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04

Well we have hit the (unofficial) mid-season mark.   A time of quiet introspection, and a chance to look back on how far we've all progressed as human beings over the last few months. I know that wiffleball has taught me a lot about myself and I feel like I have grown as a person. I've laughed, I've cried, I've had a beer. 

The time off has also afforded me the chance to compile the early season watch list for the yearly awards.

MVP - Awarded to the league's top player
Pat Moriarty AKA Truck (Royals) - Truck is batting a respectable .333, is 3rd in the league in hits and Runs scored, 4th in HRs, and 5th in RBI.  All good enough to make this list, but what is really impressive is his pitching skills.  Right now, he is dominating the opposition while averaging 12 strikeouts per 6 innings. He leads the league in ERA and is an impressive 5-0. If you have ever faced him, you know he is an imposing force, overpowering batters with his knee-high fastball.

David Mathis AKA Who IS that guy? (A's)

Mathis:  all-around performance

- After joining the A's a few games into the season Mathis has made his presence felt. Despite the late start he currently is tied for the league lead in HRs. That averages out to a HR in every 7 at-bats.  He is second in the league in RBIs and is tied with Truck with a .333 batting average.  Again, this only tells half of the story. On the mound, Mathis can be just as impressive as he is at the plate. While not striking out as many as some of the other dominant pitchers, Mathis has managed to keep runners off the basepaths and is a perfect 3-0 in his first 3 appearances of the season.

While no one else dominates both sides of the game the way these guys do, there are some others on the watch list:

Matt and Tom:  Wiffle's answer to the Bash Brothers

Matt Travaille AKA Chops (Braves) - Matt is leading the league in average at .452 going into the break.  He has a near Mathis-like HR rate of 8.4 and he leads the league in on base percentage AND slugging percentage.  Solid in just about every hitting category, if there was a rotisserie wiffle league, Matt would definitely be drafted in the first round.

Tom Polseno AKA Tom (Braves) - He is a true student of the game. You will usually see Tom quietly observing opposing pitchers as he learns their tendencies.    Another great hitter, he is flirting with the .400 mark at the break.  He was the pre-season MVP candidate as the message board buzz proclaimed he was a  "Tall skinny guy hittin' bombs, pitchin' like a crazy man."   

Jim Renneberg AKA The OTHER Jim  (Twins) - The "other Jim" also has a respectable bat. He is second in average and after watching him play against the Braves, it was clear to see why opposing pitchers respect him.   He is considered the Twins' ace (though that isn't saying much) but his record (1-2) does not reflect his true abilities on the mound.

Cy Wiffle - Awarded to the league's top pitcher
Truck (Royals) -  As stated in the MVP section, Truck is almost unhittable. He has a back door curveball and a side arm "low inside" fastball that freezes hitters.  His dominance in nearly every pitching category attests to the fact that this guy is the real deal.  The Cy Wiffle will be his award to lose in the second half of the season.

Other Notables:
Mathis (A's) -  Not as dominating as the other "Ace" pitchers in the league.  However, it is hard to argue with his results. His WHIP is a low 0.95 and runs are hard to come by against him.

Greg Lund:   Arrrrrgh!

Greg Lund AKA The Pirate (A's) -  Another solid pitcher, The Pirate is 4-1 and just plain refuses to walk anybody.  Though finally giving up a walk last week, he still leads the league giving up 1/5 of a walk per 6 innings (that's right…a fraction!). It will probably be several more weeks before he gives up another free pass. Unfortunately, injury problems have hampered the crusty old sea-dog this season.  If his hamstring holds up, look for Greg to make a push at the award this second half.

Shirls:  HRLTC's first no-hitter

Bryan Shirley AKA Shirls (Phillies) - Coming off the only no-hitter of the year, all eyes are focused on Shirls.  Having only allowed 8 hits is 19 innings pitched, if Shirls could just get his walk total down, he would be a shoe-in for the Cy.  While his teammate Kelly "Peeks" Pieklo distracts everyone with his crazy antics, Shirls just gets things done. He has won 2 of his 3 starts. 

Josh Cota (Yankees) - Despite (or maybe because of) his on the field grunting Cota has risen to the top of the league leader board in strikeouts.  Cota's much debated fastball has helped him average almost 8 Ks per 6 innings and keep his ERA among the league's best. His only weakness appears to be light beer and being distracted by the chance to be interviewed by the Star-Trib.

Dr. Junkenstein

Joe Lawrence (Brewers) - Not wanting to be "fascists" and throw too fast, Joe has kept his steady diet of junk working for him thus far. The workhorse of the league, Joe has a league high 30 1/3 innings pitched and is 6-0 in 6 starts.  Despite giving up 10 homeruns, Joe's "buckle down when it counts" attitude has kept the Brewers in contention for the league title.  Known as Dr. Junkenstein by his closest friends, the highlight of the first half was striking out Truck looking on his nasty curveball.    

Keep your eye on:
Rick Eddy AKA The Rick (Royals) - Having only made 2 appearances (One in relief) so it is hard to draw conclusions, but he is 2-0 so look out.

 

 

 

Larry: Relaxing on the OF wall after making all 18 putouts in one game.

Sticky Paw – Awarded to the top defensive player
Larry Storey AKA Human Vacuum (A's)
- This list needs only one name on it.  A big reason the A's have won 7 straight is the defense of this guy.  Unassuming and mild-mannered, Larry turns into Superman in the field snagging line drives and sharply hit balls like a Hoover leaving many frustrated batters in his wake. Who knew that defense matters in wiffleball?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim West is an HRL:TC writer as well as a player for the Brewers.  Comments or questions can be addressed to Jim at the Message Board.

Posted in: HRL

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