With the Lions seemingly pulling away with 1st place with 17 points, there’s 4 points separating 2nd place and 5th place. How do you see this last week playing out, standings-wise?
I: My final standings are: (1) Lions. (2) Tigers. (3T) Wolves. (3T) Bucks. (5) Eagles. (6) Falcons. (7) Owls. With captain Miqdad Jaffer out for the week, I can easily see the Lions losing their grasp of first place. But I don’t think that would happen, especially with three former captains on this squad (we won’t mention their track record…). That game between the Tigers and Wolves will be the decider on who makes it to 2nd place. With how decimated the Wolves are, it feels like we’ve lost a real contender just a couple weeks out from the playoffs. Luckily for the teams at the bottom, the playoff format has changed. The Owls looked lifeless this past week and the Eagles took Stephen A’s advice too seriously, as their bats stayed OFF the green. This week is more so for momentum than anything, and those bottom three need that now more than ever.
K: Lions are still not a lock for first yet if the Wolves win out and the Lions don’t get at least 1 point this Sunday. Honestly, I have no idea how this last week will go down. Bucks and Tigers still have a shot at second place. Who’s finishing in the 7th spot? Owls? Eagles? They play against each other this Sunday. Falcons can still climb up or down. I don’t know; this is too confusing. I’ll give it a shot – (1) Lions (2) Tigers (3) Wolves (4) Bucks (5) Eagles (6) Falcons (7) Owls.
Let’s get to some awards. We’ll take a stab at a few of the big ones:
Captain of the Year:
I: I’m gonna go with Vick Vij on this one. While our anonymous writer had the Tigers and Lions at 6 and 7 in the preseason rankings, I was much higher on the Lions than I was the Tigers. Their lack of speed really put me off and for the most part, they’ve done it with the same team I doubted from the start. Altaf Champsi has played like an ace (in Al-Wahda too), but their defensive ability is outstanding. They force you to play a grind-it-out style of softball where the score resembles one of a soccer game.
K: Ali Raza Nasser, captain of the Bucks. I don’t think he’s turned in the same lineup card all year due to absenteeism from full-time players and has likely lost one of his key pieces, Arif Hirji, for the remainder of the season due to injury. But him and Nadim Rahemtulla have steered the Bucks through the struggle with their stoic demeanor. AR has been on a tear this year slashing a 0.700AVG/0.714 OBP/1.100 SLG, his best season since 2016.
If he can guide the Bucks this Sunday to the second or third seed, it will be tough for voters to give this award to anyone else.
Rookie of the Year:
I: The Vij brothers are taking over this awards segment! I expected Steph and Seth, but turns out we got Peyton and Eli. As the Tigers’ lead-off, Shelly is still 2nd on the team with 16 RBIs. His average may leave a little to be desired, but from I expected was a pick filled with nepotism, he’s played extremely well. While he won’t make many ROY ballots (because of his early play), I’m gonna give a shout out to Hisham Ali. He really came into his own during Al-Wahda, probably from the fact that he was a major playmaker and the de facto captain of the team. One of the plays he made this past weekend at SS made a few of us turn our heads on the bench.
(Disclaimer: I ended up cheating and looking at Kaunain’s answer… Completely forgot Noor was a rookie.)
K: Noor Zia. He will probably be a strong MVP candidate as well. Put together one of the best rookie seasons ever in JMS. Among full time players, he’s top 5 in the league in hits, home runs, RBIs, AVG, SLG, and OBP. Likely a strong candidate for a Gold Glove at SS. He was also MVP of the Ramadhan tournament and a key contributor for another Thunder Al-Wahda championship. Pretty easy choice in my opinion and he should win this award unanimously.
I: Hussein Champsi. Not only has he run away with Most Improved in my mind, he’s right up there battling Altaf Champsi as the best Champsi in the league (anyone but Riaz is really the right answer). If you take a look at his batting, you’d be quick to shut down my answer here. However, his average actually improved from last year! His improvements defensively put him atop my rankings for this award from the start of the year. It would be great to see him make another jump this offseason when it comes to getting on base and his self-confidence, but we’ve already seen that he has the potential to make a huge jump from one year to the next.
K: Azmatali Merali. He has greatly improved from last season. His hitting numbers across the board have all gone up drastically. He has also carved himself a nice role as a starting pitcher. Him and Altaf Champsi have given the Tigers a chance all year with their pitching. While he still battles consistency at times hitting the plate, expect for him to build off this season and challenge for Pitcher of the Year next season.
I: Umair Ali. *both Imran and ARN have stopped reading at this point* Yes, I have his team projected at 6th place. I’m also in the group of people that would’ve voted for LeBron to win MVP in the 2015 Finals when he carried Delly (sorry Cheema, but if the shoe fits…). His hitting stats are insane. Playing all 12 games in the season so far, he’s hit 0.810 with 9 HRs and 39 RBIs. Next closest to him in HRs? 5. He’s nearly lapped his competition when it comes to RBIs, 39-20. He’s also leading the league in slugging and on-base percentage. He’s been a dominant force in the league this year, and I can’t make his record stop us from giving him this award. #peeinacup
K: This should be unanimous. Umair Ali of the Falcons. Pressure was on him to deliver as first year captain of the Falcons, and he did not disappoint putting together his best JMS season ever.
He leads the league in hits, HRs, RBIs, AVG, OBP, and SLG. Has come up with key hits all year for his team. Extremely versatile on defense, as he can play infield and outfield. If he continues this stretch into the playoffs and the Falcons make a deep run, he could be taking home the regular season MVP and the post-season MVP awards.
Pitcher of the Year:
I: While there might be a certain Lions captain who could fire me from this job for not picking him SOLELY, my pick goes to the entire Lions pitching staff. Miqdad was my early front runner for the award, but going 4–1-1 in games pitched by Abbas Allidina shows that it’s a group effort. Making the trade for Allidina allows the Lions to show different, yet high quality, looks on a game-to-game basis, which could make them extremely dangerous come playoff time. It’ll be interesting to see the strategy that takes place when it comes to closing games out. Will captaincy and sacrifice hold priority over being the potential hero of the game? We’ve seen it go both ways in this league, so this could be something to watch.
K: Mikael Ratansi of the Wolves. He might finish the season with the strikeout crown. He’s top three in the league among full-time starters in innings pitched and ERA. He’s been masterful at mixing up his pitches and his cutter away from right-handed batters has created a lot of strikeouts. He’s given the Wolves a chance all year and if they clinch the first seed, I don’t see how he doesn’t win it.
Feel free to give a shout out to anyone else you think might get a Gold Glove!
I: Have to give a Nasser some love for once. Imran has been killing it offensively and defensively, especially with moving from the outfield to SS. The amount of faith that team has in him was shown when they traded for Abbas Allidina. Who moved to CF? That says lots. I’ll be the first to admit I had some doubts about his leadership, but he’s shut me up pretty well. That team may be Miqdad’s on paper, but “Moose” continues to be a big part of their heart and soul. A potential MVP candidate in many people’s minds, Imran deserves a Gold Glove in a very crowded and talented SS pool.
Playoffs are almost upon us. And while many people don’t understand the new bracket, each team is guaranteed THREE playoff games. Give us your pick at the Cinderella story and the team most likely to choke away their opportunity at the title.
I: My faith in the Bucks continues to remain alive. Some games they look like they could prove me a prophet; others, it looks like I’m the only one left on the bandwagon, team members included. You can tell that when HAK and Maysum are hitting, this team takes it to another level. Some key errors hurt them this past week, but fix that for the playoffs, and they’re still my pick to upset the bracket.
When it comes to choking, it might be a harsh word to associate with this team because of the nature of their decline. It looks like the Wolves have an injury curse placed on them, because just as they start rolling and their captain returns, Irfaan Jaffer suffers a terrible injury. To make matters worse, Minhal Jaffer looks like he may have tweaked his hamstring on a play at home plate. Only Minhal knows the extent of this injury, but his next AB saw him get out on a double play… on a ball that nearly reached the warning track. Our prayers out to both of them to come back stronger!
K: Cinderella team? Falcons. They have the best offensive player this season in Umair Ali. One of the best pitchers in the league in Hussein Allidina. First overall pick Damien Ramnauth. Not to mention the most winningest captain in JMS history, Ali Reza Merali. He is the truth and any team he is on will make a deep playoff run.
Not sure who will choke. I guess whoever finishes with the first seed and doesn’t make finals will be a disappointment. The parity in this league is insane though. Styles make games and any team is capable of going all the way. I guess it would be a choke if the Eagles don’t make a deep run, as they have two of the best players in the league with Ali Manek and Asad Hussain.