The 15 Greatest World Series Moments


In our community, we have a very active and enthusiastic sports interest group. Headed up by a retired New York City schoolteacher, who is also the world’s biggest Giants fan, we’ve been fortunate enough to have visits from Fergie Jenkins, Josh Hamilton, Matt Williams, John D’Acquisto, Hall of Fame Baseball Executive Roland Hemond and dozens of other sports luminaries. Each Spring, as our homage to Spring Training and the new baseball season, we host a baseball panel discussion on a particular topic. In the past, we’ve reviewed the “Golden Age of Baseball” (the 50’s & 60’s), debated the Hall of Fame, previewed the upcoming season, rated the top ten players at each position, reviewed the ten greatest teams of all time, discussed All-Star teams by decade and reviewed the worst trades in history. So, for 2019, the topic was the 15 greatest moments in World Series history.


We chose that title to focus on great moments that led to a team winning the championship. That doesn’t mean “most memorable” or “most dramatic”, it means something great accomplished by an individual or team in their pursuit of excellence. So, you won’t be hearing about Bill Buckner’s error or Don Denkinger’s blown call or Mickey Owen’s passed ball. You also won’t be hearing about Carlton Fisk’s HR because the Red Sox didn’t win the 1975 Series.


The four of us voted to come up with the final 15 and there’s no doubt that some of you will feel an obvious choice was left out. That’s part of the fun of a baseball discussion. We also decided not to rank them from 1-to-15 because no two fans would ever agree on the proper order. Instead we presented them in chronological order and let the attendees decide how they compare.


Earlier this week in front of an enthusiastic audience, the panel presented their picks…



> 1905 – The Giants defeated the Philadelphia Athletics 4 games to 1 in a Series that featured one of the greatest pitching performances in baseball history. Christy Mathewson pitched three shutouts in the span of six days allowing only 14 hits in 27 innings. He struck out 18 and walked only 1 after going 31-9 during the regular season.


> 1932 – The final appearance in the Fall Classic for the Yankee dynasty and Babe Ruth. The Yanks were in six World Series during the 1920’s and Ruth was still a superstar in ’32 at age 37. They defeated the Cubs in a four-game sweep that included Ruth’s famous and controversial “called shot”.


> 1954 – The Indians won a record 111 games to capture the AL pennant and were heavily favored over the New York Giants. That was all forgotten, as the Giants swept the Tribe in four games highlighted by Willie Mays’ historic catch in game 1.


> 1955 – The first championship for the “bums” of Brooklyn, as they won a dramatic 7-game series against the Yankees. The Dodgers Johnny Podres pitched a shutout in game 7 to clinch the title.


> 1956 – Another classic 7-game series between the Yankees & Dodgers and the Bronx Bombers came out on top. The famous moment is when Don Larsen pitches a perfect game in the 5th game.


> 1960 – The Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27 in seven games but the Bucs prevailed when Bill Mazeroski hit that walk-off HR.


> 1965 – The Dodgers beat the Twins in seven games and Sandy Koufax won game 2, game 5 and game 7 (a 2-0 shutout on two days rest).


> 1970 – Possibly the only World Series decided by defense as Brooks Robinson put on a clinic around the 3rd base bag to lead the Orioles to a 4 games-to-1 game victory over the Cincinnati Reds.


> 1977 – The Yankees finished off a 6-game victory over the Dodgers with Reggie Jackson’s three HR game…and each Homer was hit off the first pitch.


> 1988 – The underdog Dodgers used Kirk Gibson’s walk-off HR in game 1 as the catalyst for a five-game series win over the Athletics.


> 1991 – Imagine a seven game Fall Classic where five of the games were decided by one run and three of them went into extra innings? Jack Morris and the Twins prevailed over the Atlanta Braves.


> 2001 – In the wake of 9/11, the Yankees & D’Backs captured the attention of the country with a dramatic seven game series that ended with Luis Gonzalez getting a base hit off Hall-of-Fame Closer Mariano Rivera.


> 2004 – The Red Sox finally ended the “Curse of the Bambino” by sweeping the Cardinals.


> 2014 – Madison Bumgarner brought back memories of Mathewson with a performance for the ages. He won games 1 & 5 and then saved game 7 against the Royals.


> 2016 – Another curse died as the Cubs topped the Indians in seven games of a most memorable series.


Did we miss one of your favorites?




Early 50’s Nicknames

'51 Berra

Even if you weren’t around in the early 1950’s, the chances are that your baseball legacy as a fan traces back to your Dad or Grandfather. In recent years, the Old Duck has had the privilege of dealing with some vintage collections that include Bowman cards from that era. In addition to the obvious statistical history on these cardboard gems, the stories on the backs of the cards are fascinating. Let’s see who might have been on the list of great nicknames that crossed paths with you or your ancestors. The values of the cards are based on “Excellent” (EX 5) condition.


1951 Bowman


> #2 Larry “Yogi” Berra, $190 – Your kids probably think he was named after Yogi Bear, but the cartoon character didn’t debut until 1958.


> #21 George “Snuffy” Stirnweiss, $15 – Won the AL Batting Championship with the Yankees in 1945.


> #23 Walter “Hoot” Evers, $15 – He got the nickname as a teenager by imitating cowboy movie hero Hoot Gibson and Tiger fans would yell “H—o—o—o—o—t” when he came to the plate.


> #58 Enos “Country” Slaughter, $30 – This country boy from Roxboro, North Carolina was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.


> #60 Alfonso “Chico” Carrasquel, $15 – One of the first great players from Venezuela, he made four All-Star teams in the 50’s.


> #72 Lloyd “Citation” Merriman, $15 – The nickname gives you a hint of his great speed on the base paths, as he swiped 44 bases for Columbia in the Sally League in 1948.


> #80 Harold “Pee Wee” Reese, $70 – Not named for his diminutive frame, he became “Pee Wee” as a kid when he was a marble champion…elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984.


> #86 Harry “The Cat” Brecheen, $15 – Won three games in the 1946 World Series for the Cardinals.


> #92 Vern “Junior” Stephens, $15 – Vernon Decatur Stephens Jr. made his last of seven All-Star appearances in ’51.


> #102 Emil “Dutch” Leonard, $15 – Spent 20 years in the majors with 191 victories…his first season was 1933.


> #104 Virgil “Fire” Trucks, $15 – Won 177 games in his career with a 3.39 ERA.


> #118 Elwin “Preacher” Roe, $25 – He had as many stories about the roots of his nickname as he did ways to throw a spitball…the year this card came out, he was 22-3 for the Dodgers.


> #149 Emory “Bubba” Church, $15 – Hard to believe that someone born in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1920’s could be named “Bubba”.


> #170 Sebastian “Sibby” Sisti, $15 – A major-leaguer for 13 years (interrupted by three years serving in World War II), he was also the technical advisor for “The Natural” and played the Pirates Manager who came to the mound and brought in the fireballing reliever to pitch to Roy Hobbs just before the famous home run.


> #187 Al “Flip” Rosen, $15 – Was the AL MVP in 1953, leading the league in Runs, HR’s RBI’s & OPS.


> #194 Harry “Peanuts” Lowrey, $15 – At 5′ 8″, he played 13 seasons in the big leagues.


> #235 Jack “Lucky” Lohrke, $15 – According to the back of his card, this Giants utility infielder got his nickname “because he missed both a plane crash and a bus accident”.


> #252 Homer “Dixie” Howell, $15 – There were two players named Dixie Howell during this era…this one was the Catcher while the other was a Pitcher. Amazingly, they were teammates on the 1949 Reds.


> #257 George “Birdie” Tebbetts, $20 – This was a childhood nickname given by his Aunt who thought his voice sounded like a bird chirping. Played for 14 seasons before becoming a big-league Manager.


> #317 Forrest “Smokey” Burgess, $40 – You shouldn’t have any difficulty figuring out this nickname…he was a Catcher for 18 seasons and made six All-Star teams.


1952 Bowman


> #5 Orestes “Minnie” Minoso, $45 – From Cuba, he was one of the most popular players in White Sox history.


> #16 Omar “Turk” Lown, $15 – Got his nickname because of his fondness for turkey…led the AL in Saves for the pennant-winning White Sox in ’59.


> #20 Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones, $15 – Can you imagine a modern ballplayer having this nickname? He was an All-Star in both ’50 & ’51.


> #66 Sal “The Barber” Maglie, $15 – This Pitcher’s nickname came from his fastball, which would come so close to the batter’s head that it seemed to shave his chin…he was coming off a 23-6 season for the Giants in ’51.


> #116 Edwin “Duke” Snider, $85 – Given the nickname by his Father for his self-assured swagger as a youngster, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980.


> #223 Harry “Suitcase” Simpson, $25 – When you play for five major league teams in only eight seasons (including the Athletics twice), you pack a lot of bags.


#242 Everett “Skeeter” Kell, $25 – The younger brother of Hall of Famer George Kell, ’52 was his only big-league campaign.


In a future visit, we’ll look at the iconic first issue of Topps baseball cards from 1952 to see what kind of nicknames and back-stories come to the surface.

Clyde McPhatter & Barrett Strong

McPhatter Money

For those of you under a certain age, the answer is no, these aren’t two sleeper prospects for your 2019 Fantasy Baseball roster. In 1953, Clyde McPhatter was the lead singer of the Drifters when they recorded “Money Honey” (later covered by Elvis Presley). Not to be confused with the Lady Gaga song, it’s lyrics include…


Well, I learned my lesson and now I know–


The sun may shine and the wind may blow–


Women may come, and the women may go,


But before I say I love ’em so,


I want–money, honey!


Money, honey


Money, honey,


If you wanna get along with me.


The fledgling Motown Records was provided with important capital when Barrett Strong hit the charts in 1960 with “Money, That’s What I Want” (later covered by the Beatles).


The best things in life are free–


But you can keep ’em for the birds and bees,

Now give me money, (that’s what I want), that’s what I want.


As this off-season seems to be slow for free agent signings and there are even whispers of collusion, a look at the landscape tells you that clubs are wary of long-term deals. Only three major league free agents have signed contracts that exceed three years…Patrick Corbin (6 x $23 Million), Nate Eovaldi (4x $17 Million) and A.J. Pollock (4 x $14 Million). So, let’s give you an opportunity to once again be a General Manager. Based on some minimal research, it appears that there are about 15 current major league players who are already under contract to make at least $20 Million for the 2022 season. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to determine which of these players you would really want on your roster in 2022 at these prices. The figures represent the average salary of a long-term deal. The player’s age for that season is listed to help with your analysis. As you read the names and think, “This guy is on the downside of his career”, remember that three more full seasons need to be played before these salaries come due. And when you wonder why the 2019 market seems soft, this history may certainly be a factor.



> David Price, age 36, $32 Million


> Miguel Cabrera, age 38, $32 Million


> Jose Altuve, age 31, $29 Million


> Giancarlo Stanton, age 32, $29 Million


> Justin Upton, age 34, $28 Million


> Joey Votto, age 38, $25 Million


> Jason Heyward, age 32, $24.5 Million


> Robinson Cano, age 39, $24 Million


> Wil Myers, age 31, $22.5 Million


> Johnny Cueto, age 36, $22 Million


> Buster Posey, age 34, $22 Million


> Charlie Blackmon, age 35, $21.3 Million


> Chris Davis, age 35, $21.1 Million


> Eric Hosmer, age 32, $21 Million


> Jake Arrieta, age 35, $20 Million


Also above the $15 Million threshold are Evan Longoria, J.D. Martinez, Yu Darvish, Lorenzo Cain, Aaron Nola and Stephen Strasburg.


OK, GM…how many of these paupers are on your team in 2022? More than five? Of course, it’s an easier commitment when you don’t have to write the check.


Wow, this is almost as difficult as owning a Fantasy team. My dilemma in March is deciding how many contract years to extend Blake Snell.






Rattling Your SABR Defensively

'14 Chapman

When it comes to baseball, there are casual fans, hometown fans, old-school fans, know-it-all fans, rabid fans and people like me. I’m a 365 day-a-year fan who enjoys all the nuances of the actual game as well as all the minutia of the hot stove season. A day doesn’t go bye when I don’t check the transactions or think about free agent signings or muse about the topic of my next blog. And, I’m not at all apologetic about my passion for the game because it has been a wonderful distraction in my life. As a wise man once said, “Life is more worthwhile when you can be passionate about something trivial.”


For me, being a member of The Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) is a delightful extension of my fandom. The brilliant people who write for the Society always make me think and open my eyes to the endless history of this great game. So, when they recently published their “SABR Defensive Index” (SDI) for 2018, it got me thinking about how far we’ve come in the last thirty years in regards to judging defensive excellence on the field. For many years, I was a critic of the annual Gold Glove awards because they never seemed to be based on reality, only reputation. The final straw was in 1999, when Rafael Palmiero only played 34 games at 1B (and 128 at DH) but still won the AL Gold Glove. Of course, he won it in ’97 & ’98, so he must still be the best 1B in the league, right?


Since then, researchers have created defensive metrics that quantify the performance of major league players on the field, so we’re getting closer to the truth. Currently, the SDI ratings are incorporated into the Rawlings Gold Glove selection process and account for about 25% of the results when added to the votes from managers and coaches. So, let’s look at the SDI results and how they compare to the actual Gold Glove winners for 2018. The SDI numbers represent defensive runs saved relative to the league average at the position.


> American League


* C – Mike Zunino – If you wonder why the Rays traded for a player who hit .201 last season, this might be the answer. His 6.8 rating led the way, while Gold Glove winner Salvador Perez came in second at 5.4


* 1B – Matt Olson’s rating of 12.4 left all the others in the dust…his Gold Glove was well deserved.


* 2B – Rougned Odor was at the top of the list with 10.0 but Ian Kinsler was close with 8.4 and won the Gold Glove. Ironically, Kinsler had the best rating in 2017 but didn’t win the award.


* 3B – Matt Chapman’s number of 21.9 was the best in baseball at any position and he captured the Gold Glove.


* SS – Andrelton Simmons of the Angels won his 4th Gold Glove at age 28 with a rating of 10.9 but Marcus Semien was actually slightly better at 14.7.


* LF – Alex Gordon’s offensive woes didn’t impact his defense as he won his 6th Gold Glove with a 11.0 rating. No one else was close.


* CF – The top three were Delino DeShields, Mike Trout & Jackie Bradley Jr. with Bradley getting the Gold Glove.


* RF – Mookie Betts of the Red Sox won his third consecutive Gold Glove by posting a number of  12.8. He’ll need to make room on the shelf next to the MVP award.


> National League


* C – Buster Posey and Manny Pina had the highest ratings, but Yadier Molina captured his 9th Gold Glove.


* 1B – Brandon Belt had the best results for the second straight season, but he gets no love from the voters…Freddie Freeman & Anthony Rizzo tied in the Gold Glove competition.


* 2B – DJ LeMahieu nearly lapped the field with his number of 19.5 and put a third Gold Glove is in his trophy case…now he’s a Utility player in the Bronx?


* 3B – Nolan Arenado – Six seasons into his career and six Gold Gloves, this time with a rating of 6.8…Travis Shaw was a close second at 6.5 but might change positions?


* SS – Nick Ahmed was clearly the best at 13.1 and it translated into his first Gold Glove.


* LF – Corey Dickerson produced a number of  12.8 to pick up his first Gold Glove…and he hit .300!


* CF – Ender Inciarte gave more credence as to why Dave Stewart should not have been a GM by winning the Gold Glove for a third time. Pay attention to Harrison Bader, who finished second.


* RF – Nick Markakis beat out Jason Heyward with a 5.1 rating and took home the Gold Glove…Markakis just re-signed for $6 Million while Heyward is still owed $115 Million over the next five years.


> In case you’re curious, here’s a list of the defensive players with the worst ratings…in other words their defense was “offensive”.


* AL – Mitch Garver C…Ryon Healy 1B…Yoan Moncada 2B…Miguel Andujar 3B…Alcides Escobar SS…Trey Mancini LF…Adam Jones CF (again)…Nick Castellanos RF (he was the worst at 3B in 2017)


* NL – Chris Ianetta C…Josh Bell 1B…Asdrubal Cabrera 2B…Colin Moran 3B…Amed Rosario SS…Rhys Hoskins LF…Charlie Blackmon CF…Bryce Harper RF


What about Pitchers, you ask? Well, Masahiro Tanaka had the best rating in the AL but Dallas Keuchel won the Gold Glove while in NL, Zack Greinke won his 5th straight award by finishing a close second in the ratings to Julio Teheran.


Don’t forget to take your glove to the ballpark.


The Best Hitters Of 2019

Cleon Jones

50 years ago, if a baseball fan was asked who the best hitters were, the only significant resource would have been the sports section of the Sunday newspaper. Somewhere in the back pages, there was a long, slender list in very small type showing all current major league players. And those players were ranked by their BA (Batting Average) because that had historically been the benchmark for position players.


Looking back at 1969, we find that the top five BA’s belonged to Pete Rose (.347), Roberto Clemente (.345), Cleon Jones (.339), Rod Carew (.331) & Matty Alou (.330). Fine players all, but were they the five best hitters in baseball? Not when you consider that the two MVP winners (Willie McCovey and Harmon Killebrew) finished 6th & “down the track” in batting average. Jones, for example, had only 12 HR’s & 75 RBI’s. Even OBP (On-Base Percentage) would have been a better gauge, as the top five were McCovey (.453), Jim Wynn (.436), Rose (.428), Killebrew (.427) & Rusty Staub (.426).


As modern baseball analytics have evolved, one of the most accepted statistics has become OPS (On-Base % + Slugging %). Not only does it prioritize getting on base, it also adds the concept of moving more runners around the bases. After all, Slugging Percentage is defined as Total Bases /At Bats. Old school fans might question the veracity of the stat but baseball history tells the tale. The five highest lifetime OPS numbers belong to Babe Ruth (1.16), Ted Williams (1.12), Lou Gehrig (1.08), Barry Bonds (1.05) & Jimmie Foxx (1.04). There are only two other hitters with a number over 1.00… Hank Greenberg and Rogers Hornsby.


With Spring Training around the corner, here’s one Duck’s opinion on the hitters for 2019 that could have an OPS of .900 or better…based on the projections from a highly respected Fantasy website.


1) Mike Trout, Angels OF, 1.044 OPS – 20 years from now, people will be describing his career as “once in a generation”. His consistency and still youthful age (27) makes him the consensus #1 hitter in Fantasy drafts. His lifetime number is .990…9th place all-time.


2) J.D. Martinez, Red Sox OF-DH, .980 OPS – It’s not often in today’s game where $110 Million seems like a bargain, but this slugger had 130 RBI’s in 2018.


3) Mookie Betts, Red Sox OF, .952 OPS – The AL MVP is only 26 and seems to get better every season.


4) Nolan Arendao, Rockies 3B, .933 OPS – The highest paid arbitration-eligible player in history at $26 Million, the question is if Colorado can find a way to keep him after 2019.


5) Aaron Judge, Yankees OF, .925 OPS – Only played 112 games last season and still produced a 5.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement)…won’t turn 27 until after opening day.


6) Jose Ramirez, Indians 2B/3B, .925 OPS – A versatile player with incredible skills and he’s also in his prime at age 26.


7) Joey Votto, Reds 1B, .920 OPS – Had a sub-par year at age 34, so was it a blip on the radar screen or the beginning of a decline?


8) Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals 1B, .910 OPS – Six consecutive All-Star appearances and now in a new environment. His age-31 season will lead to free agency and it should be interesting to watch.


9) Justin Turner, Dodgers 3B, .907 OPS – Only played 103 games in ’18, but the skills didn’t diminish. His age (34) is offset by his old-school plate discipline (47 BB, 57 K’s).


10) Freddie Freeman, Braves 1B, .904 OPS – One of the most consistent hitters in the game, he even added a Gold Glove last season…and, he’s still in his 20’s!


11) Christian Yelich, Brewers OF, .900 OPS – The NL MVP at age 26, he seems slightly better than Lewis Brinson.




Did your favorite player get left off the list? The next five are all over .885…Daniel Murphy, Juan Soto, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton & Shohei Ohtani.  Or maybe some youngsters take the next step? We’ll all be watching.


As for 1969, the four players who exceeded 1.000 OPS were McCovey, Reggie Jackson, Killebrew & Hank Aaron.


The Old Perfessor’s Platoon


Back in the 1950’s, Yankees Manager Casey Stengel was a most colorful and confusing character on the baseball landscape. After all, he once said, “You have to have a Catcher because if you don’t, you’re likely to have a lot of passed balls.” And, “The key to being a good Manager is keeping the people who hate me away from those who are still undecided.” Of course, he was also very much crazy like a fox because he also said, “Being with a woman all night never hurt no professional ballplayer. It’s staying up all night looking for a woman that does him in.”


From 1949-1960, Casey’s Yankees won 10 of 12 AL Pennants and 7 World Series titles. In an era before advanced baseball statistics, it seems that he was decades ahead of the curve in the ability to manipulate line-ups and get the most out of a 25-man roster. Of course, anyone can put Mickey Mantle’s name on the line-up card each day, but that version of the Bronx Bombers seemed to have a different hero each day. If you look back at some of those rosters, it’s clear that Stengel knew about percentages because he took advantage of platooning LH & RH hitters on a regular basis. Just using 1954 as a snapshot, you’ll see that the everyday 1B Joe Collins (who hit LH) didn’t even get 400 AB’s because Bill Skowron (who hit RH) was available. “Moose”, in his rookie season, hit .340 in 215 AB’s. In the corner OF positions, Gene Woodling, Irv Noren & Enos Slaughter batted from the left side, while Hank Bauer & Bob Cerv batted from the right side. Even HOF Shortstop Phil Rizzuto had less than 400 AB’s because switch-hitting Willy Miranda was available.


The modern version of that team is the Oakland Athletics, under the guidance of GM Billy Beane. Working with a limited budget, the “Moneyball” system has made the A’s competitive with their major-market opponents. One of the keys to their success is the same platoon blueprint that Old Casey implemented in the 50’s. The A’s averaged over 92 wins in 2012-2014 utilizing versions of this formula. In the last few years, a number of successful teams have taken advantage of RH/LH splits including the 2018 Dodgers.


For MLB GM’s and Fantasy Baseball participants, this lesson shouldn’t be ignored. For whatever reason, LH batters always have more difficulty hitting LH pitching than their RH counterparts have hitting RH pitching (have you ever heard of a “situational right-hander”?). If teams blindly continue to give their LH hitters AB’s against tough LH hurlers, it will impact productivity for the team. Hitters like George Brett and Tony Gywnn only come around every decade or so. From a Fantasy prospective, you need to know about this statistical category because players who don’t produce will eventually lose playing time and impact your investment in the player. The analysis becomes even more critical in today’s game where teams now carry 12 or 13 pitchers and the platoon option gets reduced with a limited amount of batters on the bench.


Looking only at fairly regular members of the line-up, here’s some eye-opening numbers about LH hitters and their success against LH pitching in 2018. We’ll use OPS (On-Base % & Slugging %) as the guideline.


> Brandon Belt, Giants 1B – .628 OPS vs. LH, .822 vs. RH


> Jackie Bradley, Jr., Red Sox OF – .562 / .768


> Keon Broxton, Mets OF – .512 / .781


> Shin-Soo Chin, Rangers OF – .638 / .892


> Adam Eaton, Nats OF – .552 / .845


> Alex Gordon, Royals OF – .555 / .750


> Eric Hosmer, Padres 1B – .527 / .829


> Jake Lamb, D’Backs 1/3 – .493 / .702


> Colin Moran, Pirates 3B – .503 / .790


> Shohei Ohtani, Angels DH – .654 / 1.043


> Joe Panik, Giants 2B – .489 / .706


> Joc Pederson, Dodgers OF- .503 / .893


> Travis Shaw, Brewers IF – .599 / .894


The question is if this type of player will get more or less regular AB’s moving forward? And, if they continue to get those AB’s, is it a positive or negative for your Fantasy roster? More AB’s will not only negatively impact the BA/OBP category, it also becomes a factor for power numbers, as this type of player has a tendency to underperform in that realm also.


Are there LH hitters you can count on to be in the line-up everyday? A few to consider –


> Christian Yelich, Brewers OF – .983 / 1.007


> Mallex Smith, Mariners OF – .817 / .761


> Eddie Rosario, Twins OF – .726 / .838


> Gregory Polanco, Pirates OF – .771 / .864


> Rougned Odor, Rangers 2B – .711 / .773


> Brandon Nimmo, Mets OF – .742 / .946


> Max Muncy, Dodgers IF – .891 / 1.001


> Mike Moustakas, FA 3B – .721 / .798


> Nick Markasis, Braves OF – .765 / .828


> Max Kepler, Twins OF – .745 / .720


> Odubel Herrera, Phillies OF – .740 / .727


> Bryce Harper, FA OF – .857 / .904


> Scooter Gennett, Reds 2B – .774 / .882


> Joey Gallo, Rangers 1B/OF- .820 / .804


> Freddie Freeman, Braves 1B – .923 / .878


> Corey Dickerson, Pirates OF – .735 / .827


> Michael Conforto, Mets OF – .803 / .794


> Charlie Blackmon, Rockies OF – .817 / .886



Just what you need, another calculation to include in your 2019 player analysis. Sort of like giving a golfer one more swing-thought.

Statistical Evolution

'60 cunningham

Baseball fans from the “Baby Boomer” generation learned all they knew about statistics from the backs of Topps baseball cards. If someone said “SABR”, it was really the word “saber”, referring to a swashbuckling movie starring Burt Lancaster or Stewart Granger. With the advent of Fantasy Baseball, the Internet and advanced metrics for the sport, everything has changed. The real question is, are you still judging player performance by those same stats that were on the baseball cards?


Looking at the back of a 1959 Topps baseball gives us a starting point for this analysis. Obviously, the stats are from the ’58 season and tell you the most basic information. For hitters, you find BA, HR, RBI, Runs, Games Played and a few other categories but not even SB. For Pitchers, it gives you IP, W & L, Strikeouts, BB & ERA. In order to bring the performance up-to-date, let’s see how the new age categories play out, as we review the best of 2018.


> OBP (On-Base %) – Mike Trout led the majors with .460 followed closely by AL MVP Mookie Betts with .438…in ’59, it was Cardinals 1B Joe Cunningham with .453


> SLG (Slugging %, determined by Total Bases / At Bats) – Two teammates led the way with Betts at .640 and J.D. Martinez at .629…Hank Aaron was the only player in ’59 over .600 at .636


> OPS (OBP & SLG)) – Maybe the most telling of the new numbers, as it explains how many bases a hitter has accumulated for his team…only four big leaguers exceeded at least 1.000 with Trout, Betts, Martinez and NL MVP Christian Yelich on the list. Aaron was the only player in that category for ’59 with 1.037 but look at the names filing out the top five…Eddie Mathews, Frank Robinson, Ernie Banks & Willie Mays.


> OPS+ (Adjusted to the ballpark factors with a mean of 100) – Trout was #1 at 199 followed by Betts, Martinez, Yelich and Alex Bregman. In ’59, Aaron was again the best at 182 but names in the top ten that might surprise you included Cunnngham, Harvey Kuenn & Gene Woodling.


> WAR (Wins Above Replacement) – A single number that estimates the number of Wins a player was worth to his team above the level of a replacement player…four players achieved a number of 10 last season with Betts & Trout joined by Aaron Nola & Jacob deGrom. 60 years ago, Ernie Banks led the offensive players with 10.2 and Senators Pitcher Camilo Pascual topped the Pitchers with 8.6.


> Offense Winning % (The percentage of games a team with nine of this player batting would win. Assumes average pitching & defense) – Trout (85.4%) & Betts (84.6%) were the best in 2018 while Aaron was #1 in ’59 at 79.3%


> WHIP (Walks & Hits /IP) – This stat had its genesis from Fantasy Baseball and has now become mainstream. It essentially calculates how many base runners a Pitcher allows per inning pitched…the best for ’18 was Justin Verlander at 0.92 while five others came in at less than a baserunner per inning…Max Scherzer, deGrom, Blake Snell, Nola and Corey Kluber. The top three in 1959 were Art Ditmar (1.03), Harvey Haddix and Don Newcombe.


> Strikeouts per 9 IP – This stat tells you about pitching dominance in the modern era and the modern hitter’s reluctance to put the ball in play instead of swinging for the fences…last season’s leader was Gerrit Cole at 12.4 while Scherzer & Verlander also exceeded 12…1959 was certainly a different environment as Herb Score led the way with 8.2 and Don Drysdale was the only other hurler above 8.


> ERA+ (Once again, adjusted to ballpark factors) – Snell and deGrom were the only two over 200 and Trevor Bauer was 3rd with 198…Hoyt Wilhelm of the Orioles was the best in ’59 at 173.


> Fielding Independent Pitching (similar to ERA but eliminates fielding from the equation) – deGrom, Bauer & Patrick Corbin were the best in 18…Pascual and Larry Jackson of the Cardinals were the top two in ’59.


That’s probably more than enough for your introductory lesson…if you can’t wait for more, try