Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Half the Guys Are Gone

For today's post, I''m just going to share some data I've compiled and you can make of it what you will.

At what point are half the players on a team deceased? If the total number of players (let's call it variable n) is odd, it'd be when the number of deceased players is equal to (n + 1 / 2). If you have an even number of players, it's when the number of deceased players is (n / 2). I looked at the years that were multiples of ten between 1910 and 1960 to see which players marked the halfway point of the players being deceased for each of them, and also how long it took to occur. For a couple from 1960, they didn't even reach that level till earlier this year. I also looked at how it compared to the average age of the team to see how strong the correlation was.

1910NameDeath DateYearsAvg Age
PittsburgHowie Camnitz3/2/19605028.3
Philadelphia (AL)Jack Coombs4/15/19574727.6
CincinnatiFrank Roth3/27/19554526.2
ClevelandHeinie Berger2/10/19544428.2
Boston (AL)Bunny Madden1/20/19544425.5
Chicago (AL)Fred Payne1/16/19544427.1
BrooklynRube Dessau5/6/19524225.9
New York (NL)Doc Crandall8/17/19514125.7
WashingtonDoc Ralston8/29/19504027.9
Boston (NL)Jim Riley3/25/19493926.5
DetroitMarv Peasley12/27/19483827.8
New York (AL)Walter Blair8/20/19483827.4
St. Louis (NL)Rebel Oakes3/1/19483826.4
Chicago (NL)Mordecai Brown2/14/19483829.0
St. Louis (AL)Hub Northen10/1/19473728.2
Philadelphia (NL)Kitty Bransfield5/1/19473729.0
MLB AVG41.427.3

r = -0.18

1920NameDeath DateYearsAvg Age
PittsburghBilly Southworth11/15/19694927.6
Philadelphia (AL)Chick Galloway11/7/19694924.7
New York (AL)Rip Collins5/27/19684827.8
ClevelandRay Caldwell8/17/19674729.3
BrooklynDoug Baird6/13/19674730.1
Chicago (NL)Hippo Vaughn5/29/19664629.3
Philadelphia (NL)Gene Paulette2/8/19664628.9
WashingtonBill Hollahan11/27/19654527.2
CincinnatiJimmy Ring7/6/19654529.1
Boston (AL)Wally Schang3/6/19654528.1
DetroitOscar Stanage11/11/19644428.9
St. Louis (AL)Roy Sanders7/8/19634328.5
Chicago (AL)Dickey Kerr5/4/19634329.4
Boston (NL)Ray Powell10/16/19624227.9
St. Louis (NL)Burt Shotton7/29/19624226.4
New York (NL)Frank Snyder1/5/19624226.9
MLB AVG45.228.1

r = -0.06

1930NameDeath DateYearsAvg Age
New York (NL)Hughie Critz1/10/19805027.2
ClevelandMilt Shoffner1/19/19784827.3
Boston (NL)Lance Richbourg9/10/19754529.6
CincinnatiMarty Callaghan6/23/19754529.6
New York (AL)Ownie Carroll6/8/19754527.0
DetroitJimmy Shevlin10/30/19744426.7
PittsburghSteve Swetonic4/22/19744426.7
Chicago (AL)Bennie Tate10/27/19734327.4
St. Louis (NL)Frankie Frisch3/12/19734329.6
Chicago (NL)Danny Taylor10/11/19724229.4
Boston (AL)Charlie Berry9/6/19724228.6
St. Louis (AL)General Crowder4/3/19724228.7
BrooklynRay Phelps7/7/19714128.9
Philadelphia (NL)Tripp Sigman3/8/19714127.1
WashingtonBobby Burke2/8/19714129.1
Philadelphia (AL)Pinky Higgins3/21/19693928.7
MLB AVG43.428.2

r = -0.35

1940NameDeath DateYearsAvg Age
Boston (NL)Hank Majeski8/9/19915126.3
Philadelphia (AL)Wally Moses10/10/19905026.9
New York (NL)Mickey Witek8/24/19905028.7
Philadelphia (NL)Neb Stewart6/8/19905027.4
St. Louis (NL)Creepy Crespi3/1/19905027.1
New York (AL)Lefty Gomez2/17/19894928.1
Chicago (NL)Zeke Bonura3/9/19874728.9
CincinnatiVince DiMaggio10/3/19864628.8
DetroitHank Greenberg9/4/19864629.4
St. Louis (AL)George Susce2/25/19864628.2
WashingtonSam West11/23/19854526.8
Boston (AL)Joe Glenn5/6/19854528.1
ClevelandHank Helf10/27/19844426.7
BrooklynGus Mancuso10/26/19844428.4
Chicago (AL)Joe Kuhel2/26/19844429.4
PittsburghEd Leip11/24/19834327.6
MLB AVG46.927.9

r = -0.31

1950NameDeath DateYearsAvg Age
WashingtonSandy Consuegra11/16/20055528.6
St. Louis (AL)Ribs Raney7/7/20035325.5
New York (AL)Joe Ostrowski1/3/20035329.2
Chicago (NL)Harry Chiti1/31/20025227.5
Boston (AL)Bob Gillespie11/4/20015129.8
New York (NL)Bill Rigney2/20/20015127.0
St. Louis (NL)Tom Poholsky1/6/20015129.1
Boston (NL)Willard Marshall11/5/20005029.2
Chicago (AL)John Perkovich9/16/20005028.4
Philadelphia (NL)Ken Heintzelman8/14/20005026.5
BrooklynPee Wee Reese8/14/19994927.5
ClevelandEarly Wynn4/4/19994929.2
Philadelphia (AL)Ben Guintini12/2/19984831.2
DetroitHal Newhouser11/10/19984828.2
PittsburghStan Rojek7/9/19974728.6
CincinnatiBobby Adams2/13/19974727.5
MLB AVG50.328.3

r = -0.19

1960NameDeath DateYearsAvg Age
ClevelandTito Francona2/13/20185828.2
Los AngelesWally Moon2/9/20185827.7
DetroitChico Fernandez6/11/20165628.6
San FranciscoJim Davenport2/18/20165626.8
Kansas CityKen Johnson11/21/20155528.3
St. LouisRay Sadecki11/17/20145428.6
PhiladelphiaAl Dark11/13/20145426.1
Chicago (AL)Gene Freese6/19/20135330.8
MilwaukeeStan Lopata6/15/20135330.0
BostonTom Borland3/2/20135329.0
Chicago (NL)Ed Bouchee1/23/20135328.1
WashingtonDon Mincher3/4/20125227.4
New YorkAndy Carey12/15/20115128.1
PittsburghGino Cimoli2/12/20115128.6
BaltimoreAl Pilarcik9/20/20105027.8
CincinnatiWhitey Lockman3/17/20094927.3
MLB AVG53.528.2

r = -0.05

The r variable, for anyone unaware, shows the strength of correlation. A negative number, as we see in each of these cases, shows that the higher the number of years until a team reaches the halfway point, the younger the average age of the team is. That's consistent with what we'd expect, but as we can see, the correlation isn't particularly strong in any of these cases. There's no higher than a 35% correlation in any instance, and in some cases it's close to zero.

I'm also not sure why from 1920 to 1930 the average number of years till a team reached the halfway point actually dropped. You'd think we'd see a steady rise, considering the increases in life expectancy over time.

I suppose I'll have to compile the data for more years than just these, to see if we can spot any trends, because six different years isn't exactly the largest sample size. We'll see what comes of that. To be continued? Maybe?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Missed It By That Much

My earlier post about "Interregnum Players" has an interesting variant: Players whose stints with a team include the years before and after a championship, but not the championship years themselves. This happens more often than you might realize, and who has the full list? Baseball Junk Drawer, of course!

Here are the guys who were there on the way up and the way down, but not at the pinnacle. In addition to having played for the franchise in the years bookending a World Series championship, I also made the requirement that they may not have won a World Series with the franchise in question in a different year, though winning one with a different club is acceptable. That's why you'll see a World Series MVP on this list, but no Adam Wainwright.

NameYears With Team
Doc Marshall1904, 1906 NYG
Walt Tragesser1913, 1915-19 BSN
Walter Mueller1922-24, 1926 PIT
George Puccinelli1930, 1932 STL
Dixie Walker*1931, 1933-36 NYY
Charlie Wilson1932-33, 1935 STL
Red Phillips1934, 1936 DET
Mike Chartak1940, 1942 NYY
Ed Levy1942, 1944 NYY
Rufe Gentry1943-44, 1946-48 DET
Johnny Gorsica1940-44, 1946-47 DET
Pinky Higgins1939-44, 1946 DET
Dick Wakefield1941, 1943-44, 1946-49 DET
Bud Souchock1946, 1948 NYY
Bob Darnell1954, 1956 BRO
Dick Williams1951-54, 1956 BRO
Humberto Robinson1955-56, 1958 MLN
Bob Roselli1955-56, 1958 MLN
Al Jackson1959, 1961 PIT
Joe Moeller1962, 1964, 1966-71 LAD
Bart Shirley1964, 1966, 1968 LAD
Mike Jorgensen1968, 1970-71, 1980-83 NYM
Gene Garber1969-70, 1972 PIT
Ray Knight1974, 1977-81 CIN
Oscar Gamble1976, 1979-84 NYY
Joe Beckwith1979-80, 1982-83, 1986 LAD
Manny Mota1969-80, 1982 LAD
Floyd Rayford1980, 1982, 1984-87 BAL
Clint Hurdle1983, 1985, 1987 NYM
Mariano Duncan1985-87, 1989 LAD
Mike Bielecki1991-92, 1994, 1996-97 ATL
Terry Pendleton1991-94, 1996 ATL
Mike Stanley1992-95, 1997 NYY
Chris Hammond1993-96, 1998 FLA
Andy Larkin1996, 1998 FLA
Matt Mantei1995-96, 1998-99 FLA
Danny Klassen1998-2000, 2002 ARI
Todd Stottlemyre1999-2000, 2002 ARI
Bart Miadich2001, 2003 ANA
Abraham Nunez2002, 2004 FLA
Sandy Alomar2001-04, 2006 CHW
Craig Hansen2005-06, 2008 BOS
David Pauley2006, 2008 BOS
Chad Moeller2008, 2010 NYY
Bryan Anderson2010, 2012 STL
Steven Hill2010, 2012 STL
Eric Surkamp2011, 2013 SFG
Nick Noonan*2013, 2015 SFG
Zac Rosscup*2013-15, 2017 CHC

Nick Noonan and Zac Rosscup are still active, so it's theoretically possible that they could win a World Series with their respective franchises. I didn't look into the 2017 Astros, since you really can't determine whether someone belongs on this list until a team is no longer defending its title.

The only other asterisked player is Dixie Walker, who missed out on the 1932 Yankees' season. I put him on this list despite the fact that he briefly played with the 1936 champions, because they got rid of him early in the season, and I doubt he got a share of the World Series money.

It's true that some of these guys were in the dugout when their teams won, either as coaches or injured players, but not getting to participate in any game itself during the season has to sting just a little.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Pythagorean Pennant

The game isn't played on paper. This we all know. But that doesn't stop us from asking whether the results we see were the ones we should have expected.

One concept that has gained popularity over the years in advanced sports analysis is the concept of Pythagorean Won-Lost Record. For those unfamiliar, Pythagorean Won-Lost Record uses a formula to determine the number of wins and losses a team should be expected to have based on the number of runs scored versus runs allowed. Few teams play precisely to their Pythagorean expectations, but most fall within three games of it. There are always, however, teams that wildly exceed or fall short of their expectations, and in a pennant race, those games can be the difference between a trip to the World Series and an early winter break.

Before the divisional play era, only one team from each league made it to the postseason. Based on Pythagorean W-L, how often did we see the World Series matchup that should've been expected? The chart below shows who won the Pythagorean pennant each year during that era. Teams marked with red are different than the actual winners, and boxes marked with blue are ones where tiebreakers would've had to be played to determine the winner.

1903Pittsburg Pirates (86-54)Boston Americans (90-48)
1905New York Giants (105-48)Chicago White Sox (97-55)
1906Chicago Cubs (115-37)Cleveland Naps (98-55)
1907Chicago Cubs (102-50)Detroit Tigers (93-57)
1908New York Giants (101-53)Cleveland Naps (92-62)
1909Chicago Cubs (109-44)Philadelphia Athletics (102-51)
1910Chicago Cubs (101-53)Philadelphia Athletics (103-47)
1911New York Giants (99-54)Philadelphia Athletics (99-52)
1912New York Giants (100-51)Boston Red Sox (102-50)
1913New York Giants (95-57)Philadelphia Athletics (97-56)
1914Boston Braves (89-64)Philadelphia Athletics (99-53)
1915Philadelphia Phillies (92-60)Chicago White Sox (100-54)
1916Brooklyn Robins (92-62)Chicago White Sox (90-64)
1917New York Giants (100-54)Chicago White Sox (101-53)
1918Chicago Cubs (83-46)Boston Red Sox (76-50)
1919Cincinnati Reds (92-48)Chicago White Sox (84-56)
1920Brooklyn Robins/New York Giants (93-61)Cleveland Indians/New York Yankees (97-57)
1921New York Giants (95-58)New York Yankees (96-57)
1922New York Giants (95-59)St. Louis Browns (98-56)
1923New York Giants (92-61)New York Yankees (95-57)
1924New York Giants (96-57)Washington Senators (92-62)
1925Pittsburgh Pirates (93-60)Washington Senators (90-61)
1926St. Louis Cardinals (90-64)Cleveland Indians (90-64)
1927Pittsburgh Pirates (92-62)New York Yankees (109-45)
1928St. Louis Cardinals (94-60)Philadelphia Athletics (97-56)
1929Chicago Cubs (94-58)Philadelphia Athletics (100-50)
1930St. Louis Cardinals (94-60)Washington Senators (95-59)
1931St. Louis Cardinals (97-57)New York Yankees (100-53)
1932Chicago Cubs (86-68)New York Yankees (99-55)
1933Chicago Cubs/New York Giants Washington Senators (93-59)
1934New York Giants (95-58)Detroit Tigers (98-56)
1935Chicago Cubs (101-53)Detroit Tigers (97-54)
1936Chicago Cubs (93-61)New York Yankees (102-51)
1937Chicago Cubs/New York Giants New York Yankees (103-51)
1938Chicago Cubs (88-64)New York Yankees (97-55)
1939Cincinnati Reds (95-59)New York Yankees (111-40)
1940Cincinnati Reds (96-57)Detroit Tigers (92-62)
1941Brooklyn Dodgers (99-55)New York Yankees (96-58)
1942St. Louis Cardinals (107-47)New York Yankees (107-47)
1943St. Louis Cardinals (101-53)New York Yankees (92-62)
1944St. Louis Cardinals (107-47)St. Louis Browns (88-66)
1945Chicago Cubs (99-55)NYY/DET/WSH/SLB
1946St. Louis Cardinals (97-59)Boston Red Sox (97-57)
1947St. Louis Cardinals (91-63)New York Yankees (100-54)
1948Boston Braves (93-60)Cleveland Indians (104-51)
1949Brooklyn Dodgers (98-56)Boston Red Sox (97-57)
1950Brooklyn Dodgers (88-66)New York Yankees (96-58)
1951Brooklyn Dodgers (96-61)New York Yankees (94-60)
1952Brooklyn Dodgers (94-59)New York Yankees (95-59)
1953Brooklyn Dodgers (99-55)New York Yankees (101-50)
1954New York Giants (97-57)Cleveland Indians (104-50)
1955Brooklyn Dodgers (95-58)New York Yankees (97-57)
1956Milwaukee Braves (92-62)New York Yankees (98-56)
1957Milwaukee Braves (93-61)New York Yankees (98-56)
1958Milwaukee Braves (92-62)New York Yankees (96-58)
1959Milwaukee Braves (89-67)Cleveland Indians (87-67)
1960Pittsburgh Pirates (92-62)Chicago White Sox (90-64)
1961San Francisco Giants (89-65)New York Yankees (103-59)
1962San Francisco Giants (100-65)New York Yankees (94-68)
1963St. Louis Cardinals (94-68)New York Yankees (100-61)
1964Cincinnati Reds (92-70)Chicago White Sox (99-63)
1965Cincinnati Reds (93-69)Minnesota Twins (100-62)
1966Los Angeles Dodgers (97-65)Baltimore Orioles (96-64)
1967St. Louis Cardinals (97-64)Boston Red Sox (93-69)
1968St. Louis Cardinals (96-66)Detroit Tigers (103-59)

It's heartening to see that most years the "correct" team wins.There are some long stretches here of black ink.

It's interesting to note that based on this data, several historical teams could be considered overrated or underrated. Connie Mack's Athletics from the "$100,000 Infield" era should've won five of six pennants, rather than the mere four of five they actually won. Their American League successors should've been the Chicago White Sox, if only they hadn't underperformed. The Red Sox of that era would've been the exceptions to two dynasties, rather than one of their own.

Cleveland could've had an additional four American League pennants in their history had their on-field play matched the on-paper expectations. Napoleon Lajoie wouldn't have gone down in history as one of the best players never to reach the postseason, with two World Series appearances during his time leading the "Naps."

The powerhouse Athletics from 1929-31 would've won only one pennant during that span, but they would've had an additional one in 1928, perhaps giving Ty Cobb a World Series title in his final season.

The National League also sees some teams look more dynastic than reality proved them to be. The Cubs might've  potentially won an astounding six pennants in seven years between 1932 and 1938. Those Cubs always came up short in the World Series, but history should remember them much more favorably than it does.

The Brooklyn Dodgers stole the 1947 pennant from their rivals in St. Louis in Jackie Robinson's debut season, but it appears that they, not the Yankees, should've won five straight pennants between 1949 and 1953. While the Red Sox should've captured the 1949 AL flag, we would've had a Yankees-Dodgers matchup four straight seasons to start the 1950s.

And how about those Milwaukee Braves? That immensely talented club should've won four in a row during the 1956-59 seasons, not just the two they did.

The Koufax-era Dodgers also appear to be overrated, winning pennants only in 1955, when he was a benchwarming rookie, and 1966, when he pitched his arm off in his final season. The Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants are the great forgotten teams of the '60s.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Interregnum Players

Not every player gets to be a part of the championship teams. Some lucky (or unlucky) few do, however, get to join the roster in the aftermath of a championship and skip out just before the next one. In so doing, they become icons of the years in between.

The term I have coined for such a man is an "Interregnum Player." What are the exact criteria?

1. He must not have played for the franchise in question the season they won a World Series (though I do make a slight exception for one player).

2. He must have played for the franchise in question in at least 80% of the seasons between two championships. The Eighty-Percenters are marked with an asterisk below.

Here's the full list, in alphabetical order:

NameYears With Team
Mike Adamson1967-1969 BAL
Doug Baker1988-1990 MIN
Dave Berg*1998-2001 FLA
Michael Bowden2008-2012 BOS
Greg Brock*1982-1986 LAD
Gino Cimoli1956-1958 BRO/LAD
Donn Clendenon*1961-1968 PIT
Wilbur Cooper*1912-1924 PIT
Vic Darensbourg1998-2002 FLA
Ryan Dempster1998-2002 FLA
Larry Doyle*1907-16, 1918-1920 NYG
Bill Drescher1944-1946 NYY
Jim Dwyer1988-1990 MIN
Art Fletcher*1909-1920 NYG
Fred Frankhouse1927-1930 STL
Jason Giambi*2002-2008 NYY
Rick Honeycutt*1983-1987 LAD
Randy Jackson1956-1958 BRO/LAD
Freddie Lindstrom*1924-1932 NYG
Jed Lowrie*2008-2011 BOS
Ryan Ludwick2007-2010 STL
Don Mattingly*1982-1995 NYY
Al McBean*1961-68, 1970 PIT
Bill McGee1935-1941 STL
Kevin Millar1998-2002 FLA
Johnny Mize*1936-1941 STL
John Moses1988-1990 MIN
Manny Mota*1969-1980 LAD
Mike Mussina2001-2008 NYY
Steve Roser1944-1946 NYY
Brendan Ryan2007-2010 STL
Jesus Sanchez*1998-2001 FLA
Roy Sherid1929-1931 NYY
Ted Simmons*1968-1980 STL
Mario Soto*1977-1988 CIN
Don Sutton1966-1980 LAD
Russ Van Atta1933-1935 NYY
Preston Wilson1998-2002 FLA

Some of you are now rightfully pointing out that Don Sutton rejoined the Dodgers for the 1988 season, when they won the World Series, so he technically shouldn't qualify for this list based on the original criteria. However, I decided to make an exception for him, because A. there was a significant gap between his rejoining the Dodgers and his original stint, B. he was released before the end of the 1988 season and didn't get to participate in the World Series, and C. how often do you get a chance to include a guy who fits a 15-year championship gap so precisely? He had to be in here. He might be the most perfect example of the Interregnum Player if not for that technicality.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

2018 Predictions

The 2018 season is upon us, and that means it's time to make some predictions. If you recall, last year I predicted a World Series matchup between Los Angeles and Houston, so clearly Baseball Junk Drawer is the place to be if you want the dope. What do I predict for 2018? Let's dive in!


Los Angeles
San Francisco*
San Diego


St. Louis


New York


Los Angeles*


Kansas City


New York
Tampa Bay



San Francisco over Chicago
Boston over Los Angeles


Washington over Milwaukee
Los Angeles over San Francisco
Boston over Houston
New York over Cleveland


Los Angeles over Washington
New York over Boston


Los Angeles over New York

As you can see, I predict this season to have a pretty boring outcome. Milwaukee is the only "surprise" team I went with, and the only real postseason surprise is Washington finally getting past the first round. But take heart: I'm sure a few games will be fun to watch. Let's hope I'm not as accurate as I was last year!