Saturday, August 20, 2005

 
Editor's Note: Generally what I do here is history. Sometime--ok, quite a bit--I slip some editorial in there, and maybe try to look at things a new way. But usually it's just telling a story that's been told, just making sure it's not forgotten. Chris Jaffe however, is more of a 'breaking new ground' kind of guy. He's done great work on his site, from chronicalling walk-off grand slams to the amazing "Run Support Index" which tracks the run support--park and era adjusted--for nearly every notable pitcher. Today he writes about a subject I usually shy away from, 1800's ballplayers, in this case, one of the more underappreciated ones.

August 20th, 1880

Pud Galvin Throws a No-Hitter


Pud Galvin’s one of the stranger pitchers in the encyclopedia. With the possible exception of Bobby Mathews, no other pitcher had a career quite so foreign to the modern observer. From one perspective he’s a clear cut Hall of Fame great pitcher. He is second on the all-times innings pitched list. More impressively, he’s fifth on the wins list. He’s in the top ten in games started (8th), and complete games (2nd). Even more impressively he did it while playing part of his career in the International League when it attempted to start not a minor league (which it became) but a rival to the NL. Had he played in the NL instead he likely would have broken the 400 win barrier and possibly had more wins than even Walter Johnson.

Yet he’s still one of the least respected 300 game winners. Bill James didn’t put him in the top 100 pitchers in the New Historical Abstract. Though he’s 6th in wins, he’s 2nd in losses. His winning percentage is an underwhelming .540. His ERA+ is a mere 108. He never led the league in wins, winning percentage, or strikeouts, and the only time he led the league in ERA was the 1875 NA. Aside from his NA ERA title, he led baseball in some counting stats in 1883 (IP, GS, CG, G), and shutouts twice.

He’s a triumph of counting stats, and he played in an era when pitchers racked up an ungodly number of innings each year. Most, including John Clarkson, Old Hoss Radbourn, and Jim McCormick, had their arms fall off after about a decade but Galvin kept going for 15 years (including the NA but not the IA). Not only was he an amazing workhorse by modern standards, but even compared to his peers who pitched from 50 feet - Mickey Welch, Tim Keefe, Old Hoss Radbourn, Silver King, Will White, Jim McCormick, Tony Mullane, John Clarkson, and Bobby Mathews - from the plate he stands out as the consummate innings eater. No one had more years of 600+ IP than him. Only Jim McCormick had more years at 500+ innings, and Galvin had almost twice as many seasons at 400+ innings than McCormick. He had 9 years with at least 400 innings, while none of the other 1880s pitchers had 8 seasons, and only two had 7. He leads in 300+ innings years, and 200+ innings years as well. He clearly appears to be nothing more than a barely above average innings eater who fluked his way into the record books because he happened to pitch at a time when pitchers ate more innings than at any other period. He looks to be nothing more than a Glorified Steve Trachsel. Clearly that’s what his ERA+ indicates.

But that’s where the worm starts to turn. His ERA+ is mediocre, but how indicative is it of his overall talent. I have a stat I call my defensive adjustment. It’s very simple. Take a copy of Win Shares, and add up all the fielding win shares given out in a given season, divide by the league’s total IP, and multiply by a pitcher’s own IP. Then take the fielding win shares for the pitcher’s team, divide by team IP, and multiply by the pitcher’s IP. The difference between these two is the defensive adjustment. According to its results, Pud Galvin received some of the worst defensive support of all time. Of the 190+ pitchers I have checked on, only five had worse fielding support.

More impressively, this happened at a time when fielding support appears to be at an all-time high in importance. Below is a list of the career fielding support for some of the most important pre-1893 pitchers (also includes their ERA+ at the end):


John Clarkson +29.9, 134
Al Spalding +18.5, 142
Tony Mullane +17.5, 118
Jim McCormick +16.7, 118
Bob Caruthers +16.6, 123

Old Hoss Radbourn +15.7, 120
Tim Keefe +15.1, 125
Tommy Bond +14.3, 111
Charlie Buffington +11.9, 114
Silver King +11.5, 123

John Ward +9.5, 118
Will White +8.5, 120
Bobby Mathews +8.2, 107
Bill Hutchinson +6.8, 112
Mickey Welch +5.4, 113

Candy Cummings +5.4, 120
Jim Whitney -2.2, 105
Pud Galvin -7.3, 108

Though these pitchers make up about 10% of the pitchers I have figured the adjustment for, they make up half of the pitchers in its top 16. If you think about it, there’s a logic to it. Pitchers tallied those insane IP totals, indicating that either their arms were of superhuman strength or that an inning pitched was not as valuable as it would later be. If it wasn’t as valuable then what element of baseball would pick up the slack in its value? Defense is a logical place for it to be.

His ERA+ is not impressive, but in the context of his defensive support, Pud Galvin’s ERA+ is frankly remarkable. He combined an incredible ability to pitch a huge amount of innings with high quality pitching that doesn’t show up in his ERA+. The man, IMHO, is a legitimate Hall of Famer. The Steve Trachsel of the 1880s? More like the Bert Blyleven or Don Sutton.


Friday, August 19, 2005

 

Editor's Note: Today my guest writer is my one-time high school baseball teammate Evan Drellich. Evan is a devoted Mets' fan and equally devoted Yankees' hater. We often find ourselves in disagreements, that run from the expected (Jose Reyes vs. Derek Jeter) to the bizarre (the population of Morris, New Jersey in 1986). Despite this, Evan is one of the most knowledgeable baseball fans I know, as his essay on the one of the great pitchers of all-time proves.

August 19th, 2000

Boston Defeats Texas

On the afternoon of Saturday, August 19th, 2000, Pedro Martinez treated over 33,000 Fenway-faithful to 7 innings of 3-hit ball, walking none and striking out 10 along the way. Bryce Florie finished off the game en route to a 9-0 Red Sox win, the team’s 4th consecutive victory. Pedro’s record improved to 14-4 with the W, and he would win 4 of his next and final 5 decisions in 2000. Martinezs older brother, Ramon, would also win 10 games for the Red Sox that season and lose just 8, despite pitching horridly to the tune of a 6.13 ERA. Boston would finish 85-77, 6 games behind the wildcard-winning Seattle Mariners and just 2 games behind their rival Yankees in the East. Considering the Red Sox allowed fewer runs than any other American League team at a rate of 4.6 runs per game, Red Sox fans had to be disappointed that their team missed the playoffs. But realistically, they should not have been too surprised: the Boston bats could only muster a measly 4.89 runs per game, good enough for 3rd worst in the league.

Pedro Jaime Martinez can be credited with single handedly keeping the Red Sox alive and kicking in 2000, the year in which he won his 3rd Cy Young award. A Scorpio born in Manoguayabo of the
Dominican Republic, Martinez was a lean 511” in his prime, and featured a high-90’s fastball, a circle change, and curveball--all with excellent movement. Martinez is best known for threatening to wake up Babe Ruth and drill him in the ass, hurling elderly Yankee bench coaches to the ground during playoff brawls, jheri curls, and for providing two thought-provoking questions: Who is Karim Garcia? and Whos your daddy?

One thing
s for sure, Pedro Martinez was the Daddy to every lineup he faced in 2000, making opposing hitters look like children. Pedros brilliance at the turn of the century remains unparalleled, and is exemplified by three numbers: 1.74, .74, and 13.21. 1.74, Pedros 2000 ERA, is not the lowest ever in Major League Baseball history--it doesnt even make the top 100. But when his ERA is compared to the league average, Pedro ends up with an ERA+ of 292, the best of anyone since 23-year old Tom Keefe in 1880. However, not even the great Keefe put up a WHIP better than Martinezs 2000 mark of .74, which stands as the best WHIP of any pitcher, ever. Pedros success was not due to some rare ability to induce weakly hit pop-ups or groundouts, rather, batters simply could not make contact with the ball at all: Pedro struck out hitters at a rate of 13.21 per 9 innings in 2000, which stands as the second best strikeout rate for a single season, behind only the Randy Johnson of 2001. On top of it all, Pedro finished the 2000 season with the third best K/BB rate for an individual season since 1884, striking out 8.875 batters for every 1 he walked.

From 1997-2002, the game reached higher amounts of runs scored than ever before during what will forever be known as the steroids era, and Pedro Martinez just didn
t care. All he could do was get people out. And as ESPNs David Schoenfield attests to, during those six seasons, Pedro was the most dominating pitcher in the games history. Through 2004, Pedro holds the best career mark for: ERA+ at 167, winning percentage at .705, OBP-allowed (best since 1920) at .269, WHIP at 1.03, K/BB at 4.314. Pedro also holds the 3rd best mark for career batting average against at .209, behind Ryans .204 and Koufaxs .205 as well the 3rd best mark for career K/9 at 10.40, behind Johnson and Wood.

Pedro Martinez will reach
Cooperstown, with the reputation of an intimidator, for both his ability to get you out, and to knock you down--hes 6th on the active list for hit batsmen, with the 5 pitchers in front of him an average of 7 years older. However, not all of Martinezs individual highlights lie on top 10 lists: In 1995, before Pedro truly reached his prime, he pitched 9 innings of a perfect game only to lose it in the 10th, as his Expos could score no runs behind him. In 1999, Pedro was named the All-Star Game MVP, striking out 5 of the 6 batters he faced--including the first four--in front of his hometown Fenway crowd. He once struck out 17 Yankees, and has pitched 6-innings of hitless postseason ball in relief, while injured.

Pedro continues to dominate today having moved to the more pitcher-friendly National League and Shea Stadium, and looks to solidify his case to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer as his career winds down. But his post-peak career, as good as it may be, is not what I am looking to comment on. From 1997-2002, and especially in 2000, Pedro Martinez pitched at level higher than anyone in the history of baseball. An argument may be made that a young Dwight Gooden or, more realistically, the great Sandy Koufax, have also known this level of pitching greatness, but the numbers
are in Old Peteys favor. Not that Martinez flies under the radar as a premier pitcher; rather, just how dominant Pedro really was during a time when the game was owned by hitters goes underappreciated. As David Segui, formerly of the Seattle Mariners once said, If the Lord were a pitcher, he would pitch like Pedro.

Any comments about Pedro Martinez or this analysis? Drop a line to me at edrelli1@binghamton.edu. Let
s Go Mets!


Thursday, August 18, 2005

 

Editor's Note: Today I turn the blog back over to my cousin, Joshua Stober. Joshua, who described Hideki Irabu's Yankee Stadium debut back in July, writes today about another Yankee, one more fondly remembered by the Yankee Stadium faithful.



August 18th, 1931

Lou Gehrig Continues Streak

Two events in baseball history pique my interest with this date. The one I chose not to cover, which I hope Richard will take on next year, is Ted Williams calling his $12,500 salary “peanuts.” Thoughts on the ridiculous salary structure of baseball today aside, I’ve instead chosen to look at one of baseballs more noble streaks.

Lou Gehrig reached a milestone 1000th consecutive game in his streak on this date. Gehrig’s story is a well known one; struck down by ALS which ended his streak on
May 2nd, 1939 and ended his life just a few years later, Gehrig held one of the greatest nicknames in all nickname history: the iron horse. In my mind, what makes Gehrig’s streak even more impressive is that he chose to stop playing when no one else, not even his manager, would ask him to sit down. Fellow players could see the obvious and knew that something was wrong, but it took Gehrig to know that he no longer held the talent to perform on the level he knew he could perform at on a day to day basis for the Yankees.

Baseball’s other “iron” player, with the much less cool “iron man” moniker (which if you ask me is better fit for a guy like Lance Armstrong) is of course Cal Ripken, Jr. Many criticized Ripken for continuing to play well beyond when he broke Gehrig’s streak, which I myself don’t see as much of a problem. No one told Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire to stop hitting home runs one past the mark that had been set for them.

The problem of course with Ripken was that he didn’t always have the seasons that Gehrig was having. Ripken only batted over .300 five times during his career, while Gehrig did it for every season from his rookie year until 1938, when it dropped to .295 (which just happened to be his batting average his first full season with the Yankees.) Ripken repeatedly batted well below .295 and his Orioles teams were only once world champs.

It makes you think, had ALS not stricken Gehrig, he would have had at least three or four good seasons left before World War II sent the boys to war. It begs the question of whether or not Ripken could have even broken that streak, especially with the stats that Gehrig had.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

 

Editor's Note: According to BaseballReference.com, through the 2004 season Australia had sent sixteen players to the Major Leagues, or roughly .01% percent of all Major Leaguers. I don't know what percentage of fans of MLB are Australian, one imagines that percentage is about the same but it doesn't make them any less as fans. There is perhaps no better evidence of that than today's guest writer, Phil Coorey. An Aussie, Phil is nonetheless a diehard member of Red Sox Nation and another Baseball Think Factory regular. Phil has made not one, but two trips to America for the express purpose of seeing baseball games; he describes one of the trips here. Today Phil discusses his appreciation for a man that many of his fellow Sox fans regard as emblematic of the Evil Empire that plays to south of them.



August 17th, 2000

Alex Rodriguez Homers

On this day in 2002 years ago Alex Rodriguez became the first infielder to compile five consecutive 40 home run seasons. While he is not a favourite of many fans these days with some on field antics. He is truly an amazing player whose feats are being undermined by stupid tabloid journalism.

He would repeat the act in 2003 with 47 home runs and tie the record of 7 consecutive seasons with 40 or more home runs in a season set by none other than Babe Ruth.

Unfortunately his quest for 8 straight seasons fell 4 home runs short as he adjusted the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. This year he has 36 home runs already and barring injury will repeat the amazing feat again.

I hope when the dust settles on his career that people realize they witnessed one of the greatest players ever to play the game of baseball.


Tuesday, August 16, 2005

 

Editor's Note: Today Will Young takes his turn pinch-hitting in the "Annotated This Day" line-up. Will writes a frequently excellent Twins' blog at Will Young's Twins Page and is a member in good-standing of two communities I hold dear. The first is academic, as Will is a 'Colonial' having not only graduated from The George Washington University but also pursuing his advanced degree there. The second is that of the 'Primates' who spend way too much time discussing baseball of today and yesterday at Baseball Think Factory. Today, he discusses an event virtually unknown in the modern game, but one familiar to fans of a different era.





August 16th, 1892

Senators Forfeit Game


I have seen many strange things happen in baseball games throughout my relatively brief life. Some of these things, I have seen in person (a no-hitter), or on television (a perfect game), or delayed (a hidden ball trick). However, one occurrence that I have yet to observe is the time-honored practice of forfeiting a game.

In the early days of baseball, forfeited games were quite common. In fact, thirteen games were forfeited in 1884 alone (my guess would be that most players and managers were disgruntled about the fact Grover Cleveland had a premarital affair while James Blaine was in the back pocket of the railroaders). To simply, however, one team simply refused to continue playing after disagreeing with a decision by the umpire in most instances. My favorite forfeiture from that season occurred when the umpire forgot to appear, and a manager was chosen as the replacement umpire. He promptly made numerous calls in favor of his team before the opponent decided to stop playing.

Flash forward eight years, and, on this date in 1892, the Pittsburg Pirates were awarded a 9-0 forfeit win against the Washington Senators. Right from the start, the game was played under unusual circumstances as both teams seemed to want to play physically. The exact term used in the newspaper the next day referred to the game as a “chewing match.” With approximately 1,500 spectators on hand, the game plodded along tied at two. At this point, the game began to get interesting.

[Washington] attempted a trick which came within an ace of being successful. [Catcher, Deacon] McGuire was told to play off second, while [Tun] Berger was ‘tipped’ to try and steal home if [pitcher Adonis] Terry threw to second to catch McGuire napping. The throw was made, when Berger made a dash for home. Bauer [his name was actually Bierbauer but the Washington Post screwed it up] made a beautiful return of the ball, and by the time [Connie] Mack got the ball on Berger the latter was within an inch of the plate and sliding over the ground as if he was on wheels. It was a close shave, and would be successful oftener than it would miss.

The game continued tied at two runs apiece until the bottom of the tenth inning. Frank Shugart, who just one year later would be traded along with $500 for Jack Glasscock, narrowly beat an errant throw to first base. The Senators complained to the umpire, known only to the records as “Mr. Mitchell”, but he refused to budge because “the rules say give the base runner the benefit of the doubt”. Of course, the next batter, George Frederick “Doggie” Miller was hit in the arm with a pitch that was, in the words of the anonymous Washington Post columnist “a ‘little’ inside”.

Miller promptly dropped his bat and headed towards first base while every member of the Senators began wildly protesting that he had deliberately allowed the ball to hit him. Perched on first base, Miller “maintained with the air of a man arguing for his life that he had tried to get out of the way of the ball, but couldn’t.” Danny Richardson, the Senators player-manager, exclaimed, “Put him on the oath and he will have to admit that he is not entitled to the base.” In fact, there were many in the park, including Pittsburg fans, who felt that he was not entitled to the base.

Despite the protestations, Mr. Mitchell refused to return Doggie Miller to home plate. The Senators continued to kick around the field and ignored a warning from the umpire to return to action. At this point, Mr. Mitchell declared the game forfeited, and the Pirates was awarded a 9-0 win. The Pirates immediately picked up their equipment and scurried off of the field while the Senators slowly made their way towards the dressing-room. The fans suffered worst in the mess as they dispersed “fully convinced that the great American game had been sadly marred by a piece of rank, incompetent umpiring.”

Someday, maybe someday soon with all the craziness happening in baseball (games ending in throws back to the pitcher, for example), another game will be forfeited and I will hopefully be able to take in the scene. As it is, the closest occurrence that I have watched to this one hundred and thirteen year old game happened earlier this year when “Doggie” Crede was not awarded first base and Oakland spectators were not forced to endure “a piece of rank, incompetent umpiring”.

Sources:


The material for this entry came primarily from two sources. First, Retrosheet was used for the basic information on the players and the game. Then, the blanks were filled in with the anonymous article “Forfeited to Pittsburg” on page six of the August 17, 1892 Washington Post accessed via ProQuest. Interestingly enough, the “h” apparently was not yet a part of Pittsburgh’s name, but that seems to be a story for another time and another place.

Monday, August 15, 2005

 

Editor's Note: Today my mother, Penny Craven takes over the blog. While my mother can maintain a certain level of distance from the game--she is, for example, able to fall asleep during relatively close playoff games whereas I am hardly able to breathe during relatively close playoff games--in her own way, she is exactly as large a fan as my father and I. Like all fans, she has suffered disappointments with her team on the field, in this case, quite literally.



August 15th, 1959

I Fail to Meet Mickey Mantle

I was a huge Yankees fan as a little kid. My father grew up in the Bronx, not far from Yankee Stadium; he and my grandmother were both avid fans and, like my son Richard, I grew up with the Yankees in my blood.

My father owned a film production company. One of his early jobs was producing a “Visiting Heads of State” series, documenting the visits of assorted princes, presidents and prime ministers including, in 1959, Prince Sihanouk of Cambodia and the Shah of Iran. Whether they requested it or were merely following a set itinerary, many of these visiting dignitaries ended up at a Yankee game in New York, meeting the players and strolling on the field.

To my great delight, a few days after my 9th birthday, my father invited me to come to the stadium with him during one of these shoots, promising a visit to the dugout. I arrived bursting with anticipation, sporting a large button of my favorite player, Mickey Mantle. Dodging the ushers, I ran down the steps to the field, and my father lifted me over the fence.

Instead of heading for the Yankee dugout, however, I was led, inexplicably, in the other direction. Even at 9, I knew I didn’t want to meet the Red Sox but I was given no choice. As my father blithely chatted with Ted Williams, the manager, whose name I have totally blanked out forever, dutifully led me through the dugout and I politely if unenthusiastically shook hands with the team members sitting there. Still hoping to meet the Yankees, I tugged my father away but too late, the game was about to start and we were escorted off the field.

I never did meet Mickey Mantle, or any of the Yankees for that matter, but I’ve never stopped cheering for them. I’ll always root for the home team in another ball park (providing they’re not playing the Yankees, of course). But the Yankees are my team, first, best, and always.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

 
Editor's Note: I have, to this point, personally written--or at least typed--all but one of the entries that have appeared under the Annotated Day banner. This is however, my only full week between the end of my summer occupation and the return to my final year of school. I am therefore taking it off, and entrusting these days to a variety of guest writers. The first is my father, Ernest. The man is, more than anyone else, the reason I follow the Yankees beyond all logic and the reason I write this blog. Today he discusses one of the more underappreciated players in Yankee history, a man Bill James ranks as the twenty-fifth best left fielder in history, ahead of names like Jim Rice, Joe Carter and Kirk Gibson.


August 14th, 1979

Rangers Play at Yankees

1979 was not a good year for the Yankees. Nor was it a good year for Roy White. It was Roy’s last year with the team. This game was indicative though, of Roy’s play for the Yankees and why he is my favorite Yankee I have seen play, no small feat as I have seen practically every Yankee from Yogi Berra to Derek Jeter, even as much as it pains me to admit it, Horace Clarke.

Going into the bottom of the eighth the Yanks trailed 3-5. After Nettles made out, Piniella doubled and went to third on an error. Roy pinch hit and singled, driving in Piniella. 5-4 Texas. He later scored on a Bobby Murcer home run. 6-5 Yankees. Roy drove in the 4th Yankee run and scored the 5th and tying run. It was a quintessential Roy White performance; he simply did his job and the Yankees won with Roy right in the middle of it.

When you see those clips of Bucky Dent’s famous (or if you’re a Boston Fan, infamous) home run, notice
Roy greeting Bucky at home plate. He was on base when the ball cleared the Green Monster. As a matter of fact look at any of the clips from the era of the “Bronx Zoo” Yankees; you’ll be amazed at how often you see Roy right there in the middle of the action. He played with grace and a quiet fire. I suspect he didn’t like to lose or to call attention to himself. He was a homegrown Yankee who was always right there when something good happened to the Yankees.

Sometime in the near future I imagine Joe Torre’s number six will be retired to Monument Park. I look forward to the day when I am sitting in the stands and the guy next to me is trying to remember who all the numbers belong to. When he gets to 6 I am going to say Roy White.


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