1. Jeter SS8 .288 .367 .432 114 R 2. Alfonzo 2B8 .353 .441 .627 54 2B, 34 HR, 123 R, 102 RBI 3/4. Vander wal DH .244 .337 .467 88 R, 85 RBI 3/4. Ochoa OF2-38 .281 .326 .561 30 2B, 21 HR, 80 RBI in 406 PA 3/4. Hundley C7-3 .267 .339 .547 18 HR, 60 RBI in 271 PA 5. Ordonez OF2-32 .240 .307 .425 83 R, 83 RBI, 24 HR, 25 SB 6. Jones CF3-36 .291 .349 .499 27 HR, 107 R, 109 RBI, 31 SB 7. Segui 1B5 .283 .349 .448 43 2B, 80 RBI, .998 Fld Ptg 8. Fryman 3B5 .235 .296 .386 15 HR, 66 RBI, .987 Fld Ptg 9. Mondesi RF3-39 .225 .278 .431 15 HR, 44 R, 46 RBI in 350 PA 9. Cross* C7+1 .228 .295 .362 1 SBJeter in the leadoff spot allowed Alfonzo to flourish in the 2 hole, hit and running all season long. Vander Wal, Ochoa, and Hundley rotated as the 3 and 4 hitters, with inconsistent success. Vander Wal didn't do as well as I expected, but Ochoa had a good year. Hundley did fairly well, but his 24 game injury late in the year hurt. Maggs had a subpar year, but it was balanced by Jones' fairly spectacular year, and Andruw allowed Segui to hit and run his way to a .283 average. Fryman was a wasted pick, although he won the third base gold glove, whatever that is good for. Mondesi and Cross* shared the 9 hole, without much success.
Paul Konerko (1B3 3B3) was my top hitter off the bench, going .253 .339 .505 in 220 PA. He was the main backup at first and third, coming in after I would pinch run for Segui and Fryman. Tom Goodwin (OF3-30) was my main pinch runner, going 81 for 97 (83.5%) and scoring 63 runs in 60 PA. Damian Jackson (SS7 2B7 OF2-33) was the only backup at second and short but still got a lot of OF games (16), finishing 37 of 43 (86%) on the base paths and scoring 27 runs. Alberto Castillo C8+3 was the final bench spot as the defensive catcher, compiling .217 .301 .289 at the plate.
We finished 2nd in the league in average at .269 behind Golden's unbelievable .282. We were 5th in runs with 903, behind a jumble (966, 942, 924, 922) and a good distance ahead of the bottom half (878, 848, 819, 799). We did lead the league with 240 steals, which was fun more than anything. Our offense was adequate. Since our first two picks, and 4 of 5, were pitchers, we were happy.
Obviously Alfonzo was my MVP, and finished #2 in the league voting. Andruw also had a great year, and the rest of the guys all contributed to make it an above average offense.
Our defense was decent. The infield did manage to win 3 of 4 Gold Gloves (Alfonzo, Fryman, Segui), so those corner guys were good for something other than letting Goodwin pinch run. Somehow 4 teams gave up more steals than we did.
My rotation was:
D'Amico 15GZ 15-11 3.68 227.2 IP 21 CG in 28 GS Hampton L13HY 12-11 4.64 238.1 IP, 12 CG in 32 GS, 6 runs scored as a PR Sele 8GYZ 6-5 6.65 138 IP Rogers L6Gz 5-7 5.74 125.1 IP in 32 GS Rekar 6Z+3 1-7 8.64 83.1 IP in 30 GSWith a bullpen of:
Rivera 16HYZ 11-12 3.56 22(8) Saves (blown), 113.2 IP, 80 K, 37 BB Veres 15GXZ 21-4 3.40 3(4) Saves, 113.2 IP, 80 K, 37 BB Wunsch L15GY 6-5 3.23 4(4) Saves, 92 IP, 13 unearned runs Adams 12G 5-1 3.66 2(1) Saves, 108.1 IP Miller 12HY 5-2 4.76 1(1) Saves, 96.1 IP Santiago 11GYZ 1-3 4.52 2(3) Saves, 65.2 IPD'Amico was the jittery first round pick, taking a J-3 starter wasn't the best thing in the first round. He did have a short injury in the season and I sat him for his final two starts to get ready for the playoffs. The killer was him getting injured late in Game 1 of the semi-finals. He did manage to come back in Game 6 of the World Series to lose the clinching game. He was 4-9 in the #1 slot before the injury, then went 11-2 in the #4 slot after the injury. Hampton did quite a job as an innings eater and pinch runner (6 runs). The rest of the rotation was obviously crap. Sele started out well, so his second half numbers must've been fairly horrible. Rekar gave up 18.3 BR/9, the highest of any pitching qualifiers (162 IP) was Golden's Rusch at 15.5 and Golden's Weaver at 15.4. Rogers was fairly adequate for when he was picked.
The pen was pretty good. Rivera and Veres were almost the same player, and I used Veres as an early inning pressure pitcher and Rivera in a late inning/closer role. Veres just sorta happened to pile up the wins, probably stealing them from the horrible starters by coming into a game with a one run lead in the 3rd. At the end of the year I tried getting him wins and it actually backfired. There numbers were almost identical, and I think Rivera was the better pitcher. I was surprised to see Wunsch's ERA so low, then I noticed that 1/3 of his runs were unearned. He walked way too many. Not a great pick for when I took him. The bottom three gave me the innings and quality I asked of them.
The goal in the final 12 was to hold off Keith and to enter the playoffs healthy. Hundley had been injured for 24 games with 24 remaining, so we were weakened down the stretch. I also had to sit a lot of guys in those last 12, and was resting D'Amico to avoid an injury heading into the playoffs. Keith took 5 of 6 from me and I managed to snag 2 of 6 from Graham, and stumbled home at 92-70, 3 games ahead of Keith. I also managed to get Vander Wal hurt for a lot of games, to be returning late in the World Series, if I was lucky enough to get there. I was mad at how poorly I finished, but tried to concentrate on my #1 seed and the upcoming playoffs. A wild finish in the Frank left Ken's BaRF atop the heap, and Chris's Apua used a late run to finish off Steve's Good Kids in the Tonk. So the playoffs would be me and the Kleins. So much parity early on results in a cliche playoff slate. I think the tight finish in the divisions allowed the experience of Ken and Chris to slide into the playoffs.
Unfortunately I had to play Keith's 89 win Wild Card Asps in the semi-finals. Vander Wal was out, and Maggs couldn't steal in the semi-finals due to my overusage of him during the regular season.
Game One was a showdown between D'Amico and Moose in Gilt Edge. The Splinters knocked out Moose early, chasing him after 4 1/3 to take a 5-3 lead after five. D'Amico managed to make it thru seven, then got injured for 10 days. Rivera came in and managed to get the save after allow a two run Berkman dong in the ninth to make it a 6-5 final. Hundley and Andruw both went yard, and Ochoa drove in a pair.
Game Two was Hampton v. Sirotka. The Splinters jumped on Sirotka for 3 in the first, the ASPs responded with 2 in the top of the second, then the Splinters scored 2 in the 3rd for a 5-2 lead after three. The pitching held up, with Veres pitching two for a hold and Wunsch nailing down the ninth for the save in a 5-3 Splinters victory.
Game Three moved us to Denali, and Sele v. Castillo on the hill. The first pitching matchup to favor the ASPs, so of course Sele gave me 7 good innings. Alfonzo powered us to a 7-2 lead going into the bottom of the 8th, when the bottom dropped out. Sele gave up a leadoff baserunner then yielded to Santiago. Santiago gave up a couple baserunners and got an out, and I finally brought in Mariano. Justice greeted him with a 3 run jack, and it was 7-6 heading into the ninth. After holding us scoreless in the ninth, the ASPs scored 2 in the bottom to win it 8-7. I had been looking at a 3-0 lead, but now was faced with a 2-1 series, and the game was on.
The Gambler and Elarton squared off in Game Four, and I was quick to pull Rogers after 2 innings. A couple solo shots by Ochoa and one by Fryman gave us a 4-1 lead after 7, and Wunsch and Miller managed to stumble home to a 5-4 win and a 3-1 series lead. Things were looking good.
Game Five took us to Gilt Edge, and a Moose v. Rekar(!) matchup. D'Amico getting hurt certainly wasn't what we needed for the playoffs. Rekar was pulled after 1 1/3 scoreless, but the story was Moose going 7 2/3 while giving up one, and Nen closing it out for a 4-1 loss.
We headed back to Denali for Game Six with a 3-2 lead, Hampton and Sirotka was the matchup. Denali got one in the 4th that held up until Ochoa continued his strong series by hitting a 2 run blast in the 6th. Alfonzo doubled home Jeter in the 8th to make it 3-1, and Wunsch relieved Veres in the ninth while Denali scored one, but we held on to win 3-2 and to take the series 4 games to 2.
A series victory is a series victory, and I was just glad we survived. Without Vander Wal and with Maggs hobbled, D'Amico getting hurt, we didn't really have luck on our side, but I guess we did. We outscored the ASPs 27 to 26, so it really could have gone either way. Ochoa hit 3 homers in 15 at bats and drove in 7, while Alfonzo continued his great season by hitting .318 with 4 doubles, a homer, and 7 RBI. Jeter got on base enough to score 6 times.
So I made it to the series to face Ken, a rematch of the '97 SL World Series. Ken had slipped past Joe and Dave to enter the playoffs, and was searching for his first Spit Cup title after sprinting past Chris in the semis.
Game One was Sele v. the Big Unit. The Cats took 2 from Sele in the top of the first and never looked back. Johnson got ejected after 5 2/3, but BaRF still won going away, the bullpen pitching better than Johnson.
Rogers v. Heredia in Game Two, and Black River Falls jumped out early, going up 3-1 after two. Four BaRF homers, including 2 by Damon, gave Ken a 6-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. The Splinters managed to tie it on a huge 3 run jack by Jeter, but the Cats scored 1 in the 10th off Veres to win it. A crushing defeat for the Splinters, as we headed to Black River Falls for Game 3.
Game Three was all Cats. Colon shut down the Splinters, a solo shot by Ochoa was the only run on 4 hits to lose 6-1. The Series was 3-0, and things looked very bleak for the Splinters.
Game Four was Rekar v. Burba. We scored 2 in the top of the first, and the Splinters pen was well rested, so after Klesko lead off the bottom of one with a single, Rekar hit the showers. It was 5-4 Splinters after three, then things calmed down a bit. Gilt Edge scored 2 in the top of the 7th for a 7-4 lead, and we brought in Mariano in the bottom of the 7th. He promptly got injured for the rest of the series without throwing a pitch. The Splinters scored 4 in the 9th to win 11-5. The Series was cut to 3-1, but things still looked bad.
D'Amico coming back in Game Five gave us some hope, but it was against the Unit. Johnson came out throwing smoke, and the BaRF offense picked away at D'Amico, scoring single runs for a 3-0 lead after 6. In the 7th the Cats exploded for 3 runs and a 6-0 lead, and the fans were ready to party back in Black River Falls. 4 runs in the bottom of the 7th and one in the 8th by the Splinters put things in doubt, but the Cats held on 6-5 to win the series 4 games to 1, and the Commish got his first Spit Cup title.