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slant.gif (102 bytes) From the Desk of the Commish

Commish

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May, 2022

Chapter Two Recap

Players of the Chapter

Last chapter, I questioned on this page why the hell the Chicago Black Sox needed to add yet another bat to their lineup, especially when Bryan Reynolds didn't even seem to have a defensive home in that lineup. Well, color my face red. Reynolds, our EL Hitter of the Chapter, hit .325/.421/.605 for his new team, with 7 home runs and 31.4 runs created -- second-most in the EL behind Highland's Teoscar Hernandez. Reynolds played all 28 games last chapter in center field, pushing A.J. Pollock to left field, and Kyle Schwarber into a platoon with Anthony Rizzo at first base. With Rizzo now gone from Chicago, I suppose that means Schwarber takes over full-time at that position. Having too many good hitters is a nice problem to have.

Paul Goldschmidt became one of the best free agent bargains in recent memory when Matt Clemm won his auction bid at only $6 million in 2020. Goldy hit a robust .321/.391/.615 for the Jamboree that year, with a career-high 142.6 runs created. He finished in third place in the MVP voting, and won the OL Babe Ruth award. Last year, he wasn't so good (.249/.328/.451), but he has bounced back bigly in 2022. Our OL Hitter of the Chapter hit .353/.411/.698 last chapter, leading the league in homers (10), slugging, and runs created (32.5). He has practically carried the tied-for-first-place Jamboree on his back this season.

Shout-out to Kansas' Marcus Stroman, who went 5-0 for a sub-.500 ballclub last chapter, but he is not our EL Pitcher of the Chapter. That honor goes to another pitcher who, like Stroman, was also purchased for big bucks in last winter's auction: Chicago's Sean Manaea. He led the league in ERA (1.64) and held opponents to a .211/.254/.309 batting line in five starts.

The OL Pitcher of the Chapter is a familiar name in this section. Max Scherzer is adding yet another Cy Young-caliber season to his BDBL Hall of Fame resume this year. The Ravenswood ace posted a 1.90 ERA last chapter and held opponents to a .167/.204/.273 batting line. He led the Ozzie in two of those three slash categories, and also led the entire BDBL with 60 strikeouts.

Top Stories of the Chapter

Story #1: All Tied Up in the Griffin!

Fifty-six games into the 2022 season, the Griffin Division race is a dead heat between Bear Country and Blacksburg. The two teams own identical 33-23 (.589) records, with nearly-identical numbers of runs scored (271/291) and allowed (221/226). Blacksburg led the BDBL with 20 wins in Chapter Two, while Bear Country went 16-12.

Blacksburg's offense is much better than Bear Country's. The Beamers rank #2 in the Ozzie League in OPS (.809), while the Jamboree rank in the middle at .731. The Jamboree have had particular trouble against left-handers, as their .638 OPS against lefties ranks tenth out of twelve.

Overall, the better pitching staff is a toss-up. The Jam's 3.66 team ERA ranks fourth in the OL, compared to Blacksburg's sixth-ranked 3.76 ERA. Measured by CERA, however, the two teams are almost dead-even, with Blacksburg (3.29) earning a slight advantage over Bear Country (3.33).

As I mentioned above, Paul Goldschmidt is practically carrying the Bear Country team alone. His 43.7 runs created is over eight runs higher than the next-highest total on the team (J.D. Martinez at 35.6). Against lefties, he's one of only two full-time players with an OPS above .720.

The Beamers, on the other hand, are clobbering the ball. Matt Olson (.291/.390/.591), Giancarlo Stanton (.321/.377/.557), and the surprising J.P. Crawford (.342/.401/.516) all sport a .900-plus OPS two chapters into the season. Aaron Judge (.278/.349/.461), Kike Hernandez (.255/.332/.447), and George Springer (.267/.377/.500) are no slouches, either.

These division rivals won't play each other again until Chapter Five. By the time that happens, this race will likely still be tight enough that the fate of the division title could be decided by that series.

Story #2: All Tied Up in the Benes!

The Ravenswood Infidels and Akron Ryche finished this chapter exactly as they finished the first one: all tied up atop the Benes Division. Both teams went 16-10 last chapter, which was two wins shy of the division's top Chapter Two performer, Las Vegas. Not only did Vegas post the best record in the division last chapter, but they also outscored their opponents by 33 runs -- nearly double the next-best margin among the group. Only four games behind the two division leaders overall, the Flamingos are right there in the thick of it.

The Ryche beat up on both of their division rivals last chapter, winning three of four from both the Infidels (on the road, no less) and Flamingos. Their greatest struggle of the chapter came from Lake Norman, of all teams. Akron scored only three runs in the three games they lost to the Monsters.

Ravenswood beat up on the sub-.500 Darien Blue Wave and South Loop Furies, winning six of eight against those two teams. Vegas also beat up the Blue Wave, sweeping that series. They swept the hapless Iron Spider Pigs of North Carolina as well.

Both the Infidels and Ryche made big moves on the trading front this chapter. Ravenswood added Trevor Bauer to the starting rotation and Richard Rodriguez to the bullpen. Bauer (2.59 ERA in 107+ IP in MLB) has his full 118 innings of usage available for the rest of this season. He will be a quality replacement for the departed Michael Pineda (5-1, 4.83 ERA) in the Ravenswood rotation. Rodriguez (1.83 ERA in 19+ IP for Flagstaff) has been outstanding so far this year.

Akron GM D.J. Shepard shook virtual hands on an eleven-player deal with the North Carolina Iron Spider Pigs that netted Darin "Babe" Ruf. Although he is somewhat limited in usage (343 PA overall, with 246 remaining), Ruf is an absolute monster when he's in the lineup. He could be a terrific stand-in for Ronald Acuna when he isn't in the lineup. Or he could become Jesse Winker's platoon partner in left field, displacing Tommy Pham (.231/.302/.436 vs. LH), who hasn't gotten that job done.

As for Vegas, it will be fun to see if they can continue their momentum moving forward. They had a disastrous Chapter One (12-16, outscored by 21 runs), but looked like a completely different team in Chapter Two.

Story #3: I Still Don't Get It

I don't get it. I really don't get it. I never will get it. I just. Don't. Get it.

With 35-percent of this season complete, the Great Lakes Sphinx are sitting on top of the Higuera Division. They went 16-12 last chapter, while the Buckingham Sovereigns went an EL-best 19-9 and pulled within two games of the division lead. The Sphinx own the second-best overall record (32-24, .571) in the Eck League despite outscoring their opponents by only four runs, and despite allowing more runs than all but two other Eck League teams.

I don't get it.

The Sphinx own a 4.70 team ERA, which is slightly higher than the Eck League average (4.63). Great Lakes pitchers have served up a whopping 100 home runs this season, which is the second-highest total in the entire BDBL. They have yielded an OPS of .802, which ranks 20th in the BDBL. The four teams that have allowed a higher OPS are all in last place, and own a combined winning percentage of .321. Yet, the Sphinx are in first place with a winning percentage of .571.

I don't get it.

Story #4: Niagara Locked In

The last time the Niagara Locks franchise won their division, George W. Bush was president and the iPhone (1st gen) was just released to the public. If that seems like a lifetime ago, it's because it was (to a 14-year-old.) The Locks currently sit atop the Wilkie Division with a somewhat comfortable three-game lead over the D.C. Memorials, and a four-game lead over the sub-.500 South Carolina Sea Cats.

The Memorials actually own the best runs differential (+36) in the division, but slumped to 12-16 last chapter, while the Locks (15-13) posted a winning record for the second chapter in a row.

Niagara owns the best (.807) team OPS in the Eck League, thanks in large part to Vlad Guerrero, Jr. (.313/.401/.625), who is currently tied (with Franmil Reyes) for the BDBL lead in home runs, and leads the BDBL with 54.1 runs created. Xander Bogaerts (.282/.343/.546), Byron Buxton (.322/.400/.619), Wander F'ing Franco (.278/.351/.511), Carson Kelly (.279/.380/.492), and Kevin Kiermaier (.300/.397/.530) are all having outstanding seasons as well.

Niagara's pitching, on the other hand, is the definition of mediocre. They rank 14th out of 24 BDBL teams in ERA, #14 in CERA, #15 in opponents OPS, and #11 in WHIP. Jorge Lopez and Jose Urena have each made ten starts this season, with a combined ERA of 6.96. GM Mike Ranney is hoping that his recent trade with Ravenswood results in a pair of upgrades in Michael Pineda (5-1, 4.83 ERA for Ravenswood) and Michael Fulmer (1-1, 4.61).

Story #5: Evilnasity Charlotte

(Note: I don't know what that word means, either, but let me warn you: DO NOT Google it!)

Charlotte Mustangs GM Tony Chamra made a bunch of moves this chapter, adding two extreme-short-usage bullpen arms (Tejay Antone and Corey Knebel) at a premium price (Seth Beer and George Valera.) The assumption is that both pitchers were added for the sole purpose of dominating in the postseason, as Charlotte owns a rather comfortable seven-game lead (the second-largest in the BDBL) in their division.

The Mustangs rank #2 in the entire BDBL in wins (38), runs scored (316), and runs differential (+77) -- all behind the Salem Cowtippers. The most amazing part about Charlotte's offensive production is that, in an age of home runs, they don't hit very many of them. Charlotte has hit just 57 homers this season, which ranks fourth from last in the BDBL, and yet have scored the second-most runs in the BDBL. Juan Soto (15 HR) is the only Mustang with double-digit dingers.

The Myrtle Beach Hitmen -- of all teams -- now trail the 'Stangs in second place with a record of 31-25 (.554). The last time the Hitmen franchise owned a winning record was in the 1990's. Seriously.

The Chicago Black Sox, who own the second-highest runs differential in the EL, have fallen to third place (eight games behind) after going just 15-13 in Chapter Two. They, too, picked up a pair of bullpen arms in trade this chapter, adding Cole Sulser and Nick Sandlin from the Darien Blue Wave at the expense of Anthony Rizzo.

Story #6: Random Facts & Figures

  • As recently noted by Tony Chamra on the league forum, Blacksburg Beamers rookie manager Dylan Badger has yet to attempt a single stolen base this season. Veteran skipped Tony DeCastro has attempted only five (and is 3-for-5.) South Philly manager J.D. Luhning is an abysmal 4-for-12 in that category. The Gritty are the only team in the BDBL that has been caught stealing more often than they've been successful.
  • The younger Badger has also issued just one intentional walk this season. Talk about mashing the "1" key! (Full disclosure: the Cowtippers have only issued two.)
  • Salem's Shohei Ohtani has faced nearly as many batters (213) as the number of times he has stepped to the plate himself (233). He has hit more home runs (17) than the number of earned runs (16) he has allowed.
  • Also as recently noted by Chamra, there is a significant difference between the two leagues this year. The Ozzie League has hit 142 fewer home runs than the Eck League, and has scored 330 fewer runs. It will be interesting to see whether pitching or hitting dominates during interleague play this coming chapter.
  • The Ravenswood Infidels pitching staff has thrown only five wild pitches -- one seventh the amount that the Chicago Black Sox pitching staff has thrown.
  • Don't run on the Pigs! North Carolina's catchers have gunned down five out of the twelve (nearly 60%) runners who dared to test their arms. Cleveland's catchers, on the other hand, are only 10% effective. Two other teams are in that same boat: Salem and Highland.
  • The top two hitters in the BDBL by batting average are both shortstops, and both are named Crawford.
  • Kyle Seager, who hit just .212/.284/.438 in MLB, leads the entire BDBL in RBI's -- by a lot.
  • Franmil Reyes owns a Ruthian slugging percentage of .718. He is batting .475/.523/1.225 against lefties.
  • A pair of Undertakers, Bo Bichette and Kyle Tucker, are a combined 31-for-34 in stolen bases.
  • Only three full-time players in the BDBL (Yuli Gurriel, Juan Soto, and Tony Kemp) have walked more often than they have struck out, and two of them are Charlotte Mustangs.
  • Akron owns the #1- and #2-ranked pitchers in the BDBL in ERA: Cal Quantrill (2.08) and Corbin Burnes (2.26).