Monthly Archives: March 2017

2020 Vision

The 2020 Season is about to celebrate Opening Day.

Spring Training has been completed and the results are in.  But, do they actually mean anything?  There may be more questions than answers right now.  Let’s take a peek into Season #6 of the Great Lakes Baseball League and preview some of the anticipated action.

Question #1:  Will the Chicago Architects three peat?

If the spring results are a harbinger of things to come then it’s hoist the pennant flag time in the windy city as Chicago put up an impressive 13-5 record.  Twenty three year old Jimmy Preston hit .342 and dazzled the team with his speed and defense.  Thirty year old Chris Anderson was used primarily in relief last year  turned in three perfect 4 inning stints this spring not allowing any runs and yielding but 6 hits.   With Cardy and Northeast the team has ‘nasty’ starting pitching and look out for 25 year old Foster Broun who did not allow a run in his 3 starts in spring to make things even more miserable for opposing batters.  With a full season under his belt this kid is getting stronger and once he masters the change up he will spell trouble for opposing hitters.  Actually, he is already trouble.

 Runner up MVP in the American League Lake Superior Award,  C Bill Durand

Question #2:  Will Windsor take the final step and win a championship?

In their history the worst record they have posted is 69-71.  Three times they have  been to the post-season including an improbably come back against the Maples in the 2019 first round before giving up a 3-0 lead to Chicago and falling 3-4.  How close can you get?  Jerry Barker has been added but he’s not a high impact guy.  Luca Carlier may be ready to wrestle the catching job from vet Kenny Shaw but either way will production rise from the catching position?  Still, the Vigilantes remain a threat to advance to the Championship Series based on what they bring forward from 2019.

Question #3:  What about that new guy in Owen Sound?

The Waveriders have been the most active team in the off-season inking star power to Owen Sound contract dotted lines in the form of Longchamps, Berger, Alvarez, Trudel, Ralph, and none more significant than Kevin Thomas former mainstay of the Toronto Maples.  With Dave Corbin falling off last year the decision was made to allow him to enter the free agent market and he is now a Duluth Sea Gull.  Ronnie Peyton purportedly has made huge steps forward while playing for the Herons in AAA  as his athleticism could be boost to Owen Sound if not breaking spring training then later in the season. The same could be said for SS Erik Howell.  This is a team to watch moving forward.

 Ronnie Peyton

Question #4:  Can Toronto keep moving forward?

Could a team have been any more on the cusp of a date with the League Championship in 2019 than the Maples?  No need to relive the heartbreak and angst  the Maples move forward and this season without 3b Kevin Thomas.  While Thomas signed for $14M with Owen Sound 3b Roberson signed for $20M with Toronto.  Roberson will mean more big flies than Thomas but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will bring more to the table.  Yet, the Maples are in good hands with Roberson at the hot corner.  His superior range should also help the Maples pitching, too.

Question #5:  Will the additions in Duluth be enough?

Next to Owen Sound the Sea Gulls have been very busy, too, landing Silas Carvalo and Dave Corbin.  Gone are John Freake (no small loss), Bill Starr, and Daniel Pepys.  Key to the pitching staff might be just how well AAA SP Jeff Munson performs as the 24 year old had a fine 2.72 ERA at Green Bay last season.  23 year old Stinson was even better with his 2.31 ERA and throw in 23 year old emerging star Charles Colle and you have the makings of a very revamped Sea Gull squad for 2020.  AA Catcher Jim Danton has a shot at being the team’s catcher this season and probably is the leading candidate to replace Freake.

 Shotgun

Question #6:  They won the inaugural GLBL championship, so what about this years Caribou squad, can they get back to the big dance?

Inaugural champs Thunder Bay quietly improved to 76-64 last season good for 3rd place.  But, they lost a ton of star power in Lefebre, Ramos, Li, and Trudel.  Bringing Derek Savary on board will help but it’s going to take more unless the Caribou can get some WAR from the minor leagues.  Both Corrigan and Harris may need more seasoning in AAA Pointe Pelee.

 Derek Savory

Question #7:  Does the Comets first place spring finish mean anything?

It’s hard to argue that the Comets will not be a better team on the field in 2020.  Coming off their 12-6 spring they have some new pieces in Dennis Picard and Mooney who will help the pitching. This is a team that builds from the inside out (think Cardinals and Dodgers) and we’re close to seeing the likes of SP’s Palma and Estrada along with outfields Graham and Rogers.  23 year old All Star and GG winner Nabhan Ubadah has a full 2 seasons under his belt and is likely to begin building on his consistent 3.9 WAR contribution each of the past two years.  Brown, Torres, and Joyner form a capable outfield so one of the biggest question mark franchises will be interesting to watch.  I can see them going either way.

 Nabhan ‘Wacky’ Ubadah

The GLBL is ready for Opening Day!

2019 Chicago, Chicago

The Chicago Architects were the repeat champs of 2019.  An amazing season.  But, before we get to the post-season let’s take a run down on all the teams and their season.

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Huh, what?  Say it ain’t so?  It so.  It was a long slow decent (95, 87, 85, 76 wins) but what a four year run it was….4/4 playoff years and 2 championships before GM Mike Trigwell made the decision to look ahead.  One tangible working in favor of the Eagles is that they have money to spend.  Down, but not out.  Stephen Lonchamps did his best to keep the team tradition of winning alive as he posted a fine .286/.371/.526 line.  He was at his best in high leverage situations hitting .340.

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It will be a coin flip to see who gets the coveted #1 pick.  But, after years of rotating GM’s the Owen Sound franchise recruited and landed Canadian born and local baseball man David Jones to right the ship.  The beleaguered franchise on the Huron does have the #3 ranked minor league system and three time all star Dave Corbin as it heads into 2020.  But, even Corbin was not immune to the woes of the franchise as he hit below .300 for the time ever (.279).  Lefty Jon Wilson was the most consistent SP for the Waveriders as went 11-10 with a 2.57 ERA.

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Deeeeeeeeetroit won just 59 games with Silas Carvahlo and Richard LeClerc in the line up which seems like impossible given the 5.7 and 7.7 WAR they each bring to the table.  But, pitching and defense are where the team needs help and maybe Chris Farnell can help with the former.  At 26 he accomplished all he could at AAA and with Biliard the Birds might have a decent 1-2-3 punch.  Trites, a four time all star and Lake Ontario Relief Award winner had a sensational year for Detroit amassing a 2.1 WAR in the closer role.  Just 35 hits in 67.1 IP.   They will select 3rd in the draft.

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Kingston had the largest negative run differential (-118) of all the teams yet boasted a 40-30 record at home.  Road woes held the Comets back exemplified by their 20-50 record.  Twenty two year old Nabhan ‘wacky’ Ubadah won a gold glove and earned  all star recognition as his 4.0 WAR tied Ryan Brown, OF, for the club lead.  The Comets are tied with the Sea Gulls for the 4th highest ranking minor league system.  Twenty two year Phil Joyner struggled in 268 PA’s with a .567 OPS while being thrown out 13 out of 28 times stealing but he displayed strong center field skills with a +4.2 ZR.  Alfonso Romero tied for the most wins (11-10).  Ken ‘Cubby’ Lau (24 yrs of age) went 11-12/ 3.91 using predominately a sinker and cutter as his weapons, with the change-up being a work in progress.  Jim Copeland’s 26 dingers led the Comets in the power department.

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34-23 through the first two months had Duluth in the running but come June they changed their tune with a 6-16 month and that set the tone for losing months for the rest of the season save the 14-14 August.  Daniel Pepys 12-7/ 1.74 ERA led the pitchers and 5 time All Star, 2 time GG, 2 Time Lake Superior, and 2016 Lake Erie award winner Jim Nichol .336/.411/.550 with a whopping 9.2 WAR defined offense for Duluth and all this without a supporting cast of bats.  Mark Holland turned in 26 saves to lead the pen.  Chuck Ball stole 23 bags (44 the year before) but he needs to figure out how to get on base more often

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Perennial All-Star Dave Teague (5 times) and winner of numerous other awards .287/.394/.522 turned in another stellar year for Hamilton.  69 BB/ 42 K’s are old school type stats that allowed him to lead the league in OBP.  Geoff Boyd (22 yrs old) made a successful jump from AAA ball demonstrated by his .297/.342/.401 line as he filled the #2 spot in the line up quite nicely.  Collectively Boyd has a +9.6 ZR at his position as he leap frogged from AA to AAA to GLBL Majors.  Two time All Star Stephen Gilbert had unfortunate luck in the decision department (9-11) but his 2.76 ERA speaks to a worthy campaign as he took the ball 28 times in the starting role.  Of course, Tate ‘the Ape’ Crosby was the man on the mound for the Mounties as he won the coveted Lake Michigan POY award for the second time in his career.  His 14-7 record makes him a career 65-39 (two teams).

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29 year old lefty Bill Lehman re-established himself as the staff ace after an off year in 2018 and led the Neptunes with 13-8/ 2.85 ERA.  Lehman tossed 2 CG’s and fanned 133 batters with 34 walks.  It might surprise some to that the Neptunes were a huge offensive force.  toledo stats

Harry Norman stroked 19 homers, cather Homer Gilbert batted in 64 and posted a 5.8 WAR, and it was INF Cal McNiven who was an on base machine as his .427 OBP demonstrates.  Corner OF’s Lee and Cross hit .287 and .284 respectively.  And, of course, infamous Ryan Johnson of the consecutive save streak record finished 3rd in the Reliever of the Year Award.  Ryan finished with 29 Saves for the season.

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Close to the post-season, but two games out of the wild card for the home run champs of the Canadian League with 104.  Thirty one year old RHP  Vasa Trevino led the Caribou with 21 dingers but received support from Li and Wheaton who tallied 17 apiece.  Dale O’Brien was the clear ace of the staff as he posted a 17-4 record with a 2.03 ERA.  Dale was twice POM in 2019 and was voted to the All-Star team.  Curiously, RHB batted .234 vs LHB  who hit just .181.  In the pen it was a brilliant season for Steven Foster who finished 3rd in ROY voting as his 39 Saves and 2.07 ERA earned him a contract extension for 2020.

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Big year for Rick Bradley 19-5 who missed winning the POY Award in the Canadian League by a whisker.  The 35 year old pitcher posted a 1.86 ERA and netted a 4.5 WAR for the season.  Forest Furlong flew under the radar but his 0.91 ERA out of the pen was huge given he logged 59.2 innings while winning 4, saving 4, and losing 0.  Just 24 years of age young Harry O’Connell earned a bevy of awards and accolades.

o'connel

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The Bears defied their stats as they actually scored 9 less runs than they gave up but going 30-12 in one run games goes a long way towards righting some wrongs.  But, it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors as William ‘Deranged’ Anderson had an incredible year going 14-8/ 1.80 while offering  up 27 QS out of 30 attempts.  All Star and winner of the Lake Ontario Relief Award Kurt Peddle  saved 44 games.  Journeyman and 34 year old vet Kevin Boivin had his best year ever .304/.406/.573 earning him a 4.3 WAR.  Enigma, Martin Ortiz only batted .185 but smacked 21 homers and 19 doubles.

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The Maples have increased their win total every year of their existence and for 2019 that was good enough for first place by 2 games over Windsor.  Jean Villain pitched a no hitter against Windsor this year while going 14-13 with a 2.75 ERA.  All Star and 3rd placer in the POY Award Henri Francois had a 1.88 ERA,  while Villegas went 13-8, and Geddes 12-5.  This team can pitch!  All Star and 3rd place finisher in the Lake Superior Player Award Stephen Gilbert had a 5.7 WAR.  Hilton Madore batted .302 and Kevin Thomas .291.

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The defending champs won the most games and cruised to a title in the USA League.  Jean Cheron, 2nd in POY voting, went 17-7 with a 1.94 ERA.  Carl Cardny went 13-8 and Nathan Ball saved 32 in the pen.  Bill Durand finished 2nd in a close vote for the Lake Superior Award as his 1.001 OPS and 8.8 WAR were career highs, although it should be noted he netted 8.7 WAR’s the two previous seasons.  Cyril LeClerc smashed 27 homers and batted in 85.

THE PLAYOFF TEAMS AND THEIR SERIES

CANADIAN PLAYOFF

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This was a series that saw the Vigilantes rally from being down 1-3 to take the series and break the hearts of the Toronto faithful.  Little did we know that an even grander comeback would take place before the end of the post-season.

USA PLAYOFF

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This one was pretty much all Chicago as they won in 5 games.  But, great season for TC!

GLBL CHAMPIONSHIP

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The Vigilantes shocked the world when they won the first two games in Chicago and then the opener in Windsor.  Down 0-3, the Architects did what no other team has done in GLBL history as they rallied to win 4 straight games and claim their second championship in a row.  Back to Back, Chicago, Chicago!