Rocky Mountain Salary League
"Around The Horn"
At this point, we've played 72 game and we're nearing what would be our all-star break in inaugural season of RMSL. We've seen some stark changes since our last update- 45 games later- the standings have changed and wildcard races are in full swing. That doesn't mean that there aren't still contenders for first place-we've got two great races with teams vying for first in the Mickey Mantle and Johnny Bench Division.
Best Record: New Orleans: .708; Trenton: .634; Cohawkin: .583
Worst Record: Lake County: .333; Oceanside: .403; Federal Way: .403
Best ERA: New Oreans: 3.13: Cairo: 3.54: Cohawkin: 3.63; Trenton: 3.66
Worst ERA: Lakawanna: 5.92; East Gwinnett: 5.70; Federal Way: 5.47
Best Opponents Batting Average: New Orleans: .216; Trenton: .227; Cairo/Cohawkin: .234
Worst Opponents Batting Average: East Gwinnett: .295; Federal Way: .287; Lakawanna: .284
Best Average: Trenton: .287; West End .276; Lakawanna:.276
Worst Average: Lake County: .221; Indianaopolis: .240; Anelope: .245
Best Slugging: East Gwinett: .490; Trenton: .481; Painter Creek: .470
Worst Slugging: Lake County: .352; Indianapolis: .356; Antelope: .392
Best OBP: East Gwinett: .361; Lakawanna: .351; Trenton: .350
Worst OBP: Lake County: .285; Antelope: .301; Indianapolis: .309
Most Runs Scored per game: Lakawanna: 6.3 East Gwinnett: 6.2, Trenton: 6.0.
Least Runs Scored per game: Lake County: 3.2; Indianapolis: 3.7; Antelope: 3.8.
Mickey Mantle Division:
This Division has seen the most change since the last update- only Oceanside remains in the same place. We've seen East Gwinnett take a huge fall from it's commanding lead on first place all the way down to 4th. The Knife Fighters, though, won't likely hit rock bottom, as they are 6 games from the basement and 6 games from first. It has been their bats and offensive power that get them wins but they've lacked quality pitching and this might have a lot to do with their dive in the standings. Meanwhile, Syracuse and Kalifornia have established themselves as the two dominant teams in the division. Kalifornia is only 3 games out of first (but leading in the wildcard race). It looks like Syracuse pitching is the reason why they're dominate in this division, as they are the only team with an ERA under 4.00 (3.94). Kalifornia's team ERA is ranked second in their division at 4.41 and they lead their division in fielding percentage. Syracuse and Kalifornia do not have the offensive power- those titles go to East Gwinnett and Lakawanna. Oceanside, though in last place, is honorable in that they are mid-pack in every category: Oceanside is a scrappy team and able to mess things up for big-time teams.
Reggie Jackson Division:
Trenton and West End had long battled for the first place position in this division and after a lot of back and forth, Trenton has come out on top- 8 games on top over the Beats. Trenton has simply edged out West End with superior pitching and batting. Trenton dominates the division in most offensive categories (.287 average, .350 OBP, .481 SLG) and The Beats trail a short distance behind, in second place in those categories. Cascade remains competitive in the wild card race behind West End and Kalifornia. What's probably keeping Cascade competitive is their pitching, as they're right behind West End's 4.19 team ERA with a 4.27. Though, Cascade scores 5.7 runs per game to West End's 5.1. Federal Way is in the basement. Their aces (Musina and Pedro) have high ERAs. Bonds leads the pack with average and 22 homers. Painter Creek looks like their lost in aninimity in the RJD. They've hit the most home runs in the division (114) and hold a respectable batting average of .272 but haven't put together a winning record. They're 32-40. Team ERA at 5.00 probably has something to do with that.
Jimmie Fox Division:
Jerry's own Cajun's have been sitting atop first place in this division for some time. Federal Hill is an good team and have the 5th best record in the organization but remain ten and a half games out of first. The Cajun's won't overpower you with their offense even taking into consideration that this is the non-DH league. What's doing it for the Cajun's appears to be the pitching and solid defense. There is a disparity in ERAs in this division. New Orelans has an organization leading 3.13 team ERA and every team I this division has one clustered in the mid 4's. Federal Hill has scored 5.3 runs per game to the Cajun's 5.5. Very close, but the difference is the pitching. Federal Hill leads the wildcard race and Seattle is right behind them. Seattle is putting together a respectable year. They're in the mid 4.00 cluster in team ERA in their division, are tied with the Cajuns as divisions best defensive team and remain neck-and-neck with the Cajun's in terms of team batting (.271 average, .345 OBP). In fact, they're closer to the Cajun's in offensive and pitching categories than the Cannons are. The Orcas only score 5.1 runs per game. The River Rats and the Captains have fallen on hard times with winning percentages slipping below .400. The Captains and the River Rats run two and three in their division in team ERA but struggle at the plate. The Captains are batting .221 as a team with only 50 home runs and 3.2 runs scored per game and an OBP of .285. The River Rats a little better off batting in the .245 neighborhood but still struggle to score runs: 3.8 runs per game and 301 OBP.
Johnny Bench Division:
Cohawkin and Niboru remain one of the Rocky Mountain Salary League's most competitive rivalry. Cohawkin remains in first, Niboru is 4 games out. Cohawkin runs second place in pitching and offensive categories. They're only batting .256 as team and scoring 4.6 runs per game to Niboru's 5.1---but this division isn't a batter's division, it's a pitcher's. Cohawkin is right behind Cairo in team ERA (3.63 and 3.54 respectively). In fact, it's some mystery as to why Cairo isn't in second place, as their staff leads in quality starts and ERA- and the Mummies get on base and lead their division in average (.267) but do not score runs or have a high slugging percentage. Their offense looks to be a little hollow. Getting back to Niboru what appears to be keeping them in this is their respectable pitching staff and ability to score runs (108 homers and 5.1 runs per game- which doesn't amount to much in the organization but goes a long way in this division). San Diego and Indianapolis aren't that bad, compared to other last and second to last place teams in the organizations and the league. What is keeping San Diego out of last place at this point is a half game and their ability to score a full run more per game than the ABC's (4.8 compared to 3.7). The ABC's have put up great numbers with their pitching (Oswalt and D-Trane anchor a staff putting up a cumulative 3.74 ERA). Indianapolis is also number one in their division with a stellar defense.
Rocky Mountain Salary League
"Around The Horn"
The first full month of play has come to a close at 27 games played to this date. We're starting to see the divisions form in that some teams are floating to the top, some are sinking to the bottom and others can't decide what they'll do. East Gwinnett and New Orleans are beginning to put some distance to their first place leads between the second place teams so that they aren't so tenuous- but if you ask me, there is still a lot of baseball left to be played. We are also starting to see close races and, dare I say, rivalries. For instance, the one between the Beats and the Terror or the Red Sox and the Chupacabras. We're the season to end today, the wildcard would go to Kalifornia in the Barlett Giamatti League and Seattle/Niboru in the Mickey Mantle League.
There isn't much difference between the two leagues. From a glace, the statistics indicate that the two leagues have similar averages for batting average (BG: .259, JML: .260) and ERA (BG: 4.48, JML: 4.25). Something to note is that the Bartlett Giamatti League has significantly more homeruns (332 versus the JML 302) and stolen bases (202 versus 137). Yet the base stealing success rate is about equal.
With that: an overview of each team:
1) East Gwinnett (19-8): East Gwinnett has the second best record in RMSL. Pitching-wise the Knife Fighters are nothing to write home about. Their cumulative ERA is 5.07 and opponents are betting a healthy .278 against their staff. However, when talking offense, they rank right below the Cajun's in terms of batting average (2.92), and that's second best in the League, folks. The Knife Fighters have the heaviest offense in the organization, hands down. As a team, they have a league-best .377 OBP and are slugging .543- filthy. No other team even comes close to that slugging percentage. The Knife Fighters seem to have a good grasp on their division and appear to be in cruise control, early on. It's no secret, too, that their team is built around offense and I'm not even sure good pitching can neutralize it. One other thing, East Gwinnett doesn't run, they only trot.
2) Kalifornia (15-12): Kalifornia is in at the number two spot in the Mickey Mantle Division. Much like the Boston Red Sox for the last 10 years (excluding last year), they stand a decent chance to finish below the best team in the league and thus make a stab at the pennant via wild card (were the season to end today). The Kruzzin have the 3rd best defense in the league and the best in their division. Second best pitching staff in their division with an ERA under 4 (3.93) and are running mid-pack in the division for offense (.245 batting and .442 slugging). The on base percentage leaves something to be desires as it hangs low at .319. Ya' need to start walking more, Kruzzin, because you've knocked 45 homeruns in (3rd best in the organization) and people need to be on base when that happens. Best of luck to Larry in trying to cease their division. If not, there is always the wild card.
3) Syracuse (14-13). Syracuse hovers around .500. Plenty of room to move around in between Kalifornia, Lakawanna and Oceanside in this division and I'm sure Syracuse intends to move up. Syracuse is a fast team- they've stolen an organization-best 41 bases and only been caught 16 times. Not an overwhelming offensive team with the .239 batting average and .318 OBP and don't hit for power but do offer up some good pitching. Syracuse is 5th in the organization and first in their division for pitching. ERA is at 3.62 and have thrown 17 quality starts (only exceeded by Trenton's 18). Opponents are batting .230 against their staff and that is pretty stingy. Matt Clement has been a good surprise for these guys, leading their staff with a 2.73 ERA. Sheets and Schmidt and Webb all have ERAs in the 3's and are certain to challenge any good-hitting ball club- that mean's you East Gwinett.
4) Lakawanna (13-14): That brings us to Lakawanna. The Coal Baron's are running just under the Road Vandal's in their division stats with pitching, hitting and defense. More quality starts (11) than East Gwinnett and Oceanside and have a second-best OBP (.324) in their division. Unfortunately, Lakawanna has made the most errors in their division (24). They run mid-pack with homeruns (33) and stolen bases (20-8). Maybe if Bobby Abreu and Mike Lieberthal come alive and get their batting averages above the 2-mark, this team can come alive and contend Syracuse and Kalifornia. Mulder (the staff ace) is doing what he can and has an even record of 3-3 but can't do much for the high ERA from Russ Ortiz (6.45) and Hammond (6.75). Hopefully those guys will come around and put this team back into contention. Tejada can't do it all.
5) Oceanside (12-15): Oceanside has done with it could with little resources and managed to draft well and make some decent trades to give this team a fighting chance out of the basement. They're only 3 games under .500. Although they're in last place in this division, they do not own any last-place spots in hitting, pitching or defense in the division stats. Respectable average and on base percentage (.258, .322), the Vandals have floated to be the second best hitting team in their division. They're a fast team, too, with 31 steals. However, Oceanside has some issues with the pitching staff and come in just above the Coal Barons on team ERA (5.14) and only have 7 quality starts. Derek Jeter has been the shining star of the offense with his 12 stolen bases (never been caught) and 12 doubles to match. All I can say is "look out for next year" with Zito and Smoltz both, hopefully, reinvigorated and ready to rock.
1) West End (15-12): The Beats are in first place in the Reggie Jackson Division and this might be a temporary thing with the back-and-forth they're doing with Trenton. The Beats pride themselves on their pitching and are third in the organization and just under the Terror in terms of ERA; their staff has an ERA of 3.42 and opponents are batting just .220 against them. The Beats don't put up much in the way of hitting the long ball (just 28 so far this season) but rank 4th in the organization with team batting average (.273), a competitive OBP at .342 (also 4th in the organization). A fast team, they've stolen 29 bases (3rd most) but have been nailed 15 times (thanks, Alex Sanchez). This team operates under key people like Peavy, Santana, Nathan, Ichiro and Konerko and hope to add depth to this in the 2006 season because it might not be enough for 2005- we'll see.
2) Trenton (14-13): Trenton has the honor of having the best staff in all of the RMSL. Cumulative ERA: 3.23, organization best 18 quality starts and organization best .219 opponents batting average. They score about a full run more than the Beats do per game (at 5.9 RPG) and have comparable batting average and team slugging (.455). The Terror get on base few times than the Beats do (.326) but all things considered, it will most likely be a coin toss between these two teams and the loser can fight for the wildcard within this division and the other. One thing to add regarding team stats is that the Terror are running towards the bottom in terms of defense (23 errors) and 90 percent of the people trying to steal a base against them succeed. This adds an interesting spin on head-to-head contests between the Terror and the Beats. One last thing- why is their staff so good? Might have something to do with Westbrook having an ERA under 2 and Brad Penny having one just above 2.
3) Cascade (13-14): The Storm is probably more of a hitter's team than a pitcher's team at this point. Their just under .500 and hope to get into the thick of things with the Beats and the Terror. The Storm have a respectable .265 team batting average and have slugged 40 homeruns (something only 5 other teams can say they've done in the RMSL). They can steal a base too (21-7) and come in just at 5.8 runs per game to keep them competitive with the going rate that Trenton established within the division. Also keeping up with the Jones' with team slugging and OBP (.456/.344). Cascade, though, has some pitching concerns. Team ERA: .517, opponents batting average: .287. Ouch. Only one other team (Federal Way) allows opponents bat higher. Defense could use some maintenance also as they've made 29 errors (succeeded only by Federal Way). Cascade might be a poor man's Knife Fighters because they will definitely knock the ball around the park. Biggest surprise: Scott Hairston and his 7 homeruns. May Zach Grienke add much to this team in 2006.
4) Painter Creek (11-16): The Posse may be second to last in the Mickey Mantle Division but have the honor of leading the entire organization with their stellar defense. They have made 9 errors the entire year and won't be giving any runs away any time soon, sorry folks. Painter creek, again, runs mid-pack in the organization and their division for batting. Respectable average is at .267, OBP at .327 and slugging at .450. They knock em' in too- they've hit 38 homeruns (towering over the Beats' 28). However, the problem can be boiled down to pitching. Right with Cascade with a team ERA of .514, the Posse are at least holding their opponents to a mediocre average of .257. They've walked 113 batters this year and that is, unfortunately, an organization worst. Bonderman has lived up to the hype and is currently 4-0 with a 2.94 ERA. Derek Lee and Corey Patterson will be the franchise players for years to come and why shouldn't they? Has anyone checked out Derek Lee's average lately?
5) Federal Way (10-17): Painter Creek and Federal Way are neck and neck in terms of their places in this division but things couldn't get much more diverse in terms of the defense. Federal Way has committed 33 errors so far and their pitching is beleaguered. The staff has an ERA of .576 and opponents are batting 2.94 against the likes of Hampton, Vogelsong and Moose. They don't have a bad staff at all so I'd wait for these numbers to change some. Pedro (2.95 ERA) is doing his thing, but it's not enough. But, it's not all gloom and doom for this team. They score more runs per game than the Beats and Painter Creek (5.1) and are batting a decent .243 with a .320 OBP. This team has some big names and it may not take much for them to be in the thick of things once again-- 2006 actual stats (Mussina: 3-1, 3.60; Hampton: 4-1, 2.05; 2-3, 3.33).
Judge Mountain Landis
1) New Orleans (20-7): The Cajun's have the best record in the RMSL and have put up organization "bests" in other areas too. They lead the organization in batting average (.298) and are second to East Gwinnett in OBP (.366) and slugging (.483). One of the reasons why New Orleans is number one in their league is that they've got the pitching to back up the hitting. Team ERA is second to East Gwinnett and just above the West End Beats (3.30). 17 quality starts appears to be the benchmark for success thus far. Defensively, they run mid-pack and, on a side note, if you're gonna run, best do it against the Cajuns because they've only thrown out one baserunner all year (that's a 92.9 percent success rate). The Cajun's score a full run more per game than anyone else does in their division and team ERA is a full run lower than anyone else in their division. Carlos Guillen, Moises Alou and Mike Lowell give them all the bat strength they need. Like East Gwinnett, they appear to have put on cruise control early.
2) Seattle (15-12): During the draft, I thought Seattle was going to sink itself by signing big contracts too soon but they've proven themselves in the first month to be in contention and it looks like if they can't get division title, they'll battle it out with Niboru for the wildcard. Defense is above average for organization standards and fall in the top 5. Seattle appears to have had mediocre pitching thus far and as a team have posted an ERA of 4.48, 11 quality starts and a little alarming opponents batting average of .274. However, much like other teams in this league, they fall under the offense-focused orientation. Seattle ranks 3rd in the organization for average, OBP and slugging (.285, .358 and .462). They remain competitive with the likes of the Cajun's and Knife Fighters but are only concerned with the Cajun's at this point. Two of their biggest contracts (Helton and Pierre) seem to be carrying their weight early on and both are batting over .320. As a matter of fact, Helton leads this team in a few offensive categories (average, runs, doubles, homeruns, walks). Look out wildcard but don't be surprise if they chase New Orleans.
3) Federal Hill (14-12): The cannons draw their success from the offense. This is another team that has huge pitching issues early on (second from the bottom next to Federal Way with a staff 5.32 ERA and opponents batting a healthy 2.72 against them). That's nothing new, so the question remains: do they have the offense to balance the deficit out? They're running mid-pack. Got a 2.62 average as a team and a .450 slugging but do excel with the OBP at .343 (which is something you don't see mid-pack when one looks at the organizational leaders). That fact is probably due to the amount of walks they're getting (106 so far this season) and that is 3rd best in the RMSL. Mark Buehrle is putting together a great year for this team and it's predicted that with the likes of Prior and Colon they will have a team ready for contention for years to come. JD Drew and Sheffield have made this team's offense by both batting over .350 and slugging out 12 and 10 home runs respectively.
4) Antelope (14-13): First, the good news: Antelope has the second best defense in the organizations, next to Painter Creek. They've only committed 12 errors as a team. The River Rats are running mid-pack in terms of hitting and pitching, so maybe that's why they seem to be running mid-pack among their league. They seem to be keeping their heads just above water by playing smart baseball- this team only scores 3.8 runs per game and has a team ERA of 4.60. Haven't stolen maybe bases (9) or hit many homeruns (26). It's clear that Pujols and Vlad anchor this team's offense and actually account for half of the team's homerun total. Kevin Brown, staff ace, isn't phased by the numbers at all and is currently 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA. Between Kolb and Ryan, this team has a steady bullpen but can they stay afloat?
5) Lake County (8-19): This record is a reflection of cold bats. The everyday player with the highest average is Adam Kennedy, at .287. Hank Blalock is at .221 and Vernon Wells at .258. As a team they bat .208 and only score 3 runs per game. Compared with the pitching staff that has an ERA of 4.54, the math is already done in our heads. The pitching staff isn't that bad. Radke is having a dominating season in RMSL, with an ERA below Rodrigo Lopez (the Orioles new ace) and Zack Day are also putting up good numbers with ERAs below 4 but don't have the winning percentage to show for their efforts. Odalis Perez and Jose Contreras are also on this team. Justin Morneau and Milton Bradley may be batting at or below .200 for this team, currently, but the in looking into my magic 8 ball, "outlook good" for a major overhaul in how this team plays in 2006.
1) Cohawkin (17-10): First place Cohawkin has just enough lead over Niboru to feel a little comfortable but not enough to feel really comfortable. Cohawkin team stats are definitely floating to the top but aren't spectacular enough to be elite. They've got pitching- Zambrano (5-1, 1.55), Wright (2-0, 2.97), and Halladay (1-0, 2.25)- and a team ERA of 3.77 with a paltry OBA of 2.45. Very stable. Division wise, they dominate their division along with Niboru- Very stable bats too-- in their division they come in first or second in most offensive categories (39 homers, 8 triples and 50 doubles). I'd have to say that while the Red Sox are swinging hot bats with the likes of Soriano and Garciaparra, what's getting the job done for them is their staff. Cordero has 9 saves and a miniscule ERA (.87). Nibrou, though, will put up some stuff competition and this race isn't near to being predicted.
2) Niboru (15-12): Niboru has an elite pitching staff and this fact has undoubtedly put them in contention for the Johnny Bench Division pennant. Team ERA of 3.50 and that elite number of quality starts that I've seen good teams display to this date: 17. West End only has 15 and they've got the two highest rated pitchers. Jason Marquis (3-1, 1.88) and Jerome Williams (5-0, 1.29) have gone above and beyond their means to establish this team at second place. Niboru also has the honor of being the team that has slugged the most home runs in their league (46), second to only East Gwinnett in the Barlett Giamatti League. Though the team average and OBP leaves something to be desired (.259, .324). However, they are third overall with a team slugging at .466. If their staff can hold out, I like their chances to content Cohawkin for the pennant- otherwise, they're duking it out with Seattle for the wildcard.
3) Cairo (11-16): Why is Cario under .500? When I look at the stats, they seem to float to the top in the major categories. As a team they bat .272, .342 OBP but do lack some in power, only posting a .415 slugging and an embarrassing 25 homeruns hit. They are number one in their division for average and OBP. The runs per game is down at 4.5 which is probably the threshold for success for their team, as they are currently putting up a 4.13 ERA. The ERA is decent and they've put together 14 quality starts. Perhaps it comes down to Niboru and Cohawking being able to score more runs. Perhaps, though, the issue is that they give away too many freebees- The Mummies have committed 29 errors so far this season, being exceeded by only one other team. But, they've got Clemens, Pavano and Randy Johnson (on rehab, somewhere in Egypt) and we all know what they're capable of. Add Noah Lowry and the multitude of talent you see in their farm system and Cario has nothing to worry about.
4) San Diego (11-16): The Beach Bums have a good starting pitching staff and it will keep them out of the basement for as long as Sabathia, Vasquez, Beckett and Millwood all keep pitching well. Sabathia's ERA this year is at 7.56 and Millwood's at 9.18. I have a feeling they're float up in this category before long and the Beachbums will have an improved record provided they can score the runs. Right now, Vinny Castilla and Manny Ramirez are carrying this team on their backs- with a little help from Tony Womack (.330 average and .392 OBP). It would be nice, too, for Sosa to come alive. Sosa is currently batting a dollar sixty seven and has only hit 2 homeruns and driven in 5 (Pokey Reese has driven in 6). So, the future looks bright for the Beach Bums with that staff of theirs- and maybe if they trade one of their bats in for someone who can play some better D, the amount of errors will decrease and wins increase.
5) Indianapolis (9-17): Indianapolis has the worst record in RMSL but one of the best defenses in the organization. That's something in and of itself because you know they're not going to give away any runs for free. They are 4th in the league overall and have made 14 errors (other teams have made twice as many). Aside from defense, the ABC's run mid-pack with pitching but struggle at the plate, which accounts for the record. They score, on average, 3.6 runs per game and have a team ERA of 4.29 which is not a bad ERA considering, but, again, the runs per game hits this team where it hurts. As a team they bat .238 and have an OBP of .307. Ouch. The on base percentage hurts. But things are not all gloom-and-doom- this is a team that sports Kerry Wood, Roy Oswalt and D-Train. Dontrelle has been mighty Clemensesque as of late and doesn't show any signs of letting up. Jason Kendall, Christian Guzman and Adrian Beltre seem to be putting up good numbers for the ABCs but everyone else has gone cold.