Six deserving teams for six playoff spots

Funny how these things work out sometimes, isn’t it?

Six teams with winning records. All six make the playoffs.

Nine teams with losing records. All nine miss the playoffs.

Two teams from each division are in. Three teams from each division are out.

Six quality teams qualified for the postseason, with Chatfield (103 wins), Applegate (97) and Springfield (94) winning their divisions, and Bushwood (97), Bismarck (89) and Savannah (87) earning wild-card spots.

The playoff pairings feature fourth-seeded Bushwood against fifth-seeded Bismarck, with the winner challenging Chatfield; and third-seeded Springfield squaring off against division rival and sixth-seeded Savannah, with the winner invading Applegate.

When your sixth seed heads into the playoffs with 87 wins, you know you have a strong field. (In recent years, teams have made the playoffs with as few as 83.) But not all six clubs come into the playoffs with the same head of steam.

Stock up: Applegate, 17-3 in October and owner of the league’s best record in the second half at 59-21, and a 28-12 record in one-run games. …  Bismarck, with 15 wins in October after 11 and 13 in its two previous months.

Stock down: Savannah, with a losing record in the season’s second half at 38-42.

Chatfield earned a first-round bye with its third 100-plus season out of the last four years, but the Choo-Choos showed a hint of mortality by getting swept in October by Bushwood. The Choo-Choos rode the league’s fastest start (56 wins in the first 80 games) to a comfortable lead in their division, but played the back side at a more tepid 47-33.  Chatfield does bring the league’s best ERA, 3.11, into the postseason.

Bushwood comes into the postseason with confidence, knowing it has gone 10-5 vs. Chatfield and 6-4 vs. Applegate, the top two seeds. The Gophers led the league in batting average and runs scored by wide margins, and in homers by a narrow margin. But, Bismarck won the season series 6-4.

Springfield continues to boast that intimidating starting pitching (second-best league ERA at 3.34), and takes a 9-6 season record against Savannah (including 4-1 in October) into the postseason.

As for the season on the whole, team pitching told the tale. The six playoff teams ranked 1-2-3, 5-6-7 in team ERA, with only Superior (best record among non-playoff teams) breaking up the block, finishing with the fourth-best ERA.

Batting average crown went to Margaritaville’s Robinson Cano at .317. David Ortiz of Savannah outhomered everybody at 46, and Bismarck’s Adrian Gonzalez collected the RBI crown with 113.

Bushwood’s Sonny Gray ripped off 24 wins to easily capture that category, benefiting from 5.8 runs of support per game, while Springfield’s Clayton Kershaw won the ERA crown at 2.73.

Let the playoffs begin!

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