No American sport enjoys as rich or as storied a history as baseball. For toddleduc, one of the joys of SimLeague Baseball is learning more about our national pastime as he assembles teams with players from any season going back to 1885. Toddleduc has specialized in draft and progressive leagues since he first joined WhatIfSports.com in 2005. He took a short hiatus from his squads to discuss, among other things, his strategies for drafting teams and his favorite players to target.
toddleduc SimLeague Baseball Overall Records
toddleduc Tournament of Champions Records
WIS: Who is toddleduc?
toddleduc: I grew up in Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg in the Chicago suburbs a lifelong, broken-hearted Cubbies fan. I remember the days when the Pope from Wrigley to Rush St, Harry Caray, would beam the games into our living room. An Old Style-guzzling Saint who loved life, he was a one-of-a kind institution who would say things during his broadcast like: "Ga-la-ra-ga spelled backwards is (Ag-ar-al-ag...pass me another Old Style, Steve!). When I wasn't out playing baseball I would watch all the games I could on WGN and sneak a small transistor radio under my pillow after bedtime and listen to as much of the late West Coast (9:30pm) games a kid could stay awake for.
WIS: How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?
toddleduc: I stumbled onto WIS on accident looking for Fantasy Baseball sites...I never knew that something like WIS even existed. I loved the idea of being able to assemble your own team of anyone in the history of the game and when I found Draft Leagues and Progressives I was sold...
Drafts and Auctions are the most fun part to me. Have a cool League concept and a good Draft or Auction - and if I have the time - I'm there...In fact - my apologies being so late getting this back to you - I was knee-deep in my 54th ESPN Auction Draft the last month, lol...
That's one thing I'd love to have WIS add is an "Auction Draft" program. We could have all sorts of "Auction Drafts" from a particular year or theme.
WIS: Which of our games have you played? Which do you prefer?
toddleduc: Just SimLeague Baseball...but I'd like to try SimLeague Football sometime. LIVE play and LIVE Leagues are something else I recommend everyone try. It's a lot more satisfying calling your own shots, especially making your own bullpen on Live play. And from my LIVE community - we could use and would be grateful for an upgrade in some way if the programmers get a chance.
WIS: What are some of your interests and hobbies?
toddleduc: I love Music and Beer. From Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, early U2, Jack Johnson, the Grateful Dead, Stones, Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, Wilco...I like a good microbrew...IPAs, Porters, Stouts...New Belgium 1554 on draft...if it's good, I like it, lol...
WIS: Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?
toddleduc: That's a good one...hmmm...Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Rogers Hornsby - as they were arguably five of the best hitters the game has ever had - but I'd have to add a couple seats at the table to share the experience with a couple of friends back in Chicago: Brian Kovar and Shawn Phillips because they would be able to appreciate meeting those fellas as much as I would. We'd order a whole bunch of good Chicago thin crust and deep dish pizza, and plenty of good beer as we try to drink Babe Ruth under the table. :)
WIS: Did you play any sports growing up?
toddleduc: I played baseball up through high school and at Columbia College, Chicago. Played a couple of seasons for the Chicago Tigers adult hardball league. I definite miss playing the game a lot...Kovar and Phillips are still playing summer ball, those lucky bastards!
Ted Williams is toddleduc's all-time favorite player and would sit at his dream roundtable discussion.
WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players?
toddleduc: Ted Williams without a doubt. I'm left-handed and played the outfield and wore No. 9 myself. He had the best swing and combination of great hitter and home run hitter the game has probably ever seen. And Roy Hobbs; favorite baseball movie is still the Natural.
WIS: Do you have any sports-related items on your bucket list that you have not yet done?
toddleduc: I need to for sure see Cooperstown, and catch a game at Fenway Park.
WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?
toddleduc: Hmmm...hard to say...having a good draft where you feel like you put a good team together. And then if they play really, really well? That's just icing on the cake.
WIS: You currently have 13 SimLeague Baseball teams and three TOC teams. What is the most teams you've ever had at one time?
toddleduc: 25 or so probably, lol? Whewww...it can get overwhelming especially if they are mostly progressive with drafts and research popping up every other week, four drafts overlapping at once, lol.
WIS: Is it challenging to keep all of your teams organized?
toddleduc: Yes, it can be for sure...
WIS: Do you have any favorite team names for your teams?
toddleduc: I've had so many over the years...I wish my memory were better...Hilltop Hooligans, Chicago Harry Carays, Montreal Mullets, Philadelphia Fu Manchus, Popes of Greenwich Village, Oakland Disco Dogs, Atlanta Rabid Rabbits...
WIS: Do you have any favorite SimLeague Baseball theme or progressive leagues?
toddleduc: UNO is the most fun Draft and play I've ever been in. We need to get a version of that going over here. I like the couple of Auction Leagues I've been in, Dodgeball is always fun, and these Eliminator Leagues are fun. If I have the time, I'm up for anything interesting. I'm set for life between ESPN and WIS when I retire as far as not being bored, lol.
WIS: What is your general strategy for building teams in SimLeague Baseball?
toddleduc: I generally do drafts and go starting pitching-heavy and if there are any stud-hitting middle infielders or even third baseman to grab...There's generally plenty of productive outfielders and first basemen available. I'm a big fan of a lower strikeout rate from hitters if I can get it, thinking that IF they made more contact they'd have a better chance of getting that sacrifice fly or run-scoring groundout. On the pitching side of things, I go for as low of HR/9 allowed as possible and I like low OAV. I also look at ERC+ to gauge where guys fit in for same season Leagues.
WIS: How does your strategy differ from when you first discovered the game nearly eight years ago?
toddleduc: Probably how to do better and faster research. I have learned so much about the history of baseball that I've soaked in playing WIS that I honestly don't know if I'd have learned otherwise, so thanks to WIS for that for teaching a lot of us that history...and being able to relive it.
WIS: Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your teams?
toddleduc: I'm a sucker for Pete Alexander and Three Finger Brown, they both do well for me. I like Roberto Alomar, Alan Trammell, and either Chipper Jones, George Brett, Ken Caminiti at third, Elston Howard behind the dish, Carlos Beltran's great KC season in CF...
Pete Alexander is featured on many of toddleduc's SimLeague Baseball teams. During the pitcher's 20-year career, he topped 300 innings pitched during nine seasons, including a career-high 389 IP in 1916.
WIS: Do you make transactions during the season to try and separate yourself from others?
toddleduc: Rarely...I don't like to give up draft picks for a quick fix that may or may not pay off. If I think my team has a good shot at going all the way and I can get a bullpen arm, a starter, or a key hitter, then maybe I'll pull off a deal.
WIS: How much time do you spend on your SimLeague Baseball teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?
toddleduc: I like to put in enough research to have a draft plan or at least know who's good at which positions... you have to assess the talent that's out there and when to go get it...
WIS: Despite making it to five TOC Finals, you have yet to win at TOC Championship. What has prevented you from winning the big one?
toddleduc: Lol, ouch...I play mostly all Progressives so those are generally the types of teams I have in the TOC that generally don't stand a chance in multi-season and wide open leagues.
WIS: If you were to give one piece of advice to a new user, what would it be?
toddleduc: Whatever sports you're interested in checking out, check out all the different types of Leagues there are.
WIS: What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague Baseball?
toddleduc: The Drafts and the Forums "self-serve" ability for us to create League ideas and get them started.
WIS: Least favorite? What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?
toddleduc: I wish Live play was a bit more interesting visually somehow - maybe have little thumbnail pictures like when we used baseball cards and dice back in the old days :) That and I'd love to see some form of Auction program – that would be a LOT of fun.
WIS: Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?
toddleduc: I've played in a LOT of Leagues over eight years with a lot of great, fun guys... on the LIVE side, joshkvt, The Taint, verynice, BastanRedSox, habsfsfan when he was around... the five of us were in almost every cool league that was worth playing in at one point, lol.
WIS: If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?
toddleduc: I'm left-handed and had some pop and speed back in the day and had some good range in the outfield. Kirk Gibson comes to mind, May 1988 but with at least B+ range, lol. Could I make a last request that Harry Caray call my last home run of my career? "Way Back! It might be – it could be – it is!! Hooooly Coooow!!"
WIS: We thank toddleduc for participating and sharing with the WhatIfSports.com community.