11-17 July Drops M’s Further From AL West Race

It’s hard to believe the second-year Seattle Mariners were 31-21 after the first two months of the SP78 campaign, and had reeled off a 16-game winning streak in May, the longest yet by any team this season. Now, after an injury had knocked the team’s offensive leader, outfielder Tom Paciorek, out of action for thirty days, the M’s have fallen on hard times, dropping to 48-59 by the end of July and drifting back and forth between fourth and sixth place in the AL West. And though Paciorek has returned to the active roster, the Mariner magic seems to have dissipated, leaving the Emerald City squad gasping for life in a tough division already stocked with superior teams.

Keeping in mind that, due to his injury, Paciorek has played in only 67 of Seattle’s 107 games, he leads the team with a .327 average (he and Julio Cruz, at .316, are the only M’s currently hitting over .300); he also led the squad in average for July, with an impressive .355 mark. At this point in the season, Leon Roberts would take team MVP honors, with a .299 average, 21 doubles, 22 home runs, and 69 RBI. And of course, Cruz is still grabbing headlines with his pursuit of both the AL and major league stolen base record; by the end of July, he was just 22 away from Ty Cobb’s AL record of 96. But Seattle’s pitching has been nothing but trouble, and with no pitchers—starters or relievers—with a PB higher than 2-6, it doesn’t look to get any better over the next two months.

To check out the Mariners team page for results and statistics through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all AL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.

Stumbling A’s Not Living Up to Potential in July

Earlier in the season, if I’d been asked to choose a team that I thought was a dark horse contender to capture a division flag, it would’ve been the Oakland A’s of the AL West. Based on the numbers on their player cards, the A’s looked unbeatable: a trio of starters with PB levels of 2-7 (Matt Keough, Alan Wirth, and John Johnson), another three 2-7’s in the bullpen (Dave Heaverlo, Elias Sosa, and Bob Lacey), a squad that consisted of five A and B base stealers, and batting numbers for the starting nine that looked much better than their current fourth place, 51-55 record would indicate. But now, I’m not so confident with my prediction, and the A’s didn’t help themselves much in July by going 12-16, and suffering through a 6-game losing streak in the process.

On a positive note, Mike Edwards, Mitchell Page, Glenn Burke, and rookie call-up Dell Alston all hit over .300 for the month, with Burke leading the way at .337; all four are currently hitting better than .300 for the season, the only Oakland players to do so. Edwards also went 19-1 for the month in stolen base attempts, bringing his SB total to 52, and his steals of second, third, and home in one inning on July 27th was an SP78 first. Slugging DH Rico Carty has 22 home runs on the year, second only to Angels DH Don Baylor’s 30, and the team’s total of 124 stolen bases is third best in the AL. So why are the A’s struggling? Look no further than their pitching staff: starter Keough went 0-5 with a 5.27 earned run average in July, while Pete Broberg went 0-4 with a 7.78 ERA, earning himself a demotion to Vancouver. In addition, three relievers—Steve Renko, Mike Norris, and Craig Minetto—were all saddled with ERA’s over 7.00.

To take a look at the A’s team page and numbers through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all AL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.

Current AL Leaders Have Been Updated!

Now it’s time for the current American League leaders to be posted, under the AL logo in the right-hand column of this main page. It features the same batting, pitching, and team categories as the National League column, and like the updated NL numbers, the players listed in the AL haven’t changed all that much, either. Surprisingly, there were quite a bit of ties, which forced me to extend some categories from a five count to a six.

If Angels designated hitter Don Baylor could boost his batting average a bit, he could join LA slugger Reggie Smith in a dual quest for the Triple Crown; Baylor leads the AL in home runs (35) and RBI (98), but his .291 average is sadly nowhere near the Top 5 in that department. Carney Lansford, also of the Angels, is still the front-runner for the AL Rookie of the Year award, batting .327 while leading the league in hits; he’s also third in runs scored, with 78. Seattle Mariners speedster Julio Cruz is still tops in the stolen base department, as he’s been all season, and by the end of July was just seven steals away from tying the AL season record, held by Ty Cobb with 96.

Though Ron Guidry still holds the American League lead in ERA, at 1.34, his 16 wins is now third behind Mike Caldwell and Jon Matlack, both with 18, and Scott McGregor, with 17. Angels strikeout king Nolan Ryan is no surprise as the AL leader in K’s, with 152, but he’s a far cry from the 260 he finished the actual 1978 season with, and which led the AL that year. As for team leaders, check out the Indians, mired in sixth place in the AL East, who lead the league in batting at .291; I guess that gives you a hint as to how their pitching is doing (excluding Rick Waits, of course, whose W-L stands at 16-5 and ERA at 2.53).

With current league leaders now caught up, I’ll now get back to wrapping up the July stats for the remainder of the American League; just four more teams to go, with the A’s due up next.

Current NL Leaders Have Been Updated!

I’ve now reached the middle of August of my SP78 season, so I thought it might be a good idea to update the current league leaders in all the major batting and pitching categories, for both players and teams. The most recent leaders were posted for July 31st, so only two SP78 weeks have passed to reach this latest update; not many names have changed for the each category’s top five spots, but the numbers definitely have. The updated leader boards can be found on this main page, in the left-hand column under the National League logo.

Dodgers outfielder Reggie Smith is still the leader in several batting categories, and if it weren’t for a pair of injuries in May and July that cost him 21 games, he could be leading in a handful of other categories as well. As it stands, he has a solid chance of winning the National League’s first Triple Crown since Joe Medwick of the Cardinals did it in 1937. And what the hell’s going on with Pepe Frias? He had just one triple during the actual 1978 season, but already has 14 in SP78! Maybe that 32-42 triple range on his player card has something to do with it (thanks again, Avalon Hill!); if so, maybe I should start playing him more, so he can be the first batter since Willie Mays in 1957 to hit twenty in a season.

And you’d think Mets pitcher Craig Swan’s current league-leading ERA of 1.58 is some sort of board game anomaly, but no, he actually was the NL’s earned run average leader in 1978! And could Gaylord Perry be this season’s only 20-game winner in the National League? (Wait, Steve Carlton has now cracked the top five in wins, so he has a chance as well). And look at Bucs reliever Kent Tekulve, about to break his own career record for saves in a season, with 31.

I’m still working on the American League leaders; those players and teams should be posted in a few weeks.

Yankees Finish July at 64-39 to Lead AL East

With a league-leading record of 64-39, a whopping 99 of 113 days of the season spent in first place, and two 5-game winning streaks to compliment an 18-win July, the defending World Series champion New York Yankees continue to dominate the American League, and with just two months remaining in the SP78 campaign, have a solid chance of capturing their second consecutive AL pennant, as well as back-to-back Series championships. And though they ended July in first place in the AL East, the second place Brewers are just five games back, and the Tigers just eight, so the Yanks still have their work cut out for them.

And to make matters more competitive, New York will face some stiff competition in early August, with games against the Rangers, the red-hot Bosox, the Brewers, and the Orioles. But the second half of the month will pit NY against a trio of second-division teams—the A’s, Angels, and Mariners—from the AL West, where the Yankees have dominated all season. And with Thurman Munson among the season leaders in batting average at .339, the bat of Reggie Jackson finally coming to life (10 home runs, 32 RBI, and a .337 average for the month), and starters Ron Guidry and Ed Figueroa currently sporting season ERAs of 1.27 and 1.89 respectively, this could be the perfect time for Bob Lemon’s squad to put the division away for good.

To check out the Yankees team page for results and numbers through July, click here. The boxes for league leaders, team rankings, and award totals have been left blank; these numbers will be added after all AL team statistics have been finalized, and July award winners have been picked.