The second half of the season was much the same as the first, especially in the TJ Division, where the Wonder Years kept putting up headline-grabbing performances. (Especially against the Barstools, against whom they won all 54 in-season games.)
And at the end of the season, the standings looked much the same as at the All-Star break:
Let’s go team by team.
TJ Division, 4th place (14-148)
Lessons learned in the Gud Twins Tourney, #26: when one puts together a team that contains exactly nine bench players and no catchers or middle infielders, that team will suck.
The issue with this team is that there were no bench players available to spell the starters, meaning that every starter, even those playing out of position, had to play constantly and became exhausted. This explains how the Barstools were worst in the league in hits (827), homers (37), OPS (.412), errors (330), and passed balls (419).
Hang on, 419 passed balls?
Next-worst in the league had 16.
How could that have ha-
And Johnny Schmitz lost 30 games.
Benjamin Division, 4th place (48-114)
Torpedoed by an awful starting rotation, the Birds finished dead last in the Benjamin Division, putting up a league-worst team ERA of 6.92.
The Birds also saw a league record from the fifth spot in their lineup, as Trevor Plouffe shattered the MLB record of 223 strikeouts, whiffing an astounding 303 times with an OPS+ of 5.
Speaking of that strikeout record:
Fifteen players in the Gud Twins Tourney broke the MLB strikeout record, most putting up a dreadful WAR and showing signs of exhaustion. Yet somehow, players like ITP’s Tom Brunansky put up WAR numbers near the top of the league despite striking out more times than me on Tinder. But Plouffe topped them all.
TJ Division, 3rd place (55-107)
The Divide were... thoroughly unspectacular. Nobody was outstandingly good, nobody was outstandingly bad, and they ended up getting squished most games.
Actually, I take it back. They were pretty bad.
As a team, the Divide put up the second-worst OPS in the league (.543) and were the only non-Barstool team to collectively bat below .200. They had two of the worst starters in the league by pitching WAR in Félix Jorge and Randy Dobnak:
My eye was struck by the name at the top of the list: Kyle Gibson, from the Early Birds. That surprised me, as though I know he’s being used in relief, I’d assumed his stats would have been better.
Then I checked his player profile:
Those ability scores seem... off.
And so does his age...
Turns out, instead of uploading the 2018 version of Kyle Gibson, I uploaded the 2008 version. You know, five years before his MLB debut.
Sorry Kyle. Sorry TJ.
Benjamin Division, 3rd place (67-95)
The descriptions I gave to the Divide above — solidly mediocre — fit much better with the Appellations. They had a 40-homer man in Gary Gaetti (and a 39-homer man in Jacque Jones), but they, like Benjamin Harrison in the clerihew, didn’t do much. Their only league leader was Byron Buxton, caught stealing 13 times.
...yeah, I’ve got nothing.
Benjamin Division, 2nd place (85-77)
As might be expected, the Ks led the league in both batting strikeouts (2,147) and pitching strikeouts (2,224). The latter was sparked by an 11.3 WAR season from Walter Johnson, who broke the major league record by striking out 390 batters. On a worse note, Dean Chance broke another record by allowing 57 homers over the year (as did the Appellations’ Rick Reed, with 54).
Their offense was, as might be guessed, a lot of homers (most as a team, with 350) and a lot of whiffs. Jim Lemon led the team with 54 homers but also struck out 256 times, a number that did not even lead the team. But the players who struck out more than he, Miguel Sanó (273) and Brian Dozier (291), each produced worse than negative 5 WAR, while Lemon was rated at 5.5 WAR for the year.
TJ Division, 2nd place (108-54)
I did not expect the Babble to be as strong a team as they are, given the Wonder Years’ dominance in the TJ Division. The Babble boast the ERA leader in Geoff Zahn (1.76), a rotation with only one starter above a 3.00 ERA, and a lineup with three 40-plus home run hitters. It’s a shame there isn’t more to say about them, that they’ve been overshadowed by the two teams below:
Benjamin Division, 1st place (124-38)
The Baseballers are dominant, top to bottom. They were the best fielding team in the league (combined +111.6 zone rating) and led the league with 47 triples. Kent Hrbek finished second in the league in batting average by a point (.371) but led the league in OPS by a point (1.111) over the man who topped him in average. Byron Buxton topped all players with 75 stolen bases. Despite lacking any individual leaders in pitching statistics, the Baseballers have a solid rotation (three 300-plus-K starters) and bullpen. They have a real chance to upset the team below, should they reach the finals:
TJ Division, 1st place (147-15)
Where to begin with this team...
- Rich Reese won the Triple Crown and broke the RBI record:
- The entire rotation posted a sub-3.00 ERA and each won 25 or more games:
- The entire lineup (save Nick Punto) hit over 20 homers, and the entire lineup (save Jacque Jones) batted over .300.
- Joe Mays pitched 12 complete games and six shutouts. Kevin Tapani nearly matched him, with 10 and six respectively.
- The team led the league with a .936 OPS and a 2.15 ERA.
- The Years started the year with a 22-game winning streak and ended it with a 15-game winning streak.
There is no measure in which the Wonder Years were not dominant. They are and should be the favorites in the tourney proper.
Speaking of which:
The tournament begins with the St. Paul Sectional.
The chase for the title begins now.