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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Where Have You Gone, Rance Mulliniks?

I wondered how unusual this was, to employ a platoon in 97 percent of a team’s games? Had any platoon ever finished at 100 percent? To help answer these questions, I asked Retrosheet’s Tom Ruane to provide me some data and (as usual) he came through. Because Retrosheet’s lineup data go back to 1908, my study covers 1908-2017, 100 seasons.

For the purposes of my study, I define a platoon as a two-person single-position job share in which a left-handed hitter starts against right-handed pitchers, and a right-handed hitter starts against left-handed pitchers. I am looking at starting lineups, so what happens the rest of the game does not matter. I am looking at positions in isolation, so I do not care what a player does on his day off – he might platoon at catcher but play center field on his “off” days. I allow a switch-hitter to hold down one half of a platoon – his starts against the “other” handed pitchers would not count as complying with the platoon.

Fiore Gino Posted: July 10, 2018 at 08:59 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bobby cox, platoon

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   1. Rusty Priske Posted: July 10, 2018 at 10:59 AM (#5707621)
1908-2017 isn't 100 seasons.

Just sayin'...

   2. Hank Gillette Posted: July 10, 2018 at 11:39 AM (#5707658)
1908-2017 isn't 100 seasons.

We might want to check his math in the rest of the article.
   3. John DiFool2 Posted: July 10, 2018 at 12:38 PM (#5707726)
His methodology missed several classic platoon pairs, such as Mike Easler and Lee Lacy for the 80's Pirates. By BBRef, I get them platooning in left, after the 1st nine games, 148 times out of 153.
   4. Mike Webber Posted: July 10, 2018 at 12:40 PM (#5707729)
Mark Armour just did a study on this at the SABR convention, maybe he will share his slides?

12:30 p.m.–12:55 p.m. (Grand Ballroom 1)
RP27: Season-Long Platoons
Mark Armour

Until now, no one has undertaken a comprehensive examination of the venerable practice of platooning in baseball. In search of the elusive “Perfect Platoon” (all games against righthanded pitchers started by the lefthanded hitter, and all games against southpaws started by the righthanded batter), Armour discusses numerous sets of platoon partners, some well-known and others obscure. Along the way, we learn a great deal about platooning — when it was most popular, most frequent fielding position platooned, managers who operated platoons most often, etc. Spoiler alert: Matty Alou and Manny Mota (CF, Pirates, 1966) came closest to achieving platoon perfection.
   5. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 10, 2018 at 12:42 PM (#5707734)
Where Have You Gone, Rance Mulliniks?
...a nation turns one of its lonely eyes to you, and the other to Garth Iorg. Woo-woo-worg.
   6. Tom Nawrocki Posted: July 10, 2018 at 12:43 PM (#5707736)
Mark Armour is the author of TFA.
   7. PreservedFish Posted: July 10, 2018 at 12:48 PM (#5707744)
I think it's a good article. I, for one, could not have named the greatest platoon ever.
   8. McCoy Posted: July 10, 2018 at 01:02 PM (#5707760)
In June I picked up all my old stuff from my parent's house and among the stuff I picked up were all my old sports cards. While trying to organize them neatly so that I can store them somewhere out of the way I happened to come across a Mulliniks card from Topps from 86 or so.

Once I went through my CCG stuff looking for anything of value I took a peak at what might be the value of the stuff I had from the various sports. I laughed as I found out that I mostly collected in the era that is called the "Junk Wax Era". I think the most valuable cards I have from that era is like 2 bucks. I have some stuff from 1983 and 1984 that is worth a few more dollars than that but none of it is worth enough for me to bother sorting it all out. I also discovered that for whatever reason my mom continue collecting cards long after I left. For instance I had maybe purchased 3 or 4 pack of football cards in my life and now somehow I have hundreds and hundreds of football cards from the 80's and 90's. I'm guessing my mom for whatever reason was purchasing batches of cards at garage sales while I was gone and now somehow I'm stuck with them.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 10, 2018 at 01:09 PM (#5707770)
I have some stuff from 1983 and 1984 that is worth a few more dollars than that
Apparently, they're only worth that if you pay to send those cards to a professional grading service and they're in absolutely 100% perfect condition.
   10. McCoy Posted: July 10, 2018 at 01:19 PM (#5707789)
Apparently, they're only worth that if you pay to send those cards to a professional grading service and they're in absolutely 100% perfect condition.

Apparently they would be worth an insane amount of money if they managed to come back as a 10. I have no desire to send a $10 card to get graded on the very very slim chance that it somehow comes back a 10 and would then be worth hundreds of dollars.
   11. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: July 10, 2018 at 02:14 PM (#5707846)
His methodology missed several classic platoon pairs, such as Mike Easler and Lee Lacy for the 80's Pirates. By BBRef, I get them platooning in left, after the 1st nine games, 148 times out of 153

on twitter last week, I suggested Roenike/Lowenstein and he said they "didn't qualify" whatever that means
   12. puck Posted: July 10, 2018 at 03:32 PM (#5707942)
That's a great article. BBTF readership is probably the target audience, since most of us remember Bobby Cox's Blue Jays, and all the Earl Weaver platoons.

There were a couple seasons where Roenicke and Lowenstein started 80+% of the O's games in LF (1982 - 138, 1983: 136) but some of those starts must have been against the platoon. Just eyeballing, 1982, I see a couple April starts for Roenicke vs. Dennis Leonard. Maybe Lowenstein had an April injury or maybe Weaver's index card said good things about Roenicke vs Leonard.
   13. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 10, 2018 at 04:27 PM (#5708000)
Garth Iorg holds the Blue Jays record for most games played by someone who ONLY played for the Blue Jays in his MLB career (931).

That's pretty much it for "cool things about Garth Iorg, other than his name".
   14. Walt Davis Posted: July 10, 2018 at 06:17 PM (#5708025)
Many years ago, a few of us here were trying to start a historical DM league. Never got off the ground (or they ditched me :-). We were going to start I think in 1977, something like that. We were trying to come up with a rule to make sure nobody could use that guy who happened to go 3 for 6 against LHP all season long. I think it was something like you couldn't use a player for more than 10% more IP/PA than he actually had against that side. But I pointed out how challenging this could be given the large amount of platooning going on in that era.

I'd been poking around players in prep for a draft. There's LHP Dan Schatzeder. Nothing special really but teams clearly decided he was tough on LHB. In 1978, still a rookie, he threw 148 innings, faced 586 batters ... and 495 of them were RHB, a ratio higher than 5/1. I pointed out that Schatzeder's manager would have no control over whether opposing lineups limited themselves to 1-2 LHB against Schatzeder. And he wasn't actually particularly tough on them in 1978 or his career (I suppose he faced only the best early on) so opposing managers would have no particular reason to do so.

I also found Mike Cubbage, a LHB 3B who had a few solid seasons. For his career, his PA split was 1966/255, greater than 7:1. For the Twins in 1977, he was paired with Jerry Terrell; in 1978, it was a guy named Larry Wolfe. I didn't check to see if it was strictly L/R although given Cubbage's PA splits it almost had to be ... or at least Cubbage almost never started against LHP.

On Roenicke/Lowenstein, I can imagine there might have been a few games where Earl DH'd or benched Lowenstein to get Roenicke's glove in. Plus I think that criterion will get messed up anytime somebody gets hurt. In that Cubbage/Wolfe example, I noticed a stretch where Wolfe started 7 of 8 games. Maybe the Twins really did face 7 LHP in 8 games but it seems more likely that Cubbage just came up lame. It's unlikely the Twins were trying to find more time for Wolfe's 84 OPS+. I don't know what a stretch like that does to the search criteria.

Also weren't Benny Ayala and later Jim Dwyer and probably others part of that whole O's mix, likely to mix up the "single position that alternates."

Actually now looking up the numbers, the main problem is that Earl didn't play Lowenstein very often. He never had a season of even 400 PA and most seasons didn't make 300 PA. He never started 100 games (99) and it wasn't really until 82-84 that Earl used him with regularity and Roenicke had more total starts in 82 and 84. So it looks like it was really just 82-83 with 93/45 and 98/38 starts in LF.

Looking at 82 in some detail though: The season started with a good number of Roenicke starts -- too lazy to check but probably not that many LHS. Then Roenicke must have gotten hurt because it shifts to a Lowenstein Ayala platoon through mid-June. Then Roenicke starts 8 of the next 9 games. After that it returns to what looks like a regular Lowenstein/Roenicke platoon (with some Ayala and Roenicke picking up starts elsewhere too). For whatever reason, the lineup page gives slightly different numbers of 92 starts for Lowenstein, 46 for Roenicke and 22 for Ayala. 1983 looks closer to a strict platoon (Landrum joins the mix too) although 98 starts for Lowenstein seems a bit light.
   15. Fiore Gino Posted: July 10, 2018 at 10:41 PM (#5708162)
It wasnt over the course of a full season but Al Oliver/Cliff Johnson was another platoon Bobby Cox used during his time with the Blue Jays

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