Slugger Adam Wainwright provides ‘silver’ lining for Hypno-woes

Wainwright

New New York pitchers racked up 173 at-bats in 2017 as the team absorbed a 103-loss season, 37 more losses than in 2016.

That’s 173 at-bats more than Bushwood, Destin, Margaritaville, Satellite Beach and Springfield pitchers had combined. Those NNY pitchers hit just .133. But there’s reason for optimism in … wherever New New York is located.

Pitcher Adam Wainwright won a Silver Slugger award. Adam Wainwright is 36 years old. He had a 1.50 WHIP in 2017. He is two years past his expiration date. But will his bat (.262 average, .731 OPS) keep him with the Hypnotoads for 2018 as they ponder their retention list??? In a league that uses the DH?

Wainwright could be a valuable bat off the bench in a key at-bat-saving situation. He joins Jose Ramirez to form a pair of Silver Sluggers on the Hypnotoads, making New New York one of seven I-75 League clubs with two such honorees. The others are West Atlanta, Margaritaville, Destin, Bushwood, Savannah and South Grand Prairie.

Landing one Silver Slugger each was Applegate, Tatooine, Superior and Satellite Beach.

Four players — West Atlanta’s Eric Hosmer and Marcell Ozuna, South Grand Prairie’s Paul Goldschmidt and Savannah’s Nolan Arenado — have both Silver and Gold on their mantels, having won Gold Gloves in addition to their Silver Slugger.

Destin can brag that it made a deadline deal to land one of its Silver Sluggers in Justin Upton, stripping him from Boulder, which was blanked in the selections. Bismarck and Springfield also failed to rack up a Silver Slugger winner.

Pos. Player I-75 team Player I-75 team
1B Eric Hosmer WATL Paul Goldschmidt SGP
2B Jose Altuve SATB Daniel Murphy TAT
3B Jose Ramirez NNY Nolan Arenado SAV
SS Francisco Lindor MARG Corey Seager SUP
OF Aaron Judge APPL Marcell Ozuna WATL
OF Justin Upton DES Giancarlo Stanton SGP
OF George Springer BUSH Charlie Blackmon SAV
C Gary Sanchez MARG Buster Posey BUSH
DH, P Nelson Cruz DES Adam Wainwright NNY
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For the Love of Glove: Here’s who owns the finest fielders

The Rawlings Gold Glove awards were announced Nov. 7. Here’s a look at I-75ers who have players who brought home the hardware, making those players likely to earn a 1 rating at their Gold Glove position when ratings come out in December. Once again voters failed to recognize any designated hitter.

Springfield and West Atlanta snagged three Gold Glovers each, while Bismarck, South Grand Prairie and Savannah landed two players each.

One player, catcher Martin Maldonado, is a free agent available to the highest bidder in the 2018 I-75 League draft.

Pos. Player I-75 team Player I-75 team
1B Eric Hosmer WATL Paul Goldschmidt SGP
2B Brian Dozier BOUL D.J. Lemahieu SGP
3B Evan Longoria WATL Nolan Arenado SAV
SS Andrelton Simmons SUP Brandon Crawford SPR
LF Alex Gordon SPR Marcell Ozuna WATL
CF Byron Buxton APPL Ender Inciarte SPR
RF Mookie Betts MARG Jason Heyward BSK
C Martin Maldonado FA Tucker Barnhart DYER
P Marcus Stroman SAV Zack Greinke BSK

Obtuse playoff pairings set

The 2017 six-team playoff field is set after Tatooine defeated Destin 3-2 in 11 innings in a Game 161 tiebreaker tilt.

The oddity of a division champion with a losing record results in a playoff matchup in which the team with the better record does not have the homefield advantage. The matchups:

No. 6 Tatooine (86-75) vs. No. 3 South Grand Prairie (78-82)
Winner takes on No. 2 Boulder (91-69)

No. 5 Superior (88-72) vs. No. 4 Springfield (93-67)
Winner takes on No. 1 Margaritaville (106-54)

The other oddity is fourth-seed Springfield entering the playoffs with a better record than second-seed, bye-earning Boulder. Instead it must duel with Superior, the league’s hottest team and the team it lost to for the World Series last year.

Eight of the 10 teams in the West and North Divisions posted better records than the playoff-bound Warriors, including three who didn’t make the playoffs.

Everyone starts the playoffs with a 0-0 record though, so watch this space for the exciting outcomes!

Game 161 to settle final playoff participant

Winning their last three consecutive do-or-die games in their season finale with Boulder, the Destin Beach Bums climbed to the 85-win mark, tying Tatooine for the sixth and final playoff spot, necessitating a Game 161 to determine who advances and who is done for the year.

Tatooine will host the game by virtue of its 8-2 season edge over Destin in head-to-head play. If Tatooine gets in, the Rebels will have earned a playoff berth in their first year in the league.

The other five participants are locked in:

No. 1 seed Margaritaville, winner of the Northbound Division with 106 wins. It’s Margaritaville’s first playoff appearance since 2014. The Volcanoes get a first-round bye.

No. 2 seed Boulder, winner of the Westbound Division with 91 wins. It’s Boulder’s first division championship and second straight playoff appearance. The Tree Huggers get a first-round bye.

No. 3 seed South Grand Prairie, winner of the Southbound Division with a 78-82 mark. It’s the second straight playoff appearance for SGP. The Warriors will play the winner of the Destin-Tatooine play-in game; the winner of that series takes on No. 2 seed Boulder.

No. 4 seed Springfield, which had the league’s second-best record at 93-67. It’s the third straight playoff appearance for Springfield. The Isotopes host No. 5 seed Superior in a rematch of the 2016 World Series participants, with the winner advancing to face No. 1 seed Margaritaville.

No. 5 seed Superior, defending World Series champs, who went 27-13 in the final two months to finish at 88-72. The Titans play Springfield, with the winner taking on the Volcanoes.

Falling short in the playoff pursuit was Applegate, which went 5-15 in October and stumbled home with 82 wins, and Bushwood, which went 9-11 in October and generally failed to capitalize on several player moves at the trade deadline, finishing with 83 wins.

SGP’s title marks the first time since the league went to divisional play that a team has won a division with a sub-.500 record.

Clip Files for October

By finishing 82-78, the Clips posted their sixth straight season with a winning record, the longest such active stretch in the league. Applegate’s catastrophic October knocked it from a position in which it was tied for the fifth playoff spot with 20 games left, to a finish 3 1/2 games behind the sixth-place seed. “You can’t expect to make the playoffs when you go 5-15 twice in the same year,” said Manager Gary Kicinski, referencing the matching disaster from July. The Clips had to resort to using long-reliever Jhoulys Chacin as their fifth starter in October, but after getting bombed in his first outing, Chacin came back to allow three earned runs or less in five innings or more in his other three starts, going 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA on the month. No, the problem was normally reliable Kyle Hendricks (0-3, 5.32), Johnny Cueto (0-4, 7.14) and Drew Pomeranz (0-2, 5.33) who gagged big time in October. … Josh Donaldson also was nowhere to be found when the team needed him most, hitting .160 on the month, which included an 0-for-Destin series (17 ABs). … The Clips got saves from eight different players this year. … Applegated ‘maxed out’ its IP limits on nine pitchers — Ryan Buchter, Tyler Chatwood, Johnny Cueto, Tyler Glasnow, Kyle Hendricks, George Kontos, Andrew Miller, Drew Pomeranz and Stephen Strasburg. It also wrung every AB out of Willson Contreras, Greg Garcia, Hunter Pence and Neil Walker. … Kole Calhoun had the most disappointing year among the position players, starting all 160 games but hitting just .229 (.271 in real life) with six homers (18 in real life). … Applegate’s fourth-best league ERA of 3.89 was not enough to offset an offense that progressively weakened over the year, finishing with a 13th-best .249 batting average and 13th-best home run total of 160. … Only three teams drew more walks than the Clips’ 582 though. … Billy Hamilton lead the league in stolen bases at 51 and finished tied for the league lead in sacrifice hits with Bismarck’s Alcides Escobar at 56. … In their final game of the year, with two outs in the ninth, the Clips sent Aaron Judge to the plate for his only AB of 2017, a symbolic gesture the fans recognized as a nod toward future possibilities. Judge, of course, struck out.

With 20 games to go, so much to think about

Is it time to tweak our playoff format?

For the second year in a row, it appears the way the standings will fall that it will be more advantageous to finish sixth than fifth or even fourth.

The sixth seed (the third wild-card team) faces the division winner with the third-best record, which at this point looks to most certainly be a team with a losing record, barring a 16-win October from Dyersville or South Grand Prairie.  Plus, the winner of that series would then advance to a second-round matchup that avoids virtually assured top seed Margaritaville.

On the other hand, finishing fourth or fifth pits you against a team that performed similarly this season, and your prize for winning that series is a date with postseason favorite Margaritaville.

DIVISION LEADERS W L Pct. GB
BOULDER 81 59 .579
MARGARITAVILLE 92 48 .657
D’VILLE/SGP 65 75 .464
WILD-CARD RACE W L Pct. GB
SPRINGFIELD 80 60 .571 +3
APPLEGATE 77 63 .550
TATOOINE 77 63 .550
SUPERIOR 75 65 .536 -2
BUSHWOOD 74 66 .529 -3
DESTIN 73 67 .521 -4

First things first though: OCTOBER! Races in two of our three divisions are still up for grabs. In the South, Dyersville and South Grand Prairie are tied for the lead, West Atlanta is two back and Savannah just four back. In the West, Boulder has opened up a four-game lead on Applegate and a six-game lead on Superior.

And there are six clubs in the thick of the wild-card race, with Springfield, Applegate and Tatooine currently holding down the three playoff spots, but Superior, Bushwood and Destin all one hot month away from claiming a berth.

Remember that the October schedule calls for intradivisional play. So Northbound wild-card contenders Tatooine and Bushwood both have to play Margaritaville and Superior, which currently hold the first- and third-best overall records.

Regardless, a potential scenario is unfolding where 9 of the 10 teams in the West and North could have a better final record than the champion of the South.

Should we tweak the playoff format going forward? Does division champion of our randomly drawn divisions matter, should we just take the six best records? Should we reseed matchups after the first round, so that the No. 1 seed would play the lowest remaining seed (possibly the sixth) instead of automatically the 4-5 winner?

Checking back on how last year’s sixth seed fared… No. 6 South Grand Prairie lost to No. 3 Springfield, and No. 5 Destin lost to No. 4 Boulder, so maybe it didn’t really matter.

Now then, as to whether it’s better to finish seventh than sixth… remember that our draft format gives all non-playoff teams an equal shot at the No. 1 overall pick. The first three picks are randomly drawn from the non-playoff teams, and then spots 4-9 are awarded in descending order of winning percentage.

Good luck to everyone down the stretch!

Clip Files for September

After bizarre swings of 5-15 in July and 15-5 in August, things evened out at 10-10 in September, giving Applegate 77 wins on the year. With four more wins in October, Applegate will post its sixth consecutive season with a winning record. … After Kyle Hendricks allowed just one hit in six innings en route to a 1-0 win in the series opener over Margaritaville, the Volcanoes proceeded to reel off four straight wins, outscoring the Clips 29-12. That outcome was responsible for the Clips being outscored 79-70 on the month. … Applegate stole 11 bases in September but also was caught 11 times. … Hyun-Soo Kim led the Clips in batting at .433.  Through 140 games he leads Applegate in hitting at .310. … Xander Bogaerts and Josh Donaldson each hit four homers as the Clips socked 22 for the month, holding opponents to 14. … Tyler Chatwood used up his remaining innings and suffered losses in all four starts, dropping to 11-13 on the year. … Andrew Miller went 2-0 with two saves in seven scoreless appearances. In nine innings of work, Miller allowed just two hits while fanning 11. … Reliever George Kontos, whose epic horrendous July (0-5, 11.88 ERA, 16 hits, eight walks in 8 1/3 innings) was a primary factor in the Clips’ 5-15 month, redeemed himself a bit with 10 scoreless innings in September. … The Clips carried an extra reliever in September and against Tatooine, six of the seven pitched scoreless ball, with Ken Giles the only one to allow runs. … Applegate pitchers have allowed just 121 homers, fewest in the league. … The Clips have fallen to 11th in batting average and 12th in homers, but still are fourth in the league in ERA and are are plus-71 in run differential.

Got notes like these on your team you’d like to see published? Email them by the fourth of the month.