Batting Practice Pitchers

It was miserable playing baseball in cold weather.  By the time the real games started in Iowa, the temp was ok, but the early weeks of practice could be awful.  I never knew what to dread more, missing a swing or fouling one off and having my hands sting.  My favorite batting-practice moment came against Tim Murray, who was a year behind me in school and a notch or two lower on the Regina staff.  He was starting to get agitated at me for taking some borderline pitches, and then grooved one.  Beyond the RF fence was the school’s football stadium, with one of the goal posts facing home plate in the distance, and I swear to God I hammered that pitch through the uprights.  It was just BP, of course, but as a senior I didn’t get to hit much and it felt good to really connect on one.  My hands felt fine on that one.

With 13-man pitching staffs in the IBC, some clubs have a pitcher whose main purpose seems to be throwing batting practice.  Some of this is on me, for making a poor decision on the last slot on each staff, but it may also be a case where I need to somehow make the computer-manager use more pitchers.  (I have a lot of control over lineups, but don’t make any relief decisions.)  Here is the pitching version of Mr. Irrelevant — the hurlers that are on pace to throw less than 30% of their innings and as such were hardly worth rostering.

Name                    W   L    ERA  SV    IP    H  BB   SO  Balance
Pete Richert, ALC       0   0   0.00   0   2.1    0   0    2   5L
Ron Kline, ALC          2   3   4.50   4  18.0   30  21   16   7R
Chuck Dobson, CBF       2   2   4.76   0  28.1   29  11   18   2L 
Lew Krausse, CBF        3   3   4.25   3  29.2   29   6   17   3R
Paul Lindblad, CBF      0   0   3.38   1   2.2    3   1    3   8L
Mel Nelson, DPK         0   0   4.50   0   2.0    1   1    0   8L
Don McMahon, DPK        0   0   3.86   0   2.1    1   0    2   6R 
Fred Talbot, DMS        0   1   6.55   0  11.0   13   2   10   7R
Bill Landis, ICR        1   0   1.13   1   8.0    5   6    7   8R
Vicente Romo, SCC       2   0   0.93   3   9.2    5   2   11   5R
Dennis Bennett, WMM     0   0   4.26   0   6.1    6   3    4   9L

My first thought was that the computer is probably over-using certain relievers, but upon inspection just two relievers (both closers) have a usage higher than 100%, Joe Hoerner of the Knights and Ron Taylor of the Maroons.  I’ve decided to remove these guys from the closer slot in the computer manager for the time being — this is probably worth checking at the start of each calendar month from now on.  But aside from those two, I have no clue why the computer doesn’t like some of the names above.  Let’s look a bit closer at the three teams that have multiple pitchers on the list.

Ron Kline

Ron Kline and Pete Richert are both closers, but sit behind Eddie Watt on the closer list for Ames.  Richert just isn’t all that good, and I also have noticed that the computer isn’t real keen on lefty-righty matchups, so it’s not a great shock that he’s a forgotten man.  But Kline?  He had a 1.68 ERA and was a horse, with 113 IP in 1968, so he’s a different story.  Perhaps the computer doesn’t like his extreme balance rating, or maybe it’s just a preference for some of the other bullpen arms.  Note Ames has the lowest Complete Game total in the league, so it’s more than just a by-product of a great rotation.


As for Council Bluffs, it’s a glut of starting pitchers that seems to blame.  Chuck Dobson is the team’s sixth starter, and just hasn’t been needed much.  The team had so much rotation depth that it rostered Lew Krausse (with 185 IP) as a reliever — he does have a ‘2’ closer rating, so a bullpen role isn’t as big a stretch as finding steady work.  Paul Lindblad is another reliever with an extreme balance rating — I am starting to believe isn’t a usage magnet.  Otherwise, it’s hard to figure why a lefty with good numbers rides the pine.  It did strike me that the Falcons have the #3 staff in the league at this point with a 3.14 team ERA, so if the starters are pitching deep into games there just won’t be much need for relief.  


Both of the low-usage guys on the Knights have unbalanced cards.  They are both good: righty Don McMahon has a 1.01 WHIP and lefty Mel Nelson has a 1.09 WHIP.  McMahon had a particularly long and distinguished career in baseball, pitching until he was 44 and coaching after that.  Earlier I joked about these guys not being worth much besides maybe throwing BP, but Don’s case wasn’t so funny: he died at age 57 after suffering a heart attack when throwing before a Dodgers game in 1987.  The Knights are currently tops in both Team ERA and Complete Games, so it also might a case of the team not needing many relief innings.  Note this is Joe Hoerner’s staff, so it will be interesting to see if the shift in closer settings has an effect.

Here is a link to the Strat-O-Matic league file after 17 weeks of play, and the current standings.  Those standings have really been shaken, with several teams on long losing or winning streaks.  Two of the top clubs nose-dived, Council Bluffs (1-9) and Ames (2-8).  This allowed Davenport (6-4) to move into a tie for 1st, challenging Council Bluff’s season-long dominance. Des Moines is the hottest team, going 8-2 and inching closer to the .500 mark.    


8/04/68 Iowa Baseball Confederacy        Won   Lost    Pct     GB
Council Bluffs Falcons (A’s-Giants)      66     45    .595     —
Davenport Knights (Tigers-Cards)         66     45    .595     — 
Ames Little Cyclones (Orioles-Pirates)   61     48    .560    4.0
Iowa City Regals (Red Sox-Phillies)      61     50    .550    5.0
Cedar Rapids Saints (Twins-Dodgers)      59     51    .536    6.5
Sioux City Crusaders (Indians-Reds)      56     57    .496   11.0

Des Moines Scarlets (Yankees-Cubs)       54     58    .482   12.5
West Metro Maroons (Angels-Mets)         48     63    .432   18.0
Waterloo Sailors (White Sox-Braves)      45     68    .398   22.0
Dubuque Golden Eagles (Senators-Astros)  40     71    .360   26.0

That’s all for this week. 

© John Kisner 2019