In American Association Daily, Robert Pannier examines the success that the St. Paul Saints have had against the top three teams in the South Division in 2018, showing that there will be no fear of the top teams in the division should the Saints reach the finals.
The Weaker Division Not So Weak
Coming into this season, the Minor League Sports Report predicted that the South Division in the American Association would clearly be the tougher division. With the top three records in the league taken by the Sioux City Explorers, Kansas City T-Bones and Wichita Wingnuts, that prognostication proved to be quite accurate, but there is one team who has found no fear in facing the big bad South Division – the St. Paul Saints.
Despite having only the sixth best record in the American Association, the Saints have made it clear that, should they reach the playoffs (currently a half game behind the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in the North Division), there will be no awe at their opponents. Thus, they may very well be the team that no one from the South wants to face.
Setting the Case
This season, the Explorers, T-Bones, and Wingnuts have combined to go 74 games over .500. They have crushed opponents for the most part, especially Sioux City, who is on pace to break their 2015 American Association record of 75 victories.
While most teams have been road kill for these three powerhouses, the St. Paul Saints have not been as impressed, and why should they? After sweeping the T-Bones in St. Paul this past weekend, the Saints are now 13-5 against the top three teams in the league.
Sioux City Explorers
The Sioux City Explorers have had the most success against St. Paul this season. On June 25, they came to Minnesota and swept a three-game set against the Saints, crushing St. Paul to a tune of 25 total runs to 7 for the Saints. That series came in the throes of a huge rut for St. Paul, where they lost three of four to Winnipeg at home before being swept by the Explorers.
However, three weeks later, the team would exact their revenge. The Saints traveled to Iowa to take on the Explorers in Sioux City, taking two of three. That gave the Saints a 2-4 record against the Explorers, much more impressive than one would think considering that Sioux City is winning at a pace better than three out of every four games.
Kansas City T-Bones
Before traveling to take two of three in Sioux City, the St. Paul Saints went to Kansas City where they took three of four from the T-Bones. This was a series dominated by St. Paul, as Kansas City was outscored 13-3 through the first two games, and needed an outstanding outing from Tommy Collier in the fourth game to stave off being swept.
This past weekend, the T-Bones came to St. Paul where they were given a very rude reception. St. Paul swept the three-game set, allowing just six total runs while scoring 23. Kansas City was not really in any of these games as they led in the series for just one-half of an inning overall.
Before 2018, the St. Paul Saints had never swept a season series from a team that they had played a home and away series against. The Wichita Wingnuts had never been swept at home in a series that went at least three games in their 11-year history. Those two things cannot be said any longer.
The Saints rolled into Wichita in early June, sweeping the three-game set. This was another series totally dominated by St. Paul, as they outscored the Wingnuts 20-4.
On July 25, the Wingnuts came to St. Paul for a brief two game set. The Saints dominated that mini-series, outscoring Wichita 8-2 to sweep the season series, 5-0.
Too Bad the Fun May Be Over
The St. Paul Saints finished the 2018 regular season 25-12 against South Division foes. Unfortunately, they are done with the division and will not see another team from the South unless they reach the championship series. Considering that they are 3-6 with four games left to play against the Gary Southshore RailCats and 4-6 against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks with two games left to play, their hopes of continuing their dominance over the South may be moot. The South Division can breathe a sigh of relief.
By Robert Pannier