Saturday, February 21, 2009

Who's Hot, Who's Not

Season 5 has hit the 20 game mark, so it's time for the first installment. Here's what's been going on around the league.

National League

WHO'S HOT: Salem Sacrifices

Record: The Sacrifices are off to a NL best 16-4 record

Big Series Wins: Sweeping Vancouver, Cheyenne, and Trenton all in a row to start the season 10-0 fueled the hot start.

How: The pitching has been spectacular, but the offense is actually the story. Kareem Ortiz is off to a huge start, driving in 21 runs. All 5 guys who have logged at least 70 at-bats are hitting above .300.

Also Hot:

Houston's bid for 5 division titles in a row is off to a good start with a 15-5 record

Fargo is riding a huge start by stud pitcher Javier Henriquez to a 15-5 record.

Chicago won't let Fargo run away early, keeping close with a 13-7 start.

Norfolk leads the NL East at 12-8.

WHO'S NOT: Vancouver Golden Otters

Record: The defending NL champs are off to a 5-15 start, sitting in the NL West basement.

Key Series Losses: A 4-game sweep by Salem to start the season hurt, but losing 3 in a row at Philadelphia is probably worse.

How: Pitching. Jesse Bridges is the only starter with an ERA under 4.90, and the relievers who have logged the most innings thus far (Rey Wells and Jackson Hayes) have ERAs of 5.11 and 7.94, respectively.

Also Not Hot:

Toronto has given up the most runs in the NL on their way to a 6-14 start.

Fellow NL North denizen Philadelphia scores the fewest with a matching 6-14 record.

Austin's struggles from last season continue with a 7-13 start.

Washington D.C. assumes its normal status as NL East bottom dweller at 7-13.

Trenton's supposedly strong offense has struggled out of the gate, as the Traffic are 8-12.

American League

WHO'S HOT: Monterrey Sultans

Record: The Sultans are absolutely on fire as they've started 17-3.

Key Series Wins: Taking 2 out of 3 from Milwaukee is probably more impressive than sweeping some of the other teams they've played.

How: Offense/soft schedule. Especially since it's early in the season, it's hard to determine if the Sultans generated so much offense because the opposition has been bad or if all those teams' records are bad because Monterrey is so good. At any rate, they're scoring a full run more a game than any AL team, but they've played 3 out of the 4 basement teams in the AL.

Who else is hot:

Louisville finds a way to win the close games as the lead the AL East at 15-5.

New York keeps pace at 14-6 as their pitching has been spectacular.

Las Vegas continues to beat up on the AL West, leading the division at 12-8.

Nashville continues to score and give up runs at an alarming rate, starting off 12-8.

Buffalo gives up about half a run more than it scores each game, but somehow (for now) they lead the NL North at 11-9.

WHO'S NOT: Anaheim Chiles

Record: The Chiles are in last in the AL West at 5-15

Key Series Losses: Losing 3 out of 4 to Seattle to start the season and following with losing 2 out of 3 to Boise got them off to a bad start, and then the schedule got tougher.

How: Deadweight. The lineup has guys like Alex Estrada, James Dixon, and George Spencer who are carrying the lineup, but Deacon Archer, Pedro Candelaria, Daryle Van Poppel, and Alex Vazquez all have more than 60 at-bats- none are hitting above .218 and they've combined for 16 RBIs.

Also Not Hot:

Apparently, when I picked Boston to win the east, I put the kiss of death on them. They've started 6-14.

Jackson's young starting pitchers are going to have nightmares of Monterrey and Nashville hitters. They've given up the most runs in the AL, starting 6-14.

Scranton outscores its opponents and yet is 8-12.

Seattle has trouble scoring in Safeco and has started 8-12.

Boise can't keep their opponents off the board and matches Seatt;e's 8-12.

Milwaukee, the defending champs, are scoring less than they give up and are in last place in the AL North at 8-12.

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