Zion Nuclear Gnatts Season Review
Pre draft reflection:
I had just won the coveted Spit Cup with the Black River Falls Anti Arctic
Cats. The philosophy behind that team was raw power & on base average.
They had some base running speed but were definitely driven with power.
Glaus, Guerrero, Ramirez, Hill, Klesko, Edmonds, Chuck J.
But BaRF was handicapped with a redheaded stepchild pitching staff. There
were some pluses on the staff yet oh so many negatives. Randy Johnson and
his mullet was their leader. Not much of a starting staff after him. He
pitched extremely well down the stretch and was the winning pitcher in
game 5 of the World Series - our final game. Ray King led the relief core.
High grade. Very little games. Very little innings. He pitched the final
inning of the series - leaving a runner stranded on 3rd while pitching the
final out. Those were the only good pitchers. Benitez, Shetter, Colon,
Burba, Heredia, Kohlmeier etc we all know the names - not too much to brag
Some how I managed. Luck of the dice. Hot at the right time. Figured out
how to win with my team. I don't know. All I know is that the team with
the tons of power, high on base pct and a bastard pitching staff somehow
managed to achieve the coveted Grail.
So with that in mind I decided to scrap my lifelong 'might is right' and
draft a fantastic staff. Z's, G's and +3's [of course, there are no
starting pitchers that have those three peripherals - four relievers Mesa,
Patterson, Vosberg (H) and Lorenzo Barcelo (H) and Vosberg and Barcelo
didn't make any sense to select]. The offensive strategy would be
something of some power, good average, great base running speed with high
stealing pct guys. All this, without managing to leave serious holes in my
Anyways, everyone can see how the draft went. At the end, all of my
players could run OK and steal efficiently (except Gonzo shouldn't steal)
and some proficiently. Even both catchers. The only single digit base
runner in my everyday lineup was Sweeney (8). I thought I had created a
good bench with plenty of pinch runners, some pop and no poor defensive
players. Hollandsworth could even fill in for Walker and could bat in the
middle of the lineup while Larry misses the 20 games. Oh, and by the way,
at the time a neutral Steve Swinea suggested that I select Mesa at the
time I did. Thank you Steve.
I ended up with one Z on the staff. Yikes! Red flags all around. 3 W's! I
did have some solace in the fact that the league hits and runs so much
that some walks are eliminated and that this season did not have a lot of
huge walk guys. Bonds yes. Some others sure. But not too many teams could
string together a bunch of 100 base on ball guys as had been the case in
some recent seasons. Fortunately, my entire staff except '3 and out
Hampton' and 'I think I will allow some unearned runs Van Poppel' had G
home run rating and Nelson an H.
Strangest season to date. I moved. No Country Club. Chris had no computer.
I really wasn't connected for some time. Never thought anything would
finish and the kicker; no Steve. Steve I hope you are in the league
forever. I feel that it is great that you had a heart to heart with Taz.
But, if anyone on could play 5 seasons without letting his wife know it
would be you.
Anyways. Bob gets off to a great start. We are playing games. Oddly, at
the 40 game mark I am asked if I will make any Free Agent moves. I hadn't
even thought about it and make no changes.
Eventually, I move to Colorado. The league pretty much comes to a halt and
I am stuck on 70 games. Slow moving. I am doing this stupid temp paper
route job and my sleep and evenings are all screwed up and I have no
rhythm to my days/nights. Fortunately, I get to Graham's house and get 10
in against Graham and Matt. Back in the saddle.
Some key games get my team going. Game 88 - facing the Dogs. Shumpert hits
a grand slam against Stanton and a 5-2 deficit turns into a 8-5 win. Game
91. Huge series - against Chris. I don't remember how many games separated
us but it wasn't that much. Savoy is up 8-1 in the third. I get one in the
5th. In the 7th, Craig Wilson hits a grand slam and my team rides the
momentum and wins the game 10-8. I manage to win the series 8-2 and create
some serious separation between our teams.
Vs Bob. I struggled against him all season 5-15. Fortunately, Alomar and
Ichiro decide that they don't want to get on base in the same manner as
they had all season and Bob's offense is shut down. I advance.
Vs Chris. 12-9 against him in the regular season. I felt I had the best
starting staff going into the playoffs as Hampton was not required to
pitch and Wood was only there to pitch game 4 of each series. The rest
would be done by my big 3 Zito, Garcia and Ortiz. I felt comfortable with
each on the mound.
I win 4 games to three coming back amazingly four times in game 7. During
that game -three times in extra innings.
Some things still amaze me about the 7th game. No hit thru 7. 4 comebacks.
Of all people, Jose Cruz gets three clutch hits. Eric Chavez commits his
first error of the season during the 7th game of the Series.
Eric Chavez and Jose Cruz
These two were going to be the subject of whatever I wrote as most of the
season I would sit and wonder why they were selected. Both have terrible
on base percentages. Neither did much most of the season. Cruz was
stealing some bases but was never really on first to steal. Then all of a
sudden Cruz hits 8 home runs in a ten game series against Keith and his
stats didn't look all that horrible.
4th CF selected. I debated whether to take him or Cameron. I did not like
Cameron's SA-3 but did like his OF-3 32 arm. I selected Cruz based on his
XBH. At the time of the writing compared to other CF he finished 2nd in
runs scored. 3rd in RBI. Tied for 1st in HR. 2nd in steals. Bernie
Williams scored more runs but he had Berkman and Sosa hitting behind him
not Chavez and Cabrera. So, in my mind, Cruz has somehow done himself
justice. He managed to score runs from the 6th spot in the lineup.
I actually had him batting 6th and Cruz 7th for most of the first half of
the season. I switched them because I did not want the lefty SA-5's
(Klesko) back to back. I don't know if it had any large overall affect on
my team but I did it anyways. In the beginning of the draft, I had wanted
Rolen, Chavez or Glaus. Rolen was the ideal but it did not work out. I
debated between Glaus's OBP and Power and Chavez's Power and defense.
Chavez was cruising along at about .210 .260 .405 - started hitting a
little and finished at .233 .276 .445. He was the in the middle of the
pack of third basemen offensively.
His justification. He was hands down the best defensive thirdbaseman. Gold
Glove. 26 DP's. Zero Errors. Rolen was closest to him and had 7 errors.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. One error though. I selected Lankford instead of
Devon White - for some reason I missed White and Keith jumped on him. Oh
well. In my final series against Keith, White hit a walk off home run
against me and Lankford hit one against him - fair enough. Lankford hit 3
home runs. All three were walkoff homers.
Ultra flexibility. 3 catchers. 5 1B. 4 2B. 6 SS. 4 3B. 4 CF. 9 OF. Center
field games were limited but whoever was playing there I had no plans of
pinch running, hitting etc. Wilson, Shumpert and Lankford did most of the
PH. Not the greatest but I think they did fine in the end.
McLemore and the middle infielderman march
For some reason when he was drafted, I think some GM's were under the
impression that he was going to play SS. In a thin selection of 2B, he was
selected to lead off and play 2B for his 125 games. He has been a joy.
Multi positional. 124 2b, 11 SS 14 OF. Pure fun.
McLemore and Cruz had the same MLB rc/g 6.8. Mack has a much higher rc/g
in the SL (6.1 to 4.8) but finished with 5 less runs scored than Cruz in
10 less PA.
Player PA's GIDP SB CS
Cabrera 604 1 16 7
McLemore 576 0 53 10
Shumpert 221 0 21 5
Graffanino 86 0 5 2
Sanchez 8 0 17 1
The above logged every inning on my team at middle infield. A grand total
of 1 GIDP.
No Z's exept for Mesa. 3 W's. Everyone actually pitched better than I
expected. Zito, Ortiz and Garcia logged a lot of innings with 13,17 and 12
wins respectively. Starting staff led the league in HR/9 1.31. Relief
staff led the league in HR/9 1.02. The team led 1.21 HR/9- the rest of the
league was bunched together between 1.45 and 1.63. 4.0 BB/9 was by far the
worst. Fortunately, my staff was keeping the ball in the ballpark.
3rd in defense. 2nd in ERA. 2nd in Runs Scored. 3rd in run differential
(behind Savoy and Gretna). 3rd in runs scored 7+ inning or later.
Who will know what will be in store for next season. I always look forward
to the next season. I am the two time defending champ and may be the
target of others.
Good luck to all! Happy drafting!