It's also the beginning of the baby boom--the post-war era's ongoing paean to fertility--and, as you might expect, the 46s have a surfeit of bodies. (Naturally, none of them quite measure up to Ava Gardner's, but a double-cross is far more damaging, base-out wise, than a mere double play. Consider The Killers, with more flashbacks than the number of hurlers on a post-modern pitching staff, to be the quintessential look at a "busted hit-and-run play".)
|Pete Seeger: not quite the "banjo hitter"|
we had in mind, but welcome nonetheless.
(Thanks to Tom Nawrocki for the image.)
Catchers--Gene Tenace, Joe Ferguson, Bill Sudakis, Johnny Oates
First basemen--Al Oliver, Bob Watson, Nate Colbert
Second basemen--Ken Boswell, Art Howe
Shortstop--Frank Duffy, Marty Perez
Third basemen--Billy Grabarkewitz, Bob Robertson
Outfielders--Bobby Bonds, Bobby Murcer, Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Ken Henderson, Willie Crawford
The players in bold are the ones we're gonna keep at the outset: we don't need to keep both banjo-hitting shortstops. Duffy is the better defender, so he stays and Billy Grabarkewitz can fill in as necessary. The biggest point of exposure for this team is the lack of a two-way player at third base: the 46s are gonna have to close their eyes and play Bob Robertson there, and replace him in mid-game a good bit with either Grabs, Art Howe or Bill Sudakis.
Tough choice for the last OF slot, too, but we'll go with Ken
Henderson due to two factors: switch-hitting, and the capability of playing CF.
I used to be skeptical about Bobby's birth year, but subsequent revelations about his drinking habits make it clear that his sudden decline at age 34 was probably a cumulative effect of that behavior. Bonds Sr. (as he's become known) was the prototype for the post-modern slugger, with a swing-from-the-heels style that produced record-setting strikeout totals.
|Gene Tenace hitting one of his four homers|
in the 1972 World Series
If anything, however, his pitch-taking skills might up his walk totals even further (if you take a look at the data we presented a few posts back about Jim Gilliam's stats when batting with Maury Wills in stolen base mode).
Exemplary baseball historians that y'all are, you probably know that two members of the 46s were traded for each other. It was a big deal at the time, the type that never happen any more. And it was two Bobbys--Bobby Bonds for Bobby Murcer.
I'll confess to having something of a soft spot for Murcer, though it's true that his pretense at being "the next Mickey Mantle" rests solely on his ability to hit at Yankee Stadium. (Over his career, Murcer hit 4.6 homers per 100 PA in the Bronx, just 2.7 per 100 PA elsewhere.) His peak years as a hitter (1971-73) were awfully good: his 160 OPS+ ranked him fourth behind Willie Stargell, Dick Allen, and Hank Aaron. He faded very early, and it's likely that the Yankees' move to Shea Stadium in 1974 in order to renovate the fabled but now-abandoned "House That Ruth Built" hastened his decline. Still, we'll bat him third on this squad in hopes that he'll catch some of that youthful lightning in a bottle.
|Two members of the 46s go head-to-head:|
Bob Watson and Joe Ferguson
|Al Oliver, professional hitter|
|Bob Robertson, 10/3/71:|
the day he hit three homers
in an NLCS game
The Pirates thought that Robertson would become the next Ralph Kiner: back and knee maladies would soon turn him into Ralph Kramden instead. (He literally looked twice as old in early '72, making only 12 hits in 107 ABs though mid-June.) Though he would recover his home run stroke to some extent, Robertson was never able to hit for a decent average again and quickly became a part-time player.
|For the life of me, I simply cannot recall Ken Boswell|
ever being able to get this high off the ground...
|Art Howe: right place, |
and this is where the 46s have to trust their man in charge--Art Howe, whose managerial career is a study in extreme contrasts. (That career also gives rise to the hope in every man that he might yet find himself, if only once, in the right place at the right time.) Howe will probably decide to be modest and create a platoon at second between himself and Ken Boswell. Of course, he might get greedy and try to take over the starting job at third base. (I don't think so: if he does, Reggie will crush his spleen.)
As noted above, Frank Duffy is the shortstop, a standard-issue 70s good field-no hit infielder who will not disgrace anyone--except, of course, those who remember that he was part of not one, but two of the very worst trades in the 1970s (the Giants inexplicably coveted Frank enough to part with George Foster; not satisfied with that move, they waited a year, then packaged Frank along with some guy named Gaylord Perry in order to acquire Sam McDowell).
In addition to the folks we've mentioned, there are three guys on the bench with some pop in their bats: Joe Rudi, who'd be starting on three or four other birth-year squads; Ken Henderson, a perfectly serviceable center fielder with decent power and good strike-zone judgment; and Joe Ferguson, Tenace's backup behind the plate and versatile enough to play first and the outfield.
Behind Fingers in the pen you have some crumbly-cheese characters: Pedro Borbon (a man with an alarmingly low K/9 rate: looking back at his stats, one has to wonder how the hell he did that for so many years), Skip Lockwood, Danny Frisella, and Dyar Miller. There are no lefties here, which could mean bullpen duty for Spaceman Lee.
|For this squad, Rollie may just want to lose the moustache and try to blend in...|
Perhaps Art Howe will want to call up Johnny Oates and let him take it on the chin as the manager. Looks like a case of wrong year, wrong birthyear showdown.