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Friday, November 19, 2021

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-19-2021

Toledo News-Bee, November 19, 1921:

FEW SIX-FOOTERS ARE GOOD PITCHERS

Clark Griffith says that few pitchers who measure better than six feet are worth while. When they come around six feet six inches, then seldom turn out to be great pitchers.

Their height makes it difficult for them to field, and makes them a sucker for bunts. According to Griffith, the late Addie Joss is the only pitcher who went well over six field who could field.

If Jim Kaat winning 16 Gold Gloves and being 6’4” would have blown Griffith’s mind, Randy Johnson would have made him spontaneously combust.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 19, 2021 at 08:23 AM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dugout, history

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: November 19, 2021 at 08:27 AM (#6053536)
A pretty good collection of position players on today's Birthday Team. It's just unfortunate they can't trade some of that catching depth for a starting pitcher.

C: Roy Campanella (41.7 WAR)
1B: Ryan Howard (14.7 WAR)
2B: Gary DiSarcina (11.2 WAR)
3B: Stu Martin (7.2 WAR)
SS: Everett Scott (16.5 WAR)
LF: Joey Gallo (14.4 WAR)
CF: Bobby Tolan (10.1 WAR)
RF: Michael Saunders (6.0 WAR)

SP: Roosevelt Davis (16.6)
SP: Justin Duchscherer (9.9 WAR)
SP: Framber Valdez (4.1 WAR)
SP: Denny Driscoll (3.4 WAR)
SP: Jonathan Sanchez (2.4 WAR)
RP: Clay Condrey (1.6 WAR)

Manager: The other Joe Morgan
Backup catcher: Bob Boone (27.4 WAR)
Umpire: Mike Winters
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 19, 2021 at 01:28 PM (#6053576)
1B: Ryan Howard (14.7 WAR)

I believe that's the lowest lifetime WAR for anyone who won an MVP award (even Willie Hernandez has more)
   3. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 19, 2021 at 01:45 PM (#6053578)
Zoilo Versalles has 12.6.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: November 19, 2021 at 01:54 PM (#6053581)
Jim Konstanty has 11.0.
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 19, 2021 at 02:36 PM (#6053586)
I stand corrected
   6. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 19, 2021 at 03:23 PM (#6053591)
So do I. :-)
   7. salvomania Posted: November 19, 2021 at 03:52 PM (#6053596)
CF: Bobby Tolan (10.1 WAR)

In 1969-70 Bobby Tolan had a combined 10.7 WAR as one of the more dynamic power-speed players in baseball. He hit .291/.371/.516 with a couple homers and a couple steals in the 1970 postseason with the Reds, then a few months later tore his Achilles tendon while playing basketball, causing him to miss the entire 1971 season.

The Reds, missing their starting centerfielder, went from 102 wins in 1970 to just 79 wins in 1971.

Tolan returned in 1972, and the Reds---now with the addition of Joe Morgan---surged back to 95 wins and the NL West title. Tolan picked up where he left off, putting up 4.9 WAR and stealing 42 bases, and then another 5 in the World Series loss to the A's.

Alas, as noted above, he finished his career with 10.1 WAR, despite putting up 15.6 WAR in those three years.

He slumped badly in 1973 and was traded to the Padres, and finished his career with six straight negative-WAR seasons.

Still, for a few seasons, he was a key cog in one of the more star-studded teams of the era (though his only ring came as a reserve outfielder for the 1967 Cardinals), and he even supplanted Pete Rose from his customary leadoff spot for 30+ games in 1970.

Interestingly, he received MVP votes in both 1970 and 1972, but not in arguably his best season, 1969, in which he finished in the Top Ten in average, hits, total bases, runs scored, RBI, triples, and stolen bases.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: November 19, 2021 at 04:20 PM (#6053599)
A pretty good collection of position players on today's Birthday Team

Yeah, but what about the pitchers' heights? Maybe you need to list those instead of career WAR. :-)

Out of curiosity, what was the mound height from (say) 1900-1920? Griffith is casting back but of course it is true that the bunt was an important weapon in the early game. (He might also just have 1 or 2 pitchers in mind, any ideas?) Defense at 3B was incredibly important for example, part of the reason why all the "great" 3B are post-war. With few Ks and lots of bunts, pitcher defense might have been quite important. bWAR is no use here because pitcher defense is just captured in RA9 and TZ offers no estimates for pitchers (DRS does but that's only for recent years and you still have to dig a smidgen to get it.)

I guess we could use the standard fielding numbers vs lg fielding numbers. I'll leave it to others to dig through history and see whether there's any truth to Griffith's conjecture for early baseball at least. As a baseline, here are some lgFP and lgRF9 numbers from different "eras" defined by five guys I thought of (lgFP then lgRF9)

MBrown 1903-1916 945 2.91
Grove 1925-1941 956 2.26
Kaat 1959-1983 953 1.92
Maddux 1986-2008 957 1.81
Scherzer 2008-2021 953 1.59

So the "quality" (FP) has been pretty stable but plays per 9 are indeed down by 1.3 plays between the early days and today. It's interesting that the Kaat and Maddux eras look pretty stable. Anyway, not surprising, pitching defense probably was more important in the early days. But it's not like an extra bunt single here or there would matter very much and I don't imagine that tall pitchers had a RF9 of like 1 or something.

Of course the key stat is that Griffith is listed at 5'6"
   9. Walt Davis Posted: November 19, 2021 at 04:22 PM (#6053600)
Bobby Tolan was the batting stance all us kids imitated before we discovered Stargell's windmill. (Anybody know when Stargell started the windmill?)
   10. salvomania Posted: November 19, 2021 at 04:35 PM (#6053601)
He held his hands about as high as any player I can remember, beginning with his hands literally at forehead level or higher. Kind of crazy.

And I feel like Stargell had that windmill at least in the early '70s, when I remember fierst seeing it.
   11. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 19, 2021 at 04:38 PM (#6053602)
Clark Griffith says that few pitchers who measure better than six feet are worth while.


Walter Johnson, Pete Alexander, and Christy Mathewson were all over six feet tall...
   12. SoSH U at work Posted: November 19, 2021 at 04:43 PM (#6053604)
He held his hands about as high as any player I can remember, beginning with his hands literally at forehead level or higher.


Some iterations of Julio Franco's stance had him beat.
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: November 19, 2021 at 04:57 PM (#6053606)
Clark Griffith says that few pitchers who measure better than six feet are worth while.

Walter Johnson, Pete Alexander, and Christy Mathewson were all over six feet tall...
But were they suckers for bunts?
   14. Itchy Row Posted: November 19, 2021 at 05:21 PM (#6053610)
Campanella has the lowest lifetime WAR for any three-time MVP. It's a pretty good group.

Most Valuable Player
Barry Bonds (7)
Yogi Berra (3)
Roy Campanella (3)
Joe DiMaggio (3)
Jimmie Foxx (3)
Mickey Mantle (3)
Stan Musial (3)
Albert Pujols (3)
Alex Rodriguez (3)
Mike Schmidt (3)
Mike Trout (3)
   15. sanny manguillen Posted: November 19, 2021 at 05:22 PM (#6053611)
And I feel like Stargell had that windmill at least in the early '70s, when I remember fierst seeing it.


I was going to guess 1973 or so. Here's an interview that touches on it, unfortunately without mention of a year: Stargell windmill
   16. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 19, 2021 at 05:40 PM (#6053615)
He held his hands about as high as any player I can remember, beginning with his hands literally at forehead level or higher.
Didn't Counsell start with his hands even higher than that?
   17. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: November 19, 2021 at 05:50 PM (#6053617)
pitcher defense might have been quite important


It still is. /2006Tigers

   18. salvomania Posted: November 19, 2021 at 05:52 PM (#6053619)
Didn't Counsell start with his hands even higher than that?

After perusing the images on Google I would agree with you here.

That's the funny thing about memory: I can tell you Joe Torre's batting line from 1971 (.363, 24 hr, 137 rbi, 230 hits) but I couldn't tell you with confidence who won the 2019 World Series.
   19. Mefisto Posted: November 19, 2021 at 06:23 PM (#6053628)
Defense at 3B was incredibly important for example


People say this all the time, but there's no evidence to support it. Third basemen in the deadball era made no more plays than they did in the 1920s.
   20. Posada Posse Posted: November 19, 2021 at 07:58 PM (#6053637)
And I feel like Stargell had that windmill at least in the early '70s, when I remember fierst seeing it.


Certainly had it in the 1971 World Series (around the 38:00 minute).

Had a more subdued version of that windmill in the 1965 All Star Game (around the 26:40 point).
   21. Howie Menckel Posted: November 19, 2021 at 10:50 PM (#6053654)
As a lefty youngster, Tolan and Stargell batting poses played prominently in my 'sandlot' games (kids: a half-century ago, children were allowed to participate in extensive competitions not only without parents being present, but also no adult umpires/referees/officials. somehow, we survived it all).

worked it in a little bit in Little League/Senior League action, but it was discouraged.
   22. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 19, 2021 at 11:03 PM (#6053656)
In case anyone doesn't remember it, here's Tolan's batting stance.
   23. Ron J Posted: November 20, 2021 at 01:44 AM (#6053666)
#19 Right. But the nature of the plays made was probably very different. I don't think it's in dispute that there were more bunts and vastly fewer hot shots.

As more balls were hit hard 3B transitioned from an agility position to a reaction position.
   24. Mefisto Posted: November 20, 2021 at 09:18 AM (#6053683)
Maybe. But that doesn't mean 3B was in any sense "harder". Just different.
   25. Ron J Posted: November 20, 2021 at 10:03 AM (#6053684)
#24 Sure. But probably more dramatic and thus seeming more important. They had to charge down the ball and make a strong, accurate throw (in a day when errors were far more common)

To our eyes the relative lack of regard for Home Run Baker (most people regarded Jimmy Collins as a far superior player) comes from the fact that he wasn't A+ against the bunt (he was adequate or better. Just nothing special). Mack didn't particularly care about the general perception and placed bunt defense as a lower priority than most of his peers.
   26. Mefisto Posted: November 20, 2021 at 12:08 PM (#6053698)
I agree that managers seem to have thought 3B was more important defensively.
   27. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 20, 2021 at 08:07 PM (#6053799)
Art LaFleur, the actor who played Babe Ruth in The Sandlot and Chick Gandil in Field of Dreams, has died at 78.
   28. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: November 21, 2021 at 12:43 PM (#6053846)
But were they suckers for bunts?

If memory serves (dubious), there's an anecdote about Johnson's first start in 1907, which was against the Tigers. The way (whichever Tiger it was) told the story, they knew immediately they weren't going to hit well against him, so they bunted him to death and won the game 3-2. (The final score, at least, is correct, but looking at the game now, Sam Crawford tied it in the 8th with a home run, and the winning run was scored off of Tom Hughes after Johnson was lifted for a pinch hitter. So bunting against Walter Johnson specifically in that game was responsible for at most one run.)
   29. Mefisto Posted: November 21, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6053858)
That is the story Cobb told. Good on you for checking it.
   30. bobm Posted: November 21, 2021 at 03:07 PM (#6053872)
As more balls were hit hard 3B transitioned from an agility position to a reaction position.

Or, as double plays became more important, 2B transitioned from an offensive position to a defensive position.
   31. CStallion Posted: November 22, 2021 at 05:43 AM (#6053937)
Re 18 - coincidentally the only full line I remember is Olerud 1993 which is 363/24/107 with 54 doubles.

I remember enough individual stats to beat some Sporcle quizzes but whole lines are harder.

Without looking it up, did the Dodgers win in 2019?
   32. CStallion Posted: November 22, 2021 at 05:49 AM (#6053938)
Will Clark also held his hands high with a mini windmill.

I don't think he was particularly popular in our parts but I tried to hit with that stance against some low level pitching. It worked well until I faced someone with a "real" (probably still sub-80mph) fastball.

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