Monday, January 2, 2017

LMP playoffs open Monday; attendance records set

The Mexican Pacific League playoffs will begin Monday night as all three first-round series get underway.

Top-seed Navojoa will open at home against Mexicali, a team the Mayos defeated seven times in twelve contests during the regular season.  Likely LMP Pitcher of the Year Hector Velazquez (pictured) gets the start for Navojoa against last winter's top hurler, Javier Solano. Number 2 seed Los Mochis will welcome defending champion Mazatlan, who the Caneros dominated by a 9-to-3 margin, with Roy Merritt starting for Mochis against Jeremy Kehrt of the Venados.  Hermosillo visits third-seed Culiacan, two teams who split twelve regular season, with Hermosillo sending Mexican League Playoff MVP Travis Blackley to the mound against Culiacan's Hector Daniel Rodriguez, last winter's BBM Playoff MVP and winner of two Caribbean Series games while pitching for Mazatlan.  The Naranjeros and Tomateros have combined to win 26 MexPac pennants in their respective histories.

Velazquez led Navojoa to the regular season crown by leading the MexPac in wins (9) and strikeouts (87) while finishing second in ERA (2.32) to Los Mochis' Manny Barreda's 2.30 mark.  Velazquez won his last three starts to finish at 9-3.  Barreda tossed six hitless innings at Hermosillo in his last start on December 26.  He pitched the LMP's lone no-hitter against the Naranjeros exactly one month earlier. Hermosillo starter Juan Pablo Oramas led the circuit in ERA most the of year before allowing two earned runs over five frames in Mexicali on December 28. Mexicali closer Jake Sanchez earned saves in four consecutive outings over the final ten days of the schedule to finish with 21 for the campaign.  Sanchez allowed one (1) earned run in 30 appearances for the Aguilas for a microscopic 0.28 ERA.

Mexicali catcher Luis Juarez went 14-of-34 at the plate over his final ten games to win the LMP batting title with a .364 average, well in front of Los Mochis outfielder Leandro Castro's .347 mark.  Hermosillo infielder Jose Amador topped the loop in both homers (15) and runs batted in (60) while Obregon outfielder Corey Wimberly stole 17 bases in 38 games to win the steals title by one over Navojoa rookie utilityman Randy Arozarena.

It was another banner season at the gate for the Mexican Pacific League, with the LMP's eight teams combining to draw a record 2,625,495 fanaticos to 271 games for an average crowd of 9,688 per opening.  The overall total reflects a 4 percent increase over the 2015-16 campaign.  In comparison, no affiliated minor league team at any level averaged as much as 9,000 per game.

Culiacan topped the table for the second straight winter by pulling in 554,737 people to Estadio Bancomer BBVA for an average of 16,316.  Defending Caribbean Series champion Mazatlan was at the bottom of the column with 198,589 attending 34 Venados games at Estadio Teodoro Mariscal, or 5,851 a night.  After opening their 16,000-seat Nuevo Estadio Yaquis amid great fanfare (and hosting the MexPac's first All-Star Game in two decades), Obregon had a disappointing season in attendance as the team played to just 49 percent capacity crowds of 7,803 per night to watch the non-playoff Yaquis.

TOTAL       GP      AVG.        TEAM
554,737      34     16,316      Culiacan Tomateros
436,232      34     12,830      Mexicali Aguilas
425,514      34     12,515      Hermosillo Naranjeros
294,165      33       8,914      Jalisco Charros
265,301      34       7,803      Obregon Yaquis
228,449      34       6,719      Los Mochis Caneros
222,478      34       6,543      Navojoa Mayos
198,589      34       5,851      Mazatlan Venados