It would appear that guessing numbers is, at face value, exactly what it is. Guessing numbers. That's it. When one pitches, they guess a number, and when they swing, they guess a number. Simple as that. No complexities. Just a 1000 number lottery held 40 times over a 10 day period to determine which of a team is better at guessing numbers, with some role playing to go along with it, as well as some tasteful (and sometimes distasteful) ways of relaying that swing.
However, fake baseball can take on many forms aside from this. Some teams do just head to the plate and throw out their best guess with no background information, taking a complete stab in the dark as to what a pitcher will throw. Some teams will carefully comb over every pitch a pitcher has thrown in his career, seeing what he's thrown in the previous 10 at bats, what he's thrown in this particular situation, and what his tendencies are when facing hitters above a certain statline. Some teams will swing what they want and try to get the pitcher to play along with their swings, forcing the pitcher to make a move in place of the batters finding their groove.
So far, I've talked about the best hitters and why Kansas City is for some reason the breeding grounds for the best hitters of the generation. I've talked about the worst hitters, and why Lowering a roster size can have drastic effect. I've talked about the best pitchers from New York to Oakland, who proved that runs aren't too easy to come by when those on the mound are experts in their field. Now it's time to wrap up the main segments of this series with the final question: Which MLR team's pitching is the worst?
Let's pull up that Runs Allowed per At Bat chart again.
I asked #League-News-Discussion who was the worst pitching team of all time. Let's see what they had to say:
Maybe people have a short memory, but the only season that was guessed by anyone was from season 4, except for the DM guess by Jericho Caulfield. Jericho was the only one who wasn't on the money today. Looking back though, I can see why they would be someone's guess.
Seattle had the 9th worst season of all time by RAA. This might be due to giving up 11 runs in a game twice, but they also failed to shut out a team for 14 straight games to end the season. They also may have been worse if not for their final game of season 2 ending with a forfeit due to 5 autos in the first 2 innings and losing 11-0. Certainly not the best way to go about winning, but it helps cut down runs allowed on the season by quite a lot. But even the season 2 Mariners were off the list by a little bit, for even they weren't as bad as the following teams.
5. Season 3 Los Angeles Dodgers
99.2 IP, 3.37 ERA, 4.25 R/G, 1.06 RAA
I don't want to talk about the Dodgers too much. Their ERA in season 2 was actually 21st out of 30 teams. So how'd they end up on here? Well, lots of extra inning games, and extra inning games where lots of unearned runs were scored. The Dodgers gave up 11 runs in game 6 against the New York Mets in a loss in extras, then allowed 4 to San Francisco in a loss, and followed it up with allowing 11 to Philadelphia in a loss.
Like I said though, the Dodgers actually pitched pretty well, and when we look at their roster, no pitcher stands out as ridiculous. Ron Eagle Sr. had a 4.26 ERA, and everyone else was between 3 and 4. Not great, but not bad by any standards. The only thing I want to particularly point out about the Dodgers is that through season 3, they'd existed for 2 years and had the 3rd worst and 5th worst pitching seasons in MLR history by RAA.
The Dodgers would go 7-9 and miss the playoffs. Nothing exciting about this team. They weren't really bad pitchers. Just gave up extra inning runs in a season when the league, on average, didn't score often at all. Plus they won a paper cup as soon as their pitching was almost league average. Next.
4. Season 2 San Diego Padres
102.1 IP, 4.69 ERA, 4.72 R/G, 1.13 RAA
The Season 2 Padres pitched 102.1 innings, and all of them were terrible.
Ok maybe that's a little harsh, but take a look at their pitching staff. They had 3 pitchers on their roster, all with a WHIP above 1.50. Wanna make it sound more ridiculous? The Padres best pitcher was their left fielder, Caleb Athen. He went 8.1 innings and had a 2.44 ERA. No one else on the squad had an ERA less than 3.4, and actually, the more innings a San Diego Pitcher pitched, the worse their ERA got! San Diego had 2 pitchers throw more than 30 innings, Lim Tincecum and Kyle Grimes Jr. Grimes had a 4.41 ERA in 34 innings, and Tincecum had a 6.11 ERA in 37.1. This team was bad, and if we look game by game, it makes sense how they end up here.
In the first 7 games, the Padres held their opponent to 1 run 3 times. That's pretty impressive, and gives your team a good chance to win. Ignore the 12 spot they also gave up in the first 7, that's not important. What is important is allowing their opponent to score 4 or more runs in every remaining game of the season until games 17 and 18, where they allowed 3 runs each in their final 2 games. For the middle 9 games of this season, the Padres averaged 5.7 RA per game. For half of a season, if a team played the Padres, they expected to score more than a run per inning.
The Padres would finish last in the National League with a 7-11 record in Season 2 thanks to the offensive prowess of Forehead Jones, C. J. Yantzi, Kaylee Stewart, and a host of other offensive talents, but they would miss the playoffs. And maybe this proves that bad pitching isn't as bad as bad offense. With bad pitching you win a few games by having an offensive explosion, with bad offense, you have to depend on shutouts to win. Are all these teams going to win 40% of their games?
3. Season 4 Milwaukee Brewers
93.0 IP, 4.39 ERA, 4.56 R/G, 1.16 RAA
Icna guessed that the season 4 Brewers would be on this list. Right he was.
I could come up with graphs and charts to show why this team didn't work. But I'd rather just go through some season 4 anecdotes from the Milwaukee Brewers and show you how this season truly transpired.
Session 1: Brewers head to San Francisco to take on the Giants. After Johnny Hendrix throws 4 innings of shutout ball, Tommy Foxconn comes in, allows a walk and a double, then loses the lead on a sac fly and single. Brewers lose 2-1.
Session 2: Teddy Blisblinne throws 4 innings of shutout ball. Icna Comit comes in for the 5th and allows no runs. It's all tied 0-0. In the 6th, Icna throws 425-420-420 and allows 3 straight home runs. Hans Ali comes in and gives up a run to cap off the 4-0 loss.
Session 4: Johnny Hendrix throws a rockstar performance of 3 runs in 5 innings. Too bad the Brewers couldn't score. 3-0 L
Session 5: The Brewers actually win this game 6-5 against the Cardinals, but I just want to shine a light on Icna in this game. He came in in the 5th when Milwaukee had a 6-3 lead. He threw 420 and allowed a walk, then threw 69 for a triple. He'd be pulled after those 2 pitches. The next batter would single, giving him 2 earned runs on 0 outs, and Icna would be released following the game.
Session 8: Milwaukee hosts the Mariners. After a 1-0 lead in the first, Tommy Foxconn allowed a 2 run home run in the 2nd. He would shut down the Mariners after this, allowing 3 hits in the last 4 innings. It didn't matter though, as the Brewers fail to hit the scoreboard again, losing 2-1.
Session 9: I want to introduce you to the curse of Teddy Blisblinne. Teddy Blisblinne starts off the game and allows a triple, then auto walks. Hans Ali and Johnny Hendrix would finish the game, but Blisblinne would be finished in Milwaukee, cut before the game even ended. As fate would have it, Teddy had a 2.67 ERA when he was cut, and would go on to throw 20 innings in the season with a 1.80 ERA. To take his place is a known active user, G.H. Morello.
Session 10: Morello gets the start and allows 7 runs in the first 2 innings to Miroslav alone. The Cubs score 10 in 1.2 innings, and the Brewers get blown out 15-2. This would be Morello's only pitching performance in a Milwaukee uniform.
Sessions 11 and 12: The Brewers score 6 and 7 runs, but lose on walkoffs on the road in extra innings. Not good for the team run totals
Session 16: The Brewers are holding on hope. Ben Abenduct has gone toe-to-toe with Whitt Bass, both allowing 0 runs through 5. In the top of the 6th, Abenduct strikes out Jackson Sanchez... then allows a home run to C.J. Yantzi. The Brewers lose 1-0. This miserable season is over.
The Brewers ended the season 3-13, tied with Toronto for the worst record in MLR. The Brewers failed to shut out a team all season, a feat which has only happened 10 times in MLR history, 7 of which come from the shortened first season.
I still want you to remember the name Teddy Blisblinne. This was his 2nd year in the league, and he had pitched extremely well, aside from a couple auto walks that put him back. He's had an auto walk each season he's played, but he's pitched very well both seasons he did play. Kind of makes sense that he was released by the Brewers and immediately his replacement was terrible in his stead, since his numbers seemed too good for this team. It's almost like he has a curse going on for his replacement on teams that release him. Buuuuuuut we'd have to have more than 1 example for that to really be the case.
2. Season 3 New York Mets
92.1 IP, 4.29 ERA, 4.63 R/G, 1.43 RAA
The Season 3 Mets didn't struggle to pitch at the start of the season; rather, the problem was just putting it all together. Through 5 games, the Mets had scored 16 runs and allowed 15, 7 of which were from opening day. The problem was the Mets were 2-3 with both wins coming against the 0-5 Cardinals and the 0-5 Padres. Something had to change, and for Mets Manager Caleb Athen, this meant dealing the league's friendliest (albeit, not the league's best) pitcher Q Kimbrel. In return, he got some promising youngsters in Angel Leon and Jay Money. This was a winning trade for the Mets at the time, and still might be looking back; Jay Money was a good hitter, and Leon led the team at the end of the year with only 14 runs allowed in 24 innings pitched in a Mets uniform.
The Mets won 2 of their next 3 despite allowing 15 runs in those 3 games. One score got out of hand though due to going 9 innings; the Mets would allow 9 runs, but only 4 were earned. The Mets were 4-4, hoping to be a contender. Here's what their run differential looked like game-by-game through the first half of the year:
Then Caleb Athen stepped down.
And the Mets lost
Then lost their final 2 games to close out the season.
In their final 8 games, the Mets allowed 44 runs. No other team in MLR history had allowed that many runs in the 2nd half of their season, including season 2, when 18 games were played. The 2nd half of teams' seasons had an extra game, and they still didn't allow more runs in their final 9 games than the Mets did in their final 8.
If nothing else, take away this: The Mets drafted 3 pitchers in the season 3 draft, and these pitchers were the only ones they had on the roster to start the season. These pitchers (Charles Magnus, Quint Kimbrel, and...Teddy....Blisblinne) would end the season with a 3.15, 3.55, and 2.60 ERA. However, they would not see this ERA come to fruition in New York, for by the session 12 All-Star Break, none of these pitchers were in New York any more. By the end of the year, the Mets had Cal Tiberius Jr., Johnny Dickshot (their new GM), Levi Pyram, and J. E. Wilkins. One of these pitchers had a sub 5.5 ERA while in New York. Wilkins was the best on the roster allowing 8 runs in 9 innings pitched. The stumble through the finish line is what cost the Mets their season, and puts them at number 3 on our list.
Again, Teddy Blisblinne was released following his only auto walk of the season. Tiberius Jr. was supposed to be his replacement, picked up a few sessions earlier. But this experiment proved all for naught, as Tiberius allowed a single, single, and double in his first appearance, all of which would eventually score for 3 runs on 0 outs.
His next appearance, Tiberius would allow 5 baserunners in 2 innings of work, before his final appearance in New York, where he'd allow a home run and auto walk, before Dickshot would come in and allow the game-losing home run. Tiberius would be released the same time as Blisblinne, and the Mets were in shambles.
The Mets finished 5-11 and missed the playoffs. The curse of Teddy continued. Now, if you want to have a top 5 worst season of all time, just sign Teddy Blisblinne and cut him right away, and you're near-guaranteed to be on this list.
One team left to go. You know who it is.
1. Season 4 Houston Astros
94.1 IP, 5.53 ERA, 5.50 R/G, 2.10 RAA
Through the first 3 seasons of MLR history, there had been 3 games where a team allowed 13 runs or more in a game. In season 4, 4 teams would accomplish this "feat." The Astros are 2 of those 4 teams.
Normally when discussing outliers, we'd have to disclude this team because they had a bad start, they gave up 2 and 4 runs, then allowed 22 to the Twins. We've talked about that game extensively in the first article published, the Astros allowed 3 grand slams in that game, remember? I would be inclined to include that game as an outlier and a terrible performance if the Astros didn't allow 13 runs to be scored on them 2 sessions later.
I want to just list all these things out because reading them will be numbing in paragraph form, so please read each one and think about what it implies so I don't have to do it for you:
The 2nd most runs allowed by a team through the first 5 games of a season is 33. The most runs allowed through the first 5 games is the Astros at 44.
Through their first 5 games, the Astros allowed more runs than the Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, Rangers, Mariners, Cubs, Giants, and Diamondbacks allowed all season
The Season 4 Brewers, who are 3rd worst all time in RAA, allowed a run per game fewer than the Astros in season 4
The Astros allowed the most HR in the league in season 4 with 37, for an average of 2.31 HR/Game
The Yankees allowed 2.06 runs/game in season 4
The Astros allowed 131 hits, which is 4th most all time, behind 3 teams from season 2 who all played 2 more games
If we change this to hits/game, the Astros win with an astounding 8.19 hits/game compared to 2nd place at 7.56 hits/game
The difference between the Astros and 5th place all time in RAA is the same as the difference from 5th place to 41st place.
If the Astros shut out every team they played on the road, they would still have the 5th worst RA of any team in season 4.
So the Astros are bad. Particularly, they gave up half of their season run total in the first 5 games, which is actually better than the Yankees, who gave up 58% of their season runs in the first 5 games. But a very interesting thing about this Houston team through 5 was that they were tied for the AL west lead up to this point. 3 teams were 3-2, and Houston had the tiebreaker over Seattle. Of course, this wouldn't last, as Houston would give up at least a pair of runs to the next 7 teams they faced, losing 6 of those 7 games. They'd then shut out their next 2 opponents, and look as though their pitching had returned, before allowing 5 and 7 in the last 2 games to close out the most miserable pitching season of all time.
When you look at the roster at the end of season 4, a couple things jump out at you, like the top 2 players who have a 1.64 and 3.63 ERA in 7.1 and 34.2 IP, respectively. But maybe the high 5 ERAs behind them, both from pitchers with 19+ innings is not the best. And maybe it's not the best to find Sam Wood and his 27 ERA from his 2 inning outing in the infamous Twins game to give up 9 runs.
The Astros would finish the season 6-10, and, as fate would have it, allow a single run through 3 games as I write this article, more proof that the fakebaseball gods are humorous and make zero sense.
Looking back on the best and worst of this series, it's clear that some teams skewed a lot of data. Checking out season 4, many teams were, not bad, but just good at pitching, and made the top 10 list because of 1 outlandish game that they weren't a part of. Some teams were truly horrible, but didn't show up because of a few teams from that same season having extra inning games, and this is something I've noted while writing this series. The season 2 Mariners are much worse than the season 2 Dodgers, but because of how everything was run, they appeared to be tied and even slightly better. The Mariners played a game at the end of the season that lasted 3 innings where they allowed 11 runs. This should be worse than LA who had 2 8 inning games in 3 sessions and allowed multiple unearned runs in those games.
My favorite teams on here are by far the Royals and Blue Jays. The Royals because they were in the top 3 offenses twice, which is incredible. They were above the league average in runs/game by more than 2, which has only been done three times. As I write this now, they struggle to score in their games, but the offensive production they output in seasons 3 and 4 should be remembered for a very long time. As well, I like the Blue Jays because they put up what I would consider probably the 2nd best pitching season in history without any park factors, then 2 years later put up the worst hitting season in MLR history still without any park factors. If one were to observe this and had to guess which teams had the most extreme park factors, you'd guess it had to be Toronto is the one in Polo Grounds, but instead, they've played at a neutral site for every home game.
From here on out, expect my articles to come out every 2-3 weeks. Additionally, if you have a personal article you want about a player or deep dive into a particular team, a question you want answered (may be a series), or any request from the man who tries to remain the most neutral about all teams in MLR, let me know, and I'll be happy to respond and write for you.
This is Riley Terr, signing off.