Care About the Australian League for a Second!

As mentioned in NotGraphs around the time of that wondersite’s inception, Australian people now have a baseball league. In terms of the level of play currently going on there, Carson Cistulli isn’t necessarily the guy to ask about that; however, the league features former and current Major and Minor Leaguers, so it’s not, as Charles Barkley would probably say, completely “turrible.”

In any case, with our vigorous, sunburnt friends now two months (about 30 games) into their season, I thought it might make sense to see which players have distinguished themselves.

SCOUT Leaderboards
As I have previously for the Arizona Fall League, I’ll use SCOUT as the primary means of assessing performance in Australia. (Click here for more on SCOUT, the metric that’s “sweeping” the “nation.”)

SCOUT Batting Leaderboard
Here is the SCOUT batting leaderboard for the Australian Baseball League.

SCOUT Pitching Leaderboard
Same verse, very similar to the first.

A Quick Note on Those Names
Here’s the percentage of those players I’ve ever even heard of before: 25.

Notes on Three Players
It appears as though three players, in particular, have distinguished themselves. They are: Grant Karlsen, Brandon Maurer, and Chris Oxspring.

Here’s what the internet says about them:

Grant Karlsen, C, Melbourne
• Is only 25.
• Apparently signed with Phillies in 2003.
• Put up this line, in age-18 and -19 seasons, through Rookie and Low-A ball: .175/.243/.190.
• Now has five home runs against a single strikeout in 70 AB, easily the most impressive ratio in the league.
• Here’s one of them (the home runs, I mean):

Brandon Maurer, RHP, Adelaide
• Is part of the Seattle system.
• Split time last year between the AZL Mariners and Low-A Clinton Lumberkings, striking out 20 of the 60 batters he faced.
• Sorry, that’s LumberKings, capital-K.
• Will turn 21 on July 3.
Was profiled by the Adelaide Advertiser, and faced reporter Ken McGregor, who uses the metric system extensively.

Chris Oxspring, SP, Sydney
• Is the only one of these players with Major League experience.
• Is also oldest by considerably margin (34 in May).
• Did this in 12 IP for San Diego back in 2005: 8.25 K/9, 4.50 BB/9, 35.5% GB, 4.28 xFIP.
• Did this in 342.1 IP across three Triple-A seasons (2004-05, 07): 8.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9.
• That doesn’t really seem so bad to me.

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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

22 Responses to “Care About the Australian League for a Second!”

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  1. Chris in Hawaii says:

    Both Robbie Widlansky (AA) and Cole McCurry (A+) are in the Orioles’ system. They’re not really prospects so much though since they’re both old for their levels.

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  2. Sammy says:

    Great Baseball Obscuro. Anybody know the average talent level on each team would compare to the minor leagues? Are we talking A-Ball level as the median, NCAA level?

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    • will says:

      had the same question myself. and how does it compare to other leagues such as the Winter leagues?


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    • Go Cynics says:

      I lived in Aus for awhile and played ball at university.

      The best players would equate to maybe junior college level. Aussies are athletic, but their biggest problem is lack of proper coaching. Ugly mechanics and poor decisions abound. This should get better as players go to the US to play college ball and return to coach after they wash out. MLB has a 2 month camp in Queensland every year where they scout and train prospects. That should help too.

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      • Jason says:

        I played 1st grade for a Melbourne club team two years ago….50% of the 1st grade teams would have beaten the National Title JUCO team I played for in the 90’s (Yavapai Community College) and the bad NCAA D1 team I also played for….so I’d say the local comp is *very good JC* or mediocre NCAA D1.

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  3. John says:

    25 percent seems REALLY high.

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  4. D Wils says:

    I love seeing the Aussie league get some exposure. They should have a league for talent to develop because getting USA visas can be tough for marginal talents that may develop into more.

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  5. Jon E says:

    The Detroit Tigers signed Chris Oxspring this off-season after he played in Korea last year.

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  6. Mike Rogers says:

    If anyone wants to jump on the ‘best team’ bandwagon, the Pythagorean win%’s are as follow:

    Canberra – .777
    Brisbane – .600
    Perth – .496
    Sydney – .460
    Adelaide – .351
    Melbourne – .333

    Pythag was using the generic ^2.

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  7. Derek says:

    All I have to say on that Karlsen HR is WOW BATSPEED

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  8. nitro2831 says:

    Look at how fast that pitcher works! If only.

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  9. MNMatt says:

    Justin Huber was signed by the Twins for AAA depth. He’s 28 and has a .859 OPS in nine minor league seasons. Liam Hendriks had a 1.74 ERA at two levels of A ball for the Twins last year.

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  10. Kris says:

    Wow – I live in Melbourne and I never knew that there was an Australian baseball league. To think, I’ve spent all this time bored to tears watching Cricket!

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  11. Paul says:

    It is hard to care about this league when they haven’t even had a game on television yet (to my knowledge). I read that they had a tv deal done with Fox Sports a while ago, but I searched the tv guide for about 2 weeks and there was nothing.

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  12. Ryan says:

    It’s worth noting a couple things:

    1) Oxspring actually serves as his team’s pitching coach as well. Thought that was pretty neat.

    2) You can watch many of the games online. Their websites share the MLBAM (the AM stands for Advanced Media, if anyone cares) format as MILB teams and many of them stream games. for that.

    3) I too lived in Oz for a few years (ending in ’05), and the baseball there has improved over the last few seasons. The aforementioned academy in Queensland has helped, but there has been slowly growing interest over the past decade or so, especially in Sydney.

    4) and Paul, that’s probably Fox Sports Australia, the main sports TV network down under.


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  13. basted says:

    I couldn’t see where the ball went, but it must have been far. The pitcher had another one before it landed.

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  14. Sean Callahan says:

    Having been to two of the Bandits game and watching the game results, my observation is that the hitting is more advanced than the pitching. That’s possibly because some of the very good Australians pitchers may not have been released by the MLB teams to play.

    That’s not to say that none of them can pitch well – I saw Adam Blackley and Drew Naylor (Phillies AA) were both impressive when I saw them.

    The biggest problem with baseball in Australia is that the kids don’t play enough. Here on the Gold Coast, under 16s and below play one game a week over six months, with an eight-week break for summer vacation in between. Sport in Australia is much more organised at the club level (compared to the US, where most of of it is organised at the high school and college level).

    Defensively, they still have a high error to double play ratio (one of Bill James’ Peripheral Quality Indices) – last Sunday there were eight errors to two double plays.

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  15. trying to find you, can you add me on fb?

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