Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Second Biggest Change In The CFCL - Part I

Over thirty years there have been big changes in the CFCL.  We started compiling stats and preparing for the draft with paper and pencil and have moved to computerizing both.  We have had ownership changes.  Perhaps the second biggest change to the CFCL (what’s the biggest change to the CFCL?  Well you’ll just have to wait for another blog for that answer) has been the scoring category changes we made back in 2003.

For nineteen years we had kept score by using the accumulated numbers of Home Runs, RBIs, Stolen Bases and Batting Average on offense and Wins, Saves, ERA and WHiP for pitching.

Using those categories, originally, made sense for a couple of reasons.  First of all it was in the book.  If we were going to model our league after the Original Rotisserie League it only stood to reason we would use their scoring categories.  But it also made sense to use those numbers because it was our childhood.  I spent my childhood with Jack Brickhouse on WGN-TV watching the Cubs all summer long.  When a batter came to the plate Arnie Harris would show a shot of the batter in the box, in his stance looking out at the pitcher.  Just below his waist would be “Batting Avg.  .278, 12 HR, 42 RBI”.  If the batter got on base Brickhouse would tell us how many steals he already had for the year.

Those numbers were who we were (and who the player was) and we were raised on them the same way we were raised on the notion that if we went out on a cold day with wet hair we would get sick.

Pitching added a category many of us hadn’t thought about as kids.  Wins made sense, if you could win 15-20 games in a year you were good.  Low ERA was sensible as well.  The closers, while not as wildly popular until LaRussa made Eckersley “the Eck”, still had their statistic thanks to Jerome Holtzman “inventing” the Save back in 1969.

** Side note – How can something be invented and then numbers for that stat are compiled in years prior to the invention?  I never heard of BMI (Body Mass Index) prior to my adult years.  But that doesn’t mean I didn’t register on the BMI scale before I heard about it, I just wasn’t tracking the number.  It was there all along.  **

So Saves, Wins and ERA made sense.  In our game with these numbers middle relievers were worthless unless your name was Mike Remlinger.  Why was Remlinger not worthless?  He pitched for Atlanta when the starters were Maddux, Smoltz, Avery and Glavine.  You could count on those four to keep the other team in check, but if the Braves hitters didn’t unload offensively, it was possible for Remlinger to come in the game with the score tied and then have Atlanta take the lead the next inning, qualifying him for the win.  He won 27 games during his time with the Braves and had 16 saves as well.  Nice little double-threat.

But pitching didn’t have as many “obvious” categories as offense so another category had to be added.  And thus we were introduced to the basics of sabermetrics.  The Rotisserie League used WHiP, which is Walks + Hits/innings Pitched as a metric for identifying a pitcher’s effectiveness.

We used those categories, as I mentioned, for 19 years.  During that time discussion would come up about changing categories.  Now that we were established team owners and could Generally Manage a baseball team equally if not better than , say Ed Lynch, we should have more “control” over our players.  Going into the draft the pool of starting pitchers would be reduced simply because some National League teams sucked (Cubs, Pirates) and their starters wouldn’t get enough support to amass very many wins.

On the offensive side, a .290 hitter that didn’t hit a lot of homeruns, but could spilt the gap wasn’t important unless he doubled or tripled with men on base.  An argument I used was Pete Rose.  As a player he’s a Hall of Famer, yet in our league he wouldn’t be very valuable because he didn’t drive in many runs, didn’t hit homeruns and stole an average of nine bases a year.  His .303 average would be absorbed by the rest of the offense, so he really wouldn’t be that sought after.

And thus the conversation began.  But how to identify which categories to add?  We’ll discuss that tomorrow.

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