Welcome to day two of the wonderful world of 25 Dan Vogelbachs. Yesterday, I set the stage, performing the rites to summon the worst projected team in MLB history. Today we’ll see if the Fightin’ Vogelbachs can overcome the odds and win a game, steal a base, or even rack up a quality start.
Step Two: Play Vogelball
From April 3rd to April 12th last year, the Mariners went 2-8 with a -11 run differential and two crushing walk-off losses. Casey Fein was his own brand of horror, but in this simulation the Mariners sunk to Jules Verne-esque depths.
The biggest blowout in MLB history came in 2007, in a 30-3 victory by the Texas Rangers over the Baltimore Orioles. The highest scoring performance came in the pre-modern era, in a 36-7 demolition by the Chicago Colts of the Louisville Colonels in 1897. The greatest blowout baseball game I could find on record at any high-level was an NCAA game - Georgia Tech’s 1975 obliteration of Earlham to the tune of 41-0. By Opening Day on Planet Vogelbach, those records were a thing of the past.
While this April 2nd walloping was disheartening, M’s fans could be forgiven for thinking the team was improving. After putting up just one run against Dallas Keuchel in the season opener and scuffling to just four combined runs in the next two games, Team Daniel Vogelbach erupted for 14 runs in the final game of the opening series against the Astros. Unfortunately, as would be the theme. the pitching was too much to overcome, and Seattle went on to lose by two touchdowns, 28-14. Fein’s implosion last year may have been tough to bear, but the indignity of the loss led to shock more than rage.
After being outscored 264-37 in their first 10 games, the most competitive of the Vogelbachs bristled. For the most hot-headed of the bunch, seeing a former Mariners/Rainiers teammate gleefully reaping the rewards of Seattle’s misfortune was the final straw.
The days dragged into weeks. Weeks of the worst baseball ever seen on a MLB field. The offense was passable at times, but far from enough to make up for the shortcomings of the rest of the group. Ironically, for a player whose offensive profile has long been headlined by an elite command of the strike zone, the greatest detriment to the pitching staff was Little League-meltdown-esque walk rate.
It is rare to gaze upon a stat sheet and not see a single thing that could be seen as encouraging, but after a full month, there’s no way around it - this is the worst team ever assembled.
Not only were the lines grisly, the Vogelbachs on offense were barely able to reach the meager appraisal expected of them. Poor morale had set in, and a sense of futility hung heavy in the air. Nobody had even attempted a stolen base. There were, however, glimmers of hope, as the two Vogelbachs tasked with, ostensibly, playing their native position of 1B, were joined by Shortstop Vogelbach of all people in the realm of replacement-level or better.
I pumped the entirety of my draft and scouting budget into player development, in the hopes that by the end of the year we might see some progression in the clones, but that investment has yet to pay dividends. To make up for the ghastly quaility of the product on the field, I did make a controversial move in lowering ticket prices, which has allowed Seattle to retain one of the highest attendances in the league, against all odds (and my bottom line).
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the majority of the losses have been credited to the starting rotation, as is befitting a team whose starters tend to allow a dozen runs in the first few innings before being yanked. Just two losses have been charged to relievers - one to a Long Reliever Vogelbach, and the other, tragically, to Closerbach. The latter loss was the closest the team has come to doing the unthinkable and ekeing out a victory.
Starter Vogelbach 2 pitched the game of his life, scattering five walks, seven hits, and a homer through 6.1 innings to allow just seven runs - four earned. It was the first time a starter Vogelbach had crested the six-inning mark all year, and he must have watched with nervous wonder as his teammates pounced on Ryan Madson and Ryan Dull (clones in their own right), and took a 9-7 lead.
Alas, like a clan of Orlandoan Icaruses, 24 dejected Vogelbachs looked on as their first positive win probability after the first inning of the season evaporated into thin air as Closerbach yielded a homer to Jed Lowrie that would ultimately prove the difference.
26 games, 26 losses. None closer than 14-10. A team made of lesss stern stuff would fold, but despite exhaustion, embarrassment, and exceptional odds, the Mariners’ 25 Dan Vogelbachs will march on. They have a base to steal, a game to start with quality, and most importantly, a losing streak to bring to an end. Either that or they’ll die trying. Godspeed, Daniel Vogelbach.
Tomorrow we’ll dive into the dog days, as the impact of a team so thoroughly unequipped for MLB exposure begins to truly manifest on the league.