Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update on the Seamheads Near-Miss League

Back near the start of the season, I announced the exciting news that I would be participating in the Seamheads Near-Miss League, an all-time baseball simulation league being run by Mike Lynch over at and featuring such big-name GMs as Jonah Keri, Eric Karabell, and Dave Dameshek. I still don't know how I got to be included in that group, but it was (and is) pretty exciting.

The league began play shortly after I wrote the league's AL West preview, but I was sadly remiss in keeping you all up to date with how it was going. I would check in with the league every now and then, but I just never got around to writing a post about it. That might have had something to do with how poorly my team was performing, though.

After going through the long history of the Philadelphia-Kansas City-Oakland Athletics franchise, I finally settled on the 2002 Oakland team as my team, choosing to go with the pinnacle of the Moneyball teams over the more powerful, but also more successful A's teams of the past. With MVP Tejada, Cy Young Zito, and the other stars of the team (Chavez, Hudson, Mulder), I felt pretty confident in my chances, even against the likes of the '82 Brewers and the '69 Orioles.

I was very, very wrong, though. Looking at the standings and my team's stats, it's pretty clear that the 2002 A's (as GMed by me, at least) were just overmatched. The home runs were certainly there - first in the AL - but nothing else came together (the pitching staff was third best in strikeouts, at least). The team on-base percentage, supposedly the hallmark of the team, was only good for 11th in the AL. Whatever it was, it added up to a fifth place, 73-89 finish for the team, securely in the second division.

Now, maybe I should've been a more proactive GM, sending weekly tweaks to Mike to try to get the most out of my roster - I don't know. I suspect it wouldn't have made much of a difference, though. Mike's 1922 Browns did win the division by 17 games, after all (and were 33 games better than my A's). I hardly think an extra 50 at-bats for David Justice or Olmedo Saenz would've made up that kind of difference.

Anyhow, those Browns will be facing Dave Dameshek's 1990 Pirates (a wild card winner) in the World Series later this week. On paper, it looks like the Pirates have no chance, considering the way the Browns have steamrolled through everything, but that doesn't seem to mean anything these days. In the prior league, Joe Posnanski and his Indians played the underdog to the steamrolling Red Sox (manager by Bill James) but he was somehow able to pull out the miracle World Series title. Dameshek has to be hoping for the same thing in the Near-Miss League.

You can find a fantastic article about the Browns and Pirates over at Seamheads. I can't wait to see if Dameshek will pull this thing out or if Mike will continue his juggernaut ways. And when it's time for the next Seamheads simulation league, I hope Mike thinks of me (if you do, Mike, I promise to be a more hand's on GM - it might be the only way for me to win).


Cyril Morong said...

Any idea why the 1922 Browns have done so well? Are their underlying stats that much better than the other teams' stats?

lar said...

If you look at the team standings, it just looks like they were far and away the best team in the league.

Their pitching staff ranked 1st or 2nd in the AL in all categories except walks (3rd) and strikeouts (last). To go along with that, they also had one of the better offenses, ranking below 4th in only four categories: OPS & SB (both 5th), walks (8th), and home runs (12th). They had the third best batting average and the most extra-base hits in the AL (even though they were nearly last in home runs).

I think that combination was just way too much for anyone to handle.

Cyril Morong said...

Thanks for all that info. But what was it about them in real life that made them so good statistically? Were they alot better than their record shows? I assume that a good simulator was used so that the results are at least somewhat realistic.

Cyril Morong said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cyril Morong said...

Using Retrosheet, here are some interesting facts about the 1922 season.

The Browns finished 1 game out, behind the Yankees. But the Browns had a run differential of 224 to the Yankees 140 (of course Ruth missed 44 games, most probably due to his suspension. He also got off to a slow start in May, batting just .190 with 2 HRs in 42 ABs).

The Browns had a 256 more hits than their opponents that year, 50 more walks and 27 more HRs. For the Yankees, it was 101-69-25. So the Browns stats look much better.

The Yankees beat the Browns 14 times out of 22 even though the Browns outscored the Yankees 105-100 in those games. Don't quote me on this, but it looks like the Yankees won all 8 of the 1-run games between the two teams that year, with 4 in extra innings. I will check that 1-run issue again.

In mid-Sept, the Yankees came to Stl. for the last series between the two teams that year. The Yanks were a half game ahead when the series started and won 2 out of 3. In the last game, the Browns led 2-0 after 7, but NY won it 3-2 with 2 in the 8th and 1 in the 9th. 2 of the 3 runs were unearned as the Browns made 3 errors.

Later, with 2 games for each team left, the Browns were 2 back. But both of them won game 153 and so it was over. But if the Browns had just one more win against NY, they would have been tied with 2 games left.

Cy Morong

lar said...


Sorry for not understanding your question at first. And thanks for those stats. It does tell a lot about what happened to that team. It was clearly a fantastic team that just didn't quite squeak in. Like you said, they could've done better vs. the Yanks that year...

Here's some of what I wrote about the squad in the Seamheads AL West preview I wrote. Some of it overlaps what you said but, when you take the two pieces together, I think you get a pretty strong idea of what that team was like (and considering just how good this team was, it really makes me wish I had chosen the 1930 A's as my team instead of the '02 squad):

Outfielder Ken Williams had a fantastic season, smacking 39 home runs with 155 RBIs, 128 Runs Scored, 37 stolen bases, and a .332 AVG for a 165 OPS+. In most every other year, that would’ve been good enough for an MVP. Instead, it was only good enough for 2nd place in the voting, behind teammate George Sisler. Sisler won the award mostly behind his 246 hits and .420 batting average. He also scored 134 runs and drove in 105 with an OPS+ of 172. Outfielders Jack Tobin and Baby Doll Jacobsen were also strong offensive contributors. The pitching staff was led by Urban Shocker (24-17, 2.97 ERA, 138 ERA+), though Elam Vangilder (19-13, 130 ERA+) and Ray Kolp (14-4, 105 ERA+) were key pieces.

The Heartbreak: The Browns and Yankees fought a tight race all the way to the end. In first place as late as September 6, the Browns were in an unfamiliar place. As the end of the season loomed, St. Louis found itself 3.5 games behind the Yankees with 4 games left to play. All the Browns could hope to do was win out their games and hope that the Yankees would lose out theirs. And it almost happened.

The Browns finished the season winning 6 of their last 7, including the final four of the season. The Yankees, on the other hand, lost 4 of their last 5. But the one win came at the right time, on the second to last day of the season, and helped secure the Yankees second straight trip to the World Series.

Cyril Morong said...

Thanks for all those additional stats. The 1922 Browns had a team offensive winning percentage of .577, good enough for the 90th best in AL history. Their team strikeout-to-walk ratio was 35% better than the league average. That ranks them as 31st best in AL history. Then their team ERA relative to the league was 119 (or 19% better). That ranks 81st.