Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Little League World Series Preview (2014)


Jackie Robinson West (Chicago), Illinois

Overall 2014 Record: 14-0
Great Lakes Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 11-24

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 1.80
Team K/6: 9.4
Team Batting Avg: .473 (12 of 13 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 0.83

Key Players: Marquis Jackson (.600, 4 HR, 8 RBI, 11 R), Pierce Jones (.750, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 12 R), Trey Hondras (.474, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 9 R)

Overview: Jackie Robinson West puts a ton of pressure on teams with its base running up and down the lineup, but the big three hitters are scary good. Six players took the ball out of the yard during regionals, and five different pitchers started games. Brandon Green has big strikeout ability (11 K in 5 innings) and Jackson is a beast in relief (mid-70s fastball). This team has the potential to be the best Great Lakes team in a decade or more and one of the most fun to watch.


Pacific (Lynnwood), Washington

Overall 2014 Record: 16-2
Northwest Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 20-18 (Without Hawaii, 15-16)

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 1.45
Team K/6: 9.4
Team Batting Avg: .341 (7 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 1.67

Key Players: Tyler Durbin (.667, 1 HR, 8 RBI)

Overview: Pacific isn't a team that is dominant by any stretch and they certainly don't have any dominant individual players. Pacific is also a singles hitting team. They only had three home runs in the regional (nobody with more than one). Pacific relies on Ian Michael on the mound along with Logan Kruse, but the rest of the staff performed well during the regional. Eastlake, Washington was a huge surprise in Williamsport last year. If this team matched that 3-2 performance, it would be a surprise as well.

Canyon Lake (Rapid City), South Dakota
Overall 2014 Record: 12-0
Midwest Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 4-30

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 4.26
Team K/6: 7.3
Team Batting Avg: .431 (9 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 0.67

Key Players: Dylan Richey (.667, 5 HR, 22 RBI), Bridger Nesbit (.522, 1 HR, 4 2B, 7 RBI), Matthew Hegre (.500, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 14 R)

Overview: The Midwest is the weakest region in the United States by far with just four wins in 12 years. Canyon Lake rolled through the Midwest regional (without beating Minnesota) and they did it with their offense. Dylan Richey is on fire at the plate and he has some table setters ahead of him. The pitching staff didn't get it done, but the defense behind them did with only four errors total in the regional. That's impressive. With the type of pitching Canyon Lake expects to see in Williamsport, I can't see them making a run at all this year, however.


Mountain Ridge (Las Vegas), Nevada

Overall 2014 Record: 14-0
West Pool Play/Double Elim Record (Since 2002): 32-9

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 1.23
Team K/6: 8.2
Team Batting Avg: .338 (9 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 1.33

Key Players: Austin Kryszczuk (.429, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 12 R. 19 K, 1.09 ERA)

Overview: Kryszczuk is the type of player that could enter LLWS lore. He carries Mountain Ridge with his arm and his bat. Add in big time players like Brennan Holligan and Bradley Stone and you have a potential World Series champion. Kryszczuk and Holligan are both big and strong and have the goods to lead the way. While Jackie Robinson West is expected to be strong, historically this is an easy path to the U.S. title game for a West squad.


Taney Youth Baseball Association (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania

Overall 2014 Record: 17-2
Mid-Atlantic Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 15-22

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 2.72
Team K/6: 8.0
Team Batting Avg: .336 (7 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 0.67

Key Players: Jahli Hendricks (.611, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 9 R), Jared Sprague-Lott (.533, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 7 R), Mo'Ne Davis (2-0, 1 SV, 17 Ks in 12 IP)

Overview: The story of the regionals was Mo'Ne Davis and her dominant pitching performance in the championship game, but she actually has a higher ERA than the team average. The staff is deep with Sprague-Lott and Richardson as capable starters. Lipson and Cummings are solid in relief. Offensively, this team has good home run power with Zion Spearman looking to get on track. Leading up to the regional he was the scariest hitter on the team. Statistics and history don't back up a deep run for Taney in the World Series, however.


South Nashville, Tennessee

Overall 2014 Record: 11-1
Southeast Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 25-14

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 4.25
Team K/6: 9.0
Team Batting Avg: .337 (6 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 0.83

Key Players: Sam Slaughter (.533, 3 HR, 12 RBI), Blake Money (.385, 1 HR, 4 RBI), Robert Hassell (.385, 1 HR, 2 RBI)

Overview: Statistically, this is not the greatest Southeast team. The ERA is through the roof, and the offense is ranked one of the lowest in the LLWS. This is still a team that was here a year ago with experienced coaches and two players back. Money and Hassell are both solid on the mound and Slaughter has been hitting the heck out of the baseball. An opening game against the media darlings could go either way. The result will be a big determination of this team's fate.


Pearland East, Texas East

Overall 2014 Record: 15-0
Southwest Pool Play/Dbl Elim Record (Since 2002): 23-12

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 2.14
Team K/6: 7.71
Team Batting Avg: .307 (4 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 1.8

Key Players: Clayton Broeder (.500, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 9 R), Jonathan Newman (8.2 IP, 11Ks, 0.00 ERA)

Overview: Pearland was the best team in the Southwest Region and played the toughest schedule, possibly of anyone in the country. Maybe that's the reason they don't have great statistics because this team is not impressive on paper except for the where they come from. As a team they barely hit .300, they didn't hit for a ton of extra base hits, and they made almost two errors per game. Jon Newman didn't allow a run in two victories, but had less than 1 1/2 strikeouts per inning. Bryce Laird, Brandon Sliwinski, and Broeder each hit over .500 to lead the team. Michael Groover led the team in XBH with four, all doubles. He also had nine RBI to lead the team.


Cumberland American, Rhode Island

Overall 2014 Record: 12-1
New England Pool Play/Dbl Elim (Since 2002): 18-19

Regional Stats
Team ERA: 3.74
Team K/6: 6.2
Team Batting Avg: .380 (7 players over .300)
Team Errors Per Game: 0.83

Key Players: Addison Kopack (.474, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 10 R), Jayden Struble (.619, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 12 R)

Overview: Coach Belisle said before the regionals that this team would need to hit its way to a regional title and it did. The top seven hitters all hit .333 or better and six of them are well over .400. The only reason Cumberland isn't the best hitting team overall is because the subs and the starters who get subbed out have all struggled. The five of them have a total of four hits. Cumberland can win a few games if the bats get deep into some pitching staffs, and the top two or three starters are definitely serviceable.


Opening Round: Great Lakes over Northwest, West over Midwest, Southeast over Mid-Atlantic, Southwest over New England.

Winners Bracket: West over Great Lakes, Southwest over Southeast

Losers Bracket: Northwest over Midwest, Mid-Atlantic over New England

Losers Bracket Round: Southeast over Northwest, Great Lakes over Mid-Atlantic

Winners Bracket Final: West over Southwest

Losers Bracket Semis: Great Lakes over Southeast

Losers Bracket Final: Southwest over Great Lakes

U.S. Championship: West over Southwest

World Championship: Japan over West

Random Thoughts: This has potential to be a great World Series. There's plenty of storylines and intrigue. The West Region is the favorite, but Nevada has NEVER been the LLWS before. South Nashville is back for a second straight year and neither time did they dominate on the road to Williamsport, but they're always solid. The West has won five of the last six US championships and six overall since 2002. They've appeared in 8 of the 12 since the field expanded to eight US teams. Southeast has won four titles over those 12 years with the Northwest (Hawaii, who's no longer in Northwest) and Great Lakes each have one. The Mid-Atlantic and Midwest have never reached the U.S. championship game since the field expanded in 2002. New England has reached the final three times including last year.

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1 comment:

Baseball Hitting said...

Great review - this years tournament surely lived up to its expectations and then some. Can't wait for next year!