Your WBL Variety

 

This week in WBL Variety we have some nice things in store for you. Some new things will be added this week and I hope you all enjoy it. Let's get started.

 

Have you ever felt like you didn't mean anything to a team? Well, most of us have, and it's frustrating. Players on the border of the league, close to being released at any second, are coming in and out all the time and most of them have no place on a roster. But once in a while, you have a player who surprises basically everyone. That's happened this year, many times. Players who had not had any experience before or if they had had experience, failed in it, are starting to play well. These guys have stepped it up when maybe no one else on their team was or even is, but at any rate, have been having great seasons. I've picked out a handful of these guys who probably have not been expected to succeed, and if they were have outdone expectations, but have done it anyway. These are only good surprises, nothing bad. Team performance or players performing well around you will not hurt you in this; it is based solely on your season alone. Also, these are being ranked by how much better you are doing than you were expected to do or have done, not by how good you are doing alone. So here goes, Vin Distasio's Weekly Top Ten. This week, top ten pleasant surprises from around the league.

 

(Stats vary from January 20th through 22nd due to time restrictions, real time, of course)

 

10.Kurtis Rands
Leftfielder, Seoul Storm
2009 stats: .280/2/15/.644
Rands, Mujuri Shipal's second player, is really only a surprise because he has never been updated. His stats are average for a normal player, but the fact that he came into the league and started doing well right away is what is surprising. His two homeruns beats out some light-hitting regulars and he has managed to drive in fifteen runs. His .280 batting average comes with 33 singles, which hurts his slugging percentage greatly. He has walked six times and struck out twenty-four times this year, which hurts his on-base percentage. These two things, in turn, give him a pretty bad OPS but the fact that his batting average is even mediocre is great. One strange fact about Rands is that he has hit .423 with runners in scoring position, showing how he can come through in the clutch. Shipal has gotten an average of one hit per game (35 and 35) so if he keeps that up or better he should finish solid and maybe even get a vote or two for Rookie of the Year. Either way, Rands should become better with age as Shipal is steadily improving and soon will have time to update Rands.

 

9.Emanuel Toombs
Shortstop, Caracas Cougars
2009 stats: .307/4/14/.824
Toombs, who was considered washed up and has been released an amazing six times by four different teams, has come back this year to pace the Caracas offensive attack. From the top of the order, Toombs has hit .307 with eighteen extra base hits. Although his six walks and .333 on-base percentage are low for a leadoff hitter, he has 47 hits so far and has scored 24 runs. He sets the tempo and has stolen eight bases this year. Toombs has been cooling down as of late but he started off hot and silenced all critics. He has struck out thirty-two times, not very good for any spot in the batting order, but he has also put up an incredible seven hit game and has kept hitting well. Although the power numbers aren't there, Toombs' job is to get hits and set up scoring chances for the Guzmans and Springfield and he has succeeded at that. He has hit only .129 in May, totaling up eight games, but he should be able to turn it around. Although he is inactive, Toombs left himself with enough points to do just good enough and Caracas will take what he is producing at the top of the order.

 

8.Ace Hurley
Starting Pitcher, St. Louis Stallions
2009 stats: 6/1/2.29/0.87
Hurley has quietly emerged as the ace of the Stallions rotation and is making up for a terrible season by Tidiggity Dawg and a cold stretch by Corey Whitney. He has won six out of his seven decisions with an ERA of 2.29. In the 55 innings that he has pitched, he has allowed only fourteen earned runs, and seventeen total. He has walked only three batters all year, although he has only struck out eight. His 0.87 WHIP is phenomenal, meaning that he allows, on average, less than one runner every runner. In eight starts, he has pitched six quality games and has allowed only 45 hits. The 23 year old starter whose career low ERA for a full season had been 5.32 is fooling hitters with great breaking pitches and forcing them to swing off-balance. He led the league in losses and walks allowed in 2007 and, just two seasons later, is leading a resurgent St. Louis staff. Hurley is still active and as long as he steadily improves he should be able to keep up his great season and when it's all said and done, he may even get some votes for Cy Young. Either way, Hurley is proving that he has come a long way in a short while.

 

7.Nolan Ryan
Starting Pitcher, Montreal Menace
2009 stats: 6/1/1.39/0.68
Ryan, after reaching number one prospect status, was told that the prospect report was bogus and he didn't deserve to be number one. As true as it may or may not be, he has proved his critics wrong and surprised his fans by putting up a great season. His 6-1 record is great, especially for a rookie, as he is the leading candidate for rookie of the year in the Western Hemisphere. His 64.2 innings pitched shows what kind of a workhorse he is, and in those innings he has allowed only ten earned runs and 42 hits, putting his WHIP well under one and his ERA at the 1.39 mark it is at now. He has only struck out twenty-one batters this year, but has displayed incredible control with only two walks. He has three complete games with two of them going for shutouts. Every one of his eight starts has been quality outings, showing how valuable he has been to Montreal this year. The Western Hemisphere Rookie of the Year race is basically a two-man race between Ryan and Whitney so far, and Ryan seems to be taking a commanding lead. Even if he doesn't win any rewards this year, he will finish with great stats and can expect a Cy Young or two in the future.

 

6.Vin Distasio
Shortstop, Great Britain Redcoats
2009 stats: .379/23/46/1.510
Distasio, although he was a former number one prospect, was starting to be forgotten as he slipped farther and farther down as a top prospect. People though maybe he wasn't all as good as he was made out to be, but he has silenced them, as many people on this list have to their critics. He had a twelve game hitting streak earlier and on the season has 55 hits. Those hits are in 140 at-bats, translating to a .379 batting average. He has 47 extra base hits so far, breaking down into five triples, nineteen doubles, and twenty-three homeruns. He has struck out only four time this year while walking eighteen times, putting his on-base percentage well over .400. With 46 RBI he is producing quite a few runs, not to mention the 49 runs he has scored on his own. His 153 total bases are close to the lead in the hemisphere, as he is near the lead in many categories. He played in only three games last year, getting himself only two at-bats. A rookie coming into the league and leading a team while players like Joe Slugga, Shawn Walker, and James Sirbeepalot, Jr. were all struggling is great and it takes a special kid to pull this off.

 

5.Adam Brown
Shortstop, Montreal Menace
2009 stats: .389/3/22/1.020
Brown, who is playing second base now after being bumped out of shortstop by Kal Jordan, is having a great year in regards to getting on base. Brown's on-base percentage is well over .400 and his batting average is also approaching the .400 mark, very good for being this far into the season. With him and Jordan getting on base at amazing rates so far this season, they have scored many runs for the Montreal offense. In fact, Brown has scored 19 runs so far this year while driving in 22 of his own. He has three homers and three triples this year, as well eleven doubles giving him 51 total hits on the season. He has made nine errors at second base but that isn't very many for a second baseman. Brown has only struck out thirteen times this year, and although he has only drawn six walks, he has been able to produce big time. He is great at stepping into the pitch, as shown by his eight hit by pitches this year. He may not be particularly great at any certain thing but he is an overall steady player and as long as his batting average stays even anywhere near where it is Montreal will takes the good with the bad.

 

4.Smith N Wesson
Closer, Frankfurt Force
2009 stats: 2/1/1.72/0.68
Wesson, although he is only a closer and may not play a huge role in Frankfurt's early success, has pitched very well and has helped Frankfurt hold on to small leads in late situations. In 36.2 innings pitched, he has struck out 31 batters and walked an amazing zero. He has pinpoint control and great velocity, a deadly combination, especially coming out of the bullpen. He has saved seven out of eight opportunities and his ERA has been very low all season. It stands at 1.72 right now, which is greatly in part to his 0.68 WHIP. He led the league in walks allowed with 32 in 2007, and was benched and eventually sent down in 2008, but, given the chance, can be a great pitcher. He has shown that this year and has been very surprising after only playing in two games last season. If Wesson continues to be automatic without letting any runners on, Frankfurt can be safe to give the ball to him in late situations where they need to close it out. He has done it all the time this year and unless he struggles, he should only get more innings with time.

 

3.Brian Lawley
Starting Pitcher, Santo Domingo Rush
2009 stats: 6/0/1.09/0.65
Lawley has managed to go undefeated in his first nine starts this season, remaining a perfect six and oh. His 1.09 ERA comes off of only eight earned runs in 66 innings. Lawley has developed into a power pitcher, striking out 102 batters this year in his nine starts while walking only four. Strangely enough, Lawley has not pitched a shutout all year nor has he even completed a game, but all nine of his starts have been quality performances. His 39 hits and only 4 walks in 66 innings gives him a miniscule 0.65 WHIP. He has been Santo Domingo's ace all this year and although he did do well last year, I think it was surprising that he came out here with Cy Young stuff. He only has four pitches in his arsenal, but he uses them well and mixes speeds nicely. He pitched two no-hitters in 2008, with one being a perfect game, and he struck out fifteen batters on two separate occasions this year. Lawley was once traded twice in one day and I'm sure whoever traded him both times wished that they had held onto him, because he has stayed active and his perfect start shows it.

 

2.Jalen Montgomery
Second baseman, Frankfurt Force
2009 stats: .296/12/21/1.069
Montgomery, coming off a season where his on base percentage was lower than his batting average is now, needs only that one stat to speak for why he is suck a huge surprise. With 42 hits in 142 at bats, his batting average comes out to be .296. His on-base percentage is nearing .350 and his slugging percentage is hovering around .700. These two things combined give him a very respectable 1.069 OPS, up from his mark of .779 in 2008. His twelve homeruns and 21 RBI are helping Frankfurt's cause to go from worst to first in one season. Him getting on base put runners on for Schultz, Kobbs, and Andrews, as is shown by his 31 runs scored. He has 33 extra-base hits in 2009, and has struck out only three time all year. He doesn't walk very much, with only thirteen this year, but he is hitting nearly .300 and that will pass for any batter. He is mostly a singles hitter but can hit some homeruns here and there. Montgomery has good speed and is a great fielder, and he does all the small things well. If he continues to hit well and do the little things that help to win, Frankfurt will love to have him in their order.

 

And our number one pleasant surprise is...
1.Greg Mojonnier
Starting Pitcher, Great Britain Redcoats
2009 stats: 6/0/2.10/0.76
Mojonnier, although he has reached as high as number three prospect, was not expected to produce the way he is by anybody, not even himself. He is only twenty years old and led the team to victory many times while the rest of the rotation was struggling. In a rotation of Chad Slugga and Dustin Parmelee, Mojonnier leads his team in ERA, wins, and WHIP. Mojonnier does get an awful lot of run support, but managing six wins and no losses in nine starts is an accomplish. He has allowed seventeen earned runs in his starts, amassing 71.1 innings pitched. He has struck out only twenty batters while walking only two, so it's his pinpoint control that has helped him maintain his 2.10 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. He ahs nine quality starts in nine tries, with three complete games and no shutouts. Mojonnier was expected to be the weak link in Great Britain's rotation this year, and he was expected to have to be carried along. Instead, he has led the team pitching-wise and is looking like s stud. He is only twenty and with some more time should only become better. This start may just be a fluke, but it's a surprising fluke at that.

 


Rookie Spotlight

 

Every week, we're going to spotlight two rookie players, one from each hemisphere, that have earned starting jobs for their team. They may or may not have been a top prospect, they may or may not be having a good season. They may or may not be well known, it doesn't matter. We will do two rookies at random and analyze them. Pick out their strengths and weaknesses, their glaring flaws, anything we can get out of them. I will make some expectations for them and maybe eventually we'll see how they compare. I'll try to make it a balanced selection of batters and pitchers, starters and relievers. I'll pick a new two every week for your reading pleasure. So here goes, in volume one of Vin Distasio's weekly Rookie Spotlight.

 

Eastern Hemisphere

 

Bob Wardwick, middle reliever, Great Britain Redcoats
Prospect Rating: 4.0 stars
Wardwick, to say the least, has not had a great year. In fact, he was sent down to AAA to make room on the roster for Matt Comer, relative of right fielder Shawn Walker. This 20-year-old prospect is still sort of active and has a small chance at possible success, but he is far from it right now. He is a middle reliever, something that is becoming rarer and rarer in the WBL, but he is not an asset because he is still young. He pitched five innings in 2009 before being sent down, and although he has only allowed three hits all year, all three went for homeruns. He did not walk any batters and managed to strike out one, but he lost Great Britain one game and pitched only one scoreless appearance in his short stint. Like almost any prospect, he has what it takes to become great, but the only thing he may be missing is the will. If he doesn't have the will to improve and eventually succeed, he won't do either of them. At least Wardwick is active, though, so he still has a shot at becoming great but like many, he is oh-so far away.

 

Western Hemisphere

 

Da Bomb, left fielder, Caracas Cougars
Prospect Rating: 3.5 stars
2009 stats: .217/0/0/.451
Bomb, the second player of Ace Shap, may have a promising future but should be kept out of any starting lineup at all costs, for now. His .217 average in 46 at-bats is not a credit to his skills, but he is slowly developing as is Ace Shap. He has no extra base hits, which hurts his slugging percentage, which in turn hurts his OPS. He has not drawn a walk this year but he has ten hits and has scored five times. His 15 strikeouts to zero walks ratio should improve over time, as long as he stays active. Bomb does has three multi-hit games under his belt so far, so although he hasn't driven the ball yet, he has shown that he can become a solid singles hitter. Bomb is not a top prospect and will probably not become a star in the near future, but he should become a solid role player with time and look for Bomb to maybe even become an all-star with time. If he stays active he can, worst case scenario, be a defensive player for Caracas and help solidify the pitching with nice plays.

 


WBL Fantasy Mailbag

 

It may have been done before, but I'm here to make it better. As you know, there are many inquisitive WBL Fantasy players out there who are just looking to get an edge. They will do anything and everything possible to rise to the top of their league and I am just here to help them. I get tons of mail every day asking me about WBL happenings and how they affect fantasy leagues, and until now, I had not responded to any of them. But I feel that my fans need answers, so I am taking some of the more common questions and I'm going to give my look at them. If you agree with me, fine, take my advice. If you disagree, I'd like to hear it, so keep mailing me at AI3Yanks84@AOL.com. I'll respond to any criticisms you have on my advice, so feel free. This week we have some trade qualms and a couple "good or bad" questions. Here are some questions I got, right out of the mailbag. Also, don't hesitate to ask me your questions about WBL Fantasy, I'm here to help you guys out and I will give my opinions as best as possible. You know the address, you know the name, now let's see the questions!

 

Dear Vin,
I have been getting tons of offers for St. Louis starting pitcher Tidiggity Dawg in my league. I know Dawg is in a slump, but will he break out and should I trade him for someone like Greg Mojonnier and others? It's a one-season league so if he doesn't do well this year it won't help me at all. What do you think? Is it worth holding onto him through the struggles to reach the successful period?
Signed,
Jason Minkle, St. Louis, MO

 

Dear Jason,
I think it is very worth your while to hold onto Dawg, at least for a little while longer. Dawg proved he could be an ace last year as he had a great season, putting up a decent win-loss record because of St. Louis' team record but recording a great ERA. He has shown signs of brilliance this year and has also made strong progress towards busting out with some big performances. Other than the one game where he went only two innings and allowed six earned runs, Dawg has been solid and if you take out that start, his stats wouldn't be all that bad. Dawg has pinpoint control and not allowing walks always helps in tight situations. He also has a cannon and strikes out tons of batters. He has struck out 71 batters and walked only seven in fifty-one innings so far this year. You may be tempted to do a trade like that because of the great year that Greg Mojonnier and others are having, but don't expect it to last and hang on to Dawg. His veteran presence and mature personality will help him conquer this cold stretch and allow him to flourish the rest of the way. I can even see him getting his ERA back down into the two's by the end of the season, I'd definitely hold onto him because Mojonnier and all them are just starting off hot.
Your fantasy expert,
Vin Distasio

 


Dear Vin,
In my league, Dirk Halladay somehow went undrafted. Now, he has started off the season well and I need some pitching. Would it make sense for me to pick him up? He is a top prospect and I don't see why I wouldn't get him, but I want to double-check before I do anything silly. He is one of my favorite players but I would have to drop someone in favor of him.
Signed,
David Pikowitcz, Frankfurt, Germany

 

Dear David,
As strange as this may sound, leave Dirk there. He will not help you at all later on. This is one of the more common e-mails I've gotten, so I'm going to answer it for everyone. DO NOT PICK UP HALLADAY! Yes, he is a great young player, off to a hot start, but I got a little inside information to help me write my article. It turns out that after Halladay had a hot start as a reliever, he is going to be sent to the minors to develop and have him go for the Rookie in the Year in 2010. So after he is sent down, obviously he won't get any more appearances until possibly the playoffs. If any of you are in keeper leagues, he will be a great pickup if you can manage to get him because he should be starting for 2010. But for this season, leave Halladay be because he'll rot on your bench. For a short-term solution in 2009 look for Enrique Gonzalez or Vin Distasio II to be on the free agents wires. They both come out of the bullpen for Great Britain and are both active. They have started off slow but as they update they should become better and may put up solid stats by the end of the year. This is only for people who are in desperate need of bullpen help, don't look for either of these two to help turn your team around.
Your fantasy expert,
Vin Distasio

 


Dear Vin,
Nikolao Kenikanako is still available in my keeper league and my pick is up next in the waiver wire. I was looking through the list of available players and he is the only one left that I've even heard of. I can pass my turn if I want, but I don't know what to do. Kenikanako does not play much this year so is it worth it to pick him up?
Signed,
Steve Seminerio, Paris, France

 

Dear Steve,
If it were my choice, I would jump all over Kenikanako. He is a solid writer and should be talented in the near future for sure. If you don't have to drop anyone to get Nikolao, pick him up. He is great at making websites and that will get him some points. As long as he consistently updates he can get at least ten points a week. Those small amounts of points add up and Kenikanako should be in a starting lineup in no time. He's hitting .278 as a pinch hitter this year, very respectable for getting very little at-bats. He is not a top prospect but the prospect report can be wrong, so I would say don't miss this opportunity, especially in a keeper league. He seems to be very active and once he is given the chance to play he will bring you a good number of wins in your league. So unless you have to drop an already proven player to get him, try to pick up Nikolao. This goes for all of you keeper league players out there. If you find Kenikanako sitting there, pick him up because he will be an asset in the future as trade bait or a great player.
Your fantasy expert,
Vin Distasio

 


In the News

 

Nelson Attempts Return, Thwarted by WBL Investigators

Written, edited, revised, and published by Vin Distasio

 

Jake Nelson, Santo Domingo Rush closer and former active member of the WBL, has been banned again. No, we're not talking about the second time.

 

Jake Nelson has been banned a league-record third time after attempting to return to the league under a new alias. Nelson tried to re-register as "Dave Melluci" but made it blatantly obvious that he was indeed the same person. He lasted about two days before he was found by fellow-WBL mates Vin Distasio and Josh Andrews. Nelson was looking to be in the clear after the IPs recovered from a different league and from the WBL board did not match, but he was caught later that week. He attempted to send in his player page using the same e-mail he had always been using, which was immediately recognized by league commissioner and player Jeremy Shirley. Instead of Nelson being officially banned again, his player page just never went through and his board name was banned. It was a quick and easy process by Chocobops that saved time and effort effectively and efficiently.

 

Nelson was banned at first for trying to take an already written article and reposting it, trying to take credit for it as all his own. He apologized and sounded sincere, but it was to no avail and he was indefinitely suspended. After the 2008 season, the suspension was lifted and Nelson was reinstated into the league. He went about a week or so cleanly and it looked like he was trying to change his cheating ways in lieu of losing a shot in his favorite league. But after a few days, it was found that Joe Kenny, centerfielder for the Dublin Fighting Irish, had also been caught cheating. He, like Nelson, was caught copying an already-posted article and taking credit for it. He maintained that he had not cheated and someone had hacked into his account and framed him. The investigation began but was over much more quickly than anyone expected.

 

Immediately after Kenny said he had been hacked, Nelson came out and confessed. He said it was a joke and he didn't mean to get anyone banned or get anyone in trouble. But by the rules, it was considered cheating and Nelson was banned, permanently. People said he shouldn't have been because he apologized sincerely and others argued that he wasn't old enough to know the right thing to do, but the arguments was soon ended and the case closed. Nelson started a petition in the Brand New Players forum, the only one that he could now see, apologizing and trying to get himself reinstated again. But as it was his second offense, he was banned with no opportunity at being let back in ever again. He was sad, but he had no choice but to leave, to the enjoyment of many other members of the league. There were rumors of him trying to come back as someone else, that were started with an IM conversation with Frankfurt GM Ty Quigly, but it seemed after a few days that Nelson was making no attempt at coming back.

 

Enter Dave Melluci. The new closer, who immediately attempted to sign with Seoul, was suspicious right from the beginning. There were many clues that were constant between him and Nelson before him. Distasio and Andrews got right on it, finding small clues here and there that led them to believe that Nelson had returned. Small clues such as using the same font on AIM, having the same format of screen name, same position, and most importantly same intelligence level, were the main ones that the two sleuths used to rat out Nelson, or "Melluci." They found an IP of Nelson's from another league and used it on the WBL board, but it didn't match. It looked for a second like Melluci maybe was not Nelson. But after talking to co-commissioner Chocobops, it turns out that Nelson used the same e-mail to register as Melluci that he did with Nelson.

 

So Dave Melluci's player was never created and Nelson was caught trying to cheat again. Andrews and Distasio were thanked for their help and any corruption was avoided. As long as these two are on the case, you can bet that no one will get any with any cheating, and that's a fact.

 


Team Breakdown

 

Not often does a team go from near the bottom of the standings to near the top in only one season. When teams are bad, they are usually bad for a long, long time and then gradually work their way up to the top. You almost never see a team make the jump from terrible to great in just one off season, but it's happened this year. In fact, it's happened twice. After having almost no movement in the standings for years, two teams defied the odds and jumped from the bottom to the top, or near to it. The St. Louis Stallions and the Frankfurt Force are the two teams to have pulled this off, and conveniently they are both in different hemispheres. The Force are one game better than the Stallions, but only by one game. This makes for a great comparison for this week's Weekly Team Breakdown. These teams are about even and after both have made huge leaps to be in second place, we'll see who is the better team on paper. It should be close so let's get it started. The lines, once again, are BA/HR/RBI/OPS for hitters and W/L/ERA/WHIP for pitchers. First, here are the rosters I am using for both teams.

 

St. Louis (23-12)[Note: Thomas Kenny was not included in this because I went by the lineup on the bottom of the team page and unfortunately, Kenny was nowhere to be found. Sorry Kenny.]

 

CA: Alex Zito
1B: Glenn Wiggins
2B: Woodrow James
3B: Chris Heqaiunu
SS: Jerek Deter
LF: Kip Wesley
CF: Pierce Feltini
RF: Matt Priesmeyer
SP: Chris Prior
SP: Tidiggity Dawg
SP: Corey Whitney
SP: Ace Hurley
RP: Cleveland Dawg
RP: Iamgonna Strikeuout

 

Frankfurt (24-11)

 

CA: Gerald Schultz
1B: Mike Smirnoff
2B: Jalen Montgomery
3B: Tony Kobbs
SS: Josh Andrews
LF: Jason Hernandez
CF: Aaron McDonald
RF: Richie Maple
SP: Marc Southworth II
SP: Zach Kobbs
SP: Andy Quigly
SP: Ty Quigly
RP: Kevin Highmark
RP: Smith N Wesson

 

Lineup

 

Catcher
St. Louis: Alex Zito (.248/24/44/1.104)
Frankfurt: Gerald Schultz (.256/22/26/1.161)
This was a close one and one of the better ones to do out of any. Both of these guys are veterans and are each superstar catchers, something that is quite rare. Schultz has a small advantage in batting average, but you have to take into account how cold Zito started then had to work to raise his average. Zito has a small edge in homeruns, 24 to 22, and a larger lead in RBI, 44 to 26. Schultz also started off hot and has not done anything since then. Schultz has a higher OPS, because he draws a few more walks, but overall these things balance each other out. Since I think homeruns is the most important stat in the WBL, Zito's advantage there has been a benefit to him. He has also shown an ability to drive in runs better, even though Schultz has arguably the better lineup. Schultz has been a superstar, putting up monster seasons year after year, but this year he has been somewhat disappointing. Meanwhile, Zito has always been a star, but he never had any amazing season that put him over the top. To me, this says that Schultz is not performing to par and Zito is doing better than normal, so I'm giving this one to Zito only because of the standards Schultz has set for himself.
Advantage: Alex Zito, St. Louis

 

Firstbase
St. Louis: Glenn Wiggins (.255/5/13/.763)
Frankfurt: Mike Smirnoff (.192/2/5/.596)
Mike Smirnoff is in his rookie year and he has not really performed like some other rookies have, and has not make anything of an instant impact. Wiggins has been a solid player all year, with no standout numbers but a decent ability to do all things. Wiggins' .255 batting average is nothing special, but it beats Smirnoff but quite a good margin. Smirnoff has a light-hitting approach and it shows through his two homeruns. Wiggins has only put up five, but his approach is not based on hitting homeruns either. Wiggins has managed to drive in thirteen batters this year, eight more than Smirnoff's five. Neither of these players are very special, but Wiggins has the edge in OPS as well, with his being .763 and Smirnoff's coming in at .596. Smirnoff is just not a big rookie player and could become decent with time, but for now he is really dead weight in the Frankfurt lineup. He has to get his batting average at least over .200 to be considered respectable, but he gets beat by Glenn Wiggins here in a sweep of all four major categories.
Advantage: Glenn Wiggins, St. Louis

 

Secondbase
St. Louis: Woodrow James (.190/1/8/.454)
Frankfurt: Jalen Montgomery (.296/12/21/1.069)
Montgomery was one of our top ten surprises earlier and he is Frankfurt's second baseman. Woodrow James occupies that spot for St. Louis and is Montgomery's counterpart. James, to say the least, has not been having a tremendous season. His batting average is at .190 right now, while Montgomery is just shades below .300 at .296.  Montgomery has shown solid power with twelve homeruns, while James has only managed one. James has driven in only eight runs all season long, while Montgomery has contributed 21 runs batted in. While Woodrow James' on-base plus slugging is at. 454, Montgomery blows him away with his 1.069 mark. Montgomery is a great player who has never had an amazing season but is starting to become better while James is just flat out bad. Montgomery is having a breakout year while surprising many people all around the league, and it looks like he has what it takes to keep it up. If he keeps his batting average hovering around .300 he could get serious votes for the All-Star game if he can hit some more homers. As for the comparison though, Montgomery gets the sweep.
Advantage: Jalen Montgomery, Frankfurt

 

Thirdbase
St. Louis: Chris Heqaiunu (.242/8/19/.772)
Frankfurt: Tony Kobbs (.287/29/42/1.308)
Tony Kobbs, the reigning Eastern Hemisphere Rookie of the Year, is back and better than ever. He has started off on a tear and is passing the marks he already put up last year. For St. Louis Chris Heqaiunu holds down third base, although he hasn't performed very well in that role. He used to be a great player but he is decent at best now. Kobbs has managed a very respectable .287 batting average so far this season, great for a power hitter like him. Heqqy is struggling, at .242, with no signs of turning it around. Remember, he is tied for the all-time WBL record for single season batting average with .491 in 2006, but he is far from the level he was at then. Kobbs has been pounding the cover off the ball, hitting 29 homeruns so far this year and showing no signs of stopping. Heqqy has managed only eight homeruns so far, very few for someone who used to be a consistent 25 homerun hitter. Kobbs has benefited from batting in a great overall lineup, and he has driven in 42 runs because of it. Heqaiunu has driven in nineteen runs to go with his eight homeruns. Kobbs' OPS is sky-high, at 1.308, while Heqaiunu is at .772. It the past versus the future here, and the future, Tony Kobbs, wins it in a sweep.
Advantage: Tony Kobbs, Frankfurt

 

Shortstop
St. Louis: Jerek Deter (.182/0/1/.587)
Frankfurt: Josh Andrews (.231/29/44/1.109)
This comparison looks balanced when you look at the names because both of them were mid-level prospects, but that is surely not the case. Jerek Deter has been struggling more than he could have imagined, and his stat line looks like a backup's. Josh Andrews is not an average hitter by any means, and it shows because he doesn't get many hits. His batting average stands at only .231, but even that's enough to basically destroy Jeter. Jeter is at a pitiful .182 so far this year, and it's been a season-long slump. He shows no sign of improving for a while, as he hasn't updated in weeks. Andrews' forte is his power, which shows through his 29 homeruns. Jeter tries to base his game on getting on base, so his homerun total is at a whopping zero. Andrews' homeruns have led to major run scoring, and he has driven in 44 runs, plus the ones he has scored himself. Jeter has only driven in one run so far, which is worse than third string catchers often put up. Jeter's bad on base percentage added to his bad slugging percentage has put his OPS at .587, which Andrews nearly doubles that at 1.109. Another sweep is here, this one is going to Frankfurt.
Advantage: Josh Andrews, Frankfurt

 

Leftfield
St. Louis: Kip Wesley (.259/14/40/.997)
Frankfurt: Jason Hernandez (.203/5/13/.596)
Jason Hernandez has been somewhat of a journeyman, looking for his spot to play for years. He has found a spot in Frankfurt, at least for the time being, but is not making the most of it. On the other hand, Kip Wesley is the owner of St. Louis and won't have to worry about losing a starting job for a while. He is trying to get over that elusive .260 mark as right now he stands at .259. Hernandez, like so many others, is hovering around .200 and is just a little bit over, he is batting .203. Wesley has solid power numbers, like he always has, putting up fourteen homeruns so far this season. Hernandez, fighting to keep his job, has only hit the ball out of the park five times. Wesley has driven in forty runs, a good sum for any player, so he has been big in the middle of St. Louis' order. Hernandez has only driven in thirteen runs in his disappointing season, very low for an outfielder and any player in general. Wesley has gotten on base very well and his OPS stands at .997. Hernandez, well, just hasn't been hitting well at all and his OPS is way down there at .596. Surprise, we have another sweep, but this one goes to St. Louis and Kip Wesley.
Advantage: Kip Wesley, St. Louis

 

Centerfield
St. Louis: Pierce Feltini (.244/1/10/.638)
Frankfurt: Aaron McDonald (.234/0/3/.494)
This one was sort of close, as both players have had amazingly disappointing seasons. Pierce Feltini mans centerfield for St. Louis, and he hasn't been putting up great production anywhere. Aaron McDonald is out there for Frankfurt, and although he is a good fielder, his hitting is also a weak spot. Feltini has the small edge in batting average hitting .244 on a team where no regular is hitting over .300. McDonald is only hitting .234 and he seems to be one of the weak links in Frankfurt's lineup. Feltini has only hit one homerun, but somehow, that's enough to lead over his competitor. McDonald has not hit a single homeruns this year. Feltini has driven in a measly ten runs this year, but again that's somehow good enough. McDonald is sitting at three RBI this season, a number that many batters tie with one swing of the bat. Both of these guys are light-hitting centerfielders, so their OPS' will be low. Feltini is at .638 in the 2009 season, but McDonald continues to give him the edge with a pathetic .494. Neither of these players are very good at all, but Feltini gets this one by default only because of who he is being compared with.
Advantage: Pierce Feltini, St. Louis

 

Rightfield
St. Louis: Matt Priesmeyer (.250/1/6/.562)
Frankfurt: Richie Maple (.284/1/5/.690)
Matt Priesmeyer is playing out there in rightfield for St. Louis, another player who is NOT hitting .300. Richie Maple is one of the few players that was actually on the team last year, and he keeps his starting position for at least one more season. Priesmeyer is hitting an even .250 this year, and it appears that the Stallions only want him for his defense. Maple has hit a very solid .284, which would be good enough to lead any Stallion player, surprisingly. This is the first tie in any category so far, as both of these players are light-hitting, one homerun players. Priesmeyer has driven in a pitiful six runs with his one homeruns, but Maple beats that in pitifulness with his five RBI. Both players take big hits to their OPS because of their one homerun, and Priesmeyer has managed to put his up to .562 with a very small slugging percentage. Maple in the situation, although he has a few more doubles and a little better on-base percentage, which makes his OPS to be .690. Neither of these players are power hitters, obviously, but neither get on base that much either. These are two sub par players playing because of their speed and defense, but since Maple won three of the four categories, he got this one.
Advantage: Richie Maple, Frankfurt

 

Pitching

 

Starting Pitchers
St.
Louis: Chris Prior (3/2/3.39/0.89)
Frankfurt: Marc Southworth II (6/1/1.80/0.83)
Southworth II, unlike his relative Marc Southworth, has seen much prosperity so far this season and he has been one very key acquisition for Frankfurt. He has been the Force's ace this year, while on the other end,  Chris Prior has taken over duties as being the number one starter. Prior has put up a respectable three wins, compared with two losses. Southworth II, on the other hand, has had a wonderful year in the win loss department, winning six out of his seven decisions, obviously leaving him with one loss. Southworth II has allowed very few runs in the innings he has pitched, turning in an ERA under two runs at 1.80. Prior is a more humanly 3.39, still possible all-star caliber but most likely not ace material. Southworth II has done a great job of keeping runners off the base paths, and his WHIP has also helped his ERA as it is at 0.83. Prior, you would think, should have a much high WHIP because his ERA is about a run and a half higher, but that is not really the case. Prior is very close to Southworth II at 0.89. Prior used to be a bona fide ace, and still has what it takes, but isn't superstar quality yet and the young Southworth II gets the sweep.
Advantage: Marc Southworth II, Frankfurt

 

St. Louis: Tidiggity Dawg (2/5/5.15/1.20)
Frankfurt: Zach Kobbs (7/2/3.22/0.80)
Dawg, in the midst of one of the biggest slumps of his career, has actually hurt St. Louis on many occasions and is not used to being in this position. Kobbs was another of the great players brought to Frankfurt this off season and he has been playing very well. Dawg's struggles are evident when you look at his record of two wins and five losses, the only pitcher on the Stallions with a losing record. Kobbs has shown his importance to the team with his seven wins, while he has lost two. Dawg's ERA has also inflated during this tough stretch, going up to uncharted waters for him. It is now at 5.15 and shows no signs of going down, at least not yet. Kobbs' record did not just happen on its' own, he has to not allow runs for that to happen, and he has done just that. His ERA comes in at 3.22, good enough to win just about any game. Good pitchers' WHIPs are usually around 0.90, with aces lowering to about 0.80. Anything above 1.00 is pretty average, and Dawg's WHIP has gone all the way up to 1.20, way above what he is used to for sure. Kobbs is right at that ace mark, as his WHIP is down there at 0.80. Kobbs is coming off a career worst season, and it must feel good to be doing this well as he sweeps another guy having a career worst season.
Advantage: Zach Kobbs, Frankfurt

 

St. Louis: Corey Whitney (4/3/2.54/0.82)
Frankfurt: Andy Quigly (4/4/2.67/0.67)
Rookie sensation Corey Whitney has held down the third starter slot for St. Louis and he has not disappointed with his top prospect status. Andy Quigly, one half of on of the two sets of family on Frankfurt, is his counterpart here and he, like everyone else pretty much, has had a good season. Whitney's record does not show how well he has done, as it is only at 4-3, but his other stats tell the tale better. Quigly has had a little bit of a worse year record wise, he has gone 4-4 with one no decision. Quigly has been a great starter all year long and his 2.67 ERA is just a testament to that. Both of these starters benefit from facing other team's number three starters, but Whitney has a small edge as his ERA is a tiny 2.54. Both of these guys could be aces anywhere else but they are both stuck in the number three hole for now. Quigly's WHIP is a miniscule 0.67, good enough to be an ace for any team any day. Whitney's is not quite that amazing, as it is at a solid 0.82. Both of these players are great players with tremendous futures, and right now they are about even. Although Quigly had the large advantage in WHIP, Whitney beat him in the other two categories so he has a slight edge.
Advantage: Corey Whitney, St. Louis

 

St. Louis: Ace Hurley (6/1/2.29/0.87)
Frankfurt: Ty Quigly (4/1/2.59/0.83)
Ace Hurley has been one of the most surprising players in the league this year, coming from basically nothing special to the great numbers he has put up this season. Andy Quigly is Frankfurt's number four starter and he has also been a great pickup for Frankfurt. It is unfortunate because both of these players have to be number four starters while they are both clearly higher than that level. Hurley has put up a great record of six wins and one loss in his nine starts. Quigly has had similar numbers as their loss counts are the same, but Quigly has only won four games. Hurley has managed an ERA of 2.29, near the league lead in that category. Quigly's isn't nearly as stellar, but his is also great at 2.59. Hurley is not having as great a year in the WHIP department, but he still has a quality 0.87 mark. Quigly, on the other hand, has a slight edge in this one as his WHIP number is at 0.83. He hasn't had as good of a season overall as Hurley, but he has kept runners off of the base paths, and that is key. Hurley has been amazing so far this season though, so I have to give him this one for winning two of the three categories.
Advantage: Ace Hurley, St. Louis

 

Relievers
St. Louis: Cleveland Dawg (1/1/3.43/1.05)
Frankfurt: Kevin Highmark (0/1/12.91/2.35)
Highmark is basically just a guy who got called up to fill out Frankfurt's roster in the bullpen, and his stats confirm that he hasn't had a full season to play. Cleveland Dawg has been the setup guy for the Stallions and unlike Tidiggity, he has had moderate success. Highmark has won zero games while he has lost one for his team, although record doesn't mean much for relievers. Dawg has managed one win for the Stallions, while also losing one game for them. Highmark has had limited innings and he just hasn't been very good in them, so when he lets up runs it hurts his ERA more than other guys. His ERA stands at an astronomical 12.91 right now. Dawg has had much more success than Tidiggity, even though he has pitched less innings, and his ERA stands at a very solid 3.43. Dawg's WHIP has contributed to his moderate ERA, as it is a moderate 1.05, pretty high for a reliever but decent nonetheless. Highmore wishes he could have that number, though, as his is more than double that at 2.35. Cleveland Dawg is a young player who should work his way into a rotation soon, but for now, he has done his job out of the bullpen and gets this one in a sweep.
Advantage: Cleveland Dawg, St. Louis

 

St. Louis: Iamgonna Strikeuout (5/0/3.94/1.11)
Frankfurt: Smith N Wesson (2/1/1.72/0.68)
Strikeuout started off the season red hot and didn't even allow any hits for a while, but somehow he struggled for a stretch and his ERA has inflated because of it. smith N Wesson, on the other hand, has started red hot and stayed that way as he was also mentioned in our top ten surprises earlier. Strikeuout has won five games this year, which would be great for a starter but is amazing for a closer this early in the season. He has not lost, either. Wesson has won two games and lost one so far this year. Strikeuout is slowly becoming an automatic closer, as he has not blown a save yet this year, but his ERA is fairly high at 3.94. Wesson has blown one save, but his ERA is much lower at 1.72. Wesson has also been a great pitcher all year, keeping runners off base with his 0.68 WHIP> Strikeuout's WHIP is much higher than he has become expected to put up, as he is used to having his WHIP even under 0.60. Right now, it stands up at 1.11. Although Strikeuout hasn't blown a save or lost a game this year, Wesson has rebounded from being in AAA for the entire 2008 season to put up a masterful season. He gets this one, because of how overpowering he has been.
Advantage: Smith N Wesson, Frankfurt

 

Final Lineup Score: 4-4, tie
Final Rotation Score: 2-2, tie
Final Bullpen Score: 1-1, tie

 

Wow, I never thought I'd see this, but we have a tie. Out of fourteen players on each team and fourteen positions to compare, both team had the advantage in seven of them, breaking down perfectly even in every part of the comparison. Overall, I think Frankfurt is a little better because the ones they won were blowouts as opposed to the ones they lost being very close. Everything has clicked for them so far and their lineup is molding together. Their full rotation is comprised of entirely new players, with not one of them being on Frankfurt last year. The rotation is getting huge production as a whole with many superstar performances. The lineup has also been great, and they have put up great numbers in support of these pitchers. They are getting a huge boost from their bullpen as well, being led by Smith N Wesson. Andrews and Kobbs are both hitting homeruns at great rates and Gerald Schultz is also producing well. St. Louis has been getting some decent years from guys, but their key players arenít coming up big like Alex Zito and Tidiggity Dawg. They also do not have a regular started hitting anywhere near .300. Their closer has been nearly automatic but without much of a lead with a weak offense and shaky pitching he can't do much. So overall, although on paper it is a tie, I have to say Frankfurt has the slight edge here, as do they in record with their one game lead. Here is a breakdown for anyone just browsing over the article, very simple with Frankfurt's players being first:

 

CA: Gerald Schultz < Alex Zito
1B: Mike Smirnoff < Glenn Wiggins
2B: Jalen Montgomery > Woodrow James
3B: Tony Kobbs > Christopher Heqaiunu
SS: Josh Andrews > Jerek Deter
LF: Jason Hernandez < Kip Wesley
CF: Aaron McDonald < Pierce Feltini
RF: Richie Maple > Matt Priesmeyer

 

SP: Marc Southworth II > Chris Prior
SP: Zach Kobbs > Tidiggity Dawg
SP: Andy Quigly < Corey Whitney
SP: Ty Quigly < Ace Hurley
RP: Kevin Highmark < Cleveland Dawg
RP: Smith N Wesson > Iamgonna Strikeuout

 

Advantage: tie, 7-7
Final Say:
Frankfurt over St. Louis by a hair

 

And so concludes my first weekly version of "Your WBL Variety." I hope you enjoyed reading this one and I'll try to improve more and more on future ones. Any suggestions, ideas, criticisms, anything, let me know by PMing me on the board, e-mailing me at AI3Yanks84@AOL.com, or IMing me at AI3Yanks842. See you all next week, this is Vin Distasio saying goodbye.