After the excitement of the pre-season roster selection and a rollercoaster Opening Day, reality has set in for our two British-based expansion teams as they quickly settled into the grind of everyday baseball. Let’s see where things stand on May 1st, with both teams playing 34 games to date…
For both teams, the opening month has been a bit of a learning experience.
After a 5-3 start to the season – capped off by a 21-4 mauling of the Blue Jays, the Softies have slipped a bit, losing seven in a row at one point (swept by the Mariners and Rangers) and falling six games back of the Yankees in the division standings.
That being said, a +16 run differential is nothing to sniff at and a 6-6 record within the division suggests they will be competitive.
The Powerhouse got off to a disastrous 0-4 start to the season – they were the last team to pick up a win in the Majors – but have since turned it around impressively. They won nine of their next ten to go to 9-5, with a sweep by the Dodgers the only other major blemish in the opening month.
Five games separate first and last in the ultra-tight NL East, with the Powerhouse’s +19 run differential leading the division and suggesting that the Manchester-based team will be hanging with the big boys later this year.
Elsewhere in the Majors, the Angels and Twins have been the two standout teams in the opening month of play, both posting run differentials over +50, whilst the Padres and Marlins are the surprise packages early doors, both looking much better than their 2019 counterparts. A long way to go still mind you!
On the batting side of things, both British-based rosters lean on the production of a couple of key players. In the case of the Softies, Dax Brutlebutch‘s 12 home runs are tied for the Major League lead and a low BABIP suggests the batting average will come round too. Catcher Tyler Constable is an on-base machine behind the plate whilst outfielder Laurie Asa must be wondering what more he has to do earn consistent playing time (1.171 OPS in 35 PAs).
The Powerhouse have got two MVP candidates anchoring the lineup, with Danger McRock killing the ball to the tune of a .303/.370/.606 triple-slash and Billy ‘Bigman’ McDonald compiling an extraordinary 23:10 BB:K ratio and 158 OPS+ on his way to player of the week honours.
Glove-first second baseman John McGee ranks second in the Majors behind Andrelton Simmons in Zone Rating, whilst his walk-heavy slap-hitting approach (three XBH in 125 PA) has him putting up a bizarro .225/.360/.255 slash line despite an 0-15 start to the season.
On the pitching side, it has been tough going for the Softies, with the home run ball in particular hurting Cannonball Titcomb IV and Richard Addy – although 18-year old sensation Max Gamarra and Scottish flamethrower David McLeod look like a formidable one-two combination at the back end of the bullpen.
Powerhouse have had a big season so far from their rotation despite the loss of ace Hugh Saunders to a rotator cuff strain (expected back in action in a week or so). Nick Owen and Tom Wilson have been the standout starters, with Darius Austin and Jamie Gregory rounding out a strong top four. The start of the season so far came at the end of the month, from Wilson:
Elsewhere in the league, youngster Max Manoff has enjoyed a sensational opening month with the Phillies, the 18-year old looking very comfortable indeed at the big league level on his way to the opening Rookie of the Month award. For those that take an interest in these kinds of things, Mike Trout has put up a .296/.452/.469 line and 1.7 WAR through his season’s first 30 games.
Well you hate to linger on the guys not living up to expectations but scrutiny is the name of the game on these rosters and some players are just not pulling their virtual weight.
Steve Klein has endured a miserable start to life on the Softies, with a 41 OPS+ but he continues to run out in center field and doesn’t appear at risk of losing any playing time. He does however, have the look and morale of a man who is very, very angry.
Paddy Johnston has also endured a difficult April in the Softies’ pen. Of his nine outings in the month, he was able to escape just one without giving up a run leading to a bloated 17.28 ERA which the 9:9 K:BB ratio suggests might not be such a fluke after all. Much like his teammate Klein, the poor performances seem to be getting to him.
For the Powerhouse, Ichiro Griffey looks like a version of his namesakes if they attempted comebacks today – and even that feels harsh on the pair of left-handed Hall of Famers. A 93 OPS+ is doing his push for more playing time no favours, although with just the four starts this season it’s hard to hold his lack of consistency against him.
In the pen, Een Mabelli and Moose White have blown six saves between them, meaning some guy called Bradley Roney is now closer despite a 13.50 ERA and 4:7 K:BB ratio. One senses some back-end help may be on the cards for the Northern side.
The Tom Pringle experience deserves a paragraph all of its own. A disastrous Opening Day was followed up by a couple of scoreless outings but the Powerhouse nonetheless opted to waive the left-hander, at which point he was snapped up by Southern Softies becoming the first ever player to represent both teams (within a week of the first ever season for the franchises).
His 13.50 ERA with Northern has improved with Southern, where his 9.00 mark across 10 outings has seen him demoted to the role of ‘lefty specialist’ – a baffling decision given his 12 hits allowed across seven innings against southpaws. Absolutely stealing a living.
This article’s author Ben Carter has been among a number of players demoted to the Minors, including Joe Francis, George Martin (both iterations), Liam Happe, Jack Brown, Jason Bohn, Jo Lenton, Phil Grant and Biggsy. I’m of the opinion that long bus journeys are a part of baseball’s charm but if anyone hates the idea of stewing at AAA then let me know and I can give your stats a boost (all legal of course) to get you back in the Majors.
In Free Agency news, all of our players released into the world have now signed with a team! If your player is NOT on the above rosters and you’d like to see your stats, please find your player’s screenshot in the album here.
Andy Cooper -> Southern Softies
Cam Luke -> Miami Marlins
Max Manoff -> Philadelphia Phillies
Matthew Baldwin -> Los Angeles Dodgers
Lexander Wist -> Los Angeles Angels
Tomi Korkeamaki -> Chicago White Sox
Mark Smith -> Cincinnati Reds
Russell Keddie -> Los Angeles Dodgers
Sosa Banks -> Texas Rangers
Steve Hunter -> Minnesota Twins (AAA)
Ian Blease -> Boston Red Sox
In other news… Brian Somers was DFA’d by Southern but then picked up by the Astros. Nathan Quinlan put up a 461 OPS+ (3 PAs) and was demoted by Southern. Danger McRock hit a walk-off three-run jack against Milwaukee. Billy McDonald had a three-homer game vs Milwaukee.
And finally, in sad news, beloved 57-year old reliever DJ Tait announced that this season would be his last, despite the fact that it is actually his first. Stunning given his 14.7 K/9 so far this season.
So that’s that for the first month in a wild 2020 season. As always, if you’d like to know anything about your players then do just drop me a DM, and if you have any suggestions for what you might like to see recap-wise moving forward then drop a comment below!