Wednesday, October 26, 2016

30 home runs in 2016: impact on success and scoring.

38 players hit at least 30 Home Runs (HR) in 2016 . There are 30 teams but some teams, such as the Yankees, had no players with 30 HR. Here are the top ten:

1 Mark Trumbo 47 2016 30 BAL AL 159 667 613 94 157 27 1 108 51 1 170 3 0 0 14 2 0 .256 .316 .533 .850 *9D/37
2 Nelson Cruz 43 2016 35 SEA AL 155 667 589 96 169 27 1 105 62 5 159 9 0 7 15 2 0 .287 .360 .555 .915 *D9
3 Edwin Encarnacion 42 2016 33 TOR AL 160 702 601 99 158 34 0 127 87 3 138 5 0 8 22 2 0 .263 .357 .529 .886 *D3
4 Brian Dozier 42 2016 29 MIN AL 155 691 615 104 165 35 5 99 61 6 138 8 2 5 12 18 2 .268 .340 .546 .886 *4/HD
5 Khris Davis 42 2016 28 OAK AL 150 610 555 85 137 24 2 102 42 0 166 8 0 5 19 1 2 .247 .307 .524 .831 *7D/H
6 Chris Carter 41 2016 29 MIL NL 160 644 549 84 122 27 1 94 76 1 206 9 0 10 18 3 1 .222 .321 .499 .821 *3/HD
7 Nolan Arenado 41 2016 25 COL NL 160 696 618 116 182 35 6 133 68 10 103 2 0 8 17 2 3 .294 .362 .570 .932 *5
8 Todd Frazier 40 2016 30 CHW AL 158 666 590 89 133 21 0 98 64 1 163 4 1 7 11 15 5 .225 .302 .464 .767 *5/3D
9 Robinson Cano 39 2016 33 SEA AL 161 715 655 107 195 33 2 103 47 8 100 8 0 5 18 0 1 .298 .350 .533 .882 *4/D
10 Kris Bryant 39 2016 24 CHC NL 155 699 603 121 176 35 3 102 75 5 154 18 0 3 3 8 5 .292 .385 .554 .939 *579/386D
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/26/2016.

They represent ten different teams. Of the ten tournament teams, only three had a top ten HR hitter: Baltimore, Toronto, Chicago Cubs.

In 2015 only 20 players hit at least 30 HR, so the number almost doubled. In 2015 Baltimore also had the player with the most, also 47 HR, but he was Chris Davis, not Mark Trumbo. In 2015 Nelson Cruz was also second.

In 2014 the number of players with at least 30 HR was 11. Nelson Cruz was the only player with at least 40 HR: 40. Cruz was then with Baltimore.

In 2013: 14; Chris Davis 53.

So in the three most recent seasons the number has about doubled twice: 11, 20, 38.

In 2016, teams with multiple 30 HR players:
Baltimore: Trumbo, Davis, Machado
Boston: Ortiz, Betts, Ramirez
Seattle: Cruz, Cano, Kyle Seager

Toronto had the functional equivalent of three: Encarnacion and Donaldson, plus Jose Bautista (Joey Bats) who hit 22 in only 423 at bats (AB); 2010-2015: 54, 43, 27 (332 AB), 28 (452 AB), 35, 40. Bautista was healthy for the 2016 tournament and hit 2 HR in 33 AB.

In 2016 these teams had two 30 HR players: Chicago Cubs, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, New York Mets (plus Jay Bruce 33: 25 Reds, 8 Mets), Tampa, Texas.

Eleven of the thirty teams had multiple 30 HR players: six teams in top ten in scoring, three in bottom ten.

Seven of the ten tournament teams had multiple 30 HR players: Baltimore, Boston, Toronto, Cubs, Cleveland, Mets, Texas.

No tournament team had only one 30 HR player. These three tournament teams had zero 30 HR players: Giants, Dodgers, Washington.

Both teams in the finals had two 30 HR players:
Cubs: Kris Bryant (39), Anthony Rizzo (32)
Indians: Mike Napoli, Carlos Santana - both 34

Of the top ten in team HR, only St. Louis and Colorado had only one 30 HR player. The rest had multiple.

Of the top ten in team runs scored (Boston most: 878), only Washington did not have a 30 HR player. Six had multiple 30 HR players: Boston (3), Cubs, Cleveland, Seattle (3), Texas, Toronto. Three teams had one: Colorado, St. Louis, Arizona.

Of the ten teams scoring the fewest runs (680 or fewer: Yankees), three had two 30 HR players:
Tampa (Longoria, Brad Miller) 672
Milwaukee (Chris Carter, Braun) 671
Mets (Cespedes, Granderson) 671

Oakland had one: Khris Davis 42. Including the Yankees, none of the other six in the bottom ten had even one 30 HR player.

Bottom line: it sure helps to have multiple 30 HR players but teams need other things.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Nick Testa: no plate appearances.

There's a too long article in The Times about Maurice Lerner. Maury Lerner played 482 minor league games in eight seasons but never played a single major league game. Lerner evolved into a mob hit man and spent 18 years in prison. In the stuff about baseball in the article is a mention of a teammate, Nick Testa:

PositionsCatcher and Pinch Runner
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 5' 8", Weight: 180 lb.
Born: June 291928 in New York, NY (Age 88.118)
High School: Christopher Columbus HS (Bronx, NY)
Schools: Bergen Community College (Paramus, NJ)New York University (New York, NY)University of Delaware (Newark, DE)University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
Debut: April 23, 1958 (Age 29)
TeamGiants 1958
Last Game: April 23, 1958 (Age 29)
Notice that debut and last game have the same dates. Nick Testa played in one major league game but never came to the plate. Testa was almost 30 years old. Testa started in D ball in 1946 and finished in A ball in 1964. He did not play in 1953, presumably because he was in the U.S. Army. In 1962 at age 34 Testa played 57 games in the Japan Pacific League. Then back to the U.S. to play in Reno and Yakima.

From 1947 through 1958 Testa was in the Giants minor league system. They were the New York Giants for all but the last of those seasons. So, Testa was playing for one of his hometown teams.

In 1958 he played only with the San Francisco Giants; he did not play in the minors. This was the first Giants season in San Francisco after leaving New York. Testa's one and only game in 1958:

Wednesday, April 23, 1958, Seals Stadium
Attendance: 14,715, Time of Game: 3:01
Giants 8, Cardinals 7

Hall of Famers: Musial, Mays, Cepeda.

Nick Testa must have been the number three catcher for the Giants. In the bottom of the fourth the Giants trailed 5-0. They scored a run and with two outs and had a runner on third with Valmy Thomas coming up. Whitey Lockman pinch hit for Thomas and flied out to center. Lockman was replaced by Bob Schmidt.

In the bottom of the eighth trailing 6-2 the first two Giants made outs. Then single, single, walk. The Cardinals replaced starting pitcher Sam Jones with Phil Paine and the Giants had Ray Jablonski pinch hit for their second catcher of the day Bob Schmidt. Jablonski singled to left driving in two runs. Andre Rodgers pinch hit for pitcher Ray Crone and Nick Testa pinch ran for Jablonski. Rodgers struck out ending the 8th inning: Cardinals 6, Giants 4.

In the top of the 9th inning Marv Grissom came on to pitch for the Giants and pinch runner Nick Testa stayed in the game as the Giants catcher. Del Ennis was the fourth Cardinal batter and Testa dropped his foul pop for an error. However, Ennis flied out to right, so no damage was caused by Testa's error. It was his only fielding chance. The Cardinals scored a run and led 7-4.

In the bottom of the 9th the Giants rallied for 4 runs to win 8-7. the final two batters:
- Orlando Cepeda tripled to drive in two runs
- Daryl Spencer homered to drive in Cepeda with the tieing run and then Spencer scored the winning run.

Nick Testa was two spots below Spencer in the lineup. Had Spencer and the next batter walked, Testa could have had a chance to be the hero with a single.

Why didn't Testa play in any other games in 1958, even in the minor leagues? Maybe he was injured. But at least Nick Testa had that one opportunity to play in a major league game, no matter how briefly, no matter how inconsequential. It was more than Maury Lerner, who wound up doing very hard time for nearly two decades.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller: Yankee relief aces in World Series but for Cubs and Indians.

The Yankees tanked the 2016 season starting with the trading of Aroldis Chapman. Then Andrew Miller. Then DH Carlos Beltran, the Yankees best hitter. Of the eleven players received, pitcher Adam Warren was the only one with major league experience.

Aroldis Chapman
Andrew Miller
Carlos Beltran
Warren and relief pitcher Ben Heller were the only ones who played for the Yankees in 2016. Yes, of course, all these minor league players are "prospects", a euphemism for gullible media people and fans.

Will any of them play significant amounts for the Yankees in 2017? In 2018? Will any be impact players, ever?

What if Yankee general manager Brian Cashman had kept the three Yankees he traded and added some talent for a stretch run? Maybe the Yankees would have qualified for the tournament. Maybe the Yankees would be playing the Cubs in the World Series.

But even if that happened, the Yankees would still need significant change in 2017. Tanking 2016 as Cashman did it will have little meaningful impact on improving the Yankees. So, what was the point? To have better minor league players? For what? To trade for veterans with records of some success? Veterans who are having their salaries dumped?

Between the 2015 and 2016 seasons only one team did not sign any free agents: the Yankees. Cashman cannot repeat that before the 2017 season, especially given how week the team looks now.

The Yankees need two batters who are likely to hit at least 30 home runs. They have none.

The Yankees need an ace starting pitcher, someone better than Masahiro Tanaka. In recent years the Yankees failed to sign free agent pitchers Jon LesterMax Scherzer, David Price, and Zack Greinke. None won the Cy Young award but Lester will start game one for the Cubs. Yankee fans wish a current Yankee pitcher was starting game one ... for the Yankees.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Indians - Dodgers 1920: the forgotten World Series.

In all the fuss about the Cubs being one win away from playing in the World Series for the first time since 1945, the last year of World War II, and the Indians playing in the World Series for the first time since 1997, no one has addressed the other possibility, which is more than a little possible with Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill starting the final two games in Chicago for Los Angeles: the other potential matchup: Indians v. Dodgers. Those two teams already played for the championship once.

1920 World Series (5-2): Cleveland Indians (98-56) over Brooklyn Robins (93-61)

From 1919 through 1921, the old World Series was best of nine, not best of seven. In 1920 the Indians beat the Robins as the Brooklyn team was known then.

The first three games were played in Ebbets Field in Brooklyn and the Robins won games two and three. Attendance: 22,000 to 25,000. The Indians then swept all four games at Dunn Field in Cleveland to end the series before they would have headed back to Brooklyn for possible games eight and nine. The only home runs were hit in game five:

Sunday, October 10, 1920 at Dunn Field
Attendance: 26,884, Time of Game: 1:49
Indians 8, Robbins 1
HR: Elmer Smith (1, off Burleigh Grimes, 1st inn, 3 on, 0 outs to Deep RF); Jim Bagby (1, off B Grimes, 4th inn, 2 on, 1 out to Deep CF).

TP: 1. Bill Wambsganss. In addition to participating in multiple double plays in this World Series, the Indians second baseman had an unassisted triple play, the only one in World Series history.

The first four Indian batters scored: three singles and a home run by Elmer Smith. Indians starting pitcher Jim Bagby hit a three run homer in the 4th. First World Series grand slam and first World Series home run by a pitcher.

Smith and Bagby? Hey, didn't they stop the 56 game hitting streak of Joe DiMaggio July 17, 1941 in Cleveland? Well, two Indians pitchers with those last names held DiMaggio 0 for 3, plus a walk. However, they were different people.

Al Smith, L (6-6) 7.1 7 4 4 2 4 1 3.97 30 50 -0.114 0.86 -1.5
Jim Bagby 1.2 1 0 0 1 1 0 4.16 6 3 0 0.049 0.30 2.1
Team Totals 9 8 4 4 3 5 1 4.00 36 50 3 0 -0.065 0.76 0.5
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/22/2016.

The 1920 Cleveland Indians pitcher named Jim Bagby was the father of the one who combined to stop DiMaggio in 1941.

Jim Bagby, Sr. pitched for Cleveland 1916-1922: 122-86, ERA 3.03. Bagby had his best season in 1920, leading the American League in:
wins 31
winning "percentage" .721
games 48 (38 starts)
complete games 30
innings 339.66
hits 338
batters faces 1,355

1920 was the only World Series for Bagby, Sr.: 1-1, 15 innings, 1.80 ERA. He pitched six innings in game two, losing 3-0, then won games five, helping his cause with his three run homer.

Bagby, Jr. pitched three seasons for the Boston Red Sox, then 1941-1945 for Cleveland. He won 17 games in both 1942 and 1943. He returned to the Red Sox in 1946 and pitched three innings in one game in the 1946 World Series for Boston against the champion St. Louis Cardinals.

In the 1920 World Series Stan Coveleski was the pitching star for Cleveland: three complete game victories in three starts: ERA 0.67. In the regular season he was second to Bagby, Sr. in innings with 315 and 24-14, ERA 2.49. He won World Series games 1, 4, 7. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.

Player-manager Tris Speaker had the most hits for Cleveland: 8; .320 .393 .480 .873. Speaker was 32 years old in 1920 and led the AL with 50 doubles;  .388 .483 .562 1.045. Speaker led in doubles 8 times, including 1920-1923. He has the most career doubles: 792. Speaker played for the Red Sox 1907-1915, then the Indians 1916-1926. He manged Cleveland 1919 (61 games) - 1926: 617-520. Speaker was a great center fielder. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1937.

Speaker and the Indians dealt with the grief of the death of their shortstop Ray Chapman, who was killed by a pitched ball thrown by Carl Mays of the Yankees.

Last Game: August 16, 1920 (Age 29.)  vs. NYY 1 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Died: August 171920 in New York, NY (Aged 29)

Joe Sewell played all seven 1920 World Series games at shortstop for Cleveland. He played for Cleveland 1920-1930, moving to third base in 1929. He then played three seasons for the Yankees. He played all four 1932 World Series games for the Yankees.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.

Zach Wheat led Brooklyn with 9 hits: .333 .357 .407 .765. Wheat played with Brooklyn 1909-1926, all but his final season with the Philadelphia As. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1959.

In addition to the death of Ray Chapman, the scandal of the Chicago White Sox taking money from gamblers to deliberately lose the 1919 World Series to Cincinnati was becoming public late in the 1920 season and the White Sox owner felt compelled to suspend some of his players, possibly costing the White Sox the 1920 pennant. Cleveland won by two games over the White Sox and three over the Yankees, whose new acquisition, Babe Ruth, smashed his home run record of 29 in 1919 by hitting 54 in 1920.

The Yankees won the pennant in 1921, 1922, 1923; and their first World Series in 1923.

Cleveland won its only World Series in 1948. The Indians won pennants in 1954, 1995, 1997, 2016.

The Brooklyn won its next pennant in 1941, losing to the Yankees. Brooklyn won its only World Series in 1955, beating the Yankees in seven games 4-3. The Dodgers have won multiple World Series in Los Angeles: 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, 1988 (most recent pennant).