Five teams bunched within two games of three wild-card spots with 60 games to play

Start spreading the news. 

They’re leaving today.

They want to be a part of it.

New, New York, New New York. 

They want to wake up. In a pennant race. That never sleeps. 

And find they’re A No. 1. Top of the South. A No. 1. 

The expansion New New York Hypnotoads, on the strength of a league-best 14-6 July, have surged into first place in the South Division and are threatening to make the playoffs in their first year. At 58-42 overall, NNY has the league’s second-best record, thanks in part to an 18-7 record in its own division (5-0 vs. Dyersville, 4-1 vs. West Atlanta, 6-4 vs. South Grand Prairie and 3-2 vs. Savannah).

The Hypnotoads join Boulder and Springfield as the division leaders at the 100-game mark, but just behind them in the wild-card race are five teams bunched just two games apart. With the trade deadline looming, any deals made have the chance to impact that race even more than in a typical year. Here’s the wild-card standings with 60 games to go:

BOULDER 61 39 .610
NEW NEW YORK 58 42 .580
SPRINGFIELD 57 43 .570
DESTIN 56 44 .560
SUPERIOR 56 44 .560
S.GRAND PRAIRIE 55 45 .550 1
APPLEGATE 54 46 .540 2
SAVANNAH 47 53 .450 9
BUSHWOOD 47 53 .470 9

2017: The draft that’s nearly impossible to mock

How do you mock a draft when you have a draft with so much uncertainty?

Last year’s mock draft was filled with just-on-the-scene phenoms, top-10 prodigies who were no-brainers for the first round.

This year… practically a total crapshoot.

But we’re trying anyway.

But first, this public service announcement. Remember that in February, we voted in a new rule pertaining to how the first round of the draft is conducted; that rule takes effect next season:

The first three picks of the first round will be determined by a random draw among the nine non-playoff teams.  Picks 4 through 9 will be assigned to the six remaining non-playoff teams based on most wins from the prior season.

So as you finish your July games and ponder your trade deadline posture, remember that there is nothing to be gained in the first round by dealing away present talent for future potential. Every non-playoff team has the same shot at earning the No. 1 overall pick. And if you fail to get one of the first three picks, the more wins you get, the earlier you pick in the first round.

Now, on to the mocking. One important factor here is that there are several players — Lucas Giolito, Josh Bell, Tyler Glasnow, to name a few — who do not yet have enough appearances to earn a card, but they quite possibly will by the end of the season. Thus they are not included in this version of the mock draft, but could very well appear in an end-of-season revision.

In past years, there have been clear-cut superstars who were indisputably worthy of being drafted No. 1, if not a lock. This year… let’s just say there’s plenty more room for debate.

For drama purposes, we’ll count them down backward…

15. Ryan Dull, RP, Oakland (Bats R/Throws R, age 27 on March 1, 2017) – Setup reliever already has 47 innings to his credit and foes are hitting .144 off him. Has averages of .144 (BAA) / 1.94 (OBA) / .287 (SLG) — .482 (OPS), fanning 48 batters, giving up 24 hits (five of them homers) and 10 walks. WHIP of 0.72. Particularly tough on righties, striking out 39 of 118 batters, with split averages of .127 / .154 / .288 — .443. Late-round draft pick and only 5-9, 175 pounds. Stranded all 36 of his inherited runners until July 9, longest streak by any player in the expansion era; starting to get save opportunities.

14. Seung Hwan Oh, RP, St. Louis (R/R, 34) – Has become Cardinals closer with Trevor Rosenthal’s struggles, and deservedly so after striking out 61 in 46 innings to open the year and posting a 0.88 WHIP, along with averages of . 166 / .230 / .225 — .454. Has allowed 28 hits (just one homer) and 13 walks. Very balanced. Only 5-10, 205. Nickname in South Korea: The Final Boss. Continue reading

90 wins but out of the playoffs? It could happen.

In 1993, the San Francisco Giants famously won 103 games, but didn’t qualify for the National League playoffs.

In the I-75 League, a mid-80-win total is usually good enough to get you in. Last season, every team with a winning record made the playoffs. Since we expanded to 15 teams, the average win total for the sixth-seeded team has been 85.8 wins.

But this year, if the second half matches the first-half pace, 90 wins may not be good enough to secure a playoff spot. And that could happen to more than one team.

At the 80-game mark, no team in the Northbound or Soutbound Division has a better record than the worst team in the Westbound Division. But since our playoff format guarantees playoff spots to all division winners, it’s conceivable that all three wild-card teams could come from the wicked West, and that one or more teams from the West could miss the playoffs despite 90 wins and despite potentially better records than one or both of the other division winners.

All five Westbound clubs posted double-figure win totals in June, led by Boulder, which went 15-5 for the second time this season. The Tree Huggers have stretched their division lead to five games over Destin, which lost two games in the standings despite a 13-7 month. Meanwhile, preseason favorite Superior rebounded with a 12-win month and swung a volley of trades to shore up its bullpen, defense and bench and add a solid third baseman.

Continue reading