In what can only be a sign of good things to come, the Salmon League Baseball message board over at Yahoo! absolutely blew up this week.
Trash talk is coming from all angles, one of the newbies showed a little bravado and, well, everyone who usually won’t shut up won’t shut up. As is often the case there wasn’t so much as a blip on the proverbial radar from the likes of Morgan, Craiggers, John, Jay or SLB newcomer, Zac.
One topic that I found particularly intriguing, however, was kicked into high-gear when Steven—coming off his first season of fantasy baseball relevance since 2006—mentioned the following fact:
“Since the development of the Salmon League’s head-to-head format, a Kunkel has been in the Championship game 5 out of 6 years.”
Steven was, of course, correct as you can see by taking a quick peek at all six of the SLB Championship Game matchups that have taken place since the league moved to the head-to-head format.
2005: Justin defeats Jeremiah
2006: Steven defeats Jeremiah
2007: Mike defeats Craiggers
2008: Jay defeats Paulsen
2009: Travis defeats Mike
2010: Henning defeats Steven
You’ll note that only a few names show up multiple times, but that’s a point we’ll hit on later.
What I want to get at next is the one line from Steven’s post that really stuck in my craw.
He wrapped up his little history lesson with just a bit more braggadocio than I was willing to let pass:
“This type of clear dominance by a family is shocking and cruel to all other participants.
I wonder which Kunkel will make the Championship this year?”
Mike followed up that comment as only Mike can.
He first made it seem as though he was going to use basic logic to cut the legs out from under Steven’s original assertion and—although he technically did do so—then he came back around and backed Steven’s original claim regarding the Kunkel dominance.
“It should probably be noted that since there are 4 Kunkels in the salmon league it isn’t really that hard to believe that we might be disproportionally represented in the championship game. Granted considering that the Kunkels do have 7 of the 11 total trophies at this point it should be noted that the Graves family has none and the Morfitt family only has one. Just shows the family zeal for the sport. Plus a casual disinterest from the other members in years past. really the salmon league didn’t actually start until head to head format began. and we have been in that game alot haven’t we!“
Given my inability to handle this much ego, I’m now forced to prove that these tales of Kunkel dominance are nothing more than a myth.
I’ll be using the two families that were drug into the equation by Mike, the Graves and Morfitts.
First things first, let’s focus on Steven’s original statement regarding appearances in a championship game.
I could simplify the entirety of this rant with the old axiom “the playoffs are a crapshoot and based more on luck than skill,” but that would really take the wind outta my sails and would require far fewer graphics.
As such, we’ll move forward with historical analysis.
It’s easy to run roughshod on a league and appear in the playoffs every year when anywhere from 50% to 75% of the league has qualified for postseason player, after getting into the big dance, the aforementioned axiom is once again in effect.
Here’s the percentage of the league that has been occupied by Kunkels since the move to H2H in 2005:
Dominance is always a tad easier in numbers, although it is amusing to note that in 2005, when 50% of the league was occupied by Kunkels and only two teams didn’t make the playoffs, only Justin finished with a winning record en route to winning his second consecutive SLB Championship.
The Kunkels as a whole finished the 2005 season with a paltry .482 winning percentage. The Graves boys, whom the Kunkels supposedly lord over, finished with a slightly more impressive .539 winning percentage on the year.
We’re not here to focus on a single year, however, because the point we’re focusing on today is which family—Kunkel/Graves/Morfitt—is the most dominant of all-time.
One way to figure the level of dominance is by looking at individual achievements in the H2H-era.
Steven mentioned championship game appearances, Mike mentioned total trophies and I’ll mention the one sign of success that is a greater tell-all of a team’s dominance than any other, regular season championships.
Winning in the playoffs always reverts back to the axiom. Winning in the regular season proves season-long dominance and incredible acumen to be at the top of the heap when the regular season comes to a close.
The Kunkels have won three of the six trophies awarded during the H2H-era, all the while serving as 40% of the league. There’s no discrediting the fact that they lay claim to 50% of the H2H-era championships, but in that same time the Kunkels have claimed just one regular season pennant (Steven – 2010), the Morfitts (Travis – 2008) have claimed one and the Graves boys (Me – 2005/2006/2007/2009) have notched four of ‘em.
In fact, in the entirety of the H2H format, the Kunkels have entered the playoffs as a top one or two seed just a scant three times. Steven entered as a two-seed in 2006 before winning the whole thing and entered as the number one seed last season before falling to Adam in the championship game. The only other Kunkel finish in the top two belongs to Mike, also last year when he slipped from the top spot into the two-seed late in the season.
The Morfitt clan—in four years in the league—has qualified for the playoffs three times once each as a one, two and three-seed. Grant’s seventh place finish in the regular season last year tarnished the Morfitt streak of never missing the playoffs, although it should be noted that Grant was edged out by a mere half-game from making it into the big dance as a six-seed.
Rather than dwell on words, let’s get a graphic up to show everyone’s average regular season finishes.
Obviously I lead the pack in a rather large way followed by Travis, Mike, Justin, Steven, G-Doggy, Grant and John.
I narrowly nudge Travis for the all-time individual lead by an average finish of 1.8 to 2.0.
The family rankings, however, are as follows:
Morfitt = 3.25
Graves = 4.30
Kunkel = 6.14
Knowing that we’re likely to hear some “John doesn’t count scenarios,” here is the Kunkel average finish without John included: 5.05, still soundly in last place.
It only makes sense that we look at the flipside of the coin and compare each family’s postseason average finish as well, this figures to bode well for a Kunkel clan that claims to dominate, especially given their abundance of postseason hardware.
Once again, I lead the pack followed by Travis, Mike, Justin, Steven, Johnny, G-Doggy and Grant. Just like in the regular season, I narrowly edged out Travis by an average postseason finish of 2.67 to 3.00.
If nothing else, this is showing that Travis had a pretty damned impressive three-year run.
The family rankings are as follows:
Morfitt = 4.75
Graves = 5.44
Kunkel = 5.53
Yet again the dominant Kunkel clan comes in last.
Thus far we’ve taken a look at the accomplishments, regular season average finishes and postseason average finishes.
Let’s go ahead and take a peek at the overall winning percentages. If anything is going to give us a clear view of “dominance,” this ought to do the trick. Dominant teams win, right?!
Yet again, I lead by a fairly comfortable margin. The Morfitt numbers are inflated by Travis’ impressive .548 winning percentage (which I matched blow-for-blow) from 2007-2009.
The family averages are:
Morfitt = .533
Graves = .512
Kunkel = .487
Yet again, the dominant Kunkels finish in dead last and under .500 as well.
We’ll take John out of the equation given that last year was historically bad and the other Kunkels finish with a .506 winning percentage, still good enough for third place in this three-way battle.
The Kunkels, however, still claim that their dominance is born from the postseason.
Well let’s take a quick look at the postseason to see just how dominant the Kunkels have been. The following chart shows each team’s score differential in the history of the H2H playoffs and consolation playoffs. Obviously one big blowout loss could skew these numbers, but we’re talking about the super dominant Kunkel brothers here, I’m sure there will be ZERO issues with their scores here.
Wow. Simply wow.
Is there anyone out there who would have expected that G-Doggy would be the guy who lays the smack down the hardest in the playoffs?
So the Kunkels dominate, but do they dominate more than the Graves or Morfitts? Let’s look at the average +/- score differential for each family.
Graves = +9.5
Morfitt = -6
Kunkel = -8
In a fun change of pace, I’m dragging G-Doggy down this time, but it’s still more than enough to quite handedly give this round to the Graves boys.
Now call me crazy, but I’m having a really, really hard time seeing where the Kunkels dominate in any aspect of this league beyond ego and running-their-damn-mouths.
It seems pretty evident that the Graves or Morfitt clans have put up much better numbers. The knock on the Morfitt run of dominance is that it is all largely on the shoulders of Travis and his three-year run reign of terror over everyone (except me, that is).
Over the long haul, I’d say the numbers certainly skew in the favor of the Graves boys, again, with much of the heavy lifting being done by one brother over another, but still the numbers don’t lie.
The Kunkels have won three of six trophies in the H2H-era while accounting for roughly 40% of the league. It’s impressive, but it sure as hell ain’t dominant.
If anything, it shows that the Kunkels have been the luckiest team in the Salmon League, doubly so come playoff time.