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Friday, April 09, 2010

How good was the Springfield Power Plant team?

When C. Montgomery Burns sent Waylon Smithers out to scour the American League, the National League, and the Negro League, a pretty solid roster was assembled for the Springfield Power Plant. But was it really the best roster that Smithers could have assembled?

Thanks to FanGraphs and Rally’s WAR database, we can see just how good of a job Smithers did. All these numbers are from the 1992 season, as the episode aired on February 20, 1992.

... Right field: Jose Canseco

“Never fear, ma’am, I’ll save your cat!”

Splitting time between Oakland and Texas, Canseco compiled just a 2.1 WAR in 1992. The juicehead’s defense is what brought him down, as his .357 wOBA was at least respectable.

The right pick here would have been Larry Walker, who posted a 5.8 WAR in his third full season with Montreal. While Danny Tartabull’s .397 wOBA led all right fielders, Walker’s .379 wOBA and good defense put him at the top of the right field WAR charts that year.

[Wins lost: 3.7]

Posted: April 09, 2010 at 01:32 AM | 60 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fantasy baseball, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Morty Causa Posted: April 09, 2010 at 04:22 AM (#3498109)
Well, what makes the writer of that article assume that Simpsons' time is real time? I don't remember--does something in that episode indicate the year was '92? Bart is still 10, Lisa is still 8, Maggie still doesn't talk, Homer and Marge--well, you get the idea? Everything's frozen. If their is no actual indication, why not assume it's 1987, when the Simpsons first showed up, or 1989, when they got their show, since they obviously haven't aged. Fooling around with cartoon time is a mug's game.
   2. Dan Szymborski Posted: April 09, 2010 at 04:34 AM (#3498113)
Well, it had to be at least 1989 - as good as Griffey was, I don't think Smithers would risk signing a minor leaguer for the team.
   3. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: April 09, 2010 at 04:36 AM (#3498117)
At the end, there was a picture of everyone with a "1992 League Champs" banner.

I've watched that episode an unhealthy amount of times, and named numerous fantasy teams after throwaway gags in it. My favorite was "Enchanted Jockstraps".

But the writers were laboring under a couple of conditions - they had to write the thing in 1991, and in more than one occasion, they were not able to get the guest voice they wanted. Steve Sax? Nope.

Also, they were going for "famous" names, familiar to non-baseball fans who watch cartoons. I think that WAR be damned, Canseco was probably the right choice.
   4. JMPH Posted: April 09, 2010 at 04:47 AM (#3498121)
But the writers were laboring under a couple of conditions - they had to write the thing in 1991, and in more than one occasion, they were not able to get the guest voice they wanted. Steve Sax? Nope.

IMDB says Steve Sax did his own voice. Or did you mean they wanted someone else but had to settle for Sax?
   5. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: April 09, 2010 at 04:49 AM (#3498123)
Yes. They all did their own voices, but not all were the first choice of the writers/producers.
   6. JMPH Posted: April 09, 2010 at 04:50 AM (#3498124)
Do you know who they wanted instead of Sax? That'd be interesting to see their first choices.
   7. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 04:55 AM (#3498127)
I can't imagine that they will ever, ever say.
   8. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:00 AM (#3498128)
I've never heard an authoritative account of who they wanted, just that they didn't bat 1.000 in their initial selections.
   9. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:01 AM (#3498129)
That said, I loved when the cop called him "Saxy boy".
   10. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:04 AM (#3498131)
What was Burns' first lineup? The one that had a guy who'd been dead for 90 years?
   11. JMPH Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:06 AM (#3498132)
This page has Burns' lineup.

"I'm afraid all of those players have retired and, uh... passed on. In fact, your right-fielder has been dead for a hundred and thirty years."
   12. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:07 AM (#3498133)
Anyway, it might be fun to do this now. Unlike the article, I don't think you necessarily go for absolutely the best player at every position. The guys you want have to have a few qualities:

1) They must speak English passably.
2) At least a few of them must be recognizeable personalities, and none can be total obscurities.
3) It'd be nice if you got guys with good personality. No grumps, no known wife-beaters, no Elijah Dukeses, and no snooze-a-thons.
4) You want to try to represent both leagues, and most areas of the country.

Just off the top of my head, my team, combining entertainment value and quality, would be:

1B - Pujols
2B - Utley
3B - Oh, something offbeat. I know Longoria and Wright seem like obvious candidates, but . . . #### it, Longoria. I'm feeling dumb tonight.
SS - Jeter. Sigh.
LF - I'm never sure about Manny Ramirez's mastery of English. One day you read that he's shy about it, and the next you hear it's not a problem. Anyway, he's the guy, if you can keep him in line.
CF - Grrrady Sizemore & his coffee mug.
RF - Justin Upton? He seems to enjoy himself while he plays baseball.
C - Joe Mauer
P - So many great candidates. Lincecum, Greinke, Sabathia . . . I'll go with Greinke for sheer weirdness.
Manager - Ozzie Guillen is the obvious choice.
   13. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:20 AM (#3498136)
Only a few disagreements. I think Rod would be a good choice for 3B. And I don't think casual fans have any idea who Utley or Upton are.

Speaking of which, how did you get the so many MLBers whose last names start with "U" on the same team? Where's Uribe? Uggla? Urbina?
   14. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:24 AM (#3498138)
I don't think casual fans have any idea who Utley or Upton are.


Probably not Upton, but I think this oversells Utley's underratedness. Anybody who has watched the World Series in the last two years knows who he is.
   15. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:32 AM (#3498142)
I think Pujols would be great, but I'd give serious thought to Ryan Howard in that spot.
   16. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:36 AM (#3498145)
Sorry, but the right fielder has to be Ichiro. He could speak English passably if he wanted to.
   17. JMPH Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:37 AM (#3498147)
3B - Oh, something offbeat. I know Longoria and Wright seem like obvious candidates, but . . . #### it, Longoria. I'm feeling dumb tonight.

Is A-Rod being disqualified for the juice or the centaur paintings? I think his sheer star power makes him an easy choice here.
   18. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:42 AM (#3498150)
LF I could see them picking Ryan Braun (popped collar!) or Matt Holliday (lego man, yellow head!) being the guy. At SS, they could have had some fun jokes with Jose Reyes (most exciting player in springfield!). RF would have to be Ichiro...
   19. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:51 AM (#3498156)
right fielder has to be Ichiro.


I KNEW there was somebody obvious I was missing.

On the subject of A-Rod, I disqualified him because nobody seems to like him. Others may feel differently.

Of course, there are all kinds of possible candidates being left out. If one were to stay truer to the spirit of the original team -- ie, mix in some washed-up and not-quite-that-good guys with high name recognition -- you could do all kinds of things. Pedro at pitcher, for example, or David Eckstein, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Jason Varitek . . . really the only guy that I'd really want to make sure I had was Guillen.
   20. Replacement-Level Primate Posted: April 09, 2010 at 05:56 AM (#3498158)
Sorry, but the right fielder has to be Ichiro. He could speak English passably if he wanted to.


He does it all the time in batting practice.
   21. xbhaskarx Posted: April 09, 2010 at 06:11 AM (#3498160)
There has to be a better choice for LF than Manny.
And wouldn't beating up a senior citizen disqualify him based on 3)?
   22. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: April 09, 2010 at 06:28 AM (#3498161)
He does it all the time in batting practice.

Well done.
   23. Charlie O Posted: April 09, 2010 at 06:32 AM (#3498162)
Would Johnny Damon be good enough for leftfield if he went back to his GEICO commercial grooming?
   24. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 06:45 AM (#3498163)
There cannot be a better choice for LF than Manny. He has the perfect combination of star power and weirdness.

Voxter's team is a good start, but I too would want The Rod in at third base. So what that he's not universally beloved - the original team had Canseco, Boggs and Strawberry. He's so super-famous that you have to put him in the team, and you could have great fun with it too. I'd incline to Lincecum over Greinke. And, as already said, Ichiro must play right field.

I think Sizemore is a decent choice for CF, but I'd rather have Ken Griffey Jr - he's the only member of the original roster still active.
   25. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: April 09, 2010 at 06:59 AM (#3498164)
Jeff Francouer is the more obvious choice in right. He's the most talked about player in the game.

Papelbon might be an amusing choice as the closer. I think there's a potentially great chief wiggum-papelbon interaction there.
   26. zachtoma Posted: April 09, 2010 at 07:30 AM (#3498166)
And I don't think casual fans have any idea who Utley or Upton are.


If this is true, it is very sad, because I don't think Utley is anything less than the 3rd best player in the NL. It goes Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Utley...right?
   27. Tuque Posted: April 09, 2010 at 07:43 AM (#3498167)
Mariano Rivera would be fun, precisely because he seems so calm and collected - on the Simpsons, that could be the source of some good jokes.
   28. Alan Sepinwall Posted: April 09, 2010 at 11:13 AM (#3498180)
When Canseco was briefly on the Yankees, I realized that the team had to that point featured six of the nine Springfield power plant ringers at one time or another, leaving only Ozzie, Griffey and Scioscia. Too late for the Wizard of Oz, but a part of me kind of wishes Griffey would put the grudge about his dad aside and briefly play for the Yanks, and that Scioscia might somehow wind up in Girardi's coaching staff. There's a certain symmetry to having as many as possible don the pinstripes.

And I still quote the "Pitt the Elder"/"Lord Pomerston" argument frequently.
   29. chris p Posted: April 09, 2010 at 11:26 AM (#3498182)
Manager - Ozzie Guillen is the obvious choice.

how about Scioscia?
   30. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 11:35 AM (#3498183)
   31. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: April 09, 2010 at 11:38 AM (#3498185)
CC Sabathia as pitcher only because he already looks like a Simpson character.
   32. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: April 09, 2010 at 11:39 AM (#3498186)
This page has Burns' lineup.

Appreciate the link, but I just have to mention that all Simpsons questions can be answered by SNPP.com.
   33. Alan Sepinwall Posted: April 09, 2010 at 11:44 AM (#3498188)
"Pomerston"?

Sadly, I'm not as up on my English prime ministers as either Wade Boggs or Barney Gumble.
   34. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: April 09, 2010 at 11:47 AM (#3498189)
There has to be a better choice for LF than Manny.

This makes me so incredibly sad for America. Nobody could possibly believe that, could they? Manny is the second-most-perfect current Major Leaguer for this team, after Ichiro. I don't know how there could be any debate over that.

He's famous, he's great at baseball, he's frequently hilarious, he looks like a cartoon, he's got a recognizable voice/accent, he's probably a Simpsons fan, he's got a history of trying to avoid games he doesn't want to play in for dubious reasons, and he has fans on both coasts.
   35. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 11:54 AM (#3498193)
This makes me so incredibly sad for America. Nobody could possibly believe that, could they?


I certainly don't.

I suppose the idea of Scioscia as manager has symmetry, I'm just attached to the idea of Ozzie Guillen being on "The Simpsons".

CC Sabathia as pitcher only because he already looks like a Simpson character.


This was sort of my thinking when I first mentioned his name.
   36. AROM Posted: April 09, 2010 at 12:18 PM (#3498200)
I wouldn't worry about Manny attacking a senior citizen. Mr. Burns is not defenseless. He can always release the hounds.
   37. Walt Davis Posted: April 09, 2010 at 12:21 PM (#3498201)
Ryne Sandberg and his 7.1 WAR would have been a far better choice for the team.

Nah. Mr. Burns slept with Cindy.

It goes Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Utley...right?

When is Ty Colvin gonna start getting his due??????

As noted, given the writers had to write it prior to the 92 season, you should use 92 projections or 91 WAR or 89-91 WAR or something. Smithers can't be expected to predict the future any better than a monkey.

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.
   38. Mattbert Posted: April 09, 2010 at 12:22 PM (#3498202)
C - Jorge Posada
1B - Prince Fielder
2B - Dustin Pedroia
3B - Chipper Jones
SS - Derek Jeter
OF - Manny Ramirez
OF - Ichiro Suzuki
OF - Adam Dunn
SP - Tim Lincecum, Zack Greinke
RP - Jonathan Papelbon
   39. Francoeur Sans Gages (AlouGoodbye) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 12:26 PM (#3498204)
This is one game of softball against a power-plant team. You do not need an entire relief staff. Has the closer mentality really infected us this far?

Next people are going to defend Burns pinch-hitting for Darryl, because he got the platoon advantage!
   40. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 12:31 PM (#3498209)
He can always release the hounds.


Or the bees.
   41. Döner Kebap Posted: April 09, 2010 at 12:40 PM (#3498215)
Ichiro has to be in the OF just so he can give his famous pre-game pep talk.
   42. Hack Wilson Posted: April 09, 2010 at 01:09 PM (#3498222)
At the time this show came out I was having trouble grasping the concept of replacement level player. The first time I saw the show I thought, "I've got it, Lenny is the replacement level player." Then I saw the show again and wondered if was Carl. I'm still confused.
   43. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: April 09, 2010 at 01:32 PM (#3498241)
Thanks to FanGraphs and Rally’s WAR database, we can see just how good of a job Smithers did. All these numbers are from the 1992 season, as the episode aired on February 20, 1992.

My nerdar just went off something fierce. Those tools didn't exist back then. You'd have to compare the picks to the 1992 Bill James Handbook.
   44. Sean Forman Posted: April 09, 2010 at 01:35 PM (#3498250)
I highly recommend the director's commentary for that episode. Lots of great tidbits about the players. "There was one player who was a complete jerk. I won't say what his name was, but it rhymes with Manseco."
   45. Dan Szymborski Posted: April 09, 2010 at 01:45 PM (#3498264)
I completely forgot about the banner at the end.

Burns actually did have a better team, if they weren't all dead. It looks like now Burns's Smithers-signed team will only have 4 Hall of Famers, 5 if Scioscia gets in as a manager.
   46. The District Attorney Posted: April 09, 2010 at 01:46 PM (#3498267)
Next people are going to defend Burns pinch-hitting for Darryl, because he got the platoon advantage!
It's called playing the percentages. It's what smart managers do to win ballgames.
   47. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 01:48 PM (#3498268)
RP - Jonathan Papelbon
There's no way you can expect him to first read his lines, then commit them to memory, then say them at the appointed time.
   48. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: April 09, 2010 at 01:52 PM (#3498272)
Only a few disagreements. I think Rod would be a good choice for 3B. And I don't think casual fans have any idea who Utley or Upton are.

Speaking of which, how did you get the so many MLBers whose last names start with "U" on the same team? Where's Uribe? Uggla? Urbina?


We are living in a golden age of "U" players. A few years ago, the career home run record by a player who's name started with U was 123 by Willie Upshaw. He's now 3rd (behind Utley and Uribe), about to be 4th (Uggla is 1 behind), and the Upton Brothers are likely to surpass 123 as well, both currently in the 40's.
   49. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: April 09, 2010 at 02:23 PM (#3498289)
When y'all sit down to write the updated episode, can I get a subplot of Apu scheming -- perhaps with Sideshow Bob -- to take out one of the pitchers on the team to open a roster spot for one of those reality show minor league pitchers from India?
   50. Swedish Chef Posted: April 09, 2010 at 02:30 PM (#3498293)
There's no way you can expect him to first read his lines, then commit them to memory, then say them at the appointed time.

That's why he doesn't get any lines except for grunts.
   51. AROM Posted: April 09, 2010 at 02:47 PM (#3498305)
Considering how bad some of these players did in 1992, I have to consider the chance that the cartoon is based on factual events, and some of that bad stuff really happened.
   52. Hack Wilson Posted: April 09, 2010 at 03:00 PM (#3498319)
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston


He wins, all star 2nd baseman for the Reds (okay Redlegs).

Although without Pitt there would be no Pittsburgh Pirates.
   53. Hurdle's Heroes (SuperBaes) Posted: April 09, 2010 at 03:59 PM (#3498391)
Although without Pitt there would be no Pittsburgh Pirates.

Which would be a bad thing?
   54. xbhaskarx Posted: April 09, 2010 at 06:05 PM (#3498548)
Wait, Alan Sepinwall posts here? I read your weekly Breaking Bad writeups. Also, you should know who Lord Palmerston is.
   55. Randy Jones Posted: April 09, 2010 at 06:18 PM (#3498563)
It's a cartoon. He can read the lines directly off the script into the microphone


You're assuming Papelbon can read?
   56. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 09, 2010 at 06:28 PM (#3498578)
It's a cartoon. He can read


Assumes facts not in evidence.
   57. karkface killah Posted: April 09, 2010 at 06:49 PM (#3498597)
Best part of the episode: Shearer's phrasing over the PA when he announces Homer batting for Strawberry. Makes me laugh every time.

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