More Deane Gems from '03
More than one SABR-L
poster has recently described Jack Morris as the dominant pitcher of
the 1980s. Unless you are looking strictly at win
totals, there is no basis for that description.
Others have already
made the statistical arguments. Pete Ridges noted that Morris's
ERA and team runs scored project to a 230-210 record,
instead of the 254-186 he wound up with. Some will offer
this as evidence of Jack's "clutch pitching," but I think that Pete
Palmer's work (see "Do
Clutch Pitchers Exist" in the Spring 1985 NATIONAL PASTIME) has
proven that such a result is due to random chance.
Incidentally, as I've
said before, Morris's career record is the sum of Ron Guidry's (170-91)
and Jim Deshaies's (84-95). And, if Jack were to
make it to Cooperstown, he would become the only Hall of Fame
pitcher who NEVER had an ERA under three.
The real measure of
dominance, I think, would be found in Cy Young Award voting. But
Morris never finished higher than a distant third in the
balloting. He earned a lifetime total of 0.74 Cy Young Award
shares, which places him behind the likes of LaMarr Hoyt.
Some have remarked on
the dearth of good starting pitchers who debuted in the late 1970s and
early '80s. I think a factor in that
phenomena was the escalating salaries of that period. Prior
to that time, the very best pitchers might earn a million dollars in
their entire careers;
by 1980 Nolan Ryan was making a million a year. Pitchers in
their mid-30s, who normally might have hung up their toe-plates, had
new incentive to stay in condition -- why not go the extra yard and
make a decade's
worth of salary in a year? So the Ryans and Niekros and Suttons
and Kaats and Johns pitched well into their 40s, keeping prospects on
Bill Kirwin asked how
to write to former commissioner
Vincent. As far as I know, Francis "Fay" Vincent still sits on
the Hall of Fame's Board
of Directors, and can be written to in care of the Hall at P.O.
Box 590,Cooperstown, NY 13326.
BJ Ryan's pitchless win
As reported here last week, on May
1, 2003, Baltimore pitcher B. J. Ryan got credit for a win without
throwing a pitch. He entered the game
with two out in the seventh inning, Baltimore losing 2-1, and
Detroit rookie Omar Infante taking a big lead off first base.
Ryan promptly threw over to
first, and Infante was caught trying to advance to second, ending
the inning. The O's scored three runs in the top of the eighth to
take a 4-2
lead, then Buddy Groom took over Baltimore's pitching
chores. The Orioles held on to win, and Ryan was properly
credited with the pitching victory -
even though he hadn't pitched.
This helped exhume the
oft-told story that Nick Altrock was credited with a win without
throwing a pitch, under almost identical circumstances,
supposedly with the White Sox in 1906. This feat has been
described in many sources, including "Ripley's Believe it or Not," but
never have I seen it
documented. Prodded by Scott Flatow, I decided to take a
crack at it.
It's a hard task.
Record-keeping was very sloppy in the early part of the 20th century,
when Altrock did most of his pitching. No official
records survive for Nick's pre-1905 seasons, so we have to rely on
the quasi-official "ICI" records. The AL's official sheets for
composed in long-hand, difficult to read, especially a century
later. From 1905-07, the American League didn't bother recording
pitching lines on their
official sheets, just dates and wins or losses. There are
errors and discrepancies galore.
These are just
stumbling blocks for an obsessed researcher, however. Following are my
findings for each of the nine seasons Altrock is credited
with at least one victory:
1898, Louisville (NL) -
won 3 games, on July 21, August 15, and September 4, pitching at least
eight innings each time. He had no
appearances of less than one inning.
1903, Chicago (AL) -
won 5 games (TOTAL BASEBALL says 4), on July 16, August 4 and 20,
September 22 and 28. The first of these appearances was 1-2/3
innings, the rest were nine each. He had no appearances of less
than one inning.
1904, Chicago (AL) -
won 20 games (TOTAL BASEBALL says 19), on April 16 and 20, May 1, 23,
26, and 29, June 2, 15, 24, and 27, July 1, 9, 26, and 30, August 6,
10, 25, September 5 and 21, and October 9. The June 2 win was
5-2/3 innings, the rest were nine each. He had no appearances
with less than three innings.
1905, Chicago (AL) -
won 24 games (TOTAL BASEBALL says 23), on April 16 and 28, May 14, 19
and 26, June 7, 10 and 25, July 4, 6, 21 and 24, August 14, 22, 25 and
27, September 8, 14, 17, 20, 25 and 27, and October 7. He pitched 1
inning on June 10 and 1-1/3 on September 20; all the rest of the wins
were complete games. The official sheets say he also pitched and
won (with four fielding chances) on September 10, but he didn't;
perhaps that accounts for the revision of his win total.
1906, Chicago (AL) -
won 20 games, on April 20, 22, 26 and 29, May 24, June 16, 18, 20, 23
and 28, July 4 and 11, August 16, September 9, 12, 14, 16, 24 and 25,
and October 1. He pitched 5 innings on April 22, 4 on June 18, 7
on June 23, 7 or 8 on August 16, and 6 on September 25; the rest were
1907, Chicago (AL) -
won 8 games (TOTAL BASEBALL says 7), on April 18 and 24, May 2, 18, and
21, and September 4, 20 and 28. All were complete or
near-complete games; he had only one game with an assist as his only
fielding chance, but had two at bats in that game.
1908, Chicago (AL) -
won 3 games (TOTAL BASEBALL says 5), on July 7, 16 and 25; there is
also a handwritten note that says "6/7 win." Each of these four
was nine innings or more; he had no games with fewer than four opposing
1909, Washington (AL) -
won 1 game, on July 7 (9 innings), and had no games with fewer than
three opposing batsmen.
1918, Washington (AL) -
won 1 game, on June 6 (7-1/3 innings), and had no games with fewer than
three opposing batsmen.
Based on this research,
we can't be 100% certain that Altrock's batterless win didn't happen,
but I'm 99% certain that it didn't. Maybe it
occurred in an exhibition game, or a minor league contest, or in
the mind of a creative writer, but there's no evidence it happened in a
Joe DiMaggio's wait
Jim Sanders wrote, "I was
wondering if we could start a discussion as to why - Joe DiMaggio - was
delayed by an additional year before being
admitted to the Hall Of Fame?"
From 1946-53, there was
only a one-year-wait requirement between retirement and Hall of Fame
eligibility. Thus DiMaggio, who last played in
October 1951, became eligible in January 1953. He received
117 of 264 votes (44%).
In '54, the
five-year-wait rule was put in, but with a "grandfather" exemption to
anyone who had already received 100 or more votes; DiMaggio was the
only one who qualified, so he stayed on the ballot. That year, he
moved up to 69% (175/252), before making it with 89% (223/251) in '55.
Even if you believe Joe
D was one of the all-time greats, his getting only 44% in his first try
is not that surprising. Between 1937-61,
nobody made it on his first try, and only Mel Ott (61% in 1949)
did better than DiMaggio.
More Doubles Than Singles
Mark Rappaport asked if
anyone had finished a season with more doubles than singles while
playing regularly. Lee Sinins checked everyone
with, I think, 500 plate appearances, and found nobody who came
very close to achieving that. However, if you use a minimum of 20
doubles, there are two who came close:
In 1883, Ned Williamson
had 55 singles and 49 doubles (plus five triples and two homers) while
playing in all 98 of the Cubs' games.
In 1928, Tris Speaker
had 24 singles and 22 doubles (plus two triples and three homers),
though he played only 64 games. For 60 years,
Speaker was credited with 23 singles and 23 doubles in '28, but I
discovered an addition error in his official sheet and most sources now
with 22 doubles that year
discussing Roger craig, wrote "In 1959, his ERA was 2.06. Sam
Jones, the official leader, had an ERA of 2.82. Craig's 152 2/3
IP was an inning and a third short of qualifiying for the
title. If he had been able to pitch for four more outs, he could
have given up 13 more earned
runs and still be the official league leader."
A similar thing
happened in the AL in 1986. Boston's Roger Clemens led with 2.48,
but Toronto rookie Mark Eichhorn had 1.72 in 157 innings,
five short of qualifying. Eichhorn could have given up 14
earned runs in the five innings and still beaten Clemens. As I
recall, Toronto management
offered to give him a start or otherwise increase his workload in
the final days of the season so he could qualify, but Eichhorn said he
didn't want to
win the title that way.
Maxwel Kates wrote,
"During the 7th inning of the game between the San Diego Padres and the
Montreal Expos at Jarry Park on June 13, 1973, Mike Marshall was
brought in to face Jerry Morales. At the time, the bases were
jammed with Dwain Anderson, Gene Locklear, and Enzo Hernandez.
One pitch later, Morales hit a ground ball to Ron Hunt, who tossed it
to Tim Foli at short, to Mike Jorgensen at 1st, to John Boccabella
behind the plate. Triple play. My question is whether Iron Mike
remained in the game beyond the seventh inning. If not, were
there any other instances where a pitcher executed a triple play on his
only pitch of the game?"
On July 27, 1930,
Cincinnati's Ken Ash faced only one batter but got credit for a full
inning pitched and a victory. Ash relieved in the sixth
inning with two Cubs on base and nobody out, and promptly induced
Charlie Grimm to ground into a triple play. All outs on tags. Ash
was lifted the next inning for a PH, and the Reds scored 4 times,
giving him the 6-5 win, his last ML win, on one pitch.
Back in early March, I
had a post about 1957-71 players who had strong first full seasons, who
were not eligible for the Rookie of the Year
Award by the rules in place then (a player could not have had more
than 90 previous at bats or 45 previous innings pitched), but who would
eligible by the rules in place since '71 (no more than 130
previous AB or 50 IP).
The players I mentioned
were Frank Malzone (1957), Vada Pinson (1959), Reggie Jackson (1968),
Bobby Murcer (1969), and Ralph Garr (1971). Each of these would have
been a serious ROY candidate, if not the obvious winner, had the 130-at
bat rule been in place from the start (though I don't know whether any
of these men would have been excluded by the "45 days on a roster
before September 1" rule). I have since found two other players
who fall into that category.
In the AL in 1965,
after 123 previous at bats, Willie Horton hit 29 homers (third in the
league), drove in 104 runs (second), and batted .273,
finishing eighth in MVP voting. The award went to
Baltimore's Curt Blefary (22-70-.260).
In the AL in 1969,
after 109 previous AB, Bill Melton had 23 HR, 87 RBI, and a .255
average for the White Sox. The Award went to the Royals' Lou
Qualifying for a Pension
Regarding instances of
players added to a roster in order to qualify for a pension, several
people have mentioned Satchel Paige. On August 11,
1968, the Braves signed Paige -- lacking 158 days on a major
league payroll to qualify for a pension -- to a contract. He did
a lot of warming up but
never appeared in a game, and became a coach on September 30.
That same year, after
managing St. Cloud to the 1968 Northern League pennant, Carroll Hardy
returned to the Twins in September to get the 14 days he lacked for a
big league pension. He did not play for Minnesota that year, and
retired from baseball after the season.
Robinson, Boyer & Santo
Samuel Wilson wrote, "I
just wanted to get some opinions on an issue that has bothered me for
some time. I have always maintained that the
advent of television has helped many players make it to the
hall-of-fame. One example is Brooks Robinson. I am certain that
the television coverage
of his performance in the 1970 World Series played a role in his
nomination to the hall. Today Ron Santo is lobbying hard to
become inducted. He
compares his statistics and accomplishments to Robinson as a
measure that he too belongs in Cooperstown. If that is the case,
should Ken Boyer also be considered? After all, Boyer and Santo
both show themselves to be better offensive players than
Robinson. More important, both, but particularly
Santo, were very good defensive players. Boyer was also the
National League MVP on the Cardinals World Series team in 1964.
Did Robinson beneift from being on better teams and having national
television coverage of his career whereas Boyer did not? Does
anyone else believe that television played a significant role in
Robinson getting the notoriety necessary to get the votes for the
The 1970 World Series
was merely the crowning achievement on Brooks Robinson's Hall of Fame
career, much like Roberto Clemente's performance in the '71
Series. Take a look at Robby's MVP voting through the years and
you'll see what high esteem the sportswriters (who also vote on the
Hall of Fame) had for him:
Robinson finished 3rd
in 1960, 9th in '62, 1st in '64, 3rd in '65, 2nd in '66, 7th in '70
(all this before the memorable World Series), and 4th
in '71 --- seven times in the top ten, four times in the top
three. He was also mentioned in ''61, '68, '69, '72, and
'74. He amassed 3.68 MVP Award
shares, 17th-most in history.
Boyer's top ten
finishes were 10th in 1959, T-6th in '60, 7th in '61, and 1st in
'64. He earned 1.62 award shares.
Santo's were T-8th in
1963, 8th in '64, 4th in '67, and 5th in '69, en route to 1.22 award
I'm not saying Boyer or
Santo weren't worthy players. But it is ridiculous to suggest
that the only thing separating Robinson from them in
the Hall of Fame voters' minds was the 1970 World Series.
Cyril Morong wrote,
"Further proof that baseball is the perfect sport. The Greeks
discovered the "Golden Ratio." It is approximately 1.618.
That is, the ideal size of a rectangle would be the longer side
being 1.618 times the length of the shorter. There are even examples
from nature. In my
RBI research, the expected RBI value of a Home Run, on average, is
1.616 (that is based on the frequency of the various base situations I
some research on one of Tom Ruane's websites-the data was from the
1982, 1983 and 1987 seasons). Also, for the 61 players who had 6000 or
more plate appearances from 1987-1961 that I analyzed, the average
number of RBI opportunities per at bat (including the batter) was 1.62.
So both numbers are almost identical to the golden ratio:)"
Doug Lyons asked about major
league players who spent time in mental institutions. Charlie
Faust, the Giants' good-luck charm who appeared in a couple of games in
1911, was admitted to the Oregon State Insane Asylum (Salem) from June
3-July 20, 1914, then to the Western Washington Hospital for the Insane
(Steilacoom) from December 1, 1914 until his death on June 18,
Some background on Faust - Charles Victor
Faust approached John McGraw before the 1911 season, saying that a
fortune teller had told him that if he pitched for the NY Giants, they
would win the pennant. McGraw caught him barehanded in his
tryout, but impressed by Faust's fervent belief in what the fortune
teller told him, allowed Faust to sit on the bench and occasionally
warm-up in the bullpen. The Giants started winning and Faust
became the team good luck charm for three straight pennant-winning
teams. They fell to 2nd in 1914.
Source: VICTORY FAUST, THE RUBE WHO SAVED McGRAW's GIANTS,
by SABR member Gabriel Schechter (Charles April Publications, 2000).
Joe Haardt wrote,
"Rookie Jason Bay had eight RBI for Pirates in game 1 of twin bill on
Sept 19. Anybody know if this is a record for
rookies?" I did a little desk-top research on this question,
and it appears as if the record is held by a couple of Red Sox'
rookies, 20 years apart.
Norm Zauchin drove in 10 runs on May 27, 1955, and Fred Lynn did
the same on June 18, 1975.
Catchers with Highest BAs
During the first game
of the NLCS, Fox showed a graphic listing the five catchers (catcher
primary position) with the highest career batting
averages: Cochrane (.320), Piazza (.319), Dickey (.313), Lombardi
(.306), and Ivan Rodriguez (.304).
What about Buck Ewing?
Sure, his BA was always listed at .303, but the "Important Change to
the Official Record of Major League Baseball,"
announced by Major League Baseball's Official Historian in the
final edition of TOTAL BASEBALL, turned all year-1887 walks back into
increased Ewing's career average to .307. It's also true
that Ewing played only 636 of his 1315 career games behind the
plate. But he had no more than 253 at any other position, so it
would be stretching the definition of "primary" to not list him as a
Even if Fox could talk
their way out of including Ewing, there's no excuse for missing the
immortal Spud Davis and his .308 career average over
1458 games, 1282 as a catcher.
Just to expand on the posts about Larry Jaster in 1966: Jaster,
as a rookie, faced the defending world champion Dodgers five times in
shut them out each time. So against LA, he had 5 GS, 5 CG, 5
ShO, 45 IP, a 5-0 record, and an 0.00 ERA, an amazing
accomplishment considering the fact that Jaster's highest win total for
a season was 11. Against the rest of the
league, he had 16 GS, 1 CG, 0 ShO, 106.2 IP, a 6-5 record, and a 4.64
The five shutouts gave
him a share of the NL lead that year. As I recall (I know, I
know), he had also pitched a scoreless inning in relief
against the Dodgers during his September call-up in 1965, and went
another six-plus innings vs. LA in '67 before they finally scored on
Paul Lukas wrote,
"During ESPN Radio's broadcast of Game 4 of the ALCS, Jon Miller said
Tim Wakefield wears uniform #49 as a tribute to fellow knuckleballers
Charlie Hough and Tom Candiotti, and that he (Wakefield) later learned
that Hoyt Wilhelm had worn #49 as well. Is anyone aware of other
big leaguers whose uni numbers are intended as tributes?"
Willie McCovey wore #44
in tribute to fellow-Mobile, AL star Hank Aaron. When Reggie
Jackson joined the Yankees in '77, and found his #9 in
use by Graig Nettles, Jackson switched to #44 in tribute to Aaron,
who had retired the year before. Eric Davis was another who took
#44 because of
Aaron and/or Jackson.
Barry Bonds wore #24
for Pittsburgh in honor of his godfather, Willie Mays. When Bonds
joined the Giants, he was told that the number was
already retired in Mays's honor; though Mays insisted it could be
unretired for Bonds, Barry instead took #25, which had been his
father's number with
the Giants. I believe Rickey Henderson's #24 was also a
tribute to Mays.
I think Sammy Sosa
wears #21 in tribute to pioneer Latin-American star Roberto Clemente,
Kerry Wood dons #34 in honor of childhood hero Nolan Ryan, and Jason
Giambi wears #25 in tribute to former teammate and mentor Mark McGwire.
Sid Fernandez wore #50
in tribute to his birthplace of Hawaii, the 50th state. I believe
there were other Hawaiian-born players who did the
On the subject of
switch-pitchers, Elmer Steele could throw with either hand, but with
insufficient finesse from the port side. Steele was a
right-handed pitcher for the Red Sox, Pirates, and Dodgers between
1907-11, posting a 2.41 ERA over 428 innings before an apparent
career-ending arm injury. Not to be deterred, Steele returned to
the minors -- as a left-handed first baseman! In 1913, Steele
batted .339 in the New York-New
Moxie Manuel, who
pitched for the Senators in 1905 and White Sox in 1908, was for a long
time listed in the encyclopedias as a switch-pitcher,
but I found no evidence he ever threw anything but right-handed in
the majors. Perhaps a check of the 1908 Chicago papers would be
's appearances that year came on June 9, 10, 14, 17, 21, 23, 26,
and 27; July 4, 8, 13, and 23; August 8 and 18; and September 3, 7, and
three games for Washington in 1905 were on September 25, September
29, and October 7.
Yale's "New" Statistic
Phil Birnbaum wrote,
"In Business Week this week (November 17, page 16), there is a story
about Yale researchers inventing a new statistic.
It's computed by calculating the probability of the team winning
before an at-bat, and after the at-bat, and crediting the batter with
So if the chance of winning is 45%, but the batter hits a single
and the chance is now 48%, the batter gets .03 wins added to his
total. It's like
Gary Skoog's "value added" stat, but for wins instead of
runs. My question: this new stat seems really familar -- I'd
swear I'd seen it before. Has
anyone seen it?"
Sounds exactly like
"Player Win Average," devised by Harlan and Eldon Mills at least 34
years before Yale's researchers "invented" it. The
Mills brothers published their idea and 1969 results in a booklet
called PLAYER WIN AVERAGES (South Brunswick, NJ: A. S. Barnes,
1970). John Thorn mentioned it in THE HIDDEN GAME of BASEBALL
(pages 47-48 in the paperback edition).
I recall reading an
article about the Mills system in a 1971 issue of THINK magazine, IBM's
house organ. It said, among other things, that Willie
McCovey had led the majors in PWA in both 1969 (.677) and 1970
(.648); that Johnny Bench, the 1970 NL MVP, was topped in PWA by
several other players, including some (they didn't say who) on his own
team; and that Jim Hickman posted an excellent PWA in 1969, despite his
.237 batting average.
Missing War Years
Bill Nowlin asked for
projections on Ted Williams's statistics, had he not missed all of the
1943-45 seasons and most of the 1952-53 campaigns
in military service.
A couple of decades
ago, I did some rudimentary projections on notable players with missing
war years. I would simply take the average of
the two actual seasons closest to the missing ones. So, if a
player missed 1943-45, for 1943, I'd use the average of '41 & '42;
for '44, the average of
'42 & '46; and for '45, the average of '46 and '47. In
Williams's case, for 1952-53, I used the average of '51 and '54 for
both seasons, backing out his
actual at bats from '52-53 and pro-rating everything else
downward, then adding in his actual stats.
Ted's missing years
489 138 186 34 4 36 129 3 145 .380
H 2B 3 HR RBI SB BB AVG
518 142 181 36 7 37 130 2 151 .349
521 134 178 38 8 35 119 0 159 .342
459 101 152 25 4 30 109 1 139 .331
458 98 158 26 2 36 120 0
Comparing these numbers
to the actual AL leaders in those years, Williams would have led in
runs in 1943-45, in doubles in '45, in homers in
1943-45, in RBI in 1943-45 and '52, and in walks and batting all
five years. That's three new Triple Crowns and five more batting
titles. However, Hank Greenberg projected to beat out Ted in
homers in 1942 and '43, and RBI in '43.
career stats show 10050 AB, 3468 H, 679 2B, 95 3B, 681 HR, 30 SB, a
.345 AVG, and new records for runs (2392), RBI (2409), and walks
(2713). However, had he not missed those war years, I believe he
would have retired after the 1954 season.
Some other couldas:
Luke Appling (3103) and Enos Slaughter (2902) might have flirted with
3000 hits; Greenberg (491) and Stan Musial (489)
might have approached 500 homers, and Musial might also have come
close (792-776) to Tris Speaker's doubles record; and Willie Mays might
have wound up with exactly 714 homers.