Robin Yount and Paul Molitor

These two were teammates on the Brewers from 1978 through 1992. Molitor missed almost all of 1984, and about half of the strike-shortened 1981 season. Yount, aside from 1981, never played fewer than 100 games in a season. Despite Molitor coming up at a later age, playing designated hitter for a large portion of his career, and being injured more often than Yount, he stole 504 bases, compared to Yount’s 271 steals. They were in the All-Star game a total of just 9 times.

Yount and Molitor were the first two 3000 hit players to play a large part of their careers as teammates. Yount in particular seems to be little remembered: if you’re under 25 and not a Brewers fan, I don’t know that you have any real familiarity with him. Aside from his two MVP years, Yount didn’t have attention-getting seasons, he was not in the playoffs after 1982, and he hasn’t had a high profile in the 25 or so years since his playing days ended.

 

Published in: Uncategorized on November 26, 2016 at 9:19 am  Comments (3)  

Some Statistics on the Chicago Cubs History

The Cubs won 200 regular season games in 2015 and 2016, the most for them in two straight years since winning 208 games in 1909 and 1910. This came three years after losing 197 games in 2012 and 2013, the most ever for the Cubs in two straight years. They did lose 192 games in 1999 and 2000, and 193 games in 1965-66 and 1961-62.

Their 11 postseason wins in 2016, and 4 in 2015, compare to 12 Cubs postseason wins from 1909 through 2002, and 6 postseason wins in 2003. In total, the Chicago Cubs won 18 postseason games from 1909-2014, then won 15 in the last 2 years.

Published in: Uncategorized on November 16, 2016 at 11:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Lou Gehrig

These are Gehrig’s RBI totals for 1926 through 1938: 109, 173, 147, 125, 173, 185, 151, 140, 166, 120, 152, 158, 114. He 5 times led the American League in on-base percentage; for his career he had a .447 OBP. Gehrig walked at least 100 times in a season 9 different times, and had 200 hits and 100 walks in 7 different seasons. Those numbers are quite impressive but not all that surprising. What is surprising, when looking at his Retrosheet page, is to see that Gehrig was ejected from 9 games in his career. Perhaps one of those times he came close to being suspended and ending his consecutive games played streak.

Published in: Uncategorized on November 2, 2016 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  

A Few Notes on Don Larsen and the 1956 World Series

In the start before his perfect game, Don Larsen was knocked out by the Dodgers in the 2nd inning of game 2 at Ebbets Field. He allowed 4 runs in 1 2/3rd innings (none were earned); Don Newcombe also got knocked out of the game early, but the Dodgers won, 13-8. Don Bessent, who you probably don’t know of, threw 7 innings in relief for the win.

Larsen’s perfect game was in game 5; Johnny Kucks allowed 3 hits in a complete game shutout of the Dodgers to win game 7. In game 6, the Dodgers had 4 hits, for a total of 7 hits in their last three games of the Series, which is probably a record low for three straight games in the Series. But, their 4th hit in game 6 won the game. It was a single in the bottom of the 10th by Jackie Robinson. All told, Brooklyn hit .195 in the ’56 Series.

Also, Larsen had gone 3-21 for the Orioles in 1954, leading the AL in losses. He then went 1-10 for the A’s in 1960, but ended his career with an 81-91 record. That perfect game kept Larsen on the Hall of Fame ballot from 1974 through 1988: he peaked at 12.1% of the vote in 1976. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Larsen went 144-596 as a batter in his MLB career, including two years of above .300 batting averages.

Published in: Uncategorized on October 4, 2016 at 10:16 am  Comments (1)  

Roger Maris

Here are a few things about Maris’s career you might find interesting. He hit 14 homers in 116 games in his first season, 1957 with the Indians. He led the league in slugging percentage (.581) in 1960, but did not in 1961 (he slugged .620 that year). He played in 7 World Series, which, thinking offhand, may tie the record for most Series played in by anyone from 1960 on to the present day. Those 7 World Series happened in a 9-year stretch, 1960 through 1968. He played for 4 teams, quite unusual in his time for a two-time MVP, as was being traded three times.

He hit 275 homers, out of 1325 total career hits, for a 20.7% homer percentage. Also, Maris played 140 games in a season only 4 times: in 1960 for example, his 39 homers and 112 RBIs came in 136 games and 499 at-bats. For his career, he played in an average of 122 games per season.

Published in: Uncategorized on September 20, 2016 at 10:07 am  Comments (1)  

A Few Notes on Northeast Baseball Coach Tom O’Connell

Tom O’Connell pitched for the University of Connecticut’s baseball team in the ‘50s, for military teams after college, and starting in the mid-‘60s coached the high school baseball team in Braintree, Mass., Brandeis University’s team in the bulk of the ’70s, then Princeton’s team in much of the ’80s and ’90s. I doubt you’ve heard of him, but he is one of the bigger names in Northeast college coaching in recent decades.

I’ve heard of him because a while ago I obtained some memorabilia-primarily news clippings-that O’Connell had gathered over the decades, from the 1950s to the 1990s: a mix of material from his professional life in baseball and material from his life as a fan of the Red Sox and Celtics. As Brandeis noted in its story on O’Connell’s death, he “led Brandeis baseball to six-straight NCAA Division III tournament appearances, including a berth at the 1977 Division III College World Series.” Princeton added: “The Tigers went to the NCAA Tournament three times during O’Connell’s tenure (1985, 1991, 1996), won two Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League championships (1985, 1991) and one Ivy League title in 1996.” Here is his obituary. I won’t pretend to have great unique insights into O’Connell, but this 1985 New York Times article on O’Connell’s work at Princeton jibes with the impression of the man that’s created by thumbing through other news articles on what he did at Braintree High, Brandeis, and Princeton. The impression is that he was a baseball lifer dedicated to winning and sustaining the sport’s ideals not by presenting a warm, understanding personality to his players, but by disciplining them and always asking them to do more. O’Connell, it seems, was one of those coaches who make up the backbone of organized amateur baseball.

Published in: Uncategorized on September 8, 2016 at 1:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Times on Base

Here, from Baseball-reference, is a list of the top 11 hitters in terms of times getting on base in their career (years played in parentheses, and the + denotes Hall of Famers):

1. Pete Rose (24) 5929
2. Barry Bonds (22) 5599
3. Ty Cobb+ (24) 5532
4. Rickey Henderson+ (25) 5343
5. Carl Yastrzemski+ (23) 5304
6. Stan Musial+ (22) 5282
7. Hank Aaron+ (23) 5205
8. Tris Speaker+ (22) 4998
9. Babe Ruth+ (22) 4978
10. Eddie Collins+ (25) 4891
11. Willie Mays+ (22) 4791

It is a shame that the two leaders aren’t in the Hall. It’s also surprising that Rose is on top by more than 300-an entire season-even though he’s no higher than 79th for times on base in a single season.

Published in: Uncategorized on August 20, 2016 at 1:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Babe Ruth and Stephen Curry

Some people have said that Stephen Curry’s 2015-2016 season, in terms of shooting (and making) 3-pointers, was similar to Babe Ruth hitting great bunches of home runs in the early 1920s, in that both showed the rest of the league a new way to play offense. Here are a few comparisons between Curry and the Warriors in 2015-16, as they related to the rest of the NBA, and Ruth and the 1920 Yankees, as they related to the rest of major league baseball.

In 15-16, the Warriors made 1077 3-pointers, while the NBA as a whole made 20,940. The Warriors made 5.14% of the NBA’s 3s. Second in the NBA was the Cavaliers, who made 880 3s. 1077 of the Warriors field goals were 3s, out of 3489 total field goals. The 1920 Yankees hit 115 homers, while the 16 MLB teams hit 630 homers total. 2nd in MLB in homers was the Philadelphia A’s, with 64. The Yanks had 1447 hits, and MLB had 23,275 hits total.

In 1920, Ruth hit 54 homers, and in 15-16, Curry hit 402 3 pointers. The previous records had been 29 homers hit by Ruth in 1919, and Curry’s 286 3-pointers in 14-15.

After the 15-16 season, the “Splash Brothers”-Curry and Klay Thompson-have the four highest 3-point seasons in NBA history. The record for a non-Splash Brother is Ray Allen, 269, in 2005-06 with the Sonics. Thompson had 276 3s this year, and James Harden, with 236, was 3rd. Second in the AL in homers in 1920 was George Sisler, 19, and Cy Williams led the NL with 15 for Phillies.

It took until 1922 in the NL for someone to hit more than 25 homers-Rogers Hornsby hit 42. It took until 1931 (Gehrig tied with Ruth at 46 homers) for someone besides Ruth to hit more than 40 homers to lead the AL.

Published in: Uncategorized on August 8, 2016 at 10:07 am  Leave a Comment  

A Short Note on Hit By Pitch Leaders

This, from Baseball-reference, is a little list of the top 10 (11 including the tie for 10th) batters for most career hit by pitch in MLB, as of the end of 2015:

1. Hughie Jennings+ (18) 287 R
2. Craig Biggio+ (20) 285 R
3. Tommy Tucker (13) 272 B
4. Don Baylor (19) 267 R
5. Jason Kendall (15) 254 R
6. Ron Hunt (12) 243 R
7. Dan McGann (12) 230 B
8. Frank Robinson+ (21) 198 R
9. Minnie Minoso (17) 192 R
10. Jake Beckley+ (20) 183 L
Chase Utley (14) 183 L

Utley has taken over 10th by himself in 2016. Four of these guys are Hall of Famers, as noted by the + after their names: everyone but Utley and Beckley either switch-hit or batted only from the right side. I do not know why left-handers would be hit less often, but maybe they see the ball more clearly, due to the swooping, down and up elegant swing many lefties have.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 20, 2016 at 11:01 am  Comments (1)  

Robin Roberts

Robin Roberts seems to be the least remembered great pitcher of the 1950s and ’60s. He won 286 games with incredible, by today’s standards, complete game totals throughout the ’50s: 33, 29, 21, 19, and so on. But, he also lost 245 games, threw primarily for Phillies teams that were not good and were obscured by the Dodgers, Giants, and Braves, and had only one really spectacular season, 1952 (two years after the Whiz Kids pennant-winning season of 1950). He died in Florida in 2010.

Here are a few notes on Roberts’ career: Baseball-Reference has him with 83.1 WAR, 22nd among pitchers, and leading the NL in WAR from 1950 through 1954. He is 38th in career complete games, with 305, but just 45th in strikeouts, with 2,357.

Robin threw 3475 2/3rd innings from 1949 through 1960, 290 per season, over 36 starts per year, with 49 more relief appearances in the 12 years. Those 49 games, which included 24 saves, are in a way more impressive than all the innings thrown: this guy fairly regularly would throw 18 innings in his two starts in a given week, and come into a third game to secure a victory. The saves didn’t come in pennant races or the postseason: they were apparently cases of the Phillies’ manager looking at his bullpen and deciding that Roberts was the best guy to hold onto a lead. People talk about pitchers being workhorses: Roberts is probably the least heralded and most impressive workhorse in baseball since World War II. It was his misfortune to pitch for a lot of Phillies teams that weren’t very good and didn’t even have the virtue of being memorably bad.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 9, 2016 at 2:55 pm  Comments (3)