The All-Metrodome Team

June 4, 2009

The Twins are running fan voting for the All-Metrodome team to be announced in early August. Here is my two cents.

First, the no-brainers

1B
2B Chuck Knoblauch
SS Greg Gagne
3B
C Joe Mauer
OF1 Kirby Puckett
OF2 Torii Hunter
OF3
DH
SP1 Frank Viola
SP2 Johan Santana
SP3
RP1 Rick Aguilera
RP2
MAN Tom Kelly

The debate at first base is between Justin Morneau and Kent Hrbek. I lean towards Hrbek here because he played in the dome longer.

At 3B, I could see an argument for Corey Koskie, but Gary Gaetti was too good for too long and was close to being a no-brainer.

While the first two outfielders were easy picks, the third came between Tom Brunansky and Shane Mack. I’ll go with Mack because he we one of the team’s better hitters in the early 1990’s. I would bet that Dan Gladden will get a lot of votes because of his role on both World Championship teams, but Mack was a better all-around player.

While there are some nice names in the DH list, none of them really made a name as a Twin, and thinking in this category just makes me depressed about how the team has been lacking in the DH department for a long time (Jason Tyner might make the short list). I’ll go with Molitor and try not to think too much about it.

I originally had Bert Blyleven listed as a no-brainer in the pitcher department, but realized he only played four seasons at the dome: one great partial season in 1985, two good seasons in 1986 and 1987, and one sub-par season in 1988. While I am tempted to plug Brad Radke in here, I’ll stick with Blyleven, though it may be simply due to my desire to see him win a vote after years of Hall of Fame rejection.

The main candidates to join Aggie in the bullpen, in my opinion, are Eddie Guardado and Joe Nathan. While Guardado would get the nod for longevity, I think Nathan is the choice because he has been among the league’s elite closers since 2004. My guess is that Reardon will likely be the one that makes the team.

So, here is my vote:

1B Kent Hrbek
2B Chuck Knoblauch
SS Greg Gagne
3B Gary Gaetti
C Joe Mauer
OF1 Kirby Puckett
OF2 Torii Hunter
OF3 Shane Mack
DH Paul Molitor
SP1 Frank Viola
SP2 Johan Santana
SP3 Bert Blyleven
RP1 Rick Aguilera
RP2 Joe Nathan
MAN Tom Kelly

And, for fun, based on the finalists at the Twins’ website, here is what the team could look like:

1B Ron Coomer
2B Al Newman
SS Pat Meares
3B Nick Punto
C Tim Laudner
OF Mickey Hatcher, Jacque Jones, Matt Lawton
SP Allan Anderson, Mike Smithson
RP Ron Davis


Cycling Again

April 18, 2009

I, like many, had long checked out of the broadcast of the Twins’ game Friday night by the time Jason Kubel completed the cycle by hitting a grand slam, the shot that ended up being the game-winner. That’ll teach me.

Someday I may try and graph some of the other cycles, but based on the fangraphs.com, last night’s game was an instance of a player single-handedly winning a game.

Here is an updated list of players who have hit for the cycle in franchise history:

Otis Clymer – 10/2/1908
Goose Goslin – 8/28/1924
Joe Cronin
– 9/2/1929
Mickey Vernon – 5/19/1946
Rod Carew5/20/1970
Cesar Tovar9/19/1972
Larry Hisle6/4/1976
Lyman Bostock7/24/1976
Mike Cubbage7/27/1978
Gary Ward9/18/1980
Kirby Puckett8/1/1986
Carlos Gomez5/7/2008
Jason Kubel4/17/2009


Minnesota Twins Opening Day History

April 6, 2009

Date – Result – Starting Pitcher

4/11/1961 W @ NYY 6-0 Pedro Ramos
4/10/1962 L @ KCA 2-4 Jack Kralick
4/9/1963 L vs CLE 4-5 Mudcat Grant
4/14/1964 W @ CLE 7-6 Camilo Pascual
4/12/1965 W vs NYY 5-4 (11 innings) Jim Kaat
4/12/1966 W vs KCA 2-1 Mudcat Grant (2)
4/11/1967 L @ BAL 3-6 Jim Kaat (2)
4/10/1968 W @ WAS 2-0 Dean Chance
4/8/1969 L @ KCR 3-4 (12 innings) Tom Hall
4/7/1970 W @ CHW 12-0 Jim Perry
4/6/1971 L vs MIL 2-7 Jim Perry (2)
4/15/1972 L @ OAK 3-4 (11 innings) Bert Blyleven
4/6/1973 W @ OAK 8-3 Bert Blyleven
4/5/1974 W @ KCR 6-4 (11 innings) Bert Blyleven
4/8/1975 W @ TEX 11-4 Bert Blyleven (2)
4/9/1976 L @ TEX 1-2 (11 innings) Bert Blyleven (3)
4/9/1977 L @ OAK 4-7 Dave Goltz
4/5/1978 L @ SEA 2-3 Dave Goltz (2)
4/6/1979 W @ OAK 5-3 Dave Goltz (3)
4/10/1980 W @ OAK 9-7 (12 innings) Jerry Koosman
4/9/1981 L vs OAK 1-5 Jerry Koosman (2)
4/6/1982 L vs SEA 7-11 Pete Redfern
4/5/1983 L vs DET 3-11 Brad Havens
4/3/1984 L vs DET 1-8 Albert Williams
4/9/1985 W @ CAL 6-2 Frank Viola
4/8/1986 W @ OAK 3-2 Frank Viola (2)
4/7/1987 W vs OAK 5-4 (10 innings) Bert Blyleven (4)
4/5/1988 L @ NYY 0-8 Frank Viola (3)
4/4/1989 L vs NYY 2-4 Frank Viola (4)
4/9/1990 L @ OAK 3-8 Allan Anderson
4/9/1991 L @ OAK 2-7 Jack Morris
4/6/1992 W @ MIL 4-2 Scott Erickson
4/6/1993 W vs CHW 10-5 Kevin Tapani
4/5/1994 L vs CAL 2-8 Kevin Tapani (2)
4/26/1995 L @ BOS 0-9 Scott Erickson (2)
4/1/1996 W vs DET 8-6 Brad Radke
4/1/1997 W vs DET 7-5 Brad Radke (2)
4/1/1998 L @ TOR 2-3 Bob Tewksbury
4/6/1999 W vs TOR 6-1 Brad Radke (3)
4/3/2000 L vs TB 0-7 Brad Radke (4)
4/3/2001 W @ DET 3-2 Brad Radke (5)
4/1/2002 W @ KC 8-6 Brad Radke (6)
3/31/2003 W @ DET 3-1 Brad Radke (7)
4/5/2004 W vs CLE 7-4 (11 innings) Brad Radke (8)
4/4/2005 L @ SEA 1-5 Brad Radke (9)
4/4/2006 L @ TOR 3-6 Johan Santana
4/2/2007 W vs BAL 7-4 Johan Santana (2)
3/31/2008 W vs LAA 3-2 Livan Hernandez

Overall Record on Opening Day: 25-23


The All-Washington Team: Relief Pitcher

August 8, 2008

Firpo Marberry 1923-1932, 1936

1924
RP Firpo Marberry 11-12 3.09 ERA 1.33 WHIP 1.7 PW 17 WS 4.3 WARP3
Marberry joined the team in August 1923 and pitched in a handful of games towards the end of the season, but 1924 was his first full season in the majors. He appeared in 50 games, most in the AL and though the save was years away from becoming an official stat, Marberry led the league in that category with 15 (teammate Allen Russell was 2nd with 8). Frederick Marberry earned the nickname “Firpo” because he looked like the famous boxer Luis Firpo.

1925
RP Firpo Marberry 9-5 3.47 ERA 1.38 WHIP 1.0 PW 11 WS 2.8 WARP3
Marberry was once again a very good option out of the bullpen in just about any situation. For the second straight season he led the league with 15 saves.

1926
RP Firpo Marberry 12-7 3.00 ERA 1.35 WHIP 2.0 PW 16 WS 5.5 WARP3
Another good season for Marberry, who was just about as reliable as any reliever in the league. In 1926 he appeared in 64 games (59 relief appearances, besting his own record set a year earlier) and earned 22 saves. The saves mark would not be surpassed until 1949.

1927
RP Firpo Marberry 10-7 4.64 ERA 1.58 WHIP -1.4 PW 8 WS 1.8 WARP3
1927 was easily the worst season in Marberry’s career. He pitched better in 1928, but was used mostly as a starter for the rest of his career.

1928
RP Firpo Marberry 13-13 3.85 ERA 1.25 WHIP 0.1 PW 11 WS 3.6 WARP3
Marberry continued to be one of the better AL relievers, but was not as dominant as he had been a few years earlier. 1928 was the start of his transition to the starting rotation.

1929
SP Firpo Marberry 19-12 3.06 ERA 1.21 WHIP 4.0 PW 26 WS 9.8 WARP3
From 1924-1928 he was among the premier relief pitchers in baseball, and is still considered one of the first relief aces in history. At the age of 30, however, Marberry got his first chance to start, and he may have been the best starting pitcher in the American League in 1929. He was second only to Lefty Grove in ERA, and led the league in WHIP. Marberry was fourth in AL strikeouts, and still managed to lead the league in saves with 11.

1930
SP Firpo Marberry 15-5 4.09 ERA 1.31 WHIP 1.5 PW 3.9 WARP3
Though not as impressive as his 1929 season, Marberry’s solid numbers made Washington very deep in starting pitching.

1931
SP Firpo Marberry 16-4 3.45 ERA 1.25 WHIP 2.1 PW 20 WS 5.3 WARP3
Marberry’s W-L record was eye-popping, and earned him a mention on the MVP ballots. Of his 45 pitching appearances in 1931, 20 of them were in relief.

1932

RP Firpo Marberry 8-4 4.01 ERA 1.39 WHIP 0.3 PW 16 WS 3.3 WARP3
1932 would mark Firpo’s 10th, and really his final season in Washington (though he will return for five games in his final season of 1936). Marberry started as one of the first bullpen aces, and may have been one of the more valuable members of the franchise’s only World Championship so far. Later in his career he shifted to the starting rotation and had a lot of success there as well. His final line with Washington (including the five appearances in 1936):

117-71 3.59 ERA (117 ERA+) 11.8 PW 145 WS 41.8 WARP3

Firpo will be traded to Detroit after the season.

The rest of the team…

C Muddy Ruel

1B Joe Judge

2B Buddy Myer

SS Joe Cronin

3B Buddy Lewis

LF Goose Goslin

CF Clyde Milan

RF Sam Rice

SP Walter Johnson


The All-Washington Team: Starting Pitcher

August 1, 2008

A bit of a no-brainer.

Walter Johnson 1907-1927

1907
P Walter Johnson 5-9 1.88 ERA 1.09 WHIP 0.5 PW 4 WS
In only 12 starts, the 19-year-old made an impact, and was the one bright spot on an otherwise horrible pitching staff.

1908
P Walter Johnson 14-14 1.65 ERA 0.96 WHIP 2.1 PW 20 WS
Though the win total was low, Johnson was 20 years old and already turned in the best season a Washington pitcher has ever had. He finished 5th in AL ERA (1.65), 3rd in K/9 IP (5.62), 4th in H/9 IP (6.81), and 3rd in shutouts (6).

1909
P Walter Johnson 13-25 2.22 ERA 1.12 WHIP 0.1 PW 12 WS
Exhibit “A” as to how bad of a team this was, and a great example of how win-loss record is a meaningless stat when it comes to evaluating a pitcher. Johnson’s 2.22 ERA, while not as outstanding as he would see in future years, was better than average in a deadball American League. Despite the astronomical loss total, Johnson was second in AL strikeouts and third in innings pitched.

1910
P Walter Johnson 25-17 1.36 ERA 0.91 WHIP 5.5 PW 36 WS
1910 may be the year that Johnson made the jump from a very good pitcher to a dominant pitcher. In 1910, he led the AL in games pitched (45), complete games (38) innings pitched (370), strikeouts (313), and strikeouts per nine innings (7.61). His adjusted ERA+ was 183, a great number to be sure, but one Johnson will surpass many times before his career is over. On July 8 against the Browns, Johnson struck out the first seven men he faced. On September 25, Johnson tosses a near-perfect game, allowing the Browns only a single.

1911
P Walter Johnson 25-13 1.90 ERA 1.12 WHIP 5.4 PW 31 WS 10.0 WARP3
Johnson, now a superstar, actually held out for a contract at the beginning of the 1911 season. It didn’t last long, as he signed a 3-year deal worth $7,000 a year around opening day. The hold out did mean that Johnson missed the opening day start for Washington. The next time that would happen isn’t until 1922. Other notable events in 1911 include Johnson’s first career over-the-fence home run surrendered on April 28, an appearance in for the AL All-Stars in a benefit game for Addie Joss’s family, and a 14 strikeout performance in a All-Star exhibition against the Lincoln Giants from the Negro Leagues. Johnson finished 2nd in AL ERA, and led the league in complete games (36) and shutouts (6); including an 11 inning gem over the White Sox on August 4.

1912
P Walter Johnson 33-12 1.39 ERA 0.91 WHIP 10.6 PW 47 WS 16.3 WARP3
The list of accomplishments for Johnson in 1912 is a long one. He led the AL in ERA, WHIP, K (303), K/9 (7.39), and ERA+ (240). After allowing 8 home runs in 1911, he cut the number back down to only two in 1912. Johnson’s bat emerged in 1912 as well, with a .264/.298/.403 line and two home runs (the same number he allowed). The scariest part is that this wasn’t even his best season on the mound.

1913

P Walter Johnson 36-7 1.14 ERA 0.78 WHIP 10.9 PW 54 WS 18.1 WARP3
Walter Johnson’s best season in some historical context:

Single Season PW (1901-present)
1. Walter Johnson 1913 10.9
2. Walter Johnson 1912 10.6
3. Christy Mathewson 1905 8.5
4. Pedro Martinez 2000 8.4

Single Season Win Shares among Pitchers (1901-present)
1. Walter Johnson 1913 54
2. Jack Chesbro 1904 53
3. Ed Walsh 1908 47
3. Walter Johnson 1912 47

Single Season Total Win Shares (1901-present)
1. Honus Wagner 1908 59
2 .Babe Ruth 1923 55
3 .Walter Johnson 1913 54
3. Barry Bonds 2001 54

Single Season WHIP (1901-present)
1. Pedro Martinez 2000 0.74
2. Walter Johnson 1913 0.78

3. Addie Joss 1908 0.81
4. Greg Maddux 1995 0.81

Single Season WARP3 (All Time)
1. Walter Johnson 1913 18.1
2. Babe Ruth 1923 18.0
3. Amos Rusie 1894 17.6
4. Cal Ripken 1991 17.0

At the very least, Walter Johnson’s 1913 season is in the conversation for greatest pitching season ever, and perhaps greatest baseball season ever.

1914
SP Walter Johnson 28-18 1.72 ERA 0.97 WHIP 7.2 PW 38 WS 14.6 WARP3
On opening day, Johnson shuts out the Boston Red Sox 3-0, and really doesn’t look back, having another great season for Washington. During the off season following 1914, Johnson will flirt with the Federal League, but ultimately will return to Washington. Johnson hit a grand slam against Detroit on June 21.

1915
SP Walter Johnson 27-13 1.55 ERA 0.93 WHIP 7.4 PW 42 WS 14.1 WARP3
Another year, another dominant season for Johnson. At the age of 27, he once again led the league in several pitching categories, and was the backbone for yet another winning season in Washington.

On August 14, 1915 Walter Johnson and Babe Ruth squared off for the first time. Ruth led the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory over Johnson and the Nats, going 2-for-3 at the plate in the process.

1916
SP Walter Johnson 25-20 1.90 ERA 1.01 WHIP 5.2 PW 36 WS 13.4 WARP3
Though his ERA was up slightly from his incredible run in the early part of the decade (his ERA+ was “only” 147), Johnson had yet another dominant year. At the age of 28, Johnson did not allow a single home run in and AL league-leading 369.7 innings pitched. He added 36 complete games and three shutouts to his career totals, and led the AL in strikeout to walk ratio for the fifth straight season.

As an interesting aside, Walter Johnson faced Babe Ruth head-to-head at least five times over the course of the 1916 season.

Date-Location-Outcome
4/16 Fenway Park; Bos 5, Was 1; ended after seven innings due to rain
6/1 Fenway Park; Bos 1, Was 0; Ruth’s second straight shut out
8/15 Fenway Park; Bos 1, Was 0; 13 innings, Johnson allowed only five hits
9/9 AL Park; Bos 2, Was 1; Ruth 4-hitter
9/12 AL Park; Was 4, Bos 3; 10 innings, Johnson’s only win vs. Ruth in 1916

Final Tally: Babe Ruth 4, Walter Johnson 1

1917
SP Walter Johnson 23-16 2.21 ERA 0.97 WHIP 3.1 PW 29 WS 10.4 WARP3
While his ERA was a little on the high side for his standards, the defense behind Johnson probably had something to do with that. The rest of his numbers, including WHIP, look pretty comparable with the rest of his career. The “problem” will be corrected next season.

1917 is the year that Ty Cobb hit his only career home run off of Johnson; an inside-the-park home run that helped the Tigers win a late-September game 4-3. Also of note, Johnson finally earned a win against Babe Ruth in October, when the Nats shut out the Red Sox 6-0.

1918
SP Walter Johnson 23-13 1.27 ERA 0.95 WHIP 7.6 PW 38 WS 14.2 WARP3
In terms of WARP, 1918 was Walter Johnson’s fourth best season behind 1913, 1912, and 1914. During the season, Walter Johnson pitched 17+ innings twice. The first came against the White Sox, when he and Lefty Williams each pitched a shutout through 17 innings. Johnson had a scoreless 18th, while the Nats were able to push a run across in the bottom of the frame. The 18-inning shutout still stands as an ML record, though it was tied by Carl Hubbell in 1933.

1919
SP Walter Johnson 20-14 1.49 ERA 0.99 WHIP 6.7 PW 27 WS 14.1 WARP3
On opening day, Johnson pitched a 13-inning shutout, and the Nats defeated Philadelphia 1-0. It was one of five 1-0 victories for Johnson in 1919, tying his own major league record. Johnson led the AL in ERA (1.49), WHIP (0.99), H/9 (7.28), K (147), Shutouts (7), K/W (2.88), and ERA+ (214). The 1919 season marks the end of Johnson’s dominance. He will have several more very good seasons, but will not approach the dominance he displayed from 1910-1919. Over those 10 seasons, from the age of 22 to 32, Johnson compiled an amazing 138.7 WARP3. It is probably the most dominant stretch for any player in ML history.

1920

SP Walter Johnson 8-10 3.13 ERA 1.13 WHIP 1.3 PW 10 WS 4.1 WARP3
1920 was a season of ups and downs for the franchise player, though there was more down than up. On July 1 he pitched his first career no hitter, striking out 10 Red Sox in the process. Had it not been for a Bucky Harris error, Johnson would have pitched a perfect game. A few weeks later, Johnson was shut down for the season due to soreness in his pitching arm. His play past July would be limited to a few pinch-hitting appearances.

Though Johnson’s numbers look to be pretty bad by his standards, they aren’t as big a drop off as they might appear. His 1.49 ERA in 1919 came in a league with a total ERA of 3.01. The 3.13 ERA he posted in 1920, while a major drop for Johnson, was still well below the league’s 3.79 total mark. His ERA+ dropped from 214 in 1919 to 118 in 1920. In the context of Johnson’s career, 118 ERA+ is pretty low, and was a drop to be sure; but he was still among the best in the league.

1921
SP Walter Johnson 17-14 3.51 ERA 1.35 WHIP 2.3 PW 23 WS 7.5 WARP3
On September 5, 1921 Walter Johnson passed Cy Young to become the all-time leader in career strikeouts with 2,287. Despite reaching another career milestone, Johnson followed his tough 1920 season with a similar 1921. Once again his numbers were good, but well below what Washington fans had come to expect from the Big Train. It may have seemed that Johnson’s career was almost over, but the 33-year old still had a few good seasons in him.

1922
SP Walter Johnson 15-16 2.99 ERA 1.36 WHIP 2.8 PW 21 WS 7.8 WARP3
This was the star pitcher’s best season since 1919. Between June 18 and June 28, Johnson pitched three consecutive shut outs, prompting the Sporting News (7/6/22) to announce that “Walter will win nearly all his games from now on”; and if Mogridge could return to his 1921 form, “Washington may yet get somewhere.”

The third shutout in the streak came against New York on June 28. Johnson struck out nine Yankees in the 1-0 Washington win. The Sporting News noted, however, that Johnson’s nemesis still had his number:

Walter was no puzzle to Ruth, the Babe getting two ferocious singles in four times up, and pulling another to center in the ninth, which would have cleared the fence if hit toward right.

1923
SP Walter Johnson 17-12 3.48 ERA 1.29 WHIP 1.4 PW 17 WS 7.2 WARP3
In 1923, the Big Train matched the lowest ERA+ of his career to that point (109). He was 21 years old and lost 25 games the last time it was that low in 1909. Still, his ERA was a half-run better than league average, and he won 17 games for a sub-.500 team. At 35, it seemed that Johnson passed a different career milestone on a daily basis. On May 2, Johnson earned his 100th career shutout at the first Sunday game at Yankee Stadium. On July 22 Johnson struck out his 3,000th man, and on September 17 he earned two victories in a double-header.

1924
SP Walter Johnson 23-7 2.72 ERA 1.12 WHIP 4.9 PW 29 WS 9.5 WARP3
After several seasons that were below the legend’s standards, Walter Johnson returned to form in 1924. He led the league in almost every pitching category including wins (23), ERA (2.72), WHIP (1.12), K/9 (5.12), Shutouts (6), and K/W (2.05). About the same time that Sam Rice was in the midst of his 31-game hitting streak, Johnson had a streak of his own: 13 straight wins. The streak came late in the season and, like Rice, Johnson’s play was a key factor in the eventual pennant victory for the Nats. Johnson won the 1924 MVP award, the second of his career. While is 1924 numbers don’t approach the numbers he put up in 1913, they are almost as impressive considering the hitter-friendly era and the fact that Johnson, at age 36, was the 8th oldest player in the American League.

1925

SP Walter Johnson 20-7 3.97 ERA 1.29 WHIP 4.6 PW 26 WS 7.9 WARP3
While the 37-year old continued to pile up the pitching numbers, 1925 was his best season at the plate. In 107 plate appearances, Johnson hit .433/.455/.577 with two home runs and 20 RBI. On at least two occasions, manager Harris called for Johnson’s bat in game-winning situations, and Johnson came through. On April 23 Johnson was called out of the shower to hit a two-run single to win the game over New York, 3-2. On May 19th, the Big Train drove a ball over the 45-foot wall at League Park in Cleveland to give his team a 4-3 win.

In the World Series, Johnson seemed to have the Pirates’ number in his first two appearances, allowing just one run in Games 1 and 5. The Pirates finally got to Johnson in the final game, however. He allowed 15 hits and nine runs, though only five of them were earned, in the 9-7 loss in Game 7.

1926
SP Walter Johnson 15-16 3.63 ERA 1.27 WHIP 0.7 PW 15 WS 5.5 WARP3
In his final opening day start, Johnson pitched what he remembered as his greatest game. No member of the Philadelphia Athletics went further than first base in a 15-inning, six hit shutout for Johnson. Though 1926 would become a bit of a tough season for the legend, he did manage to pile on more career milestones. On April 27 he won his 400th career game.

1927
SP Walter Johnson 5-6 5.10 ERA 1.29 WHIP -0.4 PW 5 WS 1.4 WARP3
The spring injury created a situation where Walter Johnson ended his career with a whimper rather than with a bang, but the circumstances surrounding his final season did not diminish the career of the man who remain the greatest player in franchise history 80 years later.

Johnson’s career numbers: 417-279 2.17 ERA (146 ERA+) 1.06 WHIP 89.9 PW 560 WS 203.2 WARP3

He remains baseball’s all-time leader in career shutouts with 110 and PW with 89.9. He is second only to Cy Young in wins, and is eighth on the all-time ERA list. His 1913 season still stands as one of the greatest single seasons in history. Walter Johnson is, hands down, the greatest player in the history of the franchise.

The rest of the starters…

C Muddy Ruel

1B Joe Judge

2B Buddy Myer

SS Joe Cronin

3B Buddy Lewis

LF Goose Goslin

CF Clyde Milan

RF Sam Rice


The All-Franchise Team 1961-1970

July 30, 2008

Few surprises from the first decade in Minnesota.

C Earl Battey (1961-1967) 32.4 WARP3
Battey was the “iron man” for the Twins through most of the decade. He remains the top catcher in franchise history, though some kid named Mauer will probably take that title in a few years.

1B Harmon Killebrew (1961-1970) 67.8 WARP3
The only decision to make with regards to Killebrew and this team was at which position he would play. He played more games at first base in the decade. Besides, if I put Killer at third base than I have to choose from Vic Power, Don Mincher, Bob Allison, and Rich Reese to fill first base – I like the other options at third better.

2B Rod Carew (1967-1970) 18.4 WARP3
The Twins had a rough time getting production from second base until Carew came along in 1970. This, of course, was just the beginning.

SS Zoilo Versalles (1961-1967) 36.1 WARP3
The Twins had a good decade at shortstop with Leo Cardenas taking over for the latter part of the decade.

3B Rich Rollins (1961-1968) 18.7 WARP3
The other option here would have been Killebrew, but I put him at first base.

LF Bob Allison (1961-1970) 46.5 WARP3
Again, Killebrew was an option here but Allison was the easy choice among the rest of the left fielders.

CF Jimmie Hall (1963-1966) 19.6 WARP3
Hall’s time with the Twins was short, but he made enough of an impact to beat out Lenny Green and Ted Uhlaender for the center field position.

RF Tony Oliva (1962-1970) 54.9 WARP3
This turned out to be Oliva’s prime. He hung around until the mid-1970’s but his production was way down due to injuries.

SP Jim Kaat (1961-1970) 56.9 WARP3
SP Camilo Pascual (1961-1966) 34.2 WARP3
SP Jim Perry (1963-1970) 40.1 WARP3
SP Mudcat Grant (1964-1967) 13.4 WARP3
The top three were easy choices. Other options for the fourth spot include Dave Boswell, Dean Chance, Jim Merritt, and Dick Stigman.

RP Al Worthington (1964-1969) 24.7 WARP3
What is perhaps most remarkable about Worthington’s run as the Twins’ closer was that he put up such great numbers between the ages of 35 and 40.


The All-Washington Team: Right Field

July 21, 2008

The team so far:

C Muddy Ruel

1B Joe Judge

2B Buddy Myer

SS Joe Cronin

3B Buddy Lewis

LF Goose Goslin

CF Clyde Milan

And in right field:

Sam RIce (1915-1933)

1916
RF Sam Rice .299/.352/.386 1 HR 0.4 BFW 8 WS 3 FRAR 1.8 WARP3
Rice also pitched 21.3 innings in 1916, but his pitching career ended there (9 G, 1-1, 2.52 ERA, 1.27 WHIP career). Edgar “Sam” Rice started his ML career at the age of 25 due to a stint in the merchant marines and the US Navy. He saw combat aboard the USS New Hampshire off the coast of Mexico in April 1914. Rice was noticed playing semi-pro ball while on leave that August, and purchased from the Navy by the owner of the Portsmouth Truckers. He was purchased by the Nationals in July of 1915.

1917
RF Sam Rice .302/.360/.309 0 HR 1.5 BFW 24 WS 16 FRAR 6.4 WARP3
This is the year that Rice established himself as one of the better hitters in the league. He will take most of 1918 off to serve in the Army, though he will play in a few games while on furlough.

1919
RF Sam Rice .321/.376/.411 3 HR 1.4 BFW 18 WS 15 FRAR 6.6 WARP3
Rice has the distinction of being the only Nats hitter in 1919 that could be accurately described as having a good season. One year removed from serving in World War I, Rice returned to form as if he hadn’t missed any time at all.

1920
CF Sam Rice .338/.381/.428 3 HR 2.3 BFW 23 WS 20 FRAR 7.1 WARP3
Rice replaced Milan in center field for the 1920 season, and would stay there for three seasons before moving back to right in 1923. He had a 28-game hitting streak that was finally stopped on July 16. Arguably Washington’s most valuable player in 1920.

1921
CF Sam Rice .332/.382/.467 4 HR 1.7 BFW 23 WS 12 FRAR 5.2 WARP3
Another very good season for Sam Rice, who, at the age of 31, was still the most dependable bat in the Washington lineup.

1922
CF Sam Rice .295/.347/.423 6 HR 0.0 BFW 20 WS 6 FRAR 4.0 WARP3
1922 was a bit of a down year for Rice. His .347 OBP was a career low (he would have lower OBP, but not until the age of 37). He would return to his normal .380 range by 1923.

1923
RF Sam Rice .316/.381/.450 3 HR 1.6 BFW 24 WS 18 FRAR 7.2 WARP3
At the age of 33, Rice may have had his finest season in 1923. He had career highs in a number of offensive categories, though he would surpass most of them later in his career. Rice’s 7.2 WARP3 stands as the highest in his career. Though most careers wind down at Rice’s age, he still had a number of very good seasons ahead of him.

1924
RF Sam Rice .334/.382/.443 1 HR 0.4 BFW 24 WS 18 FRAR 6.2 WARP3
Rice had a 31-game hitting streak that occurred mostly in September. His play down the stretch was a key reason that the Nats were able to hold off the Yankees.

1925
RF Sam Rice .350/.388/.442 1 HR 0.7 BFW 24 WS 14 FRAR 5.6 WARP3
Rice hit 182 singles in 1925, an AL record that will stand until 1980. The most famous play of Rice’s career occurred in Game 3 of the World Series, when he appeared to make a tumbling catch of an Earl Smith line drive to the right field corner. Rice disappeared from view for about 15 seconds, prompting speculation that a fan had helped him recover the ball. Sam would dodge questions about the play for many years, finally offering the answer in a sealed envelope to be opened upon his death. In 1974, the Hall of Fame opened the message, which stated “At no time did I lose possession of the ball.”

1926
RF Sam Rice .337/.380/.445 3 HR 1.0 BFW 23 WS 11 FRAR 5.6 WARP3
At the age of 36, Rice continued to be one of the premier singles hitters in baseball. He finished fourth in AL MVP voting, and led the league in at-bats (641), hits (216), and singles (167).

1927
RF Sam Rice .297/.336/.408 2 HR -1.8 BFW 17 WS 18 FRAR 4.0 WARP3
37-year-old Sam Rice had his worst season in 1927. For the first (and only) time in his Washington career he was a below-average hitter. Rice’s problems were primarily a product of a horrible start. It was so bad during the season that Bucky Harris was quoted as saying that his prospects for starting in 1928 “were not very bright.” There were even some rumors that Griffith was shopping the star hitter for a trade. Though he showed that he could still hit by turning his season around in the summer, Rice still had to fight for his job the next season. Rice stayed with the team and rebounded in 1928, indicating that his poor play early in the 1927 season was likely caused by health problems he had in the spring, not by a decline in skills.

1928
RF Sam Rice .328/.379/.438 2 HR -0.6 BFW 19 WS 3 FRAR 4.5 WARP3
Rice rebounded at 38-years-old to his typical career numbers. Age did not seem to catch up with Rice, who would remain a regular into his 40’s.

1929
RF Sam Rice .323/.382/.424 1 HR -0.1 BFW 20 WS 10 FRAR 4.7 WARP3
Once again Rice had a typical season for his career. What made it different was that he did at at the age of 39.

1930
RF Sam Rice .349/.407/.457 1 HR 0.9 BFW 23 WS 18 FRAR 6.0 WARP3
At the age of 40 Sam Rice showed that he wasn’t ready to retire quite yet. Interestingly, Rice was only the sixth oldest player in the league in 1930.

1931
RF Sam Rice .310/.365/.400 0 HR -0.4 BFW 13 WS 13 FRAR 3.0 WARP3
If Sam Rice played in 2007, he would likely be under suspicion for some kind of performance-enhancing drug. At age 41 he still played every day for Washington, maintained 100 OPS+, and was still an above-average fielder. When Rice did need a rest, Dave Harris filled in well. Harris also backed up the other outfield positions, and served as the team’s go to pinch-hitter.

1932
OF Sam Rice .323/.391/.438 1 HR 0.5 BFW 11 WS 6 FRAR 2.6 WARP3
Rice was used as a back up, but still put up some pretty good numbers at the age of 42.


The All-Washington Team: Center Field

July 8, 2008

The team so far:

C Muddy Ruel

1B Joe Judge

2B Buddy Myer

SS Joe Cronin

3B Buddy Lewis

LF Goose Goslin

And, in center field:

CF Clyde Milan (1907-1922)

1908:
CF Clyde Milan .239/.304/.315 1 HR 0.4 BFW 15 WS
The easy-going Milan became a regular in center for the first time in 1908. The 21-year-old would patrol the field better than just about anybody in the game for 15 years to come.

1909:
CF Clyde Milan .200/.268/.257 1 HR -1.7 BFW 3 WS
Things weren’t looking so good for Milan in 1909. The Nats stuck with him, however, and would be rewarded in a few years. Despite the poor offensive contribution, Milan was already cementing his status as a very good fielder in center.

1910:
CF Clyde Milan .279/.379/.333 0 HR 2.6 BFW 23 WS
Milan equaled or surpassed career highs in nearly every offensive category in his third season as a full time player. He finished fifth in the AL in OBP due partially to his ability to draw walks. He was second in the AL in that category with 72 bases on balls.

1911:
CF Clyde Milan .315/.395/.394 3 HR 1.8 BFW 27 WS 16 FRAR 6.3 WARP3
This is the season that Milan established himself as one of the top center fielders in baseball. He played in every game and had his best offensive season to date. Milan also broke out as a baserunner, finishing second in AL stolen bases with 58. He continued to show outstanding range in center, and totaled 33 assists by the end of the season. Milan also gained some respect around the league, finishing 9th in MVP voting. The best news for the Nats: at 24 years of age he had a long career ahead of him.

1912:
CF Clyde Milan .306/.377/.379 1 HR 1.0 BFW 33 WS 18 FRAR 5.7 WARP3
Though his number slipped a bit from the previous year, Milan finished fourth in AL MVP voting (one spot behind teammate and friend Walter Johnson), no doubt a function of his team’s success. Milan ran away with the AL stolen base crown, swiping 88 bases. Though Eddie Collins stole six bases on two occasions, he still finished a distant second with 63. On June 14th, Milan stole five bases, including home.

1913:
CF Clyde Milan .301/.367/.378 3 HR -1.2 BFW 28 WS 5 FRAR 4.7 WARP3
For the second straight season Milan led the AL in stolen bases. He swiped 75 in 1913, beating out teammate Danny Moeller by 13. Now a veteran of 6 seasons, Milan played 154 games in center field for the third straight season. From 1910-1913, Milan compiled 23.1 WARP3, the best stretch of his career.

1914:

CF Clyde Milan .295/.346/.396 1 HR -0.5 BFW 19 WS 2 FRAR 3.2 WARP3
Milan, considered by Clark Griffith to be the best center fielder in franchise history, continued to drop according to FRAR:

1911 16
1912 18
1913 5
1914 2

Some of the drop off may be due to the collision with Moeller, but his FRAR will hover in the single digits for the rest of his career.

milan1911.jpg
A 1911 Clyde Milan tobacco card

After leading the league for two straight years in stolen bases, Milan only swiped 38 in a shortened 1914, 5th in the league. Still, the 27 year old was the top offensive producer for Washington, and had several good seasons ahead of him.

1915:
CF Clyde Milan .288/.353/.346 2 HR -1.0 BFW 22 WS 4 FRAR 3.6 WARP3
Once again Milan was among the AL leaders in stolen bases with 40, good for fifth in the league; though he was caught stealing 19 times. Virtually all of his value from 1913 to the end of his career came from his hitting, as he was slightly better than a replacement level fielder.

1916:
CF Clyde Milan .273/.343/.313 1 HR 0.3 BFW 18 WS 10 FRAR 3.4 WARP3
This is the first year that Milan’s OPS+ fell below 100 since 1909. He will be back above league average again next season.

1917:
CF Clyde Milan .294/.364/.333 0 HR -0.6 BFW 22 WS -5 FRAR 3.4 WARP3
Milan’s offense returned after a slightly disappointing 1916. He led the AL in singles with 151. At the age of 30, he still has a few good seasons left in him, though his fielding seems to have taken a sharp dive.

1918:
CF Clyde Milan .290/.344/.346 0 HR -0.9 BFW 18 WS 5 FRAR 3.2 WARP3
This is pretty much what was expected from Milan at this point in his career. He was still an above average hitter at the age of 31.

1919:
CF Clyde Milan .287/.371/.361 0 HR -0.2 BFW 9 WS 0 FRAR 2.2 WARP3
The 32-year-old played in only 88 games, the lowest total of his career if you take away his first and last seasons. Buzz Murphy filled in at center field when Milan was out, but was very unimpressive at the plate and wasn’t really an improvement in the field.

1920:
LF Clyde Milan .322/.364/.403 3 HR 0.0 BFW 14 WS 11 FRAR 3.9 WARP3
At the age of 33, Milan was well into his career downswing by 1920. He moved from center to left field, where he had some success, and was able to play 122 games total.

1921:
RF Clyde Milan .288/.351/.397 1 HR -0.9 BFW 10 WS 2 FRAR 1.3 WARP3
This was his last season as a regular, though he would continue to play as manager in 1922. The easy-going outfielder had a long, slow decline and it would be easy to forget what he had meant to the Nationals in his prime. He was considered one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball in the early part of the 1910’s, and it was hard to find a better hitter in the league not named Cobb during that same time span. Milan’s playing career lasted 16 seasons, and he compiled a .285/.353/.353 line with 55.5 WARP3.


The All-Washington Team: Left Field

July 2, 2008

The Rest of the Team So Far

C Muddy Ruel

1B Joe Judge

2B Buddy Myer

SS Joe Cronin

3B Buddy Lewis

And, today’s addition:

LF Goose Goslin (1921-1930; 1932; 1937)

1922
LF Goose Goslin .324/.373/.442 3 HR -0.2 BFW 12 WS -2 FRAR 2.3 WARP3
Goslin was the 1920’s equivalent of the September call up in 1921. Leon Allen Goslin made his debut on September 16, 1921 and played in 14 games for the Nats. 1922 was his first full season, and the 21-year-old made the most of it; his 116 OPS+ led the team. It is a good thing that Goslin could hit, because his fielding left something to be desired. It is reported that when Clark Griffith was scouting Goslin, he witnessed a game in which Goslin got hit on the head with a fly ball. Apparently, Goslin hit three home runs in that same game, prompting Griffith to sign him anyways.

1923
LF Goose Goslin .300/.347/.453 9 HR 0.1 BFW 21 WS 5 FRAR 4.5 WARP3
Goslin’s second full year as a regular looked a lot like his first. His bat would explode in 1924, when he started putting up the numbers that would one day earn him a place in the Hall of Fame.

1924
LF Goose Goslin .344/.421/.516 12 HR 2.8 BFW 29 WS 17 FRAR 8.2 WARP3
This was Goslin’s breakout season. On August 28 against the Yankees, Goslin became the second player in franchise history to hit for the cycle. He did it in an 11-6 victory over the defending AL champs, part of a late-season series in which the Nats took three out of four from New York to gain first place for what turned out to be the rest of the season. Goslin’s 12 home runs in 1924 represent the most in a single season in franchise history. The 23-year-old will play at a very high level for years to come.

1925

LF Goose Goslin .334/.394/.547 18 HR 3.5 BFW 31 WS 25 FRAR 8.9 WARP3
While Peckinpaugh received the MVP award, Goslin was the team’s true MVP in 1925. Not only did he shatter team records in the slugging department (18 HR), Goslin had a great World Series for the second straight year.

Goose Goslin World Series Numbers
1924 .344/.344/.656 3 HR 7 RBI
1925 .308/.379/.692 3 HR 6 RBI

Goslin would play in three more World Series later in his career, but didn’t approach the numbers he put up in the first two.

1926
LF Goose Goslin .354/.425/.542 17 HR 4.6 BFW 33 WS 18 FRAR 9.6 WARP3
If 1925 was a breakout year for Goose, 1926 was the year that he established himself as the star of the Washington Nationals. In an interesting note, all 17 of his home runs came on the road, the most ever for a player who didn’t hit any at home.

1927
LF Goose Goslin .334/.392/.516 13 HR 1.6 BFW 28 WS 9 FRAR 6.7 WARP3
It was a good thing for the Nats that Goslin could supply some power. He had 13 of the team’s 29 total home runs in 1927; no other player on the team had more than two. The star left fielder had clearly taken over as the team’s best player in 1927.

1928
LF Goose Goslin .379/.442/.614 17 HR 4.9 BFW 26 WS 16 FRAR 9.1 WARP3
Goslin won the AL batting title with his .379 average, the first and only batting title of his career. He once again had almost half of his team’s home run total.

1929
LF Goose Goslin .288/.366/.461 18 HR -0.7 BFW 19 WS -2 FRAR 3.3 WARP3
Even though he was once again the only real power threat on the team, 1929 was a down year for Goslin by just about every other measurement. His arm was still not back to normal after he injured it in the spring of 1928, and he had a well documented feud with new manager Walter Johnson; an argument that reportedly started with a golf game a few years prior. All in all, the seeds for the trade that would send Goslin out of Washington during the 1930 season were planted.

1930
LF Goose Goslin .271/.344/.495 7 HR -0.5 BFW 5 WS -1 FRAR 0.8 WARP3
In 1930 the slow chain of events finally led to the trade that sent future Hall of Famer Goose Goslin to St. Louis (read more about the circumstances surrounding the trade here). As part of the deal, Griffith got Heinie Manush, a former teammate of Ty Cobb, to replace Goslin in left. Although Goslin’s power finally exploded in St. Louis, Manush filled in for the star admirably, and had several solid seasons with Washington.

1933
RF Goose Goslin .297/.348/.452 10 HR 0.4 BFW 20 WS 18 FRAR 5.0 WARP3
It is interesting to speculate what Goslin’s career numbers may have looked like had he spent less time hitting at Griffith Stadium. Goslin had 127 home runs in 12 seasons with Washington, or about a home run every 44 plate appearances. During his time in St. Louis, he had a home run in about every 25 plate appearances. Goslin’s performance in 1933 was a bit disappointing to Griffith, and it was clear that Goose did not like the managing style of Joe Cronin, so his second stint with the Senators lasted only one season. Goslin was traded to Detroit following the World Series.


The All-Washington Team: Third Base

June 11, 2008

Buddy Lewis (1935-1941, 1945-1947, 1949)

1936
3B Buddy Lewis .291/.347/.399 6 HR -0.3 BFW 16 WS 26 FRAR 4.0 WARP3
Buddy Lewis was hailed in Washington as one of the better prospects the team had seen in a while. Due to injuries, the 19-year-old got a chance to show his stuff early in the season. Lewis may have been the reason that the team kept its head above water during the first two months of the season. With many of the Senators’ stars either hurting or slumping (or both), Lewis, it was proclaimed in The Sporting News, got 41 hits in his first 103 at-bats of the season, including a 15-game hitting streak early in May. Though his numbers came down to a more realistic level by the end of the season, Lewis showed consistently good defense at third base, and may have been the best rookie not named DiMaggio playing in 1936.

1937
3B Buddy Lewis .314/.367/.425 10 HR -1.0 BFW 20 WS 16 FRAR 5.9 WARP3
After fading a bit down the stretch in 1936, Buddy Lewis was a bit more consistent in his sophomore effort. He led the team in home runs with 10, and total bases with 284. THe highlight of the season for Lewis was an eight hit day, executed during a doubleheader against the Browns on July 25. Though Lewis demonstrated some range at third base, he had trouble handling the ball, and was charged with 29 errors, including four in the same game on August 10.

1938
3B Buddy Lewis .296/.354/.431 12 HR 0.2 BFW 20 WS 12 FRAR 5.3 WARP3
At 21, Lewis’ numbers looked a lot like the season before. He was still somewhat of a liability in the field, committing a personal high 47 errors in 1938.

1939
3B Buddy Lewis .319/402/.478 10 HR 3.9 BFW 22 WS 33 FRAR 9.3 WARP3
Buddy Lewis was the exception in 1939. While most of the team had a down year in some way, Lewis broke out in his fourth full season to have his career year up to that point.

1940
RF Buddy Lewis .317/.393/.443 6 HR 1.8 BFW 22 WS 18 FRAR 8.0 WARP3
As part of the infield shuffle, Buddy Lewis moved from third base to right field in 1940. Though he continued to play occasionally at third for the next couple of years, Lewis adjusted well and spent the bulk of his career in the outfield.

1941
RF Buddy Lewis .297/.386/.434 9 HR 1.7 BFW 22 WS 26 FRAR 8.1 WARP3
Just like the other offensive star of 1941 Cecil Travis, Lewis would miss a few years due to the war. The difference is that Lewis was able to have some success upon his return, but he missed his 25 to 27-year-old seasons to the war, leaving many to wonder what his career would have looked like if uninterrupted.

1945
RF Buddy Lewis .333/.423/.465 2 HR 2.4 BFW 17 WS 6 FRAR 4.0 WARP3
Lewis returned from military service late in the season to take over the right field position that had been unsettled most of the season. He put up some very good numbers in just 69 games played.

1946
RF Buddy Lewis .292/.359/.421 7 HR 1.6 BFW 24 WS 15 FRAR 7.4 WARP3
Lewis spent 1942-1944 in the Air Force, where he was credited with flying over 305 missions. After looking unstoppable as a hitter in the last half of 1945, Lewis came back to earth a bit in 1946, but at the age of 29 still looked to have a nice career ahead of him.

1947
RF Buddy Lewis .261/.330/.342 6 HR -1.3 BFW 10 WS 6 FRAR 2.5 WARP3
Lewis was among the Washington hitters who took a huge nosedive from their 1946 performance. Late in the year Lewis injured his hip in a collision with Spence. The injury was enough for Lewis to announce his retirement. After sitting out the entire 1948 season, Griffith talked one of his favorite players into returning for the 1949 season. After another disappointing year, Lewis retired for good before the 1950 season.

1949
RF Buddy Lewis .245/.355/.366 3 HR -0.3 BFW 6 WS 10 FRAR 2.3 WARP3
Clark Griffith’s ability to woo (and a $16,000 salary) convinced the 32-year-old Lewis to put on a Washington uniform for one more year after missing all of 1948. After initially earning the starting job out of spring training, Lewis struggled and was relegated to the bench for the final months of the season, though he did bat .400 as a pinch hitter. Though it was reported that Griffith considered Lewis an important part of the team, the contract sent to Lewis for the 1950 season included a drastic cut in salary. Lewis claimed that was not the reason he retired, and cited “tired legs” when he announced that his career was over in February of 1950. Career stats (11 seasons, all with Washington): .297/.368/.420 110 OPS+ 71 HR 55.1 WARP3.

The Rest of the Team So Far

C Muddy Ruel

1B Joe Judge

2B Buddy Myer

SS Joe Cronin


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.