Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Separation at the Top (NXPL' 82 Update)

The American League this last week in the 1982 NXPL Season experienced some separation at the top of the League; Both the Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers swept their opponents to improve to a majors-best 25-10 (The National League's Montreal Expos are also 25-10).

Baltimore faced the California Angels (who were 17-13 & only 3 games back, entering play); The Angels' bats could not get rolling the first two games, suffering 6-1 & 4-1 losses with 4 hits in each contests -- and would be outscored 27-10 by the O's.

Meanwhile the Tigers, rebounded against the Chicago White Sox, after suffering a 3-2 series loss to those Baltimore Orioles; Detroit would not win as convincing as the O's did against the halos -- Detroit would sweep this series on clutch bullpen pitching; Winning each game by a single run!

Detroit would win the series finale in 12 innings, with a clutch walk-off single to right field by Howard Johnson.

The White Sox by the way, entered the series at 16-14; With the series losses for the Angels and White Sox, and with the Orioles & Tigers soaring... some separation has been made.

The division now appears like this...

The Detroit Tigers' success has so far relied mostly on its team pitching (1.84 ERA) -- lead by starting pitchers Mario Soto, Joaquin Andujar & Dan Petry. In fact, they can start being nicknamed the "Big Three" with a combined 18-0 record through 21 contests!

  • Soto: 5-0, 1.45 ERA, 2 CG (1 SHO), 47 K / 10 BB, with a .821 WHIP (56 IP).
  • Andujar: 7-0, 1.03 ERA, 2 CG (2 SHO), 23 K / 11 BB, with a .892 WHIP (52.2 IP).
  • Petry: 6-0, 1.36 ERA, 3 CG (3 SHO), 32 K / 13 BB, with a .925 WHIP (53 IP).
Andujar has been impressive, 7-0 with 1.03 ERA, just over a month into season.

The bullpen has been almost as impressive with a 1.95 ERA...
  • Dave Rozema: 4 Saves, 4 Holds, 1.74 ERA, 7 K & 1 BB (.774 WHIP) in 10.1 IP.
  • Andy Hassler: 1 Save, 5 Holds, 2.38 ERA, 5 K's in 11.1 innings (been a bit lucky, with 8 walks allowed).
  • Dave Tobik: 2 W, 1 SV, 2 Holds; 1.32 ERA, 11 K & 4 BB (.732 WHIP) in 13.2 IP.
  • Sid Monge: 2 Saves, 3 Holds, 3.27 ERA, 5 K (11 hits allowed) in 11 Innings.
Dave Rozema has been excellent, I use my bullpen basically by committee depending on the situation, and I am already finding it hard to be a bit selective with Rozema; I only have him for so many innings due to limited play in 1982 for him. 

Adding another bullpen arm will help, so I may shop around. Jim Slaton, a spot starter/reliever for the Tigers just returned from the disabled list, and will help take the load off some of the guys in the pen -- helping to preserve innings in the other arms, and facing lower pressure situations.

The Lineup has been better of late for the Tigers, with the team batting .242; There are areas in the lineup that still needs work. Jason Thompson, is a prime example -- Thompson hit .284, 31 HR & 101 RBI for the Pirates in 1982, with a .391 on-base percentage & .902 OPS; Thompson for the Tigers? .230 batting average, 5 HR & 11 RBI (.314 OBP & .716 OPS) through 35 games.

The team OPS right now is .685 with a .303 on-base percentage; Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, most noticeably been playing below standards -- but they are not as relied on for their bats (at this point of their career) compared to Bill Madlock, Thompson & even an aging Bill Oglivie.

The interesting factor is that our .303 OBP & .242 batting average has us 4th in those areas, in our 8-team American League, while our team ERA leads the pack (1.84) to second-best Baltimore (2.71 ERA). The Minnesota Twins lead the A.L. with a .267 average, while the Orioles and Angels have better producing lineups as well. 

The Tigers' lineup still can improve which is something to be even more exciting about, although I am not sure if our bullpen will be as stellar as the season goes deeper... It will definitely be an interesting thing to watch as the year goes on.

I always believe in run differential, and the two teams that stand apart from the rest, are both the Orioles (+64) and the Tigers (+55) -- The next best team in the A.L. is the Angels (+20); The Twins who have the best hitting & scoring (164 runs/2nd), are at a -20 run differential, due to their suspect pitching. The Tigers in comparison have scored 31 less runs, but have only allowed 78 runs (2.2 runs per game).

Entering the season, I believed we ranked among the best 4 teams in the American League, but now I believe it is definitely a pennant race between the Orioles and Tigers -- it's their league to lose, another team to be in the mix would be more of a surprise (it's possible), but that would have to involve a big trade acquisition; My Tigers plan to add to the mix, and hope we have enough to take Baltimore, I do think they have the edge on us right now.

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