After Record-Setting 2012 Season, Offensive Numbers Take Big Hit
The sample size is admittedly small—roughly the first week of the 2013 season—but it has become evident already that offense is back to normal in those summer-college leagues around the country that experienced a significant surge in home-run production a year ago.
In fact, it may be even less than experienced in 2011, if numbers to date are any indication.
The Cape Cod League, the nation’s highest-profile summer league, witnessed a significant uptick in offense a year ago, stemming ostensibly from a lack of quality control in the league’s Diamond Baseball. A total of 384 home runs were hit in 220 regular-season games a year ago by Cape League batters—more than double (159) the number of long balls from the same number of games in 2011. Predictably, earned run averages league-wide jumped from 3.31 to 4.29.
Through the first 22 games on the Cape this summer, just eight home runs had been hit. Moreover, the league ERA stood at 2.66.
The same kind of offensive re-trenching has taken place in other summer leagues that use the Diamond ball.
In the Florida Collegiate League, which saw a surge in home-run production from 34 in 118 games in 2011 to 158 in 120 games in 2012, the number hit through 26 games this season was just 12. The league-wide ERA in that league swelled from 3.86 two years ago to 5.00 last season, and has reverted to an overall 3.55 mark to date.
The New England Collegiate League has witnessed the same roller-coaster ride in offensive production. After spiking to 451 homers in 206 games in 2012, with a corresponding 5.23 ERA, the NECBL has seen a mere 19 homers in 41 games this season, along with a collective 3.16 ERA—numbers that were more in line with 2011.
Roughly 10 summer leagues use the Diamond ball, and the across-the-board aberration in offensive numbers a year ago was blamed on a harder inner core, which caused balls to jump off bats and travel greater distances. Diamond officials went to great measures after the 2012 season to assure that the texture of the ball would be the same this summer as in past years, and it appears that goal has been accomplished—at least, if the early returns are any indication.
Chatham Begins 2013 Season at No. 1
The Chatham Anglers have appeared in more championship series (14) that any Cape Cod League team in the last 50 years, but haven’t posted a winning record in the league since 2007. Could this year’s team end that drought?
The Anglers opened the 2013 season with five straight wins, and not only moved to the top of the Cape standings after the first week of play but have been installed as the No. 1 team in Perfect Game’s first ranking of the nation’s top 30 summer-league clubs.
Chatham not only has the best hitting team in the Cape to date, with a .281 team average (vs. .227 by its closest competitor), but the three pitchers who have secured their first five wins haven’t given up a run between them. Boston College lefthander Andrew Chin and Monmouth lefthander Andrew McGee were both 2-0, while USC-Upstate righthander Chad Sobotka was 1-0. Between them, they had tossed 16 scoreless innings.
With their hot start, the Anglers hope to avoid the same fate as a year ago, when they started out 4-1 and were ranked No. 4 in PG’s initial ranking of the 2012 season, only to go into a tailspin and finish the season at 21-21-2.
Given the very unpredictable nature of summer baseball, it often takes time for the nation’s top teams to establish themselves and move to the forefront of Perfect Game’s weekly ranking of the top clubs. Teams in the Cape Cod League, in particular, can be at an early-season disadvantage as they wait for all their players to arrive—mainly off the top college clubs that are appearing in the College World Series, This year’s series isn’t scheduled to conclude until June 26.
Players committed to Cape Cod League teams are always prime targets, as well, for USA Baseball’s college-national team, and Cape teams are often forced to scramble at the last minute to find replacements. Two of the top college prospects for the 2014 draft, Vanderbilt righthander Tyler Beede and Louisville righthander Nick Burdi, were earmarked for Cotuit and Chatham, respectively, this summer before Team USA came calling.
A total of five teams from the Cape Cod League, easily the nation’s oldest and most-prestigious summer-college league, occupy spots in Perfect Game’s first Top 30 Ranking, and conceivably more teams from that league could be ranked, except that a team must have at least a .500 record overall to receive consideration. As it is, Chatham at No. 1, Cotuit (4-1) at No. 3 and Hyannis (3-0) at No. 6 have cracked the top 10.
Teams are ranked on the following criteria: won-loss record, league dominance, depth and quality of professional-level talent and the overall strength of the league.
Rank Team St League Record
1 Chatham Anglers Sel Cape Cod League 5-0
2 Brazos Valley Bombers Sel Texas Collegiate League 15-1
3 Cotuit Kettleers Sel Cape Cod League 4-1
4 Laconia Muskrats NH New England Collegiate League 5-1
5 Edenton Steamers NC Coastal Plain League 13-4
6 Hyannis Harbor Hawks MA Cape Cod League 3-0
7 Hays Larks Sel Jayhawk League 13-1
8 San Luis Obispo Blues CA California Collegiate League 16-4
9 Albany Dutchmen NY Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League 5-0
10 Lakeshore Chinooks WI Northwoods League 13-7
11 Staunton Braves VA Valley League 10-3
12 Southern Ohio Copperheads OH Great Lakes League 9-1
13 Mystic Schooners CT New England Collegiate League 5-1
14 Victoria Harbour Cats BC West Coast League 6-2
15 Harwich Mariners MA Cape Cod League 2-2
16 Quincy Gems IL Prospect League 10-5
17 Bethesda Big Train MD Cal Ripken Sr League 6-2
18 Asheboro Copperheads NC Coastal Plain League 10-4
19 Madison Mallards WI Northwoods League 11-7
20 Santa Barbara Foresters CA California Collegiate League 12-4
21 Anchorage Bucs Sel Alaska League 6-1
22 Woodstock River Bandits VA Valley League 8-2
23 North Shore Navigators MA Futures League 5-0
24 Orleans Firebirds MA Cape Cod League 2-2
25 Klamath Falls Gems OR West Coast League 6-3
26 Leesburg Lightning FL Florida Collegiate League 7-2
27 Shelter Island Bucks NY Independent 6-3
28 Palm Springs Power CA Southern California Collegiate League 13-1
29 Willmar Stingers MN Northwoods League 12-6
30 Top Speed Baseball CA Far West League 12-2
OTHERS RECEIVING CONSIDERATION: Bellingham Bells / West Coast (6-3); Bend Elks / Northwest (8-4); Butler Blue Sox / Prospect (11-7); Chillicothe Paints / Prospect (11-7); Columbia Blowfish / Coastal Plain (11-7); Dayton Docs / Great Lakes (7-2); Florence RedWolves / Coastal Plain (10-6); Fayetteville Swampdogs / Coastal Plain (11-7); Holyoke Blue Sox / New England Collegiate (5-2); Humboldt Crabs / Far West (11-3); L.A. Brewers / California Collegiate (10-3); Mat-Su Miners / Alaska (3-0); Medicine Hat Mavericks / Western Major (12-2); North Jersey Eagles / Atlantic Collegiate (6-1); Olean Oilers / New York Collegiate (7-3); Sedalia Bombers / MINK (10-4); Terre Haute Rex / Prospect (11-6); Vermont Mountaineers / New England Collegiate (5-2); Waterloo Bucks / Northwoods (12-7).