Today, we launched a beer website, a family member for FanGraphs: BeerGraphs. On that site, we hope to ruin beer with spreadsheets much like FanGraphs ruined baseball. But we hope to celebrate beer, like NotGraphs celebrates baseball.
And so my NotGraphantasy club is full of players that made me think of beers. Delightfully delicious beers. Some all hops, and smack you in the face, and some all about balance and poise.
C: Sal Fasano
What beer tastes like mustache and smells like the funk Sal Fasano put out there on a semi-regular basis? Maybe Jolly Pumpkin’s Bam Noire. That beer is made with Brett yeast — some says it smells like goat — and has a sour aspect that could make you screw up your face like you just got a face full of Fasano crotch on a play at the plate on a 90-degree August afternoon. The Bam Noire is worth a full negative four beer wins, but then again, Fasano’s not for everyone either.
1B: Mike Piazza
Mike Piazza, New York catcher, brings a touch of class despite your snickers about his leanings. And, freed from the tethers of the tools of ignorance, his career 141 wRC+ would look pretty fine with a first baseman’s mitt. So we’re looking for a beer that’s slightly out of place, and smoother than it’s compatriots. How about Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale, a pale ale so smooth you don’t even notice you’re drinking a pale ale. Worth four beer wins itself, it brings the team even.
2B David Eckstein
Grit is good. Teams need grit. Do beers? Well, Gritty’s Original Pub Style thinks so, they put it in the name. Unfortunately, drinkers have taken to that beer about as well as WAR took to Eckstein’s replacement-level 2008… or worse: Gritty’s is “worth” -2 beer wins.
SS: Rey Ordonez
Look around the diamond at guys like Brandon Crawford and Brendan Ryan and remember that Rey Ordonez, too, was once able to manage three wins on defense alone. That kind of one-note genius, especially given the defensive situation at third base, is important. How about Hop Shortage Triple IPA from Knee Deep for our player comp? The Hop Shortage is all glove, all hops, and all in your face. And, among the difficult group that is defensive-first shortstops and double IPA’s Hop Shortage is basically replacement level. So, about right.
3B/Manager: Ozzie Guillen
Ozzie Guillen is brash. He’s in your face. He’s our third baseman and our manager. And our translator, since we’re balling on a budget. At 49, his defense is suspect, and his bat even worse, but as long as he doesn’t fall down or talk about Hugo Chavez, he’ll steer the team right. As a player he was worth 13 wins, so we’re not talking about a below-replacement guy here. We need spice with a little dark side. How about Mexas Ranger, a chili-chocolate stout from Mikkeler that tastes like a spicy Mexican hot chocolate? No, Guillen is not Mexican, but the beer fits, and is worth one BAR in a good season.
LF: Roberto Clemente
He never stole more than 12 bags, nor did he hit 30 homers, and he didn’t play a lot of center field, but Roberto Clemente was one of those perfect all-around players. He made good contact, could take a walk, had power, great defense, was great-looking, and helped people to boot. But he was taken from us too early. So he’s Pliny the Younger, a beer only available on tap in Norther California, another rare bird that’s not long lasting and top-shelf. Nine beer wins from our left fielder.
CF: Tsyuoshi Shinjo
Pizzazz! Orange wrist bands! Floppy hair! Millions of fans! Three wins and not even 1000 plate appearances spread over three seasons! He’s like a strange glimpse of a bizarre beer that some people just love, and others dismiss as too flashy. How about Rogue Ale’s Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale, made with the help of that infamous doughnut shop in Portland? It’s a very interesting beer, and it comes in a pink bottle! BeerGraphs has it down for minus 7.5 BAR, but, come on, the bottle/wristband have to be worth something in flair alone.
RF: Carlos Beltran
At some point, even any good NotGraphantasy manger wants to win. And how better to win that the modern glimpse of perfection that a peak Carlos Beltran offered us? From 2003 to 2008, Beltran used power, patience, speed and defense to average close to six wins a year. That basically makes him the Nugget Nectar of this team: sweet, hoppy, bubbly (though not always friendly) and worth 6.75 BAR as the 15th-best overall beer in the BeerGraphs Top 100.
DH: Barry Bonds
That itch to win landed us the mercurial earring-ed one. If anyone could keep him in check — other than Jeff Kent — it’s got to be Ozzie Guillen, no? Imagine the banter. And Bonds? He’s smooth but violent, graceful but in your face, and perhaps the best player of all time. Call him the Heady Topper and give him 11 beer wins.
SP: Matt Harvey
Pitching is about youth. And Harvey’s name is besmirched by Old Harvey running out there with an 89-mph fastball and a new cutter he developed when he turned 35. No, all we know is this exciting young man with all the gas and wicked, biting stuff. Let him stay that way. Let him forever be Nebuchadnezzar, a five-beer-win Double IPA brewed by Omnipollo in Sweden, a young brewery established in 2010 to “change the perception of beer forever.” Ah, youthful ambition.
SP: R.A. Dickey
Dickey has been around forever, but has fallen in and out of vogue. As a knuckleball darts and dives, so goes his master’s career. At the very least, we know we have an innings-eater who can go out there with torn, missing ligaments and broken bits in his back. Perhaps he’s like Pinkus Organic Ur-Pils, a one-win beer unfiltered pilsner that’s got hipster aspects and yet is part of a forgotten style that’s hit the backburners.
RP: Rick Vaughn
We weren’t going to spend a high pick on a useless position, so we thought we might as well have a useless actor play the part. At least it was his greatest role, and one of his better efforts. And Rick Vaughn could Mitch Williams. And since they are so easily spotted, maybe they are like that blue-bottled brohemoth Bud Light Platinum. A -3 BAR beer, and likely a below-replacement level closer. A match made in heaven.
Exec: Branch Rickey
The first. The very first. The father of saber. The breaker-downer of divisions. The Blind Pig of baseball — the first American IPA, brewed the way we know them to be now. The grandfather of it all. “Only” worth 3.3 BAR, but how much credit can you give an exec for on-the-field play in any given year, anyway? Even if they might have created wOBA.
And finally, get this rag-tag group and make them mellow out and remember their roots. This tiny field in the Maracay gave Miguel Cabrera and Ozzie Guillen their starts, along with many other Venezuelan greats. It’s good enough for this team to dominate (Clemente is drooling about that right-field line), and with a replacement-level Corona Familiar in your had as you watch the game on this field, you might notice it’s pretty good. Looks like a 75+ win team, and if a few old guys pull some tricks out of a hat, they could get in there for the second wild card.
Any team with Barry has a chance.
With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.