We’re now four weeks into “The Greatest League,” so it’s time for our latest update. Just to recap, the idea with this league is to take some the best individual fantasy seasons of the rotisserie era (1980-present) to come up with the ultimate fantasy baseball simulation. The league consists of 20 teams with 25-man rosters and the universal designated hitter. The 162-game season is being simmed out on WhatIfSports.com and a winner will be determined by the 5x5 fantasy stats produced in those games.
For reference, here are the results from Week Three. Three games are simmed per day for each team, so we’re now more than halfway through the season. 84 games in, to be exact. All-Star rosters were just selected for each league, which you can see on Page Two, as well as the overall standings of the simulation.
This exercise continues to be a nice distraction from the acrimonious state of baseball. Opening up the latest box score has become a simple pleasure. It’s easy to get down right now, but I’m routinely reminded of why I love this sport in the first place.
Week 4 Leaderboard:
Risers: It’s been a topsy-turvy couple of weeks for Rotoworld’s own Christopher Crawford. After losing the most points in the league last week, Crawford was the league’s top gainer this week, adding 14 points to climb into 11th place. Moving further up the board, Matthew Pouliot added 12.5 points over the past seven days to slide into eighth place. Brad Johnson gained 11 points to hold his ground in fifth place. Rudy Gamble is now in second place after picking up seven points. Jesse Roche and Scott Pianowski saw some modest increases as they try to climb into the top 10.
Fallers: Mike Gianella moved into the top-10 last week, but he lost a league-high 20 points over the past seven days to slide into 12th place. Alan Harrison also fell out of the top-10 with an 18.5-point drop. There are more shakeups within the Top-10, as my team fell from second-place to fourth-place with an 8.5-point drop. Brent Hershey lost 6.5 points and Seth Trachtman lost 7.5 points, as a gap begins to develop among the top contenders in the league.
League Pitching Stats (teams sorted by ERA):
The league average ERA is 5.59, just a minor uptick from last week’s 5.58. In a league where offense is dominating, Rudy Gamble’s staff is truly a cut above the rest. It checks in with a 4.01 ERA, which might not sound great in a vacuum, but consider that the next-closest team is Dave Shovein, who boasts a 4.55 ERA. We’ve talked about 2000 Pedro Martinez before, but 1992 Dennis Martinez ranks seventh in the league with a 3.76 ERA and sixth with a 1.14 WHIP. None of Gamble’s starters have an ERA north of 4.40. Gamble was aggressive with pitching during our draft and it’s paying off in a big way. Barring something unexpected, he’s going to be in the thick of things until the very end here.
Matthew Pouliot made his gains this week on the strength of his pitching. 1995 Greg Maddux has been on quite the run of late, allowing two earned runs or fewer in four out of his last five starts while going at least seven innings in all of them. Pouliot’s team leads the league with 31 saves, 15 of them from 2014 Wade Davis. Interestingly, seven different pitchers have logged saves for his squad.
By contrast, pitching led to Mike Gianella’s tumble in the standings over the past seven days. 1987 Frank Viola and 1981 Nolan Ryan have been hit particularly hard of late. Gianella’s team ERA has jumped from 5.08 to 5.36 during this time. Seth Trachtman saw his team ERA jump from 4.94 to 5.32, with 2001 Mike Mussina and 1982 Mario Soto having some rough recent starts.
Zooming out, it’s clear that Andy Behrens is one of the better teams in this league. His offense has been a powerhouse from the start, as you’ll notice when we talking about the hitting categories, but it’s fair to wonder about the upside of his pitching staff. He currently sits in 19th place in strikeouts, which could be a deciding factor in this league.
Individual pitching category leaders:
ERA - Jacob deGrom (2018) - 2.91
WHIP - Pedro Martinez (2000 - 0.93
Strikeouts - Curt Schilling (2002) - 169
Saves - Billy Wagner (1999) - 21
Wins - Two-way tie - Justin Verlander (2019) and Fernando Valenzuela (1981) - 11
League Hitting Stats (teams sorted by batting average):
As noted above, Andy Behrens’ team continues to set the bar for the hitting categories. He actually gained a bit of ground this past week while widening the gap between himself and Dave Shovein. Behrens’ team leads the league in batting average, stolen bases, RBI, and runs scored. 1987 Eric Davis has compiled 20 homers and 23 stolen bases, putting him on pace for a potential 40-40 season.
My team led the league in homers for a couple of weeks, but I’m currently in a three-way tie for third place, with Mike Gianella and Chris Towers jumping ahead. Both of those teams are doing a good job of spreading the wealth with their sluggers. Towers’ team has seven players with double-digit homers, led by 29 bombs from 2017 Giancarlo Stanton. Gianella’s team has eight players with at least 10 homers, including 27 of them from 1989 Kevin Mitchell.
Christopher Crawford and Scott Pianowski both made nice jumps in the hitting department this week. Of note, Crawford’s team batting average hopped from .258 all the way to .273. Edgar Martinez was a big part of that, recently going on 20-for-35 (.571) tear. Nick Doran was the biggest faller in the hitting categories over the past week, suffering an across-the-board slump.
Individual offensive category leaders:
Batting average: Moises Alou (2000) - .368
Home runs: Carlos Pena (2007) - 32
RBI: Albert Belle (1994) - 83
Runs scored: Craig Biggio (1997) - 77
Stolen bases: Tim Raines (1986) - 45
Hitting Line of the Week:
2002 Vladimir Guerrero - 3-for-5, two homers, HBP, eight RBI, two runs scored, one stolen base vs. Mike Gianella - 6/11
Pitching Line of the Week:
2019 Justin Verlander - 9 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 13 K, 0 BB, WIN vs. D.J. Short - 6/13
And while the primary objective is to win the league in 5x5 fantasy stats, here’s the current standings of the 162-game season simulation:
Finally, here’s the All-Star rosters for both leagues: