We're a little past 20 games into the season, so Seymour Duless sends us his notes on the first few weeks around the NL:
- It may be early, but Fargo and Atlanta seem to be separating themselves from everyone else. They're both scoring 5.8 runs a game, and everyone knows they can pitch.
- Trenton and Salt Lake City are both 14-9 for the same reason: they win close games (5-1 and 7-2, respectively, in one-run games).
- I'm not worried about Chicago-yet. I'd look at the schedule as a big reason for the tough start they had- they went 2-7 in their first 9, but 6 of those losses were to Fargo and Houston.
- Interesting that Houston is 8-2 in the division and yet hasn't managed to separate themselves- New Orleans (who handed them those 2 losses) is only 1 back.
- Cheyenne has given up the most runs in the NL and somehow is 13-10.
- The biggest disappointment has been Salem. They can't win if their pitching is in the middle of the pack, because their offense is near the bottom of the league. Dwight Salmon going 0-4 with a 4.15 ERA might be a big reason. Philip Allensworth doesn't look the same coming off the injury.
-Philadelphia was looking halfway decent until losing 11 in a row. I can understand losing to Chicago and getting swept by Fargo, but getting swept at home by Vancouver is not a good sign.
-Gregg Black looks like his old self in New Orleans- he's hitting .424 with 7 HRs and 29 RBI in 23 games.
- Add Atlanta's 24-year-old 2B Jason Walker to the list of guys in this league to watch. He's one of 4 guys in the NL with an OPS of over 1.100 right now, joining established stars Black (1.241), Houston's Monte Duvall (leading right now at 1.312), and Trenton's Cap Herrera (1.114). Teammate Stan Starr and Fargo's 30-year-old rookie Ricardo Martinez (!) are knocking at the door.
-Speaking of Martinez, he's 4th in the NL in homers right now. Right ahead of him are 2 teammates (David Rushford and Tomas DeJesus). Duvall leads right now- he's probably an early front-runner for MVP.
- As for Herrera, he's loving life in Trenton. The top 3 in the Traffic lineup of Watty Miller, Bret King, and Herrera are hitting a combined .350 with 14 HRs and 42 RBI so far. All three have on-base averages of at least .400 and they have one more thing in common- none of them were on Trenton's Opening Day roster last season.
- Raymond Lamb of Toronto has to be my Least Valuable Player so far. He's making 5.4 million and has an OPS of .381 (.211 OBP, .170 SLG). At least 25 NL hitters have on-base percentages higher than Lamb OPS (on-base + slugging).
- Javier Henriquez is putting up typical Henriquez-type numbers, but his teammate has started out just as hot. Henriquez is 5-0 and his ERA is an other-worldly 1.12 (maybe I'll just call him Bob Gibson from now on), but Sammy Pierce is also 5-0 and while his ERA is a more human 2.05, his WHIP (0.68) cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Vancouver fans have to be frustrated when the manager takes the starting pitcher out. Golden Otter starters have an ERA of 3.10 this season. The bullpen ERA is 6.11 and has blown 7 of a possible 11 saves. Closer Chris Jennings has already blown 4 of 8 saves and has an ERA of 11.25.