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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hal McRae

Eligible in 1993.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2007 at 02:37 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2007 at 02:39 PM (#2277549)
The greatest DH when he retired?
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: January 10, 2007 at 03:35 PM (#2277595)
Bill James has McRae as the #53 LF, just behind Kenny Williams, Kevin Mitchell and Lefty O'Doul, and just ahead of Dusty Baker, Willie Horton, Tommy Harper, Gene Woodling, Rico Carty, Hank Sauer, Chick Hafey, George Bell, Ben Oglivie, Lonnie Smith, Greg Vaughn, Joe Rudi, Tommy Davis, Ron Gant.... Hard to believe Tommy D is down amongst such riff-raff.

Among all of them, McRae is near the top in career WS (230), in the mid to bottom for 3 years, mid for 5 years, and booootttooommm for WS/162. Gary Matthews is ahead of the whole bunch, based on 257 career WS. For peak and rate he's amongst the rest that I named.

If James has guys like Bobby Veach and Bob Johnson 20 or more places ahead of him despite his timeline, he's not a candidate. He doesn't make my top 100, nor even my newly minted top 125.
   3. DavidFoss Posted: January 10, 2007 at 03:57 PM (#2277614)
The greatest DH when he retired?

Was he the first full-time career DH? I guess that's hard to define, but it seemed like the DH was for old-timers, the injured, guys waiting to find a spot in a stocked lineup (EMurray, JRice), etc... that is, until guys like McRae, Baylor and Thornton came around.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 10, 2007 at 04:14 PM (#2277629)
   5. Traderdave Posted: January 10, 2007 at 04:25 PM (#2277636)
That HOF has only 1 inductee: Lee Elia
   6. Padgett Posted: January 10, 2007 at 04:33 PM (#2277642)
He's certainly in the managerial post-game press conference Hall of Fame

The sped-up version of that is awesome, particularly the end.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 10, 2007 at 04:59 PM (#2277660)
That HOF has only 1 inductee: Lee Elia

Way behind the NFL which has Jim Mora, Herm Edwards, and 2007 inductee Denny Green.
   8. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 10, 2007 at 05:42 PM (#2277697)
Wow. The funny thing is, I was just wondering to myself what it was about McRae that made him an unsuccessful manager. Well, I guess I know what to put in my pipe and smoke on that account.

And that poor guy who had what looked like blood on his cheek. Musta got hit by the phone or tape machine or something. I bet Hal owed him an apology.
   9. Guapo Posted: January 10, 2007 at 05:55 PM (#2277713)
The game which precipitated McRae's meltdown was on April 26, 1993. Here's the boxscore:
Boxscore

Thing is, the reporter asked a pretty good question. The Royals are down 5-1 in the 7th, the bases are loaded, and Keith Miller, who came into the game with a .176 avg, is up. McRae has George Brett on the bench. Miller started at DH because the Tigers started a lefty, Tom Bolton, but Dave Haas, a righty, was pitching in the 7th. So you've got to figure that would have been a pretty good time to pinchhit with Brett...

Hal, if you're reading this, please don't throw anything.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 10, 2007 at 06:05 PM (#2277726)
Wow. The funny thing is, I was just wondering to myself what it was about McRae that made him an unsuccessful manager. Well, I guess I know what to put in my pipe and smoke on that account.

He was criticized a lot for playing favorites and not handling young players well. The tirade came in 1993. In 1994, fans booed him after a pitching change, after which he said:

"It's ridiculous....If they are booing the strategy, they are the dumbest fans in the world....It's wrong for me to say, and it ain't going to help me, but I'm going to say it anyway. They can ride me out of this town and I'll go out smiling."


In all fairness, the pitching change was justified (lifting Rusty Meachem for LOOGY Billy Brewer to face a lefty hitter - Brewer retired the hitter). But it was clear McRae had PR problems. The 1994 Royals were pretty mediocre all year, then reeled off a fourteen game win streak just before the strike. It wasn't enough to save Hal, and the team decided to embark on a youth movement and that Hal wasn't the man to lead them through the youth movement.

That led to Bob Boone. Dark days.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 10, 2007 at 06:07 PM (#2277732)
One last note. Hal was actually offered the Royals managerial job late in 1987 after Billy Gardner was canned and just after Hal was released as a player. He turned them down and the job went to John Wathan.
   12. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: January 10, 2007 at 08:30 PM (#2277862)
He was criticized a lot for playing favorites and not handling young players well.

True.

That led to Bob Boone.

Who certainly made McRae (the manager) seem not so bad in retrospect.
   13. Suff Posted: January 10, 2007 at 08:47 PM (#2277879)
There's something wrong with blaming the Royals' managers, it seems (although I haven't thought any of them were particularly good since Howser). After Gardner, they hired Wathan. The team never could get past the A's and he had a weird infatuation with Tat Pabler (as my grandpa called him). But McRae did worse than Wathan, overall. They fired McRae and hired Boone. Boone did worse than McRae, so they hired Tony Muser. Muser completed the descent into the worst team in baseball, so they hired Tony Pena. Except for 2003 (which was fun), Pena's teams did even worse than Muser's, so they hired Buddy Bell, and his teams have been even worse than Pena's. There was a time when I thought firing Hal McRae was the turning-point decision that brought the Royals down, but it's hard to make that claim, unless you truly believe each field manager the Royals have hired has been worse than the previous one. I was glad, though, when Hal got another chance at managing, but it was with the only situation worse than Kansas City.
   14. Catfish326 Posted: January 10, 2007 at 09:26 PM (#2277925)
I met Hal McRae. Seemed like a great guy, and a damn good hitter.
   15. Catfish326 Posted: January 10, 2007 at 09:28 PM (#2277928)
Look at the spelling of Hal's last name above. His entire career, the spelling of his name was always butchered. What player had the name most notorious for the butcher block? I think of Craig Graig Nettles.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 10, 2007 at 10:13 PM (#2277969)
For the first six years of Manny's career, I thought his last name was Rameriz.
   17. Zach Posted: January 10, 2007 at 10:34 PM (#2277990)
There was a time when I thought firing Hal McRae was the turning-point decision that brought the Royals down, but it's hard to make that claim, unless you truly believe each field manager the Royals have hired has been worse than the previous one.

The terrible supply of pitching is a better place to look.

Royals' ERA leaders by year since 1990:
Appier, Saberhagen, Appier, Appier, Cone, Gubicza, Appier, Appier, Belcher, Rosado, Suzuki, Suppan, Byrd, May, May, Greinke, Redman

The decline in quality after Appier got hurt is just ridiculous.
   18. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 10, 2007 at 11:50 PM (#2278046)
The 1985-86 Royals had two players, Hal McRae and Jorge Orta, who had 300 or more PA* a season while never playing an inning in the field. I don't remember any other team that simultaneously used up two roster spots on the DH position for an extended period of time. Is this unique?

I'd also point out that the 1985 Royals won the World Series that year...

* In 1986, McRae had 299 PA. The point still stands.
   19. Paul Wendt Posted: January 11, 2007 at 01:59 AM (#2278121)
Look at the spelling of Hal's last name above. His entire career, the spelling of his name was always butchered. What player had the name most notorious for the butcher block? I think of Craig Graig Nettles.

Spalding.

Maybe someone can use google to find a name whose correct spelling and most popular incorrect spelling have nearly equal support. I think you mean that a particular misspelling is rampant, not merely a name that is frequently misspelled but in multiple ways because it is complicated, like Yaz (Jazz, Yazz, Yaz, Yass, Yes).
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 11, 2007 at 02:44 AM (#2278142)
There was a time when I thought firing Hal McRae was the turning-point decision that brought the Royals down, but it's hard to make that claim, unless you truly believe each field manager the Royals have hired has been worse than the previous one.

I have an essay on the 1994 season, a turning point for the franchise here. Ewing Kauffman died in 1993, and David Glass effectively took over the franchise in '94 and took the team on a youth movement in 1995. That was what took them from a pretty mediocre franchise, which is what they had been from 1986-1995, to a pathetically awful franchise.
   21. Urban Faber Posted: January 11, 2007 at 02:58 AM (#2278146)
Look at the spelling of Hal's last name above. His entire career, the spelling of his name was always butchered. What player had the name most notorious for the butcher block? I think of Craig Graig Nettles.

I'm amazed at how often I have seen "Ripkin" over the years.
   22. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 11, 2007 at 03:10 AM (#2278154)
At Fenway Park, I once saw Hal McRae foul six baseballs high and directly behind him, including two that appeared to sail up over the press box, and out onto the street. This occurred during the course of two consecutive at-bats. I have no idea whether this was notable in any way, and I don't really know why I remember it.
   23. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 11, 2007 at 03:12 AM (#2278155)
Oft-misspelled sluggers: Bobby Thompson, Eddie Matthews, and Mark McGuire. But not Mel Ot.
   24. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 11, 2007 at 11:33 AM (#2278311)
I fixed the title of the thread, so no one ends up thinking McRae is wrong, based on the comments :-)
   25. Eric Bartman Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:16 PM (#2278880)
At Fenway Park, I once saw Hal McRae foul six baseballs high and directly behind him, including two that appeared to sail up over the press box, and out onto the street. This occurred during the course of two consecutive at-bats.

I remember McRae as especially skilled at fouling off pitches and long ABs. It would be great to see his career pitches/PA. I also remember him sliding into second spikes up. I suppose both of these memories could be the products of a few events observed at an impressionable age.
   26. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:20 PM (#2278885)
If nothing else, he belongs in the Hall of Guys Who Were Better Than Their Sons.
   27. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:33 PM (#2278897)
If nothing else, he belongs in the Hall of Guys Who Were Better Than Their Sons.

Where he would join Pete Rose, Earl Averill, Tony Gwynn, Yogi Berra, Tony Perez, Ed Walsh, Josh Gibson, and Eddie Collins.

I guess McRae would join Joe Niekro and others in the second tier of that Hall....
   28. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:43 PM (#2278907)
"Where he would join Pete Rose, Earl Averill, Tony Gwynn, Yogi Berra, Tony Perez, Ed Walsh, Josh Gibson, and Eddie Collins."

Maury Wills, too.
   29. Traderdave Posted: January 11, 2007 at 11:05 PM (#2278924)
And Time Raines
   30. jimd Posted: January 11, 2007 at 11:17 PM (#2278930)
And everybody else who had a son who never played MLB.
   31. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 11, 2007 at 11:35 PM (#2278949)
"And everybody else who had a son who never played MLB."

Sure, just go ahead and suck all the fun out of it, why don't you?
   32. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 12, 2007 at 01:22 AM (#2278997)
And everybody else who had a son who never played MLB.

No way. I was a much better ballplayer than my dad.
   33. DL from MN Posted: January 12, 2007 at 02:30 PM (#2279260)
Yogi Berra

Not the Boones or the Bells necessarily.
   34. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 12, 2007 at 02:50 PM (#2279270)
Now wait just a minute. Hal was bad in Tampa but pretty darn solid as a manager in KC.

He took over in 1991 and went 66-58. The team regressed in 1992 but rebounded in 1993 and was well over .500 when McRae was bounced. The '93 team was something of a fluke since they won 84 games despite being outscored but in '94 they were plust forty odd runs. And I distinctly recall the GM stating that his biggest regret is canning McRae.

Late in his career Hal focused on the inside half of the plate. He gave up on anything over the outside half knowing he couldn't handle it anymore. So some kid would come in blowing smoke but if he tried to jam Hal he would see the pitch roped into left-center. It was pretty impressive from and old dude.
   35. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 15, 2007 at 05:01 PM (#2280680)
Despite being surly as a manager, Hal was a very beloved teammate.

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