Oct 14, 2008

S9 AL Wild Card Standings @ 150 Games

With 12 games remaining in the season, three AL division winners have essentially been decided, including Pittsburgh and Cheyenne who have clinched their divisions, and the New York Cyclones who find themselves with a cushy six game lead over Clint Ramirez and the Washington Foo Fighters. However, including a tie atop the AL South (Charleston and Tampa Bay), six other AL teams find themselves legitimately in the AL playoff hunt. A brief discussion of the playoff hopefuls are presented below.

Charleston / Tampa Bay (Record: 82-68, tied for AL South lead, tied for Wild Card lead)
Perennial AL South heavyweight finds its run of six consecutive division championships in jeopardy as the upstart Lazer Beams look to hoist their first ever divisional flag. However, Tampa Bay will have to overcome a tougher remaining schedule to keep pace with the Chew-Baccas. Specifically, of the 12 remaining games, Tampa Bay plays nine games against contenders, whereas Charleston plays only five games against such teams. Ultimately, this could come down to the last three games of the season where the two teams will face off in Charleston.

Montreal (79-71, 3 GB Wild Card #1, Games Rem vs. Contenders: 9)
Given that the Valiants consider themselves in full rebuild mode, manager gophilsgo likely considers this season a success to find a Wild Card berth a real possibility. However, like Tampa Bay, Montreal finds itself with 9 of 12 against Wild Card contenders or divisional leaders, including two against Charleston, four against TB, and three against Pittsburgh. As discussed above, Charleston and Tampa Bay have a lot on the line, but Montreal may catch a break facing Pittsburgh, who could be resting up for the playoffs.

Washington (78-72, GB WC#1: 4, Rem vs. Cont.: 6)
The Foo Fighters look to bring playoff excitement to the Beltway for the first time in franchise history. Relative to the Valiants, Washington has an easier path to Wild Card glory as they face contenders three fewer times. Of these, three games are against the Cyclones, who have been battling fatigue and may be looking to rest up for a first-round matchup.

Salt Lake City (78-72, GB WC#1: 4, Rem vs. Cont.: 5)
If the Salt Lake City can pull out the last wild card slot, second year manager Caracarn may buckle to media scrutiny and finally answer two of Griffey’s more lingering questions: “What the hell is an Aiel Warrior?” and “Do they taste as good as waffles?” Whatever they are, the Aiel Warriors have five remaining games against contenders: two vs. Cheyenne and three vs. Pittsburgh. While facing off with the Junior Circuit’s heavyweights would seem a daunting task, both teams are likely to be playing at reduced strength as both have a first-round playoff “bye” practically in-hand.

Philadelphia – (77-73, GB WC#1: 5, Rem vs. Cont.: 5)
The Revolution have been relatively hot over the past ten games, posting a 7-3 record over that span. With three teams to hurdle for the last playoff spot, they’ll have to continue their solid play. While Philadelphia has only five remaining games against contenders, those include two against TB and three vs. Washington, who should be fighting to the last out of the season in Griffey.

To have this many solid contenders left in the season speaks strongly of the improved management seen in Griffey over the past few seasons. Given the tightness of the race, strength of the remaining schedule could be the most prevalent factor in weeding out the “coulda-beens.” As such, the favorites are as follows:

AL South Champ: Charleston Chew-Baccas
AL Wild Card (5th seed): Tampa Bay Lazer Beams
AL Wild Card (6th Seed): Salt Lake City Aiel Warriors.

Oct 8, 2008

S9 Power Rankings - 133 Games

1. San Antonio fighters (88-45, Run Differential: +278, Prev Rnk: 1)
San Antonio has scored the most runs of any non-Coors based team in Griffey. Not surprisingly, four fighters lead their positional races for the Silver Slugger award – C Alex Langston, 3B Dwight Meyers, SS David Murata, and LF Darren Charlton. Having held the top slot in the Power Rankings all season, the fighters look to be the World Series favorite in S9.

2. Pittsburgh Ponies (84-49, RD: +181, PR: 4)
The Ponies have been running neck-and-neck all season with the Duck Snorts, jockeying for the AL’s best record. Coming into the stretch, Pittsburgh trails Cheyenne by one game, but the Ponies dealt the defending AL Champs a three-game beatdown since the time of the last Power Rankings. Matt Ross bla bla bla, and not to be remiss, Dean Bukvich, bla bla bla – you’ve heard it before: these guys are more than a handful for any team facing them in a shortened playoff rotation.

3. Cheyenne Duck Snorts (85-48, RD: +234, PR: 3)
A trio of rookie standouts has helped Cheyenne maintain the AL’s best record. Lefty Norm Rapp ranks in the top ten for AL hurlers in the major rate categories (opponent AVG, OBP, and SLG as well as WHIP and ERA). With a .351 batting average, first baseman Pete Casian boasts Griffey’s longest hitting streak on the season. Victor Javier has belted 33 HR while swiping 22 bases.

4. Monterrey Rancheros (87-46, RD: +161, PR: 2)
The Rancheros, who previously held the second slot in the last Power Rankings, were dealt a severe blow in losing Chris McCarthy from their rotation. The young portsider had posted a miniscule 1.17 WHIP across 172 IP prior to the injury.

5. Fargo Fuzznuts (85-48, RD: +93, PR: 6)
A 27-13 record in one-run games coupled with a third-tier run differential suggests a strong team with a touch of “smoke and mirrors.” A tie for the third best record in Griffey, an eight-game lead in Griffey’s toughest division, and back-to-back NL Pennants says, “I got your smoke and mirrors right here, b%$#@.” Go figure.

6. New York Cyclones (77-56, RD: +141, PR: 7)
The Cyclones, boasting a dominating rotation featuring Terry Torres, Philip Black, and Miguel Perez, have limited AL opposition to the third lowest runs allowed. This fearsome rotation is balanced by the offensive feats of MVP candidate Richie Miller. Miller has thrashed AL pitching for a career best 1.033 OPS, while swiping 82 bases – an individual total which surpasses that amassed by 10 full teams in Griffey. As has been typical of past seasons, the Cyclones appear to be battling fatigue coming down the stretch.

7. Atlanta Ripettoes (79-63, RD: +117, PR: 5)
Perennial NL East frontrunner Atlanta has featured a top-shelf rotation, but has to be considered a second-tier contender in the NL due to a near league-average offense. Still, the division is theirs (the Ripettoes boast a 25 game lead in the division), and the Ripettoes will have more than a puncher’s chance of claiming NL glory.

8. Cincinnati Centipedes (77-56, RD: +123, PR: 8)
The centipedes have gone through a few rough patches since the last Power Rankings, including a seven game losing streak followed by a separate 4-9 stretch. While locking down a divisional title seems a stretch at this point, an offense featuring the likes of Pat Funaki (OPS: 1.057) and Pep Zentmeyer (OPS: .981) should be formidable from a Wild Card slot.

9. Chicago Cubs (73-60, RD: +147, PR: 9)
The Cubs boast the NL’s top two individual OPSs to date: Gabby Young (1.084) and Davey Hernandez (1.060). The Cubs have the misfortune of playing in the same division as Cincinnati and Fargo. Despite their strength, the Cubbies may be on the outside looking in as one Wild Card Slot will likely go to Monterrey.

10. Tampa Bay Lazer Beams (74-59, RD: +29, PR: 10)
The Lazer Beams still maintain a three game lead in the NL South over Charleston, but the Chew-baccas are a strong team and could pounce of Tampa slips. Tampa has been paced by AL Cy Young candidate Emmanuel Nieves, who has posted a 1.24 WHIP over almost 200 innings.

31. Colorado Springs Jack Rabbits (51-84, RD: -182, PR: ???)
The Jack Rabbits, Griffey's loveable nomads, may wander from city to city in the off season, but always manage to fight their way back to the AL West cellar. Contrary to form, however, Colorado Springs had been flirting with .500 for much of the season before Fate, neglecting her duty previously, set the Jack Rabbits on a 12-38 skid. In troubled times when $700 billion can be thrown around with nary a thought, such consistency anchors our reality and expectations. On that note, the "Seattle Anchors" seems to be a viable S10 choice...

Oct 3, 2008

Fully Operational

Our fearless league namesake takes on the Death Star....or stretches at the Trop.