A fun little challenge

My friend passed this one along to me a few days ago. Perhaps someone out there somewhere has done it before, but I’ve not seen it. So, I decided to make a little game of it here on MVN. Submit your entry (or entries) as a comment. The winner gets my undying respect and admiration. And perhaps a cookie.
Here arethe rules:
Take your favorite Major League team (or any team, really… except for the Marlins, Rockies, D-Backs, and Devil Rays… you’ll see why in a minute) You’re going to construct a fictional/fantasy major league team using players from over the last 25 years of the franchise’s existence (’82-’06).
Your team must have all the features of a major league 25-man roster: 8 starting position players (and a DH in the AL… Brewer fans, you can decide which way you want to go), 5 starters, 6-7 relievers, and the rest as bench players. Your bench needs to have a catcher, and at least one infielder and one outfielder (the rest is your discretion). Position players need to have actually played primarily (i.e., greatest number of games)in the defensive spot where you have them assigned in the year you picked them. No picking Albert Pujols from last year, but assigning him to 3B “because he played there earlier in his career.” If you want Pujols ’06, he’s your 1B.
The catch, Part I: You only get one player per year. You’ll have to use all 25 years to get 25 players. So, you have to pick one player from the 1982 roster of your team, one from 1983 and so on. Partial seasons with the team are discouraged, but it’s not like I can stop you.
The catch, Part II: You can’t use the same player twice. So, Yankees fans, no loading up your bullpen with “Rivera ’96, Rivera ’97, Rivera ’98…” You have to pick which Mo you want on your team. Likewise, Indians fans, no cheating and having Jim Thome play both 3B (1995) and 1B (2000) on your team. There’s a reason that cloning humans is illegal.
Advanced placement: If you’d like a more advanced challenge, make it so that your bullpen can only have one “closer.” We’ll define closer as the guy who led his team in saves during the season in question. Only one of those. Everyone else has to be a setup guy.
Here’s why I like this exercise: For those of you who read blogs like Statistically Speaking or any of the other really good ones out there, but silently curse the fact that youfeellost on how to doSabermetric-type research, this exercise will get you familiar with the wealth of data that are out there already. It also makes you ask yourself, “What makes for a good baseball team? What stats are available? How can I make these sorts of decisions?” I encourage you to look at it from a statistical point of view, rather than making your picks for sentimental reasons (again, though, not like I can stop you)
For you seasoned vets, it’s a fun little brain teaser. For everyone, it’s a really good excuse to procrastinate on whatever you should be doing right now. I encourage you to write about what difficult decisions there were and how you finally made them.
In any case, have a little fun with it!


15 Responses to A fun little challenge

  1. Sean Smith says:

    SP Witt 86
    Weaver 06
    Blyleven 89
    Finley 90
    Abbott 92
    CL Harvey 91
    RP K-Rod 04
    Percival 95
    Cliburn 85
    Corbett 84
    Donnelly 03
    C Molina 05
    Boone 88
    1B Joyner 87
    2B Grich 83
    3B Glaus 00
    SS Eckstein 01
    IF Velarde 99
    IF Disarcina 98
    1b/of Erstad 97
    RF Salmon 93
    CF Edmonds 96
    LF Downing 82
    DH Davis 94
    OF Anderson 02

  2. Pizza Cutter says:

    Sean, how did I know you’d pick the Angels?

  3. Sean Smith says:

    You picked, as a starting point, the exact year I started following them.

  4. Sean Smith says:

    I loved Downing as a leadoff man. An interesting thing about him is that he was never slow. Not fast enough to steal bases, but never a baseclogger like Frank Thomas has become.
    I remember watching him score from 2nd on a single when he was over 40 and with the Rangers, and thinking, that old guy is not hurting them on the basepaths. And it sure helped that he was on the basepaths so much.

  5. Omar Siddiq says:

    I adjusted my team to conform with your standards. I now only have one closer, I have a long relief man, and a backup catcher.
    C Sandy Alomar Jr.1997
    1B Jim Thome 2002
    2B Roberto Alomar 1999
    SS Jhonny Peralta 2005
    3B Travis Fryman 2000
    LF Albert Belle 1995
    CF Kenny Lofton 1996
    RF Manny Ramirez 1998
    DH Travis Hafner 2006
    SP Bert Blyleven 1984
    SP C.C. Sabathia 2003 (Left)
    SP Rick Sutcliffe 1982
    SP Greg Swindell 1988 (Left)
    SP Jake Westbrook 2004
    CL Doug Jones 1990
    SU Paul Shuey 2001
    SU Jesse Orosco 1989 (Left)
    RP Erik Plunk 1994
    RP Derek Lilliquist 1992 (Left)
    RP Jerry Dipoto 1993
    Long RP Jeff Shaw 1991
    BN OF Brett Butler 1985
    BN IF Brook Jacoby 1987
    BN C Ron Hassey 1983
    BN OF Joe Carter 1986
    Kenny Lofton
    Roberto Alomar
    Travis Hafner
    Albert Belle
    Jim Thome
    Manny Ramirez
    Travis Fryman
    Jhonny Peralta
    Sandy Alomar Jr.
    This lineup would rival the infamous Bronx Bombers, consider that the punch and judy hitters at the bottom all have hit atleast 20 HR in the season picked. I had a hard time leaving out Sizemore as I think he is one of the best CF in the game however its easier when I can pick Hafner in his place for DH and plug in a 75 SB Kenny Lofton to hit in front of the spitter… er Roberto Alomar. It was nice to reunite the Alomar brothers and while Vic Martinez is a better offensive catcher usually in 97 Sandy matched Vic’s performance and heck it was the year he won the All Star MVP held in Cleveland. The Starting rotation was the toughest part to pick. All of these pitchers had great years when they were piced but many were on terrible teams so this looks like the weakest part of the team. The bullpen is surprisingly strong, something Cleveland is not known for but it has balance between L and R and there were enough career years to fill in the blanks. This is a great exercise and I recommend you all try it! This includes you Pizza Cutter, go on you can step out of the ziggaraut for a minute to post your team.

  6. […] I quite enjoyed this on the MVN Stats site … pick your favorites Braves team over the last 25 years, but with plenty of strings attached. […]

  7. Yankees. I had to bail on the one closer rule since we have three of the best of all time, couldn’t let myself live without them.
    SP Ron Guidry – 1985
    SP Jimmy Key – 1993
    SP David Wells – 1998
    SP Andy Pettite – 1996
    SP Mike Mussina – 2001
    RP Goose Gossage – 1982
    RP Lee Guetterman – 1989
    RP John Habyan – 1991
    RP Dave Righetti – 1986
    RP Jeff Nelson – 2000
    RP Mariano Rivera – 2004
    C Jorge Posada – 2003
    C Butch Wynegar – 1983
    1B Don Mattingly – 1984
    1B Tino Martinez – 1997
    DH/1B Kevin Maas – 1990
    2B Alfonso Soriano – 2002
    2B Willie Randolph – 1987
    3B Alex Rodriguez – 2005
    3B Wade Boggs – 1994
    SS Derek Jeter – 2006
    CF Bernie Williams – 1999
    LF Paul O’Neill – 1997 (*Liberty here that a solid RF can play LF*)
    RF Dave Winfield – 1988
    OF Danny Tartabull – 1992
    One of the hardest things to do was actually work Mariano Rivera onto the team. 2004 Gary Sheffield is a fantastic season, but I had too many outfielders as it was. Kevin Maas really doesn’t belong on this team, but the 1990 Yankees were a disaster. Working around a few career years and superstars is tough, there are amazing seasons and players not represented (2006 Cano, 2006 Wang, better years from Donny Baseball, etc).
    One of the most noteworthy snubs is Chuck Knoblauch, who is better defensively than Soriano, but you just can’t pass up Bernie Williams’ absolutely monster year in CF.
    This was actually pretty simple, as I take part in a historical baseball simulation where you must draft a player and a vintage, and only one person in the league can have each player. None of these guys are as obscure as Pat Collins, my starting catcher, who had one “career year” of .850 OPS in 1926.
    The Yankees have the benefit of a rich talent pool, but there is definetly a logjam at the top, with most of the talent bunched around the late 90s and present time.
    If you absolutely enforced the closer rule it would be doable, in most years when the Yankees had a great closer they also had a superb (or at least above average) setup man in front.

  8. Danny DiPaolo says:

    SP Joe Niekro, 1982
    SP Mike Scott, 1986
    SP Mike Hampton, 1999
    SP Roger Clemens, 2005
    SP Roy Oswalt, 2006
    CL Billy Wagner, 2001
    SU Octavio Dotel, 2002
    SU Brad Lidge, 2004
    RP Jeff Calhoun, 1985
    RP Juan Agosto, 1988
    RP Larry Andersen, 1989
    RP Xavier Hernandez, 1993
    C Alan Ashby, 1987
    C Tony Eusebio, 1995
    1B Jeff Bagwell, 1994
    2B Craig Biggio, 1997
    3B Sean Berry, 1996
    SS Dickie Thon, 1983
    LF Moises Alou, 1998
    CF Jose Cruz, 1984
    RF Richard Hidalgo, 2000
    IF Glenn Davis, 1990
    IF/OF Lance Berkman, 2003
    OF Luis Gonzalez, 1991
    OF Steve Finley, 1992
    Notable omissions:
    Nolan Ryan – his best Astro year was 1981 and really the pitching years I’ve got on here are pretty outstanding
    Roger Clemens’ Cy Young 2004 campaign – his 2005 campaign was arguably just as good or better, and I had to work Lidge’s 2004 in
    Ken Caminiti – he didn’t really turn it on until he went to San Diego
    Morgan Ensberg – unfortunately his 2005 season just had so many better options in it
    Sean Berry – even though we had some famous 3B throughout history (Caminiti, Castilla), they didn’t produce well while with the Astros. Ensberg’s 2005 is easily the best 3B season I could find, but Berry’s 1996 was not a BAD season and I think it’s the right choice
    Brad Lidge as a setup guy in 2004 – he finished with 29 saves and held the closer job by the end of the season but only because Dotel went down in season, he was a setup guy for the first 1/3 of the season or so
    Glenn Davis – he only played 90 or so games in 1990 but that lineup got constantly shuffled so there weren’t a lot of full-time starters, plus there is really not one good season for any player that year save maybe Dave Smith, the closer but obviously Wagner has had better seasons
    I really wanted Roy O to have a good 2003 for me to use and then I could use Berkman’s excellent 2006 season, but unfortunately Roy O started fewer than 20 games that season.
    1990 and 1991 sucked. Hard.
    This is tough when you team either has studs that carry the team each year or if they’re just really good in certain seasons. I guess that is what makes the exercise interesting 🙂

  9. Vladimir says:

    Here’s what I came up with for the Cubs, with a complete cop-out in 1985:
    C Rick Wilkins 1993
    1B Derrek Lee 2005
    2B Ryne Sandberg 1984
    3B Aramis Ramirez 2006
    SS Shawon Dunston 1989
    RF Sammy Sosa 2001
    CF Brian McRae 1995
    LF Andre Dawson 1988
    SP Greg Maddux 1992
    SP Mark Prior 2003
    SP Carlos Zambrano 2004
    SP Rick Sutcliffe 1987
    SP Steve Trachsel 1996
    Closer Rod Beck 1998
    RP Jay Baller 1985
    RP Lee Smith 1983
    RP Chuck McElroy 1991
    RP Mike Proly 1982
    RP Joe Borowski 2002
    IF Mark Grace 1997
    IF/C Hector Villanueva 1990
    IF Ricky Gutierez 2000
    IF Davy Lopes 1986
    OF Henry Rodriguez 199

  10. Vladimir says:

    I thought I replied here, but it hasn’t shown up. I shudder to think where I pasted my list of random Cubs if not here. This is less than inspiring, to say the least.
    C Rick Wilkins 1993
    1B Derrek Lee 2005
    2B Ryne Sandberg 1984
    3B Aramis Ramirez 2006
    SS Shawon Dunston 1989
    RF Sammy Sosa 2001
    CF Brian McRae 1995
    LF Andre Dawson 1988
    SP Greg Maddux 1992
    SP Mark Prior 2003
    SP Carlos Zambrano 2004
    SP Rick Sutcliffe 1987
    SP Steve Trachsel 1996
    Closer Rod Beck 1998
    RP Jay Baller 1985
    RP Lee Smith 1983
    RP Chuck McElroy 1991
    RP Mike Proly 1982
    RP Joe Borowski 2002
    IF Mark Grace 1997
    IF/C Hector Villanueva 1990
    IF Ricky Gutierez 2000
    IF Davy Lopes 1986
    OF Henry Rodriguez 199

  11. Vladimir says:

    Wonderful, both replies showed up, and I cut off the last line. I’ll just continue to spam your comments. That should have been Henry Rodriguez 1999, followed by a Glenallen Hill 1994.
    There’ve been a lot of bad Cubs over the years.

  12. O’Neill should be 1995, not 1997, my mistake

  13. marc w says:

    This was tough, but it was pretty fun…thanks! I’d also like to point out that this includes a good 10-12 years of utterly inept teams. This isn’t a short period of mediocrity; this is a solid decade, plus other random pockets of lastplace-ness.
    Of course, it also means that particular seasons jump out – certain positions/years are quite obvious. I think the keys are how to handle Edgar Martinez, and how to handle the bullpen. As it is, I haven’t got room for the absolute best bullpen years the M’s have had. I had to load up on bullpen arms early, because it’s not like I’m going to pick Joe Simpson/Spike Owen.
    1b – Alvin Davis 1989
    2b – Bret Boone 2001
    SS – Alex Rodriguez 1996
    3b – Edgar Martinez 1992
    CF – Ken Griffey Jr 1997
    RF – Ichiro! 2004
    LF – Phil Bradley 1985
    DH – Ken Phelps 1988
    C- Kenji Johjima 2006
    SP – Randy Johnson 1995
    SP – Mark Langston 1994
    SP – Jamie Moyer 2003
    SP – Erik Hanson 1990
    SP – Joel Pineiro 2002
    RP – Ed Vandeberg 1982
    RP – Bill Swift 1991
    RP – Mike Stanton 1983
    RP – Jerry Reed 1987
    RP – Bill Risley 1994
    RP – Paul Abbott 1999
    CL – Norm Charlton 1993
    Bench: OF – Mike Cameron 2000; IF Richie Sexson 2005; IF Rich Amaral 1998.
    Wow…1999, 1983 and 2003 are veerrrry tough. 2003 includes Hasegawa’s BABIP-driven 300 ERA+ season as well as Raffy Soriano’s electric season out of the pen. But I needed another SP, and a 20-win year out of Jamie Moyer seems at least as valuable as 70+ amazing innings from Soriano.
    Alvin Davis over Sexson improves the OBP, though I was tempted to put John Olerud’s 2002 in there for both OBP and defense.
    I think you could get more production out of the DH slot by getting one of Edgar’s huge years in there, but then you’re basically forced to use Mike Blowers at 3B, or perhaps even Jim Pressley.
    I picked Amaral for his ability to steal a bag, and Sexson to platoon with Phelps and/or Davis. The pen has a decent mixture of lefties and righties, though there are a fair number of BABIP lucky fluke seasons in there. But hey, if we can isolate in advance those years that a guy is BABIP lucky, is it really so bad?
    Tough cuts:
    1B John Olerud, SP Scott Bankhead, RPs Jeff Nelson, Arthur Rhodes, Shiggy Hasegawa, Rafael Soriano, Kaz Sasaki; 2b Julio Cruz, C Dan Wilson (Kenji’s gonna have to go all 162, I guess)

  14. Al Nugent says:

    Red Sox:
    1982 Eckersley P 13-13 WHIP 1.21
    1983 Rice LF OPS .911
    1984 Easler DH/PH OPS .892
    1985 Gedman C OPS .846
    1986 Boyd P 16-10 WHIP 1.25
    1987 Boggs 3B OPS 1.049
    1988 Greenwell OF OPS .946
    1989 Burks CF OPS .836
    1990 Clemens P 21-6 WHIP 1.08
    1991 Reardon P 1-4 40 Saves WHIP 1.18
    1992 Viola P 13-12 WHIP 1.27
    1993 Darwin P 15-11 WHIP 1.07
    1994 Scott Cooper 3B OPS .786
    1995 Wakefield P 16-8 WHIP 1.18
    1996 Vaughn 1B OPS 1.003
    1997 John Valentin 2B (that year) OPS .871
    1998 Gordon P 7-4 46 Saves WHIP 1.01
    1999 Martinez P 23-4 WHIP 0.92
    2000 Garciaparra SS OPS 1.033
    2001 Garces 6-1 WHIP 1.19
    2002 Ramirez LF OPS 1.097
    2003 Nixon RF OPS .975
    2004 Varitek C OPS .872
    2005 Arroyo P 14-10 WHIP 1.30
    2006 Ortiz DH OPS 1.049
    My starters would be:
    Ellis Burks CF
    Wade Boggs 3B
    Manny Ramirez LF
    David Ortiz DH
    Nomar Garciaparra SS
    Mo Vaughn 1B
    John Valentin 2B
    Trot Nixon RF
    Jason Varitek C
    with starting pitching:
    Pedro Martinez
    Tim Wakefield
    Roger Clemens
    Oil Can Boyd
    Danny Darwin
    I took a different approach, trying to maximize the OPS for the hitters and minimize the WHIP for the pitchers for those 25 years. It’s impossible to fit everyone in. I started by trying to max the OPS and then went to minimize the WHIP for the pitching (typical Red Sox fan!). It was real difficult to be happy with all the choices. I left out some of my favorites including Jim Lonborg, Yaz, Luis Tiant, Dwight Evans, and more…… I think this team still needs 2 closers (Reardon and Gordon) , but I would sure like to see the games.

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