Saturday, March 31, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Flipside: Those numbers are too small to read here. Let me recap some of stats: 12 seasons with 15 or more wins, 20 seasons with 200+ innings, and 21 seasons with 100+ strikeouts.
Oddball: Sutton was a consistently poor hitter, hitting over .200 just once in his career. In 1,235 career at bats he never homered, and hit just fifteen doubles and one triple.
Sutton and Dodger teammate Steve Garvey once had a locker room brawl that was instigated by some less than kind remarks about Garvey's image.
History: Sutton certainly won a ton of games in his long career. He was elected to the HOF in 1998 in his fifth year of eligibility. Sutton is sometimes looked as a "compiler", someone who played so long their career totals are bound to be impressive. He had a nice peak in the early 70's followed by a decade of very good pitching that often was at or near All-Star level (see graph below). He was ejected from a 1978 contest for scuffing the ball and it is widely admitted by everyone but Sutton that he doctored the ball throughout his career.
After he was done playing, Sutton moved into the broadcast booth working for the Braves from '89 to '06. He then worked on Washington Nationals TV for a couple of years before returning to Atlanta to work on radio broadcasts.
Graph borrowed from seamheads.com showing year by year Wins Above Replacement.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Oddball: Caldwell was one of the three left-handed Mikes to hand Ron Guidry his only three losses in '78. The other guys were Mike Flanagan and Mike Willis.
Like many players of his day, Caldwell was a prankster. Once while teaming with Reggie Cleveland, he locked Bob McClure in Milwaukee County Stadium's bullpen outhouse by tying the doorknob to the flagpole. McClure got the pair back when he snuck a filthy pig into the duo's hotel room. The pig proceeded to trash the room while McClure listened from across the hall. When he checked on them the next morning the room had been cleaned and Caldwell had the pig in a dog collar and was feeding it french fries. A partial story of the wild prank can be found here.
History: Caldwell was the proverbial crafty lefty. He relied on his sinker to induce ground balls and dropped his three-quarter delivery to near side arm against lefties. Caldwell's career was marked by his dominant '78 season and his '82 World Series performance.
Since '87, Caldwell had bounced around the minors as a pitching coach making stops with nine different teams. He is currently the pitching coach for the Arizona League Giants
Friday, March 23, 2012
Flipside: Topps included 26 Indians in the set including Manager Dave Garcia. Bert Blyleven who only pitched in four games in '82 is the lone Hall of Famer present. Rookie Carmelo Castillo played in 20 more games and batted 41 more times than Bake McBride who didn't play after May 21, but Topps deferred to the veteran while Castillo would have to wait for his first card.
Most common starters:
C Ron Hassey
1b Mike Hargrove
2b Jack Perconte
3b Toby Harrah
SS Mike Fischlin
LF Miguel Dilone
CF Rick Manning
RF Von Hayes
DH Andre Thornton
The Indians led the AL in walks with Hargrove and Thornton both topping 100 and Harrah adding 84. The problem was manager Garcia was prone to batting Dilone and his .286 OBP leadoff. As a team, they could get on base but were 12th in slugging so they had trouble getting them home. It didn't help that Thornton didn't have any protection behind him.
Utility man Alan Bannister played all over the place and owned a .346 OBP. Garcia sometimes put him in the leadoff spot where he was a better option than Dilone. The middle infield was a weak spot shared by Perconte, Fischlin, Larry Milbourne, and Jerry Dybzinski. Hassey's bat was so-so while getting the bulk of playing time at catcher. He was backed up by the light hitting duo of Chris Bando and Ron Nahorodny.
Manning was mediocre in center. A young Von Hayes patrolled RF, playing good defense but he hadn't yet developed his offensive game. He did have a little pop with 14 dingers, joining Harrah (25), and Thornton (32) as the only players with more than eight.
This was definitely a sore point as they finished 11th in ERA despite boasting the league leader in Sutcliffe who started the year in the pen and didn't join the rotation until mid-May. Len Barker ate up the most innings with 244 and recorded a 3.90 ERA.
Larry Sorensen started 30 games while Rick Waits and John Denny started 21 apiece at the back of the rotation. All three posted ERA's north of 5.00 and Denny was shipped off to Philadelphia late in the year.
Dan Spillner had a 2.49 ERA and 21 Saves as the ace reliever. Ed Whitson, Tom Brennan and Bud Anderson all started a handful of games when they weren't pitching middle relief or setting up Spillner. Ed Glynn was the lone lefty reliever.
If Blyleven had been healthy, or Denny pitched like he did in '81 or '83, they no doubt could have finished over .500.
Oddball: This was a streaky team. On May 6, they were 9-14 and proceded to win 5 of 6 games. They followed that by losing 8 out of 9 games and then reeled off 11 consecutive wins, giving them a 26-23 record. Cleveland couldn't sustain it though and dropped 5 out of 6 contests and played one game under .500 the rest of the way to finish at 78-84.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Flipside: I never realized that Randolph was such a singles hitter until analyzing his stats. He never hit more than 7 HR in a season and his 43 extra base hits in '77 established a high water mark, hitting over 33 just one more time.
Oddball: Randolph played his whole career as a second-baseman except for ten games at DH and one unfortunate game at third. Late in his rookie year he started a 9/28 affair at the hot corner in the first half of a double header against the Cardinals. Randolph made three errors, but was not the only one kicking the ball around that day as teammates Rennie Stennett and John Candeleria also made two errors each. That's right, the Pirates committed seven errors in that game, leading to five unearned runs and a 6-2 loss.
History: Randolph captured two World Series rings early in his career, yet he seems under rated for someone with his career totals. Although he posted six seasons with 1.0 or more dWAR, he never won a Gold Glove. His on base skills would be more appreciated by todays fans and the many savvy analytical types currently holding GM positions in baseball. Among players who spent at least 75% of their career at secondbase, only nine others have more than Randolph's 60.7 career Wins Above Replacement. In Hall of Fame voting, he received 1.1% in '98 and fell off the ballot.
After his playing career, Randolph coached with the Yankees where he worked until 2004. He then moved across town to the Mets where he managed for three and a half turbulent years. Since then he was on staff with the Brewers for two years and the Orioles for one. In 2012, Randolph will try his hand at studio work, as he joins the crew on the Yankees Daily Show.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Stuff: Fastball in the 90s, slider, curve, change
Flipside: Topps really emphasized Berenyi's hitting but failed to mention his complete game shutout against the Astros on September 24.
Oddball: Berenyi did a great job of keeping the ball in the park. He finished in the top five in HR/9 in each of his first four full seasons.
History: Berenyi had an All-Star arm but control problems and injuries derailed his stay in the big leagues. He had an excellent year in '82 (4.9 WAR) and deserved much better than his 9-18 record. At least he got a World Series share and a ring for his partial season with the Mets in '86.
Monday, March 19, 2012
He was an intense man, who concentrated mightily on the game. For relief from baseball pressures, he would take it upon himself to be the club entertainer. The son of two former vaudevillians, he had a knack for performance, and was particularly renowned for his 'Baseball Soliloquy in Pantomime.' It was a comic turn he'd occasionally perform during rain delays, stuffing his uniform with padding and prancing around a soggy tarpaulin performing exaggerated parodies of hitters, pitchers, umpires. It was genuinely funny, and while impatient fans waited for the rains to end, they'd applaud Dempsey lustily. His teammates and members of the opposing team would stand in the dugouts and applaud with the fans, especially when Dempsey concluded his routine with a mammoth belly-flop slide into home plate on the infield tarp, his momentum carrying him for yards, a rooster tail of rainwater behind him.A portion of Dempsey's routine can be found at the 4:43 mark of this video.
History: Dempsey was known for his defense which helped him stick around for what seemed like forever. Over the last three of four years of his career I remember being astonished on an annual basis that he was still playing. Along the way he won a World Series MVP and two rings.
Since retiring, Dempsey has managed in the minors for the Dodger and Mets and has been on the Orioles coaching staff. He currently works on Oriole cable TV pre-game and post-game shows and the occasional color commentary.