Each year that passes, Leroy strives to become the most balanced league in NWLA. We use salaries based on performance that utilize 12 different stats to ensure league competitiveness. That system worked for 6 of the 8 teams in the league, except the Lake County Liners. The first-year owner Caleb Jonkman led the Liners to a 22-4 season, which included a 19-2 regular season. Every player outperformed their salary, and by a lot throughout the year. They lost the best series in Leroy history to the eventual Jager Corn Bombers in the semi-finals. It was a 3 on 3 matchup, and will be the last 3 on 3 matchup the league ever sees in the playoff after a rule change making it mandatory to have 4 in all post season matchups starting in 2018. The Lake County Liners finished with 102 Homers in the 26 games, the only team to hit 100 in one year. They also scored 200 Runs on the year, only team to surpass the 200 mark, they did that with 632 at bats. They finished with a 3.18 E.R.A. which is tied with the 2015 Fantastic Four as the second best E.R.A. in a season. They had 218 k’s, and gave up only 144 hits in 134 IP. The second-best k to hit ratio in the history of league.
Caleb selected Jon Gibson with the 5th pick in the draft. Jon was a late pick due to his inconsistent play in 2016. Austin Gibson was selected with his second round pick, and he signed Joel Mance to round out his draft. Early in the year he signed Quinn Cloghessy to a deal, but released him after a couple of weeks and signed Austin Warner who was released by the Bushleague Badgers.
Caleb finally won the most prestigious award in Leroy, Mr. Leroy. He finished with a 23-4 record on the year, bumping his career to 51-19-1 (0.729). The award goes to the player with the best ranking, a stat that includes both skill and attendance. He cleaned house also winning his first Ironman Award (Player with most at bats, and innings pitching). He won MVP, Batter of Year, and Pitcher of Year in a season that will never be matched. He finished with 59 Homers, 106 RBI’s, and 95 Runs scored in 201 at bats. The second best in any season for those particular stats are 39 Homers (Jon Gibson – 2015), 71 RBI’s (Kyle Jansma – 2017), and 61 Runs scored (Kyle Jansma – 2017). He only struck out 25 times and had 125 hits to finish with a 0.622 batting average. The league average for 2017 was 0.395. He finished with a 1.567 Slugging, which was almost double the league average of 0.799. Not only did he destroy batting numbers, he set pitching records as well. Only 3 players have finished a season with a sub 1.10 E.R.A., Andrew Sitter had a 0.00 E.R.A. in 2014 pitching 8 Innings. Alan Myszkowski pitched 15 Innings in 2014 with a 0.40 E.R.A., and finally Caleb in 2017 pitching 48 Innings and finishing with a 0.63 E.R.A. He allowed just 15 hits in 158 at bats finishing with an opponents’ batting average of 0.095. He had 126 k’s breaking Brett’s 2016 record of 115 for a season. This was the perfect storm for Caleb, he had great finds in the draft signing Austin and Jon Gibson. There was a huge increase in new comers that he took advantage of and I don’t think anyone will every beat out the season he had this season.
Jon Gibson went back to his 2015 form this year and it was great to see. A very underrated player he put up great pitching numbers yet again this year to go with his big bat. He finished the year playing 19 games going 16-3, his career sits at 32-19-1 (0.627). He finished with a great stat line of 21 Homers, 48 RBI’s, and 44 Runs scored in 139 at bats. He hit his 75th career homer this season one of four players to have reached that career milestone. He finished with a 3.75 ERA, and an opponents’ batting average at 0.286. He finished with 54 k’s in 32 Innings pitched, his second season striking out at least 50.
Austin Gibson was ready to finally commit to a full season in 2017, till a leg injury sent him to surgery and missing almost the whole regular season, and the semi-finals. Caleb stuck with him and he performed quite well in the 8 games he played. The Liners won all 8 games he played in this year, bringing his career record to 13-6 (0.684). Austin hit 9 Homers on the year with 13 RBI’s and 17 Runs scored in 54 at bats. His pitching was much improved finishing with a 4.80 ERA, and opponents’ average of 0.302. The highlight for Austin was winning the Home Run Derby knocking 19 homers out in one minute, just beating out Wes Ellis who hit 18.
Austin Warner was signed mid-season and had a hell of year from the mound for the Liners. He finished the season 16-8 bringing his career to 16-10 (0.615). He struggled from the plate in his first full season finishing with a 0.288 batting average knocking 8 Homers, 21 RBI’s and 29 Runs in 163 at bats. It was a rough year when he finished with 68 strikeouts and just 47 hits. While his batting needs improvement his pitching was a huge surprise for the year. In 31 1/3 Innings pitched he finished with a 4.79 ERA, and had 29 k’s. He and Caleb won the skills challenge this year, a challenge that included 5 tasks.
The Lake County Liners were the best team this season, and it was the first time in Leroy history the best team didn’t win the Championship. Caleb has proven everything in this league as a player and now has proven he can draft and lead a team to success. The Liners will be back next year with some new faces and Caleb will have another great challenge ahead of him. Austin Warner is also taking over a team next year, as he will head the Flyin’ Hawaiians. Austin Gibson says he is poised to win rookie of the year next year as he failed to qualify this year. Time will tell if Jon will come back and how committed he will be. The 2017 Liners may be the best team to never win in Leroy history.