Friday, December 21, 2018

Who Was the Lowest Drafted Signee to Make the Majors?

Drafting in professional sports, as we all know, is an inexact science. History is littered with "can't-miss" prospects who did just that, and unheralded players who rose to stardom. The general trend, however, is in the direction of higher draft picks succeeding more often than lower ones.

The vast majority of players drafted in baseball never make it to the majors, and some choose not to play professional baseball at all. But of those late-rounders who ended up signing with the teams that drafted them, which ones actually defied the odds and made it to the big leagues?

That was the question on my mind when I compiled the following list. I went year by year to find out who the lowest drafted signee to make the majors was. There are some cases where a future major leaguer was drafted later than the player on the list, but he's disqualified because he didn't sign that year.

1965Otis ThorntonAstros68-0.2
1966Rusty TorresYankees54-0.5
1967Roger HambrightYankees670.0
1968Tim PlodinecCardinals33-0.1
1969Al CowensRoyals7515.3
1970Bake McBrideCardinals3722.7
1971Keith HernandezCardinals4260.4
1972Butch AlbertsPirates28-0.1
1973Eric RasmussenCardinals325.1
1974Bobby CuellarRangers290.2
1975LaRue WashingtonRangers23-0.2
1976Jay HowellReds3115.0
1977Neil FialaCardinals320.0
1978Vance LawPirates3910.6
1979Joel SkinnerPirates370.0
1980Walt TerrellRangers3310.7
1981Glen CookRangers24-1.2
1982Mike YorkYankees40-0.7
1983Joe KlinkMets360.6
1984Tom GillesYankees470.0
1985Rico RossyOrioles331.4
1986Doug LintonBlue Jays43-0.7
1987Jeff ConineRoyals5819.5
1988Mike PiazzaDodgers6259.6
1989Mike GarciaTigers55-0.6
1990Danny YoungAstros83-0.4
1991Charles GipsonMariners630.8
1992Anthony ChavezAngels500.4
1993Jason MaxwellCubs74-0.1
1994Jose SantiagoRoyals701.2
1995Gabe KaplerTigers578.7
1996Travis PhelpsDevil Rays890.8
1997Orlando HudsonBlue Jays4330.9
1998Scott AtchisonMariners493.5
1999Jason BottsRangers460.3
2000Anthony FerrariExpos440.0

As one quickly observes via the WAR column, most of these guys didn't have very noteworthy careers. Only eleven finished their careers with more than five wins above replacement, as many as finished with a negative value. Still, you have to hand it to these guys, proving every doubter wrong and outplaying the apparent better choices. One of them, Mike Piazza, is even in the Hall of Fame, and the WAR leader is Keith Hernandez, who has a good case of his own.

I stopped the list at 2000 because I wanted to give any late-drafted guys who might have a late-career major league debut a chance to get to the Show. I may update this thing in the future.

Since this'll probably be my last post of the year, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Annual Updates 2018

After an anticlimactic postseason that saw the Red Sox win it again (and where my predictions were a big pile of LOL), it's time for the annual updates to our ongoing lists.


Rookie of the Year Facts
The Second Place Award Winners
The Run That Clinched It

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Playoff Predictions: 2018 Edition

On what I believe was the first day in Major League history with two tiebreakers played, both teams I was rooting for lost. Needless to say, I'm not terribly thrilled as I write this post. But I have a duty to the baseball community to record these predictions which will almost certainly be wrong so that we can all have a good laugh over them someday. My preseason prediction was a Yankees-Dodgers World Series. Do I stand by that prediction? Let's just take this round by round.

Stupid Wild Card Games That Nobody Wanted

Cubs over Rockies
Yankees over Athletics

While it was fun pulling for the Rockies as they marched to the playoffs, the fact remains that they simply are not a great team. The Cubs have much more depth, and when you throw in the fact that Chicago has home field advantage, they're the easy favorite here. Obviously, anything can happen in one game, but I'm going with what I think is the more likely outcome.

As for the American League, I think the Yankees have just a bit more magic on their side, and I'm not going to bet against them.

Division Series

Brewers over Cubs
Dodgers over Braves
Yankees over Red Sox
Indians over Astros

The way the Brewers have been playing lately, I don't think my beloved Cubs are in a very favorable position if they face them. They've been unbeatable. If you recall, I actually picked them at the beginning of the season to be the surprise division winner, so I'm not always wrong.

I'm taking the Dodgers over the Braves, just because I'm not confident that the Braves are all there yet. The Dodgers have been a lot better in recent postseasons than earlier this decade, and I think they have the be the favorite this year too.

Yankees over the Red Sox? The Red Sox team that won 108 games? Yes, I'm going to make a bold prediction that the juggernaut from Boston is actually overrated and will choke in the first round like the Indians did last year. Besides, this Yankee team ain't exactly Jell-O pudding, with 100 wins of their own.

But wait...I'm also predicting the Indians will beat the powerhouse Astros? Now I'm just loony, right? Two huge first round upsets in the same league? I'll admit that the Astros are a much better team than this year's Indians, but the postseason really is a crapshoot, and I think these Indians could pull it off. They have unfinished business from last year, and they might be just a little more determined than the defending champs.

League Championship Series

Brewers over Dodgers
Indians over Yankees

So it looks like I'm not sticking with my preseason pennant predictions! I have both of them losing in the LCS.

First, the Brewers. I think their momentum has given them the confidence to ride this thing all the way to the World Series. They're playing like a team whose time has come, and despite them beating the Cubs, I have to tip my hat to them. This team looks special.

Indians over the Yankees? Yup. The Indians looked like a team of destiny last year, but the Yankees spoiled the party in the first round. Remember that unfinished business I mentioned above? Yep. It's time for the Indians to get their payback.

World Series

Indians over Brewers

Remember the Cardinals of 2004-06? In 2004, they won 100 games and the pennant, but lost to the Red Sox, who were breaking the once-famous 86-year drought. In 2005, they won 100 games again, but this time they lost in the LCS to the Astros. In 2006, they squeaked into the playoffs by winning a weak division, but unlike the prior two years, they won the whole thing. Go figure.

I'm predicting the Indians to follow a similar pattern: Lose to a team getting a monkey off its back, lose before the World Series, then win the World Series with a team whose record isn't that impressive but played in a weak division. We have the precedent. It's all there for the Indians' taking. Can this be Cleveland's year? That's what I'm going with. And unlike last year, I might even be correct.

So there you have my predictions. Be sure to come back in a month and have a good chuckle at how wrong they were!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Oldest Ringless Players: 2018 Edition

And then there were ten! With the elimination of the Cardinals this afternoon, we now know who our ten postseason teams are, and we can check out this year's edition of the Oldest Ringless Players!

Atlanta Braves: Peter Moylan (b. December 2, 1978)
Boston Red Sox: Brandon Phillips (b. June 28, 1981)
Chicago Cubs: Jorge De La Rosa (b. April 5, 1981)
Cleveland Indians: Rajai Davis (b. October 19, 1980)
Colorado Rockies: Chris Iannetta (b. April 8, 1983)
Houston Astros: Martin Maldonado (b. August 16, 1986)
Los Angeles Dodgers: Rich Hill (b. March 11, 1980)
Milwaukee Brewers: Curtis Granderson (b. March 16, 1981)
New York Yankees: Neil Walker (b. September 10, 1985)
Oakland Athletics: Fernando Rodney (b. March 18, 1977)

This crew feels different than most past editions. Fernando Rodney seems like he's shown up here a lot, but the others, not so much. The Rockies deserve an asterisk, since Seunghwan Oh is older than Iannetta and has never won a Major League World Series, but he's won several Korean Series, so I don't think he should count.

I'll be back with my predictions for the playoffs once we have all the races settled.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Ultimate Number Players: #21-25

It's time for another installment of Ultimate Number Players! In case you've forgotten how this works, the Ultimate Number Player has to have worn a particular uniform number with every stint with every franchise he played for, and he must be (in my judgment) the best player to have played with the most franchises wearing that number. We've done them all from 1 to 20, so now we'll do another block of five.

Ultimate #21: Warren Spahn

It's hard to find a good photo of Spahn in a Giants uniform with his #21 visible. The closest thing I've found is grainy black-and-white footage from the infamous Marichal-Roseboro brawl where the back of his jersey can be seen among the chaos. For the photo collage, I chose the only other qualifying player with three franchises: Mike Hargrove. I know this looks terrible compared to some of the others I've made, but it was the best I could do.

Ultimate #22: Walt Weiss

Thank goodness he wore #22 for one season with the Athletics before embarking on his journey around the majors.

Ultimate #23: Ted Simmons

Several 23s had three franchises, but Simmons was by far the best of the lot.

Ultimate #24: Willie Mays

24 proved to be a difficult number to keep one's entire career, but the greatest player ever to wear it takes the prize here with his two franchises.

Ultimate #25: Jim Thome

I don't know how he did it, but Thome bounced around a ton, somehow always holding on to the coveted #25. This collage is a thing of beauty in my eyes.

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!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Is the 1990s Cub Pitcher Death Phenomenon Unusual?

With the recent release of the February 2018 SABR Biographical Research Committee newsletter, it was revealed that a few deaths from years past slipped through the cracks. One of them was former lefty reliever Doug Slaten, who last played in 2012, but whose 2016 death somehow evaded the notice of the baseball world. Another was former journeyman righty reliever Randy Veres, who also died in 2016. The thing about Veres, though, is that he is yet another deceased pitcher from the 1990s-era Cubs, as he showed up on their staff in 1994.

The tally of Cub pitcher deaths from 1991 to 2000 (yes, I shifted the window slightly to include one player) now stands as follows:

Rod Beck (June 23, 2007)
Geremi Gonzalez (May 25, 2008)
Kevin Foster (October 11, 2008)
Dave Smith (December 17, 2008)
Jessie Hollins (July 9, 2009)
Frank Castillo (July 28, 2013)
Ruben Quevedo (June 7, 2016)
Randy Veres (November 7, 2016)
Anthony Young (June 27, 2017)

That's nine players, all hurlers. No Cub non-pitcher deaths have been reported from that same era, and no deaths at all have been reported from the 1986-90 Cubs.

Out of curiosity, I've decided to compare the number of Cub deaths from 1991-2000 to other teams from the same era. Let's see how many individual players have been reported dead from each franchise:

Blue Jays54
Devil Rays21
Red Sox52
White Sox30

The data show the Astros with the most total player deaths, but the Cubs have the lead in pitcher deaths, with three more than the Orioles and Astros, who tie for second. While it's probably nothing more than a statistical anomaly, it does seem odd that I picked up on the trend in 2013 and it's only continued since then. You'd think at some point it would even out a bit. We'll have to keep our eyes on this phenomenon.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Final 12 Players By Decade

Active players from the 1990s have been dwindling year by year, and the only ones left in Spring Training 2018 are Bartolo Colon and Adrian Beltre, both of the Texas Rangers. Colon seems to be close to the end, but Beltre has become something of an ageless wonder, putting up productive seasons even into his late 30s.

In honor of a decade's players dropping off the scene, I thought it would be fun to look at previous decades and who their final representatives at the major league level were. Some of these are pretty interesting.


Stuffy McInnis 8/1/1927
Zack Wheat 9/21/1927
Walter Johnson 9/30/1927
Tris Speaker 8/30/1928
Ty Cobb 9/11/1928
Jimmy Austin 10/6/1929
Johnny Evers 10/6/1929
Eddie Collins 8/5/1930
Gabby Street 9/20/1931
Jack Quinn 7/7/1933
Nick Altrock 10/1/1933
Charley O'Leary 9/30/1934

We have four Hall of Famers at the ends of their careers, five coaches making publicity stunt appearances, one Hall of Famer who was basically just a coach at that point, and two guys who just played a long time. A nice snapshot of the era. An interesting note is that four of the five Hall of Famers played their final game with the Philadelphia Athletics.


Dazzy Vance 8/14/1935
Bob O'Farrell 9/23/1935
Sad Sam Jones 9/28/1935
Rabbit Maranville 9/29/1935
Tom Zachary 5/28/1936
George Uhle 9/22/1936
Charlie Grimm 9/23/1936
Rogers Hornsby 7/20/1937
Frankie Frisch 8/5/1937
Jesse Haines 9/10/1937
Waite Hoyt 5/15/1938
Jimmy Dykes 10/1/1939

The legendary Babe Ruth just missed the cut here. Here we see six Hall of Famers (about half of which probably shouldn't be in, and one of which only achieving that status thanks to one of the legitimate Hall of Famers on the list). The last man standing though, like Charley O'Leary the decade before, wasn't primarily a player, but a member of the dugout staff taking the field.


Bill Dickey 9/8/1946
Rollie Hemsley 4/17/1947
Art Herring 6/15/1947
Mel Ott 7/11/1947
Mel Harder 9/7/1947
Rick Ferrell 9/14/1947
Red Ruffing 9/15/1947
Al Lopez 9/16/1947
Si Johnson 9/25/1947
Doc Cramer 5/12/1948
Earl Caldwell 9/15/1948
Bobo Newsom 9/17/1953

Now here's an odder list. A lot of mediocre players on this one. There are three I'd consider legit Hall of Fame players, one I'd consider a legit Hall of Fame manager, and one who was a fine player but not a deserving Hall of Famer. And none of the Hall of Famers appear in the final four. And the last guy standing wasn't a coach or manager giving the fans a token appearance. How times change.


Phil Cavarretta 5/8/1955
Hank Majeski 7/26/1955
Eddie Joost 9/25/1955
Walt Masterson 9/24/1956
Bob Feller 9/30/1956
Dizzy Trout 9/11/1957
Bob Kennedy 9/29/1957
Murry Dickson 9/14/1959
Enos Slaughter 9/29/1959
Mickey Vernon 9/27/1960
Ted Williams 9/28/1960
Early Wynn 9/13/1963

Looks like old Early was late to leave the game, hanging on for a full three seasons as the only active player from the 1930s. On this list we have four Hall of Famers, two of which I'd definitely put in my personal Hall, while the others are borderline choices. I'll bet even the most hardcore fans couldn't have named Walt Masterson. I know I almost certainly wouldn't have thought of him.


Billy Pierce 10/3/1964
Duke Snider 10/3/1964
Yogi Berra 5/9/1965
Roy Sievers 5/9/1965
Nellie Fox 7/25/1965
Satchel Paige 9/25/1965
Warren Spahn 10/1/1965
Robin Roberts 9/3/1966
Del Crandall 9/25/1966
Joe Nuxhall 10/2/1966
Smoky Burgess 10/1/1967
Curt Simmons 10/1/1967
Minnie Minoso 10/5/1980

This is actually a final 13, since Pierce and Snider played their last game on the same day. Once again, we see six Hall of Famers, though none are in the last five. Minoso has his supporters, though. Paige's appearance was a publicity stunt too, of course.


Frank Robinson 9/18/1976
Tony Taylor 9/29/1976
Tommy Davis 10/2/1976
Billy Williams 10/2/1976
Hank Aaron 10/3/1976
Mike Cuellar 5/3/1977
Brooks Robinson 8/13/1977
Ron Fairly 9/23/1978
Willie McCovey 7/6/1980
Tim McCarver 10/5/1980
Minnie Minoso 10/5/1980
Jim Kaat 7/1/1983

Like Early Wynn before him, Jim Kaat was the sole player repping the fabulous '50s for three seasons. Five Hall of Famers on this list, and one who, as mentioned before, has his supporters. Minnie Minoso was brilliant for making that cameo in a non-contending season for the White Sox. I've noticed that if you look at the last "serious" players for each of these decades, the guy you come up with has always been a pitcher so far. Will that change?


Joe Niekro 4/29/1988
Gene Garber 7/1/1988
Don Sutton 8/9/1988
Graig Nettles 10/1/1988
Ted Simmons 10/2/1988
Tommy John 5/25/1989
Darrell Evans 10/1/1989
Bill Buckner 5/30/1990
Jerry Reuss 10/3/1990
Rick Dempsey 9/27/1992
Carlton Fisk 6/22/1993
Nolan Ryan 9/22/1993

Not yet. But interestingly, only three Hall of Famers on this list, two of which were the last two out the door. Nettles and Simmons have supporters, though.


Ozzie Smith 10/17/1996
Rick Honeycutt 5/2/1997
Eddie Murray 9/20/1997
Danny Darwin 9/22/1998
Dave Stieb 9/25/1998
Paul Molitor 9/27/1998
Dennis Eckersley 10/2/1998
Dennis Martinez 10/14/1998
Mike Morgan 9/2/2002
Tim Raines 9/29/2002
Rickey Henderson 9/19/2003
Jesse Orosco 9/27/2003

Another pitcher closing out the list. Good old lefty specialists like Jesse Orosco who play forever. Six Hall of Famers once again.


Kent Mercker 5/30/2008
Tom Glavine 8/14/2008
Kenny Rogers 9/14/2008
Rudy Seanez 9/28/2008
Greg Maddux 10/15/2008
Tom Gordon 5/3/2009
Gary Sheffield 9/30/2009
Randy Johnson 10/4/2009
John Smoltz 10/10/2009
Ken Griffey Jr. 5/31/2010
Jamie Moyer 5/27/2012
Omar Vizquel 10/3/2012

Finally! The last guy on the list isn't a pitcher! Five Hall of Famers make the cut here. Kent Mercker and Rudy Seanez seem like the most unlikely guys to pop up here.

Before we know it, we'll be counting down the last guys from the 2000s. Enjoy the players of this era while they're still with us. One day you wake up, see lists this, and find yourself feeling old.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Obligatory Hall of Fame Update: 2018

We have six new Hall of Famers for 2018, and that means the list of Hall of Famers' first major league home runs has been updated.

My thoughts on our new inductees? In brief:

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Alan Trammell are all deserving, and I'm glad they got in.

Vladimir Guerrero was more of a borderline case, but he had the traditional numbers and the peak value to be a selection I won't complain too much about.

Trevor Hoffman was one of the most overrated players of all-time, but he was perceived as a future Hall of Famer throughout his career, so I guess it was inevitable. It's a shame that those save totals mean so much to voters. Billy Wagner was probably just as good, but with less-gaudy numbers.

And then there's Jack Morris. There's a selection that makes me angry. When he finally dropped off the BBWAA ballot, I breathed a sigh of relief that we wouldn't have to hear about his overrated career any longer. But then this Veteran's Committee thing decides to put him in. What a joke. The guy was never anything but a good, sturdy starter. He never had any dominant seasons. Yes, Pitching a 10-inning shutout in Game 7 of the World Series is a fine achievement, but it puts him in the Mazeroski Zone of worthiness. A fine career plus a legendary Game 7 are enough for a Cooperstown Plaque, apparently. I'm calling it now: Madison Bumgarner has already got his spot locked up.