League Updates Uncategorized

The World Turned Upside-Down

Consider these names:

Jesse Winker
Mookie Betts
Aledmys Diaz
Giancarlo Stanton
Jose Altuve
Josh Donaldson

Now consider these names:

Joe Panik
Rougned Odor
Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Tommy Pham
Robbie Grossman
Kyle Lewis

If you were building an EFL fantasy team, and I offered you either the first list or the second list for one of your expansion picks (and salaries were not an issue), which list would you pick?   

Sure, Kyle Lewis is a fun player. And is Lourdes the Gurriel who was hot at the plate earlier this season?  And Ben and I once saw Joe Panik play for the Volcanoes when he was their super-prospect stud (he went 0 for the day).  Tommy Pham, Robbie Grossman, Rougned Odor — this group has an aura of disappointment and decay about it. 

It would be hard to find a better outfield than Winker, Betts, Stanton.  Donaldson and Altuve are still elite infielders, and Diaz could ably fill a utility role.  It’s an easy pick. 

Except yesterday, Joe Panik was the best hitter in baseball, according to Baseball Reference, because he went 4 for 4 with a homer.  And the rest of his group were the 2nd through the 6th best, combining to go 12 for 18 with four homers, three doubles, and four walks. 

And Josh Donaldson was the worst at the plate yesterday because he went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts and a GDP.   Jose Altuve was next-worst, going 0 for 6 with 2 k’s.  And the rest of that group were numbers 207 through 204 on the BR hitters list for Friday, May 28, 2021, going a combined  0 for 22 with 7 strikeouts.  

Sometimes the gold lies at the bottom of them thar hills.

EFL Standings for 2021
Old Detroit Wolverines 37 15 .711 303.4 193.4
Haviland Dragons 36 17 .687 1.1 251.4 170.5
Peshastin Pears 36 16 .683 1.4 241.2 164.2
Kaline Drive 35 18 .654 2.8 261.1 189.5
D.C. Balk 30 14 .677 3.2 226.8 156.9
Flint Hill Tornadoes 33 19 .640 3.6 234.1 177.0
Canberra Kangaroos 25 19 .570 7.9 242.2 211.9
Cottage Cheese 27 24 .522 9.8 288.3 283.5
Pittsburgh Alleghenys 24 25 .489 11.5 240.0 243.6
Portland Rosebuds 25 27 .480 12 254.9 265.3
Bellingham Cascades 22 27 .449 13.5 198.6 223.3
Bellingham: DNP, 3 – (-1). (14 PA, .375, .643, .375;  1 IP, 0 ER, 0.00 ERA).  It would be a perfect fit for my upside-down, first-shall-be-last theme if the Cascades had the best day in the league.  They did not.  But they had the most amazing day I’ve seen, in a way.  They sent 5 men to the plate.  Two reached base safely every time (once), Rowdy Tellez with a walk and the legendary former Wolverine Jacob Nottingham via a hit by pitch.  Lane Thomas worked two walks. DJ LeMahieu got a single and a walk.  And Corey Dickerson got two singles and a walk in 3 plate appearances — on which Baseball Reference totally whiffed by ranking it only 33rd best despite its 1.000 OBP.  
Altogether, the Cascades got 3 hits — all singles — and 6 free passes (5 walks, 1 hbp) which is how they assembled that freakish camel-backed batting line, dominated by an amazing OBP in a way I don’t ever remember seeing before.  It earned Bellingham “only” a 0.2 game gain on first place, but it earns style points galore. 
Portland:  W, 8 – 1.  (22 PA, .368, .455, .737; 6.7 ip, 0.00 ERA).  The Rosebuds took a more conventional approach to offensive excellence… but they, also, got all five of their hitters to base safely.  Four of the five doubled, with Tyler O’Neill adding a homer and Jorge Polanco adding a single and a walk. The non-doubler, Andrew Benintendi, singled and walked.  Put that together with Adbert Wee Hing Alzolay!! (not his real name) and his 5.7 shutout innings, and you have a 0.6-game gain on first place (the best in the league) and an erasure of 40% of the distance to .500. 
Pittsburgh:  DNP, (-4) – (-1).  (17 PA, .125, .176, .125;  2 ip, 0 er, 0.00 ERA).  The Alleghenys won’t fit nicely into the upside-down narrative today.  Which is ok, because it confirms I am not just making this up.  Jorge Soler got both Allegheny hits (singles) while Max Muncy expressed his avuncular excellence by walking. Two relievers put an excellent pitching sticker on the team’s daily display,                                                                                                                                         
Cottage:  “W”, 5 – 5. (11 PA, .182, 182, .455;  9 IP, 5 ER, let’s see, that makes, ummm… a 5.00 ERA!) Alex Verdugo cracked a homer to highlight the Cheese’s day.  Shohei Ohtani pitched without hitting this time, which threw him off his game a little (6 ip, 3 er).  Cody Stashak was off his game a little more (2 ip, 2 er).  The Cheese worked all this for a near tie (4.9 – 5.0) and no perceptible change in winning percentage or games behind first. 
Canberra:  DNP, 1- (-1).  (24 PA, .250, .375, .500;  5 ip, 1 er, 1.80 ERA).  Kyle Tucker doubled twice and walked in 6 plate appearances, and Mitch Garver hit another homer to give the ‘Roos that perfect stair-step batting line.  Casey Mize was in harmony, pitching a hemi-decimal 5 innings and permitting a deci-decimal 1 earned run.  The Cannies matched the Cheesy stability in games-behind-first, but sneaked in a 0.003 improvement in winning percentage. 
Flint Hill: DNP, (-4) – (-1).  (35 PA, .143, .225, .143;  11.4 ip, 3 er, 2.37 ERA). The Tornados took advantage of east-coast-nasty-weather day off to bask in the Oregon gentle sunshine  — and to take a nip off the team’s May ERA behind Sean Manaea’s excellent 6.7 ip,  1 er performance.   Unfortunately, the Tornadic hitters did not use the day as well.  They racked up plenty of plate appearances despite the rain-truncated schedule, but they only found 5 hits, all singles, two of them from Teoscar Hernandez.  
The day featured a face-off between the Flinty Anthony DeSclafani and the Oldie Walker Buehler.  DeSclafani won the match-up.  Not so much in pitching (4.7 ip, 2 earned runs) as hitting.  DeSclafani batted twice, and notched a sacrifice bunt to rank 140th out of 209 hitters yesterday.  Buehler did the same, except he also struck out to rank only 151st.  Those are modest rankings, to be sure, but they are better than Vladdy Jr., Nate Lowe, Max Muncy, Gavin Lux, Xander Bogaerts, JP Crawford, Rafael Devers, Alex Kiriloff, Nomar Mazara, and the notorious six I mentioned at the top of this post. 
DC:  W 1, L (-1), 5 – 0.  (31 PA, .364, .548, .727;  5 ip, 2 er, 3.60 ERA). The Balk gained 0.4 games on first place with a fine all-round day, especially among the hitters.  The aforementioned Bogaerts failed to reach base safely, but he was the only laggard in that regard.  Five of the other seven batters doubled, six of them walked (three of them twice) and Jorge Alfaro blasted the only Balkan homer.  There were 8 hits total (only 2 of them singles) and 9 walks.  Martin Perez provided solid pitching for 5 innings, and the Balk wound up the day in 5th place. 
Kaline: W, 4 – 3. (31 PA, .241 .290, .483;  4 ip, 2 er , 4.50 ERA).  The Drive maintained its (their?) .654 winning percentage, and inched 0.1 games closer to first, by adequate work on both offense and pitching.  Dinelson Lamet was a bit rocky on the mound, going only 3 innings with 2 earned runs allowed, but Mark Melancon added a scoreless inning to bring the daily ERA down into respectable territory.   Kyle Lewis led the offense with a double and a homer and Hunter Renfroe added two doubles, covering for Jesse Winker’s dismal day (0 for 5).
Peshastin:  “W”, 3 – 4. (14 PA, .231, .286, .231;  5 ip, 2 er, 3.60 ERA). Justus Sheffield pitched well, but the 4 Pear hitters did not match his performance.  They all reached base safely, but none of them more than once, and none of them for more than one base.   Peshastin’s winning percentage slipped 0.005 points, and their distance from first place increased by a single 0.1 game notch.
Haviland:  L, 1 – 3. (27 PA, .080, .148, ,080;  1 ip, 0 er, 0.00 ERA).          The Dragons joined the Tornados and the Alleghenys in approximately a three way tie for the worst day in the league. That batting line stands out. Nelson Cruz doubled in 4 trips to the plate, Joc Pederson walked in 4 trips, Gio Urshela walked in 5 trips, and Jake Cronenworth singled in 6 trips. Thus the team’s four leading hitters combined to go two for 19 with two walks and a double:  .105, .191, .159.  The rest of the team went 0 for 8.  
That one scoreless inning from Chad Green kept the Dragons from having clearly the worst day.  Even so, Haviland slipped .3 games further from first.
Old Detroit:  DNP, (-2) – (-2). (36 PA, .148, .361, .148;  7 ip 1 er, 1.29 ERA).  Walker Buehler couldn’t quite match Anthony DeSclafani’s hitting, but he did have a better day pitching:  6 ip, 1 er.  And every bit of that good outing was needed for the Wolverines to eke out a tie score on their day off.  Wolverine hitters, critiqued in these pages just two days ago for hoarding the supply of major league offense, took their turns finding the cupboards bare. Only four singles were available, although 9 walks kept at bay the wolves baying around the Wolverines.  
That third single was a pleasant surprise this morning.  When I last checked the box scores last night, Jurickson Profar had just made the last out of the top of the 10th inning, making his line 0 for 5.  After I went to bed Profar started the 11th as the ghost runner on second.  He scored two batters later, giving the Padres their winning run.  But the Pads kept hitting, as they often do, and Profar came to the plate for his sixth time in the game, with two out and runners on second and third.  He singled on the first pitch, driving in the last two of the Padres’  seven 11th innings runs.  One for six is a stinky batting line, but somehow it feels different this time. 
Combined MLB + EFL Standings for 2021
AL East
Old Detroit Wolverines 37 15 .711
Flint Hill Tornadoes 33 19 .640 3.6
Tampa Bay Rays 32 20 .615 4.9
Boston Red Sox 31 20 .608 5.4
New York Yankees 29 22 .569 7.4
Toronto Blue Jays 26 24 .520 9.9
Baltimore Orioles 17 33 .340 18.9
NL East
D.C. Balk 30 14 .677
Canberra Kangaroos 25 19 .570 4.7
New York Mets 24 20 .545 5.8
Atlanta Braves 24 25 .490 8.3
Philadelphia Phillies 25 26 .490 8.3
Miami Marlins 24 27 .471 9.3
Washington Nationals 21 25 .457 9.8
AL Central
Chicago White Sox 29 20 .592
Cleveland Indians 27 22 .551 2
Kansas City Royals 24 25 .490 5
Pittsburgh Alleghenys 24 25 .489 5
Bellingham Cascades 22 27 .449 7
Minnesota Twins 20 30 .400 9.5
Detroit Tigers 20 31 .392 10
NL Central
St. Louis Cardinals 29 22 .569
Chicago Cubs 28 22 .560 0.5
Cottage Cheese 27 24 .522 2.4
Milwaukee Brewers 25 25 .500 3.5
Cincinnati Reds 22 27 .449 6
Pittsburgh Pirates 18 31 .367 10
AL West
Haviland Dragons 36 17 .687
Kaline Drive 35 18 .654 1.8
Oakland A’s 31 22 .585 5.4
Houston Astros 27 23 .540 7.9
Seattle Mariners 25 27 .481 10.9
Los Angeles Angels 22 29 .431 13.4
Texas Rangers 22 31 .415 14.4
NL West
Peshastin Pears 36 16 .683
San Diego Padres 33 19 .635 2.5
Los Angeles Dodgers 31 20 .608 4
San Francisco Giants 31 20 .608 4
Portland Rosebuds 25 27 .480 10.6
Colorado Rockies 19 32 .373 16
Arizona Diamondbacks 18 34 .346 17.5






  • Remember the post several weeks ago — maybe in April — about team nicknames stemming from the city where they play? So the Flint Hills team could be called the Flinties, and the Pittsburgh team the Pities (the latter of which I have refrained from using out of either pity or piety).

    I just realized the San Diego Padres could be the Sandies by this system. That’s super appropriate since their stadium is across the street from the waterfront.

    Even better, the LA Dodgers could be the Ladies. Or the Laddies, I suppose, if the Ladies causes offense, but LAdies keeps the pattern better. There isn’t a good modification available for the LA Angels, although the Lalas would be good in another system. So maybe we tell the truth and use Anaheim to make them the Annies. Or maybe not.

    Colorado’s Collies could really work, especially on bring your dog to the park days.

    The NYY team could be the Newies (befitting their aspiration to rival the Oldies in the AL East), while the Red Sox could be the Bossies.

    The Phillies are already the Phillies.

    Some Toronto fans might be uncomfortable with a team nicknamed the Tories. Some straitlaced Reds fans might not cotton to the Cinnies. I think I’ve heard the Twins called the Minnies before. The Washies could join the Dissees in DC.

    • I think there was once a “big league” team in Worcester, MA. Would they be the Woosies? Or the Worcies?