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2019 Playoff Synopsis


Now the real season beings!  As you all know, we have 4 games during round robin section of the tournament.  The 4 best records in the round robin get an automatic berth into the Sunday morning and those teams will be the home teams.  The visitors will be decided on Saturday evening.  The teams that finish 5th through 12th in the round robin will play a single elimination game to determine who will come back to play on Sunday.  Of course, teams 13th - 17th will be out after the round robin.  

So who's going to do well?  Who's going to win?  We'll I've asked a few league stalwarts to write a brief paragraph on a team or two, so we could share some info and start a conversation.  The condition was anonymity, which sounds like a pretty fair trade off.  I asked them to answer two questions, the first is, "this team will have a deep run into the playoffs if ...?" and "who is the dark horse player on that team that you'd really rather not face, either offensively or defensively?" 
On hind sight, I probably should have sent a form so fill out because people weren't 100% consistent in responding.  I don't think any two were returned in the same font or script.  My favourites were the two sent by txt.  But, hey ... it beats getting ratings on a napkin!!!  Okay, enough whining and off we go!
Rusty Rebels:  Oh, I get the easy one, huh?  Will they go deep?  Oh I don't know, 18 games without a loss and a plus/minus of +150 kind of tells the story doesn't it?  In fairness, its not like they ran the table.  They had nights with subs, with Hughie pitching and some pretty serious injuries to deal with, yet they were able to put together a crazy good year.  I think the only thing standing between the Rebels and a jacket is staying healthy.  They can afford a bad game in the round robin but after that they'll be rewarded by having the best defense in the league which will keep them safe during the elimination games. There are a lot of good players on this team that can be great on any given day, but the one I'd watch is Cliff Joseph.  If Cliff is hitting gaps, that makes the lineup too long for any other team's defense to combat.  
Sons Of Pitches:  I'm not much of a writer, but I'll give it a go.  I don't think the question is really "what would it take for them to make a deep run" in the playoffs.  It should be "how could they possibly NOT make a deep run" in the playoffs.  Batting champ in Emeil Edwards, feared slugger Mark County, Multi-time all stars in Gee & Pendlebury and captain of enthusiasm with Jimmy Vincent.  If all 12 guys keep rowing in the same direction I just don't see them being stopped before Sunday.  As for "who to watch", I'm really intrigued by their new guy off the waiting list, Alex Stepanoff.  I've only seen him play twice, but he's essentially the replacement of #12 Jeremy Westover.  And his .585 average and scoring a run per game, over 14 games, is great production at that spot.  In my limited views of him he crushes line drives.  Could be the difference in my opinion.  
Dusty Cleats:  Hager, Clark, Moye, Allan, Koolhaas, Muto, Cudnik.  You're kidding, right?  On base, speed, power & defense, I don't know what else you could possibly be looking for in a team.  You've got Dane securing 1st base and Pully setting defenses and probably one of the best 3 or 4 pitchers in the league.  This team doesn't need to get "lucky" to win.  They just have to play their game reap the benefits.  Who doesn't see a bunch of 18-6 wins in the round robin?  I feel like I'm going to put undo pressure on the person I pick as the difference maker, but I'll follow the rules.  I know he's been injured and only played 15 games this year, but if Rick Cudnik can have a week hitting .815 instead of .615, you might as well get the jacket fittings done.  If there was a pool, I'd pick the Dusty Cleats.  
Master Batters:  I was asked to review the Master Batters which meant I had to actually do some research as I didn't really see many of their games this season.  When I started looking at their statistics they had finished their season in 2nd place (editors note: since dropped to 4th) and were just waiting on the Sons of Pitches to finish their season to see where they'd officially finish.  However, sitting in 2nd place behind the Rebels who were finished in 1st place, I couldn't help but notice that they were 12 points behind!  That's the same number of points that they're ahead of the 15th place Gruesome Devils!  I don't know if that means that its the Rusty Rebels and everyone else or if the rest of the league is pretty close.  Even though their stats are pretty middle of the road, they win games.  Just win baby!  The only thing they need to do is sustain their health and attendance and they should be a lock for a deep run in the playoffs.  I hate to pick on one player, but if there's one guy for me to keep an eye on its Lenny Wercholoz.  The Master Batters were 5 games over .500 with Lenny in the lineup (9-5-1) and 1 games over without him (5-4).  For whatever reason the team plays a heck of a lot better behind Len.    
Draft Kings:  At 13-9-2 the Draft Kings had to fight for their points.  Their runs are way down over previous years, but they remain very stingy in giving up runs.  The defensive consistency can be traced back to the amazing attendance by their team.  The average player has showed up for 20.6 games!  That's an incredible turn out!  Its clear that these guys are used to playing together and used playing their positions which they play very well.  The Draft Kings don't miss cut offs.  They don't throw the ball around.  They don't take stupid chances on the bases.  They play fundamentally sound ball which makes them one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs.  If they don't get excited and start doing things out of their character they should have a quarterfinal date on Sunday morning.  Kevin Goulter set a personal career best mark with 15 runs scored and 47 hits this season.  That means, if he maintains his average, he'll score 2-3 runs in the round robin + get around 7 hits in the round robin.  I'd be willing to bet that there's going to be a team playing the Draft Kings that are desperate for an out to keep a bad inning from getting worse and Kevin will be the nail in the coffin that eliminates that team from seeing Sunday.  If only I were a betting man.  
Dog Catchers:   Sure, give me the team that's impossible to rate.  They lost Paul Keogh.  Turner is out with a broken arm. Hipkin has played in only one of their last 5 games. I had to go far and wide for meaningful Dog Catchers stats that would be a good argument for them playing Sunday.  The truth of the matter is that they always play Sunday so what possible reason is there to bet against them?  Death.  Taxes.  The Dog Catchers on Sunday.  One thing they have going for them is a 3-2 record against their playoff competition, so even if they maintain that pace that looks like an elimination game Saturday night to me.  Also they have some real speed demons like Les, Skip and Luke that can really wear out defenses.  I could make a case for every guy on this team being the critical person to make the difference, but I've been told by some idiot that I can only pick one.   I'm forced to pick Bo Niederhuber.  He's consistently been an elite line drive and high average hitter in the Oldtimers.  Maybe he's still hitting rockets that are finding gloves, but if he hits .800 or better for the round robin, it feels like the Dog Catchers have too much speed and consistent batting to be stopped.        
Bat Flippers:  The Bat Flippers finished the season a game over .500.  They opened the season with a 37-7 win and followed that with an 11-1 loss and lost 5 of their next 6.   Just so everyone knows, a 2-6 start is not normally considered very good.  However 10-5-1 over their final 16 games IS very good.  Actually, for the Tottenham Oldtimers its exceptionally good.  So what changed?  The biggest thing is that Kevin Clouthier got healthy.  I have them at 10-6-1 with Clouthier and 2-5 without him.  Four games over versus three games under is a huge swing.  In just 16 games he's averaging just a shade under 3 runs per game (45) which means he scores virtually every time he's on as his average stands at .743 to finish the year.  Moon, Rigatti, Boston and Richards are the only foursome on any team to eclipse 100 at bats.  If they hit cut offs and don't throw the ball around defensively there's no way they don't see Sunday.  No Way!  So, who is the sleeper player to watch out for?  Well, shame on anyone who under estimates Bill Clouthier.  Nope he's not hitting doubles and triples, but he didn't hit .618 by accident.  His a magician with the cue and can place the ball anywhere.  His understanding of the subtleties of the game the ability to make productive outs are unmatched.  He's my difference maker.  
Grisslies:  When I was asked to write on the Grisslies, I thought "can I have another teams?" Just kidding.  I literally got the easiest one.  The Grisslies completed their 98th season in the league with an 11-12-1 record.  You're probably saying to yourself, "hey, middle of the pack - that's not too bad".  Well did you know that the Grisslies WERE 11-5-1 and odds on favourite for 2nd place back on July 31st?  An 0-6 August will kill you.  I'm searching for a reason for the losing streak and can't find one.  4 of the teams finished behind them in the standings.  It just makes no sense.  So how does this team make Sunday?  Well, I don't honestly remember the last time the Grisslies didn't make Sunday, so there's that.  Also, they just need a kick in the ass and remember who they are.  Are they the 11-5-1 Grisslies or the 0-6 Grisslies.  The difference maker on this team isn't a player, its attendance.  The Grisslies are the only team that I've found that has half the team playing less than 20 games.  Attendance should get them to Sunday.  
Hurtin' Units:  Finishing 9th, a game under .500 in a league of 17 teams would suck large if only 8 teams made the playoffs.  The good news for the Hurtin' Units is that everyone makes the playoffs!  There's a lot to like on this team.  Rookie Thompson had a great start to his TOT career, Kurt played great at short (although I've heard from someone that lefties should NEVER be on the left side of the diamond, regardless of whether or not they're a phenom) Taylor has pitched himself into the upper echelon of the league, Peddle and Banks both had solid seasons but the whole surge was led by Justin Cremascoli who beat his career best in average by almost 80 points.  Defense will be the show stopper for this team.  If they can avoid that one self-destruction inning, they have a very real chance of seeing Sunday.  The player I would keep a really close eye on is Anthony Mastrangelo.  He had a career low average this season, but if I were you I'd pay really close attention to him.  If he jumps back to his normal, it won't be very pleasant for defenses.  
Tap Masters:  Just what we were hoping for, eh?  After dropping 7 of 8 games, they win their last two games going into the playoffs.  Opposite of good news for the rest of the league.  They last thing anyone else wants is for this team to start "believing".  This team has been a bit of a mess health wise this year.  Rumbolt (unclear status for the playoffs), Art Sagert (back now, 4 games played), Schrank (unclear status for the playoffs), Willcott (unclear status for the Playoffs), Sheir (also unclear) and Neil Boteilo (unclear).  You can see .... its a mess.  But these guys are resilient.  To be honest, there's not a single team in the league that make a better argument for health being the only thing that separates them from Sunday ball.  My difference maker is Gary Basso.  There's two things I know about Gary.  He makes impossible catches to save innings and he's among the best hitters in the league with two out and runners on.  He can take the wind right of the sails of a perfectly decent comeback.  
Twisters:  A tale of two seasons.  A 7-4 start had them out of the gate and had them looking like a pretty comfortable top 6 pick at the half way mark.  Then something happened.  Specifically a 4-7-1 finish to the season happened. Now the numbers are skewed a little bit because that 7-4 start was hampered by an opening night 37-7 loss.  But even with that shellacking, they were averaging 13.5 runs for and 15.1 against.  However in the last 13 games, script changed dramatically and they were scoring 13.7 per game and giving up 17.9!  It's tough to ask a team to score 19 to get a win.  Hard to say where the defense went south, but the pitching looks good to me and they have strength up the middle with is the traditional baseball model.  They played solid ball for an 11 game stretch, or at least 10 of 11, so they are completely capable of doing it.  And the answer for making Sunday is simply to return to that form.  I can't imagine that they're the only team in this boat, but a return to form defensively and staying in the game mentally will get them to Sunday.  They have the bats to do it all day, every day.  My "watch out for guy" is Paul Bruno.  I've seen him play 3rd and left field well.  But his bat is dramatically better than his 3 previous years.  He's averaged 21 runs per season before this year and this year scored 37!  And his overage over that time was .632 compared to this season's 6.84.  Money.  
Dodge City:  2-11 after 13 games.  The saving grace for Dodge City was they got rained out 4 times because it honestly could have been worse!  Then a 17-4 smashing of the defending champs and an 8-2-1 finish to the season.  I'll bet there aren't too many people who knew that the Dodge is the second hottest team (Rusty Rebels) heading into the playoffs.  They went from the actual basement to 12th.  I really wouldn't want to play them.  Stiff found his groove, the top of the order is smoking and the defense is drastically improved.  In their last 11 games they've given up more than 15 runs only 3 times.  I'm so glad we don't play them.  Dodge City has a number of players that can burn you and make you look pretty stupid, it is really difficult to pick one.  Martin Ranby has the potential to really hurt a team. His loopy swing has a habit of driving balls where people aren't and innings go very long.  All it takes is a couple of well timed hits in the round robin and they'll be carrying Martin off the field on their shoulders!
Beer Bros.:  Yes I was the last one to submit, but I have an excuse.  It's Dwyer's team and if I didn't do an accurate job in reporting I would have been publicly mocked.  I couldn't risk it.  Can the Beer Bros. make Sunday?  Yes, I don't think its a huge stretch.  However, if you had asked me when they were 5-11-1 having just lost 5 in a row I might have had a slightly different take and declined to participate.  But they finished strong going 4-2-1 over their last 7.  Sure, it doesn't sound SUPER, but consider that the two losses were by 1 to the 1st place Rusty Rebels (15-14) and 1 to the 7th place Bat Flippers (16-15) and you're having yourself a conversation.  So to avoid being chastised, here's another reason.  The Beer Bros. are 3-1 against the teams they match up with in the round robin and have averaged 14 runs scored in those games and 12.5 runs against.  That sounds like playoff baseball right there.  The ticket to make this happen is Porter.  Speed, gap power, "A" level glove and base running smarts.  I'm expecting an explosive playoff from him and if that happens?  See you Sunday.  
Inglorious Batsters:  Can a 14th place team make Sunday?  Did anyone believe that a 17th place team can make the finals last year?  Sure they can and here's how.  (Honestly, I have the easiest of all the write ups and its short)  Scott Barton's work changes limited him to 8 games this season.  The Inglorious Batsters were 6-2 in those games.  Without Scott they were 3 and 13.  Questions?  Player most likely to change their fortunes?  You might be a little shocked by this, but I would go with Scott Barton.  See you in the Quarter Finals Will & Pete! 
Sliders:  So I get to be the dick, nice.  I never liked Dwyer anyway.  The Sliders have exactly 1 round robin win over the last 5 playoff years.  1 and 19 in round robin games to be perfectly accurate.  There, I said it and I'm sorry.  Over those years they had a .451 winning percentage in the regular season but only a .050 winning percentage in the playoffs.  It just doesn't match up and makes zero sense.  Zero.  But that's about to change friends!  This year's Sliders team was hamstrung by injury and attendance that impacted their regular season record and saw them in an unusual position of 15th place.  However, they have savvy players like Chiasson, Mumma and Casullo leading the way at key positions that can keep bad innings from becoming disasters.  Plus those three are joined by Jon Hardy and Denis Short who are all batting over .700.  Gaudet and Chiasson gives superior center field defense and never drop balls or miss cut offs.  I'm going to give Dude the "difference maker" label on this team.  I don't want to heap a 6th year of legacy on you or imply you are responsible, but Dude playing 3rd or left field well is key.  And hitting a rocket 2 out of every five times at the plate will drive defenders back and he'll get a few extra cheap hits that he's not currently seeing.  Please be the year for Sunday!
Gruesome Devils:  McCarthy, Dickson, Connolly and Tinkler / Bones.  Looks like a good infield to me.  Peters, Harris, Muirhead, Routledge.  I'd play with that outfield.  The fact that only one person made all 24 games this season probably played a part in their record.  However, I am optimistic about the playoffs.  If everyone plays their role and marches in the same direction, their is not excuse for not getting to Sunday.  There are just too many good players on this team.  I've been up and down the stats and I can't find a compelling rationale.  But there is this one little nugget.  They had a four game stretch between July 3rd and July 16th were they consecutively beat the Dusty Cleats (3rd), Master Batters (4th), Hot Tub Woody's (17th) and Draft Kings (5th).  So if you can do that over 4 straight games, why can't they go 3-1 in the round robin and get a free ride to Sunday?
Hot Tub Woody's:  I guess we'll see them in the finals!  I know it's the last place team and we're just supposed to offer platitudes and words of encouragement, but I think there is some real cause for optimism here.  I'm not going to lie, there are gaps, but maybe not as many as you think.  Forget Dancey, Kahuna, Richards and Plante lighting it up (get it?) offensively.  Forget an above average outfield.  Forget Laurier throwing 10 pound bowling balls.  The real story is their schedule.  Remember that this team had a .333 winning percentage in the regular season.  Pretty rough.  But against the teams they match up against in the playoffs they were 3 and 4 (.429 winning percentage).  Better.  But probably more better than you know.  They lost to the Rusty Rebels by one.  The dropped two the inglorious Batsters by 7 and 1.  They split with the Master Batters and swept the Tap Masters.  Overall they were +17 going 3 and 4.  Think about that for a minute, in those 7 games they averaged outscoring their opponent by 2.4 runs per game.  In their other 17 games they were 4-11-2 with a -52 averaging losing by 3.1 per game.  A 5.5 plus minus swing.  They deserve to have some confidence.  Good luck Jeff & Ed, hope to see you playing Sunday morning!    
  Time Day Month # Park Visitor Home Type      
  7:00 Monday September 9 Keogh Master Batters Rusty Rebels Round Robin      
  8:15 Monday September 9 Keogh Draft Kings Sons Of Pitches Round Robin      
  7:00 Tuesday September 10 Cov 2 Dog Catchers Dusty Cleats Round Robin      
  7:00 Tuesday September 10 Cov 3 Tap Masters Bat Flippers Round Robin      
  8:15 Tuesday September 10 Cov 2 Twisters Grisslies Round Robin      
  8:15 Tuesday September 10 Cov 3 Dodge City Hurtin' Units Round Robin      
  7:00 Wednesday September 11 Cov 2 Gruesome Devils Beer Bros. Round Robin      
  7:00 Wednesday September 11 Cov 3 Sliders Dusty Cleats Round Robin      
  7:00 Wednesday September 11 Keogh Hot Tub Woody's Inglorious Batsters Round Robin      
  8:15 Wednesday September 11 Cov 2 Bat Flippers Rusty Rebels Round Robin      
  8:15 Wednesday September 11 Cov 3 Grisslies Sons Of Pitches Round Robin      
  8:15 Wednesday September 11 Keogh Tap Masters Master Batters Round Robin      
  7:00 Thursday September 12 Cov 2 Twisters Draft Kings Round Robin      
  7:00 Thursday September 12 Cov 3 Sliders Dodge City Round Robin      
  7:00 Thursday September 12 Keogh Hurtin' Units Dog Catchers Round Robin      
  8:15 Thursday September 12 Cov 2 Hot Tub Woody's Master Batters Round Robin      
  8:15 Thursday September 12 Cov 3 Inglorious Batsters Rusty Rebels  Round Robin      
  8:15 Thursday September 12 Keogh Beer Bros. Sons Of Pitches Round Robin      
  7:00 Friday September 13 Cov 2 Gruesome Devils Draft Kings Round Robin      
  7:00 Friday September 13 Cov 3 Hurtin' Units Dusty Cleats Round Robin      
  8:15 Friday September 13 Cov 2 Dodge City Dog Catchers Round Robin      
  8:15 Friday September 13 Cov 3 Twisters Bat Flippers Round Robin      
  9:00 Saturday September 14 Keogh Sliders Dog Catchers Round Robin      
  9:00 Saturday September 14 Cov 3 Hot Tub Woody's Rusty Rebels Round Robin      
  10:15 Saturday September 14 Cov 2 Gruesome Devils Sons Of Pitches Round Robin      
  10:15 Saturday September 14 Keogh Tap Masters Grisslies Round Robin      
  11:30 Saturday September 14 Cov 1 Inglorious Batsters Master Batters Round Robin      
  11:30 Saturday September 14 Keogh Dodge City Dusty Cleats Round Robin      
  12:45 Saturday September 14 Cov 3 Beer Bros. Draft Kings Round Robin      
  12:45 Saturday September 14 Keogh Gruesome Devils Twisters Round Robin      
  12:45 Saturday September 14 Cov 2 Hot Tub Woody's Tap Masters Round Robin      
  2:00 Saturday September 14 Keogh Inglorious Batsters Bat Flippers Round Robin      
  3:15 Saturday September 14 Cov 1 Sliders Hurtin' Units Round Robin      
  3:15 Saturday September 14 Cov 2 Beer Bros. Grisslies Round Robin      
  5:45 Saturday September 14 Cov 1 Team 10 (re-seeded) Team 7 (re-seeded) Elimination      
  5:45 Saturday September 14 Cov 2 Team 12 (re-seeded) Team 5 (re-seeded) Elimination      
  5:45 Saturday September 14 Cov 3 Team 11 (re-seeded) Team 6 (re-seeded) Elimination      
  5:45 Saturday September 14 Keogh Team 9 (re-seeded) Team 8 (re-seeded) Elimination      
  9:00 Sunday September 15 Cov 2 ? Team 3 (re-seeded) Quarter Finals      
  9:00 Sunday September 15 Cov 3 ? Team 4 (re-seeded) Quarter Finals      
  10:15 Sunday September 15 Cov 1 ? Team 1 (re-seeded) Quarter Finals      
  10:15 Sunday September 15 Cov 2 ? Team 2 (re-seeded) Quarter Finals      
  12:45 Sunday September 15 Cov 2 ? ? Semi Finals      
  12:45 Sunday September 15 Cov 3 ? ? Semi Finals      
  3:15 Sunday September 15 Cov 2 ? ? Finals