On the eve of both the HBD version of Christmas (the amateur draft) and interleague play for about half of the league, we again take a look at who's hot and who's not in both leagues (now that my wish list is done- hope Santa brings me what I asked for).
WHO'S HOT- San Juan Dead Bunnies
Record: The rabbits of rigor mortis went 14-5 in their last 19 games.
How: Schedule. Yes, the Dead Bunnies did get their offense going (to the tune of 9.6 runs a game), but the schedule did have something to do with it. They played Philadelphia (two series), Washington (two series), Chicago, and Atlanta- none of those four teams has a winning record. That said, good teams are supposed to beat up on weaker teams and San Juan did what they were supposed to do. In the process, they've asserted themselves as the best offense in the NL and pulled to within 4 games of the defending champs down in Houston.
Upcoming: Interleague with the talented AL South (Monterrey, Nashville, Little Rock, Jackson) may be a truer test of where the Dead Bunnies are as a team. They should be able to hold their own.
Trenton extended their NL East lead with a 13-6 record in the last 19.
Cheyenne is in last in the NL West but they get closer to the pack with a 12-7 stretch.
WHO'S NOT: Fargo Dirtbags
Records: No one was awful during this stretch, as the worst record was 7-12: four teams were tied with this record. Since Fargo and Norfolk are the defending NL North and NL East champions, respectively, it narrowed my choice down to those two (more was expected from them this season than Washington and Philadelphia). Whenever there's a tie, you have to go with head-to-head as a tiebreaker. During this stretch, Norfolk took 2 out of 3 from the Dirtbags, so they stay out of this spot.
How: Bullpen. Out of the 12 losses, 5 of them were games in which the Dirtbags had a lead which was subsequently blown by the bullpen. Kevin Li (5.29 season ERA)and 3-time All-Star Bert Price (8.02 ERA, 4 blown saves), two of the guys who Fargo was counting on, have been awful.
Upcoming: They draw the AL North in interleague action- Milwaukee is never an easy win, and Syracuse and St. Louis are both good teams. It's not going to get much easier soon.
Also not hot:
Norfolk lost 6 games in the standings to Trenton by going 7-12.
Philadelphia and Washington take up residence in familiar territory (last place) with matching 7-12 records.
Who's Hot: New York New York
Record: New York and Colorado Springs had matching 13-6 records and didn't play each other. Slight edge to New York for playing a slightly more difficult schedule.
How: Home cooking. They won 7 out of 10 on their home field, including a 3-game sweep of Monterrey. They had a nightmarish 10-game stretch playing exclusively Milwaukee (7 games) and Monterrey. They went 6-4, aided by a 5-2 stretch at Yankee Stadium.
Upcoming: They'll get the NL East, which has 3 teams with a losing record as of now. If those trends continue, they could stay hot.
Colorado Springs went from the coldest at the last check-in to just below the hottest, matching New York's 13-6 record with a slightly easier schedule (slightly misleading, as Buffalo was the only team they played below .500).
St. Louis went 12-7 to stay within reaching distance of Milwaukee in the AL North.
Who's Not: Buffalo Blue Cheese
Record: 5-14 in the last 19 drops them even with Philadelphia for the worst record in the entire league.
How: Offense. In the last 19 games, the Buffalo offense has determined how the team fares. They were 5-3 when they scored 4 or more runs, but 0-11 when scoring 3 or less.
Upcoming: The NL North is next on the list. They draw Philadelphia first in what could be the race for the #1 pick next season, and then the rest of the disappointing NL North (Fargo, Chicago, Toronto).
Also not hot:
Anaheim went 6-13 to fall into 3rd place and well of the Las Vegas Gamblers' pace in the AL West.