Retrospective comments below:
$70 Mil – Low Budget Expos/Nats
The obvious key driver for the low cap seems to be speed. I also wanted to balance it as best as I could with some power given the modern twist of the theme. I figured that I would go with a Cards team as many have built but when it came down to deciding it actually came down to between the Expos and A’s. I liked the balance of the pitching staff better with the Expos so I went with them. ’85 Bryn Smith, ’78 Steve Rogers and ’94 Pedro anchor the staff. On the hitting side – I have the usual SB suspects in Raines and LeFlore. Vladdy adds more SBs and pop. Part-time Gary Carter to cut down on the SB teams. I usually find low cap themes boring and this is not much different. I have had moderate success with the low-caps and wouldn’t be at all shocked to have between 75-85 wins with this team.
This turned out to be the right choice for me as we cruised to 92 wins and the division title without much trouble. We had the best ERA in the league (2nd in runs against) which was a bit of a surprise but probably in large part due to the balance of the staff and the moderate pitchers park (Olympic Stadium). The offence finished a respectable 6th in runs scored due to the nice combo of power and speed. My first round opponent is discodemo so likely a quick playoff exit for this team.
$80 Mil – MNH’s Chapter 1
With a team name ready to fly in the face of any WIS jinx I was prepared for a theme that would drive me insane. I fairly quickly realized that this wouldn’t be the case. I started with pitching and looked for the usual deadball suspects. I have Joss but neither team has the ’08 version. I like to have a fairly balanced staff that gives me a chance to win each game and didn’t see it happening spending all that money on the ’08 version. For the pen I knew I had to go modern to give me a chance to have back to back quality seasons (except for 1915 George Dumont). The pitching staff came around fairly quickly and was right around the 40mil mark which is my comfort level. For the bats I just started by looking at cookie/speed type guys. Tried to get walks and XBHs and didn’t really worry about homers due the likelihood of facing a bunch of deadballers. As some have mentioned, finding that key awful player who had back to back sub 300k seasons was very satisfying. All the pieces ended up fitting pretty well at the end – after a tweak or two to the pitching staff I was pretty much set. Once I had the team set I didn’t bother looking at it again (very different from any other theme I’ve ever done). One change would set off a chain reaction and it wasn’t worth it to me. My round 1 team certainly has better hitting but my round 2 team might have a bit better pitching. Nonetheless, I chose what I thought was the better team for round 1. I figured that milking the most of my IP would be an important factor so I lowered my total IP to 1282 (including 58 mopup) and put the team in Safeco. I don’t think it should be an issue but after last year’s round 2-80 mil fiasco I wouldn’t be shocked at anything at this point. Assuming fatigue issues are kept in check this team should be just fine and contend for a playoff spot.
I am genuinely proud of this team. By biggest pitching fatigue fears were realized and the staff was gassed by the 40 game mark. My mop up guys gave up a whopping 208 runs (!) and my team would have finished 2nd in the league in ERA without them (although to be fair I would have to disregard everyone’s mop-up guys for the comparison….regardless, the rest of the staff was very solid). Despite the pitching problems my team managed to win 94 games and a 1 game playoff vs schwarze. To me this is very impressive considering we were on the verge of an epic meltdown that would have single handedly taken me out of the 2nd round. I am concerned about my 2nd round team given my original plan was to have less IP – I am going to have to revisit that idea obviously.
$90 Mil – 1916 Chicago Cubs
I certainly love these types of themes. This one and the 100 mil one were the most fun for me. I pretty much looked at every season to find that one perfect team and leaned towards more twists than less. I never did find that perfect team but I did look strongly at the 1907 and 1908 Red Sox and the 1926 and 29 Cards. The 26 Cards were too two player heavy (Hornsby and Alexander) – didn’t like that. The 29 Cards didn’t leave me very comfortable with the pitching staff. The ’07 Sox had great pitching but not enough guys who got on base. I finally had to decide on the ’08 Red Sox vs my chosen Cubs team. My problem with the ’08 Sox team was that it was too heavily weighted to pitching (in terms of dollars) so pretty much by default I chose the Cubs team who had the best balance in my opinion. A strong starting staff of ’14 Hendrix, ’18 Vaughn and ’04 Brown should keep me in just about every game. The bullpen is thin with only 3 useable pitchers (all from 1916 fortunately). To complement the strong staff, the lineup is very balanced. ’14 Dutch Zwilling, ’12 Heinie Zimmerman and ’14 Art Wilson will be studs given normalization. In addition we have ’23 Cy Williams and ’11 Frank Schulte. They will have some sneaky pop (again given normalization) and I stuck them in Weeghman Park (+2 Hrs) to help them hit the ball out. Through 5 games they have 11 HRs which is somewhat surprising but fitting with what I was trying to accomplish. I am a bit surprised that only 1 other owner took them so I have a bit of cause for concern but under 90 wins will be a failure for this team in my view.
It looks like this was the right choice and my pre-season prediction was bang on. We cruised to the division title with 101 wins and never really had much trouble. Generally this means a 1st round playoff loss for me. We led the league in HRs, which for a 1916 team is pretty outrageous. 2nd in the league in runs scored and 7th in ERA. My first time using ’14 Hendrix was a pleasant one as he was the anchor of my staff going 32-10 and winning the Cy Young award.
$100 Mil – 1910 Cards, Sens, Naps, Sox and Cubs
I could probably write a dissertation on my process for selecting this team. I was a little disappointed that given the amount of time I spent searching I was never entirely happy with my options. I looked at every season every which way pretty much; great teams with terrible teams, average teams and other average teams. It came down to 2011, 1992, 1928 and 1910. I didn’t like the structure of my staff for the 2011 team so they were gone. From the comments here I have seen others who structured a more sound staff than mine for this season. Oh well. 1992 looked pretty good in all aspects but they were too vanilla. 1928 had amazing hitting and 1910 had amazing pitching. In the end I got too scared of the 1928 staff at this cap. Not one person took 1928 so it looks like I likely made the right call by staying away. I am actually quite surprised at some of the staffs that people felt comfortable with at this cap – given this likely won’t play as a true 100 I could be way off on this opinion. I have ’10 Johnson and Walsh leading the way and decided to trim some dollars on my 3rd starter for better hitting from the Cubs and went with Brown there. The hitting could be a serious problem with no one really of note other than Lajoie and Solly Hofman. Johnson and Walsh will have to carry a big load for this team to be a contender for the playoffs. I guess I’m hoping that everyone’s teams pretty much suck but it will be interesting to see what strategies ended up paying off.
This team was a failure and really my only bad team from round 1. We had some trouble in 1-run games but really it was our inability to score runs that was the downfall of this team. I am not sure why I thought the hitting would be enough – Hofman and Lajoie underperformed I guess but this team was never really going anywhere. It seems other owners found success with 1910 so I likely just had the wrong combination of teams.
$110 Mil – As Good As Silver
Thankfully I got a bit of experience from last year’s WISC with Silver – otherwise I may have really screwed this team up. I started by choosing 2 200ipish SPs to tandem with King. I originally had ’95 Maddux and ’00 Pedro but didn’t want to spend that kind of $$$ so downgraded to ’14 Dutch Leonard and ’06 Doc White (two lefties in case everyone went LH to counter King). This might not be much of a downgrade in fact and it saved me a bunch of dough. From there I just finished the staff with fairly premium low IP relievers. I ended up bumping my IP up a bit after some tweaking – I went from the low 1400IPs to 1498 (including 57 mop up) due to the DH and the fact that King’s 700 ips aren’t true 700 ips. I stuck them in Safeco just to be safe and figure that King could probably take a beating every once in a while if I had to serve him up at low rest (since he would bounce back and not suffer an IP death spiral). For hitting I knew I wanted speed and a balance of high average and walks (to counter any owners who threw out some non-King low avg/higher bb guys). I also tried to get some decent to great fielding to help King out. I expect 90 wins+ for this team.
This was my best team, winning 104 games (and an even better exp winning percentage of .690). This team caught fire about half way through the season and never looked back finishing 3rd in the league in ERA and 4th in the league in runs scored. I never had much of an issue with IP and my lineup was well balanced with speed, power and average. As above, likely a 1st round playoff loss for this great regular season team.
$120 mil – Maddux & Rivera, Hornsby & Foxx
When I first read the rules for this theme I was pretty disappointed but seeing the various strategies used I think it will actually be a fun one to follow. From the get go I figured I would use 1 pitcher and 2 hitters (I didn’t want to play guys out of position because I don’t have the experience of knowing how to do it or when it could/couldn’t work). I built Maddux, Pedro and Mordecai teams. I ditched Pedro because he was too expensive and went with Maddux over Mordecai due to Maddux filling more roster spots. I think Maddux might be the best, most consistent pitcher in the sim and certainly can throw out 4/5 seasons against anyone so I feel he was the obvious choice here. I then looked at hitting and quickly realized that a lot of guys I wanted to use wouldn’t work because they simply didn’t have enough cheap seasons. I found that Hornsby had a few and could play multiple positions. For catcher it was between Foxx and Boudreau for me. Foxx could play a bit of OF and had some cheap seasons too so this was a no brainer. At this point I realized that I was wasting over 5 million in money due to not having enough cheap players and also didn’t really like the structure of my Maddux-only pitching staff. Since I had wasted 5 mil I had no problem adding another player. I humoured myself by first adding Raines and seeing how much that helped my situation. It obviously didn’t solve my pitching issue so I got rid of Raines and looked at who I could use in relief. Rivera was the obvious choice here. He filled a ton of roster spots to the point where I don’t have any excess IPs or Abs. I put the team in Yankee Stadium (III) to take advantage of the Pedro teams I am likely to face. I have high hopes for this team and feel that this theme will very quickly separate the haves from the have-nots.
This was easily my most frustrating team. I don’t understand what happened in this theme and feel if we ran it all again we would get some very different results in terms of teams that were successful. My team finished with a .626 exp winning percentage but was 5 games out of a playoff spot. We also went 36-45 at home which is confusing to me given the homerun nature of my team and park. We finished 3rd in ERA and I was entirely disappointed with the Jimmie Foxx component of my hitting. Blah.