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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Retro Simba: Cardinals would do well to develop another Dal Maxvill

The overthrown’ Jerry Buchek Republic approves of this message.

Dal Maxvill and Garry Templeton are the pair who came up through the Cardinals’ organization and became first-rate shortstops. All of the other St. Louis shortstops of that quality in the last half-century (Dick Groat, Ozzie Smith, Royce Clayton, Edgar Renteria and David Eckstein) were acquired by the Cardinals after being developed by other organizations.

(Julio Gotay, Mike Tyson, Tripp Cromer and Brendan Ryan were starting shortstops for St. Louis since 1962 who were developed in the Cardinals’ system, but none rates with Maxvill and Templeton. Gotay and Cromer became utility players. Tyson was a better second baseman than he was a shortstop. Ryan has a terrific arm and range but is lacking in many other areas.) 

...Maxvill wasn’t nearly as well-regarded. He debuted with St. Louis in 1962 and filled in admirably at second base for the injured Julian Javier in the 1964 World Series. But after hitting .135 in 68 games for the 1965 Cardinals, Maxvill was surpassed by Jerry Buchek as the Cardinals’ top shortstop.

It was a testament to Maxvill’s stellar skills and perseverance that he replaced Buchek in June 1966, embarking on a seven-year stretch as St. Louis’ everyday shortstop. In that period, he helped the Cardinals win two pennants and a World Series title, received a Gold Glove Award (1968) and led National League shortstops in fielding percentage (1970).

Before the start of spring training in 1966, Maxvill had considered quitting baseball and focusing fulltime on his off-season job as an electrical engineer for a St. Louis company, The Sporting News reported.

...Schoendienst said of Maxvill, “He’s been avoiding the strikeouts and making contact. He’s been moving the runners around and avoiding the double play. In other words, we’ve been able to play baseball with Maxie _ hit-and-run and all that. We can’t afford to leave those men on third base, even second base.”

Repoz Posted: September 25, 2012 at 05:38 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, history

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   1. bjhanke Posted: September 25, 2012 at 08:05 AM (#4244912)
Here's a piece of trivia that I use to try to explain how great the athletic difference is between major league ballplayers and everyone else. Washington University in St. Louis is a fine academic school, and Maxvill's engineering degree from there commands serious respect, but, athletically, Wash U. is a Division III school. Still, it does field a baseball team, and has for decades. And as of at least a few years ago, the highest career batting average ever posted by a Wash. U. varsity player was posted by - Dal Maxvill. -Brock Hanke
   2. BDC Posted: September 25, 2012 at 08:53 AM (#4244936)
TFT doesn't have much to do with TFA, which is a very nice brief survey of Maxvill's career.

As to whether the title is correct, I reckon it might depend on the run environment. In the dead of the Years of the Pitcher, provided you had also some guys who could hit (as the Cardinals did), surrendering offense at shortstop to get a really superior glove (the kind we were musing about over on the Vizquel thread recently) might make sense. In high-offense times, less so, and you saw fewer such shortstops around in the 90s and 00s, in fact you saw the slugging shortstop become de rigueur.

With the tide shifting back against offenses, maybe the Maxvill type will come back into general vogue. I think of this year's Tigers (subject of many another recent thread, or at least Cabrera is). Instead of shifting Cabrera to 3B to maximize their offense (which isn't really working all that well, because they've got Delmon Young playing 100+ games at DH), what if they had put Fielder at DH, kept Cabrera at first, moved Peralta to 3B, and installed Dal Maxvill II at SS? Maxvill II won't hit as well as Delmon Young, but what if the left side of your infield suddenly became impermeable? Would that compensate? Would it compensate enough, if the scoring environment was low enough?
   3. Tippecanoe Posted: September 25, 2012 at 09:05 AM (#4244945)
Having a hard time understanding Brendan Ryan's inferiority to Maxvill. In terms of on-field skills, he is exactly "another Dal Maxvill", though probably somewhat better.
   4. TomH Posted: September 25, 2012 at 09:18 AM (#4244956)
To the general point of emphasizing defense vs offense:
Should it not be obvious that in today's game, as compared to the 70s (for example) that defense is LESS important? And "run evironment" (runs per game) is not the best metric to use to gauge thisa; rather, it should be %BIP, or something close to it. Walks, KOs, home runs all make defense less important.

Comparing 2012 to 1972, 40 years ago, and I picked 72 because of the mini-srike go games per team played in 2012 to date almost match:
year .PA. ..AB. ...H. ..HR .BB ..SO HR+W+K othr %BIP
2012 5811 5213 1329 155 464 1164 1765 4046 .697
1972 5832 5201 1268 106 489 0863 1453 4379 .751

More than 1 of every 20 batters hit the ball to a fielder less frequently these days. Ergo, the difference in runs prevented by Dal Maxvills should be about 5% less, no?
   5. GregD Posted: September 25, 2012 at 09:45 AM (#4244986)
Here's a piece of trivia that I use to try to explain how great the athletic difference is between major league ballplayers and everyone else. Washington University in St. Louis is a fine academic school, and Maxvill's engineering degree from there commands serious respect, but, athletically, Wash U. is a Division III school. Still, it does field a baseball team, and has for decades. And as of at least a few years ago, the highest career batting average ever posted by a Wash. U. varsity player was posted by - Dal Maxvill. -Brock Hanke
I love this
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 25, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4244990)
More than 1 of every 20 batters hit the ball to a fielder less frequently these days. Ergo, the difference in runs prevented by Dal Maxvills should be about 5% less, no?

You should also look at GB/FB/IFF/LD breakdowns too.
   7. TomH Posted: September 25, 2012 at 10:16 AM (#4245039)
agree. That was more work than my work-boss would allow :)

btw snapper, what does the "42" in your handle ref? (I tried to ax this once before but I think my Q got lost). Is it Jackie R, or Hitchhiker's Giude, or other?
   8. Walt Davis Posted: September 25, 2012 at 10:48 AM (#4245061)
Brendan Ryan is Dal Maxvill ... except a better fielder and, amazingly, a slightly better hitter. Not Ryan's fault the Cards didn't keep him.

I understand a lot of y'all don't think WAR can be trusted to know the difference between a ground ball and a ground hog but the silly stat puts Ryan ahead 14.6 WAR to 6.6 WAR in about 2 fewer seasons of PA. Maxvill was about a 1 WAR player while Ryan is, oh boy, about a 4 WAR player.

Holy crap, apparently this year I would qualify as a replacement level SS bat. Ryan and his shiny 60 OPS+ still has +.4 oWAR.
   9. Russ Posted: September 25, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4245064)
Alright, I'm just going to come out of the closet and say it: Brock Hanke is probably my favorite poster here. The ratio of What I Learn From His Posts to Number of Posts He Makes is probably one of the highest ratios of any poster at this site (and I learn a lot from the people here). Thanks for that factoid Brock, that's a really neat way of explaining the athletic gap between MLBers and everyone else.

   10. bjhanke Posted: September 25, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4245106)
Russ - Do I know you? Are you my cousin or something? That was BY FAR the nicest thing that anyone other than Don Malcolm has ever said about my work in baseball.
Thank You! You've Made My Month!! I'm remembering your handle, so when I come cross a particularly nice piece you've done, I can return the compliment.

Wow. OK. I was going to post about Brendan Ryan. Ryan looks great by BB-Ref's Fielding Runs stat, but he also has the fewest games played of anyone who counts, because he's still only 30. His decline phase may well bring down his FR, although perhaps not. I'm not completely sure how much glove-first guys lose in their declining years, although I know they lose something. Brendan was probably the best shortstop glove the Cardinals have had since Ozzie, although he's so weak a hitter that he can't get a real full-time job where they don[t pinch-hit for him. My memory is that Dal was better. Part of that is visual. Dal got to play in old Busch Stadium, a giant Astroturf cow pasture with an outfield territory measured in acres. He, along with Frank White at second base, was the first shortstop to figure out that this meant you could play further back than usual because the ball was going to bounce fast and true when hit. He made raw range plays that I doubt Ryan could ever get, just because he isn't on turf any more. However, I did get to see Ryan at work here in STL, and it's clear that he's a grade-A glove. It's sort of like Darren Lewis, a CF for a decade who could not hit, but who was the best CF glove in the league, probably the game. There may also be a DP effect. Maxvill played several years with Julian Javier at second base. Javier couldn't hit, either, but he was a great glove at second, and possibly the best ever at making the "phantom" double play, where the 2B really doesn't touch second when turning the pivot, for fear of getting spiked. Together, you didn't want to hit a grounder at either of them with a man on first base.

Trivia note about Javier: He was famous for being unable to hit because he was terrified of righty curve balls, and would bail out on strikes if they started to go anywhere near his head before they broke. Well, one day, he had a great day against Juan Marichal, a ferocious righty curve pitcher, beating him virtually by himself by a score of something like 2-1. Joolie, as fans called him, was asked how he could hang in there and hit Marichal, when he was afraid of the exact pitch that Juan threw him. Javier said, essentially, "I'm not afraid of Juan. Juan is my countryman, He would NEVER hit me." And this turned out to be true. Marichal wouldn't even send a message pitch inside to Javier. Didn't do Joolie any favors against any other pitcher, but he could hit Juan Marichal. I remember,but am not sure I have this correct, but I remember Julian trying to hit Mel Queen when Mel first converted to pitcher. Julian was so obviously frightened of Queen's lack of control that I don't think he was even in the batter's box when the pitches went by. If anyone can find matchup stats between the two, I'd be very grateful to know it.

Oh, and one more. The 1963 Cardinals are famous for having their entire starting infield start the All-Star Game. This is not quite right. Javier was not voted the starter. However, the player who actually won was hurt at the All-Star break and could not play, so Julian ended up "starting." Bill White, Dick Groat and Ken Boyer were voted in as starters.

And Thanks Again to Russ! - Brock Hanke
   11. esseff Posted: September 25, 2012 at 11:50 AM (#4245137)
My anecdotal memory also was that Javier hit Marichal well, but the record (bb-ref) disputes that. Perhaps there were just some hits in high-leverage situations that we remember more than all the outs. Anyway:

Javier vs. Marichal: 25-for-104, 8 Ks, 6 BB, .238/.277/.333/.610
Javier vs. Queen: 3-for-9 with 2 HRs (same as vs. Marichal), 3 Ks, 0 BB, .333/.333/1.000/1.333

To be fair to our memories, Javier's numbers against Marichal are better than his numbers against all rhp (.593 OBP).
   12. greenback likes millwall, they don't care Posted: September 25, 2012 at 12:17 PM (#4245189)
To turn Brock's point around, Brendan Ryan supposedly played 2b in college.
   13. GuyM Posted: September 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM (#4245206)
I understand a lot of y'all don't think WAR can be trusted to know the difference between a ground ball and a ground hog but the silly stat puts Ryan ahead 14.6 WAR to 6.6 WAR in about 2 fewer seasons of PA.

Walt: you really can't compare WAR for contemporary players with pre-1989 players, if either/both are good fielders. The pre-1989 version of Total Zone contains a huge amount of excess regression for good (or bad) fielders. Maxvill is about +6 wins in TZ, which means our best guess is that he was perhaps +12 wins with the glove, perhaps a bit more (if we want to rely only on TZ). Now, Ryan could also be underestimated -- the amount of range bias in DRS is much debated -- but his rating is likely to be much closer to the truth.
   14. zachtoma Posted: September 25, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4245248)
Here's a piece of trivia that I use to try to explain how great the athletic difference is between major league ballplayers and everyone else. Washington University in St. Louis is a fine academic school, and Maxvill's engineering degree from there commands serious respect, but, athletically, Wash U. is a Division III school. Still, it does field a baseball team, and has for decades. And as of at least a few years ago, the highest career batting average ever posted by a Wash. U. varsity player was posted by - Dal Maxvill. -Brock Hanke


Huh? I don't understand this, is it supposed to be surprising that a 14-year MLB player has the highest batting average in his alma mater's history? Does anyone really think that if you can hit .300 for a Div III school you can hit .300 for the St. Louis Cardinals?
   15. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: September 25, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4245252)
I remember there being some doubt as to whether Ryan could play short back in his prospect days (heck he was a 2b in HS). Thaaaaaaaaaat was mistaken.
   16. GregD Posted: September 25, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4245255)
Huh? I don't understand this, is it supposed to be surprising that a 14-year MLB player has the highest batting average in his alma mater's history? Does anyone really think that if you can hit .300 for a Div III school you can hit .300 for the St. Louis Cardinals?
Would you be shocked at the idea that once--once--Wash U had a slow, lumbering no defense guy with the capacity to hit .220 in the bigs? Who showed that by posting a higher average in college than Maxvill? I wouldn't.
   17. dr. scott Posted: September 25, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4245262)
If the Cardinals were really smart, they would develop another Pujols...

while they are replicating players and all.
   18. zachtoma Posted: September 25, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4245275)
Would you be shocked at the idea that once--once--Wash U had a slow, lumbering no defense guy with the capacity to hit .220 in the bigs? Who showed that by posting a higher average in college than Maxvill? I wouldn't.


Not shocked, but I wouldn't bet on that player's existence either. Someone who can hit .220 in the bigs is dangerously close to being a professional himself - hell, the majority of professionals probably can't hit .220 in the majors. And we're talking about .003 better than Dal Maxvill's lifetime average, a negligible difference.

You know I went to a baseball camp at Cal State Northridge, which is a Div I school, once when I was a kid. At that time, the baseball team was pretty good because they had this one player who was busy setting career records at the school in average, hits, and RBI. Now I know what you're thinking, "I didn't know Ted Williams went to CSUN in the 90's". But would you believe that this player was none other than World Series-winning MLB second baseman Adam Kennedy? ZOMG.
   19. esseff Posted: September 25, 2012 at 01:32 PM (#4245277)

If the Cardinals were really smart, they would develop another Pujols...

while they are replicating players and all.



Well, I can dream
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: September 25, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4245302)
I guess if Brock files away zachtoma's name, it won't be to issue some compliment in the future.

   21. zachtoma Posted: September 25, 2012 at 02:09 PM (#4245318)
Its ok I have a loathsome personality and thus don't have to worry about getting compliments on the internet.
   22. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 25, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4245364)
Washington University in St. Louis


Back in the day, I had a lot of good times grabbing stuff from their public FTP directory.
   23. asdf1234 Posted: September 25, 2012 at 07:54 PM (#4245690)

Well, I can dream


Anyone else as excited about Minor League Guy as I am? What a time to be a Cardinals fan.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: September 25, 2012 at 09:16 PM (#4245751)
Of course you're only making Brock's point. Maxvill is one of the worst hitters to every hold a regular job in MLB. Yet, lo and behold, even Maxvill was giving out gift baskets back in his college days.

Still, even at my pokey alma mater the career batting slash line record is 394/471/741. He was never an All-American.

It's not surprising that Maxvill might have hit pretty well back in college (in the late 50s) but that in the long history of baseball at that school nobody put up the sort of ridiculous numbers you might think. Maybe I'm wrong but I'd bet that Maxvill didn't come close to a 741 SLG. Given the guy above wasn't even good enough to be a D3 All-American, I can only imagine the insane numbers posted by the guys who were.

   25. Walt Davis Posted: September 25, 2012 at 09:26 PM (#4245756)
And on Ryan, I wasn't trying to start a debate on who was the better fielder (they're about equal on Rtot by the way but Ryan with less playing time) but simply pointing out that you can't get much closer to "the next Dal Maxvill" than Brendan Ryan.

I love this quote from the writer: "Ryan has a terrific arm and range but is lacking in many other areas." Oh, just a terrific arm and range -- if only there was some position on the infield where those would be useful! Maybe the writer is referencing his hands or his concentration? Well, imperfect measures though they be, Maxvill had 145 career errors compared to 53 for Ryan ... FPs are much, much closer but still slightly in Ryan's favor.

Heck, Maxvill was just 7 for 18 in SBs while Ryan is 63 for 84.

The only area where Ryan is lacking is with the bat which of course is exactly the same are that Maxvill was lacking.

OK, there could be leadership and not being a whiny bastard criteria being applied.
   26. bjhanke Posted: September 26, 2012 at 05:45 AM (#4245928)
zachtoma - I don't mind your comment at all. For one thing, you're right: Wash U. never DID have anyone who was a .200 MLB hitter with some power come through their program. But then, you're not the audience I use that trivia bit for. It's for the guys who think that because someone they knew - or they themselves - hit pretty well in college, they were just a bit of luck away from MLB. They look at the game from a distance, in the stands or on the TV, and start thinking "I could hit some of THAT guy's pitching." Well, no. Unless you went to college in one of the top power schools, and were hitting third or cleanup (which is why I mentioned that Maxvill did NOT come from any of those schools), you probably couldn't hit MLB pitching at all. You (zachtoma) don't seem to have that problem. You're aware the MLB hitters really are the top athletes available. You don't need that piece of trivia.

The one that threw me is Javier's line against Queen. I have visual memories of seeing him bail helplessly. There are just enough AB there to justify Javier having played two or three games against Queen. I guess I saw the first one or something. Or, maybe, my memory played a trick on me. That happens. The Marichal line is odd, too. I have much better memories of broadcasters talking about how Javier could hit Juan because he wasn't afraid of his countryman's curve. Apparently Juan either just stopped throwing him the curve and overpowered him with fastballs (very possible with Javier), or everyone (at least me) remembered one or two games - or one postgame comment - and generalized that memory over a whole career.

Trivia stuff can be really amusing. There was a college coach who thought he had a better defensive SS than Brendan Ryan, so he played Ryan at 2B? I wanna know who that SS was. Of course, the Cardinals themselves, if I have the sources right, rejected the young Ted Williams over his running speed, refused to give Yogi Berra the same bonus they offered Joe Garagiola, and had Marty Marion playing third base until they developed an opening at shortstop. Apparently (this is based on one memory of one talk show on the radio), Bob Buhl, a notoriously bad hitter even for a pitcher, played 1B in high school and/or college, because his coach didn't realize he had a pitcher's arm. I don't see how you could possibly miss Buhl's arm, but maybe he just couldn't throw strikes at the time. But the image of Buhl as a 1B is hilarious if you've ever seen him try to hit.

And Walt, did you just say that Wash U. is your alma mater? Either you did, or I misinterpreted a sentence in your post there. If it's true, when? My social life from 1969-1979 centered around Wash. U., as I tried to work my way through to a Ph.D. in English. (I got to about a year and a dissertation away before I burned out.) If you were there between 69 and 75, Don Malcolm and I were in that group of bridge players that was in the Bear's Den every night until closing, playing bridge and talking about politics and baseball. The Baseball Maniacs came out of that group and some other guys that Don knew but I didn't. - Brock
   27. bjhanke Posted: September 26, 2012 at 06:00 AM (#4245931)
Trying to save myself further embarrassment, I went over to BB-Ref to try to find Javier vs. Marichal and Queen. I can't figure out how to do that - get individual matchups. According to his post, esseff can. So could he, or anyone else, tell me how that's done? I'd have fact checked the matchups myself, before I posted, if I knew how, saving myself some red in the face here. But I'd tried before, and just ended up thinking that BB-Ref doesn't do that stuff. Thanks in advance, - Brock
   28. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 26, 2012 at 06:05 AM (#4245932)
I can't figure out how to do that - get individual matchups

I just went to Javier's page and clicked on "vs Pitcher" under "Standard Batting", which is right next to "Minors", etc.
   29. bjhanke Posted: September 26, 2012 at 08:57 AM (#4245972)
AH! You're right. There it is. I had been looking at the various header bars at the top of the page, rather than the ones under the individual tabs. I was also looking for the word "Matchup", which didn't help any. As it is, I had to come back here a second time and make sure I'd read your directions right before I found it. I kept looking too high on the page - at the top of page headers. THANKS! - Brock
   30. bjhanke Posted: September 26, 2012 at 09:25 AM (#4245988)
And BOY, was it helpful to find it. I would have made MUCH better comments if I had seen the matchups first. The Marichal game I was remembering has to be June 18, 1964, because Joolie only hit two homers against Juan, and the Cards lost the other game in which he did that. This time, Joolie had three hits, including a double and a homer, with 5 RBI in a 7-6 win over Juan. That kind of performance out of Joolie would certainly have caused the broadcasters to have him on as Player of the Game and ask him questions about how he was able to hit Marichal.

Against Queen, I was remembering the very first game Mel ever pitched after converting (at the major league level) from the outfield, July 15, 1966, when probably everyone in baseball was afraid that he'd hit them. Joolie saw him once and fanned. Actually, Javier struck out the first three times he saw Queen, but not after that, hitting three groundouts, one single and two homers in 9 AB career. That does square with the idea that Joolie was afraid of Queen right after the conversion, but eventually realized that Queen was not likely to hit him, and wasn't that hard to bat against, if you weren't afraid.

But these aren't quite the level of wonderful stories that my memory has twisted them into. I strongly prefer being correct to telling stories that don't pan out.

So, THANKS TO IVAN AND ESSEFF - Brock

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