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1997-1998 Cuban National League

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The 1997-1998 season was the thirty-seventh season of Cuba's national baseball system.

Contents

[edit] Serie Nacional

The 37th Serie Nacional was won by Pinar del Río, the team's second straight title. The team beat Santiago de Cuba in the finals of the playoffs, four games to one.

The league underwent many changes after the national team lost in the gold medal match of the previous summer's Intercontinental Cup against Japan. For instance, the champion Pinar del Río changed managers from former national team manager Jorge Fuentes to the new skipper of the national team Alfonso Urquiola – despite Fuentes having led the team to a championship.

For the first time in over three decades the Serie Nacional is the only competition in the National League. As the only league competition, the season length was increased to 90 games. There was also the reemergence of the league's two zonas; the Zona Occidental, consisting of Grupo A and Grupo B, and Zona Oriental, consisting of Grupo C and Grupo D. However, these grupos are simply nominal and have no effect of the schedule or playoff match-ups. The playoffs were also expanded to include the top four teams from each zona. In the best-of-five quarterfinals, the first and fourth place teams face off in one series while the second team plays against the third place team in the other series. The best-of-seven semifinals are between the quarterfinal winners, with the best-of-seven finals following the semifinal round. Another format change involved the introduction of a mid-season All-Star Game held in early March.

Santiago de Cuba was the top team in the Serie Nacional and the number one seed in the Zona Oriental, with the other seeds being Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila, both tied atop Grupo C, and Guantánamo. The seeds in the Zona Occidental were Pinar del Río, La Habana, Metropolitanos, and Industriales. Both perennial cellar-dwellers, Guantánamo and Ciego de Ávila, were promptly swept in three games by Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey respectivly. Both higher seeds in the Zona Occidental – Pinar del Río and La Habana – won their series. Both semifinals went the full seven games, with both zona's number one teams making the finals, where Pinar del Río defeated Santiago de Cuba, 4 to 1.

Pitcher José Ibar of La Habana has perhaps the finest season in league history. The righthander wins a record 20 games while pitching in 196.1 innings pitched and striking out 189 opposing batters – both aluminum bat era records. He also leads the league with a 1.51 earned run average by giving up only 33 earned runs. Ibar, with only 2 losses, ties with Pinar del Río's 10 – 1 pitcher Ismael Cortina for the league's best winning percentage at .909.

Villa Clara's Óscar Machado sets a new runs batted in record with 87 RBI; he also strikes out 73 times, the highest total in nearly 25 years and the league record during the aluminum bat era. Carlos Alberto Yánes of Isla de la Juventud gives up an all-time record 204 base hits, while starting an era record 25 games. Industriales' Maique Quintero walks 69 batters, another era record.

The Metropolitanos' newcomer outfielder Yasser Gómez makes a smashing début rapping out a rookie record 112 hits causing him to be named the Rookie of the Year (Novatos del Año). Gómez's total would be surpassed four years later by Kendry Morales.

[edit] Standings

Bold indicates Zona champion; Italics indicates Serie Nacional champion

[edit] Zona Occidental

Grupo A Grupo B
Team G W L WPCT GB
Pinar del Río 90 56 34 0.622 -.- La Habana 90 54 36 0.600 -.-
Metropolitanos 90 52 38 0.578 4.0 Industriales 90 47 43 0.522 7.0
Isla de la Juventud 90 46 44 0.511 10.0 Cienfuegos 90 27 63 0.300 27.0
Matanzas 90 39 51 0.433 17.0 Sancti Spíritus 90 27 63 0.300 27.0

[edit] Zona Oriental

Grupo C Grupo D
Team G W L WPCT GB Team G W L WPCT GB
Camagüey 90 57 33 0.633 -.- Santiago de Cuba 89 61 28 0.685 -.-
Ciego de Ávila 90 57 33 0.633 -.- Guantánamo 90 52 38 0.578 9.5
Villa Clara 90 47 43 0.522 10.0 Holguín 89 34 55 0.382 27.0
Las Tunas 90 32 58 0.356 25.0 Granma 90 31 59 0.344 30.5

[edit] Playoffs

  Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
                           
  OCC1  Pinar del Río 3  
OCC4  Industriales 1  
  OCC1  Pinar del Río 4  
Occidental
  OCC2  La Habana 3  
OCC2  La Habana 3
  OCC3  Metropolitanos 2  
    OCC1  Pinar del Río 4
  OTE1  Santiago de Cuba 1
  OTE1  Santiago de Cuba 3  
OTE4  Guantánamo 0  
  OTE1  Santiago de Cuba 4
Oriental
  OTE2  Camagüey 3  
OTE2  Camagüey 3
  OTE3  Ciego de Ávila 0  

[edit] All-Star Game

The thirteenth Juego de las Estrellas (All-Star Game) was held at Ciego de Ávila in Ciego de Ávila, Ciego de Ávila (Serie Nacional)|Ciego de Ávila on March 8, 1998. In the game, Oriente defeated Occidentales by a score of 5 to 2. Oriente had 6 hits to Occidentales's 5, while the errors were 3 to 2 in favor of Oriente. The winning pitcher was Oscar Gil and the losing pitcher was Adrian Hernández.

[edit] Leaders

Bold indicates either wooden bat record or aluminum bat record (1976-1977 to 1998-1999), Italics indicate Serie Nacional record

[edit] Batting

Stat Leader Team Number Notes
Batting Average Roberquis Videaux Guantánamo .393 110 hits in 280 at-bats
Runs Scored Óscar Machado Villa Clara 65
Base Hits Reemberto Rosell Cienfuegos 132
Doubles Loidel Chapellí Camagüey 32
Triples Danel Castro Las Tunas 11
Home Runs Óscar Machado Villa Clara 24
Runs Batted In Óscar Machado Villa Clara 87
Base-on-Balls Javier Méndez
Juan Manrique
Industriales
Matanzas
72
Intentional Base-on-Balls Luis E. Rodríguez Holguín 15
Hit-by-Pitch Reutilio Hurtado Santiago de Cuba 18
Strikeouts Óscar Machado Villa Clara 73
Sacrifice Hit Wilber de Armas Metropolitanos 18
Sacrifice Fly Michel Perdomo Villa Clara 9
Stolen Bases Enrique Díaz Metropolitanos 38

[edit] Pitching

Stat Leader Team Number Notes
Wins José Ibar La Habana 20
Win-Loss Percentage José Ibar
Ismael Cortina
La Habana
Pinar del Río
0.909 20 - 2, Leader with most wins
10 - 1
Earned Run Average José Ibar La Habana 1.51 33 ER in 196.1 IP
Innings Pitched José Ibar La Habana 196.1
Games Pitched Raúl Reyes Camagüey 35
Games Started Carlos A. Yánes Isla de la Juventud 25
Games Relieved Raúl Reyes Camagüey 35
Complete Games Giorge Díaz Guantánamo 16
Shutouts Giorge Díaz Guantánamo 6
Hits Allowed Carlos A. Yánes Isla de la Juventud 204
Strikeouts José Ibar La Habana 189
Base-on-Balls Maique Quintero Industriales 69
Intentional Base-on-Balls Joel Monzón Matanzas 9
Hit Batters Eliecer Montes de Oca Villa Clara 22

[edit] Award Winners

The Most Valuable Player (Jugadores más Valiosos) was Oscar Machado a outfielder with Villa Clara. The Most Valuable Pitcher (Lanzadores más Valiosos) was José Ibar of La Habana. Yasser Richard Gómez of Industriales was the Series' Rookie of the Year (Novatos del Año).

[edit] Sources

Cuban National League Seasons
1962 1962-1963 1963-1964 1964-1965 1965-1966 1966-1967 1967-1968 1968-1969
1969-1970 1970-1971 1971-1972 1972-1973 1973-1974 1974-1975 1975-1976 1976-1977 1977-1978 1978-1979
1979-1980 1980-1981 1981-1982 1982-1983 1983-1984 1984-1985 1985-1986 1986-1987 1987-1988 1988-1989
1989-1990 1990-1991 1991-1992 1992-1993 1993-1994 1994-1995 1995-1996 1996-1997 1997-1998 1998-1999
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