I’m one game away from winning my first Online Strat-O-Matic Baseball championship. For a nerd like me, this is epic.
To celebrate this accomplishment, I’ve created a collage of all the players on my team’s roster, along with a mock-up of what their uniforms might look like. After all, this is fantasy baseball at its best. Why not have fun with it?
(The jersey is actually a design copied from the 1942 Oakland Oaks, available for purchase through Ebbets Field Flannels.)
But there’s more to this effort than just celebrating victory. I’m celebrating diversity. I’m celebrating balance.
Let me explain.
The Woes of Drafting a Team
Every time I start to draft a Strat team using their All-Time Greats player set, I’m faced with tough decisions.
Do I go for crazy offensive power or opt for dominating pitching? Lord knows I can’t have both with the 80 million dollar salary cap.
Do I go for speed? On-base percentage? Maybe I stack my team with sluggers and pick a home run friendly park.
I’ve tried many different approaches, some met with success and others not so much. But with this recent team I had one focus: balance.
In order to create a balanced team I needed to have an even distribution of lefties and righties, with some switch hitters thrown in.
I also needed to be careful with my funds. It’s easy to go for the expensive players thinking they will guarantee victory, but this seems to always create problems with balance.
My good friend BG said it best: If you boost one aspect of your team, you take away something somewhere else.
It was important for me to have some speed, some power, good utility players, at least one all-star, solid pitching (including a good bullpen), and above average defense. Oh, I wanted a core of dependable players; players that would be healthy day in and day out.
I felt meeting these goals would build a balanced team that could match up decently with any opponent.
Of course this also meant selecting a home field that was neither too hitter friendly or too pitcher friendly. I needed a ballpark that was just as balanced as my team would be.
In the end, I think I did ok. It’s time to introduce the team.
The Huddersfield Hummingbirds
The Hummingbirds have players from nearly every decade, spanning from 1905 to 1989.
Leading off is center fielder, Richie Ashburn, from the 1958 Philadelphia Phillies. He’s a steal (pun intended). For under 5 mil he brings stellar stats and lighting speed (.350/.440/.441).
Batting second is second baseman, Roberto Alomar, from the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays. (I apologize that his picture above is from Cleveland. I chose quality over accuracy. Again, balance.) Roberto is a top-rated fielder (1e8) sacrificing nothing with his bat (.310/.405/.427). He’s 7.49 mil, but worth every penny.
Batting third is right fielder, Chino Smith, an all-star from the Negro League. Chino brings the golden bat (.388/.435/.621). He has serious RBI potential and always seems to come up with the big hit. Plus, he looks like a total badass.
In the cleanup spot is first baseman, Hank Greenberg, from the 1938 Detroit Tigers. Hank was one of the first Jewish sports superstars. One of his nicknames was “The Hebrew Hammer” because of his home run power. He hit 58 home runs in 1938 and is a great slugger (.315/.438/.683) for under 9 million dollars.
Batting fifth is left fielder, Ben Oglivie, from the 1980 Milwaukee Brewers. He is the yin to Hank Greenberg’s yang. Hank brings right-handed power and hits right-handed pitching well. Ben has left-handed power and hits left-handed pitching well. In 1980 he hit over 40 home runs and had over 100 RBIs. He brings a stat line well worth 5.56 million dollars (.304/.362/.563).
Batting sixth is third baseman, Bill Madlock, from the 1979 Pittsburg Pirates. Bill brings a good mix of hitting and speed with a .298 batting average and over 30 stolen bases (.298/.355/.438). He’s cheap and perfect for the six spot.
Batting seventh is shortstop, Bud Harrelson, from the 1971 New York Mets. Bud has a gold glove (1e19), stellar speed, and a great bat. Even though his stat line is so-so (.252/.319/.303) he is excellent for bunts and hit-and-run plays. Plus, he’s another switch hitter in the lineup.
Batting eighth is a catcher platoon of Jody Davis (1984 Chicago Cubs) and Jerry Grote (1969 New York Mets). Although they’re both right-handed hitters, Jerry hits lefties well (.252/.313/.351) while Jody destroys right-handed pitching (.256/.315/.421). Both are solid catchers with decent arms.
Batting ninth is the pitcher. Ken Hill (1992 Montreal Expos) is my best hitting pitcher (6NR) but also won 20 games for the Hummingbirds with his arm. This was a great surprise seeing that Ken is number three in a four man rotation. Eddie Plank (1905 Philadelphia A’s) is my ace (2.26/1.04) but struggled this season going 14-19. The rotation is rounded out by Nick Maddox (1909 Pittsburg Pirates) and Jim Kaat (1971 Minnesota Twins).
I owe it to my bullpen to give them some credit as well. Wilcy Moore (1927 New York Yankees), Craig Lefferts (1984 San Diego Padres), Gary Lucas (1981 San Diego Padres), and Mark Williamson (1989 Baltimore Orioles) combined for 30 wins and 44 saves. It should also be noted that 75% of my bullpen sports a creepy mustache.
My bench players contributed greatly, but because of laziness I’m only listing their names in the roster/photo listing below.
Complete Roster as Pictured Above
- Richie Ashburn
- Roberto Alomar
- Chino Smith
- Hank Greenberg
- Ben Oglivie
- Bill Madlock
- Bud Harrelson
- Jody Davis
- Jerry Grote
- Eddie Plank
- Nick Maddox
- Ken Hill
- Jim Kaat
- Wilcy Moore
- Craig Lefferts
- Gary Lucas
- Mark Williamson
- Billy Cox
- Bobby Clark
- Doc Cramer
- Ken Boswell
- Sandy Alomar Sr.
- Mark Koenig
- Dick Ruthven
Balance is hard to achieve in anything, but well worth it. The Hummingbirds went 95-67 on the season and will hopefully win the championship. Although nothing is guaranteed in baseball, balance is definitely an important factor.