he 2011 Strat-O-Matic Baseball Game player cards arrived in my home 3 days ago. Time to review each player and form line-ups for each team. In doing so, I learn more about the 750 MLB players in the set. How else would I learn that all 3 KC Royal outfielders bat around .280, steal 20 bases, and hit 19 HR’s ? Or that Seattle and Minnesota fans are suffering with teams so weak they could not win a AAA pennant.
Breaking down the Strat-O-Matic annual card set should be a staple in this fan’s preparation for every new Baseball season.
Here are some nuggets of discovery:
New York Yankees
On paper, they look like the 4th or 5th best team in the AL after Texas, Detroit, Tampa & California.
-No Yankee really rocked a big B.A. in 2011. Cano topped them at just .302. Unusual for them.
-Granderson is a true star with 41 HR and 25 SB’s. Too bad he’s so happy in NYC.
-Tex is said to be in decline, which is proven by his .248 BA, and belied by his 39 hr’s. I would not bet that his best is behind him.
-Arod had just 375 AB’s. Let’s hope the downtrend continues. This career-long cheater deserves this quiet but steady decline.
-CC’s 230 K’s in 237 IP’s are S-a-w-e-e-t. Colon’s contribution seems miraculous.
-Russell Martin plays far bigger than his stats. Nick Swisher strikes out a lot.
-You have got to love Brett Gardner’s league leading 49 SB’s. He has 96 bags in the last 2 years.
-Overall: I’m not sure how this team won 97 games in 2011. They seem old.
Toronto Blue Jays
-Jose Bautista’s eye popping .447 OBP was second only to that of Miguel Cabrera’s .448. Both are rare accomplishments. Of course, more rare still is Ted Williams’ career OBP of .482.
-Brett Lawrie wins a Top Part Timer Award with .293, 9 and 25 in 150 AB’s. He’s only 22. Let him play !
-I don’t care at all for J.P. Arencibia & his 23 HR’s out of the catcher’s slot. The Dude hurts my Sox.
-Yunel Escobar is also the real deal. A solid shortstop who brings .290, 11, 48. Why can’t the Red Sox get and keep one like him ?
-How the heck did Rajai Davis steal 34 bags with a meager .273 OBP in 320 AB’s ? Did he ever get thrown out when he DID get on-base ?
-Rickey Romero could win 20, no problem. Loving the 2.92 in 225 IP’s. Go man, go.
Boston Red Sox
This team is so stacked from top to bottom, it is no wonder they played .630 ball from May 1 to August 31. Problem is there isn’t much left on the starting staff after Lester and Beckett, unless Buchholz is truly healthy and Daniel Bard can make the transition out of the Pen.
-Marco Scutaro, pretty good fielding SS, posted .299, 7, 54. Nice year. So why did the Sox let him go ? The new kid better be good.
-Ellsbury had an MVP quality year with .321, 32, 105. And 39 SB’s. Do it again, Jacoby.
-Pedroia , the gold glover, received MVP votes as he went .307, 21 and 91, with 28 SB’s. He also had a 25 game hit streak. Tell your broker to buy Pedey stock now. He’ll be even better in 2012.
-Gonzalez met all expectations with .338, 27, 117, taking a gold glove & a silver slugger.
-Ortiz defied his age with .309, 29, 96. What’s in his shake ?
-Youkilis once again couldn’t play a full season. 17 dingers and 80 RBI’s in 431 AB’s are great, but Youk hasn’t played 140 games or more since 2008.
-Carl Crawford’s .255, 11, 56 with 18 SB’s are a good value for a $1 Million annual salary. Problem is they paid him $15 Million to do it last year and he’s making $19 Million this year. Ugh.
-Jerrod Saltalamacchia logged a very respectable .235, 16, 56 in 358 AB’s. With ‘Tek leaving, count on Red Sox Nation to fall in love with this guy.
-Gee, come to think of it, ‘Tek’s .221, 11, 36 in 222 AB’s is a lot like that of Salty.
-J.D. Drew, it is all I can do to NOT remove your card from my game. And with it your .222 BA with $14 Million salary.
Tampa Bay Rays
Joe Maddon is a genius. He won 91 games and a playoff berth without one dominating offensive player or a lights out reliever. He did have 5 young starters. He had an instinct for making 25 players into a team. He had the 2nd smallest payroll in Baseball. Maddon is the best. Hats off to Stuart Sternberg and company for locking him up.
-Jeremy Hellickson, the 2011 AL Rookie of the Year, brings to the table a 2.95 in 189 IP. This guy K’d 630 batters in 580 minor league IP. What a baby !
-Kyle Farnsworth was the closer ? Really ? K-y-l-e F-a-r-n-s-w-o-r-t-h ? Stop it. Please. And get that 2.18 ERA, 25 Saves and .988 WHIP out of here. This cannot be the Farnsey I know who is 36 years old and did NOT have 25 Saves in the last 11 seasons combined. Come on ! Quit it.
-Desmond Jennings, Ben Zobrist, Johnny Damon, BJ Upton, and Sam Fuld EACH had 19 or more stolen bags. When you manage the Rays, you run aggressively. They led the A.L. in ‘11.
-Casey Kotchman, 28 years old and on his 5th MLB team in 5 years, fielded swell and batted .306, 10, 48 in 500 AB’s. Another nice pickup by Andrew Friedman. Whoops. Here comes team #6. Casey signed with Cleveland on Feb. 3.
-What on Earth is Evan Longoria doing with a .244 BA ? “That’s just not Wade Boggs.” Or Evan L..
There is more talent on this team than we think. So how did they finish with the 12th best record in a 14 team league ? It’s the Division, baby. Put them in the West or Central and they go 81 – 81.
-Nick Markakis, gold glove right fielder, registered .284, 15, 73 with 12 SB’s. The guy has averaged playing in 159.7 games for the last 5 years. Love it.
-Adam Jones had a good year with .280, 25, 83 and 12 SB’s. He K’s a lot but at age 26, he is entering his 7th season and is getting better.
-OK, who the X+?! is Mark Reynolds ? You say he worked out of Chase Field in the NL for the last 4 years? That would explain why I didn’t see his 37 HR’s coming. Are his 158 career HR’s related to his 963 career strike outs in just 5 years, would you say ?
-Vlad Guerrereo, where did the power go ? 13 HR’s in 562 AB’s.
-The O’s used 12 different starters in 2011, 9 of which have cards in the Strat-o-matic game set. Ugly. Ugly. Fugly.