We have all collectively blinked and the WMBL regular season is over. What a fantastic 2018 regular season it was with the Brooks Bombers Riley MacDonald becoming the new home run king and the Edmonton Prospects Rich Walker pitching a perfect game. Round one of the playoffs commences on Tuesday July 31st in what will be the last year the playoffs rounds are a best of five. Ian Wilson of albertadugoutstories.com, internet voice of the Edmonton Prospects Jimmy Morrison, and myself preview the opening round series’ and predict who is going to win them.
West Division 1 vs 4 – >Medicine Hat Mavericks vs Lethbridge Bulls
|Medicine Hat Mavericks||Lethbridge Bulls|
|Regular Season Record||38-9||19-29|
|Runs Scored (most)/Runs Allowed (fewest)||1st (398)/T-2nd (215)||5th (302)/10th(333)|
|Team Batting Average||.311||.286|
|*Batting Average Leader||Carson Johnson (.354)||Kaleb Warden (.369)|
|Doubles||Zack Gray/Nolan Rattai (14)||Dylan Borman/Hank Forrest (10)|
|RBI||Colton Wright (47)||Kaleb Warden (38)|
|Stolen Bases||David Salgueiro (30)||Hank Forrest (4)|
|*Starter ERA||Alex Dafoe (2.36)||Andrew Greider (4.17)|
|Saves||Tyler Shumpert (6)||Talon Derrick/Chris Stodolka (2)|
Len – The Mavericks stumble a bit into the post-season struggling against the Okotoks Dawgs. What stopped the slide? A 12-3 road win in Lethbridge! One of the better offensive teams in the league, the Bulls cannot match the league best Mavericks arsenal. The Mavericks won the seasonal series, four times scoring over 8 runs and twice breaking into the teens. I’ll give the Bulls a game but the Mavericks the series.
Ian Wilson – Medicine Hat was solid all season long in compiling a 38-9 record (one shy of the all-time WMBL wins mark) and their lineup appears to have few holes in it. Starting pitchers Jumpei Akanuma, Jared Libke, Alex Dafoe and Matt Brooks – among others – should give the team a chance to win every time they take the field. If Lethbridge is able to plate some runs, it will likely happen in the later innings. Mavs closer Tyler Shumpert (6 saves) has allowed runs in his last five outings, so there is hope for Bulls hitters there. That’s assuming Lethbridge pitchers can keep the Mavs hitters in check. Medicine Hat’s offence was the most productive in the league during the regular season, topping the standings in runs and batting average. If everything goes well for Lethbridge and they get monster performances from skilled batsmen such as Kaleb Warden, Dylan Borman and Ashton Roy – AND their underwhelming pitching staff can perform in the clutch – then maybe they can steal a game or two. With apologies to Bulls fans, a sweep by the Mavs seems more likely. FINAL PREDICTION: Mavs in 3.
Jimmy Morrison – I am picking the Mavericks in a sweep of 3 games – The numbers tell it all for me – Medicine Hat was 38-9 on the season and 8-2 in their last 10 games. One of the best WMBL seasons in a long time. Their pitching staff is lead by Akanuma and Caine with 6 wins and then Dafoe with 5 wins. I would put those three as the best rotation in the WMBL right now. Then you have Lethbridge which has stumbled into the playoffs 4-6 in their last 10 games. All signs lead to a sweep of the Bulls and a trip to the Western Division finals.
West Division 2 vs 3 – > Okotoks Dawgs vs Edmonton Prospects
|Okotoks Dawgs||Edmonton Prospects|
|Regular Season Record||32-12||23-23|
|Runs Scored (most)/ Runs allowed (least)||3rd (331)/ T2 (215)||6th (286)/ 6th (286)|
|Team Batting Average||.303||.288|
|*Batting Average Leader||William Hollis (.361)||Daylen Calicdan (.367)|
|Doubles||William Hollis/Nate Dechaine (14)||Anthony Cusati/Nick Spillman (9)|
|RBI||Nate Dechaine (47)||Nick Spillman (36)|
|Stolen Bases||Ryan Humenuik (22)||Percy Liu (14)|
|*Starter ERA||Carter Robinson (2.35)||Rich Walker (3.16)|
|Saves||Craig Smith (15)||Three tied w/2|
Len – The Prospects have many great pitching stories to share this season but none of them are against the Dawgs. Multiple times the Dawgs have put up double digits runs against the 2-time WMBL Championship Series Finalists. Connor Burns had a good early season start versus them and Edgar Barclay a good late season start. Taran Oulton has three times been abused by the Dawgs and whatever is in the water in Okotoks is kryptonite to Rich Walker. The series will go 5 but the Dawgs will prevail.
Ian – We’ve got a revenge series here and it should be a fun one. The Prospects upset the Dawgs in five games last season and the standings look similar for both teams this year. Despite being a two-seed, Okotoks once again has 35 wins and Edmonton is a .500 team heading into the post-season. Can the defending Western Division champion Prospects produce more playoff magic? Their starting pitching matches up fairly well versus the Dawgs, with perfect-game hurler Rich Walker, Connor Burns and Taran Oulton capable of going pitch for pitch against Cody Ebert, Mason Swegarden and Carter Robinson. But the starters in Okotoks still appear to have the edge here. They also have a better bullpen. Craig Smith set a WMBL record for saves in a season with 15, while other late-inning arms like Jesse Coleman have also been stingy to opposing hitters. The outlook at the plate favours the Dawgs even more. They’ve produced more runs, have a superior team batting average and on-base percentage, and they stole more bases than any other squad in the league. The Prospects do have a reputation for being scrappy. They have a team that is capable – both on the mound and at the plate – but are they good enough to score the upset over Okotoks again? You can never count out a team that is coached by the savvy veteran voices of Orv Franchuk and Ray Brown, but I think the Dawgs have too much bite this year. FINAL PREDICTION: Dawgs in 4
Jimmy – On paper this has the making of a great series. The Dawgs ride into playoffs winning 11 in a row and firing on all cylinders. 35-12 record on the season which is amazing. But to me one thing sticks out – It is not regular season and the Prospects have had their number in the playoffs the last couple years. For some reason, come playoff time the Prospects turn on another switch. The Edmonton Prospects finished at .500 at 23-23 on the season. For me you can put the Prospects bats up against anyone in the league but it comes to down to the Pitching of the Prospects and especially the bullpen if this team is going to make a run. The 2-time defending Western Division champs were picked at the start of the year by a lot of experts to represent the Western Division but a lot has changed. And look at the last two years, as once this team gets into the playoffs, well all bets are off. I love starting on the road in a best of five series. Split the first two games is all you have to do plus no pressure on the road. Then come home and take care of business in front of your home fans. Okotoks and Edmonton both were in the top this year in attendance in the league and expect the fans to be loud cheering for their teams. This has all the making of a long series if the Pitching is there for the Prospects. I am taking the Edmonton Prospects in 5 hard fought games.
East Division 1 vs 4 – > Weyburn Beavers vs Moose Jaw Miller Express
|Weyburn Beavers||Moose Jaw Miller Express|
|Regular Season Record||37-11||23-25|
|Runs Scored (most)/ Runs allowed (least)||4th (318)/ 1st (202)||9th (255)/ 7th (311)|
|Team Batting Average||.299||.242|
|*Batting Average Leader||Corey Wheaton (.372)||Scott Platt (.299)|
|Doubles||Cam Williams (12)||Scott Platt (9)|
|RBI||Corey Harrell (42)||Ty Roseberry (33)|
|Stolen Bases||Corey Wheaton (30)||Eric Marriott (18)|
|*Starter ERA||Ken Williams (2.96)||Mitchell Robinson (2.62)|
|Saves||Eric Evans (10)||John Prudham (2)|
Len – Is it a ballsy move calling a sweep in a 1 vs 4 matchup? I believe it would be ballsier calling for at least one Moose Jaw win! Beavers sweep (and it’s not even close).
Ian – Weyburn – the Medicine Hat Mavericks of the Eastern Division – is better in every conceivable metric than Moose Jaw. Better bats, a pitching staff that has allowed the fewest runs in the league and a superior defence behind that pitching. Conversely, Moose Jaw has scored the least runs of any playoff team and their collective team batting average sits under .250. Do we really need to go on? Maybe standout pitcher Mitchell Robinson steals a game for Moose Jaw but a more likely result is the express lane out of the postseason. FINAL PREDICTION: Three-game sweep for Weyburn.
Jimmy – It’s been a great season for the Weyburn Beavers with a record of 37-11. They finished 8-2 in their last 10 games while Moose Jaw was 5-5. I look at the areas Pitching, Hitting and Fielding and I give the edge of all three to Weyburn. I believe this series will be a sweep and they are serious contenders to win it all this year in the WMBL. Weyburn in 3 games over Moose Jaw.
East Division 2 vs 3 – > Swift Current 57’s vs Regina Red Sox
|Swift Current 57's||Regina Red Sox|
|Regular Season Record||28-20||26-21|
|Runs Scored (most)/ Runs allowed (least)||342 (2nd)/ 272 (5th)||283 (7th)/ 262 (4th)|
|Team Batting Average||.277||.284|
|*Batting Average Leader||Myles Miller (.408)||Colton Onstott (.336)|
|Doubles||Bo McClintock/Myles Miller (11)||Phil Langlois (13)|
|RBI||Bo McClintock (40)||Adam De La Cruz (30)|
|Stolen Bases||Ethan Hunter (14)||Wesley Moss (29)|
|*Starter ERA||*Garrett Hawkins (3.13)||Dylan Bells (4.38)|
|Saves||Nick Hooper (2)||Sam Cottingham-Beard (5)|
Len – The two time defending WMBL champions struggled mightily out of the gate. The 57’s did not get over the .500 mark until June 28th when their record improved to 12-11. The last ten games of the season went very differently for the 57’s and Red Sox as the defending champs went 7-3 and the Sox went 4-6. Everything is pointing towards a 57’s series win. All the years of being a WWE have taught me one thing – if the cards are stacked in one direction, the opposite will happen. Red Sox in 4.
Ian – They’re the defending back-to-back WMBL champs, but Swift Current will be in tough this postseason. The No. 2 seeded 57’s will open their playoff journey against third-place Regina and the statistics show a pair of evenly matched rivals. You can give Swift the edge in run production but the two teams were neck and neck when it came to batting average and on-base percentage. Regina was more opportunistic on the basepaths, thanks in large part to Wesley Moss’ 29 stolen bases. He will have to get on base and keep testing catchers’ arms if the Red Sox hope to advance. The pitchers on both sides also allowed a similar total of runs against over the course of the season, so we’ll see which moundsmen take charge during the series. Vauxhall Academy grad Garrett Hawkins will need to step up – as he has all season for Swift Current – but the 57’s will also need other starting pitchers to put in quality innings if they hope to advance. Evan Rogers, meanwhile, is expected to play the role of ace for the Red Sox. Rogers – along with Dylan Bells and Kyle Wilson – will need to keep Swift’s bats in check. Outfielder Myles Miller won the batting title with a .408 average during 28 games played, catcher Ben Komonosky can go yard with the best of them and Bo McClintock became the league’s reigning home run leader after Brooks’ catcher Riley MacDonald went pro earlier this summer. On paper, it looks like Swift should prevail but I think Regina’s pitching will find a way to push this series to five games and give the Red Sox a look at the upset. FINAL PREDICTION: Regina in five games.
Jimmy -To be the Champs you have to beat the Champs. Swift Current was slow out of the gates but picked it up down the stretch going 7-3 in their last 10 games. Regina has had a great season but Swift Current has been there the last two years in the finals winning both years over the Edmonton Prospects. They are led by one of the most feared hitters in the WMBL in Bo McClintock with 15 homers and 40 RBI. This series to me also comes down to home field advantage and if this goes the distance, then game five will be at home in Swift Current. I am picking the back-to-back defending champs Swift Current in a hard fought 5 games.