League Updates

Old Detroit is the 2021 Champion!

We interrupt your Monday (bedtime) routine to deliver a special announcement:

The Old Detroit Wolverines are your 2021 EFL Champions!

This season’s title is the franchise’s 5th title since 2004, and it’s first in 9 years. The Wolverines won 112 games, the second highest win total in league history. Their season was nothing short of dominant, having gained first place on May 25th and never relinquishing it the rest of the way. Think about that! That’s over 4 months of being in first place. 125 days in first place. You would think such a run would tire out a franchise, but the Wolverines only seemed to get stronger as the season went on.

On March 25th, Ron wrote an essay called, “Whether to become a competitive pacifist.” In this essay he wrote:

“I will not be a competitive pacifist, nor will I do things contrary to the Wolverines’ competitive interests out of kindness to others.  I’ll still try to win in the league even if my team is doomed to finish 72 games out of first. But I will try to remember winning is either not a value except by convention (we agree to pretend it is) or is a subsidiary value to everything else.”

Those words proved to not just be our friend equivocating for our entertainment, but the salvo that, if we had been listening, announcing the beginning of the Old Detroit march to the 2021 title.

Before games began this season, the Wolverines were projected to win 96 games (ZIPS, which was the highest of the three systems). Old Detroit was slated to finish behind Canberra (99 wins), Peshastin (97 wins), and tied with Flint Hill. That team was good, but Ron’s mid-season moves were what eventually won him the title. Consider just a few of the most impactful additions to his team: 

  • On July 2nd he traded Nate Lowe to Canberra for Brendan McKay. Before ever throwing a single pitch for OD, McKay was traded to Bellingham for Shane McClanahan on August 31st. From September 1 through the end of the season, McLanahan tossed 23 innings with a 2.74 ERA.
  • On July 27th, Old Detroit traded Adolis Garcia and Sherten Apostel to Cottage for Marcus Semien. Semien’s OPS from August 1 until the end of the season was .830, second only on the team to Austin RIley and Rafael Devers (who both MVP caliber seasons). Semien slugged 21 home runs and 14 doubles during those two months.

On a team that scored 940 runs this season, the most in the EFL, only 5 hitters are on expiring contracts, and of those 5, only Josh Bell made any kind of significant contributions to the season’s run total. 

On a team that allowed the fewest runs scored in the EFL with 627, only 6 pitchers are on expiring contracts.

What does that mean? It may mean that the Wolverines open next season as the favorites to win the title in 2022, and they are no stranger to winning repeat titles, having done so in 2011-2012. 

It was a dominant season for the Wolverines, however you look at it. And though it means the rest of us did not win, we are truly better because Ron decided to not become a competitive pacifist, but instead to win.

In the same essay Ron also write, “And, it turns out, it’s even MORE more fun if we compete.  ‘Why don’t we each try to win?’ adds to the fun– as long as losing doesn’t ruin it completely.  At least it has to be more fun to win than it is pain to lose, so each attempt is worth the risk and we are ready soon enough to try again. But it’s even better if the game is fun whether or not we win.”

I can attest that the game was fun this year, even though I lost. I hope others can say the same. As Ron wrote, “But in the end the winning only matters because of the way it feeds other things: play, fun, community, appreciation of the beauty of the sport, etc. If we could have all those things without winning (or losing) we would discard the winning.”

Since Ron didn’t discard it after writing this essay, it’s safe to say that neither should we. 

EFL Standings for 2021
Old Detroit Wolverines 112 50 .692 939.8 627.0
Flint Hill Tornadoes 107 55 .658 5.6 893.0 640.3
D.C. Balk 100 61 .624 11.2 924.7 719.0
Kaline Drive 100 62 .617 12.2 867.7 683.9
Peshastin Pears 95 67 .584 17.5 818.1 702.6
Cottage Cheese 89 73 .551 22.8 895.6 824.2
Canberra Kangaroos 88 73 .546 23.8 849.8 788.1
Haviland Dragons 86 76 .529 26.4 844.3 822.2
Portland Rosebuds 85 77 .523 27.4 895.5 859.8
Pittsburgh Alleghenys 84 78 .521 27.8 786.4 750.6
Bellingham Cascades 83 79 .514 28.9 689.6 672.1
The scores/records listed below are the aggregates from October 1-3.

Champion Tier

Old Detroit: W(2), L(1), 24-11; 193PA, 18IP
AVG: 0.310 OBP: 0.373 SLG: 0.569 OPS: 0.942
ERA: 2.00 WHIP: 1.111
The Wolverines came into the weekend wondering if they would have enough hitting to cover replacement innings they’d certainly accrue. The unexpected happened, and they only added 3 replacement innings to 18 very well-pitched innings. Walker Buehler got the nod on Sunday since the Dodgers were still vying for the NL East pennant, and tossed 5 innings, giving up only 1 run. Shane McLanahan, in probably his final start as a Wolverine for at least the next five years, added an additional 3 innings, allowing only one run. And Jameson Taillon overcame his torn tendon to add 3.3 scoreless innings. But it was the hitting that led the way this weekend. A .942 OPS over nearly 200 PAs is going to equal a lot of runs scored – 8 per game played this weekend. The top hitter this final weekend was Byron Buxton, who went 9 for 19 with 5 doubles and 3 home runs. Will he be able to play 150 games or so next season? If so, the Wolverines might win 130 games! Rafael Devers, one of two candidates for the Wolverine MVP this season, went 7 for 19 with 3 home runs – 2 of those three coming in the biggest game of the regular season for the Red Sox, one of them essentially sealing the Wild Card for them. The Wolverines finished the month with a record of 21-9, in third place with a winning percentage of .690. They didn’t have a winning percentage below .654 in any month this season, and topped out at .726 in April.

The 100-win Tier

Flint Hill: W(3), L(0), 12-4; 192PA, 25.9IP
AVG: 0.249 OBP: 0.304 SLG: 0.373 OPS: 0.677
ERA: 1.39 WHIP: 0.579
If the Tornadoes had extrapolated this past weekend’s numbers over the course of the month, there may have been some more drama in the final days of the season. As it was, a monthly ERA of 3.96 was not enough to catch up with the Wolverines. Alek Manoah, in likely his last start with Flint Hill went 7 innings giving up 1 run. Joe Musgrove and Julio Urias also made possibly their final Tornado start, combining for 12.3 innings and 2 earned runs. At the plate, Bo Bichette was 7 for 16 with 3 doubles and one hime run. Mitch Haniger did his best to propel the Mariners into the playoffs, going 4 for 13 with a home run and a clutch single on Saturday night. But other hitters failed miserably: Mookie Betts went 2 for 15, Frank Schwindel went 3 for 18, and Joey Gallo went 2 for 10. But no one topped Alex Bregman, who went 0 for the weekend in 13 at bats. The Tornadoes finished the month 21-9, a winning percentage of .704, and had the best monthly offense of any team the entire season, averaging 6.59 runs per game. 
DC: W(3), L(0), 31-9; 167PA, 33IP
AVG: 0.305 OBP: 0.413 SLG: 0.582 OPS: 0.995
ERA: 3.27 WHIP: 1.242
Whew! The Balk poured it on this weekend to roar past the Drive on the final day of the season. How’d they do it? Simple: they averaged over 10 runs scored a game to only 3 runs allowed per game. Though their starters struggled to finish the season well, it was their relievers who tossed 13 innings and gave up only 1 earned run. Who says you need good starters to win games? The Balk hitters decided to hit massive amounts of home runs and doubles over the weekend – 9 homes runs and 13 doubles to be exact. Here’s the list of home run hitters: Pete Alonso (2), Enrique Hernandez (2), Sam Hilliard (2), Danny Jansen (2) and Bryce Harper (1). They also accrued 25(!) walks over the games, including 7 of them to Xander Bogaerts. DC endured one cummy month (July), in which they went 14-13. A few more wins that month and they would have been challenging the Wolverines for first place. Maybe next year!
Kaline: W(1), L(1), 19-18; 208PA, 28.6IP
AVG: 0.302 OBP: 0.357 SLG: 0.471 OPS: 0.828
ERA: 5.78 WHIP: 1.250
Though they tried their best to finish in third, in the end Tom’s desire to finish towards the middle won out over the team’s desire to medal. The main culprit was a weekend of lackluster pitching. Namely, two pitchers were the team’s downfall – John Means, who gave up 6 runs in 3 innings, and Dinelson Lamet who gave up 4 runs in one third of an innings. Remove those two outings and the ERA is more like 3.00. Jose Altuve, Aaron Judge and Michael Conforto all collected 6 hits apiece over the weekend, and two of Judge’s were home runs (one was also the game-winning single that sent the Yankees to the Wild Card game). Kaline won 19 games this month, which wasn’t their highest total of the season. In May they won 21 games on their way to a .740 winning percentage, eclipsed only by Portland’s September winning percentage of .776. 

The “90 Wins is Lonely” Tier

Peshastin: W(2), L(1), 16-16; 139PA, 17IP
AVG: 0.234 OBP: 0.309 SLG: 0.444 OPS: 0.753
ERA: 3.18 WHIP: 0.941
Earlier today Phil talked about the “rotten Pear” performance, and that perhaps explains why no one wanted to be anywhere near him as the season wound down. Only 7 MLB teams had more wins than the Pears did, which is pretty impressive. But in a year when EFL teams performed really well, 93 wins was still 17.5 games out of first place. THe pitching was really good this weekend, especially when compared to their monthly ERA which hovered near 6.00. The hitting wasn’t spectacular, though, with the team OPSing .753. Surprisingly, Juan Soto went 0 for the weekend, though he did collect 5 walks to make his season walk total of 145, putting him 22nd on the All-Time list for BBs in a season. Willi Castro led the team with 6 hits, including one triple. The Pears were happy to Septober come to an end, after enduring their worst month of the season at 13-17. The 93-win Pears lose none of their major contributors from their roster for next season, meaning their fans are going into 2022 with a lot of hope. 

The Greg Maddux Tier (Upper 80’s and Awesome)

Cottage: W(2), L(1), 21-9; 175PA, 47.7IP
AVG: 0.295 OBP: 0.394 SLG: 0.477 OPS: 0.871
ERA: 3.77 WHIP: 1.153
The 47.7 innings pitched by the Cheese over the weekend was 15 more than any other team. And they were decent innings, which propelled the Cheese past the Roos as the last possible moment. If you could erase the outings by Robbie Ray and Alex Cobb, you’d have an even better line. Those two guys accounted for 10 of the 20 earned runs over the weekend. Steven Matz, Josiah Gray and Matt Manning were the best pitchers over the weekend, combining for 18 innings and only 3 runs allowed. Trea Turner was named the NL Player of the Week after going 7 for 14 with 1 double and 3 home runs. Shohei Ohtani, whom I suspect will be named the AL MVP, collected 1 double, one triple, one home run and 5 walks over the weekend, his home run on Sunday the dagger which sunk the Mariners. After leading the league in August with a 19-9 record, the Cheese came back to earth in Septober with a record of 13-16.
Canberra: W(1), L(1), 11-19; 141PA, 24.3IP
AVG: 0.201 OBP: 0.241 SLG: 0.358 OPS: 0.599
ERA: 6.30 WHIP: 1.358
The Roos chose to phone it in over the weekend, not even playing an entire 162 games on the season. Their hitting and their pitching was lackluster as their Septober record ended up an even 15-15. Chris Flexen did his part to help the Mariners and also the Roos, tossing 5.3 innings and giving up 1 earned run. Kyle Tucker closed out his excellent season going 6 for 14 with 2 home runs, while Vlad Jr. did his best to make a case for winning the AL MVP, going 4 for 16 with 2 doubles and 2 home runs. Canberra was projected to finish atop the standings prior to the season, and they had perhaps the most undulating season of any team. Here are their monthly win totals in order: 11, 14, 19, 12, 15, 15. A healthy Mike Trout might have added a few more wins, but they needed more, and perhaps next year, with all of the money they will have, they will get it!

The Fire and Thorn Tier

Haviland: W(2), L(1), 143PA, 32.4IP
AVG: 0.270 OBP: 0.350 SLG: 0.524 OPS: 0.873
ERA: 6.67 WHIP: 1.667
Did anyone expect the Dragons to be holding off the Rosebuds in the the final update of the season? I certainly did not, and after a tumultuous month, the Dragons were, I am certain, happy to have lost to only one son and not both. Joe Ryan, Tarik Skubal and Spencer Howard did the bulk of the damage on the mound, combining to give up 16 runs in 11.7 innings pitched. Jesus Luzardo used his final start to breathe some life into the weary Dragon fanbase, tossing 5.3 inning and allowing only one earned run. Is that a harbinger of a breakout year next year? The Dragon fanbase is hopeful. Brandon Lowe was by far the best hitter for the Dragons over the weekend, swatting 4 home runs and one single for a team-leading 5 hits. Brendan Rodgers also had 5 hits, including a double and a triple. April was by far the Dragons best month, with 19 wins. The rest of the season was a downhill slide, with win totals in order: 18, 13, 11, 11, 14. 
Portland: W(3), L(0), 28-16; 143PA, 31.7IP
AVG: 0.349 OBP: 0.413 SLG: 0.636 OPS: 1.048
ERA: 3.97 WHIP: 1.293
I haven’t yet asked, but I wonder how the Rosebud owner will answer this question: was the euphoria and hope received from the best Septober in the EFL worth dropping to pick 15 in the draft next season? I am guessing the answer will be yes, seeing as the Cascades will be drafting only 2 picks higher at 13. Portland’s league best .776 winning percentage this past month was fueled by good hitting and solid pitching. This final weekend proved no exception. Corey Seager led the Rosebuds with 9 hits this past weekend, including 3 home runs and a double. Tyler O’Neill added 6 hits, including one double, one triple and two home runs. The Rosebuds were two runs shy of finishing the month with the most runs scored and were tops in fewest runs allowed at 106 – 13 runs better than the second place team. What does this mean for next season? Well, if momentum means anything, the Rosebuds own their fair share of it. If nothing else, their young players developed much-needed confidence and experience to begin to chase title number three next season.

The Geographically Beautiful Tier

Pittsburgh: W(0), L(3), 6-15; 74PA, 29.4IP
AVG: 0.194 OBP: 0.257 SLG: 0.358 OPS: 0.615
ERA: 5.20 WHIP: 1.395
If nothing else, this tier is known for its beauty, which is perhaps the main thing we should focus after this final weekend. The Alleghenys were the only team to not win at least one game in the final series, and the numbers tell the entire story. Part of the issue was the lack of PAs. With only 74 plate appearances, Pittsburgh was severely limited. The next closest team finished the weekend with 139 total, a whopping 45 more than the Alleghenys. And of those 74 plate appearances, no hitter collected more than 3 hits on the weekend. Luis Robert and Bobby Dalbec both hit. home run, but that was the only hit each got all weekend. Max Muncy was 3 for 11, but left the final game early due to what looked like a gnarly arm/wrist injury. As already mentioned by Mark, the unexpected goodness came from WIll Crowe and Tyler Megill, who combined for 11 innings and 0 earned runs. Pittsburgh stumbled to a Septober record of 13-16, and almost nabbed the top EFL pick next year but fell just short.
Bellingham: W(1), L(2), 13-17; 140PA, 32IP
AVG: 0.244 OBP: 0.309 SLG: 0.425 OPS: 0.735
ERA: 4.22 WHIP: 1.125
The Cascades had their best month at the end of the season with 16 wins each in July and August, but stumbled to last place in the final weeks of the season and a Septober record of 13-16. Ten different pitchers appeared, and 4 of them didn’t surrender a single run. The rest, however, did. The hole they dug was too big to climb out of, and thus the first EFL pick in the rookie draft next season belongs to the Cascades. Will Franco be available at pick 13? We shall see. Jake Myers, Jack Mayfield and Rafael Ortega all collected 5 hits apiece over the weekend. Ortega also added one home run and 3 stolen bases to provide the biggest spark over the weekend. 
Combined MLB + EFL Standings for 2021
AL East
Old Detroit Wolverines 112 50 .692
Flint Hill Tornadoes 107 55 .658 5.6
Tampa Bay Rays 100 62 .617 12.1
Boston Red Sox 92 70 .568 20.1
New York Yankees 92 70 .568 20.1
Toronto Blue Jays 91 71 .562 21.1
Baltimore Orioles 52 110 .321 60.1
NL East
D.C. Balk 100 61 .624
Atlanta Braves 88 73 .547 12.4
Canberra Kangaroos 88 73 .546 12.6
Philadelphia Phillies 82 80 .506 18.9
New York Mets 77 85 .475 23.9
Miami Marlins 67 95 .414 33.9
Washington Nationals 65 97 .401 35.9
AL Central
Chicago White Sox 93 69 .574
Pittsburgh Alleghenys 84 78 .521 8.6
Bellingham Cascades 83 79 .514 9.8
Cleveland Indians 80 82 .494 13
Detroit Tigers 77 85 .475 16
Kansas City Royals 74 88 .457 19
Minnesota Twins 73 89 .451 20
NL Central
Milwaukee Brewers 95 67 .586
St. Louis Cardinals 90 72 .556 5
Cottage Cheese 89 73 .551 5.7
Cincinnati Reds 83 79 .512 12
Chicago Cubs 71 91 .438 24
Pittsburgh Pirates 61 101 .377 34
AL West
Kaline Drive 100 62 .617
Houston Astros 95 67 .586 4.9
Seattle Mariners 90 72 .556 9.9
Oakland A’s 86 76 .531 13.9
Haviland Dragons 86 76 .529 14.2
Los Angeles Angels 77 85 .475 22.9
Texas Rangers 60 102 .370 39.9
NL West
San Francisco Giants 107 55 .660
Los Angeles Dodgers 106 56 .654 1
Peshastin Pears 95 67 .584 12.3
Portland Rosebuds 85 77 .523 22.3
San Diego Padres 79 83 .488 28
Colorado Rockies 74 87 .460 32.5
Arizona Diamondbacks 52 110 .321 55


  • Jamie: Thank you for this final update, excellent work. I was touched you dug up that March 25 essay I wrote, which I had forgotten.

    At the end of LAST season I got to write the update, in which I said to you:

    “If John or Mark make cutting remarks about having your name on the EFL trophy only once, don’t pay any attention. You’ll get your second one soon enough.

    By “soon enough” I mean “about 2030. After the rest of us have all had a chance.”

    I suggested your next turn should come in about 10 years. As you kindly pointed out, my last turn was 9 years ago — about 10 years. So I look forward to succeeding the Tornados as champions again in 2031.

  • One further note: I urged everyone to root for Tornados on Sunday, especially Haniger and Kelenic. We didn’t root hard enough to save the Mariners season.

    I was a bit chagrined to notice who buried the Mariners season hopes. It was Wolverines at every turn.

    * Marcus Semien hit an unnecessary homer for the Blue Jays, whose win boosted Toronto ahead of Seattle.

    * Jameson Taillon and Jonathan Loaisiga pitched scoreless innings for the Yankees, preserving the 0-0 tie until the bottom of the ninth when fellow Wolverine Andrew Kittredge came in to relieve for the Rays with one out and men (ex-Wolverines Rizzo and Wade) on second and third. Why didn’t they walk Aaron Judge to put a force at every base and a possible double play? I dunno. On a 2-2 pitch, Judge lined the ball directly at the infielder playing behind the mound (why there?), but Kittredge tried to catch it in the air, which might have resulted in a double play. He missed, the ball was deflected, and the infielder’s throw home was late. So the Yankees won.

    * Shortly after that I was outvoted on a motion to leave the Mariners game early, the M’s being down 7 – 3 and the Yankees having won. My reminder that the Red Sox were still tied with the Orioles fell on deaf ears.

    * As we were leaving the stadium, Rafael Devers hit his second homer of the day, completing the Red Sox come-from-behind surge. And a few minutes after that, the Orioles went out meekly in the 9th. That sealed the Mariners fate, and led immediately to Kyle Seager’s departure from what was almost certainly his last game as a Mariner… a moment I did not see in person, since I was at about that time driving away in my car, pouting about not getting to see the end of the game.
    “What would you have missed, Ron?” my son-in-law asked. “The Sox won, so the game didn’t matter.”
    “It was Kyle’s last game, and they probably did something to honor him in the 9th inning,” I said.
    But I don’t think they believed me, and anyway it was too late to go back.

    It’s almost always too late to go back. Before we finished the six-mile drive to Melissa’s house the M’s game was over, the season was over, and Semien, Taillon, and Kittredge were already ex-Wolverines.