Sunday, August 7, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/107: FOUR MEN AND A CLOUD OF DUST...

Now for the Giants' side of the long, simmering August. After a long bout of mix-and-match, manager Al Dark was able to finally implement his original plan for a four-man starting rotation and those four (Juan Marichal, Billy Pierce, Jack Sanford and Billy O'Dell) gave him solid if not brilliant work during the month.

The Giants' bats stayed steady, buoyed by the strong month turned in by the previously struggling Orlando Cepeda, and they provided excellent run support during August, assisting Jack Sanford to a 6-0 mark. Pierce was better overall, with pinpoint control (5 walks in 50 2/3 IP): he went 5-1. All in all, the Giants recovered from their late July shellacking in Dodger Stadium and gained back a game and a half in the standings. 

On this day (August 7) Juan Marichal pitched his way out of several jams thanks to excellent control (no walks), scattering nine hits in out-finessing the Phillies' Art Mahaffey. SF put the game away with three runs in the sixth, keyed by Harvey Kuenn's homer leading off the inning; Cepeda previewed his strong month with a run-scoring double. Final score: Giants 4, Phillies 2.

DOWN in LA, Don Drysdale was a busy man fending off the upstart Mets, who took a 3-0 lead early in the game before the Dodgers chased Craig Anderson with four in the fourth, adding two more in the sixth to take a 6-3 lead (with the last two runs coming on Drysdale's triple, one of seven that Don hit during his career). The Mets kept coming, however, eventually amassing eleven hits off Drysdale, but Big D buckled down in the late innings, getting some help in the ninth from a base-running blunder by Felix Mantilla. Final score: Dodgers 7, Mets 5.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 77-37, SFG 72-41

Saturday, August 6, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/106: WOULD YOU BELIEVE...EIGHT PITCHERS?!

Johnny Podres, more important than ever to the Dodgers due to the ongoing absence of Sandy Koufax (three weeks and counting), did not flub his chance on August 6, 1962 when he drew an assignment against the New York Mets, who were still in search of their 30th win of the year.

But it was close: LA's batters had a devil of a time against Jay Hook, who'd come into the game with an ERA of 5.79. (Hook would have by far his best stretch of pitching in '62 during the five weeks between August 6 and September 8--a 2.40 ERA: despite this, he would go 1-5 and the Mets would lose seven of his eight starts during this time frame.) 

The Dodgers' first run came in on a double play ball (second inning), and their other run scored only because Mets' catcher Chris Cannizzaro bounced a throw when he had Maury Wills picked off second. Willie Davis then hit a bad-hop grounder to second that eluded ex-Dodger Charlie Neal to get what proved to be the winning run home. Final score: Dodgers 2, Mets 1.

(The Dodgers had a relatively high number of such low-scoring games at home in '62--a total of 23, third-highest in the league, despite a reasonably solid offense. It was a preview of what was coming in the wake of the impending strike zone change: from 1963-66, they would average just under 40 games at home where both teams totaled five runs or less, about 15 more per year than the Giants.)

But what stands out more to us today is the number of pitchers the Dodgers were employing. Teams today sometimes have fourteen pitchers on their roster at a time; during August 1962, the Dodgers used a total of eight pitchers. (That is not a misprint.) Pete Richert took Koufax' slot in the rotation, the relief troika kept burning the candle at both ends, and Phil Ortega brought gasoline with him to the mound. As the numbers (above right) indicate, it was Ron Perranoski's month.

AT Candlestick against SF did not have any trouble scoring runs, thanks to Willie Mays, who went 5-for-5, hit two homers and drove in five runs. Billy Pierce, recovered from his lingering injuries, kept the Philadelphia Phillies off balance, scattering six hits as he improved his season record to 10-3. Final score: Giants 9, Phillies 2.

SEASON RECORD: LAD 76-37, SFG 71-41

Friday, August 5, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/105: MORE STOIC, HEROIC RELIEF!

August 5, 1962 (a Sunday) marked the third time in as many months that Dodger manager Walt Alston gave Phil Ortega a start. He literally had no choice: with Sandy Koufax on the shelf with his finger injury, and with teenage monster Joe Moeller dispatched to Omaha, the Dodgers had only three starting pitchers (and some folks weren't so sure about Stan Williams, anyway.) 

Given all that, it made sense: the Dodgers were playing the Cubs, a team almost at the opposite end of the standings (40-69 as play got underway that day). Alston could be seen by the fans seated on the first base side of the field standing motionless at the near end of the Dodger dugout, flexing his right hand as he rotated it on the railing. 

Ortega retired the side in order in the first, but disaster seemed to loom up like a thunderhead in the second, when he loaded the bases with none out (two singles and his own throwing error). He managed to escape with only one run scoring, however, and trailed just 1-0. 

The Dodgers loaded the bases themselves in the the bottom of the third, but they did it with two outs, and Ron Fairly fouled out to squander that opportunity. Ernie Banks then took Ortega deep to lead off the fourth, but Phil regrouped and got through that inning and the fifth as well: the problem was that his mates weren't solving the Cubs' veteran starter Bob Buhl. Frank Howard and Johnny Roseboro finally got LA on the board in the bottom of the fifth, though, and Alston's grip on the railing finally relaxed. But he had a man warming up in the Dodger bullpen when Ortega took the mound in the sixth.

And a good thing it was, too, for Phil gave up a homer to the fierce lefty hitter George Altman, followed by a triple by Banks that hit the top of the right field wall. It was now 3-1 Cubs with none out in the sixth, and the sand had spilled out from Ortega's hourglass.

Ed Roebuck replaced him, and with a drawn-in infield, managed to get Ron Santo to hit the ball right at Maury Wills, who held Banks at third before recording the out at first. Then the Cubs gambled and lost when Frank Howard threw Banks out at home trying to score on André Rodgers' short fly to right field. Big Frank would get the Dodgers closer when he singled home Ron Fairly in the bottom of the sixth, but he returned the favor with Chicago by deciding that Johnny Roseboro's pop fly to short left was going to drop in for a hit. It didn't, and he was doubled off first.

The Cubs were blanked by Roebuck in the seventh, and Tommy Davis finally got the Dodgers even with a bases-loaded infield single in the bottom of the inning, chasing Buhl. Fairly had another bases-loaded chance, but his hard grounder to first was backhanded by Banks.

And then there was Larry Sherry, arriving on the mound for the Dodgers in the eighth, who then proceeded to throw seven scoreless innings in relief; he and two Cubs relievers--Barney Schultz and Dave Gerard--dodged a few threats, the most serious of which occurred in the bottom of the tenth, when Schultz induced pinch-hitter Duke Snider (remember him?) to hit into a 3-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out.

Finally, in the bottom of the fourteenth, Alston batted for Larry--not with his brother Norm, which never happened during their time together on the Dodgers, by the way--but with Tim Harkness, who singled. Then the chess moves: Wills bunted Harkness to second, the Cubs then walked Willie Davis intentionally.

Wh-a-a-t? An intentional walk to bring the NL RBI leader? That piece of unconventional strategy (hoping to repeat the "Snider scenario") prompty backfired when Tommy smacked Gerard's 0-1 pitch into right field, scoring Harkness with the winning run. Seven innings of heroism was rewarded after all. Final score: Dodgers 4, Cubs 3 (14 innings).

But there was--surprise!--a second game to play in LA that day, and the Dodgers had in fact brought up another pitcher from the minors: Pete Richert, last seen with LA in St. Louis in mid-May. Richert would make ten starts for the Dodgers down the stretch, pitching serviceably for them over that span (4-3, 3.43 ERA).

But the Dodgers were spent after their extra-inning win, and they were shut down by Don Cardwell, who allowed just three hits in a complete game victory. Ron Fairly's two-run homer off him in the seventh wasn't enough to get LA back in the game, for the Cubs had reached Richert for four hits and three runs in the sixth. Final score: Cubs 4, Dodgers 2 (second game).

IN San Francisco, Billy O'Dell outdueled Bob Friend and knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh as the Giants kept the Pirates heading in the opposite direction of first place. Final score: Giants 2, Pirates 1.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 75-37, SFG 70-41, CIN 64-46, PIT 63-47, STL 62-50, MIL 58-53, PHI 51-61, HOU 40-68, CHC 41-70, NYM 29-80

BATTING LEADERS: 

Batting Average Musial STL .357, Burgess PIT .357, T. Davis LAD .348, Robinson CIN .338, Aaron MIL .333, Clemente PIT .332, Altman CHC .324, Skinner PIT .323, Cepeda SFG .319

On-Base Percentage Ashburn NYM. 437, Musial STL .434, Dalrymple PHI .419, Robinson CIN .412, Fairly LAD .410, Skinner PIT .409, Burgess PIT .405, Altman CHC .400

Slugging Average Aaron MIL .619, Mays SFG .507, Howard LAD .599, Robinson CIN .589 Burgess PIT .556, Musial STL .546, Thomas NYM .544 T. Davis LAD .532

Home Runs Mays SFG 32, Aaron MIL, 29, Banks CHC 27, Thomas NYM 26, Mathews MIL 22, Coleman CIN 22, Adcock MIL 22, Robinson CIN 21, Cepeda SFG 21 Mejias HOU 21

Runs Batted In T. Davis LAD 112, Mays SFG 95, Aaron MIL 93, Robinson CIN 91, Cepeda SFG 80, Howard LAD 80, Boyer STL 75, White STL 74, Banks CHC 73, Thomas NYM 73

Runs Scored Wills LAD 96, Mays SFG 88, Robinson CIN 87, Aaron MIL 87, T. Davis LAD 83, W. Davis LAD 82, Callison PHI 74, Javier STL 74, Mathews MIL 74, Cepeda SFG 74, Pinson CIN 72

Doubles Robinson CIN 39, Mays SFG 26, Virdon PIT 2t5, Skinner PIT 25, Davenport SFG 23, Pinson CIN 22, White STL 21, Callison PHI 21

Triples W. Davis LAD 10, Virdon PIT 9, Wills LAD 8, T. Davis LAD 8, Ranew CHC 8, Williams CHC 8, Hubbs CHC 7, Mazeroski PIT 7, Fairly LAD 7, Hoak PIT 7, Spangler HOU 7

Thursday, August 4, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/104: JUST GOOD ENOUGH TO WIN...OVER & OVER AGAIN

Jack Sanford won 24 games for the San Francisco Giants in 1962, and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting. A number of those wins, however, were achieved via run support and not quality pitching. Consider this chart of the 1962 starting pitchers who had wins despite allowing four or more runs in the games the won (chart at right). 

Sanford is very close to the top of the group--one in which pitchers from the Dodgers are conspicuously absent. (Don Drysdale had four such games in 1962; Sandy Koufax had one.)

And the game of August 4, 1962 was one of those six games in which Sanford didn't pitch particularly well (7 IP, 10 H, 5 R, a Game Score of 40) but received a win because his team scored enough runs--as we'll see, just enough--to win. 

Sanford was hit hard in the second, allowing five hits and three runs as his opponents, the Pittsburgh Pirates, took a 3-1 lead. The Giants stole a run in the fourth that proved to be crucial to the game's outcome--or, should we say, Willie Mays stole it. After reaching on a single, Mays pulled one of his patented base-running coups: running on the pitch, he forced Bill Mazeroski to throw to first on Orlando Cepeda's grounder--but then he just kept on going to third, beating Jim Marshall's throw. Shortly thereafter, Pirates starter Harvey Haddix threw a wild pitch, and Mays scored. (In the sixth, however, Mays would be cut down trying to take the extra base, attempting to advance from first to third on Cepeda's single to left. The Giants still managed to take a 4-3 lead in that inning, however.)

But not for long, as Sanford allowed a two-run homer to Bob Skinner in the top of the seventh. When Jack left the game for a pinch-hitter, his team was trailing, 5-4--in order to receive a win, he'd need the Giants to score twice in the inning and never again relinquish the lead.

And that's just what they did: Harvey Kuenn singled in the go-ahead run, Bobby Bolin pitched two scoreless innings in relief, and Sanford got what the folks at Forman et fils call a "cheap win." Final score: Giants 6, Pirates 5.

DOWN in LA, Stan Williams, who'd been knocked out early three days earlier, made it through six fraught innings on short rest thanks to the Chicago Cubs' epic inability to hit with RISP on that evening (1-for-15). Willie Davis, moved up to the #2 slot for this game, homered, drove in two runs, and stole two bases as the primary catalyst for the Dodgers' offense. Ron Perranoski held off the Cubs in the final three innings to cement the win for Los Angeles. Final score: Dodgers 5, Cubs 3.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 74-36, SFG 69-41

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/103: FIVE...AND TWENTY

On August 3, 1962 (a Friday), Don Drysdale gave up four hits to the first five batters on the Chicago Cubs, and the Dodgers trailed 3-0 after the first half inning. 

The Dodgers quickly rallied against Cal Koonce (the woeful Cubs' most successful starter thus far in '62 and by the end of the third inning had taken a 4-3 lead. Drysdale allowed only five more hits (and no more run the rest of the way, and the Dodgers used the double steal in the fourth (including Maury Wills' steal of home) to chase Koonce and pad their lead.

Wills scored three times and stole two bases, bringing his season total to 54 (that's right, he would then steal 50 bases in the next 55 games to break Ty Cobb's record). Willie Davis had four hits and two RBIs. 

Drysdale's route-going performance was his 20th win of the year. His won-loss record at this point was 20-4. Final score: Dodgers 8, Cubs 3.

AT Candlestick, Juan Marichal had one more ineffective start for the Giants and was chased from the game in the fourth by the Pittsburgh Pirates after surrendering a two-run homer to journeyman outfielder Howie Goss (subbing for Roberto Clemente). Pirates rightyAl McBean was not sharp, surrendering seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, but the Giants could not produce with men in scoring position (0 for 5) and squandered several opportunities to get back into the game.

The Pirates amassed a total of 16 hits, with only Dick Groat among those in their starting lineup not having at least two hits. Roy Face picked up his 19th save for Pittsburgh. Final score: Pirates 5, Giants 3. (With the loss, the Giants fell behind the Dodgers by five games for the first time during the '62 season.)

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 73-36, SFG 68-41

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/102: THE RETURN OF BILLY THE KID + WALLS, NOT WILLS...

Before the "Billy the Kid" nickname was applied to Hall of Fame-worthy reliever Billy Wagner, there was another "little lefty" who was sometimes called that: Billy Pierce. One can make an argument for Pierce as a Hall of Famer, particularly if one is a devotée of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which suggests (somewhere between fancifully and daffily) that his career is essentially equivalent to Whitey Ford.

Though Pierce had a fine career--119 ERA+, 211 wins--that's a stretch (and we're not talking Willie McCovey when we say that...) but there can be no question but that the trade the Giants made with the White Sox during the 1961-62 season was one of their very best, and was a key element in bringing a pennant to San Francisco. Pierce would be unbeaten in Candlestick Park during 1962 (12-0) and his return from injuries that had sidelined him for much of July (just 6 IP) could not have been better timed for the Giants.

Returning against the Cubs, Pierce gave up a run in the first but then shut down Chicago until the ninth while the Giants--employing their right-handed platoon (sometimes referred to as "three stars and a cloud of dust") knocked out Dick Ellsworth in the fourth to take a 3-1 lead. They added a run in the bottom of the eighth on reserve infielder Ernie Bowman's suicide squeeze bunt (one of only 4 RBI that Bowman had all year). 

Pierce got wobbly in the ninth, allowing back-to-back homers to Billy Williams and ex-Giant André Rodgers, but Don Larsen (who'd also been part of the Giants-White Sox trade over the previous offseason) came in to get the final out. Final score: Giants 4, Cubs 3.

DOWN in LA, another lefty--Johnny Podres--survived a baptism of fire at the hands of Smoky Burgess (two homers and 3 RBI) and the Dodgers rallied from a 3-0 deficit with two runs in the sixth and three more in the seventh (Frank Howard's bases-loaded single snapped the tie). Maury Wills did not steal a base but Lee Walls did, which led to him scoring the tying run in that same seventh inning. (It was Walls' only stolen base of the year.) Final score: Dodgers 5, Pirates 3.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 72-36, SFG 68-40


Monday, August 1, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/101: STAN IS NOT THE MAN (AGAIN)

We search for a simple method to demonstrate the erratic year that Stan Williams had for the Dodgers in 1962...after dabbling with game scores and the standard deviation of TB/IP and a few others we'll just leave as unidentified flying objects, we finally decided on the standard deviation of BFP (batters faced) divided by the average of BFP. 

This is for starts only, of course. (Stan's 12 relief appearances--as opposed to two for Don Drysdale and one for Sandy Koufax and none at all for Johnny Podres--already speak to the fact that Dodger manager Walt Alston was working the margins with Stan for almost the entire year.)

So, STDEV of BFP values for the four major LA starters in '62 (lower is better): Drysdale 3.89, Podres 5.51, Koufax 6.37, Williams 8.11.

Then, dividing that by the average BFP per start (those values: Drysdale 31.3, Koufax 28.1, Podres 27.1, Williams 25.4) we get the deviation from average values (again, lower is better): Drysdale 12.4%, Podres 20.4%, Koufax 22.7%, Williams 31.8%.

Then we calculate the percentage of starts where the starter has less than 25 BFP (you can see that this method is clearly not applicable for use in 2022, can't you?), which returns the following values for our Dodger foursome; Drysdale 14.6%, Koufax 18.4%, Podres 27.3%, Williams 42.8% (!!).

And finally, you average the low BFP percentage with the deviation from average percentage, so that we wind up with the EOQ (that's the Erratic Outing Quotient): Drysdale 13.5%, Koufax 20.3%, Podres 23.9%, Williams 37.3%.

Did we say it was simple? Well, it is...sort of. Anyway, the final average shows that Williams in '62 was noticeably more erratic than his Dodger rotation-mates. (Almost twice as erratic, by this measure than Koufax or Podres, and nearly three times as erratic as Drysdale). 

And one of those erratic, down-the-tube performances reared up on August 1, 1962, when ten batters into the game, Alston concluded that Stan simplydidn't have it that night ('twas a Wednesday night). He only allowed two runs and five hits, but according to newspaper accounts, the Pirates (who were still in the middle of a "swoon away" from pennant contention) really crushed most of those hits. They hit .500 off Stan during his time in the game--not a figure that spells success...

They did the same thing, only worse, to Ed Roebuck in the third, scoring six times in the inning (though the three Dodger errors--two by Willie Davis--certainly didn't help). When the Dodgers came to bat in the bottom of the inning, they trailed 8-0. Bob Friend cruised home with the win for the Pirates. Final score: Pirates 9, Dodgers 1.

BUT the Giants failed to gain ground as their hitters went only 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position against the Cubs' Bob Buhl and Chicago's newly minted reliever Don Cardwell. George Altman's two-run homer off Billy O'Dell in the tenth gave the Cubs a lead they managed not to relinquish in the bottom of the inning. Final score: Cubs 3, Giants 2 (10 innings).

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 71-36, SFG 67-40

Sunday, July 31, 2022

W(H)ITHER THE RED SOX?

"Fanboy Joe Pee," who vented his spleen at his blog the other day about the Red Sox meltdown in July, managed to miss the truly interesting aspect of the story. Joe leans toward parroting the newfangled esoterica that he laps up from the Tango Love Pie™, so we weren't especially surprised that the oddball nugget buried--or should we say entombed--in his leaden lede stayed incognito.

And what is that nugget? Why it's the fact that the Red Sox going 8-19 (.296) in July after going 20-6 (.769) in June is one of the rarest occurrences in the entire history of major league baseball.

It turns out, in this instance, that the "why" of it is not hard to trace; thanks to ace researcher Tom Ruane (of Retrosheet fame), however, we know that you can count on the fingers of one hand the teams who have followed the exact sequence described above. 

The 2022 Red Sox have joined the following teams in having a searingly hot month followed by a hot mess of a month. Here they are, going backward in time:

--2006 Atlanta Braves (May: 18-11, .621; June: 6-21, .222)

--1987 Baltimore Orioles (May: 17-11, .607; June: 5-23, .179)

--1966 Cincinnati Reds (August: 18-12, .600; September: 7-17, .292)

--1933 Cleveland Indians (August, 19-11, .633; September, 7-12, .368)

And that, folks, is that. Only four other teams with a .600+ month followed by a -.400 month. While players' stats can fluctuate wildly from month-to-month, it turns out that team records just don't swing with the same, er, "swinginess." (Note, though, that the Sox' "swing" between months is a good bit more extreme than these teams...)

We hope that Tom will look at the opposite phenomenon at some point: the team with a really bad month that's followed by a really good month. Turns out that the 1987 O's are going to be on that list as well: after they went 5-23 in June, they followed that up with a 16-10 July (.615). On top of that, in September they plummeted back to 6-21 (.222)! As Jayson Stark would say if he were here (and who's to say he isn't?)--baseball!

One team that we know fits into the opposite variation: the 2001 Oakland A's (8-17 in April, 18-9 in May). Unlike the four teams who did the "good-bad" instead of the "bad-good," they wound up having an excellent season (102-60). The four "good-bad" teams all wound up around .500.

We'll use our semi-patented "GvB" method on the '22 Red Sox. (GvB is our shorthand for looking at quality of opposition, dualized into .500+ and <.500 teams. These can be rather fluid throughout the year, as some teams cross back and forth over the .500 mark, but as our dear old Dad used to say, you've got to take what you can get.

And what we get from the Red Sox' detailed GvB chart thus far for '22 (at right) is that they are playing a helluva lotta good teams this year. In fact, they've played the most of these (76 out of their first 103 games) than any other team in MLB this year. That's got to affect your overall winning percentage right there...

What will (eventually) leap out at you in the GvB breakout is that in June, the Sox finally got to play the lesser-lights on their schedule. They mopped the floor with those guys (12-2 in June). With veterans Rich Hill and Michael Wacha joining Nick Pivetta and Nathan Eovaldi, Boston's starting rotation had its best month since 2018 during June.

But Pivetta and Eovaldi backslid in July against tougher competition (24 of 27 games against good teams) and both Hill and Wacha landed on the DL for the entire month. The records of the starting pitchers in the two months tell the tale (dare we say...Starkly?): 16-4, 2.91 in June, 1-13, 7.09 in July.

The Red Sox actually did their best hitting of the '22 season in May; June was a downturn. But with the pitching going gangbusters against generally easier competition, that mattered not at all. In July, however, they stopped hitting as well (.238 BA, 3.4 runs/game). And Rafael Devers, their best hitter, was injured and missed 11 games.

As noted, the reasons why it happened make perfect sense. It's just odd (and very rare) that it happened in back-to-back months. (Cue Jayson again...)

What does it look like for the rest of the season? Let's just take it one month at a time. August will still have at least 17 and maybe up to 23 games where the Sox will face good teams. However, Devers and Hill and Wacha are due back soon--and that can't hurt. But the history of the other four teams who had this pattern suggests that they'll probably wind up as around a .500 team for the season. Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 30, 2022

HRs & RUNS/GAME, SLASH STAT COMPS BY LEAGUE, 2021-2022, JULY UPDATE

With a quick All-Star Break in process during the 1962 season, we have a two-day open slot on our hands, so we'll fill in with a comparison update on the differences in monthly offensive levels (2022 vs. 2021). Here is the updated chart, with June and July added. (You'll see these right away, as we've highlighted the text in baby blue...)

As you can see, the NL seems to have peaked in run scoring back in May, although they came close to the same R/G levels in June, and had their spike in HR/G that month. But in July, the league BA has regressed back to .240, SLG has fallen back below .400, and HR/G fell back about 17%.

In the AL, there has been a steady but modest increase across the board (save for a very slight downturn in HR/G this month that might not hold, since we are using data just through 7/29). 

Of course all measures (slash stats, HR/G and R/G) are mostly down  as compared with 2021. The exception is in the NL, where the spikes this May and June caused an uptick in run scoring this year as compared with the previous season. That has reversed itself rather dramatically in July.

Last September was a warm month, and offensive levels stayed elevated as compared to the usual dropoff. That phenomenon propped up R/G levels last year; we'll just have to see if there is a similar phenomeon in '22. As we always say: stay tuned.

Friday, July 29, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/100: SHOWDOWN IN LA, PART 3 + THE 40-RBI BARRIER (HONDO!)

It was, of course, John Wayne who played Hondo, but the strapping one-time fullback was dwarfed by the man who inherited his name--Frank Howard. If ballplayers of the time had shown a bit more genre flexibility in their movie watching, they'd have pinned an even appropriate nickname on the mammoth Howard: the Amazing Colossal Man.

At any rate, "Hondo" was at the center of the Dodgers' desecration of Billy O'Dell and the Giants in the final game of the three-day showdown at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, July 29, 1962. 

--He was in the conga line of Dodger hitters who put together seven hits and six runs off O'Dell (who lasted but two-thirds of an inning) and his third RBI knocked out Don Larsen in the second inning (after Larsen had also lasted just two-thirds of an inning). 

--He homered off Stu Miller in the seventh. 

--He had another RBI single in the eighth when the Dodgers added three more to the bloodletting they'd provided to four Giant pitchers. (Don Drysdale allowed only a solo homer to Willie Mays as he improved his season record to 19-4.) Final score: Dodgers 11, Giants 1.

Howard's five RBI put him high up on the all-time leader list for most RBI in a month: he totaled 41 RBI in July. This is not anywhere close to a record: Hack Wilson and Joe DiMaggio are the top men for this stat, having each driven in 53 runs in a month (Hack in August 1930, and Joe in August 1939). In that age of higher batting averages, there were more "RBI men" in the game generally, so there is a preponderance of players from before WWII who are high on the list. As you might expect, the incidence of the 40+ RBI in a month feat fell off sharply after WWII, as shown in our patented "time grid chart"™ at right. (You can pick out Frank's slot on the grid because we've colored in the square in something akin to Dodger blue.)

As you can see, 40+ RBI in a month has become an extremely scarce feat since Frank accomplished it in 1962; it was 23 years before anyone did it again (Don Mattingly, in September 1985). The last hitter to do it was Troy Tulowitzki in September 2010.

But there's another way to measure this that will show us just how impressive Howard's achievement in July 1962 really was. (It will also give the lie to some of the lingering neo-sabe bias against the RBI stat, which we'll explain shortly.)

When we measure monthly RBI totals and calculate a RBI/G stat for them--and then apply them to the most RBI in a month leader board, so it's sorted by RBI/G, we find out that Frank Howard's RBI skein in July 1962 ranks fourth all time. Howard's 41 RBI in that month came about in just 26 games played (a low total because  there were two All-Star games--and thus two All-Star breaks--in July 1962). That works out to an average of 1.58 RBI/G, which trails only Wilson, DiMaggio and Rudy York (in August 1937)--all of whom, of course, who pulled off this feat during the higher-scoring 1930s.

Note also the high batting averages achieved by most of these guys. "RBI guys" are usually thought of in seasonal terms, and it is quite possible to drive in 100+ runs while hitting for a low average--particularly in a time like the present, when low-average sluggers can pretty much found on any street corner. That creates a lingering, not-so-latent bias against RBI guys, since they are not necessarily "the best hitters." To push back a bit on that, we included the monthly RBI/G leaders' OPS+ as part of the output--and note that everyone has an OPS+ figure in excess of 200 for the month. All of these boys were raking--even Pie Traynor, the lone man on this totem pole in terms of homers. But what a month...hitting .460! This is peak performance across the board: no one here had a gimmicky path to a high RBI count.

Of course, given "Hondo's" excessive size (6'7", 255 lbs.) it's not surprising to see him on a list with some of the biggest hitters of all time. When we teased this info previously, we suggested that it was a preview of the deadly slugger Howard would become later in the decade when he was with the second coming of the Washington Senators. In some ways, it's actually more impressive--and it certainly was a boon for the '62 Dodgers, who rode Howard's bat to a 20-6 record in July.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 71-35, SFG 67-39

Thursday, July 28, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/99: SHOWDOWN IN L.A., PART 2

The starting pitchers in game two of the Giants/Dodgers' late July showdown were not so sharp on this evening (July 28, a Saturday, with 49,228 in attendance). Jack Sanford only made it through 3 1/3 innings when the Dodgers slapped five straight hits off him in the bottom of the fourth; Stan Williams, still erratic, was driven from the mound in the top of the fifth after surrendering the lead on an RBI single from Orlando Cepeda. Ed Roebuck came in to stem the tide, holding the score at 4-3 in favor of the Giants.

In the bottom of the fifth, however, the Dodgers lowered the boom. Though the Giants were clearly known for being the power-hitting team in the NL, the Dodgers were not exactly bereft of power in '62, and overall had the second-best offense in the league. They featured their long-ball bats in this inning, with homers from Tommy Davis and Frank Howard accounting for three of the for runs they scored, retaking the lead, 7-4.

The Dodgers added another run in the sixth off bonus baby Bob Garibaldi, while Roebuck cruised into the eighth before surrendering a homer to Tom Haller.  He got in more trouble in the top of the ninth--and only Willie Mays' GIDP kept the Dodgers from disaster. A walk to Harvey Kuenn, a single by Cepeda, and a double by Felipe Alou brought in another run and meant that the next batter the Giants brought to the plate represented the go-ahead run.

Walt Alston brought in Ron Perranoski to pitch to Haller. Al Dark countered by sending up 35-year-old Bob Nieman, a long-time AL outfielder who been acquired from the Indians earlier in the year and was now serving as the Giants' pinch-hitting specialist. (Nieman is one of the best hitters you've never heard of, with a lifetime 132 OPS+...check out his career at baseball-reference.

It dldn't take long: Nieman swung at Perranoski's first delivery and hit a hard grounder--right at third baseman Daryl Spencer, who threw to first to end the game. Roebuck's lengthy relief stint had not quite been heroic, but it had been good enough enough to get the job done--with a major boost from the Dodgers' oft-maligned bats. Final score: Dodgers 8, Giants 6.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 70-35, SFG 67-38

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/98: SHOWDOWN IN LA, PART 1

The Dodgers and Giants both had July 26th off in '62, so they could travel back to Los Angeles for a three-game weekend series at Dodger Stadium. 

The only game of any consequence relative to the NL standings on the 26th was played in Cincinnati, where the Reds completed a four-game sweep of the Pirates with a 5-3 win. Spot starter Johnny Klippstein pitched creditably into the eighth inning for the Reds; Bill Henry picked up him and notched his eighth save of the year. Jerry Lynch (#7) and Gordy Coleman (#20) each had two-run homers for Cincy.

THE next day--or, should we say, on this day sixty years ago--a pivotal series got underway in LA with Johnny Podres starting for the Dodgers and Juan Marichal for the Giants. The Dodgers got everything they needed in the second inning, when Frank Howard hit a three-run homer (#18), scoring Tommy Davis and Ron Fairly ahead of him.

Podres made it stand up, going the distance and allowing just five hits and one unearned run; he also struck out six. The win evened his season record at 7-7. Final score: Dodgers 3, Giants 1.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 69-35, SFG 67-37, PIT 61-42, CIN 58-42

Monday, July 25, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/97: DON'T GET TOO CLOSE!

 Oddly enough, the San Francisco Giants did not fare especially well in close games against bad teams (defined as those with less than a .500 WPCT) during the 1962 season. All teams (counting both the AL and the NL, and including bad teams with the good teams) had a .567 WPCT against bad teams in close games (defined as games decided by two runs or less).

But in the '62 NL, those numbers were significantly different. Why is this? Because there were only three bad teams in the league that year--the two first-year expansion clubs and the Chicago Cubs. These were all in the "very bad" category of such teams--not the 79-83 teams or even the 70-92 teams, but teams that either came close to 100 losses or exceeded it. (Remember the quiz about how many years are there where two or more teams in the same league lose 100+ games? We still haven't done the research on that, but one of those incidences can be found in the 1962 NL.)

So the NL totals have less games than the AL (fewer bad teams, few games against bad teams...) and because of that concentration of badness, the good teams tend to do better--in some cases a lot better. (And then again a team like the '62 Phillies, technically a "good team" at 81-80, is able to win a lot of games--and in this case, a lot of close games--against the bad teams and skew the numbers a bit.)

Skew or not, the NL played .623 baseball against bad teams in close games (157-95). The Giants (to get back to where we once belonged...) played only .542 ball in those games against those kind of teams (13-11, as you can see in the table at right). The Dodgers by contrast, played .783 ball in such games (18-5).

Of course, in games where the score was decided by three runs or more, the Giants did quite well (24-6). But so did the Dodgers (24-7). The league's record against bad teams in non-close games was .704--again, higher than usual because of the smaller quantity but greater concentration of bad teams in the league.

Overall against bad teams, the Dodgers were 42-12, the Giants 37-17. That doesn't look like so much of a difference--but note that it's the close games where all of the difference lies. The Dodgers beat their Pythagorean Win Percentage (PWP) by five games because they won those extra close games; the Giants hit their PWP pretty much on the mark...because they did not. 

ON this night in Houston, though, the Giants pulled out a close one against the Colts, and their starting pitcher Billy O'Dell made a subtle difference that gave them the margin of victory. After the two teams had traded runs in the first, O'Dell came to the plate in the top of the second with two out and Felipe Alou on first. Houston starter Jim Golden threw a high strike that Billy tomahawked past him up the middle and through into center field, moving Alou to second. Chuck Hiller followed with another single that scored Alou, a run that more often that not in such a situation just doesn't come to pass (because pitchers are much weaker hitters than position players...so weak, in fact...hmm, let's just leave that where it lays, shall we?). 

The extra run made it all happen because the teams would then trade single runs again later in the game (Alou tripled and scored on Tom Haller's base hit; Stu Miller, pitching in the eighth after Don Larsen had bailed out O'Dell in the previous frame, served up a homer to Bob Aspromonte). But Stu settled down from there, bringing home the often-elusive close win over the downtrodden. Final score: Giants 3, Colts 2.

IN St. Louis, Don Drysdale had a shutout going until Stan Musial (hitting .350 on the year at age 41) hit a two-run homer in the sixth, tying the game at 2-2; but LA knocked Ray Washburn out of the game with three straight hits in the top of the seventh, scoring two runs (one of them on Tommy Davis' 103rd RBI). And Maury Wills hit his 6th (and last) homer of the season in the ninth off a clearly frazzled Don Ferrarese (a lefty nicknamed "Midget" who was shorter than Dick Littlefield but traded almost as often). Drysdale's record improved to 18-4 as he went seven innings, bailed out by the law firm of Perranoski and Roebuck. Final score: Dodgers 5, Cards 2.

AT Crosley Field, the Pirates got two homers from catcher Smoky Burgess (who was, in fact, shorter than Ferrarese the midget) but their pitching meltdown continued as Cincinnati pounded out 21 hits (4-for-4 from Frank Robinson), making the Bucs walk the plank for the third straight game. Final score: Reds 13, Pirates 6.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 68-35, SFG 67-36, PIT 60-40, CIN 57-41

Sunday, July 24, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/96: WILLIE'S TIME

Not directly relevant to the events of July 24, 1962, but Charles Einstein's Willie's Time, first published in 1979, puts Willie Mays' career (and many significant snippets of his personal life) into the perspective of the five presidents whose terms in office coincide with his place as a centerpiece of major league baseball from 1951 to 1973. (We will leave it to you to name those five presidents...) 

The portions dealing with the Giants in the 60s are especially cogent, particularly with respect to the Civil Rights movement (and Willie's oblique relationship to all of that). Highly recommended...

WE pick up in Cincinnati again, where the Pirates' Earl Francis melts down in the second inning, receiving a quick hook from Danny Murtaugh in hopes of staying in the game (3-0 Reds at this point). But Dick Groat's error in the sixth paves the way for two unearned runs to score and Cincy holds on for a 6-4 win. Eddie Kasko has three RBI for the Reds.

BACK to Willie: he and the Giants are still in Houston, and it's a good pitching matchup--Jack Sanford vs. Turk Farrell. But this is one of those games where Mays takes charge of things, even in cavernous Colt Stadium: he hits two solo homers (numbers 30 and 31) off Farrell, which is just enough for the Giants to take down the offensively-challenged Colts. Sanford and Don Larsen combine on a five-hitter, with Mister World Series Perfect Game especially sharp, fanning four in 2 1/3 innings. Final score: Giants 3, Colts 1.

That two-homer-in-a-game thing struck our fancy, though, so we looked up just how many two-homer games that Mays had in his career. That number is, oddly enough, Ruthian (60). So then we decided to look up the same information for the two other "inner circle" Hall of Fame slugging outfielders whose careers intersected with Willie: Hank Aaron (a Maris-like 61 two-homer games) and Frank Robinson (53...which, one supposes, is Pete Alonzo-like).

As always, we went further, and captured the two-homer games on a year-by-year basis (in the table above), highlighting the years where these mega-stars had 6 or more such games in a season. (Note: we aren't capturing any three or four-homer games here.) We highlighted the years in which these three won their MVP awards by showing the two-homer totals for those years in red type. Only one MVP award--Frank Robby, in 1966--has a lot of two-homer action in it. 

IN St. Louis, Ernie Broglio outdueled Stan Williams, with Broglio himself scoring the winning run in the game when he reached base in the sixth inning on a throwing error by Johnny Roseboro and then was brought home by Curt Flood's opposite-field double. Final score: Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 67-35, SFG 66-36, PIT 60-39, CIN 56-41, STL 56-44

Saturday, July 23, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/95: ACTION IN THE CENTRAL TIME ZONE

We will add some coverage of the Pirates to our ongoing tale, at least for a bit, so that we can trace the tracks of their tears as they fade from the pennant race. As Pittsburgh hit the skids, the Cincinnati Reds re-emerge over the second half to move within striking distance of the Dodgers and Giants--and a pivotal part of that process can be found in the four-game Pirates-Reds series from 7/23-7/26 (which Cincy swept). As we'll see, the Reds wound up dominating that particular season series...we display them below in the three home-and-home segments that occurred in 1962, with the win-loss summaries shown from the Pirates' perspective:

5/11-5/12-5/13 PIT@CIN: 0-3; 5/18-5/20 CIN@PIT 1-1

6/18(2)-6/19-6/20 CIN@PIT 1-3; 7/23-7/24-7/25-7/26 PIT@CIN 0-4

9/18-9/19-9/20 CIN@PIT 2-1; 9/25-9/26 PIT@CIN 1-1

When you add up the figures in bold, you'll see that the Pirates had a 5-13 record against the Reds in '62, the worst performance versus any opponent for that year. (They were 7-11 against the Giants, and 8-10 against the Dodgers.) That eight-game swing within this season series captures most of the difference in the two teams' final season records (Reds 98-64; Pirates 93-68).

On this day (July 23, 1962--a Monday), the Reds' Jim O'Toole, in the beginning stages of a second-half resurgence (8-4, 2.98 ERA) simply shuts down the Pirates, tossing a one-hit shutout. (He has a no-hitter into the eighth inning, until Bob Skinner reaches him for a one-out double.) Final score: Reds 3, Pirates 0. 

DOWN in Houston, Bobby Bolin is not quite so dominant as O'Toole, but he still tosses a strong game at the reeling Houston Colts (this is the month where the first-year expansion team goes 5-24). Bolin improves his season record to 6-0, allowing only an unearned run when Willie Mays uncharacteristically makes an errant throw attempting to throw out Joey Amalfitano at third base on the Colt second baseman's extra-base knock. The ball skips away from all of the nearby Giants, allowing Amalfitano to score. (It was only the third error committed by Mays during the '62 season.)

The Giants were leading 4-0 at the time, and Mays would get that run back in the seventh, hitting his 29th homer. Final score: Giants 5, Colts 1.

IN St. Louis, the Dodgers scored three in the second (two on another homer from Frank Howard, still red hot) and five more in the fourth (three on a homer by Maury Wills, who later said it was easily the longest ball he'd ever hit) en route to a laugher against the Cardinals. Johnny Podres scattered nine hits and walked no one, going the distance to improve his season record to 6-7. Final score: Dodgers 9, Cardinals 2.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 67-34, SFG 65-36, PIT 60-38, CIN 55-41

Friday, July 22, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/94: THE REIGN OF RUNS IN CHICAGO

Threatening skies in Chicago on Sunday, July 22, 1962 finally unleashed a torrent at Wrigley Field, but it was two innings too late for the Cubs. When the game was called at 4:15pm CDT, it was the bottom of the seventh, which made it official in the record books. Three of the five Chicago pitchers who took the mound that day were slapped and slugged all over the park by the Dodgers, led by Willie Davis, who scored three times and drove in four runs with his two triples (which were hit in consecutive innings, the first off starting pitcher and loser Don Cardwell, in the first; the second, off reliever Al Lary, in the second).

LA scored five in the first, two in the second and three in the third, but teenage monster Joe Moeller barely made it into the fourth inning after surrendering a healthy chunk of the lead thanks to a four-run Cub rally in the third (Ernie Banks' 24th homer, a three-run shot, being the big blow). Despite the absence of Sandy Koufax, this was Moeller's final appearance for the Dodgers in 1962; he would soon be replaced in the starting rotation by Pete Richert, recalled from Spokane after LA used the second All-Star break at the end of July to temporarily employ a three-man starting rotation.

The Dodgers banged out fifteen hits, including homers from Frank Howard and the otherwise very sinkable Larry Burright (his fourth and final homer as a Dodger: his two hits in as many days in Chicago had snapped an 8-for-92 stretch at the plate that, if nothing else, proved that manager Walt Alston was an inordinately patient man). Final score: Dodgers 13, Cubs 6 (called after 6 1/2 innings due to rain).

IN PITTSBURGH, the Pirates began a quick descent that would see them lose thirteen of their next sixteen games when Harvey Haddix allowed four homers to the Giants, providing Juan Marichal with just enough margin to burrow his way through to a complete game win. One of the four homers came from Willie Mays (his 28th); the last of them came from Jose Pagan (his fourth), prompting Pirate manager Danny Murtaugh to give Haddix the rest of the day off. 

The Pirates' pitchers would quickly become much too hittable, and that can be seen in the stats covering the stretch of nineteen games that began on July 20 and concluded on August 10, in which they were 4-15. Compare this to our earlier chart of the pitchers during the Pirates' 30-10 performance during June and July, and you'll see that their finesse pitcher starting rotation came undone simultaneously.

The Pirates would run into the Cincinnati Reds next, and would drop four straight to the '61 pennant winners, who (as noted before) would have the best second-half record in the NL during '62--only they began their charge about a week and a half too late to factor into the pennant race. 

Marichal surrendered a two-run homer to Dick Stuart in the sixth, but held on for his 13th win. Final score: Giants 5, Pirates 4.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 66-34, SFG 64-36, PIT 60-37

Thursday, July 21, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/93: THE APEX OF "HEROIC RELIEF" IS ALL FOR NAUGHT...

Stu Miller has taken something of a beating in these pages, both from us and from the opponents he faced during the 1962 season (a clear off-year for him, particularly in comparison with his superb work in the previous season, in which he led the NL in saves and had a 14-5 record). But on this day in 1962 (a Saturday), Miller was above and beyond in a way that was rare then (and virtually non-existent now).

Just what are we talking about? You've heard us prattle on about HLRAs here from time to time--the "heroic lengthy relief appearance." The definition of a HLRA (pronounced "hell-ra") is a bit fluid: just what is lengthy, anyway? For our purposes, we've defined it as at least four innings--if only to ensure that such outings will be highly scarce in the present day.

"Heroic" implies more, however. It involves pitching really well as well as eating up a sizable number of innings. For our purpose, a HLRA means throwing 4+ relief IP and allowing no more than one run. In 1962, this occurred 234 times in MLB (118 in the NL, 116 in the AL). By contrast, there were 68 such games in MLB during 2021 (22 in the NL, 46 in the AL). Put another way, there were about 11 such games per team in 1962; in 2021, there were just over two per team.

The seriously heroic games, of course, involve far more than four innings. And Stu Miller's seven scoreless innings of relief for the Giants on July 21, 1962, taking over after starter Billy O'Dell was chased with no out in the third, was much rarer even then. We've chosen six innings as the line of demarcation for "heroic ultra-lengthy relief appearances." There were only 44 such games that year, 22 in each league. 

You can see the NL games in the table at right: they're sorted by team, so scroll your eyes down till you find Miller, the only Giants pitcher to have such a game in 1962. As you can see by examining the info provided, Miller tossed seven scoreless innings from the third to the ninth in a game that the Giants eventually lost 7-6, in 11 innings. 

What's interesting about this set of games is the "heroism" displayed in them often produced a win for the pitcher's team. One game on this list (the 4/25/62 game between the Cardinals and the Colts) ended in a tie; of the other 21, the team with the HULRA ("heroic ultra-lengthy relief appearance") had a 16-5 record. The relievers on the list who earned a decision for these outings had a perfect 15-0 record. (In 2021, there were only seven such games--and several of these were games where starting pitchers were being used in conjunction with an "opener"...a concept that didn't exist in 1962. Out of the 20 pitchers on the 1962 list, only four of them could be classified as starting pitchers.)

The level of involvement in such games in the '62 NL is hardly even--the Phillies had five such outings (two each from Jack Baldschun and Dallas Green). They also had it happen against them four times, so they were involved in nearly 40% of such games during this season.

Clearly pitcher usage was much different in those days than it is in 2022; it's much rarer for relievers to go more than a single inning now. How much rarer now than in 1962? Back then relievers went more than an inning in 52% of their appearances; in 2021, that figure was just 22%.

In a disappointing season for Miller (5-9 won-loss record, only 14 saves), it is sadly fitting that his best performance of the year was for naught. In the eleventh, with one out, a man on first, and the game tied 6-6, Al Dark went by the book and brought in lefty Billy Pierce to face lefty-swinging catcher Smoky Burgess, but Smoky smacked a single to center, sending the runner to third. After Dark had Pierce walk Bill Mazeroski intentionally, a third Giant reliever, Bobby Bolin was brought in. Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh sent up lefty pinch-hitter Jim Marshall, who singled in the winning run. The Bucs had not stopped winning just yet...though they were about to. Final score: Pirates 7, Giants 6 (11 innings).

IN Chicago, Don Drysdale allowed a first inning homer to Lou Brock (remember, he's still on the Cubs in '62) but nothing else after that as the Dodgers bunched together three run-scoring singles in the fourth and hung on to win a rare low-scoring game in Wrigley Field (the second highest park in terms of run scoring in the 1962 NL, behind only the Polo Grounds). Final score: Dodgers 3, Cubs 1.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 65-34, SF 63-36, PIT 60-36

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/92: DODGERS CRUISE, GIANTS BRUISE AS PIRATES GET READY TO PIVOT

At Wrigley Field, that hellhole of a paradise that was still famously without lights on July 20, 1962, the Dodgers erased a 2-0 deficit with eight unanswered runs in the middle innings to beat the still-lowly Cubs (now comfortably numb in ninth place). Though some of this was due to the ten-team, one division set-up during the first years of expansion, the Cubs would become one of the very few teams in baseball history to lose 100+ games and not finish in last place. (Can you name the others without looking it up? Neither can we...)

Tommy Davis hit the century mark in RBI with four more for LA. Tommy would reach the fabled number of 153--kind of a talismanic number in the formless minds of some, given its inversion of the core group of odd numbers. Odder still is the fact that Tommy had the highest RBI season ever for a player who never drove in 100 runs ever again during his career. (It's also likely that the gap between his best RBI year and his second best RBI year--64--is the highest in baseball history--but we haven't verified that for you. Fact-checkers, get busy!)

Stan Williams continued to bend, not break in July, and recovered from a shaky first inning to pitch solidly before going wild in the eighth. Ed Roebuck bailed him out. Final score: Dodgers 8, Cubs 2.

OVER in Pittsburgh, the Giants locked horns with the Pirates just as the 1960 World Champs were peaking, having won 30 of their last 40 games despite a rag-tag offense. Soon to become known as a team dominated by its batters, the Pirates in the early 60s were developing a second tier of highly promising pitchers to complement their "big three" of Bob Friend, Vern Law and Harvey Haddix. Three pitchers in particular--lefty Joe Gibbon and righties Earl Francis and Al McBean--seemed to have the right stuff to give the Bucs one of the deepest rotations around. And so they did--for 45 days in the late spring/early summer of 1962, when the Pirates found a soft seam in the schedule and soared up to meet the top two teams in the NL.

But even the stats in these 40 games (as shown in the table at right) indicate to us now that these Pirate pitchers were likely not to be the ticket to domination in the 60s National League. Look at the H/9 ratios for most of these pitchers and you'll see too much finesse and too little power (particularly at a time when power pitching would soon get a boost from the strike zone change). 

Gibbon, the most promising of the three newcomers, hurt his arm in 1962 during spring training and tried to pitch through it, causing him to miss much of the year and suffer a career plateau that forced him into the bullpen, where he would turn in a creditable career. Francis would sustain an arm injury early in 1963 that caused him to alter his motion and sent his career into a slow but irrevocable tailspin. McBean would quickly demonstrate that the rigors of starting pitching would periodically deplete him, leaving him vulnerable to an uncomfortably high percentage of games where he was just too hittable. He'd be moved to the bullpen in 1963, where he'd fashion a highly successful career over the next five years (38-19, 138 ERA+) before suddenly fading out once he turned thirty.

In a future post, we'll show you what happened to these guys (and to the other members of the pitching staff) as the Pirates returned to playing the better teams in the league.

On this night at Forbes Field, the Giants polished off Vern Law via the long ball--homers from Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, and built a 4-0 lead after three innings. Jack Sanford was not pitching all that well for SF, however, putting too many men on base, surviving thanks to two double plays turned behind him and poor hitting with RISP by the Pirates. Don Larsen would bail him out in the seventh, preventing the tying run from coming across the plate. 

In the eighth, Dr. Strangeglove (the enigmatic, inimitable Dick Stuart) made his 16th error of the year at first base, which led to two unearned runs for the Giants. Stuart's off-year (.228, 16 HRs after hitting 35 the year before) and his ongoing defensive antics would soon cause him to be benched during the Pirates' upcoming "fall from grace" and he'd be traded to the Red Sox over the off-season, where he'd make even more errors at first, but at least hit more homers. Final score: Giants 6, Pirates 3.

SEASON RECORDS: LA 64-34, SFG 63-35, PIT 59-36

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/91: THE RACE TIGHTENS AGAIN, AND...FOOTSTEPS FROM BEHIND...

After their roller-coaster come-from-behind and nearly-blown win the night before, the Dodgers managed to give one away on July 19, 1962. Two guys named Johnny--Podres for the Dodgers, Klippstein for the Reds--battled in a tight pitchers' duel.

Frank Howard's second-inning homer gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead, which Podres held until the sixth, when Wally Post doubled in the tying run. LA went back in front in the top of the eighth on Podres' infield single (set up by a pinch hit from Duke Snider, a man conspicuous in his absence over the past couple of months). But an error by Ron Fairly allowed the Reds to score an unearned run in the bottom of the inning.

The Dodgers reclaimed the lead in the top of the ninth on Johnny Roseboro's single, and it looked as though veteran lefty reliever Bill Henry might have given the game away. Podres walked the first man he faced in the bottom of the ninth, however, and Walt Alston quickly brought in Ron Perranoski. After the play-for-a-tie play option (sacrifice bunt) was utilized by Fred Hutchinson, the Dodgers' ace lefty retired Joe Gaines for the second out of the inning. 

But ex-Dodger Don Zimmer, recently rescued from the Mets--after hitting 4-for-52 with them to start the '62 season--had come into the game an inning earlier as a defensive replacement. He slapped a single to left to tie the game. And Eddie Kasko hit a 1-0 pitch over the head of Frank Howard in right, which one-hopped the wall and stopped dead at the bottom of the fence. By the time Big Frank got to the ball, Zimmer was rounding third and he scored easily. Final score: Reds 4, Dodgers 3.

IN Milwaukee, the Giants rallied from a 3-1 deficit to knock Denny Lemaster out of the game and then proceeded to rough up Carl Willey as well. Bobby Bolin had a HLRA (you remember: "heroic lengthy relief appearance") for the Giants, tossing five scoreless innings in relief to improve his season record to 5-0. Jose Pagan had three RBI for SF as they moved to within one game of the Dodgers. Final score: Giants 7, Braves 3.

But there were other footsteps in the pennant race that day. The Pittsburgh Pirates swept a doubleheader from the New York Mets by scores of 5-1 and 7-6 to move within 2 1/2 games of first place. Since June 10, the Bucs had gone 30-10 to gain 6 1/2 games in the standings. During that time frame, Roberto Clemente had hit .425 with 31 RBI; Bob Skinner, in the midst of his best-ever season for the Pirates, hit .372 during this stretch. The Pirates were beating up the lesser lights in the NL during this time frame, however--the Mets, the Colts, the Cubs, and the Phillies; they would start playing the Giants and Dodgers again over the next ten days...

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 63-34, SFG 62-35, PIT 59-35, STL 53-41, CIN 50-41, MIL 46-48, PHI 44-51, HOU 34-58, CHC 35-61, NYM 24-66

Monday, July 18, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/90: A BUZZ-SHAW FOR SF...LA LANDS A LUCKY HAMMER ON O'TOOLE

Bob Shaw's meandering career had many ups and downs--he was occasionally an ace (down the stretch in 1959 for the White Sox), but more often an enigmatic, Jekyll-and-Hyde type of pitcher who was sometimes simply too hittable for his own good. His season for the Braves in 1962 combined both of these tendencies, and proved that starting pitchers are individualistic enough that their success patterns need to be more carefully examined by baseball insiders. 

Shaw's QMAX chart shows the bifurcated nature of his work in '62--we've emphasized the performance gaps based on the bi-directional performance matrix. As you go down the rows, you see hit prevention shift from strength/dominance to vulnerability/weakness. Shaw's '62 season is almost equally split between these performance extremes, and it appears that attempts to use him as a workhorse (with longer outings and fewer days rest) had a negative effect on his ability to sustain his effectiveness across an entire season. 

Instead of looking for ways to protect his performance level by giving him extra days off or curtailing his innings per start, the Braves decided to make him a relief pitcher the next season, which only served to make his performance even more erratic. He would be traded to the Giants in 1964, and they would keep him in the bullpen that year, with similar results. The following year they returned him to the starting rotation, and with more attention paid to his workload, Shaw had his last solid year.

On this night (July 18, 1962), Shaw was at his best, snapping a personal five-game losing streak with a brilliant two-hit shutout. Never a big strikeout artist, Shaw fanned five and walked two in completely shutting down the Giants. (His QMAX score in this game: 1, 1--the top box at the far left.) Juan Marichal, still mired in his mid-season slump, surrendered a two-run homer to Lee Maye in the first, and was touched for three more runs in the third. (The loss dropped his season mark to 12-6. His QMAX score for this game: 7, 4.) Final score: Braves 6, Giants 0.

IN Cincinnati, the Dodgers were being similarly baffled by Jim O'Toole through seven innings, managing just two hits off the Reds' lefty. In the bottom of the seventh, Gordy Coleman hit his second homer of the game off Don Drysadale, a two-run shot that gave the Reds a 3-0 lead. The Dodgers finally bunched two hits and a walk off O'Toole in the eighth to score a run, but they trailed 3-1 with two out in the top of the ninth when Tommy Davis hit a grounder to shortstop Roy McMillan, who bobbled it. Frank Howard then came to the plate and hit O'Toole's first pitch for a mammoth opposite-field homer to tie the game.

Then Larry Sherry made things "interesting" for the Dodgers. In the bottom of the ninth, he hit two batters in a row to put the potential game-winning run into scoring position, but got out of it when Coleman lined into a double play. In the tenth, he was helped out by ex-Dodger Don Zimmer, who stumbled while running on a 3-2 pitch and was thrown out at second to end the inning.

In the top of the eleventh, O'Toole (still in there!) hit Willie Davis with one out. Willie stole second, and then came home on Tommy Davis' RBI single. Fred Hutchinson then replaced O'Toole with Jim Brosnan, who then gave up another mammoth home run to Frank Howard (this one to dead center). The Dodgers took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the inning.

Sherry then proceeded to give up a single and a double to the first two batters he faced. Walt Alston brought in Ron Perranoski, who proceeded to walk Joe Gaines, loading the bases and bringing the potential winning run to the plate in the form of Vada Pinson (with Frank Robinson on deck). With the Crosley Field crowd bellowing in his ears, Perranoski pitched with intricate care to both Pinson and Robinson, inducing both of them to ground out...which brought in two runs to make it a one-run game. With two outs and the tying run on second, Alston broke a cardinal rule of the game (or so it was so often explained to us back in '62): he put the winning run on base by intentionally walking Gordy Coleman--who, of course, had already hit two homers and a blistering line drive. 

Perranoski now faced lefty-swinging Marty Keough, 0-for-4 on the night. Keough took a strike, then launched the next pitch down the right field line with home run distance...but the ball curved foul at the last moment! After fouling off the next pitch, Keough lunged at a low pitch and hit a grounder to Maury Wills, who knocked the ball down, grabbed it barehanded, and had just enough time to toss the ball to Jim Gilliam for the final out, thus extinguishing a game that had seemingly taken on a life of its own. Final score: Dodgers 6, Reds 5 (11 innings).

Sunday, July 17, 2022

60 YEARS AGO/89: SANDY DEPARTS (FOR NOW...) + O'DELL SURVIVES AARON

Sandy Koufax lasted just one inning against the Reds in Cincinnati on July 17, 1962. Here is his account from his autobiography:

While I warmed up to pitch in Cincinnati, the finger was so sore that I could barely hold the ball. One of the players came to me and said, "Forget it, Sandy. Don't even try it. Nobody will thank you for it."

Well, I pitched one inning and the damn thing split open. There was no blood to come spurting out; it was just a raw, open wound. The finger had split across the blood blister, though, and the dried blood, mixing perhaps with the sweat, was staining the ball as I threw.

The Reds made three hits and scored two runs. When I came back to the dugout at the end of the inning I told Walt [Alston] I didn't think I could make it.

Ya think? Koufax finally was sent to a cardiovascular specialist, and fortunately for him and the Dodgers (as well as baseball history) his finger did not have to be amputated. As he further describes in his autobio, it was touch and go there for awhile. 

Ed Roebuck replaced Koufax, but had nothing that day: three Reds (Leo Cardenas, Vada Pinson and Hank Foiles) hit homers off him. The Dodgers knocked out Bob Purkey in the fourth, but they could never quite tie the score, and Moe Drabowsky--continuing his up-and-down season that would soon have him leaving Cincinnati for Kansas City--gave the Dodgers a preview of his sensational World Series performance against them in Game One of the 1966 World Series by shutting them down for six innings, allowing just three hits and striking out five. 

Koufax was tagged with the loss, though most of the damage in the game was done by Roebuck. Final score: Reds 7, Dodgers 5.

IN Milwaukee, the Giants grabbed a quick lead in the first on a two-run homer by Orlando Cepeda, but Billy O'Dell left a waste pitch on 0-2 a bit too close to the plate in the fourth while facing Hank Aaron. Bam! Tie game.

Felipe Alou homered in the seventh off Warren Spahn to put the Giants back in front, but the Braves tied it when a passed ball by Tom Haller allowed pinch-runner Amado Samuel to reach scoring position. Roy McMillan cashed him in with a single to tie the score again.

But Samuel, who stayed in the game to play second, then made two errors in the ninth that allowed the Giants to score an unearned run and take a 4-3 lead. O'Dell wavered in the bottom of the ninth, in part due to an error by third baseman Jim Davenport; he left the game with the winning runs on base and just one out. But Bobby Bolin induced catcher Del Crandall to hit into a double play to hold off the Braves and preserve the win. Final score: Giants 4, Braves 3.

SEASON RECORDS: LAD 62-33, SFG 61-34