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:
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)
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:
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Amaral, Francis 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Galey, Europe’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?