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Justen Proctor named to League All Star team

First time In team history

Justen Proctor and Christian Thaxton

201 All-stars for the Renegades – Justen Proctor and Christian Thaxton

For the first time in team history, Boston placed two players on the League All-star team.  Christian Thaxton was named the MVP of the league on offense.  He broke a 21 year record by hitting .897 at the World Series.  We recently told that story here:  and it was part of a story that played on national radio on NPR here.  Just this past week, Justen Proctor was named to the League All Star team as well.  He was named to the 2017 World Series all star team on defense and was the 6th best defender in the league making 4.2 stops per game.  It was the second time Proctor had earned this award in his career.

There was a bit of work to do here and some lobbying to get him on the team because he was not initially recognized by the league.  Thankfully, the league saw a way to give him this honor.  Here is how it went down.

Proctor’s Series

In game one of the World Series, Coach Weissman wanted to get Proctor some reps on offense because they had been working hard to teach Justen better hitting mechanics. Weissman knew Proctor would see some time during the week as a designated fielder but wanted to see if Proctor could help on offense.  A decision was made to start him as the Designated Hitter against the Seattle South King Sluggers.  He never stepped foot on the field defensively in this contest.  Through the week, Proctor would play some games as a Designated Fielder (meaning he would have Larry Haile hit for him) and some games he would play both ways, getting a chance to hit and field.  He played in a total of 7 games, but only 6 games in the field.  Over the week he stopped 25 balls.  That gave him 4.2 stops per game….in Weissman’s eyes.  The break out looked like this

Opponent Stops
NJ Titans 5
Long Island Bombers 3
Austin Black Hawks 6
Colorado Storm 3
Indy Thunder 2
Indy Edge 6

 

Weissman sprang to action

Before the banquet began, Weissman texted the league and asked for the league to please check the score sheets because there was a feeling the league would count the game he was a DH against his defensive stats.  There was no response and six players were honored at the banquet.  As soon as Andrew Bernet was called to the stand, Weissman knew he would need to bring this to the league’s attention, as Proctor should have been on the team.  The team looked like this”:

MVP Isaiah Wilcox (San Antonio) 5.714
2) Tim Chappell (Tyler) 5.222
3) Eric Rodriguez (Indy Thunder) 4.900
4) Ethan Johnston (Colorado) 4.667
5) Carnell Walker (St. Louis) 4.333
6) Andrew Bernet (BCS) 3.857

After the banquet, Weissman spoke with the league and kicked off a request to have this changed.  This took about 12 days to look into and when the dust settled, the league decided the right thing was to name Proctor to the All-star team.

Jamie Dickerson, Aaron Proctor and Bryan Grillo are pictured here with the other 2017 WS Renegade volunteers

It’s important to note for a player to be an all-star on defense they must have great hearing, good defensive skills, play against teams that will put the ball into play and have a great team of defensive callers.  At the World Series this year, Justen worked with Bryan Grillo on his side of the field.  He worked with a combination of Aarron Proctor and Jamie Dickerson on the right side of the field.  For Grillo and Dickerson, they have become two of the top callers in history.  For Aaron Proctor, he was calling in his first world Series with less than 6 games experience under his belt.   Each of them should take pride in Justen’s accomplishment.

 

Justen Proctor’s story

Photo of Justen Cantan

Picture of Justen in 2009

Justen started playing for the Renegades in 2009.  That season, he joined the team with his brother, Shayne.  Shayne was an athlete who loved to compete.  He even played high school football in Hawaii against sighted opponents.  When Shayne found the team he thought his brother may enjoy it as well.  Shayne was sold on playing the moment he found out about it.  Justen was not.  They both came to a practice in the winter and Shayne was excited while his older brother, Justen was hesitant.  Justen had never played on a team or played sports in his life. He was unsure this would be good for him.  At a gathering after practice, former captain, Kae Rausch spoke with Justen about the benefits of playing.  She told him about her experience with sports and how being a Renegade was rewarding.  She was a leader on the team in those days but her voice was more impactful than her stats.  That time with Kae helped convinced Justen to give it a try.

Justen found out he really liked playing sports

In 2009, Justen was still learning the game.  We found out about his mentality early on during the 6th inning of a game against Long Island in New York.  The Renegades entered the last inning of that game down 8-3 and stared to come back.  After clawing back the Renegades got the score to 8-6 when Weissman decided to gamble and give Justen a chance in a big moment.  Justen had just finished his first ever game and stepped into the box with a grin from ear to ear. In an epic at-bat after fouling off six consecutive pitches, Ron Cochran connected and Justen hit a grounder down the 3rd baseline to Jim Hughes and he beat it out to bring the Renegades one run away from tying it.  Boston would eventually win this contest in what is still the longest game in Renegades history – nine innings.  Justen would finish his rookie year as a key contributor off the bench.

This kid is Good

As the Renegade coaches looked to see how they could make the team better, it was decided that Justen had some skills we had never seen before.  He was the best player in team history at picking up a ball that was not rolling.  That made it a no brainer to put him on the left side of the defense.  BUT, at that time, Dino Vasile was playing that spot and he was the best two way player in team history.  In fact, Dino had just come off a year where he made 59 stops which was the 4th best in team history at the time.  Dino was almost named to the All star team at the 2009 World Series in Stockton (but that award was stripped away from him when there was an error with the stats from another team pushing Dino to the 7th most productive defender in California)  The Renegades decided to move him to the mid field spot.  This gave them a dynamic defense of Proctor, Vasile and Zuccarello.  Three players that would earn multiple awards in the league for their defense.  How would Justen respond?  He made 53 stops in 2010.

2011 was a break out year

Justen Proctor Defensive All Star Boston Renegades

Justen Playing defense in 2011 against Long Island

In 2011, Justen did even better than he did in 2010.  He went out and set a Renegade record that still stands today making 77 stops on the season in 15 games.  He also made 39 of these at the World Series which placed him 3rd on the League All-star team.  2011 was not only big for Justen on the field, it was big for him off the field.  He had graduated with his MBA and decided to take a job for the Air force in Hawaii which would put an end to his beep baseball career at least for the next three years.  He would have hopes to come back in the future, but that would be uncertain.

2016 brings Justen Back

Justen Proctor Boston Renegade Defensive All Star

Justen Proctor makes a stop in the 2016 World Series

Justen ached to get back to the East Coast.  He landed a job doing contracting for the Navy in Rhode Island and came back to play ball for the Renegades in 2016.  Upon his return, he had put on a bunch of muscle as he had developed a work out return and a love of staying in shape while he was gone for the previous three years.  With Proctor in the fold, the Renegades knew they would sneak up on the league.  They knew they had one of the top defenders in the game with Proctor and one of the best hitters in the game in Thaxton.  What would happen?  Boston would shock the league and get to the title game in 2016.

2017 – Bolingbrook All-star

The World Series is the biggest event in the NBBA.  The second biggest event is a tournament hosted in Bolingbrook, Il.  This year, the Boston Renegades attended for the 7th time in team history this past June.  The tournament hosted some of the best teams in the country including the teams that finished 1-2-3 in the 2016 World Series. Boston would go to these games without three starters (Joe McCormick, Rob Dias and Guy Zuccarello) and without their number one pitcher – Ron Cochran.  The Gades were also going with some depth on their spotter rotation as they would be without their top three callers experience wise (Grillo, Dickerson, Lenicheck).  It was a great event and got the team some much needed experience.  While there, Justen Proctor placed second on the All star team making 23 stops in 4 games.  He did this with two spotters who had very little experience.  Ben Coiner and Joe Bourque were calling their first set of games together.  For Coiner he was 6-0 lifetime in games entering this tournament and Bourque was making his debut.  Making a defensive all-star team is something that callers are a big part of as well.  They are pictured above with Justen wearing his award

Justen became the 9th Renegade to make a Bolingbrook all-star team for play in this four game tournament.  Here is a lost of the players who have made the team

Year Player Team Stats
2004 Darren Black Defense 28 Stops
2005 Darren Black Defense 17 Stops
2006 Darren Black Defense 20 Stops
2007 Luis Marquez Offense 12-20 (.600)
2007 Darren Black Defense 12 Stops
2009 Dino Vasile Defense 21 Stops
2010 Shayne Cantan Offense 9-14 (.643)
2013 Joey Buizon Offense 10-15 (.600)
2017 Justen Proctor Defense 23 Stops

 

Renegade All Stars

With the naming of Proctor to the 2017 All-star team, the Renegades continue to have an impressive list of names that are among some of the top players in the league.  Here is a list of all of the players named to league All-star teams at the World Series.  Offensively, we have listed their stats and their Average.  Defensiveley, we have listed how many stops they made and the quantity of games played.  The league determines a defensive All start by the amount of stops per game

Year Player Team Place Stats
2003 Darren Black Defense 2nd 28 stops in 5 games
2006 Darren Black Defense 6th 25 in 7 games
2007 Luis Marquez Offense 5th 18-30 (.600)
2011 Justen Proctor Defense 3rd 39 stops in 7 games
2012 Guy Zuccarello Defense MVP 36 stops in 7 games
2013 Guy Zuccarello Defense 3rd 41 stops in 8 games
2014 Joe McCormick Offense 5th 21-35 (.600)
2015 Christian Thaxton Offense 4th 23-32 (.719)
2016 Christian Thaxton Offense 4th 28-43 (.651)
2017 Christian Thaxton Offense MVP 26-29 (.719)
2017 Justen Proctor Defense 6th 25 stops in 6 games

 

Defensive All Star award needs to be changed

The Renegades are thankful the league was able to overlook the game Boston played against Seattle, where Proctor played as the Designated Hitter.  It would have been highway robbery to take the award away from him because he played in a game where without stepping on to the field defensively.

Proctor probably woud have made the defensive all-star team in 2o16, but Weissman played him sporadically to get him rest early in the tournament and in those game he only played a few innings, which would hurt his stats.  This shows one of the many flaws to this statistic.  Looking at stops per game is flawed on so many levels.  If a player plays an inning on defense, they are penalized as they may not even get a defensive chance, and this counts as a game against the stats.

What needs to happen is the league needs to devise a scoresheet which tracks defensive innings played.  If defensive innings were tracked, the league could more accurately award defensive stats to players.  This would have given Proctor the award without an argument  It may have even put him on the team in 2016 when he played a few innings of defense in some of the early games.

It gets even more complex from here.  Another issue with the defensive awards is the only people who win it play up front in the first layer of the defense.  Many times, players who make the defensive all-star team play on teams who don’t have anyone else on the team who can make stops.  Boston was the recipient of this in 2003 and 2006 when Darren Black led the Renegades defense.  Heck, this happened this year as well.  Here are a few examples.

Year Team Leader-stops Rest of team -stops % of stops made by team leader
2003 Boston Black – 28 8 78%
2006 Boston Black – 25 26 49%
2017 St. Luis Walker – 39 24 62%
2017 Lone Star Bernet -27 23 54%

 

There is some work being done to try and track defense differently.  This would allow us to measure who the best front men are as well as the best second and third layer players.  It would also look at the amount of innings players play.  This change needs to be seriously considered by all teams.  It will take some efforts to train people to use the scoresheets.  It will make compiling the stats more complex.  Ultimately, the league’s goal should be to try and automate this effort which will make this easier, more accurate and quicker to compile.  Until that day happens, we hope that we can drive change and use Justen’s example as one that shows the flaws of the system.

In Conclusion

The Renegades are Excited to see their star defender get some recognition as an All-star.  He is one of the most unheralded stars in the game.  Seeing someone join the team with no sports background turn into one of the top defenders in the game is amazing.  It truly shows that you can be good at something that you have never done before.  It shows the Renegade coaching staff has helped produce a top player with its style of coaching and its a fun story to hear.  Justen came to this team in 2009 without any desire to play.  He came because his brother asked him to.  He ended up leaving the team for a career and then came back to help lead his squad to the title game.  Justen never quits working.  He is driven professionally and on the field.  We call him a diva, but he will continue to be a force in this sport and make the Renegades a top team for years to come.

Christian Thaxton broke a league record for batting average

In Wellington Florida during the 2017 Beep Baseball World Series, Christian Thaxton  broke a league record for batting average that had stood since 1996.

Christian Thaxton

Christian Thaxton at the plate during his 20 game hitting streak in Woburn, Ma

At the World Series, Thaxton hit an eye opening .897.  His stat line was 26 hits in 29 at bats with 1 strike out over 7 games.  The previous record was held by John Parker of the Wichita Sonics in 1996 when Parker hit .878 at the World Series in Austin, Texas.  Many consider John Parker one of the greatest hitters of the National Beep Baseball Association.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thaxton had many highlights this year for the Renegades that included

  • a 20 at bat streak over three tournaments where he scored in 20 straight at bats
  • He set a team record for his .759 average on the entire season (44-58), shattering the record he set in 2016 when he hit .691 (47-68)
  • Tied a team record (that he set in 2016) for scoring 6 runs in a game against the Austin Blackhawks

Tops in history

Christian Thaxton holds up a T shirt signed by John Parker

John Parker sent Christian Thaxton a shirt with Parker’s record and Christians new record written on it as a way to pass on the record that held for 21 years from one of the all-time greats to one of the leagues current stars

The NBBA has been in existence since the mid 1970’s but the rules have changed over time.  At one time bases were 90 feet and the hitters had 5 strikes to hit the ball.  John Parker’s record in 1996 was with the current set of rules with 100 foot bases and 4 strikes.  The top averages in history with the current rules for a single World Series are as follows

Rank Year Player Team Avg
1 2017 Christian Thaxton Boston Renegades .897
2 1996 John Parker Wichita Sonics .878
3 2001 Benny Meier Oklahoma City Bombers .840
4 1996 Dan Greene Chicago Bluff .837

 

 

About Christian Thaxton

Knowing Christian, this should come as no surprise since he did play junior college baseball before he lost his sight.  In just three seasons, his swing has become almost legendary in beep baseball, as he has made the all star team all three seasons he has played.  Not only is he one of the best hitters in the game, he is invested in being a great teammate.  All year long, he was working with his coaches and teammates to help the team better learn the proper mechanics of a swing.  His attitude makes him more of an MVP than his stats do.  Christian was interviewed by NPR this summer on a show called Only a game.  You can hear that interview here:  

Christian Thaxton pose with his MVP trophy and his catcher, Rob Weissman and pitcher, Ron Cochran

Weissman, Thaxton and Cochran pose with Christian’s MVP award

Though Thaxton is an amazing athlete, the work to get an MVP in beep baseball also heavily relies on his pitcher and catcher.  In beep baseball, the hitter is blindfolded and the pitcher and catcher are in the same team.  They work as a unit to put the ball into play against the opponent. Ron Cochran of Littleton, Mass threw every pitch to Thaxton and finished as one of the top pitchers of the 2017 beep baseball world series.  the Catcher was Head Coach, Rob Weissman of Waltham, Mass.

2017  World Series

Thaxton ran away with the mvp this year as he finished .147 points ahead of the next best hitter in the 2017 World Series.

MVP Christian Thaxton (Boston Renegades) 0.897
2) Brandon Chesser (Austin Blackhawks) .750
3) Lupe Perez (Indy Edge) .733
4) Gerald Dycus (Indy Thunder) .704
5) Eric Rodriguez (Indy Thunder) .692
6) Cory White (Indy Thunder) .667

 

Putting this World Series in perspectve

In Beep baseball, it can be tough to tell who the best hitters are.  The reason for this is the fact the schedules are not equally balanced.  For the most part, nobody would argue with the names that make the list.  They are truly some of the best hitters in the league for sure.  In addition, each World Series produces different numbers that correlate to the speed of the fields.  Faster fields typically produce higher batting averages.   Christian did something that was pretty amazing.  The distance he had to 2nd place was also the largest gap in the history of the sport since the rule change

Rank Year MVP – team Avg 2nd place player/team 2nd place avg Delta
1 2017 Christian Thaxton – Boston .897 Brandon Chesser – Austin .750 .147
2 2003 Eric Mazariegos – West Coast .765 Mike Dell- Cleveland .630 .135
3 2011 Tanner Gers – Bayou City .667 Steve Lyles – Colorado .586 .081
4 2013 Tanner Gers – Bayou City .756 Ching-Kai Chen – Taiwan .676 .080

Boston’s Accomplishments

Thaxton becomes the second player in team history to earn an MVP at the world series.  Guy Zuccarello won a defensive MVP in the 2012 World Series in Ames, Iowa

The Renegades finished the 2017 World Series ranked 5th in the world.  It was the team’s third consecutive top 5 finish and its best performances since the team started competing in 2002.

Planting a seed for the NBBA

This article looks at how the NBBA seeding is done for the World Series and tries to explain how a pilot of the coaches power rankings can help.  The article was written before the World Series took place in July, 2017

Ranking teams, the NCAA does it.  The NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB also do it when its play-off time.  It can be a tool to make things fairer in competition.  However, it is also a tool used for debate, conversation and interest.  Why not try it in the NBBA?  Let’s explore our thought process.

For the past few years I have been writing about strength of schedule that each team plays at the World Series.

2016 Strength of Schedule Article

2015 Strength of Schedule Article

2014 Strength of Schedule Article

I have discovered some trends and have wanted to drive some change.  Over time, I had spoken to some of the most respected coaches in the league in JT Herzog, Kevin Sibson, Jerry Windell, Darnell Booker and Johnny Walker.  We all agreed that it may be a time to change things.  So we set off on this journey which started last fall.

What are we trying to accomplish, some ask and why change things?  Everyone has an opinion but what we are trying to do is gather information.  We want to try and take the league to the next level competitively.  We believe that gathering information is the start.  Data leads to better decisions and with data, we can make more informed decisions on how we set up the league.  Let’s explore the current process and short term goals we have.  After exploring this, I’ll take you into other things that would happen organically if this was adopted and paths this could lead us down.

Learn from the past

NBBA LogoWhen I entered this league in 2003, we had a random draw to place teams into brackets.  The top two teams from each bracket went to a championship round and the bottom two teams went to the “barbeque bracket”.  That’s how it was.  It was simple…and totally unfair. I witnessed the Chicago Bluff making the championship bracket because they happened to be in an easy bracket.  I witnessed the Oklahoma City Bombers trounce every team in the barbeque bracket because their bracket was stacked.  It was random, it was impossible to predict what would happen if this was still the case, I think I would be bald, pulling my hair out.

JT Herzog led the charge to change this to the process we use today.  It was so much improved.  Not only did it focus on seeding and some level of intelligence, it allowed for seeding games at the end of the week.  This is a key point, the seeding games.  Before these existed…your world series would be over once you lost two games. Imagine booking flights for a week and playing three games on Tuesday and two games on Wednesday and being done…but you can’t leave till Sunday.  That change alone in my mind was amazing!  More than half the teams in this league are comprised of new teams, small teams and teams not made up of all stars.  These teams need an opportunity to be heard.  I speak from one of these teams, the Boston Renegades have been in the league since 2002 and it’s been a long journey to get to where we are today.

What are we proposing

Ever hear the word, Pilot?  I work in software and we pilot things all the time.  A pilot is an ability to try something, gather feedback and improve it to make it better.  That’s what this is.  We have some of the most dedicated beep ball coaching minds involved in this project and we have been discussing this since the fall.  Our goal is to see if this can work as a better way of seeding then the current system.  We have discussed the key things a team needs to win and agreed upon things such as:

Top level pitching
Speed
Solid defense
Coaching
Good hitting
Roster depth

Teams need all of this and more to compete for the title and these things are not easy to accomplish for many of our squads.  Some people have asked, why their team was not involved.  The answer is that it’s a pilot.  Actually the original proposal was to have a rep from every team involved…but we had a hard time getting participation so we wanted to start small and work out the kinks.  Yes, there are a few others out there who should be involved. And when the time is right, they will be invited.  What we want to avoid is having unqualified people (for example, someone new to the league) or people who don’t have the time to be involved…. Again, it’s a pilot.

We get together and gather data and talk about the teams.  With this group we have representation from the east, Texas, the mid-west and the west.  That covers a big part of the league.  So we discuss what we have seen amongst ourselves and then we vote.

Voting process

Originally, we were going to vote on all 21 teams going to the series but that was a hard exercise to do.  Some coaches felt it would be too much to rank all teams they don’t see play.  As the NCAA does, we decided to focus on the top portion of our league.  For the NCAA this is top 25, for the nbba, we decided to start with the top 12 because there would be six brackets and we wanted to focus on the top two of each bracket.

Down to 12 teams to vote on, each coach on the poll voted by giving 12 points to the best team, 11 points to the second best team all the way down to 1 point for the 12th team.  We published the final tally of voting.  What did we find?  We found that most teams were voted within a few spots of each other from all the coaches involved.  Nothing was very far out of whack.

What data is available

Getting data was very hard.  We quickly learned there are a lot of rumors out there.  But worse than that, we learned many teams just don’t know how to score a game.  Looking at score sheets in Texas and the East Coast was like deciphering code.  So what did we get?  Steve Guerra joined us to confirm the roster movement so that we had knowledge of what was happening on rosters.  We discussed the leagues schedules.  Sadly, outside the World Series, there was only 5 tournaments this year prior to the series.  Dallas in late May.  Indy thunder and 1st leg of the Beast if the East in early June.  Bolingbrook a week later.  The last leg of the Beast if the East in July.  Darnell and JT gave us stats from their tournaments.  Rob and Kevin provided information about the teams they saw in their respective tournaments.

We knew if teams were short major players.  We knew if teams were pitching back up pitchers.  We knew the field conditions (which so often play into the score).

But this showed us a major hole we have.  First, not all teams know how to keep score or just don’t historically care.  Few scoresheets show pitcher stats (or who pitched). Teams don’t write last names of players and sometimes the score sheets don’t add up to the amount of runs the team scored.  Some teams don’t record who made defensive stops or even record substitutions in a way all can understand. It’s something we need to clean up.

But the opportunity we have is we need to do more with our regional tournaments.  We need to show perspective players and sponsors we play ball all year long.  These tournaments count.  The data we can get from them should count more than what a team’s World Series finish was in the previous year.  These games tell us who is playing, and not playing.  They help us identify exciting new rookies who can make an impact and help us get a taste of the game.

Let’s face it…if you have read this far.  You love the sport.  Having this data can help make this game so much more exciting and enjoyable

What have we struggled with

We just discovered one of the major obstacles, the scoresheets.  It goes further than this.  Even if everyone had good scoresheets, the whole process is manual.  Imagine a future where we score games on a device.  That device records pitch by pitch stats.  That device stores the stats to be analyzed.  Most importantly, that device can be used to play the games live in the cloud for viewers to watch a game cast.  This is doable, MLB at bat does it and Tourney Machine is working on it as well.  There are smaller companies out there who also do it.  We just need some help to code an app for beep ball.  It would not be too hard for a company that has this skill already.  Heck, if we can get organized and move in this direction, we could likely find a sponsor to fund it.

We have also struggled with some negativity from the membership.  Look at the goal here.  All of sports and business is moving toward using data to make decisions.  All of these industries are finding new ways to measure their business.  Why should we be different?  We can do better.  We need to move away from a mindset that things are fair for everyone with our current system.  They are not.  Who is hurt the worst by the current process?  You think it’s a team like Taiwan that is hurt?  You’d be wrong.  The team most hurt by the current seeding are teams in the 8-9-10 seeds.  The teams who normally are busting their humps to try to get to the next level.  How are they hurt?  Typically, they are a mid-level team and based on the previous year, earned a two seed in their bracket.  Then a team like Taiwan (or San Antonio or the Edge) is thrown into their bracket…and normally, they come out of their bracket as a 3 seed.  This forces them to play early morning games the next day.  This also typically puts them in a position to play 6 games in the first two days.  Remember, they “earned” a two seed the year before.  Bottom line, if it’s just Taiwan we worry about…they may still get a two seed…just in a different bracket.

Next steps with pilot

We just recently finished up our second set of rankings.  A few key takeaways are as follows
1. These rankings are far from perfect….BUT, the variance we had was typically 1-2 seeds.  A few times we varied by 3 seeds.  There was nobody ranking Taiwan 21st.  Maybe it’s not perfect, but it’s closer to reality than Taiwan at 21
2. This was a fun exercise.  Talking rosters, schedules and movement is fun.  Heck, it would be for most in the league.  Imagine having this type of data available for everyone?  It could help make the league more than a one week world series.  It could bring more hype to local tournaments and double headers.  All of that leads to more exposure and will help teams recruit new players.  Growth is good!
3. The final rankings will not reflect the seedlings.  Why? Some of these teams will face each other and bounce the other out.  How can that happen?  Mis-seeding!  You should have gotten that by now…wink wink

Impact in 2017

So…can you guess the team who is most impacted this year?  Chicago.  They have San Antonio and Taiwan in their bracket.  If Taiwan plays like they do historically, Chicago could head out as the three seed.  Know what else happens?  They wreck a few opponents in their wake and knock their seeds down as well.  Who knows, it could be your team!

Minnesota is also in trouble.  They come in as a 9 seed.  If Taiwan is any good and grabs a 1 or 2 seed…that sends Chicago out as a 3 seed.  This would set up Minnesota’s first two games to be against either Taiwan or San Antonio…and then their second game could be against Chicago.  That’s a two and screw and Minnesota could be looking at the 13-16 bracket.

Two other teams are mis seeded in long island and St. Luis.  Both of these teams are existing teams who were not at the series last year.  Long island is not a 20 seed that is for sure.  They finished 2nd in the beast of the east.  They also beat the New Jersey Titans this year and the Titans are ranked in the middle of the pack.  St. Luis is a story. They are made up of many players and the pitcher who pitched for Atlanta last season.  Atlanta was one of the great stories of the 2016 World Series.  There is no way they should be lumped at the bottom.  These mis seedlings will hurt some of the teams fighting for the 13-16 brackets.

Cost of series for international
Some people think the current system can’t be changed.  Think of the cost for teams to come internationally.  I heard recently, it costs Taiwan $30,000 for airfare to come.  How can we honestly expect them to come every year?  The Dominican is coming this year…but going to Wisconsin will be much more expensive for them than Florida.  If we want to move closer to an international game, we have to remember it’s much harder for these teams.  We need to move to a better solution for everyone.

In sum, where can this take us?

1. We need to work on having excitement year round for this sport with key dates and milestones.  It needs to be about more than the World Series.  There is growing excitement for Bolingbrook, but they may only be able to take 8 teams there.  This idea can help us build that excitement
2. We need to publicize games and schedules of the teams.  The Renegades played 10 games leading up to the series.  The Thunder played 10 games as well.  These two teams finished 1-2 in 2017.  Boston proved the level of interest in the media at its beast of the east date.  At that tournament, we had 5 TV networks, 1 radio station and 3 newspapers.  This happens with hard work.  That press helps the entire league with exposure as some of it went “viral”.
3. Facebook live videos were such an amazing idea.  That idea needs growth.  We need to make games available to the public, not just a private group.  To do this, we need higher quality broadcasts.  Ones where we know who is batting, who makes the outs, video that shows the play…clearly.  Maybe work with a tripod and a microphone to cut out wind noise.  People like Lindsey Woodard and Andrea Guerra were Pioneers.  They brought an amazing idea to the league..and they did it well.  Time to take it to the next level.  A tool like what MLB at bat has can help…big time
4. Data is the key.  The more data we have, the better we can make seeding decisions. Also, if we can collect this in an automated manner, we can get sponsors to help
5. The more unified we are, the more exposure we will get.  That exposure will lead to a higher rate of growth in the league if we cultivate it
6. We discussed at length that this process can be done, and it can be done in a way that would improve the integrity of the league for everyone.
7. Stop thinking about your team and start thinking about the impact to all teams.  Fairness starts when we think of everyone.  If your seed changes by 1 spot, does it really matter much in the long run?  You will get the chance to prove yourself when the games play.  This change helps stop seeding mistakes by 20 spots that impact others.

I hope people will read this, re read it and truly give it some thought.  Think of the positives.  Think what it’s like to play for your home town team and set a goal of moving your seed up every year.  Not every team can win the World Series..but every team can work to improve their seed.  Improving your seed should be in your control.  With today’s system…it’s not in your control.  There are many more positives to this concept than negatives.  The thought process has been put in…This is not taken lightly.  We all hope you can help make this league better for everyone with the goal of growing the sport to cities and players whom never dreamt it possible to play baseball without their sight.

2016 NBBA World Series Statistical breakdown – Strength of Schedule

SABR Cartoon

For the past two years, we have written about the NBBA World Series statistical breakdown of Strength of Schedule.  The Renegades have an analytical side.  We break down much of the game into stats.  It helps us baseline, set goals and improve.  In 2014, we brought the concept of Strength of Schedule to the forefront.  At first, a few teams thought it was non sense.  Reality is its food for thought.  As the league continues to grow, we need to help it improve.  This past season may have been one of the most exciting beepball seasons ever.  As in March madness, people fill out their brackets to see who they think will win.  How many people would have picked the Indy Thunder over the Renegades in the championship game?  Bet you didn’t have that filled out!  The more discussion and thought we put into theses things, the better our league will become.  With teamwork, communication, marketing and public relations will come great opportunity.  Let’s move this league into the next level of competitive sports and get organized.

 

2016 Roster Changes

As we did the past two years, we have tried to come up with a method to measure the strength of each team’s schedule.  This can be a telling story on how hard a World Series schedule each team has.  Currently, the way the league seeds teams is to look at their finish in the prior year’s World Series.  Keep in mind, this is all that is done to seed.   If a roster is completely overhauled – the team does not move up or down the rankings.  Here is where it gets ugly.  If a team did not attend the previous year’s series, they are seeded in the order they got their registration fee into the league.  All of these teams are placed at the bottom of the brackets with no insight into who is on those teams.  This can produce a ton of problems for teams trying to play for a seed.  We discussed that in 2015 there was 24 teams BUT only 16 teams returned from the 2014 World Series.  This meant we had 8 teams playing in the World Series who were not seeded.  This was less of an issue in 2016 because the World Series contracted a bit to 20 teams.  Though before the World Series started there was already drama in the seeding. Have a seat and grab your popcorn as we look at some of the drama…

  • #17 Indy Edge – There was a lot of drama in Indy in the off season.  The RHI E-xtreme lost their sponsor and had to rename their team.  There was some shuffling around but 6 players on the roster from 2015 returned.  With the Indy shuffle, they also picked up some players from the Indy Thunder and the Indy Knights. The Edge also picked up two players from the New Jersey Lightning  So, the NBBA seeding policy looks at this as a new team name though they had just one new player in the league.  By the time they got to the World Series, they did have a rookie pitcher (who did great)..but to start the year, they were planning to go with the Indy Knights pitcher who took the Knights to a .375 batting average in 2015.  This was no #17 seed?
  • #18 San Antonio Jets – What do you get when you take the starting pitcher off the recent two time World Champs (Kevin Sibson), surround him with two of their young starting players (Zac Arambula and Axel Cox), add in a player who had won a title for them (Richie Flores), sprinkle in two long time players with a lot of success in the league (Dave Benney and Jason Ackiss).  Then add in some of the most exicting rookies in the league with Ricky Ruzika and the Almanza cousins.  You get a powerhouse offense.  Some people were saying they would be contending for a championship…but they were seeded 18th!
  • #19 Iowa Reapers – Ok…Iowa probably deserved this seed or something close to it.  They had won two games in the 2014 World Series against the Athens Timberwolves.  They did not play in 2015’s World Series.  With the mindset of seeding new teams at the bottom of the league…this felt ok.
  • #20 Seattle South King Sluggers – This truly felt right for them.  Seattle had never played in a World Series before and this was a big step for them.  Not one of their players on the roster had ever played in a World Series.  This was the true meaning of a new team.

Every year, teams seem to shuffle their rosters and 2016 was no exception.  Here are the rosters with the most turnover

  • #1 Austin Blackhawks – Austin remained the number one seed despite losing their pitcher and two starters.  Arumbala and Cox represented 31% of the runs scored in 2015.  All of these three left for the start of the Jets.  Austin replaced Kevin with Tim Hibner at pitcher (Tim won a few World Series with the Dawgs) and many consider him one of the top pitchers in the game.  Austin also recruited Chance Cranford, a former world Champion with the Dawgs).  But to give the Blackhawks a one seed with this team may have been a stretch because they simply lacked the depth and speed they had in the past.
  • #3 Bayou City Heat – They lost a .500 hitter in John Kibodeaux and their leader in defensive stops, Greg Gontaryk.  In their place, they picked up three players from the Colorado Storm and two players from the Long Island Bombers.  This is a lot of turnover for a top team
  • #4 Colorado Storm – Colorado Entered this tournament without two starters from the previous year in Doug Biggins and Mike Malloy as well as the loss of John Parker.  This trio represented 28% of the Storm’s 2015 offense and 39% of it’s defensive stops not made by the human Vacuum, Ethan Johnston.  Colorado returned Chad Sumner which helped the cause but he could not replace the results of three players by himself.
  • #6 Indy Thunder – With the demise of the Extreme, they picked up a few of their players.  This included Clint Woodard (who was 2nd on the RHI E-xtreme in defensive stops in 2015), Kyle Lewis (who hit .,533 in limited time with the Extreme) and Ed Brown(who hit .649 and led the Knights in runs).  But they also had picked up a few very exciting rookies that had been lighting up local tournaments in Gerald Dycus and Zach Buhler.  It should also be noted that Darnell Booker took a different role which allowed one of the top pitchers in the game to pitch.  this pitcher had won a title with the Kansas All-stars and his name is Jarred Woodard.  This team looked stacked going into the Series but remained a 6 seed.  If Vegas had odds on a champion, it was a sure money bet the Thunder had the best odds.
  • #9 Lone Star Road Runners – They lost their team leader in defensive stops (Richie Flores).  Flores also gave them 12 runs of offense in 2015.  Lone star also lost PJ Navarro and Marlon Stover.  This is a whopping 57% of their offensive production from the 2015 team.  With this loss and lack of proven replacements, they should have been knocked down a few seeds.

Which teams were impacted by the improper seeding?

With the break up of the RHI E-xtreme, Taiwan not returning and Austin losing players, it felt like for the first time in years there was a lot of parity in the league.  In past years, the blatant mis-seeding had wrecked havoc on a few teams.  The Indy Thunder and Long Island Bombers were last years victim of the mis-seeding    This year in the end, the teams most impacted by the seeding were the Austin Blackhawks, the Minnesota Millers and the Southwest Slammers.

Why?  Austin had to face San Antonio as their 2nd round opponent.   If you believed they deserved the #1 seed, they should not have been playing the Jets this early in the dance.  For the first time in years, Austin found its way to the loser’s bracket on Thursday morning.  Minnesota and Southwest were two teams impacted in a different way.  Both these teams earned a two seed in their bracket based on last year’s play.  However, they both got bumped to the three seed after pool play was over because the Edge and Jets earned the two seed over them.  At face value, this seems fare…BUT.  One could argue that Minnesota and the Slammers earned their two seed more than the Lonestar Roadrunners and Atlanta Eclipse.  The end result of this mis-seeding forced both the Slammers and Millers to have to play 10 games (no other team played more than 9 games).  Their 1-2 records on day one forced them to play at 9:00am on Tuesday.  With proper seeding, this would not have happened to them.  In the end it may not have made a huge difference but it did force both these teams to play three games on three consecutive days  in a row.  This is a grueling sport to be forced to do this.  It would take its toll on most teams in this league.

Let’s get to the Strength of Schedule stats

With all of this in mind, let’s look at the Strength of Schedule of the teams that played in the 2016 World Series.  The math is simple.  What we do is look at the final ranking of each team and add those rankings up.  Then we divide that sum by the total amount of games played.  This comes up with a figure that represents the average seed of the team they faced.  So for example, The Boston Renegades played 9 games against the following teams San Antonio Jets (5) + BCS Outlaws (16) + Minnesota Millers (9) + Southwest (11) + Chicago (8)+ Colorado (3) + Indy Thunder (1) +  Colorado (3) + Indy Thunder (1).  This equates to a score of 57 and we divide that by 9 games to get 6.3.  This means the average seed of a Renegade Opponent would be ranked 6th in the league.

Please note this Strength of Schedule score does not take into account the amount of games played.  A team playing 9-10 games is forced to play 3 games on multiple days of the World Series- and this can take a huge toll on a team.  Last year, the Taiwan Home Run were so mis-seeded they had to play what was possibly a World Series record of 12 games.  This year six teams played 7 games. six teams played 8 games, six teams played 9 games and The Southwest Slammers and Minnesota Millers were forced to play 10 games each.

SOS Rank WS finish Team Games Record SOS
1 2 Boston 9 7-2 6.33
2 3 Colorado 9 6-3 6.78
3 5 San Antonio 9 5-3 7.00
4 7 Indy Edge 8 6-2 8.00
T-5th 8 Chicago 8 4-4 9.50
T-5th 1 Indy Thunder 8 8-0 9.50
7 6 Austin 9 6-3 9.67
8 12 Lone Star 8 3-5 9.75
9 4 Bayou City 9 7-2 9.89
10 13 NJ Titans 7 3-4 10.29
11 10 Atlanta 8 4-4 10.38
12 11 Southwest 10 5-5 10.50
13 9 Minnesota 10 6-4 10.80
14 16 BCS 9 2-7 10.89
15 14 Tyler 7 2-5 11.71
16 15 Arizona 9 3-6 11.89
17 17 Iowa 7 2-5 12.29
18 18 Seattle 7 1-6 12.43
19 20 Athens 7 0-7 13.71
20 19 Rochester 7 2-5 13.86

As the Renegades climb the NBBA ladder, Boston has now played the toughest schedule in two of the past three years at the World Series (8th hardest in 2015).  That says a lot for how far this team has come in its ability to manage a tournament and improve its play on the field.

Unlike last year where the quantity of games played was so varied (mostly due to the mis-seeding). Beyond the Millers and Slammers all teams played between 7-9 games.    Some key findings from looking at SOS (Strength of Schedule) include:

  • The Renegades made the title game and their only losses on the year came against the Indy Thunder.  They had quality wins over San Antonio, Chicago and Colorado, twice.
  • Colorado had a very tough road as well.  Even tougher when you recall they lost three players from their 2015 roster.  Two of their three losses came at the hands of the Renegades.  The other was on day one, to the Indy Edge.
  • Once again, the Bayou City Heat had an easy schedule. Four of their 9 games were against teams who finished 12th or higher.  They entered the dance seeded 2nd and finished in the 4 spot.  The best seed they played was Colorado and they lost to them twice.  They had “easy” wins over Iowa (17th), NJ Titans (13th) and Lone star, twice- (12th).
  • Minnesota which had a very tough year in 2015 had an easier time this year if you look strictly at strength of schedule.  Though they played 10 games, 7 of them were against opponents who finished 10th or higher.
  • The Indy Edge, which entered as a 17 seed, finished 7th but had the 4th hardest road to get there.  It would be expected their road would be hard based on the fact they were mis-seeded.  They actually beat the three seed (Colorado) in the round robin.  However, they lost to the Thunder (1) and Austin (6) – the former champs to knock them out of contention.  They were a scary team to have to face for sure.
  • The Indy Thunder had an easy first two days as their first four opponents finished 20th, 19th, 8th and 13th

In Conclusion

What makes the NBBA unique is that many games are played throughout the year.  Sadly, there is not an easy way (and cost effective way) for the league to track the progress of the teams…YET.  Maybe with experience and finances this could change in the future.  For now, we have to play with the World Series stats.  Its the only thing we have for the Beep baseball seam heads who like stats.  We come together for one glorious week to play ball.   In 2016, we saw a lot of parity in the league. To start the year, we saw two top teams break apart as Austin and RHI had some significant changes.  We also witnessed for the first time since 198o, two teams who had never been in a title game face off against each other with the Thunder beating the Renegades.  As we look toward 2017, we hope we can make some changes to the way we seed.  Heck, we can expect the Taiwan Home Run to be back..are we really going to seed them 21st again?  I hope we have learned from this and the fact it hurts other teams just as much as it hurts them.  Lets work toward seeding things correctly.  And yes, this writer has a proposal for that.  However, thats a story for another time

2016 NBBA All Rookie Teams

Story by Rob Weissman

One critcal part of beep baseball is the development of rookies.  We want to encourage as many new players as we can to play this game. Opportunity must be made available for them to play.  The league is very proud of its growth over the years, as it should be.  Moving the World Series around the country has helped spring up multiple teams in Georgia (Atlanta Eclipse, Athens Timberwolves, Columbus Midnight Stars).  Iowa brought us the Reapers.  Rochester, NY gave us the Pioneers.  These teams have added so much depth and helped fill out the league.  Most of these teams are filled with players who had never played the game before.  The world series brought awareness to their cities and opportunity for their visually impaired population.

The opportunity we still have as a league is growing the existing programs.  Rosters seem to change a lot.  Heck, even new teams will pop up. The things is these new teams are rarely filled with new players.  Often times, they are the same players just playing in a different jersey.  A perfect example of this is the Indy Edge which the league considers a new team.  No disrespect to the Edge, but they listed 16 players on their roster.  Two of those players came from the New Jersey Lightning.  Only one player on the roster had never appeared in an NBBA World Series, Chris Dunleavy. Is this is really a new team and is the league truly growing?

It would be great if we can track how many new players are joining each year (Steve Guerra is starting to track this…applauds to him for sure).  That metric would be telling.  How many of them are on new teams (The entire Seattle roster were rookies this year). Vs how many are on existing teams.  to grow our great sport, we need to do more in our local communities to get players involved.  This should be the goal over trying to win a ring.  A goal to win a ring by filling your roster with players that grew up in your system.

The 2016 Championship game between the Renegades and the Indy Thunder may have not been the best game ever.  Heck, Boston got 12 runned. But it was a symbol.  A symbol that a team can win without free agents.  A team can win by growing their roster.  Yes, Boston and Indy got there taking different routes.  The Thunder’s players have played on many teams including Chicago, Kansas and even other Indy teams.  It is believed that everyone on that roster comes from Indy.  Look at the Renegades.  Every player on that roster has played 100% of their games in a Renegade uniform and has grown up in the Boston system.  Each team on that field despite the slight differences mentioned above got there for one main reason.  Rookies!

As we have done in past years, we have spent this space looking at who the top rookies are.  This is not official.  There is no real award given out and our definition of a rookie is soley based on one person’s knowledge of the league.  Since we only have world series stats to look at, a rookie is merely defined as someone who Rob Weissman does not think has ever played in a World Series in previous years.  This may have a level of error in it.

As the league does, we will use the same metrics to name the all star teams.  Offense will use batting average and defense will use stops per game (a metric that is horrific in so many ways …but worse for rookies).   why is the defensive metric bad for rookies?  Its very hard to teach a rookie defense and even harder to put them up front in the defense where all the stops are made.  These defensive stats will only tell part of the story.  Each player on this list should be applauded.  Equally important, the teams who recruited them and coached them should take pride as well.
Let’s start with the defensive all stars this year.  It was hard to find players who put up big numbers here.  Again, many rookies take time before earning the trust of their team to go up front on the point to lead the defense.

All Rookie Defense Team

Defensivley all we can use to rank the players is defensive stops…and compare their stops to how many their team made.  There is a theme here in that all of these players played on teams in the 2nd half of the league.  Atlanta finished 10th and had player make the list.  This is no knock on any player, it makes a point that its very hard for a top tier team to break a rookie into the defense.  Defense takes time to learn.

Name Team Team finish Games played Stops Avg
Jesus Baeza BCS 16th 9 38 4.2
Ricky Kim Seattle 18th 7 19 2.7
Carnell Walker Atlanta 10th 8 18 2.3
Bryan Duarte Arizona 15th 9 8 .89
Brian Harrington Rochester 19th 7 5 .71
John Margist Southwest 11th 10 6 .60

Kudos to all of these players.  A special kudos to the first three players on this list because its so hard to make a lot of stops on defense as a rookie.  Defense is the hardest thing to learn

  • Baeza was the only player we played against on this list.  Jesus was responsible for 51% of the BCS Outlaws defensive stops.  Baeza made 4 stops against the Renegades which became common ground for him.  He made 4 or more stops in 6 of the 9 games he played in.  His best game was a 9 stop effort against the Bayou City Heat.  Baeza led BCS in stops in every game they played during the week.  He and Crystal Stark (from last years defensive all star rookie team) counted for 73% of the stops for BCS
  • Ricky Kim is on a team full of Rookies as this was Seattle’s first World Series ever.  Kim has played for Seattle for three years prior to this, but they had never played in an official NBBA event before against experienced teams.  Kim stopped 59% of the balls for the Seattle defense.  He made 4 stops in four of the seven games Seattle played in.  He led the team in stops in 5 of the 6 games Seattle played (they played one game in which the team never made a put out against Atlanta)
  • Carnell Walker was an exciting young prospect for the up and coming Atlanta Eclipse. Walker was 2nd on the Eclipse with 18 stops behind the vacuum of Isaiah Wilcox (who led the league with 53 stops).  Walker’s best game was against the BCS outlaws when he made 6 stops.  He also had a 3 stop game against Tyler.  Walker was one of the best two way rookies in the league as he also scored 11 times and hit .344 just missing that list on offense.
  • Bryan Duarte was aa Arizona Phenom and finished 2nd on the Phenoms with 8 stops.  His best effort was a three stop game against the Southwest Slammers in the first game of the World Series.  He had 4 games without a stop as well which goes to show you how hard it is to get rookies playing time on defense
  • Brian Harrington is 5th on this list with just 5 stops.  He was third on the Rochester Pioneer team in stops.  His best game was a 2 stop performance against the BCS Outlaws
  • John Margist makes the list with a mere 6 stops…though he led all rookies in games played with 10.  Margist did not show much defense all week until the 10th game.  In that last game he had three stops (50% of his total for the week) against the Lonestar Roadrunners.

All Rookie Offense Team

Offensively, we can look at batting average and strike outs to get a feel of how well the rooks are doing

Name Team Team Finish Runs At bats Strike outs Average
Gerald Dycus Indy 1st 23 34 3 .676
Zach Buhler Indy 1st 19 31 4 .613
John Margist Southwest 11th 22 45 13 .489
Ricky Ruzica San Antonio 5th 17 36 6 .472
Eddie Culp Iowa 17th 10 24 9 .417
Todd Paulson Minnesota 9th 9 24 9 .375
Shawn Devenish BOSTON 2nd 12 34 8 .353
  • Gerald Dycus was not only the class of the Rookies, he was one of the top hitters in the league.  Dycus finished with the third best batting average in the league during the week.  Only five players in the league scored more times than Dycus on the series.  This rookie has speed and power to all fields.  He is dangerous .  He scored a hat trick in 7 of the 8 games he played.  He will be a force in this league for years to come.  As a rookie he only struck out 9% of the time.  We played against Dycus twice and he went 6-11 against the Renegades and did not strike out.
  • Zach Buhler is the second player on this list and the second rookie from the Indy Thunder.  Its not hard to see how they won the title with these two rooks.  Buhler hit a mere .613 which was good enough for 6th in the league and only 2nd behind his teammate amongst all rookies.  Buhler is incredibly fast and has power to boot.  He is another tough out.  Buhler also had a hat trick in 5 of the 7 games he played in.  Buhler played against the Renegades and was 6-10 with just one whiff.
  • John Margist is this years Hideki Matsui.  We know he is no rookie to Beepball as he plays for the Philly Fire.  But we have to be fair and put him on this list because we believe this was his first World Series.  John had a big tournament t0 put him on the map in Chicago this year.  But The Renegades knew he could hit before that.  Only 3 players in the league had more At-bats than John.  He either led or tied the Slammers in most runs scored in a game for them in 7 of the 10 games they played. He scored three runs in a game 5 times during the week.  His strike out rate is high (29%) but keep in mind he lives in Philly and did not work with this team much during the year.  Margist was 3-4 against the Renegades with just 1 strike out.  He was responsible for 3 of the 4 runs the Slammers scored on the Renegades.
  • Ricky Ruzika should be no surprise to this list based on the fact he is young and played baseball. Ruzika has a sweet swing and some power.  He had his best game against the Austin Blackhawks when he scored four runs in a game (an unofficially may have been one of two rookies to accomplish that feat this season).  He also had a trifecta against Lonestar. Ricky played his first World Series game against the Renegades and was 2-5 with 2 strike outs.  It was the only game he struck out twice in all week.
  • Eddie Culp was a surprise to this list for sure.  Iowa was putting up some runs for the first time ever this season.  Culp was a big part of that.  Eddie represented 25% of the Reaper offense with his 10 runs as he was second on the Reapers in runs scored.  He scored a pair against Bayou City, Southwest, NJ Titans and the Rochester Pioneers.  Though we did not see him play, his stats show he was a huge help to the Reaper offense.
  • Todd Paulson scored his first career run against the Renegades and it was a nice moment for him that we enjoyed.   Paulson did not see a lot of playing time early but as his big bat got hot, he earned more playing time.  He was just 1-4 on the first day of the Series in three games.  He then had a 4 run game against Seattle(we believe he and Ruzika were the only rookie to do this in the series).  Paulson may not be the fleetest of foot but he has some good pop in his bat.
  • Yes.  Thats 6 players…..BUT, this is a Renegade web site and we are going to play homage to the 7th best batting average in the league because its our award and this rookie helped us get into the Title game.  That made three rookies in the title game!
    • Shawn Devenish.  Shawn got off to a shaky start with the Renegades this year as he sprained his wrist in the 2nd game of his career.  All year, he was bothered by a bum wrist.  When he squared up the ball…he could hit it as far if not further than any rookie on this list.  Shawn’s 12 runs were 5th most amongst all rookies in the league and he did this playing against the hardest schedule in the league (thats an article for another time).  Devenish had multi run games against San Antonio, Minnesota, Chicago and the Indy Thunder.  Those are some of the top teams in the league.  He also scored the game tying run against the Colorado Storm in the 6th inning that forced the game to go into extra innings.  Putting a rookie in that spot after he was 0-4 with a missed base was an amazing way for his him to show his mental toughness.  He deserved to be on this list…especially since we played against 5 of the 6 guys on the list and he deserves to be mentioned amongst the best rookie hitters in the league!

Shaen Devenish hitting a base is Boston's rep on the NBBA Rookie teamAfter having a Renegade Rookie lead the league in hitting the past two years (Rob Dias and Christian Thaxton), We added Shawn Devenish to the mix this year.  Though he did not lead the league, he did make a major contribution and scored the 5th most runs of any rookie at the series.  Shawn found the Renegades when he was just looking for some sports to play for the blind.  He found our web site on Google.  Shawn came out and played in a charity game with the team in September of 2015 and was super excited.  He was sold even though he was not 100% sure where he would live.  He was going to have a long commute wherever he was.  We were unsure if that commute would be a barrier to him playing.  Shawn filled out the CAF grant and we knew he was serious.  He then made the trek to almost every practice despite being nearly a 2 hour round trip ride.

Coach Weissman knew pretty quickly that we had a special player because Shawn was very coachable from the start.  His knowledge of hitting even passed some of the veterans when the players were quizzed about their mechanics as he aced his “test”.  Devenish worked hard, had fun and was a great teammate from the start even though he bolted right after each practice.  His first game, he was the lead off hitter and the rover in the defense against the New Jersey Lightning and he scored in his 2nd at-bat of the game to the delight of his teammates.  In his second game he scored again against the Long Island Bombers but also hurt his wrist going over third base.  He tried to play through it and every swing he had left him with a grimace on his face.  The medical team pulled him out and he was done playing at that time.  We determined Shawn needed to rest his wrist and we shut him down for a short time.  Every practice, we taped him up and we held our breathe to see how he would do in Philly.

He told the team he felt fine, but we taped him anyway and he again played in the first two games of the Philly tournament.  We moved him up in the line up and in his 3rd game, the first game of the Philly tourney.  The result, he scored three runs (which were critical since the game went 8 innings).  He followed that up scoring one more run against Long Island before it was decided his wrist had enough and we shut him down again.  He was sore after playing.  We had just over two weeks to get him ready for the World Series.

2LA_0518

Coach. Dr. Mike Marciello was one of the medical staff to keep Shawn on the field. He is shown here wrapping Shawn up before a game. Yuki, Peg and Lisa all helped him stay on the field with tape and exercises through the summer

Thankfully, we have an amazing medical team and they were able to help him strengthen the wrist and wrapped him every practice.  Shawn had no limits on him at the World Series though we kept a watchful eye on him.  We know he was never at 100% the whole season.  We found out that he loves to play and is willing to play through pain.  Shawn was a critical part of our success this season and was surely one of the most impressive offensive rookies in the game in 2016.

Introducing rookies to the game is one of the most exciting parts of being a coach.  Each year some of the most memorable moments for the Renegade coaching staff involves watching a new player succeed at the game.  We celebrate their first runs and first defensive outs.  Developing new talent is hard.  Its not only hard to teach them, its even harder to recruit players because the blind community is a small population.

Rookies are imperative to the long term success of the team.  When we looked at the roster the Renegades brought to the World Series.  39% of the roster joined the Renegades in the past three seasons.  The Renegades are one of the few teams that have this dynamic.  Not only has it helped improve our culture and our game, its has helped so many people learn and enjoy the game which leads to more opportunity for the blind community to play ball!

To see the previous NBBA All Rookie team rosters click the links below

 

 

2015 NBBA All Rookie Teams

Story by Rob Weissman

Every year the NBBA names players to the all-offense and all-defense all star teams.  This year, the Renegades placed a player on these teams for the eighth time in the past 14 years. I have always wondered about what else the league could do.

Major League Baseball has a rookie of the year award.  This got me thinking about the importance of rookies to the game.  They add excitement to the league.  Heck, they add excitement to any team.  I know on our squad, the coaches and the veteran players love seeing new players succeed.  We love to celebrate their first run and their first stop on defense.  It’s a huge accomplishment for everyone involved because we all play a part in their development as a player.

In my 14 year tenure of coach of the renegades, I have witnessed plenty of rookies on our team and in the league.  One thing is for certain; being a rookie in beep baseball is unlike being a rookie in most leagues.  Why?  Most players have never even seen or witnessed beepball before they play for the first time.  A rookie in the NBBA is truly new to everything from wearing a blindfold to knowing the defensive schemes and strategies to understanding the basic rules.  Some rookies have never run full speed before and have no concept of what a baseball swing should look like.  This is much harder than even little league.  At least little leaguers have seen the game played.  They know what to expect to an extent. In the NBBA, many rookies are even dealing with the newness of losing their sight and learning how to cope with that significant loss.  Lets face it… Being a rookie in the NBBA is no easy task.

In my 14 years as coach, it has taken a lot of work to get rookies ready to compete.  Many rookies pick up one side of the game quicker than the other.  A general rule of thumb I discuss is a partial sighted player normally picks up the offensive side of the game quicker while a total picks up the defensive side.  The simple reason is most totals have more tuned hearing while many partials can use their limited sight to see what a swing should look like.  Of course this does not apply to everyone.

I do a lot of scouting of the league and I like to believe I have a strong feeling for who many of the players are.  I also pay attention to rosters and can recognize many of the names.  For the 2nd year I decided to try to put together an all rookie team on both sides of the ball and see which teams were making progress developing their young talent. (for the 2014 Rookies of the year see this article)   With 8 teams coming to the 2015 World Series that were not at the previous years series it was a bit harder to know who a true rookie was.

My definition of a rookie is simple.  I picked names of players whom I have not seen on a World Series roster in the past.  Some of these players may have been playing locally for a while.  It’s hard for anyone to know for sure what their experience is without asking.  I know for example that Scott Hogwood has played for years locally against us as a member of the PA Wolfpack.  Since the wolfpack have not been to the World Series since 2007, Scott has not been introduced to the league.  But, I can’t pick on Scott as I’m sure many of the players from the Taiwan Lightning have played for years as well.  Since there is no way of knowing I’m going to treat these awards like MLB does.  Many players come from other countries where they star in their leagues such as Ichiro Suzuki, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Jose Abreu, and Hideo Nomo.  But they have all won Rookie of the year awards even though they had played at the highest level of competition in theier respective countries.  Its funny to make this comparison because almost half of the names on the lists below are from other countries.

I will also mention that I’m a “homer”. I love teams that are 100% home grown and work to build their team year round.  This is no easy task and requires a pipeline of new players to be successful as well as a dedicated group of sighted volunteers and the all important “green stuff” to pay the bills.  Though some of the “all-star teams” or combination teams (when two teams combine players because neither has enough to attend a World Series) may have rookies, they usually don’t see a ton of playing time.  When I looked at what I felt were the top rooks in this years series, one theme popped out…most of them were on teams that were not in the World Series in 2014.  Also, I did not see many of these players play…but I had a front row seat for the player who was the most impactful rookie of the league

Lets check it out:

All Rookie Defense Team

Defensivley all we can use to rank the players is defensive stops…and compare their stops to how many their team made

Name Team Games played Stops Avg
Shih Hsiung Yen Taiwan Lightning 10 36 3.6
Aaron Prevost Canada 8 26 3.3
Jamie Sibson BCS Outlaws 8 19 2.4
Miguel Telo Indy Thunder 10 20 2.0
Mark Demontis Canada 8 14 1.8
Cesar Lezcano AZ Phenom 8 11 1.4
Crystal Stark BCS Outlaws 8 11 1.4

Kudos to all of these Players.

  • Shih Hsung Yen just missed making the actual Defensive all-star team for the whole series at 3.6 stops…as the #6 player was Richie Schultz at 3.625.  He made 49% of the stops for the Taiwan Lightning team stopping 8 balls against the Indy Thunder, 7 against the Arizona Phenom and 6 against the Athens Timberwolves.  He struggled against the bigger hitting teams as he had goose eggs against Colorado and RHI.  He did manage a pair against the Taiwan Home Run.
  • Aaron Prevost is one of two Canadians on this list.  He made 44% of the stops for team Canada and set team highs for Canada against BCS Outlaws and the NJ Lightning making 6 stops in each of those two games.  A true rookie and someone who was not originally on the Canada roster till their captain got knocked out with a concussion the week before World Series.
  • Jamie Sibson paced the BCS Outlaws with 19 stops.  This was 30% of the team’s totals.  Jamie had back-to-back big games against Lodestar and Athens with 6 stops a piece in those games.  BCS was appearing in their first World Series but the team had been playing in Texas for a few years.
  • Miguel Telo is one of two players on this list we saw play.  Indy moved him all over the field as he is a very good fielder (and very young as well)  Telo made 6 stops against the Renegades for his best game of the week and his 20 stops were 2nd on the team for the Thunder for almost 27% of the team’s stops.
  • Mark Demontis – The second Canadian on this rookie team.  Like the rest of the team, he was brand new to the sport.  Until Arron Prevost turned it on late in the Dance, Demontis was leading the team in stops.  He made 24% of the stops for the team and he and Arron combined for 68% of the stops
  • Cesar Lezcano was a new player on the Arizona Phenom.  Despite the team being new, much of the roster had experience playing for the Southwest Slammers or the Stockton Stingrays.  Not Cesar.  He was tied for 2nd on the team in stops with 11 but he had a huge game against Long Island making 4 stops to lead his team to victory in that contest.
  • Crystal Stark – Another player from BCS is on the list.  Crystal and Jamie represented 48% of the team’s stops.  Crystal led the team in stops in 2 of their 8 contests with a high of 4 against the Indy Thunder.

All Rookie Offense Team

Offensively, we can look at batting average and strike outs to get a feel of how well the rooks are doing

Name Team Runs At bats Strike outs Average
Christian Thaxton Boston 23 32 2 .719
Scott Hogwood Southwest 25 43 10 .581
Ho Cheng Chi Taiwan Lightning 15 32 16 .469
Shao Hao Huang Taiwan Home Run 17 37 6 .459
Martin Dufour Canada 12 29 5 .414
Jun Qin Chen Taiwan Lightning 11 28 7 .393
  • Our own Christian Thaxton is on top of the list.  This makes sense as he placed 4th in the league with this average.  More on him later
  • Scott Hogwood finished second.  Again, I use him as the Ichiro example.  He has been leading the Philly attack for years with a mighty swing.  We knew what he was capable of and the rest of the league found out who he was on the field.  Though not a rookie for sure, this was his first World Series and he did it playing for a team he had never played with before (a team from Arizona).
  • Ho Cheng Chi is one of two players from the Taiwan Lightning.  Its unclear how experienced he was but this was the team’s first appearance at the World Series.  He may not have made this list if not for a huge performance in his last game of the series against the Indy Knights where he went 5-5.  Scoring 5 runs in a game is a pretty big feat and is not a common occurrence.  Its important to note he also struck out 50% of the time…or you could say when he put the ball in play he scored 94% of the time!
  • Shao Hao Huang helped get the Taiwan Home Run to the Championship game.  This batting average would have led many teams but for Taiwan five of his teammates had higher batting averages.  He was part of a platoon as the Home Run gave the bulk of their at-bats to 7 players.  He started both games of the Championship games vs Austin.  Though he was new to the World Series, we think he played a lot of ball in Taiwan locally
  • Martin Dufour helped Team Canada make the chart and this was his first year playing.  He actually represented 38% of the Canada runs scored and had the lowest strike out percentage on the team.
  • Jun Qin Chen is the third player from Taiwan and the 2nd Lightning player on this list.  He was 2nd on his team in average

For the 2nd year in a row, a Boston Renegade rookie has led all Rookies in hitting.  in 2014, our very own Rob Dias led the rookies in hitting

The Renegades started off the season with two rookies in 2015 but come June they had both left the team for great reasons (an internship out of state and health reasons).  Both of these players plan to play for us in the future and will be back.  We caught lightning in a bottle in May when we met Christian Thaxton.  In Late May, Joe Quintanilla came to us and wanted to put a booth at the Carroll Center of the Blind which was having an event while we were practcing.  At that event, he was talking to people about the game and getting people excited about it.  One of the people he met there was Christian.  When the event was over, Q had about 5 people interested in trying the game out,  I joked with him that we did not want anyone from Oklahoma because we had arranged for try outs in the past for people who lived out of state.  How funny was it that Joe Quniatnilla came back with…”well one of them is from Oklahoma!”

IMG_9302When we found out Thaxton played Junior College baseball and that he was excited to be able to play ball again it was a match made in heaven.  He quickly committed to the team which was already 10 practices into the season.  Though he had this experience in baseball he still had a lot to learn about beep baseball and adjustments to make.  Some of those adjustments included running to third base but most importantly hitting without his sight.  He also had a giant team of people to get to know to make sure living them for a week would be something he would want to do.  It was not all cake and ice cream for him at first.  In his first tournament in New Jersey, Thaxton hit just .300 scoring three times against 4 strike outs.  His potential was so high but he had to learn how to track the ball and stop thinking so much.  At our 2nd tournament of the year you could see him stop thinking and start to really swing hard as he improved to .455 going 5-11 with just 2 strike outs.  He credits coach Mike Marciello with helping him get comfortable tracking the ball with his blind fold off in practice before putting it back on and taking more reps.  We were poised to surprise the league with this weapon at the series when the day before we were to leave he was limping badly with a hip injury.

With the help of our amazing medical team and the fact we sat him out for the first three games of the series, Thaxton was able to perform and perform at the highest of levels.  He did not see action until our 4th game of the dance against Tyler.  At that point Boston was up 8-2 in the bottom of the first and he entered as a pinch hitter to replace injured Rob Dias.  With three strikes on him, he mauled a shot into deep left that may have come inches to the 170 foot line.  Welcome to the World Series, Mr. Thaxton!  From there he caught fire and for just the 6th time in team history he scored 5 runs in a game (against the Indy Thunder).

Without out truly knowing all of the players we list above and their beep baseball experience prior to this event..we know for sure that Christuian Thaxton was the true rookie of the year in the NBBA.  Though the Renegades did not teach him that sweet swing, we did teach him a lot about the game and we got him ready to play in a half of a season despite an injury that had him playing hurt the whole week.

Introducing rookies to the game is one of the most exciting parts of being a coach.  Each year some of the most memorable moments for the Renegade coaching staff involves watching a new player succeed at the game.  We celebrate their first runs and first defensive outs.  Developing new talent is hard.  Its not only hard to teach them, its even harder to recruit players because the blind community is a small population.

Rookies are imperative to the long term success of the team.  As we write this in early 2016, the Renegade roster is starting to take shape.  At this post we have 18 players on our roster.  What is critical to understand is that eight (or 44%) of that figure are players we have brought on to our team in the past three seasons.  Three of those players played a ton of innings for us last season (Christian Thaxton, Rob Dias an Joe Yee).  Who will be the impact rookies in the league in 2016?  We will find out soon…and there is a chance some new names from the Renegades will pop up as the team has three new 20 – somethings eager to get their first hit!

2015 World Series Statistical breakdown – Strength of Schedule

SABR CartoonMany baseball fans love the game for so many reasons.  Some people like the drama, some people like the strategy.  Some people like the history or the action.  Some people love it for the statistical side of the game.  For me, I grew up playing Strat-O-Matic baseball.  I used to love to make out line-ups, draft teams, play head to head against others and track my progress.  I was 13 years old and I knew how to calculate On base percentage, Slugging percentage, ERA.  I could score a game and determine how many unearned runs a pitcher gave up or figure out a quality start from how to determine a save.  No, we did not have WAR or UZR in those days.  But for me, I just love the analytical side of the game and we bring this into the way we coach and run the Renegades.  For now, Let’s have some fun looking at a stat we first introduced last year to the league….Strength of Schedule.

 

Strength of Schedule

As we did last year, we have tried to come up with a method to measure the strength of each team’s schedule.  This can be a telling story on how hard a World Series schedule each team has.  The way the league seeds teams is by looking at their finish in the prior year’s world series.  Keep in mind, this is all that is done to seed.  If a roster is completely overhauled – the team does not move up or down the rankings.  Here is where it gets ugly.  If a team did not attend the previous year’s series, they are seeded in the order that they got their registration fee into the league.  All of these teams are placed at the bottom of the brackets with no insight into who is on those teams.  This can produce a ton of problems for teams trying to play for a seed.  In 2015 there was 24 teams BUT only 16 teams returned from the 2014 World Series.  This meant we had 8 teams playing in the World Series that were not seeded.  Let’s name those teams in the order they were seeded by their registration fees

  • #17 New Jersey Titans – A team made up of players who left the NJ Lightning to start their own team
  • #18 Arizona Phenom – a team made up mostly from players who left the Southwest Slammers including players from the Stockton Stingrays
  • #19 Indy Knights – a team made up of players from the Indy Thunder, Wichita Sonics and Cleveland Scrappers
  • #20 Canada – a brand new team making their first ever World Series appearance without a single player having NBBA World Series experience on their roster.  Their only NBBA game experience came against the Seattle South Kings Sluggers (a team who had never made a World Series)
  • #21 Rochester –  A brand new team formed because Rochester was the host city.  Not one player had any NBBA experience and they had never played a game against an NBBA opponent
  • #22 Taiwan Lightning – Their first time playing in the World Series – at least one player had played with the Taiwan Home run in the 2013 World Series – Poe Huang.  They had experience playing against the Taiwan Homerun
  • #23 Taiwan Homerun – The 2013 World Series champions were unable to come in 2014 due to finances.  They also won the Series in 2012
  • #24 BCS Outlaws – Making their first ever NBBA World Series, though they had experience playing locally against other Texas teams.  Three of their players were former players of the Austin Blackhawks

With all of this movement, many of the teams that were seeded lost many of their starters.  This list is extensive and includes

  • #8 Southwest Slammers – Lost two starters in Pete Trejo  (tied for 2nd on their team in runs scored in 2014) and Chris Padilla as well as 4 of their bench players.  Keep in mind, The Slammers only had 10 people play in a game for them in the 2014 World Series- so 60% of their roster was gone..and they maintained an 8 seed
  • #9 Indy thunder – They gained 3 players from the Chicago Comets in Eric and Tyler Rodriguez as well as Corey White.  Three guys who would end up starting for them in 2015.  When you looked at their 2014 roster only 3 of their 11 players returned for the 2015 season.  They lost their two best defensive players (Dave Benney and Stanley Griffin) and top run scorer (Ed Brown)
  • #12 NJ Lightning – 7 of the 9 players on their roster left the team to start the NJ Titans (who by the way were ranked 17th).  They rebuilt their entire team with rookies surrounded by only 3 players with experience
  • #14 Lonestar – They picked up Richie Flores from Austin and Marlon Stover from NC – and both of these guys started for them

As you can clearly see the way the teams are seeded really makes no sense and because of this…Teams have a hard time playing to improve their seed.  For example a Team trying to play for a seed can run into issues.  An easy example is the Indy Thunder.  Who was their first opponent on day one of the brackets – The Taiwan Homerun.  What did this do to the Thunder – it forced them to play Long Island in their second game…And most importantly it put them on a track to have to play 3 games a day every day of the World Series.  These things are not right and ruin the spirit of the World Series.  Let’s face it…going into the World Series there were really on three teams who had a true legitimate chance to win,  Austin, Taiwan and RHI.  The Bayou City Heat were a long shot….and everyone else had almost no chance based on these rosters.  This means the other teams are pretty much just playing for a seed.  A seed they may not have any control over if their bracket has a team mis-seeded in it.

With all of this in mind, Let’s look at the Strength of Schedule of the teams that played in the 2015 World Series.  The math is simple.  What we do is look at the final ranking of each team and add those rankings up.  Then we divide that sum by the total amount of games played.  This comes up with a figure that represents the average seed of the team they faced.  So for example, The Boston Renegades played 9 games against the following teams Indy Knights (12) + Arizona Phenom (20) + NJ Lightning (17) + Tyler (15) + Colorado (6) + Indy Knights (12) + Indy Thunder (8) + Bayou City Heat (4) + Colorado (6).  This equates to a score of 100 and we divide that by 9 games to get 11.11.  This means the average seed of a Renegade Opponent would be ranked 11th in the league

Please note this Strength of schedule score does not take into account the amount of games played.  A team playing 9-10 games is forced to play 3 games on multiple days of the World Series- and this can take a huge toll on a team.  This year, the Taiwan Home Run were forced to play 12 games…which is likely an NBBA record (though that is unofficial).  Only one team played 12 games while four teams played 10 games, six teams played 9 games and 13 teams played 8 games.  This is a wide variance of games played.  With teams all carrying different size rosters, that can have an impact on teams staying healthy through the week

SOS Rank WS finish Team Games Record SOS
1 2 Taiwan HR 12 9-3 5.58
2 3 RHI 8 6-2 6.75
3 1 Austin 9 8-1 8.00
4 6 Colorado 8 5-3 8.25
5 10 Minnesota 8 4-4 9.88
6 9 Southwest 10 6-4 10.20
7 7 Chicago 8 6-2 10.50
8 5 Boston 9 7-2 11.11
9 13 Lonestar 9 4-5 11.56
10 11 Taiwan Light 10 5-5 11.80
11 8 Indy Thunder 10 6-4 12.00
12 4 Bayou City 8 6-2 12.00
13 14 Atlanta 9 4-5 12.22
14 16 NJ Titans 9 3-6 13.11
15 19 BCS 8 2-6 13.25
16 12 Indy Knights 10 5-5 13.60
17 23 Columbus 8 1-7 14.25
18 15 Tyler 9 5-4 14.56
19 20 Arizona 8 2-6 14.75
T-20 18 Canada 8 2-6 15.13
T-20 17 NJ Lightning 8 3-5 15.13
22 21 Long Island 8 4-4 17.00
23 24 Rochester 8 0-8 17.13
24 22 Athens 8 2-6 17.50

In 2014 using this algorithm, the Renegades played the toughest schedule…This year we played just the 8th toughest schedule…as we did not play a top team till the 3rd day of the World Series,  The seven wins the Renegades had in a World Series were the best in team history and the 3rd highest total of all team at the series.  The Renegades did not play any of the top 3 teams in 2015.

One important thing to keep in mind is the discrepancy in the amount of games played.  The Taiwan Home Run played 12 games in 5 days and had the toughest average opponent with a 5.58.  This means their average opponent was ranked between 5th and 6th in the league.  They played the #1 Austin Blackhawks three times and also played the #3 RHI Extreme twice and #4 Bayou City Heat.  They were also forced to play 3 games on the day of the Championship game because they had to play RHI on Saturday morning for the right to be in the championship game. (that game was schedule to be played on Friday – but due to the length of the game vs Bayou City was moved to Saturday morning.)  Some key findings from looking at SOS (Strength of Schedule) include

  • The Taiwan Home run were the only team to play 12 games and they almost won the title
  • Austin went 8-1 and had a very tough schedule as they played the 3rd toughest schedule at the Series – Earning this title
  • This year the surprise team was the Minnesota Millers.  The Millers placed 10th but had the 5th hardest schedule as they had to face both Austin and RHI.  SOS may be misleading a little here as they only played 8 games and just two of them were against top 6 teams.  The key was they played a lot of middle seeded teams to keep the average low such as Atlanta (14), Lonestar (13) Indy Knights (12) and two upper level squads in the Indy Thunder (8) and the Southwest Slammers (9)
  • The Bayou City Heat who finished 4th had a somewhat cupcake schedule – the 12th hardest in the league.  Their first three games were against three teams that finished at the very bottom of the league, 24 (Rochester), 22 (Athens) and 21 (Long Island).  These games provided no competition for them and made up 38% of their schedule
  • The Columbus Midnight Stars won just one game and finished 23rd but their strength of schedule was 17th in the league.  They were forced to play the #8 (Indy Thunder) and the #6 (Colorado Storm) teams on the first day of the World Series
  • The Long Island Bombers imploded.  They are a veteran team who plays many games within the East Coast.  They entered the tournament as the 10 seed and finished as the 21 seed.  What is more surprising is they had one of the easiest schedules and still finished 21st.  They started off by beating the 22 and 24 seeds (Athens and Rochester ) then had to play the #4 Bayou City Heat..the toughest opponent they would face all week.  Things got worse for them as they lost on day 1 of double elimination in their first game to the 13 seed Lone Star Roadrunners – and then because of all of the mis -seeding, they were forced to play the Indy Thunder (#8) and lost to them to be eliminated on day 1 of the World Series.  This forced them to play for the 21st place.  Let’s be clear, Long Island IS NOT the 3rd worst team in the league.  They got hosed by the lack of proper seeding for the brackets.  Even though they never played Taiwan, they were impacted by that mis-seed more than any other team in the league.
  • The Colorado Storm had a tough schedule – as they were forced to play only one team ranked higher than 11th and played 50% of their games against top 5 teams
  • The Southwest Slammers  finished 9th but had the 6th hardest schedule…Possibly the 2nd hardest schedule if you account for the fact they were one of 5 teams to play more than 9 games.  The Slammers had to play the #2 Taiwan Home Run and #3 RHI Extreme on day 1 of the Series and later got to play the #6 Colorado Storm and #7 Chicago Comets in double elimination

What makes the NBBA unique is that many games are played throughout the year.  Sadly, there is not an easy way (and cost effective way) for the league to track the progress of the teams.  Maybe with experience and finances this could change in the future.  For now, we have to play with the World Series stats.  Its the only thing we have for the Beep baseball Seam heads who like stats.  We come together for one glorious week to play ball.  From this week, we get some data to play with.  In 2015, we walked away with Austin winning the title.  We saw amazing guts and strength from a Taiwan Home Run team that was forced to play 12 games in 5 days.  We saw a few teams have their hopes dashed by the way the dance was seeded (Indy Thunder and Long Island).  We saw the largest NBBA World Series in league history.  And we witnessed a banner year from the Boston Renegades!

2015 World Series Statistical breakdown – Batting Average

SABR CartoonYes, its been a long time since the World Series ended…but don’t we need a league hot stove?  Besides, it takes a while to look at the stats for 24 teams and compile them, since they are not in the easiest format to consume.  There are a few key things we all know by now.  Austin won…again.  Rochester joined the league for the first time and did not win a game.   Batting Averages were insanely high this year.  Games were taking a very long time because the offense was up across the board.  Sometimes scores felt more like an NFL game than an NBBA game.  Let’s dive into the sexy part of the game….offense!

Batting Average

This year, the league batting average was .373.  For comparison, this was almost 100 points higher than the 2014 World Series when the league hit .276.  Did the offense suddenly improve?  Likely not, it was due to the fields we played on.  Some of the fields in New York played hard and the grass was not thick enough to slow the balls down.  A weak hit could roll long distances on some fields.  The fields were the reason for some of the high scores.  Good fields with thick grass not only feature the defense more but they are actually safer for our athletes.  Hard fields can result in four hour games in 90 degree heat which can take its toll.  Especially playing 3 games per day.  The most extreme of games was played this season between the Taiwan Home Run and the Bayou City Heat with Taiwan winning 43-37.  These two teams average…AVERAGED more than 20 runs a game on offense for the week.  In the 2015 World Series, only 9 of the 24 teams hit over the league average of .373 (defined as a weighted average by adding all of the at bats and all of the hits together and doing the proper math.  The simple average of averaging that team batting averages and dividing by the 24 teams was a less impressive .347). In fact, 10 teams hit under .300 for the week.  It is not an offensive league right now, but the higher seeded teams scored many more runs and therefor had many more at bats. For example, The Taiwan Home Run had 416 at bats in the 12 games they played while the Rochester Red Wings (in their first year) played 8 games and only had 150 at bats.  In fact, the Home Run scored more runs than 13 teams had at-bats, think about that for a moment.  This is a tribute to how good the Home Run really are.  Playing that many games may be a league record in a week.  There is no way they deserved to play that schedule.  This is a problem with the way the league seeds the tournament that needs to be addressed (more to come on this is in a future post).  The league batting average is being skewed toward the upper teams as the top 8 teams accounted for 40% of the at-bats in the World Series.  What does this mean?  It means the top 8 teams (which also had the top 8 batting averages) separated themselves from the rest of the league.  The Boston Renegades were among these teams.  The following chart ranks the teams by batting average (and shows where they finished in the World Series.

WS Finish Team AB Runs Runs per game Avg
4 Bayou City 279 177 22.1 .634
2 Taiwan HR 416 241 20.1 .579
1 Austin 275 149 16.6 .542
5 BOSTON 271 145 16.1 .535
3 RHI 221 118 14.8 .534
7 Chicago 236 110 13.8 .466
6 Colorado 211 91 11.4 .431
8 Indy thunder 286 118 11.8 .413
12 Indy Knights 264 99 9.9 .375
9 Southwest 247 86 8.6 .348
10 Minnesota 193 67 8.4 .347
21 Long Island 200 68 8.5 .340
11 Taiwan Light 253 81 8.1 .320
15 Tyler 223 67 7.4 .300
20 Arizona 202 60 7.5 .297
13 Lonestar 222 63 7.0 .284
14 Atlanta 210 54 6.0 .257
17 NJ Lightning 197 50 6.3 .254
16 NJ Titans 212 53 5.9 .250
22 Athens 175 37 4.6 .211
23 Columbus 180 36 4.5 .200
18 Canada 170 32 4.0 .188
19 BCS 170 31 3.9 .182
24 Rochester 150 6 0.8 .040

The hard work that Boston has put in made a huge difference to it’s stats.  The inflated batting average was not just due to the fields we played on, it was due to the hard work.  We tried some new coaching techniques.  Our players worked to make changes and looked to improve their skills and knowledge of their swing.  We added a third pitcher to the team in Jamie Dickerson.  Ron Cochran worked on things to make him a better pitcher in the league.   All of these things paid off.

While many rosters changed in the league from one year to the next, the Renegades did not witness much turnover.  Each and every Renegade player saw major increases in their numbers.  In fact, the renegades had the largest increase in batting average in the league from 2014 to 2015.  Yes, adding Christian Thaxton and his .719 average helped…But seeing major increases from most everyone also played a role.  Rob Dias entered his second season and his average rose .157 points.  Larry Haile saw an increase of .189 points.  Joe Quintanilla saw a .500 point swing in his stats as he hit .500 following a .000 performance in 2014.  The real surprise for the Renegades was Guy Zuccarello.  Guy increased his average by .400 points from .143 to .543.  So, yes, Thaxton’s .719 average helped but there were so many others on this team who had major improvements in their average from year to year.  Let’s take a look at the 16 teams who played in the past two World Series.  The following chart shows their averages for each season.  It also shows the change in batting average between the two seasons and ranks the teams in descending order of this delta.

Rank Team 2014 2015 Delta
1 Boston .306 .535 .229
2 Bayou City .408 .634 .226
3 Athens .021 .211 .190
4 Indy Thunder .253 .413 .160
5 Lonestar .143 .284 .141
6 Atlanta .124 .257 .133
7 Minnesota .232 .347 .115
8 Long Island .233 .340 .107
9 Chicago .366 .466 .100
10 Southwest .258 .348 .090
11 Tyler .217 .300 .083
12 RHI .459 .534 .075
13 Columbus .127 .200 .073
14 NJ Lightning .200 .254 .054
15 Colorado .391 .431 .040
16 Austin .582 .542 -.040
16 team avg .284 .373 .089

Look who is at the top….the Boston Renegades!  Let’s hear it for the coaches!  Let’s hear it for the hard work the players put in!  We had a great year and we did it our way.  We did it in a somewhat unique way for this league.  The Boston way is growing it’s own talent and working on continuous improvement with the players and coaches.  This chart shows some amazing things for the Boston Renegades.  Boston was one of two teams that witnessed a .200 point increase in the team average.  The other team was the Bayou City Heat , owners of the highest 2015 World Series average at .634 (the only team to hit greater than .600).

Both the Bayou City Heat and Boston Renegades got contributions from players who came back to the team who had not played in 2014.  Boston returned Shayne Cantan (who hit .375) and Bayou City returned John Kibodeaux (who hit .500).  Boston also recruited a new rookie that made the all-star team in Christian Thaxton (.719).   Newer players like Rob Dias for Boston and Joseph Fleeks for Bayou City saw big jumps in their average (Fleeks went from .091 to .690). Both these teams topped the league in improvements.  Both these teams did it without adding offensive players from other rosters in this time period (Bayou City did recruit Greg Gontaryk to play defense for them)

Let’s look at all the other teams who played in both the 2014 and 2015 World Series.  The rank next to the team name below relates to the rank in the delta of their batting average year over year where 16 had the least improvement (Boston was tops and Bayou was 2nd).

In a way to have some fun, Let’s bucket all of the other teams into categories.  This is in no way meant to be disrespectful.  Its just me having some fun.  Running a team in this league is hard work.  It’s so hard to coach, fundraise, recruit and make everyone happy.  Keep this in mind, the visual impaired community is small enough that its hard to field a roster at times…especially a home grown roster.  That said, it’s more impressive that some teams have had some success doing this.

Building a program from within – These guys join Boston as Home grown teams whom are improving

  • #6 Atlanta who witnessed a .124 point increase.  – Greg Hoggle, their pitcher decreased his K rate from 57% to 49% which always helps the average.  They saw some steady improvement from most players but got a big lift from the emergence of their rookie, Dontrey Hunt who hit .393
  • #7 Minnesota whom witnessed a .115 point increase – Their improvement in batting average can be tied to the improvement of Evan Van Duyne whose average jumped from .276 to .645 and Josh Xiong who moved from .259 to .406.  Both these guys are home grown and the Millers have a 100% home grown roster.

Going further into the league, things are not as impressive.  In fact, teams are not at the same level as Bayou City and Boston at improving.  We are grouping these teams into a few buckets.  These labels are just to have some fun…They are in no way meant to be disrespectful

One Direction – Not talking about the boy band…but the direction you can go when you struggle in a season….The only way you can go is up

  • #3 Athens ranked third in improvement by raising their Average .190 points…but they only had one way to go – up.  They scored just 3 runs in the 2014 World Series.

Free Agent impact – Team’s improvement is related to the impact of signing players from other teams

  • #4 The Indy Thunder were impressive in their own part, ranking 4th in improvement….but they did things different than Boston and Bayou City.  They improved as a team..but 5 of their 6 starters changed from 2014 to 2105..as three of those players moved to the Thunder from the Chicago Comets, where they learned to play ball – (the Rodriguez brothers and Corey White).  Even though the Thunder improved, they did so by picking up players from another team’s system.  In sum, their line up was not home grown and their improvement was the result of recruiting players from another team…as many of the Indy Thunder starters left to start the Indy Knights
  • #5 Lonestar ranked 5th in improvement – They saw some of their home grown players improve dramatically such as PJ Navarro (.378), Pedro Garcia (.324), Drew Bennet (.286) – But they also picked up two players from other teams.  Joining them were Richie Flores (from Austin who hit .333) and Marlon stover from NC (who hit .500).  Their rise in batting average was weighted toward the addition of Flores and Stover.

Roster trouble – It’s not easy to keep a team together.  Some teams get old and struggle to recruit new talent.  Other teams just struggle to get along and find a common goal.  These teams had too much turnover forcing their teams to rebuild in any way they could

  • #9 Chicago had a major roster overhaul as they lost three players to the Indy Thunder and they struggled a bit to field a roster of their own and had to pull in Jeff Dell from Cleveland.  Their increase was barely over the average increase of the league (.100 point increase for Chicago..and a .089 increase for the league)
  • #10 Southwest witnessed an increase of .090 points (just over the league average) but some of their players left to start the Arizona Phenom in 2015.  Their increase was attributed to bringing in players such as Scott Hogwood who led their team in hitting at .581
  • #14 NJ Lightning – Their improvement was 100% attributed to bringing in Kevin Barrett who pitches for Cleveland.  Regardless, they also did this with 4 of the 6 starters gone to the NJ Titans.  To even field a team after the rift that fractioned off another team considers a lot of praise

Don’t let the stats fool you – These teams saw increases, but it was likely due to the fast fields

  • #8 Long Island – Yes they saw a great improvement in their team average by .107 points but they played a weak schedule.  They played poorly and were impacted by the mis-seeding of the Taiwan Home Run and finished 21st in the league.  This weak schedule (which will be discussed in a different post had them face weaker defensive teams)  Also stars like Joe Dejesus saw his average drop from .355 in 2014 to .280 in 2015
  • #11 Tyler – though they saw an increase in their average and brought on rookie sensation, Derrick Floyd, their batting average increased slightly less than the league average – so their stats could be more of a result of the fast fields…though its important to note Ron Jordan moved from .345 to .649 for the Tigers
  • #13 Columbus – Like Athens, not much direction to go but up when the team hit .127 in 2014.  Its important to note their average increase was below the 16 team average

Studs – but not improving – Year over year the change they had was not there.  Maybe when your great, its hard to get better?

  • #12 RHI – A top team in both seasons, they picked up Dave Benney from the Indy Thunder (who hit .520).  Nick Silver saw his average jump .200 points to .686 as did Demile Wright (who hit .708).  Their stats may not look like they improved much but they had one of the toughest defensive schedules in the league
  • #15 Colorado – Colorado is doing some good stuff as they are working in a new pitcher and have two new rookies that are exciting in Mike Jackson (.300) and Mike Malloy (.286).  Their youth movement extends beyond their players as they are trying to bring a long a new pitcher (Cory Buckingham) who threw a bunch of innings  and is learning on the job.  They did not see the increase they would have if they let Johnny Walker pitch every game. Overall, their team is still too heavy on out of towners as roughly half of their starting line up resides outside of Colorado.
  • #16 Austin – The only team which saw a decline in their batting average from 2014.  How could that be?  They played a tougher schedule in 2015…having to play Taiwan twice.  Also some of their starters saw a decline in their godly stats – Lupe Perez battled injuries and saw his average drop from .778 to .588, Axel Cox dropped from .519 to .487.

So there you have it.  A look at Batting averages across the league.  Come on back to our web site to check on future articles about the Strength of schedule each team had as well as a look at who the NBBA Rookie All-stars were in 2015!

2014 World Series Breakdown

The Boston Renegades recently spoke in front of an organization called SABR (Society for American Baseball Research).  Many readers may know them from SABR Metrics.  Die hard baseball fans will know Bill James and his influence on the game.  We listened to them talk about wins above average amongst other topics and this got us to thinking about some analysis on the 2014 World Series.

Statistics do not tell the whole story of the tournament because not everyone plays an equal schedule and not everyone played the same amount of games.   There are plenty of blow out games played during the week (and some of these game do not even play the a full six innings as a team can mercy rule a team and only hit for one inning of a game).  Some teams play very weak schedules while other teams have a tougher ride.  The strength of schedule will have an impact on the overall stats and the seeding at the end of the week.  Boston had its best World Series ever but there are some interesting things to be seen when we dig into the stats

Batting Average

The League average was .276 BUT only 7 of the 19 teams hit above the average.  The teams closest to the league average were the Southwest Slammers (.258), Indianapolis thunder (.253) and Renegades (.306).  Austin was .306  points above the average mark and Athens was .306 below the average mark.  These teams finished 1st and last respectively.  In 2015, the ranking of batting average was strongly correlated to the actual finish in the World Series.  The team that bucked that trend the most was the Minnesota Millers who had the 12th best Batting average at .232 but finished 7th in the final seeding.

Batting Avg rank Final WS finish Team At bats Runs Avg
1 1 Austin 165 96 .582
2 2 RHI 233 107 .459
3 4 Bayou City 213 87 .408
4 3 Colorado 281 110 .391
5 5 Chicago 213 78 .366
6 8 Carolina 201 65 .323
7 6 Boston 216 66 .306
8 9 Southwest 190 49 .258
9 10 Indianapolis 166 42 .253
10 13 Wichita 198 47 .237
11 11 Long Island 180 42 .233
12 7 Minnesota 203 47 .232
13 12 Tyler 157 34 .217
14 14 New Jersey 175 35 .200
15 16 Lonestar 182 26 .143
16 17 Columbus 165 21 .127
17 15 Atlanta 153 19 .124
18 18 Iowa 155 15 .097
19 19 Athens 143 3 .021
League Avg .276

Strike outs

Putting the ball into play is important.  There is no such thing as a routine ground ball to short stop in the game of beep baseball.  The teams with the higher averages do strike out less.  Some interesting things here include

  • Austin scored on 63% of the balls they put into play
  • RHI and Bayou City are the only other teams to score on more than 50% of the balls they put into play
  • Carolina finished 8th in the series but had the third lowest strike out ratio in the league at just 13.4%
  • Indianapolis was 4th in strike out ratio at just 14.5% but only hit .296 on balls hit into play
  • 4 teams struck out more than 50% of the time (3 of them from Georgia)
  • Boston hit just .386 on balls hit into play, which was below the league average
Strike out rank Final WS finish Team At bats K’s K Rate Batting avg Balls in play
1 1 Austin 165 13 7.9% .632
2 2 RHI 233 27 11.6% .519
3 8 Carolina 201 27 13.4% .374
4 10 Indianapolis 166 24 14.5% .296
5 3 Colorado 281 45 16.0% .466
6 5 Chicago 213 39 18.3% .448
7 4 Bayou City 213 40 18.8% .503
8 6 Boston 216 45 20.8% .386
9 13 Wichita 198 55 27.8%. .329
10 11 Long Island 180 62 34.4% .356
11 14 New Jersey 175 61 34.9% .307
12 7 Minnesota 203 74 36.5% .364
13 9 Southwest 190 71 37.4% .412
14 12 Tyler 157 60 38.2% .351
15 16 Lonestar 182 85 46.7% .268
16 19 Iowa 155 80 51.6% .200
17 15 Atlanta 153 88 57.5% .292
18 17 Columbus 165 104 63.0% .344
19 19 Athens 143 102 71.3% .073
League Avg 30.7% .398

Fielding Percentage

They say defense wins championships.  That is true, but the defensive stats do not hold up well to that theory and maybe its time for the league to devise a new way to categorize defense.  Though the games were played on slow grass for most of the week the scores were lower.  Also with the invention of the 12 run mercy rule strong offensive teams can’t score loads of runs on weak defenses because they are limited in the amount of plate appearances they have.   That said the defensive rankings do not strongly correlate to the final finish of the team.

The 2nd ranked defense this year was Iowa as they stopped 67.4% of the balls hit into play.  The key thing to note is that Iowa played the 2nd easiest schedule and did not have to face many power house offenses.  This greatly skews the defensive rankings.   Columbus ranked 5th in defense and finished 17th overall as well.  It should be noted that only one team was more than 9% away from the league average, the Tyler Tigers.   Tyler had one of the toughest schedules in the league and this ranking reflects the teams they had to play.  This is also why the defensive rankings are not as telling.  The RHI Extreme ranked 12th in fielding but finished 2nd overall.  Their road to the championship game forced them to face the best offense in the league, twice in Austin.

Boston ranked second in the league in defensive stops allowed.  Both Boston and Colorado were the only teams to make over 100 stops during the week.  Of course part of that is that Boston played 9 games while Colorado played 10 games over the time period.  A combination of games played and who the opponent is will make a difference to these stats.  It would be interesting to determine a new way to measure defense that can take the opponent into account or that looks at how effective the different layers of defense are.  What is meant by this layering idea is that many teams struggle to make plays in the deeper layers of the defense.  For Example, Atlanta’s Isaiah Wilcox made 44 of his teams 71 stops.  How many balls made it by Isaiah and how well did the other layers perform?

 

Fielding Rank Final WS Finish Team Chances Stops Fielding %
1 1 Austin 122 85 69.7%
2 18 Iowa 86 58 67.4%
3 3 Colorado 174 114 65.5%
4 8 Carolina 132 86 65.2%
5 17 Columbus 103 67 65.0%
6 5 Chicago 119 77 64.7%
7 11 Long Island 133 86 64.7%
8 13 Wichita 139 89 64.0%
9 16 Lonestar 136 84 61.8%
10 10 Indianapolis 115 71 61.7%
11 7 Minnesota 150 90 60.0%
12 2 RHI 161 96 59.6%
13 6 Boston 172 101 58.7%
14 19 Athens 94 53 56.4%
15 15 Atlanta 127 71 55.9%
16 14 New Jersey 117 65 55.6%
17 4 Bayou City 149 80 53.7%
18 9 Southwest 136 73 53.7%
19 12 Tyler 122 52 42.6%
League Average 60.2%

 

Strength of Schedule

Here is an unofficial stat that we made up.  What it attempts to do is look at the final ranking of the teams each team played.  Remember in the world Series each team played 2-3 games on the first day in a round robin.  The round robin bracket this year had (as it always does) improper seedings based on previous year results.   Carolina would earn the 5 seed and on the round robin day of the tournament would play nobody lower than a 10 seed.  However the Bayou City heat would be seeded 2nd but would have to face a beefed up Colorado Storm team ranked 7th and whose roster would surely get them into a top 5 finish.

The first day of the double elimination brackets would pit many blow out games as top teams would play bottom teams in blow out or meaningless contests such as Austin beating Columbus 14-2 and Chicago beating Minnesota 11-1.  Once the double elimination ends many of the teams end up playing teams of their caliber in placement games.  For example four teams would make a 13-16 placement bracket and this  allows teams to play teams of similar records.

All of this leads to an imbalance in the stats because a team like Iowa which ranked 2nd defensively would have Chicago as their toughest opponent (they ranked 4th coming into the dance and finished 5th) while a team like Boston ended up playing the teams that would finish 1st, 2nd,3rd,5th,7th, 8th and 9th.  The worst seed Boston would face would finish 13th.

Strength of Schedule or SOS is calculated by adding up the final ranking of all the teams played and dividing that figure by the number of games played.  For an example Athens played Chicago (5th), Southwest (9th), Iowa twice (18th), Columbus twice (17th) and Wichita (13th) giving them a score of 97.  97 divided by 7 games gives them an average SOS of 13.86.  Or in easier terms, the average team Athens played finished with a seed of 13.86 in the World Series.  One thing SOS does not take into consideration is the quantity of games played.  Its much harder to play 9-10 games in a 4 day period than it is to play 7.  Playing 7 often means a team never had to play three games in a day while a team playing 9-10 games has to play three games twice in a week.

Being the head coach of the Renegades and scouting so many opponents throughout the week, we knew we had one of the toughest schedule when we faced a very tough Wichita team and they were supposed to be the weakest team in our bracket as an 18 seed.  Wichita would go on to have one of their best World Series and it was no surprise to us.  But many would be shocked to see the Renegades ending up with the toughest schedule and such a high finish in the Series (best ever).  This likely effected many of the Defensive stats for Boston as they played some of the best offenses in the league in Austin, RHI, Bayou City, Chicago and Carolina.

Another shock is the Tyler Tigers.  Tyler won just one game all week but faced some tough competition as they were forced to play Austin (1st) and Indianapolis (10th) on day one (they had a bye and did not have to play a 3rd game).  In a quirk of the schedule they would have to play Indianapolis again on the 1st day of double elimination and would beat them getting to play the 2 ranked RHI Extreme.  They would then have to face a tough Minnesota team (7th) in the losers bracket.  In the placement brackets they would play a tough Southwest Slammer team (9th) and the Long Island Bombers (11th).  A team that would finish 12th had to play both Austin and RHI.  Only two teams in the league would have to play the two teams that played in the championship game.  The Boston Renegades and the Tyler Tigers.

The Renegades can be very very proud of the season they had.  They faced so many obstacles from their head coach being hospitalized for three weeks and being unable to do his normal duties, to having a shortage of coaches through much of the season, to having 4 rookies play such an important part of their season and being forced to play the toughest schedule at the World Series.

SOS Rank Final WS Finish Team Record SOS Off Rank Def rank avg Field %
1 6 Boston 5-4 6.67 7 13 .306 58.7%
2 2 RHI 7-2 7.00 2 12 .459 59.6%
3 12 Tyler 1-6 7.14 13 19 .217 38.2%
4 4 Bayou City 5-3 7.38 3 17 .408 53.7%
5 1 Austin 7-0 7.71 1 1 .582 69.7%
6 3 Colorado 8-2 7.90 4 3 .391 65.5%
7 5 Chicago 6-2 8.88 5 6 .366 64.7%
8 7 Minnesota 5-4 9.11 12 11 .232 60.0%
9 15 Atlanta 2-5 9.71 17 15 .124 55.9%
10 10 Indianapolis 3-4 9.86 9 10 .253 61.7%
11 16 Lonestar 1-7 10.00 15 9 .143 61.8%
12 13 Wichita 4-5 10.22 10 8 .237 64.0%
13 11 Long Island 4-4 10.50 11 7 .233 64.7%
14 8 Carolina 5-3 10.63 6 4 .323 65.2%
15 9 Southwest 5-3 10.88 8 18 .258 53.7%
16 14 New Jersey 3-5 12.88 14 16 .200 55.6%
17 17 Columbus 3-5 13.00 16 5 .127 65.0%
18 18 Iowa 2-5 13.14 18 2 .097 67.4%
19 19 Athens 0-7 13.86 19 14 .021 56.4%