Frijoles: Tacos. They’re undeniably delicious but have historically not been particularly good at Blaseball. As mentioned in my Season 12 recap, they performed above their weight in Season 11, achieving a lot of runs (often followed by losing the actual game). At the end of Season 12, however, the whole team got a boost, and many splorts journalists believed they could go all the way in Season 13.
I’m capable of the general “numbers go up!” observations that are necessary in this line of work, but I’m really more of a color commentary sort of bear (not actually a bear). So I’ve called in reinforcements: Ace Analyst from Blaseball Prospectus is here to help me make sense of the Tacos Good? Tacos Good! situation we saw this Season.
Ace, what would you say is the basis for the Tacos’ amazing jump from 38-61 last Season to leading the League with a 64-35 record?
Ace: If one wanted to sum up the reason for the Tacos’ Season 13 success in one word, it wouldn’t be too difficult: pitching. Pitching has always been a struggle for the Tacos, with LA averaging a team ERA of 5.09 from Seasons 3 through 12. However, after infusing Sexton Wheerer up to 4 stars and foreshadowing the 1-star Peanut Bong for 3-star Yummy Elliott, the Season 13 Tacos set new team records for ERA (3.46), shutouts (10), strikeouts (805), hits allowed per 9 innings (7.4)… pretty much any counting or rate stat you can name. And these weren’t just Tacos records because of their past shortcomings; they were legitimately great numbers, stacking up well against past championship contenders like the Season 9 Shoe Thieves or the Season 5 Firefighters.
Frijoles: The Expansion Era could certainly so far be called The Era of the Pitcher, and the Tacos have a storied history with their pitchers. Wheerer undoubtedly appreciated Peanut Bong giving him a break every other Day in Seasons 11 and 12, but Yummy Elliott clearly brings more skill to the mound, winning more than half of the games they pitched in their debut season and largely keeping pace with the newly-infused Wheerer.
But let’s turn to the lineup. Last Season we saw some blooddrain and an allergy that certainly didn’t help as the Season progressed. The Tacos don’t have any huge problems in their lineup, although fans do love to call for the League to “ban ground” because of Kravitz’s tendency to ground out. How did the Tacos’ lineup stack up this Season?
Ace: It’s a good thing that the Tacos’ rotation improved immensely, because their offense took another step back in Season 13. After one of the greatest team-wide offensive seasons ever in Season 11 (0.983 OPS, 241 HRs) catapulted them into the playoffs, a nearly identical Season 12 lineup was merely pedestrian by comparison (0.791 OPS, 187 HRs). And in Season 13, LA’s team and individual numbers continued to fall, with only a pair of Masons (Rat and Basilio) making any real improvements. When putting the Tacos’ offensive numbers into context — they scored the 2nd-fewest runs in their division — the success of their pitching staff becomes all the more important.
Frijoles: Let’s talk CRIMES. The Tacos spent Gods’ Day on Wind Sprints, improving their baserunning. I know it seems like I saw more crimes — Games in particular doesn’t tend to go for the steal very often, preferring to just hit a triple or a nice home run. And then of course we’ve got to look at crime prevention. The Tacos aren’t the most defensive team. How did these aspects of the game affect their performance?
Ace: While defense and baserunning metrics are much less tangible than batting and pitching (without the crunch of an Apple, at least), it’s clear from what we can measure that the Tacos improved on those fronts. After boosting their average baserunning by nearly a full star with the Wind Sprints Blessing in the Season 12 Election, the Tacos stole 108 bases in Season 13 — the most in the team’s recorded history, and nearly double their S12 total. And on the defensive front, we have even less to go off of statistically, but looking at the drastic improvement in Wheerer’s pitching stats (nearly 2 whole points off of their ERA!), it would be surprising if a 1.5-star infusion was the only contributing factor. Past dynasties, like the Season 9-10 Shoe Thieves and the pre-Ascension Crabs, relied heavily on these two factors, and it seems that they made an impact on the Tacos’ rise as well.
Frijoles: Thanks Ace, I knew that I’d seen some new tactics from the team this Season. Any final thoughts?
Ace: In such a chaotic and unpredictable splort, stats can only get you so far (just look at the Sunbeams, who were the ILB’s unluckiest team in Season 13). To get a true picture of how well a team performed, it’s important to look at actual game outcomes. The Tacos did well against playoff contenders, posting a positive W-L record against teams over .500 for the first time in their history. However, they also played 21 of their 99 games (or about ⅕ of their schedule) against three of the ILB’s bottom four teams — the Lift, Georgias, and Worms. They won 18 of those games and got 2 additional Wins from Sun 2 against the Lift, accounting for just under ⅓ of their total Wins. That’s not to discount the Tacos’ overall accomplishments: they only lost consecutive games on five separate occasions, and would regularly rattle off 6- or 7-game Win streaks. But getting to spend some quality time with the ILB’s newest teams was certainly not something Tacos fans were complaining about, either.
Frijoles: Thanks so much, Ace. Your insights have definitely given me a clearer picture of the Tacos’ performance in this remarkable season.
We’ll wrap up with a recap of some of the major events of the season:
- Construction began at Al Pastor Memorial Park, with fans opting to build the popular Boreal model for their team.
- The Tacoganda machine encouraged fans to idolize pitcher Peanut Bong and hitter Sutton Picklestein (RIV), ultimately getting them both MVP status. Wheerer was also made an MVP by the Coin.
- The Tacos entered the Postseason with the highest number of Wins and Non-Losses in the League.
- The Tacos got swept by the Crabs in the Internet Series, but they didn’t let the Crabs shut them out either, scoring 3 runs in the first two games and 1 in the third.
- The team was Blessed by Sun 2 in the Election. They looped 4 times this Season, but if they can improve upon their relatively low number of runs next Season, we could see a notable boost in the team’s performance.
- Mcdowell Mason was Infused; given Wheerer’s improved performance this Season, we’re looking forward to see how McMason will do next Season.
- Nicholas Vincent has emerged from the Shadows, swapping places with Vito Kravitz. This brings some power to the bottom of the lineup and could prove to be just what the Tacos need to break through the defense we’re seeing from teams like the Crabs.
- The entire team got further boosts from Flotation Bubbles, along with the rest of the Wild Low. Historically a weaker division, we’re excited to watch all the Wild Low teams next Season.
- Taco Baco
Many thanks to the folks at the Society for Internet Blaseball Research for blaseball-reference.com and all the other tools they’ve created to help us all keep up with this rapidly-changing splort.