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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 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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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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2007 Midseason Review (Team)

Team Review

More than most seasons in recent memory, the Daly City lineup is an embarrassment of riches.  While some of the veterans have put up lackluster numbers, almost every reserve and newcomer has panned out in a big way, batting their way into the lineup.  As the Monti manager joked – it’s an 11-man lineup squeezing into 9 spots.  As a result, no player has fewer than 137 plate appearances at the midpoint of the season, as the competition for playing time has forced nearly everyone out at some point for the next hot-hitting player.

The Lineup

Tina “Experimental Error” Quach, Catcher/Third Basewoman: Quach (.310-.376-.381) has put up a great batting average, but not too much else out of the ordinary so far this season, as her OBP and SLG numbers have fallen roughly in line with her career numbers.  After a strong start, she was merely pedestrian in May and June, and with the continued mashing on display by fellow catcher Marco Paz, has been forced into exile at the third base position.

Marco Paz, Catcher: After exploding onto the scene early in the year, Paz has shown that he’s here to stay, raking his way to a .346-.398-.533 line while displacing Quach as the primary catcher.  His potent power has faded somewhat (he’s slugged just .511 after belting 4 homers in 56 at-bats for a .607 slugging in April), but Paz has proved his resilience by continuing to pour on the hits, actually improving his average from the .339 he hit in April.  Paz does need to work on his fielding, however – he’s thrown out just 8 of 34 runners this year, ranking just 18th out of 21 of catchers with 20 or more baserunner attempts.

Derek Lew, First Baseman: After what looked like an MVP start to the season in April, Lew has struggled at the plate as of late, producing a line of .290-.345-.541, good for just the 6th-best OPS on the team (and just the 8th-best Runs Created/27 outs at 6.15 RC/27).  One area that Lew continues to improve in, however, is his walk rate, where his 30 bases-on-balls so far is on pace to shatter his career high of 43, achieved in his rookie year.

Cristian Ortiz, Second Baseman: The slick-fielding Ortiz is having a career season as he’s setting career highs in almost all categories, and becoming a bonafide force in the leadoff spot by adding on-base ability (.404 OBP) and power (17 homers, .519 SLG) to his arsenal of speed (60 stolen bases so far).  As it stands, Ortiz is on pace to shatter two records this season: he’s on pace for 120 steals and a staggering 170 runs, which would shatter his own record (set just last year) of 91 steals, and Kenton McClinton’s 166 runs from his hallowed 1942 season.

Henry “Mr.” Nghe, Shortstop: Dismissed as an early season fluke, Daly City is in full-on worry mode for Nghe, who so far has hit at a glacial .250-.305-.403 clip.  At this point the only thing allowing Nghe to start a staggering 58 of 81 games is the lack of any suitable backup to play the shortstop position.

Joanna Maung, Saung-gah-basewoman: The incumbent third basewoman has looked terrible at the plate, with a .250-.320-.288 line with no discernible pop (her isolated power is just 1.15 total bases per hit), and she’s done even worse in the clutch hitting situations she’s known for, batting .182-.250-.182 in close/late situations and just .128-.271-.179 with runners in scoring position.  With a multitude of hitters banging on the third base door to get a spot in the lineup, she may be relegated back to her bench/pinch-hitting role for the rest of the season.

Salgu Wissmath, Utility Infielder: Daly City has had to lean heavily on the green Wissmath, who was originally brought in to back up the middle infield.  She’s played about as well as you might expect from a rookie bench player, putting up an adequate .275-.350-.350 line that would be great for spot duty, but hasn’t been quite enough to warrant the substantial number of starts she’s received (42 total) in place of the struggling Nghe and Maung.  She’s also looked shaky on defense, committing 9 errors so far playing 2nd, 3rd, and shortstop (her fielding percentage is .932).  But for better or worse, the young Wissmath has been thrown into the starting infield fire, until the incumbents can re-establish themselves or some other candidate can clearly separate themselves from the pack.

Ted Kwong, Leftfielder: While Kwong has cooled down just slightly from his April pace, he’s continued to rake through the summer months and now sits near the top of the UL leaderboard in almost every category (he ranks in the top 5 in OBP, SLG, Runs Created, RC/27, RBIs, and Runs).  For the season, his line stands at .344-.430-.687, which if, he holds pace, would rank as the 8th-5th-2nd best in team history, and would set a new Montis record with 11.88 RC/27 and 181.2 Runs Created total (shattering the previous records of 10.95 RC/27 and 165.53 total RC set by Norman Ho in 2003).

Jessica Kuo, Centerfielder: After competitively pushing for centerfield playing time with outstanding play in April, the speedy Kuo has done nothing but pick up speed – literally.  After disappointing with just 3 steals against 4 times caught in April (despite reaching base 20 times in 47 plate appearances), Kuo turned on the afterburners, swiping 23 bags in May and 19 in June, outpacing team and league leader Ortiz both months, despite having just 205 plate appearances to his 253 and 79 on-base chances to his 104.  She’s been playing in both the #1 and #9 spots as a leadoff hitter, and has set the table nicely with a .393 on-base percentage.  On account of her stellar defense, Kuo seems to have gotten the majority of starts at centerfield so far, squeezing fellow outfielders Tiffany Ho and Skyler Reid into other positions on the field.  Kuo had one of the most exciting stretches in baseball for a while from mid-April to mid-May, when she put together a 22-game hitting streak that looked like it might challenge the 27-game record set by 3B Joey Wong in 2004.  During the streak she hit .414 (41 for 99).

Skyler Reid, Centerfielder/Designated Hitter: The rookie Reid has been tearing it up at the plate beyond everyone’s expectations so far.  Projected to be a low percentage batter with some pop, Reid has hit to a tune of .356-.400-.531, ranking 1st-3rd-5th on the team, and with the 3rd-best RC/27 (8.84, behind only Kwong and RF Francis Chen).  Mostly, the results have rested on a stellar ability, and a bit of luck in making good contact – Reid’s BABiP is an absurd .459, which unfortunately isn’t likely to last into the second half of the season.  But for now, Reid has worked himself into a large portion of starts between the centerfield and designated hitter spots.

Francis Chen, Rightfielder: After three years of patient waiting, the season of reckoning has finally arrived for Francis Chen, who at long last has developed the power stroke and consistency to deliver the MVP-type season he has only hinted at in flashes.  It’s only halfway through the season, but Chen is already close to setting career highs in HR’s (29) and RBIs (74), and leads the team in those categories as well.  After posting a solid performance in April, Chen seemed to lose himself once again in May when he put up a .176-.341-.412 line, before a monstrous .338-.436-.925, 14 HR, 32 RBI June vaulted him into the discussion as one of the best sluggers in the game.  Unless he falls apart completely, Chen should easily find himself among the elite 40HR club (only two others have achieved this in team history, and none since 2004), and has a very good shot at becoming the first Daly City player to hit 50, and maybe even 60 homers.

Tiffany Ho, Utility Outfielder: Ho seems to be making marked strides after her full-season stint at center last season, but has had the unfortunate luck of competing against two breakout rookies in her centerfield spot.  As a result, Ho has been the odd woman out, making just 30 starts compared to 59 for Reid and 52 for Kuo.  Nonetheless, Ho is hitting solidly – .326-.365-.488 – in limited duty, and she’s still shown her ever-enthusiastic spirit by even trying out the infield (3 starts at shortstop) as a way to find starts.

Jonathan “The Cheet” Chee, Utility Outfielder/Designated Hitter: It hasn’t been a kind season for Chee, who has maintained his on-base ability (.376 OBP) but has fallen off the map in just about every other area – he’s batting .244 and slugging a measly .291.  He’s made 36 starts, all but four of them at designated hitter, a year after contributing 137 starts in leftfielder.  Without any ability besides a simply adequate production of weak singles and walks, and lacking the defensive skills to play any of the demand positions, The Cheet finds himself without a clear role or future going into the second half of the season.

The Rotation

Nathan Yan, #1 Starting Pitcher: After appearing simply human in April, Yan has re-established his dominant form and is well on his way to another solid season, statistically in line with his past two.  It doesn’t look as though he’ll achieve the counting stats he did in record-breaking 2006 (when he pitched 284 innings, got 568 K’s, and finished with a 30-1 record; Yan is on pace for 276 innings, 546 K’s, and a 30-2 record), but he’s again putting up astronomical rate stats – he’s lowered both his hits and walk rate for a astounding 3.8 runners per 9 innings (compared to 4.4 in 2006), although he’s given up slightly more extra-base hits compared to last season (a .196 HR/9 vs. .127).  For the season, he’s putting up an ERA of 0.98, a WHIP of 0.40, and he’s on pace to tie career highs with 13 complete games and 7 shutouts, and pitched an amazing PERFECT GAME on May 23rd – a 22-K gem – just the fifth ever in league history, and the first since Jack Seeman’s perfect game for Seattle in 1938.

Whitney Esguerra, #2 Starting Pitcher: Big things were expected from Esguerra this season, but no one could have predicted she could put up such a dominant streak of performance – she’s 12-0 so far, with a 1.93 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, and she’s striking out batters at 11.1 K’s per 9, for a second-best league mark of 138 K’s.  While she’s improved in just about every area, the key to her success seems to be her complete shutdown of opposing sluggers – she’s given up just 4 homers all season for a rate of 0.3 HR/9 – the 2nd best mark in the league and far below the 1.1 mark last season.  As of now, she’s the leading candidate for 2nd place in the Pitcher of the Year award – no small feat consider she’s just 18 and in her second year in the league!

Samantha Chin, #3 Starting Pitcher: It’s been an up-and-down ride for Chin, who started the season slowly, had a brilliant May (4-0, 2.14 ERA, 0.89 WHIP), and has returned to average levels in June (2-2, 3.06 ERA, 1.08 WHIP).  She’s improved slightly overall, by lowering her walk rate and homerun rate, but her K’s have dropped by a significant amount – she’s hitting just 8.0 K’s/9 after flirting with the 9.0 mark the past two seasons.  Nonetheless, she seems to be making strides, and has already moved up to the #3 position in the rotation as the most consistent starter after Yan and Esguerra.

Terrence Zhao, #4 Starting Pitcher: At this point Zhao is still delivering solid performance, but he’s looked nothing like the dominant form he displayed in his runner-up Pitcher-of-the-Year in 2005.  His ERA is at 4.13, his WHIP is at 1.35, and he’s completed just 9 quality starts (64.3%), 2 CG’s and 1 shutout so far this season – all numbers that would put him on pace for the lowest since his rookie season.  He’s giving up a few more hits and walks and striking out batters less, but perhaps most alarming is that he’s giving up homeruns at more than twice the rate of previous seasons.  Zhao’s been demoted to the #4 spot for the meantime, and though it looks like his position is safe for now, even former spot starter Alfred Vong is chomping at his heels with a solid mid-summer performance.

Alfred Vong, #5 Starting Pitcher: Vong has flip-flopped between the #6 and #5 slots all season, and only recently has he secured the #5 spot for good.  As a result, he’s had the fewest opportunities of all starters (just 9 starts, compared to 12 for Wade and 16 for Yan).  Nonetheless, he’s made the most of it – he’s 6-2 so far with a 3.09 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, and turned in a solid June with a 1.82 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, and 2-1 record in 3 starts, including pitching his first-ever shutout against the Caribbean Pirates.  Vong is mostly doing it via solid control – he’s reduced his walk rate and homer rate significantly compared to last season, though with conditioning himself for the starter role, he seems to have lost a bit of zip (just 6.8 K’s/9 after 7.2 last season).

Sean Wade, #6 Starting Pitcher: Wade has simply imploded after a decent start to the season, putting up an ugly 1-2 record and 5.89 ERA in 8 starts.  Despite his abysmal performance, it’s hard to tell what’s wrong with Wade – his rate stats are not too far removed from last season, and he’s even improved a  bit in the HRs allowed and strikeouts department.  Perhaps at the end of the season, a regression to the mean may make his line respectable, but for now he’s just been sent down to 6th starter purgatory, where he’ll find even less starts than usual given the more aggressive start schedule Yan is slated for.

The Bullpen

Kelley Cox, Long Reliever: Aside from a lone ill-advised spot start she made in May, Cox has continued to be lights-out.  Filling in for Vong in a spot start, Cox gave up 5 runs in 3+2/3 innings.  Take that away, and she’s a brilliant 5-2 with 1 save,  2.41 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP in 44+2/3 of solid relief work.  She’s been absolutely vital to eating up the innings or sometimes even securing the wins after some of the early-game meltdowns by Daly City’s starters – she’s thrown at least 3 innings in 9 of her 18 appearances, and she’s on pace for nearly 90 innings of relief work, and will get close to Sarah Jimenez’s record of 90 relief innings set in 2003.

Bernadette Dugtong, Middle Reliever: After a rough introduction to the league in April, Dugtong seems to have settled down to become a solid reliever – she’s currently sitting at a 3.55 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, and amazingly hasn’t given up a homerun in 33 innings.  Despite great movement numbers, she isn’t blowing it by hitters (just 5.5 K’s/9), but is keeping good control with just 1.4 walks/9.

Alvina Chu, Setup Reliever: Chu had a dreadful two months to start the season, with a 5.33 ERA and 1.50 WHIP by the end of May.  Since then, she’s been absolutely lights out, holding on for three wins and an 0.57 ERA and 0.51 WHIP in 15+2/3 June innings.  In what is likely to be the 4-year veteran’s farewell season, her career could go out either way if she continues her June domination or reverts to the unsteady form that lost two games and blew three saves at critical moments in the beginning of the season.

Josiah Leong, Closer: Josiah has dominated in somewhat of a wasted performance so far this season – he’s given up just four runs and is on pace for career bests with a 1.24 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.  He’s allowed a miniscule 0.3 HR/9, and maintained a beefy 12.7 K’s per 9 with his high-velocity fastball, and hasn’t blown a save so far (after blowing 9 in a shaky 2006).  Despite all this, there have been barely any save opportunities at all – he’s converted all ten he’s been given this season, and picked up an extra 3-inning save, but aside from this has hardly found any opportunities to pitch – his 29 innings lag all relievers in the Daly City bullpen.

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Season-so-far: May 1st, 2007

Team Review

It’s been a topsy-turvy first month for the Daly City Montis, with flashes of brilliance mixed in with puzzling losses.  The Montis sit atop the Galactica Division at 21-7 (.750), the top record in the majors and 3 games ahead of the second-place Microsoft Longhorns.

Daly City dominates in almost all statistical categories – the team is 1st in offense (201 runs scored, vs. Nikon’s 188), leading in all rate categories save for batting avergae, and is 1st by a huge margin in pitching (an ERA of 2.90 – next best in a high offensive year is 4.08 by Mozilla).  Compared to a year ago at this point, Daly City seems to be in fantastic shape, and faces significantly weaker competition in the division (last year’s 3rd place, the .568 squad Apple Septic Tanks, carry a lowly 9-19 record (.321)).

The Lineup

Tina “Experimental Error” Quach, Catcher: After spending last season as the team’s primary catcher, Quach has been all over the field in her super-utility role this season, thanks to the sudden emergence of the power-hitting (and better defensive) backup catcher Marco Paz.  Despite taking starts in the catcher, third base, and designated hitter roles, Quach has flourished thus far this season – she’s hitting .363-.431-.461, raking in the hits.  Hitting at the top of the order, her high OBP rate thus far, she’s also one of the team’s primary run scorers, with 23 runs so far in the season.

Marco Paz, Backup Catcher: After putting up the most terrible hitting season in Montis history in 2006, Paz roared into the picture as backup catcher in his first spot start, hitting a homer in his first at bat, and continuing to rake the homeruns and RBIs after that, even from the #7 and #8 slots.  With a .339-.383-.607 batting line, Paz has hit himself into the catcher mix, making half of the team’s starts at the position and forcing Quach to find playing time at the expense of other positions.  How long Paz can keep this up remains to be seen, but for now he’s fully supplanted Quach at the catcher spot, even with the career season she’s been having so far.

Derek Lew, First Baseman: After his career MVP season in 2006, Lew picked up right where he left off, going .339-.397-.627 and having an outstanding month overall.  Most notably, Lew seems to be on a prodigious doubles pace, raking in 17 so far, and putting him on pace for 98, which would shatter his record of 77 set last year.  Lew also seems to be judging the strike zone better, which has significantly boosted production – he has walked in 8.4% of plate appearances, compared to just 4.6% last season, and his now-serviceable OBP makes him much less of a liability in the middle of the order.

Cristian Ortiz, Second Baseman: The speedy Ortiz is off to a solid start, averaging what would be career highs in all rate stats (.294-.391-.471) and taking advantage of his high OBP rate thus far to absolutely blaze the basepaths to the tune of 22 steals against just twice caught stealing (a 91.7%).  He’s on pace for an absolutely incredible 127 stolen bags, but that will be highly contingent on keeping up his career-best OBP and retaining his spot at the top of the order, which has seen some stuff competition in recent weeks.

Henry “Mr.” Nghe, Shortstop: Nghe has looked completely lost at the plate, hitting a terrible .245-.305-.396, and eating up 118 plate appearances while doing it.  His batting average on balls in play (BABiP) is a low .279, compared to the .390 he’s averaged for his career prior to 2007.  Nghe should get back on track, and with only a single backup (new utility infielder Wissmath) who hasn’t exactly lit it up so far, the former #3 hitter will need to in order to get Daly City’s offense fulling humming again.

Joanna Maung, Saung-gah-basewoman: Maung’s numbers so far eerily mimic her slightly disappointing 2006 – she’s batting .281 (same as the .281 last year), getting on-base at a .352 clip (compared to .351), but her power has been almost nonexistent – Maung has slugged just .297, with a single double accounting for the extra total base above her hits count.  As such, she’s lost a good chunk of starts to super-utility player Quach, who herlf has been pushed out of the catcher spot by the emergent Marco Paz.  Maung’s trademark clutch hitting has been nowhere to be found as well – she’s hitting a terrible .133-.235-.133 with runners in scoring position.  She’ll need to pick up the pace soon, or might find herself relegated to a backup role permanently.

Salgu “Swissmath” Wissmath, Backup Utility Infielder: The rookie Wissmath hasn’t been faring well at the plate at all – she’s hit a miserable .194-.268-.333, despite a hot start (she went .333-.429-.556 in her first five games).  This is bads news for the Montis, who came into the season depending on a good chunk of production from the role, and now desperately need it with the struggles of SS Nghe and 3B Maung.

Ted Kwong, Leftfielder: Just 132 plate appearances into his young career, Kwong looks like a star already, winning batter of the month honors for April and raking his way at a .387-.485-.730 pace, with 10 homeruns, 26 RBIs, and getting on-base nearly half the time in front of a power combination of 1B Lew, C Paz, and RF Chen, scoring a league-leading 30 runs.  His 14.9 runs created per 27 outs is simply astronomical – it would exceed the 10.95 set in Norman Ho’s 2003 season by 36%.  Kwong has solidified his cleanup spot at the heart of Daly City’s batting lineup, and at the moment looks like the brightest star in the class of 2007 newcomers.

Skyler Reid, Centerfielder: At the beginning of the season, the three-way competition at centerfield looked to be fierce, and the candidates so far have done everything they can to ensure it be a highly competitive battle.  Given a slight edge (and the opening day start) on day one, Reid has flourished, hitting .357-.424-.486, while hitting all over the order from the #7 backend to the #2 tablesetting position. Establishing his consistency early on, Reid has won a plurality of starts at centerfield, with 13 games compared to 10 for Kuo and 5 for Ho.

Jessica Kuo, Centerfielder: The speedy and light-hitting Kuo didn’t get many opportunities at the start of the month (she had just 1 start through the first 10 games, but has hit just as well as anyone else (.386-.426-455)  in the fierce centerfield competition.

Tiffany Ho, Centerfielder: With two new hot competitors at her old position, Ho has found the plate appearances hard to come by – though her .386-426-.455 line is on par with the rest, she’s found space for just 5 starts at CF, with the rest of her games coming in spot relief at rightfield.  Given her versatility, she may find herself the odd-one-out at centerfield if the others continue to play well, and may have to apply her defensive skills at one of the infield positions if the incumbents and backups there continue to struggle.

Francis Chen, Rightfielder: After seasons upon seasons of futility, could this finally be the year for Francis Chen?  Chen is on pace for career-high numbers, with a .253-.383-.695 line, 11 HR’s and 31 RBI’s that rank among the top in the league.  He leads the team in homeruns and RBIs, and is second in slugging, although his swing for the fences style has also resulted in nearly a 25% strikeout rate.  As always with Chen, things could take a nosedive at any moment, but he’s off to his most promising start yet this season.

Jonathan Chee, Designated Hitter: It’s been an abysmal month for Chee, who just doesn’t seem to be able to put it together after he set career highs in 2005.  His numbers this month have fallen even further to .234-375-.281 – even more abysmal power numbers than usual, and with only a serviceable on-base percentage saving him.  With the designated hitter spot open to all hitters, and with such a logjam at the outfield and catcher positions, Chee may have a hard time finding playing time without returning to form in a hurry.

The Pitching Staff

Nathan Yan, #1 Starting Pitcher: Yan started off the season with a 2-hit, 15-K gem of a shutout, but hasn’t been able to find the magic consistently in starts since – he’s now 5-1 in 6 starts with a 1.26 ERA and a still-league-leading 15.7 K’s per 9, but those numbers include a terrible 3-run, 7-inning loss.  He’s also averaging just 8+1/3 innings per start, far off his career pace of 8.7 innings per start.  While still a historic, pitcher-of-the-year type season, Yan will need to step it up a notch to match his lights-out performances in past years.

Whitney Esguerra, #2 Starting Pitcher: The hard-luck rookie is now doing quite well for herself in her second year out – she’s dominating to the tune of a 4-0 record and 1.46 ERA in 5 starts, and hasn’t given up a single homerun yet after serving up 25 taters last year.  After getting beaten up to a 13-11 record due to poor run support and bullpen meltdowns last year, Esguerra is now enjoying a healthy record thanks to her league-high 9.7 run support per game.  The sky appears to be the limit for Esguerra – she’s second only to Yan in ERA, K’s, and OBP, and looks to be headed towards one of the best non-Yan pitching seasons not just in Daly City history, but league history as well.

Terrence Zhao, #3 Starting Pitcher: While last season just seemed like a string of bad luck, Zhao has continued to struggle into 2007, and his plunging peripherals seem like a cause for concern – he’s striking out just 7.6 batters per nine, after striking out 10.4 the previous season, and has given up 5 homers already after giving up 6 in both 2006 and 2005.

Samantha Chin, #4 Starting Pitcher: Everyone expected huge things from Chin in 2007, but they haven’t happened yet.  Though she did throw a 2-hit, 1-walk, 8-K gem in her second start, she’s been absolutely horrendous at other times, giving up 5 runs in 4+1/3 innings in her third start and 5 runs in 5 innings in her fifth start.  Despite this, Chin seems to characteristically inspire her fellow teammates – she’s among the tops in the league once again in run support per game (9.3 runs), and sits with a 3-0 record, receiving no decisions in both her shellings.  In order to take the next big step most expect from her, however, she’ll need to up her consistency and avoid the mistakes that have led to big innings.

Sean Wade, #5 Starting Pitcher: Aside from one bad, 4-run in 4+2/3 inning start, Wade seems to have found more consistency early in the season, achieving a 3.16 ERA and a 3-1 record in four starts.  However his peripherals haven’t looked overly promising so far – his WHIP is a somewhat high 1.25, and his strikeout, walk, and hit numbers are about the same as last year.  At this point Wade has simply evened out his brilliant and horrid performances for more consistency, and with a healthy 6.1 runs scored per game, it may be all he needs to consistently win games.

Alfred Vong, #6 Starting Pitcher: Vong has split duties between #6 spot starts and long relief in the bullpen, and unlike his great series of starts last season, hasn’t found himself particularly effective in either; he’s sporting a 4.15 ERA in relief and a 3.86 ERA in starts, for a 2-1 record and 3.90 overall ERA.

Kelley Cox, Long Reliever: Cox has been the lone star in the remade bullpen, but she’s been a brilliant one.  After getting drilled for 3 runs in 3 innings in her first appearance, Cox has locked down, throwing 17+2/3 innings at a 2.04 ERA clip, and logging a win, a save, and a loss in the process.  She doesn’t have overpowering stuff – just 5.1 K’s per 9, but is getting the job done, especially in the long relief situations when the bullpen need is greatest.

Bernadette Dugtong, Middle Reliever: Dugtong is still ironing out the rookie kinks, and has been spotty in relief so far, giving up runs in four of her eight appearances for a 5.40 overall ERA.  She’s been allowing a high 1.50 WHIP, and is failing to fool anyone with her curve – she’s gotten just 2.7 K’s per 9.  Fortunately, the starters have been pitching relatively deep, and Vong and Cox have been available to pick up the slack.  For the moment, however, Dugtong seems like she’ll be relegated to mopup relief until she’s fully major-league ready.

Alvina Chu, Setup Reliever: Chu’s 0-1 record, 6.00 ERA and 1.67 WHIP look terrible so far, but they don’t tell the whole story.  Chu appears to have been still working out the rust at the start of the month, giving up 7 runs (6 earned) on 10 hits in her first two appearances, but since then has bunkered down to her dominant self – she’s given up no runs and has allowed just four baserunners in the 5+1/3 innings she’s pitched since (for an 0.00 ERA and 0.75 WHIP).

Josiah Leong, Closer: It’s a hard life for a closer on a team as successful as the Montis – they’ve had blowout wins of four runs or more in all but four games (one of which was a complete shutout by Yan), and to his credit Leong has closed out all three save opportunities.  He’s pitched dominantly so far (1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 9 K’s per 9, no homeruns) so far, but he’ll need closer games to get more work in beyond the scant 6 innings and 4 appearances he’s made so far.

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The 2007 Season Preview – Daily Baseball Returns!

Team Review

Thursday, 2007 April 1 –  After a long and cold winter hiatus, baseball and the famed Daly City Montis return again.  After a record fourth consecutive championship and a league-leading record in 2006, things would appear to be going well for the young club.

But quietly, fear and uncertainty have started to permeate through the clubhouse during the early spring training months.  Despite their unrivaled success, the team has been on a decline ever since its inaugural season, dropping from ___ in 2003 to ____ in 2004 (125-37, .772) and finally to their 119-32 mark last season.  A number of contracts – most of the players who have been with the team for three or four years – also expired after the 2006 season, and the resulting contracts and arbitrated salaries have ballooned the payroll to an immense $51 million – this for a team that brought in just $5.8 million in ticket sales in all of 2006.

A number of key players over the past couple of years have also hit the farm: designated hitter Rudy Puzon, who has compiled a steady .315-.397-.533 line over the past two seasons and has led the team with 245.11 runs created; RF prodigy Jason Liu, who slugged his way onto the scene way back in 2004 (he put up a .323-.422-.702 line as a rookie!) but has somewhat fizzled since then; and the somewhat inconsistent RP Helen Yamamoto (who puts up a 7.36 career CERA).

But the April brings smells of fresh-cut grass, light showers, and new hope.  Despite the loss of key players and a history of decline, the Montis have restocked and reloaded in a way that hasn’t been seen since… well, the inaugural 2003 season.  The 2007 roster brings in 6 new players – 4 batters scouted and recruited from the Montis’ Daily Cal affiliate in the Berkeley Independent League, and 2 new pitcher draftees.  For the first time ever, there appears – on paper – to be a net increase in talent; could this be the year Daly City finally sees a season-over-season improvement on their record?

Tina “Experimental Error” Quach, Catcher: Quach enters in her second season as full-time catcher for the Montis – a role she didn’t particularly thrive in last season when she dipped to a .286-.363.-380 line and had a number of defensive miscues.  Quach has been performing decently in batting practice, however, and despite the rigors of being a full-time starter at the game’s toughest position for the first time last season, was able to maintain a decent OBP.  She’s currently projected to bat 2nd in the order, so it’ll be up to her to set the table for the power hitters in the 3-4 slots.

Marco Paz, Backup Catcher: Paz made a huge experience leap from AA ball to the majors last season. Most scouts didn’t believe he was ready to face major-league pitching yet – Paz had batted just .250-.317-.515 in AA, and an abysmal .167-.163-.310 in a short AAA stint during the 2005 season. But with the suddent departure of long-time catcher Sam Lau, the Montis were desperate and needed a catcher, fast.  The results were terrible – Paz racked up a .139-.160-.228 line in the worst individual season hitting performance on record, producing just 0.98 RC/27 outs.  The spring training reports from Paz haven’t been good either – he’s been flailing all over the place, and on top of this his vaunted power seems to have faded a little.  For now, the backup catcher job, and what few plate appearances that brings, is Paz’s by default, but his continued poor performance might mean a long summer behind the plate for Quach.

Derek Lew, First Baseman: Team captain Derek Lew will once again anchor the team.  He’s the Montis’ longest-tenured hitter (602 games over four seasons), and made his mark last season with a .304-.338-.593 line en-route to his (admittedly undeserving) Batter of the Year award.  Helped by his #4 slot hitting behind OBP machines like Puzon, Nghe, and Chee, Lew was a monster run-producer last year, putting up 162 RBIs (second most in team history).  This year he’s projected to bat 5th, behind new LF recruit Ted Kwong – whether Kwong adds more runners on base or simply sweeps the RBIs up for himself remains to be seen.

Cristian Ortiz, Second Baseman: The speedy Ortiz, who obliterated the stolen base record with 91 steals last season, will have his sights on the grand prize this year: at 151 career bags, he’s just 19 steals away from overtaking Aubrey Cubilo as the Montis all-time steals leader.  Ortiz also brings his enigmatic power to the plate – though he’s got all the speed in the world, he rarely ever pulls in the doubles (just 21 all last year, in 662 plate appearances) but somehow manages to hammer in the dingers at the most opportune times (22 HR in 2006, and 59 career HR total to 56 doubles).  Ortiz is projected to bat leadoff most games, once again forming a double-steal tandem with the classically slow Monti #2 hitters (Tina Quach this year).

Joanna Maung, Saung-gah-basewoman: Maung, Daly City’s pinch-hitter extraordinaire, is back for a second season trying to fill the enormous shoes of the legendary Joey Wong. Maung’s attempts fell flat her first year – while Maung was known for pulling through in the clutch (she indeed posted an outstanding .344-.432-.422 in close/late situations), she fell flat on a day-to-day basis, hitting just .281-.351-.379.  She’ll face some stiff competition from new rookie Salgu Wissmath this season – with Ortiz and Nghe set as 162-game warriors at the middle infield positions, 3B is perhaps the only open and contestable spot.  Maung is currently projected as the #9 hitter.

Henry Nghe, Shortstop: Following his outstanding rookie campaign in 2005, Nghe went through a bit of a sophomore slump, hitting a disappointing but decent .305-.386-.429.  Despite seemingly losing his power and contact ability (the latter of which may have been caused by his stratospheric .409 BABiP regressing to a more typical .343), Nghe made great strides in his on-base ability, drawing 55% more walks per plate appearance over last year.  It’s been a quiet spring for Nghe, who’s currently projected to hit at #3 despite the bottoming-out of his power levels.

Salgu “Swissmath” Wissmath, Utility Infielder: A new recruit from Berkeley Independent League (BIL), Wissmath is an agile native 2nd basewoman who will serve as the Montis’ utility infielder.  Wissmath was a star in the BIL, hitting .361-.440-.483 for the Daily Cal Office Team in 2006.  In addition to her stellar defense, Wissmath brings an average offensive skillset to the table – league-average on-base ability and power, but with the potential for plus contact ability (she’s currently rated as 74/100).  While Maung is still the incumbent at third, Wissmath looks to mount  a strong challenge for playing time, especially as a defensive replacement in late-game situations.

Ted Kwong, Leftfielder: Another of Daly City’s BIL recruits, Kwong is perhaps the highest-rated batting prospect the Montis have had since Norman Ho.  Though he hasn’t played a game in the majors yet, Kwong is already rated with the 4th highest power potential in the league, behind Microsoft’s Jabba Desilijic-Ture, Daly City’s own inconsistent Francis Chen, and the demigod Gates Skywalker.  Kwong brings perrenial Batter of the Year credentials to a team that really hasn’t seen that kind of production since third baseman Joey Wong retired after 2005.  Currently he’s projected to bat in the cleanup spot, bumping longtime power hitter Derek Lew to 5th, mostly on account of Kwong’s far superior on-base skills.

Skyler Reid, Platoon Centerfielder: Another BIL recruit, Reid, at just 19, is a seasoned baseball veteran who’s currently the frontrunner for the starting centerfielder job in what looks to be a three-way platoon at the position.  Reid brings decent, if inconsistent, power to a position that has clasically been devoid of any power whatsoever.

Tiffany Ho, Platoon Centerfielder: Daly City’s own Eckstein-type sparkplug, Ho returns from her first full year in the majors to face serious competition and some shaky job security at her starting centerfield roaming grounds.  With Wissmath backing up the infield positions, Ho may be hard-pressed to find at bats at other positions, though she should still see plenty of defensive replacement action as the team’s top overall fielding outfielder.

Jessica Kuo, Platoon Centerfielder: The feisty young walk-on recruit from BIL, Kuo is currently projected as the third centerfielder in Daly City’s outfield platoon. While Kuo’s batting skills are rated fairly low, she’s been a human highlight reel in tryouts and spring training so far – she’s got one of the fastest pair of wheels on the team, and bests even Ho in centerfield range, though her raw inexperience leaves her a bit more error prone and shaky on the basepaths.

Francis Chen, Rightfielder: If there’s one thing to be said about Chen, it’s that he’s consistent… ly inconsistent.  After a couple of seasons as a spot starter in rightfield, Chen finally got his chance to start in 2006.  He got just that – to the tune of 130 games and 539 plate appearances – allowing him to display his trademark flashes of prodiguous power (translating to career-high 31 homers).  Despite that, Chen’s rate stats weren’t encouraging – though his batting line increased over 2005 across the board, Chen saw severe declines in both walk rates and isolated power.  Perhaps with a full year of starts under his belt, 2007 will finally be the year.

Jonathan “The Cheet” Chee, Designated Hitter: With the departure of the rock-steady Puzon, the defense-challenged Chee takes over the designated hitter position.  Chee won’t rake in the extra base hits like Puzon did, but has served in the past couple of seasons as an isntrumental component of the Monti’s offensive machine, getting on-base and setting the plate to the tune of a .390 career OBP.

Nathan Yan, #1 Starting Pitcher: The most dominating pitcher in league history, Yan has gotten better and better every season and looks to follow up his most gaudy season to date: 30-1, 284 innings, 568 K’s, 0.79 ERA, 18.0 K/9, and a scale-breaking -0.01 DIPS ERA.  It’s hard to imagine the Daly City flamethrower soaring any higher, but then again the same was thought after Yan’s then mind-blowing 2005 season.

Whitney Esguerra, #2 Starting Pitcher: The runner-up rookie of the year Esguerra had all kinds of bad luck her freshman season, losing 11 games and winding up with a 13-11 record, despite putting up some of the best performances in the league (3.15 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 6 CG and 2 shutouts).  With Zhao’s mini-slump over the previous year, Esguerra moves up to the #2 slot, where she’ll have to rise up to the challenge of even stiffer opposition.  Hopefully, she’ll be facing it with something better than her team-low 4.3 run support/game last season.

Terrence Zhao, #3 Starting Pitcher: After an other-worldly 2005, Zhao experienced a regression of sorts in 2006, and after a somewhat rough spring relative to the upstart Esguerra, sees himself once again out-of-luck and stuck at the #3 slot, where he’s pitched at or lower throughout his career, despite easily being Daly City’s second most consistent starter throughout its history (he’s 2nd in career wins, innings, K’s, CG’s, shutouts, and QS).

Samantha Chin, #4 Starting Pitcher: Entering her third season, the catty Chin looks poised for a breakout season.  She’s been firing lightning bolts all spring, and improved by leaps and bounds last year over her rookie season, improving her consistency (quality start rate jumped to 82.76% over 53.85% the season before) and allowing hitters to make far less good contact (opponent batting averaged declined .234 to .209 and slugging from .402 to an absurdly low .339 – only Zhao and Yan did better among Daly City starting pitchers in 2006).  Projections are wildly optimistic for Chin, but first she’ll have to learn to manage her control issues – she walked far more batters in 2006, and as a result her opponent OBP remained static despite a drop in the hitting categories.

Sean Wade, #5 Starting Pitcher: After an extensive sophomore slump, Wade returns as a big question mark for 2007, finding struggled to find his trademark consistency through the past season as well as spring training.  Dropping down to the #5 slot, Wade stands at great risk for dropping down even further if he doesn’t perform well early on – all five other returning starters ended 2006 on a hot streak, and pitched markedly better than Wade.

Alfred Vong, #6 Starting Pitcher: After two seasons toiling away in long-relief/spot-starter purgatory, Vong finally moves into the #6 starter spot with the retirement of longtime spot starter Miguel Pardo.  Vong certainly proved himself capable of taking the starting reins in 2006, when he delivered a 3-0, 2.70 ERA and 0.72 WHIP performance in four substitute starts for the injured Pardo.

Kelley Cox, Long/Middle Reliever: A newcomer from the Berkeley Independent League, Cox slots into Vong’s old long relief role, and will likely see a large amount of work in day-to-day relief as well, in Daly City’s minimized bullpen (Cox will be just one of four bullpen pitchers).  Cox is more developed than most recruits, possessing a wide variety of breaking ptiches, throwing a curveball, sinker, slider, and a surprisingly effective screwball.

Bernadette Dugtong, Middle Reliever: Another newcomer to the remade bullpen, Dugtong is a movement pitcher in a similar mold to Cox.  Dugtong has a huge upside, with one of the best curveballs in the league for a player her age and precision control, but her skills are still in the developmental stage.  With Cox’s longer durability fitting her into the long relief role, the rookie Dugtong will be thrown into the fire right away as the primary middle reliever.

Alvina Chu, Setup Reliever: Chu resumes her setup role, as the most experienced member of the bullpen. Though she was shaky last season, she did end up blowing only one save, and that veteran consistency will be needed to shore up the largely green relief corps.

Josiah Leong, Closer: No one delivers a roller coaster ride as well as Leong, who’s overpowering stuff and horrid lack of control means you’re as likely to see a 3-K perfect inning save as you are a 4-walk blown save.  Nonetheless, with few relievers to choose from, the team has chosen the wild brilliance of Leong over the consistency of Chu, which should make for many interesting 9th inning leads this season.

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The 2006 Season Review

Team Review

Another year, another championship, and another year of impending doom for the Daly City Montis. The championship this year, as in the past, was handily won, in a clean 4-0 sweep of the Pentax Shake Reducers. Daly City had another sweep of the postseason awards, with Yan winning his fourth-straight Pitcher of the Year, and Derek Lew winning his first Batter of the Year, and rookie Whitney Esguerra narrowly missing by placing 2nd in the Rookie of the Year balloting.

But amid another year of success, the 2007 season dawns upon fair Verona Daly City, and the shadows of free agency loom. When the original roster signed in 2003, all of the contracts were for four years, at $1 a year – through the 2006 season. Now the remaining 8 of those 4-year players – Terrence Zhao, Nathan Yan, Josiah Leong, Derek Lew, Cristian Ortiz, Jonathan Chee, Angel Poon, and Joanna Maung – are bound for free agency, unless the team can resign them. On the free market, however, each of those players could command 7-figure, if not 8-figure, multi-year salaries. Despite the team’s prodigious growth, their stadium situation, the 5,000 seat Panorama Park, has hindered them since their inception, and their net profit from 2006 was a mere $4.3 million, and their cash reserves leftover from 2006 were a mere $340,000. On top of this, each of the other players currently on roster enter into their arbitration years, and could also figure to command exorbitant sums, most notably stars Samantha Chin, Whitney Esguerra, Henry Nghe, and Rudy Puzon. The outcome doesn’t seem to have a clear resolution now, but it appears that if Daly City wants to retain their players, their era of small-town baseball may be over.

But 2007 is 2007. Without further ado, the 2006 recap:

Tina “Experimental Error” Quach, Catcher: Finally emerging from under the shadows of long-time catcher Sam Lau, Quach got her first chance at a starting role this season. Having done incredibly well the past two seasons in a part-time role (accumulating about a half-season’s worth of plate appearances in 2003 and 2004), Quach projected as a light-hitting, good OBP catcher, with decent defense behind the plate but a poor arm overall. Quach pretty much lived up to just that, going .286-.363-.380, which was off from her half-season numbers, but still fit into her player profile and was above-average on the Daly City team. Behind the plate, Tina’s runners thrown out percentage was a mere 30.8%, a far cry from the 50% numbers Lau used to achieve annually, but still good enough to rank 7th out of 16 teams. Overall, about what was to be expected from Quach, if not a little disappointing on the development of hitting. Perhaps with another year adapted to the rigors of a full season, Quach will pick up with the .300-.380-430 numbers she showed in a part-time role.

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
149 553 158 27 2 7 66 84 41 67 4 12 0 210 79.8 5.16 .286 .363 .380 .743

Marco Paz, Backup Catcher: Paz secured his place in history with undoubtedly the worst season by a Daly City hitter, ever. Rushed to the majors as a backup catcher after Lau’s retirement to AA, Paz, who put up a decent .250-.317-.515 in AA, and only .167-.163-.310 in AAA, never quite got the ball rolling, hitting .139-.160-.228 in 106 plate appearances, for a cumulative .388 OPS and 0.98 RC/27, by far the lowest in the league of any player with as many plate appearances as Paz did. Nonetheless, Paz was excellent behind the plate, committing no errors in 173 defensive innings and throwing out 4 of 7 would-be baserunners, and showed some signs of life once he got to the postseason, hitting .316-.350-.474.

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
28 101 14 3 0 2 17 9 20 3 0 0 0 23 3.3 0.98 .139 .160 .228 .388

Derek Lew, First Baseman: Talk about a comeback season for D.L. Lew. After a poor 2006 campaign marred by injury, Lew came back bashing in 2006, returning to his career average AVG and OBP numbers, and setting a new career record for SLG. No one on the team was more consistent than Lew, either, as he hit an .850 OPS every month except September, and ravaged pitchers with the best run production in the league, driving in 164 RBIs (a career high, and league lead), on the strength of a career-high 77 doubles (league record), career-high 16 triples, and 408 total bases (UL lead). Lew even won the Batter of the Month award for his monstrous August performance, where he hit .398-.419-.771 with 9 HR and a staggering 39 RBIs. To top off this year’s comeback story, Lew won (highly contentiously) the 2006 Batter of the Year award, maintaining Daly City’s 4-year stranglehold on the trophy.

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
162 688 209 77 16 30 164 116 11 34 7 13 3 408 130 6.72 .304 .338 .593 .931

Rudy Puzon, Designated Hitter: Although Lew may have the defense and the flashier 2B, HR, and RBI numbers, when it comes down to it pure production, no one, not even Lew, helped drive in more runs than Puzon did. He was 1st in AVG and OBP, and 3rdin SLG, and led the team with a .950 OPS and 8.72 RC/27. Far from a sophomore slump, Puzon improved in just about every single hitting category, and this year formed part of Daly City’s 3-4-5 core, batting in the 3rd position and scoring 129 runs (6th in the league). After only two years in the league, Puzon has solidified himself as one of the game’s best, and perhaps the best run-producer in the Daly City lineup.

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
159 642 210 40 10 26 128 129 97 87 5 16 3 348 147.2 8.72 .327 .408 .542 .950

Cristan Ortiz, Second Baseman: It was a whirlwind year for Ortiz, coming off of his first full-time breakin to the majors, and trying to live up to a .284-.342-.460 season in which he hit 23 homers and stole 58 bases, exceeding what his talent ratings indicated. Ortiz quietly put up a .279-.349-.435 line in 2006 – slightly worse AVG, slightly better OBP, and a prodigious power dropoff. However, Ortiz became one of only three players on the team, and a select few elite in the league, to drive in 100 RBIs and score 100 Runs, with 104 RBIs and 128 Runs on the season. The story of the year, however, was Ortiz’s season-long race against Apple’s Ben Kenobi in an attempt for the Stolen Base title, and eventually, Aubrey Cubilo’s year-old SB record of 77. Ortiz trailed Kenobi for much of the season, and at the end of August had accumulated 53 steals – on pace for a career-high and possibly even the record, but still lagging behind Ben Kenobi’s 59 at the time. From then on, however, Ortiz put on the afterburners, and helped along with a .356 OBP in August and .377 OBP in September, swiped 38 more bags (19 in each month), leaving Ben Kenobi’s 13 combined steals in the dust. Ortiz finished with 91 steals to Kenobi’s 72, obliterating Cubilo’s record and setting a mark that no one but himself stands to approach anytime soon.

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
162 662 185 21 8 22 104 128 90 65 8 91 14 288 110.5 5.83 .279 .349 .435 .784

Henry “Mr.” Nghe, Shorstop: Where’s the magic gone for last year’s rookie of the year? Hitting from the #5 spot – the cleaning up the cleanup spot – Nghe had a phenomenal year behind the plate – yet missed all expectations. While nobody expected him to go .362-.408-.545 like he did his rookie year, and many skeptic figured he’d do much worse, Nghe put up a very respectable .305 AVG and .386 OBP… yet fell flat with a .429 SLG. Nghe played great throughout most of the season, consistently hitting for a good average and getting on base, yet never managed to find the pop he had in 2005 – aside from very good months at the beginning (.336-.430-.536 in April) and the end (.375-.449-.558 in September), Nghe hovered in the .280-.360-.370 range all season.Nonetheless, Nghe was good on the field and on the basepaths, going 34 for 41, 83%, against last year’s 19 for 28, 68%, and the flashes of his rookie brilliance he showed in April and September.

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
162 632 193 43 4 9 94 95 91 78 7 34 7 271 110.6 6.40 .305 .386 .429 .814

Joanna Maung, Saung-gah-basewoman: After 3 years in the shadow of Joey Wong, Maung finally got her chance starting a full season at 3B. Long a pinch hitter and bit-role player (averaging 160 AB’s per year), Maung was perhaps the least experienced of the four year players. How did she do? Well, the worst that could have been expected – a .281-.351-.379 line that was far below her career numbers, and a scarily declining rate of walks and increase in strikeouts. Given the transition into full-time starter, most of this was to be expected, and Maung can only look to improve upon her numbers in 2007.

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
147 544 153 21 1 10 65 85 85 55 5 8 0 206 75.4 5.04 .281 .351 .379 .730

Jonathan “The Cheet” Chee, Leftfielder: After one heck of a comeback campaign in 2005, it was perhaps Chee’s turn to fall flat once again. Jonathan played extremely well in the first half, especially with a huge .347-.436-.545 month in May, but began showing a rapid decline in skills – his 1st half/2nd half splits were .318-.416-.449/.204-.360-.282. Nonetheless, Chee still led the league in hit-by-pitches – 46 to Jabba Desilijic-Ture’s 30 and Francis Chen’s 26, and demonstrated an improved batting eye – his OBP-AVG (OBP minus AVG) difference was .099 in the first half, and a staggering .156 in the second half. Chee performed well in the playoffs, with a .327-.469-.490 line, and maintained his ~1.4 SLG/AVG ratio in the second half, so it seems only a matter of making good contact with the ball again. Whether Chee can still catch up to major league pitching, however, is a big question indeed heading into 2007.

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
140 551 146 16 2 13 73 104 81 66 46 19 0 205 90.4 5.84 .265 .386 .372 .758

Tiffany Ho, Centerfielder: From bit-role player to full-fledged starter, perhaps no one made a big a leap as Tiffany Ho did this year, diving head-first into the most demanding defensive position in baseball – centerfield. After a fairly ordinary rookie season, most weren’t expecting much from the light-hitting native rightfielder. Nonetheless, Ho made improvements at the plate, going .290-.323-.382, along with solid, though not gold glove caliber defense. Tiffany, however, became a whole new player in the postseason, becoming one of the unlikely spark plugs of the Daly City engine by going .431-.477-.569 in the postseason, leading the team in both AVG and OBP. Ho’s base-running was quite a concern this year, though, as she set a career high of 22 steals… in 37 attempts (that’s a 59.5% success rate).

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
145 587 170 27 12 1 66 81 79 27 4 22 15 224 75.1 4.45 .290 .323 .382 .705

Francis Chen, Rightfielder: Another year of the Francis Chen experiment, and another round of… well, it’s hard to tell these days. Chen got the chance to play nearly the whole season this year, starting 128 games and accumulating 546 plate appearances. He went .212-.336-.480, setting a career high for OBP, and improved upon his AVG and SLG from the previous year, yet still remained highly unsatisfactory, with only average OBP and SLG numbers to go with his typically abysmal AVG. Yet as always, Chen showed glimmers of hope, with a few months of good OBP and SLG (his September .256-.369-.610 is a particular standout) – just not quite consistently good enough and not improving fast enough for fans and management. Chen did improve on his base-stealing, however, swiping 26 bags in 30 attempts – good for #3 on the team and extraordinary considering Chen’s low OBP.

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
130 452 96 20 4 31 87 86 120 61 26 26 4 217 79.2 5.66 .212 .336 .480 .816

Jason Liu, Rightfielder: Once with a future so bright, hard days have fallen on Jason Liu. Poised to finally inherit the RF starting position, the spot once again returned to the fan-favorite Francis Chen, leaving the powerful Liu, a career .311-.390-.643 in two seasons, on the bench. Perhaps the lack of opportunities got to him this year, as Liu declined once again, and was hampered by a very slow first four months when he couldn’t seem to find a groove anywhere – his April numbers of .171-.189-.429 in 35 at bats set the tone for the rest of the year. Liu showed signs of returning to life at the end of the year however, when he batted .314-.386-.665 in August-September

G AB H 2B 3B HR RBI R K BB HBP SB CS TB RC RC/27 AVG OBP SLG OPS
86 311 81 18 2 22 59 49 77 24 6 6 0 169 52.8 5.94 .260 .325 .543 .868


Nathan Yan, #1 Starter:
It was a career season upon career seasons for Yan, who came in knowing he would dominate once again in 2006, and still blew away everyone’s expectations. His WHIP remained roughly the same at 0.47, but his ERA plummeted to 0.79, his ERC down to 0.06, and most amazingly, his Ks per 9 innings skyrocketed to a blistering 18 K’s per 9 inning. While Yan jokingly referred to going after the 500-K mark, no one imagined he could actually approach it, until he started piling up the strikeouts with monstrous games, including four 19-K games, five 20-K games, four 21-K games. His season was highlighted by two consecutive starts in June-July, where he threw a 21-K no-hitter, and followed it up the next start with an 11-inning, 1-hit, 25-K shutout. He topped 100 K’s in May, July, and September, and ended the season with a staggering 568 strikeouts, obliterating the league record of 469 he set last year. What’s next on the list for Yan – 700? The sports writers will be careful what they predict next year – the limits of Yan’s ability these days is virtually limitless.

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
32 32 30-1 31\26\12 0 0 0 284 568 18.0 0.47 0.79 0.06 7.3

Whitney Esguerra, #2 Starter: It was a rough-and-tumble year for the rookie starter, who jumped in the #2 role after an insane 2005 at AAA – there she racked up a staggering 27-0 record in 29 starts, with a 2.01 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, and 341 K’s in 246 innings (that’s 12.5 K/9!). Everyone expected big things, and Esguerra didn’t disappoint – she threw 214 innings in 30 starts, with a 3.15 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, and was second in the league (by a wide margin) with a 10.8 K’s per 9 innings, resulting in 256 strikeouts – 2nd on the team and #5 in the league. Esguerra was plagued, however, by an inability to finish out long games (due mostly to her rather low 72 endurance) and bad luck with offensive support – Daly City scored only 4.3 runs per game for her, abysmally below the team’s average (6.0 runs per game) and ranking 9th-worst in the league – and embarrassing number for baseball’s #1 offense. The result was a team-worst 13 wins and team-worst 11 losses, the latter actually setting a team record for most losses in a season. With hopefully another year of experience, and some endurance training, Esguerra can evolve into a full-fledged ace, though she’s already one of the game’s best (5th best ERA, 8th best CERA, 7th best WHIP).

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
30 30 13-11 23\6\2 0 0 0 214 256 10.8 1.12 3.15 3.01 4.3

Terrence Zhao, #3 Starter: After the stunning evolution of Zhao in 2005 (1.74 ERA, 1.74 CERA, 1.01 WHIP, 9.3 K/9), Zhao regressed a bit in 2006, putting up a 14-7 record (far off from last year’s 23-4) and only a 3.03 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 205 innings in 30 starts. Zhao did improve on K’s per 9 innnings, however, with a 10.4 mark that ranked 3rd in the league, and he was 2nd on the team in complete games with 9. Zhao started off slow, with a combined 2-4, 3.92 ERA, 1.32 WHIP April-May, but ended strongly and had a good playoff run before getting knocked out with a pulled bicep tendon in Round 2.

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
30 30 14-7 21\9\2 0 0 0 205 236 10.4 1.16 3.03 2.40 5.9

Samantha Chin, #4 Starter: Daly City could have yet another new ace on its hands. Showing some flair for the daring, a lot of luck, and inconsistency in her rookie season, Chin showed all signs that she was beginning to put things together in her sophomore year. In a Zhao-esque like development, Chin jumped from a 13-1, 4.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.23 CERA to a 19-4, 3.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 2.61 CERA season, and improving her 14/26, 53.8% Quality Start rate to a #2 on the team and #3 in the league 24/29, 82.8% rate. The way she improved this 2nd year, 2007 could be a season of even bigger things to come.

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
30 29 19-4 24\2\2 0 0 0 202 2/3 199 8.8 1.07 3.20 2.61 5.9

Sean Wade, #5 Starter: From glory boy to washed-up prodigy, things fell apart for the sophomore starter, who experienced a slump for the ages in 2006. After nearly winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2005, Sean fell way back from his 2005 numbers, putting up a 13-8 record, 4.09 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 3.63 CERA, and for the rookie named Mr. Consistency, a horrendous 54.2% quality start rate. Nobody’s quite sure what’s happened to Wade, who was on and off all season, pitching 3 shutouts to rank #2 on the team, yet throwing SEVEN games in which he gave up 6 runs or more, a truly horrendous number. Have opposing hitters finally figured out Wade’s impossible knuckleball, or has the boy wonder still got a few more tricks up his sleeve? Wade did put up another spectacular postseason run, with 2 wins in 3 games, and a 1.82 ERA and 0.65 WHIP, so there’s hope yet for a 2007 comeback.

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
24 24 13-8 13\4\3 0 0 0 156 1/3 114 6.6 1.16 4.09 3.63 7.2

Miguel Pardo, #6 Starter: Poor Pardo, forever at the whim of luck. It was another fast start year for Pardo, who began 3-2 with a 3.07 ERA in 44 innings over 6 starts. From there, however, things went downhill for Pardo, and never looked up again – he put up decent 4-ERA months in June and July, but by August Pardo was in full free-fall with an 11.32 ERA in 3 starts, before he was (perhaps mercifully) knocked out for the season after tearing his rotator cuff muscle, also knocking him out for the playoffs.After a 2005 season of such progress and high hopes, 2006 was a disaster for Pardo, who will known enter into an uncertain offseason filled with surgery and the prospect of free agency.

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
13 13 6-3 8\2\1 0 0 0 79 2/3 54 6.1 1.36 4.63 4.44 6.5

Alfred Vong, #6 Starter: It was a mixed season of sorts for Vong, who was expected to make significant strides in his second season. Instead, Vong performed abysmally out of the gate – at the end of July, his ERA was a gaudy 5.66 and his WHIP 1.38! With Pardo’s injury, however, Vong got his chance to start again in the #6 role, and from there on out he performed brilliantly. In four starts he was 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA and 0.72 WHIP, lasting at least 7 innings in each start and throwing 2 complete games. Despite 2/3 of a season spent figuring things out, with Vong’s recent development Daly City will be hard-pressed to keep him out of the rotation for much longer.

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
20 4 4-1 3\2\0 1 2 0 93 2/3 75 7.2 1.09 4.32 3.36 11.0

Helen Yamamoto, Mopup Reliever: In 2005, Yamamoto set records as the worst pitcher in the history of Daly City baseball. Her 9.35 ERA, 2.54 WHIP, 12.05 CERA, all set records, besting former mopup reliever Katie Clayton. In 2006 Yamamoto was better, but still not quite good enough – she improved her numbers to 6.00 ERA, 1.96 WHIP, and 7.14 CERA, once again worst on the team. Yamamoto did show signs of improvement during the season, however – through the month of June she had put together a spectacular stretch which chiseled her ERA down just under the 3.00 mark. From there, Yamamoto suffered perhaps one of the worst meltdowns in history, putting up ERA marks of 7.36, 11.57, and 11.25 in the following months, before a 1-appearance, 13.51 ERA, 6.00 WHIP performance in the playoffs.

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
18 0 0-0 0\0\0 1 0 0 24 16 6.0 1.96 6.00 7.14 0


Zubeda Khan, Middle Reliever:
In a bad year for the bullpen, the downgraded former closer didn’t fare too well, leading off with a horrendous 6.43 ERA, 1.43 WHIP April and ending the season on a sour 6.48 ERA, 1.56 WHIP note. In between, Khan put together one of the best 4-month stretches of any reliever, with a 2.73 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. Despite a fairly inflated 4.00 ERA, Khan led the bullpen in WHIP with a 1.04 mark and CERA at 2.69.

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
30 0 6-2 0\0\0 3 3 5 45 35 7.0 1.04 4.00 2.69 0


Angel Poon, Middle Reliever:
For Daly City’s veteran reliever, things seem to have stagnated over the past two years. Once looking up with a 2.88 ERA season in 2004, Poon has faced declining appearances, innings, and ERA numbers ever since. This season she threw only 44 innings, the lowest out of Daly City’s five primary relievers, and was bogged down all season by a slow start in the first two months of the season, where she accumulated a 6.61 ERA. Things fared better for Poon in the middle of the season, where in the 3-month summer stretch from May-August, she put up a 2.00 ERA and 0.72 WHIP. Perhaps she’s still got more left in the tank, but as Daly City’s longest tenured reliever, the first to break the 200-inning career relief innings mark (which she reached this season), the 18-year old reliever may be past her prime and on the decline already.

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
24 0 0-0 0\0\0 0 0 0 44 29 5.9 1.11 4.09 3.72 0


Alvina Chu, Setup Reliever:
Though she was the best of any reliever, Chu disappointed this year when she set career lows for ERA (3.63) and WHIP (1.23), and maintaining one of the worst inherited runners scored records on the team, allowing 8 out of 22 (36.4%) to score this season. Nonetheless, Chu seemed to improve in several key areas, notably reducing her blown saves drastically from 7 out of 19 to just 1 out of 9. Once again, Chu also led the league in reliever wins, setting her own career mark with a 10-2 record.

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
35 0 10-2 0\0\0 1 1 8 52 47 8.1 1.23 3.63 3.35 0

Josiah Leong, Closer: 2006 was a year of big changes and great anticipation for Leong. The inconsistent starter-turned-closer-turned-starter, after a tumultuous 2005 season wracked with nail-biting starts, took to the bullpen once again, where he pitched in an even more nail-biting 2004 season as the team’s closer. Two seasons ago, Leong put up a 3.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP in 58 1/3 innings while saving 40 games, and the Montis hoped that another two years of experience and maturity would help him gain more consistency, or at least improve upon the mediocre 5 blown saves rookie Zubeda Khan had in 2005. Still, since the inception of the team in 2003, Leong had been hands-down the most inconsistent pitcher on the staff, and mixing that in with high-stakes save situations was treading a fine line between brilliance or disaster. The result was just that – a mix of brilliance and disaster, and perhaps the most mercurial performance by any pitcher, anywhere, to date. A workhorse of the staff, Leong threw 71 innings, by far the most of any reliever this year, and second to Sarah Jimenez’s 90 innings in 2003. Leong even managed career bests in ERA (3.68), WHIP (1.14), and CERA (3.04), not to mention K/9 (12.8). Leong started the year leerily, with a near-disastrous first four appearances in which he earned 1 save, blew three, and won 2 and lost 1 of the games he blew. His ERA was at 8.10, his WHIP at 1.95, and things were looking to go downhill, fast. From there, Leong somehow caught fire, going on an incredible April-July stretch run spanning 35 1/3 innings in which he put together an 0.51 ERA

G Start W-L QS\CG\SHO Saves B. Saves Holds IP K’s K’s/9 WHIP ERA CERA RS/G
52 0 4-4 0\0\0 38 9 0 71 101 12.8 1.14 3.68 3.04 0

And the team awards for the 2006 season…

Team Defensive Player of the Year: Derek Lew
In a bounce-back year from an injury-plagued 2005, first baseman Derek Lew brought nothing short of amazing consistency to first base. Starting all 162 games, Lew led the league in starts and defensive innings. However, it was Lew’s stellar consistency that earned him the award – over 1467 2/3 innings and 1504 total chances, Lew made only 4 errors for a league-leading .997 fielding percentage.

Rookie of the Year: Whitney Esguerra
There weren’t many rookies on the team this year, but rookie #2 starter Whitney Esguerra would be a clear lock in any season. The rookie finished in 2nd place for Rookie of the Year voting, but despite being just 17 years old, ate up innings to the tune of 214 innings over 30 starts. A string of bad luck resulted in a meager 13-11 record that masks a team-worst 4.3 run support per game. Over those 30 starts she threw 6 complete games and 2 shutouts with 23 quality starts, while losing complete game 0-1 decisions twice. With a 3.15 ERA, 3.01 CERA, 1.12 WHIP, and an astounding 10.8 K’s per 9 innings, Esguerra might have the brightest future of any starter to join the team since the inaugural season in 2003.

Comeback Player of the Year: Derek Lew
After a disastrous season in 2005, Lew came back roaring in 2006, reassuming his role as the team’s #1 power hitter. Lew set new career highs in slugging percentage (.593), OPS (.931), stolen bases (13), RBI’s (164), and triples (16), in addition to setting a new league record with 77 doubles in only 688 at bats (that’s a double every 8.94 at bats, shattering his previous best of 10.19).

Breakout Player of the Year: Samantha Chin
Coming off a promising rookie season and strong finish in 2005, big things were expected from Chin, and boy did she deliver – over 29 starts Chin pitched 202 2/3 innings and won 19 games while throwing 199 strikeouts. She averaged a 3.20 ERA (6th), 1.07 WHIP (3rd), and 2.61 CERA (5th) over the season, earning her 5th place Pitcher of the Year voting. Her performance strongly paralleled Terrence Zhao’s 2004 campaign – an average 4 ERA season before breaking out with a ~3 ERA campaign. If that’s the case, opponents in the Galactica Division – and Daly City depth chart – should watch out: Zhao’s very next season was his jaw-dropping 23-4, 245 K, 1.74 ERA runner up Pitcher of the Year season, and Chin has all the same tools to follow in his footsteps.

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Season-so-far: September 1st, 2006

Team Review

It’s Wednesday, September 9th, 2006, and with only 27 games to go, the league is coming down to the wire as usual.  Except for the Galactica Division, no division leader leads by more than 4 games, and the wildcard slots are tight in all four divisions.

Compared to their 29-game lead at the conclusion of the 2005 season, the Daly City Montis are hanging onto a history-worst, yet still-sizable 16-game lead going into September.  With a 12-game magic number, another division title for Daly City seems secure, and all eyes turn towards individual recording-breaking opportunities and preparation for the playoffs.

In the two months since the All-Star break, Daly City has gone 38-16, .704, off of some absolutely dominating star performances.  They’ve been even more dominant in pitching, and are now solidly back at the top in terms of batting, leading by a large margin in OBP and total runs.

But before we get there, let’s have a quick look at the rest of the league:

Things were lopsided in 2005 in the Universe League, when Daly City and Apple placed 1-2 in the division, and the Microsoft Longhorns, 94-68 and a full 17 games ahead of sub-.500 Terran division winner Europe, failed to make the playoffs.  This year, the Universe League and especially the Galactica Division seem more stacked than ever – while Daly City still leads the pack, Microsoft and Apple follow up 2-3 not only in the division, but in all of baseball.  The fourth best team in baseball, the Canon Image Stabilizers, are four games behind Apple, and within the Universe League, even the last-place Mozilla Firefoxes, 66-71, .474 and 33 games out of first place, lead Terran division leader Asia by 6 games!  Sadly, with the current playoff structure, Daly City and one of Microsoft or Apple look to head into the playoffs against two sub-.500 teams from the Terran Division.

The headlines in the Universe League have been dominated once again by the epic Microsoft-Apple struggle.  The most dramatic change for both teams has been a huge beef-up in hitting – Apple, who went .262-.312-.435 in 2005, are now .286-.341-.465, riding almost purely on the shoulders of their two superstars, SS Ben Kenobi and RF Chewie Gonzales.  Microsoft, meanwhile, has developed into an offensive juggernaut, from .262-.330-.444 to .274-.337-.488, on the strength of a slew of power hitters – SIX out of their nine starters are slugging over .500.  On the pitching front, their aces have been dueling it out all season long, with Apple’s Kyle Katarn 18-8, with a 2.31 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 240 K’s in 249 1/3 innings (8.7 K’s/9) and Microsoft’s Kernel Tyranus at 21-5, with a 2.03 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 189 K’s in 217 2/3 innings (7.8 K’s/9).  So far in the season, Microsoft is leading by two games, and Tyranus is 2-0 in 2 starts against Apple, with a 1.13 ERA and 0.75 WHIP, while Katarn is 1-2 in 3 starts against the M-Dollar, with a 3.38 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.

Over in the Shinto-World League, the league is dominated by a smattering of mediocrity, save for Canon’s Gates Skywalker’s single-handed march to the record books.  At the young age of 24, Skywalker appears headed straight for his second straight Batter of the Year Award, hitting .354-.442-.907 with already 67 HR through only 5 months, putting on pace for 80.  If Skywalker continues his amazing August run, however, in which he hit 23 homers, he may very well challenge Kenton McClinton’s 66-year old HR record of 88.  With 157 RBIs already, he may be on his way towards the RBI record as well.

But despite Skywalker’s individual achievement, his Canon Image Stabilizers are only 75-60, .556, hanging onto a tenuous 4 game lead over the Nikon Vibration Reducers.

Tina “Experimental Error” Quach, Catcher: The Daly City catcher hit a bit of a cold streak after the end of the all-star break, going .238-.313-.298 in July, but like the rest of the lineup, heated up n August, where she posted a .307-.402-.426 line.  Quach has seen a noticeable uptick in walks – she’s drawn 25 in July and August, compared to only 24 in April-June combined.

Marco Paz, Backup Catcher: Things haven’t gone well this rookie season for Paz.  After posting some of the worst numbers in the league, Paz hasn’t seen much of any opportunity, seeing a total of only 31 plate appearances since June, in which he’s gone .138-.194-.172.  Among players with 100 plate appearances, Paz is by far the last in the league in almost every single hitting category.  On the bright side, Paz’s fielding has been flawless – he’s the proud owner of a perfect fielding percentage, and has thrown out 3 of 6 baserunners.

Derek Lew, 1st Baseman: What a comeback season it’s been for Derek Lew!  While Lew was consistently good throughout the first half of the season, he has simply exploded in the second half – he posted a .312-.342-.615 line in July, and he followed that up with an even bigger .398-.419-.771 August in which he drove in a staggering 39 RBIs and scored 25 runs.  He’s now leading the league by a large margin with 143 RBIs, and with a line of .318-.350-.609, is poised to set career highs in all the batting categories, not to mention shatter his career high of 160 RBIs he set in his rookie year and the league-record 74 doubles he hit in 2004 – all this in likely 100 less at bats than he had in 2003-2004.  He’s 7th in the UL in batting average, 3rd in hits, 1st in doubles, 3rd in triples, 1st in RBI, 2nd in SLG, and looks to be in strong contention for the Batter of the Year award, especially if he can keep up his August hot streak through September.

Rudy Puzon, Designated Hitter: As big of a season as it’s been for Lew, Daly City’s designated hitter Puzon, batting in the third slot ahead of Lew, has been every bit as critical to the team’s success.  Like Lew, Puzon seems to have turned on the burners since the All-Star Break, since which he’s posted consecutive .400+ OBP months (.453 in July and .427 in August), which has been key to Lew’s prodigious RBI totals.  Puzon has built on his rookie success, and has been an OBP machine all year – he currently leads the team with a .407 OBP (4th in the league), and is 4th in the league in Runs Created as well, and his 108 runs are 2nd in the league.

Cristian Ortiz, Second Base: While it’s been up and down for Ortiz, the one thing he can say is that he’s never been abysmally bad.  He appeared to be in a prolonged July slump but still pulled out a .250-.317-.407 month out of it, and rebounded back with a .293-.356-.455 August.  Throughout all this, he’s been as quick as ever on the basepaths, stealing 11 more bases in July and 19 in more in August, when he finally eclipsed Ben Kenobi for the lead league in steals.  For the season, he’s just reached 72 steals, and looks just about ready to break Aubrey Cubilo’s freshly-set steals record of 77.

Joanna Maung, Saung-gah-basewoman:  Despite everyone else’s breakout second-half performances, Maung has been a sore lack of production so far, barely even reaching  the .300 OBP plateau.  Her power has seen a noticeable increase of late – her total bases per hit has gone up to 1.45, compared to 1.23 in the second half.  If she can get her batting average back up, which might be tough considering the number of strikeouts she’s accumulating.

Henry “Mr.” Nghe, Shortstop: The story’s stayed the same for Nghe, who’s been combining solid hitting all year long with a complete and utter power outage.  So far in the second half, Nghe’s added another weapon to his arsenal – walking power, drawing 10 in July and 19 in August, to post OBP’s of .360 and .380.  He’s also increased his speed prodigiously, swiping 7 bags in July and 9 stolen bases in August, to put him at 30 steals for the year.  Despite all this improvement, Nghe still can’t seem to hit the ball much further than the infield – he’s slugged .363 and .383 the past two months, and still isn’t showing any signs of improvement.

Jonathan “The Cheet” Chee, Leftfielder: After a solid first half of 2006, Chee hasn’t been anywhere close to the mark since the All-Star break.  While he’s maintained a high OBP through walks and hit-by-pitches (including a combined 29 walks and HBP in August), he’s his .239 and .198 in July and August, and slugged only .337 and .271 in those months.  Nonetheless, Chee’s consistent OBP has still kept him in the #2 slot, where he’s managed to score 93 runs so far in front of sluggers Puzon and Lew, and is on pace to record his first-ever 100 run season.

Tiffany Ho, Centerfielder: The young spunky outfielder continues to provide life to this team, as Ho continued her success through the second half.  She had a monstrous .340-.384-.437 July, in which she also stole 13 bases, and she’s also been steadily increasing her walks every month.  For the year so far she’s .294-.332-.382, demonstrating dramatic improvements across the board, along with some star contact ability and stellar defense.

Francis Chen, Rightfielder: Where has the long road known as the 2006 season led for Francis Chen?  While he appeared to be off to a blistering start, Chen fell long and hard in June, and only continued that through July, with a .182-.289-.364 line, playing only 18 games.  Things got slightly better in August, where Chen went .177-.311-.435, but Francis is still far off from his April-May marks in which he appeared to show his true potential.  With just a month to go, and with a batting average barely above the Mendoza line (it sits at .203) it looks sadly like another wasted season for Chen.

Jason Liu, Rightfielder: Speaking of wasted seasons, Jason Liu and his enormous power potential has sat on the bench for much of the season, being placated by the more popular Chen.  As a result, Liu’s performance seemed to suffer with the inconsistent playing time.  Liu finally appeared to get it together in August, however, where he played 15 games and accumulated 55 at bats, going .309-.345-673 with 6 homers.

Nathan Yan, #1 Starter: Yan’s continued his dominance so far in the season, although he accumulated his first loss and had a fairly ugly 1.90 ERA August.  Regardless, Yan appears on pace to shatter all records (and personal career highs), including the hallowed 500-K mark (he’s up to 462 K’s, on 18.0 K’s/9).  Since August he’s had a number of phenomenal performances, including perhaps his best start yet, an 11-inning 1-hitter, in which he struck out 25 batters (and had K’d 21 through 9 innings).

Whitney Esguerra, #2 Starter: It’s been a long, hard season of bad luck for Esguerra, who can’t seem to get a break anywhere.  Despite her 3.26 ERA, ranked #6 in the league, Esguerra has been the victim of the 12th worst run support in baseball, garnering only 4.2 runs per game on a team that scores 5.9.  Despite being perhaps the best pitcher on the team in August, where she pitched 38 1/3 innings with a 1.88 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a shutout, she was only 2-3, and overall is 10-10 with a 3.26 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 19 quality starts (76%), which is ranked 5th in the league.

Terrence Zhao, #3 Starter: While his numbers may now show it, Zhao has been one of the most dominant in the second half – seven of his last 11 starts have been complete games, and 8 of those 11 have been 1-run starts.  Zhao seems to have a habit for getting bombed, however, which is where the worst of his numbers come from – despite all this he’s been a healthy 6-2 in July-August, and his 1.67 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and 13.14 K’s/9 in August show that the lights-out 2005 Terrence is still buried in there somewhere.

Samantha Chin, #4 Starter: Chin’s break out season continues, as the sophomore starter was nothing but brilliant in July and August.  She went 6-0, with a 2.41 ERA and 0.90 WHIP, and has been just a couple runs of support and a few shaky bullpen appearances short of being a perfect 10-0 so far this second half.  4th in the league in ERA, 3rd in WHIP, 5th in wins, 7th in K’s per 9, Chin appears well on her way to becoming a superstar in who is surely this year’s breakout player for Daly City.

Sean Wade, #5 Starter: After an abysmal first half, Sean seems to have righted himself back on track, with sub-1.00 WHIPs in both months so far, and an especially dominant 0.75 ERA in July.  While Wade isn’t going to come anywhere close to his rookie season numbers, a seemingly strong finish to the 2006 season is a positive sign that Wade will be able to begin 2007 with a fresh start.

Miguel Pardo, #6 Starter: Pardo suffered a tragic end to his season, tearing his rotator cuff muscle clean off in his 3rd August start.  He’s now shelved for the end of the season, and perhaps not a moment too soon – his July ERA hit a high 4.38 with 1.38 WHIP, and his three starts in August seemed to show a regression to the Miguel of old, with only 10 1/3 innings in 3 starts, with an 11.32 ERA and 1.84 WHIP.  A somber end to another season of hope and heartbreak for Pardo – one wonders whether he’ll ever break through to become anything more than a #6 starter, especially in Daly City’s stacked rotation.

Helen Yamamoto, Mopup Reliever: After a blistering first half, in which Yamamoto brought her ERA all the way under 3, she’s regressed significantly to her 2005 form – so far in the second half she has a 9.00 ERA and 2.33 WHIP, mostly in non-consequential games.  She still stands at a decent 4.95 ERA and 1.70 WHIP in the season, although if she were to retire right now (as she’s expected to be sent down to the farm at the end of 2006), her 7.30 ERA and 2.17 WHIP career numbers would go down as the worst in Daly City history – a little bit of September effort, and she might manage to get her numbers down lower than Clayton’s 7.28 ERA and 1.67 WHIP

Angel Poon, Middle Reliever: After her shaky start, Poon has been nothing but sheer brilliance since June, with 18 innings of work and a 2.00 ERA and 0.72 WHIP.  While her ERA from 2006’s early months still weigh  her numbers up at 4.19 ERA (right now, a career-worst), her WHIP is a career-best and league-#4 1.02.  On another note, despite another year of declining appearances and innings, Poon has just broken the 200-inning mark, a first for a Daly City reliever.

Alfred Vong, Long Reliever: It hasn’t been a good year for the sophomore reliever, who was expected to make great strides on the mound, but has instead regressed in every way.  Vong was abysmal in July, where he accumulated a 7.27 ERA and 1.73 WHIP.  With Pardo’s season-ending injury, Vong gets a reluctant chance to prove himself, although with the way he’s pitched this year, he hardly seems ready to become a starter.  In two semi-starts so far, however, Vong seems to have risen to the occasion – he filled in for 5 1/3 innings the game that Pardo was injured, giving up only 1 run and earning the win.  The next game, Vong’s first start this season, Alfred pitched a complete game, allowing 2 runs and striking out 8, and accomplishing it in only 109 pitches, no less.  Perhaps this is Vong’s big break – he’s got a whole September (2 or 3 starts) to show his stuff, and all eyes will be watching perhaps Vong’s first and last big chance to make the rotation permanently.

Zubeda Khan, Middle Reliever: The former closer has quietly put together a season of steady improvement – while her ERA at 3.44 isn’t much better than last year’s at 3.47, and she’s blown 3 saves as a middle reliever, her WHIP has dropped dramatically to 0.93 (good for 2nd in the league, if she was an inning qualifier).  Perhaps more tellingly, her Component ERA has dropped from last year’s solid 3.28 to a gaudy 2.27.  She’s been the one steady part of a tumultuous season in the bullpen, and who knows… she may well see herself back in the closer’s role next year.

Alvina Chu, Setup Reliever: It’s been a season of ups and downs for Chu, who seems to have put it all together in the last three months after a dreadful April and May.  She’s 4-0 with a 0.93 ERA in 19 1/3 innings since June.  However, her WHIP remains at a high 1.27 (including a scary 1.67 August WHIP), and her CERA is a pedestrian 3.24.  She has, however, only blown 1 save in 8 opportunities this season, although she’s allowed 41.2% of her inherited runners to score.  On another note, her 7 wins this year puts her in the all-time lead for reliever wins with 27, toppling Sarah Jimenez’s old record.

Josiah Leong, Closer: What looked so right has gone horribly wrong this second half for Leong.  The player who led the league in saves and had a sub-2.00 ERA at the end of the first half has been hammered all second-half, posting a 9.95 ERA and 1.84 WHIP. He’s also blown a staggering 9 saves so far this season, far more than any Daly City closer in history, and 2nd in the league.  Despite all this he’s still 2nd in the league with 31 saves , is #1 with 12.8 K’s per 9, and could conceivably become the 1st reliever in Daly City history to strike out 100 batters in a season.

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