2008 Midseason Review (Team)

Team Review

The Montis are out to their best start in team history, compiling a 68-13 (.840) record at the halfway point on the back of an insane-sounding 2.25 team ERA on the strength of ace starter Nathan Yan’s dominating 0.85 ERA at 202IP, pacing the second-place leader by a staggering 50 innings and accounting for a full 27.3% of the team’s innings. The team has been hit with two significant injuries however, taking out arguably their 2nd-hottest pitcher, SP4 Terrence Zhao and RF slugger Francis Chen.

The Lineup

Alan Wong, Catcher: .297-.342-.569 in 339PA | 7.00 RC/27 | 21HR 57RBI 59R 3SB

The rookie catcher has actually spent more time at 3B than C, as incumbent third basewoman Wissmath has slid over to the middle infield for 44 games this season. He’s now at 363 innings (41 games) played at 3B and 327+2/3 (40 games) innings at C. Despite the defensive juggling, Wong has been about as consistent as they come, hitting a combined .297-.344-.575 in May and June to mostly match his April numbers (.297-.342-.554). He’s tied for 2nd on the team with 21 homeruns, and ranks 3rd with 57 RBI’s, and Daly City appears to have finally found a new long-term starter at one of the C or 3B position. Wong also makes up one of the FIVE Daly City position players named to the All-Star team!

Tina “Experimental ErRR!!” Quach, Backup Catcher: .336-.414-.445 in 274PA | 7.76RC/27 | 4HR 36RBI 41R 4SB

Worried about her playing time at the beginning of the season, Quach has hit her way into the lineup and stayed there – with incumbent backup Paz hitting atrociously, and original starting C Wong taking over most of the 3B duties, Quach has managed 33 games at catcher, and split another 21 games between 3B, LF, and RF.  After the hot start in April, Quach barely let up – she hit .326-.415-.424, and a torrid June saw her move up to the #2 slot (just behind Ortiz and ahead of Lew), where she racked up a team-leading 25 runs for the month. Her AVG (.336) and OBP (.414) both place 2nd on the team (barely behind Lew and Kwong, respectively), and the 5th year veteran is looking at a career year across most categories if she keeps up her pace.

Marco Paz, Backup Catcher: .183-.227-.333 in 66PA | 1.86 RC/27 | 2HR 10RBI 4R 0SB

Paz has continued to struggle, though he’s managed to punctuate those cold streaks with dramatic homeruns. On June 7th against the Asia Giants, Paz launched a 412 foot grand slam for his 2nd homer of the year. Alas, he’s still hitting just .183-227-.333 on the year, and is seeing his play time marginalized with the great successes of Quach and Wong at Catcher.

Derek Lew, First Baseman: .344-.380-.691 in 371PA | 10.08 RC/27 | 21HR 75RBI 69R 5SB

The veteran’s career year continues, as he hit .333-.373-.671 over May-June, and is now .344-.380-.691 overall on the season, with a 1.071 OPS, 10.08 RC/27 and 88.9 RC so far. Those numbers all rank in the top-3 in the league, and he’s within striking distance of the all-time Daly City marks (1.149 OPS by Ted Kwong in 2007, 10.95 RC/27 by Norman Ho in 2003, and 165.53 RC by Ho in 2003). Lew’s also hit FIFTY (50!) doubles so far this season – the mark leads the UL by a huge margin (2nd-place Boba Fett has just 30), and would obliterate the record of 78 set just last year by Lew. Needless to say, the 6th-year veteran topped the All-Star voting for the 1B position.

Cristian Ortiz, Second Baseman: .316-.373-.564 in 322PA | 8.14 RC/27 | 13HR 51RBI 64R 49SB

Ortiz was on a hot pace through May, hitting .337-372-.673 (along with 17 more steals) from the leadoff spot. On May 26th, though, he suffered an errant pitch to the head, which left him for out for two weeks with blurry vision. Returning in the second half of June, Ortiz hit .309-.377-.515 with 12 more steals, putting him at 49 at the halfway mark. He leads the league by a wide margin, but after the missed injury time breaking last year’s record (he’s 63 away) seems a momentous task. Ortiz’s offensive capabilities at 2B earned him his 2nd straight nod for the All-Star game.

Henry “Mr.” Nghe, Shortstop: .309-.384-.472 in 204PA | 7.27 RC/27 | 6HR 31RBI 41R 6SB

The elder has seen a resurgence of late – after seeing himself played out after a not bad yet not amazing May (.297-.366-.378), Nghe has exploded in June, going .361-.440-.639 in a performance reminiscent of prime 2005 Nghe. At .309-.384-.472, Nghe is surprisingly 3rd on the team in OBP, and #3 in walks despite ranking 2nd-to-last in plate appearances among starters.

Salgu “Swissmath” Wissmath, Third Basewoman: .330-.374-.510 in 281PA | 7.82 RC/27 | 9HR 56RBI 47R 12SB

It’s been an impressive two months for Swissmath, who’s been shuffling all across the infield during stints of ineffectiveness by Nghe and Ortiz’s eye injury. To date she’s logged 30 games at SS, 25 games at 3B, and 14 games at 2B. While handling those defensive duties gracefully, she’s kicked up her hitting abilities to an all-new Ortiz-like level. From May-June she hit .345-.386-.552, and has already eclipsed last year’s power totals in just 2/3 of the games. Surprisingly she ranks 4th on the team in RBIs, after she piled up 30 in June, including 10 in a 2-game span on June 12-13 that earned her Batter of the Week honors (she went .429-.448-.821 with 13 RBI’s in all that week). The late surge has lifted Wissmath into her first ever All-Star appearance.

Joanna Maung, Saung-gah Basewoman: .211-.286-.237 in 42PA | 2.29 RC/27 | 0HR 2RBI 3R 0SB

Batting an abysmal .211-.286-.237, Maung seems to have been all but forgotten as an element in Daly City’s lineup – she had 10 plate appearances in May, and 9 in June, and her 42PA put her on track for the lowest batter usage since 2004.

Ted Kwong, Leftfielder: .329-.416-.645 in 365PA | 10.50 RC/27 | 23HR 75RBI 76R 19SB

It hasn’t been the soaring heights of his rookie season, but Ted has trucked along splendidly, going .328-.424-.623 in May-June. He’s neck-and-neck with 1B Lew in the HR and RBI categories, leading the team with 23 homeruns and tying with Lew for the RBI-lead with 75. Disappointingly, Kwong’s HR rate (once per 13.6 AB’s) hasn’t kept up with his prodigious rookie season (once per 11.8 AB’s) – he’ll need to dial it up in the 2nd half if he hopes to hit the 50 HR mark he just barely missed out on last season.

Jessica Kuo, Centerfielder: .286-.302-.336 in 268PA | 3.92 RC/27 | 2HR 25RBI 32R 39SB

For a moment in May, the talented Kuo seemed to have turned a corner in the stolen base race – she set a new single-game record with six stolen bases on 2008 May 7, running wild on sophomore Asia Giants backup catcher Eugene Beasley. On May 13, she put up a 3-steal performance against the Europen Cricketeers to tie Ortiz at 30 steals (giving her 17 steals in just 12 games), and she finally pushed ahead of him with a steal each on May 14 and 15. Her reign wouldn’t last long, however – hampered by a terrible OBP performance, Kuo found the steal opportunities few-and-far between, compiling only a .219 OBP in 8 games through the rest of May, with just 1 more steal (against 2 caught stealing attempts). June saw a further decline in Kuo’s OBP (.273 for the month), and she managed just 6 steals while playing in 2/3 of the team’s games. For the season she’s batting .286-.302-.336- the OBP and SLG are by far the lowest on the team of those with regular playing time (everyone aside from Paz and Maung).

Francis Chen, Rightfielder: .229-.363-.485 in 281PA | 6.56 RC/27 | 15HR 49RBI 49R 12SB

After a strong start to April, Chen faltered mightily in May, as he his .219-.342-.396, with only 5 home runs. His stroke got even colder in June, as he hit .171-.341-.371. Perhaps mercifully, on June 15 Chen broke his finger while diving for the 27th out (he made the catch) – the injury will set him on the DL for 4 weeks, though the type of injury will mean that Chen won’t get much training time in between. He’s batting .229-.363-.485 so far, which would be a career-high OBP, but significant regression in power compared tohis breakthrough 2007 campaign.

Tiffany Ho, Backup Outfielder: .312-.347-.426 in 216PA | 5.40 RC/27 | 4HR 26RBI 29R 4SB

After a sluggish start to the season, Ho seems to be hitting like her normal self these days, rejuvenated by a .365-.394-.448 June that brought her overall line up to .312-.347-.426. With two more HR this season, Ho has set a career high of 4 and DOUBLED her career total in just half a sesaon, although a lack of doubles and triples has put her SLG in line with last year’s. Ho also carried a career-high 20 game hitting streak from May 23 – June 15. With a floundering Kuo and injured Chen, Ho has presently secured a starting role between the two positions (8 games in LF, 19 games in CF, and 23 games in RF).

Skyler Reid, Designated Hitter: .277-.318-.479 in 201PA | 5.29 RC/27 | 6HR 22RBI 23R 0SB

Reid hit a solid .288-.322-.511 in May-June, good enough to reclaim the majority of DH starts after losing his starting role after a tough April. With just the 8th-best OPS and 9th-best OBP on the team, though, his hold is tenuous at best.

The Bullpen

Nathan Yan, #1 Starting Pitcher: .091-.119-.174 in 202IP | 0.85ERA 0.38WHIP | 21-1 412K 10SHO

Through the first half of the season, Yan has put forth staggering counting stats – after 23 starts he sits at 21-1, with 202 innings pitched (8.78 per inning), 21 complete games, 10 shutouts, and a staggering 412 strikeouts. Despite the heavy workload (he’s pitched 27.3% of the team’s innings thus far), Yan’s rate stats have held up – his 0.85 ERA would be the 2nd-best of his career, and his 0.38 WHIP and 18.4 K/9 are career-bests if he can maintain them. Yan also threw his 3rd no-hitter on the season on May 15, a 0-walk, 0-HBP affair that was AGAIN broken up by a fielding error.

Whitney Esguerra, #2 Starting Pitcher: .237-.283-.344 in 107IP | 3.11ERA 1.12WHIP | 10-3 135K 1SHO

In a season of struggle, Esguerra finally notched her first (and so far only) shutout of the season on May 20, but outside of that performance she’s been rocky – she’s pitched a quality start only 73.3% of the time, compared to her stellar 93.3% mark last season. Despite that, she’s still 2nd on the team in wins and strikeouts (and 3rd in the league behind Kroger), with a 10-3 record and 135 K’s (a career-best 11.4 K’s/9).

Samantha Chin, #3 Starting Pitcher: .204-.283-.298 in 104IP | 2.60ERA 1.02WHIP 10.0K/9 | 9-2 116K 1SHO

Chin stumbled out of the gate, giving up 6 runs in 2+1/3 innings in her first May start. She’s settled down ever since, throwing 8 straight quality starts and notching her first shutout of the season on June 17 against the Mozilla Firefoxes and continuing to throw fire with a 10.0 K/9 mark, the 4th best in the league.

Terrence Zhao, Starting Pitcher #4: .197-.266-.291 in 71IP | 1.27 ERA 1.03WHIP 10.5K/9 | 8-0 83K 3SHO

After a good start in April, Zhao was absolutely untouchable in May, throwing three straight shutouts to start the month, including a 4-hit, 1-walk, 13-K beauty on May 25 against the Microsoft Longhorns. He was well on his way to a 4th consecutive shutout on May 30 against the US Patriots, throwing 6+2/3 innings before a rain delay shut down the game for 63 minutes. Tragically Zhao seemed to have cooled down too much during the downtown – he returned after the delay and immediately ruptured his tricep tendon, and injury which will put him out for the next 8-9 weeks. Fortunately with Yan pitching on 3 days rest this season, the 5-man rotation was able to pick up most of the slack in June, ceding just 1 start to long reliever Kelley Cox, so the rotation looks to be alright until Zhao’s return in August.

Alfred Vong, Starting Pitcher #5: .244-.284-.405 in 77IP | 3.74ERA 1.10WHIP 6.8K/9| 7-2 58K 0SHO

Vong struggled for most of May-June, giving up at least 3 runs and not making it out of the 7th in all but 1 of his 8 starts. That one start was a beauty however, a 1-run, complete-game effort against the Mozilla Firefoxes – and he got the win this time. Vong’s fundamental numbers are just about in line with last year’s, as the Montis will look for one of their back-of-rotation starters to make a leap forward to replace the injured #4 Zhao.

Sean Wade, Starting Pitcher #6: .258-.306-.362 in 57+1/3IP | 3.92ERA 1.17WHIP 7.1K/9 | 5-2 45K 2SHO

Pressed into the #5 starting role after Zhao’s tricep injury, Wade has perhaps flashed the hottest and coldest of any pitcher in the rotation. Despite making just 8 starts, Wade is in fact 3rd on the team with 3CG and 2SHO on the season – he’s blanked the European Cricketeers twice on May 13 and June 22. Sandwiched between those starts, however, has been a couple of ugly outings in which he gave up 7 runs each to the Apple Septic Tanks and the Cricketeers. Overall his marks – 3.92ERA, 1.17 WHIP – have been decent, certainly an improvement over the 2007 campaign that lost him his starting job.

Kelley Cox, Long Reliever: .181-.262-.252 in 35IP | 1.54ERA 1.06WHIP 6.9K/9 | 2-0 0HLD 0SV 27K

Cox has pitched masterfully and blossomed into Daly City’s most reliable reliever. She ended May going into a 10+1/3 inning scoreless stretch. That combined with her endurance has led her into the #6 spot starting role after Zhao’s injury, in which she performed masterfully, giving up just a single earned run in 7 innings, though she was thwarted by 2 unearned runs off of fielding errors by Nghe and Wissmath. Overall she worked a heavy 26+2/3 innings over May-June, achieving a 1.35ERA. With the All-Star Break she likely won’t see another start until late-July, but if she performs well she might be a prime candidate to leapfrog Vong and Wade intot he #4 slot.

Connie Chen, Middle Reliever: .258-.314-.366 in 24IP | 3.38ERA 1.33WHIP 7.1K/9 | 1-1 19K 10HLD 1SV

Connie had a rough go in May, putting up a 6.23ERA in 8+2/3 innings, including an ugly 4-run apperance on May 1st, which saw her temporarily lose the setup role. She rebounded in June, throwing 8+1/3 innings at a 2.16ERA clip.

Bernadette Dugtong, Middle Reliever: .233-.289-.333 in 23IP | 2.35ERA 1.17WHIP 7.4K/9 | 1-0 1HLD 2SV 19K

Dugtong was the May workhorse, throwing 11 brilliant innings with just a single run given up (0.82 ERA). She also earned herself both a clutch win and a 3-inning save in that span! Unfortunately that magic was to run out in June, where she threw just 5+2/3 innings with a 4.77 ERA.

Katie Clayton, Setup Reliever: .200-.222-.320 in 7IP | 3.86ERA 0.86WHIP 10.3K/9 | 0-0 8K 3HLD 0SV

Called up in early June to shore up the bullpen after the Zhao injury and Cox’s subsequent move into the rotation, the old veteran – one of the original 2003 squad – has mostly pitched brilliantly, starting off her revival with 5 PERFECT innings in her first 5 appearances. Unfortunately that magic ran out at a critical time in an ugly June 19th appearance relieving Esguerra, in which she failed to clear inherited runners or get out of the inning, giving up 3 fateful runs in what was eventually a 4-6 loss (credited to Esguerra). Still with Cox lost to the rotation for 6 more weeks and the rest of the bullpen performing inconsistently, the Montis will rely heavily on her veteran presence down the stretch.

Josiah Leong, Closer: .167-.228-.272 in 33IP | 2.18ERA 0.82WHIP 13.6K/9 | 4-2 0HLD 13SV 50K

Leong has begun to lock things down, allowing just 3 runs and 14 baserunners in 19+2/3 innings (1.37ERA, 0.71WHIP), while securing 8 saves and a win. He did take one loss in that span, in a Herculean effort against Mozilla on May 24th – entering in the 10th after 9 innings of 1-run baseball by Samantha Chin, Leong held off the Firefoxes for 6+2/3 innings and 84 pitches while Mozilla swapped in 5 different relievers from their bullpen, eventually ceding a run in the 16th for the loss. Overall Leong is shattering the fundamental marks over his previous season, finally controlling his walks (just 2.2BB/9, down from 4.7 last season) and ratcheting up his strikeout rate (13.6K/9). He’s at just 13 saves on the season and isn’t likely to touch his high-water mark of 40, but that’s more a product of Daly City’s dominant .840 record and blowouts.

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Season-so-far: May 1, 2008

Team Review

Things have gotten off to a red-hot start for the Daly City Montis, who opened up with a dominant 25-3 (.893) April and currently ride a 17-game winning streak. The team leads the league in scoring with 179 runs (the second-place Tokyo Samurai have 164), but has absolutely dominated on the defensive side, giving up just 66 runs (second-place Paris Forfeiters have 122). They’re led by #1 Starting Pitcher Nathan Yan’s workhorse efforts (his 70 innings are a whopping 27.2% of the team’s total), but the rest of the team hasn’t slouched – #2 Starter Whitney Esguerra actually holds the team’s highest ERA at 3.44.

Last year’s runner-up in the UL, the Microsoft Longhorns, currently sit at the bottom of the Galactica Division at 11-17 (.393). They’ve mostly been done in by horrendous pitching – their 6.09 ERA ranks dead last in the league, and are a far cry from last year’s #3 spot. In the SWL, Canon leads the pace at 19-9 (.679), with an impressive 4.08 ERA.

The Lineup

Alan Wong, Catcher: The Berkeley Independent League import started slow – by 4/13 he had yet to display any of his touted power potential in those first 39 plate appearances, with just 8 singles to his name (a sad .205/.205/.205 line). After debuting at #4 in the batting order, he had dropped all the way to the 8th slot as the team’s worst hitter. On April 14, however, Wong hit his first career homerun, a 392ft shot off of Caribbean Pirates reliever James Baker. The rookie has been on a tear ever since, batting .355-.420-.774 with 7 homeruns, 16 runs, and 18 RBIs over just 15 games, and is setting up nicely as the fourth power pillar in a quickly-crowding Daly City lineup.

Marco Paz, Backup Catcher: Paz did not have a great April – he’s hit just .182-.229-.333, though he does have the 1 homerun to his credit. With the emergence of new C Alan Wong, and former C Tina Quach’s hot start, the plate appearances may be fewer and farther between for the displaced Paz.

Tina Quach, Super Utility: Quach was worried about her role going into the season, ranking 3rd in the depth chart at a multitude of positions, but with no clear avenue to any consistent starting position. Perhaps that pre-season diss was motivation enough – Quach has played like a woman on fire in April, batting .370-.417-.519 to post the 3rd-best OPS on the team at .935 while filling in at catcher, third base, and DH. Impressively, she hasn’t yet struck out this season in 61 plate appearances.

Derek Lew, First Baseman: The longtime offensive stalwart opened the season batting #6. While the veteran of five seasons had been consistent, the prevailing view was that incoming power hitters like rookie C Wong would surpass his roundhouse power, and speedsters like 2B Ortiz and CF Kuo were a better fit at the top of the order. Suffice to say, the rumors of Lew’s plateau and surpassing were GREATLY exaggerated. At age 19, Lew has developed a whole new gear, batting an absurd .367-.400-.734 (that 1.134 OPS leads the team and is good for 2nd in the league). He leads the UL in AVG, Hits, 2B, and is tied for 6th in HR, and has re-established himself in the running for the Batter of the Year award (which he won in 2006).

Cristian Ortiz, Second Baseman: Ortiz seems to have firmly entrenched himself at the #2 slot, where he’s scoring runs at a prodigious pace behind Daly City’s loaded #3-6 lineup. He leads the league with 30 runs on his .371 OBP, and is keeping close pace with last season’s steals record at 20 SB.

Henry “Mr.” Nghe, Shortstop: The old shortstop’s grip on his position is starting to slip – already on a tight leash, his .261-.333-.348 line ranks him 3rd-last on the team in OPS, and lags behind backup 3B Wissmath’s .731, who threatens to slide into his position (she’s actually the far better defender) to make way for a stronger hitter at 3B.

Salgu “Swissmath” Wissmath, Third Basewoman: Swissmath’s season so far has been pedestrian – she’s batting .284-.342-.388 while mostly toiling away at the bottom of the order and splitting time between 3B and SS. She’s done well in the clutch, however, batting .500-.600-1.125 in close/late situations and .364-.462-.727 with runners in scoring position. Defensively, she’s displayed great range, but has been sloppy while splitting duties across the two positions – her 3 errors lead the team so far.

Joanna Maung, Saung-gah-basewoman: Maung hasn’t shown much in her limited time, putting together a .238-.304-.286 line. Kept primarily for her clutch pinch hitting apperances, she did manage a hit-by-pitch RBI in her lone chance so far.

Ted Kwong, Leftfielder: The reigning MVP has slowed down lately (a sad .111-.292-.333 in the last 5 games), but is still on a torrid pace for the season – he’s batting .330-.405-.688, 2nd in HR, 2nd in RBIs, and 3rd in OPS. From the middle of the order he’s piled up 31 RBIs and 29 Runs, and leads the league with 5 intentional walks. He’s also put up 10 steals, mostly as a tag-along after getting on-base behind Kuo/Ortiz.

Jessica Kuo, Centerfielder: Kuo did well, but didn’t exactly set the world on fire from the leadoff spot with a .327 OBP, including a paltry .214-.267-.214 against LHP. With a clog of power hitters clamoring for more plate appearances, she’ll likely drop back to her old #9 slot, serving as a second leadoff hitter from the bottom of the order. Her base-stealing pace has also lagged behind last year’s – at 13 steals she’s already 7 behind Ortiz, and has only a 76% success rate so far.

Francis Chen, Rightfielder: For a player racked with inconsistency early in his career, Chen has been impressively regular in his year-over-year improvement. So far Chen is keeping pace with his usual power numbers (he ranks 4th in the league in HR and Isolated Power), and is finally shoring up his contact to league average – he’s batting .260 on the year, which lifts his OBP to an impressive .390.

Tiffany Ho, Backup Outfielder: Ho’s been off to a slow start at .250-.313-.455, and has found herself as the odd-one-out of the OF/DH rotation, with just 12 games and 48 plate appearances, 3rd last on the team. She’s seen an uptick in her power numbers however – she’s already matched last season’s total of 2 homeruns in just 48 plate appearances.

Skyler Reid, Designated Hitter: Entering the season as the primary DH, Reid’s production has dropped off significantly from his 2007 heights – he’s hitting .245-.315-.388 and is in danger of seeing his DH position usurped. It may turn out that Reid’s high BABiP last season (.376, 3rd best on the team) will be unsustainable.

The Pitching Staff

Nathan Yan, #1 Starting Pitcher: The first month of Yan’s ambitious 2008 workload – a season of starts on 3 days’ rest – has already yielded MASSIVE results. The 5-time-reigning Pitcher of the Year managed to start 8 games in April, going 7-0 with a miniscule 0.64 ERA, 0.33 WHIP, and a staggering 135 K’s – far more than double the total of 2nd-place Robert Kroger (56 K’s). In that span he’s pitched 7 CG’s, 6 shutouts, and TWO NO-HITTERS, both of which were a single fielding error away from Perfect Games. In the second of them, on April 29th, Yan struck out his first SIXTEEN batters against the Apple Septic Tanks, before the streak was finally broken up by a Santiago Parra groundball to SS Henry Nghe. He ended the day striking out 23, which ties the 9-inning record for the Daly City star.

Whitney Esguerra, #2 Starting Pitcher: Esguerra was relatively shellacked in April, struggling with her control (3.4 BB/9) and ranking last on the team with her 3.44 ERA. That last stat is actually more of a testament to the rest of the pitching staff’s dominance, which has dominated the league to the tune of a 2.21 team ERA. Her fiery stuff has still been on full display – her 11.6 K/9 ranks 2nd in the league (behind Yan).

Samantha Chin, #3 Starting Pitcher: Chin began her year with a hard-luck non-decision, going a full 9 innings, striking out 13, and yielding just 1 run in her first start against an even more impressive Joe Shelton of the Apple Septic Tanks, who had shut Daly City’s lineup out through 8 innings. A fortuitous dropped fly by Apple RF Chewie Gonzales in the 9th helped the Montis notch an unearned run, which allowed Chin to escape with the No Decision. But after 139 pitches, she yielded to closer Josiah Leong, who held on for 3 innings until a Cristian Ortiz grand slam in the 12th helped to seal the win. She’s had better luck since then, and sits at 3-1 with a 2.54 ERA, with steadily improved strikeout numbers (an impressive 10.2 K/9!).

Terrence Zhao, #4 Starting Pitcher: On the surface, Zhao had a resurgent April, going 4-0 in his 4 starts while compiling a 2.41 ERA and notching 10.4 K/9. Daly City fans have had to sweat out his starts though – his 1.29 WHIP is highest on the team, as is his 3.4 BB/9. He’s given up at least 3 walks in 4 out of his 5 starts (all of which he won).

Alfred Vong, #5 Starting Pitcher: With Yan’s 3 day’s rest schedule, Vong hasn’t had the typical number of chances for a #5 starter, pitching only 3 games in April. The small sample size hasn’t given much to go on (a 2.70 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 5.0 K/9 in 23+2/3 innings), but the highlight for Vong was his 10-inning, 1-run performance against the Asia Giants. Even that ended in a no-decision, as it took the Montis until the 13th inning to score the final 3 runs to win the game.

Sean Wade, #6 Starting Pitcher: In a hybrid role as #6 and mopup reliever, Wade has done decently. He pitched a 9-inning, 1-run gem against the Mozilla Firefoxes, but outside of that has been inconsistent, giving up 2 runs in another relief appearance and being bailed out by his offense after a 7-inning, 8-hit, 4-run performance against the Apple Septic Tanks. Still, it’s a encouraging start for Wade after his disastrous 2007 season.

Kelley Cox, Long Reliever: Cox has done well in her 8+1/3 innings thus far – she’s allowed just 5.4 H/9, though she’s floated 4 walks so far for a high 4.3 BB/9. Her 2.16 ERA is second among the bullpen as she shoulders the heaviest workload among them.

Bernadette Dugtong, Middle Reliever: There haven’t been a ton of chances through Dugtong’s 6+2/3 innings in April – she’s given up runs in just 1 of her 5 appearances, en route to a 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, both heavily improved marks against her previous season.

Connie Chen, Setup Reliever: The rookie Chen has been impressive in her first month of work – over 8 appearances she’s given up just 1 run for an ERA of 1.29, and has allowed just 6 runners for a WHIP of 0.86. She wasn’t expected to have phenomenal stuff as a rookie, but she’s on a good pace with 7 K’s in 7 innings. She’s also tied for the league lead with 5 holds in just a month, which might put her in sight of the record books (13, by Angel Poon in 2003) if more opportunities fall her way.

Josiah Leong, Closer: It’s been an adventurous month for Leong, who started the season by giving up crucial runs in two appearances, but was bailed out for a win in both cases. The first came after relieving SP Samantha Chin after 9 innings in a 1-1 tie. After coasting through 2 scoreless innings, Leong nearly crapped the bed after giving up the go-ahead run at the top of the 12th. Headed towards a loss in the bottom of the inning, the Daly City offense suddenly erupted to life, culminating in 2B Cristian Ortiz, 0-5 on the night up to that point, hitting a GRAND SLAM walkoff with 2 outs to save the day. In the second, Leong caused Yan’s only no-decision, failing to secure the 6-5 save in the 9th inning. An RBI single by LF Ted Kwong in the 9th salvaged the situation and gave Leong the win. Overall, Leong is 3-1 with 5 saves, but already 2 blown in 7 opportunities. In better news however, his K:BB is better than ever, with a 14.9 K/9 rate and a surprising 2.7 BB/9 so far this season.

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2008 Season Preview – the Big Leap

Team Review

2008 April 1 – After a dominant season following a successful infusion of the large rookie class, the Montis bring in more fresh blood  and set their sights on some ambitious – some would say audacious – goals for 2008.

Alan Wong, Catcher: Another recruit from the Berkeley Independent League, the 21-year-old Wong is a versatile 5-star prospect who wields a sledgehammer; scouts are already rating him at a 91 for power, which would put him at 3rd behind only Francis Chen (94) and Ted Kwong (102) among Daly City hitters. Though his strike zone judgement skills are below average, Wong has also demonstrated a cannon of an arm from behind the plate, and looks to inject himself into the already hotly-contested starting catcher position

Marco Paz, Backup Catcher: Over the course of a breakout 2007 season, Paz unexpectedly played himself into the starting role at catcher, catching 115 games and putting up decent numbers – .295-.351-.457 over 501 plate appearances. With the drafting of prospect Alan Wong, however, Paz will have to prove himself all over again to garner enough playing time.  He’ll likely spell Wong at catcher and steal  some plate appearances in at DH.

Tina Quach, Super Utility: Quach’s gift – a wide-ranging defensive competence at catcher, corner infield, and outfield –  has also been her curse, as she’s been constantly shuffled everywhere on the field during the course of her career, either to substitute in for slumps or injuries, or simply because she was the convenient person to move when a hot new prospect emerged. 2008 looks to be a harrowing year for Quach, who doesn’t look as though she’ll have a primary position – she’ll fill a super utility role backing up catcher, 1st, 3rd, and the outfield, all positions that already have starters and designated backups. It’s a tough assignment, as Quach tries to concentrate on rebounding offensively after a 2007 filled with career lows in nearly every category.

Derek Lew, First Baseman: Daly City’s stalwart at 1st returns once again, though he’s getting increasingly marginalized as his development seems to have plateau’d (albeit at a high level), while other hitters and new prospects continue to rise and take up the higher positions in the batting order. For the season, he’ll start 6th in the lineup, and hope to build on a 2007 when he set a career high for walks and OBP, the only missing element in his game. Lew also has a major landmark coming up – he’s 6 hits away from becoming the first Daly City player ever to reach 1,000 career hits.

Cristian Ortiz, Second Baseman: Many eyes will be on the 5-tool Ortiz this season, after he emerged in 2007 as not just a one-trick racehorse, but a powerful force with the bat as well. Will he continue his development as a hitter? What about strike zone patience and that OBP? And how high, exactly, will he set his stolen base record heights, especially with the now-established Jessica Kuo giving him a very serious threat to his just-established steals record.

Henry Nghe, Shortstop: Nghe ended the season on a sour note, missing nearly the entire month of September after tearing a hamstring muscle. He’ll return to a younger team that looks like it’s ready to put the 30-year old to pasture, with sophomore middle infielder Wissmath hungry for playing time (though she’ll probably find most of it at 3rd). It may be a make-or-break season for Nghe, who has declined across the board for two straight seasons after winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2005.

Salgu Wissmath, Third Basewoman: Though it’s not her natural position, the steady production of Wissmath in her utility role last season, and the weak results of starting Maung full-time at third, have led Wissmath to the hot corner.  After hitting for good average and getting on-base at a decent clip last season, the team’s excited to see her production (and an observed increase in power over spring training) extrapolated to a full season.

Joanna Maung, Backup Saung-gah-basewoman: After a year and a half of starts at third base and mediocre results, Maung returns back to a backup role, where she’ll hope to concentrate some of that magic clutch performance into the fewer spot starts and pinch appearances she’ll have.

Ted Kwong, Leftfielder: The reigning Batter of the Year returns, and after posting one of the best offensive seasons in Monti baseball history, he’s looking to set his own marks and blow away some of former LF Norman Ho’s hallowed records – notably the .375 AVG, .467 OBP, 10.95 RC/27 and 165.53 RC by Ho in 2003, and the 166 RBI’s by Ho in 2004. Neck-and-neck with RF Chen in the homerun race until injuries sidelined him at the end of the season, Kwong’s looking forward to challenging him and 2007’s 53-homerun mark as well.

Jessica Kuo, Centerfielder: After giving Ortiz a literal run for his money last season, the speedy Kuo returns again to roam centerfield, where she’ll find an uncontested starting position and start a full slate of games. Last season, she started only 116 games and had just 558 plate appearances (getting on base only 213 times), compared to 160 games, 777 plate appearances, and 305 on-base chances for Ortiz. It’ll be interesting to see whether Kuo’s extremely high BABiP – .392 – will hold over a second season.

Francis Chen, Rightfielder: While Francis built up his power numbers last season and became Daly City’s all-time homerun champion when he set the record at 53, he was still streaky and played only 142 games, despite not being injured much. In order to take his hitting to the next level, he’ll need to improve on his contact, which was a still-abysmal .237 last season.

Tiffany Ho, Backup Outfielder: It looks like it may be a sad end for Ho, who after playing her heart out the past two seasons in various outfield positions and improving every year, now finds herself as the 4th outfielder, with the starting roles firmly entrenched in players who have far surpassed her, hitting-wise. On the bright side, she is now the only backup outfielder on the team, with Reid firmly entrenched in the DH role, and Quach taking over at 3rd.

Skyler Reid, Designated Hitter: After putting together a solid hitting season that far exceeded even his own expectations, Reid returns again in the designated hitter role, though for now he’ll start in a platoon against right-handed pitching (he hit .339-.391-.527 against them last season).

Nathan Yan, #1 Starting Pitcher: After dominating the league for 5 years and setting even greater heights in 2007, Yan is looking to spend a season revolutionizing the concept of the starting pitcher. While Daly City has always run a conservative 6-man rotation in an era when nearly every team runs a 5-man, Yan will put himself on the equivalent of a 4-man rotation, taking only 3 days’ rest between each start. If he can make it through the grind of such a season, he could easily end up with over 50 starts and set counting stats into a different universe. In terms of the recordbooks, Yan’s on the cusp of a few – he’s just 551 K’s away from 3,000, 47 Wins away from 200, and 14 shutouts away from Anthony Rakestraw’s all-time mark of 76. All of those, especially in light of his grueling start schedule, look like they might fall in 2008, Yan’s age-20 season.

Whitney Esguerra, #2 Starting Pitcher: In just 2 short seasons, Esguerra has quickly developed into one of the most fearsome starters in the league. She had near-perfect consistency last season, throwing 28 quality starts in 30 games, and the sky looks like the limit for Esguerra.

Samantha Chin, #3 Starting Pitcher: Chin’s stock keeps rising higher and higher, and if her career continues to parallel Terrence Zhao’s as she has been, 2008 could be the year that Chin emerges as not just a great, but an utterly dominating starting pitcher.

Terrence Zhao, #4 Starting Pitcher: Questions abound for Zhao, the other five-year starter on the team aside from Yan, who seems to be idling entering his 6th year. It’s not that Zhao is bad – over the past two season’s he’s 32-11, with a 3.04 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 10.05 K/9 – but being just decent these days will only buy Zhao the #4 spot in the rotation.

Alfred Vong, #5 Starting Pitcher: Vong got a taste of the starting role last season, starting 21 games and relieving 2 more, and caught both hot and cold streaks. While he’ll remain #5 starter, Vong could see his start schedule diminished to that of a #6 spot starter, as Yan begins to pitch more games.

Sean Wade, Mopup Reliever: Though he entered in the same rookie class as Samantha Chin, and was even the more promising prospect that first year, Wade has taken the opposite career path, regressing a bit each season and performing abysmally even in the #6 starter role last season. With Yan taking an aggressive 3-days rest schedule, the team won’t need even need a number #6 starter anymore, so Wade will find himself playing out the string in the bullpen, where he still projects as the team’s worst pitcher and mopup reliever. Perhaps in the low-pressure relief role, Wade can re-focus on the fundamentals that made him so promising in 2005.

Kelley Cox, Long Reliever: The durable Cox returns in her long relief role, where she performed admirably last season. Though she got 2 starts in last year (including the postseason), they’ll likely be harder to come by, with the aggressive start schedule and former starter Sean Wade waiting in the bullpen.

Bernadette Dugtong, Middle Reliever: Dugtong continues her middle relief role, where she was one of the team’s few league-average pitchers last year. She’ll need to reign in the propensity for easy contact – her 0.274 opponent AVG last year was the 5th-worst in Monti Baseball history.

Connie Chen, Setup Reliever: The other rookie of the 2007 class, 19-year-old Connie Chen has a simple fastball-changeup-sinker repertoire, and a talent for control. With an 84 control rating, scouts already think she has the best pitch placement among the bullpen relievers. She slots into the setup role for the retired Alvina Chu, where she’ll be a stark contrast to often wild closer Leong.

Josiah Leong, Closer: Despite his continued utter lack of control (his 34 walks accounted for 0.53 of his 1.14 WHIP last season), the inconsistent Leong delivered when it counted, allowing only a 2.09 ERA, with a reasonable 3 blown saves across 26 opportunities. Leong has stated his goal of getting back into a rotation, though (a spot where he performed horridly in 2003 and 2005) – something that will require long-term consistency and limiting his walks by 2 or even three-fold.

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The 2007 Season Awards

League Review

The Pitcher of the Year, UL: Nathan Yan, Daly City SP

With his 5th straight award in 5 seasons, it may be getting to the point where the award is just retired and re-named after Yan. Daly City’s ace was masterful again this season, pitching a heavier 34-game load and compiling a 33-1 record, 0.91 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, and an own-record-shattering 602 K’s over 296 innings (that’s 18.3 K/9, besting even last year’s 18.0). He hit the 20-K mark twelve times in 34 games, and performed perhaps his most impressive feat yet – pitching his first and second PERFECT games in the same season (they’re just the 5th and 6th Perfect Games in league history).

Trailing Yan was a bevy of Daly City pitchers that dominated the Pitcher of the Year voting. Whitney Esguerra, Daly City’s #2, was also the league’s #2, finishing second to Yan in nearly every statistical category, ERA, bOBP, bSLG, K/9; despite only 30 starts in DC’s 6-man rotation, she placed top 3 in most of the counting stats too, from Wins to K’s to Shutouts to Quality Starts. Last year’s #5, Samantha Chin, placed 3rd this time, after a steadily improving season that saw her post a well-rounded, almost flawless season – 21-3, 2.66 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 209 K’s in 210 innings over 28 starts. Fourth was Microsoft’s ace, Kernel Tyranus, who regressed back from his outstanding 2006 campaign to his career norms – he posted an 18-8 record, 2.80 ERA,  1.10 WHIP over a workhorse 257+1/3 innings. Though he didn’t quite dazzle overwhelm opposing batters (only 6.8 K/9, and a .253-.272-.371 opposing line), Tyranus was helped by his amazing control (1.0 BB/9, 4th in baseball). In a surprise win for the Apple Septic Tanks, it was actually a reliever, 21-year-old Padme Amidala, who would edge out languishing Daly City starter Terrence Zhao. She saved 38 games in 62 outings for Apple, throwing 74+2/3 innings and striking out batters at an amazing 12.7 K/9 rate.

Name Team Record Starts QS/CG/SHO Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Nathan Yan Daly City 33-1 34 33/29/15 296 602 0.91 0.02 0.43 18.3
Whitney Esguerra Daly City 24-1 30 28/10/6 235 289 1.88 1.18 0.83 11.1
Samantha Chin Daly City 21-3 28 24/9/5 210 209 2.66 2.06 0.98 9.0
Kernel Tyranus Microsoft 18-8 35 22/9/5 257 1/3 195 2.80 2.54 1.10 6.8
Padme Amidala Apple 8-4 62 RA 38 SV/44 SVO 74 2/3 105 1.81 1.89 0.88 12.7

The Batter of the Year, UL: Ted Kwong, Daly City LF

Unlike in 2005 and 2006, this year’s award was no shocker – Daly City’s budding young star was right in the thick of the Batter of the Year race from the onset of the season, and only tapered off slightly at the end as he missed some time with injuries. He led the league in Runs Created per 27 outs at 12.7, and posted a .357-.444-.704 line to lead the league with a 1.148 OPS, and posted some impressive traditional counting stats – 48 homers (4th), 135 RBI (8th), 142 Runs (2nd), 184.3 Runs Created (2nd).

Putting up a strong challenge was Microsoft’s Rightfielder Jango Fett, who didn’t rack up any astonishing homerun numbers (just 28, T-17th in the league), but still managed to lead the league in total bases through prodigious gap power and durability – he placed 2nd in the league with 60 doubles, and 17 triples, and led the league overall with 228 hits, finishing 1st in AVG (.368), 2nd in OBP (.453), and 3rd in SLG (.655). His RC/27 was just a hair off of Kwong’s at 12.3, and since he played a full slate of 160 games without injury, he led the league in cumulative Runs Created, with a staggering 197.2. He also stole 39 bases, although got caught 22 times, for a 63% rate that may have hurt more than it helped.

Last year’s Rookie of the Year, Asia’s Benjamin “Fritz” Trepanier, broke out in a big way in 2007. The German God of Walks continued to lead the league with a .461 OBP, 134 walks, and placed 3rd with 17 HBP’s as well. The formerly light-slapping rightfielder bulked up over the season as well – after hitting just 18 homers and slugging .492 in his rookie season, Trepanier blasted 40 out of the park (8th in UL) for a .606 SLG (5th), and placed 3rd again in RC/27 with 11.9. The United States’ catcher Andrew Amey had one of the best seasons for a catcher ever, hitting .311-.410-.654 on the strength of a massive 46-homerun outburst. Trepanier’s classmate and 3rd-place rookie of the year candidate, the Caribbean’s LF Clifford Alfano, had a similar breakout season, hitting .349-.446-.584, though he continued to be held back by spectacularly bad base-running ( a lead-leading 27 times caught stealing, for a miserable 40% success rate), earning him a 5th-place finish.

Name Team PA 2B 3B HR RBI Runs Walks SB CS AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Ted Kwong Daly City 668 41 6 48 135 142 87 23 7 .357 .457 .704 184.3 12.72
Jango Fett Microsoft 720 60 17 28 112 132 98 39 22 .368 .453 .655 197.2 12.30
Benjamin Trepanier Asia 705 24 8 40 100 135 134 10 17 .316 .461 .606 177.5 11.86
Andrew Amey United States 633 44 1 46 133 99 91 0 0 .311 .410 .654 144.8 10.08
Clifford Alfano Caribbean 737 34 10 31 91 123 104 18 27 .349 .446 .584 184.0 11.16

The Rookie of the Year, UL: Ted Kwong, Daly City LF

It’s not often that the Batter of the Year is also the Rookie of the Year. In fact, it’s only happened once, but the precedent is a great one: in 1935, a young catcher by the name of Kenton McClinton exploded onto the scene, hitting .352-.443-.806 with 71 homeruns, 203 RBI, and 150 Runs to sweep both the Rookie and Batter of the Year awards, and would go on to win 7 more. The rest of the voting was also dominated by Daly City’s crop of newcomers, with the speedy Kuo hitting for high average and dominating the basepaths (2nd with 89 steals), Skyler Reid providing a solid hitting .327-.379-.506 season from DH, and spark plug Salgu Wissmath hitting .318-.387-.420 with 24 steals in a super utility role. Microsoft’s long reliever Wayne Stephens rounds out the ballot, appearing in 59 games, and chewing up 117 innings (2nd among UL relievers) with a 3.46 ERA.

Name Team PA 2B 3B HR RBI Runs Walks SB CS AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Ted Kwong Daly City 668 41 6 48 135 142 87 23 7 .357 .457 .704 184.3 12.72
Jessica Kuo Daly City 558 15 5 2 69 103 30 89 17 .346 .382 .405 89.1 6.38
Skyler Reid Daly City 456 29 6 11 74 79 33 13 3 .327 .379 .506 82.6 7.59
Salgu Wissmath Daly City 421 11 3 7 47 66 44 24 6 .318 .387 .420 66.0 6.52

 

Name Team Record Games SVO/SV/HLD Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Wayne Stephens Microsoft 7-4 59 20/2/10 117 87 3.46 4.46 1.39 6.7

The Pitcher of the Year, SWL: Kyle Katarn, Paris SP

Katarn thought he might have had it easier when he bolted out of the hellish UL Galactica Division and moved into the comfy confines of SW World Cities for the Paris Forfeiters (the 7-year, $26.7M/yr contract didn’t hurt either). Instead, Katarn got shelled around and put up his worst season yet, going 19-11 with a 3.34 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 298 K’s in 294 innings. Nonetheless, outside of the UL and the shadow of Nathan Yan, he still outperformed his SWL competitors by a large margin and emerged with his first Pitcher of the Year award. There weren’t many standouts in the rest of the pitching field, as the year belonged to SWL Batters…

Name Team Record Starts QS/CG/SHO Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Kyle Katarn Paris 19-11 36 22/16/4 294 298 3.34 2.40 1.05 9.1
Augusto Figueroa Pentax 14-10 32 16/11/0 237 172 3.76 3.62 1.29 6.5
Josue Berrero Nikon 14-11 32 18/10/1 234 1/3 162 3.88 3.20 1.16 6.2
Gerald Freeman Venice 13-16 36 19/11/2 277 2/3 258 4.08 3.52 1.26 8.4
Justin Pucci Apple 14-11 34 19/2/1 244 119 3.84 3.69 1.19 4.4

The Batter of the Year, SWL: Gates Skywalker, Pentax LF

It was his 3rd slam dunk year in 3 seasons, as Skywalker had his award wrapped up before the all star break (Richard Eager placed 2nd with 52 homeruns. Skywalker hit that mark on June 25th.) Though Pentax’s star leftfielder seems to have plateau’d in his contact and on-base abilities, there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how far his power can grow – this season he slugged .981 (his SLG alone would have placed him 8th in OPS) and hammered a staggering 105 homeruns, erasing Kenton McClinton’s mark of 88 in his magical 1942 season. Interestingly, teams that lost their stars to free agency in the past offseason rebounded quite well – Nikon, which lost star Richard Eager to the Las Vegas Valleys, found a more than suitable replacement in Maul Foundation and the continued development of their young 1B/DH Brandon Wroten. While no player (or even two) could replace Skywalker’s production, Canon didn’t do too badly either in finding the aging but still productive Mathew Glenn, who put up a career season after moving to the SWL.

Name Team PA 2B 3B HR RBI Runs Walks SB CS AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Gates Skywalker Pentax 691 54 0 105 200 168 94 0 0 .359 .444 .981 250.9 16.73
Maul Foundation Nikon 722 61 11 44 163 122 41 37 28 .367 .403 .687 199.6 11.39
Mathew Glenn Canon 710 34 8 44 131 125 87 4 2 .338 .414 .638 171.2 10.85
Hector Valdivieso Las Vegas 620 62 6 25 112 103 78 9 3 .354 .434 .633 152.2 11.23
Brandon Wroten Nikon 730 55 0 44 144 130 84 2 0 .322 .405 .615 159.1 9.50

The Rookie of the Year, SWL: Theron Russell, Paris OF

There wasn’t much competition in the rookie SWL field this year, as Theron Russell took the award simply on playing time alone – no batter amassed enough plate appearances to qualify for any of rate statistic titles, and Russell was the only one batter who had even 300 plate appearances. Aside from playing time, Russell was decidedly averaging, hitting .269-.309-.363, though he did steal 31 bases (against 11 CS and a 73.8% – some might call it a wash).

Name Team PA 2B 3B HR RBI Runs Walks SB CS AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Theron Russell Paris 453 21 2 5 33 61 23 31 11 .269 .309 .363 52.7 4.29

 

Name Team Record Games SVO/SV/HLD Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Samuel Green Canon 1-1 37 4/0/2 58 2/3 37 2.45 3.46 1.40 5.7
Sammy Shumake Sony 2-2 29 5/0/3 60 65 4.80 4.77 1.32 9.8
Jesus Pardo Nikon 3-2 33 1/0/0 72 61 3.75 3.89 1.29 7.6
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The 2007 Season Review

Team Review

Macro Paz, Catcher: There weren’t many great expectations out of Paz, last season’s backup catcher who played sparingly and fared abysmally against big-league pitching when he did. But after a terrible spring that led most to believe he would spend another long season incubating on the bench, Paz exploded out of the gate in April, hitting a scorching .339-.383-.607, and didn’t let up, batting for .346-.398-.533 over the first half and gaining the primary catching role. As hot as his first half was, Paz began to wither as the season went on – his second half stats were just .237-0.305-.372, dialing down his overall numbers to a respectable .295-.351-.457. Nonetheless, the 18-year-old Paz made a remarkable leap in his 2nd season.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
117 114 501 455 134 25 2 15 90 65 85 33 9 5 0 100.00 0.295 0.351 0.457 0.808 71.43 5.72 0.331

Tina “Experimental Error” Quach, Backup Catcher: Just one year after finally assuming the full-time catcher role, Quach appears as though she’s lost her major-league touch already. While her drop-off last year was attributed to growing pains in adjusting to the rigors of the full-time role, Quach continued her regression. Though her batting average bumped slightly from .286 to .296 (mostly on the strength of severely cutting down her strikeout rate, from 6.50% of plate appearances to 3.17%), Quach continued to struggle with picking up on walks (her 10.62% walk rate last year dipped down to 8.97%) and hitting for power (1.329 bases per hit in 2006 to 1.218 this year). With the more-rapid-than-expected-development of Paz, Quach was quickly relegated to backup catcher position and utility infielder, where she mainly substituted for the inconsistent Joanna Maung.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
85 83 379 341 101 17 1 1 49 55 12 34 1 8 0 100.00 0.296 0.359 0.361 0.720 45.58 4.77 0.302

Derek Lew, First Baseman: Following up his stellar comeback and Batter of the Year season in 2006, Lew proved again his worth as the Montis’ roundhouse power hitter and dependable franchise star. He hit a solid .291-.343-.559 on the season, and demonstrated an improvement in his patience at the plate, setting a new career high with 55 walks, while striking out just 13 times in 735 plate appearances. He also bested the doubles record he set last season by 1, setting 78 as the new high water mark.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
162 162 735 669 195 78 10 27 139 132 13 55 2 17 0 100.00 0.291 0.343 0.559 0.902 116.13 6.17 0.263

Henry Nghe, Shortstop: After his all-star season as a rookie in 2005, the aging Nghe produced little in his 3rd season, struggling along to just a .270-.330-.424 line, before a torn hamstring in early September ultimately knocked him out for the season. It will be a long road to recovery for the declining Nghe in the offseason, as he’ll face stern competition from the upstart middle infielder Wissmath and his 2005 Rookie of the Year season now seems a distant memory.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
107 104 452 408 110 25 7 8 66 56 57 37 2 9 0 100.00 0.270 0.330 0.424 0.754 56.52 4.83 0.293

Cristian Ortiz, Second Baseman: While Ortiz set himself up last year for universal renown as the stolen base champion with 91 steals, the speedy second baseman elevated his game to a whole new level in 2007, evolving himself from simply one of the best leadoff men in the league to one of the best all-around players, period. Ortiz set new personal bests for power (.560 SLG, 34 homeruns, 42 doubles), on-base ability (.311 AVG, .393 OBP, 84 walks, and a 5.41% K-rate), and even bested himself in speed (a record-shattering 112 stolen bases, and a personal-best 13 triples as well). And it appeared he was only getting warmed up – Ortiz hit a scorching .325-.377-.692 in September, and achieved the rare feat of a 30-RBI, 30-Run month, one of the only such months recorded in history. Altogether, Ortiz batted .311-.393-.560 with 213 hits ,34 homers, 139 RBI, 160 Runs, and 151.46 Runs Created, an all-around display of hitting and durability that hasn’t been seen since the inaugural 2003-2004 seasons (the last time anyone had >140 Runs Created, or > 260 RBIs+Runs.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
160 160 777 684 213 42 13 34 139 160 42 84 8 112 21 84.21 0.311 0.393 0.560 0.952 151.46 8.05 0.294

Joanna Maung, Saung-gah-basewoman: Like many longtime fan favorites, saung-gah-basewoman Maung is long on memories and stories but in the new age of statistical scrutiny, increasingly coming up short in real production. While she continued to play admirably in close/late situations (.344-400-.438) and put up clutch plate appearances for the ages (who could forget the opening game of the Divisional Series!), Maung’s regular season body of work was simply another middling year at the plate (.289-.355-.360). While she played in about half of the games at third, she found herself displaced often by Quach and the upstart rookie Wissmath.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
87 81 349 311 90 13 0 3 42 48 33 33 1 4 0 100.00 0.289 0.355 0.360 0.715 42.90 4.97 0.312

Salgu Wissmath, Utility Infielder: After destroying minor-league pitching in the Berkeley Independent League, the rookie free agent pickup got her chance to shine in the bigs, and she hasn’t disappointed for a rookie, batting .318-.387-.420 and stealing 24 bases whilst filling in as part of the 3B platoon for the lackluster Maung, and in September as the primary SS replacement for the injured Nghe.  For a rookie, she demonstrated great bat control and picked up walks at a nice clip, resulting int he 4th-best OBP on the team. With the left side of the infield continually in flux, the versatile Swissmath looks like she’ll play a major role in that mix next year.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
102 99 421 374 119 11 3 7 47 66 54 44 0 24 6 80.00 0.318 0.387 0.420 0.807 64.59 6.39 0.354

Ted Kwong, Leftfielder: Rumored as the next prodigy before he even stepped into training camp, Kwong carried with him not quite huge expectations (the Montis, winners of 4 straight Universal Series and stocked with star talent, were probably the team in least need of the next superstar hitter to help carry their offense) but intrigue.  While the SWL had had the other-worldly Gates Skywalker for 3 years running, no one had achieved an other-worldly season (an OPS over 1.100) since the Daly City slugging duo of Tienturier and Ho retired in 2004. The rookie leftfielder stepped onto the scene and hit like few ever have at such an age, and in ways the Montis haven’t seen since Kwong’s legendary predecessor at leftfield, Norman Ho… if that.  In just his first year, Kwong set nearly unheard of marks: a godly .445 OBP (2nd in Montis history to the .467 in Ho’s 2003 season); an all-time Monti record .704 SLG (only Jason Liu in his barely-qualifying 2004 season came particular close, when he slugged .702. Ho’s 2003 had the 3rd highest mark in team history, at just .663); and 48 homers, a Monti rookie record and just 1 short of Ho’s 2004 record.

Concerningly, Kwong has also been bitten by the injury bug several times at the end of the season – he dealt with an inflamed back that forced him out for a week in September, then in the middle of the Montis playoff run, tore a calf muscle that set him out for the rest of the postseason.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
146 146 668 568 203 41 6 48 135 142 120 87 6 23 7 76.67 0.357 0.445 0.704 1.149 156.22 10.79 0.382

Tiffany Ho, Centerfielder: Entering the season as the most experienced contestant of the centerfield platoon(145 starts there in 2006), Ho surprisingly found herself as the odd girl out – she logged just 20 starts at center, and instead found her spots in relief at left field, right field, and even shortstop for a spell (12 starts). Despite all of the defensive shuffling and the lack of a consistent starting spot, Ho’s performance hardly seemed to suffer – she improved her rate stats across the board, hitting .315-.354-.429, for the first time bringing her on-base rate above league-average levels.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
93 89 395 371 117 24 6 2 45 47 46 20 3 6 3 66.67 0.315 0.354 0.429 0.783 54.54 5.52 0.355

Jessica Kuo, Centerfielder: Expected to be the defensive wizard and lightest-hitting of the centerfield candidates, Kuo ultimately emerged as the primary centerfielder candidate for 2007. She flashed better-than-expected on-base ability (.382, built mostly upon a .346 average), and simply slapped singles for most of the season (out of her 182 hits, just 22 went for extra bases). Aside from getting onto base, Kuo’s signature value proposition was simple: pure and unrefined SPEED.  Though the record-holder (and eventual record-breaker) Ortiz stole the headlines for most of the season, Kuo was able to match him nearly steal-for-steal  after spotting him a huge head start (she stole just 3 bases in sparse play when she first started in April, compared to 22 for Ortiz). From May through September she stole 86 bases to Ortiz’s 90, while being caught only 14 times (86%) to Ortiz’s 19 (82.6%), and was partially responsible for many of his steals, allowing the leadoff hitter to piggy-back off her double-steals after getting on-base from the 9-spot.  If she can maintain her on-base ability and playing time, 2008 could shape up to be a stolen base race for the ages.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
119 116 558 526 182 15 5 2 69 103 67 30 1 89 17 83.96 0.346 0.382 0.405 0.787 88.84 6.36 0.393

Francis Chen, Rightfielder: Ever since he stepped onto the scene in 2004, blasting 13 homers in just 162 part-time at bats, Chen has attracted intense interest as a player who flashed all the tools to be a star in the league and was only in want of the consistency to put it all together. The next step was the 46 walks in just 304 plate appearances in 2005 (15.13% walk rate), enough to raise his appalling .179 batting average to an acceptable .307 on-base-percentage. Despite the paltry overall numbers (Chen was just .179-.307-.417 that season), the potential there was enough for the Montis to make a commitment, and again, Chen was almost there, putting together a decent 2006 season that mixed flashes of appallingly bad flailing at the plate with locked-in power surges.

Finally, 2007 was that season that Francis Chen the Legend arrived. Racking up 83 walks and 14 steals, Chen put stacked himself up to a .354 OBP, and put on a prodigious power display, becoming the first Montis player ever to achieve a 50-homerun season. He hit 53 out of the park, slugged .604, and led the team with 144 RBIs. Sure, he hit only .237 and was still inconsistent, failing for weeks at a time with months like a .176-.341-.412 May and a .184-.316-.378 September, but when Chen was locked in, nearly no hitter was better, such as in the month of June when Chen hit a simply unbelievable .338-436-.925 with 14 homers in just 80 at bats. In total, Chen went .237-.354-.604 for a .958 OPS, 6.62 RC/27, and an absurd 2.552 bases per hit.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
142 142 628 528 125 31 2 53 144 118 125 83 14 22 8 73.33 0.237 0.354 0.604 0.958 104.92 6.62 0.204

Jonathan “The Cheet” Chee, Designated Hitter: The Cheet saw his role increasingly squeezed out in 2007 as fresh faces, especially ones with better defensive prowess, emerged. After playing 1,235+2/3 abysmal innings left field in 2006, Chee barely logged any defensive innings in 2007, just 72 innings over 10 games at catcher and third. Instead, Chee found himself in a DH role, and a part time one at that, given the steep drop off in Chee’s huge drop offs in his signature hit-by-pitches (just 18 this year, surpassed by 4 other players in the league, the first time in 3 years in which Chee did not lead the league), and power, where Chee dropped off to a meek .324 slugging percentage, the lowest mark on the team and 2nd-lowest of any Montis season with at least 250 plate appearances.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
66 64 282 225 58 10 1 1 26 27 30 37 18 6 0 100.00 0.258 0.401 0.324 0.725 36.52 5.63 0.291

Skyler Reid, Designated Hitter: The power third of the centerfield platoon, the defensively challenge Reid soon found himself in the designated hitter’s spot after Kuo’s speed and defense proved to be a winning combination in center, and The Cheet’s further declining power hitting opened up the DH spot. Offensively, Reid posted an extremely solid offensive output, hitting .327-.379-.506, giving the third-highest RC/27 (7.10) if he had made enough appearances to qualify.

G GS PA AB Hits 2B 3B HR RBI Runs K BB HBP SB CS SB% AVG OBP SLG OPS RC RC/27 BABiP
103 100 456 413 135 29 6 11 74 79 77 33 5 13 3 81.25 0.327 0.379 0.506 0.885 77.31 7.10 0.376

Nathan Yan, #1 Starting Pitcher: What a year it’s been for Yan, who has delivered what must be considered the most dominant pitching season the league has ever seen. Pitching on a slightly aggressive schedule that saw him throw 34 starts in a 6-man rotation, Yan posted career highs in almost all his counting stats, including a 33-1 record, 296 innings (that’s 8.76 innings per start!), and obliterating the strikeout record by becoming the first ever pitcher to record 600 K’s in a season (after having already become the first, and still only, pitcher to record 400 and 500 K’s). Though his ERA (0.91) didn’t quite reach the lofty depths of last year’s 0.79, he did continue to improve his peripherals however so slightly, walking just 0.7 batters per 9 innings (down from 1.0), and bumping his strikeout rate to 18.3 K’s per 9. After a formula-breaking -0.01 DIPS ERA last year, Yan’s 2007 season completely busts it with a -0.12 DIPS mark. In a season such as this one, it would be impossible not to add to Yan’s lore of legendary games, and his highlights this season built up even more than the last, including a 22-strikeout PERFECT GAME on May 23rd against the Apple Septic Tanks (just the 5th in league history, and the first in his career), a game in which he also recorded his 2000th career strikeout. He followed this up just a few months later on August 5th with the SIXTH PERFECT GAME in league history, a 17-strikeout beauty against the Europe Cricketeers.

GS/G W-L QS\CG\SHO IP Hits HR ER BB HBP K K/9 K:BB RS/GS ERA WHIP bAVG bOBP bSLG
34/34 33-1 33\29\15 296.00 104 4 30 24 10 602 18.30 17.71 7.09 0.91 0.43 0.104 0.133 0.184

Whitney Anne Esguerra, #2 Starting Pitcher: After a stellar but at times trying rookie season in which she pitched well but rarely found the run support to win games, Esguerra left it all on the table in her sophomore season, pitching in such a dominant fashion that she needed hardly needed any run support at all – 1.88 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, an opponent OPS of just 0.496, 289 K’s in 235 innings (11.1 K/9), en-route to a 24-1 record in 30 starts, setting numerous team records for Daly City starters not named Yan, and finishing second in the league in almost every major statistical category. She especially dominated the last month of the season, throwing 53 K’s in 46 innings, with an 0.59 WHIP, 0.59 ERA, and 4 CG’s and 3 shutouts in 5 starts.

GS/G W-L QS\CG\SHO IP Hits HR ER BB HBP K K/9 K:BB RS/GS ERA WHIP bAVG bOBP bSLG
30/30 24-1 28\10\6 235.00 145 9 49 49 1 289 11.07 5.78 7.30 1.88 0.83 0.173 0.218 0.277

Samantha Chin, #3 Starting Pitcher: A 2nd straight year of improvement for Chin, who is as steady as they come – for the 3rd straight year she’s improved in just about every category, settling down her control (2.0 walks per 9 innings, down from 2.8) and allowing far fewer flyballs to go yard – she allowed just 7 this year compared to 14 in about as many innings last year. Her ERA, CERA, and DIPS ERA continue to decrease, and if the 1:1 correlation between her CERA and subsequent year’s ERA continues, her 2007 CERA (2.12) may indicate a Pitcher-of-the-Year caliber performance coming soon.

GS/G W-L QS\CG\SHO IP Hits HR ER BB HBP K K/9 K:BB RS/GS ERA WHIP bAVG bOBP bSLG
28/28 21-3 24\9\5 210.00 158 7 62 47 21 209 8.96 3.07 7.21 2.66 0.98 0.208 0.270 0.309

Terrence Zhao, #4 Starting Pitcher: A second straight good, yet disappointing season for Zhao, who seems to have regressed and inverse-plateau’d following his breakout 2005 season. The year Zhao put up, with 188 innings, a 3.06 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 203 K’s (9.7 per 9), can hardly be distinguished from the previous season, and Zhao continued to exhibit a worrying drop in control (allowing a .292 OBP, highest since his rookie year). While great from a production standpoint (he went 18-4 on the season in 27 starts, averaging 6.96 innings each), it feels like a missed opportunity for Zhao, once the #2 starter who has now been surpassed by Esguerra and Chin to fall to the #4 slot.

GS/G W-L QS\CG\SHO IP Hits HR ER BB HBP K K/9 K:BB RS/GS ERA WHIP bAVG bOBP bSLG
27/27 18-4 21\6\4 188.00 146 9 64 74 9 203 9.72 2.45 7.11 3.06 1.17 0.210 0.292 0.332

Alfred Vong, #5 Starting Pitcher: In his season-long audition for a permanent role in the starting rotation, Vong shined for the first four months of the season, but seemed to simply run out of steam down the stretch – after that 7-2, 2.83 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 101+2/3 inning start through July, Vong was an abysmal 2-4, 5.86 ERA, and 1.41 WHIP in nine August+September starts, once again casting a long shadow of doubt over whether Vong can make it as a starter, or is better suited to a life in long relief. Overall however, Vong fared decently in his first year as a starter, finishing with a 9-6 record, 3.90 ERA, and 1.11 WHIP in 157 innings over 21 starts and 2 relief appearances.

GS/G W-L QS\CG\SHO HLD\SV\BS IP Hits HR ER BB HBP K K/9 K:BB RS/GS ERA WHIP bAVG bOBP bSLG
21/23 9-6 12\5\1 0\0\0 157.00 155 22 68 20 4 135 7.74 5.63 6.38 3.90 1.11 0.254 0.279 0.425

Sean Wade, #6 Staring Pitcher: And the regression continues for the one-time rock-steady rookie, who has been anything but in his two seasons since.  Entering the season haven been just barely edged out by Vong for the #5 slot, Wade couldn’t establish himself as anything but the 6th-best starter on the team, throwing only 21 starts and recording an 8-5 record, 5.08 ERA, and 1.38 WHIP over 122+1/3 innings in that span, the worst season by ERA of anyone with even 50 innings, much less 122 and a third. While he did better in some peripherals, upping his K’s to 8.0 per 9 innings and lowering his homeruns allowed to 1.3 per 9, the hits (10.2/9IP) and walks (2.3/9IP) just kept coming against Wade.

GS/G W-L QS\CG\SHO IP Hits HR ER BB HBP K K/9 K:BB RS/GS ERA WHIP bAVG bOBP bSLG
21/21 8-5 11\1\0 122.33 138 17 69 31 6 109 8.02 2.95 5.29 5.08 1.38 0.283 0.332 0.490

Alvina Chu, Setup Reliever: Though sidelined  at the end of August with a ruptured tricep tendon that put her out for all of September, Chu made it back just in time for the postseason, playing an integral part in the bullpen effort (5 innings, 4 K’s, 0.80 WHIP and no runs allowed) to deliver Daly City their 5th consecutive postseason title. Despite being cut a month short from her last season with the team, Chu still managed to set record highs in games (55), innings (67+2/3), strikeouts (63, for 8.38 K’s per 9). She retires having established herself as Daly City’s primary setup reliever (having served that role for her last 4 seasons) and one of its most accomplished bullpen leaders, with 145 relief appearances (1st), a 27-7 record (1st among relievers), 6 saves (5th), 32 holds (1st), 221+2/3 relief innings pitched (2nd, 3+2/3 short of Angel Poon’s mark), a 2.80 ERA (2nd among relievers with 100 innings), 3.45 DIPS (2nd), and 1.06 WHIP (2nd).

GS/G W-L HLD\SV\BS IP Hits HR ER BB HBP K K/9 K:BB ERA WHIP bAVG bOBP bSLG
0/55 3-2 12\2\3 67.67 60 10 25 12 1 63 8.38 4.85 3.32 1.06 0.236 0.265 0.406

Kelley Cox, Long Reliever: Taking the role vacated by converted starter Alfred Vong, the rookie reliever impressed with her stamina, throwing 76 innings over 38 games, and posting solid if unspectacular stats of 3.43 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 3.76 DIPS ERA, exactly the workhorse-like performance you need from your long reliever. Cox even tried her hand in a starting role, attempting her first career start in May against the Caribbean Pirates, although it turned out disastrous (she lasted just 3+2/3 innings while allowing 9 hits+walks and 5 runs). She’d get a second chance, however, on the big stage, starting Game 6 of the Universal Series and going toe-to-toe with Parisian Kenneth Price through 8 innings, giving up 5 hits+walks and allowing just 1 run before handing off the 1-1 tie game to closer Josiah Leong.

GS/G W-L QS\CG\SHO HLD\SV\BS IP Hits HR ER BB HBP K K/9 K:BB RS/GS ERA WHIP bAVG bOBP bSLG
1/38 6-5 0\0\0 3\2\1 76.00 71 4 29 25 2 48 5.68 1.78 12.00 3.43 1.26 0.239 0.300 0.337

Bernadette Dugtong, Middle Reliever: The rookie middle reliever, thrust into the primary relief role after the 2006 bullpen retirements, struggled late in the season, allowing an ugly 13 runs (9 earned) in 9 September innings, giving her a 9.00 ERA and 2.56 WHIP for the month. That brought her overall numbers down into decidedly league-average territory – only Wade posted a higher ERA or bOBP. Though her strikeout rate wasn’t impressive, Dugtong showed a remarkable resistance against giving up the big hit, allowing just 1.24 bases per hit and only allowing a single homer over 61 innings.

GS/G W-L HLD\SV\BS IP Hits HR ER BB HBP K K/9 K:BB ERA WHIP bAVG bOBP bSLG
0/51 0-2 5\0\3 61.00 69 1 29 17 0 41 6.05 2.41 4.28 1.41 0.274 0.316 0.341

Josiah Leong, Closer: Leong ushered in an era of consistency to the closer role by becoming the first Daly City closer to serve consecutive seasons as the team’s closer. At this point one of the team’s most experienced relievers, Leong seems to have settled into the closer role – though he had far fewer opportunities for saves this season with the Monti’s prolific offensive production, Leong managed to gather 24 saves and emerged with a 9-2 record after being inserted into high-pressure situations throughout the season. Compared to his previous season’s 9 blown saves in 46 chances (19.6%), Leong blew just 3 in 26 save opportunities (11.6%). Overall Leong allowed fewer base runners and fewer big hits than last season, reducing his opponent’s AVG to a miniscule .176, and SLG to a tiny .300. Nonetheless he still ended up allowing about the same number of runners, having lost some control to allow a staggering 4.7 walks per 9 innings.

GS/G W-L HLD\SV\BS IP Hits HR ER BB HBP K K/9 K:BB ERA WHIP bAVG bOBP bSLG
0/44 9-2 0\24\3 64.67 40 4 15 34 5 83 11.55 2.13 2.09 1.14 0.176 0.295 0.300

And the 2007 Team Award Winners…

Team Defensive Player of the Year: Whitney Esguerra

It’s a bit strange, giving your defensive award to a pitcher who logged just 235 defensive innings. But Esguerra was a dominant presence covering the center of the diamond, putting away 55 batters on the field (20 putouts + 35 assists), an impressive number for a pitcher who placed second in the league in strikeouts (11.07 K/9). All told, Esguerra relied on 408 fielding outs (subtracting strikeouts), for which she accounted for 13.48%.

Rookie of the Year: Ted Kwong

It wasn’t much of a contest this year; having established himself as undoubtedly the league’s rookie of the year, and with others clamoring for Batter of the Year honors to be bestowed, Kwong ran away with the RotY award, even against one of the strongest fields Daly City has had in years. In a season in which CF/DH Reid established himself as a solid lineup presence, CF Kuo gave Ortiz a run for his stolen base title while playing stellar defense, and relievers Cox and Dugtong both proved serviceable in the bullpen, no one set the team on fire as much as Kwong, who put up one of the best Daly City hitting seasons ever, batting .357-.445-.704, generating 10.79 Runs Created per 27 outs, and posting up 48 homeruns, 135 RBI, and 142 Runs in an injury-shortened 146 Games.

Comeback Player of the Year: Alvina Chu

It wasn’t a strong comeback year for any player in particular – on the whole the players who had been improving continued to improve, and the players who were regressing continued to regress. Chu bunked that trend just a little – while she didn’t return to the lofty heights of her 2005 season, Chu did improve a bit on last year’s regression, setting a career high in innings while shouldering the load as Daly City’s setup reliever.

Breakout Player of the Year: Whitney Esguerra

There were breakout performances a plenty for the Daly City Montis this year. From Ortiz, the speedy leadoff hitter who bulked up in the offseason and put on a power display that catapulted him into the echelon of top-flight all-around players; to Chen, who 3 years after his part-time debut finally took on the reins of a full season and put on a power display for the ages. But no player exceeded their history more than the sophomore starter Esguerra, who put on a season for the ages. In fact, measured by a whole slew of metrics – K’s, Quality Starts, CERA, DIPS ERA, bOBP, bSLG, K:BB – she put on the best season by a starter not named Yan, and overall her body of work shines more impressively than even the legendary 2004 Willis Fong’s or Zhao’s breakout 2005. And only Yan and Leong have bested the impressive 11.07 K’s per 9 mark she put up. In just two short years

Performance of the Year: Yan’s Twin Perfect Games

Everyone expected that at some point in his career, Yan would do it – post up the rare Perfect Game, flawlessly gathering 27 outs with nary a hit or walk or hit by pitch or even fielder’s error. In league history it’s only been done 4 times before, and none since Jack Seemann in 1938. Yan finally achieved this feat in 2007, blanking the not-anemic Apple Septic Tanks (they did finish 3rd of 8 in the UL in Runs) with a jaw-dropping 22 strikeouts, pulling the hat trick on 6 of 9 Apple batters (only the great SS Kenobi escaped without being struck out). Not even three months later, Yan astonished the world by dropping his SECOND Perfect Game on the Europe Cricketeers, a feat which prior-to occurred once every 13 YEARS.

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The 2007 Playoffs: World Series Recap

Game Recaps

27 October 2007 – After utterly dominating their league once again on both sides of the plate, the Daly City Montis roared in once again to the Fall Classic in what has for years been an annual victory march. Last year they went 8-2 in the postseason before their coup de grâce, a 4-0 sweep of the SWL Champion Pentax Shake Reducers, and the 2007 version of the Montis looked even more dominant, bashing their way to 1098 runs (besting 2nd place by 157 runs, after only leading by 28 the previous year) and allowing an anorexic 485 runs (440 earned) all year, for an astounding 2.68 team ERA in a year when the UL average was 4.94 (a team ERA+ of 184!).

Their opponents from the SWL side had a less glamorous road to the championship series. The Paris Forfeiters scored just 834 runs this season (7th out of 8 teams in the SWL), though they kept opponents to a SWL-low 784 runs (second in baseball to the Daly City), thanks largely to a rotation led by free agent import Kyle Katarn (who attained the first SWL Triple Crown after playing runner-up to Daly City pitchers in the UL league for years).

Game 1 started with a duel of star pitchers Yan and Katarn, almost certainly the Pitcher of the Year award winners for their respective leagues. Katarn gave up an early unearned run in the 3rd inning when second baseman Christian Lee failed to put away a 2-out grounder, allowing leadoff wunderkind Christian Ortiz to score. At the bottom of the 6th, Daly City slugger Francis Chen hammered a massive solo homerun to stake the lead to 2-0. The way Yan was pitching, Chen’s homer looked like the nail in the coffin – Yan had pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 15. But over the course of a barely-over-.500 season and a gritty 7-game series victory in the League championship just to get here, the scrappy Paris Forfeiters wouldn’t give up. In the eighth, rightfielder Willis Hoffman led off with a double, and just two batters later was driven in by a Shigemoto Noriyuki PINCH-HIT homerun that tied the game up. The Montis failed to score in the 8th, and in the 9th Yan ran into trouble again, giving up a leadoff triple to Anthony Reyes, who was promptly driven in by Lamont Sanchez’s single for the go-ahead run. Despite catcher Tina Quach earning herself a walk with 1 out to set up the tying run, the game was to end on a pinch-hit strikeout by Jonathan Chee. Katarn pitched brilliantly against a high-octane Daly City offense, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 7 hits and a walk over 8 innings, while striking out 8. Yan, in perhaps a more awe-inspiring but leaky performance, allowed 6 hits (4 going for extra bases) and 3 runs, despite striking out 18 batters and requiring just 9 outs from his fielders. It was his second loss of the season.

The Montis came roaring back with a vengeance in the next three games, winning by a combined score of 23-3. In an all-team effort, the Montis piled up for 44 hits, 3 walks and a combined line of .379-.388-.543 to back a dominant  trio of performances by starters Esguerra (1 run on 4 H+BB in 8 innings, 10 K’s), Chin (1 run on 6 H+BB in 8 innings, 13 K’s), and Zhao (1 run on 8 H+BB in 9 innings CG, 13 K’s). The Montis line up exacted a blistering revenge on Forfeiters ace Kyle Katarn in Game 5, ripping him for 14 hits and 9 runs in 7+2/3 innings in by far his worst outing of the season.

The Forfeiters would not go out so easily, however. Determined to win at least one on the last night of their homestand, leadoff CF James Talmage put on a 1-man show, stroking 2 doubles and a homerun in 3 hits to score 3 runs and drive in 4 himself, having a hand in 7 of the Shake Reducers 8 runs in their 8-6 victory. The young starter Alfred Vong was hit hard in this game, allowing 5 runs in 5+2/3 innings, and even closer Leong could not stop the bleeding – he gave up 3 more runs in just his 2nd appearance this postseason, driving up his ERA to a comical 33.76.

The Montis made things interesting in Game 6. Despite having both #1 and #2 starters Yan and Esguerra fully rested, the Montis manager instead trotted out long reliever Kelley Cox, making just the 2nd starter of her young career. She was the most well-rested of anyone on the Daly City pitching staff, having pitched just a two-inning outing in the opening series against the Asia Giants. Still, it was a curious choice, considering that Cox had not fared well in her only other audition as a closer, a May start against the Caribbean Pirates in which she lasted just 3+2/3 innings and gave up 5 runs on 9 Hits+BB.

The move proved to pay off, however – Cox threw an understatedly dominant 8 innings, allowing just 3 hits, 2 walks, and a single run in by far the longest outing of her career. Unfortunately for Cox, the fairytale of clinching the World Series championship win in her first postseason start in her rookie season was denied by Paris starter Kenneth Price, who pitched an equally dominant 9 innings with just 6 hits, 1 walk, and allowing a single run, all in an efficient 102 pitches. Cox left the game in the 9th with a 1-1 tie, having thrown 116 pitches, yielding to closer Leong.

The stalemate went on for what seemed like forever – after a Francis Chen double to put him on base at the bottom of the 11th, the Montis passed up two potential chances to score – the first when Chen (speed 70/100) was stopped at third on a Derek Lew single to leftfield (not wanting to challenge LF Luciano Ferrant’s 91-rating arm), and another on Salgu Wissmath’s flyout to right (with RF Willis Hoffman’s 84-rating arm).

It was finally down to bottom of the 15th frame, with 2 outs in the bag. By this time, the Forfeiters had exhaused 3 pitchers and were on their 4th reliever, middle reliever Bobby Kantor. Josiah Leong, drawing from his experience as a converted starter, had muscled through an astonishing 7 shutout innings in relief, utterly dominating the Forfeiters to the tune of allowing just 2 hits, a walk, and a hit batter, while striking out 10 batters. With 2 outs against Kantor, RF Francis Chen, just 1 for 6 on the day, reaches base on a hit by pitch. With the aura of a man who’d been here many times before, Daly City all-time great Derek Lew strolled up to the plate.

Stepping up to the plate is… first baseman Derek Lew.
He is 2 for 6 tonight with a double.
There are two down, the count at 3 balls and zero strikes.
A walk here would bring up shorstop Salgu Wissmath.
Lew waits for the 3-0 pitch…
fastball…
Lew swings…
LINE DRIVE to left-center
a long run for Luciano Ferrant, but he’s got the stronger arm.
He is running fast…
it rolls to the wall…
Lew is heading for second…
and this time there is NO hesitation for Francis Chen, he is blazing past 3rd…
Chen slides, the throw will not be in time…
and Lew will have the game winner, the series winner with a stand-up RBI double!!!

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The 2007 Playoffs: League Series Recap

Game Recaps

The Longhorns weren’t quite the gimpy pushovers Daly City expected, taking over game 1 by jumping on Esguerra for 5 runs (though only 3 earned, the rest coming off of third baseman Salgu Wissmath’s fielding error).  Going into the bottom of the 8th, Daly City was down 2-4 when they began mounting a comeback, with a 2-out solo homer by DH Skyler Reid in the 8th inning, and a 9th inning rally that saw both RF Francis Chen and the tying run, Derek Lew, reach base, only to have Chen picked off the bag right before catcher Tina Quach hit a bases-clearing (and potentially game-tying) triple.  Alas, with only 1 run in, and a subsequent groundout by Wissmath, the game ended in a stunning 4-5 loss for the Montis, their first playoff loss since last year’s league championship round against the Longhorns.

The success would be short-lived for Microsoft, however, as Daly City proceeded to pounce on the notably feeble Longhorns starting pitching, who gave up 23 earned run on 41 hits and walks in just 14 innings over the next four games (a horrific 14.79 ERA and 2.93 WHIP).  The entire team had 213 plate appearances, notching an absurd .369-.404-.591 line over the 5-game series.  Of the 9 starters (min. 14 plate appearances), 7 had OPS greater than .900 (5 over 1.000).  Notably, Kuo, Wissmath, Lew, and Quach had huge series. Kuo slapped in 12 hits on 25 at-bats and was 4-for-4 stealing bases (though without any walks and just one extra base hit, for a .480-.480-.520 line); Wissmath accumulated a few less hits and a few more walks from the #2 slot behind Kuo to post a .381-.480-.524 line; Lew was the primary slugger, driving in a triple, homerun, and FIVE doubles in the short series to post a .391-.375-.826 line and tie for the lead with 9 RBIs; Quach was limited in her platoon duties with Paz but made the most of her chances, posting the best rate stats – .500-.571-.833 – in just 14 plate appearances.

While the UL series settled itself predictably, fans got the wild shootout they hoped for in the SWL, where the Pentax Shake Reducers’ mighty one-man offense duked it out with the overwhelming and deep Paris pitching staff.

The first two games went the Shake Reducer’s way, though they were close.  Game 1 started off with a slugfest, with the Forfeiters scoring all four runs off homeruns by 2B Christian Lee (solo homer in the 2nd) and SS Lamont Sanchez (3-run homer in the 6th). As so many teams have learned over the course of the season, however, it’s hard to win a slugfest against the Pentax Shake-Reducing Machine, who piled on all six of their runs off of FOUR homers to win the game.

Game 2 shifted the stage dramatically, with a looming pitcher’s duel between staff aces Kyle Katarn and Augusto Figueroa.  Katarn pitched well, holding Pentax slugger Skywalker to no homeruns and no RBIs for the first time this postseason, but his Shake Reducer counterpart Augusto Figueroa stole the show, holding the Forfeiters to just 2 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 10 en route to a brilliant complete game shutout.

Luck began to turn to the Parisian side in Game 3, where the slow and steady Forfeiters’ offense scored in all but two innings in the first six frames to race to build up a 5-0 lead, enough to withstand a 4-run 7th by the big-play Pentax offense (built mostly on a bases-loaded-clearing double by leadoff hitter Alberto Munoz).  Now for the second straight game, Skywalker was without either a homerun or an RBI, an uneasy sign for a Pentax team that had come to rely on his offensive production.

The Shake Reducers seemed to come to life after that loss however, with Skywalker and shortstop Noe Pessoa answering the call with a pair of homeruns each (five RBIs between them), to just edge out the Forfeiters 6-5 (though it was a game of blown opportunities for Paris, who got on-base 18 times compared to the Shake Reducers’ 6).

Faced with a comfortable 3-1 series lead, and needing to win just once in the next 3 games, things were looking swell for the Shake Reducers and Skywalker to return to the championship game.  But it would all come crashing down in the very next game, a rematch of the Game 2 pitcher’s duel between Kyle Katarn and Augusto Figueroa. This time the Forfeiters hitters were ready, and pounced on Figueroa for 11 hits and 3 walks over 7+2/3 innings.  Katarn, meanwhile, dominated the Paris offense in allowing just 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run in his 3rd complete-game victory of the playoffs, even shutting out Gates Skywalker (0-for-4) for the first time.

Game 6 featured another pitcher’s duel, this time between Rex White (1 run over 7+1/3 innings) and Warren Hobson, who after his embarrassing 7+2/3 inning, 13 on-base, 7-run loss in game 3, seemed to have figured out the Paris lineup, pitching 8+2/3 innings and allowing just a single run.

Down to the top of the 9th, with 2 outs and just the Paris leftfielder James Talmage left to close out the inning in a 1-1 tie game, Hobson finally ran out of gas, having thrown an extraordinary 143 pitches.  Yielding way to Pentax bullpen, the Frenchman Gary Manseau promptly gave up a single to put Talmage on base, prompting the call for closer Alva Bilbao.  Down to their last out, RF Willis Hoffman blasted a double to drive in Talmage and stake the Reducers to a 2-1 lead, which Forfeiters’ aging closer Garfield Yocum was able to close out for the save.

Finally, it all came down to the deciding Game 7. Facing the inconsistent Parisian Kenneth Price, who after his dominant 8-inning, 1-run opening victory against Tokyo had been bombed for at least 5 runs in his last two starts (losing both Games 1 and 4 in the series), Pentax jumped to a modest 5-3 lead after 6 innings, on the strength of another 2-run shot by Gates Skywalker at the bottom of the 6th to take the lead.  After giving up another hit (leadoff double by Noe Pessoa) to get into more trouble in the bottom of the 7th, Paris pulled the shaky Price for young sophomore reliever Bobby Kantor, who finished out the bottom of the 7th and 8th innings perfectly.

After using up all of Reinaldo Valdeluji for 7 innings and 127 pitches, Pentax finally brought the bullpen at the top of the 8th, starting the shaky Alexander Larson (5.36 career ERA), who promptly got himself into trouble with a walk and then a single to allow Willis Hoffman and Lamont Sanchez on-base.  With the go-ahead run now at the plate, the Shake Reducers brought out their second bullpen option, the similarly shaky Gary Manseau (5.17 career ERA). The results weren’t any better – Manseau gave up 3 more hits before he could close out the inning, staking the Parisians to a slim 1-run lead, and the Shake Reducers would not battle back after that.

Thus ended the latest run by Gates Skywalker, who tried to muscle his team into the World Series (he went .458-.490-.1.354, with 13 HR and 20 RBI in just 12 postseason games). But even his awe-inspiring output couldn’t stake the Shake Reducers to a lead they couldn’t blow – in total the Shake Reducer bullpen threw 5 innings in the series, with a 7.20 ERA, and 2.80 WHIP.

The theater of action now moves to the Universal Championship, with the potential to feature several epic pitching matchups between Daly City ace Yan, who has pitched two complete-game shutouts so far and has thrown 37 K’s in 18 innings while only allowing 4 walks, against the SWL’s best pitcher Kyle Katarn, who’s 3-1 in 4 starts with a 1.29 ERA and 0.69 WHIP in 35 innings (and has also gone 4 for 4 in complete games, one of them an 8-inning loss).

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The 2007 Playoffs: Divisional Series Recap

Game Recaps, Uncategorized

Saturday, October 9th – in a divisional series round with few tight races, things went even easier than expected for the favored teams. One series ended in  a sweep, and the three others went 4-1, setting up the earliest league series round (starting October 10th) in recent memory.

For a supposed pushover opponent, Game 1 of the Daly City Montis-Asia Giants series started off with a dramatic opener – Whitney Esguerra, leading off the series after #1 Starter Nathan Yan pitched the final game of the regular season, turned in a solid 2 run, 7+1/3 inning performance against the Asia Giants, striking out 7.  The prolific Montis offense, however, couldn’t quite get started against the Giants’ Ramon Obando , racking up only 3 runs through the first 8 innings.

With middle reliever Alvina Chu effectively handling the 8th, it was up to the erratic closer Josiah Leong to finish out the 1-run lead. Despite evolving into one of the most dominant closers in the league this season (his 2.09 ERA and 11.6 K/9 were both 3rd-best among relievers), Leong promptly imploded with a walk, two hits, a wild pitch, and two runs to give up the lead and throw the Montis into a rare do-or-die at the bottom of the 9th, down by a run.

Nonetheless, the Montis had reason to hope, with the core of their lineup coming up, starting with Reid-Kwong-Chen-Lew. The group went 2 for 4 to set up runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs, and then it was up to the feeble-hitting catcher, Tina Quach, to make things happen at the plate.

Strike 1, taken.

Strike 2, taken.

Then a diving split-fingered fastball, some hesitation, and a late swing.

Fouled off, just barely, dribbing in the dirt down the first base line.

And then like a Cinderella story gone terribly wrong, it all seemed to unravel  for the underdog Asia Giants.  Closer Pendergast issued four straight balls, to grant Quach a walk and load up the bases, and set up a final showdown against Daly City’s #8 hitter.

And for a game as dramatic as this, who else would be waiting on deck, in the 9th inning with two outs, but the legendary clutch hitter of storied postseasons past, Joanna Maung. Naturally, she loads up a full 3-2 count…

The count is 3 and 2…
Pendergast kicks and fires…
fastball…
Maung swings…
it’s lined
Simmons dives…
but he can’t get it…
Reid scores with the tying run…
Kwong is rounding third…
Batchelder throws home…
Beasley takes it…
Kwong slides…
it’s going to be close…
SAFE!
And the clutch hero Maung comes through yet again with a game-winning, 2 RBI single!

The rest of the series ended without too much fanfare – the versatile middle infielder Wissmath powered the offense in Game 2 with 2 hits, a walk, a homer, 2 runs and 2 RBIs, and a stolen base in 4 plate appearances from the 9-spot, as the Montis won a 6-2 game that was never much in doubt.

The Montis then closed the series out with dominating performances in games 3 and 4, with Yan pitching a 1-hit, 1-walk, 20-K shutout in game 3, backed by 12 runs and 21 hits and 2 walks in an offensive massacre.  The clinching game 4 ended 8-2, on the strength of a 5 for 5 on-base day for leadoff hitter Kuo (4 hits, 1 walk, 3 stolen bases, 3 runs) and 3 for 5, 4 RBI game for leftfielder Kwong.

There weren’t too many surprises elsehwere in the league, either.  Microsoft looked to be in dire trouble aftr their first game, when ace pitcher Kernel Tyranus (18-8, 2.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in the regular season) strained his rotator cuff after pitching just 2 outs into the 2nd inning, and the Carribean hitters feasted on the Longhorns bullpen to the tune of 22 hits and a walk in 47 at bats, including 6 doubles and 2 homers for an overall .468-.479-.723 day en route to 13 runs.

The Pirates seemingly spent up all of their offensive energy in that first game, and weren’t able to mount much of any offense thereafter, even against a Longhorns pitching staff ranked woefully below-average this season.  The fading Sherwood Bertsch, who mustered only a 5.01 ERA and 1.23 WHIP this season, kept the Pirates down to just 1 run over 7+2/3 innings. Willhuff Tarkin, who earned a 5.48 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in the season, then pitched a gem in a 5-hit, no walk, 1-run, 8+2/3 inning Game 3 performance.  And then lastly Eddie Castilleja (6.59 ERA, 1.62 WHIP in regular season), combined with relievers Ellsworth Hartzler (4.98, 1.26) and rookie reliever Miguel Ojeda (3.28 ERA, 1.35) for another 1-run performance in the game 4 win. The clinching game 5 was delivered by a fearsome hitting clinic put on by Jabba Desilijic Ture (3 for 4 with 2HRs, 3 RBIs, and 2 runs), but also came with a cost: #2 starter Sherwood Bertsch went down after just 3+1/3 innings with an inflamed rotator cuff, making him doubtful for the rest of the playoffs, and possibly putting down the Longhorns to the 3rd, 4th, and 5th starters of their already woeful staff.

League Series: Daly City Montis vs. Microsoft Longhorns

Even at full strength outset, this matchup would have been tough – the Longhorns might have hoped to hammer some of Daly City’s starters with their core lineup (the only one in the league with 3 hitters with a  > 1.000 OPS this season), but after losing their ace and only above league-average starter Kernel Tyranus, and then even losing their #2 starter Bertsch, it’s hard to imagine the Longhorns being able to do much at all to stymie the onslaught of a Montis offense that is firing on all cylinders, with four hitters (RF Chen, DH Reid, CF Kuo, and LF Kwong) with a divisional series OPS greater than 1.000, and an overall team performance in the first round of .354-.429-.524.

Prediction: Montis, 4-0

Over in the SWL, some analysts questioned how well Skywalker would produce in his first postseason stint with the Shake Reducers, and if it would be enough to propel the otherwise weak-hitting Pentax offense over the more well-balanced Nikon Vibration Reducers.  To the first question, as if it were anything but rhetorical, Skywalker raked the Nikon pitching staff to put up an incredible line: .550-.609-1.800, going 11 for 20 with 8 (EIGHT!) homeruns while driving in 14 RBIs and scoring 9 runs himself.  He homered in every single game of the 5-game series, hitting 2, 1, 1, 1 and 3 homeruns.

The second question is more vital to how far the Shake Reducers go this season. While Skywalker certainly led the way, Pentax piled on 41 runs in five games over the Vibration Reducers, who were no slouches as the 5th-best staff in baseball by ERA this season.  The offense was bolstered by a hot week by centerfielder Steffen Richardson (.400-.455-1.000 in driving in 10 RBIs and scoring 8 in 22 plate appearances) and 2B Joseph Thomason (.450-.500-.650 in 22 plate appearances), two players who didn’t show much offensive prowess during the regular season (.737 and .736 OPS, respectively).  If they cool off, and no one else heats up, things could get much more challenging for the Shake Reducers.

In a masterful demonstration of pitching dominance, Paris pulled off a dominant 4-1 series victory over Tokyo by allowing just 11 runs over 5 games – 2.2 runs per game, compared to 4.0 allowed by Pentax and 4.2 allowed by Microsoft in their 4-1 series victories. They were led by two dominant outings by ace Kyle Katarn, who pitched two complete games to go 2-0, 18 innings, 15 K’s, with a 1.00 ERA and miniscule 0.61 WHIP.

League Series: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Paris Forfeiters

The SW league series once again pits offensive prowess against dominant pitching, with baseball’s hands-down Batter of the Year, Skywalker, hoping to lead a one-man offense against a solid rotation led by the hands-down SWL Pitcher of the Year and Triple Crown winner Kyle Katarn.  While the Shake Reducers bashed the other side into submission and the Forfeiters mowed down the opposing offense, both dominated to similar degree – Pentax outscored Nikon 41-20 (2.05x, 0.808 pythag. win%), while Paris outscored Tokyo 21-11 (1.91x, 0.785 pythag. win%). The deciding factor may be Forfeiters ace Katarn’s limited schedule, having pitched complete games in both Games 1 and 4 of the division series, ruling him out for what may be a critical Game 7 third start.

Pentax: 4-3

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The 2007 Postseason Preview

League Review

Saturday, 2007 October 3 – the cool autumn breeze and the turning of the calendar to October means one thing for baseball fans – the playoffs are in the air, and while the Daly City Montis enter the postseason as dominant favorites once again, intriguing storylines abound everywhere, especially in the SWL where the four contenders were separated by just 4 games in the regular season.

While the past four years have been a gradual downward decline for the Montis (albeit still playing in a different class compared to other teams in the league), the Montis roared back to vintage dominance with a 131-31, .809 record, their second-best in team history and a 12-game improvement over the previous season. A weaker field also meant they completely ran away in the division – they clinched the division crown by August and finished with a staggering 41-game lead over the 2nd-place Microsoft Longhorns, who were no chumps themselves at 90-72, .556 with the 2nd-best record in baseball.

The Mozilla Firefoxes rose out of the cellar for the first time, as the bottom seemed to fall out of the Apple Septic Tanks, who have fallen from 2nd to 3rd to 4th place in the division in consecutive season, and finished with an abysmal losing record – 72-90, .444. They’re definitely feeling the loss of ace pitcher Kyle Katarn, who achieved the Triple Crown in the SWL with a 19-11, 3.34 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 298 K season.

Over in the tumultuous and always disappointing Terran Division, the Caribbean Pirates ascended to the top, posting a strong 79-83, .488 record – the best any Terran team has ever played. The Pirates were buoyed by the addition of free agent Simeon Sarvis who defected over from SWL’s Pentax and put up a .309-.376-.580 line, and the continued development of monster prospect Clifford Alfano, who followed up his outstanding rookie campaign (3rd place in UL rookie of year voting) by posting a .349-.446-.584 line and a scary 11.2 RC/27, 4th-best in the UL.

Last year’s first place Asia Giants took a slight step back, winning two fewer games but still managing to snag the last playoff berth with an abysmal 67-95, .414 record.

Following a tumultuous offseason in the Shinto-World League, the playoff picture will look massively different, both in terms of the teams present, the faces on them, and the familiar faces missing from October baseball.

The Canon Image Stabilizers, who had secured the division both years, plummeted to a tie for 3rd with the loss of all-galaxy slugger Gates Skywalker, who left to shatter his previous records in leading the Pentax Shake Reducers to the division crown. The Nikon Vibration Reducers, despite suffering from the loss of their own all-world slugger Richard Eager, replaced enough of his offensive prowess with free agent 1B Maul Foundation (.367-.403-.687, 2nd-best OPS and RC/27 in the SWL) to again finish 5th in baseball in offense, while shoring up their pitching with free agent Josue Berrero, who became the team’s ace with a 14-11, 3.88 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 234+1/3 IP season, good for the 5th-best ERA and 2nd-best WHIP in the SWL. They rose from the cellar last season to finish 84-78, .519, securing second place by 12 games.

Despite winning their division cleanly by five games, and dominating both sides of the ball by finishing 3rd in both runs scored and runs allowed (for a +119 run differential – no team outside of Daly City was better), the Pentax Shake Reducers come in with a bevy of question marks after their offseason makeover. Having lost their best two sluggers from 2006 – 1B Walter Vanish and RF Simeon Sarvis, who both went on two post .950+ OPS seasons with new teams – the Shake Reducers pulled in a free agent haul to more than replace them – 1B Barney Raymo slugged .292-.357-.558, and the ever-growing legend Gates Skywalker obliterated all records with a .359-.444-.981 season (1.426 OPS, 16.93 RC/27) to carry the team. If the prolific Skywalker can replicate his regular season success, even the veteran Montis offense will be pressed to keep pace.

The most dramatic late-September race was in the World Cities division. On 2007 September 23, with five games to go on the season, the Tokyo Samurai stood at had 84-73, and had secured a mildly comfortable lead over the 82-75 Las Vegas Valleys, who themselves had a 2-game margin over the 80-77 Paris Forfeiters. Tokyo went 3-2 the rest of the way to win the division by two games, but the Valleys stumbled a bit at 2-3, while the Forfeiters swept five games, including a crucial 161st game, 8-2 win against the Valleys to finally move ahead into second place, leaving the mercenary Richard Eager, he of the record-busting $38.3M annual salary, out of the postseason once again (something that will no doubt vindicate fans of the playoff-bound Vibration Reducers, his former team).

Matchups

Round 1: Asia Giants vs. Daly City Montis

Interestingly enough, despite being the weakest team in the playoff field this year, the Asia Giants tied with the Mozilla Firefoxes as the most succesful team against the Montis in 2007, albeit that “success” meant losing only at a 7-16 clip (.304). Still, they’ve fared much better against the Montis than either the Microsoft Longhorns or the Caribbean, who had combined to go 5-42, .106 against the Montis. Nonetheless it looks to be a longshot for the Giants – while rookie of the year Benjamin Trepanier has evolved into one of the top-five players in baseball (4th-best 11.9 RC/27 this year on a .316-.461-.606 line), and franchise cornerstone 1B Alex Quiros (who recently signed a 7-year, $8.45M per deal) whacked .294-.388-.616 over a full 162 game season, they lost their #5 slugger Tom Clark (.294-.373-.553) to a torn back muscle a few days before the end of the season. The powerful Montis lineup should also feast on the Giants’ atrocious hitting (5.87 ERA, 1005 runs allowed, both last in baseball).

Prediction: Daly City, 4-0

Round 1: Caribbean Pirates vs. Microsoft Longhorns

The Microsoft Longhorns come into this matchup noticeably less balanced than the year before, when they finished 2nd both in runs scored and allowed. Despite some importance losses – .300-.335-.583 SS Maul Foundation to free agency, .300-.339-.593 1B G.A. Thrawn to a complete skills regression (he hit .186-.233-.316 over 249 plate appearances this season), the rapid development of some of their younger hitters allowed the Longhorns to keep pace with 941 runs to once again finish second. Of particular note is the star-studded trio of gap hitters Jango and Boba Fett (.368-.453-.655 and .336-.407-.599, respectively) and UL homerun champion Jabba Desilijic Ture, who hammered 63 homers and a .246-396-.605 line). The Fetts and Desilijic Ture make Microsoft the only team with three players with a 1.000 or greater OPS. Their pitching, however, has been just mediocre – while Kernel Tyranus dominated once again (18-8, 2.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP), no other member of the rotation has an ERA less than 5.00.

While the Longhorns’ potent offense and ace Tyranus will present a tough matchup for anyone, the 2007 Caribbean Pirates squad – 10th in runs scored and 9th in runs allowed – is about the best the Terran Division has ever fielded, about on par with the 2005 European Cricketeers. Their lineup boasts a trio of stars – 20-year-old phenom Clifford Alfano, RF Simeon Sarvis, and 1B Luis Devitt, who on a good day can hit as well as the Longhorns’ three stars.  The Pirates’ pitching features solid but thoroughly unexciting innings-eater workhorses in Wilfredo Raposa, David Barnett, and Glenn Robertson.itt

On the  surface, Longhorns-Pirates looks to be an awfully lopsided matchup, but the Caribbean pitching staff, while not the dominating playoff ideal, actually match up well against Microsoft’s #2-4 starters.  With the right offensive burst, the Pirates might manage to win out two or so games in the series.

Prediction: Microsoft, 4-2

Round 1: Nikon Vibration Reducers vs. Pentax Shake Reducers

Though the Shake Reducers’ record did not fare much better than previous Photomaker division winners (they tied last year’s pennant-winning Image Stabilizers), their team looks to be the most stacked and balanced of all in the SWL, with a solid top-3 pitching rotation and the simply unstoppable Gates Skywalker, who could absolutely demolish the left-handed hopes that Nikon will ride on, #1 starter Josue Berrero and #2 Josue Huerta (Skywalker was a staggering .444-.529-1.294 against lefties this season).  The Shake Reducers’ hopes will lie almost entirely on Skywalker, however, as the team simply has no offense outside of him, while the Vibration Reducers can rely on young sluggers Maul Foundation and Brandon Wroten (.367-.403-.687 and .322-.405-.615, respectively).  Look for the Nikon squad to win a few games on a Skywalker off-day, but there likely won’t be enough of those before Skywalker single-handedly demolishes their pitching staff (especially against the lefty-heavy rotation).

Prediction: Pentax, 4-2

Round 2: Paris Forfeiters vs. Tokyo Samurai

A classic matchup of fearsome pitching against a fearsome lineup.  Tokyo run the division by bashing away at the opposition – they tied for 2nd in homeruns and 3rd in runs scored, led not only by free-agent import Walter Vanish (41 homers) and RF Ronald Peterson (39 homers), but also three additional batters who hit at least 20 round-trippers.   Their swing-for-the-fences approach, however (they ranked 3rd in the SWL in strikeouts), could be exactly the wrong matchup against a lights-out Paris pitching staff that led the SWL in strikeouts and were 2nd in baseball, especially against Triple Crown winner and ace Kyle Katarn.  The problem for Paris will be generating enough offense; they don’t have a star hitter in the bunch, with shortstop Lamont Sanchez, at .271-.393-.471 (.864 OPS) as their best hitter.  The Forfeiters do make up for this in terms of consistency, however – their lineup is loaded with 6 regulars with an OPS between .798 and .864, which should mean slow but steady run production.  Combine that with a star-studded pitching staff that doesn’t need too many runs to begin with, and the Forfeiters should be able to upset the division champion Samurai, and have a fair shot at going far in these playoffs.

Prediction: Paris, 4-2

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Season-so-far: September 1st, 2007

Team Review

In Need of Relief

The Montis are rounding the final corner into September, and on paper they’re looking the strongest they’ve been in years.  They’re 109-26 (.807) and with a 33 game lead over the 2nd place Microsoft Longhorns (76-59, .563, second-best in baseball), they’ve already clinched the division.  They’re on pace to blow away their records the past two seasons (125-37, .772 in 2005 and 119-43, .735 in 2006), and they’ve even got a fair shot of beating out their second-best 131-31 (.809) record from their inaugural 2003 season.

But the Montis have hit a roadbump that threatens to derail their season – while staying virtually injury free all season (save for a broken rib injury that allowed Tina Quach to play in only 17 games between July and August), the Montis lost two critical players right at the end of August – on the 30th, setup reliever Alvina Chu suffered a devastating ruptured tricep tendon that will leave her out for 4-5 weeks, likely leaving her out for at least the first round of the playoffs.  The very next day, star leftfielder Ted Kwong injured his back running the bases on a double, and is out 1-2 weeks.  While a condensed 3-man rotation of Yan-Esguerra-Chin (a combined 64-5 over 609 innings with 1.88 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 918 K’s (13.57 K’s/9) will likely be able to hold for the playoffs without too much bullpen support, the offensive machine will need Kwong to come back at full strength if it expects to continue humming at its league-leading 6.81 runs per game pace.

The rest of the league is starting to shape up as well – the Microsoft Longhorns seem to have a firm grip on 2nd place as they’ve done all season, backed by their murderer’s trio of  sluggers (Jango Fett – .376-.455-.669, Boba Fett – .346-.411-.612, Jabba Desilijic Ture – .251.396-.609), and the Caribbean Pirates have reversed their 2006 last-place fortunes by staking themselves to a 66-69 (.489) record and 7 game lead atop the UL Terran Division.

The race in the SWL is a bit more interesting – while Pentax (led by .349-.438-.971 Skywalker and no one else) and Nikon seem to have secured playoff spots for the Photomaker division, the World Cities division will come down to the wire, with Las Vegas, Tokyo, and Paris all within 3 games of each other.

The Lineup

Tina “Experimental Error” Quach, Catcher/Third Basewoman: Quach hasn’t done much at all the past couple months, playing in just 17 games since July after breaking several ribs in a collision at the plate.  As such, her numbers haven’t changed much – Quach went an unremarkable .274-.338-.306 and hasn’t been all that impressive since her outstanding April.

Marco Paz, Catcher: After a blistering first-half performance, Paz has regressed mightily, hitting a terrible .214-.290-.325 in July-August, and with Quach healthy and spot starting behind the plate (albeit not hitting all that well either), Paz will need to fight to maintain his current position.  Paz has worked much better on his defense, however – he’s thrown out 10 of 22 runners since the season’s midpoint, finally fulfilling the potential of his cannon arm.

Derek Lew, First Baseman: Derek Lew is nothing but consistent, and while other hitters have had flashed terrific parts of seasons, Lew has been content to continue plugging along near his career averages – so far he’s put up a .288-.342-.559 line on the year.  Lew won’t have any earth-shattering developments this year – he’s on pace to put up 74 doubles, 12 triples, 27 homers, 144 RBIs, 136 runs (great but no career bests) – but one area of encouraging improvement is Lew’s improved walk rate – he’s already set a career best for walks with 47, and his walk rate of 7.7% is a vast improvement over the 4.6% rate he put up last season.

Cristian Ortiz, Second Baseman: Ortiz has continued his torrid June pace into the blistering Indian Summer,  propelling Ortiz to career bests in almost every category, with a full month left to go.  Ortiz has already set a career high in homeruns (26), doubles (36), RBIs (106), Runs (130), walks (74), and has already broken last year’s stolen base record with 95 so far this season.  He’s batting .309-.396-.532, all career highs, and should have no problem achieving the lofty goal of 100 steals on the season (he’s on pace for 113).

Henry “Mr.” Nghe, Shortstop: The oldest player on the Daly City team may finally be showing his age – at 30 years old, Nghe is putting up career lows in almost all categories, with a replacement-level .263-.324-.404 line.  While attributed to poor luck early on, Nghe hasn’t been able to get good contact on the ball at all – his BABiP has plummeted from  to .425 to .457 to .304 this season, which has been terrible news for a player who built his on-base and slugging rates on good batting averages.

Joanna Maung, Saung-gah-basewoman: Written off in the first half of the season after compiling worse than replacement level .250-.320-.288 batting, Maung has finally begun to heat up, hitting .308-.390-.385 and .385-.417-.477 in July and August.  She’s even refound her clutch intangibles, hitting .563-.611-.750 in close/late situations.

Salgu “Swissmath” Wissmath, Utility Infielder: Swissmath has gone through significant growing pains as a rookie, but she’s done fairly well for a #9 hitter, raking .420-.474-.620 in July and raising her line up to .302-.371-.413 on the season, and even stealing 21 bases to boot (on just 315 plate appearances). With the continued struggles of Nghe at shortstop, and Maung only now finding her stroke, Swissmath has a decent shot at playing herself into a solid infield starting position by the time the postseason rolls around.

Ted Kwong, Leftfielder: If the slight cool-down heading into the all-star break cast any doubts on the young rookie’s skills, Kwong answered them authoratatively in July and August, hitting a monstrous .393-.480-.749, with 20 homeruns, 52 RBIs, 53 runs, and 34 walks in that span. He’s vaulted himself into the leading position for the Batter of the Year award, with a .364-449-.713 line, 43 homeruns, 123 RBIs, and 130 runs on the season.  His 1.162 OPS, .713 slugging, 13.1 RC/27, and 130 Runs lead the field of candidates, and opposing managers have come to fear him, intentionally walking him a UL-leading 17 times (just one behind Pentax uber-slugger Skywalker).

Jessica Kuo, Centerfielder: The fleet-footed Kuo didn’t blaze the basepaths quite as fast in August – she nabbed just 11 bags after pacing the league (including league-leader Ortiz) every month from May through July.  With Ortiz’s increased power pushing him back to the #2 slot in the lineup, Kuo has taken most of the starts at leadoff, where she’s produced mixed results – her speed has been impressive, but she’s gotten on base at a league-average rate of just .340.

Francis Chen, Rightfielder: After his monstrous June performance won him an All-Star nod for the very first time, Chen’s BABiP regressed back to normal as he saw his batting average plummet to .235 over July-August.  Still, between walks and hit-by-pitches (12th and 6th in the league, respectively) Chen has pulled things together enough to make him serviceable at the plate (a .362 OBP for the season), which has given him enough chances this season to develop and display his prodigious power – and oh what power!  Chen is slugging .656 on the season, and ranks second in the league behind Microsoft’s Desilijic Ture in homeruns.  He’s already tied Norman Ho’s record of 49 homers, and has still got a month to go!  Needing only another 11 homers (which he’s already done in 3 of 5 months this season), Chen even stands a fair shot of becoming only the second player to hit 60 homers since the 2005 league reboot.

Tiffany Ho, Utility Outfielder: Perhaps the most consistent of all the young centerfielders, Ho still lags behind both Kuo and Reid in starts but has demonstrated her versatility by playing at least twenty games in all three outfield positions. While she’s still learning to take a walk (just 14 walks in 305 plate appearances – fewest on the team by far), she’s smacking the ball at a much better rate (.330 batting average), and putting a little more power on it as well (she’s raised her bases per hit from 1.32 to 1.40).  It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out, as all three players will be competing fiercely to gain a foothold on the starting job for the postseason, and 2008.

Skyler Reid, Designated Hitter: After leading the field of standout rookie centerfielders, the rookie Reid has been finding success in patches.  Reid stumbled out of the gate in the second half, batting an abysmal .065-.121.-065 in July, but then followed up with a fantastic .373-.431-.644 August.  With better defenders Kuo (or occassionally Ho) establishing themselves in the centerfield position, Reid has mostly been delegated to designated hitter duties, but he’s performed well enough there to carve out a sizable majority of starts.

Jonathan “The Cheet” Chee, Designated Hitter/Emergency Catcher: Chee isn’t quite sure what position he plays these days – he’s started just 8 of 58 games in the field, none of them in the outfield where he has most experience. In fact, the lack of positional flexibility and his defensive liability in the outfield has probably hamstrung Chee the most in his search for consistent playing time to establish himself this season.  Nonetheless, while Chee continues to struggle with an abysmal slugging percentage (just .322 – set to be the second-lowest on record of any Daly City season with at least 250 plate appearances), he’s refound some of his ability in his area of strength: walks and hit-by-pitches and on-base percentage.  Since July Chee has reached base at a .439 pace, behind only LF Kwong in that span.

Nathan Yan, #1 Starter: The second half of 2007 has been marred with inconsistency for Yan, who has put together 10 complete games, 7 without earned runs, in 12 starts over July and August, yet came away with a solid but not awe-inspiring 0.95 ERA to show for it. Despite a dominating stretch (complete games in 17 of his past 19 starts, including his second PERFECT GAME of the season), he’s also been hit hard, giving up his first non-quality start of the season – 4 runs over 7 innings against the United States Patriots, and the brilliant control he demonstrated in the first half of the season seems to have regressed (he walked 9 batters in July alone, after walking just 8 in the three preceding months).  Nonetheless, Yan’s peripherals remain strong, and with his aggressive start schedule he could break several records – he can make up to 6 more starts in September, which currently projects to give him new career highs (and league records) in innings (294 IP), strikeouts (595), complete games (28), and shutouts (16).

Whitney Esguerra, #2 Starter: Esguerra has truly evolved into a lights-out phenom in just her second year, and has shown no signs of letting up – behind Yan, she’s second in baseball in nearly ever pitching statistic, from ERA (2.19) to Wins (20) to Quality Starts (23) to K’s per 9 (11.2).  For the year she’s 20-1 in 25 starts, and has been immensely consistent in her dominance – she hasn’t gone a single month with an ERA above 3.00 or a WHIP above 1.00.  If she can maintain the same level through September, Esguerra has a chance to set several Daly city marks – with 4 more wins she’ll have put up the best Wins mark of any pitcher not named Yan or Fong, and her current K-rate would put her at 283 K’s and 11.2 K’s/9 – both non-Yan Daly City records for a starter.

Samantha Chin, #3 Starter: While Esguerra has captured all the headlines and imagination with her potential, Daly City’s other young phenom starter has quietly continued her steady season-on-season improvement.  While none of her numbers jump off the graphs, she’s set to put up career bests in almost all categories, and put together a dominating July stretch in which she pitched shutouts into the 9th inning in four straight starts, completing two of them.  Chin had a forgettable August however, giving up a 4.24 ERA and managing less than 7 innings per start.

Terrence Zhao, #4 Starter: While the dominance of the 2005 Zhao may be long gone, he’s quietly turned around his abysmal first half with solid performances in the second half, winning all eight starts with a 2.10 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, and even finishing out August with a pair of complete game shutouts.  With a 3-man rotation a strong possibility going into the playoffs, Zhao will have to reach back for some of that 2005 magic to displace Chin for that #3 slot.

Alfred Vong, #5 Starter: Vong entered the season with high expectations for himself, and for four months it looked like he was destined become another lights-out ace in the loaded Daly City rotation.  Through the end of July, Vong had compiled a 7-2 record in 12 starts, with a 2.83 ERA and 0.94 WHIP.  Things came crashing down for Alfred in August, however, as he put up ugly starts and a 5.97 ERA en route to a 1-3 record in 5 starts.  Vong’s lone gem in that span was a complete game, 1-run win.  For now the bullpen convert will struggle through some consistency issues, and with the knockout of setup reliever Chu, may find himself resuming his old relief duties for the month of September.

Sean Wade, #6 Starter: Bad has turned worse for Wade, whose pitches have looked like homing missiles for bats this season.  With a 5.23 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, Wade is having one of the worst seasons on record for a regular starting pitcher in Daly City – no one who has thrown more than 50 innings has ever fared worse (and Wade has been given 105!).

Kelley Cox, Long Reliever: Cox has struggled of late, although her problems are partially due to rust – solid starts by the Daly City rotation in July meant almost no work for Cox, who made just two appearances and pitched 1+1/3 innings that month.

Bernadette Dugtong, Middle Reliever: Dugtong hasn’t been flashy (her numbers are 3.46 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 5 holds against 1 blown save), but she’s been adequate and durable stopgap in middle relief.

Alvina Chu, Setup Reliever: Chu’s farewell tour ended early as she ruptured her tricep tendon at the end of August, leaving Daly City’s most experienced reliever out for the rest of the regular season, and possibly into the playoffs as well. Up to that point, Chu had been putting together a solid second half – she sported a 3.04 ERA and 0.98 WHIP through 26+2/3 innings of work.  Her loss means an already thin bullpen (down to just three relievers, including closer Leong) will have to work overtime over the last month.

Josiah Leong, Closer: After months of dull perfect innings and few save opportunities, Leong was back to his thrill-seeking ways in July and August, going 4-1 with a 3.27 ERA and both blowing and saving critical leads. On the whole, however, Leong is having his best season yet as a closer – he’s blown just 2 save opportunties (21 for 23 – 91.7%, tops among relievers with at least 20 save opportunities) and has dominated with a 2.12 ERA, though he hasn’t had many opportunities to protect close leads for the overpowering Daly City offense.

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