10
January

Boys of Summer League: Locomotives clinch Wild Card!

The results are in.  Here are the final standings of the Boys of Summer APBA League. 

image

Matt Hoeppner’s South Side Spartans and Stray Corrado’s Chicago Nine both won their respective divisions in the American League.  Brandon Matlock easily took the wild card spot. 

In the NL, Brad Stark’s Portland Microbrewers easily won the West Division by 23 games.  The East was a battle down to the last series.  Shawn Baier’s Traverse City went 4-1 against Steve Ruder’s Holland Hitchhikers sealing his first place finish.  It also ALMOST clinched a wild spot for my Urbana Locomotives.  I would have lose all five against the last place Kingsley Brownbeards to tie Holland. 

No fear of that.  The Locos swept Kingsley 5-0 behind shutouts by Cole Hamels and Tanner Roark.  In fact, Urbana has won the last nine games of the season to clinch a wild card spot.  Playoffs, here we come!

This is the second time we’ve made the BoS playoffs in its three years of existence.  We came in first place in 2013, the first year of the league.  That year, we lost to Portland in the NLCS. 

A quick recap on how we got to this point.  It certainly wasn’t our hitting though we had our bright points.  I’d have to say our pitching kept us in it. 

Starting pitching

Tanner Roark 15-7, 2.72 ERA, 5 SHO
Jeff Samardzija 15-11, 3.28 ERA, 247 K
David Price 16-11, 3.51 ERA, 249 K
Cole Hamels 11-15, 3.07 ERA
Mike Fiers 8-1, 2.83 ERAimage

Cole Hamels was having a pretty tough year (see his Offensive Support per 9 innings, right) but got in a groove in the homestretch and won his last three starts.  Fiers was a limited pitcher so I had to use him judiciously.  He won 8 starts in a row right when we needed him too during the middle of the season. 

Hitting

Adrian Beltre led the team in hitting (.276), homers (28), rbis (86) and runs (84). George Springer joined him as the only hitter with 20 plus homers with 23.   We had some downsides too.  Nick Markakis who I batted third most of the year, hit .185 though he did knock out 15 homers and drove in 61 and scored 75. Firstbaseman Garrett Jones hit just .208.

I also expected more from Josh Reddick (.179) and Yoenis Cespesdis (.184).  It was to the point where I started playing Alex Rios in the outfield instead.  Rios ended up leading the team in doubles (28). 

Bullpen

Our bullpen was led primarily by Jonathan Papelbon and Zack Britton who both got the job done.  Papelbon was the primary save guy and went 4-0 with 35 saves and a 1.52 ERA.  Britton (with the higher grade) was 3-4, 9 saves and a 3.48 ERA.  Ryan Cook as a set-up man was effective with a 2.72 ERA. 

 

What’s next?

First of all, two non-Urbana players are worth mentioning here.   First, Clayton Kershaw of Charles Evans’ King Road Kings has had a phenomenal run this season.  He went 20-3 with a 1.56 ERA with 263 strikeouts.  All season, he was in the hunt for the pitching triple crown but just barely fell short. 

Second, rookie Jose Abreu of Chris DeMercurio’s Corktown Tomales just missed the hitting Triple Crown.  He led the AL in hitting (.306) and rbis (104) but fell one homerun short (41) to David Ortiz. 

Rumor has it that the Locomotives will be playing Shawn Baier’s Traverse City Panthers in the NLDS.  This will be our third matchup in the last four series.  They have a tough team, no doubt.  The good news is that BBW’s AIM ratings are dialed back to the default so maybe I can bring back Mike Fiers. 

Let’s go Locos! 

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9
January

Pencil in April 16 for the Prairieland APBA Baseball Tournament

IMG_9078-001

The Prairieland APBA Baseball Tournament in Urbana, Illinois is only a little more than three months away.  We have a good number of participants committed to play on April 16th but we would welcome more.  Now that it’s the new year, it’s time to start making plans.  Organizers Eric Berg, Thomas Fulton, Dave Rueck and I are working so the first rendition of PABT will be one not to forget. 

The good news… with a few more commits, I can reduce the entrants fee to $10 to cover the facility fee. 

Here are the current teams that have been taken:

Manager Team
Dick Butler 1908 Chicago Cubs
Lew Ramey 1908 New York Giants
Thomas Nelshoppen 1930 New York Giants
Eric Berg 1969 Minnesota Twins
Lance Freezeland 1977 LA Dodgers
Dave Rueck 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates
Tom Fulton 1911 New York Giants

 

There are plenty of others who have not yet picked a team so choose yours soon!  Remember, only teams that have NOT won 100 games are eligible to be selected according to the tournament rules.  Within a couple weeks, I will probably set a soft date closer to the tournament that teams should be selected. 

The Prairieland APBA Baseball Tournament will be held April 16th at the Hampton Inn in Urbana, Illinois.  If you’re interested in participating, let me know by email or join the Facebook event

Take a look at all the competitive APBA tournaments happening this year here.  Don’t miss ours though because it will be fun!!

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9
January

1966 replay: Starting pitching rules!

Larry DierkerSomebody check my dice!  In my 1966 replay, starting pitchers are dominant!

It all started with Dodger Claude Osteen’s shutout on April 29th followed by Sandy Koufax’s no-hitter on April 30th against the Reds.  On that same day, Houston’s Larry Dierker (right) battled for a five-hit shutout vs Ken Johnson and the Braves (these games were played a while ago, by the way).

The next day, Bob Gibson and Don Sutton both pitched complete game shutouts.  After a game of rest in the MLB, there were THREE shutouts on May 3rd by Clay Carroll (ATL), Tommie Sisk (PIT) and Tug McGraw (PHI).  Chris Short pitched one for Philly on May 4th.  Finally on May 5th, two more.  Larry Jackson had a no-hitter broken up in the 7th inning but he maintained his shutout for the win for the Phillies.  Houston’s Turk Farrell even put one together to avoid a sweep against the Cubs.

By my count, that’s eleven shutouts in seven days and at least one each day.  Keep in mind, the 1966 NL is a 10-team league so at max, there are only five going on in one day.

You’ll see some of the aforementioned pitchers in the ERA leaders now.

Player Team IP ERA 
McGraw, Tug NYM 18    0.00
Dierker, Larry Hou 27    1.00
Maloney, Jim Cin 25    1.80
Gibson, Bob StL 34 2/3 1.82
Marichal, Juan SF 34    1.85
Koufax, Sandy LA 43    1.88
Blass, Steve Pit 31    2.03
Sutton, Don LA 39    2.08
Ellsworth, Dick Chi 27 2/3 2.28
Osteen, Claude LA 38    2.37

 

McGraw, by the way, has only pitched just two games and hurled two shutouts.

Just like in real life, Los Angeles is the team to beat.  They’ve gotten off to a great start with their tough pitching and defense.

Team  Wins Losses Pct. GB
Los Angeles Dodgers 15 4 .789 0   
Pittsburgh Pirates 11 8 .579 4   
Houston Astros 12 10 .545 4 1/2
New York Mets 7 7 .500 5 1/2
San Francisco Giants 9 10 .474 6   
Philadelphia Phillies 8 9 .471 6   
Atlanta Braves 10 12 .455 6 1/2
Cincinnati Reds 8 10 .444 6 1/2
Chicago Cubs 7 12 .368 8   
St Louis Cardinals 7 12 .368 8   

 

By the way, if anyone is wondering about the discrepancy in games played by each team, you’re not the only one.  The Mets have 14 total games and some teams like the Astros, have already played 22.  I’m playing the actual games played and never fear, it matches up.  The Mets just must have had a few rainouts.

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7
January

My 1930 tourney teams came in the mail yesterday!

1930 cards

I got a package in the mail from APBA yesterday.  No, it wasn’t the 2015 Baseball cards.  I ordered the 1930 baseball season.  Why?  Aside from the fact that it’s very fun season to have, I’ll be using two of the teams in upcoming tournaments this upcoming year. 

Prairieland APBA Baseball Tournament

For our upcoming tournament here in Urbana (sign up if you’re interested!), I am bringing the 1930 New York Giants.  I firmly believe that the Giants are the most balanced team in the NL in 1930.  When my buddy Brando replayed the 1930 season, New York won the NL championship. 

When Mel Ott is the third best hitter on your team, you know you got something good. 

Chicagoland Summer Fantasy World Series

For this summer’s Chicagoland tournament, I’ll be taking the 1930 St. Louis Cardinals.  Frank Frisch, Chick Hafey, George Watkins… yes, the team that hit .300.

There’s one extra catch with this tournament.  Each tourney participant gets to add any player from history as long as he’s from the same franchise.  I chose the player who helped me win my Illowa APBA League Championship, slugger 1998 Mark McGwire.  He should help add some power to that lineup. 

While I have some Monster Cards on both teams, I found it interesting that both teams have a bonafide Terrible Card.  The 1930 Cardinals sport outfielder Homer Peel while the Giants can boast Chick Fullis

Other Tournament News

Teams have been selected for the Twin Cities APBA Baseball Tournament that is being held on April 2, 2016.  Jim Fraasch has all the details on TCABT-V at Jim’s APBA Barn.

Rich Zawadzki’s Greater Michigan APBA Baseball Tournament is right around the corner.  The tourney date is set for March 5.  There may still be slots open and if it’s anything like what I heard the first one was, it should be a great time.  Leave a comment if you’re interested and I’ll make sure Rich sees it. 

I’ve updated the Tournament page.  If you have a tournament to plug, let me know.

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6
January

Weird Card Wednesday: 1981 Bruce Sutter

sutter

1981 Bruce Sutter is always willing to take one for the St. Louis Cardinals. 

With one HBP in ten plate appearances, Sutter received the appropriate four 42s on his card that year.  He struck out four times and did not get a hit or a walk. 

Strange, with all the 13s, he gets a 26-30 and a 24-29.  My theory is that it would be stranger to get a 31-30 so they put the 13s in his productive numbers. 

thanks, Howie Mooney!

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5
January

Down to the wire in the Boys of Summer APBA League

The Boys of Summer APBA League is down to the wire with just five games left in the 2015 season.  First of all, congratulations to Stray Corrado and his Chicago Nine and Brad Stark’s Portland Microbrewers who have both already clinched, not to mention totally dominated, their respective divisions. Those two can just sit back and relax till playoff time. 

Boys of Summer League standings with 5 games left

image

There are still a couple races to watch though.  The South Side Spartans are probably pretty comfortable in their first place spot four games up on the Swatara Eliminators in the AL East.  The Eliminators themselves are a full three games up in the AL Wild Card race. 

But take a look at the NL East… it’s still a race.  My Urbana Locomotives barely survived two six-game series in a row with the first place Traverse City Panthers managed by Shawn Baier.  At home, we lost five of six but once we went to Traverse City, we went 4-2.  As a result, my Locos are only three games back.  To complicate matters, Steve Ruder’s Holland Hitchhikers are just one game back of us. 

Wild standings in the NL East

image

The Locomotives have one edge.  We’re facing last place King Road for the last five games of the year.  My two rivals, Traverse City and Holland are facing off against each other. 

I’m hypothesizing all kinds of scenarios.  Bottom line though is my magic number is 5 to get the NL Wild Card spot.  With Shawn’s tough Panthers up against the Hitchhikers, that can only help. 

Cole Hamels (MG grade 16) has picked the right time to start pitching well for us.  Going into our home series against the Panthers, he was 8-15.  He then won his next two starts including a shutout.  For my money, Tanner Roark (go Illini!) has been the most reliable pitcher with a 14-7 record and a 2.83 ERA.  However Mike Fiers (8-1, 2.83 ERA) who was somewhat limited, had an eight game winning streak which helped get this team back on track.  We won’t be seeing much of Mike the rest of regular season though.  He has been pretty used up.  His Ruse factor is down to 1%. 

Adrian Beltre doesn’t have the MVP-type numbers he had in Season 1 but he pretty much leads the Locomotives in all meaningful categories including average (.277), HR (28), runs (82), rbis (85), and walks (54).  Tied with Beltre with 54 walks is Nori Aoki and that’s precisely why he batted leadoff for me.  He  is also batting .255 which is second on the team among starters.  

My last series against Charles Evans’ King Road Kings Justin Morgan’s Kingley Brownbeards is on the road so he’ll be playing the games.  My lineups and rotation has been set and my file has been sent away.  Now, all I do is wait to see what happens. 

Good luck to all BoS managers!! 

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4
January

Monster Card Monday: 1922 Reb Russell

Reb Russell

I almost saved this 1922 Reb Russell card that Beau Lofgren sent me for Weird Wednesday.  It’s pretty rare that you see two first column 3s on a card especially on a player with 250 plate appearances.  But Reb Russell’s card is so juicy, he’s showing up today. 

Last week, I highlighted Terrible Card 1966 Mel Queen.  Queen went from being a outfielder to a pitcher.  Reb Russell took the opposite route.  He came up as a pitcher in 1913 for the White Sox.  He was pretty successful winning 22 games in his rookie year and having a career 80-59 record with a 2.33 ERA.  Somewhere around 1917, Russell started playing outfield along with his hurling duties and when he came back for the Pirates after a two-year hiatus, he primarily played the outfield and never threw from the mound. 

His last two seasons were not full time but he certainly hit the ball.  In 1922, he hit .368 with 18 doubles, 8 triples and 12 homers.  He scored 51 and drove in 75 for the Bucs. 

In his last year with the Pirates, he still hit .289 with 9 homers and 58 rbis in 291 at bats. 

Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
1922 Totals 60 250 220 51 81 14 8 12 75 4 14 18 .368 .423 .668
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/4/2016.

 

I told Beau that Reb’s 1922 card would be deadly with a runner on second base.  The 1-3-3-5-6 power number combination is practically unheard of for starting players. 

Not only does Russell have three more 7s but he also has a 15-10.  That gives him a fun 51-7.  He was hit by the pitch 7 times in 1922.  That’s enough for a 61-42. 

Fun numbers:  33-3, 22-5, 51-7

As usual, SABR has an interesting bio on Russell, this one authored by Richard Smiley. 

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1
January

Ron Santo hits for cycle in New Year’s Day 1966 classic (and the Cubs win!)

cubs lineup-001Happy New Year, APBA fans! 

Perhaps inspired by Rod Caborn’s Replay Insider articles, I’ve been playing more of my 1966 replay lately.  I got in a Pirates-Reds series a couple nights ago and Bob Bailey continues to rake with a homerun and triple.  He tied Willie Mays for the league in homers (6) and overcame Richie Allen and Jim Wynn for the lead in rbis with 18. 

Of course, he still also leads in average (.437), slugging (.831) and on-base percentage (506).  While Bailey’s card is good (1-4-6-7, 15-10), I wouldn’t expect these kind of stats to continue for too much longer.   

Today, I had about as exciting game as I can remember.  I’m playing on New Year’s Day but the actual game between the last place Chicago Cubs (5-11) and the second place Houston Astros (11-8) took place on May 3, 1966. 

Bill Hands (D) is on the mound for the Cubs and Dave Giusti (CY) is throwing for the ‘Stros.  Hands is off to a bad spring with a 0-2 record and a ERA over 9.00. He gets some help from Ron Santo in the first inning with a two-run homer on a 66-1.  That’s his second of the season.  In the top the third, he follows it up by rolling a 11-4 with Glenn Beckert on second, a triple.  The Cubs are up 3-0! 

In the third though, Hands gives three hits and three walks and Houston scores five runs.  The Cubs’ pen is pretty thin so I have to be patient but Cal Koonce (CY) finally comes in to get the job done.  Hands leaves with an ERA over 10.00 now.  In the fourth, two Houston errors and a Glenn Beckert single score two runs. 

Santo lashes a single in the fifth but Chicago can’t capitalize.  With Bob Hendley (CYW) now on the mound, Houston scores a go-ahead run in the bottom of the inning and two more in the sixth on a Jim Gentile double (his batting average has finally risen above .100 for the season).  Houston leads 8-5. 

In the seventh inning, Ron Santo hits the 11-4 once again.  A double.  Santo gets the cycle!  Byron Browne does his duty and drives him home.  8-6 Astros now. 

Giusti is pulled for Claude Raymond (BXZ) but “Frenchy” has some issues with Sonny Jackson’s defense (an E-6 with Don Kessinger at the plate) as well as his own control as he throws at Adolpho Phillips (the second HBP in the game for him).  Beckert sees his chance again and belts a two-run double.  It’s now tied 8-8. 

cubs lineup-002It’s goose eggs till the 11th inning.  Ted Abernathy (CYW) has done a great job for two innings keeping the Astros’ bats silent.  Barry Latman (BY) is in for the Astros.  He gives up a walk to John Boccabella and then a double to Byron Browne.  Runners on second and third with one out.  Randy Hundley grounds out to the pitcher and no one moves.  It’s up to Don Kessinger.  He gets a 22-7 and raps a base hit to score both. 

With a two-run lead, the Cubs want this win.  They bring in newly-acquired kid, Ferguson Jenkins, a BX.  Jenkins gets the Astros out 1-2-3 for the save. 

Abernathy – Win
Jenkins– Save
Latman– Loss

Santo 4 for 6, 2B, 3B, HR, 3 rbis
Beckert 4 for 6, 2B, 3 rbis
Kessinger 3 for 6, 2 runs, 2 rbis, GWH

Player Team PA Batting AVG
Bailey, Bob Pit 81 .437
Alou, Jay SF 64 .400
Taylor, Tony Phi 53 .388
Kranepool, Ed NYM 47 .386
Harper, Tommy Cin 65 .370
McCarver, Tim StL 53 .365
Santo, Ron Chi 78 .365
Hunt, Ron NYM 55 .348
Allen, Dick Phi 55 .333
Carty, Rico Atl 60 .327
Kessinger, Don Chi 57 .327

Santo’s performance raises his batting average up to .365 for the year, tied for sixth in the league.  He still maintains the second best on-base average at .487.  Don Kessinger, a surprise in 1966, is hitting .327. 

With the loss and Pittsburgh’s taking two of three from Cincinnati, Houston now moves down to third place.  Chicago is still in last place but they now share it with stinkin’ Cardinals. 

Nice going Ronnie!  Kick up those heels!

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30
December

Terrible Card Tuesday: 1966 Mel Queen

queen

A timely Terrible Card this week.  I’ve been playing my 1966 replay a bit over the holidays.  Tonight, the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in the bottom of the ninth on three straight hits from unlikely hitters… Mel Queen, Art Shamsky and Jimmie Coker. 

Mel Queen was a bit of an anomaly.  He came up as an outfielder in 1964.  Around 1966, he started a transition to become a pitcher. By 1967, he went 14-8 with a 2.76 and his days as an outfielder were behind him.  As you can see, the Reds weren’t getting much from his bat anyway. 

Split G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG
1966 Totals 56 69 55 4 7 1 0 0 5 0 10 12 .127 .250 .145
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/29/2015.

 

With only one double, Queen was struggling to get his one zero.  Reds manager Don Heffner is doing his best to give him a chance in the lineup. 

Ugly numbers:  11-8, 55-14, 51-40

Give it up, Coach.  Mel was just lucky that Pete Mikkelsen, a BY, was pitching and I rolled a 44-9.  Put him on the mound.   

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29
December

OAPBA publishes lifetime stats and records

imageRod Caborn is simply a PR machine for the Orlando APBA Association.  Not only has he come out with another fantastic yearbook for OAPBA but now he has a compendium of historical stats for the league. 

OAPBA Lifetime Records 1988-2015

Very impressive and also interesting on how similar they are to many other leagues.  With one exception… Derek Jeter.  Every other league I’ve seen stats for has Jeter leading in career hits. Not OAPBA.  Barry Bonds eclipses Jeter by 26 hits. 

For that matter, Bonds is the dominant offensive player in OAPBA.  According to Rod:

“The only major batting category that Bonds does not lead, surprisingly, is runs batted in. Alex Rodriguez drove in 691 runs, seven more than Bonds.”

Not too surprisingly, Greg Maddux (122-92) and Roger Clemens (98-78) are the two big guys on the mound.  They are one-two in wins and innings pitched. 

Great job, Rod!

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