Marin Menehunes General Manager Elizabeth Gravely is now a league champion. She guided the Menehunes to their best regular season record in franchise history and then pulled off three improbable upsets to claim the crown.
With a regular season record of 128-122-14, the Menehunes were not a juggernaut. That’s tied for the 63rd best record in league history and was the lowest number of regular season wins recorded by a league champion. The Menehunes worked some of their island magic to become the first team to win the championship from the eight seed.
The Menehunes faced Bacon at Mile 11 in the quarterfinals, a team that recorded a league-high 149 wins in 2016. Shortstop Marcus Semien drove in 14 runs while outfielder Odubel Herrera stole a pair of bases and posted a team-high 1.312 OPS to key the upset. The Menehunes also won five of the six pitching categories as relievers Steve Cishek and Francisco Rodriguez pitched 4.2 scoreless innings and combined for five net saves/holds.
The Menehunes continued their magical run with a 9-3 semifinal series win over No. 3 seed Warning Track Power. Rick Porcello picked up a pair of quality starts in the series and finished the week with 2.31 ERA and 0.73 WHIP while Herrera and Todd Frazier continued to hit.
Finally, the Menehunes beat the Lower Haighters in the championship, 8-3-1, as Herrera earned playoff MVP honors. The Philadelphia outfielder hit .371 with a .970 OPS, scored 15 runs and had five net stolen bases during the playoffs. Porcello posted four quality starts and struck out 28 batters over 29 innings.
The championship run is a great example of how a couple of hot bats and a strong pitching performance can carry a team in head-to-head fantasy baseball.
Jay Morrison was the general manager for the Sasquatch Sluggers in the initial season. Morrison drafted Tim Lincecum, Victor Martinez, Justin Upton, Melvin Upton, Brian Roberts and David Ortiz with his first six picks. It was a difficult year for Morrison and the Sluggers.
The team finished with a 120-145-11 record. They finsihed 33.5 games behind the East-West Challenge Division champs, the Lower Haighters. Despite the team’s struggles, Morrison made just 10 free agent acquisitions during the season.
Morrison did draft a young pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, and was patient with him as he pitched 68 innings with a 2.91 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Clay Buchholz (173.2 IP, 19 QS, 120 Ks, 2.33 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) emerged as the team MVP. Unfortunately, Buchholz, who finished the season as the league’s 66th-rated player, missed a month with a strained hamstring. Ortiz (.370 OBP, 32 HR, 86 Runs, 102 RBI, 0 SB, 145 Ks) was the team’s top hitter. He ranked 68th in the player rankings. The bullpen was a weakness as only two relief pitchers recorded saves or holds for the Sluggers.
In 2011, a new general manager took the reins, Elizabeth Gravely. Gravely protected Lincecum, 2010 team MVP Ortiz, Delmon Young, Kelly Johnson, and Buchholz. She drafted Ben Zobrist, Kevin Youkilis, and Billy Butler with her first three selections in the Regular Season Draft.
The Sluggers won their first series and then went five weeks without another victory. After losing three of their final four, the Sluggers finished 116-137-23 and 48.5 games behind the West Division winners, the Lower Haighters. Gravely was a hands-off general manager, making just four free agent acquisitions on the season.
The Sluggers didn’t replace Youkilis in the lineup after he injured a thumb in August. At the time, Youkilis was third in the major leagues with 77 runs scored and led all major leaguers with a .798 slugging percentage. Young outfielder Domonic Brown broke his hamate bone in spring training and played in just 41 games.
Ortiz, who narrowly missed the team MVP award in 2010, secured it in 2011. Ortiz (.398 OBP, 84 Runs, 29 HR, 96 RBI, 1 SB, 83 Ks) was the league’s 28th rated player and top-rated designated hitter. Lincecum (217 IP, 23 QS, 220 Ks, 2.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP) was the team’s top-rated pitcher. He was the league’s 45th rated player. The bullpen improved dramatically as four relievers had 10+ saves/holds led by Juan Carlos Oviedo’s 36 saves. Chris Sale also pitched 71 innings out of the ‘pen and earned 24 saves/holds.
Gravely renamed the team the Marin Menehunes entering 2012. She protected Zobrist, Asdrubal Cabrera, Butler, Johnson and Lincecum in the Keeper Draft. She drafted Shane Victorino, Cory Luebke and Nick Markakis with her first three picks of the Regular Season Draft. Gravely opted not to extend Ortiz, the team’s best player the previous two years.
Gravely was much more active in free agency, adding 29 players to the roster over the course of the season. This included Josh Reddick, Jason Grilli, Max Scherzer, Buchholz, Kris Medlen and Josh Donaldson.
The Menehunes won five of their first seven series and became a playoff contender. They also ended the season by winning five of their last seven and finished with the first winning season in franchise history. The Menehunes were 131-129-16 and just 10.5 games behind the West Division champs, the Lower Haighters.
Grilli (58.2 IP, 32 Holds/Saves, 90 Ks, 2.91 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) emerged as the leader in the bullpen after he was acquired as a free agent. Another free agent acquisition, Scherzer, led the team with 20 quality starts, 187.2 innings pitched, and 231 strikeouts. Josh Willingham, the team’s eighth pick in the Regular Season Draft, emerged as the team MVP. Willingham (.366 OBP, 85 Runs, 35 HR, 110 RBI, 3 SB, 141 Ks) was the league’s 38th rated player and eighth-rated outfielder.
Gravely protected Willingham, Zobrist, Scherzer, reliever Casey Janssen and Lincecum to form the nucleus of the 2013 team. She also drafted Butler, Justin Masterson, Michael Young, and Grilli in the Regular Season Draft.
Willingham battled a bone bruise in his left knee in ’13. He was placed on the DL in early July and was limited to 389 at-bats for the season. The Menehunes acquired 12 free agents to help the team during the season. While Willingham was in the lineup, the Menehunes lost just three of their first 11 series and were challenging for the West Division pennant. They then lost nine of their last 12 to finish 134-144-20 and miss the playoffs. They were ninth overall and 29.5 games behind the West Division pennant winners, the Lower Haighters.
The offense struggled without Willingham but on the mound, Scherzer was turning in an epic performance. Scherzer (214.1 IP, 25 QS, 10.08 K/9, 2.90 ERA, 0.97 WHIP) was the league’s fifth-rated player and third-rated pitcher and earned team MVP honors. The Menehunes didn’t have a hitter in the lineup with 20 homers. Only Butler, Nick Markakis and Dayan Viciedo had more than 50 RBI. Nate McLouth used his wheels to earn the highest ranking of any hitter on the team. McLouth (.329 OBP, 76 Runs, 12 HR, 36 RBI, 23 NSB, 7 GIDP, 86 Ks) ranked 92nd overall. Grilli, Janssen and Brandon Kintzler formed one of the league’s best bullpens, combining for 89 net saves/holds.
The Menehunes finished 10th in the league with a 126-142-18 record. They were 31.5 games behind the Lower Haighters, the West Division pennant winners. Gravely protected Zobrist, Butler, Scherzer, Janssen and Markakis and the team held its own in the first half of the season, winning six of its first 12 series. Gravely made 11 player transaction through June and then checked out, making no more transactions the rest of the year.
Chris Carter and Khris Davis provided the power the Menehunes were missing in ’13. Carter led the team with 37 homers while Davis had 22. Unfortunately, Reddick hurt his knee in June and went on the DL and lost a month of playing time. Andre Ethier also lost playing time with the Dodgers and was a reserve for the second half of the season. Markakis (.342 OBP, 81 Runs, 14 HR, 50 RBI, 2 NSB, 10 GIDP, 84 Ks) was the only hitter to finish ranked in the Top 150 (148th) for the Menehunes.
Reliever Greg Holland (62.1 IP, 44 NSVH, 12.99 K/9, 1.44 ERA, 0.91 WHIP) emerged as the team MVP, finishing the season ranked 16th. He was the league’s fourth-rated reliever. Scherzer (220.1 IP, 22 QS, 10.29 K/9, 3.15 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) was the team’s top starter.
Gravely protected Scherzer, Andrew Cashner, Carter, Holland and Alexei Ramirez in the Keeper Draft and added Todd Frazier, Alex Wood and Daniel Murphy with her first three picks in the Regular Season Draft.
Cashner finished with a 4.34 ERA over 184.2 innings while Carter struck out 151 times in 460 plate appearances and finished with a .734 OPS. With two underperforming keepers, the Menehunes finished 99-151-14 and 15th in the league. They were 48 games behind A-Rod’s Mirrors, the West Division pennant winner. Similar to 2014, Gravely actively added free agents in the first half of the season, acquiring 12 through July 6, but abandoned the team in the second half.
Scherzer was the team MVP after finishing fifth in the league’s player standings and fourth in the starting pitching rankings. Scherzer (228.2 IP, 23 QS, 10.86 K/9, 2.79 ERA, 0.92 WHIP) is firmly established as the team’s best player. Frazier led the team in plate appearances (678), RBI (89) Runs (82) and OPS (.807). Brad Ziegler was the top reliever with 32 net saves/holds with a 1.85 ERA and 0.96 WHIP.
Winning a league championship requires production from unexpected sources and Wil Myers provided that for the Menehunes in 2016. Myers went undrafted and Gravely claimed him off waivers on April 15. Myers (676 PA, 99 Runs, 94 RBI, 160 Ks, .797 OPS, 22 NSB) led the team in net stolen bases, was second in runs scored and third in RBI. He finished the season ranked 50th in the final player rankings.
Gravely added 16 free agents during the season, second most in team history. Reliever Steve Cishek was added on Aug. 21 and became a playoff hero out of the bullpen. Cishek finished the season ranked 102nd.
The team started hot, winning its first four series before losing four in a row. The team struggled down the stretch, losing three of its last four series but a 9-2-1 series win over the Lower Haighters on Week 21 helped the team earn the final playoff spot.
Max Scherzer (228.1 IP, 2.96 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 11.19 K/9, 26 QS) tied Porcello for the team lead in quality starts and led the Menehunes in WHIP. He ranked second in the league player rankings and earned team MVP honors for the Menehunes.
Utility infielder Daniel Murphy (582 PA, 88 Runs, 104 RBI, 57 K, .985 OPS, 2 NSB) led the team in RBI and OPS and was ranked 17th in the league’s player rankings. He was one of five players to earn keeper status for the Menehunes in 2016, the most keeper-level players on the Menehunes’ roster at season end in team history.