These are not meant to be rigorous analysis, just some interesting things about a theme league team-building experience regarding some 1970s teams.
This team is for rmarsh915's "1970s 7-pack" theme league which should be fun. He had done a lot of work putting together a large number of packs using a "snake" method combining very good with very weak teams from across that decade. You pick one of the packs and build a team with a $100 million budget and 25 players, no AAA, WW etc.
I picked pack number 9 because it had a couple of teams I liked and admired from that period.
The 1974 New York Yankees were one of my favorite teams ever, a team I lived and died with at 14, listening to most of games in my room (did I mention I was 14 ? The TV was in the family room and the family was who I wanted to avoid usually). They were neck and neck with the Baltimore Orioles who throughout my child seemed like the Frost Giants of Viking mythology or something, a force of doom that could be not prevented. The Yankees finally came up short on the last day of the season when George Scott of the Brewers beat them with a walk-off hit and the Orioles came back to win their game.
The 1971 Athletics instead were a team I admired and would over the following years. For reasons not entirely clear to me to this day, despite living in New Jersey and being a Yankees fan I loved the Oakland sports teams of the early 70s, my passion for the Raiders being not necessarily inferior to that for the Yankees. And the As were more likable to me than the Orioles, if only because they weren't the ones we could never hope to catch in our division, but also because they had more personality (Vida Blue, Catfish Hunter and Reggie v. Jim Palmer - it's a no-brainer).
The other teams in the pack are the 1976 Orioles and Atlanta Braves, the 1975 Giants, the 1978 Blue Jays and the 1970 Houston Astros. The latter were the only team I had a vague memory of and I might have been able to tell you for sure that Phil Niekro pitched for the Braves and Grich played for Baltimore. Beyond that I would have had difficulty identifying these teams.
So here is what I figured would happen: the team would mostly consist of Athletics as starters, supplemented by Yankees who would get the benefit of the doubt where two players were even. I had to have a minimum of 3 players from each team, which meant mathematically that 7 was the max for any one team.
BUT, it ended up very differently. For one thing I learned that despite how very well they played, the 1974 Yankees consisted mainly of players who had off-seasons: Munson, Murcer, Chambliss, Nettles, Stottlemyre, and on and on -the whole core of either its previous stars such as they were or of the dynasty that was soon to follow had bad seasons. How they nearly overtook the Orioles is beyond me, but they played great that year is all I can say.
The one player I knew I wanted, the one that dominated that season, who seemed to be everywhere at once, was Elliott Maddox. He did hit .300 but had little power and was a good but not a great fielder. His OBP was what in retrospect we were watching and was a new concept for Yankees baseball at the time. I also took Lou Piniella, who did not have an off-season, but was surprised to find that Sparky Lyle was not at his 1972 or 1976-7 level either, though in the end budget issues and the quotas for each team had more to do with why I could not get him onto the team this time. I took Rudy May whom I recalled being good but who really was that year in a long relief role and as spot starter, and Steve Kline who had few IP, but a good set of stats.
So, hardly a Yankees-fan's utopia. Stranger is that I ended up with only three Athletics - Vida Blue who had one of those seasons that makes you feel young and the world in perpetual Spring even when you are middle aged; Reggie Jackson and Rollie Fingers - hardly original or creative of me.
The surprise is how good the Houston Astros were in 1970. To be sure, none of their pitchers made it onto the team, because there were others better from the other teams (the rotation is Jim Palmer '76, Blue, Montefusco '75 and Andy Messersmith '76). But Jim Wynn and Cesar Cedeno in the OF, and almost the whole starting IF - Doug Rader (one of the under-rated players of the era IMO), Joe Morgan and Denis Menke (his best season) all come from that team and it was a tough call to not take Lee May as well, but both for the kind of team I wanted and the need to have other players I took Willie Montanez from the Braves.
Cedeno won't start, but he and Piniella are as good a set of backup OFs as you could want. The rest are the starting team.
How good could the Astros have been ? Could they have come up with some pitching and been the dominant team in a couple of years instead of the Reds ? I don't know but talent they sure had. So, a nice bit of baseball history learned.
I also learned how bad a bad team can be: I usually figure that even bad teams have one sort of star, the 1960s Bobby Murcer or Sam McDowell, the 1990s Mike Sweeney, the 70s Steve Carlton. But in the case of the Blue Jays, yikes ! I took their catchers and a marginal utility player. The Giants had Chris Speier and it was a close call between him, Menke and Belanger but I took the latter two, the last for his incomparable defense.
So it went. It was fun, and I learned a lot. Should be a nice league. Hardly earth-shaking insights here, but for me a learning experience about an era I thought I knew well.