All-Star Break Rundown: Record Chases, Award Races

Dalton Ponce (St. Mary's CA) is one of several Big Train players that could challenge league records this season.

Wednesday night was the Cal Ripken League All-Star Game, in which the Maryland All-Stars, featuring Big Train's players, triumphed 12-3. That game marks a significant turning point in any baseball season: the season is two thirds over, and the dust is starting to settle. It's at this point that award races, record chases, and the like become viable points of conversation as the season winds down. So, let's take a look at some things to watch out for to close out the Big Train season.

Firstly, it should be pointed out Gio Diaz (St. Mary's CA) already has a record. He broke the single-season CRCBL steals record by stealing his 32nd base in the most recent regular-season game. Sitting at 33 steals now, he has a chance to break the Big Train career record of 38, set by Jonnie Knoble (BT 2004-05).

Another hot candidate to break a CRCBL record this season is Kobe Kato (Arizona). Now, at first glance, it may seem like a daunting task--his average is currently .455, and he cannot allow it to dip below .433, which is the league's record. Keeping up that pace will be difficult, and he has little room for error. However, he does also have a shot at the Big Train single-season average record of .417, set a year ago by Justin Wylie. 

But a record Kato may have better odds at is perhaps the single season on-base percentage record. Currently, he rocks a .630, which is vastly higher than the .552 league record. With 11 games remaining and 29 in the books, he has a pretty legitimate chance to get that one. His ability to draw walks and consistently reach base seems solid enough that, even given a slump, with only a fraction of the schedule remaining he'll contend to set the record.

Aside from Kato and Diaz, no other batters truly have a chance at records, but Jacob Southern's (Jacksonville) name has floated around in the early league MVP conversations, as he leads the league with seven homers and 29 RBIs, and ranks seventh among qualifiers with a .344 average. 

As far as pitchers, both Chase Lee (Alabama) and Dalton Ponce (St. Mary's CA) have some shot at the CRCBL's single-season strikeout record. The record was set in 2010 by Max Knowles with the Alexandria Aces at 60 strikeouts. Currently, Lee's 40 has him on pace for roughly 55. Ponce's total (43) has him on pace for 59, but he may also not see enough starts to hit that projected pace. For either player to break the record, they'd have to one-up their previously impressive performance, so it'll be difficult--but within reach.

Jacob McCarvel (California Baptist) currently has a 0.00 ERA, which would tie him for the league's record. Yes, a 0.00 ERA has been achieved for a full season in the past, so McCarvel would not be the first. It's worth noting that a Big Train pitcher has notched a 0.00 ERA in each of the last two seasons (Stephen Schoch in 2017 and Ryan Metz in 2018), but neither of them threw enough innings to qualify for the title. As of now, McCarvel is well short of qualifying as well. 

And finally, going back to Ponce--for a record he likely has a better chance at--if he can win two more games on the season, he'll tie the CRCBL league record of seven wins in a season. He currently has five and will likely see at least two more starts.

That's a brief tour through some of the storylines developing around the Big Train currently. With the last stretch of the season ready to kick off, gear up for Friday's game against Alexandria, which would be an excellent opportunity to watch all of your favorite players continue in their quest for greatness.

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