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Friday, July 09, 2021

OBFLB 2021A Champions

I've periodically posted draft results or season results from my two long-running fantasy baseball leagues. This is an update for one of those leagues.

Since 1991, I've owned the Louisville Sluggers in the Original Bitnet Fantasy Baseball League (OBFLB), a 24 team online league that plays two seasons during each major league season. Generally, the team general manager-owners are from across the US. I've only met a few of them face-to-face, but have known many of them online for 25+ years. 

In this league, teams manipulate lineups to prioritize 9 hitters (at 8 defensive positions, plus DH/Utility), 5 starting pitchers (minimum 4), and 3 relief pitchers (minimum 2) at a time. Teams can actually use daily substitutes through the week, which means it is possible to have more than 5 starting pitchers and multiple players at various positions. Through the week, the teams compete in 10 categories, including on base average, home runs, stolen bases, plate appearances, runs produced average ((R+RBI-HR)/ABs), pitching wins, saves (times two) + holds, innings pitched, ERA and WHIP. We award 2 points per victory, with each team receiving 1 point for a tie.

The first (half) season begins at the start of the baseball season and typically features 11 or 12 weeks of head-to-head competition by teams in four 6 team divisions. Everyone plays a double round robin schedule, plus 1 or 2 teams from the other divisions that are determined largely by previous performance with an eye toward equality. This year the season lasted 11 weeks, though the first week included a few extra games. A weekly is typically Monday through Sunday but the season started on Thursday April 1 for most major league teams and we included those first few games. 

The Sluggers finished with the second best regular season win-loss record in the league and thus played the #3 seed in the opening round of the playoffs, the Southern Hemispheres -- a team operated from western Australia. That owner I met once when he was visiting Louisville!  As measured by CBS's statistical Breakdown (universal head-to-head results), the Sluggers were the best team in the league and thus survived that matchup via tiebreaker -- it otherwise ended in a 10-10 tie. 

The top seed was the Loaded Basses, which won its playoff matchup and thus made its fourth straight World Series appearance (both of the 2019 half seasons and the only 2020 abbreviated season). The Basses are loaded with baseball stars, but both SS Cory Seager and 3B Alex Bregman were injured and did not play in the Series. 

Thus, in the 2021A season, the Louisville Sluggers ultimately won the championship 18-2.  Here's the line score from the World Series via CBS, our stats service:

This was the Sluggers 9th World Series championship (of 12 appearances) in fewer than 60 (half) seasons of competition during the past 30 years. One other team has 8 titles and another has 6. Obviously, there was only one season in 1994 and 2020.

The World Series heroes for the Sluggers played mostly on offense.  Veteran infielder Max Muncy hit 3 HRs with a  .423 OBA and .619 RP, completing his strong half season. Whit Merrifield hit 2 HR and stole 2 bases to go with a .433 OBA. Dom Smith had a weak first half, but he also hit 3 HR in the Series with a .440 OBA and .458 RP. Star 3B Nolan Arenado hit a HR and is the only player from the last Slugger championship in 2016B. All of the pitchers from that team are gone

On the pitching side, Nate Eovaldi threw 7 innings of shutout ball for a win and his Red Sox teammate Matt Barnes had a win and 3 saves. 

Below, you can find my regular lineup with substitutes at their primary positions. I'm putting my pre-season retained players ("keepers") in bold red text and noting draft round or free agent acquisition (or trade) status for all other players. The draft is 28 rounds, but begins with round 7 as all teams have to keep at least 6 players. I kept 11 players, so my draft started round 12. The first few rounds included some great picks, but the last 8 or 10 picks did not turn out well. I was active on the free agent market, but not many of those players contributed significantly to the season. The keepers were strong and determined the team's fate:

C: W. Smith LAD
   Pina MIL  (free agent)

1B: Muncy LAD (eligible 2B/3B)
    Tellez TOR (traded to MIL in early July) (round 17)

2B: Merrifield KC (OF eligible)

3B: Arenado COL
SS: Rojas ARI (acquired via trade)
      Lopez KC (free agent)

OF: Acuna ATL
OF: D. Smith NYM (1B eligible)
OF: Bradley MIL (round 21)
    Wade SF (1B eligible) (free agent)
    Stewart BAL (free agent)
    Olivares KC (free agent)
    Kelenic SEA

DH: McMahon COL (eligible 2B/3B)

SP: Bauer LAD
SP: Gray CIN
SP: Greinke HOU
SP: Eovaldi BOS (round 12)
SP: Rogers MIA (round 14)
SP: Taillon NYY (acquired via trade)
SP: Mejia CLE (free agent)
RP: Barnes BOS (round 13)
RP: Fairbanks TB (round 19)
RP: Staumont KC (round 25)
RP: Zimmer KC (free agent)
RP: Antone CIN (injured during the Series) (round 16)

I released these draft picks during the season:

C Sisco BAL (round 28)
IF Adrianza ATL (round 26)
SS Ahmed ARI (round 15)  (actually, he was traded)
SS Garcia CIN (round 20) (now named Barrero)
UT Tsutsugo TB (traded to LAD) (round 23)
SP Peterson NYM (round 18) (released during Series after Gray recovered from injury)
SP Ponce de Leon STL (round 24)
SP Lucchesi NYM (round 22)
RP Wendelken OAK (round 27)

The trade for Rojas included some "cash" (we use fictional trading points) plus free agent pickup P Josiah Gray LAD, who is a top prospect. He was injured shortly after I acquired him just as it looked like he might join the Dodger rotation after the Dustin May injury.

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