User Interview: jfranco77

Q&A with noted SimLeague Baseball user jfranco77

We recently contacted veteran user jfranco77 to discuss SimLeague Baseball, more baseball a daddy's dream for his little girl, Ichiro, Pittsburgh and much more.

WIS

Thanks for taking the time out to meet with us. Who is jfranco77?

jfranco77

I'm not *that* John Franco, or Julio Franco either, but my name is John Franco. I'm a 32-year old technical support manager and avid baseball fan (both real and simulated). My wife and I just had our first child - a new daughter - and we live in Pittsburgh, PA.

WIS

So your not *really* John Franco? Thats disappointing. How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?

jfranco77

From another online message board that I frequent (rotojunkie.com) - we needed something to do to fill the time during the off-seasons.

WIS

Well, thank you rotojunkie for Mr. Franco. You seem to have played a lot of SimLeague Baseball. Why is that? What about SimLeague baseball is so appealing to you?

jfranco77

I love the challenge and the variety. I play almost exclusively in theme and progressive leagues, so there's always something new to try. I love to experiment and see what works (and what doesn't) and I love the different challenges that come with each league. I'm also a huge stats geek, so I love having a whole season's worth of numbers that I can examine after the fact.

WIS

Besides simulation sports websites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

jfranco77

Real fantasy baseball is high on the list. Beyond that, most of my time is spent with my family and watching TV. I'm also an avid reader - both baseball and sports books, as well as fiction.

WIS

You really love this fantasy and online baseball stuff dont you? What is your favorite sports moment?

jfranco77

It's tough to beat this year's Fourth of July - I went to the new Yankees Stadium with the family, saw the Yankees win a crazy game in extra innings, and couldn't have possibly had a better time.

WIS

That's nice. I bet it was awesome. Speaking of awesome...what is your favorite WIS moment?

jfranco77

Winning the WIS Championship in 2008. It was an amazing honor to prove that I can hang with the best of the best and it was a lot of fun building and managing all of those different teams. We'll just ignore the fact that I got bounced in the first round in 2009.

WIS

Well, Mr. Champion, which five people, past or present sit at your dream roundtable discussion?

jfranco77

We'll try to keep the discussion focused mostly on sports. I'd start with Bill James - whether or not you believe all of his methodology is still valid, he's definitely going to bring a lot to the table, and he knows more than just sabermetrics. Since I probably couldn't get Jed Bartlet to attend, I'd invite Barack Obama, a similarly brilliant and interesting president who also happens to like sports. I'd also invite Vin Scully, who's probably forgotten more baseball than I've ever seen, and whose voice I never get tired of hearing. Finally, Denis Leary and Jon Stewart have to be there for commentary and humor (and they're both sports fans to boot).

WIS

We have been unsuccessful in sitting down with the President, maybe you can have better luck. Which are your favorite teams of all-time?

jfranco77

I grew up in New York, so I'm a Yankee guy first. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, so the Pitt football and basketball teams are also high on the list. In terms of one specific team, I'll always have a place in my heart for the late 90s Yankees teams with Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius and Bernie Williams.

WIS

If only they were the Pittsburgh Yankees...

Did you play any baseball (or other sports) growing up?

jfranco77

I played little league baseball and also played a lot of street hockey.

WIS

Who are your favorite players of all time? Baseball or any sport.

jfranco77

It's hard not to love Ichiro Suzuki. He's just as exciting on defense and on the bases as he is at the plate, and you always want to see what he'll do next. He's also quotable off the field and he clearly plays the game with a lot of joy. Going back a few years, I'd have to pick Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams - one fiery and one cool as ice, but both were fun to watch.

WIS

What is the top sports related thing you want to do in life that you have not yet done?

jfranco77

Despite the fact that I've probably attended over 250 baseball games in my life, I've never caught a foul ball or a home run. But I'm more excited about taking my daughter to her first baseball game.

WIS

Oh how sweet, and what game would that be?

jfranco77

Hopefully it will be a Yankees game in a couple of years! It isn't scheduled yet.

WIS

You and those Yankees...In SimLeague baseball, what is your general strategy for building teams? Do you draw on the influence or philosophy of any actual general managers or managers?

jfranco77

Regardless of the type of team I'm building, I always go for value. The goal is to draft enough PAs and IPs without drafting too many. Since you pay for defense by the plate appearance, I try to put my better fielders at the bottom of the lineup.

If there's no AAA, then I will try to create some platoons to use as many of the 25 players as possible. If there are AAA players available then I think about the holes they can fill and also avoid wasting unnecessary cash on the players they'll be replacing. I also tend to go to the opposite extreme from my home park - so I'd put a hitting team in a pitchers' park and vice versa. Given a choice, I usually go for pitching, speed and defense. You could call it the Whitey Herzog approach as I usually try to have one slugger in the middle of the lineup, ala Jack Clark.

WIS

How do you go about setting your lineups?

jfranco77

Plate appearances are the most important thing. The guy with the most bats leadoff, unless the salary cap isn't a factor. When drafting my team, I try to stick to a plan so I know what my lineup would look like. If I have platoons then I try to draft a lefty with about 75-80% of the plate appearances I'd like from that lineup spot. That said, if my best hitter has 620 PA/162, I will find a way to get him into the 3-4 spot for 145-150 games rather than hit him 8th all year.

WIS

How do you go about setting your pitching staffs?

jfranco77

For a long time, I didn't use a closer, figuring that the sim could manage my pitchers best with fewer restrictions. But since you really can't know for sure and there are plenty of high-leverage situations in the 9th inning, generally I will put one of my best relievers as a closer and try to ensure they reach their IP/162 totals. Beyond that, I like to have a Long A or B that can soak up some lower-leverage innings. I'll use any rotation that fits my pitchers best: 2-man, 6-man, tandems, etc.

WIS

Do you make transactions during the season to try and separate yourself from others?

jfranco77

I really try not to make too many transactions. It's hard to find a perfect match in a trade and I don't usually have any excess lying around. I'm always amazed when someone has the flexibility to trade a $6 million 1B for a $6 million SP. I wonder if they had that 1B on the bench the whole time. If I do make a move, it will be for balance - I might try to swap a $4mil 1B and $7mil SP for a $7mil 1B and $4mil SP if my offense is struggling a bit.

WIS

Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your teams?

jfranco77

Babe Ruth really is the best player in history - he never lets me down in the sim. Beyond that, I just have types: high-walk, low-OAV lefties like Al Leiter and Randy Johnson's early seasons, players with high success rates in stealing bases, and pitchers who keep the ball in the ballpark.

WIS

Do you spend much time in the forums?

jfranco77

Absolutely. When I was first getting started with WIS baseball, it was a tremendous resource. Now that I've got more experience, I try to lend a hand to others who are where I used to be.

WIS

Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?

jfranco77

My two favorite theme league commissioners are genemock91 and futurekid6. They both run multiple great leagues and always give me a challenge. As a competitor, I always seem to be involved in heated rivalries with mensu1954. Schwarze is another great owner, and while I don't want to make this list excessively long, I also really enjoy the regular owners in my Favorite Player leagues - savvy, mr_rye, calnah, SAKABAKBRG, timetoplay5, river_rats, jedijeff and bigboy63.

WIS

If you were in one of our games, which sport would you play? At which position? And, what would you cost?

jfranco77

I'd have to go for baseball so I could use myself. I'd probably be an innings-eating starter who doesn't give up many HRs or walks, something in the $4-$5mil range.

WIS

Well its been fun hearing you talk endlessly about baseball. Thanks a lot for your time jfranco77 and good luck in life and in WIS.

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