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04/20/2005 Archived Entry: "Latin News: Cuba, a hitter's league or a pitcher's league?"

Latin News: Cuba, a hitter's league or a pitcher's league? by Gene Newman

In 1941, my Christmas gift was the very first edition of the Ethan Allen All Star Baseball Game. Produced annually through 1993 with a new set of player cards each year, it somewhere along the line dropped the name of the creator, Ethan Allen (then a major league player), and became known thereafter as Cadaco All Star Baseball.

Having learned how to make the player cards (we call them discs, becauise they are round), my main focus has been on the foreign leagues. That was born of having spent 30 years of my 35-year career in Asia, primarily in Japan. Since our return to the U.S., in 1993, that interest has expanded to any country where baseball is played and I avidly collect statistics from any that I can find in order to make discs.

Sometimes it becomes like a treasure hunt because not all of the required information is in one place, and I often have to call upon my friends around the world for help. The annual treasure hunt in regards to the Cuban League involves specific positions played rather than the generic "infield" or "outfield" listings on the team rosters. This year, in order to accomplish that, I reviewed the box scores of every single one of the 720 regular season games! The remainder of this post is a cut-and-paste of one I made about this subject on our Cadaco forum on Yahoo.

I mentioned last year a seeming anomaly in that the batting averages of the leading players seemed to indicate it to be strictly a hitter's league, but the ERAs of the leading pitchers would seem to indicate the opposite. That held true this season as well. Following are examples.

Fifty-eight players with enough ABs to qualify for the batting title hit .300 or better. The batting king this year was, as usual, Osmani Urrutia who hit .385. Next was Yohandry Urgelles, another of
the annual front-runners, with .356. In all, seven players hit .350 or better, four more hit .341 through .346, and eight more were from .330 to .339.

On the other hand, of the pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the pitching title, the best ERA was 1.66, and an astounding 14 others had ERAs under 3.00 and another 15 were under 3.50, and still
another 10 were under 4.00.

I mentioned Urrutia as the batting champ with a .385 average. That's a slump for him! How I would have loved to see him play here in the major leagues. Just for your information, his averages from
the 2000 through the 2003 seasons were .431, .408, .421, and .469!! Those numbers are not typos.

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