2017 NBL Playoff Predictions (Round 1)

Congrats to all the teams that made it and good luck!

2017 NBL Playoff Predictions (Round 1)


Detroit Keys to Victory
– Leadership of Jose Roldan (9.1 WAR in a season is 2nd all-time to only Greg Farrell)
– Batting Power (power spread throughout the lineup, 2nd in HR EC)
– Find success vs Left-Handed SP (17-27 vs LHP starters, 71-39 vs RHP starters)

Carolina Keys to Victory
– Work past injuries (J. Elkington, T. Wilton, R. Martinez)
– Strong Pitching (led almost all pitching categories for EC, ERA, Hits Allowed, Opp AVG)
– Steal games on the road (54-23 at home, 42-35 on the road)

– Carolina comes into this series winning the division for the first time after finishing 2nd three of the four previous years. The Cherokees are a little banged up but this shouldn’t hold them back from being the favorites to win this series. The Bombers live up to their name by having the ability to hit home runs throughout their line up. This is Detroit’s first winning season along with their first playoff birth and they have a healthy team. However, Carolina’s pitching staff and bullpen should lead them past the hard hitting Bombers.

Prediction = Carolina in 6


Pittsburgh Keys to Victory
– Keep the score low (2nd in ERA EC, 1st HR allowed EC, 2nd Opp AVG EC)
– Maximize hitting potential (low in most EC hitting stats after leading the previous years)
– Fill defensive gaps of injured players (OF B. Bryant, SS C. Bacon)

Boston Keys to Victory
– Get on-base (1st in EC + Thurman’s record setting year for .396 AVG, .477 OBP, 237 hits, 194 singles)
– Confident pitching (stats don’t represent BOS pitching skill level, very good rotation)
– Ride strong conclusion to season (won last 7 of 8)

– This will be the third year in a row Pittsburgh meets the defending champs in the first round of the playoffs. Pittsburgh, who sneak in to the playoffs last minute, is looking to advance past the first round for the first time, while Boston looks to be the first team to repeat as champions of the NBL. Boston is a well-rounded team with no glaring weaknesses. Pittsburgh will have to play their best to advance past the defending champs.

Prediction = Boston in 6


Denver Keys to Victory
– Don’t give up the long ball (10th in WC for HRs allowed with 205)
– Solid Hitting (no one in the lineup with less than .281 avg, 6 players above .300)
– Capitalize on opportunities

San Francisco Keys to Victory
– Pitchers, keep doing what their doing (1st in WC in every pitching category(ERA, Runs/Hits Allowed, Opp AVG, etc.) except BBs, which they are 2nd)
– Tire out Denver starters, get to their bullpen (1st in WC for walks)
– Don’t become too confident, continue to play hard

– San Francisco is the only team to have five seasons with 100 wins or better and I think this is their best lineup. They have yet to win a championship, but I believe they are the favorites to win this year. Denver has done a complete 180 with their team after losing 99 games the previous year, but they have their work cut out for them. Even with a few injuries to their pitching staff, I believe San Francisco controls the games and advances.

Prediction = San Francisco in 5


Arizona Keys to Victory
– Power Hitting (1st HR WC, 5 players with +24 HRs, Tied 1st Runs Scored)
– Dominant SP (two 20 game winners, 2nd ERA WC)
– Utilizing the revenge of last year’s loss to perform at an even higher level

Chicago Keys to Victory
– Frustrate Marsh/Bailey and ARI SPs (1st in AVG, OBP, Runs Scored)
– Slugging (4 players with 34+ HRs, brutal lineup)
– Consistency (ability to win road games, one run games)

– A rematch of last year’s first round between Arizona and Chicago, with Chicago winning last year. John Marsh struggled vs the Blues during his only start (7.2 IP, 10 hits, 2 BBs, 7.04 ERA) but he will look for redemption for last years loss. Both teams are well-rounded as this looks for a terrific first round matchup with some nailbitters. I believe this series comes down to the matchup of Marsh and Bailey against the slugging Blues lineup. Tough call, but I will have to go with Chicago’s depth in their lineup as the deciding factor.

Prediction = Chicago in 7


Colorado Team Receives Full Makeover

Written By: Dave Parks

The Colorado Rams have now become the DENVER GRIZZLIES!!!

After much debate about Relocation, as well as many lengthy discussions with Governors and City Councils regarding Stadium deals in New Orleans Louisiana, Oklahoma City Oklahoma, Reykjavik Iceland, Omaha Nebraska, and Kansas City Kansas, In the end a deal was reached with the State of Colorado and the City of Denver for the team to remain where it began, with promises of Stadium Renovation for a full remodel to a more pitcher friendly park and a new name and identity that has a little more bite and appeal to the fan base.

“It was our preference all along to remain home, but we did not have any cooperation initially from the city of Denver or the state of Colorado in making headway. It took embarking and an exploration committee making real headway towards a relocation to grease the wheels of bureaucracy at the higher levels and get a deal done to remain home.

Renaming the team with the local City of Denver was critical to our improved fan relations and attendance, ” GM Dave Parks said, “as many locals felt that a Colorado named team alienated the locals with the feeling the Rams had been a State owned team that was dumped in their back yard. The Grizzlies also gives us a strong name with a Powerful Mascot who is prominent both in the Colorado region and throughout the rocky mountain region. We wanted an Identity change, and this has given us exactly that, while not changing our roots and foundation. Its an extreme makeover, with a cosmetic makeover to our name and a real makeover to our stadium, which will not completely take us away from our thin air roots, as it will still be one of the most offense friendly parks in the NBL, but it will not ne a nightmare for pitchers either. Modeled after the old Camden Yards, the Stadium will be named the “The Grizzlies Lair at Mile High”, and the team colors will be Black and Red, with even a little yellow trim around Black lettering on the road and alternate Jerseys. We are happy to have re-invented ourselves and we are thrilled that it comes at a time when we are also re-inventing ourselves on the field. We put some distance between bad contracts and bad players over the past season, and pairing a few free agent signings this offseason, plus last seasons offseason additions, a key trade, and the arrival of much of our young talent, we anticipate a new day for our franchise as we embark in our new direction!”

When Asked how the team arrived at the new moniker, Parks responded “In deciding on the Grizzlies, we hired several pollsters to do polling with a number of different names, including the Blizzard, Grizzlies, Moose, Mountaineers, and Centennials. The Grizzlies came out on top of the polls, with the highest rating among fans from the 12-17 and 18-45 Age groups, where the Blizzard and Moose placed 2nd and third, and Grizzlies 2nd in the 46-65 and 66+ Age groups, where the Mountaineers(46-65) and Centennials (66+) each finished first. The Grizzlies also finished tied for 1st with the moose in the under 12 fan base category, so in addition to being having the broadest appeal across the different demographics, it also connects us to the younger and future generations of Grizzlies fans! The Grizzlies also gives us a strong name with a Powerful Mascot who is prominent both in the Colorado region and throughout the rocky mountain Region to keep us connected to a larger fanbase beyond the state of Colorado and maybe helps brings more fans from throughout the rocky mountain region to visit more games!”

It will be an interesting season as the Grizzlies embark on a new journey…..especially as rumors from Vegas put the franchise as a possible favorite to win the Western Conference Midwest Division, after 4 consecutive last place finishes, a worst – to- first finish would certainly be noteworthy even if they fall short of the ultimate prize!!

Arizona Breaks Camp with 6 Rookies

Written By: Mike McLachlin

The Arizona Rattlers won 107 games last year, but that didn’t stop them from turning over a significant portion of their line up, with 9 new faces on the opening day roster for the upcoming season, including 6 rookies.

Of the new players, the one counted on the most will be veteran starter Lorenzo Martinez, but the club also expects big things from first year catcher Phil Nichols.

The club will have a pair of 29 year old rookies. Francisco Cintron came from overseas last year and signed a minor league contract before getting time late in the year as an injury call up. Reliever Dino DiDomenico demonstrates that perseverance pays off. After four productive seasons with Arizona’s triple A club, DiDomenico will finally get his chance, beating out several pitchers with prior experience for the final bullpen spot.

Rounding out the rookie class are utility man Juan Cintron, back up outfielder Rod Puckett and last, but not least, the club’s top prospect in Tom Carter. Carter earns his place with a strong spring and an injury to Francisco Berrera. Could this be a five week audition for the young starter?

“We had other, more experienced options, but we thought this would be a good chance to see how close the kid is to being ready” said the GM. Carter will get a chance to prove he should stay, even after Berrera returns from the DL.

Bush to Retire?

Written By: Mike B.

Cleveland Owls LF Eric Bush was injured vs. the Cherokees on Friday and his NBL career may be over.

Bush crashed hard into the outfield wall while attempting to make a play and was knocked unconscious. He was taken to Sarasota General Hospital where tests revealed he fractured his skull. Doctors have since recommended he not play baseball any longer or risk further and more severe brain injury.

Bush was drafted in the 4th round of the inaugural draft by Cleveland and proceeded to dominate pitchers ever since. He was named batter of the month 4 times to go along with 3 All-Star selections and in 2013 was named the EC’s Most Outstanding Hitter. He retires as the league’s all time HR leader with 182 bombs and holds the season record for HRs with 59. The next honor for the Miami Beach native may be a trip to the NBL Hall of Fame as the league’s first ever inductee.

Mike Allen Fractures Eye Socket, Attacked by…?

Mike Allen, of the Washington Grays, will have to wait approximately 9 months to play baseball, due to a fractured eye socket. How did he obtain this injury? By a frickin’ shark! Yes, that isn’t a typo or misprint. A damn shark.

The details of the incident are very vague, but apparently Mike Allen was surfing before the game with New York and was attacked by shark. Mike Allen and Washington have yet to make a statement.

Closer Rod Graham, signs hefty one-year deal worth $8 million, Chicago Blues

Chicago continued their closer debate by re-signing Rod Graham today. Graham has been the closer for the Blues for the last three years, however, an extension was not negotiated during the season. Some have speculated his decrease in stats each year has been the cause for the hesitation but it is likely Graham wanted to test the market to gauge his value.

This right-hander has relied on his cutter for success, but has a imitating forkball as well. Over the four years spent with Chicago, he has pitched 324.1 IPs, 26 wins, 113 saves, 2.89 ERA, 429 Ks (11.9 K/9), and gained a total of 7.2 WAR.

Newly acquired Holden Smith, from Dallas, and the longtime Chicagoan, Rod Graham, appear to be the frontrunners for the closer role.

SP Haywood Wilhelm, now Atlanta General, signs one-year, $2 million deal

The Atlanta Generals added some depth to their pitching rotation by signing veteran starter, Haywood Wilhelm. Scouts have stated he has one of the best fastballs in the league and has the potential to make any batter miss.

This will be Wilhelm’s fourth team, as he has played with PIT, MIN, and had the most success with Philadelphia back in 2013-2014. His NBL totals in 122 games/775.1 IP are 42/48 win/loss ratio, 4.63 ERA, 920 Ks (10.7 K/9), and a total 12.3 WAR gained.

SP Eric Smith is the projected opening day starter, but veterans Wilhelm and Ramsey could overtake that role during spring training.