by Thommy Brolin
This coming weekend Karlskoga and Stockholm start the Swedish Finals with two games at Stockholm’s home field Skarpnäck.
Karlskoga enters the finals as reigning champions, and are determined to repeat the success they enjoyed last year when beating Sundbyberg 3 – 1 in the best of five series. For Stockholm it is their first ever final as a team, but there are plenty of play-off experience in the individual players.
By looking at the stats for the season so far, we can expect a close and interesting series. Karlskoga has batted .316 compared to Stockholm’s .310, and Karlskoga also leads in OBA with .413 to .411. In slugging the two teams are equal with .432.
In the pitching department Karlskoga also leads Stockholm narrowly, posting a 4.12 ERA against Stockholm’s 4.21. Karlskoga’s opponents are batting .241 against them, while Stockholm pitching has given up a .245 average to their opponents.
So far Karlskoga seems to have a slight advantage, but looking at the games played between the two teams so far this season, indications go the other way.
Stockholm is 3 – 1 against Karlskoga this year, after having won the first two games in Stockholm in May (6 – 5 and 15 – 5), and then splitting the final two games of the season two weeks ago (2 – 4 and 6 – 5). Stockholm won the first three games between the teams, and also held a 5 – 3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth in the last game, but Karlskoga bounced back and scored three runs in the bottom of the frame to win that game.
In the season series between the two teams Stockholm has posted a .292 batting average, while Karlskoga hast managed just .244 against Stockholm pitching. Stockholm had seven extra base hits in the series (5 doubles, 1 triple and 1 homerun), compared to five for Karlskoga (4 doubles and 1 triple). Karlskoga has stolen eleven bases in 13 attempts, while Stockholm has stolen one in only two attempts this year.
Stockholm also leads Karlskoga pitching-wise in the head-to-head series, posting a 3.63 ERA over the four games compared to 6.95 for Karlskoga.
Looking at individual players, the two teams seem evenly matched as far as batting is concerned. Karlskoga has Dennis Kelly (.521 Ave / .848 Slg / .567 OBA) and Adam Sowell (.392 / .625 / .441) as their top names, and Stockholm counters with Magnus Pilegard (.481 / .736 / .528) and Peter Johannesen (.375 / .661 / .455). Dennis and Peter both occupy the leadoff spot for their teams, and can hit for both average and power, and have excellent base-running skills to boot. Magnus Pilegard and Adam Sowell both hit in the third spot in the lineup, Magnus having 44 RBIs this season and Adam 38.
How Dennis Kelly fares compared to Peter Johannesen, and Adam Sowell compared to Magnus Pilegard will have a great impact on the finals.
On the pitching side Stockholm’s Joakim Claesson (7-2, 1.76 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) has surpassed Karlskoga’s Adam Sowell (6 -2, 2.60, 1.13) this season, leading the league in most pitching categories. Kent Karlsson (10-2, 3.61, 1.31) has the most wins for Karlskoga this season, and is very solid as the no. two starter for the reigning champions. Stockholm counters with Tom Gillespie (1-0, 4.22, 1.41), who joined the team late in the season and have only pitched in three games so far. Tom Gillespie is expected to be pitching against Adam Sowell, while Joakim Claesson goes head-to-head with Kent Karlsson.
If the series goes down to a fifth game, Karlskoga will probably start with Ronny Frid (1-0, 6.75, 1.50) or Sami Säkkinen (2-4, 7.96, 1.74). Stockholm has by far the deepest pitching in Sweden, and could start with Niklas Eriksson (4-2, 3.42, 1.48), Magnus Pilegard (1-1, 4.36, 1.45), Jacob Claesson (2-3, 5.44, 1.86) or Oscar Carlstedt (3-2, 5.56, 1.63).
Karlskoga has the slightest of advantages in hitting, and the advantage of having a fifth and deciding game at home. Stockholm holds an advantage in pitching depth, while catching and starting pitching seems evenly matched. Based on the head-to-head games earlier this year, and the pitching depth of the two teams I put my neck on the line and predict Stockholm as Champions in five games.
15:00 Stockholm – Karlskoga
12:00 Stockholm – Karlskoga
11:00 Karlskoga – Stockholm
14:00 Karlskoga – Stockholm*
12:00 Karlskoga – Stockholm*
* if necessary