An ATB Faithful sent this to me yesterday:
Can you give us another word about defense as you go through the rest of the teams, as a postscript on the analysis you conducted over last fall? I wasn't alone in picking my team with a renewed defensive focus. I got thrown off by some of the early draft picks and went too extreme, as it appears - didn't find the right balance.I can't add analysis to the rest of the 20 Resim articles - most have already been written - but I figured the least I can do is summarize the situation and offer up some theories, if not to conclusions.
Taking us back to end of last season, I wrote the following when unveiling the Gossamers as the best team in ATB XIII, and ultimately, in our league history:
Has the face of ATB changed forever? This, and not just naming the best team, is the most pertinent question we can ask ourselves in reviewing our 20-resims. With one of the best pitching staffs we’ve ever seen, and 180 more wins than any other team in the 20-resims, it’s clear the Gossamers were the best team in ATB this year. But what is the long term impact on draft strategy and team composition?There were many other articles about the Gossamers during the regular season, most focused on their incredible defense. Long ago the league realized that defense was a critical aspect of winning a DMB league, but no owner had focused on total defensive excellence until the Gossamers came along, and they ran away with the league.
First, a few words the ATB XIII Gossamers. We know from the regular season Gold Country focuses on great pitching and even better defense. Perhaps just as important was there platoon strategy. With early draft picks mostly going towards pitching, Justin had to mix and match with his offense and the result was unofficial ATB record of six (!) platoons. Only Eddie Collins (.381 OBP), Pop Lloyd (.354 OPB), and Richie Ashburn (.363) were full time players.
This year, many of us changed our focuses to defense as well, and the results were no where near as impressive. Why?
Argument 1 - Defense Matters, but Rey Ordonez is still a bad player
I personally feel this is the key. Many draft picks the season were reaches for good defensive players. My Carnies s squad went with Ozzie Smith in round 6 and was stuck with a .570 OPS. In the final ATB Value Scores Smith ended up as the 13th ranked full time shortstop in the league, and several platoons were better still - perhaps the Carnies had the 16th or 17th best shortstop results. Hardly what I was looking for in a 6th rounder.
The Helena Handbaskets ended the season playing Ex/63 defender Rabbit Maranville most of the time, his OPS was .489. At least a dozen owners fell into this same trap and paid for it all season long.
Argument 2 - More Owners means less great defenders to spread around
A year ago the Gossamers were one of handful of teams to focus on defense. And this in a league of 18 teams. This season I counted twelve teams with what I would consider very good defense, and since there were six additional teams in the league as well, any remaining great defenders were spread out across all 24 squads.
I won't pretend to know the mind of Justin B, but last year he took perfect advantage of a Moneyball situation. Defense is a key aspect of winning, and with few teams recognizing it, the Gossamers obtained great defenders who could also hit.
A team can be very good with great defense. It can also be very good by getting on base often. The Gossamers did both, but the rest of us failed to appreciate it wasn't all defense.
Argument 3 - The 79 Resims Fouled up Everything
They sure did. Never has a draft been so difficult to wade through and I received dozens of emails, and the draft board comments were alight with similar comments, all pronouncing their 'guy' was taken. Before the 79 Resims (and 100 Resims) only a handful of owners appreciated the way DMB chose favorites. I have said it before, but it's such a great example I'll say it again, my ATB XIV Manetheren Red Eagle team had John McGraw, Ted Williams, Tip O'Neill, Norm Cash, Bill Dickey, and Hughie Jennings on offense. The rotation consisted of Cy Blanton, Jesse Tannehill, and Bill Bernhard. Oh, and the pen featured Dennis Eckersley, JJ Putz, Jim Poole, and Steve Reed.
We were all getting smarter anyway, but the resims generally leveled the playing field, ensuring a handful of teams would never stockpile the best players again.
Where does that leave us?
Wonderfully, it leaves us realizing that common sense prevails. The best major league teams combine first rate lineups with first rate pitching staffs with first rate defenders. DMB is no different - focusing on any single aspect of the game is no longer enough to make a team great.