The last week of action in the LBPRC proved to be fulled with plenty of excitement and suspense. The last playoff spot was up for grabs down to the very last strike call of the last game in the regular season.
In the end, the Santurce Crabbers managed to fend off the last minute surging Caguas Criollos to secure their spot into the playoffs. Despite a three game winning steak by Caguas, it was not enough and they will not be defending their championship title for a third time.
So with the new year, we will also have a new LBPRC champion declared; the first new champion in three years.
So the stage is now set for the postseason which will have a Round Robin format and will run from January 2-20, 2019.
Each team will play each other six times in order to set the stage for the championship finale series. The LBPRC champion will go on to represent Puerto Rico in the 2019 Caribbean Series which will be held in Barquisimeto, Venezuela from February 2-8, 2019.
The participating countries in the 2019 Caribbean Series will be: Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Venezuela.
But before we start talking about the Caribbean Series, let’s take a look at what to expect in the LBPRC postseason.
The champion title will be up for grabs between the Mayagüez Indians, Carolina Giants and the Santurce Crabbers. Neither the Indians or Carolina has had a recent title, and Santurce is looking to pick off where it let off from the 2015-2016 season when it reclaimed it’s 14th title in franchise history.
The current match ups for the 2018-2019 season are almost equal setting up a very competitive series in January.
Mayagüez has a slight winning record against Carolina (6-5) but has lost all three of the most recent games against the Giants. Against Santurce, the Indians lost a winning record against the Crabbers losing all three of the most recent games and finishing the regular season with a 5-7 against the Santurce.
Santurce has been able to reverse some of their momentum with recent wins most of which have come off the Carolina Giants who the Crabbers have a 5-7 record against them, going 3-2 in the last 5 games played against Carolina.
Carolina has an overall winning record against Santurce but like I mentioned, much of that record has reverse in the negative direction, due to the Giants going 2-3 in the last five games against the Crabbers.
New Additions: common practice in the LBPRC to select players from the eliminated team to boost up roster spots that need reinforcements due to injuries or players no longer playing
Mayagüez Indians losing, easily their MVP, Kenny Vargas who’s new organization in Japan requested he limit his playing time prior to the start of the season in Japan in 2019)
As of December 31st, these are the new additions to the teams:
- Mayagüez: David Vidal, 3B for Caguas who ended the season hitting .233/.329/.388 with 5 HR and 24 RBIs
- Don’t let these numbers fool you. Mayagüez is known to make under the radar trades as was with the case with Rey Navarro who ended up being a good add once his bat woke up. Perhaps Mayagüez is betting that their second pick in the season from Caguas turns out favorably for them as well.
- Santurce: added starting pitcher, Ivan Maldonado who ended the regular season with a 2.20 ERA in 32 and two-thirds of an inning giving up 10 runs, 9 walks and striking out 12.
- Carolina: went for the big gun and got Jack Lopez arguably one of Caguas best hitters. Lopez ended the season hitting .355/.407/.514 with 38 huts and 15 RB
A lot of the playoffs selections are based on various reasons: availability of players who want/can play and limit of import players on a team due to league rules.
Playoffs are shaping up to be a very interesting and competitive scenario. Mayagüez currently holds a slight advantage in the team batting department (and when I say slight I mean razor thin advantage)
In the pitching department, Santurce holds the best team ERA versus Mayagüez and Carolina, but again that advantage is minimal at best.
We know that the postseason tends to bring out the best in players, so we will see how if Santurce or Carolina can over power the Mayagüez Indians, or if Mayagüez is able to out match the Crabbers and Giants and claim their 19th championship title in franchise history.
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