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Monday, November 13, 2006

Greg Luzinski

Eligible in 1990.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 13, 2006 at 08:43 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 13, 2006 at 08:50 PM (#2236633)
Dreadful outfielder, but "The Bull" hit majestic home runs.
   2. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 13, 2006 at 08:54 PM (#2236642)
A theoretical question for the group. MWE, you might have particular insight here.

Let's say a team had a Luzinski patrolling each outfield corner. Two historically bad corner guys. How good would the CF have to be for the outfield as a unit to net out as average? Is it even possible that a CF could make up for the Luzinskis' deficiencies afield?
   3. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:14 PM (#2236679)
Lets say Greg Luzinski plays from 1925-1940. Is he a Hall of Famer? Discuss.
   4. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:19 PM (#2236697)
Zop, are you saying that as in careers were lengthier starting around the 1970s onward, so that Luzinski's career would have looked more like a typical star's career back in the day? If so, I wonder the very same thing.
   5. 'zop sympathizes with the wrong ####### people Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:25 PM (#2236707)
Zop, are you saying that as in careers were lengthier starting around the 1970s onward, so that Luzinski's career would have looked more like a typical star's career back in the day? If so, I wonder the very same thing.

That, and everything else.

What if you put Luzinski in a smaller park, where FB's turn to homers?
What if you put Luzinski on natural grass
What if Luzinski patrolled a less-spacious outfield?
What if Luzinski played in the outlier-friendly 30's?


My point is that Luzinski was a player particularly ill-suited to the context of his times, and he could have come up during eras where I think he would have had a punchers chance at a HoF career.
   6. Steve Treder Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:31 PM (#2236712)
My point is that Luzinski was a player particularly ill-suited to the context of his times, and he could have come up during eras where I think he would have had a punchers chance at a HoF career.

That's true. But a far bigger problem for Luzinski was that he just couldn't control his weight, and as a result when he was just in his late 20s he quickly faded from major star to humdrum journeyman. There's little reason to imagine that dynamic changing if he was transported to a different team/era.
   7. DavidFoss Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:35 PM (#2236718)
My point is that Luzinski was a player particularly ill-suited to the context of his times, and he could have come up during eras where I think he would have had a punchers chance at a HoF career.

Well, he might just be better several *mistake* players of that era (of which there were plenty). Put him on a team with Frisch and he'd have a fine shot.

From a simple era-jump, his batting average rarely notable -- which is what HOF voters liked from that era.

Switching to the HOM, he's got nothing on Bob Johnson, not to mention Chuck Klein, Hack Wilson and wouldn't stand out compared to the Williamses (Ken & Cy) either. He's likely better than Manush and his bat compares well with guys like Cuyler.
   8. DavidFoss Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:40 PM (#2236726)
When the Sox experimented with shorts, I believe Luzinski was one of the players who they didn't look too flattering on.

Of course, today's fashions mean much larger and flattering shorts than they did back in the early 80s.

Still, I could never play baseball in shorts. I wear shorts most of the time (even to work), but all that sliding on dirt is just not suited for bare skin.
   9. Steve Treder Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:44 PM (#2236736)
When the Sox experimented with shorts, I believe Luzinski was one of the players who they didn't look too flattering on.

They were still wearing shorts when Luzinski played for the Sox? I thought that was just a Veeck thing in the '70s.

I was surprised to learn one time that the Hollywood Stars in the PCL wore shorts at many of their home games sometime in the late '40s or early '50s.

I agree that it's always seemed like a really bad idea to me. Talk about your bad sliding strawberries.
   10. rico vanian Posted: November 13, 2006 at 09:53 PM (#2236745)
Luzinski operates a restaurant at the Phillie's new ballpark (behind centerfield). It's a bar-b-que pit and he is often there (like Boog Powell in Baltimore). I shook his hand once and my hand just disappeared. He's still a big boy (actually much bigger!).
   11. DavidFoss Posted: November 13, 2006 at 10:02 PM (#2236759)
They were still wearing shorts when Luzinski played for the Sox? I thought that was just a Veeck thing in the '70s.

There go my fuzzy memories again. It was 1976 that they wore shorts. Dressed to the Nines doesn't have any shorts images at all.

I could have sworn I read some wise crack about Luzinski, Sox & shorts in an early-80s era issue of Sports Illustrated. Could have still been there, but I may have been too young to catch that the comment was witty speculation and turned it into my own urban myth. Sure enough, if you google "luzinski wearing shorts" then you do get a few hits, but it appears unlikely he wore them in a game.
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: November 13, 2006 at 10:08 PM (#2236769)
Luzinski was the Canseco of his day, no? Or the McGwire? I agree, put him in the '90s and he hits 50 a couple times and maybe 450 total. Different line.
   13. Boots Day Posted: November 13, 2006 at 10:11 PM (#2236777)
But a far bigger problem for Luzinski was that he just couldn't control his weight, and as a result when he was just in his late 20s he quickly faded from major star to humdrum journeyman.

Luzinski had a couple of off-seasons at ages 28-29, which I have no trouble believing were related to his weight. But he bounced back fairly strong when he got to the White Sox and was able to DH. He put up OPS+'s of 144, 130 and 129 in three years with the Sox, which are right in line with the rest of his career.

Then he had one stinky year at age 33, and was gone for good.
   14. rico vanian Posted: November 13, 2006 at 10:12 PM (#2236778)
I think this is Luzinski wearing the "Sox shorts":

http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/al/chisox/Soxshorts.JPG
   15. Steve Treder Posted: November 13, 2006 at 10:32 PM (#2236815)
Luzinski had a couple of off-seasons at ages 28-29, which I have no trouble believing were related to his weight. But he bounced back fairly strong when he got to the White Sox and was able to DH. He put up OPS+'s of 144, 130 and 129 in three years with the Sox, which are right in line with the rest of his career.

Significant off-seasons at ages 28 and 29 are something close to disastrous for a star's career.

And the 144 OPS+ came in the strike-shortened year. And the 130 and 129 are distinctly below the three-times-over-150-in-four-years pace he had been on in his good years. And any given OPS+ from a full-time DH has inherently less value than the same OPS+ from a full-time left fielder, even a lousy-fielding left fielder.

Luzinski's career took a major nosedive in his late 20s, he never fully resurrected it, and he was done at 33.
   16. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 13, 2006 at 10:42 PM (#2236825)
His son was drafted at some point late in the 1990s IIRC. Ryan Luzinski. I want to say by the Padres. Never made it.
   17. Rodder Posted: November 13, 2006 at 10:52 PM (#2236834)
Greg Luzinksi was my favorite player when I was a litte kid (maybe 7 to 10 years old)and is the reason the Phillies are my favorite team, even though I have spent my life living in North Dakota and California.
   18. Boots Day Posted: November 13, 2006 at 11:03 PM (#2236846)
Take out the two lost fatty years, and here's what Luzinski's OPS+s look like from when he became a regular at 21:

21: 119
22: 125
23: 99
24: 154
25: 137
26: 157
27: 153
28: --
29: --
30: 144
31: 130
32: 129
33: 89

A nice peak from 24-27, and a normal, gradual slide back to earth starting at age 30. Without the two lost years, it's a perfectly normal career path. The strike-shortened season and the DH devaluation are irrelevant to the fact that Luzinski was hitting in his early 30s exactly as well as should have been expected of him.

Luzinski's career is a lot like Dave Parker's, in that there's a hole cut out of what should have been his prime. And to a lesser extent, Jim Rice.
   19. BDC Posted: November 13, 2006 at 11:14 PM (#2236870)
Luzinski's career is a lot like Dave Parker's, in that there's a hole cut out of what should have been his prime. And to a lesser extent, Jim Rice

But Rice didn't become a full-time DH till he was 35; Parker, till he was 37. Those guys could weather some down hitting years in mid-career because they still had a little defensive value. Luzinski, after his 30th birthday, never played another game in the outfield, and only two games at first base. When Luzinski was 27, he was a defensive liability, and by the time he was 29, he was a hideous defensive liability.
   20. Steve Treder Posted: November 13, 2006 at 11:15 PM (#2236872)
Without the two lost years, it's a perfectly normal career path. The strike-shortened season and the DH devaluation are irrelevant to the fact that Luzinski was hitting in his early 30s exactly as well as should have been expected of him.

Well, first of all, I don't see why it's okay to just pretend the "two lost years" didn't happen ... without the assassination, Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln had a perfectly normal evening at the theatre. :-)

Second of all, looking strictly at a rate stat such as OPS+ isn't sufficient; playing time and defensive contribution do matter. Here's how Luzinki's career looks accoring to Win Shares:

19: 0
20: 4
21: 16
22: 21
23: 9
24: 28
25: 23
26: 30
27: 27
28: 13
29: 13
30: 15
31: 22
32: 20
33: 6

That's a significant drop-off from the mid-20s to the early 30s. And the abrupt cliff at age 33 isn't something to just ignore, either. Both Parker and Rice remained impactful players far deeper into their 30s than Luzinski.
   21. BDC Posted: November 13, 2006 at 11:25 PM (#2236888)
I'm just playing the tag-team game "Agree With Steve Treder" :) One reason that '79 and '80 were such miserable years for Luzinski was that he couldn't play National League baseball anymore. It wasn't that he was acutely injured or AWOL or on drugs, it was that he couldn't drag himself around left field any more; he had to be caddied for whenever possible. And then his caddies started to hit better than he did (Lonnie Smith).

He was one of my favorites too, though. Oddly enough I preferred Mike Schmidt in the mid-1970s, when Luzinski was the better hitter. I have a soft spot for .250 hitters who strike out a lot, and Luzinski was a little too perfect for my tastes. And Schmidt was such a dazzling infielder. So in my quest for someone less perfect to admire, I wound up with a first-ballot HOFer for a favorite player ...
   22. Steve Treder Posted: November 13, 2006 at 11:32 PM (#2236901)
One reason that '79 and '80 were such miserable years for Luzinski was that he couldn't play National League baseball anymore.

Well, that in combination with the dramatic drop in hitting performance.

What I could never figure out about Luzinski was why the Phillies insisted on keeping him in left field. He was a first baseman in the minors, and only shifted to LF as a rookie in 1972 in order to make room for Deron Johnson at 1B ... I thought at the time that it would have made more sense to move/trade Johnson to accomodate Luzkinski, who'd absolutely destroyed the minor leagues.

Then they moved Willie Montanez in from the outfield to take over at first for Johnson. Okay, Montanez was a far better defensive first baseman than an outfielder, but wouldn't you put Luzinski at 1B and Montanez in LF instead of the other way around?

Following Montanez, the Phillies acquired Dick Allen to play 1B, then converted Richie Hebner into a first baseman, then Pete Rose. All the while Luzinski continued to waddle around out in left field. My constant reaction at the time was, WTF?
   23. Boots Day Posted: November 13, 2006 at 11:55 PM (#2236925)
Luzinski, after his 30th birthday, never played another game in the outfield, and only two games at first base.

And those two games were a tuneup in the hopes that he'd have to play some first base in the 1983 World Series.


What I could never figure out about Luzinski was why the Phillies insisted on keeping him in left field.

The White Sox had the good sense to DH him even though that meant Ron Kittle had to play left field.
   24. AndrewJ Posted: November 14, 2006 at 12:43 AM (#2236968)
Luzinski was the Canseco of his day, no? Or the McGwire?

He was the Bobby Bonilla to Schmidt's Barry Bonds.

I have a 1971 Phillies yearbook -- turns out Luzinski's pre-"Bull" nickname was "Hoss."
   25. Ed Kline Posted: August 02, 2008 at 03:31 AM (#2887366)
Some thingsI havent seen mentioned about the brevity of Luzinskis career.


1) He had a devastating injury in 1974 that took away the speed he had. Before this injury he was oddly quick for someone so naturally ( without the help of heavy weightlifting or steroids) big. This also may have contributed to the weight gain later.

2) He had bad eyesight. He wore contacts during much of his career. There was no Lasix back in 83.
   26. TomH Posted: August 02, 2008 at 12:54 PM (#2887462)
As a teenager living near The City of Brotherly Love, I was shocked to read in the papers in 76, when the Phils first won a division and were hoping for a World Series, the brass began to speculate who would DH if they got there. You would not believe that they were considering one of their backup OFers (may have been Jerry Martin?) as a DH, because they felt the Bull would not adjust well to the pinch-hitter type role... he needed, it seemed, to be on the field. No kidding.
   27. asinwreck Posted: August 02, 2008 at 02:43 PM (#2887491)
I think this is Luzinski wearing the "Sox shorts":

http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/al/chisox/Soxshorts.JPG


Looks like Brian Downing -- who was on the team when the shorts were tried out in 1976 -- to me. The image I have of Luzinski in Sox pajamas is his Sports Illustrated cover. Those were some hefty hamstrings.

My favorite memories of Luzinski were watching the one game per year when LaRussa sent him into second base for an uncontested steal attempt, followed by a huge cloud of dust -- because he slid anyway -- and general bafflement on the field.
   28. Paul Wendt Posted: August 03, 2008 at 05:27 AM (#2888235)
> I have a 1971 Phillies yearbook -- turns out Luzinski's pre-"Bull" nickname was "Hoss."

Does it say anything about Mike Anderson or Mike Schmidt? Some people expected a lot from them.
   29. Scott Simkus Posted: August 03, 2008 at 01:07 PM (#2888287)
Greg "Hoss" Luzinski was a catcher and star fullback (and punter!) for a Catholic HS (Notre Dame) located in Chicago's northwest suburbs. At the public school (Prospect), just ten minutes away, was a tall, lanky guy named Dave Kingman. Kingman was a year ahead of Bull, I mean "Hoss," but the two dominated the local sports pages. Kingman was a stud basketball guy during the winter... 20+ points per game. Sometimes outshing both in the local coverage was a 6'4" guy named Tom Lundstedt. TL was Kingman's catcher at Prospect, QB of the football team, and headed to the University of Michigan. Lundstedt became Michigans baseball captain his second year, was drafted by the Cubs, and hit .092 in 65 MLB at bats. Now for some silly stats. After his junior year, Luzinski played for the Logan Square Lions- American Leagion- and hit .384 in 40+ games. Lead the team with 41 RBI. The team was only 18-25. That same summer, Kingman's team was 29-7, Kong stroked for a .291 average in 86 at bats and was 8-5 on the bump. Lundstedt hit .389. During the High School season, Kingman hit .339 his senior year (after topping .500 as a junior), with 5 HR and 15 RBI in 18 games. His last game he hit three homers, the newspaper claimed all of which travelled over 450 feet, one approaching 600. He had mostly been known as a star pitcher up to this point. His senior year pitching line: 67-1/3 IP, 17 hits, 71 BB!, 121 K, 1.60era, 7-4 record. The team finished 13-4. Lundstedt was 6-0 on the hill, batted .464. Kingman/Lundstedt always had winning teams, Luzinski's hovered around .500 or below.
   30. AndrewJ Posted: August 03, 2008 at 01:47 PM (#2888294)
Does it say anything about Mike Anderson or Mike Schmidt? Some people expected a lot from them.

Nope. Schmidt wasn't even drafted by the Phillies until June of '71.

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