These hitters will know no limits in 2019

(Editor’s note: Subsequent to this post, the league in December 2018 enacted a rule limiting all hitters and pitchers to 105% of their real-life at-bats or innings pitched, rendering this list moot.)

Every year a select group of hitters fall short of the magic “550” at-bat number to qualify as unlimited, but they nonetheless earn unlimited status by virtue of attaining 600 plate appearances. Here are those players for the 2019 I-75 League season (source: Baseball-Reference.com):

  1. Matt Chapman, 3B, Applegate (547 ABs but 616 PA): A fortuitous draft pick for the Paperclips, given that injuries limited current 3B Josh Donaldson to 187 at-bats.
  2. Stephen Piscotty, OF, New New York (546 / 605): Good season with 41 doubles and 27 homers, plus an .822 OPS for Year Two of the Hypnotoad Rebuild.
  3. George Springer, OF, Bushwood (544 / 620): Comparatively a down year for Springer but still a solid contributor.
  4. Michael Conforto, OF, Dyersville (543 / 638): Hit a career high in homers with 28, but a .243 average helped drag his OPS below .800.
  5. Lorenzo Cain, OF, Superior (539 / 620): After career highs in steals (30) and on-base percentage (.395), expect Cain to be a fixture atop the Superior lineup for 160 games.
  6. Jeimer Candelario, 3B, Tatooine (538 / 619): Switch-hitter is just 24 and still developing, hitting .224; Rebels can afford to let him develop with a stacked lineup and other options at third base.
  7. Chris Taylor, OF/2B/SS, Margaritaville (536 / 604): Versatility will remain valuable but lost 75 points on his OPS compared to 2017 (.850 to .775).
  8. Justin Upton, OF, Destin (533 / 613): Not counting his rookie year, Upton had a career low in doubles (18) but still hit 30 homers. Posted .807 OPS, but that was 94 points lower than last year’s career-high .901.
  9. Max Kepler, OF, Dyersville (532 / 611): Posted numbers very similar to 2017 (.319 / .408 / .427), but we’re guessing Dyersville was hoping for a breakout year.
  10. Brett Gardner, OF, Superior (530 / 609): Not counting his rookie year, Gardner posted career lows in on-base percentage (.322) and OPS (.690) and only swiped 16 bases.
  11. Jason Kipnis, OF/2B, Tatooine (530 / 601): If the Rebels were counting on a bounce-back year from Kipnis, they didn’t get it. He pretty much posted the same meager numbers as 2017. Rebels will have better options.
  12. Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Bismarck (527/ 606): Breakout year for Suarez with career highs in most key offensive categories, including homers (34), slugging (.526) and OPS (.892).
  13. Mookie Betts, OF, Savannah (520 / 614): Rumored to have had a pretty good year.
  14. Joey Votto, 1B, Margaritaville (503 / 623): Got his usual 100 walks and plus-.400 OBP, but dipped to just 12 homers.
  15. Mike Trout, OF, Boulder (471 / 608): The ultimate beneficiary of this rule, Trout played in just 140 games for the Angels, but can put a career-high and league-best OPS (1.088) to use every single game for the Tree Huggers.
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Three games separates six teams in furious battle for one final playoff spot

It’s the final month of the 2018 season, and while the race for the No. 1 playoff seed was long ago sewn up, the fight for the No. 6 seed has turned into a dogfight the likes of which the league has seldom seen in its 39-year history.

Aided by the ruling of two forfeits following the discovery of player limit abuse in September, our October showdown features six teams  — West Atlanta, Bushwood, Satellite Beach, Destin, Dyersville and Bismarck — separated by three games in contention for the final postseason berth.

Additionally, Superior sliced Applegate’s lead in the Westbound Division to just one game and Savannah’s lead over South Grand Prairie stands at two games in the Southbound Division.

After 140-game statistics were submitted, it was discovered that Satellite Beach’s Miguel Sano and Austin Jackson had already exceeded their player limits for the year by 16 and 21 at-bats, respectively. The Brawlers were assessed two forfeits for their infraction, dropping their win total from 76 (which would have left them holding the final playoff berth going into October) to 74, one game behind wild-card spot.

Sano and Jackson exceeded their at-bat totals by 16 and 21 respectively in series against Dyersville and East Cobb. Dyersville was awarded one forfeit victory, boosting its win total from 72 to 73 and strengthening the Treblemakers’ playoff hopes. East Cobb was not awarded a forfeit, however, as the Juice squeezed a few too many at-bats out of J.D. Martinez and Miguel Rojas that they weren’t entitled to — 3 and 14, respectively. This occurred in series against Satellite Beach and South Grand Prairie. East Cobb thus was deemed to have offset its gain vs. Satellite Beach with its infraction. South Grand Prairie was awarded a forfeit victory, giving the Warriors a more comfortable hold on the fifth playoff spot, and nudging them to within two games of the division lead. Further penalties could be dished out at the end of the season in accordance with the league penalty structure.

September also saw the Bismarck Bombers thrust themselves into postseason consideration with a 13-7 month, while West Atlanta’s 14-6 month enabled the Crush to tie the Gophers for the final playoff spot if the season ended today.

And so, with intradivisional play across the board in October, division crowns are at stake in two of the three divisions, and two wild-card spots are virtually up for grabs.

With 107 losses, New New York needs 13 losses to tie the New York Mets’ futility record of 120 losses set in 1962. The league record of 114, set by South Grand Prairie in 2012, is easily within reach.

WILD-CARD STANDINGS

DIVISION LEADERS W L Pct. GB
MARGARITAVILLE 93 47 .664
APPLEGATE 86 54 .614
SAVANNAH 81 59 .579
WILD-CARD RACE W L Pct. GB
SUPERIOR 85 55 .607 +10
S. GRAND PRAIRIE 79 61 .564 +4
W. ATLANTA 75 65 .536
BUSHWOOD 75 65 .536
SATELLITE BEACH 74 66 .529 -1
DESTIN 74 66 .529 -1
DYERSVILLE 73 67 .521 -2
BISMARCK 72 68 .514 -3