The Sidorski Score

The Sidorski Score is a way to figure out just how infuriating a sacrifice bunt should be – the higher the score the higher the rage.  Ranges from 5 to 50 points.  As an example I will use Albert Almora’s sacrice against the Cardinals on April 4, and Michael Martinez’s bunt against Arizona on April 9.

 

What inning is the sacrifice occurring?

Simply ten minus the inning.  If the game is in extra innings, then it’s one point.

Date Last Inn SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1
04/09/17 Martinez 7 3

 

What is the run differential?

If it’s before the eighth inning or four plus runs then just atomically add ten points.  If it’s after the seventh and it’s a tie game add a point, if it’s a one run game add three points, if it’s two or three runs add five points.

Date Last Inn RD SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 4
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 13

 

Is a better hitter following?

If yes, then add two points.  If not add six points.

Date Last Inn RD BH SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 Y 6
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 Y 15

 

Is a pinch hitter bunting?

If no, then zero points.  If yes, add five points and keep me away from the manager.

Date Last Inn RD BH PH SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 Y N 6
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 Y Y 20

 

Where is the runner being advanced to?

This is the lead runner only.  If it’s a suicide/safety squeeze add a point, if he’s moving to third add five points, if it’s to second add three.

Date Last Inn RD BH PH ADV SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 Y N 2 9
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 Y Y 3 25

 

Is it a high scoring game or a low scoring game?

Obviously the value of a run means a lot more in a low scoring game.  Again, before the eighth just add ten points.  After the eighth if there are a total of 20 or more runs add ten points, if there are less than ten runs scored add zero points.  Otherwise, take the total runs scored at the time and subtract ten from it.

Date Last Inn RD BH PH ADV TS SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 Y N 2 3 9
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 Y Y 3 4 35

 

Did the first two hitters reach safely or did the leadoff hitter reach via a four pitch walk?

If either answer is yes, add five points.  Otherwise add zero points.

Date Last Inn RD BH PH ADV TS 12BR SS
04/04/17 Almora 9 1 Y N 2 3 N 9
04/09/17 Martinez 7 2 Y Y 3 4 Y 40

 

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My 2017 Awards Picks

Today I’m selecting my picks for each of the individual awards in the American and National Leagues.

 

American League

Most Valuable Player:  Jose Altuve, Houston

Altuve leads the AL in average, is third in OBP, is fourth in Slugging, third in OPS.  His 8.2 bWAR, 7.3 fWAR, and 35 Win Shares all lead the league as well.  Maybe things would be different if Mike Trout had not missed six weeks of the season – even now he’s tied for second in Win Shares – but the fact is that he did miss those six weeks.  With all due respect to Jose Ramirez, Eric Hosmer, Trout, Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts, and Frankie Lindor, my pick Is Altuve.

 

Cy Young Award:  Corey Kluber, Cleveland

The vote is between two pitchers, Kluber and Boston’s Chris Sale.  Yes, Kluber missed a month, but here are all of their stats:

 

Win Shares:  Kluber 22, Sale 20

bWAR:  Kluber 7.8, Sale 6.2

fWAR:  Sale 8.2, Kluber 7.1

ERA:  Kluber 2.27, Sale 2.75

ERA+:  Kluber 201, Sale 164

FIP:  Sale 2.22, Kluber 2.51

xFIP:  Kluber 2.49, Sale 2.62

ERA-:  Kluber 51, Sale 61

FIP-:  Sale 51, Kluber 57

xFIP-:  Kluber 56, Sale 59

CG:  Kluber 5, Sale 1

ShO:  Kluber 3, Sale 0

Average Game Score:  Kluber 68.3, Sale 65.3

QS:  Sale 23, Kluber 22

QS%:  Kluber 78.57%, Sale 74.19%

IP:  Sale 209.1, Kluber 198.2

K/9:  Sale 12.898, Kluber 11.869

WHIP:  Kluber .861, Sale .946

SO:  Sale 300, Kluber 262

K/BB:  Sale 7.317, Kluber 7.278

Adjusted Pitching Runs:  Kluber 48, Sale 40

Adjusted Pitching Wins:  Kluber 5.2, Sale 4.2

Base-Out Runs Saved (RE24):  Kluber 53.26, Sale 40.72

 

And basically with each of those stats they rank 1-2 the AL in each category.  But that count has 15 for Kluber, eight for Sale.  To be perfectly honest, I would love to give them both of the Cy Young Awards because they have been the best two pitchers in baseball this season.  But you can only give one in each league, and the guy who jumped from third in the Bill James Online Starting Pitcher Rankings at the beginning of the year to first is my pick.

 

Rookie of the Year Award:  Aaron Judge, New York

Yes, he had a prolonged slump after the All-Star Break.  But he was the biggest story of the first half, he leads the league in homeruns, runs, and walks, he has a 7.3 bWAR, he has 27 Win Shares, and he has a 7.3 fWAR.  This seems like the easiest vote of all of them.

 

Manager of the Year:  Paul Molitor, Minnesota

Several managers deserve credit for what they have accomplished this season.  Terry Francona and John Farrell were both expected to guide teams back to division titles, and both lived up to that (not as easy of an accomplishment as it seems) and Houston had high expectations and have lived up to them as well.  Joe Girardi’s Yankees rebounded a lot quicker than originally anticipated.

 

The Twins, though?  Most had them as a 90-loss team.  Their best player has been Byron Buxton (.253/.316/.419/.735, .249 True Average – .260 is average).  His staff has gotten 72.2 innings from Bartolo Colon.  And somehow this team will be playing in Yankee Stadium in a wild card game on Tuesday.  They have won about 12 more games than anyone would have reasonably expected them to win.

 

Rolaids Relief Ace:  Craig Kimbrel, Boston

Kimbrel’s averaging 16.39 K/9, he’s walked 14 guys all season.  This stands out, too.  He’s struck out 122 of 246 batters.  In 2012 he struck out more than half the hitters he faced, and he’s right there again.  That is how you slam doors shut at the end of games.

 

National League

Most Valuable Player:  Charlie Blackmon, Colorado

On Facebook I initially reacted with Charlie Blackmon as the MVP and I went back and forth until I decided that yes, I’m going with another leadoff guy as my league MVP.    He leads the league in Runs Created (via baseball-reference), he’s second in extra base hits, leads the league in average, triples, runs scored, total bases, hits, and runs scored, he’s second in offensive winning percentage, etc.  The NL is loaded with candidates and the race is really tight.  I’m sticking with Blackmon because he was my original choice, but if Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Giancarlo Stanton, or Corey Seager win the award I’m more than fine with it.

 

Cy Young Award:  Max Scherzer, Washington

Fun fact:  Clayton Kershaw has a chance to lower his career ERA for the ninth consecutive season.  While Kershaw has been very good this season, Scherzer still leads in strikeouts, K/9, and WHIP, as well as adjusted pitching runs and wins, and RE24.  Scherzer has also done this with 26 more innings than Kershaw.  So with all due respect to Zack Greinke, Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Gio Gonzalez, Robbie Ray, and Stephen Strasburg, my pick is Mad Max.

 

Rookie of the Year Award:  Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles

The 21-year old has a 147 OPS+, 39 homeruns, a .954 OPS, and a .599 Slugging.  He basically took this award by the end of June.

 

Rolaids Relief Ace:  Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles

The worst thing for a reliever to do is continually put runners on base.  Jansen did not walk a hitter until June 25.  He has seven walks all year.  His has allowed 51 baserunners in 66 innings.  That’s it.  His K/BB rate is 15.00.  He has only one blown save, to boot.

Steve Balboni

Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Steve Balboni.  Balboni was drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 1978 draft, four picks after the Orioles took Cal Ripken*.

 

*-The first overall pick in 1978?  Another big man who hit homeruns – Bob Horner.

 

He showed good power in the minors, hitting 26 and 34 homers in consecutive seasons in A and AA ball before getting a cup of coffee with the Yankees.  Then after hitting 33 homers in 125 games for AAA Columbus he got another brief trip to the big leagues.  He was with the big league club again in May of 1982, but struggled, went back down and kept hitting homers, this time 32 in just 83 games, which got him a September call back.  In 1983 he bounced back and forth between the bigs and AAA, hitting 27 homers in just 84 minor league games.  By this time he had displayed a .499 slugging average in the minors.

 

But the Yankees already had a promising first baseman who was four years younger named Don Mattingly, so in December of 1983 the Yankees sent Balboni and Roger Erickson to the Kansas City Royals for Duane Dewey and Mike Armstrong.

 

Though he didn’t walk a lot (with the exception of a couple of George Brett seasons no one on the Royals ever walked a lot) but he did crack 28 homers which was the second best total in the franchise’s history and the Royals won the weak AL West with an 84-78 record but were swept in the ALCS.

 

The following season was a struggle for a while for the aging Royals.  A team that was at one point the model franchise of the American League because of their homegrown talent was starting to get old.  After a loss to Detroit on August 5 the Royals were five behind the Angels with a 55-48 record.  They pick up their pace, though, going 36-23 (.610).  During that same stretch Balboni hit 13 homeruns, giving him 36 for the season, a franchise record.  The Royals twice came back from 3-1 series deficits to win their first World Series championship, but the homerun champion hit exactly zero homeruns in the ALCS or the World Series, but also zero doubles or any extra base hits for that matter.  He did go 8-25 (.320) in the World Series, though.

 

In 1986 he would hit 29 homers and in 1987 he hit 24 more.  In 1988 he struggled mightily out of the gate, hitting just .143/.156/.270 with two homers in 64 plate appearances before the Royals released him at the end of May.  In June he signed with the Mariners and put up respectable numbers in Seattle (111 OPS+).

 

Just before the start of the 1989 season he was traded back to the Yankees for Dana Ridenour (a minor league pitcher who never reached the big leagues).  The Yankees were dysfunctional at that time so they played Balboni a lot more than they should have and his big league career was basically done.  He did hit 86 more homers in the minor leagues with Oklahoma City – Texas’s AAA team – to give him 239 minor league homers and 420 career homers in both the majors and minors.

 

Now about those 36 homers in 1985.  That was 32 years ago.  Only once has anyone really gotten close to breaking the franchise record and that was Gary Gaetti in 1995.  Sure it was strike shortened, but imagine the idea of Gary Gaetti being the single season franchise homerun leader.

 

Hell, since 1986 every team has had at least one player hit more than Balboni’s 36, and only Pittsburgh failed to have a hitter clear 40 (Brian Giles hit 39).

 

I bring this up because the Royals’ Mike Moustakas is at 35 homeruns right now.  He should get two more and break the record, but in typical Royals’ fashion they have hit the skids.  At the time of this typing the Royals haven’t scored in 43 consecutive innings.  On August 1 they were just two games behind the Indians in the AL Central standings.  Now they are three out of the wild card race and on top of that are behind four other teams that are also trailing.  An 8-17 August will do that to you.

 

But Moustakas should hit at least two more homeruns.  He may be gone after this season – the team has several guys from their World Series run going to free agency and are already regretting siging Alex Gordon and his 69 OPS+ the last two years (and at 33 this year doesn’t look to get any better).

 

So the franchise’s single season homerun leader will likely still not be with the team next year.  But after 32 years it may finally be Bye Bye, Steve Balboni.

Cesar Cedeno

Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Cesar  Cedeno.  Cendeno was born in 1951 in the Dominican Republic and was signed by the Astros at age 16.  Just three years later he was in the big leagues, hitting .310/.340/.451 in 377 plate appearances with seven homers and 17 stolen bases in 21 attempts, and finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting*.

 

*-I get more of a kick out of the Rookie of the Year voting than in any other voting, because the results can leave people scratching their heads all these years later.  In 1970 the winner in the NL was Carl Morton, a pitcher with the Montreal Expos.  The best reasoning I can figure is that he was 18-11 for a second-year team that improved by 21 games.  He was done after the 1976 season with an 87-92 record and a 102 ERA+.  The others that finished ahead of Cedeno were Bernie Carbo (1.004 OPS that season) and Larry Bowa (who actually had a negative bWAR in 1970).

 

He followed up that by leading the league in doubles in each of the next two years.  In 1972 he made his first All-Star team and won his first Gold Glove to go along with a sixth place finish in the MVP voting.  From 1972 through 1974 Cedeno hit .302/.365/.509 (147 OPS+) and averaged 24 homers, 34 doubles, 56 stolen bases (76% success rate).  During the 1973 season his manager Leo Durocher compared him to Willie Mays, another center fielder he was familiar with.  But it wasn’t going to be all well and good.

 

In December of 1973 a gun went off in a motel room in which he and a 19-year old mistress were at.  The girl took a bullet to the head and eventually died, and Cedeno fled in panic.  Apparently alcohol and drugs were involved and there is only one person who knows for sure what happened.  He turned himself in the next day.  After some negotiating Cedeno served a grand total of 20 days in jail and paid a small fine.  Though he showed up to spring training with the incident theoretically behind him, many fans wouldn’t let him forget.

 

In 1980 the Astros were coming off of their best finish in franchise history (89-73, second in the NL West) and were looking to take the next step.  At the All-Star break they were tied for first and Cedeno was hitting .305/.372/.479.  They played every bit as well in the second half of the season, but couldn’t shake the Dodgers.  In what was an amazing year for pennant races, the final weekend of the year actually offered three races to be determined (the Royals had long clinched the AL West and finished 14 games ahead of Oakland).

 

In the AL East, the Yankees clinched on the next to last day of the season, denying a 100-win Orioles team a postseason berth.  In the NL East the Mike Schmidt’s two-run blast in the 11th inning in Montreal clinched the division title over the Expos on the Saturday before season’s end.  Houston didn’t make it as easy on themselves.  After a 3-2 win over Atlanta and the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss to the Giants the Astros had a three game lead with three games left to play – all in Los Angeles.

 

The Dodgers took the first game in 10 innings when Joe Ferguson homered off of Ken Forsch.  In the second game Steve Garvey homered off of Nolan Ryan to lead off the fourth and break a 1-1 tie that held up.  In series finale the Astros had an early 3-0 lead but squandered it and lost when Ron Cey hit a two-run homer off of Frank LaCorte in the bottom of the eighth, forcing a one-game playoff for the NL West title.

 

The Dodgers comeback went for naught, though.  The Astros scored a pair in the first and third innings and added three more in the fourth, Joe Niekro threw a complete game six-hitter and the Astros were NL West champs for the first time.  The Astros lost the NLCS to the Phillies in an incredible five game series (four of the five games went into extra innings), but Cedeno who suffered a broken ankle and would see a new position the following year.

In 1981, though, things had boiled over for Cedeno.  After years of hearing “MURDERER!!!” and “WHO’S NEXT?!” – and eventually getting racial – about his 1973 incident Cedeno had enough and actually charged into the seats to confront on particular heckler.

 

That was probably one of several factors that led to Cedeno being traded by the Astros to the Reds for Ray Knight.  After being reduced to a part time role in Cincy, and was traded in late August for a minor league outfielder to St. Louis as a replacement for an injured Vince Coleman.  In 28 games Cedeno .434/.463./750 with six homers, four doubles, and five steals to help the Cardinals fend off the New York Mets and win the NL East.  The Cardinals would win the pennant but lose the World Series in epic fashion.  It was also Cesar Cedeno’s last shining moment.  He retired after putting up a .576 OPS in just 37 games with the Dodgers.

 

In 1985 he had an argument with a new girlfriend and then drove into a tree.  When the police arrested him he refused to submit to a breathalyzer test and then got violent, attempting to kick his way out of the back seat.  The following year Cedeno smashed a glass in a man’s face after being bumped into accidentally and was charged with assault and resisting arrest.  Then in 1988 things got ugly again.  This time he not only assaulted his latest girlfriend but at one point took their four month old child and then returned to beat her again.  Again he was charged with assault and resistance.

 

He had his personal troubles and he had his share of injuries (besides the broken ankle he had a knee injury in 1972 winter ball, a torn ligament in 1978, and had a bout with hepatitis in 1979), but it’s pretty clear where Durocher came up with the Mays comparison.

 

Cedeno stole 50 bases six times.  At the time of Durocher’s comparison he was having his second straight season with a .537 slugging average and a .320 average.  Besides injuries the prime of his career was spent in the Astrodome, where fly balls went to die.

 

But for his career he hit .283/.347/.443 (123 OPS+), hit 199 homeruns, 436 doubles, 60 triples, stole 550 bases (75.4% success rate), won five Gold Gloves, and made four All-Star teams.  His HOFR of 58.18 puts him a little short of the Hall of Fame by my math, but even a couple of more good years may not have made the difference because of his off field issues.  Regardless, he was one of the first real stars the Astros produced, and was a very good all-around player during one of baseball’s most eclectic eras.

Frank Tanana

Today’s Random Player From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is Frank Tanana.  Tanana was the 13th overall pick of the 1971 draft by the California Angels.

 

That draft was famous because in the second round Mike Schmidt and George Brett were taken with back-to-back picks.  But Tanana was actually the first pick in the draft that actually was of any real value to a team.  Two picks later Jim Rice was selected.  Rick Rhoden was taken a few picks later, and that was really the best of the first round.  Ron Guidry went in the third round, and after that it was pretty slim pickens.  Such is the crapshoot that is the draft.

 

Tanana made it to the big leagues in September of 1973 and by 1974 was at the top of the Angels’ rotation with Nolan Ryan.  In 1975 he struck out a league high 269 hitters and recorded a league best 2.49 FIP to go along with league leading K/9 and K/BB rates and tied with Jim Kaat for fourth in the Cy Young voting.  The following season he made his first of three straight All-Star teams, finished third in the Cy Young voting, and led the league in WHIP and K/BB rate.  In 1977 he led the league in shutouts, ERA, and ERA+.

 

But his strikeout rate was dropping rapidly.  After two straight seasons of 260+ strikeouts he dropped to 205 in 1977 and then 137 in 1978.  In 1979 a shoulder injury sidelined him from early June through August.  When he returned in September he still struggled, pitching just 29 innings in five starts and recorded less than four strikeouts per nine innings.  The Angels did win their first division title, but lost the best-of-five ALCS to Baltimore in four games.  Tanana got a no decision in California’s lone win as Larry Harlow’s double in the ninth finished off the two-run rally for a 4-3 win.

 

After the 1980 season Tanana was traded with Jim Dorsey and Joe Rudi to Boston for Fred Lynn and Steve Renko.  He pitched only one season in Boston; for the first time in a full season he failed pitch 200 innings.  He was a free agent at season’s end and signed with the hopeless Texas Rangers.  In his three and a half seasons with Texas he had a 3.81 ERA (106 ERA+), but his won-loss record was 31-49 because the Rangers were terrible.

 

In June of 1985 he was traded to his hometown Detroit Tigers.  The defending World Series champs would go 48-51 the rest of the way to finish third in the division.  In 1987 the Tigers were caught up in a tight pennant race with the Blue Jays.  The race came down to the last weekend of the season and the two teams met for a three game finale in Detroit with the Tigers trailing by one game in the standings.  Detroit took the first game 4-3.  The Tigers then took the second game in 12 innings.  This meant that one more win would give the Tigers the division and a loss would force a one-game playoff.  Jimmy Key gave up a homerun to Larry Herndon in the second inning and that was all the scoring as Tanana pitched a complete game shutout and the Tigers were the division champs.  They lost the ALCS to the Twins in five games and would not return to the playoffs for nearly 20 years.

 

After the 1992 season he signed with the Mets.  The Mets were a shattered disaster of what was looking like a dynasty just four years earlier.  He was traded late in the season to the Yankees as the Bronx Bombers were making a last ditch run at the AL East.  They would fall seven games short and that would be Tanana’s last hurrah.

 

His HOFR of 57.72 puts him short of the Hall in my system.  But he still racked up just under 4200 innings, and struck out over 2700 hitters.  My two favorite tidbits about Tanana are these:

 

  1. In 616 games he started in his career his teams were 308-308 – exactly .500
  2. He and Rick Reuschel are the only two pitchers to give up homeruns to both Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.

 

Overall he was a good pitcher for a very long time.  But I wonder what would’ve happened if he could’ve kept up the early start he had.  It was said about him that he threw 90 in the 70’s and 70 in the 90’s.  If he could’ve kept up the velocity longer he might have done enough to get a plaque in Cooperstown . . .

Tim Wallach

Today’s Random Player from The Baseball Project That May or May Not Amount to Anything is Tim Wallach.  Wallach was taken with the tenth overall pick of the 1979 draft by the Montreal Expos out of Cal State Fullerton.

 

He made his major league debut on September 6, 1980 in San Francisco.  His first time up he drew a walk.  His second time up he homered making him the 55th player ever to homer in his first official at-bat.

 

It have always found this to be a fascinating list, players who homered in their first at-bat.  There’s 121 of them.  For 22 of those players that was the only homerun they ever hit.  Only two of the 121 reached the Hall of Fame – Earl Averill is one, Hoyt Wilhelm is the other.  Jay Bell and Bert Campaneris both did it, and both later would lead the league in sacrifice bunts.  Will Clark’s first at-bat was famously in the Astrodome against Nolan Ryan.  The player with the most homeruns on that list?  Gary Gaetti of course, with 360.  Like I said, it’s a fascinating list.

 

He started getting regular playing time in 1981, Montreal’s only playoff run.  By 1982 he was the team’s everyday third baseman, replacing the traded Larry Parrish.  In 1982 he posted a 115 OPS+ for the Expos with 28 homers and 31 doubles.  In 1984 he made his first All-Star team.  In 1987 he finished fourth in the MVP voting, hitting .298/.343/.514 (121 OPS+) with a league leading 42 doubles.  Two years later hit would hit 42 more to lead the league.  Overall from 1982 through 1992 he hit .260/.318/.420 (105 OPS+), made five All-Star teams, won two Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves.

 

But things in Montreal were starting to go south.  The arrival of the Toronto Blue Jays took the Expos from the only team in the country to second fiddle.  Trading away future Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Tim Raines and losing Andre Dawson to free agency wasn’t helping matters.  Wallach became the next casualty, traded to the Dodgers for Tim Barker, a middle infielder who never reached the majors despite a lifetime .372 OBP in 3,919 minor league plate appearances.

 

That may sound bad, but Wallach was 35 at the time, coming off of his worst season in Montreal.  In 1993 he posted a 68 OPS+.  He rebounded in 1994 hitting .280/.356/.502 win 113 games before the strike took away the season.   After the 1995 season he signed with California Angels, a team who collapsed in the final month of the season to choke away a playoff spot.  He wasn’t going to get things turned around though, and after 57 game he was released.  A week later he resigned with the Dodgers and didn’t fare much better.  After a 0-for-11 showing in NLDS against the Braves, Wallach called it quits.

 

Wallach is still the Expos/Nationals all-time leader in total bases, hits, and RBI.  He’s also in the franchise’s top ten in walks, doubles, triples, homers, and fWAR.  His HOFR of 44.70 drops him well short of Hall of Fame consideration, but he was a fine player at a time when the Expos were churning out talent as well as any franchise has.

 

He currently is Don Mattingly’s bench coach in Miami.  He has three sons, all of which were drafted.  Matt was a catcher and first baseman in the Dodgers organization, hanging up his cleats in 2013.  Brett was a pitcher in the Dodgers and Cubs organizations before wrapping up his career with Grand Prairie in the independent American Association in 2015.  Chad has been a catcher in the Marlins and Reds organizations and is currently in Louisville (AAA).

 

The All-Star Game

Tonight is the 88th Major League Baseball All-Star Game.  In 1933 Arch Ward of the Chicago Tribune pushed for the game to go along with the World Fair.  That first All-Star game was played on July 6, 1933.  Lefty Gomez drove in the first run in the bottom of the second.  The next inning an aging Babe Ruth hit the first homerun in All-Star game history.  Frankie Frisch hit a homerun of his own for the National League, but the AL would hold on to win 4-2.

 

The American would win 12 of the first 16 games, but things would turn around after integration.  Led by the likes of Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Ernie Banks, Frank Robinson, Willie Mays, and others, the Senior Circuit would win 30 of the next 37 (there was one tie), including a humiliating 19 out of 20 from 1963 through 1982.

 

In 1982 the game was played in Canada for the first time.  Montreal hosted the game and the five Expos who played in the game had their finger prints all over it.  Steve Rogers pitched three innings and got the win, Gary Carter had an RBI single, Tim Raines walked and stole a base, Al Oliver had two hits, and Andre Dawson added a hit as the NL extended their winning streak to 11 straight with a 4-1 win.

 

In 1983 the American League won for the first after 11 straight defeats in the place where it all began, Comiskey Park.  Fifty years to the day the American League used a seven run second inning – highlighted by the first (and so far only) grand slam in All-Star Game history – to defeat the NL 13-3.  That grand slam came off the bat of the Angels’ Fred Lynn with Manny Trillo on third, Rod Carew on second, and Robin Yount on first.  The unfortunate pitcher to give it up was Atlee Hammaker of the Giants.

 

Starting in 1997 when Sandy Alomar became the first player to win the game’s MVP award in his own home park (his two-run homer in the seventh broke a 1-1 tie and became the final score.  As Joe Buck put it “Hometown hero, goodbye!”).  The American League has won 16 of the last 20, with one infamous tie in there.

 

That tie was the second one in the game’s history and took place in 2002.  Besides the ridiculous use of pitchers, Joe Torre felt obligated to bring five shortstops to the game*.  The fifth one was Omar Vizquel, whose RBI triple in the eighth inning tied the game and brought in the format we’ve had up until this year.

 

*-For the record, Alex Rodriguez was voted as the starter.  After that, I don’t care which other one he took.  Taking five was ridiculous.  Even taking three would’ve been at least defensible.  Five wasn’t.

 

In 1999 Major League Baseball announced the top 100 players of the 20th century at the game in Fenway Park.  The ceremony was capped off by the present day All-Stars gathering around Ted Williams as he went to throw out the first pitch.

 

The 1971 All-Star Game featured 26 future Hall of Famers who launched six homeruns, highlighted by Reggie Jackson’s blast that nearly left Tiger Stadium.

 

In 1994 Fred McGriff’s ninth inning homerun tied the game for the National League and the subsequent win snapped a six-game losing streak for the NL.

 

In 1941 with the American League trailing 5-3 in the ninth in Yankee Stadium, Joe DiMaggio had a chance to be the hero, but hit an RBI ground out.  Ironically Ted Williams followed that with a three-run homerun to give the American League a 7-5 win in what turned out to be one of the most famous seasons in the sport’s long history.

 

In 1989 Bo Jackson interrupted former President Ronald Reagan* with a blast to straight away center field off of the Giants’ Rick Reuschel.

 

*-It should be noted that Ronald Reagan is famous for playing the Gipper in “Knute Rockne:  All-American”, but he also played Grover Cleveland Alexander in the movie “The Winning Team”.  If you’ve never heard of it or wondered why this wasn’t brought up during the eulogies at the time of his death, allow Joe Posnanski’s review of the movie sum up why:  “’The Winning Team’ is so spectacularly bad, there is no possible way you can watch it for more than 10 minutes without your eyes bleeding.”

 

In 1970 Pete Rose famously crashed into the Indians’ Ray Fosse to win the game for the National League.

 

Charlie Gehringer and Ted Kluszewski both batted .500 in their All-Star Game careers.  Mike Trout and Alfonso Soriano both have 1.000 slugging percentages.  Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Stan Musial all played in 24 All-Star games.  Musial hit six homeruns while Mays had 23 hits and both had 40 total bases.  Those are all-time records.

 

Al Rosen, Ted Williams, Willie McCovey, Arky Vaughan, and Gary Carter all hit two homeruns in one All-Star game.  What do Rosen and Williams have in common?  Both were hit theirs in their home ball parks.  What do Rosen and Carter have in common?  Both their games were in Cleveland Municipal Stadum.

 

Ted Williams drew 11 walks in 57 All-Star plate appearances.  Even in an All-Star game he wasn’t swinging at everything.

 

Anyone reading this probably knows that Carl Hubbell famously struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, and Joe Cronin consecutively after allowing a single and a walk to start the 1934 game.  Do you know who the winning pitcher was that game?  It was the Indians’ Mel Harder, who pitched five scoreless innings in relief.

 

For his career Harder threw 13 innings in the Mid-Summer Classic.  He never allowed a run and with the win also recorded two saves.

 

Hank Aaron, for all his greatness, only managed a .194/.222/.284 career line in 72 All-Star plate appearances.

 

What do Willie Mays, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken, Steve Garvey, and Mike Trout all have in common?  All five won the All-Star Game MVP twice.

 

The Griffey’s both won the MVP of the game, Senior in 1980, Junior just 12 years later.

 

Coming into tonight, the National League leads the American League 43-42-2.  The NL has outscored their AL counterparts 360-359.

 

No, tonight’s game doesn’t mean a whole lot.  But for baseball fans it can trigger some imaginations and recall some memories of years past.  Regardless, enjoy the best All-Star Game going.

Worst MVP Selections Redux

After hastily putting together a list of the ten worst MVP selections since 1950, I decided to dig deeper into this idea and put more emphasis on the gap.  Bill James looked into this several years ago in his “Win Shares” book, and since my copy has completely fallen apart (I only have the back half that has career totals from 1876 through 2001) I decided to recreate the MVP comparison list from 1931 through last season.  Then I sorted them by the biggest difference in Win Shares between the player voted the Award and the player who finished with the best Win Share total.  Again I took out years that catchers won the award for reasons I stated in the previous post.  I did this for two reasons:

 

  1. I wanted a better list than the one I hastily put together, and
  2. I wanted to see exactly where Pat’s claim about Mo Vaughn over Albert Belle would really rank

 

So let’s just answer a few questions.

 

Question 1:  What are the “Ten Worst MVP Selections Since 1950” based on the Win Shares method?

There are actually 11 when you factor in ties:

 

Tie for 8th:  Juan Gonzalez over Albert Belle (1998), Roger Maris over Mickey Mantle (1961), Jackie Jensen over Mickey Mantle (1958), and Steve Garvey over Mike Schmidt (1974).  12 Win Shares each

 

Tie for 4th:  Juan Gonzalez over Alex Rodriguez (1996). Willie Hernandez over Cal Ripken (1984), Ken Boyer over Dick Allen (1964), and Dick Groat over Willie Mays and/or Eddie Mathews (1960).  13 Win Shares each

 

Third Place:  Andre Dawson over Tim Raines (1987).  14 Win Shares

 

Second Place:  Willie Stargell (split with Keith Hernandez) over Mike Schmidt and/or Dave Winfield.  15 Win Shares

 

First Place:  Dennis Eckersley over Roberto Alomar (1992).  16 Win Shares

 

How much did this match up with your original list?

Six of the ten I listed made this list.

 

Where does Mo Vaughn over Albert Belle rank?

It would tie for 30th on this list.

 

Since six of the previous ten I have already written about, let’s take a look at the other five.

 

1998 AL MVP:  Juan Gonzalez wins over Albert Belle.

This one made little sense then and makes less sense now.  Yes, Albert was not a media darling.  Yes, the White Sox were below .500.  Yes, Albert was a poster child for what was wrong with big money and taking the money and running and lack of loyalty and blah blah blah.  But Albert also posted a .328/.399/.655 with a 172 OPS+, had 49 homers, 48 doubles, 113 runs scored, and 152 RBI, good enough to pace the league with 37 Win Shares.

 

Juan Gone led the league in RBI with 157.  That and he had two more doubles than Belle.  His 25 Win Shares were second on his own team, as Pudge Rodriguez had 27 behind the plate.  Gonzalez was tied for tenth in the league in Win Shares.

 

So maybe you didn’t want to vote for a player on a losing team?  You had four players on a 114-win Yankees team that each finished ahead of Gonzalez.  Manny Ramirez was on a division champion and had as many Win Shares.  A-Rod had a 30 Win Share season.  But when people think Belle was ripped off in 1995, remember that 1998 was a bigger heist.

 

1961 AL MVP:  Maris over Mantle.

One of the popular trivia questions has been “How many times was Roger Maris intentionally walked in 1961?”.  The answer is none.  That’s because Mantle batted behind Maris the whole year.  We know that Maris hit 61 homers that year.  That and Mantle missed the seven of the final ten games with injury.  But come on, when someone passes Babe Ruth they are probably getting the award.

 

1996 AL MVP:  Gonzalez over A-Rod.

A-Rod’s 1996 season was the equivalent to Boston’s debut album 20 years earlier.  The 20-year old hit .358/.414/.631 (161 OPS+), led the league in average, doubles (54), and runs scored (141), had 215 hits, 36 homers, and 123 RBI.

 

Gonzalez had a nice season, hitting .314/.368/.643 (145 OPS+) with 47 homers and 144 RBI,  His 21 Win Shares tied him for 23rd in the AL that season, with the likes of Charles Nagy, Bobby Higginson, and Tino Martinez.

 

But it was the first time the Texas Rangers made the playoffs, so naturally someone from the Rangers had to be the MVP.  There are five players in this study who won multiple MVP awards when there was a player with a higher Win Share total.  Of the five, Gonzalez has the highest total of Win Shares between his winning totals and the top Win Share players:

 

Juan Gonzalez 25
Roger Maris 17
Ernie Banks 14
Miguel Cabrera 9
Dale Murphy 8

 

Also, of all of the multiple MVP winners since 1950, Gonzalez had two of the four seasons registered that did not reach 30 Win Shares and easily has the lowest total score of those seasons:

 

MVP WS WS/MVP
Barry Bonds 7 314 44.9
Mickey Mantle 3 133 44.3
Albert Pujols 3 107 35.7
Alex Rodriguez 3 102 34.0
Mike Schmidt 3 98 32.7
Roy Campanella 3 94 31.3
Yogi Berra 3 89 29.7
Willie Mays 2 83 41.5
Joe Morgan 2 81 40.5
Johnny Bench 2 81 40.5
Frank Robinson 2 75 37.5
Mike Trout 2 75 37.5
Robin Yount 2 73 36.5
Cal Ripken Jr. 2 69 34.5
Miguel Cabrera 2 69 34.5
Roger Maris 2 67 33.5
Dale Murphy 2 64 32.0
Ernie Banks 2 64 32.0
Frank Thomas 2 57 28.5
Juan Gonzalez 2 46 23.0

 

 

Now, we know that Bonds is going to lead the pack and the guys with three MVP’s will be ahead of the guys with two.  That isn’t the point of this list.  The point is that you can tell which ones had the sub-30 Win Share MVP awards.  Yogi Berra was a catcher, and since they generally don’t get 600 plate appearances in a season you can expect to see a catcher snag an award even if the numbers won’t completely add up.  Frank Thomas had 25 Win Shares in 1994, which was a strike-shortened year and it’s reasonable to expect that he could have accumulated five more over the final 50 or so games that were missed.  Gonzalez has the other two.  Ouch.

 

1964 NL MVP:  Ken Boyer over Dick Allen.

Dick Allen had a couple of things going against him in 1964.  First, he won the Rookie of the Year Award, and considering only two ROY winners also won the MVP in the same season, he wasn’t getting it.  Second, the Phillies folded like a cheap lawn chair, blowing a 6 ½ game lead with 12 games left to play.

 

Ken Boyer had two things going for him in 1964.  First, he led the league in RBI, a stat that never hurts the ole MVP resume to voters.  Second, his team was the team that overtook the Phillies down the stretch

 

But his 28 Win Shares was good enough for ninth in the league, 13 behind Allen.  Dick Allen should have gotten the award.

 

1960 NL MVP:  Dick Groat over Willie Mays/Eddie Mathews.

The Pirates improved by 17 games and won the pennant in 1960.  Dick Groat was their best player.  By simple (idiotic) logic.

 

Mays and Mathews on the other hand both posted 38-Win Share seasons, 13 ahead of Groat’s 25 (which was good enough to tie for seventh in the league).  Either one or Ken Boyer (31) would’ve have been a better choice.

 

Just one last side note:  From 1951 through 1962 11 of the 12 NL MVP’s were black while Dick Groat was the only white winner.  Over in the American League all 12 were white.  In 1963 Elston Howard finally became the first black player to win the AL MVP.

 

Just for reference, here are all of the MVP selections and the top Win Shares player for every year since 1931:

 

American League
Year Voted MVP WS WS MVP WS Dif
2016 Mike Trout 35 Jose Altuve 36 1
2015 Josh Donaldson 32 Mike Trout 42 10
2014 Mike Trout 40 Mike Trout 40 0
2013 Miguel Cabrera 37 Mike Trout 40 3
2012 Miguel Cabrera 32 Mike Trout 38 6
2011 Justin Verlander 34 Miguel Babrera 38 4
2010 Josh Hamilton 30 R.Cano/J.Bautista 34 4
2009 Joe Mauer 32 Joe Mauer 32 0
2008 Dustin Pedroia 26 Joe Mauer 30 4
2007 Alex Rodriguez 37 Alex Rodriguez 37 0
2006 Justin Morneau 26 Derek Jeter 32 6
2005 Alex Rodriguez 34 Alex Rodriguez 34 0
2004 Vladimir Guerrero 27 Gary Sheffield 30 3
2003 Alex Rodriguez 31 Carlos Delgado 32 1
2002 Miguel Tejada 32 Alex Rodriguez 35 3
2001 Ichiro Suzuki 36 Jason Giambi 38 2
2000 Jason Giambi 38 Jason Giambi 38 0
1999 Ivan Rodriguez 28 M.Ramirez/R.Alomar/D.Jeter 35 7
1998 Juan Gonzalez 25 Albert Belle 37 12
1997 Ken Griffey Jr. 36 Frank Thomas 39 3
1996 Juan Gonzalez 21 Alex Rodriguez 34 13
1995 Mo Vaughn 24 Edgar Martinez 32 8
1994 Frank Thomas 25 Frank Thomas 25 0
1993 Frank Thomas 32 Frank Thomas 32 0
1992 Dennis Eckersley 18 Robbie Alomar 34 16
1991 Cal Ripken Jr. 34 C.Ripken/F.Thomas 34 0
1990 Rickey Henderson 39 Rickey Henderson 39 0
1989 Robin Yount 34 R.Yount/R.Sierra 34 0
1988 Jose Canseco 39 Jose Canseco 39 0
1987 George Bell 26 Alan Trammell 35 9
1986 Roger Clemens 29 Wade Boggs 37 8
1985 Don Mattingly 32 Rickey Henderson 38 6
1984 Willie Hernandez 24 Cal Ripken Jr. 37 13
1983 Cal Ripken Jr. 35 Cal Ripken Jr. 35 0
1982 Robin Yount 39 Robin Yount 39 0
1981 Rollie Fingers 17 Rickey Henderson 27 10
1980 George Brett 36 George Brett 36 0
1979 Don Baylor 29 Fred Lynn 34 5
1978 Jim Rice 36 Jim Rice 36 0
1977 Rod Carew 37 Rod Carew 37 0
1976 Thurman Munson 24 George Brett 33 9
1975 Fred Lynn 33 F.Lynn/K.Singleton/J.Mayberry 33 0
1974 Jeff Burroughs 33 Jeff Burroughs 33 0
1973 Reggie Jackson 32 Reggie Jackson 32 0
1972 Dick Allen 40 Dick Allen 40 0
1971 Vida Blue 30 Bobby Murcer 38 8
1970 Boog Powell 31 Ron White 34 3
1969 Harmon Killebrew 34 Reggie Jackson 41 7
1968 Denny McLain 33 Carl Yastrzemski 39 6
1967 Carl Yastrzemski 42 Carl Yastrzemski 42 0
1966 Frank Robinson 41 Frank Robinson 41 0
1965 Zoilo Versalles 32 Tony Oliva 33 1
1964 Brooks Robinson 33 Mickey Mantle 34 1
1963 Elston Howard 28 C.Yastrzemski/T.Tresh 29 1
1962 Mickey Mantle 33 Mickey Mantle 33 0
1961 Roger Maris 36 Mickey Mantle 48 12
1960 Roger Maris 31 Mickey Mantle 36 5
1959 Nellie Fox 30 N.Fox/M.Mantle 30 0
1958 Jackie Jensen 27 Mickey Mantle 39 12
1957 Mickey Mantle 51 Mickey Mantle 51 0
1956 Mickey Mantle 49 Mickey Mantle 49 0
1955 Yogi Berra 24 Mickey Mantle 41 17
1954 Yogi Berra 34 Mickey Mantle 36 2
1953 Al Rosen 42 Al Rosen 42 0
1952 Bobby Shantz 33 Larry Doby 34 1
1951 Yogi Berra 31 Ted Williams 34 3
1950 Phil Rizzuto 35 Phil Rizzuto 35 0
1949 Ted Williams 40 Ted Williams 40 0
1948 Lou Boudreau 34 Ted Williams 39 5
1947 Joe Dimaggio 30 Ted Williams 44 14
1946 Ted Williams 49 Ted Williams 49 0
1945 Hal Newhouser 38 Hal Newhouser 38 0
1944 Hal Newhouser 35 Dizzy Trout 42 7
1943 Spud Chandler 29 Charlie Keller 36 7
1942 Joe Gordon 31 Ted Williams 46 15
1941 Joe DiMaggio 41 Ted Williams 42 1
1940 Hank Greenberg 31 Bob Feller 34 3
1939 Joe DiMaggio 34 Joe DiMaggio 34 0
1938 Jimmie Foxx 34 J.Foxx/H.Greenberg 34 0
1937 Charlie Gehringer 30 Joe DiMaggio 39 9
1936 Lou Gehrig 38 Lou Gehrig 38 0
1935 Hank Greenberg 34 Wes Ferrell 35 1
1934 Mickey Cochrane 23 Lou Gehrig 41 18
1933 Jimmie Foxx 41 Jimmie Foxx 41 0
1932 Jimmie Foxx 40 Jimmie Foxx 40 0
1931 Lefty Grove 42 Lefty Grove 42 0

 

National League
Year Voted MVP WS WS MVP WS Dif
2016 Kris Bryant 32 Joey Votto 33 1
2015 Bryce Harper 38 Bryce Harper 38 0
2014 Clayton Kershaw 22 Andrew McCutchen 33 11
2013 Andrew McCutchen 34 Paul Goldschmidt 36 2
2012 Buster Posey 38 Andrew McCutchen 40 2
2011 Ryan Braun 37 R.Braun/M.Kemp 37 0
2010 Joey Votto 33 Adrian Gonzalez 35 2
2009 Albert Pujols 39 Albert Pujols 39 0
2008 Albert Pujols 34 Lance Berkman 36 2
2007 Jimmy Rollins 28 David Wright 34 6
2006 Ryan Howard 29 Albert Pujols 37 8
2005 Albert Pujols 34 A.Pujols/D.Lee 34 0
2004 Barry Bonds 48 Barry Bonds 48 0
2003 Barry Bonds 38 Albert Pujols 41 3
2002 Barry Bonds 49 Barry Bonds 49 0
2001 Barry Bonds 54 Barry Bonds 54 0
2000 Jeff Kent 37 Jeff Kent 37 0
1999 Chipper Jones 32 Jeff Bagwell 37 5
1998 Sammy Sosa 35 Mark McGwire 41 6
1997 Larry Walker 32 T.Gwynn/M.Piazza 39 7
1996 Ken Caminitti 38 Jeff Bagwell 41 3
1995 Barry Larkin 30 Barry Bonds 36 6
1994 Jeff Bagwell 30 Jeff Bagwell 30 0
1993 Barry Bonds 47 Barry Bonds 47 0
1992 Barry Bonds 41 Barry Bonds 41 0
1991 Terry Pendleton 27 Barry Bonds 37 10
1990 Barry Bonds 37 Barry Bonds 37 0
1989 Kevin Mitchell 38 Will Clark 44 6
1988 Kirk Gibson 31 Will Clark 37 6
1987 Andre Dawson 20 Tim Raines 34 14
1986 Mike Schmidt 31 Tim Raines 32 1
1985 Willie McGee 36 W.McGee/T.Raines 36 0
1984 Ryne Sandberg 38 Ryne Sandberg 38 0
1983 Dale Murphy 32 Mike Schmidt 35 3
1982 Dale Murphy 32 Mike Schmidt 37 5
1981 Mike Schmidt 30 Mike Schmidt 30 0
1980 Mike Schmidt 37 Mike Schmidt 37 0
1979 K.Hernandez/W.Stargell 29 M.Schmidt/D.Winfield 33 4
1978 Dave Parker 37 Dave Parker 37 0
1977 George Foster 32 M.Schmidt/D.Parker 33 1
1976 Joe Morgan 37 Joe Morgan 37 0
1975 Joe Morgan 44 Joe Morgan 44 0
1974 Steve Garvey 27 Mike Schmidt 39 12
1973 Pete Rose 34 Joe Morgan 40 6
1972 Johnny Bench 37 Steve Carlton 40 3
1971 Joe Torre 41 Joe Torre 41 0
1970 Johnny Bench 34 Johnny Bench 34 0
1969 Willie McCovey 39 Willie McCovey 39 0
1968 Bob Gibson 36 Bob Gibson 36 0
1967 Orlando Cepeda 34 Roberto Clemente 35 1
1966 Roberto Clemente 29 Willie Mays 37 8
1965 Willie Mays 43 Willie Mays 43 0
1964 Ken Boyer 28 Dick Allen 41 13
1963 Sandy Koufax 32 Hank Aaron 41 9
1962 Maury Wills 32 W.Mays/F.Robinson 41 9
1961 Frank Robinson 34 Hank Aaron 35 1
1960 Dick Groat 25 W.Mays/E.Mathews 38 13
1959 Ernie Banks 33 Hank Aaron 38 5
1958 Ernie Banks 31 Willie Mays 40 9
1957 Hank Aaron 35 Hank Aaron 35 0
1956 Don Newcombe 27 Duke Snider 34 7
1955 Roy Campanella 28 Willie Mays 40 12
1954 Willie Mays 40 Willie Mays 40 0
1953 Roy Campanella 33 Eddie Mathews 39 6
1952 Hank Sauer 28 Stan Musial 37 9
1951 Roy Campanella 33 Stan Musial 39 6
1950 Jim Konstanty 23 Stan Musial 32 9
1949 Jackie Robinson 36 Stan Musial 40 4
1948 Stan Musial 46 Stan Musial 46 0
1947 Bob Elliott 29 W.Spahn/J.Mize 32 3
1946 Stan Musial 44 Stan Musial 44 0
1945 Phil Cavarretta 30 Stan Hack 34 4
1944 Marty Marion 20 Stan Musial 38 18
1943 Stan Musial 39 Stan Musial 39 0
1942 Mort Cooper 29 Enos Slaughter 37 8
1941 Dolph Camilli 29 Phil Reiser 34 5
1940 Frank McCormick 27 Johnny Mize 33 6
1939 Bucky Walters 38 Bucky Walters 38 0
1938 Ernie Lombardi 24 Arky Vaughan 34 10
1937 Joe Medwick 40 Joe Medwick 40 0
1936 Carl Hubbell 37 Carl Hubbell 37 0
1935 Gabby Hartnett 26 Arky Vaughan 39 13
1934 Dizzy Dean 37 Mel Ott 38 1
1933 Carl Hubbell 33 Arky Vaughan 34 1
1932 Chuck Klein 31 M.Ott/L.O’Doul 33 2
1931 Frankie Frisch 21 Wally Berger 31 10

 

1997 ALCS

Today’s Postseason Series From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is the 1997 American League Championship Series.  The Baltimore Orioles were the best team in the American League in 1997, winning 98 games while allowing a league low 4.2 runs per game.  The team’s pitching staff was anchored by a strong four man starting group.  Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson, Jimmy Key, and Scott Kamieniecki all posted ERA’s better than the league average in 130 starts (six others combined for the remaining 32).  The bullpen featured veteran Randy Myers as the closer, saving 45 games and posting a 1.51 ERA backing setup men Arthur Rhodes (9.6 K/9), and Armando Benitez (13.0 K/9).  The lineup was strong as well, scoring over five runs per game.  While not his fluke-1996, Brady Anderson still provided a 128 OPS+ to go along with Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar’s 134 OPS+.  As a side story, former all-star Eric Davis was recovering from colon cancer and – despite receiving treatment at the time – managed to put up a 130 OPS+ in 42 games.

 

Despite the best record, it took until the second last day of the season to win the division, fending off the defending champion Yankees by two games (though they already had clinched a wild card berth).  In the division series Baltimore beat the Seattle Mariners in four games, toppling the mighty Randy Johnson twice.

 

The Cleveland Indians were underachievers in 1997.  After winning 199 games the previous two years, slugger Albert Belle signed a big money contract and fled to Chicago.  To lessen the hole Belle left in the lineup the Indians traded for Giants third baseman Matt Williams and moved Jim Thome from third to first.  Then, right before the regular season started, the Indians surprised the baseball world by trading their all-star center fielder Kenny Lofton to the Atlanta Braves for Marquis Grissom and David Justice.  Lofton was a free agent after the season, but the timing of the trade threw everyone for a loop.  The lineup remained the strength of the team, finishing third in the league in runs, but the pitching staff had fallen off greatly.  The previous two years they led the league in ERA but in 1997 they plummeted down to ninth.  One player that was a pleasant surprise was former Rookie of the Year Sandy Alomar.  Injuries and a lack of plate discipline (.309 career OBP) hampered his career, but in 1997 he was healthy and he had his best year ever.  Alomar hit .324/.354/.545 with a 128 OPS+, a 30-game hitting streak, and the All-Star Game MVP – the first player to win the award in his home park.  Luckily they benefited from playing in a weak division – they were the only team that finished above .500 and despite 86 wins they took their third straight AL Central crown.

 

In the division series they trailed the Yankees two games to one and were down 2-1 in Game 4 until Alomar homered off of Mariano Rivera in the eighth – one of only two homeruns Rivera would surrender in the postseason in his entire career – to tie the game, giving the Tribe a chance to win in the ninth.  They did win, and won Game 5 to punch their ticket to the ALCS.

 

Game 1 was in Baltimore, pitting Chad Ogea against Scott Erickson.  It didn’t take long for the Orioles to get started as Brady Anderson led off the bottom of the first with a homerun and a quick 1-0 lead.  Then in the third Anderson hit a one-out double and Robbie Alomar homered over the high wall in right for a 3-0 lead.  That was all Erickson needed as he went eight innings allowing four hits and no walks.  Randy Myers finished off the ninth to complete the shutout, 3-0, and the O’s had a 1-0 series lead.

 

Game 2 seemed like another mismatch in Baltimore’s favor as Charles Nagy started against lefty Jimmy Key.  But the Indians got the early jump in the first as Omar Vizquel was hit by a pitch with one out and then Manny Ramirez homered to center and the Indians were up, 2-0.  That lead didn’t last, though, as in the third Rafael Palmeiro doubled to lead off and moved to third on B.J. Surhoff’s fly out.  That was trivial, though as Ripken homered to tie the game at 2-2.

 

It remained tied until the sixth. Palmeiro singled and Ripken added another after a fielders choice.  Then Chris Hoiles walked to load the bases with two outs.  Then Mike Bordick (59 OPS+ that season) singled to score a pair and chase Nagy from the game.  The Orioles now led, 4-2.

 

Things looked bleak for the Tribe as they went to the eighth.  Young fireballer Armando Benitez went to the mound for Baltimore and immediately struck out Jeff Branson to begin.  Sandy Alomar walked then Tony Fernandez struck out.  Jim Thome came in to pinch hit for Kevin Seitzer* and drew another walk.  Grissom stepped in to face Benitez and launched a slider over the center field wall and just like that the Indians led, 5-4.

 

*-Yes, Mike Hargrove decided to keep one of his two best hitters on the bench solely because a lefty was on the mound and in favor of Kevin Seitzer.  Let’s just say that members of my family had a lot to say about this decision.

 

The Indians bullpen finished the eighth and ninth to finish the game and even series 1-1.  Now things were about to get weird.

 

Game 3 featured Mike Mussina and Orel Hersisher on the hill.  The 4:17 start time provided some difficulty for the hitters as the shadows cast over home plate would make finding the ball difficult.  Or at least it seemed as Mussina mowed through the Indians lineup, striking out 15 of the 26 hitters he faced.  The Orioles didn’t find much more luck, striking out seven times against Hershiser as the game was scoreless for the first six innings.

 

In the bottom of the seventh Thome drew a one-out walk and David Justice single to center.  Matt Williams then hit a ground ball just out of Bordick’s reach for an RBI single and the Tribe had a 1-0 lead.

 

The game remained 1-0 until the top of the ninth.  With Tribe closer Jose Mesa on the hill, Chris Hoiles led off with a single and in a double switch Jeff Reboulet pinch ran for Hoiles and Lenny Webster pinch hit for Bordick.  Webster then hit into a fielders choice that should have been a double play, but Tony Fernandez didn’t tag Reboulet – while practically tripping over him as he slid down to avoid the tag/break up the double play even though he was 50 feet away from second – and Thome’s relay throw back to second hit Reboulet and he reached safely.  Today Reboulet would’ve been called out and NBA refs would be reviewing this play to decide if he should be ejected.  Then Brady Anderson hit a routine fly ball into center.  Marquis Grissom somehow lost the ball and it ended up 20 feet behind him.  Instead of two outs and a runner on second it was one out with a tie game and a runner on second.  Mesa worked his way out of the inning, bringing up the ninth.

 

After a flawless eighth Armando Benitez off the ninth by walking Manny Ramirez.  Noah’s close friend Jesse Orosco took the mound in relief.  Now, those of us that remember that team remember that Manny was no genius on the base paths.  After a couple of throws to first and Thome squaring to bunt twice* Orosco picked Manny off of first.  What made this especially aggravating for the Indians was Thome subsequently walked and Williams singled to left with two out..  Instead of a worst case scenario of bases loaded and one out, you had first and second and two out.  Needless to say that the Orioles got out of the inning and we were on our way to extras.

 

*-Jim Thome’s career numbers to this point:  .288/.408/.541/.950, 145 OPS+.  And Hargrove actually had him square to bunt.  Needless to say I was ready to throw everything I owned into the TV at this point.

 

After an uneventful tenth Jeff Juden came in to relieve Mesa in the 11th and struck out the first two batters he faced.  Then Brady Anderson walked and stole second.  Robbie Alomer got his second straight intentional free pass and Lenny Webster then hit weak roller down the third base line.  Williams was playing deep and along the line therefore did not have a chance at getting Webster and the bases were loaded.  This brought in lefty Alvin Morman to face Rafael Palmeiro.  After a few foul balls Morman got Palmeiro to swing and miss to end the inning.

 

In the bottom half of the inning Arthur Rhodes walked Vizquel to lead off then gave up a single to right to Ramirez (great graphic from Fox:  Manny Ramirez’s last sac bunt was May 7, 1995.  I bet it stayed that way, too.  Again, I’m just shaking my head), putting runners on first and second with nobody out*.  Then came some controversy.  Davey Johnson walked out with the trainer to check on Rhodes for an injury visit.  Hargrove went out to complailn that Johnson should not have been out there, claiming that he could be talking to his infield.  Then Hargrove pinch hit for Thome with Seitzer**.

 

*-I’m not exactly sure if Vizquel should’ve been on third or not, but of the many aspects of his game that were overrated, speed was definitely one of them.

 

**-Kevin Seitzer’s career 108 OPS+ against lefties does not justify benching one of the game’s best hitters, handidness be damned.  But then, why would you let one of the game’s best hitters hit when you can take his bat out of the lineup and have a weaker hitter give away an out?  Why did I say ‘yes, I’ll write about this one!”?  I told you this series got weird.

 

Seitzer quickly fell behind 0-2, eliminating the bunt, then . . .

 

Well, a wild pitch that didn’t go anywhere as Webster lost sight of it got Vizquel to third (no one ever overrated Manny’s abilities on the bases).  Then Randy Myers came in to attempt to finish off Seitzer.  Ripken made a fantastic play on Seitzer’s grounder down the line to get the out and keep the game going.  The Justice’s line drive to Surhoff didn’t do anything because he was playing shallow.  Williams walked but Sandy Alomar struck out to end the threat.  Eric Plunk pitched around a two-out double to get through the 12th scoreless and we went to the bottom of the 12th.

 

After Brian Giles struck out to lead off the inning Marquis Grissom drew a walk and with some aggressive base running took third on Tony Fernandez’s single to right.  Omar Vizquel stepped to the plate with runners on the corners and just one out.  As Joe Buck put “opening up a world of possibilities. . .”  Oh if he only knew . . .

 

The first pitch was in the dirt for ball one.  The second one was outside, 2-0.  Vizquel then fouled the next pitch off of Webster to make the count 2-1.  As they checked on Webster, McCarver stated “If you’re gonna put the squeeze on now’s a good time to do it.”  Well . . .

 

Vizquel put out the weakest attempt for a squeeze play you will ever see.  If he was trying to get the bat on it . . .  Well, I don’t know if he was trying or not.  It appeared initially that he fouled it off and Lenny Webster – who no one will ever confuse with Charles Johnson, Gary Carter, or Johnny Bench – dropped it.  He casually went and picked it up as Grissom just kept running.  As Buck called it, “In comes Grissom.  The Indians win, Vizquel missed it!”

 

An important thing to note is that home plate umpire John Hirshbeck never signaled a foul ball and plainly points out it’s a live ball.  Davey Johnson ran out to argue, his reasoning being that Hirshbeck should’ve asked for help.  I don’t know who in science’s name had a better angle than him, but I guess it was worth the argument.  Tim McCarver thought at first that it was a foul ball.  McCarver also (properly) pointed out that if Webster simply holds onto the ball he’s got Grissom by a country mile.  McCarver actually summed it up best:  “Unbelievable.”  The game was decided by a missed suicide squeeze.  The official scorer stated it as a steal of home, then a passed ball, then finally a steal of home (at least that’s what baseball-reference.com has it officially as), and then we joined “America’s Most Wanted” already in progress.

 

Game 4 had the Erickson going for the second time against rookie Jaret Wright.  Wright got the first five Orioles, then Ripken singled and B.J. Surhoff doubled into the alley in right-center to score Ripken for an early 1-0 lead.  The lead didn’t last long as David Justice led off the bottom of the second with a single and one out later Sandy Alomar homered and the Indians were up 2-1.  In the top of the third Brady Anderson homered with one out to tie the game.  Then after Robbie Alomar walked and Geronimo Berroa grounded out, 81-year old Harold Baines homered to give the Orioles the lead.  Rafael Palmeiro followed that up with a homerun of his own and after Wright somehow got out of the inning the Orioles led 5-2.

 

The Indians got one back in the fourth when with two out Brian Giles doubled and Grissom singled to center and it was 5-3 Orioles.  Then with one out in the bottom of the fifth Manny Ramirez crushed one into the seats in left-center and it was 5-4.  Thome and Justice then singled and after Williams struck out Alomar singled to score Thome and tie the game at 5-5, sending Justice to third in the process.  Just like that Erickson’s night was done and in came Arthur Rhodes.  It didn’t get much better for Rhodes as he walked Giles to load the bases, bringing Grissom up.  Rhodes then threw a ball in the dirt that kicked away from the frying pan of a glove that was Lenny Webster and rolled down the third base line.  Justice scampered home to try to score and as he slid in he arrived at the same time as Webster’s throw to Rhodes came and his feet were right were the ball was and it was kicked away.  As both Rhodes went after the ball and Webster stared aimlessly they left home uncovered and Alomar hustled around score*.  There was some controversy about Justice interfering with Webster, but Webster actually ducked down before Justice ever got there.

 

*-Last year in the World Series the Indians scored two runs on a wild pitch against the Cubs.  In 1995 they did it against the Mariners.  In my lifetime the Indians have scored six runs on three wild pitches in the postseason.  I doubt any person can make a claim like that.

 

Rhodes finished up the inning, but the Indians were now ahead 7-5.  After wasting a leadoff single in the sixth, the Indians gave up a run in the seventh when Geronimo Berroa scored Brady Anderson with a single.  Then in the ninth Jose Mesa came in and walked Robbie Alomar then gave up a single to Berroa, moving Alomar to third.  After striking out Eric Davis, Mesa couldn’t make a play on Palmeiro’s weak chopper and the game was tied.  He got the next two out but blew the save.

 

In the bottom of the ninth Ramirez drew yet another walk.  Jesse Orosco was brought in and AGAIN Kevin Seitzer was brought in to pinch hit for Jim Thome.  Seitzer promptly bunted Manny to second, bringing up the lefty Justice to face the lefty Orosco with one out.  Justice flew out to center, meaning the Indians now needed a two-out hit to win.  With two righties coming up Davey Johnson went to Armando Benitez.  He promptly walked Matt Williams (meaning Manny would’ve been on second anyway), then Sandy Alomar continued his magical season with a line shot into left-center to score Ramirez and give the Indians an 8-7 win and 3-1 series lead.

 

Game 5 had Scott Kamieniecki going against Chad Ogea with the hope of extending the Orioles’ season.  Baltimore struck first in the third when they loaded the bases with two out and Geronimo Berroa singled to score Hoiles and Anderson, but the Indians got out of it when Thome threw out Robbie Alomar trying to get to third.

 

That seemed to ball all Orioles needed as Kamieniecki combined with Jimmy Key for eight shutout innings.  Then Eric Davis homered in the ninth and Cal Ripken added an RBI single to make it 4-0.  The Indians got the tying runs in scoring position with two outs, but Randy Myers got Vizquel to ground out and the series was now 3-2 Indians and returning to Baltimore.

 

Let’s get Game 6 started with what was going on before Game 6.  Not in Baltimore, but in Kirtland, Ohio.  I had an engineering final that was scheduled for 4:00 on Wednesday, October 15.  Game 6 was scheduled to start at 4:15.  This clearly created a conflict of interest for most people.

 

But not me.

 

I walked in at 3:50 pm that day and walked up to the professor.  Here was the conversation:

 

Me:  Hey.  If I completely bomb this thing, what’s my grade?

Prof:  Well, I don’t know . . .

Me:  C’mon.  You’ve got the grade book, you’ve got a calculator right there, what is it?

Prof:  Well . . .  (takes about two minutes to calculate everything) you’d have an 84.7%.

Me:  So a B-.

Prof:  Yes.

Me:  OK.

 

I had to be in attendance to get a grade, so I sat there until he handed out the final.  I was given the stapled sheets, signed my name at the top, got up, walked up to his desk, handed it in, and left.  I treated the I-90 street sign like it was the speed limit sign on my way home.  I parked the car in the driveway, sprinted into the house and to the couch where my brother was sitting.  As I came in my mother asked “How’d your test go?” to which I responded “I got a B-. (now looking at my brother) Did I miss anything?”

 

Charles Nagy was on the hill for the Indians and Mike Mussina was starting for the Orioles.  Before the game during BP Tony Fernandez hit a line drive that hit Bip Roberts in the wrist.  Roberts was listed as out for the game and Fernandez was name his replacement at second.  This would loom big later on.

 

Mussina retired the side in order in the first.  Nagy gave up a leadoff walk, then got a double play ball, then gave up a double and a walk before striking out Palmeiro to end the inning.  Mussina retired the side in order in the second.  Nagy gave up a leadoff single, got two pop outs, allowed a double, then got Brady Anderson to ground out to keep the game scoreless.  In the first four innings the Orioles had seven base runners, the Indians none.  David Justice got a leadoff double, but a couple of strikeouts by Mussina erased that with little trouble.  Nagy pitched around a couple of two-out singles and it was still scoreless after five.

 

Both teams went in order in the sixth.  Then Mussina pitched around a two-out walk to Justice to keep it scoreless.  In the bottom of the seventh things got real tense in our house.

 

Mike Bordick and Brady Anderson hit back to back singles to lead off the inning, bringing Robbie Alomar to the plate.  Hargrove called time and set up his defense.  It worked perfectly.  Alomar bunted the ball to Matt Williams who turned and fired to a covering Vizquel in time to get the force out at third and keep the double play in line.  Sure enough Geronimo Berroa hit a grounder in in the hole where Matt Williams grabbed it and started the 5-4-3 double play and a possible big inning for the Orioles was averted by the Tribe.

 

Mussina pitched around a two-out walk to Brian Giles to get through the eighth, then the Orioles threatened again.  With one out Nagy hit Rafael Palmeiro and Jeffrey Hammonds pinch ran for Raffy.  Hammonds stole second and Nagy ended up walking Cal Ripken on four pitches.  His day was done.  65-year old Paul Assenmacher came in and got a fielder’s choice out of B.J. Surhoff and was replaced by pop music sensation Michael Jackson.  Jackson got Chris Hoiles to ground out to third and again, the Indians avoided trouble.

 

In the ninth Randy Myers took over for Mussina – who quite frankly pitched phenomenally in the series; probably should’ve been the ALCS MVP – and the Indians had a first for the day.  Tony Fernandez had a one out single and Manny Ramirez walked and for the first time all game the Indians had two base runners in one inning.  Didn’t matter because Myers struck out Justice and Williams to end the threat.  Jackson pitched around a two-out walk of his own to keep the game scoreless and again we were into extra innings.  Myers retired the side in order in the tenth and Tribe local kid Brian Anderson pitched a scoreless frame of his own.  Then in the 11th the Orioles brought on – again – Armando Benitez.

 

Benitez got Marquis Grissom to strikeout swinging and easily fielded a bunt attempt by Omar Vizquel and quickly there were two out with Tony Fernandez due up.  Remember earlier when I wrote that Fernandez was a last second replacement because a line drive he hit knocked Bip Roberts out of the lineup?  Well, here was his moment.  The very first pitch he got from Benitez was a fastball and he turned on it, dropped his bat, dropped his head, started clapping his hands and started trotting the bases.  Joe Buck’s call:

 

“That’s well hit IN THE AIR TO RIGHT. TRACK!  WALL!  GONE! And the Indians take a 1-0 11th inning lead.”

 

The crowd was stunned.  Hell, everyone was stunned.  The whole game nothing seemed to carry and then just one shot into right and someone finally broke through.

 

In the bottom of the 11th, Jose Mesa came in to finish it off.  He struck out Hoiles swinging, then got one of the two series goats, Lenny Webster to ground out to him.  Brady Anderson then hit a rocket off the wall in right that was hit so hard he only got a single out of it.  Bringing up Robbie Alomar.  Robbie worked the count full then Mesa delivered a fastball inside – too inside, honestly – but got the call for strike three and the Indians were on their way to the World Series for the second time in three years.

 

Afterwards Lenny Webster had some choice words about the series, particularly about Vizquel.  Still fuming about the result of Game 3, Webster believed fully that Vizquel did foul the missed squeeze bunt off and felt that he “should be a man” and admit it.  First, even if he admitted it, that wouldn’t change the result.  Second, I’m not sure what there is to admit.  There is little if any evidence that he fouled it off.  Third, Webster had an absolutely horrific series.  Besides the several miscues on the field, he was only 2-9 with a couple of singles in the six games.  In a series where only 37 total runs were scored between both teams (the Orioles actually outscored the Indians 19-18) with four of the six games being one-run games, luck plays a big factor.  When that’s the case you have to limit your mistakes.  Webster did not do that.

 

As for Armando Benitez, he actually went on to have a good major league career.  He saved 289 games, had a 3.13 ERA, and struck out 946 batters in 779.0 innings.  Against the Indians for his career he actually pitched very well.  The Tribe only hit .178/.291/.277 in 117 plate appearances against him.  But in 1996 he face Albert Belle with the bases loaded in Game 3 of the ALDS and Belle smacked a grand slam to break a 4-4 tie.  The in the ALCS he gave up the game winning hits in three of the four losses.  For those two seasons he pitched only seven innings against the Tribe in the playoffs.  He gave up three homeruns was charged with five runs (three of the four on Belle’s grand slam weren’t charged, nor was the game winner on Alomar’s hit).  Yes, he struck out 12, but he also walked six.  He had a solid major league career, but I’m willing to bet he doesn’t care to see that Indians uniform.

 

The Indians would lose the World Series in seven games to the Florida Marlins in agonizing fashion.  They would win three more division titles in the next four years and reach the ALCS in 1998, but it would be 19 years until their next crack at the World Series.  As for the Orioles, Davey Johnson and Orioles owner Peter Angelos never got along and after butting heads for the final time Johnson resigned as manager on the same day he was named AL Manager of the Year.  One thing that is forgotten about the Orioles is that they were an old team.  Seven of the eight regulars were over 30 as was the average age of the team.  In 1998 they regressed to 79-83, starting a string of 14 consecutive losing seasons (nine with at least 90 losses), easily their worst run since arriving in Baltimore in 1954.

1959 World Series

Today’s Postseason Series From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is the 1959 World Series.  The Chicago White Sox had not won a pennant since the infamous “Black Sox” of 1919.  Comiskey Park was not a hitters park by any stretch, and power hitters especially struggled.  When Al Lopez left Cleveland for the South Side of Chicago in 1957 he decided to make his team run.  In 1959 the “Go-Go Sox” stole 113 bases, leading the league by 45 (the league average for the other seven teams was 43 steals).  Leading the way was future Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio who paced the league with 56 swipes, out-distancing second place Mickey Mantle by 35.  Also guiding the offense was MVP Nellie Fox, who hit .306/.380/.389.  In an attempt to add some power to the team they made a late season trade for Ted Kluszewski.  On the mound the Sox were led by 39-year old Early Wynn, who was 22-10 with a 3.17 ERA (3.66 FIP, 120 ERA+) and 26-year old Bob Shaw (2.69 ERA, 141 ERA+, 3.40 FIP) as the staff led the AL with a 3.29 ERA.  Chicago was in a tight race with the Indians for much of the year, but took over first place on July 28 and never relinquished it, eventually clinching in the last week of the season in what was a down year throughout the AL – only the Sox won 90 games and the usually reliable Yankees were only 79-75.

 

The Dodgers were in their second season in Los Angeles and after a rocky first year had rebounded to once again be one of the best teams in the Senior Circuit.  While many of the names that made the team great in Brooklyn were gone (Robinson retired after 1957 and never moved with the team, Campanella’s accident occurred in January of 1958, and Pee Wee Reese had retired after just one season in LA), Duke Snider (.308/.400/.535, 140 OPS+) and Gil Hodges (.276/.367/.513, 125) anchored the lineup along with Wally Moon (.302/.94/.495, 129).  The starting rotation featured five guys all under 30, led by 22-year old Don Drysdale (3.46 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 18 hit batsmen).  Also included was a 23-year old lefty who hadn’t quite hit his stride (nor the top of Mount McKinley, I mean the pitcher’s mound at Dodger Stadium) named Sandy Koufax and a guy who would make a bigger impact later on as a pitching coach, Roger Craig.  But mostly, it was Drysdale as he was the only starter to log 200 innings (270.2).  The National League race featured three teams: The Dodgers, Giants, and Braves.  Going into the final weekend of the season the Dodgers and Braves were tied atop the standings at 84-67 and the Giants were two back with three left to play.  Both Milwaukee and Los Angeles took two of their final three games to set up best-of-three playoff for the pennant.*  The Dodgers won the first game when John Roseboro’s homerun to lead off the top of the sixth snapped a 2-2 tie and the Dodgers held on for a 3-2 win.  The second game the Dodgers entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 5-2, but rallied to tie it and then won in the 12th to take the flag.

 

*-Fun fact:  The Dodgers were involved in the first FIVE National League tie-breaker playoffs.

 

Game 1 was at Comiskey Park and it wasn’t a contest.  Big Klu hit two homers and the Sox put up a seven run third and took the opener 11-0.

 

In Game 2 it was Johnny Podres and Bob Shaw taking the hill.  The White Sox took a first inning lead when Aparicio doubled and later scored on a Kluszewski ground out, then Sherman Lollar added an RBI single for a 2-0 start.  The Dodgers finally got on the board in the fifth when Charlie Neal homered to left, in the process giving left fielder Al Smith an inadvertent bath as a fan’s beverage doused him as the ball was chased for.  The game remained 2-1 into the seventh when with two outs pinch hitter Chuck Essegian tied the game with an upper deck shot into left field.  Then super utility man Jim Gilliam drew a walk and Neal blasted one into the White Sox bullpen for a 4-2 Dodgers lead.  In the bottom of the eighth Kluszewski and Sherm Lollar led off with back-to-back singles off of Dodgers relief ace Larry Sherry and Earl Torgeson pinch ran for Big Klu.  Then the recently baptized Al Smith lined one into the left-center field alley.  Left fielder Wally Moon (great baseball name) threw in to Maury Wills whose relay throw nailed Sox catcher Lollar by about 20 feet.  What third base coach Tony Cuccinello was thinking, who knows.  Lollar never was a speed threat (lifetime 20 stolen bases, caught 10 times, 13 career triples in 1,752 games), you now have the go-ahead run in scoring position and the tying run on third with nobody out.  The only thing more frustrating than watching a team bunt their way out of an inning is watching a team run their way out of one.  Sherry then got a strikeout and a foul out to avoid any further damage.  Sherry got three straight ground outs in the ninth and the series was even as it made its first ever trip to the West Coast.

 

Game 3 featured Dick Donovan and Don Drysdale in the most alliterative pitching matchup in World Series history.  The White Sox figured they were going to try and use their speed like they did all season long.  Luis Aparicio struck out to start the game, then Nellie Fox drew a walk and Jim Landis singled to put men on the corners with one out.  Landis then stole second to put two men in scoring position.  Drysdale intentionally walked Kluszewski then got a foul out and , Drysdale issued a one out walk to Jim Rivera.  Rivera attempted to take second, but Johnny Roseboro was up to the task, nailing him for the second out of the inning.  Two more White Sox reached before the third out, but again no runs.  They put two more runners on with two outs in the third, but a Drysdale strikeout of Al Smith kept the game scoreless.  In the fourth Luis Aparicio had a two out single, but was promptly erased as Roseboro threw out the shortstop to end the inning.  Nellie Fox led off the fifth with a single, but was erased on a strikeout-throw out double play.  In the sixth the Sox got a one out single, only to have it erased on a double play.  In the seventh they got two more two out singles, but then a strikeout ended the threat.  In the first seven innings the White Sox had 13 base runners and couldn’t get any of them to touch home plate.

 

Dick Donovan on the other hand was cruising just fine.  A one out single by Gil Hodges in the second was all the Dodgers could muster through the first six innings, but finally got something going in the seventh.  Charlie Neal singled with one out and after a fielder’s choice moved him to second, Donovan suddenly lost the strike zone and walked the next two to load the bases with two out, though Donovan’s day was through.  Gerry Staley was called upon to get pinch hitter Carl Furillo.  Furillo hit a grounder up the middle that took a bad hop on Aparicio and it snuck into center field for a two-run single.  Staley escaped further damage but the Sox were now trailing and needed to finally break through.

 

In the eighth Kluszewski singled to lead off then Lollar hit a fly ball to right that Moon apparently lost in the sun and there were runners on first and second with nobody out.  Walter Alston decided that Drysdale’s day was through and went to Sherry to get the Dodgers out of a jam.  Sherry didn’t make matters much better as he mistook Billy Goodman’s kneecap for the inside corner and the bases were loaded with nobody out.  Sammy Esposito was brought in to run for Goodman as he needed to be helped off the field.  Sherry then got the pitcher’s best friend – a 6-4-3 double play – and though Big Klu scored the bases were empty with two out and after a Jim Rivera pop out the Dodgers still clung to a 2-1 lead.  They would add an insurance run in the eighth and would take the game with a 3-1 final.

 

Game 4 brought Early Wynn to the hill to oppose Roger Craig for the second time.  The Sox again would load the bases in the first, only to come out empty after a double play ball ended the rally.  The Dodgers would threaten in the bottom of the second, but to no avail.  After snuffing out another White Sox threat, The Dodgers broke the scoreless tie in the third, and all with two out.  Wally Moon singled, followed by a Norm Larker single, and as Moon went for third Jim Landis’ throw to the bag hit Moon’s leg.  Though Wynn backed the play up, his throw to the plate was late and the Dodgers took the early lead.  Hodges then dropped a single into left and it was 2-0.  After another single to put men on the corners, a Lollar passed ball scored Hodges.  Roseboro then singled home another run and it was 4-0 Dodgers after three and the soon-to-be Cy Young Winner’s day was over.

 

It stayed that way until the seventh.  After a groundout Landis singled.  Then after Aparicio stupidly sacrificed Landis to second (really?  Down four runs in the seventh you’re going to count on a two-out rally?  Ugh!), Nellie Fox shot a ball back up the box that Craig deflected to keep it in the infield, but Fox reached for a single, putting men on the corners.  Kluszewski singled to get their first run across.  Sherm Lollar then ripped an 0-1 pitch over the left field fence for a three-run homer and a tie game (this must have been what Lopez and Aparicio were thinking).  After Gerry Staley cruised through the seventh he faced Gil Hodges to lead off the eighth.  Hodges crushed an 0-1 pitch of his own into the left-center field seats for a 5-4 Dodgers lead.  Sherry would pitch a spotless ninth and the Dodgers were one win away from their second World Series championship in franchise history.

 

Game 5 Bob Shaw came to the hill to face Sandy Koufax.  The game stayed scoreless until the top of the fourth when after a couple of singles put runners on the corners with nobody out, bringing up Sherm Lollar.  Lollar hit into a double play, scoring what turned out to be the lone run of the game*.  The Dodgers did load the bases with one out in the bottom of the eighth, but a pop out and fly out killed the rally.  The White Sox won 1-0 to bring the series back to Chicago for at least one more game.

 

*-To put into perspective how low scoring the 1960’s were – to go along with how low scoring the Dodgers were – Sandy Koufax famously had a career World Series ERA of 0.95 in 57.0 innings (and even if you take out his lone relief appearance it remains below 1.00), but because four of the 10 runs he allowed were unearned and the fact that his team scored a total of 17 runs in his seven starts (seven of them in one game), his World Series record is just 4-3.  And in his eighth game that wasn’t a start he pitched two innings of mop up duty in Game 1 of this series, meaning that despite his brilliance the Dodgers were just 4-4 in World Series games he pitched in.

 

Game 6 was Johnny Podres against Early Wynn.  The game was scoreless until two outs in the third.  After Wally Moon walked (you’ve got to love that phrase) Duke Snider crushed a two-run homer into the left-center field seats for the lead.

 

Then in the fourth Norm Larker led off with a single and was pinch ran for with Don Demeter.  Roseboro then bunted him to second because of course he did (35 points).  Maury Wills then singled up the box to score Demeter and extend the lead.  Johnny Podres then doubled over Landers’ head to score Wills, and Wynn’s day was through.  Desperate to keep the game close, Lopez brought in Dick Donovan who promptly walked Jim Gilliam, then Charlie Neal lined a double into left-center, scoring both Podres and Gilliam.  Wally Moon then crushed one into right-center for a two-run homer and the rout was on.  Turk Lown replaced Donovan, but the damage was done.

 

Now with the score 8-0, one would think that Podres could simply cruise to victory, but that wouldn’t be the case.  After getting Nellie Fox to pop out Podres hit Jim Landis in the head (luckily he was wearing a helmet), then walked Lollar, bringing up Big Ted Kluszewski.  Big Klu crushed a pitch into the upper deck for a three-run homer and giving him a tie for most RBI in a World Series with 10.  Podres then walked Al Smith and Podres’ day was done.  In came Sherry and after a single he struck Billy Goodman and after a walk loaded the bases a pop out ended the threat.

 

It remained uneventful until the top of the ninth when Chuck Essegian pinch hit for Duke Snider and crushed a homerun into the left field seats.  He became the first player ever to hit two pinch hit homeruns in a World Series.  Sherry retired the side in order to finish the game and give the Dodgers their second title and first in just their second season in the City of Angels.  Larry Sherry was named MVP, going 12.2 innings, getting two wins and two saves while allowing just one earned run and 10 baserunners.

 

For the White Sox, it would be 24 years until they saw the postseason again, and 46 year until reaching another World Series.

 

As for the Dodgers, this would be just the beginning for them.  Since moving to Los Angeles the Dodgers have won over 5,000 games, made 21 playoff appearances, won nine pennants, and five World Series.