The Mirrors Find Defending a Championship Can Be Crippling

Alex_Rodriguez_Talking

Alex Rodriguez was the Mirrors first draft pick

The Mirrors entered 2016 as league champion. They left battered and bruised.

The Mirrors started 2016 as one of the hottest teams in the league, winning eight of their first 10 series. But when the injury bug bit, it bit hard. First baseman Prince Fielder missed most of the season with a neck injury and was forced to retire at the end of the season. Starting pitcher Garrett Richards succumbed to an arm injury in May and didn’t pitch again. Outfielder Carlos Gomez wasn’t hurt, but he slumped for most of 2016, hurting any chance the Mirrors had of repeating their championship.

While the hot start had the Mirrors and General Manager Sean McKenna thinking repeat, the injuries and underperforming players  led to the Mirrors winning just one of their final 12 series. They finished 116-140-8, the worst mark in franchise history.

The Mirrors have enough talent to make a run at this year’s championship. Justin Verlander rebounded to finish as a Top 15 player while reliever Addison Reed was a Top 50 player. The Mirrors had 10 players ranked in the Top 100, including Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo, and Bryce Harper.

2010 SEASON

Rodriguez, Ben Zobrist, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Kubel and Hamels were the first five players chosen by the Mirrors in the league’s inaugural draft. Jimenez (221.2 IP, 25 QS, 214 Ks, 2.88 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) earned team MVP honors and ranked 26th in the season-ending league player rankings. Daniel Bard (74.2 IP, 3 Saves, 32 Holds, 76 Ks, 1.93 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) emerged as the closer and ranked 40th. Rodriguez (.341 OBP, 74 Runs, 30 HR, 125 RBI, 4 SB, 98 Ks) ended the season ranked 50th and was the team’s highest ranked offensive player.

The Mirrors finished 133-127-16. It was good enough for second in the East-West Challenge Division but it was 18 games behind the Lower Haighters. During the 23-week regular season, the team never had a winning or losing streak longer than two weeks. In the postseason, the Mirrors lost to the Jersey Boys in the consolation semifinals before beating the Vicious Fishes to finish seventh.

General Manager McKenna made several excellent free agent acquisitions in April, adding outfielders Carlos Gomez and Brett Gardner.

2011 SEASON

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Jimenez, Rodriguez, Gardner, Hamels and Bard were protected by McKenna in the 2011 keeper draft but it was veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia who emerged as the team MVP. Pedroia (.387 OBP, 102 Runs, 21 HR, 91 RBI, 26 SB, 85 Ks) was the first player chosen by the Mirrors in the regular season draft. He finished the season as the league’s 15th ranked player.

Pedroia paced the Mirrors to a 131-124-21 regular season record but they finished a whopping 34.5 games behind the Lower Haighters in the West Division. The entered the playoffs with the fifth best regular season record but were upset by the Jersey Boys in the consolation semifinals. In the final week, they lost to High Cheese in the seventh place game and finished a disappointing eighth.

Hamels (216 IP, 24 QS, 194 Ks, 2.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP) was the team MVP and finished 18th in the league’s final player rankings. Hamels finished seventh among the league’s starting pitchers. Kimbrel was the team’s closer, finishing with 46 saves. Rodriguez struggled in 2011. At one point, he went 85 at-bats without hitting home run, the longest stretch in his career. He missed time with knee and thumb injuries and finished with just 373 at-bats.

The Mirrors added Stephen Strasburg as a free agent in April and Melky Cabrera and Jake Arrieta in May. Strasburg pitched just 24 innings and recorded two quality starts but flashed his potential by averaging a strikeout per inning.

2012 SEASON

Cole  Hamels

Cole Hamels has been the most consistent player for the Mirrors

Pedroia, catcher J.P. Arencibia, Hamels, Kimbrel and Strasburg were protected in the 2012 keeper draft while Rodriguez stayed on the roster when he was chosen with the team’s first pick in the regular season draft.

The Mirrors finished 134-123-19, six games behind the Lower Haighters in the West Division pennant race. They had the league’s sixth best record in the regular season despite losing their first three series to open the season. The team entered the playoffs without Strasburg. His innings were limited as he recovered from elbow surgery and his last start was Sept. 8. The Mirrors lost to the Machine in the consolation semifinal but rebounded to defeat the Cys in the seventh place game.

Kimbrel (62.2 IP, 42 Saves, 116 Ks 1.01 ERA, 0.65 WHIP) earned team MVP honors and finished as the league’s top-rated reliever. Hamels (215.1 IP, 23 QS, 216 Ks, 3.05 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) was the top starting pitcher for the Mirrors and finished ranked 31st in the final player rankings. The problem for the Mirrors was a lack of offense. They didn’t have a hitter finish the season ranked in the Top 50. Pedroia (.347 OBP, 81 Runs, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 20 SB, 60 Ks) was again the top hitter for the Mirrors.

2013 SEASON

Strasburg, Hamels, Kimbrel, reliever Rafael Soriano, and Harper were protected in the 2013 keeper draft but it was a new power hitter that helped the Mirrors earn their best regular season record in team history.

First baseman Chris Davis was the team’s MVP. Davis (.370 OBP, 103 Runs, 53 HR, 138 RBI, 3 NSB, 4 GIDP, 199 Ks) was drafted in the 11th round and led the majors in home runs and RBI. He finished 2013 as the 10th ranked player in the league.

Despite Davis’ presence at the plate, the Mirrors again finished second to the Lower Haighters in the West Division pennant race. Their 159-129-11 record was second best in the league but it still left them 10 games behind their rivals. The team finished the regular season strong, winning nine of their final 11 series. They rolled through the consolation playoff bracket, defeating HUMA in the semifinals and High Cheese in the fifth place game.

Kimbrel (67 IP, 46 NSVH, 13.16 K/9, 1.21 ERA, 0.88 WHIP) was the league’s 11th ranked player and was the third highest ranked closer. Strasburg (183 IP, 18 QS, 9.39 K/9, 3.00 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) finished as the 29th rated player and the team’s highest rated starter.

Rodriguez was drafted by the Mirrors with their final pick in the 2013 regular season draft but was released on June 7. He played just 44 games in 2013 and was later suspended for the entire 2014 season due to his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

2014 SEASON

For the first time in four years, the Mirrors entered a season without Rodriguez on their roster as he served his suspension. The team did, however, have a better chance of winning a league championship. The playoff field was expanded from four to eight giving teams that didn’t win their division a chance at a title. The Mirrors were the primary beneficiary.

Kimbrel, Strasburg, Hamels, Harper and Davis were protected in the keeper draft. Kimbrel (61.2 IP, 43 NSVH, 13.85 K/9, 1.61 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) delivered another MVP performance, finishing as the league’s 15th ranked player and the third highest rated reliever. Hamels (204.2 IP, 25 QS, 8.71 K/9, 2.46 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) edged Strasburg as the team’s highest rated starting pitcher. Hamels finished ranked 23rd while Strasburg was 24th.

The Mirrors ended 2014 with a 134-132-20 record and finished 22.5 games behind the Lower Haighters. They finished with the eighth best record in the league and secured the final playoff spot in the expanded postseason format. They pulled a shocking quarterfinal upset of Bacon at Mile 11, the league’s top-ranked team. The Mirrors then lost the semifinals to High Cheese and the third place game to Give it a Yankee. Their fourth place finish was the team’s best in league history.

2015 SEASON

9TH_Bryce_Harper

Bryce Harper is the new star for the Mirrors

Harper, Strasburg, Hamels, Kimbrel, and Masahiro Tanaka were protected in the keeper draft but it was a June 13 trade with High Cheese that turned the team into a title contender. The Mirrors landed young superstar Manny Machado for journeyman starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen. Machado ended 2014 as the league’s 16th ranked player while Chen finished 222nd.

Machado’s arrival sparked the Mirrors. In the two months after landing the young third baseman, the Mirrors lost just one series. They finished 151-107-6 and won their first West Division title by 2.5 games over the Lower Haighters. They had the league’s second best regular season record behind Bacon at Mile 11.

Harper (654 PA, 1.109 OPS, 118 Runs, 99 RBI, 2 NSB, 131 Ks) was the team MVP, finishing 10th in the league’s player rankings. Kimbrel (59.1 IP, 35 NSVH, 13.20 K/9, 2.58 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) again led the bullpen while Hamels (212.1 IP, 21 QS, 9.11 K/9, 3.65 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) finished as the team’s highest ranked starter at 100.

2016 SEASON

 

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