Wednesday, February 20, 2008

NL playoff preview

It’s that time of year again, top teams slug it out against each other for the right to be called champions. NL has 4 teams in the playoffs with 100+ wins and the seeding wasn’t set until game 162 was played. Charlotte may be the favorite but any of these 6 teams are more than capable of making a run at the championship.

#1 seed

Charlotte FatNasty (113-88)

No surprises here, on top of the NL most of the season Charlotte will be the #1 seed in the NL playoffs and ready to make history. Featuring the 2nd best pitching staff and the 3rd best offense in the NL this team is the favorite to represent the NL in the WS. The pitching staff features starters like Derek O'Keefe (21-3, 2.60 era), Andruw Allen (14-5, 3.02 era) and Wilfredo Mendoza (17-4 3.21 era) as the probable 1-2-3 in the playoffs, Cookie Kondou (15-8, 3.56 era) and a very young Vic Guardado (16-5, 4.10 era) will be the 2 back ups and probably pitch out of the bullpen. Speaking of bullpens, the FatNasty have a really nasty bullpen that features Julio Nieves who appeared in 94 games for 165 inning of 2.93 era/1.03 WHIP and Miguel Bennett who saved 42/47 games this season. It will take a lot of good hitting to score runs against this pitching staff, specially the bullpen. Their offence with a good mix of young and veteran hitters like Y.Molina (74 HR), B.Beamon (.340BA), A.Hanley (209 hits), Dan Miller (.335 BA) and S.Morga (49 HR) is packed from top to bottom. Their 308 team HR is only 2nd in Hunter to Colorado, 955 team RBI’s and .298 team BA are both 3rd best in Hunter and their .364 team OBP, .509 team SLG and .873 team OPS are all 2nd best. Talk about a line up that can do it all, power, speed, on base %, hitting for average, you name it they can do it. The only area where Charlotte is not in the top 3 is their 8th NL ranked defense that posts .989 fielding % and 68 errors. This team is very capable of out-pitching and out-hitting any team in Hunter, facing them in a playoff series will be a very tough task for any opponent.

#2 seed

New York Metropolitans (110-52)

Since the All Star break this team posted a 57-15 record and surged into the #2 seed in the NL. In those 72 games they posted two 9-game win streaks followed by a 15-game win streak that’s best in franchise history. This team has the #1 pitching staff, #2 defense and #4 offense in the NL making them the most complete team in the tournament. The strength is obviously their pitching staff that will features Ace Kelvin Coleman (18-5, 1.98 era and 0.97 WHIP), Benito Bonilla (18-7. 2.94 era), Charlie Dickson (17-3, 3.60 era) and Don Cook (14-6, 3.45 era) as their 1-2-3-4. The Mets bullpen is lead by their veteran closer Felix Duran and reliever Buddy Beimel followed by Theodore Ward, 22 y.o. B.C Dali, Mark Cora, Richard Hoffman, Geoffry Larson and Bill Hilijus. This 8-man bullpen many times starts working in the 5th and 6th innings and was tested very often through out the season as shown in their 30-18 record in 1-run games and 12-5 record in extra inning games. This pitching staff currently posts 3.49 team era, 1.21 team WHIP, .236 team OAV and 1200 team K, all NL best. Their pitching staff is backed by the #2 defense in Hunter currently posting .991 fielding % with only 53 errors. Having the #2 pitching staff and best defense in the tournament should equal to major problem for any opposing offense. Speaking of offense, this Metropolitans offense isn’t power heavy nor is it fast but it is ranked 4th best in Hunter with .295 BA and 1693 total hits. Simply put, this line up may not hit many HR but they can out-hit any opponent. It’s really simple here, if you can out-pitch this team over a long playoff series you have a very good shot at winning because their offense may have problems winning games on their own. New York is also known for exiting the playoffs early, in 3 of 4 playoff appearances NY managed to exit in the 1st round with the 4th exit in the DCS.

#3 seed

St Louis Clydsdales (109-53)

St. Louis had the 2nd best overall record in the NL most of the season and one of the favorites to win the WS. The Clydsdales are the class of NL holding the #1 or #2 seed in 5 of the last 6 playoffs, the closest they came to winning a WS was last season where they lost to San Francisco in 7 games. This team has the 3rd best pitching staff in the NL with 3.95 team era and 1.23 WHIP, 5th best line up that posted a .293 team BA and lead the NL with 310 doubles and 50 triples and the 7th best defense in the NL that posted a .989 fielding % with 67 errors. Any way you look at this team you will not find many flaws and when this team runs on all cylinders it’s definitely one of the elite in Hunter. This pitching staff is lead by their Ace Mark Meng who posted a 23-3 record with 2.59 era 1.04 WHIP in 236 IP, followed by Giovanni Dale who’s 17-7 with 3.07 era and 1.19 WHIP and Shawn Owen who posted a 20-7 record with 3.73 era and 1.18 WHIP on the season. With this trio going as 1-2-3 in the playoff series there isn’t much room for the opposing hitters to score many runs. The starters are back up by a very good bullpen the features Pedro Ontiveros who appeared in 74 games and pitched 140 inning posting a 3.61 era, 1.21 WHIP, 16/19 saves and a very young Felipe Guerrero who was promoted to the bigs this season and posted a 1.93 era and 1.13 WHIP in 24 games, he also saved 7/7 games down the stretch. All I have to say is, good luck facing this pitching staff, the best lineups in the tournament will have major problems generating runs. The Clydsdales offense is truly a nightmare for any pitcher to face, starting with their MVP Erubiel Molina who hit 50 doubles, 19 triples, 23 HR and 235 total hits, Erubiel also stole 35 bases, hit .353 BA with a .426 OBP making him the best lead of hitter in the game today. Behind Erubiel we have good veterans hitter like J.P. Mercedes (.325BA), B.O’Neil (.324BA), A.Wright (.311BA) and L.Stevenson who’s rated as one of the best hitters in Hunter. After last seasons WS lose St. Louis will not be satisfied with anything less than a WS championship.

#4 seed

Colorado Blasters (106-56)

This team has posted 100+ wins in the each of the last 5 seasons, winning the WS championship twice. The Blasters yet again come into the season 7 playoffs loaded from top to bottom and ready to make a run at their 3rd championship.
Colorado has the best offense in the NL that hit 428 HR, 1082 RBI’s, .568 team SLG and .935 team OPS, all tops in Hunter. This line up also features the best overall hitter in the world in Frank Zhang who posted 1.199 OPS in 124 games played. The rest of the line up is as capable featuring Lonny Iglesias (62 HR, 152 RBI’s), Jason Hutton (56 HR), Erubiel Johnson (53 HR), Brace Star (48 HR) should I continue? This lineup is capable of out scoring any opposition and is definitely more than capable of caring this team to the top. The Blasters pitching staff is ranked 5th in the NL with 4.52 team era, 1.39 team WHIP and .275 team OAV but they pitch in Coors field. With starters like Jumbo Urbina (2.96 era, 1.12 WHIP), David Anderson (3.86 era, 1.44 WHIP), Gene Fitzgerald (5.04 era, 1.46 WHIP) and Herman Wasadin ( 6.13 era, 1.64 WHIP) this pitching staff is a lot better than their stats show. This pitching staff also took a huge hit when Luis Vega went down with a season ending injury and will not be available for the playoffs. Colorado defense is the weak point of this team, currently ranked 15th in the NL (2nd worst) with a .984 fielding %, whopping 98 errors. Beating this team in a playoff series will not be easy, trying to out-score them is almost impossible and their 1-2-3 starters will be more then enough to allow the offense to take over games, if their defense can play at a higher level this team is more than capable of winning the WS.

#5 seed

San Juan TCB (103-59)

Offense is king, the TCB lineup is currently ranked #1 in NL with .305 team BA and .378 team OBP, 2nd with 302 doubles and 1802 total hits. This lineup features Angel Bolivar who played in all 162 games and posted a .402 BA and .463 OBP, he may not be the best power hitter in the game but with 292 total hits he’s definitely the best flat out hitter in Hunter. Players like John Stevens (51 HR), Garrett Biggio (143 rbi’s), Pedro Torealba (.349 BA) and Alex James (.338 BA) round up this unbelievable line up. San Juan pitching staff is ranked 4th in the NL with a 4.37 team era and 1.35 team WHIP. TCB may be the only team in the tournament that uses tandem style pitching so there are no clear 1-2-3 starters. Jacque Jefferson who started 55 games and pitched the most innings (282) out of the bunch posted a 4.85 era and 1.46 WHIP. Sean Serrano started 32 games and appeared in 53 with a 4.56 era and 1.44 WHIP. Luis Santayana started 29 and appeared in 52 games with a 4.26 era and 1.14 WHIP and Jose Guzman who started 33 games and appeared in 55 with a 3.95 era and 1.26 WHIP. The bullpen is again a mix of all the pitchers who sometimes start and sometimes relieve but the 2 man save show features a killer closer Aubrey Lamb who posted a 2.15 era, 0.99 WHIP and saved 12/16 and Jack Stanley who saved 10/11 with a 3.42 era and 1.13 WHIP. This pitching staff is full of very good starters and relievers, the real question for the opposition is who pitches and when. San Juan defense is ranked 4th in the NL with a .990 fielding % and only 62 errors and isn’t far from being the best. This team has the total package, top to bottom, facing this team in a playoff series will be a tough task for any opposing team.

#6 seed

Buffalo Nickles (83-79)

This team has proven last season by beating NY in the 1st round that regular season record doesn’t matter much in the playoffs, and they’re out to prove the same this season. Buffalo comes in with the 7th best pitching staff, 8th best lineup and 2nd best defense in the NL. Their pitching staff that posted 4.74 team era and 1.44 team WHIP as a team features Marlon Watkins (4.14 era), Ivan Cannon (4.60 era) and Peter Carpenter (4.76 era) as their 1-2-3 punch. The bullpen features Daniel Zoltan (3.28 era and 1.05 WHIP) and Ross Kingston saved 27/36 games. Buffalos offense carried this team for a good portion of the season and is definitely capable of a lot more that their 8th rank shows. With hitters like Archie Blake (.331BA) P.J. Simpson (.321 BA), Chris Rose (41 doubles, 36 HR) and Matty Garces (50HR) this lineup is capable of scoring runs against the best pitchers in the game. The strength of this Nickles team is their #2 ranked defense that posted an amazing .991 fielding % and made only 55 errors. Not many people would give this team a chance but I wouldn’t count them out so quick, specially in a close series. Buffalo may not have the best hitter or the best pitcher in the game but if this team gets into a close series with that #2 defense, they may shock some people.

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