From the defensive wizardry of three Puerto Rican gold glove nominee shortstops, to the Dominican Republic sluggers averaging three homers per game, to the SEC's incredible rotation that starts with Scherzer and ends with Buehler, we are now 6 games into the 16 game World Baseball Classic this offseason.
With teams trying to win by at least 5 runs to get credit for a 3-game sweep, due to an actual mark of 5-1 and overall credit for a first place 13-5 record, Venezuela leads the "Continental Division." The SEC and ACC are both just three games back at 10-8, the Big 12 is 9-9 in all road games, and the Pac-12 is riding dominant strikeout pitchers Cole and Bauer to stay close at 8-10.
The defending champion Dominican Republic leads the "Multi-Coast" Division at 12-6, while Japan already featured a no-hitter by Darvish and is surprisingly only three games back at 9-9.. The slick fielding Puerto Rico is five games back at 7-11. The two 6-12 teams have opposite needs, with Cuba slugging homers but needing some pitching, and Mexico looking like Fernando Valenzuela is on the mound every time with the second best ERA but needs hitting. Grid of all matchups is here.
Once each team has been through their 4-game pitching rotations four times for a 16 game schedule and 48-game record based on the awarding of a 3-0 mark for a game won with a 5-run lead after 8 innings without using a closer, or a 2-1 record awarded for all other wins, the winner of each division will face off in a 7-game championship.
Through 6 games for each of the 10 Baseball All-Star team, offenses are averaging 3.8 runs scored per game with a 0.237 batting average and 1.4 home runs per game. Starting pitchers are averaging 4.8 innings and 5.1 strikeouts with a 3.61 ERA. Thanks to a great converter that changes pdf files to jpg, here are the first six scoresheets for each team. The free hand scoresheets normally show both games of a 2-game series (with a line indicating the end of an inning), but each team was given just a one-game series against two teams from the other division.
The summary of games for each team are listed in order of starting pitcher, while the pictures of scoresheets are listed in order of their opponent.
The ACC’s Will Smith leads the way with a torrid 14 for 27 and 4 HRs in 6 games, and the team's .310 batting average is way ahead of second place Dominican Republic (0.287) and the league average 0.237. Except for the two games against 1st place Dominican Republic the 2nd place ACC has dominated including two five innings shutout performances, and a 10-2 mark. Unfortunately they were blown out twice by the Dominican Republic, losing 6-1 and 15-7 (though we record a max of 10 runs on the table).
The started the season with a 3-run homer by Brad Miller (Clemson-St. Louis) and then two homers by Will Smith. Based on cards, their line-up ranks 4th against RHP (0.806), 4th against LHP (0.812), 6th in defense (Clutch Defense 3.0 but weak SS), 3rd in speed (OBR/SP: C+/C-). Based on cards, their line-up ranks 4th against RHP (0.806 OPS), 4th against LHP (0.812), 6th in defense (Clutch Defense 3.0 but weak SS), 3rd in speed (OBR/SP: C+/C).
The Big 12 did shock the Dominican Republic 5-4 on a 3-run pinch hit HR by Orf and a 2-run homer by Mayfield, in a game in which three DEEP drives by the Dominican Republic were all caught for long outs. Big-12 fans have a legitimate beef with the players being assigned by their college team’s current conference, meaning Max Scherzer (Missouri) is on our SEC team. Based on cards, their line-up ranks 9th against RHP (0.735 OPS), 8th against LHP (0.738), 8th in defense (Clutch Defense 2.6 but weak SS), 10th/last in speed (OBR/SP: C-/D).
Cuba also gets players born in Miami, where more than a million Cubans live. Their homers (1.7 per game) and batting average (0.241) are just above average so far, and if they can get to the 8th inning their two dominant relievers - Chapman and Raisal Iglesias – are lights out. Unfortunately their starting pitching is giving them no chance to get that deep in the game, averaging only 3. 5 innings per start with a 6.00 ERA.
In one loss Jose Iglesias hit a 2-run homer in the 9th to add to Alvarez earlier homer, but they still fell short 9-3, but they lost that series to the ACC by a combined score of 6-17. In one game Perez gave up 3 runs in the first including a lead off homer by Muncy, but then rallied to beat the Big-12. In another, gold glove centerfielder nominee Luis Roberts hit a late 2-run homer to pull within 5-3, but that was the final. Based on cards, their line-up ranks 2nd against RHP (0.813 OPS), 6th against LHP (0.798), 3rd in defense (Clutch Defense 3.8 with great SS), 6th in speed (OBR/SP: C-/C-).
The 10-7 win recorded below over the ACC was actually 15-7 (but for the table we cap at 10 runs), and that was after the ACC had started 6-0. In that game, Ozuna hit 3 of the Champs 7 home runs - all in the first 5 innings. The Dominican Republic then scored 5 more in the first three innings of the second game against the second place ACC. Based on cards, their line-up ranks 1st against RHP (0.858 OPS), 1st against LHP (incredible even better 0.913), 4th in defense (Clutch Defense 3.5), 1st in speed (OBR/SP: B-/C).
They almost rallied for an upset of SEC, chasing Scherzer in the 8th with singles by Wong and Tsutgago, and then brought in those 2 runs once Roger relieved on an RBI single by choi and then a wild pickoff attempt by Rogers. With the country (as well as S. Korea, which teams up) much stronger in pitching than hitting depth, we do have several minor leaguers or retired players (like Ichiro) on the bench to pinch hit. The team can also use players born in the closest US State, Hawaii, and that netted gold glove nominee Kiner-Falefa. They wasted a strong effort against Venezuela. Based on cards, their line-up ranks 8th against RHP (0.744 OPS), 10th/last against LHP (0.715), 10th/last in defense (Clutch Defense 2.3), 2nd in speed (OBR/SP: B-/C-).
The light-hitting Mexican team only scores 2.0 runs per game behind a 0.190 batting average and 1.0 homers a game. They’ve counted on incredible starting pitching to shut out opponents for an average of give innings in three of their first six games (Agrazal 5 innings, Gonzalez 4.1 winnings, and Loasiga 6 innings).
The one win came on second inning singles by R. Urias, R. Urias and then Arauz (whose grounder got past the 1st baseman) gave Mexico their only run to secure a surprise split 1-0 against the SEC. Gallego dodged a bullet in the 9th when Bradley and Alonso singled to put the winning run on base, and then Yastrzemski blasted a clutch batting foul home run, before striking out. The only time the offense exploded it was wasted, after the first two innings included 2-run homers by L. Urias, Paredes and Kirk to take a 6-2, only to lose 7-6 in 10 innings. Based on cards, their line-up ranks 10th/last against RHP (0.678 OPS), 9th against LHP (0.715 and slightly better pinchhitting than last place Japan), 9th in defense (Clutch Defense 2.6 and strong SS), 7th in speed (OBR/SP: C-/B+).
Both Bauer and Gerritt Cole registered 13 strikeout appearances to help the Pac-12 dominate the league with 7.3 strikeouts per starter per outing. Unfortunately for Cole, his came while Darvish was throwing a no-hitter against the Pac-12. Bauer dominated for 8 innings except for a HR by Kirk for a 5-1 win over Mexico, but had to wait until he was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the 8th to go ahead, with his pinch-hitter Semien delivering the key 2-run double.
Healy went 4 for 4 including and early homer and then an RBI single in the bottom of the 9th to complete a comeback from down 6-2 against Mexico and force extra innings, which the Pac-12 won. and an earlier homer. Based on cards, their line-up ranks 5th against RHP (0.791 OPS), 5th against LHP (0.799), 7th in defense (Clutch Defense 2.7 and strong SS), 9th in speed (OBR/SP: C/D-).
While Puerto Rico is hitting only 0.201 with just two homers in six games, their infield erases runs with three gold glove nominee shortstops playing third base (Correa), shortstop (Lindor) and second base (Baez). That helped them to make great plays to hold onto 4-3 wins in both of the starts by their ace Corbin (born in New York, which is the city eligible to play on the team, as New York is home to more than a million Puerto Ricans).
One of those wins was a shocker against 1st place Venezuela. The win hinged on two pinch hits, including a homer by Rosario's e 5th tied the game 3-3, and after 2 great defensive plays by Lindor kept it tied, Panik delivered a pinch hit single in the 10th for the win. Even in a 4-0 loss to the SEC, defense prevented the SEC from getting credit for a 5+ win margin sweep when Correa threw Yaz out at home on a grounder to third in the bottom of the 8th. Based on cards, their line-up ranks 7th against RHP (0.777), 7th against LHP (0.752), 2nd in defense (Clutch Defense 4.0 and 3 and 3 strong SS), 4th in speed (OBR/SP: B+/B-).
The SEC’s starting rotation of Scherzer, Gray, Woodruff and Buehler and great relievers gives them a chance to go on a dominant run at any point to challenge Venezuela for the Division. They are holding opponents to a tiny 1.8 runs per game, and their only two losses for 4-3 to Cuba (the most runs allowed all year) and 1-0 to Mexico.
Scherzer (Missouri) is the leading candidate for the Cy Young after two starts during which he has pitched 13 2/3rd innings while striking out 23, and two of the three runs he allowed were runners he left on base in the 8th innings that the relievers allowed to score. The team’s offense has just put up 2.8 runs per game so far, but has potential and when facing Darvish coming off his no-hitter, tagged him for three straight singles in the 1st inning (Yaz, Anderson, James Mccann) for a 3-0 led that help up. Two Red Sox came through in a 2-1 win over Mexico in Scherzer’s other starts, with Bradley delivering one of his 3 hits to load the bases with 2 outs in the 6th then pinch hitter Benintendi drawing and RBI-walk to break the shutout. J. McCann the led off the 8th with a Homer for the 2-1 win. Alonso (Florida) hit 2 homers to rally the SEC against Puerto Rico, and then in the 9th Renfroe, who hit a massive homer for the Rays in the real world series game, blasted a 9th inning walk off homer off closer Diaz. Based on cards, their line-up ranks 6th against RHP (0.785), 2nd against LHP (0.848), 1st in defense (Clutch Defense 4.6 and strong SS), 8th in speed (OBR/SP: C-/B+).
Based on the average starting line-up MLB OPS and starters ERA, we picked the SEC to dethrone Venezuela in the Division. However, Venezuela held off the 1st place team from the other division, the Dominican Republic, 5-4 for the best record in either division at 13-5. The starting pitching’s microscopic ERA of 0.88 through six starts (second best is Mexico at 2.48) has been the key, and overall the team has allowed only 2.0 runs per game, and suffered only a 4-3 extra inning loss against Puerto Rico due to incredible defense by Lindor.
Against Japan, Lopez threw 7 shut out innings before turning it over to the dominant closers Castillo and Vazquez to complete the shutout, as Peralta's RBI double and Aguilar's homer provided the 2-0 wins. In the other game Venezuela scored the most runs of any team this season in a 17-3 run, though we only record a max of 10 runs per game on the table below and for stats. In that game, Peralta hit two 3-run homers and Venezuela's .432 batting average and 6 HRs were both the best batting marks of the 1st 2 series for any team. Another multi-homer game was provided by Flores in a 7-0 win over Puerto Rico. Based on cards, their line-up ranks 3rd against RHP (0.810), 3rd against LHP (0.819), 5th in defense (Clutch Defense 3.0 and strong SS), 5th in speed (OBR/SP: C/D+).