Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Draft Ramblings-gambling on Puig

I am involved in my first APBA draft after playing fantasy baseball through Yahoo since 1998, and I see that APBA requires a new approach.

I inherited a decent team from a previous owner (a huge Astros fan from the looks of it) and I am rebuilding. I needed to make some cuts and took a few chances already.  We have a limited pool of new available players so the choices get thin quickly.

We have a 30 man roster with 25 active.  To me, that means you can hide a few players on the protected 5.  Who do I hide there?

1.  Rookies.  The players need to be carded so I can take a few chances.  Herrerra from Philly is a good choice, he looks to be a close to .300 hitter in 2016 but I dislike those K's. I hope to see him still available into the 5th round.

2.  Vets injured in 2015.  I have two, and that seems like one too many for a 5 player pool.  I held Hunter Pence and Yasiel Puig in the pool.  Both seem to have future potential in 2016 and I would hate to lose them if they return to form.  They also give me about 80 games combined.  However, they take up roster space gambling that they will produce in 2016 for next year.  Pence seems more stable in terms of production for 2016 and Puig a gamble.  Both are getting to the end of their high-production years but they are better bets than some rookies at this time.

3.  Pitching strategy.  I need 162 starts and enough innings to cover.  1,134 innings if my starters average 7.  That seems logical as APBA teams tend to have stacked pens, and I do.  So, 7 innings for starters but I need all of that for sure, so I will hide a starter in the pool to bring up if needed. I have no A starting pitching, but a rotation of B's with a few letters.  This may be a weak-spot but I really needed to fill Left Field as I had nobody there and chose to fill that well rather than chase an A or A/C starter. I now have Cain.

That covers my 5-one rookie, two veterans, and one starter.

I already made one mistake in the draft-Bartolo Colon.  He has a 30+ starts and close to 200 innings, but I could have done better.  I hope to replace him with my 5th round pick and drop or trade him to a team that has overlooked starting pitching.

I like the APBA system for leagues as you must pay attention to innings pitched and be aware that players get injured.  It is not a free-wheeling as a standard fantasy game and you have some statistical data to make choices on as it is based in 2015.

If you are interested look around for openings, they appear on Facebook occasionally.  It is a new way to play others when you don't have a local face-to-face league.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Brothers Project Part V


Here are the minds behind the machine:

Manager: Tom Kelly! T.K., the genius behind the run to the 1987 and 1991 Word Series crowns.  A superb field manager and fantastic with the guys.  Smoke 'em up Tom!

First Base Coach: Flannery! Possibly one of the greatest observers of the game; he never misses a detail.  Have fun coaching Prime Time Sanders as a pinch runner!

Third Base: Home town boy Doug Simunic.  Don't know him?  Check it out here.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Brothers Project Part IV

The Infield. Where defense reigns supreme.

Here we go around the horn.

C  2009 Joe Mauer C-9

Joey Da' Gun behind the Dish.  A real threat for base-runners and a great game manager for my average rotation (compared to my competition).  The local hero should be a great field general and his '09 bat was very impressive, more on that when I do the batting order. 

1B 1988 Kent Hrbek (S) 1B-4

Who doesn't love Herbie! As a big man most discount his glove, but it was great.  A real leader and a powerful left-handed bat, but slow on the bases, he will be a great everyday addition to the Lineman. 

2B 2011 Tsuyoshi Nishioka 2B-7 

Wow, odd choice, I know.  But I have made a study of the Japanese professional game over the last 10 years or so and when the Twins drafted a slick second baseman who was also the batting champion of NPB, I was all in.  I watched his very short career with the Twins closely.  In the end, in the Show, he couldn't hit, run, field, or throw, and was made of glass.  But, he is my favorite second baseman of all time, so here he is, out at second, with that fancy glove, and hitting 9th. 

3B 1991 Chris Sabo (F) 3B-5

My favorite player of all-time, hence three photos.  Spuds was a stud and carried himself like an old-school ball player from the 1950s.  A great third baseman, powerful arm, super intense, student of the game, very smart, quick and fast, he's the man.  Despite wearing a ridiculously small glove 11" and even a 10.5" at times, he was spectacular at the hot corner, and the goggles are a bonus. 

SS 1991 Cal Ripken SS-10

The Ironman: classy, talented, committed to the game, he's a sure thing for captain of the infield.  The first of the big hitting gold glove shortstops we expect today, he stood tall turning a double play, hit for average and power, and a real leader.  He will take the majority of throws down from Mauer as Nishioka can't be trusted. 

Infield Defense Total: 35 
Combined with a 9 outfield puts me at fielding 1 all the time.  I am not sure if we are going to play the more complex fielding rules, but we will use the Twin Cities Error Chat, Nishioka will suffer for it. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

WBO Draft

My APBA League WBO is starting the rookie draft tonight.  What an exciting time!

We cut back to 22 players and then draft 8 new players from a limited pool.  We can draft more than 8 if you have traded for draft picks and drop players later.  I can't reveal my strategy here or weaknesses here as others in my league may be reading this.

However, I can announce my first draft pick for the 2016 season!

With the 4th overall pick, the Fargo Beet Kings select:

Lorenzo Cain F OF-3

.307/.477/.361  16 HR and 28 SB

7 Red 11's!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Brothers Project Part III

The Wilkin County Linemen's outfield.

The "Triple Crown" outfield.  The place where hits go to die and runners tagging up (at least on fly balls to the corners) die an early death on the base-paths.  All three rated 3s, all three (F).  Not the tallest outfield, Ichiro at 5-11 and Puck at 5-8, they won't be picked first for the pick-up basketball game.

Left Field: 1990 Bo Jackson.

The two sport All-Star with a cannon arm and an electric bat.  Known for pulling "spiderman" like moves in left, Bo knows defense and will hit 8th in this lineup.  In 1990 Bo hit .272 with 28 home runs.  Possibly the most intimidating player in the game he will really be fun to see play in the outfield.

Center Field: 1988 Kirby Puckett

Hero of the 1987 World Series, Puck will anchor the outfield in Center  With tremendous speed and a vacuum cleaner for a glove, he won't miss much on the defensive side of the game.  Puckett will hit second with that .356 average in 1988 and 24 home runs, he will be dangerous.  Captain of the team, his locker room attributes will be as important as his glove and bat.  Wear that "C" proudly Kirby.

Right Field:  2004 Ichiro

Base runners beware-there is a cannon in right.  Ichiro takes right field for the Linemen and will shut down the tag up option and has the speed and ability to get to anything in the field.  Hitting lead-off for the Linemen with a .372 average and a vaunted red 11 on the card.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Are We Better Today? A Ted Talk that is of interest to APBA

I ran across this Ted Talk:

The question he explores is: "Are we better athletes today?"  I found this very interesting in relation to APBA as we often roll many games that are inter-generational.  For example; the APBA tournaments that are very popular are a study in this inter-generational argument.

This afternoon my APBA 2015 Kansas City Royals face the 1977 Minnesota Twins in a 7 game series.  Could Carew really hit the Royals pen without trouble, or are they timeless?

Was Mantle a better Center Fielder than Griffey Jr?  Did equipment and turf slow Mantle down and wreck his knees?  Did it give The Kid an edge?

Who was better behind The Dish-Carter or Berra?  Think of the equipment alone.

Was Darrin Erstad the best defensive Left Fielder in the history of the game?  Did he really outshine Shoeless Joe in the field?  Or did coaching, video, the ball park, diet, exercise, and not working in the off-season give him the edge?

Who was the greatest pure hitter? Gwynn or Williams, or the 1980 Brett or 1977 Carew....did Shoeless Joe beat them all?

Given the medical advancements of today what would Mantle's numbers have looked like?  What could Tony Oliva have done?

Given the legal and social control MLB organizations have over players (for better and for worse) could that have prevented Shoeless Joe from his entanglement with the gamblers in 1919?

Cobb or Rickey as the greatest on the base-paths?  Equipment may play a role.

Randy Johnson or Walter Johnson?  All things being equal, move RJ back to the 20s or WJ to the 2000's, who dominates in their new era?

Does Joe Mauer play way over his head today given his natural ability? Or is Mauer a stud in 1920?

Someone who works their way to the HOF given limited tools (Jeter), seems like a ballplayer that would be the same across the decades.

The Ted Talk does a nice job of illuminating this question with categories.

Equipment, Training, Gene Pool, Populations, and selective body types.  David Epstein does not discuss baseball but it is worth a short look here.

Equipment:  Better gloves seems marginal, a 14" outfield glove with a H pocket is nice, but it may just make a very slight difference on the hand of Joe Jackson compared to his early 20th century glove. Batting gloves, probably as everyone wears them.  Bats?  I don't know enough technical data about them but the material has not changed much.  The field is a boost, even grass, even base-paths, good lighting, hitters blinds, etc.  The field of play seems to make a difference in Baseball.

Training and medical aid is a huge advantage today.  Read any bio of an early ball player and they worked other jobs, exercised in unscientific ways if they did it at all.  Ate and drank what they pleased, and the recovery and preventative medicine is a huge advantage today.  Knowing exactly what is going on inside an athlete's knee is sport-changing technology.  To be able to take a diagnostic look at Mantel or Oliva's knees and make adjustments could have altered their careers dramatically.

Video analysis is a huge technology boost for the game.  Ted Williams did it himself with his baseball mind, but few if any, can replicate his talent of the mind.  What if Walter Johnson had been able to study his motion with professional coaches?  If he could study hitters he would face?  What if Ty Cobb could have studied the motion of pitchers he faced on the base path?  Give Babe Ruth video analysis of opposing pitchers and we still have the same single-season home run king?  Keep Ruth (if you could) on a decent diet and exercise program?

Sabermetrics?  Wow. Intuition, gut feelings, experience, a "baseball eye" as compared to or in conjunction with data analytics makes the game very different today, especially behind the scenes. How many players have been overlooked toady due to data and how many players were lost back in the day due to a lack of data.  Current HOFer Piazza didn't make the data analytics cut, but made the Hall.

The Gene Pool and pushing populations into the sport that were underrepresented in the past is fascinating.  Think of Jackie Robinson braking the color barrier, the influx of Latin players in the 1970's, the opening up of Japanese and Koran players today.  Who did not play in the 1920's in MLB is a staggering question to ask.  Think of how many HOF players were not in the game, and are still not in the game today.  Baseball is unique (perhaps why he didn't cover it) as there is no clear 100% body type advantage.  Tall, short, thin, fat...they all have the ability to play at the top level.  Why are Women excluded today?  It seems like a social barrier and not physical.

The factor that tends to ground this hypothetical argument is the talent pool.  Ruth faced less talented pitchers because so few were in the game at the time as compared to today.  Athletic people did different things because the money and exposure was much less, and many classes were not allowed to play, He only faced white pitchers. Perhaps this evens things out and the players of the past are roughly equal to the players of today.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Brothers Project Part II

The Wilkin County Linemen's Pen.

We will use standard tournament rules, starter must go 5 unless he is shelled for 5 runs in less than 3 innings or injured.  Each reliever can record 6 total outs.  If a reliever comes in other than at the start of an inning he is upgraded one letter for one batter, but no A to A/C.  This only applies to Wild Thing as he can go to an A for one batter.

Surprisingly not loaded with A/B's or even A/C's-just 3 A's and one B.  But these guys are tough and intimidating!

The Pen:

1.  And first out to close the door for the Linemen: Rod "Nasty Boy" Dibble.  He threw into the crowd to hit a guy he didn't like while in the minor leagues, was part of the '90 Reds run to the top, throws GAS and has a real edge to him.  An A xy with no fear, I await the 9th inning.  Quote: "Micky Mantle?  Never heard of him."

2.  Next to take the bump is Aggie.  An A x and a stud for the Twins in their climb to the World Series title, speed, control (as opposed to others in this pen), and bulldog determination. No problem giving him the ball in any situation; the guy has ice in his veins.

3.  Neshek with an A xyz will see the 9th and earlier innings against my brother's team of studs.  I love his delivery and his performance has been nothing short of dominate in his career.

4.  For pure fear,Wild Thing Williams will be a huge asset against the high-priced players he will see.  Do you really want Mantle or Mays facing the Wild Thing?  When #99 takes the hill, don't dig in.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Brothers Project Part I

The same Christmas after I bought my 1985 set, my brother got a new set as a gift from his wife. When we discovered that we each had the game we tried to play over email: 1991 Twins v 1961 Yankees.  The series died out due to time constraints, but I hope to revise it soon.  We will begin play again after I get a handle on the software that my WBO League uses.

To get the email play going with my brother Lon, I proposed we each put together an All-Star, all favorite team. We each limited ourselves to players we at actually saw play (radio or TV acceptable, thus no Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe, etc) and put a 25 man roster together that will play well, replacement catcher, utility infielder, pinch-runner, etc. It was a fun project to decide who you really liked the most and what positions you need to fill.

I contacted the extremely competent Howie Mooney for printing the cards and envelopes.  He is a gift.  Here is the envelop for my team, card backs and Lon's envelope for a later post. Well done Howie.

We will play a best of a 51 game series via email starting in March or April.  Use a 4 man rotation with a spot starter that we will establish a rule for when we use the 5th man, with a 5 inning minimum for starters unless injured, and a catcher rest rule.  We will use new boards, the TCBAT error card modification (it is excellent, and I will post it here sometime soon), my modified unusual play chart (also to be posted), and my new instant replay card (soon, to make an appearance here).

I will outline each team here starting with the Rotation and starters.

My team is named the Wilkin County Linemen and his team is the Campbell Crackers.  Trivia contest, where are they located?  Do some internet research or if you just know, post here.  I'd try it now as the post goes on, it becomes obvious.

First, my starting rotation with photos and notes.

The 4 man rotation for the Wilkin County Linemen:

1.  1984 Bert Blyleven (B, yz)

Bert has to anchor this rotation even if he is not the best of the 4, he is the leader. I love Bert with his long connection to the Twins as a pitcher and broadcaster, even drafted by the Twins out of High School.  With a wicked 12-6 curve ball and all the savvy and experience of a Hall of Famer he is a fantastic #1 for this team and I am excited to see him anchor in a long series.  As a B yz he will have his challenges when you see the Campbell line-up. Even if he flips the bird to national TV, he's my #1. I hope the Flying Dutchman has the Crackers number as he will see a minimum of 5 starts even if I lose the first 25 straight.  If I can hold my own he could realistically get 10 starts.

2.  1978 Dave Goltz  (A,z)

Goltzy grew up about 30 miles from me and retired in Wilkin County after life in The Show so he deserves some form of a "C" on his jersey.  He was the ace of the great Twins teams of 1977 and 1978, with '78 being his best season.  I met Dave on several occasions, in dugouts in Western Minnesota.  As an A z he should hold his own and another workhorse like Bert.

3.  2012 R.A. Dickey  (A, xz)

If you listen to NPR and heard his interview at the end of 2012, it was fantastic.  A true student of the game and knows his history and place in it.  Speaks eloquently of the art of throwing a knucklball he learned to throw after he was in The Show, he is the kind of ball player I respect and cheer for.  A true asset to the game.  An A, xz is another step-up statistically in the rotation from Bert and Goltzy. Another Twin (a short stay, but I watched him throw), my 1-3 can wear the TC on their jerseys.

4.  2000 Rick Ankiel  (B, xy)

Equal only to Bert in terms of the greatest curve-ball I have ever seen, his roughly 12-6 was jaw-dropping.  Watching him throw for the Cards in 2000 was astonishing, and his return to baseball after the yips as a studly outfielder with a cannon for an arm was fantastic. As a B xy he is the #4 and will continue the junk thrown by all 4, With a wicked curveball and a tight fastball he will be great,

My deep pen and spot starters;

1.  1995 Hideo Nomo

I really enjoyed watching Nomo in the 1995 season, his windup and delivery that typically ended in a K was amazing.  Rookie of the Year, led the League in K's twice, and really opened the door for Japanese players he is a great story.  As an A xy he is a very solid spot starter and will take the bump when we play a 5 game series.

2.  2002 Tim Wakefield

Two Knuckleballers?  In a real life situation, no way.  Here in APBA, no problem.  I followed the 2002 Sox closely and they are my #4 go-to team, especially if they are playing the Yankees. He is rated an A/A* x so I can also bring him in after 5 if someone is getting shelled by the bat heavy Crackers. 

3.  1992 Jim Abbott

After following him closely after his Olympic and post-college career I found him a very compelling player, tough and a great fielding pitcher despite  playing one-handed. Read his book Imperfect for a look into his life and the life of a player in the early 1990s.  Rated a B y he is a great arm to bring in when we are blowing out the Crackers or the reverse is true.

6 Starting pitchers for a 51 (or possibly more, this is not set in stone) game series, 5 dedicated to take the ball as a start and one (Wakefield) to also work out of the pen.  Given the chance for injuries (we will play them out) 6 seems safe.