Through games of May 17, the Clover Bottom Crush has emerged as the team to beat in The Missourian Sim Baseball League.
Dan Rettke’s team has a 17-11 record for a .607 winning percentage while leading the Frank Saucier Division.
Clover Bottom has gone 8-2 over its last 10 games and has scored a whopping 57 runs more than it has allowed.
The team has scored 174 runs to lead the league and has allowed 117, tied for second-best in the loop.
“I had some rough luck early, dropping some close games and winning big in others,” Rettke said. “With a league-best run differential, at least I’ve gotten to the top of the division.”
Rettke’s lineup is a literal murders’ row of hitters. Second baseman Nap Lajoie is hitting .387 and reaches base at a .409 rate.
Babe Ruth, the first overall pick, bats second and plays left field. He’s batting .301 with a .434 on-base percentage and leads the team with 12 home runs.
Batting third is Negro Leagues legendary catcher Josh Gibson, who has a .292 batting average with 13 extra-base hits, including seven home runs.
Cleanup batter Buck Leonard has been a massive part of the offense, hitting 10 home runs.
“My first three picks of Ruth, Gibson, and Nap Lajoie have carried my offense, along with one of the best surprises in the league right now in Buck Leonard,” Rettke said. “I hope my pitching is a little more consistent and everything will work out.”
There isn’t an easy out in the lineup, but that’s pretty much the rule for most of the league’s teams.
“It is interesting playing with only eight teams how good these rosters really are,” Rettke said. “My sim experience has been with 24- or 28-team leagues. You really have to find some gems to compete. Here, studs are everywhere.
“The last guy drafted has just about the same chance to be league MVP than the first guy,” Rettke continued. “That makes for some really interesting lineup construction and platoons and it is always fun seeing how new sim managers think and put together their teams.”
Successful starting pitching has made the Crush an even tougher team to beat. Kevin Brown (5-2, 2.92 ERA) leads the team while Greg Maddux (4-1, 3.14) and Lefty Grove (4-2, 4.00) have been solid as well.
In the bullpen, the Crush has two of the best closing out games with southpaw Billy Wagner (1-2, four saves, 2.93) and righty Mariano Rivera (0-0, three saves, 1.23) finishing.
Rettke said he’s enjoying the current version of the simulation, Diamond Mind Baseball Version 11 with the 2015 All-Time Greatest Players and Historic Parks databases. The All-Time Greatest Players database differs from single-season versions as the players are based on their peak years.
“I am enjoying this version because the ‘average of multiple seasons’ player format really makes the game more what I thought I was getting into originally with LOB (Legends of Baseball),” Rettke said. “LOB is great in its own unique way, but this way really allows the true legends of the game to shine. It’s fun to see Babe Ruth and Josh Gibson playing together, anchoring a roster that has Greg Maddux fronting the rotation and Duke Snider patrolling center field. Different leagues, different eras, and different strengths really make this fun for me.”
While Rettke might have the most feared lineup, there’s still plenty of season to be played.
Wildcat King of Union High School and Post 297 leader Ryan Bailey is second in the Frank Saucier Division with a 17-13 mark. That puts Wildcat King one game behind the Crush.
Nic Antoine’s St. Louis Buschers are third at 13-15, four games off the pace. The Post 218 Batmen of Kent Getsee are 5-5 in their last 10 games and have a 10-17 record, 6.5 games off the pace.
In the Lefty Martin Division, the sports staff of Arron Hustead and this writer are in a virtual tie for the lead.
The NEMO Finders of Hustead have a 15-11 record while the Missourian Liners are 14-10.
Two games back are Warrenton High School Coach Dallas Stapp’s Krakow Killers at 13-13.
Rob Struckhoff’s Ninth Street Knights bring up the rear in the division at 8-17, 6.5 games off the pace.
Clover Bottom has the best home record, 12-2, followed by Wildcat King at 11-4.
Only two teams, the Finders (9-5) and Liners (7-5), have winning road records.
The Ninth Street Knights are unbeaten on turf at 2-0. The Krakow Killers have the most wins on fake grass at 8-5.
The Killers are undefeated when leading after seven runs at 7-0. Krakow is 4-1 when tied after seven innings.
The Finders and Killers are the only teams to have multiple wins when trailing after seven innings.
The Liners have the most wins in one-run games, six.
The Finders have won three of four extra-innings games while the Killers are unbeaten, 2-0, in games beyond nine frames.
In the batting race, Eddie Collins of the Buschers holds the top spot at .390. Lajoie is three points behind.
Ted Williams of Krakow is third at .348 with Honus Wagner of the Liners (.341) and Jesse Burkett of the Buschers (.325) rounding out the top five.
The home run race has three players tied for the top spot at 12. Ruth is tied with Wildcat King’s Lou Gehrig and Manny Ramirez.
Alex Rodriguez of the Knights is third at 11 and Leonard has 10 round-trippers.
Rickey Henderson of the Finders leads the league in stolen bases with 13, eight more than second place.
Pedro Martinez of the Liners owns the league’s best ERA at 2.31. John Tudor of the Buschers is next at 2.47 while Walter Johnson of the Liners is third at 2.68.
Rounding out the top five are Cy Young (2.68) of the Killers and Bullet Rogan (2.75) of the Finders.
Wildcat King’s Randy Johnson is tops in strikeouts with 52, 13 in front of teammate Sandy Koufax and the Crush’s Kevin Brown.
Grove (37) of the Crush and Tom Seaver (36) of the Batmen round out the top five.
Brown is the only pitcher with five wins. Four-win pitchers are Grove and Maddux of the Crush, Young of the Killers and Johnson of the Liners.
Jason Isringhausen of the Killers leads the league with nine saves.
Rob Dibble of Wildcat King, Trevor Hoffman of the Finders and John Rocker of the Liners each have six saves.