Half-Baked Hall Profile: John McGraw

November 22, 2014

John McGraw (1873-1934)


3B, SS, OF
Baltimore Orioles (NL) 1891-1899
St. Louis Cardinals 1900
Baltimore Orioles (AL) 1901-1902
New York Giants 1902-1906

Baltimore Orioles (NL) 1899
Baltimore Orioles (AL) 1901-1902
New York Giants 1902-1932

Career WAR: 45.6

Best Season: 1899 .391/.447/.546/.994 168 OPS+ 124 BB 24 K 8.0 WAR

Quote: “McGraw eats gunpowder every morning for breakfast and washes it down with warm blood” – Artie Latham

Known For: Mostly for managing. Was the Giants’ skipper for 30 years. In that time his teams won 10 pennants and 3 World Series. From his SABR Bio:

The pugnacious McGraw’s impact on the game, moreover, was even greater than his record suggests. As a player he helped develop “inside baseball,” which put a premium on strategy and guile, and later managed like he’d played, seeking out every advantage for his Giants.

Nicknames: Mugsy, Little Napoleon

HOF Facial Hair?: Facial Hair? No need. And shave those sideburns or you’re off the team!

Is this professional wrestling or baseball?: It is entirely possible that John McGraw’s tactics as a player, such as tripping or blocking players while the umpire wasn’t looking, is the reason that baseball added multiple umpires to each game. There is no evidence that McGraw hit any opponents with folding chairs.

Batting Stance: McGraw choked up on the bat. While that eliminated most of his power potential, it was said that he could place the ball wherever he wanted.

The first canceled World Series: In 1904 McGraw refused to let his Giants play against Boston in what would have been the second World Series. McGraw didn’t get along with Ban Johnson during the manager’s brief time in the American League, and decided to keep his team out of the series to spite the AL President.

Last appearance: At the age of 60, McGraw managed his last game: opposite Connie Mack in the first ever All Star Game. He died less than a year later.

Voter Comments:

“With 76% of the vote, John McGraw makes into the Half-Baked Hall on his fourth try. As a player? As a manager? As a player-manager? The world will never know.” – Beau

WGOM Election Results Page

Actual HOF Page

Half-Baked Hall Profile: Cy Young

October 26, 2014


Denton True “Cy” Young 1867-1955

Cleveland Spiders 1890-1898
St. Louis Perfectos/Cardinals 1899-1900
Boston Americans/Red Sox 1901-1908
Cleveland Naps 1909-1911
Boston Rustlers 1911

Career WAR: 170.3

Best Season: 1901 33-10 1.62 ERA (219 ERA+) 2.64 FIP 0.972 WHIP 158 K 12.6 WAR

Known For: All he did was win. Credited with 511 wins, 94 ahead of the second winningest pitcher in baseball history (Walter Johnson). The annual award for the best pitcher in each league bears his name.


“He’s (Cy Young) too green to do your club much good, but I believe if I taught him what I know, I might make a pitcher out of him in a couple of years. He’s not worth it now, but I’m willing to give you a $1,000 for him.” – Cap Anson

“Cap, you can keep your thousand and we’ll keep the rube.” – Gus Schmelz


The Nickname: Short for “Cyclone,” it was given to him during early in his career and referred to the way the fences would look after Young threw his practice pitches against them – they looked like a cyclone had hit them.

How Fast?: Chief Zimmer, Young’s catcher during his years with the Cleveland Spiders, used to put a beefsteak inside of his glove to protect his hand from the pain of Cy’s fastball. It is estimated that Young to Zimmer as a battery has played in more games than any other battery.

Adjustment: Young was able to stick in baseball for so long because he adapted as he lost velocity on his fastball. He focused on control and became one of the game’s best at control pitching.

Fitting, Perhaps: The Cy Young Award has been criticized (ahem) for being awarded too often to the top winner in the league rather than the best pitcher. Young was, of course, both the top winner and the best pitcher in his league many times during his long career.

Actual HOF Page

WGOM Election Results Page

Half-Baked Hall Profile: Rube Waddell

October 16, 2014

Rube Waddell 1876-1914

Louisville Colonels 1897, 1899Pittsburgh Pirates 1900-1901
Chicago Orphans 1901
Philadelphia Athletics 1902-1907
St. Louis Browns 1908-1910

Real Name: George Edward Waddell

HOF Facial Hair?: Didn’t need it

Career WAR: 61.0

Best Season: 1905 27-10 1.48 ERA (179 ERA+) 1.89 FIP 0.977 WHIP 287 K 9.2 WAR

Quote: Waddell had the “best combination of speed and curves” of any pitcher who played the game according to Connie Mack.

Known For: A larger-than-life figure who reportedly had the emotional and intellectual maturity of a small child. The top strikeout pitcher in an era when strikeouts were relatively rare. Many of his off-field exploits are legendary, even if some are slightly exaggerated.

The Bad: Was once suspended for a week for climbing in the stands to beat up a spectator.

Bad Impression: He was originally part of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1897, but was dismissed prior to making an appearance for the team after he sat by manager Patsy Donovan at a team meal. Apparently, Donovan was unimpressed with Waddell’s dinner conversation.

Unreliable: When Connie Mack signed Waddell with the A’s for the 1902 season, he sent two escorts to make ensure that Rube, whom Mack had managed in a semi-pro league a few years prior, made it successfully to Philadelphia.

Another Side: From his SABR Bio

The Rube also demonstrated his more compassionate side when Athletics’ centerfielder Danny Hoffman was knocked unconscious by a fastball to the temple. “Someone went for an ambulance, and the players crowded around in aimless bewilderment,” wrote Connie Mack. “Somebody said that Danny might not live until the doctor got there. Then the man they had called the playboy and clown went into action. Pushing everybody to one side, he gently placed Danny over his shoulder and actually ran across the field.” Rube flagged down a carriage, which carted the pair to the nearest hospital. Rube, still in uniform, sat at Hoffman’s bedside for most of the night, and held ice to Hoffman’s head.

Not a Bad Racket: Would often barter the ball he used in a famous duel with Cy Young for free drinks. Before long their were dozens of bartenders claiming to have the famous souvenir.

Did Not Happen: Rumors still persist that Wadell would frequently wander off the mound mid-game to chase fire trucks due to a fascination with fires. While he was a member of a volunteer fire brigade, there are no documented cases of him leaving a game to do so.

Probably Did Happen:

-In exhibition games Wadell was known to demand his fielders retire to the dugout for the final inning so he could strikeout the side.

-Married a woman after knowing her for three days. Over the course of the couple’s seven-year marriage, she often had him thrown in jail for “non-support”

-Played himself in a traveling theater company until he was he was let go due to a dispute over pay. The firing included the company dumping Waddell’s bags in an alley.

-The shoulder injury that caused his career to start downhill occurred in a fight with a teammate over a straw hat.

-Would, without notice, miss scheduled starts for reasons such as fishing or playing marbles with street urchins.

-Opponents would reportedly attempt to distract Waddell by holding up puppies or shiny objects.

Comments from voters:

“Rube Waddell is also goofier than a pet coon, if I’m thinking of the right guy.” – Spookymilk

“Spooky was right, Rube was goofier than a pet coon, and was possibly the most famous baseball player to non-baseball fans before Babe Ruth. Clinically, it looks like he may have had a developmental disorder. When he was 21 years-old, he had the intellectual maturity of a 7 year old. He was in and out of baseball a few times, was suspended multiple times for unruly behavior, including openly mocking his opponents. He was drunk a lot and had very public marriages and divorces…” – Beau

Election Results Page

Actual HOF Page



1924 World Series Film

October 5, 2014

This is a pretty interesting find from the Library of Congress. Here’s the story behind it.

H/T to my Mom, who texted a CNN story about this to me.

The Franchise 2003 (Pitchers)

September 29, 2014

SP Brad Radke 2.5 WAR
Some numbers for Radke.
Radke continued his run as one of the best control pitchers in the league.

By Month, 2003
Mar/April 34.1 IP 6.29 ERA 10 BB
May 30.1 IP 5.04 ERA 3 BB
Jun 34.1 IP 5.50 ERA 5 BB
Jul 40 IP 3.83 ERA 5 BB
Aug 38.1 IP 4.70 ERA 4 BB
Sep/Oct 35.0 IP 1.80 ERA 1 BB

SP Kyle Lohse 2.3 WAR
Though he ended the year with about league average numbers for a starting pitcher (98 ERA+), Lohse was particularly streaky in 2003. In his eight starts from June 16-July 26, Lohse went 0-5 with a 10.95 ERA while opponents OPS against him was 1.022. In the eight starts prior to that (May 2- June 11), he was 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA and a .572 OPS against.

SP Rick Reed 0.9 WAR
At the age of 38, Reed had a little bit left, but for the most part showed his age. He retired after the season. In his three years with the Twins, Reed was 25-25 with a 4.47 ERA (101 ERA+).

SP Kenny Rogers 1.9 WAR
While signing the 38-year-old lefty might have seemed like a gamble for the Twins, it was a low risk, potentially high-reward move for a team that had a gap in the rotation due to Eric Milton’s knee injury. Rogers had a decent season with the Twins, but was much better in both 2002 and 2004 with the Texas Rangers. Rogers had a down note on June 1, when allowed the first seven Mariners he faced to hit safely, one short of a major league record.

SP Joe Mays -0.5 WAR
2001 seemed like ancient history as Mays continued to struggle to find the form that made him an All Star. He would miss all of 2004 after having Tommy John surgery.

RP/SP Johan Santana 4.2 WAR
With several of the team’s starting pitchers struggling or injured, the voices calling for Johan Santana to be moved to the starting rotation for the bullpen became louder. It finally happened for good on July 11. Santana was the team’s best starter most of the rest of the season, but a hamstring problem plagued him in October.

CL Eddie Guardado 1.9 WAR
RP LaTroy Hawkins 3.1 WAR
Guardado put up big numbers as a one-inning closer from 2002-2003, and effectively priced his way out of Minnesota. Both the Twins and Guardado indicated they wanted to get a deal done, but ultimately he signed with the Seattle Mariners, and the Twins used the money saved to sign Shannon Stewart. In 12 years with the Twins, Guardado posted a 4.53 ERA (105 ERA+) 4.39 FIP and 1.34 WHIP. Hawkins was dominant in his setup role for the second straight season, and also signed a nice contract with another team, in this case with the Chicago Cubs. His numbers in 9 seasons with the Twins: 5.05 ERA (95 ERA+) 4.58 FIP 1.52 WHIP. Both were well established fan favorites when they left, and both were vocal about their displeasure with leaving. Fans were somewhat unsettled by the moves, but ultimately discovered quickly that the Twins had found a new bullpen option with Joe Nathan, another piece of the AJ Pierzynski trade.

RP Juan Rincon 1.2 WAR

RP JC Romero -0.1 WAR


The Franchise 2003 (Position Players)

September 22, 2014

C AJ Pierzynski 4.5 WAR
2003 Was Pierzynski’s best season with the Twins. It was also his last. His 115 OPS+ was a career high up to that point, and he has only exceeded that mark once, in his outlier year of 2012 with the White Sox. Based on WAR, the every day catcher was the most valuable offensive asset on the team in 2003. He was expendable, however, mainly due to the fact that the Twins had local hero Joe Mauer waiting in the wings to start at catcher in 2004. There were also some whispers from the team that perhaps AJ’s reputation as a talker was wearing thin with some members of the team’s management, but for the most part it seemed like an amicable parting when Pierzynski was traded to the Giants as part of the Francisco Liriano deal. Pierzynski had a terrible season in San Francisco and did not endear himself to that clubhouse, so initially it looked like he might be done, and the trade that brought Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser to Minnesota was a one-sided bonanza for the Twins. Pierzynski resurrected his career in Chicago however, and was a key member of the 2005 World Series champions. Controversy has seemed to follow AJ, but overall he has put together a pretty nice career for himself. His numbers in five seasons with the Twins: .301/.341/.447/.788 105 OPS+ 9.4 WAR

1B Doug Mientkiewicz 4.2 WAR
After taking a slight step back in 2002, Dougy Baseball had success to match his very good 2001 season. Unlike in his Gold Glove season when many advanced metrics rated him just average to slightly above at first base, he was legitimately rated high in most defensive categories, making this his most valuable season in a Twins uniform. Much like Pierzynski became a trade piece because Mauer was ready to go, the development of Justin Morneau meant that Doug’s days as the regular first baseman were numbered.

2B Luis Rivas -1.2 WAR
This was another awful season for Luis Rivas. One of the biggest question marks for people who followed the Twins in the early 2000’s was how Rivas continued to have a job at second base. Not only that, but 56 times during the year he started batting second in the order.

SS Cristian Guzman 1.2 WAR
Guzman continued to struggle to regain the form that made him an All Star in 2001. He did regain the AL triples title with 14 after only hitting six in 2002.

3B Corey Koskie 4.2 WAR
This is Koskie’s third consecutive season with 4+ WAR. Over the course of those three seasons, Koskie had a slash line of .278/.374/.464/.837 (120 OPS+) and was a +33 defender at third base.

LF/RF Jacque Jones 1.4 WAR
LF Shannon Stewart 2.6 WAR
RF Dustan Mohr 0.3 WAR
RF Bobby Kielty 1.1 WAR
When the Shannon Stewart deal was made, Jones moved from his familiar left field position to right field to make room for Stewart, who was more comfortable in left field. While he improved slightly in his splits versus left-handed pitching, Jones still struggled, but continued to get plate appearances against lefties. Shannon Stewart is largely credited as the spark that ignited the team’s surge to its second consecutive division title. It is interesting to note, however, that Stewart’s numbers against right-handed pitchers were about on par with Bobby Kielty’s. His biggest contribution to the team was the fact that he replaced the right-handed half of the “Dusty Kielmohr” platoon and OPS’ed .892 against left-handed pitching.

CF Torii Hunter 3.8 WAR
Hunter struggled at the plate in comparison to his performance in 2002, but won his third consecutive Gold Glove.

DH Matt LeCroy 1.2 WAR
Technically LeCroy was a backup catcher, and he did appear in 22 games as a catcher in 2003, but struggled to stop opponents from stealing bases – he threw out only four of 18 runners. He found his way into the lineup mostly as a DH, however, because he had home run power that the rest of the team lacked.

The Franchise 2003 (Part 1)

September 17, 2014

Manager: Ron Gardenhire 2nd season (2nd with Minnesota 184-139)
90 W 72 L 801 RS 758 RA 1st AL Central 4.0 GA (Chicago 86-76)
4.94 RPG (AL = 4.86) 4.41 ERA (AL = 4.52)
.698 DER (7th AL)

All Stars (1) Eddie Guardado

Franchise (1901-2003) 7600-8299-111; 32-38 Post Season; 19-21 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-2003) 3386-3435-7; 24-27 Post Season; 11-10 WS

At the 2003 All Star break, the Twins had lost eight games in a row and had a 44-49 record. The defending division champs were in third place, 7.5 game out of first. It wasn’t looking good.

The day after the break, the Twins traded Bobby Kielty to Toronto for Shannon Stewart.

Stewart was 29 years old and had played his entire career in Toronto. He had been an above average offensive player with suspect range in the outfield. the first half of 2003 was shaping up to be a good season, but by Stewart’s standards the numbers were a little down. A change of scenery did him and the Twins well.

The team swept a four game series against the A’s right out of the break. They went 18-11 in August, an surged to a 19-7 record in September, finally taking over the division lead for good on September 15.

Shannon Stewart earned a fourth-place finish for MVP honors based almost entirely on his role with the Twins down the stretch.


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