Daniel Port’s Fictional Player Draft Review
This draft was the most fun I’ve had in a while.
Growing up, baseball movies were a huge part of my life as I lived my dreams vicariously through Henry Rowengartner’s rocket arm or wondered if there really were angels in the outfield while determining that I too was capable of managing an MLB club at 12 years old. I remember debating with my friends if Bennie “The Jet” Rodriguez was the real G.O.A.T. and whether I could build a baseball field in a cornfield.
For alot of us here at Pitcher List, baseball movies and television shows are practically a part of our DNA. With that in mind, we set out to draft ourselves 12 full teams comprised completely of baseball players from those movies and television shows. First here are the rules: Draft Recap and Rules Review. And in case you missed any of the other teams, you can find their recaps here:
When drafting my team my main goal was to build a team that I thought would be competitive and that I would have fun rooting for. Here’s the whole squad:
Round 1 – Roy Hobbs, SP/OF
When I was gifted by the random number generator gods with the second pick in this draft, I knew there was only one choice, and that was Roy Hobbs. The Natural is perhaps the greatest baseball movie of all time, and Hobbs is the reason why. I mentioned that this was the all-sentimental team, and I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I stood in my backyard and pretended to shatter every imaginary stadium light I could.
Rounding third for home in a shower of sparks, glitter and glory was an essential dream of my childhood. I had to pick Hobbs. It doesn’t hurt that he was also awesome at baseball. One of the criteria we had to adhere to for this contest was that if the character appeared in different time periods, we had to specify which age we took them at. For this exercise, I took the 19-year-old Hobbs before he gets shot. A southpaw flamethrower with stuff so good he strikes out the best player in baseball on three pitches? That’s before we even get to his ability with the stick. Hobbs hit home runs like they were soft-tossed to him. He shattered clocks and made baseballs literally explode! And he’s just 19! Combine that with his dual eligibility, and it’s a no-brainer.
Real-life equivalent: Shohei Ohtani
Round 2 – Willie Mays Hayes, OF
So this is pretty much my reaction when Willie Mays Hayes fell to me in the second round:
OK, so confession time: I am a native Clevelander, born and raised, so I think I’ve seen Major League more times than I’ve been to church. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have shown my face back home if I didn’t have at least one Major League player on my team. That movie is full of great characters, but for me, this was an easy choice. I had already gotten power and good looks in my outfield with Hobbs in the first round, so now I needed some speed and some swagger. And Hayes has both in spades. He has his mind set at 100 stolen bases on the season, and he has the speed to pull it off. The man scored from second on a bunt!
That’s Billy Hamilton-level speed, and Hayes can actually hit! (At least eventually.) He plays like Mays and runs like Hayes! How can you not take this guy? It may have been unwise to double up on outfielders already given how deep the position is, but I couldn’t pass up on the value. Thanks to good luck through two rounds, I managed to build the perfect bedrock for home runs and stolen bases.
Real-life equivalent: Kenny Lofton
Round 3 – Dottie Hinson, C
One of my main goals throughout this draft was to build a balanced team of players who have meant a lot to me. I had already gone for power and speed; now I needed the best all-around hitter I could get. Someone reliable, who was steady, always came through in the clutch, and was simply a giant among their peers. It’s hard to find a player who fits that description better than Dottie Hinson.
If we assume that Hinson’s career mirrored that of Dottie Kamenshek, the real-life player on whom Hinson was based, then we’re talking about a player who not only hit .292 for her career and made the All-Star Game every single year of her career but in 3,736 at-bats struck out merely 81 times! We’re talking literally 2 percent of her entire career. That’s just plain bonkers. To get that kind of value at catcher? A position that for the most part is so barren we’re taking career minor leaguers such as Jake Taylor or washed up, lifetime minor leaguers such as Crash Davis? Give me Hinson all day long.
Real-kife equivalent: Dottie Kamenshek
Round 4 – Billy Chapel, SP
This is another sentimental favorite from me. Growing up, I was a big fan of two things: baseball and reading. I read everything I could get my hands on, especially if it had baseball in it. One of my favorite non-baseball books was The Killer Angels, a book about the Battle of Gettysburg by a relatively unknown author named Michael Shaara. As far as I knew it was the only book he had ever written.
One day while going on and on to one of my English teachers about how much I loved the book, she asked me if I had ever read his other book For Love of the Game. I immediately read it from cover to cover in less than a day. I don’t know if I had ever been so thoroughly fascinated by anything as I was that day by the story of aging pitcher Billy Chapel and his quest for one last perfect game.
The movie turned out to be everything I had ever wanted it to be. It captured the heart and soul of both the book I worshiped and the game I loved. That Vin Scully play by play in the video above is just breath-taking. I had to have Chapel on my team. I don’t care that the only good game he had that season was that perfect game (although he did put up a 3.55 ERA before the game, so he was pretty solid). One of my mantras about fantasy baseball is that you have to pick players for whom you enjoy rooting, and that’s what I did with this pick. Chapel is my ride-or-die.
Real-life equivalent: Andy Pettitte
Round 5 – Jack Elliot, 1B
Now we’re jumping back in for some power. I thought about waiting a round or two to see if Jack Elliot would fall to me later on, but when I looked at the field, I struggled to find a lot of quality first baseman. I didn’t want to be left hat in hand, so I took him here. It’s hard to argue against a guy who homered in six straight games. And with a few lessons in coachability, he even managed to fix a major hole in his swing and find a way to start hitting the shuuto pitch!
Real-life equivalent: Don Mattingly
Round 6 – Roger Dorn, 3B
I know what you’re thinking: Really? Roger Dorn? Hey, I don’t need him to field the ball in fantasy. Sold as a really solid hitter at the beginning of Major League, I’ll take his bat. And his defense ends up improving to the point that he’s going to get plenty of at-bats, which can add up pretty quickly. Just like Elliot, I’m always willing to invest in players who were former stars so you know the talent is there!
Real-life equivalent: Travis Fryman
Round 7 – Ginny Baker, SP
Screwgies for life! In today’s pitching environment, where we’re seeing pitchers throwing their off-speed out pitch more than 40 percent of the time, Ginny Baker was built to thrive. I love her moxie and strength, and when you see how much time and effort she puts into studying her craft and her opponents, it would be really hard not to bet on this young woman.
I also felt that after going with Chapel as my first pitcher that I need some youth and upside in the lineup, and Baker has buckets of both. It can never hurt my team ERA and WHIP to have a screwball pitcher in the pitcher-friendly PETCO Park.
Real-life equivalent: Yu Darvish
Round 8 – Josh Exley, DH
This is another nostalgia pick from me here. I loved The X-Files growing up, and finding out David Duchovny loved baseball as much as I did (he directed this episode) was a huge thing for me. In fact, this episode remains one of my favorite episodes.
For those who aren’t X-Philes, the Season 6 episode follows an alien who loved baseball so much that he assumes the form of a Negro League ballplayer named Josh Exley so that he can hide out on Earth and live out the rest of his years playing the game he loves. As for his talent, he was rumored in the episode to have broken Roger Maris’ home run record with 70 jacks, but no one remembered it because of Exley’s race (or at least his assumed race). Give me Barry Bonds before his time every single day of the week.
Real-life equivalent: Josh Gibson
Round 9 – Chase Utley, 2B
OK, time for another confession: I had planned to try and only pick fictional characters, but I waited too long and completely ran out of middle infielders. But by the laws of this draft, Chase Utley counts. They have a catch! I love this episode of It’s Always Sunny because I know someone who would definitely react this way if he ran into a professional athlete at an event like this (other people though … definitely other people). For fantasy purposes, he did hit .275 with 16 HRs and 13 SBs in 2010, the year this episode debuted. I’ll take that at second base.
Real-life equivalent: Himself?
Round 10 – Edward Cullen, OF
Look, hate all you want, but did you see how fast that dude is? The brooding undead pretty boy could get 600 at-bats, bunt every single time and finish the year batting 1.000 with 1,200 stolen bases and God knows how many runs. Edward Cullen is the ultimate five-tool prospect (six if you count the fact that he himself is a tool).
Real-life equivalent: Grady Sizemore
Round 11 – Amanda Whurlitzer, P
I feel like we’re looking at a future star in the making. Working on her own she develops a 2-inch drop in her curveball? Imagine what Amanda Whurlitzer will be able to do once she gets some coaching and state-of-the-art facilities. Tough as nails and able to handle dominating the boys, she’ll have no problems handling herself among this mixed-gender/alien/superhero fantasy world.
Real-life equivalent: Justine Seigal
Round 12 – Miguel Tejada, SS
OK, I’ll admit this was another panic move. Came to the last pick and couldn’t come up with a shortstop to save my life. On the other hand, Moneyball is an essential baseball movie and needed to be represented somehow, so I’m glad to do it. I apologize for the lack of movie clip here, but while Miguel Tejada appears and plays baseball throughout the movie, I was unable to find a clip. I included a career highlight video instead.
Perpetually underrated Tejada rounds out my squad nicely. In 2001, the year Moneyball takes place, Tejada hit 31 HRs with more than 100 runs and more than 100 RBI. I’ll take that with my last pick in a heartbeat.
Real-life equivalent: Royce Clayton (Just kidding. Fun fact: Clayton portrays Tejada in the movie.)
Honestly, for a team built mostly on nostalgia, I’m super happy with how this team turned out. I’m really excited to root for this team and watch them go toe to toe with the other teams. Going through this draft and doing all the research and watching all the movies reminded me of what I love best about them and baseball and what made me love baseball in the first place.
I see a ton of players who would be considered the best at what they do in their respective worlds. The sky is the limit for this squad.
Photo by Justin Paradis