Vote: The 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame, 2011 edition

With the 2011 baseball officially in the books, it is my pleasure to announce the second year of my project on the 50 best baseball players not in the Hall of Fame.

I debuted this project last year (here’s how it came out) with a simple goal. Rather than have my rankings based on some all-powerful stat or my opinion, I decided to go in a different direction and determine the picks through votes from other baseball writers, fans, and anyone interested. Sixty three people voted on about two week’s notice, including yours truly, and the project was a rousing success. Making it an annual thing here was an easy decision.

I have Super Ballot 2011 ready to send out to anyone who leaves a comment here or emails me  at I invite anyone and everyone to vote, and I’ll link out in the results post to any baseball blogger who participates.

All this being said, please take a second to read the rules for this project. I can’t count any ballot that doesn’t adhere to them.


You must vote for 50 players: This was the biggest issue last year, so as we head into the second round of this project, let me reiterate. The point here isn’t to name 50 players who need to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame tomorrow or, conversely, to send in a 12-player ballot boldly proclaiming that only that many players belong. This project is about identifiying the 50 best players not in Cooperstown, whether they’re Hall-worthy or not. So please vote for 50 players. I will not count any final ballot with less (or more) than 50 players selected.

Please do not vote for anyone who’s played since the end of the 2006 season: We go with the same five-year waiting period that the Baseball Writers Association of America observes in its Hall of Fame voting each year. Other than that, any player in baseball history is fair game, with no restrictions on number of seasons played, whether the player is banned, or even if he made it to the majors.

Write-ins welcome: I’ve included nearly 400 players on this year’s ballot. That being said, roughly another 17,000 men have played in the majors and are not in the Hall of Fame. Please feel free to write in any player who hasn’t played in the last five years.

All votes due by December 1, 9 p.m. PST: No exceptions on this one. I will be rolling out the results after the Veterans Committee announces at the winter meetings in early December whether it will be enshrining anyone in 2012, and I need time to count votes and get the post ready.

I will not campaign for any player: I’d like for the results of this project to be as organic and independently-determined as possible. Thus, I will not advocate for any player being in the top 50. I also encourage anyone who votes to make their selections any way they please. Whether it’s relying on career stats, favoring peak value, looking toward members of particular eras, or going with some other method, it’s no worry to me how people vote. Definitions of what constituted a top 50 player varied among different voters last year, and I think it made for a more interesting final project.

New for this year’s project

“Does he belong in the HOF?” tab: Next to each of the 50 players selected, please put a Y or N (for “Yes” or “No”) signifying whether each player belongs in the Hall of Fame. I will list how this comes out in the results post.

Super Ballot 2011, bigger and better: Last year’s ballot featured 300 players, and some voters encouraged me to exclude players this year who’d gotten little or no votes. However, one voter quit in a huff last year because I neglected to include Vic Power, and I don’t want a repeat of that scene. Thus, this year’s ballot has close to 400 players. I brought back everyone from last year’s ballot, save for Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven who were enshrined this past summer. I also added in guys who last played in 2006, a few prominent omissions from last year’s ballot, every eligible write-in from last year, and every starter from a certain pennant winning team. I’ll give a free Baseball: Past and Present t-shirt to the first person who identifies the team.

Help me write about the players: I’d invite anyone interested to contribute 50 to 100 words on any player they vote for. I’ll select the best blurbs for inclusion with the post, with full credit for the respective writers, of course.

Anyhow, I look forward to seeing how this goes and thank everyone in advance who participates.

Appreciating the Career of Tony La Russa

Tony La Russa himself wasn’t much of a ballplayer. The middle infielder hit .199 in 203 Major League plate appearances, toiling in the minors for most of his 16-year career in professional baseball.

Maybe it was all that time on the bench that prepared La Russa for his managerial career. Because his teams seemed to over-perform from day one, beginning in 1979 when he inherited the 46-60 White Sox and led them to a 27-27 finish. Four years later Chicago made the playoffs for the first time in 24 years with the franchise’s best winning percentage since 1920, and La Russa won his first Manager of the Year award.

The White Sox’s early season struggles in 1986 prompted La Russa’s mid-season firing, but the skipper didn’t stay jobless for long. Only three weeks after being kicked out of Chicago, he was hired to manage his former team, the Oakland A’s, and immediately turned them around, just as he had the White Sox seven years earlier. 31-52 when La Russa took over, the A’s finished the season with a 45-34 run under their new manager.

And thus began the glory days of managing for La Russa, who announced his retirement today. La Russa’s Athletics almost immediately posted one of the most dominant three-season stretches of all-time, winning the AL West in 1988, 1989 and 1990, averaging 102 wins during that time and reaching the World Series each year.

Leading this mini-dynasty were Bash Brothers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire, perennial Cy Young award candidates Dave Stewart and Bob Welch, future Hall-of-Fame closer Dennis Eckersley, and of course La Russa, who won another Manager of the Year award in ’88, then finished 3rd in the voting in ’89 and 2nd in ’90.

The 1989 A’s team, probably the weakest of the three great Oakland squads, was the only one to find success in the Fall Classic, sweeping their cross-bay rivals, the San Francisco Giants, in a World Series most remembered for the 6.9 magnitude earthquake that delayed Game 3 ten days. It was La Russa’s first World Series championship and his only in Oakland.

After a down 1991 season, the A’s bounced back to win the AL West again in 1992, and La Russa won his third Manager of the Year award. He would last three more seasons with the A’s, before the death of the team’s owner and the subsequent sale of the franchise prompted La Russa to bolt to St. Louis to manage the Cardinals.

It took only one season for La Russa to turn the 4th place Cardinals into an NL Central-winning squad, and despite a few down seasons to close the 20th century, St. Louis soon established itself as the perennial favorite in its division, finishing above .500 all but one year from 2000 to the present and earning six Central division titles during that time. In 2002 La Russa won his record-setting fourth Manager of the Year award (Bobby Cox has since tied that mark).

Arguably La Russa’s best Cardinals team, the 105-game winning 2004 squad, was swept out of the World Series, and the ’05 version lost in a seven-game NLCS. The 2006 Cards were worse than their predecessors by nearly every measure, but, despite only 83 regular season wins, unexpectedly brought La Russa his second World Series title.

This year’s Cardinals were not expected to deliver their manager championship number three. Ace Adam Wainwright was sent for Tommy John surgery after an injury in February, out for the year before throwing a single pitch. Closer Ryan Franklin blew four of his first five save opportunities, Albert Pujols battled a sluggish start, Matt Holliday struggled to stay on the field, and St. Louis trailed wild card-leading Atlanta by 10.5 games on August 24.

But with a bullpen rebuilt at the trade deadline and a newly-healthy offense, the Cardinals stormed back to clinch the playoffs on the season’s final day. In the NLDS, they upset the heavily-favored Phillies in five games. In the NLCS they handled the Brewers in six games, La Russa hailed as genius for his courage in pulling starting pitchers early in ballgames and his subsequent manipulation of his bullpen in the mid- and late-innings.

La Russa’s sixth World Series was an up-and-down one for the manager. Bullpenphonegate, as the Game 5 debacle came to be known, threatened to undermine La Russa’s successes and establish him as the series’ goat, but an all-time classic game 6—in which La Russa made no glaring errors and his counterpart Ron Washington orchestrated blunder after blunder—and a well-managed game 7 gave La Russa’s Cardinals another World Series championship.

Tony La Russa may from time to time appear whiny, stubborn or petulant. But you can’t argue with results, and with six pennants and three World Series titles in his 33 years as a Major League manager, the 67-year old is one of the most decorated skippers in baseball history. He’s third all-time in managerial wins and one of only two managers ever to win the World Series in each league. Where he ranks among the all-time greats is a discussion for another post, but in the wake of a World Series run during which he was praised repeatedly for his leadership and decision-making, we should all pause to admire the career accomplishments of Tony La Russa.

And Now It Begins

After such a wonderful 2011 World Series, I’m mentally if not physically exhausted as I write this week’s column.  All but game three were nail biting, nerve raking affairs even for someone who was not cheering for one team over the other.  It was a shame one team had to lose but despite the obvious managerial blunders, mental mistakes and errors, which I’m certain will be discussed to death in the next few days, it was a World Series we will all be talking about for years to come.  I must extend my congratulations to both teams for once again proving that baseball is indeed the most exciting of all sports.

But now it begins. The rumors, speculation, negotiations, the trade talk and all the rest that goes with this always too long baseball offseason.  Apart from a casual daily glance at what is going on, we all could use a week or two of relation and paying attention to other worldly events and happenings.  But only a week or two.

Certainly the biggest off field questions will be the financial situation of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the inevitable battle with the commissioner’s office,  the ongoing but far less bleak finances of the New York Mets, the search for GM and managerial replacements, new Houston Astros ownership and of course, the signing of  a new CBA.

The biggest and potentially most drawn out on the field headlines will be the opting out, or not, of C.C. Sabathia from his New York Yankee contract and  the signings of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. There are, as usual, many potential arbitration cases and many teams which have to decide which direction they plan on going for the 2012 season.

Now that the courts in California have decided, (well, for the moment anyway), that Dodger owner Frank McCourt will own the Dodgers as part of his nasty and drawn out divorce,  will Bud Selig force the issue and demand that McCourt sell his interest in the franchise?  Selig has continually made his opinion known that such a sale would be in the best interests of baseball.  McCourt has chosen to make this battle public and has stated in no uncertain terms that he will do whatever he feels is best for him.

The financial situation of the New York Mets is awaiting further rulings by the New York court which has stated that Fred Wilpon is liable for a fixed amount only no matter what the final judgment may turn out to be. Although the Mets have not repaid their $25 million loan to Major League baseball, Bud Selig has stated that he is not overly concerned.  This situation has been far less public and far more civilized, at least in public.

New ownership in Houston has yet to be approved and questions have come up as to the hiring practices of the potential new owner in other businesses he owns.  Selig also seems to be pushing that approval of this sale might be contingent on an agreement by the new owner to move the Astros to the American League.  He has hinted that any other reservations about the sale could be overlooked if such relocation were to be agreed to.

The signing of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, (CBA), seemed to be a done deal.  Now, a pet peeve of Selig has begun to raise its ugly head and threatens to delay or negate any new agreement.  Selig has pushed for years now to put a ceiling on bonuses awarded to draft picks.  Understandably, the players union want no part of such a ceiling stating that it amounts to nothing more than a back door salary cap. The proposal of a luxury tax above slot might be the compromise which gets the deal signed.

But let’s face it.  For us fans of the game these haughty financial matters are of little concern.  Those issues will be decided by lawyers and accountants. The biggest issue to fans around baseball, and especially in St. Louis, New York and Milwaukee is only one.  Who will sign Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and C. C. Sabathia?  Who will be lucky enough to sign them?  Will we still be talking about this in January?

For now, let’s simply bask in the glow of a wonderful season and a truly special World Series.   Spring is coming.

Dizzy Dean Stops the Tigers; Collects Big Endorsement Money

Editor’s note: With the St. Louis Cardinals heading into Game 7 of the World Series this evening (after a for-the-ages Game 6), Joe Guzzardi looks at what Dizzy Dean did with such an opportunity in 1934.

Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean pitched just six seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1932-1937 plus a single game in 1930. Those were the only years that Dean pitched more than 20 games in a single season. After Dean suffered an injury in the 1937 All-Star Game which ruined his career, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1938 and pitched ineffectively for three more seasons before retiring at 31.

But in 1934, that bleak end couldn’t have been further away. Dean went 30-7 on his way to the National League Most Valuable Player award and a 4-3 World Series championship for the Cardinals’ “Gashouse Gang” over the Detroit Tigers. Dizzy won Games 1 and 7; brother Paul, Games 3 and 6. In the final game, Dean pitched a masterful 11-0 shutout.

The Cardinals’ couldn’t believe how far Dean had come from his days in 1930 when he was a raw, obnoxious 20-year-old rookie. To the consternation of manager Gabby Street, Dean slept late, missed the team’s 10:00 A.M. practice and ran up charges at local stores which he expected the Cardinals to pay. Instead, the Cards warned local merchants not to extend Dean credit and put him on a $1 a day budget.

Exasperated by his antics, the Cards finally sent Dean down to its AAA Houston farm club where the pitcher met his future wife Pat. After a six-week courtship, the couple married. Dean, a new man, settled down and turned in a remarkable season. Dean led the Texas League with 26 wins, a 1.57 ERA and 303 strike outs. His performance earned him a spot in the Cardinals’ 1932 rotation where he won 18 games. In four subsequent seasons, Dean won 20, 30, 28 and 24 games.

Although Dean had only a second grade education (with him noting, “I didn’t so well in the first grade, either”) he shrewdly realized that every time he pitched, the stands were full. Dean reverted to his old self by routinely demanding during the season that his $8,500 contract be renegotiated. Owner Sam Breadon just as regularly turned Dean down. The pitcher would then leave the team, often for days at a time.

But the Cardinals forgave all after Dean’s 11-0 clincher in Detroit. A huge tickertape parade awaited the team with the Dean brothers and their spouses in the lead convertible. Dean, to wild applause, sat in the front seat swinging a stuffed tiger doll from the end of a noose.

After street cleaners swept up the confetti, the Deans left for a two week barnstorming tour against an All Star Negro League team and followed it up with a week on Broadway performing vaudeville routine before finally filming a Warner Brothers short film, Dizzy & Daffy with one of the Three Stooges.

Dozens of personal appearances and endorsement deals later Dean, who the Cards had once limited to a measly $1 a day and whose winning series share was $5,300, earned nearly $75,000 in just a few short months.

Any player/Any era: Don Drysdale

What he did: Adam Darowski’s piece Monday on pitchers who could hit got me thinking about Don Drysdale. If Drysdale didn’t have the greatest year at the plate ever for a pitcher in 1965, it had to be somewhere close. Not only did he smack seven home runs with 19 RBI and an OPS+ of 140, Drysdale was the only .300 hitter on a team that batted .245. His 2.2 offensive WAR was better than all but four Dodger batters. Drysdale even went to the plate as a pinch hitter 14 times, going 3-for-12 with two RBI. And of course, he was also brilliant on the mound, finishing 23-12 and fifth in National League MVP voting and helping his Dodgers to a World Series title.

Drysdale, one of the subjects of a recent outstanding paper here, did enough in his career to finish 209-166 with a 2.95 ERA, 2,486 strikeouts ,and 49 shutouts. Seeing as he played his prime years in perhaps the greatest pitcher’s era ever, with Sandy Koufax as a rotation mate, he might have been in the best possible time to reach the Hall of Fame as he did in 1984. Still, Drysdale’s hitting numbers suggest he might have been the best player in baseball in an earlier era.

Era he might have thrived in: Men like Drysdale ruled baseball in the late 19th century, Bob Caruthers, Guy Hecker, and others able to dominate both on the mound and at the plate. Official MLB historian and longtime baseball writer John Thorn explained to me awhile back, when I did one of these columns on Josh Hamilton, that the overall talent level was lower in the early days of baseball, forcing the best players to both pitch and hit. Drysdale would have been even more of a menace than he was in his prime when he loomed 6’5″ and set the record for hit batsmen in a career.

Why: It’s about increased opportunity, mostly. As Caruthers averaged 290 at-bats a season and Hecker annually had about 330, Drysdale would likely double his number of trips to the plate. He might not belt 29 career home runs playing before the Live Ball Era, but his seven lifetime triples and lanky frame suggest he still would have put up good power numbers. And other parts of his game would benefit as well.

On the hill, Drysdale would be well-equipped to handle the draconian, “Let’s pitch 600 innings this season” workloads of 19th century hurlers, seeing as he pitched at least 270 innings seven times in his career and made at least 40 starts five consecutive years. It was a pace that may have contributed to him having to quit playing two weeks after his 33rd birthday in 1969, but that wouldn’t be an issue in the late 1800s, when pitchers rarely lasted in the majors beyond their mid-30s. His short but brilliant peak would be nothing out of the ordinary.

And it’s worth noting here, too, that Drysdale’s “Hit one of my guys and I’ll hit two of yours” baseball ethos would play perfectly in the 1800s, when respectable women were barely allowed at ballparks and none but the sketchiest of hotels would put up ballplayers.

Any player/Any era is a Thursday feature here that looks at how a player might have done in an era besides his own.

Others in this series: Albert PujolsBabe RuthBad News Rockies,Barry BondsBilly BeaneBilly MartinBob CaruthersBob FellerBob Watson,Bobby VeachCarl MaysCharles Victory FaustChris von der Ahe,Denny McLainDom DiMaggioEddie LopatFrank HowardFritz MaiselGavvy CravathGeorge CaseGeorge WeissHarmon KillebrewHarry WalkerHome Run BakerHonus WagnerHugh CaseyIchiro SuzukiJack ClarkJackie RobinsonJim AbbottJimmy WynnJoe DiMaggioJoe PosnanskiJohnny AntonelliJohnny FrederickJosh HamiltonKen Griffey Jr.Lefty GroveLefty O’DoulMajor League (1989 film),Matty AlouMichael JordanMonte IrvinNate ColbertPaul DerringerPee Wee ReesePete RosePrince FielderRalph KinerRick AnkielRickey Henderson,Roberto ClementeRogers HornsbySam CrawfordSam Thompson,Sandy KoufaxSatchel PaigeShoeless Joe JacksonStan MusialTed WilliamsThe Meusel BrothersTy CobbVada PinsonWally BunkerWill ClarkWillie Mays

Night World Series Games—Okay in the Pacific Time Zone; in the East, Not So Much

You can blame it on the Pittsburgh Pirates. I’m talking World Series night baseball which the Pirates kicked off in fourth game of the 1971 fall classic.

Of course, the Pirates weren’t really at fault. Major League Baseball came up with the bad idea and introduced it that year. Most predicted that it wouldn’t fly. But when every game eventually was scheduled to start at 8:05, what choice do fans have but to watch even through half closed eyes? When I lived in California, I had no problem: come home, turn on the television, fire up the barbeque and sit down to watch. Now that I live in Pittsburgh, I struggle to watch most of innings one through three and, if I’m lucky, wake up in time to catch innings seven through nine.

The 1971 series is famous for introducing Roberto Clemente, who hit .414 during the seven games, to a national audience, for the Pirates coming off the floor after falling behind 2-0 and for having to play and win the deciding game at Baltimore against the well-stocked Orioles who won 101 games.

The fourth game, the first at night, was the series’ turning point. After winning game three behind Steve Blass, manager Danny Murtaugh gave the nod to lefty Luke Walker. Walker retired just two batters before Murtaugh summoned the scrawny ( 6’4”; 178 lbs) but effective 21-year-old rookie Bruce Kison who pitched 6-1/3 innings of one-hit ball before giving way to Dave Guisti in the ninth. Guisti earned the save in the 4-3 nail bitter. The Pirates’, despite pounding out 14 hits couldn’t put the Orioles, who collected only four, away until the final out.

ut if you were to ask Kison for his fondest memory of the series, he might not point to his performance or the Pirates’ eventual 4-3 world championship triumph but instead to his wedding that took place immediately following the seventh game.

By prearrangement, the Pirates flew Kison back to Pittsburgh while the post-game celebration was still in progress. A police escort led Kison to the airport where a Lear jet awaited him. The flight from Baltimore took 22 minutes and landed at 7:33. Kison was 33 minutes late for his big day but no one really cared.

As seventh game winner Blass recalled, the groom-to-be Kison came up to him and in a reference to the tidy 2:10 game time, said “Thanks for making it a quick one.”

If these baseball players had come out of retirement….

I wrote a couple weeks ago about my adventures with a computer demo, Baseball Mogul 2012 that allows for great players to be unretired and used in simulation. I wrote of signing a 44-year-old Ted Williams to play for the 1963 New York Mets and how the Splendid Splinter hit about .350, perhaps taking advantage of the short right field porch at the Polo Grounds. Williams isn’t the only comeback player who’s thrived for me. The demo allows users to play six seasons– 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2011– and at almost every level, at least one former great has done serviceable work. It makes me wonder what might have been.

Here are a few players I turned to:

1951: Arky Vaughan was gone too soon, both in baseball and in life. An elite National League shortstop in the late 1930s and early ’40s, he quit in 1943 at 31 following a fight with Brooklyn Dodgers manager Leo Durocher. After sitting out the next three seasons at his ranch in California, Vaughan returned to Brooklyn when Durocher was suspended for the 1947 season. Vaughan played two more years as a reserve before quitting for good in 1948 at 36 (save for one more year in the Pacific Coast League), and I got to wondering how he might have done on the 1951 St. Louis Browns. In an all-retired lineup that also featured Hank Greenberg, Jimmie Foxx, and Mel Ott, Vaughan hit over .300 for me. Maybe his talents could have kept him in baseball longer and from drowning in a freak accident in 1952.

1963: I’ll admit the game isn’t perfect. I’ve used Herb Score a couple of times in assembling 1963 teams, and twice, he’s won more than 20 games for me. One of those times, Score even won a Cy Young Award. Granted, Score was something of a virtuoso when he broke into the majors in 1955, making the American League All Star team his first two years and going 20-9 with a 2.53 ERA in 1956. But he was never really the same pitcher after getting struck by a Gil McDougald line drive in 1957 and by the time Score quit playing in 1962 at 28, he was a little-used has-been. The game disregards this, seemingly offering only Score’s peak abilities.

1975: This was the beginning of the end for the Oakland A’s, with Catfish Hunter gone to the Yankees and Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, and others not long for town, rising salaries the death knell for small market Oakland. My challenge, as I saw it, was to cut payroll to keep the three-time defending World Series champs winning and in the black. To do this, I enlisted Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. Drysdale, who retired in 1969 at 33, went 10-4 for my ’75 A’s before suffering a season-ending injury. Koufax quit after the 1966 season because of his arthritic left arm, but was supposedly throwing heat at fantasy camps into the 1980s; in my simulation, he went 15-16 with an ERA somewhere over 4.00. My revamped A’s turned a profit but fell short of the AL West-leading 98-64 mark the real ’75 team posted.

1987: I built a Baltimore Orioles team with aging veterans like Fred Lynn, Mike Schmidt, and Nolan Ryan complementing unretired stars Rod Carew, Jim Palmer, and others. Carew quit in 1985, and I figured that as a 42-year-old contact hitter, he might be capable of some good work. He proved something of a disappointment and ended the year, I think, as my pinch hitter. Palmer fared better. While in real-life the Hall of Fame pitcher’s 1991 comeback didn’t last beyond spring training, a 41-year-old Palmer went 15-11 for me in ’87. It’s a wonder he quit in 1984 at 38, just 32 wins shy of 300.

1999: I haven’t played a 1999 team yet, though I’m curious what a 46-year-old George Brett would have left. He was something of an ageless wonder, winning batting titles in three decades, and in 1999 when more than 20 players had OPS scores over 1.000, Brett might have batted .250 as someone’s designated hitter.

2011: I turned to a couple of 46-year-old former All Stars to play for my Kansas City Royals. Jose Canseco didn’t do so hot, not a surprise really, regardless of how many times Canseco has taken to Twitter claiming he could still hack big league pitching. I was more bummed that I had to release my all-time favorite player, Will Clark, who like Canseco had a batting average somewhere in the lower .200s for me. Some things just aren’t meant to be, I guess.

What Wes Ferrell has in common with Babe Ruth

Editor’s note: Please welcome Adam Darowski. Adam is a loyal reader, a regular in the comments section here, and also a fine baseball history writer in his own right. He contributes often to Beyond The Boxscore and did a post about this site last year. Today, Adam covers one of the more interesting classes of ballplayers in baseball history.


Want to see an interesting group of players? How about the players in history who were most formidable on the mound and at the plate?

Players with 10+ position player WAR and 10+ pitching WAR, minimum 40+ total WAR (Source:
Player WAR/pos WAR/p WAR/tot
Babe Ruth 172.0 18.0 190.0
Walter Johnson 12.1 127.7 139.8
Al Spalding 10.0 70.7 80.7
Bob Caruthers 18.8 52.6 71.4
Red Ruffing 13.7 53.6 67.3
Monte Ward 39.5 25.4 64.9
Wes Ferrell 12.0 41.3 53.3
Jack Stivetts 10.5 42.5 53.0
Dave Foutz 18.1 30.0 48.1
Mike Smith 31.6 15.4 47.0
George Uhle 11.3 34.5 45.8

Babe Ruth: There’s not really much I could write about Babe Ruth that hasn’t already been written. One thing I’ve been wondering about is how good of a pitcher he could have been if he stuck with it. He was worth 18.3 WAR as a pitcher in Boston through his age 24 season (his Yankee pitching appearances were more for novelty). How many other pitchers have been worth that much through their age 24 seasons? Well, it turns out that in the 19th century there were a ton. Silver King, for example, already piled up 52.9 WAR. Granted, he did it in 2727 innings. If we limit it to 1500 innings, we get Bob Feller on top with 35.6 WAR followed by Frank Tanana at 30.9 and Dwight Gooden at 30.2. Ruth is actually only 24th, surrounded by pitchers like Robin Roberts, Mel Harder, Dutch Leonard, Dizzy Dean, and Dick Ellsworth. So, while these are all very good pitchers—and some are Hall of Famers—Babe Ruth the pitcher probably wouldn’t have been quite as dominant as Babe Ruth the hitter. But the very fact that he could have been a Hall of Famer as a pither or hitter is remarkable.

Walter Johnson: In addition to being one of the very best pitchers of all time (if not the best), Johnson hit .235/.274/.342 for a 76 OPS+. While a 76 OPS+ sounds weak, let’s remember that Omar Vizquel’s career OPS+ is 82 and some are talking about him for the Hall of Fame. For a pitcher, that winds up being worth 12.1 WAR when you keep it up over 2517 plate appearances. In 1925 (at age 37), he hit .433/.455/.577 in 107 PAs, good for 1.9 WAR.

Al Spalding: The first great pitching star of the major leagues, Spalding also played 64 games in the outfield and 52 at first base (among other positions). He hit .313/.323/.379 (an OPS+ of 116) over 1988 plate apparances. His 10.0 WAR as a hitter accents 70.6 pitching WAR (10.4 listed on Baseball-Reference, but an estimated 60.2 from his National Association career).

Bob Caruthers: It really is a wonder that Bob Caruthers is not in the Hall of Fame. In his 10-year career, he posted a 218-99 record as a pitcher with a 2.83 ERA (123 ERA+). He posted a pair of 10+ pitching WAR seasons (and two more above 8.0). His total of 52.6 pitching WAR is in addition to the 18.8 wins he provided as a hitter (71.4 total). He hit .282/.391/.400 in 2906 plate appearances., good for a 133 OPS+. He actually appeared in more games in the outfield (366) than at pitcher (340). He also played first base 13 times and second nine times.

Red Ruffing: Not your typical Hall of Famer, Red Ruffing posted a 273-225 record in 22 years. His ERA of 3.80 gives him an ERA+ of 110. He didn’t have much of a peak, maxing out his pitching WAR at 6.3 en route to a career total of 53.6. Compare him to Tommy John, who went 288-231 over 26 years with an ERA of 3.34 (111 ERA+) and 59.0 WAR (career high of 5.7). Where they differ is that special little extra Ruffing provided at the plate. He turned a .269/.306/.389 line (81 OPS+) and 36 homers into another 13.7 WAR. That gave him a total of 67.3. John, if you’re wondering, was worth -2.0 WAR at the plate.

Monte Ward: John Montgomery Ward is the only player in history with 25 WAR as a position player and 25 WAR as a pitcher. He is also one of the most interesting figures in baseball history. He was a Columbia Law School graduate. He started the first player’s union—and then formed the Player’s League. He literally wrote the book on how to be a baseball player. He could hit, run, play a mean shortstop, and pitch. Like Ruth, his pitching career was over with the end of his age 24 season. He had accumulated 25.4 WAR in nearly 2500 innings already, but an injury forced him to become a position player. In fact, while his arm healed, he taught himself to throw left-handed so he could play center field. Once his arm was healed, he became an exceptional shortstop. In all, he played 826 games at short, 493 at second, 214 in the outfield, and 46 at third while accumulating 39.5 WAR (for a total of 64.9).

Wes Ferrell: Because of the era in which he played, Wes Ferrell holds the highest career ERA (4.04) for any pitcher with an ERA+ of 115 or better and 1000 or more innings—and that includes “steroid era” pitchers. For example, in 1936 Ferrell went 20–15 with a 4.19 ERA. But the league was busy posting a 5.04 ERA, so Ferrell’s mark actually gave him an ERA+ of 128. Ferrell was hurt by his era even more than a guy like Andy Pettitte. Pettitte owns a 3.88 career ERA to Ferrell’s 4.04, but both have an ERA+ of 117. Ferrell brought another demention to his game, and that dimension involved hitting the baseball hard. He clubbed 38 home runs to go along with a .280/.351/.446 batting line. That gave him an OPS+ of 100. Think about that. In the most offense-heavy era in history, a pitcher posted a league average batting line for his career. That was worth 12.0 wins, giving him a total of 53.3.

Jack Stivetts: Stivetts was a star hurler in the American Association, spending three seasons in the league and compiling 22.9 of his 42.5 career pitching WAR. He didn’t have the same success in the National League, but he was still a valuable pitcher, averaging about four WAR per season in his first five NL seasons. His career was over at age 31 with 203 wins, 132 losses, and a 3.74 ERA (for a 120 ERA+). What makes him more interesting is his power hitting line. He hit .298/.344/.439 in 2148 plate appearances for an OPS+ of 106. He accented those numbers with 35 homers and 46 triples. His 10.5 WAR as a hitter brings his total to 53.0 WAR.

Dave Foutz: From 1884 to 1891, Foutz was a teammate of Bob Caruthers with St. Louis and Brooklyn. Foutz did the majority of his pitching during his St. Louis years, compiling 1458 of his 1997 innings and 25.4 of his 30.0 career pitching WAR in those four seasons. In 1886, Foutz was worth 12.3 WAR on the mound while Caruthers was worth 9.6. Caruthers was also worth 4.3 at the plate while Foutz brought in 1.4. The team, needless to say, was impressive (going 93–46). Overall, Foutz won 218 and lost 99 for a gaudy .688 winning percentage. That went along with a 2.83 ERA and 123 ERA+. Foutz actually played far more in the field than on the mound, playing 596 times at first, 320 times in the outfield, and 251 times on the mound. He hit .276/.323/.378 for an OPS+ of 102. He was worth 18.1 WAR at the plate and 30.0 on the mound, totaling 48.1.

Mike Smith: Smith, also listed as “Elmer Smith”, was a very unique player in that he’s just one of five on this list with 15+ WAR in both columns. He started his career as a teenage pitcher with Cincinnati in the American Association in the late 1880s. After a nine-game stint in 1886, he posted 11.3 WAR on the mound in 1887. He followed that up with a 6.0 WAR season in 1888 and a -0.6 WAR season with an arm injury in 1889. After missing two seasons, he re-emerged as a power hitting left fielder for Pittsburgh. At the plate, he hit .310/.398/.434 for a 126 OPS+ over 5422 plate appearances (including a pair of 6+ WAR seasons). He totaled 31.6 WAR at the plate and 15.4 on the mound (with final numbers of 75-57, 3.35 ERA, 113 ERA+ in 1210 innings), giving him 47.0 WAR overall.

George Uhle: After three 19th century players, we get back to the 20th century with Uhle. Uhle, a pioneer of the slider, pitched 17 seasons and went 200-166 with a 3.99 ERA (106 ERA+). The three-time 20-game winner earned 34.5 WAR for his performance on the hill. Uhle is a bit unique from most pitchers on this list, as he never played anywhere other than pitcher. He was frequently used as a pinch hitter and accrued 11.3 WAR at the plate thanks to a .289/.339/.384 (86 OPS+) line. He total value overall was 45.8 WAR.

Some other two-way players who don’t quite fit the above criteria include Jim Whitney (35.9 as pitcher, 9.1 as hitter, 45.0 overall), Don Newcombe (29.7 as pitcher, 9.0 as hitter, 38.7 overall), George Mullin (26.3 as pitcher, 11.7 as hitter, 38.0 overall), Smokey Joe Wood (26.2 as pitcher, 9.3 as hitter, 35.5 overall), and Nixey Callahan (11.0 as pitcher, 10.8 as hitter, 21.8 overall). Looking at only modern pitchers, Mike Hampton (20.8 as pitcher, 7.3 as hitter, 28.1 overall), Carlos Zambrano (31.8 as pitcher, 5.3 as hitter, 37.1 overall), Tom Glavine (67.0 as pitcher, 4.6 as hitter, 71.6 overall), and Dontrelle Willis (13.0 as pitcher, 4.3 as hitter, 17.3 overall) come the closest.

The College Professor vs. the High School Coach

This 2011 World Series is thus far proving to be a showdown between two managers with polar opposite managing styles.  Both got their teams to the big game but both did so with wildly different styles.  Only time will tell which style is more effective

I find it interesting the contrast in styles as both teams are very similar.  Through no fault of either organization, St. Louis and Texas are built to score runs and rely on their starters to get them to the sixth inning where the bullpens take over.  Apart from Chris Carpenter for the Cardinals, neither team really has a dominant starting pitcher. I mean, generally speaking. Any of the starters can have one of those dominant games but the teams are not built around starter dependency along the lines of a team such as the Philadelphia Phillies. Never mind that games one and two were low scoring and pitching dominated. That can be explained by some stellar infield defense, especially from the middle of the Texas infield. Certainly, either manager would like to have a starting staff whose numbers one through three could dominate but both managers realize, especially in a short series such as a best of seven, waiting for the starter to work his way through a tough inning could be a dangerous  form of strategy.

Both managers continued to use their pitching staff as if the game was a low scoring affair as in the previous two matchups. Each had different reasons and in doing so, shone the spotlight on how different they really are. The college professor vs. the high school coach. Both wore a path from their respective dugouts to the pitching mound despite a score which ended up more like a football game than anything else. Both had different reasons for doing so.

Texas used five relief pitchers, St. Louis used four. Washington’s’ hand was being forced by the prodigious offence of St. Louis and with the knowledge that his team were equally capable of another touchdown or two. But he also knows that there is a limit to how many runs any team can score and continued to try to find someone in the bullpen that could stop the Cardinal onslaught. Obviously, he wasn’t successful last night.

Tony LaRussa had a different motivation in almost emptying out his bullpen despite the offense he was getting. He is from an older school of managing. These managerial types worry no matter what the score. They are often accused of over managing but their thinking is as follows. They worry if their team is well out in front because losing a big lead would be disastrous. They worry if they are far behind and try to come up with a way to catch the opponent and eventually win the game. If the game is close either way, they worry equally. When the game is over, win or lose, this type of manager is already planning the next day’s strategy immediately after the last pitch has been thrown. The joy for them seems to be in the intellectual pursuit of a victory. Sometimes how the game was won rather than if the game was won. Every pitch is analyzed, second guessed and fretted over.

Ron Washington seems to be more of the let the guys play and cheer them on. It’s a kids game and after the game let’s all go out for a soda and a couple of Big Macs. Nothing wrong there. His style has obviously worked well as this is the Rangers second straight World Series appearance. His Rangers might be looser than the Cardinals and he unabashedly cheers his team on with every success, minor or important. The Rangers looked tight last night which would explain the physical and mental errors which lead to the lopsided game three score, with three Albert Pujols  home runs certainly not helping things.

But I think Texas will bounce back from game three and, if not able to win the trophy, at least make the World Series interesting and hopefully a seven game affair.

The professor is deadly serious and using a surgeon’s knife to cut precisely where it is needed. The high school coach cheers on his guys and hopes to get them tomorrow. Both styles are interesting and both are legitimate. We shall see which works better in the next few days.

A new look here

It started on Tuesday evening when I couldn’t log in to this Web site to schedule a post by Joe Guzzardi for publication.

I emailed the friendly tech guys here, and for the next day and a half, they couldn’t figure out the issue that was keeping my site from loading, save for an error message onscreen that the server was down.

Finally, one of the tech guys determined today that the issue had to do with the old background theme. He swapped it out, and what sits here now was originally meant as a placeholder. I like the look though, and after almost two-and-a-half years, I think we were long overdue for a redesign. Before today, in fact, there had never actually been one.

Thus, the new look will stay. Any feedback is welcome and appreciated.