Tuesday, August 31, 2010

PTWSW #64: The 1967 St. Louis Cardinals

Manager: Red Schoendienst
Record: 101-60
Ballpark: Busch Memorial Stadium
Owner: August Busch Jr.
GM: Stan Musial
Coaches: Bob Milliken, Billy Muffett, Joe Schultz, Dick Sisler

Future Hall of Famers: Lou Brock, Steve Carlton, Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson

All-Stars: Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda, Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Curt Flood, .335
OBP: Orlando Cepeda, .399
SLG: Orlando Cepeda, .524
OPS: Orlando Cepeda, .923
2B: Orlando Cepeda, 37
3B: Lou Brock, 12
HR: Orlando Cepeda, 25
RBI: Orlando Cepeda, 111 (NL leader)
BB: Orlando Cepeda, 62
SB: Lou Brock, 52 (NL leader)

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Dick Hughes, 16
SO: Steve Carlton, 168
ERA: Dick Hughes, 2.67
IP: Dick Hughes, 222.1
CG: Dick Hughes, 12
SHO: Dick Hughes, 3
K/BB: Bob Gibson, 3.68
SV: Joe Hoerner, 15

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Eddie Bressoud (b. May 2, 1932)

Youngest Player: Mike Torrez (b. August 28, 1946)

First to Leave Us: Ron Willis (d. November 21, 1977). Willis was only 34 years old when he died of a brain tumor.

Last Survivor: Most are still living as of the date of this post.

First in Majors: Eddie Bressoud (debut June 14, 1956)

Last in Majors: Steve Carlton (final game April 23, 1988)

First to Play For the Franchise: Curt Flood (May 2, 1958)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Lou Brock (September 30, 1979)

Pre-union Team: Most of these guys were homegrown, so no team had more than two.

Reunion Team: The 1969 Reds had four: Al Jackson, Alex Johnson, Ted Savage and Bobby Tolan. Cincinnati GM Bob Howsam had been the Cardinals' GM from late 1964 to 1966, and all four of these guys had played for St. Louis during his tenure. Several others had three, including the 1970 Padres, 1972 Braves, 1972 Phillies, 1974 Royals and 1975-77 Phillies.

Accomplishments

Orlando Cepeda, NL MVP
Bob Gibson, NL Pitcher Gold Glove
Curt Flood, NL Outfield Gold Glove

Season Summary

The Cardinals finished around .500 in 1966 with a poor offensive club and a great pitching staff. For 1967 they made surprisingly few changes; their biggest offseason move was trading third baseman Charley Smith to the Yankees for right fielder Roger Maris. To accommodate the move, young right fielder Mike Shannon agreed to learn third base. Tim McCarver, Curt Flood, Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda and Julian Javier all posted the highest or second-highest OPS+ marks of their careers, and this group peaking was a big factor in St. Louis' improvement. The pitching staff was aided by the additions of youngster Steve Carlton and minor league veteran Dick Hughes, who proved to be their most valuable hurler over the course of the season.

The Cards went from the second-worst team OPS+ in '66 to a first-place tie in '67. Overall, St. Louis was very well-balanced offensively: They were second in each of the slash stats, first in stolen bases, and around league-average in homers. They drew the most hit-by-pitches, grounded into the fewest double plays and were last in sacrifice bunts. The pitching staff didn't rank quite as high as it did the year before, but it was still an area of strength. They were fourth in ERA+, third in walk rate and had an above-average strikeout rate. Their fielders were third in both DER and TotalZone, which provided Redbird pitchers with an extra cushion.

Busch's birds were in the thick of things for the entire first half, and in late July they really took over. Between July 23 and August 19 they went 22-5 to open up a double-digit lead they'd hold onto for the rest of the year. By September 18 they'd punched their ticket to the World Series, for which their opponent would end up being the Boston Red Sox.

Game 1 was a pitcher's duel won by Cardinal ace Bob Gibson, but the Red Sox tied it with a one-hit shutout from Jim Lonborg in Game 2. The Cardinals won the next two back home, with Game 4 a shutout from Gibson. The Red Sox bounced back in Game 5 with their hero Lonborg pitching a three-hitter, then won Game 6 with a four-run seventh inning that snapped a 4-4 tie. Both teams banked on their aces for Game 7, though Gibson had an extra day of rest. That extra day paid off; Lonborg was pulled after allowing six earned runs in six innings, while Gibson notched his third complete-game victory of the Series and his second World Series MVP award.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Friday, August 27, 2010

PTWSW #63: The 1966 Baltimore Orioles

Manager: Hank Bauer
Record: 97-63
Ballpark: Memorial Stadium
Owner: Jerry Hoffberger
GM: Harry Dalton
Coaches: Harry Brecheen, Billy Hunter, Sherm Lollar, Gene Woodling

Future Hall of Famers: Luis Aparicio, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson

All-Stars: Steve Barber, Andy Etchebarren, Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Frank Robinson, .316 (AL leader)
OBP: Frank Robinson, .410 (AL leader)
SLG: Frank Robinson, .637 (AL leader)
OPS: Frank Robinson, 1.047 (AL leader)
2B: Brooks Robinson, 35
3B: Luis Aparicio, 8
HR: Frank Robinson, 49 (AL leader)
RBI: Frank Robinson, 122 (AL leader)
BB: Frank Robinson, 87
SB: Luis Aparicio, 25

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Jim Palmer, 15
SO: Dave McNally, 158
ERA: Dave McNally, 3.17
IP: Dave McNally, 213
CG: Jim Palmer, 6
SHO: Steve Barber, 3
K/BB: Dave McNally, 2.47
SV: Stu Miller, 18

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Stu Miller (b. December 26, 1927)

Youngest Player: Jim Palmer (b. October 15, 1945)

First to Leave Us: Charlie Lau (d. March 18, 1984)

Last Survivor: Most are still living as of the date of this post.

First in Majors: Dick Hall (debut April 15, 1952)

Last in Majors: Jim Palmer (final game May 12, 1984)

First to Play For the Franchise: Brooks Robinson (September 17, 1955)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Jim Palmer (May 12, 1984)

Pre-union Team: The 1960 Athletics (Dick Hall, Bob Johnson, Russ Snyder) and 1962 White Sox (Luis Aparicio, Cam Carreon, Eddie Fisher) each had three. The Athletic players were teammates of Hank Bauer at the end of his playing career, but all three were acquired before Bauer became manager of the Orioles.

Reunion Team: Several teams had three of these guys: the 1968-69 Senators (Frank Bertaina, Sam Bowens, Mike Epstein), 1968 White Sox (Luis Aparicio, Woodie Held, Russ Snyder), 1969 Pilots (Steve Barber, Gene Brabender, Larry Haney), 1969-70 Royals (Jerry Adair, Wally Bunker, Moe Drabowsky), 1972 Athletics (Curt Blefary, Mike Epstein, Larry Haney) and 1973 Angels (Steve Barber, Mike Epstein, Frank Robinson). Some connections are apparent here: Oriole GM Harry Dalton served as Angel GM in 1973, and Oriole farm director Lou Gorman held the same position for the Royals in their formative years.

Accomplishments

Frank Robinson, Triple Crown
Frank Robinson, AL MVP
Brooks Robinson, AL Third Base Gold Glove
Luis Aparicio, AL Shortstop Gold Glove

Season Summary

For years the Orioles had been a team with great pitching and average offense. In December 1965, new Oriole GM Harry Dalton decided to shift the balance a bit. Dalton traded All-Star pitcher Milt Pappas and two spare pieces to the Reds for veteran slugger Frank Robinson, whom Reds president Bill DeWitt claimed was "not a young 30." In his first season as an Oriole, Robinson turned out to be the story of the year; he homered in his first game with Baltimore and never looked back, winning the Triple Crown and MVP award. Robinson's superlative batwork boosted the Oriole offense to first in OPS+, runs per game and each of the slash stats, and they were a close second in home runs. It was a good thing they scored so often, because their pitching staff was just average. They posted a 102 ERA+, and despite a high team strikeout rate, several starters struggled with walks. By most measures, their team defense was middle-of-the-pack.

If it hadn't been for the hot-starting Indians, the Orioles might've nearly led wire-to-wire. Though they finished at .500, the Indians began the season on a 14-1 run and even held a 4.5-game lead in late May. The Cleveland cooloff process began in June, and the Orioles seized the opportunity to run away with the AL race. They were never out of first after June 7, and at one point their lead was 13.5 games. By season's end they were nine games ahead of the defending league champion Twins.

The Orioles' World Series opponent was another defending champion: the Los Angeles Dodgers, who'd taken the title the previous year. L.A. was the opposite of Baltimore: they weren't a great offensive club, but their pitching was outstanding, led by the great Sandy Koufax. Game 1 matched up the Orioles' Dave McNally with the Dodgers' Don Drysdale. The Orioles proved they weren't intimidated by Dodger pitching right out of the gate by scoring three runs in the top of the first. McNally was pulled in the bottom of the third after walking the bases loaded, and Jim Gilliam walked in the Dodgers' second run of the game against reliever Moe Drabowsky. Unbeknownst to the Dodgers, it would be their last run of the Series. Drabowsky pitched 6.2 scoreless innings in relief to complete the game, striking out 11 Dodgers as his team won 5-2. Game 2 was a matchup of young Jim Palmer vs. Koufax, and the future star outdueled the established one, pitching a four-hit shutout in game marred by six Dodger errors. Game 3 saw another young Oriole pitch a shutout; this time it was Wally Bunker, who won 1-0 backed by Paul Blair's solo homer. The Orioles completed the sweep in Game 4 behind the same pitching matchup as Game 1. The Dodger offense remained hapless, as McNally pitched the Orioles' third shutout in a row. Another solo homer, this time off Frank Robinson's bat, proved to be the only run of the game.

For his two homers, a triple and three RBI, Robinson capped off his stellar year with the World Series MVP award. For the Orioles, it was the first World Series title in franchise history, leaving the Phillies as the only member of the "Original 16" not yet to win one.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Saturday, August 21, 2010

PTWSW #62: The 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers

Manager: Walter Alston
Record: 97-65
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Owner: Walter O'Malley
GM: Buzzie Bavasi
Coaches: Carroll Beringer, Jim Gilliam, Preston Gomez, Danny Ozark, Lefty Phillips

Future Hall of Famers: Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax

All-Stars: Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Maury Wills, .286
OBP: Jim Gilliam, .374
SLG: Lou Johnson, .391
OPS: Jim Gilliam, .758
2B: Ron Fairly, 28
3B: Wes Parker, Maury Wills, 7
HR: Lou Johnson, Jim Lefebvre, 12
RBI: Ron Fairly, 70
BB: Ron Fairly, 76
SB: Maury Wills, 94 (NL leader)

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Sandy Koufax, 26 (NL leader)
SO: Sandy Koufax, 382 (NL leader)
ERA: Sandy Koufax, 2.04 (NL leader)
IP: Sandy Koufax, 335.2 (NL leader)
CG: Sandy Koufax, 27 (NL leader)
SHO: Sandy Koufax, 8
K/BB: Sandy Koufax, 5.38 (NL leader)
SV: Ron Perranoski, 17

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Jim Gilliam (b. October 17, 1928)

Youngest Player: Willie Crawford (b. September 7, 1946)

First to Leave Us: Jim Gilliam (d. October 8, 1978)

Last Survivor: Most are still living as of the date of this post.

First in Majors: Jim Gilliam (debut April 14, 1953)

Last in Majors: Willie Davis (final game September 30, 1979)

First to Play For the Franchise: Jim Gilliam (April 14, 1953)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Willie Crawford (September 27, 1975)

Pre-union Team: Several teams had two of these guys, none more.

Reunion Team: The 1968-69 Twins (Bob Miller, Ron Perranoski, Johnny Roseboro), 1969 Expos (Ron Fairly, Howie Reed, Maury Wills) and 1973 Angels (Ron Perranoski, Bill Singer, Jeff Torborg) had three each.

Accomplishments

Sandy Koufax, Cy Young Award
Jim Lefebvre, NL Rookie of the Year
Sandy Koufax, NL Pitching Triple Crown
Sandy Koufax, perfect game on September 9
Sandy Koufax, 382 strikeouts, new Major League record

Season Summary

After a disappointing 1964, the Dodgers committed themselves to a run prevention philosophy. They traded their heaviest hitter, the poor-fielding Frank Howard, to the Senators as part of a package that brought them infielder John Kennedy and pitcher Claude Osteen. Dodger third basemen had combined for a .905 fielding percentage in 1964, and longtime franchise stalwart Jim Gilliam had retired to a coaching position. With Kennedy they added a more sure-handed fielder at the hot corner, and with Osteen they added depth to a rotation that was thin after their two aces, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Young defensive whiz Wes Parker took over first base full time, and the keystone was boosted by star rookie Jim Lefebvre. Only one of the moves didn't work out as planned: Kennedy's hitting was so poor that Gilliam rejoined the active roster at the end of May, making Kennedy his regular late-inning replacement. Overall, their defensive upgrade was successful: the Dodgers' TotalZone and Defensive Efficiency ratings both topped the NL.

Playing in a pitcher's park during a low-scoring era, the Dodgers' 78 home runs were last in the NL by far. The only slash stat in which they were above-average was OBP, and that only barely. The Dodger offense was built on smallball: they led the league in stolen bases, sacrifice bunts and hit-by-pitches. The pitching staff, led by Koufax and his record-setting 382 K's, had the second-best ERA+ thanks to strong strikeout and walk rates and (of course) the NL's best defense behind them.

The pennant race was close all year. The Dodgers led for most of the first half, but their lead was never more than five games. In early September the Dodgers held a slim lead over the Giants, then fell behind when San Francisco went on a tear. On September 16 the Giants' won their 14th in a row, and the Dodgers, 4.5 games behind, began a tear of their own. The Bums proceeded to win 13 in a row while the Giants cooled off, and in the end L.A. edged out San Fran by just two games.

Over in the American League the Twins had spent the entire second half in first place, most of it with a comfortable lead. Unlike the Dodgers, they were a strong offensive club, and they proved it by winning the first two World Series games by margins of six and four over the Dodger aces. When the Series moved to L.A. the Dodgers returned the favor; they won each game by no margin less than four. In Game 6 the trend continued, as the Twins tied things up with a 5-1 victory. If only one game in the Series could be tight from start to finish, it's good that it was Game 7. Koufax came back on two days' rest to pitch a three-hit shutout while striking out ten. It was Koufax's second 10-K shutout in four days, and those heroics earned him his second World Series MVP award.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Friday, August 13, 2010

PTWSW #61: The 1964 St. Louis Cardinals

Manager: Johnny Keane
Record: 93-69
Ballpark: Busch Stadium
Owner: August Busch Jr.
GM: Bing Devine (1), Bob Howsam (2)
Coaches: Vern Benson, Howie Pollet, Red Schoendienst, Joe Schultz

Future Hall of Famers: Lou Brock, Bob Gibson

All-Stars: Ken Boyer, Curt Flood, Dick Groat, Bill White

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Lou Brock, .348
OBP: Lou Brock, .387
SLG: Lou Brock, .527
OPS: Lou Brock, .915
2B: Bill White, 37
3B: Ken Boyer, 10
HR: Ken Boyer, 24
RBI: Ken Boyer, 119 (NL leader)
BB: Ken Boyer, 70
SB: Lou Brock, 33

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Ray Sadecki, 20
SO: Bob Gibson, 245
ERA: Bob Gibson, 3.01
IP: Bob Gibson, 287.1
CG: Bob Gibson, 17
SHO: Curt Simmons, 3
K/BB: Bob Gibson, 2.85
SV: Barney Schultz, 14

Tidbits

Oldest Player:
Bobby Shantz (b. September 26, 1925)

Youngest Player: Dave Bakenhaster (b. March 5, 1945)

First to Leave Us: Ken Boyer (d. September 7, 1982)

Last Survivor: As of the date of this post, all but four (Boyer, Curt Flood, Lew Burdette, Mike Cuellar) are still living.

First in Majors: Curt Simmons (debut September 28, 1947)

Last in Majors: Tim McCarver (final game October 5, 1980)

First to Play For the Franchise: Ken Boyer and Barney Schultz both played their first games in Cardinal red on April 12, 1955.

Last to Play For the Franchise: Lou Brock (September 30, 1979)

Pre-union Team: The 1961-63 Cubs (Lou Brock, Glen Hobbie, Barney Schultz) and 1961 Pirates (Dick Groat, Bobby Shantz, Bob Skinner) had three.

Reunion Team: The 1966 Phillies had five: Doug Clemens, Roger Craig, Dick Groat, Bob Uecker and Bill White.

Accomplishments

Ken Boyer, NL MVP
Ken Boyer, cycle on June 16
Bobby Shantz, NL Pitcher Gold Glove
Bill White, NL First Base Gold Glove
Curt Flood, NL Outfield Gold Glove

Season Summary

The Cardinals had shown promise at the end of the 1963 season. They'd gone on a 19-1 run from late August to September to pull within one game of the Dodgers, then tailed off after that for a solid second-place finish. Many writers saw the 1964 Cards as a possible pennant winner thanks to their deep control-oriented pitching staff, tight defense and an infield of four men who'd started the All-Star Game the previous year. Their outfield wasn't an area of strength after the retirement of Stan Musial and the trade of George Altman, but the Cardinals played well for the first month with decent starts from replacements Charlie James and Johnny Lewis. Late May was when the struggles began: James and Lewis regressed, and by the middle of June the Redbirds had a losing record.

On June 15 the Cardinals made a trade that would impact the franchise for years to come: pitcher Ernie Broglio and some spare parts were sent to the Cubs in exchange for young outfielder Lou Brock and some other spare parts. Brock quickly solved their left field problem by hitting .348 after joining St. Louis. The Cards went through several right fielders before calling up Mike Shannon after the All-Star Break. Shannon's addition to the starting lineup coincided with more Cardinal wins, and after July 24 they were never below .500. Despite picking up the pace, they were still far behind in the pennant race. On August 17, with the Cardinals in fifth place (nine out of first), general manager Bing Devine received his pink slip. Rumors swirled that manager Johnny Keane also would be let go after the season ended.

Just like in 1963, the Cardinals saved their best play for the stretch run; they continued their winning ways and made it all the way up to second place. It seemed like too little too late though, as they were 6.5 games behind the Phillies (and tied with the Reds) on September 20. Suddenly, things got dramatic. The Reds swept the Phillies in a three-game series (the middle of a nine-game winning streak) while the Cardinals won nine of ten, the last three being another Philly series sweep. All told, the Phillies lost ten in a row during their collapse. That St. Louis sweep put the Cards atop the standings for the first time all year, and they held on to win the pennant with a victory over the Mets on the last day of the season. Cincinnati and Philadelphia finished in a second-place tie, just one game back.

Playing in the World Series for the first time in 18 years, the Cardinals were set to do battle with the New York Yankees. The Cards beat Whitey Ford at home in Game 1, but Yankee rookie Mel Stottlemyre outdueled Cardinal ace Bob Gibson in Game 2. Mickey Mantle's walkoff homer won Game 3 for New York, while Ken Boyer's grand slam proved the winning blow for St. Louis in Game 4. Gibson returned for Game 5, and he nearly pitched a shutout before Tom Tresh tied it on a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth. Tim McCarver bailed him out with a three-run shot in the tenth to give St. Louis a 3-2 Series lead, though the Yankees would knot things up in Game 6. Gibson came back on two days' rest for the deciding game. He allowed five runs in the nine innings, but his offense scored seven, giving him a second win and the Cardinals a World Series title. Gibson was named MVP for his two complete game victories and a record 31 strikeouts.

Manager Johnny Keane resigned a day after the World Series ended due to tensions with the front office. Coach Red Schoendienst was named as his replacement, while Keane took over the team he'd just defeated: the Yankees.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

PTWSW #60: The 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers

Manager: Walter Alston
Record: 99-63
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Owner: Walter O'Malley
GM: Buzzie Bavasi
Coaches: Joe Becker, Carroll Beringer, Leo Durocher, Greg Mulleavy, Pete Reiser

Future Hall of Famers: Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax

All-Stars: Tommy Davis, Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Tommy Davis, .326 (NL leader)
OBP: Tommy Davis, .359
SLG: Frank Howard, .518
OPS: Frank Howard, .848
2B: Jim Gilliam, 27
3B: Willie Davis, 8
HR: Frank Howard, 28
RBI: Tommy Davis, 88
BB: Jim Gilliam, 60
SB: Maury Wills, 40 (NL leader)

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Sandy Koufax, 25 (NL leader)
SO: Sandy Koufax, 306 (NL leader)
ERA: Sandy Koufax, 1.88 (NL leader)
IP: Don Drysdale, 315.1
CG: Sandy Koufax, 20
SHO: Sandy Koufax, 11 (NL leader)
K/BB: Sandy Koufax, 5.28 (NL leader)
SV: Ron Perranoski, 21

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Daryl Spencer (b. July 13, 1928). Spencer was released in May, making Jim Gilliam (b. October 17, 1928) the Dodgers' oldest player for most of the season.

Youngest Player: Dick Calmus (b. January 7, 1944)

First to Leave Us: Jim Gilliam (d. October 8, 1978)

Last Survivor: Most are still living as of the date of this post.

First in Majors: Lee Walls (debut April 21, 1952)

Last in Majors: Willie Davis (final game September 30, 1979)

First to Play For the Franchise: Jim Gilliam (April 14, 1953)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Ken McMullen (September 28, 1975)

Pre-union Team: No team had more than two. The 1960's Dodger farm system was so deep that they didn't have much need to get their players elsewhere.

Reunion Team: The 1965 Washington Senators with eight: Doug Camilli, Frank Howard, Ken McMullen, Dick Nen, Phil Ortega, Pete Richert, Nick Willhite and Don Zimmer. Senators manager and former Dodger Gil Hodges must've been heavily involved with player acquisitions, because those two teams did a lot of dealing between 1963 and 1965.

Accomplishments

Sandy Koufax, NL MVP
Sandy Koufax, Cy Young Award
Sandy Koufax, NL Pitching Triple Crown
Sandy Koufax, no-hitter on May 11

Season Summary

The Dodgers were preseason favorites for the National League pennant, and they lived up to those expectations. They were never out of first place after early July, and they finished seven games ahead of their closest opponent. The key was run prevention: Dodger Stadium was an extreme pitcher's park, and the Dodgers had two legitimate aces in Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Koufax was clearly the better ace, going 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA to capture both the Cy Young and MVP Awards. Closer Ron Perranoski was the only other star on the Dodger staff, but overall the Boys in Blue led the league in strikeout rate and had the second-best walk rate. They didn't have that great a defense behind them according to DER and TotalZone, so it was fortunate that they didn't allow too many balls in play. The Dodger offense was third in OPS+ and first in stolen bases, but they were only sixth in runs per game thanks to their ballpark. Their batters were mostly contact hitters without much power; only Tommy Davis and Frank Howard packed a punch.

The World Series matched the Dodgers up with their old New York rivals, the Yankees. Koufax started Game 1 against Whitey Ford and whiffed a World Series-record 15 Yankee batters. He also went the distance, allowing only two runs on six hits to earn the win. The Dodgers turned to veteran Johnny Podres for Game 2, and while he didn't set any records, he turned in 8.1 innings of one-run ball to earn the Dodgers' second victory of the Series and send his team back to L.A. up 2-0. Drysdale dispensed more Dodger dominance with a three-hit shutout in Game 3, and Koufax helped them complete the sweep by outdueling Ford again in Game 4. For his two complete-game victories and 1.50 ERA, Koufax was named the World Series MVP. Altogether, the Dodger staff allowed only four runs, five walks and 22 hits in the four games, while striking out 37 batters.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ranking the Uniforms of 2010

I realize it's been a while since I've posted something other than a World Series winner profile, so I thought I'd give my readers a change of scenery. While baseball has an endless number of reasons to love it, the variety of uniforms has always been one of my favorites. Since I have this thing for quantifying my appreciation of stuff, I thought I'd rank each team in Major League Baseball by the picturesqueness of their threads. I'll mainly be considering the subjective strength of the main home and road uniforms, with alternates factored in to a lesser degree. There are also links to pictures, in case you want to see for yourself what I'm talking about.

30. Toronto Blue Jays. I feel sorry for our Canadian friends. Back in the day the Blue Jays had some of the best uniforms in baseball; these days they wear stuff that looks like it was spit out by a machine. On the bright side, they still have a powder blue old-style uni as an alternate. Despite my aversion to that color, I wish they'd wear it every day. It'd be an improvement.

29. San Diego Padres. I always liked the Padre uniforms from the '90s, though I get the impression that a lot of people hated them. I suppose the home unis might've been a little on the "busy" side, with the pinstripes and shadowed letters, but the ones they have now go too far in the other direction. Sorry guys, making your uniform as boring as possible usually isn't a good idea. In their defense, the navy alternate doesn't look bad.

28. Washington Nationals. I hate that blocky lettering. I'm glad they ditched it in favor of script for the road uni. The alternates are awful.

27. New York Mets. So lemme get this straight...the solid white is their main home uni now, and the only one with pinstripes is the retro alt? What a bummer. The "classic" Mets look was their best. Nowadays there's too much black, which doesn't seem...Met-like, I guess? The road gray retains some of the classic style, but it's marred by a black hat.

26. Houston Astros. I guess it's not terrible, but I've never been a fan of the Astros' current design. Houston has never seemed like a "pinstripe" team to me, and there are too many alternate combinations. The best thing I can say is that the reddish-brown jerseys look decent.

25. Minnesota Twins. I do like the retro look they've adopted for the road gray and one of the alts this year. The home uniform isn't too different from before; a thicker border to the lettering is the only noticeable change. I can't explain why, but that minor tweak seems to give it a little less personality.

24. Texas Rangers. These uniforms wear Texas pride on their sleeves...literally. My favorite part is that Texan flag on the left arm. The rest doesn't do much for me. The overall configuration of colors is weird, and the numbering and lettering font is so ornate that it clashes with the rugged team name. I'm glad blue is the primary color rather than red, since blue is more pleasing to my eyes. They have both solid blue and solid red alternates, and the blue one is definitely the superior of the two.

23. New York Yankees. I'm sure some of you want to yell about how I don't respect history, tradition, pinstripes, blah, blah, blah. Look, obviously I love baseball history, since it's the main focus of my blog, and my opinions tend to be pretty traditionalist. I just happen to think this is the most overrated uniform in sports. I can respect the Yankees' preservation of this classic look, but...isn't it kind of boring?

22. Arizona Diamondbacks. Well, it's a definite improvement over their garish previous design. While they're certainly distinctive, they still kind of leave me cold.

21. Cleveland Indians. I like the Indians' uniforms. I really do. They've stood the test of time, having the same basic design since Jacobs/Progressive Field opened. The reason I rank them relatively low is because not much about them stands out besides Chief Wahoo. They're solid, not spectacular.

20. Baltimore Orioles. Basic and tasteful. I like that the road uniform says "Baltimore" instead of "Orioles," since local pride is in the spirit of baseball. I'm also glad that they use orange more prominently than any other team, because the oriole is most distinctive for its orange plumage.

19. Boston Red Sox. The home uniform is great, but I don't like the dullened road gray. It's supposed to recall that ugly '80s road uni? Why exactly does anyone want to remember that? The blue road alternate isn't bad, but the red home alternate looks pretty tacky.

18. Cincinnati Reds. I'm glad they're true to their traditional design, but the black shading and fancy font make it seem like they're trying too hard. On the bright side, they're one of only two teams with a good all-red alternate (which is fortunate, considering their name).

17. Los Angeles Dodgers. Simple, sharp, and traditional. The blue and white make for a good contrast, with the red number adding some visual flavor. They don't wow you, but they're easy on the eyes.

16. Florida Marlins. The Marlins seem to be the patron saints of teal (like the Orioles with orange, the Athletics with green, the Rockies with purple, etc.). Since an actual marlin would be kind of a teal color, it does suit them best. Truthfully, Florida's home, road and alternate are all very nice. These guys have a look that's just right for them.

15. Detroit Tigers. The Olde English D is a great vintage touch. That home getup says "baseball" with an emphatic shout. The road gray is OK, just nothing special. Some of you might think my praise of the Tigers' look contradicts my previous criticism of the Yankees. All I can say is: "calligraphic lettering beats slightly-serifed lettering!"

14. Kansas City Royals. As I mentioned for the Dodgers, blue and white contrast well. I particularly like the shade of "Royal" blue that K.C. uses, which makes both the home white and the alternate road blue optically delightful. The road gray is basic but effective, while the light blue home alt looks pretty dumb.

13. San Francisco Giants. I could do without the orange alternate, but everything else is great. This look is a classic that can transport you back to the Polo Grounds (well, "back" if you've been there, while the rest of us are inspired to imagine).

12. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Congratulations, Angels. You're the other team that can pull off an all-red alternate jersey. The Angels have two alts in addition to their home white and road gray, and all four configurations look classy. That's no mean feat. Most teams with that many have at least one stinker in the bunch.

11. Tampa Bay Rays. They've been looking a lot better since they dropped the "Devil" from their name. The light blue alternate is the only one I don't care for. 2008 was a landmark year for this franchise: they got better uniforms, a better name and a better ballclub all at the same time.

10. Atlanta Braves. This team has always had some of my favorite uniforms. I wish the cap for the road gray still had a red bill, but it's all good other than that. Unfortunately, both alternates are terrible. Seriously, what were they thinking with those? At least they'll always have that masterpiece of a home white (I hope).

9. Seattle Mariners. After years of crappy designs, they've stuck with the same basic one since 1993, and for good reason. The compass rose is a nice touch. I've always liked these unis, though the alternate looks weird with that odd-font number in front.

8. Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers currently sport the best uniforms in team history. The head of wheat on the cap, the stylish lettering, the navy and gold color scheme...what can I say? Everything works.

7. Colorado Rockies. The Rockies haven't made any radical changes since their inaugural season. They've added numbers in front and made the road grays say "Colorado" instead of "Rockies," but the lettering and cap logo are still the same. Being the only team to use purple makes them unique, and it goes well with the black, though I will admit that the all-purple alternate is fairly ridiculous. The sleeveless alts are great, and they're also the only team with a pinstriped road gray since Minnesota got rid of theirs. In addition to looking snappy, those Rockies are a distinctive bunch.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates. I really like these. I wish they'd stuck with the sleeveless unis, since they conjured up memories of the 1960 Beat 'Em, Bucs (well, again...memories for those who were around back then, imaginations for the rest of us), but the sleeved ones are perfectly fine. While they still have a sleeveless alternate which doesn't look too bad, it isn't the same due to the pinstripes. The black alt is just OK.

5. Chicago Cubs. Many teams use red, white and blue, but the Cubs' hues strike the perfect balance. The blue alternate looks great, and the road gray is nondescript but functional. It's a shame most of us haven't seen these great uniforms in the World Series.

4. Oakland Athletics. The only team with green as a primary color, the A's use it well. The thing is, their design is so basic that you sometimes forget how great it really looks. I first came to this realization last month when I saw Andrew Bailey pitching in the All-Star Game and noticed how truly superb the Oakland home white was. The all-black alt is terrible, but the all-green alt is a sight to behold.

3. St. Louis Cardinals. I love the traditional look of the Cards. Those birds have been perched on that bat for a long time, and they shouldn't ever fly away. St. Louis is also the only team still rocking the striped socks, which gives them points for old-school-ness.

2. Philadelphia Phillies. These uniforms have always been among my favorites. Though their shades of red, white and blue don't look quite as nice as the Cubs' do, they make up for it with a fantastic overall design. The cursive lettering and I's dotted with stars remind me that Philly is the home of Independence Hall and was formerly our nation's capital. It's hard to beat patriotic stirring and stylishness all in one.

1. Chicago White Sox. You might think I'm biased as a Sox fan, but I honestly believe that these uniforms represent the pinnacle of baseball wear. The Sox take a lot of crap for their past uniform missteps, but they adopted their current ones at the end of the 1990 season and never regretted it. There's simply no way to improve on them: the vintage "SOX" chest logo, the white sock on the sleeves, the piping, the black alternate...it all equals perfection. It'll be a sad day if the White Sox ever start experimenting with their look again.


Acknowledgements:

You already know it if you clicked on my links, but thanks go out to Chris Creamer's Sports Logos and Dressed to the Nines for visual references.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

PTWSW #59: The 1962 New York Yankees

Manager: Ralph Houk
Record: 96-66
Ballpark: Yankee Stadium
Owner: Dan Topping & Del Webb
GM: Roy Hamey
Coaches: Frankie Crosetti, Jim Hegan, Wally Moses, Johnny Sain

Future Hall of Famers: Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle

All-Stars: Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Bobby Richardson, Ralph Terry, Tom Tresh

Team Leaders, Batting

BA:
Mickey Mantle, .321
OBP: Mickey Mantle, .486 (AL leader)
SLG: Mickey Mantle, .605 (AL leader)
OPS: Mickey Mantle, 1.091 (AL leader)
2B: Bobby Richardson, 38
3B: Bill Skowron, 6
HR: Roger Maris, 33
RBI: Roger Maris, 100
BB: Mickey Mantle, 122 (AL leader)
SB: Bobby Richardson, 11

Team Leaders, Pitching

W:
Ralph Terry, 23 (AL leader)
SO: Ralph Terry, 176
ERA: Whitey Ford, 2.90
IP: Ralph Terry, 298.2 (AL leader)
CG: Ralph Terry, 14
SHO: Ralph Terry, 3
K/BB: Ralph Terry, 3.09
SV: Marshall Bridges, 18

Tidbits

Oldest Player: Hal Brown (b. December 11, 1924)

Youngest Player: Al Downing (b. June 28, 1941)

First to Leave Us: Elston Howard (d. December 14, 1980)

Last Survivor: Most are still living as of the date of this post.

First in Majors: Yogi Berra (debut September 22, 1946)

Last in Majors: Jim Bouton (final game September 29, 1978)

First to Play For the Franchise: Yogi Berra (September 22, 1946)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Jake Gibbs (September 29, 1971)

Pre-union Team: The 1958-59 Athletics with five: Bob Cerv, Bud Daley, Hector Lopez, Roger Maris and Ralph Terry.

Reunion Team: The 1966 Athletics (Rollie Sheldon, Bill Stafford, Ralph Terry) and 1967 Mets (Phil Linz, Hal Reniff, Ralph Terry) both had three.

Accomplishments

Mickey Mantle, AL MVP
Tom Tresh, AL Rookie of the Year
Mickey Mantle, 400th career home run, September 10
Bobby Richardson, AL Second Base Gold Glove
Mickey Mantle, AL Outfield Gold Glove

Season Summary

The Yankees, per tradition, were an offense-oriented team. Their 107 OPS+ was by far the circuit's best mark, and they led the league in runs per game despite playing in a pitcher's park. They also led in batting and slugging average, while finishing second in homers and OBP. They weren't very speedy, as they were among league trailers in triples and stolen bases. Like the previous season, their pitching staff relied mostly on control and a strong defense behind them to prevent the other team from scoring.

It was another typical season in the American League: several teams were in the mix during the first half, and in the second half the Yankees took over. The Bronxers didn't dominate, as their lead was never more than 6.5 games, and the second-place Twins were still within striking distance in mid-September. Mickey Mantle won the MVP award despite missing a month with a leg injury; his .321/.486/.605 batting line and 30 homers helped him to a 7.1 WAR, best in the AL. The club also received a boost in August when shortstop Tony Kubek returned from military duty. Star rookie Tom Tresh, who'd been manning the six spot in his absence, was moved to left field for the remainder of the season. The league pennant races in 1962 recalled 1951: The Yankees won it for the AL, while the NL needed a best-of-three playoff between the Dodgers and Giants to determine its champion. The Giants won in three, just like before, and the stage was set for a World Series rematch between two former citymates.

The Giants were uncannily similar to the Yankees: they were an offense-heavy club that hit for a lot of power and didn't steal many bases, while they prevented runs with control pitching and great defense. The Yankees won Game 1 behind Whitey Ford, but the Giants tied the Series with a Game 2 shutout from Jack Sanford. The Yankees took two of three in New York, bringing them back to San Francisco only one win away from victory. Due to heavy rains in northern California, Game 6 would be delayed three times before it was finally played. When the teams finally took the field, the Giants tied the Series with a three-hitter from veteran Billy Pierce. Game 7 was a classic pitcher's duel. Ralph Terry didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning, and Sanford allowed only one run in his seven innings. The Yankees still held that 1-0 lead in the ninth when the Giants mounted their final threat. With two outs, San Fran had two runners in scoring position and Willie McCovey coming up. McCovey lined Terry's final pitch right into the glove of second baseman Bobby Richardson, and the Yankees were champs for the second year in a row.

Acknowledgements:

Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives