Tournaments : : Story
Friday, October 15, 2010

PG “National League” A Title Contender?

David Rawnsley        
The 85 team field for the WWBA World Championship starts in Jupiter, Florida, next Thursday. That got me to thinking about how an team of Jupiter alumni would do in that other big events happening right now in the baseball world, the National League and America League playoffs leading up to the World Series.

I’ve always been a National League fan and generally root for National League teams. I was born in Cincinnati, grew up in the Bay Area as a San Francisco Giants fan (never, never an A’s fan) and worked for the Astros for 9 years. So my first thought was to put together a Jupiter alumni team (just a Jupiter team, not a PG overall alumni team, have to stick with the theme) from NL franchises and see how it would compare to the Phillies or Giants, 2010 editions.

Here’s what I came up with.

Catcher: Buster Posey (SF) or Brian McCann (Atl): Both players came out of the East Cobb program and are the present and future of the catching position in the National League.

First Base: Joey Votto (Cin), Prince Fielder (Mil), James Loney (LA), Ike Davis (NYM): Another wealth of riches position on my National League Jupiter team. I remember watching Votto hit way back on one of the back Red fields in Jupiter in 2001, well before I went to work for Perfect Game.

Second Base: David Espinosa (Wash): Second base and shortstop are strangely lacking in big league prospects among Jupiter alumni and the American League isn’t going to offer much more (J.J. Hardy, Cliff Pennington) in the middle infield for my team. If I was the PG “National League” general manager I’d be moving one of my catchers, first baseman or third baseman (see below) for some middle infield talent. Hey Marlins, would you flip me Hanley Ramirez and Dan Uggla for Ryan Zimmerman, Ike Davis and Mike Minor?

Shortstop: Ian Desmond (Wash): See 2B comment.

Third Base: David Wright (NYM), Ryan Zimmerman (Wash), Pedro Alvarez (Pitt), Chris Johnson (Hou): You can’t go wrong here with this kind of talent. As the GM, my only regret is not of these players can play second base, let along shortstop.

Left Field: Jay Bruce (Cin), Cody Ross (SF): Bruce plays right field for the Reds but will have no problem playing left field on my team.

Centerfield: Justin Upton (Ariz), Dexter Fowler (Col), John Jay (StL), Andrew McCutcheon (Pitt): I’m moving outfielders again, as there is no reason that Justin Upton can’t play centerfield (and won’t hit better once he’s out of Arizona’s swing and miss lineup), at least physically. McCutcheon certainly wouldn’t be a negative second option.

Right Field: Jason Heyward (Atl): Heyward is the reason that Bruce and Upton are both moving from their present right field positions.

Designated Hitter: Some combination of Fielder, Zimmerman and the backup catcher: As a National League fan I’m obviously not a big DH fan but if you can have Prince Fielder or Ryan Zimmermann in your line up every day and are trying to beat the AL, why not?

Starting Pitching: LHP Clayton Kershaw (LA), RHP Matt Cain (SF), LHP Jonathan Sanchez (SF), RHP Yovani Gallardo (Mil), RHP Stephen Strasburg (Wash): The staff lacks a true present #1 guy to matchup with a Cliff Lee or C.C. Sabathia but there is no lack of future aces or present quality. The righty/lefty balance is nice, too.

Relief Pitching: RHP Jonathan Broxton (LA), LHP Jonny Venters (Atl), RHP Drew Storen (Wash), RHP Evan Meek (Pitt), RHP Tyler Clippard (Wash), RHP Chad Billingsley (LA); RHP Matt Capps fled the NL late in the season or he could be the closer instead of the struggling Broxton, but Broxton is too good not to recover and the rest of the pen is pretty close to closer level, too. I’d bet Billingsley would be very, very good out of the pen.

The Starting Lineup for the first game of the World Series for my “PG National League” team would look like this (assuming we’d be facing C.C. Sabathia). McCann and Fielder would be platoon starters at catcher and DH respectively against Phil Hughes in the second game.

CF Justin Upton (.273-17-69)
RF Jason Heyward (.277-18-72)
3B David Wright (.283-29-103)
1B Joey Votto (.325-37-113)
DH Ryan Zimmerman (.307-25-85)
LF Jay Bruce (.281-20-75)
C Buster Posey (.305-18-67)
SS Ian Desmond (.269-10-65)
2B David Espinosa (.214-6-15)
LHP Clayton Kershaw (13-10, 2.91, 212 K’s/204 IP)

Think the PG “National League” team would have a chance?

(Note: The American League team wouldn’t be as strong but would feature such players as RHP Zach Greinke, OF Delmon Young, RHP Brandon Morrow, LHP John Danks, OF Nick Markakis, OF B.J. Upton, OF Austin Jackson, 1B Billy Butler, RHP Matt Capps and C Matt Wieters)


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