A few months ago, I was invited to participate in a historical simulation baseball league. I'd played simulation baseball before (Scoresheet, plus a few years of Strat-O-Matic). But I'd never been asked to pick an all-time team to do battle with other all-time teams. And I'd definitely never been asked to take on the godfather of modern sabermetrics, a future Hall of Fame pitcher, and a collection of 25 other great minds from the world of baseball. This would be fun.
I was thrilled to learn that my favorite (defunct) team, the Expos, was available, albeit as a merged franchise with the Nationals. With a chance to build a 40-man roster of 'Spos and Nats, I sent out a call for help, before finally assembling my dream team. Tim Raines, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Pedro Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero–this team had some serious potential.
Of course the problem was, the Expos (all 40 of my guys hail from la belle province, the Nats had nothing to offer) were going up against teams with far more illustrious histories. There's Ruth, Gehrig and the Yankees, Musial, Gibson and the Cardinals, Koufax and Jackie with the Dodgers, Mays and Ott with the Giants, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, Tom Seaver, Cy Young...oy.
Luckily, the results haven't been too bad so far. Seamheads had the good sense to match up teams based on a combination of geography and history. The Pirates, Dodgers, Reds and Cardinals form one division, for instance, while the Expos battle their expansion cousins the Padres, along with the Brewers and Royals (newer expansion were combined, with the Dbacks and Rockies forming one team, the Marlins and Rays another, giving the league seven four-team divisions). So while the Expos got predictably crushed against the Yankees, they fared well against the Royals, as well as their Canadian rivals the Jays (a three-game sweep, including a 17-1 demolition that was so one-sided, the real-life Jays should've been forced to cede their franchise rights to Montreal, with the entire province of Ontario exiled to Siberia).
Through 48 games, the Expos are tied for first with the Padres at 24-24, a respectable showing given the outside-division beatings that have come at the hands of old-time teams. The league is run through the Out Of The Park engine, which creates all kinds of funny quirks. Starting pitchers get tired quickly when overused; players can become unhappy if they're not getting the playing time they feel they deserve; and the best players aren't necessarily those with the best careers, but rather the best performances for that one specific team they're on. So deserving Hall of Famer Tim Raines is a good-but-not great platoon player, while Al Oliver is a monster, by virtue of his two great seasons in Montreal (including an '82 campaign where he led the league in batting average and RBI and finished 3rd in MVP voting).
All of these quirks have resulted in some moves you'd never see in real life. Pedro got demoted to Triple-A–twice. Dennis Martinez, the staff's best pitcher to date, also rode the Ottawa shuttle to avoid burnout. The team's #3 starter Pascual Perez got sent down...to be replaced by his brother Carlos. Meanwhile, the Expos have been littered with great outfielders over the years, but sorely lacked decent shortstops. That means Hubie Brooks and Wil Cordero form a SS combination that would never make an All-Star Game, let alone most all-time rosters, while outfield stars like Marquis Grissom, Ellis Valentine and Ken Singleton never see the light of day. The Expos' best player might be Delino Deshields, a slap-hitting speedster who spent just four years in Montreal and was best known for being the guy traded for Pedro. He's leading off for the HistoriSpos, hitting .318/.402/.471 vs. righties, with 15 steals in 22 games (Jose Vidro started the year at 2B, before getting bumped by Deshields).
I'll check in with the next league update at the season's halfway mark. Meanwhile, you can check out how your favorite team's all-timers are doing by hitting the Seamheads Historical League home page.