Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Prep Baseball Update 2015: Maryland State Champs, Northern VA District Champs crowned

leave a comment

When we last checked in with Prep Baseball in Mid May,  Maryland was through its regionals, the private schools were mostly done, DC was still finishing the regular season, and Virginia was just starting up its District (aka “Conference”) tournaments.  Lets see where we stand now after the Memorial Day weekend and a slew of tournament results.

Text in Red are pending results, mostly from the southern Virginia districts and regionals, which don’t have to start as soon as Northern Virginia tourneys.


Virginia

Here are the Virginia Conference champions, regular season and tournament.  All these playoff brackets, if they exist, are at this link at VHSL.  I won’t re-link all the playoff brackets per district/region below.

6-A North Region

  • 6-A Conference 5/Concorde: Chantilly regular season champ.  Seeds held to form in the district tourney and Chantilly met Oakton in the district final.  Chantilly beat Oakton 2-1 to take the district title.
  • 6-A Conference 6/Liberty: McLean regular season champ.  #5 seed Fairfax upset McLean to make the District final, where they met Madison.  In the district final, Madison avenged an earlier loss to Fairfax to win 2-0 at home to take the title.
  • 6-A Conference 7/Potomac: Lake Braddock regular season champ.  #2 and #3 seeds Annandale and West Potomac were both upset and knocked out of Regional competition.  Lake Braddock met #6 seed South County in the district final and beat them easily 12-4 to win the title.
  • 6-A Conference 8/Cedar Run: Patriot regular season champ.  Battlefield had to forfeit its semi-final win over pitcher innings/pitch count limits, so Osbourn Park made the district final, where it subsequently beat Patriot in extras to win an unlikely district title.  Battlefield’s forfeit was absurd; their starter Jake Agnos struck out 21 *straight batters* in the 6-1 victory … and then resulted in a forfeit loss.  Agnos gave up a lead-off homer … and then retired the next 21 guys he faced.  I’ve never heard of such a feat.

6-A North Regional Qualifiers (in seed order).  Here’s the 6-A North bracket.  Play begins 5/29/15.

  • Conference 5/Concorde: Chantilly, Oakton, Herndon, Centreville
  • Conference 6/Liberty: Madison, Fairfax, McLean, South Lakes
  • Conference 7/Potomac: Lake Braddock, South County, West Springfield, TC Williams
  • Conference 8/Cedar Run: Patriot, Osborne Park, Battlefield, Stonewall Jackson

Quick predictions for 6-A North regional tourney: I like Madison, Oakton, Patriot and Battlefield, since they were basically the best 6-A teams all year.  But do not count out Chantilly or McLean.  Thanks to their district forfeit, Battlefield drops to a #3 regional seed and a headache for a higher seeded team.  And McLean’s upset loss dumps them to a #3 seed as well in the region, despite besting perhaps the best 6-A baseball district in the regular season.  With the draws out, Battlefield faces Oakton in the first round, which is tough.  If seeds hold it’ll be Lake Braddock-Madison and Patriot-Chantilly in the regional semis.

6-A South Region: which is mostly big-time schools in Richmond, Roanoke and Virginia Beach area.  But there are just enough schools in Woodbridge proper to form a 6-A conference closer to DC with teams that are typically considered for All-Met rankings.  Because 6-A’s regional is only 8 teams, their district tournaments are not yet complete as of the time of this posting.

  • 6-A Conference 1/Coastal: First Colonial (aka Mark Reynolds‘ alma mater) regular season champs.  They were upset in the districts but still qualify for the regionals.  In the district final, Ocean Lakes took out Cox for the district title.
  • 6-A Conference 2/Monitor Merrimac: Western Branch regular season champ.
  • 6-A Conference 3: Franklin County (Rocky Mount, south of Roanoke) regular season champ.
  • 6-A Conference 4: Forest Park (Woodbridge) regular season champ.

6-A South Regional Qualifiers:

  • 6-A Conference 1/Coastal:  First Colonial, ? second team
  • 6-A Conference 2/Monitor Merrimac: Western Branch, ? second team
  • 6-A Conference 3: ?, ? regional qualificants.
  • 6-A Conference 4: ?, ? regional qualificants.

Quick predictions for 6-A South regional tourney: Western Branch is the only team in the state getting national attention, and they’re ranked #1 in the Hampton paper’s local rankings.  So I look for them to claw their way to the state tournament.


5-A North Region

  • 5-A Conference 13/Capitol: Marshall regular season champ.  Seeds held to form (with Marshall beating Lee by the astounding score of 21-0 in the district semis), and Marshall met Edison in the final.  In that final Marshall beat Edison 4-1 for its 10th straight win.
  • 5-A Conference 14: Stone Bridge (Ashburn) regular season champ.  In the playoffs, 1/2 met in the final and Stone Bridge beat Broad Run for the district title.  In the 3rd place game, Briar Woods grabbed the 3rd regional bid.
  • 5-A Conference 15: Mountain View (Stafford) regular season champ.  In the playoffs Mountain View and Potomac (Dumfries) met in the finals, where Mountain View pulverized them 10-0.  In the 3rd place game, North Stafford easily grabbed the 3rd regional bid.
  • 5-A Conference 16: Halifax County regular season champ.  They met #2 seed Patrick Henry in the final and Patrick Henry upset Halifax for the district title.

5-A North Regional Qualifiers (in seed order): 5-A North regional bracket here.  Play begins on 5/29/15.

  • Conference 13/Capitol: Marshall, Edison, Stuart, Lee
  • Conference 14: Stone Bridge, Broad Run, Briar Woods
  • Conference 15: Mountain View, Potomac, North Stafford
  • Conference 16: Patrick Henry, Halifax County

Quick predictions for 5-A North regional tourney: I like Stone Bridge to repeat, Marshall could be a challenger.  They are on opposite sides of the draw and could both make the regional final.  But non-DC area teams like Patrick Henry and Mountain View could be challengers.

5-A South Region

  • 5-A Conference 9/Atlantic: Kellam (in Virginia Beach, aka Ryan Zimmerman‘s alma mater) regular season champ.
  • 5-A Conference 10/PenSouth: Hickory (Chesapeake) regular season champ (also defending 5-A state champ).  Hickory advanced to the district final along with Menchville, who upset 2nd seeded Great Bridge.
  • 5-A Conference 11: Deep Run (Glen Allen/Northern Richmond suburb) regular season champ (Freeman, last year’s 5-A state finalist, was 2nd in the district).
  • 5-A Conference 12: Manchester (Midlothian/Southern Richmond suburb) regular season champ.

5-A South Regional Qualifiers (in seed order):

  • Conference 9/Atlantic: Kellam, ? second team
  • Conference 10/PenSouth: Hickory & Menchville
  • Conference 11: ?, ? regional qualificants.
  • Conference 12: ?, ? regional qualificants.

 


Smaller Virginia Classifications with Northern Virginia ties.

4-A North:

  • 4-A conference 21: Woodgrove regular season champ.   Woodgrove also won the tourney, beating Sherando in the district final (both teams move to the 4-A North Regional).
  • 4-A Conference 22: Fauquier regular season champ.

3-A East Region

  • 3-A Conference 27: Kettle Run regular season champ, Culpepper #2.
  • 3-A Conference 28: Loudoun Valley (regularly in the AllMet top 10 rankings) regular season champ.

2-A East Region

  • 2-A Conference 35: Strasburg continues its local dominance, winning the district again.  Falls Church’s George Mason (easily the smallest public high school in the Northern Virginia suburbs) was the #3 district seed but advanced to the district finals to face Strasburg.

 


Maryland

Here’s the state finals results in Maryland, played the week of 5/18/15  Brackets here at the MPSAA website.

  • 4-A States: State Semis were Perry Hall v Severna Park, Gaithersburg-Wise.  Severna Park and Gaithersburg each dominated their state semi to force a high-powered showdown of good teams in the 4-A final.  In that final, Gaithersburg beat Severna Park 5-3 at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen for its first ever state baseball title.
  • 3-A States: State semi finalists were North Harford (Plyville in North Maryland), Mt. Hebron in Ellicott City, Chopticon (way down in St. Mary’s county) and Urbana (just south of Frederick).  In the state-semis, Mt. Hebron and Chopticon won close games to make the final.  In the final, Chopticon’s ace Ljay Newsome threw a complete game 1-hitter with 17 strikeouts to win the title 1-0.
  • 2-A States: State semi finalists: Eastern Tech, Patterson Mill, South Carroll and last  year’s champ Southern.  Eastern Tech and Southern each won 1-run games to make the 2-A final.  In the final, Southern beat Eastern Tech 6-1 to repeat as 2-A champs.
  • 1-A States: State semi finalists: McDonough, Colonel Richardson, Douglass and Brunswick make up this year’s 1-A state semis (mostly smaller schools outside the DC area).  In the state semis, McDonough will face off against the tough-looking Brunswick team.  Brunswick won the title 4-0.

A quick list of past Maryland State champions by division:

The Maryland public high school seasons are now complete.


DC Public Schools/DCIAA:


Private Leagues: WCAC/MAC/IAC and VISAA/Maryland Private

Most private schools’ seasons are now complete.

Speaking of Liberty Christian … apparently the school had an open lawsuit against the Virginia High School League (VHSL) regarding membership, and the VHSL settled on 5/20/15.  The implication?  Quoting the link, “all non-boarding private schools in Virginia will be permitted to apply for membership in the VHSL.”   Liberty Christian Academy will now join the 4-A conference 23 (which covers the Lynchburg and Charlottesville area) and can compete for state titles in all sports.

I wonder if this ruling will lead to the various private schools in the Northern Virginia Area (including typical sports powerhouses such as Paul VI, O’Connell, Flint Hill, Bishop Ireton, etc) leaving the WCAC and joining the public schools.  I doubt it frankly; even the largest of these schools would be dwarfed by the 5-A and 6-A enrollment public high schools, and the WCAC is a fantastic league.  InsideNova had a piece on the topic quoting several area ADs of private schools (including Paul VI’s Billy Emerson, a class-mate and longtime teammate of mine), who think perhaps this ruling makes it easier for teams to schedule public opponents … but doubts any league changes will occur with DC-area teams thanks to the strength of the private school leagues here.


Local and National High School Baseball Ranking Lists:

  • Washington Post All Met Sports latest Baseball top 10: ?? date: Spalding, Gaithersburg 1-2, then Oakton, Madison, and Battlefield.  Stone Bridge 8th despite a win over Madison in Vienna.
  • Baltimore Sun Rankings page : dated 5/25/15: They also have Spalding #1, then Calvert Hall, St. Marys, 4-A finalist Severna Park and then 3-A finalist Mt. Hebron.  Reservoir 6th.
  • Hampton Roads Baseball top 10 page: dated 5/19/15: Western Branch #1, then Grassfield & Hickory.
  • Baseball America’s High School top 25 (most recent ranking 5/5/15): no DC/MD/VA teams listed.
  • USA Today High School top 25 (most recent ranking 5/20/15): Western Branch closest to top-25, ranked 26th.  Spalding (both Washington Post’s and Baltimore Sun’s #1 team) ranked 42nd nationally.
  • USA Today’s Virginia-only rankings: no longer seem to be in existence.
  • MaxPreps top 25/top 50 lists, which has a hand-picked and a computer/power ranking list.  5/24/15 rankings.  No DC/MD/VA teams in MaxPrep’s “Excellent 50.”  Highest ranked teams in the area are Liberty Christina (#55), Western Branch (#67), Turner Ashby (#72).  Chopticon and Spalding are in the 75-100 range.

Resources:

  • Washington Post’s AllMetSports section with standings and schedule results.
  • InsideNova.com‘s coverage of high school sports, but has put limits on the number of stories you can read.
  • The Connection family of newspapers has a sports section that is rarely updated, but it does do some coverage.
  • MaxPreps.com also has some non-paywall HS information that comes in handy too.
  • Nvdaily.com (Strasburg) has some results for some of the teams in the smaller conferences/outskirts of DC, generally in the Strasburg area.
  • WinchesterStar (Winchester) has results for Winchester teams but its pay-only.
  • The Daily Progress (Culpeper local paper) also has some scores for schools in its areas.
  • Fredericksburg.com has some local coverage of Fredericksburg and Woodbridge teams.
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch has a HS scoreboard.
  • Hampton Roads Pilot (Hampton Roads) has scores for teams in the Chesapeake/Norfolk/Va Beach area.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s high school page has information on some of the programs outside the DC area mentioned in the Maryland section
  • I use perfectgame.org to look up high-end HS prospects.
  • VHSL’s and MPSSAA home pages for playoff brackets and updates for VA and MD respectively.

 

Written by Todd Boss

May 28th, 2015 at 9:04 am

2015 CWS Field of 64 announced; teams and analysis

leave a comment

CWS 2014 logo

Soon after the conference tourneys finished up, the field of 64 was announced.  Earlier this week we reviewed the college season for all DC local teams; now lets talk about the field of 64.

This post at d1baseball.com has a great amount of information.  Here’s your top 16 seeds (each a regional host).

  1. UCLA (42-14); Pac-12 regular season champ (no post-season tourney)
  2. LSU (48-10); SEC Western Division regular season champ
  3. Louisville (43-16): ACC Atlantic Division regular season champ
  4. Florida (44-16): 2nd place, SEC Eastern division, SEC tourney champs
  5. Miami (Florida) (44-14): ACC Coastal Division regular season champ
  6. Illinois (47-8-1); Big10 regular season champ (21-1 in conference record),
  7. TCU (43-11): Big12 regular season champion
  8. Missouri State (45-10): MVC regular season and tourney champs.
  9. Oklahoma State
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Vanderbilt
  12. Dallas Baptist
  13. Florida State
  14. Cal-State Fullerton
  15. Houston
  16. UC Santa Barbara

Top8 thoughts:  in no particular order

  • I don’t think UCLA is better than the handful of teams ranked below it.  They played just 8 games against top 25 teams all year and went 4-4 in them.  Teams from the SEC and the Big12 played twice as many quality games and had far better records.
  • For my money, I would have picked one of the SEC teams, likely LSU, as my #1.  And I would have had the other (Florida) as #2.
  • Louisville seems about where they should be … and were given a very, very easy regional.
  • I don’t know what to think of Miami or Dallas Baptist (the top two teams by RPI most of the year).  Miami’s ACC division was weak but Miami played a very tough schedule.  Are they under seeded or over seeded?  Either way, Miami was given a very easy regional and these two RPI wonders (if seeds hold) are set to meet in the super-regional.
  • Illinois will be quickly exposed despite their lofty record (Strength of schedule: 175!).  They have a sneaky #2 seed in Notre Dame in their regional for an interesting geographical matchup.
  • Missouri State is a good story, but unlike their basketball breatheren I think MVC’s participants will also get exposed.

Seeds 9-16: still regional hosts but will travel if the higher seed wins.

  • TAMU is a heck of a good team; i’d favor them over Missouri State in a super regional.
  • Florida State played the 6th hardest schedule and had a 10-6 record against top 25 teams; and they’re just#13 overall?   And, to add insult to injury they have to travel to arch rival Florida in a super-regional to advance?  Wow.  Someone at Florida State must have pissed off a committee member.  That being said, pundits seem to think Florida State is chronically over-rated (as are teams like Rice and Cal State Fullerton), so perhaps 13 seed is good.
  • Houston’s regional is a fun one: three teams within Houston city limits.
  • Is UC Santa Barbara more than just Dillon Tate?  We’ll find out.
  • Lots of griping about the selection of UC Santa Barbara as a “host.”  Instead of playing on-campus, they’re hosting 3 hours away at the Lake Elsinore stadium (host of the Padres’ high-A affiliate).  Lots of people asking why not name College of Charleston as the host and then have UVA and Maryland be its 2/3 seeds, instead of forcing the two east coast teams to fly across the country?

Local teams and teams of interest in the draw with comments:

  • Maryland, a #3 seed, travels to Los Angeles to be in the #1 seed’s division.  Tough draw for them.  But probably appropriate seeding.  Pundits think Maryland was one of the last teams in.
  • UVA, also gets a #3 seed and has to travel to Santa Barbara.  UVA is not a #3 seed; they had worked their way back to the fringes of the top 25 by season’s end, and in RPI they finished #21.  That’s the upper end of the #2 seeds, not a #3 seed who is forced to travel 3,000 miles.  Now that being said, they get a very winnable regional.  UC Santa Barbara may only have one arm and USC is about even with UVA.
  • College of Charleston (and Ashburn’s Taylor Clarke) get a #2 seed (well deserved; they were almost a  host) but have to go to Florida State (tough).  See commentary above.
  • VCU heads to Dallas for Dallas Baptist’s regional, which also has traditional powerhouse Texas thrown in as a #3 seed.  Ouch.
  • Radford gets a #2 seed (??) but heads to Vanderbilt’s regional, who I have as a dark horse to make the CWS.
  • UNC got screwed; probably the last team out.  Ask yourself; do you think UNC loses to Maryland in a three-game neutral site series?  Yeah, I don’t think so either.  RPI of 28 and left out; that’s apparently the 2nd highest RPI of a team left out in a decade.  7th hardest schedule.  But if you look at the ACC standings … every team that finished with a .500 or better conference record made the field, and every other team did not.  UNC’s conference record?  13-16.  If they don’t get swept in their last two conference seasons, they’re in the field.

Predictions?

  • Of the top 8 hosts, I don’t see many upsets.  I could see Notre Dame taking out #6 Illinois.  I could see NC State giving #7 TCU issues.  I’d also say that Missouri State is in trouble .. but their 2/3 seeds don’t seem to scare anyone (Iowa and Oregon).
  • Of the 9-16 seeds, I can see Cal State Fullerton getting into trouble, and I could see a scenario where practically anyone could come out of the Santa Barbara regional.  I’m not sure I think Dallas Baptist is good enough to beat two power-houses in Oregon State and Texas.

 

Written by Todd Boss

May 27th, 2015 at 9:03 am

Posted in College/CWS

Tagged with ,

College Baseball Regular Season wrap-up; local team season summaries

leave a comment

Our first 2015 College Baseball post.  All the Division 1 conference tournaments wrapped up over the memorial day weekend, so lets wrap up how our local teams did.  We’re writing this post ahead of the regional seedings and the CWS field of 64 announcement.

We depend on d1baseball.com primarily for coverage of Division 1 Baseball.  Other useful sites include Warren Nolan’s college baseball RPIs and BaseballAmerica’s college coverage.


ACC (local interests: UVA, Virginia Tech).

UVA had a tough season; it started the season ranked in the top 3 by most charts after finishing as national runner-up last year.  Then they lost their best hitter (Joe McCarthy) for half the season, and then lost their ace (Nathan Kirby) for the second half.  They swept UVA in their final series of the season to salvage a .500 league record, good enough for 2nd place in their division but not enough to avoid the play-in game.  They won the play-in to make the ACC tournament, but went 0-3 in pool play.  They are on the outskirts of the top 25 and will make the CWS field, but will not host a regional.    Lots of well-known names to this blog and the Virginia area contributed for UVA this season: here’s a link to their season stats.  UVA finishes with a 34-22 (15-15) record.

Virginia Tech finished just a couple of games behind UVA in the standings, but were no where near the quality.  They were eliminated by UNC in the play-in game.  Final record: 27-27 (13-16).

Of note in the ACC this year to local fans: Stone Bridge alum J.B. Bukauskas was 5-3 with a 4.09 ERA for UNC this year.  He was a weekend starter as a freshman, led the team in starts, got their only win in the ACC tournament, and was named to the All-ACC freshman team.  Duke Ace, Georgetown Prep alum and Great Falls resident Mike Matuella went from being talked as a 1-1 pick to undergoing Tommy John surgery.  Draft pundits still give him a shot of going in the back end of the first round in the draft.  Nats 2014 2nd round pick Andrew Suarez went back to Miami and served as Miami’s saturday starter, going 6-1 with a 3.09 ERA for the nation’s top ranked team by RPI.  Suarez likely hasn’t improved his draft stock that much, still projected as a 2nd rounder.


Atlantic-10 (Local interests George Mason, George Washington, Richmond and VCU)

The A-10 tournament, unbeknownst to me until I looked it up for this post, was at Barcroft field in Arlington.  Grr.  GW’s home field.  I certainly would have made an effort to go had I known.  Anyway; GWU hung on as the #6 seed until the semis.   Richmond was the #3 seed and was eliminated early by GW.  VCU as the #5 seed eventually won the A-10, battering their way through conference rivals.  GMU finished just outside the qualification rankings to make the post-season conference tournament.


Big South (Local interests: VA schools Liberty, Radford, and Longwood)

Longwood was the #8 seed, losing early in the post-season tournament.  Liberty was the #4 seed and was eliminated by Longwood.    However Radford entered the tourney as the #1 seed and outlasted several very good baseball programs to win the tournament and clinch their first ever CWS appearance.


Big-10: (Local interest: Maryland)

Does it sound weird to talk about how Maryland makes the Big-10 conference tournament a “local” tournament?   Maryland made the final as the #3 seed before falling to the upset-minded Michigan team.


Big East (local interest: Georgetown)

Georgetown went 2 and out as the #4 seed in the Big East tourney.


Colonial Athletic Association (local interests: JMU, William & Mary and Towson)

Towson and JMU both had down years and didn’t qualify for the post-season tournament.  W&M did, but were 2- and out as the #6 seed.  The CAA came down to 1-2, with 2nd seeded UNC-Wilmington beating #1 seed College of Charleston.

Of note, College of Charleston was ranked most of the year and was led on the hill by friday ace starter Taylor Clarke.  Clarke was 13-1 with a 1.34ERA on the season.  Clarke hails from Ashburn and went to Broad Run and then Towson before transferring to CofC and becoming a star.


Conference USA: Local team Old Dominion

ODU was the #7 seed in the C-USA tourney and went 2-and out.


MEAC:  (Local teams UMES and Norfolk State):

Both teams made the post-season but did not factor in the final.


Patriot: (local interest: Navy)

Navy entered the post-season tourney as the #1 seed but lost in the final to #2 seed Lehigh.

The big news for Navy this year is the matriculation of a Navy grad to the majors for the first time in nearly a century.  RHP Mitch Harris also has some very personal ties: he played for the Fairfax Nationals in the (now defunct) Clark Griffith summer wood-bat league and was housed by none other than my father for the summer.

SoCon (local interest: VMI)

VMI fought hard as the #4 seed, losing in the tourney semis.


Other local players of interest: Madison alum Andy McGuire and his Texas team had to win the Big-12 tournament to get into the CWS, and they did.  McGuire went to Texas as a SS/3B but now is in the bullpen for the Longhorns.


The College World Series field of 64 will be announced just after the Memorial day weekend, upon the completion of all the college tournaments.  We’ll post again with the matchups and some quickie predictions.

 

Written by Todd Boss

May 25th, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Ryan Zimmerman; Mr. Walkoff hits his 10th

14 comments

 

Zimmerman gets soaked on his 10th career walkoff.  Photo via mlb.com

Zimmerman gets soaked on his 10th career walkoff. Photo via mlb.com

When we last checked in on Ryan Zimmerman, aka Mr. Walkoff, it was July 2013 and he had just hit his 9th career such homer.

Well, last night he hit another.  His 10th career walk-off, an excuse-me shot down the RF line that bounced off the flag-pole and won a fun back-and-forth game against the visiting Yankees 8-6.  Here’s his career homer log via baseball-reference.

Last night’s shot wasn’t in his pantheon of great walk-offs: i’ll put these as his best:

  • The game-winner in the Nats Stadium opener in April 2008, salvaging a blown save in the top of the 9th.
  • A 2-run walk-off against Chien-Ming Wang on Fathers Day 2006 against the Yankees, a game in which the team set its long-running regular season attendance record.

But walk-offs are always awesome to watch, whether you’re at home or elsewhere.

Thanks to this SI.com article by Jay Jaffe, which did the baseball-reference.com play-index work for us, we know that Zimmerman is now tied for 10th all time in walkoffs.  The current active leaders in walk-offs are two noteworthy names; David Ortiz connected for his 11th and most recent walk-off homer on 6/6/13, as detailed by Billy-Ball.com.  Albert Pujols either has 10 or 11, depending on if you believe his homer log (which has him at 10) or B-R’s play finder, which says 11.  Since B-R itself says the Play Index data is more up-to-date, I’ll go with 11.

Jim Thome hit his 13th in June of 2012 to take over the career lead just before he retired and is the all-time leader.  Just behind Thome, tied for 2nd all-time, is this quintet of Hall-of-Famers: Jimmy Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial and Frank Robinson.

That’s quite heady company; every name I’ve mentioned here is either a Hall-of-Famer or should be.

Being that Ortiz is nearly done, and Pujols is on the decline, and Zimmerman is just 30 and may have another decade in him, it seems like a safe bet that Zimmerman will eventually be the all-time walk-off leader.   Heck, he already had seven through is first 5 pro seasons.  We’ll keep track every time he hits one for sure.

Other links on the topic from the blogosphere:

Quick recap of all 10:

1. Home vs Yankees, off of Chien-Ming Wang (Fathers day 2006)
2. Home vs Marlins, off of Joe Borowski
3. Home vs Marlins, off of Jorge Julio (Mother’s day 2007)
4. Home vs Braves, off of Peter Moylan (opening day 2008)
5. Home vs Marlins, off of Leo Nunez
6. Home vs Padres, off of Luke Gregerson
7. Home vs Phillies, off of Brad Lidge (7/31/10)
8. Home vs Phillies, off of Ryan Madsen (8/19/11)
9. Home vs Mets, off of LaTroy Hawkins
10. Home vs Yankees, off of Andrew Miller (his first runs allowed of the year).

Written by Todd Boss

May 20th, 2015 at 9:45 am

Odd Difo promotion

25 comments

Welcome the majors Mr. Difo!  photo via offtherecordsports.com

Welcome the majors Mr. Difo! photo via offtherecordsports.com

So, Jayson Werth‘s wrist injury is going to keep him out longer than expected, so he hit the 15 day D/L and to cover his spot the Nats called up one of their two remaining outfielders on the 40-man roster, right?  You know, maybe Matt den Dekker, who was acquired in the late spring specifically to provide OF depth and who has MLB experience?

Nope.

They called up infielder prospect Wilmer Difo, he of exactly 33 games of experience above Low-A ball.  Difo, who last time I checked is NOT an outfielder.

Dave Cameron at Fangraphs also questioned this move, pointing out all the things i’d point out.  What exactly is Difo going to do on this team?  Are they planning on dumping Dan Uggla so that Difo becomes the backup utility infielder who can actually play shortstop?  I mean, I get that the team was already pretty over-loaded on outfielders (3 starters plus Moore, Robinson AND Taylor), so perhaps this move is to (finally?) rectify that imbalance.

Maybe the team just realized its 27th in the league in SBs and wanted some speed.

On another note, is it just me or is this team kind of running out of players?  Here’s how the 40-man roster breaks down right now:

  • 25 active
  • 6 on the 15 day D/L (Janssen, McLouth, Rendon, Rivero, Fister and Werth)
  • Another 2 on the 15-day D/L who should be on the 60-day, them having long-term injuries (Stammen and Johnson)

That leaves just seven 40-man players in the minors who could actually help the team.

  • Starters Hill and Jordan:
  • Relivers Martin and Davis, who was just optioned off the D/L for the first time in a year thanks to TJ recovery
  • Backup catcher Butler
  • Outfileders den Dekker and Brian Goodwin.

That’s it.  Has anyone heard one word about Nate McLouth?  That was $10M well spent.  At least Janssen is rehabbing and seems close.  Me, i’d be a bit worried about reliever depth.  Or not; it doesn’t seem to be exactly hurting them, as Bryce Harper powers the team into 1st place.

 

DC/MD/VA District High School Tournament Report: 2015 post-season

leave a comment

Here’s my first cut through tracking the various local high school baseball tournaments.  As we learned in 2014, Maryland and Virginia’s schedules are quite off from each other, with Maryland’s state tournament starting before Virginia’s public high schools even finish their regular seasons, but we’ll keep track the best we can.  Here’s 2014’s final prep wrap-up post, with all the various winners noted.

As the Maryland playoffs kicked in, there was an interesting WashPost article about how to setup your pitching for the playoffs.  Ironically, one of the main teams mentioned (Reservoir) was upset in the Maryland playoffs, perhaps due to their rotation choices.  Personal connection useless tidbit; the Chantilly coach (Kevin Ford) was a long-time local Vienna player and we played with him and his brother (Jeff Ford) all growing up.

Lets get to it.


Northern Virginia

Virginal district tournaments get started last weekend and most are scheduled to finish this week.  The VHSL site has some district brackets already published.  Here’s a preview of the district tournaments for local conferences with the leading contenders.

The top four teams from each district tourney form the 16-team regional brackets, to be published later on once all the divisions are finalized.

  • 6-A Conference 5/Concorde: Oakton and Chantilly are the 1/2 seeds, and Oakton has to be a favorite for the 6-A North regional title.
  • 6-A Conference 6/Liberty: McLean and Madison are 1/2 seeds, playing semis on 5/19/15.  Madison lost out to McLean for the district title but may be a co-regional favorite with Oakton.
  • 6-A Conference 7/Potomac: South County & Lake Braddock perennial favorites.
  • 6-A Conference 8/ Cedar Run: Rivals Patriot and Battlefield are 1/2 seeds and have already played three times this year.  Both should challenge for the regional title, but I suspect they’re slightly behind the Oaktons and Madisons this year.

I’d love to see an all-Vienna regional final, but teams like Chantilly, Battlfield and McLean could be pesky.

In the 5-A division:

  • 5-A Conference 13/Capitol: Marshall and Edison are the 1/2 seeds, as they were last year.
  • 5-A Conference 14: Stone Bridge repeats as conference champ, with Broad Run the 2 seed in this small group.
  • 5-A Conference 15: Mountain View and Potomac are 1/2 seeds.
  • 5-A Conference 16: Halifax, Patrick Henry-Ashland are perennial favorites.

I’d guess Marshall and Stone Bridge are early 5-A regional favorites, but we have no idea how good some of these non-DC area teams are.

There are some DC-local teams in the 4th and smaller divisions (mostly in Loudoun County).  We’ll go through them once their brackets are made available on VHSL.  The best 4-A team out there is probably Loudoun Valley, currently in the WP top 10.


Maryland

At this point, the Maryland State tournament is well underway, with all four “regional” champions crowned and the State semis set for 5/19/15.  Brackets here at the MPSAA website.  The Washington Post/AllMetSports.com reviewed all the Regional finals in this online post here.  We’ll run-down the regional results with some surprises:

  • 4-A Regionals: both of last year’s finalists (Chesapeake and Sherwood) lost early as new blood takes over Maryland states.  Perry Hall out of Baltimore took out both number 1 seeds in its regional to take the 4-A north.   Wise from Upper Marlboro also took out two PG-county #1 seeds to win the 4-A south.  Severna Park beat last year’s 4-A champ Chesapeake en route to the 4-A East championship, and the 4-A West regional final came down to perhaps the two best local Maryland teams, with current #2 All-Met ranked Gaithersburg taking out Montgomery Blair to reach the state semis.  State Semis: Perry Hall v Severna Park, Gaithersburg-Wise at U-Maryland on 5/19/15.  State final is scheduled for 5/22/15 at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
  • 3-A Regionals: Last year’s state finalist North Harford (Plyville in North Maryland) repeated as 3-A north champ.  Mt. Hebron in Ellicott City pulled the big upset and beat last year’s champion Reservoir in the 3-A East regional final (perhaps because Reservoir lost their ace Cody Morris to TJ surgery).  Chopticon (way down in St. Mary’s county) and Urbana (just south of Frederick) filled out the 3-A state semis, beating last year’s regional winner Thomas Johnson en route.  State semis set for Joe Cannon stadium in Hanover on 5/19/15.
  • 2-A Regionals: Eastern Tech, Patterson Mill, South Carroll and last  year’s champ Southern make up the 2-A state semis (mostly smaller schools outside the DC area).
  • 1-A Regionals: McDonough, Colonel Richardson, Douglass and Brunswick make up this year’s 1-A state semis (mostly smaller schools outside the DC area).

 


DC

  • DCIAA: the regular season runs through 5/20/15 and the DCIAA tournament runs through 6/3/15.
  • DCSAA: the 2015 tournament has yet to be scheduled.

Remember, there’s not usually much suspense in who is winning the DCIAA; Wilson has not lost to a DCIAA opponent in more than 20  years.


Private Leagues: WCAC/MAC/IAC and VISAA/Maryland Private

  • MIAA: Powerhouse Spalding beat Calvert Hill to repeat as MIAA Class A champsSt. Mary’s-Annapolis won the MIAA-B championship, also for the 2nd year in a row, and is 52-3 over the past two seasons.  ?? won the MIAA-C.
  • VISAA: Liberty Christian repeated as the VISAA Division 1 champ.  Local teams O’Connell, Flint Hill and Paul VI entered but lost (the entry to this tourney seems to be done via rankings, as opposed to results in the respective league’s post-season tourneys, since Flint Hill was upset but still got invited to VISAA).  Greenbriar Christian took the Division 2 title and the Southampton Academy took the Division 3 title among smaller Virginia private schools.
  • WCAC: St. Johns topped DeMatha in a 3-game series to win the WCAC for the 2nd year in a row.
  • IAC: Georgetown Prep beat Landon to win the IAC, avenging their loss in the finals last year.
  • PVAC: Sandy Spring Friends defeated Jewish Day school for the inaugural title in this fledgling league.
  • MAC:  the Potomac school beat St. James (who upset #1 seed and defending champ Flint Hill) in the final.

My master list of links used to cover HS Baseball:

Local and National High School Baseball Ranking Lists:

  • Washington Post All Met Sports Baseball top 10: Spalding, Gaithersburg 1-2, then Oakton, Madison, and Battlefield.  Stone Bridge 8th despite a win over Madison in Vienna.
  • Baltimore Sun Rankings page: They also have Spalding #1, then Calvert Hall and Reservoir.
  • Hampton Roads Baseball top 10 page: Western Branch #1
  • Baseball America’s High School top 25 (most recent ranking 5/5/15): no DC/MD/VA teams listed.
  • USA Today High School top 25 (most recent ranking 5/6/15): Western Branch closest to top-25, ranked 30th.  Spalding (Washington Post’s #1 team) ranked 50th nationally.
  • USA Today’s Virginia-only rankings: no longer seem to be in existence.
  • MaxPreps top 25/top 50 lists, which has a hand-picked and a computer/power ranking list.  5/18/15 rankings.  No DC/MD/VA teams in MaxPrep’s “Excellent 50.”

Resources:

  • Washington Post’s AllMetSports section with standings and schedule results.
  • InsideNova.com‘s coverage of high school sports, but has put limits on the number of stories you can read.
  • The Connection family of newspapers has a sports section that is rarely updated, but it does do some coverage.
  • MaxPreps.com also has some non-paywall HS information that comes in handy too.
  • Nvdaily.com (Strasburg) has some results for some of the teams in the smaller conferences/outskirts of DC, generally in the Strasburg area.
  • WinchesterStar (Winchester) has results for Winchester teams but its pay-only.
  • The Daily Progress (Culpeper local paper) also has some scores for schools in its areas.
  • Fredericksburg.com has some local coverage of Fredericksburg and Woodbridge teams.
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch has a HS scoreboard.
  • Hampton Roads Pilot (Hampton Roads) has scores for teams in the Chesapeake/Norfolk/Va Beach area.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s high school page has information on some of the programs outside the DC area mentioned in the Maryland section
  • I use perfectgame.org to look up high-end HS prospects.
  • VHSL’s and MPSSAA home pages for playoff brackets and updates for VA and MD respectively.

Written by Todd Boss

May 18th, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Bonds to sue MLB for collusion; Is he right?

7 comments

Bonds thinks he was colluded against after his 2007 season.  photo via dailynexus.com

Bonds thinks he was colluded against after his 2007 season. photo via dailynexus.com

In 2007, Barry Bonds played in 126 games (missing half of September but otherwise just getting routine days off throughout the season), put up a slash line of .276/.480/.565, with 28 homers in 477 PAs, good for a a 169 OPS+.  A 169 OPS+ would have led the majors in 2014, for context of how strong an offensive season he had.  He led the league in walks, intentional walks and OBP.  He was an All-Star.  His bWAR on the year was a healthy 3.4 … but was hampered a point and a half by his sub-par defense since, of course, he  was in the NL and had to struggle around left field day in and day out as a 42-yr old.

He entered Free Agency … and never signed a new contract.  His last game was a 0-3 random September performance for a 90-loss Giants team against the Padres and Jake Peavy.

This week, now that Bonds’ remaining legal issues are past, he’s apparently contemplating a collusion lawsuit against MLB, alleging that the 30 owners basically got together and collectively agreed not to sign him.  He alleges that this collusion ended his career pre-maturely.

At the time, there was a massive circus atmosphere surrounding Bonds.  In November of 2007, just after the World Series ended and the FA period officially began, Bonds was officially indicted on federal perjury and obstruction of justice charges.  Even notwithstanding an outstanding federal charge, Bonds had just broken Hank Aaron‘s record and had a massive contingent of reporters following him around game to game, with heavy, serious questions about the extent of his steroid usage still unanswered but being questioned daily.  Bonds was also well known for being a surly teammate and a horrible clubhouse presence.  I specifically recall thinking about a possible signing of Bonds and completely understanding why teams may not have wanted to do so, because of the PR hit.

So, which makes more sense, that 30 MLB owners, each of whom is competing against the others to try to win, would each individually arrive at the conclusion that they’d rather not have a PR nightmare versus having a 43-yr old guy still capable of batting clean-up in the majors willing to play for the MLB minimum?  Or that the commissioner would lead yet another collusion effort against a player?

Who wouldn’t have wanted to add a potential 5-win clean-up hitter playing for less than $500,000??

We should note, by the way, that we are talking about a commissioner at the time in Bud Selig who was directly involved as an owner in *multiple* proven collusion incidents, which resulted in millions of dollars of penalties being paid to damaged players through the 1980s and 1990s.  We’re talking about a commissioner who was also (basically) still an owner, who clearly worked on behalf of the owners, and who had taken a massive publicity hit to his reputation for his role in enabling the whole PED crisis in the first place and (in my opinion) was certainly ready to move onwards from the daily embarrassment that Bonds represented to the league.

Here’s some additional good reading material on the topic: Si.com’s legal expert Michael McCann studied the case back in 2012 and goes far deeper into all these topics.  Yahoo sports’ Israel Fehr has a nice summary with links to other reporters with more analysis.  And Grant Brisbee has a great retrospective on the idiocy of teams who passed on Bonds but who paid other players that off-season.

My 2 cents: i’m almost certain there was some collusion going on … but that it’ll be very difficult to prove at this point, 8 years onward.  And, there’s enough of an argument that can be made that teams made the same decision that the San Francisco owner made before the season was even over; enough was enough with the daily PR nightmare and he decided to go separate ways.  What do you think?

ps: useless fact: did you know that Bonds was just the 6th pick in the 1st round of his draft year?   Going ahead of him was B.J. Surhoff, Will Clark, Bobby Witt, Barry Larkin and a HS catcher who washed out in the minors named Kurt Brown.  Do you think the Chicago White Sox are kicking themselves for getting absolutely nothing out of their first round pick instead of picking Bonds?  Bonds btw nearly has as much combined bWAR as those four MLBers picked ahead of him … and those are not exactly slouches for players, and includes a Hall of Famer in Larkin.

Simmons to leave ESPN; your thoughts

5 comments

News broke friday that longtime ESPN writer Bill Simmons and ESPN are parting ways.

Simmons is kind of a lightening rod.  I know many people doesn’t really care for him or his stuff.  Personally, I’ve kind of drifted away from him over the past two years … not because I don’t like his stuff, but mostly because his focus area (the NBA more and more) is something I don’t really care about.  When he wrote more about baseball, about the Red Sox and Yankees during the early 2000s heyday of the rivalry, I was as big of a fan as anyone’s.  I still go to his podcast subscription first to see who’s on, and I really miss his mailbags and columns that he no longer has time to write.

Still, this news is kind of staggering.  Simmons is *the* reason huge numbers of people went to ESPN.  His columns were always the top draws on that website.  People talk about how Grantland is a “failure” … but then are nebulous with the measurements of what constitutes a “failure” on the internet.  No, Grantland doesn’t make the network millions of dollars; what website does?

I wonder what happens next.  I think it was clear that Simmons was done with the hypocrisy of ESPN management and demonstrated it pretty well with his latest suspension.  I think he was tired of being told what he could and couldn’t do on his podcasts (he’s been constantly fighting with editors over jokes and content), tired of being told who he could and couldn’t haveas guests (most famously, he was set to have President Obama on but for some reason ESPN nixed it, saying it was political … meanwhile Obama is on ESPN every year for the NCAA show; hypocritical).  Mostly I think he was tired of the double standards that ESPN has for opinion makers on its network; the same things that Simmons was suspended for have been blatantly done by other people with no repercussions.  You just can’t have double standards for personalities like that.  ESPN suspended Simmons for 3 weeks for challenging management, but when Stephen A. Smith questioned the role women have in their own attacks?  A slap on the wrist in comparison.  Skip Bayless says the same things that Simmons gets eviscorated for with zero backlash.

But where will he have the access that he had to the NBA that he had?  He *loved* the 30 for 30 stuff; that’s ESPN property.  I don’t know who “owns” Grantland but the PR implied that ESPN does by virtue of saying that “Grantland will continue publishing.”  So that creation is gone as well.  Would he just abandon all these paths he has forged and try something complete new (like when he went to Jimmy Kimmel to write for his late-night show)?

I think someone will use Simmons to really supercharge their online sports presence.  TNT holds part of the NBA contract so maybe a combo deal where does TV for TNT and then online for someplace that wants to compete against ESPN like a FoxSports.  Fox makes a ton of sense since they’ve never been afraid to push the line and have little street cred.

One thing seems for sure: Simmons is still king of the podcast realm and gets his stars to appear.  You can argue that’s because he was sponsored by ESPN, but his name leads the way now.

What do you guys think?  Do you even read his stuff?  Do you read Grantland?  Do you care?

Written by Todd Boss

May 8th, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Still think he’s “overrated?”

8 comments

Yup; very overrated.  Sarcasm.  Photo: Sports Illustrated

Yup; very overrated. Sarcasm. Photo: Sports Illustrated

Prior to the season, MLB’s players were polled and our own Bryce Harper was voted “most overrated.”  Over Yasiel Puig, for the second year in a row, that both players were listed 1-2.

You know what I think?  I think that vote should actually be called, “Players you’re most jealous of because they’re incredibly good and accomplished at a young age.”  It isn’t Harper’s fault that he was asked to be on the cover of SI at the age of 16.  And it isn’t Puig’s fault that he’s burst onto the scene and has posted a career OPS+ of 150 (!! even I didn’t know it was that high) so far at the age of 24.

After yesterday’s 3-homer show and especially after his performance last post-season, under the hottest lights and against the best of the best, does anyone still think Harper’s over-rated?   How many guys are there in the league with that kind of power who also have his defensive capabilities?  Not too many.  I’m not sure what Harper has to do to “earn” the respect of his peers .. maybe its just as simple as putting together a full season w/o injury to see what kind of numbers you can put up in 150 games or so.

 

Written by Todd Boss

May 7th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Posted in Nats in General

Tagged with ,

All is not lost

12 comments

Nice performance from Fister on sunday.  Photo via wp.com

Nice performance from Fister on sunday. Photo via wp.com

So, after destroying the ball in Atlanta (30 runs in 3 games) and getting what feels like an early “turn around the ship” 13-12 epic come from behind win, the team goes to New York and takes 3 of 4 from the Mets (who were theretofore undefeated at home and had the best record in the game).  Even if you don’t think the Mets are really that good, it was still a statement series to go to a divisional rival ahead of you in the standings and take 3 of 4.

They couldn’t beat Matt Harvey (who can these days?), not even with Max Scherzer going, but beat Jacob DeGrom and got the kind of shut-down performances from their #4 and #5 starters (Gonzalez and Fister) that practically no other team in the league can depend on.  It isn’t a good sign having to depend on untested rookies and fortunate bounces to get one-off runs that lead to 1-0 victories, but then again, its a great sign that you have a team that *can* win these kinds of games.

Now Miami comes to town; they’ve been hot (8-2 in their last 10), but the pitching matchups favor the Nats.  I’ll take Zimmermann, Strasburg, Scherzer (the best 1-2-3 in the majors) over what Miami’s bringing to the table this week (Phelps, Latos and Koehler).  Anything less than a sweep of Miami will be a disappointment.  The Nats have clear, inarguable pitching matchup advantages, and Latos/Koehler sport ugly ERAs that should help the Nats offense get healthy again quick.

Are we backed away from the ledge yet?   There’s still areas of improvement of course.  Per Fangraphs today, the team ranks:

  • 23rd in team WRC+ at 86 (my favorite all-equaling offensive stat measure)
  • 23rd in team Batting Average at .235, which sounds awful but there’s seven teams worse right now.
  • 7th in Starter ERA … but 2nd in Starter FIP and 1st in Starter WAR (Scherzer leads the league in fWAR despite being just 1-3)
  • 12th in Bullpen ERA and 11th in bullpen FIP

So, the bullpen we’ve fretted about is holding on but could use improvement, the Starters are holding up their end of the bargain, and the offense needs to improve.  About where we expected the team to be?