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The 2007 Season Awards

League Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Game Recaps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The 2007 Playoffs: Divisional Series Recap

Game Recaps, Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

Strike 1, taken.

Strike 2, taken.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

League Series: Daly City Montis vs. Microsoft Longhorns

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

Prediction: Montis, 4-0

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

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

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

League Series: Pentax Shake Reducers vs. Paris Forfeiters

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

Pentax: 4-3

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The 2007 Postseason Preview

League Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matchups

Round 1: Asia Giants vs. Daly City Montis

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

Prediction: Daly City, 4-0

Round 1: Caribbean Pirates vs. Microsoft Longhorns

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

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

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

Prediction: Microsoft, 4-2

Round 1: Nikon Vibration Reducers vs. Pentax Shake Reducers

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

Prediction: Pentax, 4-2

Round 2: Paris Forfeiters vs. Tokyo Samurai

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

Prediction: Paris, 4-2

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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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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 2005 Season Awards

League Review

Headlining the Monti Bizarro League news, Daly City capped off an amazing postseason run with successively more dominating wins – a creaky 4-3 series win over playoff-worst United States, a decent 4-2 win over also-sub .500 Europe, and finally a dominating 4-1 victory over the Canon Image Stabilizers in the championship series.

To top it all off, Daly City then went on to SWEEP the postseason awards: As expected, Nathan Yan dominated as a unanimous Pitcher of the Year, leading in every major pitching category. Even more of a surprise, however, was the Rookie of the Year award, who went to shortstop Henry “Mr.” Nghe. The biggest surprise of all, and perhaps most fitting, is the batter of the year award, which went to Joey Wong, a perfect end to his 3-year career. Quite coincidentally, the Canon Image Stabilizers, who were Daly City’s championship series opponent and the Shinto-Wold League’s best team, also won the SWL pitcher and batters of the year, and should have won the rookie of the yea award as well.

The Pitcher of the Year, UL: Nathan Yan, Daly City SP
There were no surprises here, as Nathan Yan clearly dominated the league from the start. He threw a 10-inning, 16-K, 1-hit shutout in his first start of the season, and then never looked back. He finished the season with a record-breaking 0.98 ERA and 0.48 WHIP, unmatched in league history. His 469 K’s, and 15.3 K’s per 9 innings, are also league records, as well as personal career highs, both topping his 444 K, 14.4 K’s per 9 innings mark in 2003. Yan also pitched to a 30-2 record in 32 starts, which included 31 quality starts, 25 complete games, and 14 shutouts. Perhaps even more amazingly, Yan posted a Component ERA of 0.19.

The other runner-ups:

Name Team Record Starts QS/CG/SHO Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Nathan Yan Daly City 30-2 32 31/25/14 276 469 0.98 0.19 0.48 15.3
Terrence Zhao Daly City 23-4 31 27/11/9 237 1/3 245 1.74 1.74 1.01 9.3
Kyle Katarn Apple 22-8 34 27/17/4 283 1/3 278 2.45 2.08 1.01 8.8
Kernel Tyranus Microsoft 21-7 34 22/13/4 265 1/3 208 3.29 2.15 1.02 7.1
Robert Kroger Mozilla 12-12 26 18/8/2 199 2/3 233 3.11 2.59 1.07 10.5

 

The Batter of the Year, UL: Joey Wong, Daly City 3B
Quite a big surprise here – despite a somewhat subpar year, especially without hitting behind stellar OBP hitters like Desireé Tienturier and Norman Ho, Wong somehow still pulled off a narrow win in this year’s batter of the year voting. Wong would end up with a .361-.421-.567, which were in fact all career-lows. However, his combined OPS of .988 was still good for 3rd in the league, while he was 2nd in AVG and 3rd in OBP. Perhaps his biggest contribution, however, was his stellar run production – Wong hit 130 RBI (2nd) and scored 124 Runs (2nd), which put him firmly in 1st with 254 Runs+RBI. His total runs created was 148.5, good for 2nd in the league, and his Runs Created per 27 outs was 9.7, also good for 2nd in the league. He narrowly beat out a slew of other worthy competitors, including Asia’s power slugger Alex Quiros and the European catcher Rolland Hochstetler, both of whom missed significant time this season.
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Name Team AB 2B HR RBI Runs Walks SB AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Joey Wong Daly City 617 26 31 130 124 67 8 .361 .421 .567 148.5 9.69
Alex Quiros Asia 527 41 43 117 92 55 0 .315 .390 .653 131.6 9.42
Rolland Hochstetler Europe 490 33 25 88 82 88 1 .327 .430 .559 125.3 9.98
Jango Fett Microsoft 598 50 18 92 131 78 38 .346 .419 .554 151.5 9.56
Henry Nghe Daly City 607 49 12 100 118 46 19 .362 .408 .545 139.3 9.13


The Rookie of the Year, UL: Henry Nghe,
Daly City SS
In quite a surprising debut, Daly City’s starting shortstop Henry Nghe turned in a Batter of the Year top-5 performance, which garnered him the rookie of the year award, atop a strong class of Daly City and Septic Tank candidates. Sean Wade, who was 6thin the Pitcher of the Year voting, also garnered some strong attention, but at the end of the day it was Henry Nghe, who dazzled all season long en-route to leading the league in AVG, who won the prize.

Name Team AB 2B HR RBI Runs Walks SB AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Henry Nghe Daly City 607 49 12 100 118 46 19 .362 .408 .545 139.3 9.13
Rudy Puzon Daly City 554 16 32 115 109 76 5 .301 .383 .522 116.8 7.65
Hans Blik Apple 576 42 27 104 96 44 36 .290 .345 .528 111.1 6.99
Lando Calrissian Apple 609 29 25 86 94 24 8 .296 .324 .473 92.6 5.52
Name Team Record Starts QS/CG/SHO Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Sean Wade Daly City 20-8 29 23/3/2 201 163 3.00 2.33 1.00 7.3

 

The Pitcher of the Year, SWL: Justin Ramage, Canon SP
Like the UL awad, in the SWL the race for pitcher of the year was really a one-man contest all year long. Canon’s ace Justin Ramage, led the league in almost every category, and was far and away the best pitcher – his ERA of 2.48 was unmatched in a league where no one else had an ERA under 2, and he also narrowly missed winning the triple crown by 3 strikeouts, and was #2 with a 9.0 K/9 rate.

Name Team Record Starts QS/CG/SHO Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Justin Ramage Canon 24-3 36 27/11/5 272 2/3 273 2.48 2.19 1.02 9.0
Willard Weiler Tokyo 16-14 35 26/14/1 268 1/3 243 3.29 2.84 1.08 8.2
Augusto Figueroa Pentax 18-12 35 24/14/1 272 2/3 240 3.07 3.02 1.15 7.9
Gerald Freeman Venice 18-15 35 20/13/2 278 276 3.76 2.88 1.15 8.9
Trent Barnes Nikon 20-13 36 22/12/2 271 228 3.59 2.93 1.14 7.6

 

The Batter of the Year, SWL: Gates Skywalker, Canon LF
There wasn’t so much a tight contest in the Shinto-World League as there was a clear #1 and a clear #2, at least this season. Gates Skywalker, the Canon leftfielder, dominated in every single category, but at every turn, his archrival Richard Eager of Nikon trailed him by only a few percentage points in every single category. Nonetheless, Gates Skywalker put up some unheard-of numbers in 2005, first-year numbers that haven’t been reached since Kenton McClinton hit the scene – he posted a remarkable .328-.452-.737 line, which combined for a 1.188 OPS. He led the league in both doubles and HR with 54 in each category, led the league in OPS and SLG and dominated with 178.3 Runs Created and a staggering 12.88 Runs created per 27 outs. A quick look at the following table, however, and one will note that rival Richard Eager wasn’t very far vary behind.

Name Team AB 2B HR RBI Runs Walks SB AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Gates Skywalker Canon 528 54 54 132 130 121 0 .328 .452 .737 178.3 12.88
Richard Eager Nikon 516 27 46 112 111 74 21 .355 .437 .705 169.5 12.31
Lamont Sanchez Paris 538 36 29 123 114 124 25 .322 .450 .565 145.5 9.72
Hector Valdivieso Las Vegas 572 42 29 109 99 99 10 .323 .424 .570 145.4 9.71
Ronald Peterson Tokyo 574 22 51 112 101 83 2 .307 .393 .615 139 8.96

 

The Rookie of the Year, UL: Brandon Wroten, Nikon 1B
The only robbery of the four major awards, Nikon’s Brandon Wroten stole the carpet from underneath Canon’s rookie catcher, Francis Cote. In addition to the strenuous duties of a catcher, Francis Cote beat Wroten in every number on the line (.316-.393-.516 to Wroten’s .260-.340-498), and also topped Wroten in Runs Created AND Runs Created per 27 outs. Wroten, however, had the flashier HR and 2B numbers and won the overall award. Pentax also showed some of the fruits of its #3 ranked farm system, with Reinaldo Valdejuli, one of the best pitchers in the league, and the lesser-known Mark Troxel, who quietly put up a strong rookie season.

Name Team AB 2B HR RBI Runs Walks SB AVG OBP SLG RC RC/27
Brandon Wroten Nikon 596 41 33 96 93 69 3 .260 .340 .498 101.1 5.94
Francis Cote Canon 529 35 23 95 102 60 1 .316 .393 .516 108.6 7.62
Name Team Record Starts QS/CG/SHO Innings K ERA CERA WHIP K/9
Reinaldo Valdejuli Pentax 19-10 35 18/11/2 255 217 3.88 3.24 1.20 7.7
Mark Troxel Pentax 12-12 28 18/0/0 180 111 3.60 3.57 1.28 5.6
Rex White Paris 14-7 36 21/2/0 229 2/3 182 4.15 3.65 1.24 7.1
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The 2005 Playoffs Preview

League Review

With the end of September comes an end to the hopes and dreams of many a team.  16 teams in the league, but the playoffs hold only room for an elite eight.

There weren’t many huge surprises in the last month of the season.  The Daly City Montis, who dominated the league, emerged with a 125-37 (.772) record and 29 games ahead of runner-up Apple Septic Tanks, who finished with a 96-66 (.593) record.  The Microsoft Longhorns, who went 19-7 (.731) in the last month, came up just a bit short, two games behind Apple, although a whopping 17 games of the Terran Division winner, the Europe Cricketeers, and 24 games over the Terran wildcard, the United States Patriots.

Over in the Shinto-World League, Canon ran away with the Photomaker Division crowd and finished with a 96-66 record, 14 games over wildcard and archrival Nikon.  In the World Cities Division, Tokyo emerged victorious from the season-long Tokyo-Paris struggle – the two teams were tied for much of the season, all the way until the final two games – Tokyo won both games and Paris lost its two games, making Tokyo the division winner by two games, although both teams will be in the playoffs.

A season recap will come later, but it’s time for the postseason – an exciting postseason preview comes your way!

Here’s how the things look on the Universe League side:

Daly City Montis, 125-27, .772, Team ERA: 2.94, Team OPS: .853
vs.
United States Patriots, 70-92, .432, Team ERA: 4.85, Team OPS: .708

This matchup looks a bit lopsided – Daly City possesses a 55-game lead over the United States in regular season play.  In the regular season, Daly City faced the United States 23 times, winning 18 of the contests.  Looks to be a cakewalk for Daly City, but let’s look at the projected lineups and staff:

US Hitting: The United States is led by sluggers Juan Truex (.297-.361-.574) and Andrew Amey (.280-.391-.537), but aside from those two solid hitters lack much of any supporting cast – the only other decently high OBP on the team is .354, and no one else slugs over .500.  It’s part of the reason why no player on the Patriots has amassed more than 85 RBIs or Runs this season.

DC Pitching: Daly City looks to go to a four-man rotation, or possibly even three – the masterful Nathan Yan, followed up by the mercurial Josiah Leong and the dominating Terrence Zhao, and finally the consistent rookie, Sean Wade.  With luck, it could be a 1-2-3-4 shutout series, with strong starting performances.  If not, Alvina Chu is well-rested and ready to pitch from the bullpen, although the shakiness of Zubeda Khan (5 blown saves out of 34 opportunities) means that a few of the close, late games might slip away.

US Pitching: The US pitching staff doesn’t look much better, either – no one on the pitching staff is under a 4.00 ERA, or even remotely close.  Closer John Galey has a 5.57 ERA and setup man Isaias Rodrigues has a 6.90 ERA, and based on those gaps in the bullpen alone, the US doesn’t seem like they’ll ever be able to close out a win over Daly City.

DC Hitting: The Daly City lineup ended the season on a declining note – after an explosive start to September, many of the veterans slowed down, in particular stalwarts Joey Wong and especially Derek Lew, who tanked with a .176-.211-.308 September, easily one of his worst.  Several other players have stepped up, however – Rudy Puzon, Henry Nghe, and Jonathan Chee all had solid performances in September.  Overall, the team looks to be in good shape, with explosiveness coming from one player or another, and the is after all still the #1 offense in the league, by a wide margin.  It should have no problem handling the weak US Pitching staff.

Apple Septic Tanks, 96-66, .593, Team ERA: 4.00, Team OPS: .747
vs.
Europe Cricketeers, 77-85, .475, Team ERA: 4.33, Team OPS: .724

EUR Hitting: Europe, unsurprisingly, lacks much punch in the offensive department.  They have one true star, catcher Rolland Hochstetler, who was one of the top hitters at .327-.430-.559 this season, and another decent slugger in Renato Trujillo (.281-.312-.534).  The #.276-.367-.456 Frank Cristobal is also a decent on-baseman.  All-in-all, the batting isn’t horrible – certainly not as bad as many other Terran Division teams, but their ability to score runs consistently will be severely tested when they face Apple’s strong pitching staff.

MAC Pitching: The Septic Tanks had one of the strongest pitching staffs in the league this year.  They were led strongly by Kyle Katarn, who at 22-8, 2.45 ERA (1.01 WHIP), would have been Cy Young any other year.  He’s followed by two fairly capable starters in #2 Wedge Antilles, and #3 Jeffrey Reese.  The bullpen is also one of the stronger ones in the league, with long reliever Ambrose Ackbar, as well as Mohammad King and quite possibly the best closer in the league, the 2.26 ERA Padme Amidala.

EUR Pitching: The Cricketeers are led by staff-ace Wilfredo Raposa, who ranked among the top pitchers this year with a 3.49 ERA and 8.7 K’s per 9 innings.  After him are mediocre pitchers Justin Pucci and Joshua Hack, who have on occasion pitched extremely well.  Europe has also got one of the better bullpens in the league, with Napoleon Chien (3.67 ERA) and Dwight Fenton (2.84 ERA), and 3.40 ERA, 28 save David Avila as the closer.

MAC Hitting: Unlike many other teams, the Septic Tanks have composed an extremely well-rounded hitting lineup.  They have a few star players, notably RF Chewie Gonzales (.327-.362-.547), 3B Hans Blik (.290-.345-.528).  Raposa aside, the Europe pitching staff might have a tough time taming the Septic Beast.

Overall, the series seems heavily slanted in Apple’s favor – even Europe’s star Raposa seems as if he’ll be neutralized by starting against Apple’s Kyle Katarn, who pitched at a full one run lower per game than Raposa.  Over the course of the season, Apple leads the series 13-10.

Canon Image Stabilizers, 96-66, .593, Team ERA: 4.04, Team OPS: .798
vs.
Nikon Vibration Reducers, 82-80, .506, Team ERA: 4.32, Team OPS: .768

As the 1st and 4th seeds in the Shinto-World league, the two archrivals waste no time in duking it out in the divisional playoff round.  The two have butted heads all season, and while Canon seems to have a dominating regular season lead, Nikon actually leads the regular season series between the teams 13-12.

NIK Hitting: The Vibration Reducers are led by Nikonian CF Richard Eager, who was a dominant force in the league with a .355-.437-.705 line, not to mention 21 steals and a low 44 K’s.  He’s backed up by fellow superstar and youngster Brandon Wroten, who started the year off slowly but caught fire at the end of the season.  The two players more or less carry the team, however – three other players set the table with OBP’s in the .340 range, but no other players has a higher OBP than .350 or a SLG higher than .500.  The Vibration Reducers will rely heavily on the back of Richard Eager to provide the offensive production needed to overcome Canon’s heavy-hitting lineup.

CAN Pitching: Canon is led by star pitcher Justin Ramage, who posted a 2.48 ERA and 273 K’s in 272 2/3 innings this season.  Beyond him, however, Canon is sorely lacking – the rest of the rotation seems extremely awful, save perhaps for Max Allen, who seems to have enormous potential with a 1.95 September ERA.  Canon also has the best closer bar-none in Lee Thornton, who saved 27 games with a 1.62 ERA.  Justin Ramage certainly has the right stuff, but it’s an open question as to whether any of the pitchers will be able to contain Nikon’s Richard Eager.

NIK Pitching: The pitching staff is about average – they’re led by Tim Barnes, who put up a good 20-win season and 3.59 ERA, but most of his success came early on – he’s posted consecutive 4+ ERA months in August and September, and at this point looks like a very vulnerable starter.  The rest of the staff doesn’t exactly bleed confidence – they have a strong closer in William Brunetti, who saved 30 games with a 2.81 ERA, but there doesn’t seem to be any other dominant force on the staff, which looks like it’ll bode well for the Image Stabilizers.

CAN Hitting: The Canon lineup is led by none other than the infamous Gates Skywalker, who dominated the league with a .328-.452-.737 line this season.  Skywalker alone would be enough of a force to level many other teams in a 7-game series, but in this he’s matched up against no other than Richard Eager, who more or less equalizes Skywalker’s production.  Skywalker, however, is surrounded by a couple of star hitters in catcher Francis Cote (.316-.393-.516) and RF Wilfredo Martinez (.314-.358-.550) – Nikon has a tough task if it hopes to limit Canon’s core lineup enough so that their one-man offense Eager can score enough to win the game.

Tokyo Samurai, 90-72, .556, Team ERA: 3.98, Team OPS: .743
vs.
Paris Forfeiters, 88-74, .543, Team ERA: 4.41 ERA, Team OPS .751

PAR Hitting: Paris is led by SS Lamont Sanchez (.322-.450.-.565) and is a high-OBP offense – their .331 OBP was 2nd in the SW league behind Canon, and third overall behind Canon and Daly City.  The Forfeiters also have 2B Cristian Lee, and two >.360 OBP men, although they’re missing a big table setter in their CF James Talmage, who went out in early September with a broken wrist, and will be out of the playoffs.

TOK Pitching: Tokyo has a strong pitching staff, that’s led by Willard Weiler (3.29 ERA, 1.08 WHIP), but also includes a #2 in Michael Contreras that’s as good as many others #1.  It’s anybody’s guess who will win out in a battle between consistent OBP hitting and lights-out pitching domination.

PAR Pitching: Paris has a decent pitching staff, filled with starters who middle around the 4.00 ERA mark.  However, their #1 starter Rex White, a 21-year old rookie, has been steadily improving all season, and closed off with a 2.98 ERA in September.  Paris also has a dominant closer in the 39 save, 1.96 ERA Garfield Yocom.

TOK Hitting: Despite Ronald Peterson’s 51 HR season highlight, the Tokyo offense is about a lot more.  Kevin Harwell (.297-.397-.470) is a strong force alongside Peterson (.307-.393-.615).  Tokyo also boasts a rash of inexperienced half-season players, who have put up good numbers so far, although it’s anybody’s guess how well they’ll stick.

It’s an all-out battle between two very good teams that have duked it out all season.  For what it’s worth, Tokyo leads the season series 15-8, although Paris, relying on consistent OBP production rather than Tokyo’s individual flair and flash, could pull off a series win, especially if Tokyo’s season-long reliance on unproven half-season players backfires.

Update in about two weeks (game time!) with round two of the playoffs.

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League-in-Review: September 1st, 2005

League Review

It’s September 1st, 2005, and down to the home stretch towards the playoffs.  With five months down and just one left to go, things have taken a firm shape in three of the four divisions in the league, where the Daly City Montis (Galactica Division), the Europe Cricketeers (Terran Division), and the Canon Image Stabilizers (Photomaker Division) all lead by 11 games or more.  The game is much tighter in the World Cities Division, where the Tokyo Samurai, the division leader for much of the season, holds on to a slim but narrow lead over second place Paris Forfeiters.

The wildcard race is also structured fairly well.  The 2nd-place finishers from each division make it into the playoffs – currently in the Galactica Division, the Apple Septic Tanks at 80-55, .593 are in the lead, although the Microsoft Longhorns, starting off slowly, have put together a decent season and are 6 games behind.  In the Terran Division, where all of the teams save Europe have been thoroughly dominated, it appears that either the United States Patriots (58-77, .430) or the Caribbean Pirates (56-79, .415) will be making what could only be a surefire loss to the league-dominating Daly City Montis.

Over in the Shinto-World league, things are much spicier.  Paris and Tokyo are in a dead heat for first place, and with current third place Venice Carnivale 11 games behind Paris, it looks like both will enter into the playoffs, either as division winner or wildcard runner-up.  In the Photomaker division, however, Nikon and Paris are both within a game of each other.  Nikon, so close to the division lead earlier on in the season, had  been hurt by an injury to star centerfielder Richard Eager, who is currently third place in OBP, second place in slugging, and first in batting average (he adds a healthy 21 steals and a low 36 K’s to boot). Pentax, meanwhile, has been humming along steadily.

With the playoff picture looking about set, barring any surprises in the last month:

Universe League Projections:
Galactica Division
Division Winner – Daly City Montis (dominating at first, 23 games in the lead at 103-32, .763)
Wildcard – Apple Septic Tanks (Microsoft Longhorns a moderate longshot, at 6 games back)
3rd place – Microsoft Longhorns (possibly the Apple Septic Tanks)
4th place – Mozilla Firefoxes (last place pretty much all season)

Terran Division
Division Winner – Europe Cricketeers (At 69-66, .511, a feeble playoff team).
Wildcard – Caribbean Pirates (An abysmal .415 team, but likely to make it)
3rd place – United States Patriots (they lead the 
Caribbean by 2 games, but have been falling hard ever since star slugger Juan Truex went out for the rest of the season)
4th place – Asia Giants (far and away the worst team in the league)

Shinto-World League Projections:
Photomaker Division
Division Winner – Canon Image Stabilizers (far and away in the lead)
Wildcard – Nikon Vibration Reducers/Pentax Shake Reducers (pretty much a dead heat)
3rd place – Nikon Vibration Reducers/Pentax Shake Reducers (pretty much a dead heat)
4th place – Sony Super SteadyShots (last place all season)

World Cities Division
Division Winner – Tokyo Samurai/Paris Forfeiters (toss-up between the star power of Tokyo and the steady consistency of Paris)
Wildcard – Tokyo Samurai/Paris Forfeiters (toss-up between the star power of 
Tokyo and the steady consistency of Paris)
3rd place – The Venice Carnivale (
Las Vegas looms only 4 games back)
4th place – 
Las Vegas Valleys (could jump back to third if HR-hitter Luciano Ferrant, who missed most all of August, comes back into form)

With the standings aside, the more interesting stories are likely the stories of the individual players, and the league leaderboards.

Batting Title (Highest batting average – best contact hitter)
Universe League: Daly City 3B Joey Wong, a .369 career hitter, has led the league all along, and stands at a comfortable position with a .365 AVG.  The complete surprise candidate, however, has emerged as teammate SS Henry “Mr.” Nghe, who has been humming along steadily all season and hit .414 during August to bring his average up to .360.  Either Joey or Nghe will end up taking the title, and may even be within distance of breaking the Daly City team record, Norman Ho’s .375 mark in 2003.  Current third-place is RF Chewie Gonzales of the Apple Septic Tanks, at .335, so it looks like someone from Daly City will emerge with the batting crown.
Shinto-World League: Nikonian CF Richard Eager has dominated this category all year – his current mark stands at .359, far far ahead of his Canonite arch-rival LF Gates Skywalker (.328), and current third-place C Francis Cote (.327)

Hits
Universe League: As the league-leader in hitting, Joey Wong is in the lead with 189 hits, although Henry Nghe isn’t too far behind with 181 hits.  Both seem to be sure locks to reach 200 hits, although Wong doesn’t appear to be anywhere near the 248 hits he set as a record in 2004.  Boba and Jango Fett of the Microsoft Longhorns, at 171 and 167 hits respectively, are #3 and #4, and if they continue their season pace could just reach 200 hits as well.
Shinto-World League: With only Richard Eager anywhere near the league leaders in the Universe League, Las Vegas’ Hector Valdivieso (batting .322) has only 155 hits (9th most overall) to lead the Shinto-World League.  Richard Eager, after missing two full weeks has only 154 hits, but now that he’s back healthy should be able to easily surpass Valdivieso, although 200 hits seems a very long shot.  A scattering of players are all in the 150-140 hit range, and could all conceivable wind up in 2nd or 3rd place

On-base Percentage
Universe League: Despite having some of the best hitters in batting average, the Universe League is not high on walks.  Catcher Richard Hochstetler, really the only decent hitter on the Europe Cricketeers, has a firm hold on the lead at .437, while Daly City players Joey Wong and Jonathan Chee are tied for 2nd at .424 each.
Shinto-World League: The Image Stabilizers’ all-world leftfielder, Gates Skywalker, has dominated in this category all season, racking up a .457 OBP (with a .518 OBP in August).  Lamont Sanchez of 
Paris is second at .442, with Richard Eager not far behind at .438. 

Slugging Percentage (most power)
Universe League: One category that has been dominated by all the hitters from the worst teams, last-place Asia’s Alex Quiros has absolutely dominated in the UL, slugging at a .668 clip (including a month slugging .932!), and looks to walk away with the slugging crown.  USA’s Juan Truex, out for a month, hangs in at .586, while Matthew Glenn of Mozilla (.570) and Maul Foundation of Microsoft (.569) are closely in third place.
Shinto-World League: Locked in a season-long battle, Canon’s Gates Skywalker currently leads Nikon’s Richard Eager by a score of .717 to .688.  Homerun leader and 
Tokyo’s sole offense,Richard Peterson, is 3rd at .643.

Homeruns
Universe League: The Universe League’s bash brigade is led by Asia’s Alex Quiros, who has mashed 42 homers this year, and has a shot at making the 50 HR mark.  Mozilla slugger Matthew Glenn is second at 40 homeruns, with Microsoft’s catcher Jabba Desilijic Ture and USA’s Juan Truex, both of whom have been sidelined by injuries, tied for 3rd place with 36 HR each.
Shinto-World League: 
Tokyo rightfielder Ronald Peterson has been mashing his team to the playoffs, and they’ll need all the help they can get.  The .313-.403-.643 slugger has hit 46 homers so far, and based on his monthly totals, seems sure to make a 50 HR season and lead the league.  Canon’s Gates Skywalker is close behind with 42 HR’s, and Richard Eager, although tied withLuciano Ferrant at 35 HR’s, is probable to get third-place after missing so much time from injury.

Runs Batted In
Universe League: Microsoft’s SS Maul Foundation has been pounding in the runs, with 118 RBIs, no doubt due to the fantastic lineup of hitters batting ahead of him in the Microsoft batting order. Alex Quiros, by far leading the league in HR and slugging, is 2nd with 112 RBI’s, and would no doubt have a lot more if he had a halfway decent lineup in Asia.  Mozilla’s Matthew Glenn is 3rd with 103 RBI.
Shinto-World League: The top 3 in the SW league is a crowded field consisting of Paris’ Lamont Sanchez, Canon’s Gates Skywalker, and Tokyo’s Ronald Peterson, who have 102, 102, and 100 RBI’s respectively.

Runs
Universe League: Microsoft’s #3 hitter (in front of Maul Foundation), Jango Fett leads the league with 108 runs, while Daly City’s Joey Wong is in 2nd place with 101, with teammate Henry Nghe3rd at 96.
Shinto-World League: Gates Skywalker leads here with 106 runs, followed by Lamont Sanchez of Paris at 98.  Richard Eager is at 90 runs.

Stolen Bases
Universe League: Though she’s been out for two weeks with a hamstring injury, Daly City CF Aubrey Cubilo still leads the league over Apple’s Ben Kenobi, with 60 steals to his 56.  Daly City 2B Cristian Ortiz has been a distant but steadily gaining basepath threat all season, and is solid at 51 steals.
Shinto-World League: 
Venice’s Alberto Munoz has been speeding along to a dominant 50 steal season, far ahead of 2nd place Gabriel Cardillo (34) and 3rd place Joseph Harmon (32).  The most amazing thing is that all three players have extremely sup-bar OBP, with Munoz at .277, Cardillo at .264, and Harmon at .307.

Hit-by-pitch
Universe League: This category has been so dominated by 
Daly City LF Jonathan Chee that it almost isn’t even worth discussing – he leads the league with almost double the HBP’s, a league-leading 37 HBP (which has been a large contributor to his OBP).
Shinto-World League: 
Paris’ Anthony Reyes leads the league with a measly 13 HBP’s, although Francisco AmaralFrancis Cote, and Joseph Burkett aren’t far behind at 12-11 HBP’s each.

Earned Run Average (overall pitcher effectiveness)
Universe League: It should be no surprise that Daly City ace Nathan Yan once again dominates the league, with a 1.14 ERA – a continued development from his 1.46 ERA 2003 and his 1.20 ERA 2004, and setting the ERA record for the third consecutive year.  Teammate Terrence Zhao, however, is no slouch either – after a substandard May (3.97 ERA), Zhao has turned up the heat, throwing 5 shutouts in the last two months (including 4 in August alone) to bring his ERA down to a miniscule 1.69 – the best mark outside of Yan that Daly City has ever seen.  Kyle Katarn of the Apple Septic Tanks is far behind at 2.31.
Shinto-World League: The dominating starter of the SWL, Canon’s Justin Ramage has dominated his league with a 2.27 ERA, far ahead of #2 Augusto Figueroa (2.96 ERA) and #3 Michael Contreras (3.28 ERA).

Walks and Hits Per Inning Pitched (WHIP)
Universe League: It shouldn’t be any surprise that Nathan Yan once again dominates this category with an other-worldly 0.51 WHIP.  What may surprise everyone else, however, is rookie pitcher and teammate Sean Wade at #2 on the list, with an impressive 0.95 WHIP.  Terrence Zhao finishes out the all-Daly City sweep with a 0.97 WHIP, although Microsoft’s Kernel Tyranus at 0.99 and Apple’s Kyle Katarn at 0.99 are within biting distance.
Shinto-World League: Canon’s Justin Ramage holds a commanding lead in this category, with a 0.98 WHIP, perhaps the only dominating number in the SWL, where Tokyo’s duo #2 Michael Contreras has a 1.10 WHIP and #3 Willard Weiler has a 1.13 WHIP.

Wins
Universe League: Despite all the ERA and WHIP numbers, perhaps nothing defines the league’s best pitcher as much as wins.  That said, Nathan Yan currently dominates with a league-high 24 wins, while the aces of the Galactica Division – Apple’s Kyle Katarn, Microsoft’s Kernel Tyranus, and Daly City’s Terrence Zhao – are all tied with 18 wins apiece, although it should be noted that with DC’s 6-man rotation, both Zhao and Yan have starts less than the other starters.  Europe ace Wilfredo Raposa and Daly City rookie Sean Wade, at 16 wins each, shouldn’t be discounted either.
Shinto-World League: Like Yan in the UL, Justin Ramage of Canon dominates with 22 wins, leaving 2nd place Trent Barnes of Nikon 2nd place at 18 wins.  Tokyo’s Michael Contreras and Pentax’s Augusto Figueroa are tied for 3rd with 17 wins apiece.

Strikeouts
Universe League: It should be no surprise that Nathan Yan absolutely dominates here – with 368 K’s he’s more than 100 strikeouts ahead of 2nd place Robert Kroger, Mozilla’s ace pitcher, who has 231.  Yan also looks to break the strikeout record – he’s on pace for 458, which would break his old record of 444, set in 2003.  Apple’s Kyle Katarn and Europe’s Wilfredo Raposa have 222 and 221 K’s, respectively.
Shinto-World League: Justin Ramage once again dominates here, with 234 K’s, well ahead of 
Venice starter Gerald Freeman at 221.  Las Vegas’ Joseph Moser, who also leads the league in walks, is tied with Augusto Figueroa in 3rd place with 198 K’s each.

Strikeouts per 9 Innings
Universe League: Nathan Yan dominates with a career high 14.9 K’s per 9, well ahead of teammate Josiah Leong at 11.5 K’s per 9 and Robert Kroger at 10.6.
Shinto-World League: Las Vegas’ Joseph Moser barely edges out Justin Rammage, with 9.3 K’s per 9 to Ramage’s 8.9.  Gerald Freeman is at #3 with 8.7.

Quality Starts
Universe League: Perhaps the model stat for consistency, Nathan Yan leads this category with 25 out of 26 starts being quality starts.  Terrence Zhao is not far behind, with 23 of 25 starts behind quality starts.  Kyle Katarn is 3rd with 22 of 28 quality starts, although percentage-wise it’s rookie Sean Wade, with 20 quality starts out of 24 starts.
Shinto-World League: In the SWL, Justin Ramage leads with 24 of 30 quality starts.  Augusto Figueroa, Michael Conteras, and Willard Weiler are all in a pack behid him, with 21-20 quality starts and 69-72% quality start percentage.

Complete Games
Universe League: Moving into the measures of pitcher domination, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Nathan Yan currently leads with 19 complete games.  Europe ace Wilfredo Raposa and Microsoft’s Kernel Tyranus are 2nd at 12 complete games each.
Shinto-World League: Surprisingly, this is one category where Canon’s Justin Ramage and Nikon’s Trent Barnes are neck-and-neck, with 11 complete games each.  Pentax’s Augusto Figueroa, as well as teammate Reinaldo Valdejuli and 
Tokyo starter Willard Weiler are tied for 3rd with 10 complete games each.

Shutouts
Universe League: Separating dominance even further, we enter into the realm of shutouts, where it’s no surprise that Nathan Yan leads with 10 of them.  Terrence Zhao, hot off of his 5 consecutive shutout stretch, a streak of unimaginable dominance, is in 2nd with 7 shutouts.  The who’s who of UL pitching follows next with Kernel Tyranus, Kyle Katarn, and Wilfredo Raposa, who each have 4 shutouts.
Shinto-World League: One tier below Zhao and another tier below Yan, Justin Ramage is in his own category at 5 shutouts, just ahead of teammate Robert Bone who has 4, although Bone has put himself out with an injury for the next 5 weeks (essentially until the playoffs).  
Tokyo’s Pete Fajardo and Nikon’s Josue Huerta have 3 each.

Saves
Universe League: Apple’s Padme Amidala and Microsoft’s Richard Pendergast are neck-and-neck at the top of the league, with 35 and 34 saves each, although Amidala has been a far far better pitcher (2.08 ERA vs. 3.20 for Pendergast).  The two of them appear to be the only starters close to the 40-save mark.  A slew of closers, including United States’ John GaleyEurope’s Davor Avila, and Daly City’s Zubeda Khan have between 26-27 saves.
Shinto-World League: 
Paris’ Garfield Yocum leads with 31 saves, followed by Pentax’s Gonzalo Bolanos with 28, and Nikon’s William Brunetti with 27.

That’s it for the league summary.  Stay tuned for the Daly City team log next, chronicling the headlines of the past two months, including:

Rookie Wade’s second-half meltdown!
Zhao’s 5-shutout domination!
Pardo’s magic finally runs out!
Yamamoto’s July – worst month ever?!
Injury plague – Lew, Liu, Cubilo, and now Leong?!
Cubilo’s (possibly Ortiz’s?) march to the steals record
Yan setting the strikeout record – again!?
Wong, Puzon, Liu, Lew, Lau? – who will win the HR crown?

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