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YBL Players of the Week (Aug01-Aug07)

PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Sam Cummings – Stoneham Sabers – #23


Sammy “The Bull” Cummings takes home the final weekly pitching award with an 8-inning performance over the Maddogs. Sam allowed only 2 hits and 2 walks with no earned runs and 10 strikeouts in his final regular season outing. This performance helped him just edge out a solid performance from teammate and Cambridge product Tommy Lenane who threw 6 innings in a win over the league-leading Athletics.

Fantasy Impact: Selected to be part of Team Dziuba Squad (mgr: none other than Teddy Dziuba himself), Cummings has the makings of being an ace on just about any team in the league. After averaging just shy of 44 innings pitched over the last 3 seasons, he only managed to log 28 innings in 2016. Over those innings, Sammy gave up only 17 hits and 8 walks against 29 strikeouts. And the 7 earned runs he gave up actually increased his career era to 1.16.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK:  Ted Dziuba – Somerville Alibrandis  #22 / Kevin Higgins McKay Club Beacons #4

Our final installment of weekly Players will be a shared award, spreading the love to end the season.


Amidst another week of keeping an eye on the moral compass of the Yawkey League, Teddy Dziuba had a hype week for the 6 time defending champs Somerville. With 4 games on the calendar, Teddy helped his Alibrandis close the season and lock up the #2 seed with 4 straight wins. In those games, he went 7-for-11 with two doubles, a triple, 10 runs and 5 rbi. He finishes the year with hits and runs in 12 of his last 15 games.

Fantasy Impact: A first-round selection also by the Dziuba Squad, Ted has put together yet another solid year in line with his YBL career averages: .357/.492/.500 – 24 rbi and 7 steals. He also set a personal best with 34 runs scored….which was just 2 off the league lead. After all, if you want to be in the Dziuba Squad, you gotta be smart. And don’t pick on Mags….its not his fault he can’t read.


Sharing the honors is rookie Kevin Higgins of the Beacons. At the time of this posting some stats are not yet in, however as Kevin channeled his inner Zeus and Apollo for 3 HRs on the week, that was enough to do the trick and earn him the worldly acclaim of a POW award.

Fantasy Impact: Yet another rookie making waves, Higgins looks to be an additional building block for the McKay Club franchise after showing some skills with a near-.300 average and some power with all 3 taters coming at Ronan Park.

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2016 Playoff Preview – First Round – (3) Stoneham Sabers vs. (6) Brighton Braves


Season Review

As teams jockey for playoff positioning in the closing months of each Yawkey Baseball League season, there are a few certainties that the league has found to be true. The first being: “Don’t lose homefield advantage to the guys with permits for Rec Park”, and the second being “Don’t line up against Mike Smith when he can start twice in a 5-game series”.

This matchup pits 2 very dangerous YBL squads, with the 3rd-seeded Stoneham Sabres hosting the #6-seed Brighton Braves.  Stoneham enters the postseason with an impressive 23-9 record, their 5th consecutive 20+ win season. Sporting the league’s fastest defense and arguably its deepest pitching staff, Stoneham has wins against every single playoff franchise this season. With pinpoint control (League-best 55 walks allowed) and an outfield that can literally track down EVERY fly ball, Stoneham is a darkhorse favorite to win their first league title this postseason.

The Stals will have to get past the Brighton Braves, whose 16-16 record was good enough to lock up the 6th seed this season. A veteran squad with plenty of playoff experience, Ted Tracy and co. will seek to advance past the opening round for the first time since Mike Smith’s legendary Game 5 shutout on 3 days rest in 2013. The 2016 version boasts a scary pitching staff in the top 5 in the league in ERA and WHIP, with power arms that struck out a franchise-record 207 batters.

The Sabres edged out the Braves 2 games to 1 in head-to-head action this season, so this best of 5 series could go either way.

Probable Matchups

Game 1 – Sam Cummings (4-1, 28 IP, 1.75 ERA, 29 K’s) vs. Mike Smith (5-3, 59.2 IP, 1.17 ERA, 69 K’s)

Game 2 – Chris Dion (6-1, 45.1 IP, 1.54 ERA, 34 K’s) vs. Richard Arms (0-7, 40.1 IP, 4.51 ERA, 34 K’s)

Game 3 – David Montiverdi (2-2, 36.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 19 K’s) vs. Greg Sherman (3-2, 33.2 IP, 3.33 ERA, 32 K’s)

Players to Watch

Kevin Luciano remains one of the most dangerous hitters in the YBL. With a team high 25 RBI on 14 extra base hits, Kevin can expect an healthy dose of offspeed this postseason. Tommy Lenane has been Stoneham’s breakout star in 2016, tallying a team-high 38 hits while playing gold glove defense at the hot corner. Angelo Colucci notched his 200th career hit earlier this month, and will bring his veteran leadership to what is hopefully a very deep playoff run.

The Sabres best arm might not even start a game this series – Corey McNamara has solidified his role in the back of the Stoneham bullpen with a Sub-2.00 ERA and 2 saves in his last 5 appearances of the seasons, striking out over a batter per inning. Coupled with lockdown defense, don’t expect the Stals to cough up any leads.

Former Wofford star and Braves’ leadoff man Alex Lee lead the league in stolen bases in 2016 and added 29 runs scored, setting the table for the Braves’ big bats. Perennial silver slugger Billy Uberti led the squad in homers and RBI’s and catcher Alex Joyce chipped in with 25 hits of his own, while shutting down opposing baserunners from behind the plate.

Former major leaguer Mike Smith won his second consecutive league strikeout crown, and although his pulled up lame running out a ground ball during the team’s final regular season game, you can be sure that this gamer has the ball in his hands game 1 and all bets are off once that fastball/changeup combo is working. Expect the Braves to go as far as that right arm will take them.

Wild Cards

Former Curry College standout Derek Pizarro scored a career-high 36 runs en route to an all-star campaign for Stoneham. He has been the straw that stirs the drink for this offense and if he gets on base, it will be a tough task to keep him from crossing the plate.

Despite going winless this regular season, Richard Arms’ pure stuff is simply too good to be banged around. Expect his sharp breaking ball and sinking fastball to be in command this series.

Look for the Braves to try and lock this series up by Saturday as they will not want the series to be decided at Rec Park this weekend. Nobody beats the Stals at the beach, and they have the speed and defense to tip the scales at their home diamond.

Series Prediction

The league’s reigning top arm – Mike Smith – has the repertoire and pedigree to win any time the ball is in his hand. Will that be enough to counter a Stoneham lineup that has already beaten the league’s best on multiple occasions?  We shall see.

Expect some hard-fought baseball between two first class franchises this series.

Stoneham defeats Brighton 3-1 in the first round.

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2016 Playoff Preview – First Round – (2) Somerville Alibrandis vs. (7) East Boston Knights


Season Review

In 2015 they were the top 2 seeds in the YBL tourney and battled in the Championship Round. This year they will meet again, but this rematch takes place in the first round. Once again the #2 seed, Somerville has not been quite the dominant force as we’ve seen over the past decade-plus. But they once again led the league in team pitching with a 2.14 ERA and 242 strikeouts. Offensively, Bernie Driscoll and Cam Lynch’s Alibrandis were second only to the record-setting efforts of the Athletics, scoring 226 runs with a .334 avg and leading the YBL with 88 stolen bases.

After a league-best 25-5 record in 2015, the East Boston Knights stormed into the Finals with high expectations but were swept by Somerville. And while the Alibrandis were able to improve upon their record, 2016 has been a much different year for the Knights. After starting the season 4-1, Eastie lost their next 4 and never again got themselves on the fun side of .500. But Coach Bellavia’s team fought their way through the season and made the playoffs knowing that once you get there, the regular season record doesn’t matter anymore. Everyone around the league knows that you can’t sleep on this team with their offense that can light up the scoreboard at any time. Despite their record, EB still finished the year in the top-5 in both batting and pitching, and they have the talent on the roster to beat anyone in the league.

Probable Matchups

Game 1 –Chris Costa (4-1, 33.2 IP, 1.46 ERA, 43 K’s) vs.  Sam Bennett (1-3, 37.1 IP, 2.25 ERA, 47 K’s)

Game 2 – Jon Morse (7-2, 43 IP, 1.79 ERA, 48 K’s) vs.  Evan Vallera (5-3, 42 IP, 3.33 ERA, 24 K’s)

Game 3 – Sean Sullivan (8-1, 43.2 IP, 3.21 ERA, 45 K’s) vs. Max Ockner (2-3, 32 IP, 3.50 ERA, 30 K’s)

Players to Watch

Somerville has the offense, but they are “Pitching Wins Championships” in real life. A breakout year from Chris Costa (1.46 era / 43 strikeouts in 33 innings) has taken a lot of the strain off of the rotation and the bullpen. Look for YBL stud Chris Foundas to make a difference in relief early, or if the series goes to 4 games. But most important for the Alibrandis will be when the starters turn the ball over to Lamarre Rey and Brian Tanguy late in games. No other team in the league has the late innings covered like the Red Army.

For Eastie, as mentioned above they have the talent. But to get past the defending champs they will need to have all of their big players contributing. Both Marty Dunlap and Mike Oliveira had career years in 2015, but struggled at times this season. Perhaps the biggest boost for the Knights will come in the form of rookie pitcher Adam Somers, who just barely eked out playoff eligibility at the end of the season. Somers has been “effectively wild” in 2016 with a 22:17 k:bb ratio in 14 innings. If he can keep the walks down, he is a strikeout machine who can decide a game or two.

Wild Cards

Gordie Gronkowski can very well be the piece to push Somerville over the top this postseason. Aformer Angels farmhand (a .298 hitter over his professional career), the Alibrandis rookie posted a .351 avg over 18 games with a .942 ops. But many people are waiting to hear on the status of 2016 YBL batting champ Bobby Barrett. Bobbo suffered a foot injury late in the season, and the biggest decision Coach Bernie may make all postseason could be determining when the appropriate time is to reactivate #7.

After only appearing in 5 games last year, Victor LeBron returned in 2016 and had a good, albeit somewhat streaky year (.316 avg with 18 steals). Coach Bellavia will need some LeBron circa 2014 (.450 avg with 47 steals) where he terrorized the league every time he stepped to the plate in order to have a chance to take down the champs.

Series Prediction

While Eastie will likely have all hands on deck for the postseason, the Red Army just has too much offense and pitching. Alibrandis in 4.

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2016 Playoff Preview – First Round – (4) South Boston Saints vs. (5) Revere Rockies


Season Review

As two of the league’s winningest franchises in recent memory, the South Boston Saints and Revere Rockies are set to square off this Tuesday in what will surely be a hard-fought opening round matchup.  Having never missed the postseason, freshman coach Nate Laliberte’s Rockies faces a tough test in future Hall of Famer Jon Tenney’s South Boston Saints, who have made it to postseason play in 8 of the last 9 seasons.

Down 2-0 in last year’s opening round, the Rockies made a heroic comeback to advance past the Al Thomas A’s, later bowing out to an East Boston Knights team stacked with elite arms in the semi-finals. But the Purple & Black entered 2016 as a team to beat, considered by many as early-season favorites to repeat as an impact playoff squad.

Thanks in part to a hot June which saw Revere cruise to wins in 8 of 9 games, the Rockies have been amongst the league’s best all season.  The season nearly derailed in early-June when ace Alex Wong went down with an elbow injury.  However, the Rocks added newcomer Pat Shore (Stonehill) to an already deep pitching staff which overcame Wong’s absence to finish in the top 3 in both ERA and WHIP.  Offensively, the experienced lineup (They will enter postseason play with over 1,000 playoff at-bats under their belt) faced some ups and downs in 2016 but still managed to finish in the league’s top 5 in scoring.

The Saints opened up the year having lost an entire squad’s worth of YBL All-Stars to retirement, injury, and adulthood. Faced with fielding a squad without names like Graham, Wicks, Hueston, Evans and Geoghegan in the starting lineup, the Saints mustered together one of the league’s best offenses with a mix of new blood and veteran talent.  Overcoming an early season slide that had them well below .500 at the all-star break, South Boston would go on to win an incredible 12 of 13 games down the stretch, en route to securing the league’s #5 seed.

The story this year for the Saints has been all about timely hitting and superb defense.  While their pitching staff has struggled at times (5.04 ERA & 132 walks), they’ve managed to fill up the bases offensively, and sport the league’s 3rd best average at the time of this writing.  South Boston will look to ride their impressive July wave straight into a first round victory.

Probable Matchups

Game 1 –Adam Del Rio (5-0, 34.1 IP, 1.63 ERA, 27 K’s) vs.  Stephano Stravoravdis (6-4, 65.2 IP, 3.94 ERA, 48 K’s)

Game 2 – John Young (3-3, 38 IP, 3.13 ERA, 27 K’s) vs.  Dan Shaw (5-2, 50.2 IP, 4.28 ERA, 35 K’s)

Game 3 – Chris Sandini (0-3, 30 IP, 3.50 ERA, 29 K’s) vs.  Brad Bousquet (1-2, 32 IP, 6.56 ERA, 32 K’s)

Players to Watch

Adam Del Rio turned in a Cy Young-caliber campaign for Revere, going 5-0 with a 1.63 ERA.  At the plate, the usual suspects were back at it in 2016, with Chris Santosuosso leading the way with 35 hits, and Bobby Foote shaking off a tepid start with a torrid July to finish with a club-best 19 RBI.  Keep an eye on Chris Hartery – a career .345 hitter with over 300 hits, he’s starting to heat up at the plate after a slow start.

Former Babson College standout Trevor Boyce, who once won a Rawlings Gold Glove award for his skills in center field, remains one of the league’s top defenders.  Adding a .392 campaign with 29 runs scored and a team-high 40 hits, and Trevor’s impact cannot be understated.  Joining Trevor offensively is Cambridge-product Ted Downing, who chipped in with 29 hits of his own in his rookie campaign.  Jon Tenney drove in 21 runs (his highest total since 2007) and has tallied 300+ hits and 450+ innings pitched in his illustrious career.

Wild Cards

Who cares if he went 0-3 this regular season…Chris Sandini has the makeup and experience to anchor the Rockies pitching staff this August.  Chris brings 111 career playoff innings and 9 career playoff wins into the 2016 postseason, elevating his game when the lights are the brightest.

Despite the staff’s pitching woes overall, South Boston workhorse Stephano Stravoravdis led the YBL in innings pitched (65.2) with key wins against playoff teams from East Boston and Brighton.  A win in game 1 will set the tone for a Saints series victory.

Series Prediction

“It’s not how you start…it’s how you finish”

Inspirational internet memes aside, it really is all about peaking at the right time in this game.  The South Boston Saints have saved their best brand of baseball for the run-up to the playoffs, and if they keep this momentum rolling into Tuesday, Revere is in trouble.  If the Rockies’ veteran arms show up to play, they will likely earn the right to face Al Thomas in the semi-finals.  If they don’t, The Saints of South Boston will finally escape the “Boondocks” of round one and advance.

South Boston edges out Revere 3-2 in a first round that goes the distance. 

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2016 Playoff Preview – First Round – (1) Al Thomas Athletics vs. (8) Brighton Black Sox


Season Review

Sporting the YBL’s most potent and formidable offense, the Al Thomas Athletics enter the 2016 postseason as the league’s top seed on the heels of a franchise record 28-win season. The A’s look to avenge last year’s heartbreaking first round loss to their rival Revere Rockies – a series which had them leading 2-0 at one point in the best of 5 series.   A perennial powerhouse, Al Thomas has no shortage of talent with playoff experience, and many have ATBC pegged as the squad who will hoist this year’s championship plaque.

Sporting their deepest lineup in recent memory, the Sluggers from the South Shore can flat-out hit. Coach McDougall’s veteran squad has terrorized opposing pitching staffs all year long, averaging nearly 9 runs per game, while drawing an unheard of 173 bases on balls – the highest walks total by any franchise since .400Hitter began tracking statistics.  With 7 Al Thomas hitters ranking in the top 13 in the league in runs scored, there is simply no room for error when facing their lineup.

Their bats are buoyed by a solid pitching rotation and deep bullpen. Bolstered by the return of former Pittsburgh Pirates 5th round selection Pat Bresnehan (6-0, 4.46 ERA, 34 K’s), Al Thomas is primed for a deep playoff run in 2016.

Looking to play the role of “spoiler” in round 1 are the #8-seed Brighton Black Sox, who enter postseason play with a 14-18 record. Piping hot out of the gate, the Black Sox rifled off big wins against defending champion Somerville and semi-finalist Stoneham en route to a 10-5 start. Relying on his bevy of veteran arms and a talented, fast, young corps of bats, Coach John Griffith created a winning atmosphere at his team’s new home at Brandeis University.

Then July hit…

First, the Sox lost promising young shortstop Jake McGuiggan to a pro contract with the New Britain Bee’s of the Atlantic Professional Baseball league. Then, the injury bug got hold of the usually sturdy Black Sox staff, with staff ace J.T. Ross tallying less than 40 innings pitched for the first time since 2009.  With a 2016 regular season that was back-loaded with an inordinate amount of July games, the Black Sox did what they could to find pitching wherever they could, with catchers, first basemen and coaches shouldering the load on several occasions. They limp into August on a 4-13 skid, hoping for some postseason magic to aid them in their efforts to unseat the league’s top team.

Probable Matchups

Game 1 –Pat Bresnehan (6-0, 67 IP, 1.78 ERA, 48 K’s) vs.  Matt Nicholson (1-3, 41 IP, 2.39 ERA, 14 K’s)

Game 2 – Willie Archibald (3-0, 36 IP, 1.94 ERA, 39 K’s) vs.  Jared Rooney (4-5, 51 IP, 3.43 ERA, 33 K’s)

Game 3 – Bobby Freeman (6-1, 34.2 IP, 2.83 ERA, 28 K’s) vs.  JT Ross (3-3, 39.2 IP, 3.00 ERA, 36 K’s)

Players to Watch

Since the franchise-ruining free agent pickup of Freddi Carrera in 2013, the Athletics have deployed a 3-headed monster of Freddi/Katsy/Lambo to score runs in bunches on a nightly basis. Carrera turned in another MVP-worthy campaign in 2016, leading A’s hitters in batting average (.423) and hits (41).  James Katsiroubas lead the league in runs scored (36) and extra-base hits (16) while Steve Lambert pitched in with 31 runs and 30 RBI’s of his own.  The all-star trio was joined by MVP-hopeful Matt Rodriguez, who paced the A’s with a league-best 40 RBI’s. The speedy Tom Trull turned in a career year, leading the circuit with 22 stolen bases, and a resurgent Jon Kostas finished up 2016 hitting at a .400 clip.  Assuming the bats will remain true to form, the Al Thomas postseason might hinge entirely on which Willie Archibald shows up in August – the record-setting 2014 version who rattled off 5 playoff wins? Or the 2015 version whom surrendered 6 ER in 3.2 IP in a do-or-die game 5 against the Rockies.

Wheaton College standout Apolinar De La Cruz packs a whallop in the middle of the Black Sox order, leading his team in runs scored (20) and extra base hits (9). New addition, Spencer Tonies, turned in a fine rookie campaign with 30 hits and a .390 average. Former Washington Nationals 33rd Round pick Billy Cather has arguably the sweetest left-handed swing in the league and could create some matchup issues for the Al Thomas right-handed starters, along with Apo, Spencer, Rob O’Neil and the other Black Sox lefties.

Wild Cards

Mike Hicks reached base at a .438 clip in 2016 thanks in large part to his league-leading 14 HBP’s. Establishing the inner half on Hicks and teammate James Katsiroubas could be a difference maker for opposing pitchers.

Black Sox catcher Cam Owens answered the call when his team needed an emergency start and he held the defending league champs to 1 run, scattering 5 hits over 6.2 gutsy innings. Griff may hand him the ball to see if lightning strikes twice.

Series Prediction

The fact that the Al Thomas Athletics do not have their name etched on the YBL championship plaque this decade is criminal. They have been too good for too long to go home empty-handed once again.  Griff’s Black Sox have plenty of talent, and have proven time and again that they can not only compete with, but BEAT the best teams this league has to offer…but ATBC lineup is just too deep and they’ll punch an early ticket to Round 2.

Al Thomas sweeps Brighton 3-0 in the first round.


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YBL Players of the Week (Jul25-Jul31)

PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Adam Del Rio – Revere Rockies – #10

Del Rio

With some strong pitching performances to pick from last week, the POW committee had some options. Smitty had another brilliant performance shutting out the Beacons. Rookie Sam Bennett for EBK shutout the Astros carrying a late no-hit bid. And Chris Dion tossed a complete game win over the Alibrandis. However this week’s award is going to tilt towards quantity in addition to quality. The Rockies’ Adam Del Rio threw 12 innings over 2 starts, giving up only 1 run apiece in wins over the Knights and the upstart Townies. Over those 2 starts, the Donkey allowed 8 hits and struck out 9 batters…..but perhaps most impressively not walking a single batter.

Fantasy Impact: Inexplicably, Adam was not selected as a pitcher in the fantasy league. Must have been something to do with only throwing 5 innings last season. But he has matched innings pitched in 2015 with wins in 2016 and is now the proud owner of a 5-0 record. Over 34.1 innings, Del Rio has delivered a 1.63 era and .961 whip…..and a superb 27:3 k:bb ratio. Managers, take notice.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Ted Downing – South Boston Saints  #14


Apparently displeased with being relegated to a mere ‘honorable mention’ for his efforts last time around, Cambridge product Ted Downing kept the pressure on and forced our hand this week. The Saints’ rookie has kept up a torrid pace as of late, his hat now securely in the ring for a potential ‘Rookie of the Year’ award. After a 5-for-9 performance 2 weeks ago, Ted improved on that last week going 7-for-12. Over these 5 games where Downing has been turning it on, the Saints have run the table. It appears at this point that the Saints and Rockies will be doing battle in the first round of the playoffs, and the Saints could win out and put pressure on the Rockies for home-field advantage. For good measure, TD also contributed a W with 2 innings of work against the Maddogs on Thursday.

Fantasy Impact: A big time rookie who projects to be a early/middle-round target on draft boards in 2017, Downing has improved to a .429/.587/1.059 slash line. Worth noting, he is now 2-0 in 5 relief appearances with a 1.11 era.

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