Lava Flow for June

If you played the Volcanoes in June, it might have seemed like Joey Votto was always on-base. For the month, Votto was 33 of 79 (.418 BA) with 14 walks and 1 HBP (.505 OBP) and 6 HRs (.722 SA). By Strat’s sabermetric calculations, Votto created 29.6 (of the Volcano’s total 110.9) runs in June. While the Volcanoes “created” 111 runs in June, they actually scored 101 runs. The Volcanoes left 155 runners on base in June, with 49 left on base in the Applegate series alone. Margaritaville won 12 games in June (4 against Tatooine, 3 against Bismarck and Satellite Beach, 2 against Applegate). The Volcanoes welcomed five new players in June: Andrew Cashner, Pat Neshek, Alex Claudio, Domingo Santana and Jarrod Dyson. The quintet of ex-Scorpions underwhelmed in their Volcano debuts. Cashner was 1-1 with a 7.25 ERA; Neshek was 1-1 with a 4.25 ERA (and 5 HRs allowed – 4 HRs to the Bombers); Claudio was 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA, Santana batted .183 (13 for 71) with a .326 OBP and .408 SLG. Dyson batted .290 with 2 HRs – a walk-off win against the Paperclips and a walk-off win against the Brawlers. The walk-off HR saved the Volcanoes in June play, as Chris Taylor added a 3-run walk off against the Rebels and Joey Votto’s 11th inning walk-off capped a comeback from 4 runs down in the 9th inning of game 5 against the Rebels. The walk-offs contributed to a 7-1 record for the Volcanoes in 1-run games in June play, offsetting a .260 team batting average, and a 5.05 team ERA in June play.

Disappointing so far has been Francisco Lindor’s batting. For the Indians in 2017, Lindor slashed 81 extra base hits (44 doubles, 4 triples and 33 home runs). For the Volcanoes in 2018, Lindor has slushed his way to 28 extra-base hits (18 doubles, 1 triple and 9 home runs). Lindor’s Volcano slugging is 132 points below his Indian slugging (.373 vs .505) and his OPS is 171 points below his Indian OPS (.671 vs .842). With his 2L card, Lindor has been surprisingly particularly pathetic against left-handed pitching. Against lefties, Lindor is 15 for 73 (.205 avg), with 2 doubles and 1 home run (.274 slugging) for a total OPS of .575.

With 51 wins at the halfway pole, the Volcanoes are on pace to win 102 games. In 2017, the Volcanoes had 49 wins through 80 games, and ultimately won 106. The 2017 team had scored 513 runs and allowed 433 runs through 80 games, the 2018 team has scored 435 and allowed 347. Through the first 80 games of 2017 David Ortiz hit .304 with 31 doubles and 27 HRs, scoring 57 runs and driving in 73. Big Papi’s bat is obviously missed, with the Volcanoes scoring 80 fewer runs. By deploying a deep bullpen the Volcanoes cut their runs allowed by 86 runs. So far in 2018 the Volcano bullpen has pitched 310 innings, and is on pace to pitch 620 bullpen innings. The 2017 team had a total of 522 bullpen innings pitched.

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Lava Flow for May

If you played the Volcanoes in May, it might have seemed like Joey Votto was always on-base.  For the month, Votto was 33 of 76 (.434 BA) with 13 walks and 3 HBP (.527 OBP) and 5 HRs (.737 SA).  Votto was other-worldly in his destruction of West Atlanta.  Against the Crush, Votto was 14 of 19 (.737 BA) with 4 walks (.800 OBP) and 2 HRs (1.211 SA).  By simple addition (.800 + 1.211), Votto’s OPS vs the Crush was 2.011.  The Volcanoes took 4 out of 5 from West Atlanta, outscoring them 27-17.  By Strat’s Sabremetric calculations, Votto created 19.6 runs vs the Crush.  … Compiling a “not-so-good” May was Khris Davis.  Davis hit 13 HRs in March and April play, but posted 0 HRs in May (along with batting 13 for 76 – for a .171 average – and 30 Ks).  … Joe “Five and Dive” Biagini filled his role to perfection in May, going 3-0 in his 4 starts, pitching 20 innings and allowing 20 hits, 4 runs (3 earned) and 0 HRs to post a 1.35 ERA. … The league caught up to Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen in May as each allowed 3 HRs in 10 IP (for a total of 6 HRs allowed by the dynamic duo in the month).  … The Volcano bullpen has posted an ERA of 2.79 through the first 60 games, which is a big part of how the Volcanoes’ team ERA of 3.75 leads the I-75 league.  In bullpen usage, Margaritaville leads the league with 222.7 relief innings pitched, and with 189 relievers used.  The league average is 185.6 relief innings pitched and 145.6 relievers used.  On a per-game basis, the Volcanoes use 3.15 relievers per game to pitch 3.71 relief innings.  The Volcanoes use each reliever an average of 1.18 innings per game, which is below the league average of 1.27.  Satellite Beach has the quickest “reliever hook,” allowing their relievers to pitch only 1.12 innings on average.  The Volcanoes are the only team to use an average of more than 3 relievers per game. … Applegate and Bismarck are tied for second at 2.77 relievers per game, and Superior is foruth with 2.72 relievers per game.  The East Cobb Juice are the most reliever-averse team in the league, using only 110 reliever appearances (1.83 per game) to pitch 137.7 innings (2.30 per game).  Earl Weaver’s Seventh Law is, “It is easier to find four good starters than five.”  In Margaritaville, we have updated this to, “It is easier to find eight good relievers than four good starters.”

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Lava Flow for April

May play saw the Volcanoes stumble against SGP (2-3), before rallying against NNY (3-2), ECU (4-1) and DBB (5-0). The 14-6 month gives the Volcanoes a 27-13 record on the season, three games ahead of their 24-16 record after two months of the 2017 championship season.

A surprise in the 2018 season has been the bullpen-led pitching staff, leading the league in allowing the fewest earned runs (150), fewest hits (302) and lowest batting average against (.228). The bullpen has been the backbone of the pitching staff, pitching 143 innings through the first 40 games, and compiling an ERA of 2.58 versus the 214 IP and 4.57 ERA of the starters.

Stellar in the bullpen so far have been Kenley Jansen (0.73 ERA) and Aroldis Chapman (0.84 ERA). Since being drafted with picks #23 and #30 in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft, Jansen and Chapman have pitched 713 1/3 innings for the Volcanoes, giving up 534 hits and 297 walks while striking out 1,029, and recording 210 saves and an ERA of 3.22.

The Volcano offense is led by the 1-2 punch (they normally bat first and second) of Joey Votto (.350/.447/.541, 40 runs, 16 RBIs) and Kris Bryant (.338/.457/.629, 40 runs, 35 RBIs). Khris Davis has moved out of his 2017 left field platoon with Ichiro Suzuki and responded with a team-high 13 HRs and second-on-the-team 30 RBIs.

The Volcanoes continue to “lead” the league with zero sacrifice bunt attempts. Earl Weaver’s “Fifth Law” – “If you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get” is inscribed in capital letters in the Volcano dugout. Playing for the big inning, the Volcanoes lead the league with most games with 10+ runs scored (10).

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Lava Flow for March

After 2018’s “Dream Season,” there were a couple holes to patch in Margaritaville. We said good-bye to David Ortiz’s MVP season of 45 HRs and 136 RBIs, and Wilmer Flores’ 17 HRs in 151 lefty-mashing at-bats. We also penciled in greatly reduced roles for Jon Lester (76 IP, 2.45 era after his trade-deadline pick-up) and Wilson Ramos (34 HRs and 95 RBIs).

The draft filled some holes in the outfield (Chris Taylor, Mitch Haniger), in the starting staff (Dinelson Lamet) and the bullpen (Mike Minor, Mychal Givens, Cory Gearrin). How would the offense measure up to 2018’s 996 runs and 314 HRs? Is there enough pitching in Margaritaville for a 2018 playoff run?

March provided some optimistic answers to those questions. In winning 13 and losing 7, the Volcanoes led the league in runs scored (122), home runs (38) and fewest runs allowed (73). Leading the offense again was Joey Votto, slashing .392/.473/.658 while scoring 21 runs and driving in 11. Kris Bryant had 7 HRs and 16 RBIs while Gary Sanchez (now a full-time catcher after his rationed 2017 at-bats) hit 6 HRs and led the team (and the league) with 19 RBIs.

While the offense continued to produce runs, March’s biggest surprise was the effectiveness of the Volcano pitching staff. It is still a bullpen-led group (3.83 ERA for the starters, 2.82 ERA for the relievers) with its 73.1 IP second only to Superior’s 75 bullpen innings. Lamet was a nice draft-day pickup, going 2-1 in his 4 March starts, and on the front-end of Margaritaville’s first-ever no-hitter. Brandon McCarthy and Cole Hamels proved their trade-worthiness, going 6-0 in their eight March starts. After going 22-16 in one-run games in 2017, the Volcanoes played nine one-run games in March, going 4-5. In a league that has gone sac-bunt crazy (113 attempts for the league in March play), the Volcanoes were the only team NOT to attempt a sacrifice bunt. The Volcano defense continues to be a strength, converting 82% of their x-chances (third in the league).

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Lava Flow for July

July saw the Volcanoes post their second consecutive 14-6 month, raising their record to a league-leading 63-37 after 100 games.  Offense continues to drive the Volcanoes, with 634 runs in their first 100 games (on-pace for 1014 runs on the season).  David Ortiz, Robinson Cano, Kris Bryant and Joey Votto continue to drive the Volcano offense, ranking 1-2-4-5 in Hal’s MVP voting.  Looking at the season record book, Margaritaville has a hand in dominating the “most runs 1-team” category – its opponents rank #’s 1, 2 and 3 (Tatooine scoring 26 runs against Marcus Stroman, Boulder scoring 20 runs against Stroman, and Savannah scoring 17 runs against Adam Wainwright).  At the trade deadline, the offending parties were rewarded with trades:  Stroman to Savannah for Jon Lester and Wainwright to New New York for Matt Moore.  The re-worked starting pitching should bolster the Volcanoes’ drive through August, September, October and into the playoffs.  The Volcanoes also “welcome home” Andrew Triggs, who was traded to Savannah in May after posting a 4-0 record but was unused by Savannah in June and July play.

In a surprising complement to their power bats (203 HRs), Volcano basestealers (primarily Francisco Lindor, Mookie Betts, Ichiro Suzuki and Keon Broxton) are leading the league with an .828 efficiency (48 steals in 58 attempts).  This is partly driven by a conservative approach on hit-and-run attempts (only three on the season).  The Volcanoes have also been conservative in advancing on the basepaths, creating only two outs in 107 potential base-advance situations:

BRC BRA BRO Out %
Mar 107 35 2 1.9%
Sup 112 47 5 4.5%
Sgp 105 55 9 8.6%
Bol 91 38 8 8.8%
Sav 68 29 6 8.8%
Apl 95 38 10 10.5%
Tat 101 57 11 10.9%
Spr 91 42 10 11.0%
Nny 71 32 8 11.3%
Dye 91 35 11 12.1%
Des 81 31 11 13.6%
Bus 91 37 13 14.3%
Sat 103 32 15 14.6%
Bis 73 16 12 16.4%
Wat 76 34 13 17.1%

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Lava Flow for June

Rounding the halfway pole at 80 games, the Margaritaville Volcanoes continue to head for offensive records in the I-75 League. After 80 games the Volcanoes have scored 513 runs (on pace for 1,026 runs) and hit 165 HRs (on pace for a league-record 330 HRs). In the retention era, only three teams have topped the 1,000-run barrier: the 2005 Littleton Lumberjacks with 1,171, the 2005 Bushwood Gophers with 1,087 and the 2008 Bushwood Gophers with 1,063. In this same period, only four teams have topped the 300-homer barrier: the 2008 Bushwood Gophers with 325, the 2007 Bushwood Gophers with 320, the 2005 Littleton Lumberjacks with 306 and the 2004 Brooklyn Excelsiors with 302. Post-15-team expansion (2012), the season records are 970 runs from the 2013 Margaritaville Volcanoes, and 273 HRs from the 2013 Bushwood Gophers.

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