The 93-win team (more ZiPS fun)
If you’re already annoyed by the sim post, well first I’m not sure what you’re doing hanging around here, but anyway, this is not going to be your post. Come back later or something. I’m serious, this gets into some serious Diamond Mind geekery.
I mentioned in passing yesterday that I ran a DMB sim where the M’s won 93 games. I went through and ran them game-by-game and was happily surprised, but as you’ll see, it’s got a lot to do with the advantages of running a season myself compared to the computer managers (I started the year 6-1, for instance). I’ve used the team in the straight sims and it generally sucks. Still, I thought it’d be interesting to talk about how I put that together. Essentially, if you imagine a manager who’s memorized Earl Weaver on Strategy, operating without any kind of conscience or restraint, given control of a team with no consequences, that was the season.
SP: Standard rotation. I skipped #5 Batista every chance I could unless there was a chance for some funny business. Then I’d use him in relief, because I was a jerk.
RP: Putz/Morrow/O’Flaherty/Green/RRS/Baek. I was super-aggressive about farming guys out if they were tired: if I had to burn Baek for 60 pitches picking up after a Silva disaster, he went to Tacoma and someone else came up. In real life, of course, there’s no way teams do this just so they can get away with carrying 11. I threw bench players out there in blowouts if they were far enough ahead or behind. I had no conscience at all.
And I entirely disregarded roles. I pitched Putz in the sixth to get out of rallies. Three runs up in the ninth, anyone who hadn’t pitched in a while came in and hucked the ball across the plate until it got close.
Here were the defensive lineups I used:
Then sometimes Wlad in left, Reed to center for a slightly less defense-centric lineup.
vLHP: LF-L Ibanez, WB-R Bloomquist, OF-R Balentein, OF-L Wilkerson, C-R Burke
vRHP: WB-R Bloomquist, OF-R Balentein, IF-R Morse, IF-R Sexson, C-R Burke
14 players, and someone’s missing. Yup. Which is also totally unrealistic. I was extremely aggressive about pinch-hitting early if I thought it might win the game. I ran the suicide squeeze almost every time Lopez was up with a man on third (he’s got a terrible projection but bunts well).
With Bedard/Felix pitching, I’d sneak the crappy defenders back in, and swap them out for defensive subs as opportunity presented itself.
How’d I get to 93, then? Playing the games against the computer opponent’s a huge help. It’s a ridiculous advantage to be able to tailor lineups, defensive alignments, and all that stuff on a day-to-day basis while all the other teams couldn’t.
The other totally unfair thing was that I was playing the season out knowing the ZiPS projections and, by knowing the defensive ratings, essentially having advance knowledge of whether they’d have the yips or not — so I knew to pick the bench and platoons, which is absolutely totally unrealistic. Not as unrealistic as having Ichiro split time across positions and running out a Reed/Jimerson/Ichiro outfield while Ibanez sat, but still pretty bad.
Some random notes from playing this out: the bench is still really weak. Betancourt tweaks his ankle, Bloomquist starts at short, sure, but then you’re entirely uncovered across the middle of the infield unless you want to play Morse.