Joe Gray provides a National Baseball League statistical update before the concluding weekend of the 2011 regular season.
Edwin Alcantara is attempting to become the first player to win the hitting triple crown since Simon Pole accomplished this feat in 2005 (image by Project COBB Photography)
Southern National Edwin Alcantara currently leads the race for the batting title by .487 to Grant Delzoppo’s .486 (the difference is actually less than .001, with the respective values to four decimal places being .4872 and .4865). The Richmond Flames, Delzoppo’s team, do not have a scheduled game on the final weekend of the regular season, but the Nationals do, and Alcantara will be among the party travelling to Hemel Hempstead to take on the Herts Falcons. Delzoppo has amassed 50 plate appearances during the season, and the current minimum number for qualification is 48; however, this will jump to 52 once the Nationals play their double-header with the Herts Falcons on Sunday (those games will push the most played by a team out to 26). The two missing at-bats will, for the purposes of the batting average title, drop Delzoppo’s figure to .462. Thus, in order to claim the title, Alcantara will need to go at least 1-for-5, 2-for-7, or 3-for-9 across the two games (depending on the number of at-bats he gets). Robbie Unsell, also of the Flames, is likely to finish third in the category, with his average being .446.
Alcantara has a much clearer lead in this statistic, with his 38 to date representing nine more than Unsell, the Nationals slugger’s nearest challenger, has to his name.
RUNS BATTED IN
Alcantara again has a comfortable lead in this category. His 32 are eight better than the totals posted by Unsell and his team-mate William Schmitt. Both of those players’ causes were aided by a grand slam (hit in consecutive innings) against Bracknell last Sunday. Schmitt’s grand slam was one of two round-trippers he hit in the front end of that double-header.
This is another category that is currently led by Alcantara, but his total of five is within reach of his team-mates Maikel Azcuy and Jose Perez, both of whom sit on four. As things stand, though, the current home run leader is set to take the triple crown, which would be the first time that this had been achieved since Simon Pole managed it in the London Warriors’ final season, back in 2005.
Victor Aizpurua, of the Southampton Mustangs, has eased to victory in the stolen bases competition, finishing with a flourish that included seven in one game (a modern single-game record) and vaulted his total to 39. This smashes Lee Mayfield’s modern single-season record of 34, obtained back in 1995. Unsell finished in second place with 30, which was more than he amassed in winning the stolen bases crown in each of the previous two seasons.
The one–two in this category will almost certainly be the Flames’ throwers Michael Osborn (seven) and Unsell (six).
In this category, it will be a first-and-second for the same pair, although Unsell is a comfortable overall winner, with a sub-1.00 earned-run average (0.90), compared against Osborn’s 3.59.
Five strike-outs still to be added to Matt Gilbert’s official figures from an Arrows loss on Sunday will take his season total to 57, which is two clear of the 55 amassed to date by Bracknell Blazer Henry Collins. Those five whiffs bring Gilbert’s top-tier career total to the milestone of 300. But the race in 2011 is still alive. Bracknell are due to entertain the Diamondbacks on Sunday, and Essex may be playing one or more make-up games with the Pirates on the final weekend. Whatever does happen, though, it seems likely that Collins’s current circuit-leading rate of 12.2 strike-outs per nine frames will not be surpassed. Collins is also one of only two pitchers to register a shut-out in the NBL this season, with his effort coming in a 5.0-inning game earlier in the year. The second shut-out was administered by the youngster Jamie Ratcliff, who threw all 6.0 innings in the Nationals’ second game with Croydon on Sunday, yielding no runs and only three hits.
WALKS / HITS PER INNING
Unsell will claim this other rate-based pitching category, with his 0.98 value beating the Mustangs’ Alberto Rodriguez (1.38) into second place.