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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

THT: Treder: Non-Batting Batters: A History

Steve Treder takes a terrific look at non-batting batters…or how I learned to cuss out Ross Moschitto in a flavorful sing-songy fashion!

In addition, a roster-management rule that was in place from 1953 through 1957 had an impact. It was the Bonus Baby era, in which many managers were forced to carry extremely inexperienced youngsters on their roster all season long, and often these managers found that pinch-running and late-inning defense were the only suitable roles for the kids. Schofield, Bertoia, Amalfitano, and Carroll were all Bonus Babies in these seasons.

The 1956 Boston Red Sox, managed by Pinky Higgins, became the first team to deploy two non-batting batters: 23-year-old outfielder Gene Stephens, who was the late-innings caddy for Ted Williams, and 21-year-old infielder Billy Consolo, who was deployed in an extremely limited role as a defensive sub at second base for Billy Goodman and Ted Lepcio. The odd thing about Consolo is that he had already been a Bonus Baby, in 1953-54, yet in those years he was given dramatically greater playing time than he was in ‘56, despite the fact that the Red Sox were free to choose to farm him out in ‘56.

Repoz Posted: February 21, 2006 at 03:15 PM | 41 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. PhillyBooster Posted: February 21, 2006 at 03:37 PM (#1870305)
Most career runs scored without a single plate appearance in his career: Herb Washington, 33

Any guesses on #2 on the list?
   2. Steve Treder Posted: February 21, 2006 at 03:58 PM (#1870319)
So Repoz, did you have those bang-o, beat-o, flat-on-your-seat-o, Ross Moschitto blues?
   3. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 21, 2006 at 05:21 PM (#1870412)
Larry Lintz, 1976: BA: .000; OPS+: 112.

That must be the greatest (OPS+)-(BA) in a season, all time!
   4. Punky Brusstar (orw) Posted: February 21, 2006 at 05:39 PM (#1870438)
Steve, I like these type of articles.

In addition, a roster-management rule that was in place from 1953 through 1957 had an impact. It was the Bonus Baby era, in which many managers were forced to carry extremely inexperienced youngsters on their roster all season long, and often these managers found that pinch-running and late-inning defense were the only suitable roles for the kids.


At least two of the more recent nonbatters (Adam Stern and Manny Lee) were in a similar situation. They were Rule V guys.

BTW, I agree with the fact that you need to get at bats to stay sharp. I'm not sure how to quantify it, but rest (rust?) is the hitter's enemy.
   5. Steve Treder Posted: February 21, 2006 at 06:07 PM (#1870465)
BTW, I agree with the fact that you need to get at bats to stay sharp. I'm not sure how to quantify it, but rest (rust?) is the hitter's enemy.

One attribute of managing skill is, I strongly believe though obviously it can't be quantified or proven, the ability to involve the entire roster in a productive, efficient manner. Bench players perform at their best when they get starts on a reasonably regular basis, and regulars perform at their best when they get some occasional rest. The strict relegation of full-time regulars vs. only-in-an-emergency scrubeenies is, I think, the suboptimal way to go.
   6. Punky Brusstar (orw) Posted: February 21, 2006 at 06:10 PM (#1870468)
The strict relegation of full-time regulars vs. only-in-an-emergency scrubeenies is, I think, the suboptimal way to go.


That lesson was hammered home to me in the 4th or 5th grade in 1978. Thank you Don Zimmer!
   7. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 21, 2006 at 06:20 PM (#1870477)
One attribute of managing skill is, I strongly believe though obviously it can't be quantified or proven, the ability to involve the entire roster in a productive, efficient manner. Bench players perform at their best when they get starts on a reasonably regular basis, and regulars perform at their best when they get some occasional rest.

Don't let the Dusty-haters hear you.
   8. Steve Treder Posted: February 21, 2006 at 06:28 PM (#1870483)
I remember seeing a photograph one time of Ted Williams, standing in left field at Fenway with his hands on his hips, looking dead tired, with the Green Monster scoreboard visible in the background behind him, showing the Red Sox trouncing the Browns in that historic 29-4 game in 1950.

And the thought that's always come to my mind is: what the hell is the 31-year-old Ted Williams still doing in the game when the outcome is that fully in the bag?
   9. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: February 21, 2006 at 06:36 PM (#1870490)
A lot of people here may know this, but whatever. There's a fairly well-known clip of a minor-league game where an outfielder chasing after a ball runs through the outfield fence. (For example, it's in the introduction to Len Berman's "Spanning the World" bit on Channel 4 News in NYC.) That was Rodney McCray. And he held on to the ball!
   10. Steve Treder Posted: February 21, 2006 at 06:42 PM (#1870496)
Ah, the 1950 Red Sox ... thinking of that 29-4 game prompted me to look up their Game Log on Retrosheet. Here are the Red Sox in the 9-game stretch from June 2nd through June 10th, 1950, all at home:

Friday 2 June vs. CLE: W 11-5
Saturday 3 June vs. CLE: W 11-9
Sunday 4 June vs. CHI: W 17-7
Monday 5 June vs. CHI: W 12-0
Tuesday 6 June vs. CHI: L 4-8
Wednesday 7 June vs. STL: W 20-4
Thursday 8 June vs. STL: W 29-4
Friday 9 June vs. STL: L 7-12
Saturday 10 June vs. DET: L 8-18
   11. OnWI Posted: February 21, 2006 at 06:47 PM (#1870502)
I'm a punk with no real world experience, but from observation even I can tell that if someone is just hanging out on the bench pretty soon bad things are going to happen. Guys don't feel like working hard ('cause there's no payoff right?), cliques form, and when someone finally does call their name it's in a totally obscure situation so they treat it as a goof. And then when it IS an emergency they s*ck. 'Cause they aren't in shape or got their head on right.

I cracked earlier that farmer talk makes me laugh but the one my grandmother uses all the time applies.

"Idle hands are the devil's playground."

I guess it's the job for the manager to balance the need for his studs to get most of the action while rotating in the second stringers. But that's why they get the serious cash right? Not for just showing off the latest in polyester fashion for middle aged fat dudes.

Later,

H3
   12. jmac66 Posted: February 21, 2006 at 07:12 PM (#1870528)
damn--that list from the 50s--them were my baseball cards

Reno Bertoia
Ducky Schofield
Gene Stephens
Gino Cimoli

it was always the scrubbeenies that you got multiples of

and Chico Ruiz from 1971, the ultimate utility player who once said (supposedly) "bench me or trade me"
   13. Shiny Beast Posted: February 21, 2006 at 08:14 PM (#1870603)
Great article. Coupla' random things:

•Glen Barker was pretty close to what Herb Washington, et al, were, except he was used for late inning defense, too, which I am pretty sure Washington wasn't (did he even have a fielder's glove? Or bat?) But GB was very often used as a pure pinch-runner by Dierker, usually in crucial situations, and he was very fast. And a terrible baserunner. Unlike Washington, Barker had a baseball background, but he didn't appear to have many instincts out there. He'd probably got by purely on speed for so long, he didn't need to learn the mechanics of it, how to take a lead, how to read a pitcher, the right way to cut a bag, how and when to tag up, etc. I used to dread him being put in to run.

•Mike Jorgensen was a great 1B defensively (he was a pretty good CF, too), something like Mint-cave-itch is now, but I am a little suprised he was used so extremely, because he had some offensive talents. He never hit for much of an average, but he had some power and OBP skills, and early on a little speed.

•Whatever else one could say about him, Gene Mauch was usually pretty good at getting his whole bench playing time. I don't know if it was by design, or because some of the teams he had required him to try anyone and everyone.

•Rich McKinney 48G/65AB
Mike Andrews 18G/21AB
Dal Maxvill 29G/19AB
Manny Trillo 17G/12AB

I know they don't meet the criteria, but I just wanted to cite some of the guys from one of my favorite lineup quirks from the early '70s A's, The Revolving Second Baseman Strategy. This may have actually been Dick Williams' idea -- in some ways, he was as wacky as Finley (even before he stepped out onto that hotel balcony.) He would start an outfielder or corner IF at 2nd base, usually batting 2nd, when the A's were on the road. Then, in the bottom of the 1st, after his ringer had batted, he'd sub a real 2B, and often wouold PH for that spot each time it came up. He did this mainly late season 1973, with the A's driving for their 2nd pennant in a row. In addition to giving employment to a lot of veteran light- to non-hitting middle IF's, it also meant that forevermore if one looks up the fielding stats for that team on BB Ref, one will see that Jay Johnstone was a 2B. And Billy Conigiliaro and Gonzalo Marquez (pinch-hitting hero of the '73 ALCS and WS.) Even Angel Mangual, and Gene Tenace (the only one of them who actually had to field a ball there -- Williams must have run out of players.) I love Dick Williams, man.

•Mike Hegan, OAK
1971 65G/55AB (60 PA)
1972 98G/79AB (86 PA)
1973 75G/71AB (76 PA)

The 1970-1975 A's had several players with similar usage patterns. Kind of fascinating how they used their personnel. It was a franchise philosophy for a time, it appears.
   14. RichRifkin Posted: February 21, 2006 at 08:37 PM (#1870636)
The '82 Angels, managed by Gene Mauch, had a starting outfield of converted catcher Brian Downing, ever-brittle Fred Lynn, and 36-year-old Reggie Jackson—a perfect storm, one might say, of opportunities for outfield defensive replacement.

It seems to me that if the 2006 Giants play a starting outfield of 42-year-old Barry Bonds in Left, 41-year-old Steve Finley in Center, and 40-year-old Moises Alou in Right -- say Randy Winn gets hurt -- this, too, might be a perfect storm for using Jason Ellison as an everyday, late-in-game defensive replacement.
   15. jacjacatk Posted: February 21, 2006 at 08:53 PM (#1870658)
It seems to me that if the 2006 Giants play a starting outfield of 42-year-old Barry Bonds in Left, 41-year-old Steve Finley in Center, and 40-year-old Moises Alou in Right -- say Randy Winn gets hurt -- this, too, might be a perfect storm for using Jason Ellison as an everyday, late-in-game defensive replacement.


Are you allowed to sub one guy for the whole OF? I'm assuming Ellison covers enough ground that it's about break-even vs that trio.
   16. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: February 21, 2006 at 09:20 PM (#1870701)
Runs scored by players with no plate appearances:

Herb Washington: 33
Everybody else: 21 (sixteen other players, including Eddie Phillips of the '53 Cardinals, who is second on this list with four)

Just today, I was trawling around the sabermetric encyclopedia looking fo the ultimate do-nothing player: most plate appearances, career, making all outs, no runs, RBI, stolen bases or sacrifices:

20, Earl Stephens ('71 Cubs, '72 Brewers).

Most by a non-pitcher:

15, John O'Neill (1899, 1902 Cardinals).

However, Josh Labandeira went nothing-for-14 with the Expos in 2004, and he turns 27 on Saturday. Here's hoping Josh can claim the record!
   17. PhillyBooster Posted: February 21, 2006 at 09:23 PM (#1870705)
Herb Washington: 33
Everybody else: 21 (sixteen other players, including Eddie Phillips of the '53 Cardinals, who is second on this list with four)


Eddie Phillips is actually half of the answer to the trivia question I asked in #1.

Ron Guidry also has four runs scored and no plate appearances.
   18. Steve Treder Posted: February 21, 2006 at 09:49 PM (#1870737)
Glen Barker was pretty close to what Herb Washington, et al, were, except he was used for late inning defense, too, which I am pretty sure Washington wasn't (did he even have a fielder's glove? Or bat?)

Washington had a glove, and would very occasionally play catch on the sidelines. But he hadn't even played high school baseball, and had no skill whatsoever.

The Revolving Second Baseman Strategy. This may have actually been Dick Williams' idea -- in some ways, he was as wacky as Finley (even before he stepped out onto that hotel balcony.)

I'm pretty sure the Revolving Second Baseman was Finley's idea. He had his managers continue it on occasion after Williams was gone.

Another of Finley's bold-but-whacky ideas will be featured in next week's piece.
   19. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: February 21, 2006 at 09:54 PM (#1870744)
Ron Guidry also has four runs scored and no plate appearances.

You are correct, sir: Sinis doesn't list Guidry's offensive stats, for some reason.
   20. jmac66 Posted: February 21, 2006 at 10:50 PM (#1870799)
in the regular season Guidry has no plate appearances and 4 runs scored; in the world Series, he has 9 plate appearances and no runs scored
   21. PhillyBooster Posted: February 21, 2006 at 10:57 PM (#1870810)
You are correct, sir: Sinis doesn't list Guidry's offensive stats, for some reason.


One wonders if Sinis excluded lots of other pitchers' stats too.

The only players with multiple runs scored without a PA are Washington, Phillips, Guidry, Jack Cassini (3), Mike Boddicker (2), and Doug Hansen (2).

A bunch of others have one.
   22. Steve Treder Posted: February 21, 2006 at 10:59 PM (#1870814)
in the regular season Guidry has no plate appearances and 4 runs scored; in the world Series, he has 9 plate appearances and no runs scored

Why does that sound exactly like the sort of thing Tim McCarver would say (while the other broadcasters in the booth roll their eyes, no doubt)?
   23. Russ Posted: February 21, 2006 at 11:09 PM (#1870835)
One attribute of managing skill is, I strongly believe though obviously it can't be quantified or proven, the ability to involve the entire roster in a productive, efficient manner.

The late 80's/early 90's Pirates were a testament to Jim Leyland's ability to do this. He always got guys at bats, used a couple of platoons and squeezed every last bit of usefulness out of his regularly craptacular, piecemeal bullpens.
   24. jmac66 Posted: February 21, 2006 at 11:18 PM (#1870846)
Why does that sound exactly like the sort of thing Tim McCarver would say (while the other broadcasters in the booth roll their eyes, no doubt)?

bite your tongue, knave!
   25. Shiny Beast Posted: February 21, 2006 at 11:19 PM (#1870847)
I'm pretty sure the Revolving Second Baseman was Finley's idea. He had his managers continue it on occasion after Williams was gone.

You're probably right. And of course we know the Make The Second Baseman A Scapegoat And Classlessly Axe Him strategy was perfected by Finley later in '73.

Another of Finley's bold-but-whacky ideas will be featured in next week's piece.

Can't wait. I'll waste some company time this week trying to guess which one it will be.
   26. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: February 22, 2006 at 12:04 AM (#1870892)
I've got a guy on my LoungeLeague team that I've been using in a Herb Washington role -- Linc Blakely (rated Vg in steals). Ideally, I'd use him as a defensive replacement, but he's only average with the glove and because his bat isn't anything special, he doesn't get a whole lot of plate appearances.

As a result, he isn't playing much, but that's DMB. If it were real life, I suppose I'd either have to give him an occasional start, farm him, or try to deal for a guy with a better glove that could at least get into more games.
   27. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: February 22, 2006 at 12:11 AM (#1870903)
Bench players perform at their best when they get starts on a reasonably regular basis, and regulars perform at their best when they get some occasional rest.

--Don't let the Dusty-haters hear you


I realize you're just baiting us, but I don't think anyone would complain if a guy like Neifi Perez or Todd Hollandsworth got a start once a week; it's the fact that they get most of the starts that is the problem.

But of course, to SdeB, the fact that Dusty took the Cubs to the playoffs in 2003 means he gets a free pass for the rest of his life, even though neither Jim Riggleman, Don Zimmer, nor even Jim Frey (who also took the team within 5 outs of a World Series) lasted more than two seasons past their Cub playoff appearances.
   28. Gerry Posted: February 22, 2006 at 03:12 AM (#1871050)
Missing from the essay: Sandy Piez.
Here.
   29. Steve Treder Posted: February 22, 2006 at 03:31 AM (#1871070)
Missing from the essay: Sandy Piez.

Great call. I overlooked him. Mea culpa.

I'll execute an errata on the THT website. Please feel free to email me (streder@hardballtimes.com) if you wish to have me credit you by name.

Thank you!
   30. OCF Posted: February 22, 2006 at 03:48 AM (#1871081)
It's a September call-up (expanded rosters) and it's a very small sample, but I've always liked Tim Raines's line for 1979: 6 games, no plate appearances, no games in the field, 2-0 as a base stealer, 3 runs. The Expos were in a pennant race at the time.
   31. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 22, 2006 at 05:31 AM (#1871170)
Steve, I have a question for you on the related topic of bonus babies. In David Maraniss' upcoming biography of Roberto Clemente, he refers to Clemente as a bonus baby, noting that his $10,000 bonus from the Dodgers exceeded the then-limit of $6,000. According to Maraniss, the penalty for the Dodgers' farming out Clemente was that he had to be exposed to the Rule V draft the following year (where the Pirates selected him with the No. 1 pick).

In your earlier piece on bonus babies, you specifically noted that Clemente was not a bonus baby. But was he subject to the bonus baby rules? I had always thought that teams had no option, that if a player exceeded the bonus limit, he had to stay on the big club no matter what. But the way Maraniss frames it makes a lot of sense.

Is Maraniss right that the Rule V draft was the penalty for sending out a bonus baby?
   32. Steve Treder Posted: February 22, 2006 at 06:03 PM (#1871334)
In your earlier piece on bonus babies, you specifically noted that Clemente was not a bonus baby. But was he subject to the bonus baby rules? I had always thought that teams had no option, that if a player exceeded the bonus limit, he had to stay on the big club no matter what. But the way Maraniss frames it makes a lot of sense.

Is Maraniss right that the Rule V draft was the penalty for sending out a bonus baby?


Very interesting questions.

First off, Clemente was clearly and definitely not a Bonus Baby: he wasn't kept on the active major league roster by the Dodgers for the first two years following his signing, obviously.

I don't know for certain the exact terms of the Bonus rules as they applied in 1954, but my understanding has always been that the risk of not keeping the big-bonus signee on the big league roster wasn't just that he would be subject to the Rule V draft the following off-season (everyone not on the 40-man roster was subject to that draft), but instead that he would have to pass through waivers immediately. In other words, as I understand it, if Clemente was subject to the Bonus rule, if the Dodgers decided to farm Clemente out to Montreal upon signing him (as they did), the Pirates could have claimed him on waivers immediately, and not had to wait until November to draft him under Rule V.

I'm pretty sure what the Dodgers did with Clemente was just hope that by "hiding" him in a bench role with Montreal in '54, he wouldn't attract attention, and they could get by with not protecting him on the 40-man that November. But the Pirates weren't fooled.

But I might be wrong.
   33. Simon Oliver Lockwood Posted: February 22, 2006 at 06:15 PM (#1871358)
Whitey Herzog made a practice to have an infielder who came very close to that usage pattern on his Cardinals teams. Tom Lawless was the archetype.
   34. Shiny Beast Posted: February 22, 2006 at 07:27 PM (#1871481)
Not directly related to this, but the comments about LaRussa's use of Mike Squyres in various places with the White Sox reminded me of something I came across recently that I don't think I knew before. In 1973, Red Sox manager Eddie Kasko used Carl Yastrzemski as his starting 3B for 30 games or so, toward the end of the season. Of course, Yaz threw right-handed, unlike Squyres, but still it strikes me as a bit odd.

What basically happened, it appears - on Aug 11, Rico Petrocelli went down with a season-ending injury. The Red Sox were in 4th place, but only 2 1/2 games out of first. Kasko tried Danny Cater at 3B for the next couple of weeks, and Cater hit okay, but I'm guessing didn't impress anyone with the glove. At any rate, at that point Yaz was moved over to 3B (from 1B), and Cecil Cooper was called up to take Yaz's place. And that's how the played the rest of the season (Boston ended up 2nd in the AL East, 8 games back of Baltimore.)

Yaz had been a premier LF, of course, and then had moved in to be the full-time 1B a couple of seasons prior. He had almost no experience at 3B. Kasko's other options off his bench - Mario Guerrero, John Kennedy - weren't too exciting, but Tommy Harper was on that team, playing LF, and he had considerable experience at 3B, or considerably more than Yaz, anyway (250 career starts at 3B, including 70 as recently as 1971.)

I am curious to know why Kasko chose Yastrzemski, and how Yaz did out there, if anyone remembers.
   35. Simon Oliver Lockwood Posted: February 22, 2006 at 07:46 PM (#1871510)
Yaz was Hobson-esque at 3b.
   36. Steve Treder Posted: February 22, 2006 at 07:48 PM (#1871514)
I am curious to know why Kasko chose Yastrzemski, and how Yaz did out there, if anyone remembers.

Hey, somebody might have written about that situation. The entry on Yaz is about halfway down.
   37. The Hop-Clop Goes On (psa1) Posted: February 22, 2006 at 08:31 PM (#1871563)
I can't offer a specific good source or anything, but my understanding of the Clemente/signing/ruleV story is exactly as you've described it, Steve. I was under the impression (perhaps from reading the same story several times) that there wasn't much doubt about Clemente's pre-Pirates sequence of events.
   38. Shiny Beast Posted: February 23, 2006 at 01:01 AM (#1871940)
Hey, somebody might have written about that situation. The entry on Yaz is about halfway down.

You know, I'm sure I read that article, too. Damn.

Anyway, I am still curious why Kasko chose Yaz over Harper. Instead of moving two starters around, to positions they were familiar with (Harper from LF-3B, Yaz from 1B-LF) he left Harper alone and moved Yaz to a position he hadn't really played since the minors, about a dozen years prior. Moving Yaz to LF would still have made room for Cooper at 1B, if that was what was on their minds. If he wanted to keep Yaz out of LF (he'd started ad dozen or so games out there that year already), he could've moved Harper in and used Rick Miller or Oglivie or Cater or some combination of them.

I'm not saying it was a bad move, or the wrong one, just interersting.
   39. Steve Treder Posted: February 23, 2006 at 01:20 AM (#1871956)
Anyway, I am still curious why Kasko chose Yaz over Harper. Instead of moving two starters around, to positions they were familiar with (Harper from LF-3B, Yaz from 1B-LF) he left Harper alone and moved Yaz to a position he hadn't really played since the minors, about a dozen years prior.

I fully agree it was a little wacky. But then let's remember we're talking about the managerial genius of Eddie Kasko here; in 1970 he played perennial Gold Glove left fielder Yaz at first base, and perennial Gold Glove first baseman George Scott at third.
   40. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 23, 2006 at 01:46 AM (#1871972)
I'm pretty sure what the Dodgers did with Clemente was just hope that by "hiding" him in a bench role with Montreal in '54, he wouldn't attract attention, and they could get by with not protecting him on the 40-man that November. But the Pirates weren't fooled.


We discussed this a while back on SABR-L (a perk of SABR membership - for those of you who aren't members, just another reason to become one). Stew Thornley investigated Clemente's season at Montreal pretty throughly, and noted that Clemente did sit and watch for three months. At one point early in the season, Clemente started a game and had three hits. He started each of the next three games, going hitless, then went back to the bench. Thornley notes that this was not uncommon for a young player in those days. Clemente did become a platoon player after mid-July, and started every game in which the Royals faced LHP after July 25. There is a story that the Pirates told the Dodgers after a series with Richmond right before Clemente started platooning that there was no need to keep hiding him because the Bucs were going to draft him anyway, and Thornley couldn't find anything to either support or to debunk that story, other than the fact that a few details were off.

-- MWE
   41. fables of the deconstruction Posted: February 26, 2006 at 08:13 PM (#1875820)
Another of Finley's bold-but-whacky ideas will be featured in next week's piece.

orange baseballs...??? ;) ...

--------
trevise

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