Saturday, March 17, 2018

The 1940 Detroit Tigers (My GMABT V Selection)

As my readers will know, I recently missed my first Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament this year, something that I thought would never happen...

But there will be no missing next March's 5th edition of the tournament, as next year's theme will be any team in either league between 1940-1968 (pitchers will hit). Once I found out the theme, I glanced over the APBA teams that I own from that period, which is really not many for me, but probably more than other APBA owners.

Here is a list of those teams...
  • 1940 Detroit Tigers
  • 1940 Cincinnati Reds
  • 1942 St. Louis Cardinals
  • 1944 St. Louis Browns
  • 1946 Boston Red Sox
  • 1948 Cleveland Indians
  • 1948 Boston Braves
  • 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers
  • 1953 New York Yankees
  • 1954 Cleveland Indians
  • 1957 Milwaukee Braves
  • 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers
  • 1962 San Francisco Giants
  • 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers
I have created the following teams via Baseball for Windows, although legit card numbers & information on the cards, the teams at certain tournaments may or may not be accepted...
  • 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers
  • 1965 Minnesota Twins
  • 1966 Baltimore Orioles
When I first found out the theme, my first two thoughts were the 1946 Boston Red Sox (that I play really well with & were Runners-Up during my Tournament II / 64 teams) and the 1957 Milwaukee Braves... both were taken. I thought really hard about the 1948 Boston Braves, who were available at the time, but was undecided while trying to pick between them and the 1940 Detroit Tigers.

I eventually chose the Tigers, and quickly... because it is a Michigan tournament, and the guys (like myself) love the Tigers, so within 10 minutes of learning the theme, I messaged Rich, and the 1940 Tigers became my official selection.

The Detroit Tigers have a strong lineup led by Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer, Rudy York & Barney McCosky. I believe the team's On-Base + Slugging [OPS] was .806, which is excellent. I decided I will take an APBA-ball approach by moving Dick Bartell out of the lead-off spot to 9th, with his low .665 OPS.

The lineup will be as follows...
  1. Barney McCosky - CF     (.340 BA, 4 HR, 57 RBI & 13 SB / .899 OPS)
  2. Charlie Gehringer - 2B     (.313 BA, 10 HR, 81 RBI & 10 SB / .875 OPS)
  3. Hank Greenberg - LF     (.340 BA, 41 HR, 150 RBI / 1.103 OPS)
  4. Rudy York - 1B     (.316 BA, 33 HR, 134 RBI / .993 OPS)
  5. Billy Sullivan - C     (.309 BA, 3 HR, 41 RBI / .849 OPS)
  6. Bruce Campbell - RF     (.283 BA, 8 HR, 44 RBI / .829 OPS)
  7. Pinky Higgins - 3B     (.271 BA, 13 HR, 76 RBI / .771 OPS)
  8. Dick Bartell - SS     (.233 BA, 7 HR, 53 RBI & 12 SB / .665 OPS)
  9. (Pitcher)
Schoolboy Rowe will bat 8th, when he pitches... He batted .269 with a HR & 18 RBI in 67 at-bats.

I decided to bat Billy Sullivan 5th over Bruce Campbell (although Campbell has more power), due to better batting average & the fact that Campbell hits into much more double plays. I also like the idea of guaranteeing Greenberg a 1st inning appearance.

McCosky is a triples machine (19), and that sets up Greenberg nicely, in case Gehringer strikes out or doesn't advance the runner... all Greenberg would have to roll is a 11, 22, 33, 44 & 66 to send it over the fence.

I have an excellent top 4 hitters up at the top, with 2 other players over .800 OPS, while at the same time my bottom three hitters drop off, so I have to make sure I continue to roll hot with the top 4-6 hitters. I will not be doing any pinch-hitting for the most part, because I will simply not want to go to my pen, which is awful for the most part. I will have to rely heavily on my 1-2-3 B-Rotation, roll hot, and stick with a consistent lineup.

I am also playing APBA-Ball (as some call it) where you go with the best hitters at top regardless of where they actually hit; Dick Bartell was the actual lead-off hitter for the 1940 Tigers, but I am going with Barney McCosky instead.

I won the 2nd Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament by sticking with a consistent lineup, all B-Rotation & strong pen. I did lousy my 1st GMABT with the 1917 Chicago White Sox by juggling the lineup too often.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

GMABT IV: Nice Guys Finish First (Spatz & Zawadzki)

Pastor Rich (left) with Rob Spatz.
Green Day may have got it all wrong with their song "Nice Guys Finish Last", because from where I stand the nice guys seem to be finishing first.

This past weekend was bittersweet for me, I unfortunately had to miss my very first Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (cancelling a few months ago) due to financial reasons (saving up for my sister's wedding). The payoff would be reading the results & seeing pictures of my friend Rob Spatz winning the trophy.

I was also looking forward to congratulating another good friend, Rich Zawadzki in person, for his recent APBA championship, as he won the 2017 Chicagoland (Fall Edition) APBA Tournament. Pastor Rich, year-after-year (since 2015) has hosted the Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament, as he always puts on a top-notch tournament that is well-executed & well-organized. From what I gathered through the years, Rich may be the very best APBA tourney host out there... I mean, there is no holes in his swing.

It was fitting to see him win the tournament in Chicago (which is hosted by Rob Spatz), and then to watch Rob win the Greater Michigan (hosted by Rich).... Only in the APBA universe this can only happen... seriously, who writes this stuff?!

It was great to see all the pictures & videos of the event, those made me feel a tad bit better, but nothing beats seeing all these wonderful faces in person....

Knowing my luck, I would have been in the Hal McRae Division, with my 1997 Baltimore Orioles facing Ron Emch's 1982 Milwaukee Brewers... Why would I assume that? Well.. Each of my first three tournaments, I always had my friend Ron to face in my division.

Sorry, that I had to break our streak Ron.

I cringe at the thought that I will forever be guessing my chances with such a underrated gem in the 97' Orioles, wondering how they would have performed... I do plan to use this team in a future tournament somewhere, I owe the team that.

But the reality is that I was not there, I was not 1 of 17 attendees that made it to all four Greater Michigan Tournaments, there are 16 members to accomplish that feat. I will say, I do not plan to miss another Michigan tourney.

The scene at the Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament IV.
It is our love that keeps bringing us back to this wonderful tournament, and the friendships that we have made along the way.

The size of the tournament has been steadily increasing through the years...

  • 2015 (31 Managers)
  • 2016 (35 Managers)
  • 2017 (39 Managers)
  • 2018 (48 Managers)
Next March's tournament has already 48 managers signed up.

I think it was a good move decreasing the opening bracket games from 10 to 8, entering 2017's tournament. 10 games was a lot, which was the case in 2016, when my 1993 Atlanta Braves went 8-2 in the opening bracket, and then sweeping the 3 playoff games (11-2) to win the GMABT II.

Another thing that is quite noticeable is how much the family dynamic has increased since the first tournament, more families are involved, which is a great thing, passing this wonderful game down from generation to generation. 

Rich mentions the family dynamic in the following Thank-you Facebook post below...

Speaking of family, all of these wonderful people that we have become friends with due to all these tournaments has made us one complete APBA family. It is good to know that we can find healthy escapes like APBA, in which for a day or a couple days of the year, we can go manage a team, relive our childhood, in an attempt to lead our team to the championship.

*** More Results, News & Photos of the GMABT IV to come... ***

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

2017 BoS Record Breakers (Boys of Summer League)

The Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League is just under two weeks away from the league's 6th Annual Draft, which features free agents and rookies.

We take the time now to look back at the players & teams that re-records the BoS Record Book.

Miguel Cabrera

  • Becomes the 2nd player in BoS history to win multiple Most Valuable Player Awards (the first being Fairgrove's Paul Goldschmidt: 2014 & 2016) & the first player to win the MVP Award in each league; Miguel won the 2013 A.L. MVP with the Buffalo Yankees, while winning the 2017 N.L. MVP Award with the Traverse City Panthers.
  • Breaks the BoS & N.L. Records with 145 RBI (breaking Chris Davis' mark of 143, set in 2014 with the San Diego Heroes).
  • Breaks BoS & N.L. Records with .640 Slugging Percentage (breaking Chris Davis' mark of .627, set in 2014 with San Diego).
  • Breaks N.L. Record with .422 On-Base Percentage (breaking Mike Trout's mark of .406, set in 2014 with the Portland Microbrewers). 
  • Breaks BoS & N.L. Records with 1.062 On-Base + Slugging [OPS] (breaking Bryce Harper's mark of 1.010, set in 2016 with the Holland Hitchhikers); Cabrera still owns the A.L. OPS record of .993, set with the Buffalo back in 2013).
  • Breaks BoS & N.L. Records with 393 Total Bases (breaking another Chris Davis mark of 373, set in 2014 with San Diego); Cabrera still owns the A.L. Total Bases record of 370, set with Buffalo in 2013).
  • Breaks BoS & N.L. Records with 68 Multi-Hit Games (breaking Adrian Beltre's mark of 64, set in 2013 with the Urbana Locomotives).
  • Breaks BoS & N.L. Records with 161 Runs Created -- breaking the BoS mark of 149.6 set by Paul Goldschmidt & the N.L. mark of 143.3, which was held by Adrian Beltre (2013) & Mike Trout (2014).
  • Breaks BoS & N.L. Records with 82.5 Runs Contributed -- breaking the BoS mark of 76.4 set by Paul Goldschmidt & the N.L. mark of 64.1, held by Mike Trout.
  • Ties N.L. Record of 2 Grand Slams in a season, along with the King Road Kings' Eduardo Nunez; Both players tied numerous N.L. players that also have this record. Carlos Beltran owns the BoS & A.L. Record with 3 Grand Slams in a single-season -- which is fitting for Beltran who won the 2013 All-Star Game MVP by smacking a Grand Slam.

Other Single-Season Player (Hitting) Records
  • David Ortiz (of the Watersmeet Nimrods) ties the BoS & A.L. Record of 64 doubles (tying the marks set by Adrian Gonzalez set with the Buffalo Yankees in 2013); Ortiz accomplished this feat in his final BoS Season.
  • Manny Machado (of the Vancouver Storm) breaks the A.L. Record with 129 RBI (breaking the mark of 125, set by the Chicago Nine's Nolan Arenado).
  • Jose Altuve (of the Seattle Rainiers) breaks the N.L. Record with 733 Plate Appearances (breaking Mike Trout's mark of 715, set in 2014 with Portland); Altuve also tied the BoS Record with 661 At-Bats (breaking Elvis Andrus' record, set with the Fairgrove Tigers in 2013), while breaking the At-Bats N.L. record, which was held by Robinson Cano (set with the Louisville Sluggers in 2016).
  • Nelson Cruz (of the Seattle Rainiers) breaks the N.L. Record with 9 Sacrifice Flies (breaking the mark of 8, set by Adrian Beltre in 2015 with Urbana).

Single-Season Pitching Records
  • Zach Britton (of the Urbana Locomotives) breaks the BoS & N.L. records with 100% Saves Conversion Percentage (first player to go 100%) - 35 for 35; breaking BoS mark of 97.2% set by Joaquin Benoit (of the Swatara Eliminators) set in 2015 -- while breaking the N.L. mark of 94% set by Greg Holland (of the Holland Hitchhikers) set in 2015. The records only pertain to those that put in 30+ opportunities.
  • Zach Britton (of the Urbana Locomotives) breaks the BoS & N.L. Record with 12.4 Strikeouts Per 9 Innings [Relief] -- breaking the BoS mark of 12.3 set by Fernando Rodney in 2013 with the South Shore Fighting Imps, while breaking the N.L. mark of 11.9 set by Vinnie Pestano in 2013 with the Sacramento 66'ers.
  • Chris Archer (of the Buffalo Yankees) breaks the A.L. record with 11.3 Strikeouts Per 9 Innings [Starting] (breaking mark of 10.9 set by Jacob deGrom in 2016 with the Brooklyn Mets).
  • Rick Porcello (of the South Side Spartans) breaks the A.L. record with 7.7 Strikeouts to Walk Ratio (breaking the mark of 6.9 set by Max Scherzer in 2016 with the Corktown Tamales).
  • Dellin Betances (of the Spring Branch Duffers) breaks the N.L. record with 73 Game Appearances (breaking the mark that was shared by Traverse City's Kelvin Herrera & Portland's Glen Perkins); Betances already owns the BoS & A.L. mark of 76, set with the Chicago Nine in 2015).

  • Zach Britton sets the BoS & N.L. records of 35 Consecutive Saves Conversions -- breaking the BoS mark of 34, set by Fernando Rodney in 2013 with South Shore, while breaking the N.L. mark of 31, set by Greg Holland in 2015 with Holland.
  • Nolan Arenado (of the Watersmeet Nimrods) breaks the BoS & A.L. Records with 4 straight games with a triple (breaking the marks of 3, both held by Swatara's Ben Revere).
Team Effort
  • The Traverse City Panthers' lineup set numerous single-season records: Home Runs (253), Total Bases (2,708), On-Base + Slugging [OPS] (.800), Extra-Base Hits (645), Doubles (359), Runs Created (879.1), Runs Contributed (215.8) & At-Bats (5,716). Most of the previous records were held by the 2013 offensive juggernaut known as the Urbana Locomotives.
  • The Corktown Tamales set two strikeout records; A.L. Strikeouts (1,467 K) & 9.0 Strikeouts Per 9 Innings.
Bad Stuff
  • Josh Tomlin (of the Portland Microbrewers) set two new records. The first one is the N.L. record of 123 Earned Runs Allowed (tying Bud Norris of the 2013 Traverse City Panthers), while the other one is breaking the BoS & N.L. record with 43 HR allowed (breaking BoS mark of 41, set by the Bronx Bombers' Mark Buehrle in 2013 & breaking the N.L. mark of 39 set by Urbana's Cole Hamels in 2016).
  • Jose Bautista (of the Corktown Tamales) set a BoS & A.L. record of 22 consecutive games without a hit (breaking the mark of 19 straight games, set by Cesar Izturis of the Boston Bravos in 2014).
  • Gerrit Cole (of the San Diego Heroes) breaks BoS & N.L. records with 20 Consecutive Games without a Win (breaking Rubby de la Rosa's record of 17, set with the King Road Kings in 2016). 
  • The San Diego Heroes as a team struck out a BoS Record of 1,499 times -- while the Buffalo Yankees broke their own A.L. record with 1,482 K's at the plate. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

We Did Not Forget (Updates to Come)

Updates to come out on several of my projects...
  • 1981 Detroit Tigers (First Half) conclusion.
  • Tournament III - Sweet Sixteen Results.
  • 1994 Atlanta Braves (Alternate 1994 - Out of the Park 18.

March Posts:
  • Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament Results (Jackson, MI).
  • MLB Preview
  • League Update on the Boys of Summer APBA Baseball League.
  • My latest Custom-made APBA Cards projects.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Refueling (Charlotte Aviators Update)

Image result for Charlotte Aviators

My readers may remember that I am also a fan of Out of the Park Baseball, which I own the 2018 Edition (By the way, 2019 OOTP is out March 22nd). You may also remember that for one of my projects, I added two expansion teams, starting in the 2018 MLB Season in the Charlotte Aviators and the Oklahoma City Barons.

I have been running the Charlotte Aviators, and it has been a struggle for the most part. The game deals with everything like payrolls, budgets, scouting, drafting, etc etc... I have been finding out that running a 'small market team' is simply not easy. We avoided 100 losses during our 2018 expansion season (losing 98), and we were projected to improve by 13 games I believe... instead we went the opposite direction and lost 117 games!

Lucky for me, my team got a new owner and I wasn't fired (oh yeah, you can get fired in this game as well)... so it's onto Year 3 (2020) with new owner in hand. The new owner set new goals, play close to .500 ball by 2020, increase attendance to 46,200 per game by 2023 & build up the team to reach the playoffs by 2025. All are lofty goals, but i'm not one to give up.

So Year 3...

I decided to start with the big elephant in the room in my star Japanese player Koson Yamauchi, who has been doing his part by producing, but for a small market team ranging from $55-$62 million a year, a $20.47 million-a-year player is just not going to cut it.

Yamauchi batted .282 with 32 HR & 88 RBI (.933 OPS) for the Aviators in 2018, while struggling with injuries in 2019 (.284, 17 HR, 59 RBI & .865 OPS in 92 games). So I knocked on the door of a team that is well-known for not taking on some more payroll, the New York Yankees (who else?!). To put it in perspective, how good the Yankees have it, their payroll is currently at $155,752,857 & they are still shopping with $36.5 million to spare.

I traded them Yamauchi, along with RP-Matt Purke & P-Burch Smith in exchange for OF-Scott Schebler, and prospects in P-Chance Adams & OF-Brandon Boissiere.

By the way, those Yankees now have SS-Gleyber Torres batting 2nd, 3B-Manny Machado batting 3rd, Yamauchi batting 4th, with Aaron Judge batting 5th & Gary Sanchez batting 6th!

That helped shed some payroll, so I can try to make a splash at an ace in either Gerrit Cole or Sonny Gray, but both will be pricey. So I went for a backup option, by trading for Robbie Erlin, who by no means is an ace, but if you see the rest of my pitching staff you would understand. There was plenty to like in Erlin's latest ratings in the game, he's coming off a short & effective season for the Cardinals in which he went 4-1, 3.70 ERA with a 1.050 WHIP in 65.2 innings. It was a modest trade that I don't think hurts either team, I traded the Cards one of my favorite pieces in Yonny Chirinos, while unloading cuban rightfielder Gabrio Trujillo & former Red Sox prospect Michael Chavis.

Chavis was really frustrating for me, although only 24, he has only batted .224 with 4 HR & 22 RBI in 59 games (over two seasons)... he only cost me in roster space (2018 season), being a Rule 5 pick.

I traded two of our starting pitchers away in Cody Anderson & Jason Hammel. Anderson was sent over to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for two prospects in OF-Steven Kwan & SS-Joerlin De Los Santos, while Hammel was sent over to the Cubs for two prospects in P-Hector A. Garcia & SP-Mike Baumann.

During these trades, I was in persuit of Pittsburgh's Cole, but he was too expensive, I withdrew my offer and went for Sonny Gray, but failed there as Gray would sign on with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I decided to sign smaller contracts to role players such as RP-Liam Hendriks, 1B-Conor Gillaspie, 2B/Utility-Marwin Gonzalez & vet catcher Stephen Vogt. We also added Rule 5 LF/2B/1B-Arismedy Alcantara, a former Cubs prospect.

I still wanted to shed some payroll, while also making room for Gonzalez at second, by trading DJ LeMahieu who overall disappointed at $6.0 million/per year. The Seattle Mariners needed a second baseman while Robinson Cano's game has declined. We traded DJ along with two prospects (Baumann & De Los Santos) we got in other deals & got two bigger prospects in 3B-Jhonkensy Noel & OF-Luis Veloz.

We traded our 2018 All-Star Renato Nunez, along with prospects C-Jan Mercado & OF-Hunter Bishop to the Atlanta Braves for prospect OF-Braxton Davidson.

I was almost done, and we noticed on the scrap heap Yu Darvish... yes that Yu Darvish, by 2020, he's had some arm issues, starting with the Dodgers in 2017, while he struggled with the San Francisco Giants in 2018 (5.35 ERA & 1.56 WHIP) & 2019 (4.12 ERA & 1.39 WHIP). He was asking for a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, we decided for lightning-in-a-bottle at $2.5 million total over two seasons, with a vesting option on the third year.

Since Darvish has ace experience, we decided he will start opening day, with Robbie Erlin in the second slot, Nick Tropeano (2018 All-Star for Angels) in 3rd slot, with prospect Chance Adams & Christian Binford in the 5th slot.

We will probably be bad, but I feel the team's situation isn't hopeless, and we still have close to $15 million to spend or save towards next season.

Monday, February 12, 2018

How Sweet It Is! (Tournament III - Sweet Sixteen Preview)

The Sweet Sixteen is here, and here is a preview of the contending match-ups....

Game #49

1901 Pittsburgh Pirates at 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates

The 79' Pirates are the defending tournament champs, that is why they have the #1 seed; The top four seeds went to last tournament's final four contenders. Normally, the 1901 Pirates would be the higher seed in most circumstances, and they have a great shot at knocking off the champs, especially since the 79' Buccos will be without Bill Madlock (Injured for 2 games).

Madlock will be returning to the 79' Pirates, if they reach the Final Four for a second consecutive season. 

Pirates' closer Kent Tekulve owns 5 career tournament saves.

Game #50

1940 Detroit Tigers at 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates

The Tigers continue to surprise, as their bats torn into the Giants' Joe McGinnity's Grade A&C-YZ as if he was a Grade C or lower; McGinnity allowed 8 earned runs, 9 hits & 3 walks in 6.2 innings of working (Grade Reduction to a B-YZ).

Rudy York hit his 2nd HR of the tournament, while Pinky Higgins and Dick Bartell added dingers of their own. They will have to go into Pittsburgh to play a tough 1909 Pirates team that held a tough 1987 Detroit Tigers team to only 3 hits.

Game #51

1934 St. Louis Cardinals at 1948 Boston Braves

Johnny Sain gets to take on the 'Gas House Gang' after throwing nothing but gas against the 1940 Cincinnati Reds -- A 1st Round No-Hitter! Gio Gonzalez (2012 Washington), by the way, threw a no-hitter on the same day of the 1st Round against the 1998 Atlanta Braves.

The 48' Braves will have their hands full against the Cardinals' ace Dizzy Dean.

Game #52

1909 Detroit Tigers at 1917 Chicago White Sox

The 1917 Chicago White Sox have the capabilities of being among the very best when they play at top form. I took the 17' 'Black Sox' to the 1st Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament*, in which the team for the most part fell on its face.... or otherwise speaking, the fix was on!

* It's worth noting that I would get redemption at the 2nd GMABT, by winning the tournament with the 1993 Atlanta Braves.

They will be hosting another deadball team led by possibly the greatest player that played the game in Ty Cobb, and his 1909 Tigers. The Tigers have one of the best scoring differentials in the tournament with a +10 scoring.

Game #53

1998 New York Yankees at 1946 Boston Red Sox

The rivalry is on! Last year's Runner-Up -- 46' Red Sox will host one of the best teams of all-time in the 1998 Yankees. The Yankees have already dismantled the 'Big Red Machine' in Round 2... that's what is cool about the final four teams shaking up the seeds so much, that a heavyweight match-up like the 75' Reds & 98' Yankees have already went down.

The Yankees scored 9 runs (12 at-bats) in the 7th inning to defeat the Reds; Reds led 5-0 entering the bottom of the 6th, in which the Yankees started their comeback by scoring 3 runs that inning -- and then followed up that inning with a masterpiece.

The 1946 Red Sox have their ace on the mound in Dave 'Boo' Ferriss; Ferris has been a machine in these tournaments, dating back to the beginning of Tournament II, Ferris's record is 4-1 with 5 complete games.

Game #54

1957 Milwaukee Braves at 1995 Cleveland Indians

It's a case of tribal warfare with the 57' Braves visiting Cleveland. The Indians got jump-started with Jim Thome's walk-off HR against the 2002 Oakland Athletics, they took that moment and squeaked pass the 81' Expos. This is the best tournament to date for Cleveland, who could not get past the 1st Round in the previous two.

For Milwaukee, this is their first tournament, winning their first game in extras on the road against the 68' Tigers -- Unfortunately, they will have to face the Indians without Eddie Mathews, who will miss the game due to a late-game injury.

Game #55

1993 Chicago White Sox at 2013 St. Louis Cardinals

These two teams may not be titans, but this may be one of the most anticipated match-ups in the Sweet Sixteen. The 2013 'Cardiac' Cardinals knocked off one of the greatest teams of all-time in the 1937 New York Yankees (Lou Gehrig & Joe DiMaggio) with basically today's post-season strategy of going to the pen as soon as possible.... and it paid off beautifully!

The Cardinals' Matt Holliday has 2 HR this tournament, while Adam Wainwright will match up against Jack McDowell, who helped the White Sox make an upset of their own on the 1953 Yankees.

A quick note: the 1927, 1937 & 1953 Yankees all didn't make it past the 2nd Round!

Game #56

2004 Anaheim Angels at 1977 Philadelphia Phillies

How much longer can the Angels' luck continue? They have pulled off a major upset of the 2001 Seattle Mariners in Round 1, while winning both of their tourney games in extras -- plus they are doing this with an all-Grade C rotation, while winning their last game with Bartolo Colon (C-Y) with 4 innings of relief.

We also witnessed Bengie Molina hitting 2 HRs in the same game.

Now Anaheim must get by a Phillies team that has knocked off two excellent New York teams (1986 Mets & 1927 Yankees) -- with Steve Carlton on the mound, who is an A-YZ. 

Luck can only stick around for so long.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Second Round, Day Two (Tournament III Action)

Machine Derailed

Who would have thought we would have a heavyweight match during the 2nd Round, between the 1975 Cincinnati Reds and the 1998 New York Yankees?

The Reds attacked early with a two-run homer by Johnny Bench in the 1st (off of David Wells), while tacking on another run in the 4th (George Foster sac fly) & in the 6th (Bench - RBI single) to give the Reds a comfortable 5-0 lead entering the bottom of the 6th inning.

The Yankees were quiet during the first 5 innings, with only 3 hits off of Gary Nolan, but then came the 6th...

With two outs & runners on second and third, Darryl Strawberry launches a two-run homer to
over the centerfield fence at old Yankee Stadium, to help put the Yankees back in the ballgame.

Trailing 5-3, bottom of the 7th, the Yankees end up derailing machine...

Starting with a lead-off walk to Chuck Knoblauch (his 3rd BB of the game) ... followed by...
  • Derek Jeter's RBI double (Knoblauch scores)
  • Tim Raines: RBI single (Jeter scores), game tied 5-5...
  • Reds go to the pen & call on Will McEnaney.
  • Bernie Williams singles to right, Raines to 3rd.
  • Two-Run double by Paul O'Neill (Raines & Williams scores), Yankees lead 7-5.
  • Tino Martinez scores in O'Neill on a double.
  • Scott Brosius flys out, out number one.
  • Darryl Strawberry draws a walk, runners on 1st & 2nd
  • Jorge Posada hits a three-run jack, Yankees extend lead to 6 runs.
  • Chuck Knoblauch hits a solo HR (back-to-back for Yankees), Yankees 12-5.
  • Sparky Anderson calls on Clay Carroll, stops the bleeding.
The Reds would score 3 runs during the top of the 8th, thanks to a two-run HR by Tony Perez, but the damage was done, Reds blow a 5-0 lead to lose the game,12-7.

Ramiro Mendoza gets the win (came in to pitch in the 7th), while Gary Nolan gets the loss.

'Cardiac Cards' Knock off Yankees

Another team with a comfortable lead through 6 innings (4-1), the 1937 New York Yankees' Red Ruffing came off his hinges, allowing a lead-off triple in the 7th Inning to Matt Carpenter (Allen Craig would knock him in on a sac fly). Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran follow with back-to-back doubles (scoring in Holliday), while reliever Spud Chandler would allow a RBI double to Jon Jay, tying the game at 4-4.

The Cardinals would take the lead, thanks to Matt Holliday's three-run HR in the 8th inning. The Yankees still kept up the pressure though with a solo HR by Bill Dickey in the 8th (cutting the lead down to 7-5), while Red Rolfe's RBI double had the Yankees trailing only by a run in the 9th. With runners on 1st & 2nd & two outs, (Cards intentionally walked Lou Gehrig to face DiMaggio) Joe DiMaggio flied out to right to finish the game... Cardinals pull off the upset, 7-6.

Cardinals played millennial postseason ball, by scratching their starter after 3 innings (Shelby Miller allowed 2 runs), then going to the pen in Joe Kelly (2 IP), Michael Wacha (1.1 IP), Edwin Mujica (1 IP & Win), Seth Maness (0.2 IP) & Trevor Rosenthal (1 IP & Save).

Christenson Crushes Two

Starting pitcher Larry Christenson of the 1977 Philadelphia Phillies helped his cause by hitting home runs during his first two at-bats (both off Herb Pennock, 3rd & 4th Inning). The Phillies' Ron Reed momentarily gave the lead back (blown save), but would earn the win, while the Phillies knocked off a giant in the 1927 New York Yankees.

Both the 1937 & 1927 Yankees fail to get past the 2nd Round (What are the odds?!), as the Phillies out-slug the Yankees -- including a clutch three-run pinch-hit HR by Jay Johnstone in the 8th, to give the Phillies the 8-5 win; Bob Boone homered in 4th inning (two-run HR). 

Other games during Day Two of the 2nd Round....
  • 2012 Los Angeles Angels at 1909 Detroit Tigers: The Tigers' Sam Crawford (3-for-4, RBI, 2 runs) & George Moriarty (2-for-4, 4 RBI, SB & run) was too much for Zack Greinke of the Angels... Not a great round for Greinke, as his 2013 version lost for the Dodgers as well. The Tigers' Ed Summers pitches a 6-hit shutout, to go along with 7 strikeouts. Tigers win 7-0
  • 1934 St. Louis Cardinals at 1948 Cleveland Indians: An exciting back-and-forth game, as the Indians come up short, 7-5, with bases juiced in the 9th... Jesse Haines (Grade C (B*)-RZ) completes the 2.2 inning scoreless save, although he made it interesting with his 3 walks. Both teams combined for 23 hits, while the Cardinals' Rip Collins (3-for-5, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI & 2 runs), Pepper Martin (3-for-5, 2B, RBI, SB & 2 runs), and Jack Rothrock (1-for-3, 2 RBI, BB & run) were heavy contributors towards their success.
  • 1929 Chicago Cubs at 1946 Boston Red Sox: Last year's Runner-Up (Red Sox) defeat the Cubbies (3-2) thanks to a complete game victory by Mickey Harris & Ted Williams' 2nd HR of the tournament.
  • 1940 Detroit Tigers at 1904 New York Giants: Joe McGinnity allows 9 hits, 3 walks & 8 runs in 6.2 innings of work [Grade Reduction from A&C-YZ to B-YZ], while the Detroit Tigers win 9-6 on the backs of three homers total by Pinky Higgins, Rudy York & Dick Bartell. York has 2 HR in the tournament. 'Schoolboy' Rowe records a 2.2 inning save for the 40' Tigers.
  • 1993 Philadelphia Phillies at 1901 Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates' Jesse Tannehill holds the Phillies to three hits & a run, while the Pirates win 5-1 -- including an RBI triple by Tommy Leach and 2 RBI from Claude Ritchey.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Second Round, Day One (Tournament III Action)

Family Matters

The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates (defending champs) hosted the 2013 Boston Red Sox, with Bert Blyleven (Pirates) and John Lackey (Red Sox) taking the mound. This was one of those match-ups that I had highlighted in my mind, as a must-roll dice game & it lived up (for the most part) to the hype.

Due to the 79' Pirates being the home team, teams play to whatever home team's rules, meaning that pitchers bat (no DH) for this game.... Meaning that the Red Sox had to sit Mike Napoli (Fielding 4), in favor of David Ortiz's bat, although they would be sacrificing two points in defense; Napoli was no slouch at the plate, hitting .259 with 23 HR & 92 RBI (.842 OPS), which falls among his better seasons.

Daniel Nava got things rolling early for Boston with a solo home run off Blyleven during the top of the 2nd. 

The Bucs' Bill Madlock led off the 4th with a single, Dave Parker would hit an RBI triple, while Willie Stargell would get him in on a sac fly, to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.

Blyleven would start having control problems as his three walks would all come in the 6th inning, but he would escape by only giving up a run (RBI BB with bases loaded to Nava)... although a game-tying run at 2-2.

Blyleven's control problems would continue to haunt him, as he would plunk pinch-hitter Jonny Gomes with a pitch in the 7th; Jacoby Ellsbury advances runner to 3rd with single, and would steal second on the next pitch... Ellsbury scores on Shane Victorino's sac fly to give Boston a brief 3-2 lead.

Ed Ott's RBI double & John Milner's RBI ground out during the bottom of the 7th, would give Pittsburgh back the lead (4-3), in which the Pirates' bullpen (Enrique Romo & Kent Tekulve) would wrap up the victory; Tekulve recorded his 2nd save of this tournament.

The 1979 Pirates will host the winner of the 1933 Philadelphia Phillies / 1901 Pittsburgh Pirates game... They will have to do it without Bill Madlock who suffered a late-game injury (2 games).

Wild Affair in Washington

When I started this tournament in 2016, I didn't have the APBA teams collection that I do now, so that's why we have the 2004 Los Angeles Angels in this tournament... Sure, they don't look like they belong, but they keep proving otherwise.

The Angels find themselves visiting the 2012 Washington Nationals, which I find a fun team with plenty of potential, but the furthest they ever got is the 2nd Round (twice now)... Can they get to the Sweet Sixteen? We shall see...

Washington is coming off of a big high with a no-hit performance by Gio Gonzalez -- no-hitting the tough 1998 Atlanta Braves.

Newly inducted MLB Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero knocks in Darin Erstad with an RBI double in the 1st, while Washington would match that in the 1st with Adam LaRoche grounding out deep to short to score in Jayson Werth

Top of the 2nd, runner on first (Adam Kennedy reached base on a error by Ian Desmond) -- Bengie Molina hits a two-run homer [66-0, 35-1] off of Stephen Strasburg; Darin Erstad adds RBI sac fly to give Angels a 4-1 lead.

The Nats answer back during the bottom of the 2nd, after back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Kurt Suzuki, the Angels' starting pitcher Kelvim Escobar gets frustrated with a called ball pitch to Strasburg, and is tossed for arguing with the umpire.... Angels call on Jarrod Washburn, who then gives up a two-run double to Stephen Strasburg, cutting the Angels' lead to one run (4-3).

Strasburg and Washburn would settle down for a few innings.

The Nationals would take the ball away from Strasburg after 5 innings of work -- allowing 4 hits, 3 earned runs (4 runs) & a walk, with 6 strikeouts; Ryan Mattheus comes in to pitch the 6th. 

Mattheus comes in & plunks Jose Guillen with a pitch, Adam Kennedy would hit into a fielder's choice as the Nats get lead runner Guillen at second. Kennedy would advance two bases, by stealing second & then advancing to third on a wild pitch by Mattheus. Runner on third, Bengie Molina comes up to the plate... [33-0]... second roll [35-1, again] .... Two-run homer!

Let it be noted that Molina had only 10 HR in 337 at-bats.

Bengie Molina watches 2nd HR leave the park.
The Angels sat with a comfortable 6-3 lead during the 7th Inning stretch, but nothing's ever guaranteed in APBA and what happened next was not surprising considering how the game has been playing out...

The Nationals answer back (again) during the bottom half of the 7th, with a two-out, two-run homer by Ian Desmond (off of reliever Scot Shields), trailing the Angels 6-5.

Bottom of the 9th, the Angels call on their closer Troy Percival (Grade A*-Y) to close out the game, he would get the first hitter, Kurt Suzuki to fly out for the out number one... Nationals call on Tyler Moore to pinch-hit for reliever Sean Burnett (2 innings of scoreless relief); Moore hit 10 HR & 29 RBI (.840 OPS) in only 156 at-bats for the Nats in 2012.

Moore ties the game... you guessed it... with a solo homer, at 6-6.

During the 10th, Bengie Molina nearly hit 3 HR in a game [11-0, 36-6], the odds for this card to hit 3 HR in a game would be huge... he ended up with 2 HR & a double, along with 4 RBI instead.

Both teams would match runs in the 11th inning, but it would be a huge two-out, two-run single by Jose Guillen in the 13th (off of reliever Drew Storen) that would seal the deal for the Angels; Guillen's 3 RBI all came in extras, while he had a home run during the 1st round of tournament action.

The Angels were running out of players & had to deal with Bartolo Colon (Grade C-Y) being on the mound with four innings of relief, while recording the win; Colon went 18-12 with a 5.01 ERA in 34 starts & 208 innings for the halos in 2004. 

The Angels used every player on their roster, except for Bengie's brother, Jose Molina. Both teams used 14 pitchers combined (7 each), while the Nats used most of their roster as well.

The 2004 Angels continue their wild ride with another extra innings winner, they went 12 innings in their upset over the 2001 Seattle Mariners during the 1st Round.

Other Games....
  • 1987 Detroit Tigers at 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates: George Gibson's two-run homer during the 2nd Inning off of Doyle Alexander was the difference for the most part, as the Tigers lose 3-2; Gibson only hit 2 HR in 510 at-bats for the Pirates in 1909. Tigers' Kirk Gibson & Larry Herndon hit solo HR -- accounting for 2 of the Tigers' total 3 hits as Vic Willis (4 K) was solid during his complete game effort.
  • 1993 Chicago White Sox at 1914 Boston Braves: The White Sox will be advancing to the Sweet Sixteen for the second consecutive time, as they were led by a pair of homers by Tim Raines (in the first), while "The Big Hurt" Frank Thomas hit a two-run bomb in the 4th. (WP-Alex Fernandez, LP-Bill James & SV-Roberto Hernandez). White Sox 3, Braves 1
  • 1981 Montreal Expos at 1995 Cleveland Indians: The Indians win 2-1 & will advance to the Sweet Sixteen, that's great news for a team that could never get out of the 1st Round before this tourney. Eddie Murray goes 2-for-3, 6th-Inning two-run double to single handily carry the Tribe past the Expos. (WP-De.Martinez, LP-Gullickson & SV-Jose Mesa).
  • 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers at 1957 Milwaukee Braves: Frank Torre (2-Run HR in 6th) and Lew Burdette (Grade C-Z advanced to Grade A-Z) were the heroes for the Braves; Burdette allows only 2 hits with 3 walks during his shutout against the Dodgers. (LP-Zack Greinke). Braves 3, Dodgers 0
  • 1948 Boston Braves at 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates: The 71' Pirates (a Final Four participant during the last tournament) could not keep up with Boston's bats... Big hits by Phil Masi and Eddie Stanky led to 3 runs in the 4th, while Bob Elliott reached base all four times -- going 2-for-2, RBI triple, 2 runs & 2 BB. Willie Stargell and Al Oliver hit homers, while Richie Hebner was a HR short of the cycle, for Pittsburgh in their losing cause. (WP-Warren Spahn, LP-Dock Ellis & SV-Bob Hogue). Braves 5, Pirates 3
  • 1986 Houston Astros at 1917 Chicago White Sox: The "Nolan Express" (Nolan Ryan) got derailed, allowing 7 runs, 7 hits in only 1.1 innings of work. Eddie Collins (3 hits, 3 R & 2 RBI), Buck Weaver (two-run 2B & R) & "Shoeless Joe" Jackson (2-for-3, 3 RBI & R) led the charge, as the White Sox reach the Sweet Sixteen for the second time. Odd Stat: Red Faber (Grade A) allows 7 walks through 6 innings). White Sox 9, Astros 4

*** I want to take this moment and mention that I will be referring to this tournament as Tournament III for its remainder. The tourney started back in 2016, and was intended to be the 3rd Amazing April Tournament -- which it won't be labeled as; The other two tournaments are Amazing April Tournaments & are still 'Amazing April Tournaments' while also being known as Tournament I & Tournament II ***

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Missing March

Some of you may have heard by now that I will not be attending the 4th Annual Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament (Jackson, Michigan) on March 3rd, 2018. Never have I imagined missing such a fun tournament, while having a good time with friends, playing the board game that I grew up with, and fell in love with.

Myself, Shawn Baier
The reason for not going is simple, my sister Sara, got engaged over the holidays, and their wedding is projected for August, and in Vermont... which means that my wife Becky and I, have to save every single penny that we possibly can for this wonderful trip, which includes food, gas & hotel. I do plan to hit Cooperstown on the way back, something that has always been on my baseball bucket list.

Once people noticed I backed out, myself and my wife got instant messages from APBA friends, wondering if everything is alright with me; Some were concerned since I have withdrawn from my original Facebook profile, and have seen or heard little from me. For those that are on the APBA Facebook Group and for those that follow this blog, they would know that everything is alright.

Even though the reason of not going was simple, the decision was still tough for me. I always have a good time at these events, and the GMABT is a very special tournament for me, it's in my home state, and it has a great blend of APBA friends, including its gracious host Pastor Rich Zawadzki. Plus I had tons of fun with one year particular (March 2016) when my 1993 Atlanta Braves went all the way to win the GMABT title, with a 11-2 record.

So what does this all mean for my 2018 GMABT selection of the 1997 Baltimore Orioles? Well, obviously they won't be participating in the 2018 GMABT, but that does not mean that I will not use them in a future tournament elsewhere. This team is a underrated APBA gem that could do some serious harm in tournament play... to be honest, I really liked my chances, and feel to not let this team get a shot in the future would be a shame.

So the O's will get their shot at some point...

You can read my post "Odd Birds" that I wrote back on March 13th about my excitement of this team, and what they had to offer as a team.

Sure... I am bummed, but I am really looking forward to watching my only sister getting married to her man, Morgan this upcoming year!

My sister Sara, with her cat, Sufi.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Tournament Action

The latest on my 64-game Tournament....

The 1971 Oakland Athletics come to Old Commiskey to play the 1917 Chicago White Sox. Oakland jumped to a 2-0 lead after a two-out single by Vida Blue, followed by two-run homer by Bert Campaneris during the top of the 3rd.

Blue would not allow a base runner until the bottom of the 5th (Happy Felsch double).

The White Sox would eventually come around, with back-to-back RBI hits by "Shoeless" Joe Jackson & Happy Felsch in the 7th; Swede Risberg led off 8th with a single & steal of second, as pinch-hitting pitcher Reb Russell would drive home the go-ahead run -- with Russell holding on to the lead for the one-inning save.

This is the second tournament in a row, that the 71' Athletics failed to get past the first round; The furthest that the 17' White Sox have gone is the Sweet 16 (2014).

The 1912 New York Giants would lose to the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies (2014 Runner-Up), 2-1. These tournaments have not been kind to these Giants, as they have been knocked all three times in the 1st Round, with Christy Mathewson (Grade A-YZZ) on the mound.

The 1940 Detroit Tigers pulled off a huge upset of the 1931 Philadelphia Athletics, as the Tigers kept Al Simmons quiet for the most part, by intentionally walking him twice; The second time they paid the price as Jimmie Foxx's two-run triple momentarily tied the game at 3-3 during the bottom of the 7th.

Rudy York's two-run homer in the 9th off of Lefty Grove was the difference, as Tigers win 5-3.

The 2012 Detroit Tigers were no match for the 1937 New York Yankees, as the Tigers lose 8-1; Myril Hoag went 4-for-5, with a HR short of the cycle, with 2 steals & 4 runs scored... Joltin' Joe DiMaggio added a two-run HR to go along with 2 more RBI.

The 1969 Atlanta Braves at 1927 New York Yankees featured the two greatest home run sluggers of all-time in Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth. Aaron would get things going early with a solo HR in the 2nd, while Rico Carty would add a solo HR as well, to give Atlanta a 2-0 lead, while Lou Gehrig answered back with a two-run HR in the bottom of the 4th.

Phil Niekro (Atlanta) and Waite Hoyt (New York), both Grade A-YZ, were excellent, while going the distance, but after a lead-off double to Ruth in the 9th, would lead to a walk-off single to right for the Yankees' Bob Meusel.

The 1927 Yankees improve to 10-1 in tournament play (winning it all in 2014), while the 1969 Braves have yet to get to the 2nd Round through two tournament entries.

The Next Round features the following match-ups:

  • 2013 Cardinals @1937 Yankees
  • 1993 White Sox @ 1914 Braves
  • 1977 Phillies @ 1927 Yankees
  • 2004 Angels @ 2012 Nationals
  • 2013 Red Sox @ 1979 Pirates (Defending Champs)
  • 1993 Phillies @ 1901 Pirates
  • 1940 Tigers @ 1904 Giants
  • 1987 Tigers @ 1909 Pirates
  • 1948 Braves @ 1971 Pirates
  • 1934 Cardinals @ 1948 Indians
  • 2012 Angels @ 1909 Tigers
  • 1986 Astros @ 1917 White Sox
  • 1929 Cubs @ 1946 Red Sox
  • 1975 Reds @ 1998 Yankees
  • 2013 Dodgers @ 1957 Braves
  • 1981 Expos @ 1995 Indians
Home teams dictate DH or pitchers hitting.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Inspiring One Another

The great thing about the APBA Facebook Group, we always seem to inspire one another on our many APBA projects. I got inspired when I was reading about my friend Rich Zawadzki's Monster 254-team Tournament, so I decided to kick off the dust off a 64-game tournament that I had started back in 2016.

I have completed two 64-team tournaments in the past, the first one (2014) was won by the 1927 New York Yankees over the 1993 Philadelphia Phillies; The second tournament witnessed the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates ("We Are Family") defeating the 1946 Boston Red Sox in a 13-Inning final, 2-0.

Resuming the late 1st Round, which had just a handful of games remaining, I decided to play the 2002 Oakland Athletics at 1995 Cleveland Indians.

The game went back-and-forth, Oakland kept their starter Barry Zito (Grade A-X) out there the entire game, but Cleveland wins the game with a walk-off home run by Jim Thome. The final score to the game was 5-4, yet featured 5 homers by both teams combined.

For Cleveland, it was the first time the 1995 Tribe got past the 1st Round, while this is the first time the 2002 Athletics could not get past the 1st Round, going as far as the Elite Eight back in 2015.

The last 5 games to play in the 1st Round are as follows:

  • 1971 Oakland Athletics at 1917 Chicago White Sox
  • 1993 Philadelphia Phillies at 1912 New York Giants
  • 1940 Detroit Tigers at 1931 Philadelphia Athletics
  • 2012 Detroit Tigers at 1937 New York Yankees
  • 1969 Atlanta Braves at 1927 New York Yankees
My tournament features a 1-2 pitching rotation, with aces pitching in the Championship Final.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Early Peek at 2018 Tigers (They could be historically bad!!!)

One of the few bright spots - Jeimer Candelario.
For some Tigers fans it may be too early to talk about the upcoming disaster-to-be that will be the 2018 Detroit Tigers season. The Tigers are in the early stages of what appears to be a long rebuild, while they are currently hampered by huge contracts on the books & a weak farm system.

We are suffering from the aftershocks of a Dombrowski-led team, in which year-after-year, we did whatever we could to try to compete for a championship, by trading away all our prospects and spending every bit of cash to get us over the top...

The top never came, and now the foundation of what was a championship club, is in ruins. We have a few statues remaining, reminding us of the good times, but as of late those that are left, have been just that... statues.

We really have nothing to build around, and the pillars we thought we had, are not as strong as we first thought, with players like Michael Fulmer dealing with injuries.

I was online reading about our probable lineups, I believe it was the Detroit Free Press that had these players for our starting lineup next season...
  • C - James McCann
  • 1B - Miguel Cabrera
  • 2B - Rawel Lugo
  • SS - Dixon Machado
  • 3B - Jeimer Candelario
  • LF - Mikie Mahtook
  • CF - Jacoby Jones
  • RF - Nicholas Castellanos
  • DH - Victor Martinez
The Tigers have since traded second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Los Angeles Angels, while signing a one-year deal with Jose Iglesias.

The Tigers probably won't get much in return as for prospects, and to eat some of the contract, let's say $5-$6 million really wouldn't be worth the trouble. We are already going to have to wait on Miguel Cabrera's & Jordan Zimmerman's contracts to come off the books, while we are still shelling out $16 million total for Justin Verlander's contract. 

Trading my favorite player in Verlander was a great deal for the Detroit Tigers. Yes, you want to see such icons retire for their teams... but at the same time, it is a business as well, and we executed this trade perfectly, by getting the Houston Astros to eat $40 million off the books for us, while acquiring a solid package of prospects in return.

  • RHP - Franklin Perez - No surprise, currently ranks as the Tigers' #1 prospect, and ranks #40 among all MLB prospects. He's only 19, but has exceeded at all levels, prematurely, so he should get to the Majors quickly. I can see him on the Opening Day roster in 2019.
  • OF - Daz Cameron - The son of former big leaguer Mike Cameron, his speed & defense will likely get him to the majors before his bat does. He will likely be on the big league roster full-time as early as 2020, while likely making his debut in 2019.
  • C - Jake Rogers - Finished a strong season at Class A+ and will likely jump to Double-A in 2018.
The Tigers have a lousy 2018 ahead of them, their two best players last season in WAR was Justin Upton (5.2) & Justin Verlander (4.5), both playing elsewhere the last two months; The next best player was Michael Fulmer (3.5 WAR), who missed considerable time last season.

Game results chart courtesy of Baseball Referrence.
They also were 51-58 after a win on August 4th... After that? They were 13-40, giving them a .245 winning percentage, multiply that by 162 games, that would only come out to a 40-122 record -- which would tie the 1962 Mets for the worst record in MLB history. The Tigers, back in 2003, flirted with the American League record for worst record, as they went 43-119.

I agree with my father they should have moved Nicholas Castellanos (instead of right field) to first, move Miguel Cabrera to Designated Hitter, while telling Victor Martinez (who just had heart surgery) to stay home, retire and enjoy your money... we need to move forward! No V-Mart, please! Miguel's back is bad, and its time to put him at DH for good.... I can live without the power, but when Miggy is struggling to hit .250 that should be a definite red flag.

The Tigers only other moves this off-season involve the signings of outfielder Leonys Martin and pitcher Mike Fiers.... nothing to write home about.

This team will be bad, and us Tigers fans will have to be patient for the future.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Twinkies Trip Up Tigers for 2-1 Series Win (1981 Tigers)

The Minnesota Twins were a horrible team back in 1981. This is a Twins team that existed before Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Frank Viola & Gary Gaetti came along, while going 41-68 in 1981... The Twins did far worse for my friend Kenneth Heard during his 1981 APBA Season project.

I got my 1981 set from my friend Kenneth Heard, his Twins did much worse for his 1981 APBA Season project by going 48-114, while also losing 26 straight games. The Detroit Tigers did great for him, finishing tied in 1st at season's end with the Baltimore Orioles, in which the Tigers won the one-game playoff... only for the Tigers to eventually lose to the Kansas City Royals in the 1981 American League Championship Series, 3-1.

So I was taken back as my dice went ice-cold, losing a three-game series with the Twinkies, 2-1. My hottest pitcher Dan Petry (10-2) got rocked, allowing 7 earned runs, 6 hits & 2 walks in only 2 innings -- bumping up his ERA to 2.70 for the season.

Mickey Hatcher killed us in the 3rd game, by going 3-for-5, with a triple, 3 RBI & 2 runs; Glenn Adams (2-for-4, RBI 2B & SF) and Ron Jackson (2-for-5, RBI) chipped in as well.

My Tigers have now lost 5 of their last 7 games, while losing two straight series for the first time this season; The Tigers are only 2-4 in the month of June, after going 21-7 in May.

Good news is that Tom Brookens returns from his injury, and will be ready to go to Texas to play the Texas Rangers; Tigers swept the Rangers at home, 3-0.

We should be in good enough shape to win the first-half division title with four games remaining, two against Texas & another two games against the Twins. Here is the standings below....

For those who were wondering, Kenneth's project ended with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning the World Series, 4-2 over Kansas City; Dodgers defeated the Montreal Expos in the NLCS to get there.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Brew Crew Bumps Around Tigers for 2-1 Series Win

Cecil Cooper was all smiles for Milwaukee.
June 1st-3rd (Games #48-50)

The 1981 Detroit Tigers won their last series against the Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee, for a 3-1 series win, almost a week ago (Games #41-45)... This time? It did not go so well.

The Tigers were in excellent shape, winning 10 of their last 14 games, while the Tigers' sluggers were drooling over the chance to face two Grade D pitchers (Lerch & Jim Slaton) & one Grade C Pitcher (Caldwell). 

The Brew Crew's bats jumped all over Jack Morris, with 7 runs in the first two innings -- including two big home runs by Milwaukee in Gorman Thomas's three-run homer in the 1st & Cecil Cooper's two-run homer in the 2nd; Morris finished the game allowing 7 hits, 7 earned runs (8 runs) & a walk in only 2.2 innings of work.

The Brewers' Randy Lerch earns a sloppy win (5 ER in 5 innings), while Morris falls to a 4-5 record, with his ERA jumping up to 3.61 .

The Tigers came within 4 runs in the bottom of the 4th (trailing 9-5) & during the bottom of the 8th as well (final score of 11-7)... but the damage was done. The Tigers' Lynn Jones had 3 RBI, while Alan Trammell had 2 RBI in the losing effort.

By the way, the Tigers suffered a weird jinx with Tom Brookens getting injured playing third during the top of the 3rd; Brookens was highlighted in my previous blog piece. Brookens will miss the next 5 games, while Richie Hebner will move from first base to third, while the Tigers will have to depend on bad-fielding John Wockenfuss at first.

The next night had Mike Caldwell (Grade C-Z) against Milt Wilcox (Grade B-Z), but Wilcox ran into the same problem Morris did in Game 1 of the series, as the Brewers' bats jumped all over Wilcox in the 1st inning -- Ben Oglivie hit a three-run homer to jump start the team, which would prove to be the cushion they needed in their 5-2 victory.

Al Cowens went 2-for-4, with a double & two RBI for the Tigers, while Cecil Cooper was again active for the Brewers -- going 3-for-4, two doubles, 2 RBI & a run scored.

With the first two losses to Milwaukee, added to the previous loss to Baltimore just prior, the Tigers lost three games straight -- setting their season's biggest losing streak to date.

The real-life 1981 Detroit Tigers suffered a far worse losing streak from April 19th through April 29th... losing 10 straight games, which is one of the reasons why these Tigers could not win the 1st-half division title; I actually reversed history, and my team went 7-3 during that rough patch, which is one of the reasons that I have the Tigers in good shape for the 1st half division title.

The third & final game of the series witnessed the Tigers bouncing back, with Dan Petry winning his 10th game (10-1 record), while allowing only 2 earned runs & 5 hits through 7 strong innings, despite three walks.

Alan Trammell went 3-for-4, all singles, with 2 RBI to help the Tigers avoid their first series sweep.

Next up: The lousy Minnesota Twins (15-34) visit the Detroit Tigers (34-16).

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Brookens Continues to Surprise (1981 Tigers)

Tom Brookens continues to surprise in my 1981 Detroit Tigers Season Replay for APBA Baseball, while the Tigers continue to roll over the American League with a 33-14 record through the first two months.

Brookens is batting .261 with 4 HR & 29 RBI (.674 OPS) through 45 games (165 AB)... To some these stats may not knock you over, but considering that in real life, he only batted .243 with 4 HR & 25 RBI through the entire 1981 season (71 games & 239 AB)... this is pretty good.

Brookens currently ranks 2nd on the team in RBI (behind Parrish's 40), which is higher than better hitters such as Steve Kemp (27), Kirk Gibson (26) & Alan Trammell (22).

The Tigers just finished a 21-7 month of May & now prepare to kick off June, by hosting the Milwaukee Brewers (25-21, 7.5 GB / 3rd Place).

Other Tigers' news

  • Lance Parrish has been out-slugging his 1981 Season through APBA, by hitting 16 HR & 40 RBI through 47 games; Parrish led the Tigers in 1981 with 10 HR, along with 46 RBI (2nd to Kemp) through 96 games of action. Parrish's .895 OPS is also better than his real-life .704 OPS.
  • Aurelio Lopez's scoreless innings streak has officially came to end at 31.2 innings pitched, he currently has a 0.24 ERA with 22 K & 7 walks... not bad for a Grade D(C*)-Y pitcher.
  • Dan Petry has improved to 9-1, with a 2.08 ERA & 60 K's through 91 innings of work.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Start of the 1994 Atlanta Braves' Season (Out of the Park)

Tony Phillips might be key to Atlanta's success.
The Atlanta Braves fell short in 1991 to Jack Morris & the Minnesota Twins... Then through the magical world of Out of the Park, the Braves would get a chance at a repeat against the Twins, only to choke and lose the series (yet) again.

Another thing to keep in mind, this an alternate league without 1993 expansion teams, such as the Colorado Rockies & Florida Marlins... with the original 1969 Division setup & playoff system.

The Braves would almost slide and miss the playoffs in 1993 -- narrowly defeating the Houston Astros for the N.L. West Division title, only to again fall short of a world title -- as Andres Galarraga (returning from a one-year hiatus in St. Louis) leads the Montreal Expos over the Oakland Athletics in the 1993 World Series.

The Atlanta Braves strengthened their lineup by acquiring on-base machine Tony Phillips to be their lead-off man. The team also made sure it kept John Smoltz (9 years / $38.6 million) & Tom Glavine (6 years / $33.6 million) around for some time.

The team also picked up two Rule 5 Draftees in Mike Timlin & Jeff Juden; Timlin will be working out of the pen, while Juden will log some innings in the 5th slot of the rotation.

What's the skinny, Giambi?
The Braves traded Bob Tewksbury away in a salary dump move to acquire third base prospect Jason Giambi from Oakland; Tewksbury went 6-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 17 starts for the Braves, but his results were limited due to injuries... Tewksbury can opt out of Oakland after the 1994 season. Giambi will likely play first base in the future, once Fred McGriff becomes to expensive to keep (McGriff can opt out after 1996).

The Atlanta Braves' bullpen is strong with Roberto Hernandez as its closer. Mark Wohlers and Mike Maddux provide strength in the setup roles, to go along with the rest of the pen that contains Mike Stanton, Kent Mercker & Pete Smith.

The Atlanta Braves have started the season, 7-2, with their only losses to the Houston Astros (Season Opener) and the San Diego Padres; They have been strong with series victories over San Diego (3-1) and the Cincinnati Reds (3-game sweep).

Phillips has proved to be a great signing so far, batting .314 (11-for-35) with 2 HR & 5 RBI to go along with his 11 bases on balls. Chipper Jones has been ice cold though, batting .129 (4-for-31) with only 2 RBI & a .385 OPS to date; Jones was sat out April 19th in favor of Giambi that day.

Through 2 starts each, the Braves' top four pitchers have been excellent...
  • Greg Maddux: 1-0, 0.64 ERA, 9 K / 1 BB, 0.857 WHIP in 14 IP.
  • Tom Glavine: 2-0, 2.70 ERA, 16 K / 4 BB, 1.050 WHIP in 13.1 IP.
  • John Smoltz: 1-0, 1.26 ERA, 18 K / 6 BB, 0.698 WHIP in 14.1 IP; left game pitching a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres through 7.1 innings... which bullpen surrendered hit.
  • Steve Avery: 2-0, 1.69 ERA, 11 K / 4 BB, 1.125 WHIP in 16 IP.
Next up... The Los Angeles Dodgers (4-5) come to Atlanta.

Monday, January 8, 2018

2014 Detroit Tigers Off to Great Start (Out of the Park)

Albert Pujols has added tons of punch to lineup.
So I tried rewrite all the wrongs that Dave Dombrowski made, I have succeeded at keeping Max Scherzer for a bit longer, while not trading away players like Devon Travis. I also have made great additions without costing the team too much of its future as well, with players like Kole Calhoun and a relatively cheap signing of Albert Pujols.

A 11-3 start is the result, and although we are predicted to win the A.L. Central this season, I am not taking it for granted.

This is how my lineup is doing....
  • 1) Devon Travis (2B): .333 AVG, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 3 SB (.893 OPS) in 66 AB.
  • 2) Nick Castellanos (3B): .258 AVG, 2 HR & 8 RBI with 15 runs (.749 OPS) in 62 AB.
  • 3) Miguel Cabrera (1B): .327 AVG, 4 HR & 11 RBI with 13 runs (.979 OPS) in 55 AB.
  • 4) Justin Upton (LF): .345 AVG, 5 HR & 16 RBI with 15 runs (1.104 OPS) in 58 AB.
  • 5) Kole Calhoun (RF): .294 AVG. 2 HR & 11 RBI (.859 OPS) in 51 AB.
  • 6) Albert Pujols (DH): .370 AVG, 4 HR & 17 RBI with 10 runs (1.100 OPS) in 54 AB.
  • 7) Austin Jackson (CF): .357 AVG, 1 HR, 8 RBI & 7 doubles (.991 OPS) in 56 AB.
  • 8) Zack Cozart (SS): .245 AVG, 3 HR & 8 RBI (.737 OPS) in 49 AB.
  • 9) James McCann (C): .207 AVG, 0 HR & 5 RBI (.682 OPS) in 29 AB.
I'm thinking about doing a tweak to the lineup soon, with Austin Jackson possibly hitting second, with Nick Castellanos falling to the 7th slot; Castellanos' On-Base Percentage (.311) & .258 Batting Average is too low for my liking at the #2 slot. I will also be moving Albert Pujols to the 5th slot, switching with Kole Calhoun; Pujols is batting .556 (10-for-18) with 2 HR & 7 RBI during his last five games.

The rotation seems to be doing its job for the most part, Max Scherzer (2-0, 3.98 ERA, 20 K) & Justin Verlander (2-0, 3.38 ERA & 7 K) head the rotation, while Yovani Gallardo & Rick Porcello may not have been consistent, they have shown signs of better things to come.

The bullpen (like in real-life) was the problem last season, and I feel we may have finally got it stabilized with the addition of Andrew Miller (2.89 ERA, 14 K, 1.07 WHIP & 154 ERA+); Miller joins last season's Rule 5 pickups up Dellin Betances (1.23 ERA, 8 K in 7.1 IP) & Brandon Kintzler (2-0, 4.76 ERA in 5.1 IP), along with closer Joaquin Benoit (6 SV, 1.42 ERA). 

Don't get me wrong, I loved Dombrowski for the most part, he helped make Detroit baseball relevant again, but I felt at the end we just started throwing away too much of our future away, which now has cost us... the upcoming 2018 season, is going to be an ugly one for the Tigers.

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