Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Case for the Minimum Win Requirement

Recently some long term owners have violated our league's established Minimum Win Requirement (MWR) which has sparked some discussions about why we would allow dedicated owners to leave Plumpy.  Rather than take up an incredible number of World Chat posts, I decided to write a blog post about the history of our league's Minimum Win Requirement and why I consider it a vital piece to the health of our league.

Some history...

In Season 24, there was no Minimum Win Requirement.  Teams were allowed to lose or win as much as they wanted.  The then Memphis Problems were poised to win their 3rd of 4 championships over a 6 season span, a period of dominance where the rest of the league constantly felt like they were fighting for second place.  Simultaneously, the then Syracuse Magma were in the midst of an historically bad season, one in which the Magma won only 43 games.

Then along came Julio Rijo on the International market.  When his career is all said and done, it is entirely possible that Julio Rijo will go down as the greatest pitcher in Plumpy history.  In Season 24 when he appeared, 15 owners had budgeted at least $20 million in prospect payroll.  Everyone who saw him wanted Rijo, but the problem was, one team had filled his ML squad with sub-AAAA scrubs for the league minimum and was paying less than $18 million dollars in player salaries.

Julio Rijo signed with the Syracuse Magma for a record $42 million in prospect money, a record that holds to this day.  When taking budget transfers into account, Zyrion spent a total of $64 million dollars to get Rijo.  On his signing day, the World Chat lit up with protests about how unfair it was that the Magma were doing everything in their power to lose, and were rewarded with arguably the greatest pitcher in league history.  The precedent that was being set was scary: if you wanted to get the best IFA, you had to systematically destroy your team for a 3-6 seasons in order to do so.

Now this is not meant to in any way demonize Zyrion.  He broke no league rules that we had in place at the time.  He is an incredibly savvy and dedicated owner, who was far from the only guy tanking at the time.  He just did it the most effectively.  He also got the #1 draft pick the next season which turned into Cy Young award winner Frank Leonard.  Once he started competing again, his low player payroll allowed him to continue to splurge on IFAs, as he signed superstuds Lariel Cubillan, Pedro Martin, and Pablo Macias over the next several seasons, helping to create the Magma that we know and fear today.  (Editor's note: Zyrion has also made some brilliant trades and ballsy free agent signings that have turned his franchise into an empire.  As I said, the guy is a savvy.)

The aforementioned Memphis Problems had utilized a similar albeit less blatant tanking strategy when creating its powerhouse.  With no MWR, the Problems accrued 7 consecutive seasons worth of top 10 picks, while simultaneously leading the league in IFA spending.  This created an absolute juggernaut of a franchise that won 4 World Series in 6 seasons, boasting the league's best record year after year.

Between Memphis's dominance and Syracuse's IFA spending, the overwhelming consensus in Season 24 was that something needed to be done in order to bring parity and competitive balance back to the league.  Several ideas were proposed at the time, and a league vote was held to determine which MWR would best fit our league.  The consensus was that all owners had to win 55 games in one season, 120 games over two seasons, 185 games over three seasons, and 260 games over four seasons.  This allowed owners room to undergo a rebuilding project, while also protecting the league from teams intentionally having a bottom 10 record for 4 years or more, and from filling out their ML roster with AAAA quality players.  The hope was that as time went on, parity would return to the league and the game would become more fun again.

And it's worked.

It's taken a long time, but the league is more competitive and balanced now than it's been in a long time.  7 teams are poised to make the play-offs this season that did not last season.  That's incredible.  In the three years before the MWR was put into place, we lost 7, 6, and 10 owners each season at the rollover.  Over the past 5 seasons with the MWR firmly in place, we've lost 3, 2, 3, 1 and 5 owners each season.  There are many factors that I believe keep owners interested in returning to the league, but knowing you have a shot to turn your team around and make it a play-off contender without losing 100 games for multiple seasons in a row is massively important.

Ultimately, we're all here because we love baseball and we love fantasy sports.  This is fun and for many of us, it's one of the main hobbies of our day to day lives.  It really sucks having to lose people who want to be here, but we have to draw the line somewhere.  The 55-120-185-260 MWR is the fairest way we've been able to come up with.  Bad luck happens, and that's why we have a vote.

I am firmly in favor of allowing owners who violate the MWR and are removed from the league to return at the helm of another franchise, and I am open to discussing that idea further on the World Chat.

Thank you all for being a part of this league.  It is a pleasure being commissioner of Plumpy.  Good luck to everyone in the post-season.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Know Your Plumpy History: mattwithanh

Today's interview is with one of the longest tenured and most successful owners in Plumpy history, 3 time World Series Champion and owner of the Oakland Hammers, mattwithanh!  Be sure to read the entire interview, especially his answer to question 10.  It may become an official part of the league charter:

1.) What do you do in real life?
I work in the legal department for a large bank and brokerage firm. 

2.) How did you learn about HBD?
When I was in law school, I read Twins blogger Aaron Gleeman who had an HBD league and was looking for members. I applied and was invited to play in Gleeman World I and fell in love with the game. It makes regular fantasy sports seem so superficial. Gleeman World was a really tough world to learn how to play in, but it made me better a whole lot quicker. 

3.) Who is your all time favorite ballplayer in Plumpy?
Well, Einar Pena would have to my best player ever and might be the best Plumpy pitcher ever. But probably my favorite player would have to be Ken James. He was a DITR who got most of his hitting ratings bumped up to all 90s, the fascinating thing was he had 20 durability and 20 health. He could only get 200-300 PAs but hit would OPS 900+

4.) What is your proudest moment in Plumpy?
Winning my first HBD World Series in season 11. Playoffs are such a crapshoot it’s a real thrill when you make it all the way through and get the trophy graphic on your dashboard the whole next season. 

5.) Which player is your proudest draft pick?
I am sure I am in the minority, but the draft is one of my least favorite parts of HBD. It’s a lot of work to get any real value past the 2nd round and I usually pick pretty late. But my season 9 draft is probably my best ever, I think I got 7 guys who ended up contributing at the ML level. Specifically though, I think someone was impressed that I got Juan Aquino at #33 in season 13. 

6.) What is the most devastating injury one of your players incurred?
I honestly have no idea. It was probably to a draft pick who then never made it and thus I never gave any real thought to. 

7.) What is the most overrated rating on a player card? (if you feel this gives away part of your competitive advantage, feel free to ignore it)
I think pitcher splits are pretty overrated. They are just so reliant on the other ratings. Anyone who has a had a pitcher with high 70s-80s splits but doesn’t have an out pitch rating will consistently be disappointed by their performance.

8.) What is the most underrated rating on a player card? (same caveat as above)
The high baserunning/speed combo can add a ton of value to a fringe player and can make a good player a great one. For pitchers, its durability. The difference between a guy who can throw 170 innings of 3.50 ERA and one who can throw 230 innings of 4.00 is really stark and underappreciated because likely it’s going to be a much worse pitcher throwing those 60 innings.

9.) Do you have a nemesis in the league (either another owner or a particular player?)
I sure haven’t won many AL West titles since tlally came along, but he just left. I would say there are lot of guys I respect: Tjack, Jerico, Dawei, bcpcbpccpc, goodtymes, grecianfox

10.) As one of our most seasoned owners, how do you think Plumpy could improve going forward?
Be excellent to one another. This is a for-pay, fake player fantasy league with a high barrier of entry. It boggles my mind that we can find 31 other guys who want to do this much less those who will pay for it and participate consistently. Cherish the fact we found each other and can pretend to run baseball teams together.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Know Your Plumpy History: Plumpy!!!!!!!111

Many years ago, a league was born.  That league would go on to become perhaps the most active, enthusiastic, and fun league in the world of HBD.  A league destined for such greatness needed an equally great name:  Plumpyrules!!!!!!!!111 was born.  As we embark on Season 33, Plumpy himself has rejoined this fine world.  Today, we sit down with the namesake of the league, and get to know the man behind the pixels.

1.)  What do you do in real life?

I am a Postal Clerk for the United States Post Office. Basically I sell stamps, help the elderly, talk sports to the guys and ogle the women all day. (and now with my cell I'll be able to follow our league all day!)

2.)  How did you learn about HBD?

Waaay back in 2002 I saw an ad for HBD. I started a team and then Hoops Dynasty was just starting. I played alot of HD but I still love HBD!

3.)  How does it feel to have the best league in HBD named after you?

I am honored!! Really! Through out the years I'd goto your blog and see what's up. And to see how quickly this season filled is a testament to this leagues greatness!

4.)  What was your reaction when you found out the league would be named after you?

Honored and proud. As a matter of fact...some of my friends, who have never played WIS, read your blog. lol

5.)  Is there a back story to the “!!!!!!!111” part of the league name?

Well I was stressing a point to a coach who did not believe me. To make my point even more pronounced I added many exclamation points and accidentally threw some ones in the end. It caught on. lol

6.)  Which player on your team are you most excited about owning?

Arthur Hogan...LF...22...AA...I love the name and I am interested how he will do.

7.) & 8.) (will be answered at a later date).

9.)  Do you have a nemesis in the league (either another owner or a particular player?)

None yet but I'm pretty competitive so I'm sure one will pop up. I'm not afraid to speak up in the forums or chat. So it should be fun.

10.)  What are your goals for the Portland Porks in your first season back in the league?

To win atleast 60 games! lol Also to have fun and possibly make new friends!!!!!!!!111

Monday, October 6, 2014

AL Playoff Tie-Breakers

With 4 games to play, the AL Playoffs are in a huge log-jam: two Division Titles are still up for grabs, as is the second Wild Card spot.

I figured the straightforward playoff scenarios are pretty easy to eye-ball -- the most wins is in -- so I thought I'd take a shot at outlining any (all?) potential tie-breakers, since it seems quite possible we will have some.

I'm just going from the top of the Standings page to the bottom, so don't get all bent out of shape because the Ottawa Eh's are first, ok?!

Clinched Division:

AL East: New York Knights (current record: 78-80)
AL West: Omaha Settlers (97-61)

Clinched Playoff Spot:

Nashville Merchants (95-63)
Little Rock n Roll (94-64)

Nashville has already clinched the season series, so Little Rock needs to finish with a better record to claim the AL South title.

Still Alive:

Ottawa Eh's
Burlington Bulldogs
Columbus Dodger Blue
Oakland Hammers
San Juan Elephant Seals
Helena Hellas


Assuming the paired teams' records end up the same, tie-breakers are as follows (for a quick tie-breaker summary, scroll to the bottom of this post):

Ottawa Eh's vs Burlington Bulldogs:
  • Ottawa wins season series 6-4

Ottawa Eh's vs Columbus Dodger Blue:
  • Teams conclude season against each other -- Ottawa currently leads season series 4-3. For teams to tie, Columbus must win final series 2-1:
  • Series tied 5-5;
  • Division record would be tied in any scenario: 17-13 or 16-14;
  • Ottawa has a +86 run differential, Columbus has a +12 run differential -- Ottawa will win the tie-breaker unless Columbus' run differential is 74 or more than Ottawa's over the final 4 games

Ottawa Eh's vs Oakland Hammers:
  • Oakland wins season series 7-3

Ottawa Eh's vs San Juan Elephant Seals:
  • Ottawa wins season series 6-4

Ottawa Eh's vs Helena Hellas:
  • Series tied 5-5;
  • Ottawa wins Division record, either 16-14 to 14-16 OR 15-15 to 13-17

Burlington Bulldogs vs Columbus Dodger Blue:
  • Burlington either wins season series 6-4, OR tied 5-5;
  • Division record would be tied in any scenario, 17-13, 16-14, or 15-15;
  • Burlington has a +18 run differential, Columbus has a +12 -- Burlington will win the tie-breaker unless Columbus' run differential is 6 or more than Burlington's over the final 4 games
  • Final tie-breaker is last season's record, which Columbus would win

Burlington Bulldogs vs Oakland Hammers:
  • Series tied 5-5;
  • Oakland wins Division record in any scenario: 19-11 to 18-12, 18-12 to 17-13, 17-13 to 16-14, or 16-14 to 15-13

Burlington Bulldogs vs San Juan Elephant Seals:
  • San Juan wins, 6-4

Burlington Bulldogs vs Helena Hellas:
  • Series tied 5-5;
  • Burlington wins Division record in any scenario: 16-14 to 14-16, 15-15 to 13-17, or 14-16 to 12-18

Columbus Dodger Blue vs Oakland Hammers:
  • Series tied 5-5;
  • Oakland wins Division record in any scenario: 19-11 to 18-12, 18-12 to 17-13, 17-13 to 16-14, or 16-14 to 15-15

Columbus Dodger Blue vs San Juan Elephant Seals:
  • Series tied 5-5;
  • San Juan wins Division record in any scenario: 19-11 to 17-13, 18-12 to 16-14, 17-13 to 15-15, or 16-14 to 14-16

Columbus Dodger Blue vs Helena Hellas:
  • Helena wins season series 7-3

Oakland Hammers vs San Juan Elephant Seals:
  • Series tied 5-5;
  • San Juan wins Division record in any scenario: 19-11 to 18-12, 18-12 to 17-13, or 17-13 to 16-14

Oakland Hammers vs Helena Hellas:
  • If Oakland wins at least one game against Helena, Oakland wins the season series;
  • If Helena sweeps Oakland, series would be tied at 5-5;
  • Oakland wins Division record in any scenario: 17-13 to 14-6 or 16-14 to 13-17
San Juan Elephant Seals vs Helena Hellas:
  • Series tied 5-5;
  • San Juan wins Division record in any scenario: 18-12 to 14-16, 17-13 to 13-17, 16-14 to 12-18, or 15-15 to 11-19

Summary Table:

    Sunday, August 3, 2014

    10 Things to Watch Going Into Season 32

    With Season 32 just days away from beginning, here are ten things to watch going into Opening Day:

    1.)  Can the Magma actually get better? 

    5 seasons ago, the Syracuse Magma (now residing in Minnesota) won an impressive 111 games, dominating the NL North, winning the National League Pennant before losing the World Series to the Chicago Fatties.  Despite the Championship defeat, it seemed clear that the next great Plumpy dynasty was upon us.  Fast forward to Season 32, and the Magma are coming off of an astonishing 120 win season, that was ended abruptly in an astonishing second round play-off defeat.  Now two full seasons removed from it’s last NLCS appearance, the Season 29 champs have to be wondering if this once assumed “dynasty” is turning into an incredible team that was bitten by bad post-season luck too many times.  With the past 5 NL Cy Young and past 4 NL MVP award winners on the roster, the Magma aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Anything short of a World Championship in Season 32 will be a disappointment.

    2.)  Will Boise land a stud with the first overall pick despite 0-0 scouting?

    Never before in league history has there been an owner with the top pick so dedicated to winning now, and so disinterested in the draft.  Bob’s Basturds have a long history of playing to win now, regardless of the future, which has been taken to new heights this season.  Boise has elected to totally punt all amateur scouting, despite having the top pick in the draft, in order to free up more money to sign free agents.  With 0-0 scouting, will the Basturds even see a star-caliber player, and if they do somehow manage to draft one, will they even want him?

    3.)  Can Nashville repeat it’s outstanding season?

    In Season 26, jquick1 took over one of the most badly damaged franchises in league history, with the previous owner having saddled the Merchants with multiple, multi-year, multi-million dollar contract for minor league players.  With only a handful of future ML prospects in the farm system, the Merchant of Nashville set upon a lengthy rebuilding process.  After 4 fourth places finishes in 5 seasons, Nashville broke through the glass ceiling of the ultra-competitive AL south, winning the division by an astonishing 16 games, and clinching the top seed in the American League.  Despite a disappointing second round play-off exit, the Merchants have more top prospects ready to contribute at the ML level this season, and are ready to take the next step towards being perennial contenders.

    4.)  Will Little Rock and San Juan bounce back?

    Speaking of the AL South, most pundits had the ‘N Roll and Elephant Seals finishing 1-2 in some order in the division heading into last season.  Free agency hit both teams hard though, as San Juan didn’t land an impact pitcher, and Little Rock lost Roger Conroy.  Those losses, combined with some shocking under-performances by key players (Fernando Manto and Einar Rivera, we’re looking in your direction) kept both teams from making the play-offs.  For San Juan, it was their first missed post-season opportunity in 14 seasons.  While Little Rock appears ready to improve from within, San Juan has been a major player in free agency, signing four veteran SPs, including last season’s World Series clinching Game 6 winner, Nicholas Sampson.  At some point the rebuild will have to happen in San Juan, but today... today is not that day!

    5.)  Which teams are most likely to end their post-season droughts?

    The Syracuse Wiffleballers franchise won three of the first ten World Series... and haven’t been back to the play-offs since.  With new management in its second season, and uber prospect Myron Byrnes ready for ML action, it’s only a matter of time before the Wiffleballers are in the Dance.

    In Season 13, the Helena Hellas franchise won the World Series... and haven’t been back to the play-offs since.  In fact, the Hellas haven’t finished higher than third in the ultra-competitive AL West since that World Series title.  That said, foodew has done a fantastic job retooling this franchise with top prospects, none more valuable than Enos Leonard who is just entering his prime.  With an 87 win season under their belts, the Hellas may be more poised than any other team to end its post-season drought.

    The Washington D.C. Snipers franchise has been waiting 10 seasons for a play-off team.  With the trade of Ace Shelley Olson, it appears the team is re-tooling for the future.  With co-Ace Patrick Graham still very young and in his prime, and several top prospects in the farm system, this team should be ready for the post-season in the near future, just not this season.

    6.)  Can anyone dethrone Pedro Martin from the top of the NL MVP ballot?

    Probably not, but we can hope, can’t we?

    7.)  Who will be competitive in the NL West?

    Vancouver has definitely been on the rise lately, but Arizona has perhaps the best pitching prospect in the game in: 
    who will be ready for action by at least Season 33, San Francisco is dedicated to getting the team back to it’s winning ways, and Boise has already been a major player in free agency.  The smart money is on Vancouver winning the division for the second season in a row, but any of the four teams could be contenders before the season is through.

    8.)  Will a team reach .500 in the AL East?

    Probably not, but we can hope, can’t we?

    9.)  Which division will total more wins:  the NL East or the AL South?

    More importantly, will either division ever total 400 wins in a season?  With Washington in re-tool mode, the AL South is the front runner for most total wins amongst the super divisions, but Louisville, Scranton and Durham will all have something to say about that.

    10.)  Can Scranton and Oakland go back to the World Series?

    It’s been seven seasons since a World Series winner has gone back to back, and Oakland is in the aforementioned murderous AL South.  That said, both teams have reloaded this off-season and will have legitimate shots at going back to the promised land.

    Friday, August 1, 2014

    A Franchise Reborn.

    A franchise reborn.

    On a surprisingly cold July day in Scranton, Pennsylvania 31 of Plumpy Rules!!!!!!111 32 owners held a secret meeting to discuss the future of the 32nd franchise the Minnesota Land Killer Whales. The purpose of this meeting? To discuss whether or not the league would fold the team, or force out long time Owner/GM Indiansrck27. An inside source says that a few of the owners felt it was a waste of a trip to Scranton because, "The strip clubs here in Scranton are a poor excuse for entertainment", and also because "without question Irck27 and the Killer Whales were just in bad shape for a few seasons, and had not intentionally violated any rules of the league." But mostly because the "adult entertainment" was sub par. Almost unanimously the 31 owners voted to keep Minnesota in the league and avoid the potentially lengthy search for new ownership and to wait out the time it takes to search for a new owner, secure the money for a new team, the stadium plans, and the uniform design and so on.

    At the same exact time the league owners were holding their secret meeting, something was afoot in Minnesota. Owner/GM Indiansrck27 was silently preparing to pull a "Modell" and relocate the franchise in the middle of the summer to a new location, IF he retained his team. He was quoted a saying "The only thing im guilty of is trading Tiny Garcia for scraps to try make the MWR that season, and being a bad GM, I just cant see these guys removing me." So he waited for the results of the secret meeting which wasn't so secret because, everyone knew about it.

    Tiny Garcia
    Age: 25B/T: R/R
    Born: Toms River, NJ
    Position(s): P (SP5)
    View Hardball Dynasty Profile

    Finally League Commissioner Zeustis and the league decided that The Minnesota Killer Whales would stay. That is when Irck27 decided that the Minnesota Killer Land Whales would not stay, and announced the team would be moving to Seattle.

    Shock. Anger. Sadness. Minneapolis erupted into riots. The aftermath of the decision has gone down as one of the most devastating events in Minnesota history, right next to the 1940 Armistice Day blizzard. And then, it was the best thing to happen. Indiansrck27, his 78 tractor trailers, 6 passenger buses, and 1 U-Haul were on their way to Seattle while the Magma and Owner/GM Zyrion were moving in to Target Field. Just as quickly as they started the riots turned into celebrations, and then turned back into looting and riots as arguably the best team in Plumpy Rules!!!!!!111 just replaced arguably the worst.

    Now in Seattle and a new lease on a stadium, and life the Seattle Killer Whales have made quite a splash this offseason. "Its my job to be competitive and I just cant live with what the team has become, we are going to be making some major changes to this team." Major changes indeed were made. To start the offseason off Seattle made a huge splash by trading Season 28 3rd pick Bryant Wirth , season 31 5th pick Ramiro Vargas and season 31 10th round DITR Posiedon Harvey for SP Freddie Daly and CF Felix Pickford. Irck27 has this to say about the trade "It was definitely a tough trade to make moving to of my top draft picks from the recent seasons, both guys are going to be great MLers. BUt they are not there yet, and I couldn't wait around any longer for the Owners to boot me from the league, so I decided to be aggressive and go for more ML ready stars. Thats what we get in Daly and Pickford."

    Felix Pickford
    Killer Whales
    Age: 24B/T: L/L
    Born: Victoria, VA
    Position(s): CF
    View Hardball Dynasty Profile

    The next splashes made by Seattle is a flurry of free agent signings including: C Louie Knotts who is tasked with filling the shoes of Killer Whale legend and future HOFer Damaso Delgado who has returned for an 18th season ML season in his quest for 600HRs. Knotts will be the starter, but Irck27 said that Damaso will get every opportunity to hit his last 6 HRs. Delgado was quoted saying "Im old man, and this will be my last season, but I wanted to get these last 6 HR for myself and I want to go out on a winning record, so thats what we are going to do." Next 2 FA signings come in the form of two great SU men Hector Volquez and Will Perry who will help improve the bullpen for sure. Some other things to consider include the addition of Ramiro Baez into this seasons starting lineup playing the DH role. A former 12m dollar IFA who became a Rule V pick by Seattle just 3 seasons ago and has stuck. He has some high expectations on his shoulders from bench coach Nick Benoit. and hitting coach Matt Fuller.

    Hector Volquez
    Killer Whales
    Age: 36B/T: R/R
    Born: San Luis Potosi, MX
    Position(s): P (SuA)
    View Hardball Dynasty Profile

    When asked he was done with his offseason Indiansrck27 said "Not a chance. We are still looking for a 2B. Ernie Parrott has done a great job for us at 2B, but we are looking for a top of the order bat with speed and GG defense. Ernie will still be a part of the team, just as a regular PH. We also could use another arm for the bullpen."

    Minnesota/Seattle hasn't made the playoffs since season 23, and hasn't had a winning season since season 25. Only time will tell if these bold moves will pay off for the Killer Whales. One thing for certain is they are not playing for a top draft pick, they are operating as a team competing for the division, and they have the confidence and a new found swagger to back it up.

    Saturday, May 3, 2014

    Slaughter House 30

    The season 30 Mule Cup, the cumulative head-to-head series played between Little Rock, Indianapolis and Nashville, was such a run-away victory for Little Rock no one bothered coming up with the final win loss totals.  So, the cup stays on display in the childhood home of William Jefferson Clinton and some say it's the main attraction.

    n Roll owner, RoundFrog, was unavailable for comment.  Some say he's despondent over an(other) early post-season exit last season while others believe it's the "worst offseason in the history of offseasons" that has him slumped over at his favorite bar stool.

    The season 31 Mule Cup holds promise for a more competitive finish.  As mentioned, RoundFrog completely botched his off season while equick is quickly learning the ropes and jquick1 continues his deliberate, calculated and painstaking re-building of the Nashville squad.

    Friday, April 11, 2014

    LCS Preview

    Hello, friends (and that dick From San Juan)!

    You may recall last “year” Zeustis kindly asked me to do some kind of playoff preview for Plumpy, and I think it turned out pretty well! To quote my girlfriend, “I won’t say it’s good, but this is better than I thought you could do.” (Which, coincidentally, was the Ottawa Eh’s rallying cry all season.) It went so well, in fact, that Zeustis didn’t even have to ask me to write another one – I just knew he wanted me to.

    And really, who better to write an LCS preview than someone who was promptly given the boot in Round 1? I certainly have no shortage of free time on my hands, and was eliminated long enough ago that I have already recovered from the horrible hangover caused by the days-long bender resulting from our unceremonious loss to that pathetic excuse for a franchise known as the San Juan Elephant Seals, or should I say San Juan Ele-FAT Seals!

    Ok so let's get to the preview.

    This is, after all, about the playoffs – that elusive chance at glory, where the big dogs come to play and the little dogs get peed on by the big dogs. This is about winner take all, loser goes home, only the strong survive. Winner gets the conch and Piggy gets smashed by a boulder. Indeed, this is about the four powerhouse teams who we all knew would be here at the end; this is about Omaha, Little Rock, Scranton, and Tacoma!

    Oh wait, only Omaha is left? Crap.


    #5 New Orleans Voodoo vs. #2 Omaha Settlers


    New Orleans (96-66)

    A newbie to our hearts, but not to imaginary baseball, ptwoner brought a radical new management style to the former Memphis/Durham goliath. Indeed, New Orleans ruffled some feathers early on by trading aging-but-still-productive veterans for prospects. And mid-season predictions of doom turned out to be 100% accurate, seeing the squad from down south spectacularly fall short of 100 wins for the first time in nine seasons, finishing with an abysmal 96. The Voodoo had the second-to-last laugh, however, as the savvy veteran of 67 HBD seasons correctly predicted the future, intentionally avoiding the suspiciously-cursed #1 seed, and sneaked (snuck?) into the playoffs as a Wild Card.

    The Voodoo had a tough first round match-up with the offensive-minded New York Knights. In a high-scoring series in which only once did the winner score fewer than 6 runs, New Orleans rode veteran free agent acquisition Jeff Ausmus to a series-clinching victory in Game 5, conquering New York and banishing the Knights from the playoffs.

    Round 2 pitted New Orleans against reinvigorated division rival San Juan Little Rock in another high scoring affair. And just like how I can still beat up my little brother even though he outweighs me by 50 pounds, New Orleans sent Little Rock crying home to mama in a decisive Game 5 victory. While many were surprised at the upset, New Orleans once again proves the age-old saying, “It’s better to be lucky than good, and it’s better still to place a curse on the team you’re playing.”

    Omaha Settlers (99-63)

    Despite a second consecutive ALCS appearance, clearly the bell doth toll for the Omaha Settlers, and you doth heard it here firsteth. As I pointed out last season, check out Omaha’s win totals the last three years: 101, 100, 99. Now, I’m no statistician, but clearly by Season 48 Omaha will be at home watching the playoffs at 81-81, and by Season 129 they will achieve Plumpy’s first 0-162 season. Enjoy your success while it lasts, Omaha!

    Despite this dismal trend, Omaha coasted to yet another division title, riding studs Del Moya and Vic Pena (a combined 31-13) to the third-best team ERA in all of baseball, and best in the AL. Combine that with three All-Stars in Moya, Elston Olson, and Matty Wilfredo, and Silver Slugger 3B Pedro Moreno, and Omaha has one of the more well-rounded teams in Plumpy.

    By settling for their third consecutive first round bye, the Settlers watched as San Juan quickly dispatched Ottawa 3-1, setting up a re-match of last season’s ALCS in which the E-Seals thumped Omaha 4-2. In an exciting back-and-forth series, Omaha proved that revenge is a dish best served during the PM cycle, clubbing the Elephant Seals 4-1 and moving on to the ALCS. 

    Players to watch: Chad Pride had a throwback season this year with a 2.99 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, while Del Moya has only given up 2 ER over 13.2 play-off innings.


    #6 Richmond Renegades vs. #5 Chicago Boomers


    Richmond Renegades (88-74)

    In his second season as owner of the Richmond Renegades, and second full season of HBD overall, Hooperc2 (the 2 stands for ‘2 cool 4 school’) basically set out in search of a video game arcade with a sweaty fistful of dollars, and somehow ended up in a strip club with a sweatier fistful of dollars. Is it a stretch to say those dollars are Cla Dixon, Al Cabrera, and Russell Butler? I don’t know, because to me bad analogies are like bad analogies.

    The Renegades’ playoff hopes initially looked bleak: they had just been swept by their first round match-up 3 games earlier, and in facing red-hot Montgomery, Richmond looked like they were at a major risk of getting Montgomery burned! [Commissioner’s note: good one.] However, in an HBD twist of fate Hooperc2 will eventually grow to hate like the rest of us, his fortunes miraculously changed course, and the Renegades came back from a 1-2 series deficit to pull the upset, 3-2.

    Richmond truly hit their stride in Round 2, facing an uphill battle against the apparently-no-longer-rebuilding Scranton Boll Weevils. In a series of moves designed to show the league he wasn’t “just some newbie manager,” Hooper2cool4school rode savvy veterans Dixon and Diego Lee, creatively utilized his stellar bullpen to keep the Scranton hitters off balance, and finally started Stan Walters at catcher for the decisive Game 4. When reached for comment after the game, Zeustis responded with, “Are you ****ing serious?” and Hooperc2 said, “Oh shit, really??” Well played, gentlemen.

    Chicago Boomers (91-71)

    Here in the AL, not much is known about the Chicago Boomers, other than they are not the Tacoma Magma. But the similarities between Chicago and Richmond in this match-up are abundant: both are relatively new owners, both have built on early career successes, and both knocked off NL powerhouses to get where they are. Chicago finished second in the NL North, and while Chicago’s strength is pitching – they boast the fourth-lowest run total in the entire league (second in their own division) – they do back-up their namesake, crushing 248 homers over the course of the season, good for second in the AL (second in their own division).

    Perhaps Chicago had a deathwish, perhaps they knew something the rest of us didn’t, or perhaps they’d had enough of hearing the label “Second in their own division,” because the Boomers appeared excited at a potential second round match-up with the Tacoma Magma. Overheard screaming to his team, “WE SHALL DRINK THE BLOOD OF TACOMA!” Chicago set the tone in the first round, making the Boise ‘Turds crap their pants during a 13-7 shellacking, and went on to win in a closer-than-it-seemed series sweep.

    Facing their division rival, Chicago got two solid performances from rookie Ted “Mother” Tucker, and perhaps shed light on Tacoma’s true weakness: Julio Rijo can’t pitch every game, just most of them. In a series in which neither team won consecutive games, Chicago bookended the series with 2-0 and 2-1 wins, securing temporary bragging rights and upsetting the champ. As the Magma darkly packed up their gear, trying to avoid looking at the giddy celebrations of the Boomers dancing to “We Are the Champions” blaring over the stadium loudspeaker, veteran Turner Eldred was heard remarking, “Hey coach, don’t we got another series?”

    Players to watch: Youngster Howard Washington has 12 RBI and a .500 OBP so far in the playoffs, while the duo of Ted Tucker and Guillermo Cabrera have combined to allow a measly 6 ER over 29.2 innings.

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    Ten Things to Watch During the Last Third of Season 30

    As the season rounds the corner towards the home stretch, here are ten things Plumpy fans should be watching:

    10.) Who will emerge as the favorites from the crowded NL Wild Card pack?

    6 teams are in serious contention for the two NL Wild Card spots.  One of those 5 teams , one will win the crowded NL South, which currently finds the upstart Richmond Renegades (64-48) with a one game lead over Montgomery Burns (63-49), and a six game lead over the dangerous Charlotte Nature Boys (58-54).  While Tacoma is running away with the NL North (again), his division mates in the Chicago Boomers (62-50) and Toldeo Thunder (58-54) are both fighting for a play-off berth.  Finally, Louisville (59-53) is right in the mix of its second consecutive play-off appearance as well.

    If the season were to end today, Richmond would win the NL South, while Burns would win the 1st Wild Card spot, and the Boomers would win the second.  Louisville is three games out of the last Wild Card berth, while Toldeo and Charlotte are four games back.

    9.)  Will the Magma actually win 120 games?

    Right now, the reigning champs are on pace for 114 wins.  However, with a fully healthy SP rotation, anything is possible.

    8.)  Will the AL East champ finish at or above .500?

    It’s possible, but it will likely come down to the wire.  New York has played below its expected winning percentage all season, but currently finds itself 2 games below .500, and four games ahead of Indianapolis. 

    7.)  Will the NL West champ finish at or above .500?

    Woof, what happened to the once proud NL West?  Right now there is an ugly tie between Boise and Vancouver, both of whom sit at a whopping 12 games below .500.  Look for the rest of the NL to push for divisional realignment next season.

    6.)  Who will emerge as the favorites from the VERY crowded AL Wild Card pack?

    Right now, the AL Wild Card standings look like this (note, tie breakers have not been made as of yet):

    1.) New Orleans Voodoo (68-44)
    2.) Columbus Dodger Blue (60-52)
    3t.) San Juan Elephant Seals (59-53)
    3t.) Oakland Hammers (59-53)
    3t.) Salem Witch Hunters (59-53)
    6.)  Nashville Merchants (56-56)

    The Voodoo have a healthy 8 game lead for the first WC spot, and while anything is possible, for now that lead appears to be safe.  That leaves four very good teams within one game of each other for the final AL play-off berth.  The two time defending AL Champion E-Seals have underperformed their expected win percentage all season, but so has Columbus.  Conversely, Salem has dramatically exceeded its expected winning percentage, while Oakland has been basically in line with it.  Nashville is in the mix as well, but we may be a year or two away from the Merchants making the leap into the post-season.  Columbus has been nipping at the heels of the Ottawa Eh’s all season, but the Eh’s have built up a strong 6 game cushion, and with that starting rotation, it’s hard to imagine them relinquishing their lead.

    5.)  Who will win the Little Rock ‘n Roll ROY award?  Bill Jepsen  vs. Pedro Cabrera  ( vs.

    It’s not every season you get two consensus top 5 prospects making their ML debut.  It’s even rarer when those two prospects make their debut for the same team.  In Season 30, Little Rock ‘n Roll saw both mega studs emerge from it’s potent farm system, and is currently skyrocketing towards the #1 seed in the AL thanks largely to these two stallions.  But the question everyone’s asking is, during Little Rock’s post-season team awards party, which player will walk away with the coveted ‘n Roll ROY award in Season 30?  Let’s look a bit deeper:

    Here is Jepsen’s .avg/.obp/.slg line, followed by Cabrera’s:


    Damn... that’s close.  We need more information.  Here are some random, related facts to help you make your own decision:

    -Jepsen is a Catcher, who can throw runners out, but isn’t a great pitch caller (IF we’re going to be picky.)
    -Cabrera is a 2B, with a nice glove but lowish range (IF we’re going to be picky.)
    -Cabrera has stolen 30 bases in 33 attempts this season.
    -Jepsen has thrown out 30% of all potential base stealers.
    -Cabrera has created 91.84 runs
    -Jepsen has created 76.46 runs

    Hmmm... 15 runs is a pretty big difference.  Is there anything else we should consider?

    -Bill Jepsen has 35 homers while Pedro Cabrera has 23

    Wait a minute, wait a minute, these players are both incredibly valuable, with strong cases to be made for each as the Little Rock Rookie of the Year, but if these guys are really so good, how come when I look at the ‘n Roll stat page I see players not named Jepsen or Cabrera leading the team in Runs Created, HRs, OBP, SLG, and 2Bs?  Do you expect me to believe that Roundfrog has created some kind of super lineup, full of guys making the league minimum?  Good one, you almost had me there.

    4.)  How many first round picks will reject their initial offers?

    As of game #112, four first round picks remain unsigned.  Will any of these players disregard their mother’s wishes and take the big pay day, or will next season by Type D party time?

    3.)  Will Trade-mageddon pay off for the Voodoo?

    Earlier this season, new owner ptwoner made a bold and controversial move to send many of its franchise cornerstones away for younger, cheaper talent.  The Voodoo child was adamant that these moves were done not to give up on this season, but to keep the franchise a contender now and into the future.  We won’t know the long term success of this bold plan for at least a few seasons, but in the meantime, New Orleans has maintained a .607 winning percentage and is on pace to win 98 games... almost exactly as many as ptwoner projected at the time of the trades. 

    2.)  Will Roger Conroy re-sign?

    The four time MVP is having another incredible season, but thus far has not agreed to re-sign with ‘n Roll.  Conroy has maintained that his focus is on winning a championship for Little Rock, and that he doesn’t want contract negotiations to distract from that goal, but the Arkansas sports columnists seem more concerned about the future than the present.  One fan, desperate for Conroy to re-sign, was overheard at a recent autograph session asking Roger, “Would it be enough for your leaving heart, if I broke down and cried?  If I cried?” Conroy responded with, “I know, it’s only Little Rock ‘n Roll, but I like it.”

    1.)  Will Edge Yount break his own league batting record and make a push for .400?

    I’ll be honest, I started this column last week, and it’s been one of the rougher week’s in Edge’s career, as his average was then sitting pretty at .370, and is now down to .347 (embarrassing.)  While .400 may be out of the question for season 30, Yount actually has a chance to wind up with has career average around .350.  .350!  His current career rate is .347, which is already 11 points higher than the next closest player... EVER.  With Witch Hunter nation firmly strapped to his back, what can’t Edge Yount do?

    Friday, January 31, 2014

    Almost Unbiased Hall of Fame Breakdown

    Greetings Plumpertons.  As you know, life is miserable right now.  The icy chill of the polar vortex pierces us to our souls, which are already wanting and empty by the lack of professional baseball and football.  And of course, nothing extinguishes the last vestiges of warmth within us like the existential nightmare that is coach hiring. Plagued by these decidedly first world problems, the last thing anyone wants to do spend time researching HOF candidates.  After all, examining and discussing Hall of Fame worthiness is a tired, often frustrating exercise.  However, since we devote an absurd amount of our lives to these fake players, we may as well create a fake Hall of Fame worthy of those we adulate.  Hopefully, one man's almost-unbiased overview of the most eligible candidates will provide a little background and at least ensure maximum voter turnout.

    For background purposes, to be eligible for any HBD HOF, players must meet the following requirements: Position players: 10+ years of ML experience with 400+ PA per season; Relief pitchers; 10+ years of ML experience with 50+ IP per season; Starting pitchers: 10+ years of ML experience with 150+ IP per season.  As far as I can tell, players do not have a maximum numbers of years eligible as in MLB.

    Just because I was curious, I looked up how our HBD Hall of Fame compares to the MLB Hall of Fame by position distribution:

    Count of Hall of Fame Members by Position
    Numerical Order
    Number of Inductees
    Center Fielders
    First Basemen
    Left Fielders

    Right Fielders

    Second Basemen
    Third Basemen
    Designated Hitters
    Number of Inductees
    Hall of Fame Positional Frequency

    HBD Hall of Fame by position (as determined by me):
    1B – 5; COF – 4; SP – 7; 2B – 2; 3B – 3; CF – 1; C – 2

    At least three caveats apply here.  One, HBD positions are more fluid than MLB positions, since the ratings are all that dictates fielding ability (experience at a position doesn’t matter).  Two, the MLB Hall features many inductees appointed by a Veterans Committee and formerly a Negro Leagues Committee, which muddles the comparison to the strict merits-based voting of HBD.  Finally, our HBD Hall obviously reflects a tiny sample.  

    With those in mind, the only clear trend (based on ZERO mathematical analysis) I see is that Plumpy voters are more likely to vote for power-hitting 1B/COF than MLB voters, and less likely to vote for players at defensive skill positions like CF and SS.  This may be due to the lingering effects of the season 1-14 steroid era (see Todd Ford – a 1st ballot HOFer without the juice, but season 10 gives you an example of easy HRs came during the golden age of Plumpy), the relative ease of hitting HRs in HBD compared to MLB, or the dead defense era (check out the + play stats until about season 14).  In any case, I would argue Plumpy voters should pay a little more attention to value provided at tough defensive positions, and a little less attention to traditional MLB HOF statistical benchmarks like 400 HR.  

    Okay let’s actually look at the players and stop this pseudo-intellectual babbling.  I have narrowed the candidate pool down to only players I think could arguably be included in this year’s top 5:


    Einar Pena – SP

    Key Stats:  325-128 W/L, 3.00 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 3724/1348 K/BB
    Best Season:  23-1, 2.26 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, all in San Juan’s slugger’s paradise.  Lost second to last start of the season 1-0 or would have been undefeated.
    Argument: Um, he’s the best pitcher Plumpy’s ever seen?  


    Andrew Fox – CF

    Key Stats:  .277/.351/.574, 533 HR, 1246/1383 R/RBI, 227 SB
    Bling:  1 lonely Gold Glove-CF, 1 AS nod, and two SS-CF…the award logic is the worst
    Best Season:  .299/.378/.640, 45 HR 105/105 R/RBI
    Argument:  Andrew Fox requires you to look past the surface to see how clearly he deserves to be a HOFer, although a lifetime .925 OPS and 533 HR with gold-glove defense in CENTER FIELD and base-stealing ability should be enough on its own.  But he did all this playing most of his career in the offensive wasteland that is Tacoma, a -4 -4 -4 -4 -4 black hole where enjoyable fake baseball goes to die.  He’s probably the best true CF Plumpy has ever seen.


    Barry Bowman – CF

    Key Stats:  .289/.360/.479, 383 HR, 1731/1513 R/RBI, 428 SB, 2805 H
    Bling:  10 AS appearances, 8 SS (CF) and two Gold Gloves
    Best Season:  .308/.376/.560, 36 HR 108/109 R/RBI, 39 SB – BANANAS for a true SS
    Argument:  Like Fox, Barry Bowman’s batting resume only shines brighter when you consider the heartland dump (-1 -2 -1 -2 -2) he called home for his entire career.  This sweet-swinging lefty is one of only 8 Plumpy players to notch 1500 Runs and 1500 RBI, and guess where the other 7 are enshrined.  The career Settler also played gold-glove defense in Center, totaling 107 plus plays and only 3 minus plays for his career in CF.  Pepper in elite base-stealing ability and you’ve got a clear-cut Hall of Famer. 

    Pedro Campos – SS

    Key Stats:  .291/.354/.493, 311 HR, 1362/1205 R/RBI, 288 SB
    Bling:  2 MVPs, 10 AS appearances, 5 SS (3Band SS) and two Gold Gloves
    Best Season:  .307/.364/.593, 36 HR 112/141 R/RBI – BANANAS for a true SS
    Argument:  If Campos doesn’t get in, we may as well declare positional value dead.  He is the best all-around SS Plumpy has ever seen – power, speed, patience, solid defense at SS, on-base ability, even chiseled good looks.  He’s got all the hardware: two-time MVP (one of 12 in Plumpy history, 6 of the others are already HOFers), ten-time all-star, and even won a Home Run derby.  Only real nit to pick is the power numbers are aided by a career in sunny San Juan +0 +2 +0 +2 +3, but that shouldn't stop him from being the long overdue first SS in Plumpy HOF history. 

    Vic Herrera – SP

    Key Stats:  275-182 W/L, 3.61 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 3542/1380 K/BB
    Bling:  1 Cy Young, 6 AS appearances
    Best Season:  21-8, 2.21 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 203/76 K/BB
    Argument:  3rd on the Plumpy all-time Wins leaderboard, more than any current HOFer.  Classic great for 20 years over elite for 12 example, the Bert Blyleven of Plumpy.  4000 innings of clear No. 1 starter level pitching, incredibly durable.  Better career than some of the SPs already inducted.


    Rich King – 1B/LF

    Key Stats:  .293/.370/.533, 420 HR, 1722/1353 R/RBI, 814 SB
    Bling:  10 AS appearances, 5 SS (LF and 1B)
    Best Season:  .316/.395/.597, 43 HR 177/136 R/RBI, 73 SB – BONKERS for anyone
    Argument:  Rich King is a terrifying offensive triple threat: he gets on base, steals bases efficiently and prolifically (top 5 all time in career steals), and can hit HRs like a man who’s much, much slower and fatter.  Ireland's best baseballer (look it up) flat-out produces runs (top 10 in career runs scored) like a night of Guiness and Bangers, or something.  However, he did most of it in Hartford, the +2 +3 +1 +4 +4 insurance runs capital of the world.  Given that discount, his offensive output remains outstanding, but below the standard set by the roided-out 1B/COFs already in the Hall.  He may well be deserving, but I don't think it's this year.


    Geoffrey McNamara - SP

    Key Stats:  221-130 W/L, 3.61 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 2800/1074 K/BB
    Bling:  7 AS appearances
    Best Season:  21-7, 2.87 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 237/80 K/BB
    Argument:  Clear-cut Ace for better part of two decades.  Eerily similar numbers to Herrera, but 1000 fewer innings logged.  Pretty darn similar resume to an SP that snuck in during the early years of the Plumpy HOF (I'm looking at you Nate Maduro).  Without Herrera's longevity, the ERA/WHIP are great but not Hall-worthy, especially with no Cy Youngs.  For me, McNamara is just about the best pitcher I'm willing to put comfortably outside the hall.  There's McNamara, a gray area, and then eternal greatness.  Not a great epitaph.

    Mateo Bennett - 3B

    Key Stats:  .282/.342/.487, 485 HR, 1376/1632 R/RBI, 2711 H
    Bling:  Just 2 AS appearances, 1 Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year
    Best Season:  .293/.366/.550, 37 HR 84/109 R/RBI
    Argument: Hitting 485 bombs and playing gold glove caliber defense at 3B is a very good start - could even play a subpar SS for a couple years at his peak.  This switch-hitter was a stalwart in the middle of the lineup and at a skill defensive position for 15 solid seasons, playing 162 games 5 times.  However, due to defensive interchangeability in Plumpy, 3Bs aren't as tough to find as in the MLB.  But the clincher is that Bennett only OPSed over .900 one time.  To use a contrived, largely imperfect architecture metaphor, he was a cornerstone but never the keystone.

    Miguel Rojas - RP

    Key Stats:  552 Saves, 72-89 W/L, 3.58 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 710/341 K/BB
    Bling:  9 AS appearances, 3 Fireman of the Year
    Best Season:  40/45 SV/SVOpp, 5-4, 2.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 51/18 K/BB
    Argument:  Most Saves in Plumpy history, by a lot - 100 more than the no. 3 closer, 38 more than 2nd place.  Great longevity, solid ERA and WHIP compared to HOF SPs, but a much worse ERA and WHIP than other elite relievers like Pascual Fernandez and Doug Caruso.  In fact, among HOF-eligible RPs, Rojas's ERA ranks a pedestrian 12th, despite playing his whole career in HR-depressing San Fran (+1 0 +3 -3 -3).  Pitched less than 1000 innings for his career, or 3.5 seasons for Vic Herrera.  Personally, I don't think he's close, but those who appreciate closers would disagree.


    Steve Myatt, Rafael Henriquez, Julius Moreno:  If you're looking for a 1B/COF with a career OPS of .874-.887, 470-575 HR, and 1200-1500 R/RBI, you've got enough choices here to convince me that none of them is a special enough snowflake for our fake Hall of Fame.

    Philip Gardner: Your .415 lifetime OBP makes me so, so moist, but it isn't enough on its own.

    Jim Maxwell, Rico Rosa:  James, your roid-era-free .886 OPS at 2B is outstanding, at LF not quite enough.  Rico, your elite 2B defense and crazy pop for a skill position are amazing, but not so amazing considering you played exclusively during peresteroidka...SOVIET DOPING PUN.

    Aaron Hinske: You have a 4.00+ ERA.  Kindly leave.

    Lots of Steroid-era players who didn't play very long:  Tough cannolis.

    So there you have it.  1000 words on RETIRED fake ballplayers when I could have just gone on world chat and posted Pena/Fox/Campos/Bowman/Herrera.  Let's Get out the Vote.