HOW HOT IS IT?
David Wright on a Pace to Jolt Joe DiMaggio,
Reyes is Sneaking Up on Jackie Robinson
Copyright c 2006 Evan Pritchard
June 27th, 2006
It’s the end of June, and folks are getting ready for the Fourth of July, and fireworks, hotdogs and a lot of celebrating. The Mets so far have played about 46% of the season, and are getting ready for some fireworks, facing the Red Sox (45-28) and Yankees in succession in these next few days before the half way point just before Independence Day. To estimate any season totals for the team at this point in the season (46%) , one simply multiplies that number by 2.16. This would give the Mets (47-28) a final win loss of 101-61 for the end of the year. But using this same number we can also project final season stats for David Wright and Jose Reyes. This is not to say that they won’t get injured or fall into August slumps, but it is an accurate OPTA- On a Pace To Accomplish-index. And the results are rather impressive.
David Wright is hot at the plate:
Given his current year to date totals, David Wright’s OPTA is:160 games played, 630 at bats 108 runs, 212 hits, 41 doubles, 6 triples, 39 homers, 138 rbis, 382 total bases, 71 base-on-balls, 121 strike outs, 24 stolen bases, (and will be caught stealing 4 times) with a .402 on base percentage, a .606 slugging average, and a batting average of .336.
How hot is that? Once when my son, also a David, asked “What is the temperature?” and I said, “It’s 80 degrees outside,” he rejoined, “Is that hot?” He was four years old, so you can understand the learning curve involved.
When you look at stats like these, they sound good, but its hard to quantify it; we are used to thinking in terms of 20 homers, 20 stolen bases, 100 rbis, and a .300 batting average as the universal Mendoza Line of Excellence, but Wright’s numbers are well beyond that. So one might also say, “How hot is that?” These are all reasonable questions, even for the educated reader.
Here’s a higher standard against which to compare Wright’s current creative output. Instead of a Mendoza Line, let’s use the DiMaggio Line instead. Let’s compare David Wright’s projected season totals to the lifetime season average totals for Joe DiMaggio, one of the most celebrated of the Yankee greats and 13 time All Star, and you get an idea how hot that is.
(Note to readers and Yankee fans: I know it is not fair to DiMaggio to compare Wrights hot streak year to Joe’s whole life, but in a later report I will show that per at-bat, Wright is still on a pace to not only sip some major league coffee with Mr. Coffee, but might indeed put up similar numbers in the long run.)
The Yankee Clipper, who in 1969 was elected “baseball’s greatest living player” averaged, per season, 133 games, 524 at bats, 107 runs, 170 hits, 30 doubles, 10 triples, 28 homers, 118 rbis, 304 total bases, 61 base on balls, 28 strikeouts, 2 stolen bases, .398 on base percentage, .579 slugging, and .325 batting average. At the time he retired, his slugging average was the 6th greatest in history.
In other words, Wright is on a pace to exceed Joe DiMaggio’s lifetime hitting averages this year in every category except strikeouts and triples. Yes, Joe leads Dave in triples average by 4, and averaged 93 less strikeouts than Wright will have this year. However, by the end of the year, given this pace, Wright will exceed DiMaggio’s averages by 27 more games played, 106 more at bats, 1 more run scored, 42 more hits, 11 more doubles, 11 more homers, 20 more rbis, 78 more total bases, 10 more bases on balls, 22 more stolen bases, 4 points higher in on base percentage, 27 points higher than Joe’s famous slugging percentage, and 11 more points in batting average. Should I add an exclamation mark on the end of that sentence?
We know that Joe played in a 154 game season, but he also played less games anyway, due to injuries. Only time will tell if Wright is plagued by injuries over the years. It is hard to compare fielding percentages between an outfielder and a third baseman, and it wouldn’t be quite fair. Wright is lifetime .947 at the “hot corner,” while DiMaggio fielded .978 his whole career. Yes, DiMaggio was probably a better fielder, but adjusting for position, not by more than .10 or .15.
Is it uncouth to compare anyone to Joe DiMaggio? Of course it is, but this is a blog and I can say whatever I want! And Wright can take the pressure! He loves it! Joe DiMaggio was three time MVP winner, and we want to put pressure on MLB to consider Wright for the same award, presuming he doesn’t fall off the edge of the earth in the next four months.
You Mets fans wanna get even more disrespectful to the giants of yesteryear? Let’s compare little Jose Reyes to the great Jackie Robinson, who would rather be referred to as a Dodger of yesteryear I’m sure. (He quit baseball rather than be traded to the Giants).
Robinson had a ten year career in which he averaged, per year, 138 games played, 488 at bats, 95 runs scored, 152 hits, 27 doubles, 5 triples, 14 homers, 74 rbis, 231 total bases, 74 walks, 29 strikeouts, 20 stolen bases, and caught stealing an average of only 3 times a year. His average on base percentage was .403, with a slugging average of .474 and a .311 batting average lifetime. Pretty impressive lifetimes stats, plus one has to consider the kind of pressure he was under. He is the only player whose number, 42, was retired by all major league teams.
Given his OPTA, Reyes will have by the season’s end, 157 games played, 702 at bats (probably a record) 145 runs scored, 212 hits, 41 doubles, 22 triples, 17 homers, 78 rbis, 347 total bases, 63 walks, 84 strikeouts, 73 stolen bases, (and will be caught stealing 17 times) with a .361 on base percentage, a .495 slugging average, and a .302 batting average.
That means that given his current stats, Reyes 2006 will compare very favorably to Jackie Robinson’s average year at the plate. Reyes will have 19 more games played, 214 more at bats, 50 more runs scored, 60 more hits, 14 more doubles, 17 more triples, 3 more homers, 4 more rbis, (this as a lead-off hitter) 116 more total bases, only 9 less walks (this is where Reyes gets a lot of flack, but 9 less than Jackie R is pretty good!) 53 more stolen bases, (Jackie, who finished 2nd in the 1936 Olympics behind Jesse Owen, led the league in stolen bases as a rookie in 1947 with 29) and will have a slugging percentage that is 21 points higher.
On the down side, Reyes will have 55 more strikeouts than Robinson, 9 less walks, will be caught stealing 14 more times, (but 53 more successes!) with an on base percentage that is 42 points lower, and a batting average that is 9 points lower as well. These are shortcomings that would not bother most Mets fans, although we would like Jose to get on base more often, and nine more walks would help the team quite a bit!
In fielding, Reyes lifetime is .974 although his lifetime average at 2nd base is .980. Jackie Robinson was a better fielder, and played 2nd base all of 1951 with a .992 fielding percentage, his best year by far in the field. But Reyes could certainly catch up with Robinson over a few years with constant improvement.
Those who are offended by these comparisons between current Mets players and former New York stars should be careful what they say about me, or I’ll compare Carlos Beltran to Mickey Mantle!
What does it take to win the Triple Crown? You have to have the highest batting average, most RBIs and most homers. No award has been more elusive in sports history. To find a person like that you have to go back to Carl Yastzemski in 67 and Frank Robinson the year before that. What is a Royal Flush of Baseball? Well, I just made it up but that would be to lead the league in five categories. What would it take for David Wright to end the year leading in every hitting category, no less five? Right now, anything is possible. I guess he really wants that RAISE!
One way to get a big raise from Omar Manaya is to lead the league in everything.
To win the triple crown Wright needs to:
Raise his batting average .24, from .337 to .361. This will not be easy. If Nomar gets hit by a bus, his chances of winning the NL batting title go up quite a bit.
Hit 8 homers in eight days to tie Pujols at 26 homers, who is currently inactive. At that pace, he will lead in homers by next Monday.
Knock in 3 RBIs in tomorrow’s game, then he will be tied with the league lead at 67.
This would place him as the front runner to win the first triple crown in 37 years, and the first in the NL since God Knows When. Many great warriors have tied I mean died attempting this feat. Even to play in the All Star game leading the league in the big three stats would be a first.
He would need to:
Make just 2 more hits to tie for the league leading Holliday with 99. I thought it would be splashy to reach 100 hits at the same time as Holliday.
Hit 5 more doubles before Biggio does to tie him at 24 for the league lead.
Score 15 more runs to reach 65 to tie the league lead.
Hit 7 more triples to tie teammate Reyes at 10 for the league lead. We’d probably have to ask Reyes to stop hitting all those triples and give David Wright LoDuca’s Closet Legs for a few weeks. Forget it. Too much trouble.
Steal 22 more bases to tie teammate Reyes at 33 for the league lead. Of course its hard to hit a moving target, and Reyes will probably be up to 44 by that time.
And of course if he did all these things, he’d have a statistical sweep, which is probably not going to happen this year, maybe later.
Okay, so some of these things are hard to do, and other players get hot as well. But its fun to imagine our own farm boy David going after all the Goliaths of the National League at once, isn’t it? Can you spell M-V-P boys and girls? It’s alot easier to spell when you lead the league in everything that moves. David Wright is the new hero of New York and will look especially impressive with a series ring on his hand. Now all he needs is a golden glove at third base to put over the ring so that it doesn’t get dirty.
June 22nd, 2006
Time for a new post to honor a good game from the Mets, beating the Reds 6-2 for a 2-2 split in the series. The Mets are strugging at home, if you can call 22-15 struggling, but are “King of the Road” this year with a 23-12 record on the road, second best in the majors. This is alot better than two years ago when they won the “Dead Possum Award” for being “roadkill” most of the year. Ths year, they should recieve the NL “Beep-Beep, Roadrunner” Award for most stolen bases in road games and the Bob Hope award for the best “road” pictures, capturing all those diving catches on film. Tomorrow they appear in Toronto (I’m in Canada now, so I have to watch what I say) but we expect they will continue to be “Road Warriors” there, which is their style this year. The Skydome is a nice comfortable place to watch a game. I went three years ago and some crowned prince threw out the first ball. Well, he had a nice BP fast ball but nothing matches the Duke with men on and no outs! I predict El Duque will lead the NL in at least two categories by the end of the season. If not, I’ll buy El Duque bobble head dolls for the first 10 callers.
In today’s home game, Pedro had 8 strikeouts to raise his season total to 110. Wright had two homers to bring his total to 17. His batting average is now .338, the highest it has been in months. If it was one point higher he’d finally make the MLB top ten in batting. Reyes stole 2 bases to bring his MLB leading totals to 32. We may see the second week in a row that Wright and Reyes share co-players of the week. Wright also has 93 hits now, still number two in the NL.
I’m on the road myself, doing one of my author tours, but able to follow the games by subscribing to GameDay, (with audio) which is a real blessing. Look for my next series of artices called “YOU GOTTA BELIEVE IT OR NOT!” in which I present some of my favorite MOST AMAZING METS STATS to date. For example did you know that the Mets are likely to pass the 1927 Murderers Row Yankees in homers (158 of them ) on August 17th. The Mets are hitting 1.35 homers per game and will pass the 1927 Yankees in their 118th game, going at their present pace, which is a road game against the Phils at 1:05 PM. That is unless you count this year’s ALL STAR game as a Mets game, but maybe I’m getting a little cocky! The following night August 18th is a home game against Colorado. Good night to go out to Shea and yell “Beat Those Yankees!” Only those who read METS YOU GOTTA BELIEVE IT OR NOT! will know what we’re talking about. That is, if they keep hitting those homers.
Here are Mets By the Numbers for June 20th: Pretty AMAZING stuff!
1. Here are eleven categories in which the Mets, either as individuals or as a team
are ranked number one in the stats as of June 20th: Please note that Reyes is number one in at least three categories, and also ranks first in at bats in the NL.
Martinez tied for #1 in NL in strikeouts with 102
Mets #1 in NLwith 373 runs scored
Mets #1 in NL with .620 win-loss percentage
Mets #1 inMLBwith 77 stolen bases
Mets #1in NL with 146 doubles
Glavine #1 with 10 wins
Reyes #1 in runs scored in NL with 59
Reyes #1 in triples in major leagues with 8
Reyes #1 in stolen bases in major leagues with 30
Tom Glavine #1 in majors in win-loss percentage with .833 (10-2)
Tom Glavine #1 in majors in wins with 10
2. Here are five ways the Mets are ranked #2 in the stats:
Mets #2 inNL with 356 RBIs
David Wright #2 in hits in NL with 90
Mets#2in MLB with 146 doubles
Wright and Beltran 2nd best RBI combo in majors with 110.
Martinez #2 in strikeouts in majors with 102
3. Here are three ways the Mets are number three in the stats:
Mets #3 inNL with 95 home runs
Mets#3 in majors with .620 win-loss percentage.
4. Here are two ways the Mets are number four in the stats:
Mets #4 in triples in NL with 16
Wright #4 in hits in major leagues with 90
5. Here are four ways the Mets ranks in the top five in Major League Baseball:
Mets#5 in MLB with 356 RBIs
Mets #5 in triples in MLBwith 16
Mets #5 in home runs in MLB with5
Mets #5 in MLB with 373 runs
6. David Wright is ranked sixth in the NL in two categories:
David Wright #6 in batting in NL with .330
David Wright and Beltran #6 in RBIs in NL with 55 each.
Reyes #7 in hits in NL with 83
Delgado #7 in homers in NL with 20
Notes on Mets for June 18th,
Yesterday, Chris Benson outpitched Pedro M, and seemed to have left thoughts of Anna Benson far behind. Now we could use him back. We should have traded Anna to the Orioles to weaken their resolve.
Anyway, it is a happy fathers day for the Mets and for David Wright. The Mets beat the Orioles at Shea, finally a win at home, by a score of 9 to 4, and David Wright went 3 for 4 with a Grand Slam and one other RBI. It was his 15th homer for the year and third career granny. I guess that was a present for his dad back in Hampton Roads. At this pace he will hit one a year and break the major league record by the age of 40. Chavez is batting .293, Milledge at.258, Franco at .333 (the oldest player to bat .333) Reyes is still at .270 and Wright is up to .336. It is a good day to be a Met fan! See June stats. for June 18. Happy fathers day all.
Mets showed strong in June with good marks in win-loss, RMI, and RPG.
Thursday June 1st NO GAME
Friday June 2nd Game with Giants postponed
L Saturday June 3rd, Mets 4 Giants 6
L Sunday June 4th, Mets 6 Giants 7
W Monday June 5th, Mets 4 Dodgers 1
L Tuesday June 6th Mets 5 Dodgers 8
W Wednesday June 7th, Mets 9 Dodgers 7
WThursday June 8th, Mets 7 Dodgers 1
W Friday, June 9th, Mets 10 Diamondbacks 6
W Saturday June 10th, Mets 5 Diamondbacks 0
W Sunday June 11th, Mets 15 Diamondbacks 2
Monday June 12th, NO GAME
WTuesday June 13th, Mets 9 Phillies 7
W Wednesday, June 14th, Mets 9 Phillies 3
W Thursday, June 15th, Mets 9 Phillies 3
L Friday, June 16th, Mets 3 Orioles 6
L Saturday, June 17th, Mets 2 Orioles 4
WSunday, June 18th, Mets 9 Orioles 4
L Monday June 19th Mets 2 Cincinnati 4
W Tuesday June 20, Mets 9 Cincinnati 2
L Wednesday June 21st Mets 5 Cincinnati 6
W Thursday June 22nd Mets 6 Cincinnati 2
W Friday June 23rd Mets 6 Toronto 1
L Saturday June 24th Mets 4 Toronto 7
W Sunday June 25th, Mets 7 Toronto 4
Monday no game
L Tuesday June 27th, Mets 4 Boston 9
L Wednesday June 28th, Mets 2 Boston 10
L Thursday June 29th, Mets 2 Boston 4
L Friday June 30th, Mets 0 Yankees 2
In the Month of June, the Mets outscored opponents to 153 to 125. They won 14 and lost 12, however 4 of these losses occurred at the end of the month, giving up 25 runs in four games, dropping them below .600 for the first time in the month. Their final runs margin percentage for June was .550. They scored 153 runs in 26 games for a RPG (runs per game) total of 5.88 runs
At June 22nd the team was at a high water mark, with a runs margin index of 1.68. Mets scored 128 of the 216 runs registered in these games for a RMI percentage of .593(An RMI % of .666 would mean they are outscoring their opponents by 2 to 1!) The Mets won loss at that point was 12 wins and 7 losses for a .631 winloss percentage. In those 19 games, they scored 128 runs, for a RPG (runs per game) average of 6.74. The opponents’ RPG was 4.63.
July runs margin
W Saturday July 1st, Mets 9 Yankees 3
L Sunday July 2nd, Mets 7 Yankees 16
The Battle of the Flops: An Historic Game In Spite of the Name
September 27th 1963 is a day that should be marked and circled in red in baseball history. It was intended by design to be the worst game ever played, an insult to the NY Mets “worst team in history,” as the now defunct Colt 45s sent a bunch of children out to play the hapless Mets. (Most of them were 17 and 18 year old teenagers, just old enough to drive the Metmobile!) The Mets defended their honor by destroying those little tykes 10 to 3. Unfortunately it was one of only 42 wins for the 1963 Mets. As luck would have it, those children, and some of those Mets, turned out to be World Series heroes within twelve years, many of whom had their major league debut on that night. Alot of great players, Hall of Famers, never played in the Fall Classic due to circumstances and sheer luck. The odds against any given rookie ending up in a World Series game are probably at least 100 to one. But this was a day of destiny. Let’s just say it was “amazing!”
Here is a summary. For all the details, see the long version in the archives.
Jimmy Wynn CF A rookie for the 45s that year, gawky little Jimmy was later traded to the Dodgers in 1974 and batted .271 with 108 RBIs, and 32 homers, scoring 104 runs for L.A. that year. He had 17 doubles and 18 stolen bases, making it his best all-around year. He had a .992 fielding percentage to go with that. The Dodgers won the NL West Pennant that year with 102 wins and 60 losses under Walter Alston. He came to bat 16 times in the World Series and hit one double and one home run. He ended his career with an impressive 291 homers lifetime, earning the nickname, “The Toy Cannon.”
Aaron Pointer RF: He came back to the majors to play for Houston in 1966 and batted .346 with a .500 slugging percentage. Not bad.
Rusty Staub was the name of the skinny, clown-haired 19 year old rookie first baseman for the 45s. When he was traded to the Montreal Expos in 1969, he exploded with 29 homers and a .302 average, knocking in 30 homers the following year. In 1971 he batted .311 with 97 RBIs, but that was not to be his best year. He was traded to a team called the Metse and in the 1973 league championship he hit all three Mets home runs, including two early in game three to help Koosman win and 5 RBIs in a five game series versus the Reds with 3 base on balls.
In the seven game match up versus the Oakland A’s he batted .423 with a .615 slugging percentage with one home run and two doubles and six RBIs. In the fourth game of that series, he had a perfect night, with a three run homer and three singles for a total of five of the Mets six ribbies. The A’s won. In 1975, still playing for the Mets, Staub had a career high of 105 RBIs., thanks to 19 homers and 30 doubles.
In 1976 he was traded to Detroit, and batted .299, and in 1977 had 34 doubles, 3 triples, 22 homers, 101 RBIs for the Tigers. In 1980 he went back to Texas and batted .300 for the Rangers. He rejoined the Mets again in 1981 and batted a career high .317. In 1983 he led the league with 24 pinch hits, and led the league again the following year with 18 pinch hits. He retired after 1985 season, with a lifetime total of 292 home runs, one more than former Houston teammate, Jimmy Wynn.
Joe Morgan, who had just had his twentieth birthday on the 19th of that month, had played his first game in the majors on the 21st, a nice birthday present. Now on the 27th of the same memorable month, he started at 2nd Base. He hit a triple! A skinny, undersized local boy, he had a lot to learn about baseball, but was brimming with talent and heart. Today, he is remembered as possibly the greatest second baseman ever to wear cleats. He came to the plate 8 times that year, batting .240 with no home runs, and one triple (which he hit that night facing the Mets, his first extra base hit in the bigs), one stolen base. In 1971, still with Houston, he led the league with 11 of those triples, but he still was an average hitter after nine years in the bigs. In his first year with the Reds, Joe Morgan scored a league leading 122 runs, with a league leading 115 walks, with a so-far career high .292 average and 16 home runs. The next year Joe hit 26 homers and 35 doubles. The following year, in 1974 Joe hit his so-far high average of .293, and had 31 doubles. In 1975 he batted an amazing .327 and led the league in walks again, with 132. That year he was 4th in batting average, 2nd in stolen bases. The following year, 1976, he led the league in slugging percentage, with .576, batting .320 that year with 27 homers. That year he was 5th in NL batting, 5th in home runs, 2nd in RBIs, 3rd in home run percentage, 2nd in walks, stolen bases, and runs scored. He was also tied for 5th in total bases. He batted .333 in the World Series that October, with a .733 slugging percentage and his first World Series homer. It was probably the best year any second baseman ever had. In 1983 he helped get the Phils to the World Series and hit two homers in that match-up.
He played in a total of seven league championships, and four World Series, (‘72, 75, 76, 83) His lifetime World Series mark of 7 stolen bases is 9th on the all-time list. His lifetime mark of 689 season stolen bases is 7th in history. His mark of 1865 walks is 3rd in history. Few players can match his 22 year record at any position, 2650 games. As a second baseman he is 2nd in games played, 4th in putouts, 3rd in assists, 3rd in chances, and 4th in double plays (1505).
Jerry Grote Catcher He played in the 1969 playoff series in which the Mets beat the Atlanta Braves 3 games to 0. Then he hit two doubles in the 1969 World Series versus the Orioles. The Mets won the 2nd game on two out singles in the ninth by Charles, Grote, and Weis. The Mets won game four on a tenth inning double by Grote, who scored on an error. In 1975 he put together a .295 batting average with 14 doubles and 5 triples for the Mets. In 1981 he played 22 games for the Kansas City Royals, and hit .304. What is interesting about Grote is that he played in four league championships, won four NL championship rings, and played in four World Series. Few players alive today have been in four World Series, not counting Yankees. In the 1973 World Series, he had 8 hits versus the A’s, playing alongside former Houston rookie teammate, Rusty Staub. He then played in two World Series for the Dodgers, in 1977 and 1978, playing a minor role in their back to back losses to the Yankees.
Bob Aspromote 3rd Base: The following year, he batted .280 with 12 home runs, 20 doubles, and 60 RBIs. He topped that in 1967, with a zingy .294 at the plate, with a solid .401 slugging average.
John Bateman Catcher. Bateman in 1966 he hit a respectable 17 homers for Houston, and then 15 for the Expos in 1970. That was in the pitching-heavy 60s!
Joe Hoerner Hoerner pitched 3 scoreless innings in his debut game for Houston that night, giving up two hits. It was his only appearance that year. He was part of the great 1968 St. Louis pitching staff, the best in modern history, and sported a 1.48 ERA and an 8-2 record out of the bullpen that year. In the World Series against the Tigers he pitched 4.7 innings and actually got a hit, striking out three but giving up three runs. He also appeared with the Cards in their classic World Series battle against the Boston Red Sox the year before, in 1967, a year in which he had an ERA of 2.59 with 50 strikeouts. His best year however, might have been 1966, also with the Cards. He went 5-1 in 76 innings, with 63 strikeouts against only 21 walks and a 1.54 ERA on the year.
In 1969 at the age of 32, he had a 2.87 ERA, then in 1970 lowered it to 2.65 then the following year (1971) to 1.97, with 57 strikeouts against 21 walks. He pitched 14 years overall with a 39-34 win loss record with 412 strikeouts versus 181 walks with an impressive lifetime 2.99 ERA. In short he was one of the best middle relievers of his era if not all time. Not exactly a flop.
The New York Mets
The “flop” New York Mets of 1963 had their share of future stars as well. It just took a little time in the sunlight to help them blossom into mature ballplayers.
Ron Hunt 2nd Base His biggest season was when he batted .309 for the fourth place Montreal Expos in 1973 with 10 stolen bases.
Charlie Neal had been in two World Series before joining the Mets. 1963 was his last year.
Duke Snyder: He hit 14 homers that year, but batted only .243. He was in many World Series games before becoming a Met.
Jim Hickman OF: In 1970 he batted .315 with 32 homers and 33 doubles for the Chicago Cubs under Leo Durocher, who finished second place behind the Pirates. Hickman went on to hit 159 career homers lifetime, with 560 RBIs and 25 triples, and retired after the 1974 season.
Ed Kranepool Kranepool went on to hit a home run in the legendary 1969 World Series and played in the Mets 1973 World Series as well. His peak seasons were 1974 through 1976. In 1974 he batted .300 with a league leading 17 pinch hits. In 1975 he batted .323. In 1976 he had 49 RBIs and batted .292 and 10 homers. Ed Kranepool became the living symbol of the Mets, raising his season average from .167 to .323 in his first 13 years. He played for 18 years with the Mets, and never worked for another team. He batted .286 in league championship play and hit 118 homers lifetime. He played in several All Star games as a Met.
Roger Craig He was traded the following year to St. Louis where he had a low 3.25 ERA with 84 strikeouts and two relief wins batting .208 at the plate. He helped them win the pennant, and pitched in scoreless relief in five World Series innings versus the Yankees. He even won game four with 4.2 innings of scoreless relief in a 4-3 game against the Yankees, giving up two hits, and tying the series 2 wins apiece, helping the Cards to win the series in seven against the homer slugging Yanks.
Craig had a respectable 803 strikeouts lifetime, with 7 career shutouts.
Al Jackson Pitcher He was traded to St. Louis in 1966, and had his best year, with a sparkling 2.51 ERA and 11 complete games and a total of 90 strike outs and 3 shutouts. In 1967, he went 9 and 4 but did not play in the World Series against the Red Sox.
Duke Snyder was probably the oldest player in “The Battle of the Flops,” but he too had been a World Series hero.
Why Were The Mets SO Much More Fun To Watch Last Year Than the Yankees? A Tongue-in-Cheek Statistical Analysis of Last Year’s Battle for New York
by Evan Pritchard, published by ACME The Association of Creative Mets Enthusiasts for amazine1.blogspot.com
(This article was published in February at our sister site AMAZINE1.BLOGSPOT.COM, and is being reprinted by my own personal popular demand.)
Why were the Mets so much more fun to watch than their cross-town cousins in 2005? You know what they say: “Base stealing, base stealing, base stealing!” Okay, so nobody says base-stealing is the only reason why people go to games, but they are exciting to watch, and the Mets were a better base-running team than the Yankees last year. And anyway, they say “Cheering for the Yankees to win is like investing in Microsoft, low risk, predictable return.” (This aphorism attributed to DLP) And the Gospel of Matthew says, “Blessed are the poor….in the field.” (Please excuse the slight truncation between Matt. 5 and 6.)
Which one of these guys would you buy a used stadium from? And who’s the most charismatic, exciting, high energy manager in New York? If you said Willie Randolph, you’d be a Mets fan!
Speaking of basestealing, the Mets were the second best in baseball last year. Okay so the Yanks had four players who went through the whole season without being thrown out, namely Bellhorn, Martinez, Lawton, (we taught him all he knows) and Posada, but those timid souls only tried seven times between them. And of course there’s that Reyes-wannabe Womack who went 27 for 32. But the Mets had the better base stealing team by far, led by Jose Reyes with a major league leading 60 stolen bases. Name the last Yankee to have 60 stolen bases in a season. (93 bases were indeed stolen in 1988 by Ricky Henderson, who was wearing a Yankee uniform at the time, due to a wardrobe malfunction, but that doesn’t count.) In fact, the Mets swiped a grand total of 153 bases in only 193 attempts. (Only caught 40 times) That gives us a stolen base percentage of 79.3%, second best in the majors. Those little rascals!
The Yankees stole only 84 bases and were caught red handed 27 times for a 75.7% success rate. If New York’s criminals had such poor success in stealing, our prisons would be filled and New York’s crime rate would be one of the lowest in the country…wait a minute, our prisons are overfilled, and our crime rate is lowering! Let’s blame Elliot Spitzer for that. But in any case, the Yankees eat the dust of the Mets swift runners, if only a light ephemeral cloud between first and second.
Speaking of swift-as-the-wind base-running, nothing in baseball is more exciting than triples, so why all the fuss about the Yankees? The Mets had 32 triples, double that of the hapless Yankees, who managed only 16. In fact, little Jose Reyes, with his 17 three-baggers, out-tripled the entire Yankee team single-handedly and with one leg tied behind his back!! And the next best thing to a triple is a double. The Mets in ’05 had 279 doubles, the Yankees only 259. (That’s twenty more doubles, a total of forty more bases. Doesn’t Steinbrenner pay those guys enough money to stretch a single into a double once in a while?) As the French say, “Viva la difference!”
What about the really dramatic stuff, the homers? Isn’t that why they call them the Bronx Bombers? In fact, yes! The steroid-abusing Yankees of course hit 229 homers. The Mets had only 175 homers. Not much by today’s standards, but in 1969, the Mets hit only 109 and won the World Series. But who wants to see all that testosterone anyway? You know what the fans want. “We wanna see pitching!” they cry from the stands, and rightly so.
Well the Mets had some great pitching this past season, a lot better than those guys from across the East River. Both teams had the same number of complete games, eight, but in most major categories, the Mets were superior. The Mets’ 2005 ERA was 3.76 (3rd in the NL and 8th best in the majors) with 599 earned runs and 135 homers with a total of 1012 strike outs.
The Yankees ERA was 4.52, 9th in the AL, and 22nd best in the majors! Their ERA was .76 runs worse than the Mets last year, that’s a run per seven inning game! (Wait, this isn’t Little League?) They gave up a total of 718 earned runs, 119 more runs than the Mets, which is a lot of runs. Hey, maybe that’s why their ERA is so high. The Yanks pitchers also gave up a total of 164 homers, which is 29 more homers than the Mets gave up. That’s ten more than either Jeter or Posada hit all year. Of course, one of the main yard sticks by which we measure pitching is by strikeouts, but the Yankees only managed only 985 of those, 27 less than the Mets, the number of outs in an entire game. The opposing batters’ on base percentage was .321 off the Mets while they got on base .332 of the time off the Yankees. The Mets WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) was 1.31 while the Yankees WHIP was 1.37, .06 points worse.
What’s more important in pitching than control? Yes, the rumors are true, the Mets really did lead the National League in least wild pitches with only 32, while the Yankees had 37. And our boys from Flushing only nipped 56 batters, while the violent Yankees’ pitchers creamed 84 batters during the same period of time. The Yankees balked 6 times during the year while the Mets balked only 4. The Yankees gave up 125 stolen bases, while the Mets gave up only 107. Are we starting to see a pattern here? You know it. The Mets are better, at least in the more arcane aspects of statistics, and in the statistics of the heart, the love they receive from Mets fans. And in the universal language of love we say, “Il faut que vous croyez!” (You gotta believe! S’il vous plait!) And we believe that this trend will continue in 2006.
Footnote: Of course we’re not saying the Mets were better than the Yankees in every category. There is one little category that isn’t even on the books it’s so arcane, and that’s what I call the “runs margin” index. The Yankees scored 789 runs, while the Mets scored only 648, a difference of 141. The Yanks gave up 718 earned runs while the Mets pitchers gave up only 599, a difference of 119. The Yankees scored 71 more runs than they gave up, while the Mets scored 49 more than they gave up. Any way you look at it, during the whole season, the Mets were only 22 behind the Yanks in the runs margin statistic, their weakest area. Just think if they had won each victory by one run, they could have been 49 games over .500. Oh, yes, and there was one other weak area….wins, but we won’t talk about that here, except to say that the Yanks 12 win margin was very deceptive. Don’t you agree?
The Year of the Tiger: 1968A Tribute to Mickey Lolich and Mad Anthony Wayne, Two Motown Heroes
By Evan Pritchard
Last summer I spent some time in Detroit with an old-time Tigers’ fan Bill Spaulding, (of Spaulding Electric and Wayne State fame) and we drove by the old stadium, watched a game at the new one, (which is next door to Ford Field, where this weekend’s superbowl will be played) and talked about 1968 like it was yesterday. I was remembering McLain’s amazing run of wins that year, and said, “Who were the other starters in the series?” He looked at me surprised, and said, “Mickey Lolich! He did the impossible for the Tigers in the World Series. McLain was okay, but Lolich…now that was AMAZING!” That’s all he said.
He lent me a Tigers’ history book, such as one would only find in Detroit, but I got sidetracked with answering my own trivia question, which neither of us could remember: “Who was the third member of ‘The G Men?” (Greenberg, Gehringer, and Goose Goslin, in 1934) Most fans don’t remember that Goslin, who started with the old Senators in 1921, batted .344 in the 1924 Series, .308 in the 1925 series, and .250 in the 1933 series, all the Senators’ series in fact, and spent some time in St. Louis, was still in baseball then and was a G Man with the Tigers through 1937. Looking up Goslin, I forgot to look up Lolich’s stats in the 68 series.
Lolich was, in a nutshell, the “Mad Anthony Wayne” of baseball. Wayne was a man who had a lot to do with the establishment of the city of Detroit and the man for whom its largest college is named. Revolutionary War general Wayne won the battle of Stony Point in New York against impossible odds, marching all night without rest, storming an impenetrable British fortress, heavily armed, and taking the fort, and raising the colonial pennant above the parapet. It helped win the Revolution for the Americans. Lolich, on very little rest, stormed an impenetrable St. Louis Cardinals offense, a team that was heavily armed with Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, and Nelson Briles, deep inside Cardinal Stadium, and it helped the American League win the World Series and the 1968 championship flag.
We all know 1969 was the year of the Amazing Mets, and the World Series was the clash of the Titans as far as pitching was concerned. Both teams had three great starters and great bullpens. The Mets had Koosman, Seaver, and Gentry, with Nolan Ryan in the pen. The O’s had Cuellar, McNally, and Palmer, with Dave Leonard (and Watt) in the pen. That story will be retold elsewhere.
But what about the year before? What World Series was fresh in the minds of the populace as the Fall Classic started in 1969? Another upset! The Tigers versus the Cards! 1968 was the Year of the Pitcher. It was amazing that the Tigers were able to break the three-starter rule, and went into St.Looie with only two, Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich. That season, McLain was pretty fabulous, leading the AL with 31 wins, .838 win percentage, 28 complete games, and 336 innings pitched, while coming in second with 1.69 walks per game, and 280 strikeouts. His season ERA was 1.96, but in the year of the pitcher, that was only good enough for fourth place behind Tiant, McDowell and McNally. To draw attention to himself, McLain fed the pitch to Mantle that became his 535th homer, placing Mantle 3rd on the all-time list. McLain won that game, his 31st, of the season, placing him on another list, and noone has matched it since.
Mickey Lolich was pretty good too. He was 17-9 with 8 complete games, 197 strike outs, and an ERA of 3.19, just an average year for him—in some ways below average, but typical stats for a number two World Series starter. As long as McLain could “Chicago” St. Louis for Detroit, they’d have a shot. They were counting on McLain to win three, and Lolich maybe one.
How good was the competition on the mound that year? The team ERAs for that year were like none other in modern history: Tied for first as the ERA leaders in the AL were Cleveland and Baltimore with an ERA of 2.66. Third best in pitching was Detroit with 2.71, next was Chicago with 2.75, then New York fifth with 2.79, then the Twins, sixth with 2.89, then Oakland seventh with 2.94. How Frank Howard (later manager of the Mets for a few months) hit 44 homers that year is amazing.
The NL pitching was just about as good, maybe better; St. Louis, with Gibson, Carlton, and Briles, as their three super starters, and Hoerner, their superlative reliever, were the best pitching unit in the majors with a 2.49 ERA (the best in modern history; since 1920, only the ’72 Orioles come closest with 2.53, then the Cardinals of 1942 with 2.55) Second best in ERA was the LA Dodgers with .269, then the Giants with a .271ERA, the New York Mets with .272, Pittsburgh Pirates fifth with .274, and Atlanta sixth with .292. By the way, the fifth best team ERAs in both leagues that year were better than those of any team since, with the exception of 1981, the strike-split season, and 1972, the Other Year of the Pitcher.
So how did the Tigers, with only two stellar starters, beat the best pitching fleet in modern baseball history? A regiment of Red Coats led by none other than Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA, best since 1914? According to McLain, it was all thanks to Pepsi. (no popups or banners please). In fact, Mickey Lolich, the southpaw that refreshes, won three starts when McClain’s Pepsi lost its fizz. McLain and Mickey Lolich started three games apiece, which is remarkable in itself, but Lolich won all three, and McLain only got through one. It isn’t unheard of for a #1 pitcher to get three wins, but for a #2 guy, that’s amazing. To do so, he had to become the fourth starter by pitching the seventh game (instead of Wilson) on three days’ rest, against Gibson in the Battle of Cardinal Stadium.
McLain had lost the first game 4-0 to Gibson’s shutout. Lolich won the second giving up only a run in the sixth. Briles gave up three homers, and the final score was 8-1. The third starter, for the game at Detroit, was a guy named Earl Wilson, who gave up 3 runs, plus 6 walks and was pulled in the fifth, a four run inning that blew a 2-0 Tigers lead, and the game. That one ended 7-3. The fourth game was again McLain versus Gibson and again Denny didn’t have that “pick-me-up taste” and was gone by the end of the third. Gibson had one of his greatest outings, striking out ten and hitting a home run. The Tigers fell behind 3 games to 1 and faced elimination.
In the first inning of the fifth game, matched against Nelson Briles (2.81 with 19 wins and 141 strikeouts for the Cards) Lolitch gave up a home run to Orland Cepeda and three runs, and it looked bad for the Tigers. If they didn’t score at least four off of Briles it was all over. There was no great closer in the bullpen (Pat Dobson was 5-8, in spite of a 2.66 ERA; Fred Lasher? Who’s that?) And if they did win, who would pitch the sixth game in St. Louis if not McClain, now 0 and 2? McLain had lasted only 2+ innings last time, (only 72 hours or so before) and it used up the bullpen. And then who would pitch the seventh game against the world’s most dominating pitcher Bob Gibson? 34 year old Robert Earl Wilson? Ouch! I don’t think so! The Tigers’ chances were about 100 to 1. In fact the Red Sox had been in a similar jam a year earlier, against this same pitching staff, and failed miserably in the seventh game trying to stretch Jim Lomborg’s arm out over 72 hours against Gibson.
Fortunately for the Tigers, they had a skipper named Mayo Smith, who had been managing in the bigs on and off since 1955, and knew his pitchers, and apparently knew something about Lolich no one else in the stadium knew. That this guy had bollocks the size of Spaulding autographed baseballs. He knew Lolich like George Washington knew the little-known Anthony Wayne, who gave him an unthinkable task on which the fate of the nation teetered. Mayo Smith kept Lolich in!
As it turned out, the odds were turned upside-down, when Lolich went on to pitch 16 consecutive scoreless World Series innings, a la Christie Mathewson, Babe Ruth, Nolan Ryan, Orel Hirshiser, and other Hall of Famers, but he did all that in just over 72 hours, and helped the Tigers win the championship, in pretty much the same situation that had ruined the Red Sox a year earlier. The only pitcher I can think of that got so many World Series outs in such a short time was back in 1905, when Christie Mathewson pitched 27 consecutive shutout innings between October 9th and October 14th, a span of 6 days. That was a different era; if that series had happened any longer ago, it might have been mentioned in the Old Testament!
How did it happen? The Tigers won that fifth game 5-3, knocking Briles out in the 7th, then went back to St. Louis and won the sixth behind McLain, 13 to 1, knocking Washburn out in the 10 run 3rd inning, taking the pressure off Denny and making the seventh game a necessity. The problem was that Smith had no more pitchers. Again he looked to Mad Mickey Lolich.
The seventh game was a thriller, forcing Lolich to pitch a complete game on October 10th on little rest after a complete game on October 7th. Both teams went scoreless through the sixth, but in the top of the seventh, the Tigers broke through the wall against Gibson with three, and then another in the top of the ninth, to make the score 4-0. Lolich was really exhausted, but he was working on a four hit shutout. Mike Shannon hit a solo cannon shot in the bottom of the ninth, and it stopped Lolitch’s scoreless streak and his shutout, but he closed the door and won his third series game, 4-1. That last out was celebrated in downtown Detroit for weeks.
In the annals of World Series pitching, there are very few examples where one man played so far above his season par that he reversed the probable outcome of a World Series. Lolich’s World Series ERA was 1.67 in 27 World Series innings, about half his season average of 3.19. Bob Gibson also pitched 1.67 in 27 World Series innings that year, exactly the same stats. For him, however, that was higher than his average, and the result was a pitching upset like few before or since, an upset comparable perhaps only to the battle of Stony Point, in 1778, where Mad Anthony Wayne’s suicide squeeze paid off with a routing of the Red Coats and a victory for the American League.
Fan Mail from Tigers Fan
Year of the Tiger (see archives) Question: Was the seventh game of the 1968 World Series played in St. Louis or Detroit? I became a Tigers Fan in 1968 and have been trying to find out more about that bunch? Signed Anonymous
The seventh game of that AMAZING series was played in St. Louis, with Mickey Lolich on two days rest against the mighty Bob Gibson. It was 0-0 through six, a one-hitter for Gibson, but there are no ties in baseball, someone had to lose. In the top of the seventh, the heart of the Tigers offense finally broke Gibson. It was a case of Two Out Madness, as after two outs, Norm Cash got a hit, then Willie Horton got a hit, then Jim Northrup got a triple, then Freehand doubled. Three runs scored, and the Cards never caught up.
I remember it was at Cardinal Stadium because of my analogy of Lolich with Mad Anthony Wayne, a founder of Detroit, as Wayne became famous for invading an impenetrable British fortress with lots of armed redcoats standing watch. For Lolich to flatten the Cards in their bright red home uniforms was equally “Mad!”