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1961 Yankees – 1970 Orioles-1977 Phillies Auction

The 1961 Yankees were by any definition one of the greatest teams in baseball history, they won 109 games, easily beat the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series 4 games to 1, and hit a record 240 home runs (to show how baseball has changed since then, there are now 30 teams that have hit more home runs in a season than the ’61 Yankees, all after 1995, led by the 2019 Twins who hit a whopping 307 HRs!). The ’61 team will of course be remembered for the epic battle between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris to eclipse the revered single season HR record held by Babe Ruth. Eventually Roger Maris would break the record in dramatic fashion by hitting HR number 61 on the final day of the season.

In 1961 the American League expanded for the first time in it’s 61 year history, they added two teams, which watered down the pitching, that undoubtedly aided the home run surge, they also added 8 games to the schedule, which created controversy regarding the legitimacy of the Maris record. Initially commissioner Ford Frick assigned an “asterisk” to the record (disavowing mention of Maris as the record holder) – since he did not accomplish the feat in 154 games. Eventually, in 1991, commissioner Fay Vincent removed “the asterisk” and gave Maris credit for his historic accomplishment. It will be interesting to see the prices paid at the auction for the M&M boys, and if their simulation HR totals come close their actual 1961 numbers.

The 1970 Baltimore Orioles were another super team, they were on a mission, looking to avenge their embarrassing loss to the New York Mets in the 1969 World Series. In 1970 they led all teams with a 3.15 ERA and were 5th in OPS (.745) on their way to winning 108 games in the regular season and dominating in the post season, scoring 60 runs in eight games, culminating in a World Series victory against the Cincinnati Reds, 4 games to 1. Boog Powell and Frank Robinson led the way in the hitting department.

On the pitching side, they were led by the big 3 – Palmer, McNally and Cuellar – as a group, they averaged 300 innings and each won 20 or more games – considering the way baseball has evolved, I doubt we will ever see either of those accomplishments ever again!

Back when I was still a New York Mets fan, there were certain players on other teams that I enjoyed watching and hoped that someday, somehow, they would land on my team – three of those players were Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski and Steve Carlton- together they powered the 1977 Phillies to the NL East Division Title.

Luzinski was my vision of what a prototypical power hitter should look like, 6-1 & 220 lb of muscle – his nickname, “The Bull” was very apropos. Mike Schmidt on the other hand was all about style, he had one of the smoothest right handed swings I’ve ever seen. Steve Carlton was smooth too, that classic high leg kick hid the baseball, and before the hitter knew what happened, he’s swinging at a slider in the dirt and shaking his head on the long walk back to the dugout.


No surprise – ’61 Mickey Mantle was the 1st player on the auction block, GM Derek Bain wastes no time in making sure Mantle will be hitting home runs for his team by paying $43 for Mickey. He follows that up with the purchase of another top hitter, ’77 Mike Schmidt for a profitable $35. Derek also pays attention to his pitching by acquiring almost 600 quality innings (’61 Whitey Ford & ’70 Dave McNally) for a combined $59.

GM Andy Palomino follows a similar approach with pitching by purchasing ’77 Steve Carlton ($35) and ’70 Mike Cuellar ($29) – he supports the pitching with the purchase of ’70 Frank Robinson & ’70 Boogs Powell for $25 and $29 respectively.

GM Steve Andrusko does not want to left out in the cold when it comes to quality innings, so he secures the services of Jim Palmer for $35 with the 6th purchase of the auction. After Mantle was off the board, you knew ’61 Roger Maris wouldn’t last long, and sure enough GM Andrusko snags him with purchase #13 at a cost of $39. Steve also acquires ’77 Greg Luzinski for $29 with purchase #21.

I was targeting Luzinski, but having already purchased Frank Robinson earlier, I couldn’t afford Luzinski – that’s one of the challenges of the auction, do you look for and wait for profit, buying players when that profit opportunity presents itself, or do you target the players you want based on a specific strategy, even if you have to pay a little extra?

Auction Analysis & World Series Results:

GM Andrusko spent the most on pitching $124, and did leave the auction with the best ERA (3.09), but he could have used more hitting, after the ’61 Maris and ’77 Luzinski purchases, he was only able to add one additional full time hitter with an OPS over .800. After GM Bain’s initial purchase of ’61 Ford & ’70 McNally, he might have waited too long to purchase additional pitching, resulting in an overpay of inferior pitching towards the end of the auction (e.g paying $11 for ’61 Bud Daley, when he was probably valued closer to $6). GM Palomino spent the most on hitting ($152) and left the auction with the best OPS, the $108 spent on pitching was enough to secure the 2nd best ERA(3.41) – this mix of the best hitting with the 2nd best pitching proved to be the winning formula for this particular auction and led to a World Series sweep. Note how I emphasized “this particular auction” because the winning formula can change significantly based on the teams in the auction. Below are the World Series results:

TeamSeason #1Season #2Season #3Season #4Average Wins

MVP – There were some excellent hitting performances, but the award has to go to Mickey Mantle. The Mick led the simulation in OBP (.438) and OPS (1.012) and was 3rd in Home Runs with 42. Runner-Up – Elston Howard (.986 OPS) – Honorable MentionRoger Maris – WOW – 61 real life Home Runs, 60 Home Runs in the simulation!

CY YOUNG – Mike Cuellar was stellar, he led the simulation in innings pitched (311), and wins (25) and he was 3rd in ERA (2.92). Runner-up – Dave McNally (led in ERA 2.77)

Here are the Top 5 Hitters & Pitchers – click HERE to view or download the full statistical results:


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