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Monday, April 10, 2017

The Forgotten Rivalry: The Reds and Dodgers Battle for Supremacy of the 70s

“As far as talent goes, I’ll take Reds-Dodgers in the ‘70s over any version of Yankees-Red Sox, Cubs-Cardinals, or Dodgers-Giants.”

—————-

It was only one game, but it was a game that showed the world what it was like to have three of the greatest everyday players of all time, all in their primes, in one lineup, at the same time. Comb through baseball history and try to find a team that ever had three such players - you won’t. Secretariat may have moved “like a tremendous machine,” as the track announcer at the Belmont Stakes would famously call three weeks later. But he could have just as easily been describing The Big Red Machine.

—————-

But even against the backdrop of the era, the Dodgers’ starting pitching was pretty extraordinary. Around the league, 200-plus inning workloads were typically limited to the front line pitchers. Most teams had two or three such starters, and divided the workload at the back end of the rotation among several others. But four of the Dodgers’ five 1973 starters – Don Sutton, Andy Messersmith, Claude Osteen, and Tommy John - topped the 200 inning mark. The only one who didn’t, Downing, finished with 193.

gehrig97 Posted: April 10, 2017 at 02:37 PM | 71 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bench, big red machine, dodgers, garvey, morgan, reds, rose, sutton

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   1. rr would lock Shaq's a$$ up Posted: April 10, 2017 at 04:36 PM (#5432489)
Don't know if it will be any good but glad to see a book about this.
   2. perros Posted: April 10, 2017 at 04:46 PM (#5432496)
Those were the days.
   3. DavidFoss Posted: April 10, 2017 at 07:05 PM (#5432592)
Most teams had two or three such starters, and divided the workload at the back end of the rotation among several others. But four of the Dodgers’ five 1973 starters – Don Sutton, Andy Messersmith, Claude Osteen, and Tommy John - topped the 200 inning mark. The only one who didn’t, Downing, finished with 193.


Several teams had four 200 IP guys in 1973. Giants, Dodgers, Red Sox, Astros.

In the 70s:

Braves - 1970
Orioles - 1971,1972,1977,1978
Red Sox - 1973
Angels - 1971
Cubs - 1975
Tigers - 1978
Astros - 1973, 1974
Dodgers - 1971,1973,1975,1976,1977(5)
Yankees - 1971,1975
Phillies - 1974
Giants - 1973
Cardinals - 1971,1979
   4. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: April 10, 2017 at 08:07 PM (#5432606)
In '73, Morgan, Rose, Perez, and Bench put up respective WAR figures of 9.2, 8.2, 5.3, and 4.7. (I was going to say "only" 4.7, which is a testament to how consistent and how good Bench was: that All Star-type number was his ninth-best season, by WAR.) This is the kind of question that Bill James used to revel in: what team had the best "Big 4" position players of all time? I'm not equipped to answer it, but just looking at some famously excellent teams off the top of my head:

1927 Yankees
Ruth -- 12.4
Gehrig -- 11.8
Earle Combs --6.8
Tony Lazzeri -- 6.3

1931 Athletics
Al Simmons -- 7.5
Max Bishop -- 5.8
Mickey Cochrane -- 5.4
Foxx -- 4.6

1953 Dodgers
Snider -- 9.3
Campanella -- 7.1
Robinson -- 7.1
Reese -- 5.1

1969 Orioles
Frank Robinson -- 7.5
Paul Blair -- 7.1
Boog Powell -- 5.9
Don Buford -- 4.8
(this was a pitching-heavy team, in theory, but no pitcher accumulated more than Mike Cuellar's 4.5)

1986 Mets
Hernandez -- 5.5
Dykstra -- 4.7
Gary Carter -- 3.5
Strawberry -- 3.4
(Three pitchers -- Ojeda, Darling, and Gooden -- all scored better than Carter but about the same as Dykstra)

1998 Yankees
Jeter -- 7.5
Paul O'Neill -- 5.8
Scott Brosius (?!) -- 5.3
Bernie Williams -- 5.2

2001 Seattle Mariners
Brett Boone -- 8.8
Scratchiro -- 7.7
Mike Cameron -- 5.9
John Olerud -- 5.2

2004 St Louis Cardinals
Scott Rolen -- 9.1
Pujols -- 8.5
Jim Edmonds -- 7.2
Tony Womack (??!!) -- 3.2
   5. BDC Posted: April 10, 2017 at 08:09 PM (#5432607)
It's a forgotten rivalry because (as I actually remember :) there wasn't much of a rivalry. From 1972 through 1979 the Reds and Dodgers shared eight division titles, and each was in second place the year they didn't win; but there were no real pennant races. In '73 the Dodgers plummeted and the Reds rose steadily; they passed each other on Labor Day and the Reds won handily. The next year, the Dodgers were ahead most of the season, and briefly fell to within a couple of games of the Reds in mid-September, but recovered to win going away. The other years were walkovers.

If anything, it might be the most interesting example of sustained two-team dominance that resulted in almost no suspense.

To be fair, the headline is misleading. TFA isn't really about the rivalry but about the talent on both clubs overall, which was of course impressive.

   6. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 10, 2017 at 08:10 PM (#5432608)
I'm the type of fan who roots for a team, rather than roots against one. I generally don't hate opposition teams or players, but as a Reds fan I have one exception - and it's those Dodgers teams of the 1970s. I was a teenager in that era, and I hated the Dodgers with a burning passion. It's cooled off over the years, but the Dodgers are still my least favorite NL team. But yes, I can assure you that in the 1970s this rivalry was quite real, and it's good to see it recalled. The game I remember most? The Hal King game.

   7. BDC Posted: April 10, 2017 at 08:17 PM (#5432613)
Fair enough, vortex: there can be rivalry without a race. I amend my observation.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: April 10, 2017 at 08:37 PM (#5432619)
Not that impressive a top 4:

2016 Cubs: Bryant 7.7, Rizzo 5.8, Russell 4.3, Fowler 4.2 ... looks better if we allow pitchers with Lester 5.3 and Hendricks 5.0 ... but is really impressive once we add depth ... Zobrist 3.9, Baez 3.4 (in just 420 PA), 3.3 out of the three Cs, Arrieta and Lackey combined for about 6.

I took a look at that 75 Cubs team. That may have been the most mediocre starting staff season of all time.

Burris 238 IP, 93 ERA+
Reuschel 234, 102
Bonham 229, 81
Stone 214, 97

It also may have been the worst bullpen of all-time (no I'm not checking):

Knowles 88 IP, 66 ERA+
Dettore 85, 71 (incl 5 starts)
Zamora 71, 76
Frailing 53, 71
Wilcox 38, 68
P Reuschel 36, 110
Locker 33, 78
5 more 35 IP, 21 ER

All told, 421 IP, 5.22 ERA, an ERA+ around 72! They gave up a batting line (in 1975!) of 301/373/441 which was a sOPS+ of 132. They gave up a 327 BABIP, 25 points higher than the SP. A WHIP over 1.6 with a K/BB under 1.3.

   9. DavidFoss Posted: April 10, 2017 at 08:39 PM (#5432620)
@4

I did a search and the 1927 Yankees are indeed the only team to ever have four 6-WAR position players.

If you drop it to 5.5 WAR, that three more teams. The 1942 Yankees (Gordon, Keller, DiMaggio, Rizzuto), the 1993 Blue Jays (Olerud, White, Alomar, Molitor) and the 1999 Indians (Alomar, Ramirez, Vizquel, Lofton).

Three teams have had five 5.0-WAR players. The 1939 Yankees (Dimaggio, Gordon, Rolfe, Selkirk, Dickey), the 1972 A's (Rudi, Bando, Jackson, Campernaris, Epstein) and the 1976 Yankees (Nettles, Rivers, White, Munson, Randolph)
   10. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 10, 2017 at 08:45 PM (#5432625)
BDC - I know it looks like I was replying to your post, but honest, I didn't see it until after I posted. I was typing it when you posted. I didn't mean to contradict you. But as a Reds fan, I remember the rivalry well, even if there were no tight pennant races.
   11. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: April 10, 2017 at 08:48 PM (#5432626)
Good research, @9. Then there's the other question: which team had the highest average WAR for a big 4? I imagine the 27 Yankees will still win, but you might get a few teams like the 01 Giants, on which Bonds put up 11.9, and then Kent and Aurilia were more sort of normal-great (5.2 and 6.7, respectively), and then you'd have some random dude (Shawon Dunston, Armando Rios, and . . . who the hell is Calvin Murray?).
   12. BDC Posted: April 10, 2017 at 09:30 PM (#5432646)
as a Reds fan, I remember the rivalry well, even if there were no tight pennant races

I was a Phillies fan in those years, and thus just waiting to see who we'd lose to in the playoffs :) We generally knew pretty far in advance.

There was a lesser version of the same thing in the NL East in those years. The Phillies and the Pirates also had some great players, and traded division titles 1974-80. But though the individual games and series could be memorable, there weren't many tense Septembers between them. The real nailbiter was between the Phillies and Expos in 1980.
   13. DavidFoss Posted: April 10, 2017 at 09:39 PM (#5432655)
@11
which team had the highest average WAR for a big 4?


OK...

yearID  teamID  players                                                           avgTop4WAR  maxWAR  minWAR  
------  ------  ----------------------------------------------------------------  ----------  ------  --------
1927  NYA     Babe Ruth,Lou Gehrig,Earle Combs,Tony Lazzeri                           9.32   12.36      6.26
1931  NYA     Babe Ruth
,Lou Gehrig,Ben Chapman,Lyn Lary                               7.49   10.32      4.89
1906  CLE     Nap Lajoie
,Terry Turner,Elmer Flick,Bunk Congalton                      7.32   10.02      3.39
1996  SEA     Ken Griffey
,Alex Rodriguez,Edgar Martinez,Jay Buhner                    7.27    9.68      3.49
1972  CIN     Joe Morgan
,Johnny Bench,Pete Rose,Bobby Tolan                           7.21    9.29      4.92
1928  NYA     Babe Ruth
,Lou Gehrig,Tony Lazzeri,Earle Combs                           7.15   10.13      4.49
1930  NYA     Babe Ruth
,Lou Gehrig,Earle Combs,Tony Lazzeri                           7.14   10.27      3.53
1953  BRO     Duke Snider
,Roy Campanella,Jackie Robinson,Pee Wee Reese                7.10     9.3      5.09
1929  NYA     Babe Ruth
,Tony Lazzeri,Lou Gehrig,Earle Combs                           7.08    8.04      4.91
2004  SLN     Scott Rolen
,Albert Pujols,Jim Edmonds,Tony Womack                       7.02    9.15      3.25
1912  PHA     Home Run Baker
,Eddie Collins,Stuffy McInnis,Jack Barry                  6.98    9.26      4.13
1963  SFN     Willie Mays
,Willie McCovey,Orlando Cepeda,Felipe Alou                   6.96    10.6      5.22
1974  CIN     Joe Morgan
,Johnny Bench,Pete Rose,Dave Concepcion                       6.94     8.6      5.48
1961  DET     Norm Cash
,Al Kaline,Rocky Colavito,Bill Bruton                          6.94    9.16      2.58
1948  CLE     Lou Boudreau
,Joe Gordon,Ken Keltner,Larry Doby                          6.92   10.38      4.59
2001  SEA     Bret Boone
,Ichiro Suzuki,Mike Cameron,John Olerud                       6.90     8.8      5.21
1973  CIN     Joe Morgan
,Pete Rose,Tony Perez,Johnny Bench                            6.88    9.24      4.73
1946  BOS     Ted Williams
,Johnny Pesky,Bobby Doerr,Dom DiMaggio                      6.83   10.87      4.36
1982  ML4     Robin Yount
,Paul Molitor,Cecil Cooper,Gorman Thomas                     6.80   10.51      4.92
1976  CIN     Joe Morgan
,Pete Rose,George Foster,Johnny Bench                         6.77    9.61      4.62
1951  BRO     Jackie Robinson
,Roy Campanella,Gil Hodges,Pee Wee Reese                 6.75    9.66      4.97
1956  NYA     Mickey Mantle
,Yogi Berra,Gil McDougald,Bill Skowron                     6.74   11.24       4.3
1913  PHA     Eddie Collins
,Home Run Baker,Stuffy McInnis,Jack Barry                  6.73    8.97      4.72
2011  BOS     Jacoby Ellsbury
,Dustin Pedroia,Adrian Gonzalez,David Ortiz              6.71     8.1      3.93
2009  TBA     Ben Zobrist
,Evan Longoria,Jason Bartlett,Carl Crawford                  6.70    8.61      5.02 
   14. sanny manguillen Posted: April 10, 2017 at 09:49 PM (#5432663)
The real nailbiter was between the Phillies and Expos in 1980.


The Expos were one back of the Pirates with one to go in 1979, too.
   15. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 10, 2017 at 09:53 PM (#5432666)
BDC in #5 has it right--the teams alternated pennant runs but were never really rivals
   16. BDC Posted: April 10, 2017 at 09:55 PM (#5432669)
The Expos were one back of the Pirates with one to go in 1979, too

True, but the Phillies were so far out I didn't notice :)
   17. Walt Davis Posted: April 10, 2017 at 10:10 PM (#5432677)
2009 TBA Ben Zobrist,Evan Longoria,Jason Bartlett,Carl Crawford 6.70 8.61 5.02

Legends! :-)
   18. A triple short of the cycle Posted: April 11, 2017 at 12:58 AM (#5432777)
Legends! :-)
Heck, Tony Womack is in the top half of the list.
   19. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:29 AM (#5432801)
1906 CLE Nap Lajoie,Terry Turner,Elmer Flick,Bunk Congalton


That was quite the underachieving bunch. In addition to having the third-best Top 4 ever, the 06 Naps had three 4.0 WAR pitchers. But their league-best 98 pythag wins dropped by eight in the real games, and they finished in third, five games out.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: April 11, 2017 at 04:02 AM (#5432815)
Heck, Tony Womack is in the top half of the list.

Sure, but he's there with an HoFer, a should-be HoFer and a borderline HoFer/inner-circle HoVGer. Womack is the Tommie Aaron in that quartet that has 233 WAR but the Rays list has a long way to go to sport even one HoFer. Not that the Boston list is all that impressive historically either, especially from a WAR perspective, but Ortiz will make the HoF and Pedroia's got a pretty good shot at it and Gonzalez has a bit more career WAR than Zobrist or Crawford.

The Lajoie list is pretty close. I'm not sure Flick deserved the HoF although at least he made it without playing with Ford Frick. Terry Turner is credited with a staggering +34 Rfield in that year -- and that's a model-based average estimate. Anyway, he's the Zobrist candidate here. Bunk is Womack. Still, thanks to Lajoie, over 200 career WAR in that list.

EDIT: However I didn't notice Boone, Ichiro, Cameron, Olerud so let's give them an honorable mention.
   21. Astroenteritis Posted: April 11, 2017 at 08:40 AM (#5432830)
I'm the type of fan who roots for a team, rather than roots against one. I generally don't hate opposition teams or players,


I'm mostly the same, but growing up an Astros fan in the late 60s and 70s, I still find I have a bit of a distaste for both the Reds and Dodgers. God, they used to pummel the Astros (and most other teams) with such regularity. In particular, I couldn't stand the sight of Tommy Lasorda. Now that I'm pushing 60, I actually have some positive memories of watching such good baseball, especially the Machine, but back then I don't doubt that I wanted Steve Garvey to break his leg. I even thought Vin Scully was an arrogant pr*ck. Thankfully, we grow up.
   22. Styles P. Deadball Posted: April 11, 2017 at 08:57 AM (#5432836)
who the hell is Calvin Murray?


Scored the winning run for the Rangers the night my daughter was born!



I remembered it as being late in the game, but it was in the third inning.
   23. JohnQ Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:25 AM (#5432847)
From BDC #5:

It's a forgotten rivalry because (as I actually remember :) there wasn't much of a rivalry. From 1972 through 1979 the Reds and Dodgers shared eight division titles, and each was in second place the year they didn't win; but there were no real pennant races. In '73 the Dodgers plummeted and the Reds rose steadily; they passed each other on Labor Day and the Reds won handily. The next year, the Dodgers were ahead most of the season, and briefly fell to within a couple of games of the Reds in mid-September, but recovered to win going away. The other years were walkovers.

If anything, it might be the most interesting example of sustained two-team dominance that resulted in almost no suspense.

To be fair, the headline is misleading. TFA isn't really about the rivalry but about the talent on both clubs overall, which was of course impressive.


Yeah, It was really about 2 teams dominating the National League Western Division from 1970-1990 The Reds & Dodgers had the 2nd & 3rd best record overall in baseball during that time period. The Orioles had the best overall record. 14 of the N.L. West division titles were won by either the Reds or the Dodgers. 17/21 Second place finishes were won by either the Reds or the Dodgers.

Reds: 1825-1511 .547, 3 WS, 5 NLCS, 7 Divisions, 7 Second Place finishes, (Best record in MLB in 1981/no playoff appearance)

Best players By WAR:
J. Bench-64.4
J. Morgan-57.8
P. Rose-47.6
D. Concepcion-39.9
G. Foster-39.3
T. Perez-30.5
E. Davis-26.3
M. Soto-36.0
K. Griffey-25.3
T. Seaver-19.3

Dodgers: 1821-1518 .545, 2WS, 7 Divisions, 5 NLCS, 10 Second Place finishes.

Best players By WAR:
R. Cey-47.5
D. Sutton-39.1
Fernando-37.3
S. Garvey-36.4
O. Hershiser-35.5
B. Welch-33.3
P. Guerrero-32.6
D. Lopes-32.1
B. Russell-29.5
B. Hooten-26.5

You had a somewhat similar situation in the A.L. West from 1971-1992 between the A's & the Royals, (17 Division Titles in 22 Seasons). The A's won 10 divisions & 2 Second place finishes and the Royals won 7 Divisions with 8 Second place finishes.

   24. JohnQ Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:55 AM (#5432863)
From the Article:

For all the strong L.A. staffs during the 1970s and ‘80s, it’s the 1973 group that, looking back, had an extra special quality to it.


Yeah, I don't see that. It would seem that the 1977 starting staff was the best of that group:

1977 Staff by WAR:

D. Sutton-4.6
B. Hooten-5.5
T. John-4.5
R. Rhoden-3.0
D. Rau-3.1

All had 200+ innings.

About the 1973 Starting Staff

The Dodgers’ 3.00 staff ERA in 1973 was more than half a run per game lower than MLB average of 3.74 and the National League average of 3.66.


"Staff ERA" is going to take into account relief pitching which he doesn't seem to acknowledge. Also the 1977 Dodger staff had a 3.22 ERA compared to a 3.91 N.L. Average which is a bigger disparity than the 1973 club.

He also doesn't acknowledge the role that defense played on those teams. Part of the reason the 1973 team had such a low ERA came because of that team's defense. The '73 Dodgers were probably the best defensive team during that 1973-81 run. The Dodgers had a .729 Defensive Efficiency on the '73 team which led the N.L. and was 2nd only to that Great Orioles defensive team.

The Dodgers weren't even the best starting staff in the N.L. that year, the '73 Mets were the best with Seaver, Koosman, Matlack & Stone. Seaver had a 10.6 WAR and should have won the MVP that year. J. Koosman had a 5.8 WAR, Matlack had a 4.3, and Stone a 3.0.

Team FIP 1973 (lg. avg. 3.69)

Mets-3.34
Cards-3.37
Dodgers-3.39

The 1977 Dodgers led the N.L. in FIP with a 3.48 (3.92 N.L. Average).
   25. McCoy Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:56 AM (#5432864)
During my entire life I've only really ever experienced three sports rivalries. Bulls vs Pistons, Bulls vs Riley, and Bears vs Packers. Bears vs Packers was never really an actual on field rivalry in that during my lifetime it almost never happened where both teams were good. Generally one was pretty bad and was pretty good. Basketball, I feel, lends itself well to rivalries or at least the NBA era of the 80's and 90's where you teams with largely the same rosters duking it out for years and years and developing bad blood. In baseball the Cubs just haven't been good for all that long of a time to have any real rivalries that mean much. Most of it is just carry over from bygone days and to give something to the fans to talk about.
   26. Stop Oppressing Zonk by Investigating His Heroes Posted: April 11, 2017 at 10:01 AM (#5432870)
Best players By WAR:
R. Cey-47.5


One of the 70s most underrated players.

It's also odd to have this 70s Dodgers discussion focused on their pitching -- I mean, I hate Steve Garvey, too... but when I think of the 70s Dodgers, I think of that eternal Cey-Russell-Lopes-Garvey IF.
   27. TDF, trained monkey Posted: April 11, 2017 at 10:16 AM (#5432881)
In'75, every starting position player for the Reds had a bWAR of 3.1 or higher:

Morgan 10.9
Bench 6.6
Foster 4.8
Rose 4.1
Geronimo 4.1
Concepcion 3.9
Griffey 3.1
Perez 3.1

As WAR is a counting stat, it should be noted that while all 8 played at least 132 games (and accumulated 511 PA), only Rose played more than 148 (or more than 639 PA).

The '31 Yankees also did it (but not '27):

Ruth 10.3
Gehrig 8.8
Chapman 6.0
Lary 4.9
Combs 4.2
Dickey 4.1
Sewell 3.7
Lazzeri 3.2
   28. JohnQ Posted: April 11, 2017 at 10:25 AM (#5432889)
From Zonk # 26:

One of the 70s most underrated players.

It's also add to have this 70s Dodgers discussion focused on their pitching -- I mean, I hate Steve Garvey, too... but when I think of the 70s Dodgers, I think of that eternal Cey-Russell-Lopes-Garvey IF.


I was a Mets fan in the '70's but I always liked the Dodgers partly because I had an uncle who lived in L.A. and partly because of their N.Y. origin and partly because they were so good. And then when the Mets floundered and were irrelevant by 1977 it was easy to root for the Dodgers vs. the Yankees in 1977, 78 & 81.

Ron Cey was one of my all time favorite players. Agreed that he was one of the most underrated players of the decade and he was really the key player on those teams. Also agree that Garvey was massively overrated and Cey, Russell, Lopes, Reggie Smith, Joe Ferguson, Steve Yeager deserve more credit. And pitchers like Burt Hooten, Doug Rau, Rick Rhoden, Bob Welch, Jerry Reuss have been forgotten as well. When the media talk about those 1973-81 Dodgers it's usually talked about as Sutton, Garvey, Messersmith, & T. John and a bunch of other guys.


As far as a top most underrated position players of the 1970's:

Something like this:

B. Grich
G. Nettles
R. Smith
C. Cedeno
S. Bando
A. Otis
R. White
K. Singleton
G. Tenace
R. Cey
Da. Evans
T. Harrah
B. Bell
D. Lopes
D. Money
M. Belanger
B. Watson
J. Cruz
T. Simmons
Bo. Bonds
B. Campaneris

As far as underrated 1970's pitchers something like this:

R. Reuschel
L. Tiant
W. Wood
M. Lolich
J. Matlack
F. Tanana
J. Barr
B. Hooten
R. Wise
J. Hiller
D. Goltz
D. Roberts
J. Coleman
M. Pattin
J. Koosman
   29. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 11, 2017 at 10:28 AM (#5432891)
Yeah, It was really about 2 teams dominating the National League Western Division from 1970-1990 The Reds & Dodgers had the 2nd & 3rd best record overall in baseball during that time period. The Orioles had the best overall record. 14 of the N.L. West division titles were won by either the Reds or the Dodgers. 17/21 Second place finishes were won by either the Reds or the Dodgers.

You had a somewhat similar situation in the A.L. West from 1971-1992 between the A's & the Royals, (17 Division Titles in 22 Seasons). The A's won 10 divisions & 2 Second place finishes and the Royals won 7 Divisions with 8 Second place finishes.


In fact all 4 divisions featured the same sort of shared division title domination in a somewhat shorter time frame. From 1970-80 the Pirates won 6 N.L. East titles and the Phillies won 4. And from 1969 through 1981 the Orioles won 6 A.L. East titles and the Yankees won 5. But from 1981 through 1986 6 different teams won that same A. L. East division, and if Sports Illustrated had been a bit more accurate in its 1987 predictions, the Indians would have made it 7 teams in 7 years, but alas, the Tribe finished 61-101.
   30. BDC Posted: April 11, 2017 at 10:32 AM (#5432899)
Bears vs Packers was never really an actual on field rivalry in that during my lifetime it almost never happened where both teams were good. Generally one was pretty bad and was pretty good

The NFL has done better at maintaining rivalries than other pro sports because the season is "short," the schedule heavily imbalanced, and several of the divisions preserve long-standing alignments. Half their divisions are basically still old AFL or NFL divisions from fifty years ago.

Baseball kept the old leagues but diluted or disrupted some of the potential rivalries. If Cincinnati and LA were a big deal once, they can't be any more. Same with Phillies/Pirates, or Houston vs. the Reds or Dodgers, or A's-Royals. The Royals and the Rangers used to have very good series too (not that anybody outside of the Great Plains was interested), but no longer. MLB has tried to improve the situation by imbalancing the schedule, promoting some intracity/interleague matchups, and putting Houston and DFW in the same division, but it's hard to promote rivalries when you must play 19 different clubs per year.
   31. Astroenteritis Posted: April 11, 2017 at 11:12 AM (#5432938)
Baseball kept the old leagues but diluted or disrupted some of the potential rivalries.


Yes, when I think of Houston's historical rivals, I'll always think of the Dodgers and Reds, and to some extent, the Braves and Giants, all from the old NL West that I grew up with. Of course that division had teams spread out geographically all over the country, and realignment was destined to compromise those rivalries. I would have loved it had Houston been moved to the current NL West (with perhaps Arizona going to the AL West), but that's not how it played out. I'm afraid I'm too old to ever get excited about Rangers v. Astros, and I've always generally liked the Angels, A's and Mariners, but I'm sure future generations of fans will take to the new rivalries as they develop. Until, that is, the next round of realignment shuffles things once more.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: April 11, 2017 at 11:13 AM (#5432939)
Agreed that he was one of the most underrated players of the decade and he was really the key player on those teams. Also agree that Garvey was massively overrated and Cey, Russell, Lopes, Reggie Smith, Joe Ferguson, Steve Yeager deserve more credit.


I hope you mean they* deserve more credit than they get, rather than they deserve more credit than Garvey. Steve was undoubtedly overrated, but he was also a very good player in LA.

Oh, and while I was not a fan of either team, it was my impression that LA-Cincy was a huge rivalry in the 70s, though that might be my childhood recollection of old Baseball Digests talking.

* Cey was clearly better, Smith was better overall but not there as long, and Lopes was slightly better.

   33. Russ Posted: April 11, 2017 at 11:30 AM (#5432955)

Three teams have had five 5.0-WAR players.


This is an awesome thread with lots of good comments. This one caught my eye... it reminded me of the h-index, which attempts to measure a balance between production and quality in academics. Basically your h index is the largest number such that at least h of your published papers have been cited at least h times. It can be criticized on many fronts and can be manipulated in obvious ways, but it's a fast and easy to compute metric which is understandable and does balance at least the number of publications with the number that have been cited in a robust way (i.e. one publication with lots of citations can really distort the average citation per publication, but doesn't affect the h-index in a meaningful way). I wondered whether this could be translated to baseball at both the team and player level.


Team level:

Those three teams with 5.0 WAR players would have h-indices of 5, i.e. they have 5 players with at least 5 WAR. The 1974 Reds had an h-index of 4. Even though they had more than 4 players with more than 4.0 WAR, they did not have 5 players with at least 5, so they would be one value of the h-index below. The 2004 Cardinals would only be at an h-index of 3, which is lower than the 2009 Rays' h-index of 4 (even though the average of the top four for the 2004 Cardinals is higher, due to them being top heavy) and the 1986 Mets and 1997 Braves h-indices of 4 (if you include pitchers).

It would be interesting to look at the breakdown by stratum... how many teams with h-indices of 4 would not be considered excellent teams? How many with h-indices of 3 had records below .500? Etc.


Player level:

This made me think of real peak vs. career arguments (which means someone has probably already thought of this). Sandy Koufax had at least 5 seasons of at least 5 WAR, so he has a personal h-index of 5. Greg Maddux is at 6. Pedro Martinez is at 6 as well, so both better than Koufax according to this metric, with Pedro and Maddux coming out at the same level. Cy Young? h-index of 9. Roger Clemens? h-index of 7 (better than Maddux and Martinez, which is what I would have also thought).

Hitters... Babe Ruth, h-index of 9. Lou Gehrig at 7. Ted Williams at 7 (cursed effect of war on WAR). Jimmie Foxx -- also at 7. Barry Bonds at 8 (but only nudges ahead of Ted because of fielding in that 8th season). Hank Aaron -- also 8. Alex Rodriguez -- 8. Ty Cobb? 7. Joe DiMaggio? 6.

How short is a short peak? Shoeless Joe Jackson at 5... Ernie Banks at 5. Jim Edmonds? You guessed it -- 5. Mark McGwire? *5*. Compiling but good? Bobby Grich --- duh-duh-duh. *5* (although he just falls short of a 6). Don Sutton -- real compiler with an h-index of 4. Mike Trout already has surpassed Sutton with an h-index of 5 (the measure can't go down, it can only go up). Mike Trout for HOF right now!


What I like about these coarse measures is that in some way they separate signal from the noise. Can we really differentiate the overall careers of Banks from Edmonds (assuming fielding WAR can be trusted) balancing peak vs. career? This method puts them in the same class. From what I can tell, there are just 3 h-index players at 9 -- Cy Young, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays. This is one of the first metrics that I've seen that clearly separates those guys in a meaningful way from everyone else.

Anyone with a complete database could easily run a list to compile the h-indices for players and I would guess the clustering of players by h-index would be aesthetically pleasing without providing additional decimal points or confusing the issue with average x-year peak WAR vs. total career cumulative WAR.

   34. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: April 11, 2017 at 11:40 AM (#5432959)
I'm afraid I'm too old to ever get excited about Rangers v. Astros

You mean the Silver Boot doesn't do it for you?
   35. BDC Posted: April 11, 2017 at 11:42 AM (#5432961)
your h index is the largest number such that at least h of your published papers have been cited at least h times

I think mine is 1.

Actually, I love the H-index idea for player careers. I made lists awhile back of players with X number of seasons of Y value or greater but didn't tip to the H-index as a way of harmonizing them. Of course it's also interesting to compare guys with two 9-WAR seasons as against those with nine 4- WAR seasons or whatever, but the H-index is very elegant.
   36. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 11, 2017 at 12:40 PM (#5433012)
Bears vs Packers was never really an actual on field rivalry in that during my lifetime it almost never happened where both teams were good. Generally one was pretty bad and was pretty good.

In the early days of the "modern" NFL that began in 1933, that was a huge rivalry. Between 1933 and 1946 the Bears won 8 Western Division titles and the Packers 4, and one of those Bears titles came in a playoff game against Green Bay. Meanwhile, in that same stretch, the Giants won 8 Eastern Division titles and the Redskins won 6.
   37. dlf Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:02 PM (#5433037)
In the early days of the "modern" NFL that began in 1933, that was a huge rivalry.


Yes, but Andy, you are the only one here old enough to have first hand knowledge of that.

...

It is my personal observation that the best current rivalries are in college football. Whether Alabama/Auburn, Michigan/Ohio State, Notre Dame/USC, Cal/Stanford, Florida/Georgia or at a different level, Army/Navy, Harvard/Yale, etc. there seems to be a something more passionate from both the fans and the players than I see with professionals.

...

Reading the posts about the Big Red Machine made me look up Sparky Anderson's other great club, the '84 Tigers. I was a little surprised to see their WAR totals. Trammell (6.7) Lemon (6.2) and Gibson (5.1) were the only position players over 5. Sweet Lou (4.2) was the only other one over 3. And the starting pitching was likewise less than I expected with Petry (3.5) and Morris (2.5) being solid but not spectacular. WAR loved it some Willie Hernandez (4.8) but I guess the team relied more on just not having anyone worse than average rather than anyone great.
   38. JohnQ Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:02 PM (#5433038)
From Jolly Old St. Nick, #29:

In fact all 4 divisions featured the same sort of shared division title domination in a somewhat shorter time frame. From 1970-80 the Pirates won 6 N.L. East titles and the Phillies won 4. And from 1969 through 1981 the Orioles won 6 A.L. East titles and the Yankees won 5. But from 1981 through 1986 6 different teams won that same A. L. East division, and


It's a little more muddled with the Eastern divisions compared to the Western divisions because the Phillies had two stretches (early 70's, late 80's/early 90's) where they were pretty terrible. And the Pirates had the middle 80's where they weren't very good. Apart from 3 years in the 80's, the Cardinals were usually a 3rd place team. The Mets went through massive peaks and valleys during the divisional era. They had the best single season team of that era from the N.L. East (1986) and 3 of the worst (1993, 1979, 1977) The Expos had a period in the 80's where they were a solid 2nd or 3rd place team but most of that time period was spent in 4th or 5th place. And then it seemed as though the Pirates and Phillies could rarely beat the West in the LCS.

But yeah if you look at it from 1970-1993 , the Pirates and Phillies dominated the N.L. East.

Pirates: 2012-1804, .527, 2 WS, 2 LCS, 9 Divison Titles, 5 Second Place Finishes.

Best Players by WAR:

B. Bonds-50.1
W. Stargell-39.1
D. Parker-34.7
J. Candelaria-34.2
Andy Van Slyke-30.4
A. Oliver-25.1
R. Rhoden-24.9
M. Sanguillen-23.3
T. Pena-22.3
D. Drabek-22.2

Candelaria & Rhoden get overlooked because everyone focussed on the Pirates "Lumber Company". Andy Van Slyke was a very underrated player.

Phillies: 1917-1907 .501. 1 WS, 3 NLCS, 7 Divisions, 3 Second Place Finishes.

Best Players by WAR

M. Schmidt-106.5
S. Carlton-69.5
G. Maddox-28.8
V. Hayes-27.0
L. Bowa-21.4
L. Dykstra-20.6
G. Luzinski-19.1
J. Kruk-17.1
D. Daulten-16.3
J. Denny-14.2

It's amazing how 1 franchise was so dependent on 2 players (Schmidt & Carlton). Take Schmidt or Carlton off of the Phillies and they would have been lucky to win 1 division over that time span. John Kruk was actually a pretty good player.

   39. DavidFoss Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:05 PM (#5433041)
Anyone with a complete database could easily run a list to compile the h-indices for players and I would guess the clustering of players by h-index would be aesthetically pleasing without providing additional decimal points or confusing the issue with average x-year peak WAR vs. total career cumulative WAR.


Here's what I found:

9 Babe Ruth

8 Barry Bonds, Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez

7 Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Nap Lajoie, Eddie Mathews, Stan Musial, Albert Pujols, Mike Schmidt, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, Ted Williams

6 Wade Boggs, Robinson Cano, Ed Delahanty, Joe DiMaggio, Nomar Garciaparra, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Ken Griffey, Rickey Henderson, Al Kaline, Mickey Mantle, Johnny Mize, Mel Ott, Cal Ripken, Frank Robinson, Ron Santo, Frank Thomas, Alan Trammell, Arky Vaughan

5 Bobby Abreu, Dick Allen, Roberto Alomar, Felipe Alou, Cap Anson, Luke Appling, Richie Ashburn, Jeff Bagwell, Home Run Baker, Sal Bando, Ernie Banks, Buddy Bell, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Beltran, Johnny Bench, Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio, Bobby Bonds, Lou Boudreau, Ken Boyer, George Brett, Dan Brouthers, Jesse Burkett, Miguel Cabrera, Dolph Camilli, Rod Carew, Gary Carter, Cesar Cedeno, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmy Collins, Roger Connor, Sam Crawford, Joe Cronin, Bill Dahlen, George Davis, Bobby Doerr, Jim Edmonds, Elmer Flick, Jim Fregosi, Jack Glasscock, Joe Gordon, Goose Goslin, Bobby Grich, Vladimir Guerrero, Tony Gwynn, Billy Hamilton, Harry Heilmann, Todd Helton, Keith Hernandez, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Reggie Jackson, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Charlie Keller, Ralph Kiner, Ian Kinsler, Barry Larkin, Kenny Lofton, Edgar Martinez, Joe Mauer, Willie McCovey, Mark McGwire, Minnie Minoso, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, Dale Murphy, Eddie Murray, Graig Nettles, John Olerud, Tony Oliva, Rafael Palmeiro, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Piazza, Vada Pinson, Tim Raines, Manny Ramirez, Pee Wee Reese, Jim Rice, Brooks Robinson, Jackie Robinson, Ivan Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Pete Rose, Ryne Sandberg, Al Simmons, George Sisler, Ozzie Smith, Reggie Smith, Duke Snider, Sammy Sosa, Ichiro Suzuki, Bill Terry, Jim Thome, Joe Torre, Mike Trout, Troy Tulowitzki, Chase Utley, Robin Ventura, Joey Votto, Larry Walker, Bobby Wallace, Paul Waner, Bernie Williams, Billy Williams, Hack Wilson, Dave Winfield, Jim Wynn, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Yount
   40. JohnQ Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:26 PM (#5433069)
The A.L. East was more Muddled. You had the Orioles & Yankees dominate from 1969-83 and then the Blue Jays, Red Sox & Tigers from 1984-93.

From 1969-1983 the Orioles were the best team in baseball let alone the A.L. East. In retrospect it's a bit amazing they only won 2 WS.

Orioles: 1404-949, .597. 2 WS, 5 LCS, 7 Division Titles, 6 Second Place Finishes.

Best Players by WAR:

J. Palmer-68.1
M. Belanger-37.8
B. Grich-36.0
E. Murray-32.3
K. Singleton-31.7
P. Blair-28.4
B. Robinson-27.1
A. Bumbry-24.1
D. Decinces-22.8
B. Powell-20.4

Those pitchers other than Palmer were really overrated. That team was all about the defense and hitting from Murray & Singleton. Belanger was really underrated so was Singleton.

Yankees: 1304-1057, .552, 2 WS, 4 LCS, 5 Divison Titles, 2 Second Place Finishes.

Best Players by WAR:

T. Munson-45.9
G. Nettles-44.3
R. White-42.4
R. Guidry-36.5
W. Randolph-35.8
B. Murcer-27.6
M. Stottlemeyer-22.3
R. Gossage-18.9
R. Jackson-17.1
T. John-16.2

It's amazing how underrated Roy White is. It's rare to be that good and a Yankee and be that underrated. You can add G. Nettles & W. Randolph to that list.


   41. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:46 PM (#5433091)
This made me think of real peak vs. career arguments (which means someone has probably already thought of this). Sandy Koufax had at least 5 seasons of at least 5 WAR, so he has a personal h-index of 5. Greg Maddux is at 6. Pedro Martinez is at 6 as well, so both better than Koufax according to this metric, with Pedro and Maddux coming out at the same level.


I guess I am not understanding what the h-index is measuring. Greg Maddux has 11 seasons of at least 5 war (by bwar). Wouldn't his h-index be 11?
   42. SoSH U at work Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:52 PM (#5433099)
Greg Maddux has 11 seasons of at least 5 war (by bwar). Wouldn't his h-index be 11?


I believe an h-index of 6 means he has at least six seasons of 6 WAR, where both numbers must be at or above the index figure.
   43. Don August(us) Cesar Geronimo Berroa Posted: April 11, 2017 at 01:55 PM (#5433100)
ahhh. ok. that makes sense.
   44. GordonShumway Posted: April 11, 2017 at 02:03 PM (#5433109)
Ruth has an h-index of 10, not 9.

EDIT: and Mays has an h-index of 9, not 8, I think.
   45. DavidFoss Posted: April 11, 2017 at 02:46 PM (#5433144)
Ruth has an h-index of 10, not 9.

EDIT: and Mays has an h-index of 9, not 8, I think.


Thanks. For Ruth, I only did the position player part. It looks like in 1916, he gets a 10th overall 10 WAR season if you combine pitching (8.7) and batting (1.7).

For Mays, I used the raw dataset which has a second decimal place. He 'only' had 8.97 WAR in 1966 but the table on the website says '9.0'. I guess that's like hitting .3997. I'll rerun to see how much of a difference that makes. Hopefully not that many people move.
   46. sanny manguillen Posted: April 11, 2017 at 02:49 PM (#5433149)
The Pirates and Reds had a pretty good correlation of ups and downs between 1960 and the early 90s. Even in some negative ways: they weren't at the top in the late 60s, but had wall-to-wall power that made for some interesting slugfests. The winning teams of the 70s were similar with strong bullpens, but rotations that came from here and there.

I think the final standings might underestimate the annual competition here. Many of the races had a very similar dynamic: the Dodgers started very well, the Reds fell well behind, but were monsters as the weather warmed up. It was always a question of how fast would the Dodgers start, and how torrid would the Reds get once everything got rolling:

Reds victories:
1970: Took first place for good on April 12.
1972: Down by 5.5 on May 10, reached first on June 9.
1973: Down by 11.0 on June 30 (Dodgers in first), reached first on September 3.
1975: Down by 5.5 on May 15 (Dodgers in first), reached first on June 8.
1976: Tied with Dodgers on June 3.
1979: Down 10.5 games on July 5, reached first on August 28.

Dodger victories:
1974: Took first for good on April 14, up 10.5 on July 10, finished four ahead of Reds.
1977: Blew out division
1978: Tied with Reds and Giants on May 22, six back of Giants on June 26, tied with Giants July 29 (Reds one back), 9 up on September 16, finished 2.5 ahead of the Reds.

If not the Dodgers, then I think at least Dodger fans could always hear Red footsteps in the distance.



   47. BDC Posted: April 11, 2017 at 02:49 PM (#5433150)
David's list in #39 is very interesting. Nomar is the only eligible at 6 or above not to fly into the HOM, though the HOF dragged its heels on Santo and continues to do so on Trammell.

And there are some at 4 who are clear HOF/HOM choices – Harmon Killebrew and Willie Stargell come to mind, and I'm sure there are others. But there are a lot of guys at 4 who will never be anywhere near either Hall. Andy Van Slyke is at 4. Ken Keltner, speak of the devil, is at 4.

But 5 is a mixed and contentious level. Most are in one Hall or the other, but there are guys like Bando and Bell and Olerud who are unlikely to break through into either Hall soon. But you've also got Joe Morgan and Brooks Robinson and Paul Waner.
   48. DavidFoss Posted: April 11, 2017 at 03:10 PM (#5433161)
I'll rerun to see how much of a difference that makes. Hopefully not that many people move.

I don't want to repost the whole thing. If you do the rounding then:

8->9 - Mays
7->8 - Aaron
5->6 - Ken Boyer, George Brett, Roger Connor
4->5 - Ron Cey, Fred Clarke

Its hard to put rounding into the search, I had to double check the website. I had Gary Carter rounded up to 6 and Paul Blair and Ben Zobrist rounded up to 5 but the website disagreed. I guess with any histogram you're going to have close calls.
   49. DavidFoss Posted: April 11, 2017 at 03:47 PM (#5433184)
Here is the pitching list.

Pitching only. No hitting component. No rounding either. :-)

9 Cy Young

8 Walter Johnson

7 Pete Alexander, Roger Clemens, Lefty Grove, Randy Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Kid Nichols

6 Bert Blyleven, John Clarkson, Stan Coveleski, Wes Ferrell, Pud Galvin, Bob Gibson, Noodles Hahn, Roy Halladay, Tim Keefe, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Jim McCormick, Phil Niekro, Jim Palmer, Eddie Plank, Robin Roberts, Amos Rusie, Tom Seaver, Ed Walsh


5 Kevin Appier, Tommy Bond, Kevin Brown, Charlie Buffinton, Jim Bunning, Steve Carlton, Bob Caruthers, David Cone, Dizzy Dean, Bill Dinneen, Don Drysdale, Bob Feller, Bob Friend, Clark Griffith, Mel Harder, Fergie Jenkins, Clayton Kershaw, Sandy Koufax, Mark Langston, Ted Lyons, Juan Marichal, Bobby Mathews, Joe McGinnity, Tony Mullane, Mike Mussina, Hal Newhouser, Roy Oswalt, Gaylord Perry, Old Hoss Radbourn, Rick Reuschel, Eddie Rommel, Nap Rucker, Nolan Ryan, Bret Saberhagen, Johan Santana, Curt Schilling, Urban Shocker, Warren Spahn, Al Spalding, Dave Stieb, Luis Tiant, Dazzy Vance, Hippo Vaughn, Rube Waddell, Mickey Welch, Jim Whitney, Vic Willis, Wilbur Wood

   50. QLE Posted: April 11, 2017 at 03:57 PM (#5433192)
#26- Quite, and, to get an idea how much so:

When compared directly to each other, Darrell Evans' career is basically Cey's, plus several years' worth of play at a below-average level, much of it at positions other than third base.

Evans gets mentioned a lot as a heavily underrated player, and has for decades. You don't seem to hear the same on behalf of Cey.

In other words, he's so underrated people often seem to miss he's underrated.
   51. BackNine Posted: April 11, 2017 at 04:02 PM (#5433196)
I was a child in LA in the 1970s. #46 has the right idea; I have no idea what #15 means when he incorrectly says that the Reds and Dodgers were not rivals in the 1970s, unless by "not rivals" he means "did not battle down to the wire in late September."

Rivalries happen all year. I am not going to check retrosheet in making this post, but I distinctly remember Dodgers-Reds series in July and August that seemed to turn the tide of the pennant race. They were major events in LA; it seemed like everyone tuned in when the Reds played the Dodgers. The rivalry seemed far more intense in those days than Dodgers-Giants.

It was also a source of great frustration to me that many in LA seemed to be Reds fans. At the time I considered them bandwagon fans; the Reds were far more sexy because their position players were so good. I remember being nearly apoplectic when attending a key Dodger-Red game when the crowd seemed to be cheering more loudly for the Reds than the Dodgers. You have to remember that even back then Garvey and later Lasorda were polarizing figures. And if you didn't want to root for the Dodgers, then you might as well root for their awesome rivals.

It is interesting that the Dodgers had quite a few very good position players who flew a bit under the radar, possibly because they could draw a walk and because their skills did not seem as impressive when offensive greatness was measured in hits, BA, HR, RBI. Reggie Smith (my favorite) and Jim Wynn come to mind, along with Cey and Lopes.

BBTF has always had a hate-on for Garvey. Even in the 70s many in LA thought he was a pompous ass; his sexual excapades came later. Thinking of him as simply overrated doesn't do him justice, though. I wrote a short essay in a BBTF thread about this many years ago. Garvey of course was overrated, but I think he would have been a better player nowadays because he was the one player who really did seem to function by setting particular statistical goals. He thought that a .300 average and 200 hits were the benchmarks. It was well known at the time -- that's why he laid down so many bunts. But if he played now, he'd be trying to maximize his OPS. He'd take more walks, and probably hit for a worse average but better power. When Lasorda became manager he said that he wanted more HRs out of Garvey, and Garvey went out and did it; looking at bbref to confirm my memory, that is clearly 1977 when he hit 33 HR but batted less than 0.300 and had fewer than 200 hits. He also had a worse OPS, so maybe he couldn't have changed his value nowadays. But he was a thoughtful player, so you never know.

And if the Reds weren't the Dodgers' rivals, then why was I so devastated at the end of the 1975 World Series? Oh yeah, the Reds and Dodgers were rivals.
   52. BDC Posted: April 11, 2017 at 04:20 PM (#5433217)
You might also need a catcher list, David. The position-player list picks up a few of the top catchers, but others like Hartnett, Dickey, Berra, Campanella, and Fisk are at 4. For catchers 5 would seem to be like 6 for other positions, and 4 like 5.
   53. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 11, 2017 at 04:35 PM (#5433230)
From 1969-1983 the Orioles were the best team in baseball let alone the A.L. East. In retrospect it's a bit amazing they only won 2 WS.

Orioles: 1404-949, .597. 2 WS, 5 LCS, 7 Division Titles, 6 Second Place Finishes.


The O's actually had the best record in baseball for 20 years (1964-83, 1859-1301, .588), and IIRC maybe even a bit longer than that. And if you take it back to that time frame you can add another pennant and World Series.
   54. Copronymus Posted: April 11, 2017 at 05:26 PM (#5433280)
you might get a few teams like the 01 Giants, on which Bonds put up 11.9, and then Kent and Aurilia were more sort of normal-great (5.2 and 6.7, respectively), and then you'd have some random dude (Shawon Dunston, Armando Rios, and . . . who the hell is Calvin Murray?).


If you switch to WAA for the 2001 Giants, you end up with Livan Hernandez's non-pitching contributions in 4th place with 1 WAA (and Russ Ortiz in 6th and 3 other pitchers in the top 11). That team was . . . top-heavy.
   55. DavidFoss Posted: April 11, 2017 at 05:27 PM (#5433281)
You might also need a catcher list, David.


OK. We're reaching the limits of my search capabilities.

Hopefully, this only counts seasons with 30 games caught or more. I don't know why I picked 30.

5 Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Mickey Cochrane, Joe Mauer, Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez

4 Charlie Bennett, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Bill Dickey, Buck Ewing, Carlton Fisk, Bill Freehan, Gabby Hartnett, Jason Kendall, Thurman Munson, Jorge Posada, Buster Posey, Ted Simmons, Gene Tenace, Joe Torre

3 Brad Ausmus, Ed Bailey, Johnny Bassler, Earl Battey, Bob Boone, Bob Brenly, Roger Bresnahan, Smoky Burgess, Fred Carroll, Jack Clements, Walker Cooper, Del Crandall, Darren Daulton, Rick Dempsey, Joe Ferguson, Rich Gedman, Mike Grady, Tom Haller, Frankie Hayes, Ramon Hernandez, Chris Hoiles, Elston Howard, Charles Johnson, King Kelly, Johnny Kling, Paul Lo Duca, Sherm Lollar, Ernie Lombardi, Javy Lopez, Jonathan Lucroy, Russell Martin, Victor Martinez, Brian McCann, Tim McCarver, Chief Meyers, Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Bob O'Farrell, Steve O'Neill, Lance Parrish, Tony Pena, Darrell Porter, Muddy Ruel, Carlos Ruiz, Manny Sanguillen, Carlos Santana, Ray Schalk, Wally Schang, John Stearns, Terry Steinbach, Jim Sundberg, Mickey Tettleton, Jason Varitek, Deacon White, Butch Wynegar

   56. Russ Posted: April 11, 2017 at 08:40 PM (#5433368)
Wow David, thanks for all that work. Just wow.
   57. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:02 PM (#5433387)
That team was . . . top-heavy.


Just like Bonds. *rimshot*
   58. BDC Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:09 PM (#5433393)
Yes, thanks very much, David!

The catcher list is very intriguing in that the 4s all are either in a Hall or have arguable (and oft-argued) cases. Well, maybe not Kendall. But he had a unique career that may look better as the years pass.

Whereas at 3 you have HOFers Bresnahan (HOM too, partly as a pioneer and team leader), Lombardi (much-belated, and the HOM isn't buying it) and Schalk (one of the Clean Sox, not in the HOM). Obviously you'd be manically delighted if any of those guys in his prime was your team's catcher (Lucroy is now, and I am). But by and large they're the HOVG of catching.
   59. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:31 PM (#5433413)
I grew up in the 70's(well I was born in 1970.....so I mostly started to remember from the bicentennial on) and when I was younger there were three teams I could more or less name the starting 8 and a pitcher or two, Cardinals, Dodgers, and Reds, (it might not have been the starting team from that year, but the starting team anyone would have thought represented the team of that decade) throw in the Pirates and that was really the teams I knew in 1980 (The Dodgers were helped because I had a friend I played baseball with, and we used baseball cards to represent our team, and he was the Dodgers, and I was the Cardinals)

A's, Orioles, and Yankees were the AL teams that I knew about. (And I know for the people on here who know me, it might sound strange, but the Red Sox were my favorite AL team at the time, because of Fred Lynn and his 1976 baseball card, along with Jim Rice....although Joe Rudi and the A's were also my other AL favorite team)

I wonder how many teams it takes to do a fairly good job of representing the decade. I mean the 70's was Reds, A's, Yankees, Dodgers, Orioles, Pirates..... the 80's was the Cardinals, Mets...and maybe throw in the Royals and Red Sox, which seems like a lot, before expansion, you were probably pretty safe saying Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers and Giants and maybe one other team per decade.
   60. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2017 at 09:40 PM (#5433433)
The O's actually had the best record in baseball for 20 years (1964-83, 1859-1301, .588), and IIRC maybe even a bit longer than that. And if you take it back to that time frame you can add another pennant and World Series.


During that stretch, the Reds were second, exactly 100 games behind them, so I'm pretty comfortable saying that they probably had a larger stretch. 1960-1985 gives them 2374-1749(.576), over the Dodgers at 2296-1843(.555) (During that stretch of 26 seasons, the Orioles had two losing seasons, 1967 76-85, 1962 77-85,

You could probably extend that stretch another season or two either way, but you are then bookending losing seasons which isn't quite as impressive. (1957-1986 they still have the lead, 2671-2073 .563 to Yankees 2654-2100 .558)

   61. JohnQ Posted: April 11, 2017 at 10:03 PM (#5433449)
From Jolly Old St. Nick:


The O's actually had the best record in baseball for 20 years (1964-83, 1859-1301, .588), and IIRC maybe even a bit longer than that. And if you take it back to that time frame you can add another pennant and World Series.


The Orioles actually had the best record in baseball from 1958-1997, 40 seasons, 3440-2864 .546

I would imagine it's the only 40 season time span since 1920 that the Yankees didn't have the best record in MLB.
   62. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 11, 2017 at 10:28 PM (#5433462)
The O's actually had the best record in baseball for 20 years (1964-83, 1859-1301, .588), and IIRC maybe even a bit longer than that. And if you take it back to that time frame you can add another pennant and World Series.

The Orioles actually had the best record in baseball from 1958-1997, 40 seasons, 3440-2864 .546


Wow, I remember their boasting about their "best" 25 year record sometime in the mid-80's, but I couldn't remember the endpoints so I didn't want to post it as fact. I didn't realize that it extended all the way to 1997, though I suspect that if you moved the endpoint up to about 1988 they couldn't have made the claim. I would have guessed 1960 (their breakthrough year) through 1984 (when they still had a winning record) as making up the 25 years.

EDIT: Another tip of the feathered chapeau to cfb.
   63. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 11, 2017 at 10:31 PM (#5433465)
I would imagine it's the only 40 season time span since 1920 that the Yankees didn't have the best record in MLB.

I have to wonder what the combined American League standings from 1920 through 1964 might look like. I'm somewhat surprised that BB-Reference doesn't have a tool for finding info like that----Or do they?
   64. DavidFoss Posted: April 11, 2017 at 10:42 PM (#5433473)
The Yankees can actually stretch the lead in 40-year gaps back to 1907-1946 which is surprising because of how strong the Giants franchise was in the 10s.

From 1920-1964

NYY       95.4    58.7    0.619   
CLE       82.4    71.8    0.534   
DET       79.4    75.1    0.514   
CHW       75.8    78.0    0.493   
BOS       74.1    79.9    0.481   
WAS
/MIN   73.8    80.2    0.479   
LAA
/CAL   77.0    84.5    0.477   
STL
/BAL   69.2    84.8    0.449   
PHI
/KC    68.4    85.4    0.445   
WAS
(TEX)  59.8    101.8   0.370 


There's only a few Angels/Senators2 seasons
   65. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2017 at 10:59 PM (#5433489)
I have to wonder what the combined American League standings from 1920 through 1964 might look like. I'm somewhat surprised that BB-Reference doesn't have a tool for finding info like that----Or do they?


If you have pi, they do, it may not seem intuitive, but you are actually using split finder, select pitching, select find totals for spanning season, then choose split type season totals, then choose split total. (sort by wins or winning percentage)

Not sure about the standings, but here is the link for teams sorted by wins from 1920-1964.

and here is the list of both leagues.

NYY 4292 2643 .619
STL 3862 3077 .557
BRO 3758 3182 .541
NYG 3749 3177 .541
CLE 3706 3231 .534
DET 3571 3381 .514
PIT 3478 3449 .502
CHC 3445 3495 .496
CHW 3413 3510 .493
CIN 3406 3526 .491
BOS 3333 3595 .481
WSH 3319 3608 .479
BSN 3305 3617 .477
SLB 3114 3816 .449
PHA 3076 3842 .445
PHI 2863 4055 .414
LAA 308 338 .477
WSA 239 407 .370
HOU 196 288 .405
NYM 144 340 .298 
   66. JohnQ Posted: April 11, 2017 at 11:05 PM (#5433492)
From Jolly Old St. Nick:


I have to wonder what the combined American League standings from 1920 through 1964 might look like. I'm somewhat surprised that BB-Reference doesn't have a tool for finding info like that----Or do they?


The YAnkees had the best record from 1920-1964: 4292-2643, .619

You can find that data right here at seamheads:

http://seamheads.com/baseballgauge/history.php?tab=tm_at&first=1920&last=1964&lg=All&division=All&active=Y&sort=Wpct_a

I guess it was Very long and tedious to find that data back in the 1980'sso the only had the 25 year number.
   67. Jay Z Posted: April 12, 2017 at 12:15 AM (#5433495)
Reading the posts about the Big Red Machine made me look up Sparky Anderson's other great club, the '84 Tigers. I was a little surprised to see their WAR totals. Trammell (6.7) Lemon (6.2) and Gibson (5.1) were the only position players over 5. Sweet Lou (4.2) was the only other one over 3. And the starting pitching was likewise less than I expected with Petry (3.5) and Morris (2.5) being solid but not spectacular. WAR loved it some Willie Hernandez (4.8) but I guess the team relied more on just not having anyone worse than average rather than anyone great.


Bill James made a point in the 1986 Abstract that the difference between the 1985 Tigers and 1984 was mostly their bench and depth. Let's look at the WAR:

The Tigers top 8 in WAR in '84 were Trammell, Lemon, Gibson, Guillermo, Whitaker, Petry, Parrish, and Morris. Those 8 were 8 of the top 9 in WAR for 1985 as well, joined by Darrell Evans. Those 9 were 37.3 WAR in 1984, 35.9 in 1985 for a loss of -1.4.

The ninth best player in WAR in 1984 was Ruppert Jones, who left as a FA. 1984 only players totaled 1.9 WAR. 1985 only players totaled 2.1 WAR, for a slight gain of 0.2.

That leaves all other players who played on both teams. These 15 players totaled 12.1 WAR in 1984. The same 15 totaled -2.2 WAR in 1985, for a loss of -14.3! Dave Bergman, Aurelio Lopez, Juan Berengeur, and Doug Bair were the biggest offenders. No, not Tom Brookens. So for this team, changes in bench performance were the biggest difference from one year to the next.
   68. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 12, 2017 at 08:12 AM (#5433523)
I have to wonder what the combined American League standings from 1920 through 1964 might look like. I'm somewhat surprised that BB-Reference doesn't have a tool for finding info like that----Or do they?

The YAnkees had the best record from 1920-1964: 4292-2643, .619

You can find that data right here at seamheads:

http://seamheads.com/baseballgauge/history.php?tab=tm_at&first=1920&last=1964&lg=All&division=All&active=Y&sort=Wpct_a

I guess it was Very long and tedious to find that data back in the 1980'sso the only had the 25 year number.


Hey, thanks for that terrific link. I also like that it shows each team's average attendance for that period, or any period whose endpoints you choose to enter. I see from 1992 to 1998, the Orioles led the AL in attendance, second only to the Rockies in the Majors.

And to now answer the question I was really trying to ask the first time around, during that 1920-1964 period the second place team in the AL was the Indians. They trailed the Yankees by 587 games, or an average of 13 games a year.

And as I suspected above in #62, if you moved the endpoints from 1958-97 to 1958-88, the Orioles dropped from the top of MLB to second, behind (who else?) the Yankees.

P. S. From 1994 to 2016, the Yankees were 102 games ahead of the second place Braves, and 147.5 games ahead of the Red Sox, who were second in the AL.
   69. No longer interested in this website Posted: April 12, 2017 at 03:38 PM (#5433899)
One only had to be alive in the 1970s to know how important and contentious the Reds/Dodgers rivalry was. Pick up any book by any of the principals on those teams (Sparky, Bench, Rose, Morgan, Alston, Lasorda, Dusty Baker, Garvey, come to mind) and they almost all have a chapter or large sections on the rivalry. In 1977 there was a huge amount of trash talking going from the Reds to LA when the Dodgers vaulted out to a big lead. Lasorda and Sparky were not fans of each other at all, and only warmed up later in life. Rose didn't like Garvey, Morgan didn't like anyone on the Dodgers, and so on.
   70. Moeball Posted: April 13, 2017 at 10:06 PM (#5434897)
Rose didn't like Garvey


Neither did Don Sutton...

   71. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 13, 2017 at 10:57 PM (#5434911)
Apologies if this has been already mentioned above, but FTR from 1970 through 1979 the Reds were 43.5 games ahead of the Dodgers, who also trailed the Orioles and the Pirates.

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