Applegate shocks Chatfield for 2015 World Series title

paperclipsIt will forever be known as “The Lomax That Derailed the Choo-Choos.”

With Chatfield up 3-1 in games and 2-1 in the fourth inning of Game Five, Troy Tulowitzki rolled into a lomax triple play, the Applegate Paperclips took the lead in the bottom of the inning and the Choo-Choos never scored in that game again.

The series went back to Chatfield for Games Six and Seven, but the Choo-Choos’ momentum never returned, as Applegate posted a 4-1 win in Game Six and 5-2 win in Game Seven to capture the 2015 I-75 League World Series title.

It’s the third World Championship for Gary Kicinski and Applegate, and second in four years, having also conquered Chatfield in the 2012 World Series. Applegate’s other World Series win came in 1996.

“I’m still stunned,” Kicinski said hours after the games. “To think we nearly threw in the towel on this team after April … we just were very fortunate in the last three games of the Series and had a lot of things fall our way at key moments.”

It was a bittersweet outcome for Chatfield, which lost a 3-1 series lead one year after watching a 3-0 series lead go down the drain to South Grand Prairie.

Applegate had started the season 15-25, but shook off two months of ineptitude to storm to an 82-38 record the rest of the way. A trade deadline pickup of Ken Giles from Hickory added 46 unblemished innings to an already-strong bullpen.

But Chatfield presented an even stronger team that had made even stronger trades to compile a deeper bullpen, built for the playoffs and backed by two of the best starting pitcher cards in the set and a lineup stacked with players who were great both offensively and defensively. The Choo-Choos were the postseason’s top-seeded team after a league-best 103-win season.

So when the Clips headed to Chatfield for Games Six and Seven, their expectations of winning both games to come home with the title were fairly faint.

Continue reading

Even distribution of Silver Slugger winners

Unlike the Gold Glove winners, which were clustered among a handful of I-75 League teams, a whopping 13 of our 15 teams can lay claim to one or more Silver Slugger returning to their team next year. The two teams shut out were Chatfield and Wisconsin.

Three clubs led the way by landing a pair of Silver Sluggers for their 2016 squad, headed by the formidable duo of Miguel Cabrera and Bryce Harper providing an impossible-to-pitch-around twosome for the Superior Titans.

Applegate also claims a pair, the left side of their infield taken with the fifth and sixth overall picks in the 2014 draft: Xander Bogaerts and Josh Donaldson.

Springfield takes home the third pair, slugging outfielder J.D. Martinez and Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford.

Four other Gold Glove players also proved their two-way-ness with Silver Slugger honors: South Grand Prairie’s Paul Goldschmidt, Satellite Beach’s Jose Altuve, Destin’s Dee Gordon and Savannah’s Nolan Arenado.

There’s one free-agent Silver Slugger available to be drafted: Switch-hitting DH Kendrys Morales, jettisoned by the Applegate Paperclips after the 2014 season, now projected to be re-drafted as high as No. 10 overall in our most recent non-mock draft.

Here’s the full rundown:

Pos. Player I-75 team
C Brian McCann Michigan
C Buster Posey Bushwood
1B Miguel Cabrera Superior
1B Paul Goldschmidt* S. Grand Prairie
2B Jose Altuve* Satellite Beach
2B Dee Gordon* Destin
3B Josh Donaldson Applegate
3B Nolan Arenado* Savannah
SS Xander Bogaerts Applegate
SS Brandon Crawford* Springfield
OF Mike Trout Boulder
OF Nelson Cruz Hickory
OF J.D. Martinez Springfield
OF Bryce Harper Superior
OF Andrew McCutchen Bismarck
OF Carlos Gonzalez Margaritaville
DH Kendrys Morales FA

15 for ’15: One UNBELIEVABLE fact about each team

The debate will rage for the ages.

What was the more impressive individual accomplishment of the I-75 League’s 36th season: Was it Jake Odirizzi’s 0.45 ERA for Michigan, or Emilio Bonifacio’s 1.13 hits allowed per nine innings for Destin/Bushwood?

Considering Bonifacio is a position player, you gotta give him the edge. Bonus points for pitching 4101 (and one-third) innings this year.

Wha-a-a-a-a-t???

Yes, through some statistical glitch that we’ve yet to figure out, our official league stats show those individual accomplishments for 2015. Odirizzi will no doubt take issue with any selection giving Bonifacio an edge over him, considering Odirizzi struck out 3,999 batters, somewhat obliterating the major league record of 383 (Nolan Ryan, 1973). No, we did not accidentally type an extra 9. He was one shy of 4,000.

But there is no shortage of legitimate, yet amazing statistics from the recently concluded regular season. Let us look back at them, one per team:

Applegate — The Clips stacked their lineup with plus-clutch hitter after plus-clutch hitter. Michael Brantley, Justin Turner, Russell Martin, all plus-8 against righties. Hunter Pence, plus-7. What did that get them? Seven clutch hits all year. The league average was 5.13. MYSTIFYING!!!

Bismarck — Catcher Michael McKenry matched his real-life homer and RBI totals exactly — 8 bombs and 22 RBIs in 156 at-bats. That’s not the amazing part. He did it while hitting 103 points below his real-life average: .212 vs. .315. ABSURD!!! Continue reading

Is your guy the ‘1’?

The Gold Glove awards are out, guaranteeing ‘1’ fielding ratings for at least the 18 players listed below. Who pulled in the most among I-75 League teams?

How about Destin, with a strong-armed catcher, a middle infielder who also led the league in batting average AND stolen bases, and a pair of corner outfielders with highly regarded throwing arms to boot? That would be Yadier Molina, Dee Gordon, Yeonis Cespedes and Kole Calhoun.

Springfield checks in with three — pitcher Dallas Keuchel, shortstop Brandon Crawford and left fielder Starling Marte. Hickory (1B Eric Hosmer, CF A.J. Pollock) and Bismarck (P Zack Greinke, RF Jason Heyward) landed two Gold Glovers each.

That leaves seven clubs (Boulder, South Grand Prairie, Satellite Beach, Michigan, Savannah, Applegate and Bushwood) with one player each and four clubs (Chatfield, Superior, Margaritaville and Wisconsin) who were shut out.

What does it all mean though? A year ago, Wisconsin and Bismarck led the way with three Gold Glove selections each. Bismarck made the playoffs. Wisconsin lost 94 games. Applegate, which won 97 games, had no Gold Glove winners, but five ‘1’ fielders, including four starters.

So it would seem that while valuable, Gold Glove winners make for just one component of a successful club.

Pos. Player I-75 team
P Dallas Keuchel Springfield
P Zack Greinke Bismarck
C Salvador Perez Boulder
C Yadier Molina Destin
1B Eric Hosmer Hickory
1B Paul Goldschmidt S. Grand Prairie
2B Jose Altuve Satellite Beach
2B Dee Gordon Destin
3B Manny Machado Michigan
3B Nolan Arenado Savannah
SS Alcides Escobar Applegate
SS Brandon Crawford Springfield
LF Yeonis Cespedes Destin
LF Starling Marte Springfield
CF Kevin Kiermaier Bushwood
CF A.J. Pollock Hickory
RF Kole Calhoun Destin
RF Jason Heyward Bismarck

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?

Continue reading

Six deserving teams for six playoff spots

Funny how these things work out sometimes, isn’t it?

Six teams with winning records. All six make the playoffs.

Nine teams with losing records. All nine miss the playoffs.

Two teams from each division are in. Three teams from each division are out.

Six quality teams qualified for the postseason, with Chatfield (103 wins), Applegate (97) and Springfield (94) winning their divisions, and Bushwood (97), Bismarck (89) and Savannah (87) earning wild-card spots.

The playoff pairings feature fourth-seeded Bushwood against fifth-seeded Bismarck, with the winner challenging Chatfield; and third-seeded Springfield squaring off against division rival and sixth-seeded Savannah, with the winner invading Applegate.

When your sixth seed heads into the playoffs with 87 wins, you know you have a strong field. (In recent years, teams have made the playoffs with as few as 83.) But not all six clubs come into the playoffs with the same head of steam.

Stock up: Applegate, 17-3 in October and owner of the league’s best record in the second half at 59-21, and a 28-12 record in one-run games. …  Bismarck, with 15 wins in October after 11 and 13 in its two previous months. Continue reading

What’s at stake in final month?

Is there drama to be had in the final month of our 36th season?

Not an awful lot, to be truthful.

Division races: Chatfield has an insurmountable 11-game lead in the West, Applegate has stretched its lead to six in the North, and Springfield has padded its margin over Savannah to four.

Wild-card race: Bushwood has a lock on one spot, up by 11, and Savannah looks pretty good with a four-win advantage. That leaves Bismarck hoping to fend off Superior for the third wild-card spot, with a three-win advantage going into October.

First-round bye: Chatfield also has effectively wrapped up one spot, and Springfield pulled two games ahead of Applegate with its 14-win September.

No. 1 overall draft choice: Hickory is in danger of blowing its shot at having the most balls in the draft lottery, recording just 10 losses in September. Margaritaville is making a late charge with a whopping 17 losses in September, and thanks to that forfeit loss earlier in the season, is now tied with Wisconsin with 84 losses, just two behind Hickory’s 86.

October means intradivisional play, so anything can still happen, but there will be lots of scoreboard-watching, so managers are urged to update the “Input Results” file (responsibility of the Game Five home team manager) as soon as series conclude.

 

DIVISION LEADERS W L Pct. GB
CHATFIELD 94 46 .671
SPRINGFIELD 82 58 .586
APPLEGATE 80 60 .571
WILD-CARD RACE W L Pct. GB
BUSHWOOD 83 57 .593 +11
SAVANNAH 78 62 .557 +4
BISMARCK 74 66 .529
SUPERIOR 71 69 .507 3

Springfield passes August test with flying colors

The Springfied Isotopes had a gauntlet to run in August, and not only did they survive, they prospered. And now with 40 games to go they find themselves atop a division.

Facing a brutal schedule that included three teams that were division leaders at the time, the Isotopes went 8-7 against those clubs (Chatfield, Applegate and Savannah), then bulked up with a 4-1 series win against Margaritaville for a 12-8 month that catapulted them ahead of Savannah for the Southbound Division lead.

Savannah, meanwhile, becomes one of the wild-card leaders, despite a losing record since the end of April. The Scorpions started the season at 28-12, and since have gone 9-11, 12-8, 9-11 and 9-11.

Meanwhile, Bismarck posted a 13-7 mark that not only allowed the Bombers to keep pace in their Northbound Division with the high-flying Paperclips (54-26 since starting the season 14-26), but gave them a three-game lead over Superior (10-10) for the third and final wild-card spot.

Chatfield and Bushwood also recorded 13-7 months as they continue to tune up for what look to be certain playoff positions.

Superior has a chance to regain ground in September, with three series against teams with 54 wins or less, as well as slumping Savannah.

DIVISION LEADERS W L Pct. GB
CHATFIELD 81 39 .675
SPRINGFIELD 68 52 .567
APPLEGATE 68 52 .567
WILD-CARD RACE W L Pct. GB
BUSHWOOD 75 45 .625 +12
SAVANNAH 67 53 .525 +4
BISMARCK 63 57 .525
SUPERIOR 60 60 .500 3
BOULDER 57 63 .475 6
S. GRAND PRAIRIE 55 65 .458 8
SATELLITE BEACH 55 65 .458 8
MICHIGAN 54 66 .450 9

Eight teams within six games of final wild-card spot

With 60 games to play in our 36th season, some of our teams that are ‘playing for next year’ might be surprised to learn they are just a handful of games out of a playoff spot.

Currently Superior and Bismarck are tied for the third and final playoff spot, both with 50-50 records. But six teams with losing records range from 4-6 games behind that final playoff spot.

Only five teams in the league own winning records at the 100-game mark, with Chatfield, Savannah and Applegate leading their divisions.

Bushwood leads the wild-card race with a record that is better than two of the division leaders, and Springfield is a solid second with 56 wins.

The Isotopes are the team to watch in August, with a brutal schedule that includes all three of the division leaders: Home against Chatfield and Applegate, and on the road against division rival Savannah, which leads the Isotopes by two games.

DIVISION LEADERS W L Pct. GB
CHATFIELD 68 32 .680
SAVANNAH 58 42 .580
APPLEGATE 55 45 .550
WILD-CARD RACE W L Pct. GB
BUSHWOOD 62 38 .620
SPRINGFIELD 56 44 .560
SUP/BSK* 50 50 .500
MICHIGAN 46 54 .460 4
BOULDER 46 54 .460 4
S. GRAND PRAIRIE 46 54 .460 4
MARGARITAVILLE 45 55 .450 5
SATELLITE BEACH 45 55 .450 5
WISCONSIN 44 56 .440 6

* tied for last playoff spot

In our 36th season, our first perfect game: Applegate’s Tim Hudson whitewashes Hickory

Applegate’s Tim Hudson hurled what is believed to be the first perfect game in the 36-year history of the I-75 League, holding Hickory without a baserunner — or even a close call — in a 6-0 victory July 3.

Hudson struck out nine and retired all 27 hitters he faced, striking out pinch-hitter Javier Baez to close the contest. Tim_Hudson_14Hickory had three split roll chances at singles, all at 1-10 odds or less, and missed all three.

Hudson, a 4e15 pitcher, also fielded a Pitcher (X) roll cleanly with one out in the ninth. Hudson, who improved to 7-5 on the year with a 3.18 ERA, was making his first start since May, having been inactive in June.

“I wasn’t even really aware he had a no-hitter going until about the sixth inning,” said Paperclips manager Gary Kicinski. “We grabbed an early lead and got our defensive guys in there early, and I noticed in the sixth Hudson hadn’t allowed a hit, but I couldn’t really remember if he’d walked a guy or not.” Continue reading

Photos from 36th annual convention!

Check out some of the action from Draft Central during the 36th annual I-75 League draft, held March 5-10, 2015 in Kissimmee, Fla.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For videos, check out the post below this one.

Best draft ever, 36th year running! Check out post-draft video recap

In a record time of four hours and 40 minutes, including a 33-minute pizza break, the I-75 League kicked off its 36th year with an 18-round draft on March 7, with eight managers selecting at Draft Central in Kissimmee, Fla., and seven more making choices remotely. Chatfield manager Phil Roselli opened the affair with the expected selection of Chicago White Sox slugger Jose Abreu, and South Grand Prairie wrapped it up with Mr. Irrelevant, Aaron Hicks. The season game file with updated rosters has been distributed, so check out your rosters and get ready to start your March games. Updated rosters will appear on the league Web site here over the next few days, but for now you can rely on the draft grid plus the winter rosters. After the draft we conducted post-mortem interviews with managers on site in Florida. Part One features recaps with managers Phil Roselli, Ken Crawford and part of an an interview with Mike Renbarger; subsequent videos feature individual interviews with Mike Renbarger, Mark Gergel, Dave Renbarger, Gary Kicinski, Steve Hart and John Renbarger.
 

 

 

 

 

 

With just hours to go, presenting the consensus Mock Draft!

With just hours to go before our 36th annual I-75 League draft, the managers in attendance in Kissimmee came up with this consensus mock draft.

1. Chatfield: 1B Jose Abreu. Best player available.

2. Michigan: 3B/OF Josh Harrison. Because manager Ken Crawford is a big Beatles fan.

3. Hickory: P Masahiro Tanaka. Best upside.

4. Superior: SS/CF Danny Santana. Fills two needs.

5. Springfield: 1B Steve Pearce. The lock of the draft.

6. Destin: OF J.D. Martinez. Club needs offense.

7. Chatfield: P Jake Arrieta. The rebuilding begins. Needs pitching desperately.

8. Applegate: OF Joc Pedersen. Best non-pitching prospect.

9. Bushwood: OF George Springer. Great power vs. righties.

10. Chatfield: P Carlos Carrasco. The rebuilding continues. Still needs pitching desperately.

11. Margaritaville: OF Gregory Polanco. Prospecting.

12. Margaritaville: OF Jorge Soler. More prospecting.

13. Bismarck: RP Dellin Betances. Best available.

14. South Grand Prairie: SP Collin McHugh. Desperate for starting pitching.

15. Chatfield: P Jacob deGrom. All of a sudden Chatfield is back in contention after three stud pitchers and the best available hitter in one round. And the Choos own pick No. 16 too.

Amazing cards to be on display in 2015 season

The ratings are out! The ratings are out! Some instant impressions (numbers are raw numbers):

Aroldis Chapman (Margaritaville) has NO hit chances on his card. Not on his left side. Not on his right side. Not a ballpark homer or ballpark single to be found. He does have 7 walk chances vs. LHBs and 21 vs. RHBs. Slightly offset by the 71 STRIKEOUT CHANCES vs. LHBs and 57 vs. RHBs.

A lefty available in the draft, Andrew Miller, has NO hit chances vs RHBs (including no ballparks), just 8 walk chances and 70 Ks.

Craig Kimbrell (Bismark) has NO hit chances vs. lefties or righties either (including no ballparks); his walk count is 13/19 but his strikeout count is 65/59.

A righty available in the draft, Dellin Betances, has NO hit chances vs LHBs (including no ballparks) and just 4.3 vs. RHBs. His walk numbers are 1/13, but his strikeout numbers go 71/60. He does lug around a +7 hold factor, but his most important number that puts all of this in context is this: 90 IP and a closer rating, albeit a C (0).

Continue reading

Abreu a Brawler? Satellite Beach earns top pick

Satellite Beach was the big winner and Superior the surprise winner in the I-75 League Draft Lottery that sets the order for our 2015 Draft.

Next up: Fielding ratings will be released Dec. 11; retention lists are due to be submitted by 10 p.m. ET Dec. 14.

The Brawlers, with the best chances (27%) of earning the first pick, did so with the automated selection using DraftLotto.com, thus putting themselves in position to draft heavy favorite Jose Abreu with the first pick — although manager Steve Nieroda immediately announced he would field inquiries for the pick.

Then came the surprise, as Superior, with only six balls (out of a remaining 120 in the bin, for a 5% chance) rolled the equivalent of a HR 1, flyout 2-20 and landed the second overall pick, where an ace pitcher such as Jake Arrieta could await. Then Hickory, with the best remaining odds in the bin at 36 / 114 (32%), landed the third pick. Starting pitcher stalwarts such as Masahiro Tanaka, Collin McHugh or Carlos Carrasco could be had with that selection, or a slugger like J.D. Martinez, or a prospect like Gregory Polanco.

According to league bylaws, after the first three picks, selections 4-9 revert to best winning percentage among non-playoff teams. That is followed by picks 10-15, featuring playoff teams in reverse order of winning percentage.

That makes the first-round draft order this: Continue reading

The Un-Mock Draft for 2015

Don’t call it a mock draft. We said we weren’t doing mock drafts anymore.

It can’t be a mock draft if we don’t have a draft order. We don’t know who is picking where at this point. (Well, we do know 10-15. But we don’t know the order of the top 9.) Therefore we feel safe in identifying 15 top players who could go in the first round without giving away any secrets.

Honestly this may be one of the least exciting — and most unpredictable — drafts we’ve had in awhile. We have less confidence in this non-mock draft than we’ve ever had: There aren’t a lot of good players who can contribute, there aren’t a lot of top prospects available, and most of the prospects who are available will have crappy cards.

There have been a lot of changes since our last not-a-mock-draft. Top prospect Oscar Taveras died tragically in a car accident after the season. Many other players in the second tier of the July list just flamed out. In fact, every player ranked 8-15 previously has fallen off the list this time around, and 9 players appear this time who were not on the July list.

Color us, meh.

1. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox (27) — This is the lock of the century. Abreu is not a prospect in the true sense of the word, but he had a phenomenal first year since coming over from Cuba, hitting .317 with 36 homers and a .964 OPS.  He’ll have one of the best cards in the set, not just among free agents. Previous: 1.

2. Jake Arrieta, SP, Chicago Cubs (28) — Arrieta finally fulfilled the promise he never realized as a highly-touted prospect with the Orioles. At 156 2/3 innings, he may only be good for 24 starts or so, but that .203 BAA, that 0.99 WHIP and that nicely balanced card will be hard to overlook. Previous: 5. Continue reading

What’s your club’s Star Quotient for 2015?

Major league baseball’s 2014 regular season awards have been handed out, which help provide a barometer to measure the returning strength of our clubs for the 2015 season.

The first thing that pops out at you is that Savannah had three pitchers score in the top five of the two leagues’ Cy Young voting: Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester and Jordan Zimmermann. That’s one heck of a pitching staff taking shape for the Scorpions next year.

Bismarck had a trio of Gold Glovers in Jason Heyward, Adrian Gonzalez and Zack Greinke, as did Wisconsin with fresher faces D.J. Lemahieu, Andrelton Simmons and Juan Lagares.

Satellite Beach will sport a hat trick of Silver Sluggers in Jose Altuve, Anthony Rendon and Justin Upton.

What does it all mean? We decided to score it and develop a Star Quotient. We took the MVP, Cy Young, Silver Slugger and Gold Gloves awards and assigned points to players who got votes/won awards by I-75 League team. In MVP, we gave one point to every player who finished in the top 10 in voting; in Cy Young we gave one point to every pitcher who finished in the top 5 in voting. Silver Slugger winners got a half-point for winning their position; Gold Glove winners got a quarter point. Here’s how it all totals up: Continue reading

Ten players who will be unlimited in 2015 under new rule

David Ortiz had just 518 at-bats in 2014 for the Boston Red Sox, which would have left him well short of the 550 level needed to achieve unlimited status in the I-75 League next year under the rule we’ve played with through the 2014 draft.

But this season, we voted in this rule:

Players who accumulated 550 or more actual at-bats or 600 or more actual plate appearances (effective starting the 2015 season) shall be unlimited in the League.

So the handcuffs are off the Chatfield Choo-Choos, who can trot Ortiz out as much as they want next year, thanks to Ortiz having accumulated 602 plate appearances. That includes 75 walks, 3 hit-by-pitches and 6 sac flies. Sacrifice bunts also contribute to a player’s plate-appearances total.

Here are the 10 players for 2015 who would have fallen short of unlimited stature had our previous rules of 550 at-bats been in effect, but now are unlimited because they attained 600-plus plate appearances. (This list is unofficial.)

Continue reading

Playing for next year? Here’s who your top choices are

With a record number of teams — even playoff-position teams — reputedly “playing for next year,” it’s time to take a look at just what next year looks like. At least the first round. It’s not a mock draft. It’s a snapshot of the top 15 players available as of the I-75 League 2014 trading deadline.

1. Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox — Right-handed rookie slugger from Cuba, age 27,  already has 30 homers, is hitting for average, gets on base, only three errors in the field.

2. Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, New York Yankees — Could go 1 or 2, or could drop way down if he has to have Tommy John surgery. Whiffed 135 in 129 innings with a 1.01 WHIP before resting his elbow. Only 25, should still go in first round regardless.

3. Oscar Taveras, RF, St. Louis Cardinals — Considered a top-5 prospect, only 22. Bats left. Hasn’t found his stroke yet with Cards, hitting just .214. Known for strong arm, good plate discipline. Continue reading