It was also the year that the Cubs hit rock bottom (another reason why the year was just so hard...) Just three years ago, they were five outs away from a World Series trip, and in 2006 they were in last place. Sweeping changes were made and the Cubs have not had a losing season since (they haven't made it very far in the playoff wins, but two NL Central crowns have been nice). The Tigers finally broke out of their long suffering streak of losing seasons (many years with 100 losses or so), and shocked the world by winning the AL pennant. Unfortunately, they had to face, the juggernaut St. Louis Cardinals. That's another story though...
This is season 20 for my annual tradition of naming All-Star teams at the end of the year. And with it comes another change in roster space. As you may have realized, I have been using the following year's Topps cards when introducing the starting lineups for that year's teams. This is not an accident. Back in 1989, the cards I used may have had the 1988 statistics, but I named them my 1989 All-Star team. And as the years went forward, because MLB had been alternating All-Star Game locations between the NL and AL, I had no problems adding and then removing the designated hitter position. In fact, going into the 2006 All-Star Game in Pittsburgh (an NL city), with the addition of a middle relief pitcher, switching between an extra pitcher and an extra hitter was no big deal. Then I found out that the All-Star Game was awarded to San Francisco (another NL city) for 2007. That meant that the NL got to host the games for two years consecutively. That would throw off the alternating DH/RP spot on the teams. Which wouldn't have been a problem.
Except David Ortiz of the Red Sox had this incredible year in 2006, and his place on the AL Team could not be denied. But I couldn't fit him anywhere. It was hard enough not to add him to the 2005 AL All-Star team the year before. Why? Because the 2005 teams that I announced here were really MY 2006 teams. And with the game in Pittsburgh, I couldn't put in a DH (if I lost you somehow, don't worry, I lost myself trying to explain it). A decision had to be made.
Known as the "Big Papi Rule," going forward there would now be 36 players per All-Star Team. Instead of alternating a DH and a middle relief pitcher to the teams, there would now be space for both positions, whether or not the ASG would be played in an NL or AL city. Besides, I've been using the DH in all the seven game simulations (depending on the city of the ASG, I'd have the DH in three or four games). So now the rosters expand, permanently to 36 players per team. And I no longer had to worry about loose pieces of paper for these teams as I was now using an Excel spreadsheet to maintain my rosters. While I've been entering the teams on the blog these past few months, I've also been adding them to the existing spreadsheet that has the rosters I created for 2007-2010 (or for the sake of the blog 2006-2009). So now ALL my teams are now in one easy-to-manage spreadsheet, with individual tabs for every year that I've drawn them up. And as long as I don't lose the file (I have a permanent record of all the players who were named to the teams).
To review, this year's teams include 11 pitchers on each team (six starters, four closers, one middle relief pitcher), and the usual 3 players per position (1b, 2b, 3b, ss, c, 9 of), as well as DH. So, with the 2007 ASG to be held in San Francisco (at AT&T Park), the rosters now stood at 36 players per team.
Without further ado, for the first time online, I am proud to introduce my 2006 End of Year MLB All-Star Teams (in alphabetical order by position):
(space space space space)
Twenty-five players are first-time all-stars (12 for the American League, 13 for the Nationals). Ivan Rodriguez has now broken the record for most All-Star appearances with 14 (Barry Larkin, Cal Ripken, and Tony Gwynn each appeared on 13 teams). One-person teams on my 2006 rosters include the Athletics (Street), Devil Rays (Crawford), Orioles (Tejada), Royals (Brown), Brewers (Hall), Diamondbacks (Webb), Dodgers (Lowe), Giants (Finley), Nationals (Soriano) and Reds (Dunn). The White Sox and Mets each send five representatives to their respective rosters, leading both leagues. The Blue Jays, Tigers, Twins, Yankees, Cubs, and Phillies each send four players to the squads. Total Chicago bias here as there are 9 players on both rosters.
As always, seven regular games (10,000 simulations each, six with the same starting pitchers, one where lineups and starting pitchers change), and one All-Star Game will be simulated during the course of the week. I hope to have the results of all the games by the end of the week.
Now it's time for me to create the .DAT files before getting the games set. Game results coming next week. Here's hoping that I don't take too long with this...