2019 in Review
"The Year of the Pitcher"
The 2019 SABL season began after an eventful fall and winter season. Ardmore had seen an infusion of multiple talented players in the offseason, and the front office had made a promise to make the 2019 season bigger and better than ever. So, naturally, 2019 opened with league co-commissioner and Angels first baseman Tom Quirk being sworded in his left hand in a questionable incident at his cousin’s house in Delaware. The show must go on, however, and Ardmore began the 2019 season down one commissioner but up many new faces. Newcomers to the league included Eddie Costantini, Jensy Peralta, Zack Crosby, Jim Sharkey, Rob Thompkinson, Brian Rodriguez, Derrell O’Collymore, and Nate Helfrick. Late additions included Glenn Love Lucy, Perry Zanki, Brian Wurster, Mike Malloy, and Vincent Yarnell. Additionally, 2019 saw the return of former league regular Jake Flaschen, who immediately made an impact with his bat and glove.
After several years with less than infrequent high scoring games, 2019 proved to be an entirely different monster for the Ardmore gang, with pitchers running the show nearly wire to wire. Low scoring affairs became the norm, driven by elite arms such as Cy Young winner Jim Sharkey, commissioner Bruce Leto, and repeat MVP James Clark. However, it was far from just the aces who saw consistent success, with breakout hurlers Like Eddie Costantini and Ryan McGee consistently beating hitters and leading their teams to victory. Newcomers Zack Crosby and Vincent Yarnell flashed elite strikeout ability, posting a combined 55 whiffs in 39 frames.
2019 also saw the surprising emergence of Dio Perez as a force to be reckoned with on the mound. His 2018 season featured a few innings on the mound, mostly hit-or-miss, and onlookers could be forgiven for expecting the same results in 2019. But Dio had been working through the fall and winter, and come 2019 he had developed a secret weapon: SABL's first knuckleball based repertoire. Suddenly, "Felipe Niekro" transformed into a reliable arm, leading the league in innings pitched while flummoxing hitters all season long with his knuckler and silencing any doubters he may have had the season prior.
With so many strong arms on the mound, one could be forgiven for expecting offense to drop across the league, and for the most part it did. League OPS plummeted from .968 in 2018 all the way down to .855 in 2019, and many of Ardmore’s top hitters saw their lines drop similarly. However, even in these dark times, some hitters found a way. Kyle Malatesta hit like a man possessed in the early weeks of the season, racking up 6 doubles before the calendar turned to May and remaining the league XBH leader until well into the summer. Commissioner Bruce Leto took the opportunity to show the league that his improvements in 2018 were no fluke, electrifying his batting line even further to a 1.329 OPS. Hitters such as Zack Crosby, Rob Thompkinson, and Brian Rodriguez all turned in an OPS north of 1.000 as well, helping to round out the top hitters for the season.
Augmented by the new Weeknight Specials, as well as a surge of new players, SABL played an astonishing 33 regular season games, along with a number of other interleague and scrimmage games. Many of these games showcased the all-new, elite arms that entered the league in 2019, highlighted by August 8th’s Tull-Leto matchup, which ended in a 2-2 tie (groan) in which Tom Quirk and James Clark traded RBIs to tie the game up late.
Amazingly, 20 of the 33 Ardmore games in 2019 were decided by 3 runs or less, a stat which would have frankly been unthinkable in years past. Late innings grew tenser than ever, with pitchers facing tie games and narrow leads in almost every game and being forced to walk the tightrope more often than ever. However, baseball is at its best when it’s anyone’s game, and for one glorious year in Ardmore, baseball was at its best every time they took the field.
In what proved to be an inaugural season of Ardmore's "corollary" (but separate) league - Battle of the Cities - the following teams were featured in an intense "interleague" series:
Brooklyn Rat Cannons
- Managers voted on league policies, rules, game logistics, and awards in a completely democratic structure
- Results from the summer regular season were used to determine Fall Playoffs "leverage" standings
- Results, stats, and standings were kept on:
- Award-winners, voted on by each manager, from the regular season were as follows:
MVP: Bruce Leto, Jr.
Cy Young: Bruce Leto, Jr./Jim Sharkey
Silver Slugger: Jensy Peralta
Gold Gloves: Rick Tull; Kabreeze Sheed
Wolves did not qualify for playoffs (having only one win during the summer)
Rat Cannons lose to Vipers in Semi Finals; 5-4
Vipers Defeat Angels in Game One of Championship; 8-7
Angels Defeat Vipers in Game Two of Championship; 11-9
Angels Defeat Vipers in Game Three of Championship; 8-4
ANGELS ARE 2019 BOC CHAMPIONS!
Post Season MVPs: Jim Sharkey, Andrew Tustin, "Bucky", Nick Gatto