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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 7-31-2018

Pittsburgh Press, July 31, 1918:

The Homestead Grays are ready for the big series which opens at Forbes Field tomorrow at 5:45 o’clock with the famous A.B.C. colored team of Indianapolis.
...
In the series starting tomorrow there is one A.B.C. player who will have to be watched closely by the Gray’s pitcher [sic]. He is Middle Fielder Charleston, who clouted the ball for eight hits and scored five runs in the three games with the Chicago Giants.
...
The Gray management has not decided who is to pitch the opening game, but as Sellars Hall appears to be offering a splendid assortment of benders he is apt to take the mound. “String Bean” Williams or Dismukes will probably do the flinging for the visitors.

There are any number of things I’d like to use a time machine to see, but a young and dominant Oscar Charleston is high on the list.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: July 31, 2018 at 10:11 AM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dugout, history

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: July 31, 2018 at 10:17 AM (#5718392)
A solid Birthday Team today. I'm not excited about playing a guy with eight career hits (Furmaniak) at shortstop, but the other two options (Hitchcock and Vukovich) were absolutely dreadful ballplayers. Furmaniak was an actual shortstop and while he wasn't anything special at the plate, at least he didn't have a career OPS+ of 20.

C: Joe Sugden (8.47 WAR)
1B: Leon Durham (16.25 WAR)
2B: Larry Doyle (45.03 WAR)
3B: Bob Unglaub (7.11 WAR)
SS: J.J. Furmaniak (0.2 WAR)
LF: Gabe Kapler (8.69 WAR)
CF: Vic Davalillo (15.74 WAR)
RF/Manager: Hank Bauer (27.3 WAR)

SP: Art Nehf (29.2 WAR)
SP: Jose Fernandez (13.96 WAR)
SP: Elmer Riddle (12.99 WAR)
SP: Scott Bankhead (11.32 WAR)
SP: Allen Russell (8.44 WAR)
RP: Terry Fox (8.21 WAR)

General Manager: Dave Dombrowski
-5.31 career WAR: Billy Hitchcock (-5.31 WAR)
.161/.203/.222 hitter, -3.53 career WAR: John Vukovich (-3.53 WAR)
Broadcaster en español: Herman Ettedgui
Broadcaster in English: Curt Gowdy
Fun name, sad story: Pembroke Finlayson (-0.44 WAR)
Umpires: Ed Hickox, Ted Barrett
   2. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 31, 2018 at 10:39 AM (#5718401)
Vukovich was the guy who started the season as the 1975 Reds' third baseman. Since he was a 27-year-old third baseman with a career .157 batting average, he was predictably terrible, and the Reds got off to a disappointing 12-12 start before Sparky Anderson asked Pete Rose to move to third in early May. With Rose at third base, the Reds went 96-42 the rest of the way.
   3. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 11:28 AM (#5718432)
Some more box-score-line records, featuring guys going 3-for-4. Trivia in bold. Regular-season lines of ab/r/h/bi, since 1908:

4 0 3 0: done 18 times by a star deadball infielder worth about $25,000

4 1 3 0: done 25 times by a HOF LHB outfielder whose career spanned dead- and lively-ball eras

4 2 3 0: done 16 times by a HOVG LHB outfielder whose career spanned the 20th and 21st centuries

4 3 3 0: done seven times by a HOF LHB outfielder of the 60s and 70s

4 4 3 0: done three times by a switch-hitting popular non-star outfielder who debuted the year after the 4330 guy retired

4 5 3 0 : nine men did this once. The last was JD Drew in 1999. Among the nine was Mel Almada, the pioneering Mexican ballplayer of the 1930s

Bonus item, not really good for trivia: I got to wondering how many guys had gone 4030 in a game with three doubles. Come to find this has happened 33 times, 33 different guys; the latest was Elvis Andrus in 2015. Altogether, 61 major-leaguers have hit three doubles without scoring or driving in a run, none of them more than once.

Nobody's ever hit three triples in a game without scoring. Five guys hit three triples without an RBI: Lance Richbourg, Earle Combs, Ben Chapman, Doug Flynn, and Rafael Furcal.
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 31, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5718434)
Seattle is now 2 games behind the Stros in the loss column--by their pythags, they should be 18 games back
   5. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 31, 2018 at 11:38 AM (#5718439)
4 0 3 0: done 18 times by a star deadball infielder worth about $25,000


Stuffy McInnis?

4 1 3 0: done 25 times by a HOF LHB outfielder whose career spanned dead- and lively-ball eras


Zack Wheat?

   6. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 11:42 AM (#5718443)
McInnis and Wheat are correct!
   7. stanmvp48 Posted: July 31, 2018 at 11:45 AM (#5718448)
"Seattle is now 2 games behind the Stros in the loss column--by their pythags, they should be 18 games back"

Houston has not scored more than 3 runs in a week except for the extra inning game at Coors. The lineup is not impressive. They may actually lose the division.
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: July 31, 2018 at 11:54 AM (#5718453)
4 2 3 0: done 16 times by a HOVG LHB outfielder whose career spanned the 20th and 21st centuries
Johnny Damon?
   9. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 11:55 AM (#5718454)
Johnny Damon?

Not Damon – a similar player but better :)
   10. SoSH U at work Posted: July 31, 2018 at 11:59 AM (#5718459)
Not Damon – a similar player but better :)


That does't leave a lot of room.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:00 PM (#5718460)
Gotta be one of Abreu, Edmonds or Lofton. Probably Lofton on similarity of style.
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:01 PM (#5718462)
Probably Lofton on similarity of style.
and batting order position.
   13. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:14 PM (#5718468)
Lofton is correct.
   14. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:18 PM (#5718471)
Did not realize that Vuke lasted a decade in the bigs. He and Hitchcock both had brief managerial careers and were considered super nice guys, as you'd hope given their bats.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:22 PM (#5718475)

Lofton is correct.


That raises a question. Is a Hall of Fame snub a member of the HoVG? I wouldn't consider Lofton, Grich, Whitaker to be HoVGers just because the BBWAA/Vet's Committees have missed the boat on them, but that may be a minority opinion.

By the way, I saw Kenny last Sunday at the first annual International Baseball Challenge (won by Serbia, beating the U.S. in the title game). He looked good.

   16. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:27 PM (#5718476)
Is a Hall of Fame snub a member of the HoVG? I wouldn't consider Lofton, Grich, Whitaker to be HoVGers just because the BBWAA/Vet's Committees have missed the boat on them

He's HOVG by definition, I suppose. Lofton isn't in the Hall of Merit either (yet), so I can't call him either HOF or HOM. I would probably call Whitaker or Grich a "HOM infielder," which would be meaningful at least around here, and would lift them out of "VG."
   17. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:30 PM (#5718478)
I could have sworn Bill James once wrote about Vukovich being pinch hit for in the first inning of a game in which his parents were in attendance. But alas, I can't find it in his game logs.
   18. Nasty Nate Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:31 PM (#5718479)
By the way, I saw Kenny last Sunday at the first annual International Baseball Challenge (won by Serbia, beating the U.S. in the title game). He looked good.
I assume Kenny's mere presence caused the US to snatch playoff defeat from the jaws of victory...
   19. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:33 PM (#5718480)
Lou Brock for 4330?
   20. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:35 PM (#5718482)
Brock is correct too!
   21. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:37 PM (#5718483)
Looking at Vukovich's career, I'm struck by the fact that he never had a fluke small sample-size season that tricked people into thinking he could play.

Seems like a lot of guys who had long and bad careers had a season with a decent batting average very early in their career, then people kept rolling them out there hoping to recapture the "magic". Yuniesky Betancourt hit .289 in '06-'07, Doug Flynn hit .283 in '76, J.F. Mabry hit .307 in 1995, Ed Romero hit .317 in 1983, first base Carlos Martinez hit .300 in his first extended shot in the big leagues.

I can't even tell what Vukovich's best slash stats year, regardless of playing time, was. It's either the year he hit .211/.286/.289 or the year he hit .125/.125/.500. The second one has the better OPS+, but that .125 OBP though.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:38 PM (#5718485)

Seems like a lot of guys who had long and bad careers had a season with a decent batting average very early in their career, then people kept rolling them out there hoping to recapture the "magic"


Or Ken Reitz, the king of the red hot April.
   23. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:39 PM (#5718486)
I could have sworn Bill James once wrote about Vukovich being pinch hit for in the first inning of a game in which his parents were in attendance. But alas, I can't find it in his game logs.

I remember something like that discussed in Posnanski's BRM book, The Machine. A game in LA on 4/16/75 is probably what we're remembering. Sparky pinch hit for "Balsa" in the second inning (it was unlikely he'd ever come up in the first). According to this, Vukovich threw a real fit after getting lifted, but it doesn't mention his folks being there.
   24. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:39 PM (#5718487)
Brock is correct too!


Then I'll go with jerry Humphrey for the final one.
   25. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:43 PM (#5718489)
Jerry Mumphrey? No. The guy we want was a bit later on.
   26. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:48 PM (#5718491)
It used to be an article of faith that John Vuckovich was a brilliant third baseman, but this must have been hard to determine via direct observation during games. From 1973-77, five years in his late 20s, Vuckovich played only 300 games at all levels, quite a few of them just involving caddying for a few innings. He must either have looked like Brooks Robinson Plus as a young minor-leaguer, or amazed people in infield practice, or something …
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:52 PM (#5718494)
Is the last one Mookie Wilson?
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:52 PM (#5718495)
Chili Davis?
   29. BDC Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:54 PM (#5718496)
Mookie Wilson is correct!
   30. dlf Posted: July 31, 2018 at 12:57 PM (#5718498)
SP: Art Nehf (29.2 WAR)


2700 IP with a K/9 under 3. His career spanned the deadball and live ball eras but even so seeing numbers like that just reinforces how different it was.
   31. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 31, 2018 at 01:30 PM (#5718526)
That Reds third base situation coming into 1975 was really something. Their regular third baseman in 1974 had been Dan Driessen, who was just 22 and hit .281/.347/.400, so you'd think he'd be a nice solution to the problem. But his defense must have been just appalling, because after starting 122 games at third in 1974, he never played another inning there in the major leagues. Sparky must have decided he wanted anyone else but Driessen out there.

So they started 1975 with Vukovich, who as I noted above, had zero credentials for the job. Vukovich started 14 of the Reds' first 17 games at third base, then never started another game there. He was replaced by a combination of Darrel Chaney - a non-hitting veteran SS who had lost his job to Davey Concepcion - and the rookie star Doug Flynn. They were both awful.

Meanwhile, they had Ken Griffey, Cesar Geronimo and George Foster all fighting for starts in the outfield along with Rose. It may seem that when you have four outfielders and no third baseman, there's an obvious solution, but not many teams would have dealt with it the way Sparky did. He and Rose deserve a lot of credit for the creative thinking that directly led to one of the greatest teams of all time.
   32. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 31, 2018 at 02:34 PM (#5718582)
I'm not excited about playing a guy with eight career hits (Furmaniak) at shortstop, but the other two options (Hitchcock and Vukovich) were absolutely dreadful ballplayers. Furmaniak was an actual shortstop and while he wasn't anything special at the plate, at least he didn't have a career OPS+ of 20.


Had things gone differently, the birthday team would have had Hiroyuki Nakajima at shortstop, but he turned out to be one of the biggest busts among established NPB players coming to the US. He never played a game in the majors. Nakajima had a great career in Japan - an eight time All-Star, three time Golden Glove winner, and the starting shortstop on the 2009 WBC champions. He has a .296/.366/.455 line in 15 NPB seasons. He wanted to play in MLB, and was posted in 2011, but couldn't come to an agreement with the Yankees, who won his rights, and stayed in Japan. He was posted again after the next year, and signed a two-year contract with the Oakland Athletics. He had a dreadful spring training in 2013, and didn't make the team. He was sent down to Sacramento in the PCL, where he hit .283. In 2014, he failed to hit in the PCL, and was sent down further to Midland in the Texas League, where he hit .266. Nakajima also had defensive problems adjusting to the way that US infielders play as compared to Japanese infielders. After the season, he went back to Japan, where he is still playing as a member of the Orix Buffaloes. But the fall from grace from an NPB All-Star to an average AA player must have been painful.
   33. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: July 31, 2018 at 04:44 PM (#5718668)
LF: Gabe Kapler (8.69 WAR)


What, he hasn't proved himself as manager yet?
There was a (probably contrived) flap on sports shock jock Angelo Cataldi's show this morning about some phan being thrown out of Fenway at Kapler's request for yelling "Wake up, Odubel" after base running and fielding gaffes by Herrera. Not waiting for any confirmation, Cataldi went on some "voice of the fan" rant. If it's true, that was really bad on Kapler's part, but Cataldi wouldn't wait for any confirmation. I usually turn him off after 5 minutes but was driving at the time and gutted my way through it.
   34. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: July 31, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5718670)
I remember the Phils' announcers (Kalas/Ashburn/Musser) always gushing over Vuckovich's glove, for whatever that is worth.
   35. PreservedFish Posted: July 31, 2018 at 05:42 PM (#5718699)

That raises a question. Is a Hall of Fame snub a member of the HoVG? I wouldn't consider Lofton, Grich, Whitaker to be HoVGers just because the BBWAA/Vet's Committees have missed the boat on them, but that may be a minority opinion.


I have a strong opinion on this, and my answer is no. An "inner circle" HoVG player cannot be a player that just fell short of the HOF. It has to be a player that exemplifies the HoVG. Someone like Ellis Burks or Mark Langston that was never going to be anything but a HoVG player.

But there might well be some HOF/HoVG overlap. Kenny Lofton never seemed like a HOFer to me, he seemed like a HoVG guy, he sneakily ended up with a pretty good HOF case (partially because new statistics boosted his apparent value).

The other interesting question is what to do with players that clearly had HOF ability. Nomar, Johan Santana, Jason Giambi - are these HoVG players? Strawberry and Gooden? I feel like they are less comfortable fits than are the Johnny Damons that just never looked like they were of HOF quality.

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