The bad news for Let’s Play 2 was the team’s 2016 record, a miserable 91-161-12 mark that earned the team its second Wooden Spoon in the last four seasons. It was the second fewest runs recorded by a team in league history.
The good news is the roster is loaded with youthful talent. The question is, can that young talent coalesce in 2017 and deliver just the second winning season in the team’s eight-year history?
General Manager Louie Bottaro has Mookie Betts, Kris Bryant, Corey Seager, Jose Ramirez, Corey Kluber and Jose Quintana to anchor the team. The 2016 draft wasn’t kind to Let’s Play 2 as pitcher Taijuan Walker and outfielder Yasiel Puig both struggled after they were chosen with two of the team’s first six picks. Walker was chosen with the 54th pick of the drafted and ended the season ranked 504th. Puig was drafted 86th and finished 635th.
If Let’s Play 2 is going to contend in 2017, Bottaro has to surround his young talent with productive players.
This franchise began as GiantsWin2010 under the direction of General Manager Carla Baughman. First baseman Teixeira, Sabathia, Matt Wieters, Elvis Andrus and Chone Figgins were the team’s first five draft choices. Baughman proved to be an aggressive GM, adding 25 players through free agency and swinging three trades during the season.
Her first trade came on May 22 as she acquired Rajai Davis and Trevor Hoffman from the Lower Haighters in exchange for Jay Bruce. A week later, she sent Davis to the Muckrakers for Hideki Matsui. Finally, on July 5, Baughman made a second deal with the Muckrakers acquiring Madison Bumgarner for Corey Hart. Baughman would regret not keeping Bumgarner in 2011.
Teixeira was the team’s MVP. Teixeira (.365 OBP, 113 Runs, 33 HR, 108 RBI, 0 SB, 122 Ks) finished as the 14th rated player in the league. Hudson (228.2 IP, 25 QS, 139 Ks, 2.83 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) was the team’s ace and turned in a Top 50 season, ranking 47th overall. The bullpen was the team’s weakness. Rafael Betancourt (62.1 IP, 24 Holds/Saves, 89 Ks, 3.61 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) and Jose Valverde were the only relievers to reach double-digits in saves/holds.
GiantsWin2010 finished their first season 122-134-20, 28 games behind Las Bolas Buenas in the Giants-Dodgers Slugfest Division.
Baughman renamed the team The Cys and built around Hudson, Sabathia, Teixeira, Jonathan Sanchez and Andrus. Sanchez was coming off a solid 2010 campaign that saw him throw 193.1 innings with a 3.07 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. Baughman remained a busy GM, adding 31 free agents during the season while making another trade with the Lower Haighters, acquiring reliever Carlos Marmol for Jair Jurrjens.
The Cys opened the season with just one series win in the first seven weeks and ended it with three straight losses. Not surprisingly, they finished last in the South Division with a 131-133-12 record.
Teixeira (.341 OBP, 90 Runs, 39 HR, 111 RBI, 4 SB, 110 Ks) was again the team MVP while CJ Wilson (223.1 IP, 23 QS, 206 Ks, 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) was the top starting pitcher. Antonio Bastardo (58 IP, 25 Saves/Holds, 70 Ks, 2.64 ERA, 0.93 WHIP) emerged as the team closer.
The Cys opened the season by winning eight of their first 12 series. They finished with a 141-122-13 record, their first winning season, and a playoff berth. The Cys struggled in the postseason, losing the consolation semifinal to the Jersey Boys and losing the seventh place game to the Mirrors.
Wilson, Sabathia, and Andrus again formed the nucleus of the team but Baughman parted ways with the club’s two-time MVP, Teixeira. Instead, she protected young first baseman Brandon Belt and catcher Carlos Santana. Scully’s Slammers made Teixeira the first pick in the Regular Season Draft but he struggled to stay healthy in 2012.
On May 30, Baughman made a blockbuster deal, sending her ace, Sabathia, to the Lower Haighters for slugger Adam Dunn. In addition, the Cys claimed 24 free agents during the season.
A big reason for the team’s success was the bullpen. Aroldis Chapman and Fernando Rodney combined for 92 saves/holds. Rodney (74.2 IP, 48 Saves, 76 Ks, 0.60 ERA, 0.78 WHIP) finished the season ranked eighth and was the top-rated reliever in the league. He earned MVP honors for the Cys.
The team’s weakness was starting pitching. AJ Burnett (202.1 IP, 20 QS, 180 Ks, 3.51 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) was the team’s highest-ranked starter at 186th. At the plate, Dunn hit 41 homers and drove in 96 runs but struck out 222 times.
One year after Baughman led the Cys to their first playoff berth, the team suffered through its worst season in franchise history. They finished 113-163-23 and 48 games behind the South Division pennant winners, Los Coches Bomba.
Baughman protected Belt, shortstop Starlin Castro, Santana, Chapman and starting pitcher Yu Darvish. Baughman was again busy in free agency, adding 18 players to the roster during the season. She also made three trades. On April 2, she traded reliever Chris Perez to the Eephus Monkeys for starting pitcher Tommy Hanson. On May 12, She traded reliever Joaquin Benoit to the Lower Haighters for utility infielder Martin Prado and on June 24 she sent second baseman Rickie Weeks to High Cheese for Josh Rutledge. By the end of August, Baughman had released Rutledge to make room for corner infielder Todd Frazier.
While the team struggled, Darvish (209.2 IP, 21 QS, 11.89 K/9, 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) was sensational. He finished the season ranked fourth overall and second in the Fantasy Cy Young race behind Clayton Kershaw. Belt (.360 OBP, 76 Runs, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 3 NSB, 4 GIDP, 125 Ks) was the team’s best hitter while Chapman and Glen Perkins anchored the bullpen.
This would be Baughman’s last season at the helm of the Cys. She protected Darvish, Chapman, Belt, Santana and first baseman Allen Craig in the Keeper Draft. In the Regular Season Draft she added young talent including Matt Harvey, Castro, Carlos Gomez and Billy Hamilton.
Baughman found her frequent trading partner, Matt Patchell and High Cheese, before the season’s first pitch was thrown. She sent relievers Jim Henderson and Huston Street to High Cheese for starter Corey Kluber. On May 1, Baughman made her last trade with the Cys, sending shortstop Jimmy Rollins to David Kahn and the JetSetters for starting pitcher Dillon Gee.
The Kluber deal was brilliant. Kluber (235.2 IP, 26 QS, 10.27 K/9, 2.44 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) finished 2014 ranked fourth overall and earned team MVP honors. Chapman ranked 17th and led the team with 34 net saves/holds. Gomez (.356 OBP, 95 Runs, 23 HR, 73 RBI, 22 NSB, 10 GIDP, 141 Ks) led the Cys at the plate and ranked 34th.
The second half of the season was difficult, as the Cys won just three of their last 11 series. They finished Baughman’s final season with a 118-155-13 record, 41 games behind the South Division pennant winners, High Cheese.
Lifelong Cubs fan Louie Bottaro became general manager and renamed the team Let’s Play 2. Bottaro protected Gomez, Hamilton, Castro, Darvish and Kluber in the Keeper Draft. He then added Betts, Bryant and veteran third baseman Evan Longoria in the Regular Season Draft.
Bottaro’s management style differed significantly from Baughman’s. He didn’t make any trades and added just 10 free agents during the season.
The results were similar, as Let’s Play 2 failed to make the playoffs and finished the season 120-135-9, 20.5 games behind the South Division pennant winners, the JetSetters.
Betts (654 PA, .820 OPS, 92 Runs, 77 RBI, 15 NSB, 82 Ks) earned team MVP honors. He ended the season ranked 27th overall and third among the league’s second basemen. Kluber (222 IP, 19 QS, 9.93 K/9, 3.49 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) was the staff ace while Shawn Tolleson led the team with 39 net saves/holds.
Betts was better than team MVP for Let’s Play 2 in 2016, he was the league MVP. Betts (730 PA, .897 OPS, 122 Runs, 113 RBI, 22 NSB, 80 Ks). Unfortunately, Betts couldn’t carry the team and Let’s Play 2 posted just two series wins in the first three months of the season. Betts did lead the team in plate appearances, runs scored, RBIs, and net stolen bases.
Bryant (699 PA, .939 OPS, 121 Runs, 102 RBI, 3 NSB, 154 Ks) led the team in OPS and finished one RBI shy of Betts for the team lead. He finished 2016 as the league’s 15th-ranked player.
Kluber (215.0, 22 QS, 9.5 K/9, 3.14 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) led the team in innings pitched and finished second behind Quintana in quality starts. He finished 19th in the league’s player rankings in 2016.
While Let’s Play 2 made just 10 free agent acquisitions in 2015, GM Bottaro was even more frugal in 2016. The team made just three transactions on the season and none after May 23.