I may have gone too in depth, but TooMuchTuma has been on bed rest for a month now due to knee surgery. So when Backyard Baseball had its 20th anniversary last week, I got an itch to load up what is probably the best computer game of all time (honorary mention Roller Coaster Tycoon). After playing around for a bit I had some thoughts to share. These rankings are just the boys. Had I added in the girls then the blog would've been way too long. I'll get to the girls soon. All rankings are based on Backyard Baseball 2001.
15. Ronny "Spud" Dobbs
The best thing you can say about Ronny Dobbs is that his strike zone is tiny AF, making him an on base machine. The kid also has surprising pop with 7/10 baseballs in his batting stat. Ronny's fielding stat is a little misleading. He low key has one of the best arms in the game but is absolutely, horribly atrocious at catching. Throwing the ball with some zip on it doesn't do much good if the only reason he is throwing that ball is because he dropped it. Ronny isn't a terrible pitcher but there are players that contribute in other areas with similar pitching skills. If you pair him with his sister Sally (hands down the most underappreciated player in the BB universe) Ronny becomes even worse.
14. Ricky "Fella" Johnson
God bless Ricky Johnson's heart. He's a little shy and for all intent at purposes seems like a good kid. But a 1/10 rating for your batting? I'm sorry that's pathetic. It's just tough to overcome that absolute NOTHING of a bat in your lineup. Sure he's fast, and you'll see later on in this writing that speed should be greatly valued in this game, but that's his only real plus attribute. There's a cardinal rule in youth sports that if the first thing you say about an athlete is they're a good kid, it means they suck. Sorry "Fella".
13. Reese "Big Toe" Worthington
I'll be honest. Something about this kid rubs me the wrong way. Reese's stats are better than some of the players ahead of him on this list, but Backyard Baseball isn't a game won on stat sheets. Character, competitiveness, ability to overcome adversity, all that matters. Meanwhile Reese Worthington can't even hold the fucking bat correctly! EVERY TIME he comes up he's holding the damn thing upside down. Just unbelievable this kid didn't have the resolve to work on that. Sure, he has some speed but he doesn't do much else to help you win a championship. A valuable roster spot could be better used elsewhere.
12. Dmitri "Paste" Petrovich
Everybody knows that if Dmitri Petrovich gets a hold of one he can DRIVE the ball. Power is critical in the game, and this kid has it. When he's not hitting at an above average clip Dmitri can help your team with his advanced sabermetric thoughts. He also provided great comic relief with his mismatched socks and "jump swing", which is actually crazy impressive when you think about it. Not even Pablo can jump while swinging and get a hit. If all this wasn't enough Dmitri's birthday is 6/9. Legend. Ultimately "Paste" was much more valuable in Backyard Football where he functioned as an elite O-lineman/kicker.
11. Jorge "Bonkers" Garcia
Dmitri versus Jorge was a tough one for me. If you go by the eye test they both have flaws. Dimitri jumps when he swings but Jorge has may have the actual, LITERAL worst swing of all time.
Holy shit that is painful to watch. Plus the square is wearing a tie while playing baseball. I thought Dmitri was better originally, but Jorge's stats make up for his swing (and his refusal to get dirty). He has 8/10 for his batting stat and like I said power is key in this game.
10. Marky "Cootie" Dubois
I got a soft spot in my heart for Marky. I mean just look at that face. What a guy. First of all, Marky would be better if he actually wore shoes while playing, but since he doesn't his bat and speed are useless. He's fun to pitch with since he dabs after every pitch, and he's also reliable in the field. This is shocking news to find out, but Marky actually has a bae in this game and that's Billy Jean Blackwood.
Makes sense I guess. His stats see a massive upgrade if paired with her.
9. Tony "Vec" Delvecchio
Forget about the stats for a minute. Tony D makes your team cooler. He just does. All the girls wanna date him and all the guys wanna be him. Tony always plays with a lollipop in his mouth, which is the PG version of railing cigs while playing men's slow pitch softball. All that being said, Tony wasn't half bad. He has respectable power and one of the strongest fielding arms in the game, meaning he can play nearly any position. Personally I like throwing him at the hot corner, but his arm also makes him a good outfielder is you can get past his lack of hustle (too cool to hustle obviously).
Pro tip: If Angela is on the opposing team Tony gets one of the best stat boosts around. If you ever play "single game" (but idk why you wouldn't be playing season mode) wait for Angela to get picked and then snag Tony D. 9 batting 9 running 7 pitching 10 fielding.
8. Ernie "Funnybones" Steele
I...don't have a lot to say about Ernie Steele. What jumps out at you when reading his player card is his 10/10 fielding, but without speed his fielding is probably overvalued. The best place to play Ernie is at first base, where he becomes the Doug Mientkwiwhzijzwekrics of the backyard kids. Ernie is tall enough to lock down first, and he's a fine relief pitcher, but his lack of speed and power make him an offensive liability. Typically a draft pick is better spent elsewhere. Unless of course you are playing at Steele Stadium, where Ernie receives enough of a stat boost to make him worthy of a 5-6 hitter to go along with his plus D.
7. Kenny "K-Man" Kawaguchi
Kenny is the man. Just a chill, laid back kid who improves the clubhouse chemistry of every team he plays for. Kenny can't hit for a lick of power, consistently struggling to get the ball out of the infield. However, his wheels (sorry) always give him a chance to beat the throw. Speed is essential in the Backyard universe, plus Kenny is an underrated pitcher. He is known to have the best stamina in the game, which gives your bullpen a rest every time he is on the hill. Nearly every season long team I make features "K-Man".
6. Dante "Stretch" Robinson
Say it with me everybody...SPEED IS ESSENTIAL. Everybody knows Pete Wheeler is the best leadoff hitter of the backyard kids. Additionally, it's common knowledge that Dante Robinson is next in line. He's nearly as fast as Pete, and has no problem stealing second and third on consecutive pitches. Dante also has a decent arm, which combined with his speed makes him an above average outfielder. Where he struggles is with catching. This kid is too short to catch every fly ball hit to him. He's flawed in that sense, but speed is too vital in BB01 to care about a dropped fly ball here and there.
5. Amir "Sticks" Khan
If I needed someone to come in for a three-out save, I'd want Pablo on the hill. If I needed a starter to go a full six innings, give me Kenny Kawaguchi. But Amir Khan is a cross between these extremes. He has better "stuff" than Kenny but with less stamina. He's a better SP than Pablo but without as good of pitches. He's probably the second best all around pitcher after Angela Delvecchio. Depends how you feel about Luanne Lui. Amir's fielding is meh but if you place him at pitcher who cares. Amir also has a solid line drive swing with a bit of pop. Obviously, Amir becomes a fucking superstar when paired with Achmed.
4. Mikey "Nugget" Thomas
Mikey Thomas dropped BOMBS. "Nugget" has so much raw power there's an urban legend he once hit a homer out of Tin Can Alley....WITHOUT ALUMINUM POWER. There's no doubt about it, he's the best lefty power hitter among the backyard kids. He was born to be a DH if Backyard Baseball (much like the National League) wasn't living in the damn Stone Age and letting pitchers hit. Ah who am I kidding, a DH would take away too much charm from Backyard Baseball. Still, that means Mikey has to played the field somewhere, and there aren't many good places to hide his lack of speed. He's got a strong arm but (again) that lack of speed makes it a tough decision where to put him in the field. Overall if you can limit the runny noses than Mikey's bat is a game changer.
3. Achmed "Axeman" Khan
I struggled mightily between Achmed and Petey for the #2 spot, but Pete's speed is ultimately too much of a game changer. Still, I think it's much closer than people think, which makes Achmed a tad underrated.
EDIT: I wrote that before posting a poll on Twitter, and the Achmed supporters were adamant that he was better than Pete. So maybe Achmed isn't that underrated.
In addition to rocking beats bye Dre before the things were even invented, Achmed is the second best power hitter in the game behind Pablo. If he has an open stance and gets an inside pitch then see ya. That shit is gone. However, Achmed's game starts and ends with his bat. He's best served being hidden in a corner outfield spot or at second base, and ultimately he doesn't impact the game in as many ways as Petey does. It's worth noting Achmed has the best walk-up music of all the backyard kids.
2. Pete "Wheelie" Wheeler
Pete Wheeler is up there with Rickey Henderson and Ichiro when it comes to the best leadoff hitters of all time. Speed, underrated power, and more speed make Petey the ideal bat to put at the top of your lineup. There was so much you could do with him. Bunt, steal second, steal third, get caught in a pickle where the computer's players run into each other and drop the ball, score, and BOOM just like that you're up 1-0. Next time through the order if there's runners on base he could swing for the fences, making him an annual 30/30 threat in season long play.
Defensively there were two spots to play him. I mostly leaned towards the outfield, again because he could cover so much range with that speed. Then there was catcher where he completely neutralized your opponent's bunt/weak grounder game. Petey was a cat behind the plate and could pounce on any small ball attempt the computer tried.
1. Pablo "Secret Weapon" Sanchez
The short list of unstoppable video game characters includes Bo Jackson, Super Mario with the invincibility star, and...Pablo. My goodness this kid could hit. There were zero holes in his swing, and he could hit for power to both left and right field. His worst attribute was pitching, with only 5/10 baseballs. But I think that was just the game developers not wanting him to appear too OP. Anyone who used Pablo at pitcher knows he was better than his rating.
Personally I used him mostly at third base, since his high fielding rating allowed him to make that tough throw from third to first. Plus I didn't want him to run out of "juice" by using too many specialty pitches and have it affect his hitting. As for where to bat him...today's advanced analytics would tell us to hit our best bat second. However 7 year old Tuma didn't know anything outside of Backyard sports and Pokemon, so Pablo hit third for me. As a kid, there was nothing better than hearing his legendary home run music after launching one with the GOAT.