A Look at the Australian Baseball League As the Final Weekend Approaches

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

The 2024 Australian Baseball League regular season is nearing its end, and the top four teams qualify for the best-of-three preliminary finals series.  

Heading into round 10, the Adelaide Giants sit atop the standings, three games ahead of the second-place Brisbane Bandits. The Bandits and Giants will play a four-game series from January 18-21 to determine which organization finishes the season in first place. Adelaide must win just one game out of four in the series to ensure a first-place finish.  

Perth’s Tim Kennelly Becomes All-Time ABL Home Run Leader – Outfielder Tim Kennelly of the Perth Heat has reached legendary status in the ABL, smashing the 61st home run of his career in a 9-2 win on Jan. 13 against the Melbourne Aces.  

The dinger left him the all-time ABL home run record-holder, solidifying an already impressive career in Australia. The 37-year-old began his ABL career during the 2010-11 season and has spent his whole career with the Perth Heat. Kennelly is first all-time in ABL appearances, hits, RBI, and home runs.  

With the home run, Kennelly surpassed former Major League Baseball infielder Luke Hughes, who played 10 seasons in the ABL, mainly with the Perth Heat.  

Former Canberra Cavalry Pitcher Shota Imanga Signs With Cubs – Japanese starting pitcher Shota Imanaga is widely known for the talent he displayed with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in Nippon Professional Baseball. Still, he has taken his talents to the north side of Chicago, signing a four-year pact with the Cubs.  

However, many fans of Imanga may have yet to learn he pitched six games in the ABL with the Canberra Cavalry during the 2018-19 season. Imanaga went 4-0, posting a 0.51 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 35 innings. He allowed just 14 hits.  

“Imanga came to Canberra to perfect his skills and pitching, and in the process, he had probably the best season in ABL history,” Imanga’s Cavalry teammate Steve Kent told SpoTVNews.  

Imanga returned to the Yokohama DeNA BayStars and lowered his ERA from 6.80 the previous NPB season to 2.91 in 2019. He may have gained confidence playing baseball outside of his home country.  

Top Performers in Round 9  

Greg Bird, 1B, Melbourne Aces – The former New York Yankees first baseman continues to rake and leads the ABL with 10 home runs and 36 RBI.  

Bird hit his 10th home run of the season on January 12, a three-run blast in a 10-7 win against the Perth Heat.  

Lachlan Wells, P, Adelaide Giants – After signing a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, Wells delivered a stellar performance for the Giants on January 10.  

In a 4-0 win against the Sydney Blue Sox, Wells struck out 14 and allowed just two hits in six innings. He has a remarkable 0.63 ERA and 60 strikeouts in eight starts this season for Adelaide.  

Odalys Peguero, 2B, Perth Heat – Peguero hit his first home run of the ABL season on January 12 against the Melbourne Aces. The two-run blast helped the Heat secure a 9-2 win.  

The Tampa Bay Rays farmhand is hitting .278 with 13 RBI and a .691 OPS this ABL season.  

Round 10 Matchups (Jan. 18-21)  
Jan. 18-21 – Canberra Cavalry (11-25) vs. Melbourne Aces (19-18) 
Jan. 18-21 – Adelaide Giants (25-11) vs. Brisbane Bandits (22-14)  
Jan. 19-21 – Perth Heat (20-15) vs. Sydney Blue Sox (11-25)  

Best-of-Three Preliminary Finals Series (Jan. 26-28)  
No. 1 Seed vs. No. 4 Seed (No. 1 Seed Hosts All Three Games)  
No. 2 Seed vs. No. 3 Seed (No. 2 Seed Hosts All Three Games)  

Best-of-Three Championship Series (February 2-4)  
Higher Seed Hosts Two Out of Possible Three Games  

Current Standings as of January 18 
1. Adelaide Giants – 25-11 (0.0 GB)  
2. Brisbane Bandits – 22-14 (3.0 GB)  
3. Perth Heat – 20-15 (4.5 GB) 
4. Melbourne Aces – 19-18 (6.5 GB)  
5. Sydney Blue Sox – 11-25 (14.0 GB)  
6. Canberra Cavalry – 11-25 (14.5 GB)  

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