The On Deck Circle

Baseball History, Commentary and Analysis

Archive for the tag “Jerry Reuss”

The Most Perfectly Average Team of All-Time

It’s common, of course, to wonder and argue who the best players are who ever played the game of baseball.  People also sometimes even make lists of the worst players who ever played baseball.

Lately, though, while reviewing certain pitchers’ career ERA+ and position players career OPS+, I decided to see if I could put together the All-Time Most Perfectly Average Team.

I decided to look at all pitchers who finished their respective careers with an ERA+ of exactly 100, and then examine all position players who finished their careers with an OPS+ of right around 100 as well.

I decided to begin with the pitchers, and I was gratified to find that there were 47 pitchers with a career ERA+ of exactly 100 to choose from.  My goal was to choose nine pitchers from this list that were the most average, even within this group, from which I would create my team’s pitching staff.

To narrow down my list, I first decided to eliminate any pitcher still currently active, so there went Brett Myers, Ervin Santana, and Vicente Padilla.

Then I eliminated Cy Young award winners Mike Scott and Mike Flanagan because if you win a major award, well I guess that makes you well above average.

Being narrow-minded, I also chose to cut out 19th century pitchers because the game itself changed more than a little once it entered the 20th century, and because these guys are all dead and couldn’t care less what I think.  So there went Frank Foreman, Dupee Shaw and some guy named Kitson.

Still left with far more mediocre pitchers than I needed, I then erased 15 pitchers at once by eliminating all pitchers who won 20 games in at least one season.  It surprised me that nearly one-third of all pitchers who finished their careers with an ERA+ of exactly 100 enjoyed at least one 20-win season.  The list included:  Dave Stewart, Danny Jackson, Dick Ellsworth, Pat Dobson, Dave Boswell, Ray Caldwell, Mudcat Grant, George Earnshaw, and Jumbo Elliott, among others.

Finally, I waved farewell to pitchers Mark Portugal, Billy Loes, and a handful of others who failed to make at least 200 starts, but who were also not primarily relief pitchers during their careers.

I also eliminated Jerry Reuss because he won over 200 games in his career, and that’s pretty impressive for a guy with an ERA+ of 100.

When all was said and done, I was left with nine pitchers, which I am content with.  Here, then, are the nine remaining pitchers:

Steve Avery, Todd Stottlemyre, Tex Carleton, Kris Benson, Dave Burba, Bob Smith, Tom Underwood, Dan Schatzeder, and Skip Lockwood.  More on those guys later.

Now a brief description of how I chose my position players.

This provided much more of a challenge because unlike pitchers, where you only have to find starters and relievers, I had to find at least once perfectly average position player for eight positions, plus a few more for my bench (I decided to go with a 24-man roster, including the pitchers.)

I settled on a range of OPS+ for my players of between 99-104, no higher, no lower.  I did not pay much attention to WAR, though I preferred players with a career WAR of less than (or at least not much more than) 20.0.  I was pretty successful in that regard.

I also eschewed players who won several major awards, played in more than a couple of All-Star games, or who in any other significant way displayed any hint of greatness.

Here, alphabetically, are my perfectly ordinary position players:

G. Bell, H. Brooks,, M. Flack, S. Hatteberg, W. Jones, M. Lieberthal, M. Macfarlane, F. Mantilla, W. Montanez, R. Oldring, R. Smalley, R. Swoboda, T. Teufel, J. Youngblood, A. Zarilla.

1934 Goudey baseball card of James "Tex&q...

1934 Goudey baseball card of James "Tex" Carleton of the St. Louis Cardinals #48. PD-not-renewed. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Below, pitcher's names are followed by win-loss records and career WAR (they all, remember, finished their careers with an ERA+ of exactly 100.) For hitters, career OPS+ as well as career WAR follow their respective names.

In list form, then, I now present to you the Most Perfectly Average Team of All-Time:

SP – Steve Avery:  96-83, WAR: 11.3

SP – Todd Stottlemyre:  138-121, WAR: 19.7

SP – Tex Carleton:  100-76, WAR: 16.4

SP – Kris Benson:  70-75, WAR: 11.4

SP – Dave Burba:  115-87, WAR: 13.7

SP/RP – Tom Underwood:  86-87, WAR: 10.8

SP/ RP – Bob Smith: 106-139, 40 saves, WAR: 20.1

RP – Skip Lockwood: 57-97, 68 saves, WAR: 10.8

RP – Dan Schatzeder: 69-68, 10 saves, WAR: 7.8

C – Mike Lieberthal, OPS+ 101, WAR: 15.3

C – Mike Macfarlane, OPS+ 99, WAR: 15.1 (notice how you never see these two catchers in the same room together?)

1B – Willie Montanez, OPS+ 1o1, WAR:  0 (Offensive WAR, 6.4, DWAR, -6.4 = 0, gotta love it!)

1B – Scott Hatteberg, OPS+ 101, WAR: 8.3 (and he’s my 3rd string catcher, too.  Thank you, Billy Beane.)

2B – Tim Teufel, OPS+ 104, WAR: 14.2 (Teufel, with his gaudy 104 OPS+, is the Outback Steakhouse of this chain-restaurant of a list of players.)

2B – Felix Mantilla, OPS+ 101, WAR:  3.3

SS – Roy Smalley, OPS+ 103, WAR:  25.1 (May be a touch rich for this list, but his DWAR was negative 1.1, so it’s not as if I was trying to sneak Cal Ripkin, Jr. by you.)

SS – Hubie Brooks, OPS+ 100, WAR:  10.6 (Mets played Hubie at third base, but when Expos got him in the Gary Carter trade, they converted him to shortstop, where he won two Silver Sluggers, which just goes to show…something.)

3B – Willie “Puddin’ Head” Jones, OPS+ 101, WAR:  23.3, (but never more than 3.9 in a season.)

OF – Gus Bell, OPS+ 102, WAR:  14.3  (A perfectly ordinary, average guy from the heartland.)

OF – Al Zarilla, OPS+ 102, WAR:  5.0

OF – Max Flack, OPS+ 101, WAR:  12.1

OF – Ron Swoboda, OPS+ 101, WAR:  7.3 (Once made an extraordinary catch)

OF – Rube Oldring, OPS+ 103, WAR:  14.7

PH / IF / OF – Joel Youngblood, OPS+ 103, WAR:  10.4

So those are my boys.  I tried to convince Al Bumbry to join my team (OPS+ 104, WAR 22.0), but he would have none of it.

Who would you add or subtract to make this team even more perfectly average?  I’d like to know.


A One Year Anniversary Thank You, and a Shout-Out

Crowd outside Huntington Avenue Grounds before...

Image via Wikipedia

Well, looks like we made it.  Step right up, and have your tickets handy.  The gates are now open.

The On Deck Circle turns one-year old as of November 30th, a few hours from now.

Thank you all for the 5,062 hits over the past year.

Here’s a paragraph I wrote in that first blog-post, by way of introduction:

Memory is what keeps most of us (those of us who love baseball), hooked on this sport.  That is to say, we remember what we loved about baseball in our youth, and we try, sometimes a little too hard, to pass these memories on to our own children.”

Further attempting to clarify the intended purpose of this blog, I later added:

There are actually two questions here, important to both American history proper, and to baseball history:

  1. Who deserves to be remembered?
  2. How do they deserve to be remembered?

The answers to these questions comprise the collective historical mythology that we pass down through the generations, from father to son.”

Thus, this blog has primarily been focused on those two important questions over the past year.  I hope that my efforts to resurrect the careers of semi-forgotten stars, while also periodically sharing personal stories of my baseball youth, have stayed true to my original, intended purpose.

Meanwhile, I also wanted to take this opportunity to do a Shout-Out for several other baseball blogs that I have followed over the past year.  In some cases, the authors of these blogs have been kind enough to provide useful, constructive feedback on my 83 posts.

This is my way of saying thank you to some of the people who provided inspiration and support to me along the way.

In each case, these blogs have given me some reason to come back to each one of them again and again. 

So, in no particular order, here they are:

1) DMB Historic World Series Replay

Ever wonder how the old-time World Series match-ups would have turned out if they could be replayed once again, using the same rosters and lineups as were used in the original match-ups?  Well, look no further.  In a recent World Series replay, the 1908 Cubs were upset by Ty Cobb‘s Tigers.  Blog writer Kevin Graham provides brief commentary and full box scores of each replay.

Recently, Kevin has also added a series in which he takes a closer look at members of Baseball’s Hall of Fame.  I am subscribed to this blog, and always enjoy following along.

2)  Play That Funky Baseball

Where to begin on this one.

This is one funky baseball road-trip through the 1977 season, complete with a stopover at Graceland.  Populated by one of the strangest cast of characters to ever spill popcorn on unsuspecting patrons at a ballpark near you, including C. Buzz Gip, Crazy Amy, Mikey Spano, Friendly Fred and others, trying not to physically vanish from this alternate universe before their favorite teams are eliminated from playoff contention.

Ballplayers with names you have long since forgotten, like Doug Rau, Jerry Reuss, and Jack Billingham once again fill the baseball scorecards.  Check it out and you may find yourself riding along on this demented baseball road-trip.

3.  Verdun2’s Blog

I’ve been following this blog longer than any other baseball blog.  It is always well-written, and the author (who is that masked man, anyway?) is that rarest of baseball fanatics:  One who doesn’t have his head up his ass every time he opens his mouth.

Verdun2 specializes, but does not limit himself, to the extremely early days of baseball (19th and early 20th century.)  His historical perspective always provides an interesting learning opportunity for the reader.  He also writes about contemporary baseball topics such as picking the players who will win the post-season awards, and which retired players will / should be elected to the Hall of Fame.

V has also been an extremely loyal reader of The On Deck Circle since virtually the beginning, and for that I am ever grateful.

4)  Section 518

If you are a Mets fan, as I am, look no further for analysis of this ugly duckling franchise (with the current emphasis on ugly.)  A Mets fan in the truest sense, JD is an optimist willing to lay his head on the chopping block year after year, yet realistic enough to accurately gauge their chances for making the playoffs.

I like to read his take on which moves he thinks the Mets should make, and his analysis on moves they have already made.  JD’s evaluations are logical and often brutally honest.  Good stuff.

5)  The Ball Caps Blog

What can you say?  The man is addicted to ball caps.

Actually, my friend Daniel Day simply has a healthy appreciation for all things baseball, so long as you can wear it.  He has been known to travel to Timbuktu for an original 1912 Giants home baseball cap.  Or at least to the local Marshall’s for a facsimile.  Always willing to support other baseball fan’s blogs, it’s time he got a little love sent back at him.

Thank you, Dan, and keep up the good work.

6)  The World According to Keitho

On any given day, in any given post, Keitho is likely to write about how driving in San Fran compares to driving in NYC, his experiences playing jazz in a local nightclub, trying to program a VCR (!) on Thanksgiving, or, when the mood strikes him, his current opinions on all things baseball.

Reading Keitho’s blog is a bit like checking in with a friend of yours via any other social networking platform from time to time.  His style is open, engaging, funny, and interesting.  Reading the World According to Keitho is like opening a box of chocolates, because  it’s always better than NOT opening a box of chocolates.

Keitho pulls no punches, but he is an entertaining social critic with an eye for detail.  And his periodic descents into baseball analysis keep me coming back.

7)  Never Too Much Baseball

I have to confess that I don’t get around to reading this one as much as I should.  His posts pique my interest every time I read them.  His post, “Be Careful: What You Write Might Be Held Against You,” 10/5/10, is one of the most hilarious articles I’ve read in a long time regarding how imprecise writing can completely undermine a writer’s (otherwise) best efforts.

Charles April is never imprecise with his language.  And his logic is even sharper.  His analysis of the various blown calls in the MLB playoffs, and his subsequent arguments in favor of instant replay, are typical of the excellent writing you will find in this blog.  Have a look.

It would be impossible for me to include each and every one of the other baseball blogs and bloggers that I read.  There are links on the right-hand side of my homepage that will take you to several others that are certainly worth a look.  Therefore, with apologies to anyone who may feel slighted, let us stop here for now.

Meanwhile, my plans for future posts include an analysis of the most underrated player of the past 20 years, and why he belongs in The Hall of Fame (hint:  he is a first-time candidate on this year’s ballot.)  I also plan to write a third Underrated / Overrated blog-post about baseball and everything else I can throw in to the mix.

Otherwise, my hope is that this blog will evolve organically, perhaps into something like a Triffid that can only be destroyed by seawater.  Or perhaps into something that will continue to generate a reasonable amount of daily traffic due to the continuously high rate of leisure time apparently enjoyed by the average middle-aged baseball fan (like me.)

Anyway, here’s hoping that I am lucky enough to continue to meet and correspond with fellow baseball fans like you.  Until next time, carry your trash out with you, and please drive home carefully.

Regards, Bill Miller

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