Saturday, November 18, 2017

Season 36 Recap - Pitching Record Book

To be in a "pitching era," we didn't see a lot of impact on pitching records last season.  While scoring was up slightly from Season 35, Seasons 34-36 remain the lowest-scoring 3-season span in Hobbs history.

In such a low-scoring environment, I would've expected a bunch of new entries into the Top 5's in the qualitative categories.  But the only one was Vic Merced's .184 BA Against, good for a tie for 3rd all-time.

We did have a couple of noteworthy counting-stat performances.

With a pretty decent age 40 (and final) season, Louis Wilson took over the career #1 spot in both innings pitched (4255) and strikeouts (3412).  Hall of Fame credentials?

And, although I'm quick to add that wins don't mean much the way Sam Stock is used (except maybe that he plays on a good team), he did up the single-season wins mark to 42.  A better indicator of his effectiveness is the fairly sizable leads he has as the career leader in all the qualitative stats. And he did pick up Cy Young #5 (in 7 seasons played), so he's actually on pace to match Itou's "major award" mark and maybe even break it given the longer careers of pitchers.  Unlikely, though, given that I'm not likely to stick around through the end of Stock's career, and it's not likely other owners would use Stock the way I have.

Season 36 Recap Part 2 - Itou's Hitting Records Assault

Jin-Chi Itou's remarkable age-34 season (.330/50/122) continued his crazy-re-writing of the record books and solidified his still-building legacy as the best hitter in Hobbs history (and possibly the best hitter any of us has ever seen in HBD).  Among the milestones set or added to last season:

***  Won his 11th MVP (in 16 seasons played).  This one has to be totally unassailable.  You have to be incredibly good AND incredibly lucky to win more than 3 MVP's...I think Itou has won it every year he should have won it plus a couple that were at least challengeable (Hasegawa's Season 32, 35 and 36 come to mind).

Nor will any pitchers approach 11 Cy Youngs.  Jair Gonzalez was the most dominant pitcher imaginable over his career, and he only got to 8 CY's.

And I don't think Sam Stock will maintain his current pace of CY's (5 in 7 seasons played).

***  Finished  last season with 816 career home runs, passing up Jimmie Segui (808) on the all-time list.  Segui slammed his 800+ over 21 seasons (more hitter-friendly seasons at that), while Itou has done it in 16 and is still cranking.  Special credit to Segui:  he played his entire career in the immensely hitter-difficult San Diego.

***  At an age when most (even good hitters) are seeing their career qualitative stats drop, Itou actually increased his career-leading numbers in ISO, OPS and Slugging %.

At 1811 runs scored, he's at 5th all-time, and 1st is just a matter of a couple more full seasons (Segui leads at 1949).  The RBI record is a little tougher - Segui has a 230-RBI lead on Itou starting this year (2406 to 2176), but is there any doubt Itou has a couple more 100-RBI seasons left, plus 2-3 more of 50-80?

Season 36 Recap, Part 1 - Playoffs and Breakthrough teams

Recent Hobbs playoff history has been dominated by 4 "mini-dynasties" that won back-to-back championships: the NL Scranton Express (today's New York Lincoln Giants) in Seasons 27-28, Season 29 and 30's Las Vegas Desperados (today's DesperaDOS), the Huntington Fire Blitz (now the D.C. Senators) of Season 32-33, and the New Orleans/Mexico City AL franchise of Seasons 34-35.

Only the Diablos Rojos made it back to the Series for a try at the hat trick, but their dreams were convincingly dashed in 6 by the resurgent young New Orleans Steam squad.

Hats off to boconner22 on his first World Series win!  What's really remarkable about the building of the Steam is it only took 1 year of rebuilding (after boconner's 1st 3 500-ish seasons) to produce a contender.

Other teams moved into the "up-and-coming" ranks with big improvements in Season 36:

Montreal improved by 31 wins to 95
Pittsburgh improved by 23 wins to 95
Trenton improved by 21 wins to 94
Honolulu improved by 19 wins to 98
Wichita improved by 12 wins to 82

Looks like a lot of new teams gunning for playoff spots this year!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Who's The Best Pitcher Of All-TIme In Hobbs? (vote)

My comment in the World Chat about Jin-Chi Itou (obviously the best hitter in Hobbs history) got me wondering about who the best pitcher has been.

I've always considered Hobbs a "hitter's world"...not that there haven't been great pitchers.  But it has always felt to me like Hobbs didn't have the lights-out SP's that other worlds I've played in had.

So I tried to come up with a very quick-and-dirty way to nominate a few candidates.  Here's what I did:  I looked at On-Base % Allowed and Slugging % Allowed for qualitative stuff, and Quality Starts and Saves for counting stats.  I picked Quality Starts over wins, figuring it's a little better at pointing out SP's who are both very good and long-careered.  I don't think much of saves as an indicator of anything, but didn't have a better way of making sure some top short relievers would hit my candidates list.

For those 4 stats, I looked at the career leaders lists and assigned 5 points to the top guy, 4 for second, etc.  Then I added the points for each pitcher and came up with the following candidates (in order of point totals):

Sam Stock
The Case For: dominant leader of the qualitative categories; 4 Cy Youngs and counting at age 27
The Case Against: Has still only pitcher 1200+ innings

Phil Chang
The Case For: #2 in saves lifetime with better qualitatives than saves leader Candelaria (only Chang, Stock and Carey are in the top 5 in both OPS Against and Slugging Against)
The Case Against: only 1255 career innings

Ernest Carey
The Case For: #3 All-Time in both OPS Against and Slugging Against
The Case Against: the ultimate anonymous middle reliever

Jair Gonzalez
The Case For: All-Time Quality Starts leader, so he's got the longevity cred covered (his 4152 IP is #2 All-Time)
The Case Against: Doesn't have quite the qualitative numbers as the better RP's, but SP's rarely do.  You can also argue that part of his career covered a more hitter-friendly era (could apply to Chang, Candelaria, Wilson and Fernandez as well).  And at .618 OPS-Against, it's still damn good.

Pedro Candelaria
The Case For: All-Time Saves leader with 632, as well as a sterling Career OPS-Against of .610.
The Case Against: Barely topped 1000 career IP

Louis Wilson
The Case For: #2 in Quality Starts
The Case Against: A career OPS-Against (.668) that's very good but lackluster in this list

Orlando Fernandez 
The Case For: Combined incredible qualitatives (#2 in Slugging % Against with huge IP totals for a RP: 2641 - and he probably only had 1 season where he was pushed to max innings pitched).  His Season 22 could be the greatest single season for a pitcher in Hobbs history: 34-3 in 189.2 IP, with a crazy OPS-Against of .485 (I think the only sub-.500 season for a P with over 162 IP).
The Case Against: Hard to find one.  Excelled as a closer, as an anonymous MR who didn't roll up counting stats, and that 1 season in the Sam Stock "early reliever" role.

Aurelio Duran
The Case For: Makes this list solely due to being #2 on the Career OBP-Against list.  Not that he's a 1-trick pony, he just looks like it against this competition.
The Case Against: Joins Carey in the anon MR netherworld

I'm going to put all 8 on the ballot, but it looks to me like a choice between Fernandez, Gonzalez and Stock.  I'm voting for Fernandez - let's compare him to Stock again in another 12 seasons or so.

Sunday, April 2, 2017


Not too shabby a start for fearless prognosticators

The fearless prognosticators of Roy Hobbs have nailed 7 of the 8 first-place teams at the midseason point, and 20 of the 32 spots overall for a .625 percentage.

The prognosticators for the NL North, AL East and AL South divisions are perfect in their predictions at the midway mark.
In the NL North, Buffalo holds a 5-game edge over Chicago in what is shaping up to be a two-team race. Iowa City is 10 games back of Chicago, and Toledo is four games behind the Hawkeyes.

In the AL East, as predicted, Indianapolis and Washington are at the top of the standings and Durham and Chicago are neck and neck at the midway point in a heated battle to avoid the doormat.
In the AL South, New Orleans is running away from the rest of the pack, holding a commanding 14-game advantage over second place Nashville. The battle in that division will be for second place as the Legends hold a slim 2-game edge over Louisville.

The division that has given forecasters the most headaches is the NL South, where predictions have missed on all four of the spots. Charlotte was picked to lead the division, but Austin has established a 2-game lead at the midpoint. And Texas looks poised to spoil the third-place predicted finish for San Juan with the Choades settling into a comfortable 7-game lead over the last-place Padres.
All of the other misses have involved the second- and third-place teams in the AL North, AL West, NL East and NL West.

In the AL North, Kansas City’s 3-year hold on second place is in jeopardy at the half-way mark as the lucky Shamrocks of Montreal have lifted the team to a surprising 4-game edge over the Jayhawks.
In the AL West, Vancouver has spent much of the first half of the season hitting less than the team’s average weight and the dismal .244 offensive production has left the Ravens two games back of Cheyenne, which has nicbase2 saying, “I’m your huckleberry!”

In the NL East, Columbus is wrecking the hopes of a second-place finish for Trenton as the Ohioans have put seven games between themselves and the Thrashers. Equally important, the Columbus squad sits just two games behind predicted frontrunner Syracuse, which could be predictive of a second-half scramble for the Lake Monsters to defend their division title.
All in all, our prognosticators have inched a bit closer to the tree trunk as they sit precariously out on their limbs. The only one hearing the faint sound of cracking wood is the NL South forecaster.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Mid-Season Look At the Awards Races

Believe it or not, we're at the halfway point already.  Who are this season's first-half award-winners?  You can read over my choices below, and vote in the "First-Half Award Winners" poll on the right.

NL MVP - the candidates:

Yean Carlos Gonzalez (AUS) is a triple crown-winner at Game 80, with a stunning .353/32/77.  He also leads by a wide margin in runs created and RC/27.

Rick Black (SYR) is right behind Gonzalez in average and RBI (.350/23/74).  With 121 hits through Game 80, he has a shot at the all-time single-season hits record (235, set by HOF'er Sidney Fabregas back in Season 8).

John Small (AUS) is having another excellent all-round season at .333/19/42, with a .423 OBP (2nd to Gonzalez).

Juan Aramboles (IA) just keeps rolling.  In the first half of his age-34 year, all he's done is hit .346/24/62, and is 2nd in the NL in OPS.

Bob Tucker (TEX) edges out Carlos Valdivia, Saul Pinzon, Omir Stowers, and Armando Encarnacion for the 5th spot on the ballot.  His .329/21/58 first half is a nice bounce-back from last season.

And the first half NL MVP is:  Gonzalez by a mile

NL Cy Young - the candidates:

Willie Tepera (AUS) leads the NL in BA allowed, OPS allowed, WHIP and ERA, and is 2nd in Slugging% allowed; and has 8 wins in his 16 starts.  Dominant breakout season.

Rabbit Fried (BUF) leads the league with 12 wins and is 2nd in ERA at 2.23.  He's in the top 2-7 in the other qualitative stats - very impressive for a pitcher who leads the league in innings pitched.

Johnny Gardner (CHA) is 3rd in ERA and ranks very well in the other qualitatives.  In fact, he's first in Slugging % allowed at .300.

Kirk Marks (CH1) has only 1 loss to 9 wins, and has a 2.75 ERA while pitching the 2nd-most innings of all NLers.

Diory Diaz (SAL) secures the 5th spot with his excellent qualitatives record - 4th in OBP-A, 3rd in Slugging %-A, 3rd in WHIP, 4th in ERA.

And the first half NL CY is: Tepera narrowly over Fried

AL MVP - the candidates

Jin-Chi Itou (LV) still leads the AL in HR's (23) and is 2nd in OPS (.983) in a down year.  Pretty far down the list in RC (7th) but 4th in RC/27.

Kelvim Hasegawa (WAS) leads the AL in RBI (68) and stolen bases (30, in 30 attempts), while running 2nd in runs created.  Big defensive contribution with a .973 fielding % and 4 + plays, even though he appears to not have a 3B arm.

David Simmons (NAS) might not have the durability to make the final ballot, but his league-leading .340 BA, along with 19 HR's and 54 RBI, gets him a spot on our first-half ballot.  #2 in RC/27.

Dante Kawasaki (NO) leads the AL in hits and runs created, and is 4th in OPS and 3rd in RC/27.  Biggest defensive contributor on the ballot, with a .989 fielding % and 2 + plays at 2B.

Trenidad Durazo (IND) edges out a host of other contenders - Nick Green, Jenry Zumaya, Jamie Osborne, Darren Walton, Dayan Franco - who have comparable offensive numbers but not the defensive chops.  His .290/19/59 is good for 7th in OPS (.918), 5th in RC and 8th in RC/27.  And with 10 + plays he's in the running for 3B Gold Glove. 

And the first half AL MVP is:  I think I could be a homer and go with Kawasaki, but I'll vote for Hasegawa.  Looking like a tight, interesting race, though.

AL CY - the candidates

Sam Stock (NO) leads the AL in OBP-A (.252) and WHIP (0.97) despite having a relatively poor year.  Only 2 losses in 17 decisions despite a career-high (so far) .342 Slugging%-A.

George Camili (IND) leads in innings pitched (142) and has very good qualitatives (1st in BA-A, 2nd in OBP-A, 3rd in Slugging % - A, 2nd in'd think his ERA would be better than 3.04).

Bralin Kohn (PHI) sports an impressive 1.78 ERA (1st) and also leads the league in Slugging % -A (.290).  A touch of wildness (38 walks in 91 innings) hurts a bit, and he may not get enough wins to make the end-of-year ballot, but he's been dominant so far.

Joe Johnson (IND) has 7 wins, a 2.44 ERA (3rd) and is top-5 in the other quality stats.  Could end up being 1 of 3 (or even 4) Indy arms on the final Cy Young ticket.

Julio Cano (IND) has 7 wins and a 2.74 ERA as a 22-yo. Solid in the other quality stats.  This spot could have just a easily gone to Indy's 4th standout, Wily Osoria.

And the first half AL Cy Young is:  Camili.  Neither Stock nor Kohn is clearly out-pitching him, and he's rolling up a mountain of innings pitched.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Season 34 NL North Preview

Chicago Orphans

Season 33: 86-76

Season 33 In A Nutshell
Drop of 6 wins but still a solid 86-win season.  Nosed out by 1 game for the last Wild Card.  Topped the NL in runs scored (884) but the pitching flopped to a 4.61 ERA (13th in NL).
Big Offseason Moves
Some minor free agent losses, the most notable being OF Brad O'Connor (who looks like he'll be retiring but went out on a high note with an .820 OPS).  Poured some real money into defense with the John Shigetoshi free-agent deal, and made 1 free-agent swing at the pitching problem with Dustin McGee.

Season 34 Outlook
The offense has slumped a bit but at least the pitching has improved marginally to start Season 34.  On-basers deluxe Shigetoshi and Yoslan Goya (moved to RF wth Herm Stein's shift to CF) are setting the table; Stein (.351/11/31 through 30 games - how's that for an aging non power-hitter?) and C Ismael Vidal are driving them in.  Even with some poor starts (Bobby Michaels - .205) I think this offense will be fine and eventually move into the top 3.

2nd-year SP Kirk Marks is throwing aspirins.  He's started 3-0, 1.57 - less than half of last year's ERA.  Kazuhiro Lee has also started well, with an ERA almost a full run lower than last year's mark.  Only #5 starter Darwin Thornburg (6.61 ERA) and (surprisingly) Kurt Esposito are big anchors on the team ERA at this point.  Curious note: big FA acquisition Dustin McGee has only thrown 5 innings so far - perhaps he had a minor injury.

Even though they're 8 and-a-half back of red-hot Buffalo, I like where the Orphans stand.  I think their offense will warm up some more, and the pitching should improve as McGee works into the rotation.

Prognosis:  Likely 2nd (but don't count out Iowa City) and in the thick of the wild-card battle with #2 from the South and #'s 2 and 3 from the West.

Toledo EliteDucks
Season 33:  68-94

Season 33 In A Nutshell

Season 2 of the rebuild.  Hats off to jdrake for sticking it out through a total teardown/rebuild.

Big Offseason Moves
Savvy older free-agent signings for low-budget 1 and 2-year contracts were the order of the offseason for the Ducks. They also brought up prospects Darrell Lee (P), Jalal Carver (RP), and Tex McKnight (OF).

Season 34 Outlook
Not likely to be a big wins year, but vets like Gary Person (who's off to a great start at .303/7/19), Ivan Amezaga, and Matty Campos should keep them reasonably competitive.  3B Ross Geene is the first of the youngsters they'll build their next contender around; they really need him to return to the .240-.260 and 30-40 HR's of his first 2 seasons, rather than last year's .199/22 and this year's .197 so far.  He'll eventually be joined by last year's #14 overall, Stan Story, 3 more #1's from Season 33, and 5 #1's from Season 32.

Prognosis: 4th, but some real momentum building in the farm system.  They have the #8 and #29 in this year's draft, plus 2 more supplemental #1's.

Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalobuffalo
Season 33: 96-66, Won Division, advanced to the World Series and lost to Huntington (now Washington D.C.)

Season 33 In A Nutshell
Oh so close for the buffalo last year as they swept through the NL bracket but lost a game 7 to Huntington (Now Washington D.C.).

Big Offseason Moves
Still a very young team, they needed only minor tinkering this offseason.  Signed FA Sammy Morales, re-signed Dan Dixon, and promoted Season 31 IFA Pascual Castillo.

Season 34 Outlook
Pretty nice start for Buffalo - after 31 games they lead all of Hobbs with 25 wins and lead the NL in both runs scored and team ERA. They build their offense around 3 switch-hitting, power-hitting IF/CF types - CF Charlie Moreno, 3b Esmailyn Reynoso, and 2B Jair Costilla - plus MVP-waiting-to-happen LF Carlos Valdivia.   Actually, any of these 4 are capable of winning an MVP.  Scary news for the rest of the NL - only 1 of these guys (Moreno) is off to a good start.

So far so good for Pascual Castillo after 2 starts - 1 run allowed in 14 innings.  The rest of the starters - Rabbit Fried, Robinzon Megias, Sam Gentry and Jaret, Paquette - aren't scary but they're effective: all are sporting sub- 4.00 ERA's early in the season.  Dixon and Glenn Coste are the stars of a solid bullpen. 

Prognosis:  I can't see anything slowing down this train; I think they'll win the North by 20+ and will be the favorite to represent the NL in the Series again.

Iowa City Hawkeyes
Season 33: 71-91

Season 33 In A Nutshell
Rebuilding a normal team is hard enough.  But the disaster wrought by jbugg has seen 7 long years of rebuilding. Season 33 gave us a few glimpses of a much brighter near future.

Big Offseason Moves
Traded for B.C. Alfonzo, Oswaldo Seguignol, Yovani Guzman, and Benny Marquez.  Signed RF John Harper, SP Lou Donald, P Nate Lary,  C Calvin Uribe, RP Roger Cook, SP Slick MacFarlane, SP Vladimir Abreu, and RP Rick Roberts - all to low-$ deals.

Season 34 Outlook
The trades for Alfonzo, Seguignol and Guzman signal the coming-of-age of this franchise after 7 years in the wilderness. They haven't started terribly well (13-17), but I think they'll improve as the cold-starting Alfonzo heats up. On the last rebuilding move, they seem to be finding no takers for a .372 hitter.  Yep, Juan Aramboles is hitting .372 with 9 taters after 30 games.

The pitching is a respectable 7th in the NL with a 4.19 ERA. Fritz Wells has been terrific so far - 3-2, 2.56 ERA - although I wouldn't bet the farm on that holding up all year.  Donald (1-0, 3.32) has been effective in a long/mid relief role, and #1 starter Dan Keller is below his career ERA, even though he doesn't have a decision yet in 31 IP.  Abreu and MacFarlane are killing them so far...I don't know what to make of this staff, but If they keep that 4.19 ERA all year I think the fans will be pretty happy.

Prognosis:  3rd, with an outside shot at knocking off Chicago for 2nd.

Division Prediction
3.Iowa City