My 165-74-13 record during the regular season earned me the number one overall seed in the playoffs and matched me up against the eighth overall seed (Tug Z’Nuff) in the first round. Tug Z’Nuff and I met in Week 6 of the regular season, with me prevailing 7-4-1 but that matchup was long history. Only four hitters that were on my team in Week 6 are currently on my roster. Six have since been dropped and two others have departed via trade.
The results changed slightly the second time we danced, and I used a weekend surge to survived a mid-week slump and moved into the semifinals with a 10-2 victory. Nothing too unusual as my team stuck to the plan they used all season and rode to the regular season crown—dominant pitching and just-enough scrappy hitting.
I lost home runs and stolen bases this week, won average and on-base percentage and barely hung on to runs and RBI. I made a couple of managerial moves that paid off big time this week, and enjoyed solid weeks from multiple players rather than a huge week from one guy. In a week where Dan Uggla was limited to three games with a groin injury and hit only .083 I managed only three homers, one each from Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada and Ben Zobrist. I made up for the lack of power by having seven hitter post OBPs of .385 or better and had nine players score multiple runs—seven had three or more. New pick-up Logan Morrison scored seven runs for me in his first week and Nick Swisher led my squad with five RBI. I won runs by one and RBI by two. Kosuke Fukudome stole my only base and Scott Rolen rebounded from some bad weeks with a .412/.545 performance this week. His power is still way down (only 2 HR since June) but he remains a run producer.
Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher both enjoyed nice weeks as the Yankees won eight straight games. They combined to hit .395/.444 while scoring seven runs and driving in eight with two home runs. Travis Hafner has a second nice week for me, hitting .300/.391 with two runs and three RBI. I knew his counting numbers wouldn’t account to much in Cleveland’s lineup, but his ratio stats have been well above average since I picked him up. Apart from Uggla, the only player to disappoint me this week was Lorenzo Cain who put up a .182/.250 line, scored one run and failed to steal a base.
After going 4-2 in the hitting categories, I needed only to split the pitching ones to advance. My pitchers did more than split, they swept them 6-0. They recorded four wins, a whopping seven saves, 63 strikeouts and seven quality starts while posting a 2.80 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. All of those numbers were enough to win each category rather comfortably. Wins, quality starts and strikeouts looked surpassable when Tug Z’Nuff picked up three starters to throw on Sunday, but only one recorded a quality start, none picked up a victory and they managed only seven strikeouts in over 16 innings.
Josh Johnson had a nice start this week in which he struck out 12 in six innings and Jaime Garcia and Barry Enright both won their starts this week, but the star was once again Felix Hernandez. He made two quality starts with a 0.00 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 17 strikeouts. In fact, he’s allowed just one earned run in his last 45 innings. He’s more than fulfilled the expectations I had when I used my second round draft pick on him. Not to be outdone by King Felix, my closers had themselves quite a week too. Feliz and Franklin each saved a pair of games while Aardsma picked up three. None of them allowed a run and I ran away with saves 7-0.
I activated IF Jeff Keppinger midway through the week and to make room for him I parted ways with my seventh-round pick, Nyjer Morgan. Morgan disappointed all year, experiencing a considerable offensive drop-off from 2009. I took him mostly for his stolen base potential (42 in 2009) and he had 33 for me this year, but was also caught 15 times, likely costing me runs. His batting average and OBP dropped over 50 points from his 2009 numbers and with him looking at being suspended for up to 15 games, I was finally done with him – leaving me with just 10 of the 22 players I drafted.
I also made one more move late Sunday night, picking up Cleveland OF Michael Brantley and dropping Mike Minor. Logan Morrison took a foul ball off his face and Nick Swisher is dealing with a balky knee, leaving me an outfielder short. I anticipate both guys will be fine in a few days at which point I’ll bring back Minor, but until then, I needed a bat to keep the spot warm.
The semifinals will feature matchups between division rivals. Murderer’s Row and Honey Nut Ichiros (both from Division 3) will face off as the second and third seeds while I get Division 4 rival and fifth-seed Whipple23. Whipple23 finished fifth overall with a 133-96-23 record and knocked off the fourth-seed, Angel Dust n Hoffman 8-4 in the first round of the playoffs.
We met just the once time in the regular season, a 9-3 win for me in Week 9. That week we split the offensive categories and I swept all six of the pitching ones. He’s since cut some hitters in exchange for starters so I’m looking at a disadvantage again in regards to number of starts. I have just one pitcher making two starts, and it’s a rather unspectacular one in Jake Westbrook, while Whipple23 has five pitchers scheduled to make two starts. I’m going to need Adam Wainwright, who has lost four starts in a row to bounce back this week while my other starters continue their good work.
With the 10-2 win, I moved my overall record to 175-76-13, nearly 100 games over .500. The first round win also assured me of a Top 4 finish in the league which qualifies me to move up a level next year to a higher-ranked league. But I’m focused on getting through the next two weeks first!
With a playoff berth and the first overall seed sewn up, the outcome of Week 21 mattered very little to me. That said, it’s probably best that my hitters got their worst three game streak out of the way before the games matter again. After starting the week brutally, I scraped back and nearly earned a tie, ultimately suffering me second loss of the season 5-7-0.
My offense didn’t hit too much, but when they did, they inflicted some serious damage. I hit only .246/.312 for the week, easily my worst week of the season in that regard, but managed pretty good counting numbers with 28 runs, nine homers and 36 RBI. I’ll take those three numbers any week of the year, but this week they were only good to win one of those three. Every single one of my opponent’s players hit a home run and he finished with twelve for the week. He bested me by one in runs and I beat him by six in RBI. Gaby Sanchez homered twice and drove in eight runs this week while Kosuke Fukudome hit .417/.533 with two homers and five RBI. Nick Swisher also had a big week, homering twice with five runs and five RBI while hitting .353/.417. A week after stealing seven bases, I managed zero this week and lost a winnable stat with my opponent getting only two.
Josh Johnson and Adam Wainwright made two starts each this past week, but all four were rather pedestrian. They didn’t win a game and managed only one quality start over the course of the week. Excellent outings from Barry Enright, Felix Hernandez and Tim Hudson helped me win quality starts, strikeouts and wins. A save from each of my closers was enough to take that category but I dropped ERA and WHIP to finish 4-2 in the pitching categories.
The only move I made this week was finally pulling the trigger on dropping Denard Span. Several times the past few weeks, I’ve started the process of dropping him for an extra starter, but could never convince myself that any of the available starters would help me enough to validate dropping Span. I finally confirmed the release, but replaced him instead with another outfielder, Florida rookie Logan Morrison. I’ve realized that finding power and RBIs this late in the season is nearly impossible, so I grabbed Morrison who scores a ton of runs atop the Marlins lineup and fills out average and OBP very nicely.
The 5-7 week gives me a final record of 165-74-13, good for a first place finish and a 15 game cushion over the runner-up. Now it’s on to the playoffs and each team that wins this week will move up to the next league, so needless to say I’d like to win. I’m up against Tug Z’Nuff which is a tough matchup. He finished 123-111-18 and in eighth place.
I’ll have some posts this week analyzing my season, good and bad. I’ll cover things from the draft to an original method I’ve developed to look at how much luck factored into my first-place finish.