If only outfielder Hunter Pence could stay healthy. The Bulls finished 1.5 games behind the Menehunes for the league’s final playoff spot in 2016 and Pence could have made a difference.
Pence tore a hamstring last season which required surgery and limited the star outfielder to 442 plate appearances. This came on the heels of his injury-riddled 2015 season that saw a wild pitch fracture his forearm and, when he returned, an oblique injury knocked him out again.
Despite losing Pence, General Manager Carolyn Greene steered the Bulls to a 127-124-13 record. That’s a major improvement from 2015, when the team lost Pence and finished a franchise worst 81-169-14.
Greene guided Bull Durham to a 113-145-18 record in 2010. The team finished 35 games behind the 101st Division winners, Bacon at Mile 11. It was Greene’s first exposure to fantasy baseball and she learned some lessons.
She drafted Matt Kemp, Roy Halladay, Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Hill, and Russell Martin with her first five picks in the league’s initial draft. Greene added 25 free agents to her team during the season including Alex Gordon, Daniel Hudson, J.J. Putz, Hunter Pence, and Jason Vargas.
Rollins played in just 88 games due to injury, the lowest number of games in his career at that time. A strained calf left him on the DL twice. Hill hit the 15-day DL almost immediately and he played in just 138 games.
Pence was an iron man, logging the most at-bats for Bull Durham. Pence (.325 OBP, 93 Runs, 25 HR, 91 RBI, 18 SB, 105 Ks) finished as the top-rated hitter for Bull Durham. The lanky outfielder ranked 65th overall in the league’s final player rankings. Halladay (250.2 IP, 25 QS, 219 Ks, 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) was the team MVP. He was the league’s 7th-rated player and second-rated pitcher in 2010. Reliever Neftali Feliz finished in the league’s Top 50 players and led Bull Durham with 43 Saves/Holds.
Despite a difficult 2010 campaign, Greene quickly learned the lessons of fantasy baseball. She wisely protected Halladay, Kemp, her prized free agent acquisition Pence, Feliz and Adam Lind. She then drafted Carlos Gonzalez with the first pick in the Regular Season Draft. The team was renamed the Bulls and they were off and running.
They lost just one series over the season’s first six weeks and grabbed the division lead. Despite losing six of their final nine, Greene’s team finished with a 132-120-24 record and won the North Division by 10 games over Bacon at Mile 11. They lost the championship semifinal series against HUMA but bounced back to beat the Machine in the third place game.
Greene was an active GM, adding 29 free agents to her pennant winning team during the season. Her acquisitions included relievers Glen Perkins, Kenley Jansen, and Jayson Werth. She also sent third baseman Casey McGehee to High Cheese in exchange for pitcher Jhoulys Chacin.
Kemp (.399 OBP, 115 Runs, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB, 159 Ks) was the team’s most valuable player. He finished as the league’s top outfielder and second-rated player overall. Halladay (233.2 IP, 25 QS, 220 Ks, 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) ranked 11th overall and was the league’s fifth-rated starting pitcher. Brandon League and Feliz combined to save 69 games.
Greene proved 2011 was no fluke when she guided the Bulls back to the playoffs in 2012. They started fast again, losing just one series over the first two months of the season. The Bulls also finished strong, winning seven of their last 11. Their final record was 134-120-22 and they finished 7.5 games ahead of Give it a Yankee in the North Division.
While Greene found regular season success, postseason wins remained elusive. For the second straight year, the Bulls lost their championship semifinal series. This time, it was a hard-fought, close loss to the eventual champions, Los Coches Bomba. The Bulls also lost the third place series to the Lower Haighters, finishing fourth.
Greene orchestrated one of the season’s biggest trades in 2012, sending star outfielder Gonzalez to Bacon at Mile 11 for Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, and J.J. Putz. She also added 29 free agents over the season.
Greene protected Kemp, Gonzalez, Pence, Halladay and Norris entering the season and drafted Chris Carpenter with her first pick in the Regular Season Draft. Kemp missed about two months with a hamstring injury. Uggla hit below .220 through 92 games and struck out at a high rate.
Outfielder Melky Cabrera (.390 OBP, 84 Runs, 11 HR, 60 RBI, 13 SB, 63 Ks) provided the offense, ranking 61st overall in the final player rankings. He earned team MVP honors. Halladay struggled with a shoulder injury in 2012 so Chris Tillman emerged as the team’s ace. Tillman (86 IP, 9 QS, 66 Ks, 2.93 ERA, 1.05 WHIP) started the year in the minors but had a strong second half. Relievers J.J. Putz and Joaquin Benoit combined for 64 Saves/Holds.
Coming off two consecutive pennants, the Bulls entered 2013 as the North Division favorites. Greene protected Kemp, Pence, Moore, Putz, and Ike Davis in the Keeper Draft then added Greinke, Holliday, Carlos Gomez, David Freese, and Halladay in the Regular Season Draft.
The Bulls couldn’t find consistency in the regular season. A three series winning streak from Weeks 17-19 was the team’s longest of the season and they failed to win a series in the final month. They finished a disappointing 134-144-21, 18 games behind the North Division champs, Bacon at Mile 11.
Greene added 24 free agents during the season but it was a six-player trade with Bacon at Mile 11 on July 24 that had the league talking. Greene sent Gomez, Ricky Nolasco and Matt Moore to Bacon for Gonzalez, Hector Santiago and Nathan Eovaldi. The Bulls needed starting pitching as Halladay underwent shoulder surgery in May and would retire from baseball at the end of the season.
Gonzalez (.367 OBP, 72 Runs, 26 HR, 70 RBI, 18 NSB, 7 GIDP, 118 Ks) earned team MVP honors. He finished 36th in the league player rankings while Pence finished 43rd. How bad was the starting pitching? None of the team’s starters topped 200 innings or earned 20 quality starts. Greinke (177.2 IP, 18 QS, 7.50 K/9, 2.63 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) was having an excellent season but suffered a broken collarbone in an April brawl with the Padres and he missed a month. Reliever David Robertson (66.1 IP, 34 NSVH, 10.45 K/9, 2.04 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) was the team’s highest rated pitcher, finishing 47th in the player ratings.
The Bulls finished the 2014 season with their worst record since 2010. At 114-152-20, they were last in the North Division, 47.5 games behind the division champs, Bacon at Mile 11. They narrowly avoided their first Wooden Spoon on percentage points.
Greene protected Uehara, Gonzalez, Holliday, Pence and Greinke in the Keeper Draft. She drafted Alex Cobb, Martin Prado, Jonathan Lucroy and Daniel Murphy with her first four picks in the Regular Season Draft. Greene wasn’t as active in the free agent market, adding just 15 players to the roster during the season.
Uehara had a strong season but Tyler Clippard (70.1 IP, 35 NSVH, 10.49 K/9, 2.18 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) was the team’s top reliever. Clippard ranked 52nd in the final player rankings and was the 15th rated reliever. No hitter on the team topped 100 RBI and only Pence topped 100 runs. Pence (.332 OBP, 106 Runs, 20 HR, 74 RBI, 7 NSB, 13 GIDP, 130 Ks) was the team’s top-ranked hitter finishing 108th in the player rankings. Greinke (202.1 IP, 21 QS, 9.21 K/9, 2.71 ERA, 1.15 WHIP) earned team MVP honors finishing 41st in the league’s player rankings.
The 2015 version of the Bulls resembled a MASH unit more than a baseball team. Hunter Pence suffered a fractured forearm in spring training and then hit the DL twice more during the regular season before finishing with just 207 at-bats. Holliday suffered a quadriceps injury in June and reinjured it twice more and had just 229 at-bats. Alex Gordon was hurt in July chasing down a fly ball and didn’t return until early September.
Pence and Holliday were protected players in the Keeper Draft (along with Gonzalez, Greinke and Cobb) while Gordon was Greene’s second pick in the Regular Season Draft.
Greene scrambled, adding 34 different free agents to the team and trading reliever Kelvin Herrera to the Lower Haighters for shortstop Alcides Escobar. No matter what she did for the team, nothing seemed to work. The Bulls won TWO SERIES the entire year! They finished 81-169-14. It was the worst record in the history of the league as they finished 72 games behind the eventual North Division champs, Bacon at Mile 11.
Despite the roster carnage, Greinke turned in one of the best performances in team history. Greinke (222.2 IP, 30 QS, 8.08 K/9, 1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) finished third in the player standings and repeated as the team MVP. The only players that ranked higher than Greinke were Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta, a pair of starting pitchers.
Gonzalez was the only healthy, productive, hitter in the lineup. Gonzalez (608 PA, .865 OPS, 87 Runs, 97 RBI, 2 NSB, 133 Ks) had a Top 75 season, finishing 60th in the final player rankings. Mark Melancon (76.2 IP, 50 NSVH, 7.28 K/9, 2.23 ERA, 0.93 WHIP) rewarded Greene’s decision to choose him with her third pick in the Regular Season Draft by finishing ranked in the Top 50.
A slow start ultimately doomed the Bulls. They didn’t win a series over the season’s first six weeks. A 7-5 series victory over Land Shark on Week 7 sparked a run that saw the Bulls win six of their next eight series and climb back into playoff contention. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t maintain the momentum and won just three of its last eight series.
Greene was an active GM in 2016, adding 26 free agents to her team during the season. The addition of outfielder Rajai Davis and reliever Kyle Barraclough in May were key. Both players finished 2016 ranked in the Top 100.
The Bulls have one of the premier base stealers in baseball. Milwaukee shortstop Jonathan Villar finished the season with 44 net stolen bases. Villar (679 PA, .826 OPS, 92 Runs, 63 RBI, 174 Ks, 44 NSB) was the team’s highest rated player, finishing 33rd overall. If the 25-year-old can cut down on his strikeouts, he has the potential to be a Top 20 player.
Reliever Mark Melancon (71.1 IP, 43 NSVH, 8.2 K/9, 1.64 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) had his second straight Top 50 season, finishing 2016 ranked 43rd in the player rankings. Expect Melancon to anchor the bullpen again in 2017.
When the Mirrors left Stephen Strasburg unprotected in the 2015 draft, Greene pounced, making him the first pick in the draft. Strasburg (147.2 IP, 15 QS, 11.15 K/9, 3.60 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) finished 2016 ranked 75th overall despite missing most of September with a forearm injury. If he’s healthy, and that’s a big IF with Strasburg, he’s capable of a Top 50 finish.