After qualifying for the playoffs in 2014-15, an injury to young outfielder A.J. Pollock at the end of spring training derailed Home Run 101 in 2016.
Pollock was the team MVP in 2015, finishing with a fantastic stat line (673 PA, 111 Runs, 76 RBI, .866 OPS, 32 NSB, 89 Ks) and ending the season as the league’s sixth-rated player and top outfielder. Because of the injury, Pollock managed just 46 plate appearances last season.
If Pollock stays healthy, this team can return to the playoffs. Johnny Cueto is the staff ace while second baseman Jose Altuve and slugging first baseman Jose Abreu are keeper-worthy players. In addition, corner infielder Justin Turner finished 2016 ranked 62nd overall.
With Pollock healthy, Home Run 101 is again capable of competing with the league’s top teams and challenging Bacon at Mile 11 for the North Division pennant.
The Homerun Newbies opened the season with just one series win in the first 11 weeks. Things didn’t get much better in the second half, as they lost seven of their last eight. The Newbies earned the league’s first Wooden Spoon for finishing last with a 103-155-18 record. They ended the season 45 games behind the North Division pennant winners, Bacon at Mile 11.
General Manager Bailey Penzotti drafted Pablo Sandoval, Ichiro Suzuki, Brian Wilson, Yadier Molina and Bengie Molina with the team’s first five picks. The Newbies drafted Madison Bumgarner in the 15th round but released him on April 5 for veteran hurler Zach Duke.
Penzotti added 17 free agents to her roster in that first season and made two trades. On May 30, she sent J.D. Drew and Brian Duensing to Matt Patchell and the Muckrakers in exchange for Aubrey Huff, Chone Figgins and Miguel Tejada.
Overweight and unproductive, Sandoval hurt the team. By June, he was hitting eighth for the Giants and finished with just 13 home runs. Journeyman Huff (.385 OBP, 100 Runs, 26 HR, 86 RBI, 7 SB, 91 Ks) had a career year for the Newbies. He ranked 22nd in the final player rankings and earned team MVP honors. Max Scherzer (195.2 IP, 18 QS, 184 Ks, 3.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) was the team’s top starting pitcher but ranked just 157th overall. Brian Wilson (74.2 IP, 48 Saves, 93 Ks, 1.81 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) was the team’s closer and ranked 41st in the player rankings.
The team was renamed Home Run 101 and Penzotti doubled-down on the Giants in 2011, protecting Huff, Wilson and Romo in the Keeper Draft along with Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez. Penzotti allowed the team’s top starting pitcher from 2010, Scherzer, to walk and drafted Josh Johnson, Colby Lewis, and Brett Myers to lead the staff.
Johnson started strong but pitched just 60.1 innings before he was shutdown with shoulder inflammation. Lewis, Myers and Carl Pavano all had ERAs in excess of 4.00. Penzotti made 14 player transactions during the season, adding outfielders Austin Jackson, Raul Ibanez and Charlie Blackmon, but she couldn’t find a solution for the starting rotation.
In the end, the lack of pitching led to a 115-142-19 record and 14th in the overall standings. The team finished last in the North Division, 19.5 games behind the pennant winning Bulls. Like 2010, the team collapsed down the stretch, winning just two series in the final two months of the season.
Koji Uehara (65 IP, 22 Holds, 85 Ks, 2.35 ERA, 0.72 WHIP) was the team’s best relief pitcher, ranking 61st in the final league player rankings. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez (.361 OBP, 80 Runs, 26 HR, 93 RBI, 1 SB, 69 Ks) earned team MVP honors. Ramirez was the league’s 53rd ranked player. Josh Collmenter (154.1 IP, 15 QS, 100 Ks, 3.38 ERA, 1.07 WHIP) led the starters and ranked 148th in the league.
Penzotti improved the team in 2012 and moved out of the North Division cellar for the first time. Unlike the previous two seasons when the team struggled late, Home Run 101 lost just one series over the final six weeks to finish 120-138-18. They were third in the North Division, 16 games behind the Bulls, who won their second straight pennant.
Penzotti protected infielder Howie Kendrick, Ramirez, Johnson, Wilson and Romo then drafted three outfielders with her first three picks in the Regular Season Draft, Brett Gardner, Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. Penzotti added 17 free agents during the season including young first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Ramirez (.360 OBP, 92 Runs, 27 HR, 105 RBI, 9 SB, 82 Ks) repeated as team MVP and ranked 20th in the league. Romo was the team’s most valuable pitcher. Romo (55.1 IP, 37 Saves/Holds, 63 Ks, 1.79 ERA, 0.85 WHIP) ranked 37th in the player rankings while Cueto (217 IP, 23 QS, 170 Ks, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) was the top-rated starter, finishing 47th in the player rankings.
Penzotti protected shortstop Ian Desmond, Ramirez, Cueto, Rizzo and Romo in the Keeper Draft. She then added outfielders with her first five picks in the Regular Season Draft. They included Werth, Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan, Dayan Viciedo and Starling Marte.
Penzotti added 23 free agents during the season including third baseman Nolan Arenado, and a host of starting pitchers including Erik Bedard, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kevin Correia, Felix Doubront, and Roberto Hernandez. Starting pitching was again a big issue for Home Run 101, as Wade Miley was the only starter to exceed 200 innings pitched and earn 20+ quality starts. Cueto suffered a variety of injuries and made just 11 starts.
Home Run 101 won their first two series before a horrific losing streak doomed the season. They didn’t win another series for 14 weeks and finished last in the North Division at 115-162-22, 36.5 games behind pennant winning Bacon at Mile 11.
Werth (.398 OBP, 84 Runs, 25 HR, 82 RBI, 9 NSB, 9 GIDP, 101 Ks) earned team MVP honors and finished the season ranked 27th in the league player rankings. The fact that Miley (202.2 IP, 22 QS, 6.53 K/9, 3.55 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) was the team’s top-ranked starting pitcher but finished the season ranked 1,013th in the player rankings explains the issue with the starting staff. Romo (60.1 IP, 33 NSVH, 8.65 K/9, 2.54 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) was again the team’s top reliever.
This is the season Penzotti and Home Run 101 established they could be a contender and it started with Cueto on the mound. Cueto (243.2 IP, 29 QS, 8.94 K/9, 2.25 ERA, 0.96 WHIP) was healthy and finished the season as the league’s third-ranked player behind Clayton Kershaw and Felix Hernandez. He earned team MVP honors and, more importantly, gave Home Run 101 a bonafide ace.
Heading into the season, Penzotti protected Desmond, Werth, Pagan, Romo, and Cueto. She then chose Jose Abreau, Jose Altuve, and Danny Salazar with her first three picks in the Regular Season Draft. That core led Home Run 101 to a 154-121-11 record and the team’s first playoff berth. During an eight week stretch from Week 7-14, Home Run 101 won seven series. They ended the season by winning five straight. They lost a close quarterfinal playoff series to Twinkle Toes and then lost the consolation semifinal to the Lower Haighters. They rallied to claim seventh place with a victory over the JetSetters.
Penzotti added 12 free agents during the season but the team largely stayed healthy and productive. Altuve (.377 OBP, 85 Runs, 7 HR, 59 RBI, 47 NSB, 20 GIDP, 53 Ks) ended the season as the league’s top-ranked second baseman and ranked 14th overall. Abreu finished with 37 homers while Darren O’Day (68.2 IP, 25 NSVH, 9.57 K/9, 1.70 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) led a powerful bullpen.
The momentum continued in 2015 as Home Run 101 finished 138-113-13. They were second in the North Division, 15.5 games behind Bacon at Mile 11, but more importantly, they qualified for the playoffs for the second year in a row. A strong stretch run that saw Home Run 101 win five of their last seven series secured the postseason berth.
Penzotti finally had some young talent to build around. She protected Abreu, Altuve, Desmond, outfielder Kole Calhoun and Cueto. In the Regular Season Draft she landed outfielder Pollock in the 12th Round. That was a franchise-turning selection, as Pollock earned team MVP honors. Pollock (673 PA, 111 Runs, 76 RBI, .866 OPS, 32 NSB, 89 Ks) ended 2015 ranked sixth overall and was the league’s highest rated outfielder.
Pollock and the improved lineup didn’t bring playoff success. Home Run 101 was steamrolled in the quarterfinals by the Lower Haighters. They rallied to defeat Twinkle Toes in the consolation semifinals before losing to Warning Track Power in the fifth place game.
Cueto (212 IP, 19 QS, 7.47 K/9, 3.44 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) was the team’s top starter but he wasn’t nearly as effective as he had been in 2014. Cueto ranked 208th in the league’s final player rankings. O’Day (65.1 IP, 19 NSVH, 11.30 K/9, 1.52 ERA, 0.93 WHIP) again led the bullpen.
Without Pollock in the lineup, Home Run 101 struggled to start 2016. They lost four of their first six series and had just two series wins over the first 13 weeks of the season. Over the first month, the team went 11-35-2.
The final record of 98-151-15 was the worst in franchise history and third worst in league history.
Altuve (717 PA, 108 Runs, 96 RBI, .927 OPS, 20 NSB, 70 Ks) led the team in plate appearances, runs, OPS and net stolen bases. He finished 2016 as the league’s fifth-rated player and the team MVP.
Cueto is the team’s most consistent player. He was the team’s MVP in 2014 and bounced back from a difficult 2015 season by finishing 2016 as the league’s 31st-ranked player. Cueto (219.2 IP, 22 QS, 8.11 K/9, 2.79 ERA, 1.09 WHIP), led the team in innings pitched, quality starts and ERA.