Saturday, November 15, 2014

2014 Most Valuable Player Awards

Ok, so I'm a couple of days late with this post. Now that I am back at work, writing time has been curtailed for things like work and sleep. The nerve. But here are my thoughts on the 2014 MVP vote.

-2014 American League MVP Award
Mike Trout's elusive career long chase for the American League is over!!!! Granted this is only his fourth season in the league, but after playing the bridesmaid the last two seasons to the two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, Trout brings the trophy home to New Jersey having received all 30 first place votes. In doing so, Trout at the age of 23 is the youngest to win the AL MVP in unanimous fashion.

Trout received all 30 first-place votes and 420 points. Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers came in second with 229 points and Michael Brantley of the Cleveland Indians came in third with 185 points. The voting was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Trout is first player to win the AL award unanimously since Ken Griffey Jr. did so in 1997. Trout is the second ever to win it after two consecutive second-place finishes. Mickey Mantle was the first to do so with his runner up seasons for AL MVP in 1960-1961 and his MVP season of 1962 (Mantle had already won the award twice back-to-back in 1956-1957).

Trout is the third Angels player to win the MVP award after Don Baylor in 1979 and Vladimir Guerrero in 2004.

Looking at Trout's statistics, I find something interesting.

Could this be the first time that an MVP award winner has a season with significantly lower numbers than his previous runner up season? Look at Trout's statistics, courtesy of Baseball Reference's Mike Trout page:

This is no way saying that Trout did not have an MVP type season. He definitely did. But there is no denying that his numbers dropped compared to his freshman and sophomore seasons. While Trout had the same number of doubles and triples this season  and he hit 9 more home runs and drove in 14 more runs in 2014 (36/114) than he did in 2013, he a had glaring drop in batting average from .323 to .287. He had more at-bats this season than last (602-589) but also had less hits this season compared to last season (173-190). Trout led the league in both runs scored (115) and total bases (338).

What stands out to me is the significant rise in strikeouts. Where Trout was consistent in the 130 strikeout range in 2012 and 2013, he struck out 48 more times to finish at 184. At the same time, his walks dropped from 110 in 2013 to 83 in 2014. His slash line (.377/.561/.939) while consistent in the Slugging Percentage portion ..557-.561 his on base percentage dropped from .432 to .377.

Again, I'm not saying Trout didn't have an MVP time season. He did. Could the dips in his stats be a one season thing or is it a sign of things to come. Maybe pitchers have found a weakness in Trout's armor? Who really knows but it is something that has been mentioned before. Ben Lindbergh's article Scorsese’s Oscar: Mike Trout Finally Won the MVP, But Could He Already Be in Decline? from dated November 14, 2014 touches on this and other potential factors for Trout winning the 2014 MVP award. Its definitely an interesting read.

- Click Here to access Mike Trout's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access the article Angels' Mike Trout, 23, wins MVP from dated November 13, 2014

- 2014 National League MVP Award
After I thought I couldn't say anything more about the two-time reigning National League Cy Young Award Winner Clayton Kershaw, wouldn't you know I forgot three letters: M.V.P.!!!! I know this pisses off many purists who don't think a pitcher should win the Most Valuable Award since pitchers have their own specific award: the Cy Young Award. Well, technically the hitters have their own award as well, known as the Hank Aaron Award. According to's listing for Hank Aaron Award Winners:
Awarded annually to the best overall offensive performer in both leagues, the award was introduced in 1999 to mark the 25th anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's all-time home run record. Aaron, along with a panel of other Hall of Famers, determine the winners along with a fan vote.
Giancarlo Stanton was the 2014 recipient of the award. So based on that, the MVP is open to all players. Even pitchers. Hate to disappoint the purists but not only is Kershaw two-time reigning National League Cy Young Award Winner but now he is also the 2014 National League Most Valuable Player.

Kershaw received 18 out of 30 first-place votes and 355 points to win the award. Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins came in second with 8 out of 30 first-place votes and 298 points with Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates coming in third with 4 out of 30 first-place votes and 271 points. The voting was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kershaw is the first NL pitcher to win both the Cy Young and MVP awards in the same season since Bob Gibson achieved the feat in the magical year of 1968. He is the fourth National League pitcher overall to do so with Dodger pitchers Don Newcombe doing it first in the history of MLB in 1956 and Sandy Koufax in 1963. Kershaw is also the first pitcher league-wide since Justin Verlander to win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season since 2011.

With his third NL Cy Young Award in four years and now the 2014 NL MVP Award in his trophy case, Kershaw is making himself quite the convincing case of being the best in-season starting pitcher of our generation, all at the tender age of 26.

- Click Here to access Clayton Kershaw's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access the article Clayton Kershaw wins NL MVP from dated November 14, 2014

Both league MVP are under the age of 30 and the sky is the proverbial limit on what we can see both players do in the years to come.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Thursday, November 13, 2014

2014 Cy Young Award Winners

I had mentioned to someone yesterday whether in the Cy Young Award voting we would see an upset and/or the favored choices winning the trophy. Well folks, we got a bit of both when the announcement for the awards came down from the Baseball Writers of America's mountain. Here goes.

- 2014 American League Cy Young Pitcher of the Year
Seattle Mariners fans, especially those of the King's Korner are undoubtedly still steaming from their ace Felix Hernandez being denied his second AL Cy Young Award. Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians is your 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner.

In a very close vote by the Baseball Writers of America, Kluber earned 17 first-place votes and 169 points with Felix Hernandez of the Mariners earning the other 13 first-place votes and 159 points. White Sox starter Chris Sale finished third with 78 points.

18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. The right-hander led the league in wins, finished second in strikeouts, third in innings pitched and was third in ERA.

After failing to make the All-Star Team, Kluber finished the season with a 10-4 record with a 1.73 ERA with 127 strikeouts and 19 walks. He pitched deep into those last 14 games, only once failing to reach into the sixth and reaching the sixth once, the seventh three times, the eighth four times, the ninth five times, completing two with one shutout.

In terms of Hernandez, the article Corey Kluber edges out King Felix from dated November 13, 2014 states:
Hernandez went 15-6 with an AL-leading 2.14 ERA and 248 strikeouts in 236 innings. He set a major league record when he pitched 16 straight games of seven or more innings and allowing two earned runs or less. It was a brilliant stretch from May to early August that put Hernandez in the lead for his second Cy Young award.
In the same 14 game stretch after the All-Star Game, Hernandez went 8-6 with a 2.16 ERA with 94 strikeouts and 21 walks. In those last 14-games, Hernandez failed to reach the sixth four times. He finished the sixth three times, the seventh seven times and the eighth twice. Hernandez was a victim of his team's lack of offensive performance in those games.

Kluber becomes the fourth Cleveland Indians pitcher to win the American League Cy Young Award Gaylord Perry in 1972, C.C. Sabathia in 2007 and Cliff Lee in 2008.

As I told my friend Christopher yesterday, I think Kluber's strong finish and the complete games/shutouts were the determining factors that led to his winning the AL Cy Young. I would have been satisfied if either he or Hernandez won the award. Both were deserving of the recognition.

- Click Here for Corey Kluber's 2014 Statistics from Baseball
- Click Here for Felix Hernandez's 2014 Statistics from Baseball
- Click Here for the article Could Corey Kluber become the first Cleveland Indians pitcher to win two AL Cy Young Awards? by Paul Hoynes from The website

- 2014 National League Cy Young Pitcher of the Year
What can I say about Clayton Kershaw that hasn't been said already. Kershaw is quickly staking his claim as being arguably the most dominant pitcher of our generation by winning the National League Cy Young Award for the third time in the last four seasons.

Kershaw won the award via a unanimous vote taking all 30 first place votes. Cincinnati Reds' starter Johnny Cueto finished second and the St. Louis Cardinals' starter Adam Wainwright finished third.

According to the article Clayton Kershaw wins NL Cy Young dated November 12, 2014:
Kershaw, who also won the award in 2011 and 2013, went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA this past season, leading the Dodgers (94-68) to their second straight NL West title. Kershaw was baseball's most dominant pitcher despite missing over a month with a back injury. He led the majors in wins and ERA and had 239 strikeouts in just 198 1/3 innings.
Kershaw also threw his first career no-hitter on June 18, when he had 15 strikeouts and did not walk a batter against the Colorado Rockies.

In doing so, he becomes the 14th National League pitcher to win the award unanimously. According to the BBWAA website, Sandy Koufax achieved it three times, Greg Maddux twice and once apiece by Randy Johnson, Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Rick Sutcliffe, Dwight Gooden, Orel Hershiser, Jake Peavy and Roy Halladay.

Kershaw is also the fifth NL pitcher to win the award in consecutive seasons. Maddux and Johnson each won four years in a row. The other back-to-back winners were Koufax and Tim Lincecum.

Kershaw’s third Cy Young Award tied the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers’ franchise record that was originally held by Sandy Koufax and is the eighth Dodgers pitcher to win the award and the twelfth time that the a Dodgers pitcher won the award. Don Newcombe was the first in 1956, followed by Don Drysdale in 1962, Sandy Koufax in 1963, 1965-1966, Mike Marshall in 1974, Fernando Valenzuela in 1981, Orel Hershiser in 1988, Eric Gagne in 2003 and finally Clayton Kershaw in 2011, 2013-2014.

Kershaw is also the sixth pitcher to win three Cy Young Awards in a four-year span since the award was first given in 1956. The other pitchers are Randy Johnson 1999-2002, Pedro Martinez 1997-2000, Greg Maddux 1992-1995, Jim Palmer 1973-1976 and Sandy Koufax 1963-1966.

What's even more impressive that Kershaw has only been in the league for seven years and has been a full-time player for the last six years. At the current age of 26, it is scary to think how much more he will improve and how many more awards he might be capable of winning. Now if the Dodgers can only get him a better bullpen so he can win a post-season game.

- Click Here to see Clayton Kershaw's 2014 Statistics from Baseball

Later on today will be the Most Valuable Player announcement. Will it be a Southern California clean sweep with Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw winning the award? Or will it be a Tigers player once again spoiling it for Trout, this time in the form of Victor Martinez. Can the Indians make it another upset in the form of Michael Brantley? Can Andrew McCutchen make it two in a row in the National League? Will Giancarlo Stanton grab the NL MVP trophy and further use that as a bargaining chip in his extension negotiations with the Marlins? We'll have to wait for 6pm to see who wins the awards.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

2014 Managers of the Year

The 2014 Managers of the Year Awards were handed out today. Who won the trophies? Read on and find out.

- 2014 American League Manager of the Year
Baltimore Orioles skipper Buck Showalter wins the 2014 AL Manager of the Year award for 3rd time while leading the Baltimore Orioles to a 96-66 record. This is Showalter's 3rd Manager of the Year Award with his 3rd different franchise. His previous two awards came with the New York Yankees in 1994 and the Texas Rangers in 2004. Since the award was first given out in 1983, Showalter is the sixth manager with three or more Manager of the Year awards. Bobby Cox, and Tony LaRussa have four awards while Dusty Baker, Jim Leyland, and Lou Piniella have three apiece.

Showalter received 25 first-place votes. Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Kansas City Royals skipper Ned Yost finished second and third, respectively. The voting was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Showalter is the first Orioles manager to win the award since Davey Johnson in 1997.

- 2014 National League Manager of the Year
Washington Nationals first year manager Matt Williams wins NL Manager of the Year award. Like his contemporary up the Beltway in Baltimore, Williams led the Nationals to a National League best 96-66 record and NL East title. In doing so, Williams was the fourth manager to win the award in his first year joining Hal Lanier of the Houston Astros in 1986, Dusty Baker of the San Francisco Giants in 1993 and Joe Girardi of the Florida Marlins in 2006.

Williams received 18 of 30 first-place votes. Last year's National League Manager of the Year Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates came in second with eight first-place votes while Bruce Bochy on the World Champion San Francisco Giants came in third, earning three first-place votes. The voting was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Williams is the second Nationals' manager to win the award after Davey Johnson who won the award in 2012. Williams is the fourth Manager of the Year when taking into account the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals history. Buck Rogers in 1987 and Felipe Alou in 1994 won the awards while the team was in Montreal.

The future looks bright for both teams that play in the Beltway Metropolitan area of Baltimore/Washington DC. Congrats to both managers on their awards.

Tomorrow the Cy Young Awards will be announced at 6 p.m.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

2014 Rookies of the Year

The first of the 2014 MLB Year End Awards have been handed out. So let's not wait anymore time and get cracking on who won the hardware.

- 2014 American League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year

Slugging first baseman Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox is the winner of the 2014 American League Rookie of the Year. Abreu earned all 30 first-place votes outdistancing Los Angeles Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker and New York Yankees reliever Dellin Betances who finished second and third, respectively

Abreu led all rookies in home runs (36), RBIs (107), hits (176), doubles (35), runs scored (80), OBP (.383), slugging percentage (.581) and OPS (.964).

Since the Rookie of the Year Award was first given out in 1947, only four rookies have batted at least .300, hit at least 30 home runs and driven in at least 100 runs. All four including Abreu have won their league's respective Rookie of the Year award. The other three players? Walt Dropo for the Boston Red Sox in 1950, Mike Piazza for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1993 and Albert Pujols for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001.

Abreu is the sixth White Sox player to win the American League Rookie of the Year award after Luis Aparicio 1956, Gary Peters 1963, Tommie Agee 1966, Ron Kittle 1983, Ozzie Guillen 1985.

- 2014 National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year

Starting pitcher Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets is the winner of the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year. DeGrom received 26 of the 30 first-place votes. Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton and St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong finished second and third, respectively. The vote was conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

DeGrom, 26, went 9-6 with a 2.69 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 140 1/3 innings pitched over 22 starts.

DeGrom is the fifth Mets' player to win the National League Rookie of the Year award after Tom Seaver 1967, Jon Matlack 1972, Darryl Strawberry 1983 and Dwight Gooden 1984.

Congratulations to both players and continued success in their respective careers. The next award to be given out is Manager of the Year which will be announced today Tuesday November 12th at 6 p.m.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Friday, October 31, 2014

My Thoughts on the 2014 Season Part I

Well, the 2014 season is in the books following an amazing performance by NLCS and World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner leading the San Francisco Giants to their third World Series Championship in the last five years. Now that winter has arrived (I believe in two seasons: Baseball and Winter) I wanted to take a quick look at each team in the American League based on their performance this past season and how they stand for next season.

AL East
Baltimore Orioles: Their World Series dreams came to a grinding halt after running into the Kansas City Royals buzzsaw in the ALCS. A timely hit or two and maybe they play the Giants in the World Series instead of the Royals. All four games of the ALCS were decided by a total of 6 runs. The future in Baltimore is bright, especially if they can resign Nelson Cruz. Do the O's go big after a pitcher like Max Scherzer?

New York Yankees: Ah, my Yankees. What to do with the Bronx Bombers. REBUILD!!! If there was ever a time to do so, it is now that the last piece of the Yankees dynasty of the late 1990's and early 2000's has retired in the form of Captain Derek Jeter. This team needs to rebuild around Masahiro Tanaka, the youth in the bullpen and give the youth in the Minor Leagues a real opportunity to show what they can do. Oh, by the way, Alex Rodriguez's return looms large. The drama never ends in the Bronx Zoo.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays season ended in a disappointing fashion after the Blue Jays had hopes of ending their playoff drought. While 83-79 isn't a record to be ashamed about, this was the season where the Blue Jays should have taken advantage of a weakened AL East. Do they try to make a blockbuster trade as they did during the offseason following the 2011 season?

Boston Red Sox: Arguably their performance this season was the most disappointing of the 2014 campaign. Following their 2013 World Series Championship, the team faltered and a number of players were traded away at the deadline. Now, you can never count the Red Sox out. Remember, in 2012 they did the same exact thing, restocked, reloaded and won the trophy in 2013. The Red Sox Nation shouldn't worry about their team sliding down any further. I see the Red Sox making a resurgence next season through home grown talent and timely free agent signings (Yankees, take note, this is how you should be doing it).

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays are the team with the most question marks after losing their GM Andrew Friedman and Manager Joe Maddon. Does the trade of David Price work in their favor this season? What moves to the Rays make, if any since ownership wants to shed payroll. Is there any validity to the rumors of the Tampa Bay Rays considering a move to Montreal? 2015 will be a very interesting season to see what happens to the Rays.

AL Central
Detroit Tigers: The trade for David Price seemed like the Tigers would be a shoo-in for the World Series. But as we know, the games have to be played on the field. Now, Price did his job. If it wasn't for a bullpen that just couldn't get outs when needed, maybe the Tigers play the Royals in the ALCS instead of the Orioles. The big questions are do the Tigers resign Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez. Trading for Price gives the Tigers some leeway if Scherzer decides to leave Detroit. Martinez put up MVP numbers in his walk year and is due to sign one last big payday. We'll have to see what the Tigers do to rearm for the 2015 season.

Kansas City Royals: What can be said about the Royals that hasn't already been said. The darlings of the 2014 Postseason broke their 29 year playoff drought in an exciting fashion leaving the tying run on third base in Game 7 of the World Series. The city of Kansas City was reinvigorated and will undoubtedly be hoping that this season was a sign of things to come rather than a fluke. That is the question. What do the Royals do next. Their bullpen is set and they have tremendous youth in their lineup. A veteran starting pitcher like Max Scherzer would do wonders to solidify their rotation even if they are able to resign James Shields. The issue is, do they crack open the vault and spend some major money to lure players to Kansas City? Will players want to sign with Kansas City this offseason?

Cleveland Indians: The future is bright in Cleveland after a second consecutive winning season under Tito Francona. The emergence of Corey Kluber as a viable AL Cy Young candidate as well as AL MVP candidate Michael Brantley bode well for the future of the Tribe. I think they face a similar fate as the Royals do. Will they be able to lure free agents to sign in Cleveland? Cleveland is willing to spend money as seen in the contract signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourne a few seasons ago. Do they also make a run to sign Max Scherzer in an addition by subtraction to gain traction against the Detroit Tigers?

Chicago White Sox: I see the Chisox in a similar situation as the Yankees. They need to rebuild. Captain Paul Konerko has walked off into the sunset and the rebuilding project should be undertaken in earnest on the South-side. Build around slugger Jose Abreu and staff ace Chris Sale. A player like Pablo Sandoval would be a major coup for the White Sox. He would solidify the left side after third baseman Gordon Beckham was traded to Anaheim during the season and he would be a tremendous bat behind Abreu in the lineup. Nelson Cruz would also fit the need for more power in Chicago. Now I'm not sure if the team is going to jump in head first in the free agency market or try to rebuild from within. But the South-Side faithful might have to be a bit patient with this team for a few season.

Minnesota Twins: I'll be honest with you all. I am not versed in the Twins and where they stand. This is going to be the first season since 2002 where Ron Gardenhire is not at the helm and the team has yet to name his successor. One thing is certain, the rebuilding project will continue in Minnesota.

AL West
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: After making their triumphant return to the playoffs since 2009, the Angels were swept out of the ALDS by the eventual American League Champions Kansas City Royals. Where the Angels finished the season with a dominating 98-64 record, they went cold in the ALDS. Albert Pujols showed flashes of the player who the Angels hoped he'd be for them in the playoffs while potential AL MVP Mike Trout and CJ Wilson failed to live up to expectations in the postseason. And what about Josh Hamilton. Can he regain his form for the Angels or are his best days behind him. I think the Angels are in good shape in a division that isn't threatened by teams breaking the bank to sign free agents. If Garrett Richards can make a successful return from the leg injury that prematurely ended his potential AL Cy Young season that would give the Angels a solid rotation to compliment their veteran lineup. Injuries aside, I don't see the Angels falling to far from their 2014 season performance.

Oakland Athletics: Who would have thought that the Oakland A's would have barely made the Wild Card game after the clubbing they were handing out to the league in the first two-thirds of the 2014 season. The trade that brought Jon Lester to the A's from Boston for slugger Yoenis Cespedes raised many eyebrows throughout Baseball. It showed that Billy Beane was ready to play for now and many would argue the move backfired. Lester was the pitcher they expected to get but the run production ended when Cespedes was shipped to Boston. Coincidence? Many will show stats that he wasn't the main cog in the lineup in terms of run production and there are other factors as to why they stopped scoring runs, but when it comes down to it, the Lester-Cespedes trade is the watershed moment for Billy Beane in 2014. If Lester signs elsewhere, is the trade a total failure? Now, even if he does leave Oakland, the A's pitching staff is still solid. Sonny Gray, Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija are all in the A's rotation plans for next season. Does Beane continue to buck his M.O. by trying to sign a big bat or does he go back to square one.

Seattle Mariners: Putting up a 87-75 and a 3rd place finish in AL West was quite a surprise for the Mariners. Doing so helped to validate General Manager Jack Zduriencik offseason signing of Robinson Cano and hiring of Lloyd McClendon as manager. Now, Cano didn't put up the power numbers that he had done with the Yankees, but in his defense, Safeco Field isn't a hitters park as Yankee Stadium and he isn't batting in an offensive laden lineup as he did in New York. I believe that it is imperative to get him some real protection in the lineup. Someone like Giancarlo Stanton would help to minimize the pitching around Cano that he saw this season. Do the Mariners have the prospects to make a move for a young slugger of Stanton's stature? Pablo Sandoval and Nelson Cruz will be looking for big paydays and would fit nicely in Seattle but do the Mariners have anymore money to spend after breaking the bank to sign Cano?  I won't even talk about Felix Hernandez. What is there to say. After him, the pitching is a big question mark. The team holds a $7M Team Option/$1M Buyout on Hishasi Iwakuma for next season and closer Fernando Rodney is signed thru next season after putting up a 48 save season in Seattle. The rest of the pitching staff? Who knows what happens there.

Houston Astros: Second baseman Jose Altuve provided the major source of excitement for the Houston Astros this season with his leading the league in both hits and average. This team is in full rebuilding mode under new manager A. J. Hinch and General Manager Jeff Luhnow. They have some real young talent that is getting major league experience on the fly. I think it would be premature to think that the Astros will compete for a playoff spot next season. But I think the future is definitely bright in Houston. The team just needs to stay the rebuilding course and let the young players mature together.

Texas Rangers: Long gone are the years of the Nolan Ryan built two-time American League Champions. The rotation is basically staff ace Yu Darvish and a number of players who pitched for the Rangers due to injury and inability of other hurlers. The trade for Prince Fielder paid no dividends for Texas with Fielder's season being cut short due to a neck injury while Ian Kinsler thrived in Detroit. The departure of Ron Washington and the hiring of Jeff Banister means that the team will be in flux for the next season. If the injured offensive injured players can come back they can carry the rotation to a potential Wild Card berth. But I don't think anything more is possible.

Next I'll look at the National League. I also have some book posts hopefully in the works. So keep an eye out for those.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

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

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

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

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Steve Carlton's career statistics from Baseball
- 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

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Bob Gibson's career statistics from Baseball
- Click here to access Denny McLain's career statistics from Baseball
- 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

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Roger Maris' career statistics from Baseball
- 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

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

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

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Ted Williams' career statistics from Baseball
- 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

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Detroit Tigers Play Last Home Game At Tiger Stadium September 27, 1999

On this day in Baseball History September 27, 1999: The Detroit Tigers defeated the Kansas City Royals by a score of 8-2 in their last home game at the ballpark located at 2121 Trumbull Avenue once known as Navin Field, later changed to Briggs Stadium, before finally being called Tiger Stadium.

Tiger Stadium opened the same day as Fenway Park, April 20, 1912 which was five days after the sinking of the Titanic. Tiger Stadium was the second ballpark to sit on the site. The article Tiger Stadium by Scott Ferkovich from the SABR Baseball Biography Project describes the first ballpark as so:
Photo Courtesy of
The Tigers’ new home was actually the second ballpark built at “The Corner.” From 1896 to 1911, they played their games in rickety wooden Bennett Park. Prior to that, the plot of land in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood had been a combination hay market and dog pound. Bennett Park had been built when the Tigers were in Ban Johnson’s Western League. In 1901, Johnson changed the circuit’s name to the American League, and declared it a second major league, in direct competition with the established National League. The Tigers played host to three World Series in Bennett Park, from 1907 to 1909. Starting in 1909, however, with the construction of Shibe Park in Philadelphia, closely followed by Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, a new wave of steel-and-concrete baseball palaces were being built. It was clear that Bennett Park had outlived its usefulness, and Frank Navin, principal owner of the Tigers, wanted his club to have a brand-new stadium that would allow it to compete with other teams.
The article Tiger Stadium by Dan Austin of the Historic Detroit website states:
Tiger Stadium was designed by the father and son team of Frank C. Osborn and Kenneth H. Osborn. Frank Osborn founded Osborn Engineering in Cleveland in 1892. The company pioneered in the use of reinforced concrete and built municipal and industrial facilities throughout the country. The firm designed more than 100 sports stadiums, including Fenway Park in Boston and Yankee Stadium in New York. Bernard Green of the same firm also designed Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Photo Courtesy of
The yard was expanded several times and had its name changed to Briggs Stadium in 1938 — the same year it was expanded to a capacity of 53,000. In 1961, a scoreboard was installed in center field, but it was later moved to left field after hitters complained that it was in their line of sight. That same year, 1961, also was the year the ballpark finally became Tiger Stadium. For many Detroiters, however, the place was known simply as The Corner.
The Austin article also states the following:
In his farewell remarks following the final game, Ernie Harwell noted that the Corner hosted 6,873 regular season games, 35 postseason contests and three All-Star Games — in 1941, 1951 and 1971. The location was unique because, as a charter member of the American League, every American League starting player from 1900-1999 — from Babe Ruth to Ted Williams to Alvaro Espinoza to Jim Walewander — played at Michigan and Trumbull. There also were 10 no-hitters pitched at Tiger Stadium, but only two were by Tigers: Virgil Trucks in 1952 and George Mullin in 1910.
The 100 millionth fan entered Tiger Stadium on July 6, 1994.
Baseball wasn't the only sport played at the ballpark. The first football game was held there on Oct. 9, 1921, when Detroit (also called the Tigers) squeaked by Dayton, 10-7. The Detroit Panthers would roam the Corner from 1925 to 1926 before the Lions set up shop at Briggs Stadium in 1938. Except for 1940, the Lions called the Corner home until Nov. 28, 1974, when they lost, 31-27 to Denver.
The stadium became a State of Michigan Historic Site in 1975 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Though it Tiger Stadium was partially demolished, the field itself still remains at the Corner. Volunteers currently mow its lawn to keep the grass at the Corner looking pristine as it did during game days.

As recent as July of this year, things look positive for the old Tiger Stadium site. According to the article Old Tiger Stadium site in Detroit moves a step closer to getting a new baseball field by David Muller from the MLive website dated July 15, 2014 the plans call for:
The Detroit Economic Development Corporation approved a plan on Monday that would preserve the baseball field at the former Tiger Stadium site in Corktown while turning a large piece of the property over to Detroit Police Athletic League, a youth sports organization.
George Jackson, president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Development Corporation (DEGC) was quoted in the article Detroit PAL moves ahead with development plan for old Tiger Stadium site said in a statement by Kirk Pinho from Crain's Detroit Business dated July 16, 2014:
“Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy had an idea to preserve the site’s place in baseball’s past; Detroit PAL works with young baseball players to give them a better future. Together they have the opportunity to create a very active place. With the mixed-use development we also expect, this site will be significant in the continuing revitalization of Corktown.”
The field might no longer have the men wearing the "Old English D" on their uniforms running on its grass and dirt. But hopefully this field will be used by youth leagues and kids for generations to come.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Detroit Tigers Attendance, Stadiums, and Park Factors from Baseball
- Click here to access the post Tiger Stadium from the Ballparks of Baseball website
- Click here to access the post Bennett Park/Navin Field/ Briggs Stadium/Tiger Stadium: At the corner of Michigan and Trumbull southwest of downtown Detroit from the Detroit website
- Click here to access the article Closing Down Tiger Stadium in 1999 from the MISC Baseball blogpage dated August 22, 2010
- Click here to access the article Tiger Stadium by Scott Ferkovich from the SABR Baseball Biography Project
- Click here to access the article Old Tiger Stadium site in Detroit moves a step closer to getting a new baseball field by David Muller from the MLive website dated July 15, 2014
- Click here to access the article Detroit PAL moves ahead with development plan for old Tiger Stadium site said in a statement by Kirk Pinho from Crain's Detroit Business dated July 16, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

What A Magical Night In The Bronx September 25, 2014

Normally the words Magical and the Bronx aren't normally heard together in the same sentence. But sitting in my seats at Yankee Stadium last watching the events of the evening unfold in such a storybook manner were truly magical. You couldn't write the ending to that game any better. It was amazing to see the normally reserved Derek Jeter show some emotion. The ballpark was rocking, even after the Orioles tied the game in the 9th inning. People knew that they would get one last chance to see Jeter at the plate. He didn't disappoint.

Now I know what Yankees fans felt when Mickey Mantle walked off into the sunset. I know some of you will say that I am exaggerating when I say this but for Yankees fans like me who lived through the dark years of the late 80's and early 90's and the subsequent dynasty years of 1996-2001, Derek Jeter is our generation's Mantle. We saw him debut as a fresh faced prospect and walk away and elder of the game. The franchise now has to rebuild. The team has no face to it. No Captain. In essence the team has a clean slate. But I digress. I had the privilege as a season ticket holder of watching both Mariano Rivera's and Derek Jeter's last game in Yankee Pinstripes. Those were two experiences that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Thank you Derek Jeter for all the effort and moments you gave us Yankee fans during your twenty year career. Going to the ballpark in the Bronx next year will not be the same without you.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dodgers Play Last Home Game as Brooklyn Dodgers September 24, 1957

On this day in Baseball History September 24, 1957: In front of 6,702 fans, the Brooklyn Dodgers blank the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 behind Danny McDevitt's second shutout of the season. This would be the last Dodgers home game played as the Brooklyn Dodgers. Here is the box score for the September 24, 1957 game between the Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Brooklyn Dodgers from the September 25, 1957 edition of the New York Times.

Though the move to Los Angeles would be made official by Walter O'Malley notifying the National League on October 8, 1957, many fans held out hope that the rumored move would not happen. Unfortunately for the Brooklyn faithful it was not to be so. The Dodgers would open their season against the San Francisco Giants at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on April 18, 1958.

Photo Courtesy of Baseball in Early Los Angeles
The demolition of Ebbets Field would begin on February 23, 1960, to be replaced with a housing development.

This photo depicts where Ebbets Field would be in relation to the
Jackie Robinson Apartment complex in Crown Heights. (Photo Courtesy:
The irony of the entire move is that area that O'Malley wanted to build his new stadium is the location of the Barclays Center which opened in 2012. Robert Moses vehemently opposed the move to that location. He would half-heartedly offer O'Malley the spot in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park which would eventually become home to the New York Mets in 1964: Shea Stadium. O'Malley left for the greener and sunnier pastures of Los Angeles and the Brooklyn Dodgers fans were left S.O.L.

The rest is Baseball History...

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

Monday, September 22, 2014

Andre Dawson Steals His 300th Base September 22, 1990

On this day in Baseball History September 22, 1990: Andre Dawson of the Chicago Cubs steals his 300th base off of Ron Darling and Mackey Sasser of the New York Mets. The 300th stolen base is significant since it allowed Dawson to join Willie Mays as the only players to have hit 300 home runs, 300 stolen bases and 2000 hits.

Dawson hit his 300th home run against Ron Darling of the New York Mets on April 23, 1989 and gets his 2,000th hit against pitcher Jim Clancy of the Houston Astros at the Astrodome August 18, 1989.

Dawson would retire at the end of the 1996 season. He would be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 with 78% of the vote (420/539 ballots).

Since Dawson joined Mays on the 300 Hit, 300 Stolen Base, and 2000 hit club, a number of other players have joined them. Who are they? I'll keep that one in the bag for a future post.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Andre Dawson's career statistics from Baseball
- Click here to access the article '89 brought milestones, playoffs for Dawson by Carrie Muskat from dated June 21, 2010
- Click here to access the article 1990: Andre Dawson of the CUBS stole his 300th base in an... from the Chicago Tribune dated September 22, 2004
- Click here to access the post Andre Dawson by Dan D'Addona for the SABR Baseball Biography Project
- Click here to access the blogpage Hawk 4 The Hall

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bob Welch Wins His 25th Game of the Season September 21, 1990

On this day in Baseball History September 21, 1990: Bob Welch of the Oakland A's defeats the Detroit Tigers at the Oakland Coliseum to become the first pitcher in a decade to win 25 games in a season. The last pitcher to win 25 games in a season was during the 1980 season when Steve Stone of the Baltimore Orioles reached the 25 win plateau.

Welch would go on to win 27 games with only 6 losses en-route to the American League Cy Young award. The Oakland A's would be upset in the 1990 World Series by the Cincinnati Reds. The last four pitchers to come close to the 25-win mark were Justin Verlander 24-6 (2011), Randy Johnson (2002), John Smoltz (1996) and Frank Viola (1988).

Bob Welch passed away earlier this year on June 9, 2014 at the age of 57

With Justin Verlander coming close to reaching 25 wins in 2011, will we see another pitcher come close to the 25 win plateau any time soon?

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:
- Click here to access Bob Welch's career statistics from Baseball
- Click here to access the article Last 10 pitchers to win 25 games in a season by the Atlanta Journal Constitution
- Click here to access the blogpost 24-game winners over the last 24 years by Bill Chuck from the Billy-Ball blogpage on September 19, 2011

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Last MLB Game Played at the Polo Grounds September 18, 1963

On this day in Baseball History September 18, 1963: The real last MLB game is played in front of 1,752 riveted fans showed up to watch the final home game of the New York Metropolitans of the 1963 season against the Philadelphia Phillies. Why do I say real?

The New York Giants played the first last MLB game at the Polo Grounds on September 29, 1957. They marked the occasion with a 9-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The arrival to the New York Metropolitans for the 1962 season meant that the Polo Grounds would be given a second lease on baseball life while the Mets waited for Flushing Meadows Park Municipal Stadium later rechristened Shea Stadium (in honor of William A. Shea) was finished being built in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens.

The Mets were set to play at the shiny new ballpark to begin the 1962 but delays pushed that back. Then the Mets were supposed to begin playing at the new stadium for the 1963 season. The second final MLB game was played at the Polo Grounds during the record setting 40-120 season by the 1962 Mets. The Mets defeated the Chicago Cubs on September 23, 1962 by a score of 2-1 to bring the history of the old Ballpark in Harlem to an end on a winning note. But alas, it was not to be so.

Photo Courtesy of Peter Putnam/New York Times
The book Shea Stadium by Jason D. Antos describes what was happening at Shea Stadium in terms of construction delays:
On April 28, 1960, the green light was given to contractors P.J. Carlin and Thomas Crimmons to begin construction. On January 18, 1961, Wagner now announced that the new Flushing Meadows Municipal Stadium, now budgeted at $16 million, would be ready for the Mets' inaugural season of 1962. City Controller Lawrence E. Gerosa responded negatively, "Even if construction started last fall, they would still have to work overtime to finish it in time for the 1962 season." One week later construction was delayed.

Three months later on March 15, the assembly in Albany vetoed the measure that authorized the city to finance and build the new ballpark. Wagner pleaded in front of the assembly and won. The lease for the new ballpark was approved on October 6, 1961. Under the terms of the lease, the ballpark would pay $450,000 in rentals the first year with it decreasing to $300,000 in seven years. The Mets were able to lease the stadium for 30 years with an option for renewal of 10 additional years. Finally, on October 28, 1961, Wagner along with Robert Moses and the New York Parks Department president Newbold Morris attended the official groundbreaking ceremony.

Construction was further delayed because of loose girders and broken beams that needed to be repaired, and opening was moved to April 1964...As the construction progressed, the cost of stadium was rising faster than the ballpark itself. An extra $1.7 million was needed, causing the grand total to become $26 million. Finally, the official dedication ceremony took place on April 16, 1964.
Based on that and the bad weather in the winter of 1962-1963, the Metropolitans would play their 1963 home games at the Polo Grounds. Fast forward to the last home game of the season where the Mets fell in lackluster defeat to the Phillies 5-1. That must have been the fastest clean-up by the grounds crew at the Polo Grounds. How much of a mess could 1,752 fans really make.

Here is the boxscore from the last MLB game at the Polo Grounds from the September 19, 1963 edition of the New York Times:

The Polo Grounds would meet the same fate as Ebbets Field six days before Shea Stadium was dedicated. On April 10, 1964, the same wrecking ball that was used to demolish Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, was used to bring down the Polo Grounds. As with Ebbets Field, a housing development was built on the site of the old ballpark in Harlem.

Until Then Keep Playing Ball,
Baseball Sisco

For Further Reading:

- Click here to access the article Polo Grounds, and Its Former Tenants, Emerge From the Shadows by Richard Sandomir from the New York Times dated January 19, 2011
- Click here to access the article Memories of Polo Grounds on Anniversary of Final Opener by Ken Belson from the New York Times dated April 8, 2013
- Click here to access the article Did They Ever Play Polo at the Polo Grounds? by Toby von Meistersinger from the Gothamist dated July 21, 2008 
- Click here to access the PDF of the report THE POLO GROUNDS CASE (part II) by John Hogrogian from THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 12, No. 1 (1990)  
- Click here to access the article The Last of the Polo Grounds: New York City Will Repair a Forgotten Staircase by Chris Epting from the National Trust of Historical Preservation website dated  March 6, 2009
- Click here to access the article Polo Grounds (New York) by Stew Thornley from the SABR Biography Research Project.