Wednesday, November 21, 2012

APBA Tournament: Ruth Bracket Preview (Part 1)

The Ruth Bracket, named after the "Great Bambino" Babe Ruth, will actually consist of Ruth and the 1927 New York Yankees, the #1 overall team in the entire tournament, and top-seed in the bracket. The 27' Yankees are considered among nearly all baseball fans as the greatest team of all-time, with hardly any argument... so it was a no-brainer!

Let's look at the match-ups for the Ruth Bracket.


Opposing pitchers' worst nightmare: Ruth and Gehrig.

1927 New York Yankees (1)
1944 St. Louis Browns (16)

The good news for the St.Louis Browns, that the pain will come quick and easy! There is really no chance for this World War II team that had success during the war, in which many of the team's superstars were out serving the country. This Browns team would go on to lose the 1944 World Series to the 44' Cardinals in the first all St.Louis series, labeled the "Streetcar Series" -- It was also the first series in which all the games of the World Series was played west of the Mississippi River. The team is led by it's only legitimate star in Vern Stephens, a 23-year-old who, with 20 homers and 109 RBI, was the best power-hitting shortstop in all of baseball.

The 1927 New York Yankees, on the other hand are loaded, led by Babe Ruth's 60 HRs, and a 110-44 record to sport (compared to St.Louis's 1944 record of 89-65 record!). Lou Gehrig turned in one of the greatest years of his career with an astounding 117 extra-base hits: 52 doubles, 18 triples & 47 homeruns! The team also had stars Tony Lazzeri, Bob Meusel, and Earle Combs with a pitching staff that had consistent, productive hurlers even though they didn't sport any superstars. The team's only weakness may be it's bullpen, in which Wilcy Moore (APBA Grade: A-YZ) will get the nod for the closer job.

PREDICTION: The Yankees will sweep the St.Louis Browns, it would be a complete shocker if the Browns are even able to get a victory in this series.

Jeff Bagwell and the "Killer B's" face off against Arizona.

1998 Houston Astros (8)
1999 Arizona Diamondbacks (9)

Why the 1999 Arizona D-Backs, and not the World Champion 2001 version? That was my question as well, the deal is that APBA Baseball decided to make the 1999 D-Backs as a representative of their Greatest Teams of the Past, Vol.3 (Maybe we'll see the 2001 team in the Vol.4, if they get around to it).

I had a tough decision where to rank these two ball-clubs, I placed them in the middle of the list of 64 teams. They have high OPS's for ball-clubs, due to the fact they played during a period of OPS's (The "Steroid Era"), part of me is regretting not having them in a different area of the lists, because I think either one of these teams may be a tougher second-round team than they should be to face the highly-probable 27' Yankees. The Yankees in 27' are from an era, where bullpens aren't really the forte of the league, in which these two ball-clubs come from an era, where bullpens are everything; in which roles are clearly defined. I'm pretty sure that the Yankees will hold up against either one -- we'll see what happens when one of these teams move on to the second round.

Arizona would go on to win their division and 100 games (in only it's second year of existence) while the Houston Astros would win their division in 98' with 102 games. The D-Backs sported a .806 OPS to Houston's .792.; the Yankees of 1927's OPS was .872!

PREDICTION: This could be a toss-up, and likely will go all 5 games. Houston had the edge on the list, ranking #32 to Arizona's #33, but Arizona has the most dangerous ace in "The Big Unit" Randy Johnson, oh wait! So does the 98' Astros.... interesting.

The 86' Mets look to bring their magic to the tourney!

1986 New York Mets (5)
1967 St. Louis Cardinals (12)

The 1986 New York Mets carried a lot of swagger and won 108 games, they are very well-balanced team that makes the most out of their offense, a scrappy team, led by a solid rotation (a team ERA of 3.11) and a good reliable bullpen. They will face off against the 1967 St.Louis Cardinals, who had a similar team ERA of 3.05, but a more unreliable offense (.704 OPS to New York's .742), plus the Mets had more HRs and stolen bases, while the Mets had a far more superior run differential (205 to 138). The Cards offense is led by 67' N.L. Most Valuable Player - Orlando Cepeda (.325 AVG, 25 HR & 11 RBI) and Lou Brock, while their rotation was led by Steve Carlton and Bob Gibson. The Mets are led by a cast of colorful characters, including young phenoms Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry.

Bob Gibson vs. Dwight Gooden, could become quite the dream match-up!

PREDICTION: This will be a close one, but I'm going to go with the Mets in five. The Mets get a little more out of their infield and overall lineup. The Mets also have some interesting interweaving pieces in players like Howard Johnson and Kevin Mitchell, who are just starting to show glimpses of their promising production.

McGraw will not be able to refuse playing L.A.

1904 New York Giants (4)
1962 Los Angeles Dodgers (13)

Both teams in a weird sense are non-playoff teams. The 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers lost a "tie-breaker" playoff series to the San Francisco Giants, 2 games-to-1 that determined the National League Pennant, while the 1904 New York Giants won the National League, but due to Manager John McGraw and their owner John T. Brush, they refused to play the American League Champion Boston Americans, expressing that the A.L. (the Junior Circuit) was the inferior league. Both franchises have a long rivalry while both were in New York, and now are in California. Plus both of these two teams are anchored by a two-headed monster in their starting rotations; the Giants have Christy Mathewson and Joe McGinnity, while the Dodgers have Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax -- both teams' #3 and #4 starting pitchers drop off considerably compared to their top 2 starters.

The difference between these clubs may be that one team (the Giants) are from the "Deadball Era" while the Dodgers are from the "Expansion Era". 

PREDICTION: With the Dodgers' ERA of 3.62, compared to the Giants 2.17 -- the Dodgers can only hope they can get to Mathewson & McGinnity early in the series to make it a series. The Dodgers offense isn't one to marvel at, but excels over the dead-ball Giants lineup -- for example, the Dodgers' Frank Howard alone matches the Giants team total of 31 HRs. The Giants' two-headed monster with it's speed and execution should win this series, 3-1.

*** To be continued / Part 2 of the Ruth Bracket Preview ***

The APBA Tournament of Champions: PREVIEW

Fans gather outside Old Comiskey Park to buy tickets for the Tournament of Champions.

So I am playing APBA Baseball with 64 great teams of the past, and decided to start a tournament, to find out who is actually the best of the best? I did my analysis and rankings, and then filled up the brackets in the form of the NCAA Basketball tournament.

From the first round until the Final Four, the tournament match-ups will be a best-of-five series, with the team with the best ranking hosting Games 1 & 2, and Game 5, if necessary. The lower ranking team would host Game 3 & Game 4, if necessary. Once in the Final Four, the team with the best ranking will be hosting Games 1 & 2, and Games 6 & 7, if necessary. In the circumstances, the teams in the Final Four have the same ranking from their individual brackets, the team with the better overall ranking on the list that helped determine the brackets will get home-field advantage.

I named the brackets after four of the game's greatest players: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Hank Aaron.

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