A look back at Expansion Era, Chapter One

With the conclusion of the 2015 regular season, we close Chapter One on the 15-team Expansion Era of the I-75 League.

Next year we begin Chapter 2, with reshuffled divisions, so let’s look back at the four years since we ballooned from 12 to 15 clubs.

Quick quiz: Only two teams made the playoffs all four years. Can you name them?

Not Chatfield. Although the Choo-Choos won three division titles with 100-plus-win-seasons, and had the most wins of any club over the four-year span with 387, they also posted a clunker in 2013, winning just 55 games.

Actually, 11 of our 15 teams made the playoffs at least once. Three of the four who didn’t were expansion teams (English/Destin, Michigan, Satellite Beach).

And then there’s Hickory.

The Nuts last cracked the postseason in 2011, when they won the World Series, but since have hit the skids, due in part to a series of high draft picks that have either been injured or haven’t realized their potential (Wil Myers, Michael Pineda, Gregory Polanco).

The team with the second-most wins in the Expansion Era might be a surprise. It’s Applegate, with 358, thanks to two division titles sandwiching two mediocre years.

So who could it be? Four straight playoff appearances and not among the top two in wins over that time period?

How about never-seems-to-be-rebuilding Savannah? Ding! The Scorpions are one of the two clubs that made the playoffs all four years, and had the third-most wins with 353. The Scorps in fact have made the playoffs in six of the last seven years, and the one year they missed (2011) was only due to a Game 161 tiebreaker loss to Applegate.

OK, give up on the other club?

It’s Bismarck. Yep. Steve Bizek’s Bombers, who rarely made the playoffs in the league’s first 20 years and are still looking for their first World Championship, are suddenly postseason staples, with a consistent 85-92-86-89 win pattern from 2012 to 2015.

The Bombers are the fifth seed in this year’s playoffs and might want to make that World Championship push this year, as next year will be tough with them having landed in the power-packed new North Division, which also features playoff-bound Springfield and Bushwood — though the Gophers could be facing a rebuilding year.

Chatfield and Savannah will be the returning powers in the new South Division, while Applegate is the sole postseason club to reside in the new West Division. But the West will also feature Superior, which has a fantastic club returning if you believe in the Yahoo! fantasy league stats.

Here are the four-year stats from Expansion Era, Chapter One:

West ’12 ’13 ’14 ’15 Total Postseason Division titles WS titles
CHAT 121 55 108 103 387 ’12, ’14, ’15 ’12, ’14, ’15
BUSH 76 105 72 97 350 ’13, ’15 ’13 ’13
SUP 83 93 80 79 335 ’13
MICH 62 69 84 76 291
IOWA/BTH 60 67 85 73 285 ’14
North ’12 ’13 ’14 ’15 Total Postseason Division titles WS titles
APPL 103 81 77 97 358 ’12, ’15 ’12, ’15 ’12, ’15
BSK 85 92 86 89 352 ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15
MARG 86 109 84 59 338 ’12, ’13, ’14 ’13
SGP 46 64 87 78 275 ’14 ’14 ’14
ENG/DBB 62 62 78 64 266
South ’12 ’13 ’14 ’15 Total Postseason Division titles WS titles
SAV 99 87 83 87 356 ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15 ’14
SPR 102 75 82 94 353 ’12, ’15 ’12, ’15
WISC 81 92 78 66 317 ’13 ’13
SATB 69 67 59 75 270
HICK 65 82 59 63 269
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2 Responses

  1. An interesting read, Gary. Thanks. So, the new division compositions are known? If so, what are they, please?

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