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 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 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

LINEUP POS OWAR OWS LINEUP POS OWAR OWS
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
BENCH POS OWAR OWS BENCH POS OWAR OWS
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

ROTATION POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS AWAR AWS
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
BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS BULLPEN POS AWAR AWS
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

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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I was not familiar with this exercise until now; what entertainment! Upon reading this article the statement that popped into my head was “way to turn chicken salad into chicken s—, Gorman.”