Playoff Preview: Brooklyn Cyclones Versus Hudson Valley Renegades


The Hudson Valley Renegades posted the New York Penn League’s best record this season with a 52-24 mark.  They fared far worse however, playing the Brooklyn Cyclones this season, than against the rest of their competition.  Brooklyn won the season series over Hudson Valley seven games to three.  Ironically, the Renegades finished seven games ahead of the Cyclones to win the McNamara Division flag.

Brooklyn outlasted the Batavia Muckdogs to win their second consecutive Wild Card.  The Coney Island Nine posted the league’s fourth best won/loss mark with a 45-31 record.  After jumping out to an early season lead which lasted for about a month, the Cyclones surrendered first place to Hudson Valley back on July 26th.  The Renegades never looked back.

June 05, 2011; Flushing, NY, USA; The New York Mets logo behind home plate before a game against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field. The Mets defeated the Braves 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Andrew B. Fielding-US PRESSWIRE

Brooklyn starting pitchers posted four of the top ten, and five of the top fifteen earned runs averages in the New York Penn League this season.  Hansel Robles bested the circuit with a 1.11 ERA.  Next in at number eight, Gabriel Ynoa posted a 2.23 ERA.   Luis Mateo ranked number nine with a 2.45 ERA.  Luis Cessa followed at number ten with a 2.49 mark.  In an odd twist, the team’s wins leader, Rainy Lara, came in with a 2.91 ERA, which ranked fifteenth.  Hudson Valley’s Jeff Ames was third in the circuit with a 1.96 mark.  He was one of only three NYPL pitchers this season, which includes Hansel Robles, with an ERA below two.  Matthew Spann owns the Renegades next best mark with a  respectable 3.59 ERA in fourteen starts.  As a team, Brooklyn posted the league’s best ERA with a 2.62 mark.  Hudson Valley ranked third with a 2.91 team ERA.

As mentioned, the Cyclones leader in wins this season was Rainy Lara.  Brooklyn’s ace additionally tied for the league lead in victories with an 8-2 record.  Hansel Robles checked in with a 6-1 mark.  The Cyclones next highest winner was Gabriel Ynoa at 5-2, followed by Luis Cessa who came in at 5-4 this season.  Eduar Quinonez was Hudson Valley’s top winner with a 7-4 record.  Next best for the Renegades was Jeff Ames who posted a 6-1 mark in thirteen starts.  Brandon Henderson won five games for Hudson Valley, and lost two.

The Cyclones finished first in the circuit in team WHiP with a 1.05 mark.  Hudson Valley’s 1.16 WHiP ranked third.  Hansel Robles and Luis Mateo topped the charts.  Hansel led the circuit with a 0.78  WHiP, followed by Mateo’s 0.90 mark.  Gabriel Ynoa and Rainy Lara then placed fifth and sixth in the league, to give Brooklyn four of the top six WHiP marks overall.  Jame Ames (#9) was Hudson Valley’s only hurler to place in the top ten.  Ames was one of nine NYPL pitchers to end the season with a WHiP below one.

Coney Island pitchers ranked second in team strikeouts.  The Cyclones were only one of four teams to crack six hundred for the season.  Luis Mateo led all pitchers with eighty-five K’s in 78.1 innings pitched.  His team mates weren’t far behind.  Rainy Lara finished second overall with seventy-seven punch outs in sixty-six innings.  Hansel Robles finished fifth with sixty-six strikeouts in 72.2 innings pitched.  Gabriel Ynoa placed seventh with sixty-four strikeouts.  As a team, Hudson Valley hurlers ranked eighth in the league.  Individually, Jeff Ames ranked fourth in the league, and led Renegades pitchers with seventy strikeouts.  Friday Night’s possible starter, Jesse Hahn holds the Renegades next highest strikeout total with fifty-five.

Brooklyn and Hudson Valley pitching finished one and two respectively, in shutouts.  Brooklyn hurlers tossed ten combined shutouts.  Hudson Valley threw nine.  With respect to walks allowed, the Brooks issued the second fewest.  The Renegades ranked fourth fewest.  Brooklyn’s bullpen also led the circuit with twenty-seven saves.  With twenty-three saves, the Renegades ranked fifth.

There is no mistake about it.  Brooklyn’s strength is their pitching.  To take it a step further, the Cyclones have mirrored Earl Weaver type baseball this season, which is characterized by relying on strong starting pitching, and waiting around for the three run home run.  If not Earl Weaver like, their offensive numbers certainly are cryptic then.

When not in the field, the Brooks play station to station baseball.  The Coney Island Nine scored the third fewest runs in the New York Penn League this season.  Hudson Valley ranked third.  The Cyclones also had the league’s third fewest hits, and finished dead last in stolen bases.  The team with the next fewest stolen bases had almost twice as many as Brooklyn.  In seventy-six games, the Cyclones stole twenty-three bases.  Hudson Valley stole seventy-seven bases, ranked fifth in the league in hits, and placed third in runs scored.

Offensively, neither team sports a .300 hitter.  You will have to dig deep below the league leaders before finding each teams’ respective top hitters.  Husdon Valley players occupy numbers eighteen through twenty-one on the circuit’s hitting list.  Joey Rickard tops Hudson Valley with a .279 batting average.  Tied at nineteen in the circuit, Ryan Dunn and Luke Maile hit .278 this season.  Ranked twenty-one, Leonardo Reginatto comes in with a .276 average.  Brooklyn’s top hitters come even further down the list.  At number thirty-eight, Eudy Pina batted .261 to lead the Cyclones.  Phillip Evans’ .252 average was second best on the ‘Clones.  As a team, Brooklyn achieved the second lowest mark in the league with a .230 batting average.   As a team, Hudson Valley (#8) posted a .241 mark.

What Cyclones hitters have done extremely well this season, is work the count.  They struck out the third fewest times in the league.  Brooklyn was the only team to draw over three hundred bases on balls this season.  So despite being low on the league’s hitting lists, their .321 team OBP was still third best.  Hudson Valley ranked seventh in OBP, and drew the fifth most walks this season; fifty less than Brooklyn.

At the plate, the next thing the Surf Avenue Sluggers do best is hit home runs.  Their forty-four round trippers ranked second in the league behind Tri City’s fifty.  Hudson Valley only generated twenty-eight home runs, good for tenth best.  Brooklyn boasts six players with five or more home runs.  Kevin Plawecki led all Cyclones with seven.  Brandon Nimmo came in second with six.  Jayce Boyd, Phillip Evans, Eudy Pina, and Stefan Sabol all hit five home runs apiece.  Thomas Coyle and Justin O’Conner both hit five home runs each leading the Renegades.

Brandon Nimmo figures to be a key player for Brooklyn.  On July 24th, he was still struggling with a .228 batting average.  However, his .408 OBP remained high due to exercising discipline at the plate.  In an effort to take advantage of Brandon’s OBP, Coach Donnelly moved him from batting eighth, and inserted Brandon Nimmo into the lead-off spot.  Over the next twenty-one games, Brandon batted .382, and improved his season average to a .282 mark.  He since tailed off, and finished the regular season with a .248 batting average.

If he can regain his early August stroke, Brandon can be a very disruptive force at the top of the order.  The Mets young number one draft pick finished fourth in the league with twenty doubles.  Among the playoff participants, no one has more.  Brandon also tied for second in the league with forty-six walks, and finished the season with a .372 OBP.  He additionally ranked tenth in the league in runs scored.  And perhaps most impressively, he finished fifth in the circuit with forty runs batted in; only seven behind the leader.

The semi final series between the Cyclones and the Hudson Valley Renegades gets started Friday evening in Coney Island.  As division champs, the Renegades earned home field advantage.  Therefore the series will shift to Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill, N.Y. for game two, and game three if necessary.  Brooklyn’s Hansel Robles is tentatively scheduled to face Hudson Valley’s Jesse Hahn in game one.  Game two may feature a match up between Luis Mateo for the Cyclones, against Jeff Ames for the Renegades.

The Brooklyn Cyclones were named co-champions along with the Williamsport Crosscutters of the 2001 New York Penn League season.  After Brooklyn defeated Williamsport in game one, the finals were cut short the following day due to the devastating events which transpired on American soil during the morning of Tuesday, September 11th.  That was Brooklyn’s inaugural season in Coney Island.  Two years prior, they existed as the Queens Kings and played their home games on the campus of St. John’s University.  In 2000, they moved their home games to the Prospect Park Parade Grounds in Brooklyn while MCU Park was under construction.

In their twelve year history, the Brooklyn Cyclones advanced to the playoffs nine times.  Overall, they sport an 11-17 post-season record.  They failed to make the playoffs following the 2002, 2005, and 2008 seasons.  Since 2001, the Cyclones advanced to the New York Penn League finals again in 2003, 2007, and most recently in 2010, only to lose all three times.  Last season, the Cyclones won the Wild Card and faced the Staten Island Yankees in the semi final round.  After splitting the first two games, the Yankees won game three in Staten Island to advance into the NYPL championship round.