Tuesday, February 16, 2016

2006 Twins vs. 1994 Playoff Teams

This weekend I took a chance to get the 2006 Twins into shape for the upcoming Michigan Tournament run by my friend and overall APBA guru Rich Zawadzki.  Facebook has all the info on the tournament or leave a message here and I can put you in touch with Rich, but the field may be set already.

The 1994 Playoffs looked like this:
White Sox

As you all recall, it was a strike year and the strike added an element of fun to play this one out.  Also, this set (1994 playoff) seems to have high production numbers as it is often available on eBay and other outlets for used stuff.  

The 2006 Twins went 4-2 against the 1994 Playoff set.  Started out with two straight losses: one against the Expos and the other the Yankees, then swept the rest as the bats heated up.  I only played one game against each team as we had company for the weekend. 

Here is how I hit the 2006 Twins:

1. Luis Castillo 2B-8 F
2. Joe Mauer C-8
3. Justin Morneau 1B-4
4. Torii Hunter CF-3
5. Michael Cuddyer RF-3
6. Jason Bartlett SS-8
7. Lew Ford LF-2 F
8. Nick Punto 3B-5 F
9. Jason Tyner DH F

This follows the APBA #s and not the actual lineup or the stats on the cards.

The Twins raked that year with MVP Morneau and Silver Sluggers for Mauer and Morneau.

A nice lineup overall.  It lacks speed at the top, but has power and hits for average: Mauer hit .347, Morneau .321 with 34HRs, Hunter .278 with 31HRs, and Cuddyer hitting .284 with 24HRs. Defense is a 1.  Speed ends up clustered at the bottom of the order the way I hit it and that makes for a change of strategy as you work through the line-up, swing away at the top, move them over at the bottom.  The #1 defense combined with 2 A starters slows the opponent down.  The #3 and 4 are C's so get your sticks going for the bottom 1/2 of the rotation. 


Johan Santana Axyz
Frankie Liriano Ak
Boof Bonser Cxz
Brad Radke Cz


Denny Reyes A/B* xy
Joe Nathan A/C* kxz
Pat Neshek A* kxz
Jesse Crain B* yz

The Pen is killer with Reyes, Nathan, and Neshek ready to go for the tournament and I like Crain for games that the run differential is in the + or- 4 range.  I have 6 A/B or A/C outs and 9 A or above outs to work with in Michigan. 

Game 1: Expos 9 Twins 0

The Expos threw Pedro (Bx) and shut the Twins down scattering 6 hits over the full 9 and tossing a shutout.  This is a fun team to play as you see Larry Walker, Marquis Grissom, Moises Alou, to name a few.  Pedro held the big bats in check and Santana gave up too may long balls (3 2Bs and 3 HRs).

Game 2: Yankees 10 Twins 4

I threw Abbott (C) against the Twins and as with Pedro, they never needed to go to the pen.  The Twins scratched out a few runs early, but the Yankees jumped out early with a GRAND SLAM from Bernie Williams and that closed the books on Liriano.  

Game 3: Minnesota 10 Texas 4

The Twins' bats came alive lead by Torii Hunter with a 4-4 performance with 2 2Bs and a HR: he was on fire.  The Rangers threw The Gambler (Cyz) and lost. 

Game 4: Twins 2 Dodgers 1

Radke and the Pen locked this one down!  For the sake of symmetry I threw Ramon Martinez (Cy) and he went the distance.  Radke gave up one run to a solo HR and then the Pen came in and held the Dodgers to 1 hit over 7 outs with Reyes closing it out 1,2,3 (K,K,F-8)

Game 5: Twins 4 White Sox 2


Extra Innings! Free Baseball! Locked up 2-2 from the 3rd to the top of the 11th.  Santana goes the distance against Jason Bere (Bxw) and a mix of the Pen.  Rock Rains and The Big Hurt are a scary combo but Santana had his magic holding the Sox to 2 runs. 

Game 6: Cincinnati 5 Minnesota 6

A tight one, Liriano gives up all 5 and Gardenhire goes to the pen early and often.  Jose Rijo (Bx) goes 8 1/3 and gives up a solo HR in the top of the 9th to Mauer for the loss.  Nathan shuts the door. 

What did I learn for Michigan?
I have a great pen.  I can rely on some power in the heart of the order.  I really need to move the 8 and 9 batters around the bases with 1 or 0 outs to get to the top of my order.  The 2006 Twins were a great team. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pre-Tournament Season Thoughts on Strategy

Here we go, the most wonderful time of the APBA year: Tournament Season!

Regionally (Upper Mid-west), we start in Michigan, go to Minnesota, back to Illinois, and then Chicago. 

I will do an extensive blog entry on each tournament I am attending in the near future and a recap of each tournament after I play. Today, I want to chat about getting a team ready for tournament play. 

Team selection.  It seems there are two ways to go:

1. Play to win

I eased in and out of this approach.  I took the 2004 Minnesota Twins to Chicago for Doug's tourney and had a fantastic time.  Intimidated at first as I was a rookie but the group of guys are fantastic so that was quickly put to rest. I did better that I thought with that team and got a feel for tournament play. I then started to select teams that may actually win it: I took the 1919 Wt. Sox to TCABT III and the 1908 Cubs to TCABT IV.  The progression started, I was reading a ton of books on Shoeless Joe and the Black Sox and took that team, but I am not a White Sox fan.  I then studied the 1908 Cubs and took them to the Twin Cites, as a Cardinals fan, this was heresy.  I did well but did not win it all.  I then changed tack to...

2. Play a team you love

I grew up in West-Central Minnesota, and from a baseball family that loved the Twins.  My Dad was a huge fan of Killer, but thought he hit into too many double plays, and he was right.  I moved to Kansas for graduate school and followed the Royals, then here to Illinois and became a Cards fan, but always in a clear order, with the Twins first.  I now only play Twins, Royals, or Cards teams in tournaments, with one exception (the 1990 Reds). 

I really think the 2006 Twins are a great APBA team and the '65 and '69 Twins are solid also, as are the 1977 Twins.  I am playing a few of these teams this spring ('77 and '69 Twins) and I am taking the 2015 Royals to TCABT V. 

I would like to give the 1987 or 1991 Twins a run, but I fear a 0-8 record and lots of bench time watching others roll. 

Practice! Just like the Big Show. 

I have played hundreds of games with the 1977 Twins, I know them very well.  I've played my own line-up and the actual, so they are my base.  

When I am selecting a team for a tournament, I pick a few options and play them against the '77 Twins to get a feel for them.  How do they hit?  What is the fielding like?  Hit and run?  Lots of Ks?  Good Pen?  Are the slow? Fast? You can see all this with a glance at the cards, but playing them against a known quantity really helps.  

Take a close look at your competition.  Not everyone picks studly teams to tear-up the tournament. You may face a guy like me playing the 1991 Twins because I love them, .

You see that in the brackets you first face Berg with the 1991 Twins and play two games.
You will face:
Jack Morris a B y and Kevin Tapani a B yz for your first two games.

In Round 2 you play the 1995 Indians, a tough tournament-tested team.  

Think about your rotation.  Do you need your #1 and #2 against the 1991 Twins?  Should you save your ace for the Tribe?  I think you should.  The Twins do not hit well and they pitch Bs, with one A in the pen.  You should save the top of your rotation for Cleveland, after that you must play the 4 in order, but you may get 2 wins against the Twins with the bottom 1/2 of your order and give you a better chance against the Indian's #3 and #4. 

Be ready to use your bench.  Moving to that tier 1 defense makes a difference, especially with suspect pitching it can save a game. Do the math at home.  If you can move up a notch in defense later in the game, think about doing that.  Keep at least one fast runner on the bench, and do your defensive math.  I also keep an extra catcher and a utility infielder (could also be your fast runner) ready in case of injuries.  

It is also possible to make a double switch.  Try and upgrade either the outfield or infield with a F runner.  If you find a late situation and you want a fast runner on, he also may help the defense in a tight game.  It is hard to give up some offence, but fun to see that roll change when the defense is upgraded or only a F runner scores. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Set Review: All American Girls Professional Baseball League

I indicated on my first blog post for Red 11 that I was interested in and collected odd APBA (or APBA compatible) sets..  I am going to start a series of blogs reviewing them, mixed in with other topics as the spirit strikes me. I  have several Japanese sets, Negro League, and odd Minor League sets. I am always on the lookout for these sets-not strictly to collect them, but I play them.  Much like APBA issued sets, I don't collect to have original sets, I collect sets to play.  

Note: this set is not an official APBA product.
This set comes from Archrivals baseball.  Here is a link to their web page.
The All American Girls Professional Baseball League. 1934-1954
With this set you get: the 1945 season with 6 teams plus you get 5 All-Time Great teams (1944 Milwaukee Chicks, 1946 Racine Belles, 1949 Rockford Peaches, 1951 South Bend Blue Sox and the 1953 Fort Wayne Daisies).
Here a link to the roster

Below are some photos of the cards.  They come to you as PDFs and it is up to you to print them.  I ordered perforated card stock from the Perforated Paper Company that had an option for 9 squares per sheet.  The card stock is nice and heavy (another option to click when ordering the paper) however, they tend to stick to one another as there is no surface coating on the paper.  I use individual baseball card sleeves to keep them in good shape and to stop the annoying sticking. 

Here is a link to the company I ordered from:  Perforated paper.  The quality of the cuts were varied, when the machine was sharp, they were great.  When the machine got dull I needed a scissors.  I would say about 20% of the total cuts were unacceptable.  I emailed the company and they responded but did not offer any compensation. I may speak to them in advance of an order next time. 
Each team comes with a handy roster card, printed in color with team logo, and that is a nice touch. 

I should mention the owner of the company Bruce Norland as I have found him to be helpful and typically Minnesota Nice. 

The roster cards give you a good initial way to play the team and a feel for the limited number of players that were on a AAGPBL team.  As you see here with the Rockford Peaches, a three person rotation is standard and that is what I use when they play each other and against the 1977 Twins.

This is a fun set to play, mostly in a tournament of all the AAGPBL teams as they are normalized for each other and not for MLB, but who will stop you from running these women out against the 1977 Minnesota Twins, as I did. 

Here we have a top-shelf arm for Rockford.  "Flash" Florreich is rated an A/B with the alphabet kxyz.  Nasty stuff.  She earns her APBA honors from a 22-7 record with a 0.67 ERA with 94 walks against 201 Ks in 269 innings pitched. 

Here is a look at an arm toward the normal side, but I liked using Flash against that '77 Carew card!  "Lefty" Applegren is a B with xy-w, earned with a record of 5-12, 3.09 ERA, 124 walks and 64Ks over 131 innings.  

 Typical outfielder, "Squirt" Callow is a F-3.  Her offensive # are earned with 387 at bats, 88 hits, 2 HRs, a .227 average (these players are typically low) and a .307 slugging percentage. 

11 is 0-1

15 is the vaunted RED 11!
Mostly 8s where you want to look
and 66 is a 0-1
Three second column 1s
Seventeen second column 2s

And here is the card you are looking for, the 1954 Dorothy Kamenshek. 1B F 5
It is a great card from my personal view.  It has three first column Red 11s and four 14*s in the first column.  Made famous in the movie A League of Their Own by Gina Davis.

We have lived in Springfield Illinois for 11 years now and I was happy to learn that we had a team, the Springfield Sallies.  They played on the same field I can be found at most summer nights watching the Springfield Sliders. A team photo below.

The 1949 Rockford Peaches went 1-4 in a seven game series against the 1977 Minnesota Twins.  Not to be surprised Flash took the win for the Peaches.  They could not muster enough offence to hang with the Twins, with the closest gap being 2 runs after any third inning.  They are a blast to hit and run and the very act of entering their names onto a scorecard brings out the baseball historian in all of us.  I highly recommend this set.

Play-ability: 9 of 9 innings
Company to deal with: 9 of 9 innings
Aesthetics of cards: 7 of 9 innings

Note: it will take some tinkering to get the printing process just right and remember, you get PDFs, not cards.  

Also, I recommend not sharing the PDFs, pay for them. It is the right thing to do, and I teach ethics for a living. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Brothers Part VI


Here is the batting order with Avg/OPS and any extras.

1.  2004 Ichiro  372/869 - 262 hits

2.  1988 Puckett  356/920 - 234 Hits and 42 Doubles

3.  2009 Joe Mauer 365/1.031 - 28 HRs

4.  2006 Morneau  321/934 - 34 HRs and 37 Doubles

5.  1991 Ripken  323/940 - 34 HRs and 46 Doubles

6.  1988 Hrbek  312/907 - 25 HRs

7.  1991 Sabo  301/859 - 26 HRs

8.  1990 Jackson  272/866 - 28 HRs

9.  2011 Nishioka 226/527

Obviously these guys can hit (with the exception of Nishioka), and they will face A pitching so it may all normalize.  However, it will be fun to see how they preform.  Perhaps a long series against D pitching would be fun,or run them out for a long series against established teams.