Half-Baked Hall Profile: Roger Connor

August 31, 2014


Roger Connor 1857-1931

First Base, Third Base
Troy Trojans 1880-1882
New York Gothams/Giants 1883-1889; 1891; 1893-1894
New York Giants (Players) 1890
Philadelphia Phillies 1892
St. Louis Brown 1894-1897

Career WAR: 84.1

Best Season: 1885 .371/.435/.495/.929 200 OPS+ 225 TB 51 BB 8 K 1 HR

Known For: One of the first sluggers in baseball, he held the major league career home run record (138) prior to Babe Ruth.

The Bad: Kind of a boring figure, he was considered a very good ballplayer but uninteresting in his day, and was often overshadowed in the press by his more colorful teammates. In Connor’s mind, the worst thing he did was marry a non-Catholic outside of the Church, and actually felt that his first daughter Lulu died before her first birthday as divine retribution for that sin.

That nickname will never last: It is suggested that the New York baseball club took the name Giants in part because of their 6’3″ 220 lb slugger, who stood out among his contemporaries.

A True Gentleman: Connor played in 1,998 major league baseball games without being ejected once. His only professional ejection came in a 1906 in a Connecticut State League game. The 45-year old Connor pummeled Tommy Tucker after Tucker threw Roger’s brother and teammate Joe to the ground. Among the reasons Connor hated his short stint as a manager in St. Louis: he was uncomfortable challenging umpires.

Home Run King: Among the positives that came from Hank Aaron’s chase of Babe Ruth’s home run record in the 1970’s – Roger Connor started to get noticed. People started to ask the question “whose record did Babe Ruth break?” and Connor, who had been largely forgotten by baseball, became a part of the Hall of Fame conversation. He was inducted in 1976.

Not sure if this is true, but: The BBHOF page gives him credit for hitting the first grand slam in big league history on September 10, 1881.

Voter comments:

* Roger Connor
One of the very few people in MLB history to have played an entire season at third as a lefty.
84 Career rWAR
5th Place All time in JAWS Among First Basemen (ahead of people like Bagwell, the Big Hurt, and McCovey)
Nice ‘stache
Lots of Triples (5th all time) – I like to reward triples
He once hit a home run clear out of Polo Grounds off of Old Hoss Radbourn that prompted a sportswriter to write:

“He met it squarely and it soared up with the speed of a carrier pigeon. All eyes were turned on the tiny sphere as it soared over the head of Charlie Buffinton in right field.”

Not as amazing as the quadruple spin in the outfield, but impressive.

Not immortal
Didn’t live up to the power hitting levels of later first basemen (though he was generally in the top ten in at bats per home run for his era, he never approached the home run totals of, say, Frank Thomas).


WGOM Election Results Page


Real HOF Page





Half-Baked Hall Profile: John Clarkson

August 29, 2014

John Clarkson pitching for Boston.

John Clarkson 1861-1909


Worcester Ruby Legs 1882
Chicago White Stockings 1884-1887
Boston Beaneaters 1888-1892
Cleveland Spiders 1892-1894

Career WAR: 85.7

Best Season: 1889 73 G 49-19 2.73 ERA 150 ERA+ 3.49 FIP 1.27 WHIP 16.7 WAR

Quotes: “(Clarkson) could put more turns and twists into a ball than any pitcher I ever saw.” – Billy Sunday

“In knowing exactly what kind of a ball a batter could not hit and in his ability to serve up just that kind of ball, I don’t think I have ever seen the equal of Clarkson.” – Cap Anson

Known For: Right handed pitcher who relied heavily on his curve ball. Won 30 or more games in six seasons, and retired with a total of 327 NL wins. Liked to keep his pitch count low so he pitched so the batter would hit it and the fielders would do their jobs.  Got into a year-long dispute with Al Spalding. Spent the last five years of his life in various asylums due to a nervous breakdown, depression, paranoia, and possibly various other mental disorders exacerbated by excessive drinking.

The Bad: Was blacklisted by many of his fellow players when he backtracked on his agreement with the brotherhood of players and negotiated a contract with the National League Boston club. Many thought he was sitting in on the early union meeting simply to report back to the NL owners.

Not that Bad, however: For a time, the rumor that Clarkson murdered his wife Ella during the last few years of his life was reported as fact. It is not true. She outlived him.

At least he looked good: Clarkson was known for his style and fashion. He was once called the “bright particular dude” of the Chicago White Stockings by Sporting Life.

That might pay for an inning decent pitching in 2014: When he joined the Beaneaters in 1888, he and catcher King Kelly were hyped as the “$20,000 battery”

Voter Comments:

“His numbers are extremely similar to Tim Keefe, and Keefe went in first-ballot. Clarkson had about 500 fewer innings, but had a slightly better ERA” – Beau

“I thought Clarkson was a slam dunk yes” – Daneekas Ghost

WGOM Election Results Page


Actual HOF Page




2002 ALCS Game 5

August 26, 2014

October 13, 2002

Where the hell’s everybody at? Must be watching the celebration. Couldn’t stop them today. Just got down to that. They’re on a roll. We threw everything we had at them. We took a lead and feel pretty good about it. Those guys are, they just keep playing.

And they keep swinging, and goodness gracious, I don’t know I’ve ever seen an inning like that. We couldn’t get anybody out. They were hitting balls through holes, over, bullets. You tip your hat to those guys. They were playing the game. They were really getting after it.

We played pretty hard and we did it all year long like that. But they’re playing the game over there. That’s a great baseball team. I tip my hat to Mike (Scioscia) and his staff. Great job.

-Ron Gardenhire

The Angels used a 10-run seventh inning to win their fourth straight game over the Twins and advanced to the World Series after a 13-5 win at Edison Field.

The Angels’ big inning came just after the Twins had taken a 5-3 lead with three runs in the top half of the inning. Mienkiewicz, Mohr, and Pierzynski hit consecutive one-out singles and all three eventually scored.

The Angels responded with a monster inning in which the Twins were not able to record their first out until the eighth batter of the inning. All told, the home team had nine singles, a home run, a walk, a hit batter, and a wild pitch in the seventh inning. The Twins used four pitchers in the inning.


1. Adam Kennedy 0.63
2. Scott Spezio 0.21
3. AJ Pierzynski 0.18

A couple of future stars provided the worst WPA of the game

1. Johan Santana -0.47
2. Francisco Rodoriguez -0.27



2002 ALCS Game 4

August 24, 2014

October 12, 2002

For the second straight game, the Twins were held to just a single run. This time, the run was too little too late in a 7-1 loss that put the team on the brink of elimination.

By the time David Ortiz his his ninth inning RBI single, the Twins were already down by seven runs. Despite the final score, however, the bulk of the game was very tight.

Brad Radke held the Angels in check for six innings, allowing just a pair of hits. His counterpart, John Lackey, matched him inning-for-inning, holding the Twins to just three hits in seven innings.

It all came unraveled for Radke and the Twins in the seventh inning, however.

Anaheim’s Darin Erstad began the seventh inning with a single then stole second base and advanced to third on catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s throwing error. Troy Glaus, who provided the game-winning homer Friday, hit an RBI single to left field to score Erstad and break the deadlock.

Radke allowed one more run in the inning on a Scott Spiezio RBI double.

Radke left the game but the Minnesota bullpen, which had been such a strength for the team during the season, had one of its worst days, allowing five more runs over the course of an inning and a third.

1. John Lackey 0.48
2. Francisco Rodriguez 0.08
3. Brad Radke 0.07

Worst WPA
1. AJ Pierzynski -0.13
2. Garrett Anderson -0.11

In the face of their daunting task, Mientkiewicz said the Twins have nothing to lose.

“If we walk away from here tomorrow and lose, let’s make sure we do it the right way,” he said. “Let’s make sure we let it all hang out. I don’t think we’ve done that the last couple of games.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire expects a big response from his players, especially after they let Saturday’s game get away at the end.

“I think they’re going to come out madder than hell tomorrow,” Gardenhire said. “I can promise you this — the Minnesota Twins will show up tomorrow. We’re going to try and get this thing back to the Metrodome and go from there.”



2002 ALCS Game 3

August 21, 2014

October 11, 2002

“Trust me, the last thing I expected was to give up a home run in that inning,” – JC Romero

Reliever JC Romero came on in a tie game in the seventh inning to help stop an Angels rally. With the score 1-1 and a player already tagged out at home plate, the Angels still had the bases loaded with two out. Romero was called upon to face Garret Anderson, who had homered off Eric Milton earlier to account for the team’s only run. Romero did his job, retiring Anderson with a fly ball to right field that ended the threat.

Romero came back out for the eighth, however, and allowed a home run to Troy Glaus to lead off the inning.

“[With] a 3-1 count, he was hacking,” Romero said. “He got good wood on it, and the ball went out. It barely went out, but it’s a home run, anyway.

“Every time you’re behind in the count facing these guys, you’ve got to execute your pitches. I got behind in the count, and it cost me today.”

There was some discussion about whether Ron Gardenhire should have let his lefty pitch against the right-handed Glaus, but the team had already used two of its best right-handed set up men, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Jackson, as part of the effort to keep the Angels scoreless in the seventh inning.

Jerrod Washburn held the Twins’ offense to just a single run in seven innings pitched, and the Angels’ bullpen combination of Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival pitched perfectly in the eighth and ninth innings respectively to seal the 2-1 win for the home team.

1. Troy Glaus 0.29
2. Jerrod Washburn 0.29
3. Eric Milton 0.19

Bottom WPA
1. Corey Koskie 0.17
2. Doug Mientkiewicz 0.16



2002 ALCS Game 2

August 19, 2014

October 9, 2002

Mychael Urban’s article at MLB.com described a bit of a role reversal, similar to Game 1 of the ALDS:

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins are the best defensive team in baseball, and they work so well in the giant sandwich bag that is the Metrodome that they might have the best home-field advantage in baseball, too.

But you wouldn’t have known that while watching the top of the second inning in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday. Balls that usually haunt Minnesota’s opponents here fell in favor of the Angels, and a rare Twins defensive lapse helped Anaheim score its fourth run in a 6-3 win that sent the series West in a deadlock.

“They play the game just like we do, and I saw that in the second inning,” said Twins center fielder Torii Hunter. “They did everything we usually do.”

The story of the pitching matchup pre-game had been home runs. Twins starter Rick Reed had allowed four in Game 3 of the ALDS a week before. Ramon Ortiz of the Angels had allowed 40 on the year, including three to the Twins in a game in May.

The Angels got to Reed with the long ball early when Darin Erstad hit a bomb in the first inning, but in the end it was sloppy defense and Angels’ hustle that did the Twins in. The Angels took the extra bases, forced throwing errors, and generally created havoc on the base paths to score three in the second inning.

Reed allowed another home run, this time a two-run shot to Troy Glaus in the top of the 6th, that ended Reed’s game and gave the Angels a 6-0 lead.

By the time the Twins bats woke up in the bottom of the 6th, it was too late. The result was a 6-3 Angels win and a 1-1 series headed west to Anaheim.


1. Brad Fullmer 0.12
2. Troy Percival 0.10
3. Doug Mientkiewicz 0.09

…and the worst…

1. Rick Reed -0.25
2. Adam Kennedy -0.09



2002 ALCS Game 1

August 17, 2014

October 8, 2002

Joe Mays was masterful in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Anaheim Angels, looking more like he did in 2001 than his 2002 numbers suggest. The Angels, who were fresh off a series against the Yankees in which they averaged nearly eight runs per game, looked off balance throughout the game. Mays allowed just four hits over the course of eight innings pitched, and if it weren’t for a ball that shortstop Cristian Guzman allowed through his legs, Mays would have held the Angels scoreless.

An interesting story about the decision to bring Guardado in to finish the game despite Mays only having thrown 99 pitches from Stew Thornley’s article in the SABR Games Project:

The Twins took their 2-1 lead into the ninth, and Gardenhire brought in Eddie Guardado to finish it off. Mays had delivered 99 pitches in what he called “the game of my career,” and had been asked how he was feeling by pitching coach Rick Anderson in the last of the eighth. “I said, ‘I feel great. I’ll go out there and close this out if you like me to. But Eddie’s been doing it all year, that’s his job.’ I gave him the option.

“It took me a little longer to loosen up in the eighth inning. That was the only reason I gave him that option. Otherwise, I would have told him I was ready to go back out there.”

The Twins scored on AJ Pierzynski’s second inning sacrifice fly that knocked in Torii Hunter who had doubled earlier in the inning, and on a Corey Koskie double to right field in the fifth inning.

1. Joe Mays 0.49
2. Eddie Guardado 0.17
3. Corey Koskie 0.15

Tough day for the middle of the Angels’ order, which went 0-for-8 combined:

1. Garret Anderson -0.17
2. Troy Glaus -0.17





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.