At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Cape League at Midseason: When Indications Become Trends

The 44-game Cape Cod Baseball League season is now half played, and it’s now safe to turn early indications into fully-fledged trends.

At this juncture, it appears the teams to beat in the East are Orleans and Brewster, who are separated by a single point in the standings. However, a recent surge by Yarmouth-Dennis (7-3 over the last 10 games) has put the Red Sox just three points behind the Whitecaps and second place – and since the top two teams in each division qualify for the playoffs, this promises to be an interesting chase to watch.

In the West, streaking Cotuit (also 7-3 in the last 10 games) currently enjoys a five-point advantage over Wareham, which has struggled lately and stands just one point ahead of Falmouth. In turn, the Commodores are only one point ahead of Hyannis, so a real scramble for second place – and that coveted post-season slot – appears to be brewing here.

Between the lines, the general sense is that the pitchers haven’t been as a far ahead of the hitters as is usual for the early going, and the daily game accounts seem to contain more references to home runs being hit than is typical. Remember, this is a wood bat league, and most players take at least this long to make the adjustment from using aluminum. Y-D manager Scott Pickler speculated two weeks ago that the apparent uptick in long balls could have been due to an unusual number of temporary pitchers in the league to that point. Since then, most of the contracted players have arrived on Cape, the temps have gone home, and some spectacular pitching performances have been recorded. So there is evidence to suggest that Pickler’s theory may well have been on target, and that pitching will be more dominant in the season’s second half.

Finally, on another note entirely, Boston Red Sox fans may be interested to know that Matt LaPorta, the club’s 14th round pick (out of Florida) in last month’s draft, has returned to the Cape League with Brewster as a draft-and-follow. The word is that he’s been told he’d be compensated as a higher-round pick if he has a solid summer with the Whitecaps, and so far he’s responded well by hitting .316 (tied for 6th in the league), 4 home runs (tied for second), and 15 RBI (tied for second). LaPorta was a member of the 2004 Cape League champion Y-D Red Sox and the 2005 edition of Team USA, and the way things are going, he could finish this summer as a Lowell Spinner. Stay tuned!

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