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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2007 Midseason Review (League)

League Review

Just like the summer heat, Daly City baseball has only heated up as we hit the midpoint of the season.  After a solid April start, the Montis have shifted into full gear with a 21-4 June record (.840).  The offense has been humming along at a slightly slower pace (just 6.51 runs per game in May/June, vs. 7.18 in April), but the rotation in particular has really come into its own, and their dominance has kept the team at the top of the standings.

The standings after 81 games:

Universe League (UL)Shinto-World League (SWL)
Galactica DivisionPhotomaker Division
TeamWL%Games backTeamWL%Games back
Daly City Montis6417.790-Pentax Shake Reducers4833.593-
Microsoft Longhorns4635.56818Nikon Vibration Reducers4437.5434
Mozilla Firefoxes4338.53121Canon Image Stabilizers4140.5067
Apple Septic Tanks3546.43229Sony Super Steadyshots3546.43213
Terran DivisionWorld Cities Division
Europe Cricketeers3843.469-Las Vegas Valleys4437.543-
Caribbean Pirates3546.4323Tokyo Samurai4338.5311
Asia Giants3348.4075Paris Forfeiters3645.4448
United States Patriots3051.3708Venice Carnivale3348.40711

Team Summary

Galactica Division

Microsoft Longhorns

The deep-pocketed Longhorns (their $137.5M payroll is tops in the league) are once again in solid contention, and while they don’t have a chance of catching the dominant Montis, they have a firm hold on the wildcard slot, with the third place team, the arch-rival Apple Septic Tanks, a distant 11 games back.

The Longhorns have got the power hitting – the extraordinary Jango Fett is having an MVP-caliber season, batting .390-.464-.673, setting the table nicely for Jabba Desiljic Ture, who leads the league in homeruns and RBI with 30 and 75, respectively.  While the pitching staff has been horrid, it’s anchored by Kernel Tyranus, who is once again having a solid season (10-1 so far, with a 2.47 ERA and 1.01 WHIP).  What they lack in overall excellence, the Longhorns are making up with star power, and they seem poised to be a playoffs threat.

Runs scored: 440(7th)
Runs allowed: 426 (7th)

Mozilla Firefoxes

The low-budget Firefoxes are showing how to get things done, non-profit style, putting up a solid .531 record with the smallest budget ($45M) in the league.  Mozilla is 3rd in the league in runs allowed, where ace Rober Krogert (3.89 ERA) and breakout star Ferdinand Castro (2.95 ERA) are keeping games to a low-scoring affair, but the offense is hurting.  They’re sorely feeling the loss of superstar  Mathew Glenn, who signed an outrageous contract (4 years, $21.7M per) to be Gates Skywalker’s replacement at Canon.

Runs scored: 425 (10th)
Runs allowed: 393 (3rd)

Apple Septic Tanks

What’s happened to Apple?  A year removed from a 92-win, .568 season, production has all but dried up for the Septic Tanks, who rank dead last in the Galactica Division (although they’d remain first if they played in the lowly Terran Division).  They’re neither hitting (13th in runs scored) nor pitching (13th in runs allowed), and about the only thing they’re doing is stealing bases (Ben Kenobi is third in the league with 35).

While the rotation saw the loss of dominant ace Kyle Katarn, the offense  just doesn’t seem to be clicking, despite retaining the core of their 4th-ranked 2006 lineup.  There’s still plenty of baseball left from July through September however, and the 3-4-5 trio of Ben Kenobi, Hans Blik, and Chewie Gonzales could very well turn the fortunes of the Septic Tanks around in the second half.

Runs scored: 425 (10th)
Runs allowed: 393 (3rd)

Terran Division

Europe Cricketeers

The Terran Division hasn’t been dominant since the inception of the league, having failed to produce a .500 club in any of the two and a half seasons thus far.  This time, the 2005 Division Champion Cricketeers are back in the driver’s seat, but with an 8-game seperation from 1st to 4th, it’s still anyone’s division.

For their part, the Cricketeers have been thriving based on pitching, with a decent performance across the board.  The offense has been anemic, however, without star catcher Rolland Hochstetler, who’s been out nearly two months after tearing his abdominal muscle in mid-May.

Runs scored: 371 (15th)
Runs allowed: 421 (5th)

Caribbean Pirates

Loaded with star power, many experts predicted this would be the year the Pirates broke out from the bottom of the division, but so far they haven’t lived up to the hype, with many of the franchise stars even regressing.  Though they’ve put up just 407 runs (12th in baseball), the Caribbean has seen the emergence of 2006 first-round pick Clifford Alfano, who has already hit his way into the cleanup slot with a .358-.442-.584 line in just his second season.  First baseman Luis Devitt and RF Simeon Sarvis have also improved, forming a fearsome trio of hitters in the 3-4-5 slots.

The rotation has been where the Pirates have disappointed – innings eater and ace Wilfredo Raposa, stolen away from the Cricketeers, hasn’t been able to find a groove in his new digs at the cavernous Hiram Bithorn stadium, where he’s allowing baseruns at a 1.52 WHIP rate.  Perhaps suffering from an ego hit, former ace David Barnett hasn’t seemed to be his old self, going 6-7 with a 6.12 ERA and 1.50 WHIP, and failing to make the all-star team for the first time in his career.

Runs scored: 407 (12th)
Runs allowed: 464 (12th)

Asia Giants

The 2007 Giants once again lean heavy on offense, and unlike their 2006 run to the top of the division, the bats just aren’t enough to overcome the horrid pitching this time around.  Not a single starter has an ERA lower than 5.50, and the fielding has been worse, committing 69 errors (2nd highest in baseball).

The Giants’ core of superstar hitters is keeping them in the hunt, and they are raking like perhaps no other middle of the lineup:

Benjamin Trepanier: .320-.443-.676
Alex Quiros: .304-.402-.640
Tom Clark: .277-.362-.559

The young Trepanier is quickly becoming a star – the 2006 first overall pick and rookie of the year,  has kept up career highs in batting average and on-base percentage, and has developed a newfound power stroke.  He ranks 3rd in slugging percentage (1st outside of Daly City), and has 25 homers – already surpassing the 18 he had all of last season!

Runs scored: 430 (9th)
Runs allowed: 524 (16th)

United States Patriots

The Patriots are dwelling in the cellar of the Terran Division, although with a -4 Pythagorean differential, their performance is right in the pack with the rest of the division.  Their offense has been led by the classic American Truex-Amey duo, but their supporting cast has been absolutely dreadful – just one other member of the starting lineup is slugging over .400, and just two others have an OBP over .300, leading to just the 14th-ranked offense in the game.

Pitching has been a relatively bright spot for the Patriots, however.  Though they’ve run a revolving door of starters (10 different pitchers have made starts), the group has performed surprisingly well, with three of five of the current rotation sporting ERAs below 4.

Runs scored: 378 (14th)
Runs allowed: 439 (8th)

Photomaker Division

Pentax Shake Reducers

When the Shake Reducers finished just one game back of the division champion Image Stabilizers last season, things were looking bright for the team – they had improved steadily on their 3rd-place finish in 2005, had a strong core of middle-of-the-order hitters, and one of the game’s true aces in Augusto Figeuroa.  Then things began to fall apart – the best two hitters, 1B Walter Vanish and RF Simeon Sarvis, both bolted in free agency, but in turn the payroll flexibility allowed the Shake Reducers to land the biggest fish of all – the disgruntled two-time MVP and record-breaking slugger Gates Skywalker.

Skywalker has almost single-handedly willed this team to the division lead – his monstrous .347-.441-.990 line is the stuff legend is made of, and he’s fully healthy so far, having played in all 81 games and setting himself on pace for 110 homeruns and 208 RBI’s, which would absolutely shatter the all-time record (88 HR’s by Kenton McClinton in his magical 1942 season).

Runs scored: 482 (3rd)
Runs allowed: 376 (2nd)

Nikon Vibration Reducers

Two middling seasons stuck far away from the division-leading Image Stabilizers, and any decent playoff hopes, combined to scare away the league’s second-most prolific hitter, Richard Eager.  From there it looked as though the team – 162-162 (.500) the past two seasons, would be dead in the water, but the Vibration Reducers have played splendid ball and find themselves in a prime position just 4 games back of the division lead, and leading the wildcard race.

The key has been solid on-base fundamentals – the team is getting on at a .353 clip, 2nd best in the game – and the signing of Microsoft shortstop Maul Foundation, who is doing his best Eager impersonation with a .374-.408-.694 line, not so far off from the .347-.433-.679 clip of the man himself.

Runs scored: 471 (4th)
Runs allowed: 425 (6th)

Canon Image Stabilizers

The Image Stabilizers made perhaps the worst front-office decision in baseball history by letting their franchise face Gates Skywalker, waltz over to a division rival, but the Stabilizers have hung in the thick of things with their signing of Mozilla hero Mathew Glenn, who is putting up a season for the ages (.385-.457-.702), and a solid but not spectacular supporting cast (Francis Cote and Francisco Amaral putting up OBP’s over .400).

The true weakness of the team lies in their pitching, where ace Justin Ramage seems far removed from his Pitcher-of-the-Year-winning glory days of 2005 (he’s got a 4.07 ERA and just 6.3 K’s per 9), and none of the other rotation members seem particularly inspiring for a postseason run or even a strong September push.

Runs scored: 492 (2nd)
Runs allowed: 487 (14th)

Sony Super Steadyshots

After looking strong in 2005 (an even .500 finish), the Super Steadyshots once again find themselves back in the cellar.  While all of their division rivals picked up new MVP-caliber sluggers, the SSS stayed pat and have found themselves unable to score any runs.  Despite their league-worst scoring ability, Sony has been doing fairly well for itself on the pitching front, led by free agent signing Johnny Bussell (3.38 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) and bolstered by last season’s trade acquisition Justin Pucci (4.35 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) and longtime starter Lee Cassidy (4.20 ERA, 1.23 WHIP).

Runs scored: 344 (16th)
Runs allowed: 409 (4th)

World Cities Division

Las Vegas Valleys

The Valleys reloaded big time in the offseason in their bid for a repeat division championship, sparing no expense to acquire Nikon’s superstar Richard Eager for an unheard-of $38.3M per year, 5-year contract.  Eager hasn’t disappointed, and he joins the aging Las Vegas great Hector Valdivieso (.345-.427-.647) to form perhaps the most fearsome batting duo in baseball.

Runs scored: 459 (6th)
Runs allowed: 462 (11th)

Tokyo Samurai

With the key acquisition of Pentax slugger Walter Vanish, the Samurai seemed off to a hot start, compiling a hot 33-24 record (.579) by the end of May.  Tokyo nosedived in June however, posting an 11-14 record (.444) on a string of bad luck, despite strong months by Ronald Peterson (.287-.386-.609) and a monstrous month by Vanish (.411-.486-.642).

The Samurai did take a huge blow, however, when centerfielder Kevin Harwell, having a breakout (.398-.479-.605) season at age 38, broke his foot in mid-June, putting him out for the entire season.

Runs scored: 464 (5th)
Runs allowed: 440 (9th)

Paris Forfeiters

It’s been a tough break for the Forfeiters, who played admirably in 2005 to finish 2 games behind Tokyo, and played to a bitter tie (losing the tiebreaker) against the Las Vegas Valleys in 2006.  The Forfeiters may find themselves out of even that kind of luck in 2007, where the wheels seem to be finally falling off of OBP machine Lamont Sanchez (.245-.366-.447).

Paris paid big dollars to lure away ace Kyle Kataran to the SWL, and his mediocre performance so far (3.44 ERA, compared to 2.43 heading into the season) is what’s barely keeping the Forfeiters in contention

Runs scored: 411 (11th)
Runs allowed: 446 (10th)

Venice Carnivale

There’s been little to root for in the small baseball town of Venice, and the Carnivale have been quietly clogging along to another last-place finish.  The lone bright spots are Wilbur Phillips, who has developed into a star this season (.282-.367-.601), and the ever reliable #1 starter Gerald Freeman, who is quietly putting up yet another solid season (3.88 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 8.1 K’s per 9).

Runs scored: 433 (8th)
Runs allowed: 511 (15th)

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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 Awards

League Review

Another year, another victory for the Daly City Montis. After breezing through the first and second playoff rounds, the shaky Pentax Shake Reducers proved to be no match at all, being swept 4-0 after two miraculous 4-3 series wins.

And now, onto the post-season report!

The Pitcher of the Year, UL: Nathan Yan, Daly City SP
For the fourth year in the row, Yan not only has another championship under his belt, but has also garnered his fourth straight Pitcher of the Year award. While he blew away the league last year with some astonishing numbers, Yan blew away even himself with his spectacular 2006 campaign. He pitched an astounding 284 innings in only 32 starts – only 4 inning short of the maximum 288 innings for 32 starts. Yan’s ERA at 0.79 and WHIP at 0.47 were in line with last year’s (needless to say, both led the league by a fair margin). But his biggest achievement of all this year may have been his complete evolution into the perfect strikeout machine. Like Zerg on Tarsonis, Yan simply devoured opposing hitters, not only reaching but shattering the 500-K mark he joked about at the beginning of the year. Yan finished the year with 568K’s, for an even 18 K’s per 9 innings. Over the course of the year, Yan reached the 20-K mark in a game 9 times, including perhaps the best game of his career: an 11 inning complete game shutout, allowing just ONE hit, and striking out 25 batters (21 batters by the 9th inning). For that game he earned a staggering game score of 119.

Among the runner-ups, Apple pitcher Kyle Katarn stayed strong, almost directly replicating his 2005 stats, garnering him the #2 pitcher award. The big surprises were Microsoft’s Kernel Tyranus and Daly City’s Zhao, who had reversals of fortune – Tyranus, a solid pitcher in 2005, exploded this season, lowering his ERA form 3.29 to 2.08, while throwing 27 quality starts (90%). Unfortunately Tyranus’ season took a premature end with a September injury, or he may have easily broken the 30 QS mark or the 25-win mark. Zhao meanwhile, the #2 from 2005, nearly dropped off the map, with a slow start that left him at 8-7, 3.56 ERA at the end of July. Zhao turned it on in the final two months, however, and ended up a respectable 14-7 with a 3.03 ERA, although far off the mark of 2005’s amazing 23-4, 1.74 ERA run. Samantha Chin, in her breakout sophomore season, rounded out the top 5.

The other runner-ups:

Name Team Record Starts QS/CG/SHO Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Nathan Yan Daly City 30-1 32 31/26/12 284 568 0.78 0.06 0.47 18.0
Kyle Katarn Apple 21-11 36 29/14/3 299 298 2.41 2.02 0.98 9.0
Kernel Tyranus Microsoft 22-5 30 27/3/0 226 193 2.03 2.08 1.03 7.7
Terrence Zhao Daly City 14-7 30 21/9/2 205 236 3.03 2.40 1.16 10.4
Samantha Chin Daly City 19-4 29 24/2/2 202 2/3 199 3.20 2.61 1.07 8.8

The Batter of the Year, UL: Derek Lew, Daly City 1B
Another HUGE surprise for the UL Batter of the Year award, as another Daly City hitter unexpectedly takes home the trophy. While Wong stunned everyone by winning the award over Asia’s Alex Quiros in 2005, Lew’s win comes out of nearly nowhere. Lew rebounded greatly from his disastrous 2005 season, and put up a solid season, with a .304-.338-.593 line, and a career high in SLG. Lew also set career highs in the RBI department, with 164, as well, which led the league. Perhaps that was enough to win it for Lew, who faced stiff competition elsewhere in the league – 9 players, including teammate Rudy Puzon, had higher OPS and higher total Runs Created, and Lew wasn’t even in the top 15 for Runs Created per 27 outs. Perhaps no one had a more heartbreaking season than Apple’s Ben Kenobi, who put up amazing numbers – he in fact bested Lew in .AVG-.OBP-.SLG, and dominated the league in RC/27 – and lost for lack of RBI’s, and endured a season pursuing and holding the SB lead that was eventually lost to Cristian Ortiz in the final two months, and ultimately failed to make the playoffs, despite having arguably the better end-of-year team than the Microsoft Longhorns.

Name Team AB 2B HR RBI Runs Walks SB AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Derek Lew Daly City 688 77 30 164 116 34 13 .304 .338 .593 130 6.72
Ben Kenobi Apple 633 58 18 88 143 69 72 .370 .434 .607 179.5 11.01
Jango Fett Microsoft 616 53 21 96 125 88 30 .347 .429 .565 160.7 9.77
Mathew Glenn Mozilla 614 35 38 124 130 85 13 .319 .401 .575 147.2 8.89
Alex Quiros Asia 550 46 41 110 108 67 3 .293 .377 .611 129.5 8.68


The Rookie of the Year, UL: Benjamin Trepanier, Asia RF
There would be no trifecta again this year, as Asia’s rookie RF, the #1 pick in the 2006 draft, stormed to an amazing season, hitting .310-.437-.492, leading the league in OBP and walks, and placing 3rd in RC/27. Punctuating an almost-there year for Daly City’s star rookie Whitney Esguerra, she ended in 2nd place despite a dazzling rookie season in which she ranked 5th in the league in ERA, 5th in opponent’s OBP, 7th in WHIP, 8th in CERA, 4th in K’s, and 2nd in K’s per 9 innings, yet emerged with a 13-11 record due to poor run support (9th worst) from the highest-scoring offense in the league.

Name Team AB 2B HR RBI Runs Walks SB AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Benjamin Trepanier Asia 555 27 10 90 85 115 18 .310 .437 .492 141.6 9.32
Clifford Alfano Caribbean 536 27 18 68 80 65 13 .282 .363 .455 95.6 6.14
Name Team Record Starts QS/CG/SHO Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Whitney Esguerra Daly City 13-11 30 23/6/2 214 256 3.15 3.01 1.12 10.8

The Pitcher of the Year, SWL: Willard Weiler, Tokyo SP
Willard Weiler, last year’s #2, vaults into the spotlight as he claims this year’s Pitcher of the Year award, in a tight race of subpar performances. Weiler pitched worse than he did last year, but his star didn’t fade nearly as much as the lights-out Ramage.Weiler was #2 in the league in CERA, and led in wins, but otherwise was right in the middle of the pack with many other star pitchers. The year has been especially tough for Canon pitcher Justin Ramage, who dropped off heavily from last year’s performance but came back roaring in the playoffs, yet fell short of another World Series trip.

Name Team Record Starts QS/CG/SHO Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Willard Weiler Tokyo 20-11 36 23/8/2 259 2/3 224 3.43 3.38 1.15 7.8
Gerald Freeman Venice 17-13 36 23/10/3 278 2/3 290 3.68 2.71 1.08 9.4
Justin Ramage Canon 18-10 35 24/1/0 231 1/3 240 3.46 3.59 1.27 7.7
Augusto Figueroa Pentax 17-13 34 17/12/2 256 2/3 173 4.10 3.69 1.26 6.1
Pedro Basaldua Sony 12-7 30 20/2/0 198 86 3.59 3.85 1.33 3.9


The Batter of the Year, SWL: Gates Skywalker, Canon LF
Talk about a year for hitting. Once again, Skywalker of Canon and Richard Eager of the Nikon resumed their rivalry. It’s readily apparent by now that Skywalker simply outclasses any other hitter in the league – his OPS+ is a staggering 173, and perhaps the only better player in baseball is Daly City’s Nathan Yan, whose 596 ERA+ blows even that away. It’s readily apparent, however, that Nikon is fast becoming an offensive force in the baseball world – Eager and last year’s rookie of the year, Brandon Wroten, were 2-3 in Runs Created, SLG, Isolated Power, Total Bases, HR, among a host of other hitting categories. Late-season injuries cost a few players, most notably Canon’s Francis Cote and Las Vegas’ Hector Valdivieso, who both missed the last month of the season with injuries.

Name Team AB 2B HR RBI Runs Walks SB AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Gates Skywalker Canon 532 47 79 182 146 90 0 .350 .441 .891 202.7 14.71
Richard Eager Nikon 613 35 45 125 143 94 25 .357 .448 .667 195.6 11.89
Brandon Wroten Nikon 625 57 50 155 117 73 1 .307 .377 .638 152.2 8.99
Hector Valdivieso Las Vegas 497 54 29 96 92 76 10 .338 .425 .626 139.5 10.70
Francis Cote Canon 502 25 35 105 105 78 0 .313 .413 .584 126.3 9.42

The Rookie of the Year, UL: Michael Hooser, Las Vegas SP
It was a shallow field this year for rookies in the SWL. Only 8 rookies in all even qualified in terms of innings or plate appearances, and five of them were relievers. Las Vegas’ Michael Hooser ended up taking the crown, by being the least abominable with a 4.91 ERA in 199 2/3 innings, with 1.44 WHIP, although Paris pitchers Juan Perez and Andrew Wilcox were probably closer to “above average” than Hooser was, or will ever be, although all pitchers had a shaky WHIP in the 1.4 range. Nikon’s Brian Batchelder and Paris’ Robert Rodriguz put up a decent half-seasons, but after this there was really no one else even above average.

Name Team AB 2B HR RBI Runs Walks SB AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Brian Batchelder Nikon 344 25 5 50 53 20 13 .299 .346 .422 54.8 5.78
Robert Rodriguz Paris 222 13 10 35 29 18 3 .279 .331 .500 36 5.79
Name Team Record Starts QS/CG/SHO Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Michael Hooser Las Vegas 11-13 33 16/1/0 199 2/3 96 4.91 5.02 1.44 4.3
Juan Perez Paris 12-6 27 16/0/0 152 1/3 111 3.66 4.20 1.46 6.6
Andrew Wilcox Paris 4-3 0 0/0/0 84 42 3.64 4.08 1.49 4.5
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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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The 2006 Playoffs: League Series Review

Game Recaps

Friday, October 22nd – It’s been a rollercoaster ride the last ten days in the baseball world, as the powerhouse teams came together in the final four round.  The DC Montis against the M-Dollar Longhorns, and the Canon IS vs. the Pentax SR.

The bookies won little and lost big this round.  Heavily favored going into the series, the Daly City Montis swept past the #2 seed Microsoft Longhorns, outscoring the team from Seattle 28-13 to take the series in 5 games.  Daly City led off with a 9-0 shutout start by ace Nathan Yan, who pitched a gem of a 2-hitter, while Derek Lew provided the offense with a 4 for 5 game, hitting two solo homers, but dropped the next game behind an average start by Esguerra and a dominant 1-run start by Microsoft starter Eric Holl.

Tragedy struck game 3, as midway into the fifth inning, starter Terrence Zhao pulled a bicep tendon, taking him out of the game.  Alfred Vong finished the rest of the game out, which Daly City won 9-6.  Zhao, however, will be out for 1-2 weeks with the injury, taking him out of the rest of the playoff picture.

Samantha Chin pitched another strong game in Game 4, in which Daly City’s offense took care of the rest by slamming Microsoft ace Sherwood Bertsch for 13 hits and 7 runs.  By Game 5, it was all over, as the reborn Sean Wade took to the mound for another masterful start, throwing a complete game, 2-hit, 1-run gem to shut down the Longhorns 2-1.’Like the Galactic Colossus growing ever stronger with each new planet it consumes, the Montis seem unstoppable on its quest for a 4th straight World Championship. They’ll have a surprising opponent for the final round, however.

Originally picked to bomb out in the first round, Pentax, with a bit of luck, eeked into the 2nd round with a 4-3 series win over the Paris Forfeiters, who had blown a 3-1 series lead.  Facing the powerhouse Image Stabilizers, however, few gave them much of a chance.  True to form, the Image Stabilizers cleaned house with the Pentax Shake Reducers the very first game, obliterating them 15-2 behind a solid start by Justin Ramage and explosive by hitting from the 1-9 spots in the batting order.  The IS slipped the next game however – going into the 8th leading 5-4, the bullpen blundered and gave up two runs in the 8th and 9th, off solo shots by RF Simeon Sarvis and CF Steffen Richardson.  Interestingly enough, Gonzalo Bolanos once again pitched for the save.

The very next game, Canon was embarrassed 4-10, behind a near complete game by Augusto Figueroa and a couple of 3-4, 2HR, 4RBI games by CF Steffen Richardson and SS Noe Pessoa.  If Canon ever needed a wake-up call, it was then, and Justin Ramage stepped up to make it, bowling over Pentax with a 4-hit shutout in a scant 106 pitches, while Gates Skywalker brought the hardware with a two-homerun performance.

The surge, however, was momentary, as a Robert Bone implosion the very next game (7 runs and 12 hits in 6 1/3 innings) doomed Canon, no matter what 4-4, 2HR performance Gates could pull out that day.

As in any great back-and-forth matchup, Canon rebounded back to make it 3-3, with a 6-3 win in Game 6.

With the series and a shot for a 2005 World Series rematch on the line, the Image Stabilizers needed to bring it, and who else to have on the mound by ace Justin Ramage, who was almost single-handedly responsible for two of Canon’s three wins, and would surely be MVP of the series if he worked his magic to win 3 out of 4 wins for Canon.  Ramage pitched 7 innings, with 9 K’s and only 2 runs, and Gates Skywalker hit another homer for his SIXTH homerun in four straight games.  What nobody counted on was the game put on by 29-year-old Moises Silva, who in four postseason starts had gone 2-2 with a 7.11 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.  Silva brought the heat with an 8-inning, ONE RUN start, inexplicably besting Ramage and bringing the Shake Reducers to their first  WORLD SERIES!!

Round 2 was a round of what could’ve beens.  Microsoft lost two save-situation games, where the production brought by their slugger Jabba Desilijic Ture could’ve made the difference.  Microsoft’s #1 starter, Kernel Tyranus, and #2, Wilhuff Tarkin, could have also easily made up two or three games.  Similarly on Canon’s end, the team felt the absence of their #2 best hitter Francis Cote in their three save situation losses, as well as the two of their starters.

Canon’s Gates Skywalker, who blew away the league in the regular season with a 182 RBI, 146 Run, .350-.441-.891, 79 homer regular season campaign, and bashed away with a marvelous 27 RBI, 20 Run, 12HR, .467-.561-1.467 postseason (his run production alone outnumbers that of the entire Las Vegas or Pentax teams during their matches).  A free agent this year, Skywalker could very well move on to greener pastures, after two seasons without a ring in Canonland.

Looking forward to the World Series, 2006 seems to be another easy one for the Daly City Montis, who coast into this series outscoring their opponents 63-25 in the postseason (that’s 6.3 runs to 2.5 runs per game), while Pentax has stumbled along into two miraculous underdog 4-3 series wins, scoring 73-76 along the way (that’s 5.2 runs to 5.4 runs per game).  Yes, that’s right, Pentax has actually been outscored in the postseason, despite arriving at the World Series with the Shinto-World League pennant. 

Round 3, World Series: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Daly City Montis

The Daly City Montis come into this series like they came into the regular season – a so-so offense backed by a lights-out pitching staff.  This description may be more true than ever now, as Daly City has stumbled with poor performances by their top players, and has relied heavily on star performances from their light-hitting batters like Joanna Maung (.429-.489-.595) and Tiffany Ho (.488-.543-.683).

The pitching has been lights out, however.  Daly City’s starting five: 

Nathan Yan: 2-0, 0.50 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 16.5 K’s per 9
Whitney Esguerra: 1-1, 3.86 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 10.9 K’s per 9
Terrence Zhao (injured, out for playoffs): 1-0, 2.38 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 8.7 K’s per 9
Samantha Chin: 1-0, 2.77 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 8.3 K’s per 9
Sean Wade: 2-0, 1.53 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 7.1 K’s per 9

The pitching has been so good, the bullpen’s barely been tapped at all, meaning Daly City has a well-rested reserve compared to Pentax.

Pentax’s star hitter Walter Vanish has been ailing so far, with a .236-.300-.382 line in the postseason.  They’ve been buoyed mostly by two very strong performances by RF Simeon Sarvis (.298-.386-.660, 14RBI, 16 Runs) and CF Steffen Richardson (.373-.439-.824, 16RBI, 12 Runs).  The rest of the lineup has been downright abysmal, and right now Pentax is relying on both of those players heavily to come up with some kind of offense.

Their pitching is worse than average, and while they have a clutch workhorse in Augusto Figueroa, who’s thrown 39 innings in 5 games this postseason, his ERA is still a middling 4.62.

Prediction: Daly City, 4-1

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The 2006 Playoffs: Divisional Series Recap

Game Recaps

Tuesday, October 12th – tensions are high on the eve of the league championship round of the 2006 Monti Bizarro Baseball postseason.  From eight teams down to four, the teams here are more evenly matched, and the stakes higher than ever.

As expected, both the Daly City Montis and the Microsoft Longhorns blazed past their Round 1 opponents.  Daly City was dominant with a set of five strong pitching performances:

Game 1, W8-3: Whitney Esguerra, 7 1/3 innings, 3 runs, 4 hits, 4 walks, 8 K’s on 108 pitches
Game 2, W6-2: Terrence Zhao, 7 innings, 1 run, 5 hits, 1 walk, 7 K’s on 108 pitches
Game 3, W9-1: Nathan Yan, 9 innings, 1 run, 4 hits, 1 walk, 19 K’s on 152 pitches
Game 4, L3-4 (12 innings) : Samantha Chin, 6 innings, 3 runs, 5 hits, 3 walks, 6 K’s on 96 pitches
Game 5, W9-2: Sean Wade, 8 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 1 walk, 7 K’s on 132 pitches

After being dominated for three games, the United States managed to avoid the sweep by mounting a stubborn upset bid in game 4 – they scored 3 runs on Chin, were held scoreless by Khan for 3 innings, but finally came away with the win in the bottom of the 12th inning, when third baseman Juan Truex hit a homer off of reliever Alvina Chu.  Nonetheless, Sean Wade came in Game 5 and dominated, carrying a shutout through 8 2/3 innings and winning the game.

Microsoft had a similarly easy time with the Asia Giants, winning the series 4-1.  They’ve been lead by a monstrous postseason run by SS Maul Foundation, who batted .579-.591-.842 with 5 RBI and 6 Runs in the five Round 1 games.  Staff ace Sherwood Bertsch, who was disappointing in the regular season, has stepped up so far in the playoffs, winning both his starts with a 2.25 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, going a long way towards compensating for the loss of SP Kernel Tyranus.

Over in the Shinto-World League, as expected the tight matchup between the Pentax Shake Reducers and Paris Forfeiters went down to the wire in a 4-3 matchup, in which FOUR out of the seven games were 1-run decisions.

Game 1 went into extra innings, as starter August Figueroa blew a 3-1 lead in the 8th inning, sending the game into extra innings.  Having thrown 141 pitches over 9 innings, many questioned the Pentax manager for leaving in his starter.  Going into extras, Paris DH Jeff Borum hit a HR off of Pentax’s shaky closer Gonzalo Bolanos in the 11th inning to take a 1-0 lead.

Things bounced right back to Paris’ court the next game, however.  Pentax SP Moises Silva was working on a 1-run gem going into the 8th with a dominant 8-1 lead.  Things started to fall apart, however, as Paris mounted a comeback bid, scoring 2 runs off of back-to-back Ernesto Monalto-Luis Sanchez homers in the 8th, and a BIG 4-run 9th inning, pulling them within 1 run.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.  Pentax’s shaky reliever Gonzalo Bolanos closed out the game and gave Pentax the win, despite giving up FOUR runs in the 9th inning.

Game 3 was another tight matchup, with Robert Arredondo pitching an edge-of-your-seats 7-inning, 3 run performance that took up 111 pitches and saw 9 hits and 2 walks (1.57 WHIP!).  2B Christian Lee provided all the offense they needed, however, with a pair of two-run homers to give Paris the 4-3 win.

Entering into Game 4 after three consecutive 1-run matches, everyone was expecting another tight game.  Instead, Paris surprised everyone, and the Shake Reducers most of all, by exploding for a 9-0 shutout win.  Christian Lee hit yet another pair of 2-run homers to lead the team again with 4 RBIs, but the story of the night was Paris’ phenom Rex White, facing Pentax’s ace Augusto Figueroa yet again and shutting down the Pentax offense with an 8 2/3, 0-run start.

At this point, Pentax was put into serious doubt.  Paris was hot off the heels of a 9-0 shutout performance, their best hitter was on a 4-HR, 8-RBI tear in the past two games, and their hero Augusto Figueroa had just suffered an embarrassing 6-run loss in one of the most critical games of the postseason.  With the momentum Paris had, there didn’t seem to be much hope for Pentax.  They turned to Moises Silva, who again broke out with a dominant start, bringing a 1-run game into the 8th inning.  With another commanding 6-1 lead, it seemed as if Silva had this game squarely locked up.  Paris rallied however, and at the end of the eighth had answered back with 4 runs to make it a 1-run game.  Turning yet again to Gonzalo Bolanos, the Pentax closer pitched a 1-2-3 9th for the save, ensuring Pentax would live to play another day.

Things began falling apart for the Forfeiters, who after Game 4 seemed to be in such a dominating position, with a 3-1 series lead.  Game 6 saw the utter implosion of the Paris pitching staff – starter Robert Arrendodo lasted only 3 1/3 innings and gave up 6 runs, and the subsequent relievers were equally abysmal, giving up a collective 7 runs over the next 5 2/3 innings.  The Pentax hitters had a field day, led by RF Simeon Sarvis, who had a 4-5 day with 5 RBI and 3 runs.  Pentax won the game 14-3, and all of a sudden the series was tied 3-3, and headed to Game 7.

Here it was, Game 7, and both teams were throwing out their best.  Pentax had their hero pitcher Augusto Figueroa on the mound, who had dominated before but definitely showed his age in the last matchup, where he gave up 6 runs.  On the visiting side, Paris had their 22-year-old boy wonder Rex White, who dominated Pentax the last time around with a near complete game shutout.  Things seemed to be going Paris’ way at first, when they scored 3 runs in the 4th, while White went into the 5th with another shutout bid at hand.  Things fell apart, however, as the Pentax hit hard with a 4-run 5th inning, and not letting up even after White had been taken out, tagging the Paris relievers for 2 runs each in the 6th and 7th.  At the end of the day, Paris was up 8-3, and Augusto Figueroa had a complete game victory, proving why he’s still one of the game’s best.

Although Canon’s 4-2 series win doesn’t show it, they were perhaps the most dominant team all the way through the first round.    Right out of the gate, they slammed down the Las Vegas Valleys on a 2-hit, 7 2/3 shutout start by ace Justin Ramage.  #2 ace Robert Bone picked up right where he left off with a dominant 1-run start for an 11-1 win.  Out of nowhere, however, the Valleys came back to win the next two games, both by 4-3, one run victories.  This apparently woke some sort of sleeping giant, as Canon exploded the next game with a 20-3 victory, with Skywalker’s 2-HR, 5RBI performance and SS Antonio Nevarez’s 5RBI day leading the way.  The Image Stabilizers wrapped up the series on a low-key 6-2 victory.

Round 2: Microsoft Longhorns vs. Daly City Montis
The top two teams in the league meet in perhaps the real world championship round.  Without Microsoft’s ace Kernel Tyranus and their slugger (and league HR leader) Jabba Desilijic Ture, this may very well be the match that could’ve been, but nevertheless Microsoft brings a strong lineup and a so-so pitching staff to the table.  Microsoft outscored Asia 28-19 in Round 1, while Daly City was 35-12, but Microsoft’s offense has looked unstoppable at times, with SS Maul Foundation (.579-.591-.842) and Boba Fett (.409-.409-.636) leading the way.  Daly City has been no slouch either, and despite their star hitter, Derek Lew, struggling at the plate (.182-.174-.364), other light-hitting members of the batting corps have been surprisingly good, including 3B Joanna Maung (.591-.625-.727) and CF Tiffany Ho (.565-.583-.870).  Surprisingly, or perhaps not, Daly City’s playoff hero has been Francis Chen, who is once again on his October tear with a .333-.444-1.067 performance, leading the team with 3 HR, 6 runs, and 7 RBI. Pitching-wise, the series is hands-down in the favor of the Daly City Montis, especially without Microsoft’s star (and #2 pitcher in the league) Kernel Tyranus.  Even Microsoft’s #1, Sherwood Bertsch, seems a shaky bet to be able to beat any of Daly City’s starting 5.
Prediction: Daly City, 4-2

Round 2: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Canon Image Stabilizers: In the David vs. Goliath battle out in the Shinto-World League, Canon seems to be firing on all cylinders after their dominating performances over Las Vegas.  Their 48-14 run differential in Round 1 was by far the best of any team, and it dwarfs the 41-36 performance by Pentax in the 1st round.  Pentax has a fleet of hitters firing on all cylinders.  However, the production from Canon’s Gates Skywalker alone (.450-.556-1.550, 14 RBIs, 8 Runs) nearly dwarfs all of them combined.  Pentax still’s got a fighting chance, however, with Canon’s all-world catcher Francis Cote on the DL, along with two of their starting pitchers.
Prediction: Canon, 4-2

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The 2006 Playoffs Preview

League Review

Saturday, October 2nd – dawn as the playoff series begin.  Eight teams jockeying to win the pennant, although once again there’s one sole favorite.
The last month of the season ended with few surprises and a bit of heartbreak, and ultimately a playoff picture that again leaves the Daly City Montis as the clear favorite to win this season.

Finishing with a 119-43, .735 record, their worst season yet, the Daly City Montis are again the #1 seed in the playoffs, finishing 23 games in first place with the top offense and top pitching in the league, once again.  Microsoft stayed strong in the Galatica Division, holding onto a 96-66 record for 2nd place, and 2nd seed, beating out Apple by four games.  With another year, the Galatica Division’s dominance over the Terran Division seemed all the more obvious – this year all of the Galatica Division finished with a record above .500, while every team in the Terran Division was sub-.500.  In fact, the 4th-place Mozilla Firefoxes, 37 games out of first place, led Terran Division champions Asia Giants by 13 games.  An unfair world, surely, and one that means a playoff season without Galactica stars Pitcher of the Year runner-up Kyle Katarn (Apple), Batter of the Year contender Ben Kenobi (Apple), or Mozilla’s Robert Kroger.

Although all of their teams finished under .500 once again, things were certainly shaken up in the Terran Division.   Last year’s last-place Asia, who had the worst record in the league, rose to 1st place prominence (with a measly 69-93, .426 record), bolstered by their #1 draft pick and likely Rookie-of-the-Year Benjamin Trepanier, who set the table this season with a .437 OBP, #3 in baseball and #1 in the UL.  Last year’s division winners Europe Cricketeers, who were the closest to .500 with a .475 record, narrowly missed the playoffs by one game, failing to win their last game against the Daly City Montis, which would have forced a 1-game playoff with the United States.

Over in the Shinto-World league, Canon once again leads the league, although their division championship this year was cut down to a meager 1-game lead over the Pentax Shake-Reducers.  Despite being led by the 2005 SW Pitcher of the Year Justin Ramage and Gates Skywalker’s record-breaking season, they were narrowly beaten by Pentax, who mounted an 18-9, .667 September surge to come within one game of a tie for the division championship.  Nikon, interestingly, despite posting the 2nd-best offense in the SW league and possessing possibly the 2nd and 3rd best hitters in baseball, finished below .500 and in last place in the Photomaker Division.

Fast becoming like the Terran Division, 2006 wasn’t a good year for the World Cities division, whose 4 teams all finished below .500, albeit only marginally.  While both Tokyo and Paris dominated the division in 2005, with records well over .500, Tokyo, who last year was fairly dominant with star slugger Ronald Peterson, dual aces Willard Weiler and Michael Contreras, and the #2 pitching staff in baseball (behind only the Daly City Montis), finished 3rd place this year, although their projected 84-78 record would have tied them for first in the league.  Making the playoffs instead are the light-hitting Paris Forfeiters (only one player over .500 SLG, only one player over .300 AVG), who look to be mere Round 1 pushovers, and the even weaker Las Vegas Valleys (like Paris, only one player over .500 SLG, one player over .300 AVG, and no players                over .333 OBP).

Playoff projections:
Round 1: United States Patriots vs. Daly City Montis
The US brings the power, led by sluggers Juan Truex 3B, and Andrew Amey, C.  Outside their top hitters, however, they haven’t gotten anyone else who can set the table (next highest OBP is .335), or who can drive in runs (next highest SLG is .458).  Daly City pitching should mow through them, and even the relatively light Daly City offense should have a field day with the Patriots’ league-worst 5.73 ERA.
Prediction: Daly City, 4-0

Round 1: Asia Giants vs. Microsoft Longhorns
The Giants’ two-star offense has become a 3-star offense this year, with outstanding rookie Benjamin Trepanier one of the best in the game at getting on-base (#1 in OBP, #1 in walks in UL).  Tom Clark is a good run-producer, and the monstrous bat Asia has in Alex Quiros makes them a contender in every game.  When it comes to Microsoft, however, Asia is facing an uphill battle.  Microsoft possesses FIVE bats in their lineup slugging over .500, not to mention 3 players over .375 OBP.  They scored the second-most runs out of any ballclub, and are solidly 2nd in all the major pitching categories.  Microsoft has taken huge hits over the last month, however, when in a span of a week they lost their best starter, and arguably the league’s second best pitcher, Kernel Tyranus, who was dominating hitters with a 22-5 record and 2.03 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in only 30 starts.  They also lost a workhorse starter in Wilhuff Tarkin, and in another big loss, are also without slugger Jabba Desilijic Ture, an .885 OPS hitter who also ended up leading the league in homeruns, despite missing the last half month.  Microsoft definitely isn’t the same team they were a month ago, and while they’ve been absolutely decimated, they should still be able to pull this one out against the Giants.
Prediction: Microsoft Longhorns, 4-2.

Round 1: Las Vegas Valleys vs. Canon Image Stabilizers
With a 12th-ranked offense and 7th-ranked defense, the Valleys don’t bring much to the table against Canon’s #3 offense and #6 defense.  Aside from the terribly inconsistent Luciano Ferrant , there is no one on this Vegas team who can hit.  Vegas’ lone hope rests in their star hitter, 35-year old SS Hector Valdivieso, who currently sits on the DL with a fractured knee.  After 5 weeks on the DL, he makes his comeback in 5 days – Las Vegas just hopes it can stave off elimination by Canon’s Gates Skywalker wrecking ball until then.  Canon is perhaps not the juggernaut it was last year, with the flawless 2.48 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 24-3 Justin Ramage pitching more like a mortal this year.  Despite his 18-10 record, 3.46 ERA, and 1.27 WHIP, he’s still one of the best in the league. Canon also lost their #1 hitter, catcher Francis Cote, for the rest of the season, leaving a large hole in their lineup.  Nonetheless, they still have the best hitter in the game in Gates Skywalker, which should get them past this first round, at the very least.
Prediction: Canon Image Stabilizers, 4-2

Round 1: Paris Forfeiters vs. Pentax Shake Reducers
Perhaps the only toss-up in the first round, the red-hot Pentax, 8-2 in their final 10 games, play host to the Paris Forfeiters.  Paris has been merely mediocre this year.  They’re still led by OBP machine Lamont Sanchez (.427 OBP, #4 in the SWL), and have a decent supporting cast in an improved Christian Lee (.289-.372-.508) and James Talmage (.289-.393-.496).  In fact, Paris topped the SWL in OBP, and came in only #2 to Daly City.  The Shake Reducers plan to counter that with their raw power, however – finishing #3 in homeruns (and #1 in the Shinto-World League, beating out even Gates Skywalker and the Image Stabilizers).  They have three players over .500 SLG, and with three players over a .350 OBP, they can set the table as well.  Pitching-wise, both teams are fairly mediocre.  Pentax’s ace, Augusto Figueroa, who last year dominated with a 3.07 ERA, has been all over the place this season, posting a 4.10, and their #2, the promising young Warren Hobson, is out for at least the first round with a tight elbow.  Pentax has a 4.69 team ERA, while Paris has slightly better 4.60, and the teams are ranked 8-9 in the league.  Paris, however, has the outstanding Rex White, their 22-year-old star of the future, who has been getting better all season long – he was 5-0 in 6 starts in September, posting a 2.23 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.  The series might be decided by Pentax’s one weak point – closer Gonzalo Bonalos, who has been abysmal this season with a 5.09 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, blowing 5 saves in the process.  Pentax’s inability to close out games, along with some Rex White dominance, and inconsistency in their hack-or-miss offense, might just hand this round to the Forfeiters.
Prediction: Paris Forfeiters, 4-3.

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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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