Alex Johnson

The hot team right now is Sioux City, currently in 6th place with a 63-58 record.  In theory they are still in the race (9 1/2 games out), but it will be tough to climb over five other teams.  I like the Crusaders because I have a soft spot for high-average/low-power clubs.  The team has passed Ames for the top spot in team batting and is ahead of only one club, Waterloo, in dingers.  Too bad their best hitter is Pete Rose (probably my least-favorite from this period).  He’s been good all year, with a .326 mark. Atop the league is Roy White, hitting .330 for Des Moines.  White’s been helped a bit by the league format; Des Moines has enough outfield depth to allow him to sit against southpaws (Roy has a 5R balance rating).  Ranked third currently is Willie Mays, who it seems like only yesterday had a commanding lead in BA and was a triple crown threat!

The Sioux City Crusaders have a typical weakness around the keystone, where the likes of Tommy Helms (.265/2/23) and Leo Cardenas (.205/2/16) are solid 2’s defensively, but have combined for just 20 walks and don’t hit enough to help.  But unlike all but a handful of teams in this Year of the Pitcher, it has been a struggle for Sioux City to find ABs for several good hitters.  In this case, there is a glut at LF, CA, and DH, leading to a definite log-jam.  It’s a nice problem to have (but a problem nonetheless), and it is largely due to having a trio of good-hitting catchers: Johnny Bench (who made the all-star roster despite a poor .226/6/29 slash line), Joe Azcue (currently .269/4/15), and Duke Sims (.284/6/14).  Too bad the format doesn’t allow a trade!  One saving grace is Duke’s ability to play the outfield, so in general I can leave the catching to Johnny and Joe (but since Bench batted 564 times in 1968, this duo alone makes the catcher slot crowded).  Unfortunately, Sims and the team’s traditional left-fielders, Alex Johnson and Lee Maye, are all 4’s in the field.  Ideally, this trio could share the DH and LF slots — and with Jose Cardenal (a 2 in LF) also needing playing time, this could make an effective left/right platoon at each position.  That would be the rational course of action, I suppose, but lately I’ve been trying to get Alex Johnson the ABs to qualify for the batting title (he’s currently at .303) so the player log-jam is getting more frustrating.

I have a fond memory of Alex Johnson winning a batting title in 1970, since his Angels were one of the selector-set teams that I ran in the neighborhood league.  Back then, walks and defense weren’t a priority for me, so Alex’s nice .329 average was the main reason I made California one of my four teams.  I didn’t know this at the time, but apparently Johnson was lumped into the group that included Dick Allen — good players who were trouble in the clubhouse.  Partly this was a by-product of the nation wrestling with the Black Power movement.  According to Johnson, he had “been bitter ever since I learned I was black.  The society into which I was born and in which I grew up and in which I play ball today is antiblack.”  Perhaps this is why he was something of a loner who didn’t have a lot of friends in baseball, and later in his career there was concern that he needed psychiatric help.  Anyway, all this fan knows for sure is that he hit .300 for a 3-year stretch starting in 1968, and here's hoping that he makes the IBC leader board before season’s end!

Alex Johnson

Here is a link to the Strat-O-Matic league file after 18 weeks of play, and the current standings.  As often happens in sports, rumors of the Falcons’ collapse were greatly exaggerated… this weeks action saw them put 3 games between them and the #2 Knights (who have gone 3-7 over the last ten).  Sioux City is the hottest team, going 8-2 and crossing the .500 mark on the season.    


8/11/68 Iowa Baseball Confederacy        Won   Lost    Pct     GB
Council Bluffs Falcons (A’s-Giants)      71     47    .602     —
Davenport Knights (Tigers-Cards)         68     51    .571    3.5 
Ames Little Cyclones (Orioles-Pirates)   65     52    .556    5.5
Iowa City Regals (Red Sox-Phillies)      64     55    .538    7.5
Cedar Rapids Saints (Twins-Dodgers)      63     55    .534    8.0
Sioux City Crusaders (Indians-Reds)      63     58    .521    9.5

Des Moines Scarlets (Yankees-Cubs)       56     63    .471   15.5
West Metro Maroons (Angels-Mets)         51     67    .432   20.0
Waterloo Sailors (White Sox-Braves)      48     71    .403   23.5
Dubuque Golden Eagles (Senators-Astros)  44     74    .373   27.0

That’s all for this week. 

© John Kisner 2019