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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

20 Years Later: A Sabermetric Look at the Springfield Isotopes

Only Griffey was young (how Burns was able to pry a 22-year-old Ken Griffey away from the Mariners is a mystery). Other than him, only Canseco and Clemens could still have been considered in their prime. That’s a very old infield. Most of the players had strong 1991 seasons, so you can understand their appeal to Burns, but buying a year late is a common problem in baseball. Heading into the season, the team had no depth. Most glaringly, there was but one pitcher with big league experience, which poses a serious problem for any team hoping to contend (unless that one pitcher is Old Hoss Radbourn). Burns was eventually able to put together a bullpen and the rest of a starting rotation filled with average players, but the team’s bench would be made up almost entirely of replacement level hacks, player’s who’d never played at that level before and frankly, mostly lacked the talent for it.

Homer, homers and WAR!

eddieot Posted: February 20, 2013 at 03:07 PM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, cardinals, dodgers, mariners, red sox, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: February 20, 2013 at 10:15 PM (#4373143)
Most glaringly, there was but one pitcher with big league experience
Ah, but both Boggs and Canseco later pitched in the bigs. Smithers knew what he was doing.
   2. Dale Sams Posted: February 20, 2013 at 11:12 PM (#4373161)
H.Simpson 119 games, .235/ .335 /.436, 23 HRs

I never want to hear again what a big deal it was that Michael Jordan hit .202 in AA.
   3. asinwreck Posted: February 20, 2013 at 11:59 PM (#4373167)
Like Burns had paid any attention to baseball since the days of the Union League.
   4. natebracy Posted: February 21, 2013 at 01:08 AM (#4373180)
So would Burns's original team have beaten Smithers's? I can't find Monty's lineup.
   5. Red Menace Posted: February 21, 2013 at 01:28 AM (#4373183)
I can't find Monty's lineup.

Honus Wagner! Cap Anson! Mordecai Three-Finger Brown!

Those are the only ones he mentioned, which I knew off the top of my head naturally. I checked a freely available online stream and it was too poor quality to freeze frame on his lineup. I'll find a dvd. To be continued...
   6. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 21, 2013 at 01:37 AM (#4373185)
If I remember correctly, one of the players was Jim Creighton as I believe Smithers says one of the players had been dead for 130 years.
   7. Gch exhales the vast drunken folly of Epicurus Posted: February 21, 2013 at 01:42 AM (#4373186)
According to a Simpsons wiki, Burns' original team was:

P - Three Finger Brown
C - Gabby Street
1B - Cap Anson
2B - Nap Lajoie
3B - Pie Traynor
SS - Honus Wagner
LF - Joe Jackson
CF - Harry Hooper
RF - Jim Creighton
   8. Red Menace Posted: February 21, 2013 at 01:43 AM (#4373187)
Got it.

C Gabby Street
1B Cap Anson
2B Nap Lajoie
SS Honus Wagner
3B Pie Trainer
LF Shoeless Joe
CF Harry Hooper
RF Jim Creighton
P 3 Finger Brown

It's a tribute to the attention to detail of the writers that Smither's "Your right fielder has been dead for 130 years" was completely accurate.

EDIT: Consarnit! An effervescent cola to #7. I was freeze framing a dvd while you simply googled it. I suspect I need more practice working my internet machine.
   9. Gch exhales the vast drunken folly of Epicurus Posted: February 21, 2013 at 01:58 AM (#4373190)
The only reason I knew it was posted online is because the first thing I did when I got Strat-O-Matic's Hall of Fame set was to recreate Burns' team and put them up against the closest approximation to Smithers' team.

Come to think of it, now that I have Joe Jackson's 1919 card I only need to replace 2 players if I ever want to do that again.
   10. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: February 21, 2013 at 02:04 AM (#4373192)
Gabby Street is an odd addition to a team of otherwise superstars. Maybe they meant Gabby Hartnett and something went wrong (too young maybe).
   11. Thok Posted: February 21, 2013 at 04:23 AM (#4373197)
A complaint to the person who posted the article: the team in "Homer at the Bat" is not the Springfield Isotopes. The Isotopes are the local minor league teams that was threatened with a move to Albuquerque until Homer stopped them.

(The actual article didn't make this mistake, just the person who posted it here.)
   12. eddieot Posted: February 21, 2013 at 08:23 AM (#4373215)
11. I stand corrected. Thanks.
   13. The District Attorney Posted: February 21, 2013 at 08:26 AM (#4373216)
Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.
   14. Jason Lukehart Posted: February 21, 2013 at 08:49 AM (#4373231)
I hope you all enjoyed the piece, I had an absolute blast researching the players' actual production that season and then drawing on my Simpsons knowledge to incorporate references to that and other episodes.

For what it's worth, I think the team Smithers pulled together (in their prime) would have beaten Burns' original team (even without accounting for the fact that I'm certain players in the 1990s were better than players in the 1890s, period).

Burns has the better 1B, 2B, SS, and LF, but the new team has advantages at the other positions, including the starting position, which is of course the single most important advantage for one game. Also, Jim Creighton was a pitcher, was he not? Seems an odd choice for right field!
   15. The District Attorney Posted: February 21, 2013 at 08:53 AM (#4373234)
3B Pie Trainer
I also really hope somebody got fired for this blunder.
   16. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 21, 2013 at 09:04 AM (#4373237)
wrong thread
   17. Man o' Schwar Posted: February 21, 2013 at 09:05 AM (#4373239)
3B Pie Trainer
I also really hope somebody got fired for this blunder.

Pie Trainer sounds like Homer's dream job.

"Pie, jump into my mouth... now!"
   18. Ron J2 Posted: February 21, 2013 at 09:58 AM (#4373272)
#14 Creighton was more famous as a pitcher, but in one of my old books there's a statement that as a batter he only made 3 outs in the entire season.

OK, short season, random quality opposition, no gloves for the fielders, only cheating pitchers (like Creighton) snapped their wrist when throwing, no called strikes (Creighton has the second highest known pitch count -- 331 in 5 innings. His opponent for the game has the record only because he pitched the top of the 6th. Game was called due to a riot in the bottom of the inning), but still, a guy with an OBP north of .950 with some power (remember, the popular story of his death is that it came from swinging too hard) is going to help any team.
   19. zonk Posted: February 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM (#4373288)
Among the things that never get old --

Variations on discussions from this episode are certainly among them, at least on BBTF.

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