Before this season began,
I promised you all that 2021 would be completely unpredictable and
entertaining. Are you not entertained?!
As I type, the Great Lakes
Sphinx, Chicago Black Sox, and Las Vegas Flamingos own the three best
records in the BDBL. The Akron Ryche are eight games under .500. The
Kansas Law Dogs are ten games under .500. And the Los Altos Undertakers
and Salem Cowtippers are in second place. If you saw any of that coming,
please buy me a lottery ticket immediately.
Players of the Chapter
The Great Lakes Sphinx enjoyed an
historic chapter (story below), so it only seems fitting that the EL
Hitter of the Chapter should be a Sphinx. Scott Romonosky's $18 million
investment two winters ago, Christian Yelich, has earned his keep. In
Chapter Two, Yelich hit .404/.496/.626, with a league-leading 31.8 runs
created. I'd like to give an honorable mention to Kansas' Nick Martini,
who hit a whopping .434/.478/.554 for the chapter, simply because it's
so random. Nick Martini??
On the Ozzie League side, Bear
Country's J.D. Martinez (another winter, 2020, free agent investment)
led the league in all three triple-slash categories (.414/.458/.838) as
well as homers (14), RBI's (44), runs scored (29), hits (46), and runs
created (41.3). The top three batting average leaders in the OL were all
members of the Jamboree, and yet Bear Country managed a record of just
15-13 for the chapter.
The Highland Freedom own a last-place
record in the ultra-competitive Wilkie Division. They also own the EL
Pitcher of the Chapter, Lucas Giolito. Giolito went a perfect 5-0 in
Chapter Two, and led the EL in ERA (1.13) and all three triple-slash
categories (.146/.209/.182). For the season, he is 8-1 with a 2.32 ERA,
which puts him near the top of the list to start the all-star game after
our next chapter.
The OL Pitcher of the Chapter also went
5-0 and led the OL in ERA and all three triple-slash categories. After a
rocky first chapter (to say the least), Los Altos ace Gerrit Cole
bounced back in a huge way in Chapter Two: 5-0, 1.13 ERA, .165/.216/.245
against. That performance lowered -- lowered! -- his ERA for the
season to 4.90!
Top Stories of the
Story #1: The Trade
Twenty years ago, controversial trades
were all too common in the BDBL. Today, they are a rare exception. Our VORP
rule, combined with our franchise player rule, along with several other rules
that were put in place to deter lopsided trading, all resulted in the
desired outcome. For the past several glorious years, the BDBL was
relatively controversy-free -- at least, in terms of lopsided trades. That
streak came to an abrupt end five weeks ago when Jim Doyle (the
Godfather of Lopsided Trades) made a deal with Scott Romonosky of the
Great Lakes Sphinx that significantly disrupted at least two pennant
Several factors make this trade more
controversial than most:
1. Doyle essentially dropped out of a
division race that his team was favored to win. He was trailing in the
McGowan Division by five games when he decided to "cut his losses."
Of course, since then, the tables have turned and the Joplin Miners now
own sole possession of first place. Their miraculous turnaround,
however, was accomplished with the help of Clayton Kershaw, Josh
Donaldson, and Carlos Santana -- three players they no longer own as of
2. The overwhelming amount of talent that
changed hands in this trade was incredibly unusual, to say the least,
and will make a significant impact in the Eck League this season -- and
likely well into the postseason. We don't
normally see a top-ten starting pitcher and TWO 830+ OPS hitters
involved in the same trade. If our VORP rule remained intact this year,
it is likely that this trade could not have been made.
3. Normally, any ONE of the three
players that were traded by Doyle would have fetched an enormous amount
of future value in return. Instead, Joplin received three late-blooming
young players and a rookie -- all of whom may or may not
have any future value. They
aren't bad players by anyone's standards, but their future value is
heavily-dependent on their 2021 MLB performance.
4. When a team trades for low-level
prospects that are years away from the big leagues, then it doesn't
matter when that trade is made within a chapter. If, however, that team
is trading for players that they hope will deliver instant value the very next
season, then it makes no sense whatsoever not to wait until the very end
of the chapter to pull the trigger. Anything can happen in six weeks.
The smart choice would be to wait as long as possible and remove as much
of that uncertainty as possible. Unfortunately, smart choices are not a
5. Normally, if you are trading a
player with as much impact as Kershaw, Donaldson, or Santana (never mind
all three!), it would be wise to let people know they're available,
so that you can collect the highest bids. Not only didn't Doyle let
anyone know those three players were available, but I doubt that anyone
could have guessed that they would be!
The bottom line is this: if Doyle had
simply waited until the end of Chapter Two to make this trade, it is
almost certain that he wouldn't have made it at all. Since this trade was made, Doyle has
spent the past several weeks scrambling to plug the holes created by
this deal. He replaced his two big bats with Khris Davis and Lorenzo
Cain, and replaced
Kershaw with Madison Bumgarner and James Paxton -- all of which cost his
team players that could have future value.
Davis is having an exceptional year
(.280/.330/.611, with 18 home runs), although he is moving from a home
ballpark with a home run factor of 101 to one with a factor of 76. Cain
(.266/.326/.407) is having a decent year, but is no Santana or
Donaldson. Combined, Joplin lost a little more than 14 runs created by
swapping Santana and Donaldson for Davis and Cain. That's a roughly
40-run difference (or about four wins) over the course of a full
season. Paxton (3-4, 4.85 ERA in 55+ IP) and Bumgarner (4-6, 4.05 ERA in
80 IP) are both decent mid-rotation starting pitchers, but neither is
the ace that Kershaw (6-3, 3.07 ERA in 85 IP) was for Joplin.
Just to recap, Doyle began this 2021
season by trading away his two top prospects and spending an outrageous
amount of money on aging veterans in the auction in an effort to "go for
broke." Then, just seven weeks into the season, he flipped that script
180-degrees and traded his three most marketable players in order to
"cut his losses." Then, a couple weeks later, he did another 180 and
desperately tried to repair the damage he caused by trading away even
more of his future in exchange for immediate value.
If you got whiplash just from reading
that paragraph, imagine what it must be like to be a Joplin fan.
Story #2: The Confounding Riddle of the
The beneficiaries of The Trade managed
to post the league's best record (22-6) in Chapter Two before Kershaw,
Donaldson, and Santana have even arrived! Those 22 wins rank somewhere
among the best performances that any team has ever posted in a single
chapter. The Sphinx led the entire BDBL in runs differential (+59) and
runs scored (160) in Chapter Two. Only the Joplin Miners (95) allowed
fewer runs than Great Lakes (101).
Bear in mind that all of the above
happened while the ace of the Great Lakes starting rotation, Mike Minor,
has posted a 6.24 ERA this season! Minor, Steven Matz, and Masahiro
Tanaka have started 30 games for the Sphinx this season, and own a
combined record of 8-8, with an ERA of 5.11. How the hell does a team
own the best record in the BDBL with three-fifths of a starting rotation
The answer, apparently, is a bullpen
that rescues the starting rotation on a consistent basis and an offense
that makes run prevention irrelevant. No one would ever mistake Michael
Feliz (4.05 projection ERA), Chaz Roe (3.97), or Kyle Keller (3.96) for
a bullpen ace, and yet those three have combined for an 8-1 record and a
microscopic 1.26 ERA in over 71 innings. Add Trevor Rogers (4.31
projection ERA, 2-1, 2.22 ERA in 28+ IP in the BDBL) and apparently this
is what a stellar bullpen looks like.
Add to the bullpen the incredibly
unlikely over-performance of Jake Arrieta (4-1, 3.51 ERA in 48+ IP) and
the short-usage superstardom of Sean Manaea (5-1, 2.91 ERA in 55+ IP),
and that apparently gives Great Lakes enough pitching to deliver a
league-best record. Now, with Clayton Kershaw on board, the Sphinx
finally have a legitimate ace -- even though, apparently, they don't
Next, let's talk about the offense.
Great Lakes currently ranks #2 in runs scored (behind the Chicago Black
Sox) and are hitting .252/.331/.437 as a team. Those triple-slash
numbers don't look all that impressive until you realize that the BDBL
average this season is just .244/.312/.419!
Great Lakes' Hitter of the Chapter,
Yelich, is batting an astounding .370/.456/.603 for the season. He
managed to create more than 50 runs in just two chapters despite hitting
only seven home runs! Charlie Blackmon (.242/.297/.489, 15 HR) is once
again ignoring the ballpark factors feature of Diamond Mind Baseball.
He's on pace to hit 48 home runs this season, which would dwarf his
projected total of 27. Hell, in just two chapters, he's already hit over
half as many homers as his projected total! The recently-traded Ty
France (.262/.333/.477, 12 HR) ranks third on the Great Lakes team in
runs created. The rest of the lineup is filled with bench-warmers like
Josh Rojas, Roughned Odor, Justin Smoak (also dealt in The Trade), Trent
Grisham, and Luis Urias.
Okay, remove Yelich from the Great
Lakes lineup. Over half of the lineup consists of Josh Rojas, Roughned
Odor, Justin Smoak, Trent Grisham, and Luis Urias. Does this look like
the second-best run-scoring offensive juggernaut in the league?
Just to recap, the Great Lakes Sphinx
own the best record in the BDBL despite a bullpen that doesn't look like
a championship-caliber bullpen, a starting rotation filled with sub-par
journeymen, and a lineup that includes exactly one above-average hitter.
I don't get it. I really, really,
Going forward, France will be replaced
in the lineup with Josh Donaldson. Given France's over-performance, this
isn't as much of an upgrade as it should be. However, swapping Smoak
(.226/.375/.368) for Carlos Santana (.286/.382/.509) will be a major
upgrade. Needless to say, Kershaw will likely continue where Manaea left
off. If the Sphinx can somehow post the best record in the BDBL with
these clowns, imagine what they can do after adding two all-star bats
and an ace!
Story #3: Salem's Epic Collapse
The Cowtippers looked so dominant in
Chapter One that it appeared they would easily run away with the
division. (At least, Jim Doyle must have thought so, given how quickly
he raised the white flag.) Fast-forward one
chapter and Salem went from an 18-10 division leader to a 12-16
The Salem offense, which hit just
.233/.293/.417 as a team in Chapter Two, with an average of only 4.4 runs per game, was
largely to blame for that collapse, but don't discount the epic collapse
of Max Scherzer. One chapter ago, the Co-Pitcher of the Chapter posted a
microscopic 0.81 ERA, with just 29 hits allowed in 44+
innings. One chapter later, that same exact pitcher, using the same exact player card,
and the same exact software, posted an ERA of 5.50, with 37
hits allowed in 36 innings. He also went 1-4 in seven games (five
starts) and coughed up EIGHT home runs. So, is Scherzer an ace or a
useless turd? According to the geniuses behind Diamond Mind Baseball,
the answer is apparently both!
The entire Cowtippers team choked in
Chapter Two despite the addition of Kurt Suzuki last chapter, who has
hit .257/.296/.431 -- leaps and bounds better than Salem's catching
tandem of Chapter One. More offensive help is on the way, in the form of
second baseman Kolten Wong, but none of it will matter if the
heart of Salem's lineup continues to have difficulty reaching base. Shohei Ohtani (.300), Andrew Benintendi (.309), Rafael Devers (.275),
and Christian Walker (.256) are all posting OBP's 30 points or more below their
Had it not been for The Trade, Salem
would be in major trouble. As it stands, all they need to do is settle
somewhere between their Chapter One and Chapter Two records.
Story #4: The .600...Flamingos?
The only predictable part about this
season is that it would be so unpredictable. Perhaps nothing could have
been more unexpected this season than the Las Vegas Flamingos owning the
best record in the Ozzie League one-third of the way through this
season, and yet here we are.
Vegas owns a .607 record after two
chapters of play, and owns a comfortable six-game lead over the South
Loop Furies. The Furies own a .500 record, and trail in the OL wildcard
race by just four games...yet, GM Bart Chinn has evidently thrown in the
towel. By trading Madison Bumgarner to the Joplin Miners, Chinn has
signaled that he's effectively quit the race for the Benes Division
title, leaving Las Vegas free and clear to run away with the division.
There is one important caveat to all of
the above: the Flamingos have been outscored by their opponents this
year! Of the four teams in the Benes Division, only the Akron Ryche (+9)
have outscored their opponents. Vegas is at -5 after two chapters of
play, and own a mind-numbing Pythagorean differential of +7! The reason
for all of this is an astounding record of 14-5 in one-run games. You
would think this is something that wouldn't be sustainable, and yet I
wrote the same thing last chapter, and Vegas proceeded to go 7-5 in
one-run games in Chapter Two, including two one-run wins against my very
own Salem Cowtippers!
How can this story end, other than a
division title for the Las Vegas Flamingos? South Loop just quit the
race. The Ravenswood Infidels quit that same race long ago. That leaves
only the division- (and OL-) champion Akron Ryche as the lone contenders
in the Benes Division. Akron "improved" to 14-14 in Chapter Two after a
disastrous 10-18 showing in Chapter One. They have more than enough time
to get into this race, but they are now looking at a double-digit
(10-game) deficit in the division. We've seen teams overcome such a
deficit before. It could happen again.
Story #5: No One Ever Really Dies
Listen, we all saw The Emperor get
tossed over the railing and fall down that bottomless pit to his death
at the end of Return of the Jedi. We all saw it. But then Disney
came along and proceeded to gaslight the entire Star Wars fandom by
claiming that never happened. All because that asswipe Rian Johnson
decided to kill off the bad guy in the previous movie, leaving the
franchise without a villain. C'mon, man.
Johnson's only goal as director,
evidently, was to subvert expectations. Perhaps Rian Johnson is actually
directing this year's BDBL season. It would explain so much, wouldn't
it? If that were true, then at least we could blame him for the return
of the BDBL's own Emperor, Tom DiStefano. As it stands, it appears only
I am to blame for that.
The Allentown Ridgebacks currently sit
atop Jim Doyle's pointless and redundant "Power Ranking" by virtue of
their league-best +66 runs differential. They are one of only three
teams in the BDBL that has scored 300 or more runs after two chapters of
play. They also own the OL's third-best ERA despite a starting rotation
that, up until this past chapter, included the likes of Kevin Gausman,
Joe Musgrove, JA Happ, and the hollowed-out shell of Corey Kluber.
This past chapter, of course, The
Emperor added Chris Sale (2-1, 2.49 ERA as a Ridgeback) in a deal with
the Ravenswood Infidels that, in light of The Trade, now looks like a
gross over-payment. Despite his mediocre projection, Gausman (4-0, 2.33
ERA in 27 IP) is having a phenomenal season. He owes almost all of his
success to this strange anomaly:
vs. RH, proj: .260/.311/.414
vs. RH, BDBL: .164/.176/.269
What strange bug in the software could
possibly explain how a pitcher could surrender an OPS that is over 300
points lower than his projected OPS? Only the geniuses behind Diamond
Mind Baseball know the answer to that riddle.
Unlike the performance of Allentown's
pitchers, their offensive dominance is no surprise. Aaron Judge
(.304/.406/.613), George Springer (.283/.368/.509), Matt Olson
(.265/.336/.525), and Giancarlo Stanton (.269/.324/.622) are all doing
exactly what we thought they would.
Meanwhile, the second-place Los Altos
Undertakers (boy, does that sound strange!) are trailing closely behind
in the Griffin Division race. They own the third-best record in the
Ozzie League, and trail just one game behind Allentown in that race.
Their problem, all season, has been
pitching. The Undertakers rank just ninth in the OL in ERA. Their
starters have contributed only 23 quality starts -- the third-lowest
total in the Ozzie. As mentioned above, Gerrit Cole finally turned his
season around, but Shane Bieber (3-6, 6.72 ERA in 72+ IP!) continues to
inexplicably struggle. He posted a 6.44 ERA in Chapter Two and allowed
10 homers in only 36+ innings. Compare his numbers against right-handers
vs. RH, proj: .230/.261/.373
vs. RH, BDBL: .324/.343/.553
Regression eventually came for Cole.
Will it come for Bieber as well?
Story #6: The Wild Wilkie Division
Unless I am forgetting something, Adam
Miner is the first person to ever take over a first-place team in the
BDBL mid-season. He was welcomed into the league on March 26th after
former owner Don Swearingen disappeared. At the time, the Saints owned
an 18-10 record, which led the Wilkie Division by three games. With the
robot manager still at the helm, the Saints went 14-14 in Chapter Two,
and were outscored by seven runs.
The Niagara Locks, who went an
astounding 9-19 in Chapter One, and were outscored by nearly 50 runs in
that chapter, rebounded to an 18-10 record in Chapter Two, and outscored
their opponents by nearly 40 runs.
The Highland Freedom, who also went
9-19 in Chapter One, and were outscored by 36 runs, went 16-12 in
Chapter Two, and outscored their opponents by nearly 30 runs.
Lastly, the South Carolina Sea Cats
went 15-13 with a +30 runs differential in Chapter One, and then fell to
12-16 in Chapter Two (-18 differential.)
Will the real Saints/Locks/Sea
Cats/Freedom please stand up?! I mean...these are the same exact teams,
two chapters apart, and yet each and every one of them had two
completely polar-opposite chapters!
As it currently stands, all four teams
are separated by seven games, making this the most competitive division
in the BDBL. The Saints still lead by five games, but the other three
teams are hardly out of the race. Only the Freedom has labeled 2021 as a
Miner is the only GM in this group that
has made a significant trade so far. The Saints added Willie Calhoun
(.267/.315/.452) to the lineup, and Colin Poche (4.70 ERA in 30+ IP) and
Jake Diekman (5.79 ERA in 18+) to the bullpen in a deal with the
division-rival Highland Freedom. Carolina also added Alex Wood (0-3,
4.63 ERA in 23+ IP) from the Kansas Law Dogs this past chapter.
Where this race goes from here is
anyone's guess. Throw all four team names into a hat and draw them out
at random. The actual order in which these teams will finish seems just
Story #7: From White Flag to Checkered Flag
John Gill famously waved the white flag
long before the 2021 season began. His team defiantly un-waved that flag
in Chapter One by posting a 21-7 record with the BDBL's best runs
differential (+63). They weren't nearly as defiant in Chapter Two, going
just 14-14 while getting out-scored by their opponents. Fortunately for
Black Sox fans (those poor bastards), no one else in the Hrbek Division
performed any better.
One-third of the way through the 2021
season, Chicago owns a comfortable seven-game lead ahead of the
Charlotte Mustangs and a double-digit lead over the Cleveland Rocks and
lowly Myrtle Beach Hitmen. The Black Sox lead the BDBL in runs scored,
batting average, on-base percentage, and home runs. The completely
depleted Chicago pitching staff ranks near the bottom of the league in
ERA (4.44), but that is hardly an issue given the performance of the
Story #8: Trader Joe
In his first season at the helm of the
Lake Norman Monsters franchise, Joe Demski is pulling out all the stops
to remain competitive in the highly-competitive Griffin Division. Demski
made four trades this past chapter in an effort to bolster his team as
we head toward the second half of the season.
Yasiel Puig (.288/.357/.388) will soon
replace someone named Yonathan Daza (.222/.243/.319) in the Lake Norman
lineup. Adam Eaton (.284/.376/.418) and Asdrubal Cabrera
(.253/.293/.421) will also wedge themselves into that lineup somewhere.
The biggest addition is (or should be) Manny Machado (hitting just
.209/.264/.424!), who will presumably take over for Paul DeJong
The Monsters also added Ken Giles (7.71
ERA!) in a deal with the Kansas Law Dogs, in the hope that he turns his
season around in a radical way.
While the .500 South Loop Furies are
bailing out of their race, and the .625 Chicago Black Sox are winning in
spite of their preseason intentions, and the .554 Joplin Miners can't
figure out whether they're coming or going, it's refreshing to see a
last-place team make such bold moves to become more competitive.
The Monsters are only two games below
.500. They have two teams ahead of them in the division that own two of
the three best records in the Ozzie League. It seems like a long shot
for Lake Norman to gain enough ground in that race for the second-place
finish they'd need to win the wildcard. But at least they're taking a