Independent Baseball Insider: Vol. 11, No. 23, July 18, 2013
By Bob Wirz
One statistic regarding the pre-All-Star Game portion of the major league season may blow a few minds, including those in high powered front offices.
To set the stage, I went back to last October when in this space I wrote that 17 pitchers with Independent Baseball experience combined for 67 regular-season wins, even without the 20 that onetime Atlantic League trainee Jered Weaver (Camden, NJ) posted for the Los Angeles Angels.
When the Race to October resumes for the 30 major league teams on Friday the Independent hurlers will be out to improve on their count that already totals 69 victories in 2013.
It is true that American League All-Star starter Max Scherzer, who was with the Fort Worth (TX) Cats (American Association) when his professional career started in ’07, has 13 of the wins. But 17 other hurlers who have pulled on Independent uniforms have contributed to the victory total, with 12 of them collecting a “W” at least three times. Twenty-nine of the triumphs have been credited to those who threw their first professional pitch in a non-affiliated league.
Kansas City reliever Aaron Crow (pictured), who also started in Fort Worth, ranks second with six wins followed by All-Star Steve Delabar of Toronto (Brockton, MA, Can-Am League and Florence, KY, Frontier League), All-Star voting finalist Tanner Scheppers of Texas (St. Paul, MN, American Association), rejuvenated Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir (Sugar Land, TX, Atlantic) and the Angels’ Jerome Williams (Lancaster, PA, Atlantic and Long Beach, CA (Golden League) with five apiece.
Wichita in Great Spot by Winning 13 in a Row
Wichita, KS typically has about three weeks on the road late in the season when Lawrence-Dumont Stadium is needed for the National Baseball Congress, but Kevin Hooper has his Wingnuts in position where they could even afford a little drop off and still be strong in the American Association.
They have ripped off a team-record 13 in a row to run their impressive season record to 41-18 and started a seven-game home stand last night (Thursday). Hooper’s team also has been proving it can withstand the loss of all-time wins leader Ryan Hinson, whose contract was sold to Atlanta a few days ago. Hinson left with a 7-2 record and league-best 1.53 earned run average although the most startling fact may be that he had not allowed more than three earned runs in any of 10 starts this season. He gave up that many just once.
Wichita’s strength shows when one realizes no other team in the 13-team league has won more than six times in their last 10 games, allowing the Wingnuts to build a six and a half game divisional lead over Gary, IN, which has the third best overall record and would stand to be the playoff wildcard if they were starting now.
(Bob Wirz also writes about Independent Baseball on www.IndyBaseballChatter.com. Fans may subscribe to this Independent Baseball Insider column, which will be published 40 times in 2013, at www.WirzandAssociates.com or comment to RWirz@aol.com. The author has 16 years of major league baseball experience with Kansas City and as spokesman for two Commissioners, and lives in Stratford, CT.)