SL playoff berth, Norris title at stake on final day

The 2016 PGBL season enters its final day with one division championship and one playoff berth still up for grabs, with the Las Vegas Gamblers and Compton Outlawz vying for the final South League wild card.

Las Vegas holds a one-game lead on Compton, with the Gamblers due to pitch Lance Lynn against Twin City while the Outlawz send Chris Archer out against Louisville. Compton needs to win and have the Truckers play spoiler to force a one-game playoff at Las Vegas.

Whichever team earns the spot will grab the No. 4 seed in the SL behind Oakland, St. Louis and Tijuana. The Athletes charged to the best record in the league, clinching the Cactus Division and the top overall seed with ease. St. Louis outdistanced the field in the Confederate Division and Tijuanja retooled at the deadline to hold on to the first wild card spot.

In the North League, the season-long battle royale in the Norris Division will end with all three contenders separated by one game. Boston and Cleveland sit at 98-63 entering the final day, while Chicago finished at 98-64 and claimed the No 4 seed as the second wild card.

The Tribe hold the head-to-head tiebreaker and host last-place Pittsburgh, while the Braves entertain Maple Leaf Division champion Ottawa. Cleveland and Boston will square off in the first round of the playoffs, with the division winner getting home field advantage.

The other first-round matchups will see the Argonauts facing the Cardinals, the Clydesdales battling the Tequila Swiggers and the Athletes drawing either Las Vegas or Compton.

On the opposite side, Twin City, Flagstaff and London have secured the top three slots in the draft order. While Brooklyn is locked into the No. 10 spot, the rest of the order remains to be finalized.





Midseason notes: Braves hit All-Star break atop Norris

After three consecutive last-place finishes, the Boston Braves are more than half way to a worst-to-first turnaround.

The Braves, who won a total of 66 games over the past two seasons, reached the All-Star Break at 53-33 to hold a 3 1/2-game lead over Cleveland and 5 1/2 in front of Chicago in the Norris Division race.

Rookie slugger Kyle Schwarber has been the star of the Braves’ offense, with 19 homers and a .313 average – almost exclusively against right-handed pitchers. Danny Valencia checks in with team highs of 21 homers and 64 RBIs while hitting at a .280 clip.

Across the way in the NL, the Ottawa Argonauts have shot to a 14 1/2-game lead in the Maple Leaf Division. Infield stars Josh Donaldson and rookie Carlos Correa each have 20 homers already, while Taijuan Walker boasts an 11-2 record.

Meanwhile, the Oakland Athletes continue their dominance in the SL, bolting to a 70-15 mark that has put the 23-year-old league record of 130 wins within striking distance. The Athletes all but have the Cactus League crown secured with Las Vegas 26 1/2 games back.

Oakland’s Zack Greinke leads the league with a 15-0 record and a 1.82 ERA while Dallas Keuchel follows close behind at 14-1 and 2.58. Paul Goldschmidt has his sights trained on a possible SL Triple Crown, leading the way with a .338 average and 95 RBIs. His 25 homers are second in the SL, five behind Tijuana’s Jose Bautista.

Not to be forgotten, the defending champion St. Louis Clydesdales are up 5 1/2 games in the Confederate Division as they attempt to win a third straight division crown. Rookie outfielder Randal Grichuk has shined with a .303 average and 19 homers.

Among other individual leaders, Chicago has three different players pacing the NL in the Triple Crown categories: Nick Markakis hitting .356; Giancarlo Stanton with 33 homers and Mike Trout with 73 RBIs.

The Cardinals’ Gerrit Cole owns a 2.16 ERA while Cleveland’s Michael Pineda has the NL’s best record at 13-1. Toronto’s Max Scherzer has the inside track to the strikeout title with 170; Louisville’s Jake Arrieta tops the SL in punchouts with 128 to go along with an 11-4 record and a 2.20 ERA.

Whirlwind offseason sees Marte traded for third time

Outfielder Starling Marte became a well-traveled player in short order since the PGBL draft. In a span of three weeks, Marte has been on four different teams.

The reigning champion St. Louis Clydesdales acquired Marte and Kelly Johnson from Las Vegas in exchange for Ian Kinsler and Marwin Gonzalez. Marte had been with the Gamblers for just over a week after being part of a six-player deal with Boston.

The Braves sent Marte, Andrew Heaney, Chase Anderson and a draft pick to Las Vegas in exchange for Stephen Piscotty, Adam Warren and Byung Ho Park.

In late November, Boston acquired Marte from Twin City along with Rusney Castillo and Bartolo Colon for a package of six players and two picks headlined by Yasmany Tomas, Kendall Graveman and A.J. Cole.

Marte is coming off a strong season with the Truckers. He hit .300 with 20 homers and 71 RBIs while stealing 55 bases and scoring 106 runs, second in the South League to MVP Jose Altuve of Oakland.

Champion Clydesdales ship Puig to London

Fresh off their first PGBL World Series championship, the St. Louis Clydesdales made the Jason Heywardfirst move of the offseason, trading outfielder Yasiel Puig to London for outfielder Jason Heyward, infielder Rougned Odor and three future high draft picks.

Puig hit .292 with 15 homers and 73 RBIs in the regular season for St. Louis, but only hit .230 with 5 RBIs and no homers in the postseason run. As a rookie in 2014, he hit .337 with 25 homers and 110 RBIs.

Heyward hit .269 over 4 1/2 seasons with the Arsenal, averaging 16 homers and 66 RBIs. Odor has yet to make his PGBL debut. London also set a 3rd round pick in 2017, a 2nd in 2019 and a 1st in 2020 to St. Louis.

Clydesdales top Cobras in five games for 1st PGBL title

2015 STL champsAdrian Beltre homered twice off Corey Kluber and Hisashi Iwakuma pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings as the St. Louis Clydesdales captured their first PGBL Championship with a 4-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Cobras in Game 5 of the World Series at Busch Stadium.

Tom Wilhelmsen retired the final four Cobras batters for the Clydesdales, the Confederate Division champions who rallied from a 2-1 SLDS deficit to Dublin before topping top-seeded Oakland in a six-game SLCS.

1 2