15-Year Tournament – Round 1

I’ll be updating the results of the series here as Round 1 progresses:

#129 2013 Dunedin 3, #128 2011 Ft. Duquesne 0
-2013 Dunedin advances to play #1 2002 Elm Grove

#160 2008 Orlando 3, #97 2003 Rockford 0
-2008 Orlando advances to play #32 2002 Walla Walla

#113 2011 Dunedin 3,  #144 2012 Orlando 1
-Dunedin loses game 1, but wins 3 straight to take the series. Dunedin teams are now 2-0 in the tourney. They advance to play #16 2006 Buffalo.

#145 2011 Atlanta 3, #112 2004 Rockford 2
-Atlanta’s first team in the tourney becomes the first to overcome a 2-0 deficit. So Rockford has now lost to the overall lowest seed and blown a 2-0 series lead. They are 0-2 overall the in tourney. Atlanta advances to face #17 2013 Arizona.

#121 2007 Elm Grove 3, #136 2014 Arizona 2
-Elm Grove and Arizona finally meet in a series, and it was a great one. Arizona tied Game 5 in the 9th inning, but Elm Grove won it in the 10th. 2007 Elm Grove moves on to face #8 2003 Elm Grove.

#104 2003 Chicago 3, #153 2001 Tallahassee 2
-Our 3rd straight 5-Game series goes to Chicago, as they take out down our first original team in the tourney, Tallahassee. 2003 Chicago advances to face #25 2013 SoCal.

#120 2007 Gulf Coast 3, #137 2015 Berea 0
-The expansion Collective advance to play #9 2011 Arizona, while Berea’s only team in the tourney goes down without a win.

#105 2014 State College 3, #152 2012 SoCal 2
-Possibly the worst offense of all time musters enough runs to win 2 games, but the ’14 Cows do advance. They will now play #24 2007 Las Vegas.

#132 2013 Atlanta 3, #125 2008 Elm Grove 1
-Atlanta moves to 2-0 for the tourney overall as they once more overturn a higher seed. The Avalanche advance to play #4 2013 Ft. Duquesne.

#157 2010 State College 3, #100 Louisville 1
-These Cows become the second bottom-four team to advance, as they make easy work of one of two Louisville teams in the bracket. State College moves to 2-0 and this particular team moves on to face #29 2007 State College.

#116 2002 Silver City 3, #141 2003 Las Vegas 2
-This Vegas team was reckoned by some as the actual worst team of all time, but they nearly took down the Vultures. Silver City wins their first series in the tourney and this 2002 team goes on to face another Effect team, #13 2009 Las Vegas.

#109 Rockford 3, #148 2002 Chicago 1
-After losing their first two series, Rockford finally wins one, but they had to face expansion Chicago to do it. Rockford advances to face #20 2011 Silver City.

#124 2015 Arizona 3, #133 2011 Pittsburgh 0
-This makes our recent podcast all the more special, as this Pittsburgh team was Hobbs’ dark horse final four pick. They go down without winning a game, as Arizona goes on to face #5 2006 Elm Grove.

#101 2010 Atlanta 3, #156 2006 Arizona 1
-Atlanta becomes the first team with 3 wins in the tourney, and they do it by picking on a terrible Arizona team. 2010 Atlanta advances to face #28 2008 Silver City.

#117 2014 Pittsburgh 3, #140 2007 Atlanta 2
-Atlanta loses for the first time in the tourney, while Pittsburgh wins for the first time. That ’14 Pittsburgh team advances to face #12 2015 Elm Grove.

#149 2005 Chicago 3, #108 2009 Atlanta 1
-A rather big upset here for 2005 Chicago, as the Wave move to 2-1 for the tournament. Atlanta loses 2 in a row to fall to 3-2 as a franchise. Chicago advances to face #21 2014 Ft. Duquesne.

#130 2013 Pittsburgh 3, #127 2004 Arizona 0
-Much to Hobbs’ chagrin, Pittsburgh sweeps the 2004 Arizona team. The Piranhas are now 3-1 in this first round, while Arizona falls to 1-3. Pittsburgh gets a rough assignment next, as they face #2 2005 State College.

#98 2010 Buffalo 3, #159 2007 Dunedin 1
-’10 Buffalo has no trouble with the second-worst seed in the tourney. Buffalo wins its first game in the bracket, while Dunedin loses their first series to fall to 2-1. Buffalo will now face #31 2012 State College.

#114 2006 Las Vegas 3, #143 2006 State College 1
-In our first of two matchups between Vegas and State College, the Effect cruise to the win. Vegas has its first series win here, and they advance to face #15 2014 Elm Grove.

#146 2009 State College 3, #111 2002 Las Vegas 0
-The Reliever Rotation of Las Vegas’ expansion season takes it on the chin, as State College advances. The Cows are now 3-1 in the tourney. These 2009 Cows will now face #18 2010 Arizona.

#135 2004 Baltimore 3, #122 2002 Baltimore

#103 2014 Las Vegas 3, #154 2011 Baltimore

#119 2003 Baltimore vs #138 2010 Orlando

#106 2007 Chicago vs #151 2004 State College




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RBA 15-Year Tournament

It is with great fanfare and excitement that I renew my posts on this, the RBA Blog. As you’ve seen in your email, the reason for this renewal is the massive 15-Year Tournament, which will be taking place over the next six months.

Here, I’ll try my best to keep you informed of the day-to-day action of the tournament.

Day 1:

#128 2011 Ft. Duquesne
#129 2013 Dunedin


#97 2003 Rockford
#160 2008 Orlando

After today, I’ll post both the results and the games for the upcoming day. The winner of our first series today faces the #1 seed 2002 Elm Grove Cardinals. The winner of our second series faces the #32 seed 2002 Walla Walla Koalas.

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2012 RBA Championship Preview

We are less than two hours from the commencement of RBA Saturday, which includes the 2012 RBA Championship. This season it will be contested by two teams who are both looking for their first title. Ft. Duquesne came into the league originally as the Chicago Wave, who never made the playoffs in their 7 years of existence. This is the Corsairs’ 2nd playoff appearance in their 4 years in the league, and their first trip to the Championship Series. Dunedin entered in the 2007 expansion, making this their 6th RBA season. The Clear Blues have been unquestionably the most successful of those 3 expansion franchises, as they are the only one to even make the postseason as yet. This is their 3rd trip to the playoffs and their 2nd trip to the Championship Series. In 2009, Dunedin lost to Las Vegas in what is the Effect’s only title to date.

The 2012 Ft. Duquesne Corsairs entered this postseason with the #1 seed and best record in the league at 53-28. They rode strong starting pitching, a powerful offense, and a bolstered bullpen to the Puckett Division crown. With their 1-2 punch of Kershaw and Verlander, they are a formidable opponent for any team, but their 3rd and 4th starters give them a chance to win any game. In their first round series against State College, Ft. Duquesne had to endure a mediocre Game 1 start from their ace and PMA winner Clayton Kershaw, but Ben Zobrist’s 11th inning HR walked them off with an opening victory. Justin Verlander proved equal to the task in Game 2, as Ft. Duquesne took a 2-0 series lead with a 4-1 win. The Cows snagged their only victory of the series in Game 3, in another extra inning affair, as Prince Fielder hit a walkoff HR in the 12th inning. And though the series only went 5 games, it was thrilling in many areas and will perhaps become exemplified by Game 4. Remarkably, it was the 3rd extra inning match of the series, and it was indeed the game on which the entire series turned. State College rode the momentum of Game 3 to hang 5 runs on Ryan Vogelsong in the first 2 innings, taking a 5-0 lead to the 6th. The Cows appeared to have a tied series well in hand. However, the Corsairs mounted an incredible comeback, first forcing extras, and then winning it with 4 in the top of the 10th. State College succumbed to Kershaw in Game 5, losing 4-1 to end the series.

The Dunedin Clear Blues came into the playoffs with the #2 seed and a 52-29 record. They coasted to the Larkin title, leading that division for most of the season, but they had to hold off a charging Elm Grove Cardinals squad in both the stretch run and the playoffs. Elm Grove was confident coming into the series based on their second half performance, the best in the RBA, and they followed this up with a 4-1 win in Game 1 behind their ace, Felix Hernandez. However, it was at that point that Dunedin found the close game magic that might carry forward into the Championship. Mixing and matching pitchers, they held off the Cardinal offense time and again. They took Game 2 4-2 behind their ace, Jered Weaver, and then Game 3 2-1 behind a remarkable performance by Jair Jurrjens. Once more, as usual, Game 4 was the keystone of the series. Dunedin used a different pitcher for each cycle through the Cardinal lineup, bringing them to the 9th inning tied at 2. And in that inning it was Cameron Maybin who hit a 2-out pinch-hit HR to give Dunedin the pivotal Game 4 win. And in Game 5, Dunedin pulled off one of the most remarkable closing games in playoff history, winning in resounding fashion, 8-0.

Both teams enter the RBA Championship after winning their divisions and then their first playoff series in 5 games. And for the first time since 2008, we have a matchup of teams that have played each other before in the postseason. In 2009, Dunedin and Ft. Duquesne faced off in the first round, in one of the more thrilling series to date. Ft. Duquesne won the first two games at home behind Justin Verlander and AJ Burnett before Dunedin charged back to tie the series with 7-0 and 8-2 wins in Games 4 and 5. The Corsairs took a 3-2 series advantage back to Ft. Duquesne by winning Game 5, but Dunedin prevailed with wins in those final two games. Joey Votto and Ryan Braun, as now, were big bats in Dunedin’s 4 wins, but the key shot was Mark DeRosa’s stunning 9th inning HR in Game 7. With Dunedin down 5-4 in that frame, DeRosa hit a 2-run HR to turn the deficit and send the Blues to their first RBA Championship series. Holdovers from that series include the aforementioned Braun and Votto, Dunedin hurlers Lester, Weaver and Jurrjens, Verlander, Kershaw, Pujols and Napoli on the Ft. Duquesne side. Ben Zobrist played for Dunedin and Placido Polanco played for Ft. Duquesne. Both have now switched allegiances.

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2012 Season in Review Podcasts

Hobbs, Chad and I got together for quite a while this morning/afternoon and discussed many things related to this past RBA season and really all of the others. Tune in for a rousing bit of audio in which we talk about Hobbs’ spreadsheet, 2012 and historical scores, trades, and strategy. We debate the usefulness of the scores to the playoff series, the difference between Jason Isringhausen and a 4th rounder (hint: a lot), and the criteria that should be used for selecting awards.

Click “12Season3” for Part 1; click “12Season4” for Part 2

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New Team Records, 2012

The individuals have been slacking this season (and, no, not just those on Arizona and SoCal), so let’s take a look at the teams that are poised to set RBA records. First, the records themselves:

Arizona (28-52) – If they lose to Elm Grove in Week 81, they will become the first team to ever finish 28-53. If they do this, every record from 23-58 to 58-23 will be represented somewhere in our 12 years of baseball.

Atlanta (39-41) – Win or lose, Atlanta has set a team record for wins in a season. They won 38 games in both 2008 and 2010.

Baltimore (43-37) – They are the only 2012 team that can join our most inclusive club, the 43-38 club. This has been done 12 times in our 11 seasons thus far, and they’ll get there with a loss. They also finished 43-38 in 2007 and 2010. They would be the 7th team to finish 44-37 (yawn).

Dunedin (51-29) – They have set a team record for wins as well. This is the first time they have won at least 50 games. They won 48 in 2009 and 2010.

Elm Grove (49-31) – It’s a big last game for the Cardinals, who could add one to their tally of 50-win seasons. They have won at least 50 games SIX times in 11 seasons. Win or lose, this will be their 7th best record out of 12. How is that possible?

Ft. Duquesne (52-28) – This is a team record for wins for this franchise and current ownership. Even Chicago (wait, this makes perfect sense, actually) never reached 50 wins. Only 7 teams have won 53 or more games and only 1 has ever finished exactly 53-28 (Arizona in 2010).

orLando (29-51) – I don’t have much to say about this record except to point out that with a win they will finish TEN games better than the 2008 orLando squad. That team still blows my mind.

Pittsburgh (31-49) – If they lose, that would make 2012 the first season in which four teams have lost at least 50 games. If they win, they will equal their record from last season.

Silver City (44-36) – A win would give the 2012 Vultures a tie for their 2nd-best record in team history, knotting them with the magical 2004 team that won their only plaque.

SoCal (25-55) – 2011 Baltimore was the first and only team to finish 25-56, but we have actually had four teams finish 26-55. It was the watermark for five seasons, as 2001 Tallahassee, 2004 State College and 2005 Chicago couldn’t drop below. But then 2006 Arizona went 24-57 and the rush to the bottom was on.

State College (48-32) – They won’t win 50, but they can become the first team since 2004 to finish 49-32. This is their 3rd-best season by team record.

And now, a look at some of the statistical benchmarks:

Runs Allowed – This is incredible. In the year of the pitcher, the long-standing record for fewest runs allowed in a season is going to be broken. Elm Grove has long been the only team to allow fewer than 300 runs with their 284 mark in 2002. How about this year? Right now, all four playoff teams — ALL of them — have allowed fewer than 284 runs. All four will most likely break that record: EGC 258, FDQ 261, DUN 264, SCC 277.

Shutouts – Another 2002 record has been tied, at least, as Elm Grove and Ft. Duquesne have both accrued 6 shutouts as teams. Walla Walla in 2002 is the only other team to accomplish this.

Finally, I just want to emphasize this point with one more stat. State College leads the league in runs scored this season with 377. That total is 109 runs short of the all-time record, set by Arizona in 2010. One-hundred and nine.

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The Fifties

We like nice, round numbers. It’s at the basis of just about everything we do in baseball, which keeps meticulous stats. So maybe the hallmark of a great RBA team isn’t 50 wins, and maybe the hallmark of a really bad RBA team isn’t 50 losses, but those are the numbers that stick in one’s head. And if they didn’t, now that you’ve read that number this many times, now it does! Congratulations.

Thus, I often find myself examining the teams that get to 50 wins or 50 losses. Most of the league sits between these barriers. Here are the teams that have surpassed them, one way or the other:

50 Game Winners (17):
2001: none
2002: Elm Grove (58)
2003: Elm Grove (52)
2004: Elm Grove (51)
2005: State College (57)
2006: Buffalo (55), Elm Grove (54)
2007: Arizona (50), Las Vegas (50), State College (50)
2008: Arizona (56), Silver City (50)
2009: Buffalo (50)
2010: Elm Grove (54), Arizona (53)
2011: Silver City (52), Arizona (51), Elm Grove (51)

50 Game Losers (17):
2001: Tallahassee (55)
2002: Chicago (54)
2003: Las Vegas (51)
2004: State College (55)
2005: Chicago (55)
2006: Arizona (57), State College (51)
2007: Dunedin (58), Atlanta (50)
2008: orLando (61)
2009: Arizona (55), State College (52)
2010: State College (57), SoCal (51), orLando (50)
2011: Baltimore (56), Atlanta (52)

And a count by team:

ARI: 4 W, 2 L
ATL: 0 W, 2 L
BAL: 0 W, 1 L
DUN: 0 W, 1 L
EGC: 6 W, 0 L
FDQ: 0 W, 0 L (CHI: 0 W, 2 L)
LVE: 1 W, 1 L
orL: 0 W, 2 L
PIT: 0 W, 0 L (BW3: 2 W, 0 L)
SCV: 2 W, 0 L (TAL: 0 W, 1 L)
STK: 0 W, 1 L
SCC: 2 W, 4 L

In the beginning, most teams managed to win between 32-49 games. There are some teams that seem to do that all the time. 2001 was the only season in which no one managed the 50-win plateau, and then the teams started to trickle in. Now, of course, we have 12 teams in the league instead of 8 or 10, so there are more opportunities for teams to achieve great (or not-so-great) things. Elm Grove was the first team to win 50, doing it in three straight seasons, from 2002-2004. State College joined the ranks of the great teams in 2005, and then we were off. Our expansion season was the first season in which three teams won 50 teams (and exactly), though none of the three won the plaque that season. We duplicated that feat last season. Losing 50 games peaked in 2010, when no less than three teams managed that benchmark of awfulness.

I write this now because as the 2012 season comes to a close, one of the teams listed above has done something truly memorable. The Arizona Greenbacks spent 5 RBA seasons without appearing on these lists. The most they won was 45. The most they lost was 47. But starting with a putrid team in 2006, they have now reeled off SEVEN consecutive seasons of at least 50 wins or at least 50 losses. They lost their 50th game yesterday. Two other teams have made 6 appearances on these lists, but this is consecutive we’re talking about. This is a streak.

2012 has a chance to be special, though probably it will fall more in line with what we’ve seen in the past few seasons. There is a chance that this will be the first season to ever feature FOUR 50-win teams. It’s not a great chance, mind you, but Dunedin and Ft. Duquesne are sitting at 49 wins apiece, so they are basically assured of it. Also, Elm Grove and State College sit at 46, needing 4-1 finishes to get to 50, and those teams have been steamrollers for quite a while now. It’s possible. Amazingly, it’s also possible that four teams will lose 50 games, as SoCal and Arizona are already there and orLando and Pittsburgh have shots at it. This could be the most divided season of all time. Maybe it already is.

The last thing I’ll say? Not that we need to aggrandize Elm Grove any further here, but of the three teams who have made these lists 6 times, they are the only ones to make it all 6 times on one particular list. Look at that again. Six seasons over 50, zero under. Amazing.

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The Race During the Last 9 Games

First I thought I’d handicap the race a little bit, but then I figured that I’d leave Hobbs and his mental infirmities out of it. Actually, they’ve done a good job of putting themselves out of the race on their own. So what I mean is that I wanted to look at each team’s chances during the stretch run here. So I used a couple of formulas, including a Bill James maneuver for figuring out how often a team with winning percentage A should beat a team with winning percentage B.

            A - A * B
  WPct = -----------------
         A + B - 2 * A * B

Everything else is pretty standard. I used Pythagorean records to determine the “true” talent level of the team going forward. Opponent winning percentage is just opponent winning percentage. Let’s put up the chart and then editorialize after.

Team	RS	RA	PyWP	OppW	OppWP	PredWP	PredW
DUN	313	234	0.641	102	0.472	0.667	6.00
FDQ	303	242	0.611	81	0.375	0.723	6.51
EGC	310	243	0.619	104	0.481	0.637	5.73
SCC	329	251	0.632	94	0.435	0.690	6.21
BAL	284	250	0.563	123	0.569	0.494	4.44
SCV	294	298	0.493	94	0.435	0.558	5.02

A couple of things I want to say about the assumptions. First, Ft. Duquesne and Elm Grove are better now than they were for the first 50 games of the season. So their Pythagorean WPs should probably be higher. Also, Las Vegas is included in the Opponent winning percentage as a 37-34 team, which they aren’t any longer. However, even considering that, the schedules for the Larkin teams seem to be more difficult, which favors FDQ, SCC and SCV. The last number is the expected number of wins for the rest of the season. Using this, it looks like Dunedin and Ft. Duquesne should both finish right around 51-52 wins, which makes for a nice race toward the #1 pick. What stands out is that Elm Grove and State College seem to have an advantage on Baltimore and Silver City, even without the leads they have in hand. The two most striking schedules are Ft. Duquesne’s and Baltimore’s, which are awful and brutal, respectively. (Aren’t those words great? You got the connotation in a sports sense, even though they mean about the same in a general sense. Language!) I threw up when I saw Ft. Duquesne’s remaining schedule: Pittsburgh, SoCal, orLando. They are probably in good shape. However, Baltimore faces Atlanta this round and it only gets harder from there as they battle Dunedin and Elm Grove to finish the season. It will be an uphill climb for the Brood to get in.

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