Sharks in walk-off win over old-timers

Sharks past, present and future battled Saturday in the summer heat, with the youngest generation filling as needed for the short-handed Sharks and White Sharks. It was a close, well-played game, but in the end, it was the Sharks of today that came out on top, 10-8, with a big assist from an outfield provided by the White Sharks.

Andy Vanecek and 5-year-old son Vilgot manning short for the White Sharks

 

Strike-throwing machine Martin Pennycook returns to the mound for the White Sharks

 New acquisitions

The Sharks made two major acquisitions this past week. Most important  was the signing of former Shark Alexander Larsson after a six-year absence. “It’s great to be back,” said Larsson with a smile as wide as today’s strike zone.

And speaking of smiles, the other acquisition is sure to make the grounds-keeping crew happy–the Sharks have bought a tractor! And no one could be prouder than head groundskeeper Tractor Jonny Edgren, show below dragging the infield.

Tractor Jonny, getting it done

Battery and team earns win in The Return of the Earnest

34, 30, 12, 2.
Runs, hits, walks were in abundance – errors was not.
“We played tight baseball today,” Coach Edgren says.

As the Sharks made their only trip in 2018 to the lovely Limhamnsfältet on Sunday, the first game was full of offensive performance. However, the performance that stood out the most was the one from the battery.

“They know each other inside and out, today, they were brilliant,” Jonny Edgren said of his battery.

With José Martinez on the mound and Toofan Khazal catching him, the Sharks have a dynamic duo that is going to make it hard on the opposing hitters. Sunday was no exception.

Staff leader Martinez carried a shutout in to the sixth inning as the Göteborg Hajarna (3-1) took a comfortable victory over the Malmö Pilots (0-4). After a leadoff hit, Martinez only gave up one or two hits before surrendering his first run in the sixth. Khazal behind the plate, called a great game and generally played exceptional behind the plate in the dusty fields of Malmö.

“He has really taken a step forward the last couple of years. Catching better, throwing better. All better,” Edgren praises his catcher.

Martinez (1-1) earned the win surrendering the two runs on four hits with two walks and seven punchouts.

Martinez pitched well.

Offensively, the Sharks displayed a true team effort. Only one Shark failed to cross home plate as they amassed eleven hits and twelve walks. Even though eight of those runs came in the seventh inning, the win was never really threatened.

Game two started off even better – for the Sharks. They feasted off Pilots starter Viktor Eriksson (0-2) and put up eleven (!) runs in the top of the first. With Shervin ‘The Shervinator’ Shakki and Mokhlad al-Ghanimi on the disabled list, Edgren turned to his bullpen to cover the whole game.

Joel ‘Big Daddy’ Earnest was slated to start the game but was so eager on earning a spot in that disabled list that he tweaked his ankle during infield outfield. In his stead, Chu Li-Heng started game two and performed admirably, giving up only two runs (none earned) in his two innings.

With the comfortable lead, Edgren wanted to make things interesting for the Malmö crowd and put this reporter on the mound. That did not go well as he gave up seven runs (five earned) while walking a whooping five batters in his two innings of work.

Thankfully, this game also saw The Return of the Earnest (Jr) as Erik Earnest made his official comeback. While he flashed some brilliance in game one, the rust was clearly there. In game two, however, it was a different story. If pitching two runs of shutout relief was not good enough, hit three doubles, drove in four runs and earned a walk. And yeah, those doubles could have been triples had Göteborgsvarvet not been the day before.

Earnest swung the bat well.

“Winning is better than losing, you can quote me on that,” Earnest said after the second win of the day.

Besides Earnest Jr, it was once again a team effort on offense. Official scorer had a lot of work as the Sharks put up no less than 19 hits and 4 walks in the second one. Other than Earnest and leadoff man Muñoz (who went 4-5), there was a Weidolf sighting on Sunday.

Muñoz, to no avail, tried to impersonate a serpent.

Johan ‘Wheels’ Weidolf then 4-5 himself (6-7 on the day) and had five ribbies in the second game. The veteran first baseman is now hitting .857, which is good.

“We kept having good at bats. Quality at bats, still being aggressive and with good patience,” Edgren says.

With the win streak now at three games, the Sharks will travel to play the undefeated Karlskoga Bats in two weeks. While Sunday was a good display of both defense and offense, it will be a lot tougher in Värmland.

“It’s always a tough one, while today was good we have to play even better when we face the Bats,” Edgren says.

Notables:

Daniel Linnås had his second official career hit.

Klas Brinkfledt played defense at second base like he was born to do it.

Khazal also played great defense at second and was wearing a cap.

Lars Karlsson was solid behind the plate in his official catching debut, despite having to catch this reporter.

When this reporter, Edgren, Weidolf and Earnest the elder at one point made out the Sharks bench, it might have been the oldest bench in baseball history.

Almost all Sharks swam after the game.

Natural habitat.

Quick recap: Sharks play well, win two games

In a complete team effort, the Sharks won two games against the Malmö Pilots taking their win streak to three games before the much anticipated trip to Karlskoga.

In the first game, the battery of José Martinez and Toofan Khazal dominated the Malmö Pilots for a long time. After giving up a hit to the first batter of the game, Martinez gave nothing away as he held the Pirates scoreless through five and only giving up two or three hits.

The solid game calling and catching from veteran Khazal should not be overlooked as he was as stellar as ever as the backstop. Indeed, he would not be hard to include in an all-league kind of team.

The offense was hungry on this Sunday and never gave the Pilots a chance to breathe. The first game’s final score was 17-2.

In the second one the Sharks came back famished and put up eleven (!) runs in the first inning and never looked back. Behind pretty much the whole staff in what was a bullpen game, they took won game two 17-10.

A full recap will be posted when stats are provided digitally or when I come around to the decipher the score sheets.

Also, the Sharks swam:

 

Time for Earnest(s) to start a winning streak?

The Pilots have always been a favorit foe of the Sharks.
On Sunday, they’re looking for wins.
“It won’t be easy,” Coach Edgren says.

Sunday will be the comeback of Erik Earnest in a Sharks jersey. Once again, he will suit up together with his dad, Joel Earnest, in the Sharks lineup. Last time they did so was in the jubilant, Jason Norderum no hitter in 2015:

In relief [of Norderum] came the slightly older Joel Earnest for his first Elitserien appearance on the mound. He promptly gave up three walks to load the bases and left it for his son to figure it out.
And figure it out he did, but maybe not in the way you would expect it.
After striking out the first batter, the second Heat batter lined out to big daddy Joel Earnest in left field who fired a throw to third for the classic 7-5 double play.
“Hey, I gotta help the kid out,” Joel Earnest said.

The addition of Earnest Jr comes as somewhat of a surprise for the Sharks faithful as he has not been seen that much on the Shark Park practice diamond. Be that as it may, few Swedish teams would turn him down.

J-Rod and Earnest Jr back in the day.

“Obviously, he was and still is a great player. To any team, he would be a quality addition,” Coach Jonny Edgren says.

The Sharks ride in to the friendly confines of Limhamnsfältet fresh from a split in Tranås where they won game two in nice fashion. Not with the Sharks from that matchup is Shervin ‘The Shervinator’ Shakki who was place on the 10-day DL with an upper body injury. Furthermore, the Miklo Velka of the Sharks ‘Vatos Locos’ – Eric Marquez – will not be travelling south with the team.

Eric Marquez?

Marquez did not respond to this reporter’s frequent phone calls, but sent an e-mail quote from the fantabulous movie:

“I may be white from the outside, but I’m brown on the inside, TO THE BONE,” Marquez writes.

Which is… weird. But then again, the Paco and Cruz of that trio, José Martinez and José Muñoz, will travel with the team.

This journey will also see the return of Johan Weidolf to the Sharks team. Neither he is a bad addition to the lineup. Quite possibly, he will be an even bigger influence just with his experience and clubhouse presence to the team.

“I know that winning is better than losing, that is what I preach,” Weidolf says.

The Pilots started their season by losing two games to the Karlskoga Bats. That in itself is not something to be ashamed about, since the Bats are one of the premier teams in the league but the Pilots were probably not too happy about the 7-33 run difference on the day.

Göteborg Hajarna had a 6-0 record against the Pilots last season but with additions of Omar Peguero among others, the Pilots will quite possibly not be easy pickings. Furthermore, the excellent Pilots catcher Sean T Kim is apparently still healthy and will be behind the plate to command the Pilots pitching staff. (The fact that Kim is a Giants fan has no effect on his playing ability).

So hey, if you’re feeling for a day of basking in the sun and watching quality(?) baseball – come to Limhamnsfältet on Sunday. First pitch at 12 and they serve the league’s best hamburgers, according to some. They are presumably the only team south of Stockholm that serves hamburgers at their games but that’s not the point.

Burgers is a thing.

Sunday is a great day for baseball, come join us!

Split starts Sharks season

Hard fought games at Tranås are nothing new.
Sunday was no exception.
“We need to work more on our defense,” coach Jonny Edgren says.

The Gothenburg Sharks (1-1) were eager as vampires in moonlight to get their first taste of blood in 2018. During an aggressive first inning on Sunday, Hajarna scored four runs off Tranås (1-1) starter Felix Casanova (1-0). Those runs were not only a result of the Sharks mastering the bats but also some errors from the home team.

Anywho, Tranås came right back in the bottom of the first inning and terrorised the Sharks starter José Martinez (0-1). The Sharks then came back with two runs in the second just to have Tranås equal those in the bottom half. Tranås had a decisive fourth inning where they scored three runs and took an 8-5 lead.

“Those balls were well hit and they found the holes in our outfield in that fourth inning,” Edgren says.

Göteborg put on the rally caps and brought the tying run to the plate in the last inning but could not get the baseball between or over the Tranås defense. Final score in the first game was 10-8 in favor of Tranås.

At the plate, the Sharks’ own version of ‘Vatos Locos’; José Martinez, Eric Marquez and José Muñoz was solid at the plate. All three went 2-4 and Martinez and Muñoz each had a double.

Exceptionally bad picture quality, but Los Vatos Locos was an offensive force in Tranås.

“We hit well. Next time we’ll also play better defense,” Edgren says.

Martinez put up a solid performance and went the distance in his official 2018 debut. He did not have the usual command of his pitches and gave up an uncharacteristic six walks. His strikeout total was as uncharacteristic, nothing only four K’s.

“He [Martinez] was a bit shaky at the start but recovered and was solid. Tranås hit his fastball well, but he’ll be fine,” Edgren says.

On the day, Martinez gave up ten runs (nine earned) on eleven hits, throwing 112 pitches.

The hard throwing Enrice Morton (0-1) started game two for the Tranås team and the Sharks went at it again. With the aggressiveness that coach Edgren been looking for, the Gothenburg team was credited with a three run first inning. Like the first game, it would be a roller coaster.

Tranås came right back in the bottom half and scored four of their own off Sharks young gun Shervin ‘The Shervinator’ Shakki (1-0). The Sharks, behind offensive juggernaut Muñoz, went back to swinging the bats and took two runs in the top half of the second for a 5-4 lead. A lead they would not relinquish.

Behind a solid defense, led by some defensive plays worthy of being web gems from Muñoz, the Sharks held on and added to their lead with three runs in the fourth and one in the seventh.

“The dandelions were pretty, but I got red dirt on my pants,” Rickard Kronqvist said after playing first base in the Sharks first victory of the season.

While that quote is both prosaic and weird, it does not take away anything from the Sharks’ performance in the second game.

Shakki got out of the way of this one.

Starting pitcher Shakki proved that he is gunning for a place in the rotation and willing to challenge for the place as the staff ace despite his young age. The ground ball machine went six innings, giving up four runs (one earned) on five hits and four walks, striking out one.

“He [Shakki] had a rough first inning but got better as the game went on,” Edgren says.

Edgren showed his intentions of being the Sharks closer as he called himself in from the bullpen to close out the game. A walk, hit and a run scored on a fielders choice was Edgren’s line on the first successful bullpen outing from him in the season.

All in all, the Sharks offense showed signs of progress and amassed 15 hits and 9 walks on on the day. Hits kept coming from all over the lineup and while veterans Kronqvist and Klas Brinkfeldt was kept hitless on the day, they have enough experience to know that winning one game is better than losing two.

BIrthday boy Ekström is waiting for the ball to hit him.

Notables:

Niclas Ekström went 1-3 with a walk on his birthday (and did get an HP as a gift).

Daniel Linnås was credited with his first official base hit.

Toofan Khazal was, as always, exceptionally solid behind the plate.

Joel Earnest played official baseball on the right side of 70.

There was no post game swimming excercise in Tranås.

2018 preview: Part 3 – The Infield

Welcome to the third part of the 2018 regional preview from what is quite possibly the most ambitious site in Swedish baseball. The series will consist of four parts: pitchers, outfielders, infielders and the opposition. When going through position players, some in the Sharks organization are versatile and will have logged innings all over the place. They will be included where they have played the most innings.

Disclaimer: This series of previews is the opinion of one person and does not necessarily reflect the organization’s views or anyone else’s for that matter.
Additional note: No Elitserien stats are included in hitters statistics.

Mokhlad al-Ghanimi

The speedy leadoff man progressed at the plate in 2017. While he did this, he also had less at bats and went homer-less all season long.

I’m tired of using this picture.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2016

68

45

23

10

.222

1

1

1

.355

.485

.840

20

15

0

10

2017

53

46

13

17

.369

1

2

0

.478

.433

.912

6

9

0

1

Maturity comes in to play when you look at the progression of the former Iraqi national team player. al-Ghanimi had a better approach to each at bat during last year’s campaign and reaped the results. Good quality at bats, fewer swings and misses, and better pitch recognition were the keys to al-Ghanimi’s success last season. He did this while also missing a lot more practices. Just imagine his numbers otherwise?

Defensively, he was a bit more erratic than 2016 but also made some of that up by his blistering speed and range that no one in this league can match. He moved around more this year and saw time at first, second and short, plus even a few innings in the outfield. While he certainly has the arm and the range to excel at shortstop, his sometimes stressed and erratic throws might have Coach Edgren looking for other solutions. The base running was maybe the area where he showed the most progress as he committed fewer base running gaffes and still swiped plenty of bags.

Jonny Edgren

Skip cut down on his own playing time in 2017 but was still very effective when he did play. More often than not, he seemed to see himself as a pinch hitter.

For some weird, unknown reason, Edgren is sometimes referred to as ‘The Golden Turd’.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2012

8

7

1

3

.428

0

0

0

.428

.500

.928

0

1

0

3

2013

14

13

1

2

.153

0

0

0

.153

.214

.368

1

2

0

0

2013

9

7

0

1

.142

0

0

0

.142

.333

.476

1

4

0

0

2015

13

12

5

8

.666

3

0

0

.916

.666

.1583

0

0

0

3

2016

29

22

11

8

.363

4

0

0

.545

.517

.1062

3

3

0

4

2017

17

12

4

5

.416

2

0

0

.583

.588

.1171

3

3

0

3

The only thing that is really stopping Coach Edgren from becoming a true force in the regional league is his own coaching. His stats speak for themselves–the old man can hit. And the only thing one can really complain about with that slash line is that he doesn’t come to the plate often enough.

And on the other hand, Edgren mostly filled in at first but also did duty at second base and in right field. While he did commit one catching error while playing first, no one can really say that he didn’t get the job done on the whole. To sum it up, Edgren is not really needed out there. It’s better to have younger guys getting most of the innings, but he could probably still hold his own in the Elitserien.

Niclas Ekström

Ekström’s could not really match his breakout season in 2016, but put up pretty solid numbers despite being seriously limited by a nagging foot injury. Word is, that injury almost is healed and he’ll be back in somewhat full force this time around.

Nic, second from the right, enjoys swimming and on occasion biting people.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2011

7

5

0

0

.000

0

0

0

.000

.285

.285

2

1

0

1

2012

20

16

3

4

.250

0

0

0

.250

.400

.650

4

1

0

1

2013

21

16

1

4

.250

0

0

0

.250

.400

.650

2

2

0

1

2014

31

27

5

8

.296

2

0

0

.370

.387

.757

1

8

0

7

2015

16

11

5

2

.181

0

0

0

.181

.437

.619

2

5

0

2

2016

41

20

9

5

.250

2

0

0

.350

.634

.984

18

5

0

4

2017

23

18

5

3

.166

1

0

0

.222

.347

.570

4

6

0

4

The true master of getting hit by pitches was not hit as many times during the 2017 campaign, thus having a negative impact on his OBP, but there was more to it than that. First of all, the foot injury that he suffered against Skövde was hampering him all year. He would often come out of games early, and it was apparent he could not, or would not trust his left foot while at bat. But enough of that. Surely the first person to not be satisfied with his performance is Nic himself. He’s got some revenge to take out on the regional league pitchers this season and will, as always, do his best to make that happen. A sign of that was Ekström’s performance in the playoffs at the end of last year. Nic went 3-5 with a double and two ribbies against the top pitchers in the league. Hopefully, that was a sign of him healing up and getting back to his game.

He was exclusively a first baseman last season, but the club is well aware that he is solid at all the outfield spots. Perhaps he is the internal solution the club is looking for when trying to upgrade the vast Shark Park outfield. A well healed foot would certainly do good in that aspect. Also, when looking for backups to veteran catcher Khazal, Nic is one of the prime candidates.

Toofan Khazal

The veteran backstop saw an offensive season that was a second coming of sorts. Even though his OBP came down slightly, he had a better approach and frequently had quality at bats.

It’s hard to see, but Khazal’s scarf reads ‘Winning is better than losing’.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2013

4

4

0

1

.250

0

0

0

.250

.250

.500

0

2

0

0

2014

21

16

5

0

.000

0

0

0

.000

.157

.157

3

3

0

0

2015

33

27

3

6

.222

0

0

0

.222

.363

.585

6

6

0

5

2016

62

35

12

6

.171

1

0

0

.200

.524

.724

24

14

0

9

2017

51

35

16

10

.285

0

0

0

.285

.509

.795

15

10

0

2

A shining batting average, like the one Khazal amassed, we don’t care about that do we? No, no we do not. On the other hand, that batting average actually represents something if you saw Khazal bat during the 2017 season. If you did, you saw a player with much more confidence, much more aggressiveness and, as Trolle Brandt would say, a lot more #swag. Sure, he didn’t walk as much, but opposing pitchers had him pinned a lot more as a threat than before and that counts for something.

Behind the plate, no one would argue that he had a better year. He was simply one of the main reasons the 2017 Sharks season was as successful as it was. His game calling is hard to evaluate as it’s kinda hard to see when one is watching from the coach’s box at first or third base (or occasionally the outfield), but since the organization’s pitchers are happy, so am I.

It will be a hard season to top, but Khazal never lacks in ambition. If anyone is working harder to reach higher levels in this organisation, please contact me.

Eric Marquez

The team’s most legitimate Vato Loco saw a decline to his offensive stats but found his place within the team and on the defensive side of the ball.

Marquez sometimes has a chip on his shoulder.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2016

21

20

4

7

.350

1

0

0

.400

.380

.780

1

2

0

6

2017

47

41

10

8

.195

0

0

0

.195

.276

.471

5

9

1

3

It was his first full season since coming over from the States and well… it was a disappointment. I’m sure Marquez would be the first one to admit to that. He was however hampered by both a sore knee and shoulder. Fresh out of Rumor Central: those body parts are fresh and ready to go come 2018. Also, new arrangements will make sure that Marquez will attend more practices this season, which will be extremely beneficial. Not only for himself but for the team as a whole.

While he started the season at third base, he ended it at second and really came to life. Together with shortstop phenom José Muñoz, he formed a true keystone combination that had the Shark’s faithful drooling. Give him a full season of practice and there will probably not be a better second baseman in the league.

José Muñoz

Yeah. Okey. Well… that’s a stat line… I guess?

The other José Muñoz draws comics.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2017

53

43

21

26

.604

4

0

0

.697

.679

.1376

10

1

0

11

I’m not really sure what to add to this, to be honest. Other than the fact that Muñoz piled up those stats without really showing up for practices. The backside of that is of course team chemistry but as an objective (?) reporter, it’s kind of hard to complain. Those stats are frickin’ video game-like. And there are lots of steals behind them as well, as he lead the league with 32 swiped bags. And of course flashy, consistent and league-leading defensive play at shortstop. Based on raw talent, he might just be one of the very best players in Sweden. Period. Just imagine the impact if he would be able to attend more practices.

Shervin Shakki

The Shervinator is growing in to his own. 2017 marked the fourth season in a row that he improved his stats across the board. Pretty good one might say.

Please google Shervinator.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2014

11

10

0

0

.000

0

0

0

.000

.090

.090

1

8

0

0

2015

25

23

2

3

.130

0

0

0

.130

.200

.330

2

17

1

0

2016

58

42

14

7

.166

0

0

0

.166

.396

.563

16

22

0

2

2017

34

25

8

7

.280

0

0

0

.280

.454

.734

7

12

0

5

Sure, one could ask for a little more slugging but then again, a lot of players have made careers out of simply being very productive. There are of course improvements to hope for when talking about a 18-year old dude, but 2017 was a success for “Swirvin’ Shervin” at the plate. Cutting down on those strikeouts is key but also making harder contact and improving that pitch recognition.

On the other side of the ball, Shakki provided the Sharks with consistent, stable play at second base. Never fancy, never risky. Pretty much a Jeff Kent figure over there (minus the douchie-ness and the homers). There is that issue with his range but as he gets bigger, builds more muscles, he will also become faster and able to cover more ground.

Hannes Wiström

The first full season for the team’s other true young gun was an immense success. Hannes made great improvements at the plate and was mostly battling himself if anyone.

Ya boy reppin’ his gang.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2016

24

22

5

3

.136

0

0

0

.136

.208

.344

1

9

0

3

2017

47

33

13

10

.303

3

2

0

.515

.500

.1015

11

10

0

10

That .500 OBP is pretty good and he was tied for third in the league in triples (together with, among others, al-Ghanimi). Those triples were also not far from being home runs. Give those legs an extra season of muscles and he’ll hit his first homer. He breathes athleticism, has no trouble stealing bases and can cover a lot of ground wherever he plays. His K/BB ratio is another thing to factor in his progress as his pitch selection became one of his strengths during last season.

Where Wiström fits in defensively is hard to say. It’s easy to say that he can play pretty much anywhere and while he started the season at first, he was mostly seeing play at third during the final stretch of the season. And sure, he could probably catch too if someone taught him, but he might have the most upside in center field. As he moved out there on occasion during the season, he showed off his range, sure hands and proclivity to being at the right place at the right time. Whether he wants to is another thing altogether, but it is basically his own mind that makes up where he fits best.

Johan Weidolf

The veteran provided the Sharks with the winning run in that miracle comeback against Karlskoga but also showed that experience is not everything.

On occasion, Weidolf is on the upper level analyzing the games and communicating via headset.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2011

8

5

1

0

.000

0

0

0

.000

.375

.375

3

1

0

2

2012

9

8

3

1

.125

1

0

0

.250

.222

.472

1

1

0

0

2013

6

6

0

2

.333

1

0

0

.500

.333

.833

0

1

0

1

2016

9

8

2

4

.500

1

0

0

.625

.555

.1180

1

1

0

2

2017

10

7

1

1

.142

1

0

0

.285

.400

.685

3

2

0

2

Weidolf is important to the Sharks. He has truckloads of experience, hits from the left side of the plate and can still hit doubles (even though his speed is not as blinding as it used to be). Ideally, he would serve as a team dad and slugging pinch hitter but there is also reality to also take into consideration. Weidolf still has the ability to be one of the best hitters in the league but it’s hard when practice time is hard to come by. Hopefully, he’ll have more time this season to get some hacks in BP.

Prediction:

The Sharks infield is loaded, there is no doubt about that. You’re probably tired of hearing me talk about this, but the acquisition of Logan Grossberg is also needs fit in here somewhere. If all these guys show up, it going to be happy problems for the coaching staff to write up the lineup card.

On the whole, there is really only thing that is slowing these guys down and that is chemistry. It’s rare to see the whole infield at the same practice, if it ever happened. Coach Edgren has been tearing the few hairs he has left trying to put together an infield made of guys who actually know each other. One could see that the defensive plays were a lot better as the season came to an end, mainly because the guys had enough games to find each other, showing that practice is a good thing.

2018 preview: Part 2 – The Outfield

Welcome to the second part of the 2018 regional preview from what is quite possibly the most ambitious site in Swedish baseball. The series will consist of four parts; pitchers, outfielders, infielders and the opposition. When going through position players, some in the Sharks organization are versatile and will have logged innings all over the place. They will be included where they have played the most innings.

Disclaimer: This series of previews is the opinion of one person and does not necessarily reflect the organization’s views or anyone else’s for that matter.
Additional note: No Elitserien stats are included in hitters statistics.

Daniel André

The reigning Sharks Home Run Derby winner proved that he is just that, a slugger. While he did hit into a double play to end the 2017 campaign, he took the responsibility on his shoulders and has now been selected for the Swedish national (softball) team.

The Sharks version of McDreamy.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2014

8

6

0

0

.000

0

0

0

.000

.250

.250

2

1

0

2

2015

15

12

3

3

.250

0

0

0

.250

.400

.650

1

2

0

2

2016

28

25

3

3

.120

0

0

0

.120

.214

.334

1

5

1

1

2017

21

20

4

9

.450

1

0

0

.500

.476

.976

1

2

0

8

On the defensive side of things, André put up 16 perfect  (as perfect as the flawed fielding percentage stat is) innings in the outfield. He also logged eleven innings at second base and showed that versatility is a good thing to have.

When one see a jump in OPS like André did, you can’t really complain. But he did have his dry spells during the season where he would be too eager to swing at bad balls and give the pitcher the upper hand during an at bat. Going forward, pitch recognition and drawing more walks would make André a lock in the Sharks outfield and move him higher up in Edgren’s lineup.


Joel Earnest

The fan favorite had a career year in 2017. Not only did he improve across the board and had his best year at the plate, he also recorded his first double and infield hit for the Sharks. A good thing to have done before turning 70.

Earnest enjoys winning better than losing.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2012

8

6

1

1

.166

0

0

0

.166

.375

.541

1

1

0

1

2013

10

9

1

1

.111

0

0

0

.111

.200

.311

0

1

0

0

2014

28

26

0

1

.038

0

0

0

.038

.107

.145

2

7

1

3

2015

31

31

5

10

.322

0

0

0

.322

.322

.645

0

8

0

6

2016

23

19

2

4

.210

0

0

0

.210

.318

.528

2

9

1

5

2017

26

22

3

6

.272

1

0

0

.318

.384

.702

4

8

0

2

Earnest fought to stay off the high fastballs all season and he actually did better as the season progressed. Not only did he excel in department that has him stay a favorite among the Sharks fanbase (pitch recognition), but he was once overheard talking about OBP. Looking more closely at the numbers, Earnest drew four walks last season which is huge, not only because he put up a respectable .384 OBP but because that almost totals his previous five seasons put together (five). This can be compared to when he hit .322 but had an OBP to match. His K/BB ratio dramatically improved and as a result of that, so did his performance.

Defensively, he had a disastrous year at first base with a .714 fielding percentage. That might be because the stat itself sucks (and I have nothing else to work from) or that he was only allowed to play there for a single inning. Otherwise, Earnest was mostly seen patrolling the Shark Park right field and managed somehow to not get a ball to catch during the entire season. A feat that is impressive in itself.

Fernando Miguel Carvalho

Still looking for that first hit, still looking for more innings to play.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2016

6

5

0

0

.000

0

0

0

0

.166

.166

1

3

0

0

2017

7

4

1

0

.000

0

0

0

0

.333

.333

2

3

0

1

Carvalho score the first run of his career last season which was a step in the right direction. A larger sample size is needed to really evaluate his performances properly and hopefully, he will get that chance during the upcoming season.

Fabian Hanning

The Sharks favorite German took less at bats last season but saw his stats improve. Quite possibly because he tried to be more German than before.

German dude does German things.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2015

13

9

0

1

.111

0

0

0

.111

.384

.495

3

5

0

1

2016

33

27

8

3

.111

0

0

0

.111

.272

.383

3

10

0

2

2017

21

20

2

4

.200

0

0

0

.200

.238

.438

1

2

1

2

What really stands out about the 2017 season from Hanning was that he managed to cut down on his swings and misses. That, in turn, enabled him to make more contact and strike out less. Great analysis? Thanks. The German was most prominently a figure in the Sharks outfield but also at the hot corner, without booking any errors.

Looking into the crystal ball, Hanning needs to up his performance at the plate to keep getting reps but the 2017 season was a step in the right direction. If he continues on this path, great things are sure to come from the latest German Shark.

Lars Karlsson

A six-year layoff seems to have done Karlsson good as a he provided stats worthy of a video game player.

This is Karlsson working hard to be a catcher.

Year

Club

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2010

Malmö

6

6

1

1

.166

0

0

0

.166

.166

.333

0

0

0

0

2011

Malmö

12

11

5

5

.454

0

0

0

.454

.500

.954

1

2

0

2

2017

Göteborg

8

6

4

4

.666

1

0

0

.833

.750

.1583

2

0

0

2

Obviously, Karlsson has a sample size that’s not really smart to draw any conclusions from. On the other hand, those pretty numbers look intriguing. There will be ample expectations from the Sharks faithful going into the season when one puts up a .1583 OPS, even if it only is on six at bats.

Karlsson has worked hard during the winter to be an acceptable catcher. While no one believes or expects he can take down veteran catcher Toofan Khazal, it would be nice for the Sharks to have some kind of backup behind the plate.

Rickard Kronqvist

Yummy, that’s a moneyball type player if there ever was. Except for the lack of homers, but hey, you can’t have it all. Kronqvist provided a lot in the on base percentage department during a season where the Sharks were sorely lacking plate discipline.

Best. Picture. Ever. Again.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2017

14

6

5

1

.166

0

0

0

.166

.642

.809

8

2

0

0

And when we talk about value to a team, ‘The Potato’ provided the most value of any player on the team in a very underrated category – clubhouse presence. With immense energy, positivity that never seemed to end and always a kind word, he provided a much needed energy injection for the Sharks.

As far as playing time goes, Kronqvist showed that he can pretty much play any position as he was seen at first, third, behind the plate, in the outfield and on the mound during the 2017 season.

Daniel Linnås

Another Shark who is still looking for his first Regional series hit. Linnås did get one or two in SWBL play and that shiny OBP is nothing to scoff at.

I don’t know what this is. But it’s amazing.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2017

14

8

1

0

.000

0

0

0

.000

.384

.384

4

6

0

0

Linnås was one of the more persistent practice attendees during last season. And it payed off! The youngster improved probably more than anyone during the year and late in the season, it started to show. More contact, more discipline and more awareness on the field.

José Martinez

While the slugger provided more value on the mound than at the plate, he was a force in the Sharks lineup all year long and held his own in the Shark outfield.

Slugger x 2.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2012

5

5

1

1

.200

1

0

0

.400

.200

.600

0

3

0

2

2014

3

3

0

1

.333

0

0

0

.333

.333

.666

0

0

0

1

2017

40

36

4

8

.222

2

0

0

.277

.300

.577

4

10

0

3

You cannot talk about Martinez’s 2017 without talking about that home game against Karlskoga. In pouring rain, Martinez stepped up and saved the day for the Sharks in the bottom of the final frame.

“Weidolf hit a double down the right field line, setting the stage for Martinez being the hero once more. Martinez rose to the occasion and hit a ground rule double for the walk off victory.”

While that quote doesn’t really do that day justice, it was pure magic. Martinez could benefit from more patience at the plate as he more often than not is looking for that big hit. When he get his pitch and connects, he is better than most.

This Reporter

Although his teammates may disagree, this was a season during which this player-coach’s main contribution was the frequency of which he benched himself. Nursing a sore knee, this reporter been slated purely for bullpen duty in 2018.

via GIPHY

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2014

8

5

0

1

.200

0

0

0

.200

.375

.575

2

2

0

2

2015

30

23

7

6

.260

1

0

0

.304

.400

.704

6

4

1

4

2016

30

25

6

7

.280

1

0

0

.320

.400

.720

5

5

0

2

2017

22

20

8

6

.300

0

0

0

.300

.363

.663

2

3

0

2

So, he progressed in one category I guess, batting average. Quite possibly the most flawed stat in the game and certainly the most useless. Regressing in all other categories. Not great. Also, like we’ve said before, the ACL tear he suffered during the offseason might be a blessing in disguise.

Isak Voigt Jansson

Izzy fell off the face of the earth for a while during last season and had no-way near the amount of at bats he amassed during 2016.

Still not a bat, Izzy.

Year

TAB

AB

R

H

AVE

2B

3B

HR

SLG

OBP

OPS

BB

K

GIDP

RBI

2015

10

10

0

1

.100

0

0

0

.100

.100

.200

0

7

0

0

2016

41

31

7

2

.064

0

0

0

.064

.292

.357

8

13

0

5

2017

5

3

1

0

.000

0

0

0

.000

.400

.400

2

2

0

0

Truly, the three at bats must be below the acceptable line for a so-called reporter to provide acceptable analysis. Izzy has proclaimed he once again will be a feature in the Sharks lineup.

Prediction:

The Sharks outfield has always been the weakest spot, if there is one in this beloved and respected ball club. While there is some promise in the outfield, most of the ones that are already there would probably like to be playing on the diamond rather than in the spacious (and uphill and often swamp-like) outfield of Shark Park.

On the outside looking in, there is mostly Erik Earnest. The athletic outfielder was quite possibly the best outfielder in Sweden back in 2015 but has not played since. If he would come back, that would of course be an upgrade better than most clubs in Sweden could hope for. Other than that, the outfield will mostly benefit from the fact that the infield looks so very crowded. With so much talent and only so many spots on the diamond, it might push young, fast and sure-handed players like Mokhlad al-Ghanimi or Hannes Wiström out from the diamond on occasion. There might also be a new outfield star in the acquisition Logan Grossberg, who has shown that he can contribute anywhere on the field.

It would benefit the team if a few infielders would put in the work and actually go for an outfield spot. Some blame could also be thrown at the coaching staff, which has done too little to upgrade the team’s outfield from within.

2018 preview: Part 1 – Pitchers

Welcome to the first part of the 2018 regional preview from this here ‘joke site’. The series will will consist of four parts; pitchers, outfielders, infielders and the opposition. When going through position players, some in the Sharks organization are versatile and will have logged innings all over the place. They will be included where they have played the most innings.
Also, for some stupid reason, Heatstat does not show previous years’ stats on pitching. Which is retarded.

Disclaimer: This series of previews is the opinion of one person and does not necessarily reflect the organization’s views or anyone else’s for that matter.
Additional note: playoff statistics isare not included in pitchers stats.

The Shark

We can call him that, but it’s referring to the Sharks organization as a whole. The pitching staffs over the years have progressed, at least when it comes to preventing runs.

He sometimes pitches as well.

That is obviously a good thing but as we can see from last year, strikeouts are down in more innings and opposing hitters are actually hitting better, up to .313 to .285. Fortunately walks were down as well and the pitching staff’s strikeout to walk-ratio is better (0,68 in 2016 and 0,71 in 2018).

2013 540.0 14 66 944 676 11.27 3272 2586 900 .348 538 0 106 328
2014 531.2 14 64 836 500 8.47 3120 2520 822 .326 418 4 126 388
2015 291.0 11 34 415 258 7.98 1587 1275 373 .292 266 0 34 253
2016 103.7 8 9 157 87 7.55 598 484 138 .285 85 0 26 125
2017 106.7 10 6 100 77 6.50 540 447 140 .313 64 0 20 90

Starting pitchers

José Martinez

Martinez was the club ace in 2017 and consistently showed good command from the mound. He took home the silverware with the best pitcher award and will be counted upon to be the staff leader in the upcoming season.

Martinez is very open about the fact that winning is better than losing.

Year

IP

W

L

R

ER

ERA

TAB

AB

H

AVE

BB

HP

K

2017

27.0

3

0

15

13

4.33

118

105

25

0.238

11

2

33

Obviously, Martinez was impressive during the 2017 season. Not only did he perform well during the season but when it came to pitching against the better offenses in the league, he was up to the task. Most notably as he held his own against the ‘regional team’ of Sölvesborg (which fortunately will not field an elite team in the regional season this time around) and in the playoffs against Alby. That Alby performance was something else as he fought himself, the home crowd and the Alby hitters while throwing just north of 150 pitches.

Mokhlad al-Ghanimi

al-Ghanimi, the staff ace of 2016, saw his efficiency diminish in 2017 and was not trusted upon as much during 2017. Maybe because of a lack in practice time but also had worse command of his pitches – both the curveball and the fastball.

It might be time to take a new picture of al-Ghanimi.

Year

IP

W

L

R

ER

ERA

TAB

AB

H

AVE

BB

HP

K

2016

35.2

3

3

48

26

6.56

200

156

38

.243

35

8

70

2017

21.0

3

1

18

14

6.00

111

72

12

.167

24

13

31

The former Iraqi national team pitcher will surely look to bounce back during the 2018 campaign. Last season, he flashed his brilliance and once again proving that he probably has the best raw stuff in the league. The solution to live up to his potential is simple: command. Strikes need to be thrown and batters should not be getting free passes to first – nor by balls or getting hit by pitches. If he bounces back and the Sharks can have the 1-2 punch of Martinez and al-Ghanimi (with young’un Shervin Shakki knocking on the door), Eliteserien play is not out of the question.

Shervin Shakki

‘The Shervinator’ took another step forward and if JT Chargois success in the MLB is any indicator, Shakki might be the next ace of the Shark’s staff.

Year

IP

W

L

R

ER

ERA

TAB

AB

H

AVE

BB

HP

K

2015

5.0

0

1

9

6

10.80

27

25

12

.480

1

0

1

2016

19.1

2

2

39

24

11.17

120

104

37

.355

12

0

3

2017

25.2

3

3

26

21

7.36

135

121

43

.355

6

3

18

Shakki actually pitched better than his numbers might suggest. He was very good at limiting fly balls which usually is a very good thing in baseball. Sadly, he was often bitten by some not so great defense and bad luck as balls often found holes (Ty Cobb was right, ya can’t aim). On the other hand, Shakki also needs to improve his control and also make more use of his curveball when being able to throw it for strikes. To sum his stats up, if Heatstat would provide a FIP or xFIP, ‘Shervinator’ would be a household name.

And this. If you’ve never seen Shakki’s fastball, compare it to JT Chargois. It’s pretty much an exact copy (speed not included).

Mikael Lindqvist

Lindqvist saw his health falter during the season and only made two appearences. The fan favorite might not make it back this season but would surely be a welcome addition to the club.

Still not baseball, Mike.

 

Year

IP

W

L

R

ER

ERA

TAB

AB

H

AVE

BB

HP

K

2014

10.0

0 1 22 14

12.60

68 59 24 .406 9 0 0
2015

26.2

1 3 43 29

9.79

164 137 46 .335 20 0 5
2016

16.0

1 2 27 11

6.19

87 67 18 .268 12 0 8
2017

5.2

0 1 12 5

7.94

33 28 13 .464 4 0 1

When Lindqvist is on point, he’s pretty tough to hit. He won’t overpower you but will nibble and wringe his pitchers in to the zone in a weird way, looking like nothing else in the league. As he is still on the 60-day DL, we will not see him on the field for some time but he will lead the Shark fans from the stand during his rehabilitation.

Relief pitchers

Rickard Kronqvist

Kronqvist, often referred to as ‘The Potato’, extended his versatility last season by appearing in two games on the mound. Most interesting he held his ground against that ridiculous Sölvesborg team and also kept Tranås scoreless over three innings.

Best. Picture. Ever.

Year

IP

W

L

R

ER

ERA

TAB

AB

H

AVE

BB

HP

K

2017

4.1

0 0 3 2

4.16

21 17 5 .294 3 1 0

Pitchers are often referred to as a two-, three- or four-pitch guy. Kronqvist is a two-pitch dude:

“I only have two pitches, a strike and a ball,” Kronqvist is quoted as saying.

And yeah, he’ll not blow your mind and while the number of innings doesn’t really qualify as being statistically sound, he showed last season that he can be effective. It will be interesting to see what he can contribute as the back end of the Sharks bullpen probably is the oldest in Sweden.

Jonny Edgren

If the Sharks have anything close to resembling a closer, Edgren is it. And he’s not afraid to put himself out there (which as often does) in high leverage situations.

Year

IP

W

L

R

ER

ERA

TAB

AB

H

AVE

BB

HP

K

2015

2.0

0

0

2

0

0.00

10

9

3

.333

1

0

0

2016

1.0

0

0

8

6

54.00

14

7

3

.428

6

0

1

2017

4.1

0

0

3

1

2.08

21

19

6

.316

2

0

1

Last year, Edgren showed why he and the Sharks faithful hum Hell’s Bells when he emerges from the bullpen. He has the velocity to run a fastball by you and when the splitter is on point, it can be pretty nasty. Hopefully, he’ll gain more command of his curveball to catch som hitters off guard and be the true closer that the Sharks are looking for.

This reporter

Sigh… are we really doing this again? Okay. So, last year. This wannabe baseball player made one appearance on the mound and was pretty useless. Even more useless than at the plate.

via GIPHY

Pretty useless GIF but the point is: stick to reporting.

Year

IP

W

L

R

ER

ERA

TAB

AB

H

AVE

BB

HP

K

2017

1.2

0

0

7

6

32.34

17

9

4

.444

7

0

0

Anyway, that statline is pretty nasty. Even if you try to walk seven guys in two innings it’s gonna be hard. The fact that he was slightly less ineffective during SWBL games is not that encouraging since it’s kinda hard to be worse than this. Therefore, him tearing his ACL during offseason might be a good thing for the team. That he is trying to make a comeback as a pitcher might not be as good.

Joel Earnest

Now on the right side of 70, Earnest the elder is trying to make a comeback on the mound as he did not see any regional series action from the mound during 2017.

A picture too good to not publish.

Year

IP

W

L

R

ER

ERA

TAB

AB

H

AVE

BB

HP

K

2016

1.0

0

0

1

1

9.00

6

5

2

400

0

1

0

Basically a screwball pitcher, Earnest can throw anyone off guard at the plate. His irrational style from the mound has sent hitters to sanatoriums when that was still a thing. Word is, Earnest has worked on both a curveball and a knuckleball during the offseason and that the rumors of him hanging up his glove was very untrue.

Toofan Khazal

Rounding up the bullpen, or retirement home, is catcher Khazal. While he is rarely released from catching duty, certain members of the coaching staff are trying to free him up to let him loose on the mound. There is no doubt he would succeed from the hill as well.

Khazal, on the left, started twerking right after this picture was taken.

Year

IP

W

L

R

ER

ERA

TAB

AB

H

AVE

BB

HP

K

2016

4.2

0

1

8

7

13.49

29

22

8

363

7

0

1

Khazal did not return to the mound in regional series play in 2017 but did show his potential during SWBL play. If coach Edgren can somehow find a decent replacement at the plate, Khazal can be a valuable addition to the bullpen.

Prediction:

The pitching staff look pretty good coming into the season. There’re obvious question marks in the bullpen but with the trio of Martinez, al-Ghanimi and Shakki, the innings coming out of the pen should be limited. It will however depend on the starters staying effective to succeed in the long run.

Word is that Shakki was effective and in shape to start the season when the Sharks faced the Malmö Pilots and Copenhagen Urban Achievers in the spring opener. His success is important, not only for the results in general but also to have Martinez and al-Ghanimi stay on their toes and feeling that pressure to succeed because someone is waiting in the wings.

As far as additions go, there were rumblings about Sharks comebacks from Ted Bratsberg and legendary pitcher Hiba Nabi. Alas, they never materialized. Relief ace and leadoff man Josef Hussein was also on the verge of a comeback but sadly it did not come true. On the other hand, Eric Marquez has shown some promise in the past and is now considered a full blown Swede by the federation (which means he won’t steal innings from al-Ghanimi). Marquez’s should has been a worry in the past and depending on where he is positioned on the diamond while not pitching.

Furthermore, the old friend alert was activated during this weekends SWBL games in Malmö when Erik Earnest once again put on the Sharks jersey. Last time around, Earnest pitched effectively in the Eliteseries and is perfectly capable of doing that again if he decides to come back full time.

On the whole, be worried about the bullpen. Be not so worried about the starters. There is a lot of potential in the 2018 edition of Sharks pitching staff and if names like Nabi, Hussein and Earnest actually would return, the staff might carry the team all the way to Elitserien.

Baby Sharks play historic scrimmage

On Sunday, a junior scrimmage was played at Shark Park.
That is not a very common sentence to write.
“Our hard work has payed off, we’re soon going to be up there playing with the big boys,” Rickard Kronqvist says.

Both a U12 and a U15 game was played in the sunbathing Shark Park on Sunday. Since a junior scrimmage hasn’t taken place in Gothenburg since, well… forever, a lot of players took the chance to try out both pitching and catching.

It didn’t really matter, but winning was of course better than losing.

“There is a lot of talent in this group, but mostly a lot of joy and happiness.” Baby Shark coach Rickard Kronqvist says.

The record crowd, a bigger one than usually show up for regional series play, was thrilled as the Baby Sharks took the field with excitement.

Some at the plate action.

“The joy these kids have from just playing a game and stealing bases is fantastic to see,” Kronqvist adds.

Although there was a lot of jitters and butterflies, all players exceeded expectations and provided close contests.

“I can pitch, and catch as well. But it’s gonna be hard to do at the same time,” Leo Sandgren says after the game.

Excitement she wrote!

The one team was a little better both offensively and defensively, especially defensively but it evened out in the end. During the second game, it was apparent that the bigger, full sized, field, was a challenge, especially on the defensive side of the ball. A lot of movement, running and stealing bases made the offense thrilling and exciting.

“I am like a magnet out there,” Sandro Ponjevic said after being hit by a pitch three times on the day.

One day, the Sharks organization hope to field a team in the national junior series. Still some way to go, but for sure closer than in a long time.

Sharks shaking off the rust in Malmö

Hearing that the Sharks were just a hit away from winning last year’s Swedish regional championship, the player from the Copenhagen seemed a bit surprised. And that’s easy to understand. Because for nearly every nice play made by the Sharks, there was a bad one to match. Even so, there was plenty to smile about in Sunday’s spring training opener against the Malmö Pilots and the Copenhagen Urban Achievers.

Caleb Chu, 16, standout veteran of the Taiwanese leagues, breaks for second in a successful steal against the Pilots.

The stars were aligned and the gods of baseball were smiling down on Limnhamnsfältet Sunday. With the mercury at seventeen degrees , blue skies and free burgers courtesy of the home team, it would take more than an occasional error, watching a called third strike go by or wildness on the mound to dampen spirits.

Acting Coach Rick Kronqvist, when asked about losing both games of the doubleheader, had this to say: “Although winning is always better than losing, there were no losers here today. This was baseball at it’s finest, in its purest form.”

Malmö burgers — best in the league

Did you know…
This was the first time Erik Earnest and Joel Earnest had played together since combining with the legendary Jason Norderum in throwing a no-hitter against Sundbyberg back in 2015.

Sweden’s stringent border checks, established to protect its citizens from the forces of evil had an unexpected effect Sunday, with several of Copenhagen’s top players being turned away while trying to cross the bridge between Denmark and Sweden due to insufficient travel documents.