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Monday, October 11, 2021

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-11-2021

Alaska Daily Empire, October 11, 1921:

GIANTS AND YANKEES EVEN UP WORLD SERIES; BARNES PLACES MYSTICAL SPELL ON THE YANKS

Victory perched on the bats of the Giants this afternoon when the Yankees pitching staff caved-in and engulfed the American Leaguers in an 8 to 5 defeat.
...
Barnes pitching cast a mystical spell over the Yankees, 10 of whom were erased at the plate by strike outs.

The Giants had won three out of the last four to tie the best-of-nine series 3-3. Things fell apart for the American League champions when Babe Ruth scraped his elbow stealing third base in Game Two. The site became infected and forced the Babe out of the lineup for most of the rest of the series.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 11, 2021 at 08:19 AM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: babe ruth, dugout, history, world series

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 11, 2021 at 08:20 AM (#6045358)
Today's Birthday Team isn't great, but it's better than The Replacements would be.

We've got a first baseman at third, a third baseman at second, and a third baseman at short. Urshela could absolutely play shortstop in the majors if needed, but Da Meat Hook and Twigginton could barely even put on a baseball glove.

C: Bob Stinson (4.3 WAR)
1B: Mike Fiore (1.6 WAR)
2B: Ty Wigginton (2.8 WAR)
3B: Dmitri Young (12.2 WAR)
SS: Gio Urshela (5.1 WAR)
LF: Yale Murphy (-0.2 WAR)
CF: Buttercup Dickerson (7.1 WAR)
RF: Curt Ford (1.5 WAR)

SP: Will White (34.9 WAR)
SP: Orlando Hernandez (23.1 WAR)
SP: Bob Chipman (7.4 WAR)
SP: Bill Fischer (3.6 WAR)
SP: Charlie Williams (2.8 WAR)
RP: Gregg Olson (12.8 WAR)

Umpire/Baseball Card Enthusiast: Bob Engel
Not that one: Rick James
None of those ones: Bob Jones
Fun names: Buck Washer, Larry Luebbers
Banned for life, for two years: Jenrry Mejia
   2. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 08:51 AM (#6045366)
Man, it's been a while since I've done one of these. Finally finished the '80s in my starting pitcher rankings, which means it's time for trivia! (As a reminder from the distant past, the pitcher rankings are based on a rolling weighted average of Game Score, with adjustments for park and league scoring environment, inactivity, etc. Basically my own version of the rankings Bill James introduced a while back.)

18 different pitchers reached #1 during the '80s, which I believe is the second-most in any decade so far (trailing the chaotic '50s). Name all of them. Total in-season days at #1:

568
305
304
186
182
121
54
46
37
36
35
28
23
12
11
7
5
2
   3. Mefisto Posted: October 11, 2021 at 08:55 AM (#6045369)
Dave Stieb, Dwight Gooden, John Tudor, Fernando Valenzuela, Roger Clemens, Bret Saberhagen.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 11, 2021 at 08:58 AM (#6045371)
I'll add Orel Hershiser, Ron Guidry, Teddy Higuera, Jack Morris, John Tudor, and Bruce Hurst.
   5. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:00 AM (#6045372)
568
305. Dave Stieb
304. Roger Clemens
186
182. Dwight Gooden
121
54. Bret Saberhagen
46. Fernando Valenzuela
37
36
35
28
23
12. John Tudor
11
7
5
2

All of the above! Valenzuela suffers a bit from the fact that his famous '81 season was (a) his rookie year, and (b) shortened by the strike; he actually didn't make it to #1 until early 1985.
   6. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:02 AM (#6045374)
568
305. Dave Stieb
304. Roger Clemens
186
182. Dwight Gooden
121
54. Bret Saberhagen
46. Fernando Valenzuela
37
36. Jack Morris
35
28
23. Orel Hershiser
12. John Tudor
11. Teddy Higuera
7
5
2

Hurt's highest point in the decade was #3, Guidry's was #2 (he spent over 200 days at #1 in the late '70s, though).
   7. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:04 AM (#6045375)
I kind of had an instinctive rebellious reaction to Morris reaching the top spot, but he was genuinely very good in '83 and early '84 (which is when he got there), and the '80s were rather short on all-time great pitchers having extended peaks. (Not completely without them, just not nearly as many as there were in the surrounding decades.)
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:08 AM (#6045380)
Mike Scott
Greg Maddux
Nolan Ryan
Mario Soto
   9. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:14 AM (#6045384)
568
305. Dave Stieb
304. Roger Clemens
186. Mike Scott
182. Dwight Gooden
121
54. Bret Saberhagen
46. Fernando Valenzuela
37
36. Jack Morris
35
28
23. Orel Hershiser
12. John Tudor
11. Teddy Higuera
7. Mario Soto
5. Nolan Ryan
2

Too early for Maddux.

Ryan reached the top spot for 5 days (across 3 stints) in August and September of 1989, at age 42. He had last been #1 in May 1978, a gap of 11.5 years. That is by far the largest gap I've seen to date (and the largest I expect to see), breaking the previous record held by... someone you guys haven't guessed yet.
   10. RickA. Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:19 AM (#6045390)
David Cone, Mark Gubicza, Kevin Appier, Chuck Finley
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:22 AM (#6045391)
Don Sutton? Tommy John? Phil Niekro?
   12. AndrewJ Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:23 AM (#6045392)
Steve Carlton?
   13. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:24 AM (#6045393)
568
305. Dave Stieb
304. Roger Clemens
186. Mike Scott
182. Dwight Gooden
121
54. Bret Saberhagen
46. Fernando Valenzuela
37. Mark Gubicza
36. Jack Morris
35
28
23. Orel Hershiser
12. John Tudor
11. Teddy Higuera
7. Mario Soto
5. Nolan Ryan
2

Nice! I was expecting Gubicza to take much longer to get. (Had a seemingly-unhelpful hint all picked out and everything.)

Cone had a good '88 but it was his fist good year; he peaked at #24 for the decade. Finley peaked at #22. (Might be worth checking both of them when we get to the '90s; we'll see how that goes.) Appier debuted in '89 with five bad starts; he's definitely a '90s guy.
   14. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:28 AM (#6045394)
568. Steve Carlton
305. Dave Stieb
304. Roger Clemens
186. Mike Scott
182. Dwight Gooden
121
54. Bret Saberhagen
46. Fernando Valenzuela
37. Mark Gubicza
36. Jack Morris
35
28
23. Orel Hershiser
12. John Tudor
11. Teddy Higuera
7. Mario Soto
5. Nolan Ryan
2

Cannot believe Mark Gubicza was guessed before Steve Carlton. (Carlton was the person whose "longest gap" record Ryan broke; his was 7.5 years, from early '73 to late '80.)

Both Niekro and Sutton spent time at #1 in the '70s, but in the '80s, they both peaked by reaching #2 at different points in '81 (behind Carlton, who was #1 that entire year, the only pitcher who has run the table in a season since Bob Gibson in '69). Tommy John's high point was a #3 ranking in '80.
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:43 AM (#6045398)
Mark Langston?
Dave Stewart?
Pete Vuckovich?
   16. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:47 AM (#6045400)
568. Steve Carlton
305. Dave Stieb
304. Roger Clemens
186. Mike Scott
182. Dwight Gooden
121
54. Bret Saberhagen
46. Fernando Valenzuela
37. Mark Gubicza
36. Jack Morris
35
28. Mark Langston
23. Orel Hershiser
12. John Tudor
11. Teddy Higuera
7. Mario Soto
5. Nolan Ryan
2

Langston finishes off the six pitchers who reached the top spot in '89, which is one of my favorite seasons ever for the rankings. (Four of the six - Hershiser, Gubicza, Langston and Saberhagen - were making their debut in the top spot; Ryan, as mentioned, was returning after over a decade away.)

Stewart topped out at #6 in '88 (although he's gotten higher than that in the portion of '90 I've processed so far). Vuckovich peaked at #14.

The three remaining pitchers include the guy who started the decade at #1, and the guy who denied Carlton a chance at running the table in '82.
   17. JJ1986 Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:54 AM (#6045404)
Seaver?
   18. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:55 AM (#6045405)
Seaver reached #1 at some point in every season from '70 to '78, and spent time in the top 10 in the '80s, but nothing higher than the #5 ranking with which he began the decade.
   19. JJ1986 Posted: October 11, 2021 at 09:59 AM (#6045407)
One more guess - Steve Rogers.
   20. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:00 AM (#6045409)
568. Steve Carlton
305. Dave Stieb
304. Roger Clemens
186. Mike Scott
182. Dwight Gooden
121
54. Bret Saberhagen
46. Fernando Valenzuela
37. Mark Gubicza
36. Jack Morris
35
28. Mark Langston
23. Orel Hershiser
12. John Tudor
11. Teddy Higuera
7. Mario Soto
5. Nolan Ryan
2. Steve Rogers

Rogers actually spent more time at #1 in the '70s, but he did get 2 days in 1982, the only days anyone other than Carlton spent in the top spot that year. (I was expecting Captain Canada to have a more even time split at #1 that year, but it didn't work out that way.)
   21. sanny manguillen Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:06 AM (#6045412)
Reuschel or Sutcliffe?
   22. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:10 AM (#6045415)
Sutcliffe peaked at #4 in '85. Reuschel's highest point in the '80s was #4 in '80 (his overall career high was #2 in '78).
   23. sanny manguillen Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:17 AM (#6045420)
Viola?
   24. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:21 AM (#6045424)
Viola reached the top 3 in '87, '88 and '89, but didn't reach #1 in the '80s.

The remaining pitchers both had only one year with any time at #1. One was in '80 (started the decade on top), the other was in '86.
   25. Nasty Nate Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:24 AM (#6045425)
The remaining pitchers both had only one year with any time at #1. One was in '80 (started the decade on top), the other was in '86.
Blyleven? Tommy John? Tanana? for the 1980 one.
   26. sanny manguillen Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:25 AM (#6045426)
Mike Flanagan for the 1980 guy?
   27. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:28 AM (#6045430)
Blyleven is another guy who peaked at #2 in '81 while Carlton was going wire-to-wire. (That's for the '80s, he reached #1 in the '70s.) Tanana also hit the top spot in the '70s, but by the '80s was settled into his solid innings-eater phase; his highest point in the decade was #19. Flanagan peaked at #6 in '80. John was mentioned earlier, topped out at #3.
   28. sanny manguillen Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:29 AM (#6045431)
Wild guess: Joaquin Andujar for the '86 guy.
   29. kthejoker Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:34 AM (#6045432)
JR Richard?
   30. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:36 AM (#6045433)
Not entirely wild; Andujar peaked at #5, a spot he reached in three consecutive years from '83 to '85. No #1 though.

The decade starter had a great year in '79 (which is why he was #1 to start the '80s), and was pitching even better in '80, until he wasn't.

The other remaining pitcher was the ace of a team that would win a western division title in '86 only to lose an outstanding LCS, despite their ace pitching well.
   31. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:38 AM (#6045434)
568. Steve Carlton
305. Dave Stieb
304. Roger Clemens
186. Mike Scott
182. Dwight Gooden
121. JR Richard
54. Bret Saberhagen
46. Fernando Valenzuela
37. Mark Gubicza
36. Jack Morris
35
28. Mark Langston
23. Orel Hershiser
12. John Tudor
11. Teddy Higuera
7. Mario Soto
5. Nolan Ryan
2. Steve Rogers

I see my hint was unnecessary! Yes, Richard was #1 for the first 4 months of the '80s, holding the spot for a while even after his stroke. He joins Dizzy Dean, Herb Score, and Sandy Koufax on the list of pitchers who had career-altering or -ending injuries while ranked #1.
   32. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:40 AM (#6045438)
Side note: I am currently working through the 1990 rankings while simultaneously giving hints about 1980. This has caused some adventures with me entering dates wrong and Excel becoming very confused.
   33. sanny manguillen Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:41 AM (#6045441)
Mike Scott
   34. sanny manguillen Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:42 AM (#6045442)
Sorry, Scott's gone
   35. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 10:44 AM (#6045444)
There is also one other pitcher who meets that exact description (and might have even more in common with Mike Scott than the hint mentions).
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 11, 2021 at 11:12 AM (#6045451)
Mike Witt, no?
   37. JJ1986 Posted: October 11, 2021 at 11:18 AM (#6045454)
I can name like 3 pitchers on those Angels. It's not Chuck Finley or Donnie Moore and I don't think it's Don Sutton.
   38. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 11:34 AM (#6045462)
568. Steve Carlton
305. Dave Stieb
304. Roger Clemens
186. Mike Scott
182. Dwight Gooden
121. JR Richard
54. Bret Saberhagen
46. Fernando Valenzuela
37. Mark Gubicza
36. Jack Morris
35. Mike Witt
28. Mark Langston
23. Orel Hershiser
12. John Tudor
11. Teddy Higuera
7. Mario Soto
5. Nolan Ryan
2. Steve Rogers

Correct! That finishes us off.

The '86 playoffs, along with being exciting throughout, also included the top 4 in the pitcher rankings at that point, one pitcher per team (Scott, Witt, Clemens, Gooden). Which would have been a talking point if the rankings were a thing.
   39. Nasty Nate Posted: October 11, 2021 at 11:42 AM (#6045469)
one pitcher per team (Scott, Witt, Clemens, Gooden). Which would have been a talking point if the rankings were a thing.
I'll go out on a limb and say plenty was talked about those 4 guys during the '86 playoffs!
   40. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: October 11, 2021 at 11:58 AM (#6045474)
The '80s are an interesting decade for the rankings, because, as mentioned, there weren't a lot of all-time greats in their prime. (Carlton at the beginning, Clemens at the end, and that's about it.) Looking at the number I use to aggregate ranking position career-wise, the top 10 for the decade are:

Stieb
Carlton
Ryan
Morris
Valenzuela
Blyleven
Gooden
Clemens
Sutton
Guidry

Half in the Hall of Fame, but out of that half, Blyleven, Sutton, and Carlton (narrowly) have more value outside the '80s than in them. Ryan is close (and will join the group once the '90s are included), and Clemens (not in the Hall but worth mentioning) is on his way as well. That leaves Morris, whose candidacy... drew some protest around here (from me as much as anyone).

So what do you do with that?

Part of my hypothesis going into this project is that ordinal rankings have value. Obviously we know that context affects a player's ability to put up extreme raw numbers, but I suspect that context also has an effect on things like WAR, which attempt to adjust for context. I suspect it's not a coincidence that the crazy pitching numbers of the early '70s came right after the major leagues expanded by 50% in a decade, or that the comparatively tame WAR totals of the late '50s (at least on the pitching side) happened as integration was pushing replacement level higher.

I've barely started on the '90s, so there's every chance that I'll be proven wrong, but at present I would not be surprised if Dave Stieb's career looks better by the rankings than, to pick another notorious jerk, Kevin Brown's. And even apart from any Mitchell Report concerns, I might prefer to see Stieb in the Hall over Brown, despite Brown's additional 11 WAR.
   41. The Honorable Ardo Posted: October 11, 2021 at 03:37 PM (#6045518)
The 1980s felt like the last decade before "maximum velocity" became a thing, and however fast a pitcher threw was more or less constant. Also, no new teams were added, while a large influx of Latin American talent (particularly in the American League) raised the quality of play.

Most of the elite pitchers of the '90s (Clemens, Maddux, Johnson, Glavine, Smoltz, Schilling, etc.) began their careers in the mid-to-late '80s and were acclimated to the new environment. Pedro is the only exception, but he was watching big brother Ramon's progress.
   42. Walt Davis Posted: October 12, 2021 at 02:07 AM (#6045721)
You've misplaced the big Latin influx. 64 Dominicans and 28 Venezuelans began their career in the 80s.** (Almost nobody born in Cuba started in the 80s and I'm not sure any of them played ball in Cuba.) That was an increase in talent level but not nearly enough to explain a big drop in pitching performance -- especially since most of those guys were small, defense-first IFs, not sluggers. Unless you want to include Sosa (203 PA at age 20 in 1989), the best DR player to debut in the 80s was either Franco or Fernandez and Rijo among pitchers. For Venezuela, omitting Omar, it was Galarraga and Ozzie Guillen and Galarraga did most of his damage after 1989 (as did Guillen if you catch my drift).

Talent levels likely were quite high in the 80s but that would mainly be because of the massive US birth cohorts at the end of the baby boom coming of age and entering the league.

By contrast, 156 Dominicans and 62 Venezuelans debuted in the 90s; 213 and 130 in the 00s; 265 and 162 in the 2010s. That coincided with stable/declining US birth cohorts entering their 20s and the 90s expansion.

The pitching drought of the 90s is probably due to three things -- a random dearth of pitching talent, the transition from 4 to 5-man rotations (without us adjusting our expectations) and bad injury luck. Stieb was a HoF-level pitcher whose career essentially ended at 32. As it is, he ended up with more innings, wins and WAR than Koufax. Saberhagen kept missing time ... and ended up with slighly more innings, wins and WAR than Koufax. Gooden -- well he might have been off the HoF path even before he got sidetracked.

Stieb was #1 in WAA for the decade, Saberhagen #3, Hershiser #4, Gooden #6 ... only Hershiser made it to 3000 career IP and he was still under 3200. (Clemens 2, Blyleven 5). Those guys ranged from about 20 to 28 WAA. For 70-79, there were 6 guys with more WAA than Stieb. But then again, all 6 of those guys in 70s pitched roughly as many innings as Stieb did for his entire career.

Fergie 70s: 2707 IP, 117 ERA+, 28.5 WAA, 52.6 WAR
DS career: 2894 IP, 122 ERA+, 30.7 WAA, 56.5 WAR

Nothing mysterious there, just that Fergie crammed Stieb's career into a decade. That was also roughly true of Palmer, Perry, Blyleven, Niekro and Seaver. All of those guys except for Palmer added 1800 more innings on top of that (Palmer just 1300). Now expansion (very likely) made it easier for those guys to throw that many innings in a decade but they still had to stay healthy doing so and for another decade or so outside of those years to make the HoF. Those guys (and Carlton and Gibson) set a nearly impossible standard for SPs to meet ... altough the case of Stieb, Morris, Hershiser, etc. wasn't helped by Maddux, Clemens, Johnson, Glavine, Pedro, etc. matching/exceeding the standards of the 70s guys (except in CGs).

** this is from the batters table but since it includes plenty of pitchers with 0 PA, I assume that's all of them.
   43. The Honorable Ardo Posted: October 12, 2021 at 03:15 AM (#6045724)
Thank you, Walt, for the added context!

Out of curiosity, I wondered how many pitchers had multiple top-10 finishes in pitching WAR during the 1980's. Here's the list:

Stieb: 5
Blyleven, Carlton, Clemens: 4
Hershisher, Higuera, Saberhagen, Valenzuela: 3

Compare the 1970's; there's far less churn:

Niekro, Palmer: 6
Perry, Seaver: 5
Blyleven, Jenkins: 4
Blue, Ryan, Tanana, Wood: 3
(Carlton, Guidry, Hunter, Reuschel, and Tiant 2; Sutton 1)

The 1990's were just as top-heavy:

Clemens, Maddux: 7
Johnson: 6
Cone: 5
Brown: 4
Appier, Finley, Hentgen, P. Martinez, Mussina, Rijo, Schilling: 3
(Glavine and Smoltz: 2)

All this is BB-Ref WAR, so someone else's results may vary.

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