Wednesday, March 22, 2023

March Updates (AGBA & GMABT)

Here are some quick updates for the month of March, on projects and future posts.

AGBA Baseball Season I

Here are the standings for the APBA Galaxy Baseball Association (AGBA)

The New York Pigeons (of the Eastern League's Ruth Division) has acquired some more breathing room between them and their closest competition by sweeping their 4-game series at home, against the Florida Rockets (who have now lost 6 straight). The Pigeons have one of the best records in AGBA when playing at home, sporting a 15-6 record. The Baltimore Bombers have idled all season at the .500 mark, and are at the moment, the 2nd place team.

If this season's trends continue, there should be 3 playoff teams coming out of the Robinson Division. The Philadelphia Veterans appeared to be the solid third team, and possible 2nd place team, but has now hit the skids, sliding to 4th place, with Washington slipping past them. The Washington Maroons success has been due to their lineup starting to wake up. The Maroons moved shortstop Trea Turner up to the leadoff spot, and he hasn't looked back -- batting .389, 1 HR, 5 RBI with 6 runs, while reaching base with a .421 OBP and stealing 4 bases during recent 8-game stretch. 

The Carolina Twins remains by an edge on top of the Robinson Division, while both Carolina and the Atlanta Firebirds won each of their last 4-game series, 3-1. The Brooklyn Mets rebounded from an 4-0 sweep against Carolina two weeks ago, by going 5-2-1 their last 8 games. The Mets may be adding a big bat before the Trade Deadline, by trading one of their surplus of pitchers. The Mets are in 5th place in their division, 18 points back, but have the potential to get back into the division race with the rotation that they have.

The Detroit Wolverines may be starting to add their name to the AGBA Title contenders with their recent 7-2-1 stretch, while the Cobb Division favorite Cleveland Spiders have lost their webbing, and found themselves in their worst stretch of the season (4-6, last 10 games). The Wolverines host the same Toronto Reds that won their series, 3-1 against Cleveland, while the Spiders look to rebound against the gold & purple, facing off against the Kansas City Monarchs on the road. Toronto looked good against Cleveland, and hope to build on their recent momentum.

The Milwaukee Braves remain in 1st place in the Young Division, as they are in control with a 9-point cushion over the St. Louis Saints. The Braves host the struggling Saints next. The Saints have lost 7 of their last 10 games, as their bats cooled off. St. Louis has scored 4 runs-or-less during 8 of their last 10 games. 

The Twin Cities Giants continue to move in a positive position, but due to the rough start to the season, still remain 16 points (8 games behind).

The Houston Rattlers are tied with the Carolina Twins with the best record in the entire Galaxy League, each showing off a 23-10-1 record (.696 winning pct). The Rattlers are strong in all areas, lineup, rotation, pen & bench, and appear to be the overwhelming favorite to win the division. Houston's closest competition are the San Jose Athletics, who recently slowed down the hot Los Angeles Guardians

The Denver Miners now appear to be the team to beat in the Wagner Division. The Miners' lineup have been explosive at the plate, while they have got clutch starting pitching out of Pat Jarvis (5-1, 2.19) and Frank Viola, who has a 3-1 record and 2.72 ERA (1.93 ERA in last 3 starts) since being acquired from Twin Cities.

Denver's Andres Galarraga is making a serious push for the Western League's MVP Award, by hitting .479 with 4 HR & 14 RBI, plus 10 doubles during his last 12 games. Galarraga also has a remarkable .528 OBP, 1.063 slugging & a Ruthian-plus 1.591 OPS during the hot streak. Teammate Dante Bichette has also been one of AGBA's hottest hitters recently, batting .375 with 4 HR & 12 RBI (.426 OBP & 1.238 OPS) during the same stretch.

Don't look now, but the Arlington Stars have come alive, and quietly snuck past the underachieving Los Angeles Royals and San Francisco Seals (the two preseason favorites to go head-to-head for the division). The Stars' rotation has been consistently good for the past couple weeks, while the lineup has been much better, although they need Juan Gonzalez (.239 AVG) and Frank Howard (.222 AVG) to step up. Although Howard is among the league leaders with 11 home runs this season, he has not hit a dinger in two weeks, while he has batted .133 (6-for-45) during the stretch.

Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament IX (GMABT)

I plan to do a future post on returning to Jackson, Michigan after a 6-year absence. What I can tell you right now is that Norm Zavela navigated the 1984 Detroit Tigers ("Bless You Boys") to win the tournament's 9th tourney. 

Many APBA-heads can tell you that guiding the 1984 Tigers to any success is a somewhat rarity. The 1984 Tigers and 1986 Mets, are two very memorable MLB teams, each with colorful characters and great bench players, but for some reason many dice rollers have had a hard time equally their MLB success. There could be numerous reasons for such, in my honest opinion is that many managers (including myself) have used numerous lineups for each of these teams, with many different starters as well, and APBA managers may have altered the lineups during one single tournament as well, once they felt they had to change things up.

I found out after my first few APBA tournaments that keeping one consistent lineup helps out tremendously, then it's all down to if you are rolling good dice or not. In my first GMABT tournament, I took the deadball 1917 Chicago White Sox and changed the lineup a few times over, with Eddie Collins and a couple others shifting around. I lost a couple close ones, but short story -- I didn't do well, plus my friend Ron Emch pointed out afterwards, I probably should have hit-and-run much more. Plus I think most APBA fans also know, unless it's a deadball era tournament, it's overall best to stay away from using a deadball team.

The next year, I ended up winning the Greater Michigan with a never-changing lineup in the 1993 Atlanta Braves, going 8-2 in the division, while winning my 3 playoff games for the title (11-2 overall record). I had the #1 seed in my 1st Glass City Tournament with the 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers, also due to sticking with one lineup -- by the way, all four of the top seeds (including mine) got knocked out by the bottom four seeded teams in that tournament.

It would be great to hear from Norman on how he navigated such a great (but difficult) team to the title. I do know that Ruppert Jones (pictured at top) was named the APBA Tournament MVP for the Tigers, having a 3 HR game during the day, while hitting the clutch homer in the GMABT championship game. Kudos on a job well done!

More to come on the tournament...

Saturday, March 4, 2023

AGBA's Big Money Makers

Here is a list of each franchise's highest paid players during AGBA Season I. The list might make you laugh, but consider the seasons we are using in this project (1968, 1993 & 2018). For example, Ken Harrelson is the Florida Rockets' highest paid player on Florida due to his big year in 1968. The salary system also puts an emphasis on playing time, multiple position availability, and defense -- which is why Jay Bell (a APBA fielding '9' at short) is the Pittsburgh Arsenal's highest paid player, playing in 154 games, while also hitting .310 with 187 hits & 16 stolen bases.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

AGBA Update: 30 Games into the Season (Western League Recap)


The Houston Rattlers have had solid control of the Gehrig Division for most of the season, while they have a 13point, 6.5 game lead over both the Los Angeles Guardians and the Seattle Captains. Houston has also won 11 of their last 15 games.

The Rattlers have a great balance in power at the plate, and great pitching on the mound. Mike Cuellar (3-1, 2.29) has been Houston's best pitcher, striking out 43 batters in 43.1 innings. Gerrit Cole has improved to 5-0 with 2.82 ERA & 40 K's. Their slated ace Justin Verlander (2-1) has struggled as of late, with his ERA raising above 4.00 (4.04), while giving up his 10th home run. On a plus point, JV does have 47 strikeouts in 42.1 innings. Houston's most consistent hitter has been Jeff Bagwell, batting .313 with 7 HR & 28 RBI. Craig Biggio, Alex Bregman & George Springer has heated up, while Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve have struggled mightily of late; Altuve and Correa are a combined 6-for-56 (.107) during the last 8 games.

The Los Angeles Guardians are playing their best ball of the season, winning 6 of their last 8 games, and climbing up the standings to tie Seattle (by defeating Seattle, 6-4), and walking away with a series split. Mike Trout has been on a tear during this stretch, batting .467 (14-for-30) with 7 HR, 16 RBI & swiping 6 bases during this 8-game stretch. Just prior to this stretch, Trout was struggling (.196 AVG through 18 games), but has raised his batting average to .296, while smacking 9 HR & 22 RBI to go along with 15 stolen bases (26 games). Shohei Ohtani has so far not lived up to the hype, as he has pinned up a 2-3 record with a 7.18 ERA on the mound, and has batted .250 with 0 HR, 2 RBI, while stealing 4 bases. The Guardians' George Brunet has won 5 of the Guardians' 14 wins, while Mark Langston (3-2) has collected 51 strikeouts through 41 innings (11.20 K/9). The team signed a new bat in backstop Wilson Ramos to give them some sock in the lineup.

The Seattle Captains made a splash by trading for Luis Tiant of the Cleveland Spiders and his huge contract, prior to the season. Tiant has done his part, but Seattle has had a difficult time trying to give him some run support. Tiant has a 3-3 record with 4 complete games, while posting a 2.37 ERA & 44 strikeouts. Although Randy Johnson has been a bit subpar during the 1st half of the season, the 'Big Unit' does lead the team with 46 strikeouts. Ken Griffey Jr has heated up, batting .467 (14-for-30) with 3 HR, 3 doubles & 5 RBI during the last 8-game stretch. Griffey is now batting .327 with 7 HR & 19 RBI for the season.

The San Jose Athletics (who by the way, don't wear the 'Kerry Green') thought they would be more competitive in their division this season, instead of sitting in 4th place. The team has won 4 of their last 5 games, their best stretch since their 5-game winning streak between April 2nd & April 7th. Preseason Waiver Draft pickup 2B/DH Scooter Gennett has been the team's best bat, batting .317 (39 hits) with 5 HR, 6 doubles & 18 RBI. Big Reggie Jackson is batting .239 with 6 HR & 19 RBI. Mark McGwire (who has had a hard time staying on the field) is batting .370 with 5 HR & 10 RBI in only 27 at-bats, hitting a HR in every 5.4 at-bats!

The starting pitching has not been as great as it should be. Jim Nash (2-4, 5.40 ERA & 22 K) is an APBA Grade A-YZ, but has pitched anything but. Blue Moon Odom (2-3, 6.37 ERA) has also been terrible. Chuck Dobson had a 3.04 ERA & only 5 walks allowed through his first 26.2 innings, but has since allowed 11 walks & 10 earned runs through his last 12.1 innings, raising his ERA to 4.42 for the season. Catfish Hunter (APBA Grade B-Y/10-Y) has been trending upward of late, winning his team-lead 3rd game, and lowering his ERA to 3.43 after a 1 ER allowed, 7.1 inning performance against Phoenix. 

While the Boston Colonials were trying to put together a team, while managing a salary cap. Boston made the Phoenix Rays the lucky winners to acquire J.D. Martinez. J.D. has not disappointed by hitting .294 with 9 HR, 8 doubles & 21 RBI. Martinez, not known for his fielding has played right field most of the season, allowing the DH role to be split by Mike Greenwell and Steven Pearce. Greenwell another Colonial original, was acquired through the Waiver Draft. Both Greenwell and Pearce have underachieved, but have come alive during the last 8 games, with a combined .375 (9-for-24) with each hitting a home run during the last 8 games. David Peralta leads the Rays with 10 HR & 24 RBI.

The Rays' entire rotation has been a disappointment, but recently witnessed the staff's first complete game, a 4-hit shutout by Zack Greinke, while Steve Barber getting one last chance to start (0-3, 10.50 ERA in 4 starts), has allowed only 3 ER with 11 K's through his last 15 innings (also completed a game as well). Patrick Corbin (2-2, 3.49 ERA & 42 K through 38.2 IP) has been the club's best starting pitcher.

You have heard of the term, What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, and for this team that is relatively true, everyone sees their record (10-20) and it's easy to think there is absolutely nothing go on with this team. The one bright spot has been SP Pete Harnish (3-3, 3.48 ERA & 52 K in 44 IP), who will have a difficult time staying in Vegas, with buying teams sniffing around for talent. Cecil Fielder carries his hot May into June, clubbing a few more home runs -- giving him 7 HR & 20 RBI. Joe Carter who had no HR through his first 18 games, has hit 3 HR during his last 7 games.

The Wagner Division has been a dog fight for most of the season, the San Diego Tigers found themselves on top for a good month, until their recent 2-6 skid. The Tigers have been a surprise team that started out 13-5, but have been 3-8-1 since then. Although San Diego has been sliding of late, they only find themselves (tied with San Francisco Seals) 1 point and a half-game back of the Los Angeles Royals and Denver Miners. In fact, the last place Portland Thorns are only 9 points & 4.5 games out of 1st place.

Let's begin with the Los Angeles Royals, who along with San Francisco, were probably the preseason picks to compete for the division. The Royals just haven't got rolling, with their best stretch being a 6-1 stretch between April 10th & April 18th. They find themselves currently tied on top, due to the rest of the division sliding back. With the talent that the Royals have, you definitely would expect more things from this team. 

The Royals have at least 8 pitchers with an APBA Grade 11 (B or above) or higher, that the team could start a game. The team primarily uses Don Drysdale (Grade A-Y/17-Y), Don Sutton (Grade B-X/14-X), Walker Buehler (Grade B-XZ/14-XZ), Claude Osteen (B-Z/11-Z) and Bill Singer (B-X/13-X) for their rotation. The Royals use Hyun-Jin Ryu (Grade A-XZ/18-XZ) as a high-leverage long reliever, and as a backup emergency starter, while Ramon Martinez and Mudcat Grant are used strictly out of the bullpen. Counting Grant, the Royals have 5 relievers in Jim Brewer, Jim Gott, Roger McDowell, and Hank Aguirre with Grades of 15+ (A or higher).

Buehler has been the Royals' best pitcher, showing off a 3-1 record, 1.98 ERA & 35 K's through 41 innings of work. Drysdale has pitched better of late, winning his team-best 4th win of the season, while lowering his season ERA to 4.40, while placing 2nd on the team with 32 strikeouts. Sutton and Osteen have struggled most of the season so far. 

The Royals' hitting through the first 22 games, had Manny Machado (.262 AVG) with their best batting average. The team is loaded with players such as Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, Cody Bellinger, Eric Karros and Brett Butler to go along with Machado, Piazza & Muncy. Simply put, Royals fans expect more. Mike Piazza is looking like his old self lately, batting .303 with 1 HR & 8 RBI during his last 8 games. Piazza was only batting .239 with 3 HR & 11 RBI through his first 22 games, and has since raised his average to .256 for the season. Max Muncy has matched his 9 hits for the season, with 9 hits during his last 8 games. Muncy has also batted .360 with 3 HR & 9 RBI during this stretch, raising his average up to .255.

We move on up to the Rocky Mountains with the Denver Miners, with the Miners winning 5 of their last 7 games. The Miners' ace Pat Jarvis coming off a 3-hit shutout, has improved to 4-1 with a 1.94 ERA & 31 strikeouts through 6 starts. Dave Boswell looked solid through his first 4 starts (3-1, 2.57), but has had two really bad outings in a row (6.2 IP, 13.50 ERA). The Miners took a chance on Frank Viola (who struggled for Twin Cities), acquiring him in exchange for 1B/OF-Jerald Clark. Viola has been great with Denver so far through 4 starts -- 2-1 record, 2.45 ERA & 24 K in 29.1 innings pitched.

In the batters' box, Andres Galarraga has been a beast, batting .545 (18-for-33) during his last 8 games, while raising his season numbers to .375 AVG (45 hits), 5 HR, 25 RBI, 10 doubles, 4 triples & 19 runs. Nolan Arenado has heated up (11 for his last 29 AB, including 4 HR) during his last 7 games. Arenado only batted .192 with 3 HR & 9 RBI through his first 21 games. Dante Bichette has been solid & consistent, batting .336 with 7 HR & 27 RBI.

The San Francisco Seals (16-13-1) have been using a 4-man rotation with Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry & Ray Sadecki, pitching every 4 games, while their 4th slot in the rotation is alternated between Madison Bumgarner and John Burkett. Marichal, the team's Latin ace, has a 4-2 record, 2.61 ERA & 42 strikeouts through 62 innings. Sadecki has been red hot of late (2-0, 1.69 ERA & 22 K's during last two outings), and has improved to 5-1, 2.74 ERA & 51 K's. Gaylord has been hovering around a 4.50 ERA all season, while falling victim to the rough inning, and the long ball (8 HR allowed).

The Seals' lineup is a powerful lineup that consists of sluggers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Barry Bonds, Matt Williams & Will Clark. The Seals are one of a few teams with at least two hitters with more than 10 HR's during this point of the season. McCovey leads the team with 12 HR, to go along with his .333 batting average & 33 RBI. Bonds has 11 HR, 24 RBI, 19 BB & leads the team with 5 stolen bases. Although Williams is only batting .211, he has 8 HR & 25 RBI for the season. Will "The Thrill" has not delivered any thrill, batting below the Mendoza line at .157 (through 89 at-bats), while only posting 3 HR & 9 RBI (Teammate Willie McGee has more HR & RBI with 4 HR & 14 RBI).

Earlier I mentioned, the San Diego Tigers had somewhat control of the Wagner Division for most of the season, and there were a few factors that went into that. One of those factors have been a surprise in catcher Chad Kreuter (picked up in the Waiver Draft). Kreuter's strength has always been behind the plate, which he possibly well on his way to a Galaxy Glove this season -- throwing out 6 base stealers. Kreuter has also been good at the plate, batting .327 with 7 HR & 19 RBI. Felipe Alou has been the team's leader, batting .373 (47 hits) with 5 HR & 21 RBI. Young Phil Clark has 33 hits in 89 at-bats (.371), while collecting 3 HR & 14 RBI. The big shocker may be the fact that Tony Gwynn has struggled to reach the .300 mark (coming closest with a .286 mark) has slipped back down to a .264 batting average with 2 HR & 19 RBI. 

Larry Jackson (Grade 12-YZ) has been the Tigers' best starting pitcher with a 3-1 record, 3.00 ERA & 22 K's through 36 innings. The Tigers' closer Kirby Yates has a 1.42 ERA & 6 Saves.

After an 0-5-1 season start, the Arlington Stars have been 15-9 since, and seemed to be playing better all around the field. Frank Howard leads the Stars with 11 HR & 24 RBI, while Rafael Palmeiro is the team's best hitter, batting .272 with 8 HR & 26 RBI. Despite the season's bad start, Arlington's fans are optimistic, as the Stars split series with two tough division foes in the Royals and Seals of late. 2B Rougned Odor is the team's hottest hitter of late, batting .423 with 3 HR & 10 RBI during a 6-game stretch, improving his season numbers to .296 with 4 HR & 16 RBI.

Last are the last-place (but in striking-distance) Portland Thorns. The team knows who they are, and don't expect to compete against such stiff competition moving forward. Rumors are already swirling about trading off one of their best hitting stars in veteran 2B Lou Whitaker. Whitaker batting .292 with 6 HR & 19 RBI, has an AGBA-best 19 doubles through 30 games. The team has other trade pieces, that could bring in prospects as well in OF Aaron Hicks and SP Orel Hershiser (3-0, 4.46 ERA). Lance McCullers Jr (with only 1 game start) may soon find himself a rotation regular, as he has posted a 2.91 ERA with 21 K's through 21.2 innings.

Monday, February 27, 2023

AGBA 30 Game into the Season (Central League Recap)


The Central League consists of the Cobb Division, and the Young Division (named after Cy Young obviously). 

We will start in the more exciting division of the two, the Cobb Division in which the Cleveland Spiders (21-8-1), best record in AGBA Baseball. The Spiders opened the offseason by shocking their fans by trading away Cuban pitching star Luis Tiant to the Seattle Captains in exchange for a handful of prospects in SP Mike Hampton, 2B Fernando Vina, and veteran RP Adam Warren, plus draft picks. The Spiders were trying to cut some salary by trading away players to fit the roster salary cap, and didn't simply wanted to release Tiant for nothing in return.

The Spiders' lineup is one of the best in baseball to go with a superb rotation. The lineup consists of Kenny Lofton, Jose E. Ramirez, Albert Belle, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley and Edwin Encarnacion, while the pitching consists of ace Sam McDowell, Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, and Sonny Siebert. The team is also stacked with prospects such as Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, Shane Bieber, Hampton, Vina and more.

During a 15-game stretch, the Spiders had a 13-1-1 record, but have looked vulnerable of late, going only 6-5 during their last 11 games. Albert Belle has been ice cold all season, batting only .187 with 3 HR & 11 RBI. Meanwhile, the Spiders' best hitters have been Francisco Lindor (.292, 10 HR, 29 RBI with 13 SB & 26 runs), Jose Ramirez (.297, 11 HR & 24 RBI, 7 SB & 26 runs), and Carlos Baerga (.304, 4 HR, 21 RBI & 14 runs).

The Detroit Wolverines may have been one of the league's biggest enigmas entering the season. It was obvious that they had a strong lineup with great bench options as well, but no one knew what to expect from the pitchers. No one thought Detroit would start the season, 12-4. The Wolverines picked up P Ross Stripling in the waiver draft, and has since signed lefty specialist Oliver Perez as well. The Wolverines at this point appear to be a solid bet to reach this upcoming postseason, they have pieces to possibly make their team better coming up during All-Star break. Word from the inside, they are buyers, not sellers. Cleveland should still be able to win the Cobb Division.

The Kansas City Monarchs sporting the colors of the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers have stuck around despite their ups and downs. The team started the season, 6-1, and then lost 6 of their next 7 games. The Monarchs recently have won 5 of their last 6 games, with a stretch that included 3 consecutive 11-Inning games (going 2-1 in those games). The Monarchs of late, have also plugged Salvador Perez behind the plate, while moving Mike Macfarlane to the DH role, which seems to be bringing the team and pitching staff more stability. 

The Toronto Reds have a talented lineup, but lack solid starting pitching outside of Bobby Bolin (4-0, 1.75 ERA). Prior to the Reds losing their last 3 straight games, the team had its most successful stretch, going 7-2. The team has the best 1-2 combo on the base paths in Rickey Henderson (14 SB) and Roberto Alomar (20 SB), while also hitting 1-2 in the lineup as well. 

The Chicago Union had high expectations with their superb pitching staff and bullpen, thinking that they should be competing for the top-half of the division. It unfortunately has not been that way, and has been a frustrating season so far for Chicago. Their top of the rotation consists of three Grade A starting pitchers in Joe Horlen (A), Tommy John (A-Y) and Wilson Alvarez (A-YW), while the rotation is rounded out by two B-YZ's in Jack McDowell and Alex Fernandez. The team has a solid bullpen foursome, in which the Chicago faithful have quietly dubbed 'The Four Horsemen' in Wilbur Wood, Bob Locker, Roberto Hernandez and Hoyt Wilhelm.

The Nashville Jukes (13-16-1) might not be as bad as their record reflects, but they are unfortunately in a tough division, and tough league. Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Carrasco, and Gary Bell have all pitched really well for the Jukes. The bullpen is capable of doing better as David Robertson and Blake Treinen have been the only good choices. The batting has been the worst element for Nashville, batting .216 as a team, with only Jose Cardenal (their leadoff man) and catcher Rick Wilkins being the two best bats.

We now switch to the Young Division, where currently the Milwaukee Braves sit on top of the division with a 19-9-2 record. 

Milwaukee was playing roughly .500 ball through their first 18 games, but have caught fire by winning 11 of their last 12 games. The team is not too flashy, and may have only one true superstar per se in Christian Yelich, while Greg Vaughn is possibly the next best star. The team is gritty though, and seem to capitalize on other team's mistakes. Their leading hitter at the moment is Darryl Hamilton, leading the team with a .316 batting average. They have a lockdown bullpen and have been able to close things out with a lead from the 6th inning on, consisting of Graeme Lloyd, Mike Fetters, Jesse Orosco, Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress. The rotation has no true strikeout artist, while it's two starting pitchers from 1968 that have lead the charge as the team's 1-2 punch in Jim Hardin and Ray Washburn.

The Braves' closest competition are the St. Louis Saints. The Saints started the season, 5-2 before hitting a rough patch, then appeared to have found momentum in a 6-game winning streak, before once again hitting another losing skid, losing 5 of their next 8 games. The Saints in many ways are a complete opposite of the Braves, in which St. Louis does have strikeout guys like Bob Gibson, Jack Flaherty and Steve Carlton. While though three pitchers are quite nice to have in a rotation, the two starting pitchers with the lowest ERA's are Nelson Briles (2.52) and Bob Tewksbury (2.81). On the hitting side, Gregg Jefferies has been the team's best hitter, sitting among the league leaders in multiple categories, while batting .341 with 4 HR, 23 RBI, 7 doubles & 9 stolen bases. 

The next three teams all sit at 12-18...

  • The Chicago Legends started off in 1st place at 9-3, and remained in first through their first 17 games. After their 9-3 start, the team lost 7 straight, and have gone 3-15, and are currently on a 5 game losing streak. The Legends problem might have more to do with not having a consistent starting lineup, while 11-12 players are fighting over 9 slots in a lineup. 
  • The Cincinnati Buckeyes have never found their stride, winning no more than 2 games straight (which they only did that twice). The Buckeyes lost 7 straight, being swept by the Milwaukee Braves, 4-0, and losing their first 3 games to the lowly New Orleans Pirates, before winning the series finale. 
  • The Twin Cities Giants appeared to be heading towards a long, lost season, starting the season with a 1-10 record. At the 21-game mark, the team sat with a 4-17 record, and appeared to be dead and buried. The team released 1B-Kent Hrbek, traded away SP Frank Viola, and added a few pieces in DH/1B Luke Voit and 1B/OF Jerald Clark. The team has now won 7 of their last 8 games, but had nothing to do with the moves, but more to do with moving struggling leadoff man Chuck Knoblauch to the 9th slot, and bumping up Jorge Polanco (to leadoff), Brian Harper & Chris Sabo in the lineups. During the Giants' recent 7-1 run, their starting pitching has a 7-0 record, 2.28 ERA, 1.014 WHIP & 2 complete games.
The New Orleans Pirates just coming off a 3-1 series (with a bit of an upset) victory against Cincinnati, has not had much to celebrate this season. Pitching ace Steve Avery has been on the bad luck side, sporting a 0-5 record, with his ERA being recently bumped up from 3.26 to 3.96, while leading the team with 23 strikeouts through 36.1 innings. Avery, along with possibly Miles Mikolas (2-2, 2.52 ERA) could be sought out buy teams who are buyers come trade deadline. The Pirates really don't have much pieces to sell, besides possibly OF Matt Kemp (.264, 5 HR & 21 RBI) and SS Bert Campaneris. Newly signed IF/DH Jose Vizcaino has quickly won a starting job, batting an impressive .417 (20-for-48) through 12 games, while OF Andrew McCutchen has been disappointing, batting .167 (16-for-96) with 2 HR & 7 RBI. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

AGBA 30 Games Into the Season (Eastern League Recap)

AGBA Season I, is now 30 games through its inaugural season. It's been a fun process which will only get moving along faster by switching over to the APBA BBW (Baseball for Windows) over the last 46 games of the season. Some more teams are getting into the playoff picture mix, to go along with the four teams in the Atlanta Firebirds and Carolina Twins (both from the Eastern League), the Central League's Cleveland Spiders and the Western League's Houston Rattlers. There is also some teams that sat in cellar for the first 16-20 games or so, and are starting to turn things around such as the Twin Cities Giants.

So let's dive into it.

The Eastern League's Ruth Division is still up for grabs, no one team has took firm control, but as of late the New York Pigeons might be signaling to the division, that they intend to be the team to beat.  The Pigeons have won 6 of their last 8 games, while some of their bats in Wade Boggs and Paul O'Neill are starting to wake up. Their rotation is one of the best rotations in Mel Stottlemyre Sr, Stan Bahnsen, Jimmy Key, Fritz Peterson, while the 5th slot has been its weak point 

The Baltimore Bombers seem to love being 'Even Steven', as they sit with a 14-14-2 record, and have not won more than 4 games straight all season, nor have they lost more than 2 straight games. The starting pitching has been expected to do more, while their closer Gregg Olson (A&C-XZ) has been a complete mess, blowing plenty of saves, but hopefully his last solid save is a indication that things might turn around. Baltimore doesn't hit for average, while they are having a big season from backstop Chris Hoiles (.352, 8 HR & 18 RBI), while fan favorite Trey Mancini (.292, 5 HR & 19 RBI) has done great in limited action and is now part of the everyday starting lineup.

The Pittsburgh Arsenal despite their solid pitching, found themselves in a 2-7 season hole at the beginning of the season, but are now 12-9 since, and that has a lot to do with their lineup coming to life as of late. Roberto Clemente broke out of an ice-cold start and lifted his batting average to .267 prior to Pittsburgh's series against Montreal, in which Clemente faltered to 3-for-16 in the series. Andy Van Slyke appears to be the most consistent hitter, batting .287 with 2 HR, 5 doubles and 11 RBI.

The Boston Colonials are having solid production from their top five hitters in the starting lineup that consists of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogarts, Mo Vaughn, Carl Yastrzemski, and Reggie Smith, while their #6 hitter DH-Andrew Benintendi (possibly the only Grade 3 fielding outfielder playing DH in the entire league, because his OF mates all are 3's as well). Vaughn has really come into his own after being moved to the 3rd slot, and is now has 8 HR and 19 RBI. Their starting pitching has been another thing with Ray Culp the first 20 games looking like one of the league's best, and has now been roughed up his last two outings. David Price (Grade 11-YZ) is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA through a light workload of 34 innings during 6 starts. One last Boston note, IF Tim Naehring (J-4) has been amazing off the bench, batting .444 (12-for-27) with 1 HR, 6 doubles & 9 RBI. 

The Florida Rockets are definitely Yin-Yang when it comes to their team statistics, the team can certainly rake, while their pitching is a launching pad for other teams to tee off on. The team is similar to Baltimore when it comes to winning and losing, they have no more than 3 straight wins (which came at the expense of the weak Montreal Voyaguers), while they only lost more than 3 straight games one other time in losing 5 straight (one which consisted of being swept by Brooklyn in a 4-game series. Jeff Conine has been among the batting leaders all season, but has had a rough patch suddenly, going 1-for-14 against Baltimore.

The Montreal Voyageurs entered the season as the most likely team to be sitting in the basement of the Ruth Division, and has lived up to that. For a losing team, they seem to be a feisty bunch and will play their little hearts out. The team's most consistent hitters have been 2B/3B Robinson Cano, OF-Roy White, and Khris Davis, while they have added Utility semi-star Wil Myers and catcher Kirt Manwaring. Myers didn't join the roster until Game #13, and has struggled batting 10-for-56 through Game #26, but had a solid series against the Florida's bad pitching, going for 7-for-17 with 4 doubles -- lifting Myers' batting average to .233 and giving him 9 doubles through 18 games. Chris Bosio gave the Voyageurs their first complete game and shutout of the season (a two-hit gem), improving to 3-3 with a 2.90 ERA & 23 strikeouts through 40.2 innings.

Now we go to the Robinson Division (of the E.L.), and will start with the Atlanta Firebirds. The Firebirds have pretty much controlled the top of the division through the first 22 games, with the Carolina Twins and the Philadelphia Veterans close by in the rearview mirror. Atlanta is loaded from top to bottom -- the hitting, the pitching, and the farm is stacked with talent. 

Through 22 games, Atlanta had a 3-pt, 1.5 game lead over Carolina. Atlanta would go on and hit its first rough patch of the season, as the Firebirds were swept by the Washington Maroons in a 4-game series in Washington -- Meanwhile, the Twins would go on and sweep the Brooklyn Mets, and now had a 10-game winning streak going as well. Atlanta at the point of Carolina winning their 10th straight, lost 6 of their last 8 games. 

This all set up a showdown between the Robinson Division's best 2 teams, Carolina (19-6-1, 39 pts) and Atlanta (17-9, 34 pts, 5 PB). The series was also in Charlotte, Carolina's home, so everything entering this series was showing that Carolina had the momentum. Atlanta would win the first three games in relatively close matchups, winning 6-1, 4-3 (11 innings) & 5-3. Atlanta momentarily reclaimed the division lead, until losing the series finale, 10-5. Entering the series, Carolina was 10-2-1 at home before their 3-1 series loss. 

At the rate the season is going, there should be no reason that either Atlanta or Carolina will miss this upcoming postseason. Sure anything can happen, but very likely there will only be one team coming out of the E.L's Ruth Division -- whoever ends up being the division winner, while the Robinson division will likely have their division winner, plus the two wild card slots, in which at this point is Atlanta and Philadelphia. Washington has climbed into the division race, and is actually tied with Philadelphia at the moment, but Philadelphia has been great at the plate and on the mound, while sporting a +66 run differential. Washington has been more inconsistent and only has a +4 run differential.

The Twins have a good rotation, solid bullpen, and some good bats such as Gates Brown leading the entire AGBA in batting average, Don Buford and Tommy Pham (whose power has been a surpring plus-plus this season). Pham already has 12 HR this AGBA season (sitting among the AGBA leaders) through 30 games, while in real life he hit 21 HR through 137 MLB games during 2018.

Atlanta's Fred McGriff currently leads the E.L. (and possibly AGBA) with 15 HR, while knocking in 29 runs. McGriff's teammate Hank Aaron has 11 HR & 25 RBI this season. The only other teammates with 10+ HR at this point, are the Western League's San Francisco Seals with Barry Bonds and Willie McCovey.

Atlanta's rotation has been underperforming most of this season with Greg Maddux (4-1, 1.89 ERA) being the only one truly shining. Phil Niekro (5-1, 3.50) and John Smoltz (4.10 ERA) has had their moments, but Tom Glavine (1-4, 6.63 ERA) has been lousy, being outpitched by teammate Anibal Sanchez. Niekro's ERA has recently come down with his 1-run allowed complete game recently against Carolina.

The Philadelphia Veterans have possibly the most regular playing time hitters to be hitting over .300 at the moment in Kevin Stocker, Lenny Dykstra, John Kruk and Dick Allen. When they are all in the lineup together, they bat in the same order in the first four slots. 

  • SS Kevin Stocker: .302 AVG, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 3 triples & 20 runs.
  • CF Lenny Dykstra: .306 AVG, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 28 runs & 11 SB.
  • 1B John Kruk: .375 AVG, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 10 doubles & 24 runs.
  • DH/3B Dick Allen: .333 AVG, 13 HR, 43 RBI, 5 doubles, 4 triples & 34 runs.

The Vets' rotation is one of the best in all of baseball with Chris Short, Woodie Fryman, Terry Mulholland, Aaron Nola, and Curt Schilling.

Having one of their more successful stretches, the Washington Maroons have gone 6-2 during their last 8 games, and have tied Philadelphia with a 17-13 record. The problem with the Maroons has been their underachieving bats. With a lineup that consists of Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Juan Soto, Larry Walker, Bryce Harper, Moises Alou, Marquis Grissom, Delino DeShields Sr, and Darrin Fletcher -- You would think that there would be more guys with at least a .700 OPS or more, than just two (Turner and Walker). Soto has been around the fence with a .697 OPS, still a very disappointing number.

The Maroons are fortunate to have starters Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Denny Martinez, keeping Washington in games. Their bullpen is also good, if they are handed a lead going into the 7th inning and later. 

The Brooklyn Mets visited the Philadelphia Veterans this past series, coming off a 1-6 stretch against Atlanta and Carolina. The Vets were the clear favorite over the Mets, so it came off as a surprise when the Mets, not the Vets, won the series, 3-1.

Coming into the season, the one concern was their hitters, and that was a legit concern. The team's lineup has been more productive of late, while their starting pitching expected to be one of the best, if not the best rotation, has for the most part lived up to its hype. The only exception is young, Nolan Ryan who has been a mess through 4 starts. Ryan has a 15.60 ERA through 4 starts & only 15 innings (that's not even 4 innings per start). The Mets have skipped him occasionally to give the young gun a break, but that has not helped. Ryan will likely for the most part finish this season coming out of the pen. The team's rotation consisted of Jacob deGrom, Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Noah Syndergaard, and then Ryan. The Mets luckily have pitchers they can plug into that 5th slot, and they are Zack Wheeler, Dick Selma, Bret Saberhagen and Steven Matz.

Last is the New York Knights, who currently sit at 10-20 for the season. Their biggest offseason news was adding two Japanese superstar sluggers in Sadaharu Oh and Isao Harimoto. The addition of Oh was a success while Harimoto is still trying to find his footing in the American game. The team has a lot to improve on, but their rotation at least has starters with experienced arms in Charlie Morton, Dallas Keuchel, J.A. Happ and Rick Porcello. Porcello was recently signed and looked good in his season debut, earning a win, and allowing only 2 earned runs through 7 innings. The Knights released SP-Dwight Gooden, who struggle mightily, opening a spot for Porcello.

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