FARGO BISON (95-67)
SYRACUSE ORANGE (99-63)
The 4th seeded Bison made a run during the playoffs, beating the #5 Trojans in four games before sweeping the top-seeded Beavers before beating the 2-seed Owls in an epic 7-game battle.
OFFENSE (.283 – 6th; 912 RS – 3rd; 282 HR – 1st; 172 SB – 5th)
Led by DH and MVP candidate Cy Saturria (44 HR, 109 RBI), RF Esteban Galvez (44 HR, 120 RBI) and CF Flip Carter (40 HR, 124 RBI) this offense will compete with anyone. 10 players finished with double-digit homers and 5 finished with 20 or more stolen bases. Even if you can keep them in the park, you have to deal with their ability to run the bases. They have the ability to compete with juggernaut teams offensively, even if they only had 2 guys hit .300 or better in 350+ ABs.
PITCHING (4.51 – 11th; .266 – 11th)
It is a good thing that their offense is great, because their pitch sure falls flat for a contender. Ace and Cy Young Finalist Philip Larson (200.0 IP, 19-5, 3.20 ERA) and the back-end of their bullpen is what saved this team…closer Brian Yang (53.0 IP, 6-2, 3.40 ERA, 26/32), setup men Alberto Montanez (44.2 IP, 4-2, 3.02 ERA, 7/7) and Tony Cabrera (106.2 IP, 3-3, 4.13 ERA, 7/7) are what really held this staff together. With 6 guys pitching 40+ innings and recording a 4.50 ERA or higher, they are really going to have to win some shootouts.
DEFENSE (.982 – 13th; 64 “+” – 8th; 369 DP – 6th; .224 CS% - 14th)
Not a great defensive team by any stretch of the imagination, they were able to help their pitching out with the ability to turn double plays. Their defense is led by LF Hector Guerrero (14 +, .996), 1B Rolando Bocachica (11 +, .997) and 2B Rafael Liriano (10 +, .982). They were weak at the SS position with 46 errors and 7 minus plays between their 2 shortstops.
The top-seeded Orange held serve throughout the playoffs, although it did take them 5 games to get past Detroit. They defeated the surprise team of the postseason in the 6th seeded Mustangs to earn their World Series trip.
OFFENSE (.276 – 3rd; 888 RS – 1st; 235 HR – 4th; 214 SB – 1st)
Leadoff hitter Rob Allen had a career season with a .309 average and 94 stolen bases against getting caught 6 times. This team though was led by MVP front-runner Michael Seay (.340, 64 HR, 177 RBI). 5 players hit 26 or more home runs while 4 knocked in 98 or more runs. In addition to Allen’s 94 stolen bases, 2B Garrett Parris was 31/37, 3B Mitchell Spencer was 29/38, and CF Joaquin Ortiz was 25/32.
PITCHING (4.18 – 5th; .257 – 4th)
When they’re not bludgeoning you to death, they’re stifling your ability to put the bat on the ball. 5th in the NL in strikeouts, this is a staff that goes with their offense perfectly. Led by Pasqual Navarre (209.2 IP, 16-6, 3.35 ERA) and Charles Carlyle (198.0 IP, 11-8, 4.00 ERA) this staff boasted an impressive 4 10-game winners, and 5 more who won at least 6 games. Fireman of the Year runner-up and Cy Young finalist Roosevelt Loux was solid at closer with 43 saves in 50 opportunities despite posting a 4.30 ERA and a 6-6 record in 69 innings. This staff doesn’t knock your socks off, but they sure did produce throughout the season.
DEFENSE (.986 – 4th; 93 “+” – 1st; 429 DP – 1st; .365 CS% - 1st)
Is there anything this team doesn’t do well? The answer is no, even throwing runners out at a ridiculous clip. Led by gold glove winners SS Sammy Canseco (.981, 22 +) and CF Joaquin Ortiz (.993, 17 +) as well as 3B Mitchell Spencer (.973, 17 +) and those are just the guys with 17 or more plus plays. In 122 games this season, C Lawrence Lamb is throwing runners out at a .448 rate.
Although Fargo has had a great season thus far, I think the Syracuse pitching will be able to hold the Bison bats at bay and I just don’t see that ability out of the Bison staff. Fargo’s inability to keep Syracuse in the ballpark as well as prevent them from running wild will be their undoing.
Syracuse wins in 6.