New York, NY: 61°/48°, mostly cloudy | Vol 1, Issue 2

In this issue: Albers saves… News & previews… Eyewitness account of 18-inning affair… Post-Star Wars Day blowout

 

Matt Albers: Unlikely Savior

PHILADELPHIA – After 434 relief appearances and 102 games finished, Matt Albers finally recorded his first career save against the Phillies on Friday night. With Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover both on the disabled list, the 34-year-old was called upon to hold the 4-2 lead for the Nationals. It was a nervous start, Albers plunking Cesar Hernandez to lead off the inning, but he settled down to strike out Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr before getting Maikel Franco to ground out. He therefore falls three short of catching Ryan Webb on the all-time list of games finished without a save (GFWAS).

“I’m kind of glad it’s over with,” Albers said after the historic game finished with a save. “It’s just one, so it’s not really moving me up the charts too much.” His manager, Dusty Baker, somehow managed to acknowledge the end of the streak while simultaneously demonstrating that he had absolutely no interest in it: “They just informed me that that was his first career save, and he was only a few away from the most appearances, or games finished without a save, or something.”

Effectively Wild‘s long and fanatical connection with the GFWAS record began over three years ago, when it was brought up on episode 406 in March 2014. At the time, Albers led Webb 82-74. Since then, the record has been religiously followed and updated, with Ben Lindbergh even interviewing both men for Grantland; snippets of the discussions also made it onto the end of Effectively Wild episode 717. The two also provided the inspiration for a unique fantasy league, the Webb-Albers Championship.

In the EW Facebook group, a thread reacted to the save as it happened, and here are some notable comments (some were uttered more than once): “He did it!” “End of an era.” “It happened!” “This is our JFK moment. Where were you?!” “Right now he is definitely thinking about that smug asshole who asked him about how he had so many appearances without a save.” “Ben Lindbergh, what do we now? What are we supposed to do?” “It’s 3:30am. How am I supposed to sleep now.”

In the name of posterity, Darius Austin ran a Play Index which showed the career leaders before Albers’ save:

With Albers disappearing from this list, Giants reliever George Kontos and Twins righty Michael Tonkin are the only active players with any real shot at challenging Webb, but even that would require both three or four years of consistent game-finishing and for Webb to remain stuck at 105. Tonkin’s recent designation for assignment certainly won’t help on that front. With the all-time GFWAS leader currently stuck at Giants Triple-A affiliate Sacramento, he’s not currently padding his lead, but nor is he at risk of “doing an Albers” and losing the record altogether.

Shortly after, Ben compiled a leaderboard for most games finished with a single save:

Albers ensured he remained atop this list when, the day after his save, he was given an opportunity for a four-out save, which he immediately blew by giving up a home run. We are all still awaiting guidance on what to do now that Webb vs Albers is over.


Baseball Bulletin

By Daniel R Epstein

The Mets…oh the Mets. They’re…Metsing again:

Players on the move:

Marlins for sale:

Notable injured players include:


What’s Ahead

By Seth Moland-Kovash

  • In the second of a two-game series at the Great American Bandshell Ballpark at Riverfront Stadium™, the Yankees and their AL East-leading 21-9 record face off against the NL Central’s second-place Reds at 17-15. World Series preview? Probably not… but you cannot say that it is definitely not.
  • When the Cubs (16-15 and sitting at THIRD in the NL Central) envisioned an early season road test against the Best in the West, they probably did not have this week’s series against the Rockies circled on their schedule. We know the Rockies were a bit of a popular sleeper pick, but really? Leading the division at 20-12 on May 8? Who had that pegged (other than the Mets – ed.)?
  • This week’s series between the Giants (11-22) and the Mets (15-16) at Citi-Shea Field at Wilpon Park™, on the other hand, may have been circled as an interesting matchup between NL contenders. At this point, this series might best serve as a place where pitching matchup dreams go to die.
  • The late-week series will see some battles for division leadership, including the Dodgers (currently sitting at 18-14) visiting those same Rockies and hoping to take over NL West superiority. Elsewhere, the Twins (yes, the Twins) currently at 15-14 and in second place in the AL Central visit the division leaders and pre-emptive favorites in Cleveland, who currently sit two wins up at 17-14.

Interesting Pitching Matchups:

During each game of the Giants-Mets series, just imagine what could have been the pitching matchup. And cry.


Eyewitness Account: Inning-by-Inning Thoughts from an 18-Inning Baseball Game

By Brandon Lee

1st inning: “If the Cubs give up another first inning run I swear to god”

2nd inning: “It wouldn’t be so bad to watch a full game from out here in the park next to Wrigley”

3rd inning: “The Yankees left fielder watching the Baez home run is going to become a meme”

4th inning: “Something something Joe West. There’s always something with Joe West.”

5th inning: “There’s a point of no return where if I don’t start keeping score, I won’t keep score. That point is probably the third inning. So let me get another beer.”

6th inning: “My Yankee hatred was dormant for a few years, but if this series has made me realize something it’s that yes I still hate the Yankees.”

7th inning: “They should scrap all live 7th inning stretch conductors and go with a combination of recorded videos and cancer survivors.”

8th inning: “I don’t like Justin Grimm here, I don’t like Justin Grimm here, I don’t like Justin Grimm here, I don’t like Justin Grimm here, I don’t…see I told you”

9th inning: “I take immense joy out of knocking Aroldis Chapman out of the game”

10th inning: “Wait when was Aaron Judge pulled for defense? This is what I get for not keeping score”

11th inning: “Why couldn’t Adam Warren pitch this well when he was with the Cubs?”

12th inning: “Coming in 2018: Kyle Schwarber wall-tumble bobblehead doll”

13th inning: “This is when delirium starts to set in. Also everyone has left. Why are we still here?”

14th inning: “FOURTEENTH INNING STRETCH! GIVE ME A TWENTY-FIRST INNING STRETCH OR IT WON’T BE WORTH IT”

15th inning: “The Cubs better win tonight or else we’re screwed against the Rockies AND we have nothing to show for this”

16th inning: “Chasen Shreve is pitching for the Yankees but for a second I thought it was Chasen Sheev who was about to dissolve baseball and take all the power for himself and his apprentice Darth Judge”

17th inning: “Damn it’s the 17th inning and we’re into weird baseball and I haven’t had any ice cream yet”

Top 18th: “FOUND SOME ICE CREAM. #weirdbaseball ice cream in 40 degree weather is the best ice cream”

Bottom 18th: “I don’t want to bike home right now but it’s up to Kyle Hendricks to keep this going until the sun rises. Oh well. See you in hell, Yankees.”


Trailing 30

By Rob Mains

This entry lists the best and worst for the past 30 days of the 2017 regular season, through games of Sunday, May 7. Here is an explanation of this weekly feature.

Comment of the week: The last time I did one of these was at the end of the 2016 season. In that report, the pitcher with the lowest FIP in the American League over the past 30 days was Seattle’s James Paxton. In the report of this year, the pitcher with the lowest FIP in the American League over the past 30 days was Seattle’s James Paxton.

Click here for the full set of stats.

American League
   Team W-L              
1. New York         19- 6
2. Houston          18- 9
3. Baltimore        17-10
4. Boston           15-13
5. Cleveland        14-12

   Batting Average       
1. Castro, NY        .362
2. Cruz, Sea         .361
3. Trout, LA         .359
4. Bogaerts, Bos     .351
5. Judge, NY         .349

   On Base Plus Slugging 
1. Judge, NY        1.318
2. Trout, LA        1.154
3. Hicks, NY        1.140
4. Alsonso, Oak     1.080
5. Cruz, Sea        1.074

   Home Runs             
1. Judge, NY           13
2. Alonso, Oak          9
   Gallo, Tex           9
4. Six with             7
   
   ERA                   
1. Vargas, KC        1.14
2. Paxton, Sea       1.71
3. Santana, Min      1.80
4. Holland, Chi      1.82
5. Carrasco, Cle     2.02

   FIP                   
1. Paxton, Sea       1.42
2. Sale, Bos         1.43
3. Vargas, KC        2.24
4. Triggs, Oak       2.38
5. Morton, Hou       2.71
 
   Strikeouts            
1. Sale, Chi           66
2. Archer, TB          43
   McCullers, Hou      43
4. Darvish, Tex        42
5. Estrada, Tor        41
National League
   Team W-L
1. Washington       18- 9
2. Colorado         16-11
3. St. Louis        15-11
4. Los Angeles      14-12
5. Chi, Cin, Mil    14-13

   Batting Average     
1. Zimmerman, Was    .451
2. Harper, Was       .379
3. Gyorko, SL        .372
4. Freeman, Atl      .371
5. Turner, LA        .360

   On Base Plus Slugging
1. Zimmerman, Was   1.424
2. Freeman, Atl     1.331
3. Harper, Was      1.206
4. Thames, Mil      1.179
5. Gyorko, SL       1.148

   Home Runs
1. Freeman, Atl        11
   Thames, Mil         11
   Zimmerman, Was      11
4. Stanton, Mia        10
5. 2 with               9

   ERA
1. Lynn, SL          1.80
2. Leake, SL         1.95
   Gonzalez, Was     1.95
4. Cole, Pit         2.37
5. Eflin, Phi        2.42

   FIP
1. Anderson, Mil     2.34
2. Nova, Pit         2.53
3. Leake, SL         2.66
4. Strasburg, Was    2.79
5. Greinke, Ari      2.92

   Strikeouts
1. Kershaw, LA         45
2. Scherzer, Was       44
3. deGrom, NY          43
   Greinke, Ari        43
   Ray, Ari            43

Corrections

In our previous issue, the home stadium of the Milwaukee Brewers was misidentified as “Mark Grudzielanek.” It should have read “anterior cruciate ligament.” We regret the error.


Fantasy Update: Star Wars Minute Podcast League

By Mike Carlucci

While some still prefer to celebrate Star Wars Day on May 25, or even November 38, many now choose May the 4th as that special day. With last week’s marketing hype dying down, we decided to throw together some crossover content of our own.

 

What does Star Wars have to do with baseball? Just like with the question, “What happens in a meadow at dusk?” the answer is everything. Or nothing. Maybe both.

There’s a link for us, though, with Ben of Effectively Wild recently appearing on an episode of the Star Wars Minute podcast, in which each episode is devoted to a single minute of the movies (luckily for Ben, his debut came during Attack of the Clones). Before that, he explored the “minute podcast” trend over at The Ringer, and talked SW on his Achievement Oriented gaming podcast.

What Star Wars has to do with fantasy baseball is an entirely separate question. Over at the “Star Wars Minute Listener’s Society” on Facebook, a group of fans decided what better way to celebrate the joint passions than with a new league and a lot of punny names.

(via GIPHY) #wrongshow

The 16 teams quickly split into two divisions: the Prequels and the Originals (Imperials vs Rebels is so passe), based on team names. Some, however, do cross the lines (eg., Goldschmidt Leader, although there was a Gold Leader before Star Wars).

Five weeks in, the Originals are looking like the stronger division: the Prequels have three teams with winning percentages of .350 or below, while the straggler in the OT (Foul Ball Treidum) is at a more robust .400. They’re no Cincinnati Reds but, really, who is?

The team off to the best start so far is Solo Home Run, followed by the San Diego Podrace, Dexter Metsters, Dagobah Dodgers, and Endor Cubs. Because winning the division matters and gets you a spot in the playoffs, it’s good to be at the top.

We all know record doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story, so here are some numbers that may not get their due on the leaderboard. The leader in runs is the Dagobah Dodgers. Homers are tied between Wookie Betts and Dexter Mesters (Dexter is also winning RBI). The top three teams in SB are the Naboo Shaak Attack, Double Header, and Foul Ball Triedum, who you may recall are 11, 12, and 13 out of 16 teams thus far.

Pitching is a little more relevant with the top teams in ERA including the San Diego Podcrace, Solo Home Run, and Dexter Metsters.

Will the scrappy teams filled with Tatooine farmboys be able to challenge the ultimate power in the galaxy? Can you even play baseball in a swamp? And what if Lindor Calrissian played baseball on Bespin? The stadium would have to be a dome, right?

We’ll find out the answers to probably none of these questions as the season continues.

(via GIPHY) Sometimes you need your own Han Solo…


The Lineup Card: Rogue Squadron

By Brian Klein

A lineup consisting of vehicles from the 1998 N64 game, Rogue Squadron:

  1. 2B, A-Wing – Speedy with enough power
  2. SS, X-Wing – All-around good but not flashy
  3. CF, Millennium Falcon – Leader; speed and power
  4. 1B, Y-Wing – Power, no speed
  5. C, V-Wing – Seeking torpedoes, so… accurate arm?
  6. RF, Naboo Starfighter – Agile; strong cannons
  7. 3B, Airspeeder – Stays low and fast to charge the bunt
  8. LF, T-16 Snowspeeder – Fills a roster spot
  9. P, TIE Interceptor – Assumes a bullpen of TIEs and TIE Bombers, with Vader’s TIE as the closer.

Stat Wars

By Jamie Anderson

Baseball enthusiast Emperor Palpatine outside Fenway. (photo by Mike Carlucci)

Baseball is a game where there’s a statistic for everything – even things that happen in a galaxy far, far away. Let’s look at some of them:

“You want to go home and rethink your life” (the Jedi Mind Trick): Boston’s Chris Sale strikes out 37.5% of batters he faces – the Force is clearly strong with him as he tricks batters into swinging! Historically, the batter least likely to be susceptible to the Jedi mind trick of a strikeout is Joe Sewell, who played 14 seasons with the Yankees and Indians and struck out only 114 times in 8,329 PA (1.4%) – perhaps he’s part Hutt?

“Just like bullseyeing womp rats in my T-16 back home”: This is a pitcher who could hit something much smaller than two meters wide – the guy with the most overall strike percentage. You’re probably not shocked to learn that it’s the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, who throws 71% of his pitches for strikes. Next time the Rebel Alliance is looking to stock its X-Wing fleet with inexperienced farmhands, maybe they should turn to Kershaw instead.

“You look strong enough to pull the ears off a Gundark!”: One of the biggest displays of arm strength we see in baseball is the throw-in from the outfield, and, because this is baseball, there’s even a stat to measure it – ARM: outfield arm runs. This stat gives outfielders credit depending on what happens to runners on hit and fly balls. So who could win in a Gundark ear-pulling contest? Yoenis Cespedes of the Mets, who in 2016 saved 7.5 runs according to ARM. It’s unclear how many Gundark ears that’s equivalent to, but we’ll bet it’s a lot.

“The ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs!”: The journey to Kessel requires both speed and movement, so the player most likely to hit that amazing 12 parsec mark is the one who has hit the fastest, farthest home run. Statcast gives us a few options since 2015, but there is one that stands out by far: the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, on August 8, 2016, hit a home run off the Rockies’ Chad Bettis that left the bat at a speed of 115.8 mph and traveled 504 feet. Fittingly, the game was at Coors Field, which simulates the conditions of space better than any other ballpark.

“Going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!”: Luke just wanted hitters who can convert their power: players who have a high BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play, which measures how often a ball in play goes for a hit). A high BABIP usually belongs to players who are fast and don’t hit a lot of fly balls. On the all-time list, you shouldn’t be surprised to see the mighty Ichiro at 5th, whose 2004 season featured a .399 BABIP. Unfortunately for Luke, the famously stoic Ichiro seems unlikely to tolerate whining.

“I used to live here, you know”: In some cities, it’s rare to see a player who grew up in the hometown, while in California, it’s fairly common. What about a player who has played a major role in his team’s lore and is also from that town? Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins is in his 13th year of playing for his hometown team. Hopefully no one reminds him that he’s probably going to die there, you know.

“Never tell me the odds!”: Baseball is a story of defeating the odds, and sometimes there’s an improbable victory (or series of them) In 2007, the Colorado Rockies had been to the playoffs one time in their entire (admittedly-not-very-long) history. When the season started, they had 33:1 odds – third last in the league – to win the National League Pennant. They came into mid-September with a record of 76-72, then proceeded to win 14 of their final 15 regular season games, including a 13-inning, completely insane play-in game against the Padres. They then swept seven games to win the Pennant. I’m not sure what happened after that – history does not record – but this was one of the most improbable stretches of baseball greatness of all time.

“That wizard is just a crazy old man” (in the desert): 88-year-old attempts to charge mound at Rockies Fantasy Camp


Fun Fact of the Week


“Fun” Fact of the Week

Seth Smith is 1 of 2 MLB players to hit a pinch-hit HR in each of his last four seasons.” From the Fenway Park video board, courtesy of Facebook group member Robert Cota.

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