The power rankings for the GAP received a considerably positive reaction, so I figured it only fitting that the elite league of HBD get the same treatment. Every week (or so, depending on my schedule, as I am in my final year at college) I'll propose my view of the top 10 teams in all of Cooperstown, and it's up to all of you to tell me what I got right, and where I'm just dreaming. Don't worry, the Bomb Squad won't likely make much of a showing (as I don't want to be considered a homer!)...Enjoy!~Greg
1. Little Rock Travelers (20-6)
The AL South is widely compared to the AL East of Major League Baseball, and if that rings true, call Little Rock the New York Yankees (or Red Sox, if you're like me and refuse to give the Yankees and kind of credit for their overspending and constant obliteration of the rest of baseball). The Travelers have "charged" past Charleston and the rest of the AL South to take a commanding 7 game lead only 26 games in. Little Rock is paced at the plate by stud RF Benjamin Liniak who is simply smashing the ball at a rate of 10 HRs and 26 RBI.
2. Detroit Pink Slipped (20-6)
Similar to the Travelers, the boys of the steel city have already charged out to a big lead in their division. The rest of the NL North is struggling to keep pace, as Detroit is a franchise record 20-6 thus far, with dominance coming on both sides of the ball. The stats of C Ernest Truman will be tracked nationally all season, but the hidden gem of this team is the guys throwing 100 mph heat at Truman day in and day out. Angel Chavez has been lights out through 6 starts, compiling an ERA under 1.00 and firing a K nearly every inning. This team has the potential to truly dominate the league for years to come, so the rest of the NL North better take note and find a way to shut 'em up (or at least tone 'em down a bit).
3. St. Louis Saint Iffs (20-6)
Who are these guys, the New York Mets? Once again, the crafty St. Louis GM has compiled some kind of pitching staff, if only his lineup to come along to fully support it (this team may be 26-0 as we speak). Recently acquired 2B Felix Bale has been enfuego in the early goings of the season, hitting .330 and teaming with CF Roosevelt Richardson to lead the team in nearly every statistical category. Fred Schmidt is known by many as the "93 million dollar man", but should soon be referred to only as "One" for the place he will sit atop the league leaders in every pitching category except saves (which is reserved for teammate, and fellow billionaire Fred Chase).
4. Louisville Lemurs (18-8)
These cat-slashing monkey-like tree dwelling animals are the wild card of sorts so far in the young Cooperstown season. They don't seem to be ready to join the big 3, but they seem to draw the line between the top 3 and the rest of the league. They seem to compare favorably to the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA. Don't get me wrong, this is a great team with ALOT of potential, especially with a phenom pitcher like Hipilito Rios and a great young power hitter in Ramon Masato. They still have a ways to go before being considered an elite team, but don't rest on the Lemurs, as they definitely bite hard.
5. San Diego Fighting Pandas (15-11)
Considered a heavy favorite in the NL West going into the season, the Fighting Pandas (also commonly referred to as the San Diego "Whales Vaginas") can't be satisfied with only a one game lead in this early point of the season. San Diego is clearly outclassing the opposition, scoring 50 more runs than the other side, but can't seem to get it done when it matters. The Pandas are only 3-7 in one run games, and if the 2nd place Boise Bomb Squad keeps up those cardiac moments (8-1 so far), no division lead is safe. Iago Powell looks to have something to say about that, as he continues to punish division opponents and all comers to a tune of .318/7/24.
6. Durham Delirious Dukes (16-10)
Shigetoshi Aoki and the Delirious Dukes are leaving nothing to chance so far, winning big on good days, but losing big on the bad ones. Durham has been involved in only 5 one-run games, winning two, but has been more than impressive on their good days. A prime example would be yesterdays demolishing of the Bomb Squad, as Rodrigo Julio tossed a gem of a game, giving up only 4 hits and 1 run with 11 K's in 8 amazing innings. A couple days back, Pascual Trajano smoked a 480 ft game winning grand slam to victimize the Gothamites as well. If the good days can continue on a regular basis, Durham could be a force in the feisty NL South.
7. Trenton Thunder (16-10)
The NL East is going to be fun to watch, as Trenton is poised to sneak up on St. Louis if the Iffs aren't careful. If the Iffs are Cooperstown's version of the GAP Mets, then the Thunder would have to make up the GAP Atlanta Braves. When two of the top pitching staffs in the entire league rest in the same division, it is always a joy to behold. Trenton boasts the best bullpen in all of Cooperstown, giving up only 18 of Trenton's 89 earned runs, and only 13 if you don't count mopup pitcher Al Martin. New Jersey finally has something to be excited about, as even Vince Carter is coming down with a case of the "Thunder Fever", as he and teammate Richard Jefferson have been seen directly behind the Trenton bench at the last 4 home games.
8. Boston Red Sox (14-12)
The Lemurs may be the class of the AL East, but don't overlook the pesky Red Sox. Boston fields a powerful yet balanced lineup, led by Davey Hansen, who has yet to hit his stride, but has the potential to be one of the leagues top sluggers. The rotation isn't too shabby either, as young flamethrower Robbie Barnes has shot out of the gate with 5 amazing starts so far. This is by far the youngest team in contention, starting 4 pitchers under 26. There is a lot to be excited about in New England these days.
9. San Jose Siliconites (16-10)
San Jose is leading the rough and tumble AL West for now, but I'm guessing no lead in that division is safe. If anyone has anything to say about that, it's going to be Siliconite slugger Johnny Poole. Poole has fired off an AL leading 37 RBI to go with 10 homers thus far. He's getting a lot of help from 33 year old Patrick Kline, who's 4-1 record and sub-2.00 ERA has surprised his many critics who didn't really expect him to make the big league club this season.
10. San Antonio Stars (15-11)
Outspoken rookie Seth Nash said it best, "This team could win 100 games, then again, 100 losses wouldn't surprise me either." As the 21 year old goes, so do the Stars. The early ROY front-runner has been dynamite so far, hitting .333 with 9 HRs and 29 RBI through 26 games. Success may also rely on Nash's fellow rookie, SP Victor Plata who has not enjoyed the early success of his teammate. If Plata can turn it on every 5th game, things in San Antonio look very promising.