1996-1997 Australian Baseball League
The 1996-1997 season of the Australian Baseball League was the league's 7th year in existance.
The only All-Stars on the champion Perth Heat were DH Greg Jelks (who hit .375 and slugged .674, finishing third in average) and OF Clayton Byrne (.316, .592 SLG). Robbie Wells (6-1, 1 Sv, 2.36) finished third in ERA, but Perth won primarily with a balanced team on both sides. 7 errors in the final game by their opponents, the Brisbane Bandits, proved most beneficial. Brisbane was guided by David Nilsson, making his managerial debut. As a player, Nilsson missed much of the year after knee surgery. He came on strong after his return, going 4 for 4 with a double and homer in his first game back.
Brisbane was led by All-Star OF Grant McDonald (.354) and All-Star 3B Paul Gonzalez (.323, 15 HR).
Other notable performers included Adelaide Giants All-Star 2B and MVP Andrew Scott, who won the batting title (.414), Adelaide 1B Craig Watts (a league-leading 17 doubles, a league-record 8 RBI in a game and a league-record two grand slams in two consecutive plate appearances), Adelaide P Shayne Bennett (7-1, a league-best 2.06 ERA), Sydney Blues All-Star OF Brendan Kingman (a league-high 21 homers) and OF Rich Butler (58 runs, the most) and Melbourne Monarchs P Kevin Millwood (8-5, 3.44, the pitcher of the year winner).
- Perth Heat, 40-20
- Adelaide Giants, 36-23
- Brisbane Bandits, 33-27
- Sydney Blues, 32-27
- Gold Coast Cougars, 31-29
- Melbourne Monarchs, 28-29
- Hunter Eagles, 18-40
- Melbourne Reds, 17-41
Playoffs: Perth def. Sydney, 2 games to 0. Brisbane def. Adelaide, 2 games to 1. Perth def. Brisbane, 2 games to 1.
Sources: Flintoff and Dunn, 1998 Baseball Almanac
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