>With season twelve now past the quarter pole, it is time to take a stab at an analysis of the league’s top ten/bottom five list. The new season is full of fresh stories, none more interesting than the emergence of a new breed of elite or “Super” teams, that are dominating the current landscape. Though it is still early, he six “Supers” are all firing at close to a 70 percent winning clip. This is most unusual in one of HBDs most balanced leagues.
Not suprisingly, the early dominance of a few has meant that there are some real dogs at the bottom of the NABCL’s barrel. Some deservedly so, others whose performance runs contrary to the talent assembled on their roster. With close to 120games to go there is ample time for these bottom feeders to turn their fortunes around…so without further adieu your Top Ten/Bottom Five
1) Fargo Roughriders (34-12)
The defending World Champs havent missed a stride in the early going. The offense has no peer in the NABCL as it averages a shade more than 7 runs per game. Former AL MVP Rudy Simms is off to a terrific start with 14 bombs, 42 rbi, and a sick .466 obp. The pitching doesnt get the ink that the hitting does but its results are equally impressive – a league low 179 runs allowed. The wily 40 year old Felipe Matos is off to another wonderful start (6-2) and the ‘pen has been exceptional when needed. The Roughriders will win the NL East and will have ample opportunity to prepare for the playoffs. A repeat could very well be in order. Super Hero Comparison – SUPERMAN. Odds to win title: EVEN
2) San Antonio Missons (33-15)
Frazzman has quietly (unlike his rivals in Chicago and Sacramento) put together one of the premier organzations in the NABCL. Built to take advantage of a pitchers paradise at Nelson Wolff Municipal, the Missons consistently rank among the leagues best in pitching and fielding. Season 12 is no different as the Missons rank second in WHIP, sixth in ERA, and first in OAV allowed; Byung Hyun Li is the odds on favorite to unseat Lenny Singleton for the NL CY. The offense is steady if unspectacular and fueled by two young stars in Doug Wood and Milt Brock. Despite their torrid start, San Antonio is being pushed by Divisional rival Louisville (huh?). That’s probably bad news for the NL as the Missons will be battle ready come the playoffs. Super Hero Comparison – SPIDERMAN. Odds to win title: 2.5 to 1.
3) Sacramento Terrible Twos (30-18)
The petulant owner/manager of the Twos is nothing if not consistent. Once again, the Twos are fast out of the gate leaving divisional rivals Portand and Boise to turn their attention to a Wild Card berth. Sac’s pitching is always good; Fausto Bennett just copped the league’s Pitcher of the Week Award. The offense has been a bit pedestrian save for Dave Glaus’ 17 home runs and 48 rbi. As many may know, Sacramento is working on eight straight divisonal titles and nothing suggests that nine isnt in the offing. However, Chicago’s recent three game sweep at Sac-town had to give X pause. That can only mean a blockbuster is in the offing. Super Hero Comparison – WONDER WOMAN (couldnt resist). Odds to win title: 5 to 1.
4) Chicago Beast (34-13)
Owners of the NL’s best record to date and currently riding an impressive nine game winning streak, the Beast early rise has nothing to do with its impressive array of offense and everything to do with its pitching. The starters are 19-9 and led by young gun Phillip Fischer (6-1, 2.04 era). Rickey Vance is 15 for 18 in save opps so the backend is good for now. As to the offense, it just hasnt fired like it has in the past. Sure BC Parent has 19 and 45; Julian Pena 15 and 47; but Suzuki-san and Little Steven Wilson havent got untracked yet. Like Fargo the division is all but finished so the Bullet will have time to work out a plan for the playoffs. But he might just be the worst playoff manager in all of HBD. Super Hero Comparison – BATMAN. Odds to win title: 6 to 1.
5) Anahiem Natural Disasters (30-18)
Like San Antonio, Zack has quietly built a powerhouse in Anaheim. The Natural Disasters are stacked everywhere you look – great bats, great gloves, terrific pitching. However, like Chicago, they have been miserable in the playoffs having not advanced past the DCS in four consecutive playoff bids. We like this addition as the array of young talent has to click at some point. D’Angelo Ramirez is a monster; Jude Lindsey has the stuff of an excellent young set-up guy. We dont like Redding at the end (take a look at his career numbers) but Zack will find a way to make it work. Super Hero Comparison – CAPTAIN AMERICA. Odds to win title: 3-1
6) Louisville Legionnaires (30-17)
When your year-end win totals for the last six years are 67, 57, 72, 63, 52, and 75 you have to be a bit lightheaded with THIRTY wins at the quarterpole. And perhaps that is mlhutch’s problem as he just complained about ihis team’s performance in the league chat. The Legionnaires are the last of the early “Supers” and they are fueled by one thing and one thing only: a terrific offense. Bob Jenkins has finally lived up to some of his promise, Colin and Davenport (stolen from Toronto) have been terrific. We like their pitching better than its current results but it is not dominant by any stretch. They will hang in the race for a Wild Card but we dont see them anywhere close to the Missons at the end. Super Hero Comparison – THE FLASH. Odds to win title: 25 to 1.
7) Wichita Weed (32-16)
We refuse to analyze the ‘weed until we hear from oldave and an explanation about his minor league machinations. Super Hero Comparison – NONE; Odds to win title – N/A
8) Iowa City Shuckers (28-19)/Jacksonville Jackals (29-18)
We couldnt find anyway to separate these two so the divisional rivals will be the first dual entry in our countdown. We like the makeup of both of these squads and would suggest that good things are on the horizon for both. The Jackals got off to a slow start for this NABCL powerhouse. Jose has been trying to find a way to infuse some much needed younger talent onto the roster. The offense has been surprisingly quiet for a Jackal squad. As to the Shuckers, there is a lot to like (Gonzales, Valdes, Herges, etc…) but for now we are going to focus on finances as the Shuckers have really mucked up their flexibility by poor budgeting. Early leader for Bernie Madoff award is Sportznut…Super Hero Comparison – Iowa INCREDIBLE HULK; Odds to win title 25 to 1; Super Hero Comparison Jacksonville: GREEN LANTERN. Odds to win title 16 to 1.
10) Richmond Poor Men (26-22)
Could have gone to Charlotte or Trenton to fill this slot but there is more to like in Richmond. Richmond hails from the same divison as Iowa and Jacksonville so the AL South is easily our pick for the league’s most competitive divison (El Paso isnt shabby either). Richmond’s offense has been very good led by the reliable John Barkley. But the pitching hasnt been up to snuff and it looks like the Poor Men miss longtime ace and team poet Hamlet Mercedes, who posted 135 wins in a Richmond uniform. Pitching will need to improve to battle Iowa and Jax. Super Hero Comparison – AQUAMAN. Odds to win title 50-1.
28 – Pawtucket Patriots (21-27)
Though the record isnt deserving of a bottom five placement, we add Pawtucket to this list as our most disappointing team to date (Charlotte was a close second). Fletchkid has assembled a terrific, if precious, roster of talent and for whatever reason they arent playing loose and easy in the early going. This team can and should win its division by ten games.
29 – New Orleans Crawdads (19-29)
Not a lot to love in the Big Easy. This team has the look and smell of Hurricane Katrina four years later. There are some attractive parts on the ML roster that we would expect to be moved to improve the organzation.
30 – Las Vegas Devils (15-32)
Drutes has a rebuild on his hands from top to bottom. He has some talent in the minors but needs more. His big problem is that his best players carry huge contracts that will take a lot for other teams to absorb (see Anton Burks at 13MM)
31 – Toronto Flare (13-35)
This team really should garner the 32nd ranking because it does have talent. We cant figure out keith,here, as we regard him as a very good owner. But the Flare havent been very good in the NABCL for a long time. I am sure there is a plan just cant see it right now.
32 – Washington Federals (10-37)
Ouch! We never thought this team was a world beater but it is just two years removed from a LCS berth so we certainly expect more. AI setting has to hurt Shal alot at the ML level and we strongly advise him to take control. Oddly Washington is only 11.5 out in the horrid AL East, so some improvements could get this club to the postseason (did I just say that?)