Skip to main content
  • Adelaide Bite
  • Auckland Tuatara
  • Brisbane Bandits
  • Canberra Cavalry
  • Geelong-Korea
  • Melbourne Aces
  • Perth Heat
  • Sydney Blue Sox
Below is an advertisement.
Perth Turn Up the HEAT in Repeat Attempt
10/28/2011 12:59 PM ET
 (SMP Images/ Theron Kirkman)
The hunt for a championship is the foundation of competition. From the earliest battlefields of war, history has always been written by the victor. The greatest champions are insatiable, never resting for a moment, but rather striving to win again and again. To repeat is perhaps the hardest task in all of sport.

In the biggest move of the ABL off-season, the defending champion "Alcohol Think Again" Perth HEAT signed reigning Helms Award winner Jamie McOwen away from the Adelaide Bite, last year's runner-up. The move stands to have major repercussions for the league's balance of power, as McOwen led the ABL with 11 home runs and 30 RBI last season, while hitting for a .340 batting average, good for third in the league.

However, anyone prepared to just hand the HEAT their second straight Claxton Shield must remember there is still a full season's worth of games to be played, and evidence from baseball history suggests that making major roster changes is not always the surest path to a repeat championship. Are the HEAT a safe bet to win their second straight title, or shall we prepare to award the trophy to a new champion in 2011? Perhaps a look at Major League Baseball's history will offer a hint.

Dating back to 1972, there have been six instances of repeat champions in MLB. The Oakland Athletics won the World Series for three consecutive years, from 1972-74, the Cincinnati Reds in '75 and '76, the '77-78 New York Yankees, '92-93 Toronto Blue Jays, and 1998-2000 Yankees. A look at the offseason roster changes from each of these teams shows that stability was more common than major flux. The Reds, in fact, started the same eight position players in each of their championship seasons.

The only one of these repeat champions to add MVP-caliber players for their second go-around were the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays. The '93 Jays replaced one future Hall of Famer with another when they let Dave Winfield (.290/26/108 in '92) leave and signed Paul Molitor to take his place. Molitor would go on to hit .332 with 22 home runs and 111 RBI, finishing second in MVP voting. Toronto also made a major mid-season acquisition, trading for another future Hall of Famer in Rickey Henderson. Although Henderson struggled in his 44 regular season games with the team, batting just .215, he scored 10 runs in 12 postseason games to help them to a second title.

Taking another angle, the last MVP from Major League Baseball to switch teams the season following winning the award was Barry Bonds, back in 1993. He had won the award with the Pirates in '92, his second Most Valuable Player award as a member of the Pittsburgh team, and in '93 actually repeated as Most Valuable Player after joining the Giants. He also helped his new team improve to 103 wins following a 72-win season the year before. They narrowly missed the playoffs, however, in a tightly contested race, and although Bonds would win four more MVP awards in 15 seasons with the Giants, he would never hoist the championship trophy.

In summation, the only thing to be concluded from this signing is that 2011 will be an exciting season in the ABL. Only time will tell if the HEAT and their new star player will duplicate last year's success or whether a new champion will rise up in the standings, as other teams are looking particularly strong, as well. The Sydney Blue Sox, who finished last regular season with the league's best record, and the 2010 runner-up Adelaide Bite should also be considered strong contenders, and every team in the league has added major talent. This season will surely come down to the final games, so stay tuned to see what drama ensues.

This story was not subject to the approval of the Australian Baseball League or its clubs.