Long-time owner, first-time writer for the Super League here. Frankly, I’m very bad at evaluating players in the Super League. Just look at my all-time winning percentage! But no one else wanted to do it, so I figured I should give back to the community after… oh god, 28 seasons of sitting around and reading everyone else’s posts? Surely, by this point, some knowledge and humor has had to have rubbed off on me.
The Bellhorn in SL XXVIII was convincingly won by the Akabira Killer Mikes, owned by tatankatonk. Thanks to the World Warriors losing on the final day of the season, the Mikes were the only team to win 100 games in the SL. They managed to do this despite never shifting Trevor Hoffman out of the closer spot when he came down with a season-ending injury after only pitching 17 innings. Just more evidence for the “no lineup change” strategy endorsed by Smasher. The Mikes made the SLCS only to fall to the eternal Eazy W’s in five games. The team made no reckless changes in response to this loss during the offseason which, considering what the Eazy W’s have done to some other owners, should be applauded. They appear to still be the best team in the division with the offseason well and over. The Killer Mikes play in a stadium that boosts left-handed power significantly with the right field walls only being 300 feet away. That said, the team won most of its games through its pitching staff and defense that managed to have an ERA of 4.01 while having to play a bunch of games in and against Mexico City.
The Hague Honkbalers, led by mks5000, finished second in the division in SL XXVIII. Even though they finished 13 games below the Mikes, they were one of five teams to finish above .500 in the Super League and thus clinched a wild card spot rather easily. In the playoffs, the team made some noise by knocking out the perennial contenders Portland Panderers in the wild card game. The next round put them up against the Mikes where the Honkbalers got swept in three games. The team made no major moves in the offseason, and looks set to challenge for the wildcard or better again. They play in a relatively normal stadium for the Super League, with the only real gimmick being a short left field fence that slightly boosts the team’s mostly right-handed lineup. I gotta wonder how filled the 48,500 seats are daily, though.
At the start of SL XXVIII, the Krakow Dragons came under new management of cbx and Edward Mass after the previous owner resigned from ownership. The tag-team finished in third place last year, just four games above fourth place to keep their spot in the Super League. In the offseason, Edward Mass took full control over the team’s operations and has rebranded the team as the Winnipeg Monarchs. In a classic Edward Mass move, the team made a big trade to land a high draft pick to get prime Barry Bonds in the offseason but gave up Honus Wagner and Eddie Matthews to do so. The team mostly looks the same otherwise and hopes to finally get back to the success the old Dragons had when they had New Hoss. These guys play in a very normal stadium, except for the name. Rogers and/or Bell Stadium at GS the Q Field?
The fourth and final team is no stranger to the Mark Bellhorn. Taking the place of the Mexico City Mexicutioners (now Machine Guns) are the Khartoum Doom, owned by McFreeze. They’ve won six division titles in the Bellhorn, though none of them since SL XX. The Doom’s brief visit in the sub-par saw them effortlessly win 100 games and their division. They made the finals easily but lost to the absolutely dominant Sebastian Thunderbuckets in five games. But Slug Lyfe is back in the Super League where they belong. Who knows if they can recapture the magic of old, but they’re always a fan favorite team. That’s because they hit a billion homeruns a year in their bandbox of a stadium. It’s got super short corners and a very deep centerfield designed to boost extra basehits. Except for doubles, somehow. I don’t understand how field effects work even after reading TheMcD’s post. Let’s just get into the player rankings.
[b]Starting Pitcher #1[/b]
For SP#1, we got three deadballers and a guy with deadballer-esque stats. Hilton Smith is consistently good in the SL. Other than SLXXV, he’s averaged around 135 ERA+ and 1.175 WHIP. That’s really good! Smokey Joe Wood walks a bunch of people but he can also strike some dudes out. Also, he’s pitched really well as a Honkbaler, so I think mks has figured out how to use him. Rube Waddell walks about as many people as Wood does, but also gives up around 1-1.5 H/9 more than Wood. Waddell at least does his deadballing job of giving up few home runs. Still, I think he’s better than Dazzy Vance. I’m pretty sure this Vance is the same one that pitched for me on the Seattle Suicides way back in SL VIII. That team was partially relegated because its pitching sucked. (I’m insulting Vance)
1.) 1932 Hilton Smith KLM
2.) 1913 Smokey Joe Wood HON
3.) 1906 Rube Waddell KHA
4.) 1918 Dazzy Vance WMN
[b]Starting Pitcher #2[/b]
Martin Dihigo has felt like the true ace of the Doom forever and I don’t remember when Waddell took his spot. I think he’s the best of this bunch. Jim Creighton is a super old diamond of a deadballer that kensei unearthed a while ago and I think he’s proven himself in his limited time in the SL as a solid if unspectacular #2 starter. Steve Carlton has been around forever and still is pretty unreliable because this is baseball; I still think he’s got gonna be better than baby Waddell who can’t keep his WHIP below 1.5.
1.) Martin Dihigo KHA
2.) Jim Creighton HON
3.) Steve Carlton KLM
4.) Rube Waddell WMN
[b]Starting Pitcher #3[/b]
Three pitchers I’m familiar with and “Old” Koufax (29 years old) comprise SP3. This is a pretty close group of pitchers in terms of overall performance. In all honesty, they are all pretty good SP3s. Ricky’s been the worst of the bunch most recently which is why he is ranked last, but he could bounce back pretty easily. I think it’s because of my love for Greg Maddux that I am forced to rank him relatively low here or look biased. Both Koufax and Bender have actually been super good on their respective teams, but Koufax gives up around 2 H/9 fewer than Bender at the cost of more walks and slightly more homeruns. Either one will probably be pretty good but I’ll go with Bender because he pitched well for the Seattle Homers and he won 21 games two years ago.
1.) 1913 Chief Bender HON
2.) 1965 Sandy Koufax KLM
3.) 1992 Greg Maddux KHA
4.) 1978 Rick Reuschel WMN
[b]Starting Pitcher #4[/b]
It gets harder to rank around SP4 because everyone brings just kinda middling guys. Babe Adams has the most upside, yet his best seasons came with the Monarchs back when they were called the Dragons. The Mikes hope Hamels, as a modern-day power lefty thrower, cuts down homeruns for opponents bringing their own lefties to tee off in the Mikes’ ballpark. It works well enough, I guess. 1905 Eddie Plank doesn’t have much burn at this age, but he can be alright. I don’t think he’ll ever be the same ace that he was in SL IV ever again, though. Carl Hubbell hasn’t had much of a sample size in the SL recently, though he could be the best pitcher of the group if those small sample size numbers translate to something greater this year.
1.) 1907 Babe Adams HON
2.) 2013 Cole Hamels KLM
3.) 1905 Eddie Plank KHA
4.) 1936 Carl Hubbell WMN
[b]Starting Pitcher #5[/b]
SP5 has some big names that feel out of place at #5, and also Roy Halladay. I know the Monarchs have to at least pretend to lean into the Canadian gimmick and that’s why he’s there, and that’s fine. Pete Alexander is old in 1925 but can be ace material if he doesn’t get injured. At least, that’s what I have to hope because he is my actual ace on the Deck Chairs. Baby Walter Johnson is sometimes pretty dang good and usually not terrible which is all you can ask for out of SP5. Don Drysdale is better than Roy Halladay.
1.) 1925 Pete Alexander HON
2.) 1907 Walter Johnson KHA
3.) 1963 Don Drysdale KLM
4.) 2003 Roy Halladay WMN
The Mikes win because they have two Trevor Hoffmans and the Honkbalers come second because they have two John Smoltzs. There’s nothing I love more than clones playing together. The Monarchs take third because they have a Smoltz and a Hoffman and also Walter Johnson who should actually be in the rotation, even if he’s a million years old. The Doom don’t have a terrible bullpen but it’s not as fun and so it finishes last. Don’t try to actually rate bullpens for longer than two minutes because they are extremely volatile.
1.) 1993 Trevor Hoffman/1987 Tom Henke/1999 Trevor Hoffman/2014 Jonathan Papelbon/1979 Pedro Borbon/1988 Dennis Eckersley/1905 George Mullin KLM
2.) 1995 John Smoltz/1995 John Smoltz/1905 Al Orth/1979 Gary Lavelle/2009 Mariano Rivera/1922 Red Faber HON
3.) 2006 Trevor Hoffman/2000 Joe Nathan/2002 John Smoltz/2013 Rafael Soriano/1983 Bruce Sutter/1922 Walter Johnson WMN
4.) 2010 Joakim Soria/1982 Tom Henkey/2014 Sean Doolittle/2012 Steve Cishek/1906 Nick Altrock/1962 Juan Marichal KHA
Onto the positional players where I will very much reveal myself as someone who can’t rate players in context. I just like to look at numbers instead of thinking about fit/defense. All of these catchers are great hitters. The Josh Gibson for New Hoss trade felt really wrong at the time because the Dragons were defined by New Hoss, and it still doesn’t sit right with me. That said, he’s still the best overall catcher. Or, at least, I can’t not vote him #1, even though he’s slowly been sliding down in effectiveness and it’s quite likely one of these other Cs will outhit him. But I still can’t not put Josh Gibson #1! Bill Dickey can hit but can’t throw guys out, and, as a lefty catcher with power, fits what the Killer Mikes are doing perfectly. That’s why I think the lone Dickey beats the Dickey/Ewing combo. I also think Cochrane/Lombardi will just barely outhit the Dickey/Ewing combo, but it’s pretty marginal. Really good group of catchers.
1.) 1933 Josh Gibson WMN
2.) 1938 Bill Dickey KLM
3.) 1933 Mickey Cochrane/1938 Ernie Lombardi HON
4.) 1936 Bill Dickey/1882 Buck Ewing KHA
We’ve got a slightly underwhelming group of 1B after that great group of C. The Killer Mikes built their stadium around Stargell, and he delivers in that role. Hank Aaron at 1B is weird to see but his bat is good enough to play every day, and he fits here with the glut of outfielders. Speaking of gluts, there were four 1960 Hank Aarons in the SL in SL XXVII. Yet, I have to ask: is there any player more cloned than Jimmie Foxx? I’ll take the younger one as he’s had a slightly better track record. Hank Greenberg had limited playing time at 1B for the Dragons until last season where he OBAd .297 and hit 17 dingers. He’s alright but probably worse than both Foxxs. Foxxes? Whatever.
1.) 1965 Willie Stargell/1960 Hank Aaron KLM
2.) 1934 Jimmie Foxx HON
3.) 1942 Jimmie Foxx KHA
4.) 1934 Hank Greenberg WMN
After the New Hoss trade, I’d argue that Charlie Gehringer became the face of the Dragons because he’d been there forev—hang on, you’re telling me he got traded to the Killer Mikes? Seems like a perfect fit for their stadium which is why he’s #1. The next three groups are pretty close to even. Aesthetically, I think it is sinful that the Doom are running a pair of glove-first 2B, but I understand that they need to make up for their poor defensive core somewhere, and where better but with Joe Morgan and Jackie Robinson? I actually think Robinson Cano is solid as an everyday 2B, even though he strikes out too much. Whitaker and Molitor aren’t bad 2B either, but I don’t think either of them can produce on offense as well as the other groups, and their defense is comparable but not better.
1.) 1934 Charlie Gehringer KLM
2.) 1974 Joe Morgan/1951 Jackie Robinson KHA
3.) 2009 Robinson Cano WMN
4.) 1985 Lou Whitaker/1983 Paul Molitor
More clones here. I think the Brett/Foxx platoon takes first in the Boggs division. Neither are great fielders but they outhit their defensive struggles from what I can tell. Also, I feel bad about being the guy who took Ted Williams #2 overall after ManifunkDestiny took George Brett #1. Wade Boggs is consistently average to above-average at the dish and fields the ball fine. Both ’86 and ’94 Boggs will produce around the same amount and field equally well, but it’s harder to see ’94 Boggs finishing the season uninjured. In last comes the Jackie Robinson/Mike Schmidt platoon because Jackie Robinson is not a good fielding 3B and should not be playing there most days. Also, Mike Schmidt isn’t very good in Mogul, sadly.
1.) 1983 George Brett/1933 Jimmie Foxx HON
2.) 1986 Wade Boggs KLM
3.) 1994 Wade Boggs WMN
4.) 1951 Jackie Robinson/1974 Mike Schmidt KHA
In the battle of shortstops, as much as it pains me, I must put Ernie Banks above a copy of my own Arky Vaughan. Banks fields better than Vaughan and hits around 25 homeruns a year which I value more than Vaughan’s 175 hits a year. They’re both very good players, though. Vern Stephens has a bunch of bad to below-average hitting seasons and a few random really good years at the plate. For that reason, I put him above the heartwarming duo of Melissa Mayeux and Luke Appling. I love that Mayeux is finally getting consistent playing time. I just find it sad that the Doom aren’t allowed to combine Mayeux’s spirit and glove with Appling’s decentish bat to make a pretty good shortstop. Meluke Appleux.
1.) 1958 Ernie Banks HON
2.) 1940 Arky Vaughan KLM
3.) 1950 Vern Stephens WMN
4.) Melissa Mayeux/1939 Luke Appling KHA
Oh thank god I got to the outfield where I can stop pretending I know how to read defensive stats. It’s all about big offensive numbers here. I think the Monarchs’ big offseason splash should pay off, and Barry Bonds should be pretty good. Obviously, he’s got a huge chance of getting injured, but… come on. I rostered three Barry Bonds on a team once, of course he’s #1. Jesse Burkett is the most consistent producer out of the other three groups on this list. Yeah, it’s mostly singles when you want homeruns from this spot, but he hasn’t had many bad years recently. I’ll take the Hamilton/Riggs platoon over Frank Robinson for third. Riggs is pretty deadly playing as small spoon and Hamilton is a really fun speedy guy. Did you see that he was 8 for 50 on stolen base attempts in SL XXVI? That rules. Robinson isn’t bad, I just don’t fully trust him.
1.) 1997 Barry Bonds WMN
2.) 1895 Jesse Burkett KLM
3.) 1901 Billy Hamilton/1927 Riggs Stephenson KHA
4.) 1965 Frank Robinson
Oh, fine, I’ll care a little about defense for CF. All of these guys are really good centerfielders and all are worthy of being an everyday starter on an SL roster. Yes, even Griffey, though he’s the likeliest of the bunch to get injured or struggle at the plate, which is why he’s last. Mays is pretty consistent with his production and provides very good defense, but both Cobb and Speaker just get on base better. Neither can play that great of defense but boy can they hit. Prime Speaker is a little better than slightly-young Cobb, on the whole. But, again, all four of these guys are very good CF, and any of them could easily produce the best of this group.
1.) 1913 Tris Speaker HON
2.) 1909 Ty Cobb KLM
3.) 1957 Willie Mays KHA
4.) 1994 Ken Griffey, Jr. WMN
There are two 1918 Babe Ruths in this division. They automatically tie for first. That leaves the fight for third between prime Hank Aaron and just-past-his-prime Roberto Clemente. As much as I love Clemente the man, Hammerin’ Hank is just better. His bat and glove are just better than Clemente. Wow, that was the easiest ranking yet! Why can’t they all be this easy?
1.) 1918 Babe Ruth KLM/1918 Babe Ruth KHA
2.) 1960 Hank Aaron HON
3.) 1964 Roberto Clemente WMN
We close out the everyday position players with the DHs. Young Ted Williams will rake and, more importantly, not get injured. Lou Gehrig will also rake and not get injured… probably. Really, it’s a tossup as to who will be better between these two. I just like Williams more. Volk Hammer probably won’t be as overtuned as he was in SL XXVII ever again, but, as a custom prize player, I expect him to be above average. Just not as good as Williams/Gehrig. Finally, Harry Heilmann rounds out the group. He brings doubles power to a homerun fight, and the Mikes’ stadium doesn’t help that too much. He’s not terrible but clearly the worst of the bunch.
1.) 1942 Ted Williams
2.) 1936 Lou Gehrig
3.) Volk Hammer HON
4.) 1921 Harry Heilmann
Lastly, we’ve got the bench. On one end of the spectrum, the Monarchs used zero platoons, and, on the other, the Doom platooned literally everybody they could. I really appreciate the latter approach, speaking as someone who wants all my Fire Emblem units to be the same level. I have no real opinions on the benches otherwise.
1.) Platoon only KHA
2.) Platoon/1991 Cal Ripken Jr/1950 Joe Dimaggio HON
3.) Platoon/1956 Jackie Robinson/1959 Smoky Burgess/1902 Joe Kelley KLM
4.) 1970 Joe Torre/1924 Charlie Gehringer/1993 Chipper Jones/1924 Heinie Manush/1931 Paul Waner WMN
If you were to add up all the predictions, I think the division standings shake out:
1.) Akabira Killer Mikes
2.) Khartoum Doom
3.) The Hague Honkbalers
4.) Winnipeg Monarchs
But baseball isn’t that simple. After all, the Doom got relegated just two seasons ago despite having largely the same fierce lineup. Any one of these teams could feasibly take the division; except I don’t have much faith in the Monarchs. Their best-case scenario looks like a wildcard. Sorry Edward Mass! By leaning into a stadium gimmick, the Killer Mikes are the best suited for the current SL meta and seem poised to repeat as division champs. Slug Lyfe look like a good wildcard/division contender, but you can’t count out the Honkbalers either. In conclusion, writing previews is hard.