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1995-1996 Australian Baseball League

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The 1995-1996 season of the Australian Baseball League was a very competitive one, with only one team more than 9 games out of the race. It was marred by conflict as Dave Nilsson, the league's brightest star and defending batting champion, ran into trouble with his team. The former Waverley Reds, of which Nilsson was part owner, moved to become the Melbourne, and Nilsson originally refused to play for a team outside of Queensland. They finally agreed that Nilsson would serve out this year of his contract then become a free agent.

The addition of Nilsson and Greg Jelks to Melbourne helped them overcome a slow start to make it to the finals before falling. Another key contributor was Damian Moss (4-6, 3.86), who finished 4th in ERA.

The title instead went to the Sydney Blues, who were led by All-Star C Gary White (.357, a league-leading 17 HR and 49 RBI; tied in both categories). White became the first regular season MVP to also win championship series MVP honors. Also lending a hand for Sydney were Scott Tunkin (.328, 40), Brendan Kingman (.292, .534 SLG) and Sharnol Adriana (.341).

The regular-season champions were the Brisbane Bandits, who had the top foreign player, All-Star P Frankie Rodriguez (7-0, 2.69, .01 shy of the ERA title). All-Star 2B Adam Burton hit .402/.504/.813 to lead the ABL in average, OBP and slugging percentage.

The ERA champion was a man who was working as a hitting coach in the US - Jon Deeble (3-2, 2.68) of the Melbourne Monarchs.

Other stars were Perth's All-Star 3B Jason Hewitt (.396, .497 OBP) and Adelaide's All-Star 1B Craig Watts (.327, tied with White with 17 HR and 49 RBI).

[edit] Standings

  1. Brisbane Bandits, 29-16
  2. Sydney Blues, 28-19
  3. Perth Heat, 26-20
  4. Melbourne Reds, 27-21
  5. Gold Coast Cougars, 23-21
  6. Melbourne Monarchs, 24-24
  7. Adelaide Giants, 21-25
  8. Hunter Eagles, 7-39

Playoffs: Sydney def. Perth, 2 games to 1. Melbourne def. Brisbane, 2 games to 0. Sydney def. Melbourne, 2 games to 0.

Sources: 1997 Baseball Almanac, Flintoff and Dunn

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