Houston’s all-rookie lineup

This one gets trotted out every year, so why not now? On September 27, 1963, the Houston Colt .45’s started an all-rookie lineup, all age 21 or under. Here’s their box score, with age (years.days), year in MLB, career game number, and a few notes:

Batting AB R H RBI BB SO Age
Year Car.
Sonny Jackson SS 3 0 0 0 0 1 19.080 1st 1 1st batter grounded out to him; booted his 3rd chance.
First full year was ’66. Played 936 MLB games.
     Ernie Fazio 3B 1 1 0 0 1 0 21.245 2nd 113 141 career games.
Joe Morgan 2B 5 0 2 1 0 1 20.008 1st 6 Hit first XBH (triple). First full year was ’65. 2,649 games.
Jim Wynn CF 4 0 2 0 1 0 21.199 1st 68 1,920 games. Went 9-6 in SB first 2 years, then 43-4 in ’65.
Rusty Staub 1B 5 1 2 1 0 1 19.179 1st 148 Most G in a season by a teenager* (150). 2,951 games.
Aaron Pointer RF 5 0 1 0 0 1 21.161 1st 2 1st start, 1st PAs, 1st hit. Next MLB game in ’66. 40 career games.
Brock Davis LF 5 0 1 1 0 1 19.343 1st 34 Made 2 errors in this game.
Homered in 25th game, age 19; no more HR in 217 G thru age 28.
Glenn Vaughan 3B-SS 4 0 2 0 0 0 19.223 1st 7 This the only 2-hit game of his 9-game career.
Jerry Grote C 3 0 1 0 0 2 20.356 1st 3 1st hit in this game. In ’64, hit .181 in 325 PAs; worst BA since ’47
(300+ PAs). 2-time All-Star with Mets. 1,421 games.
     Dave Adlesh C 1 0 0 0 0 1 20.074 1st 5 Career .168 BA is 8th-worst with 250+ ABs. 106 games.
Jay Dahl P 0 0 0 0 0 0 17.295 1st 1 His only MLB game: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 7 R. Last 17-year-old to appear
in a MLB game. Died in a car crash 2 years later.
     Danny Coombs P 0 0 0 0 0 0 21.188 1st 1 First 3 batters got hits off him. Had good ’70 in SDP rotation. 144 G.
     John Weekly PH 0 0 0 0 1 0 26.105 2nd 47 Hit .363 at AAA that year. 1st MLB hit was a HR. 53 games.
     Joe Hoerner P 1 1 0 0 0 0 26.319 1st 1 3 scoreless IP in debut, and scored a run. Didn’t stick until ’66, but
had a fine run from then thru ’71: 2.16 ERA, 163 ERA+ in 375 IP.
     Mike White PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 24.283 1st 3 Full name Joyner Michael White; son of Joyner Clifford (Jo-Jo) White,
Tigers CF of the ’30s. (Only other “Joyner” in MLB is Wally.) 100 G.
     Jim Dickson P 0 0 0 0 0 0 25.160 1st 12 Later traded for Eddie Kasko, starting SS of ’61 Reds. 109 games.
     Carl Warwick PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 26.212 3rd 367 2nd and last year as a regular. Acquired for Bobby Shantz. 530 G.
     Dick Drott P 0 0 0 0 0 0 27.088 7th 176 Last MLB game. #3 in 1957 ROY (15-11, 109 ERA+, age 20). 176 G.
Team Totals 39 3 11 3 3 8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/6/2012.

Houston lost the game, 10-3, to the last-place Mets, who had dropped 12 of their past 13 games.

P.S. Two days later, in the season finale, John Paciorek — older brother of Tom, much-older brother of Jim — had the greatest 1-game career ever, with a line of 3-4-3-3, plus 2 walks.


* Staub’s 150 games in ’63 is a teenage record by true age, not seasonal age. Bob Kennedy played 154 games in 1940 at seasonal age 19, but he turned 20 after 109 games. Staub was 19 the whole season.


Houston’s all-rookie lineup — 73 Comments

    • Interesting parallel – Wynn’s best season, 1969, is also tied for 73rd all-time in oWAR.
      His 9.4 matches
      2000 Giambi
      1971 Torre
      1949 J. Robinson

      • How does Wynn’s 1969 season generate 9.4 of oWar but Stargell’s 1973 season which is substantially better only generate 7.7 of oWar?

        How can Wynn have 3 oWar seasons better than Stargell’s best when Stargell clearly has better offensive stats?

        • My only guess is the super high amount of walks Wynn generated in 1969–148!! That led to an other-worldly .436 OBP, and Stargell didn’t reach .400. Again, just a guess but that’s the number that sticks out. WAR loves high BB/9 rates.

        • Some reasons why Wynn ’69 has more oWAR than Stargell ’73:
          (1) League offensive context: The NL averaged 4.05 R/G in ’69, 4.15 in ’73.
          (2) Positions: As a CF, Wynn’s “WAR Runs from positional scarcity” were 0, but LF Stargell had -7 runs in that category.
          (3) Baserunning: Wynn was a good baserunner (+3 runs), while Stargell was below average (-1).
          (4) Believe it or not, Wynn earned +8 runs from the 16 times that he reached on an error, tops in the league. Stargell had just 4 ROE, for 0 runs.

          • John: This is a good time to bring up my question. Is there anyplace where I could find out precisely how Rbat is calculated? I am not looking for the verbal description but for the actual equations and parameters used for the calculations.

          • (5) Wynn’s home park was the Astrodome. So Stargell (at home in 3 Rivers) would need a lot more runs to generate as many wins as Wynn.

          • Richard @10 — Sadly, I still cannot find that formula for Rbat. Some of the citations I found mentioned that it was developed by Sean Smith, but in a quick perusal of BaseballProjection.com I could not find anything like a glossary. (I did notice, though, that he’s added HighHeatStats to his list of baseball links, which is kinda cool.)

          • Thanks anyway.

            BTW, I noticed that 4 Houston players made their ML debut that day. Is that a record?

          • Richard @23 — I was curious about those debuts. But my attempts to find a record via the Game Finder all timed out.

            My hunch, FWIW, is that 4 debuts in a game is not a record. But I’d really like to find out if there’s ever been another starting lineup of (a) all 1st-year players, and/or (b) all under age 22.

          • More to Richard @23 — The Play Index seems less clogged right now. I found one team game with 6 debuts:
            – White Sox, 1934 opening day
            – 1B Zeke Bonura, 3B Joe Chamberlain, OF Frenchy Bordagaray, OF Frenchy Uhalt (I kid you not!), P Lee Stine, P John Pomorski. Bonura and Chamberlain started.

            And one with 5 debuts:
            – Athletics, 1954 opening day
            – CF Vic Power, 2B Spook Jacobs, C Billy Shantz (Bobby’s younger brother), P Ozzie Van Brabant, and P Bill Upton (brother of Tom “Muscles” Upton. There have been 4 Uptons in the major leagues, comprising 2 sets of brothers.)

            Last year, there was one game of 4 debuts: Nats, Sept. 6, P Atahualpa Severino, P Brad Peacock, 2B Steve Lombardozzi, Jr., and OF Corey Brown. No other team had more than 2 in a game last year.

            One other 4-debut game this decade:
            – SFG, Sept. 5, 2001: C Yorvit Torrealba, SS Cody Random, P Kurt Ainsworth, and OF Jalal Leach.

            I find four 4’s in the ’90s, two in the ’80s, none in the ’70s, four in the ’60s (including the 4th game in Houston history), nine in the ’50s, three in the ’40s, eleven before that.

          • A little off-topic here, John, but could you point me to some sort of primer or a good article one of you may have written that explains how best to extract data from the Play Index? I’m woefully behind on that. My biggest problem seems to be consecutive seasons.

          • I dont need it right now either…..you’re currently busy responding to good comments about your article.

          • There have been two games featuring 7 career debuts. Both were in the AL, both on opening day, and in consecutive seasons.

            Apr 13, 1954: Red Sox at As in last AL home opener in Philadelphia
            – Debuting for Boston: 19 year-old Billy Consolo starting at 2B, and subs Tom Herrin, Karl Olson and Harry Agganiss
            – Debuting for Philly: starter Vic Power, and subs Bill Upton and Billy Shantz

            Consolo picked up his first hit, and Upton got his only career save teaming with catcher Shantz, the brother of As starter Bobby Shantz.

            Apr 11, 1955: Orioles at Senators
            – Debuting for Baltimore: starters Hal Smith and Don Leppert, subs Don Ferrarese and Bob Alexander
            – Debuting for Washington: starter Bobby Kline, and subs Ernie Oravetz and Pedro Ramos

            Leppert got his first hit. Oravetz reached on an error as a pinch-hitter, earning a first RBI on a (seemingly) curious official scoring decision, and then got picked off. Ramos, who would go on to pitch in almost 600 games in a 15-year career, made his debut as a 6th inning pinch-runner and then was replaced by another pinch-runner after reaching 3rd base on the Oravetz play.

          • @40
            Wow! I never heard of a pinch-runner for a pinch-runner. Perhaps Ramos was injured.

          • Frenchy Uhalt? Okay, that goes right toward the top of the list of best names ever.

            In fact, wasn’t there another blog asking for submissions for best names ever? I didn’t see Frenchy’s name submitted. It should!

          • Doug @40 — I was checking for most debuts for one team in one game. And I found 5 for the Athletics alone in that April 13, 1954 game. (See my comment #28 above.) So, counting Boston’s 4, there were 9 MLB debuts in that game.

          • @47.

            Right you are, John. Sorry, I missed that we were talking about the same game.

            Seems there must be a glitch in P-I. I ran the query again, just to be sure I didn’t screw it up, and it still says 7 guys for both teams.

            But, now we know it was 9. An appropriate number, somehow.

          • Nope. It wasn’t P-I that had the glitch. It was me.

            There were only 7 debuts in the Red Sox-As game – 5 As and 2 BoSox (Agganis and Herrin). Consolo and Olson had debuted earlier.

  1. “I would be shocked if 10 years from now there’s not a DH in both leagues,” said one influential baseball source.
    God I hope not. This was from a story on CNNSI, I won’t link it because it depresses me. I have come to accept the DH in the AL and I like the different game in different parks during inter-league play. I would have to think that all the stats guys would be against DH in both leagues. Curious to hear what others think.

    • I was born in 1968 (started following Baseball in 1974) and have always rooted for the Yanks so the DH has always existed during that time. The DH doesn’t bother me, but watching pitchers that are a menace to themselves with the bat or on the base paths does bother me.

      I like the DH but don’t need for both leagues to have it. If I had to choose, I would say (out of the scenarios that could actually happen):
      1) Keep it the way it is
      2) DH in both leagues (remember, no one says you HAVE to use the DH – I wish some team would have the pitcher bat if they were a really good hitter/runner)
      3) no DH

      For scenarios that could never happen:
      1) The DH is optional and there would be some kind of benefit to a team if their pitcher batted (can’t think of what the “benefit” would be though…which doesn’t help the scenario)

        • Hasn’t the lack of DH in the National League hurt them long-term in interleague play? Not having that roster flexibility, or let alone having that one or two guys that regularly DH and are used to the curious “I’m only batting in this game” thing. Sure, the AL’s pitchers probably aren’t quite as good at hitting and bunting, but I think that effect is lesser than the DH advantage for the AL.

          All-time AL is 1,937-1773. So, AL is at .522 and NL is at .478. Is this statistically enough to prove my point? I did find a good article when trying to find all-time DH stats in interleague play which suggests that may not be the case:


          • IIRC, the AL’s interleague dominance in the last decade or so has held up as well in NL parks (no DH) as in AL parks, after adjusting for normal home-field advantage.

            In the last 10 years:
            – AL @ NL, 602-655, .479
            – AL @ AL, 4576-5502, .454

            The AL has simply been a better league, on average, for many years now. That makes it hard to isolate a DH effect from interleague play.

          • I have seen the stats overall for DH’s for both leagues, I just can’t find them right now. The AL has definitely outperformed the NL at DH, but yeah there are many other factors involved. I guess the AL being better got a tad more lopsided this offseason with Prince and Pujols moving there.

          • bstar @30 — Here are 5-year DH averages (2007-11):

            NL – .245/.314/.411/.725
            AL – .259/.341/.436/.777

            (The AL figure is for all games, not just interleague.)

            I’m struck by how unimpressive the AL line is.

          • The difference in interleague play, IIRC, seemed to be a little bigger than that. I’ll see if I can find it somewhere.

      • If they’re going to keep the DH in the AL only, I’d like to see it in use when an AL team visits an NL team during interleague play (instead of the other way ’round).

      • I don’t think the fact that pitchers strike out a lot and occasionally look bad on the bases is a big deal. I like the strategy of laying down the bunt and the pitchers that actually can hit give themselves a great advantage. I know the DH isn’t going away, it’s used in college and high school where they don’t even need it.

    • I started watching baseball in the early 70s, fan of an AL team. I never want to see pitchers with a bat in their hands. Ever.

      That said, I really don’t have a problem with the two leagues having different rules, probably because I grew up in that environment, so it’s the norm. That’s why I find it funny that the media will sometimes refer to those who are against the DH as “traditionalists,” yet tradition is constantly changing. Someone watching AL teams for 40 years views the DH as part of his/her baseball tradition, just as fans of NL baseball view the pitching batting as part of their tradition.

      The DH has long since ceased being an experiment and is now part of the game. I suspect that if pitchers in 1876 were an weak with the bat as they are today, then the game never would have included pitchers hitting. It wouldn’t have included the DH, but instead would have been a game where the pitcher was treated as unique (as he is) to the other players, part of the defensive spectrum, and only the eight position players would have batted. No DH and no pitchers hitting.

      I’m more than happy if the leagues play by different rules. Yet in the end, I do suspect there is a greater chance the NL will adopt the DH than the AL will ever drop it, and oddly it’s now a discussion of costs and economics, which at one time was the reason the NL resisted the DH. Beyond tradition, one line of thinking as to why the NL won’t adopt the DH has to do with money. NL teams would have to pay for a more expensive player. Yet the expense of players is what could very well now drive the NL to the DH. The cost/expense around players continues to rise. The DH will allows teams to maximize their investment in hitters, rotating them into the DH slot as a way to rest them, and a place to plant hitters as they age. The DH also allows teams to protect their investment in pitchers. AJ Burnett highlighted that very point last week.

      • If the DH is now being used at every level, starting in grade school, it is absurd to ask pitchers to arrive in the bigs and stand in the box.

        Look at the case of Burnett:

        21 PA since 2005
        A total of 16 PA in the minors right before he got called up to pitch (and hit) in 1999.
        Don’t know if he hit at Central Arkansas Christian.

        Great athlete?
        Of course.
        That doesn’t mean that he is prepared to step in against the best pitchers on the planet.

        And not only step in, but turn and square his body to the pitcher, slide his pitching hand 40% of the way up the bat, and try to gently poke at a rock spinning at 90mph. It is just dumb to expect that of someone who isn’t conditioned by years of sustained repetition.

        • Right. That just compounds the problem.

          Pitchers are not only good athletes, they are usually the best athletes on the teams growing up. That eventually changes as they move to more challenging leagues, either staying at pitcher or becoming a position player. Yet it’s still not entirely uncommon for a player to be drafted by MLB teams showing skills as as a pitcher and a position player (Casey Kelly one recent example), but their MLB teams will make a determination on where their skills fit best.

          The point is that no matter when it happens, eventually players become either position players or pitchers. Those who become pitchers stop hitting and developing, yet then years later, some are once again asked to hit against the most advanced pitchers in the world. They’re asked to do something where at worst they may have little aptitude to do so, or at best never developed their hitting skills and are incredibly rusty. Add in that even NL teams don’t want their pitchers taking great risks to develop their skills since they’re being paid to be pitchers. It’s an impossible task but for a few.

          I doubt that’s what the game’s founders envisioned.

        • I give you Josh Tomlin. 2-2 so far as a hitter despite having no at bats in the minors and probably none in college either.

        • Lack of preparation doesn’t seem to have hurt Zach Britton of the Orioles.

          8 big-league PAs, 5 hits including a double, a HR and 2 RBI. Has played 3 games in his career (all inter-league), and has one or more hits in each one.

          • Maybe this is the secret of Britton’s success:

            During his only year at Canyon High School,[2] he spent two days in intensive care when he sustained fractures of the skull and clavicle and bleeding in the brain as a result of diving headfirst into concrete while attempting to catch a foul popup during baseball practice with the freshman squad.

        • I’m surprised to learn that, just since 1990, pitchers have had no fewer than 70 hitting streaks of 5 games or more (counting only games with an AB).

          Livan Hernandez and Mike Hampton each have 4 such streaks, and Carlos Zambrano, Dontrelle Willis and Doug Drabek all have 3. Zambrano has the longest streak in this period – 13 games with 3 HR, 10 RBI, 1.265 OPS. Heck, even Roy Halladay has one of these streaks (5 singles).

        • I think the Burnett deal was a fluke. Yes pitchers strike out a lot and often look stupid at the plate, but I’d challenge you to come up with some numbers that say pitchers get hurt at the plate more than hitters because they don’t get enough practice. Zambrano hurt himself legging out a bunt a few years ago, and everyone was all up in arms about how he hustles too much. But Z springs off that mound many times during a game with the same risk of pulling a muscle.

          • I would like to spill bourbon on the Fox and Friends hostess. If I was sitting next to her I would order a Jack neat and lean over like I was listening to her and then I’d spill on her lap. I wouldn’t touch her like I was mopping it up even though with most non-celebrity aging babes in town I do. Just the thought of premium bourbon or scotch soaking her clothes makes me happy, if you know what I mean.

    • Currently in the minor leagues, if either team is an affiliate of an AL team, the DH is used. I suspect that twist may come to the majors soon.

      The NL lost Fielder and Pujols to the AL this offseason; some have suggested it was so they could finish their careers as DHs. In the case of Hank Aaron, 201 of his 222 games with the Brewers (and all 22 of his HR) were as a DH.

      Of all the professional adult leagues in the world, only the NL and one of the Japanese leagues does not use a DH.

      In 1973 when the DH was first adopted, pitchers were expected to go 9 innings. Now, a pitcher rarely bats after the 6th, and with expanded pitching staffs, there are fewer position players that are available to bat once and disappear from the game. Double switches also eat into the bench. In short, a 25-man roster with a 12-man pitching staff gives only 5 possible bench players, 3 of whom will hit for the pitcher. Noone is left to fill in for injured players.

      In the 1980s, there was a movement to keep lights out of Wrigley Field. From 1942-1987, the 46 seasons where the Cubs would have had lights were it not for Pearl Harbor, they made the postseason 2 times (one would expect 5 or 6 times based on their league/division size). In the 1988-2011 era with lights, they have made the postseason 4 times in 24 seasons (about what can be expected for a team in a division of six). Lights have not hurt the Cubs as much as the “traditionalists” would have thought.

  2. As I have proudly stated many times before, I attended the game at Connie Mack Stadium when Astros’ catcher Dave Adlesh slugged his sole ML homer. Went with the local little league…on another little league trip, saw 3 HR’s by Braves’ catcher Bob Tillman. I guess it was career day when we attended :-)

    • Career day, indeed! Being at Tillman’s 3-HR game means that you also saw:
      – Hank Aaron’s 537th HR, breaking the tie with Mantle for #3 all-time.
      – Career-worst 5 HRs allowed by Grant Jackson, who allowed just 16 HRs in 253 IP that year. (One more would have tied the modern game record.)
      – Cecil Upshaw’s 20th save of the season, the only 20-save year by a Brave before 1978.

      And if you stayed for the 2nd game of the doubleheader, you saw Johnny Callison and Dick Allen hit back-to-back HRs in the 8th to rally the Phils to victory. It was Allen’s 2nd HR of the game and gave him a .540 WPA, 7th-best of his career. And the winning pitcher was Bill Champion.

      BTW, before that July 30 game, Tillman was hitting .176 with 6 HRs, and hadn’t played in almost 2 weeks.

      • JA:
        I might have one better than that….I can recall as an eight year old in 1966 Byrum Saam calling Henry Aaron’s #400 off Bo Belinsky (his second of the game on 4/20/66). His first of the game was also his first of the season and it came off Ray Culp in the top of the 1st inning. Oddly enough, this first homer of the season represented back – to -back homers by Aaron off Culp as he had hit #398 of his career off Culp on 9/20/65.
        That Aaron was a pretty fair hitter.

        Still, the most impressive performance I have ever seen at a live game may have been Rick Wise setting down 32 Cubs in a row in a September game in 1971 at Veterans Stadium. That was a bad Phillies ballclub but he kept them in the game and hung on long enough to take a W. I imagine the fact that Wise could really hit may have helped him go the distance

        • Wow, Paul — I must have heard of that game before, but the details escaped me. Wise allowed 3 runs and 2 HRs (including the career 1st by Pat Bourque) to the first 7 batters, before reeling off 32 straight outs.

          Then, in the 12th, when the Phils got a man to 3rd with 1 out (on a sac bunt by Luzinski – the only one of his career!), the Cubs intentionally loaded the bases to bring up Wise — who won the game with his 3rd hit.

          P.S. The opposing SP … Milt Pappas.

  3. With Wynn, Staub, Grote, and Morgan, that is a nice core.

    The 1971 Astros team was really on the cusp of something great. They should have held onto Staub at 1B and not traded Joe Morgan. The rest of the lienup was solid – Roger Metzger, Doug Rader, Bob Watson, Cesar Cedeno, Jimmy Wynn and Johnny Edwards (not sure if Grote would have helped, but they did give him to the Mets for nothing).

    The pitching was coming around too, with Don Wilson, Ken Forsch, Larry Dierker, and a 21-year old J.R. Richard.
    Note: in my scenario above, the Astros never got Jack Billingham from the Expos in the Rusty Staub trade.

    There is a big “What-If?” in there – What if the Astros never traded Joe Morgan to the Reds? Would there still be the Big Red Machine? Would Tommy Helms and Lee May be in the Hall of Fame? Would we still have been subjected to Morgan doing ESPN games?

    • They also had Cesar Geronimo (who they included in the Morgan trade to the Reds) and John Mayberry (who they gave away to the Royals).

      • Outfield defensive runs saved, 1973-75 combined:
        60 – Cesar Geronimo
        52 – Bill North
        46 – Paul Blair, Dwight Evans
        34 – Jim Wynn
        30 – Rick Miller
        28 – Pete Rose

        Rose was only an OF in ’73-74, earning 2.0 dWAR each year. Change the 3-year period to 1972-74, and Rose is tied with Blair for #1.

        • John,

          That adds a new wrinkle to the “Not trading Joe Morgan” scenario as Perez/Driessan my have stayed at 3rd (with Lee May @ 1B) and Pete would have stayed in the OF.

          • I dunno, Perez was frequently replaced at third for a defensive replacement late in games his last several seasons (1970, 1971) as the regular third baseman, so I think the move to first was inevitable.

            Check out 1971:
            3B: 148 games started, but only 86 complete games (62 games removed from 3B)
            1B: 44 games, but only 9 started (all completed)

            It’s pretty obvious that he was frequently being moved from third to first, or being pulled from third for a defensive replacement, in late innings.

          • Lawrence @70 — That’s good data, but I get a different picture from a deeper look at those 1971 defensive stats:

            – Perez started 148 out of 162 games at 3B, or 89%.
            – He handled 1,222 out of Cincy’s 1,444 defensive innings at 3B. That’s 85%.
            – So, in the 62 games that he started but didn’t finish at 3B, he only missed about 61 defensive innings.
            – The man who absorbed most of those innings was Woody Woodward. He otherwise shared the SS job with young Dave Concepcion, who also subbed in at 3B in 7 games.

            I think those moves were more about getting the most out of two defensively capable shortstops than they were a condemnation of Perez’s ability.

            Also, the ’71 Reds, defending NL champs, were never in contention, starting 0-4 and 4-10. By the end of May they were 16 games out, and they never got closer than 10 GB until they were eliminated. Might as well give the horses a bit of rest here and there when you have nothing to fight for.

    • Interesting that, before 1971, Morgan consistently hit better in the Astrodome than on the road. His home/road OPS:

      – 1965, .835/.748
      – 1966, .836/.762
      – 1967, .868/.708
      – 1968, out
      – 1969, .796/.681
      – 1970, .818/.743
      – 1971, .687/.817

      His career numbers in the Astrodome — .276/.404/.411/.815 — are nearly the same as his overall numbers (.271/.392/.427/.819).

      Meanwhile, little Joe didn’t hit a lick in Cincinnati until Riverfront Stadium opened. His career line in 29 G at Crosley Field was .188/.320/.230/.550, with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 6 Runs.

      Finally, his career grass/turf OPS was .772/.855.

    • Pat Gillick made a career of NOT making trades like that and took it to the Hall of Fame. He may have developed great farm systems and scouting, but he sure didn’t appear to want to go out on a limb to make trades

      I believe the 1972 Astros moved Wynn to RF and the entire team had a good year offensively and ended up .500 – which was light years of improvement over the first ten years of the franchise

  4. “In ’64, [Jerry Grote] hit .181 in 325 PAs; worst BA since ’47”

    Must have started a fad. Worse BAs than that in 300+ PAs occurred 11 times in 11 years (1967-77), including such notables as:

    – Clay Dalrymple, 1967
    – Elston Howard, 1967
    – George Scott, 1968
    – Al Weis, 1968
    – Dal Maxvill, 1969
    – Dave Roberts, 1974
    – Deron Johnson, 1974
    – Bud Harrelson, 1977

    • I watched Todd Greene take batting practice before a game in Milwaukee in what must have been 1999, because Mo Vaughn was also playing. I don’t recall ever seeing a player make contact like that. Almost every time he made contact it was an absolute laser beam and about half of them made it into the stands. I have to admit that I’ve only seen major league teams take most of their batting practice maybe a dozen times or so but I’ve seen it in the minors more times than I can count plus several of the All-Star game home run derby’s plus 5 or 6 broadcasts of the original black & white television program where I watched Mantle, Aaron & Banks among others.

      If he could have learned to lay off the off-speed stuff out of the strike zone he might have been the Jim Rice of catchers.

      • H-vig:
        ….or maybe even the next Brian Harper. Both of them raked in the minors and, if I remember correctly, both were Angels draftees. I fremember seeing old issues of the Sporting News and being amazed at the ridiculous numbers guys would put up in the Texas League….

        • Brian Harper tangent: In 1981 in the PCL, at age 21, Harper hit .350 (4th in the league) with 28 HRs (3rd), 122 RBI (2nd) and 339 total bases (1st). He went 3-for-11 in a September trial.

          That fall, the Angels traded him to Pittsburgh straight-up for a 31-year-old Tim Foli — a career .251 hitter with no power, no walks, no speed, no gold gloves….

          As it turned out, Harper didn’t get established as a MLB hitter for another 6 years. But from that 1981 vantage point, the Angels must have been really down on his defense.

        • I thought for a brief moment that I had probably seen Harper play when he was with the Quad Cities but that was a couple years before I had moved there. I did see him a few times when he was with the Twins.

          For reasons I cannot explain, the teams catcher is almost always my favorite minor league player. I’ve seen a few that I thought were good enough to make it someday but for one reason or another none have ever had more than a cup of coffee. I’m sure I’ve seen a few catchers from visiting teams that later made it (like Yadier Molina when he was in Peoria) but none of them made enough of an impression in the game or 2 that I might have seen them play that I remember.

  5. On a tangent … The recent news that Lenny Dykstra was sentenced to 3 months in prison reminded me of another 49-year-old.

    Dykstra debuted in 1985. Jamie Moyer, 4 months older than Dykstra, made his MLB debut the next year.

    Dykstra played 12 years in the majors, a pretty long career. When he last played, Moyer’s career record was 72-79. Moyer has gone 195-125 since Dykstra’s last game.

    • Any word on how Moyer is doing in the Rockies camp?

      His ERA in his last year in Philadelphia was pretty lousy but he still managed a WHIP of 1.101 as a 47 year old which would have been good for 7th in the NL if he had met the innings pitched requirement.

  6. The trio of Morgan, Wynn and Staub was quite a solid foundation. Wynn never did quite escape the AstroDome until near the end of his career, with only a couple of solid seasons left in him.

    I clicked on Staub’s B-R page for a quick review, and two things occurred to me. Perhaps they had in the past and I forgotten.

    First, I immediately thought of Harold Baines, so it wasn’t too surprising when I clicked to the bottom of the page and noticed Baines was #3 on Staub’s similarity score. Yet I have heard some people argue for Baines making the HOF as one of the best DH’s ever, yet I don’t remember anyone taking up the cause for Staub, who was every much as good a hitter, and had a higher WAR. Is Staub penalized by some for playing the field more?!!

    Also, I have to wonder if Staub actually cost himself a chance a the HOF by finishing his career in the NL as a part-time player and eventually a pinch hitter. His last year in Texas showed he could still hit. If he stayed in the AL, I wonder if he could have used those last five seasons getting more ABs and hits to get past 3,000. That was pretty much a lock for the HOF during Staub’s days.

  7. Pardon me for being a bit late to the party (and for reading for all these years, but not posting), but had to chime in, as I often wind up thinking about this game – and it was played nearly 12 years before I was born.

    It’s easy to look at the box score and focus on some of the more notable names in the lineup. There’s guys like Jimmy Wynn and Rusty Staub, members of the Hall Of Very Good. There’s guys like Sonny Jackson, who had long careers. Of course, there is Joe Morgan. And we certainly can’t forget Aaron Pointer, who had some very successful singing sisters.

    Everytime I see this box score, it’s the same name that jumps out at me. Jay Dahl. All 17 years of him, the last MLB player to trot out onto the field before being a legal adult. His one and only game in the show, even though he was not immortalized for it like Archibald Graham. And, of course, the youngest MLB player to lose his life, at a far-too-young 19 years of age.

    Why him, over all the other names in that lineup? We share a link. My father grew up with him, and was one of his high school teammates back in Colton, CA. And, when I first started becoming hooked on baseball, he told me about growing up with this left-handed kid who used to stand on the mound and make everyone look silly, and then would step up to the plate and make their opponents look silly. He’d show me the yearbook photos, and talk about how this kid got his one day in the sun in “the show”, and before everyone knew it, Jay was gone. I didn’t even come into this world until ten years later, but that always stuck with me.

    As a result, I grew up loving the stories of baseball moreso than the raw numbers. Some are sources of joy, and others of sadness. And though it’s been nearly 50 years since that game, I’m still drawn to it, often wondering “What might have been?”. What if Jay hadn’t struggled with a back injury in 1964, and what if he had been in a different place in a different time on that fateful night in 1965? Don’t get me wrong. I love the raw numbers as much as anyone. But that boxscore makes me think of all the stories from all those names, and it’s always Jay’s that comes to mind first.

    I just wanted to toss in my .03 (adjusted for inflation) with you blogging about it now.

  8. #71/John A.,
    I might agree with you somewhat if Perez played third base regularly after 1971, but he NEVER played third base again, ever. Rightly or wrongly, management collectively decided that Tony Perez wasn’t good enough to play third base, and 1971 was the last stop on the transition to first base.

    • Lawrence, you’re probably right. Even though there was no obvious reason for the Reds to want to move Perez off 3B after 1971 — his ’71 fielding pct. was #2 out of 7 NL players with 100+ G at 3B, his range factor was #1, his DPs were #3, and they had no great 3B prospects coming through their system — a review of the literature available online does indicate that management viewed Perez as a defensive liability.

      It’s funny, though. In ’71, the Reds were above average in 3B defense by every known metric. In ’72, with Perez moved and Menke (mostly) doing the job, they were below average in every metric. And the problem only got worse over the next several years. When Rose agreed to play 3B during the ’75 season, it was seen as a multi-faceted lineup solution — getting the weak bat of Vukovich out of the lineup, and opening up a spot in the OF for Foster & Griffey. And yet, Rose — who had been a very good defender in the OF (5.3 dWAR for 1972-74 combined) — was probably the worst of any of the guys they had tried at 3B in the ’70s.

      But of course, winning answers all questions.

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