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Big Daddy Baseball League

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slant.gif (102 bytes) From the Desk of the Commish


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November, 2019

2019 Playoffs Preview

It wasn't supposed to be this way. After sweeping their way straight through the 2018 postseason, the St. Louis Apostles were the odds-on favorites to win it all in 2019. 2018 was supposed to have been the beginning of a long St. Louis dynasty the likes of which we haven't seen since...well, the current insufferable Los Altos dynasty. Instead, the Apostles shocked the BDBL universe by face-plowing into a 9-19 record in Chapter Six, losing both the division and their lead in the second EL wildcard race.

They managed to capture that second wildcard with an unplanned Game #161 against the Great Lakes Sphinx. But the Apostles magic ran out at that point, and they were defeated in the first (and, as it turns out, only) EL Wildcard Game against the Charlotte Mustangs. As it turns out, we won't be crowning the same champion two years in a row after all.

Unlike their Eck League counterparts, the Ozzie League has known which of their teams will appear in the postseason since around the all-star break. The only question remaining in the second half was who would face who. That question was mostly answered when the relentless Los Altos Undertakers wrapped up yet another 110+ win season with the best record in the BDBL, securing the #1 seed against the winner of the OL Wildcard Game -- won by the Joplin Miners in a gut-wrenching pitcher's duel over the Ravenswood Infidels.

All of which brings us to the here and now. The Ozzie League Division Series includes three 100-win teams, plus the 95-win Miners. The Eck League features two seemingly lopsided matchups between the 105-win Kansas Law Dogs and the surprising and overachieving Southern Cal Slyme, and the 98-win Chicago Black Sox and the wildcard-handicapped Charlotte Mustangs.

For the moment, it seems as though only one Division Series is a toss-up. The others would require an upset to change the fate of the League Championship Series. But upsets are what the Tournament of Randomness is all about.


112-48 941 655 286 50-30 62-18 .821 .758 .853 3.74 .673 .684 .665
95-65 788 596 199 54-26 41-39 .741 .761 .732 3.28 .673 .670 .674

At times it has seemed as though the Los Altos Undertakers Dynasty will never end. They enjoyed their first 100-win season way back in 2000 (one year after narrowing missing that mark with "only" 99 wins in 1999.) Since then, they've won 100+ games NINE more times, to the point where it has almost become unremarkable. If we set the arbitrary definition of dominance at 98 wins instead of 100, then the Undertakers have been arbitrarily dominant in 13 out of our 21 seasons. That's nearly two out of every three seasons, folks.

Lately, it seems as though merely winning 100 games isn't enough of a challenge for Los Altos. They have raised the bar to 110 wins, which they have successfully pole-vaulted seven times, and four times in the past five seasons. Needless to say, no team in MLB history has ever come close to dominating the league like the Undertakers have dominated the BDBL.

For the third time in the past five years, Los Altos led the entire BDBL in runs differential (+286). They scored 49 more runs than any other team in the league, allowed the fourth-fewest runs and the third-lowest OPS, and owned the second-lowest CERA in the league.

And folks...they won all of those games and pitched so well as a team despite the fact that not a single qualifying Los Altos pitcher finished in the top-25 in the BDBL in ERA. Only one Los Altos pitcher, Garrett Cole, finished among the top-25 in opponents' batting average, OBP, or slugging. Only three pitchers who finished the season with Los Altos finished with 20 or more starts, and only two of those three finished with an ERA under 4.00.

Seth Lugo (14-1, 2.85 in 110+ IP) was arguably the team's ace in 2019, but he is limited to just eight inning per series in usage. Caleb Smith (5-2, 3.16 in 79+) is eligible to pitch six innings. Ryne Stanek (2-1, 2.79 in 38+) can be used as an "opener" for two games, but can pitch no more than two innings in each. Los Altos could also turn to Rich Hill (9-6, 4.09 in 143) to fill some starting innings before turning the game over to the bullpen.

Offensively, there are no weak spots in the Los Altos lineup, which is led by the potential OL MVP, Jesus Aguilar (.341/.404/.689, with 52 HR). Aguilar is flanked by Nolan Arenado (.280/.354/.516) and Matt Carpenter (.256/.355/.494). Matt Kemp (.307/.356/.518), Mitch Garver (.300/.354/.485), and Stephen Pearce (.297/.374/.526) are dangerous weapons as well. Thankfully, Willians Astudillo (.360/.369/.620) is only available for 7 PA's in each series. He may be the most dangerous hitter in the Los Altos lineup, PA for PA. (At least he was against the Cowtippers.) Shin-Soo Choo (.274/.406/.389) is also a pain in the ass against righties.

Jim Doyle's second year at the helm of the Joplin franchise was nearly as successful as his first. The Miners won four fewer games in 2019 than they did in 2018. They scored fewer runs, but allowed nearly the same low total. In fact, the 2019 Miners led the entire BDBL in fewest runs scored and, by a whisker, team ERA.

Doyle's $16 million winter investment, Chris Sale, pitched as well as expected. He led the league with a 2.40 ERA and went 14-7 in 169 innings, including 20 games where he pitched out of the bullpen (and recorded seven saves.) Doyle's unconventional use of Sale as a hybrid starter/reliever in 2019 actually worked well during the regular season, and played a major role in the OL Wildcard Game that advanced Joplin to the Division Series.

Sale was backed in the Miners rotation by a few surprising performances from Jesse Chavez (13-5, 2.64 ERA in 99 IP), Hyun-Jin Ryu (64, 2.41 in 86), Masahiro Tanaka (13-6, 3.31 in 163+), and Charlie Morton (10-6, 3.77 in 174+). In the Division Series, Chavez will be limited to 7.1 innings in usage, and Ryu will be limited to 6.1.

The Miners bullpen is filled with some unbelievable, head-shaking, performances. Sam Tuivailala, a pickup off the free agent scrap heap, posted a mind-numbing 1.54 ERA in 35 innings. In MLB, left-handers teed off on him to the tune of .356/.457/.593. In the BDBL, he held them to a .118/.250/.265 batting line. Craig Kimbrel (2.23 ERA in 64+ IP, with 29 saves) served as the closer when Sale wasn't closing. He was backed primarily by John Brebbia (2.56 ERA in 52+ IP), Steven Wright (2.88 in 56+), and T.J. McFarland (2.92 in 64+).

Offensively, Joplin ranked around the middle of the pack in the OL in most major categories. Four different players topped 100 runs created: Mookie Betts (.329/.427/.616), Freddie Freeman (.303/.379/.473), David Peralta (.316/.375/.561), and Carlos Santana (.245/.358/.448). Those four players pretty much carried the entire offense on their shoulders. No other batter in the Joplin lineup topped 60 runs created. Only one other (Jose Iglesias, believe it or not) topped 40 RC.

It's no secret that Joplin plays in a home ballpark that severely hinders home runs. Their lefty (68) and righty (78) home run factors are among the lowest in the league. This could work to the disadvantage of the Undertakers, who ranked third in the entire BDBL in home runs.

Los Altos went 7-5 against the Miners during the regular season, but were swept in the final series in Chapter Six (returning the favor for a Chapter Four sweep by Los Altos.) Sale held the Undertakers to just 6 runs in 20+ innings, but ended up with the loss in two of those four games due to a lack of run support. The question with Sale is: how effective will he be in Game One after throwing 23 pitches in the Wildcard Game? It's likely that he will be available to start with one calendar day of rest before the start of the Division Series, but he will likely be on an abbreviated pitch count. The same would hold true if Doyle decides to throw Sale on short rest in Game Four (and Game Seven if necessary.)

The Undertakers were road warriors this season, winning 62 games (7 more than any other BDBL team) on the road. It's safe to say they will hold their own when the series moves to Joplin. The key for the Miners, then, is winning Game One. If they manage to get six or seven quality innings out of Sale, and win that game, they will have a fighting chance to win the series. If not, it will likely be a very short series for Joplin.

Prediction: Los Altos in five.


105-55 874 640 234 55-25 50-30 .783 .724 .814 3.69 .693 .748 .643
90-70 801 760 41 50-30 40-40 .764 .872 .732 4.29 .752 .700 .786

According to preseason league polling, neither of these teams was supposed to be here in November, and yet here we are. Kansas was out-voted by the Buckingham Sovereigns to win the Hrbek Division, and Southern Cal didn't receive a single vote to win the Wilkie Division. Both division winners were forced to wait until the Wildcard Game had been played before they even knew who they would be facing in this series.

The Law Dogs absolutely dominated the Eck League this season. They led the league in wins (by 7) and runs differential (by a whopping 77). Only the Chicago Black Sox scored more runs than Kansas, but no team came close to allowing as few runs to cross the plate. The South Carolina finished second in the EL in that category, and they trailed Kansas by 67 runs.

In my preseason preview (in which, I'd like to point out, I correctly picked Kansas to win their division), I predicted the Law Dogs would win a very weak division with a record barely above .500. Boy is my face red. In that article, I correctly pointed out that beyond their front two of Corey Kluber (22-7, 3.03 ERA in 234+ IP) and Luis Severino (16-5, 3.19 in 209), Kansas really didn't have much starting pitching. That certainly proved true, but what I seemingly underestimated was just how good their bullpen would be.

Jared Hughes (1.73 ERA in 73 IP) was a machine. He nearly led the league in saves, with 44. Shane Carle (2.13 in 63+) was almost as impressive, and surprisingly held lefthanders to a .173/.248/.235 batting line. Dave Robertson (2.30 in 74+) won ELEVEN games out of the bullpen, and lost only two.

Offensively, only Whit Merrifield (.329/.394/.458) managed to top 100 runs created. Mike Moustakas (.255/.319/.503, with 36 HR), Cody Bellinger (.270/.352/.508, 25 HR), and Max Muncy (.256/.393/.537, 33 HR) pounded the ball all season. Ben Zobrist (.313/.393/.437), Carlos Gonzalez (.311/.369/.579), and Robinson Cano (.307/.388/.479) all had excellent years as well. On the bench, Ryan O'Hearn (.343/.415/.733 in 105 AB) hit like his head was on fire.

Southern Cal's path to the playoffs was paved by the shocking collapse of the St. Louis Apostles in Chapter Six. No one seemed more surprised than Bob Sylvester when his team got off to a good start in 2019. The Slyme just kept winning from there, right to the end, and wrapped up the season with 90 wins, just one year after losing 100 games.

The Slyme were very good at two things in 2019: getting hits on balls in play and pounding left-handed pitching. The Slyme led the Eck League in both categories. Unfortunately for SoCal fans, none of the Law Dogs' main pitchers is left-handed. Slyme batters also led the league in strikeouts, which could be a factor against Kansas' power pitchers.

Eugenio Suarez (.289/.347/.519, 37 HR), Justin Upton (.273/.347/.539, 36 HR), Mallex Smith (.308/.378/.428), and Yoan Moncada (.269/.338/.432) were the top four hitters on the Slyme in terms of runs created. Three of those four (Suarez, Upton, and Moncada) struck out over 160 times each this season. Another, catcher Jorge Alfaro, whiffed a whopping 159 times in only 367 at-bats.

On the pitching side, SoCal held the same type of unbalanced rotation as Kansas, with two great starters backed by a bunch of inning-eaters. Jameson Taillon (18-7, 2.96 ERA in 209+ IP) and Zack Greinke (15-10, 3.65 in 226+) were every bit as good as Kluber and Severino, and should be able to keep the score tight in the games where they will be inevitably matched.

The scary homer-prone Raisel Iglesias (7-7, 3.71 ERA in 70+ IP, 20 saves, with 17 HR allowed) served as SoCal's closer for most of the season, with Carl Edwards (1.76 ERA in 30+ IP) and Edwin Jackson (2.92 in 98+) doing most of the heavy-lifting in the middle innings.

Kansas and SoCal split their 12-game regular season schedule. The Kansas offense teed off on Slyme pitching in their first series, scoring 12 or more runs in three of the four games. After that series, the other three were more evenly-matched. Interestingly enough, Greinke lost all three of his starts against Kansas, and Taillon won both of his.

It seems as though the Law Dogs have the advantage in every way possible. They have better pitching, better hitting, a better bullpen, and the home field advantage (if the series goes the distance.) If the Apostles had won the wildcard game over Charlotte, Southern Cal would be facing Chicago's all-lefty rotation in the Division Series. As fate would have it, though, the Slyme now have to go through Kansas to advance to the next round.

Prediction: Kansas in six.


111-49 855 496 259 56-24 55-25 .771 .825 .747 3.29 .657 .684 .661
101-59 880 661 219 57-23 44-36 .803 .820 .796 3.80 .709 .677 .728

Finally, after ten straight years of failure, the Salem Cowtippers managed to capture a division title that Salem fans used to take for granted. Salem's 111 wins was the second-highest total in franchise history (narrowly missing the high of 112 set in 2002). The Cowtippers finished #2 in the BDBL in wins and ERA, and #1 in opponents OPS and CERA. Offensively, Salem led the league in walks (by nearly 100) and stolen bases.

The bullpen carried the Salem staff throughout the season. Pedro Strop (1.12 ERA in 64+ IP), Oliver Perez (1.27 in 28+), Rich Rodriguez (1.70 in 74), Ryan Brasier (1.98 in 36+), Taylor Rogers (2.07 in 74), Jonathan Holder (2.69 in 70+), and Shohei Ohtani (2.80 in 54+) were all outstanding in relief. The Cowtippers were able to piece together a starting rotation to fill the 160 games in the regular season, but the playoffs will prove to be a challenge. Clay Buchholz (8-4, 2.69 ERA in 107 IP) is limited to just 7.2 innings per series, and Trevor Cahill (14-3, 3.60 ERA in 120 IP) is limited to 8.2.

Salem's offense was truly a team effort. Only one player (Jose Ramirez, with 130) managed to create more than 100 runs this season. Midseason acquisition Travis Shaw (98.8) came close overall. Trea Turner (96.3) was the only other Cowtipper to reach 90 RC. Christian Villanueva (.338/.409/.882 vs. LH) and Danny Valencia (.348/.435/.606) absolutely crushed left-handed pitching. Their impact is slightly diminished by the fact that Akron will only be starting one left-hander (Jose Quintana) in the series. However, their best relievers are all left-handed, so Salem will have excellent options off the bench.

The Ryche, playing in the Ozzie League for the first time since 1999, not only won their sixth division title, but won 100+ games for the first time since 2003. Their offense ranked among the top three OL teams in runs scored, OBP, slugging, home runs, OPS vs. lefties, and OPS vs. righties.

Rookie Ronald Acuna and the surprising Starling Marte led the way offensively. Acuna (.303/.385/.606, 32 HR in only 459 AB) was the star of the lineup, PA-for-PA. Marte (.307/.354/.544, 37 HR) was a consistent run-producer from beginning to end. Chris Taylor (.313/.368/.452) and Joey Wendle (.313/.368/.452) were the only other full-time offensive contributors for Akron. Jesse Winker (.316/.434/.480), Jedd Gyorko (.319/.387/.560), Scooter Gennett (.335/.387/.544 for Akron), David Dahl (.304/.348/.545), Yairo Munoz (.282/.341/.506), and Kolten Wong (.282/.341/.506) all excelled in shortened seasons. All will be limited in usage except for Gennett.

Akron's pitching was fueled by the surprising Trevor Williams (19-8, 3.11 ERA in 185 IP) and the not-so-surprising Mike Clevinger (18-7, 3.52 in 220). Quintana (16-8, 3.87 in 188+) gave Akron three starters with 16+ wins. In the bullpen, Jose Castillo (2.25 ERA in 36 IP) was practically untouchable, but homer-prone. Josh Hader (2.63 in 82) and Jeurys Familia (2.65 in 71+) shared closer duties throughout the season, with Mychal Givens (2.35 in 76+), Will Smith (3.14 in 51+), and Corbin Burnes (3.62 in 37+) providing valuable setup innings.

Salem and Akron split their regular season series, 6-6. Seven out of the twelve games were decided by one run. Other than a 12-1 blowout by Salem in Chapter Two, each game was close. Two of the twelve went into extra innings. Needless to say, this is an evenly-matched series. The winner will be decided by who gets the luckiest dice rolls at the most opportune times. And since the Dice Roll Gods never seem to shine on Salem no matter how many top prospects we sacrifice at their altar...

Prediction: Akron in seven.


98-62 892 735 157 49-31 49-31 .799 .832 .789 4.33 .741 .759 .732
90-70 873 754 119 50-30 40-40 .797 .748 .818 4.40 .736 .754 .718

In the preseason preview (in which I predicted Charlotte to win the Griffin Division), I wrote: "The lefty-heavy rotation could be a problem for Chicago, as teams will inevitably load up on right-handed sluggers to take full advantage of the situation." Lo and behold, that is what Chicago's opponents tried to do. Chicago ranked #2 (behind Niagara, oddly enough) in plate appearances against right-handed batters. In fact, over 1,000 more right-handed batters faced Chicago than Charlotte this year. (Note: Charlotte faced the fewest righties in the entire BDBL.)

Despite facing so many righties, Chicago's pitching staff fared well against them. They ranked in the dead-center of the league (#12 out of 24) in OPS allowed vs. right-handed hitting. Incredibly enough, Chicago allowed a higher OPS to left-handers (.759) than righties (.732)!

Overall, lefties Madison Bumgarner (12-3, 3.39 ERA in 138 IP), Cole Hamels (11-10, 4.37 in 179+), Clayton Kershaw (12-9, 4.48 in 176+), and Dallas Keuchel (19-9, 4.62 in 224) teamed with rookie right-hander Shane Bieber (8-7, 3.94 in 125+) to form a solid starting rotation. Another lefty, Aroldis Chapman (4.30 ERA in 46 IP), saved 22 games out of the bullpen. Right-hander Edubray Ramos (1.66 in 43+) racked up 15 saves.

Offensively, the Black Sox were as good as advertised. They led the Eck League in runs scored, doubles, and OPS. Bryce Harper (.264/.402/.510), Jed Lowrie (.304/.385/.489), and Charlie Blackmon (.315/.367/.507) each topped 100 runs created. Eduardo Escobar (.276/.326/.493) and Javier Baez (.266/.301/.463) topped 90. Kyle Schwarber (.243/.335/.504), Kris Bryant (.279/.362/.460), and Tyler White (.306/.381/.584 in 219 AB) all had big years as well. In total, six different Black Sox batters hit 20+ home runs.

Charlotte nearly matched Chicago's offensive output. Alex Bregman (.283/.371/.518), Jose Altuve (.325/.388/.489), and midseason pickup Christian Yelich (.361/.449/.670 overall) all reached 100+ runs created. In fact, Yelich's 179.1 RC was the best total in the BDBL, but split between the Ozzie and Eck Leagues. Ryan Haniger (.289/.370/.514), Juan Soto (.282/.395/.490), and Corey Dickerson (.317/.354/.499) all mashed the ball as well.

Charlotte's pitching was supposed to be much better than Chicago's, yet they ended up trailing the Black Sox in most categories. Closer Blake Treinen (2.71 ERA in 79+ IP) led the entire BDBL with 46 saves, but wasn't nearly as dominant as he should have been. He somehow managed to blow four saves, and allowed nine home runs on the season -- seven more than he allowed in MLB.

Of the fourteen pitchers on the Charlotte roster that finished with 29+ innings, nine out of their top ten in ERA were relievers. Kyle Hendicks (19-8, 3.43 ERA in 218 IP) was undoubtedly the ace of the starting rotation. After his brilliant clutch performance in the EL Wildcard Game, however, he likely won't pitch in the Division Series until Game Three when the series shifts to Charlotte. The Mustangs will be forced to hand the ball to either Julio Teheran (12-8, 4.58 in 192+), Nick Pivetta (8-11, 4.89 in 165+), or J.O. Berrios (13-12, 5.28 in 211+) in Games One and Two.

The gimmicky one-year Wildcard Game experiment has given Chicago a huge advantage in this series, as it has highlighted Charlotte's lack of depth in their rotation. Likewise, Chicago gains a platoon advantage by facing Charlotte in this Division Series instead of Southern Cal. Southern Cal pounds left-handed pitching, while Charlotte (.748 OPS) does not.

The Mustangs' greatest weapon against southpaws, Tyler Flowers (.281/.495/.500 vs. LH) is limited to 10 PA's in usage against lefties -- or roughly two games. Three of the next four best hitters against left-handers are all left-handed: Yelich (.929 as a Mustang), Dickerson (.898), and Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.875). Left-handed pitching also takes Soto (.682 OPS vs. LH) and Anthony Rizzo (.605) right out of the equation.

Chicago went 10-6 against Charlotte during the regular season. I expect that trend to continue into the postseason.

Prediction: Chicago in four.

Remaining predictions:

  • Los Altos over Akron in five.
  • Kansas over Chicago in six.
  • Los Altos over Kansas in four.