Sunday, December 31, 2017

81' Tigers Keep Rolling in May

Tigers' closer has 9 Saves through 40 games.

My 1981 Detroit Tigers keep rolling through the month of May, as they are now 28-12 through their first 40 games of the season -- 16-5 during the month of May.

The Tigers just got done splitting a four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles, meaning the Orioles could not gain any ground on the first-place Tigers.

Here's a look at the A.L. East Standings...

  • Detroit Tigers (28-12) - Won 1, +82 scoring differential.
  • Baltimore Orioles (24-14), 3 GB - Lost 1, +38 scoring differential.
  • Cleveland Indians (21-13), 4 GB - +17 scoring differential.
  • Milwaukee Brewers (22-17), 5.5 GB, +18 scoring differential.
  • Boston Red Sox (22-18), 6 GB, -2 scoring differential.
  • New York Yankees (19-20), 8.5 GB, + 6 scoring differential.
  • Toronto Blue Jays (12-30), 17 GB, -48 scoring differential.
and the A.L. West Standings...
  • Oakland Athletics (28-17)
  • Texas Rangers (21-17), 3.5 GB
  • Chicago White Sox (20-17), 4 GB
  • California Angels (20-24), 7.5 GB
  • Kansas City Royals (12-21), 10 GB
  • Seattle Mariners (13-27), 12.5 GB
  • Minnesota Twins (12-27), 13 GB
The Tigers just finished a 12-game home stretch & now will start their road trip with a 4-game series in Milwaukee; The Brewers will be a tough match-up, and are looking to climb the division standings.

Due to the recent double-header against the Baltimore Orioles, the Tigers have to do an emergency start with Aurelio Lopez against Milwaukee's Jim Slaton; Lopez has a perfect ERA in 22.1 scoreless innings.

The Detroit Tigers' bullpen has been stellar, allowing a combined 13 earned runs in 86.1 innings this season, making a lean 1.36 ERA.
  • Kevin Saucier: 3-0, 2.08 ERA, 9 SV, 19 K, 7 BB & .692 WHIP in 26 innings.
  • Dave Tobik: 3-2, 1.66 ERA, 1 SV, 9 K, 9 BB & .816 WHIP in 38 innings.
  • Aurelio Lopez: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 16 K, 6 BB & .627 WHIP in 22.1 innings.
The lineup slumped as of recent, with their team batting average dropping from .273 to .267, but that has not stopped Lance Parrish's powerful bat, as he has clobbered 15 HR & 33 RBI during his first 40 games. 

The team is rolling in all areas, as their team pitching ERA is only 2.47 to go along with their respectable hitting.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tigers off to 24-10 start (1981 Tigers Replay)

Tom Brookens playing the Hot Corner for Detroit.
My Detroit Tigers are off to an excellent start during our 1981 Detroit Tigers Season Replay (24-10) compared to real-life 16-18 start.

The team is doing well with the bat (.273 batting average) and on the mound (2.35 ERA). The top five hitters in our lineup (Whitaker, Trammell, Kemp, Parrish & Gibson) are strong, especially Steve Kemp (.338 BA, 2 HR & 21 RBI) who has an amazing .443 On-Base Percentage (.924 OPS). Lance Parrish led the Tigers with 10 HR in 1981 through 109 games, he already has 13 HR for me, through only 34 games (which leads the team as well).

The biggest surprise on offense may be Tom Brookens, who already has 21 RBI for the Tigers (tied for 2nd on the team with Gibson); Brookens in real-life only had 25 RBI in all of 1981.

On the pitching side, Dan Petry finally lost his first game, as his record is now 6-1, with a 1.96 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 69 innings. Newly-named Hall of Famer Jack Morris (4-2, 2.41 ERA) has really settled down, while Milt Wilcox has now strung together a few wins to even up his record (4-4, 2.79 ERA). Dave Rozema (5-1, 3.65 ERA) has not pitched like a 'D' starter in APBA. 

The closer Kevin Saucier (2.49 ERA) leads the team with 8 Saves, while Aurelio Lopez (Grade C-Y in relief) has not allowed a single run in 21.1 innings yet.

The Tigers have won 8 of their last 10 games & has won 11 of their last 14 games, which included a season-high 6-game winning streak. The team is currently playing the Texas Rangers.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone's holidays will be a good one, although this time of year can be a great time for many families, it can also be a hectic one with emotions & stress levels on high. I hope this is not the case for many of my readers.

I have finally started rolling dice again (for APBA) -- the first time in at least three months. I rolled about 5-6 games the last two days, and have been continuing my 1981 Detroit Tigers project, we are 24-10 through 34 games... in comparison, the real Tigers were only 16-18 at this point.

There will be more about this project in the next week or so, until then....

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!


Not my home... LOL!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

2014 Detroit Tigers Preview (Out of the Park)

Scherzer to stay with Tigers through 2018 at least. 
So one of my few Out of the Park Developments projects, was trying to take the 2012 Detroit Tigers and the teams that followed to World Championship success.

2012 was safe to say, a disaster, I made all the moves necessary (featured in Daddy's Got a New Ride & Tigers Off to a Solid Start) for the 2013 season, and felt we made the right moves after rolling to a solid start, the first two months, but then the team slid to a 81-81 finish, falling a game short to the division champion Chicago White Sox (82-80).

So it was back to the drawing board, we started by making Max Scherzer, priority number one, for obvious reasons. I did not want to repeat the real Tigers mistakes, although in all fairness I have missed getting them to the playoffs completely, while the real-life Tigers made the playoffs from 2011-2014.

Scherzer, who was due for a raise via arbitration, I decided to jump quickly and extend his contract. Scherzer's camp came back wanting a 10-year deal worth $171,210,000 -- which was a no-brainer, getting Scherzer and his talent for $17.12 million per year is quite a deal, considering what other pitchers are making with less talent; He does have a player option, and could use that after the 2017 MLB Season. We have Max for 4 more seasons at least, and that makes me very happy.

Bullpen has been our serious problem (what a surprise), and we made all the steps necessary to correct that problem. We re-signed Jesse Crain, who did well for us in 2013, to a 2-yr deal worth a total of $5.2 million. Dellin Betances and Brandon Kintzler, are 2013 Rule 5 Picks are now full-time Detroit Tigers, and will only get better after awful 2013 seasons for us.

One of our biggest signings is bringing back Andrew Miller to the Tigers. Miller was drafted by the Tigers 6th overall in the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft, and was a huge trade piece to the Florida Marlins to acquire Miguel Cabrera; His first time in Detroit was an overall disappointment. He would become one of the game's absolute best relievers, so when I saw his relatively cheap price tag, I had to go for him -- We would land him for 5 years / $12.8 million ($2.56 million per year).

Back in the D: Andrew Miller returns to the Tigers for better time around.
We also brought back Joaquin Benoit, a move I thought I would not be able to do, I found that he was actually affordable at $6.7 million (over two seasons)... I also made this move due to bringing back a legit reliever, Betances is not quite ready (but likely will be next season) to become the closer, and I like Miller in the setup role, and plan to use him much in the way that the Cleveland Indians used him during the 2016 season.

This is how the bullpen plans to be played out...

  • Closer - Joaquin Benoit
  • Setup - Dellin Betances (8th inning)
  • Setup - Andrew Miller (7th or later)
  • Setup - Jesse Crain (6th Inning)
  • Brandon Kintzler (Middle Relief)
  • Al Alburquerque (Middle Relief)
  • Phil Coke (Left Hand Specialist)
  • RP - Luis Marte (Relief depth)
Before we get onto the other signings, I must mention some of the deals to help shed some payroll, starting with Jhonny Peralta; We traded Peralta ($17.2 million) to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for SS-Zack Cozart ($820,000) & a minor league reliever Tyler Burgoon

We knew we were going to sign a starting pitcher a bit cheaper than Doug Fister, and we felt we had a deal lined up that will save a little money while landing a prospect. I traded Fister to the Houston Astros, along with minor league RP-Ryan Woolley in exchange for Lance McCullers Jr. 

We decided to go for starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, signing him to a 7-year deal worth $48.02 million ($6.86 million per year), hoping that he may take the player option after the 2016 MLB Season.

Gallardo joins the Tigers' rotation as the #3 starter. 
With this signing our rotation looks like this...
  • Max Scherzer 
  • Justin Verlander
  • Yovani Gallardo
  • Rick Porcello
  • Drew Smyly
Drew Smyly is likely the 5th starter, with Taylor Jungmann waiting in Toledo (Triple-A) possibly, I sometimes think Smyly may serve me better out of the pen, but the new bullpen makeover, I am not sure if I have room for him there. 

Moving Justin Verlander down to the #2 slot, might better my chances in match-ups, Scherzer is the better pitcher now, and should be the one facing other #1 aces.

I made some minor deals, starting with the one which involved all minor leaguers, sending OF-Steven Moya and RP-Jose Alvarez to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for OF-Mitch Haniger and RP-Nick Bucci. The other deal was with the Boston Red Sox in which we sent P-Drew VerHagen & minor league OF-Zack Kirksey in exchange for RP-Drake Britton.

I was almost done with free agency, until I glanced at my lineup....
  • 1. Devon Travis - 2B
  • 2. Nicholas Castellanos - 3B
  • 3. Miguel Cabrera - 1B
  • 4. Justin Upton - LF
  • 5. Kole Calhoun - RF
  • 6. Austin Jackson - CF
  • 7. Andy Dirks / Brennan Boesch - DH
  • 8. Zack Cozart - SS
  • 9. James McCann - C
In real-life Andy Dirks last played in MLB was during the 2013 MLB Season (due to back issues), with Out of the Park games, the computer can generate an alter reality, where a player may stick around longer, but his performance is still likely to decrease. I also had Brennan Boesch who was splitting time with Dirks as the designated hitter for Detroit, Boesch has stuck around longer (2015), but has not played full-time since 2012.

I felt that traded Peralta also has given my team one less power bat, my real bulk only being my 3-through-5 hitters in Miguel Cabrera, Justin Upton & Kole Calhoun (who just won the 2013 A.L. Rookie-of-the-Year Award for Detroit).

So I decided to go for Albert Pujols...

Albert Pujols
He may not be the powerful bat that he was with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he still provides a lot of bang at 33 years of age. He batted .280 with 31 home runs & 99 RBI for the 2013 World Champion Los Angeles Angels (who defeated the Washington Nationals, by the way), while him & his agent were demanding too much. We would sign him to a four-year contract worth $20.6 million ($5.15 million per year). 

So yes I did add some money back on the books, but I think it was well thought-out, I distributed the money in different areas that best fit the team. Extending Scherzer was a must, while trading away about $20 million in two players, while landing about 5 players for a bit more than that $20 million per year in Andrew Miller, Joaquin Benoit, Yovani Gallardo, Albert Pujols & Zack Cosart.

Our success didn't stop during free agency or with our trades, we did really well in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, by drafting pitcher Aaron Nola (1st Rd / 19th overall), shortstop Ozzie Albies (2nd Rd / 52nd), third baseman Rafael Devers (3rd Rd / 83rd), pitcher Brent Honeywell (4th Rd / 117th), pitcher Michael Kopech (5th Rd / 148th), outfielder Eloy Jimenez (6th Rd / 178th) & Michael Chavis (7th Rd / 208th). 

Monday, December 11, 2017

BoS Regular Season Comes to Wild End!

The 5th season of the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League (BoS) came to a wild end, as we had our league's first tie-breaking Game #163. The King Road Kings forced a 163rd game, by winning their last game at home against the Seattle Rainiers, and had to play those same Rainiers for sole victory of the N.L. West Division; Both teams are going to continue in the postseason regardless of who wins.

Winning the game is a big deal though... not only a Division Championship is at stake, but a first-round bye... Whoever loses will have to play the N.L. East Division Winner (who happened to be the Traverse City Panthers at 82-80). Traverse City was a combined 8-16 against Seattle & King Road (5 of those from Seattle).

King Road had to play game #163 on the road, due to Seattle having more Home victories for the season; Both King Road and Seattle have 101 wins for the season.

Game #163 & N.L. Setup

King Road's J.A. Happ would get his 20th win of the season, by helping the Kings defeat the Rainiers, 6-1 in Seattle. Chase Headley was huge with a three-run HR during the top of the 1st off of Masahiro Tanaka. Justin Smoak (Kings) also had a home run, while Seattle could only muster up 5 hits against the Kings' great pitching.

King Road will have a 1st Round-bye, while Seattle will play the Panthers, while Panthers will host the first two games of the series at home.

American League Playoff Setup

Meanwhile, over in the American League, the South Side Spartans won the A.L. East Division with a 103-59 record, while the Fairgrove Tigers (93-69), the defending World Champions won the A.L. West Division; The two-time champion Tigers have shown vulnerabilities of late, after a strong start to the season. The Corktown Tamales (94-68) will play Fairgrove in a best-of-five, with Fairgrove (division champs always own home field-advantage, despite records).

Season Statistics

Panthers' Prowl

The Traverse City Panthers' offense is what carried them to the postseason, as they led both leagues in team Batting Average (.267), On-Base Percentage (tied at .326 with Vancouver), Slugging (.474), OPS (.800), Hits (1,524), Home Runs (253), Runs (846 / 5.2 RPG), while being effective stealing bases (82.4% - 2nd in N.L.).

Their pitching on the other hand, 2nd to last in the National League (4.70 ERA) while teams batted .262 against them, while their defense (.979 fielding pct) was in the bottom three of the BoS; They allowed 830 runs, while only having a run differential of +16 for the season, which resulted in 82 wins.

All Roads Lead through King Road?

King Road Kings topped the entire BoS in pitching (3.05 ERA) with their remarkable pitching staff (107 Quality Starts & 1,545 strikeouts), led by J.A. Happ (20-8, 3.23 ERA & 171 K) & Chris Sale (15-9, 3.17 ERA & 237 K)... Along with top rookie & 2017 1st Overall draft pick Michael Fulmer (17-6, 2.58 ERA & 148 K), Ervin Santana (11-12, 3.47 ERA & 184 K), while Rich Hill (8-6, 2.98 ERA & 152 K) & Clayton Kershaw (11-3, 2.95 ERA & 162 K) were both stellar in limited play this season.

The Kings held opponents to an impressively low .207 batting average... that's insane!

Some questioned if they should trade some pitching for offense, but their offense did just fine, ranking 2nd in the BoS in Batting Average (.266), while their 4.6 runs per game outranked 10 other teams.

If the team has a weakness, it would be their fielding (.981) which ranked 11th in the BoS, while it ranks the worst among playoff contenders, but with that stellar pitching & good offense, that may be all they need, as they plan to make a serious run for the BoS World Title.

The Legion of Boom

The Seattle Rainiers are no slouches, they lost Game #163, to finish 101-62. They were tied for 4th in Batting Average (.255) while their 237 HR & 835 Runs only trailed the Panthers in the BoS. They also were among the top in pitching (5th / 3.56 ERA), fielding (.985 - Tops among N.L. Playoff teams) & have a tough bullpen led by their closer Kenley Jansen (31 SV, 2.52 ERA)... They are pretty solid all across the board.

The team was once again led by their team leader Jose Altuve (.315, 22 HR, 94 RBI, 115 runs & 39 steals), with big help from Nelson Cruz (.247, 49 HR & 129 RBI); Cruz's 49 homers was tops in National League, as he spoiled Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown bid.

Wil Myers also had a big year for Seattle, as he batted .283, 29 HR, 95 RBI with 23 steals -- while Kyle Hendricks (16-10, 3.39 ERA & 164 K) was pretty much the ace of the club.

The National League feels it might be their year to land a title, they have only one World Championship in the Portland Microbrewers.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Rough Flight: Year Two Mid-Season (Charlotte Aviators)

New Flight, Jones signs with Aviators.
After we narrowly avoided 100 wins during our expansion year (2018), I made the moves that I felt were necessary to move us in the right direction... or so I thought.

We only had room for $24 million in our budget for this upcoming 2019 season, so automatically we can forget going for the likes of a Clayton Kershaw and Paul Goldschmidt.

Instead we made four offers, and none of the signings were that of a superstar... Here was the following signings...
  • CF - Adam Jones - 2 yrs / $14 million ($7 m annually)
  • SP - Jason Hammel - 3 yrs / $13.2 million ($4.4 m annually) - with vesting option on his 3rd season (2021).
  • RP - Justin Wilson - 2 yrs / $14 million - $6 m for 1st season, with a player option on his 2020 Season ($8 million). 
  • 2B - DJ LeMahieu - 3 yrs / $17 million ($5 m / $6 m / $6 million player option in 2021). 
It's been no secret that Adam Jones has been declining in performance, but we felt signing him would bring a much-needed veteran presence with the young Aviators, he also still has a cannon of an arm (70 out of 80), I felt this was a much-needed upgrade from Tyler Collins & Jake Smolinski splitting time in center. I moved Taylor Motter to full-time rightfielder, so that we can get some playing time at third base for Michael Chavis (who I acquired in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft in December 2017) -- in which he will be platooning with Yadiel Rivera

Jones from the get-go, proved to worth the signing, I was a little bummed that I found Charlie Blackmon signing (with the Pittsburgh Pirates) for much cheaper than he originally demanded.. he was the other option for potential CF. 

Jones is currently hitting .300 with 22 HR & 57 RBI through 82 games, while on pace for 42 HR this season, while producing a .895 OPS, his best season since 2013 so safe to say, he's actually been a steal for us... Meanwhile, Blackmon (for Pittsburgh) is only batting .229 with 11 HR & 27 RBI (.726 OPS). 

Jason Hammel is a cheap option to add to the rotation, so adding him him may not be someone spectacular, at the same time for $4.4 million, is not horrible either... or so I thought. Sure he's eating up 6-7 innings per game, and has stayed healthy, but while sporting a 5.84 ERA & 1.51 WHIP.

Tropeano was a 2018 A.L. All-Star with 16 wins for the Los Angeles Angels.
We traded for Nick Tropeano of the Los Angeles Angels, who was coming off a 16-5 season with a 3.13 ERA & 144 K (1.24 WHIP) in 175.1 innings -- in which we shipped SP-Nick Kingham, SS-Daniel Robertson, RP-Brad Peacock & catching prospect Ihan Bernal. Tropeano had a few great starts for us, then went on the disabled list for a couple weeks, and has been not as good, as he currently has a 2-6 record, 4.50 ERA, 62 K & 1.36 WHIP through 72 innings & 13 starts.

We can't seem to catch a break, our stud of a leftfielder in Koson Yamauchi (.305, 4 HR & 10 RBI in 22 games) has been out for about 2+ months, due to bone chips in his elbow, and is finally returning in a week or so, when suddenly Mike Clevinger (0-5, 3.32 ERA) will be out for 6 weeks due to shoulder inflammation. We sent down Adam Plutko to the minors, hoping that Brady Rodgers (2-4, 6.14 ERA) may do something different in his rotation spot.... nope! Cody Anderson is the team's all-time wins leader so far, with 13 wins in 1.5 seasons, while he posted a 5.32 ERA last season & is doing even worse with a 5.76 ERA.

Chrinos looked lost before his demotion to the minors.
One of our only rays of hope in 2018 in pitcher Yonny Chirinos, was a total disappointment through his first 19.1 innings of relief work (6.05 ERA) -- We just called him up (July 4th) after he has done well at Triple-A for the Montesano Ocelots (6-2, 1.81 ERA in 49.2 innings). 

We thought after drafting three Rule 5 Draftees in December 2017, that in 2018 we would go much lighter, but we decided to sign two more Rule 5 Draft Picks in Hunter Strickland and J.B. Wendelken... Hunter has done well, J.B. so far, no good. I would like to keep Wendelken, but we'll see how long he can test my patience, plenty of upside, but to keep a guy on the big league roster all season long with a 7.30 ERA may be stretching it. 

By the way, our 2018 stud in designated hitter Renato Nunez, who hit .286 with 37 HR & 124 RBI last season, is nowhere to be found with his .216, 14 HR & 34 RBI. Shortstop Abiatal Avelino has been going in the wrong direction, after what looked like a breakout year in 2018, while my third base combo is roughly batting .200 this season.

Problems everywhere!

The team was projected to win 77 games this season, improving 14 games from 63-99... instead, we are going almost 14 games in the opposite direction with a 26-59 record (.306 winning pct) on pace for 50 wins total, which my owner is not happy as it is.

Coming up.... Switching gears with latest BoS News, APBA face-to-face tournaments & other OOTP projects.

Friday, December 1, 2017

End of 2018 Regular Season (Aviators)

I'm proud to say that my Charlotte Aviators avoided 100 losses during their expansion season, finishing 63-99. They finished the season strong 18-19 during the last two months, after a horrible July that witnessed the Aviators going 4-22.

Koson Yamauchi, the big Japanese free agent ($20.7 million per year) finished strong by hitting .282, 32 HR & 88 RBI, while the team's lone All-Star Renato Nunez hit .286, 37 HR & 124 RBI; From what I can find his 124 RBI is likely a record for an expansion team player.

The future looks bright for second baseman Abiatal Avelino, a Rule 5 Draft Pick that I snagged from the New York Yankees; He led the team with a .295 batting average, while collecting 147 hits, with a 2.6 WAR & .762 OPS. 

Rowdy Tellez & Yamauchi started the season sluggish, but Tellez put it together as well, hitting .276, 21 HR & 80 RBI for the Aviators.

The Aviators' pitching needs more improvement & consistency, as Charlotte plans to upgrade this area in the off-season.

Around the League....

The Boston Red Sox' killer 'B's (Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts & Xander Bogaerts) each had a huge season, while their teammate Rafael Devers emerged by winning the RBI title (141). Each of the 'B's ranked 1, 2 & 3 in batting average & runs batted in...

Here is their rankings & other stats...
  • Xander Bogaerts: .353 batting average (A.L Batting Title), while hitting 28 HR & 126 RBI (3rd), 225 hits (1st), with 134 runs (2nd) -- while leading WAR (8.9) & ranking 3rd in OPS (.984).
  • Andrew Benintendi: .337 AVG (2nd), while hitting 32 HR & 134 RBI (2nd), 195 hits (5th), while leading the league in OPS (1.026) & Slugging pct (.613) -- ranked 4th in WAR (6.7).
  • Mookie Betts: Ranked 3rd in batting average (.328), with 23 HR & 100 RBI, 214 hits (2nd), while leading the league in runs (139) & ranking 3rd in WAR (6.8).
The Red Sox won the A.L. East with a 110-52 record, and have the #1 seed in the American League playoffs, and await the winner of the three-game series between the New York Yankees (A.L. Wild Card & Milwaukee Brewers (86-76 / A.L. Great Lakes Division Champs). The Houston Astros (97-65) who are trying to get back to the World Series (losing to the Chicago Cubs), are the #2 seed, and are waiting to see who wins between the Seattle Mariners (85-77 / A.L. Wild Card) & the Los Angeles Angels (92-70 / A.L. West Division Champions).

deGrom won the N.L. triple crown for pitchers.
The Philadelphia Phillies (87-75 / N.L. Wild Card) will play the Atlanta Braves (88-74 / N.L. South Division Champions) -- while the winner of that series will have to deal with the top-seeded Los Angeles Dodgers (105-57 / N.L. West Division Champions). The back-to-back defending World Champion Chicago Cubs (92-70 / #2 seed) awaits the winner The Arizona Diamondbacks (87-75 / N.L. Wild Card) & New York Mets (90-72 / N.L. East Division Champions).

Gregory Polanco won the N.L. Batting Title (.326) for the disappointing Pittsburgh Pirates (78-84), while ex-Pirate Andrew McCutchen had a strong season (.311, 42 HR & 158 RBI) with the Washington Nationals; His 158 ribbies was tops in the N.L.

Joey Gallo (Texas Rangers) led the National League & Major League Baseball with 51 home runs, while his team was getting adapted to switching leagues, and being part of the N.L. South; His teammate Cameron Maybin was a big surprise, as he ranked 3rd in hits (201) & runs (124).

The New York Mets' Jacob deGrom won the N.L. pitching Triple Crown by leading the league in wins (17 / tied), strikeouts (249) & Earned Run Average (3.14) -- He also led N.L. pitchers with a 7.4 WAR.

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