Thursday, May 9, 2019

1978 Brothers in Dice: Out of the Gate

As I mentioned in previous post, my brother Chris Baier and I, are replaying the 1978 MLB Season together, with him playing the National League, and with me playing the American League. I have already rolled 47 games since Easter, and that involves about 38 games logged in the team-by-team statistics & write-ups for about 33 of those games (27 of those games reported on APBA's Between the Lines Delphi Forums.

So if you are following me on "Brothers in Dice: 1978 MLB Replay, A.L." on the Delphi Forums, don't read below -- Spoiler Alert!

Here is some of the action so far..

The American League East is already playing out as advertised with 6 teams all within 2 games from one another. At the moment, the Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers lead the division with a 4-2 record.

The Tigers have just won their 3rd straight (winning their series finale against Texas, plus two straight against Toronto). The Tigers' Rusty Staub took a little bit to get going, but has been on fire during this streak, batting 7-for-13 (.538) with 3 HR & 10 RBI (He was 0-for-11 during the previous three games). The Tigers consistent leader has been Ron LeFlore, batting .444 with 12 hits, a HR & 4 stolen bases. 

The Brewers' lineup is just sick, it's pretty scary when Gorman Thomas is your 7th hitter in the batting order. The Brew Crew's Larry Hisle is currently tied for the American League with 4 home runs, while being tied with Oakland's Gary Alexander. Personally, I believe this Brewers team is the team to beat in the A.L. East, plus they have yet to plug Mike Caldwell into the rotation, who went on to win 22 games in 1978 with a 2.36 ERA while leading the league with 23 complete games. Caldwell did already win a game through 3 innings of relief in a big 8-6 victory over the New York Yankees.

Caldwell of course, did not win the A.L. Cy Young in 1978, any other year he may have, but he was against a man named Ron Guidry. The Yankees' Guidry (Grade A&C-KZ) for the most part has been spectacular his first two outings, he allowed only 2 hits & 1 earned run, striking out 9 in 9 innings against the Rangers in his season debut, while he was in cruise-control during his 2nd outing, until he stayed in a inning too long & got rocked for 4 runs in the 9th... 

Even so, his season totals are as follows -- 1-0, 3.06 ERA, 21 K & 11 BB (17.2 innings)... The walks are high, but he has only allowed 7 hits, which gives him an excellent 1.019 WHIP still. If you take away the 4-run 9th inning against the White Sox, he has a 1.08 ERA (2 ER) through 16.2 innings. 

The Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals kicked off the season in back-to-back games that went to extras. During the first game, Cleveland pitchers walked 11 Royals, but Kansas City kept stranding their men, leading to extras, but Al Cowens' RBI double in the top of the 11th helped the Royals defeat Cleveland. The next game went 15 innings, the Royals would be triumphant again, but once again K.C. should have put the game away earlier, as they had 16 hits, while Cleveland only had 5 hits!

If things couldn't get worse, both teams would go on to play someone else for their 3rd games, and both would still go to extras... again! This time K.C. losing to Baltimore through 10 innings, while Cleveland lost again, this time to Boston, 2-1. Cleveland lost all three of their first three games in extras, losing by no more than one run. 

Cleveland was only batting .180 through the first 4 games, while their pitching has actually been stellar in the ERA department, with a 1.76 ERA (particularly their starting pitching, 1.09 ERA).

The Boston Red Sox like the Milwaukee Brewers have a monster lineup, and although they are 3-3 and in excellent shape to compete for the division, it so far has not come by the hands of stars such as Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk & Fred Lynn -- who were a combined 8-for-51 (.157), while it has been the two men at the top of their order in Rick Burleson & Jerry Remy, who were a combined 15-for-28 (.536). Remy started the season with three consecutive games with 3 hits each, while he is still batting .423 through 5 games.

Over in the A.L. West, the California Angels were on 7th Heaven with their 7-0 start to the season, until getting blanked by Oakland, 6-0. Through their first 6 games, the Angels were batting .290, while their pitching was lights out with a 1.77 team ERA. They outscored their opponents, 40-11 (+29 Run Differential), even though they only hit 4 home runs. The team has already had three innings of 5+ runs, their biggest being an 8-run outburst in the 4th inning during their 3rd victory of the season, in a 11-0 shutout against Oakland. Bobby Grich has been heating up at the plate, which included a 4-for-5 performance that included a HR, 2 doubles, 5 RBI, 4 runs & a walk.

The Kansas City Royals have been trying to keep pace, and are currently in 2nd place with a 4-1 record. The Angels and Rangers in real-life finished 1978 in second place, and I believe that at the moment, the Royals and Angels should definitely be in the mix. The Texas Rangers in the meantime are not looking like a division contender one bit. They are worst off than the Indians, with a .151 batting average & lousy 5.87 team ERA. Jon Matlack (Grade A-YZ) is the only Rangers pitcher worth talking about, who is currently 0-2 with a 2.55 ERA & 11 strikeouts. 

Two players off to really hot starts, are Seattle's Bruce Bochte is batting .410 (16-for-39) with 2 HR & 13 RBI through 10 games, while Minnesota's Dan Ford is batting .429 (18-for-42) with no HR, but 15 RBI through 10 games. 

Quick Glance at the National League (through 23 games): On Chris's side, I do know that the St.Louis Cardinals opened the season by sweeping the Philadelphia Phillies. The New York Mets won a double-header against the Montreal Expos, to split series 2-2. The Atlanta Braves are off to a surprise 3-1 start, with Gary Matthews hitting his 2nd HR recently.

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