2018 in Review
2018 – The Year of the Shockwave
As 2018 opened for SABL, with the first full season in the rear view mirror, players wondered what the summer would bring. The pitching was greatly improved from years prior, with returning aces Bruce Leto Jr. and Rick Tull in the mix alongside newcomers such as Ryan McGee, Kabreeze Sheed, and Victor Alicea, and hitters around the league could no longer count on lengthy appearances by non-pitchers to pad their stats. As the batsmen prepared to tighten their belts for the upcoming season, one league veteran had another idea: treat pitchers like his personal pitching machine all season long. Launching into the spring on a major hot streak, James Clark quickly established himself with an average in the .600s and an OPS well into the 1.000s. He couldn’t possibly keep that up though, could he?
Defying the odds, Clark terrorized pitchers all season long, with his season peak being a 5/6 game with two doubles and a triple. Try what they may, pitchers found it virtually impossible to get Clark out all year, taking until the very final game of the season to finally force an ofer on the Black Dynamite and drop his average all the way down to a freezing cold .563. With that level of production under his belt going into awards season, Clark was set to pick up some serious hardware, and he did. Taking home the 2018 MVP award, Clark made certain that 2018 would forever go in the books as the Year of the Shockwave.
Hot on his heels for most of the season were the dual power-speed threats of Ryan McGee and Bruce Leto, each of whom also struck hard and fast and produced OPSes well over 1.000. League newcomer Marc Moretti was also able to bat .370 on the strength of his excellent bat control and contact abilities, providing a quality option as the #2 hitter all season long. Dio Perez, another rookie to the league, produced an OBP of .597 en route to an excellent overall season. Other standouts with the bat included Dan Migliore and his .633 OBP, as well as Tom Quirk and his .423 BA. John O'Hara, another newcomer, showed that Father Time was not his daddy by hitting .311 and playing quality defense all over the diamond alongside fellow graymane and team doctor Lou Petrone, both over the age of 50 but with plenty left in the tank.
On the mound, a number of quality arms stepped forward as expected, and starting pitching quickly became a strength of the league. Rookies Victor Alicea and Kabreeze Sheed each provided well over a strikeout an inning, while established ace Bruce Leto allowed only TWO earned runs all season, generating an 0.86 ERA. Late in the season, eventual 2019 MVP Finalist Zack Crosby also made his debut, fanning 18 batters in 9 innings of work and taking the league by storm with his ability to miss bats.
2018 SABL served as a proof of concept for the boys in red. After a strong but at times turbulent 2017, and the infancy of the league in 2016, league personnel and the players stepped up and put in the effort necessary to grow the league and stabilize it. As August came and went, and the regular season ended, the Angels had done it, They had put SABL on the map, and it would be only upward from there.