2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,300 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Hickory reigns as 2011 I-75 League champs!

Mike WIlson's Hickory Nuts take home the trophy for 2011The Hickory Nuts completed the most improbable run to a world championship since — well, since the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals — when they knocked off the Margaritaville Volcanoes in seven games to rule the I-75 League roost for 2011.

Having finished a distant third in the Northbound Division, the Nuts’ postseason run included conquests of three consecutive higher-seeded teams, not unlike the 2011 Cardinals, a wild-card winner who earned their playoff spot on the last day of the regular season.

It was the first-ever postseason crown for Hickory, which joined the league in 1991.

Down 2-1 in the series to Southbound playoff champion Margaritaville, the Nuts scored back-to-back key victories, pounding the Volcanoes 18-2 in Game Four, then squeaking out a 7-6 win in 10 innings in Game Five on an RBI single by Kendry Morales.

After Margaritaville forced a Game Seven with a 2-1 win in Game Six (both runs scoring on David Wright solo homers), the Nuts spotted the Volcanoes a 3-0 lead and came back to win 9-4. A four-run sixth inning swung the tilt in Hickory’s favor.

Hickory had earlier defeated second-place Bushwood and first-place Superior in playoff battles.  The seven-game win over Bushwood included road victories in Games Six and Games Seven. The win over Superior took six games, including a bounce-back from a 2-1 deficit.

Congrats to the 2011 league champion Hickory Nuts and manager Mike Wilson!!!

Numbers behind the Nuts’ playoff victory

Hickory manager Mike Wilson has compiled some additional statistics they help tell the tale of the Nuts’ seven-game first-round playoff win over the higher-seeded Bushwood Gophers.

Bushwood

BOO:   Starting Pitchers  31.2 IP, 41 hits,  28 runs, 26 earned 7.39 ERA
YEA:    Bullpen  30.1 IP, 21 hits,    5 runs,  3 earned 0.90 ERA  (WOW–Dave should have gone to his bullpen after 3 runs immediately!)

BOO:  Thome, Hart, Pujols and Utley hit a combined 17 for 101 for .168 BA and 8 RBIs
YEA:   Rolen, Hammy and Delmon Young went 26 for 78, .333 and 16 RBIs

Hickory

BOO:  Wainwright 0-2 5.65 ERA; Casilla and Clippard 5.1 IPs, 7 earned runs, 5 HRs 
YEA:  Hernandez 25 IPs, 24 hits, 12 runs, 8 earned, 2.88 ERA

BOO:  Mora, Jackson, Pedroia, Headley: 10 for 73 for .137 BA. 2 errors
YEA:   Suzuki, Tabata, Huff, Werth:  32 for 86 for .372 BA 14 runs scored and 12 RBIs

Finally! 2011 season is semi-officially complete

The Superior Titans and Wisconsin Warhawks are the division champs of the I-75 League for 2011 and have earned first-round byes for the playoffs.

Wisconsin defeated Margaritaville 5-4 in a one-game playoff to settle first place in the Southbound Division. Earlier, Applegate beat Savannah in a one-game playoff 4-3 to determine the third-place finisher.

Wisconsin had finished one game ahead of Margaritaville in the standings, but was ordered to forfeit one game for having started Roy Halladay eight games in the month of September, including three times on insufficient rest.

So, pending further review of final stats for any other rule violations or player abuse that could lead to additional action, the playoffs shape up this way:

Southbound Division
(3) Applegate vs. (2) Margaritaville
Winner plays (1) Wisconsin

Northbound Division
(3) Hickory vs. (2) Bushwood
Winner plays (1) Superior

Division champions meet in the 2011 World Series.

Preseason predictions prove pretty accurate

Looking back at our preseason predictions, we find that we fared pretty well in forecasting the outcome of both divisions.

In the North we picked Bushwood, Springfield and Superior as playoff teams and for Hickory to finish fourth; the Isotopes offense proved to be more miserable than we anticipated, and the Nuts claimed that playoff bid.

In the South, we picked Wisconsin, Margaritaville and Savannah; Savannah only missed the postseason by virtue of losing a one-game playoff in a tie for third, so we’re pretty happy with how that prognostication turned out.

We had Springfield and Savannah rated as having the best pitching in their respective divisions, but perhaps we applied too much weight to that factor, as it didn’t pay off in playoff berths, even though their pitching performed as advertised.

Here we go! Races aplenty with 20 to play

Our 32nd I-75 League season is coming down to the wire with dramatic races on multiple fronts:

* Atop the South Division, Margaritaville and Wisconsin are deadlocked with 78 wins. At stake is not only a division title, but a treasured first-round bye in the playoffs. The two clubs will face off in a five-game series on Wisconsin’s turf.

* Atop the North Division, Bushwood has closed the lead on Superior, trailing by just one game with 20 to play. But they will not meet head-to-head this month; instead they have four common opponents: Hickory and Chatfield at home; Bismarck and Springfield on the road.

* Unless it pulls off a 17-3 month or a 6-14 month — which it has already proven itself capable of doing — the Hickory Nuts appear to be a lock for third place in the North. But in the South, Savannah holds just a two-game margin over Applegate for the third playoff spot, with South Grand Prairie lurking merey three more games back. Savannah and Applegate will knock heads directly this month, and they have South Grand Prairie and Margaritaville as common opponents. But Applegate has Detroit (already played, with the Clips taking 3 of 5), while Savannah has Wisconsin, for one of its series.

Managers are encouraged to update the league with progress of their series as they are played in October, by inputting series results into the Google document on the left (where it says “Input series records here”), or by e-mailing the league.

Ties at the top of both divisions with 60 to play

Update, 10:50 p.m.: Wisconsin engineered a 10-player deal with Savannah to strengthen its playoff push, plucking a pair of 1-rated fielders for the left side of its infield and fortifying its bullpen. It was one of four deals consummated in the four-hour marathon trading session — none involving Margaritaville or Chatfield.  Trade deadline recap here.

Nearly lost in the buzz about trade deadlines and expansion formats is the fact that we have exciting races in both divisions with 60 games to play.

Wisconsin and Margaritaville are tied atop the South Division with 53 wins each, while Hickory, Superior and Bushwood are engaged in a three-way headlock atop the North Division.

Wisconsin got a first-hand look at the Northerners’ might in July, going 3-7 against Hickory and Superior en route to a 7-13 month. That included just one win in a head-to-head battle with Margaritaville.

Superior was the big winner on the month, racking up 14 wins. The balance of power has resulted in the oddity in which the last-place team in the South (Detroit, with 41 wins) is closer to first place in its division (12 games behind) than the fourth-place team in the North (Springfield, with 49 wins) is to third (15 games behind).

Hickory, Bushwood and Margaritaville have swung deals to bolster their playoff stock. What else could happen as we count down the final hours until rosters are locked until the end of the regular season?