This week marks the second installment outlining the performance of each team in the first half. Here are the remaining four teams that are fighting to move up the standings.
2016 Mid-season Statistics:
Charity Represented: Islamic ReliefGM: Amir Khalil
Captain: Tanseer Khawaja
Top Performer: Suhail Taji
Second-half Sleeper: Shamil Khadaroo
Biggest Surprise: Zain Malik
Remaining Schedule: vs. Seljuqs, @ Ayyubids, @ Abbasids, vs. Mughals, @ Mamluks
Team stats: 0.409 batting average; 0.455 on-base percentage; 13 homeruns; 106 hits; 8.4 runs scored per game
The Stallions had a brutal start to the season going 1-6 before they turned things around in the final week with two victories before the break. The team has struggled offensively with only two games with double digit runs. From the start of the season, we knew the Sultans didn't have the most offensive talent but no one expected they would be near the bottom in runs scored. While Suhail Taji and Ali Nazir have decent numbers, they haven't broken out the homerun power just yet. Suhail had a fantastic second half of the season last year so they will be hoping he can come through again. The bottom of their order has been disappointing so far with Atif Parvaiz, Zayd Ramjaun and (surprisingly) Ahmed Ramadan all hitting below 0.300. Shamil Khadaroo has really come on since the start of his rookie season and has been swinging a hot bat over the last few weeks. Amir Khalil battles through injury to marshal his troops but would expect more from himself after a disappointing first half of the season. However, with two homeruns in the exhibition tournament, the little man that could is looking more like the little man that will.
Team stats: 4.7 errors per game; 11.6 runs given up per game; 4.1 unearned runs per game
Allowing almost 5 errors a game is never a good thing. To make matters worse, the Sultans allow those 5 errors to turn into 4 runs every game- tops in the league. They have adequate fielders with W K, Noor Sheikh and Aftab Sheikh but have struggled limit the mistakes every game. They were able to pull off two victories in the last week while committing only a total of 5 errors. The whites have the defensive talent to be much better in the field than they have been and will only be able to hold a playoff spot if they can follow the same recipe for success.
Team stats: 10.1 earned runs per game; 17 home run given up; 1.5 strikeouts per game; 1.7 walks per game
The Sultans made a draft day trade to move up to take last year's pitcher of the year, Tanseer 'Robocop' Khawaja. Despite the Sultans poor record, Tanseer has done his best to give the Sultans a fighting chance. While his strikeout totals maybe down, his walks per game are the lowest in the league. Tanseer will continue to be his consistent self every week and the defense behind him will have to do a better job of making the routine outs. Tanseer has helped his young squad in more ways than just pitching, taking over the captaincy of the team, and showing some power with some dingers on the season too.
The Sultans fortune changed on June 5th and now sit in control of a playoff spot. The team celebrated with a sheesha party in the parking lot. GM Amir Khalil continues to enforce strict dug-out rules so his players don't wonder off to the smoking zone between games. They face an important first week back with match ups against the Seljuqs and Ayyubids who they are sandwiched between in the standings. They have two difficult games to end the season so they will need to take care of business in the first few weeks before they face the Mamluks and Mughals. The Sultans are looking to get back into the playoffs this year after missing out last season.
Charity Represented: ISNA Food Bank
GM: Ibrahim Sardar
Captain: Imran Merchant
Top Performer: Taha Iqbal
Second-half Sleeper: Furhan Azmat
Biggest Surprise: Asim Gauhar
Remaining Schedule: @ Sultans, vs. Abbasids, vs. Ayyubids, @ Ottomans, vs. Nasrids
Team stats: 0.366 batting average; 0.458 on-base percentage; 14 homeruns; 85 hits; 8.6 runs scored per game
Rookie GM Ibrahim Sardar took some gambles on draft day and the reds are still waiting for those investments to mature. They have struggled to bring firepower every week and to put up enough runs to win games. The Seljuqs became the second team to be shut out in a game and were only able to muster one hit against the Mamluks. While they drafted players coming off productive offensive seasons, every player save a few are having their worst offensive seasons this year. Furhan Azmat and Sheraz Mahmood have sharply fallen off the peaks they reached last year. Furhan sits towards the bottom of the league in batting average, a stat he was top 10 in last year. Sheraz has spent more time celebrating his milestone birthday and vacationing than playing for his new squad. Asim Gauhar has been the lone bright spot offensively and is one of two players hitting 0.500 on the angry birds. The Seljuqs might need to shuffle their batting order to spark the offense but management is confident that their bats will come alive in the second half.Defense
Team stats: 3.7 errors per game; 14.7 runs given up per game; 3.7 unearned runs per game
The Seljuqs as expected have one of the better defenses in the league with defensive savant Imran Merchant and GM Ibrahim Sardar in the outfield. Shortstop Sameer Rafqiue has had an up and down season so far but we know he can be one of the better middle infielders in the league. The challenge has been trying to fit in the rest of the pieces with some guys playing different positions every week. Arshad Chawdhry was one of the better first basemen last year but has been moved to the outfield where the learning curve has been steep. Coming off a Most Improved Player award, Fuzail Thakur has been asked to take a bigger role in centre field. Third base has been weakened with gold glover Taha Iqbal being move to the mound and A R being asked to fill big shoes at the hot corner. Yasser Zia and Omar Huda have been playing roulette with positions so far. The team will need to figure out the playoff rotation and clamp down in the field for the second half.
Team stats: 15.6 earned runs per game; 20 home run given up; 1.1 strikeouts per game; 6.3 walks per game
The Seljuqs have experimented with pitching so far this season and it hasn't worked so far. A R began the season as their starter but only lasted 5 games after struggling with a high walk total. Taha Iqbal has taken over for the forseeable future. Taha had a brilliant first week with two victories and a total of 9 runs allowed but struggled in his games against the Mamluks and Mughals. He gives them the best chance of victory if he can keep his walks at a minimum.
The Seljuqs management had the difficult task of taking over a team and creating a new culture. The Seljuqs had an unusual draft, taking a mix of players from different teams and coming away without a proven pitcher even with a few available in the late rounds. The Seljuqs struggled with attendance early in the season and will need to get everyone motivated for the playoff push with crucial games on the horizon. They have been promised that Sheraz bhai will be available the rest of the way. The good news for the Seljuqs is they have a favourable schedule to close out the season. They control their own destiny in the playoff hunt with games against the Sultans and Abbasids in the first week back that could either see them move up to 4th or move all the way down to 7th.
Charity Represented: Hospital for Sick Children
GM: Ahmad Hussain
Captain: Haris Mallick
Top Performer: Kashif Irshad
Second-half Sleeper: Hammad Afif
Biggest Surprise: Atif Qureshi
Remaining Schedule: vs. Ayyubids, @ Seljuqs, vs. Sultans, vs. Mamluks, @ Mughals
Team stats: 0.380 batting average; 0.444 on-base percentage; 14 homeruns; 96 hits; 8.3 runs scored per game
Rookie GM Ahmad Hussain came into the draft with a strategy and came away from the draft excited about his squad. On paper, this team looks like a formidable offense but they have disappointed their fans so far. The struggles start with the Abbasids GM trio of Ahmad Hussain, Haris Mallick and Rameez Siddiqi who average 0.420 with a few homeruns. Rameez 'Raja' Siddiqi has been a shell of himself with miserable stats compared to his rookie season where he set the league ablaze. Raja has noticeably slimmed down from last year, and that can attribute to the lack of power numbers this year (though looking svelte is never a bad thing - we see you, bro) The lions have the lowest on-base percentage in the league and the second least number of hits. Kashif Irshad has been the team's best hitter so far with good power numbers and leading the team is almost every offensive category. Atif Qureshi has been a nice surprise with a career best average. Nauman Abbasi was promoted to the leadoff spot to get on base but continues to try to prove he can hit for power with his backwards swing while all he has to do is get his wheels on base. Saoud Ramjaun remains the only player this season without a hit so far. Hammad Afif started off his BSL career with a bang but has fizzled since. The Abbasids GM needs to do something to wake up his teams bats. Unless the lions find a way to wake up their bats, they will find themselves on the outside looking in come post-season.
Team stats: 2.4 errors per game; 13.6 runs given up per game; 2.8 unearned runs per game
The Abbasids possess one of the leagues best defense with gold glovers and great fielders in most positions. The addition of Kamil Haider and Hammad Afif have given the Abbasids a formidable infield to complement corner infielders Haris Mallick and Fraz Butt. The experienced tandem have kept balls in the infield and turned some highlight reel plays. When the ball has stayed in the yard, orange have used their experience to make the routine plays. They have limited their errors and have avoided letting those unearned runs come in. We expect their defense to help keep them in games.
Team stats: 15.1 earned runs per game; 27 home run given up; 1.0 strikeouts per game; 2.7 walks per game
The Abbasids came in with a game plan to pick a mature pitcher early in the draft to not suffer from last year's inconsistency. Ahmad made a bold move selecting Omair Zuberi in the first round after Omair's brilliant season last year. However, the story hasn't gone according to script. Omair has allowed more homeruns in half a season (24) than he had allowed in his first two seasons combined (18). His strikeout totals are also significantly down after his all-star performance last year. There is no explaining his rapid decline except for batter's no longer being mezmerized by his long, luscious, awe-inspring, ravishing, provacative, borderline risque- blowing hair. The Abbasids have tried out Kamil Haider on the mound but that has compromised their defense with second option at shortstop. We have heard that Zuberi has been practicing over the break to find a solution to his lost art.
As the oldest team in the league, the Abbasids have lacked the fire and drive to pull off crucial wins this season - interesting after building around two younger players last year. After losing to the winless Nasrids, the orangemen need to quickly find a solution to their poor run of form. GM Ahmad Hussain has been suffering from sleepless nights and is hoping a few role changes might spark the troops. They start off the second half with important matchups against the Ayyubids and Seljuqs. They follow that up with a game against the Sultans before they face the mighty Mamluks. They close out the season against the Mughals and will want to lock up a playoff spot in their next three games because their final two games will be up hill battles.
Charity Represented: ICNA Relief
GM: Kashif Waheed
Captain: Usama Mahmood
Top Performer: Osman Buttar
Second-half Sleeper: Hamza Waheed
Biggest Surprise: Bilal Javed
Remaining Schedule: @ Mughals, @ Mamluks, @ Ottomans, @ Ayyubids, @ Seljuqs
Team stats: 0.414 batting average; 0.468 on-base percentage; 20 homeruns; 104 hits; 8.8 runs scored per game
At the completion of the draft, many fellow GMs looked at the Nasrids team and expected a high scoring offense that would compete for the title but their season has been filled with nothing but disappointment. Their offense has been mediocre, primarily due to everyone the worst seasons of their career. The 4 Waheed brothers, Kashif-Akif-Asim-Hamza have all seen a sharp decline in their batting stats over previous years. They must all be suffering from the same poor 'paratha filled' diet at home. Someone tell Mama Waheed to stop making parathas for the boys. Osman Buttar and Nirvaan Latif continue their homerun hitting form but they haven't had much help. Bilal Javed has been the biggest star on the team so far with a phenomenal first half. The Nasrids or 'Nasties' have six players hitting below 0.400 which means they only get run production from their top order. N K once again hits for a decent average on a bottom-feeder team. This team has talent but they just can't seem to figure things out. They might need a new hitting coach. A reset after a long break might do them good.
Team stats: 2.8 errors per game; 13.8 runs given up per game; 3.4 unearned runs per game
The Nasrids are not the worst defensive team despite their poor record. They have given up the 4th least amount of errors this season. With defensive stalwarts like Usama Mahmood, Osman Buttar and Nirvaan Latif, they should have enough to shut down opposing teams. The team drafted Taqi Ahmed in the middle rounds but he has struggled to find a regular role in the team. As a team built around family, we expected this group to practice regularly and improve week over week but they continue to make the same mistakes.
Team stats: 14.3 earned runs per game; 15 home run given up; 1.3 strikeouts per game; 7.7 walks per game
Entering the season, the Nasrids came out of the draft with 2.5 regular pitchers but have failed to find anyone that can keep his composure on the mound. After Hamza Waheed struggled at the beginning of the season, the ball was handed to Zia Ali. Despite Zia's pitching experience, he found himself being yanked as well after allowing 9 walks in a loss to the Abbasids. The team then groomed rookie Omar Husain who was also plagued with the same walk disease. Nirvaan Latif was given a relief appearance but was never given an opportunity to start. This team has allowed more than twice as many walks as any other team in the league. It doesn't matter how good your defense is if you can't allow them to play ball. Their best chance of success probably relies in Nirvaan Latif pitching for the Nasrids going forward.
The Nasrids find themselves in the basement of the standings once again at the break. The good news for them is a win before the break means they still have hope in reaching the second season. However, it won't be easy. They will likely have to go 4-1 after the break to sneak into the playoffs. A record of 3-2 will likely mean they might just fall short due to their poor run differential. To make the task even more difficult, they have to play each of the top 4 teams once in that 5 game span including the Mughals and Mamluks in the first week. The Nasrids have been listening to offers on the trade market but haven't pulled the trigger on anything yet.
That completes all 8 teams. Only 6 make the playoffs. Let the games begin.