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.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

All Zeros for Aurelio

Aurelio "Senor Smoke" Lopez
I mentioned in my last post that Aurelio Lopez has been spectacular for me during my 1981 Tigers Season Replay, in which has allowed no earned runs (or runs for that matter) through 22.1 innings of relief work.

Did I mention that his APBA pitching grade is a D (C*)-Y ?!
No Z's even...

Now Aurelio enters the Tigers' 41st game, having to do an emergency start for the rotation, due to the double-header against Baltimore that through the rotations' rest out of sync... which means his scoreless innings streak will definitely be in jeopardy with his Grade D starting grade.

The Detroit Tigers start their road stretch and will have to go to Milwaukee to face a lineup that has been giving American League pitchers fits through recent years. I go with the actual boxscores for the opponents I play, and even though the Brewers appear to be without Paul Molitor (probable injury), they still have a tough lineup with the likes of Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie, Gorman Thomas, Ted Simmons & Jim Gantner.

What appeared to be a tough day in store for Lopez, it ended up being just that for his Milwaukee counterpart Jim Slaton; The Tigers' bats jumped all over Slaton during the first two innings (7 runs) which gave Lopez some breathing room.

Throughout the game, Milwaukee definitely had its scoring chances against Lopez --  with 7 hits, runners on bases due to two errors & a wild pitch that advanced a runner to second... Most of these scoring chances came with only one out, while they had big bats in Oglivie, Cooper & Thomas up... but somehow by the graces of the APBA gods, Lopez kept dodging bullets.

Lopez would eventually advance from a Grade D to a Grade A, but I decided with one out, a runner on second & Cecil Cooper up in the 8th Inning, that I would not risk the scoreless streak and bring in Kevin Saucier from the pen.

Sure, it would have been cool to watch Lopez pitch a shutout in possibly his only start of the season, but I didn't want to push his luck against a lineup at any moment that could ruin the streak. 

Saucier would complete the combined 10-0 shutout of the Brewers, as Milwaukee falls to 6.5 games back (5th place) of Detroit.

Aurelio Lopez: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 16 games, 1 GS, 22 K / 6 BB & .708 WHIP in 29.2 innings.

The Detroit Tigers have 3 games remaining in this series with the Brew Crew, and a up-coming home series in about a week against them as well...

Meanwhile, talks of a MLB Strike looms over the season.
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