2038 Johnson League Cartwright Cup Preview: Rockville vs. Las Vegas

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2038 Johnson League Cartwright Cup Preview: Rockville vs. Las Vegas

Post by aaronweiner » Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:44 am

Quick info:

Rockville record: 106-56
Rockville run differential: 970/656


Las Vegas record: 93-69
Las Vegas run differential: 866/785


Head to head:

Rockville won the season series 7-3, with Vegas taking a series in May and Rockville sweeping their most recent series back in July, right after the All-Star Break. The Pikemen outscored the Hustlers 65-40 in those ten games, with an average score of 6.5-4.


Overview:

It seems awfully weird to call this an unexpected series, as the Pikemen and the Hustlers have met twice in the playoffs over the past four years and, well, we're talking Las Vegas and Rockville here. But consider what the Hustlers have had to do to get here:

Play a one-game playoff against Mexico City, which they lost, which sent them to Jacksonville instead of Rockville in Round 2;

Win a very tough five-game series against Phoenix in the Geoghegan, where the Hustlers went down 2-1 early and had to survive by winning Game 4 in the 12th inning;

Win a seven game classic against the heavily favored Jacksonville Hurricanes, in which the Hustlers went up 3-1 in the series and almost blew it in Game 7, having to score in both the ninth and tenth inning before finally capturing the series in the 12th inning of the seventh game.

What's very unusual is that it appeared that Rockville, who is chasing their third straight championship, won 106 games during the regular season, and had no trouble at all with Mexico City in the last round, seemed destined for a collision with 108-win Jacksonville in the Cartwright in a rematch of last year's JL Championship series. Vegas upended those plans, and now the only thing that remains to be seen is whether the Hustlers can stop the Pikemen from winning their fourth straight JL Pennant.



Hitting:

Rockville finished first in the JL in offense this year, scoring nearly 1000 runs and finishing with a .306 team batting average and the second best OPS in the BBA. Even Rockville's role players hit like gangbusters, as their lowest everyday regular, Larry Blake, hit .283 this season. They also have rookie phenom Pedro Diaz on the bench, who hit .333 for the Pikemen playing third base and filling in for Chip Puckett and Felix Delvalle. The Pikemen seem to have no offensive weaknesses and their top five hitters, Francisco Flores, Puckett, Manuel Marino, Lorenzo Palacios, and Mario Guerrer, are all among the top 15 offensive players in the Johnson League, many of them in their best seasons to date.


The Hustlers finished a modestly distant third place in runs scored, which is not too shabby, though their raw numbers don't compare to the Pikemen. The Hustlers don't have the offensive firepower of Rockville; the best WAR on their team is Quant Kouros, the stellar leadoff man, but his 4.1 WAR would be sixth on the Pikemen. Vegas does have some advantage on the basepaths over Rockville, finishing first in stolen bases at a stellar 75% clip, higher if you consider likely base stealers. Rockville's top starters are among the best in the league at holding runners, however, and Rockville catcher Francisco Flores' defense has been much improved.


Pitching:

One major disadvantage Las Vegas had in going seven games in the Doubleday is that their #1 starter, Mauro Flores, will likely be unavailable to pitch three games in this series. Flores, whose 18 quality starts ranked fifth in the JL despite a late-season injury, was their Game 7 starter and will likely be unavailable for Game 1 of the Cartwright Cup. Even with Flores, whose 4.40 ERA belied an excellent performance this season, the Vegas rotation finished 10th in ERA with an ERA over 5. However, Vegas' bullpen has been outstanding this season, so if the Hustlers get into the late innings with a lead, that lead is likely safe. Against most teams, Vegas would have a strong advantage with three rotation lefties, but Rockville, while leaning on lefties like Guerrer and Palacios, is also more balanced than many teams. Swingman Bert Hugill was outstanding against the Pikemen this year, so maybe he's an X factor.


Rockville's pitching staff also led the JL in runs allowed, with the #1 rotation ERA. They're likely to go three-man with Dempster, Martin, and Cannon again, and all three pitchers won at least 17 games. None of them had an ERA above 4.19 against Vegas this year. Rockville's pen has also been excellent this season, finishing fifth in team ERA and led by top closer Fernando Marquez, who is over the early career jitters. Celio Marin won't likely start in this series, though he did have one stellar start against the Hustlers earlier this year.


Overall:

The Pikemen are heavily favored in this series, and with cause. They won the season series by a substantial margin. They were the first team to finish first in offense and first in runs allowed in a decade. A recent graphic showed that Rockville has been far and away the most dominant team in the BBA this year. So for any reasonable projection to pick against Rockville wouldn't make sense.

However, this goes deeper than that. Vegas' starting pitching situation makes it difficult to pick them, and it's worth noting that while the Hustlers did knock off the Jacksonville Hurricanes in seven games, they were outscored in the series by 8 runs and won just one game where Jacksonville scored more than 3 runs. That's the sort of game which Vegas would likely have to win against a well-rested, dominant Rockville team. More likely: Rockville wins both at home (60-21 record at home this year), gets at least one in Vegas and closes this out in six.

Projection: Rockville in six games.

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Re: 2038 Frick League Cartwright Cup Preview: Rockville vs. Las Vegas

Post by RonCo » Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:47 pm

The Pikemen are looking like they're ready to serve up a true three-peat.
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Re: 2038 Frick League Cartwright Cup Preview: Rockville vs. Las Vegas

Post by crobillard » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:40 pm

I'm definitely rooting for Vegas to show up with superhero powers, but I think Rockville takes it. If Vegas can split the first two games than they'll have a chance. Rockville hasn't performed nearly as well on the road as they have at home. Just trying to find anything I can hang onto that would have Vegas representing the JL in the Landis. Good luck to both teams!
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Re: 2038 Frick League Cartwright Cup Preview: Rockville vs. Las Vegas

Post by bcslouck » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:21 pm

Rockville is tough to beat. The rotation is so good. I'd think going 6 is probably a good number. Could see 5 though.
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Re: 2038 Johnson League Cartwright Cup Preview: Rockville vs. Las Vegas

Post by felipe » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:30 pm

It would be nice to see Recte win one...its been so long...

If he keeps losing, he may shut down the league for good...

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Re: 2038 Johnson League Cartwright Cup Preview: Rockville vs. Las Vegas

Post by recte44 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:17 pm

Our pitching has been so good in the playoffs. And another X factor is Tom Rudge.
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Re: 2038 Johnson League Cartwright Cup Preview: Rockville vs. Las Vegas

Post by RonCo » Sun Jun 02, 2019 10:06 pm

recte44 wrote:
Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:17 pm
And another X factor is Tom Rudge.
There's a sentence for you.
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