Mock Draft Watch List

OK, we’ve given you picks 1-12… now here are some guys who were considered for the Dynamic Dozen but just missed the cut, thus comprising our Mock Draft Watch List:

Mike Stanton, OF, Florida — Was No. 12 on our starter list a week ago, bumped off at deadline by Trevor Cahill. Continue reading

Mock Draft projections 10-12

We continue with the final three projected picks in the 2011 I-75 League Mock Draft…

10. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Florida. In recent years, Marlins pitchers have been hot commodities as early-round draft picks. Now it might be the hitters’ turn. Sanchez has already racked up 268 at-bats, so we know his numbers are no fluke: .925 OPS vs. lefties, .817 vs. righties. He’s on pace for close to 20 homers and 35-40 doubles. He’s got 3 steals, so he’s not going  to be a lumbering clod. His error total (6) is a bit of a concern, but no worse than the average first baseman. And at 26, he’s got some seasoning.

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Mock Draft projections 7-9

We continue with the next three projected picks in the 2011 I-75 League Mock Draft…

7. Aubrey Huff, 1B/OF, San Francisco. Huff would have to be having a pretty darn good season for us to violate our new rule about not picking less-than-stellar defensive players in our top 12. And he is. Especially against righties, at .302-.399-.536.  He’s made no outfield errors this year while notching two assists. He’s played more games at 1B than OF to this point but for the rest of the year it looks like he’ll see more playing time in the outfield.

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2011 Mock Draft projections 4-6

We continue with the next three projected picks in the 2011 I-75 League Mock Draft…

4. Brett Gardner, OF, N.Y. Yankees. Why Gardner? Mostly because among this tier of players, he has a track record and we can reasonably expect him to have satisfactory defensive ratings. His 2010 card rated him at 2(-1)e5 in CF, and as 1-17 runner, *2-6 (19-15) stealer and a B/C bunter/hit-and-run guy. We don’t know what we’re getting defensively with some of the other projected high picks to come. And a year ago we saw how we projected guys like Chris Coghlan and Garrett Jones to go high based on their offense, but they tumbled in the draft (fifth round and third round respectively) because of their (lack of) defense. No such worries with Gardner, who will sit nicely atop somebody’s order with his current .424 on-base average against righties. Very little pop, but he should finish with at least 50 stolen bases. Continue reading

The first 2011 Mock Draft is here

So here it is, the mock draft you’ve been waiting for, and the question for the 2011 I-75 League Draft probably won’t be, “who’s No. 1?” but rather, “who’s No. 3?” It’s pretty clear who the top two picks are going to be, and short of Bryce Harper getting signed and called to the majors, it’s hard to see how the top two spots will change at all between now and March. Things get a lot dicier when trying to project spots 3-12.

1. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington. No stats are necessary. Have you heard anybody say a negative thing about him? When there’s this much agreement that he has the best shot at being the league’s marquee pitcher over the next decade, you have to slot him No. 1.

2. Jayson Heyward, OF, Atlanta. A five-tool player, just 20 years old, and currently boasting a .394 OBA vs. RHPs.  Currently not hitting for average, doesn’t have an outfield assist, and is not hitting lefties. But could you do any of those things when you were 20? Continue reading

What should it say on your Strat tombstone?

After seeing countless gb (X) rolls to my 2 at ss and my 2 at 2b go through for hits this year, I call first dibs on “SINGLE PAST THE DIVING FIELDER!” as my Strat epitaph.

Which phrase commonly associated with Strat-O-Matic or the I-75 League should appear on your tombstone?

Strasburg takes an ‘L’ despite ‘best outing, by far’

That’s according to Nationals’ TV analyst Rob Dibble, who noted that in Strasburg’s fourth start, Wednesday against the Kansas City Royals, Strasburg consistently worked out of  jams despite allowing nine hits in six innings of work (while fanning nine).

Strasburg threw 95 pitches, 75 for strikes, without walking a batter. Dibble noted that the Royals are a contact-hitting team, and they basically stuck their bats out for many of their hits Wednesday. They scored in the fifth on three consecutive two-out hits.

After the game, Dibble and fellow MASN TV analyst Ray Knight got into a bit of a verbal sparring match on the air, with Knight suggesting that Strasburg got into trouble by throwing too many strikes — including good pitches on 0-2 counts that the Royals fought off for hits. Dibble argued there’s no such thing as throwing too many strikes when you throw in the high 90s. Watch the dispute here.

The Nationals were hurt by having a runner, Roger Bernadina, thrown out at home on a questionable umpiring call that would have tied the game.

Then also failed to score in the fifth after a first-and-third, nobody out situation, when down 1-0, manager Jim Riggleman elected to let Strasburg bat with two outs and men on second and third, despite Strasburg having already thrown more than 80 pitches on a mid-90 degree day (late afternoon start time).

Riggleman later said if Strasburg’s position had come up with one out, he would have pinch-hit for him, but with two outs he thought the chances of scoring were lessened and he wanted to keep Strasburg in the game.

Strasburg, who earlier in the game collected his first major league hit, grounded out to end the threat. (Yes, there is video of that too.)

Strasburg now has 41 Ks in his first four starts, another major-league record. Watch video of him mowing down the Royals here.

The winning pitcher, by the way, in KC’s 1-0 game, was Applegate’s Brian Bannister, the focus of a cover story in USA TODAY on Tuesday about his use of advanced metrics in trying to improve his pitching.

Will Strasburg be projected as the No. 1 pick in next year’s I-75 League draft? Stay tuned for our early Mock Draft predictions coming later this week.

Mock draft in June — what’s the point?

Is there any point in doing a mock draft in June? (OK, not really a mock draft, but a ranking of the top dozen draft-eligible players for the following season.)

Let’s look back at last year’s earliest installment of the 2010 Mock Draft, posted on June 28, 2009, and see what we learned. The dozen players identified were:

1. Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore. Went fourth overall to Margaritaville.
2. David Price, P, Tampa. Still held top prospect status at this point, didn’t have a strong year. Went second round to Superior, and right now they’re probably happy to have him.
3. Ben Zobrist, IF/OF, Tampa. On-base machine went third overall to Tropical.
4. Chris Carpenter, P, St. Louis. Stayed strong in second half of year, went first overall to Springfield.
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Top players, and who has ’em

OK, the  Yahoo player ranking is far from a perfect system for our purposes; its fantasy bent gives undue weight to things like saves and steals when putting in a Strat context. But it is interesting to see from a relative standpoint who has the most players who are off to great starts as we draw near the season’s midpoint.

Here’s Yahoo’s Top 30 ranked fantasy players, and who owns their rights in the I-75 league.

1. P Ubaldo Jimenez (SUP)
2. 1B Miguel Cabrera (SUP)
3. 2B Robinson Cano (WIS)
4. OF Josh Hamilton (TROP)
5. P Adam Wainwright (BSK)
6. OF Carl Crawford (BSK)
7. P Josh Johnson (SAV)
8. OF Alex Rios (WIS)
9. OF Vladimir Guerrero (MARG)
10. 1B Kevin Youkilis (TROP)
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Father’s Day survey: Any future I-75ers out there?

We’re all thrilled to have two generations of the Wilson clan in the I-75 League, and with Father’s Day being celebrated, we’re wondering about the likelihood of additional second-generation managers on the horizon. Or, got a good story to tell about playing Strat with your youngster?

Answers to ‘So you think you know baseball’

So I guess nobody knows baseball, or nobody knows our league rules completely right, and even more nobodies ventured a guess…

Here are the correct answers to our ‘So you think you know baseball‘ post, according to our League Constitution:

Q1. Starting pitchers must pitch five innings or allow three runs or fall into fatigue before being removed. But Article II, rule C4 allows for an exception. Which is it?
ANSWER:  C, For the visiting team when using the visiting team’s CM.

Steve  Hart and Dave Renbarger got that one right.

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Eyewitness report: Stephen Strasburg

OK, so I got my first firsthand observation of Stephen Strasburg Friday night, checking out his second start at Nationals Park as he took the mound against the Chicago White Sox.

He’s pretty amazing.

The guy can throw, like, four pitches for strikes. Besides his blazing fastball, he’s got this changeup that somehow manages to drop like a slider. The ChiSox got four hits off of him in seven innings, but three of them were cheap — infield single and bloop double in the first that led to their only run off him; then right-hitting Gavin Floyd swung late and hit a liner down the first-base line that I still think was foul.

He retired 15 in a row at one point, nine of them on strikeouts. He struck out 10 and walked nobody.  He threw 85 pitches, 59 for strikes!

Although there were 40,000 people in the park, the atmosphere was nothing like that of his debut. Fans would get into it when he had two strikes and start cheering for a strikeout, but it wasn’t persistent. And with the Nationals offense stagnant against Floyd, that dampened enthusiasm as well.

Nothing  like watching a Fidrych game in 1976, alas.

Strasburg now owns the major league record for most strikeouts in his first three starts, with 32.

Did you know…

… that you can receive notifications by e-mail whenever a new post goes up on the I-75 League website?

Yep, just scroll to the bottom left of this page and look for “e-mail notifications.” Sign up  and the minute a new post is produced, you’ll be alerted.

We’ve noticed that we get a lot more traffic on Mondays, when we send out those weekly e-mails with the links to posts you may have missed. This tells us that users are still not in the habit of going to the website on a daily basis, and that the e-mail prompt helps. So signing up for an e-mail notification accomplishes the same thing, except in a more timely manner.

Just thought you’d want to know! Oh, and we’re still waiting for someone to get all 3 answers correct to yesterday’s “So you think you know baseball” quiz. …

So you think you know baseball?

No fair peeking at the League Constitution. But let’s see how well you know the I-75 League rules.

Q1. Starting pitchers must pitch five innings or allow three runs or fall into fatigue before being removed. But Article II, rule C4 allows for an exception. Which is it?
A. In October games only.
B. Only if the pitcher is injured.
C. For the visiting team when using the visiting team’s CM.
D. There is no such rule, this is just a gentleman’s agreement.
E. When facing Scott Kazmir.

Q2. The league uses all of the following Super Advanced Optional rules except which?
A. Cutoff rules.
B. Outfield in.
C. Additional supplementary steal rules.
D. Outfielders modified defensive positions.
E. Clutch fielding ratings.

Q3. Only one of the following rules is among the rules which we use to define a legal roster. Which is it? (The other four are bogus)
A. Total roster must have a minimum of 550 at-bats traceable to each position at all times.
B. Must carry a minimum of four players capable of playing the outfield at all times.
C. Must carry 25 active players (except in October) and between 25 and 32 total players on the overall roster.
D. Total roster must have a minimum of 1550 innings at all times.
E. Active roster must carry a minimum of five pitchers capable of starting.

Place your answers in the comments section. Good luck!

Click “read more” for the answer to yesterday’s Trivia Question.

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Trivia question

Quick — name the rookie right-hander who has won his first two starts, allowing just seven hits in 13 innings pitched, posting a sub-3.00 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP?

Hint: He’s not Stephen Strasburg.

Not illegal, but… unethical?

When the White Sox’s Gordon Beckham tried (unsuccessfully) to lay down a bunt in the eighth inning of a game Sunday night as Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly was hurling a no-hitter, some questioned whether Beckham was violating one of baseball’s unwritten rules.

What about unwritten rules in the I-75 league? Are there any?

Steve Hart recently proposed a rule for 2011 that would make it illegal to pinch-hit or pinch-run once the offensive manager has tried for a lead. As Dave Renbarger pointed out, this used to be a league rule, later erased because there was no Strat prohibition against it. But should there be an unwritten rule against it? The rationale is that the play is underway. You either have a good lead or you don’t, and once it’s determined that you don’t, presumably the pitch is on the way to the batter.  If you buy that argument, as a gentleman, would you refrain from pinch-hitting or pinch-running even if you could? Or is the idea to use the rules of the game to their full advantage?

Read on for two more real-life ethical Strat dilemmas…

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This month in Strat history

Remember stooges, instruction sheets, typewritten newsletters? News You Can Use, Notes and Quotes, Player/Pitcher of the Month?

30 years ago this month: (click to view newsletter) The June 1980 newsletter, from the home office at 181 Archibald Street in Burlington, Vt., brought news of the I-75 Strat-O-Matic Mail League’s first no-hitter:

Our inaugural season is just three months old, but already history has been made in the form of Steve Comer’s no-hitter over the Bismarck Bombers in the first game of the month of May.
     Comer’s gem came in the Bombers’ own ballpark, with with Bomber manager Steve Bizek serving as the Paperclip stooge.
     Comer faced just 28 hitters, one over the minimum. He walked no one and fanned just one Bomber.

Reflective of someone’s still-flowering journalism career, the newsletter fails to note the name of the player who got the hit off Comer… we only have one side of the historical Form B: Click to view

Update: Not sure what I was thinking when I wrote that last paragraph… in a no-hitter, no one gets a hit. So why was I looking for the name of the player to get a hit off Comer? Losing my mind…

How would you rank these recent rookies?

It’s been a big month for debuts of rookies not named Strasburg who also might be hot commodities come draft time in March. Have you got your eye on any of these guys?

* Carlos Santana, C, Indians. Debuted Friday night against Washington, going 0-for-3 with a walk. Switch-hitter, 24, was hitting .316 at Triple-A with a .444 OBP and .597 slugging average.  Baseball Prospectus said of Santana:

…His “bat might play in the bigs right now, given both his great power and his refined plate judgment. However, the converted third baseman still has some work to do behind the plate.”

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When dice are cold, you can’t just change computers

We’ve all been there. Things just aren’t going your way. You’re finding all of the black holes, missing all of your split chances. You need to change up your luck, try something different.

In the old days we’d break out a new set of dice. How do you cope with a string of bad luck when you’re playing on the computer?

Here are some of the tricks the Clips employ:*

On offense:

We usually click in the lower left-hand corner of the dice box in the odd-numbered innings, and in the upper left-hand corner of the dice box in the even-numbered innings. When we get in a rut, however, we’ll try:

— Clicking with left hand on the mouse instead of right hand (this is usually the most effective slump-buster)

— Banging on the Enter key on the keyboard. This seldom busts a slump but is a good release of physical tension.

— Selecting Swing Away from the menu

— Using the keyboard shortcut of CTRL + G.

When we’re in the field, we usually click on the capital D in Defense to initiate play, but if the opponent is mounting a big inning, we’ll slide over to the “e” in Defense, and if we get an out, stay there. If not, slide over to the “f,” etc.

What are your tricks of the trade to try to swing momentum your way?

* Usually with little success.

By popular demand: Visit our swap shop

A few weeks ago we asked the audience: What kind of features do you want to see on the I-75 Strat League web site?

Two responses called for a tool to allow managers to share information about players they are looking to acquire or are willing to deal.

Thus we’ve created The Swap Shop. The trade deadline may be more than a month away, but savvy shoppers know that sometimes the best deals are the ones you get before somebody else does. So we’ve prepopulated the forum with some known positions for a few clubs. Please feel free to contribute your own team’s status — buyer, seller or fence-straddler?