Presenting: The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2020

Well, I didn’t get a minor league season this year but I did get a Class of 2020 for the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame.

This class will go down in history as perhaps the most unique in the 12 seasons I have done this. Of the three players who made it this year, they have 37 big league games between them – 35 of which belong to Ryan Mountcastle. My other two players – Yermin Mercedes and Garrett Cleavinger – have the distinct possibility of joining Zach Clark in the “one and done” club as Clark’s big league resume consisted of exactly one appearance.

Of course, you come closer to 100 big league games of experience if you count the 62 games the Cleveland Indians played with Kyle Hudson as a coach. He made it back to The Show and necessitated the new coaches wing of the SotWHoF.

With the shorter season, I was truly shocked that Mercedes’ August 2 debut was the first, and probably more shocked that he never returned to the Chicago White Sox roster where he played with fellow SotWHoF member Nicky Delmonico in the lineup – a rarity indeed as Delmonico only got into six games this season.

Needless to say, we all expected to see Ryan Mountcastle this year and he put up spectacular numbers – enough so to merit a little Rookie of the Year consideration but set him up well for the 2021 award since he will still be eligible. He looks set to be the Orioles’ left fielder after his August 21 debut.

And Garrett Cleavinger finally made it into a game in his second go-round on the Philadelphia roster, debuting September 17. Unfortunately, he was optioned back out the following day and did not get a third call.

Thus, this year it turned out I had a class of four: three players and one coach. For a shortened season it was a very good class and it included a couple players I thought might get the call last year at this time (Mountcastle was a no-brainer.)

While Wynston Sawyer came somewhat close to making his debut, briefly landing on the Yankees’ 40 man roster, I believe the window of opportunity is closing fast on what was a great group of 2014 players (not to mention those who were selected prior, like Sawyer.) And to be frank, 2015 and 2016 don’t look exceptionally promising, either, thanks to losing the entirety of the 2020 minor league season. 2015’s Ademar Rifaela isn’t anywhere near the Baltimore outfield conversation while guys from 2016 like Jay Flaa (frequently brought from minor league camp during spring training), Brian Gonzalez (who recently signed with the Rockies on a minor league deal after spending part of 2020 at the Orioles’ alternate training site), and Jesus Liranzo (pitching in the Dominican Republic this winter) didn’t really step forward.

So we look to the group from 2017-19. The only two remaining from 2017 are now both on the Orioles’ 40-man roster as pitcher Alex Wells recently joined outfielder Ryan McKenna there. While it’s not yet necessary for them to be placed on the 40-man, they are joined by 2018 hopefuls Zac Lowther (who is on the 40-man anyway), Mason McCoy, DL Hall, and Brenan Hanifee.

With a real outside chance, we have 2019’s Grayson Rodriguez (who was in the ATS this summer) and Adam Hall. Both are more likely to be in the Class of 2022. Missing an entire year of Shorebirds of the Month is going to create a significant drought around 2023-24, particularly with the uncertainty surrounding the 2021 minor league season and how long it will be scheduled for. (Assuming, of course, the Shorebirds remain part of MiLB – not exactly a given.) The HoF may only have 2 or 3 next year, although there’s big potential for surprises thanks to this lost season.

With the publication of this post, I’ll bring the newly updated SotWHoF back live and allow you to read and enjoy.

The season that never was

Normally on this date in this time slot I would be announcing my June Shorebird Pitcher and Position Player of the Month. Instead, I get to react to the bad news that there will be no Shorebirds of the Month in 2020.

It’s a decision that was sort of baked into the cake once we passed Memorial Day with no major league baseball in sight but on Tuesday Minor League Baseball pulled the plug on the 2020 season. For the Delmarva Shorebirds, it cancels what would have been their milestone 25th season, a campaign where they were likely to be among the South Atlantic League’s top contenders given they won a team record 90 games in 2019.

As far as my website goes, it really changes my summer routine. New readers might not know that, for the previous 14 seasons, I have honored two to five Delmarva players a month – first as Shorebird of the Week, and for the last three seasons I selected a Shorebird Pitcher and Position Player of the Month. Normally by this point of the season I would already have the thrill of knowing that two or three of them would be inducted into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame come December as they had made their debut in the Show. Later this fall I would have selected a Shorebird of the Year and done my picks and pans as a Shorebird fan, commenting on the overall stadium experience during the season.

But while I will miss doing most of these posts – it is likely I will eventually have a Hall of Fame Class of 2020 based on who the Orioles and others are trying out – that’s not my main concern here.

While the Shorebirds put on a brave face in talking about a 2021 return, there is already a whirlwind of activity regarding minor league baseball with which to contend.

First of all, at season’s end the Shorebirds are no longer contractually obligated to be an Orioles’ affiliate. Normally this is a routine renewal but these aren’t routine times: with minor league contraction all but certain thanks to the proposed deal between Major League Baseball and their MiLB counterparts, the Orioles will need only four affiliates instead of five. An early list of contracted teams included the Frederick Keys, who serve as the advanced-A affiliate for the Orioles – presumably that franchise would relocate to Aberdeen, which was slated to lose its rookie league team as that classification is phased out but has facilities and a fan base sufficient to support a higher classification.

However, if Frederick is successful in convincing the powers that be to stay – a case bolstered by the fact Maryland will almost certainly lose the Hagerstown Suns, a class A team that’s the Shorebirds’ biggest rival but one which had been rumored for relocation over the last several years anyway because of outdated facilities and poor attendance – then the Orioles would almost certainly prefer keeping the closest affiliates. (I don’t think Norfolk is going to lose its AAA team.) In that case, the situation may play out such that Delmarva keeps its team but loses its longtime Orioles affiliation and returns full circle to the Nationals (the successor team to the Expos, who were Delmarva’s first parent team for a season when they relocated here in 1996.)

Yet there is a wild card in that, too, because in addition to the contraction, we are going to see classifications upended as well. Leagues seeking better geographical balance and shorter road trips may expand or contract themselves, or be created anew: one rumor was that a Mid-Atlantic League of six teams would be formed as a class A league. A possible configuration for that would be having Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Aberdeen promoted from rookie league to full season ball to serve as the class A teams for the Yankees, Mets, and Orioles respectively. Lakewood would remain in the loop as a Phillies team – although that affiliation could also be given to Wilmington, which would step down from the advanced-A Carolina League as its northernmost team and join a more regional outfit. The loser in that battle could likely be a Red Sox affiliate, leaving Delmarva to be the Nationals A-ball team. Travel would be reduced considerably, with the worst trip being Salisbury to New York City, and we would see all these teams 14 times over the home season.

So we have no idea whether the crushing disappointment of losing a playoff elimination game at home in a 1-0 heartbreaker may the the last memory of the Delmarva Shorebirds. The chances of that being the case are remote, but so was the idea that a virus would cost Delmarva baseball fans a triumphant 25th season with their team.

Fantasy baseball, the 2020 sequel: part 2, the season

Now that you are reminded of who plays on my fantasy baseball team of Shorebird of the Week Hall of Famers, you’d be welcome to ask: how would they do?

It took a few weeks of off and on work, but I updated the estimates for each remaining player from my 2019 team with their seasonal statistics, with the usual wild guesses of how injury-prone they would be and who would make for the best starting lineup, as I detailed last week.

So I had the set of individual statistics, but I needed a glue to put them together. Then I remembered how I did it last year:

Since I had figured out most of the main batting stats in order to define OPS and slugging percentage for the hitters, I decided to treat the pitchers the same way and figure out the batting stats against them. Once I had those numbers, I pored over about two decades’ worth of team batting stats to determine the closest parallels to runs scored based on average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS, numbers which I averaged together to determine projected totals of runs scored and runs allowed, which then allowed me to figure out a Pythagorean win-loss record that’s relatively accurate – most teams finish within a few games of their Pythagorean record.

My post from last season.

So I did that again, but it’s also worth recalling how the two squads compare in WAR.

2020 WAR2020 SotWPos.2019 SotW2019 WAR
0.6C. SiscoCA. Wynns1.5
2.0C. Walker1BT. Mancini2.0
1.4J. Schoop2BJ. Schoop2.3
1.4P. FlorimonSSP. Florimon1.5
5.8M. Machado3BM. Machado7.5
1.5YastrzemskiLFDelmonico0.4
1.2S. WilkersonCFC. Mullins1.5
3.7T. ManciniRFL.J. Hoes-0.3
-0.4DelmonicoDHC. Walker0.9
4.0E. RodriguezSPE. Rodriguez2.9
2.8Z. DaviesSPZ. Davies2.7
3.4D. BundySPD. Bundy3.1
2.2S. BraultSPS. Brault0.9
2.5J. MeansSPP. Bridwell1.0
1.2Z. BrittonCLZ. Britton0.8
2.2J. HaderRPJ. Hader1.1
1.3M. GivensRPM. Givens 1.3
0.9HernandezRPHernandez0.8
1.2O. DrakeRPE. Gamboa-0.8
41.9Total WARPos.Total WAR31.1

As you can see, the overall WAR is far better; in theory, this team is 10 wins better than last season’s. However, it’s worth noting that the aggregate WAR of the players lost from the 2019 squad is (-1.2) and they were replaced by three players who combined for 1.6 WAR. So that’s about 1/4 of the gain, plus the extra playing time may have increased some of the better players’ WAR numbers. This is important because when I did the aggregates of average, OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS, I came out with a negative run differential. Thus, this team wouldn’t flirt with .500 by picking up 10 games from its 72-90 record last season, but they would improve modestly to a 74-88 record.

And don’t forget: having done all these numbers meant that, just for the fun of it, I projected some 2020 statistics for the position players and pitchers. Of course, there are some players who will get nowhere near this much playing time – the now-retired Ty Kelly immediately comes to mind, but there are a handful of guys listed who, as far as I know, hadn’t signed a free agent deal as we begin spring training: pitchers Pedro Beato, Scott Copeland, and Eddie Gamboa as well as utility players Pedro Florimon and Brandon Snyder and catcher Mike Ohlman.

Losing a few pitchers from the 2021 team won’t really hurt me, but the lack of position players may put me in a bind in continuing this concept – which, you may notice, was slimmed down to two parts this year. I still have fun doing it, but I have to keep it somewhat real, too.

But until April 9, when the plan is for me to be back in my Perdue Stadium seat (hopefully not freezing to death) this will have to suffice. (Although…once again the UMES Hawks are playing their home contests at Perdue, with the first scheduled a week from tomorrow – weather permitting, of course.)

So here you go – my version of fantasy baseball is complete for another season. Can’t wait for the real thing!

Fantasy baseball, the 2020 sequel: part 1, the team

It was about this time last year when I sated my jonesin’ for baseball with a fun exercise: putting together a fantasy baseball team based on the 40 players who had attained the status of being in the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. By the time I got to the last of three parts I had gotten far enough to create a projected set of statistics for each player.

One thing I mentioned in passing the first time around is that a number of players who were included on my 2019 team had actually stopped playing, meaning I had to recreate their career as if they hadn’t left the game. Most of those players were bench players and “September callups,” but this year I changed my rules a bit and only players who were active in 2019 would be included on this team.

Thus, the team lost a few players, but it also gained three as the SotWHoF Class of 2019 could be included. So this year’s squad includes pitchers Brendan Kline and Hunter Harvey as well as outfielder Mike Yastrzemski. With the additions and subtractions, the roster is quite a bit smaller:

Pitchers (20): Pedro Beato (R), Steven Brault (L), Parker Bridwell (R), Zack Britton (L), Dylan Bundy (R), Scott Copeland (R), Stefan Crichton (R), Zach Davies (R), Oliver Drake (R), Eddie Gamboa (R), Mychal Givens (R), Josh Hader (L), Hunter Harvey (R), Donnie Hart (L), David Hernandez (R), Brendan Kline (R), John Means (L), Ryan Meisinger (R), Eduardo Rodriguez (L), Jimmy Yacabonis (R)

Catchers (3): Michael Ohlman (R), Chance Sisco (L), Austin Wynns (R)

Infielders (5): Pedro Florimon (S), Manny Machado (R), Jonathan Schoop (R), Brandon Snyder (R), Christian Walker (R)

Outfielders (6): Nicky Delmonico (L), Ty Kelly (S), Trey Mancini (R), Cedric Mullins (S), Stevie Wilkerson (S), Mike Yastrzemski (L)

This team got a little skimpy on position players because I lost a lot of them due to “retirement.”

Breaking the squad down further, we have five pretty solid starting pitchers. Eduardo Rodriguez would be the staff ace, and I could set up the staff behind him to alternate in a lefty-righty punch: how about Zach Davies as your #2, John Means as the #3, and Dylan Bundy as #4? Steven Brault would be the most likely #5 to provide a true LRLRL rotation. Backing them up in the “minor leagues” would be Scott Copeland and Parker Bridwell.

And this fantasy team still has the loaded bullpen (in real life) with the likes of Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Josh Hader, Oliver Drake, and David Hernandez as the back end crew. I could go closer-by-committee or assign someone like Britton to be my closer. I also have some length back there with guys like Jimmy Yacabonis and Eddie Gamboa, who can pitch multiple innings in a pinch. Backing the bullpen up are optionable pieces Stefan Crichton, Hunter Harvey, Brendan Kline, and Ryan Meisinger as well as veterans Pedro Beato and Donnie Hart.

I have the same three catchers as last season, and I still have guys who can chip in at multiple infield positions based on their big league experience – just fewer of them. Christian Walker had a breakout 2019 both on my fantasy team and in real life, so he’s nailed down first base. I’ve also kept Jonathan Schoop as my second baseman, Pedro Florimon at short, and Manny Machado at third. Brandon Snyder will back up at the corners, although two guys listed as outfielders (Ty Kelly and Stevie Wilkerson) could play up the middle as required.

My outfield gained a starting left fielder in Mike Yastrzemski. He would be flanked by a competition between Stevie Wilkerson and Cedric Mullins for the center field spot and Trey Mancini handling right. Any of those could also be a designated hitter, along with the other backup outfielder Nicky Delmonico.

Basically, with this arrangement of position players I would probably only have to send down the third catcher thanks to the expanded 26-man roster.

On Opening Day, this is what I would send out. We’re assuming American League rules with a designated hitter, and Eduardo Rodriguez is my starting pitcher for the second season in a row.

  1. Cedric Mullins, cf
  2. Trey Mancini, rf
  3. Manny Machado, 3b
  4. Jonathan Schoop, 2b
  5. Christian Walker, 1b
  6. Mike Yastrzemski, lf
  7. Nicky Delmonico, dh
  8. Chance Sisco, c
  9. Pedro Florimon, ss

Bench: Austin Wynns (R), Brandon Snyder (R), Ty Kelly (S), Stevie Wilkerson (S)

In part two, I’ll reveal how the season plays out.

Presenting: The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2019

For this, the eleventh class of inductees, we seem to be arriving at a stopping point. Two of the three being honored this year were members of the loaded 2014 Shorebird team, and it appears that well may finally be running dry – those few players still knocking around aren’t really regarded as prospects. The same is true for the 2013 crop whose representative this season rounds out the trio.

The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 didn’t take long to get set, as Branden Kline overcame a career’s worth of adversity to make his debut April 20. And while it was a feelgood story of an (almost) hometown kid made good necessitated by an unexpected early-season twinbill, the fact that Kline did well enough in that spot appearance to earn a place on the Elias/Hyde Baltimore-to-Norfolk shuttle meant he would be in the conversation for bullpen work in 2020.

Member number 2 may have received his big break a few weeks before the season. In a classic “change of scenery” trade, the Orioles addressed a glut of outfield prospects and the desire for more pitching depth by sending Mike Yastrzemski, whose star had fallen in the Orioles’ eyes thanks to some subpar AAA seasons, to the San Francisco Giants for Tyler Herb, a pitcher whose career seemed to be similarly stuck in the San Francisco organization. And while Herb did little to distinguish himself as Oriole property, the Giants got a steal of a deal that netted them a starting left fielder for the near-term, with several years of team control – one who will likely never leave for a big free agent contract since he won’t be eligible until his age-36 season. Mike made his debut May 25 and stayed with the Giants the rest of the way.

Finally, on August 17, the last piece of the Class of 2019 was put in place when the Orioles called up another pitcher whose career had been sidetracked by frequent injuries. Hunter Harvey only pitched a handful of innings at the big league level, but he was impressive enough to be penciled into the Orioles’ 2020 bullpen, perhaps as a seventh- or eighth-inning pitcher as closer-in-training for when the Orioles return to contention in future seasons.

So it was a class of just three; as such it was my smallest since 2014. The 2013 and 2014 SotWHoF classes were very small as they reflected a talent gap between a group which had either come through Delmarva at the end of the previous decade or were “can’t miss” guys like Manny Machado and Dylan Bundy and the group that began to arrive in 2016 or so as players who played with the Shorebirds in 2014. (The 2015 class was sort of a motley crew of pitchers, several making their debut elsewhere.)

As the players who came through in 2015 and 2016 have worked their way up to the cusp of the Show, the smaller number of Shorebird of the Month honorees beginning in 2017 will make the classes more limited going forward, perhaps maintaining a range of one to four per season.

While my track record is spotty, I continue to make my wild guesses as to who will be in the next class. I believe that, barring injury, we will finally see Ryan Mountcastle arrive in the bigs as one of the Class of 2020 – he was one of just two SotWs added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster. But, from there, the crystal ball clouds up considerably – I don’t see Ryan McKenna being quite ready this coming season after a step backward for the prospect in 2019. (His is a case where the new September roster restriction to 28 players will likely keep him off.)

McKenna and 2017 SotY Alex Wells are Oriole members of a second tier of prospects which also includes 2016 SotY Yermin Mercedes, who has worked his way onto the 40-man roster of the Chicago White Sox, as has Garrett Cleavinger for the Philadelphia Phillies. Jesus Liranzo fell off Pittsburgh’s 40-man but has stayed in the organization, so he’s included in this group.

Then we have a whole host of sleeper picks – guys who inhabit AAA but are considered more as the organizational filler. That group would include graybeards like Wynston Sawyer from way back in 2012, Luis Gonzalez and Mitch Horacek from 2014, and Jomar Reyes and Ademar Rifaela from 2015. All but Reyes have tasted AAA, and all but Reyes became minor-league free agents after 2019. Reyes was once a prime prospect, but he got stuck at Frederick for a few seasons.

Lastly are a few more recent Shorebirds of the Month who could get considered, but realistically are more likely members of the classes of 2021 or 2022. They would be Preston Palmiero, Steven Klimek, Zach Jarrett, Zac Lowther, Tim Naughton, DL Hall, 2018 SotY Brenan Hanifee, Grayson Rodriguez, and 2019 SotY Adam Hall.

I have also found that, with the additional coaching positions being placed at various levels including the major leagues, there may be a need to add a coaches’ wing to the SotWHoF. For example, Kyle Hudson, a member of the Class of 2011 as a player, may well be inducted as a coach as he has reached the AAA level with the Cleveland organization. There’s precedent for non-playing personnel to be a Shorebird of the Week (for my 100th SotW I selected then-manager Ryan Minor as a way to honor his longtime contributions) so there probably should be a place for coaches and/or managers who reach the Show.

With the publication of this post, the SotWHoF will once again be a live, public page. One new wrinkle you will notice: I have added information on how the player was acquired by the Orioles and, where needed, the team with which he made his debut. It’s interesting to see how teams come together.

My version of fantasy baseball – part 3, the season

In part 1 I introduced this concept and in part 2 I determined my Opening Day team. But to answer the question regarding how such a team would do gave me a lot of trouble, and took a different turn than I expected.

Initially I believed I could use a simple WAR calculator to see just how well my players would do and use that guide to determine the team’s fate. Yet to figure those factors out I would need to calculate a player’s OPS and slugging percentage as well as a pitcher’s ERA. So my first order of business was determining about how many plate appearances each player would get; thus, I made a matrix covering the nine starting positions and also determined how many starts and relief appearances each pitcher would make. From there I calculated the rest of the statistics based on the players’ real-life numbers and some overall averages.

Using my team’s starting lineup and their WAR, this is the comparison to the Orioles 2018 lineup.

2019 WARSotW teamPos.Baltimore2018 WAR
1.5A. WynnsCC. Joseph0.3
2.0T. Mancini1BC. Davis-2.8
2.3J. Schoop2BJ. Schoop1.3*
1.5P. FlorimonSSM. Machado2.9*
7.5M. Machado3BR. Nunez1.2*
0.4DelmonicoLFT. Mancini-0.1
1.5C. MullinsCFA. Jones0.2
-0.3L.J. HoesRFJ. Rickard0.4
0.9C. WalkerDHM. Trumbo0.3
2.9E. RodriguezSPD. Bundy0.1
2.7Z. DaviesSPA. Cashner0.6
3.1D. BundySPA. Cobb1.1
0.9S. BraultSPK. Gausman2.2*
1.0P. BridwellSPD. Hess0.7
0.8Z. BrittonCLB. Brach0*
1.1J. HaderRPM. Castro1.3
1.3M. GivensRPM. Wright-0.1
0.8HernandezRPM. Givens1
-0.8E. GamboaRPT. Scott-0.1
31.1Total WARPos.Total WAR10.5

But the one thing about WAR is that it’s a relatively inexact science. Still, using the simple WAR calculators for pitchers and batters, I came up with a team WAR of 32.3 for my mythical 40-man roster. That turns out to be 21 wins better than the 2018 Orioles (meaning 68 wins) and nearly 25 fewer wins than the Red Sox, which would compute to an above break-even season with 83 wins. To me, that was a little too much of a range.

So I tried a different way. Since I had figured out most of the main batting stats in order to define OPS and slugging percentage for the hitters, I decided to treat the pitchers the same way and figure out the batting stats against them. Once I had those numbers, I pored over about two decades’ worth of team batting stats to determine the closest parallels to runs scored based on average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS, numbers which I averaged together to determine projected totals of runs scored and runs allowed, which then allowed me to figure out a Pythagorean win-loss record that’s relatively accurate – most teams finish within a few games of their Pythagorean record.

On that basis, my team would finish with a surprisingly good record of 72-90. I say surprisingly because it would finish near the bottom of both the batting and pitching rankings; then again, these align well with the rankings of the 2018 American League teams as five teams finished with fewer than 72 wins and this team generally laid in the bottom third statistically. Presumably it would be a rather strong bullpen that carries my team if they get an early lead.

One other thing all this calculation allowed me to do was change the roster somewhat. (This was reflected in the posts as I did the statistics before the second post where I selected the team.) In one instance, Christian Walker was not a full-time DH but was ticketed for AAA – however, in figuring out his season he had a bat that was too good to send down in comparison to my outfielders – so he stayed. And since his real-life MLB experience has mostly come as a pinch-hitter he’s a natural DH. Other players got more starts than originally envisioned because they were the best player I could put out there despite not being “established.” I also took the propensity for injuries into account so several of my players missed time on the “disabled list” and others were “called up” to replace them. For example, Pedro Florimon has been an injury magnet the last few seasons so in my mythical campaign he missed some time, enabling Manny Machado to slide over to short and placing utility players at third. Players who are well short of a full season are usually considered to be injured for a portion of it.

So I have not only answered my question, but I’ve also created a projected set of statistics (set in pretty much the same fashion as Baseball Reference lays out statistics) for each player based on a weighted formula of previous seasons and levels – thus, a guy who played at AAA a lot has his numbers adjusted a few ticks lower where appropriate. Raw rookies took a bit of a pounding from this, but if I continue to update these numbers they will settle in closer to their eventual MLB norms. It also gives me the fun of seeing how numbers will compare to real life as 2019 progresses.

(One note: for players who have retired I simply used their previous 4 active seasons, disregarding the layoff factor. It was as if they were still playing.)

This was a very fun and challenging exercise – but since I still have the numbers I could do it again for next spring as new players join the SotWHoF. It will actually be easier since I gave the now-retired players a courtesy cup of coffee (maybe a latte in a couple cases) in this mythical season but won’t feel the need to in 2020, unless I get in a positional pinch. (For example: if Michael Ohlman doesn’t find a team this year I still need him as a third catcher unless a guy like onetime SotW Wynston Sawyer gets the call.)

But consider this as you watch the 2019 season unfold and see how bad my projections are: at least free agency won’t break up this team! Thanks for playing along.

My version of fantasy baseball – part 2, the team

As I mentioned in part 1, the roster of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame is now a 40-man roster, much like those the actual teams hold this time of year as they tweak their squads for spring training.

By rule, any player on a team’s 40-man roster gets an automatic invitation to the major league squad’s spring training – so, in theory, a “spring training” for this squad is set insofar as invitees. They would just have a hard time with having intrasquad games due to shortages at some positions and no “minor league camp.” That fact inspired me to do a little research from my SotW Tracker as to how many guys would be at each minor league level if I had such a camp comprised of squads made up of the highest level each played after being selected. (We know 40 made the Show, but how many got to AAA, AA, and so forth?)

So I broke this down by season of first selection, meaning the first squad of 22 from 2006 would be assigned as follows, with subsequent seasons afterward:

  • 2006 (22 players) 4 MLB, 4 AAA, 3 AA, 7 A+, 4 A
  • 2007 (19 players) 2 MLB, 3 AAA, 7 AA, 5 A+, 2 A
  • 2008 (22 players) 5 MLB, 3 AAA, 6 AA, 5 A+, 3 A
  • 2009 (18 players) 5 MLB, 3 AAA, 3 AA, 4 A+, 3 A
  • 2010 (16 players) 1 MLB, 2 AAA, 4 AA, 6 A+, 3 A
  • 2011 (18 players) 4 MLB, 5 AAA, 5 AA, 3 A+, 1 A
  • 2012 (18 players) 5 MLB, 6 AAA, 3 AA, 4 A+
  • 2013 (18 players) 3 MLB, 2 AAA, 6 AA, 5 A+, 2 A
  • 2014 (21 players) 6 MLB, 7 AAA, 5 AA, 3 A+
  • 2015 (19 players) 3 MLB, 1 AAA, 4 AA, 9 A+, 2 A
  • 2016 (20 players) 2 MLB, 3 AAA, 6 AA, 7 A+, 2 A
  • 2017 (7 players) 1 AAA, 1 AA, 4 A+, 1 A
  • 2018 (9 players) 2 A+, 7 A

So out of the entire group of 227 players there would be 40 in the major league camp and 187 in the minor league camp – ironically, 40 have made AAA as well, with 53 advancing to AA, 64 to advanced-A, and 30 not progressing past Delmarva’s level. Suffice to say there are enough guys in camp, and several have a shot at cracking the real Oriole roster in 2019.

As for my top 40, let’s break them down by general position:

Pitchers (20): Pedro Beato (R), Brad Bergesen (R), Steven Brault (L), Parker Bridwell (R), Zach Britton (L), Dylan Bundy (R), Zach Clark (R), Scott Copeland (R), Stefan Crichton (R), Zach Davies (R), Oliver Drake (R), Eddie Gamboa (R), Mychal Givens (R), Josh Hader (L), Donnie Hart (L), David Hernandez (R), John Means (L), Ryan Meisinger (R), Eduardo Rodriguez (L), Jimmy Yacabonis (R)

Catchers (3): Michael Ohlman (R), Chance Sisco (L), Austin Wynns (R)

Infielders (9): Ryan Adams (R), Blake Davis (L), Pedro Florimon (S), Manny Machado (R), Joe Mahoney (L), Jonathan Schoop (R), Brandon Snyder (R), Christian Walker (R), Steve Wilkerson (S)

Outfielders (8): Matt Angle (L), Xavier Avery (L), Nicky Delmonico (L), LJ Hoes (R), Kyle Hudson (L), Ty Kelly (S), Trey Mancini (R), Cedric Mullins (S)

Breaking the squad down further, we have several pitchers who would vie for the starting rotation and a number destined for the bullpen. Looking for a starting role would be Brad Bergesen, Parker Bridwell, Dylan Bundy, Scott Copeland, Zach Davies, and Eduardo Rodriguez – maybe not the greatest starting rotation, but on this fantasy team all they would have to do is get to a loaded bullpen (in real life) with the likes of Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Josh Hader, and David Hernandez as the back end.

Around the infield, you have guys who can chip in at multiple positions based on their big league experience, with Manny Machado an obvious candidate as he’s played both third base and shortstop. Brandon Snyder has played both corner positions, and Steve Wilkerson split time between second and third. Meanwhile Ty Kelly and Trey Mancini provide flexibility as well – listed as outfielders, Kelly also has time at second and third while Mancini came up as a first baseman and still played enough there to qualify: my criteria was having at least 10% of appearances at a position.

Based on the track records, the 25-man roster, starting lineup, rotation, and bullpen could begin to take shape. The team I would likely “take north” would end up as follows:

Starting rotation: Eduardo Rodriguez, Zach Davies, Dylan Bundy, Steven Brault (listed as a reliever, but pitched much of his career as a starter), and Parker Bridwell. Scott Copeland is optioned to AAA.

Bullpen: Closer is Zach Britton, 8th inning is Josh Hader, 7th inning belongs to Mychal Givens, and David Hernandez is the additional arm for these situations. Eddie Gamboa and Jimmy Yacabonis can provide length, and Donnie Hart is the designated LOOGY. Oliver Drake is first man up at AAA for the bullpen, with Ryan Meisinger next up. The JIC guys shipped to AAA would be Pedro Beato and Stefan Crichton (as 7th/8th inning guys), John Means (as a AAA starter and potential long man), and Brad Bergesen and Zach Clark (as flex pitchers).

Catchers: Austin Wynns would be the starter, but Chance Sisco would get his share of appearances as well. Michael Ohlman would be waiting in the AAA wings.

Infielders: The six I take north – some are no-brainers, but there is also fill needed. Trey Mancini (originally listed as an outfielder based on his predominant position) is going to be my first baseman on this team, and Brandon Snyder will be the backup corner infielder (who can also play in the outfield.) Jonathan Schoop takes second base, but that leaves me a dilemma: should I play Manny Machado at short or third? Seeing no good third base prospects at the moment, Manny gets the hot corner and Pedro Florimon takes short. It leaves me Steve Wilkerson as another utility guy who, if he were good enough at third, could move Machado to where he wants to be. It also helps that Florimon and Wilkerson are switch-hitters as there are no left-handed hitters around the infield. And while Christian Walker is nominally a first baseman, the intention of putting him on the roster is more to be a full-time designated hitter.

It’s odd to platoon at second base, but on this fantasy team Ryan Adams and Blake Davis would do so at AAA. Joe Mahoney could hold down first base at AAA, waiting for his chance.

Outfielders: With Mancini shifted to the infield, it leaves an opportunity for someone else to make the 25-man roster. I need four out of the remaining eight outfielders to fill the squad. Starting from right field around to left would be L.J. Hoes, Cedric Mullins, and Nicky Delmonico, and I would take Ty Kelly (another utility player) as another left-handed bat for backup. Xavier Avery is first up from AAA, while Matt Angle and Kyle Hudson would be the other AAA guys in waiting.

So this could be the batting order on Opening Day. We’ll assume this is an American League team with a designated hitter. They’ll send out Eduardo Rodriguez as their Opening Day starter. Behind him would be:

  1. Cedric Mullins, cf
  2. Trey Mancini, 1b
  3. Manny Machado, 3b
  4. Jonathan Schoop, 2b
  5. Nicky Delmonico, lf
  6. Christian Walker, dh
  7. L.J. Hoes, rf
  8. Austin Wynns, c
  9. Pedro Florimon, ss

The bench would be Chance Sisco (L) as my backup catcher and Brandon Snyder (R), Ty Kelly (S), and Steve Wilkerson (S) as utility players who can cover pretty much anything but shortstop – but Manny Machado could slide over in a pinch and he pretty much plays every game.

In the last installment, I “play out” the season.

My version of fantasy baseball – part 1, the introduction

I sort of warned you about this back when I inducted the Class of 2018 into the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. Membership in that body has reached the magic number of forty, and given the facts that the Hot Stove League is well underway and people always like to speculate about how they would build a team… well, now I have a team, of sorts.

Of course, there are a fair share of guys in my Hall of Fame who aren’t involved as players anymore, but the beauty of the intersection of fantasy baseball with sabermetrics is that people are able to compare performances over time. I’m not going to get too fussy with this exercise, for its goal is to speculate how a team made up of SotWHoF players would do in a regular season and (in my opinion) the best way to do this is to compile the player’s WAR (wins above replacement) statistics. Every player in the SotWHoF has these, although those who are still active maintain a fluid WAR rating that will change as their career progresses.

Wins above replacement is a complex formula that determines how much impact a player has on his team’s fortunes. A MVP-type player would have a seasonal WAR of 8 to 10, meaning his presence on the team assures the squad eight to ten more wins than the average replacement. Take two extreme examples of 2018 teams: in the left column are the world champion Boston Red Sox (108-54 during the regular season) and on the right are the woeful Orioles (47-115).

2018 WARBostonPos.Baltimore2018 WAR
-0.5S. LeonCC. Joseph0.3
0.9M. Moreland1BC. Davis-2.8
-1.1E. Nunez2BJ. Schoop1.3*
3.8X. BogaertsSSM. Machado2.9*
0R. Devers3BR. Nunez1.2*
3.9BenintendiLFT. Mancini-0.1
2.1J. BradleyCFA. Jones0.2
10.9M. BettsRFJ. Rickard0.4
6.4J.D. MartinezDHM. Trumbo0.3
3.3R. PorcelloSPD. Bundy0.1
4.4D. PriceSPA. Cashner0.6
6.9C. SaleSPA. Cobb1.1
3E. RodriguezSPK. Gausman2.2*
0.8*N. EovaldiSPD. Hess0.7
2.3C. KimbrelCLB. Brach0*
1.7H. VelazquezRPM. Castro1.3
0.5J. KellyRPM. Wright-0.1
1.1M. BarnesRPM. Givens1
0.5H. HembreeRPT. Scott-0.1
50.9Total WARPos.Total WAR10.5

(*) Totals with Boston or Baltimore only.

As you can see, while a few individual players held the Red Sox back in terms of not being better than a theoretical player replacing him from the minor leagues, there were also several who put up All-Star and MVP-caliber seasons (with 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts leading the way.) On the flip side, the Orioles had a batch of players who were hardly better than minor league players and one much worse – Chris Davis, we’re looking at you. And once the key players for Baltimore were traded away, their replacements couldn’t even achieve the passable numbers put up by those who were traded – bear in mind that there are perhaps 25-35 players not listed who were bench players, minor league callups, and so forth. Some would accrue more wins above their replacements and others would lose ground – those listed above are just the primary starters and most-used bullpen pieces. Adding in the other 25 Red Sox players increases their WAR total by 6.1 wins above replacement for a team total of 57, while adding in the other 37 (!) Oriole players gains them o.8 WAR for a total of 11.3.

So now you have an idea of the parameters I’m going to use for this exercise. Next week I’m going to re-introduce you to this 40-man roster and speculate on how it would work if put together in fantasy life.

Presenting: The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2018

This past season the Baltimore Orioles finished third in the majors in one interesting category: number of players making their major league debut for the team during the season. Their 15 rookie players during the campaign placed them one behind the Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres, who both debuted 16 players.

So it logically follows that, for the first time in four years, all my inductees made their debuts as Oriole players. That run of 2012-14 inductees (a total of eight players who all stayed homegrown, with five of the eight coming in the first Dan Duquette season of 2012, two in 2013, and one in 2014) was memorable in that it brought us three Oriole icons of the last few years in Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, and Dylan Bundy. Making what turned out to be a full circle, the farm system Dan Duquette built was responsible for this year’s group of five inductees – guys who played with Delmarva in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The optimism of an Opening Day win was quick to fade as losses and injuries mounted, so perhaps the best way to introduce this class would entail more than the date of their debut but also the team’s record at the time. We begin 59 games in with catcher Austin Wynns, who opened the class on June 5 after it became painfully apparent that a terrible 17-41 start and issues with starting catcher Caleb Joseph weren’t going away anytime soon. Wynns eventually backed up Joseph, getting into 42 Oriole games after initially spelling Joseph (82 games) and 2017 SotWHoF member Chance Sisco (63 games) through a tough 2018 season for both.

Fifteen days later, with the Orioles now 21-50, June 20 was the time for Steve Wilkerson to take his turn as the latest attempt for the Orioles to find the utility player to replace the departed Ryan Flaherty. But Wilkerson was barely in the flow of things, having had to serve a 50-game suspension to open the season, and it turned out he would only make it into 16 Oriole games and 43 all told as injuries took their toll, too. Steve even grabbed some AB’s in the Arizona Fall League, which added another 20 games to his total for 2018.

At 23-57 a little over a week later, June 29 marked the MLB debut of two Oriole pitchers, including onetime SotW Ryan Meisinger. Ryan ended up making 18 of his 50 appearances over the season with the Orioles, as the other 32 were split 21 with Norfolk and 11 with Bowie, where he began the season. His one ill-fated start would come into play for this Hall of Fame, as you’ll shortly see.

On August 10, the Orioles were 35-80 and had made their fire sale, shipping off three members of this Hall of Fame (Machado, Schoop, and Zach Britton) as well as three other veteran pitchers to acquire 15 (mostly) minor league players. One player who wasn’t sent away thanks to his 10-and-5 rights was Adam Jones, but he graciously stepped aside a few dozen yards to his left to allow for the big league debut of Cedric Mullins as he took over as everyday center fielder. Cedric got the most playing time out of this five-member class, appearing in 45 of the Orioles’ last 47 games.

Finally, on September 26 the 46-111 Orioles needed a starting pitcher to face Boston for the first game of a day-night doubleheader. They chose Ryan Meisinger, but his failure to complete even one inning left the door open for John Means to make his debut in that contest, his only appearance with the Orioles after logging a full season between Bowie and Norfolk. Means also became the first player not actually selected as a Shorebird of the Week to make this Hall of Fame – he was picked Shorebird of the Year in 2015 thanks to special accomplishments and a great body of work, similar to how Brenan Hanifee won this season despite not having a good enough single month to be selected as a Pitcher of the Month.

That, then, is the five-man Class of 2018 for the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. So what do I think 2019 will look like?

We are now getting to the point where the well is running dry on the seasons where I had weekly winners. Certainly there are a few from the most recent such seasons in 2014-16 who still have a good chance to make the grade, with the oft-injured Hunter Harvey leading the 2014 crop. Others from that team who played in AAA last season include Drew Dosch, Mike Yastrzemski, Luis Gonzalez, and Dylan Rheault in the Giants’ organization. Mitch Horacek, who is now Colorado Rockies property, has reinvented himself in the bullpen at the AA level and continued his season in the Arizona Fall League. Except for Harvey, though, none of these players are on a 40-man roster.

My 2015 group is now pretty much tapped out, with only Matthew Grimes having reached AAA among active players. Still toiling in AA are dueling center fielders Ademar Rifaela and Jay Gonzalez, who is now in the Diamondbacks’ organization. Similarly, the most prominent prospects in the 2016 class are Ryan Mountcastle and Jesus Liranzo, who now pitches for the Pirates’ AAA club after two teams tried to sneak him through waivers.

Out of the rest, Ryan McKenna (who could be my first Shorebird of the Month to make the Show) isn’t one to sleep on, either, nor is pitcher Branden Kline from way back in 2013. And there are still a handful of other graybeards kicking around the higher end of the minors like Adrian Marin (2013, and a minor league free agent), Wynston Sawyer (2012, a member of the Twins’ chain last season), Jarrett Martin (2011, now with the Oakland organization), and the unsinkable Garabez Rosa, my second-to-last active player from 2010 (the other being SotWHoF member Ty Kelly.)

If I were to select the top 5 most likely out of that group, I would say Ryan Mountcastle is the most likely bet although he would probably not be first up. I could see a team like the Pirates take a chance on Jesus Liranzo (as he is on their 40-man roster) before Mountcastle makes his debut, but most of these guys seem like the September callup types, particularly Branden Kline or Ryan McKenna. And there’s almost always a surprise in the bunch like a Scott Copeland, Michael Ohlman or Nicky Delmonico, guys whose star had fallen for a time and who ended up debuting with other organizations. My sleeper pick in that regard is Dylan Rheault.

That doesn’t mean we’ll have five in the Class of 2019, but I can see anywhere from 3 to 7 depending on how much new GM Mike Elias likes the players in his newly adopted organization. I keep saying this but at some point it will be true: we are running out of potential for large classes of six or more. I think that window shuts after 2019 if it’s not already closed, since the best team we had for prospects (2014) has little left on the shelf.

So simultaneous to this post coming online, the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame is again open for business.

Perhaps I will stoke up the hot stove in January with a thought experiment: since it now has 40 players, how would a SotWHoF roster do in a full season? Stay tuned.

Coming attractions

Thank goodness the election is over, notwithstanding events in Georgia and Florida. I even got around to tossing out the political mailings.

So now we get a little break, although there’s one recent piece of interesting Maryland political news: an announcement in the wake of the Fourth Circuit’s edict that Maryland redraw two of its Congressional districts to re-enfranchise Republican voters who were gerrymandered out of the Sixth Congressional District, a district that became much less compact and contiguous because Martin O’Malley and Maryland Democrats wanted to create a Congressional seat for onetime State Senator Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola. To achieve that goal, they shifted the district southward to cover a large portion of Montgomery County – the fact that it covered Rob’s State Senate district was just a coinkydink, of course – excising Republican-rich swaths of Frederick and Carroll counties from the Sixth District and placing them in the MoCo-dominated Eighth Congressional District. By next March the districts are supposed to be redrawn, presumably back close to their pre-2012 configuration.

Seeing that, an opportunity has arose for my two-time monoblogue Accountability Project Legislator of the Year Neil Parrott to run from cover by forming an exploratory committee, perhaps doubling the mAP LoY delegation in Congress as he would presumably join Andy Harris in the House. Add to that, in an unrelated story, reigning and two-time mAP Top (Blue) Dog Jim Brochin trying to pay off campaign debt with a “bipartisan” fundraiser, and you can tell it’s the silly season of politics.

Aside from those above diversions, politics tends to slow down quite a bit. Sure, there may be an issue or two that emanates from the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress, but for the most part things are buttoned up during the holidays only to be ramped up as we return to normal after the new year.

As it works out, this post-election hiatus provides for me a chance to catch up on a couple other things. One (which is really sort of a navel-gazing set) is contemplating my annual Thanksgiving message for personal thanks and the “state of the blog” anniversary post as monoblogue becomes a teenager this year, with all the moodiness and angst to go with it – although the last couple years have foreshadowed that to a great degree.

The second is updating my Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame. Fortunately or not, the early Thanksgiving gives me a little extra time to do it as I generally take the page down on that day so I can update it in time for the first Thursday in December, which falls a full two weeks after Thanksgiving this year. I have five players to add, but with a number of trades made I also have some photos to update. I can’t keep using the Zach Britton, Manny Machado, and Jonathan Schoop photos I’ve had for years because they’ve suited up elsewhere.

So I may not be posting much before Thanksgiving, in part because I also want to work on a different website: the one I’m creating for my book. (I’ve had the domain name for a few months now, so it’s time to make it active.) Maybe my anniversary here will also be the debut there.

It’s time for a few mental health days.

The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2017

This is the ninth consecutive year I have added players to the SotWHoF, but this year’s crop was one of the more diverse in its history.

Last year I pleaded the case that:

I think 2017 may be a somewhat barren year. Sure, you could have the feelgood stories of longtime prospects like Garabez Rosa, Michael Ohlman, or Tim Berry finally breaking through, but if you look at the guys from 2012 and 2013 who are still hanging on no one jumps out at you.

It turned out that I was pleasantly surprised with another class of six for the Hall this year, which includes the aforementioned Michael Ohlman. I got my first player from the 2015 Shorebirds right away with Stefan Crichton, went back-to-back days for the first time with Josh Hader and Jimmy Yacabonis, circled back to one of those guys from 2012 hanging on in Nicky Delmonico, and wrapped up with the guy I was most expecting to see – my first Shorebird of the Year to make it, Chance Sisco. Two players came from the 2012 Shorebirds (Ohlman and Delmonico), two from 2014 (Yacabonis and Sisco), and one apiece from 2013 (Hader) and 2015 (Crichton.)

Of this group of six, it’s telling that only half debuted with Baltimore. Michael Ohlman was shipped off to the St. Louis organization in a cash deal in 2015 and spent two seasons there before signing with the Blue Jays this year. Josh Hader was part of the Bud Norris trade with Houston in 2013, as he was plucked out of the Shorebirds’ starting rotation in that deal, and moved on to the Milwaukee organization in another trading-deadline trade in 2015. Nicky Delmonico was also part of the Brewers at one time, but the prospect we gave up for “K-Rod” Francisco Rodriguez in 2013 didn’t stay long due to some personal issues and the White Sox signed him off the street in 2015.

While the guys who debuted for the Orioles were mainly up-and-down (although Sisco showed promise in his limited duty) and Ohlman really didn’t stick long enough to make an impact, both Hader and Delmonico put up solid numbers and stayed in the bigs once they were brought up. Hader is being discussed as a potential starter for the Brewers and certainly Delmonico should be considered as a piece of a rebuilding White Sox franchise that recently got another Oriole refugee in catcher Wellington Castillo – a move that ironically will clear the way for Chance Sisco if the Orioles don’t pick up a veteran receiver in the offseason.

As for next year’s crop, I’m again bearish on the prospect of five or six in the class, but you just never know. A lot depends on how the Orioles do in the first half of the season with a number of key expiring contracts at season’s end: if they start out well and keep the team intact, some of the guys thought to have a chance to move up may stay in the minors until 2019. On the other hand, a cold start that puts them in the position of being sellers at the trading deadline may be the impetus to move some guys up who were heretofore blocked like Ryan Mountcastle or give young pitchers such as Hunter Harvey, Luis Gonzalez, Ryan Meisinger, or Jesus Liranzo a shot. Any of them, along with outfield prospects like Cedric Mullins, Ademar Rifaela, or non-SotW players Austin Hays and DJ Stewart, among many others, could also be the trade bait to pick up that last piece for a playoff run, too, meaning they may debut with a rebuilding team and not the Orioles.

But in the meantime it’s time to congratulate my six newest members of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame, and with the posting of this article I will restore the SotWHoF page to public view.

The Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame Class of 2016

For a short time this summer, I thought I was going to have a record class for the SotWHoF this season, but as it turned out it fell one short of the record seven, with six. But this season’s class is making a prediction I made a couple years ago on the Shorebird of the Week tracker page come true:

I think the 2014 (SotW) crop has the potential to match the 2008 SotW group in terms of guys who can make it. They just seem to have that air about them, and three of them made the jump to Frederick immediately after the All-Star game.

True to my prediction (and within the timeframe of 2 to 3 years typically elapsing after their selection as Shorebirds of the Week) there are three players I picked in 2014 among the five inductees this season. In order of their debuts, they were Steven Brault, Donnie Hart, and Trey Mancini. Parker Bridwell was only the second player from 2013 to advance to the Show, and Ty Kelly finally gave me one player from the 2010 SotW crop that made it – from a team that was sometimes nearly unbearable to watch. Meanwhile, Eddie Gamboa became the new record holder for longest wait, going over seven years before his debut.

As has become a trend over the last few years, we have watched as two players traded away for a quick lineup fix made it to the majors with other franchises. But while Brault was acquired by the Pirates in a trade with the Orioles, it took another trade, waivers, and free agency (along with a blazing hot start) to finally bring Kelly to the bigs, while Gamboa left as a minor league free agent. But Kelly was among a record five Hall of Fame members playing in the postseason this year (and the only one not suiting up for Baltimore.) However, none of them advanced past the wild card game and Zach Britton was a healthy scratch that could have been six.

Perhaps the one making the most impact of this season’s crop was Hart, who has been a solid LOOGY (left-handed one-out guy) for Baltimore. But none of the six made a great splash this season like some have in the past; luckily that’s not an indicator of future results.

I actually did rather well predicting some of the guys who made it this year, but I think 2017 may be a somewhat barren year. Sure, you could have the feelgood stories of longtime prospects like Garabez Rosa, Michael Ohlman, or Tim Berry finally breaking through, but if you look at the guys from 2012 and 2013 who are still hanging on no one jumps out at you. Former SotW players who participated in the Arizona Fall League included Adrian Marin from 2013, Jimmy Yacabonis and Austin Wynns from 2014, Stefan Crichton from 2015, and Jesus Liranzo from last season. (Liranzo was also the only SotW added to this winter’s 40 man roster.) None of them really made an impact in the AFL, though. The most likely person to be a 2017 class member could also be the first Shorebird of the Year to make it, 2014’s Chance Sisco.

And going forward I’m a little bearish on the prospects that I will have another class with as many as six in it, as the players over the last two years don’t seem to have the same prospect cache as those from 2014. So this class of six may be the last really large one.

Yet the process may not be done with this past season after all. I am thinking about a less stressful alternative to weekly honors, with the thought of perhaps going to a monthly award with the prospect of repeating during a season (so the monthly honoree in April could repeat in May.) It may also expand to a position player and pitcher, based on merit, and if I decide to do this it would begin the first Thursday in May for the April player and pitcher so honored.

But in the meantime it’s time to congratulate my six newest members of the Shorebird of the Week Hall of Fame, and with the posting of this article I will restore the SotWHoF page to public view.

Update, February 20, 2017. The best-laid plans of mice and men. I had Eddie Gamboa’s name on the list as I fixed the SotWHoF page but some edit must have wiped it out. He waited seven years to make it, though, so what was another two months?