Blitzkrieg complete, Chatfield storms into playoffs

The 33rd season of the I-75 Strat League may come to be known as the year of Roselli’s Revenge.

After suffering through a 50-110 season in 2011, Chatfield fortified itself in the offseason with trades and draft picks that helped produce a phenomenal 71-win improvement in 2012, as the Choo-Choos roared to a 121-39 mark, winning their division by 38 games and clinching a first-round playoff bye.

In our first year of expansion from 12 to 15 teams, we saw wide gaps in team performance, with all four expansion teams taking their lumps as expected. All had win totals in the 60s.

Joining Chatfield in the playoffs are division champions Applegate (103 wins) and Springfield (102 wins), both of whom set franchise records in the win column.

The three at-large playoff bids go to Savannah (99 wins), Margaritaville (86) and Bismarck (85).

Thus, the playoff pairings:

First round
No. 4 Savannah vs. No. 5 Margaritaville
No. 3 Springfield vs. No. 6 Bismarck

Second round
No. 1 Chatfield vs. Savannah-Margaritaville winner
No. 2 Applegate vs. Springfield-Bismarck winner

Winners meet in the championship round.

The Choo-Choo plan for 2012 began coming together at the 2011 draft, when manager Phil Roselli sacrificed the 2011 season, snatching up as much young talent as he could with the hope it would produce players who would comprise a contender in 2012.

Ironically, some of the veterans on the club ended up having career years (such as Lance Berkman, who would go on to hit 45 homers for Chatfield), putting the team  in position to wheel and deal itself into a superior position. In one deal, the Choo-Choos gave up five draft picks and a decent shortstop in J.J. Hardy to get a superior ‘1’ fielding shortstop in Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo hit .287 with 65 extra-base hits and an .841 OPS.

Then, for the March draft, Chatfield traded promising righty Jordan Zimmermann to Margaritaville so it could land the No. 8 pick and snag right-now star Doug Fister. All Fister did was go 27-5 with a 2.94 ERA, leading a staff of three 20-game winners (Dan Haren was 24-9, 3.14, and Ian Kennedy was 21-4, 3.64).

Finally, at the July trade deadline, Chatfield remained active, acquiring puzzle pieces such as IF Nick Punto, RP Mike Adams, OF Michael Cuddyer, 1B Chris Parmalee, OF J.D. Martinez and DH Victor Martinez.

The result was a team that lead the league in team batting (.291), runs (940), and homers (248), as well as team pitching (3.05 ERA) and fewest runs allowed at 530.

The Choo-Choos thus enter the playoffs as a heavy favorite to walk away with the I-75 League Cup, but as we all know, anything can happen in a short series, so we’ll have to wait and see how it all unfolds.

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One Response

  1. Hearty congrats to Phil Roselli and the ChooChoos for their dominant season. Phil is second to none when it coming to overhauling teams in short order, but this time I must say that he even outdid himself.

    Congrats as well to the other five playoff teams and good luck try to run down the ChooChoos.

    Gopher Dave

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