Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Top Six (2017 BoS Annual Draft - Part I)

This year marked our 5th Season's Annual Draft. The league is 16 teams & owners strong, and there seems to be even more excitement than ever before. While Sports Illustrated is calling today's MLB the start of a new era, it seems to be the same deal in the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League as well. As the league's commissioner, this seems to be a new beginning with many great things to come, never been more excited!

My last blog post was about the guessing game that goes on before a draft, who's getting who? When do I draft so-and-so? Who's going when? Who needs what? Plus there is nothing more important than the first round pick.
Swanson: 1st Overall Pick in 2015 MLB Draft.

This year, is unlike many 1st Rounds in the past, in our 5 years, I don't believe there was ever this much talent in one round or in the entire draft; For example... the 9th & 10th Round picks still had some good picks, compared to previous drafts where it seemed after 6 rounds it was a crap shoot.

Before the draft, our teams cut down to 28 players, and we draft 12 rounds, to make the overall roster to 40 players. Due to trades, we have some teams with more picks, which would lead to them making some roster cuts after the draft.... Some would get compensation picks at the end.

My team had 16 draft picks due to many trades, I originally had two 1st Round draft picks & two 2nd Round draft picks. Then, as you all know (that read my last blog piece) I traded my #6 & #16 overall picks (both 1st rounders) to the Portland Microbrewers for their #2 pick (that the acquired from the Seattle Rainiers) & #28th overall (2nd Round). Portland already has their own #12 pick, which will make a nice #6, #12 & #16 picks in the first round for him, while I get the #2 overall, and a nice cluster of picks in the 2nd Round at #22, #24 & #28.

Through discussion, Brad Stark (Portland's owner) and I would make the deal, in an attempt to get the guys we wanted. My Traverse City Panthers had OF-Andrew Benintendi on their radar, while the Brewers had their eyes on Dansby Swanson.

Benny Baseball: The consensus #1 Prospect in all of Baseball.

The 2015 MLB 1st Round Draft Pick by Boston, Benintendi, 22, is the consensus #1 Top Prospect in all of Baseball according to all the major outlets such as Baseball America,, The Sporting News & the MLB Network. The Ohio native won the Golden Spikes Award (Baseball's equivalent to the Heisman Trophy) as a member of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Swanson, 23, a college star himself (Vanderbilt University) was the #1 Overall Draft Pick, selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 2015 MLB Draft. Swanson, a Georgia native, would return home in a trade, along with OF-Ender Inciarte, in exchange for pitchers Shelby Miller, Aaron Blair and Gabe Speier. Personally, I think that the Diamondbacks really screwed up on that trade, but I'm sure that will become common knowledge once Swanson breaks out.

Both Benintendi & Swanson cruised through the minors, both 2015 Draft Picks, Golden Spikes Finalists & college stars -- It appears that this will be one of many links once people look back at the 2015 MLB Draft & many 2017 APBA League Drafts; It will certainly be a link for both me & Brad, and this very important draft. 

So the question remained at the end of my last blog piece, did we get our guys? or did one of us, unfortunately lose out?

The #1 Overall Pick in the 2017 BoS Annual Draft belonged to the King Road Kings, who had the league's worst record last season at 61-101; Although the Kings had a long year last season, the future looks much better as their rotation will be solid this season after strong 2016 MLB seasons by Chris Sale, Carlos Rodon, Ervin Santana & J.A. Happ to go along with Rich Hill & Clayton Kershaw who had great years, but some time on the disabled list.

Their APBA Grades play out as this....
  • Clayton Kershaw (17-XYZ) (613 MBF)
  • Rich Hill (17-XY)
  • J.A. Happ (16-Y)
  • Chris Sale (13-XZ)
  • Ervin Santana (12-Y)
Chris Rodon (7-X) & Miguel Gonzalez (8-Z) will serve as potential spot starters. When the Kings' top three starting pitchers are healthy, that will give them 3 A's at the top of their 5-man rotation. The Kings did end up drafting Dan Otero (22*-YZ) & David Phelps (14/17*-XY with 397 MBF - Maximum Batters Faced) in later rounds, which is a nice addition to closer Aroldis Chapman (23*-XY / A&C*-XY), giving the Kings three A relievers. 

Three 'A' Starters is definitely to have in any sized league, especially one with only 16 teams, their pitching situation is pretty set... So it came as a bit of a surprise that the Kings took the Detroit Tigers' 2016 A.L. Rookie-of-the-Year, Michael Fulmer as the top overall pick in the 2017 Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League Draft. The team has lacked offense throughout the years, and although they have more pop than usual with good seasons from Ian Desmond, Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy & decent offensive years from Yunel Escobar & Eduardo Nunez to go along with that -- that's not a lot when you compare the offense to other teams, in a league where everyone has plenty of 'B' starting pitchers at least. 

King of the Hill: Michael Fulmer was selected as the top overall pick in the 2017 BoS Annual Draft.
The one obvious hole appeared from my vantage point, was at shortstop, Ian Desmond, who Charles (King Road) owner, acquired during the 2016 BoS Annual Draft at SS, moved to the outfield for the Texas Rangers, entering the 2016 MLB Season -- Then signed a big contract with the Colorado Rockies to play first base for the 2017 MLB Season. So I had him pegged to draft Trevor Story, not Fulmer.

Was Michael Fulmer an awful choice for 1st Overall pick? 

No, I can see what the Kings were thinking, make that rotation solid as cement... but you want to make the team pretty balanced all around, and I felt they missed a beautiful opportunity to take Story, have a solid shortstop for years to come with a powerful bat. 

Is Micheal Fulmer a 1st Round Pick? 

Most definitely, his upside may not compete with many that are in this 1st Round, but you take a look at many keeper/APBA leagues, especially APBA card leagues, he has been a consensus 1st Round pick; For him to fall to the 2nd Round would be a rarity for sure.

The Kings do have options & plenty of starting pitching to unload during the season, in case (and they will) they need offense. There is plenty of teams this season with more holes in their rotations, than in previous years... 2016 overall was a offensive year, and it shows on the back ends of the rotations. 

'C' Starting Pitchers will be in more need in the BoS than in previous seasons, I believe this is a big reason that the defending World Champion Fairgrove Tigers, reacquired Yordana Ventura from the Traverse City Panthers (even knowing that Ventura died); Ventura is a C starter with plenty of MBF's (917 maximum batters faced), all in exchange for a 6th Round pick. 

So knowing that there may be need for some teams that need 'C' starters, it would make plenty of sense for the Kings to trade those pitchers, like Miguel Gonzalez & even Carlos Rodon, maybe even along with some draft pieces to get bigger offensive hitters for that lineup.. especially due to the fact that they have this window of opportunity lined up for them with their rotation, it would be a shame not to take advantage of that. The team will be much improved by 20+ games, and do have a chance to really make a championship run if they play their cards right. I actually already tried to acquire Rodon in a deal, that involved SP-Corey Kluber

They would add veteran pieces (from the draft) in Adam Lind, Jayson Werth, Leonys Martin & Sandy Leon for more offense, while Darwin Barney helps with shortstop depth to go with likely starter Eduardo Nunez.

So with Michael Fulmer taken with the #1 Overall Pick, it was my time to draft at the #2 Overall Selection, I took without flinching the pick that I wanted the entire time, in outfielder Andrew Benintendi. I can't say enough about the kid, which (because of that) will lead to a future blog piece... 

Now up was the 3rd Overall pick by the Spring Branch Duffers, and like clockwork (especially with Benintendi off the board), the Duffers took Dodgers' young phenom Julio Urias... like he did in the Lame Duck Baseball Association (LBDA). 

Duffer Zone: Spring Branch takes a familiar guy at #3 overall in Julio Urias.
4th Overall pick went to the Swatara Eliminators, a team that I originally thought may take Benintendi, if I didn't trade up... but might also go for much-needed starting pitching -- would do just that, go for starting pitching by taking the Pittsburgh Pirates' Jameson Taillon. For my draft analysis, it was really hard for me to peg where Taillon would fall; Overall I had him not selected in the top 6 at least. 

My Top 6 by Talent Projected
  1. Julio Urias - SP
  2. Andrew Benintendi - OF
  3. Dansby Swanson - SS
  4. Yoan Moncada - OF
  5. Alex Bregman - 3B
  6. Trevor Story - SS
My Top 6 by Projection for the draft
  1. Trevor Story - SS
  2. Andrew Benintendi - OF
  3. Julio Urias - SP
  4. Yoan Moncada - OF
  5. Tyler Glasnow - SP
  6. Dansby Swanson - SS

So far....
  1.  Michael Fulmer - SP
  2. Andrew Benintendi - OF
  3. Julio Urias - SP
  4. Jameson Taillon - SP
Which brings us to #5....

The Buffalo Yankees would draft Trevor Story, I believe Buffalo did not expect to have Story gift-wrapped for him at #5, although I'm sure he didn't think he would have a chance to either draft Yoan Moncada & Dansby Swanson possibly at 5th as well, which all could have been solid picks as well at 5th overall. 

I knew that I would get a solid guy at #6 regardless, but the fact was I wanted Andrew Benintendi, and that's why I traded up, if I still had the #6 pick & Benintendi was gone, my choice would have been the same choice as Portland was at #6, and that was Dansby Swanson, who he would have taken at #2 overall if he kept it. 

I was so relieved that Brad got his guy, I was on the edge of my seat & worried that he would not get him, which I would have felt awful about. Instead, he did get his guy, plus he now has great picks in #12 & #16 to finish out the 1st Round... So our gamble paid off!

Topping the list on many 2017 lists for Top pitching prospect, is Bucs' Tyler Glasnow.
There was never a draft that I can recall where 6-to-7 guys could be the #1 overall pick, and there would be no thoughts about it, many of these other guys like Tyler Glasnow, Alex Reyes, Nomar Mazara, probably could have been taken at #1 overall as well, depending on perspective & that owner's belief in their upside. For me, it was the top 6 (above) that I have listed for Talent -- with Glasnow (actually edging Story), so that's a mix of projection with Story at #6 on that list. Glasnow has been leading many 2017 lists as the top pitching prospect.

With me trading the #16 pick away, it took me out of that 'tough decision bubble', which made it easier for me to take picks at #22, #26 & #28... and those picks could not have happened more beautifully!

*** Can't wait to share my results & more results in Part II of this blog piece. ***

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The Guessing Game

This post was inspired by two league owners kicking off a conversation which would lead to a trade. For all of you that compete in APBA Baseball Leagues either cards or through BBW [Baseball for Windows], you can certainly relate... this post is definitely for you. This post is an inside look how, trades can generally happen, especially ones prior to upcoming drafts. 

So prior to the draft, the Portland Microbrewers owner (Brad Stark) & I, were trying to figure out who's taking what. He had the #2 overall pick, and I had the # 6 overall pick. We tinkered with the idea of me trading my #6 & #16 overall picks for his #2 overall & #28 overall pick. This would ensure that I would get my guy, and he would take the risk of not getting his guy, and would add a #6 & #16 overall pick to his 1st round selection of #12... giving him #6, #12 & #16 picks in the first round.

Funny thing is that still won't make him the team with the most 1st Round Draft Picks, that would be the Spring Branch Duffers with 4 1st Rounders (#3, #7, #11 & #13 overall).

The genesis of the trade started with me offering Hunter Pence & my #6 overall pick, for his #2 overall pick. Portland (Brad) turned me down, due to him having solid depth at OF. Some people may think it's crazy for me to basically release a veteran star like Pence, just to move up 4 slots for a pick, especially in a deep draft -- a draft that will be featuring 1st Round-caliber talent in the 2nd & even 3rd rounds... but I really wanted to put my team in a situation to get the guy I truly wanted.

It sparked Brad to react by saying he would be more up to trading his #2 overall & #28 to the Panthers for the #6 & #16 picks... he wasn't really even trying to trigger a possibility of entertaining the idea, he was just merely saying it, at least that's what I got from my perspective.

I decided to look things over for the sake of it -- I knew (before looking) that the 2nd Round would still have tons of talent & through my quick recheck, I really loved the fact that there would be 1st Round-caliber talent falling to the 2nd Round; If I was to do this trade, it would give me a cluster of 2nd Round picks at #22, #24 & #28. So I sent a email reply back, saying something like "Damn it, now you got me thinking about it, LOL!"

I actually discussed what I came up with to my wife, and realized I really wanted to make this trade now, so I sent Brad the exact offer, mentioned above in the #2 & #28 for #6 & #16... Brad's reply was that he was still pondering it & now leaning against it. I respected that, and felt we were good either way we go.
Kings' Court: Kershaw anchors an impressive rotation for King Road.

He would mention that the King Road Kings mentioned they would not trade any of their starting pitching, and rightfully so... why would they? The Kings had Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, J.A. Happ, Carlos Rodon, Rich Hill & Ervin Santana... their rotation is set. Brad also mentioned that, he would not be surprised to see Charles (King Road) draft another starting pitcher, maybe Julio Urias... which I replied I felt he was going to go for a full-time, immediate draft pick as he has in previous drafts, and would go for a need at shortstop in Trevor Story.

I was confident that if we stayed put, stayed where we were currently at, that my guy Andrew Benintendi, Boston's prized prospect, and top 2017 prospect in all of baseball, would be gone by the time it got to my pick #6.

My thought process was that the Kings would go with their m.o. & take Story #1 overall, Portland would take a SP (which I felt this is where he was going at the time in our email discussion), and that at either #3 overall (Spring Branch) or #4 overall (Swatara) would take Benintendi. Spring Branch has nothing to lose, and plenty of scenarios to play with, with 4 1st Rounders... If I was Spring Branch, I would take Benintendi at #3 overall, and still would have a shot at a solid starting pitcher at the #7 overall pick (his other picks were #11 & #13).

I felt that Buffalo was going to take pitching, and if Spring Branch and Swatara somehow don't draft Benintendi, than he was good as mine... but that was a strong if, nothing is an absolute when it comes to annual drafts, especially the first round.

Brad would mention to me that Neil (Spring Branch) in their league, the Lame Ducks Baseball Association (LDBA), Neil took SP-Julio Urias (Dodgers) at #6, OF-Nomar Mazara (Texas) at #11, SP-Sean Manaea (OAK) at #15 & SP-Dylan Bundy (Baltimore) at #16. Apparently he had 4 1st rounders in that draft as well. Bundy was not available in our draft, he was a non-card held by Holland the last couple years as a keeper. Plus, nothing is a given, just because an owner took these guys in one draft, does not mean he may change it up in another... but it does give us an idea what he may do.

I mention to Brad, that at #6, I was for sure not taking a SP (maybe at #16 overall, especially if I got my guy). Brad came back that he was definitely going to draft the guy he wants regardless of upside, he wanted a guy he can be happy to cheer on for years...

That guy? Dansby Swanson. Swanson was on my radar, but he would only be my pick at #6 if Benintendi was taken... If Swanson was as well, that would probably make me rethink not taking a starting pitcher. It turns out Brad likes Benintendi as well, and would have likely taken Benintendi if it were not the fact that he has tons of depth in the outfield.

Benintendi (left) and Swanson (right) discuss their possible BoS destinations.

I mention to Brad that Neil turned me down in a deal involving me, sending Jean Segura (SS/2B) to Spring Branch... Neil had no need for shortstops, which helps Brad's case, in case he entertained the idea of doing our draft picks swap.

Much to my surprise, Brad would send an email saying "Ah heck, let's do it...."

For a second, I actually thought about backing out, after I thought there may be that chance that Benintendi fell to #6, and then I still had a solid pick at #16 as well. I felt if we stayed put, I had the bigger risk of losing out on the guy I wanted -- I felt if we did the trade, he had a slimmer chance of losing out. I think making the trade overall, especially if Portland still gets Swanson at #6 will turn out to be a huge win-win for Portland... He would get his guy & still have picks at #12 & #16!

I decided to "Let's go for it"

My thoughts, the first 6 picks would go like this...

  • King Road picks Trevor Story at SS.
  • My Panthers would draft Andrew Benintendi.
  • Since Benintendi is off the board, Spring Branch will go with his LBDA choice of Julio Urias.
  • Swatara already has Trea Turner, who is returning to his natural SS position, he either will take an outfielder or SP, I believe he takes a SP, but who after Urias? After Urias, it could be a small handful of guys.... Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Kenta Maeda or Michael Fulmer
  • Buffalo will take much-needed SP to go along with Noah Syndergaard & Chris Archer in the rotation.
  • ... and Brad gets his guy Dansby Swanson for Portland at #6.
Before sending this post, I hope that Brad or any of the other owners won't be against such a post, I don't feel it violates a conversation between Brad or I, in which trade discussions run rampant in the league. I also don't want the other owners thinking that I was thinking they are predictable, because nothing is predictable when it comes to drafts & trades.... that's the beauty of it.

One question remains...
Did we get our guys? 
or (worst) did one of us lose out? 

Stay tuned for the follow-up to this article.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Scouting for the Upcoming Draft

One of a good handful of players (Trevor Story) that could go #1 overall on Draft Day.
One of my goals for this blog is to do more all-around pieces of everything APBA. Looking back at last year, I was not pleased that for the second consecutive year, I have done less blog pieces... Although my blog stats show that the blog has been gaining a bigger & bigger supportive audience over this span, I am still not satisfied on my end, with the production.

As my regular readers know, I also run a APBA Baseball computer league (through APBA Baseball for Windows) named 'The Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League' (Initials - BoS) with 16 owners (including myself) with 16 teams. We are now entering our 5th season, and are all preparing for our upcoming 2017 BoS Annual Draft.

This year's draft may be the most loaded-up draft yet, talent-wise. An amazing rookie class with many big-time prospects, plus plenty of free agent veterans are available as well. There is 6 guys that really could go #1 overall, legitimately -- So it will be interesting to see who goes #1 overall with the King Road Kings' selection at the top.

My team could contend for the division this year, if I truly like, and we will still give it a serious go, but our goal is to make the best team possible, so if that means grabbing the best player (upside) available, we will do it in a heartbeat, even if it means not taking the best player that can help now.

My Traverse City Panthers ended up trading both Josh Donaldson & Matt Carpenter before last year's mid-season trade deadline, and we still only ended up 5 games out of the division lead at season's end... Could we have won last year's division title? Possibly, but it really would not have been worth it, the team was getting longer in the tooth, and we needed to create franchise building blocks to help us become more successful in the future.

I was real happy with the return we got in both the Donaldson & Carpenter trades...

  • Josh Donaldson (3B) sent to Fairgrove Tigers along with Nori Aoki (OF) & TC's 6th Round Draft Pick in exchange for Nick Castellanos (3B), Yordana Ventura (SP) & Fairgrove's 1st Round Draft Pick (16th overall); We would later trade the late Ventura back to Fairgrove for that same 6th Round Pick.
  • Matt Carpenter (3B/2B/DH) sent to the San Diego Heroes in exchange for Brandon Drury (IF/OF), Daniel Norris (SP), Yasiel Puig (OF) & San Diego's 3rd Round Draft Pick.
Carpenter helped land some franchise building blocks for the Panthers.
The deal with Fairgrove allowed us to have two 1st Rounders in a loaded first round draft. We also acquired a good pitching prospect, along with a versatile Drury, plus re-acquired former 2014 BoS #1 overall pick Yasiel Puig; The 3rd Round Draft Pick will the equivalent of a 2nd Round pick in this year's draft. 

Our off-season leading up to the draft, started off slowly, as the Panthers traded probable-cut in Derek Dietrich (2B+) to the Portland Microbrewers in exchange for their 5th Round Draft Pick & Jesse Hahn (SP); We eventually traded similar deals, while shipping off other players like Josh Harrison (2B+), Alex Cobb (SP) & Jarrett Parker (OF) for a couple late draft picks. 

We would make a huge deal with the Seattle Rainiers...
  • Kelvin Herrera (RP), Masahiro Tanaka (SP) & San Diego's 3rd Round Draft Pick sent to Seattle, in exchange for Jonathan Lucroy (C), Yasmany Tomas (OF), Brad Miller (1B/SS), Alex Wood (SP) & the 2nd Round Draft Pick (that Seattle acquired in a previous trade with Corktown). 
Lucroy gives Panthers a strong, dependable presence behind the plate

We finally acquired a dependable full-time catcher in Jonathan Lucroy, while we add some power & OF arm in Yasmany Tomas; Brad Miller gives us flexibility to play some future 1B, while playing Miguel Cabrera as the DH. Alex Wood unfortunately did not make the cut for the pre-draft 28-man roster & was released; We'll hope to re-acquire him, all depending how the draft goes... Jesse Hahn was dealt the same fate as Woods. 

The team will have to do 4 post-draft cuts afterwards, but they now have plenty of picks, plenty of pieces to plug, especially with the 5 picks inside the 1st 3 rounds.

Looking at my depth chart, I have the luxury of taking many prospect & risks on high payoffs, and only really need to add some bullpen. I will be looking at the best player available with every pick... in the end, Traverse City may be sitting nice & pretty as a sleeping giant ready to pounce.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Fun with Side Projects

Hairston: One-Man Wrecking Machine.
Some of the action that transpired through my APBA projects this past weekend...

APBA 2K9 Project

For my blog followers, as you all know, my APBA 2K9 Project is the best cards of the players from each franchise between the 2009 & 2011 MLB Seasons; I thought about calling it the APBA 2K9-11 Project, but I didn't want people to read into 9-11 too much.

Scott Hairston has been gaining more & more playing time for the San Diego Padres, with players like Chris Denorfia & Will Venable struggling. The Pods also made him their new lead-off man entering their series with the tough Philadelphia Phillies, since their original lead-off man Everth Cabrera has struggled in that role.

That decision proved to be an excellent move, he went 2-for-4 in the 2nd game with a double; It was during the 3rd game that Hairston has officially made him a everyday starter...

Top of the 3rd, he added to the Padres lead with a RBI double... then in the 5th, he smacked a two-run homer off of Phillies starter J.A. Happ. During the top of the 7th, he led off the inning with a triple off of Chan Ho Park -- which led to a 3-run inning, giving the Padres a 7-3 lead at Citizens Bank Ballpark. It would be during the 8th inning that Scott Hairston would make a little history, smacking a single off of reliever Clay Condrey....

Scott Hairston hit for the CYCLE!

I have done this maybe 4-5 times tops, the last one came from Josh Gibson (for the 1935 Pittsburgh Crawfords) against the 1942 St. Louis Cardinals in my Crazy 48's Project. I have had more no-hitters in my APBA life than cycles, I have rolled close to 20 now, but of course, I do nothing but tons of solitaire projects... so of course, eventually a no-no will pop up; I have never thrown a no-no against an actual human opponent in the dice world, one on one... but back in high school one of my buddies did do it (against me) with Jim Abbott in our inaugural 1991 Season APBA league of 10 teams.

APBA Royalty: Cone put together back-to-back historic performances, back in the day.

In my brother Jared's APBA league, I did something amazing with David Cone, I pitched a no-hitter with Cone as a Royal... his next start, he went to extras & threw for 25 K's! We did a lot of unrealistic things in that league, like starting J-4 Francisco Cabrera, which he hit 27 HR's in 35 games, while my Braves started off 31-4 & Greg Maddux won every start through that point, with a ERA barely over 1.00... LOL! I definitely play with a more realistic approach to the projects now.

Anyways, back to the 2K9 Project....

I also played a double-header between the New York Yankees & Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays were in first entering this thing, but the Yankees would go ahead in both games during the 9th innings, as the Jays' pen keeps imploding -- this time (both games) with Jason Frasor (A-XYZ), giving up 6 earned runs (3 HRs) in 2 innings of work! The last one, being a three-run blast by Alex Rodriguez. These Yankees are loaded with power, for example Hideki Matsui (.879 OPS in 2009) has been hitting 7th in this lineup; The team currently has 15 home runs in 7 games, with 5 players with 2+ HRs each (A-Rod leads way with 3 HR) -- Nick Swisher bats 9th & has 2 HR & 8 RBI, while he is currently batting .364 (8-for-22)!

2K9 Beasts: The New York Yankees will be tough to beat, all year!

Back to the Padres-Phillies series -- Adrian Gonzalez (SD) hit his 4th & 5th HR, while he has 11 RBI for the season... Pedro Feliz (Phillies) went 5-for-7, 2 HR, 2B, SF & 7 RBI in his last 2 games, while filling in for injured Placido Polanco.

Crazy 48's Project - "Battle by the Bay"

The 1993 San Francisco Giants (11-17) & the 2002 Oakland Athletics (9-19) are at the bottom of the Jeter (Stripes IV) Division in the Stripes League; San Francisco all year long has been a streaky bunch plagued with injuries to players & currently hold a 7-game losing streak, while Oakland just has a hard time scoring runs.

The Crazy 48's League has 48 teams playing a 48-game season, with 4 divisions in each league, while the top seeded 8 teams (all division winners automatically clinch playoffs) in each league, go on to the playoffs. The remainder of the schedule will be down to division match-ups, so some of these division bottom-dwellers can start making up some ground now, with little room for mistakes.

Zito was in command for awhile until the wheels came off.
A day after I rolled a cycle with Hairston in the other project, Barry Zito for the "Moneyball" Athletics was pitching a no-no through 7 innings, although he did allow 4 walks in those inning, while Oakland had a 2-0 lead off of a two-run 2nd Inning double by Terrance Long. The wheels ended up coming off in the 8th inning as the Giants' #8 hitter Darren Lewis led the inning off with a double, followed by an RBI double by weak-hitting 2B (filling in for injured Robby Thompson); Royce Clayton, the 3rd hitter of the inning, smacked a RBI single to right, to tie the game, as Willie McGee collected a single. 4 consecutive hits off of Zito, after none allowed the 1st 7 innings, and he has yet to collect an out. The Giants would add a sac fly by Matt Williams, to give the Giants a 3-2 lead.... Todd Benzinger would hit a 9th Inning insurance HR during the top of the 9th, to help the Giants to an eventual victory.

For Benzinger (filling in for an injured Will Clark), it was actually his 1st HR in the season (29th game of season), which is pretty late considered the pop he has on his 1993 APBA card.

Injuries was the early focus in this series, as the series started off with Will Clark & Robby Thompson on the disabled list for the first two games in Oakland... while the Oakland Athletics were without Eric Chavez for the first 2 games as well.

With their Game 1 victory, the Giants snapped a 7-game losing streak, that seems to be the theme with this Giants team, untimely injuries & quite streaky. They started the season 3-0, then lost 6 straight, then won 6 straight & now they just got over a 7-game skid; These Giants have the potential to be one of the toughest teams, and then other days they just don't show up.

San Francisco would win Game 2, led again by the worst two bats in their lineup in Darren Lewis (2-for-4, 2 runs & SB) & Mike Benjamin (2-for-4, two-run double), as the Giants win 5-3.

Beck, one of the more solid closers in his day.
The series shifted across the bay to Candlestick Park, as Eric Chavez hits a home run in his very first at-bat from injury, for his 5th HR of the season, he is tied with Miguel Tejada for the team lead in RBI with 19 RBI. That would be all the highlights for Oakland though, as they lose 2-1, as the Giants once again score their runs late (7th & 8th innings) to steal another away from Oakland.

Oakland would be shutout in the last game, as Jim Deshaies pitched 7.1 innings of shutout ball, the Giants fared no better (with only 3 hits), as the Giants win 1-0; Rod Beck entered the series with only 4 saves for the season & would double his amount to 8, as he was called upon the entire series sweep of their bay rivals. Bill Swift logged the series opener victory in his start, and during his one inning of relief in Game 3, he logged another victory; Swift is 6-1 with a 2.74 ERA for the season.

The 2002 Athletics now have the worst record among all 48 teams of the Crazy 48's, with a 9-23 (.281 pct) record; The 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers (8-20/.286 pct) have a slightly better record. The Giants, meanwhile, are now 15-17 with some slight postseason hope, but are still a few games from the edge of the playoff bubble that is being controlled by teams that are consistently better, such as the 1953 New York Yankees (17-11) -- who still need to play their current series against the 1971 Oakland Athletics.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Game #100 (APBA 2K9 Project)

Nelson Cruz (center) has 5 HR for the Rangers in 8 games.
The APBA 2K9 Project has just finished its 100th game of the season (April 12th), with the Pittsburgh Pirates' 4-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. The APBA 2K9 Project is the best cards from the 2009, 2010 & 2011 APBA Baseball Seasons, with the player representing the team he spent the most time with during that period.

We had a good jump start on the season prior to the Chicagoland Summer Tournament, but then slowed down with other projects, while the holidays took over. Now we have picked things up by playing a few games tonight.

This is how both league's standings appear...

The Oakland Athletics ended the Los Angeles Angels' 5-0 start, and now have a 5-game winning streak of their own;The Milwaukee Brewers have won 5 straight as well (N.L.'s longest streak) while the Arizona Diamondbacks have been a huge surprise in the N.L. West.

The N.L. East looks to be a dog fight & is currently close from top-to-bottom, while the Houston Astros are still looking for their 1st victory of the season at 0-7.

***  Still to Come.... Greater Michigan APBA Baseball weekend posts!  ***

Monday, March 13, 2017

Odd Birds

As word is breaking out about 40+ participants already signed up for next year's 4th Annual Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (GMABT IV), people are picking the teams they feel have the best shots at next year's title.

2018's GMABT theme will be 'Only 1973-Present American League Teams (DH Era)'

I was late a few times on my selection, I turned in my slip for the 1987 Detroit Tigers at the event, to find out, I just missed out on them by a half-hour. I got home, and the very next morning I saw that the 2001 Seattle Mariners were still open (or I thought) -- the list just wasn't updated yet, my friend Darren Schulz beat me to the punch.

The Picking Process

Tough Choice: Hosmer & KC out.
It's strange where choices lead to, I just bought both the 1993 & 1997 APBA Baseball Season sets recently off of GMABT III Finalist & APBA HOF'er Greg Wells for a total of twenty bucks. While I was digging through Baseball Reference for my A.L. choice, I looked over numerous teams, I glanced over the 1979 Milwaukee Brewers and the 1981 Detroit Tigers (which I acquired the 1981 APBA Baseball set off of my good friend Kenneth Heard)... The Tigers offense lacked punch, while the Brew Crew had plenty of punch, but a B-C-C rotation would be tournament suicide.

I looked over other teams, and I never really even got to 2000 & beyond on Baseball Ref, I think I knew I wanted something prior to 2001, except I did look awfully long at the 2015 Kansas City Royals, but I remember numerous people that have played that team have had some bad luck. 

While looking over the Royals, my newly acquired 1997 set was in front of me, and I quickly noticed the Baltimore envelope in front of me, went through the packet and noticed plenty of 22-7 & 44-7's at the top part of the order, decided to go back to Baseball Ref and see if the stats were great, and the top 6 of the lineup is exactly how I remembered it, this could be a fun & gritty team.

The Roster

A deep veteran-laced ball club that is strong in fundamentals, led by Cal Ripken (left).

All B rotation with 2 Z's, led by Mike Mussina's B-XZ, plus 3 'A' relievers in Armando Benitez, Jesse Orosco & Randy Myers, plus a B reliever in Arthur Rhodes.

The lineup will likely go as follows / Fielding 41 when Mussina pitches:
  1. Brady Anderson (CF) - .288 AVG, 18 HR, 73 RBI & 18 SB (.863 OPS)
  2. Robby Alomar (2B) - .333 AVG, 14 HR, 60 RBI & 9 SB (.890 OPS)
  3. Harold Baines (DH) - .301 AVG, 16 HR, 67 RBI (.832 OPS)
  4. Rafael Palmeiro (1B) - .254 AVG, 38 HR, 110 RBI (.815 OPS)
  5. B.J. Surhoff (LF) - .284 AVG, 18 HR, 88 RBI (.803 OPS)
  6. Cal Ripken (3B) - .270 AVG, 17 HR, 84 RBI (.733 OPS)
  7. Chris Hoiles (C) - .259 AVG, 12 HR, 49 RBI (.794 OPS)
  8. Jeffrey Hammonds (RF) - .264 AVG, 21 HR, 55 RBI & 15 SB (.809 OPS)
  9. Mike Bordick (SS) - .236 AVG, 7 HR & 46 RBI (.601 OPS)
47 combined All-Star appearances for the above, and that's not counting the fact that Chris Hoiles never played in an All-Star Game, while Mike Bordick & Jeffrey Hammonds has. It is pretty astonishing that Hoiles never got such an honor, while his career produced 23.4 WAR & .833 OPS!

Geronimo Berroa will be an interesting bench option, he will not split time at DH with Baines, but if I do get in desperate need for some offense, I would sacrifice defense by taking Bordick out of the lineup, move Surhoff from left to third, Ripken from third to short & place Berroa in left. 

The lineup is fielding, a fielding 2 when Key & Erickson pitch regardless -- by taking Bordick out of the lineup, the team is still a fielding 2. I may just play Bordick, when Mike Mussina pitches.

Geronimo Berroa's 1998 Leaf Baseball Card.

Lineup with Geronimo Berroa (minus Bordick):
  1. Brady Anderson (CF) - .288 AVG, 18 HR, 73 RBI & 18 SB (.863 OPS)
  2. Robby Alomar (2B) - .333 AVG, 14 HR, 60 RBI & 9 SB (.890 OPS)
  3. Harold Baines (DH) - .301 AVG, 16 HR, 67 RBI (.832 OPS)
  4. Rafael Palmeiro (1B) - .254 AVG, 38 HR, 110 RBI (.815 OPS)
  5. B.J. Surhoff (3B) - .284 AVG, 18 HR, 88 RBI (.803 OPS)
  6. Geronimo Berroa (LF) - .283 AVG, 26 HR, 90 RBI (.836 OPS)
  7. Cal Ripken (SS) - .270 AVG, 17 HR, 84 RBI (.733 OPS)
  8. Jeffrey Hammonds (RF) - .264 AVG, 21 HR, 55 RBI & 15 SB (.809 OPS)
  9. Chris Hoiles (C) - .259 AVG, 12 HR, 49 RBI (.794 OPS)
The remarkable thing with this lineup (above), is that there are only two players (Ripken & Hoiles) who are below an .800 OPS... this lineup has the strength to rake, as long as I am rolling hot.

The Bench
  1. Eric Davis (OF) - .304 AVG, 8 HR, 25 RBI & 6 SB (.883 OPS) in 158 at-bats.
  2. Jerome Walton (OF) - .294 AVG, 3 HR & 9 RBI (.775 OPS) in 68 at-bats.
  3. Aaron Ledesma (IF) - .352 AVG, 2 HR & 11 RBI (.937 OPS) in 88 at-bats.
Aaron Ledesma's card is very interesting with 22-7, 44-7 & 55-7, plus a 42-9, 35-9 & 62-14, providing 3 trips to second columns, with 8 1's. Eric Davis & Jerome Walton are single-column cards that provide good pop (Davis: 11-5, 33-5, 66-1 & 22-6).

The rotation will feature: 
  1. Mike Mussina (B-XZ): 15-8, 3.20 ERA, 218 K / 54 BB & 1.117 WHIP (224.2 IP)
  2. Scott Erickson (B-Z): 16-7, 3.69 ERA, 131 K / 61 BB & 1.259 WHIP (221.2 IP)
  3. Jimmy Key (B-Y): 16-10, 3.43 ERA, 141 K / 82 BB & 1.375 WHIP (212.1 IP)
Erickson, Mussina & Key stretching out their legs & preparing for 2018.

It appears that Manager Davey Johnson went 4 strong with Mussina, Erickson, Key & Scott Kamienicki for most part -- The 5th slot of the rotation was numerous APBA tourney rejects; Unfortunately Kamienicki does not make the cut as a flat Grade C Starter, I have no real reason to have him on the roster, it would be something else if he was a lefty, I could use him in that role (but not necessary). With Ledesma's hot J-4 card, I will also leave vet infielder Jeff Reboulet off the roster -- Reboulet by far is the better fielder, but is a liability at the plate with his .636 OPS.

The Bullpen
  • Arthur Rhodes (B*-XYZ): 10-3, 3.02 ERA, 1 SV, 102 K / 26 BB & 1.059 WHIP (95.1 IP)
  • Armando Benitez (A*-XYW): 4-5, 2.45 ERA, 9 SV, 106 K / 43 BB & 1.255 WHIP (73.1 IP)
  • Jesse Orosco (A*-XW): 6-3, 2.32 ERA, 46 K / 30 BB & 1.172 WHIP (50.1 IP)
  • Randy Myers (A&C*-X): 2-3, 1.51 ERA, 45 SV, 56 K / 22 BB & 1.156 WHIP (59.2 IP)
My strategy with the bullpen will come down to what part of the lineup that I am facing in late-game situations, if its the weaker part of the lineups, I will have the W's (Orosco & Benitez), while I will have Rhodes battle more with the tougher outs. The goal is no easy base-runners, simple outs.

The Challenge

When I look more & more at this team, and while I have been putting this blog piece together even, I feel very comfortable about my 2018 GMABT IV pick. I know my pick of the 1997 Baltimore Orioles wasn't ideal, nor were they a personal favorite. Sure... I didn't go for safer choices, I feel picking teams like this, really makes you a better APBA manager & gives a manager a bigger challenge.

There are some participants that pick strictly 'safe' choices every single tournament & then they play 'APBA-Ball' by placing lineups that were completely not used by those actually teams, placing all their OBP & OPS at the very top of the lineup.... to me, that's just completely unrealistic, while at the same time, how can that even be satisfying?

I think this team could be very similar to my choice of the 1993 Atlanta Braves, I have pretty set lineups, rotations & solid pens. 

1997 Orioles are looking forward to celebrating in March 2018.
I found out after my first few tournaments with the 1912 New York Giants & 1917 Chicago White Sox, that juggling lineups while in the middle of tournament action does not lead to any consistency, I feel when I have played with consistent lineups in the past, I have had far better luck.

The main goal is to always have fun at these tournaments, but I would be lying (and others would be lying) if I was to say that winning it all, is not on my agenda.

Forever Linked: GMABT II Champion

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Rolling Again in Michigan! (GMABT III Results)

Group photo of the GMABT III Participants.
They say third time's a charm, and for me (and for many others) that may have been the case, I felt it was the best Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament yet -- this coming from the guy who won last year's event! It was extra special for me, because I brought my lovely wife, Becky Baier to the event this time; She had the privilege to witness me in my APBA Baseball haven, among my APBA brethren. The funny thing is, I barely got any sleep the night before & we had to leave by the time the playoffs was kicking off... yet, I still had the best time!

Once again the event was top notch, thanks to my friend, Pastor Rich Zawadzki who knows how to run a smooth tournament. My wife mentioned that everyone was "Warm, kind & welcoming" and she couldn't have said it better, it's good to hear this from someone who is on the outside looking in -- Entering this she didn't know Joe from Jane, but she enjoyed meeting many of my APBA friends, and understands why this tournament is special to me & those around me.

This year's theme was 'Deadball Teams' between 1901-1919' -- 38 total teams, broken down in 6 divisions; 3 Division Winners & 1 Wild Card playoff team representing each side of the bracket -- 8 teams get in, and shoot for their attempt to be part of Greater Michigan history.

Here is the results of the opening Round Robin...

On the left side of the bracket, the top seed went to Greg Wells' 1909 Chicago Cubs, who went 6-2; Wells is no stranger to APBA Baseball or APBA Tournament success, he is a APBA Hall of Fame Member, has won the APBA National Tournament (at least once) & has won both of the Linda B. Schulz (Pittsburgh) APBA Baseball Tournaments (hosted by my friend Ken Schulz). I'm not sure or aware of any other successes in APBA Baseball that he may be involved with, but there could be more; His son Brian Wells participated in the 1st GMABT, and like his old man, he is also a APBA Hall of Fame winner & APBA National Tournament winner.

I would purchase the 1993 & 1997 APBA Baseball sets off Wells at this event for a total of $20. Many guys were unloading APBA sets & team sets at this event... even Strat-o-Matic cards! Shhh...Don't tell Big Brother! Although, I didn't talk long with Greg, I do hope he returns in the future, so that people like myself can get to know him more in the future. That's what I love about these events, getting to know more & more people that share the same passion for this great game. By the way, the purchase would lead to my GMABT IV Team selection, more to come on that (in a future blog).

L to R: Wendell Watkins, Egan, Kelley, Darren Schulz & Beckman of Mathewson Division.
My friend Wendell Watkins would have to face Wells in the 1st Round as the left side's wild card winner; His team would be the 4th seeded 1916 Boston Braves. I had the privilege of facing Wendell in my first GMABT, while in the second tourney I had to face his 1969 Baltimore Orioles in the playoffs; Rich Z had to fill in for him as manager, as Wendell & his brother David Watkins (another stand-up guy) had to catch their train.

Steve Ryan's 1915 White Sox (left) hosting Randy Egan's 1913 Athletics.
Randy Egan (above in the two pics) won the Christy Mathewson Division with a 5-3 record (Watkins came out of same division as the wild card); The division had a three-way tie at top with a 5-3 record, it was Jack Beckman's 1908 Detroit Tigers that ended up being the odd team out. Egan (#3 seed) would have to be on the road against Steve Ryan's #2 seed 1915 Chicago White Sox. I also had the privilege of talking to Steve briefly, we have been Facebook friends (but never met in person prior), I have seen him & his name all over the APBA-verse from time to time -- Come to find out, we have been in a computer league named the NXPL (No Expansion Professional League) for the last 3 seasons, and I didn't realize it, hahaha!

While the left-side of the bracket was kicking things off, on the right-side we had the following 1st-round action taking place....

The top seed on the right side, belonged to the youngest playoff contender in Camron Shaffer, with his 1916 Brooklyn Robins, going 7-1 (best record among all GMABT III Playoff contenders). Shaffer is the grandson of Robert Mosher, who both are no strangers to the GMABT Playoffs, I played both of them in my championship drive last year -- while Mosher has made the playoffs every year of the GMABT's existence, so far! Mosher brought it to my attention, that the last two years, his teams have been sent packing by a Baier; My brother Chris eliminated his 1985 St. Louis Cardinals & then I defeated his 1988 New York Mets, 13-6 in the GMABT II Championship Game.

Grandson & Grandpa: 5 GMABT Playoff Appearances combined (3 years).
After both Grandson & Grandfather made history last year, by both throwing no-hitters... this year, they made history again, as it was Grandson vs Grandfather in the opening round! Mosher would be the #4 seed (Wild Card) with his 1918 Boston Red Sox (5-3).

The winner of the 'Mosher Family Playoff Championship' would have to play the winners of #3 seed Aaron Radlinski (1902 Pittsburgh Pirates / 5-3) at #2 seed Ken Schulz's 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates, who won our Walter Johnson Division, with a 6-2 record.

There was plenty of love for the Pittsburgh Pirates at this tournament, through competition...

  • 1901 Pittsburgh Pirates (Shawn Baier)
  • 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates (Aaron Radlinski)
  • 1908 Pittsburgh Pirates (Phillip Silvis)
  • 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates (Ken Schulz)
  • 1912 Pittsburgh Pirates (Darren Schulz)
... while many Pirates fans made the trip to Jackson, Michigan from Pennsylvania in the form of two families, the Schulz boys (Ken & Darren) & the Silvis family (Brian & Kate, plus their son Phillip).

Ken Schulz & Radlinski (foreground), with Darren Schulz & Ron Emch (back end table, L-R).
Speaking of the Silvis family, big props to Kate Silvis who filled in admirably for Dave Rueck's 1913 New York Giants; Dave could not join us due to a family matter (Prayers & thoughts with his family). Brian & Kate's son Phillip Silvis brought the 1908 Pittsburgh Pirates, he is part of the new wave of young APBA players among Camron Shaffer (mentioned above) & Zander Robetoy (1915 Detroit Tigers). 
From L-to-R: Zander Robetoy, Phillip Silvis & Camron Shaffer.

1st Round Results:
  • 1909 Chicago Cubs (Greg Wells) defeats 1916 Boston Braves (Wendell Watkins).
  • 1913 Philadelphia Athletics (Randy Egan) defeats 1915 Chicago White Sox (Steve Ryan).
  • 1916 Brooklyn Robins (Camron Shaffer) defeats 1918 Boston Red Sox (Robert Mosher).
  • 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates (Aaron Radlinski) defeats 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates (Ken Schulz).

After the dust settled in the 1st Round, the Final Four appeared as this...

The 1909 Chicago Cubs (Greg Wells) would go on to defeat Randy Egan's 1913 Athletics, while on the other side, Aaron Radlinski's 1902 Pirates would stop the young phenom Camron Shaffer from advancing any further, with his 1916 Brooklyn Robins

Randy Egan (13' Athletics) vs Greg Wells (1909 Cubs)

Camron Shaffer (1916 Brooklyn Robins) vs Aaron Radlinski (1902 Pirates).

Then there was two: Aaron Radlinski against Greg Wells.
The GMABT III Championship 

The final game came down to Aaron Radlinski against the Hall-of-Famer Greg Wells, not to take anything away from Aaron's trip to the finale, I believe anyone that has to go against Wells, would have be considered the underdog in such a match-up. The game would be a low-scoring squeaker, with Aaron's 1902 Pittsburgh Pirates clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the 9th; Cubs had two quick outs, but then came the dice, a triple, then a walk & the very next batter would be a dice-roll of 65! So close for Wells, but Radlinski wins this one!

Congrats to Aaron Radlinski, as this year's GMABT Champion, out of 38 contenders, he stands alone at the top... Also congrats to Rich Zawadzki for throwing an excellent tournament!

More GMABT III Action to come...
  • Consolation Tournament Results
  • Plenty of Photos
  • My wife's blog piece 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hall Chat Between Brothers

So during one of my previous blog posts, I mentioned that my little bro Chris messaged me about the Hall of Fame Inductions & as always, this time of year, we went over some interesting cases for the Hall or 'close-enough, but no cigar' choices.

Through the years, it's become an interesting ballot for me. There was a time that I argued in support for those like Jack Morris until I was red in the face, as the years passed on, my case for Morris has somewhat diminished... then there are other cases that I used to scoff at, such as the case for Dave Parker, which gains more & more steam for me, while I also have found the stats to back such a case.

In this post, we will go over our email discussion and where I sit with the following players, I will also go over my case for others & what my current ballot looks like. The on-the-fence guys that I want to go over are some of the following players: Parker, Vada Pinson, Tony Oliva, Bill Madlock & others....

First off, let's start with Dave Parker...

  • .290 Career Batting Average
  • 2-Time N.L. Batting Champion.
  • 1978 N.L. MVP Season: Batting Title (.334), while leading league in Slugging & OPS.
  • Career OBP (.339) not superb, but better than Andre Dawson's (Hall of Famer) .323 OBP, while Dawson was a career .279 hitter; Parker's career .810 OPS also edges Dawson's .806
  • 7-Time All-Star with 3 Gold Gloves.
  • 2,774 career hits
Andre Dawson & Gary Carter's HOF Inductions opened many doors to many debates, that said, I do believe they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame... I just think it has created more murky Hall discussions, and makes more cases for players like Vada Pinson, for example. Speaking of Pinson, I believe what hurts him compared to the likes of Parker & Dawson is the lack of HR & power, his career OPS+ stands at 111+, compared to Dawson's 119+ & Parker's 121+. 

Dawson opening doors.
Of course, not everybody has power that is in the Hall of Fame, like Luis Aparicio and Ozzie Smith -- then again, most of those powerless, lack of offense guys were usually slick-fielding shortstops and not from a position like the outfield that usually packs power. It seems unfair that players like Omar Vizquel tend to gain more traction in this disputes (over players like Pinson) for not fielding at a tougher position.

I think the major thing that is hurting Bill Madlock, another Pirate that tends to be brought up in Hall of Fame debates, is the fact that he only averaged 120 games per season. Obviously, if he was to play at least another 20 games per season, he would have seen a hike in his 2,008 career hits -- if he was closer to the 3,000 hits side of the spectrum, he would get more leeway in the argument. Other than those negatives, his positives speak loudly in his career Batting Average (.305), On-Base Percentage (.365) & OPS (.830); His OPS & OPS+ (123+) was actually better than Dave Parker (.810 / 121+)... who would have ever thought such a thing?! Madlock was a gifted hitter that won 4 batting titles, the most times for a non-Hall of Fame Inductee.

Madlock's 3 All-Star Appearances does not seem like a lot, but he did win an All-Star MVP Game Honors once. People also need to keep in mind, that he was often overshadowed by talented teammates & the N.L. just featured many talented All-Stars, it's tough to make the All-Star Game on the N.L. side, when you have to compete against a player named Mike Schmidt every single season.

Tony Oliva honored with statue outside Target Field.
Then there is Tony Oliva, his name is praised by many that watched him play in his day, many speak volumes of Oliva. What jumps out quickly is his career 131 OPS+, which is 10 more than Parker's 121+ and 12 more than Andre Dawson! The knocker is the fact that he was off-the-charts stellar for only a seven-year arc from 1964-1971. Then again, his drop-off in 1972 & the remainder of his career was due to obvious knee & shoulder injuries that plagued him. Another amazing fact about Oliva is the simple fact that he produced these amazing stats during the "second deadball era".

Oliva was an 8-time A.L. All-Star, with 3 career Batting Titles (1964-65, 1971) and may have won 3 straight batting titles if it were not for a 3-for-30 slump in the middle of September in 1966; Oliva also won the 1964 A.L. Rookie of the Year Award & a Gold Glove in his tremendous career.

I was glad to see that Tim Raines finally got the recognition that he has long deserved, by being inducted in the 2017 Hall of Fame class, along with Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez & Jeff Bagwell. Raines has long been overlooked, and I question sometimes if the sports writers hold grudges against players who have played with numerous teams. The sports writer seems to be infatuated with players that have played their careers mostly for one team. 

Another player who played for numerous teams, that belongs in the Hall of Fame, is Fred McGriff. McGriff played for 7 MLB teams during his career, while his longest stint was actually with the Atlanta Braves (4 1/2 years), not the Toronto Blue Jays (4 years). Most folks including myself, a fan of the 1990's Atlanta Braves & a former owner of a McGriff Braves' T-Shirt, think of him as a Blue Jay though.

Serious Crime: Why McGriff belongs...
  • Just shy of 2,500 career hits (2,490)
  • Just shy of the magical lock-in Hall number of 500 homers (493).
  • Career .284 hitter 
  • 5-Time All-Star (All-Star Game MVP)
  • 3-Time Silver Slugger
  • 1,550 Career RBI
  • .377 career On-Base Percentage (above all players mentioned above, including Oliva).
  • .886 Career OPS
  • 134 OPS+

As a full-time player, McGriff dipped below an .800 OPS only once! His incredible consistency seemed to play against him, which is simply odd in my opinion, I am not sure if it's because he was not an obnoxious, arrogant slugger like Barry Bonds, the whole not-staying-in-one-place thing, or the fact he had no flash to his game... but he did everything that was asked of him as a big leaguer, and it's a complete crime against Baseball that McGriff is not in the Hall of Fame.

Other players that need to be simply in....
  • Alan Trammell & Lou Whitaker (MLB's greatest & longest DP combination from the Detroit Tigers).
  • Edgar Martinez - He should be in before David Ortiz (due to Ortiz's HGH connections); Had 5 Seasons over 1.000 OPS, while his career OPS is .933, while his OPS+ was 141!
  • Larry Walker - Coors seems to be playing against him.
  • Albert Belle - It was a short career (but so was Ralph Kiner's), but it is a no-brainer that his bad relationship with the press has come back to bite him.
Coming up in a future article, we got more 80's stars in Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy & Keith Hernandez and where I think they stack up -- plus why are the 1980's stars often overlooked?

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