Hardball Retrospective – What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1975 Astros

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 TuataraSoftware.com.

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.

Terminology

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

 

Assessment

The 1975 Houston Astros 

OWAR: 50.0     OWS: 291     OPW%: .535     (87-75)

AWAR: 28.7      AWS: 192     APW%: .398     (64-97)

WARdiff: 21.3                        WSdiff: 99  

The “Original” 1975 Astros fell six games short of the National League Western Division title as the Big Red Machine tallied 93 victories. Joe L. Morgan produced a .327 BA with 17 dingers, 94 ribbies and 107 runs scored to secure the NL MVP Award. “Little Joe” succeeded on 67 of 77 stolen base attempts and coaxed a League-leading 132 bases on balls. First-sacker John Mayberry racked up personal-bests in doubles (38), home runs (34), RBI (106), runs (95) and bases on balls (119). Rusty Staub swatted 19 big-flies and knocked in 105 baserunners. Cesar Cedeno swiped 50 bags and batted .288 while Bob “Bull” Watson delivered a career-high BA (.324) for the “Original” and “Actual” ‘Stros.

Joe L. Morgan is ranked as the top second baseman according to Bill James in “The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract.” “Original” Astros teammates listed in the “NBJHBA” top 100 rankings include Cesar Cedeno (21st-CF), Rusty Staub (24th-RF), Bob Watson (33rd-1st), John Mayberry (49th-1B), Doug Rader (64th-3B) and Jerry Grote (66th-C). “Actual” Astros outfielder Jose Cruz places 29th among left fielders.

 

  Original 1975 Astros                                    Actual 1975 Astros

LINEUP POS OWAR OWS LINEUP POS AWAR AWS
Greg Gross LF 1.91 14.4 Greg Gross LF 1.91 14.4
Cesar Cedeno CF 4.25 19.87 Cesar Cedeno CF 4.25 19.87
Rusty Staub RF 2.34 24.89 Jose Cruz RF 2.69 10.54
John Mayberry 1B 6.1 32.3 Bob Watson 1B 2.63 20.01
Joe L. Morgan 2B 9.44 43.74 Rob Andrews 2B 1.15 5.3
Enzo Hernandez SS -0.33 7.01 Roger Metzger SS 0.49 8.2
Doug Rader 3B 0.93 9.34 Doug Rader 3B 0.93 9.34
Jerry Grote C 2.15 17.24 Milt May C 0.6 7.5
BENCH POS OWAR OWS BENCH POS AWAR AWS
Bob Watson 1B 2.63 20.01 Cliff Johnson 1B 2.72 15.09
Derrel Thomas 2B 1.55 16.73 Wilbur Howard LF 1.52 9.93
Cliff Johnson 1B 2.72 15.09 Enos Cabell LF 0.34 7.12
Walt Williams DH 0.34 4.12 Jerry DaVanon SS 0.87 4.19
Fred Stanley SS -0.98 3.78 Ken Boswell 2B -0.11 3.51
Glenn Adams LF 0.61 3.63 Larry Milbourne 2B -0.25 1.31
Jack Lind SS -0.2 0.26 Tommy Helms 2B -0.32 1
Jesus de la Rosa 0.04 0.16 Skip Jutze C -0.5 0.88
Art Gardner RF -0.28 0.08 Jesus de la Rosa 0.04 0.16
Danny Walton 1B -0.55 0.07 Art Gardner RF -0.28 0.08
Ed Armbrister LF -0.46 0.03 Rafael Batista -0.01 0.07
Mike Easler -0.06 0 Mike Easler -0.06 0

Houston hurlers failed to generate much excitement during the ’75 campaign. Larry Dierker completed 14 of 34 starts and fashioned a record of 14-16 with a 4.00 ERA. Pat Darcy posted an 11-5 mark with a 3.58 ERA in his inaugural season. Dave Giusti furnished a 2.95 ERA and saved 17 contests despite accruing more walks than strikeouts.

 

  Original 1975 Astros                                    Actual 1975 Astros

ROTATION POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS AWAR AWS
Larry Dierker SP 0.33 8.85 Larry Dierker SP 0.33 8.85
Pat Darcy SP 1.38 7.76 Ken Forsch SP 1.02 5.89
Ken Forsch SP 1.02 5.89 J. R. Richard SP -0.38 5.77
J. R. Richard SP -0.38 5.77 Dave Roberts SP -0.08 5.74
Roric Harrison SP -0.51 5.5 Doug Konieczny SP -0.92 3.17
BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS BULLPEN POS AWAR AWS
Dave Giusti RP 0.55 9.94 Joe Niekro RP 1.03 6.53
Tom Burgmeier RP 0.77 7.4 Mike Cosgrove RP 0.96 5.05
Mike Cosgrove RP 0.96 5.05 Jim Crawford RP 0.09 4.27
Jim Crawford RP 0.09 4.27 Wayne Granger RP -0.71 2.96
Bill Greif RP -1.04 3.26 Jose Sosa RP 0.26 2.12
Doug Konieczny SP -0.92 3.17 Jim York SW -0.04 2.07
Wayne Twitchell SP -1.37 3.05 Paul Siebert SP 0.17 1.09
Jose Sosa RP 0.26 2.12 Mike T. Stanton SP -0.55 0
Paul Siebert SP 0.17 1.09 Tom Griffin SP -1.38 0
Mike T. Stanton SP -0.55 0 Fred Scherman RP -0.41 0
Tom Griffin SP -1.38 0

 

Notable Transactions

Joe L. Morgan

November 29, 1971: Traded by the Houston Astros with Ed Armbrister, Jack Billingham, Cesar Geronimo and Denis Menke to the Cincinnati Reds for Tommy Helms, Lee May and Jimmy Stewart.

John Mayberry

December 2, 1971: Traded by the Houston Astros with David Grangaard (minors) to the Kansas City Royals for Lance Clemons and Jim York.

Rusty Staub

January 22, 1969: Traded by the Houston Astros to the Montreal Expos for Jesus Alou and Donn Clendenon. Donn Clendenon refused to report to his new team on April 8, 1969. The Montreal Expos sent Jack Billingham (April 8, 1969), Skip Guinn (April 8, 1969) and $100,000 (April 8, 1969) to the Houston Astros to complete the trade.

April 5, 1972: Traded by the Montreal Expos to the New York Mets for Tim Foli, Mike Jorgensen and Ken Singleton.

Honorable Mention

The 2013 Houston Astros 

OWAR: 26.6     OWS: 218     OPW%: .427     (69-93)

AWAR: 8.3       AWS: 151      APW%: .315    (51-111)

WARdiff: 18.3                        WSdiff: 67

Following a transfer to the American League West prior to the start of the 2013 campaign, the “Original” Astros finished dead last in the division. Nonetheless it represents a WSdiff of 67 and 18 additional wins compared to the “Actual” Astros from the same season. Hunter Pence established career-highs with 27 round-trippers and 22 stolen bases. Ben Zobrist laced 36 doubles and earned his second All-Star nod. Chris Johnson produced personal-bests in batting average (.321) and two-base hits (34). Jason Castro drilled 35 two-baggers and posted a .276 BA. Jose Altuve batted .283 and pilfered 35 bags.

On Deck

What Might Have Been – The “Original” 1984 Giants

References and Resources

Baseball America – Executive Database

Baseball-Reference

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 “www.retrosheet.org”.

Seamheads – Baseball Gauge

Sean Lahman Baseball Archive



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Derek Bain is a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games. He has written a number of articles for Fangraphs and Seamheads, and enjoys spending quality time with his family.

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Ken Boswell was: June 8, 1965: Drafted by the New York Mets in the 4th round of the 1965 amateur draft.
He was traded to the Astros: October 29, 1974: Traded by the New York Mets to the Houston Astros for Bob Gallagher.
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bosweke01.shtml#trans

Since you have been doing this for some time now, I would like to ask your opinion of how many years it takes an expansion team to develop a complete team? I do not mean using players who were part-timers, or who pitched less than a full season, but a team comprised of mostly full-time players, or at least a platooned player, such as Ken Boswell was with the Mets in ’69. Which expansion team did it fastest, and what would you say the average number of seasons it took for an expansion team to be on par with the other teams?