We weren't sure what to expect with the first ever HBD world where trading is prohibited, but we dove in, head first, ready to explore the uncharted waters. I've already given my thoughts about what I learned about an HBD world with no trading, but here's a look at the season in review.
Free agency played a pivotal role in determining who would rise to the top, and who would sift to the bottom. One example of that is Magglio Nunez, who took home a big payday, raking in over $80MM over 5 years. But as one of the premier lefties in the league, and little else to choose from, he was in the right situation at the right time.
Free agency wasn't the only place player acquisition took place. In a questionable move, the Clodhoppers waived Cy Young award winner, Toby Hutchinson, in an effort to save a little payroll. Eventual World Series winner, iain, found great relief from his draft pick slot (32nd), as this gifted him the first position in waiver claims. With this, he snagged Hutchinson and rode him all season. The real question is whether or not Hutchinson will resign with the Siege, as he's going into his walk year.
Once the season got started, most of us were accustomed to searching out trading partners to try to improve our team, either for this season or for seasons to come. But not so in this world. The gems had to be sought out in International Free Agency and the draft. Like no other world I've been in before, we saw 4 IFAs go for more than $20MM. Jesus Feliz, Al Gonzales, and Lorenzo Uribe, all from the Dominican Republic, and Mendy Higashioka from Hyogo, Japan. As young 18 year olds, they're leaning on their veteran mentors and coaches to stay grounded and continue to improve to achieve their hopeful outcome of future superstars in the Majors.
But International Free Agency was not the only place to find the future franchise players. The Amateur draft sent Manual Lima to Las Vegas with the top pick. Enrique Batista provided good value at pick number 13, who should be available for the Show in the next couple seasons.
As we got down to the end of the season, the NL produced a great race for the second wild card spot. Tacoma long since locked up the first wild card, but there was a 4 horse race down to the last couple games, involving Toledo, Burlington, St. Louis, and New Orleans. Toledo fought them off in end, winning a playoff spot with 82 wins. In the AL, the evil empire, the New York Yankees, cruised to the #1 seed being the only team to eclipse the 100 win mark with 102 wins. The wild card spots were earned by Pawtucket, with 99 wins, and Montgomery, who also surpassed 90 wins, making it to 91.
New Yorks terrorizing of the AL would quickly come to an end, as they were taken down in game 5 of a 5 game series by Albuquerque after they had already dismissed the Pawtucket Fire Cats a round before. On the other side of the AL, the Seattle Penguins cruised through the Biscuits likes a hot knife on Sunday morning, and silenced the Nashville Sound with their 6 straight playoff wins. They kept that momentum up through the ALCS, steamrolling Albuquerque in 5 games to secure their spot in the World Series.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the favorites in each round were prevailing without exception. That is, of course, until #1, Salem Eruption, and #2, Syracuse Siege, met in the NLCS. Salem, fresh off a 3-0 sweep of Charlotte, was high on confidence. But the execution failed to come through as they fell in 5 games, 4-1, and had to join the New York Yankees as a #1 seed watching the World Series from home.
Seattle, 10-1 in the playoffs, met their match against Toby Hutchinson, aka "The Gift", and the Syracuse Siege. Seattle's offense, which had been formidable in the playoffs, cooled to a chilling end as the Siege took control and never looked back. In a swift 5 game series, Syracuse brought home the World Series trophy, and the pride that comes along with it. It may be cold all winter in Syracuse, New York, but they'll have the company of victory to keep them warm.
So with mistakes behind us and promise ahead, we look forward to another great season in the NTC.