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British Baseball Beat: Play-off Places

by Matt Smith

We’re at the sharp-end of the British Baseball season, although that’s not to say everything is decided.

Some regular season games are still to be played and some wider questions over who is going to make the post-season are still to be answered.

Firstly it should be noted that the (much-improved from last year) BBF website is using a football template for the division tables, so confusingly is displaying a points system (3 for a win) and goal difference rather than the baseball format of how many games back of first place the team is. I’ve converted the current tables as published at time of writing below.

NBL: Arrows in the Air

The London Mets (21-1) carried on their winning ways last Sunday by defeating the Essex Arrows (5-19) by a score of 15-4 and edging a close game against the London Capitals (13-11) 2-1.

This Sunday will conclude the regular season with the Arrows hosting the Mets and the Capitals hosting the Herts Falcons (7-15).


However, there is still some uncertainty over the upcoming play-offs.

In theory this should see the first-placed team (Mets) facing the fourth-placed team (the Arrows) in one semi-final, and second and third teams in the other, on Saturday 24th to set up the final for Sunday 25th.

However, questions still officially remain unanswered over the Arrows’ play-off eligibility following their two games against Herts Falcons on 7 July currently being determined as forfeited in favour of the Falcons. Whether this is finally confirmed to be the case is an important point, as BBF rules state that any forfeit by an NBL team disqualifies them from the post-season.

If so, the likely answer would be to give the first-placed Mets a bye which, whilst being a shame from a competitive point of view, wouldn’t be so unfair bearing in mind their regular season dominance.

AAA: Putting the ‘Wild’ into Wild Card

This is where things get complicated.

The Triple-A teams have played out their regular season games, with the exception of a double-header between Oxford Kings and Herts Londoners that was scheduled for 16 June and has not been played. The BBF’s final standings are as follows:

1East London Latin Boys195
2Essex Redbacks14105
3London Mammoths11138
4Oxford Kings10128
5Herts Londoners10128
6Richmond Knights91510
7Kent Buccaneers91510

The Triple-A play-offs involve the top four from the division alongside Cartmel Valley Lions (of the British Baseball League) who have the number 2 seed. Latin Boys get the first seed for winning the division, whilst Redbacks have the third seed.

The teams that finished third and fourth in the AAA division play a Wild Card game this Sunday, with the winner being the fourth seed into the National Baseball Championships.

The BBF have confirmed that game will be between the Mammoths and Kings; however the Londoners are unhappy with how the BBF’s rules on splitting tied teams at the end of the season have been applied. An official appeal has been submitted and a decision clearly needs to be made quickly.

What the Handbook says

The BBF 2019 Handbook is published on an issuu page which is supposed to make things look nice but, especially when downloading is disabled, makes it more of a pain to read (or copy and quote). Anyway, let’s break down what the Handbook says.

It confirms that a tie means either identical win-loss records or the same games back if teams have played a different number of games. Consequently it’s not just the Kings and Londoners who are tied, as the Mammoths are the same number of games back (8) even though they have an extra win (and loss) than the other two.

Breaking the Tie(s)

The first tie-breaker is forfeited games, based on the team that has forfeited the fewest number of games being higher in the standings.

The tricky thing with that from the outside is there is no clear record that a game has been forfeited in the published BBF results. In the past, forfeits have resulted in the non-forfeiting team being awarded a 7-0 win (and the forfeiting team an 0-7 loss). That doesn’t seem to be the case now, indeed the way forfeits are accounted for in the standings, particularly for the team that forfeited the game, is a bit odd (see pages 13-15 of the Handbook).

Anyway, the double-header at Oxford continues to sit in the BBF results as un-played and no results awarded. The actual decision on those is crucial to the standings.

If they are considered forfeits by the Kings then they will finish 5th (third of the three teams tied). That then leaves the Mammoths and Londoners still tied (unbroken by the forfeit rule) and they would be separated by the second tie-breaker which is results between the tied teams. The Londoners won that season series 3-1, so they would finish third and Mammoths fourth.

If the Kings-Londoners double-header is simply put to one side (rather than forfeited) then you’d need to look at the season results between the three teams, which would make the order Londoners (4-2), Mammoths (4-4), Kings (2-4).

If the double-header was considered as two forfeits by the Londoners then they would be fifth, and the Mammoths would be in third as they won the season series over the Kings 3-1. That would tally with the BBF’s standings, but the comments so far certainly don’t suggest that this is the case.

It’s clear as mud then, which is a bit of a mess ahead of the Wild Card game on Sunday. Hopefully the BBF will not only finalise the position but also clearly explain it in a news item on their website as soon as possible. That’s the only fair approach, not just for the Londoners who appear to have missed out but also on the Kings in making it clear to all how they’ve earned their play-off spot

Single-A and Double-A

These two levels still have one Sunday left of the regular season, so I’ll look back at that some time next week. Here’s what the games-back tables look like currently (noting that some tie-breakers may need to be accounted for).

Double-A Pool A

1Bournemouth Bears140
2Bristol Badgers1253.5
3Herts Hawks897.5
4Guildford Mavericks7119
5Richmond Dragons61210
6Brighton Jets21212

Double-A Pool B

1London Marauders122
2Norwich Iceni974
3London Sidewinders963.5
4Milton Keynes Bucks853.5
5Cambridge Monarchs586.5
6Brentwood Stags01512.5

I’ve just copied that one out in the same order it’s published on the BBF website, but using the standing Games Back method it would seem Iceni are in fifth. We’ll see!

Single-A Pool A

1London Musketeers211
2Essex Archers1665
3Essex Redbacks1665
4Bracknell Inferno1686
5London Mustangs71514
6Richmond Dukes51515
7Herts Eagles41817
8Herts Raptors31918

Single-A Pool B

1Kent Buccaneers186
2South Coast Pirates1841
3Brighton Jets985.5
4Tonbridge Wildcats975
5Tonbridge Bobcats7149.5
6Guildford Millers71510
7Kent Mariners11513

Again, just copied in the order as on the BBF website, but would seem that the Wildcats should be in fourth.

Single-A Central

1Long Eaton Storm193
2Leicester Blue Sox1752.5
3Birmingham Bandits1595
4Birmingham Outlaws1464
5Northants Centurions61412
6Cambridge Royals41815
7Cambridge Lancers12118

The Bandits and Outlaws can argue about third and fourth!

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Richard Brown August 16, 2019 - 6:08 pm

Nice work Matt, very informative.

Cris August 16, 2019 - 9:36 pm

Excellent work!


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