Get Busy Playing or Get Busy Dying

Shungnak Redemption 70 Game Report

After the 2002 SL season, I must admit I had my own private doubts about the future of the SL. I knew that it would be impossible for me to walk away from the league, but I thought that it was highly possible that the league would be going defunct in a very short time. It seemed as though the league had fallen a few spots lower on everyone's priority list, and that playing games was becoming an added burden to everyone's already busy lives. The SL, in the best of times, is supposed to be exactly the opposite-- a pleasant release from the daily grind. So how were we going to make a change for the better?

In an e-mail late in the 2002 season, written perhaps a few days after I unloaded a lot of my frustrations in a profane and competely inappropriate league-wide e-mail (you guys remember the one), I suggested that there was nothing broken about the SL that a high-speed internet connection and less procrastination wouldn't fix. I can recall Matt agreeing with me, suggesting that procrastination was indeed the greatest threat to the SL. Well, in 2003 it seems as though we have fixed that problem quite well. In fact, things have been moving so fast I didn't even have time to write a 40 game report. Congrats to everyone on scheduling and playing games so aggressively. I get the feeling everyone is having more fun so far moving at a more regular (but less mentally taxing) pace. Also, it is amusing to watch people fight over playing games on a given night.

Now, how about talking some baseball? After all, 2003 has been a great year so far for the Redemption. Following the format of last year's season review, I will discuss throwing the ball, hitting the ball, and catching the ball.

Throwing the Ball

Last year's team had really bad pitching, causing me to rethink both my drafting priorities and my managing philosophy going in to 2003. I could see as I scouted the league that there was good pitching depth, but I also knew that I couldn't wait and hope that adequate pitchers would slide to me in favor of a more offense-oriented draft. That formula led last year's franchise to disaster. So I decided to try and grab value when it was available, rather than wait for roughly the same type of player to come back around. How did I do?

Hudson (8th overall pick, 5th starter taken):  6-4, 4.26 era, 5 complete games, 1.07 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, 5.8 K/9
Groom (11th overall pick, 2nd reliever taken):  6-3, 11 saves, 1.50 era, 1.17 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 6.8 K/9
Holmes (44th overall pick, 10th reliever taken):  3-4, 4 saves, 3.65 era, 1.95 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, 8.5 K/9
Ohka  (62nd overall pick, 21st starter taken):  2-2, 3.77 era, 2 complete games, 1.26 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9, 4.5 K/9
Witasik  (98th overall pick, 21st reliever taken):  6-3, 0 saves, 3.00 era, .64 HR/9, 3.2 BB/9, 6.2 K/9
Wolf  (101st overall pick, 26th starter taken):  5-3, 3.54 era, 0 complete games, .73 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
At this point in the draft, I had three starters and three relievers. All Z rated, except for Wolf. All have G home run ratings, except for Ohka and Wolf. So far, the won-loss record of this group is 28-19. I am feeling pretty good about their performance. You can see that I did pretty well to get Wolf 39 picks after Ohka, since only 4 other starters went in that gap. One interesting thing about this group is that the era seems to go up in adverse order to what you might expect, since Hudson is doing worse than Ohka and Ohka is doing worse than Wolf. I have a couple theories on why this is happening that I will elaborate on after the season. The rest of my pitchers look like this:

Mussina  (137th overall pick, 30th starter taken):  2-6, 4.78 era, 0 compete games, 1.27 HR/9, 3.1 BB/9, 6.6 K/9
Guardado  (172nd overall pick, 41st reliever taken):  3-0, 3 saves, 2.74 era, 1.57 HR/9, 2.9 BB/9, 7.6 K/9
Marte  (190th overall pick, 47th reliever taken):  1-1, 1 save, 6.39 era, 1.74 HR/9, 5.8 BB/9, 8.4 K/9
Smoltz  (193rd overall pick, 48th reliever taken):  4-1, 1 save, 4.04 era, 1.06 HR/9, 2.3 BB/9, 7.9 K/9
Reitsma  (227th overall pick, final starter taken):  2-3, 5.86 era, 2 complete games, 1.77 HR/9, 2.7 BB/9, 4.5 K/9
This group is a little more suspect, as one might expect, but so far their won-loss record is 12-11. Still over .500, which is OK. Marte and Smoltz lack the Z rating, but Smoltz does have the G home run grade. Again, I did OK to get Mussina 36 picks after Wolf, since only 3 starters went in that gap. I really waited too long to draft another reliever after Witasik, since 19 relievers went in the 74 picks in between Witasik and Guardado. You can see that Marte has been wild and that Holmes is giving up too many home runs. Otherwise, my pitchers are doing a great job for me.

After 70 games, I am second in the SL in team era at 3.96. I have 9 complete games, which is fewer than everyone except Bob. I have no pitchers with shutouts. I do have 20 saves, however, which is second-best in the league. If I can overcome some overusage issues during the second half, I feel pretty good about my pitching staff.

Hitting the Ball

I get the feeling from listening to other people talk about their teams that nobody feels like they are scoring enough runs in 2003. This makes sense given the good pitching that is available, and I feel pretty much the same way. I also feel that if I can score a few runs for my pitchers, I can win. In 70 games, I have scored more than 5 runs 24 times. My record in those games is 21-3. I also have been involved in 21 games decided by one run. That is 30 percent of my games. At one point during the season, I actually played 6 games in a row that were decided by one run. No wonder Groom is getting so much work. I always feel like I have a shot to win the game. I have lost by more than 2 runs only 13 times.

At the present time, I am averaging 4.5 runs a game, good for 6th in the league. My usual lineup is:

Jeter  .294 OBP, .316 SLG, 35 runs, 12 steals
Alfonzo  .315 OBP, .391 SLG, 33 runs, 8 home runs
Edmonds  .381 OBP, .587 SLG, 41 runs, 17 home runs, 55 RBI
Sosa  .292 OBP, .391 SLG, 14 home runs (only 21 total extra base hits), 42 RBI, 77 strikeouts
Delgado  .321 OBP, .495 SLG, 11 home runs, 31 RBI, 11 HBP
Salmon  .339 OBP, .419 SLG, 20 doubles, 6 home runs, 20 RBI, 33 strikeouts, 32 walks
Kielty  .316 OBP, .452 SLG, 10 home runs, 17 RBI  (yes...this is correct)
Pierzynski  .221 OBP, .269 SLG, 2 home runs, 11 RBI
Kennedy  .308 OBP, .443 SLG, 31 runs, 16 doubles, 10 steals, 22 RBI
Two additional guys also play a lot but with very different results:

Loretta  .374 AVG, .425 OBP, .634 SLG, 14 doubles, 6 home runs, 23 RBI in 137 plate appearances
Mabry   .194 AVG, .214 OBP, .316 SLG, 3 home runs, 12 RBI in 159 plate appearances
Typing these numbers out this way is helpful if only because I am going to look at some lineup changes for the second half of the season. Like getting Mabry and Pierzynski out of the lineup.

Obviously, my lineup needs some work. But I wanted to take a second to comment on Jeter before moving on to fielding. I drafted him high because he could steal bases as an E35. So far he has been caught stealing on 6 of 18 attempts, which is way too many, but that is beside the point. I liked the idea of having him at the top of the lineup and then using Alfonzo's hit and run 3 to get him over and boost Alfonzo's average. Jeter has been on base around 92 times this year, scoring 35 runs. That means he scores about 38 percent of the time he gets on base. Is that good? I don't know. Let's see.

Edmonds has been on base 105 times and has scored 41 times, a 39 percent rate. Kennedy scores 49 percent of the time he gets on base, Delgado 42 percent, Alfonzo 40 percent. Kielty is just below Jeter at 37 percent, Sosa scores 35 percent of the time, Salmon 27 percent. Pierzynski doesn't get on base or score. However, it would appear that there is nothing extraordinary about my daily double of Jeter and Alfonzo. We are not getting Jeter on, getting him over, then getting him in. In addition, Alfonzo is currently batting .68 points below his MLB average. He is not getting the "boost" that I recall him getting for Greg a couple years ago.

Catching the Ball

Kind of like my season review, at this point I am getting pretty sick of writing. However, since I am leading the league in fielding percentage and double plays, I should be pretty happy about my fielding, which I am. My opponents are stealing bases against me successfully about 71.6 percent of the time. This is a little bit high, especially since most of my pitchers have good moves, but then again, Pierzynski isn't going to be playing any more so I should be OK. Outfield secret weapon Tim Salmon has 10 assists, but also has 4 errors. Mondesi has 5 assists in about 1/4th as many innings. So he is good, which we knew.


Overall, I feel very good about my 40-30 start. This is especially true given that only 21of my remaining 92 games are against teams that currently have a winning record. I say "currently" because anything can happen, and I am still less than halfway through the schedule. I do feel good, however, which is better than feeling bad. And better than having no hope at all, like last year's team. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.