Thursday, July 27, 2006

Editor's Note: There is almost literally nothing I like more than when one of my guest writers of the past writes to me--without prompting--offering an interesting story and does it in a way that I only need edit it slightly to produce a wonderful entry. So thank you, Chris Jaffe, and everyone else, enjoy the blog.

July 27th, 1946

Hal Newhouser Wins 20th Game

This game gave the Tigers a record of 52-39. Winning 20 games in 91 decisions is a pace no one has matched since then. Even Denny McLain took 100 decisions. The only person I know of to get to 20 before the team got to 100 decision came, incredibly, that same year in the same league when Bob Feller did it.

As a result of the game Newhouser was on pace for 34 wins. Neat.

Also, it meant the team was under .500 when he wasn't starting. [Ed. Note: Not so Neat.]

Want more? Well, he did it in 22 starts. I know Roger Clemens is the only person to ever have a record of 20-1, so Newhouser should've been 20-2 at the time. (I forget if he had any relief decisions that year but IIRC, he had no relief losses). It's especially interesting because there's always been a question about Newhouser - how good was he really? He had huge year, but they were in the uber-depleted seasons of 1944-5. 1946 was his only "real" season where he did great, and he fizzled shortly afterwards. Well, his performance that year indicates his fizzling was caused by arm erosion. He won more games by his 30th birthday than any other liveballer, and that took it's toll. (If you're curious, if you check the Hal Newhouser page of Baseball Reference’s Bullpen you'll see a list of all liveballers who won 150 before turning 30. There's only 16 and half blew their arms out in their early 30s; the other half largely just saw considerably reduced effectiveness.) Hal Newhouser won 188 games before turning 30. He won his 189th on his 30th birthday.

In many ways, this game marked his high tide as a pitcher. He didn't win again until August fifteenth and won only six more in the remaining sixty-three games. The next year he went 17-17. He was 25 years old in 1946, and this game marked his 108th career victory. He had only ninety-nine more left in his arm.

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