Your WBL Variety
Vin Distasio here and this is my second weekly version of "Your WBL Variety." I'm going to stick to basically the same format but do everything on a different subject of course, and I hope you enjoy it. Well here it is.
All stats as of the all-star break for the entire article, so this all was written before the all-star game.
Often times, rookies hurt a baseball team more than they help it. Even top prospects sometimes come in and struggle for a year, even more in rare instances. You never know who will and who will not be a bust, as rookies come in and out of the league all the time, and it's impossible to predict success. But sometimes, you get a rookie who will stick around, one who will keep updating and come up big for you right away. These star rookies are quite rare; as only about two or three of them shine right off the bat, no pun intended. These are not always top prospects making their way through the minors at light speed, sometimes they are mid-level guys who even struggled to be called up. That's how this game works, you can gain and lose all-star status in seconds. Well, this week, we're going through all the teams to find the biggest rookie impacts of 2009. There may not even be ten rookies making a large impact, but we'll count them down, from ten to one. The guys that came up and started playing like veterans are being spotlighted here in Vin Distasio's Weekly Top Ten. This week, Top Ten Rookie Impacts.
10.Vin Distasio II, relief pitcher, Great Britain Redcoats
2009 stats: 2/3/4.73/1.27
Distasio II was expected to be the 2009 closer for the Redcoats ever since the end of the 2008 season when Josh Poole announced that he was leaving and so did Smith N Wesson. Distasio II was scouted all through high school and Slugga finally signed him for 500k for three years. Distasio II has not had a huge year coming out of the bullpen, but he has been solid up until a recent slide of two rough games versus South Africa. He has won two games for Great Britain while losing three, with two of them coming in his last three appearances. He has even saved one game. His ERA was moderate until his tough stretch, but since then has shot up to 4.73 as we enter the all-star break. His WHIP stands at 1.27 right now, or about a runner and a quarter allowed every inning of pitching. In thirty appearances, Distasio II has only walked five batters, showing his great control. But in that time, he has only struck out three batters. Distasio II was never expected to be a top prospect and was only signed as a bullpen filler, but he has really been doing a great job for someone as inactive as he was for a while. Now that he has started writing more frequently, he should become better and maybe even eventually switch to become a starter.
9.Enrique Gonzalez, closing pitcher, Great Britain Redcoats
2009 stats: 3/3/4.55/1.06
Gonzalez is the second part of the rookie duo basically making up the entire Great Britain bullpen. Along with Vin Distasio II, he has become a big influence on the team's winning. He has filled out the role of closer so far this season as he proved more to the team with his activity than Distasio II. Gonzalez has a very solid ten saves so far this year but it appears as if he may be being moved into the setup role. Gonzalez has won three games and also lost three games this year, while blowing only one save. Gonzalez's ERA is also not to spectacular, at 4.55, but he has gotten the job done for the most part out of the bullpen. Gonzalez came into this league as a starter but is a true team player as he switched to closer to help the team and suit its needs. Gonzalez’s ERA is also a little lower than Distasio II's, with it being at 1.06 right now. That is not very impressive, especially for a closer, but it is good enough to get the job done and that is exactly what Gonzalez has been doing so far this season. All of the players on this list are promising, but Gonzalez seems to be very promising because he can close and start and will be very active.
8.Eric Mayo, catcher, Great Britain Redcoats
2009 stats: .276/4/16/.836
Mayo, finally finding a spot where he can play consistently, is doing all he can to hold onto that spot. He has been a shortstop, third baseman, and now he is behind the plate. He started off the season ice cold, but has picked it up and turned it around 180 degrees. He is now near the league lead in walks and on-base percentage, even though his other numbers aren't too impressive. He is not a power hitter, and that shows through his four homeruns. Batting eighth has only helped to drive in sixteen runs, so it is obvious he is not benefiting the team with his huge bat. But he has a great plate eye and will get on base a lot. He may not get too many hits but his game is more of getting on base instead of looking to always get hits. He sees a walk as being just as good as a single, so he stats patient at the plate and looks for walks. His batting average is at only .276 but his on base percentage is near .400. His OPS is also at .836, so you can tell that his slugging percentage is not very high. Mayo is not a natural catcher and you can tell he is still adjusting, but he has done a good job considering the circumstances and should only get better with time.
7.Dirk Halladay, starting pitcher, Frankfurt Force
2009 stats: 3/1/2.92/0.90
Halladay has already been sent down once this year, but it is not for a lack of ability or talent. The rookie starting pitcher, now in a relief role, was sent down to preserve his rookie status so he can make a run at 2010 Rookie of the Year. But because of Frankfurt's bullpen troubles, Halladay was called back up and ruined his eligibility. Halladay has done a very nice job this season, though, and he has made a big impact in the time he has been in the majors. He has only won three game and lost one, but his ERA is very solid. 2.92 would be accepted by any pitcher and Halladay is expecting really nothing better. He has kept runs off the scoreboard and had he been given more time to get accustomed to the league, he may have been able to make a serious run at the Rookie of the Year for this year. But his lack of playing time and stint in the minors really killed his chances. His WHIP is a very reasonable 0.90, not superstar status but very good for a rookie nonetheless. Halladay is definitely active and should continue to be that way. If Halladay doesn't make it as a reliever, he now has the starting role to fall back on as he continues to grow as a player.
6.Kurtis Rands, left fielder, Seoul Storm
2009 stats: .281/6/23/.690
Kurtis Rands just recently entered the league and was not expected to do anything remotely helpful. Instead, without updating, he has maintained a near .300 batting average and has even driven in a good amount of runs while scoring his own. His batting average has dropped somewhat as of late, but it was near .300 for most of the season before his recent slide. After, it stands at .281, and Rands should be able to get it back up to where it was for the first part of the season. He has not shown great power, with only six homeruns, but he is not necessarily a powerful hitter and does not need to be. He bats near the bottom of the order, in fact last of the position players, so he gets a good number of opportunities to drive in runners. He has driven in 23 runs this year, good for a rookie with little experience. His OPS is only at .690 right now because he has not hit for much power, but as he develops and updates his homerun number, that OPS and slugging percentage will rise. He has one hit for every game that he plays in on average, a very impressive stat that he can surely keep up. Even without much updating, Rands has been a surprise and although he may just have gotten off to a hot start, there is a chance that he can keep it up.
5.Ken Griff, Jr., starting pitcher, Great Britain Redcoats
2009 stats: 9/3/2.30/0.88
Griff, Jr was one of three young starting pitchers who came into the 2009 season with a lot of hype, having been a top prospect for a long time. Griff, Jr was number one on the prospect list for months until he was taken off for playing too many innings. Griff Jr has gotten a lot of run support but it's really been his pitching that has won him the games. He has won nine games for Great Britain, and has lost only three. He has been, strangely, a machine for strikeouts as he has been blowing batters away and sitting them down at an amazing clip, especially for a rookie. Griff, most importantly, has not allowed runners to score though. His ERA comes in at 2.30, great for any pitcher, phenomenal for a rookie. He was called on to help solidify the Great Britain staff that was supposed to be very weak, and although it has been amazingly strong instead, he has still played a huge part in that. His WHIP is at 0.88, not amazing but very good nonetheless. Great Britain has had a great year out of Greg Mojonnier and Dustin Parmelee rebounding helps them more, so Griff, Jr was not as huge a part of the rotation as he was expected to be. Still, he has had a great year and he has made a huge impact in turning Great Britain's early struggles into wins.
4.Corey Whitney, starting pitcher, St. Louis Stallions
2009 stats: 6/5/2.21/0.73
Whitney is the second of three starting pitchers coming into the season with a huge amount of hype, and he has not disappointed, not one bit. Whitney has been a huge part in turning St. Louis around into the winning team that they have become so far. Whitney's record doesn't really give him what he deserves in terms of credit, as he has won only six games this year while losing five, the most of anyone on this list. But, Whitney is an amazing updater and now that he is writing for Weekly he should only continue to rack up the points week in and week out. Whitney has taken a rotation full of struggling players like Tidiggity Dawg and Ace Hurley and kept them in the playoff picture by not allowing runs. His ERA is a minuscule 2.21, best of anyone on this Top Ten list. But what is really amazing is how well he manages to keep runners off the basepaths. His WHIP is even lower than most aces and superstars at 0.73 and that has contributed largely to his tiny ERA. Whitney is neck and neck in the Western Hemisphere Rookie of the Year race with our number two rookie impact, and Whitney is at a slight disadvantage right now mainly because of his record. But great record or not, Whitney is an awesome pitcher who doesn't allow many runs and keeps runner off base. He is an asset to any team, especially his current team, the Stallions.
3.Richard Amato, second baseman, Great Britain Redcoats
2009 stats: .293/30/53/1.159
Amato never really received the hype that some of these players did, and that's a shame. Amato is every bit as good as any player on this list, and it has earned him the number three rookie impact title. Amato hasn't exactly lived up to his "slugger" title that he often received while going through the minors, but he has hit his share of homeruns. What was not expected of him, though, was for his batting average to be so high. Amato is teetering on and off the edge of hitting .300 and right now he is sitting firmly at .293. The power numbers that were mentioned before may not seem amazing, but for a rookie they are incredibly solid. He has smacked thirty dingers in 2009, a decent number for a whole season, but he has done that before the all-star break. Those homeruns have led him to drive in 53 runs, largely contributing to the Red Coats amazing offensive attack. Amato has played solid defense at second and no one though he could fill the void left when Shammond Guzman left for free agency. As you can see, Amato filled in nicely and it has been both to his benefit and the team's. Amato is the second baseman of the future, and right now it appears as if the future is now.
2.Nolan Ryan, starting pitcher, Montreal Menace
2009 stats: 9/2/2.41/0.81
Ryan is the third and final pitcher to have been a top prospect that was coming into the league as a rookie in 2009. After gaining the top prospect status, people started to question the integrity of the report. They said that Ryan was overrated and that he shouldn't have been the top prospect, because he was taking it away from much stronger players like Vin Distasio and Richard Amato. But Ryan was not overrated, and his blazing 2009 campaign has shown just that. Playing for Montreal, he has won nine games for the Menace while dropping only two. Ryan may not have deserved that top prospect status at the time, but he is showing now why scouts gave him that title. His ERA is not as stellar as the other two starting pitchers, but it is still great at 2.41. Ryan has been a monster, and is the top candidate for Western Hemisphere Rookie of the Year right now. His WHIP does not paint the whole picture for you, and it is much higher than you would have expected. But still, 0.81 is definitely not a bad thing, but it gives more credit to him for not allowing many runs without a miniature WHIP. Ryan has dominated hitters all year and even the best of them are starting to fear him. Ryan will be a vicious starter down the road and he will only get better from here.
And our top rookie impact of the 2009 season is...
1.Vin Distasio, shortstop, Great Britain Redcoats
2009 stats: .317/33/65/1.310
Distasio was, at one point, the top prospect in the entire league and deservingly so. He had the most attribute points out of any rookie and almost everyone thought that he, not Josh Poole or Ken Griff Jr, should be the top prospect. Distasio never did regain that title, but I'm sure he'd gladly take being the number three prospect in exchange for the season that he has been having. In the beginning of the season, when all of Great Britain's players were struggling, there was one bright spot. When everyone else was batting under .300, Distasio had his average near .400. He carried the team, a great task for any player, even greater for a rookie. He has been cooling off as of late, but his stats still are great. He has batted .317 in the first half, good for second in the Eastern Hemisphere. Coming into this season, he was supposed to be a light-hitter, maybe hitting fifteen homeruns, but with a very high batting average. Well he has surprised just about everyone by maintaining that fairly high batting average while also hitting a lot of homeruns. He has thirty-three bombs on the year, much higher than was expected of him. He has also driven in 65 batting in the number one or two slot, quite a feat. Distasio's ability to get one base while slug doubles and homeruns contributes to his very high OPS, which is among the top in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is at a very impressive 1.310 and he has managed to keep that up all season so far. He is a great player, great updater, and should only become better and better and eventually become the premiere shortstop.
Our Top Ten was also about rookies, but that won't take anything away from our Rookie Spotlight for the week. For those of you who did not read last week's article, here is how Rookie Spotlight works. Every week, at random, I pick two rookies, one from each hemisphere. I analyze their season, as it is at that point, break down their strengths and weaknesses and basically pick them apart as a player. It should be a pretty balanced report of pitchers and batter and I'll try to mix in some relievers as well. They do not have to be top prospects; they don't even have to be good. I'll give their name, prospect rating, and stats for 2009, good or bad, and like I said before, pick them apart. Then I'll give my opinion on what kind of player they are. So here goes my Rookie Spotlight for this week.
Dan Wade, catcher, Caracas Cougars
Prospect Rating: 5.0 stars
2009 stats: .254/1/24/.675
Wade, who was voted into the all-star game starting lineup but was removed from it because of controversy, has had a solid at best rookie season. He led the Western Hemisphere voting for catcher and was going to be put it as the starter. But, the commissioner suspected a conspiracy between Wade and non-members of the league, so the spot was given to JD Boom. Wade has not had a terrible season though, and he is still only a rookie. He is only batting .254 but when compared to some other rookies, that is not all that terrible. wade has hit only one homerun this year, but that is not his game. He is always trying to hit a double to get on base for the big hitters such as Shammond Guzman, Smitty Springfield, and Jermaine Guzman, and it has helped Caracas so far this year. He has only gotten on base roughly twenty seven percent of the time, but of his sixty hits, twenty-two have been doubles. Because of his double frequency, he has scored a very respectable thirty-six runs while driving in twenty-four of his own. Wade has made three errors this year at catcher, but he is a very solid fielder with a good arm. Wade's OPS stands at .675, not terrible by any means. Wade is probably going to be a great catcher in the future but at this moment, he does not deserve to start the all-star game and will not.
Kevin McGlynn, right field, South Africa Lions
Prospect Rating: 5.0 stars
2009 stats: .246/5/24/.708
McGlynn is a rookie who was a top prospect, as shown by his prospect rating, but has not been terribly well off in 2009. A natural second baseman, he has moved to right field so that he could have a spot in the lineup. He is leading off for the Lions and has not been getting on base nearly enough. His batting average is at .246 for the season, which is basically too low for a leadoff hitter. He has struck out an incredible fifty one times this year, a lot for any hitter but a huge amount for the player who is supposed to draw walks and get the bat on the ball. He does have sixteen walks on the season, though. His on base percentage is roughly .300, .307 to be exact. He has not hit many homeruns, with five, so he really does not serve any purpose as a leadoff hitter. He has driven in only twenty-four runs this year, mainly because of South Africa's weak offense and also his inability to get hits. He also has only six doubles on the season, although he does have a respectable four triples. McGlynn has scored twenty-six runs as the leadoff batter for the Lions, and it could be much higher if he were to get on base. McGlynn was a former top prospect and can become something good for the Lions at the top of their order, but for now he is dead weight and can really use some time in the minors.
My mailbox continues to be flooded with questions and comments from WBL fantasy nuts like myself. Every week, I will answer or respond to three of the letters that I get. I'll do the most common ones so that they help a broad variety of people. I'll answer them to the best of my knowledge and try to add a little insight of my own. I'll also give any inside information that I may have gotten from sources close to that player or team. I got a couple of very interesting letters this week asking me some tough questions in search of my opinion, so here they are, in no particular order. If you want to see your questions possibly answered, send them to me! I am open to any and all submissions of questions that you may have, so send them in. You can reach me at AI3Yanks84@AOL.com, so don't be shy and let yourself be heard. Anyway, on to this week's questions.
Ace Hurley started the year off on a tear, but I'm afraid he's starting to tail off. It seems as if he has gone cold in his past few starts. Is this just a funk that he will break out of or is it a smart choice to sell high with him? I don't want him around to hurt my team if he's going to struggle. What do you think I should do, I'm on the verge of winning my league and I don't want to blow it. Hurley has helped me to the top with his wonderful start to the season and I'm really hoping for him to get going again, but this league is for money so I need any help I can get.
Dave Hardin, Seoul, Korea
I see where your concern comes in and I agree with you. Hurley has since been moved from the rotation into the bullpen, so I suggest attempting to trade him as quickly as possible before everyone else notices that he is getting bumped. Since his seven inning, one earned run performance on May fifth, Hurley made four starts. He lost to Montreal by allowing six earned runs in seven and two thirds innings. He lost to Santo Domingo by allowing five earned runs in five innings. He put up an identical performance the next start against Caracas as well. His final start was a no decision against Montreal where he went six innings and allowed three earned runs, where his team ended up losing. After that he was moved to the bullpen and looked like he had turned it around. He went a perfect inning in picking up the save against Cancun, and there were rumors about him going back into the rotation. Ace did a good job of killing those rumors though, by allowing two earned runs in three innings against Santo Domingo and picking up another loss. That gives him four straight losses and his record has dropped from 6-1 to 6-5. Hurley is fading fast and would surely be a great guy to dump, as quickly as possible. In fact, he doesn't have the closer job or even the set up role so he probably won't get you any more points for possibly the whole season. So my final opinion on Ace Hurley is that he is struggling badly and being moved to the bullpen will only hurt more. So I'd say trade him, and fast.
Your fantasy expert,
I drafted Greg Mojonnier late in my draft and I was sure surprised when he started producing so well. But, looking at his 2008 numbers, he has had some rough times. Do you think he will keep it up like this or is it probable that he will falter in the second half of the season? He's still doing well so I can probably get a good amount of talent for him, so I can sell high if you don't think he'll keep it up. By the way, I love your articles and I really hope this letter makes it into your Fantasy Mailbag. But back to the question. Greg Mojonnier, is it worth it to keep him for the remainder of the season or was his first half some kind of fluke?
Max Yelson, Montreal, Canada
It's true that Mojonnier had a worse than desirable 2008 season, but he has turned it around for 2009. In fact, he's so much of a changed pitcher that it would be quite wise to hold onto him. I also thought that he was just getting off to a hot start in the beginning of the season but after watching some more of his games, he has really impressed me. He has really been doing well all year long and is even a leading candidate to start the all-star game. He does a lot of things very well also. He is a good workhorse, having already pitched in over one hundred innings. He also has pinpoint control, as shown by his amazing three walks in those innings. He doesn't have overpowering stuff but he can fool you in many ways and he has managed to keep guys off base. He does very well against both righties and lefties so he can really get anyone out. He has lost one game this season, and his loss was the only game in which he didn't make a quality start. He allows fewer than seven runners to reach base per nine innings, a great mark. His worst outing of the season was a seven inning, four earned run start against South Africa, a start that many pitchers would take in a heartbeat. Overall, Mojonnier's entire season may be a fluke but until opposing batters start to figure him out, he will keep it up. Therefore, Mojonnier is a good choice to hold onto for the rest of the season but don't be surprised if he tails off more and more in years down the road. He could become a star and this season shows that, but he could go back to his 2008 ways at any time. Either way, I think Mojonnier will keep this up in this second half and he will help you down the stretch.
Your fantasy expert,
In your last article you made it very clear to everyone that it wasn't a good idea to pick up Dirk Halladay. You said he was going to be sent down, which in fact he was, so I left him in the free agent pool. But the other day, Frankfurt called him back up to the major leagues. He is still available in my league now, but I probably won't have much more time to pick him up. Would it be a wise decision to pick him up now that he's been called up or was his hot beginning to the season just a fluke? I could use some pitching help and Halladay has been the only guy that has done well enough to help me out. So please Vin, please help me out here and quick, if possible.
Rob Cants, Rome, Italy
I know I told you to leave Dirk Halladay be in my last article, but since then, some changes have occurred. Kevin Highmark struggled greatly so Halladay was called back up and Highmark was released. Halladay did start his season off very well, and he has been doing very solid as of late since being called up, but it may not be worth it to pick him up. Halladay is in the mop up role, so he may not be seeing much action in the coming weeks as Frankfurt will be pushing for the playoffs. Halladay has great stamina, as he can relieve in strings of four or five days in a row with ease. He has not walked one guy in forty innings, but he has struck out only four. Even still, Halladay does not shut down hitters like other guys do. He had a string where he relieved on the nineteenth, twenty-first, twenty-second, and twenty-third and he even picked up two wins in that span, but he allowed one run in each of those four games. He did pitch the next two games as well, a compliment to his endurance, but he is not a sure bet to shut anyone down so unless you can afford to allow a run or two, he is not the best choice. Halladay is a great young pitcher who will surely be active and become a star, but he has not reached his peak yet and may not be great to pick up. He could help you if your pitching is really bad, but he's only an average pitcher right now and I'm sure you can find something more reliable.
Your fantasy expert,
In The News
All-Star Lineups Announced for Both Hemispheres
By Vin Distasio
The All-Star Game lineups were released today, as both hemispheres have an impressive array of players to send to the game. Every team except Dublin was honored with a starter, whether it is a pitcher or hitter. The teams are very evenly matched for the most part, but the starting lineups are what is most even. The lineups were announced last night and there were a few surprises of people who started that should not have and some people who did not start but should have. The managers for each hemisphere are Joe Slugga for the East and Jeremy Shirley for the West. It should be a great game and the Eastern Hemisphere is looking to win this year after losing it last year. Here is what was decided with the rosters, in no particular order.
Marc Southworth II will start the game as the pitcher for the East. Frankfurt's ace has put up an impressive season so far, winning nine games while losing two and keeping his ERA under 2 at 1.98. He has kept runners off the bases also, with his WHIP at 0.76. He started the season off on a tear and is still ding very well but has slowed down considerably. Even still, his overall season numbers are impressive and it was between him and Worrell for the starting spot. He will be faced with Brian Lawley from the Western Hemisphere. Santo Domingo's ace has been shutting down opponents all year long and it has earned him a record of nine wins and only one loss. He has also kept runs from scoring as shown with his league leading 1.76 ERA. Lawley has pitched a perfect game in his career and also won a ring with Santo Domingo in 2007, so he is no stranger to success. He has also kept the runners off base, even better than Southworth II. His WHIP is at 0.69, which is pretty legendary for a full season. Both of these players will probably only go two or three innings, but don't expect much offense in those innings.
Other starting pitchers who were selected to the game include Jeremy Shirley (Montreal), Mujuri Shipal (Montreal), Carmelo Jackson (Montreal), Kyle Smith (Caracas), and Manny Martinez (Caracas) for the Western Hemisphere. They will be joined by Chad Slugga (Great Britain), Ernest P. Worrell (Seoul), Dustin Parmelee (Great Britain), and Max Baez (Dublin) in the Eastern Hemisphere as the reserve starting pitchers. Baez was Dublin's only representative in the entire game, but he was not given the spot only because of Dublin needing an all-star. His win-loss record is not great because of a lack of run support, but his ERA is at 2.21, by far first on Dublin's staff. The next best ERA is 4.76, by Dave Boean. Shipal was selected to the game for the second straight year in only his second year, and his WHIP is amazing this year. At 0.49, he is easily leading the league and is averaging less than a runner allowed to reach base every two innings. Montreal had three of their starting pitchers selected to the game while Great Britain had two of their own.
The closers for each team were also specified, and strangely enough, both of them have moved into the rotation since the voting. Smith N Wesson was voted in for the Eastern Hemisphere as the closer because his ERA is at 1.95 and he has saved nine games for Frankfurt. He has since been moved to the number three starter and Andy Quigly has taken over the closing duties. In the Western Hemisphere, Thomas Kenny was chosen to close out the all-star game. The pitcher, who started the year with Dublin and was then traded to St. Louis, replaced Ace Hurley in the rotation after Hurley struggled and Kenny shined. As a closer he was dominant though and his stats show that. His ERA is at 1.86 although he was not on the team long enough to pick up any saves. He is now St. Louis' fourth starter and is always a solid choice to pitch anywhere for any team. Both of these closers show their versatility by being able to start and close as all-stars.
From the East, South Africa's Robert Kurz will also relieve along with another Redcoat in Enrique Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a rookie, was not on the voting ballot but was selected to the game by the commissioner because of his solid season. He has ten saves and Kurz has also been doing well. In the West, another Stallion closer, Imagona Strikeuout, was selected to the game as a middle reliever. He has won seven games and lost zero while also not blowing a save in his closing duties. Mick Domas, Jr. of Santo Domingo was also chosen to the game as he has helped Santo Domingo all year by being near perfect out of the bullpen and closing out game. All four of these alternates are very great closers or relievers and strangely enough were both beat out by starters at their own spot.
The pitching may be great but the hitting will blow you away. Both of these teams have a very potent offense to go with their dominant pitching staff. On the Eastern side, their lineup consisted of mostly Redcoats. At first base, second base, shortstop, left field, and center field, you will find Redcoats. At first base, Joe Slugga has once again been selected to the game. The amazing slugger, conveniently named Slugga has hit forty homeruns this year while driving in a spectacular 86 runs while anchoring the Great Britain offense. Richard Amato is only a rookie but he easily won the voting and will get the start. The first year slugger and hit thirty homeruns this year and is most likely in second to be the frontrunner for Eastern Hemisphere Rookie of the Year. At shortstop, Rookie of the Year frontrunner gets the start. He has 33 homeruns this year and a .317 batting average as he ahs had an amazing rookie season. He was recently named the biggest rookie impact in a Top Ten list. In center field, Ken Griff is coming off his 75+ homerun season with another all-star berth. He has also slugged forty homeruns this year. And finally, Scott Travers will man left field to start the game. The light hitting outfielder is batting .295 this year with eight homeruns. Starting at catcher is Frankfurt’s Gerald Schultz, who has hit 29 homeruns but has only driven in 36 runs. His batting average is quite low but he has been producing well. At third base is second year sensation Tony Kobbs. Last year's Eastern Hemisphere Rookie of the Year is second in the Eastern Hemisphere this year with 47 homeruns and he has also batted exactly .300. And last but not least, Sam Baig starts in right field for the East. Seoul's star slugger has thirty homeruns this year in leading the expansion team to a very respectable record.
In the Western Hemisphere, two players each from St. Louis and Caracas made the lineup and everyone else was the only player of their team to make it. From St. Louis, Kip Wesley is their first starter, who will man left field. He has not had a standout season, but due to lack of competition, he was selected to start. Their other starter is Alex Zito. The natural third baseman who has caught all this year will start in the game, surprisingly, as a third baseman. He has had a great year with forty one homeruns and a solid batting average. From Caracas, their combination up the middle was who made it. Shammond Guzman was voted into the game despite his .220 batting average. Smitty Springfield was selected as the shortstop, and he has had an all-around great season. He has a .312 batting average and 36 homeruns. Behind the plate, JD Boom will start after clearing up much controversy. Dan Wade won the vote, but was decided to have been getting people outside the league to vote for him and was moved to the bench. Boom has 43 homeruns this year. Jason Rhiner, in the midst of a disappointing season, was voted in as the first baseman. He ahs batted only .213 but has 37 homers. A NX, who recently switched to play centerfield, was voted as the starter there. He is a leading candidate for MVP, with his .332 batting average and fifty homeruns. In right field, Gregg Torlone rounds out the Western lineup. He has had a very solid season, batting exactly .300 with eight homeruns.
The reserves for both teams could make out their own very good lineup, but they are only second best at their positions. Josh Andrews is the backup shortstop, and he has a good number of homeruns despite a low batting average. James Sirbeepalot, Jr. has had an all-around great season a year after hitting 75 homeruns, and he will back up Tony Kobbs. Jalen Montgomery has been very surprising and he will start the game on the bench in hopes of eventually replacing Richard Amato in the lineup. Montgomery is batting near .300 this year with decent power. Eric Mayo, despite early struggles, has turned it around and will back up Gerald Schultz in his rookie season. He is hitting .276 this year but is drawing walks like crazy. In the outfield, marc Southworth and Shawn Walker are both on the bench despite comparatively disappointing seasons. They are not playing up to their standards for sure. James Conway also makes the game as a benchie in center field, as he has used his ability to get on base in his favor to make the roster. The final backup for the east is Shawn Baig, backing up Joe Slugga at first base. He has had a great season, already at 100 RBI with 55 homeruns. The backups for this team may even be just as impressive as the starters in some aspects.
The Western Hemisphere, too, has great reserves that would put together an amazing team. Two backups catchers were selected. Dan Wade of Caracas, who won the actual vote, was selected to the bench only because of that. He does not deserve to be on the team at all but he won the voting so he has to be included. Sam Hill of Montreal was also selected to the game as the backup catcher, which should move Wade to third string. Hill is a doubles machine and this year has been no different. Blake Roberts will back up Jason Rhiner at first, as Roberts has put up over forty homeruns for Santo Domingo. He is the all-time leader in homeruns and deserves a spot on any all-star team. Kal Jordan of Montreal, whose average is still well over .400, is backing up Smitty Springfield and he very well could have started. He is getting on base over half of the time, a truly amazing number. Reuben Weisfeld from Cancun also won the third base vote, but because he did not deserve a spot, will sit on the bench. Andrew Biggs of Montreal will be a backup from the outfield spot. He has not had a particularly good season but his .273 batting average with nine homers is solid all around. He will be joined by Jermaine Guzman, a centerfielder of Caracas who has had a monstrous season. Although batting .367 with 46 homeruns, he will not start the game. Ace Shap was the third case of winning the vote but not starting, the leftfielder from Cancun will also start sitting. All of these reserves are solid players for the most part and the production should not decline once they start coming in.
One strange thing about this year's all-star game has occurred to me. In my mind, the two players who are leading their respective hemisphere's MVP races will not be starting this game. In the East, right now Shawn Baig is the clear MVP choice. He has bat over .300 all season, and has 55 homeruns with 100 RBI this season to really anchor Seoul's offense. In the West, Jermaine Guzman has also put together a magnificent season. He had a very high batting average all year and it is now down to an earthly .367. He has 46 homeruns and a load of RBI. Both of these guys get on base at great rates and are amazing players. The only competition Guzman has is really A NX while Baig doesn't have much competition this year. Even with a few mistakes here and there, the all star rosters are mostly correct. This should be a very close game with not a great amount of scoring. If anyone breaks it open, it should be when the bullpens come into the game. The battle will be fierce but in the end, anyone can come out on top and we will just have to wait.
In a special edition of Team Breakdown, I'm taking the best of the best to compare. No, not Great Britain and Caracas, as they both stand in first right now, but I'm taking teams even better than that. Having an all-star on your team is a big deal, it shows that one or more of your players played his butt off to make it to this special game. Well, having a whole team of all-stars is another story. Once a year, two teams filled with these all-star players square off in a clash of the titans. The teams are comprised by hemisphere, Eastern and Western. The players and fans vote for who they want to see play and those players that receive the most votes go to this prestigious event. This year will be no different, as the competition is fierce and the teams are strong. In this week's team breakdown, I'll take the two all-star teams who will be facing off very soon and break them down and compare them, position by position, as shown by their stats at the all-star break. The teams are very evenly matched this year, or so it seems, but we'll see who is really the better hemisphere with this comparison. The all-star game is merely a fun event, meant only to enjoy a small break in the season, but it gets heated sometimes so expect these two teams to go at it this year like every other year. I'll first start by giving you the rosters for each team, although it was mentioned in the new article above. I will take each teams' three best starters and two best relievers, so we don't have to compare every single player. The lines, for reference, are BA/HR/RBI/OPS for batters and W/L/ERA/WHIP for pitchers.
CA: JD Boom, Cancun
1B: Jason Rhiner, Antarctica
2B: Shammond Guzman, Caracas
3B: Alex Zito, St. Louis
SS: Smitty Springfield, Caracas
LF: Kip Wesley, St. Louis
CF: A NX, Montreal
RF: Gregg Torlone, Santo Domingo
SP: Brian Lawley, Santo Domingo
SP: Jeremy Shirley, Montreal
SP: Mujuri Shipal, Montreal
CP: Thomas Kenny, St. Louis
RP: Mick Domas, Jr., Santo Domingo
CA: Gerald Schultz, Frankfurt
1B: Joe Slugga, Great Britain
2B: Richard Amato, Great Britain
3B: Tony Kobbs, Frankfurt
SS: Vin Distasio, Great Britain
LF: Scott Travers, Great Britain
CF: Ken Griff, Great Britain
RF: Sam Baig, Seoul
SP: Marc Southworth II, Frankfurt
SP: Ernest P. Worrell, Seoul
SP: Chad Slugga, Great Britain
CP: Smith N Wesson, Frankfurt
RP: Robert Kurz, South Africa
WH: JD Boom (.242/43/69/1.142)
EH: Gerald Schultz (.244/29/36/1.093)
As many of these players are, we have a pair of future Hall of Famers starting at catcher in the All-Star Game this year. Gerald Schultz has always been a great catcher, so this year may be an off-year by his standards. His batting average is at .244, which is 49 points lower than his career mark. His 29 homeruns is solid, but compared to the eighty that he put up last year it seems quite low. JD Boom has been having an MVP-caliber season so far, and he is the clubhouse leader of the Cancun Riptide. His batting average is not much lower than Schultz's, but it is a tad bit lower at .242. Boom does have 43 homeruns though, much higher than Schultz's mark. With Schultz's 29 homeruns, he has somehow only managed to drive in only 36 runs in Frankfurt's potent offense. Boom, on the other hand, has driven in 69 runs even while batting in Cancun's very weak offense. Schultz has not been drawing walks and getting on base nearly as much as normal, and his OPS has taken a hit and it has gone down to 1.093. Boom has done almost everything well in 2009 and his OPS is at 1.142. Gerald Schultz may have the small edge in batting average, but JD Boom has a big lead in everything else and therefore takes this one.
Advantage: JD Boom, Western Hemisphere
WH: Jason Rhiner (.213/37/52/1.057)
EH: Joe Slugga (.306/40/86/1.359)
Slugga has put together an unbelievable career and he is doing nothing short of that this year. He, like always, has managed to keep his batting average over .300, right now it is at .306. His counterpart, Jason Rhiner, may be a great hitter career-wise, but he has struggled this year. His batting average is pretty pitiful right now, as he has only managed to get it to .213. Joe Slugga has won four MVPs in his career and this year is looking good for him to win another one. He has smacked forty homeruns, only two year after hitting 92 bombs. Rhiner may not be getting many hits, but he has been able to hit quite a few homeruns. He has hit 37 out of the park so far, and he has basically produced the entire Antarctica offensive attack. Slugga, batting in the best lineup in baseball, has driven in 86 runs. Rhiner, batting in the worst offense in baseball, has only managed to drive in 52 runs, meaning only fifteen runs that weren't he. Slugga's OPS is a sky-high 1.359, a number he is far from unfamiliar with. Rhiner's inability to get on base has hurt his OPS, but his slugging percentage has managed to get it all the way to 1.057. Both of these players are veterans who has had amazing careers, but Rhiner is having an off-year while Slugga is having another MVP-caliber year, giving Slugga this one pretty easily.
Advantage: Joe Slugga, Eastern Hemisphere
WH: Shammond Guzman (.220/38/67/1.033)
EH: Richard Amato (.293/30/53/1.159)
Amato and Guzman are, strangely enough, the second basemen for Great Britain this year and last year, respectively. Guzman has also had an off-year a season after hitting over 75 homeruns, while Amato is in the middle of a glorious rookie campaign. Guzman has struggling to find places to put the ball, so his batting average has faltered all the way down to .220. Amato, who was not expected to hit for a high average, on the other hand, is pressing to get his average over .300. Right now it stands at .293, and Amato is certainly capable of getting that up. Guzman has hit the homeruns with regularity, at least, and it has totaled 38 homeruns so far. Amato was supposed to be a slugger and he has kept up that part of the deal with thirty homeruns. Guzman is batting right in the middle of a Caracas order that includes Jermaine Guzman and Smitty Springfield, which has helped Shammond pick up a good number of RBI, and it has grown all the way to 67 runs batted in. Amato is also batting in a great lineup, but with the power they have, runners are taken off base all the time so Amato has only gotten 53 RBI. Still, his OPS is 1.159, great for a rookie. Guzman's OPS is only at 1.033, again, because of how he cannot get on base. Guzman is clearly having an off-year while Amato is having a magical year, so you have to give this one to Amato and the underdog.
Advantage: Richard Amato, Eastern Hemisphere
WH: Alex Zito (.260/41/72/1.167)
EH: Tony Kobbs (.300/47/73/1.338)
Alex Zito has been playing catcher all year long for St. Louis but because of a lack of better candidates for the third base job, he will get the start there. He started off cold but has picked it up and right now is sitting with a great season. On the other side of the field, Tony Kobbs will start at third for the East. Kobbs has improved off of his Rookie of the Year season from 2008 and has been producing amazingly. His batting average is at exactly .300, which is the mark that most batters shoot for. Zito's is only at .260, but he started off ice cold and has turned it all the way around to pick it up that much. Kobbs is second in the Eastern Hemisphere and third in the whole WBL in homeruns with an incredible 47 bombs, trailing only Shawn Baig and A NX. Zito has also shown great power, but to a lesser extent with forty one homeruns. Kobbs has benefited from his own production and he has driven in a very impressive 73 runs. Zito has been playing with a worse offense, but he has still been a run producing machine as he has driven in only one less run, at 72. Zito has not gotten on base as much as Kobbs, and Zito's OPS is at 1.167, a good number. Still, Kobbs passes that with his 1.338 mark and picks up the sweep for starting third baseman.
Advantage: Tony Kobbs, Eastern Hemisphere
WH: Smitty Springfield (.312/36/56/1.267)
EH: Vin Distasio (.317/33/65/1.310)
Distasio, a rookie, has played a big role in Great Britain's offense this year and has set the tone by leading off for them. Smitty Springfield is a perennial all-star, so making it this year is old news to him. He is consistently a great producer and has continued that this year. Vin Distasio has produced well as a rookie and has surprised a lot of people. As a leadoff batter, he has gotten on base very well and his batting average is a very respectable .317. Springfield has had a good year with the bat as well, but he is a step lower with his .312 batting average. Distasio was expected to hit very few homeruns and just get on base, but he has been a very productive slugger with his 33 homeruns. Springfield is a bona fide power hitter and shows that with his 36 homeruns. Springfield has also driven in 56 runs this year, nothing spectacular but a good number for any player. Distasio has really thrived with the offense surrounding him and it has helped him to drive in 65 runs, even from the leadoff slot. Distasio's ability to get on base coupled with his great number of doubles and homeruns vaults his OPS to 1.310. Springfield has not gotten on base as well as him but he has also had a great year with his 1.267 OPS. Springfield's numbers would be good enough to beat almost anyone, but Distasio is having a magical rookie season and the leading Rookie of the Year candidate takes this one by a hair.
Advantage: Vin Distasio, Eastern Hemisphere
WH: Kip Wesley (.243/25/57/.973)
EH: Scott Travers (.295/8/26/.843)
Scott Travers is one of the many starters representing Great Britain in this year's All-Star Game, and deservedly so. Ever since being moved into the number two slot in the batting average, Travers has been spectacular. For the Western Hemisphere, GM/manager/player Kip Wesley will man left field. Wesley is a legendary player in the league, having hit .491 in a single season, a record tied only once and never broken. This year, though, has been totally different as Wesley has struggled in the batting average department. He has hit only .243, well below what he used to be accustomed to. Travers, on the other hand, is nearing .300 with his .295 average. Wesley was selected to start because of his power, which has gotten him 25 homeruns this year. Travers is not a power hitter, and he survives on just getting on base with singles. He has hit only eight homeruns this year. Travers has driven in only 26 runs this year, many of which have been Vin Distasio, from the number two spot in the batting order. Wesley has had much better success with his 57 RBI. Travers has his OPS at only .843, but he does not hit many homeruns so that suffers. Wesley's is at .973, also not spectacular but very solid. It may seem like Wesley has the edge here, but Wesley and Travers are different players, and Travers is better at what he does. Because of that, Travers gets this one by a hair.
Advantage: Scott Travers, Eastern Hemisphere
WH: A NX (.332/50/96/1.501)
EH: Ken Griff (.287/40/63/1.274)
Ken Griff is a proven winner, and he has many credentials that suggest that. Griff won the Rookie of the Year award in 2007 with a .297 batting average and 37, then won the World Series in 2008 as he hit over 75 homeruns. This year, he is looking for another championship and a win for his all-star team. He is taking on A NX from the West, a year after NX won the MVP award. NX has been no less than great again this year, and he has been hitting the ball like a maniac. His .332 batting average is very high and near the lead in the league. Griff has been a step below, with a solid but not as great .287 batting average. NX is following his 92 homerun season up in style, and he has smacked fifty more bombs this year. Griff, again, is a step behind with his forty homeruns, but then again, he was a step behind last year as well. A NX has been batting in a very solid Montreal lineup and with Kal Jordan and Adam Brown getting on so often, he has been able to drive in 96 runs already. 100 RBI is good for a whole season, and A NX almost has that at the all-star break. Griff has not even come close to that with his 63 RBI. A NX also shows why he should be MVP with his incredible 1.501 OPS. Griff's OPS is also great, but it is not good enough at 1.274. A NX recently moved to centerfield and he is taking it by storm. He sweeps the proven winner and gets the edge in this comparison.
Advantage: A NX, Western Hemisphere
WH: Gregg Torlone (.300/8/35/.855)
EH: Sam Baig (.284/30/52/1.225)
Sam Baig has done well in his first year with his new expansion team, and him along with his brother Shawn have been maybe the best one-two punch in the whole league. He has the WBL for homeruns in a single season so you know he can hit the ball a long way. His batting average has been very solid for a slugger like him, though, and it stands at .284 this year. On the Western side, Gregg Torlone receives the start as he has been getting on base very well. His batting average is an even .300 in the first half so he will surely shoot to keep it right there in the second half. Baig's power may not be what it once was, but once again, he is still a batter to be feared and his thirty homeruns shows that. Torlone has only hit eight homeruns this year, as that is not his style. Baig has driven in fifty two runs, many of them his brother, giving him a good number in that category. Torlone, again, does not have the power numbers that Baig is so used to and has driven in only 35 runs this year. Baig’s ability to get extra base hits along with his ability to just get on base contributes to his 1.225 OPS. Torlone's lack of power hurts his OPS greatly and because of that, it is down at .855. Baig is one of the best hitters of all time while Torlone is a decent leadoff hitter, and Baig takes this one easily.
Advantage: Sam Baig,
WH: Brian Lawley (9/1/1.76/0.69)
EH: Marc Southworth II (9/2/1.98/0.76)
Both of these starters are clear ace material and in fact have had similar seasons. Marc Southworth II has had more success than his brother while playing for the Force, and he has helped lead the team into the playoff picture. Lawley is
Advantage: Brian Lawley,
Reserve starting pitcher
WH: Jeremy Shirley (5/4/2.64/0.75)
EH: Ernest P. Worrell (9/1/1.81/0.74)
This comparison includes your 2008 Western Hemisphere Cy Young winner. No, it's not Jeremy Shirley. Worrell broke out with a huge year in 2008 to win the Cy Young, and has done nothing less than that in 2009. Shirley has not been playing up to par recently but what he has put up is still great for some guys. Shirley's record has not bee too stellar this year, and he has only won five games in the first half. He is used to winning many more games than that and for him to not win is disappointing. Worrell has won a splendid nine games, looking to repeat as a Cy Young winner. Shirley has lost four games to his five wins, not a spectacular record at all. Worrell, on the other hand, has been dominant with only one loss in ten decisions. His record is so great because of his ERA, which is a miniscule 1.81, even ahead of Marc Southworth II. Shirley's ERA is still very good even with his bad record, at 2.64. That is also a little high for Shirley, but
Advantage: Ernest P. Worrell,
Reserve starting pitcher
WH: Mujuri Shipal (9/3/2.02/0.49)
EH: Chad Slugga (10/1/2.81/0.83)
Shipal and Slugga are both very popular and well-known names around the league and both players have had a great year. Shipal, who was 2008's Western Hemisphere Rookie of the Year, has put up a magnificent 2009 season to make it that both 2008 Rookies of the Year had even better years in 2009. Chad Slugga has been very solid for Great Britain all year and he is certainly becoming a veteran presence in the clubhouse. He lets his playing speak for him often times, as he has been helped by some good run support in winning ten games this year. Shipal has not had as much run support as Slugga but he has still managed nine wins. Slugga, playing for Great Britain, will obviously not lose many games and that is evident through his one loss. Shipal, again, has been in many pitcher's duels this year and he has come up on the short end of three of them. Slugga started the season off very rocky and is only now getting his ERA down to a good point. It is at 2.81 now. Shipal, on the other hand, did not start off slow but came out right away pitching well and his ERA is a mere 2.02. The WHIPs are what amaze me, though. Slugga's is solid, at 0.83, again recovering from a rocky start. But Shipal's is just flat out amazing. His WHIP is 0.49, which means that on average. he allows only one runner to reach base every two innings. That is incredible for this deep into the season and even though Slugga has a better record, Shipal has done a better job season-long and gets this one.
Advantage: Mujuri Shipal, Western Hemisphere
WH: Thomas Kenny (3/2/1.86/0.68)
EH: Smith N Wesson (5/3/1.95/0.78)
This was stated in the News article, but there is something very strange about these "closers." The fact is, neither of them are any longer closers. Both of them were dominant in the closer role for part of the season, which was enough to get them into the game, but both have since been moved into the rotation. Smith N Wesson was Frankfurt's closer and did very well for most of the season but was switched with Andy Quigly. Thomas Kenny, who was traded to St. Louis not too long ago, was also moved to the rotation to replace the struggling Ace Hurley. Wesson, before being moved, racked up five wins, very good for a closer. Kenny was a part time starter and closer, but has only gotten three wins this year. He has also lost two games, while Wesson has lost three. Both of their ERAs are impressively under 2, with Kenny having the advantage. His ERA stands at 1.86 for the first half. Wesson is not too far over that, but there is a small margin with his 1.95 mark. Both of these guys were dominant closers for the whole year before being moved, and their WHIPs are very good. Wesson’s 0.78 WHIP is not amazing, but it is still very good. Kenny's is better in this category as well, at 0.68. Both of these guys were great closers and will also make great starters, but Kenny had the statistical edge in the first half of the season.
Advantage: Thomas Kenny, Western Hemisphere
WH: Mick Domas, Jr. (3/3/1.72/0.53)
EH: Robert Kurz (4/1/2.63/0.79)
A pair of the best setup men in baseball are being compared here, as they should play a big part in the game. Mick Domas, Jr of Santo Domingo is a closer but will play the setup role for the All-Star Game after not being voted in as the closer. For the East, Robert Kurz of South Africa fills the setup spot, and he has been very solid for the mediocre Lions. Domas, Jr may even deserve the closer's spot, but he should be content with any bullpen role. Out of the pen for the Rush this year, Domas has won three games. Take this how you want, but Robert Kurz has four wins and Max Powers has two... Domas has lost three games to go along with his three wins, a .500 record. Robert Kurz has only lost one game for the Lions, in a season where they have lost quite a few games. Kurz's ERA is a bit higher than he is used to, but it is still very good with a 2.63 mark. Domas has been more dominant, though, with a 1.72 ERA. He has also kept runners off base very well, with a WHIP of 0.53. Kurz has, again, been very good, but not quite as good as Domas with a 0.79 number. Both of these guys are premiere closers who could make elite setup men, and both of them deserve the spot of the roster. Domas has had better stats than Kurz all-around though, so he gets this one for the setup men.
Advantage: Mick Domas, Jr., Western Hemisphere
Final lineup score: 6-2, Eastern Hemisphere
Final rotation score: 2-1, Western Hemisphere
Final bullpen score: 2-0, Western Hemisphere
Final score: 7-6, Eastern Hemisphere
So there you have it folks. On paper, the Eastern hemisphere has the better starting team and a few reserves. Now, we did not analyze every player in the game, and as you know, every player plays in the All-Star game. Therefore, a player that was not mentioned could make the difference at any time. We missed such stars as Shawn Baig, Jermaine Guzman, Kal Jordan, and more who can change the momentum of a game in an instant. This should be a very exciting game for sure, and don't be surprised if it goes into extra innings with how evenly matched these teams are. I expect the Western Hemisphere to win the game, but only because of the strength of their reserves in the lineup and in the bullpen. I think the East will jump out to a solid lead but once their stars start coming out and the second-tier players go in, they may lose it. But in conclusion, this should be one of the best All-Star Games ever. Congratulations to all who made it and good luck in the future to all who didn't.
Final score: 7-6, Eastern Hemisphere
Vin's say: Western Hemisphere by a bit
And so concludes my second Weekly edition of Your WBL Variety. I hope you enjoyed it and I will look forward to writing more for you in the future. As usual, comments and criticisms to AI3Yanks84@AOL.com.