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Monday, August 19, 2019

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 8-19-2019

Pittsburgh Press, August 19, 1919:

The baseball war between Franklin and Oil City, situated within eight miles of each other, and baseball rivals since time immemorial, has reached a climax in the signing by Franklin of three members of the Philadelphia American League team. They are Scott Perry and Thomas Rogers, pitchers, and Harry O’Donnell, catcher. Oil City has not been idle, and lately has acquired Gordonier, of the Buffalo International League team, and Carman [sic] Hill of Indianapolis, formerly of the Pittsburg Pirates.

I know that it was a result of lower salaries at the time, but it’s just inconceivable to me that small cities in the (relative) middle of nowhere could sign multiple major league players for their rivalry games.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: August 19, 2019 at 10:14 AM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dugout, history

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   1. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: August 19, 2019 at 10:16 AM (#5872511)
A pretty good starting rotation on today's Birthday Team. Gaetti is out of position and wouldn't have been a 40+ WAR player exclusively as a first baseman, but there weren't any other options.

C: Tim Blackwell (1.1 WAR)
1B: Gary Gaetti (42.1 WAR)
2B: Bobby Richardson (8.2 WAR)
3B: Jim Finigan (3.3 WAR)
SS: J.J. Hardy (28.4 WAR)
LF: Matt Franco (0.2 WAR)
CF: Estel Crabtree (4.0 WAR)
RF: Ron Roenicke (2.9 WAR)

SP: Woody Williams (30.2 WAR)
SP: Ron Darling (19.6 WAR)
SP: Tex Carleton (16.4 WAR)
SP: David Palmer (11.1 WAR)
SP: Chris Capuano (8.9 WAR)
RP: Jeff Tam (4.2 WAR)

Manager: Pongo Joe Cantillon
The pitcher, not the third baseman/quarterback: Josh Fields
What's the biggest difference in music on the radio these days?: Les Rock
Fun names: Rags Faircloth, Speed Kelly, Rocky Cherry
Somehow played 609 MLB games as a position player and slugged .239: Luis Gomez (-4.4 WAR)
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 19, 2019 at 10:35 AM (#5872519)
SP: Woody Williams (30.2 WAR)

That's a shockingly unexpected number. How does 2200 IP of average pitching (103 ERA+) get you 30 WAR?

Kevin Millwood has 2700 IP of 106 ERA+ and is just behind him, as is Joe Niekro with 3600 IP of 98 ERA+.
   3. Tom Nawrocki Posted: August 19, 2019 at 10:40 AM (#5872521)
Williams had 27.6 WAR for his pitching alone, compared to 30.7 for Millwood and 28.7 for Niekro.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 19, 2019 at 10:42 AM (#5872522)
Williams had 27.6 WAR for his pitching alone, compared to 30.7 for Millwood and 28.7 for Niekro.

Still seems way too close.
   5. Rennie's Tenet Posted: August 19, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5872524)
I don't know about today, but into the 1980s Franklin residents wanted to keep it very clear that they had nothing in common with Oil City folk.
   6. Dag Nabbit at Posted: August 19, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5872525)
That's a shockingly unexpected number. How does 2200 IP of average pitching (103 ERA+) get you 30 WAR?

Maybe he had bad defenses.

Also, the difference between replacement level & average is about 2 wins a year. 2200 IP? That's 12-13 seasons, so 25ish WAR. 5 more wins? Well his ERA+ is over 100. And starters on the whole have an overall ERA worse than relievers, so it can sand out more.

Random note: Woody Williams is one of the only 15-20 pitchers to notch a win against all 30 franchises.
   7. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 19, 2019 at 10:57 AM (#5872531)
Millwood gave up more unearned runs (114 unearned runs out of 1357 total runs, 8.4%). Williams: 65 out of 1096 (5.9%). This cancels out Millwood's ERA advantage completely and they have the same RA9.

Both of them got a lot of plate appearances. Woody Williams hit well for a pitcher (.194/.222/.267) and Millwood hit below average for a pitcher (.121/158/.178). That's a 3-win difference over two long careers.

Millwood pitched more innings but was more inconsistent. He pitched 16 seasons and 8 were negative WAA. Williams pitched 15 seasons and only 3 of them were negative WAA.

Williams spent his first 3 full seasons as a reliever. His stats as a reliever look similar to his stats as a starter though.

Basically Woody Williams had a better career than we think. That happens when you spend most of it with the Blue Jays and Padres. He did get to the playoffs finally in his mid-30s with the Cardinals. Millwood wasn't in the playoffs his last 10 years.

   8. Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: August 19, 2019 at 11:07 AM (#5872534)
My favorite anagrams today:
Gary Gaetti => Ragtag Yeti
Woody Williams => Wow, Daily Limos
Ron Darling => Darn, Girl. No.
Tex Carleton => Electron Tax
   9. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 19, 2019 at 11:14 AM (#5872538)
Woody Williams is also a "not that one". Not the one who is the last living Medal of Honor recipient from the Pacific theater of WWII.
   10. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: August 19, 2019 at 11:18 AM (#5872540)
1924 SP Rankings

Welcome aboard: Seven pitchers who would go on to accrue at least 20 WAR exhausted their rookie eligibility in 1924, which seems like quite a few for a 16-team league. But easily the best of them was future Hall of Famer Ted Lyons, who didn't exactly hit the ground running this year but would rocket quickly up the rankings thereafter.

Sayonara: Jeff Pfeffer (not to be confused with his brother, Big Jeff Pfeffer) was one of the best pitchers of the latter half of the Deadball Era. For the part of his career that I have entered, he was a top-10 stalwart in the teens, and his other numbers (25 WAR from 1914-17) back that up nicely. Very underappreciated player (by me, at least; I had barely heard of him before this project).

Outsider: Virgil Barnes had pitched primarily in relief for the 1922-23 Giants, making three starts between the two seasons. But John McGraw, who had a surprisingly patchwork pitching staff for a four-time pennant winner, moved Barnes to the rotation in '24, and the decision paid off nicely, with 16 wins and a 3.06 ERA in an increasingly hitter-friendly league. Barnes went from unranked to start the season to #37 at its conclusion.

Fallen from grace: Not a ton of options this year, so let's go with Red Faber? Faber, the year-end #1 in both 1921 and '22, didn't make his first start of 1924 until June 23, by which time he had already fallen from #5 to #22. He would pitch regularly for the rest of the season, but only managed to tread water, ending up at #21. (Again, it's not like he was bad; there weren't a lot of pitching disasters near the top of the rankings this year.)

Coming on strong: Howard Ehmke started the year ranked at #31; by mid-June, he had 15 starts and an ERA in the mid-2's, and had sprinted up to #5. (Even the ERA undersells him compared to the SP rankings, because he had some spotty relief outings mixed in.) He would maintain his position from there, ending the season at #7 (which was helped by the fact that, unlike in 1923, he wouldn't end his season with one of the worst starts in the history of baseball.) Honorable mention to Herb Pennock, whose 21-9, 2.83 season gained him 13 spots up to #4 at year's end.

World Series: This is an odd one to discuss from a starting pitcher perspective, because the most famous part of it is a great starter being used in relief. (Not the only time that happened in the decade, either.) It was a 7-game series played with no off days. The Senators were obviously fronted by Walter Johnson (#2 entering the Series), with George Mogridge (#17) and Tom Zachary (#27) as the other regulars. The Giants once again suffered something of a pitching deficit, countering with Hugh McQuillan (#15), Art Nehf (#26), Jack Bentley (#41), and the aforementioned Virgil Barnes (#37). The series went the distance and was, of course, concluded by one of the most famous games ever played, in which Walter Johnson and a pebble conspired to give the Senators their first title in a 12-inning classic.

Who's on top?: Coming off of a wonderful 1923, Dolf Luque began the '24 season at #1. He spent the first month of the season in front, largely due to the size of his pre-existing lead. On May 15, Luque was chased in the first inning (0.2, 4 hits, 4 runs); because he was still rested, the Reds started him again the next day, with only slightly better results (4.2 innings, 6 hits, 4 walks, 5 runs), and the 5/16 start dropped him from the top spot in favor of Grover Cleveland Alexander. Luque returned to #1 on 5/21 thanks to a mediocre outing from Alexander, but pitched poorly himself the next day, conceding the top spot for the final time.

Alexander had ended 1923 at #2, and was off to a fine start in '24; through June 11, he would go 9-2, 2.38. His next two starts were rather bumpier, and on June 19, Dazzy Vance grabbed the top spot with a complete game, one-run victory. Alexander reclaimed the top spot on June 25, but... well, the June 25 game is odd. Alexander took a loss in a 14-inning complete game... in which he allowed 12 hits, 5 walks, and 8 runs. That would be the last game Alexander would pitch for two months, so... maybe he should have been pulled?

What I expected at this point in the season was for the best pitchers of 1924 (Vance, Johnson, Pennock, Eppa Rixey) to duel over the #1 spot for a while before someone pulled away. What actually happened was that Vance pulled away IMMEDIATELY, reclaiming the top spot with a 6-hit, 9-strikeout complete game on 6/28 and never looking back. He ended the season with a lead of nearly 66 points over Walter Johnson, nearly double the next-largest season-ending lead I've seen to this point in the project. Considering that Vance started the season at #11... well, he had a good year. (Vance had NINE GS2 scores over 80, including four of the 11 best games of the year, and only two below 50. He had five starts over 9 innings, and only two in which he was pulled before the eighth. His average GS2 was 72.6, over 10 points higher than second-place Eppa Rixey, who did half his work in a pitcher's park.)

Dazzy Vance! Not bad for someone who didn't stick in the big leagues until he was 31.
   11. asinwreck Posted: August 19, 2019 at 02:42 PM (#5872630)
At a work holiday party in Pittsburgh a couple decades ago, two women who had worked together for a few years remarked that each had an aunt in Oil City. Turns out they were cousins and probably played together as young children, then moved to other parts of western Pennsylvania.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: August 19, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5872700)
Williams also faced slightly tougher competition per bWAR -- 4.83 RA9avg vs 4.75. That goes with a small advantage in RA9 of 4.45 vs 4.49. Those aren't huge but over 2200 innings it comes to about 30 runs. Williams is credited with 27 more RAA than Millwood. Millwood's extra 500 innings of average is only worth 4-5 WAR which is enough to put him back in the lead based only on pitching at 30.7 to 27.6 ... and as noted, Williams gets that and a bit more back on hitting.

Williams pitched 93-07, Millwood 97-12. If we look at the period they were both active of 97-07, they were basically dead even as pitchers -- Williams gave up 0.32 fewer runs per 9 than average in just over 2000 IP and Millwood gave up 0.33 fewer runs per 9 in just under 2000 IP (60 IP difference). For 93-96, Williams was a surprisingly good long reliever/starter putting up 4 WAR in 209 IP. Millwood put up 773 innings of average from 08-12 but that's just 7.5 WAR.

So in terms of quality of their pitching, they were equals or Williams a tiny amount better. In terms of quanitity, Millwood wins and that gives him the edge as a pitcher. In terms of their hitting, Williams easily wins. It's kinda "depressing" that Millwood can build up a small WAR lead over 2700 innings, pitching a full 2.5 seasons longer than the other guy ... only to see it all disappear in less than a full season's worth of PAs that nobody cared about. But that gap is about the same as the gap between a typical Billy Hamilton season and a typical Nick Castellanos season (or an average hitter and any of JDM's 2014-16 seasons).
   13. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: August 19, 2019 at 06:47 PM (#5872715)
Franklin and Oil City were 19th century NW PA boom towns, still doing quite well in 1919. There would have been multiple robber barons able and willing to have a pissing contest via baseball. Think Mr. Burns and his rival in the old Simpsons baseball episode.
   14. Hysterical & Useless Posted: August 20, 2019 at 03:20 PM (#5872948)
Many years ago we stayed in a motel in Oil City on our way back from the midwest. The motel itself was (at best) okay-ish; the town was both depressed and depressing.

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