Quiz – Baseball Alchemy (solved)

These nine players are the only major leaguers to have a game since 1914 with one of two unusual offensive accomplishments (as indicated by the two columns). Those two accomplishments are quite similar. What are they?

Congratulations to Relief Man and Richard Chester! They quickly (and correctly) deduced that this quiz was likely related to opening day exploits. Like the alchemist turning dross into gold, the first group of 6 players had an opening day game scoring 3 runs without a hit, while the second group scored twice without an official AB. Those games are after the jump.

These are the games scoring 3 times with no hits. Bailey got his 3 runs despite being removed after the Expos came from behind to take the lead with a 9th inning rally. Had Bailey stayed in the game, he may have had a chance for a 4th run without a hit as his spot in the order led off the 13th inning when Montreal scored 4 for the win.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H RBI BB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS WPA RE24 aLI BOP Pos Summary
1 Lance Berkman 2001-04-03 HOU MIL W 11-3 5 3 3 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.022 0.235 .708 4 LF
2 Barry Larkin 1997-04-01 CIN COL W 11-4 5 1 3 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.049 1.432 .599 3 SS
3 Steve Sax 1983-04-05 LAD HOU W 16-7 6 3 3 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 0.028 -0.542 .854 1 2B
4 Bob Bailey 1974-04-10 MON PIT W 12-8 5 2 3 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.170 0.768 2.066 3 LF
5 Nellie Fox 1960-04-19 CHW KCA W 10-9 5 4 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0.110 2.000 .678 2 2B
6 George Cutshaw 1920-04-14 PIT STL W 5-4 5 3 3 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 5 2B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2014.

And the games scoring twice without an AB. Rizzuto’s game came in the second of four consecutive seasons that the Yankees opened against Washington. The next year’s opener was featured in birtelcom’s recent post about RE24.

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H RBI BB SO HBP SH SF ROE GDP SB CS WPA RE24 aLI BOP Pos Summary
1 Joe Lahoud 1974-04-05 CAL CHW W 8-2 1 0 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.027 1.000 .770 3 PR LF
2 Phil Rizzuto 1955-04-13 NYY WSH W 19-1 4 0 2 0 0 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.084 1.384 .632 8 SS
3 Paul Richards 1934-04-17 NYG PHI W 6-1 4 0 2 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000 8 C
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/1/2014.

17 thoughts on “Quiz – Baseball Alchemy (solved)

  1. 1
    ReliefMan says:

    Column 2 is guys who had an Opening Day game with 2 runs off 0 at-bats; Lahoud did it coming in off the bench as a pinch runner so he only needed 1 walk for the requisite times on base.

    I haven’t been able to post comments here with Firefox lately; it keeps telling me they look too spammy even though the same message goes through on other browsers.

  2. 2
    RJ says:

    I don’t know the answer, but Paul Richards’ middle name is Rapier and that fact cannot go unremarked upon.

    Apparently he also once pitched both left- and right-handed in a minor league game. Seems like an interesting guy:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1065155/1/index.htm

    • 6
      Doug says:

      The “Wizard of Waxahachie” (Richards’ Texas hometown) is also unusual in that he played parts of 4 straight seasons aged 23-26 and again aged 34-37, but had no major league games in between, spending the 7 intervening years exclusively with the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern League.

      A nice SABR bio here.

      • 8
        Richard Chester says:

        Richards has nuthin’ on P Earl Caldwell. Caldwell pitched in the ML in 1928, came back from 1935-1937 and made a third appearance from 1945-1948.

    • 10
      Hartvig says:

      I have to wonder how many other players have gotten MVP votes in multiple seasons with a career WAR of 1.1.

      • 12
        RJ says:

        Great question Hartvig! I ran some Play Index searches to find players with long-ish but replacement level careers, and came up the following selection of players. The conclusion I drew was that this was far more likely to happen in the pre-expansion days, probably due to the smaller pool of major league players and perhaps a less scientific approach to MVP voting.

        Here are the players I found, with their career WAR in brackets, followed by their years active (this is far from a complete list):

        Three MVP vote-getting seasons:

        – Chick Galloway (-2.8), 1919-1928
        – Don Gutteridge (-0.8), 1936-1948
        – Ski Melillo (0.2), 1926-1937

        Two MVP vote-getting seasons:

        – Skeeter Newsome (0.5), 1935-1947
        – Steve Balboni (0.9), 1981-1993
        – Bill Cissell (1.2), 1928-1938
        – Sammy White (1.5), 1951-1962
        – Willie Montanez (1.5), 1966-1982

        • 16
          donburgh says:

          Wow, Montanez got traded a lot.

          • 17
            RJ says:

            Good observation donburgh. Some players involved in Montanez trades: Gaylord Perry, Bert Blyleven, Darrell Evans, Tony Phillips, Al Oliver, Garry Maddox. Not only that, but Montanez was one of the two players the Phillies received in lieu of Curt Flood after Flood’s momentous refusal to report.

      • 13
        David P says:

        @10 Hartvig – I’ve got Mark Christman for you. MVP votes in three seasons, and a career -1.9 WAR.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/chrisma01.shtml

        The 1944 votes I can kind of see, since he was the starting 3rd baseman on a pennant winning team. But the following year he received 5 points in the balloting, even though his team finished 3rd and he only played in 78 games.

        And two years after that he received 4 points while playing 110 games at short for a 7th place team. His slash line was .222/.287/.281 with one home run, 33 RBI and 27 runs scored.

      • 14
        Richard Chester says:

        Oscar Melillo, 0.2 WAR, MVP votes in 3 seasons
        Skeeter Newsome, 0.5 WAR, MVP votes in 2 seasons

      • 15
        Hartvig says:

        Great stuff guys.

        I haven’t had time to look them all over yet but there are a few seasons that are real head-scratchers that I’ve come across already.

        They must have been really clutch or pitched to the score or something…

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