At the break, here's how things are shaping up...
The NL North
features the best four-team division in the league. The River Rats,
with a 3 game lead, are liking their new digs in New Britain, as their
park change coincides nicely with the fruits of their rebuild. Lew Evans
doesn't seemed fazed by the more spacious grounds, as he's bidding for
back-back MVP awards with 30 HR and 70 RBI. International fire-balling
phenom Clarence "Nat-King" Coleman is 7-1 with a 2.19 era and 1.10 WHIP
in his first half of United States ball. SP Luther Baker is having a
strong sophomore season as a follow up to his 12-6 rookie campaign.
Chicago and Milwaukee are banging on the door at 3 games back, and Tacoma is laying in wait, 5 games behind.
East has Burlington in front of Scranton by 6 games. Dante Zoltan
seems to be fully recovered from his career threatening injury a couple
seasons back, and is making a strong bid for the Cy Young award with a
13-2 record, 2.04 era and 1.05 WHIP. All 5 starting Booya pitchers
boast era's of 2.58 or less. Graham Oliver is having his standard
spectacular year, and may in fact, top his career high 26 HR, as he has
15 at the break. Spark plug Sandy Fielder combines speed, power and
defense to help lead the attack with another great season so far.
the South, Tampa currently has a 3 game lead over Iowa in what's been a
see-saw race all year. Newly acquired 2B Eduardo Melendez is having a
nice season, combining speed and power at the top of the order. Vet
Jamie "The Fire" Byrne is having a solid season in the middle of the
line-up, hitting .309 with 16 HR and 66 RBI. A deep pitching staff,
including new acquisition Rob Cormier (9-4), and solid defense is keeping
Tampa in games.
In the West, St. Louis is again leading by a
healthy 9 game margin over 'Couv. The middle of the line-up features
the potent 1-2 punch of former MVP Louie Santiago and Rip Anderson,
who's having his best season since his rookie-of-the-year campaign in
17. Stud Alex Torres is looking to add to his healthy collection of
hardware with another Cy-worthy campaign, at 9-2, 3.23 era and 1.23
WHIP. SP Ruben Calderon has been a nice signing, as he boasts a solid
8-3 record with a 3.76 era and 1.23 WHIP.
The top Wildcard spot
would go to Iowa. Emmanuel Aquino doesn't seem to be slowing down any,
and John Ueno is having another solid season. How in the world of A.Rod
is Gio Hernandez only 5-9!? He has a 3.08 era and 1.10 WHIP. Vet
SP's Sam Wilson and Elrod Coke (2.77 era/1.15 WHIP) are having solid
seasons at 9-5 and 6-3 respectively.
The Blagos share a lead for
the second Wildcard spot. Sluggers Benito Rijo, Ray Brock and Les
Callaway keep cranking out the run production. The starting pitching
staff is aging and the window is closing, but they're all solid and all
have proven track records. If closer Carlos "Exxon" Valdes (or a
knockin' Cesar Julio?) can right the ship and be a stopper, this is a
very dangerous team.
Milwaukee is the other team tied for the
second spot. This is a team with a solid one-two punch at the top of
the rotation, and a nicely structured line-up. Miguel Cruz and Geraldo
Valdes have done a great job as table setters at the top. Juan Alarcon
is having a career year at age 32 with 28 HR and 61 RBI from the
clean-up spot. Last season's ROY SP Juan Bennett is a serious contender
for the Cy Young, going 10-4 with a 2.73 era and 1.09. Very impressive
for pitching in a hitters' park. Another second-year SP, Stu McCurry
is 10-5. Another vet having a career year is closer Chief "Hit Me"
LeCroy, who is 33/35 in save opps, with a miniscule 0.93 WHIP.
Tacoma and Vancouver are 2 games in back of Chicago/Milwaukee; Scranton 3 GB; Vegas 4 GB, and New Orleans 5 GB.
There's been lots of movement to this point, and there's lots of ball to still be played! Good luck to all!