Tragedy Strikes Salt River! (Not Really, But Still)

Mike Montgomery, like most of his Rafters teammates, put up a stellar performance in his efforts to keep them in the hunt. (Photo Courtesy of MLB.com)

Mike Montgomery, like most of his Rafters teammates, put up a stellar performance in his efforts to keep them in the hunt.
(Photo Courtesy of MLB.com)

Closing their season with a nigh-heroic seven game win streak, the Salt River Rafters marched dominantly into second place to close the AFL season after never quite challenging the also surging Mesa Solar Sox, winning six of their own in a row to keep their half-game lead. It was a tenuous week for fans of either team but a truly awful outcome for the players and fans of the Rafters, who did nothing but win and ‘couldn’t catch a break.’ It seems as if the Rafters were destined to lose, or if one looks at it positively, the Solar Sox were destined to win. This obviously isn’t true; the Sox’ team of top prospects played slightly better baseball earlier in the season and therefore are obviously deserving of their placement in the championship game against the hard-hitting Surprise Saguaros, but the point that I am laboriously making is that it was only slightly.

 

As is obviously the case with any close playoff-type race, a run here, a catch there and this whole thing shakes out differently. Had CJ Cron not hit 2 dingers and 3 doubles out of his 11 hits while only striking out once in the final five games, the Rafters might be the ones facing the Saguaros on Saturday. Obviously the same could be said for the Rafters’ Aaron Sanchez and his .122 BABIP going into today’s start. But with the dominance of Cron and Kris Bryant, who’s reached base in every game of the AFL thus far, one has to wonder if the Rafters feel a bit cheated.

They did, after all, score more runs, steal almost twice as many bases and have a higher average and OBP. It’s as if the Solar Sox were putting on a clinic on situational hitting a la the Cardinals this year in the Majors. Again, either that or the Rafters were doing the sad opposite. Both teams can obviously be happy with having put up good seasons but I can’t help but think that the Rafters must feel a little cheated out of their chance at an AFL Championship. The Solar Sox basically hit more dingers and outpitched them by a half a run and .03 WHIP, and aside from that just did the right things at the right time, and that obviously counts for everything. But one could see the point if a Salt River player felt wronged after having done more of the right things overall, and that maybe that should make them more deserving of a spot in the championship game, but the beauty of sports is that they would be wrong. Doing the right things at the right time does matter, and accumulating massive blowout victories but sputtering on too many afternoons is intrinsically rewarded less by baseball than consistently good, timely performance. Cron, Bryant and the rest of the position players and a pitching staff on which 14 of 20 pitchers outperformed their FIP are on their way to the big game for the small league. In spite of a big game by Cards’ prospect Stephen Piscotty, and big games before that by most of the roster, the Rafters just couldn’t do what they needed to (which turned out to be win two games in one day, one of which they didn’t play) And if we were to hear grumbling out of their camp about how they wished things had gone differently, who could blame them?

Oh. Well, I guess they don’t care.

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Posted on November 15, 2013, in Arizona Fall League, Outing Report, Top Prospects and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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