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Friday, April 02, 2021

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 4-2-2021

Pittsburgh Press, April 2, 1921:

Bill McKechnie, of Wilkinsburg, is training with the Minneapolis club and was hobnobbing with his former [Pirate] teammates at Oklahoma City. Carlton Molesworth of the Birmingham Southern association team is expected to be at Little Rock Saturday to look over the Pirate second team. Moley wants an infielder and has said he could make a star out of Traynor in a season.

Molesworth got his man; Traynor went to Birmingham and hit .336. By 1923, Pie was hitting .338 in the majors on his way to a Hall of Fame career. Traynor might be a fringy-at-best Hall of Famer, but he was a damn good player.

Also, McKechnie was a little more than a year away from managing Traynor and the Pirates. That went pretty well.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 02, 2021 at 11:52 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dugout, history

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: April 02, 2021 at 11:53 AM (#6011230)
Today's Birthday Team features one of the best rosters we'll see all year.

C: Howard Wakefield (-0.1 WAR)
1B/Manager: Hughie Jennings (42.3 WAR)
2B: Bobby Avila (28.4 WAR)
3B: Luke Appling (77.1 WAR)
SS: Wilmer Difo (0.4 WAR)
LF: Pete Incaviglia (10.3 WAR)
CF: Reggie Smith (64.6 WAR)
RF: Billy Sample (10.5 WAR)

SP: Don Sutton (66.7 WAR)
SP: Tommy Bond (60.9 WAR)
SP: Billy Pierce (53.4 WAR)
SP: Jon Lieber (24.2 WAR)
SP: Ed Siever (18.1 WAR)
RP: Dick Radatz (15.6 WAR)

Owner: Hank Steinbrenner
Director of Fantasy Sports: Daniel Okrent
Fun Name: Cotton Pippen
Big in Japan: Marc Kroon
   2. AndrewJ Posted: April 02, 2021 at 12:57 PM (#6011237)
Three Hall of Famers on today's team, plus Smith and Pierce are in the Hall of Merit, Bond's a good HOF/HOM candidate and Radatz was the top reliever in the early 1960s.
   3. Itchy Row Posted: April 02, 2021 at 01:23 PM (#6011240)
With an OK season, Austin Riley will take over at third and move Appling to short.
   4. GregD Posted: April 02, 2021 at 01:55 PM (#6011251)
LF: Pete Incaviglia (10.3 WAR)
Love the guys who have great name recognition and not much stats. Pete Incaviglia has to be far far better known than many guys with double or triple his value. Being a touted prospect, having a memorable last name, being a power hitter, and (by memory) peaking early all fix a player in my mind to an unjust degree
   5. The Mighty Quintana Posted: April 02, 2021 at 01:59 PM (#6011255)
Also, Amazins' hero Al Weis can lend some infield backup.
   6. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 02, 2021 at 02:13 PM (#6011259)
#4: Incaviglia was also in a couple groups that amplified his fame: the 1986 rookie class with Canseco, Joyner, Snyder, Tartabull, Sierra; and the Texas kids with Sierra and McDowell.
   7. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 02, 2021 at 03:00 PM (#6011270)
Traynor might be a fringy-at-best Hall of Famer,


I think Traynor is exhibit A in showing how advanced stats have changed the way we look at players. Traynor was chosen in 1969 as the third baseman on the MLB offical all-time team, during the celebrations of baseball's Centennial. Fifty years ago, he wasn't regarded as a "fringly-at-best Hall of Famer" - he was regarded as the best third baseman who had ever played the game. I don't think any other player has seen his stock drop as low since then as Traynor has.
   8. AndrewJ Posted: April 02, 2021 at 03:53 PM (#6011287)
#4: Incaviglia was also in a couple groups that amplified his fame:

Not to mention a member of the '93 Phillies.
   9. "bothsidesism" word 57i66135 Posted: April 02, 2021 at 04:02 PM (#6011293)
#4: Incaviglia was also in a couple groups that amplified his fame: the 1986 rookie class with Canseco, Joyner, Snyder, Tartabull, Sierra; and the Texas kids with Sierra and McDowell.
didn't he also go straight to the majors after being drafted, without playing in any minor league games?
   10. "bothsidesism" word 57i66135 Posted: April 02, 2021 at 04:03 PM (#6011294)
Canadian MMA fighter Khetag Pliev began his fight against Devin Goodale on Thursday night with 10 fingers, as almost every fighter begins almost every fight, but he ended it with nine. Fans in attendance for Cage Fury FC 94 in Philadelphia got to witness the first win by TKO – (Detached Finger) in promotion history, as the fight ended between the second and third rounds when someone in Pliev’s corner pointed to where his left ring finger used to be and was, presumably, like “Where’d that one go?” Nobody knew where the digit was at the time, but it was very clear that it was not where it was supposed to be (on his hand).

   11. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: April 02, 2021 at 05:01 PM (#6011309)
Reggie Smith (64.6 WAR)

1988 HoF voting:

Willie Stargell (57.5 WAR): 352 votes (82.4%), inducted.
Reggie Smith (64.6 WAR): three votes (0.7%), um, no.
   12. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 02, 2021 at 06:00 PM (#6011318)
Today's Birthday Team features one of the best rosters we'll see all year.
. . .
SS: Wilmer Difo (0.4 WAR)
The ‘exception’ that proves the ‘rule’, eh? Saw Difo hit a game-winning 3-run HR in 2015 spring training, making him the ‘Hero of Viera’, but the remainder of his career hasn’t reflected that early promise.
   13. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: April 02, 2021 at 06:43 PM (#6011321)
I think Traynor is exhibit A in showing how advanced stats have changed the way we look at players. Traynor was chosen in 1969 as the third baseman on the MLB offical all-time team, during the celebrations of baseball's Centennial. Fifty years ago, he wasn't regarded as a "fringly-at-best Hall of Famer" - he was regarded as the best third baseman who had ever played the game. I don't think any other player has seen his stock drop as low since then as Traynor has.


This is true, but competition at third has gotten a lot stiffer in recent years. Traynor was a terrible choice for the hall, but for decades there wasn't much competition for "great third baseman". (Although granted, by 1969 it should have been obvious that Eddie Matthews was the correct pick and Brooks had passed him too.) Pre-Eddie, I'd guess that the crown should have gone to Frank Baker. But in 1969 he was maybe still top-10ish.

Others clearly ahead of Traynor: Stan Hack, Jimmy Collins, John McGraw, Heinie Groh, Harlond Cliff, Lave Cross, maybe Deacon White (depending on whether you count him as a third baseman), Bob Elliot, Larry Gardner. And then there's other guys in his neighborhood you could argue about. But he was still one of the better third basemen of all time - it's just that that was a really low bar to clear. (Notice how few of those guys are hall of famers.)

Admittedly, I feel dirty for defending Pie Traynor. But his selection wasn't quite as egregious at the time as it would be now.
   14. Walt Davis Posted: April 02, 2021 at 07:02 PM (#6011324)
Inky was probably most famous for his Ks. He led MLB as a rookie with 185, just 4 off the single-season record at the time (Bonds 189) ... and I think it was the AL record. A 30% K-rate was pretty much unheard of at the time. He also added 30 HR which put you on the map then too.

And #9 is correct that he never spent time in the minors. I assume there was controversy going on there -- he was drafted by Montreal in June 85 but then was traded that Nov to Texas. I thought that was against the rules at the time (or was it the Inky rule?) According to Wiki, he refused to play in the minors so Montreal traded him to Tex and they were willing to let him go straight to the majors. Montreal got a young starter named Bob Sebra who had 1.5 solid seasons for them before being traded (for nothing) and never being any good again -- not a disastrous trade.

Pretty darn good 1st round that year -- lots of solid MLers including Larkin, Bonds (both before Inky) and Palmeiro (long after)
   15. Walt Davis Posted: April 02, 2021 at 07:40 PM (#6011326)
On Traynor, the major disconnect between our perception and the contemporary perception is defense. He was considered the best of his time and maybe all-time to that point. He was the first 3B elected by the BBWAA (SABR tells me Jimmy Collins was a VC selection a few years earlier). Gold gloves weren't around in his day but he might well have won a half-dozen or even 10.

WAR gives him 41 oWAR then deducts 3.5 wins for defense which is strongly contrary to his rep. If we gave him Rolen's Rfield, he'd be around 58 WAR. Of course that would make him one of the best of all-time but even Gary Gaetti's defense would add about 13 wins or Matt Williams 9. Those still aren't slam dunk WAR totals by any means but they are Puckett and Brock level.

Who knows if his defensive rep or his Rfield provides the better estimate but HoF voters at the time and the all-time team voters would have seen him as, say, a much better-hitting version of Maz or Maranville (but a worse glove than Maranville). In 1969, he might have still been the only 3B elected by the writers, Brooks was only halfway through his career (and maybe not eligible for the team) and Mathews had maybe just retired (and maybe not eligible not that he ever got a ton of respect from the BBWAA). He had more PA than Baker or Collins. He'd also been a long-time Pitt broadcaster (thanks SABR) and went to spring training with the Pirates through the 60s so that probably kept him in their minds.

(Mathews' last season was 68; I don't know when he announced his retirement or when the voting was held. Mays also wasn't on the team -- Ruth, Cobb, DiMaggio.)

Cochrane
Gehrig
Hornsby
Wagner
Traynor
Ruth, Cobb, DiMaggio
W Johnson
Grove
   16. The Honorable Ardo Posted: April 02, 2021 at 09:03 PM (#6011335)
I, too, see Traynor as "better than sabermetric consensus" but just shy of the Hall of Merit, on a level with Lave Cross, Robin Ventura, and the aforementioned Matt Williams as about the 25th-best third baseman of all time.

Traynor was overrated for a lot of reasons:

- He hardly ever walked or struck out. He put it in play a ton, consistently batted over .300.
- Partly due to Forbes Field, which suppressed homers/increased doubles and triples, and partly due to playing in consistently strong lineups in a high-scoring era, he notched several 100-RBI seasons despite a career high of 12 home runs, so he looked like a Clutch God.
- His archaic-even-for-his-time style of offensive production probably appealed to the older writers who hadn't fully adjusted to the home run era.
- He had a very strong, but inaccurate, arm. He was probably the first guy who could make modern-looking "web gems" like we see nowadays from Manny Machado or Nolan Arenado. He just made more wild throws than they do (even era-relative).
- His career defensive stats are somewhat misleading because he was Gold Glove-caliber every year from 1924 through 1930, but he was below average before and after those years - and got lots of playing time, as a hot prospect on one end and as a veteran star on the other.

Imagine a ever so slightly modified David Wright: a player who struggled at the plate in 2005, broke out and had Wright's actual 2006-2013 prime, then played nearly every day from 2014-18 at the diminished level Wright showed when he was able to take the field in 2014-16. That was Pie Traynor.
   17. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 03, 2021 at 08:44 AM (#6011381)
He'd also been a long-time Pitt broadcaster (thanks SABR)


Pie did live commercials on Pittsburgh's version of studio wrestling, for the American Heating Company. He'd do the pitch, then the wrestling announcer would ask, "Who can?" and Pie would answer, "Ameri-CAN!" After Pie passed, his widow continued the commercials, identified only as "Mrs. Pie."

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