, Richmond, Washington, Columbus, and Burlington. That is 3 division leaders, including the top 2 teams, and the 3 other teams in the wild card race. If August does pull off this comeback, it may be the best in season turnaround ever in the BSA and they’ll look like the team to beat in the playoffs. Washington isn’t out of it either and a hot streak could see them knock Richmond out again and they have a decent enough schedule to get hot and make that run. Richmond is in Honolulu right now and then has 7 home games against San Diego and Tampa Bay. If they can beat up on these teams like they should, it could secure them a spot regardless of what Augusta and DC does. Columbus is in the driver’s seat and aside from back to back home series against Toledo and Burlington, they don’t have a playoff team left on their schedule. I think Columbus should feel pretty secure at this point, but with the way Augusta is playing, every wild card team has to make sure they don’t slip up against the teams they should beat.
1 Aaron Johns (L) 97.47 HUNTINGTON,
2 Dennis Hiro (R) 96.52 OTTAWA,
3 Rudy Tabaka (R) 96.10 BURLINGTON,
4 Brook Easley (L) 94.87 OTTAWA,
5 Edgar Matos (R) 93.29 NASHVILLE,
6 Tony Tanaka (R) 92.72 OTTAWA,
7 Ezequiel Perez (L) 92.54 HUNTINGTON,
8 Rodrigo Cabrera (R) 91.88 VANCOUVER,
9 Diego Ramirez (R) 91.26 KANSAS CITY,
10 Juan Veras (L) 91.00 HUNTINGTON,
11 Victor Guerra (L) 89.66 OTTAWA,
12 Joaquin Guerrero (R) 88.99 LAS VEGAS,
13 Julio Zumaya (R) 88.81 LAS VEGAS,
14 Ariel Calles (R) 88.43 TAMPA BAY,
15 Philip Coleridge (R) 87.38 RICHMOND,
16 Frank Burton (R) 87.28 CHARLOTTE,
17 Albert Garcia (R) 87.17 TOLEDO,
18 Jair Bonilla (R) 86.99 BURLINGTON,
19 Bono Larkin (R) 86.78 HUNTINGTON,
20 Ken Brantley (L) 86.21 OTTAWA,
21 Todd Corcoran (L) 85.96 COLUMBUS,
22 Roy Washington (R) 85.92 PORTLAND,
23 Boomer O’Sullivan (L) 85.54 CINCINNATI,
24 Mitch Morehead (R) 85.08 TRENTON,
25 Ben Sherman (L) 84.43 SAN FRANCISCO
Ginobili has punched in every teams pitcher into a spreadsheet and using his secret special formula to rank every team’s pitching staff. Let him know what you think of his ratings in the comments!
OTTAWA 83.89 HUNTINGTON 78.02 TOLEDO 73.45 BURLINGTON 73.08 LAS VEGAS 72.88 COLUMBUS 70.05 SCOTTSDALE 69.81 NASHVILLE 69.58 RIChMOND 69.51 KANSAS CITY 69.12 CINCINNATTI 68.99 MEXICO CITY 68.52 SAN FRANCISCO 66.98 PORTLAND 66.68 LOS ANGELES 66.65 AUSTIN 66.63 AUGUSTA 66.33 VANCOUVER 66.22 BOSTON 65.79 CHARLOTTE 65.75 FARGO 65.33 TRENTON 65.3 EL PASO 64.89 BOISE 64.73 SCRANTON 63.01 WASHINGTON 62.92 TAMPA BAY 62.54 NEW ORLEANS 62.46 SAN DIEGO 61.78 ROCHESTER 61.47 BALTIMORE 60.98 HONOLULU 59.92
I am going to rank everyone that I believe who is on the ballot who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. The top 5 of course are who I think deserves to be in on this ballot. Noting the others who are viable may seem to muddy the waters, but I am pretty liberal with who I think should get into the Hall (it would be a big building if I were in charge). I will also admit that I tend to favor career stats over awards. Particuarly since awards like the All Star game, silver slugger, and gold glove are computer generated, I don’t give them as much credence as the sheer numbers. The awards we vote one hold much more weight IMO. Perhaps if we could come to a consensus on the last few we could get more deserving candidates in and hope to get some of those lower on the list in next season. It is because we are always disagreeing over those last few spots that we have a class like this that is just overloaded with talent and deserving candidates where we will probably only get 2 guys in because there are too many to debate.
1. Fernando Neruda If I have to explain this one to you, stop playing HBD because you clearly don’t even know what a baseball looks like.
2. Shawn Radlosky In earnest, we could call this a career achivement award. When you pitch in the same league as Neruda for most of your career, you lose out on Cy Youngs that would have been won in other more normal circumstances.
3. Ryne Magruder Magruder was a great all around player, played all around the field when Honolulu needed him to change positions from season to season, and he stayed one of the best hitters in the NL his entire career. In my opinion, multiple MVPs speaks loudly. Magruder is the best position player on the ballot and I don’t think there really should be a lot of debate about him deserving the HOF.
4. Hal Wagner Closers have had a difficult time getting in the Hall in this world, but I cannot believe that Wagner is not going to be a shoe in. He won a Cy Young as a closer and had some seasons that were down right absurd. He is number 2 on the career saves list at 641 and would be #1 if he had been a closer early on in his career. I want you to think of one name when you think of Wagner: Dennis Eckersley. Eck was a converted starter, won a Cy Young as a closer, was a part of one of the most dominant teams of his era, is among the all time leaders in saves, and had some of the most dominant seasons we have ever seen from a relief pitcher. That’s Hal Wagner. He should be a HOFer just like Eck.
5. Toby Darnell Darnell simply does not get the kind of credit he deserves. He was a the center of the lineup on some great teams. Primarily playing 2B, he finished at .300 (which is a bigger achievement than it gets credit for in this world), over 2500 hits, nearly 400 home runs, over 1400 runs and RBI, and over 200 stolen bases. Now he played alot of his games at other positions, but go around and find another player who played predominately second base who has those kind of offensive numbers. There might be one or two coming through the pipeline right now, but there are none who are retired. If we did an all time BSA team, Darnell would probably garner consideration for the 2B slot on that team.
6. Robin Drew When I started this article, Robin Drew was on my ballot. I just bumped him when taking a closer look at Darnell, but I still firmly believe that Robin Drew without a doubt is a Hall of Famer. A true ace with 230 wins, a Cy Young, and a career 3.11 ERA and 1.19 WHIP have him among the top pitchers ever in the BSA.
7. Dwayne Richard I don’t know why Richards gets absolutely no love. He was an absolutely dominant ace in his era and a part of perhaps the best 1-2 pitching punch this world has ever seen. He doesn’t have gaudy win totals, but when you dig into his numbers you’ll find he’s one of the greatest of all time.
8. Omar Rhodes Rhodes someone always ends up just on the outside looking in on my ballot. It’s probably because he was a 1B and never won an MVP, but Rhodes should be in the Hall. I just don’t think he was as great as the players I have above him.
9.. Luis Canseco I’m somewhat surprised that Canseco hasn’t had more people talk about voting for him. He was one of the premier hitters in the NL for a long time, garnered silver sluggers at 2 different spots, was in 7 all star games, won two world series rings, had over 2400 hits, nearly 400 homers, over 1400 runs and RBI, and hit over .300 for his career. At some point, we have to break the mold of only voting in guys with gaudy power numbers and start to take a closer look at these guys who were just great hitters but didn’t pop out 50 home runs seasons every year.
10. Edwin Sauveur I really like Sauveur, but I think his numbers should be better for making a living in Tacoma for so long. When you look at numbers like his WHIP and ERA, I think you see why he falls distinctly behind guys like Drew and Richard.
11. Felix Sexton I disregard the fact that Sexton wasn’t a “true” shortstop, but that’s probably because I don’t even consider the silver slugger award. His career stats do merit his consideration, but when I look back and I think about him, I don’t really think of Sexton as a great player. His numbers are good for a shortstop, but they have to be better than that to overcome some fo the true sluggers and aces that are ahead of him for me.
12. Tony Bonilla Bonilla is ahed of Herndon because he is a true catcher. He has all the numbers a catcher should have to get into the Hall of Fame, but I doubt he ever gets close because his numbers just aren’t gaudy enough to merit the kind of attention you need to get in.
13. Claude Herndon Herndon is one of the best hitting catchers of all time. Now sometimes I think he tried to field with a bat in his hand, but man could he hit the long ball. He moved around some late in his career, but he was a very good power hitter who achieved that elusive 500 home run mark. If a catcher hit 500 home runs in real life, he’d be a no brainer for the HOF.
14. Bill Grove Grove probably deserves to get in because quality 3B are hard to come by. He’s really got alot of good things on hsi resume, but I just don’t think he has those one or two things that leap off the page at you to get you to really push for him.
Guys who I know will never get in but I still think belong
Sterling Mercker From the early eras of the BSA, he’s still top 5 in batting average. He would have had gaudy hit numbers with a full career.
Emil Wilkinson Wilkinson never really played full time so that black mark will keep him from getting support. Personally I think it shouldn’t be expected for catchers to get the same kind of ABs as other positions. Wilkinson has the only .400 season in BSA history and still stands among the leaders in batting average and OBP
Miguel Tejada He never really got much of a following during his career as he played for some pretty bad teams, but this guy was just a pure hitter. I always thought of him like a Manny Ramirez. He’d have more of a shot than some guys on this list, but he just never got any awards so I don’t think he’ll get a second glance.
Al Lunar I’m completely biased and would never actually vote for him, but Lunar was one of the best hitters in the BSA early on. He’s the guy that I say to myself “If I only had him now for his whole career…” Just a pure hitter, but we have really screwed over the guys from the early years who should get more consideration than they do in my opinion.
Joel Simmons We got him close during a few years with thinner ballots, but Simons has slipped down the all time list as newer pitchers put up bigger numbers. I’d still put him in my Hall, but even I would take some time to think about it.
My apologies on no Wednesday Wrap or preview for the Play In Series. Just got to busy last week to even think about either. I’ll offer some insight on the play in series as I preview the upcoming DCS.
AL #1 Ottawa Pride versus #5 Portland Razor Clams
Portland was not on anyone’s radar to start the season after a few down seasons and the move from Tacoma, but they took control of the West early on and have been part of the playoff picture all season. San Fransisco pulled off an amazing end to the season to knock them from the top of the AL West, but Portland easily handled division champion Boston in a 3 game sweep to have the “privilege” of facing Ottawa. It does not take a genius to see that Ottawa will be the favorite in every series they are in, so the question is how does Portland upset Ottawa? The only concievable path I see is some remarkable starting pitching performances – the great playoff equalizer. On paper, Ottawa is better in every facet, but Portand is pretty solid defensive team and it’s top 2 starters, Miguel and Jimmie Hernandez are capable of doing something amazing. If they c an take the first 2 games, Portland might be able to pull it off. But with their pitching, I do not think a come from behind series victory is really likely. My prediction is Ottawa in 4.
AL #2 San Fransisco versus #3 Nashville Redbirds
This is the series to watch in this round as these might be the hottest 2 teams in baseball. Nashville won 11 in a row and has won 12 of 13 games, the only loss coming in game 3 of the Play in Series in 18 innings courtesy of a Marvin Piper walk off homer. San Fran won 6 of 7 to end the season and take the West division title and the #2 seed from Portland. Can Nashville stay this hot against a rested San Fransisco? In my opinion, Nashville has more talent but they don’t have veteran leadership like Ben Sherman. San Fran has home field advantage which will be huge for them. I think Nashville is the better team and the hotter team, so I want to pick them. And if this series ends early, it will be Nashville winning it. But I see this series going 5 games and with a game 5 in the Bay with Ben Sherman pitching, I’ll go with San Fran. San Fransisco in 5.
NL #1 Toledo Black Sheep verse #5 Augusta Warriors
Augusta was in the driver’s seat for the number 1 seed in the NL for a bulk of the season, but fell behind to Burlington towards the end of the season and ended up being a wild card. That’s bad news for Toledo. Being the #1 seed in the NL is never a good thing because that means you have to beat two of the better teams to make it to the Series since either Burlington or Augusta is the the top wild card. Toledo actually had their best record ever this season and were 4 games better than last season, but on paper their offense was not as powerful as last year’s team. Augusta has the better middle of the order with Juan Park and John Clark, but Toledo’s lineup 1 to 8 is overall more dangerous. Toledo has a deeper starting rotation but neither team really has that shutdown top of the line starter. Toledo might have the best bullpen in the BSA, but Augusta has the better 9th inning man in Walter Davanon. This series could go any way, but Augusta had no problem scoring on Toledo this season so I see Augusta taking this in 4 games with a lot of runs.
NL #2 Burlington Ents versus #3 Boise Russets
If pitching wins in the playoffs, Burlington is always at an advantage because they have the best pitcher in the game in Rudy Tabaka. Being in a pitcher’s park helps, but Tabaka is just that good. In a short series, you basically have to try and figure out how to win the 3 games he isn’t pitching in. Boise always seems to be a tough out in the playoffs and really gutted out the last 2 wins in the play in series win in 4 games over Washington D.C., but seeing them as a 3 seed to Burlington’s 2 seed makes this seem alot closer than it is. Burlington is 21 games better than Boise, who would not have been in the playoffs had they not won their division. Boise has some great young players and I see them winning the West for many seasons to come, but Burlington takes this series in a 3 game sweep.
I do not gamble at all, so I would make a horrible oddsmaker, but here are the odds for each team to win the World Series as I see them.
Ottawa 2-1 (will be the favorite in every series they play no matter who they play)
Burlington 4 to 1 (Tabaka makes them a favorite in the NL, but the thought of having to beat Toledo/Augusta and then Ottawa is a tall order)
Nashville 5 to 1 (I know I picked against them, but they are the hottest team in baseball and have a lineup that could potentially score with Ottawa)
San Fransisco 6 to 1 (In spite of Ottawa standing in the way, the winner of the AL will probably be less beaten up than the winner of the NL. Having future hall of famer Ben Sherman and former Cy Young winner Harry Feliz makes them look good in the playoffs too)
Toledo and Augusta 8 to 1 (they might have better teams than teams ahead of them, but they have to beat the other team in a short series, beat Burlington and Tabake in a 7 game series and then beat Ottawa in the Series. If that’s their road to victory, it’s not a safe bet)
Portland 20 to 1 (If they beat Ottawa somehow, their odds will skyrocket)
Boise 25 to 1 (Boise would have to beat Burlington, Toledo/Augusta and Ottawa. They’ve got their shot by being in the playoffs, but it’s a long, long shot)
Sorry everyone, I got this started yesterday but didn’t get it finished so my numbers are going to be a little different than what may be true right now since some of it was from yesterday morning and some of it is from this morning. Hope you still enjoy it!
1. NL Playoff Picture At just past the 130 game mark, there are really only 3 questions left in the NL playoff picture. The first is the seeding. Toledo still is in the first spot with Augusta in the second spot. They could easily flip spots, but Burlington has the opportunity to overcome Augusta and move into one of those top two spots too. The second question is the NL West. LA and boise are still fighting it out and LA sits at 3 games back now. With their owner back and engaged, LA has the chance to make things interesting down the stretch. The final question is the last wild card spot. Richmond and Washington DC are tied for the spot. Their series starting on Monday could decide that spot. Columbus and the loser of the West still are in the race, but Richmond and DC are the odds on favorites.
So my prediction isn’t changing for the NL: Augusta, Toledo, Boise, Tampa Bay, Burlington, Washington DC with Toledo and Burlington meeting in the championships series and Burlington going to the series.
2. AL Playoff Picture The AL still has a lot of questions to answer, but the picture is a little clearer. Ottawa is still the one for sure, winning the North and being the #1 seed. Huntington is trying to make the East interesting, but Boston still has a solid 4 game lead. Portland is still leading the West, but San Francisco has gained on them and is only 3 games back. Kansas City moved ahead in the South but El Paso and Nashville are still both within reach of the division title. Portland and Kansas City are then fighting for that 2nd spot and the bye, but it’s close enough that Nashville, San Fransisco, or El Paso could make a move to that spot if someone falters or they have a hot week. The Wild Card Race is really now between San Fransisco, Nashville, and El Paso, but Charlotte, Vegas, or Huntington are still within range.
So the AL really now looks like it will be 6 out of 7 teams and it is that last spot that is up for grabs. So my prediction for what 6 teams make it are Ottawa, Portland, Kansas City, Boston, San Fransisco, and Nashville with El Paso being the one team left out. My other prediction is that this will probably look different next week. 3. League Leaders Batting Average and OBP Brian Kim is still leading the way in the AL at .353 but Kaito Pan is right behind him at .339. Pan is also leading OBP at .420 but teammate Christopher Posey is just one point behind at .419. In the NL, Augusta teammates Juan Park (.333) and John Clark (.330) are competing for the batting title. OBP is safely led by Honolulu’s Brian Canseco at .418 with Ken Victorino (.412) and Antonio Feng (.410) trailing behind.
4. League Leaders Home Runs and RBI Huntington recently acquired the AL Home run leader in Frank Winchester . Three other sluggers are over 40 homers, including Huntington’s Tony Nicholas (41), Marvin Piper (40), and Angel Sanchez (43). KC’s Garrett Thames leads the way with 113 RBI followed by Posey at 111 and Christopher Huff 110. In the NL, Juan Park leads in both home runs at 55 and RBI at 136. Washington’s Polin Castilla is second in both categories with 47 homers and 111 runs driven in.
5. League Leaders Wins and Saves In the AL, Trace Woods has 21 wins and has pretty much secured the league lead in that area. Ottawa’s Tony Tanaka (18) and San Fran’s Ben Sherman (17) also have a shot at 20 wins. In the AL with saves, Ottawa’s Ken Brantley with 35 saves is being chased by Syracuse’s Pepe Granados with 34. In the Senior Circuit, Rudy Tabaka has 24 wins to lead all of baseball and the next closest total is Cookie Mota with 17. Augusta’s Walter DaVanon has 44 saves on the season to lead everyone with Jair Bonilla Yorman Canseco trailing far behind at 35.
6. League Leaders WHIP and ERA In the AL, Ottawa’s Tanaka leads with a .96 WHIP and no one else is under 1. Sherman is the only one close at 1.01. Carlos Rios and Tanaka are tied in ERA at 2.72. As for the NL, Tabaka leads both WHIP (.79) and ERA (1.53). Ariel Calles is second in WHIP at .90 and Ed Moyer second in ERA at .244
7. NL Triple Crowns – If you put two and two together reading those league leaders, it means that Juan Park and Rudy Tabaka are both set to win their respective triple crowns. Park’s only competition is really in batting average with his teammmate John Clark as his leads in homers and RBI are secure. It would take an absolutely epic meltdown for Tabaka to have anyone come close to him in any category. To put those seasons in perspective, look at all time numbers. Tabaka is having perhaps the best pitching season ever. He will set the single season mark in WHIP by a pretty substantial margin, a top 5 season in ERA, and a top 5 season in wins (potentially the second best total ever, but he won’t get to Roy Hardy numbers, who had 30 wins in season 7). And by the way, Tabaka leads the league in ks (230) with 45 more than the next closest pitcher. Park’s season is no where near Tabaka’s historically and I honestly have no idea how many players have won triple crowns, but here are the guys I found who hit over .330 with over 50 homers and over 130 RBI: Ugueth Moya , Dan Thompson, Alfonso Cruz, and Rusty Laker. That’s pretty solid company to keep.
8. Record Breaker Watch Luther Aldred and Alfonso Cruz are the only 2 hitters in BSA history with over 3000 hits. Is there any current hitter who has the chance to join that club? Christopher Posey looks like he has a shot. Last season, he set the single season hits mark with 230 and the season before he had a top 5 all time season with 224. His total is down this season, but at 173 his pace should put him around the 205 to 210 range. If he does that, it will put him right over 2700 career hits. Entering next season at age 35, those last 300 hits come a lot harder than they seem. While Posey is declining, he is still the AL MVP favorite this season and doesn’t seem to be slowing that significantly statistically. The way things looks, Posey should become the all time hits leader during season 30 and put his career total to a place that might be out of reach for anyone else.
9. Hall of Fame Question We all love the Hall of Fame so I wanted to bring up a random player each week to debate whether they are Hall of Fame worthy or not. It’s not a debate as to whether they will get the votes to get into the HOF, but whether they belong in our Hall. Some of them may be more clear cut than others, but it’s fun to debate anyways. Part of Ottawa’s incredible offense this season has been 38 year old veteran slugger Andruw Hartzell. This may very well be his last season in the majors, though he can still hit well enough that he may find his way onto a ML bench next season. He is a career .326 hitter, hitting over .300 in 16 of 17 ML seasons. He has 471 homers and over 1600 RBI, with 9 season of 30 plus homers and 7 seasons of 100 plus RBI. He won the AL MVP award in season 17, made 4 all teams, won 10 Silver Sluggers, and has two World Series rings with hopes for a third one this season. Oh, and he played 10 of his seasons in the worst park for hitters in HBD (Tacoma). I think he is a clear Hall of Famer, but my Hall of Fame would need constant expansion for all the guys I think deserve to be in it. What do you think? Is Hartzell a Hall of Famer?
10. Back to Reality I absolutely hate the new MLB wild card game. While it carries with it the excitement of a game 7 and I understand the draw to let one more team in the playoffs, letting one game decide a playoff in baseball just seems ludicrous. It’s not just because the Reds lost to Pittsburgh, but I also live near Cleveland and saw everything surrounding that game. While all of Cleveland was excited for that game, they should have been preparing for a 5 game series against Boston. They earned that spot over 162 games and to throw that away for TV ratings and one more night of ticket sales to me belittles the hard work and achievements of those players. The Reds deserved to lose and Pittsburgh deserved to play a series so I’m not super upset by that, but I feel for Cleveland fans today who haven’t even realized yet that if it were last season, they’d get at least 2 more games for their season.
We’re just past the two-thirds mark in the season and headed down the home stretch. So I’ll make some of my usually poor predictions and look around the league at some high and low lights.
1. NL Playoff Prediction Toledo has taken over as the top team in the NL after going 21-4 in the last 2 games, but most people still believe Augusta is the team to beat. Tampa Bay looks like the favorite to win the South, but they are trying hard to give away with a nine game losing streak. In the always close and tumultuous NL West, Boise and LA have emerged as the two to fight it out this season and I’d put my money on Boise edging out that race (especially since LA’s owner hasn’t been around for almost 2 weeks). Burlington has shaken off an early season rough patch and will easily win the first wild card and is only 3 games back of Augusta, so they are still a dark horse for that #1 seed in the playoffs. The second wildcard is going to be a 4 team race between Washington, Richmond, LA, and the surprise Columbus squad. Just by evaluating schedules, I like DC for the last wildcard. Their next 23 games come against teams at or under .500. In the next 12 games, LA and Columbus play 6 times so one of those 2 teams could really be pushed to the back of the pack in those games. I like Richmond’s team alot and they have the lead right now, but they have the toughest remaining schedule by far, with 13 games left against Augusta, Burlington, and Toledo and then 10 more against division leaders Tampa Bay and Boise.
So my prediction for seeding is this order: Augusta, Toledo, Boise, Tampa, Burlington, and then Washington. I’ll make my predictions for who emerges from that group below.
2. AL Playoff Prediction Well, Ottawa is still ridiculous. They are 31 games up at with 50 to go. That’s insane, even in a division with finnski. But the other 3 AL divisions are up for grabs. Portland has a comfortable lead at 5 games, but San Francisco and Las Vegas are both within striking distance. Boston is 5 games up on Huntington in the East and is the only team above .500. Kansas City and Nashville are tied in the South and El Paso is only a game back. All those tight division races make the wild card race a mess with all the aformentioned teams in the hunt as well as Syracuse. If you’re counting at home, that is 9 teams in the Wild card hunt. That means only 6 teams are really not being considered and even a few of those could make their way into the race with a hot streak. Since it’s impossible to handicap 9 teams, we’ll highlight some things to watch over the next week. If San Fransisco is going to make a move in the West, this next 20 games could be it. They play 3 of the 6 under .500 teams in the AL and play no current playoff teams. Meanwhile, Vegas has 7 games against Ottawa and Portland has a series with Ottawa and Boston. I think the next Wrap will see San Fransisco as the clear #1 wild card team with Portland still in control of the South and Vegas moving to the middle of the wildcard pack. Kansas City starts out with Ottawa but then has 4 straight series against under .500 teams. Their competition in the South, El Paso and Nashville, has only slightly tougher schedules and this 20 games should help boost all 3 of these teams in the wildcard race but will probably do nothing to help us figure out the South.
So my predictions for seedings in the AL will probably only get one right. They are in order: Ottawa, Portland, Boston, Nashville, San Fransisco, El Paso. That means I predict that Ottawa is the only good team in the AL, Kansas City will collapse and be overceom by both Nashville and El Paso, Nashville’s youth will emerge, and Boston has an easy ride from here.
3. Early World Series Prediction Based on my predicted seedings, I see Burlington defeating Toledo in the NLCS and Ottawa defeating anyone and everyone else in the AL. Seriously, anyone in the AL beating Ottawa this season would be the biggest playoff upset in BSA history. Ottawa is that good and the rest of the AL is that mediocre. Our long time owners may think Boston losing to KC in season 4 was up there, but go back and look at how good that KC team was and some of the other teams in the AL as well and we’ll see Ottawa is way, way better compared to the competition than Boston was then. From my total guesswork of seedings in the AL, I’d predict San Fransisco to meet them in the ALCS. If anyone upsets Ottawa, any team that makes it form the NL will be favored to win the series. If Ottawa is playing Burlington, Augusta, or Toledo, they will be slight favorites but any of those match ups will produce a pretty epic Series. Ottawa has to be the favorite to win at this point and is the easy prediction.
4. MVP Predictions Do I even need to look at stats to predict the same old same old of Juan Park in the NL and Christopher Posey in the AL? I don’t, so let’s look at who will compete for second place. Garrett Thames is a perennial contender in the AL and is on pace to hit over .300, bang 40 plus homers, and swipe over 30 bases. Those are MVP caliber numbers in many seasons. Brian Kim has posted numbers worthy of being on the ballot, but his fielding numbers will keep him from being on the ballot just like they kept him from the all star game (because we all know writers often say “Yeah, I know him hit over .350 and hit over 35 homers with over 100 RBI, but he didn’t play right field all that well”. In the NL, Eugenio Sosa may not garner a ton of votes since he doesn’t have gaudy power numbers, but he is probably now the best all around player in the NL and the best leadoff type hitter in the BSA.
5. Cy Young Prediction Pitching awards are never as easy to predict as everyone values things a little differently. Some value wins, others don’t look at wins at all and look at WHIP and ERA, and others factor in K. I’ve said before I personally evaluate with this order of importance: WHIP, ERA, Wins, K. How you compare relievers is a whole different conversation. In the NL, I believe Rudy Tabaka is the clear winner, but I thought he was the clear winner two seasons ago as well. Tabaka set the single season WHIP mark last year at .86 and is shattering that mark so far at .76. The biggest question about Tabaka is how in the world he has lost 4 games this season. If he keeps his current pace, at the age of 25 in his first 3 seasons of ML play, he will have produced the best back to back and the best 3 consecutive season of any pitcher in BSA history with the only comparable and debatable numbers coming from Hall of Famer Rube Daniels in seasons 7-9. Other notable NL starters who would have a chance in season without Tabaka include Boomer Hoffman , Greg Johnstone , Kevin Higginson , and Ariel Calles. In the AL, I think Tony Tanaka is also a clear favorite. He is second in wins with a 17-1 record, leads the league in WHIP, and is second in ERA. Mitch Morehead is leading the league in ERA and is right behind Tanaka in WHIP, but with only an 8-5 record I see little chance he even competes with Tanaka. Other notable AL possibilities include Trace Woods , Victor Guerra , Ben Sherman, and Ottawa closer Ken Brantley.
6. Other award predictions Bono Snyder might become the oldest ROY winner in history at age 29. His biggest competition should be Chun-Lim Martin, who has had a solid rookie campaign as a starter with 8 wins and a 3.26 ERA. In the NL, Greg Johnstone is 13-2 with a 2.41 and a 1.09 WHIP. While Ewell Priest and Andrea Parker have had very good seasons to start their careers, Johnstone should walk away with this one.
7. Stat Watch Stolen bases are all but a forgotten stat in HBD, but Mikey McGuire has moved into 2nd place in the all time chart. He is still 130 behind all time leader Garret Vernon. Vernon was a model of consistency, posting 7 straight season of over 80 steals and then 2 more after that of over 70. Mcguire hasn’t had as many seasons as Vernon had, but he has posted 4 100 plus season and 2 more 90 plus seasons. He is sitting at 78 right now with 50 games to go, so if he keeps his current pace, he should top 100 again which would increase his record of single season with over 100 stolen bases to 5 and could put him within range to break the record next season
8. The curious case of Willy Strauss Willy Strauss has always looked like he would be at least a reliable power hitter with a good glove, but in his younger days looked to be an impact player who could play most anywhere on the field. I know because I once traded for Strauss as a young prospect during my rebuilding phase in exchange for Julio Nunez, a solid starting pitcher still in his prime. On paper, Strauss looked like he could hit in the middle of my order and play either CF or third base really well. But Wily Strauss is one of those cases in this game that is based on numbers where the numbers don’t make sense. Looking at his numbers now 10 season later, Strauss has never hit more than 27 homeruns in spite of having power in the mid 80s and splits in the 70s/80s. With an average contact and eye, he never looked like he would hit for high average, but he certainly looked like a reliable power hitter. But he certainly looked like better than a career .247 hitter. He has proved to be a reliable fielder, but never anything special. He’s now at 29, in his prime, and his line is .228/.286/.439 in an extrememly powerful lineup. When you just look at other 3B around the league, his numbers are just peculiar. Look at Arthur Stewart who already has more homers this season than Strauss ever has had in a season. Arthur Putnam has similar numbers in contact and eye but lower numbers in power and with lower splits particularly against righthanders and he hit .295 with 28 homers last season and is a career .277 hitter. Strauss has better numbers in every hitting category except that Putnam has 2 better in eye and Putnam is considerably better statistically. Willy Strauss will always be one of the oddest cases to me of a player whose numbers never matched his output. Who is your Willy Strauss?
9. Playoff Drought You’ll see in number 10 what made me look this up, but I wondered who in the BSA had been out of the playoffs for the longest time. Scranton currently has the longest streak with 15 straight playoff-less seasons, all losing seasons. Washington is in second with 11 straight. Charlotte holds the record, going the first 19 seasons before having their first winning season and winning their division. They have only made the playoffs twice in their history though they have had hard luck recently in missing the playoffs with 89, 87 and 85 win seasons
10. Back to Reality The Pittsburgh Pirates have made the playoffs. Is life now some twisted episode of the twilight zone? The Yankees and their 200 million dollar payroll will be at home watching the Pirates in the playoffs. That’s messed up. Not as messed up as having 2 teams play one baseball game to decide who moves on in the playoffs,but it’s pretty messed up. If I have to watch the Reds lose a one game playoff series and then the Cardinals go on to the World Series, I’m sending Bud Selig a ham for Christmas.
This week I’m going to change the pace a little bit sine we just finished All Star weekend. I’m going to create my own all-star team using MLB guidelines. 32 man roster (as opposed to 30) and there must be one player from each team. No injury replacements and I’m not looking at when pitchers started games. I will choose starters since there is no fan voting, but I will pretend a little as if there was fan voting, considering history, team and popularity/stardom since that is a part of the real All-Star game. That also means defense will barely be considered since it’s very rare that I hear someone say “So and So should have been on the all star team, have seen his fielding percentage?!?” Without looking at anything yet, these may end up very similar to the actual teams but I guess we’ll find out in the end. Feel free to post your own teams!
C Christopher Huff (Ott)
1B Gaylord Rasmussen (Nas)
2B Pat Mays (Hun)
3B Tomas Miro (Ott)
SS Glenn Brown (Van)
OF Christopher Posey (Ott)
OF Brian Kim (Sco)
OF Garrett Thames (KC)
DH Kaito Pan (Ott)
SP Tony Tanaka (Ott)
Reserves Gene Cain (Ott) Francisco Torres (Nas) Ron Quantrill (Roc) Arthur Ward (Bal) Shigetoshi Kwon (Bos) Chase Johnson (Char) Frank Winchester (Scr) Jayson Caruso (Syr) Marvin Piper (KC) Jose Romo (Ott)
Pitchers Trace Woods (Ott) Victor Guerra (Ott) Dan Pritchett (Ott) Sean Downs (Syr) Ben Sherman (SF) Michael Chang (LV) Diego Ramirez (KC) Roy Washington (Por) Carlos Rios (Nas) Edgar Matos (Nas) Bernie Allen (Roc) Chun-Lim Martin (Nas)
C Ewell Priest (Was)
1B Juan Park (Aug)
2B Brian Canseco (Hon)
3B Tony Ellis (Was)
SS Yamil Pujols (Cin)
OF Eugenio Sosa (Bur)
OF Dennis Taylor (Was)
OF Andrea Parker (Sac)
SP Rudy Tabaka (Bur)
Reserves John Clark (Aug) Ken Victorino (Was) Polin Castilla (Was) Miguel Romano (Cin) Alexi Crespo (Boi) Ralph Johnson (Aus) Macbeth Masterson (Col) Henderson Stinnett (Mem) Ebenezer Robinson (Ric) Oswaldo Rivera (Tol) Benito Rodriguez (Tol)
Pitchers Boomer Hoffman (Tol) Lorenzo Sanchez (Aug) Cookie Mota (Tol) Cookie Beltre (Was) Greg Johnstone (Aug) Kevin Higginson (LA) Walter DaVanon (Aug) Ramiro Delgado (Far) Jair Bonilla (Bur) Brian Hurst (NO) Ariel Calles (TB) Sam Blank (Tol)
AL Notes: So I guess I pretty much could have said the NL versus Ottawa. 5 starters, 2 bench players, and 3 pitchers is absurd. They could have had 1 or 2 more too. They did have 3 starting roles that could have goned a different direction. C Huff got the nod over Rochester’s Ron Quantrill based on history and not numbers. If there was voting, Huff would be the starter so it was close enough I went with him. The same rationale goes for 3B Tomas Miro, having the more well known name as part of Ottawa’s killer lineup. Nashville’s Torres and Miro were pretty much tied when it came to numbers and Torres will probably be the AL’s starting 3B for a long, long time. Tanaka at 14-1 was the pretty clear choice for starting pitcher, but Carlos Rios was closer than you might think. The AL manager decided to only go with one shortstop after looking at his options. In the end, 10 of the 13 pitchers were the same and of the 17 WIS chosen position all stars, 13 were the same.
NL notes: Washington’s lineup powers the NL team with 3 starters, 2 reserves, and 1 pitcher. Toledo and Augusta also had 5, which means half of the NL team came from 3 clubs. There weren’t really any close races for starting positions, but the tightest ones were at 3B between Wasington’s Tony Ellis and Cincy’s Miguel Romano and in the outfield between Sacramento’s Andre Parker and Boise’s Alexi Crespo. The NL manager did opt for two shortstops, but only went with one catcher and decided that Washington’s Ken Victorino would be the backup ther even though he has predominately played first base this season. When compared with the WIS version of the all stars, 11 of the 14 pitchers are the same and of the 16 position players, 11 were the same.
So in total, out of the 60 players WIS put on their all star team (I chose 64), we had 45 of the same players. So I chose 75 percent of the players WIS did. I don’t know if that makes this a futile effort or not, but it was interesting to see who I chose when I didn’t look at their all start team at all and just looked by team stats and league leaders. Adding in the rule of having a player from each team didn’t have a huge impact either, partially because I added 4 players which helped with that aspect, but also because 11 teams had players represented on both of WIS’ chosen teams. Taking out the 4 that were added, that meant only 6 players had to be different (10 percent).
With the amateur draft happening in the last week, we’ll take some time to review some of the highlights from our new pool of prospects.
1. Best player in the draft The first player chosen isn’t always the best player, but in this case it is. Steve Laffey is the new cornerstone of El Paso’s rebuilding project and you can’t do much better than a top of the line starting pitcher. Laffey really has no weakness. He projects to be extremely durable and will be a workhorse who pitches a ton of innings, has the control and splits of a dominant starter, won’t be injury prone, and has the temperament to both progress well and stay in his prime for a long time. If you had to pick out a weakness, it would be that he doesn’t have a dominant pitch, but none of his pitches are below 50 and 3 of his pitches project to be solid. With this pick, Mike should prepare himself for trade offers from Glen for a long, long time.
2. Best pick of the draft With this being one of the BSA’s deeper drafts in a while, there are a number of candidates for this title. With this title, we are looking for value particularly at positions that are either more valuable or harder to come by. So a starting pitcher is more likely to gain this title than say a first baseman. With that in mind, my choice is Boise’s pick at 15 in Curtis Moehler . He is an everyday center fielder with gold glove caliber fielding ability and the kind of bat and speed that will make him probably the most proficient center fielder in the BSA. If his offense progresses, he will be an annual MVP candidate with the defensive numbers he will put up along side his base running numbers. The caveat is his age. By the time Moehler is ready to play, he’ll be 26. The trap in drafting college players is their development window is so narrow that they can easily fizzle long before they achieve their potential. When you look at his patience, temper, and makeup, there is a good chance he never develops properly and is just a high range player with an average bat at best who can steal a few bases. And injury is a strong possibility with his health rating and that would hurt his development immensely. None the less, I think the value of this position at this spot in the draft still makes it the best pick of the draft now, but there is a good chance that hindsight will show us that title belongs to someone else.
3. Best team draft One of the reasons that I won’t do a full draft evaluation is because my scouting numbers leave a lot of holes in what I can see in terms of drafted players, so that makes these kinds of assessments difficult. San Fransisco would be the easy choice here when it seems like they could field a full lineup of first round players, but I can’t see any of the players they haven’t signed and that leaves me with some questions. If they sign, San Fran will probably be the clear winner. But I personally like Columbus’ draft a lot. Jamie Cho has the potential to be an elite power hitter and a perennial all star. Later in the first round they landed RP Matt Marte , who has all the stuff to be a great closer with the lone mark of the question of his stamina. At the beginning of the compensation round, they chose Jake Moeller . While the club may not have ideally wanted another power hitting corner outfielder, thinking about Moeller hitting behind Cho might be exciting to the chicks in Columbus (they dig the long ball). Honorable mentions: Scranton (probably the pick if their top pick signs), Fargo (same as Scranton), and Burlington
4. First round highlights Signability was the talk of the town after this draft. The first round was littered with question marks and we’ll spend the rest of the season waiting to see who really had the best draft. It’s not just shocking that 10 picks still have not signed, but that 3 of the top 5 have yet to sign. Chad Fiore , Amp Knight , and Jamie Cho all had signability concerns but have decided to sign on with their respective teams.
5. Sandwich round highlights Jimmie Feliz was taken by Fargo with the first pick in the compensation round and has the opportunity to be one of the best relievers coming out of this draft. I also like San Fransisco’s pickup of Hamish Crick . His RH split is a concern, but he has the tools to be a reliable starter at the back end of the rotation.
6. Best picks after first round pick The top of the second round still had a lot of talent available (and more signability issues with 12 second round picks still unsigned). Fargo selected Luther Magnusson who could be a nice back end starter with 4 good pitches, solid velocity, and doesn’t give up the long ball. Baltimore found SS Glenn Laker , who could be a rare find as a legit defensive shortstop with a major league bat if his glove develops properly. Relievers can often be mined in the second and third rounds, and Newe Orleans found a gem in Dave Lester . And Syracuse landed DH Joey Barnes at pick 145 in the 4th round. Barnes isn’t a world beater, but to find a potentially major league caliber bat at pick 145 has to be applauded.
7. Worst pick Augusta’s Zach Creek wins the dubious honor of the worst pick. Even at the end of the first round, you hope to land someone who can contribute on your major league team. Creek’s pitches look major league quality and his splits are good enough with those pitches, but his control is abysmal. And at 22, his developmental curve is not that great. We could debate whether some of the picks used on unsignable players were worse, but of the players actually chosen, Creek looks from my view point to be the worst use of a pick.
8. Around the NL Let’s not focus completely on prospects and draft picks and look and see what’s happened in the last week. Augusta has staked its claim as the best team in the NL, already 11 games up in one of the most difficult divisions over the past few seasons. Washington is still hanging around in the East, only a game behind Toledo. The South not long ago was the pride of the NL but at almost the midway point no team is above .500. After dropping to third place last season, Boise seems to have regained control of the West. Columbus is another surprise team along with Washington, only a game back of Burlington in the wildcard race and a serious competitor for a playoff spot this year. After a somewhat surprising season 27, Cincinnati sits at the bottom of the NL and is retooling.
9. Around the AL Ottawa is on one of the most ridiculous runs in BSA history, posting a whopping .816 winning percentage so far. The AL East is up for grabs this year with every team under .500 and the top 3 teams within 4 games of first. Kansas City has been on a solid run of their own in the South, but Nashville is still holding them off. Those 2 teams should be in a dogfight down the stretch. Portland is still leading the way in the AL West, already amassing a 7 game lead. Las Vegas is spiraling after losing 7 straight and may be resigned already to the wild card race.
10. Back to Reality – Our weekly reminder that HBD isn’t real! NFL week one is always great here where I live. I live near Cleveland, so week 1 is always their reality check that brings their hopes into perspective and makes them realize they’re still the Browns. You may think it’s the same where you live with your bad franchise, but it isn’t. Cleveland is the pit of hopelessness. Cleveland has not had a major sports championship since 1964. That’s almost 50 years. It’s not like one team blows, they all do. They’ve had their close calls with success, but they get just close enough to taste it but can’t hold on to it. But the Browns are the crown jewel, far and away the team Cleveland cares about the most. And they have now lost 9 straight opening day games. 9 straight. It is the annual day of deflated hope in Northeast Ohio. When do you lose hope in your team?