Apologies for the delay but fear not, because we are BACK with the next instalment of our ‘Bat Flips does Baseball’ series, where members of the UK baseball community are transplanted into the 2020 Major League season to see if they have what it takes to thrive (or even just survive).
At the end of April, our new franchises were both hovering around the .500 mark, with the Northern Powerhouse starting to look strong out in the NL East whilst the Southern Softies struggled for consistency in the competitive AL East. After a couple more months of hard simming, let’s see where things stand for our beloved teams…
Things weren’t looking great for either team at the end of May, with both franchises languishing below .500 and staring at a significant deficit in the division hunt. A bit of a crossroads moment for both teams as they decide whether to try to kick on and get themselves back into a wildcard hunt, or to pack it in and rebuild for next season…
On the positive side, Danger McRock (@BaseballBrit) continued to rake, scooping Player of the Week honours for the second time, but it was a pair of Brits on different Major League rosters who made serious waves, as Lexander Wist (@WistLexander) grabbed the Player of the Month award in the AL and Max Manoff (@maxmanoff) made it back-to-back Rookie of the Month awards at third base for the Phillies!
In sadder news, Terry Henfleet (@AngelsandOwls) was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers (with Corbin Burnes coming back the other way) and 56-year old Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mark Smith (@Smithy0364) announced he’ll be hanging up the spikes come season end despite an eye-popping 1.97 ERA across 32 innings this season. The most humbling loss of the month was endured by the Powerhouse, who went down 18-1 at the hands of the Nationals with a pitching box score that will look familiar to anyone who has played British Baseball before…
Three position players pitching! The stuff of Cut4 dreams. On to the next month…
In June, the strangest thing started happening. The Powerhouse started to win games. And then they couldn’t stop winning games. A bullpen that had been disastrously leaky through the first two months of the season suddenly started to click. A lineup that had been struggling began to piece together two-out hits. The Powerhouse went 18-7 in June, losing just one series all month to launch themselves right back into the postseason picture.
The Softies tried to launch a postseason push of their own, going 11-6 to start the month but six straight losses to the Twins, White Sox and Orioles dragged them back down under .500 and needing a miracle to be in with a shot at October baseball. How about them Padres by the way?!
THE STANDOUT PERFORMERS
Interestingly, their red-hot month of June wasn’t fuelled by MVP candidate Danger McRock (@BaseballBrit), who had his worst month in professional baseball as he hit .190/.243/.400. Instead, the likes of Adam Nicholson (@AMN74) – 171 OPS+ in June – and Matt Mutton (@britbaseballpod) – 147 OPS+ – led the way in a whole team effort.
On the pitching side, Jamie Gregory (@Jaffav2) and Nick Owen (@nickofwigan) helped to offset an injury to ace Hugh Saunders (@hughsaunderslaw) whilst closer Barney Roney scooped nine saves with 11.1 flawless innings.
For the Softies, I continue to be obsessed with Dax Brutlebutch (@twoglassknees) and his inspiring .230/.319/.527 line. He’s second in the Majors with 29 home runs but has the fifth-worst BABIP at .216. A staggering 38% of his hits have gone over the fence.
Jo Lenton (@Pidgeos) has come back from Triple-A with a bang. Her 149 OPS+ leads the team and helped her to Player of the Month honours after an outstanding June.
ALL STAR HONOURS
A big congratulations to Jo Lenton, Tyler Constable, Max Manoff, Adam Nicholson, Danger McRock and Billy McDonald on their All-Star nominations. For some reason the game didn’t give them any fan votes – I suspect maybe this is to do with their level of national popularity which remains ‘unknown’ for all players but prefer to think of it as hideous anti-British sentiment. The American population are yet to warm to our expansion franchises…
Danger McRock and Dax Brutlebutch also earned nominations to the Home Run Derby but despite a fairytale run to the final for the former it wasn’t to be…
BEST (AND WORST) OF THE REST
For any and all players who can’t see their stats on the above rosters, you should be able to find a screenshot of your player in this folder.
Max Manoff is a prodigy like no other. The 18-year old Phillies third baseman has put up 4.3 WAR, with 19 home runs, 15 steals and more walks than strikeouts. We could be looking at the start of a GOAT-worthy career. Oh yeah, and he won Rookie of the Month AGAIN (that’s three in a row).
Elsewhere in the league, Russell Keddie (3.42 ERA across 95 innings), Lexander Wist (149 OPS+ with the Angels), Clem Fandango (1.8 WAR with the Nationals) and DJ Tait (3.05 ERA at 57 years of age) have all impressed for their respective clubs whilst Laurie Asa (205 OPS+ at MLB, 135 at AAA) clearly upset someone as he inexplicably continues to toil away in the Minors.
Paddy Johnston and his 11.25 ERA continues to stink up the joint for the Softies who appear determined to keep him on the roster, whilst Tom Pringle‘s breathtaking journey of mediocrity has now taken him to Toronto where he has caught fire with a 4.87 ERA across 20 innings. Steve Klein bounced back somewhat from his disastrous start to the season, bringing his OPS up to .629 but an injury has opened the door for Mike Tauchman to potentially steal playing time moving forward.
With 87 games played we’re now past the half way mark of the season, and as the dog days of summer start to kick in, it’ll be fascinating to see how our franchises and stars adjust under the spotlight of a playoff run. Stay tuned!