At the end of the 7th season of the Santa Clara Classmates under the helm of Marsrover21, let us examine how well (or poorly) the team faired.
* For the fourth time in as many seasons, the Classmates are going to the playoffs. Despite having the second best record in franchise history, the Classmates will again have to play in the first round. Hopefully, this year's team will fair better than last season's early round exit. And with a healthy Tanyon Walls, there is no reason to think they can't get past the first round.
* Rookie sensation Bart Martin was as good as advertised, and currently sits as the favorite for ROY voting. Martin put up fantastic numbers in his first full season, going .295/.361/.557 with 32 dingers, 46 doubles, 62^ stolen bases (vs. just 11 CS) and 102 RBIs. He is also an MVP candidate, and a Silver Slugger at third base.
* Another player making his ML full-season debut was Al Reid. Although he did not show up with as much fanfare as Martin, Reid was for the bullpen what Martin is for the offense. Indeed, Reid currently shows as second in ROY contention. As solid a closer as is in the league, Reid finished the year with 84.1 innings pitched, 32 saves (vs. 37 opportunities), 1.17 WHIP, 3.20 ERA, and 78 Ks. A big closer is what this team was looking for last year, and so far Reid has been a big upgrade.
* Tanyon Walls was again fantastic. After a down first season with the Classmates, Walls has run off three-straight .300 AVG seasons with an OPS of at least .950. Walls (along with Martin) was one of two players on the team to join the 30/30 club this season going 36/31. His fielding pct. improved for the second straight season to a very respectable .989. Although he will never win an MVP in the pitcher's friendly Municipal Stadium, Walls is again in contention for the award. And why not? Afterall, no other SS in the league will give you .300/30/30 and a .989 fielding pct.
* Ismael Ordonez was probably the most pleasant surprise on the team. Acquired at the beginning of the year from the Tacoma Lynx, Ordonez set career highs in HRs (51^), RBIs (149^), BBs (54), and OPS (.971^). Ordonez was worth it, and then some. However, with a career low 19 2Bs, look for some of those HRs to turn into two-baggers next season. Let's just hope they stay HRs throughout the playoffs.
* Defense. Led by two-time Gold-Glover Alfonso Pujols, the Classmates were second in fielding percentage (.991), and led the league in + plays by a wide margin (52). Pujols led the league with 28.
* Speed. The Classmates were second in league stolen bases behind the Rainers (the departing deanroy team had an amazing 494, while the Classmates had a much more humbling 238). The Classmates had a very respectable .758 steal percentage.
* Other role-players. Brian Torres, Hipolito Ferrer, and Felipe Rodriguez all played vital roles coming down the stretch playing only part-time. These players will again have to come up big in the playoffs for the Classmates to advance.
This was probably the best all-around team the Classmates have ever had throughout a full regular season. Although injuries to starting pitchers Randall Griffin and Einar Lee threatened to derail the season early, luckily the Classmates found some depth and were buoyed by great seasons from veteran pitchers Endy Messmer and Jaime Decker. Although neither has pitched particularly well in the playoffs before, the 'Mates are counting on them to push us into our first World Series. It is certain that this team can hit (for the first time in a long while). Now we are looking for them to win four straight series.
NOTE: "^" Denotes a franchise record.