FARMINGDALE — Led by 15 players with double-digit home runs and a strong surge from rookie BEMLer Corey Kluber, Farmingdale’s Barracudas brought home their fifth BEML championship, three years after their last title. The 2014 champions wrested the lead from Team Phil Chu in Week 12 before being surpassed by the Craydawgs briefly in Week 22. The Cudas quickly regained their footing in Week 23 and edged the 2013 champs in the end, 56 points to 54.5.
The Barracudas’ owner leads the rioting in downtown Farmingdale.
The Cudas’ success stemmed from a solid core of keepers, including outfielders Starling Marte (.285/11/48/29) and Jacoby Ellsbury (.272/16/70/40), infielders Kyle Seager (.262/19/77/5), Edwin Encarnacion (.270/34/98/2) and Paul Goldschmidt (.301/19/69/5), and closer Kenley Jansen (44 saves, 101 Ks, 2.76/1.13). At the draft, the Cudas added in perennial Fish Jose Bautista (.287/34/102/6) and slugging catcher tandem Evan Gattis (.262/22/50) and Carlos Santana (.231/27/85/5). The Fish scored big with cheap quality starters at the draft table, bringing in Johnny Cueto (18 wins, 209 Ks, 2.41/1.00) and Kluber, who were joined by studs David Price (13 wins, 256 Ks, 3.48/1.10) and Madison Bumgarner (17 wins, 203 Ks, 3.04/1.10).
It was not an easy swim for the Fish. The team lost CarGo for significant time and Goldschmidt went down during the stretch run. The Fish adapted quickly, acquiring free agent Charlie Blackmon (.256/10/44/18 in 411 ABs) and overcoming a consistent years-long league-wide collusion to keep the Fish out of closers by picking up Sean Doolittle (17 saves), Santiago Casilla (10 saves) and Hector Rondon (7 saves). In the end, the Fish led the league in HRs (324), steals (197) and wins (103), and set a BEML record with 1,548 strikeouts. Incredibly, the Cudas took the title while posting the league’s worst batting average by far (.256).
The Craydawgs fell short of repeating and settled for second place. The Dawgs were able to put a scare into the Fish in weeks 20-21 by surging 6.5 points into first, but relinquished the lead for good in week 22. The 2014 Dawgs used a foundation of franchise pitchers — Max Scherzer (17 wins, 246 Ks, 3.25/1.19), Chris Sale (12 wins, 208 Ks, 2.17/0.97) and Adam Wainwright (20 wins, 179 Ks, 2.38/1.03) — together with a solid stable of closers led by Huston Street (41 saves, 1.37/0.94). The team led the league in saves (174) but fell short of the record (195) set by the 2006 Snowmen. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez (.275/27/113), shortstop Ian Desmond (.258/24/91/23) and outfielder Andrew McCutchen (.313/25/83/17) helped pace the Dawgs to the league lead in BA (.279) and RBI (1,159). Churning through 54 players on their 2014 roster, the Dawgs cobbled together BEML records for at bats (8,755) and hits (2,445), breaking the Cudas’ former records in those categories (8,234 at bats in 2004 and 2,395 in 1996).
The Dawgs dealt with difficult injuries to high-priced sluggers Jay Bruce (.216/17/61/12) and Matt Wieters (.310/5/17), and were burned badly by trading away stars Anthony Rizzo and Adam Jones for a pitching boost from ace Masahiro Tanaka, who quickly got injured and missed the majority of the season. The Dawgs backfilled well with free agent hitters Michael Brantley (.339/11/57/15 in 395 ABs) and Corey Dickerson (.291/8/25 in 134 ABs) and pitchers Garrett Richards (2.77/0.97 in 45 IP) and Cody Allen (12 saves, 1.93/1.07), but fell just short of the prize. Four wins and a couple of Dirty Dogs steals (who finished one steal shy of the Cudas) would have made the difference.
Did you know? The Dawgs’ owner once suited up in pinstripes.
Massapequa’s Dirty Dogs grabbed the bronze for the third time (’08, ’12, ’14) in the franchise’s eight-year BEML history, finishing six points off the lead. The Filthy Ones led the league in runs and finished top three in seven of the ten categories. The Pups were anchored on offense by Miguel Cabrera (.309/25/107), Nelson Cruz (.270/33/92/4) and Carlos Gomez (.286/23/70/34), but suffered disappointing performances from Chris Davis (.185/14/46) and Joey Votto (.254/6/22). On the mound, Justin Verlander did not live up to his lofty salary (5.22 ERA), though Jon Lester did his best to make up for it (15 wins, 190 Ks, 2.10/1.03). But for Verlander’s collapse in 2014, the Dogs perform better in ERA, Wins and WHIP and contend for the title. Fortunately for them, the DDs squeaked past Team Phil Chu in the season’s final week to claim the bronze.
In honor of the Dirty Dogs’ third-place finish, Massapequa’s All-American Burger created “The Dirty Dog.”
Team Phil Chu finished in fourth, making a strong showing in 2014 after finishing in last place the prior three seasons. The final standings don’t show it, but TPC led the league for most of the first half and even led as late as Week 18 before falling to fourth in the final week. The cornerstone of the ’14 TPC squad was pitching. TPC shattered the BEML record for ERA (2.77), surpassing the 3.02 ERA set by the 2005 Barracudas, and edged the 2011 Snowmen (1.11 WHIP) for the BEML WHIP record (1.08). Clayton Kershaw (21 wins, 232 Ks, 1.69/0.84) led Team Phil Chu while garnering the league’s 2014 Bonds MVP Award and Maddux Awards. At the dish, TPC was led by ’14 batting title runner-up Victor Martinez (.333/31/99) and Justin Upton (.271/29/102/7), but the team’s Achilles’ heel was a lack of speed — TPC finished last in the league in steals (129).
TPC’s Kershaw brought home the Maddux Award and the Bonds MVP Award.
While the top four teams finished within 7.5 points of each other, there was a big dropoff to fifth (29 points back), where Team Dave landed in their inaugural season. Team Dave drafted the ’14 BEML Rookie of the Year, Jose Abreu (.316/35/105/3) and secured cornerstone first baseman Anthony Rizzo (.287/19/44/4 in 314 ABs) via trade from the Craydawgs. Abreu was the only player to secure 500+ at bats for Team Dave. TD scuffled near the bottom of the standings for much of the season but at a certain point turned the page to 2015 by acquiring core players Rizzo, Jose Altuve, Neil Walker and King Felix via trade to try to make a run next season.
Dave TV won the coveted broadcast rights to Team Dave’s 2015 games.
Mayhem rejoined the league after a two-year hiatus and finished sixth. Just three points out of first through Week 15, Mayhem hit the skids and then surpassed the league’s 1,500 IP limit, taking an eight-point hit in the final week. The tailspin coincided with a July injury that shelved shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (.343/21/51) together with a mid-season trade of MVP contender Mike Trout (.287/36/111/16) to Team Phil Chu. Mayhem will regroup and head into 2015 with prime keepers Giancarlo Stanton (.282/36/97/12), Josh Donaldson (.256/28/92/8) and Anthony Rendon (.287/19/73/17).
Mayhem went over the 1,500 innings limit.
The 2014 Grove St. Villagers came off a season of promise in 2013, in which the GSV had the fourth best finish (.486) by an expansion team in BEML history (surpassed only by the 2012 Ancient Maroners, the 1994 SeaWolves and the 1996 Outbreak teams). In 2014, however, GSV nearly went wire-to-wire in last place (save for a Weeks 10-12) and actually set the BEML record for futility (.100) for a drafted team (the 2002 Ballbags and 2013 Arsenal teams had worse records but drafted their teams after the annual draft). GSV finished last or next-to-last in nine of the 10 categories (the exception: steals, where GSV finished fourth). The team never seemed to gel as 63 players suited up but were traded with such frequency they never had time to get to know each other. Only Howie Kendrick (.287/4/60/10) had more than 500 at bats for GSV, and only Mike Leake (3.91 ERA) registered more than 150 IP. Grove St. will look to turn it around in 2015 with keepers such as Todd Frazier and George Springer.
Villagers fans are getting restless for victory.