Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Minor League Affiliates

What a USL D1 league might look like

TL;DR: Man with too much time on his hands goes deep down the rabbit hole on a concept this sub already didn’t seem that enthusiastic about. If you really want to skip ahead, CTRL+F “verdict” and it’ll get you there.
Two days ago, u/MrPhillyj2wns made a post asking whether USL should launch a D1 league in order to compete in Concacaf. From the top voted replies, it appears this made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.
But I’ve been at home for eight weeks and I am terribly, terribly bored.
So, I present to you this overview of what the USL pyramid might look like if Jake Edwards got a head of steam and attempted to establish a USSF-sanctioned first division. This is by no means an endorsement of such a proposal or even a suggestion that USL SHOULD do such a thing. It is merely an examination of whether they COULD.
Welcome to the Thunderdome USL Premiership
First, there are some base-level assumptions we must make in this exercise, because it makes me feel more scientific and not like a guy who wrote this on Sunday while watching the Belarusian Premier League (Go BATE Borisov!).
  1. All D1 teams must comply with known USSF requirements for D1 leagues (more on that later).
  2. MLS, not liking this move, will immediately remove all directly-owned affiliate clubs from the USL structure (this does not include hybrid ownerships, like San Antonio FC – NYCFC). This removes all MLS2 teams but will not affect Colorado Springs, Reno, RGVFC and San Antonio.
  3. The USL will attempt to maintain both the USL Championship and USL League One, with an eventual mind toward creating the pro/rel paradise that is promised in Relegations 3:16.
  4. All of my research regarding facility size and ownership net worth is correct – this is probably the biggest leap of faith we have to make, since googling “NAME net worth” and “CITY richest people” doesn’t seem guaranteed to return accurate results.
  5. The most a club can increase its available seating capacity to meet D1 requirements in a current stadium is no more than 1,500 seats (10% of the required 15,000). If they need to add more, they’ll need a new facility.
  6. Let’s pretend that people are VERY willing to sell. It’s commonly acknowledged that the USL is a more financially feasible route to owning a soccer club than in MLS (c.f. MLS-Charlotte’s reported $325 million expansion fee) and the USSF has some very strict requirements for D1 sanctioning. It becomes pretty apparent when googling a lot of team’s owners that this requirement isn’t met, so let’s assume everyone that can’t sells to people who meet the requirements.
(Known) USSF D1 league requirements:
- League must have 12 teams to apply and 14 teams by year three
- Majority owner must have a net worth of $40 million, and the ownership group must have a total net worth of $70 million. The value of an owned stadium is not considered when calculating this value.
- Must have teams located in the Eastern, Central and Pacific time zones
- 75% of league’s teams must be based in markets with at a metro population of at least 1 million people.
- All league stadiums must have a capacity of at least 15,000
The ideal club candidate for the USL Premiership will meet the population and capacity requirements in its current ground, which will have a grass playing surface. Of the USL Championship’s 27 independent/hybrid affiliate clubs, I did not find one club that meets all these criteria as they currently stand.
Regarding turf fields, the USSF does not have a formal policy regarding the ideal playing surface but it is generally acknowledged that grass is superior to turf. 6 of 26 MLS stadiums utilize turf, or roughly 23% of stadiums. We’ll hold a similar restriction for our top flight, so 2-3 of our top flight clubs can have turf fields. Seem fair?
Capacity is going to be the biggest issue, since the disparity between current requirements for the second-tier (5,000) and the first tier (15,000) is a pretty massive gap. Nice club you have there, triple your capacity and you’re onto something. As a result, I have taken the liberty of relocating certain (read: nearly all) clubs to new grounds, trying my utmost to keep those clubs in their current markets and –importantly--, ensure they play on grass surfaces.
So, let’s do a case-by-case evaluation and see if we can put together 12-14 teams that meet the potential requirements, because what else do you have to do?
For each club’s breakdown, anything that represents a chance from what is currently true will be underlined.
Candidate: Birmingham Legion FC
Location (Metro population): Birmingham, Ala. (1,151,801)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Legion Field (FieldTurf, 71,594)
Potential owner: Stephens Family (reported net worth $4 billion)
Notes: Birmingham has a pretty strong candidacy. Having ditched the 5,000-seater BBVA Field for Legion Field, which sits 2.4 miles away, they’ve tapped into the city’s soccer history. Legion Field hosted portions of both the men’s and women’s tournaments at the 1996 Olympics, including a 3-1 U.S. loss to Argentina that saw 83,183 pack the house. The Harbert family seemed like strong ownership contenders, but since the death of matriarch Marguerite Harbert in 2015, it’s unclear where the wealth in the family is concentrated, so the Stephens seem like a better candidate. The only real knock that I can think of is that we really want to avoid having clubs play on turf, so I’d say they’re on the bubble of our platonic ideal USL Prem.
Candidate: Charleston Battery
Location (Metro population): Charleston, S.C. (713,000)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Johnson Hagood Stadium (Grass, ~14,700)
Potential owner: Anita Zucker (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: Charleston’s candidacy isn’t looking great. Already disadvantaged due to its undersized metro population, a move across the Cooper River to Johnson Hagood Stadium is cutting it close in terms of capacity. The stadium, home to The Citadel’s football team, used to seat 21,000, before 9,300 seats on the eastern grandstand were torn down in 2017 to deal with lead paint that had been used in their construction. Renovation plans include adding 3,000 seats back in, which could hit 15,000 if they bumped it to 3,300, but throw in a required sale by HCFC, LLC (led by content-creation platform founder Rob Salvatore) to chemical magnate Anita Zucker, and you’ll see there’s a lot of ifs and ands in this proposal.
Candidate: Charlotte Independence
Location (Metro population): Charlotte, N.C. (2,569, 213)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Jerry Richardson Stadium (Turf, 15,314)
Potential owner: James Goodnight (reported net worth $9.1 billion)
Notes: Charlotte ticks a lot of the boxes. A move from the Sportsplex at Matthews to UNC-Charlotte’s Jerry Richardson stadium meets capacity requirements, but puts them on to the dreaded turf. Regrettably, nearby American Legion Memorial Stadium only seats 10,500, despite a grass playing surface. With a sizeable metro population (sixth-largest in the USL Championship) and a possible owner in software billionaire James Goodnight, you’ve got some options here. The biggest problem likely lies in direct competition for market share against a much better-funded MLS Charlotte side due to join the league in 2021.
Candidate: Hartford Athletic
Location (Metro population): Hartford, Conn. (1,214,295)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Pratt & Whitney Stadium (Grass, 38,066)
Potential owner: Ray Dalio (reported net worth $18.4 billion)
Notes: Okay, I cheated a bit here, having to relocate Hartford to Pratt & Whitney Stadium, which is technically in East Hartford, Conn. I don’t know enough about the area to know if there’s some kind of massive beef between the two cities, but the club has history there, having played seven games in 2019 while Dillon Stadium underwent renovations. If the group of local businessmen that currently own the club manage to attract Dalio to the table, we’re on to something.
Candidate: Indy Eleven
Location (Metro population): Indianapolis, Ind. (2,048,703)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Lucas Oil Stadium (Turf, 62,421)
Potential owner: Jim Irsay (reported net worth of $3 billion)
Notes: Indy Eleven are a club that are SO CLOSE to being an ideal candidate – if it weren’t for Lucas Oil Stadium’s turf playing surface. Still, there’s a lot to like in this bid. I’m not going to lie, I have no idea what current owner and founder Ersal Ozdemir is worth, but it seems like there might be cause for concern. A sale to Irsay, who also owns the NFL Indianapolis (nee Baltimore) Colts, seems likely to keep the franchise there, rather than make a half-mile move to 14,230 capacity Victory Field where the AAA Indianapolis Indians play and expand from there.
Candidate: Louisville City FC
Location (Metro population): Louisville, Ky. (1,297,310)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Lynn Family Stadium (Grass, 14,000, possibly expandable to 20,000)
Potential owner: Wayne Hughes (reported net worth $2.8 billion)
Notes: I’m stretching things a bit here. Lynn Family stadium is currently listed as having 11,700 capacity that’s expandable to 14,000, but they’ve said that the ground could hold as many as 20,000 with additional construction, which might be enough to grant them a temporary waiver from USSF. If the stadium is a no-go, then there’s always Cardinal Stadium, home to the University of Louisville’s football team, which seats 65,000 but is turf. Either way, it seems like a sale to someone like Public Storage founder Wayne Hughes will be necessary to ensure the club has enough capital.
Candidate: Memphis 901 FC
Location (Metro population): Memphis, Tenn. (1,348,260)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Liberty Bowl Stadium (Turf, 58,325)
Potential owner: Fred Smith (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: Unfortunately for Memphis, AutoZone Park’s 10,000 seats won’t cut it at the D1 level. With its urban location, it would likely prove tough to renovate, as well. Liberty Bowl Stadium more than meets the need, but will involve the use of the dreaded turf. As far as an owner goes, FedEx founder Fred Smith seems like a good local option.
Candidate: Miami FC, “The”
Location (Metro population): Miami, Fla. (6,158,824)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Riccardo Silva Stadium (FieldTurf, 20,000)
Potential owner: Riccardo Silva (reported net worth $1 billion)
Notes: Well, well, well, Silva might get his wish for top-flight soccer, after all. He’s got the money, he’s got the metro, and his ground has the capacity. There is the nagging issue of the turf, though. Hard Rock Stadium might present a solution, including a capacity of 64,767 and a grass playing surface. It is worth noting, however, that this is the first profile where I didn’t have to find a new potential owner for a club.
Candidate: North Carolina FC
Location (Metro population): Durham, N.C. (1,214,516 in The Triangle)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Carter-Finley Stadium (Grass/Turf, 57,583)
Potential owner: Steve Malik (precise net worth unknown) / Dennis Gillings (reported net worth of $1.7 billion)
Notes: We have our first “relocation” in North Carolina FC, who were forced to trade Cary’s 10,000-seat WakeMed Soccer Park for Carter-Finley Stadium in Durham, home of the NC State Wolfpack and 57,583 of their closest friends. The move is a whopping 3.1 miles, thanks to the close-knit hub that exists between Cary, Durham and Raleigh. Carter-Finley might be my favorite of the stadium moves in this exercise. The field is grass, but the sidelines are artificial turf. Weird, right? Either way, it was good enough for Juventus to play a friendly against Chivas de Guadalajara there in 2011. Maybe the move would be pushed for by new owner and medical magnate Dennis Gillings, whose British roots might inspire him to get involved in the Beautiful Game. Straight up, though, I couldn’t find a net worth for current owner Steve Malik, though he did sell his company MedFusion for $91 million in 2010, then bought it back for an undisclosed amount and sold it again for $43 million last November. I don’t know if Malik has the juice to meet D1 requirements, but I suspect he’s close.
Candidate: Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Location (Metro population): Pittsburgh, Penn. (2,362,453)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Heinz Field (Grass, 64,450)
Potential owner: Henry Hillman (reported net worth $2.5 billion)
Notes: I don’t know a ton about the Riverhounds, but this move in particular feels like depriving a pretty blue-collar club from its roots. Highmark Stadium is a no-go from a seating perspective, but the Steelers’ home stadium at Heinz Field would more than meet the requirements and have a grass surface that was large enough to be sanctioned for a FIFA friendly between the U.S. WNT and Costa Rica in 2015. As for an owner, Tuffy Shallenberger (first ballot owner name HOF) doesn’t seem to fit the USSF bill, but legendary Pittsburgh industrialist Henry Hillman might. I’m sure you’re asking, why not the Rooney Family, if they’ll play at Heinz Field? I’ll tell you: I honestly can’t seem to pin down a value for the family. The Steelers are valued at a little over a billion and rumors persist that Dan Rooney is worth $500 million, but I’m not sure. I guess the Rooneys would work too, but it’s a definite departure from an owner in Shallenberger who was described by one journalist as a guy who “wears boots, jeans, a sweater and a trucker hat.”
Candidate: Saint Louis FC
Location (Metro population): St. Louis, Mo. (2,807,338)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Busch Stadium (Grass, 45,494)
Potential owner: William DeWitt Jr. (reported net worth $4 billion)
Notes: Saint Louis has some weirdness in making the jump to D1. Current CEO Jim Kavanaugh is an owner of the MLS side that will begin play in 2022. The club’s current ground at West Community Stadium isn’t big enough, but perhaps a timely sale to Cardinals owner William DeWitt Jr. could see the club playing games at Busch Stadium, which has a well established history of hosting other sports like hockey, college football and soccer (most recently a U.S. WNT friendly against New Zealand in 2019). The competition with another MLS franchise wouldn’t be ideal, like Charlotte, but with a big enough population and cross marketing from the Cardinals, maybe there’s a winner here. Wacko idea: If Busch doesn’t pan out, send them to The Dome. Sure, it’s a 60k turf closed-in stadium, but we can go for that retro NASL feel and pay homage to our nation’s soccer history.
Candidate: Tampa Bay Rowdies
Location (Metro population): Tampa, Fla. (3,068,511)
Time zone: Eastern
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Raymond James Stadium (Grass, 65,518)
Potential owner: Edward DeBartolo Jr. (reported net worth $3 billion)
Notes: This one makes me sad. Despite having never been there, I see Al Lang Stadium as an iconic part of the Rowdies experience. Current owner Bill Edwards proposed an expansion to 18,000 seats in 2016, but the move seems to have stalled out. Frustrated with the city’s lack of action, Edwards sells to one-time San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr., who uses his old NFL connections to secure a cushy lease at the home of the Buccaneers in Ray Jay, the site of a 3-1 thrashing of Antigua and Barbuda during the United States’ 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Breather. Hey, we finished the Eastern Conference teams. Why are you still reading this? Why am I still writing it? Time is a meaningless construct in 2020 my friends, we are adrift in the void, fueled only by brief flashes of what once was and what may yet still be.
Candidate: Austin Bold FC
Location (Metro population): Austin, Texas (2,168,316)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Darrel K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (FieldTurf, 95,594)
Potential owner: Michael Dell (reported net worth of $32.3 billion)
Notes: Anthony Precourt’s Austin FC has some unexpected competition and it comes in the form of tech magnate Michael Dell. Dell, were he to buy the club, would be one of the richest owners on our list and could flash his cash in the new first division. Would he have enough to convince Darrel K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (I’m not kidding, that’s its actual name) to go back to a grass surface, like it did from ’96-’08? That’s between Dell and nearly 100,000 UT football fans, but everything can be had for the right price.
Candidate: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Location (Metro population): Colorado Springs, Colo. (738,939)
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Falcon Stadium (FieldTurf, 46,692)
Potential owner: Charles Ergen (reported net worth $10.8 billion)
Notes: Welcome to Colorado Springs. We have hurdles. For the first time in 12 candidates, we’re back below the desired 1 million metro population mark. Colorado Springs actually plans to build a $35 million, 8,000 seat venue downtown that will be perfect for soccer, but in our timeline that’s 7,000 seats short. Enter Falcon Stadium, home of the Air Force Academy Falcons football team. Seems perfect except for the turf, right? Well, the tricky thing is that Falcon Stadium is technically on an active military base and is (I believe) government property. Challenges to getting in and out of the ground aside, the military tends to have a pretty grim view of government property being used by for-profit enterprises. Maybe Charles Ergen, founder and chairman of Dish Network, would be able to grease the right wheels, but you can go ahead and throw this into the “doubtful” category. It’s a shame, too. 6,035 feet of elevation is one hell of a home-field advantage.
Candidate: El Paso Locomotive FC
Location: El Paso, Texas
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Sun Bowl (FieldTurf, 51,500)
Potential owner: Paul Foster (reported net worth $1.7 billion)
Notes: God bless Texas. When compiling this list, I found so many of the theoretical stadium replacements were nearly serviceable by high school football fields. That’s insane, right? Anyway, Locomotive don’t have to settle for one of those, they’ve got the Sun Bowl, which had its capacity reduced in 2001 to a paltry 51,500 (from 52,000) specifically to accommodate soccer. Sure, it’s a turf surface, but what does new owner Paul Foster (who is only the 1,477th wealthiest man in the world, per Forbes) care, he’s got a team in a top league. Side note: Did you know that the Sun Bowl college football game is officially, through sponsorship, the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl? Why is it not the Frosted Flakes Sun Bowl? Why is the cereal mascot the promotional name of the football game? What are you doing, Kellogg’s?
Candidate: Las Vegas Lights FC
Location: Las Vegas, Nev. (2,227,053)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Allegiant Stadium (Grass, 61,000)
Potential owner: Sheldon Adelson (reported net worth $37.7 billion)
Notes: Sin City. You had to know that the club that once signed Freddy Adu because “why not” was going to go all out in our flashy hypothetical proposal. Thanks to my narrative control of this whole thing, they have. Adelson is the second-richest owner in the league and has decided to do everything first class. That includes using the new Raiders stadium in nearby unincorporated Paradise, Nevada, and spending boatloads on high profile transfers. Zlatan is coming back to the U.S., confirmed.
Candidate: New Mexico United
Location: Albuquerque, N.M.
Time zone: Mountain
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Isotopes Park – officially Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park (Grass, 13,500 – 15,000 with expansion)
Potential owner: Maloof Family (reported net worth $1 billion)
Notes: New Mexico from its inception went deep on the community vibe, and I’ve tried to replicate that in this bid. The home field of Rio Grande Cr---I’m not typing out the whole thing—Isotopes Park falls just within the expansion rules we set to make it to 15,000 (weird, right?) and they’ve found a great local ownership group in the Lebanese-American Maloof (formerly Maalouf) family from Las Vegas. The only thing to worry about would be the metro population, but overall, this could be one of the gems of USL Prem.
Candidate: Oklahoma City Energy FC
Location: Oklahoma City, Okla. (1,396,445)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (Grass, 13,066)
Potential owner: Harold Hamm (reported net worth $14.2 billion)
Notes: There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow and it says it’s time to change stadiums and owners to make it to D1. A sale to oil magnate Harold Hamm would give the club the finances it needs, but Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (home of the OKC Dodgers) actually falls outside of the boundary of what would meet capacity if 1,500 seats were added. Could the club pull off a move to Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma – home of the Oklahoma Sooners? Maybe, but at 20 miles, this would be a reach.
Candidate: Orange County SC
Location: Irvine, Calif. (3,176, 000 in Orange County)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Angels Stadium of Anaheim (Grass, 43,250)
Potential owner: Arte Moreno (reported net worth $3.3 billion)
Notes: You’ll never convince me that Rangers didn’t choose to partner with Orange County based primarily on its name. Either way, a sale to MLB Angels owner Arte Moreno produces a fruitful partnership, with the owner choosing to play his newest club out of the existing Angels stadium in OC. Another baseball conversion, sure, but with a metro population of over 3 million and the closest thing this hypothetical league has to an LA market, who’s complaining?
Candidate: Phoenix Rising FC
Location: Phoenix, Ariz. (4,857,962)
Time zone: Arizona
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): State Farm Stadium (Grass, 63,400)
Potential owner: Ernest Garcia II (reported net worth $5.7 billion)
Notes: We’re keeping it local with new owner and used car guru Ernest Garcia II. His dad owned a liquor store and he dropped out of college, which is making me feel amazing about my life choices right now. Casino Arizona Field is great, but State Farm Stadium is a grass surface that hosted the 2019 Gold Cup semifinal, so it’s a clear winner. Throw in Phoenix’s massive metro population and this one looks like a lock.
Candidate: Reno 1868 FC
Location: Reno, Nev. (425,417)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Mackay Stadium (FieldTurf, 30,000)
Potential owner: Nancy Walton Laurie (reported net worth $7.1 billion)
Notes: The Biggest Little City on Earth has some serious barriers to overcome, thanks to its low metro population. A sale to Walmart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie and 1.6 mile-move to Mackay Stadium to split space with the University of Nevada, Reno makes this bid competitive, but the turf surface is another knock against it.
Candidate: Rio Grande Valley FC
Location: Edinburg, Texas (900,304)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): McAllen Memorial Stadium (FieldTurf, 13,500 – 15,000 with expansion)
Potential owner: Alice Louise Walton (reported net worth $45 billion)
Notes: Yes, I have a second straight Walmart heiress on the list. She was the first thing that popped up when I googled “McAllen Texas richest people.” The family rivalry has spurred Walton to buy a club as well, moving them 10 miles to McAllen Memorial Stadium which, as I alluded to earlier, is a straight up high school football stadium with a full color scoreboard. Toss in an additional 1,500 seats and you’ve met the minimum, despite the turf playing surface.
Candidate: San Antonio FC
Location: San Antonio, Texas (2,550,960)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Alamodome (FieldTurf, 64,000)
Potential owner: Red McCombs (reported net worth $1.6 billion)
Notes: I wanted to keep SAFC in the Spurs family, since the franchise is valued at $1.8 billion. That said, I didn’t let the Rooneys own the Riverhounds based on the Steelers’ value and it felt wrong to change the rules, so bring on Clear Channel co-founder Red McCombs. Toyota Field isn’t viable in the first division, but for the Alamodome, which was built in 1993 in hopes of attracting an NFL franchise (and never did), San Antonio can finally claim having *a* national football league team in its town (contingent on your definition of football). Now if only we could do something about that turf…
Candidate: San Diego Loyal SC
Location: San Diego, Calif. (3,317,749)
Time zone: Pacific
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): SDCCU Stadium (formerly Qualcomm) (Grass, 70,561)
Potential owner: Phil Mickelson (reported net worth $91 million)
Notes: Yes, golf’s Phil Mickelson. The existing ownership group didn’t seem to have the wherewithal to meet requirements, and Phil seemed to slot right in. As an athlete himself, he might be interesting in the new challenges of a top flight soccer team. Toss in a move to the former home of the chargers and you might have a basis for tremendous community support.
Candidate: FC Tulsa
Location: Tulsa, Okla. (991,561)
Time zone: Central
Stadium (playing surface, capacity): Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium (FieldTurf, 30,000)
Potential owner: George Kaiser ($10 billion)
Notes: I’m a fan of FC Tulsa’s rebrand, but if they want to make the first division, more changes are necessary. A sale to Tulsa native and one of the 100 richest men in the world George Kaiser means that funding is guaranteed. A move to Chapman Stadium would provide the necessary seats, despite the turf field. While the undersize population might be an issue at first glance, it’s hard to imagine U.S. Soccer not granting a waiver over a less than a 10k miss from the mark.
And that’s it! You made it. Those are all of the independent/hybrid affiliates in the USL Championship, which means that it’s time for our…
VERDICT: As an expert who has studied this issue for almost an entire day now, I am prepared to pronounce which USL Championships could be most ‘ready” for a jump to the USL Prem. A reminder that of the 27 clubs surveyed, 0 of them met our ideal criteria (proper ownership $, metro population, 15,000+ stadium with grass field).
Two of them, however, met almost all of those criteria: Indy Eleven and Miami FC. Those two clubs may use up two of our three available turf fields right from the outset, but the other factors they hit (particularly Silva’s ownership of Miami) makes them difficult, if not impossible to ignore for the top flight.
But who fill in the rest of the slots? Meet the entire 14-team USL Premier League:
Hartford Athletic
Indy Eleven
Louisville City FC
Miami FC
North Carolina FC
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC
Tampa Bay Rowdies
Saint Louis FC
San Antonio FC
New Mexico United
Phoenix Rising FC
Las Vegas Lights FC
Orange County SC
San Diego Loyal SC
Now, I shall provide my expert rationale for each club’s inclusion/exclusion, which can be roughly broken down into four categories.
Firm “yes”
Hartford Athletic: It’s a good market size with a solid stadium. With a decent investor and good community support, you’ve got potential here.
Indy Eleven: The turf at Lucas Oil Stadium is no reason to turn down a 62,421 venue and a metro population of over 2 million.
Louisville City FC: Why doesn’t the 2017 & 2018 USL Cup champion deserve a crack at the top flight? They have the market size, and with a bit of expansion have the stadium at their own SSS. LCFC, you’re in.
Miami FC, “The”: Our other blue-chip recruit on the basis of ownership value, market size and stadium capacity. Yes, that field is turf, but how could you snub Silva’s chance to claim victory as the first division 1 club soccer team to play in Miami?
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: Pittsburgh sacrificed a lot to be here (according to my arbitrary calculations). Their market size and the potential boon of soccer at Heinz Field is an important inclusion to the league.
Saint Louis FC: Willie hears your “Busch League” jokes, Willie don’t care. A huge market size, combined with the absence of an NFL franchise creates opportunity. Competition with the MLS side, sure, but St. Louis has serious soccer history and we’re willing to bet it can support two clubs.
Tampa Bay Rowdies: With a huge population and a massive stadium waiting nearby, Tampa Bay seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up for the USL Prem.
Las Vegas Lights FC: Ostentatious, massive and well-financed, Las Vegas Lights FC is everything that the USL Premier League would need to assert that it didn’t intend to play second fiddle to MLS. Players will need to be kept on a short leash, but this is a hard market to pass up on.
Phoenix Rising FC: Huge population, big grass field available nearby and a solid history of success in recent years. No brainer.
San Diego Loyal SC: New club? Yes, massive population in a market that recently lost an absolutely huge sports presence? Also yes. This could be the USL Prem’s Seattle.
Cautious “yes”
New Mexico United: You have to take a chance on New Mexico United. The club set the league on fire with its social media presence and its weight in the community when it entered the league last season. The market may be slightly under USSF’s desired 1 million, but fervent support (and the ability to continue to use Isotopes Park) shouldn’t be discounted.
North Carolina FC: Carter-Finley’s mixed grass/turf surface is a barrier, to be sure, but the 57,000+ seats it offers (and being enough to offset other fully-turf offerings) is enough to put it in the black.
Orange County SC: It’s a top-tier club playing in a MLB stadium. I know it seems unlikely that USSF would approve something like that, but believe me when I say “it could happen.” Orange County is a massive market and California likely needs two clubs in the top flight.
San Antonio FC: Our third and only voluntary inclusion to the turf fields in the first division, we’re counting on San Antonio’s size and massive potential stadium to see it through.
Cautious “no”
Birmingham Legion FC: The town has solid soccer history and a huge potential venue, but the turf playing surface puts it on the outside looking in.
Memphis 901 FC: Like Birmingham, not much to dislike here outside of the turf playing surface at the larger playing venue.
Austin Bold FC: See the other two above.
FC Tulsa: Everything’s just a little bit off with this one. Market’s slightly too small, stadium has turf. Just not enough to put it over the top.
Firm “no”
Charleston Battery: Small metro and a small potential new stadium? It’s tough to say yes to the risk.
Charlotte Independence: A small new stadium and the possibility of having to compete with an organization that just paid over $300 million to join MLS means it’s best for this club to remain in the USL Championship.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: When a club’s best chance to meet a capacity requirement is to host games at a venue controlled by the military, that doesn’t speak well to a club’s chances.
El Paso Locomotive FC: An undersized market and a turf field that meets capacity requirements is the death knell for this one.
Oklahoma City Energy FC: Having to expand a baseball field to meet requirements is a bad start. Having to potentially play 20 miles away from your main market is even worse.
Reno 1868 FC: Population nearly a half-million short of the federation’s requirements AND a turf field at the hypothetical new stadium makes impossible to say yes to this bid.
Rio Grande Valley FC: All the seat expansions in the world can’t hide the fact that McAllen Memorial Stadium is a high school stadium through and through.
Here’s who’s left in the 11-team Championship:
Birmingham Legion FC
Charleston Battery
Charlotte Independence
Memphis 901 FC
Austin Bold FC
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
El Paso Locomotive FC
Oklahoma City Energy FC
Reno 1868 FC
Rio Grande Valley FC
FC Tulsa
With MLS folding the six affiliates it has in USL League One, the league is a little bit thin (especially considering USSF’s requirements for 8 teams for lower level leagues), but seems definitely able to expand up to the necessary numbers with Edwards’ allusions to five new additions this year:
Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
Forward Madison FC
Greenville Triumph SC
Union Omaha
Richmond Kickers
South Georgia Tormenta
FC Tucson
Format of Assorted Leagues – This (like everything in this post) is pure conjecture on my part, but here are my thoughts on how these leagues might function in a first year while waiting for additional expansion.
USL Premier – We’ll steal from the 12-team Scottish Premiership. Each club plays the other 11 clubs 3 times, with either one or two home matches against each side. When each club has played 33 matches, the top six and bottom six separate, with every club playing an additional five matches (against each other team in its group). The top club wins the league. The bottom club is automatically relegated. The second-bottom club will enter a two-legged playoff against someone (see below) from the championship playoffs.
USL Championship -- 11 clubs is a challenge to schedule for. How about every club plays everyone else three times (either one or two home matches against each side)? Top four clubs make the playoffs, which are decided by two-legged playoffs. The winner automatically goes up. I need feedback on the second part – is it better to have the runner-up from the playoffs face the second-bottom club from the Premiership, or should the winner of the third-place match-up get the chance to face them to keep drama going in both playoff series? As for relegation, we can clearly only send down the last place club while the third division is so small.
USL League One – While the league is so small, it doesn’t seem reasonable to have the clubs play as many matches as the higher divisions. Each club could play the other six clubs four times – twice at home and twice away – for a very equitable 24-match regular season, which would help restrict costs and still provide a chance to determine a clear winner. Whoever finishes top of the table goes up.
And there you have it, a hypothetical look at how the USL could build a D1 league right now. All it would take is a new stadium for almost the entire league and new owners for all but one of the 27 clubs, who wouldn’t feel that their property would be massively devalued if they got relegated.
Well that’s our show. I’m curious to see what you think of all of this, especially anything that you think I may have overlooked (I’m sure there’s plenty). Anyway, I hope you’re all staying safe and well.
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Better Know the (ones left off the) Ballot #7: Jamey Wright

Happy New Decade! It's a new year, and that means there are less than three weeks until the results of the Hall of Fame Ballot come out! It seems like in order to hit that deadline, I may have to cut some corners, but we should get through it somehow. With that being said, again, you can catch up at the bottom, and now our feature presentation

Jamey Wright

Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor: 10
Career bWAR (19 years): 10.2
Stats: 97-130, 4.81 ERA, 719 G, 248 GS, 2 SV, 1.545 WHIP, 1189 K
League Leading Stats: 2x Hit Batsmen (18, 2000/20, 2001)
Awards: None
Teams Played For: *deep breath* Rockies (1996-1999, 2004-2005), Brewers (2000-2002), Cardinals (2002), Royals (2003, 2009), Giants (2006), Rangers (2007-2008), Indians (2010), Mariners (2010-2011), Dodgers (2012, 2014), Rays (2013)
Show of hands, who remembers Jamey Wright? Wow! Six whole hands? More than I expected, honestly. Jamey Wright was never the pitcher who grabbed the spotlight. He was never really on the stage, even. He just showed up, did his job, and kept showing up for 19 years because he kept getting work. Let's take a look at the work he did.
Jamey Wright began his journey as the first draft pick the Colorado Rockies made as an active franchise, taken 28th overall in the 1993 MLB Draft. He was an okay sinkerballer for his first couple years in the minors, but started collecting some hype prior to the 1996 season. He'd had a 2.47 ERA in A+ ball at 20 years old, leading him to being named the 2nd best Rockies prospect and the 66th best prospect in the league by Baseball America. That year, he would post a minor league ERA of 1.90 en route to an invitation to the big dance. Now, one might look at his 4-4 record and 4.93 ERA in 15 games started and think "well, that didn't go very well." Allow me to remind you, Jamey Wright was pitching in the MLB for the first time, as a member of the Colorado Rockies, in 1996. It's a miracle his ERA wasn't in double digits. Because Jamey still had a throwing arm attached to his shoulder for the next several seasons, the Rockies stuck with him. After four years and over 500 innings in 91 games started, Wright boasted a career 5.57 ERA. This is not a good ERA. However, due to him pitching in Coors during the heart of the Steroid Era before the Rockies decided a humidor was a good idea, his bWAR total sat at a not-all-that-bad 4.0. Nevertheless, after the 1999 season, the Rockies, in a trade for Jeff Cirillo, sent Wright to the Brewers. Wright kept pitching, but appeared to have either some issues with his control or an anger management problem, hitting a total of 49 batters in almost three years in Milwaukee. Wright got traded to St. Louis in 2002 for a couple Pokemon cards and a Beanie Baby, pitched in 4 games for them, and didn't leave enough of an impression to warrant an additional contract. At this point, Jamey's career was not in a good place. A career ERA of 5.17 is not a good look for someone about to enter free agency, no matter what era you happen to play in or what stadium may have inflated it. Of course, if he stopped there, I wouldn't be talking about him.
In 2003, Wright signed with the Mariners in January, but got released before spring training was out, coming back to the Brewers on a minor league deal. Now, I've only touched on one season of Wright's minor league pitching, but whenever Colorado would send him down to work on his game, he killed it. When the Brewers sent him down in 2000 and he started four games for their minor league affiliates, after those 4 games his minor league ERA was 0.52. There were exceptions, like 1999 when his AAA ERA was actually higher than it was in the Major Leagues, but for the most part he was solid as a rock in the minors. 2003 would prove to be another exception. In 7 games for the Brewers AAA affiliate the Indianapolis Indians, Wright's ERA sat at 7.36, and his contract sat at nonexistent anymore because the Brewers released him. The Rangers gave him a minor league deal, but after seven starts of 4.12 ERA, they bid him farewell once again. Finally, the Kansas City Royals gave him a call, and after 12 starts for the Omaha Royals he was in a royal blue KC uniform. His first game back in the majors, he pitched a complete game against the defending World Series Champions the Anaheim Angels. Problem: the Royals lost. The next game, against the juggernaut that was the 38-win Detroit Tigers, Wright pitched a Complete-Game Shutout striking out 7. This brought his career total of complete games to 6, where it would stay for the rest of his career, meaning though he only ever started four games for the Royals, they account for one third of his complete games. The other two starts did not go well, and Jamey was left with a 4.26 ERA at the end off the year, but he had shown he was far from done.
In a season where the Royals won 83 games despite 15 different pitchers starting at least 2 games for them, they made the questionable decision to dismiss Wright, and went with one of their draft picks named Zack... Greenkey, I think? His last name looks weird. They also kept Chris "I had a 7.11 ERA in 18 starts" George around, but let Wright walk. Lord knows why. He went to the Cubs for spring training, they decided they didn't want him and he opted for free agency right before April of 2004. The Royals, seemingly repenting, signed Wright to a minor league deal, but after a pedestrian 4.21 ERA for Omaha by mid-July, they once again let him walk. The baseball gods punished them for their stupidity with a 104-loss season. Now what would you expect a 29-year-old pitcher who just got cut from an AAA team to do in this situation? He'd have plenty of time to fine tune his pitches, see if he could add to his arsenal, and work his way back to the majors with renewed determination and a fire under his ass, right? Well, Wright was unemployed for less than 24 hours, because the Rockies, God bless 'em, picked up the phone and got him back on the Major League roster. He would put up a 2-3 record with a 4.16 ERA in 14 starts for them through the end of the year.
The next several years were sink-or-swim for Wright in the MLB. Get it? Because he throws a sinker? I spend hours refining my comedic form. The Rockies brought him back and kept him in the starting rotation for most of 2005, where he would go 8-16 with a 5.46 ERA, and since the humidors got turned on and the steroids had worn off, this was no longer acceptable on the Rockies. He was eventually moved to the bullpen late in the year, shortly followed by his ninth trip to Free-Agency-ville. The Giants picked him up, he gave them 6-10 with a 5.17 ERA, and they sent him on FA trip number ten. He pitched, primarily out of the bullpen, for Texas, Kansas City again, and Cleveland. Consistently not good enough to re-sign but not bad enough to release, June 2010 marked the end of that run when Cleveland released him. Soon enough, he found himself on the Mariners major league squad, and in his age 35 season, gave Seattle 37 innings of 3.41 ERA ball. This was his best ERA for a team over the course of a season in his career. They brought him back for 2011, and he again put up his best ERA over a whole season at 3.16, again out of the bullpen. Somehow, at the point where he was supposed to have been out of the league for a while, Wright got better. His fastball could barely touch 90, he was eligible to run for President of the United States, and yet he improved his stuff. His next five seasons out of the bullpen with the Mariners, Rays, and Dodgers, he put up a combined 15-15 record with a 3.68 ERA. That is lower than any of his full season ERAs from before 2006. He even pitched in his first postseason game with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013 at the blossoming age of 38, after a season in which he again posted the lowest ERA of his career at 3.09. To put his last five seasons into perspective, without them, Wright's career ERA is 5.03 (if ya don't recall, his lifetime ERA is in fact 4.81). Unfortunately, the magic would not continue, as after sitting out the 2015 season and not making the Dodgers' roster, he called it a career in 2016 at 41. Maybe if he kept going and trends kept up he'd eventually pitch a perfect game at age 53, who knows.
If I were to compare Jamey Wright to a football player, it'd be Josh McCown. Always there, hardly ever relevant, but as they both age they both become more interesting, and somehow keep finding work. They also have enough different jerseys in their closet to clothe a small battalion. Wright's story is a quirky one, as this article can attest, but he kept at it until he couldn't anymore, which is admirable. And hey, how many pitchers do you know that had a 6+ ERA in one of their first couple seasons and then stuck around for like 10+ years? Roy WHOlladay?
Despite his 5.40 career ERA and 35-52 record with them, it wouldn't be right if Jamey were to visit the Hall of Fame in anything but a Rockies cap.
Here's every other entry in this series if you want to catch up on it. They're here if you don't, too.
#1 Nate McLouth
#2: Kyle Farnsworth
#3: Ryan Ludwick
#4: Joe Saunders
#5: Jason Bartlett
#6: Mark Ellis
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A thousand words wasn't enough? Here's five thousand.

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2018 r/baseball Power Rankings -- Week 5: Dodgers Are Back, Brewers / Rays Both Roll, Twins Topple, Phillies and Nationals: A Tale of Four Ranks, Reds / Red Sox Hold Strong

Have you been Around the Horn today?
Hey Sportsfans--it's time for Week 5 of baseball's Power Rankings-near the end of April, 2013, I borrowed 30 reddit users and went down to baseball on Reddit, nearest to where I intended to build my project, and began to cut down big biases, still in their youth, for our betterment. It is difficult to begin without borrowing, but perhaps it is the most generous course thus to permit your fellow-men to have an interest in your expertise.
Every voter has their own style / system and the only voting instructions are these:
"To an extent determined individually, you must take into account how strong a team is likely to be going forward. You must, to some degree, give weight to the events and games of the previous week."
Edit: There was ONE TIE this week! Between the #18 and #19 teams. The first tie breaker, median vote toal, was used.
TRANSPARENCY: this link will show you who voted each team where and has added neat statistics!
Week 5 Featured Voter: There is none this week mostly cause I'm dumb.
If something is a little messed up, feel free to pester me let me know.
Total Votes: 30 of 30. Batting .400 with perfect vote weeks..
# Team Δ Comment Record
1 Red Sox 0 Not much to say. Our pitching looks great, and so does our offense. We are firing on all cylinders. At Toronto for a tough 3 games against a team that was super hot lately (until cooling down this weekend. Wait, we did that too). Home against the Rays over the weekend. This team has been a lot of fun to watch, and it's downright impressive getting no hit. 17-4
2 Astros 0 No, you suck. 16-7
3 D-Backs +1 The Diamondbacks still haven't lost a series this season as they took 2 of 3 from both the Giants and the Padres at Chase Field. Taijuan Walker is out for the rest of the season with a torn UCL, but Patrick Corbin has been pitching better than ever, so perhaps the D-backs can weather Tai's absence. Jake Lamb and Steven Souza look to return to the lineup soon, which should give the D-backs offense quite a boost. 15-6
4 Indians +2 The Tribe is coming off another short week, going 3-2 but the bats have come alive and the starting pitching continues to dazzle (1.72 ERA, 5 quality starts this week). 11-8
5 Mets 0 It feels like we really suck, but we don't really... yet 14-6
6 Angels -3 Angels run differential before last Monday: 48 Angels run differential before this Monday: 16 It was that kind of week. 14-8
7 Yankees 0 A 4-2 week is certainly encouraging. Torres is here! Andujar might be the real star for now, though, and I'm wondering how long he can stay hot? Hopefully long enough for Bird to come back, which should be soon as he's joining extended Spring Training this week. Also, the Yankees started a lineup of all players under 30 last week, which is the first time that's happened since 1989. So, basically I'm excited about everything except for being 5.5 games behind Boston. 11-9
8 Cardinals +3 Weather-punctuated week for the Cards, split 2 games of a 3.5 game series in Chicago and swept the Reds in 3. Pham, Ozuna and DeDong are looking good, CarMart, Weaver and Mikolas have been a solid trio 13-8
9 Cubs -1 The Cubs split with the Cardinals and won the Rockies series. Kris Bryant took a terrifying fastball to the head, but his health status seem positive given the circumstances. Javier Baez continues to be a dominant offensive force, and the starting pitching remains hot and cold (but mostly cold). Rumors of the Cubs' offensive death was greatly exaggerated; in their past six games, the Cubs have averaged more than eight runs per game. 10-9
10 Dodgers +2 It's feels like things are starting to click with this team. The Blue Crew swept the Dads at Dodger Stadium South, then took a series from the Walgreens at the real Dodger Stadium. Interestingly, the only loss was a Kershaw start. The offense scored 6.7 runs per game this week, and that includes the 2 they put up against Scherzer. We're about to get another look at top prospect Walker Buehler, who starts today against the Fish. The time to jump on the hype train is now! 10-10
11 Blue Jays +2 The Jays went 4-3 this week, and lost back to back games for only the 2nd time all season. Despite being 13-8, having a top 10 bullpen and solid offense, the Jays are seriously being held back by what should've been their biggest strength: their rotation. Arguably the Jays best starter is J.A. Happ (3rd best K rate amongst qualified AL starters, behind only Cole and Sale), with Stroman, Sanchez, and Estrada all under performing so far. 13-8
12 Phillies +4 Phillies’ home magic continues by sweeping the previously-division-leading Bucs to go 9-1 at home so far. 14-7
13 Nationals -4 Going 3/6 against the Mets and Dodgers is nothing to sneeze at, but this team is going to have to start racking up wins at a higher clip if they want to be where we know they can be. Injuries have been rough so far too, but there's nothing going on right now that's cause for panic. If we're still below .500 in a month, then maybe it's time to get nervous. 10-12
14 Brewers +5 Winning 6 of 7 is always a good feeling, we can leave out the fact it was the Reds and Marlins. Josh Hader is continuing to be a dominate bullpen force with several 2 inning saves. Eric Thames single-handidly won the two games against the Reds and the Marlins make everyone love dingers 14-9
15 Braves 0 The Braves have faced only one opponent with a losing record so far — the Washington Nationals, who won't stay there for long — and have the best run differential in the National League at +34. Personally, my hope for the early section of this season was just to stay afloat until Ronald Acuña Jr. and others like Luiz Gohara were ready to go, but most of the team has excelled beyond expectations. There's no better representative for the Braves' success than Dansby Swanson, who is currently slashing .342/.381/.544 and ranks among the elite MLB shortstops with 1.5 bWA1.0 fWAR. 12-8
16 Twins -6 I'm going to blame this one on all the time off. We split a pair in Puerto Rico with the Indians, then our bullpen floundered terribly against the Rays and we got swept. We got five games in instead of four (yay). The offense is fine, Dozier continues to get a hit every game, Mauer decided walks are as good as singles, and LoMo is starting to get going. Oh, and Berrios is a stud. 8-8
17 Pirates -3 Blergh. The Pirates played 7 games this week and won only once. The offense started the year at an insane level, and was due to regress, but I didn't think it would regress like THIS. The Bucs only scored more than 2 runs in one game— the game they won, coincidentally— and were shut out twice. Jameson Taillon got shelled and the bullpen melted down in several inopportune moments. The Pirates are now in third place and their playoff odds are 7.7%, lower than they were at the start of the year. Detroit and St. Louis come to town this week 12-10
18 Rockies -1 Jon Gray's terrible start to the season is starting to actually get worrisome, but the rest of the team is performing about as expected through one month. Dahl was recalled from aaa thank god and will hopefully permanently fill one of the corner outfield voids 12-11
19 Mariners -1 20 games into the season and the Mariners are essentially the team people expected. Starting pitching is an issue. The bullpen outside of Diaz is iffy. Position players are our current strength - Cano, Cruz, Haniger, Segura, and Gordon are all playing excellent baseball. Management needs to get their act together... Heredia doesn't deserve to be in AAA right now and we need SP help ASAP. 11-9
20 Athletics +1 SEAN MANAEA THREW THE FIRST NO HITTER OF THE 2018 SEASON. Jed Lowrie has been red hot this last week, and now he's batting .367. We swept the White Sox to start out the week, letting everyone come in for free in honor of the team's 50th anniversary in Oakland. Matt Olson was the hero during the 14 inning affair the next day. Then we took 2 of 3 from the hottest team in baseball. If this is as good as the A's can be, watch out second wild card spot. 11-11
21 Giants -1 The Giants won 3 World Series in this decade on the back of a small ball centric offense. They have now become a team that lives and dies by the dong. The Giants went 3-3 against the Dbacks and Angels over the week, scoring 20 runs over the 6 games. All but 4 of those runs scored via the long ball. Evan Longoria, who started his Giants tenure on an 0-15 skid, is now swinging a red-hot bat, and Brandon Belt is riding a 4-game home run streak and now holds the record for most pitches seen in a single at-bat. Mac Williamson finally got called up for the Anaheim series and promptly went 434 feet to the opposite field. We'll see how the new homer-crazed Giants fare returning to cavernous AT&T Park this week as they'll host the Nationals for 3 and the Dodgers for 4 because rainouts are dumb. Also pls no HarpeStrickland brawl this time. 9-12
22 Rays +5 It only took three weeks, but Kiermaier is already out with an injury. The team is well equipped to handle his DL stint with Mallex, Span, Gomez and Field seeing time in the OF. In the rotation, Yonny Chirinos has been promoted from “bullpen day” to “real starter”. He and Snell have been very impressive in the starters role. The team will need strong SP to hang in the division. 8-13
23 Tigers +3 Playing a pair of terrible teams resulted in a 5-2 week, so this might be the high water mark of the season. That said, only three of the next 13 games are against teams above .500, so who knows, the Kitties might even get to .500! Jeimer Candelario has taken a liking to the 2 hole in front of Miguel, but the bottom half of the lineup remains toothless. This week: 3 at PIT, 3 at BAL. 9-11
24 Rangers -2 Now that the Rangers' starting pitching is starting to come around, it's the bullpen's turn to struggle. Isiah Kiner-Falefa has been a welcome relief in replacing Rougned Odor temporarily. If he continues to play as he has thus far, management will hopefully have a decision on their hands. 8-15
25 Padres -2 Batting average is an often overused metric, but the Pads only have one hitter with more than 20 at bats sporting a batting average over 260. Will Myers spent some time this week rehabbing for the Lake Elsinore Storm, our single A affiliate. I recommened you all to go see a game at their nice little ballpark. While there, head over to Pepe's in Canyon Lake. I remember them having amazing Fajitas, though this was over ten years ago. 8-15
26 Orioles -2 Dylan Bundy currently sits atop the fWAR pitching leaderboard at 1.4 with a 1.42/1.99 ERA/FIP while Manny Machado is 3rd amongst all hitters at 1.6 with a .356/.434/.713 line. They've been a joy to watch this year. The rest of the team...hasn't. Bundy and Machado: 3.0 fWAR. Everyone else: -1.7 fWAR. 6-16
27 Royals +1 It took until April 20, but the Royals finally won a game where the opponent scored a run. They even managed to split a series, even if it was against the lowly Tigers. Although, given the state of the Royals right now, I shouldn't refer to any team as "lowly." Oh well, at least Mark Redman isn't starting games for KC, unless he changed his name to Erik Skoglund. 5-15
28 White Sox -3 The White Sox have scored two or fewer runs in seven of their last eight games. On the bright side, they lead the American League in stolen bases with 19. The Sox have led the American League in stolen bases a record 30 times, so fans can take pride in their club as the team goes for a historic 31st American League Stolen Base Crown this season. 4-14
29 Marlins 0 Last week: 1-1 against the Yankees, 0-4 against the Brewers. Spin: For a moment there, I thought the Fish might earn themselves a .500 week! Even though we got swept up by the Brew Crew, it was a breath of fresh air to watch J.T. Realmuto on the major-league field again. Obviously, 4 games is a small sample size, but 5-for-12 with 2 walks is a big step up from what we've been getting so far this season! Everyone else, take notes. Up next: 3 @ LAD, 3 vs. COL. 5-16
30 Reds 0 Well, the Reds have a new manager. I don't think having Jim Riggleman run the team is going to change anything, but it was nice seeing the Reds in the news for a brief amount of time. Going forward, I'd love to see Girardi managing the team next year. But it's probably going to be Barry Larkin to appease the fans, and that would be a terrible mistake. 3-18
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The All Sad Team

I am here today to present you with something that was not easy to make, and should not be viewed if you are easily disturbed. I have spent hours poring over stats so terrible they could make a baby cry. So strap yourselves in, ladies and gentlemen, for this is what I call, The All Sad Team.
I will be using BBREF for all of my statistics.
Starting Pitcher - Kevin Jarvis
Career WAR: -3.9
Pitching WAR: -4.5
Offensive WAR: 0.6
The worst pitcher of all time.
Kevin Jarvis was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 21st round of the 1991 June amateur draft going 561st overall. In his first season of professional baseball, Jarvis went 5-6 with a 2.42 ERA in 85.2 innings pitched with 79 strikeouts and a 1.19 WHIP in rookie ball. A small, but good sample size. In his next season, he was moved up to single A, where he went 6-8 with a 3.09 ERA in 134.0 Innings pitched with 131 strikeouts and a 1.20 WHIP. Things were looking good for Jarvis, he had found success in his first two seasons and was making his way to the majors at a fast pace. In his third season of pitching, Jarvis started the season in single A. After 20 starts there, he was called up to AA, finishing the season 11-8 with a 3.06 ERA in 182.1 innings split between the two leagues. After showing competence in AAA, going 10-2 with a 3.54 ERA, he got the magical phone call telling him he was headed for the show. In his first tastes of the big leagues, he went 1-1 with a 7.13 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched. Now this was not surprising. Not every player is going to excel when he first reaches the majors, in fact, it’s expected of rookies to struggle. And with the belief of his ceiling being a mid tier starter, he remained on the roster going into the 1995 season. This is where things got bad. From 1995 to 1997, Jarvis went 11-17 with a 6.33 ERA in 267.1 innings pitched. Frustrated with his performance, Jarvis tried his hand at Japanese baseball, but after only 16.1 innings pitched with lukewarm success He returned to the states to sign with Oakland on a minor league contract. In 1999, after putting up okay stats in AAA, and an abysmal 14.0 innings in the majors, Jarvis looked to be done. But still wanting to play, he signed a major league deal with the Rockies. He did not do well there. But he didn’t care, he just wanted to play ball. Before the 2001 season, he signed a major league contract with the Padres, and guess what, SUCCESS WAS FOUND. He went 12-11 with a 4.79 ERA over 193.1 innings pitched and a 1.5 WAR. In 2002, he was on pace to be even better than he was the previous season, but after an injury that cut his season short after only 7 starts, things were never the same. From 2003 to 2006 he went 5-11 with a 6.96 ERA over 138.1 innings pitched with 6 different organizations. After the 2006 season, Jarvis retired with a record of 34-49 with a 6.03 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP over 780.2 innings pitched, netting him the title of the worst pitcher of all time. He was also somehow worth 0.6 oWAR, with a slash of .223/.207/.431 over 229 plate appearances... baseball is really weird.
Starting Catcher - Bill Bergen
Career WAR: -13.5
Offensive WAR: -15.0
Defensive WAR: 7.9
The worst hitter of all time.
I’m going to keep this one short and to the point. Bergen was bad, like, really bad. He was so bad that in the history of baseball, the player with the second lowest oWAR is Tommy Thevenow with -8.1, 6.9 points ahead Bergen. Bergen had 3,028 career at bats. Over those at bats he slugged a slashline of .194/.202/.395. Of players that have over 2500 career at bats, Bergen ranks last in AVG, OBP, SLG, runs, hits, doubles, runs batted in, walks, and is tied for last in homeruns with Thevenow. Hearing these stats makes you wonder, “How in the hell did he remain in the league that long?” Well, Old Berg could play a mean backstop. He (and I say this with a grain of salt considering the data from so long ago is hardly accurate, but I don't really care) was the best defensive catcher of the 1900s, which made up for his shortcomings as hitter. But even with the dazzling defense behind the plate, his highest single season WAR was still an embarrassing -0.5 over 320 plate appearances. He is unequivocally the worst player of all time.
Starting First Baseman: Brandon Wood
Career WAR: -3.7
Offensive WAR: -2.5
Defensive WAR: -0.5
The slugger that couldn’t slug.
You probably already know about the great Brandon Wood. If you were following baseball at the time of his rise you were probably caught in his hype, and how could you not? Wood was drafted by the Anaheim Angels in the 1st round of the 2003 June amateur draft going 23rd overall. Wood started in rookie ball at the age of 18. In his first 61 games, he slashed .348/.471/.819 with 21 doubles, 4 triples, 5 homeruns and 44 runs batted in. A great debut for someone so young. In his next season, he moved to single A, where he regressed to a .322/.404/.726, but good enough to land him at #83 on Baseball America's top 100 prospect list going into the 2005 season. This is where he got exciting. In 134 for games split between A+ and AAA (almost all of it coming in A+), Wood mashed .381/.667/1.047 with 53 doubles, 43 homeruns, and 116 runs batted in. After that season there was no doubt that he was the best hitting prospect in baseball. He shot up to #3 on the prospects list going into the 2006 season. But of course, everyone has their problems, and Woods problem was that he swung a bat that had a hole the size of Texas in it. In his first three seasons of professional baseball, Wood struck out 314 times, compared to 114 walks. But with numbers like what he put up, it was hard to see someone that good fail. In the 2006 season, Wood hit .355/.552/.907 over 118 games in AA. Entering the 2007 season, Wood was ranked #8 on the top prospects list. During the season, Wood posted an .835 OPS in AAA over 111 games. There was no doubt, Wood was ready to mash in the big leagues, and at the ripe age of 22, he made his debut. Going 0-4 with 2 strikeouts in an 11-3 blowout against the Rays. Wood finished the season with a .152/.273/.424 line over 33 at bats, with 12 strikeouts, 0 walks. He started the next season in AAA where he was still ranked highly at #18. He continued to slug, with a line of .375/.595/.970 and 31 homeruns. With this much success over 5 seasons in the minors, it was easy to get excited for what this kid could actually do in the majors. I’m guessing you already know what happens, right? He fails, hard. Wood gets called up once again. This time with a line of .224/.327/.551 over 157 plate appearances. Over that time, he hit 5 homeruns with 43 strikeouts and only 4 walks. He spends the next 3 years bouncing between AAA in the majors. In his time in the majors, he slugged .229/.279/.508 over 561 plate appearances. Over the span of those three years, he had only 12 homeruns, 13 doubles, and struck out 163 times against 28 walks. Wood was last seen in 2014 playing for the Sugar Land Skeeters in the Atlantic League, hitting .156/.159/.314 with 1 homerun over 90 plate appearances. Wood retired with a sad slash of .225/.289/.513 over 751 plate appearances with 18 homeruns, 218 strikeouts, and only 32 walks. He is the ultimate what could have been, but so is the way of baseball.
Starting Second Baseman: Vic Harris
Career WAR: -6.2
Offensive WAR: -0.1
Defensive WAR: -5.4
The unbreakable record.
Let me tell you about the magnificent Vic Harris. Harris was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the first round of the 1970 MLB January draft-secondary phase going 9th overall. Projected as a toolsy centerfielder with a high ceiling, it was easy to see why he went so early. Harris started his professional baseball career during the 1970 season in A- ball, where he batted a fine .392/.441/.833 over 326 Plate appearances with 12 doubles and 30 stolen bases. He followed the 1970 season with another strong performance in 1971, hitting .392/.419/.811 over 535 plate appearances with 27 doubles and 39 stolen bases. After continuing this success into the 1972 season, hitting .355/.419/.774 in 96 games split between AA and AAA, he was traded to the Texas Rangers in July, and made his major league debut for them the following day. He spent the rest of the season as the Rangers' regular second baseman, replacing an injured Lenny Randle. Now this is the magnificent part about Vic Harris. Vic Harris started his career 0-36 with 11 strikeouts. 0-36. 0. For. 36. How? HOW?? HOW WAS HE NOT BENCHED??? Vic Harris had the worst start by a major league player in the history of baseball, and I HIGHLY doubt that there will ever be anyone with a start that horribly ever again. Harris ends the season with a slash of .192/.177/.369 with 5 doubles, 1 triple, 0 homeruns, and 7 stolen bases over 198 plate appearances with a -1.6 WAR. The 1973 season rolls around and third baseman Dave Nelson is moved to second base to make room for recently traded for Jim Fregosi. Harris is (I don’t know why he remained in the majors, I really don’t. Someone please tell me why he wasn’t banned from baseball for being so bad) moved to centerfield, the position he had played his whole minor league career, and his numbers show a little bit of an improvement. In his first full season of major league baseball, Harris hits .317/.342/.659 with 14 doubles, 7 triples, 8 homeruns and 13 stolen bases (he was also caught stealing 12 times) over 618 plate appearances. He actually hits for a positive oWAR, being worth 1.9, but sadly, the part of his brain where he kept the knowledge of playing centerfield dies and he has a -2.1 dWAR, making his season worth -0.3 WAR. After the 1973 season, Harris is traded to the Cubs. There he becomes a utility man, mostly playing second since he was too much of a liability in the outfield. He spends the next 5 years between Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco hitting .285/.287/.572 over 887 plate appearances. In 1979, after being released by the giants, Harris signs a minor league deal with the Brewers, playing 142 games with their AAA club with moderate success. Harris gets a spot as a utility man once again during the 1980 season, where he promptly slashes .304/.315/.619 over 103 plate appearances. He is again released and decides to try playing in Japan, where he becomes a successful everyday player for the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes. Following 3 years of success in Japan, Harris returns to the states to sign a minor league contract with St. Louis. He hits .324/.353/.677 at the age of 34. He is once again released, and after not being able to get a contract anywhere, Harris retires after the 1984 season. Harris ends his career with a batting line of .287/.295/.582 over 1806 plate appearances. Vic Harris will be remembered for having the worst start to a career, a record that will probably never be beaten.
Starting Shortstop: Jim Levey
Career WAR: -7.5
Offensive WAR: -3.8
Defensive WAR: -0.9
The football player.
Jim Levey is something of an oddity. He played, and was bad at, baseball AND football. Levey played at the major league level for only 4 seasons, but oh boy, he sure did do a lot over those 4 seasons. The St. Louis Browns, much like the modern day football team, were quite bad. In 1930, after already losing 86 games and having no chance at winning the American League, manager Bill Killefer went looking through his minor league teams for someone to replace star shortstop Red Kress after he had been injured. The best the poor man could cough up was a young Jim Levey. Levey (this data is a little incomplete, but I’ll make do) had shown some promise playing with the Browns single A affiliate, the Wichita Falls Spudders. After batting .289 with 42 doubles, 5 triples, and 16 homeruns over 662 at bats, Levey was called up to play the last 8 games in Kress’ absence. Over those 8 games Levey hit .300/.297/.597 with 2 doubles and 3 runs batted in. Going into the 1931 season, Kress was moved to third base so Levey could play everyday shortstop. In his first full season, Levey slashed .264/.285/.549 with 19 doubles, 2 triples, and 5 homeruns over 540 plate appearances. Now, Levey wasn’t very good at shortstop, and when you pair really bad hitting with bad fielding, you get a player with a -3.1 WAR. The Browns continued to be terrible in the 1931 season, finishing 63-91, so Levey fit right in. The next season was Leveys best offensive season, mashing .310/.382/.692 with 30 doubles, eight triples, 4 homeruns over 604 plate appearances, and was good for 0.9 oWAR, but since he was bad at fielding, he was still worth -0.4 WAR. His fourth and final season was by far his worst. In his 1933 season, Levey hit .237/.240/.477 with 10 doubles, 4 triples, and 2 homeruns over 567 plate appearances. In that season, he was worth -3.9 WAR, the lowest in professional baseball to that point. After the 1933 season, Levey stepped away from baseball to pursue a career in the National Football League. Before the 1934 season, Levey tried out for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and made the struggling team. In his first year of professional football, he made 9 attempts and gained 69 yards, averaging 7.7 yards per attempt. In 1935, he rushed the ball 42 times, averaging only 1.5 yards a rush, gaining 61 yards. He did score two touchdowns in 1935, and he scored two more as a receiver, as he caught seven passes for 112 yards. 1936 was his final year with the Pirates, as he played in four games and rushed the ball four times, gaining three yards for a 0.8 average. Overall, Levey played in 13 NFL games, rushing the ball 55 times and gaining 133 yards, scoring two touchdowns and averaging 2.4 yards per attempt. After the 1936 season, Levey returned to baseball, where he became a minor league journeyman before retiring at the age of 38. Levey retired with a batting line of .272/.305/.567 over 1751 plate appearances. Jim Levey was one of the first multi sport athletes, but that’s all he’ll be remembered for.
Starting Third Baseman: Kim Batiste
Career WAR: -4.4
Offensive WAR: -2.0
Defensive WAR: -1.7
The hero.
Kim Batiste was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 3rd round of the 1987 June amateur draft going 78th overall. Batiste was a slick fielding shortstop praised for his soft hands and contact ability, but in fact, he was quite bad at both. In his first 5 seasons of professional baseball, between -A-AAA, Batiste hit a meger .281/.350/631 with only 78 doubles, 21 triples, 18 homeruns, and only 52 walks over 2,025 plate appearances. He just was not good at all, but when Phillies shortstop Dickie Thon was injured with 12 games left in the season, and with nowhere else to turn, general manager Lee Thomas promoted a struggling Batiste who had been hitting .312/.379/.691 over 491 plate appearances in AAA. As you probably expect, he didn’t play well. In 10 games, Batiste hit .250/.222/.472 over 28 plate appearances. Batiste spent the next 3 years as the Phillies utility man, hitting .253/.321/.575 with only 17 doubles, 1 triple, and 7 homeruns over 520 plate appearances. If you’re a Phillies fan, you probably already know who the legendary Kim Batiste was, but for those who don’t, here’s why he’ll always hold a special spot in Phillies fans hearts. Game one of the 1993 NLCS, top of the 9th, Phillies lead the Braves 3-2. With no outs and a runner on first, John Lemke hits a sharp ground ball to Batiste at third, Batiste scoops the ball and rifles it to second, but the ball is thrown past second baseman Mariano Duncan and into right field. Bill Pecota is able to reach third and Lemke reaches first on an error. Otis Nixon grounds to shortstop which allows Pecota to score and the game is tied at 3-3. The top half of the inning ends, and the Phillies go down one, two, three in the bottom half. Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams is able to escape a jam after a single by Terry Pendleton and a double by Greg Olson, and the game remains tied going into the bottom of the 10th. After a double with one out by John Kruk, a shaking Kim Batiste steps up to the plate against dominating righty Greg McMichael. Looking to redeem himself, Kim swings at the 1-2 pitch and slaps it down the leftfield line, past a diving Pendleton. Kruk races from second and scores. Phillies win the game 4-3 and Batiste is redeemed. Phillies go on to win the series in 6 games, but lose to the Blue Jays in the world series on Joe Carter’s walkoff homerun. In 1995, Batiste is released by the Phillies, where he then signs a minor league contract with the Orioles. Batiste plays the whole 1995 season between AA-AAA, never reaching the majors. After another weak performance in the minors, he is selected by the Giants in the rule five draft. He remains in the majors with the Giants for 54 games, hitting .235/.323/.558 over 136 plate appearances. Batiste is released by the Giants after the 1996 season, where he then goes on to play in the Atlantic League. Batiste retires after six seasons in the Atlantic League. He ends his career with a slash of .250/.318/.567 over 684 plate appearances, good for a -4.4 WAR. Kim Batiste was bad, but he’s a legend to Phillies fans everywhere, and he’ll always be remembered. Also, his full name was Kimothy Emil Batiste, which is my new favorite name ever.
Starting Rightfielder: Billy Beane
Career WAR: -1.6
Offensive WAR: -1.7
Defensive WAR: -0.2
The Genius.
Billy Beane was drafted by the New York Mets in the 1st round of the 1980 MLB June Amateur Draft going 23rd overall. Scouts were enamored with Beane's talent, and he was considered by the Mets to go first overall, but because many teams believed Beane would attend Stanford and not sign with a professional team, he fell to the 23rd pick. After visiting the Mets clubhouse, Beane decided to sign with the Mets for a $125,000 signing bonus. Believing Beane to be a more refined player than their top first-round pick, Darryl Strawberry, Beane was assigned to the Little Falls Mets of the Class A New York–Penn League, with players drafted out of college, while Strawberry was assigned to play rookie ball with other high school draftees. Beane started his first season of professional baseball during the 1980 season, where he hit only .252/.283/.534 over 148 plate appearances. Prior the 1981 season, Beane was moved to single A, where his numbers showed improvement, hitting .331/.412/.743 over 456 plate appearances. The Mets front office, pleased with the improvement, moved Beane to AA going into the 1982 season, where he regressed to .276/.329/.605 over 912 plate appearances between 1982 and 1983. With the belief of Beane still having the skill set to make a superstar, he was moved AAA, where he showed some of that superstar talent. In 1984, his first season in AAA, Beane hit .352/.490/.842 with 29 doubles, 20 homeruns, and 26 stolen bases over 514 plate appearances. During that season, he was called up to the majors on September 13th, where he went 1-10 with 2 strikeouts over 5 games. Beane started the 1985 season back in AAA, where he continued to show the stuff that made him so attractive during the draft, slashing .341/.480/.821 with 34 doubles, 19 homeruns, and 15 stolen bases over 557 plate appearances. He was called up once again, this time going 2-8 with 1 double and 3 strikeouts over 10 games. Before the 1986 season, Beane was traded to the Minnesota Twins, where he bounced between AAA and the majors, constantly dealing with injuries. Beane was traded to Detroit in 1988, then traded again Oakland in 1989. Weary of the lifestyle of a minor league player, Beane approached Athletics GM Sandy Alderson a day after he was reassigned to minor league camp in April 1990 and asked for a job as an advance scout. Beane held this position through 1993, when he was promoted to assistant GM of the Athletics, tasked with scouting minor league players. Under the ownership of Walter A. Haas Jr., the Athletics appeared in three consecutive World Series, from 1988 through 1990, and had the highest payroll in baseball in 1991. Haas died in 1995, and new owners Stephen Schott and Ken Hofmann ordered Alderson to slash payroll. To field a competitive roster on a limited budget, Alderson began focusing on sabermetric principles, to obtain relatively undervalued players. He valued on-base percentage among hitters. Alderson taught Beane to find value that other teams did not see using sabermetrics. Beane succeeded Alderson as GM on October 17, 1997. He continued Alderson's ways of management, crafting the Athletics into one of the most cost-effective teams in baseball. The Athletics reached the playoffs in four consecutive years from 2000 through 2003, losing in the American League Division Series each year. After the 2002 season, the Boston Red Sox made Beane an offer of $12,500,000, the largest general manager contract in the history of baseball, but he declined. On April 15, 2005, Beane received a contract extension to remain with the Athletics as its general manager through 2012, and new team owner Lewis Wolff awarded Beane a small portion of the team's ownership. In February 2012, the Athletics extended Beane's contract through 2019. On October 5, 2015, the Oakland Athletics announced that Beane had been promoted to Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations. Assistant GM David Forst assumed the job of general manager. Billy Beane has been widely regarded as the biggest bust in the history of baseball, hitting only .246/.296/.542 over 315 plate appearances, while being worth -1.6 WAR, but he will go down in history as one of the most influential figures in baseball. Beane ushered in the sabermetric era, making traditional stats that were highly valued like runs batted in and pitcher wins obsolete. Beane will be honored forever, and deservedly so.
Starting Centerfielder: Tuck Stainback
Career WAR: -6.6
Offensive WAR: -5.5
Defensive WAR: -3.2
The boring one.
Tuck Stainback has to be the most bland player in the history of baseball. He was bad, and that pretty much just sums up his whole career. The previous players all had something that you could sink your teeth into, something to perk your interest, but not Tuck. Tuck played shitty baseball for 13 years then retired, then died. That’s his whole story. The most significant thing he was ever a part of was a trade that sent Dizzy Dean to the Cubs from the Cardinals. Ugh, this guy is so boring it hurts. I had initially tried to avoid writing about him because he was just so lame, but I couldn’t come up with anyone better, so here it goes. Stainback was playing with the Cubs on their AA team from 1932-1933, and he was swinging that bat pretty well. In two seasons in the minors, Stainback was hitting .342 with 61 doubles, 14 triples, and 29 homeruns over 1222 at bats (he played in 187 minor league games in 1933 with 789 at bats). In 1934, he was called up as a backup for an already star studded outfield that included two HOFers in Kiki Cuyler and Chuck Klein. Over the next 4 years, you might’ve guessed, he was really bad, hitting .295/.346/.641 over 727 plate appearances. Before the 1938 season, he was included in a trade to the Cardinals for HOF Dizzy Dean. Over the 1938 season, he was claimed off waivers by the Phillies, then later traded to the Dodgers, playing in 71 games in total between the the three teams. After playing 68 games in the 1939 season with the Dodgers, Stainback was sold to the Tigers. After playing another two bad seasons in Detroit, Stainback was traded to the Yankees, where he would go on to win the world series with in 1943. After the 1945 season, Stainback was released by the Yankees, then later signed by the Philadelphia Athletics. Stainback played his final season with the A’s hitting .264/.292/.556 over 299 plate appearances. Stainback ended his career with a slash of .284/.333/.618 over 2382 plate appearances, being worth -6.6 WAR. I’m sorry if you read this one in its entirety, you could probably tell that even I was bored writing it. I got pretty lazy using generic statements like “he was really bad.” This might’ve been the most painfully boring thing I’ve wrote in my entire life, and I once had to write a 5 page long essay about the history of doorknobs. I’m sorry for this one, and I promise to do better on the next one.
Starting Leftfielder: Karl Olson
Career WAR: -5.2
Offensive WAR: -2.7
Defensive WAR: -3.1
The boring one 2: electric boogaloo.
Ok I lied, this guy is just as boring. I’m ashamed that I couldn’t come up with anyone better, and now you all will be bored reading this. I am a failure and I know it, but anyway, here’s this trash players story. Loser-bum-fart-face Karl Olson played in the Red Sox system from 1948 to 1951, never showing much promise as a hitter until his 1950 season where he hit .321 with 29 doubles, 14 triples, and 23 homeruns over 545 at bats. He followed that season with another decent season in AAA, hitting .367/.430/.797 over 63 games and was called up to platoon with rightfielder Clyde Vollmer, who had been struggling as of late. Olson only played in only 5 games before a season ending injury took him out for that year and the 1952 season. Over those 5 games, Olson went 1-10 with 3 strikeouts. Going into the 153 season, Olson was offered the starting leftfield position, which moved Ted Williams to right, but after only 25 games of being the starter in left, Olson once again was injured, and Williams moved back to left. After missing most of the 1953 season with the injury, Olson just became an outfield utilityman. Between 154 and 1957, Olson played in 249 games with only 676 plate appearances. Over that time he slashed .293/.329/.622 with 23 doubles and only 5 homeruns. After the 1957 season, Olson retired, finishing his career with a batting line of .278/.316/.594 and a -5.2 WAR. This guy might’ve been even more boring, the only significant thing he did was hit into 2 triple plays over his short career, just making him even more terrible. Olson was bad at baseball, and that's all there was to it, and I’m sorry for him be so boring.
I wish we could have ended on a more interesting note, instead of two bums that were about as exciting as watching the NFC championship game as a Vikings fan. It was actually really fun writing this whole thing, and I will probably be looking into writing other things for all of you beautiful people, but for now I must leave you all, my bearded dragon is giving me the look that he is ready for some crickets. Thank you for reading this, and I hope you all have a great night.
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/r/OnTheFarm Mods' 2018 Top 100 Prospect Rankings: 80-71

The Methodology 4 Of Our Great /OnTheFarm Mods Created Their Own Top 100 Lists And Combined We Came Up With A Formula To Fairly Average The 100 Out. We Feel This Was The Fairest Way To Come Up With A Communal List. A Huge Shoutout To Asroka, Tschirky4, And Gpratt283 Who Made This All Possible. And A Special Shoutout To Enjoyingcarp650 Who Helped With Some Write-Ups! We Hope You Enjoy.
TL;DR
80.OF Jahmai Jones, LAA 79.2B/OF Keston Hiura, MIL 78.SS Carter Kieboom, WAS 77.C Carson Kelly, STL 76.OF Tyler O'Neill, STL 75.RHP Tyler Mahle, CIN 74.RHP Ian Anderson, ATL 73.3B Michael Chavis, BOS 72.OF Adam Haseley, PHI 71.OF Dustin Fowler, OAK
80) Jahmai Jones, OF Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (85 points) u/asroka
Jahmai Jones 6-foot | 215 pounds | Bats: R; Throws: R
346 AB at Low-A: .269/.335/.422 with 9 HR, 30 RBI, and 19 SB 172 AB at High-A: .302/.368/.488 with 5 HR, 17 RBI, and 9 SB
For two-and-a-half years, Jahmai Jones was the Angels’ de facto top prospect because of how thin their system was. It says a lot when a second-round high school outfielder is almost immediately dubbed an organization’s No. 1. But as this system bolsters significantly, and impressively as they attempt to compete within Mike Trout’s prime, Jones remains the farm’s top position player prospect -- only recently ousted as top overall when the Angels made the splash of the offseason, winning the Shohei Sweepstakes.
Jones has matured into a bonafide prospect worthy of every top-100 ranking you see. He’s got five tools, really. He was drafted out of high school in Georgia as a multi-sport star, one who could run, hit, hit for power, and defend. But questions arose about his ability to hit offspeed stuff and, thus, was docked a few points by evaluators which pushed his draft stock into the second round, drafted 92nd overall in 2015. Since, Jones has not only demonstrated an ability to hit for contact, he’s shown off some true power, and has put his plus speed on display in center field and on the basepaths. He was billed as a raw talent, but the Angels (as well as pro scouts) have lauded his makeup and work ethic and it’s allowed him to overcome some of the early career struggles that typically accompany the “raw” and “toolsy” talent.
After a successful year-long campaign in Arizona instructs and Rookie league, Jones was given his first assignment to affiliated ball, Class-A Burlington, toward the end of the 2016 season. There, Jones didn’t “wow” anyone with his slashline, but he didn’t look out of place for a teenager either. At the start of 2017, Jones began the year in Burlington but slumped in April before totally breaking out. He wound up slashing .272/.338/.425 before being promoted to the High-A club where he wound up garnering more attention. Despite a notable uptick in K% (from 16.3 percent in Burlington to 22.5 percent at Inland Empire), Jones hit five homers in his 41 games in High-A. His slashline was BABIP-inflated, but Jones showed he could hang. He stole 27 bases, hit 15 home runs, and played plus center field defense combined across both levels last season.
He was unfairly labeled as Mike Trout’s reinforcements after a strong start to his pro career, now it’s totally reasonable to think that he’ll be the one to eventually supplant Trout from center field and move him over to right or left.
High Ranking:53 Lowest Ranking:Unranked
79) Keston Hiura, 2B/OF Milwaukee Brewers(86 points) patriotsfan543 62 At-Bats at Rookie Ball: .435/.500/.839 4 HR 18 RBI 105 At-Bats at A Ball: .333/.374/.478 0 HR 15 RBI
If there’s one thing that you need to know about Keston Hiura, it’s this: He can absolutely mash. Keston Hiura was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers 9th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft and for good reason. Hiura slashed .442/.567/.693 at UC Irvine this past year(his junior year). His career batting average at UC Irvine was .375. Hiura showed a tiny bit of pop, hitting 8 dingers over the fence last season and 7 each the seasons before. It was no question mark that Hiura could hit, but the biggest question with him is where he can play in the field. Hiura strictly DH’ed this past season due to an elbow injury that may require Tommy John, but right now has just taken PRP Injections for it. He has played outfield and second base in the past, but it has been hard to discover where he’ll wind up and if he is even capable of playing in the field health wise.
Keston Hiura’s bat stayed hot throughout the summer as he transitioned into pro ball. Starting out in rookie ball, Hiura was a tough out and ultimately ended up slashing .435/.500/.839, which is just ridiculous. Hiura earned a quick promotion to Single-A and he continued his hot hitting, his batting average ended up being .333 over 105 at-bats. Hiura is 21 years old and it is easy to see him climbing up the minor league ladder very quickly with his impressive bat. The biggest question will be where he will play in the field as the Brewers are in the NL and don’t have a DH spot. Hiura did play 2 games at 2B in the minors last season, but I don’t have any information on how that went, but 2B seems to be the most likely spot for him to ultimately end up. At the same time, if he did somehow end up on an AL team, I’m not too sure if he has enough pop to stay at DH so it will be interesting to see what he does there. Moral of the story is that this kid can flat out rake and we will be seeing him in the bigs sooner than later. Expect him to reach Double-A this year and probably AAA as well. Doubtful that he’ll reach Majors until next year.
Highest Ranking: 69 Lowest Ranking:Unranked
78) Carter Kieboom SS Washington Nationals (90 points) u/tschirky4
6 games at Rookie Ball: .417/.563/.667 in 12 AB’s 7 games at Low-A: .250/.276/.393; 1 HR, 1 SB in 28 AB’s 48 games at Single A: .296/.400/.497; 8 HR’s in 179 AB’s
6-foot-2 | 190 pounds | SS | Bats: R, Throws: R
One of the best high-school hitters in the 2016 draft, Carter joined his brother Spencer in the Nationals system when they drafted him 28th overall. Carter has always been seen as the best hitter in his family, one which includes another brother who was playing at University of Georgia at the time. While injuries have hampered his development so far, we have already begun to see the potential that Kieboom possesses.
Making his debut in rookie ball during his draft year, Kieboom showed off both the good and the bad in his game. He flashed an above average hit tool and and solid power, but also showed his tendency to swing-and-miss, as evidenced by his 28% K-rate. He ultimately ended his summer with a .244/.323/.452 batting line and 4 home runs in 135 AB’s, leaving us craving to see what he can do over a full season. Unfortunately, we will have to wait another offseason to ponder what that could bring, as a hamstring injury slowed him for most of the year and limited him to only 219 AB’s. And while he did blast 9 home runs and produce a .297/.396/.493 batting line with a much improved 32:42 walk-to-strikeout ratio, we are still left unsatisfied with only getting to see a part of his potential.
His said potential is that of a 20+ home run hitter at a premium up-the-middle position. With his plus bat speed and the loft in his swing there is no reason to think his power won’t translate to the next level, and while he should have the speed and athleticism to stick at short, he will most likely never be a stolen base threat. Most scouts see him moving to 3rd base eventually, and while that will definitely lower his value, he still has the skills to be a plus hitter there as well. Kieboom is a special talent with a baseball bloodline who I expect to shoot up prospects rankings this year - so long as he can stay healthy.
Highest Ranking:73 Lowest Ranking:Unranked
77) Carson Kelly C St. Louis Cardinals (91 points)
Carson Kelly 6-foot-2 | 220 pounds | Bats: R; Throws: R
244 AB at AAA: .283/.375/.459 with 10 HR, 41 RBI 69 AB at MLB: .174/.240/.217
Authentic catching prospects are hard to come by, so while Carson Kelly’s slashline might not immediately impress you, he pairs his solid offensive game with his stellar defensive side. The league average catcher isn’t exactly producing Joey Votto-esque slashlines, which makes Kelly’s perfectly adequate bat more than capable of dealing with the demands his position behind the plate holds. Though his bat is closer to “just okay” on the offensive spectrum, it’s his glove that’s a separator and it earns him spots on lists like these. His skills behind the plate somewhat translate in the batters’ box, as he demonstrates good plate discipline and makes regular contact, though his bat doesn’t contain much power.
Kelly already has two separate big league stints under his belt -- 10 games in 2016 and 34 in 2017. Still, he retains his prospect status solely because the catcher listed on the depth chart ahead of him is an all-timer, Yadier Molina. If Molina wasn’t in the way, Kelly would have probably been in St. Louis to stay back in 2016. At 23, he is the player he is and is out of growing to do in the minors.
As Molina gets one year older, Kelly is ready to assume a healthy workload as his back-up. He’s almost guaranteed to break camp with the Cardinals to enroll in something like a 60-40 time split at catcher with Molina. At one point, it seemed like Kelly would be eternal trade bait. Now, the Cardinals catchers are probably both made more effective by one another. Molina gets to rest more often, hopefully rejuvenating him, while Kelly gets some extra time to learn the big league ropes.
Kelly was drafted as a third baseman which helped his transition from the infield to behind the plate go a little more seamlessly. He’s praised as a receiver and framer, and his blocking skills are reportedly excellent. He’s also earned some early praise as a game caller, too.
For most teams, I think Kelly would be etched in as their 2018 starting catcher. The Cardinals are not one of them, though Kelly (and Molina) might be better off for it.
Highest Ranking:51 Lowest Ranking: Unranked
76) Tyler O’Neill OF St. Louis Cardinals(91 points) u/tschirky4
130 games at AAA: .246/.331/.499; 31 HR’s, 14 SB’s in 495 AB’s
5-foot-11 | 210 pounds | OF | Bats: R, Throws: R
On a team loaded with outfielders, it made it a curious decision for the Cardinals to trade for O’Neill at the trade deadline this past year. Many thought they would trade another outfielder to make room for him, but that never happened. Some thought he would push for a spot in the starting lineup this year, but the recent trade for Marcel Ozuna puts that to rest. So why did the Cardinals trade for Tyler O’Neill? The answer is simple; his talent was too good to pass up on.
Tyler O’Neill was drafted in the 3rd round in 2013 for one thing and one thing only; Power. He is your prototypical power bat, as he has averaged 35 home runs per 600 AB’s over his minor league career so far, accompanied by a 28% K-rate and average 9% BB-rate. He matches his 70-grade raw power with a 50 grade hit tool and also has enough speed to be a stolen base threat, as he’s averaged 14 stolen bases a season over the past 3 seasons. No matter what team you are you can find a spot in the lineup for a guy like that. He also has the athleticism and arm to stick in right field, so his defense won’t hinder his playing time once he is up.
While it is still unclear whether the Cards want to flip him or let him fine tune his game in the minors for another year and wait for Dexter Fowler to leave town, one thing is and always will be clear - the talent is real. O’Neill is knocking on the door of the bigs and once he gets there I truly believe that he can supply 40 or more fans with souvenirs once he gets there.
Highest Ranking: 88 Lowest Ranking:Unranked
75) Tyler Mahle RHP Cincinnati Reds(92 points) u/asroka
Tyler Mahle 6-foot-3 | 210 pounds | Bats: R; Throws: R
Tyler Mahle made his Major League debut in 2017 to little acclaim, unfortunately. It’s unfair because Mahle was, statistically speaking, one of the best righties in the minors. Annually, Mahle was producing one of the minors’ best K/BB ratios within a prototypical pitcher’s frame. Maybe it’s because the Reds are flying a little under the radar these days, or maybe it’s because Mahle doesn’t have a single jaw-dropping pitch. Either way, he gets it done consistently. When people use the term “strike-thrower,” Mahle should be the first prospect people think of. He ran neat K-rates across all levels he pitched in the minors and built a reputation for his knack of hitting the strike zone, and he was also excellent at throwing ground balls. Producing ground ball outs will be important for Mahle moving forward because it’s pretty clear that his three-pitch mix of fastball, curveball, and changeup isn’t going to rack up a ton of swings and misses in the Majors, but enough to be effective still.
He started last season where he finished his 2016 season, at Double-A Pensacola. Last year in Double-A, Mahle struck out 27 percent of his opposition which was a career-high rate until he was promoted to Triple-A after 14 impressive starts. The Reds only allowed Mahle a 10-start taste of Triple A before promoting him the big league club. At Triple-A Louisville, Mahle was getting similar results while his K% dropped under eight percent -- it would drop below seven with the Reds.
Four starts into his Major League career, Mahle didn’t quite resemble the pitcher we’d become accustomed to in the minors. He was striking out fewer than seven per nine innings and walking nearly five (he posted walk rates under two per nine in Double- and Triple-A last year). But with a 20-inning sample size, Mahle was conducting more than half of batted balls into grounders (52.5 percent).
If he’s able to re-harness control over the strike zone, it’s easy to see how Mahle can become one of those valuable, yet underappreciated, mid- to back-end rotation mainstays for the Reds for years to come.
74) Ian Anderson, RHP Atlanta Braves(99 points) u/asroka
Ian Anderson 6-foot-3 | 170 pounds | Bats: R: Throws: R
The Braves possess one of the only farm systems in baseball that’s so deep, you forget about recently selected first rounders, like Ian Anderson. Granted, at the time of his selection, Anderson was a bit of a shocker. He was the first pitcher selected in the 2016 draft, ahead of Riley Pint, A.J. Puk, Cal Quantrill, Matt Manning, among other bigger names. The Braves seemed to believe, genuinely, that they had selected the best pitcher in the class.
He was also one of the youngest. Anderson will not yet be 20-years old at the very start of the 2018 season. He was probably a little under-scouted, considering he pitched out of a high school in upstate New York, but he did enough to impress the Braves and was the third overall selection that year. A season-and-a-half into the Anderson Project and we’re already starting to see the belief in Anderson blossom into real top-of-the-rotation stuff. He pitched like he belonged in his draft year. Ten starts in across Arizona and Rookie-affiliate Danville, and Anderson was a little erratic, understandably, but performed well enough to elicit confidence in the Braves brass to promote him to Class-A Rome at the start of 2017.
Anderson rewarded the Braves’ confidence in him with a strong full season in Rome. In 20 starts, he struck out nearly 11 batters per nine and despite an opposing BABIP of .345, Anderson’s ERA sat at 3.14 to end the year. He walked way too many batters, almost 12 percent or nearly five per nine, but it’s that’s more impressive when you compare him 2016’s fourth overall pick Pint and his command issues.
So Anderson doesn’t have the primo fastball like the aforementioned Pint or Puk’s slippery slider, but he does wield a hammer of a curve. He pairs that curveball with a mid-90s fastball that’s reportedly touched 97 mph, and a changeup that he seems to match well with his four-seamer.
Over the past couple of years, the Braves have actually moved their highly touted prospects pretty aggressively. A new regime has taken over this past offseason, though, and it’ll be interesting to see how they handle their best teenage arm. He probably earned another promotion to High-A Florida, but I’d be very surprised if he did enough to push the Braves to unleash him unto Double-A at any point in 2018, that test seems like it’s another year away still.
73) Michael Chavis, 3B Boston Red Sox(101 points) enjoyingcarp650
59 games started at High A: .318/.388/.641 17 HR 55 RBI in 250 PA 67 games started at Double A: .250//.310/.492 14 HR 39 RBI in 274 PA
Michael Chavis was a first round pick in 2014 and came into the 2017 season looking to avoid the bust label that was hanging over his head. Chavis has been graded as having 50 to 60 raw power, but because of his poor approach at the plate he has not been able to put up the offensive numbers scouts were hoping for. In 2016, Chavis was only able to put a slash line of .244/.321/.391, 8 home runs, 35 RBI. There really is no way to spin it, 2016 was a poor season.
This was the season that we saw Chavis finally tap into that raw power. Between High A and Double A he hit 31 homers, drove in 94 runs, and hit .282. The strikeout rate also came down (22-20%) although his walk rate is still pedestrian (7%). Chavis finsihed the year in the Arizona Fall League, hitting 4 home runs in the desert.
Chavis is a what you see is what you get type player. He’s a power hitter. A pure power hitter. He has already shown that he has in game power, over the fence type power. How that translates to the big leagues will depend on his hit tool. If he starts 2018 in the Major Leagues (unlikely) with the approach he has now, he would probably hit 15-20 home runs with a poor batting average. But if the approach at the plate is fixed, his power numbers will sky rocket. Look for Chavis to start 2018 in the minor leagues, looking to get called up the first time a roster spot opens up.
High Ranking: 45 Low Ranking: 99
72) Adam Haseley, OF Philadelphia Phillies(105) patriotsfan543 66 AB at Low-A: .258/.315/.379 with 1 HR and 6 RBI 137 AB at Short-Season: .270/.350/.380 with 2 HR and 18 RBI 12 AB at Rookie: .583/.643/.833 with 0 HR 4 RBI
Adam Haseley was drafted 8th overall in the 2017 MLB Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies out of the University of Virginia. Haseley climbed up draft boards after having a phenomenal junior year compared to his freshman and sophomore years. Haseley was a two-way player in college and he was a pretty solid pitcher, but it has been clear that he is going to be strictly an outfielder. At UVA his junior year he hit .390 and 14 home runs, pretty great numbers and why he rose up the draft boards. The lefty earned in the 8th overall pick and continued his success he had at UVA into pro ball.
Haseley tore up rookie ball in an extremely small sample size(12 ABs), but he still hit .583 earning a very quick promotion to short-season where he had a lot more at-bats and did pretty good there. Haseley kept up the accelerated pace and ended up in Low-A Lakewood where he finished the season with a .258 avg over 66 at-bats. Haseley as a player does not have a ton of power, only hitting 14 home runs in his junior year. Haseley’s defense is just about average, but he has a very good arm. It’s hard to see where exactly Haseley ends up, whether it will be CF or the corners. One thing is almost certain and that is Haseley is on a fast track to the Major Leagues and it may be quicker than you think. This season he will probably start in either High-A or Double-A and if he does well in the level he starts the Phls are not going to hesitate to promote him. There is a chance Haseley plays in Citizen Banks Park by the end of the year and the Phillies will have a spot waiting for him.
71) Dustin Fowler, OF Oakland Athletics (111) patriotsfan543
297 ABs at AAA: .293/.329/.542 with 13 HR, 43 RBI, and 13 SB
Most baseball fans know who Dustin Fowler is due to unfortunate circumstances. Fowler tore his patellar tendon in an ugly fashion last season for the Yankees, making his major league debut. Fowler’s season was cut short, but he is on the track to recovery. Fowler moved from New York to Oakland in the Sonny Gray trade. It is unknown how Fowler will be after he returns from the injury, speed was very big part of his game, but this injury may not let him get back to full strength ever. It is not known whether he’ll be back for Spring Training, but it should be clearer as we get closer to the season. Fowler was an 18th round pick in 2013 by the Yankees, a nice diamond in the rough that they found. The first 2 years in pro ball Fowler struggled, but he broke out in 2105 for the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs. At Charleston, Fowler hit .307 with 4 HR and compiled 17 steals. He built upon this success in 2016 at Double-A Trenton and he upped his steal total to 25 for 2016, showcasing his speed. Fowler was tearing up AAA and the Yankees decided to give him a call, but that night would live in infamy as Dustin would not get a single AB in his major league debut. He went after a foul ball in foul territory, but hit his knee on an unpadded electrical box and tore his patellar tendon. It is unknown how Fowler will be able to bounce back from the injury, but that is sure to stunt his growth as a player a little. The A’s are hopeful he can play at a Major League level this year, but it is unknown at this point in time.
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AL West: Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers Seasons 2019 , 2018 , 2019 MLB Pitching , 2019 MLB Batting , 2019 MLB Standings , 2019 MLB Attendance , 2019 MLB Rookies , Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Salt Lake Bees (AAA) Roster Rocket City Trash Pandas (AA) Roster Inland Empire 66ers (A Adv.) Roster Burlington Bees (A) Roster Orem Owlz Roster AZL Angels The Salt Lake Bees are a Pacific Coast League (PCL) minor league baseball team based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Bees serve as the Class AAA affiliate of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They play their home games at Franklin Covey Field, which was opened in 1994 and seats 15,500 fans. The current franchise dates from 1994, when Joe Buzas, owner of the PCL Portland The Anaheim City Council voted 4-2 to approve a deal to sell Angel Stadium and the parking lots around it to a development group led by Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno for $325 million.. The Los Angeles Angels single game tickets are available at angels.com. Game highlights, ticket offers, promotions and more. Get your Angels tickets today!

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