Also there is interesting Frozen Tundra discussion as to the best team ever to finish second.
In 1942, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Brooklyn Dodgers both won the pennant by 20 games. The Dodgers happened to finish second -- with a 104-50 record.
The Dodgers had an interesting symmetry to them, "The Perfect Team," one which had ABOVE average players at EVERY position. James, who would know, finds it unlikely that any team in history would see this dream actualized, since only 1 in 8,000 teams might figure to do it (by chance draw, if you were drafting Strat-O-Matic randomly). But the 1942 Dodgers came closer than anybody:
|C||"a good player" - Bill|
|1B||Dolph Camilli||MVP in 1941|
|SS||Pee Wee Reese||HOF|
|SP1||Higbie||*MVP* votes in 3 seasons|
|SP4||142-75 career W/L|
So the idea, here, is that you had the kind of team you might have if you simply drafted the best player at each position. Like the Legion of Boom secondary.
Oddly, the 1942 Cardinals had a similar situation, but they had Stan Musial. I wonder how much of this 1942 imbalance was dictated by the war.
Dr. D has been playing a little Pokemon this week. ... once an online friend of his -- a Magic TCG player -- scoffed at the pictures on the cards. He brought Eevee's image up onto the monitor. "Tell me how a little dog thing is supposed to do any damage." Every monster in Magic, of course, is depicted as a Balrog with six horns and bondage pants.
Do you think the above animal would scare a baseball team of Pirates? :- ) Seven of the eight National League teams had wussy mascots. Imagine an NFL expansion team calling itself the "Cubs" and putting a little Boo-Boo on its helmet. Its partner in expansion could reciprocate. The Portland Boo-Boos and the Oklahoma City Yogis. Don't forget the jaunty hat on Yogi and the pick-a-nick basket cheerleaders.
Hey, that's what baseball usually does. "Mariner." What, was Gooey-Ducks not available? Oh? That explains it.
Were the 116-win Mariners this type of team? Actually not; they had maybe 4 starters who not only failed to be above average, but were perhaps below average.
- Carlos Guillen - 87 OPS+ and I don't remember him being too good at SS
- Al Martin, LF
- 3B David Bell could be argued about
- John Halama actually turned in an 87 ERA+
Although, if you take McLemore as the LF and Jo-El Pineiro instead of Halama, that 2001 Mariners team was awfully close to a Flawless Team.
Why do we mention?
This possibility bears watching, in Seattle, in 2015. Except for shortstop, any player who isn't above average will disappoint.
During March and the first few weeks of April, it's worth thinking about. James cheerfully admits that he watches for a no-hitter until the first out. With Felix on the mound, it's more worth watching than if Erasmo is on the mound. And with the Jack Zduriencik Post-Hype Kiddie Crew on the field, it's more worth watching than it was with Blake Beavan in the rotation.
It's true that you have to pencil in a few players to disappoint. But we shouldn't be oblivious to the reverse possibility, that a Perfect Storm could coalesce. As in 2001, it wouldn't take all that much.