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MLB Showdown 5: My Ultimate Team

This is the latest in a series on the MLB simulation card game, MLB Showdown. Previous entries include:

Part 1: Basics

Part 2: Roster Construction Pitching

Part 3: Roster Construction Offense

Part 4: Star Players


As I keep going through my MLB showdown cards, I bought some new ones and assembled the ultimate team.

Before we jump into it, I've got a previous article explaining how the game is played here.


The idea behind my team, decent rotation, great bullpen, and a consistent lineup from top to bottom, while making everything a matchup nightmare for opponents. The idea is to keep everything balanced, without being so heavy on star players that I have depth gaps.

The roster is constructed as follows. 5000 point cap for 20 players. 4 man starting rotation, and a 9 player lineup. The remaining 7 slots are bullpen and bench. Bench players are 1/5th their full point value. My team came in at exactly 5000 points. Here we go:


Rotation

1) Scott Erickson RHP CT 4 7IP 400 points: A good starter. He's a bit weak for an ace, compared to what his opposition will be most of the time. The control 4, outs 1-15, 15% 1B 5% 2B is pretty standard, but his 7 IP is a nice perk. The big advantage is GB outs from 5-12 (40%). He won't allow a ton of extra bases hits, and can wipe out singles with ground ball double plays. It's a nice package for a non-premium pitcher price.

2) Andy Pettitte LHP CT 4 6IP 350 points: A notch below Erickson. He gets 1 less IP, 5% more strikeouts, and 5% less GBs. He's also 50 points less than Erickson. Another guy who's good for 6 solid innings.

3) Kenny Rogers LHP CT4 6IP 350 points: His card is exactly the same as Pettite's. Same points, IP, control, and results. Both are LHP as well. Sometimes this happens in the game.

4) Juan Guzman RHP CT 5 IP 5 40 points: This guys is a fantastic bargain. I'm not sure how his card exists, to be honest. 100 point pitcher or less exist. They are typically control 0, outs 1-18. Guzman is a control 5 outs 1-15. By that metric alone, he's will get more outs than the other 3 pitchers in my rotation. His other stats are a bit lackluster. 5 IP is low. A 25% FB rate is bad. He's got decent K and GB rates at 20% each. He'll also walk guys at a 10 % clip, which, while higher than my other starters, reduces his 1B rate by 5%. I'd rather have a pitcher with BB and 1B rates of 10% and 10% each, instead of 5% and 15%, because walks don't score runners in scoring position. All of that for just 40 points. Guzman is arguably the best bargain in the game.


My rotation lacks shutdown strength, but is tops in efficiency. Each pitcher is control 4 or higher, and gets outs 1-15 (75% of the time). They are lower on the strikeouts, but higher on the ground ball outs. Each one is capable of putting in a quality start consistently, which is my goal. It's not to have the most dominating pitching staff, but one that's efficient on points so I can use resources elsewhere. Each pitcher is capable of at least 5 good innings. Guzman could go 6-7 in a good outing, but if I have to pull him after 5, I've got Erickson with his 7IP capability ready to go the next day. The lack of strikeouts isn't great, but decent ground ball and low fly ball numbers make up for it. To sum up my rotation, they are efficient, and essentially a baton carrier looking to get the game to my bullpen.


Bullpen

1) Dave Veres RHP CT 5 170 points: He's a solid closer. He's not a top 5 guy in the game, but a solid 6-10 closer without the premium cost. His control 5 is good, and he does not allow extra base hits. His GB rate is a bit lower than I'd prefer, but as closer, he likely won't be coming into unclean innings.

2) Derek Lowe RHP CT 6 180 points: He's a great pitcher, with a control of 6, outs 1-16 (80%) and 35% GB rate. He's the fireman who can come in and get a ground ball with runners on in a critical spot. The control of 6 means he can go multiple innings if need be too, but without the added cost of a 2 IP RP.

3) Graeme Lloyd LHP CT 6 150 points: A solid left handed RP. Control 6 and outs 1-15 makes him solid. Against an OB 10 hitter, he'll get the advantage 80% of the time, and then get outs 75% of the time with that advantage. His 30% GB rate is good as well.

4) Rheal Cormier LHP CT 6 150 points: A very similar player to Lloyd. A powerful package as a control 6 RP. His slightly lower FB% makes him the better lefty RP by a nose


My bullpen is both efficient and top notch. I didn't overspend on any player, but rather found bargains at a decent price point. I avoided the most expensive and best RPs, but instead loaded up with a lot of guys who can slot in 2nd tier guys who are really just a hair worse than the best. The idea is to select guys who can get the advantage, and get ground ball outs. Like the rotation, they are less on strikeouts, which can be a disadvantage in a runner on 3rd, less than 2 outs type of situation. They won't give up a lot of extra base hits, or fly balls. With the higher control numbers, they can go multiple innings if need be. Showdown rules dictate that for every inning over their limit, a pitcher is -1 control. So a second inning for Derek Lowe makes him a control 5 pitcher, then a control 4, etc.



Position Players

C: Jason Kendall 460 points: Kendall's a bit expensive, but he fits into my lineup like a Swiss Army knife. His 3 big pros are the OB 10, speed A, and great defense. For a catcher, that's a skillset that's impossible to come by. A handful of catchers will have great arms, and a different handful will have will have OB 9-10. None really have both. Most catchers are speed C, with a handful of speed B's. Kendall breaks the mold by being speed A. He costs a pretty penny, but the combination of high OB with speed A on a top notch arm catcher fills several needs in my lineup. Since he's so good, I don't need a backup catcher for any reason. He can be a leadoff guy, freeing up other positions for different types of bargains.

1B: Mark Grace 300 points: He's a decent package. There are better 1B with better slugging. But for 300 points, he's a decent bargain as his 25% extra base rate works well. Speed B and a LHB, and he's a reasonable option that fits in as a role player, rather than a typical dominator.

2B: Edgardo Alfonzo 350 points: A good package for just 350 points. Best defense in the game, OB 9 and a 10% HR rate. Hit rate of 50%. There are better players, but nobody else is as efficient of a balance of hitting and defense.

SS: Barry Larkin 360 points: Similar to Alfonzo, a little less power, but more speed. Great defense, and a decent extra base hit rate. He's a good package for 360 points. Another great bargain balance of offense and defense.

3B: Bill Mueller 220 points: Another solid bargain. OB 9 and 3B +3 makes him a decent combo of hitting and defense. There's a definite lack of power, but I can live with that since he's cheaper. He's a role player in this lineup, but still a tough out.

LF: Jeffrey Hammonds 400 points: Arguably another nominee for best bargain in the game. There are no other hitters with a 9 OB and HR 16-20 (25%) in the game. Most of the time, stats like that are worth 500+ points. Add in his +2 defense, speed B, and hits at 8 or higher, he's extremely valuable for 400 points. I wonder if this card is a misprint, because really, I'd expect to see those stats for 500.

CF: Jim Edmonds 380 points: He's a good package for 380 points. OB 9, 10% HR rate, and OF +2 means he can play all 3 spots. Another guy who's a solid combo of offense, defense, and flexibility.

RF: Lance Johnson 180 points: In AL style games, he'll play the field, and NL style be on the bench. He's a decent bargain with speed A and OF+2 for 180 points. The OB 7 is below average, and he's got a severe lack of power. But as a prototypical 9th hitter, that's above average. In NL style games, the LHB and speed A makes him an asset.

DH: Roger Cedeno (or RF for NL rules) OB 10, Speed A 400 points: He's a bit overpriced for the lack of power. But as an OB 10 speed A switch hitter, he's worth it. He'll DH in AL lineups, but then play the field in NL style games. There are a couple OB 10 speed A players cheaper than him, but none have the ability to hit singles and extra bases like Cedeno does.


Going through my 9 starters, I have just one true slugger: Hammond. I do have 3 or 4 guys who are speed A, depending on AL/NL style of game. I'll have 2 OB 10s, then 6 OB 9s, which makes every guy in the starting lineup a tough out. This lineup won't hit a lot of home runs, but there are a couple of minor power threats in the middle of the order. With as much speed as this team has, they'll steal bases and manufacture runs all day long. Most managers won't have as much speed and as little home run power as I have. I feel that I've got enough extra base power. Since most managers will stack their rotation with high control pitchers, my ability to manufacture runs should play well.


My team is very good defensively. the IF defense of +13 means that on double play attempts, Speed C hitters are always out, speed B'ers are out 90% of the time, and speed A'ers are out 65% of the time. This fits in perfectly with the high GB rates of my pitching staff. With Jason Kendall essentially shutting down the running game with his arm of 9, keeps guys on first to hopefully be erased with a double play. OF defense can max out at +7: My AL OF defense of +6 and NL OF defense of +5 is good.



Bench

1) LF/RF Chad Curtis 310 points The Second cheapest OB 10 in the game. He doesn't have a ton of pop, and walks more often than getting hits, but is an asset of the bench. He's also LF./RF+2, which is a nice perk.

2) SS Hanley Frias 290 points: The cheapest OB 10 in the game. Not a lot of power, but hits 45% of the time. He's the guy to go to when I've got the tying run at second and the pitcher's coming up. Switch hitter too.

3) LF/RF Stan Javier 200 points: A decent bargain at OB 8 speed A. Not a lot of power, like my other bench bats. The switch hitting is valuable, and OB 8 isn't bad for a bench spot.


My bench is like my lineup, high on base, not a lot of power. I've got 2 switch hitters who match up well in pinch hit situations. 2 OB 10 guys off the bench gives me a huge asset in NL style games. With Jim Edmonds in CF, I can sub in Curtis for Lance Johnson in the 7th inning of every AL game if I wanted to.


Lineup

1) C Kendall R

2) DH/LF Cedeno S

3) RF Hammond R

4) CF Edmonds L

5) 2B Alfonzo R

6) 1B Grace L

7) SS Larkin R

8) 3B Mueller S

9) Pitcher/ LF Lance Johnson L


For AL lineups, Lance Johnson plays the field and Cedeno becomes the DH. NL lineups, Johnson goes on the bench, and Cedeno plays the field. There are no easy outs in this lineup.


I achieve full flexibility with the lineup, with 0 same sided hitters batting consecutively. I have two OB 10 and speed A hitters leading off, followed by my bopper: Hammond. Edmonds and Alfonzo are a pair of OB 9, HR 19-20 hitters. Grace and Larkin are two solid OB 9 with some extra power hitters. Muller's a OB 9 singles hitter, batting 8th. The 9th spot is either the pitcher, or Johnson, who becomes a bonus leadoff hitter.

Overall:

-2 on base 10 hitters

-6 on base 9 hitters

-7 guys with a 25% chance of extra base hits when they have the advantage.


So there it is! I look forward to taking any challengers down.




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