League Updates

The Mental(ist) Side of Baseball


The other day Jamie wrote me an email congratulating me on my EFL championship.  Yesterday he posted what amounted to a concession that the race was over.

Today he sent me a note that said only “come a little bit closer.”  I think it’s a reference to that creepy movie where there’s a clown in the gutter, but I never saw the actual movie, so I’m a little vague about this. 

What is Jamie thinking?  I made my last roster move yesterday morning.  I can no longer influence anything about the Wolverines.  Mind games with the management can no longer affect the outcome. 



EFL Standings for 2021
Old Detroit Wolverines 109 49 .689 907.2 610.1
Flint Hill Tornadoes 104 54 .656 5.2 877.3 631.6
Kaline Drive 98 60 .618 11.2 841.0 661.4
D.C. Balk 96 61 .611 12.4 886.8 708.5
Peshastin Pears 93 65 .587 16.1 795.8 679.5
Canberra Kangaroos 87 70 .556 21.1 840.7 762.6
Cottage Cheese 86 72 .546 22.5 867.5 805.5
Haviland Dragons 84 74 .529 25.3 816.4 796.1
Pittsburgh Alleghenys 83 76 .525 25.8 777.8 736.6
Bellingham Cascades 82 77 .514 27.5 675.6 657.1
Portland Rosebuds 81 77 .514 27.6 855.9 842.2
OLD DETROIT: W, 3 – 2. (52 PA, .208, .269, .313;  6.7 IP, 1 ER, 1.34 ERA). The Wolverines won last night.  In MLB history, every time the leading team has been 5.2 games ahead with 5 games to go that team has won the race.  Wolverine fans should be celebrating.
Sure, the EFL is different.  We covered that already. But the W’s biggest vulnerability is its thin roster of healthy pitchers.   The Oldies got great news on that front: Logan Gilbert pitched very well (5.2 ip, 1 er), and Jonathan Loaisiga came back from the IL unannounced and pitched a perfect scoreless inning. 
Still… once again, the offense was flat.  Yesterday’s roster moves were a big help, since they benched James McCann 100% (0 for 3) and Eloy Jimenez 50% (0 for 4). But the actual players? Some disturbing oddities: 
* The Dodgers won last night, 11 – 9. 
Will Smith batted cleanup and went 0 for 4. 
* The only other Dodger batters —
including 3 pinch hitters — to go 0-fer were PH and impending hall-of-famer Albert Pujols… 
and the Wolverine’s hottest September hitter Gavin Lux,
who not only went 0 for 2 to cut his Sept OPS to .976,
but ran smack into the outfield wall and had to leave the game. 
Corey Bellinger replaced him and homered his next time up.
* And that pitch diagram atop this post? 
That’s Cal Raleigh’s AB for the Mariners in the 5th inning
with a man on first and no one out. 
Here it is again for your convenience:
Note that none of these pitches were strikes until he swung at them.  He could have walked instead of hitting into a force out. This is why Cal Raleigh, who was batting .324, .377, .608 in AAA, 
is going .184, .222, .316 in the big leagues. 
* I should not have to bench Eloy Jimenez 50%.
But he’s only batting .224, .283, .341 this month. 
That’s 3.44 rc/g:   better than replacement,
but the third worst on the team
(after James McCann at 1.92 rc/g,
and Cal Raleigh at 2.33 rc/g). 
I can’t explain all these weird anomalies.  Unless somehow Jamie’s mind games are getting to my players. But that’s impossible. Right?
FLINT HILL: W 2, L (-1), 7 – (-7). (61 PA, .222, .295, .519; 19 ip, 0 er, 0.00 ERA).  19 scoreless innings.
Carlos Rodon, Alex Wood, Nathan Eovaldi: all scoreless starts, for 17 total innings. Bickford and Boxberger: scoreless relief innings.  A total of 21 strikeouts, with only 8 hits and 4 walks. 
This might be the EFL record for scoreless innings pitched in a single day.
The Tornados also hit 4 homers, two by Dante Bichette… but the big story is the pitching.  The only good news: they can’t pitch 19 scoreless innings every day. Right?
KALINE: “W”, 1 – 3. (52 PA, .212, .218, .346;  13.7 ip, 5 er, 3.31 ERA) Max Fried (7 ip, 1 er) and Dinelson Lamet (2.3 ip, 0 er) picked up after Paulo Espine (2 ip, 4 er) to give the Drive a good day of pitching. Hunter Renfroe and Michael Conforto homered, and Akil Baddoo went 2 for 4 with a walk and a stolen base, to generate a run and convince the database this was a win — and solidify the Drive’s hold on 3rd place.
DC: L, 2- 9. (39 PA, .216, .256, .324;  1.7 ip, 2 er, 11.25 ERA).  The Balk got hit with a doubly-whammy yesterday: they got too little pitching (tacking on another 5.3 replacement innings) , and it was pretty bad.  Well, Jose Alvarado was pretty bad: sextuple chulking at 0.3 ip, 2 er. 
Reliable Ryan McMahon tried to salvage the game, hitting a homer, and Santiago Espinal contributed the other Balkan extra base with his double to go with a single. But that’s all there was, far short of a victory when the pitching has donated 9 runs to the other team.  
PESHASTIN: “W”, 3 – 6.  (30 PA, .200, .333, .200; 5.7 ip, 2 er, 3.16 ERA).  Another paltry offense, this time comprising 5 singles and 5 walks and that’s it. OK, that and a Jazz Chisholm stolen base. The pitching would have been pristine, except Chasen Shreve triple chulked: 2/3 of an inning, 2 earned runs. With Jack Flaherty unallocated, that leaves the pitching line at 4.7 ip, 2 er, 3.86 ERA.  Add in 2.3 replacement innings at 7.50 ERA, and you get to within range of 6 runs allowed (taking unearned runs into account). 
Unless the Prime Pear has mentalist talents akin to the Top Tornado’s, the Pears seem locked in to their 5th place spot in the standings through the end of the season.   Right?
CANBERRA: “L”, 6 – 4.  (29 PA, .308, .379, .423;  10.7 ip, 6 er, 5.05 ERA).  Here’s a well-rounded team, with offense good enough top generate wins, and defense good enough to preserve them.  And that’s exactly what  the Kangaroos did… except in the eyes of the EFL database.  Paul Sewald’s scoreless inning was good enough to preserve a crucial Mariners’ win, but it wasn’t enough for our hard-nosed data base. 
The ‘Roos are now exactly 5 games behind the Pears.  Canberra dreams of reaching 5th place are fading — unless the Captain Kangaroo has mind-bending powers akin to the Tornados’.  And if they do have this power, they might want to focus it backward, because…
COTTAGE: “L”, 5 – 3. (39 PA, .278, .308, .389;  10.3 ip, 5.24 ERA) … the Cheese haven’t gone away.  They won, too, by a similar margin (and the database was equally obtuse in not seeing it correctly), so they remain 1.4 games back.  True, that margin looks bigger every day, but it’s not beyond reach by any means. 
Taijuan Walker pitched well — 7 ip, 2 er —  and David Lynch did his damage (3 ip, 4 er) for the Corvallis Curds.  Alex Verdugo went 2 for 4 to co-lead the offense with, let’s see… Shohei Ohtani, also 2 for 4,  but with 2 stolen bases. Show-off Ohtani, maybe?
HAVILAND: ”W”, 1 – 5. (43 PA, .195, .209, .341;  5 ip, 2 er, 3.60 ERA).  Brandon Lowe’s home run and double in 5 PA was the offensive highlight of the day for the Dragons who (as you can see) didn’t get very much to cheer about in that department.   Jose Iglesias did go 2 for 4, running the Angels cast-off’s September line to .358, .414, 528 — basically Edgar Martinez with first-rate shortstop defense. 
The database loved it! I have to admit, as a long-time Jose Iglesias fan (and two-time owner of his contract), I love it, too.  The standings, however, are not so sentimental.  Being outscored 1 – 5 did damage there.  The Dragons are now 0.6 games further behind the Cheese, and the Alleghenys gained 0.9 games on Haviland, who now cling to 8th place by a mere half game.  
PITTSBURGH:  “L”, 8 – 5. (20 PA, .421, .450, .684;  17.7 ip, 10 er, 4.07 ERA) One time the manager of my church league softball team called me before a game and asked me not to come to play. The roster was too large, she said, and not everyone could get playing time, so even though I had paid as much as anyone else, because I had been one of the last to register, she didn’t want me there.  I did not go back to play for that team for the rest of the season. I am unwilling to be a member of a team unwilling to have me. 
John Natzke got a similar phone call that day, so the next year we formed our own softball team (the GF Ruins), convinced CPRD they should treat us like a church, collected other church-league refugee players, and started a multi-year run of fun, usually finishing well above .500. 
The Alleghenys must have called some of their weaker players yesterday, because only 6 hitters showed up. Five of them did very well, and the sixth was Bobby Dalbec, who has been doing very well lately. Max Muncy homered (one of 4 the Dodgers hit in the 8th inning to come from way behind for that 13 – 11 win). 
Frankie Montas pitched for the A’s both of the A’s:  the Allegheny ones, and in his side-gig for the Oakland ones. He did equally well for both, completing 6 innings with 0 earned runs.  The Mariners scored 2 runs nonetheless after an awful Athletic error (where the shortstop actually booted a double-play ball toward second, pulling the second-baseman off the bag). But apparently the Allegheny opponent didn’t get such a lucky break. They had to wait until Sonny Gray took the mound to permit 5 runs to score in 4.7 innings. 
The database hung a Loser banner on the Allegheny day, but the A’s just used that as camouflage as they actually crept into very close range with the Dragons.
BELLINGHAM:  L, 3 – 9. (50 PA, .244, .300, .356; 1 ip, ,4 er, 36.00 ERA).  That’s one of the higher team ERA’s we’ve seen in the league; probably not an all-time record, but maybe a seasonal one?  Brusdar Graterol was mostly responsible because he helped the Padres build their big lead over the Dodgers by alllowing 3 earne runs to score without getting an out. 
Andrew Chafin relieved.  In his one inning he allowed only 1 run, but it was the Mariners’ go-ahead run in their win over the Oakland A’s. I’m guessing Andre wasn’t all that unhappy about Chafin’s pitching. 
On offense there isn’t that much to write home about.  Jorge Polanco belted a home run, and Rafael Ortega was one of two Cascades to get two singles in 4 AB.  The other one?  Austin Hedges, he of the .505 season OPS, but who is in a Hedges-class hitting tear in September:  .217, .273, .322.
Sorry, Andre, but if you are relying on Austin Hedges’ offense to save you from being overrun by Rosebuds, I doubt it will work out, because A) he’s still Austin Hedges, and B)…
PORTLAND:  “L”, 5 – 4.  (30 PA, .250, .300, .500;  1 ip, 1 er, 9.00 ERA) … B) the Rosebuds are still blossoming all over the place.  They won again yesterday even with worse than no pitching.  Corey Seager hit a two-run homer, the fourth the Dodgers clouted in their five-run game-winning rally in the bottom of the 8th last night. Seager also collected half of the Rosebuds’ four doubles.  
Portland goes into today’s play tied with Bellingham in its whole-numbers record, and tied out to three digits in winning percentage, but at least .0001 games behind the Cascades.  
It’s looking good for the Rosebuds, who are still leading the lead in September with a 20 – 6 record, 8 games better than Bellingham’s 12 – 14. 
In fact — and I don’t mean to terrorize anyone, but — if Jamie thinks he can catch up 5.2 games in 5 games played, and if he makes me nervous about what has to be an exceptionally low-odds threat, then every team from the Cascade all the way up to the Cheese  should be joining me in restless nights and restless days, since the Cheese are only 5.1 games ahead of the Rosebuds. 
Combined MLB + EFL Standings for 2021
AL East
Old Detroit Wolverines 109 49 .689
Flint Hill Tornadoes 104 54 .656 5.2
Tampa Bay Rays 98 60 .620 10.8
New York Yankees 90 68 .570 18.8
Boston Red Sox 89 69 .563 19.8
Toronto Blue Jays 88 70 .557 20.8
Baltimore Orioles 51 107 .323 57.8
NL East
D.C. Balk 96 61 .611
Canberra Kangaroos 87 70 .556 8.6
Atlanta Braves 85 72 .541 10.9
Philadelphia Phillies 81 77 .513 15.4
New York Mets 75 83 .475 21.4
Miami Marlins 65 93 .411 31.4
Washington Nationals 65 94 .409 31.9
AL Central
Chicago White Sox 91 68 .572
Pittsburgh Alleghenys 83 76 .525 7.5
Bellingham Cascades 82 77 .514 9.2
Cleveland Indians 77 81 .487 13.5
Detroit Tigers 75 83 .475 15.5
Kansas City Royals 73 85 .462 17.5
Minnesota Twins 71 87 .449 19.5
NL Central
Milwaukee Brewers 95 63 .601
St. Louis Cardinals 88 70 .557 7
Cottage Cheese 86 72 .546 8.7
Cincinnati Reds 82 77 .516 13.5
Chicago Cubs 68 90 .430 27
Pittsburgh Pirates 59 99 .373 36
AL West
Kaline Drive 98 60 .618
Houston Astros 92 66 .582 5.6
Seattle Mariners 89 70 .560 9.1
Oakland A’s 85 74 .535 13.1
Haviland Dragons 84 74 .529 14.1
Los Angeles Angels 75 83 .475 22.6
Texas Rangers 58 100 .367 39.6
NL West
San Francisco Giants 104 54 .658
Los Angeles Dodgers 102 56 .646 2
Peshastin Pears 93 65 .587 11.3
Portland Rosebuds 81 77 .514 22.8
San Diego Padres 78 80 .494 26
Colorado Rockies 73 85 .462 31
Arizona Diamondbacks 50 108 .316 54