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Selecting All-Area teams not easy

June 08, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

This week is always the week I least look forward to each year. I've taken to calling it "Hell Week."

It's the week I gather stats and make the selections for The Herald-Mail All-Area baseball and softball teams. The teams will appear this weekend - softball on Saturday, baseball on Sunday.

Gathering the information is simple enough - usually all it takes to get what I need is a handful of phone calls to area coaches. Sifting through and analyzing the information in an attempt to make the best possible decisions is the difficult part.

The difference between making the First Team and making the Second Team - and between making the Second Team and not making it at all - is razor thin. Especially this year. And especially if you ply your trade while toeing the rubber.

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After the First Team pitching selections were made (I caught a break here, these were pretty easy decisions), there were 14 area baseball pitchers with what I consider a reasonable argument for making the Second Team. That's right, 14!

How close is it, really? Close enough that I actually had to calculate each pitcher's WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning pitched) and strikeouts-per-inning numbers to find any measurable difference. That's right, sabermetrics helped determine the All-Area pitching selections. Frankly, I had no choice - the next best option was to draw names out of a hat.

And that's just one position. There are catchers to pick (two per team, and thank goodness for that - if there were only one First Team spot and one Second Team spot, it'd be utterly impossible), each infield spot has to be filled on both teams, and there are four outfielders on each team. At least the DH and utility spots lend some flexibility to the proceedings.

All this is basically my way of saying in advance that not everyone will be happy.

There were a lot of tough calls this year - more than any other year in which I've been in charge - and a lot of players who had very good seasons didn't quite make the cut. It's not intended to be a slap in the face of those who fell short, it's just the reality of the situation.

I take a lot of pride in my All-Area picks, whether they're for soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball or softball. I do everything I can to make sure the most deserving players make these teams.

And I'm more than happy to discuss my selections - and the reasoning behind them - with whoever wants to discuss them. Give me a call any day after 4 p.m., or write me an e-mail.

Oh, and congratulations in advance to those who did make this year's cut. Believe me when I say that making these teams is quite an accomplishment. Because I know who didn't, and that list is impressive in and of itself.




Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at kauffman@herald-mail.com.

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