Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap’s 1884 Season

In 1884, Dunlap hit .412, and slugged .621, for a 1.069 OPS, good for an 256 adjusted OPS+ ranking. That ranks second only to Barry Bonds’ 3 best seasons in MLB history, and is sandwiched between Bonds’ 3 seasons and 3 Babe Ruth seasons. Dunlap hit 13 homers, 8 triples, and 39 doubles, in just 101 games: he scored 160 runs, or 1.6 per game.

Why is he so little known? He’s not in the Hall of Fame, he played in the 1880s for the most part, and his 1884 season was for the St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association. And, he did not hit better than .326, or a .452 slugging percentage, in any other season.

Published in: Uncategorized on December 2, 2014 at 9:36 am  Leave a Comment  

A Brief Comparison of the Two Bay Area Dynasties: the 1971-75 A’s and 2010-14 Giants

The A’s cumulative winning percentage was .594, a 95-65 average record. They won 21 postseason games, but all were in the three title years: they were swept in both the 1971 ALCS and the 1975 ALCS, which is, in a way, similar to the Giants not making the playoffs in 2011 and 2013. Their WAR leaders, as Baseball-reference has it, were, from ‘71-‘75, Vida Blue (8.6), Joe Rudi (6.1), Reggie Jackson (7.8), Catfish Hunter (6.9), and Reggie again (6.7). The A’s scored a total of 3,500 runs in the five years, and allowed 2793 runs, an average of 559 per year.

The Giants’ cumulative winning percentage was .538, an 87-75 average record. They won 34 postseason games. Their WAR leaders, as Baseball-reference has it, were, from ‘10 to ‘14, Aubrey Huff (5.7), Pablo Sandoval (6.1), Buster Posey (7.3), Posey again (5.5), and Madison Bumgarner (5.3). The Giants scored a total of 3,279 runs in the five years, an average of 656 per year, and allowed 3115 runs, an average of 623 per year.

Given the sizable regular season advantage, in terms of both run differential and won-loss record, that the A’s have on the Giants, it’s worth noting that the A’s lost eight World Series games, but the Giants lost just four. While the Giant got by with just one manager, Bruce Bochy, in their 5-year stretch, the A’s needed Dick Williams and then Alvin Dark to manage them to the playoffs five times.

Published in: Uncategorized on November 13, 2014 at 10:43 am  Comments (1)  

Comparing Orel Hershiser’s September and October, 1988, to Madison Bumgarner’s September and October, 2014

A while ago I did a brief post on this blog comparing Orel Hershiser’s scoreless streak in 1988 to Drysdale’s streak in 1968. Orel’s streak began with 4 scoreless innings in a 4-2 victory over Montreal on August 30: this table covers the rest of the streak:

DATE OPPONENT/SITE INN. H R ER BB SO SCORE

Sept. 5 Atlanta (Road) 9 4 0 0 1 8 3-0
Sept. 10 Cincinnati (Home) 9 7 0 0 3 8 5-0
Sept. 14 Atlanta (Home) 9 6 0 0 2 8 1-0
Sept. 19 Houston (Road) 9 4 0 0 0 5 1-0
Sept. 23 San Francisco (Road) 9 5 0 0 2 2 3-0
Sept. 28 San Diego (Road) 10 4 0 0 1 3 1-2

Continuing from that list, here is a graphic from Baseball-Almanac of Orel’s postseason performances in 1988:
almanacOrel

And here, from Yahoo Sports, is the game log tracking Madison Bumgarner’s performances in September and October of 2014:
Bumgamelog

One decent way to compare these two is to note that Orel gave up 7 runs in the two months, which equals the 7 runs Bumgarner allowed in the postseason. Also, Hershiser pitched on fewer than 4 days rest 7 different times in the two months, while Bumgarner did that once. It’s not discrediting Bumgarner’s achievement at all to note that it fell quite a ways short of what Hershiser did. Even staff aces aren’t expected to do as much in the 2010s as in the 1980s.

Published in: Uncategorized on November 1, 2014 at 6:59 am  Comments (3)  

A Short Post About the 1975 through 1989 Kansas City Royals

Over these 15 seasons, the Royals posted an 86-72 average won-loss record, for a .544 cumulative winning percentage.
In 8 of the 15 seasons, 1975-1989, the Royals got at least 90 wins, including a peak of 102 in 1977. They were in the playoffs 7 times.
They got 90+ wins each year from 1975 through 1978, and had just 1 year from ’75-’89 of fewer than 79 wins (not counting strike-shortened 1981): 1986, a 76-win season.
This excellence made them, I’d guess, the most successful expansion franchise in the majors for quite a while. Until when? Maybe when the Blue Jays won their two World Series in 1992 and 1993.
Compare the Royals’ showing over these 15 years to their 2014 record of 89-73, a .549 winning percentage, and their 2013 record of 86-76, a .531 winning percentage.
I’ve tried to make this post be about more than just the 1985 Royals, but I close by noting that Bret Saberhagen was apparently the last ’85 Royal in the majors. His last year, 2001, was spent with the Red Sox.

Published in: Uncategorized on October 18, 2014 at 5:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Comparing the Best Players on the Two Teams Without a World Series Appearance

These are the best players in Seattle Mariners history that people can think of as M’s-that is, they had at least a few of their prime seasons with the team, enough time for a sizable number of the team’s fans to develop strong memories of them. They are: Ken Griffey, Edgar Martinez, Ichiro, Jay Buhner, John Olerud, Adrian Beltre, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Jamie Moyer, Felix Hernandez, Omar Vizquel. And, for managers, Lou Piniella (the only M’s manager aside from Lloyd McClendon with an above .500 record) and Dick Williams.

The same list for the Expos/Nationals: Tim Raines, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson, Vladimir Guerrero, Larry Walker, Pedro Martinez, Dennis Martinez, Steve Rogers (the classic Expos pitcher), Rusty Staub, Ryan Zimmerman. And, for managers, Felipe Alou and Frank Robinson. (You could add players such as Mark Langston and Marquis Grissom to both of these lists, but I had to stop somewhere.)

The Expos/Nationals have had one position player with a season WAR above 8: Gary Carter, once. Meanwhile, M’s position players have reached 8 WAR 8 times: A-Rod 3 times, Griffey 3 times, Ichiro once, and Brett Boone once.

Here is a proposed All-Star team for the Mariners:
catcher: Dan Wilson
third base: Beltre
shortstop: Rodriguez
second base: Boone
first base: Olerud or Alvin Davis
left: Ichiro
center: Griffey
right: Buhner
pitcher: Johnson or Hernandez

The same lineup for the Expos:
catcher: Carter
third base: Ryan Zimmerman
shortstop: Hubie Brooks
second base: Jose Vidro
first base: Andres Galarraga
left: Raines
center: Dawson
right: Guerrero
pitcher: Rogers or Pedro

I am not very familiar with the Expos/Nationals history, but even allowing for a couple mistakes in my selection of their All-Stars, it’s clear that if they played 50 games, the M’s All-Stars would beat the Montreal/D.C. All-Stars more than half the time. I think the biggest question, then, is: why haven’t the Mariners been in a World Series?

Published in: Uncategorized on October 12, 2014 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

BBA Award Ballots

This post gathers together the Baseball Bloggers Alliance History Chapter award voting for 2014 in MLB. My ballot for the Walter Johnson (Pitcher of the Year) award in the AL is:
1 Felix Hernandez
2 Corey Kluber
3 Chris Sale
4 Jon Lester
5 Max Scherzer

In the NL:
1 Clayton Kershaw
2 Johnny Cueto
3 Adam Wainwright
4 Cole Hamels
5 Doug Fister

Mark Aubrey with Baseball Nuggets handled the Willie Mays (Rookie of the Year) awards. He went with, in the AL:
1 Jose Abreu
2 Masahiro Tanaka
3 Matt Shoemaker

In the NL:
1 Jacob deGrom
2 Billy Hamilton
3 Yangervis Solarte

For the Connie Mack (Manager of the Year) awards, my choices are, in the AL:
1 Buck Showalter
2 Lloyd McClendon
3 Mike Scioscia

In the NL:
1 Bruce Bochy
2 Clint Hurdle
3 Matt Williams

For Goose Gossage (Reliever of the Year), in the AL, I have:
1 Wade Davis
2 Greg Holland
3 Zach Britton

In the NL:
1 Craig Kimbrel
2 Jonathan Papelbon
3 Mark Melancon

The Stan Musial (MVP) ballots, for the AL:

1 Mike Trout
2 Michael Brantley
3 Josh Donaldson
4 Adam Jones
5 Felix Hernandez
6 Alex Gordon
7 Victor Martinez
8 Jose Bautista
9 Jose Altuve
10 Robinson Cano

The following is Mark Aubrey’s ballot for National League MVP:

1  Clayton Kershaw
2  Giancarlo Stanton
3  Andrew McCutcheon
4  Anthony Rendon
5  Jonathan Lucroy
6  Buster Posey
7  Adam Wainwright
8  Jason Heyward
9  Anthony Rizzo
10 Josh Harrison

Published in: on October 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm  Comments (6)  

Some Measures of the Phillies’ Long Futility, and Brief Success

The Philadelphia Phillies appeared in the postseason once from 1916 through 1975, which I suppose is an unequaled streak of futility in MLB history. The Phillies’ record in those 60 seasons was 3973-5286, not counting being swept by the Yankees in the 1950 World Series. Their average season record from 1916 through 1975 was 66-88. The Phillies have lost 100 games 13 times, all 13 times coming before the 162-game schedule began in 1962. From 1916 through 1961 they finished 8th out of 8 teams 20 times, then escaped the cellar in the 7 years of a single-division, 10-team National League. When division play began, they finished 5th or 6th in the 6-team N.L. East each year from 1969 through 1973.

I don’t know how people rank the performance of the MLB franchises, but the Phillies, with the exception of two stretches in which they could have assembled dynasties if things had gone a little bit better, have been remarkably bad. In the first would-be dynasty, they went to the playoffs 6 times in 8 years, 1976 through 1983, with an average record of 88-67 in that time, and got to two World Series. In the second, they made it to the playoffs 5 years in a row, but now appear to be in another extended losing stretch.

The Phillies have won 100 games three times: in none of the three seasons did they make it to the Series. On the other side, as noted, they haven’t lost 100 games in a season in the 50+ years since they were first given 8 more games in which to get to 100 losses, which strikes me as one of the more surprising facts about the 30 MLB franchises.

Published in: Uncategorized on September 27, 2014 at 6:12 pm  Comments (1)  

John P. Carmichael on Gabby Hartnett’s Homer in the Gloaming

This is a column by John P. Carmichael of the Chicago Daily News, writing for the September 29, 1938 edition about Gabby Hartnett’s Homer in the Gloaming to put the Cubs on the verge of winning the pennant:

We surrender to inadequacy. This Cub-Pirate pennant fight has gone far beyond our poor power to picture in words. When you squirm to fashion the proper pinnacle for a “Dizzy” Dean only to find that you need at least its twin, that a Gabby Hartnett may also brush the stars, word-painting becomes a magic art not given to the mine run of mortals to diffuse.

So let this be, today, a confession of helplessness to treat an afternoon which beggars description; an afternoon in the life of a stout-hearted Irishman who, as darkness almost wrapped him from the sight of 35,000 quaking fans, changed the map of a baseball world with one devastating blow. And that he is alive and in one piece at the moment, ready to carry on from that smash, is no fault of a Cub team and a Cub populace gone mad.

For a second successive night we stood in a clubhouse of crazy men in play suits. Only this time they weren’t even articulate. We can still see ‘em fighting for words, staring at one another with glazed eyes. We can still see ‘em pushing Hartnett from wall to wall with the irresistible force of robots gone wild. We can still see Gabby trying vainly to free himself from idolatrous teammates.

We can still see Billy Herman, standing in the middle of the floor, arms akimbo. When he could talk it was first just a whisper of awe: “Lord God Almighty.” Dawning consciousness of the moment brought it out again, louder, hoarser: “Lord God Almighty.” Then the full realization of the terrific sight he had just watched in the twilight smote him. “Lord God ALMIGHTY;” he suddenly screamed and hurled his glove he knew not where.

He wasn’t even swearing. It was as though he was asking the heavens above to witness that this thing he’d just seen with his own eyes could really happen to him and those caught up in the maelstrom around him.

Dean’s day was great. This one was greater. This was everybody’s day until Hartnett wrested it from them all with that miraculous, breath-taking blow in the ninth with two down, two strikes against him and a tie game about to be put over for a double-header today because it was no longer possible to see in the gloom.

Far out in the stands a mailman caught the ball and even while Gabby struggled in the arms of his men, it appeared in the clubhouse with a plea for the Hartnett name. “Give him a new one and I’ll sign it,” ordered Gabby. “I want to keep this one forever. I’ve had the greatest thrill of this old life now.”

Over in a corner “Rip” Collins, himself one of the day’s heroes at that plate, tried to break the hysteria with his inevitable gag. “I get some credit,” he yelled. “Gabby used the Collins stance at the plate.” Elbowing his way to Gabby’s side strode Trainer Andy Lotshaw, a comic figure with his cap awry and wiping away at streaming eyes with a huge towel.

“You big lug,” he wept, “you hit it just like I used to do.” He was shoved aside, sniffling, and “Dizzy” Dean leaped upon the managerial desk behind which Gabby had sought refuge. “Diz” teetered there back and forth on the balls of his feet, matted gray hair hanging over his forehead like an old crone’s disheveled locks.

“Oh,” he moaned. “You… you Gabby.” He tried to talk with his hands, but lost his balance and fell back into unsympathetic arms. Sheer exhaustion at relief from the tension of what they’d gone through finally drove some to their chairs, where they slumped like marionettes whose guiding strings had let them down. Through the half-open door came the frenzied roar of the crowd from which, only minutes before, Andy Frain’s ushers had barely saved Hartnett in his entity.

Now up, now down, now up again, the Cubs and Pirates went all the heart-straining day. The tide of battle surged bitterly through breaks, good and bad. It was almost too much for human flesh and blood to watch. And that hat we do not own is off once more to HIM and THEM.

Published in: on September 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Billy Martin on Earl Weaver

This is from one of Martin’s books, either Number 1 or Billy Ball, I don’t remember which. It is Martin’s comments on Weaver, perhaps his greatest A.L. adversary in the ’70s and ’80s:

I saved the best for last. I’m not being facetious when I say that. I know we’re supposed to have a hot rivalry going between us. The way that started is that I didn’t like him when he first came into the league. Frankly, he pissed me off the way he strutted around like a little bantam rooster and the way he talked. Thought he knew it all. Then he beat me three straight playoff games in 1969 when I was with Minnesota and that got me fired.

Later, when I came back with Detroit, he was always making comments about me in the papers, and I would return them with comments of my own. During the game, I’d be in my dugout and he’d be in his and I’d hear his raspy voice yelling at the umpires or at one of my players. I’d jump up to the top step of the dugout to say something to him, but he’d run away and hide.

Even when he didn’t run, I wouldn’t be able to look him in the eye, anyway, because he’s so short. Sometimes, he wouldn’t even be there; he’d be down in the runway, yelling at somebody and lighting up one of the cigarettes that he carries inside his uniform shirt.

Published in: Uncategorized on August 9, 2014 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Toney-Vaughan Double No-Hitter of May 2, 1917

Here is how the Chicago Tribune of May 3, 1917, described the previous day’s game at Weeghman Park (aka Wrigley Field), which the Reds won, 1-0, in the 10th inning by getting the game’s only two hits:

CUBS HITLESS AS TONEY WINS IN 10TH, 1 TO 0
Two Singles Off Vaughan with Error Score Tally for the Reds
RECORD!
Three thousand or more fans who saw the Cubs-Reds game yesterday
witnessed a contest that will stand as one of the most remarkable in history.
So far as can be learned, there never was a time in the major leagues when
two pitchers went nine innings without a hit being made on either side, as
did Jim Vaughan of the Cubs and Fred Toney of the Reds.

By James Crusinberry

Fred Toney and Jim Vaughan both attempted to enter the baseball hall of
fame yesterday when the Cubs and Reds fought at Weeghman park, and the result was a pitching duel such as never before has been staged. When nine rounds had been played neither one of the stalwart hurlers had allowed a base hit, but in the tenth the break came, and it went against Vaughn. Two hits were registered with one error, and Cincinnati got a run. Toney went back in the last half and set three Cubs down in a row, thus winning the day and the honor of a no hit no run game.

Many times it has happened that a pitcher on one side has gained the honor of allowing no hits, but none of the old time fans can remember of seeing two
pitchers fight for nine innings and neither one allow a hit. There wasn’t even a
fluke which might have been called a hit in the first nine rounds. Vaughn passed two batsmen and one Cincinnati man got to first when Rollie Zeider fumbled an easy grounder.

TONEY GIVES TWO WALKS

Toney walked two batsmen, but those two were the only men to reach first base. He was given perfect support by his mates, not a bobble being made behind him. The duel was so desperate that when the ninth inning was over and the honors were even the crowd cheered both men.

Vaughn really was the more brilliant of the two pitchers for nine innings. Only
twenty-seven men faced him in that time, because each time he walked a man double plays occurred, clearing off the bases, and the one fellow who reached first on Zeider’s fumble was pegged out trying to steal. Vaughn also fanned ten men in the nine innings, while Toney fanned only three all told, and two of the three strikeouts occurred in the last of the tenth, when the big Tennessee man called upon all the reserve power in his right arm to make sure of the honor of a no hit game.

VAUGHAN’S SUPPORT FAILS HIM

It was a wonderful game for Toney to win and a tough one for Vaughn to lose.
Had Vaughn been given the keen support that Toney had the Cubs might have prolonged the battle, and possibly connected with Toney’s curves later on. But when the first hit was made in the tenth there was a general breakdown.

The first fellow to drive the ball to safe ground was Larry Kopf, the young
shortstop of the Reds. One was out in the tenth when he came up, and he hit a liner to right field. Fred Merkle made a desperate lunge to his right with one hand stretched out, and perhaps came within a foot of the ball, but it was out of reach, and the terrible suspense was broken.

WILLIAMS DROPS BALL

That blow shouldn’t have lost the ball game. Neale followed with a fly ball to
Williams, and then Chase hit a line fly right at Williams. Cy scarcely had to move, but if he had advanced two steps he could have taken it in front of his belt buckle. Instead, he had to catch it at his ankles, and he muffed the ball. Kopf was on third and Chase safe at first.

Jim Thorpe, the athletic red skin, then bounced one into the earth in front of
the plate. The ball rolled slowly toward third base, with Vaughn after it. It looked as if Vaughn figured he had lost a chance to get Thorpe at first base, and there seemed little hope of such a play, so in desperation he scooped the ball to Wilson standing on the plate, with Kopf tearing in. The ball hit Wilson on the shoulder about the same time that Kopf crashed into him, and the run was in.

Chase also tried to dash in when he saw the ball roll away, but Wilson recovered it in time to get Hal. There wasn’t any need of Hal’s run anyway, for one run was all that could be used.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 11:00 am  Comments (1)  
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