Melbourne Aces

From BR Bullpen

The Melbourne Aces represented Melbourne, Victoria in the Australian Baseball League when it was re-established in 2010-2011.

Players have included Adam Blackley, Travis Blackley, Bubbie Buzachero, Josh Davies, Justin Huber, Luke Hughes, Andrew Mann, Peter Moylan and Kevin Reese.

The Aces started life in the ABL at the Melbourne Showgrounds, and in their first season they were 18-21 under skipper Phil Dale. Despite playing below .500 they made the ABL playoffs due to the generous four of six team qualification but were swept in two games by the Adelaide Bite. Aces squad members to be named Player of the Week were Yoshiyuki Kamei (week five and six) and pitcher Adam Blackley (week five and six).

Melbourne were again under .500 in their second season, finishing 21-24 - but in a competition dominated by the 34-11 Perth Heat the mark was good enough for second in the league - albeit 13 games behind Perth. The Aces played Perth for the right to advance straight to the championship game and lost the series 3-1. They then faced the Sydney Blue Sox for a spot in the final. The Aces won 3-2, but fell 2-1 to Perth in the best-of-three title match. Brad Harman was the league leading home run hitter with 15, and Elliot Biddle led the league in RBI with 42. Player of the Week winners were John Edwards (week 4), Biddle (week 10) and pitchers Nic Ungs (week three) and Yusei Kikuchi (week five)

In the third year of the competition the Aces moved to a new stadium - Melbourne Ballpark but collapsed to a last placed 15-31 finish, a full 12 games behind league leaders Canberra Cavalry and six games behind the second last Adelaide Bite. Despite their last place, the Aces had several player of the week nominees. For position players Elliot Biddle in week two and Carlo Testa in week three. Pitcher Adam Bright was named the league's best in week 10.

Dale's team was 22-24 and 4th place in 2013-2014, despite MVP Ryan Casteel, who led the league in average (.343), slugging (.614) and home runs (11). In 2014-2015, Tommy Thompson took the reins and the team fell back to last at 15-31. They again had the homer leader as Kellin Deglan smacked 16. In 2015-2016, Joe Vavra was the new skipper and they improved to 20-35 but were still last.

2016-2017 marked a big turnaround. Under Jon Deeble's management, they were 26-14 and won the regular season but fell in the finals. Mark Hamburger won a pitching Triple Crown and Mike Walker led in walks (28) while tying for the most homers. In 2017-2018, they were 17-23 while Josh Tols whiffed a league-best 75. They flipped the record to 23-17 in 2018-2019; D.J. Burt led with 18 steals while Luke Hughes was named the All-Star first baseman.

Melbourne claimed their first title in 2019-2020. After another 23-17 regular season, Deeble's team swept the Auckland Tuatara and Adelaide in back-to-back best-of-three series to win the crown. Colin Willis led the league in average (.427), OBP (.520), OPS (1132) and runs (32) while Delmon Young led in slugging (.662), homers (13), RBI (42) and total bases (98). In the finals, Shane Robinson joined fellow former major leaguer Young in a starring role while Moylan, Hughes and Allan de San Miguel all retired on a high note.

De San Miguel took over the managing in 2020-2021 and the team was even better at 19-9 and winning a second title. Young won the batting title, Blake Gailen led in homers, Darryl George led in runs, hits and RBI, Brian Flynn led in ERA, Drew Anderson led in saves and Gunnar Kines led in wins. Tyler Beardsley was finals MVP.