|The acquisition of Donaldson helped give Fairgrove a push in the right direction.|
APBA Blog's Thomas Nelshoppen) go from 74-59 (8.5 games up on 2nd place Louisville) to losing their division with a 81-81 record, tied with the Louisville Sluggers -- all while the Holland Hitchhikers (Steve Ruder) leap frogs both teams, by winning the N.L. East with a 83-79 record.
Holland becomes the 4th different franchise to win this division in its 4 years of existence. The only team in this division that could win at home this season, in this division, was the Louisville franchise (47-34 at home), the other 3 teams all went 37-44 each.
By the way, Holland won entered the playoffs on a 6-game winning streak, while Urbana lost their last 9 games.
My Traverse City Panthers would finish in last with a 78-84 record, only 5 games out of first, despite trading away both Josh Donaldson & Matt Carpenter at the trade deadline. I don't regret the moves because both trades are to better the franchise's future.
The N.L. West, meanwhile was between two sturdy, playoff-contenders in the San Diego Heroes & the 3-Time National League Champion - Portland Microbrewers. San Diego would become the first N.L. West Division Champs in division history, not known as Portland, winning the division by 4 games over the Brew Crew with a 97-65 record. Portland still qualified for the N.L. Wild Card spot.
The San Diego Heroes are managed by my youngest brother, Christopher Baier. Chris Baier, if you all remember is my same brother that went to the Championship Game (using the Basic APBA Cards) for the Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (GMABT), in it's 1st tournament.
Over in the American League, we had a 5-team race for 3 playoff spots. The last couple years, it's been like this in the American League, with some unfortunate teams not making the cut. The Fairgrove Tigers (Robert Mosher) were for the most part, the only safe bet to be heading for the playoffs, in fact the Tigers would be the only team to win 100 games this season, and the first team to do that in the BoS in two seasons (there was no 100 game winners or losers in Season 3 - 2015). Mosher gave his Tigers that extra push, when he acquired Josh Donaldson from Traverse City (with OF-Norichika Aoki) in exchange for 3B-Nick Castellanos, SP-Yordana Ventura & their 2017 1st Round Draft Pick -- while also landing pitchers Zack Greinke & Dan Haren from the South Side Spartans in exchange for pitchers Rick Porcello & Jake Odorizzi.
The Chicago Nine after a rough first month, got things in order & threatened to take the division from Fairgrove, but would finish second with 93 wins; Chicago would win the A.L. Wild Card spot over the A.L. East's Corktown Tamales (89-73) & South Side Spartans (85-77). The Micatin Destroyers, formerly known as the South Shore Fighting Imps would win their 3rd A.L. East Division Title (all under manager Bill Gillam), winning their first division title since 2014, after a down year (68-94) in 2015.
The bad finish in 2015 that led to the worst record in the BoS for the Imps, set them up for the future, led by the #1 overall pick of third baseman Kris Bryant. The Imps changed their name due to the similarity of their South Shore title to the Spartans' South Side name title, plus Gillam wanted to use a team name that he has used before in past APBA Baseball projects in the Micatin Destroyers.
LEAGUE DIVISIONAL SERIES
The Holland Hitchhikers' wild ride kept rolling into the playoffs, led by Rougned Odor's .571 batting average in 15 plate appearances (.600 OBP / 1.071 SLG /1.671 OPS), plus 5 ribbies -- while Holland cut off the Portland Microbrewers' hitting supply (.239 Team BA) as Portland came up empty in a 3-1 series loss. Portland's only win came on the road in Game 2, a 7-5, 11th Inning victory.
Meanwhile, in the American League...
|Stroman was all pumped up for Chicago in the ALDS round.|
|Man on Fire: A historic series for J.D. Martinez.|
The Fairgrove Tigers (A.L.) and the San Diego Heroes (N.L.) earned first-round byes, and now play the winners of the LDS playoffs.
LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
First off, the American League Championship Series...
Not sure if it was the time off that effected the San Diego Heroes or it was the fact that Lance Lynn (of Holland) owned them in his two outings; Lynn went 1-0, with 11 K's & a 0.66 ERA -- he did allow 9 walks though, but that all leveled out as he only allowed 6 hits, which combined resulted in a sturdy 1.098 WHIP (13.2 Innings).
It also didn't help San Diego's matters that Holland had the three hottest bats in either LCS in J.D. Martinez (.435 BA), Starling Marte (.421 BA) & Bryce Harper (.409 BA). Martinez led the entire bunch with 1.804 OPS, 6 HR's & 13 RBI; The 6 round-trippers is easily a BoS Playoff Series record!
Martinez' record-breaking performance triggered memories of Portland's Freddie Freeman from a few years ago, while Holland's run can be compared to the equivalent of the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, 2007 Colorado Rockies & the 2014 Kansas City Royals.
The National League Championship Series featured a familiar playoff face in their ace, Madison Bumgarner... of course, most MLB fans are quite aware of his playoff success, but let it be known that in the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League, he has been no stranger here as well. Certainly, the Chicago franchise won't forget his name anytime soon.
Bumgarner would go 1-0, with 1.13 ERA, 20 K's in 16 innings of work (including his 4-hit, 1 ER, 11 K performance in Game 2). By the way, let's not take away the fact that Zack Greinke (a trade deadline deal) would pay huge dividends with his great LCS performance as well... 1-1, 1.80 ERA & 14 K's in 15 innings -- which included his 3-hit shutout (9 K's) in Game 1 of the series.
|It's not far-fetched to believe that "Mad Bum" may be Superman.|
A look at Bumgarner's brilliant BoS Playoff Career, so far...
- 2013 ALDS: 1-0, 1.35 ERA, 13 K / 1 BB (1.050 WHIP), 6 H & 1 ER allowed (6.2 IP).
- 2014 ALCS: 2-0, 0.56 ERA, 18 K / 5 BB (0.813 WHIP), 8 H & 1 ER allowed (16 IP).
- 2014 BoS WS: 1-1 5.68 ERA, 12 K / 5 BB (1.184 WHIP), 10 H & 8 ER allowed (12.2 IP).
- Game 5 - 2014 WS: Only bad outing "Mad Bum" has ever produced, he lasted 5.2 IP, allowing 6 hits, 7 earned runs, 4 walks -- while producing 8 K's. Every other start in his playoff has been 1 ER allowed or less!
- 2016 ALCS: 1-0, 1.13 ERA, 20 K / 4 BB (.625 WHIP), 6 H & 2 ER allowed (16 IP)
- Playoff Totals: 5-1, 2.10 ERA, 63 K / 15 BB (.877 WHIP), 30 H & 12 ER allowed (51.1 IP & 7 game starts).
The Fairgrove Tigers combined for a 2.52 ERA, while holding Chicago to a .181 batting average. The Tigers would win the series, 4-2 -- their 2-0 series start with Greinke & Bumgarner proved to be too much for Chicago to overcome.
WORLD SERIES Preview
Next up: The 4th BoS World Series, featuring the 100-62 Fairgrove Tigers (A.L. Champs) against Cinderella's 83-79 Holland Hitchhikers (N.L. Champs) -- N.L. has home-field advantage for this upcoming series.