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The 2007 Season Awards

League Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Team Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the 2007 Team Award Winners…

Team Defensive Player of the Year: Whitney Esguerra

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

Rookie of the Year: Ted Kwong

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

Comeback Player of the Year: Alvina Chu

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

Breakout Player of the Year: Whitney Esguerra

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

Performance of the Year: Yan’s Twin Perfect Games

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

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The 2007 Playoffs: World Series Recap

Game Recaps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The 2007 Playoffs: 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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Season-so-far: September 1st, 2007

Team Review

In Need of Relief

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

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

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

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

The Lineup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2007 Midseason Review (Team)

Team Review

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

The Lineup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rotation

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bullpen

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

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

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

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

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Season-so-far: May 1st, 2007

Team Review

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

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

The Lineup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pitching Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The 2007 Season Preview – Daily Baseball Returns!

Team Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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