This week's highlight is the Lake County Liners. Caleb Jonkman will own the team, his first year as an owner. The two time MVP will have full control of who he plays with this season, and where they play. One word to describe his draft; Risk. He had the fifth pick in the draft this season and signed the 2015 Mr. Leroy, Jon Gibson. He grabbed his brother Austin with his second round pick, the 10th overall. He wrapped up his draft signing Joel Mance.
The Liners go into this season with the least amount of games played, and by far. The 4 guys on the roster have played a total of only 90 games going 49-39-2 in those games. Although they have the most dynamic batting roster of the 7 teams, and statistically the 2nd best pitching staff in the league the small sample won't prove anything until they get out and get some games under their belt. The roster has 4 All Star appearances with Caleb getting 3 of them himself. Everyone knows by now Joel is on his way out as Caleb looks to sign one of the now 10 free agents signed up for opening day. This roster has a 0.509 career batting average combined, yes that's right the team as a whole gets on more than it doesn't get on. My favorite stat of this roster is the fact they rank dead last in at bats at 705, yet lead all 7 teams in Home Runs and Runs scored. They have 244 rbi's between the four of them and the top team has 245. They lead in categories in the pitching numbers as well. First in E.R.A. at 4.92, first in opponents hitting at 0.314. The problem with these numbers is that of the 90 games, 77 have been played by Jon and Caleb. Basically these two together would beat every team in the league by alot, no one would dispute that, the issue is each team needs 4 players to win a Championship.
Let's dive into the numbers a little bit more and look at the roster from an individual stand point. There is no way this team finishes out of the top 2 in hitting no matter who they sign for the other two spots. Of all players who have played 12 or more games in their career, Caleb is ranked #1, and Jon is ranked #2 in batting ranking. Caleb has won Batter of the year every year so far posting ridiculous numbers year in and out. Caleb has hit 66 career home runs, while striking out 69 times. Jon has hit 55 homers in his career, striking out 58 times. That's a .957 and .948 ratio respectively. When you take the league career numbers of 733 home runs and 1962 strikeouts you get a ratio of .374 and start to understand the dominance these 2 can produce. Austin in a small sample had similar numbers in 2014 posting 6 homers and 8 k's in 33 at bats with a .545 batting average. So as for hitting i don't think this team has to worry, as long as Caleb and Jon are in the lineup they will score.
The pitching side of things will be a little different. Caleb had great numbers in 2016, posting a 1.65 E.R.A. in 40 innings pitched and still recording 92 k's. Jon actually in the small sample of last year's season had remarkable numbers as well. A 1.71 E.R.A. and opponents batting average of .276 in 14 innings pitched. If both perform at that level this year this team will be in the top half of the league in pitching. The problem comes after that, Austin posted a 20.57 E.R.A. and gave up 12 homers in 4 and 2/3 innings pitched last season. He has given up 32 runs in 10 2/3 career innings and can't seem to tame his heat. If they give up 8 runs every time he's on the mound it will take a toll on the bats for this team to always have to catch up. Plus the fact they need to make one more signing and these games might reach double digits week in and out.
Like i said before this team has the most risk that many other owner's seem to think is great risk. He finished 1st in the owner's poll going into the season. Another wrench has been thrown into the equation as both Gibson's are going to be coming off injuries. Jon had a major ankle sprain, yet still looks to be active week 2 or 3. Austin broke his leg and could miss 4-5 weeks, time he needs to control his pitch. The most ironic part of this is the fact this team has so many questions to it, with its owner being the most consistently dominant player in the league.