Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Great Return of Gibson

The Crazy 48's had quite the match-up this past Saturday night, we had the 2001 Seattle Mariners (19-7) visiting Negro League titans, Pittsburgh Crawfords (19-7). It was Game 3 of the series, with Joel Pineiro (B-Y) getting his second start of the season, due to an injured Jamie Moyer. The Crawfords send up Roosevelt Davis (D-Y), in hopes that the offense can match wits with Seattle's great lineup.

The amazing factor was not the fact that two of the best teams were going head-to-head, but the fact that Josh Gibson of the Crawfords is FINALLY coming off the disabled list! This team struggled without Gibson in the lineup, 7-5 since, although it was nice to see Oscar Charleston finally step up, and play like Oscar Charleston! 

Due to the fact that I decided to change it from 162 games to 48 games for each team, and starting with Game #29, we will see nothing but division match-ups there on, out -- mean't that I decided to cut all the injuries that existed down 50% from their totals, this is why Gibson is finally back.

Seattle jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the 2nd, including an RBI double by David Bell. Popeye Harris' solo HR tied up the game, 3-3 in the bottom of the 3rd. During the top of the 5th, an RBI double & RBI triple by Mike Cameron, put Mariners on top, 5-3. Bottom of the 5th, Gibson & the Crawfords struck back with his RBI triple, scoring in Harris.

You just knew it was going to be one of those games that was going to go back-and-forth, or keep going from the get-go. Top of the 6th, with the Crawford's David Harvey now on the mound, Dan Wilson scores on a sac-fly by Ichiro Suzuki to take 6-5 lead over Pittsburgh. Bottom of the 6th, Norm Charlton came in for Seattle, got the first two guys retired (including Cool Papa Bell's 2nd K of the game), then Judy Johnson (0-for-2) draws a walk, Andrew "Pat" Patterson hit a single. With runners on first & third, with two outs, Harvey (who can hit for a pitcher) smacked a two-run double to take a 7-6 Crawfords lead, Jimmy Crutchfield followed with an RBI single.

Down 8-6, the Mariners' Mike Cameron hit a solo HR during the top of the 7th, off of the Crawfords' Harvey; Cameron at this point was 3-for-3, with a HR, triple & single, plus two stolen bases (and a caught stealing) with 2 runs -- he's a double away from the cycle, with plenty of game left. Bottom of the 7th, the Mariners' reliever Ryan Franklin does not allow a run to the Crawfords, to keep the M's a run within Pittsburgh. Top of the 8th, with one out, Franklin's spot comes up in the lineup, with Wilson on second with his lead-off double, Seattle calls on Edgar Martinez to come off the bench to pinch-hit against Harvey -- Harvey gives up a two-run HR over the center field wall!

With a 9-8 lead, and Franklin in position for the win, the Mariners call on their usual closer Kazuhiro Sasaki (7 Saves) to pitch the bottom of the 8th, while Arthur Rhodes (2 Saves) warms up in the bullpen, the M's want to close this one out. Sasaki is a APBA Grade B-XYZ, while Rhodes is a Grade A&C-KYZ. Sasaki, despite giving up two walks, gets through the inning scoreless.

The top of the ninth, the Mariners failed to add any insurance runs off Pittsburgh's D reliever Bertrum Hunter. Bottom of the ninth, Rhodes strikes out Gibson to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Gibson is now 2-for-5 (with an RBI triple) in his first game back. Oscar Robertson would follow the Gibson K with a double, Sam Bankhead would ground out to move Robertson up to third. With two outs, and the tying runner at 3rd, Papa Bell would smack a game-tying double off of Rhodes, who is not on top of his game. Judy Johnson would fly out to make the 3rd out, this one is going to extras.

Tied 9-9, the M's are letting Rhodes swing the bat, they will try to keep him in for a few innings -- he strikes out. Ichiro would fly out to make it, two quick outs. Mark McLemore would keep the inning alive with a single, which was happily answered by Bret Boone's RBI double -- Seattle leads 10-9! John Olerud grounds out for final out.

Rhodes is now in position to win the game (after blowing the save in the 9th), he will have to face Patterson, pitcher Hunter & the lead-off man, Crutchfield. Patterson leads off with a single, but that is followed by Hunter hitting into a force, as Seattle gets the lead runner. Crutchfield hits into a ground out moving Hunter up to second, two outs. Harris hits a single, but fails to move the runner to 3rd. All setting up the table for this, runners on 1st & 2nd, Josh Gibson steps up to the plate, Rhodes could intentionally walk him, but Robertson has been hot of late & has really taken advantage of clearing the bases whenever he can. Rhodes sets up & delivers, this one is smacked to left-center, McLemore is looking over his shoulder, Cameron is racing from center to help, this one lands, Gibson is racing around first, Hunter scores, Harris is racing around third, as Gibson races into second, there is going to be no play at home -- Harris scores, the Crawfords win! A walk-off double for Gibson, in his grand return from disabled list! You can't write this stuff! The fans at Greenlee Field are going nuts right now!

An 11-10 victory for Pittsburgh as they improve to 20-7, while the Mariners fall to 19-8 -- both teams remain in first place in their respective divisions. The M's hold a 2.5 game lead over the 1998 Atlanta Braves in the STARS IV "Bobby Cox" Division, while the Crawfords are 2.5 games up on the 1929 Chicago Cubs in the STARS I "Ruth" Division.

Game Notes

  • Sam Bankhead (PIT): 2-for-5, 3B, 2B, RBI & run.
  • Josh Gibson (PIT): 3-for-6, 2 RBI, 3B, walk-off double.
  • Popeye Harris (PIT): 3-for-6, HR, 3 RBI (RBI on each hit), with 3 runs.
  • David Harvey (PIT): The pitcher was 1-for-2 at the plate, a two-run double.
  • Mike Cameron (SEA): 3-for-4, HR, 3B (double short of cycle), 2 RBI, 2 SB (1 CS) & 2 runs.
  • Mark McLemore, Bret Boone, David Bell & Dan Wilson (of SEA): 2 hits each.
  • Ichiro Suzuki (SEA): 1-for-3, BB, HBP, Sac Fly & 2 steals.
  • No great pitching anywhere, a total of a combined 30 hits & 21 runs, while Seattle made an uncharacteristic two errors.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

We Are (APBA) Family

Thanks to Ken Schultz on the APBA Facebook Group -- I now own the 1979 APBA Baseball Set. The set of course features the World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates ("We Are Family") led by Willie "Pops" Stargell; It also features the American League Champion Baltimore Orioles, the California Angels, Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos (which Baseball critics have considered this Expos team, the best of the franchise), and other exciting teams such as the Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox & Kansas City Royals.

I decided to do a 1979 APBA Tournament to break the cards in, using the lineups (for most part) suggested by the yellow APBA sheet, with guidance by Baseball . The League Champions (of course) have the top seeds in each of their league brackets, while their LCS competition are the #2 seeds -- so basically the Pirates & Orioles are #1 in their brackets, with the Angels & Reds being #2 seeds in their respective brackets. The rest of the teams I ranked using Baseball Reference's Pythagorean Records.

The American League rankings (after Baltimore & California)
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. New York Yankees
6. Texas Rangers
7. Minnesota Twins
8. Detroit Tigers
9. Kansas City Royals
10. Chicago White Sox
11. Cleveland Indians
12. Seattle Mariners
13. Toronto Blue Jays
14. Oakland Athletics

The National League rankings (after Pittsburgh & Cincinnati)
3. Montreal Expos
4. St. Louis Cardinals
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
6. Houston Astros
7. Chicago Cubs
8. San Diego Padres
9. Philadelphia Phillies
10. San Francisco Giants
11. Atlanta Braves
12. New York Mets

Due to the style of the brackets & the National League having fewer teams, the #3 Expos & #4 St. Louis Cardinals have first-round byes with the Pirates & Reds; The American League only has byes for its top two teams. It's interesting in real-life the Royals (#9) finished only 3 games behind the Angels, but according to their Pythagorean records, the Texas Rangers & Minnesota Twins were better teams, even the Detroit Tigers (who finished 18 games behind the Orioles, in 5th place - A.L. East) was ranked higher at #8.

All the rounds up to a certain point are in Best-of-Three series. I felt one game was just not enough, plus going through the difficulty of when to pitch the ace, and how often, every game of tournament, every other? The best-of-three scenario I think will work for a top three starters setup. Games 1 (and a possible Game 3) are hosted by the higher ranked team, one day of travel set in-between, there may be a scenario where someone pitches their ace again for Game 3 of the first round series, but know this he won't be ready for Game 1 of the next series -- forcing to stick with the top three starters setup.

This will only take a few weeks - tops! Good practice for the upcoming Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament in March. I already have most of the first round played & will be reporting the results soon. I will be looking forward to meeting Ken Schultz & many others, including a member of my Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League in Robert Mosher, who is in numerous leagues, plus enjoys playing other APBA sports as well. I will meet many new faces, while reuniting with friends Rich Zawadzki and Doug Schuyler. My youngest brother Chris will also be attending the tournament, which will be a cool experience as well.

Back to the whole Family theme though, just like the Pittsburgh Pirates of 1979 were, I feel our APBA community is very much the same. We happen to look out for one another, help each other out on APBA issues, or help APBA fans sell their season sets to other fans who are willing to help take them off their hands, instead of dealing with many of the eBay sellers who want an arm & leg.

We enjoy getting together for tournaments, forming new friendships, chatting & debating on APBA Facebook Group to the point that we are brothers -- APBA brothers, so yes...

We are Family indeed, in this case... We are APBA Family!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Huge Slump for Brooks.

We all have witnessed crazy slumps in APBA Baseball, it never fails -- even on  great cards. My big slump is with Brooks Robinson of the 1969 Baltimore Orioles for my Crazy 48's League project. I am using BBW of late to try to speed up the season with the cards -- and even on computer, he can't break out of his slump.

With the cards, I have went 3-for-63! That is a lousy .048, yikes!

Now let me note that 1969 was certainly not his best season in the Majors that year -- in which he batted .234, 23 HR & 84 RBI (.693 OPS) at age 32. But something has to bounce his way, by the way, he has yet to hit a HR & has only one extra-base hit (a double).

His first game on BBW (against the 1944 St.Louis Browns, I must add), he went 0-for-4, he actually got his 2nd RBI of the season, only because the bases were loaded, and the fact that he was walked. Ellie Hendricks followed with a Grand Slam (he had 2 HR's that game). He has only been walked 4 times this year, and his average falls to .045, his On-Base Percentage is not much better at .060!

I think sometimes as a dice-roller, we tend to press while rolling the dice for guys who slump. I know I have had these discussions with my younger brother Chris on this topic, and he feels that is the same in that case -- that like batters in a slump, we tend to press while rolling for guys in a slump.

Andre Dawson, Willie McCovey, Rod Carew, Dave Winfield & Johnny Bench are guys that I have not generally rolled well with, regardless of the season or setup. Dawson, McCovey & Bench have had much better luck for me, as of late though -- so it goes to show, that things can surely change.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (March 7th)

Hello, everyone!

Just trying to get the news out on The Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament for my friend, Pastor Rich Zawadzki, who is hosting the event in Jackson, MI. The Team Selection Deadline is February 1st -- There are 28 teams already in the tournament, and there is still room for 4 teams, if you are interested or know someone that may be interested, spread the news folks!

I know that the Michigan/Detroit area is a hotbed for APBA Baseball action, so come on out! Not too many of these tournaments happen often (certainly not enough), especially big ones with many people involved like this.

I have had the privilege to play in a tournament like this in the past in the Chicagoland World Series Tournament in November 2013 & it's a blast! Playing the game you love, with other people that share the same passions -- It's a great way to start new friendships, and the thrill of facing someone face-to-face in a competition with history's greatest teams brings the players & teams back to life.

I will be going to this tournament that takes place March 7th in Jackson, MI -- I will be bringing "Shoeless Joe" Jackson & the 1917 Chicago White Sox to the tourney, hope to see you there!

I'll share the information that was posted on Facebook by Rich....



There may be more information I need to hunt down...

Here is a link to the Facebook page for the event, below...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Crusaders Report

The Traverse City Crusaders have three 1st Round Picks in this upcoming 2015 MWBL Draft (February 21st) for the Mid-West Baseball League -- including the most important pick of them all, the 1st Overall Pick.

I can honestly say at this moment, I have no clue who I am drafting for the top overall pick, I have a few ideas -- I do know that I will get a really good choice out of it, that's for sure. A lot has happened since I joined the league last January, and there has been many trades that have now shaped up the current roster. We are definitely still a few years away, and we do know it's not going to happen over night.

Do I question at times if I should have traded Miguel Cabrera or not? Sure...

I think everyone from time to time thinks about that one trade, the key is not to dwell on it, and have fun with the new path ahead of you. I think it was Billy Beane, who said you never think about the past once you move forward -- he made this remark after making the trade with the Cubs to acquire Jeff Samardzija and Dan Straily, a trade that watched Addison Russell go to Chicago. Beane always has to make moves to keep his team moving in one direction, I believe to get somewhere in a league, you have to be aggressive. Aggressive is definitely better than too cautious -- something I may have been guilty of in this past off-season in the Mid-West Winter League (too cautious), while I watched other teams in my division make good aggressive moves.

I needed to put some sort of spark in a ballclub that I felt had a couple strong trees in a relatively dead/burnt down forest. Those trees were Miguel Cabrera, Matt Holliday & Brian McCann. I had a few other guys, but nothing that I could really call prospects or future stars, the one guy that stood out that I could consider part of my future was catcher Yan Gomes. My only starting pitcher with a future was Tyler Skaggs.

My first real deal would involve Miguel Cabrera. I traded him with Tim Hudson, he really wanted Hudson, I really wanted Travis Wood involved, so it happened. I had a older rotation in Mark Buehrle, Tim Hudson, and Yovani Gallardo with David Phelps and Stephen Fife. I think I threw in a late 12th pick that ended up being Matt Shoemaker as well.

Overall, I would say yes, I am losing in this trade so far -- I got Travis Wood, Todd Frazier & Luke Gregerson with Jeanmar Gomez, Matt Davidson, Cesar Ramos, Heath Bell and a draft pick that would be Burch Smith for me. I consider Wood, Frazier & Gregerson as the bulk of this deal; I still like Wood, but he had a lousy 2014 for the Cubs, Gregerson is one of the most consistent relievers in the last few years, while Frazier is an All-Star third baseman.

The other guys are nothing special, I expected more out of Davidson, I figured he had a great shot with White Sox' MLB roster, instead he played a horrible season in the minors after being acquired from Arizona. At one point, I was offered Cody Asche, no.. I wanted Davidson -- Asche would eventually be traded from Hollywood to Sacramento, and Asche looks like he's going to stick around in Philly for awhile. Davidson & Burch Smith never made it back up to the Majors in 2014. I always looked at Heath Bell as a throw-in to the deal, so it was not upsetting to see him blunder in Tampa Bay. Ramos is one of those slash pitchers, can start, work out of the pen 1.300+ WHIP, once again nothing special. Gomez was part of the deal, because I thought maybe his 2013 season might be an indication for things to come, a young vet finding his way with his 1.153 WHIP -- Nope, just a fluke, should have weighed more on his 1.500 WHIP's in other years, in which his 2014 dished out a 1.500 WHIP.

By the way, the Cabrera trade helped the Hollywood Werewolves win the Mid-West Baseball League's World Championship over the Tempe Tempers.

In another deal, I traded Matt Holliday to the Coconut Creek Crushers, I believe at one point they were one of the teams that tried to work a deal for Cabrera, I wanted Josh Donaldson in a possible swap, it wasn't meant to be (I do have Donaldson in the BoS League for my Panthers though). Holliday was traded with Jemille Weeks, while the Crusaders acquired Brian Dozier (fielding 9) at second base, has pop with 20+ HR's at his position -- plus I really needed a second baseman badly; the Crusaders in that deal acquired Craig Gentry & a draft choice that turned out to be relief prospect Jake Barrett of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

I had better luck in other acquisitions, I picked up Kevin Kiermaier off the waiver wire just before the 2014 MWBL Season, to watch Kiermaier take advantage of his big break in Tampa Bay mid-season -- a pleasant surprise to say the least.

Early in the season, I had the Tijuana Bottle-Rockets and Detroit Crime contact me about veterans Eric Chavez and Carlos Pena, the players were no good for me (since I was not in contention, of course) -- Chavez's .810 OPS could help Tijuana's pursuit for playoff success. I acquired two 930 PR first basemen in Casey Kotchman & Brandon Laird, with a 6th Rd Draft Pick & 7th Rd Draft Pick for this upcoming 2015 MWBL Draft.

The Panthers then were asked about their closer Joaquin Benoit -- which resulted in a trade of Benoit with infielder Tony Abreu to Detroit in exchange for starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, reliever Michael Kohn & Detroit's 10th Rd Draft Pick.

The deals kept coming, Traverse City would trade catcher Brian McCann to the Elyria Indians, with SS-Adalberto (Raul) Mondesi (who had until the end of last season to make it up to the majors) & a 6th Rd Draft Pick -- in exchange for Elyria's 1st Round Draft Pick (at this point, I now have two 1st Round choices), 3B-Ryan McMahon '14 (a uncarded who was drafted in recent 2014 MWBL Draft), with SS-Munenori Kawasaki (a throw-in for position coverage). Mondesi never made it up, becoming a free agent, in which I landed a prospect in McMahon, who I am thrilled to have.

I would trade often-injured Angel Pagan to New York in a steal of a deal, that landed me OF/1B-Steve Pearce & New York's 5th Rd Draft Pick.

I would land my 3rd 1st Round Draft Pick in a trade with Clovis -- I traded SP-Mark Buehrle (who had a hot start for the Jays in 2014) with Marlon Byrd & T.C.'s 12th Rd Draft Pick. In the trade, I also acquired OF-Brett Gardner & RP-Jeremy Jeffress. Jeffress had a great second-half in 2014.

I only had two uncarded Draft Picks make their MLB debuts for me, in Danny Santana (MIN) & Robbie Ray (DET, now with D-Backs). I have four uncarded spots to fill, wished I had more open, but that's not the case.

After the season ended, and won the lottery for the #1 overall pick! I only made one deal after the season, when Chicago Mobsters traded for OF/1B-Steve Pearce. I would acquire 1B-Yonder Alonso, who is about 5 years younger, a lefty reliever in Sam Freeman, and a Draft Pick, while trading two picks away in the deal. Pearce was a plus for me on a deal that sent Pagan away, so the way I look at it, I got Alonso & Freeman, plus two picks.

My Draft Selection order for the upcoming 2015 MWBL Draft

1st Round - #1 Overall
1st Round - #21
1st Round - #23
2nd Round - #30
3rd Round - #58
4th Round - #86
5th Round - no picks
6th Round - #143
6th Round - #166
7th Round - #170
7th Round - #184
8th Round - #198
9th Round - #226
10th Round - #254
10th Round - #268
11th Round - #282
12th Round - no picks

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014 Transaction League - Stats & Leaders (American League)

The question remains: Where will Max Scherzer pitch next season? Where in the Transaction League as well?

Koji Uehara saved 30 games for the A.L. East Division Champs, with a microscopic 0.65 ERA! He was probably the backbone to everything success for their pitching staff (after trading off starting pitchers Jon Lester, John Lackey & Jake Peavy) The funny thing is, his season doesn't even compare to the success of N.L's Javier Lopez (of the Giants). Brandon Workman really stepped up for Boston, jumping from the pen (in which he had a 1.73 ERA) to the rotation, finishing the season at 4-4, with a 2.83 ERA -- definitely out-performing his real-life 2013 version, although the WHIP was in the same neighborhood. The big talk of their second-half would have to be acquiring Joe Kelly, who went a perfect 11-0, 1.81 ERA & .929 WHIP in 89.1 innings -- Hello, can you say Doyle Alexander, anyone?! Alexander went 9-0, 1.53 ERA & 1.008 WHIP in 88.1 innings for 1987 Tigers, after being acquired from Atlanta for, yes... John Smoltz. Felix Doubront had to take a bigger role, and won 19 games, despite a 4.07 ERA. Craig Breslow happened to save 20 games, along with Uehara's 30, posting a 1.44 ERA. Daniel Nava finished 3rd in hitting (.340), with Shane Victorino ranking 6th at .319.

Alex Torres led the A.L. with 43 Saves, posting a 1.56 ERA & 70 K's in 57.2 innings. Alex Cobb carried the staff, after the team traded Price to Detroit -- becoming a 20-game winner for Tampa, while posting a 2.76 ERA & 209 K's (208.1 IP). David Price had a 14-3 record at the time of the trade, with a 2.29 ERA -- while Matt Moore (13-13) & Chris Archer (16-10) had respectable ERA's moving up a spot in the rotation. Jeremy Hellickson, was all wrong, losing 21 games (9 wins) with an awful 6.57 ERA in 196 innings. Evan Longoria led the Rays with 42 HR's, while Wil Myers batted .320, 19 HR & 53 RBI in 88 games (359 AB's). James Loney (.298 BA) & Ben Zobrist (.279) had productive seasons in Tampa's lineup as well.

The Orioles did not accomplish their goals this season, as they miss out on the post-season despite having a pretty-good rotation that held up, with two of the league's biggest HR hitters. Chris "Crush" Davis led the American League with 43 HR's, while Adam Jones had 37 HR's by leading the team with a .290 batting average & 190 hits. Nelson Cruz hit 26 HR's, despite having to serve his PED suspension -- in a limited 397 at-bats (109 games). Manny Machado (.285, 14, 77) broke out for the O's, while J.J. Hardy added 23 bombs, playing short. Wei-Yin Chen (3.61 ERA) led the team with 16 wins, while Darren O'Day picked up 36 Saves, going 1-5 with a 3.76 ERA.

Always the backbreaker for the Jays in recent years: The pitching staff -- Their starting pitchers that posted over 20 starts (J.A. Happ, Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey & Todd Redmond), had ERA's of 4.73 or higher! They did have two starters that did good for them in limited starts, Chad Jenkins (6-4, 2.48 ERA in 80 IP & 12 starts) & Aaron Loup (9-8, 3.07 ERA, 129 K's in 152.2 innings / pitched 64 game & had 13 starts). Sergio Santos was the one bright spot as a closer (on a bad team) with 33 SV's & 1.52 ERA. The Jays never had a problem with offense (for the most part) with Adam Lind being their best overall hitter, batting .279 with 33 HR's & tied for the team-lead with 98 RBI's -- with Jose Bautista, who led the team with 40 HR's. Jose Reyes, once again couldn't stay healthy, but did bat .291 when he did play (97 games, 375 AB's). Dioner Navarro was a beast behind the plate, in limited action -- .329, 16 HR & 49 RBI (.949 OPS) in only 240 at-bats!

The computer must have sensed that Mariano Rivera was going to retire, as it shifted the closing responsibilities over to David Robertson. Robertson led the team with 29 Saves (1.60 ERA), Rivera picked up 9 saves, along with 6 wins & a 2.04 ERA -- both pitchers blown 3 saves each. They were the only two that stood out in a pen full of players from Matt Thornton, Heath Bell, Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren, Andrew Bailey & Rich Hill. The rest of the team was no different, Hiroki Kuroda (17-13, 3.00 ERA & 219 K's) shined as a starter among all the rubbish, Ivan Nova faired pretty nicely (9-10, 3.20 ERA & 134 K's). Poor Andy Pettitte finished 14-16, with a 4.73 ERA & C.C. Sabathia did even worse (10-20, 5.99 ERA). Carlos Beltran (.320, 37, 117) & Alfonso Soriano (.281, 34, 111) were the studs on offense, while Derek Jeter (231 AB's) & Alex Rodriguez (140 AB's) both batted under the Mendoza Line (.200 BA) -- with Mark Teixeira not doing much better at .203.

The Royals in this "Replay with a Twist" wins the division a year early in 2013 with the 2014 Transactions that were laid out in front of them. The computer unfortunately at times goes with pitching grades or saves totals or both when determining a closer, in this replay, it decided to go with Louis Coleman (instead of Greg Holland) -- which pays off, as Coleman racks up 41 Saves & 72 K's in 49.1 innings, with a small ERA of only 0.73! Holland was no slouch, with 5 Saves & 1.79 ERA as the team's setup man. The bullpen contributed to a 22-11 record & 2.71 ERA (and this is 2013, K.C. can't wait until 2014). The Royals actually used James Shield in 33 innings of relief, in which he went 2-1, 0.82 ERA, with 30 K's -- the starting ace finished the season, 21-9 (tied for most victories), 2.54 ERA (4th), with 221 K's in 265.2 innings that spanned over 46 games, 32 starts, 3 complete games (all shutouts) & 21 quality starts. Other starters Jason Vargas, Bruce Chen, Jeremy Guthrie & Wade Davis all recorded 10+ wins, with ERA's ranging from 3.78 to 4.90. Danny Duffy started & pitched out of the pen, going 6-4, with a 2.80 ERA & 82 K's in 80 innings. Eric Hosmer led K.C. in hitting (.304), while free agent signee Omar Infante's .331 BA (474 AB's) didn't have enough PA's in that category. Hosmer also led team with 17 HR's & 102 RBI, winning the team's triple crown. Jarrod Dyson stole 38 bases in 40 attempts (95%).

Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer appear to be the front-runners for A.L. MVP & Cy Young. Cabrera was in the triple crown mix, but the lineup around him, could not help in the RBI department; Cabrera finished the season, winning the A.L. Batting Title (.377 -- 30 points over 2nd place Mike Trout of Angels), 42 HR's (2nd) & 108 RBI's (9th); Miguel also led league with a 1.112 OPS! Scherzer was as equally impressive, 17-11, 2.23 ERA (2nd) & 315 K's -- to go along with 24 quality starts (tied for league best). The Tigers happened to have the league's top 3 pitchers in ERA, Anibal Sanchez led the league at 1.99, while David Price who split time in Tampa & Detroit -- placed 3rd at 2.47. The Tigers also posted the top 3 strikeout artists in Scherzer, Sanchez (294 K's -- his 10.8 K's per 9 Innings - led league) & Justin Verlander (247 K's). This is the year that Verlander starts to appear to be human, he went 15-20, 3.96 ERA, 3 CG (all shutouts), 18 QS. Rick Porcello (13-10, 4.11 ERA) had his K numbers up a bit, with 163 K's in 175.1 innings. The Tigers' bullpen, usually their weakness, actually outperformed their real-life counterparts, Joba Chamberlain, Al Alburquerque & Bruce Rondon were the only blemishes in a bullpen that was led by Joe Nathan's 34 Saves & 1.48 ERA. Luke Putkonen was posted a surprise 1.56 ERA, with 3 wins & 35 K's in 34.2 innings, while Drew Smyly had a 2.09 ERA, 5 wins & 4 Saves, before getting traded to Tampa.
Torii Hunter hit .301, 16 HR & 86 RBI for the Tigers.

To see the Twins placing 3rd place at season's end is a bit of a surprise, their team doesn't match well with either Chicago or Cleveland -- yet, here they are 74-88, 3rd Place. The team had only one 10-game winner in Ricky Nolasco (10-14), posting a 3.29 ERA & 195 K's (227 IP) -- while Samuel Deduno (9-7, 3.46) & Kevin Correia (8-9, 3.81) did decent for the Twinkies. Glen Perkins served as the team's setup man (instead of closer) with a solid 0.84 ERA & 7 Saves & an outstanding 104 K's in 74.2 innings -- while their closer Caleb Thielbar saved 30, with 4 wins & 1.36 ERA, plus 58 K's in 53 innings of work. Anthony Swarzak was better out of the pen, then as a starter (2.47 ERA, 5 wins in 83.2 relief innings). The Twins had a lot of part-time players playing in their lineups, in fact it's difficult to figure out how many different lineups there was, with so many pieces moving from place to place. Oswaldo Arcia led the team with 20 HR's (400 AB's), Joe Mauer batted .327 with 13 HR's & 63 RBI in 443 at-bats, while Pedro Florimon played stellar defense with 12 HR's, 60 RBI & 26 steals in 434 at-bats.

Corey Kluber went 15-12, with a 3.72 ERA & 231 K's in a breakout year on a last place team. Danny Salazar (8-7) also made a statement, with his 3.40 ERA & remarkable 178 K's in 138.2 innings. Brian Shaw (8-8) pitched mostly out of the pen (6 Saves), but would start 10 games (out of his 70 appearances) -- Shaw posted a 4.10 season ERA (3.32 bullpen ERA). Cody Allen shined as the team's closer (4-0, 21 Saves & 1.33 ERA) -- with 75 K's in 61 IP. Carlos Santana was the team's best overall hitter - .286, 27 HR's & 99 RBI (leading the team in all three categories) -- while Yan Gomes batted .313, 17 HR's & 37 RBI in only 208 at-bats (78 games, half-a-season). The Indians had four players with 20+ steals -- Elliot Johnson was the surprising member of that group, stealing 21 of 23 bases; Jason Kipnis led the team with 31 steals.

The Rangers had a great mix of everything -- Good starting pitching, bullpen, lineup, power & speed. The speed may be the highlight of their season, they had three players with 40+ steals, including two teammates with 50+ in Leonys Martin (55-for-60, who led A.L.) & Alex Rios (51); Elvis Andrus had 42 steals -- The team stole 177 bases, with a 85.1% success steal rate. Adrian Beltre put up a solid season, batting .295, 30 HR's, while leading the A.L. with 129 RBI. Rangers get a chance here, to see what a healthy Prince Fielder could have done for them in the Majors, leading the team with a .313 batting average, plus 26 HR's & 99 RBI. Shin-Soo Choo tied for the team lead in runs scored (101) with teammates Rios & Fielder, while hitting .265, 20 HR, 71 RBI & collecting 24 steals of his own. Yu Darvish led the rotation (17-8, 2.82 ERA) with 244 K's in 207.1 innings, while three other starters Derek Holland (3.21 ERA), Alexi Ogando (3.23 ERA) & Martin Perez (4.71) all collected 15 victories each. The team's bullpen had a combined 63 Saves -- led by Neal Cotts' 42 Saves & teeny-weenie 0.78 ERA over 57.1 innings (70 K's). Tanner Scheppers led the A.L. with 108.2 innings out of the pen, to go along with his 98 K's, 7-4 record, 9 SV & 2.40 ERA -- while Robbie Ross went 4-2, with a 2.02 ERA (3 SV) in 58 innings.

Despite all the changes to their roster for the better -- It did not quite work out like that for Oakland as art imitated life in the Transaction League. Trade acquisition Jon Lester did finish in a tie for the league-lead in victories (21), with K.C.'s Shields -- he went 7-2 with a 2.62 ERA, 4 CG's (1 SHO) in 11 starts for Oakland; Lester finished with a 2.61 ERA (6th) for the entire season. A.J. Griffin did excellent for Oakland, going 14-5, 2.96 ERA with 165 K's -- while Scott Kazmir in his comeback, went 11-18, 3.57 ERA & 213 K's in 217 innings. Dan Otero's 22 Saves led Oakland, while Ryan Cook's 7 Saves came along nicely with his 2.31 ERA -- not to mention other solid bullpen guys such as Sean Doolittle (2.77 ERA) & Luke Gregerson (2.84 ERA). Josh Donaldson put up a monster year, batting .296, 38 HR's (5th) & 126 RBI (2nd) -- Donaldson only trailed Detroit's Cabrera & the Angels' Trout in both Runs Created & Runs Contributed, to help give you an idea of the season he had. Jed Lowrie had a solid under-the-radar season, batting .283, 17 HR, 82 RBI, 99 runs, with 174 hits. Craig Gentry stole 47 bases in 53 attempts (98 games).

Mike Trout stood on top of the Angels' mountain when it came to their offense, there was a few guys near the bottom of the slope in Albert Pujols, David Freese, Howie Kendrick & Erick Aybar -- but overall, he was certainly on his own. Trout will most likely end up the runner-up to Cabrera in the A.L. MVP for the 2014 Transaction League; Trout finished 2nd in hitting (.347), with 25 HR's, 83 RBI & 207 hits -- adding 124 runs & 36 stolen bases. Pujols outperformed his Majors' version of 2013 stats, with a much-higher batting average of .290 (compared to .258), as his HR (14) and RBI (60) numbers reflected similarities to real-life, in 382 at-bats. Freese also did better than real-life, batting .289, with 7 HR & 60 RBI. J.B Shuck was batting .301 (382 AB's) before being shipped off to Cleveland.  The team's top three starting pitchers did a solid job in C.J. Wilson (18-14, 2.97 ERA & 210 K's), Jered Weaver (10-10, 3.07 ERA & 191 K's) & Hector Santiago (16-10, 3.50 ERA & 176 K's) -- It was just a different story for the 4th & 5th slots of the rotation. Dane De La Rosa was the best overall reliever (6 wins, 10 SV, 17 holds) with a 2.14 ERA, while Joe Smith (3.67 ERA) led the team with 26 Saves.

Hisashi Iwakuma was used literally everywhere for the M's pitching staff in the Transaction League, he not only won 13 games (going 13-14), with a 2.59 ERA & 220 K's (278 Innings) -- some of those innings (49.2) were used in the pen, where he tied for the team lead in Saves (11); Iwakuma pitched in 52 games, with 31 starts, 8 complete games & 4 shutouts! Felix Hernandez went 14-15, 2.82 ERA, while leading the team with 244 K's & 9 complete games -- he collected 5 saves. James Paxton was brilliant in 12 starts for Seattle, going 8-1, with a 1.47 ERA & 81 K's in 79.1 innings. After that the starting pitching was in shambles, the bullpen was not great as well, as Yoervis Medina was the other Seattle pitcher to log 11 Saves for them (sporting a 3.02 season ERA, 2.91 bullpen ERA). Robinson Cano (no surprise here) was the team's best hitter, batting .276, 32 HR & 106 RBI, with 101 runs. Kyle Seager (21 HR & 84 RBI) & Justin Smoak (22 HR & 73 RBI) contributed to the lineup as well. Austin Jackson batted only .184 in 183 at-bats for Seattle, after being acquired from Detroit -- he batted .283 in Detroit at time of trade.

It's kind of difficult to win when your team has no stability to its starting rotation. Scott Feldman led the team in wins (12-18 record), but sported a 5.88 ERA in 217.1 innings (1.528 WHIP -- ouch!). In fact, for Houston pitchers with 20+ starts, Brad Peacock posted the lowest of that bunch in ERA, with a 5.31 mark (Peacock led team with 188 K's). Under 20 starts, their best starting pitcher was Brett Oberholtzer -- in which he went 6-6, with a 2.86 ERA & 76 K's, including a shutout in 100.2 innings. Veteran relievers Jesse Crain (31 SV & 1.33 ERA) & Chad Qualls (3 SV, 22 holds & 2.18 ERA) stood out for Houston. Jason Castro, the team's starting catcher, had probably the best overall season, batting .274, 18 HR & 67 RBI (492 at-bats), while Chris Carter led the team in HR's (29) & RBI (99). Jose Altuve's batting average was lower than usual at .241 (still leading the team with 151 hits), while hitting 31 doubles & stealing 32 bases. Castro, by the way, led the team with 42 doubles, not bad for a catcher.

2014 Transaction League - End of Regular Season.

In the 2014 Transaction League mix: The 2013 Athletics.

There was a four-month hiatus from the project, when I brought up all the prospects for September action, it messed with the lineups & players being achy, tired & etc -- so I had to constantly update the lineups.

Here is where we left off...

In the American League, we had Boston and Texas running away from their divisions -- Boston was 97-47 at a .674 clip. Just a reminder, this is a "2013 replay with a twist", playing the 2013 MLB Season with whatever transactions ACTUALLY happened in 2014. In 2013, the Boston Red Sox won the whole thing, but in 2014 they were selling off some pieces... yet here they are. The 2013 Texas Rangers suffered that one-game wildcard playoff loss to Cleveland & were completely crippled by injuries in actual 2014 -- but for this 2014 Transaction League (2013 APBA Baseball), they have been injury-free. Oakland's recent trade acquisitions of Jon Lester & Jeff Smardzija have yet to go into fruition -- we'll see later in this blog piece, if they wake up in time.

Probably the best team in this recent run for Detroit, was the 2013 Detroit Tigers, as you all know David Ortiz ripped the hearts out of us Tigers fans & left Torii Hunter looking forward to a comfortable bed that evening (after flying over the wall). Hunter, by the way is my mom's favorite player, she's a bit bummed that he's now with his original franchise Minnesota -- she and my dad plan seeing the Tigers host the Twins this upcoming season (By the way, he has the most beautiful eye-lashes according to my mom, LOL!). 

Anyways, the Tigers are hanging on to that 5th Wild Card spot, trailing the Kansas City Royals in the Central, while the Baltimore Orioles (a game back) nip at their heels, with Oakland in striking distance. The Tampa Bay Rays hold the 4th Wild Card spot, at 82-59. The Cleveland Indians, by the way are one of the worst teams in American League at 57-84, things just have not gone their way, while they trade off a few pieces (most notably Asdrubal Cabrera to Washington) in real-life 2014.

The National League looks like this, with about 20+ games left...

We have a couple more closer races in the N.L., for example the Atlanta Braves only trail the Washington Nationals by a game -- the problem is, whoever does not win the division flirts with missing the post-season all together considering the strong top-half of the N.L. Central. The Colorado Rockies, who have been a huge surprise, have not made it easy for Atlanta & the 3rd place Central team (Cincinnati Reds) -- Cincinnati had dipped off, as Pittsburgh streaked past them a week or so ago.

Crashing the Party: Somebody forgot to tell the Rockies that they were not invited.
The New York Mets early on were actually doing well (They are technically, just 7 games from the division lead), while the San Francisco Giants just have not been able to find their footing. The Los Angeles Dodgers have pretty much led the N.L. West from wire-to-wire, Colorado at one point was within a few games from time-to-time.


This is how it all ended, the results of the American League...

The Boston Red Sox held on to the A.L. East Division Title, despite trading off John Lackey & Jon Lester, two key pieces to their rotation of their 2013 World Championship team. They won the division by an impressive 15 1/2 games! The Detroit Tigers got within a few games of Kansas City for the A.L. Central, but K.C. held on. The Tigers went 7-3 down the stretch, while Baltimore went 4-6, a three-game swing that would put Detroit in the post-season. Billy Beane's moves were not good enough for the Oakland Athletics, they were on the outside of the Detroit/Baltimore/Oakland log-jam for the Wild Card spot, they went 5-5 down in the last ten games -- that seems to be the story with this replay, Oakland was always within striking distance, but would never put their foot on the peddle (deciding to stick with cruise control), which would cause them.

The Detroit Tigers will travel to Tampa Bay for the A.L. Playoff Game, as the Boston Red Sox await the winner (for a best-of-five) -- while the Kansas City Royals play a best-of-five, starting on the road in Arlington to play the Texas Rangers.

The Los Angeles Angels were under .500 almost all year, sticking in third -- while the New York Yankees end up in the A.L. East basement. I accidentally played a 163rd game between the Indians and the Rangers, using APBA's schedule of the 2013 MLB Season, it still had the tie-breaker game on the schedule, and didn't notice it for the last 20-game simulation until it was too late. So the real record should be Tampa Bay at 94-68, with the Rangers at 99-63. The Houston Astros (56-106) by the way, ended up with the league's worst record

Now, the National League results...

The Washington Nationals win the N.L. East, putting the Atlanta Braves at risk (mentioned earlier, above) -- which would be the case & their fate, Atlanta could only keep pace with Washington, while the Cincinnati Reds (92-70) not only came back to life at a 9-1 fever pitch to pass the Pittsburgh Pirates -- who lost four straight, to watch Cincy win five straight! The Braves & Pirates are out! The Colorado Rockies could not catch the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it's all good as Colorado will be hosting the N.L. Wild Card Playoff Game against the Reds. The winner of the game will face the Dodgers, as the St. Louis Cardinals (15-6 down the stretch, and possibly all of baseball's hottest team right now), will host the Nats. The Cards won their last 5 games of the season as well as the Reds, while St. Louis still won their division by 8 games, winning a 100 games for the season.

Another note, the Rockies happened to make the playoffs, on the franchise's 20th Anniversary -- so Happy Anniversary, Colorado!

The Dodgers had the N.L's best record at 104-58, while the Chicago Cubs had the league's worst record at 52-110. The San Diego Padres didn't do much better at 53-108.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Looking Back at Big Deal

Pujols had a huge impact on my team in the 2000's.

The great thing for me, is that I benefited in my buddy Jeff Tritthart's APBA League (IGAL), a league full of Navy buddies, I acquired Pujols in 2002, during our 2002 IGAL Season (Pujol's 2001 rookie season). The funny thing he was already traded once, he ended up playing with three teams that season, he would first be drafted by the Dublin Fighting Irish - #2 overall behind Ichiro Suzuki (drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals). Then in March 2002, a four-team trade (yes, a four-team trade) that involved the Humble Warriors (then known as the Peaches), Cleveland Tribal-Thunder, Dublin & Philadelphia.

Let me first say, a long time back we had three teams each, and I created the name for the Dublin Fighting Irish, we added owners, and I ditched that team, which really was my 3rd team. At this point, the team was being ran by our friend Neil Barney's brother, who kept the team name (and yes, the logo was basically Notre Dame's logo). Plus not really sure how involved Neil's brother was in the first place, since Neil was basically the GM of that team. This was happening during a time of transition for the league, looking back...

Humble acquired 5 total players, with Magglio Ordonez, being the main acquisition along with 3 relievers in Mike RemlingerPedro Borbon Jr., and Scott Williamson -- plus a fringe player in Brian Daubach (1B). Cleveland acquired Andruw Jones & Lance Berkman (Berkman will still be a stud for some time, we would find out Jones had far less gas in the tank), reuniting real-life teammates Andruw & Chipper. Jones & Berkman, were acquired along with outfielder Shannon Stewart who would just sputter out basically with Travis Phelps (RP). Dublin really got hurt on this deal, they gave up Albert Pujols & the 3 relievers (Remlinger, Borbon & Williamson) to Humble & got back in return a 2003 1st Round Draft Pick - #2 Overall (from Philadelphia), OF-Dmitri Young, SP-Frank Castillo & RP-Dave Veres -- the #2 overall pick would end up being Mark Prior for the Dublin Fighting Irish (who needed plenty of pitching), which seemed great at the time for new owner (little brother Christopher Baier) who took over Dublin -- but we would find out that Prior's career would be short-lived.
Dublin's cursed bad luck in drafting Prior.

Philadelphia was the winner in that deal (well for at least 3 months), acquiring Pujols, plus RP-Kazzuhiro Sasaki (who I believe was the #1 or #2 overall pick, the year before) from Humble & OF-Johnny Damon from Cleveland.

The thing is the winner in the deal would be the ultimate loser a few months later, my Atlanta Braves came off their first IGAL World Championship, but I had to bolster up my bullpen in 2002, so while I was visiting my buddy Neil Barney in California, I asked about his relievers Tom GordonPaul Quantrill & Jeff Tam. He was looking at my roster and was asking whether I would trade either Richie Sexson & Raul Mondesi, which is funny because I believe Jeff asked about Sexson as well, around the time of the annual rookie draft. I would tell Neil that I would think about it, over dinner or hanging out I mentioned almost off-handily how I really like this Pujols kid in St. Louis (now in his second season), and that I believe he is going to be a constant beast. I was not even thinking of acquiring Albert, but Neil came back with an offer that included my Braves acquiring Pujols, Gordon, Quantrill & Tam in exchange for (both) Sexson & Mondesi, plus Odalis Perez (who by the way was having a great season in 2002 -- ending up 15-10 with a 3.00 ERA & 155 K's in 222.1 innings & the fact that Neil loved his Dodgers) & Chuck Finley (which 2002 would be the end of the line for his career).

This deal went down on June 5th, 2002 -- A year & 4 months after I acquired John Smoltz - no card [NC] (at career crossroads, soon to be reliever) & Alex Rodriguez, along with 3 draft picks. A-Rod joined what was already a stellar lineup that included Todd HeltonSammy Sosa Javy Lopez. Quantrill & Gordon was the beginning of what would become a great consistent bullpen with relievers Brad LidgeDamaso Marte, and a few other consistent guys that just got the job done -- my rotation was not great though (it would become a force later in the decade with Roy Halladay & Tim Lincecum).

For Philly, Richie Sexson, would have 3 more good seasons in the majors -- but his range of .263 to .274 BA doesn't hold well in a smaller league format in APBA where you are often going up against A & B pitchers -- so he never got a legit chance to put up his majors numbers; Raul Mondesi was going through a down 2002 at the time of the deal, and would bounce back a little in 2003 with respectable numbers & okay season in 2004 -- he was never an impact in the deal. We would find out for Odalis Perez that 2002 was as good as it got, as his next lowest ERA season would be 4.32 during his final season in the MLB (2008 for Washington).

It is easy to at times to look back at deals and see the flaws or mistakes by one party, but at the time it may seem to have made sense for both teams. I have had my duds through the years as anyone else, but it's beautiful when you pull off a beauty of a deal.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Players Today, Hall Tomorrow

Pujols & Cabrera at first base.
There of course, were many fun & interesting posts bouncing around Tuesday on the APBA Facebook Group that made discussions & debates very intriguing; Many of those, of course, about the current retired players on the HOF Ballot, and then Eric Berg sparked an interesting post about today's players & who would get in? Well he actually asked out of the four players Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki, Miguel Cabrera and Yadier Molina, who would get in? Would all get in? -- Quite a few of us weighed in, made excellent points, and added or subtracted players into the discussion as well.

First let's tackle three of the first four --


Albert Pujols will be in, as long as we do not see some unfortunate news that he was jacked up on PED's, there has been no clear connection, and it's unfortunate that this has to always come up when making HOF debates -- but he did play during the steroid era, and was taken under Mark McGwire's wing as a rookie. I like to think Pujols is legit & my gut feeling is he is, he was a pretty strong dude coming up, and he comes from humbling roots.

Until proven guilty -- he's in, let's just forget the cloud now & look at these amazing numbers. His numbers during his first 10 years is often compared to only one other player that has more impressive numbers than Pujols & that is of the great, immortal Lou Gehrig. When your first 10 years is only being bettered than that of Gehrig -- than you certainly left your mark on the game.

Pujols' career from 2001-2010 -- 2003 season highlighted.
Truly amazing, lowest runs number (99), lowest RBI numbers (103), lowest BA (.312), lowest OBP (.394), lowest slugging (.561) & lowest OPS (.955) -- 8 times over 1.000 OPS, which is nuts!

Now we'll take a look at Lou Gehrig's first 10 full seasons, from 1925-1934 -- remember this is about both players' first 10 full seasons.

Lou Gehrig's 1925 - 1934 stretch.
Just like Pujols, Gehrig also had 8 seasons during his first full 10 seasons, but actually had the lowest OPS (.896) in 1925 out of the two. Gehrig failed to reach 100 runs & 100 RBI's in same season, while Pujols only missed century mark in the runs category (by a single run). Gehrig missed .300 BA once, Pujols was above .300 entire stretch. Both surpassed 1.100 OPS for 4 seasons each. The remarkable thing to note on Gehrig's first 10 full seasons, is that he reached single-seasons of 200+ in the OPS+ category 3 times (220, 206 & 203) while Pujols' highest OPS+ during stretch was 192.

Plus Gehrig surpasses .360 in batting average 4 times (3 of them .370+), including back-to-back seasons of .373 (1927) & .374 (1928) -- while putting up monster 1.240 OPS in 1927, which by the way didn't lead the league that season. Gehrig only led OPS during this stretch once (1.172 in 1934), basically due to the presence of Babe Ruth. Pujols never hits over .360 during this stretch, with his high being .359 -- while winning his only batting title (Gehrig's only batting title, 1934).

With many parallels, like being first basemen, there are areas where this is indeed a difference. The RBI numbers are noticeably different with Gehrig blasting over 150 RBI's (four times), Pujols none over 150 (high was 137). Gehrig's seasons over 150 RBI's during this stretch include: 151, 166, 173, 173 & 185! Certainly, Pujols didn't have Babe Ruth or the other talent as well, but you can't take anything away from Gehrig here -- simply amazing!

Now throw in Lou Gehrig's most dominant 10-year stretch, Pujols loses out big time, but Pujols has the best 10-year stretch for a player not named Gehrig, best since Gehrig.

Gehrig's dominant stretch from 1927 - 1936, which doesn't include 1937 (1.116 OPS) & 1938 (.932 OPS).
There is no stretch in the history of the game that matches this dominance of Lou Gehrig (above).

Now quickly back to Pujols -- The great thing for me, is that I benefited in my buddy Jeff Tritthart's APBA League (IGAL), a league full of Navy buddies (Jeff is now a member of my Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League), in which I acquired Pujols in 2002, during our 2002 IGAL Season (Pujol's 2001 rookie season). The funny thing he was already traded once, he ended up playing with three teams that season, he would first be drafted by the Dublin Fighting Irish - #2 overall behind Ichiro Suzuki (drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals). Then in March 2002, a four-team trade (yes, a four-team trade) that involved the Humble Warriors (then known as the Peaches), Cleveland Tribal-Thunder, Dublin & Philadelphia. I would later acquire him a few months later from Philadelphia. I have started a future post called "Looking Back at Big Deal" in which I will go into more detail on that, because the deal would be pivotal for 4 more IGAL World Championships (I was the defending champs at time of trade).

For me, it was truly amazing to have him on my APBA team -- for other league owners, a complete nightmare, so if he got hurt today & didn't play another game, I believe he is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame.


Ichiro - During Early Japan days.
Ichiro Suzuki is a lock for the Hall-of-Fame as well, the guy has over 4,000 international hits in professional baseball. His 10 straight seasons of 200+ hits & single-season of 262 hits are the most in Major League history, he is only surpassed by Pete Rose & Ty Cobb in the career international hits category. He is currently 156 hits shy of 3,000 in the majors at age 41. Became the second player ever to win both MVP & Rookie-of-the-Year (2001) in the same season (Fred Lynn was the first). Named an American League All-Star his first 10 years of his career.

From 2001-2010, Ichiro collected 2,244 hits (an average 224 hits a season) in 6,779 at-bats, batting a career .331 up to that point; His playing time since has decreased along with talent due to age, and now owns a .317 career batting average. Ichiro owns 10 Gold Gloves, two A.L. Batting Titles (2001 & 2004) along with 487 career steals.

Should be noted that Ichiro did hit 136 hits, just two seasons ago, so it is possible for him to close the gap to 3,000 hits this season & eclipse that next season, if he chooses to hang on -- looking more unlikely, but not impossible. A season of 160 hits this year is highly unlikely, considering what his role will be in 2015.


Miguel Cabrera in my opinion is already the greatest Latin slugger to have played the game (possibly hitter as well). During the discussion on the APBA Facebook Group, Jim Moran lent us a great article by Fan Graphs about current players and their Hall of Fame odds.
  • Click here for the entire article on Fan Graphs - "Which Active Players are Going to Cooperstown".
This was an article from last year (exactly a year ago), so don't be surprised to see Derek Jeter's name along with current players among "The Already Earned Their Way" -- which also had Ichiro & Pujols (above). Alex Rodriguez fell under "Would Be a Lock, Except PEDs" section. I agreed basically with the entire article, except for the fact that Miguel Cabrera was not in "The Already Earned Their Way".

I know some are saying, wait a second, it's too soon!

Actually, no it's not. I give you a great comparison, to two players in MLB history that are in the Hall of Fame -- Kirby Puckett & Ralph Kiner. If Miguel's career ended today (I shudder to think as a Tigers fan), he would be a lock!

  • Miguel Cabrera: 2,200+ hits, .320 career BA, 390 HR's & .960 career OPS. Including 3 straight A.L. Batting Titles (2011-2013), a Triple Crown (2012) -- first in 45 years. Back-to-Back MVP Awards (2012-2013), including a runner-up in 2010. 9-time All-Star.
  • Kirby Puckett: 2,304 hits, .318 career BA, 207 HR's & .837 career OPS. One A.L. Batting Title -- batting .339 in 1989. No MVP Awards, runner-up in 1992. 10-time All-Star.
  • Ralph Kiner: 1,451 hits, .279 career BA, 369 HR's & .946 OPS. No Batting Titles (only batted over .300 once), No MVP Awards (closest was 5th in 1950), 6-time All-Star.

Both Cabrera & Puckett stand at 12 seasons, with Kiner's 10 seasons. Cabrera beats both in HR's (beating Puckett by 183 HR's) & OPS (beating Puckett by .123 in OPS). Cabrera was similar in career hits & career batting average with Kirby, while Cabrera's power just eclipses Kiner in both HR's & OPS.

No one can sit there and say He has not been around long enough...

By these comparisons he has, he's been around two more seasons than Kiner (a much-better hitter than Kiner), while his power numbers beat Puckett, hands down. Plus, if Miguel can stay healthy, he will be able to do something that both were not able to do & that is reach 3,000 hits. Puckett does have Kiner & Cabrera beat in one major area, and that's the fact that Kirby owns two World Championship rings (1987 & 1991) -- Miguel has one with the Marlins (2003), Kiner had none.

Still not convinced? Check out the picture below:

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Post #400

The Phantastic Phillies of 1993 are rolling, as their bats once again explode.
Recently, The Boys of Summer Blog celebrated 25,000 hits on the site, now here we are with Post #400, which is not much of a post, but a quick update on 1993.

A few highlights from the Alternate 1993 Project

Greg Swindell & The Houston Astros had the undefeated Philadelphia Phillies on the ropes, as the Stros led 7-1 after 7 innings. Swindell left the game only allowing 4 hits & an earned run through seven, with 4 K's & 2 walks. The bullpen though would drop the ball, going through 4 pitchers, while the Phillies took advantage of two errors, one by Jeff Bagwell & Andujar Cedeno -- erupting for 12 runs in the 8th Inning. During the inning Darren Daulton smacked a Grand Slam off of Xavier Hernandez, plus HR's from Dave Hollins & Ricky Jordan. The Astros have to feel sick to their stomachs on this one, as they slip to 1-4, while Philly stays invincible at 5-0.

The Montreal Expos finally won improving to 1-4, but it's all for no gain in the standings with Philly's come from behind game against Houston.

The Atlanta Braves remain undefeated, holding off the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-3, as Ron Gant hits his 6th HR of the season. Gant also has 12 RBI, while batting .500 through 5 games.

The New York Mets suffered a huge blow by losing Sid Fernandez for 40 games, he had to come out of the game after 2.2 innings, as starting pitcher Charlie Hough came in from the pen. The Mets later called on Dwight Gooden out of the pen for the 8th Inning, Gooden was coming off a two-hit, one-run, complete game against Houston on opening day -- Former Met Tim Teufel smacks two-run blast off Gooden. The Padres' closer Gene Harris comes in and blows the save opportunity as pinch-hitter Ryan Thompson hits a game-tying solo HR during top of 9th. Andres Galarraga hits a go-ahead RBI single for Mets in the 12th, but it's the Padres' Orestes Destrade that sends the game to victory with a walk-off two-run HR off of Jeff Innis. Padres win 7-6 (12 Innings).

The San Francisco Giants break up Jose Rijo's bid for a no-hitter & 3-0 lead in the 5th, as they pile on 7 runs in the bottom-half of the inning -- The Giants hold off the Cincinnati Reds, 7-3. The Giants move up to 2nd place alone at 4-1, passing the Dodgers at 3-2; The Reds are the only team in Major League Baseball still looking for their first victory (0-5).

BoS Power Rankings - May

Anibal Sanchez: 7-1, 2.01 ERA, 68 K's & .989 WHIP in 62.2 innings for Portland this season.

The power rankings for month #2 (May) through May 28th.

Biggest Jump (Placement): Good things for the Mosher family circle in the month of May: The Fairgrove Tigers (Robert Mosher) and Holland Hitchhikers (Steve Ruder) moved up the most places on the Power Rankings -- each moving up 4 slots. As you may or may not know, Steve became a father last year, giving "Tiger Bob" another grandchild.

Biggest Jump (Points): It's hard to believe that just a month ago, the Portland Microbrewers ranked #4, had only 88.5 points in the ranking system, they have been on fire since, going 22-2 since, and winning 24 of last 26 games. Not to mention the BoS League Record 14 game winning-streak.

Staying Steady: The Traverse City Panthers did drop a spot (falling to 3rd) & lost 4 points, but have stayed relatively steady, while Portland & Fairgrove blown past them. The Buffalo Yankees (11th) didn't move any spots, while losing 7 points.

Biggest Drop (Placement):  The Chicago Nine dropped 4 slots, while losing 13 points in the BoS Power Rankings. 

Biggest Drop (Points):  The King Road Kings dropped 20 points, and slipped two spots -- their division mates San Diego Heroes had one of the biggest drops (-18.5); Both bad news for two teams while Portland starts putting serious distance between both teams. The Heroes are in second, but already trail by 10.5 games.

Team to Watch: The South Shore Fighting Imps are the defending BoS World Champions, they were #1 during the end of April - Power Rankings, and have recently fallen to #4 in the rankings, by dropping 3 slots & 19.5 points. The team only played .500 ball during May (12-12), while still owning a 5 game lead on the Swatara Eliminators. The Imps have played better on the road, going 18-12. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

1993 -- In with a Bang!

Gary Sheffield joins L.A. a little earlier than normal.

Happy New Years, it's 1993 -- Grunge is in, Melrose Place was starting to take off -- No one at this point (for most part) never heard of George Clooney, Bill Clinton is the man taking office, while yours truly (me), was in the middle of his sophomore year of high school. But no, really...  can you believe it has been 20+ years ago now?

So of course, like always, I have quite a few things in the works. I kicked off my Alternate 1993 project (MLB without anymore expansion). The players were picked by worst record in 1992 to sign the likes of Gary Sheffield, Dante Bichette, Andres Galarraga, Vinny Castilla & company. Sure Sheffield joined the expansion Marlins via trade, but like the mid-season transactions in 1993, they play for the team year around (just the same as a packet of APBA cards).

Gary Sheffield ended up being signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dante Bichette ended up in Kansas City, Andres Galarraga (a Met) & Vinny Castilla ends up with the California Angels (or I should call them the Platooning Angels, not many regular year-long starters, an influx of youth such as J.T. Snow & Tim Salmon).

There was some other interesting pieces to teams. Bryan Harvey adds even more depth to that Philadelphia Phillies bullpen. Chuck Carr leads off the Giants' lineup, with Darren Lewis possibly being trade-bait, for now he's a dependable backup -- and if Carr falters, Lewis will jump right in. Seattle drafted Robb Nen, who won't come around until next season, but we know that Seattle during this time period didn't have good bullpens, so they drafted the big gun.

Another thing that I am doing with this project of no expansion, there is no inter-league play, and all the teams that were in the original four division format are right back where they belong. So the Milwaukee Brewers will never be going to the National League, while Houston Astros stays in the N.L.

It will also put an interesting twist on rivalries, and division races. Can the Atlanta Braves duplicate their division dominance in the N.L. West, like they did in the N.L. East. The Cleveland Indians start to emerge when the Yankees also start mid-way through the decade; Remember -- with the four division format, also means the old rules, only division winners move on, we go straight to the League Championships. It won't be as easy for the Braves this time, with good Astros teams in the 90's, Giants, Dodgers, etc,

In this replay, I play the home teams' games, and play to the best of my ability to get that team to win. I will tell you already, the Pittsburgh Pirates are painful to watch & to play. Now I'm playing BBW, but to give you an idea, the Pirates have no B's & above for them -- all C & D's in both rotation & pen.

I forgot how good actually that 1993 Montreal Expos team was, everyone always goes straight to 1994, I knew they were up & coming in 1993, but they nearly won that division from Philly actually. So can Montreal catch Philly in this? It will still be tough, plus Philly has got off to a 4-0 start, while Montreal has lost their first four, and have yet to play each other. The Expos added Walt Weiss to their infield depth, and acquired Eddie Murray from the Mets -- due to their purchase of Galarraga, the Mets acquired Wil Cordero & a reliever (I believe) in the deal.

Now players will belong to teams during real-life durations, so Murray will only be with the Expos in 1993, and will sign with Cleveland in 1994. Another example, Jeff Conine played with the Marlins, the first time around from 1993-1997, with there being no Marlins, and Conine getting drafted in this Alternate 1993 League by the Detroit Tigers; Conine will play for the Tigers until 1998, in which he will join Kansas City, now Tigers can trade him, but he will still become a Royal in 1998.

The Dodgers who happened to draft Gary Sheffield in this weird universe had him from 1993-1997, the interesting thing is he joins the 1998 Dodgers. So the Dodgers could say, trade him even, and they would still get him in 1998.

Each season there will be a new free agent draft for the expansion team players, and there will be more when we ignore the existence of the Arizona Diamondbacks & the Tampa Bay Devil.. uh.. Rays. By the way, my grandparents bought me a Tampa Bay Devil Rays shirt during my senior year (1995), I thought I was so cool, having a shirt of a team that didn't have a roster yet.

Ron Gant has exploded batting .526, 5 HR & 11 RBI in 20 plate appearances for the undefeated Atlanta Braves, who by the way also has a 1.25 ERA, while batting .331 & +24 scoring differential. Their real-life NLCS rival Phillies, undefeated as well at 4-0, 2.00 ERA, leading the league with a .346 average & a +19 scoring differential. The Phillies, we know have Bryan Harvey (as mentioned earlier), plus Alex Arias, extra infield help. The Braves have Joe Girardi through the end of 1995, while adding infield depth with Rich Renteria.

The 1993 Chicago White Sox are playing good as expected, they have an amazing rotation led by Jack McDowell (13-YZ), Alex Fernandez (13-YZ), Wilson Alvarez (16-YW), plus rookie Jason Bere (13-XW). They just lost their first game against Cleveland, after a 3-0 start & are currently tied with Minnesota, who has won three straight (but that won't last since Minnesota is one of the weaker 1993 teams). In cards form, they are 3 B starting pitchers & 1 A starting pitcher in Alvarez. Their expansion additions were Richie Lewis (14-XW / B-XW) and a catcher (with awful defense, 6) that will add some pop off the bench in Danny Sheaffer (.278, 4, 32).

I will report more of what's to come in the following weeks, but for now here is the standings...

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