Wednesday, December 8, 2010


 Is it science or nostalgia that drives the intense interest in historical simulations? Does the term "inextricably intertwined" ring a bell?
Batting leadoff for the "40s": Tommy Harper,
here shown playing out of position

Batting second: jack-of-all-trades 
Cesar Tovar
Like many with less time left on the bandstand than what’s already been played, I’m looking for some safer kicks than the ones that brought me to my knees. So returning to the time when baseball became a Daily Dose—the early 60s—made me think that constructing sim teams based around birth years in the 1940s might provide a congenial combination of nostalgia and science.

Batting third: Joe Torre, catching
(and maybe even managing)
So here we have the fixings for something that could be (and is...) called the Big Bad Baseball Birthyear Showdown. (We had another name for it about a decade ago, but it was a different concept and it kind of fizzled. But that, as they say, is another story...) Here, however, we can keep things more on the narrows.

While many of the players who dominate memories of the baseball 60s were born in the thirties, it somehow seemed more compelling to start with those who were born in the following decade. We can always go backward in time later.

Batting fourth: Willie Stargell
So herewith begins the Forties showdown—beginning with the players born in 1940. We can make solid teams for every year, then someone could toss ‘em into a simulation game and play the old 60s ten-team schedule (probably the most aesthetically pleasing  of them all) to see who's best.

We’ll just start calling these guys “the 40s.” (They’ll be followed by the “41s”, etc., all the way up to the "49s"--and don't call 'em the "49ers", please!!) Going by playing time and availability at positions as the criteria for the hitters, and by games started, saves, and ERA+ for the pitchers, here’s the roster. (There are a few more than 25 names here, and that’s on purpose. The names in parentheses are the backups.)

Batting fifth: Ron Santo

C—Joe Torre (Elrod Hendricks)
1B—Joe Pepitone (Danny Cater, Tommy McCraw)
2B—Glenn Beckert (Chico Salmon)
SS—Denis Menke (Gene Alley)
3B—Ron Santo
LF—Willie Stargell (Len Gabrielson)
CF—Willie Davis
RF—Tommy Harper (Roger Repoz, Bob Chance, Brant Alyea)
UT—Cesar Tovar

SP—Mickey Lolich, Luis Tiant, Jim Maloney, Bill Hands, Dick Ellsworth
RP—Jack Aker, Frank Linzy, Ramon Hernandez, Tom Timmerman
SW—Woodie Fryman

Batting sixth: Willie Davis
Batting seventh: Denis Menke
a 60's SS with some pop
This squad is pretty darned interesting. One big break is the presence of Cesar Tovar, who can pretty much play anywhere and be a solid #2 hitter in the lineup—meaning that you can rest other players or swap things around here and there for some platoon advantages. The rest of the bench is pretty weak, but depending on who you keep (I’d be going with Hendricks, Cater, Beckert, Salmon, Repoz, Chance and Alyea) you’d at least have some home run pop sitting around.


Batting eighth: Joe Pepitone (shown in his
NYC stickball, pre-hairpiece days)...
1. Harper rf
2. Tovar 2b
3. Torre c
4. Stargell lf
5. Santo 3b
6. Davis cf
7. Menke ss
8. Pepitone/Cater 1b

This is a solid little lineup, with a nice trio in the middle of the order and a shortstop (Menke) with some actual pop in his bat. The BBBA run estimator projects 765 runs out of this lineup, which isn’t too shabby by 1960s standards. This is a team that can utilize both speed and power as part of its offensive equation.

#1 in the rotation: Mickey Lolich,
King of the Wheels

The CCQ (clubhouse chemistry quotient) is low, however: Joe Pep, 3-Dog, Tommy (Mini-Me) Harper and the often dyspeptic Ron Santo are going to need to be policed by Pops Stargell and Joe Torre. Whoever manages this team (and one can surmise that it might be Torre) will need to keep a firm hand with Joe Pep, who could sulk with the best of ‘em…

#1a: El Tiante, never without a light
even if he'd been lit up...
The starting rotation for the “40s” is, again, very solid but not spectacular (consider, for example, that the “44s” will have Seaver and Carlton). The peak seasons of Lolich, Tiant and Maloney, if you could somehow get ‘em in sync, could make for some sweet summer music. The bullpen is a little bit on the “fickle” side, with one too many “peak” guys out there. Using Woodie Fryman out of the pen is the best way to go here, but some of that will depend on how well Dick Ellsworth holds up in the #5 rotation slot.

Other pitchers born in 1940 with more than 100 GS: Ray Sadecki, Tony Cloninger, Jim Hannan.

Other players born in 1940 with more than 1500 PA: Larry Brown, John Bateman, Paul Popovich, Tom Satriano, Jackie Hernandez, Ron Brand.