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Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Greatest Season That Never Was

A man is granted three wishes, but there’s a catch: He has to use them to create the perfect baseball player. It almost worked.

gehrig97 Posted: April 26, 2018 at 01:37 PM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cincinnati reds, eric davis, rickey henderson, willie mays

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   1. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 26, 2018 at 09:46 AM (#5660859)
Bump
   2. McCoy Posted: April 26, 2018 at 09:54 AM (#5660869)
1987 was a funny year for homers. I mean the "proto-perfect baseball player" hit 49 homers that year when his previous and now second highest homer total was 32 home runs. Hell, Wade Boggs had 24 that year and wouldn't be until 1994 that he would have second and only other year with a double digit homer total. From what I remember almost all of it had to do with the first half of the 1987 season.
   3. Nasty Nate Posted: April 26, 2018 at 10:20 AM (#5660903)
1. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 26, 2018 at 09:46 AM (#5660859)
Bump
I like the initiative!

To continue our discussion from the other day's dugout, what is the process that moves threads from the Sitewide archive (where you found this) to the Newsstand?

And is there any reason we shouldn't do what you are doing with the bump?
   4. Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: April 26, 2018 at 10:37 AM (#5660922)
A man is granted three wishes

I wish I had an orange for a head.
   5. Batman Posted: April 26, 2018 at 10:45 AM (#5660933)
One of the wishes would have to be that I'm the player or at least that he plays for my favorite team. You can't waste all your wishes on the Reds like Pete Rose did.
   6. Mefisto Posted: April 26, 2018 at 10:56 AM (#5660947)
I saw Willie Mays play. I don't need 3 wishes.
   7. Rally Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:07 PM (#5661172)
Davis from June 1986 to May 1987:

141 games, .314 average, .638 slugging, 42 homers, 86 steals, 11 CS
   8. Rally Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:11 PM (#5661180)
A 4th wish to give him the durability of Cal Ripken might produce this line, which is Eric's stats from 6-1-86 to 6-26-87, where he played 162 games. I don't know if this is the single most impressive 162 game stretch we can find for him, but here goes:

.307, .619 SLG, 145 runs, 46 HR, 122 RBI, 93 walks, 139 K, 97 SB, 12 CS
   9. Batman Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:21 PM (#5661195)
Davis hit 12 HR and had 11 SB in May 1987. That's one of only six 10/10 months in history, and the only one where the player had more than ten of each.
   10. Karl from NY Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:32 PM (#5661208)
That would make it the one and only 11/11 month in baseball history, which might be a catchier way to describe it.
   11. Batman Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:36 PM (#5661213)
I thought about 11/11 but decided against it. Anyway, if anybody wants to guess the others- good luck with the 2001 guy.
1. September 1983- 10 HR/10 SB
2. May 1987- 12/11- Eric Davis
3. September 1991- 10/11
4. July 1999- 10/10
5. May 2001- 11/10
6. August 2004- 10/16

None of them finished with a 40/40 season. Jose Canseco had one 9/9 month, and it was in 1998, ten years after his 40/40.
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:44 PM (#5661218)
1. Andre Dawson
5. Richard Hidalgo

   13. Nasty Nate Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:44 PM (#5661219)
3. September 1991- 10/11
Barry Bonds?
4. July 1999- 10/10
6. August 2004- 10/16
Maybe Alex Rodriguez for one or both of these.
   14. Batman Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5661225)
No Bonds, A-Rod, Dawson, or Hidalgo.

Nobody did it twice, so it's six different players.
   15. DavidFoss Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:51 PM (#5661227)
There's a sporcle quiz for this question. I only got Davis. :-)
   16. Nasty Nate Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5661229)
Anyway, if anybody wants to guess the others- good luck with the 2001 guy.

5. May 2001- 11/10
I just searched a bunch on baseball reference and still can't figure it out.
   17. DCA Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:11 PM (#5661239)
Took me a few guesses, but #5 is a guy who put up two surprising 20-20 seasons back to back in 2000/2001, having hit for power throughout his career but never running much before or after those two seasons. That should be enough of a hint, I hope.
   18. Batman Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:14 PM (#5661245)
Yeah, #5 never had more than 6 steals in any of his first eight seasons, and then, after 2000 and 2001, he never had more than 6 in any of his last six years.

One thing I just learned is that he played 16 seasons for three different teams, but only two managers.
   19. DCA Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:17 PM (#5661249)
Got on the first guess: #3 is Bagwell

EDIT. I mean #4 is Bagwell. #3 is HoJo, also first guess.

That leaves 1 and 6. I haven't even thought about who to guess yet. Rule of thumb: SB clump more easily than HR, so I'm looking at power-speed guys who are heavy on the power.
   20. Batman Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:20 PM (#5661256)
Yep.

1. September 1983- 10 HR/10 SB
2. May 1987- 12/11- Eric Davis
3. September 1991- 10/11- Howard Johnson
4. July 1999- 10/10- Jeff Bagwell
5. May 2001- 11/10
6. August 2004- 10/16
   21. DCA Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:27 PM (#5661259)
For 2004, I peaked at the league leaderboards before guessing. Was my first guess from that point. Would have had a good chance at 10/10 in October too, had his team advanced to the world series.
   22. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:28 PM (#5661262)
1. September 1983- 10 HR/10 SB


Dale Murphy?
   23. SoSH U at work Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5661263)
Beltran 2004
   24. DCA Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5661265)
#1 surprised, but it shouldn't have. He went 30-30 that year and fits the profile power-first speed-second perfectly. Only year with 30 steals (exactly) but six years with >30 homers.
   25. DCA Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:31 PM (#5661266)
Yes to 22 and 23

1. September 1983- 10 HR/10 SB - Dale Murphy
2. May 1987- 12/11- Eric Davis
3. September 1991- 10/11- Howard Johnson
4. July 1999- 10/10- Jeff Bagwell
5. May 2001- 11/10 - Ryan Klesko
6. August 2004- 10/16 - Carlos Beltran
   26. Rally Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:48 PM (#5661283)
I guessed Murphy for 1983 - I knew it could not be Dawson because I have a distinct memory of him hitting his 25th homer sometime well before September. He finished with 32. I don't know why I remember that, but it just is.

Klesko - wow. I never would have guessed him stealing 10 bases in a season, let alone a month. He also drove in 40 runs with a .788 SLG that month.
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: April 26, 2018 at 03:49 PM (#5661286)
One thing I just learned is that he played 16 seasons for three different teams, but only two managers.


There can't be many guys who have more franchises than managers played for. McGwire's brief dalliance with Art Howe prevented him from joining the club.

   28. gehrig97 Posted: April 27, 2018 at 11:16 AM (#5661577)
A 4th wish to give him the durability of Cal Ripken might produce this line, which is Eric's stats from 6-1-86 to 6-26-87, where he played 162 games. I don't know if this is the single most impressive 162 game stretch we can find for him, but here goes:

.307, .619 SLG, 145 runs, 46 HR, 122 RBI, 93 walks, 139 K, 97 SB, 12 CS


Good god.
   29. gehrig97 Posted: April 27, 2018 at 11:25 AM (#5661585)
I've let my bref PLay Index subscription lapse (shame on me), but anybody else know how to calculate WAR for specific time-periods? Would love to know what this looks like (Per @Rally): Davis 6/1/86-6/26/87 -- .307, .619 SLG, 145 runs, 46 HR, 122 RBI, 93 walks, 139 K, 97 SB, 12 CS
   30. Booey Posted: April 27, 2018 at 11:26 AM (#5661587)
1987 was a funny year for homers.


Are you implying that hitting .300 with 32 homers and hitting .316 with 31 homers wasn't really the true talent level of greats like Brook Jacoby and Larry Sheets?
   31. Man o' Schwar Posted: April 27, 2018 at 11:27 AM (#5661588)
So that's basically Mike Trout, but with triple the speed. That seems like a good player.
   32. Batman Posted: April 27, 2018 at 11:31 AM (#5661590)
Are you implying that hitting .300 with 32 homers and hitting .316 with 31 homers wasn't really the true talent level of greats like Brook Jacoby and Larry Sheets?
Wade Boggs was really a .360 hitter with 24 homers and not a .360 hitter with 8 homers like he pretended to be in all the other years.
   33. Jose Bautista Bobblehead Day Posted: April 27, 2018 at 07:14 PM (#5661878)
8. Rally Posted: April 26, 2018 at 02:11 PM (#5661180)
A 4th wish to give him the durability of Cal Ripken might produce this line, which is Eric's stats from 6-1-86 to 6-26-87, where he played 162 games. I don't know if this is the single most impressive 162 game stretch we can find for him, but here goes:

.307, .619 SLG, 145 runs, 46 HR, 122 RBI, 93 walks, 139 K, 97 SB, 12 CS
I remember downloading Eric Davis' game logs at one point to find his best 162-game stretch. The best I could find was close to Sean's, but starts 10 days later.

Eric Davis 6-11-86 to 7-4-87: .308/.407/.622, 47 HR, 123 RBI, 149 R, 94 BB, 141 K, 98 SB, 12 CS

Davis had a similarly star-crossed teammate in Kal Daniels. His best 162-game span began a month after Davis', but stretches over parts of three seasons.

Kal Daniels 7-10-86 to 4-9-88: .340/.431/.615, 33 HR, 87 RBI, 104 R, 80 BB, 78 K, 37 SB, 9 CS

To give you an idea of how brittle he was, he had only 596 PA in those 162 games. Give him Davis' 651 PA and he has 36 HR and 40 SB.
   34. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: April 28, 2018 at 10:26 AM (#5662180)
Brittle and heavily platooned, yes.
   35. gehrig97 Posted: April 28, 2018 at 03:42 PM (#5662269)
.308/.407/.622, 47 HR, 123 RBI, 149 R, 94 BB, 141 K, 98 SB, 12 CS


What to make of this?

Barry Bonds with Vince Coleman speed?
Rickey Henderson with Harmon Killebrew power?
Mickey Mantle with good knees?
   36. Mefisto Posted: April 28, 2018 at 05:42 PM (#5662294)
Except for the SB and K, that's pretty close to an average Willie Mays season for the 12 years from 1954 through 1965:

.318/.392/.605, 43 HR, 116 RBI, 126 R, 78 BB, 72 K, 24 SB, 8 CS.
   37. Sweatpants Posted: April 28, 2018 at 08:32 PM (#5662333)
I've let my bref PLay Index subscription lapse (shame on me), but anybody else know how to calculate WAR for specific time-periods? Would love to know what this looks like (Per @Rally): Davis 6/1/86-6/26/87 -- .307, .619 SLG, 145 runs, 46 HR, 122 RBI, 93 walks, 139 K, 97 SB, 12 CS
Fangraphs has monthly WAR leaderboards, so you can get a pretty close approximation of Davis' WAR for that time frame:

6/86 1.3
7/86 2.0
8/86 0.8
9/86 0.4
4/87 1.6
5/87 1.9
6/87 1.0

That comes out to 9.0, so, yeah, it pretty much is a typical Willie Mays season.
   38. gehrig97 Posted: April 28, 2018 at 09:33 PM (#5662375)
Except for the SB and K, that's pretty close to an average Willie Mays season for the 12 years from 1954 through 1965:
Mays famously paid Davis the highest of compliments when he said “it’s honor to be compared Eric Davis.”
   39. gehrig97 Posted: April 28, 2018 at 09:35 PM (#5662377)
@37. Thanks for checking. Have to admit, I’m a little disappointed at the total. Davis was good for 8 bWAR in 1987; figured his best 162-game stretch would be significantly higher.
   40. taxandbeerguy Posted: April 29, 2018 at 12:45 AM (#5662435)
31 beat me to it. Mike Trout with triple the steals and 20 less walks.
   41. Howie Menckel Posted: April 29, 2018 at 01:10 AM (#5662438)
Peter Bourjos, whose career may be over, had a 34-for-68 .500 AVG stretch only a couple of years ago
   42. OCF Posted: April 29, 2018 at 11:50 AM (#5662472)
Do you have a list somewhere of "If I were teaching someone how to bat, I would not have him copy this stance?" Because if you do, Eric Davis has to be on it.
   43. gehrig97 Posted: April 29, 2018 at 05:05 PM (#5662596)
Seriously. Maybe the worst hitch I've ever seen. But hey, whatever works.
   44. Rally Posted: April 30, 2018 at 11:48 AM (#5662848)
Do you have a list somewhere of "If I were teaching someone how to bat, I would not have him copy this stance?" Because if you do, Eric Davis has to be on it


Looking at the WAR estimation in #37, while great Davis (even hypothetical durable Davis) was not unique. Trout's beaten that a few times, Bonds a bunch of times, Mays averaged that kind of production for a long time. Ben Zobrist was even close to that one year. But watching Eric Davis play at his peak - now that was unique.

The stolen bases don't add a huge amount of value, but there is a wow factor there. Dominant hitters who are speedy might give you 30, 40 steals, but Davis stealing at a Raines/Coleman rate is just unheard of.

The stance is another thing you have to see to believe. He just did not look like he was ready to swing. He looked so relaxed. Just standing around, holding a bat. He wasn't going to swing at the pitch, he just looked like he wanted to check it out. Maybe he's not going to swing at all, just holding the bat for the next hitter. Then, quick as lightning his bat explodes through the zone and he blasts a homer to opposite field.
   45. OCF Posted: April 30, 2018 at 04:38 PM (#5663132)
It was how low he held his hands before he swung. Pretty much at his waist, if I remember correctly.

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