40 years ago today: The Trade Parade

Forty years ago today, on November 30, 1972, there were 9 trades in MLB:

The Detroit Tigers traded Jim Foor and Norm McRae to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Dick Sharon.

The Chicago Cubs traded Bob Maneely (minors), Joe Decker and Bill Hands to the Minnesota Twins for Dave LaRoche.

The Texas Rangers traded Horacio Pina to the Oakland Athletics for Mike Epstein.

The Texas Rangers traded Tom Ragland to the Cleveland Indians for Vince Colbert.

The Philadelphia Phillies traded Joe LisKen Reynolds and Ken Sanders to the Minnesota Twins for Cesar Tovar.

The San Diego Padres traded Al Severinsen to the New York Mets for Dave Marshall.

The Cincinnati Reds traded Hal McRae and Wayne Simpson to the Kansas City Royals for Roger Nelson and Richie Scheinblum.

The Cleveland Indians traded Terry Wedgewood (minors) and Del Unser to the Philadelphia Phillies for Roger Freed and Oscar Gamble.

The Atlanta Braves traded Taylor Duncan and Earl Williams to the Baltimore Orioles for Pat DobsonRoric HarrisonDavey Johnson and Johnny Oates.

Some notes on these trades:

  • Two different McRaes were traded
  • All-Stars: LaRoche, Hal McRae, Simpson, Scheinblum, Dobson, Johnson
  • Players w/ memorable nicknames: Superjew, Pepito, Spider
  • Future managers: McRae, Johnson, Oates


40 years ago today: The Trade Parade — 40 Comments

        • In the last two games of that season, which the Sox had to win, Yaz went 7 for 8 with 6 RBIs, 2 runs scored and a homer (strangely, they didn’t intentionally walk him even though Harrelson wasn’t hitting). Tovar went 1 for 8 with 2 runs scored and 1 GIDP.

          • Yaz also threw Bob Allison out at second base to kill a rally, and also helped several little old ladies cross Lansdowne Street.

      • The distinction of lowest WAR for a position player receiving a first place MVP vote goes to Dante Bichette’s who received 6 first place votes in 1995 despite a WAR of 1.0. Understandable, though, given his counting stats.

        If you include pitchers, then the record goes to Bruce Sutter who received two first place votes in 1982 despite a WAR of 0.8.

        A curious case is Harry Danning who received a first place vote in 1937 despite only playing in 93 games, having 312 PAs and hitting a modest .288 with 8 home runs, 51 RBIs, and 30 runs scored. Granted Danning was a catcher on a team that won the pennant but it still seems like quite a stretch to think that he was the most valuable player in the whole league.

        • Catchers got a lot of respect in those days; maybe too much. In 1926, Bob O’Farrell won the MVP as the catcher on the WS champ Cardinals, despite ranking only 6th on his team in OPS+. Those Cardinals included Rajah who was MVP the year before, and therefore was ineligible. Perhaps the voters were impressed with O’Farrell making the clinching play in the 7-game WS, by throwing out Ruth for the final out.

          Hornsby actually had an off year in 1926, the lowest OPS+ year (124) of his career, among qualifying seasons. He had been league leader in BA, OBP, SLG, OPS (of course) and OPS+ for each of the six previous seasons, and would would be OPS+ leader for 11 of 12 qualifying seasons, except this year. Les Bell was probably the Cardinals top offensive player in 1926, leading the league in oWAR. Alas, he likely didn’t impress voters with his defense, placing 2nd in errors at his position (better at least than 1924, 1925 and 1927 when he placed 1st).

          • Hornsby was also the manager of the Cardinals that season. He was traded to the Giants after the 1926 Series for another future player-manager: Frankie Frisch. O’Farrell also would become a player-manager for St. Louis-in 1927.

  1. That Unser for Gamble swap worked out remarkably well for both clubs. In the 3 preceding years, Gamble was 80 OPS+ in limited playing time, and Unser was 85 OPS+ as a regular. In the first two years with their new teams, Gamble had 131 OPS+ and 4.6 WAR, while Unser was 108/4.7.

  2. Ah yes, 1972, back when it was considered lucky to be a Royals fan. Before that fleecing of the Reds for McRae, the Royals had traded Joe Foy for Amos Otis (12/3/69), Jim Campanis, Jackie Hernandez and Bob Johnson for Freddie Patek and a couple other guys (12/3/70); Lance Clemons and Jim York for John Mayberry (12/2/71; then the McRae trade on 11/30/72 (note all those trades came in the same week of the year). In those 4 trades they got everyday starters at 1B, SS, CF and DH for their first 3 division winning teams.

    Maybe the worm has finally turned back for the Royals and their fans. The family from Dearborn, MO who won half of the Powerball $500 million+ might have been playing George Brett (#5), Bo Jackson (#16), Dennis Leonard (#22), Mark Gubicza (#23), Dan Quisenberry (#29) and Willie Wilson (#6) as the power ball. Then again, maybe not.

    • What’s so funny is that I usually play the Islanders’ retirees, among whom are Denis Potvin (#5), Mike Bossy (#22), and Bob Nystrom (#23). From there, however, it breaks down. Bryan Trottier (#19), Clark Gillies (#9), and Battlin’ Billy Smith (#31) are the others – with Smitty as the powerball/goaltender.

      I could have gone with Ken Morrow (#6) and Pat LaFontaine (#16) as stars whose jerseys are still active, but the best #29 off the top of my head is probably Kenny Jonsson.

      So yeah, things might take more time for my Islanders.

  3. Bill James wrote that Hal McRae’s broken leg in 1968-69 winter ball “beyond any question, cost McRae the Hall of Fame.” I can’t see it.

    His argument has 3 points — that it delayed his career by several years; that it cost him his shot with the Big Red Machine; and that it cost him his speed. But the last one is key, because it underlies the notion that McRae would have been a much better player than he was.

    My main bone of contention is this: “Before the accident, McRae was a burner, a center fielder who could fly.”

    Part of this is simply false. McRae came through the minors as a 2B, and played his first 16 MLB games there. (He played some OF in his first pro year; we have no stats for his next year, but in his last 2 full years in the minors he played 2B all but 1 game. He played 39 OF games in ’69, rehabbing the broken leg.)

    The other part is dubious. There’s no sign of a “burner” in his minor-league stats. We don’t have SB stats for his 1966 year in A ball, but in 1967-68 combined he had 24 steals and 12 CS in 243 games. Nor do his Runs suggest a speedster.

    Further, even if he had the speed to play CF, I don’t think he had the arm.

    And unless you can see him as a good defensive CF and base-stealer, I think the rest of the argument falls apart. Surely the broken leg delayed his career, but two or three more years at his actual rate of production still don’t get him near the HOF.

    I liked him as a player, but the HOF shot seems like hyperbole. Am I wrong?

    • John – I’ve generally found that it’s best to ignore anything Bill James has written re: the Royals or their players. He had an incredibly large blind spot in that area, a blind spot that he seemed to be completely unaware of.

      Anyway, adding to your comments…doesn’t it seem likely that had Mcrae played 2b or CF that he would have been injured a lot? Part of the reason he had the career he did was because he mostly played DH. I just have a hard time seeing him staying healthy as a 2b or CF, given his all-out-style of play. The injury that happened in ’68-69 winter ball seems like one of those things that was bound to happen to him eventually.

    • McRae led the league in OPS in 1976 with an .868

      Lowest leader since then?
      1984 .919 Schmidt

      The last leader to post lower than .868 ?
      1945 .862 Snuffy

      Last lower than .868 without most of the good players overseas?
      Dead ball.
      1919 .823 Heinie Groh

      McRae also had only 8 homeruns that year.
      Any OPS leaders lower?


      1988 5 Wade Boggs
      1976 8 McRae
      1919 5 Heinie Groh
      1918 5 Edd Roush
      1917 6 Tyrus
      1915 3 Tyrus
      1914 2 Tyrus
      1913 7 Shoeless Joe
      1912 7 Tyrus
      1911 8 Tyrus
      1910 8 Tyrus
      1910 6 Sherry Magee
      1909 5 Honus
      1908 4 Tyrus
      1907 6 Honus
      1907 5 Tyrus
      1906 2 Honus
      1906 6 George Stone
      1905 4 Elmer Flick
      1904 4 Honus
      1904 5 Nap
      1903 7 Nap
      1903 5 Fred Clarke
      1902 3 Honus
      1901 8 Ed Delahanty
      1900 4 Honus

        • Don’t worry, Voomo. Looks aren’t everything. The point comes through.

          I’m glad you mentioned McRae’s ’76 OPS title. I’d never noticed it before; everyone knows about the ’76 batting race (won by Brett on the final day), but I hadn’t noticed that McRae nevertheless led in on-base percentage, 30 points above Brett.

          It’s further interesting that, despite the OPS crown and 149 games played, McRae was nowhere among the WAR leaders (he ranked 12th in the AL), nor even in oWAR. He did rate 3rd in Rbat, but the positional adjustment as a DH sank his WAR.

          It’s surprising that out of 62 qualifying AL hitters that year, there were only 3 regular DHs. Only 5 guys started 75+ games at DH. The use of the DH had evolved quickly since its ’73 debut, when 10 guys started 75+ games there and 7 were over 100.

          • McRae’s .868 OPS would have placed him 17th in the AL in 1975, 7th in 1977.

            It’s also interesting that McRae finished 4th in the MVP voting in 1976, even though he was basically a full-time DH. (he played 248.1 innings in left field).

            Did voters accommodate that quickly to the idea of voting for a DH as MVP? Or was it because we were still in the low-information age and voters didn’t realize he had been switched to DH? (he played nearly 1,000 innings in the field the year before). Obviously his OPS crown didn’t help him since no one talked about OPS back then. Regardless of the reason, I’m definitely surprised that a DH finished so high in the MVP voting so soon after the introduction of the DH.

          • A bit of follow-up…the first full-time DH to finish in the top 10 in MVP voting occurred the very first year of the DH! Tommy Davis finished 10th in the voting despite what appears to be a fairly pedestrian season: .306, 7 HR, 89 RBI, 53 runs scored. But Davis played for the first place Orioles and from what I can tell, voters in that era placed a LOT of value on playing for a first place team, more so than any other factor.

            Otherwise, how to explain how Davis finished ahead of Tommy Harper (13th) and Yaz (19th) both of whom played for the 2nd place Red Sox? Harper hit .281, 17 HRs, 71 RBI’s, 92 runs scored, plus led the league in steals with 54. Yaz hit .296, 19 HRs, 95 RBIs, 82 runs scored, while playing multiple positions (1st, 3rd, and left). Seems to me that both had much stronger seasons than Davis but playing on a winning team carried the day.

          • Ed @28 re: MVP voters accepting the DH — I’m not really surprised, since they gave many MVPs to players with no defensive value. Just in the run-up to the DH rule, we had Dick Allen, Joe Torre (at 3B), Boog Powell, Harmon Killebrew (mainly at 3B).

            In the expansion era, MVP voters have mostly cared about offense.

          • Here’s the numbers of a player comparable to McRae through age 29:

            .290 .353 .458 .811 130

            1576 hits
            324 doubles
            55 triples
            158 homers
            475 stolen bases

            4 -time allstar
            5 gold gloves

            47.2 WAR


            This is Cesar Cedeno

            …and just a note on the 1972 Astros, and a question for managers Harry the Hat Walker and Leo the Lip.

            His 2,3,4,5 guys were ops+

            162 Cedeno
            146 Wynn
            137 May
            141 Watson

            They had the #1 offense in the league.
            It wasn’t enough – they finished 10 games behind the Reds.

            What, though, might have been, if they had had ANYBODY but Roger Metzger leading off?

            Metzger had 63 more plate appearances than anybody else on the team. He led off 151 games. His line?

            .222 .288 .259 .547 58

            That is 17 XBH in 715 PA


          • Voomo @33 — And yet, there were TWO teams in the league with worse leadoff OBP — LA .273 and SD .268 — and SIX with fewer leadoff runs, bottomed by the Phillies with 61. Bad times.

            Speaking of which … This year in the NL, leadoff men combined for a miserable .319 OBP — worse than every spot from #2-6, and barely better than the #7-8 men (.311). The Reds’ troubles were well documented, but the Dodgers, Marlins and Pirates all had sub-.300 leadoff OBP, and no team was above .346 OBP or .279 BA. Oy!

    • So, my memories of McRae are colored by the fact that he already had his injury to his leg before I was watching him. However, I would note that Brian, his son, was extremely fast. I guess it could be posited that Hal was too.

      As for his arm, again, by the time of my memory he had the upper extremity injury that destroyed his ability to throw at all. Once in a while, the Royals would have to play him in the outfield in a pinch. He would get the ball back to the infield on a sort of underhanded flip throw. He could actually get the ball to go quite far doing that, but obviously not exactly on a line.

      To me, James’s ideas about McRae fail on another level. Had he got to play for the Big Red Machine, he wouldn’t have been traded for a song by them to the Royals and he wouldn’t have met Charlie Lau. That meeting made his career take off.

      • Good points Brent. It seems to me that there’s one other problem with James’ thinking. As John pointed out, contrary to what James thought, McRae was actually a second baseman in the minors. And when the Reds brought him up in 1968, McRae played exclusively at 2b. Now, the best player on the Big Red Machine was the 2nd baseman, Joe Morgan. Actually Morgan was by far the best player in baseball from ’72-76 (47.1 WAR, 13.8 WAR more than Bobby Grich).

        Which raises the question…if McRae hadn’t gotten hurt, maybe the Reds don’t make the trade for Morgan in ’71. (and who knows what other trades they do or don’t make). And so maybe, without Morgan, the Big Red Machine doesn’t become the Big Red Machine. Not to say they would have been terrible without Morgan but clearly they wouldn’t have been as good. And then maybe they don’t win the World Series in ’75 and ’76. And without those two World Series victories, those Reds teams aren’t remembered quite the way they are.

  4. The Mets traded for one of the league’s best bandleaders, but he never threw a pitch in the majors after his trade from San Diego. And Marshall only played 39 games before he too was OOB. Of course, they were arguably his best 39 games, resulting in the only positive WAR season of his career (0.2).

  5. I think the biggest headline generator from this list — even though it’s hard to believe today — was the Orioles acquisition of Earl Williams from Atlanta. He had been a long-time top prospect who finally came through with a stellar ROY 1971 season and was solid again in ’72, mostly as a power-hitter. He was hoped to be the Orioles answer at catcher for the next decade, but it wasn’t to be. This was at least partly because some ‘pitchhing & defense-minded’ Oriole veterans weren’t too crazy about using such an important position just to get a bat in the lineup. Two years later he was back in Atlanta.

    • Earl Williams is one of only 3 catchers with 20+ HR and 80+ RBI in each of their first 3 qualifying seasons. The other two are Roy Campanella and Mike Piazza.

      You could win a few bets with that trivia question, even spotting your mark the other two answers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *