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Monday, November 16, 2020

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-16-2020

Bridgeport Times, November 16, 1920:

Babe Ruth has been in Cuba with the Giants and has played fifteen games, receiving $1,000 per game in return. He didn’t make a single home run in the fifteen games, though he batted .500 on the trip.

Torrientes [sic], the “Black Babe Ruth,” on the other hand, hit three home runs in one game last week, and in a fourth trip to the plate made a two-bagger. For his feat he received $184—which was showered on him as he rounded the bases—and he had to pick it all up!

I imagine this is supposed to be a light, fun story, but it just makes me angry that guys like Cristobal Torriente were reduced to picking up coins that were flung at them in order to make a living. Torriente was a magnificent player; he was universally regarded as an elite defensive outfielder and the Seamheads NeL encyclopedia has him as a .343/.428/.509 hitter over a two-decade career.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 10:26 AM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dugout, history

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 10:27 AM (#5988926)
Speaking of which, today's Cristobal Torriente's birthday. Happy birthday, Cristobal! We will now fling hunks of metal at you.

C/Manager: Mike McGeary (11.0 WAR)
1B: Rollie Zeider (6.0 WAR)
2B: Frank Bolling (16.9 WAR)
3B: Julio Lugo (13.5 WAR)
SS: Ed Busch (1.1 WAR)
LF: Morrie Arnovich (6.8 WAR)
CF: Cristobal Torriente (0 WAR, Negro Leagues legend)
RF: Ab Wright (-0.9 WAR)

SP: Dwight Gooden (53.0 WAR)
SP: Paul Foytack (10.4 WAR)
SP: Clay Bryant (7.6 WAR)
SP: Bill McGee (8.0 WAR)
SP: Chris Haney (3.1 WAR)
RP: Jordan Walden (3.3 WAR)

Fun names: Joe Quest, Jake Munch, Blas Monaco, Cheslor Cuthbert
Not quite as successful as his father: Pete Rose Jr. (-0.3 WAR)
Pinch runner: Herb Washington (-0.5 WAR)
Pioneer: Glenn Burke (-2.4 WAR)
   2. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 10:33 AM (#5988928)
All right, after a rather extended delay, we're back with another decade of #1 rated pitchers in the starting pitcher rankings. (As a reminder, this is based on my own modification of Bill James's ongoing starting pitcher rankings, which are explained here.)

By days spent at #1 during the '70s:

597.
220.
183.
173.
139.
138.
104.
98.
81.
54.
50.
42.
42.
41.
8.
2.
   3. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 10:41 AM (#5988932)
Let's start with these five:

Guidry
Phil Niekro
Palmer
Carlton
Gaylord Perry
   4. JJ1986 Posted: November 16, 2020 at 10:50 AM (#5988934)
Seaver?
   5. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 10:54 AM (#5988935)
597. Tom Seaver
220. Ron Guidry
183. Gaylord Perry
173.
139.
138.
104.
98. Steve Carlton
81.
54.
50.
42.
42. Jim Palmer
41.
8. Phil Niekro
2.
   6. Rally Posted: November 16, 2020 at 10:56 AM (#5988937)
I imagine this is supposed to be a light, fun story, but it just makes me angry that guys like Cristobal Torriente were reduced to picking up coins that were flung at them in order to make a living. Torriente was a magnificent player; he was universally regarded as an elite defensive outfielder and the Seamheads NeL encyclopedia has him as a .343/.428/.509 hitter over a two-decade career.


I'm just glad they didn't have instant replay back then because the cameras would have shown Torriente came off the second base bag in order to retrieve a piece of silver while the fielder still had the tag on him.

The fans would have gotten unruly and demanded a refund.
   7. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:01 AM (#5988939)
Comments on these guys: Seaver leads the decade by a wide margin, obviously, but he also has the lowest total to lead a decade so far; that's a combination of some stiff competition and his suffering from the unnamed-at-the-time Saberhagen Syndrome. He was still year-end #1 in '71, '73, and '77 (the only pitcher with multiple year-end #1 finishes in the decade), spent at least some time at #1 in every year from '70 to '78, and spent almost the entire decade ranked in the top 5.

Guidry had the longest streak of in-season days at #1 in the decade at 217. (Seaver's longest string was 100, and you can see from the list that nobody else even had 217 total days at #1). He was unsurprisingly year-end #1 in 1978.

Perry is the current leader among all pitchers (1918-79) in days spent at #1 without having a year-end #1 finish. He missed out to Carlton in '72, and was narrowly passed at the end of '74 by a pitcher who has not yet been guessed.

Carlton I don't have a ton to say about (in the '70s at least). He was really good in '72, then kind of up and down for the rest of the decade, and didn't get back to #1 by the end of '79.

Palmer and Niekro both have surprisingly low totals; it's partly due to the method, which rewards rate over volume to a certain extent that definitely hurts Niekro. Palmer didn't make it to #1 until early '77, after he'd won all three of his Cy Young awards (obviously the '75 and '76 seasons were still helping him in the rankings at that point), and Niekro barely squeaked in ahead of Guidry for a bit in late '78 before Guidry ran away with it.
   8. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:03 AM (#5988941)
Nolan Ryan
Catfish Hunter
Cuellar
Marichal
Vida Blue
Messersmith
   9. Nasty Nate Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:05 AM (#5988942)
Nolan Ryan?
Don Sutton?
Catfish Hunter?
   10. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:09 AM (#5988943)
597. Tom Seaver
220. Ron Guidry
183. Gaylord Perry
173.
139.
138.
104. Nolan Ryan
98. Steve Carlton
81. Catfish Hunter
54.
50.
42. Don Sutton
42. Jim Palmer
41.
8. Phil Niekro
2. Andy Messersmith
   11. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:10 AM (#5988944)
The answer is almost certainly no, but did any of Splittorff, Torrez, Rick Wise, John Denny, or Rick Reuschel get to #1?
   12. Nasty Nate Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:11 AM (#5988947)
Luis Tiant? Bert Blyleven?
   13. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5988949)
Ryan was the pitcher who edged out Perry (and one other guy, who hasn't been guessed yet) at the end of '74; his last start that year was a no-hitter, and he also had two separate 19-strikeout starts in the last two months that season (one in 9 innings, one in extras).

Hunter squeezed past Seaver for year-end honors in '75. He benefits slightly from how I do park adjustments; the Yankees played in pitchers parks for the whole decade, but they moved into Shea for two years in the mid '70s while Yankee Stadium was undergoing renovations, which led to the Yankees' park adjustment not being at full strength for a while. But he probably did enough anyway.

Messersmith eked out a couple days at #1 in early '76, right at the end of his effective career.

If you had told me going into this that Don Sutton would spend as much time at #1 as Jim Palmer, I would not have believed you. He also got there earlier, reaching the top in parts of '73 and '75 (compared to Palmer's '77 and '78).
   14. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:24 AM (#5988953)
Fergie Jenkins? Was he in Texas when Billy Martin was there? I know Billy loved to run his star pitchers out there for eighty skadillion innings.
   15. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:24 AM (#5988954)
597. Tom Seaver
220. Ron Guidry
183. Gaylord Perry
173.
139.
138.
104. Nolan Ryan
98. Steve Carlton
81. Catfish Hunter
54. Bert Blyleven
50.
42. Don Sutton
42. Jim Palmer
41.
8. Phil Niekro
2. Andy Messersmith

Going over some of the no's to this point: Cuellar peaked at #4 during 1970. Marichal started the decade at #2 (and spent time at #1 during the '60s) but didn't make it to the top in the '70s. Blue had the best overall performance in the rankings of anyone who didn't reach #1; he made it to the top 5 in '71 (which was a great year, but Seaver started too far ahead of him and was also great), '76, '77, and '78, but had too many less-good years in between.

Tiant is on the short list of best pitchers never to reach #1; his career is broken up a little too much for him to reach the top spot in the rankings. (It also didn't help that in his two ERA title years, one was at the same time as someone else having a historically great season, and the other was partly spent in relief; he only had 19 starts in '72, and the starting pitcher rankings are indifferent to relief work.) He still reached #2 in '68, '69, and '74, and finished in the top 10 four times.

Career high rankings so far for the rest:
Splittorff: 16
Torrez: 14
Wise: 6
Denny: 24 (only came up late in the decade, might be worth revisiting in the '80s)
Reuschel: 2 (during '78, also reached the top 10 in '77 and '79).

I'm slightly surprised Reuschel doesn't do somewhat better, but despite being a pitcher who had a lot of success in a hitter's park in front of lousy fielders, his FIP numbers aren't all that great, and Game Score 2 is relatively FIP-heavy.
   16. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:30 AM (#5988956)
Jerry Koosman? Was he dominant enough?
Jerry Reuss?
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:31 AM (#5988957)
Steve Rogers?

   18. SoSH U at work Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:32 AM (#5988958)
How could BTF forget, Frank Tanana.

   19. SoSH U at work Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:32 AM (#5988960)
And one more guess, the Bird?

   20. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:33 AM (#5988961)
Bird's a great guess. Nice.

Bill Lee? (No relation.)
   21. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:36 AM (#5988962)
597. Tom Seaver
220. Ron Guidry
183. Gaylord Perry
173. Ferguson Jenkins
139.
138.
104. Nolan Ryan
98. Steve Carlton
81. Catfish Hunter
54.
50.
42. Don Sutton
42. Jim Palmer
41.
8. Phil Niekro
2. Andy Messersmith

Ferguson Jenkins was GOOD; he came up a bit earlier than Seaver, and his totals in a lot of the methods I use to break down the rankings were running neck-and-neck with Seaver's for a while. He also never finished #1, and is narrowly behind Perry in days at #1 without a year-end crown, but he has six top-10 finishes to date, plus two more in what I think of as top-half ace range (that is, the top N/2 where N is the total teams in the league). He was #1 for a majority of the '71 season (thanks largely to his 7:1 K:BB ratio, which was the third straight MLB-leading figure Jenkins had posted), but Seaver passed him at the end.

Also, I didn't specifically talk about Blyleven earlier, but I had forgotten just how long and good his prime was; he was a year-in, year-out upper echelon ace from '71 to '77. His 54 days at #1 (so far) are a comparatively modest total, but he's fourth in the decade in days as a top-half ace, and spent over 2.5 years ranked either #2 or #3. He finished #2 twice ('73 and '74), and in the top 10 every year from '72 to '79.
   22. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:37 AM (#5988963)
Joe Niekro? Either Forsch?
   23. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:41 AM (#5988964)
597. Tom Seaver
220. Ron Guidry
183. Gaylord Perry
173. Ferguson Jenkins
139.
138. Frank Tanana
104. Nolan Ryan
98. Steve Carlton
81. Catfish Hunter
54. Bert Blyleven
50.
42. Don Sutton
42. Jim Palmer
41. Steve Rogers
8. Phil Niekro
2. Andy Messersmith

Tanana was pretty great for a while there. Year end #1 in '76, and spent most of '77 there only to tail off and finish #5.

Steve Rogers is a great guess; he was also REALLY good, and I suspect he ends up being overlooked because his Expos teams never won a pennant, despite having three players (Carter, Dawson and Raines) who were even better than Rogers was. Also, has anyone ever given him the nickname "Captain Canada?" Because it seems super obvious.

Fidrych isn't a bad guess, but he actually peaked at #17; you really need at least two full seasons of excellent pitching to reach #1, and he didn't have that much.

Two pitchers to go; amusingly enough, they're the pitchers who started and ended the decade at #1.
   24. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:44 AM (#5988965)
Joe Niekro's peak (so far) is #27; the highest point either Forsch reached in the '70s was Bob's #21. (Ken spent a decent amount of time as a reliever in the '70s, which didn't help him here.)

Between those guesses, you've got the right teams for the remaining pitchers, just the wrong players.
   25. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:44 AM (#5988966)
I can't imagine Randy Jones was #1 in 1970 or 1979, but he also seems like a 1970s pitcher who was really really good for a while and has been largely forgotten.
   26. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:45 AM (#5988969)
Was Bob Gibson #1 in 1970?
   27. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:49 AM (#5988970)
JR Richard for ‘79?
   28. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:51 AM (#5988971)
597. Tom Seaver
220. Ron Guidry
183. Gaylord Perry
173. Ferguson Jenkins
139. Bob Gibson
138. Frank Tanana
104. Nolan Ryan
98. Steve Carlton
81. Catfish Hunter
54. Bert Blyleven
50.
42. Don Sutton
42. Jim Palmer
41. Steve Rogers
8. Phil Niekro
2. Andy Messersmith

I believe I talked quite a bit about Gibson last time we did this, and also in the thread about his passing. He was stupendous in '68, obviously, but I think it's often forgotten how long he spent at or near the top of the game; he spent more time at #3 than he did at #1 (and is far and away the leader to date in time spent at #3), and finished in the top 6 eleven years in a row, from '62 to '72 (add a twelfth year if you extend it to top 7). And yes, he finished #1 in '68, '69, and '70; through the end of '79, he is the last pitcher to have back-to-back #1 finishes.

Randy Jones peaked at #5 during his Cy Young season in '76.
   29. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 11:56 AM (#5988972)
597. Tom Seaver
220. Ron Guidry
183. Gaylord Perry
173. Ferguson Jenkins
139. Bob Gibson
138. Frank Tanana
104. Nolan Ryan
98. Steve Carlton
81. Catfish Hunter
54. Bert Blyleven
50. JR Richard
42. Don Sutton
42. Jim Palmer
41. Steve Rogers
8. Phil Niekro
2. Andy Messersmith

And that's a wrap.

JR Richard had 9.7 bWAR between the '78 and '79 seasons. Now consider the fact that his FIPs those years were 60 and 50 points lower than his ERAs, respectively. He led the majors in ERA in '79, and his FIP still beat it by 50 points. And he threw 292 innings.

Not to spoil the '80s list too much (although the person who ends the previous decade at #1 tends to start the next one there anyway), but Richard joins Dean, Score, and (arguably) Koufax as pitchers whose careers were ruined by injury or ailment while they were #1 in the rankings.
   30. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 12:13 PM (#5988977)
Thinking about the decade as a whole, the '70s were almost as chaotic at #1 as the '50s, when 22 separate pitchers reached the top spot. The '70s "only" had 16 - still the second-most so far - but they also had the lowest first-place and second-place totals, despite having the most in-season days thanks to the expanded playoffs. Despite the similar levels of chaos, the best pitchers of the '70s are pretty much all in the Hall of Fame (the top 11 in ranking value have all made it, and the top 10 are also in the HoM). By comparison, the #3 pitcher in the '50s, Billy Pierce, is not in the Hall of Fame, and I believe he's generally considered a fringy HoM choice.

I don't know that either of those things is incorrect, necessarily; there are lower-ranked pitchers from the '50s in both Halls, and I'm not going to argue too strenuously for the exclusions from the '50s (maybe Don Newcombe, but... Bob Rush? Mike Garcia? Johnny Antonelli?). But it's worth pointing out that between 1959 and 1970, the league expanded by 50%, which makes it easier to run up big seasonal totals (as the talent is diluted), and big career totals (because more teams need pitchers). And I'm not convinced that methods like WAR adjust for that enough. Which is partly why I like the starting pitcher rankings, because if you look only at ordinal ranking (that is to say, how everyone compares to their own immediate peers), you can examine players through a different lens.
   31. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 16, 2020 at 12:42 PM (#5988983)
It's a bit of a pity that Rollie Zeider had a half-season with the Yankees in 1913, because without that he would have had a nine-year MLB career, all in the city of Chicago, but with three different teams - first with the White Sox, then the Whales of the Federal League, and then the Cubs...
   32. Itchy Row Posted: November 16, 2020 at 01:00 PM (#5988986)
It's a bit of a pity that Rollie Zeider had a half-season with the Yankees in 1913, because without that he would have had a nine-year MLB career, all in the city of Chicago, but with three different teams - first with the White Sox, then the Whales of the Federal League, and then the Cubs...
Rollie Zeider is first on the alphabetical list of the two players who appeared for the Cubs, Sox, and Whales, ahead of Dutch Zwilling. Zwilling only played for those three teams.
   33. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 16, 2020 at 05:05 PM (#5989088)
Bonus note from the '70s. The pitchers who scored best in the rankings without reaching #1 were, in order:

Vida Blue (peaked at #3)
Jerry Koosman (5)
Mickey Lolich (3)
Luis Tiant (2)
Jon Matlack (4)
Rick Reuschel (2)
Ken Holtzman (6)
Mike Cuellar (4)
Tommy John (4)

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