clearpix.gif (43 bytes)
clearpix.gif (43 bytes)
Big Daddy Baseball League

O F F I C I A L   S I T E   O F   T H E   B I G   D A D D Y   B A S E B A L L   L E A G U E
slant.gif (102 bytes) From the Desk of the Commish


clearpix.gif (43 bytes)

March, 2012

Chapter One Recap

Players of the Chapter

When John Duel spent $3.5 million on a pitcher with a 4.76 MLB ERA in the auction this year, the signing was met by a collection of stifled yawns and giggles.  But no one is giggling anymore, as Jason Hammel was the runaway OL Pitcher of the Chapter.  Hammel led the OL with a microscopic 0.84 ERA, and also led in all three "triple-slash" categories by holding opponents to a .174/.236/.275 line.  The Eck League also witnessed a pitcher who led the league in ERA and all three triple-slash categories in Chapter One.  Southern Cal's Kyle Lohse took home the EL POC award thanks to a 4-1 record, a 1.75 ERA and an opponents' average of .152/.191/.224.

Yep, Jason Hammel and Kyle Lohse: the two best pitchers of Chapter One.  Raise your hand if you saw that one coming.

On the offensive side of the ball, Jacoby Ellsbury was a one-man wrecking crew for the Allentown Ridgebacks.  He posted a .419/.451/.742 line (leading the league in BAvg and SLG%), drove in a league-leading 26 runs, and smashed 7 homers (2nd in the EL) and 3 triples.  The Ozzie League's HOC honor went to Corona's Joey Votto, who hit .393/.542/.843 on the chapter, with 11 homers, 31 RBI's and 41.6 runs created.  I'd say Votto likes playing in Corona much better than Manchester.

Top Ten Stories of the Chapter

Story #1: Worst.  No-Hitter.  Ever.

After enduring an entire season without a no-hitter, Cleveland's Ted Lilly finally broke that streak on March 3rd with an outing that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.  It took him 133 pitches to manage this feat, thanks to EIGHT bases-on-balls, and Cleveland escaped with a 5-2 victory with the tying run standing at the plate.  Those eight walks matched a no-hit record set by Shawn Estes in 2000, who earned that no-hitter against this same Cleveland ballclub.  Only Nate Robertson (in 2005) had ever allowed a run in a no-hit game in the BDBL.

The 9th inning turned into a nail-biter when Lilly walked Justin Upton, Miguel Cabrera and Matt Wieters to start the inning.  Evan Longoria then followed with an infield pop-up for out number one, and Rickie Weeks then grounded into a force play for the second out, scoring Upton in the process.

But Lilly then ran into even more trouble when he walked Angel Pagan to load the bases once again.  He then balked home the second run of the inning to make it a 5-2 game.  That put two runners in scoring position, with two outs, and the hard-hitting Adam Jones at the plate.  The drama ended when Jones grounded to second, sending Russell Martin leaping into the arms of his exhausted batterymate.

Story #2: New Milford Dominates

In pre-season league polling, the Blazers were unanimously picked to win the Butler Division, nearly unanimously picked to win the OL title (one vote went to the Infidels), and came within one vote of tying the Allentown Ridgebacks to win the 2012 trophy.  So it's no surprise to see New Milford on top at this early stage in the game, with a sparkling record of 20-8.  The Blazers lead the entire BDBL in runs scored, with 166 (which would put them on pace for roughly 950 runs this season.  They're hitting .296/.356/.496 as a team, with 40 homers (second only to the Apostles) and a league-leading 14 triples.  They're also hitting a mind-numbing .343 on balls in play (17% above league average.)

On the hill, Blazers hurlers are sporting a respectable 3.50 ERA (8th in the BDBL), and lead the league with an average of 8.3 strikeouts per nine.  Clayton "Asswipe" Kershaw was a perfect 5-0 for the chapter despite a shockingly mediocre ERA of 4.23.  Former Salem laughingstock Bill Bray didn't allow a single run in 9+ innings of relief, and short-usage bastard Josh Spence added 8 scoreless innings of relief as well.

Although the Cowtippers managed to keep themselves at a reasonable distance this chapter (going 17-11), this division race could be over by the all-star break.

Story #3: Break Up the Ryche

The team with the best record in the league after one chapter of play is the Akron Ryche, who bolted out of the gate with a 22-6 performance.  Led by a host of non-household names -- Jason Kubel (.385/.444/.585), Dave Ross (.325/.349/.675), Will Venable (.316/.355/.491), Nick Hundley (.301/.370/.452) and John Jay (.301/.363/.419) -- the Ryche are hitting the cover off the ball.  They lead the Eck League in runs scored (145), and are hitting .275/.334/.452 as a team.

As expected, they are also dominating on the mound.  Imagine if a single pitcher had the following line: 261 IP, 228 H, 20 HR, 72 BB, 232 K, 3.17 ERA, 22-6 record.  That's the Akron team.  Oddly enough, their ace, MLB Cy Young/MVP winner Justin Verlander, hasn't even started yet.  After 7 starts, he owns a 3.35 ERA and just a 2-1 record.  It's been the Akron bullpen that has carried this pitching staff so far.  Jason Motte, Joaquin Benoit, Brandon League, Blake Wood and Eric O'Flaherty are a combined 6-2, with 9 saves and a 1.61 ERA in 61+ innings.  And the Ryche defense ranks #2 in the BDBL with a .992 fielding percentage.

Story #4: Granite State: Worst Team Ever?

After 28 games, the Granite State Lightning are sporting a 7-21 record.  That puts them on pace to lose 120 games this season, which would shatter the Atlanta Fire Ants' single season record.  They have been outscored by 82 runs so far.  At that pace, they will be outscored by 469 runs this season, which would shatter the 2008 Fire Ants' mark of 323 runs.  The Lightning pitching staff owns a 6.39 team ERA, and opposing batters have posted an 846 OPS so far (which is basically like facing an entire lineup filled with Evan Longorias every game.)

We all knew the Lightning would be awful this season, but they may just be historically awful.

Story #5: Bear Country Jamboree: Strangely Not Sucky

We all expected the Jamboree to be awful, too, but strangely enough they got off to a 9-3 start.  Of course, they then went 5-11 over their last 16 games to finish at .500 for the chapter.  And thanks to the struggling San Antonio Broncs, who are sporting a 12-16 record despite outscoring their opponents by 10 runs, that puts the Jamboree firmly in second place, just two games behind the division-leading Padawans.

Enjoy this moment while it lasts, Bear Country fans.

Story #6: Another Tight Race in the Person Division

For some reason, it seems as though the Person Division race is decided by a handful of games year in and year out.  So far, this year is no exception.  After one chapter of play, we have a tie for first place in the division between the SoCal Slyme and the Niagara Locks (both 18-10).  And after a very slow start, the St. Louis Apostles are now just 3 games behind at 15-13.

The Slyme are on top of the division thanks to the league's top on-base percentage and a team ERA of 2.53.  The Locks are winning all the close games (7-1 in one-run games, and 4-1 in extra innings.)  And the Apostles are (as usual) slugging their way to the top (with a league-leading 43 homers and .458 team slugging percentage) even after the loss of Pujols in the offseason.

Story #7: BDBL Hall of Fame Opens for Business

After many years of clamoring from the league, we finally held our first election for the BDBL Hall of Fame in February.  And on February 27th, we christened our newly-constructed web page and announced our first (and only) inductee: Barry Bonds.

Bonds is more than a worthy honoree, as he won five MVP awards in just nine BDBL seasons, along with four Babe Ruth awards and two BDBL championships.  He averaged 45 home runs a year in his brief career, including a career high of 66 in 2002.  And he currently holds the all-time career BDBL records for on-base percentage (.481), slugging percentage (.691), OPS (1.172), intentional walks (240) and runs created per 27 outs (13.4).

The selectiveness of the league's voters was encouraging, as no other player received more than 65% of the total votes.  Sammy Sosa was named on 13 of the 20 ballots (65%), and Roger Clemens (60%) and Curt Schilling (55%) were the only other players who earned the support of at last half the voters.

Next season, we will likely see two more inductees, as both Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson will become eligible.

Story #8: Allentown's Defense

While most of the focus on the Ridgebacks this preseason dealt with their otherworldly outfield and fence-bashing lineup, the most impressive feature of the team so far has been their ability to prevent runs from scoring.  The Ridgebacks allowed just 67 runs to score against them in Chapter One -- 7 fewer than the next-best team.

Allentown's pitching staff owns a ridiculous ERA of 2.30, and they've held opponents to a 584 OPS (a combined batting line of .200/.270/.313.)  The Ridgebacks' defense has limited opponents to a .236 average on balls-in-play (best in the league), and owns a .993 fielding percentage (also best in the league.)  And opposing base stealers have been thrown out more often (10 times) than they have succeeded (7 times).

Story #9: Chicago Bleak Sox

The Black Sox were expected to contend for a playoffs spot in 2012.  Instead, this season has been nothing but a series of disappointments for beleaguered owner John Gill.  Chicago is just 11-17 after one chapter of play.  They've been outscored by 10 runs, and despite adding high-octane bats like Evan Longoria, Curtis Granderson and Justin Upton this winter, the team is hitting just .252/.307/.370 and is ranked only 5th in runs scored (with 114).

The main culprits?

Miguel Cabrera: .229/.300/.324, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 25 K
Justin Upton: .245/.304/.333, 0 HR, 10 RBI, 24 K
Rickie Weeks: .225/.323/.387, 3 HR, 13 RBI

This, too, shall pass.

Story #10: League disparity

One of the early talking points of the preseason was that the Eck League has so many great pitchers compared to the Ozzie League.  The numbers back up the bluster:

EL: 3.63 ERA, 2.9 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 7.5 K/9, .247/.310/.386
OL: 4.18 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 7.1 K/9, .258/.325/.402

That's all well and good, but the Ozzie League managers are far more handsome, and that's really all that matters.