Archive for August, 2016

Hardball Retrospective – What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1904 Superbas

In “Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises”, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original team. I calculated revised standings for every season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition.  Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

Expanding on my research for the book, the following series of articles will reveal the teams with the biggest single-season difference in the WAR and Win Shares for the “Original” vs. “Actual” rosters for every Major League organization. “Hardball Retrospective” is available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes and KoboBooks. The paperback edition is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CreateSpace. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at

Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here.


OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

OPW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “original” teams

AWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “actual” teams

AWS – Win Shares for players on “actual” teams

APW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “actual” teams


The 1904 Brooklyn Superbas 

OWAR: 36.2     OWS: 250     OPW%: .500     (77-77)

AWAR: 21.5      AWS: 167     APW%: .366     (56-97)

WARdiff: 14.7                        WSdiff: 83  

Brooklyn placed fifth in ’04 as the Giants battered the opposition en route to the National League pennant. The “Original” Superbas bettered the “Actuals” by 19 games. Fielder Jones registered 25 stolen bases and Jimmy Sheckard added 21 for Brooklyn. “Honest” John Anderson and Claude “Little All Right” Ritchey laced 12 three-base hits apiece. Rookie outfielder Harry “Judge” Lumley paced the League with 18 triples and 9 home runs.

Jimmy Sheckard placed twenty-fourth among left fielders in the “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” top 100 player rankings. “Original” Superbas teammates listed in the “NBJHBA” top 100 rankings include Jimmy Sheckard (24th-LF), Fielder Jones (41st-RF), Claude Ritchey (59th-2B) and John J. Anderson (86th-LF).

  Original 1904 Superbas                                Actual 1904 Superbas

Jimmy Sheckard LF 2.52 11.24 Jimmy Sheckard LF 2.52 11.24
Fielder Jones CF 4.16 22.7 Doc Gessler CF 0.93 11.12
Harry Lumley RF 2.37 19.43 Harry Lumley RF 2.37 19.43
John J. Anderson 1B/CF 0.64 18.84 Pop Dillon 1B 1.2 10.64
Claude Ritchey 2B 3.28 21.25 Sammy Strang 2B -0.27 3.56
Charlie Babb SS 1.61 18.36
Jack Dunn 3B 0.98 9.05 Mike McCormick 3B -0.9 5.68
Lew Ritter C 0.62 6.48 Lew Ritter C 0.62 6.48
Candy LaChance 1B -2.98 8.02 John Dobbs CF -0.06 6.46
Mike McCormick 3B -0.9 5.68 Bill Bergen C -1.42 5.04
Emil Batch 3B -0.25 2.43 Emil Batch 3B -0.25 2.43
Dutch Jordan 2B -3.03 0.83 Fred Jacklitsch 1B 0.11 1.77
Deacon Van Buren LF -0.09 0.8 Jack Doyle 1B 0.09 0.89
Aleck Smith CF -0.21 0.37 Dutch Jordan 2B -3.03 0.83
Charlie Loudenslager 2B -0.03 0 Deacon Van Buren LF 0.05 0.18
Charlie Loudenslager 2B -0.03 0

Harry Howell accrued 21 losses in spite of a 2.19 ERA and a WHIP of 1.048. Oscar “Flip Flap” Jones completed 38 of 41 starts and recorded a 17-25 mark with a 2.75 ERA. Jack Cronin contributed 12 wins in his final campaign along with an ERA of 2.70.

  Original 1904 Superbas                             Actual 1904 Superbas

Harry Howell SP 4.69 21.24 Oscar Jones SP 0.11 17.31
Oscar Jones SP 0.11 17.31 Jack Cronin SP 1.14 14.99
Jack Cronin SP 1.14 14.99 Ned Garvin SP 0.28 10.19
Doc Reisling SP 0.94 3.67 Doc Scanlan SP 1.02 6.89
Bull Durham SP 0.03 0.83 Ed Poole SP -0.48 6.52
Joe Koukalik SP 0.07 0.49 Doc Reisling SP 0.94 3.67
Grant Thatcher RP -0.19 0.26 Fred Mitchell SP -0.32 1.96
Gene Wright SP -0.38 0 Bull Durham SP 0.03 0.83
Jack Doscher RP 0.24 0.79
Joe Koukalik SP 0.07 0.49
Grant Thatcher RP -0.19 0.26
Bill Reidy SP -1.42 0

Notable Transactions

Fielder Jones 

Before 1901 Season: Jumped from the Brooklyn Superbas to the Chicago White Sox. 

Claude Ritchey 

Before 1897 Season: Purchased by the Cincinnati Reds from the Brooklyn Bridegrooms for $500.

February 3, 1898: Traded by the Cincinnati Reds with Red Ehret and Dummy Hoy to the Louisville Colonels for Bill Hill.

December 8, 1899: Traded by the Louisville Colonels with Fred Clarke, Bert Cunningham, Mike Kelley, Tacks Latimer, Tommy Leach, Tom Messitt, Deacon Phillippe, Rube Waddell, Jack Wadsworth, Honus Wagner and Chief Zimmer to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jack Chesbro, George Fox, Art Madison, John O’Brien and $25,000. 

John J. Anderson 

May 19, 1898: Sent to the Washington Senators by the Brooklyn Bridegrooms as part of a conditional deal.

September 21, 1898: Returned by the Washington Senators to the Brooklyn Bridegrooms as part of a conditional deal.

March 24, 1900: Purchased by Milwaukee (American) from the Brooklyn Superbas.

September 26, 1900: Drafted by the Brooklyn Superbas from Milwaukee (American) in the 1900 rule 5 draft.

February, 1901: Jumped from the Brooklyn Superbas to the Milwaukee Brewers. (Date given is approximate. Exact date is uncertain.)

October 6, 1903: Traded by the St. Louis Browns to the New York Highlanders for Jack O’Connor. 

Harry Howell

September, 1898: Purchased by the Brooklyn Bridegrooms from Meridan (Connecticut State).

March 11, 1899: Assigned to the Baltimore Orioles by the Brooklyn Superbas.

March, 1900: Assigned to the Brooklyn Superbas by the Baltimore Orioles.

Before 1901 Season: Jumped from the Brooklyn Superbas to the Baltimore Orioles.

Honorable Mention

The 1967 Los Angeles Dodgers 

OWAR: 45.4     OWS: 274     OPW%: .515     (83-79)

AWAR: 32.5       AWS: 218      APW%: .451    (73-89)

WARdiff: 12.9                        WSdiff: 56

The “Original” 1967 Dodgers placed fifth in the National League, 13 games behind the front-running Giants. Nevertheless the “Originals” outpaced the “Actuals” by a 10 game margin. Roberto Clemente (.357/23/110) collected his fourth batting crown, led the circuit with 209 base hits and secured the seventh of twelve consecutive Gold Glove Awards. Frank “Hondo” Howard dialed long distance 36 times. Maury Wills nabbed 29 bags and Tommy H. Davis scorched 32 doubles while producing matching batting averages at .302. Jim Merritt tallied 13 victories and delivered a 2.53 ERA along with a WHIP of 0.993. Don Drysdale equaled Merritt’s win total while fashioning an ERA of 2.74 with 196 strikeouts.

On Deck

What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1978 Pirates

References and Resources

Baseball America – Executive Database


James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York, NY.: The Free Press, 2001. Print.

James, Bill, with Jim Henzler. Win Shares. Morton Grove, Ill.: STATS, 2002. Print.

Retrosheet – Transactions Database

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at “”.

Seamheads – Baseball Gauge

Sean Lahman Baseball Archive

Of Glass Hammers and Paper Tigers

I grew up watching baseball in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  It was the antecedent micro-era of hyper-inflated monsters roaming the field, destroying baseballs with mere flicks of their pharmaceutically-enhanced forearms.  What I mean to say is that I have a skewed perception of the home run.  It runs deep: Even after years of conditioning myself to not see the home-run number as a major thing, but rather a minor piece of a much larger whole, I still get impressed by big numbers.

In talking to a friend of mine, I was wondering who had the most home runs, but the smallest net benefit to a baseball team.  After all, my whole life I’ve been hearing about guys “doing damage,” and disregarding whatever other detriments they may have as long as they can sniff out them ribeyes.  I started pretty basically, searching for players who had hit 35 or more home runs and amassed 3 or less WAR, and how many seasons they had accomplished this Herculean feat.  This achievement has been completed 68 times in baseball history, so to do it multiple times is a thing in its own right.  The leaders are as follows:

Seasons Player


Adam Dunn


Dave Kingman


Sammy Sosa


Carlos Delgado


Cecil Fielder


David Ortiz


Manny Ramirez

Interesting!  A little unsurprising that Dunn is up there, given that he was one of the harbingers of the “Three True Outcome” player, and was never known as a defensive maven.  But he had some good seasons!  I remember them being good; surely he couldn’t be as bad defensively so as to totally wipe out his offensive contributions.  It turns out, that no, no he was not.  Of those five seasons, he had a collective WAR of 8.1, from .6 WAR to 2.9 WAR.  Not a world burner, by any means, but not terrible.  One season he barely qualified for this haphazard study!  Certainly a one-dimensional player, but the kind of guy you’d like to have if the price were right.

Let’s take a look at the other five-season player on the list.  Dave Kingman was known for one thing: hitting home runs.  His nickname was “Kong,” presumably because he…consumed baseballs like they were giant bananas?  Kidnapped and absconded with them to the tops of large buildings?  Or it was alliterative and evocative of power.  One of those, take your pick.  Of his five seasons on the list, two were completely decent: above-average wRC+, WAR above 2, traditional numbers of a kind that the writers would like.  His worst two seasons, however…man.  It’s some bad news on all fronts in 1986 and 1982: below-average wRC+ (86 and 97), negative WAR (-.8 and -.5), but still the writers would have been pleased with his performance.

The point of all this, I suppose, is not to say how bad Adam Dunn and Dave Kingman were at baseball.  Quite the opposite!  They were great, at a very specific thing, which was to beat the bejesus out of a baseball until nothing was left but its constituent atoms.  By traditional counting stats, Dunn is T35 and Kingman is solo 40 on the all-time HR leader board.  This is very good!  Collectively, they have hit as many as 904 home runs more than anyone reading or writing this article.

The point, as always, is to make observations about edge-case phenomena and give them a snarky name for future use.  To this end, I am proposing that a player hitting 35+ homers while accumulating 3 or less WAR be referred to as the “Dave Kingman Glass Hammer” award.  As an extension of the Glass Hammer, I am also proposing the “Ryan Howard Paper Tiger” award, for when a player completes a Glass Hammer, but finishes in the top five of the MVP voting (see Ryan Howard, 2008 for further data).

Steve Pearce Is More Than Just a Platoon Player

After a recent 5-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox, the Baltimore Orioles see themselves in a tie for second place with Boston, one game behind the Toronto Blue Jays.

Since the All-Star break, the Orioles are 16-17, and since the trade deadline, the Birds are .500.

The trade for Wade Miley is eerily similar to those for Bud Norris and Scott Feldman in past seasons, and Miley has pitched like Wade Miley so far with the Orioles, which is an upgrade from the likes of Ubaldo Jimenez, Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright.

The trade for Steve Pearce has not worked out as planned so far. With the Orioles this season, Pearce has battled an elbow injury and has only played in five games, logging 16 plate appearances and two hits.

The Orioles let Pearce go to the Tampa Bay Rays on a one-year, $4.75 million contract last offseason after the then-32-year-old was virtually a replacement player in 92 games. In 2015, Pearce posted a .218/.288/.422 slash line, with a 91 wRC+ and a 0.3 WAR.

But that Steve Pearce isn’t the real Steve Pearce. The real Steve Pearce is the guy Dan Duquette just traded for, and closer the same player Pearce was in 2014.

Let’s take a look at truly how good Pearce was in 2014.

Albeit a small sample size—102 games and 383 plate appearances—Pearce was one of the best players in all of baseball. Pearce posted a 4.9 WAR, which is great even without considering he only played in about two-thirds of the games and that he was DFA’d in April by the Orioles before shortly resigning with the team.

Only two position players in baseball were more valuable in the time they played than Pearce: Troy Tulowitzki (aided by Coors Field) and Mike Trout (aided by being a stud). With all hitters with more than 300 plate appearances, Pearce was sixth in wRC+, fifth in wOBA and seventh in ISO, while posting a not-that-lucky .322 BABIP.

Defensively, Pearce posted career marks in nearly every metric, and it seems to be an anomaly.

He was tied for second in all of baseball in defensive runs saved at first base with nine in only 415 innings, whereas Yonder Alonso had the same total in about 200 more innings, and Adrian Gonzalez had 11 in three times the innings. In the outfield, Pearce saved nine runs in only 271 innings, which is a rate better than any other outfielder that season.

The 2016 Pearce looks much more like the 2014 Pearce than the 2015 Pearce.

With Tampa Bay this season, Pearce owned a .309/.388/.520 slash line, a 148 wRC+, a .386 wOBA and a 1.9 WAR in only 60 games and 232 plate appearances. The offensive numbers are similar to those in 2014, and he still kills left-handed pitching, something the Orioles need, prompting the trade for the versatile player.

Pearce has not played outfield for Tampa Bay, spending most of his time at second base and first base, posting a zero and negative two runs saved at those positions, respectively. He will rarely play second or first base, if at all, for the Orioles this season.

While his defense is not at the level it was in 2014 — and likely will never be again — it should be more influential to this team as it was to the Orioles in 2014.

In 2014, Pearce posted a very impressive nine DRS in only 271 innings in the outfield. Those runs saved, though, were not as important to that Orioles team.

The majority of the innings in left field were logged that season by David Lough and Nelson Cruz, and they totaled for nine runs saved. While Pearce’s glove certainly helped the Orioles, he was only a slight upgrade from the other left field options defensively.

It was Pearce’s bat in 2014 that the Orioles needed, mostly replacing the offense lost from slugger Chris Davis, who struggled for most of the season and was then suspended for the last 24 games of 2014 for PED use.

This Orioles team needs to improve its outfield defense, badly.

Mark Trumbo, Nolan Reimold, Hyun Soo Kim and Joey Rickard have played almost all of the innings in left and right field this season for the Orioles. Combined, they have lost Orioles pitchers 24 runs.

Pearce is unlikely to be the defensive outfielder he was in 2014, but if he can just be an average defender in left and right field, that is just as important to this Orioles team as being an elite defender on almost any other team.

It is unknown how much Steve Pearce will play moving forward. His offensive numbers are impressive against all pitchers, but even more so against left-handed pitchers. In a small sample size of 63 plate appearances against southpaws in 2016, Pearce is slashing .377/.476/.736. In his career against lefties, he owns a .273/.356/.504 slash line in 657 plate appearances.

Pigeonholing Pearce to only playing against lefties should not be in the Orioles’ plan, considering its dire need for competent defensive outfielders. Trumbo isn’t coming out of the lineup despite his bad defense, and neither is Kim. Pedro Alvarez’s hot streak will come to an end, and when it does, Pearce should be in the outfield almost every day, leaving the other corner outfield spot and DH duties to Kim and Trumbo, with the occasional Alvarez DH nod.

xHR: A Speedy and Mandatory Revision

The Community Research section of FanGraphs serves as an excellent sounding board for aspiring amateurs (yes, those aspiring to rise to the level of amateur). After posting about a new statistical model or a detailed analysis of player performance, fellow Community Researchers are given a chance to chime in with helpful comments, sometimes leading to revision of previously drawn conclusions. More rarely, however, do the names that grace the upper sections of the website comment, but when they do, it always leads to revision.

Last week I published a new iteration of xHR, one that was drawn from xHR/BBE. It used four variables: FBLDEV, wFB/C, SLAVG, and FB%. In my naiveté, I neglected to properly analyze the variables I included in the regression model. As Mike Podhorzer helpfully pointed out, both wFB/C and SLAVG do not quite work as variables in the proper sense. Because they are heavily results-based and are both dependent on home runs for their results, they skew the math quite a bit for calculating how many home runs a player ought to have hit. It’s helpful to think of it in terms of calculating an xSLG. As Mr. Podhorzer put it, “It’s like coming up with an xSLG that utilizes doubles, triples, and home-run rates! Obviously they are all correlated, because they are part of the equation of SLG.”  They make for a sort of statistical circular logic.

For that reason, I came up with a different model, with the same basic objectives and two of the same variables, but getting rid of the improper variables. In this one, I used:

  • AVG FBLDEV – Average fly ball/line-drive exit velocity. The idea is that the higher this value is, the harder the player is hitting the ball, and so he will hit more home runs.
  • AVG FBDST – Average fly-ball distance. It’s rather intuitive because the farther a player hits fly balls, the more likely he is to hit home runs. If anything, like FBLDEV, it’s a clear demonstration of power. Obviously it has a decent correlation with FB%, but it isn’t necessarily tangled up with home-run results.
  • K% – The classic profile of a home-run hitter is one who walks a lot, strikes out quite a bit, and hits balls that leave the yard. I suppose that a common conception is that the harder a player swings, the less control he has.
  • FB% – Fly-ball percentage obviously figures pretty heavily into a power hitter’s profile. It’s awfully difficult to hit a lot of home runs without hitting a plethora of fly balls.

Without further ado, here’s the new xHR:

Note: To be clear, the end goal is not necessarily xHR/BBE, but rather xHR. xHR/BBE is just the best path to xHR because HR/BBE is a rate stat, meaning that it will have a better year-to-year correlation than home runs because that’s a counting stat. So if a player gets injured and only plays half a season, his HR/BBE would probably be similar to his career values, but his home-run numbers would not be. With that in mind, remember that the model was made for HR/BBE, not HR, so you will necessarily have “better” results if you’re looking for xHR/BBE.

Pretty good results, to be sure, even if it’s a bit worse than the prior version. A .7989 R-squared value is nothing to scoff at, especially if you think of it as the model explaining 80% of the variance. Clearly it still underestimates the better hitters, and that’s an issue, but there are really so few data points at the top that it’s hard to take it completely seriously up there. If there was a lot more data and it still did that, then I’d be inclined to either add a handicap or to think it ought to be a quadratic regression.

As always, the formula:

xHR= (.170102188*FB% -.014640853*K% + .0000269758*AVGDST + .005672306*FBLDEV -.541845681)*BBE


Even more than the previous version, this model is easily accessible to all fans because the variables are comprehensible. Moreover, it isn’t terribly difficult to head over to Statcast or Baseball Savant to obtain the relevant information and make the calculation. Anyway, I hope you enjoy and use this information to the fullest extent.

The Critical Importance of Dylan Bundy

The Orioles are a playoff contender. They also have a rotation than can best be described as “aspirational.” Their starters rank 19th by fWAR as I write this, and too many of them put more fear into Buck Showalter than they do the opposition. You may be asking yourself “Self, has a team with a rotation this bad ever won the World Series?”

Well, ever is a really long time, but I did check in on the World Series winners over the last 10 years, and the answer is: why yes. It’s happened twice in fact: The last two Worlds Series winners (Royals and Giants) also had mediocre starting-pitching production, ranked 22nd and 23rd by fWAR (respectively). The Giants, at least, had Madison Bumgarner, who amassed nearly 4 WAR, won all seven games of the Series, and hit two homers in each game. Ok, not all of that sentence is true, but the Giants clearly had an ace, a horse they could ride to victory.

The Orioles rotation is a lot less ace-y. Chris Tillman sits at 2.4 WAR right now, good for 31st in the majors. Kevin Gausman may reach 2.0. No other O’s starter will.

This resembles the Royals 2015 rotation more than that of the 2014 Giants. The Fighting Yosts had two 2+ WAR starters: Yordano Ventura and Edinson Volquez. Like those Royals, the O’s have a relentless offense (though relentless in a much different way), and a quality bullpen (both 5th in reliever WAR).

Both rotations also received a key midseason reinforcement. In the 2015 Royals’ case it was Johnny Cueto, who put up an unimpressive 4.76 ERA in his time in KC, but did contribute 1 WAR. With the Royals, Cueto went over 6 innings per start with a 4.06 FIP, giving the bullpen some rest and pushing the radioactive Jeremy Guthrie to the margins of the rotation. The Royals had three 1+ WAR hurlers in the second half: Ventura, Volquez, and Cueto.

The Orioles similarly received a rotation boost after the All-Star break, but via roster re-deployment rather than trade. On July 17 Bundy made his first major-league start. Against the punchless Tampa Bay Rays, Bundy surrendered four runs in just 3 1/3 innings. He struck out four, walked three, and coughed up three dingers. In the space of about an hour, Bundy’s ERA jumped more than half a run.

And it’s been heading down ever since. In his last five starts, Bundy has posted a 1.84 ERA, a .472 OPS against, 32 Ks in 29 innings, and just four walks. Those three homers the Rays hit are still the only ones he’s yielded. These aren’t joke teams Bundy’s been beating: of his last five opponents, only the White Sox’ offense serves comfort food.

In the second half, Bundy trails only Tillman in starter WAR for the O’s. He and Tillman will both reach 1. It seems unlikely any other O’s starter will. Using the 2015 Royals as a model, the Orioles can have success down the stretch and into the postseason with three decent starters. The only candidates are Tillman, Gausman, and Bundy. This puts a lot of heat on a guy with just six major-league starts.

Are there alarm bells? In moving to the starting rotation, Bundy’s velocity has actually increased. His home run rate (1.65/9) is worrisome, but in sample sizes this small it’s dangerous to draw any conclusions from that. He’s doing something new with his curve, probably a key part of his recent success. He’s a achieved a whiff rate in August with the curve that’s almost twice that of any other month in his career. He’s also using his sinker more. These are good things, but any time an injury-prone pitcher makes this many changes at once, it’s possible that he’s rolling the dice with his soft tissue.

The biggest warning sign is probably the innings. His 70+ IP this year amount to just under a third of all his innings in organized ball. In one sense this was expected: Bundy was supposed to get to the majors with relatively minimal minor-league time. However, it’s taken him nearly five years since being drafted to get to 241 career innings (across all levels). No one expected that.

There isn’t a lot of history to go on here; Bundy doesn’t have many comps. There are good reasons for that. Forty years ago the medical advances that have made Bundy’s continued baseball existence possible did not yet exist. Moreover, prior to free agency, it would not have made economic sense for a team to incur those costs even if it could have. Back then, baseball was like Verdun: throw people at the enemy’s trenches and maybe enough of them will survive to take the objective. If not, order up another division and try again. In the baseball context, that meant if a young pitcher’s arm failed, you sent the kid home with a positive reference for his future employer, and gave the next kid the roster slot.

No team can afford to be so cavalier with its pitchers today, at least the ones with significant ceilings. Bundy is, in theory, the unobtanium of baseball: a young, cost-controlled, electric arm. The Orioles’ patience with him to this point is thus admirable, but hardly visionary. It’s more a reflection of how baseball has changed than of the merits the organization.

But the interests of the young pitcher and his employer do not always coincide. Bundy finds himself in a situation similar to that of Steven Matz, a situation in which Bundy’s long-term future and the Orioles’ immediate future may be incompatible. He is critical to whatever hopes the O’s may have of reaching, much less going deep into, the playoffs. Bundy’s heart wants him to continue starting well into October; whether his elbow agrees remains to be seen.

But no matter what fate awaits the O’s and Bundy, 29 other franchises are watching the Bundy story unfold. He will be the comp for the brilliant yet jeopardized young arms of the future. For the front office there is the remote but tantalizing prospect of competitive advantage: The franchise that finds a reliable way to fix those wings will undoubtedly take flight.

The Domination of the Other Phelps

Coming off a season in which he pitched to a 4.50 ERA mostly out of the starting rotation with only 6.19 strikeouts per nine innings, the Marlins decided it was time for a change for David Phelps. They moved Phelps to the bullpen full-time to begin this year, and he was on his way to becoming a relief ace before the Marlins sent him back to the rotation. In 50 relief appearances before joining the rotation, Phelps averaged a whopping 11.43 whiffs per nine (69 strikeouts in 54.1 innings!). Since joining the rotation, Phelps has nine whiffs in 9.1 innings. It will be interesting to see if he can keep this up in the rotation (a la Danny Duffy), because the main culprit for this increase in strikeouts is a surge in fastball velocity:


It’s a classic case of a pitcher’s stuff playing up in a move to the bullpen. Before this year, Phelps never even averaged 92 on the heater. Now, he’s close to 95. I’m hopeful that he’ll maintain this velocity surge because of what Danny Duffy has done this year. Last year, Duffy averaged around 94.5 on his heater and a mere 6.72 K/9. This year, he’s up to around 96 and 10 in those two categories, respectively, despite being shuttled to and from the bullpen his entire career (just like Phelps). There were plenty of concerns that Duffy’s stuff wouldn’t last in a move from the bullpen this year, but I think his 16-strikeout performance on August 1st quelled the last of those concerns.

Alas, a hard fastball isn’t enough to make a great pitcher, as the Yankees realized when they included David Phelps as a throw-in for Nathan Eovaldi. Now, they’re actually of a similar level of skill. Phelps’ four-seamer has decent arm-side movement, but Eovaldi’s has more. Both of their four-seamers generate close to a 20% pop-up rate, which is really good (average for a pitcher’s full arsenal is around 9.6%). Phelps’ four-seamer’s whiff rate has gone up: it was never higher than 9% (a mere 5.6% last year), but this year it’s nearly 13% (Eovaldi’s is at around 7.8% this year).

Here’s what Phelps has that Eovaldi doesn’t have: decent secondary stuff. Phelps’ second-most-frequent offering is his sinker, which has the eighth-best horizontal movement for sinkers of pitchers with at least 60 innings this year (according to FanGraphs). The whiff rate is up to its highest point ever (although only near 6%). He throws it hard, as it’s averaging over 94 this season. The GB% has never actually been good, but it’s up over 50% this year for the first time. The kicker is this: his sinker has allowed an incredibly low ISO this year (0.036). Who knows if the newfound power-suppressing/added groundball-getting ability will continue for the pitch, but even if it doesn’t, sinkers and four-seamers usually work really well together. This is part of how Phelps distances himself from Eovaldi — Eovaldi has no sinker!

Phelps also has a solid curve, which is generating its best whiff rate since his rookie year, at 11.3% this year. This year, it also has the most vertical drop and cutting action away from righties of his career. Of the 191 pitchers who have thrown at least 100 curveballs this year (sample from Baseball Savant), Phelps’ deuce has the 28th-highest spin rate (2616 revolutions per minute), well above that group’s average of about 2243. And boy, does that thing get grounders. Its average launch angle this year is -7.0! That’s good enough for the third-lowest among my curveballer sample. Brooks Baseball has its GB% at nearly 77% this year, and it has only dipped below 60% one season in his career.

His other pitch of note is a cutter/slider thing (he also has a change, but he’s only thrown it 14 times this year). It has good rise. It doesn’t get too many whiffs, but it’s at its highest whiff rate since his rookie year (close to 9%). The ISO against it has only gone above .100 one year, and is solid this year at .090. It gives him a bit of a new velocity band, as it has usually come in around 91 this year. It also gives him a different kind of movement from his other fastballs (FF=four-seamer, FT=sinker, FC/SL=cutter/slider thing, KC=curve, CH=changeup):


The bottom line is this: Phelps has always had decent secondary stuff, but before this year, his fastball kind of sucked. Everything plays off of the fastball well, so as his fastball has improved, his secondary stuff has improved too. If Phelps can maintain this added velocity, I see a bright future for him.

Data from FanGraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Savant, and Texas Leaguers. If you have a moment, read the awesome article that I linked from The Hardball Times:

Thanks for reading!

Dylan Cozens or Rhys Hoskins?

The Philadelphia Phillies are fortunate enough to possess the only two Double-A hitters with more than 30 home runs so far in the 2016 season. Besides Rhys (pronounced “Reese”) Hoskins and Dylan Cozens (pronounced “Cousins”), no other hitter in the Eastern League has more than 20 home runs. No other hitter in all of Double-A has more than 24.

But minor-league hitters with immense power are not a new phenomenon, and a vast majority of them never amount to much, if anything, in the major leagues. But these two, in my opinion, are a different story.

Cozens and Hoskins, rated the No. 18 and 19 prospects in the Phillies system, respectively, at the beginning of the year, have both made strides in 2016 that should have them both quickly ascending. While they both boast similar slash lines in Double-A Reading this year (Cozens: .283/.367/.611 with 32 HR and a .328 ISO; Hoskins: .284/.362/.591 with 33 HR and a .307 ISO), I believe that one of the two is much more likely to be an above-average major-league player and perhaps even an All-Star.



Cozens, who has the less orthodox approach of the two, stands far away from the plate. He dares the pitcher to come inside, knowing that he has the arm length to cover any pitch that could potentially cross the outside of the plate. Essentially, any pitch thrown on the inner half to Cozens is akin to throwing a pitch down the middle to any other hitter.

Even less orthodox than his physical placement is the placement of his hands. Cozens, who stands very upright in the box, keeps his hands low and towards his back hip. This creates problems for him when he chases fastballs up in the zone, which he struggles to get his hands above. Since Cozens can’t to lay off of those pitches, this becomes especially problematic for the slugger. Additionally, his high leg kick leaves him frequently off balance and on his front foot, especially against offspeed pitches. With his freakish power, however, he can still drive the ball out of the park even when he’s fooled by and out in front of a pitch.

Cozens struggles to identify breaking pitches, leaving him even more susceptible to fastballs up and in. The upper, inner quadrant is easily the most glaring hole in his swing. That, coupled with his propensity to get out on his front foot and wave through offspeed pitches, has led to Cozens’ 29.3 K% in AA this year. Cozens does have a BB% of 11.8, which is encouraging, especially since it hadn’t topped 7.2 since Low-A in 2013. A lot of those walks, however, have been a result of Double-A pitchers not wanting to challenge the slugger. Needless to say, his approach will need to improve if he wants to compete against major league pitching.

Hoskins has a much better approach. His stance is more conventional, and his leg lift and stride are much shorter and controlled. With his back foot pointed slightly towards the pitcher, Hoskins lifts his front foot a few inches off the ground as the pitcher winds up and holds it there until he identifies the speed and location of the pitch, which he does well. When pitchers try to surprise him with changeups and breaking pitches in hitters’ counts, Hoskins is often ready to ambush. He stays balanced and doesn’t chase many unhittable pitches.

While most of Hoskins’ home runs are to the pull field, he doesn’t get too pull-happy, especially with pitches up in the zone. When he gets a fastball up and away, he’s not afraid to drive it to right field for a single. This explains Hoskins’ slightly lower ISO (.307 to Cozens’ .337). He is, however, susceptible to the fastball low and away, which he will try to pull.

Hoskins is able to differentiate between fastballs and offspeed pitches much better than Cozens. Hoskins will often check his swing on breaking pitches out of the zone, and he will stay back on changeups, even in hitters’ counts, and drive them. He doesn’t chase nearly as much as Cozens; his walk rate hasn’t been below 9.0% since Low-A (7.7%). Even more encouraging for Hoskins are his split stats. Most right-handed power hitters struggle against right-handed pitchers, but Hoskins’ split in 316 PA against RHP in 2016 is a robust .288/.365/.570 with 25 of his 33 home runs. Conversely, Cozens, a left-handed hitter, struggles mightily against LHP (.204/.286/.387 with 5 of his 31 HR).

Advantage: Hoskins.



While both hitters possess plus power, Cozens’ is elite and able to offset his below-average hit tool at times. The best metaphor for Cozens’ power is a flashy, new titanium driver: It is forgiving and doesn’t require perfect contact for a desirable result. Cozens doesn’t have to barrel up a ball to knock it out of the park, nor does he need to be balanced. He can be fooled by a breaking pitch and have a majority of his weight on his front foot and still easily clear the fence in right-center.

Hoskins, meanwhile, is a high-quality, old-fashioned persimmon three wood. He possesses above-average power, but needs to square up the ball in order to tap fully into it. But Hoskins’ power is more consistent and reliable, mostly due to his superior approach and hit tool.

Advantage: Cozens.



Both Cozens and Hoskins are large men. Hoskins, listed at 6’4” and 225, is relegated to a corner infield position, most likely 1B, where he is adequate albeit unspectacular. Cozens is listed at 6’6” and 235 and offers more both in the field and on the basepaths. Cozens is an average defender in RF, although he has appeared in CF seven times in his minor-league career. He’s deceptively fast for his size, as his 23 stolen bases in 2014 and 18 this year attest to.

Advantage: Cozens.



While both players possess above-average power and are thriving in Double-A at relatively young ages (Hoskins is 23 and Cozens is 22), Hoskins has the superior hit tool and approach. Cozens offers more as a defender and a baserunner, but not enough to offset his high strikeout totals, and his power is only marginally superior to that of Hoskins. Hoskins’ power is more translatable to the big leagues, where he has the opportunity to eventually thrive. This may seem strangely optimistic, but I would not bet against him reaching his ceiling as an All-Star first baseman with 30+ home run power and a .260/.340/.500 slash line.

Advantage: Hoskins

Tomlin Has a 3.81 ERA? You Must Be Joshing!

The Indians have an awesome starting rotation. They’re fifth in the MLB (first in the superior-hitting American League) with a 3.95 SIERA, seventh in ERA with a 3.96. They obviously have a solid top three in Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, and Danny Salazar. Beyond them, the emergence of Trevor Bauer has grabbed headlines. But what about that last spot in the rotation? It is being held down, and held down steadily, by one Josh Tomlin. And he isn’t dragging down the staff’s ERA like most number 4s and 5s. In fact, he’s actually improved the ERA of the staff with a solid 3.81 ERA. However, he’s only averaged 6.39 K’s per nine innings, far below the league average for starting pitchers this year (7.72). He certainly doesn’t have overwhelming stuff. How has he been able to succeed?

Tomlin has impeccable command. He’s walking 1.15 guys per nine innings, in line with his career (1.45). He’s third in the MLB in K/BB ratio (first in AL). He’s 13th in first-pitch-strike percentage. He dots the corner with his main secondary offerings, a curve and a cutter, throwing them down and away to righties and down and in to lefties. He’s done this throughout his career:


And he’s continued to do so this year:


He owns that low and outside corner! Spotting his pitches on the corners has likely helped Tomlin to induce a solid Z-Swing percentage of 62.7% (according to FanGraphs plate-discipline data), which is 10th-lowest in the MLB this year. This means that Tomlin has been good at getting called strikes. He pairs this skill nicely with a 33.6% O-Swing percentage, which is the 11th-highest in the MLB this year. This means that Tomlin has been good at getting hitters to swing at pitches outside of the zone (pitches they usually can’t drive). This has been a skill for Tomlin throughout his career (33.2% O-Swing during his career).

In addition, he has a career BABIP of .274 (league average is around .295 every year). He has improved on that mark this year, allowing a .268 BABIP. This isn’t entirely surprising, given the high O-Swing percentage: If you swing at pitches outside of the strike zone, it’s much harder to make solid contact. Also of note is the fact that Tomlin’s Z-Swing percentage has really improved for him this year (66.3% career versus 62.7% this year).

What’s the driving force behind the improvement in these two plate-discipline stats? Tomlin’s cutter and curve offer a good explanation. According to PITCHf/x data on FanGraphs, Tomlin’s cutter has the 15th-best “rise” among qualified pitchers this year. It also has the eighth-most horizontal movement, darting away from righties and in to lefties. What’s more, the cutter has induced a 42.7% O-Swing percentage across his entire career. That number has held strong this year at a 44.5% clip. He’s decided to uptick the usage on the pitch this year to a career high, while throwing his four-seamer at a career-low rate.

















































The curve is the driving force behind the low Z-Swing percentage: This year, the pitch has a crazy low percentage of 44.7%. While that is lower than his career percentage on the pitch,  the curve is generating excellent vertical drop this year (15th-best in the MLB), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him maintain a low percentage.

Tomlin isn’t flashy. He doesn’t pile up strikeouts. He doesn’t throw very hard. But, he spots the ball tremendously well and appears to have good contact management skills. Two pieces to the puzzle are his low Z-Swing percentage (fueled by the curve) and high O-Swing percentage (fueled by the cutter and its uptick in usage).

Data courtesy of FanGraphs and Brooks Baseball. Thanks for reading!

Will Cy Young Voters Like Zach Britton’s Year?

You probably know that Zach Britton is good at baseball, and that he’s having a great year. He was good enough last year that an article was written titled “How Zach Britton Blew His Saves”, and he’s been even more effective this year. Britton set a record last Wednesday night for consecutive saves by a left-handed relief pitcher to start a season, and has a number of other impressive stats:

  • he hasn’t allowed a hit since July 15 (a span of 8 appearances), a run since June 21 (18 appearances), or an earned run since April 30 (36 appearances)
  • he has allowed hits in just 18 of 47 appearances, and allowed multiple baserunners (via hit or walk) in just 10 of appearances

The ESPN Cy Young Predictor (CYP) shows Britton to be leading the current AL Cy Young race. He could be the first reliever to earn first-place Cy Young votes since Craig Kimbrel and Fernando Rodney received (single) first place votes in 2012. But is it really plausible to think that he could win?

Relievers and Recent Cy Young Voting

Let’s compare Britton’s stats with the four other relievers to receive first-place Cy Young votes since Eric Gagne’s 2003 victory, the last reliever season to actually win the Cy Young:

CYP finish Actual finish 1st place votes ERA SV BS IP H R ER HR SO WHIP
Gagne 2003 1 1 28 1.20 55 0 82.1 37 12 11 2 137 0.692
Rivera 2005 1 2 8 1.38 43 4 78.1 50 18 12 2 80 0.868
Kimbrel 2012 6 5 1 1.01 42 3 62.2 27 7 7 3 116 0.654
Rodney 2012 3 5 1 0.60 48 2 74.2 43 9 5 2 76 0.777
Britton 2016 1 ? ? 0.59 33 0 45.2 22 6 3 1 52 0.766

A lot of dominant seasons. A few notes:

  • Rivera’s 2005 season benefited from a transition time where many writers still prized W-L and voted for Bartolo Colon; Colon’s selection over Johan Santana looks silly in hindsight
  • Rodney’s 2012 and Britton’s 2016 season look really similar, except that Britton has been perfect in save situations (more on this soon)

Why Gagne Won

Gagne’s narrative of dominance that year, including his famous entrance and nickname “game over”, was corroborated by a combination of save records (55 saves and 0 blown saves, in the midst of a still-standing record 84-save-conversion streak), minuscule WHIP (.692), and an eye-popping 137 Ks (15.0 per 9 innings). Britton has the perfect save conversion rate and low WHIP that Gagne had, but faces additional obstacles in winning and constructing the name narrative.

The first is that Britton’s K rate, while great, is much lower. The second is that reliever seasons have become discounted recently, a sort of narrative goalpost shift in the sabermetric era. The perfect save conversion was repeated by Jose Valverde and Brad Lidge in 2011 and 2008, respectively, and I think no longer carries the same impression on voters. Gagne won convincingly even though there was no shortage of excellent starters that year (Mark Prior and Mike Schmidt both had WAR figures much higher than Gagne’s), because he was the story in NL pitching that year. Relievers tend to do worse on metrics like WAR compared to starters, and this makes constructing the same justification for voters to cast high votes to relievers much harder today. WAR was in its infancy in 2003, and I think if the 2003 vote were recast today, the result would be quite different.

This leads us to some sabermetric numbers:

ERA+ FIP WPA  (league rank) bWAR fWAR RA9-WAR
Gagne 2003 337 0.86 6.56 (1) 3.7 4.7 4.4
Rivera 2005 308 2.15 3.2 (6) 4.2 2.9 3.5
Kimbrel 2012 399 0.78 4.4 (1) 3.3 3.3 3.6
Rodney 2012 641 2.13 5.1 (2) 3.8 2.4 4.0
Britton 2016 749 2.00 4.37 (1) 2.7 1.6 2.5

A lot can be said here, but a few things I wanted to mention:

  • I think Gagne’s high WPA is based on his outstanding performance in high-leverage situations (a look at his splits shows that he gave up two extra-base hits against 63 strikeouts in 154 high-leverage plate appearances in 2003)
  • bWAR loves Rivera; he had three other seasons of 4 or more WAR, including his workhorse 1996 season with 107.2 IP and 5 WAR
  • Gagne and Kimbrel’s FIP are actually lower than their ERA, I think because of their K rates
  • Rivera, Rodney, and Britton had their ERA (and ERA+) figures benefit from allowing multiple unearned runs

 Lastly, let’s look at stranding runners:

Gagne 2003 83.9 10 0 2 1
Rivera 2005 78.0 18 2 3 1
Kimbrel 2012 92.8 4 0 0 0
Rodney 2012 89.4 18 2 0 0
Britton 2016 86.3 14 1 2 2

All five stranded baserunners at an excellent rate, especially Kimbrel’s astounding 92.8% LOB. They were also extremely effective at preventing inherited runners from scoring, with a combined 55 of 60 inherited runners stranded. This takes us to:

Britton’s Luck

Britton has enjoyed both good and bad luck this year, and I’ll just mention two factors: defense and bequeathed runners. The good luck is in having a good infield defense behind him, which is obviously important for a sinkerball pitcher. Davis, Schoop, Hardy, and Machado are enjoying FanGraphs Fielding ratings of 1.1, 0.4, 1.9, and 4.1, respectively, and for what it’s worth, the Orioles are second in the AL in fielding percentage as well.

The (slight) bad luck is in his two bequeathed runners, both of whom scored. The first was on April 30, where Britton left with a runner on 1st and 2 out and Vance Worley allowed the runner to score, tagging Britton with one of his three ER this year. The other was on June 21, where Britton left with a runner at 2nd and 2 out, and Ordrisamer Despaigne allowed the runner to score. Britton was charged with 3 unearned runs but 0 earned runs, as Flaherty was playing 3rd instead of Machado that day and made an error early in the inning; this is one of only two errors committed behind Britton this year.

The Search for Perfection

If Britton ends up something like 55/55 in save situations (or blows one save) with his current rate stats, I think he’ll get at least a few first-place votes. But I think it is nearly impossible to be a reliever with a typical closer load and actually win the award in the WAR era, and perhaps tools like the Cy Young Predictor might be adjusted to reflect this.

This discussion also raises the question in my mind of whether we will ever see a reliever put up a perfect season of at least 60 innings with 0 runs allowed. It is really hard to throw that many shutout innings. Hershiser and Drysdale had streaks of nearly 60 scoreless innings, but all of the pitchers on the top 10 list of scoreless streaks were primarily starters. Reliever Brad Ziegler began his career with 29 scoreless appearances, but that’s only halfway to 60. Maybe it is like the chance of another .400 hitter.

We will see how Britton’s season turns out, and how the voters evaluate it. In the meantime, we will probably be seeing a lot more of this:

Hardball Retrospective – What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1997 Red Sox 

In “Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises”, I placed every ballplayer in the modern era (from 1901-present) on their original team. I calculated revised standings for every season based entirely on the performance of each team’s “original” players. I discuss every team’s “original” players and seasons at length along with organizational performance with respect to the Amateur Draft (or First-Year Player Draft), amateur free agent signings and other methods of player acquisition.  Season standings, WAR and Win Shares totals for the “original” teams are compared against the “actual” team results to assess each franchise’s scouting, development and general management skills.

Expanding on my research for the book, the following series of articles will reveal the teams with the biggest single-season difference in the WAR and Win Shares for the “Original” vs. “Actual” rosters for every Major League organization. “Hardball Retrospective” is available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes and KoboBooks. The paperback edition is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CreateSpace. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at

Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of my book are accessible here.


OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

OPW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “original” teams

AWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “actual” teams

AWS – Win Shares for players on “actual” teams

APW% – Pythagorean Won-Loss record for the “actual” teams



The 1997 Boston Red Sox 

OWAR: 63.7     OWS: 317     OPW%: .583     (94-68)

AWAR: 41.4      AWS: 234     APW%: .481     (78-84)

WARdiff: 22.3                        WSdiff: 83  

The “Original” 1997 Red Sox cruised to the pennant by a ten-game margin over the Yankees. Jeff Bagwell delivered a 30/30 season (43 HR / 31 SB), drove in a career-high 135 baserunners, rapped 40 doubles and coaxed 127 walks. Brady Anderson followed his 50-home run campaign in ’96 with 39 two-base knocks and 18 dingers. A trio of “Original” and “Actual” Sox infielders provided additional firepower in Boston’s stacked lineup. Nomar Garciaparra (.306/30/98) merited the 1997 AL Rookie of the Year Award as he registered 209 base hits, 122 runs scored, 44 doubles, 11 triples and 22 stolen bases. Mo “Hit Dog” Vaughn slammed 35 circuit clouts and supplied a .315 BA. John Valentin (.306/18/77) led the League with 47 two-baggers.

1B Jeff Bagwell and 3B Wade Boggs placed fourth at their respective positions in the “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract” top 100 player rankings. “Original” Red Sox teammates specified in the “NBJHBA” top 100 rankings include Roger Clemens (11th-P), Mo Vaughn (51st-1B), Brady Anderson (63rd-CF) and Ellis Burks (77th-CF).

  Original 1997 Red Sox                                                             Actual 1997 Red Sox

Ellis Burks LF/CF 1.03 13.6 Wil Cordero LF -1.26 10.76
Brady Anderson CF 3.44 25.97 Darren Bragg CF 0.28 10.71
Phil Plantier RF/LF -0.02 2.24 Troy O’Leary RF 0.36 13.57
Mo Vaughn DH/1B 3.2 22.31 Reggie Jefferson DH 0.46 10.31
Jeff Bagwell 1B 7.47 30.58 Mo Vaughn 1B 3.2 22.31
John Valentin 2B 4.45 21.03 John Valentin 2B 4.45 21.03
Nomar Garciaparra SS 4.19 25.54 Nomar Garciaparra SS 4.19 25.54
Wade Boggs 3B 1.26 11.37 Tim Naehring 3B 1 8.1
John Flaherty C 1.26 12.67 Scott Hatteberg C 2.21 6.4
Tim Naehring 3B 1 8.1 Jeff Frye 2B 1.43 12.16
Scott Hatteberg C 2.21 6.4 Mike Stanley DH 1.17 8.52
Todd Pratt C 0.63 4.46 Shane Mack CF 0.15 3.59
Ryan McGuire 1B -0.12 3.98 Mike Benjamin 3B -0.06 1.52
John Marzano C 0.05 2.39 Bill Haselman C 0.09 0.88
Jody Reed 2B -0.46 1.52 Rudy Pemberton RF -0.21 1.03
Danny Sheaffer 3B -0.71 0.79 Jesus Tavarez CF -0.59 0.56
Scott Cooper 3B -0.47 0.78 Curtis Pride 0.1 0.35
Michael Coleman CF -0.27 0.11 Arquimedez Pozo 3B -0.02 0.31
Jose Malave LF -0.08 0.04 Jason Varitek C 0.05 0.16
Walt McKeel C -0.04 0 Michael Coleman CF -0.27 0.11
Jose Malave LF -0.08 0.04
Walt McKeel C -0.04 0

Roger Clemens (21-7, 2.05) collected the 1997 AL Cy Young Award while posting a personal-best with 292 whiffs. Curt Schilling (17-11, 2.97) overpowered the opposition with a career-high 319 strikeouts. Paul Quantrill furnished a 1.94 ERA in 77 relief appearances. Tom “Flash” Gordon notched 11 saves for the “Actuals”.

  Original 1997 Red Sox                            Actual 1997 Red Sox

Roger Clemens SP 12 32.22 Tom Gordon SP 3.72 15.2
Curt Schilling SP 5.93 22.29 Tim Wakefield SP 2.85 11.63
Aaron Sele SP 0.64 6.71 Aaron Sele SP 0.64 6.71
Frankie Rodriguez SP 0.93 5.97 Jeff Suppan SP 0.24 3.72
Jeff Suppan SP 0.24 3.72 Chris Hammond SP -0.23 1.7
Paul Quantrill RP 2.64 11.66 Butch Henry SW 1.81 8.78
Ron Mahay RP 0.71 3.4 John Wasdin SW 1.23 7
Joe Hudson RP 0.42 2.93 Jim Corsi RP 0.78 6.01
Shayne Bennett RP 0.34 1.51 Ron Mahay RP 0.71 3.4
Reggie Harris RP -0.22 1.37 Joe Hudson RP 0.42 2.93
Erik Plantenberg RP 0.06 1.07 Ricky Trlicek RP -0.06 1.29
Josias Manzanillo RP -0.17 0.28 Robinson Checo SP 0.41 1.24
Cory Bailey RP -0.33 0.21 Mark Brandenburg RP -0.12 1.21
Greg Hansell RP -0.24 0 Derek Lowe RP 0.29 1.17
Brian Rose SP -0.17 0 Heathcliff Slocumb RP -0.52 1.14
Ken Ryan RP -1.09 0 Steve Avery SP -0.9 0.99
Kerry Lacy RP -0.76 0.75
Vaughn Eshelman SP -0.37 0.72
Rich Garces RP -0.1 0.43
Bret Saberhagen SP -0.15 0.01
Toby Borland RP -0.28 0
Ken Grundt RP -0.11 0
Pat Mahomes RP -0.39 0
Brian Rose SP -0.17 0

Notable Transactions

Roger Clemens

November 5, 1996: Granted Free Agency.

December 13, 1996: Signed as a Free Agent with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jeff Bagwell

August 30, 1990: Traded by the Boston Red Sox to the Houston Astros for Larry Andersen.

Brady Anderson 

July 29, 1988: Traded by the Boston Red Sox with Curt Schilling to the Baltimore Orioles for Mike Boddicker. 

Curt Schilling 

July 29, 1988: Traded by Boston Red Sox with Brady Anderson to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Mike Boddicker.

January 10, 1991: Traded by Baltimore Orioles with Pete Harnisch and Steve Finley to the Houston Astros in exchange for Glenn Davis.

April 2, 1992: Traded by Houston Astros to Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Jason Grimsley.

December 20, 1995: Granted free agency.

December 21, 1995: Signed by Philadelphia Phillies.

Honorable Mention

The 1927 Boston Red Sox 

OWAR: 32.6     OWS: 230     OPW%: .463     (71-83)

AWAR: 13.7       AWS: 153      APW%: .331    (51-103)

WARdiff: 18.9                        WSdiff: 77

The “Original” 1927 Red Sox tied for last place with the Indians yet managed to finish 20 games better than the “Actual” squad. Babe Ruth (.356/60/165) established the single-season home run record and paced the Junior Circuit with 158 runs scored, 137 walks, a .486 OBP and a .772 SLG. Tris Speaker sported a .327 BA and laced 43 two-base hits in his penultimate season.

On Deck

What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1904 Superbas

References and Resources

Baseball America – Executive Database


James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York, NY.: The Free Press, 2001. Print.

James, Bill, with Jim Henzler. Win Shares. Morton Grove, Ill.: STATS, 2002. Print.

Retrosheet – Transactions Database

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at “”.

Seamheads – Baseball Gauge

Sean Lahman Baseball Archive