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Revisiting the All-Time, All-Star, All-World, Native Son Baseball Tournament

July 11, 2022
I suspect many of the readers on Bill James Online also follow Joe Posnanski’s writings. If you do, you may have noticed that he is currently in the middle of a series of posts (available to subscribers) where he is conducting a 16-team, all-time all-star tournament based on the state where a player was born.
As you probably know, I love this kind of thing, and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. But, it also reminds me that we did something similar here several years ago (early 2016) that was one of my favorite projects, though there are some differences. Anyway, in light of Joe’s current undertaking, I thought it might be fun to revisit what we did all those years ago, not only for the benefit of those of you who were readers back then, but also perhaps because it might be of interest to newer readers who may not have ventured that far back into the article archives. I also thought it might be fun (and also so that there would at least be some new content) to see if there might be any roster adjustments I would consider making now that 6 more seasons have passed.
Note that I am not re-running my tournament at this time. I just thought it would be fun to revisit.
The concept for the tournament I conducted actually traces back earlier than 2016. In 2014, we had a Reader Post thread called "Town Teams – A Bill James Idea Revisited" that I’m proud to say I kicked off, and it is still pretty high up on the list of threads most responded to (and viewed) in this site’s history (it’s currently #21 all-time in replies and #22 in views). And, as you can tell by the "revisited" in the title, it actually traces back much farther than that. In the 1992 version of "The Baseball Book" in his post-Abstract days, Bill published a "year in a box" section for each major league team, and one of the things he included was a "Town team" for each franchise.   For each team he would select (typically) a starting lineup and at least 1 pitcher, maybe a manager if there was a suitable one. These were people that were "from that area", not necessarily players that played for that franchise, and not necessarily players that were born there.
Anyway, what I did in starting the 2014 thread was solicit replies from our reader community on updating that concept. We had a lot of fun with it, and when 2016 rolled around, I decided to take it the next step and turn it into a full-fledged, world-wide tournament based on where a player was born. I called it the "All Time, All Star, All World, Native Son Baseball Tournament".
So, what are the differences between what Joe is doing and what I did?
  • Joe is doing a 16-team tournament. Mine was 32 teams
  • Joe’s teams represent individual U.S. states. Mine included other countries, and many of the entries were actually 2 or more areas combined, and in one case (California), I actually split it in two. (more on this later)
  • Joe is picking a starting lineup and starting pitcher for each matchup. I selected full 25-man rosters.
  • Joe’s tournament has single-game elimination matchups, at least in the early rounds. My matchups were best-of-7 series.
One other difference is that Joe indicated he would have his readers vote on who they think will win each matchup, but then he also later announced that Strat-O-Matic offered to simulate the matchups to see who wins, which I think is pretty cool and I’m slightly jealous of. I ran my matchups through a crude simulator I created that would leverage a random number generation (done using Excel) that was analogous to "rolling the dice" in a table top baseball game, and it would provide the results. The probabilities were based on each team’s relative advantages/disadvantages in team categories such as power, speed, batting average, OBP, defense, the starting pitcher, and relief pitching. It was crude (but quick). It was not a batter-by-batter simulation.   Each team used a 4-man rotation throughout the tournament, and it followed a calendar (with appropriate off-days with potential "waiting" for your opponent to complete the prior round if you won your round early), so your best starting pitchers didn’t always start game 1 of each round. I enforced ensuring that a starting pitcher had adequate rest.
We did also hold a prediction contest that asked people to submit their brackets (like a March Madness bracket pool), so that was a lot of fun as well.  (If you review the articles, please don’t submit one now…..remember this was 6 years ago!)
Oh yeah, I said I would explain more about the teams. Rather than do individual states, I wanted to make sure we had all of the best players included (or at least as much as I could do given the data sources), so I took some liberties with the states, countries, and territories. 
Here’s how I organized the globe into 32 teams:
Teams representing a single U.S. state:
New York
These are all deep, talent-rich states that have no trouble fielding a competitive squad. Several of these teams were among the highest seeds in the tournament.
Teams that represented a single state but were split into two separate entities:
Northern California (San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, San Jose, etc.)
Southern California (Los Angeles, San Diego, etc.)
California is the deepest, most talent-rich state in the country, so I split them into two separate (but still very deep and talented) entries. The California team is Posnanski’s #1 seed, and it probably would have been my #1 seed if I hadn’t split them up, but even when split they represented my #4 seed (Southern California) and #7 seed (Northern California). 
Teams representing a single Non-U.S. area:
Dominican Republic
Teams that represent multiple states/countries/territories (some of which got "nifty" names to refer to the team):

Most of these have geographic connections/proximities:
Carolinas (North Carolina and South Carolina)
EurAusAsia (This was kind of an "all others" team that combined countries/areas not already covered by the other 31 teams. The roster was sourced primarily by Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, and a few others). Definitely a hodge-podge of countries.
Freezing North (Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota)
Great Northwest (Oregon and Washington, but I also gave them Alaska and Hawaii)
Gulf Coast (Louisiana and Mississippi)
Heartland (Iowa and Nebraska)
Jersey (Mostly New Jersey but I also gave them Delaware)
Maryland-Washington DC
New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire)
Puerto Rico (also gave them Virgin Islands)
Rocky Mountain (Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho)
South of the Border (mostly Mexico and Panama, who didn’t have enough on their own, so I combined them, along with players from countries such as Nicaragua, Colombia, and Jamaica (because I didn’t know who else to combine them with). It’s a little hodge-podge, but I was OK with it.
Venezuela (also gave them Curacao and Aruba)
Virginias (Virginia and West Virginia set aside their historical differences and reunited)
Here was the way I had the field seeded:
New York
Southern California
Northern California
Dominican Republic
New England
Gulf Coast
Great Northwest
Freezing North
Puerto Rico
Rocky Mountain
South of the Border
Below are links to the original series of articles. The first 4 introduce the concept and review the teams’ rosters and seedings. The last 3 have to do with the actual tournament setup and results. 
Anyway, I hope this is of interest to you, either as nostalgia if you’re an old reader, or newly discovered material if you’re a newer one.  Seeing how the different rosters play out is, of course, a big part of the fun.
One of the things that I think is interesting about tournaments like this, especially in baseball, is that who wins isn’t always who you would anticipate winning simply by looking at the roster strength. In baseball, unlike other sports like football or basketball, the "better" teams don’t win as often. In baseball, even if you’re a 100-win team, that means you only win about 60% of the games, which is quite a bit lower than what you see in football and basketball. 
And, in my tournament, I ended up with a Final 4 that had a #2 seed (Texas), a #6 seed (Maryland/Washington DC), a #8 seed (Dominican Republic), and a Cinderella entry #21 (Great Northwest).  The Dominican Republic (led by Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, and Juan Marichal) faced off against Maryland/Washington DC (led by Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Cal Ripken, Al Kaline, and Lefty Grove) in the finals, and Maryland/DC came away with the championship.
As a last bit of update, since I originally compiled the team rosters 6 years ago, I thought I’d see if there were any players of recent vintage who might be added to a roster now. This section might make more sense if you review the first 4 links above to see who made the original 32-team rosters, but that’s totally up to you.
To start with, two of the best players over the past 6 years have been Mike Trout (New Jersey) and Paul Goldschmidt (Delaware) Both of them were about 5 seasons into their careers when I first did this in early 2016 and had already done enough to justify being starters on the Jersey team (which is New Jersey plus Delaware) but they would rate as even better players now. The Jersey team, which also features stars like Derek Jeter, Goose Goslin, Billy Hamilton (the 1800’s one) and Joe Medwick, might move up a little from its previous #27 seed.
As mentioned earlier, the Maryland/Washington DC entry won my initial tournament as the #6 seed, largely behind a great offense. Their starting lineup featured an infield of Jimmie Foxx, Cupid Childs, Cal Ripken, and Frank Baker, with an outfield of Babe Ruth, Al Kaline, and Charlie Keller (Kaline had to play CF, but he did have nearly 500 career games there). That team had 2 distinct weakness: their catching was weak (Babe Phelps & Pop Snyder), and their two best short relievers were Steve Farr and Jeff Nelson, who were certainly quality pitchers, but in a competition like this, I had them as only the #31 ranked team in terms of short relief. They were able to overcome it in the tournament, but it remains an area of weakness. However, they would now have access to one of the best closers of recent vintage, Josh Hader, who happens to the be the all-time leader (minimum 300 innings) in both strikeouts per 9 innings (15.2) and fewest hits allowed per 9 innings (4.4).  A really nice addition.
Shohei Ohtani (Japan) would be a welcome addition to the EurAusAsia team. I didn’t use DH’s in my lineup constructions the first time around, but if I were to ever re-do it, I’m sure I would this time. EurAusAsia didn’t have a whole lot of offensive punch on the roster, so he would definitely help there. And, Ohtani would also give another capable arm to the staff. 
The Rocky Mountain squad, which was one of the lower seeds (#29) the first time around, looks like they could move up some. Kris Bryant (Nevada) was just getting started on his career when I first did this, so I left him off the original roster, but I would put him as the starting third baseman on that team now (ahead of Chase Headley). Rocky Mountain would also get another boost on the left side of the infield by adding another player who’s had some recent success, Alex Bregman (New Mexico). The team would also benefit from a more robust version of Bryce Harper, who made the team the first time around but was only about 4 years into his career. Also, Cody Bellinger (Arizona) would probably now be the starting center fielder on the team, ahead of Mike Devereaux.
The Dominican Republic, which was already my #8 seed and was the runner-up in the tournament, could potentially get a fresh influx of exciting, young blood in the forms of Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr., although I’d have to think about who to drop from the roster. The current outfielders are Manny Ramirez, Cesar Cedeno, Sammy Sosa, with Vladimir Guerrero and Pedro Guerrero, so I’m not sure if I’m ready to replace any of those with Soto. Maybe in a few years. Tatis Jr. probably would not supplant starting shortstop Miguel Tejada, but he might have enough potential to consider dropping Julio Franco, Placido Polanco, or Hanley Ramirez from the roster, although those players offer a lot of versatility. Like Soto, I might have to give it a few more years.
Jose Ramirez might be another possible candidate for the Dominican Republic roster. Adrian Beltre is the starting third baseman, so Ramirez wouldn’t supplant him, but, like Tatis Jr, he might be able to bump either Franco, Polanco or Hanley Ramirez.
Mookie Betts would make the Kentucky/Tennessee roster now. Their starting outfield before was Turkey Stearnes in CF with Bobby Veach in LF and Vada Pinson in RF. I would start Betts in RF and probably bump Pinson to LF.
Manny Machado would probably make the Florida roster now, but they already had Chipper Jones at 3B and John Henry Lloyd as SS, so Machado would likely be a backup. Jones could shift to the outfield, but Florida already had a pretty strong trio with Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, and Gary Sheffield. Maybe Jones would DH (which wasn’t an option last time) and Machado could start at third.
Another Florida candidate is Trea Turner, but he wouldn’t be a starter. He might make it as a backup, but they’d have to drop someone like Josh Donaldson, Jay Bell, or Steve Garvey, and one of those would already be gone if/when I add Machado. I think I’d have to think about it a little more….
Florida would also get a boost to its pitching staff with Jacob deGrom. I’d probably slot him in behind existing top of the rotation starters Steve Carlton, Dwight Gooden, and Zack Greinke.
Puerto Rico would get an upgrade as both Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor have established themselves as quality shortstops. Puerto Rico’s prior starter at shortstop was Jose Valentin, a good player for sure, but I think I’d move him into more of a utility role and start Lindor in a close call over Correa. Javier Baez is another infielder who might be added to the roster. Edwin Diaz might also make the team as a reliever.
The 2 California entries are tough rosters to crack, I think I’d put Nolan Arenado on the Southern California roster. Their current starting third baseman is Graig Nettles and the backup is Darrell Evans. I’d probably keep Nettles as the starter and put Arenado on as a reserve, and drop Evans.
Another candidate for Southern California would be Freddie Freeman, although Southern California already has Eddie Murray and Mark McGwire, so I’m not sure Freeman would be able to supplant either of them. 
Same goes for Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton – they’ve both been great and each one has an MVP, and they would probably make most other rosters, but the starting outfielders on the Southern California team are Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, and Duke Snider, with Tony Gwynn and Dwight Evans in reserve, so that’s a tough group to crack. 
Aaron Judge is eligible for the Northern California team. Their current starting outfielders are Joe DiMaggio, Harry Heilmann, and Augie Galan, with Dom DiMaggio as the primary OF backup. Galan was a pretty good player who got on base a ton, but I would be tempted to start Judge in RF and move Heilmann to LF, although he didn’t play much there. Or I guess I could DH Heilmann since I know have that option. Bob Elliott, Dom DiMaggio, or Frank Chance would probably have to be dropped from the roster.
Marcus Semien would be eligible for the Northern California team, but their up-the-middle-players are Dustin Pedroia, Joe Cronin, Tony Lazzeri, and Jim Fregosi. I’m not sure Semien would be able to bump any of those.
Xander Bogaerts is from Aruba, which makes him eligible for the Venezuela roster, but shortstop is already a very deep position on that roster with Luis Aparicio, Dave Concepcion, and Omar Vizquel. Bogaerts can play third base, so I might take him and drop either Melvin Mora or Martin Prado from the roster, although those 2 can play a lot of positions.
Another player who could be considered for Venezuela is Ronald Acuna Jr., although he’s still pretty early in his career. Their starting outfield is currently Bobby Abreu, Magglio Ordonez, and Andruw Jones (from Curacao, which I grouped with Venezuela), so he’s a little early to bump any of them, but he might still make the roster.
Yet another Venezuelan who would probably make an updated roster is Salvador Perez. Currently, the Venezuela team has Victor Martinez at catcher and Ramon Hernandez as the backup, so I think I would start Perez and move Martinez into more of a DH and backup catcher role. In addition, Wilson Contreras is another solid option at catcher who could push for a roster spot.
An intriguing addition would be Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to Canada. Guerrero was born in Canada as his dad was playing with the Expos at the time. Junior would definitely help the #32 seed Canada team. He wouldn’t supplant Joey Votto as the first baseman, but he could DH, or maybe one could consider starting him at 3B over Corey Koskie.
Trevor Story (Texas) has been a very good player, but Texas already has Ernie Banks and Willie Wells. I don’t think there’s room for Story. Also from Texas, Anthony Rendon has been a quality player. He could push for a roster spot, but Texas is already loaded with Eddie Mathews and Matt Williams at third base. In fact, I have Rogers Hornsby playing 3B for Texas since they have Joe Morgan and Ernie Banks at 2B and SS, respectively, and I moved Mathews to 1B in order to get all 4 legends into the lineup.  I’d probably leave Rendon off.
The Seager brothers (Kyle and Corey), both born in North Carolina, might make a push for the Carolinas roster, but I’m not sure who they might take the place of. I’d probably have to drop the likes of Ryan Zimmerman and Del Pratt, and I’m not sure that’s a good trade off.
George Springer (Connecticut) could make the New England roster. Their current outfielders are pretty "old-timey" with Joe Kelley, Hugh Duffy, Jimmy Ryan, and Jim O’Rourke, and overall the New England team is one of the lower rated in terms of power (they don’t have much outside of Jeff Bagwell, Carlton Fisk, and Gabby Hartnett) so Springer might be a welcome addition. I’d probably have to drop someone like a Mark Belanger or a Larry Gardner to make room.
Well, there are a lot more I could do, but I think I’ll stop there.
Thank you for reading,

COMMENTS (4 Comments, most recent shown first)

I enjoyed the 2016 article when I first read it. I recently purchased a computer baseball simulation game and an associated data base of players based on their career performances. I used the original rosters with some updates which were similar to the ones listed above.

In any case, I have started playing a full 162-game season with the entire 32-team field. Of course, this will take a long time to complete. But, I am currently at the 1/3 mark of the season. So, it seems like an appropriate time to identify the top teams thus far. The top 10 (plus ties) are as follow:

1. Pennsylvania (38-16)
2. New York (34-20)
3tie. Illinois (33-21)
3tie. Texas (33-21)
5tie. Dominican Republic (32-22)
5tie. Missouri (32-22)
7. Alabama (31-23)
8tie. Minnesota (30-24)
8tie. New England (30-24)
10tie. Northern California (29-25)
10tie. Southern California (29-25)

Those results are pretty similar to Dan's seeding. If anyone's interested, in the future, I will post updates at the halfway and 2/3 point in the season.

Interestingly, in my season, Canada (12-42) has the worst record and South of the Border (17-37) is the second worst, just as Dan has ranked them.

FYI, for the sake of completing this message, the simulation game I'm using is manufactured by Dave Koch Sports (please note that I have no affiliation with the company).

I hope that some of you find this post interesting.

6:00 PM Jul 24th
I would assume that this is computer simulation. Shouldn't it be a best-0of-154 (or 0fr 154,000) to have a true test?
12:48 AM Jul 14th

Yep, that's kind of funny, although with Joe's first round matchups being single-game eliminations, it's not too shocking. In 2 of their 5 matches in my tournament (which were all best-of-7 series), Maryland-DC lost game 1, including the final round match up where the Dominican Republic took the first two games. I would expect a lot of "upsets" in Joe's simulations.

11:57 AM Jul 12th
Kind of funny that Maryland (basically, with a little help from D.C.) won your tourney while it just got upset by Louisiana Lightning and the rest of the Pelican State in Joe's tourney
10:33 AM Jul 12th
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