Independent Baseball in 2020

At least a couple independent leagues had a baseball season this year, with curtailed schedules and fewer than normal teams. The American Association just wound up its season with the Milwaukee Milkmen winning the title in a roughly 60-game season. Six teams in the upper Midwest, and Winnipeg. This is an account of the season’s final game:
https://www.argusleader.com/story/sports/minor-league/canaries/2020/09/18/2020-canaries-covid-shortened-season-highlighted-return-playoffs/3490692001/

The Pecos League had a roughly 30-game season that ended about a month ago, with four teams playing, in the Southwest. Tucson won that title:
http://minorleaguesportsreport.com/index.php/caffery-homers-twice-as-saguaros-win-pecos-league-title/

Published in: Uncategorized on September 23, 2020 at 11:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Celebrating an Absent Championship

If MLB’s current regime for the 2020 season remains unchanged, the World Series winner this year will have not played a single game before a live audience. What will the lack of fans do to the tangibility (perhaps legitimacy is a better word) of this season?

For the World Series winner, presumably there will be no victory parade, perhaps not any kind of ceremony that’s open to the public.
Published in: Uncategorized on August 20, 2020 at 1:06 pm  Comments (1)  

Bucky Harris’s Managerial Career

Harris is one of the least-known long-time MLB managers. From 1924 through 1956, he managed his teams in 4410 games. A near-symmetry emerged from all those games: Harris wound up with a 2158-2219 record (a .493 winning percentage), which is close enough to even to be close to a rounding error. But what’s more, his teams scored 21,464 runs: they allowed 21,449 runs. Take away or add 15 runs over the 4410 games, and Harris’s teams even the score.

By the way, Harris twice managed his teams to a .500 season: 76-76 each time, but in 1934 a tie game was thrown into a 153-game season, his only one managing the Boston Red Sox. But, only once did the team very nearly score as many runs as it allowed: 1929, the Detroit Tigers, who scored 926 runs and allowed 928 runs.

https://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/H/Pharrb106.htm

Published in: Uncategorized on June 15, 2020 at 11:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Ted Lyons and Red Faber

On May 20, 1920, the White Sox scored 8 in the 16th inning to beat the Senators in D.C., 13-5. Red Faber pitched all 16 innings, in his longest game; Walter Johnson pitched the last 6.

Faber was one of the few pre-1960s pitchers to combine some staggering single-season innings counts (319, 330, 352 in consecutive seasons) with a long career. Faber probably would’ve been close to a 300-game winner if he had gone to the Yankees or A’s sometime in the 1920s. His SABR bio notes that he missed the Black Sox Series: “Ray Schalk long contended that the Black Sox Scandal would have been impossible had Faber been healthy; the conspirators would not have had enough pitching to succeed.” In other words, with Faber healthy for the Series, the conspirators would not have had enough Sox pitchers bribed.

Faber became a father at 58, and he lived to 88 despite smoking for 80 years, if the SABR bio is correct about him starting at age 8.

Lyons is the fairly neat statistical twin to Faber: another pre-1960s White Sox pitcher who nearly matches Faber in wins, innings pitched, and starts (484 to Faber’s 483), and was about as good a pitcher. Lyons apparently replaced Faber as the White Sox’ ace in 1924 or 1926: if you went to a game at Comiskey between the start of World War I and the U.S. entry into World War II, there was a good chance of seeing Lyons or Faber pitch. And, Lyons lived to see his 85th birthday; Faber lived to see his 88th birthday. You can read SABR’s biography of Lyons.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 21, 2020 at 3:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Who is the Greatest Living Player for Franchise X (Mariners, Reds, Indians, Blue Jays, etc.)?

The player can be active or retired. He needs to have spent at least half of his career playing for the franchise. You can weigh things like championships, character and/or reputation, how much of his career the player spent on the franchise, and whether or not this player is the first one you think of for the franchise, whether or not he’s the one you’d most want to see on the field (if an active player) or throwing the first pitch at a World Series game.

In part, this is a prompt for you to consider how the status of greatest living player has changed for each franchise over time, especially the 16 oldest franchises. For an obvious example, consider the changes in who is the greatest living Yankee, going from the 1900s onward.

Here are my fairly off-the-cuff picks for the 30 MLB franchises:

Red Sox: Yastrzemski or David Ortiz
Yankees: Jeter or Rivera
A’s: Rickey Henderson
Astros: Bagwell or Biggio
Angels: Trout
Cardinals: Pujols or Ozzie Smith or Bob Gibson
Padres: Trevor Hoffman
Giants: Mays or Barry Bonds
Blue Jays: Carlos Delgado or Dave Stieb
Orioles: Brooks Robinson or Cal Ripken Jr. or Jim Palmer

Rockies: Helton or Larry Walker or Nolan Arenado
Expos/Nationals: Tim Raines
Phillies: Mike Schmidt
Mets: Tom Seaver
Reds: Pete Rose or Johnny Bench or Barry Larkin
Rangers: Ivan Rodriguez
Tigers: Jack Morris or Miguel Cabrera
Indians: Jim Thome
Dodgers: Koufax, or Clayton Kershaw
Mariners: Griffey or Edgar Martinez or Ichiro

Twins: Joe Mauer
Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton
Rays: Evan Longoria
Diamondbacks: Luis Gonzalez or Paul Goldschmidt
Pirates: Bill Mazeroski or Andrew McCutcheon
Braves: Glavine or Maddux or Aaron
Brewers: Yount or Molitor
Cubs: Sandberg or Sosa
Royals: George Brett
White Sox: Frank Thomas

Published in: Uncategorized on May 2, 2020 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Pro Baseball in 2020 Begins in Taiwan

The Chinese Professional Baseball League began play on Sunday, April 12, with only some scattered robot “fans” attending. Here’s the story from Taiwan: https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3914867

Two former Seattle Mariner pitchers were the starters for the two teams.

Some video clips are available from the League’s Twitter account at https://twitter.com/cpbl

It looks like they are planning to play a full season that ends in mid-October. You can read a season preview at http://cpblstats.com/quick-guide-2020-cpbl-season/

Published in: Uncategorized on April 16, 2020 at 10:44 am  Leave a Comment  

Retiring Before the 2020 Season Starts

How many players, who have not announced their retirement yet, are going to retire before the 2020 season starts (assuming it does start)?

A bunch of fairly young players played their last game on August 11, 1994, the last game of that season. They included Storm Davis, Kevin McReynolds, Randy Milligan, Junior Felix, and Gerald Young. Felix and Young were in their 20s, and all five were reasonably productive players in 1994.

Published in: Uncategorized on April 1, 2020 at 11:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Going From A to Z

Anthony Aaron Zych is the last player, alphabetically, on the roll call of MLB players. Henry Louis Aaron is no longer the first player, alphabetically, on the roll call, because David Allan Aardsma took his place.

And right in the middle, there is Kevin Paul Mmahat.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 25, 2020 at 4:29 pm  Comments (3)  

Career Plate Appearances: Pete Rose and Everyone Else

Pete Rose has the record for most career plate appearances, with 15,890. That’s almost 1,900 more than the runner up, Carl Yastrzemski, who has 13,992. The gap between Rose and Yaz is bigger than the gap between Yaz and the #18 guy on the list, Adrian Beltre.

It’s pretty astounding that Rose is first on the list by about 3 entire seasons worth of plate appearances. The gap between #1 and #2 is equivalent to one-seventh of a very prolonged MLB career. It’s like Cy Young having nearly 100 more wins than anyone else. Except, Rose’s separation is based more on quantity than on quality: a plate appearance usually results in an out.

Ichiro would perhaps be fairly close to Rose’s record if Ichiro had started in MLB in 1995 or 1996. Ichiro’s dedicated health/workout regime is pretty well known. But, I haven’t read any discussion of how Rose was able to stay healthy and capable of being a big league hitter for so much longer than anyone else has.

Published in: Uncategorized on March 20, 2020 at 8:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Connie Mack at the Plate

Connie Mack’s triple slash line was .217/.305/.300, in an 1886-1896 career at catcher. He hit 5 career homers; baseball-reference assigns him a 72 OPS+, and a 29 OPS+ in his first full season. I’m not sure how reliable the stats are, but baseball-reference gives him top 10 finishes only in defensive categories, other than times hit-by-pitch.

People talk about weak-hitting catchers who are surrogate managers: it looks like Mack made that mold.

Published in: Uncategorized on February 19, 2020 at 5:25 pm  Leave a Comment