With just three days till opening day we highlight the final team today, the go-ahead favorites to win the Championship. The Leroy Truckers came about just a few weeks ago after Kevin Vroegh stepped down as an owner. Kevin Vroegh never went into the playoffs lower than a 2 seed, and won the 2015 Championship as the owner of the Fantastic Four. The commissioner himself took over the team and brought back the Leroy Truckers. Andrew Sitter is the only player originally drafted by Kevin that remains on the team. He was the 2nd pick in the draft. Jordan Mosel and Nick Fiene were the other two draft picks who were traded to the Sliders in return for Tim Wiltjer and Neil Krooswyk. After Tim took over the team he released Kevin Vroegh and signed Jake Olthof to the squad. In a controversial and shocking move Tim traded his best bud Neil to the Sliders in exchange for Aaron Barnes.
The current Trucker roster is a combined 40-59-7 in 106 games played. They are 6th in games played, as well as 6th in winning percentage. The team boasts only 55 career home runs combined which is last among all rosters. Their pitching has nothing to brag about either, sporting a 7.74 career E.R.A. that sits 6th among all teams. Although this team sits dead last in Home Runs, they sit 3rd in home runs giving up as pitchers, giving up 95 in 149 2/3 innings pitched. One positive we can look at from this club is their run differential. They had 88 Rbi’s and 89 runs scored from the plate last season, while only allowing 79 runs from the mound.
The batting numbers look alright from last year’s vantage point. Sitter hit .394 with 18 homers in 20 games, he also only struck out 35 times in 142 making good contact throughout the year. Tim Wiltjer had career highs in every batting statistic. He finished with a .343 batting average after a rough second half of the year, but finished with 98 total bases. Aaron Barnes and Jake Olthoff had small samples of what they can do behind the plate with 44 and 47 at bats last season respectively. Aaron had a better 2015 where he hit .350 in 60 at bats, this past season his average was .273, something he needs to get back to his 2015 form. Jake struggled adapting to the pitching in his first season in 2016. He finished with a .298 batting average, but had only 4 RBI’s on the year. If this roster holds Sitter will once again have to produce runs and be an All-Batting Player for this team who struggle to find ways to get on.
Sitter not only came off an All Batting season last year, but an All Pitching season as well. The Big 3 of Matt, Caleb, and Brett were in a league of their own last year, but Sitter was the #4 guy. He had a great year posting 58 k’s in 30 innings pitched, to go with a 3.80 E.R.A. and a .302 opponents’ batting average. With his ability to throw at 48’ he won’t have as big of a transitional period to adjust this season and could be a step ahead of most from the mound. Tim came off a career year from the mound as well. The first time in 3 years he finished above average in the pitching ranking. He posted a 5.28 E.R.A. in 36 1/3 innings pitched, striking out 50 and going 3 for 3 in save opportunities. Once again the questions fall into Jake Olthof and Aaron Barnes. Jake pitched 8 1/3 innings with a staggering 12.96 E.R.A. and Aaron was a little better with a 7.50 E.R.A. in 8 innings pitched. Both players are 0-4 in their career and need to get some consistency and ability to limit damage when things get out of hand.
Tim knows the salary rule book in and out. The whole roster is signed up to come Wednesday, but the big question is if this roster will stay in tack all season. He wants to have fun, but compete doing it. With tons of cap space he has the ability to have a very short leash on all 3 guys on his team with 11 new free agents making their way to the field. Sitter wants to win, he has yet to play in the Championship and with a little help week to week he proved last year he can carry a team. I think we will see a Trucker team similar to 2014, a very slow start leading to a hot finish. The question will remain will they have enough chemistry to make a deep run.