With 60 games to play, expect a whole new look to postseason field

So about that “playing for next year” strategy… it seems like it might actually work.

If you look at last year’s final standings and compare them to the current league standing, we are witnessing a near-total overhaul of the league’s power elite.

At the 100-game mark, all three division leaders are enjoying worst-to-first seasons. Boulder has 62 wins at the 100-game mark after amassing just 50 all of last season. New New York had the worst record in league history last year with 124 losses, more than the 1962 New York Mets, but now has 61 wins and a five-game lead. Tatooine won just 60 games in bringing up the rear of the Northbound Division; the Rebels already have 56 wins this year.

And the leaders in the wild-card race are Satellite Beach, which had a good year last year but missed the playoffs; and Dyersville, which missed the playoffs as well but that was on account of a Game 161 tiebreaker loss.

So the current top five teams record-wise were not in last year’s playoffs. The team holding down the sixth spot, Margaritaville, obviously was, capping off its second straight 106-win season by repeating as World Series champions. This year, at the moment, the Savannah Scorpions and Applegate Paperclips are hot on the Volcanoes’ heels (just one game back with 60 to play), while Superior trails by three and South Grand Prairie by six.

If you look at run differential though, it seems the success of Margaritaville (-25) and Applegate (-45) could be smoke and mirrors; Savannah (+32) and Superior (+10) both have significantly better marks in this category.

Of course, the other wild card in the wild-card pursuit is the potential shifts in balance of power as teams face the July 28 trade deadline. Teams will not only be jockeying for position to get into the playoffs, but also trying to position themselves for the run at the crown.

WILD-CARD STANDINGS

DIVISION LEADERS W L Pct. GB
BOULDER 62 38 .620
NEW NEW YORK 61 39 .610
TATOOINE 56 44 .560
WILD-CARD RACE W L Pct. GB
SATELLITE BEACH 57 43 .570 +3
DYERSVILLE 56 44 .560 +2
MARGARITAVILLE 54 46 .540
SAVANNAH 53 47 .530 -1
APPLEGATE 53 47 .530 -1
SUPERIOR 51 49 .510 -3
S. GRAND PRAIRIE 48 52 .480 -6

Emergency Top 15 update: Keston Hiura is on fire

Forget everything we said about projected No. 13 pick Keston Hiura, second baseman for the Brewers, having an unimpressive season at the plate. Check out what he’s done in his last 10 games:

Can you read that? (Click on it to go to his page if you can’t.) His batting average has jumped 71 points and his OPS has skyrocketed 192 points! If the draft were held July 20, we’d bump him up to No. 6.

If the season ended today and the draft were tomorrow…

(Edit: Steve Hart correctly pointed out that Howie Kendrick is on Satellite Beach’s roster… I have updated the rankings to remove Kendrick at 14, bump Jay Bruce to 14, and insert Hunter Pence at 15. We apologize for the oversight.)

…here are the top 15 players on my list who’d go in the first round of the 2020 I-75 League draft. And why.

Retreads

15. Hunter Pence, OF/DH, Texas. Because even though he’s 36, he’s raking like it’s 2013, hitting .294 with a .353 on-base percentage, a .608 slugging percentage and a .961 OPS. One of only three draft-eligible players with enough qualified at-bats who has a slugging percentage over .600. The other two rank 1-2 on this list.

14. Jay Bruce, OF/1B, Philadelphia. Because he’s got 24 homers in 268 at-bats and nearly identical slugging and OPS splits vs. lefties and righties (overall, .575 and .867).

Because they’re prospects

13. Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee. Because the league has a love affair with prospects even if they haven’t done much yet. Hiura has just 101 ABs so far and unremarkable hitting stats (one double? five walks?) but his range factor of 4.65 would be second-best in baseball (behind Kolten Wong) at second base if he had enough qualifying at-bats, so maybe he’ll be a 1? Who knows, I’ve given up projecting fielding ratings. Scouting report says high average, medium power, medium fielder, pretty much opposite of what he’s displayed.

NIck Senzel

Senzel

12. Nick Senzel, CF, Cincinnati. Because the league has a love affair with prospects even if they haven’t done much yet. Senzel is looking good against lefties (.973 OPS), struggling against righties (.703). Former No. 2 overall pick who has moved to the OF from 3B/2B. Scouting reports says his best quality is ability to hit for average; at .263 in 213 at-bats he has room to grow. As a center fielder, fielding rating may bump him up or drop him down from 12.

11. Eloy Jimenez, LF, Chicago White Sox. Because the league has a love affair with prospects even if they haven’t done much yet. This one though is only 22, with prodigious power yet not much of a fielder, scouts say. So far he’s clubbed 16 homers in 228 at-bats, but is hitting just .241 and his on-base percent is just .303. With 72 whiffs, he’s your prototypical all-or-nothing slugger. Continue reading

Lava Flow for June

June play continued the odd journey of the Volcanoes through their 2019 season. The Volcanoes posted their season-best 12-8 record, and at the end of the month found themselves tied for first place in the Northbound division. For the season, the Volcanoes have allowed more runs (436) than they have scored (399), yet have won more games (41) than they have lost (39). The Volcanoes have hit better against righties (.800 OPS) than against lefties (.764 OPS) yet have a better record against lefties (12-6) than against righties (29-33). The Volcanoes have batted with the bases loaded a league-leading 73 times and while their overall OPS is .792, with the bases loaded they have hit to a .914 OPS, leading to a league-leading 61 runs from bases loaded situations.

(The Hypnotoads lead the league in bases-loaded OPS with 1.012, but have only batted with the bases loaded 56 times, producing 52 runs).  Applegate’s (.608 OPS) and Bismarck’s (.545 OPS)  batters have turned to jelly with the bases loaded.

Continue reading