By: Blenjamin Rees
It is the middle of the Discipline Era, and the Tacos are losing. Again. It is their fate, it always has been, and it seems like it always will be. The demise of the Shelled One brought about a change of fortune, however, and the Infinite Cities started appearing in the post-season prior to the Grand Siesta, and in the Expansion Era were arguably the most consistent contender in the entire ILB. Unlikely as it may have seemed in those dark Discipline days, Los Angeli turned things around, and players transformed from cult heroes into veritable all-stars.
As such, the Tacos can participate in an exercise that once seemed like the most wishful of thinking— creating the all-time Taco roster. As with the other articles in this series, there are some rules in place to keep things on the straight and narrow.
- There will be the standard 9 Lineup Players and 5 Pitching Players. Players cannot Elsewhere or Shelled.
- The Selection must represent a single season on that team in their role.
- The player must have played at least one full season with that team.
- A player can only be used once in the 14 positions.
- No Replicas are allowed.
Make sense? Excellent. To that end, I sat down with some of my BACo. podcast co-hosts and we hashed out over a couple of hours what we believe to be the 14 best individual seasons from 24 years of Taco Blaseball history, in a hopefully optimized order. Stats are the “triple slash” of Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, and Slugging Percentage, and any other relevant statistics to help support the choices will be in the notes. Presenting the Taco All-Stars!
- Basilio Mason (Season 24) – .295/.463/.593
The BMase redemption arc was long in the making. A day-one Taco, they didn’t miss a single game until a reverb into the rotation in season 20, a remarkable feat for any player, especially one that supposedly doesn’t even like Blaseball. An infusion in the thick of the Expansion Era helped turn them into an OBP titan, thanks to a Moxie stat that ranked second behind only Jaxon Buckley at Season 24’s end. The lead-off spot is perfect for a player who can consistently get on base the way they can, but the ability to hit for power and not be a complete idiot on the basepaths (which is extremely rare in LA) has turned them into a superstar. With the one spot in the Lineup, the turnaround is complete.
- Halexandrey Walton (Season 11) – .278/.383/.541
The Apex Hex was an incredibly popular Taco, and the offense-heavy environment of the Season 11 Wild Low was Hex at the peak of her powers, making use of the Divisional Walk in the Park to draw a whopping 98 walks that season, just under one a game, a number that no one else around the league could even come close to that year— Igneus Delacruz (RIV) was second with 82. Throw the 31 home runs into the mix as well, and you have that power element to her game. Peanut allergies, trades, and Alternation have left her a very different animal now, but they’ll always be a fan favorite and this season helps prove why.
- Rat Mason (Season 20) – .371/.414/.598
Batting three is the greatest Taco of all-time, the
legendary iconic Rat Mason, inadvertent star of the Semi-Centennial. Their contribution in the “Oops, all Masons” Lineup that gave the Tacos the Internet Series title in Season 17 cannot be understated, but Season 20 gets the nod, with its OPS of 1.012, the finest of Rat’s storied career. Their home run output was down that year, but the godly ability to consistently get on base makes up for it, and the .389 average with Runners In Scoring Position shows how important they were for the offense. They slot in at 3 here, a helpful spot with a high likelihood of runners on second or third to drive home, and Walton’s high walk rate has the added advantage of not giving Rat any bases to steal. Well, try and steal, anyway. Rat te amo!
- Valentine Games (Season 12) – .314/.340/.709
What can I say about Val that hasn’t been said before? An absolute powerhouse of the splort, the name put fear in the hearts of pitchers for the entirety of their career. While their best season may have come in a Fridays jersey, ironically in the team that the Tacos beat to win the Season 17 title, Season 12 gets the nod from their time in the Infinite Cities. After the offensive boom in Seasons 10 and 11, most players came back to normality in the first tick of the Expansion Era. Not Val, who continued to mash for extra bases like the Grand Siesta never happened. They bat clean-up in the roster, and should drive in a big bucket-load of runs because that’s what Valentine Games does.
- Mcdowell Mason (Season 19) – .324/.367/.819
The long-time captain, Mcdowell has always been more of a slugger than a consistent on-base player, but Season 19 had the best of both worlds. While he didn’t match the record-setting 70 home runs he hit the season prior, the 54 they hit this season was still phenomenal, coupled with the best batting average of his career. Powered by the One (Clutch Wooden Rock Ring), the improved contact helped them to hit a whopping 48 triples, and the stolen base numbers of a 38:6 success rate meant that even when the cap’ wasn’t hitting for extra bases, they might just take them anyway. The beating heart of the Tacos for so many seasons sits at the heart of the Lineup here in the number five spot.
- Fish Summer (Season 21) – .333/.361/.615
Fish Summer ended up in the Infinite Cities entirely by accident and then Faxed into the Shadows their very first game. What a legend. They came out in Season 20 and tore the house down, then came back the following season even better. They might not feel like a Taco, having had much more storied runs with the Moist Talkers and the Crabs, but they were a formidable lead-off hitter, despite their propensity for being swept Elsewhere, setting the tone for a championship run that never quite emerged before the Georgias finally got their
man Fish. Their time on the Tacos was brief, but the offensive output more than earns the spot, and Hot Fish Summer slots in at six.
- Felix Garbage (Season 20) – .274/.294/.537
One of my favorite moves the Tacos has ever made was the Garbage for Gwiffin trade, and while Owl Dad never perhaps provided the impact either team had hoped for (shame the Gwiffuse never panned out), the good doctor Garbage has been maybe even better than expected. Season 24 has an astronomical OBP thanks to Skipping and Walk in the Park, but Season 20 (the only repeat season on the Lineup) was probably Doc providing the slugging that the Taco faithful crave, and the .400 BA/RISP is never something to be sniffed at. The deal sealer is the postseason performance— their OPS in the Season 20 playoffs was 1.117, and almost carried the Tacos to the Wild League crown. Felix floats on to seven in the lineup, a good spot for a player with production, but also still untapped potential in their future, given that the first half of their career was spent in the Mills’ rotation.
- Sexton Wheerer (Season 17) – .244/.264/.532
The only hitting season selected from the Season 17 triumph is Sexton’s, and the hitting numbers are respectable (the best of his career), if not remarkable. What works in their favor is the postseason OPS of .886, including no fewer than nine home runs, and the fact that Wheerer possesses a quality that many in Los Angeli have lacked— defense. A standout defender, the ability with the glove almost justifies a spot in itself. Having that high Omniscience on the field for every game, rather than just one in five, swings Sexton into the Lineup at eight.
- Basilio Fig (Season 15) – .206/.252/.562
Basilio Fig is so weird. I mean that in the best possible way. Their OPS fluctuates between great, average, and awful seemingly on the roll of a die each season, and their stat spread is quite unlike any other player I can recall. The temptation was strong to pick a later Season after the Tacos committed Fire Science and gave Fig the hilarious and devastating Fire Eater/Unstable combination, but Season 15 encapsulates everything Fig is about as a player. They had 91 hits this season. Only 28 of those were singles, and only nine were doubles. That leaves nearly two-thirds of their hits being triples and homers; 23 and 35 respectively. This is the perfect ‘Fig hits big’ season— the disparity between BA/OBP and SLG may never be seen again, and there’s a good chance the Tacos miss the postseason without Fig’s power-hitting that year. A player as strange as Fig is perfect to round off the Lineup, and their phenomenal triple hitting thanks to their high Ground Friction leaves them in a great place to be driven home by the top of the order.
Honorable mentions go to Nicholas Vincent (Season 14), whose potential was snuffed out by a Rogue Umpire before we ever saw their best; Patel Beyonce (Season 5), who was a shining light for the Tacos in the dark days of the Discipline Era; and Wyatt Dovenpart (Season 7), an unmistakable part of the creation of the Infinite Los Angeli whose on-field efforts are often forgotten.
- Michelle Sportsman (Season 21) — -0.04 ERA
Look, I know that items can be ephemeral, and Underhanded seems quite unfair, but it’s impossible to talk about Michelle Sportsman without bringing it up. Underhanded Michelle Sportsman broke Blaseball. There are six seasons where a pitcher finished with a negative ERA, and Chell has four of them. Season 21 gets the nod, with 31 Quality Starts out of 33 games, and fewer hits and home runs than Season 20 despite a slightly higher ERA, an identical WHIP (I know, right? Blaseball.), and a better postseason performance, with a -0.43 ERA over three contests, to go with it. We knew Michelle would be the envy of the league, and so it proved, but for two glorious seasons the Sickos in the Taco Stand were out in full force, and Sportsman heads up the Rotation here.
- Yummy Elliott (Season 17) — 3.39 ERA
Yummy Elliott, a childhood Tacos fan, is the best, most consistent pitcher that the Tacos have ever had, in this writer’s opinion, and I’m not sure it’s close. This gives us a wide variety of seasons to pick from, which poses some nice problems. Season 19 has the best ERA, 1.58, and was also the season Yummy threw their perfect game, against the Boston Flowers (the first perfect game in ILB history with the loser having a run, thanks to Boston’s Home Field Advantage). Part of the reason it hasn’t been selected is that Elliott spent the first part of the season in the Shadows, as they are occasionally wont to do, thanks to Al Pastor’s fax machine. Yummy spent some time Shadowed in Season 17 as well, although only for one game (thanks, McBaseball Clembons), and their regular-season ERA of 3.39, with a WHIP of 0.80, are very creditable if not outstanding. The reason this season gets the nod is for her postseason performance— with Wyatt Mason IV shelled, Yummy pitched two-thirds of the Tacos games in the playoffs, posting a 2.87 ERA, winning every single outing after the opening contest against the Firefighters, including holding their nerve in the Internet Series decider, giving up just the one run through ten innings, to finish with a 6-1 postseason record and winning LA their first (and so far only) Internet Series). The numbers are better in other years, but playing their best when it mattered most makes this the choice.
- Vito Kravitz (Season 15) — 2.68 ERA
For the first half of their career, Vito was a hitter at the bottom of the Taco lineup (after a Feedback swap with the Flowers for Moses Mason (RIV)). This flattered Kravitz, who loved a groundout more than anyone ever thought possible. They were Foreshadowed for Nicholas Vincent after Season 13, and spent Season 14 in the Shadows, selling lots of very affordable used cars. It was during this time-off that the Taco Stand hatched a plan— what if we made the skeleton pitch? It was a stroke of genius. Vito’s first season on the mound, Season 15, was lights out, posting a 2.68 ERA, 0.689 WHIP, 24 Quality Starts, and a strikeout to walk ratio of 186.5. He continually peppered the strike zone, and the Rotation was better for it. As the Ruthlessness era of pitching faded, Vito’s deficiencies in other areas began to catch up, and their pitching days may be behind him (especially now they frustratingly refuse to leave the Lineup again), but their contribution in the early part of their pitching career should not be understated, and his rookie season stands the test of time.
- Wyatt Mason IV (Season 16) – 2.99 ERA
When Ivy arrived in the second Wyatt Masoning (how crazy is it that we have to clarify), the Tacos fans rejoiced that they appeared to be one of the better Echoes, and as their namesakes quickly staticked out, it became apparent that Ivy might be around long-term. Thus, Ivy received an infusion in the Season 15 elections, and the improvement in Season 16 was strong enough to justify the decision, and also earn a spot in the All-Star rotation. The ERA is very good, but the WHIP is outstanding at 0.691, posting 20 Quality Starts out of 33 games. They Shelled themself in Season 17, and their career has never hit the same heights afterward, but Season 16 is probably the best season any player named Wyatt Mason has ever had, and there is a ludicrous number to pick from.
- Patel Beyonce (Season 7) – 2.73 ERA
Well now, what’s this? A Discipline Era nominee? You better believe it. Beyonce nearly snuck in as a hitter, and may well have made the Lineup were it not for their performance on the mound. The Tacos were not good, and for a player on that team to put up a 2.73 ERA was absolutely unheard of— it was the fifth-best ERA in the entire ILB. Wins are not necessarily a good stat, but for a Taco pitcher to post a 12-8 record at that time is ridiculous given the lack of run support, and with 14 Quality Starts out of 20 (tied for fourth league-wide) it could perhaps have been even more. They pitched a league-leading five shutouts that year as well. Hitting across the league was not as strong then as it is now, but PBae’s season was still strong enough to provide the only reputation in our team from those unsuccessful early Taco years.
Honorable mentions go to Sexton Wheerer (Season 13), the rock of the Rotation for so long, still the all-time leader in ILB history for the number of pitches thrown despite last taking the mound in Season 14, and posted a 3.04 ERA this season but was better utilized in the lineup; Lucas Petty (Season 24), a recent Taco addition who has quickly become a fan favorite, and whose penchant for Partying means that their best is probably still to come; and Pitching Machine (Season 8), a first-ballot Hall of Famer, certified Legend, and beloved league-wide, but whose best seasons came in other uniforms (both as a pitcher and as a hitter, where they counter-intuitively spent more of their career). So there you have it, the Taco All-Stars, which I’m sure absolutely no one will disagree with on any front. If you’re interested in the discussion process, I recommend listening to the BACo. episode where we discuss the choices in-depth, which can be found at https://blaseballanalysisco.libsyn.com/episode-5-the-perfect-taco.
This article is part of the Dream Team Series, in which our writers look back on the Discipline and Expansion Eras to create the strongest version of our beloved teams. Read the first in the series here.