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
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
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
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
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
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
Story #6: Another Tight Race in the
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
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:
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
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
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