This post is related to the 2020 Best Baseball League series. If you missed it, check out the series kick-off article.The 2020 Best Baseball League
As we were entering the 10th round of the draft, I made ‘win-now’ picks as best I could with controllable players. Here were my first few picks (Rating – first number = current rating, second number is potential rating – both 20 to 80 ranges):
Pick 1. 26 year old RF, Rating: 74/78
Pick 2. 22-year old SP, Rating: 54/72
Pick 3. 23-year old SS, Rating: 52/69
Pick 4. 26-year old CF, Rating: 62/66
Pick 5. 23-year old LF, Rating: 57/67
Pick 6. 28-year old SP, Rating: 61/61
Pick 7. 34-year old SP, Rating: 64/64
Pick 8. 30-year old C, Rating: 52/52
Pick 9. 19-year old SP, Rating 22/80
I was already questioning my decisions to draft two 30+ year old players so early, but quality, everyday players were starting to disappear. So, with my 10th pick, I selected Jose Soreni, a 37-year-old masher. I selected him to be our DH, given that Greeno was slotted in to play right, and Soreni was rated a 35 as a LF (aka garbage – like worse than Manny AND Hanley Ramirez). Thankfully, the DH role was the perfect fit.
As our everyday cleanup hitter, Soreni collected 201 hits, 49 doubles, 39 home runs, drove in 135 runs, scored 131 runs, and slashed .317/.408/990. That’s an OPS of .990, an OPS+ of 157, and good for 6.6 WAR. He played in 160 games.
At age 37.
For perspective, there have only been 13 occurrences in real life where a player has played in at least 160 games, collected at least 200 hits, hit at least 35 home runs, and hit at least .300:
Some of these seasons are incredible, but none were achieved above age 32. A representative of the Laval Flying Tigers at the mid-summer classic, Soreni’s All-Star season resulted in a number of high ranks on the across the league leader board.
In round 11, I made an even bolder selection, by drafting Luis Padilla, a 39-year old outfielder. But he could have been 59, because his ratings seemed as close to real life Barry Bonds, in his prime, as imaginable – the only difference being that Padilla was likely going to be a freer swinger, striking out more frequently, despite having a similarly stellar eye to Bonds.
Padilla destroyed the ball the entire year, but was unfortunately sidelined for the final month of the season (and playoffs) with a strained posterior cruciate ligament.
In 137 games, Padilla slashed .313/.418/.677 (1.096 OPS, 182 OPS+!), with 44 home runs, 40 doubles, 129 runs batted in and 115 runs scored. That was good for 6.6 WAR, which lead the Flying Tigers. It’s tough to blame a playoff series loss on injuries, and I won’t use it as an excuse, but I think the outcome pf the division series would have been different for us had Luis been in the lineup.
Only ONE player in real life has hit 40+ home runs, with a .300+ batting average, a 1.000+ OPS in 140 or less games and at least 600 at bats: Ken Griffey Jr. In 1996, Griffey hit 49 homers in 140 games, had a .303 average and an OPS of 1.020. He was 26.
PADILLA IS 39!
Based on Rosin’s scouting reports throughout the season, there hadn’t been any decline across any of his offensive ratings, so in August I offered him a (gulp) 3-year extension at $26M/year. I know by 2022 I’ll likely be looking at an Albert Pujols situation, but 3 years for the possibility of Bonds-like-production seemed worth it.
40-year old Corey Wisdom was another oldie but goodie that I drafted in the 19th round. He hit .314 and had 40 doubles and 21 homeruns. The closest comp I could find was David Ortiz’s 40-year old season, though Big Papi had 38 homers, 127 RBI and an OPS of 1.021. So let’s say Corey was 65% of 40-year old David Ortiz.
The fatal flaw though – I had to start him everyday at third base, and while he was likely a solid defender at one point in his career, Corey made 24 errors and had a Zone Rating of -29.9 (that’s REALLY, REALLY bad).
All three of these ageless wonders were statistical leaders for the Laval Flying Tigers in 2020.