Thursday, October 16, 2014

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Award Predictions Part II

In my last post, I made my first round of year end award predictions as required by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. Where the last post focused on the Connie Mack (Manager of the Year) and Willie Mays (Rookie of the Year) awards, these predictions focus on the Goose Gossage (Reliever of the Year) award, the Walter Johnson (Pitcher of the Year) and the Stan Musial (MVP) awards. As with the last post, I will only place my choices here for today and when the awards are announced after the World Series will I give thoughts into the award winners.

Goose Gossage (Reliever of the Year)
American League
  1. Greg Holland (Kansas City Royals)
  2. Dellin Betances (New York Yankees)
  3. Zach Britton (Baltimore Orioles)

National League
  1. Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta Braves)
  2. Mark Melacon (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  3. Aroldis Chapman (Cincinnati Reds)

Walter Johnson (Pitcher of the Year)
American League
  1. Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners)
  2. Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians)
  3. Max Scherzer (Detroit Tigers)
  4. Matt Shoemaker (Los Angeles Angels)
  5. Phil Hughes (Minnesota Twins)

National League
  1. Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers)
  2. Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals)
  3. Johnny Cueto (Cincinnati Reds)
  4. Doug Fister (Washington Nationals)
  5. Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco Giants)

Stan Musial Award (Most Valuable Player)
American League
  1. Victor Martinez (Detroit Tigers)
  2. Nelson Cruz (Baltimore Orioles)
  3. Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)
  4. Jose Altuve (Houston Astros)
  5. Adam Jones (Baltimore Orioles)
  6. Michael Brantley (Cleveland Indians)
  7. Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox)
  8. Robinson Cano (Seattle Mariners)
  9. Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers)
  10. Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians)

National League
  1. Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers)
  2. Jonathan Lucroy (Milwaukee Brewers)
  3. Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants)
  4. Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins)
  5. Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals)
  6. Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  7. Justin Morneau (Colorado Rockies)
  8. Josh Harrison (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  9. Hunter Pence (San Francisco Giants)
  10. Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals)

When the results of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance are all announced, I'll return to the predictions and see how my choices matched up with my fellow alliance members.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#baseballsisco
#baseballsiscokidstyle

Friday, October 10, 2014

Connie Mack (Manager of the Year) and Willie Mays (Rookie of the Year) Predictions

With the MLB playoffs in full swing, I've decided to come back to the present. As you've undoubtedly noted, my blog has taken quite the historical path as of late. But since I think I am going to devote the in-season time to historical events that happened in Baseball on a daily basis, during the postseason and offseason, I think I am going to reside in the present and give Doc Brown and the Delorean a break ;)

For today I wanted to shed some light on the year end award voting for the 2014 MLB season. One of the requirements for membership in the Baseball Bloggers Alliance is for members to vote in the form of a blogpost and all the votes are collected and tabulated by the Alliance. Today's post is devoted to the Connie Mack (Manager of the Year) and Willie Mays (Rookie of the Year) awards. Now I will only place my choices here for today and when the awards are announced after the World Series will I give thoughts into the award winners.

Connie Mack Award (Manager of the Year)
American League

  1. Ned Yost (Kansas City Royals) 
  2. Lloyd McClendon (Seattle Mariners)
  3. Mike Scioscia (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)

National League

  1. Matt Williams (Washington Nationals)
  2. Clint Hurdle (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  3. Don Mattingly (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Willie Mays Award (Rookie of the Year)
American League

  1. Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox)
  2. Yordano Ventura (Kansas City Royals)
  3. Dellin Betances (New York Yankees)

National League

  1. Jason deGrom (New York Mets)
  2. Joe Panik (San Francisco Giants)
  3. Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati Reds)
Will my predictions match the actual results of the votes for the Manager and Rookie of the Year Awards? We'll have to wait for the official announcements to see.


Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#baseballsisco
#baseballsiscokidstyle


Friday, October 3, 2014

Steve Carlton wins 27th game for the Philadephia Phillies October 3, 1972

On this day in Baseball History October 3, 1972: Steve Carlton of the Philadelphia Phillies wins his 27th game of the season against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field by the score of 11-1 en route to a 27-10 record with a 1.97 ERA. What's astounding of Carlton's National League Cy Young Award performance of 1972 is that his 27 wins were almost half of the entire 59 wins that the Phillies put up in 1972. Here is the boxscore for the October 3, 1972 game between the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field from the October 4, 1972 edition of the New York Times:

Carlton would lead the league with 310 strikeouts with 87 walks, a league leading 257 hits allowed in 346.1 innings pitched for a WHIP of 0.993. Carlton made 41 starts with 30 complete games, both league bests. He would finish the season with eight straight complete games and 17 complete games in his last 19 starts.

Carlton would be the unanimous NL Cy Young Award winner, garnering every first place vote. This would be the first of four NL Cy Young Awards for Carlton.

He would be the last pitcher to win 27-games until Bob Welch would went 27-6 for the Oakland Athletics in 1990. Will we ever see a pitcher win 27-games? Its hard to tell with pitchers being on strict pitch counts and a five and sometimes six man rotation. Pitchers just don't make 40+ starts in a season anymore. I wouldn't bet on it happening anytime soon.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#baseballsisco
#baseballsiscokidstyle

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Steve Carlton's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click here to access the article Carlton Captures No. 27 As Phils Rout Cubs, 11-1 from the New York Times dated October 4, 1972
- Click here to access the official Steve Carlton website


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Bob Gibson Fans 17 Tigers in Game One of the World Series October 2, 1968

On this day in Baseball History October 2, 1968: In the first game where the eventual two league Most Valuable Players pitched against each other, St. Louis Cardinals ace Bob Gibson defeated Denny McLain 4-0 in Game One of the 1968 World Series while striking out a World Series record 17 batters. 

Gibson came into the Series with a 22-9 record and a miniscule 1.12 ERA (How did Gibson lose nine games with an ERA that low?) in 34 games started with 28 complete games and 13 shutouts. Gibson struck out a league leading 268 batters, while walking 62, giving up 198 hits in 304.2 innings pitched for a league leading WHIP of 0.853.

McLain came into the Series with a 31-6 record and a 1.94 ERA in 41 games started with 28 complete games and 6 shutouts. McClain struck out 280 batters while walking 63 and giving up 241 hits in a league leading 336 innings pitched for a WHIP 0.905.

Both pitchers would win their respective league Cy Young and Most Valuable Player award. This was the matchup to open the 1968 World Series.

Gibson held up to his end of the bargain by breaking Sandy Koufax's World Series record of 15 strikeouts that he set in the 1963 World Series against the New York Yankees. What was even more impressive was Gibson's performances in the World Series up to this point. The article ST. LOUIS WINS, 4-0, IN SERIES OPENER by Joseph Durso of the New York Times dated October 3, 1968 states:
By winning his sixth straight game in three Series in five years, he tied the record set by Lefty Gomez and Red Ruffing of the Yankees between 1932 and 1942.
By working his sixth straight complete game in Series competition, he broke the record set by Ruffing for pitchers who finish what they start when the money is on the table 
Here is the boxscore to Game One of the 1968 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals from the October 3, 1968 edition of the New York Times:


Not to let down the viewing public, Gibson would pitch two more complete games in the 1968 World Series during games four and seven where he would strike out 10 and 8 batters respectively. Gibson would lose Game 7 of the World Series finishing with a career 7-2 record in three World Series (1964, 1967, 1968). In nine starts, Gibson would throw EIGHT complete games. His first World Series start in Game Two of the 1964 World Series against the Yankees was an eight inning start while Game Five was a ten inning complete game. In 81 World Series innings pitched, Gibson put up a 1.89 ERA with 92 strikeouts, 17 walks and 55 hits for a World Series WHIP of 0.889.

McLain on the other hand would only last six innings in Game One though he would vindicate himself with a pivotal victory in Game Six on two days rest after losing his first two World Series starts to Gibson.

On an aside, to answer my question from earlier in the post: How did Gibson lose nine games with an ERA that low? I'm not sure where and when I found this chart, but it shows us how he indeed lost those nine games in 1968:


Gibson goes down as one of the best pitchers ever in World Series history. I say World Series and not Postseason since in his day the World Series was the only round of the PostSeason as compared to today's four rounds including the World Series. Will we see a performance like Gibson's in this year's World Series? We'll have to wait until the Fall Classic begins to see if it happens.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#baseballsisco
#baseballsiscokidstyle

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Bob Gibson's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click here to access Denny McLain's career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click here to access the article Sports of The Times: Gibson Versus McLain by Robert Lipsyte from the October 3, 1968 edition of the New York Times
- Click here to access the article Cool Pitcher and Victor Over Pain: Robert Gibson from the October 3, 1968 edition of the New York Times
- Click here to access the article Gibson Unaware of Breaking Record Until Message Flashes on Scoreboard by George Vecsey from the October 3, 1968 edition of the New York Times

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Roger Maris Hits His 61st Home Run October 1, 1961

On this day in Baseball History October 1, 1961: Roger Maris of the New York Yankees hit his 61st home run of the season in the fourth inning off of rookie starter Tracy Stallard in a 1-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox. In doing so, Maris broke Babe Ruth's record of 60 home runs which was set in 1927. Maris' achievement came with some controversy. The article Maris Hits 61st in Final Game from the October 2, 1961 edition of the New York Times states:
Ruth's record, of course, will not be erased. On July 17, Commissioner Ford C. Frick ruled that Ruth's record would stand unless bettered within a 154-game limit, since that was the schedule in 1927. Maris his fifty-nine homers in the Yanks' first 154 games to a decision. He hit his sixtieth four games later.

However, Maris will go into the record book as having hit the sixty-first in a 162-game schedule.

Maris finished the season with 590 official times at bat. Ruth, in 1927, had 540 official times at bat. Their total appearances at the plate, however, were nearly identical--698 for Maris and 692 for Ruth.

According to the official baseball rules, a batter is not charged with an official time at bat when "he hits a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly, is awarded first base on four called balls, is hit by a pitched ball or is awarded first base because of interference or obstruction."

Though it had taken 162 games (actually, 163, since the Yankees played one tie), a player finally had risen from the ranks to pass Ruth's majestic record. Maris himself missed only two of these games, although he sat out a third without coming to bat, when, after playing the first inning in the field, he was bothered by something in his eye.
Here is the boxscore to the October 1, 1961 Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees game from the October 2, 1961 edition of the New York Times:


The last two players to come close to the 154-game record set by Ruth was Jimmie Foxx in 1932 and Hank Greenberg in 1938 who both came up two homers short of tying the 60 home run record. For an interesting take on the whole Roger Maris/Babe Ruth home run record asterisk, I recommend that you read the article Roger Maris and the Myth of the Asterisk by Allen Barra from the Jockbeat Blogs of the Village Voice dated June 27, 2011.

Maris would win his second consecutive American League MVP award with a league leading 61 home runs, 141 runs batted in and 132 runs scored. Here is a breakdown of all 61 home runs by Roger Maris from the October 2, 1961 New York Times:


And if you haven't check out Billy Crystal's movie 61*. Let me know what you think of it.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#baseballsisco
#baseballsiscokidstyle

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Roger Maris' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click here to access the article Angry King of Swat: Roger Eugene Maris from the October 2, 1961 edition of the New York Times
- Click here to access the official Roger Maris website

Monday, September 29, 2014

Willie Mays Makes The Catch During Game One of the World Series September 29, 1954

On this day in Baseball History September 29, 1954: With Game One of the 1954 World Series underway at the Polo Grounds, the stage was set for one of the most dramatic catches in Baseball History. The Cleveland Indians were coming off of an impressive 1954 campaign where they compiled a 111-43 record. Their opponents were the New York Giants who won the National League pennant with a 97-57 record. Indians first-baseman Vic Wertz was virtually the offense for the Indians finishing the game 4-for-5, for half of the Indians hits for the day, with a double and a triple that drove in the two runs scored by the Indians.

It was the top of the eighth inning in front of 52,751 spectators when Vic Wertz made his way up to the plate with two runners on against Giants reliever Don Liddle. To get an idea of how amazing this play way, I'll let the writing of John Drebinger in his article Giants Win in 10th From Indians 5-2, On Rhodes' Home Run from the September 30, 1954 edition of the New York Times tell the tale:
Wertz connected for another tremendous drive that went down the center of the field 450 feet, only to have Willie Mays make one of his amazing catches. 
Traveling on the wings of the wind, Willie caught the ball directly in front of the green boarding facing the right-center bleachers  and with his back still to the diamond
Here is how the newspaper captured the catch in four images:

To see the play unfold in real time, check out the following video:



The Giants would hold off the Indians and win the game on a three-run walkoff home run by Pinch hitter James "Dusty" Rhodes off of twenty-three game winner Bob Lemon. The Giants would ride the momentum of this victory and sweep the Cleveland Indians 4-0 to win their last World Series in the city of New York.

Though many of today's fans will think this catch to be passé and ordinary (read the comments after the video on the YouTube page for more proof of this), this catch came at the hands of a 21-year old rookie who on the biggest sports stage of them all caught the ball with his back to the field, running full speed ahead and arcing his head back to see the ball and then fired the ball in keeping the two runs on base from scoring. I know haters are going to hate but damn.

What did Willie Mays think of this play? The interview of Willie Mays from the Academy of Achievement website has Mays telling us in his own words about this play:
I think the key to that particular play was the throw. I knew I had the ball all the time. In my mind, because I was so cocky at that particular time when I was young, whatever went in the air I felt that I could catch. That's how sure I would be about myself. When the ball went up I had no idea that I wasn't going to catch the ball. As I'm running -- I'm running backwards and I'm saying to myself, "How am I going to get this ball back into the infield?" I got halfway out. As I'm catching the ball I said, "I know how I'm going to do it." I said, "You stop..." -- I'm visualizing this as I'm running. It's hard to tell people that -- what I'm doing as I'm running. I know people say, "You can't do all that and catch a ball." I said, "Well, that's what I was doing. Okay?" I was running, I was running. I'm saying to myself, "How am I going to get this ball back in the infield? "So now as I catch the ball -- if you watch the film close -- I catch the ball, I stop immediately, I make a U-turn. Now if I catch the ball and run and turn around -- Larry Doby which is on second, Al Rosen on first -- Larry can score from second. Because Larry told me -- I didn't see this, Larry had told me many times -- "I was just about home when you caught the ball, I had to go back to second and tag up and then go to third." So he would have scored very easily. So I said, well -- as I'm running, I've got to stop and make a complete turn. You watch the film and you'll see what I'm talking about. I stopped very quickly, made a U-turn, and when I threw the ball I'm facing the wall when the ball is already in the infield. So when you talk about the catch, more things went into the play than the catch. The throw was the most important thing because only one guy advanced, and that was Larry, from second to third. Al was still on first. And that was the key. To me it was the whole World Series.
Want to see a different view of the catch to see how hard it must have been for Mays? The article Photo of Day II: An uncommon angle on 'The Catch' by Willie Mays by Dayn Perry of the CBSSports Eye on Baseball page dated January 10, 2014 shows us the following view:



Folks, this is not an ordinary catch. That's all I have to say.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#baseballsisco
#baseballsiscokidstyle

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access the 1954 Cleveland Indians page from Baseball Reference.com
- Click here to access the 1954 New York Giants page from Baseball Reference.com


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ted Williams Finishes With a .406 Batting Average September 28, 1941

On this day in Baseball History September 28, 1941: Entering the last day of the 1941 season, Ted Williams led the league with a .39955 batting average. Sitting out the doubleheader to end the season against the Philadelphia Athletics would have given Williams a .400 average. Instead of being given the achievement, Williams decided to play both games going 4 for 5 in the first game and 2 for 3 in the second game finishing the season with a .4057 batting average rounded up to .406. In doing so, Williams became the first Major League to hit .400 or more since Bill Terry of the New York Giants hit .401 in 1930. Williams became the first American League player to hit .400 or more since Harry Heilman did so in 1923.

The article Star Gets 6 Hits As Red Sox Split from the September 29, 1941 edition of the New York Times states:
Williams made his thirty-seventh home run and three singles in five chances in the opener, and a double and a single in three attempts in the second encounter.

For the season he batted in 120 runs, scored 135 and walked 151 times. He struck out twenty-six times. Williams is the sixth American Leaguer to bat .400. Nap Lajoie, Ty Cobb, George Sisler, Joe Jackson and Heilman were the others. Jackson hit .408 for Cleveland in 1911, but lost the batting title to Cobb, who finished with .420.
Here are the boxscores for the two games played by the Boston Red Sox against the Philadelphia Athletics on September 28, 1941:


What did Ted Williams think about his chase for .400? On pages 85 and 89-90 of the book My Turn At Bat: The Story of my Life by Ted Williams with John Underwood, Williams describes what he felt that fateful day:
It came to the last day of the season, and by now I was down to .39955, which according to the way they do it, rounds out to an even .400. We had a doubleheader left at Philadelphia. I'd slumped as the weather got cooler, from a high of .436 in June, down to .402 in late August, then up again to .413 in September. In the last ten days of the season my average dropped almost a point a day. Now it was barely .400. The night before the game Cronin offered to take me out of the lineup to preserve the .400. They used to do that. Foxx lost a batting championship to Buddy Myer one year when he sat out the last game and Myer got two hits.

I told Cronin I didn't want that. If I couldn't hit .400 all the way I didn't deserve it. It sure as hell meant something to me then

Now it was the last day of the 1941 season, and it turned up cold and miserable in Philadelphia. It had rained on Saturday and the game had been rescheduled as part of a Sunday doubleheader. They still had 10,000 people in Shibe Park, I suppose a lot of them just curious to see if The Kid really could hit .400. I have to say that I felt good despite the cold. And I know just about everybody in the park was for me. As I came to bat for the first time that day, the Philadelphia catcher, Frankie Hayes, said, "Ted, Mr. Mack told us if we let up on you he'll run us out of baseball. I wish you all the luck in the world, but we're not giving you a damn thing."

Bill McGowan was the plate umpire, and I'll never forget it. Just as I stepped in, he called time and slowly walked around the plate, bent over and began dusting it off. Without looking up, he said, "To hit .400 a batter has got to be loose. He has got to be loose."

I guess I couldn't have been much looser. First time up I singled off Dick Fowler, a liner between first and second. Then I hit a home run, then I hit two more singles off Porter Vaughn, a left-hander who was new to me, and in the second game I hit one off the loudspeaker horn in right field for a double. For the day I would up six for eight. I don't remember celebrating that night, but I probably went out and had a chocolate milk shake. During the winter Connie Mack had to replace the horn.
The last player to come close to the .400 plateau was Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres. Gwynn hit .3938 during the strike shortened 1994 season. The last player to come close during a full season was George Brett of the Kansas City Royals. Brett hit .3898 during the 1980 season.

Williams narrowly missed winning the American League Triple Crown (2nd in RBI to Joe DiMaggio's 125 RBI) and would follow his 1941 campaign with the American Triple-Crown in the 1942 season. He would be the runner up in the American League MVP race to Joe DiMaggio and Joe Gordon of the Yankees. Williams would join the war effort, losing three full seasons before returning to play in the 1946 season where he continued with his hitting finally winning the American League MVP award. Williams was truly an amazing player and I wish that I had the opportunity to have watched him play in person.

Getting four hits out of every ten at-bats over the course of an entire season is a daunting task. Hitting .400 for the season, let alone reaching Williams' .406 seems to be one of those records that will probably not get broken in this era of free swinging hitters, batters who don't choke up and defend the plate with two strikes and high strikeout totals. Will we ever see .400 or more in our lifetime? I wouldn't bet on it but with the game of baseball, you just never can tell.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco
#baseballsisco
#baseballsiscokidstyle

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Ted Williams' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click here to access the article What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now? by Richard Ben Cramer from Esquire Magazine dated January 8, 2013 originally published in the June 1986 issue of Esquire