Being normal is common. Easy, some would say, and for simple, obvious reason; being normal is expected. It requires no extra effort. Often nothing has to be done differently if one wants to fit in; one just has to do what others are doing and follow the trends that seem attractive to those who surround them. But being normal has rarely made history, and in the following series, will hardly be mentioned aside from comparison to how truly outstanding some abnormalities are. What makes news, what writes history, what we remember are abnormalities. Thus, we will take a look through the past 4 seasons of fake baseball to see the truly abnormal. We will do this objectively, of course; we'll plot charts and just see who doesn't fit in. Then, we'll investigate.
Some might say the Philadelphia Phillies, who won the inaugural paper cup, followed with a 4-7 start to season 2, then won their next 10 games to win the season 2 paper cup are abnormal. Others might say it's the Los Angeles Angels, who started in Baltimore, went a league worst 1-6, tied for a league worst 4-14 the following season, then moved to Los Angeles, won a wild card spot, and won a paper cup to cap it off. The Padres were viewed as the most abnormal team because of the mind-boggling ways they couldn't get a victory and their "God-given ability to lose winnable games" (from Graham Grams' Season 3 Session 9 power rankings), losing their first 11 games before a victory in session 12 after what seemed like ages. Many different folks will give you several widely varying responses as to the most abnormal team. But I think we can find that team objectively. I want to find the most interesting team because of their moxy, and how they don't fit in with any graph we can put together. I wanna find the outliers.
Last time, we took a look at the best hitting teams in MLR history. Today, we're going to look at the absolute worst. Let's steal our graph from last article and pinpoint the opposite end of the spectrum.
The teams down here, turns out, didn't do so hot. Let's take a deep dive into each of these teams and figure out either what went wrong, or what should have gone better. There are 4 points at the end of the graph that should be our outliers, but since everyone deifies consistency, I'll put the 5 worst teams of all time here, but want to give a quick honourable mention to other teams that just missed the cut.
HM: Season 1 and 2 Oakland Athletics
S1: .266/.320/.432, 2.57 R/G, -0.88 RSAS2: .298/.364/.487, 2.61 R/G, -1.03 RSA
The A's get to make this list because, though they aren't in the top 5, they have 2 of the 10 worst hitting seasons in MLR history. They had the 9th worst season by RSA in the wild west version of MLR, season 1 (3rd worst of season one). But the next season, they bumped up every one of their triple slash values by at least 30 points and hardly even moved their runs/game output. Now maybe the lower RSA better puts into context how offensively-driven season 2 is, but that's still odd. By the way, that season 2 RSA doesn't include the "perfect game" thrown against them, as obviously that was scrapped when it was discovered it was thrown by questionable sources. The A's were just abnormally off. Oh and, don't mention it to them, but the A's have always been below the league average in runs/game by at least .4, though they've always improved since the beginning of season 2, so watch out, they just may hit league average this year!
Also we shouldn't forget, despite having one of the worst offensive seasons of all time, the A's made the paper cup in season 1. I mean it, season 1 was the wild west of fakebaseball.
HM: Season 2 Baltimore Orioles (Now LAA)
.263/.344/.451, 2.67 R/G, -0.98 RSA
Speaking of making the top 10 worst offensive seasons in history multiple times... well, we'll get to these guys later.
5. Season 3 Detroit Tigers
.248/.309/.488, 2.13 R/G, -1.07 RSA
The Tigers aren't so much an outlier as they are the end of the normal curve from our graph. But they're top 5, and they had an abysmal season 3, so let's talk about it. The Season 3 Detroit Tigers had 12 players with at least 16 plate appearances, >1 per game. Of those 12, 8 had a batting average below .240, and 3 failed to hit the Mendoza line. The Tigers never scored more than 5 runs in a game, and scored fewer than 3 runs in 10 of their 16 games. The Tigers must have won like, 3 games, right?
Well, turns out fake baseball is weird. Despite having the 5th worst offense of all time, the Tigers somehow found a way to a 9-6 record through 15 games. And it wasn't due to pitching being phenomenal either; pitching was above average, but they were 60th percentile for pitching seasons all time. Convenient, however, was their 7-2 record in 1 run games, which definitely will put any team in the playoff hunt. At 9-6, with one game remaining, all they needed to do was beat the Indians, and the wild card was theirs:
The Tigers, par for the course on offense, were completely swept clean, with 1 hit and 0 walks against the combo of Artanis Jones and Dane Konrad (The Indians with another shutout? They were there last article!). In a game with it all on the line, the Tigers got 1 hit in the bottom of the first with 2 down, grounded out, and never touched first base safely again. I hesitated to put them on this list because of them not truly being an outlier, but after recalling this game, they couldn't be left off. The Tigers would finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs due to tiebreaker with the Angels, who, wouldn't ya know it, would go on to win the whole paper cup.
4. Season 1 Baltimore Orioles (Now LAA)
.228/.287/.414, 2.29 R/G, -1.17 RSA
Told ya we'd get back to them.
The Season 1 Orioles were a modern day tragedy. So much youth, so much excitement. Squashed in the first 2 weeks of fake baseball's existence.
Instead of diving into season stats, I just wanna talk about each individual game and show how bad it must have been to play on this team in their inaugural season (and I'm also going to plug the now non-linked fakebaseballreference for your use to peruse through season 1 games).
Game 1: @DET: Orioles score on a single from Randy Nummer in the 2nd! Shut out remainder of game, lose 2-1.
Game 2: HOU: Orioles score on a homer from Randy Nummer in the 5th! They were down 3-0 though and lose 3-1.
Game 3: @PHI: Orioles score 2 in the 2nd on a Bernie Petrol homer, and again in the 3rd on a Randy Nummer homer! Too bad they're facing the Phillies, as readers of last week's article will know that means Philadelphia scored 9 to win this game handily.
Game 4: WSH: Remember last article when we said how the Nats scored fewer than 3 runs 1 time? Well it was this game against Baltimore. And it didn't matter cause Baltimore put up 1 in the first from, shocker, a Randy Nummer dinger, then refused to get past first base the rest of the game to lose 2-1.
Game 5: TOR: In their best game of the season, the Orioles scored in a controversial way. With 2 outs in the 4th and the bases loaded, the Orioles trailed 4-1. At the plate was Aaron Range, who had to be tagged in other non-fakebaseball threads to swing, and was ushered by the ump to swing in the situation. He would hit a grand slam, and drive in a quarter of all Orioles runs in season 1 on this one swing. He would be injured and never swing in fake baseball again. Of course, the Blue Jays would tie in the 5th, and despite a grand slam, the Orioles needed to go to extras to finish the game. They would walk off in the bottom of the 7th, and the Orioles would get their first win in franchise history in extras.
Game 6: @ATL: Back in business, Baltimore would score 3 in the 2nd on a Dickshot home run, and would go on to give back those 3 runs in the 4th before losing on a walkoff single in the 6th.
Game 7: PIT: Of course, you can't have a terrible offensive team without being shutout somewhere during the season. The Pirates came to town, Darth Vader pitched a gem, and the Orioles finished 1-6 scoring 16 runs in 7 games.
What's crazy about this team is that their pitching, while not great, wasn't abysmal by any means, they just couldn't get runners across the plate. Oh and since we can cherry pick stats, I'm gonna do that. One can clearly tell the outlier on this outlier team was Randy Nummer, who drove in 4 of the team's 6 runs to start the season. If we remove him from the season totals, this team hit .206/.270/.349. According to one of the members of the season 1 Orioles, Johnny Dickshot, "we had absolutely no scouting, swings were totally guessed. Everyone just went up with random numbers. It wasn't until a few names entered the clubhouse like Meerkat or Whit Merto that we started to actually try to scout and swing well." Maybe this would be some insight as to why Randy Nummer did so well, before any scouting was performed?
Also what's crazy, though probably expected, is the Orioles continuation of just horrible offense in season 2. After the worst season of any team in the inaugural season, the Orioles followed it up with the worst record in MLR for a 2nd straight year, going 4-14 in season 2. They also had the 6th worst season all time by RSA in season 2 which, by the way, was the 2nd worst RSA in season 2, it's just that everyone else scored so much that it pushed the RSA for season 2 back for Baltimore.
The Orioles finished the season 1-6, and though this is the wild west of fakebaseball, it's worth noting that this is only the 2nd worst winning percentage of any team in fakebaseball history. 1-6 in a number guessing game. How can it get worse than that?
3. Season 3 San Diego Padres
.208/.284/.356, 1.81 R/G, -1.38 RSA
The Season 3 San Diego Padres were not a good team . Their pitching in season 3 was not much to be desired, yet somehow an improvement over their season 2 pitching as a team. The problem that arose with the season 3 Padres was that dastardly inability to score runs, and HOO boy. There was an inability to do that.
Here's how to decide how many Runs the Padres will score in any given game in season 3: Roll a die. If it lands on a 5 or a 6, they've scored 3 runs. If it lands on a 3 or a 4, they've scored 2 runs. If it lands on a 1 or a 2, they've been shut out. Here's the distribution of their runs scored as a team in season 3 games
This doesn't have good context cause I haven't used this chart before. But let's put this chart next to an average team from season 3. Texas was the 11th best team out of 24 and the 11th ranked team in standard deviation for runs/game. That's right on the nose average, so let's compare them.
Aha! But one who is smart knows that clearly these charts have different X axes. Well, let's put them on the same chart to compare a little better.
The Padres have more 0 run, 2 run, and 3 run ball games, meanwhile the Rangers have more 4, 5, 7, and 9 run ball games.
This doesn't seem like a lot, but the Padres being shutout 5 times also can't be undersold here. The Padres never scored more than 8 runs in a 3 game stretch. Remember last article when the Royals never had fewer than 11 in a 3 game stretch in season 4? The Padres never had more than 8, and that was due to a 5 run and 3 run game, surrounded by shutouts.
So what happened to the Padres? Well, they had 7 auto-Ks, which doesn't help when you give your opponent a free out every other game, but this was a new level of atrocious. The previous season, Forehead Jones was in contention for not only the season home run record, but the all time home run record. In season 2, Jones hit 7 home runs, falling just one short of the record set by Joe Trundle at 8. In season 3, the entire Padres roster hit 8 home runs. Jones went from an MVP candidate to a slouch potato, hitting .100/.182/.300 with a single home run in 22 plate appearances season 3. 6 players on this team had >20 plate appearances and failed to reach the mendoza line, and 3 of those players failed to hit .100.
Maybe more notable though is the players who hit exceptionally well and couldn't contribute regardless, like the sad tale of Drew Savage, who went a booming 9 for 22, but all hits were singles. He hit .409 and scored 2 runs all season. Caleb Athen and Dwayne Stevenson were the only others on the team to hit above .270, and Athen, the team leader in slugging percentage, topped out at .692, while Dwayne Stevenson would auto K 3 times.
This team also lost so, so many games in ways that are almost too heartbreaking to describe. Almost.
Session 5: @ COL: Padres lead 2-0 going into bottom 6. Filet-Mignon Jackson has thrown 5 innings of 1 hit shutout ball. Then the following results: Strikeout. Triple. Popout. 2 outs, 2 run lead, runner on 3rd; so of course Hank Murphy ties the game with a dinger. Next batter, Gottlieb Giannopolous hits a walkoff 0 diff dinger (on a 799 pitch). Ouch
Session 9: @ PIT: Go into bottom 5 with 2 run lead. Blow it for a 3-3 tie. Bottom 6, give up walk off dinger
Session 11: COL: Game is tied thru 5, Padres hoping for first win. Rockies score 2 in top 6, win by 2.
I spoke with a member of the Season 3 Padres, Mr. Rekt Kiddo, who now manages the team.
"It was a team with good people that checked all the boxes of a really shitty team. No communication/chemistry, no scouting, but what really stung was bad luck with bad pitching at inconvenient times. When your team has this monkey on its back and it feels like they just can't win due to forces out of their control, it's hard to overcome that. It was a failed experiment, but it had a lot of potential. By the time I joined, most of the new people were checked out and just swinging whatever, since that's what they were doing already."
And Kiddo is correct, what makes a team poor hitters isn't necessarily having bad scouting or team chemistry; when you feel like no matter what you do won't help, it's tough to believe that anyone can change the course of a season.
The Padres would go 0-11 before winning their first game in session 12 by luckily running into a skidding Diamondback squad who had lost 3 prior games. Arizona was just the right team to give San Diego their first win. Then, the Padres would lose 3 of their next 4, ending the season with a league-history-worst 2-14.
This team just makes me too sad to talk about, and no one can make me talk about them any
2. Season 1 Minnesota Twins
.285/.323/.487, 1.86 R/G, -1.60 RSA
If there were a team I wouldn't put on here subjectively, it'd be the Twins. The Twins weren't that bad of a team in season 1, they went 3-4, missed the paper cup by a game, and had some of the best pitching the League had seen thanks to Tim Burr. Ironically, they were second in season 1 only to the Athletics, who also showed up as honourable mentions on this list, and edged the Twins out by a game to make the paper cup. Also odd is how this occurred without park factors; Both the Twins and the A's had the best pitching and (almost) worst hitting despite no park factors, which I find odd and wish I had an explanation for. Maybe they had fewer innings to hit cause they won games at home? Likely this is due to small sample size, right? I suppose these things could explain, but regardless, let's investigate.
What makes this position odd is how the Twins both had a decent slashline AND terrible runs per game. Maybe they just left a lot of runners on base? Well, not quite; they left 22 on base throughout the season, but stranded 24 runners of their opponents. I really couldn't find any particular reason as to why the Twins were bad. I even looked at retired players, but the retired players who were on the Twins in season 1 collectively slashed .500/.571/1.545. That wasn't it. The Twins didn't slug well, but they slugged better than almost every other outlier on this chart. Maybe they succumbed to the season 1 small sample size, but still, how do you have a team OPS of .810 and score fewer than 2 runs per game?? The Season 1 Twins are one of 3 teams all time to score fewer than 2 runs per game, but nothing stands out as terrible. The Twins did have 5 home runs, which tied for 2nd fewest in the league, just ahead of Pittsburgh with 4. But the Pirates had an even lower team batting average, hitting .255 as a team, and they scored 26 runs, doubling the Twins output for the season. I'm just confused.
Forget it, I'm not trying to make sense of it any more. The Twins season 1 offense was bad, but they are only notable for their poor run scoring. Their pitching was great, behind the backs of Tim Burr, Pablo Sanchez, Sonny Streaker, and Hudson Quin. They only get to be in this article because of how much of a strange season season 1 is. Maybe I won't include season 1 stats next article.
Nah, I still will cause it's fun to see the history of the league back in its most raw state. Anyway, these Twins went 3-4, missed the Paper Cup by a game, and went on to disappear from the league for 2 seasons. Then they would return in season 4 and literally outscore their season 1 run total by 9 runs in a single game. Man, season 4 was stranger than I remember...
1. Season 4 Toronto Blue Jays
.191/.249/.391, 1.75 R/G, -1.65 RSA
Excuse me what the fuck.
For a whole season, the Toronto Blue Jays, AS A TEAM, hit below the mendoza line. For a
whole season, the Toronto Blue Jays got on base less than 25% of the time. For a whole season, the Toronto Blue Jays' offense died.
I could talk about the season as a whole, but I'd rather look at the first 2 games and compare the remainder of the season after that. I get to do this, of course, because I'm writing this article and I want to, and if you want to not do that, how about you write the article next time.
Through 2 games, the Toronto Blue Jays slashed .262/.295/.429. Not great by any means, but a respectable amount. This scored them 4 runs in 11 innings, and with their pitching dominating the way they had, allowing 1 run through 12, it rocketed them to a 2-0 start. One may not recall, but the Blue Jays actually won their first 2 games of season 4!
Then the engine failed.
Over the next 14 games, the Blue Jays would have a team OPS of .629. They would score 24 runs in 14 games, including a stretch where they would score 5 runs over 5 games, then score 5 in a single game (and lose), then score 5 over their next 4 games. They would autoK 10 times, and would lose 2 players due to inactivity. The Blue Jays would not put up more than 5 in a game all season, and put up more than 2 runs in a game just 4 times. If you look at their individual performances, it's easy to see why this team struggled.
5 different players hit below the Mendoza line, with 2 hitting below .100.
Phoenix Wright is an interesting case study. Mr. Wright hit 2 home runs in the first 3 games of the year. In the next 13 games, Mr. Wright would amass 3 hits, 2 walks, and a single home run, giving him a .119 average on the season through 44 Plate appearances.
Tsun Dere had 5 XBH in 39 plate appearances, but unfortunately, These 2 doubles, 2 triples and a home run were the 5 hits she had all season.
Sar Dinka was a beast on the mound, true to form, but his .071/.133/.143 at the plate solidified him to the rubber for the next season to come.
Jeremy Carolina led the team with a .364 average, which is great! ... Except he joined the team in a trade with Montreal in session 12, taking over for Ziggy Cedar who hit .185 on the year. In his 7 plate appearances for Toronto, Carolina would go 1 for 6 with a single and a walk, giving him a .143/.286/.143 triple slash in his short tenure with the team.
To put a positive spin on things, Toronto grounded into a double play less than any other team in Season 4. This, however, is likely due to having the fewest plate appearances with a runner on 1st.
Let's just compare them to every other team in season 4.
Just as much as the Royals were ahead of the pack, the Blue Jays were that far behind. There is no sugar-coating it; the Blue Jays had the most abysmal offense of any team in MLR history, by runs scored/game, by runs scored/game below league average, by batting average. One critical thing that the Blue Jays also had in season 4 which left a lot to be desired was their batting average with RISP: .089. Every time someone got to 2nd, the already low chance of a Blue Jay hit was cut in half. This season was appaling by every measure, and there's no way to spin around it. For 16 games in season 4, the Blue Jays were at rock bottom.
A few final graphs, just to show how drastically bad the Blue Jays were compared to the best team in the league that season; here is the game totals of runs scored of the league worst Blue Jays against the league Best Royals:
Notice how the bell curves of these runs are pretty much non-intersecting. These 2 teams were playing the same fakebaseball, but barely. Notice how 9 out of the Royals 16 games have them scoring 6 runs or more. The Blue Jays scored 5 runs a single time. You know what, we're gonna show the probability distribution of runs scored as well over the top, just cause I feel like it.
According to a good ol' normal distribution of games (which these aren't necessarily, they're certainly more right-skewed), the Season 4 Royals were light years away from the Blue Jays in offensive production. I mean look at the likelihood of scoring 6 runs for Toronto! According to their mean and standard deviation, their chance at scoring 6 runs or more is approximately 0.15%. No, not a typo or wrong decimal point, 0.15%. The Royals scored 6 runs or more in 9 of their 16 games, 56%! If you took a random game from season 4 that the Royals played, coin flip odds that they scored 6 runs or more. You are more likely to deal a single 7 card hand of poker and get 4 of a kind than get a 6 run game out of the season 4 Blue Jays.
Finally, we're going to do an experiment. We're going to pick a random Blue Jays game from season 4, take their run total, and compare it to a random Royals game of that same season. If the Royals scored more in their game, they win, if they score less, they lose, and if they score the same amount, they tie. In our made up experiment, there are 256 outcomes, since there are 16 games to pick from both teams.
Of those 256 outcomes, 17 would result in a Blue Jays win, 13 would result in a tie, and 226 would result in a Royals win. That is a 11.7% chance of going to extras for Toronto, somehow slightly better odds than driving in a baserunner if they're on 2nd or 3rd.
The Blue Jays won just 3 games all season, and only 1 after session 2. That would be in session 15 after losing the previous 12 in a row, scoring 18 runs over the course of those 12 games, 5 of which were in one game. The Blue Jays would miss the playoffs, change managers, and changeover much of their offense by the end of the offseason.
Well, there you have it. The worst hitters have been found, and the best hitters were discussed last week (and some this week). Next, we'll discuss the best pitching teams of all time, and we'll start to decipher whether good hitting or good pitching is better for your team in the long run. Until next time, this is Riley Terr, signing off.