Monday, January 18, 2016

All-time Great Cheeseheads Roll to 108 Wins!

Led by hall-of-famers Al Simmons and Burleigh Grimes, a squad of ballplayers born in Wisconsin showed they could go toe-to-toe with any APBA foe.

This group of cheeseheads racked up 108 wins against competition that included a slew of World Series champions, division winners and other assorted all-time great ballclubs scattered among my APBA Baseball Game card collection.

In putting together this 25-man crew, the main criteria was that each member must have been born in Wisconsin. And I found plenty of talent to fill the roster, including a bevy of hall-of-fame players, namely Simmons and Grimes, along with fellow pitchers Kid Nichols and Addie Joss. The rest of the lineup boasted plenty of all-stars.

At the end of the 162-game season, the Wisconsin greats compiled a 108-54 record. Simmons led the way, batting .335 with 40 home runs and 148 RBI; "Happy" Felsch of the infamous Black Sox hit .320, scoring 100 runs and driving in 96; Fred Merkle lead the team in runs with 117 and stolen bases with 59.

On the mound, Grimes led the squad with a 23-8 record. He pitched 273 innings in 34 starts, striking out 233. As for the rest of the hall-of-fame trio, Nichols went 18-7, leading the team in strikeouts with 241 in 285 innings and 36 starts; Joss put up a 19-11 record, setting down 224 batters in 262 innings over 35 starts.

Combining 20 starts and 25 relief appearances, Dick Bosman went 19-5, with a 2.10 ERA. Also anchoring the bullpen were Bob Wickman (17 saves) and Pat Neshek, who tallied 8 wins and 8 saves in 48 games.

The staff compiled a 2.95 team ERA in its 108 victories, which included 20 shutouts (6 by Joss!) and 66 complete games.  Nichols, Grimes and Joss each went the distance 19 times.

At the plate, the team batted .264, with a .322 on-base percentage and .452 slugging percentage. They went yard 177 times (Simmons, 40; Ken Keltner, 32; and Andy Pafko, 31). They had almost as many triples (96) as stolen bases (100)! They outscored their opponents 867 to 511.

Like most of my projects, batting averages were down overall (Simmons batted .381 and Kuenn hit .353 in real life those years!). Most of this was due to the higher level of competition and the plethora of A starters and relievers. I also have a tendency to use too many B relievers, even in mop-up duty, when that assignment more often fell to C's and D's.

This project comes on the heels of a season with the all-time great Seattle Mariners, who went 128-34. Unlike that squad, which primarily matched up against the M's 2014 regular season schedule, this bunch took on more top-notch opponents, along with squads from APBA's Baseball All-Time Set 2.

Those Mariners got the better of the cheeseheads, winning three of four games; the '69 World Series Mets and Orioles each won two of three. Against a variety of Cubs teams, including the '69 crew and the 2008 unit, the Wisconsinites went 7-9.

They had better luck versus other NL Central Division foes, including sweeping the World Series-winning '79 Pirates. They went 5-1 against the Big Red Machine of '75 and '76. Nichols tossed a no-hitter against the '75 Reds.

The team was assembled from the listings on Baseball Reference and the APBA cards in my collection, especially players from BATS. Merkle came from some generous folks on the APBA Facebook page, who were kind enough to post his 1911 card. Cards for Andy Pafko, Brad Radke and Wickman were created using Steve's APBA Card Computer. Thanks, man.

Here was the primary starting lineup:

1. Happy Felsch ('20) CF -- .320/.358/.529 (100 runs, 96 RBI, 37 doubles, 17 triples, 15 HRs)
2. Fred Merkle ('11) 1B -- .294/.339/465 (117 runs, 16 triples, 59 SBs)
3. Harvey Kuenn ('59) SS -- .299/.350/.460 (91 runs, 87 RBI, 48 doubles)
4. Al Simmons ('30) LF -- .335/.377/.686 (148 RBI, 43 doubles, 16 triples, 40 HRs)
5. Andy Pafko ('50) RF -- .218/.308/.465 (94 RBI, 31 HRs)
6. Ken Keltner ('48) 3B -- .222/.328/.454 (85 runs, 88 RBI, 32 HRs)
7. Damian Miller ('02) C -- .188/.258/.366 (10 HRs, 36 RBI) and Don Pavletich ('69) C -- .263/.343/.500 (10 HRs, 41 RBI)
8. Jim Gantner ('83) 2B -- .236/.285/.344 (66 runs, 61 RBI)

A strong bench included the likes of Joe Randa ('99), Tom Poquette ('76), Tony Kubek ('57) and my personal favorite, Milwaukee's own Bob Uecker ('65).

For all the stats, click here.

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1 comment:

  1. Don "The Drooling Dog" Pavletich! I remember him well from my 1965 replay. The Reds won the pennant. This is a really interesting concept for a project. And of course, Mr. Uecker had...I have to say it...a front row seat!