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Monthly Archives: August 2009

The finest relief pitcher of the early to mid 1980s, Quiz was an omen of bad things to come for small, land dwelling critters.  Beetles scurried in fear, worms took to the soil and grasshoppers leaped in self-saving acrobatics to avoid the ample amount of ground balls Quiz induced.  Although not a power pitcher like most closers, Quiz was just as effective, pitching to contact and allowing his slick-fielding middle infield of Frank White and the light-hitting Buddy Biancalana to absorb those grounders.

Undrafted out of college, the Royals took a flier on Quiz signing him as an amateur free agent.  The signing quickly paid off as Dan rocketed through the minor league system, playing for two levels in his first two minor league seasons.  Although the submariner couldn’t break a sheet of glass purchased at the Depot of the World’s Thinnest Sheets of Glass with his fastball, he was called up to Kansas City in 1979 and showed effectiveness.  As a rookie, Quiz issued just seven walks in 40 innings of work.

The Royals reached the top of the standings in 1980 with Quiz leading the junior circuit in games pitched and saves.  The U-571 hurler finished fifth in Cy Young voting and eighth in MVP voting.  Although Dan only fanned 37 batters in 127 innings, he was the finest stopper the AL had to offer, finishing a league high 68 games.  In the ALCS, Quiz pitched in two games, winning one contest and saving the other.  Things weren’t as rosy in the World Series, and the Royals fell to the Phillies with Quiz dropping two games.

In the strike shortened ’81 season, Quiz had a magnificant 1.74 ERA.  He made his first All-Star appearance in 1982 when he began a string of four consecutive years in which he led the American League in saves.  Quiz notched 35 saves in ’82 but fashioned one of the greatest seasons for accuracy in baseball history.  Excessively stingy with the walk, Quiz averaged just 0.088 walks per inning; an unheard of number! 

1983 was another fine season for Quiz, leading the American League with 45 saves and 69 games pitched.  An All-Star for the second time, Dan finished second in Cy Young voting to LaMarr Hoyt.  Continuing to show an uncommon adversity to issuing walks, Quiz averaged just 0.079 walks per inning that season; far superior to Hall of Fame peers Goose Gossage (0.287) and Bruce Sutter (0.337).

The Royals won their division again in 1984 with Quiz leading the AL with 44 saves.  The master marksman issued just 12 walks in 129 total innings on a 2.64 ERA.  But it was 1985 when Quiz was able to make a return to the World Series and finally dispel the memories of his poor showing in the 1980 Fall Classic.  During the season, Quiz led the American League in saves and games finished while finishing third in Cy Young voting (in the four years, from 1982 to 1985, Quiz finished in the Top Three in Cy Young voting every year – Sutter had three years when he was in the Top Three while Gossage had just one).  Quiz pitched in four ALCS games against the Blue Jays and added four more games to his total in the Fall Classic, winning a game on a 2.04 ERA against the Cardinals.

In 1986, Quiz began sharing save opportunities with Steve Farr, who had a little more giddy-up to his fastball than Dan.  Quiz was able to fashion ERAs of 2.77 in ’86 and 2.76 in 1987 but the Royals began to use a closer-by-committee with Quiz, Farr and Gene Garber.  On Independence Day in 1988 the Royals released Quiz and he caught on with the St. Louis Cardinals a few days later.  His final solid season came in 1989 when he posted a 2.64 ERA, serving as a setup-man for Todd Worrell.

Quiz died young, courtesy a brain tumor at the age of 45.  A Renaissance man, Dan was a noted poet with a quick wit who often gave sportswriters clever quotes.  Eager to please fans, a common occurrence at Royals games was Dan showering hot fans with the bullpen hose. 

THE NUMBERS

W 56/L 46/PCT .549/SV 244/G 674/IP 1,043/H 1,064/BB 162/SO 379/ERA 2.76

Quiz

Men have many pursuits.  A man may work during the day, earning his pay, and use that pay to chase his off work pursuits.  The greatest ballplayers, think Cobb, Williams and Hornsby, had little pursuits beyond excelling on the diamond.  Donlin was a man of vast pursuits.  One of the pursuits that rank rather low on his list was coming to the ballpark.

A gifted natural hitter, Turkey Mike (who earned his nickname due to his exaggerated cocky strut) was a subpar fielder who rotated around the pasture.  Although he could wake up and give you a base hit before exiting his pajamas, he had little desire to do so.  Baseball was a diversion from vaudeville, where Donlin earned his coin.  Married to Broadway actress Mabel Hite, Turkey Mike would often opt to stay in the theater while the boys of summer took to the diamond.

Originally a pitcher/outfielder, Donlin began his career with Patsy Tebeau’s St. Louis Perfectos in 1899.  As a rookie, Donlin showed his knack for hitting, posting a .323 batting average with a healthy .470 slugging average.  He raised his slugging average to .507 in 1900 but when the American League attained Major League status, Turkey Mike jumped the St. Louis club and cast his lot with the Baltimore Orioles.  Playing predominately in left field, Donlin led all AL left fielders in runs scored, hits, triples, RBI, batting average and slugging average for John McGraw’s birds.

Although Donlin was a rough and unreliable character, he struck up a friendship with the equally fiery McGraw.  It was a strained firendship at best since Donlin gave Little Napoleon constant fits with his wayward lifestyle.  Donlin left Baltimore after the season and returned to the NL, signing on with the Reds of Cincinnati.  Limited to just 34 games – due to off the field issues (drinking, rowdyism and a charge for assault) the Turkey offered Cincy fans little during the 1902 season. 

He cleaned himself up enough to play 123 games in 1903.  It was a phenomenal year for Donlin – hitting .351, slugging .516 and posting an amazing on-base percentage of .420 (numbers that were in the Top Five in the league).  Donlin tied for second in the league in the long ball department and finished four points shy of batting title winner Honus Wagner. 

After half a season with the Reds in 1904, Donlin was out of favor in Cincy and was dealt back to McGraw, who had shifted to the New York Giants.  Turkey Mike gave McGraw a couple of amazing seasons.  In 1905 he led the senior circuit in runs scored, was third in slugging average and was one of only two Major Leaguers to reach the 200 hit plateau.  Playing center field regularly for McGraw, Donlin led the Giants to the World Series and topped all Fall Classic participants in runs scored for the champs.

Donlin suffered a broken leg in 1906 but bounced back nicely in 1908 after holding out the entire 1907 season.  Despite missing most of 1906 to injury, Turkey Mike asked McGraw for a raise and the Giant captain refused, so Turkey Mike gravitated toward the theater, spending time with the high society types that gathered around his wife’s troupe.  But he returned to the diamond in 1908 and had a terrific year.  Only Wagner, Ty Cobb and Donlin reached 100 RBI during the season.  Donlin finished second to Honus in batting average and base hits and he and The Flying Dutchman were the only two NL regulars to slug over .450.

After the season, Donlin embarked on his acting career, joining his wife in a one-act vaudeville play titled Stealing Home.  Although a capable actor, many critics felt that his wife carried him, but he discarded the negative critiques of his acting talent and became more enamored with acting than playing ball.  He never again played regularly at the Major League level.

After missing the 1909 and 1910 season to acting, Donlin returned to McGraw and didn’t miss a beat, hitting the apple at a .313 clip.  But by this time McGraw had grown tired of Turkey Mike’s strut and sold him to the Boston Nationals during the season.  Just before the beginning of the 1912 season, he was dealt to the Pirates and hit .316 in limited play.  The Phillies acquired him after the close of the season but rather than play in Philadelphia Donlin quit the game.  He returned briefly to play for McGraw’s Giants in 1914 but was well passed his usefulness.

Mike moved out west and appeared in some of the first motion pictures made in Hollywood.  He had over 60 films to his credit including the film The Sea Beast based off Moby Dick and The Tip-Off co-starring Ginger Rogers.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,050/R 670/H 1,287/2B 174/3B 98/HR 51/RBI 543/SB 210/BA .334/SA .469

Donlinhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

Not revered like fellow Yankee pitchers Waite Hoyt, Whitey Ford and Lefty Gomez, Mel Stottlemyre was no less effective than the aforementioned trio: he just played during the Yankees lean years.  He made postseason play with New York in 1964 – his rookie season – and never again saw action in October as a player.

Stottlemyre joined the Bronx Bombers in 1964 after dominating AAA batters early in the season at Richmond.  Despite the jump, and the increase in competition, Mel flourished as a rookie, posting a 9-3 record with a 2.06 ERA.  The Yankees went to the World Series and Mel was handed the ball three times.  Making three starts in the Fall Classic, Mel’s record was split, winning one, losing one and drawing a no decision.  His ERA during the contest was a fine 3.15.

In his first full Major League season, Mel was named to the All-Star team and notched 20 wins for the Yankees.  The Yankees were a losing team so  skipper Johnny Keane kept turning to Stottlemyre for wins, pitching him in a league best 291 innings with 18 complete games.  The glory days of Mantle and Maris came to a crashing halt in 1966 when the Yankees finished dead last in the American League.  Mel suffered from the punchless attack, dropping a league high 20 contests but he still led the staff in shutouts and innings pitched.

The Yankees weren’t much better in ’67 but Mel won fifteen games – four coming via the shutout.  An All-Star again in ’68, Mel won 21 games (6 via shutout) and posted a nifty 2.45 ERA.  Showcasing fine control, Stottlemyre walked an average of 0.233 batters per inning while Hall of Fame peers Catfish Hunter (0.295) and Steve Carlton (0.263) were more erratic with their control. 

Winning 20 games again in 1969, Stottlemyre was chosen by skipper Ralph Houk to handle the bulk of the mound duties.  Working 303 innings during the season, Mel led the league with 24 complete games.  An All-Star for the fifth and final time in 1970, Mel showed that he wasn’t a slouch with the stick either, swatting two of his seven career long balls that year.

Mel posted a fine 2.87 ERA in 1971, winning sixteen games and finishing in a tie for second in the junior circuit with seven shutouts.  A master at blanking the opponent, Mel tossed seven more shutouts in 1972 (third in the AL).  He would finish his career with 40 career shutouts – good for 44th on the all-time list.

Stottlemyre tossed 273 innings in 1973 but the excessive use of his right arm led to arm troubles in 1974 and he was forced to end his career at the tender age of 32.  Not counting his rookie or final season, Mel worked at least 250 innings in every season he pitched at the highest level.

THE NUMBERS

W 164/L 139/PCT .541/G 360/CG 152/IP 2,662/H 2,435/BB 809/SO 1,257/SHO 40/ERA 2.97

Melhttp://www.lesterslegends.org

To make a good pancake (I’m not talking about that instant “add-water” garbage) you need a variety of ingredients.  You must have flour, eggs, vanilla, milk and to give it that little extra kick, throw some cinnamon into the mix.  The Big Red Machine was the perfect blend of pancake mix with flashy little shortstop Dave Concepcion adding the extra kick: the cinnamon to your badder.

An eight-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner, Dave made his debut with the Reds in 1970 and ended his career in 1988 – never playing for any other team in between.  Dave jumped right into the fray, joining the World Series bound Reds in 1970.  Platooning with Woody Woodward during the season, Dave was given the starting nod more often in the Fall Classic and responded by batting Baltimore pitchers at a .333 clip. 

Dave’s bat abandoned him in 1971 and it looked like he’d be nothing more than a good-field-no-hit shortstop throughout his career.  His batting averages in 1971 and 1972 were between .200 and .210 but he fielded his position well, helping Cincy reach the postseason again in ’72.  In that season’s World Series, Dave brought his bat and hit Oakland pitchers at a .308 clip.  He would carry a solid bat throughout the remainder of his career – dropping the all-field-no-hit label.

Dave’s breakout year came in 1973 when he was named to his first All-Star team.  He led NL shortstops in stolen bases but an injury derailed his fine season and he didn’t participate in the 1973 postseason.  He topped his ’73 season the following year, leading senior circuit shortstops in doubles, homers, RBI, stolen bases, batting average and slugging average.  Dave won the first of four consecutive Gold Gloves and netted a couple MVP votes in the process.

Concepcion began to put together a string of consistent work.  Good for a .270 batting average and 65 RBI through the ladder years of the 1970s, Dave’s glove also reached its peak.  Usually posting fielding averages well above league standards, Dave fielded at a .977 clip in 1975 while his position peers averaged .963.  The ’75 season was a Championship season for Cincy as well.  Dave led all shortstops in thefts that year while putting the icing on the cake with a .455 batting average in the NLCS and four World Series RBI.

An All-Star every year from 1975 to 1982, Concepcion led Major League shortstops with 162 hits in 1976.  His Reds journeyed into October again, as Dave led all NLCS participants in runs scored and he hit .357 in a World Series triumph over the Yankees. 

The only .300 hitting shortstop in the Major Leagues during the 1978 season, Concepcion also stole 23 bases while lashing out 33 two-baggers.  His highwater mark for power came in 1979 when his 16 long balls paced NL shortstops while also casting the shadow in the walks drawn and RBI departments.  But ’79 was the last great year for the Reds and they lost the NLCS to the eventual Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.  Dave hit a lusty .429 against the Bucs but it would be his last trial in October.

Beginning a new decade, Dave didn’t miss a beat, leading NL shortstops in runs driven in during the 1980 season.  The following year – in the strike shortened 1981 campaign – Dave was the lone .300 hitting shortstop in the senior circuit.  Staying on top, Dave led National League shortstops in batting again in 1982.

Missing the All-Star team for the first time since 1975, Dave watched the Midsummer Classic at home in 1983.  In his mid 30s, Dave’s skills began to erode with his advanced age.  Still the regular shortstop in Cincinnati during the 1984 and ’85 seasons, the Reds took two shortstops in the first round with selections of Kurt Stillwell and Barry Larkin.  Injuries hit in 1986 so management gave looks to Stillwell and Larkin.  When Stillwell was traded to Kansas City the job was handed to a capable Barry Larkin and he supplanted Dave in the everyday lineup in 1987. 

Relegated to reserve duty in ’87, Dave reached new heights in batting.  Able to take a breather from time-to-time, Concepcion had his highwater mark in batting average when he hit the apple at a .319 clip as a 39 year-old.  He played one final year in 1988, spelling a young infield that consisted of Larkin, Chris Sabo and Jeff Treadway.

THE NUMBERS

G 2,488/R 993/H 2,326/2B 389/3B 48/HR 101/RBI 950/BB 736/SO 1,186/SB 321/BA .267/SA .357

iBfEicUnhttp://www.baseballhalloffame.org

Before there was Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson, or Dick Groat for that matter, there was Bill Werber.  Werber was a gifted athlete who starred on the hard-court for the Duke Blue Devils.  Eventually giving up basketball for baseball, Werber was one of the top base stealers during his day, finishing in the Top Five in thefts eight times. 

Signed away from the hard-court by the New York Yankees, Werber joined the Bronx Bombers in 1930.  Bill played in just four games for the Yankees and spent the next two years in the bushes because he couldn’t crack the Yankees mighty lineup.  So, early in the 1933 season, the Yankees sold Werber’s contract to the Red Sox.

As a rookie for the BoSox, Werber led the club in steals with 15.  He enjoyed his finest year in 1934, leading the AL with 40 thefts while posting a fine .397 on-base percentage.  Bill finished second in the AL with 129 runs scored while leading all Major League third basemen with 200 hits and 41 doubles.  His batting average dipped considerably in 1935 but Wheels Werber still paced the junior circuit in stolen bases.  Although not a power threat, Bill led the Red Sox with 14 homers during the season.

His 29 steals in 1936 was good for second in the league.  Owning a remarkable batting eye, Werber drew 89 walks which enabled him to post a fine .382 on-base percentage.  Bill stole 35 bases in 1937 (tied for first in the AL) while hitting .292 with 74 walks to his credit.  As a member of Connie Mack’s A’s in 1938, Werber finished third in the AL in the stolen base department while walking 93 times with just 37 strikeouts.

Holding out for more money in 1940, Connie Mack refused to loosen his purse strings and thus sold Bill to Cincinnati.  In his first year in the senior circuit, Bill paced the league with 115 runs scored while leading the Reds to a pennant.  During the Reds pennant winning season, Bill led NL third basemen in steals, doubles and walks.  He hit .250 in the World Series, which his Reds lost to the Yankees, but he’d get another go at Fall Classic competition in 1940.

The Reds won back-to-back NL titles when they copped another flag in 1940.  During the regular season, Bill finished third in the league with 105 runs scored while leading NL third basemen in homeruns and RBI.  The World Series of 1940 was one of Werber’s finest hours.  Bill hit .370, scored five runs, smacked out ten hits and legged out four doubles.  His Reds won the title, defeating the Tigers of Greenberg and Gehringer.

Bill’s bat began to fade in 1941 but he had one of his finest years with the leather.  He fielded eleven points above league average, recording 256 assists in a little over 100 games.  He played one final year at the Major League level with the Giants in 1942 before calling it a career. 

THE NUMBERS

G 1,295/R 875/H 1,363/2B 271/3B 50/HR 78/RBI 539/BB 701/SO 363/Sb 215/BA .271/SA .392

weberhttp://www.flickr.com

When a hunter takes to the great outdoors, he likes to arm himself with a reliable firearm: one he has fired numerous times in the past.  A smart hunter would not take a rifle to the blind without testing it, making certain that the firearm can operate efficiently and effectively.  The smart hunter – the one who bags the most birds – uses his tested and reliable shooter to bring home the meat.  Few pitchers in baseball history were as tested as Wilbur Wood: innings eater elite.

Originally signed by the Red Sox in 1960, Wood didn’t achieve his success until his socks took a more lighter hue.  He pitched sparingly for the Red Sox in three and a half seasons before selling his contract to the Pirates.  In Pittsburgh Wilbur posted a 3.16 ERA but was used infrequently.  After spending the 1966 season with the Columbus Jets, a Pirates minor league affiliate, Wood was traded to the White Sox for a shopworn Juan Pizzaro.  The deal was quite a steal.

Wilbur joined the White Sox bullpen in 1967 and fashioned a fine 2.46 ERA.  The next season he set a record for most games pitched in a season (which was quickly broke) when he was used in 88 contests.  Since Wood’s pet-pitch was the knuckleball, it would stand to reason that he owned suspect accuracy, but Wood had fine control, issuing an average of 0.208 walks per inning in ’68 on a nifty 1.87 ERA. 

Wood was used in an AL best 76 games in 1969 and again paced the junior circuit with 77 games in 1970.  Wilbur saved 21 games for the White Sox in 1970.  Skipper Chuck Tanner saw how well Wood did in relief, and how often he could be used, and reasoned that he could stretch the knuckleballer out and make him a starting pitcher.  The experiment worked.  Wood won 22 games on a tidy 1.91 ERA.  Tanner was able to stretch out Wood’s left arm, using him in 334 innings.  For Wood’s ironman pitching, he was named to his first All-Star team and finished third in Cy Young Award voting.

Used in 377 innings in 1972, Wood tossed the most innings by a Major League pitcher since Hall of famer Grover Cleveland Alexander tossed 388 innings in 1917.  Wood tied for the league lead with 24 wins and paced the junior circuit with 49 starts (he had five straight years with 40 or more starts). 

Tanner’s excessive use of Wood allowed the southpaw to rack up high totals.  He led the AL with 24 wins in 1973 for a losing White Sox club, while also leading the league in innings pitched (359) and games started (48).  In 1974, Wood posted his forth straight season of 300 or more innings worked. That year, Wilbur was a 20-game winner for the forth year in a row and also led the AL with 42 starts.  1975 was his last year to exceed 40 starts, when the White Sox called on him to start 43 games.

The arm of a man can’t sustain such excessive use – even when it flutters the knuckleball – and Wood’s arm gave out in 1976.  Limited to 56 innings, Wilbur walked just eleven batters during his truncated season.  Injuries held him to 122 innings in 1977 and he spent his final year winning ten games for the 1978 White Sox.

THE NUMBERS

W 164/L 156/PCT .513/G 561/CG 114/IP 2,684/H 2,582/BB 724/SO 1,411/SHO 24/ERA 3.24

woodhttp://www.cardboardgods.net

Rotating between the outfield and first base, Honest John Anderson was a versatile athlete that could play any outfield position – not just limited to corner play.  Possessing decent power for The Deadball Era, Honest John was a fine doubles hitter who had respectable slugging percentages throughout his journeyed career.

Anderson began his Major League career with Brooklyn, back when they were nicknamed the Bridegrooms, in 1894.  Skipper Dave Foutz inserted Anderson as the regular left fielder in 1895 and Honest John responded by leading the team in triples and homers.  Brooklyn fell to tenth place in 1896 as Foutz used Anderson at every outfield post and at first base.  Despite the constant positional shuffling, Anderson led the team in slugging average.

Anderson hiked his batting average up to .325 in 1897 then had his finest year in 1898, spent predominately with the Washington Senators.  In that season, Honest John led the league in both triples and slugging average while playing center field for a bottom-feeding team that employed four separate men at the manager’s seat.  He spent the 1899 season back with Brooklyn then joined the Milwaukee Brewers in 1900 when the American League was still considered a minor league.

Honest John returned to Brooklyn after the 1900 season but when the American League became a Major League in 1901, Anderson jumped back to the Brewers.  With the basement dwelling Brewers in 1901, Anderson finished second in the league in doubles and third in runs batted in.  The Brewers moved to St. Louis and became the Browns, as Honest John stuck with the team during their relocation.  Honest John led the first Browns team in RBI.

Leading AL first basemen in doubles during the 1903 season, Honest John hit .284 and drove home 78 runs.  Traded to the Yankees (then called the Highlanders) for Peach Pie O’Connor after the 1903 season, the Highlanders inserted Anderson into the lineup as their regular center fielder after three years spent at first base.  Anderson handled himself well in the pasture, tallying nine outfield assists and fielding his position slightly above average.  His 82 RBI topped all Major League center fielders.

Keeping his suitcases packed, Anderson returned to familiar ground in 1905 when he was purchased by the Senators.  As the Senators everyday left fielder, Honest John tied Hall of Famer Elmer Flick for the league lead in thefts- swiping 39 bases.  Converted back to first base in 1907, Anderson led AL first basemen in batting average.  He played one final Major League season with the Chicago White Sox.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,620/R 866/H 1,852/2B 326/3B 126/HR 48/RBI 976/SB 347/BA .292/SA .406

AndersonJohnhttp://www.sabr.org