Tuesday, July 17, 2018

When Appy Met Outy

Joss is very much alive in 2014.
You all know 'When Harry Met Sally', now here comes the new romance... 'When Appy Met Outy', a cosmic reaction when you combine my love for APBA Baseball and Out of the Park 18, the results are literally out of this world.

For Out of the Park 18, I have been starting an alternate reality that starts with the 1901 MLB Season. I have also placed the teams in a two-division format for each league. OOTP is also working its development engine, which will make nobodies into somebodies, while some stars of the past may not live up to their real-life counterparts.

I am currently about to start the 1914 MLB Season, the Boston Braves' Addie Joss just led the league with 36 games started...

It's just games started what's the big deal, you ask?

The answer is the simple fact that Addie Joss pitched another game, he passed away far too early in 1911, at the early age of 31 (just two days after his birthday) -- falling victim to Meningitis. Through this project, he has played three & a half full seasons beyond where he left off in 1910.

Addie's numbers are not as special in this project with a career ERA of 3.34 & 1.33 WHIP, while his 160 wins are even with his real-life career total... this is all due to play for a perennial loser like the Boston Beaneaters/Braves. This Boston franchise found itself in the cellar of the N.L. East for four years straight, finishing no better than 53-87 (1902).

Their forutunes briefly started changing in late 1904, landing the #1 overall pick while drafting "The Georgia Peach, Ty Cobb. Cobb joined a team that has been piling up picks, such as Sherry Magee (#1 Overall pick - 1903).

Cobb would go on to win the 1905 A.L. Rookie-of-the-Year Award, helping his Boston Beaneaters reach the 1905 World Series, only to lose to Jack Chesbro, Mike Donlin, Roger Bresnahan & the New York Highlanders. The Highlanders would become the league's real first dynasty, winning the American League Pennant five consecutive years from 1904-1908.... what is more impressive, is you have got to remember there is League Championship Series due to the two-division format in place... which means they had to play a series to get to the fall classic.

The Highlanders only won it all during those first two years of that five-year stretch (becoming the first team to ever repeat). During the 1906 season, the Yanks would run into another dynasty-on-the-rise, their city rivals in the New York Giants. The Giants led by Christy Mathewson, would become the first franchise to win three World Championships (1906, 1909 & 1913).

By the way, the Highlanders also owned the record for 7 consecutive postseason berths.

Now that's a 'Monster Card'
Let's all go back to 1901, the year the league started. Nap Lajoie would have a monster season for the Philadelphia Athletics (like he did in real-life 1901), leading the league with a .444 batting average & 240 hits (two marks that will be tough to repeat), while also leading the league in homer runs (20), Slugging (.686), On-Base Percentage (.483) & OPS (1.169).

Lajoie in many ways was the league's first superstar, he would retire with 5 batting titles under his belt (winning 5 in a 6-year span) to go along with his three A.L. MVP Awards (1901, 1905 & 1906). He also finished his career with a .346 batting average & 2,828 hits to go with his 90 career HR.

The Milwaukee Brewers would win the first fall classic in 1901 by defeating the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals (led by Jesse Burkett, Bobby Wallace & Emmet Heidrick) had an impressive run from 1901-1904, reaching the playoffs three times during that span, those teams (and others like them) a decade later are now often overlooked.

The Pittsburgh Pirates who dominated the National League in real-life from 1901 to 1903, while also putting out strong teams throughout the 1900-1909 decade, have found themselves on the wrong side of history. The Pirates have not been able to succeed, yet have come close to so many times, possibly becoming this decade's biggest choke artist. The Pirates would lose their division in its last few days during the 1902 season, but the worst was yet to come...

Late in 1903, the Pirates had a 9-game lead with 9 games to go, and they would lose all of them, as the defending World Champion Cincinnati Reds would force a one-game playoff... the Reds would complete their amazing climb by winning the N.L. West the next day over Pittsburgh. The Reds' new found momentum would eventually fall short to the eventual 1904 N.L. Champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Pirates would only reach the postseason once (1906) between 1901-1913... a far cry from reality. The team often falls short of expectations, according the OOTP statistical engines, the team has lost 32 games more than it should have from 1901-1911.

The Philadelphia Phillies (79-61) won the 1902 World Series over the Detroit Tigers. The team was a memorable bunch led by Ed Delahanty (.371, 10 HR, 79 RBI / 1.022 OPS), Elmer Flick (.343, 6, 62, plus 33 steals), Hughie Jennings & Harry Wolverton (.306 BA & 177 hits), while the team is one of history's strongest champs to date.

The Cincinnati Reds have reached the postseason five times. They had a strong period from 1901 to 1905, reaching the postseason twice & winning it all in 1903. They would go away for a few years until 1911, returning to the postseason for the first time since 1905, while they have been in the postseason now three years straight.

What has not changed all those years for Cincy is two consistent studs in outfielder Sam Crawford and starting pitcher Noodles Hahn. Crawford is a career .321 hitter with 2,030 hits and 103 homers, while posting a .867 OPS; Hahn has 272 wins & 2,148 strikeouts during his career, while sporting a lifetime 2.41 ERA. It should be noted that Hahn in real-life only reached 130 career wins.

It's odd to see Sam Crawford and Ty Cobb in different uniforms other than playing together while wearing the old english D... but it has not been bad for the Tigers.

The team was never loaded with superstars between 1901 and 1908. The team during that span would finish first (twice), second (four times) & third (twice)... this all before I officially was named General Manager & Manager in late 1908. Kid Elberfeld in the early years was the closest thing to a superstar for the team, with his best season being in 1902 as he won the A.L. MVP while leading the Detroit Tigers to the 1902 World Series; He batted .345 with 8 HR, 80 RBI, to go along with his .926 OPS & 27 stolen bases.

Other fan favorites included Kid Nance, Sport McAllister, Doc Smoot, Ed Siever & Jack Cronin. Cronin would overachieve and win the hearts of Tiger fans as he would set the franchise record for 141 career wins on the mound (winning nearly 100 games more than his 43 real-life victories); Cronin was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in June of 2011, marking the end of his career.

Shoeless wearing different pair of Sox.
Elberfeld was so popular that the fans nearly stormed my office after trading him to the Chicago Cubs prior to the 1910 MLB Season for a prospect.

Out of the 16 teams, you would never guess who has yet to make the playoffs thirteen years in... The Boston Red Sox, which is completely different from their real-life counterparts who did really well until selling Babe Ruth to the Yankees. In this realm, the Red Sox have a combined 853-967 record (.469), they reached 2nd only three times during this span, while their best record was a 75-65 season back in 1902. The team has had Shoeless Joe Jackson (Drafted #1 Overall / 1907) since the 1908 season & yet they still yearn for a playoff berth. Shoeless (.395, 1 HR, 97 RBI & 58 SB/1.024 OPS* & 210 hits*) would win the 2012 A.L. MVP Award while playing for a last place team.

Meanwhile, the other team in Boston, Cobb's days for the Beaneaters went from great to bad. Here is his accomplishments...

  • Cobb was drafted #1 Overall by the Boston Beaneaters (1904 MLB Draft)
  • Won the 1905 N.L. Rookie-of-the-Year Award (.309 BA, 2 HR, 60 RBI & 38 SB), while leading Boston to a National League Pennant
  • Won the 1906 N.L. Most Valuable Player Award.
  • Won 1st Batting Title (1906 N.L.) with .377 batting average, while leading league with 188 hits, OBP, SLG & OPS (.948).
  • Won the 1907 N.L. Most Valuable Player Award, while leading Boston to a World Championship over the Highlanders.
  • Won 2nd Batting Title (1907 N.L.) with .373 batting average.
  • Won the 1907 N.L. Triple Crown (.373, 8 HR & 80 RBI), he also lead the league in doubles, OBP, SLG & OPS (.967).
  • Won a Gold Glove for CF (1907 N.L.)
... now the bad...
  • Cobb was batting .320 with 3 HR & 39 RBI, while his OPS (.851) is down more than a point 66 games into the season. Cobb was dealing with some back issues early in the season, but would suffer a serious injury, diagnosed with a torn labrum on July 6th, 1908 & would miss 9 months (remainder of 1908 MLB Season).
  • January 22, 1909 -- Suffered setback in recovery & will have to require surgery, missing an additional 12 months! Cobb would miss the entire 1909 MLB Season, the Beaneaters actually finished 2nd in both the 1908 & 1909 seasons.
Will Ty Cobb be the same in his return to Boston for the upcoming 2010 season? 
You will have to wait and see.


By the way, I am making APBA cards for the league champions of each league, while eventually I will do a tournament with those teams...

I know, it's the mad-APBA scientist in me, I just can't help myself.

Friday, July 6, 2018

New Adventure

Team Captain Jose Altuve leads the way.
Hello, readers!

I know it's been a little while, as you all know in my recent posts, I have been trying to catch up my April stats from my 2018 MLB Projections Season. That process has been momentarily delayed due to some exciting news.

I finally have joined a mail-in APBA league! I have been looking forward to doing something like this for some time. The name of the league is the Ultimate APBA League (UAL), which consists of 24 teams, while the league also works under a salary cap using the real-life MLB salaries... which brings a nice owner aspect to the league. The guys from the league seem really nice, and I could not be any happier at the moment.

I will be taking over a team that was named the Shenango Valley Showboats, which turns out was managed by my friend Ken Schulz. Schulz hosts the Pittsburgh APBA tournament (Linda B. Schulz Memorial APBA Baseball Tournament), we have also competed together at the Greater Michigan & Chicagoland APBA tournaments.

I don't have a team mascot yet, I will likely not be going with the Traverse City Panthers or Traverse City Tigers (as I have with past & current leagues) due to the fact that some UAL Managers already have those mascot names. I have been bouncing around some names with the wife for some feedback, but have yet to settle on one yet.

The team itself is a playoff contender for this upcoming season (which starts in October) and is based off the 2017 MLB Season stats & 2017 APBA Season Cards. My team has a solid lineup and reliable rotation, to go along with an excellent bullpen.

Here is my probable starting lineup...

  1.  Jean Segura - SS(8) (.300, 11 HR, 45 RBI & 22 SB / .776 OPS)
  2.  Buster Posey - C(8) (.320, 12 HR, 67 RBI & 6 SB / .861 OPS)
  3.  Jose Altuve - 2B(8) (.346, 24 HR, 81 RBI & 32 SB / .957 OPS)
  4.  Justin Bour - 1B(4) (.289, 25 HR, 83 RBI & 1 SB / .902 OPS)
  5.  Marwin Gonzalez - 3B(3) (.303, 23 HR, 90 RBI & 8 SB / .907 OPS)
  6.  Domingo Santana - DH (.278, 30 HR, 85 RBI & 15 SB / .875 OPS)
  7.  Yoenis Cespedes - LF(2) (.292, 17 HR, 42 RBI / .892 OPS)
  8.  Gerardo Parra - RF(3) (.309, 10 HR, 71 RBI & 2 SB / .793 OPS)
  9.  Jarrod Dyson - CF(3) (.251, 5 HR, 30 RBI & 28 SB / .674 OPS)
I have a few guys here that will not always start due to limited time on the field, such as Yoenis Cespedes & Justin Bour. The good news is that I have plenty of players who can play multiple positions. 

I will start Caleb Joseph from time-to-time at catcher, while Buster Posey will play first. Marwin Gonzalez & Gerardo Parra each can play at first as well. Other than Gonzalez starting at third, I will also have him play in the outfield since the team is a little short on outfield depth... a need that I will have to address.

For the times I don't have Gonzalez starting at third, I will have Ronald Torreyes (Grade 4 at third) who will bring an upgrade on defense, his batting average is pretty good at .292, while he has little power.

My rotation will be as follows (the order not 100% decided)...
  1.  Rich Hill - B(1)-XY     12-8, 3.32 ERA, 166 K / 49 BB - 136 IP (1.091 WHIP)
  2.  Jimmy Nelson - B(1)-XZ     12-6, 3.49 ERA, 199 K / 48 BB - 175 IP (1.249 WHIP)
  3.  Taijuan Walker - B(1)-Y     9-9, 3.49 ERA, 146 K / 61 BB - 157 IP (1.328 WHIP)
  4.  Jeff Samardzija - C(2)-XZ     9-15, 4.42 ERA, 205 K / 32 BB - 208 IP (1.136 WHIP)
  5.  Yu Darvish - C(2)-X     10-12, 3.86 ERA, 209 K / 58 BB - 187 IP (1.163 WHIP)
I also have Josh Tomlin C(2)-ZZ, Jon Gray C(1)-XZ & R.A. Dickey C(2). Tomlin will likely be a spot starter & long reliever for me this season, Gray may work out of the pen in mop-up situations, while Dickey will not see opening day... especially with his $7.5 million price tag. 

Dickey could be valuable to another team looking for a C starter, especially one that has 238 innings to work with.

The bullpen is really strong, and going to play a significant role in this team's 2018 success, the bullpen is as follows...
  • Matt Belisle - C*(2)-YZ     60 IP
  • Chris Rusin - B*(2)-YZ     85 IP
  • Dan Otero - B*(1)-ZZ     60 IP
  • Donnie Hart - B*(2)-Z     43 IP
  • Bryan Shaw - B*(1)-XZ     76 IP
  • Andrew Miller - A&C*(2)-K     62 IP
  • Ken Giles - A*(1)-K     62 IP
Bryan Shaw (7th inning) and Andrew Miller (8th inning) are the set-up men for the closer Ken Giles. This doesn't always mean that this will be the case, when I am at home, I may go with whatever situation that presents itself... meaning, if the opponent's 7-9 hitters are coming up during the 8th inning, I may go with Giles to face the weaker part of the lineup & leave the top-half in the 9th for Miller; Shaw may close some games as well.

You may have noticed that all my pitchers above had pretty-good to good 2017 seasons, but are doing horrible or are injured for significant time during the current 2018 MLB Season... believe me, this went unnoticed by me. I will have to make some really tough decisions to bring in some pitching come the 2019 UAL Season, but until then, we will have to wait.

I have a few guys that make me cringe when I look at their salary... Cespedes (like I mentioned above), Jeff Samardzija ($19.8 m), Yu Darvish ($11 m) & R.A. Dickey ($7.5 m). 

I don't have a 2018 UAL Rookie Draft Pick until pick #102, the team's first 4 round picks were traded to bring in some of the current pitching staff. I was a little relieved to be honest, because I just got hired in, and the draft starts Monday... this will give me a few more days at least to get situation, and then I will see if I can finds some gems in the late-round dirt.

I don't plan to do any major moves (trades) during the UAL Rookie or Waiver Drafts, but if it comes down to adding some OF depth or some 2019 pitching, I won't be against making such a move, I do have an extra C starter to trade with. My 2019 UAL Rookie picks will not be touched, I will need every one of those picks, to help my team in 2019. 

One thing is for certain, I am looking forward to this new adventure!


*** 2018 MLB Projections Season Update -- Coming Soon! ***

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Some Interesting Stats from 'Projections'.


The Evil Empire Ascends

The dreaded New York Yankees, they have been so good, the rest of the league is looking at them as if they actually have a death star attached to them.
22 Games in, they are 17-5.
On offense the lineup is raking (as expected), led by Didi Gregorius who leads the entire league with 11 HR (unexpected), while batting .326 with 22 ribbies.
Masahiro Tanaka has pitched above his Grade C-XZ... He is a perfect 5-0, 1.29 ERA with 34 K's (1.029 WHIP) in 35 innings, including a shutout. The rotation has 4 complete games, including a Jordan Montgomery no-hitter.
The team's pitching has a 2.28 ERA, but the more amazing stat comes from its bullpen... 5 earned runs allowed in 45.1 innings, making it a 0.99 bullpen ERA!

Two Sides to a Coin

The Kansas City Royals' Ian Kennedy has two key stats, one of them good, the other bad, but I found interesting to say at the very least.
Kennedy has struck out 30 batters in only 20.1 innings (13.28 K per 9 innings) which is good.... while on the other side, he has allowed 19 earned runs (8.41 ERA) & 32 hits in that span... which is bad! To top it all off, his WHIP stands at 1.967... yikes! That's two base-runners per inning.


When Grades Don't Matter...

Entering April 20th during my 2018 MLB Projections season, the Colorado Rockies have 3 Grade C& below starters that are pitching well-above their grade. All have pitched 4 games...
Jon Gray: 2-1, 1.80 ERA, 25 K / 8 BB in 25 IP.
Kyle Freeland: 3-0, 0.95 ERA, 21 K / 10 BB with 2 complete games & a shutout in 28.1 innings.
Tyler Anderson: 3-0, 2.95 ERA, 20 K & 7 BB in 18.3 IP.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

1994 Regular Season Finish (Atlanta Braves)


For those that have been following, the 1994 Atlanta Braves Season takes place in an alternate world where expansion never happened in 1993. These alternate realities are brought to you by Out of the Park Baseball 18.

My Atlanta Braves keep getting hurt at the most unfortunate times, Ron Gant who has already been on the disabled list two times prior is lost for the season with a sprained ankle & will miss 6 weeks. I really put all my eggs in the basket for this season, falling short of a World Championship will be devastating.

Plus I am not sure how long I will be able to keep the current roster together, I may have to free up some money this off-season & I will definitely not being going after major upgrades.

The Braves once again won the N.L. West (for a 4th consecutive season) with a 103-59 record, 16 games over the 87-75 Los Angeles Dodgers. The Houston Astros, the team that was the favorite to possibly knock the Braves off their division pedestal (entering this season) fell short of expectations, falling to 4th place at 82-80.

The Montreal Expos (103-59), the defending champs, once again won the N.L. East, winning the division over the Barry Bonds-led Pittsburgh Pirates (98-64); Bonds resigned with Pittsburgh prior to 1994, signing a 6-year deal worth $24 million with a player option to opt out after the 1995 season. Bonds had a solid season, batting .317 with 46 HR, 108 RBI & 31 steals.

Pittsburgh's Orlando Merced won the N.L. Batting title with a .345 batting average, while Atlanta's Javy Lopez finished 2nd (.342) & San Diego's Wade Boggs (.341) finished 3rd.

David Justice cooled off after a red-hot start, finishing with a .280 batting average, 35 HR & 119 RBI, while his teammate Fred McGriff led the N.L with 48 HR & 144 RBI, making both totals near duplicates to his 1993 totals (48 HR & 142 RBI).

The National League favorite for Most Valuable Player may be outside of Atlanta in Montreal's Larry Walker, who had a well-rounded season & sat near the top of all the N.L. leader boards. Walker finished the 94' season, batting .338, 41 HR, 118 RBI (1.043 OPS) with 135 runs & 25 steals.... It should be noted he won last year's award.

The A.L. hitting leaders are dominated mostly by the Toronto Blue Jays...

Tony Gwynn (TOR) won his 5th career batting title, but first in the A.L., while batting .361... His teammate John Olerud finished 3rd (.350), while California's Gregg Jefferies (.354) finished 2nd.

Gwynn also led the league with 233 hits, while Olerud led the league with 55 doubles.

Toronto's Matt Williams led the league with 50 HR & 169 RBI, while topping the 400 total bases mark (401).

The Toronto Blue Jays (99-63) will be facing the defending A.L. Champion Oakland Athletics in the 1994 A.L, Championship Series.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Injuries Keep Rearing Its Ugly Head (1994 Braves)

Wohlers is the latest big injury for Braves.
Just a few days ago, I sent a post about my 1994 Atlanta Braves losing Tony Phillips for the season. The Braves decided not to make any trades at the deadline and pressed on with Ron Gant as the Braves' center fielder, then two days after Phillips' injury, Gant was placed on the 15-day disabled list for a sore elbow.

Matters continued to get worse for the Braves, as they lost John Smoltz for 5 weeks due to an oblique strain. The Braves will have to bump Steve Avery to the #3 slot, with Alan Benes bumped up to the #4 slot, while Pete Smith will come over from the pen & serve in the 5th slot. The Braves made a call to Triple-A Richmond, bringing up reliever John Kelly.

Then a few weeks later (Sept 6th) Ryan Klesko was placed on 15-day disabled list for a bruised collarbone. The Braves called up Tony Tarasco for outfield depth.

Then September 18th with Mark Wohlers lost for the season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament, he will be out 8-9 months. Roberto Hernandez will be moved back to closer role, with Mike Stanton & Mike Maddux as his setup men.

Then Deion Sanders on September 19th, fractured thumb out for 4
weeks.

Every time the team starts to roll, the team hits a snag of injuries, we'll see how this plays into their chances at a World Championship. The team is currently 94-49, and are about to clinch their division with a 19-game lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Their potential playoff opponent is between the N.L. East-leading Montreal Expos (91-51) and the Pittsburgh Pirates, who trail Montreal by 3 games. The Expos are the defending champs, who defeated the Oakland Athletics in the 1993 World Series.


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