The minor leagues are often tied more to player development than they are wins and losses, but the scoreboards are still on, the standings are still calculated, and people definitely take it seriously in hopes of climbing the ladder.
The Arizona Fall League is no exception. We have a different kind of baseball standings to look at in November; trade in your standard minor league rundown for a six-team, two-division table.
Colorado saw some exciting minor league action this season with Low-A Fresno and High-A Spokane making it to their respective league championships. Morale is better on winning teams; it’s good for most everybody involved, and especially in the revolving doors of minor league rosters where new players can help make an instant impact.
Here’s where the Arizona Fall League stands through Week 4, with 12 days remaining in the regular season:
2021 Arizona Fall League - East Division Standings
2021 Arizona Fall League - West Division Standings
The Arizona Fall League does hand out championship rings each year for the league’s winner, so we do have something on the line. Fate is not too solid for the Salt River Rafters, however. They are 2-8 in their last 10, their run differential (-11) is one of the two negative figures in the six-team league, and their seven wins are currently the fewest in the AFL.
Most of the Fall League schedule this year has been dominated by the Surprise Saguaros, although the division-’rival’ Glendale Desert Dogs have gained some ground in the past week. Meanwhile, the Mesa Solar Sox are the only team in the East division with a winning record and are a clear-cut favorite for the division’s berth to the championship game on Nov. 20. The respective winner of each division will play in a one-game championship on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Salt River has the lowest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in the Arizona Fall League, but a league-best ERA of 4.90 (not a typo—see below) has helped them stay afloat in the AFL standings.
(The collective ERA in the big leagues this year was 4.26; the Fall League has been extremely hitter friendly in 2021.)
The performance of Rockies minor leaguers in AFL Week 4 was a direct reflection of these figures: Colorado pitchers posted a combined 1.93 ERA last week, while hitters posted a .240 average.
AFL Week 4: Rockies Pitching
- Jake Bird: 2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 2 BB, 3 K
- Matt Dennis: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 2 K
- Reagan Todd: 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K
Combined: 9 1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 11 K
AFL Week 4: Rockies Hitting
- Michael Toglia: 5-for-19, .263/.300/.368
- Ezequiel Tovar: 2-for-14, .143/.294/.357
- Ryan Vilade: 2-for-16, .125/.222/.125
- Willie MacIver: 3-for-8, .375/.444/.375 (*Taxi squad player)
Our Pebble Report rundown for this week is similar to the one we had last week: pitchers are still dominating, while hitters are faring a little less favorably.
This trend seems to go completely against the AFL norm this year, which is interesting when so many lineups are posting so many runs. An average of 12.6 runs are being scored in each game, but the Rockies pitchers haven’t been as liable as that figure may suggest.
Rockies Pitchers - 2021 Arizona Fall League
For now, the Rafters can at least hang their hat on some pitching that is keeping them in some ballgames. Salt River has 10 more games remaining to cover four games of ground in the standings, while the Rockies arms will look to anchor the staff like they have all year.
Arizona Fall League - Important Dates
- Fall Stars Game: Saturday, Nov. 13, 5:00 p.m. MST at Salt River Fields
- AFL Championship Game: Saturday, Nov. 20, 5:00 p.m. MST at Salt River Fields
*Both games will be televised on MLB Network