Sunday, August 30, 2009

Around the NL at the Quarter Pole

Our intrepid NL reporter Seymour Duless checks in after 40 games for his observations:

- After 20 games it looked like it was Atlanta and Fargo in one category, and then there was everyone else. Atlanta has maintained that level; Fargo's been solid but not at that spectacular level they were playing at in the last 20 games. Atlanta is clearly the best team in this league right now.

- Fargo is probably #2 right now, although Salt Lake City and Trenton have the same record and are looking pretty good so far. Interesting difference in styles; Fargo has the best ERA in the NL outside of Atlanta, while Salt Lake City and Trenton are 1-2 in runs scored.

- The surprise of the first 40 games has to be Austin. They're 17-8 in their last 25 games and are currently sitting atop the NL South, one game better than Houston. Jimmie Williams has made a huge difference in their lineup and Ed Allen is pitching way over his head right now. Allen's greatness may not continue and the bullpen is shaky, but Austin fans are still enjoying life right now.

- Trenton has to hate playing in the NL East. They have little chance of catching Atlanta, but would be in a good fight in any other division. They're a NL best 9-1 in one run games and they're the only team to have 3 guys who've scored more than 30 runs (Watty Miller, Cap Herrera, Bret King).

- Chicago has too many key players struggling right now. Bernie Soriano is hitting .194, Ryan Snyder is hitting .218, and Neifi McBride is hitting .232. As for their starters, they're not much better; Marty Lane is 1-4 with a 5.23 ERA and no starter has an ERA under 4.

- Why does San Juan have the 2nd highest payroll in baseball and the worst record in the NL? 3/5 of their rotation (Jerry Terry, Charlie White, Benny Alarcon) combine to pitch at a 6.26 ERA. Which is a shame, as Hipolito Pujols is pitching a lot like he did before that catastrophic elbow injury in Season 1- this is the closest he's been to his old self since the surgery.

- After 20 games, it looked like Fargo LF Ricardo Martinez would run away with the Rookie of the Year Award. But Salem 3B Juan Valdes and Atlanta C Odalis Lopez are both right on his heels now.

- From the "Why did I sign up for this?" category, Harry Lee of Philadelphia is pitching to a 3.31 ERA, has a WHIP under 1, and an OBP of less than .200. He's outpitched fellow ace Bernie Robinson thus far. His reward: a 1-6 record.

- I've still got Houston's Monte Duvall as the front-runner for the MVP. Of course, it's only 1/4 of the way through, so it's too early to tell what's going to happen. But Duvall has a track record; it's possible he can keep up a pace at least close to this. By the way, he's on pace to hit 88 homers, which would break teammate Bob Koplove's single-season record of 69 homers.

- If I had to give out the Cy Young award right now, I'd take Fargo's Sammy Pierce just over Salem's Dave Dunwoody. Where would Salem be without Dunwoody?

- It probably won't keep up, but it should still be noted: Austin's William Saitou is on pace for 152 stolen bases this season. If he keeps getting on base, he could threaten Justin Hernandez's 134 steals in Season 3, The Bigs record.

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