The Ultimate Backyard Baseball Starting Lineup
The voices of Sunny Day and Vinny the Gooch have likely echoed down the hallways of your house since you were in third grade. Whether you played at Playground Commons or Sandy Flats, drafted future MLB stars or the kids from around the block, you felt like the smartest coach around. Other than Ken Griffey and Frank Thomas, with the occasional Phil Nevin, I tended to draft only Backyard kids. Well, now it’s 12 years later and I’m a bored college student. If I were an actual coach and got to write a lineup every day, here’s how I’d send out everyone’s favorite backyard ballplayers:
(Statistics are based on a maximum 32 game season set by BYBB. This list includes 14 roster spots: 8 position players, 3 starting pitchers, a DH, and 2 subs).
1. Pete “Wheelie” Wheeler, CF
I promise, there was no name bias when choosing Pete. With an above average bat and a knack for stealing bases, Wheeler is an obvious choice for a leadoff man. Where he lacks in baseball IQ, he makes up for it in raw speed. “If Pete Wheeler wasn’t your leadoff hitter you didn’t deserve to play. Fact.” – Sean Carney, TCT Writer .
Projected line: .284 BA, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 55 SB
2. Kiesha “Flash” Phillips, RF
Let’s be honest, as kids we were all intimidated by Kiesha when we would face her in BYBB. If it weren’t for Pablo Sanchez, Kiesha would likely be the best player in the game… #MVPhillips. Not only can she be relied on for a high On-Base-Percentage (OBP%), she poses a threatening 1-2 punch of speed at the top of the lineup with Wheeler.
Projected line: .313 BA, 15 HR, 33 RBI, 25 SB
3. Pablo “Secret Weapon” Sanchez, C
What do you get when you combine the speed and talent of Mike Trout, the power of Hank Aaron, the glove of Ozzie Smith, and the cannon of Mariano Rivera? A 4’3 Latino kid who is arguably the greatest Backyard athlete of all time. Pablo can do it all, and it’s just a bonus that he can be counted on for relief situations if Delvecchio’s arm is tired. Your best hitter always bats third, and Pablo isn’t only the best, but he is #bae.
Projected line: .712 BA, 40 HR, 92 RBI, 45 SB
4. Jocinda “MVP” Smith, LF, Co-Captain
Talk about a clubhouse presence. While her speed may leave much to be desired, she’s a solid fielder who can play all three OF positions. Her bat is phenomenal, and should compete for for the Triple Crown every year, losing only to her teammate, the Secret Weapon.
Projected line: .548 BA, 33 HR, 78 RBI, 6 SB
5. Annie “Flipper” Frazier, DH
Traditionally, the Backyard leagues don’t use a DH, but I’m a big fan of how Frazier handles the bat. She’s got quite a bit of pop, but definitely doesn’t hit for average. She’s a gal who would be available to sub for either Vicki or Ernie at the corner infield spots when they need a day off, plus she’s got great plate protection behind Smith and ahead of the Axeman.
Projected line: .267 BA, 17 HR, 41 RBI, 8 SB
6. Achmed “Axeman” Khan, 2B
Achmed is a key cog in any Backyard lineup. Not only is his bat tremendous, but he’s the best clubhouse DJ in the league. He may not be the best defensive second baseman, but you just can’t leave that bat out of the lineup. #GetAxed.
Projected line: .421 BA, 22 HR, 56 RBI, 12 SB
7. Stephanie “Bubbles” Morgan, SS, Co-Captain
Having been scouted since the age of 1.5, Stephanie is a natural. She rarely makes an error at short, and is always available in long relief as a pitcher. She works hard for her average, and while she may slump in the batter’s box now and again, she always works her way out of it. Along with Jocinda, she’s a great clubhouse leader and co-captain.
Projected line: .265 BA, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 15 SB
8. Ernie “Funnybones” Steele, 1B
Ernie is a goof. Like me, few laugh at his jokes, but he still cracks them anyway. He’s the chill guy at the end of the bench, but by far the best defensive first baseman in the game. He’s an average hitter, providing a little pop at the back end of the lineup.
Projected line: .242 BA, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 4 SB
9. Vicki “Swan” Kawaguchi, 3B
Third base was the hardest decision in the lineup. Vicki was stacked up against the likes of Sally Dobbs, Tony Delvecchio, and Dmitri Petrovich. Vicki reminds me a lot of myself as a 2006 Little League All-Star: all glove, and no bat. She may hit a bomb here and there, but she’s a pretty below-average hitter. She’ll go on to lead the Backyard kids in walks and stolen bases in her career. Her glove though? Makes men cry. She’s a vacuum over at third, and will end her career as the Backyard player with the most Gold Gloves.
Projected line: .189 BA, 4 HR, 4 RBI, 96 SB
SP – Angela “Sugar Pop” Delvecchio
If Angela doesn’t get the ball to toss Opening Day, did you even play this game? She’s got a NASTY slo-mo pitch, but her left and right hooks are her go-to pitches for strikeouts. She easily rivals MLB star Randy Johnson for the best young arm in the game. Someday, she’ll be the first woman to play in the Show.
Projected line: 11-0, 0.22 ERA, 73 SO, 0 BB
SP – Amir “Sticks” Khan
His bio may list him as a reliever, but Amir is a guy you need in your starting rotation. He’s got a great fastball, and isn’t afraid to back hitters out of the box with an inside heater. He may not be able to go the distance very often, but you can get a solid five innings out of him. He tends to be erratic, but always gets great run support. Amir always pitches better when his brother Achmed is behind him at 2B.
Projected line: 11-0, 4.84 ERA, 14 SO, 53 BB
SP – Luanne “Lulu” Lui
How impressive is it that Luanne can play an entire season holding her teddy bear? Not as impressive as her “Fireball” which always takes less out of the pitching juice box than you think it might. Bunts? Forget about them. Luanne can track just about any ball down in the infield from the pitching mound with her wheels.
Projected line: 10-0 (Let’s be honest, you’re not going to lose a BYBB game ever), 2.79 ERA, 30 SO, 30 BB
Mikey “Nugget” Thomas, C
Mikey has made scouts scratch their heads for years. He’s got an absolute cannon for an arm and has the bat of a steroid-pumped Mike Piazza. He can’t run much, but should make a stellar backup catcher. Only downside? He cries when he strikes out. There’s no crying in baseball, unless Pablo Sanchez is on the other team. Then you cry yourself to sleep constantly.
Projected line: .400, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB
Sally “The Boss” Dobbs, INF
Sally is the kid who takes over when you get thrown out for arguing with the non-existent umpire. She’s a solid leader, but also rides her bike to the ballpark, because she’s that legit. She’s above average in every skill, especially in post-game block parties.
Projected line: .231 BA, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 9 SB
Dante “Stretch” Robinson, OF
And the Backyard Awards for “Most Popcorn Consumed” and “Best Hair” go to… Stretch! This kid has some serious speed and often challenges Pete for his spot in center. It was hard to leave this guy out of the lineup, but the bat just isn’t there. He’s a guy you want coming in the last few innings as a defensive sub… but also if you need a mid-game snack.
Well, that’s my lineup. What’s yours? Drop me a comment below.
*All photos used are from the “Cespedes Family BBQ” blog. The College Tailgate does not own any of the photos on our website.