Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Paul bracket

(1) 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers (104-58) vs. (16) 1024 Boston Braves (53-100): The Dodgers spent most of the season looking like a historically great team, but they hit a skid in September and wound up losing the World Series in seven games. Still, 104 wins is enough to make them the No.2 overall seed, and they should have no trouble with the lowly Braves. The left-handed heavy Dodgers are a particularly tough matchup for Boston right fielder Casey Stengel, a noted platoon player. The Braves also have Johnny Cooney, who is as close to a successful two-way player (pitcher and position player) as was seen in the majors in the 20th century.

(8) 2017 Tampa Bay Rays (80-82) vs. (9) 1924 Philadelphia Athletics (71-81): The Rays are one of three 2017 AL teams with 80-82 records. Some power, good defense, reasonable pitching, but overall problems scoring runs. The A's are notable to this Minnesotan for Joe "Unser Choe" Hauser, who spent much of his career putting up truly heroic home run numbers for the Minneapolis Millers in the 1930s.

(5) 1961 Baltimore Orioles (95-67) vs. (12) San Diego Padres (71-91): The Orioles were turning the corner. Brooks Robinson hit .287 with 38 doubles and, of course, brilliant defense, and Jim Gentile hit 46 homers with 141 RBIs. The Padres might be the biggest overseed in the tournament; their run differential suggests they should have more than 100 losses and be a No. 16 seed.

(4) 2017 Minnesota Twins (85-77) vs. (13) 1924 Chicago White Sox (66-87): The Twins making the playoffs (barely) induced me to play this tournament. The White Sox boast five Hall of Fame players: Ray Schalk, Eddie Collins, Harry Hooper, Red Faber and Ted Lyons, but finished last anyway.

(3) 2017 Boston Red Sox (93-69) vs. (14) 2017 Cincinnati Reds (68-94): Boston's lineup was surprisingly unproductive by their standards. Cincinnati's Joey Votto was great, as usual, but the pitching was a disaster.

(6) 1924 Detroit Tigers (86-68) vs. (11) 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates (75-87): The Tigers boast a rare Hall of Fame outfield: Heinie Manush in left, Ty Cobb in center, Harry Heilmann in right. The Pirates had a disappoint season, but Andrew McCutcheon had a good bounce-back season.

(7) 1961 St. Louis Cardinals (80-74) vs. (10) 2017 Miami Marlins (77-85): Miami has an outstanding outfield (Marcel Ozuna, Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton) and other good lineup pieces. The Cardinals have an aging Stan Musial plus Bob Gibson, Ken Boyer and Curt Flood.

(2) 1924 New York Giants (93-60) vs. (15) 2017 Philadelphia Phillies (66-96): The Giants, who lost a classic World Series in seven games, have seven Hall of Famers, no more than two of them truly deserving. The Phillies had a strong September to avoid 100 losses; had they hit triple digits, I would have had all three Philly teams as 16 seeds.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The John bracket

(1) 1961 New York Yankees (109-53) vs. (16) 1961 Philadelphia Phillies (47-107): The conventional wisdom in my early days as a fan held that the '61 Yankees were the one team that challenges the '27 Yankees as the best team ever. I thnk we know better now. But best team ever is rarified air, and 109 wins is an impressive total. The '61 Phils might be better remember for ineptitude had they not been followed in short order by the 1962 Mets.

(8) 2017 St Louis Cardinals (83-79) vs. (9) 1924 St. Louis Browns (74-78):  The Cardinals are the lowest seed of any .500 or better club in the tournament. No real strength, no real weakness. The Browns have an impressive lineup, with Hall of Famer George Sisler perhaps the second weakest hitter, but the pitching, despite Urban Shocker, was a problem.

(5) 1924 Pittsburgh Pirates (90-63) vs. (12) 1961 Los Angeles Angels (70-91): The Pirates were one year away from winning the World Series. The Angels were a first-year expansion team, and surprisingly competitive.

(4) 2017 Colorado Rockies (87-75) vs. (13) 1924 Cleveland Indians (67-86): Tris Speaker in center for Cleveland, Charlie Blackmon for Colorado. Speaker was, of course, the greater player, but Blackmon is probably better for this season. (Speaker was 36.)

(3) 2017 Chicago Cubs (92-70) vs. (14) 2017 Chicago White Sox (67-95): The Sox are the only 14 seed the Cubs could face, as the other 14 seeds were teh '61 Cubs team and two other 2017 NL clubs (Reds and Mets).

(6) 1961 Milwaukee Braves (83-71) vs. (11) 1961 Boston Red Sox (76-86): The Braves have Henry Aaron in center field, plus Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn, two other all-time greats. The Red Sox have nobody with even 20 homers.

(7) 2017 Milwaukee Brewers (86-76) vs. (10) 2017 Seattle Mariners (78-84): The Brew Crew has three 30-homer guys and plenty of pop behind that. Seattle's Nelson Cruz hit more homers than any of 'em.

(2) 1961 Cincinnati Reds (93-61) vs. (15) 2017 Detroit Tigers (64-98): I'm loking forward to playing with the 1961 Reds because of Jim Brosnan's book about that season, Pennant Race. There's really not much to look forward to the the '17 Tigers.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Seeds and brackets

As in the 40 Years Tourney, I am designating the four "regions" with the first names of the Beatles: John, Paul, George and Ringo.

These are the seedings:

1: 1961 Yankees, 2017 Dodgers, 2017 Astros, 2017 Indians
2: 1961 Tigers, 1924 Senators, 1924 Giants, 1961 Reds
3: 2017 Nationals, 1924 Robins, 2017 Cubs, 2017 Red Sox
4: 2017 Yankees, 2017 Diamondbacks, 2017 Rockies, 2017 Twins
5: 1924 Pirates, 1961 Orioles, 1961 Dodgers, 1924 Yankees
6: 1924 Reds, 1924 Tigers, 1961 Giants, 1961 Braves
7: 1924 Cubs, 2017 Brewers, 1961 White Sox, 1961 Cardinals
8: 2017 Cardinals, 2017 Angels, 2017 Royals, 2017 Rays
9: 1924 Browns, 1961 Indians, 1961 Pirates, 1924 Athletics
10: 2017 Marlins, 2017 Mariners, 2017 Rangers, 2017 Blue Jays
11: 1961 Red Sox, 2017 Pirates, 2017 Orioles, 2017 Athletics
12: 2017 Braves, 1961 Twins, 1961 Angels, 2017 Padres
13: 1924 Indians, 1924 Red Sox, 1924 White Sox, 1924 Cardinals
14: 1961 Cubs, 2007 White Sox, 2007 Reds, 2007 Mets
15: 2017 Phillies, 2017 Giants, 2017 Tigers, 1924 Phillies
16: 1961 Athletics, 1961 Senators, 1924 Braves, 1961 Phillies

The brackets were set up with the following restrictions:

  • No first-round matchups between teams from the same league-season (i.e, the 1961 Orioles and 1961 Twins can't meet in the first round)
  • The different iterations of franchises must be in different brackets.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Setting up "Tournament Two" rules

My next Strat project will be another 64-team NCAA-style tournment of best-of-seven series involving the teams from 1924, 1961 and 2017. I did this in 2014-15 with the 40 Years Tourney, and I'm going to run another one.

Active rosters: In the last one, I used 24-man active rosters. This time, 25. (Caveat: I haven't looked hard enough at the 1924 teams to be sure they all have 25 cards.)

Schedule: All series are best of seven. They will use the standard TV-era format: 2 games at Team A, an off day, three games (as needed) at Team B, an off day, two games (as needed) at Team A. There will be one off day to follow. For purposes of calculating pitcher rest, assume that all seven games were needed. For example, if a team sweeps a series, it has five off days (Game 5, off day, Game 6 Game 7, off day.)

In bracket play, the higher seeded team gets home field. In the first round of the John, Paul and George brackets, the team with the most wins gets home field.

Once to the round of four, home field first goes to the higher seed.  If two evenly seeded teams meet, home field goes to the one with the most wins in their given season, If that is even, home field goes to the team with the better winning percentage in the tournament. If that is even, draw lots.

In the round of four, the winner of the John bracket will face the winner of the Ringo bracket. The winner of the Paul bracket will play the winner of the George bracket.
Pitching use rules: Pitchers with an asterisk on the roster may pitch on three days rest, but will be penalized one inning on their weakness factor on short rest. Those pitchers from 162-game seasons with 40 starts and/or 300 innings are exempt from that penalty; pitchers from 154-game seasons are exempt with 38 starts and/or 285 innings.

In practice, five pitchers are exempt: Burleigh Grimes and Dazzy Vance of the 1924 Robins, Howard Ehmke of the 1924 Red Sox, Walter Johnson of the 1924 Senators and Don Cardwell of the 1961 Cubs.

In the round of four, the penalties are lifted for 35 starts/250 innings. There are no penalties for short rest in the championship series, although existing penalities will be enforced.

The "Pascual Perez rule" will be enforced: No pitcher with less than 100 innings pitched may start more than once in a series.

Injuries: Will be enforced. A five-day disabled list will be available. Once on the DL, a player cannot come off in that series.

Losers League: Final thoughts

Man, that was a long project. I started the Losers League -- eight 1969 teams with 90+ losses in a 154-game schedule -- in June 2016, and wrapped it up in March 2018.

I figured it would take about 18 months, and it was a bit more than that, but I deliberately slowed the pace this winter to avoid being done before the cards arrived for my next Strat project, and then wound up shutting down for two weeks when I came down with the flu bug and another week for a spring training excursion.

I expect to try a similar league in the future, specifically eight teams from the 1973 National League (a set I do not have at the moment). Three things to get on the record to be aware of for that:

1) The "emergency players pool" I invented at midseason was an idea I wish I'd devised at the beginning. Details are in the linked post. I used the catchers with some frequency, and an infielder once or twice. I didn't have to resort to the outfielders or pitchers.

2) Forgoing the stats was a wise choice. Yes, I would like to have the specific numbers on Sam McDowell's dominant season. But it took about 21 months to play this out, and it might have taken twice as long if I was updating stats.

3) The use of the 1924 AL schedule didn't work as well as I had hoped. There were obvious translation issues, which can only be attributed to me. My tentative notion for the future 1973 NL leagug is to use the 1924 NL schedule; whatever I actually do with that, the schedule needs to be checked before play begins.

As for the Losers League itself: The champion White Sox had one obvious strength, at least relative to the league as a whole: They were easily the best fielding club. Somehow the weak second-line pitchers (Gary Bell, Jack Hamilton, Don Secrist, Jerry Nyman, Sammy Ellis all had real-life ERA above 5) didn't cost them many games. And they were a pretty fun team to play with.

As noted, no stats, but my choice for MVP would be Sam McDowell. I doubt Cleveland lost a game he started after April. It sure wasn't many.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Game of Tuesday, Sept. 30

Chicago             89      65      .578     ---
Seattle               87      67       .565      2
Kansas City       81      73      .526      7.5
Cleveland          79      73      .520      8.5
California          75      76      .497    12
Montreal           68      86       .442    20.5
San Diego         68      86       .442    20.5
Philadelphia      65      86       .430    21.5

End of season

Chicago 11, Montreal 1: The champion White Sox put an exclaimation point on their title with a thumping of the Expos. Pete Ward hit a three-run homer in the first inning off loser Jerry Robertson, Carlos May had three doubles and a single, and Ed Herrmann homered in the eighth. The Sox faced four Montreal pitchers and scored at least one run off each. Tommy John went 7.2 innings for the win.

Player of the Day: Carlos May, Chicago

Games of Monday, Sept. 29

Chicago             88      65      .575     ---
Seattle               87      67       .565      1.5
Kansas City       81      73      .526      7
Cleveland          79      73      .520      8
California          75      76      .497    11.5
Montreal           68      84       .447    19.5
San Diego         68      86       .442    20
Philadelphia      65      86       .430    21

Tuesday's game
Montreal (Robertson) at Chicago (John)

Kansas City 3, Montreal 2: Roger Nelson allowed four hits and one run in eight innings for the Royals. Mike Fiore homered in the first for Kansas City off loser Howie Reed; Rusty Staub homered in the ninth off Moe Drabowsky to make the score close.

Chicago 4, Seattle 2: The White Sox clinched the pennant with a three-run eighth inning that started with a leadoff pinch-hit double by Ron Hansen and included three walks. Wilbur Wood picked up the win despite allowing a homer to Jerry McNertney. George Brunet took the loss. Mike Marshall, a surprise starter for Seattle, allowed one unearned run in six innings. Ken Berry gunned down Wayne Comer at the plate in the fourth inning.

Player of the Day: Ron Hansen, Chicago