Sunday, May 28, 2017

Offseason Preview: Free Agency, Part I

With just 24 games to go in Upper Deck’s 25th season, the end of the road is near.  For the 20 teams that don’t make the postseason, drawing up offseason plans will begin rather soon, or may already have begun.  In this post, we will discuss the top ten position players who will be free agents in this offseason’s class, not including player’s with contract options or potential non-tender candidates.

  1. Ivan Romero, SS: Romero has the glove to play almost anywhere on the field and a power bat that pairs well with his disciplined batting eye.  He carries a career .284/.356/.549 line to go with four All Star appearances, three Gold Gloves in right field, a Most Valuable Player award, and a World Series ring.  At 29, he is also among the youngest on this list.
  2. Will McRae, LF: McRae is one of the best pure hitters in the league, notching at least 190 hits in seven of his 11 seasons, and on pace to do so again this season.  He has six All Star appearances, three Silver Sluggers, and three Gold Gloves - one at first base and two in left field.  At just 33 and with 2,311 hits, McRae looks like a lock to eclipse the 3,000 hit milestone by the end of his next contract, depending on its duration.
  3. Zephyr Pavlov, CF: Pavlov has won three Silver Sluggers in center field, offering his teams one of the best bats at a premium position in the league.  Though not a Gold Glove caliber defender, he is not a liability in the field.  He has nearly 2,200 hits and 408 home runs and will be just 34 when next season begins.
  4. Mac Hunt, RF: Hunt is a slugger with a career .882 OPS and more than 300 bombs.  Though he may narrowly miss the mark this season, he has belted more than 30 home runs and driven in 95 or more runs in each of the past six seasons.  He also has arguably the most playoff experience of this bunch, having won three World Series rings with his current Albuquerque Arrows.
  5. Cecil Schlereth, 2B: Schlereth, currently 32, is a four-time All Star and has a robust career .878 OPS.  He’s a nice bat and an adequate defender at another premium position and has also spent substantial time at center in his career, although he carries just a .961 fielding percentage in the grass.  Like McRae, he is a pure hitter with a .307 career batting average, but a back injury in season 23 seems to have dampened his power production to some degree.
  6. Davey Torres, C: At just 29, Torres holds the career record for on-base percentage (.411) and holds the second spot in OPS (.975).  He’s a run producer at another premium position, and though he may be best suited for a DH role at some point, the perennial All Star can hold his own behind the dish.
  7. Willie Bennett, CF: Bennett offers one more look at a talented offensive player at a premium position.  He has a much stronger outfield arm than Pavlov, but is overall considerably weaker in the field and lacks Pavlov’s power.  He’s no slouch at the dish, though, with a .287/.348/.437 batting line and, at just 30, he is three years younger than Pavlov.
  8. Frank Bigley, 3B: Bigley is another versatile player, capable of being plugged in almost anywhere on the field and carrying a big stick while he does.  He doesn’t have the best bat in the class, but he’s got heart of the order pop.  He’s won four Gold Gloves - three at third base - and a Silver Slugger, but he will be 35 when he signs his next deal, meaning that his future contract will depend on the assessments of interested GMs with regard to how his skill set may change over the course of the deal.
  9. Al Tarraga, SS: Albuquerque’s second player on this list has never been a stellar defender at shortstop, but his fielding translates well almost everywhere on the field.  He is among the fastest, most talented baserunners in the league and has had an above average run at the dish.  He will be 33 when he signs his next deal.
  10. Fausto Siqueiros, RF: Siqueiros has the tools to be one of the better and more versatile players in the league, but he has sometimes struggled to put it all together, carrying a sub-.700 OPS over the past two seasons.  Nonetheless, he is a plus defender almost everywhere and has won two Gold Gloves in right field.

Honorable mentions:

What do you think some of these players will make on the open market? Feel free to comment with estimations of deal length and salary.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Upper Deck Franchise Rankings


After season 24 this is what my Franchise rankings look like. Here is the detail behind the driving force of these rankings. Winning a world series is the best way to raise your franchise in these rankings as 27% of the weight is placed on post-season points. Winning a world series gets you 30 points, losing the world series gets you 15, losing in the LCS gets you 8, winning your division or simply making it to the 2nd round gets you 4 and losing in the wild card round gets you 2 points. The 2nd biggest factor is your rank is your All-Time W/L record as 23.2% of the weight is attributed to this. 1st place gets you 192 points and each place below 1st drops by 6 points so 2nd would be 186 and so on all the way down to 6 points for last. Individual awards come in next at 9.7%. MVP and Cy Young award winners fetch their team 4 points and Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, ROY and Fireman award winners each get 1 point per award. Next up come the annual rankings in Runs scored, ERA, Fielding % and net Fielding +/- plays. Each of these are worth 7.7%. Each season i ranked the teams from 1-32 in these categories and your statistic for each category is your franchise's average ranking in that category for all seasons combined. 1st place is rewarded with 64 points and each rank below drops down by 2 points so 2nd would be 62 points and last place would get 2 points. So take for example the Sultans have placed an average of 7.08 in  runs for all combined seasons. I then make an aggregate of these 4 categories and proceed to rank them again. This is achieved by summing your teams average place in Runs + ERA + Fielding % + Fielding +/-. I created this aggregate rank to balance out the rankings and rewarding the teams that play the game right. This aggregate ranking also is worth 7.7% in weight and lastly I included the HoF players. I attributed each HoF player to the cap he is wearing in his HoF bust, HoF'ers add 10 points to their respective franchise. I know its not perfect but this was the best way I could think of in creating these rankings. As we add more seasons the points given out will scale to keep the weights as close as we can to keep the balance. If you guys have some feedback I gladly welcome it.

So now that we got that out of the way you can see that the newly relocated Charlotte Pups(Louisville LandSharks) are the top net worth of the world.  They have been to an unprecedented 10 World Series and managed to take home 6 titles, thanks to the G.O.A.T Mr. Nomura.

Red Text = Leader
All Time - All Time W/L
PS - Playoff Berths
WC - Lost in Wild Card Rd - 2 points
2nd - Lost in 2nd Rd - 4 points
DIV - Division Champion Or Lost in 2nd Rd - 4 points
DCS - Lost in Division Championship Series - 8 points
LCS - Lost in League Championshop series Or lost in World Series - 15 points
WS -  Won World Series - 30 points
PSP - Total Post-Season Points
MVP - Total MVPs won - 4 points
CY - Total Cy Youngs won - 4 points
SS - Total Silver Sluggers won - 1 points
GG - Total Gold Glove Winners - 1 points
Fireman - Total Fireman of the year winners
ROY - Total Rookie of the Year winners
Awd Pts - Total Award Points
Runs - Average Place in Runs
ERA - Average Place in E.R.A
FLD % - Average Place in Fielding %
FLD +/-  - Average Place in Fielding +/- plays
HoF - Number of HoF players enshrined
Runs - Rank in avg runs ranking(64 points for first, 2 points for last)
ERA - Rank in avg ERA ranking(64 points for first, 2 points for last)
FLD % - Rank in avg Fielding % ranking(64 points for first, 2 points for last)
FLD +/-  - Rank in avg Fielding +/- plays ranking(64 points for first, 2 points for last)
Rank Points - Sum of all 4 categories ranked
Total Rank Points - Total Rank points


PSW = Post Season Wines
PSL = Post Season Losses
WS = World Series Champions
LCS = League Championships
DCS = Division Series Championships
2nd = 2nd Round
WC = Wild Card Berths

Top Rankings for Awards, Post-Season numbers

Teams with longest playoff streaks(Active): 

Richmond Brewers - 10 years
Albuquerque Arrows - 7 years
Pittsburgh - 6 years
Monterey Sultans - 4 years
Scottsdale Artichokes - 3 years

Teams with the longest playoff drought(Active): 

Philadelphia Penn Quakers - 19 years
Jackson Generals - 10 years
Indianapolis Swigning Hoosier  - 9 years
Honolulu Lava - 8 years
New Orleans Crawdaddies - 7 years

Teams with longest playoff streaks: 

Charlotte Pups - 15 years(5-19)
Oklahoma City Cowboys - 15 years(5-19)
Monterey Sultans - 12 years(2-13)
Santa Cruz - 12 years(1-12)
Dover -  11 years(4-14)
Honolulu Lava - 11 years(6-16)
Richmond Brewers - 10 years(15-24)

Teams with the longest playoff drought: 
Las Vegas Desert Dogs - 19 years(1-19)
Philadelphia Penn Quakers - 19 years(6-24)
Tampa Bay Water Dogs - 19 years(1-19)
Fresno Grizzlies - 16 years(8-23)
Iowa City Small Bears - 15 years(9-23)
Albuquerque Arrows - 15 years(3-17)

Most MVPs: 
Charlotte Pups - 9
New Britain Rock Cats - 7
Baltimore Dry Docks - 5

Most Cy Youngs: 

New Britain Rock Cats - 7
Richmond Brewers - 5
Pittsborgh Pilots - 5

Most Silver Sluggers: 

Monterey Sultans - 31
Charlotte Pups - 30
Santa Cruz Mavericks 30
Oklahoma City Cowboys - 24
Chicago Old Style - 21

Most Gold Glove Winners: 

Las Vegas Desert Dogs - 27
New York Knights - 24
Sioux Falls Skywalkers - 24
Scranton Great Scotts 22
Pittsburgh Pilots - 19

Most Fireman Awards: 

Indianapolis Swinging Hoosiers - 6
Richmond Brewers - 4
7 tied - 3

Most Rookie Of The Year Winners: 

New Britain Rock Cats - 4
Oklahom City Cowboys - 3
Santa Cruz Mavericks - 3
Scranton Great Scotts - 3
Philadelphia Penn Quakers - 3

Most Post-season trips: 

Monterey Sultans - 18
Oklahoma City Cowboys - 17
Santa Cruz Mavericks - 16
Richmond Brewers - 16
Charlotte Pups - 15

Most Division Titles: 

Richmond Brewers - 15
Santa Cruz Mavericks - 14
Charlotte Pups - 12
Monterey Sultans - 11
New Britain Rock Cats - 10
Pittsburhg Pilots - 10
Chicago Old Style - 10

Most League Championships: 

Charlotte Pups - 10
New York Knights - 7
Oklahoma City Cowboys - 5
Monterey Sultans - 4
Albuquerque Arrows - 4

Most World Series: 

Charlotte Pups 6
New York Knights - 5
Oklahoma City Cowboys - 4
Albuquerque Arrows - 3
Monterey Sultans - 2
Santa Cruz Mavericks - 2
Honolulu Lava - 2

Monday, January 23, 2017

NL North Preview: Season 24

This entry marks the eighth and final edition of a series of previews by division for the young 24th season of Upper Deck.  A run down of each team will be followed by an overall analysis of the division.  Today, we finish by discussing the NL North.

The Old Style had an offense that far out-slugged the average team in season 23, but a pitching staff that surrendered more than a quarter of an earned run more than the league average per game and a defense that ranked near the bottom both played a role in the club’s first losing season since season 13, one of the longest stretches around the league.  Last season, the team posted only 69 wins, a stark 19-win drop from the season prior.

Potentially making matters worse, Chicago lost some very important players to its success during that span over the offseason, including second base stalwart Eduardo Butera, long-time starter Joe Matheson, and reliever Leon Jenkins, all to free agency..  Effective bench bat Alex Cervelli also left for retirement, and former closer Jamie Kim was let go after taking a serious step back last season, pitching to a 6.97 ERA in more than 41 innings.

To make up for lost production, the club signed Bobby Gorzelanny and Kurt Cepeda to stabilize the rotation and bullpen, respectively.  The club also signed defensive-minded shortstop Chico Marmol to start up the middle, vastly improving the defense.  The team also filled some holes internally with players like 3B Jordan Branyan and RP Louis Dixon.

The most notable moves, though, include the contract extensions of three players: LF Ken Silva, 3B Yamid Wilfredo, and C Yusmeiro Seguignol.  All three players were in their final year of arbitration and would have hit free agency after the season, if not for the extensions.  Combined, the three hit 97 home runs in season 23, and their extensions provide hope that the team can build around this core and avoid a long term rebuild.

The Dover Despicables, recently relocated from Seattle, have only had one winning season and one playoff appearance since season 18, a trend that, unfortunately for the club, would not end in season 23.  Last season, an above average pitching staff and a roughly average defense was plagued by an anemic offense that batted a league-worst .239 with a league-worst .679 OPS.

Having the league’s worst offense, though, made the offseason’s priorities clear for general manager gogogiants.  The club let aging players Derrick White and Karim Robinson leave via free agency and moved to sign Eduardo Butera away from division rival Chicago to play in left and added Gregory Erdos, Al Flores, Jamie Won, and Carlos Aparicio to add punch to the infield in both the starting lineup and on the bench.

The Despicables also lost starter Malcolm Baez, who contributed more than 180 innings to the team last season.  The club invested heavily in the once-touted Pete Garcia to replace his production, doling out a five year deal that they hope pays dividends.  gogogiants also added relievers Rich Lush and Ehire Alomar to fortify the bullpen.  All told, Dover had arguably the most aggressive offseason in the division, though recent draft picks like 2B Terry Kickham and SP Denzel Charleston offer more hope for the near future.

Key additions: 1B Stryker Pagan

Like Dover, Kansas City is another franchise whose struggles have persisted for seasons, with the club’s last winning season coming in season 12.  Despite that, the Monarchs capitalized on a weak division in season 23 to make win the division and make the postseason at just 72-90.  The team made an early postseason exit, however, due in part to the subpar pitching staff (4.54 ERA) and a league-worst defense that committed more than an error per game (171).

Though general manager urbanwarrior could have opted for an aggressive offseason to take further advantage of the weak division, he instead played the market relatively quietly.  Aging 1B Guillermo Cabeza, with more than 2,300 hits, 468 home runs, and a possible argument for the Hall of Fame one day, was let go as his skill set continues to diminish.  Bench contributor Bob Arrieta also walked.

The major acquisition that the team made was the free agent signing of Stryker Pagan, who had been released by Salem before his second arbitration hearing. Pagan, who has a career .232 isolated power, will replace Cabeza at first.  Other voids were filled internally, such as the promotion of RP Benji Martin.

The biggest move for the club was the contract extension that was given to ace SP Antone Gardner, though his season ended before it began with an arm injury.  Despite the injury, he will make $8 million this season and for the next three.  Fortunately, though, prospects like SP Mel Valentin and SP Larry Thornton are working their way up the ladder and seem on the cusp of their debuts.

Syracuse has not won more than 68 games since season 18, the last season that the club made the playoffs.  In season 23, they won 66, plagued by subpar pitching and defense, as well as an offense that triple slashed only .245/.308/.384.

The Syndicate had as many losses as anybody in the division from last season’s big league club.  Utility bench player Hades Hermanson, starting 1B Travis McCartney, starting SS Tomas Pujols, and back up catcher Ralph Ross were all let go.  McCartney hit well for the most part, but with diminished power and only 49 RBI.  Pujols, known as a defensive shortstop for the bulk of his career, performed as advertised, including his light bat - he OPS’ed only .583.  Reliever Jeurys Bastardo also walked via free agency.

To fill its holes, general manager hatton98 claimed Danyl Pulido to help with the bench, as well as offensive-minded catcher Ted Carpenter to back up starting C William Scarsone.  Power hitting shortstop Horace Grossman was signed primarily to play in center.  Pedro Vincente was also signed to replace Bastardo in the bullpen.  Finally, the club extended SP Tony Ayala, who provides valuable innings to the team’s rotation, having thrown 233.1 IP in season 23.

NL North Analysis

The NL North was easily the worst team in the league last season, with all four teams finishing with between 66 and 72 wins.  Dover had a very aggressive offseason, however, addressing their offensive needs in bulk.  They may stand to be the most improved in the division by season’s end.  Conversely, Kansas City had a rather quiet offseason, though last year’s division champion remains similar enough that they may be able to repeat.  Regardless, long rebuilds for both teams should put either in contention within the next couple of seasons.

Syracuse was arguably second busiest in the division, and may also lay claim to the division’s most improved this season, which would be fortunate, as the length of rebuild thus far has them potentially a year or two behind Dover and Kansas City.  Meanwhile, Chicago certainly has the core to be competitive, and may be the closest to contention with an aptly executed trade or two.  The moves this offseason should ensure that the team can be competitive if it wants to be, as opposed to potentially committing to a rebuild.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

AL North Preview: Season 24

This entry marks the penultimate edition of a series of previews by division for the young 24th season of Upper Deck.  A run down of each team will be followed by an overall analysis of the division.  Today, we discuss the AL North.

Last season, the Rock Cats had an offense and pitching staff that rated as roughly league average, though their defense was slightly above average.  Nonetheless, the season 22 World Series Champs collected 90 wins, good for a second place finish and, if not for an injury in the Wild Card round to SP Pat Murata, potentially a return to the Series.

The overall success of the past few seasons aside, however, season 23 represented the next step in a series of regressions for the club since a 101-win campaign in season 21, and the team did lose several notable players this offseason.  Bobby Gorzelanny, the oft-injured season 21 Cy Young winner, walked via free agency, as did powerful shortstop Horace Grossman, backup backstop Blaine Knotts, and mid-season acquisition T.J. Sinclair, who played well for New Britain down the stretch.

To fill the voids and fortify the club, longtime general manager dflom2008 traded reliever Emmanuel Gibson for four-time Gold Glover Aubrey Kelly - a step down offensively, but a clear step up defensively.  The club also picked up relievers Cory Small and Rod Zavada to improve the bullpen, catcher Chris Palmer to replace Knotts’ role on the team, and big bopper Billy Daniels to strengthen the bench.  The club also acquired Chico Ugueto in a trade to add some punch to a lineup whose offense presence in leftfield has been light in recent seasons with Santiago Benitez, and added back long time Rock Cat Mel McMasters to DH for the club.

Key additions: RP Curtis Fox, SP Louis Black

Key losses: RF Quinton Brohawn

The Terriers won only 65 games last season - their fifth consecutive under .500 - and are in the midst of a long rebuild.  This offseason didn’t do much to change the team’s direction.  Most notably, long time right fielder Quinton Brohawn, who had played every game of his Major League career in Pawtucket and hit more than 400 home runs for the team, departed for Iowa City during free agency.

The team did not do much to address the loss of one of best hitters on the below average offense, though this is to be expected during a rebuild.  As such, no major free agents were brought into the organization, and the most notable newbies were acquired during the Rule 5 Draft, including pitchers Curtis Fox and Louis Black.
The promotion of super prospect 2B Carl Clark, however, is big news for the Terriers and their fans - a signal that there may be more light than tunnel at this point.  Other prospects that Terriers fans should be excited about include 2B Jerome Espy, RP Enerio Lecuona, power-hitting C/DH Kendry Gandarilla, and recent international signings SS David Cruz and world-class starter Hong-Chih Jung.

Like the Terriers, the Redwings surely consider themselves to be in rebuild mode.  Though just three seasons removed from their last postseason appearance, Rochester won only 54 games last season - a sharp decrease from 77 in season 22 - securing the first overall pick in the upcoming draft.

After this offseason, it seems as though general manager jwperry has truly committed his club to the rebuild.  Ramiro Pujols, the club’s longtime shortstop who was signed as an international free agent nearly 15 seasons ago, was not retained, as was the case with closer Armando Cruz and reliever Hayes Milton, whose option was declined.  The team also dealt some of its pieces, including arb-one right fielder Nipsey Paulsen, to re-stock the minor league pipeline with prospects like LF Marcos Garza.

As far as many of the players that were brought in, none are likely to be the difference between a playoff run or a fridge run, including starter Clayton Wakefield.  However, some acquisitions may go beyond simply building a bridge to Rochester’s next playoff iteration.  Rule 5 draftee Clint Norton could prove to be the club’s long-term replacement to Pujols, while talented prospects like RP Orber Nieves, powerful SS Jay O’Keefe, and 2B Seth MacRae work their way up the ranks.

Behind a top ten pitching staff and a defense that committed the second fewest errors in the league last season, the Sioux Falls Skywalkers - then in Vancouver - won 94 games, winning the AL North for the first time since season 20.  The fact that such a good team was plagued by a middling offense made the offseason’s priorities rather clear for general manager Kylo_Ren.

The Skywalkers let a variety of part time players leave, including C Ted Carpenter, possible future Hall of Fame 1B Billy Daniels, 1B Sid Spence, and reliever Pedro Vincente.  Light hitting centerfielder Max Marmol was claimed off of waivers.  To replace the production on offense, the club added Eliezer Camacho to bring some life to the outfield, IFs Kelly Kinsler and Alexi Mairena to fortify the bench, and traded for offensive C Phil Clifton in exchange for prospect RP Mario Barclay.  The club also added Luis Mantalban to its bullpen.

The biggest moves for the club likely include a big effort to retain CP Greg O’Neill and SP Elrod Daly, two important pieces of the Skywalkers’ success from a season ago.  The hope seems to be that the offensive maneuvering will be enough to put the team into the playoffs, but if it is not, the similarities from last season’s division champion keep Sioux Falls in a good position.

AL North Analysis

The AL North is less complex in terms of dissecting a probable end result than most divisions, given that two separate teams are each rebuilding.  Pawtucket probably will not contend this season, though they appear to be nearing the end of their rebuild.  Rochester, on the other hand, has a younger rebuild on its hands, but GM jwperry put his foot on the gas and accelerated that process this season, potentially limiting the number of down years that the club may have.

New Britain is almost always in the conversation, but another arm injury to ace Pat Murata - his second in two starts dating back to last postseason - makes the Rock Cats’ road much longer should they make the postseason.  All things considered, however, Sioux Falls likely remains the team to beat in the North this season due to a strong pitching core and an offense that looks to have improved to some degree.