Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Day Write Up!

Troy, NY:  So I attended my first Arizona First Pitch with a couple of friends back in November.  After meeting a number of great writers for Baseball HQ and other cool people, watching some great Arizona Fall League baseball games and generally enjoying the heck out of myself, even meet and able to hang out with Scoresheet Baseball creator and all around good guy, Jeff Barton; I came to realize something I subconsciously already knew in the first place.  A good amount of the fantasy baseball analysis does not correlate well to my two favorite fantasy baseball games, Strat-o-matic and Scoresheet baseball.
  Why is that?  That's much more of a difficult question.  I have always been more of a fan of a simulation type fantasy game which Strat and scoresheet excel at, while a large majority or the other types of leagues count stats.  As a fantasy football player, I do understand the draw of watching your players build their values on a day to day basis instead of a weekly basis, but it just doesn't do it for me for baseball.  The biggest thing to me is that any player ranking list that does not include Clayton Kershaw in the top 5 overall players (and some where he would not even be drafted in the first round of a league), does not only not make sense, it just doesn't seem realistic.
  But enough about the "other" types of fantasy baseball, why do I like strat and scoresheet?  Strat-o-matic baseball is an amazing game that I learned as child rolling dice and looking up results on some cards, and it wasn't until I was a teenager when I began to realize the mathematical way that someone could analyze the cards (or results) and figure out the best players to pick and use.  Then, as I was introduced to scoresheet baseball, I realized the fun in trying to predict how the players were going to do and try to pick and use those players that would give the best result.  That, the prediction process I mean, in itself is so much fun to try to figure out and completely maddening at the same time.  Continuing Strat leagues have this great value, but drop off because once the season is complete you are then able to calculate each possible result mathematically.  Is that worse than trying to predict how each of your players are going to to on a week to week or yearly basis?  No, it's just different. 
   I could go on, but I'm starting to ramble and get away from what I wanted to do with this post.  I don't know how much anyone in the league reads books like Baseball Forecaster, Baseball Prospectus or my personal favorite John Sickels Baseball Prospect Book; but I thought it would be fun to try my hand at writing up a few players.  So here you go; some write ups and predictions of a few players on my team:

Madison Bumgarner:  A former top prospect with already 3 and a half years under his belt who over the past three years has seen his H/9 go from 8.9, 7.9 then 6.5.  At 23, primed for a big breakout in 2014, or something in between 2012 and 2013.  Either way that's pretty good. Expectation: 18 wins, 2.80 ERA, 1.000 WHIP

B.J. Upton: The most over-rated player in the history of baseball, and has been on a steady decline since his one great season in 2007.  Has good speed but it doesn't do any good when you do not get on-base.  At what point do teams finally just give up an move on from this guy?  The Haymakers picked him up cheap looking for some future value...I expect them to be disappointed.  Expectation:  .235-20 homers-30 stolen bases, with an under .300 on-base average.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Future of the Haymakers?

Troy, NY:  Making it to the championship series two of the last three years and not winning has left a dark cloud over the small city of Troy.  The Haymakers came to town in 2007 and have been fairly irrelevant in the NASBL until 2010.  A flurry of trades brought some big names and some major excitement to the area.  The past three seasons, the Haymakers have won at least 90 games thanks to a number of dominating performances.  But does it matter if you do not win it all?  Probably not.  No one remembers or cares about the teams that don't make the finish.  Heck this reporter can not even remember the other NASBL World Series losers of past seasons not from Troy.
   So can the fans cry "Wait 'til next year!"?....well, actually no.  With down years from key players and no picks in the first five rounds of the upcoming draft; the fans will have to look elsewhere to see a contending team.  Burlington (or the Lake Champlain area) is about a 3 hour drive to the north where you can see the Cannibals and Fighting Sioux while the Chin Music play about three hours to the south.  It's about time to gas up and go.
   The fans that actually decide to stick around to watch the games played in Troy next season will have the benefit of watching Edwin Encarnacion in a lineup of part-timers and wash-ups.  Recent trades have not helped this.  The acquisition of B.J. Upton, a player that Troy management has never liked in the first place, is going to make the team hard to watch.  The reason for picking up Upton?  "We got him for nothing, and there is no way he can be this bad going forward."  That sounds eerily similar to what was said when the Haymakers picked up Andrew Jones years ago.  Just what did Andrew Jones do for the Haymakers in 2008?  Only hit .182 with a .626 OPS.  Lets not forget he was part of one of the major trade blunders for Troy. He was out of the league for two straight years after that and his career, save for two seasons as a bat off the bench, was pretty much over.
  The small bright spot on the team are the two starters, Madison Bumgarner and recent pickup Kris Medlen and closer Greg Holland.  Team management has been a fan of Holland for a while now, and he's primed to take over the closer role next season.  Bumgarner and Medlen will be a decent one/two punch at the top of the rotation, but the rest rotation is looking like a barren wasteland of has-beens and never-was'.

  Mudville has nothing on the Troy Haymakers.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014 NASBL Base Draft Order

With the close of the 2013 NASBL World Series, the last piece of the 2014 base draft order puzzle is in place.

The 2014 base draft order (all rounds except rounds 3 and 4, which are governed by FA Money) is as follows:

1.  SBU
2.  ILL
3.  SPL
4.  GRK
5.  PCM
6.  CCC
7.  VFS
8.  OJW
9.  SHA
10. LCC
11. DFW
12. SPR
13. GCG
14. ENP
15. TRY
16. LVI

There were situations where teams were tied in terms of base winning percentage.  The tie-breakers were as follows:

-DFW gets pick #11 over SPR due to less overusage points.
-VFS gets pick #7 over OJW due to winning a coin-toss tie-breaker.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Trades lead Spurs in 2013

At the start of the 2013 no one would have thought the Spurs would be a playoff team.  After BK-1 they were playing .500 baseball.  We were making plans on who would we try and trade and get ahead start on 2014.  Thanks to a 19-8 BK-2 home record the Spurs found themselves in the play off hunt.  Before the start of BK-3 the Spurs made a couple of trades that turned out to be one of the most successful trades the Spurs have ever made.  Looking for relief help and another Closer to replace the struggling Rafael Betancourt who had a record of 1-4, with 14 saves with an era over 4 and had given up 7 home runs in 30 inning.   In a deal that brought Wilton Lopez over from PCM, Lopez went 2-2 with 14 saves & a 1.77 era.  Then in a deal that brought 3 new faces from VFS Garrent Jones in 38 games batted .312ba 7-2b 7-hr 28-rbi.  Willie Bloomquist batted .333ba in 49 games and Joe Smith went 3-1 with 2saves & a 1.98 era.  

"We couldn't have asked more of the players we picked up in trades in 2013" stated the skipper of DFW Red Robbins.  "There is no doubt if we didn't make those moves we wouldn't have made the play  offs.  We are hoping we can sign Joe Smith and Willie Bloomquist to deals before the start of 2014"!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

World Series Results

The IronPigs and Haymakers had a rematch of the 2011 World Series.  Each team had the best record in their respective conference but each team took a different road to reach the finals.  The IronPigs rode the arms of their pitching staff to a league best 3.23 ERA during the regular season.  The Haymakers belted out 242 homeruns which tied them for second in the league.  The Haymakers made a strong push by making some mid season trades to bolster their pitching staff which aided them in garnering the all important 1st round bye.  The series promised to be an interesting juxtaposition of irresistible force and immoveable object.  Which would prevail?

Game 1: Medlen vs. Greinke
The series started at the Pig Pen where the oufield fences distances are measured in yards, rather than feet.  Both starters pitched well and the game was tied at 1 after 9 innings.  Lehigh Valley came out the victor in the 11th inning.  After an out was recorded, Albert Pujols doubled.  Eric Chavez struck out, unable to help the rally.  Billy Butler then doubled making Lehigh Valley the victor and beginning a joyous home town celebration.  Troy was out-hit by Lehigh Valley, 10 hits to 4.  Koji Uehara(1-0) allowed no runs in 1 and 1/3 innings, and picked up the victory. Rafael Soriano(0-1) absorbed the loss in relief.  He gave up 1 run and 1 hit in 2/3 of an inning.  It was Uehara's 4th win in the post season.
IronPigs lead the series 1-0

Game 2: Niese vs. Beachy
The IronPig fans were very happy to collect a win in game 1 and go into game 2 with their best starter on the mound, looking to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.  Fortunately for the Haymaker faithful, the game was not decided on paper.  Troy broke a tie with a run in the 9th inning.  After two were out, Bernadina delivered a single.  Bernadina was running on the next pitch and he stole second.  Fernando Rodney (0-1) then uncorked a wild pitch that found its way to the backstop.  Chase Headley came up and he lined a base-hit.  Adam Laroche came up to bat and reached on an error.  Troy finished with 11 hits in the victory.
Series is tied 1-1

Game 3: Anderson vs. Johnson
The venue changed to Haymaker Grounds where the outfield fences are approximately 25' beyond the infield dirt.  IronPig outfielder and NASBL stolen base leader, Juan Pierre was even thinking longball in this stadium.  A side story included the axiom that, frequently, professional sporting events are won by the team with the largest Johnson.  If that is the case, 6'-7" Josh Johnson should never lose to anyone except 6'10" Randy Johnson.  The Unit was not pitching for the IronPigs, so no worries there.  Albert Pujols hit 2 doubles at Haymaker's Grounds where the Lehigh Valley IronPigs beat the Troy Haymakers by the score of 7 to 2.  Troy was unable to claim the lead after Lehigh Valley went ahead in the 4th inning as they scored 2 runs on 3 base hits.  Lehigh Valley rapped out 9 hits for the night.  The winning pitcher was Brett Anderson(1-0) who allowed 1 run in 5 innings.  Unfortunately for the Haymaker faithful, Josh Johnson(0-1) did not get the memo that "size matters" and took the loss.  He allowed 5 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings.
IronPigs lead the series 2-1 

Game 4: Strasburg vs. Bumgarner
NASBL TG Cy Young award winner Steven Strasburg took the mound for the IronPigs in game 4.  He was faced by Troy ace Madison Bumgarner.  Ryan Cook closed it out for Troy as the Troy Haymakers bested the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 6 to 4 at Haymaker's Grounds.  The game was delayed in the 4th inning when the benches cleared after IronPig manager Burns pulled Strasburg with runners on the corners and 1 out.  Troy manager Anderson took issue with pulling a starter that had not given up any runs to that point.  After order was restored, the Haymakers responded by plating 6 runs against the IronPig bullpen.  The big moment was provided by Josh Hamilton who made the crowd come alive when he clubbed a two-run home run.  Lehigh Valley could do no damage in the 9th.  Joel Peralta(1-0) allowed no runs in 2/3 of an inning, and picked up the victory. Peralta got help from Cook who was credited with his 1st save. Charlie Furbush(0-1) was hit with the loss in relief. 
Series tied 2-2

Game 5: Greinke vs. Medlen
Troy fans were elated to find their team playing at home in a tie series with their best pitcher on the mound for game 5.  The winner of this game takes a commanding 3-2 series lead heading into game 6.  The IronPig bats came alive in this game.  Robinson Cano slammed 2 homeruns and had 5 RBI as the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs defeated the Troy Haymakers 7 to 3 at Haymaker's Grounds.  Cano enjoyed a fine evening at the plate.  He lofted a three-run 'big-fly' in the 1st inning and bombed a two-run dinger in the 5th inning.  Lehigh Valley had 13 hits for the night while Troy had 8.  Zack Greinke(1-0) allowed 3 runs in 6 innings, and picked up the victory.  Fernando Rodney got the save, his 1st.  Kris Medlen(0-1) was hit with the loss.  He gave up 6 runs in 4 and 1/3 innings of work.  
IronPigs lead the series 3-2

Game 6: Niese vs. Beachy
The series heads back to the spacious confines of the Pig Pen for game 6 with the IronPigs holding a 3-2 series lead.  Ryan Cook had an impressive outing at The Pig Pen as the Troy Haymakers beat
the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs in 12 innings by the count of 4 to 2.  The game was deadlocked at 2 after nine full innings.  Troy tied the game with a 1 out homerun off IronPig closer Houston Street.  Troy won the game in the 12th inning.  Edwin Encarnacion led off and got things going when he drew a walk.  Corey Hart next to the plate and he slapped a single.  Fernando Rodney then let one get away for a wild pitch.  Allen Craig came up and he stroked a one-base hit.  Aaron Hill was the next batter, but he struck out.  Rodney then uncorked a pitch that was ruled a passed ball.  Russell Martin dug into the batters box next, but he struck out.  Alcides Escobar followed, but he was set down on strikes.  Although they lost, Lehigh Valley did out-hit Troy 11 to 5.  Sean Marshall(1-0) picked up the victory, allowing no runs in 1/3 of an inning. Marshall was helped out by Greg Holland who recorded his 1st save.  Charlie Furbush(0-2) was the loser in relief.  He pitched 1/3 of an inning giving up no hits and 1 walk.
Series tied 3-3

Game 7: Bumgarner vs. Anderson
This is what professional sports is all about.  Winner takes all and the loser goes home.  Put up or shut up time.  Two quality left handed starters faced off in game 7.  Madison "not Bumwarmer" Bumgarner faced off against Haymaker manager Ken Anderson's nephew Brett Anderson in game 7.  It is expected that future Anderson family gatherings will be heated to say the least. Billy Butler had 2 base hits and 2 RBI as the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs defeated the Troy Haymakers 6 to 2 to close out the NASBL World Series at The Pig Pen.  Brett Anderson(2-0) pitched well for Lehigh Valley in their victory.  He went 8 and 2/3 innings surrendering 8 hits and 1 walk.  Overall Lehigh Valley out-hit Troy 13 to 8.  Huston Street earned his 1st save.  Madison Bumgarner(0-1) was hit with the loss.  He allowed 6 hits and no walks in 1 and 1/3 innings.
IronPigs win series 4-3

Interesting statistics from the World Series:
1) IronPig team ERA was 2.96 and the Haymakers team ERA was 4.32
2) IronPigs scored 32 runs in the series and the Haymakers scored 22 runs
3) IronPigs batted 278 with 8 homeruns
4) Haymakers batted 209 with 4 homeruns
5) Haymakers had two players that batted over 300 with a combined total of 11 at bats
6) IronPigs had 5 players with batting averages over 300 and a combined total of 94 at bats
7) Haymakers had 10 stolen bases and IronPigs had 6
8) Josh Hamilton had a rough series batting 143 with 3 rbi and 2 runs scored
9) Billy Butler batted 385 with 5 RBI and 4 runs scored
10) Robinson Cano batted 364 with 6 rbi and 6 runs scored
11) Both teams had a .986 fielding percentage 

In a controversial vote, the game selected Ryan Cook as the series MVP.  Cook edged out IronPig 2b Robinson Cano for the award.  

Congratulations to Ken for an amazing season and for the powerhouse team that he put together!  Since we also faced off in 2011, Las Vegas has opened the betting lines at 12 to 1 of the IronPigs and Haymakers facing off two years from now in the 2015 NASBL World Series.