Your WBL Variety

Vin Distasio here and I'm back again for another installment of "Your WBL variety." We have basically the same format as the previous weeks and I'm going to try to make it the best one yet. One small change is taking place this week, though. The "Rookie Spotlight" section is going to be taken out of the lineup indefinitely. There is not much to write about many rookies besides the top players, so I am not going to do that anymore for now. Everything else will stay the same for now. I hope you enjoy reading it and maybe you will learn something about the WBL that you never knew before. Either way, here it is.

All stats as of February 4th or 5th, so some of it may be a little outdated.


Top Ten

MVP. Three letters that have taken on a meaning of their own. There is not even a need to say "Most Valuable Player" anymore; the three letters are so well known as that. This award is one of the most prestigious awards in all of sports, and only two lucky players every year get to take it home. You have to be a very special player to win this award, and it is the pinnacle of individual sports achievements. The players that win this award in any given year showed leadership qualities, maturity, and most of all, the ability to play baseball. The award, in its true meaning, means the player with the most value to their team, the player whose team could not survive without him. But now, the MVP award has taken new meaning, becoming the award given just to the best player in each league statistically. By true meaning, this award should never go to a player on a first place team because that team certainly has more than one good player. But because I don't see it fair to penalize a player for having a very good or very bad supporting team, the teams are being thrown out and only the stats looked at. I'm going to count down the top ten MVPs in the entire WBL, and stats are going to be a big part of the decision. The best players are more likely to win the award, so even though I think the award should be handed out to the most valuable player, my top ten will not be Top Ten MVP Candidates. Instead, this week, I am counting down the Top Ten Outstanding Hitters, league disregarded, so far in the 2009 season. Here it goes, and let the best player win.

10.Kal Jordan, Montreal Menace
2009 stats: .359/0/19/.918
Kal
Jordan, shortstop for the Montreal Menace, has been having a tremendous season in many respects. At the top of Montreal's lineup, he has been the spark that they need to vault them into the playoffs. He gets on base at amazing rates and it's almost impossible to fool him at the plate. With free agency hurting Montreal's offense this offseason, Jordan was counted on to come off of an off season and did so in impressive fashion. His batting average says it all. He's batting .359 on the year, with an on base percentage near .500. He has been near impossible to get out, and even though he does not hit for much, if any, power, Montreal will gladly take his bat at the top of their order. He has not even hit one homerun this year and he's only driven in nineteen runs, but that's not his job. His OPS is at .918, and that's pretty incredible considering how low his slugging percentage is. He has brought a jolt into this offense and he even flirted with .400 early on, but he's fallen away from that. Still, he shows no signs of even dropping below .350 and it sure takes an outstanding hitter to do that. If you though homeruns got you recognition, think again, and Jordan is our number ten outstanding hitter.

9.Vin Distasio, Great Britain Redcoats
2009 stats: .316/54/99/1.333
Distasio, right now the frontrunner for the Eastern Hemisphere Rookie of the Year award, has had a big season at shortstop for the Redcoats.
Great Britain was hit hard by free agency and also struggled to stay under the cap, and this guy is one of the big reasons that they've succeeded even with all the rebuilding they had to do. He started off batting second, and is now leading off for the Redcoats and has also been lighting the spark for the Great Britain offense. He may not get on base with the consistency that Jordan does, but he adds more to the team than just getting on base. He has batted a very solid .316 this season on top of the lineup, but that is only where his production begins. Vin has hit a very good fifty-four homeruns from the leadoff spot, so you can tell that he brings a lot of extra power to the lineup with his 64 rating in homeruns. He is one RBI shy of the century mark, meaning he is currently sitting at ninety-nine. His OPS is also very impressive for a leadoff man, at 1.333. He brings a nice blend of power and speed along with a knack for getting on base to the lineup and is a good guy to have at any time. He is an up-and-coming star and should be an asset to any team later on in his career.

8.Sam Baig, Seoul Storm
2009 stats: .314/49/95/1.345
Sam Baig, single season homerun record holder and legend in the WBL, has played a great right field for
Seoul all year long. He has not let down any of his fans that expect him to produce like a superstar. He has batted in the middle of the Storm lineup and is cleaning up all the messes left for him. He is a team leader, a great guy, and he sets examples to all of his teammates, some of which are really starting to improve under his tutoring. Baig's batting average, although you wouldn't expect him to hit for a good average, is right now at .314. You knew he would probably never get even near one hundred homeruns ever again with the quality of the pitching nowadays, but he has still hit his share of homeruns with forty-nine. By the end of the season, he could easily be in the seventies with a little bit of a hot streak. He has driven in his share of runs for sure, with ninety-five. He can easily reach the hundred mark in a few games, and even though one hundred RBIs is losing value, it's still a nice accomplishment. Baig's OPS is 1.345, with a pretty even mix of on base percentage and slugging percentage, which shows you how balanced Baig is. He is an overall great player and I'm sure no one will argue when he's named one of the top ten outstanding hitters, of which he is number eight.

7.Tony Kobbs, Frankfurt Force
2009 stats: .306/69/110/1.352
Kobbs, the 2008 Eastern Hemisphere Rookie of the Year, was surely expected to do well in 2009, but by no means was he predicted to do this well. He, last year, was a role player with a good amount of power, but this year he's erupted into a homerun machine and a star for
Frankfurt. His third base abilities have improved and he's turned into one of the best players in the league. Everything is coming together after a mediocre rookie season to create his amazing sophomore campaign. His batting average is at .306 right now and with the way he's hitting, it should only climb as the season matures. His homeruns total is the most surprising, though. He has been hitting balls out of the park non-stop and he has racked up sixty-nine homeruns to date. He has also been driving in anything and everything at the plate, with one hundred ten RBI so far this season. He has clearly been the heart and soul of Frankfurt's offense, even if it is only his second season. His OPS is also very good, at 1.352, and much of that is slugging percentage. Still, Kobbs has been one of the best hitters in the league, and Frankfurt can partially thank him for their huge turnaround this season. He has had an amazing season, so he is our number seven outstanding hitter of the year.

6.Ken Griff, Great Britain Redcoats
2009 stats: .308/65/94/1.384
Griff, coming off a seventy-seven homeruns season while winning a ring with Montreal, is in Great Britain playing centerfield now and is producing no less than ever. He has done very well in the field and even better at the plate. After winning Rookie of the Year in 2007 and then breaking out in 2008, a lot was expected of him in 2009 to help
Great Britain on their championship run. Well, Griff has not let them down at all. He has batted fifth in the lineup and has picked up any slack left by Shawn Walker and James Sirbeepalot during the season. He is batting .308 this season, a spectacular number for a power hitter of his caliber. He has hit sixty-five homeruns this year, well ahead of pace to pass the seventy-seven he hit last year. He has definitely benefited from having such strong hitting batting ahead of him, and it has increased his RBI total. Griff has ninety-four RBI this season, and they've all come at great times. It seems as if he is always in the midst of a homerun streak, and he has had at least three streaks of six games or more. Griff's OPS is also 1.384, second in the Eastern Hemisphere. Griff is quickly developing into the superstar and if the Redcoats win the World Series, they can thank this man in part, and he is our number six outstanding hitter.

5.Blake Roberts, Santo Domingo Rush
2009 stats: .308/72/118/1.434
Roberts is a legend in the WBL, and it's apparent why. The all-time homerun and RBI leader is at it again, just hitting homeruns left and right and driving in runs like crazy.
Santo Domingo's star second baseman has been a huge part to their team, even though they have been struggling for most of the season. Roberts can do it all, and he's showed that in the past with his multiple eighty homerun season and all-time leader board appearances. On this season, he is batting .308, in a league where .300 is becoming rarer and rarer. He is well on pace for another incredible season in the homerun department, and to date he has hit seventy-two of them. He is surely gunning for ninety this year and maybe even he can reach one hundred. Roberts is great at driving in runs, and so far he has driven in one hundred eighteen of the runners who were on base when he was batting. When you see how many homeruns he has hit along with his batting average, you expect his OPS to be sky-high, and if you guessed that, you're not far off. His OPS is 1.434, fifth in the entire WBL. Because if his maturity, leadership, and most of all athleticism, he has turned into maybe the greatest hitter in WBL history and this year is our number five outstanding hitter.

4.Smitty Springfield, Caracas Cougars
2009 stats: .354/58/98/1.456
Smitty Springfield, shortstop for the team that he co-owns, has put up a great season. He is the first of the two co-general managers of the Caracas Cougars on this list, and he deserves it. He is never really mentioned when you're talking about the best hitters in the league, but he definitely should be. This guy is incredible, and he may be the most underrated shortstop, if not player, in the league. On the season, he has batted an incredible .354, which would easily lead the
Eastern Hemisphere, but it is fourth in the Western Hemisphere. He has had great power, and although he has always had good power, he is really killing the ball this year. He has slugged fifty-eight homeruns this year, and has been a big part of bringing expansion Caracas to the top. He has also driven in ninety-eight runs, so it's evident that he helps to drive in runs and rack up runs for his team. His OPS is very good, at 1.456, and you can see that, because he doesn't have an incredible number of homeruns, that he also gets on base a lot. He is a great guy to have in a lineup because not only does he produce, but also he can help out younger guys and the team in general. He has had a monster season so far and he comes in at our number four outstanding hitter of 2009.

3.Jermaine Guzman, Caracas Cougars
2009 stats: .367/63/117/1.455
Jermaine Guzman started off the season on an incredible tear and has kept it up the rest of the way. The other co-general manager of
Caracas and also the Cougars centerfielder, he has been the best hitter in their lineup. Himself along with Smitty Springfield make for maybe the most dynamic duo in the entire league, with Guzman being the stronger link. He can do almost anything and not only have his hitting stats been great but so have his fielding stats as well as what he brings to the team. But what he really does best is hit, and this year has been no exception. Guzman is batting .367 on the season, good enough to lead the entire Western Hemisphere in that category, even over which one of the two Western Hemisphere players are ahead of him. He has hit sixty-three homeruns this year, a clear testament to his power. His RBI total is at one hundred seventeen, and when you hit as many homeruns as he has with that kind of batting average, you're bound to drive in runs. Guzman's OPS is third in the entire WBL, at 1.455, so it's no wonder why he's so high on the list. He has been maybe the biggest reason that Caracas should cruise into the playoffs, and because of that along with his stats, he comes in at our number three most outstanding hitter.

And your Eastern Hemisphere's Most Outstanding Batter is...
2.Shawn Baig, Seoul Storm
2009 stats: .331/72/138/1.538
Shawn Baig has been hitting the ball hard right off the bat, and Seoul's first baseman has continued it all season long to be named the most outstanding hitter in the Eastern Hemisphere. His batting average has been going down as of late, but he is in a bit of a slump and no doubt will break out quickly. He has always been a big part of whatever lineup he's been in during his career and the co-owner of
Seoul has made no exception for this year. While batting at the top of Seoul's order, he has put up incredible power numbers along with a solid batting average. His batting average is now at .331, very good and enough to lead the Eastern Hemisphere. He has also creamed seventy-two homeruns, leading the Eastern Hemisphere at this moment. He is in somewhat of a slump and is falling fast, so it can't be long until Baig is passed up in these categories. He has driven in one hundred thirty-eight runs on the season, and it's clear that he's the anchor of the Seoul offense. His OPS is very impressive, and it is good enough to lead the Eastern Hemisphere and come in second overall at 1.538. Baig is a great young hitter and is only getting better with age, so itís no surprise to see him named the Eastern Hemisphere most outstanding hitter so far in 2009, as well the second most outstanding overall.

And your Western Hemisphere's Most Outstanding Batter is...
1.A NX, Montreal Menace
2009 stats: .363/77/142/1.638
A NX, the Western Hemisphere's Most Valuable Player in 2008, has made in incredible case for himself to repeat that in 2009. He played third base last year and dominated there, and this year has done no less as the centerfielder for the Menace. He has still dominated every pitcher out there to the point of where pitchers don't even want to face him at all. He hit 92 homeruns last year and is well on pace to pass that this season. But what's really amazing is how pure of a hitter he is. He is batting .363 this season with an on base percentage of just over .400. He is really looking towards hitting one hundred homeruns this season, and that is definitely not out of his reach. He has hit seventy-seven homeruns this year, and as you know, A NX can go on tears of five or six homeruns in a span of two games. He has driven in an incredible one hundred forty-two runs this year as well, and he is definitely the frontrunner for the MVP this season. His OPS, which leads the entire WBL, is at 1.638. He is definitely capable of keeping up numbers like that, as he proved last year, so expect him to possibly even improve on this while heading towards the playoff run. He was 2008's MVP, and he is definitely 2009's MVP so far. He is the
Western Hemisphere's most outstanding hitter and well as the entire league's, so congratulations to ANX and all who were named in the top ten.


Fantasy Mailbag

Dear Vin,
I have Kal
Jordan in one of my fantasy leagues, and he's been giving me problems all year. Yes, he's a great hitter who gets on base all the time, but he can hardly hit the ball out of the infield. He has not hit a homerun yet, and I'd put money on him not hitting any all season. In a league where homeruns and RBI are all counted, is it worth it to keep Jordan and his batting average or look for someone with more power?
Signed,
Pete Newcarton,
Mexico City, Mexico

Dear Pete,
I've gotten tons of mail concerning Kal
Jordan and how one-dimensional he kind of is, and it's tough to decide what I would do. You won't find a better played than him in the free agent pool, that's for sure, so it all comes down to who you can get in a trade. Overall, though, I suggest keeping Jordan. He is a special player with an uncanny ability to get on base, and he's the best in the game at what he does. Even though he doesn't hit for much power at all, he'll get you tons of points for his on-base percentage and batting average. He also gets a good number of steals, so if that is counted, he will help you there. There are not many players more valuable than Jordan to a team, and the way he produces could be crucial to getting a good enough amount of points to win. Unless you can get someone such as Vin Distasio or Smitty Springfield to play shortstop, I suggest holding onto Jordan because he's one of the best shortstops around. He's the best leadoff hitter in the game, and since there are so many power hitters in the league now, you can find someone else to produce your power and let Jordan get points by doing what he does best. So in conclusion, you should definitely keep Jordan to help you with his batting average.
Your fantasy expert,
Vin Distasio


Dear Vin,
Rabbit Jackson was recently added to my league as a free agent, and it's my turn to pick up from the waiver wire. Now
Jackson just recently signed a deal with Great Britain, and I'm in a keeper league, so should I pick up Jackson to put as my future catcher? Will he even be playing for the Redcoats next year?
Signed,
Greg Yonny,
Sydney, Australia

Dear Greg,
This question has come up a lot, because it's obvious that Eric Mayo will not be with the team next year. Rabbit
Jackson was just signed to the Redcoats as a catcher, but I think you should pass up on him for now. He may end up playing catcher next year, but Great Britain has been actively pursuing Michael Naiditch at that same position, and out of those two guys, I would have to say Naiditch has more talent. Naiditch is weighing his options, but why wouldn't he pick Great Britain? They can offer, realistically, the best environment for any rookie who wants to go there. Naiditch will be offered a starting job right away if he were to sign, so that should definitely increase the likelihood of him going there. Rabbit Jackson could be a good player and there is a small chance that he will be starting next season for Great Britain, but until any announcements are made on the Naiditch signing, he would not be a definite at all and would not help your team much. On the other hand, it is a keeper league and I'm sure you have a bench, so if you want to sign Jackson for the bench and save him for next year in case he starts and release him if not, that would be fine, but if he would be your normal catcher, pass up on this one.
Your fantasy expert,
Vin Distasio


Dear Vin,
Mujuri Shipal has made it clear that he will be going to
Dublin next year, which is the team he co-owns. I have him this year in my keeper league and although he's been helping me, my team is really out of contention. If he's going to go to Dublin, I doubt he'll get much run support and therefore won't get many wins. Should I hold onto him through the bad times or should I sell high so I don't have to worry about him weighing me down next year? I can probably get some quality players for him, so it seems logical, but I don't know what's in store for Dublin.
Signed,
Wayne Longthorn,
New York, New York, USA

Dear Wayne,
I can see why you're concerned and I agree with you.
Dublin is a hell hole right now and it doesn't look like they have anything remotely promising for the future. Next year they should be getting Eric Mayo, Enrique Gonzalez, Kurtis Rands, and of course Mujuri Shipal. That's basically two mediocre hitters, a decent closer and a great starter. There have not been really any rumors of anyone else who has proven anything to be going there, so it appears as if that's their main free agent crew for the 2009-2010 off-season. That does not look too great, so I say to trade away Shipal while you still can, before anyone else realizes what you've figured out. Shipal will barely get any run support in Dublin, and you know what happens when Shipal doesn't get run support. In Frankfurt last year, he got no run support and he started off the season 0-8. After being traded to Montreal, a place where he got tons of runs support, he did not lose another game after that and won the rookie of the Year award. So it definitely would be better to trade for a guy who gets more run support because even though Shipal is a phenomenal pitcher vying for the Cy Young this year, he most likely won't help you much next year.
Your fantasy expert,
Vin Distasio


In The News

Dublin Announces New Owner and General Manager
By Vin Distasio

The Dublin Fighting Irish have found a new GM, just days after their old one resigned. They are looking to turn their horrid season around and a change in management could be just the thing to help them out. A team without much talent, management alone may not be able to save them, but a change of pace should be good for the players as they look to at least win a few games before season's end in a season of all but lost hope.
Dublin, in past years, has been somewhat of a dynasty, winning it all in 2007 and making the playoffs many years other than that. Dublin's failure this year is a bit of a surprise, but it is not due only to struggling players. The former Dublin general manager let the club fall off after the championship in 2007, allowing Max Powers to leave via free agency and trading away James Sirbeepalot for Dave Smith straight up, They then proceeded to trade Dave Smith away for next to nothing and they are not winning any games. In a way, you could blame management for Dublin's recent struggles, but management problems and player struggles have played equal parts in tearing down this dynasty.

Everything started going downhill for
Dublin after the World Series championship in 2007. Alex Zito was their manager at that point, and he had done a great job in making Dublin a championship team. But soon, players did not like the way Zito ran things and he lost valuable players, such as Max Powers, because of it. Soon after, Zito resigned as general manager of the Fighting Irish and left the team up for grabs. Thomas Kenny was then chosen as the Dublin manager soon after, and he was looking to take a great team and make them better. He had won the Cy Young award in 2007 and was going to be the ace of the staff for the future. Kenny just made it through the 2008 season, barely beating out Iceland for the Wild Card and then losing first round to Great Britain. This is where it all went downhill. In 2009, Kenny first traded himself to St. Louis for virtually nothing and traded James Sirbeepalot to Great Britain for Dave Smith. Smith was then traded right to South Africa in exchange for, again, next to nothing. Kenny had proceeded to wreck the Dublin roster and kill their dynasty.

This was not the first time Kenny had failed in his experience as a general manager/owner. The Force that were so bad for so many years were also owned and thusly ruined by Kenny in his stint there. Once Ty Quigly took over, he was able to turn them into a successful winner and a third place team for now. Kenny ruined them and left them with basically no talent for the next GM when leaving. Now, he has left
Dublin as well with again, nothing for the next general manager to work with. He did not make an announcement of his resignation, possibly intimidated to face the horror that he had caused, possibly losing interest in the league. Whatever it is, he really hurt Dublin's present and future and left a big job in the hands of Eric Mayo.

Eric Mayo, rookie catcher for the Great Britain Redcoats, will take over for the Fighting Irish in hopes of turning them around such as Quigly did with
Frankfurt. He does not really have any players as of now, but he went on a shopping spree and signed almost every inactive free agent in the league. He hopes to use them possibly as trade bait, and maybe some of them as players for the lineup. Mayo will have to wait until at least next year to acquire his players, Eric Mayo and Enrique Gonzalez, both of Great Britain. Once he acquires them, he may have a solid start to turning the Fighting Irish around, but he will not be alone. Mayo could probably do a good job of making the Fighting Irish back into contenders fairly quickly, but he has decided that he would like some help. That is why he decided to hire co-owner and general manager, Mujuri Shipal.

Shipal, like Mayo, has no prior managerial experience, and is a novice manager for the time being. If he were to bring his two players, starting pitcher Mujuri Shipal of Montreal and left fielder Kurtis Rands of Seoul, to Dublin in the near future, those two coupled with Mayo's two players may create the nucleus of a good young team. As long as Mayo and Shipal stay active, they should be able to collaborate well enough to put good players on the roster and a good numbers of fans in the seats. Relocation has been announced for the Fighting Irish, and they have decided to redo the whole team look. They will move cities to an undisclosed area, change the team nickname, and obviously come up with a new team logo.
Dublin has not even won six games this year, so it is obvious that they do not attract many fans, and relocation seems like just the thing to change that. It's pretty hard for these two men to hurt this team more than it is now, so when some moves are put in place and relocation occurs, we could see a big turnaround in Dublin's fortune and good luck to those guys in making that dream come true.


Team Breakdown

Expansion teams, in recent years, have become the epitome of losing. These are the teams that are just brought into the league with all the proven teams and have to fight for players. It is always tough for the team in their first year or even more, because they don't have the players to compete right away. They have to scrounge up any talent they can get from players who are desperate to play and that's why expansion teams are never very successful in their first year. They have a team of misfits and players that were rejected by other teams. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays of the MLB and the Houston Texans of the NFL are two examples of failed expansion teams, and the soon to come Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA are destined for the same fate. But sometimes, you get the right combination of players that make the team great in its first year. This is a rare event in any sport or event, because to get that much talent in just one offseason is tough. But this year, two general managers have managed to do it and two expansion teams have succeeded greatly. Both of these teams are looking for their spot in the playoffs. These special teams are the Seoul Storm and the Caracas Cougars. Not many people can argue that these teams haven't had great years, but they can argue who has had a better year. That's what I'm here to do. Both of these teams are rare, but one of them has to be better. I'm going to decipher who is the better team today, using a simple fifteen-man roster for each team. First, I'm going to let you know what exactly the rosters are that I will be using.

Caracas (50-25)

CA: Dan Wade
1B: Ken Fingers
2B: Shammond Guzman
3B: Emanuel Toombs
SS: Smitty Springfield
LF: Miguel Castillo
CF: Jermaine Guzman
RF: Da Bomb
SP: Kyle Smith
SP: Josh Poole
SP: Manny Martinez
SP: Chin Hui Tsao
RP: Jake Thomas
RP: Mike Jameson, Jr.
RP: TJ Farrell

Seoul (52-23)

CA: Jesse Newcomer
1B: Shawn Baig
2B: Jerome Spann
3B: Kaitin Redcloud
SS: Quint Newcomer
LF: Kurtis Rands
CF: James Conway
RF: Sam Baig
SP: Justin Lewis
SP: Ernest Worrell
SP: Travis Torlone
SP: Jamie Cliff
RP: Eddy Rodriguez
RP: Red Switch
RP: Jimmy Whispers

Now, for the breakdown. It will go position by position, player by player, with a short analysis at the end. For reference, the lines for batters are BA/HR/RBI/OPS and for pitchers are W/L/ERA/WHIP.

Lineup

Catcher
Caracas: Dan Wade (.245/3/34/.687)
Seoul: Jesse Newcomer (.251/8/42/.676)
Both of these catchers' stats are very similar, but neither are all too impressive. Jesse Newcomer is a co-owner for the Storm, and he wishes that his player could be doing just a little bit better to help his team's cause. Dan Wade is catching for
Caracas, and he was the focal point in a bit of controversy over the All-Star Game. He was voted into the game, but it was decided that he had cheated and he was moved into a backup slot for JD Boom. Wade has only batted .245 this season, clearly not All-Star caliber and it's evident that the right choice was made. Newcomer is also batting a none-too-studly .251, just slightly above Wade. Neither of these guys has shown much power, but Jesse has the slight edge here. His eight homeruns is nothing to brag about, but it is almost triple Wade's three shots. Jesse Newcomer, batting in the middle of a solid Seoul offense, has managed to drive in forty-two runs. Wade is batting in a probably just as strong Caracas offense, but he has only driven in thirty-four runs. Wade's .687 OPS is slightly higher than Newcomer's, whose OPS is .676, because Wade has a strong ability to hit doubles. But even with a higher OPS, neither player has done very well and Jesse Newcomer gets this one by winning three out of the four categories.
Advantage: Jesse Newcomer, Seoul

First base
Caracas: Ken Fingers (.250/3/25/.607)
Seoul: Shawn Baig (.340/70/133/1.561)
This one was incredibly easy to decide, because Shawn Baig would probably beat any player in the league in a comparison like this at this point. But for argument's sake, I will continue with the breakdown for first base. Shawn Baig is Seoul's star first baseman, an he can also play second and short. Ken Fingers mans first for Caracas, and he has not done very well this year. Baig's phenomenal season could be defined by his incredible .340 batting average, but that is only where his year begins. Fingers has only batted .250 this year, almost a full one hundred points behind Baig. Baig has hit the cover off the ball, and he has managed an amazing seventy homeruns. Fingers' power numbers, as are his overall number, do not impress anyone. His homerun total stands at three homeruns. His homeruns have helped him to drive in twenty-five runs, even though he bats right after the strong hitters in Caracas' lineup. Baig's homeruns has helped him to drive in 133 runs and give him an OPS of 1.561. Wade's has been, well, less impressive, with his mediocre .607 mark. It was not really necessary to compare these two players, but I did it anyway, just to watch Baig win this one in a sweep.
Advantage: Shawn Baig, Seoul

Second base
Caracas: Shammond Guzman (.246/52/90/1.133)
Seoul: Jerome Spann (.250/6/31/.761)
Both of these players are, or were, very well-known around the league, and both were at one point close to superstars. One of them has continued that while the other is not having a great season. Shammond Guzman is also the owner of the Caracas Cougars, but he plays second for them. Jerome Spann, former San Juan/Cancun owner, plays second for
Seoul and has done a decent job. Guzman, when looking at his batting average, appears to be having a bad season, with a .246 mark. That is well below a player of his caliber, and even Spann is able to pass that up. Spann is batting .250, points ahead of Guzman's. Guzman's strength, however, lies in his power numbers. He has hit a great number of homeruns this season, and his homer count is at fifty-two and still rising. Guzman has over seventy homeruns a year ago and is looking to eclipse that this year. Spann does not have great power, however, and has only hit six homeruns while driving in thirty-one runs. Guzman's has had more success producing runs, and his RBI number shows that as it is now at ninety. Guzman's OPS is a very respectable 1.133, well above Spann's .761. Spann may have a slight edge in batting average, but Guzman destroys him elsewhere and he gets this one easily.
Advantage: Shammond Guzman,
Caracas

Third base
Caracas: Emanuel Toombs (.307/6/33/.784)
Seoul: Kaitin Redcloud (.257/4/28/.580)
Neither of these players were expected to do outstandingly well this season, but one has been a pleasant surprise while the other has stayed true to the prediction. Kaitin Redcloud starts at third base for the Storm, and he has not played stellar this year as a rookie. Emanuel Toombs holds down that same position for
Caracas, and although he has never been an amazing player himself, he is quietly having a nice year in helping Caracas try to reach the top. He has batted .307 this year while getting on base at a very solid rate. Redcloud has only been able to bat .257, decent when you look at him as a rookie but very bad when you look at him as a normal player. Neither of these players are great power hitters, with Toombs having only six homeruns and Redcloud even worse than that with his four. With small homerun numbers, you would expect few RBI and that's what you get here. Toombs has driven in thirty runs while, again, Redcloud finished second with his twenty-eight. The OPS numbers are also unimpressive because of low power numbers, but Toombs has a clear edge because of his OBP. His OPS is over two hundred points higher than Redcloud's as it stands at .784 as opposed to Redcloud's .580. So although neither of these guys are close to superstardom, Toombs has had a solid season and wins this one in a sweep.
Advantage: Emanuel Toombs,
Caracas

Shortstop
Caracas: Smitty Springfield (.332/51/81/1.372)
Seoul: Quint Newcomer (.246/14/54/.853)
The battle of star shortstops, it's hard to believe that either one of these guys is struggling, but it is true. Smitty Springfield, co-general manager of
Caracas, is playing shortstop for the Cougars this year and has, again, been nothing less than great. Quint Newcomer, also co-general manager of Seoul, is playing short for the Strom this year but ahs not seen the same success as Springfield. He has batted only .246 this year, well below his standards. Meanwhile, Springfield continues to dominate with his .332 average. Springfield has also had great power numbers while batting in the middle of Caracas' lineup, with fifty-one homeruns on the season and showing no signs of slowing down. Newcomer's struggles have stretched even into his power numbers, and he has only been able to connect with fourteen balls for homeruns. He has only driven in fifty-four runs on the year as well, again below what he can do. Springfield has been much better with his eighty-one RBI. His OPS is also a sky-high 1.372 right now, basically towering over Newcomer's .853 mark. When looking at these names, you would expect it to be much closer, but Springfield kills Newcomer and gets this one in a sweep.
Advantage: Smitty Springfield,
Caracas

Left field
Caracas: Miguel Castillo (.225/4/16/.553)
Seoul: Kurtis Rands (.272/9/31/.687)
Both of these players are rookies who do not really update, so you would not expect their stats to be very good. Well, you're right for thinking that, because neither of these players are very good. Kurtis Rands plays left field for
Seoul, and he is a rookie who is starting without ever having been updating. Miguel Castillo plays in left for Caracas, and he has barely even been heard of and is playing like it as well. He is batting a lowly .225 on the season, possibly even higher than some people would have expected. Rands has batted .272 on the season, definitely higher than basically anyone would have predicted. Castillo has only hit four homeruns this year, and you can tell that he is quite a weak player. Rands has only hit nine homeruns himself, but he is not a homerun hitter. Castillo has driven in sixteen runs on the season, pretty awful for any full time player of basically any caliber. Rands has even been able to drive in thirty-one runs himself, even as a pretty light hitter. Rands' OPS is, right now, at .687, not spectacular but pretty solid. Castillo's is only at .553, very pathetic. Rands easily sweeps Castillo and this one clearly goes to Seoul.
Advantage: Kurtis Rands,
Seoul

Center field
Caracas: Jermaine Guzman (.353/60/103/1.412)
Seoul: James Conway (.278/16/46/.824)
Both of these guys are historically solid players with great histories between them. They are good fielders and great hitters, especially from the center field slot. Jermaine Guzman has been tearing it up this year for
Caracas, and he will take on James Conway of Seoul. Conway used to be a star, but he has fallen off as of late and is now a pretty mediocre player. His batting average, at this point, is at .278, still great, but not the level that he once was at. Guzman's, however, is a godly .353 this far into the season, and he has been on fire ever since the start of the year. Conway has also lost a bit of power, and he has only managed to hit out sixteen homeruns this year for the Storm. On the other side, Guzman has, to say the least, passed sixteen homeruns, as right now he sits with sixty homeruns. He has also been able to drive in one hundred thirty-three runs, both near the top of the league for that category. Conway has managed fifty-six runs driven in, but it nothing next to Guzman. Conway has also managed an OPS of .824, again solid but not good enough. Guzman's is amazingly 1.412 as he has powered the Caracas attack. He takes this one over James Conway by a landslide, as he is a leading MVP candidate right now.
Advantage: Jermaine Guzman,
Caracas

Right field
Caracas: Da Bomb (.210/0/8/.458)
Seoul: Sam Baig (.312/47/93/1.340)
This had to be the easiest one to compare, but again, I'll do it for argumentís sake. You have one of the greatest players of all time against a first year, scarcely updated rookie, so I think you can figure out which way this one went. Sam Baig, a WBL legend, plays right field for the Storm and has not let his team down. He is a big guy who is intimidating to any pitcher, so he brings fear to the table. Da Bomb plays right field for
Caracas, and he is not very good because he is hardly ever updated. He is only batting .210 this season, not great at all, especially when compared to Sam Baig. He is batting .312, a great number considering the quality of pitching in the league. Da Bomb has not homered once this year, which is forty-seven less times than Baig has. By doing your simple math, you can deduce that Baig has..forty-seven homeruns! Bomb has driven in only eight runs all season, while Baig is driving them in like crazy with his ninety-three runs driven in. Baig's OPS is also impressive, at 1.340. Bomb's is a lowly .458, and he has only a small chance of ever becoming great. Right now, Baig clearly wins this and Baig is rightfully a contender for EH MVP at this point.
Advantage: Sam Baig,
Seoul

Rotation

Number one starter
Caracas: Kyle Smith (11/5/3.08/0.82)
Seoul: Justin Lewis (9/4/3.20/0.98)
Both of these guys are great examples of underrated aces for these two teams, as they are great pitchers having great seasons without getting much credit. Kyle Smith, second player of Smitty Springfield and therefore co-general manager of the Cougars, has had a great year as the number one starter for
Caracas. His counterpart on Seoul, Justin Lewis, is rarely talked about but produces on the baseball field. He is a leader of the team on and off the field, as is Smith with Caracas. Lewis has won nine games this year, while Smith has won eleven. Lewis has lost four games with his nine wins, while Smith has last five with his eleven wins, so neither have really amazing records. Still, they both have very low ERAs. Smith, on average is allowing just over three runs per nine innings, with an ERA of 3.08 Lewis' ERA is not as great, but it's still very good for an ace at 3.20. Smith's WHIP is very low at 0.82, quite good for really any pitcher. On Seoul's side, Lewis' WHIP is a bit more realistic at 0.98, so even though it is still great, it is not as spectacular. Kyle Smith and Justin Lewis are probably even as far as leadership skills go, but Smith has better stats for 2009 so far.
Advantage: Kyle Smith, Caracas

Number two starter
Caracas: Josh Poole (9/4/2.42/0.78)
Seoul: Ernest Worrell (12/2/2.40/0.76)
Both of these number two starters are definitely ace material when looking at their stats, but they both fill in the number two starter role in the rotation, Ernest P. Worrell won the 2008 Cy Young award, and he is definitely well on track to winning it again in 2009 for Seoul. Josh Poole started off the 2008 season with a bang as he entered the league midseason, and this year is no different except that he's doing it for the whole season for
Caracas. These two pitchers, although very different people, have almost identical pitching stats. Worrell has won twelve games on the season in contributing to Seoul's effort to make the playoffs. Poole has only won nine games, still solid and more than enough with the rotation that is surrounding him. Worrell has only picked up two losses, though, while Poole has collected four. Worrell's and Poole's ERAs are eerily similar. Worrell's is at 2.40 even right now while Poole comes in just slightly above that with his 2.42 mark. Poole's WHIP has also been great, at 0.78. But again, Worrell's is a bit lower with his 0.76 mark. So although these two guys are very close, Worrell wins it in a sweep for Seoul.
Advantage: Ernest Worrell,
Seoul

Number three starter
Caracas: Manny Martinez (12/3/2.73/0.89)
Seoul: Travis Torlone (10/9/4.27/0.96)
Neither of these two pitchers are very active anymore, but they both are great guys to have at the back of a rotation and have helped their respective teams all year long. Manny
Martinez is holding down the third spot for Caracas, and he has followed up a great season in Great Britain with another one. Travis Torlone is really on the verge of being inactive, but either way he is the third starter for Seoul. He has won a very solid ten games this year for the Storm. Martinez has topped that, though, with his more than solid twelve wins. He has also only lost three games in 2009, a very impressive number, even more so for a number three starter. Torlone does have ten wins, but he has almost as many losses with nine. You can take a guess as to why that is when you see his ERA, which is well over 4 at 4.27. Martinez has been quite dominant and his ERA shows that, because it is at 2.73. His WHIP is also very impressive with his 0.89 mark, not superstar quality but more than you would expect from a third starter. Torloneís WHIP is a bit higher, at 0.96, but still very good. Martinez is maybe one of the most underrated players in the entire WBL and he wins this one easily over Travis Torlone.
Advantage: Manny
Martinez, Caracas

Number four starter
Caracas: Chin Hui Tsao (11/8/3.19/0.94)
Seoul: Jamie Cliff (12/3/3.39/0.94)
These number four starters are both incredibly strong and both could easily be higher in the rotation if their managers decided to put them their. Chin Hui Tsao is the number four starter for
Caracas, and he is also a scout for the team along with his pitching duties. Jamie Cliff rounds out Seoul's rotation, and he has been very good this year. Cliff has won twelve games this year, which ranks among the best in the league. Tsao is a step behind in wins, with eleven, but you'll still so no complaints over Tsao's season so far. One thing you could point out, however, is Tsao's eight losses, much higher than he would like, but still not too shabby for a fourth starter. Cliff has only lost three games, again, completing his impressive record. You can tell why he has such a good record when you see his ERA, which right now stands at 3.39. Compared to most fourth starters, that is very good, but so is Tsao's his ERA is a bit lower, at 3.19. His WHIP is only at 0.94, but again, you'll hear no complaints. Cliff's WHIP is identical to Tsao, also at 0.94, so this one was tough to choose. But in the end, I have to take ERA over record so Chin Hui Tsao wins this one.
Advantage: Chin Hui Tsao, Caracas

Bullpen

Middle Reliever
Caracas: Jake Thomas (0/2/1.54/0.80)
Seoul: Eddy Rodriguez (1/1/10.00/2.11)
This is another one of those comparisons where it's blatantly clear who has the advantage, but again I will break them down for argument's sake. Jake Thomas of
Caracas has had a magnificent season so far, and he has definitely helped Caracas hold onto many leads with his pitching. Eddy Rodriguez is in that relief role for Seoul, and although he can into the league with a bit of hype, he has not played like it. Rodriguez has one win in his short stint in the big leagues so far, while Thomas has not factored much into any decisions. He has not won a game yet this year. He has lost two games, but that's not too terrible for a reliever. Rodriguez has lost one game this year, again in short duties, so he has a knack for controlling the game, whether it be good or bad. In this case, it's been mostly bad, and Rodriguez's ERA has paid for it. His earned run average is exactly 10.00 right now. Thomas, on the other hand, has dominated, and has compiled an ERA of 1.54. His WHIP is also very impressive, at 0.80. Rodriguez's WHIP is again very brutal at 2.11. So as you can see, even though Eddy Rodriguez has a small edge in record, Thomas kills him in ERA and WHIP.
Advantage: Jake Thomas,
Caracas

Setup Reliever
Caracas: Mike Jameson, Jr. (6/2/1.28/0.55)
Seoul: Red Switch (5/2/14.38/2.63)
Again, this comparison is easy to decide as one of the guys has a stat line even worse than Rodriguez's. Mike Jameson, Jr. of
Caracas has always been maybe the premier setup guy in the league, and he has done nothing less than that this year. Red Switch, who had a nice year in 2008, came back this year and just struggled. Every out is a hard one for him this year, while Jameson Jr. is making it look easy. Switch does have a good win-loss record, but that's never enough to being a good pitcher. Switch has won five games this year for Seoul. Jameson Jr., though, has even bested that, with his six victories to his credit. With those six wins, he has lost only two games for Caracas. Switch, for Seoul, has lost three with his six wins. Switch's ERA is the killer, though. Right now, it stands at an incredibly bad 14.38! Jameson Jr. has been dominant all year and his ERA is all the way down that at 1.28. His WHIP is also great, at 0.55, or just over one runner allowed on base every two innings. Switch's WHIP is not so hot, at 2.63. This one was even easier than the previous one, as Mike Jameson, Jr. takes it in a sweep.
Advantage: Mike Jameson, Jr.,
Caracas

Closer
Caracas: TJ Farrell (1/1/2.78/0.80)
Seoul: Jimmy Whispers (3/2/4.81/1.26)
This battle of the closers is thankfully a little bit closer than the other relievers, but it was still clear to me who had won it. The closers for both of these teams are both quite strong and have done well to close off game for their teams. TJ Farrell is the closer for
Caracas and although he's now inactive, he's been having a great year. Jimmy Whispers closes for Seoul and he was not expected to do well, but he has done much better. He has won three games while coming out of the bullpen for Seoul this Year. Farrell has only won one game, but that means he doesn't come into the game with a tie much. He has also lost one game for Caracas, not too shabby at all. Whispers has lost two games for Seoul to round off his good record of three wins and two losses. Whispers' ERA is not too great, though, and right now it is at 4.81. Farrell, on the other hand, has hardly allowed any runs this year and his ERA is flourishing because of it, at 2.78. His WHIP is also a very respectable 0.80, helping him to keep runs from scoring, Whispers' WHIP is 1.26, pretty bad for a reliever. Even though Whispers has the better record, his most important stats are higher than they should be and Farrell gets this one.
Advantage: TJ Farrell,
Caracas

Final Lineup Score: 4-4, tie
Final Rotation Score: 3-1,
Caracas
Final Bullpen Score: 3-0,
Caracas

Final Score: 10-5,
Caracas wins

It may be strange, but
Caracas wins this battle of the expansion teams in commanding fashion. They take ten out of the fifteen positions, with a bullpen sweep and a 3-1 victory in the rotation, A tie in the lineups gave Seoul a chance, but on paper, Caracas kills Seoul head-to-head. Caracas is a balanced team, but they get it done with their pitching. Their rotation is easily one of the best in the entire league and their bullpen is arguably the best. Their lineup gels well and they have a good combination of power and speed, mixed with some timely hitting. Seoul's rotation is also very strong, but it is closer to the middle of the pack more than Caracas'. Seoul's weak point is clearly their bullpen, with two guys having an ERA at or over 10. Their lineup also goes well together, with two bona fide superstars in the Baigs and other role players like James Conway and Jesse Newcomer. But, they are the inferior team, although being inferior to Caracas does not necessarily make you bad. Caracas and Seoul are both in second place and fighting for a playoff spot. These rosters are both amazingly strong for an expansion team, and although both teams would be underdogs in the playoffs, there is no doubt that both of them are dangerous to reel off a few games in a row and make the Championship. Caracas is clearly better, though, and since Seoul is playing with the best team in the league, I give Caracas a huge edge in the playoffs.

Final Score: 10-5,
Caracas wins
Vin's say:
Caracas by a long shot

And so ends another edition of "Your WBL Variety." Once again, I hope you enjoyed it, and as the season is beginning to reel down, this may be one of the final articles of the season. It should not be the last one, though, so I hope you had fun reading this week's and I hope you'll tune in next week to WBL Weekly. All comments are welcome to be sent into AI3Yanks84@AOL.com so until next time, this is Vin Distasio saying goodbye.