Welcome to the Season 17 of the USMLB.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Playoff Races

San Jose has an outstanding pitching staff. A team ERA of just 3.37 which is second best in the league and over a thousand strikeouts. Buzz Jones has been dominating only losing 3 games all season. Frank Richards the closer hasn’t been perfect with 7 blown saves but he’s been great during the second half.

The offense has struggled only hitting .250 has a team but there one of the best teams hitting in the clutch. Glenn Matheson, Eric Sisk and Tony Alvarez are the big offensive trio combining for 36% of the total runs scored for the team, 46% of the homeruns and 36% of the RBI’s. The Earthquake would really be struggled without these three in the lineup.

Unless the Earthquake crumbles into the earth, they should have no problem making the playoffs.

Chance at making postseason: 99 percent

The Cincinnati Highlanders are two games behind the Boston Braves in the American League East standings but still almost an automatic lock to make the playoffs.

Armed with one the most deadly and extremely talented lineup, the Highlanders have had no problem scoring runs this season. Wayne Daniels has been killing the ball with his 53 homeruns and Alex Lee has found his MVP form, knocking in 136 runs. I can see five different players for the Highlanders getting at least 100 RBI’s this season.

The Highlanders pitching staff has been the biggest surprise for the team. I can see all five starting pitchers getting at least 10 victories, mostly due to the offense. Vin Ramirez is having a career year with 19 wins so far and having an ERA around 3.60. The biggest problem for the Highlanders is the bullpen with 16 blown saves and a bullpen ERA of 5.00.

Unless the bullpen melts down even more or the offense decides it doesn’t want to hit anymore, the Highlanders are pretty much a lock to play in postseason.

Chance at making postseason: 98 percent

The Arizona Sting has the division lead in the American League West by 6 games and 5 games for the last spot in the American League wildcard race.

The offense has been the stars for Sting this season with over 800 runs scored and hitting over .280 as a team. Nick Ball has been his great self, with a .308 average and 136 RBI’s. Kenny Logan is having a MVP type season with a .338 average and 31 homeruns.

The pitching staff has struggled at times but has been good when the team needs it. Miguel Terrero has the most wins with 15 and the best ERA at 3.82 in the rotation. But has only pitched 169.2 innings and like most of the starting rotation they really don’t go deep into games. The bullpen for the Sting have almost pitched 500 innings this season, which would explain Tom Fordham winning 10 games already this season. Shane Haad has been his great self this season with 34 saves in 36 chances.

Barring a Beefpound collapse, they should make it as either division champions or Wild Card team.

Chance at making postseason: 92 percent

If St. Louis Cornerstone want to win the National League East for the 6th time in the last 8 years there going to have to do it while being challenged for the first time in years.  Cornerstone have been looking over there shoulder all second half at the Subway but have just barely hanged onto there division with a 4 game lead.

Wes Withem of course leads the charge on a very lack luster offense. Withem is hitting .273 with 30 homeruns and 94 RBI’s. Team is hitting only .249 on the season which is near the bottom of the league.

Of course the Cornerstone are all about their pitching, especially their starting rotation and the leagues only four man rotation. St. Louis will one day put up a statue of Mark Barkett somewhere, as he’s been the franchise pitcher for the last 11 seasons. Barkett is 16-6 on the season with a 3.05 ERA and looking for his first Cy Young award. Ed Jefferson should be the Come Back Player of the Year after last season. Jefferson has 39 saves in 44 chances but the best part is his ERA is at 3.12.

They're in a dogfight with the Subway in the National League East, but I'd say they have a great shot at playing in the postseason.

Chance at making postseason: 65 percent

The Jackson BlaZers are in a fight for the National League Wild Card spot. Right now, they lead the Wild Card by 4 games but with the team’s current funk, the teams below them are catching up fast.

The sole reason why the Blazers are contending, and why they could make the playoffs is their Bullpen. It's as deep as any team in baseball and once they get the led it’s almost impossible to get it back. Pepper Gunderson has 48 saves in 53 chances and is in the running for a Cy Young award. Harry Martinez has been the ace of the starting rotation going 14-8 with a 3.04 ERA.

The Blazers offense hasn’t been great but in the National League you don’t have to be great on the offensive side to make the playoffs. Otis Dorsey has the most homeruns and RBI’s on the team with 30 and 88 and probably the only player with a chance of getting 100 RBI’s on the season. Alex Marquez has been a great lead-off hitter with his 87 runs and 59 stolen bases.

The team has really been struggling lately. Still, they have a decent shot at making the playoffs.

Chance at making postseason: 60 percent

I thought the Scranton Beet Farmer's where going to be good this season but I didn’t expect them to challenge the Crawdaddies for the American League North title. It’ll be tough for the Beet Farmer’s to make it with the Crawdaddies breathing down there neck, but there isn’t really a good reason for the Beet Farmer’s not to win it this season.

The biggest reason the Beef Farmer’s are at the top this season is because the offense has been unstoppable. Neil Priddy and Carlos Javier has probably been the deadliest duo in the league. Priddy is hitting .285, 45 homeruns and 144 RBI’s, while Javier is hitting .273, 47 homeruns and 119 RBI’s. As a team there just shy of 900 runs and have hit almost 250 homeruns.

On the other side the pitching staff has been terrible. Not one pitcher has an ERA under 4.00 and as a team it’s at 5.02. Valerio Sosa has 13 victories and 4.03 ERA but his 1.40 WHIP doesn’t scare any teams. Angel Castro has been up and down with 35 saves but his 10 blown saves could cost the team during the final week.

The offense needs to keep hitting because if the Beet Farmer’s have to rely on the pitching staff they could be in big trouble of missing the playoffs.

Chance at making postseason: 58 percent

Now, the Ottawa Crawdaddies have been leading the American League North for most of the season but have never but the Beet Farmer’s away and now has a chance of not only losing the division but missing the playoffs.

Just like the Beet Farmer’s, the Crawdaddies offense has brought them here. The team has scored more then 800 runs and are hitting over .270 on the season. The big weapon in the Crawdaddies offense is Junior Lui. Lui is having a MVP type season with a .342 average, 26 homeruns and 142 RBI. Add in 30 stolen bases and 96 runs it’s hard not to see him as a MVP.

Unlike the Beetfarmer’s the Crawdaddies pitching staff has been decent, well the bullpen has been decent the starting rotation has struggled. Mark Brantley is the only pitcher at least 10 wins but with an ERA of 4.93, he’s not actually a staff ace. The bullpen has carried the Crawdaddies this season even with no closer. The bullpen on the season has a 3.46 ERA, 37 saves in 49 chances and a 35-15 record.

The Crawdaddies better hope the bullpen can survive because the team doesn’t have the starting pitching to compete. The offense needs to step up as well. They still have a good chance at the playoffs despite all of this.

Chance at making postseason: 55 percent

The New Britain Fisher Cats currently are in the National League wildcard race and tied with two other teams. The Fisher Cats have to be the favorite to get the last wild card spot over the Headhunters and the Saints.

The team added Raymond Pavlov at the trade deadline thinking he would be the ace to lead them back to the playoffs but that hasn’t been the story so far with Pavlov only going 3-3 with a 4.58 ERA. Bono Barr has been the team’s best pitcher with a 1.25 WHIP and 3.25 ERA but his 14-12 record shows he hasn’t got the run support this season. Shawn Buckley has been a shut down closer with 30 saves in 34 chances so far this season.

The Fisher Cats have a solid offense but there missing the clutch player this season. Damaso Seneca has the power with 37 homeruns but only 95 RBI’s this season. Santiago Alfonzo gets on base with a .343 average and leads the team with 106 runs scored. There’s nothing wrong with a solid offense where any player can be the hero on any given night but making a playoff push you really need that one player that can carry the team.

It will be tough to make the playoffs, especially if they the offense or pitching staff starts to struggle, but they are in good position.

Chance at making postseason: 52 percent

The Anaheim Beefpound trail the American League’s last wildcard spot by 1 game and the team is looking for there first postseason berth since season 5.

Leading the charge for the Beefpound offense is Nate Coleridge who is hitting .270, 42 homeruns, 104 RBI’s and 89 runs scored. After Coleridge it’s just a team full of average hitters. Without Coleridge in the lineup, the Beefpound wouldn’t be here.

The Beefpound has had some struggles out of there pitching staff but for the most part it’s worked out. Their starting rotation won’t scare and the pitchers will rarely get past the 5th inning but that hasn’t stopped Herbert Brandt from getting 15 on the season. Rodrigo Romero has been mister everything for the team. Romero not only has 35 saves in 40 chances but he’s got 11 victories and the only pitcher on the team that has an ERA under 4.

The Beefpound may not be a great team but they are a well-rounded team just wins ugly. When it comes to playing for you playoff lives, winning ugly is the way to go.

Chance at making postseason: 52 percent

The Jacksonville RAIDERS seemed buried earlier in the season, but has had a very nice second half and jumped into the American League wildcard race. There sitting 2 games back right now but they have a great chance to sneak in there.

The pitching staff has been decent but nothing amazing; with a team ERA of 4.42 but the 1.46 WHIP means there have been a lot of players on the bath paths for the pitchers to deal with. Beyond Eddie Hogan and Tito Holt the starting rotation is a mess. George Robinson has been a good closer with 34 saves but 7 blown saves has hurt the team at times.

The Raiders offense has been good the last couple of season but they have struggled this year with scoring just over 700 runs and hitting only .264. Frank Simmons has had a down year only hitting .257, 27 homeruns and 79 RBI’s. Carmen Garcia has had a great year with is 31 homeruns and 93 RBI’s. The team really seems to be a missing a good lead-off, so that could explain why the power hitters are having down years.
The Raiders have a team that can win a wild card spot but it’s becoming a big climb at this point.

Chance at making postseason: 50 percent

The Tacoma Saints find themselves in the three way tie for the last wildcard spot in the National League. Looking at the Saints roster it’s a miracle there even in the wildcard race to begin with.

The Saints have the fewest homeruns in the league with 77 but to make up for that they have over 300 stolen bases. The team made some big trades at the trade deadline to get some bats in the lineup with Brendan Wright and John Giambi but they have struggled so far. Between the two, there hitting .243, 19 homeruns, 69 RBI’s and 64 runs scored. I’m thinking the team thought they would get more then that from them.

Just like every season in the Tacoma the team’s success always comes down the pitching staff. This season the staff has been great at times and average at others. A 3.51 team ERA is great but I’m thinking the team thought they could do better. What has given Tacoma a huge boost is Steven Hill and stunningly great season. Hill is 15-10 with a 3.05 ERA and hasn’t lost in his last 9 starts.

The Saints have been finding ways to stay in the race all season as they seem to do every season, and they will be right there until the end.

Chance at making postseason: 50 percent

The Philadelphia HeadHunters are the third team in the three way tie for the final playoff spot in the National League and by all accounts the Headhunters shouldn’t even be here. The team has given up 57 more runs then they have scored but because the teams hot start they have somehow survived this long.

The Headhunters are being led by two-headed monster of Tyler Mitchell and Alex Valentin. Mitchell is hitting .279, with 30 homeruns and 107 RBI’s, while Valentin is hitting .272, with 30 homeruns and 90 RBI’s. After that the Headhunters have an average offense that struggle to score runs at times.

In the pitching staff Rico Martinez is the staff ace with a great season so far. Martinez has a 15-10 record, with a 4.02 ERA, while pitching 235 innings pitched. After Martinez it’s a mystery what kind of pitching performance the Headhunters will get. At the trade deadline they went after some bullpen help and got Miguel Pena but that’s been a disaster. Pena is 0-2 with a 4.74 ERA and 1 blown save.

They're just one of a bunch of National League teams trying to get hot at the right time.

Chance at making postseason: 42 percent

The New York Subway trail in the National League wildcard race by 1 game, but it feels like even one game could be a tough climb with the teams in front of them. Just like all the other teams in the National League wildcard race, they have some big questions marks but like the others they have found way to overcome them. With the wildcard race so open, why not the Subway?

Out of all the wildcard the teams the Subway by far has the best offense. They have scored almost 800 runs and have hit over 200 homeruns. Dizzy Lankford is having a breakout season with 35 homeruns and 101 RBI’s. Felipe Lee is right behind him with 34 homeruns and 100 RBI’s.

While the Subway has the best offense out of the wildcards teams they probably have the worst pitching staff. D.T. Telford is having a breakout season with 16 wins but do you trust him to be the staff ace with an ERA of 4.45 and WHIP at 1.39? Heath Thomas has got hit with some bad luck this season. Despite Thomas’s 3.36 ERA, his record is only 5-12. Troy King one game is a shut down closer and then the next night want to pull your hair out but 45 saves is 45 saves.

What the Subway have to do like a lot of other teams, is hope to get the right mix of hitting and pitching, if they want a playoff berth this season.

Chance at making postseason: 40 percent