Hosted by SIBR, written by BNN
If you wanted a good pitcher in the Expansion Era, there was a pretty simple blueprint to follow – find a player with lots of ruthlessness, check if they have any unthwackability or overpowerment, and chuck them in the rotation and watch the strikeouts follow. It was a pretty good system that produced some pretty good pitchers – one of them, Coolname Galvanic, is even on their third week on the ballot at this point. For a six season span, pretty much every ace pitcher in the league had ruthlessness out the wazoo.
Except Sandford Garner. They fit a very different mould. In an league dominated by strikeouts, even when not in the “Ruthlessness Era”, Garner has furrowed a very different path. In baseball terms, they’re a junkball pitcher – while they don’t strike people out, they generate weak contact, resulting in lots of balls in play, the majority of which are fielded for groundouts or flyouts, or turned into double plays when runners are on base. This explains the disparity between their FIP+ (114) and their ERA+ (129).
Sandford Garner is a model of consistency – since receiving the Extra Elbows blessing in the season 4 elections, they’ve only had an ERA above 5 once (5.02 in Season 15), and an ERA above 4 twice more (4.08 and 4.03 in Seasons 11 and 19 respectively). What this means is that while lots of pitchers dropped markedly in performance as the dynamics of the league changed, Garner maintained their status as one of the league’s best arms. A career WhAT (the Blaseball equivalent of baseball’s WAR) of 58.3 demonstrates that they’ve been consistently valuable to the San Francisco Lovers, the only team they’ve ever suited up for.
This isn’t to say that they’re a career compiler, consistently very good rather than ever elite. Sandford Garner does something better than arguably any other pitcher. They do not allow home runs. Garner has a career HR/9 of 0.761 through 388 games and 3,495.7 innings, good for fourth all-time. The three above him have not combined to throw that many innings. No-one who has pitched as much as Garner is better at not giving up homers. You can’t argue with maths.
So should you vote for Sandford Garner? That’s a difficult dilemma. They’re consistently one of the better league pitchers without ever setting the world alight. With a strong Lovers defence in a highly fortified ballpark, Garner has proven that there’s multiple ways to be great in this game, zigging while the rest of the league zagged, and their candidacy deserves deep consideration.
Joshua Watson was a long time player in the league, having had stops in Baltimore, Chicago, Mexico City, Kansas City, and then back to Mexico City. A member of the All-Sauce Wings, Josh really shone in the late Expansion Era, finding his way in Season 22 onto the doubles and triples leaderboards (albeit on a slightly trim lineup). But what shone about Josh, especially as the age of pitching ruthlessness was entering its zenith, is that he was a truly terrible pitcher. Upon being reverbed into the rotation towards the end of season 17 (in the incident that sent Burke Gonzales to the lineup), Josh enabled the Wings to go fully fledged into a tanking stretch, with a season 18 ERA- of 163, 5th worst of players who pitched at least 100 innings that season. Does Josh belong in the Hall of Fame? Probably not. But the minute they build the Hall of Tanking Fame, He’ll be enthusiastically knocking on it’s door.
Look, Steph Weeks isn’t getting into the Hall of Fame, especially on this ballot. We still want to talk about him though, because we think he’s neat.
Steph joined the Jazz Hands in Season 6 as Randall Marijuana’s Incineration replacement. We already had Stephens Lightner (of the infamous triple golden sombrero), who is lored as a collective entity of numerous different Stephens, and we eventually decided Steph was a former member of The Lightner Collective who’d broken off on his own. He also has 9 eyes and 9 arms, because there are 9 Days in a Week of Blaseball. That makes him both a pun and a nominative determinism, which is just about the most Jazz Hands character lore thing ever.
After our player-shaped bit of nominative determinism was released onto the league, he had a pretty good time for a while. He was a consistent batter, he began dating the extremely anticapitalist, cop-punching Elijah “Eli” Valenzuela – who had just joined the team in exchange for Aldon Cashmoney – and he was nursing a general loathing for Glarfield the Monday-hating cat.
Steph’s got through the early Expansion Era pretty unscathed, at least compared to some of his teammates (cough Combs Estes cough), at least until around Season 16. During the Season 16 election, the Jazz Hands voted to transfuse Steph’s partner, Eli. Moments later, in a classic mid-EE Jazz Hands election oopsie-woopsie, Eli was alternated and exchanged for a significantly worse version of himself. Then, in Season 18, Steph’s teammates Tamara Crankit and Bauer Zimmerman were Incinerated. Steph went Elsewhere later in Season 18, and stayed there for almost all of Season 19. That’s a lot of Wlaffle House.
After managing to drag himself back to Breckenridge fully scattered and thoroughly done with the events of the middle of the era, Steph joined Riley Firewall’s band to cope and returned to being a consistent batter and one of the few constants on the active roster for the remainder of the era.
While Steph wasn’t a star, they were consistently one of the better members of the Jazz Hands lineup, generally maintaining an OPS of 0.700 or greater. Like many Jands, Steph struggled during peak Ruth, but was an effective on base percentage hitter through the rest of Discipline and Expansion. They were also one of the few Jazz Hands to accumulate player mods – getting Fire Eater in the Season 9 Election, and Skipping in the Season 22 Election. Fire Eater helped inflate Steph’s middling slugging, and Skipping played to his small ball strengths, resulting in an enormous increase in his Walks drawn in Seasons 23 & 24.
Thanks for noticing Steph Weeks, and please go vote for Jolene Willowtree.
Look, I can’t make a statistical argument that Stephanie Winters belongs in the Hall of Fame. She’s not the best Wings batter (that’s Summers), pitcher (the legendary Burke Gonzales, who you better all vote for when he turns up on the ballot), or even two-way player (somehow also Burke). What I can tell you is two things about Steph. The first is that she was the pitcher in the championship winning game of the Wild Wings Season 7 miracle, and the Wings all love her dearly. The second is that she is vengeance incarnate. She was shelled during the first season of the Expansion Era, and not freed until the Internet Series of season 15. In season 17, after Summers (at that time her fiancé) was sent to the Dale in a feedback incident, she went elsewhere in the next game, and none of us know exactly where she went, ‘cause she didn’t tell us, but we’re pretty sure it was to fight one or more gods.
Summers didn’t make it into the Hall. Vote for Steph, or flee her wrath.
Francisca Sasquatch is one of the Dale’s greatest batters, and one of the best contact hitters of all time. They pitched for Miami for most of the DE, feedbacked to the Tacos’ rotation, were shelled as part of the Snackrifice there, joined the Pods, and then fell back to the Dale as a batter. Do you like basic stats? Starting S11 and up until almost the very end of Beta, they had a slashline of 0.307/0.334/0.576. In S24, they were one of only six players to ever achieve a seasonal .400 batting average, alongside such names as Dudley Mueller, Jaxon Buckley and Conner Haley. They have 6 seasons over .300 (and one at .298). Do you like advanced stats? They had an average OPS+ of 150. To put it in perspective: that is above Jessica Telephone’s career (149), comparable to Knight Triumphant (153), Beck Whitney (152) and Commissioner Vapor (156). If you prefer WhAT_PA, her numbers are even more favorable. She ranks top 25 all time, above Knight, Cerveza, Jessica, Haynes, Nava. Small teams often have a hard time getting their players into the Hall, regardless of how deserving they are – see Summers Preston’s unfortunate snub. If you want to rectify that, vote for Francisca Sasquatch: by the numbers they’re at least as good, if not better, than Jessica Telephone – only a lot less famous.
Have you ever heard of Forrest Best? Best base thief in the league? Strikes fear into the hearts of teams everywhere? Once pitched a ball so fast it made a magmatic Nagomi McDaniel flinch?
Well, I’ll give you the quick version.
Forrest Best is an original Crab, an unassuming store mannequin with giant crab legs, and beloved team cryptid. In the Season 5 Election it was the subject of three blessings and moved from being a decent base thief on one of the worst teams in the league to being the first player to break triple digits by stealing 101 bases in a single season. For context: the runner up, Don Mitchel, stole 56. Forrest proceeded to dominate the leaderboards, only slipping off of a commanding first place in Season 10 when every other division was given a fifth base they could steal.
In the Discipline era Forrest Best stole from first to home so many times that they had to invent “Stolen Home Runs” so they could show that Forrest Best could do them not only more efficiently than any other player, but over twice as efficiently as any entire team in the ILB, racking up 24 stolen home runs to the Hades Tiger’s 10. Not only that, but Forrest could steal a home run without a single pitch being thrown. It redefined what it meant to be a baserunner seasons before anyone else could get close to what it could pull off flawlessly.
Then came Day X. Because you see, Forrest Best had a weakness – it was the best base thief in the business, but it was a mediocre at best hitter. While it could always compensate for that by just stealing more and better than anyone else, Flinch hit it hard. Struggling to get to base, it slipped into fourth place on the seasonal leaderboard.
Then in Season 15, it was redacted off of a Debted pitch. It popped up as an attractor in the Steakhouse and stole its way to third before being interrupted by a home run and joining the Steaks’ Shadows.
Looking to take advantage of Forrest’s pitching, the Steaks brought it out to join the rotation, but while Forrest Best is an amazing pitcher, it wanted to run, and reverbed back to the lineup in the same season.
Forrest spent the next two seasons matching the top baserunners in speed and ferocity, but just never being able to compensate for its low batting skill, stealing 1.1 bases for every time it made it on, but only making it on base 91 times in Season 19.
In Season 20 Forrest Best was subjected to a consumer attack, and in Season 21 Forrest Best was hit again, becoming the only player ever to be redacted twice.
Now MIA, Forrest Best is remembered as the player that redefined baserunning, changing the game far before the inflation of the Expansion Era, and going out doing what it loved; stealing bases, hearts, and your vote for the hall of fame.