29
April

League Profile: Retro 5Y League

image

Louis Vasquez contacted me about a unique project he his involved in.  It’s a retro league using the years 1948-1952.  The most interesting thing about this deal is that the Retro 5Y League will be using a different tabletop sports game for each year. 

It is Season II now and it is APBA’s turn.  You can find out more about the Retro 5Y League project here.

Some quick facts on the Retro 5Y League:

League Name

Retro 5Y League

Contact Person Louis Vasquez
League Website http://5ybaseball.magix.net/public/
Sport Baseball
# of teams 10
Year of inception 2001
Basic/Master/Computer/ Combination Basic Game
Does your league play… out of the box

 

Louis’ comments:   

“Draft league, five seasons (1948-1952). A different game is used to play each season.

Season II is underway, and will be the only season to use APBA. Two divisions with promotion and relegation at the end of the season. Div 1 has more teams and plays more games (six, 140), while the four teams in Div 2 play out a 102 game season. Originally, the 5Y League covered 1998-2002, and only used NL players.”

 

It is a very interesting concept for a project, Louis.  I would be curious once this is over if you would do a review of all five games you used. 

Thanks for sharing!

If you want to brag about your league, we’re listening!  Tell us all about the league you are in and we’ll post a profile about it.  In the meantime, read about other leagues who have written in.

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28
April

Brian Cavanaugh’s ‘05 Phillies rehash

cavanaughPhillies phanatic Brian Cavanaugh (shown right at 3rd annual Robert Henry Tournament) fills us in on his latest project.  He’s completed a replay of the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies.  Here is his wrap-up… -TN

When I first began doing season replays, I figured it would be fun to play with teams that finished in second place and see if I could re-write history. I did that once with the 1986 Rangers and than moved on to the 1964 Phillies. The two replays were vastly different experiences for me. I found that I enjoyed the 1964 Phillies replay a lot more for a few reasons:

1) Growing up in Philadelphia and being a lifelong Phillies fan, there was an attachment there that wasn’t for the Rangers.

2) My father was around 16 years old in 1964 and it was his first taste of a pennant race. This team has always been his favorite Phillies team of all time

I than decided during the ’64 Phillies replay that for the time being I would replay only the Phillies seasons. So far, I’ve completed 1964, 81, 89, 91, 92, 93 (my all-time favorite Phillies team). I also than decided that I would currently focus on what I consider to be the greatest era of Phillies baseball ever, the 2007-2011 run, or as I call it, the “Rollins-Utley and Howard era” starting with the first year they played together 2005. So far, in succession, I have replayed 2005-’07 (with 2008 set to begin any day). Starting with 2005, I will post my results.

2005 Phillies… 92-70, 1st place NL East (2 games ahead of Atlanta Braves, defeated SD in DS 3-1, lost to STL in LCS 4-0)

Leaders

AVG… Kenny Lofton, .318

Runs … Jimmy Rollins, 116

Hits … Jimmy Rollins, 186

HR … Pat Burrell, 34

RBI …Pat Burrell, 95

2BH … Jimmy Rollins, 50

3BH … Jimmy Rollins, 12

BB … Bobby Abreu, 95

SB … Jimmy Rollins, 46

Chase Utley takes over at second base after Placido Polanco (.216, 3-15) was traded to Detroit and hits .309 (136 – 473), 27-84.

Ryan Howard falls short of his NL Rookie of The Year numbers to post .207, 19-70

Bobby Abreu finishes at .247, 18-87

Jimmy Rollins finishes at .275, 10-55

The Phils would wrap up their first playoff birth since 1993 by winning 92 games. A near sweep of the Padres in Divisional Series was followed by a Cardinals sweep in the NLCS.

 

Pitching Leaders

SVs … Billy Wagner, 41

W … Brett Myers, 15

L … Jon Lieber , 12

ERA … Myers, 3.51

Ks … Myers, 188

Brett Myers leads in most categories for starters (W, ERA, KOs, GS). Billy Wagner (7 – 0, 2.42) was lights out in his final season for the Phil’s appearing in 67 games. Ugueth Urbina (3-5, 5.46, 43 games) struggles as the 8th inning reliever following trade with Tigers. Ryan Madson (2.78) and Geoff Geary (2.53) emerge as dependable bullpen arms.

Up Next: Ryan Howard’s record breaking 2006 season ends in heartbreak for the Phils…

Nice recap, Brian!  Congrats on finishing another replay. Good luck with ‘06!

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24
April

Monster Card Monday: 1985 Rickey Henderson

hendersona

Rickey Henderson has been featured twice on Monster Monday, for his 1982 card and his 1990 card.  This 1985 may be one of his best, however.  It certainly is most indicative of his talents.  Not everyone is a Rickey Henderson fan but no one can argue his talent on the ball field.  He currently ranks first among all Major League ballplayers in career runs scored (2.295) and stolen bases (1.406) and comes in second in walks (2,190). 

In 1985, Henderson had just been traded to the Yankees.  The consummate leadoff man, he batted first in the lineup in all but two of his games that year.  He responded by hitting a robust .314 with 80 stolen bases.  This was also the first time in Henderson broke the 20-homer barrier as his cracked 24 dingers for New York.  Rickey almost hit the century mark in walks with 99. 

For his efforts, Henderson came in third in the AL MVP voting and won a Silver Slugger award. 

Season Totals
Split G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
1985 Totals 143 547 146 172 28 5 24 72 80 99 65 .314 .419 .516
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/24/2017.

 

Henderson’s 1985 card has it all.  Hitting, power, speed, patience, you name it.  The 22-8 is a little off-putting but is necessary due to his three 11s and one 10 not to mention his five 14s.  My estimate is that this card should hit around .325. 

I haven’t even talked about Rickey’s power.  A 1-5-6 is certainly not Babe Ruth but with everything else considered, it’s all gravy.  The only downside is that you may be batting a hitter with a 5 in the leadoff spot. 

A side note:  the 42-12 on this 1985 card will be aggravating for Rickey fans.  What should be a obvious walk might well be an inning-ending double play.

1 comment

10
April

Summer 2017 Chicagoland tourney… who’s going?

2016 Fall Chicagoland tourney-1975

Don’t worry.  Pops Spatz won’t be bringing Aaron this time

I’m planning on attending the 2017 Summer Chicagoland APBA Baseball tournament on August 5th.

Who’s with me?

Oh wait, there’s a list…

1 Rob Spatz 2016 Toronto Blue Jays
2 Bob "Pops" Spatz 2010 Texas Rangers
3 Gary Lindley 1959 Milwaukee Braves
4 Chet Wazio 1974 Oakland Athletics
5 Todd Daniels 1997 Seattle Mariners
6 Bob Eller 1998 Cleveland Indians
7 Jim Welch 1941 Boston Red Sox
8 John Roels 1929 New York Giants
9 Larry Eichman 1963 San Francisco Giants
10 Ken Schulz 1977 Cincinnati Reds.
11 Kevin Burghardt 1980 Montreal Expos
12 Kurt Bergland 1973 New York Mets
13 Craig Christian 1980 Milwaukee Brewers
14 Ryan Daniels 1923 Cleveland Indians
15 Justin Schubert TBA
16 Maddelyn Vanicelli TBA
17 Curt Bartel 2001 San Francisco Giants
18 Eric Berg 2008 Minnesota Twins
19 Doug Schuyler 1982 Atlanta Braves
20 Clark Eichman 1964 Minnesota Twins
21 Mike Hill 1996 Baltimore Orioles
22 Don Smith TBA
23 Kyle Daniels TBA
24 Thomas Nelshoppen TBA
25 Dave Rueck * TBA

Organizer Rob Spatz says he’s capping the attendance at 36 so sign up now!!  See how fun the last one was!!

 

2016 Fall Chicagoland tourney-1971

Curt Bartel sure is excited about going!

Summer 2017 Chicagoland Tournament Info and Rules

2016 Fall Chicagoland tourney-0184

“Oh no, rules…”

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5, 2017
Comfort Inn – O Hare 2175 Touhy Ave, Des Plaines, IL 60018
Doors Open at 8:30 AM. Games to start by 9:00 AM, with the Championship slated to be completed by 7 PM.

TEAM SELECTION INFORMATION

Basic selection premise: Select any MLB team 1901?2016 that ended the season with a .556 or less record. In a 162 game season, that means any team with 90 wins OR less. The only team excluded due to being a past tournament winner that meets this criteria is the 1964 Los Angeles Dodgers. Multiple Franchises may be selected.

GENERAL HOUSEKEEPING

WHAT YOU NEED TO BRING:

*Your team
*Dice
*Boards. We will be using the most recent booklet form of board to provide general uniformity. Copies will be available the day of the game.
*Score sheets will be provided but you may bring and use your own!
*Roster sheet with your team. (For rosters with stats,visit www.baseball?reference.com)
* $20 Entry Fee. The fee goes to cover the cost of the room and tournament expenses.

DAY OF GAME SCHEDULE:

Ø 8:30 AM – Doors Open. Games to be played.
Ø 9:00 AM – Introductions, and National Anthem
Ø 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM. Lunch. Options will be presented before the day of the tournament
Ø 1:30 PM. We will either have a pseudo All-Star game or go back to game play depending on the status of games remaining.
Ø @ 6:00 PM – Championship
Ø 7:00 PM – Optional Post Tournament Dinner at El Meson

MOST IMPORTANT!

IN THE WORDS OF DOUG SCHUYLER:

“REMEMBER TO ROLL SLOW AND HAVE A GOOD TIME!”

Tournament rules

Housekeeping rules
•the basic game will be used. The home team manager decides; pitcher vs. DH and advanced or basic fielding.
• in order to keep a sense of uniformity, the most recent booklet form of boards will be used. If you do not have them, copies will be provided the day of the tournament
• you may bring any mlb team 1901?present that finished the season with a .556 or less record.
• 25 man max roster.
• Please bring a roster sheet with copies to be passed to the opposing manager before each game. Roster sheets should have full name with position and stats for that season only.
• any player rated j-0 thru j-3 may start. Cards without the j rating at the bottom of the card will be limited to pitchers with more than 100 innings and position players with greater than 100 at?bats. Any rostered player may enter starting in the 6th inning. Any position player injury before the 6th inning will allow for any player that fields the injured players position to enter. Any injury for a pitcher is nullified until the 6th inning, with the game results standing.
• any injury is only sustained for that game. The player may return to the lineup for the next game.
• a pitcher must bat in the 8th or 9th spot in the batting order to start a game. A pitcher may pinch hit or pinch run, but may not be used as a dh.
• dice must be rolled on the table or in a box
• re?roll both dice if they go off table or out of box
• there is no limit to the use of a relief pitcher from one game to the next.
• all pitchers will be a straight grade d starting in the 13th inning. (no x, y, z, k, r, or w) their fielding rating will not be altered.
• there are no rainouts. You came to play APBA!!!!!!

Divisional play
• we will cap our capacity to 36 teams. Assuming that we reach capacity, there will be 4 divisions of 9 teams each. Each team in the division will play every team once for a total of 8 games.
• there will be a 4 man pitching rotation, with each starter pitching a total of twice in divisional play.
• a schedule of division play will be provided before the start of the tournament. It will list the home/away matchups and the order for pitching rotations. Games can be played out of order. The schedule only serves as a guide for pitching rotations and home/away.
• each team will have a total of 4 home games and 4 road games in divisional play.
• the top two teams from each division will move onto the playoff rounds.
• tie breakers: head to head, run differential among tied teams, runs scored, coin toss. A playoff game will only be implemented in the event that we have extra time and is approved by the tournament director before play begins.
• one division head will be chosen to assist in keeping track of scores.

Pitching

• a 4 man rotation will be used. Set your rotation and stay in that order for all divisional play games. Note that the schedule will provide the given matchups. Games can be played out of order, as the schedule is only a guide for play. For instance, your first opponent is the 7th game on the schedule. You will pitch your 3rd starter even if it is your first game played.
• no j?4 starting pitcher may start
• no reliever (denoted only by an asterisk by the pitcher’s grade) may start.
• observe APBA pitching improvements and decreases. With the following exception – all runs credited will be earned or unearned.
• starters must pitch at least 5 innings unless affected by grade reduction.
• relief pitchers with *asterisk are limited to two innings or 6 total outs.
• pitchers with straight grades or split grades are limited to 3 innings or 9 total outs when used in relief.
• any relief pitcher is advanced one letter grade, but not beyond grade a, for only the first batter they face in the middle of any inning if he throws from the opposite side of the plate..
• pitching rotations stays set until the championship game.
• in the championship game, any pitcher rated as a starter may start. A relief pitcher may not start.
• your starting pitcher cannot exceed 9 innings unless they are pitching a no-hitter. Beyond the 9th inning, they must be removed if they give up a hit at the end of that inning.

Fielding

• total team fielding will be used.
• no player can start the game at a position for which he is not graded.
• a player can not be used at any time in a position for which he is not graded, if another player is available to enter the game and could be placed in the lineup in way that would result in no one being used at a non?graded position. Please
do not try to bend the rules or find loopholes. Let’s all just have fun!
• any player who does not have a fielding rating for a position will be considered the lowest fielding rating if placed into the game.
• the manager must declare deep or in with a runner on third base. If not declared, the infield will be considered deep.

Baserunning

• a manager must declare whether or not a runner is holding/playing it safe. If they are holding/playing it safe, they would only advance as far as the batter. Example, with a runner on first base and the batter doubles, the runner would
only advance two bases and go to third and not score despite the board result. All board steal results or thrown out trying to steal results are negated if the manager was holding/playing it safe with the runner.
• no limit to sacrifice attempts.
• no limit to hit n run attempts.

Playoffs? Playoffs!

• there will be a total of 8 playoff teams. There are two leagues – left side and right wide (names to be determined later) with each side having two divisions. The top two teams from each division will advance. The first round will see the second place team from division 2 at the first place for division 1, second place from division 1 at first place division 2, second place from division 3 at first place division 4, and second place division 4 at first place division3. Pitching rotation is considered refreshed so any starter can start. Your starter for the league championship in the next game will be resting and unable to relieve, however your number three and four starters may relieve. Best record followed by playoff run differential will determine home field for the league championship and game one of the World Series. League championship will see your second starter start that game. Rotation resets for the championship, which will be a best of three affair with home field alternating between games. Your fourth starter may relieve.

3 comments

9
April

Replay stats with Excel: building a league register

Well, it’s been a while since I put out a Replay stats with Excel tutorial.  Between Illini baseball in full swing and organizing Prairieland 2, it’s been quite busy.  Never fear, here is the next segment.

Why a league register?

Up until now, I’ve focused on tracking stats from a team’s perspective.  This video will show how I create a league register and we start seeing the big picture.  Quite simply, the league register is a dynamic list of every player and their stats.  The list is dynamic because total stats are automatically updated every time their game stats are entered.

At this point in the tutorial, a league register is necessary but not always optimal from a design perspective.  If you think about it, how often do you look at EVERY league players’ stats when checking out MLB stats?  No, we usually look at a team’s stats (like this) or a league leaderboards to give us a snapshot (it’s coming soon).

That said, when a league register is in the form of an Excel table, we do have the capability of sorting, filtering or even better, both.  If I want to see who is leading my replay in rbis, a quick sort is in order.  I can easily filter by “Chi” to find out what players have played for the Cubs.  If I do both, I can see who is leading the Cubs in rbis.

A few of the finer points

Averages are funny.  If I sort pitchers by lowest ERA, I will guarantee that someone will have a 0.00 ERA until late summer when every pitcher has a good chance to get some innings in.  That’s another chance to use sorting and filtering at the same time.  While sorting for lowest ERA, we can use a number filter on innings pitched so that only pitchers with the qualified number of innings will be displayed.  The same goes for batting averages and most other averages.

cntr

While pivot tables are a lot more flexible (I’ll be getting to them soon), there is a quick and dirty way to copy and paste leader data from register tables.  The trick is to copy columns that are not adjacent.  To do that, highlight the one column then hold the Ctrl key then highlight the second column.  This will allow you to copy this selection so you can paste it elsewhere (see above).

 

My final note: you’re not limited to the stat categories from your team spreadsheets.  Since many stat categories are simply formulas using the core numbers, feel free to add more.  There are plenty of ones that can be derived from the stats that were linked.

For example, one that is critical is Plate Appearances (AB+BB+HBP+SH).  Plate Appearances are necessary in how I determine who qualifies for average leaders.  Just make sure when you add a category, that it is adjacent to the table.  By doing that, it becomes part of the table.

Currently, here are categories I’ve added in my 1966 replay:

  • Plate appearances
  • Extra base hits
  • Isolated Average
  • Strikeouts/9 Innings Pitched
  • Walks/ 9 Innings Pitched
  • Hits/ 9 Innings Pitched
  • Win %
  • WHIP

 

For those that want to follow along, here are the Excel spreadsheets I’m working with.

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8
April

April 1 tourney follow up

prairieland 2-4650

It’s been a week since the Prairieland 2 tournament and I finally had a chance to compile the stats for my 1985 Los Angeles Dodgers.  In the ten games, we went 3-7.  We slightly improved as the tourney progressed.  My Dodgers (plus fantasy player 1901 Napoleon Lajoie) lost the first five games but went 3-2 the rest of the way.

image

Some highlights

– My fantasy deadball player ‘01 Napoleon Lajoie was by far the most productive player.  He batted .405 (15 for 37) and 7 rbis both team bests.  After going 0 for 2 in game 1, he got a hit in every remaining game.

– Bill Madlock only hit .200 (8 for 40) but half of his hits were for homers for the team lead.  As a result, he tied Lajoie for rbis with 7.  One those dingers broke up a no-hitter by Rube Waddell who was pitching for Gordon Rodell’s 1990 A’s in the 9th inning.  Mad Dog was also involved in a identity crisis when he faced himself.  Mike Hill’s 1987 Detroit Tigers had Bill Madlock playing third as well.  The result?  Both Madlocks combined for five homers in the two games.

– Once third place hitter Pedro Guerrero started hitting, we did better.  Pedro was 1 for 19 in our first five losses.  He broke out in game 6 with four hits and in the last five games, he was 9 for 21.  Overall, he batted .250 with six rbis.

-Greg Brock who batted ninth, was a bit of a pleasant surprise. He batted .294 with a couple of dingers and five rbis.

There aren’t too many pitching highlights.  I was amazed how many homeruns we gave up (21 in ten games).  Orel Hershiser (AYZ) was particularly ineffective going 0-3 with a 6.26 ERA and 14 walks allowed in 23 IP.

Our pitching which included a starting rotation of A-A-B-B boasted a team ERA of 5.48.  Tom Niedenfuer was 2 for 2 in save situations though.

 

Elsewhere on the Tournament circuit

semifinals_jeff_vs_dave

My takeaway?  Hitting wins games.  Chicks dig the longball, right?  Just look at Jim Fraasch’s article over Jim’s APBA Barn entitled “How to win an APBA Tournament with an all “C” pitching staff …”.  Yes, on the same day Prairieland 2 took place, the Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament was also going on.

When Dick Butler was mowing down Prairieland opponents with the 1977 Phillies, Jeff Boeding was doing the same up in the St. Paul area with the 1930 Yankees.  Jim’s excellent article goes into detail on Jeff’s selection process of a team with lots of hitting but maybe less-than-stellar pitching could go all the way.  There’s more info on TCABT-VII here.

Congrats Jeff!!

5 comments

4
April

1966 NL replay: Dodgers holding off Giants as May ends

Team  Wins Losses Pct. GB
Los Angeles Dodgers 31 14 .689 0   
San Francisco Giants 27 19 .587 4 1/2
Pittsburgh Pirates 25 19 .568 5 1/2
Atlanta Braves 26 21 .553 6   
Cincinnati Reds 21 19 .525 7 1/2
Philadelphia Phillies 21 21 .500 8 1/2
Chicago Cubs 19 23 .452 10 1/2
Houston Astros 20 26 .435 11 1/2
New York Mets 13 24 .351 14   
St. Louis Cardinals 12 29 .293 17   

 

I finished the month of May in my 1966 NL replay a while ago.  I started this summary but finally had some free time to finish it up and post it. 

A recap of my replay setup: I am using the most recent APBA charts and the 1966 cards I am using are ones that were published in 2009. I am replaying the full 1966 schedule of the National League season using ACTUAL games played.

My replay uses actual lineups and rotations as well as transactions as close to the actual date as possible. I play the APBA Baseball pretty much out the box with very little modifications though I disregard rainouts and injuries are limited to the duration of the game.

 

Current Batting Leaders

Current Pitching Leaders

 

suttonLos Angeles Dodgers 31-14

The Dodgers continue to win. They have been in first place since the first week of the season. While that hasn’t changed, other teams have begun to challenge them for the top spot.

Throughout the season, the Dodgers have always been about the pitching. With a team ERA of 2.17, that’s never been in question. Sandy Koufax had an incredible month of May going 5-1 with a microscopic 0.68 ERA. He now leads the league with a 1.22 mark. As for teammate Don Sutton, he’s been literally unbeatable. He went 7-0 in May to boost his record to 11-0 with a season ERA of 1.97. Claude Osteen is an interesting case. He is in the top ten in ERA with spiffy 2.45 ERA but with little offensive support he can only sport a 3-8 record.

Dodger fans are hoping Don Drysdale isn’t catching “Osteen-itis” as he was 1-4 with a 3.47 ERA after beginning the season with three straight wins. We haven’t seen too much from the bullpen but neither Ron Perranoski nor Phil Regan have given up a run in 15 combined innings.

Offensively, it’s secondbaseman Jim Lefebvre who is carrying the bat for the Bums. He’s batting .325 with 7 homers. Leadoff man Maury Wills is tied for second in stolen bases with 14.

 

San Francisco Giants 27-19

With the best record in May (18-10), the Giants have consistently challenged the Dodgers for first place. They got as close as three games back and they have Willie Mays to thank for that. CF Mays had a phenomenal month of May. He hit six homers, hit .363 and lead all players in slugging and OBP. For the season, he leads the NL with 12 homers and a .650 slugging percentage and comes in 2nd with 33 rbis. 3B Jimmie Ray Hart provides a one-two punch as he is only other player in the NL in double figures in homers with 10. Willie McCovey provides some nice power too with seven homers and a .592 slugging percentage (3rd in the league). Needless to say, SF is the most powerful team in the league by a longshot (44 HR to second place Atlanta with 38).

Starter Juan Marichal has one of the most amazing pitching stats in my replay. In 91 innings, Marichal has allowed just 3.6 hits per 9 innings. He’s at 7-3 with a second-best 1.58 ERA. The #2 man Gaylord Perry has a nice 2.90 ERA but the batters must take a day off when he’s on the mound; he’s 3-5 in 8 starts. Bobby Bolin makes up for it though. He’s is 5-2. Opponents are still looking to score on reliever Lindy McDaniel who has 7 saves in 8 appearances.

 

Pittsburgh Pirates 25-19

Pittsburgh’s story in the early season was Bob Bailey who hit .467 for the month of April and was pretty much leading most offensive categories. Bailey bat hit reality in May and for the month, he hit .286 with 10 rbis. Bailey is still hitting .358 for the season which is good enough to lead the league.

May was Matty Alou’s month. The leadoff man collected 37 hits for May and is still currently on a 14 game hitting streak. He is looking to break his brother Felipe Alou’s season record of 17 consecutive games with a hit. He is currently batting .333, fourth in the league. Willie Stargell got off to a great start this season but only hit two homers in May. Overall, he is still hitting .313 (8th in the league) and is tied with Mays for second with 33 rbis.

Bob Veale (6-5, 2.15 ERA) overcame a rough April to be nominated for Pitcher of the Month in May. After going 0-3 in April, he went 6-2 in May with a 1.22 ERA. Roy Face is arguably one of the best relievers in the game. In seven appearances, he has seven saves with no runs allowed.

1966 NL replay by the numbers

# of games played 215
# of at-bats 15,121
# of innings pitched 3,875
# of homeruns 286
# of batters who came to the plate 267
# of pitchers who made an appearance 126
# of Dodgers who appeared in at least one game 27
# of Cubs who appeared in at least one game 40
# of pitching categories LA leads the league 12
# of pitching categories the rest of NL leads the league 1
Combined record of LA’s Sutton and Koufax 19-2
Combined record of LA’s Osteen and Drysdale 5-9

 

Atlanta Braves 26-21

The Braves were the second winningest team in May which helped the recover from their 9-10 April. In fact, the Braves and Pirates often switched 3rd and 4th place throughout the month.

Felipe Alou really came into his own in May. He hit in 17 straight games. They weren’t all singles either. By the end of May, Alou leads the league with 17 doubles and 9 triples. Combined with his 6 homers, his 32 extra base hits tops second place Willie Mays by eight. He also leads the NL with 37 runs. While Hank Aaron is 5th in the league in homers with 7 and 6th in rbis with 28, his .243 batting average leaves a bit to be desired.

With Tony Cloninger (6-4, 2.92 ERA) and Ken Johnson (3-4, 2.82 ERA), the Braves rotation is solid. The bullpen however, is phenomenal. Clay Carroll is threatening Don Sutton with his 9-0 record and 1.12 ERA in 15 appearances and one start. Billy O’Dell is the closer and has racked up seven saves.

 

Cincinnati Reds 21-19

Like the Braves, the Reds recovered from a less-than-stellar April. In May, they went 14-11 and placed in the top half.

Outfielder Vada Pinson may be the reason for this. He rebounded from a .196 average in April and hit .315 for May. He’s now on a 9-game hitting streak going into June. The rbi leader for the Reds may surprise you. It is catcher Don Pavletich who has plated 22 Cincinnati runs. Thirdbaseman Pete Rose (.297) has been hitting around the .300 mark all season and is second in the league in doubles with 15.

Starter Jim Maloney (AX) has pitched as expected. He is 6-0 with a fourth best 1.95 ERA. Sammy Ellis however, is an interesting story. A DY, he sports a 6.36 ERA which ranks as the fifth highest among qualifiers. He gets a lot of support though. His 5-5 record ranks him at ninth most wins in the league.

The reliever with the coolest moniker, Billy McCool has seven saves and has yet to give up an earned run in 17 2/3 innings.

 

Philadelphia Phillies 21-21

The Phils are a team with a lot of promise but haven’t yet pulled it together. They improved slightly in May (15-13) to finish the month with a .500 record. What hurt them the most was the disappearance of Richie Allen who only appeared in 9 games. Even with his break, (.368) Allen still leads the Phillies in homers (6) and rbis (21). He’s back on the team now and has a five game hit streak going.

When Allen was on break, the Phils relied on Johnny Callison (42 hits, 9 doubles) and Bill White (9 doubles, 15 rbis) to put the bat on the ball.

Fortunately, the Phillies have three solid starters on their staff. Jim Bunning (7-2, 2.30), Larry Jackson (4-2, 2.18) and Chris Short (5-3, 2.90) have all pulled their weight. Closer Darold Knowles is struggling. In 11 appearances, he’s saved five games but also lost five games and has one of highest ERAs of a closer at 6.17.

 

santoChicago Cubs 19-23

On to my favorite topic… the Chicago Cubs. Unbelievably, the Cubs had a winning May at 14-12. This can only be attributed to their improved hitting led by Ron Santo. Santo caught fire in May hitting .358 including a 12-game hitting streak. Santo also led the league in homers for the month with 7 after just hitting one in April. As a result, he and fellow 3B Bob Bailey are now fighting it out for the top hitting spot. For now, Santo is hitting .350 for the season with a league leading OBP .448. He ranks 3rd in homers with 8.

Santo isn’t the only batter with a good eye. Ernie Banks has been a big surprise ranking 3rd in the league at .333. Another surprise, Don Kessinger is batting .312 in the 8th spot. Acquired from the Phillies, Adolfo Philips needs to hit the ball a bit more at .246 but when he gets on, watch out! He leads the NL in steals with 19.

As for pitching, well things could be better. The Cubs have the second worst pitching staff in the league with a 4.74 ERA (yes, that’s bad in 1966). Two of worst qualifying ERAs belong to Cubs starters in Bill Hands (7.33) and Ernie Broglio (5.89). However, a DZ in Dick Ellsworth (4-3, 3.52 ERA) is holding this team together and has become a fan favorite. Recent acquisition Ferguson Jenkins (3 saves, 3.60 ERA) has mostly been used in relief and has shown signs of brilliance.

 

Houston Astros 20-16

This Houston team has some strange stats especially for a team that is 6 games under. Let’s start with the NL rbi leader Jimmy Wynn. He’s driven in 35 runs despite a .234 batting average and leading the league in strikeouts with 42.

How about Rusty Staub? Never once during the month of May did I think, “Hmm, Rusty is having a good month”. Once I tabulated the monthly stats, there is Staub leading the league with 26 rbis for the month. He did hit .308 for May but he had only two dingers.

Leadoff man Joe Morgan does one thing really well. He gets on base with the walk. He has 38 base on balls so far and that is ten more than second place Ron Santo. At .151, Jim Gentile has the distinction of being the worst hitter among qualifiers. SS Sonny Jackson makes a good #2 man in the Astro lineup and is leading the NL in hits with 63. More strangeness though, he had no extra base hits in May in 130 at-bats.

Larry Dierker (4-2, 2.47 ERA), Miguel Cuellar (3-2, 3.10 ERA) and surprisingly, Grade D Robin Roberts (4-3, 2.95 ERA) have provided good pitching support for the Astros. Claude Raymond has 7 saves in 9 appearances with a nice 2.19 ERA.

 

New York Mets 13-24

With better weather in New York, the Mets played 25 games in May. That schedule was a lot more rigorous than the 12 they played in April and it seemed to affect their performance. In May, they went 7-18 and dipped to ninth place with an overall 13-24 record.

Of all of the 1966 NL teams, I personally find the Mets team the least exciting. That said, they have found ways to keep it interesting. Look at Tug McGraw who is a DW and pitched only 62 innings for the season. He started the replay by pitching shutouts in his first two starts. After being ejected in his third start in the second inning, he still only allowed just two runs in his fourth start so he kept his name in the ERA leaders. He only just dropped from there from lack of qualifying innings though he still maintains his 1.54 ERA in 35 innings.

Jack Hamilton could learn a thing or two from Tug. With a 7.39 ERA, he is the sole pitcher in the replay in double-digit losses at 1-10.

Ron Hunt is the one offensive standout for Mets. Not only does he lead the league in HBP with 7, he also ranks sixth in OBP with a .389 mark. Ron Swoboda and Ed Kranepool lead the team with four homers while Ken Boyer paces the team in rbis with 19.

 

St. Louis Cardinals 12-29

It has gotten so bad for the Cardinals that I am actually starting to root for them if for no other reason than statistical accuracy. St. Louis’ April (5-11) has only turned into a worse May (7-18). Julian Javier had a unexplainable April with 5 homers and 13 rbis but none of his hits left the park in May and he only had one rbi. Lou Brock hit .391 in April but only hit .215 in May. The story goes on…

On a positive note, Charley Smith leads the Redbirds with 22 rbis.

Without offensive support, Bob Gibson (AX) is left blowin’ in the wind. His 2.69 ERA is wasted and he can only muster a 5-4 record. Much responsibility can be left at the Cardinals’ bullpen. A&C* Joe Hoerner (1-3, 4 sv, 5.56), A*Hal Woodeshick (0-6, 5.49 ERA) and Nellie Briles (1-5, 4.35 ERA) just ain’t gettin’ the job done.

Many Cardinals fans loved the Ray Sadecki for Orlando Cepeda deal with the Giants. Think about this, though. As of now, Sadecki (2-0, 4.09 ERA with the Cardinals) was the only pitcher other than Gibson with more than one win. Cepeda is hitting .250 for the Cardinals and has yet to hit his first homer.

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3
April

The Butler did it! Dick Butler’s 1977 Phils + 1919 Babe Ruth win Prairieland 2!

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Last Saturday, 22 APBA fans descended on a Drury Inn to participate in a APBA baseball tournament dubbed Prairieland 2.  It was the second of its kind held in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.  This year’s theme?  Participants could draft one MLB team from 1970-2000 with one hitch… they could also draft any player from the deadball player to help bolster their team.  The draft was done in February and you can see the team/player pairs here.

When all was done, Dick Butler was left standing.  His 1977 Phillies who was helped by 1919 Babe Ruth made the postseason and scored 23 runs more than his opponents in regulation play.  After successively defeating David Kagel (2000 Yankees/Turkey Mike Donlin) and Todd Daniels (1998 Yankees/Chief Bender), it was on to the World Series for Dick. 

Meanwhile with Todd Daniels in the mix it was starting to look like it might be an all-Daniels World Series.  Brother Kyle Daniels (1998 Braves/Eddie Collins) was making his move in the postseason.  However, he was taken out by Joe Schall’s 1994 Indians and their +1, Ty Cobb. 

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The stage was set for the World Series between Butler’s Phillies and Schall’s Indians.  Calm, cool and collected, Dick rolled his dice with his nifty Detroit Tigers-themed dice tower and got the job done.  I have the feeling, Ty Cobb wasn’t helping Joe who once muttered, “I going to bench you, Cobb!”. 

It took all three games but the 1977 Phillies won it all!  Congratulations to Dick!  And a hearty well-done to Joe! 

Here are all of the postseason teams!  Nice going guys!! 

Quarterfinalists

Dave Rueck

1982 Brewers Tris Speaker

Doug Bedell

1975 A’s Grover Alexander

Jim Welch

1981 Dodgers George Sisler

David Kagel

2000 Yankees Mike Donlin

 

Semi-finalists

Kyle Daniels

1998 Braves Eddie Collins

Todd Daniels

1998 Yankees Chief Bender

 

Finalist

Joe Schall

1994 Indians Ty Cobb

 

Champion!

Dick Butler

1977 Phillies Babe Ruth

 

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Most importantly, I think everyone had a great time.  We had a good mix of returning people from last year and new guys.  Some participants had never played in a tourney before.  In fact, David Kagel (above playing Tom Fulton) had just picked up the game last year after decades of not playing.  His 2000 Yankees made to the postseason.  Todd Daniels who I met at last November’s Chicagoland tourney, made it to the semi-finals. 

A special mention goes to Gordon Rodell.  He came all the from Fort Myers, Florida to be in this tournament.  He did visit his mom who lives in the area but I think his wife is on to him. 

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Will there be a Prairieland 3?  You bet!  Tournament organizers are already tossing around ideas for next year’s tourney. 

More photos from the Prairieland 2 tournament here. 

Take good care of that trophy, Dick!!

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29
March

Weird Card Wednesday: 1939 Charley Gehringer

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In the days when APBA put the 12 on a different number each year, my friend Don Smith would joke about the possibility of putting it at 66.  “I never roll that number”, he would say. 

This 1939 Charley Gehringer card published in 2015 and posted on Facebook by Ken Schulz has been getting some attention.  It’s isn’t quite the same thing as Don’s dilemma but you get the drift. 

gehringer (2)Some APBA fans commenting on this card are wondering if is this the only APBA card that doesn’t have the best result number at 66.  Gehringer has a 66-6 yet has an 11-1.  Not only is the 11-1 better than the ultimate roll of 66 but so is the 33-3. 

Possibly the strangest thing about this is that the 2012 print of this same card (seen left) has same arrangement.  Tom Goodell submitted the 2012 version of card a couple years ago for Weird Card Wednesday and it has the same 6-1-3-6 power number combination.   

Possibly this is a correct card technically but the power numbers at 11, 33 and 66 should be interchanged to a more palatable 66-1, 11-3, and 33-6.   

Still a fun card but definitely an odd one. 

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28
March

Thunderchickens roll a lot more fun in 2017

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Eight HR for April

So I’m in the middle of Big Ten baseball season (Go Illini!) and planning for the Prairieland 2 Tournament which is this weekend so it is quite busy.  But it’s March 28th and that means Illowa APBA League stats are due.  My time management skills must be getting better because last night, I powered through all through 30 games from our draft weekend in one sitting. 

So how are we doing?  Well, we’re 14-16 for the young season.  I’ll say one thing though.  Win or lose, the Thunderchickens of 2017 are a lot more fun.  Up and down the order we have production.

Hitting is fun…

A couple newcomers are making waves.  Recent acquisition Asdrubal Cabrera (his former manager Marcus Bunch was fond of calling him “ass-dribble” or “ass-dribs” for short.  Maybe that was bad for motivation).  His hitting .287 with 7 homers and leads the T-chix in rbis with 17 and hits with 35.  Catcher Wilson Ramos who was also acquired in a trade from Don Smith, started his season out by hitting in his first ten games.  He has 17 hits and nine runs in 16 games.  Joc Pederson who was part of a first round pick swap with the Missoula Rattlesnakes, has 26 hits including four homers and 15 rbis. 

The team’s homerun leader may surprise you.  It’s not JD Martinez nor is it Kris Bryant. Jason Kipnis currently leads the squad with 8 dingers.  Kip has been leading off most of the early season. 

I did give first round rookie pick Trea Turner a trial run for ten starts.  He’s 10 for 45 but is easily leading the team in stolen bases with four. 

…but pitching wins games!

There are some surprises on the pitching staff.  They are actually holding their own.  Four of our fourteen wins were shutouts.  Rookie Tyler Anderson pitched one in his first career start.  For the season, he is 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA and 41 Ks in 35 innings.  Tanner Roark (go Illini!) is doing fine with nifty 2.72 ERA and 3-2 record.  Set-up man Kevin Siegrist has allowed just one run in 13 innings and has struck out a total of 21 batters.  Closer Jeurys Familia (3.95 ERA) was doing fine until he blew two saves in a row. 

Jon Niese (2.84 ERA) hasn’t gotten the memo that he is a D pitcher this year.  Please don’t tell him. 

The Trea Turner experiment during the opening weekend was just that… an experiment.  I’m going to rest him a lot more and start using him more in the later half of the season.  His card is limited at 73 games and 307 at-bats but is quite nice with power numbers 1-4-5-6 and three 11s and a 10.  It’s been a long time since I led off a player with a first column but I can afford to do that with this team.  Until he comes back, Brandon Drury (1-0-0-0, 44-7) will fill in nicely). 

The Thunderchickens have the month of April off before they take on the Bunch brothers, Marcus and Dan. 

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