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Monday, January 21, 2013

11 things I didn’t know about Earl Weaver

I’ve read all of Weaver’s books multiple times. The thing he said he was most proud of was that none of the players he released ever came back to haunt him. That’s a manager’s attribute that doesn’t get discussed enough. Being able to separate who really can play and who can’t is the most important skill of a manager. How can a manager get the most out of his players if he isn’t a great talent evaluator?

Jim Furtado Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:08 AM | 36 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: earl weaver, managers, orioles

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   1. Tricky Dick Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:15 AM (#4351709)
That's an excellent article. I learned something reading it, and I couldn't put my laptop down until I finished it.
   2. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:18 AM (#4351713)
Why thank you, kind sir!
   3. Esoteric Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:55 AM (#4351727)
This is an absolutely FANTASTIC article by Chris Jaffe. RTFA, RTFA, RTFA, RTFA
   4. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: January 21, 2013 at 12:00 PM (#4351730)
Huh. I just thought it would be decent. Glad I overshot the mark.

Please note, there are two errors in the piece I correct in the comments section (I confused Ken Singleton w/ Al Bumbry when talking stolen bases, and 1935 was the last pair of player-managers in the World Series, not the youngest ever pair of World Series skippers).
   5. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: January 21, 2013 at 12:22 PM (#4351740)
Credit must be given to the Orioles' farm system, widely regarded at the time as among the finest in pro ball. Of course, Earl might very well have had a hand in that when he was still managing in their minor league system, after all.

The same farm system which began its decline roughly around the time Earl walked away the second time. He got out just in the nick of time.
   6. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4351754)
This is an absolutely FANTASTIC article by Chris Jaffe. RTFA, RTFA, RTFA, RTFA

agree--there are some astonishing factoids in there.
The fact that the O's led MLB in most BB's and fewest errors from 69-82 is not surprising, but the EXTENT to which they were ahead of everyone else is amazing.

also this (given the caveats regarding the shortcomings of dWAR):

Fun fact: according to WAR, Earl Weaver managed the best fielding team of all-time. The 1973 Orioles score at 13.5 dWAR, two full wins better than any of the 2,600-plus teams in major league history.

The runnerup, at 11.5 dWAR, is the 1969 Orioles, also managed by Weaver. No non-Weaver team has ever topped 11.0 dWAR in a season.


(emphasis mine)

   7. Brian Posted: January 21, 2013 at 01:00 PM (#4351766)
Wow, great article Chris.
   8. jdennis Posted: January 21, 2013 at 01:43 PM (#4351802)
also, the white sox were last in both walks and errors i noticed.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4351809)
Good read
   10. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 01:50 PM (#4351811)
as a correction to my #6--the lists of BB's and E's was for AL teams only, not MLB--but still...
   11. OsunaSakata Posted: January 21, 2013 at 02:20 PM (#4351836)
I'm glad there are discussions of Earl Weaver as a tactician, a strategist and a manager of people. All the video on television is of him arguing and I'm afraid his image to casual fans is of a clown. Heck, Casey Stengel and Yogi Berra are thought of as clowns, which overshadow their greatness.

He retired at a relatively young age because, as Boswell has pointed out, the job burned him out. Unlike John Madden, he didn't broadcast for very long and he stayed out of the public eye. My wife can attest to the many times I've unreasonably exploded over posters on the internet or sportscasters saying,"the late Earl Weaver" or "Earl Weaver would be turning in his grave". I guess most people just assumed that since he was retired for so long, he must be dead.
   12. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 21, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4351869)
I confused Ken Singleton w/ Al Bumbry when talking stolen bases


Great article. As a fan of the Orioles teams that Singleton and Bumbry played on, I did find this comment pretty hilarious. Singleton and Bumbry were pretty much polar opposites on the basepaths.
   13. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 04:31 PM (#4351962)
Weaver was about as old (51) as Tom Cruise (50) when he left the game the first time. Or Kevin Bacon (54). Would anyone think of Cruise or Bacon - if they were suddenly ported into MLB - as too old to be managing?

Or Barack Obama (51).

But some people just _look_ old. Weaver. Sparky Anderson.
   14. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4351965)
But some people just _look_ old. Weaver. Sparky Anderson.
And another who retired young--Tom Kelly.
   15. GEB4000 Posted: January 21, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4351987)
Weaver managed to get a lot out of a bunch guys who were perceived, at best, as marginal major leaguers.
   16. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 21, 2013 at 05:15 PM (#4351991)
But some people just _look_ old. Weaver. Sparky Anderson.

in the 70 Series, Sparky was 36, and Weaver had just turned 40, and they both looked like they were in their mid-fifties
   17. 'Spos Posted: January 21, 2013 at 05:32 PM (#4352000)
Great article, rtfa etc.
   18. Robinson Cano Plate Like Home Posted: January 21, 2013 at 05:32 PM (#4352002)
What was so great about the 1985 Mets bench? Or did you mean 1986?
   19. Ron J2 Posted: January 21, 2013 at 05:42 PM (#4352009)
#15 As Bill James pointed out he was less interested in what a player couldn't do than what he could do -- and whether than merited a spot on the 25 man roster.

His 25th man was often somebody who had very clear strengths and weaknesses. There were a lot of things that (say) Curt Motton couldn't do, but if you need somebody to beat up a non elite left-handed pitcher ...


   20. Howie Menckel Posted: January 21, 2013 at 06:55 PM (#4352085)
The Orioles' pitching stats for several years must be almost impossible to imagine to a "modern" fan.

Take 1970, when Cuellar-McNally-Palmer combined for 119 starts - 40-40-39.

Then Tom Phoebus had 21 starts (plus 6 relief appearances). He had a CG two-hitter on April 9, then pitched only once in the next 20 days (a 1-ER, 8-IP ND). As of May 20, he had a 1.99 ERA - yet had appeared in only SEVEN games to that point. He got his 3rd win on May 9 and his 4th on Sept. 12 in a 5-5 season.

Of the other 22 Orioles games, Jim Hardin had 19 of the starts. After getting only 2 starts (both on doubleheader days) until May 22, he was the No. 4 man in a 4-man rotation more often than Phoebus after that. Hardin also got more relief chances, 17 to Phoebus's 6.

The other 3 starts were all by Marcelino Lopez, two of which came in September as the Orioles won the division by 15 games. Lopez relieved in 22 games as well.

The bullpen was hardly overworked: only Eddie Watt (53) and Pete Richert (50) pitched in 50+ games, and none of that crew hurled more than 62 innings. Dick Hall, Dave Leonhard, and Moe Drabowsky all pitched 21 to 32 games, with Drabowsky returning to Baltimore in mid-June in a trade.

The 12th and final pitcher used the entire season was Fred Beene - 2 July contests and 2 more in Sept. while spending much of the season in AAA.

The Big Three SPs combined for 898.6 IP, while everyone else teamed for 580 IP.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: January 21, 2013 at 06:59 PM (#4352089)
On #5, Weaver and the sac bunt ... I wonder to what extent it's a reaction to offensive context. League R/G and O's SH:

68: 3.4 80
69: 4.1 74
70: 4.2 64
71: 3.9 85
72: 3.5 65
73: 4.3 58
74: 4.1 72
75: 4.3 73
76: 4.0 57
77: 4.5 48
78: 4.2 41

Maybe a little bit but nothing too strong. In 72 and 76, he sac'd less than you might think; in 75 more; and he pretty clearly gave up on it by 78. Also the 74 and 75 numbers in particular are kinda shockingly high -- the DH is in by then so he's not bunting with pitchers anymore. The 72 O's sac'd 65 times, 27 of them by pitchers. So the 73 O's had 20 more bunts by position players (Belanger, Brooks and Rich Coggins leading the way). Even Boog Powell had 4 sac bunts that year! For that to go up the next year, for Powell to have 3 (in just 110 games), Grich 7, Tommy Davis 3 -- looks like absolute small ball madness! From Earl Weaver! Even by 78, his position players were sac'ing a bit more than they had in 72.

That guy doesn't understand the first thing about how to score runs! :-)
   22. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: January 21, 2013 at 07:28 PM (#4352111)
What was so great about the 1985 Mets bench? Or did you mean 1986?

Actually, I meant the 1987 bench. 1986 is one of the 20 best ever, though.
   23. Tim D Posted: January 21, 2013 at 07:32 PM (#4352116)
Those early Weaver teams were ridiculous. Very few walks allowed, almost all batted balls turned into outs. You had to hit homers or get shut out. He had great starters that he rode hard but then he had a good pen on top of it with Eddie Watt, Dick Hall and Pete Richert. They had the big bats on offense but then the other guys contributed as well. Davey Johnson was was a damn good player. The catching platoon of Hendricks and Etchebarren was under the radar good. Rettenmund was great but didn't have a regular gig. Even Belanger had a couple of good years with the bat. So you knew all these guys were going to contribute and then you would have Frank or Brooks or Boog or Buford at the plate with men on, late in the game, and, well, there goes another one. They were something to watch. Memorial Stadium was a nut house to play in, and Tiger Stadium was frequently very quiet when the O's came to town. Saw Cuellar pitch a shutout one Sunday afternoon and you could have heard a pin drop. Usually in Detroit there were at least a few drunks cussing the opposition (or some slumping Tigers) but that day Crazy Horse even had the fans off balance.
   24. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 21, 2013 at 07:35 PM (#4352119)
The orioles were a slightly frustrating team to root for as a kid because they rarely had superstars with gaudy numbers. Palmer was very impressive, but even as a kid I knew he wasn't quite Carlton or Seaver. Murray was impressive, but never had the eye popping stats of Mattingly or some other offensive stars. Ripken had a few truly great seasons, but much of his greatness wasn't as obvious as a guy like Wade Boggs. .350 makes an impact. A deep bench, few errors, a lot of walks, and good platoons do not.

The only thing that really stood out for the Weaver orioles was the number of wins, and this article does a great job of explaining how he did it.
   25.   Posted: January 21, 2013 at 09:52 PM (#4352205)
Now, I enjoyed this article Dag and my compliments to you on a fine piece, but I have to pick:

But then Weaver took an Orioles team stumbling along with a 43-37 record and had them explode to a 48-34 mark the rest of the way.


Was this a typo or some sort of sarcasm? I don't really think that 43-37 is "stumbling" while 48-34 is an "explosion." That seems a wee bit of an exaggeration, if there isn't a typo.

Sorry, but had to scratch an itch. Fun article.
   26. Matt Welch Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:16 PM (#4352217)
Those early Weaver teams were ridiculous. Very few walks allowed, almost all batted balls turned into outs.

And then their farms system coughed up Bobby Grich and Don Baylor.
   27. Moeball Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:25 PM (#4352224)
Chris, I'm surprised you didn't mention something about how Weaver's teams played in double headers. I think Bill James referenced this in an early abstract. IIRC, because of Earl's ability to get the most out of his platoons, he had a huge advantage in double headers. Most teams have all their regular starters go in game #1 and then rest those guys in the nightcap, playing mostly bench guys. If it's your bench vs. Earl's bench in game #2, you're gonna get beat. Earl would sometimes even use specific platoons in game 1 and steal a game with some starters resting, and then bring on those fresh starters in game 2 so it was your scrubs against Earl's starters in game 2. Advantage: Orioles.
   28. puck Posted: January 21, 2013 at 10:57 PM (#4352253)
The orioles were a slightly frustrating team to root for as a kid because they rarely had superstars with gaudy numbers. Palmer was very impressive, but even as a kid I knew he wasn't quite Carlton or Seaver. Murray was impressive, but never had the eye popping stats of Mattingly or some other offensive stars. Ripken had a few truly great seasons, but much of his greatness wasn't as obvious as a guy like Wade Boggs. .350 makes an impact. A deep bench, few errors, a lot of walks, and good platoons do not.


Geez, you should have your childhood taken away, you spoiled brat. [Kidding.]

When I was a kid I liked Eddie Murray because he had eye-popping stats. .300-30-100 was a big deal back then.

   29. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:09 PM (#4352261)
Chris, I'm surprised you didn't mention something about how Weaver's teams played in double headers.


Wevaer's teams played 185 doubleheaders during his managerial career. They were 101-84 in the first game, 109-76 in the second game. So it was an advantage but not a large one.

-- MWE
   30. Dag Nabbit is part of the zombie horde Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:28 PM (#4352278)
Was this a typo or some sort of sarcasm? I don't really think that 43-37 is "stumbling" while 48-34 is an "explosion." That seems a wee bit of an exaggeration, if there isn't a typo.

Not a typo. They were a .500ish team - barely better than that - under Bauer. Under Weaver they played like a pennant winner. That's impressive. It's an explosion in my book. As for stubmling, well, that's what Baltimore had done since the '66 title. Some others made the same comment as you at THT so I guess I overstated it, but honestly it looks like a fine statement to you.
   31. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 21, 2013 at 11:35 PM (#4352287)
Dag, GET A TWITTER FEED.
   32. PreservedFish Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:11 AM (#4352307)
Was this a typo or some sort of sarcasm? I don't really think that 43-37 is "stumbling" while 48-34 is an "explosion." That seems a wee bit of an exaggeration, if there isn't a typo.

I was wondering whether or not it was a bit of oddly placed dry humor.
   33. Zach Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4352482)
43-37 to 48-34 is about eight games better over the course of a season. If your team signed a player who contributed 8 wins above average, you'd be psyched.

Have today's benches become too short for Weaverball? It always seems like the Royals' (I know, I know...) benches consist of one utility infielder who can play shortstop, one fourth outfielder, and one backup catcher. Not much space available for platoons, pinch hitters, or defensive specialists.
   34. Perry Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4352505)
Have today's benches become too short for Weaverball? It always seems like the Royals' (I know, I know...) benches consist of one utility infielder who can play shortstop, one fourth outfielder, and one backup catcher. Not much space available for platoons, pinch hitters, or defensive specialists.


I think that's pretty obviously the case. Weaver's teams carried 10 or sometimes even 9 pitchers; now 12 or 13 seems to be the norm.
   35.   Posted: January 22, 2013 at 12:51 PM (#4352533)
43-37 to 48-34 is about eight games better over the course of a season. If your team signed a player who contributed 8 wins above average, you'd be psyched.


Yes but ut wasn't over the course of the season. You can't just extrapolate two winning percentages out to two full seasons and calculate the delta. You might as well say that 2-0 and 0-2 are 8 games different over the season so whatever happened in between is therefore significant. It is silly.
   36. Mark Armour Posted: January 22, 2013 at 01:56 PM (#4352602)
My favorite thing about Weaver was how confident he was. He took over the Orioles at age 36, having no experience in the big leagues as player or manager, and he immediately left his mark on the team. He thought Don Buford, a reserve infielder, needed to play. In Weaver's first game he put Buford in centerfield and batted him leadoff. Buford had barely played under Bauer, but Weaver played him EVERY SINGLE INNING the rest of the season. This was the key move, in my opinion, to making the Orioles the powerhouse they became.

How many managers have ever come on board in mid-year and made such a huge change to the team in their very first game. This was a good team, a second place team, and Weaver was a kid. But he was in charge, day one.

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