Finals League comments

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Finals League comments

PostWed Aug 24, 2022 3:33 pm

Draft Recap and preseason notes and predictions

It turns out that having the first pick in the 90s draft was not a good thing. I drafted McGwire #1 overall and figured I’d draft all righty sluggers and play in the Skydome. But none of that worked out. The 2nd pick was a surprise – Greg Maddux who is obviously a great pitcher but I think is a shade worse than Pedro, but gritch seems to have worked out all the statistics, so there’s probably a good reason for it. If there were a way to trade down maybe we both would have traded out of the top picks. I had planned to pick a SS at the end of Round 2, but all the premium SS were gone – Arod, Nomar, and then Jeter and Larkin picked by jaywalker and gritch immediately before my turn. Round 1 was very pitcher-heavy - in order – Maddux, the Big Unit, Pedro, and Clemens. Then, with the 2nd pick of Round 2, sphilipp paired Clemens with Kevin Brown and later in the round Studmeister paired Mussina with his earlier pick of Pedro. Jaywalker picked the only 3rd baseman worthy of a high pick, Chipper Jones, with the 3rd overall pick. I’m glad I’m not in jaywalker’s division because if Chipper is 98 or his 99 MVP year he can carry a team to a division title almost single-handedly. The first two rounds also saw all the best sluggers taken – Griffey, Bonds, Piazza, Manny Ramirez, Belle, Giles, Thome, Sosa and Frank Thomas.

Notes about the live draft format: 2 minutes per pick seemed perfect and the 26 round draft finished in about 2 hours. I drafted the first half of my team in the cab on the way back from the airport; so, I can say the live draft feature works fine by phone. It would be nice to have a feature where draft picks could be traded. Divisions were randomly formed after completion of the draft. It would have been better to have seeded divisions so we could draft our teams to match our division rivals.

At the end of Round 2 I had my pick of either Alomar or Sandberg and went with the more consistent Alomar. At the start of Round 3, the only premium player left on my draft board was Ricky Henderson so I went with him and my plan to draft a bunch sluggers was out the window. Ed1447 either had a plan to draft lefty sluggers or developed one during the draft because after drafting Bonds and Thome in the first 2 rounds he followed up with Whitaker, Baines, and Edmunds in rounds 3, 4, and 5. Some of the early value players by round were Mike Kingery (round 5), Rey Ordonez (5), Matt Mieske (6), Chili Davis (6), Turner Ward (grrr, 6), John Vanderwaal (7), Lee Guetterman (7), Phil Plantier (7). In the Finals draft you just can’t expect your favorite value players to last and I saw almost all my favorites disappear before I had a chance to draft them. Gritch drafted 7 of my favorite value players which shows that either we take a similar approach to player selection or he is spying on my draft board.

Last year, JimmyJames did a podcast reviewing the Finals live draft, but since none of the Round Table made this year’s Finals, I’ll make a super short take. Hallerose has to be viewed as the preseason favorite with power hitters at every position and, as always, a hitter’s park (Riverfront). After the draft it looked like he might break tradition with a decent fielding OF, but Edgar Martinez was available in free agency and the temptation was too great, so Albert Belle will start the season in left where he will consider chasing the ball. Here is a quote from Belle that I think summarizes his personality "The Indians wanted me to issue a statement of regret when the fine was announced, but I told them to take it out. I apologize for nothing." Hallerose made the finals based on a coin flip for 12th place which just adds to my sense of foreboding. The Central division looks very tough with both hallerose and sphilipp. I’m in the West division with jmdziuban, the always-dangerous daveaq and Takanahana. I’ve been in many theme leagues with sphilipp and Takanahana with mixed results. As the old saying goes, sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.

Brothers Ed1447 and Takanahana are in different divisions with Ed drafting a lefty-hitting team in Shea and his brother drafting a mostly righty-hitting team in Qualcomm. In the East, we have Ed’s bunch of lefties in a lefty-ballpark, so the team could do very well. Then Piloneus made Coors Field the first ballpark taken but only has two great sluggers – Griffey who is consistently great and Sosa who has two really, really great seasons and 3 mediocre ones; so a 40% chance of a big hitting team. Jaywalker also took a gamble with Chipper Jones and Giambi – if they’re on their best years it seems like it could be a walkover to the East title; but we saw last year with JimmyC’s gamble on Mantle and Maris what can happen if the gamble doesn’t pay off (a terrible start). Then the division favorite, gritch, with Maddux, Larkin and a collection of value players most of whom will be cut before Game 40. I predict a hallerose v gritch World Series with the home team prevailing in Game 7. Anyway, the Finals starts tonight and I am looking forward to a fun season in the year’s most competitive Mystery league. The link to the finals is here:


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Re: Finals League comments

PostFri Aug 26, 2022 5:32 pm

Excellent recap, Franky - I certainly agree with this "Divisions were randomly formed after completion of the draft. It would have been better to have seeded divisions so we could draft our teams to match our division rivals." I would have gone for more lefties on the staff if I had been watching Ed do what he was doing knowing he'd be in my division. I may be buried in that division. :shock:


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Re: Finals League comments

PostWed Dec 14, 2022 10:19 pm

Finals Recap
The 2022 Finals league was a hard-fought, competitive, and close league. Playing the 90s, there was a deep free agent pool and the owners took advantage of it. During the season, there were 467 transactions; that’s an average of 38.9 per team and the teams that made the World Series had 38 and 39 transactions. So, by the end of the year, lineups were full of players on their best year.

Good Teams That Underperformed
Takahana’s Mandelas – this was the team in my division that I feared most. Drafted Piazza, Brian Giles, Bernie Williams, Canseco. 31 pitching transactions resulted in one of the best starting pitching staffs. The team also came away with great players a huge trade – discussed below. Hard to say why this team was never really competitive, finishing 76-86.
Sphilipp’s Walkin the Dog – Strange to say that a team that made the playoffs underperformed, but that’s the fact. Let’s start with #1 draft pick. Roger Clemens was on his ’98 card, a real-life season in which he went 20-6 with a 2.65 ERA. Through the first half of the finals league, Clemens was 8-11 with a 4.79 ERA (pre-trade). Then let’s look at Jose Rijo. He played poorly for the Posse and the Pies, so I figured he must be on his bad year. Not sphilipp, he recognized a good year (turned out to be ’93 real-life 2.48 ERA, 1.09 WHIP). That kind of insight ought to be rewarded, but it wasn’t as Rijo put up a 5.91 ERA, 1.42 WHIP in the remainder of the regular season and a tough-luck complete game loss in the playoffs. Speaking of playoffs, ’96 Piazza, facing mostly lefty pitching, managed only two singles and two walks in 19 plate appearances in the playoffs, another epic underperformance.

The Big Trade – Dog and Mandelas
At about midseason, Walking the Dog traded Clemens plus Javy Lopez (best year) and Tim Salmon (best year) for Piazza (best year) and Canseco (best year) plus several mediocre players that were cut by Dog. I think the trade favored the Mandelas but the fact is that, at the time of the trade, Dog was below .500 and trailing in the division by about 7 games and after the trade Dog started winning consistently, finished 86-76 and won the division by 5 games. Meanwhile, Clemens pitched brilliantly for the Mandelas going 13-2 with a 2.64 ERA and 1.11 WHIP en route to the Cy Young. Lopez and Salmon also played great. So, a huge trade that was a win-win for the involved teams. nice.

Bash It Over the Fence
Three teams tried the formula of loading up on power hitters in hitter-friendly ballparks. Hallerose’s Halles Heroes, Richard Gagnon’s Backyard Kids and piloneus’ Bronco Chasers finished 1, 2, 3 in homers and 1, 3, 4 in runs scored. The problem is that they also finished 10, 11, and 12 in runs allowed. Heroes and Kids finished even-steven 81-81 while the Broncos kept fighting but finished 67-95. The Kids put together a great righty team to play in the SkyDome and really put together a bunch of great pitchers on a shoestring budget; in 99% of leagues the Kids would be a team headed to the playoffs but in this league’s competition it was not enough. As usual, hallerose could not resist trading hitting for fielding, and, in a preseason move, cut Rusty Greer to pick up Edgar Martinez, leaving Albert Belle to “play” left. Belle ended up recording 21 outs in 53 X-chances (ouch), but it worked out to be a good deal as Belle led the league in homers (66), Martinez had a .907 OPS, and the Heroes finished first in runs scored. The Heroes also had really outstanding value pitching across the board. Again, in any ordinary league, this would be a playoff team. Maybe it was a poor Cal Ripken year (bad luck) or poor fielding in the outfield that, once again, left hallerose overdue on a Mystery Tournament championship.

Two teams took the opposite strategy of taking pitcher ballparks. Studmeister’s City Syndrome played in the Astrodome and lead the league in bunting but otherwise didn’t really play small-ball with only 35 steals. City Syndrome’s pitching staff was outstanding led by Pedro and John Smoltz and featured ‘92 Jeff Russell as the closer who should have been outstanding but didn’t play that way with 10 blown saves vs just 21 saves. As an aside, my 10th grade gym class split into two to play dodge ball and the opposing team was joined by 12th grader Jeff Russell – it was scary as shit and I let myself get hit by a regular person and got out of there. jaywalker’s Posse played in Kauffman Stadium and didn’t bunt much and didn’t steal much either. jaywalker found a couple gems in the discard pile - Jay Buhner and IRod on their best years. The Posse also featured a good year by Giambi. But bad years from top draft picks Chipper Jones and Derek Jeter along with lackluster pitching was too much to overcome as the team struggled to a 69-93 finish.

I Hate My Division
The “I Hate My Division” award goes to jmdziuban and his Homemade Pies. The Pies had an awesome 55-35 record outside the division. But only 24-48 against division rivals. Obviously, this more than accounts for missing the playoffs. A massive 62 in-season transactions left the Pies with a roster value of just 61.6 mil. The leading hitter was Robin Ventura with 37 HR and 115 RBI along with his stellar fielding. I’ll give you 100 guesses to name the player that finished 2nd in slg% at .507 along with a .294 BA. ….. It was … Sid Bream?!#? When Sid Bream is your second-best slugger, you are probably not looking at the playoffs.

Question: Is cutting good players to pick up bad players at the end of the season a good post-season strategy?
Answer: No.
Ed’s Mysterios tried this strategy. For most of the regular season, the Mysterios were leading the league and finished 90-72. The team was based in lefty-biased Shea stadium, drafted well, and performed very well right from the start led by league MVP Barry Bonds coupled with excellent nearly all-lefty pitching. For most of the season, Ed made almost no free agent moves while maintaining the league’s best record. Then, after Game 138, Ed cut 3 starters – Rusty Greer, Tom Browning, and Jim Deshaies. Rusty Greer had started the season on the City Syndrome and got cut after an injury reveal of the ’98 year (4th best OPS). Greer’s ’98 card has good obp, good clutch and low dp, along with good fielding, decent running and a max of 3 game injury. When Ed picked up Greer, I remember thinking it was a smart move and a great fit for his team. Turns out Browning was on his best year but slightly underperforming. To replace these starters, the Mysterios picked up Mike Kingery, Sid Fernandez, and Mark Portugal. All of these pickups were retreads from other teams having been cut much earlier in the season. Kingery lasted 3 games before being replaced by Tony Tarasco. Sid Fernandez is not a SP*. So, the net result of these moves were that the Mysterios would need to start either Baines or Tarasco in right and Portugal would be needed to start. Baines is an injury-prone (4-rated) 4(+2)e12 right fielder and Tarasco can’t hit. In the playoffs, Tarasco hit 2 singles in 11 AB while Portugal started Game 6 giving up 4 earned runs in 4.1 innings in a critical 4-3 loss. So, a really strange end-of-the-season strategy for an otherwise great team.

Gritch had the league’s best record 94-68 and, by the odds, should have won the championship. This was despite sleeping through half the season – Dave Stewart had two injury reveals for a bad year and wasn’t cut til late in the season. Value players everywhere. IMO, the team could have been better at 2nd – finishing with Billy Ripken as the everyday 2nd baseman. gritch said that was my fault for drafting Alomar, but there were plenty of better 2nd base options early in the season. The one superstar was Barry Larkin (51 HR, 119 RBI). Outstanding pitching performances by Stieb (19-7) and David West (14-4).

The Terminator
daveaq’s Wayne Athletic Club, with one exception, was an average team by finals standards. In fact, the team finished with a minus five run differential. However, the team finished 89-73, tied for first in the West. How did the Club have such a good record? Tom Henke had one of the all-time great seasons. In 44 appearances, he went 3-1, with 34 saves vs only 1 blown save, 1.23 ERA, 0.65 WHIP. Best relief season I’ve ever seen. Other than Henke, the Athletic Club hit lefties really well (I avoided pitching any lefties against them) and had they reached the playoffs, would have had an excellent chance of winning it all.

A Weird Team
My team, NoVA brunch, had a lucky but weird season. Finishing with a +239 run differential but a 14-31 record in one-run games. Gritch suggested that next time I play the 90s I should have a reliever with a closer rating – which seems like solid advice. Around Game 100, my team was leading the league in runs scored while being last in homers! Featuring Rickey Henderson (MVP year), Brett Butler, Omar Vizquel, and Roberto Alomar, the team led the league in steals (163) while having by far the lowest ratio of CS/SB.

End of the Regular Season
Going into the last night (games 160-162), I was disappointed my team was not going to the playoffs. The East division had clinched the Wild Card and my team was 3 games back of Wayne Athletic Club and we were playing different teams. I didn’t hide the results and just clicked onto the Front Office. Here is the league message I sent a few minutes later: “For me, that was the most stunning result of a game in my life. Tonight was the only time all season that I did not "watch" the results of my team's games because I was coming to terms with missing the playoffs. When I first checked in to the results and it said semi-finals, it didn't register. I was like, what? Definitely a good feeling. On the other side, I felt sorry for daveaq. There are a lot of ways to win this game and he put together a winning formula - when Club 7 had a lead late, it was game over.” The odds of sweeping 3 while your opponent gets swept in separate series is 1/64. My team made the playoffs on the last day by winning a 1/64 event.

The First Round of Playoffs
In the first round, Gritch swept sphilipp’s Dog. As I mentioned, Dog had some epic underperformances with Canseco and Piazza batting .167 and .118, respectively. In the series between Mysterios and brunch, the Mysterios got out to a 3 games to 2 lead with the help of winning 2 one-run games (naturally). But in Game 6 the Mysterios were forced to start ’95 Mark Portugal who gave up 4 runs in a 4-3 loss and Rob Deer closed out Game 7 with two more homers (Deer hit 6 in the series).

World Series
For the second year in a row, it was gritch v franky in the World Series of the Mystery Tournament finals. My team had 8 righty pitchers to 2 lefties, but even so, I tried to minimize involvement of the lefties because I feared Chris Hoiles who killed lefties. For most of the series, gritch benched 5.37 mil Hoiles in favor of 0.75 mil Joe Girardi who fielded a little better and hit righties about as well. It also made Hoiles available to pinch hit. Going in, I felt my team had a pretty significant edge over Gritch because Gritch had three lefty starters and I had lucked into a devastating lineup against lefties: Henderson (on his card a 52% obp, 18% double or HR), Todd Pratt (20% HR), Rob Deer (21% HR), and Scott Brosius (52% obp, 25% double or HR), and the rest of the lineup decent. Brunch had to cope with six injuries during the World Series: Brosius, Butler, Will Clark, Roberto Alomar, Sharperson, and Leyritz). After Brunch defeated Rob Person in Game 5, Gritch came back in Game 6 with a home run in the 7th by pinch hitter Warren Newson, and a game-winning homer in the 8th by another of Gritch’s value players - Reggie Jefferson - in the 8th. Game 7 looked to be a great pitching match-up between Dave Stieb and Chris Bosio (both on their best years) but Gritch having a big edge since Alomar, Clark and Sharperson were all out for Brunch and then Leyritz was knocked out with a hbp injury in the first. Even so, entering the bottom of the 9th, Brunch was ahead 7-4 and Gritch made 2 quick outs. Series was just one out away from ending. But Bosio was starting to tire when Warren Newson (pinch hitting for Billy Ripken) got on by an error by substitute 2nd basemen Kevin Seitzer, then a walk to Lofton. Lefty specialist Paul Abbott came in and walked van der Waal to load the bases. Righty specialist Steve Reed came in and walked Larkin to score a run. Power-hitting Reggie Jefferson stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Lefty Eddie Guardado was brought on and Gritch countered with lefty-killer pinch hitter Chris Hoiles. Strike out. phew.

Radagast Brown

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Re: Finals League comments

PostSun Dec 18, 2022 4:54 pm

I love the analysis, Frankie! Good stuff.


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Re: Finals League comments

PostSun Dec 25, 2022 6:35 pm

I also add that my Posse had worst card seasons from other top five picks Craig Biggio and Tony Gwynn (joining Chipper and Jeter), which shifted me out of a high base hit run and score team to whatever I could get. Might have kept Gwynn anyway but thought that Buhner was in his best card. Franky stealing 100 bases on me in a series provoked me to go get IRod as I thought he was on his best card as well and solidified my lineup by moving Harper to DH. I had to get lucky in pitching fishing, which didn’t happen.

Learned a ton playing with the best, proud of continuing to fight until the end, sweeping Gritch and the Broncos down the stretch to lift me out of the cellar.

Who knows if ‘23 will see me reach even those heights, but I will be ready to play, swear, throw up my hands in disgust, raise my hand when homering, and fight until the bitter end!

Great summary Franky! Love love love reading your breakdowns.

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