Countdown to a Championship
I promised to provide our avid supporters some comments about the post-season tournament. There is no doubt that this year the teams appear more equal than I ever thought they would be.
We have had a lot of discussion about the pros-cons of “Tie” games. But really, the ties represent the balance we have from week-to-week and inning-by-inning of these hotly contested ball games.
So what is a Tie? You played a scheduled game. Neither team got a “Win” but they avoided a “Loss”. So that result has merit. You may not like it, but under circumstances (long games. hot weather, tired (exhausted) players), the result was always “accepted” when the game was declared a tie, at that time.
It is only after we start looking at final team standings that we all start playing the “what if” game. But in the HDL, at least for the past several years, the regular season team,with best record, has a difficult time repeating that trend in the tournament. So what everyone should strive for is to be the team with the worst won-loss record because, historically, that is the team that has had the most success in the post-season.
So now that the regular season is behind us, I would like to make a few more of my personal “opinions” to get everyone focused on how this 2015 HDL season will finish.
We have four teams who are all playing competitive baseball. Lomax Dodgers (11-5-2); CDS Athletics are (6-6-5); Peterbilt Cardinals are (7-9-1); Lost Pizza Orioles is (6-10-2) Dodgers and Orioles played 18 games. Cardinals and A’s only played 17 games.
Had the A’s and Cards played each other one more game, the only change is final stats is they could possibly have ended in a tie with 17 pts each. (Cardinals Win would bump their total to 17 points. Since a loss would not count against the A’s, their current 17 points would not change. If records were tied, head-to-head tie-breaker would give 2nd place seed to A’s based on beating Cardinals 3 games to 2 and only one tie!
Lomax Dodgers strength:
All season, the Lomax Dodgers have been the hardest team to get a win against. A solid mix of veterans and youth players who rarely make defensive mistakes has been their strength. Their aggressiveness on the basepaths puts pressure on opponents defenses, especially pitchers. Out of the league’s top 20 Batting leaders, the Dodgers have 7, with 2 of top 5 hitters competing for batting champion.(Brian Nilsen and Andrew Waddell)
Lomax Dodger Weaknesses:
If they have a weakness it is their pitching depends on the health of Andrew Waddell and Travis Hill who have combined to pitch over 100 innings. Travis Hill has had to fill-in more times than he probably should have due to strained shoulder problems and work schedules affecting Waddell availability. Everyone says Waddell will be on the mound for Dodgers during the play-offs. We shall see.
CDS Athletics Strengths:
The CDS Athletics has depended on a nucleus of nine players for almost every game, even though they have a roster of 12-13 players. With Juan-Jose Castillo having a tremendous year, both at the plate and on the mound, the A’s also have 6 of top 20 batting average players who can contribute a big hit at any time during an inning. Their “team’ approach and ability to come through in the clutch can’t be ignored.
The A’s play good defense but can have a lapse at anytime when they least expect it. Cory Morgan at 3rd base is having another solid year. Cory’s past struggles getting the ball to first base have been non-existent this year. The one position the A’s are vulnerable is behind the plate. Mike Morris is a better than average catcher but their are times his fatigue caused by his night job has contributed to his performance. The A’s need Morris to be sharp to handle their hard throwing pitchers.
Peterbilt Cardinals Strengths:
The Cardinals strength is hard to pinpoint. They have batters who can get on base and batters who can drive in runs. Three of top 6 Batters in HDL standings are on the Cardinals team. – Michael Hudson, Otis Edwards & James Skinner – all hitting over .400 Three other players, Oscar Zamudio, Paul Baioni, and Tim Wallenstrom are having productive years at the plate. Tim Wallenstrom has doubled his career batting average and hovering around .300. Having PW Burnett available has helped the Cards finish strong the 2nd half of the season, especially since James Skinner developed a sore arm for most of the season.
Peterbilt Cardinals Weaknesses:
Healthy and available pitching will likely be the Achilles heel of the Cardinals since learning that PW Burnett is traveling with the MLB Pirates to enjoy his brother AJ’s final season pitching opportunities. No one blames PW for missing his HDL games – if anyone had a brother going through this experience they would want to do the same thing. But how well the Cardinals do in post-season will come down to health of James Skinner. Avoiding defensive errors is critical when a teams pitching position is thin. It is not unusual for a HDL team to ride one pitcher all the way through a Play-off run.
Lost Pizza Orioles Strengths:
At the start of the 2015 season, the Orioles looked like the team to beat. Having 3 talented & experienced pitchers in Nick Harris, Jake Hatchett and Jodie Wolfe should have accounted for more wins than losses. The Orioles has plenty of players who can score runs and keep opponents from scoring. For a team with this much experience and talent it is difficult to believe they have 10 losses during regular season. The addition of Bo McMinn could boost the Orioles chances of winning. The only thing going for the Orioles is the “finishing Last” phenomenon. We shall see if the Orioles have what it takes to make a run during the tournament.
Attendance and injuries has been the number one problem for the Orioles. Lack of team speed is another detriment to Orioles scoring runs. Timely and situational hitting will be the key to Orioles scoring enough runs to win a play-off game.