A Few Notes About Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson’s 1913 season featured 11 shutouts, the most the Big Train ever had in a single season. Johnson had no more than 1 run allowed in his first 11 appearances (7 starts and 4 relief stints): this span included a 55 2/3rd innings scoreless streak. Later in 1913, he had stretches of 9 and 6 games without allowing more than 1 earned run in a game, and a 37-inning scoreless streak from late June to mid-July that was not part of either stretch.

People who know about Johnson seem to envision him as a great deadball pitcher who hung on in the 1920s, but was no longer an exceptional pitcher after the live ball came along. But, in 1924, Johnson led the AL in wins with 23, shutouts with 6, in ERA with a 2.72, and in games started with 38.

Only two batters hit more than 3 homers off Johnson. The player you expect, Babe Ruth, with 8 in 113 at-bats. The player you don’t expect, and probably haven’t heard of, is Joe Hauser, with 5 in 48 at-bats. Hauser, a great minor-league slugger, had only 80 MLB homers.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 9, 2018 at 9:52 am  Comments (1)  

Some Hank Aaron Stats

Aaron, you may already know, wore #44. He hit 44 homers in a season 4 different times. Three of those 44-homer seasons led the National League. In 1963, he stole 31 bases to go with 44 homers, making him an early member of the 30-30 club. In 1973, he hit 40 homers despite playing in just 120 games.

Aaron’s only 9 seasons of double-digit steals were in 9 consecutive years, 1960-68, the middle of his career. He drew 92 walks, a career high, in 1972, in just 129 games. Aaron’s best bids for a Triple Crown were in 1957, 1959, and 1963. In 1959, he had 39 homers, 123 RBIs, and led the NL with a .355 batting average. He finished third in homers and RBIs that year.

Also: the 1969 Braves won the NL West, but are little remembered because the Mets won the pennant and Series. Aaron hit 3 homers and had 7 RBIs as that Braves team was getting swept in the NLCS in 3 games.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 16, 2018 at 4:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jim Tobin, Only MLB Pitcher to Hit 3 Homers in a Game He Pitched

Jim Tobin pitched for three different franchises, in both leagues, and was a workhorse. After leading the league in complete games twice, innings pitched once, and losses once, his career ended pretty abruptly, without the tailoff in quality and/or durability that you expect, looking over his stats leading up to his final year. His last MLB game was in the 1945 World Series, and he was on the winning side of that Series: the Tigers beat the Cubs in 7 games. A very good hitter (for a pitcher), with a peak of 6 homers in a single season, he pinch-hit occasionally throughout his career.

You might have the impression that he was a bad pitcher who made up for it with his durability and hitting. Well, he did make an All-Star game, almost always posted an ERA at the 3.xx level, and came close to a .500 career record despite usually pitching for bad teams that hardly anyone remembers now. You can read Tobin’s stats at http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/T/Ptobij103.htm

Tobin had a day at the plate that rivals, or perhaps is, the greatest that a pitcher has ever had in a game he was pitching. He hit 3 homers for the Boston Braves in a game on May 13, 1942, as the Braves beat the Cubs, 6-5. Tobin’s last 2 homers tied the game, then put Boston ahead, 6-4. And, he pitched a complete game for the win. He died quite a while ago, before many fans were born, and I do not know why his MLB career ended so suddenly.

Also: Tobin threw 2 no-hitters, but one is not “legal” under MLB’s current rules, because the game was ended after 5 innings.

Published in: Uncategorized on February 16, 2018 at 12:27 pm  Comments (2)  

Shohei Ohtani and Babe Ruth

Here is a link to the box score for Babe Ruth’s final start as a pitcher in 1919: http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1919/B09201BOS1919.htm It was vs. the White Sox, who we remember as the Black Sox, on September 20, the first game of a doubleheader at Fenway. Ruth pitched 5 1/3rd innings, leaving the mound with a 3-3 tie. But, he moved out to left field rather than leaving the game, and then hit a walkoff homer in the bottom of the 9th off Lefty Williams.

Will Ohtani ever be used by the Angels in a similar fashion, starting the game on the mound and then moving to either designated hitter or the outfield?

Published in: Uncategorized on December 12, 2017 at 11:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Notes on Lou Gehrig

Lou Gehrig led the A.L. in hits, doubles, triples, homers, walks, intentional walks, batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage at least one season for each stat. I do not know if he’s the only player to do that. He also led the A.L. repeatedly in runs, games played (of course), and RBIs.

He hit 10+ triples in 9 of his 14 full seasons (more triples than homers in 1926), and never had fewer than 6 triples in a full season. Gehrig had 200+ hits in 8 seasons, 100+ walks in 11 seasons, and got to both levels in 7 seasons.

Given Gehrig’s heroic image, it’s a bit surprising to learn that he was ejected from 9 games, and according to Retrosheet, his 2 ejections in 1928 were tied for the most in the A.L. Look up more of his stats at http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/G/Pgehrl101.htm

Published in: Uncategorized on December 2, 2017 at 2:54 pm  Comments (1)  

Astros and Cubs

The 2017 Houston Astros won the World Series after losing anywhere from 106 to 111 games, each year from 2011 through 2013. The 2016 Chicago Cubs won the World Series after losing anywhere from 91 to 101 games, each year from 2011 through 2013. The two teams’ wins also broke a cumulative championship drought of about 165 seasons.

Published in: Uncategorized on November 9, 2017 at 12:33 pm  Leave a Comment  

More Dodgers History

After the NLCS, the Dodgers are 7-1 in the 2017 postseason. This apparently, other than 1981 and 1988, is the only time they have won 7 games in one postseason, and, right now, is their best postseason winning percentage since 1963, when they swept the Yankees.

Published in: Uncategorized on October 20, 2017 at 10:58 am  Comments (1)  

Some Notable 2012 Retirees

Five years ago, on October 3, 2012, that year’s MLB regular season ended. Here is a summary of that day: http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/2012/10032012.htm

Some of the notable players playing in their final regular MLB game that day were: Andruw Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Scott Rolen, Ben Sheets, Chipper Jones.

Published in: Uncategorized on October 2, 2017 at 11:07 am  Leave a Comment  

A Bit of Dodgers History

The 2017 Dodgers will probably set a new franchise record for regular season wins. The Dodgers are one of the few great NL franchises, and yet they have won 100 or more games only 6 times in their history, never more than 105 in a season, and only once (1974) have won 100 games in a 162-game season. They have never won the World Series after a 100-win regular season. To me, this clarifies how hard it is to get to 100 wins: a storied franchise with 133 seasons and 22 pennants at the close of 2016 has reached 100 wins 4.5 percent of the time.

The Yankees have 19 100-win seasons, by the way, but even they got past 105 wins only 3 times before the start of the 162-game schedule.

Published in: Uncategorized on September 1, 2017 at 4:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Few Remarkable Barry Bonds Stats

Bonds led the NL in walks 11 times, but led it in the other major counting stats only 4 times: twice in homers, once in RBIs, and once in runs scored. All the walks, and Bonds missing at least 15 games most years after 1998, meant he never had more than 500 at-bats in any year after that 1998 season. He had 2558 walks, close to as many as his 2935 hits. He had more walks than hits almost every year after 2000. For his career, he scored 2227 runs vs. 1996 RBIs, with 38% of those RBIs attributed to driving himself in on 762 homers. My guess is that of all the batters in the 500-homer club, Bonds is the one with the largest gap between his runs scored and his RBIs.

Here are some exceptional walk to strikeout ratios in Bonds’s career: 198 to 47 in 2002, 232 to 41 in 2004, and 132 to 54 in 2007. Bonds struck out 100 times in a season just once, in his rookie year, 1986.

Published in: Uncategorized on August 11, 2017 at 2:40 pm  Comments (1)