Season 14 Recap: Jackson posted its 6th straight 100-win season, taking the division easily for the 9th time in 10 years. Nashville jumped 17 wins (to 92) and Little Rock notched its 8th straight 90-win season, while Richmond fell just below .500 for the first time since Season 11. Nashville lost in the first playoff round; Jackson advanced to the WS but lost to Oakland, 4-2. On the awards front, Little Rock's Geoff Sosa won his 2nd straight FOY.
Season 14 Rankings: Runs - 5th, Team ERA - 1st, Fielding % - 1st
Is the division gaining on the Holes? Their numbers are pretty much the same across the board as last year, but instead of leading by 10, they trail the Pebbles by 4 and 1/2. They've been a little unlucky - their expected wins is 49 - but they're still solidly in an interesting race.
On offense, Wilson Costello ranks 5th in OPS in the AL; Carlos Manzanillo is 19th and Don Burns is 22nd. 4 starters are in the top 25 in ERA: Johnny Collier (1), Carlos Ramirez (20), Del Mendoz (24), Darryl McCorley (25).
NASHVILLE MUSIC CITY RAMBLERS
Season 14 Rankings: Runs - 4th, Team ERA - 10th, Fielding % - T 6th
The Ramblers are just 2.5 back at the half, thanks to a league-leading 485 runs scored. Rookie CF Emil Morales (.375 OBP) could be on the ROY ballot, 3B Bruce Post is having a second straight career year (.312/17/52), and RF Lance Reed (.340/26/95) is probably the first-half MVP (leads the majors in both HR and RBI).
LITTLE ROCK PEBBLES
Season 14 Rankings: Runs - 10th, Team ERA - 3rd, Fielding % - 13th
FA signee Sammy Reyes seems rejuvenated in Little Rock, leading the team in average (.304), HR's (19) and RBI (60). On the pitching side, Geoff Sosa (2.66, 20-of-23 saves) is up to his usual, while Pedro Gonazalez (8-2, 3.12), Derrek Betemit (8-4, 3.28), and Vin Amaro (6-4, 3.38) form a tough front 3 in the rotation.
RICHMOND POOR MEN
Season 14 Rankings: Runs - 8th, Team ERA - 5th, Fielding % - T 4th
The Poor Men are riding big seasons from some key players into AL South contention. 2B Thomas Cruz wasn't exactly bad last year - 40 points under his career OPS (.872 vs career .912). But he's come roaring back this year (.334/17/72) and could be a factor in the MVP race. RF Daniel Gallagher broke in with an .819 OPD is Season 13, but fell off to .719 last year. So far this looks like his big breakout - at .350/10/50 he's gunning for his first 100 RBI year. With 20 wins and a 3.17 ERA last year, it's hard to criticize Charlie Cosby's Season 14. But he had 12 losses, and a lot of those were poor outings on his part. The ERA's down 60 points (2.57) this year, and he only has 3 losses with 9 wins.
This is the tightest race in Belle at the half, and could go to any of the 4 teams. Look for some major wheeling and dealing at the deadline by AL South teams, with Nashville looking for pitching, Little Rock looking for hitting, and Richmond and Jackson looking for an edge anywhere they can find it.