Baseball Stocking Stuffers – Gene Rye, John Schuerholz and Mickey Mantle

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Happy Holidays to all!  To kick of the season, BBRT is providing an alternative to the usual in-depth posts found here. Instead I am posting are a trio of stocking stuffers focusing on the most powerful one-inning display of batsmanship ever (Gene Rye); the Today’s Game Era Hall of Fame ballot (John Schuerholz, Bud Selig); and my favorite comic book (Mickey Mantle).


Gene Rye. Photo: Society for American Baseball Research.

Gene Rye. Photo: Society for American Baseball Research.

Boston Red Sox outfielder Gene Rye came by his nickname naturally – the 5’ 6”, 165-pounder was known around baseball as “Half Pint.”  However, for one inning of one game, this small-of-stature ballplayer carried professional baseball’s biggest and most powerful bat.  On August 6, 1930, playing for the Class A Texas League Waco Cubs (against the Beaumont Exporters), Rye became the first (and still only) professional ballplayer to hit three home runs in a single inning.

It came about in the bottom of the eighth inning – which opened with Waco trailing Beaumont 6-2 and Rye leading off.  The left-handed swinging Rye took Gerald Mallet deep to left for a solo round tripper.  That blast sparked the Waco offense and the team batted around – bringing Rye to the plate for a second time in the frame, now facing reliever Walter Newman with Waco up 9-6 and two men on base. Rye upped the lead to 12-6, this time pulling the ball over the right field fence.   Beaumont may have decided the game was out of reach because Newman was still on the mound when Rye came up for a third time in the inning – with the bases loaded. In his third at bat of the inning, Rye again pulled the ball over the right field wall for a Grand Slam. By the time the inning was over, Waco had scored 18 runs and held at 20-6 lead. (They would eventually win 20-7.)  Gene “Half Pint” Rye (whose real name was Eugene Mercantelli) had set the professional records for home runs (3), total bases (12) and RBI (8) in an inning.  Rye still holds all three records – although the RBI record for an inning has since been tied by:  Ken Myers of the Class C (Sunset League) Las Vegas Wranglers on May 2, 1947; Armando Flores of the 1952 Class B (Gulf Coast League) Laredo Apaches on June 25, 1953; Lance Junker of the Class A (California League) Redwood Pioneers on June 30, 1983; and, at the Major League level, Fernando Tatis of the Cardinals on April 23, 1999.  All four of these players tied the single-inning RBI mark by virtue of two Grand Slams in the inning.

Rye, who began his professional baseball career in 1925 (at age 18), had been on the rise when he fashioned his record-setting inning. In 1928, he hit .289 with 12 home runs for Winston-Salem in the Class C Piedmont League. In 1929, he moved up to the Class A Waco squad and  hit .284, with 19 round trippers.  In 1930 – the season of his three-homer inning – the 24-year-old Rye hit .367 with 26 home runs.

Not surprisingly, Rye’s emerging power attracted interest at baseball’s highest level.  In 1930, Half-Pint Rye found himself playing for the Boston Red Sox. However, a broken wrist in Spring Training limited his effectiveness and he played in only 17 games (.179 average with no home runs and one RBI) before being sent to the minors in June. He played in the minors until 1936, but never made it back to the major leagues.

BBRT note:  In his big inning, Rye nearly hit for the “Home Run Cycle” – a solo, two-run, three-run and Grand Slam homer.  Only once player – Tyrone Horne – had his for the Home Run cycle in a single game.  You can read that story here.

BBRT on the Today’s Game Era Hall of Fame Ballot

John Schuerholz - unanimous selection on BB HOF Today's Game ballot. Photo by The SABR Office

John Schuerholz – unanimous selection on BB HOF Today’s Game ballot. Photo by The SABR Office

BBRT was two-for-three in predicting electees on the Today’s Game Era Hall of Fame ballot.  BBRT predicted three of the ten candidates would get the necessary 75 percent support: Executives John Schuerholz and Bud Selig, and manager Lou Piniella. Schuerholz and Selig made it. Piniella finished third in the voting, but received only seven of the 12 votes necessary. You can read BBRT’s take on the entire list of candidates here. 

As far as the results. Schuerholz – with his fine work with the Royals and (especially) the Braves was an easy pick.  Like many “old-schoolers,” I had reservations about Selig (especially given how his contraction talked affected Minnesota), but MLB did flourish (and work through some tough challenges) during his tenure as commissioner.  I also thought Piniella’ 23 managerial seasons, 1,835 wins and three Manager of the Year Awards should have earned him at least 75 percent support. (Piniella has the 14th most managerial wins in MLB history. Thirteen of the 14 managers ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame – as well as a host of those who trail him.  Looking to recent history, for example, Piniella has 236 more wins than Tommy Lasorda, 264 more than Dick Williams, and 355 more than Earl Weaver.

Note: For BBRT’s take on the traditional BBWAA player HOF ballot (results announced next month), click here.

My Favorite Comic Book

mantlec1Twenty-five years ago this month (December 1991), Magnum Comics released the first issue of Mickey Mantle Comics – dedicated to exploring the life (in comic book form) of this Yankee icon. The comic book also included a section on the Boston Braves’ “Super-Sub” Sibby Sisti, as well as Mantle and Sisti commemorative post cards. On its inside back cover, Magnum Comics previewed upcoming issues on Brooks Robinson and Duke Snider.mantle2







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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Baseball Hall of Fame – Today’s Game Era Ballot

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Baseball Hall of Fame photo

Photo by candyschwartz

In addition to the traditional Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) Hall of Fame voting, each year a group of candidates is considered by one of the Hall’s “Era” Committees, which include: Today’s Game (1988-present); Modern Baseball (1970-87); Golden Days (1950-69); and Early Baseball (1871-1949). This year, the Today’s Game Era Committee is considering a group of five players, three managers and two executives for membership in the Hallof Fame.

In this post, BBRT will look at the Today’s Game candidates, commenting on how BBRT would vote (if I had a ballot) and speculating (predicting) on the Committee’s likely action.  If you would like BBRT’s detailed take on this year’s traditional ballot (34 players), click here.  

First, the Election Process—

Before getting into the Today’s Game nominees – a bit of background on the process.  The BBWAA Historical Overview Committee is responsible for identifying the ten candidates on each ballot and election requires that the candidate be name on 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16 members of the Today’s Game Era Committee –  To be eligible for consideration by the Today’s Game Era Committee, candidates must have made their greatest contribution to the national pastime between 1988 and 2016.  In addition:

  • Players must have played in at least ten major league seasons and no longer be eligible for the traditional BBWAA ballot;
  • Managers and umpires must have served at least ten years in MLB and be retired for at least five years or over the age of 64 and retired for at least six months; and 
  • Executives must be retired from MLB for at least five years, although active executive over age 69 are also eligible.

Nominees for consideration by the Today’s Era Committee are:

  • Players … Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Mark McGwire.
  • Managers … Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella.
  • Executives … John Scheurholz, Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner.

Now, let’s look at each candidate and how BBRT sees thier chances.  Spoiler Alert:  If BBRT had a ballot, I’d vote for: Lou Piniella, John Scheurholz and (as a Minnesotan, reluctantly) Bud Selig.  I anticipate the same results in the Comittee vote,with Harold Baines as a possible dark horse candidate.


Harold Baines (OF/DH) – 1980-2001

Harold Baines photo

BBRT would love to see a HOF Class that included Baines (Harold Baines, above) and (Tim) Raines. Photo by Keith Allison

Harold Baines had a 22-season MLB career. He was a six-time All Star and two-time winner of the Designated Hitter of the Year Award. He is in the top 50 players all time in hits with 2,866 (45th) and RBI with 1,628 (32nd). Baines, with a .289 career average, hit .300 or better in nine seasons. He was a steady source of power with 384 home runs, never reaching 30 in a season, but hitting 20-29 home runs in ten campaigns.  He drove in 100+ runs in three seasons and scored 1,299 runs in his career. Baines hit .324, with five home runs, 16 RBI and 14 runs scored in 31 post-season contests.  Harold Baines played for the White Sox (1980-1989, 1996-1997, 2000-2001); Rangers (1989-1990); A’s (1990-1992); Orioles (1993-1995, 1997-2000); and Indians (1999).

Tough call here.  I’d like to see a year in which (Tim) Raines and Baines made the Hall of Fame – and Baines has some strong overall numbers.  However, the fact that he played more than half his games at DH works against him.  (To be elected as a DH, BBRT contends you to be more than a very good hitter, you have to be an exception batsman.) Close call, but BBRT would pass on Baines this year. I believe future Era Committees – after more DH’s (like, perhaps, Edgar Martinez) make the Hall – may give Baines stronger consideration. Still, Baines is my dark horse candidate.  If the Committee is inclined to select a player, I believe it will be Baines – it’s hard to ignore 22 seasons and nearly 2,900 hits.

Harold Baines’ best season:  Baines’ best MLB campaign may have been 1999, when – at age 40 – he made his final All Star team and hit .312, with 25 home runs and 103 RBI, playing for the Orioles and Indians. That season, Baines also hit .357 (5-for-16), with one home run and four RBI in four post-season (ALDS) games. 

Albert Belle (OF) – 1989-2000  Nickname: Joey

Albert Belle was a five-time All Star in a 12-season MLB career.  Belle was a power hitter who could also put the ball in play (381 career homers, .295 average). He led his league in runs scored once, doubles once, home runs once, RBI three times, total bases three times and slugging percentage twice.  He is the only player to hit 50 doubles and 50 home runs in the same seasons (1995 – 52 doubles and 50 homers, both league-leasing). He hit 30 or more home runs and drove in 100+ runs in eight straight seasons. He retired with 1,239 RBI and 974 runs scored. Belle also hit .405-6-14 in 18 post-season games.  Belle played for the Indians (1989-1996); White Sox (1997-1998); and Orioles (1999-2000).

A degenerative hip condition cut Belle’s career and chances on the traditional Hall of Fame ballot short (not to mention corked bat and issues with the media).  Those same factors would keep BBRT from voting for Belle and I also believe are likely to preclude his getting the 75 percent vote he needs from the Committee. Two or three more solid seasons (getting to the 1,500 RBI or 450 home run mark) would have been helpful.

Albert Belle’s best season:  In 1995, Belle hit .317 and led the AL in home runs (50); RBI (126); runs scored (121); doubles (50); total bases (377); and slugging percentage (.690). Note:  The following season Belle went .311-48-148, with 124 runs scored – but only led the league in RBI.  But what a pair of powerful campaigns.

Will Clark (1B) –  1985-2000  Nickname: Will the Thrill

Will Clark was a six-time all Star and one-time Gold Glover in 15 MLB seasons.  He was a career .303 hitter, with 2,176 hits, 284 home runs and 1,205 RBI.  He led his league in runs and RBI once each.  Clark hit a career high 35 home runs in 1987 and topped 20 home runs six times and 100 RBI four times.  He hit .300 or better ten times, including .301 in his final season (130 games split between the Orioles and Cardinals). In that final campaign, he hit .344-2-6 in eight post season games for the Cardinals. Overall, Clark played in 31 post season games, hitting .333-5-16.Clark played for the Giants (1986-1993); Rangers (1994-1998); Orioles (1999-2000); and Cardinals (2000).

Clark had a fine career, but BBRT thinks he’ll fall short of the 75 percent mark.

Will Clark’s best season: In 1989, with the Giants, Clark hit .333, with 23 home runs, 111 RBI and a league-leading 104 runs scored – finishing second in the NL MVP balloting. He was also MVP of the NL Championship Series, hitting .650, with two home runs and eight RBI in five games.

Orel Hershiser (SP) – 1983-2000   Nickname:  Bulldog

Orel Hershiser logged 18 season on the MLB mound – winning 204 games (150) losses, with a 3.48 ERA and 2,014 strikeouts in 3,130 1/3 innings.  Hershiser capturing the 1988 Cy Young Award (23-8, 2.26). He led his league in wins once, winning percentage once, complete games once, shutouts twice and inning pitched three times. Hershiser also won a Gold Glove in 1988 and a Silver Slugger Award in 1993 (when he hit .356 in 34 games for the Dodgers).  Hershiser was a 20+ game winner once and won 15 or more games in six seasons. He was a strong 8-3, 2.59 in 22 post-season games (18 starts).

BBRT does not see Hershiser getting 75-percent support. From 1985-1989,Hershiser was one of the top pitchers in  the game. Over those five seasons, he was 87-56, with a 2.69 ERA. He was, indeed, a “Bulldog” or, maybe more accurately, a workhorse. He pitched more than 230 innings in each of those seasons,  leading the league in innings pitched in 1987, 1988 ansd 1989.  All that work may have contributed to his 1990 shoulder surgery.  Then, from 1990-2000, Hershiser went 106-86, 4.17.  Note: Hershiser also led his league in losses twice and was above .500 in just nine of his 18 seasons. Hershiser played for the Dodgers (1983-1994, 2000); Indians (1995-1997); Giants (1998); ansd Mets (1999).

Hershiser may fall a handful of victories short of the Hall.

Orel Hershiser’s best season:  In 1988, Hershiser led the NL in wins with 23 (eight losses), complete games (15), shutouts (8), innings pitched (267), while recording a 2.26 ER and 178 strikeouts. That season he also set an MLB record, throwing 59 consecutive scoreless innings and earned the NL Championship Series and World Series MVP Awards.

Mark McGwire (1B) –  1985-2001  Nickname: Big Mac

No doubt about McGwire’s numbers: 583 home runs, 1,414 RBI, 1,167 runs scored (.263 average).  McGwire was the 1987 Al Rookie of the Year, a 12-time All Star, a three-time HR champ (a high of 70 in 1998, followed by 65 in 1999). He also led his league in slugging percentage four times, total bases four times, on base percentage twice – and even won a Gold Glove in 1990.  Yes, the numbers are there – but so is the PED controversy.  BBRT doesn’t think the voters are yet ready to forgive and forget.  McGwire played for the A’s (1986-1997) and Cardinals (1997-2001).

Mark McGwire’s best season: In 1998, McGwire hit .299, with a league-leading 70 home runs and 147 RBI.  He also led the NL in walks (162); on-base-percentage (.470) and slugging percentage .752).


Davey Johnson (1984-2013 … 17 seasons) 

After a 13-season playing career, Davey Johns managed 17 seasons in the majors. He put up a 1,372-1,071 won-lost record and his .588 winning percentage is 12th among managers with at least ten seasons at the helm. Johnson led the Mets to the 1986 World Series Championship – and made the post-season a total of six times.  He was name NL Manager of the Year in 1972 and 2012.  He finished in the top three in Manager of the Year voting seven times. During his playing career, Johnson was a four-time All Star and athree-time Gold Glover (2B). He finished with a .261 average, 136 home runs and 609 RBI. In 1973, Johnson hit 43 home runs, 42 as a second baseman (the single season record for the position).

I think the presence of Lou Piniella on the ballot (with nearly 500 more managerial victories than Johnson) dampens Johnson’s chances for election.

Lou Piniella (1986-2010 … 23 seasons)   Nickname: Sweet Lou

Lou Piniella photo

Photo by mikelachance816

Lou Piniella managed (Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Devil Rays, Cubs) for 23 seasons.  His 1,835 wins (1,713 losses) are the 14th most wins by a manager in MLB history. He led the Reds to the 1990 World Series Championship and his teams made seven post-season appearances.  He also managed the Mariners to an AL record 116 wins in the 2001 season.  Piniella was named AL Manager of the year in 1995 and 2001 (with the Mariners) and the NL Manager of the Year in 2008 (Cubs). He finished in the top three in Manager of the Year voting six times.

Piniella also had an 18-season MLB career as a player, hitting .291, with 1,705 hits, 102 home runs and 766 RBI. He was the 1969 Rookie of the Year with the Royals and made the post-season five times with the Yankees (two WS Championships). Piniella hit .305-3-19 in 44 post-season games.

Adding Piniella on-the-field career to his 1,835 wins and three Manage of the Year Awards and BBRT would vote him in.  (Actually, he’d get my vote on his managerial record alone).  I believe the Committee will also vote him in, but it will be close.


John Schuerholz


John Schuerholz built winners in Kansas City and Atlanta. Photo by The SABR Office

John Schuerholz began his MLB front office career with the Baltimore Orioles in 1967 as an Administrate Assistant to Minor League Clubs. He later spent 22 years in the Kansas City Royals’ operation: Farm Director (1967); Scouting Director (1977-1980); Assistant General Manager (1981); and General Manager (1982-1990).   While he was GM in Kansas City, the Royals became the first AL expansion team to win the World Series (1987).  Scheurholz went to the Atlanta Braves as General Manager in 1990 and held that position until 2007.  From 2008-2016 (when he became Vice Chairman of the team), he held the position of Braves’ President.  While Schuerholz was GM of the Braves, the team won 14 Division titles and the 1995 World Series Championship (making Schuerholz the first GM to win the WS title in both the American and National Leagues).

Schuerholz built consistent winners – and he would get BBRT’s vote for the Hall.  I predict the Today’s Game Era Committee will agree.

Bud Selig

Allan “Bud Selig” was MLB’s ninth Commissioner – serving as Acting Commissioner from 1992-1998 and Commissioner from 1998-2015.  Selig presided over two rounds of expansion, the establishment of interleague play, the creation of the Wild Card, strong increases in MLB revenues and attendance, and the development of the World Baseball Classic.  He also headed MLB during the 1994 baseball strike, had to deal with the PED issue, and introduced revenue sharing.

Selig’s tenure was not without controversy. The 1994 players strike led to the cancelling of the World Series for the first time since 1904. In 2001, Selig also voiced support for the contraction of two teams.  Selig also was criticized for declaring the 2002 All Star Game a “tie” after 11 innings and for not being proactive enough, early enough on the PED issue.

Other notable changes in MLB during Selig’s tenure as Commissioner: World Series home field advantage going to the league that wins the All Star Game (2003); introduction and expansion of instant replay (2008/2014); and the transfer of the Milwaukee Brewers from the American League to the National League (1998) and the Houston Astros from the National League to the American League (2013).

Before becoming Commissioner, Selig was team owner and president of the Milwaukee Brewers. (In 1970, he purchased the failing Seattle Pilots and moved them to Milwaukee.)  Under Selig’s leadership, the Brewers won seven Organization of the Year Awards.

BBRT predicts Bud Selig will get voted into the Hall – his years as Commissioner were truly historic.  BBRT, however, would cast my vote for Selig with reluctance.  (As a Minnesotan, I still have not forgiven Selig for that “contraction” episode.)

George Steinbrenner

George Steinbrenner purchased the New York Yankees in 1973 – and led the team until his death in 2010.  Under his ownership the vaunted Yankee franchise won 11 American League Pennants and seven World Series Championships.  Steinbrenner, known as a “hands-on” owner, was no stranger to controversy.  He  changed managers twenty times in his first 23 seasons as owner; he was a free-spender, credited (or criticized) by many for driving up the free agent market; he was quick to criticize players publicly if they did not live up to his expectations; he was suspended from baseball twice. How controversial was Steinbrenner?  In the summer of 1990, Steinbrenner was featured on the cover of NEWSWEEK magazine, heralded as the “most hated man in baseball.”

You cannot argue with Steinbrenner’s success on the field.  As an owner, he did what it took to buiild winning teams.  However, his leadership style and the controversies that surrounded him will likely keep him from getting 75 percent of the Committee’s votes.

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Member: The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

BBRT Looks at the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

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It’s official – the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) Hall of Fame ballots are out and the debate(s) can begin.  This year’s traditional ballot includes 15 holdovers from last year, along with 19 newcomers.  The basic rules for eligibility are that a player must have played at least ten seasons and be retired for at least five years. A player can remain on the ballot for up to ten years, but must receive at least five percent of the vote in the preceding year’s ballot to  remain eligible after the first year on the ballot.  Each voter can vote for up to ten candidates.  Election requires that a player be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots cast.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how BBRT would vote – if I had a ballot – as well at whom BBRT expects the BBWA to vote in.  Notably, BBRT tends to be less stingy then the BBWAA voters.  I’ll list a full roster of ten candidates (in order of my preference) who would receive my vote.

Spoiler Alert:  BBRT anticipates that four players will be elected.   I’m fairly confident about one first-timer (catcher Ivan Rodriguez) and two returnees (pitcher Trevor Hoffman, outfielder Tim Raines).  I also think 1B Jeff Bagwell has a very good chance to get the 75 percent necessary (he reached 71.6 percent a year ago), but he may be hurt by the fact that Tim Raines is in his last year on the ballot. Some of the more conservative voters may feel a need to choose between the two.  However, I’m including Bagwell on my list of projected inductees.  First-timer Vlad Guerrero is my dark horse for 2017.   I believe is is HOF-worthy, but BBWAA voters are notoriously tough on ballot newcomers.  BBRT note:  Last year, BBRT correctly predicted Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza would be elected.  However, I also incorrectly predicted a third inductee – Trevor Hoffman. 

BBRT’s Halll of Fame Ballot – If I Had One – With the Players Listed in BBRT’s Order of Preference.

Group One – Should Be No Doubt

Ivan Rodriguez (C – 1991-2011) – First year on the ballot.  Nicknames:  Pudge/I-Rod.

Ivan Rodriguez baseball photo

BBRT’s top choice on this year HOF ballot. Photo by Keith Allison

Ivan Rodriguez played 21 MLB seasons, putting up 2,844 hits, a .296 average, 311 home runs and 1,332 RBI. He was a 14-time All Star, 13-time Gold Glove Winner and won the AL MVP Award in 1999. Notably, his 2,749 hits as a catcher are the MLB record for the position. If any of the first-timers on the ballot capture the necessary votes, it’s likely to be I-Rod – with his combination of leather (13 Gold Gloves) and lumber (seven Silver Slugger Awards).  The BBWAA has, in the past, shown a tendency to demand more of “First-Ballot” candidates, but BBRT thinks Rodriguez has the goods and that the BBWAA will agree.  Rodriguez played for the Rangers (19991-2002 and 2009); Marlins (2003); Tigers (2004-2008); Yankees (2008); Astros (2009); and Nationals (2010-2011).

Ivan Rodriguez’ best season:  In 1999, as a Ranger, Rodriguez hit .332, with 35 home runs, 113 RBI and 116 runs scored in 144 games – earning a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger Award and the AL MVP Award. 

Trevor Hoffman (Relief Pitcher, 1993-2010) – Second year on the ballot, 68.3 percent support last year.

Trevor Hoffman baseball photo

His 601 saves should open the doors to the Hall this year. Photo by SD Dirk

In BBRT’s opinion, Trevor Hoffman should have been elected in his first year on the ballot. He is one of only two relievers in MLB history to reach 600 saves (601) – trailing only Mariano Rivera (652) all time. Hoffman and Rivera, in fact, are the only closers to reach 500 saves. (Note: Hoffman was also the first pitcher to reach the 500- and 600-save mark.)

Hoffman led the NL in saves twice and reached 30 or more saves 14 times (with a high of 53 in 1998). He had a career record of 61-75, with a 2.87 ERA over 1,089 1/3 innings in 1,035 games – averaging 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Hoffman, by the way, made his final All Star team at the age of 41, in a season in which he recorded 37 saves for the Brewers.  Hoffman pitched for the Marlins (1993); Padres (1993-2008); and Brewers (2009-10).  Hoffman’s 600 saves should be enough for the Hall..

Trevor Hoffman’s best season: In 1998, Hoffman appeared in 66 games for the Padres, converting 53 of 54 save opportunities.  On the season, he was 4-2 with a 1.48 ERA, striking out 86 hitters in 73 innings, while walking just 21. He was selected to the NL All Star team, finished second in the Cy Young Award voting and seventh in the MVP race.

Group Two – Debatable, But Clearly Deserving Support (and would have BBRT’s vote)

Lee Smith (Relief Pitcher, 1980-970) – 15th and final year on the ballot, 34.1 percent last year. Note:  When the HOF election rules changed from 15-year eligibility to 10-year eligibility, Smith was one of the players already on the ballot to be grandfathered in at the 15-year limit.

BBRT firmly believes Lee Smith has earned his place in the “Hall.”  However, last year, Smith got only 34.1 percent of the vote, just a slight increase over his 30.2 percent of the previous year.  While BBRT feels Smith has a strong case for the Hall, he’s not likely to make the 40-point leap it will take to get in. But consider his case.

Smith’s 478 saves put him third on the all-time list (he was number-one when he retired after the 1997 season). Smith led his league in saves four times and made seven All Star teams.  He recorded ten seasons of 30 or more saves and three campaigns of 40-plus saves.  Smith reached 30 or more saves in a season with four different teams (Cubs, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels). He had a 3.03 lifetime ERA and 1,251 strikeouts in 1,289 innings pitched.  Smith is also one of only three pitchers with more than 800 games finished lifetime (Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman are the others).  Couple all of this with the third most saves all time and Smith gets BBRT’s vote.

Smith pitched for the Cubs (1980-1987); Red Sox (1988-1990); Cardinals (1990-1993); Yankees (1993); Orioles (1994); Angels (1995-1996); Reds (1996); and Expos (1997).

Lee Smith’s best season:  In 1991, as a Cardinal, Smith went 6-3, with a 2.34 ERA, 47 saves, 73 innings pitched, 67 strikeouts and just 13 walks (five intentional). He was an All Star, finished second in the Cy Young Award voting and eighth in the MVP balloting.

Mike Mussina (Starting Pitcher, 1991-2008) – Fourth year on the ballot 43.0% last year. Nickname: Moose.

Mike Mussina built a 270-153 record, with a career 3.68 ERA and 2,813 strikeouts over 18 seasons. While only a 20-game winner once (in his final season, at age 39), Mussina won 18 or 19 games five times, leading the AL with 19 wins in 1995. In his first three full seasons  in the major leagues (1992-94), Mussina put up a .700 or better winning percentage each year (.783, .700, .762). His record over that span – for the Orioles – was 48-16.

Mussina was a five-time All Star and a seven-time Gold Glove winner. He recorded a .650 or better winning percentage in nine seasons, with a career (and league-leading) high of .783 in 1992. While the lack of a Cy Young Award on his resume may hurt him, he finished his career 117 games over .500 – and history says 100 or more wins than losses should be good for a ticket to the Hall. Mussina appeared in 23 post-season games, with a 7-8 record and a 3.42 ERA. He pitched for the Orioles (1991-2000) and Yankees (2000-2008). BBRT believes Mussina deserves (and will eventually be awarded) a spot in Cooperstown, but is unlikely to close the gap between 43 percent and the necessary 75 percent in this year’s voting.

Mike Mussina’s best season:  Mussina may have saved his best for last.  In his final season (as a Yankee), at age 39, he recorded his first twenty-win campaign.  That year, Mussina went 20-9, 3.37 – and proved his durability by leading the AL in starts with 34, logging his 11th season of 200 or  more innings pitched and earning his fifth Gold Glove

Jeff Bagwell (First Base, 1991-2005) – Seventh year on the ballot, 71.6 percent last year.


BBRT thinks it should be “Baggy’s” year.

In his 15-season MLB career, Bagwell collected 2,314 hits; smashed 449 home runs; stole 202 bases; and put up a .297 average. He also earned a Rookie of the Year Award (1991); a Most Valuable Player Award (1994); one Gold Glove; and four All Star selections.  He twice recorded seasons of 40 or more homers and 30 or more steals.  Bagwell drove in 100 or more runs in eight seasons, leading the league with 116 RBI in 1994 and reaching a high of 135 in 1997. He led the NL in runs scored three times, with a high of 152 in 2000. His .297 career average was bolstered by six seasons over .300. Bagwell was also one of MLB’s most durable and dedicated stars, playing in all 162 of the Astros’ games in four seasons and in at least 155 games in ten of his fifteen MLB campaigns.  Bagwell, who played his entire career with the Houston Astros, stands a good chance of reaching the 75 percent threshold in 2017.

Jeff Bagwell’s best season: Bagwell won the NL MVP Award, a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove in 1994, when he hit .368, with 39 home runs and 15 steals.  He also led the NL in RBI (118) and runs scored (104) in the strike-shortend campaign. (The Astros played 115 games.)

Tim Raines (Outfield, 1979-2001) – Tenth and final year on the ballot, 69.8 percent last year. Nickname: Rock.

BBRT is predicting (hoping) Tim Raines makes it in his last year on the ballot.

BBRT is predicting (hoping) Tim Raines makes it in his last year on the ballot.

Tim Raines returns for his tenth – and final –  year on the ballot.  After getting 69.8 percent last year, Raines should gain enough votes for induction in 2017.

Raines hit .294 over his 23-season MLB career, collecting 2,605 hits, 1,571 runs scored, 170 home runs, 980 RBI and 808 stolen bases (fifth all time). He was a seven-time All Star; led the NL in stolen bases four consecutive years (1981-84); had a streak of six seasons with at least 70 steals; won the NL batting title in 1986 with a .334 average; led the league in runs scored twice and doubles once. How much of a threat was Raines on the bases?   Over 23 seasons, he averaged 35 steals a year (and that included six seasons in which he played in less than half his team’s games).  Over his MLB career – from age 19 to 42 – Raines averaged 52 stolen bases for every 162 games played. In 34 post-season games, The Rock hit .270 with one home run, six RBI, 18 runs scored and three steals. Raines played for the Expos (1979-1990 and 2001);White Sox (1991-1995); Yankees (1996-1998); A’s (1999); Orioles (2001); and Marlins (2002).

Tim Raines’ best season:  Despite his  1986 batting title (.334 average), BBRT thinks Raines’ top season was 1983 (Expos) – 156 games, 179 hits, .298 average, league-leading 133 runs scored, 11 homers, 71 RBI, league-leading 90 steals.

Group Three – Get BBRT’s Vote, but Possible BBWAA Reservations are More Understandable

Jeff Kent (Second Base/Third Base/First Base, 1992-2008) –  Fourth year on the ballot; 16.6 percent last year.

BBRT believes Jeff  Kent is a deserving candidate.  Kent holds the all-time MLB record for home runs by a second baseman (351 of his 377 career round trippers were hit while playing second base). He has a healthy .290 career batting average; his 1,518 RBI are 54th all time; and his 560 doubles 27th.  Kent, in fact, has nine more career RBI than Mickey Mantle.

Kent was a five-time All Star and the 2000 NL MVP.  As primarily a middle infielder, he hit 20 or more home runs in 12 seasons (a high of 37 in 2007) and topped 100 RBI eight times. He hit .276, with nine home runs and 23 RBI in 49 post-season games. Kent has the credentials, but BBRT has a hunch the writers will make keep him on the bench – a couple of Gold Gloves, at this traditionally defense-oriented position, would have really helped his case.  Kent played for the Blue Jays (1992); Mets (1992-1996); Indians (1996); Giants (1997-2002); Astros (2003-2004); and Dodgers (2005-2008).

Jeff Kent’s best season: With the Giants in 2000, Kent put up these stats:  159 games; 196 hits; .334 average; 33 home runs; 125 RBI; 114 runs; 12 steals. His performance earned him the NL MVP Award.

Vlad Guerrero (Outfield/Dedsignated Hitter – 1996-2011) – First time on the ballot. Nicknames: Vladdy/Vlad the Impaler. 

When your nickname is Vlad the Impaler, you better put up some solid offensive numbers – and Vlad Guerrora did. BBRT’s dark horse candidate for induction this year (the stinginess of the writers with votes for first-timers may hurt him), Guerrero put up a .318 career batting average (2,147 games over 16 seasons), 449 career home runs (including eight seasons of 30+ and a high of 44 for the 2000 Montreal Expos) and 1,496 career RBI.  Guerrero had 13 seasons with a batting average of .300 or better (a high of .345 in 2000), 10 seasons of 100+ RBI, six seasons of 100+ runs scored and four campaigns of at least 200 hits.  Known (sometimes criticized) as a free swinger, Guerrero actually never struck out 100 times in a season.

In 2002, Guerrero missed joining the 40/40 club by one home run – hitting .336, with 39 home runs, 111 RBI and 40 stolen bases. He led his league in hits once, runs once and total bases twice, while making nine All Star squads and earning eight Silver Slugger Awards – and the 2004 AL MVP Award.   Guerrero hit .263-2-20 in 44 post-season contests.  Guerrero played for the Expos (1966-2203); Angels (2004-2009); Rangers (2010); and Oriioles (2011).

Vlad Guerrero’s best season: In 2002, Guerrero his .336 for the Expos, leading the NL in hits (206), while bashing 39 home runs, stealing 40 bases, driving in 111, scoring 106 and drawing a career-high 84 walks (versus 70 strikeouts).  He also led the NL in total bases with 364.

Edgar Martinez (Designated Hitter/Third Base, 1987-2004) – Fifth year on the ballot, 43.4 percent last year.  Nickname: Papi.

We’ve seen some prejudice against designated hitters in past voting, but Edgar Martinez clearly, and expertly, defined the DH role. In fact, in 2004, MLB renamed the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.

In an 18-season MLB career, Martinez was named to seven All Star teams; won a pair of batting titles (hitting a high of .356 in 1995); topped 100 RBI in six seasons (leading the league with 145 in 2000); and scored 100 or more runs five times (leading the league with 121 in 1995). He finished his career with a .312 average; 2,247 hits; 1,219 runs; 1,261 RBI; 309 home runs; and 514 doubles.  Martinez played his entire career for the Mariners.

Edgar Martinez’ best season: One of two here, In 1995, Martinez led the league in batting average (.356), runs scored (121) and doubles (52 doubles), adding  29 home runs and 113 RBI.  In 2005, Martinez put up a .324 average, 37 home runs, league-leading 145 RBI and 100 runs scored.

Larry Walker (OF, 1989-2005) – Seventh Year on the Ballot, 15.5 percent last year.

BBRT’s tenth – and final – selection, came down to Larry Walker’s three batting titles versus Billy Wagner’s 422 career saves – and it was a tough call. Back to BBRT’s admiration for “lumber AND leather,” Walker’s seven Gold Gloves were the difference maker. If you could cast 11 votes, Wagner would also get a BBRT nod.

Walker played 17 MLB seasons and retired with 2,160 hits, a .313 average and three batting titles.  Between 1997 and 2001, he hit .350 or better in four of five seasons. The five-time All Star hit 383 home runs (a high of 49 in 1997) and stole 230 bases  (a high of 33 in 1997).  Walker’s years in hitter friendly Colorado may be hurting his vote totals, but BBRT believes if you add his Gold Glove defense to a trio of batting titles, you have a Hall of Famer. Walker played for the Expos (1989-1994); Rockies (1995-2004); and Cardinals (2004-2005).

Larry Walker’s best season: In his 1997 NL MVP year (Rockies), Walker hit .366, with a league-leading 49 home runs. He drove in 130 runs, scored 143, rapped 46 doubles (led the league in total bases at 409 and slugging percetage at .720) – and even threw in 33 stlolen bases and a Gold Glove.  


So, there are BBRT’s ten choices.  Now, let’s look briefly at the remainder of the ballot – in alphabetical order – since just making it on the ballot deserves recognition.

Casey Blake (3B/1B/OF, 1999-2011) – First year on the ballot.

Blake had a .264 average, with 167 home runs and 616 RBI over 13 MLB seasons. A solid utility player, his best season was 2004, when he hit .271-28-88 for the Indians.  Blake played for the Blue Jays (1999); Twins (2000. 2001, 2002); Orioles (2001); Indians (2003-2008); Dodgers (2008-2011).

Barry Bonds (OF, 1986-2007) – Fifth year on the ballot, 44.3 percent a year ago.

No doubt about Bond’s credentials – .298 average, 2,935 hits, MLB-record 762 home runs, 1,996 RBI, MLB-record 2,558 walks. He was also a 14-time All Star, his league’s MVP a record seven times, and eight-time Gold Glove winner.  In 2001, Bonds hit .328, with an MLB-record 73 home runs and 177 RBI. And, I could go on.  Still, there are those PED’s – and elephant in the room that will keep Bonds out of the Hall.  We can expect him back on the ballot next year.  Bonds played for the Pirates (1986-1992) and the Giants (1993-2007).

Pat Burrell (OF, 2000-2011) – First time on the ballot.

Bureell hit .253 over 12 seasons, but showed some pop – 292 home runs and 976 RBI over 1,640 games. Burrell, whose nickname was “Pat the Bat,” hit .282, with 37 home runs and 116 RBI for the Phillies in 2002.  He had four seasons of 30+ home runs for the Phillies and finished seventh in the 2005 NL MVP balloting. Burrell played for the Phillies (2000-2008); Rays (2009-2010); and Giants (2010-2011).

Orlando Cabrera (SS/2B, 1997-2011) – First year on the ballot.

Cabrera was a two-time Gold Glover at shortstop, who could hold his own at the plate (.272 career average, with 123 home runs and 854 RBI).  He also flashed some speed, with 216 steals, including five seasons of twenty or more. His best year was 2003 (with the Expos), when he played in all 162 games and hit .297, with 17 home runs, 80 RBI, 95 runs scored and 24 steals.  He played for the Expos (1997-2004); Red Sox (2004); Angels (2005-2007); White Sox (2008); A’s (2009); Twins (2009); Reds (2010); Indians (2011); and Giants (2011).

Mike Cameron (OF, 1995-2011) – First time on ballot.

Cameron was a three-time Gold Glove centerfielder with a bit of speed and pop (278 career home runs and 297 stolen bases to go with a .249 average over 17 seasons). Cameron’s best season was 2011, when he was an All Star for the Mariners, hitting .267-25-110, with 38 steals and a Gold Glove. Cameron playeds for ther White Sox (1995-1998); Reds (1999); Mariners (2000-2003); Mets (2004-2005); Padres (2006-2007); Brewers (2008-2009); Red Sox (2010-2011); and Marlins (2011).

Roger Clemens (Starting Pitcher, 1984-2007) – Fifth time on the ballot, 45.2% last year.

Like Barry Bonds, Clemens has Hall-worthy stats:  354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts, seven Cy Young Awards, 1986 AL MVP. Clemens was a five-time 20-game winner (led the league in wins four times), seven-time ERA leader, five time league leader in strikeouts. Clemens also has 12 post-season wins, with 173 strikeouts in 199 post-season innings. His best season was 1986, when he went 24-4. 2.48 and won both the Cy Young and AL MVP Awards for the Red Sox.  Yes, he’s got the numbers, but the PED controversy stands between him and the Hall. Don’t think the BBWAA is ready yet, but he’ll continue on the ballot. Clemens pitched for the Red Sox (1984-1996); Blue Jays (1997-1998); Yankees (1999-2003, 2007); and Astros (2004-2006). .

Carlos Guillen (SS/2B/3B, 1998-2011) – First time on the ballot.

Guillen was a three-time All Star and put up a .285 average with 124 home runs and 660 RBI over 14 MLB seasons. His best season was 2007 (Tigers), when he hit .296, with 21 home runs and 102 RBI.   Notably, he was coming off a 2006 season, when he went .320-19-85 for Detroit. Guillen played for the Mariners (1998-2003) and Tigers (2004-1011).

Derek Lee (1B, 1997-2011) – First time on the ballot.

Derek was a first basemen who could flash leather (three Gold Gloves) and lumber (331 career home runs) and – in his prime – a little speed (from 2002 through 2005, he stole 67 bases). Led finished with a .281 career average (15 seasons), 331 home runs and 1,078 RBI. In his best season (2005, Cubs), he led the NL in hits (199), average (.335) doubles (50), slugging percentage .662) and total bases (393).  He also had 46 home runs, 107 RBI, 120 runs scored and 15 steals – and he earned a Gold Glove.  Lee has a good chance of returning for a second year on the ballot. Lee played for the Padres (1997); Marlins (1998-2003); Cubs (2004-2010); Braves (2010); Orioles (2011); and Pirates (2011).

Fred McGriff (1B, 1986-2004) Tenth- final year – on the ballot – 20.9 percent last year.

Known as “Crime Dog”, McGriff  was five-time All Star; who bashed 493 career home runs (led his league twice, hit 30 or more  home runs in a season ten times); topped 100 RBI eight times (career total 1,550); and put up a  .284 career average over 19 seasons.   In 2001, at age 37, he had perhaps his best season – splitting time betweeen the Rays (then Devil Rays) and Cubs – going .306-31-102.  McGriff is not likely to get in this time, despite his 493 round trippers (seven more certainly would have helped his case, as would a couple of 40+ HR seasons.  First base is just a highly competitive spot when it comes to the HOF.  McGriff was a top slugger at his peak (1988-93), but for most of his career more of a steady power source.  He played for the Blue Jays (1986-1990); Padres (1991-1993); Braves (1993-1997); Devil Rays (1998-2001, 2004); Cubs (2001-2002) and Dodgers (2003).

Melvin Mora (3B/OF/SS, 1999-2011) – First time on the ballot.

Mora was a two-time All Star, who surprised a lot of people with his .340-27-104 season for the 2004 Orioles.  Over 13 seasons, he averaged .277, hit 171 home runs and drove in 754.  Mora topped 25 home runs twice, 100 RBI twice and a .300 average twice.  His best campaign was the 2004 season already noted. He was also a .400 hitter (six-for fifteen) in nine post season games for the 1999 Mets .He played for the Mets (1999-2000); Orioles (2000-2009); Rockies (2010); and Diamondbacks (2011).

Magglio Ordonez (OF, 1997-2011) – First tie on the ballot.

I expect Ordonez, a five-time All Star, to stay on the ballot for more than one year.  Over his fifteen MLB season, Ordonez was a hitting machine – .309 career average, 294 home runs, 1,236 RBI. Further, in his best season (207 Tigers) he led the AL with a .363 average, hit 28 home runs, drove in 139, scored 117, collected 216 hits and smacked a league-leading 54 doubles.  Ordonez hit over .300 eleven times, launching 30 or more home runs four times, driving in 100+uins seven times and scoring at least 100 runs four times. He played for the White Sox (1997-2004) and Tigers (2005-2011).

Jorge Posada (C, 1995-2011) First time on the ballot.

Posada is a five-time All Star, who hit .273, with 275 home runs and 1,065 RBI in 17 seasons with the Yankees (solid numbers for a backstop). Perhaps more critical to Posada’s chances for the Hall are his 125 post-season games – .248-11-42 – and four World Series Championships. Then there is also that 2007 season, when he hit .338, with 20 home runs and 90 RBI.   I expect he will back on the ballot next year.  Posada played his entire MLB career for the Yankees.

Manny Ramirez (OF – 1993-2011) – First Year on the ballot.

Manny Ramirez played 19 MLB seasons, collecting 2,574 hits, a  .312 batting average, 555 home runs and 1,.831 RBI. Ramirez was a 12-time All Star and led the AL in average (2002), home runs (2004) and RBI (1999) once each.  Ramirez won nine Silver Slugger Awards, including eight consecutive (1999-2006), hit .285 with 29 home runs in 111 post season games and was the 2004 World Series MVP.  Ramirez clearly put up HOF-caliber numbers, but two PED-related suspensions will hurt his chances. Not this year, but he’ll be back.  Ramirez played for the Indians (1993-2000); Red Sox (2001-2008); Dodgers 2009-2010); and Rays (2011).

Edgar Renteria (SS, 1996-2011) – First time on ballot.

Renteria is a five-time All Star, three-time Silver Slugger winner and two-time Gold Glover. Over a 16-season MLB career, he hit a credible .286, with 140 home runs, 933 RBI and 1,200 runs scored. Renteria’s game also included speed on the base paths.  He stole 294 bases, including a high of 41 for the Marlins in 1998.  Renteria also hit .252, with three home runs, 23 RBI and nine steal in 66 post season games.  He was the MVP of the 2010 World Series (with the Giants), hitting .417 (seven-for-seventeen) with two home runs and six RBI.  He’s got a chance to return to the ballot. Renteria played for the Marlins (1996-1998); Cardinals (1999-2004); Red Sox (2005); Braves (2006-2007); Tigers (2008); Giants (2009-2010); and Reds (2011).

Arthur Rhodes (SP/RP, 1991-2011) – First time on the ballot.

If endurance were the key quality, Arthur Rhodes would have a shot at the Hall of Fame.  He lasted 20 years in the major leagues – running up an 87-80, 4.08 ERA record, with 33 saves. Rhodes was an All Star – for the first and only time – in 2010 (at age 40). That season, he went 4-4, 2.29, with 50 strikeouts in 55 innings (69 games) for the Reds.  His best season may have been 2001, when (as a Mariner) he appeared in 71 games, going 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA and three saves. That season he struck out 83 batters in 68 innings.Over his career, Rhodes took the mound for the Orioles (1991-1999); Mariners (2000-2003, 2008); A’s 2004); Indians (2005); Phillies (2006); Marlins (2008), Reds (2009-2010); Rangers (2011); and Cardinals (2011).

Freddy Sanchez (2B/3B/SS. 2002-2011) – First time on ballot.

Sanchez was a three-time All Star in his ten season MLB career, which was cut short by shoulder and back injuries. Sanchez’ chances to remain on the ballot will similarly cut short by injury.  However, it is notable that he retired with a .297 career average, three All Star Selections and the 2006 NL batting title (.344 for the Pirates).  His best year was 2004, when he hit an NL-leading .344, with six home runs, 85 RBI, 85 runs scored and 200 hits – as well as a league-leading 53 doubles. Sanchez played for the Red Sox (2002-2003); Pirates (2005-2009); and Giants (2010-2011).

Curt Schilling (Starting Pitcher , 1988-2007) – Fifth year on the ballot, 52.3 percent last year.

Schilling is a six-time All Star, with 216 career wins (three seasons of 20 or more wins) over a 20-season MLB career. He recorded 3,116 strikeouts (three seasons of 300 or more whiffs), led his league in wins twice, complete games four times, innings pitched twice and strikeouts twice. He was also the 2001 World Series co-MVP – and has an impressive 11-2, 2.23 ERA post-season record (19 starts). He is on the cusp for the HOF. However, his outspoken views, Mike Mussina’s 270-win total (likely he will gete in before Schilling) and the lack of a Cy Young Award may be working against Schilling’s vote-getting capacity. His best season was 2001, when he went 22-8 for the Diamondbacks (with a 2.98 ERA).  That year, he lead the league in wins, starts (5), complete games (6), innings pitched (256 2/3).  He’ll be back for another shot. Schilling pitched for the Orioles (1988-1990); Astros (1991); Phillies (1992-2000); Diamondbacks (2000-2003); and Red Sox (2004-2007).

Gary Sheffield (OF/DH/3B/SS, 1988-2009) – Third year on the ballot, 11.6 percent last year.

Sheffield is a nine-time All Star (in 22 MLB seasons) with 509 career home runs (topped 30 home runs in a season eight times , with a high of 43 in 2000); a 292 career average (hit .300+ in eight seasons); and 1,676 RBI.  He also won 1992 NL batting title (.330); topped 100 RBI eight times; topped 100 runs scored seven times. His best season was 1996 (Marlins), when he hit .314, with 42 home runs, 120 RBI, 188 runs scored and 16 steals.  Sheffield has the offensive numbers, but defensive questions and the shadow of PEDs are likely to keep him on the outside looking in.  He should return fo the ballot.  Sheffield played for the Brewers (1988-1991); Padres (1992-1993); Marlins (1993-19998); Dodgers (1998-2001); Braves (2002-2003); Yankees(2004-2006); Tigers (2008); and Mets (2009).

Sammy Sosa (OF, 1989-2007) – Fifth year on the ballot, 7.0 percent last year.

Sosa hit 609 home runs in 18 MLB seasons – winning two HR titles, topping sixty three times and also hitting 50 one year.  In the four seasons from 1998 to 2001, Sosa averaged 60 home runs and 149 RBI per season. His career numbers include a .273 average, 609 home runs, 1,667 RBI, 1,475 runs scored and 234 stolen bases (a high of 36 steals in 1993). Sosa was the 1998 NL MVP (Cubs), led his league in home runs twice, runs scored three times, RBI twice.    His best season was 1998 (Cubs), when he hit .308, with 66 home runs, a league-leading 158 RBI and league-leading 134 runs scored – and even tossed in 18 stolen bases. So, why is the seven-time All Star not in the Hall?  The PED shadow has darkened his chances.  He’s very close to being dropped from the ballot, but may gets a small boost this year. Sosa played for the Rangers (1989, 2007); White Sox (1989-1991); Cubs (1992-2004); and Orioles (2005).

Mike Stairs OF/1B, 1992-2011) – First year on the ballot.

Mike Stairs enjoyed a 19-year MLB career, hitting .262, with 265 home runs and 899 RBI.  His place on the ballot recognizes his ability to fill a role at the major league level. His best season was 1999 (A’s), when he hit .258, but slugged 38 home runs and drove in 102. In his career, Stairs hit 20 or more home runs six times and topped 100 RBI twice. Stairs played for the Expos (1992-1993); Red Sox (1995); A’s (1996-2000); Cubs (2001); Brewers (2002);  Pirates (2003); Royals (2004-2006); Rangers (2006); Tigers (2006); Blue Jays (2007-2008); Phillies (2008-2009); Padres (2010); and Nationals (2011).

Jason Varitek (C, 1997-2011) – First time on the ballot.

A three-time All Star, Varitek caught an MLB-record (tying) four no-hitters.  His resume also includes a Gold Glove and Silver slugger Award (both in 2005) and three All Star selections. For his 15-seasn MLB career – all with the Red Sox –  Varitek hit .256, with 193 home runs and 757 RBI. His best season was 2003, when he hit .273, with 25 home runs and 85 RBI. In his Silver Slugger/Gold Glove year, he hit .281, with 22 home runs and 70 RBI.

Billy Wagner (RP, 1995-2010) – Second year on the ballot, 10.5 percent last year.

Wagner is a seven-time All Star, who amassed 422 saves (fifth all-time) in a 16-season MLB career.  He had nine seasons of 30 or more saves; a career ERA of 2.31; 1,196 career strikeouts in 903 innings; and 47-40 won-lost record.  His best season was 2003, when he went 1-4, 1.78 for the Astros, saving 44 games amne fanning 105 batters in 86 inings.  BBRT thinks he belong in the Hall (based on his 400+ saves) – and hopes that momentum starts to build.  Wagner played for the Astros (1995-2003); Phillies (2004-2005); Mets (2006-2009); Red Sox (2009); and Braves (2010).

Tim Wakefield  (SP/RP, 1992-2011) – First Year on the ballot.

Wakefield didn’t make the majors until age 25, and still logged 19 MLB seasons. He finished with 200 wins (180 losses), a 4.41 ERA and 23 SAVES.  While those numbers are not likely to put Wakefiled in the Hall, a 19-year MLB career is to be celebrated.   His best year was 1995, when he went 16-8, 2.95 for the Red Sox and finished third in the Cy Young Award balloting. Wakefield pitched for the Pirates (1992-1993) and Red Sox (1995-2011)).

Coming Soon – A Look at the “Today’s Era” ballot.

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.




Heavy Metal – A Gold Glove and Sliver Slugger in the Same Season

Ivan Rodriguez won the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards in the same season a record six consecutive years. Photo by raisethejollyroger dot com

Ivan Rodriguez won the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove Awards in the same season a record six consecutive years.
Photo by raisethejollyroger dot com

It’s MLB’s awards seasons and we are all hearing a lot about the major awards like Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young Award and MVP.  In this post, I’d like to look at some of the recognitions that have garnered less publicity – the Silver Slugger (for the season’s best offensive performance at each position) and the Gold Glove (for the season’s best defensive performance at each position). If you follow BBRT, you know that I am particularly partial to players that can flash “leather and lumber.”  So, this post will focus primarily on players who, in 2016, captured what BBRT terms “MLB’s Heavy Metal Double Play” – winning a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove in the same season.

Note: If you’d like to see BBRT’s key award predictions (made in October before the finalists were announced), click here.

This past season, four players earned both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger:  Rockies’ 3B Nolan Arenado; Cubs’ 1B Anthony Rizzo; Royals’ C Salvador Perez; and Red Sox’ RF Mookie Betts.  Let’s take a look at the performance of each of these well-rounded athletes – as well as players who have won a Sliver Sluggers and Gold Glove in the same season in the past.

Nolan Arenado – Third Base, Rockies

Nolan Arenado photo

Nolan Arenado – fourth consecutive Gold Glove, second straight Silver Slugger. Photo by jenniferlinneaphotography

Let me start off by saying that the Rockies’ 25-year-old 3B is my current favorite player.  I’ve always been partial to third base – Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews was my childhood hero and remains my favorite player of all-time – and nobody plays the hot corner better than Arenado.  This is his fourth MLB season and his fourth Gold Glove. This season, he led all 3B in assists (378) and Defensive Runs Saved (20). In addition, he won the Fielding Bible Award as the best defensive 3B in MLB and had the highest (very statistically driven) SABR Defensive Index (SBI) among National League 3B (only the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre had a higher SBI).

On offense, Arenado earned his second straight Silver Slugger Award by hitting .294, while leading the league (for the second season in a row) in both home runs (41) and RBI (133). He also finished second in the NL in runs scored (116).



Anthony Rizzo, First Base, Cubs

Anthony rizzo cubs photo

Anthony Rizzo joins the “Leather and Lumber” club. Photo by apardavila

The 27-year-old Cubs’ 1B picked up his first Gold Glove and first Silver Slugger in his sixth MLB season. In the field, he led all MLB 1B in assists (125) and Defensive Runs Saved (11). Like Arenado (see above), Rizzo also won the Fielding Bible Award as the game’s best defensive 1B in 2016 and had the highest SABR Defensive Index among first sackers.

At the plate, the left-handed hitting Rizzo hit .292, with 32 home runs and 109 RBI – making his third straight All Star squad.  It was Rizzo’s third straight year with 30+ home runs and second consecutive seasaon of 100+ RBI.

Salvador Perez, Catcher, Royals

Photo by Keith Allison

Sal;vado Perez – fourth Gold Glove, first Sliver Slugger. Photo by Keith Allison

In 2016, Royals’ backstop, 26-year-old, Salvador Perez picked up his fourth consecutive Gold Glove and made his fourth consecutive All Star team. Perez led all MLB C in assists (77), had the AL’s second-best caught stealing percentage 42.9%) and was second only to the Giants’ Buster Posey in Defensive Runs Saved (11 to Posey’s 12). He also had the highest Society for American Baseball Research Defensive Index among catchers (tied with the Tigers’ James McCann at 8.7).

At the plate, Perez earned his first Silver Slugger Award, hitting .247, with 22 home runs and 64 RBI.






Mookie Betts, Right Field, Red Sox

Mookie Betts photo

Mookie Betts – Does it all. Photo by Dennis Heller

Mookie Betts (now 24-years-old) won his first Gold Glove and his first Silver Slugger award in his third MLB season (second full season). Betts led all MLB RF in putouts with 346 and was second in assists with 14.   He led all of MLB in Defensive Runs Saved at 32, ten ahead of second-place finisher, White Sox’ RF Adam Eaton.

At the plate, Betts hit .318, with 31 home runs, 113 RBI, 122 runs scored and 26 steals – a true five-tool star.






So, there are your 2016 “Heavy Metal Double Play” winners.  Now, here’s an update on those who have won both awards in the same season in the past. (The past, by the way, goes back to 1980, when the Silver Slugger Award was established.  Since 1980, the combination of a Gold Glove/Silver Slugger has been achieved 178 times by 98 different players.  You’ll find a complete list of the players who have earned recognition as the offensive and defensive leader in their respective leagues later in this post. (I’m also including lists of 2016’s individual Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winners). Since the Silver Slugger is awarded to three outfielders annually regardless of their position (LF, CF, RF), the Silver Slugger and GG/SS combo lists in this post do not break outfielders out by position.

  • The fewest GG/SS combo winners in a single season is one – Dodgers’ 1B Adrian Gonzalez in 2014.
  • The most players to achieve the GG/SS combo in a season is nine – back in 1984: Lance Parrish, C, Tigers; Keith Hernandez, 1B, Mets; Eddie Murray, 1B, Orioles; Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs; Lou Whitaker, 2B, Tigers; Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies; Buddy Bell, 3B, Rangers; Dave Winfield, OF, Yankees; Dale Murphy, OF, Braves.
  • Ivan Rodriguez (C), Ken Griffey, Jr. (OF) and Barry Bonds (OF) each won the double (Silver Slugger/Gold Glove) crown in a season an MLB-record seven times.
  • Ivan Rodriguez won the SS/GG combo for his position a record six consecutive seasons (1995-1999).
  • Roberto Alomar (2B) is the only player to win the single-season Gold Glove/Silver Slugger combo with three different teams (Blue Jays-1992; Orioles-1996; Indians-1999, 2000)
  • Mike Hampton is the only pitcher to win the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove in the same season (Braves – 2003).
  • Scott Rolen (3B) is the only player to win the SS/GG combo in a season in which he played for two different teams (2002, Phillies/Cardinals). Rolen was traded from the Phillies to the Cardinals on July 29. He played 100 games for the Phillies and 55 for the Cardinals in his only SS/GG combo season.
  • Adrian Gonzalez (1B) and Matt Williams (3B) are the only players to capture a SS/GG single-season combination in both the AL and NL. Gonzalez – Dodgers-2014; Red Sox-2011. Williams – Indians-1997; Giants-1993-1994.
  • The only team to have three SS/GG winners in the same season is the 1993 Giants (Robby Thompson (2B), Matt Williams (3B), Barry Bonds (OF).
  • Outfielders have achieved the SS/GG combo most often (66 times), but if you factor in the potential to outfielders to achieve three combos each season, second baseman have been most successful, putting up 28 SS/GG seasons.
  • The top team in terms of SS/GG seasons is the Yankees (13).
  • In the NL, the Rockies, Nationals/Expos, Giants, Cubs and Cards have each had a league leading nine SS/GG winners.
  • The White Sox are the only teams to never have a player win a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger in the same season.


Full List of Same Year Gold Glove/Silver Slugger Winners by Season


Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies

Mookie Betts, Of, Red Sox

Salvador Perez, C, Royals

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs


Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks

Dee Gordon, 2B, Marlins

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies

Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants.


Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers


Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks

J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles

Adam Jones, OF, Orioles


Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals

Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees

Chase Headley, 3B, Padres

Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates


Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox

Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies

Jacob Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox

Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers


Joe Mauer, C, Twins

Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals

Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies

Carl Crawford, OF, Rays

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies


Joe Mauer, C, Twins

Mark Tiexiera, 1B, Yankees

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals

Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees

Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers

Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners

Torii Hunter, OF, Angels


Joe Mauer, C, Twins

Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox

David Wright, 3B, Mets

Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians


Russell Martin, C, Dodgers

Placido Polanco, 2B, Tigers

David Wright, 3B, Mets

Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies

Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets

Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners


Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees

Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets


Jason Veritek, C, Red Sox

Mark Tiexierea, 1B, Rangers

Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs

Andruw Jones, OF, Braves


Ivan Rodriguez, C, Tigers

Jim Edmonds, OF, Cardinals


Brett Boone, 2B, Mariners

Edgar Renteria, SS, Cardinals

Alex Rodriguez, SS, Rangers

Mike Hampton, P, Braves


Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies

Scott Rolen, 3B, Cardinals/Phillies

Eric Chavez, 3B, A’s

Edgar Renteria, SS, Cardinals

Alex Rodriguez, SS, Rangers


Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies

Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners


Roberto Alomar, 2B, Indians

Darin Erstad, OF, Angels


Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Robert Alomar, 2B, Indians

Larry Walker, OF, Rockies

Ken Griffey, Jr., OF, Mariners

Shawn Green, OF, Blue Jays


Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Rafael Palmeiro, 1B, Rangers

Ken Griffey, Jr. OF, Mariners


Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Craig Biggio, 2B, Astros

Chuck Knoblauch, 2B, Twins

Matt Williams, 3B, Indians

Larry Walker, OF, Rockies

Barry Bonds, OF, Giants

Ken Griffey, Jr, OF, Mariners


Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Roberto Alomar, 2B, Orioles

Ken Caminiti, 3B, Padres

Barry Larkin, SS, Reds

Barry Bonds, OF, Giants

Ken Griffey, Jr. OF, Mariners


Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Craig, Biggio, 2B, Astros

Barry Larkin, SS, Reds


Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Jeff Bagwell, 1B, Astros

Craig Biggio, 2B, Astros

Matt Williams, 3B, Giants

Wade Boggs, 3B, Yankees

Barry Bonds, OF, Giants

Ken Griffey, Jr., OF, Mariners


Robby Thompson, 2B, Giants

Matt Williams, 3B, Giants

Jay Bell, SS, Pirates

Barry Bonds, OF, Giants

Ken Griffey, Jr, OF, Mariners


Roberto Alomar, 2B, Blue Jays

Larry Walker, OF, Expos

Andy Van Slyke, OF, Pirates

Barry Bonds, OF, Pirates

Kirby Puckett, OF, Twins


Will Clark, 1B, Giants

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Cal Ripken, Jr., SS, Orioles

Barry Bonds, OF, Pirates

Ken Griffey, Jr., OF, Mariners


Benito Santiago, C, Padres

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Kelly Gruber, 3B, Blue Jays

Barry Bonds, OF, Pirates

Ellis Burks, OF, Red Sox


Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Eric Davis, OF, Reds

Kirby Puckett, OF, Twins

Tony Gwynn, OF, Padres


Benito Santiago, C, Padres

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Andy Van Slyke, OF, Pirates

Kirby Puckett, OF, Twins


Don Mattingly, 1B, Yankees

Ozzie Smith, SS, Cardinals

Tony Gwynn, OF, Padres

Eric Davis, OF, Reds

Kirby Puckett, OF, Twins

Andre Dawson, OF, Cubs


Don Mattingly, 1B, Yankees

Frank White, 2B, Royals

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies

Tony Gwynn, OF, Padres

Kirby Puckett, OF, Twins


Don Mattingly, 1B, Yankees

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Lou Whitaker, 2B, Tigers

Tim Wallach, 3B, Expos

George Brett, 3B, Royals

Willie McGee, OF, Cardinals

Dale Murphy, OF, Braves

Dave Winfield, OF, Yankees


Lance Parrish, C, Tigers

Keith Hernandez, 1B, Mets

Eddie Murray, 1B, Orioles

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Lou Whitaker, 2B, Tigers

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies

Buddy Bell, 3B, Rangers

Dave Winfield, OF, Yankees

Dale Murphy, OF, Braves


Lance Parrish, C, Tigers

Eddie Murray, 1B, Orioles

Lou Whitaker, 2B, Tigers

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies

Dale Murphy, OF, Braves

Dave Winfield, OF, Yankees

Andre Dawson, OF, Expos


Gary Carter, C, Expos

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies

Robin Yount, SS, Brewers

Dale Murphy, OF, Braves

Dave Winfield, OF, Yankees


Gary Carter, C, Expos

Manny Trillo, 2B, Phillies

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies

Andre Dawson, OF, Expos

Rickey Henderson, OF, A’s

Dwight Evans, OF, Red Sox

Dusty Baker, OF, Dodgers


Keith Hernandez, 1B, Cardinals

Cecil Cooper, 1B, Brewers

Andre Dawson, OF, Expos

Willie Wilson, OF, Royals


Your  Gold Glove/Silver Slugger combo winners listed alphabetically:

Alomar, Roberto … 1992; 1996; 1999; 2000

Altuve, Jose … 2015

Arenado, Nolan … 2015; 2016

Baker, Dusty … 1981

Bagwell, Jeff … 1994

Bell, Buddy … 1984

Bell, Jay (SS) … 1993

Beltre, Adrian (3B) … 2011

Beltran, Carlos (OF) … 2006; 2007

Biggio, Craig (2B) … 1994; 1995; 1997

Mookie Betts (OF) … 2016

Boggs, Wade (3B) … 1994

Bonds, Barry … 1990; 1991; 1992; 1993; 1994; 1996; 1997

Boone, Brett … 2003

Brett, George … 1985\

Burks, Ellis … 1990

Caminiti, Ken … 1996

Cano, Robinson … 2010; 2012

Carter, Gary … 1981; 1982

Chavez, Eric … 2002

Clark, Will … 1991

Cooper, Cecil …1980

Crawford, Brandon … 2015

Crawford, Carl … 2010

Dawson, Andre … 1980; 1981; 1983; 1987

Davis, Eric … 1987; 1989

Edmonds, Jim … 2004

Ellsbury, Jacob … 2011

Erstad, Darin … 2000

Evans, Dwight … 1981

Goldschmidt, Paul … 2015

Gonzalez, Adrian … 2011; 2014

Gonzalez, Carlos … 2010

Gordon, Dee … 2015

Green, Shawn … 1999

Griffey, Ken Jr. … 1991; 1993; 1994; 1996; 1997; 1998; 1999

Gruber, Kelly … 1990

Gwynn, Tony … 1986; 1987; 1989

Hampton, Mike … 2003

Hardy, J.J. … 2013

Headley, Chase … 2012

Helton, Todd … 2002

Henderson, Rickey … 1981

Hernandez, Keith … 1980; 1984

Hunter, Torii … 2009

Jeter, Derek … 2006; 2009

Jones, Adam … 2013

Jones, Andruw … 2005

Kemp, Matt … 2009; 2011

Knoblauch, Chuck … 1997

Larkin, Barry … 1995; 1996

LaRoche, Adam  … 2012

Lee, Derrek … 2005

Martin, Russell … 2008

Mattingly, Don … 1985; 1986; 1987

Mauer, Joe … 2008; 2009; 2010

McCutchen, Andrew … 2012

McGee, Willie … 1985

Molina, Yadier … 2013\

Murphy, Dale … 1982; 1083; 1984; 1985

Murray, Eddie … 1983; 1984

Palanco, Placido … 2007

Palmeiro, Rafael … 1998

Parrish, Lance … 1983; 1984

Pedroia, Dustin … 2008

Salvador, Perez … 2016

Phillips, Brandon … 2011

Puckett, Kirby … 1986; 1987; 1988; 1989; 1992

Pujols, Albert … 2010

Renteria, Edgar … 2002

Ripken, Cal, Jr. … 1991

Anthony Rizzo … 2016

Rodriguez, Alex … 2002; 2003

Rodriguez, Ivan … 1994; 1995; 1996; 1997; 1998; 1999; 2004

Rolen, Scott … 2002

Rollins, Jimmy … 2007

Sandberg, Ryne … 1984; 1985; 1988; 1989; 1990; 1991

Santiago, Benito … 1988; 1990\

Schmidt, Mike … 1981; 1982; 1983; 1984; 1986

Sizemore, Grady … 2008

Smith, Ozzie … 1987\

Suzuki, Ichiro … 2001; 2007; 2009

Thompson, Robby … 1993

Tiexiera, Mark … 2005, 2009

Trillo, Manny … 1981

Tulowitzki, Troy … 2010; 2011

Van Slyke, Andy … 1988; 1992

Varitek, Jason … 2005

Walker, Larry … 1992; 1997; 1999

Wallach, Tim … 1985

White, Frank … 1986

Whitaker, Lou … 1983; 1984; 1985

Williams, Matt … 1993; 1994; 1997

Wilson, Willie … 1980

Winfield, Dave … 1982; 1983; 1984; 1985

Wright, David … 2007; 2008

Yount, Robin … 1982

Ryan Zimmerman … 200


2016 Silver Slugger Award Winners

Catcher:  Salvador Perez, Royals/Wilson Ramos, Nationals

First Base:  Miguel Cabrera, Tigers/Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

Second Base: Jose Altuve, Astros/Daniel Murphy, Nationals

Third Base:  Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays/Nolan Arenado, Rockies

Shortstop:  Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox/Corey Seager Dodgers


Mike Trout, Angels/Mark Trumbo, Orioles/Mookie Betts, Red Sox

Charlie Blackmon, Rockies/Christian Yelich, Marlins/Yeonis Cespedes, Mets

Pitcher:  Jake Arrieta, Cubs

DH:  David Ortiz, Red Sox


2016 Gold Glove Winners

Catcher:  Salvador Perez, Royals/Buster Posey, Giants

1B:  Mitch Moreland, Rangers/Anthony Rizzo, Cubs

2B:  Ian Kinsler, Tigers/Joe Panik, Giants

3B:  Adrian Beltre, Rangers/Nolan Arenado, Rockies

SS:  Francisco Lindor, Indians/Brandon Crawford, Giants

LF:  Brett Gardner, Yankees/Starling Marte, Pirates

CF:  Kevin Kiermaier, Rays/Ender Inciarte, Braves

RF:  Mookie Betts, Red Sox/Jason Heyward, Cubs

Pitcher:  Dallas Keuchel, Astros/Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research; The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance

ball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers

John Wesley Donaldson – A Hall of Fame Worth Legacy … Built on 400+ Victories

Leroy “Satchel’ Paige – Bullet Joe Rogan – Bob Gibson – Fergie Jenkins – Smokey Joe Williams – John Wesley “Cannon Ball” Donaldson.  Six great Black hurlers, who all brought lightening to the mound.  Six ferocious competitors who could strike fear in the hearts and minds of batters.  Six moundsmen who drew crowds and piled up strikeouts at an impressive pace. Six pitchers consistently discussed as among the best of their time by those who took the field against them. FIVE members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

John Wesley Donaldson Photo: Courtesy of The Donaldson Network.

John Wesley Donaldson
Photo: Courtesy of Bertha (MN) Historical Society and The Donaldson Network.

In this post, I’d like to take a look at the career of the only one of the above-mentioned pitchers not in the Baseball Hall of Fame – John Donaldson – but whose legacy is clearly Hall of Fame worthy.  I should add that this reflection would not be possible without the years of research conducted by Peter Gorton and The Donaldson Network – an organization dedicated to generating the recognition (and Hall of Fame plaque) that Donaldson deserves. The article was, in fact, prompted by a recent presentation Gorton made before the Halsey Hall Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research.  For even more information, I suggest you visit The Donaldson Network’s page at or (after reading this post, of course) click here.





The date was December 9, 1917 and the Los Angeles White Sox were facing the California Winter League defending Champion San Pedro Merchants in San Pedro.  (BBRT note: The California Winter League is generally recognized as the first U.S.  integrated league in the 20th Century. The teams themselves were not integrated, but all-Black teams were included in the league.)

On the mound for the LA Team was John Wesley “Cannonball” Donaldson, star hurler from the barnstorming All Nations squad – considered by many to be “the greatest colored pitcher of his time.”  Starting for San Pedro was Pete Schendler – a 20-game winner for the Cincinnati Reds during the 1917 National League season. The San Pedro lineup, in fact, was made up of all major leaguers.

The Los Angeles squad emerged as 5-3 victors.  Of even more significance is the performance of Donaldson against San Pedro’s all-white, all-major league squad. Donaldson pitched a complete-game, six-hitter, fanning sixteen batters.

John Donaldson was a well-traveled practitioner of the baseball arts. His playing career touched four decades (1908-1941) and he wore the uniforms of at least 25 teams and took the mound on more than 550 ball fields.  Donaldson’s collection of home jerseys stretched from coast-to-coast and in between – Brooklyn Royal Giants, Chicago American Giants, Kansas City Monarchs, Los Angeles White Sox. Here in BBRT’s home state of Minnesota, Donaldson twirled his mound magic for teams in Bertha, Lismore, Madison, Melrose, Arlington and St. Cloud.  He also starred internationally, pitching for several Canadian squads.

Over his 34-year career, Donaldson pitched pretty much wherever he could draw a crowd and a paycheck and against pretty much anyone willing to step in the batter’s box and face him. The Donaldson Network has documented 401 victories (157 losses) and 4,987 strikeouts for the lean and limber Donaldson – as well as 14 no-hitters, two perfect games and 25 games of 20 or more strikeouts.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

John Wesley Donaldson was born February 20, 1891 in Glasgow, Missouri. It’s reported that he was a good student and a superb athlete. (Donaldson graduated from the integrated Evans High School with honors and attended George Smith College in Sedalia, Missouri before deciding to concentrate on baseball.) He began pitching in grade school and, as a sixth-grader, led his school’s team to the regional championship.

As a teenager, Donaldson pitched for the Missouri Black Tigers (Higbee, MO) in 1908 and the Hannaca Blues (Glasgow) in 1909-1910.  Donaldson, however, really began building his reputation as the “greatest colored pitcher of his time” when he left college and joined the Black barnstorming Brown’s Tennessee Rats in 1911. During that season, Donaldson won 41 games against just three losses – foreshadowing a long and successful career on the mound.


On September 14, 1911, John Donaldson took the mound for the barnstorming Brown’s Tennessee Rats versus a team from Humboldt, Iowa.  The Rats won 4-3 in 18 innings, with Donaldson tossing a complete game, fanning 31 batters and giving up no hits after the sixth inning. BBRT note: Just three days later, in LeHigh, Iowa, Donaldson pitched a complete-game, 19-strikeout, shutout.

donaldsonposterIn 1912, Donaldson moved to the All Nations multi-racial team operated by future Hall of Fame baseball executive J.L. Wilkinson. The All Nations team – composed of Black, White, Native American, Latino, Hawaiian and Asian players – was one of the country’s most successful barnstorming clubs. Donaldson proved one of the most dominant pitchers in the game while with the All Nations squad.  In his first two seasons, he won eighty games, while losing only five – consistently racking up double-digit strikeout totals.

Baseball Hall of Fame (enshrined in 2006) executive/entrepreneur J.L. Wilkinson termed John Donaldson, “One of the greatest pitchers that ever lived – white or black.” 

The year 1917 was a notable one for Donaldson.  It was the year the major leagues came calling. Reports show that Donaldson was offered $10,000 to travel to Cuba, change his name and return to the U.S. to play big league ball as a Cuban.  The major league offer required him to renounce his family and all association with “colored” people in order to maintain his “Cuban” identity. Donaldson flatly refused the offer and, with that refusal, lost his only shot at the all-white hallowed fields of the major leagues. That same year, the impact of World War I reached America.  The baseball season closed and the All Nations team was dissolved. Pressure from the looming Railway Control Act grounded the ability of barnstorming clubs to travel. For the next few years, Donaldson’s career “settled” and he enjoyed “home field advantage” for the first time since his teenage years (although with a number of different established clubs.)

Just as Donaldson’s on-field life settled in 1917, he settled in off the field as well – marrying Eleanor Watson of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Donaldson’s marriage lasted until his death in 1970 and had an impact on both his baseball career and Minnesota’s baseball history.

Donaldson’s next contracts were signed with a series of top-notch All-Black teams including the Brooklyn Royal Giants, New York Lincoln Giants, Indianapolis ABC’s and Detroit Stars.  When the Negro League was officially formed in 1920, Donaldson was again paired with his old boss, J.L. Wilkinson, who signed him for the Kansas City Monarchs. Donaldson would become one of the best centerfielders in the league. He anchored the Monarchs with his five-tool ability, pitching less and presiding over a club that would become the most successful franchise in the history of Negro League baseball. During his tenure with the Monarchs (1920-23), Donaldson also played for and managed the revived All Nations barnstorming team, now traveling by automobile.

In 1924, Donaldson returned to his wife Eleanor’s home state of Minnesota – signing a contract with the semi-pro Bertha Fisherman for the princely sum of $325 per month. (BBRT note: It is reported the Donaldson received $1,478 for his season’s work – $18 more than the combined salary for the rest of the Bertha squad.)  It was a solid investment, as the team won games, drew large crowds and turned a profit behind Donaldson’s electrifying left arm. For the season, the team (Central and Northwest Minnesota Champions) went 21-5 (with one tie). Donaldson’s record was 21-3 (yes, he recorded all 21 Bertha victories), and he struck out 325 batters in 211 innings. Donaldson also led the team with a .439 batting average.


Minnesotans should take special pride in John Donaldson’s accomplishments. He played for or against teams in more than 130 towns and cities across the state. Nearly 150 of Donaldson’s documented victories (147 to be more exact) were recorded on Minnesota ball fields, as were 1,871 of his documented 4,987 strikeouts.  In 189 documented games pitched in Minnesota, Donaldson averaged just over 9.9 strikeouts per contest. Segregation in the major leagues forced Donaldson to seek baseball stardom in the Gopher State and Minnesota benefitted.   

Video of John Donaldson. Courtesty of W.T. Oxley and the Donaldson Network.

Video of John Donaldson. Courtesty of W.T. Oxley and the Donaldson Network.  TO VIEW VIDEO, CLICK

Donaldson followed up with a stellar season for Bertha in 1925, before moving on to the Lismore (MN) Gophers in 1926.  Lismore signed the profitable lefty for $450 a month, the use of a furnished house and the opportunity to pick up extra money pitching for other teams on off-days.  Not to be repetitious but – continuing to go where he could make the best living on the mound – from 1928 to 30, Donaldson racked up wins and strikeouts for teams in towns like: Bertha; Melrose, Minnesota; Scobey, Montana; and St. Cloud, Minnesota; as well as for barnstorming squads like the Colored House of  David.

In the early 1930’s, Donaldson – now entering his forties – played for such squads as his own John Donaldson All Stars (1931-33); The Kansas City Monarchs (1931 and 1934); Joe Green’s Chicago Giants (1934-37); and even Satchel Paige’s All Stars. Even as his career wound down, he continued to display the skills that had made him one of the most sought after ballplayers over the previous two decades.


On June 3, 1934 – the then 43-year-old John Donaldson – went to the mound for Joe Green’s Chicago Giants against the People’s Club in Rockford, Illinois. Donaldson threw a complete-game, one-hit shutout, fanning 23 batters on the way to a 3-0 win.

Just how good was John Donaldson?  Here are comments from a few who saw him pitch:

  • Hall of Fame shortstop and manager John Henry “Pop” Lloyd said Donaldson was the greatest pitcher he ever faced.
  • Negro League ambassador Buck O’Neil said; “John Donaldson … showed Satchel (Paige) the way, and the fact is, there are many people who saw them both who say Donaldson was just as good as Satchel.”
  • Hall of Famer manager John McGraw said “I think he is the greatest I have ever seen.”


  • 401 victories
  • 4,987 strikeouts
  • 14 no-hitters; two perfect games
  • A 31-strikeout game (18 innings)
  • 24 games of 20 or more strikeouts
  • Three consecutive 500-strikeout seasons

*You can put an “at least” in front of all these statistics. These are just the victories and strikeouts documented thus far by The Donaldson Network.

While Donaldson clearly made history on the field, he is also credited with making it off the field.  In 1949, the Chicago White Sox hired Donaldson as the first full-time African-American scout in the major leagues.  The White Sox drew on Donaldson’s half-century of experience in segregated baseball to help connect the team to the untapped talent of the Negro Leagues and Black baseball.


BBRT note:  Again, this post would not have been possible without the much appreciated past efforts and current assistance of Pete Gorton and the resources of The Donaldson Network.

Peter Gorton tells the John Donaldson story. at the Halsy Hall SABR Chapter meeting.

Peter Gorton tells the John Donaldson story. at the Halsy Hall SABR Chapter meeting.

Pete Gorton is the founder of The Donaldson Network, which has collected contributions from more than 550 authors, researchers and historians in the rediscovery of the lost legacy of John Wesley Donaldson.  Gorton, who lives in Minneapolis, is a speech consultant and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Negro Leagues Committee. He has studied the career of John Donaldson for the past 15 years; and shared in the SABR/ Sporting News Research Award for his chapter on Donaldson in the book Swinging for the Fences: Black Baseball in Minnesota. He also received the 2006 Coates Memorial Award for outstanding research in the field of Black baseball and the 2011 Tweed Webb Lifetime Achievement Award (recognizing long-term contributions to the field of Negro League research).  

The Center for Negro Leagues Baseball Research called The Donaldson Network: The most extensive research project that has ever been undertaken related to Black baseball.



1) What set you on this “Mission?”

I began looking into the story of John Donaldson in 2000 for a book my former high school Social Studies teacher was putting together. His project chronicled the history of Black baseball in Minnesota. I was a freelance television photographer at the time and had opportunities to dig into a story he pitched to me as a difficult challenge. He told me a couple of other established writers had turned it down because documenting John Donaldson’s story was “too difficult.”

I had a connection – sort of – to John Donaldson. My hometown of Staples is 13 miles from Bertha, Minnesota, where Donaldson played three seasons (1924-25 and 1927.) Growing up, I had never heard of him …. I was curious how such a great player could be so unknown.

I made an appointment to go to the Bertha Historical Society. When I visited, the curator at the time showed me their collection of scorebooks, photographs and scrapbooks. There was a broadside poster on the wall that advertised “JOHN DONALDSON – GREATEST COLORED PITCHER IN THE WORLD.”  …  I knew then I needed to keep on the story and figure out why people did not know his name.

I continued to look for every mention of Donaldson in papers everywhere I traveled and began amassing a file collection that I knew people would eventually want to see. Meanwhile the book Swinging for the Fences: Black Baseball in Minnesota came out and I had written the Donaldson chapter. This led to an invitation to attend a ceremony in Chicago.  That invitation came from the Negro Leagues Baseball Grave Marker Project, who had discovered Donaldson was buried in an unmarked grave. They had raised funds, with a major contribution from Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the White Sox, to have a marker designed and built to honor John Donaldson.

While attending the ceremony, I stood with some of the most renowned Negro League baseball historians in America. We stood over Donaldson’s final resting place and I asked “What do we really know about John Donaldson?” I figured someone must have put his story together. The answer was “not enough” and, at that moment, we started in earnest to document the remarkable career of John Donaldson.

The legacy of John Donaldson is an example of what happens when a great human being is marginalized by segregation: history forgets.

2) What do you see as John Donaldson’s most significant achievement?

In my opinion, John Donaldson’s most significant achievement was his ability to survive in the times in which he lived. I do not want to sound too melodramatic, but life for a black man in the early Twentieth Century was difficult. The average life expectancy for a black male in 1900 was 35 years.

Donaldson was born in February of 1891 in Glasgow, Missouri. Just a few weeks prior to having, her first child, Ida Donaldson endured the lynching of a Black man in the streets of Glasgow. Imagine being eight-months pregnant and having this atrocity take place in your city. Incredible! John Donaldson knew from a very early age what it took for a Black man to survive in the segregated world. He went on to do so many wonderful things despite a society that did not think he was worthy of anything significant. He was a great ballplayer, but his life is an extraordinary example of what it was like to be Black in America. He endured his father being murdered by a railroad cop in 1923. His ability to navigate the miles and play baseball in at least 25 states and over 550 cities meant he showed exceptional courage to merely survive.

So, I believe John Donaldson’s greatest achievement includes baseball, but baseball is not his most resounding contribution. Donaldson’s ability to excel on the field and survive off of it to become one of the all-time greatest ballplayers is his most significant contribution not just to baseball, but to society.


John Donaldson is a 2017 nominee for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame due, in large part, to the work of The Donaldson Network.

3) What has been the most challenging aspect of the research?

The most challenging aspect of researching John Donaldson is the sheer amount of information we have been able to amass, yet people do not seem to easily grasp how significant he was.

We have nearly 6,000 newspaper articles that are relevant to the career of John Donaldson. As I sit here today, there are at least 250 more that have yet to be processed. Each gives further detail to a story that encapsulates what Negro League baseball was all about. From the beginning to the end of the segregated era, John Donaldson was in the middle of it all.  The neglect of Donaldson’s legacy in the annals of not only Negro League baseball history, but the entirety of baseball history, is a glaring omission.

BBRT agrees, it is indeed time for John Donaldson to take his well-earned place in Cooperstown. 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.


It’s baseball awards season.  BBRT made its predictions for the major awards before the finalists were announced.  For a look at whom BBRT likes and why, click here.

2016 World Series Game Seven – A Century of Heartache is Over

Roller coaster photoIt’s over, the Chicago Cubs 108-year World Championship drought has come to an end – in a Game Seven that had more twists and turns than a carnival ride.  The Cubs topped the Cleveland Indians (whose own World Series Championship drought now stretches to 69 seasons) 8-7 in ten innings.  Was it a “classic” Game Seven?  No, I’ll leave that designation for games like Jack Morris’ ten-inning complete game shutout that brought the 1991 World Series crown to Minnesota.  Was it one of the most exciting Game Seven’s ever?  Definitely – even without its historic significance for both teams.  Let’s look at just a few unexpected developments in this contest:

  • In a Game (and Series) considered a showcase for MLB’s best young talent, three of the four Game Seven home runs were hit by players in their thirties, including one by a 39-year-old retiring catcher (Cubs’ David Ross).
  • Two runs scored on a single wild pitch – by 2016’s likely NL Cy Young Award winner Jon Lester.
  • Indians’ ace Corey Kluber, who averaged better than a strikeout per inning in both the regular season and post season (up to Game Seven), lasted just four innings, giving up four runs and failing to get a single strikeout.
  • Neither starting pitcher was on the mound at the end of the fifth inning.  (Kluber, of course, was pitching – again – on short rest.  Insert “insert second guess” here.)
  • The Cubs’ seemingly untouchable closer – Aroldis Chapman – came into the game and quickly gave up a double and game-tying home run – but got the win in his least effective post-season appearance.
  • There were a handful of sparkling defensive plays, as well as four errors (three by the Cubs), a hit batter, a costly wild pitch and a flubbed safety squeeze.
  • The Indians came back from a 5-1 deficit after 4 ½ innings, to tie the game 6-6 in the eighth.
  • There was a 17-minute rain delay.
  • Both teams scored in the tenth.
  • The eventual winning run was scored by a player who was intentionally walked.

2016 World Series MVP

Cubs’ LF Ben Zobrist, who drove in the go-ahead run with a double in the tenth inning of Game Seven took home World Series MVP honors. (The Cubs ended up needing the insurance run driven in by C Miguel Montero.)  For the Series, Zobrist hit .357 (10-for-28), with two doubles, a triple and two RBI.

Old Guys Rule

The game and the Series were considered to be a showcase for some of MLB’s best young talent: Francisco Lindor (22-years-old); Jose Ramirez (24); Kyle Schwarber (23); Kris Bryant (24); Addison Russell (22) – to name just a few of the twenty-something stars on the two rosters. In Game Seven, however, there were four home runs – three by players in their thirties.

  • Thirty-year-old CF Dexter Fowler got the Cubs off to a good start – and an immediate lead – with a booming lead-off home run in the first inning.
  • In the sixth inning, Cubs’ 39-year-old catcher David “Grandpa Rossy” Ross, playing in his last major league game, homered to left off Indians’ relief ace Andrew Miller – giving the Cubs a 6-3 lead and becoming the oldest player to homer in Game Seven of a World Series.
  • In the bottom of the eighth, the Indians’ 36-year-old CF Rajai Davis took Cubs’ closer Aroldis Chapman deep – tying the game 6-6 on a two-run shot.
  • One of the youngsters did appear in the long ball parade. The Cubs’ 23-year-old 2B Javier Baez hit a solo shot off Indians starter Corey Kluber in the fifth.

Hope You Remember this Performance

The Indians’ Brandon Guyer did not get into the game until the sixth innning; pinch-hitting and taking over righ field from Lonnie Chisenhall. (He would later move to LF.)  All Guyer did was record a single, double and walk, along with two runs scored and an RBI, in three plate appearancs.

Wild Thing, You Make My Heart Sing

Jon Lester cubs photo

Jon Lester – Wild pitch plated two runs, but he gave the Cubs three much-needed innings. Photo by apardavila

The Indians started the fifth with two quick outs against Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks, who appeared to be well in control.  Then DH Carlos Santana walked and Cubs’ Manager Joe Maddon – after just 63 pitches – pulled Hendricks in favor of 19-game winner and strong Cy Young Award candidate Jon Lester. (Before the game, Maddon had said he preferred to bring Lester in at the start of, rather than in the midst of, an inning.  Good place to second guess here.). Lester gave up a dribbling single toward the mound to Indians’ 2B Jason Kipnis. The ball was played by catcher David Ross, whose off target (error) throw to first let Kipnis move up to second and Santana to third. Then, with SS Francisco Lindor at the plate, Lester bounced a wild pitch in the dirt that allowed both Santana and Kipnis to come home – bringing the score to Cubs 5 – Indians 3. Lester got Lindor on a swinging strikeout and went on to pitch a scoreless sixth and the seventh.  He was replaced by closer Aroldis Chapman with two outs and one on in the eighth.

Turning Point

Hard to pick a turning point in a game with so many twists and turns, but I’ll take the 17-minute rain delay between the ninth and tenth innings.  The Cubs were reeling a bit.  The bottom of the eighth had seen the Indians rally to tie the game at six off Cubs’ (overworked) closer Aroldis Chapman (another chance to second guess), who came on with two outs and one on and gave up a run-scoring double to RF Brandon Guyer; a game-tying two-run homer to CF Rajai Davis; and a single to LF Ben Zobrist before striking out C Yan Gomes to end the inning.

Then, in the top of the ninth, with RF  Jason Heyward on third and one out, Cubs’ 2B Javier Baez fouled off a two-strike safety squeeze (bunt) attempt that could have scored the go-ahead run. CF Dexter Fowler followed with a short-to-first ground out and the scoring opportunity was lost.  Fortunately for the Cubs, Chapman settled down to record a 1-2-3 ninth – and then the rain delay gave the Cubs a chance to calm down, regroup (have a team meeting) and right the ship – sailing it into a two-run top of the tenth.

The game-tying home run given up by Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning was the first round tripper he had surrendered since joining the Cubs on July 25.

Stars of the Game

Cubs’ CF Dexter Fowler started the game with a home run and collected three hits. Cubs’ DH Kyle Schwarber continued his remarkable comeback from surgey with three hits.  Despite initial difficulties, starter-turned-reliever Jon Lester gave the Cubs three solid – and much needed – innings; one run, on two hits and a walk, with four strikeouts. Kyle Hendricks gave up two runs (one earned) in 4 2.3 innings.

For the Indians, CF Rajai Davis had two hits – including a game-tying home run – and drove in three.  Brandon Guyer, who didn’t enter the game until the sixth inning, had a double, a single, a walk,  two runs scored and an RBI – in just three plate appearances. Cody Allen threw two scoreless innings – no hits, one walk, two strikeouts.

The Improbable Tenth –Both Teams Score

Cubs’ DH Kyle Schwarber led off the tenth (Bryan Shaw on the mound for the Indians) with a single to right – and was immediately replaced at first base by pinch runner Albert Almora. 3B Kris Bryant followed with a long drive to center caught by Rajia Davis.  Almora made a heads up running play – tagging and going to second to eliminate the force play. The Indians countered by walking 1B Anthony Rizzo intentionally.  Almora’s advance to second – which led to the Rizzo walk – would prove consequential. Next, LF Ben Zobrist cemented his World Series MVP Award with a run run-scoring double – Almora crossing the plate and Rizzo moving up to third. Shaw then intentionally walked SS Addison Russell to both set up the double play and get to Miguel Montero, the Cubs’ third catcher of the game.  Montero singled the intentionally walked Rizzo home with what would prove to be the winning run.  At this point, Trevor Bauer replaced Shaw and got RF Jason Heyward and 2B Javier Baez to end the inning. Cubs 8 – Indians 6.

The Indians, however, were not done yet.  Carl Edwards replaced Aroldis Chapman on the mound to start the tenth and got two quick outs (1B Mike Napoli on a swinging third strike and 3B Jose Ramirez on a groundout to short.) Victory seemed to be right there, but this ride wasn’t done spinning yet.  Brandon Guyer drew a walk and moved to second on defensive indifference.  He then scored on a single by CF Rajai Davis, cutting the lead to one.  At this point, Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon brought in Mike Montgomery, who got RF Micheal Martinez on a grounder – third to first.

Whew! It was finally over.


World Series Stats Leaders

Addison Russell cubs photo

Cubs’ SS Addison Russell drove in one-third (9 of 27) of the World Series runs scored by the Cubs. Photo by apardavila


Cubs: Anthony Rizzo – .360

Indians:  – Jose Ramirez – .310


Cubs: Ben Zobrist – 10

Indians: Jason Kipnis – 9


Cubs: Kris Bryant and Dexter Fowler – 2

Indians: Jason Kipnis and Roberto Perez – 2


Cubs: Anthony Russell – 9

Indians: Roberto Perez – 5


Cubs: Anthony Rizzo – 7

Indians: Jason Kipnis – 6


Cubs: Jason Heyward – 4

Indians: Rajai Davis – 3


Cubs: Jake Arrieta – 2

Indians: Corey Kluber  – 2


Cubs: Jon Lester – 16

Indians: Corey Kluber – 15

ERA (starters)

Cubs: Kyle Hendricks – 1.00

Indians: Corey Kluber – 2.81


Indians: Corey Kluber – 16.0

Cubs: Jon Lester – 14.2


Cubs: Aroldis Chapman and Mike Montgomery – 1

iNDIANS: Cody Allen – 1


I tweet baseball @David BBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

2016 World Series Game Six – Next, It’s Heartbreak or Heaven

Game Six of the 2016 World Series was all Cubs – a 9-3 victory that fueled the anticipation of a Game Seven.  It seems appropriate, somehow, that two teams with a combined 176-year title drought would see the difference between continued heartbreak and hardball heaven go down to a Game Seven.  Game Six did have some highlights, mostly for the Cubs:

  • Cubs’ SS Addison Russell had a double and a home run (Grand Slam) in five at bats – tying a World Series Single-Game record with six RBI;
  • Cubs’ 3B Kris Bryant had four hits – including his second homer of the Series to start the Cubs’ scoring;
  • Cubs’ 1B Anthony Rizzo had three hits, including an “insurance” two-run home run in the top of the ninth;
  • Indians’ 2B Jason Kipnis had three hits, including his second home run of the Series; and.
  • Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta went 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on three hits and three walks with nine strikeouts.

Looking to the Future

The Cubs’ starting offensive nine in Game Six included seven players under the age of 28. The Indians’ starting lineup had five players under 28.  Both teams seem to be looking toward a bright future,

Turning Point

Josh Tomlin Indians photo

Josh Tomlin was one pitch away from a 1-2-3 first. Photo by Keith Allison

The turning point in Game Six of the 2016 World Series came at a time that was both early and unexpected.  Indians’ starter Josh Tomlin got off to a good start, retiring Cubs’ CF Dexter Fowler on a liner to third, DH Kyle Schwarber on a grounder to second and then getting 3B Kris Bryant down no balls-two strikes.  Tomlin was one good pitch away from a 1-2-3 first.  He didn’t get it, as Bryant took the 0-2 offering deep to center to give the Cubs an early 1-0 lead.

But that wasn’t the turning point – one run was not likely to win this contest.  And, the Cubbies weren’t done.  1B Anthony Rizzo and LF Ben Zobrist followed with a pair of singles, putting runners on first and third (with Tomlin still one out away from a one-run inning).  Then – wait for it, wait for it – came the turning point.  SS Addison Russell hit what appeared to be an inning-ending soft fly ball to right center.  In an apparent bout of miscommunication, CF Tyler Naquin and RF Lonnie Chisenhall (both seemingly in hot pursuit) let the ball drop in between them for a two-run double. To add insult to injury, Russell took third base on a throwing error by 2B Jason Kipnis.  Cubs’ C Wilson Contreras then flied out to center to end the inning, but the damage was done: 3-0 Cubs and the Indians hadn’t batted.  That “turning point “ inning had several effects: It took the crowd out of the game; put the Indians “under pressure” in the field and at the plate; most likely dampened Cleveland’s aggressiveness on the bases; and impacted how Indians’ manager Terry Francona used his usually fierce bullpen.

Star of the Game

Addison Russell Cubs photo

Photo by apardavila

The star of Game Six was Cubs’ 22-year-old SS Addison Russell with a double, home run and World Series record (tying) six RBI.  Russell’s six runs driven in tied the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols (Game Three, 2011); Yankees’ Hideki Matsui (Game Six, 2009); and Yankees’ 2B Bobby Richardson (Game Three,1960).  Russell’s Grand Slam was the first by a shortstop in the World Series and made him the second-youngest player to hit a Grand Slam in the Fall Classic (only Mickey Mantle was younger).



Pitching Decisions Questioned

The depth of the Cubs’ rotation came into play as Cubs’ starter Jake Arrieta started on his usual rest (the Cubs used a four-man rotation in the Series), while Josh Tomlin (the Indians’ went with a three-man rotation) started on short rest (and gave up six runs in 2 1/3 innings).  The Indians’ Danny Salazar – who went 11-6, 3.87  in 25 starts, but came down with a right forearm strain late in the season – came in to pitch two scoreless innings (one hit and four strikeouts).  Salazar’s performance led to some speculation that a Salazar start and game-by-committee (given Cleveland’s sparkling relief corps) might have better served the Indians.  (Hindsight, however, is always 20/20 and Salazar was a big questins mark, while Tomlin has pitched well this post season.)  Now, the Indians have ace Corey Kluber going in Game Seven, like Tomlin, on short rest.

Still the Indians have the bull pen advantage, as Cleveland Manager Terry Francona did not use any of his “lights-out” bullpen trio of Andrew Miller, Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw in Game Six.  Five innings out of Kluber may be enough for the Tribe to take the finale.

Meanwhile, Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon surprised a lot of folks by using his two most trusted relievers – Mike Montgomery and closer Aroldis Chapman – in Game Six, despite a big lead.

The most engaging questions seem to be:  1) How effective will Kluber be pitching once again on short rest?  2) Has Maddon overused Chapman?.  One thing for sure, there will be some intrigue.

Game Seven Starters

Let’s look at the Game Seven starting pitchers.

Corey Kluber – Cleveland

Kluber has been the Indians’  “ace” all season and in the post season.  On the season he was 18-9, 3.14, with 227 strikeouts in 215 innings.  His home and away stats were relatively even:  10-5, 3.24 at home and 8-4, 3.03 on the road. In the post season, he is 4-1, 0.89. with 35 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.  And, while Kluber is going on short rest for the second straight start, he has a well-rested bullpen (Andrew Miller, Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw) behind him.  This post season, that trio has pitched 38 innings, giving up just four runs (0.95 ERA), while fanning 62.  Five quality innings from Kluber may be enough.  BBRT will be watching Kluber’s early pitch count closely.

Kyle Hendricks – Chicago

The Cubs’ Kyle Kendricks wnet 16-8, with MLB’s lowest ERA (2.13) this season.  During the regualr season, he fanned 170 batters in 190 innings.  He was 9-2 1.32 at Wrigley and a still good, but less impressive, 7-6 2.95 on the road. Backing up Hendricks are likely a combination of starter Jon Lester and relievers Mike Montgomery and Aroldis Chapman.  Lester, with a 1.93 ERA in five 2016  post-season starts could come in if Hendricks should falter early. Montgomery and Chapman – who both pitched yesterday – have made 22 appearances this postseason (28 1/3 innings), with a 2.86 ERA and 30 strikeouts.  The Cubs need Hendricks to go deep in this game.  If he could get into the seventh, it would make Maddon’s job a lot easier.


World Series Flashback – My Favorite Game Seven 1960

Game Seven of the 1960 World Series is my favorite World Series contest – which is saying a lot since I was in the park for Jack Morris’ 10-inniing shutout win in Game Seven of the 1991 Fall Classic.  To understand why this is my favorite, it helps to set the stage:

  • There were only 16 major league teams. If you didn’t finish with the most victories in your league, you went home.
  • No one had ever heard of the designated hitter, the wild card, WAR or even WHIP.  
  • Home Run Derby was on TV – in black and white, with power hitters pairing off at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles.
  • Ted Williams finished his career with a home run in his last at bat that season and Brooks Robinson won his first Gold Glove.
  • MLB held two All Star Games.
  • The 1960 White Sox became the first team to put players’ names on uniforms.
  • Warren Spahn threw his first no-hitter taht season  and won a league-leading 21 games – at age 39.
  • Juan Marichal threw a one-hitter in his major league debut at age 22.
  • Roger Maris won his first MVP Award in his first year as a Yankee (after being traded from the Kansas City Athletics).

I was thirteen and an avid baseball fan.  The Game of the Week (in black and white), the radio – especially the radio – and an occasional trip to the ball park were my tickets to the national past time.

MIckey Mantle photo

Mickey Mantle and the Yankees were a baseball dynasty going into the 1960s. Photo by Tony Fischer Photography

At the time, the Yankees were baseball’s dynasty.  Since my birth in 1947, the Bronx Bombers had been to 11 World Series (including the 1960 Series, tied 3-3) and had won eight World Championships.  Fans from pretty much everywhere but New York had made Yankee-hating a tradition.  I was no exception.  Milwaukee-born, I was a steadfast Braves fan, still smarting from the Yankees’ 1958 World Series comeback, when they downed my Braves after trailing three games to one. 

The prognosticators had predicted a Yankee win in five or six games.  They pointed out that the Yankees, with a 97-57 record (the Pirates were 95-59-1) came into the Series with the momentum of a 15-game, season-closing winning streak, while the Pirates lost four of their final seven.  They also lauded the Yankees’ post-season experience and, they heralded the Yankees power (the Yankees led the AL with a record 193 home runs and 746 runs scored, while the Pirates led the NL with 734 runs scored, but only 120 round trippers) – the Yankees’ Game One starting lineup had belted 152 regular season homers to 98 for the Pirates’ starters.  When it came to mound work, things appeared more balanced, maybe even a shade in favor of the Pirates.  While the Yankees’ 3.52 ERA was the lowest in the AL, the Pirates’ NL third-best ERA (at 3.49) slightly bettered the Bomber mark.  The Pirates did have the clear advantage in strikeouts (811-712) and fewest walks allowed (an NL low of 386 to an AL worst 609 for the Yankees). They also boasted the Cy Young Award winner in Vernon Law (20-9, 3.08), backed up by Bob Friend (18-12, 3.00), while no Yankee starter had topped 15 wins.  The top relievers for the two teams were Elroy Face, with 24 saves for Pittsburgh and Bobby Shantz, who saved 11 for the Yanks.


To further set the stage, going into Game Seven (October 13 at Pittsburgh), the Series was tied 3-3, despite:

  • The Yankees outscoring the Pirates 46 to 17 over the first six games;
  • The Yankees out-hitting the Pirates 78 to 49 in the first six games; and
  • The Yankees out-homering  the Pirates eight to one in the first six games.

Still,  the Pirates were looking forward the  chance to win the Series at home behind Vernon Law (winner of Games One and Four.)  The Yankees countered with Bob Turley, who, despite winning Game Two, had given up 13 hits and three walks in 8 1/3 innings.  The Pirates also had their top left-handed hitter, Bob Skinner (injured in Game One), back at the number-three spot in the order, while the Yankees were missing Elston Howard (broken finger, Game Six).


The Yanks went meekly in the top of the first inning (liner, popup, foul out), and the Pirates, homerless since 2B Bill Mazeroski’s blast in Game One, got a two-run homer from 1B Rocky Nelson (whom Murtaugh chose to start at first base over regular Dick Stuart).

In the second, Law set the heart of the Yankees down in order –CF Mickey Mantle, fly to center; LF Yogi Berra, grounder to third; 1B Bill Skowron, grounder to short.  Pirates’ C  Smoky Burgess started the bottom  inning with a single and Yankee manager Casey Stengel immediately pulled starter Bob Turley in favor of the rookie Bill Stafford (who had stifled the Pirates for five innings in Game Five).  The move, second-guessed by many, did not pay off.  Stafford walked 3B  Don Hoak and Mazeroski beat out a bunt single.  Vernon Law was now at the plate (the Pirates’ pitcher was two for four, with a double, run scored and RBI in Games One and Four).  Law hit back to Stafford for a pitcher-to home-to first double play, but CF/lead-off hitter Bill Virdon followed with a two-run single and a 4-0 Pirates lead.  The Yankees were on the ropes.


Law handcuffed the Yankees through four innings, giving up only two singles.  In the fifth, YankeeS’ 1bMoose Skowron made the score 3-1 with a lead-off homer just inside the right field foul pole.  Law did not let the round tripper upset him, retiring C Johnny Blanchard, 3B Clete Boyer and P Bobby Shantz (who came on to pitch for New York in the third) in order.

The Yankees closed the gap – and then some – in the top of the sixth.  Pesky New York 2B Bobby Richardson (who already had nine hits in the series) led off with a single to center, and SS Tony Kubek followed with a walk.  With the Bombers appearing on the verge of a rally, Murtaugh replaced Law (who, it turns out had been pitching on a sore ankle throughout the Series) with his top reliever Elroy Face.   Face got RF Roger Maris on a foul pop to 3B Don Hoak, but Mickey Mantle followed with a “seeing eye” single up the middle, scoring Richardson. Yogi Berra followed with a upper deck home run (like Skowron’s just inside the right field foul pole) to give New York a 5-4 lead in what was shaping up to be a nail biter.  Veteran Bobby Shantz, meanwhile, was baffling the Pirates – giving up only a single and a walk from the third to the seventh innings.

In the top of the eighth, the Yankees appeared to put the game away – using a walk, two  singles and a double to produce two more runs and a 7-4 lead.   Notably, Stengel’s  pitching decisions again came into play.  He let Shantz bat with two out and runners at second and third (Boyer and Skowron) and a chance to extend the Yankee lead.  Shantz flied out and the living-room and press-box managers were quick to point out:  1) The lost scoring opportunity; 2) The fact that Stengel left Shantz in for a sixth inning of work, despite the fact that Shantz had not gone more than four innings in the regular season.


In the bottom of the eighth, things unraveled for the Yankees, thanks to a poorly placed pebble.  Gino Cimoli pinch hit for Face and stroked a single to right-center field.  Shantz, who had already induced two double plays appeared to have worked his magic again, as CF Bill Virdon hit a hard ground ball right at  Yankee SS, sure-handed Tony Kubek.  Just as Kubek was ready to field the ball, it appeared to hit a pebble (the Yankees had already been critical of the condition of the Forbes Field infield) and ricocheted into Kubek’s throat.  Kubek went down, gasping for air and spitting up blood, with his windpipe rapidly swelling (doctors on the scene at first thought an emergency tracheotomy might be necessary).  The end result?  Kubek sent to the hospital and replaced by Joe DeMaestri and the Pirates had two on and no outs, instead of none on and two outs.  (Read: Aha, the turning point.)

Pirates’ shortstop Dick Groat took advantage of Kubek’s mishap and lined singled to left, scoring Cimoli.  Stengel came to the mound and replaced Shantz with right-hander Jim Coates (despite the fact that lefty Bill Skinner was coming to the plate).  The righty-lefty matchup made little difference, as Skinner sacrificed the runners up one base.  Next was Rocky Nelson, who flied out to medium right, with the Pirates choosing not to test Roger Maris’ arm.   So, two outs, two on and the Yankees still in front 7-5.   That brought up the Pirates’ best hitter, RF Roberto Clemente, who had been held hitless in his first three at-bats. Coates made a good pitch, getting Clemente to hit a weak ground ball toward first.  A hustling Clemente beat both Coates and Skowron’s throw to the bag, while Virdon scored and Groat moved to third.  Now, 7-6 and the Pirates still had life. 

That brought up backup catcher Hall Smith (who had come into the game in the eighth after Joe Christopher ran for starting catcher Smoky Burgess in the bottom of the seventh).   Smith took a 2-2 Coates’ pitch over the left-field wall for a 9-7 Pittsburgh lead.  The Pirates, with only one round tripper in the first six games had homered twice for five runs in Game Seven.


To protect the lead  in the ninth (and with Elroy Face already out of the game), Pirate Manager Danny Murtaugh called on starter Bob Friend, who had lost Games Two and Six, giving up seven earned runs in six innings (and had pitched in relief only once all season).  Yankee lead-off hitter Bobby Richardson started off the ninth with a single to left.  Veteran and former-Pirate Dale Long, pinch hitting for Joe DeMaestri (who had replaced the injured Kubek) singled to right and Friend was gone, replaced by Game-Five starter Harvey Haddix.  Haddix got Roger Maris on a foul out, but Mickey Mantle drove in Richardson with a single to right center.   Yogi Berra followed with a ground ball down the first base line.  Rocky Nelson made a nice backhanded stop, but was out of position for a first-to second-to first, game-ending double play. Nelson took the sure out, stepping on the first base bag and retiring Berra, while Gil McDougald (pinch running for Long) headed toward home.  It was at this point that Nelson realized Mantle had not run to second.  Mantle, sizing up the situation, was returning to first (with the force at second now off). It was an unorthodox base-running move, but as Mantle dove head first back to the bag (avoiding Nelson’s desperate attempt to tag him), McDougald scored the tying run.  Skowron then grounded out to Mazeroski (forcing Mantle) to end the inning in a 9-9 tie. Still, Mantle’s heads up baserunning had kept the Yankees in the game.



Bill Mazeroski’s Series-winning home run has been immortalized in Pittsburgh. Photo by daveynin

Stengel, like Murtaugh, was now using starters in relief, bringing Game Four-loser Ralph Terry in to pitch the ninth.  Number-eight hitter Bill Mazeroski led off the inning.  Terry’s first pitch was a high and inside fastball.  The second pitch, another fastball, was in the strike zone and Mazeroski deposited it over the 406-foot marker in left center.  Not sure the ball would carry out in the deep part of the park, Mazeroski ran full speed with his head down to first and toward second, before seeing the umpire making the circular home run signal.  Mazeroski removed his helmet, waving his way to home plate where his team mates awaited the first player in major league history to end the World Series with a walk-off home run.

Trivia Tidbit:  The seventh game of the 1960 Series is the only World Series game in which neither team recorded a single strikeout.

FINAL: Pirates 10 – Yankees 9; Pirates 4 games – Yankees 3 Games. M

When the Series was over, Pirate pitching made the difference, but you could never tell from the stats line:

  • The Yankees scored a Series’ record 55 runs to 27 for the Pirates,
  • The Yankees collected a Series’ record 91 hits to 60 for the Pirates.
  • The Yankees hit a Series’ record .338 to .256 for the Pirates
  • The Yankees collected a Series’ record 27 extra base hits to 15 for the Pirates.
  • The Yankees out-homered the Pirates 10-4.
  • The Yankees’ pitchers put up a 3.54 ERA to 7.11 for the Pirates.
  • Bobby Richardson of the Yankees won the Series MVP award, hitting .367 with a Series’ record 12 RBI. The only player on a losing team to ever win the Series MVP Award.
  • The Yankees’ Whitey Ford was the Series’ most effective pitcher, throwing two complete game shutout in two starts.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

2016 World Series Game Five – “High Anxiety” and Back to Cleveland

It’s back to Cleveland for Game Six – as the Cubs stayed alive with a classic 3-2 victory in Game Five at Wrigley field (and now trail the Indians three games-to-two). The tension-filled contest – described as “high anxiety” by Cubs’ first-sacker Anthony Rizzo had something for everyone:

  • 23 strikeouts for those who love power pitching;
  • Home runs by both teams’ third basemen – the Indians’ Jose Ramirez and Cubs’ Kris Bryant;
  • A measure of small ball – what proved to be the winning run moved to third on a bunt single and scored on a sacrifice fly;
  • A handful of great fielding plays (particularly on the Cubs’ side by David Ross, Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward and Kris Bryant);
  • Seven stolen bases;
  • Plenty of strategy – pitching changes, pinch hitters, double switches; and
  • Particularly rousing crowd renditions of Take Me Out to the Ball Game and Go, Cubs, Go!

Now it’s on to Cleveland, with the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 in the regular season) facing the Indians’ Josh Tomlin (13-9, 4.40).  Unfortunately for Chicago, even if they take Game Six, they still can’t win the Series without beating Cleveland ace Corey Kluber – slated to start Game Seven against NL Era champ Kyle Hendricks.  For now, it’s simply “Game on.”

Starting Pitchers Come Out Firing Bullets

Jon Lester cubs photo

Photo by apardavila

Jon Lester and Trevor Bauer were throwing bullet right from the start.  Lester struck out the side in order in the first inning, while Bauer fanned two in his 1-2-3 start.  In that first frame both starters threw 13 pitches, ten strikes.  Bauer ran low on ammo for a brief period in the bottom of the fourth, but it was a well-pitched game on both sides.  Lester’s final line in victory: six innings pitched, four hits, two runs, no walks and five strikeouts.





Turning Point

Kris Bryant Cubs photo

Kris Bryant hit a game-tying long ball to lead off the Cubs’ three-run inning. Photo by apardavila

Pretty easy call on the turning point in this one – the bottom of the fourth, when the Cubs finally put a few hits together and scored their only runs of the game. Down 1-0, Cub’s 3B Kris Bryant led off with a game-tying home run to left-center off Indians’ starter Trevor Howard. The second half of “Bryzzo” – 1B Anthony Rizzo – followed with a double off the ivy in right field. That hit seemed to rattle Bauer, who went to 3-0 on LF Ben Zobrist before giving up another single to right.  Then, with Rizzo on third and Zobrist on first, SS Addison Russell beat out a grounder to third, scoring Rizzo.  RF Jason Heyward then fanned (one of three strikeouts he would have on the day), before 2B Javier Baez loaded the bases with a bunt single. C David Ross (playing his last game ever at Wrigley – the 39-year-old is retiring after this season) then drove in what would prove to be the winning run with a sacrifice fly to left.  P Jon Lester, the eighth Cubs’ batter of the inning made the final out – and the Cubs led 3-1.

I would actually extend this turning point to the top of the fifth.  Once the Cubs put some runs on the board, it was important that they keep the momentum and hold the Indians at bay in the top of the fifth.  Cleveland LF Carlos Santana started the inning with a double off Lester and went to third on 3B Jose Ramirez’ groundout to short.  It looked like the Indians were going to come right back with a score. But Lester shut the door with a strikeout of RF Brandon Guyer and a ground out (short-to-first) buy C Roberto Perez.  That, to me, was a critical inning in this game.

Seven Stolen Bases

Rajai Davis photo

Rajai Davis- Three Steals. Photo by Keith Allison

Both teams brought their running game – totaling seven steals. AL regular-season stolen base leader (43 SB) CF Rajai Davis stole three bags, including second and third in the sixth (he would eventually score).  The Cubs stole four bases; one each by 3B Kris Bryant and CF Dexter Fowler and two by RF Jason Heyward (who nabbed second and third in the bottom of the eighth. Notably, the Indians’ sixth-inning rally was cut short when David Ross threw out Indians’ SS Francisco Lindor on an attempted steal of second.  






Both Managers All-In

Clearly both managers were all-in for this one – as both closers (Indians’ Cody Allen and Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman) were in the game by the seventh inning.  Allen struck out four in 1 2/3 scoreless innings, while Chapman fanned four in 2 2/3 innings for the save.  It was the first eight-out save of his career.

Cubs’ closer Aroldis Chapman three 42 pitches, 26 for strikes – including a World Series’ single-game record of 19 pitches of at least 100 mph,  During the regular season, Chapman (according to Statcast) threw MLB’s 30 fastest pitches – including one at 105.1 MPH.

David Ross’ Final Game at Wrigley

Thirty-Nine-Year-old Cubs’ catcher David Ross (Jon Lester’s designated catcher) – nicknamed “Grandpa Rossy” by the youngsters that man the Cubs lineup – is retiring after the Series (and after 15 MLB seasons, the last two with the Cubs).  In his last game at Wrigley, he drove in what proved to the winning run with a fourth inning sacrifice fly, called a great game for Jon Lester and cut short an Indians’ rally by throwing out the speedy Francisco Lindor on a steal attempt to end the sixth inning.  For his career, Ross played in 883 games, hitting .229 with 106 home runs and 314 RBI. For the Cubs this year, he hit .229-10-32 in 67 games.

Pearl Jam Front Man Salutes David Ross

Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder was called on to lead the seventh-inning rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game – and he dedicated his efforts to popular (and retiring) 39-year-old Cubs’ catcher David Ross.  “There’s one guy in particular I want to sing my *** off for. He’s number three.  He’s behind the plate. He may retire, but he’ll never quit.  Mr. David Ross, I’d like to belt this one out for you.  It’s his last game at Wrigley, let’s sing it for him.”


World Series Flashback

knowlesIn the 1973 World Series, as the Oakland A’s topped the New York Mets four games to three, Oakland reliever Darold Knowles set a record that can be tied, but will never be topped.  Knowles pitched in all seven games of the Series, picking up a pair of saves.

GAME ONE – Knowles came on in the top of the ninth with one on and one out and the A’s up 2-1. He retired PH Jim Beauchamp and 3B Wayne Garrett on fly outs for the save.

GAME TWO – Knowles took the mound in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded one out and the Mets up 4-3. Knowles got PH Jim Beauchamp to ground to the mound, but Knowles threw wildly to the plate, with two runs scoring on the error. He then struck out lead-off hitter 3B Wayne Garrett, intentionally walked 2B Felix Millan and got RF Rusty Staub on a fly out. (Staub hit .423 for the Series, with 11 hits in seven games.)  Knowles stayed in and pitched a scoreless seventh. The A’s eventually lost 10-7 in 12 innings.

GAME THREE – Knowles came in for Catfish Hunter in the seventh inning, with Oakland down 2-1. He pitched two scoreless innings in a game Oakland won 3-2 in 11 innings.

GAME FOUR – Knowles came on in the bottom of the fourth with two on, none out, and New York up 3-1. He struck out P Jon Matlack, then hit 3B Wayne Garrett with a pitch loading the bases. Then 2B Dick Green’s error allowed Mets’ 2B Felix Millan to reach, scoring CF Don Hahn. RF  Rusty Staub followed with a two-run singls and LF Cleon Jone walked before Knowles got 1B John Milner to hit into a 1-2-3 double play. The A’s eventually lost 6-1.

GAME FIVE – Knowles came in with two outs in the sixth inning, the A’s down 2-0, and a runner on third. He intentionally walked number-eight hitter SS Bud Harrelson and fanned P Jerry Koosman. The Mets won this one 2-0.

GAME SIX – Knowles took the mound with one out in the eighth, a runner on first and the A’s up 2-0. He gave up singles to 3B Wayne Garrett and 2B Felix Millan (scoring a run), before fanning RF Rustu Staub.  Rollile fingers then came in to get the last out of the inning. The A’s won 3-1.

GAME SEVEN – Knowles came in with two outs in the top of ninth, the A’s up 5-2, runners on first and third, and the top of the Mets’ batting order coming up.  He got 3B Wayne Garrett to pop up, ending the inning, giving the A’s the Series and earning the save.

For the Series, Knowles pitched in seven games – giving up four hits and five walks in 6 1/3 innings – but only one unearned run – while fanning five.  (ERA 0.00).  On the season, Knowles appeared in 52 games (five starts), going 6-8 with nine saves and a 3.09 ERA.

Side Note:  Willie Mays, then with the Mets, got his final at bat in the major leagues in the Series – grouding into a force out to end the tenth inning of Game Three.  Mays went two-for-seven in the Series, with one run and one RBI.  


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.



Ieball Bloggers Alliance.

2016 World Series Game Four – Indians Dominate Cubs and More

Cleveland dominated all phases of Game Four – winning 7-2, while out-hitting the Cubs 10-7; out-homering the Cubs 2-1; playing error-free ball to the Cubs’ two errors; getting six innings (just one earned run) out of their starter versus five innings (two earned runs) for the Cubs’ starter; and winning the battle of the bullpens.

The Cubs, now down three games-to-one face some tough, but not unsurmountable, odds.

Since the World Series took its AL/NL format in 1903, 45 teams have taken a 3-1 advantage in the Series and 39 of them have emerged as champions.  Still as a long-time Braves’ fan, I can remember when my Braves (who won the Series in 1957) took a three games-to-one lead in 1958 and the Yankees bounced back to take the Series 4-3. (It is still a painful memory.)


         1903 Boston Pilgrims (over Pittsburgh Pirates – best of nine)

          1925 Pirates (topped Washington Senators)

        1958 Yankees (beat the Braves)

         1968 Tigers (beat the Cardinals)

         1979 Pirates (beat the Orioles)

         1985 Royals (topped the Cardinals)

Turning Point

Carlos Santana MLB photo

Carlos Santana – got the Indians’ offense going. Photo by Keith Allison

There are those who will point to Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis’ three-run homer in the top of the seventh (that put the game out of reach at 7-1) as the turning point.  I think it came much earlier – in the top of the second inning. The inning started with the Cubs’ John Lackey giving up a home run to 1B Carlos Santana. After 3B Jose Ramirez grounded out to first, RF Lonnie Chisenhall reached on a throwing error by Cubs’ third-sacker – and 2016 NL MVP candidate – Kris Bryant. C Roberto Perez then grounded out (Lackey to 1B Anthony Rizzo), with Chisenhall moving to second. The Cubs chose to intentionally walk CF  Tyler Naquin to get to pitcher Corey Kluber.  Kluber topped a high-hopper to Kris Bryant. The Cleveland pitcher beat Bryant’s throw (for a single). Bryant’s hurried toss went wide (for his second error of the inning), allowing Chisenahll to score.  LF Rajai Davis ended the inning by grounding out to second.  Still, Cleveland took the lead 2-1 in an inning that included a home run (into a stiff wind), a hit by an AL pitcher and two Cubs’ errors.  The mood was set.

 Kluber Continues to Shine

Staff ace Corey Kluber has been the key to the Indians’ post season and he continued to shine.  Kluber, pitching on three-days rest, went six innings – giving up five hits and one earned run, while fanning six. He threw only 81 pitches in winning his second game of the Series and should be ready if a Game Seven is needed.  In this post season, Kluber (18-9, 3.14 in the regular season) is 4-1, with an 0.89 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings pitched.

Relievers of the Year – Zach Britton and Kenley Jansen

MLB yesterday announced the winners of the  Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award – Zach Britton and Kenley Jansen.

Britton saved 47 games in 47 opportunities for the Orioles.  He also won two games (versus one loss) and struck out 74 batter in 67 innings (69 appearances), finishing with a 0.54 ERA.

Jansen saved 47 games (in 53 opportunities) for the Dodgers.  He fanned 104 hitters (versus just 11 walks) in 68 2/3 innings (71 appearances) and put up a 1.83 ERA.

Francona Strikes Again

Terry Francona photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Meeting the challenge of managing without the DH, Terry Francona once again (as I noted in the Game Three Wrap Up) pulled all the right levers.  In Game Three, he started the Indians’ usual DH Carlos Santana in LF.  Yesterday, he moved Santana to 1B, benching the popular Mike Napoli.  The result?  Santana delivered three hits in four at bats, including a second-inning home run that tied the game.





Tiny, Tiny Criticism

I’m still left wondering why Cleveland Manager Terry Francona brought Andrew Miller in to pitch with a 7-1 lead in the seventh (after using him for 1 1/3 innings the day before).  I expected he would “save” him for a closer game (perhaps in Game Five.).  Francona did give closer Cody Allen the night off, calling on Dan Otero to pitch the ninth.  Francona said he would feel confident using Miller in Game Five (even if it meant putting him out there three days in a row).  This post season, Miller has appeared in nine games, pitching 17 innings, picking up two wins and a save, giving up just one run (0.53 ERA) and fanning 29 hitters (a record for a reliever in a single post season.)

Stars of the Game

Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis went three-for-five, with a double and a home run, driving in three and scoring two to lead the Indians’ offense, while Corey Kluber pitched another gem – just one run over six innings.  Cubs’ CF Dexter Fowler was a bright spot for Chicago, with a double and a home run in four at bats (two runs scored and one RBI).

World Series Flashback

Roger Peckinpaugh photo

Roger Peckinpaugh -1925 AL MVP committed a WS-record eight errors for the Senators. Photo by The Library of Congress

The first team to come back from a three games–to-one World Series deficit was the 1925 Pirates, who topped the Washington Senators. In that Series, Washington won Game One 4-1, behind Walter Johnson’s five-hit, ten-strikeout complete game. Pittsburgh came back to win Game two 3-2, with a pair of errors by the usually steady fielding Washington SS Roger Peckinpaugh (the 1925 AL MVP) contributing to a two-run eighth inning that broke open a 1-1 tie game.  Game Three was also close, with Washington winning 4-3 and Game Four saw Walter Johnson in peak form again, tossing a six-hit shutout as the Senators topped the Pirates 4-0, scoring all their runs on two home runs in the third inning (a three-run shot by LF Goose Goslin and a solo homer by RF  Joe Harris).The Pirate started their comeback with a 6-3 win in Game Five – in which every Pirate except pitcher Nick Aldredge had at least one hit and Senators’ SS Roger Peckinpaugh made his fifth error of the Series. Game Six went to Pittsburgh 3-2, with another Peckinpaugh error contributing to a two-run third inning for the Pirates. Pittsburgh’s Ray Kremer pitched a nifty six-hitter in that contest.  Game Seven also went to the Pirates.  Pittsburgh was down 6-3 after four innings, but came back to win by a 9-7 score. A dropped popup (by Peckinpaugh) contributed to a two-run Pittsburgh rally in the seventh, and a throwing error by Peckinpaugh contributed to two unearned runs in a three-run Pittsburgh eighth.If there was a goat in this historic comeback, it was Peckinpaugh.  The 1925 season MVP (who hit .294-4-69 in the regular season and made just 28 errors in 126 games) hit .250 for the Series and made a World Series record eight errors. The Senator committed only one other error in the Series.  (Note:  Weather did play a factor. The Series was postponed twice due to weather and Game Seven was played in the rain and fog.  Still, no other player, on either team, committed more than two errors.)

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

MEMBER: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

2016 World Series Game Three – And More

Corey Kluber Cleveland Indians photo

Cubs now must beat Corey Kluber at least once to win the Series. Photo by apardavila

Game Three of the World Series is in the books – a nail-biting 1-0 victory for the Indians that, once again, illustrated Cleveland Manager Terry Francona’s ability to “pull all the right levers.”  The Indians now lead the Series two games to one, which means the Cubs will have to beat Cleveland “ace” Corey Kluber at least once to claim the title.  In Game Three, Francona:

  • successfully dealt with the absence of the DH, starting Carlos Santana in LF for the first time this year and using three players in LF, two in CF, two behind the plate, one pinch hitter and one pinch runner;
  • adeptly used his bullpen (a WIN for Andrew Miller, a HOLD for Bryan Shaw and a SAVE for Cody Allen) after squeezing 4 2/3 scoreless innings out of starter Josh Tomlin; and
  • got the game-winning hit out of pinch-hitter Coco Crisp (hitting just .211 for the post season, but with key hits along the way, including two home runs).

Read on for some BBRT observations on Game Three.

Apologies for Timing of this Post – and a Look at One of Baseball’s Greats

Peter Gorton tells the John Donaldson story.

Peter Gorton tells the John Donaldson story.

Baseball Roundtable’s World Series Game Three wrap is coming out a little later in the day than usual, but for good reason.  I spent the top half of the day at the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Halsey Hall Chapter Meeting – where we listened to former Twins’ player, manager and broadcaster Frank Quilici and heard presentations on baseball behind bars, in France and in “Dodgerland.”  

We also head from Pete Gorton of the Donaldson Network on efforts to shine additional light on the career of John Donaldson – the African-American pitcher (early 1900s-1940) who amassed at least 399 documented wins and 4,995 strikeouts, while pitching in more than 500 cities.  Donaldson was, indeed, Satchel Paige before Satchel Paige.    As Baseball Hall of Famer Buck O’Neill said “John Donaldson showed Satchel Paige the way.”

BBRT will feature a post on Donaldson in the near future, but in the meantime, here’s a link to the Donaldson Network  (click here)  and one to a film of Donaldson in action (click here).

Real Relief. Win. Hold. Save.

Just one run scored in Game Three, by the Indians, on a Coco Crisp pinch hit bloop single in the top of the seventh.  The 1-0 win was Cleveland’s record-breaking fifth shutout of the 2016 post-season.  All five blankings were team efforts.  Yesterday, Cleveland got 4 2/3 scoreless innings from starter Josh Tomlin.  Then Andrew Miller came on for 1 1/3 innings (and the WIN); Bryan Shaw followed with 1 2/3 scoreless innings (for the HOLD); and Cody Allen tossed the last 1 1/3 (for the SAVE).  Win. Hold. Save. Game. Set. Match.

Note:  Staff ace Corey Kluber started three of the remaining four shutouts – going 7, 6 1/3 and 6 innings in those contests.  The fifth whitewashing was started by Ryan Merritt, who went 4 1/3 – followed by Shaw (1 inning for the WIN), Miller (2 2/3 for the HOLD) and Allen (1 inning for the SAVE).

Bryzzo versus Millallen

The Cubs are looking to Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo (affectionately referred to as Bryzzo) to provide the offense.  One the other side of the coin, Cleveland has the Millallen combination – relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen – who have thrown a combined 25 scoreless innings this post season, with 45 strikeouts, seven saves, six holds and two wins.


Sporting News Player of the Year – Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve photo

Photo by apardavila

Houston Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve – in a player vote – was selected as the Sporting News MLB Player of the Year. The 26-year-old Altuve, with six MLB seasons already under his belt, led the AL with a .338 batting average and 216 hits. He also hit 24 home runs, drove in 96 runs, scored 108 and stole 30 bases. 2016 marked Altuve’s second batting title, fourth All Star Selection, third consecutive season of 200 or more hits and fifth consecutive season of at least 30 stolen bases. Each of the past ten Player of the Year winners has also won his league’s MVP Award.  This season, Altuve’s competition for that honor is likely to come from Mookie Betts and David Ortiz of the Red Sox.  We’ll see if Altuve can keep the streak going.

On the Wild Side

Chicago fans not only filled Wrigley Field, but also filled the streets and bars in Wrigleyville, celebrating the first Cubs’ World Series game in 71 years. Meanwhile, more than 20,000 Cleveland fans were going wild watching the game on the video board in Cleveland’s Progressive Field.

World Series Flashback

1908 – Cubs versus Tigers

The 1908 World Series featured a rematch of 1907 – Tigers versus Cubs.  The Cubs were the defending World Champions (they had topped the Tigers in a sweep in 1907) and were in the Fall Classic for the third straight year (they lost to the White Sox in 1906, after a season in which the Cubs won a record 116 games). Cubs’ fans – after three straight World Series appearances – probably did not expect their next World Championship was at least 108 years away. 

The Cubs took the Series four games-to-one, but it was not without its “moments.” In Game One (at Detroit) Chicago trailed 6-5 going into the ninth,  but put five runs on the board in the top of the final inning to steal the victory (the inning included a double steal by CF Solly Hofman and 1B Frank Chance – Yes, the Chance of Tinker to Evers to Chance). The Cubs’ ninth-inning rally included six consecutive one-out singles, two stolen bases and a sacrifice.

Like the first game, Game Two (in Chicago) was close late – tied 0-0 until the eighth, when the Cubs scored six times to cement a 6-1 win. The major blow was a two-run home run by Cubs’ SS Joe Tinker – the only round tripper of the Series. Detroit rallied for an 8-3 win in Game Three and then the Cubs’ pitching took over. Chicago’s Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown (29-9, 1.47 in the regular season) shut out Detroit 3-0 on a complete game four-hitter in Game Four and Orvall Overall (15-11, 1.92)  pitched even more masterfully in Game Five, tossing a complete-game, three-hit shutout with ten strikeouts. Note: Overall fanned a World Series (and MLB) record four batters in the first inning of Game Five, in an inning that went: walk to Tigers’ LF Matty McIntyre; strike out of SS Charley O’Leary; single by 3B Bill Coughlin; strikeout of RF Ty Cobb; strikeout of 1B Claude Rossman, who reached on a wild pitch; strikeout of 2B Germany Schaefer.   The final game drew a crowd of only 6,210 – the smallest in World Series’ history.

Cubs stars’ of the Series were Overall (who won two games for the Cubs and gave up just two runs in 18 1/3 innings); 1B Chance (who hit .421 and stole five bases); Cubs’ SS Tinker (who drove in four); and CF Hofman (who hit .316 and also drove in four). Detroit was led by CF Ty Cobb, who hit .368 for the Series.

The Cubs have since gone to the World Series seven times (not including this season) – 1910, 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938 and 1945 – losing each time.

I tweet baseball @David BBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Relliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.