Monday, June 27, 2016

Leftover League: Final thoughts

I came to think of this as the league that defied an elevator pitch. There was no simple way to describe this melange of second-and-third tier Hall of Famers and Negro League cards players backed up by a selection of 1924 players with one full 1969 team tossed in, with elements of theme teams and randomized rosters.

Some things worked. Some did not. Notes for review if (or when) I try to revisit this format:

* Even a great real-life team is simply not competitive in a league of Hall of Fame misfits.

The 1969 Baltimore Orioles are representative of one of the best multi-year teams in baseball history. They were in the cellar wire-to-wire.

One problem: The O's were coded defensively to the standards of 1969. The Hall of Fame lineups were coded to the defensive standards of the late 1990s. And there's a huge difference. Even though the Orioles of the late 1960s-early 70s were perhaps the greatest fielding team ever, in the context of this league they were second rate.

Mark Belanger, for example. He's a 2 e26. I suspect he should have been a 1, but I'm sure Strat has its reasons to stick him with a 2 for that season, He is one of the great defensive shortstops in in baseball history, and in this league he was the worst glove of the regular shortstops (behind Rabbit Maranville, Dave Bancroft, Phil Rizzuto, Dick Seay and Pee Wee Reese).

* Using the closer rule with 1924 cards is ... complicated.

The four HoF teams had two Hall of Fame starters apiece with the rest of the staff made up of 1924 pitchers. Three of the four teams wound up deploying one of their better "starters" as essentially full-time relievers. (Vic Keen did make two starts for the Quakers.) The fourth team, the Flashes, was paired with one of the few 1924 teams that had a semblance of a bullpen.

Upshot: I generally went deeper with starters for those teams than I did with the two non-HoF squads. Which is realistic.

* The HoF lineups were set in stone, and the only in-game substitutions allowed for the them were of pitchers and for injury. As noted above, circumstances limited pitching changes for those teams. That made managing them a bit dull.

The Black Caps were easily the most fun for me to manage because I could shuffle the lineup and pull pitchers aggressively. I probably overmanaged them as a result.

* The Quakers won the title by six games, a pretty solid margin for a 60-game season. They also had the most first-tier HoFers (in my estimation) and the league's best defensive middle infield; they had power; and they got more offense from the bottom of their lineup than I could have expected. Perhaps because of the quality of the middle infield, Red Faber and Ted Lyons were arguably the two most effective HoF starters (with Fergie Jenkins in the mix as well). They also had the league's shakiest bullpen and the single worst defensive regular (Hank Greenberg in left field); those weren't sufficient handicap.

* It was very much a hitters league. Only one ERA qualifier, Sam Streeter of the Black Caps, had an ERA under 3.00, and he barely made it. A majority of the HoF regulars had batting averages above .300. The Orioles pitchers in particular struggled.

On to the next league ... stay tuned.

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