Minor League Championship Games

By S. Samek

The triple -a baseball season wrapped up for the 2017 campaign on September 19,2017. The matchup for the level championship was the Durham Bulls and Memphis Cardinals. Th champs of the International League Durham won it thanks to a big grand slam by Kean Wong in a 5-3 victory.

As I was looking on twitter I saw a tweet asking why the other levels of the minors didn’t have national championship games. I figured it would be something to look into.
I think that it would be a good idea to see championships be played at other levels of the minors. It gives teams another game to play for a championship. If nothing else it’s a couple extra at bats and innings thrown for your pitcher. No down side really. Sure, injuries may occur. But these always a risk of those anytime you play.
If anything, you would think that the Triple A game wouldn’t be played. This is because most September call ups occur from Triple A. So, a decision is in play to call up players for the big club, or stay pat and try to win a triple a title. Double A players may get called up as will some high a players. Levels lower than this shouldn’t have this issue.

One issue though is the number of leagues.

Triple A has two leagues in the states, so they just play. Double A and High A have three. Class A and short season have two apiece, while rookie has five leagues. So, would the other leagues, just take the best two records, or play a round robin. I think that would be the hardest choice to make. Which team gets to host said game could be an issue to. I would just solve that simply by rotating it between leagues.
Plus, if it’s only one game, or even a round robin it’s only an extra day at most. A double header could be played with the three entrant classes and it would be over without elongating the season. Giving players time to relax before fall leagues and instructs. Call ups would then be able to join the MLB clubs for at least a solid month of development.
I’m all for more baseball and a chance to see elite prospects more times. A championship game for each class would give that opportunity. Make it happen MILB.

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Fayetteville Baseball 2019 Name

Fan vote determines new identity.

By S. Samek

It was discussed in a prior post how bad and boring the new Houston Astros affiliate in the Carolina league’s new name would be. http://bit.ly/2mBxu8e

 Fortunately, this is just a two-year stop gap name until the team moves to a new stadium in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Name possibilities have been announced and well let’s check them out here.

 

First up is The Fatbacks. The name is explained as coming from a pork dish, popular down south. Absolutely not does this need to be a nickname. Food nicknames are starting to get ridiculous. http://bit.ly/2uJuui0.

Also, really a pig them, it doesn’t show much creativity. I mean you have the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs the Texas Air Hogs any Razorbacks you can think of, the former Winston-Salem Warthogs. I don’t think swine is the way to go.

Batting second is the Flytraps. Apparently, the plant is native to the wetlands of Carolina. It also matches up with catching fly balls. To me it screams backyard baseball copycat. It’s a fun name for a kid’s game, but not for the major leagues.

Third we have the Jumpers. The name comes from parachute regiments at Fort Bragg nearby, specifically the 82nd airborne division. Good effort though I think misplaced. Jumper isn’t really a flattering term. Why not try like the artillery, Battery, or old school Generals, maybe Cannons, or raiders. The possibilities are there if you look and think a bit creatively.

Fourth up is the Wood Dogs. This is a meh name. Sounds too much like the Down East Wood Ducks. It’s just rather boring. Also, too close to the Fayetteville Swamp Dogs of the Coastal Planes League.

Finally, we have the Woodpeckers.  Named after an endangered species in the area. It just doesn’t seem like an exciting name. It just falls into the generic bird category.

Not impressed with this crop of names. They just feel generic and boring. Not much better than Astros. I think they have something with a military angle, but it needs to not be jumpers. Interesting to see the final name and logo.

 

 

 

 

 

His Honor

Yankees rookie is on many radars.

By S. Samek.

The New York Yankees a team of money. Known to flash the cash at whatever free agent can come their way. Yet what if I told you the Yanks did it the old-fashion way and have a home-grown talent dominating the game today.

The domination comes in the form of rookie outfielder Aaron Judge. Judge is hitting at a .344 clip with 21 home runs and 47 RBI. All of those are top marks in the American League.  The 21 homers are a league-wide best. Throw in additional top marks for runs scored, walks, total bases and the dominance is real.

Judge is coming off a week where he hit .500. Got on base at a .600 while slugging 1.00. The Yanks won five of the six contests and led the American League East.  The impressive week gave Judge the nod as player of the week for the first time in his career.

 

This comes on the heels of Judge being named AL rookie of the month for both April and May.

If that doesn’t get your attention his power should. On Sunday June 11,2017 Judge hit 495 feet, clearing the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. It was the second longest tracked home run ever, sense 2015 and the longest homer in the majors this year.

 The power looks to be real too. By homering 21 times to date, Judge has already amassed a career high in homers. Judge hit 56 homers in the minor leagues, with 39 of them coming in the past two seasons. 27 of those round trippers came at the triple a level. Think twice pitchers before throwing the high heat.

Judge was a great player in the minors. Three times he was selected as an Milb.com Yankees organization all-star. In 2014, he received an invitation to play for Scottsdale of the Arizona Fall League for advanced prospects. Judge made the AFL all-prospect team for his play with Scottsdale, while also being an AFL player of the week award. Then in 2015 Judge was selected for the Futures game as a member of the Scranton/WB Railriders. The first call to the majors came on August 13,2016 when the Yankees selected his contract.

Judge suited up in 27 games during that final month of 2016. He hit .179, but had 4 home runs and 10 rbi. Though an oblique strain sent him to the 15-day DL. Now the injury looks to be behind him and the numbers are improving.

Judge’s stellar season has gained the attention of fans league wide. Judge has the led in the All-star game vote for the American league outfield. His over a million and 250 thousand and 500 votes is the top mark in the American league for any position. To capitalize on this success Judge has earned his own cheering section. The section has been dubbed the Judge’s chambers and sits in right field. Fans wear judges robs and receive foam gavels that say “All Rise.”  True intimidation factor for opposing right fielders. Judge approves of the section too.

 

Can’t wait to see this guy in the all-star game. Should he win the triple crown, Judge can easily put a stamp on Rookie of the Year as well. No jury deliberation needed on that one.

 

Save the Save

By S. Samek

The hot button statistical topic of Major League Baseball is the save. Just how important is the save. Is it worth saving your so called top relief pitcher for a situation that may never come.

Be hold a new strategy. Andrew Miller gets acquired by the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline. Miller was acquired to be the Indians shutdown man in the ninth inning closer. When did he enter the game, as early as the fifth inning during the Indians run to the end of October baseball. Then behold the debate on whether or not the closer, or at least the modern one is going to become extinct.

Miller’s role was that of the fireman. The old-school terms for relievers. That came in during a tough situation to put out the fire. Firemen pitched multiple innings with the tightest of leds. The save wasn’t even adopted by the MLB until 1969. The save then gave way to the relief man of the year award solely tabulated on save and win total.

 

Today the best arms are sent into the ninth innings with up to a three-run led for the all-important save. The starters go the six expected or maybe seven innings the turn it over to an 8th inning guy and the closer in the ninth.  It’s a bull pen of specialization rather than get in there and get the guy out no matter what the scenario.

Taking a look at the save requirements. According to the Major league baseball rule book, Saves:
Rule 10.20 in the Official Rule Book states:
Credit a pitcher with a save when he meets all three of the following conditions:
(1) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his club; and
(2) He is not the winning pitcher; and
(3) He qualifies under one of the following conditions:
– (a) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; or
– (b) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat, or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batsmen he faces; or
– (c) He pitches effectively for at least three innings. No more than one save may be credited in each game.

 

Seems too easy right. Three run led saves require everyone due up in the inning to score if tied.  Though under conditions 3 b and c the save is much tougher, but still reasonable.

An alternative was given for the stat called the Goose egg. It is a harder save set up more in the old fireman style. A long explanation can be seen here.

Though the first part of the article is about how too many stats are ruining baseball. So why add another one. Why not just change the save requirements and call it a day? Why not just get rid of the save all together?

I advocate for the latter. It promotes the best pitcher pitching to get the outs rather than waiting and wasting your best pitcher on a chance that may never come.

Two I hate the fact that it is such a situational stat. The number of saves a pitcher gets changes based on the number of three and under run wins a team gets. So why are teams aiming to win by less, just for a stat. Granted the stat is a bit of an equalizer as an 80-win team and 50-win team can both have 30 plus save men in a season if the chips fall right. Though the save is exactly that based on how the chips fall. A hit can be all it takes to create, or bust a save. The situation may come 30 times a year or it may come 15. So is the 30 save man better than the 15 save man because of situations beyond each’s control.

If you want to simplify the game why not eliminate a worthless situational stat from the ranks. If that’s not possible maybe go the goose egg route and toughen up the requirements. Better yet let your starters pitch as much as they can and forget the bullpen. Saves need to die if baseball wants to move forward strategy wise.

 

Part 2 Top 30 MILB Systems by Nickname

By S. Samek

Part two of this post is here. Featuring ranks 14 -1.

14. Milwaukee Brewers.

One team lets down the whole system. Colorado Spring being the boring Sky Socks. Though strong names like the Shuckers, Mudcats and Timber Rattlers give this an over average set. Maybe trade Arizona for the Hillsboro Hops?

13. Cincinnati Reds.

The Red feature my favorite overall team name in The Pensacola Blue Wahoos. The Daytona Tortugas also adds to the plus column. Dragons, Bats and Mustangs are a bit on the common side, but not too bad.

12. Philadelphia Phillies

Ironpigs, with Crosscutters and Threshers form three solid choices for names. The Reading Fighting Phils, or sometimes frightens does not. Though Phily does have a strong brand of teams across all levels.

11. Los Angeles Dodgers.

No I don’t totally agree with naming your top affiliate the Dodgers. Outside of that the system sparks some of the best names. Tulsa boasts the drillers and Great Lakes the Loons. Ogden gets fierce with the Raptors and finally the Quakes from Rancho Cucamonga.

10. Colorado Rockies.

Strong from top to bottom is the system. Isotopes is a cool name as is the silly Yard Goats. Then throw in the Jethawks and Tourists for a great unique system of names.

9. Miami Marlins.

Off-season rebranding helped this ranking. The Jacksonville Suns became the Jumbo Shrimp and the New Orleans Zephyrs picked the Baby Cakes instead. Both are definitely local flare names that are goofy. Hammerheads, Grasshoppers and Muckdogs add more flare to the mix and make for a great mix of names in the organization.

8.Oakland A’s

Strong varity here too. You got the Sounds, Ports, Rockhounds, Snappers and Lake Monsters. Very nautical, but Oakland is by the bay.

7. Seattle Mariners.

Leading off is the majestic sounding Tacoma Rainers. Then you have the double-a Arkansas Travelers as a kind of odd, but intriguing name. Nuts is another goof local name as is, Lumber Kings and Aqua Sox.

6. Tampa Bay Rays.

The super iconic team from the movie Bull Durham starts this list out. Then a goofy food names in the Biscuits adds humor. After that is the Renegades, Hot Rods and Stone Crabs.

5. San Francisco Giants.

Another one of my personal top names in the Richmond Flying Squirrels led this pack. Volcanos, GreenJackets and River Cats provide the local flare and put the Giants in the top five.

4. New York Mets

Vegas has the 51’s named after area 51. Binghamton has an awesome logo named the Rumble Ponies.  Brooklyn has the Cyclones named after the coaster. Then the Fireflies add a bug to the mix. The names are just pure fun end of discussion.

3. Kansas City Royals

More fun names from the Chuckers and Blue Rocks to Storm Chasers and Naturals. Even the Lexington Legends with a sweet mustache log call Kanas City their parent club. Cheek them out for just pure fun.

2. Texas Rangers

The Round Rock Express enter the station first. After them it’s the Fresco RoughRiders and their fierce logo. Then you have the first of a kind Wood Ducks and more nautical theme in the Crawdads. Nice local southern mix of great logos.

1.      San Diego Padres.

The team know for the swinging Friar logo keeps it in the family. Triple a El Paso sports the Chihuahua name. It has been one of the best names sense its announcement. You can see why I like the name here.

 Then you have the historical local flare in both the San Antonio Missions and Fort Wayne Tincaps. Storm and Dust Devils are good names too and add some more of a varity. Making San Diego the best named affiliate system.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 30 part 1 MILB Systems by Nicknames

By S/ Samek

No doubting the some of the best team names come from Minor League baseball. Team names reflect everything from the ridiculous to the historical to the affiliation agreement. The results can be mixed and not all minor-league systems rank the same. This post shows one such ranking

I love the idea of ranking the whole systems and not just the names individually, though that may come later.  Sit back relax and enjoy the rankings for major league team with the best affiliate names. Note part one is 30-15 and 14-1 will come in part two.

30. Atlanta Braves. While the newest team in the organization has a sick name in the Florida Fire Frogs, the rest just aren’t creative. Try the tune of Braves times six. It’s just too boring and needs to change Obvious pick for the worst system for creative names.

29. Boston Redsox. While a bit better than Atlanta not by much. The triple a and high-a team sport Redsox monikers as to three lower level teams. Despite the triple-a team going by the other nickname Paw socks it’s just too close to the original. Two clubs in the Lowell Spinners and Greenville Drive add some spice, but aren’t great.

28. St. Louis Cardinals.  St. Louis is very similar to Boston. Five teams rock Cardinals names while a sixth rocks a Redbirds name. Spikes and Chiefs prevent a total bird theme, but it’s still a boring system of names.

27. Baltimore Orioles. Birds galore make up the system for Baltimore. Throw in a sox name and the combo of the unoriginal is complete. The Norfolk Tides and their unique sea horse is the best of the bunch, but it’s still lackluster.

26. Anaheim Angels.

Multiple Angels and Bees team say boring. Though the unique 66ers name helps out just a boring set of logos.

25. Chicago Cubs. Bears are a theme there. Pelicans and Emeralds complement them, but the defending series winners didn’t win here.

24. New York Yankees

Two team twin with the big club here. Then next come the Thunder, River dogs and Railriders Not too good, but not too bad a bit underwhelming is why they rank so low.

23. Chicago White Socks. While only two lower level teams rock the same name as their parent, this is a list loaded with ho-hum names. Knights, Barons and Dash are nothing special. Voyagers and Intimidators are the best of the bunch, but may rank near the middle as far as unique individual names.

22. Cleveland Indians

The highlight of this group is the Akron rubber ducks. The Scrappers and Captains are better than an Indians name, but the Clippers and Hillcats leave much to be desired.

21. Washington Nationals.

This name set is filled with patriotic luster with another Nationals, Senators and Chiefs. The Suns is a ho-hum name and seems odd for Hagerstown. The Auburn Doubleday’s gives a tip of the cap to the invention of the game of baseball and the myth behind it. Making it the best in a middle of the road set.

20. Arizona Diamondbacks.

Arizona is a solid, but unspectacular set of names. Aces is classic, but boring, as is Generals and Cougars. Hops and Rawhide are in a league of their own, but again nothing so funny, or memorable.

19. Houston Astros.

It didn’t help the Astros ranking to add a new team called the Astros. This gives them five squads with that name. Grizzles is another ho-hum name not helping much. Hooks and River Bandits try and redeem the organization it’s not a super strong try.

18. Detroit Tigers

Flying Tigers and four more Tiger cub teams make up the organization. Though positive points for the Western Michigan Whitecaps and Toledo Mud Hens.

17. Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Altoona Curve are the stand out name in a series with Indians, Blackbears, Power and Marauders. Though the organization is a bit lower than average on exciting names.

16. Toronto Blue Jays.

Fisher Cats are funny and the Vancouver Canadians is a local flare team name. Though A Jays clone and Bison add an underwhelming element to the puzzle.

15. Minnesota Twins

The Twins are another middle of the pack set of names. The Fort Myers Miracle and Chattanooga Lookouts are the standouts here. Red Wings and Kernels are a bit of a step down, but not enough to move the Twins too far up, or down on the list.

View Part two here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Virginia Power 2017 Opening Day

By S. Samek

The forth team and last to begin play on April 6,2017 from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization is the West Virginia Power. The announced their opening roster recently in this article. Time to break down the roster.

Upon first glance none of the pitchers stand out. Though after a second look the Power will be with the services of 14th ranked prospect in the Pirates system Luis Escobar. Escobar is making the jump to full season ball after playing in the New York Penn League last year with good results.

He could be this year’s Mitch Keller as far as breakout potential.

Behind the plate also brings system newcomers and unknowns.

The infield is led by 18th ranked Pirates prospect Stephen Alemais. Alemais is returning to the Power after a short stint with them last year. While he struggled a bit in his first looks with the Power Alemais is another talented infielder in a deep Pirates system. Listed as a shortstop it should be interesting to see if he stays at the position.

 

The rest of the infield and outfield are very limited in the talent pool. The only other name I recognize on the roster is Trae Arbet. Arbet is a second basemen that hit well for Bristol in 2015, but saw no time last year.  This could be a shape up or ship out kind of deal.

This roster does seem to be the forgotten child of the organization. With just two top 20 Pirates prospects to start the season, the initial look is skewed to the negative.  Though on the positive side it won’t surprise me if one of these unknowns has a break out year. Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte and Mitch Keller are some of the names in the recent trend of turning unknowns into potential studs starting in West Virginia. Another potential thing would be to see this squad boosted with promotions and draft picks later on in the year. For right now though hold off on watching the Power too closely if you’re looking for big time prospect updates.