Friday, November 23, 2012

AL Playoff Push by cebola

A couple teams still have an outside chance of getting in, but for the most part, the stage seems to be set for the “tournament.”

Defending AL champ LA boasts a formidable murderer’s row out West. Seven players have 30-plus homers, and six of those have 90-plus RBI. At the top row are three MVP candidates in Geovany Molina (.288/.396/.536), Clay Stanley (.293/.363/.576) and Jamie “Fire” Byrne (.295/.386/.528). Spot starter and veteran Derek Hardtke leads the team with 14 wins while having the hot hand down the stretch. He has a .198 opponents’ BA, a 0.99 WHIP and 2.61 ERA in over 120 innings. Carlos "Slim" Valdes is handling another huge workload out of the pen and has a 1.19 WHIP in over 140 innings.

Jackson will claim another South division title and are thriving under its new ownership. Three starters have 15-plus wins. Hector Batista leads the team with an 18-8 record. Perennial MVP candidate Ralph “Billy the Kidd” Kydd(.353/.439/.524) is thriving after being dropped in to order to take advantage of his productions skills. The team has responded with one of their best offensive seasons in years. Bryce Dupler (34 HR/101 RBI), Dan Blair (27/104) along with Kydd, have each driven in more than 100 runs.

Trenton repeats in the East. Nick Jacquez is having a nice little follow-up to his Triple Crown season with a line of .300, 38 HR and 112 RBI. His middle-of-the-order mate, John Suzuki is boasting a .282, 38, 106 line. Second year 2B Jonathon Hamelin has also smacked 36 homers and Victor Morales should soon hit his 30th to join the club. What makes Trenton dangerous however, is its top of the rotation. Pat Combs (17-5, 2.77 ERA) and Karl Hurst (15-5, 2.87) are each doing their thing, and youngster Victor Diaz (11-8, 3.28) isn’t a bad third starter option. The pen is strong, led by Ricky Mullin (1.13 WHIP in 83 games) and closer Charles Chen (31 of 36 saves.)

In the North, Augusta and Cincinnati are going at it again for the division title. The ‘Bears have the upper hand at the moment with a 3 game lead, and are favorites to take back the division title. Their middle of the line-up is stacked with the likes of Cleatus Alexander (.275/.425/.511), Javy Alvarez (.275/.375/.507) and Tony Juarez (.291/.346/.546). Alexander leads the squad with 127 RBI, all three have at least 30 bombs. Their deep rotation boasts 4 guys with at least 13 wins, led by Cy Young hopeful Flip “Lennon &” McCartney, who’s 18-10 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Pedro “High” Sierra is also having another strong season at 13-4, 2.85 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Osvaldo Castillo is having a great follow-up as the team’s closer, converting 30 of 33 save chances.

If Cincy can’t catch Augusta again, they’ll claim one of the wild card berths. Starter Guillermo Manzanillo is having a career year at 29, in going 15-5 with a 3.76 ERA, and is the star of the rotation. The line-up is stacked. There remains at outside chance that 4 guys will slug at least 30 homers and drive in 100 runs. The ones who are already there are C Brant Ducey (37/101) and newcomer Dioner Moreno (37/102). John Martin needs just one more ribbie to join the club (31 HR), and Pedro Quitero needs 7 more to go with his 35 bombs.

Charlotte will get back to the tournament as a wild card after taking an uncharacteristic year off. Peter “Crazy Ole Building & Loan” Bailey has provided a lift after coming over from Chicago midseason. He’s slugged 27 homers and driven in 64 since his arrival. He joins mainstay slugger Carlos “Exxon” Valdes (33 HR/88 RBI), Omar Estrella (30/87) and Tommy Jordan (28/82). Kenny Adams has swiped 67 bags while being caught just thrice. Mr. Consistent Estaban Guapo is having another outstanding season at the top of the rotation, going 12-8. Veteran Einar Tavarez made the All-star team, and is having a great year at 14-5 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. Relievers Norm Cohen and Charlse “1000 Ways to” Dye are solid options at the back end of the bullpen.

Jackson earns one of the first round byes. LA and the winner of the North are battling for the second.

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