Friday, March 17, 2017

Prairieland 2.0 Spring Training

The Prairieland 2.0 takes place the first weekend of April and I am taking the 1991 Minnesota Twins with the addition of the 1911 Shoeless Joe Jackson.  Here is how they stack up:

The defense and batting order:
1.  Kirby Puckett .319/.460/.352  F CF-3.
2.  Shane Mack .310/.529/.363  F RF-3
3.  Shoeless Joe Jackson .408/.468/.590 F LF-2
4.  Chilli Davis .277/.507/.385  DH
5.  Kent Hrbek .284/.461/.373  S 1B-5
6.  Brian Harper .311/.447/.336  S C-7
7.  Chuck Knoblauch .281/.350/.351 F 2B-8
8.  Scott Leius .286/.417/.378 F 3B-4
9.  Greg Gagne .266/.395/.310  F SS-9

Yep, look at Shane Mack's Slugging %.

Team Defense 41

The Rotation:
Kevin Tapani Byz
Jack Morris By
Scott Erickson B
Mark Guthrie Dy

The Bull Pen:
Rick Aguilera A*xy
Carl Willis A*yz
Terry Leach C*z

Dan Gladden F OF-2 Pinch Runner
Al Newman F SS-8, 2B-8, 3B-4, 1B-2 Utility Player and Pinch Runner
Mike Pagliarulo S 3B-5 Pinch Hitter
Randy Bush OF-1 Pinch Hitter
Junior Ortiz S C-8 Reserve Catcher

Field General: Tom Kelly

Home games will be played in the HHH Metrodome.

New Project: Team Ireland

This is a mid-winter project I started in January.  I married into an Irish family and have adopted a love of that culture.  This winter, I decided to create an all Irish team, using only players born in Ireland. I toyed around with the idea of an Irish-American team, but the options were too many, I like a more selective pool to draw a team from.

There have been 47 Irish-born Major Leaguers, a number smaller than I thought, and no player born after 1887 to debut, I expected a handful of players born in the 20th century to make an appearance, but that is not the case. I really have to thank Baseball Reference for the ability to sort players by birth location, what a wonderful option for projects like this.

The project yielded a team of 18 that will be competitive. I downloaded career stats and peak year using mostly WAR to determine peak year.   I'd like to see them match-up against older sets; I have the 1901 APBA and 1894 Skeetersoft  sets. But, knowing how I roll, they will face some 20th century Twins teams.

Equal thanks goes to Steve's APBA Card Computer for generating these cards or sourcing similar players' APBA numbers from, and using his computer, to make the final APBA-like cards.   And, I am sure the talented Howie Mooney will be asked to make envelopes and possibly cards worthy of this team in the end.

Team Name:  Hibernian Baseball Club

Ballpark:  A Boston based team, they will play their home games at the South End Grounds II.  I will make a stadium adjustment chart for this interesting ancient ballpark.  A pull hitter's bandbox; rectangle outfield, no foul territory down the lines and a lengthy 440 to dead center, 450 to left-center, and a ridiculous 250 to left and 255 to right.  Quick corner outfielders to give help to the cathedral that is center are needed, and a quick fielder with a great glove in center would be a big advantage. Too bad Ichiro is not Irish.   How do you position the center fielder?  Normal depth is going to let a lot of doubles or triples go over his head, too deep and a ton of bloop singles are the order of the day. After you position center, it is not a pitchers park when facing pull hitters, so he may not make the difference in every game.  Dream Team outfield for the South End Grounds: LF Erstad, CF Ichiro, RF Kaline.  An intimidating ballpark to walk into, and I expect an intimidating home team.

Field sizeLeft Field – 250 ft
Left-Center – 445 ft
Deep Left-Center – 450 ft
Center Field – 440 ft
Right-Center – 440 ft
Right Field – 255 ft
* Dimensions for South End Grounds II

I've not made the park-adjustment chart for this replay yet but it will be interesting.  In the past, the most I have done is made a few adjustments for The Metrodome, Met Stadium, and Target Field given Diamond Mind (I know, heresy) data and other sources.  For example, it has proven very difficult to hit one out of right-center at Target Field.  

For this fantasy replay, something on the order of a spray chart for dead-away, pull, and opposite field.  R/L will not matter for pull or opposite as the lines are about the same.  Up the chance for a pull or opposite field HR by a set % and reduce it for dead-away.  I may have the manager announce "deep" or "standard" for the center fielder, with standard being the default. If a HR roll comes up short from the park-adjustment, and if the CF was deep it may be a F-8, if positioned normal, a "6".  When "deep" singles that are hit out of the infield may get a re-roll for a 2B unless the runner is slow.  F7s and F-9s will be able to re-roll against the South End Adjustment Chart. If the hitter pulled it or went opposite field, that chart may yield a HR in this park. 

The Hibernians are a deadball team, so playing a team like the 1988 A's in this park may make a circus out of it, but I will have to host one or two expositions in South End. 

Not the greatest revenue producer for ownership seating about 7,000, but a team like this needs a unique historical ballpark.  Now for the team!

The Team:

Rotation with Peak WAR and year

Tony Mullane       11.6   1883
Tommy Bond        9.9    1879
Hugh Daily           6.9    1883
Mike O'Neill          2.9    1904

Position Players
Peak WAR and year

C -   Jimmy Archer              1.7   1912
1B - Jack Doyle                   3.8   1896
2B - Andy Leonard              1.8   1875
3B - Mike Muldoon              2.1   1885    
SS - Barney McLaughlin     1.9   1890
LF - Jako Fields                  1.7   1890
CF - Patsy Donovan            2.3   1896
RF - Jimmy Walsh               1.4   1916

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Deadball Lessons

It seems I always learn something from tournament play.  This time at the 3rd Annual Michigan APBA Tournament I found myself pondering batting order and bunting.

I managed the 1912 Cleveland Naps for the Tournament.  A hard hitting team 1-5, modest fielding, poor pitching, and a fairly fast team for the deadball era.  High, sexy batting averages from Lajoie (.368) and Jackson (.395), combined with over .300 hitters through 4 and .271 at #5 set a dilemma in front of me that I didn't really solve until the last game of the tournament.

I hit the 1912 Naps in this order:
1. Turner .308
2. Lajoie .368
3. Jackson .395
4. Griggs .304
5. Ryan. 271
6. Birmingham .255
7. O'Neil . 228
8. Peckinpaugh .212
9. Pitcher

The following situation came up much too frequently.  Jackson or Griggs would get on base with no one out to start an inning and I was looking at Griggs (.304) to bunt Joe over or Ryan (a .271 hitter) for a bunt to move Griggs over (Jackson typically to third or Griggs to second) and then it was up to the very weak hitting Birmingham or O'Neil to drive them in using the next out or two, which they never did.  This deadball team got the heart of the order on base well, but couldn't convert the runners to runs scored the way the lineup was set. The problem was the cards dropped off the table after batter #5 and they could not drive or sacrifice the runs in as I needed.

I think I should have split the batting order up for a tournament to allow some talent to sacrifice, drive, or bunt in runs.  Split the line-up into men that get on base and men that can move them around the bases.

For the last game I hit the 1912 Naps like this:

1. Turner
2. Lajoie
3. Ryan
4. Jackson
5. Birmingham
6. Griggs
7. O'Neil
8. Peckinpaugh
9. Pitcher

By hitting Ryan and Birmingham higher in the order and dropping Griggs, I allowed my weaker hitters to sacrifice bunt the better hitters into scoring position and then was able to follow that move up with a good hitter at the plate.  In the previous order, I was forced to use good hitters to sacrifice bunt the runners forward and then rely on weaker hitter to try and drive them in.  This is not a good way to set a line-up that needed to move runners along, the new order did move the runners. This is a strategy that I do not recommend for a season as you want Jackson hitting higher for more plate appearance, but for a 8 game tournament this may work well.

I have played many games using the 2015 KC Royals and I wonder if this is not a good short-term strategy for this team also.  Try more bunting with the '15 Royals and see what happens.

Deadball is fantastic to play as you use the hit and run and bunt much more than in a modern game when the power got turned on.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Bashers v Linemen

Pastor Rich's Bashers finally played my Wilkin County Linemen in one-game-winner-take-all bragging rights show down at the 3rd Annual Michigan APBA Tournament.

If you want more background on this match-up jump to this blog entry first:  Challenging the Bashers

The Wilkin County Linemen won, 5-2!

MVP:  Dave Goltz  (1977 Az)

Goltz gave up just one hit and two runs over 6 innings against one of the most powerful APBA lineups I have ever witnessed.  The kid from Pelican Rapids, Minnesota threw a gem.  Walking 3, striking out 2, throwing 4 1-2-3 innings, and then handing the ball off to the pen that closed the door. He really had Jimmy Foxx's number, striking him out twice.

Goltz, Dibble (Axy) and Neshek (Axyz) shut down the likes of Cobb, Ruth, Teddy Williams, Josh Gibson, and Brett over 9.

Walter Johnson (A&B yz) started for The Bashers, immediately giving up a single to Ichiro and then Puckett. The Big Train came unhinged giving up 6 base-runners and 4 runs in the 4th inning after the combination of Puckett hitting a double and Mauer following with a double to score Puck in the 3rd.

Offensive MVP was (1988) Kirby Puckett. Puckett went 3/4 with two singles, a double, one RBI, and one run scored.  Well done #34!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

3rd Annual Michigan Recap

As usual, the Michigan tournament produced some fantastic games, great sportsmanship, fostered new friendships, reunited long-time APBA friends, and was an enormous success by any measure.
This regional APBA tournament is a "can't miss" on the APBA circuit.  The Michigan attracts the largest number of managers for a regional tournament, and may even draw more than the National, at least it is looking like it may for 2018 with 42 already signed up at the time the blog went live.

Why such a high number of managers?  A gracious and well organized host, interesting team selection, and a great community.  Pastor Rick Zawadzki deserves a huge "Thank you" for all he does for our group that travels to Michigan and all he does for APBA: a class act all the way.

Below is a photo of my table, the Ty Cobb division.  My 1911 Naps pitched and hit their way into last place!  It must be that the baseball gods were upset that I did not manage a Twins team, or at least a Senators team in this tourney.  There are too many managers to name in these action photos, and if you want a copy, please just click it and save it.  Rolling pits, cards, die cups, boards, soda, score sheets, it's all there.

Same location as the last three years at Gene Davis Steaks Eatery in Jackson, Michigan.

Below, the east-coast table where former Michigan champs and soon-to-be Michigan winners prowled the dice pits and towers.  That's a tough table of great guys.

Lots of bunting and calling for a "hit-and-run" going on when I snapped this shot.  Not many arms up in the bullpen either as in the Deadball era you tend to ride that starting horse until he is grade reduced to dust. 

Below, the group shot.

Congratulations to the Champ!  Aaron Radinski took his 1902 Pittsburg Pirates all the way!  8-3 overall record. Well done.

Consolation Bracket  champ -  Dick Butler!  Managed his 1908 Cubs through a hard fought 9-3 for the day.