June 19, 2013
And here's the full roster.
Now availableHardball Times Baseball Annual 2013, with 300 pages of great content. It's also available on Amazon and Kindle. Read more about it here.
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Monday, January 14, 2013
In a couple of months, at the SABR Analytics Conference, the organizers plan to present awards for three types of baseball writing:
Works of "Analysis" will be judged on the following criteria: thorough examination of the subject matter; originality of research; factual accuracy; significance in advancing our understanding of baseball. Works of "Commentary" will be judged on the following criteria: distinguished writing; profound insight; factual accuracy; significance in advancing our understanding of baseball.
SABR has asked us to submit articles from The Hardball Times (or any other baseball website) for consideration. Could you help?
By canvassing our writers, I developed this list of potential articles from the THT site:
Contemporary Baseball Analysis:
Matt Swartz' series on Game Theory and Baseball (the link is to the final article)
Kyle Boddy's analysis of Tim Lincecum's velocity
Shane Tourtellotte on what happens after long games
Glenn DuPaul examined whether teams that went for broke succeeded (followup too)
Contemporary Baseball Commentary:
Chris Lund on why a certain trade won't fix Miami
Ed DeCaria's moving ode to Marvin Miller
Azure Texan remembers a special moment
Historical Baseball Analysis/Commentary:
Dave Studeman lists the most critical at-bats of all time
Shane harks back to the famed steals of home by Jackie Robinson
Chris Jaffe reviews ten things he didn't know about game-ending hits
Dave Studeman on the history of money and wins
Max Marchi proves that games really were more exciting in the old days
Bruce Markusen reflects on the connection between Hank Aaron and Stephen Straburg
I have a feeling that I'm missing some really worthy articles. Could help us out by telling us what you think of these articles, or nominating other THT articles or articles from other sites for this honor? They have to be published on the Internet to qualify (not in a book or magazine).
Remember, great baseball writing is its own reward! Thanks for your help.
Fifty years ago today, a glorious rarity happened: a trade involving two Hall of Fame players. As an added bonus, they went opposite ways in this trade. It wasn’t just the two players straight up—in all, six players moved in the deal—but it isn’t every day two immortals are involved in one deal.
On Jan. 14, 1963, the White Sox sent long-time star shortstop Luis Aparicio, along with third baseman Al Smith, to Baltimore for Ron Hansen, Dave Nicholson, Pete Ward, and Hoyt Wilhelm.
Okay, so what were both teams thinking and why how did this trade work out for them?
Well, the White Sox won the AL pennant in 1959, their first in 40 years, and then in the following winter went for broke, loading up their team with veterans to strike while the iron was hot. Most notably, they brought back former star Minnie Minoso, but they also landed some other aging players, like Roy Sievers.
Alas, for Chicago that 1959-60 winter turned out to be one of the worst offseasons by any team. The players the Sox picked up were on the wrong side of 30 and in decline. Even worse, the Sox set some sort of unwanted record by dealing away five future All-Stars in one hot stove league winter. Norm Cash, Johnny Callison, Don Mincher, Earl Battey, and John Romano all departed for future success elsewhere.
Instead of adding a new gear to their team, the Sox were stuck in neutral, winning 85-87 games a year from 1960 to 1962. Despite their terrible 1959-60 trades, the Sox still had some young talent gurgling up, such as pitchers Joe Horlen and Juan Pizarro. The hope was that these guys could help the team going forward. Meanwhile, Al Smith was in his mid-30s.
The Orioles were similar in that they’d had their recent hopes dashed. They were the surprise story in baseball in 1960, when a young team led by a terrific corps of young pitchers nearly won the pennant. Steve Barber, Milt Pappas, Jack Fisher, and Chuck Estrada were all barely in their 20s, but all clearly had serious talent. The Orioles stood in first as late as Sept. 9 until a massive Yankee surge and Baltimore’s own late fade put them eight games back with an 89-65 mark. In 1961, Baltimore proved it was no fluke with a 95-win campaign.
But 1962 hadn’t gone according to plan. Instead of knocking the Yankees off, the Orioles fell back and fell back badly. They finished the year in the second division with a 77-85 record. Live by young pitching, die by young pitching. Estrada and Fisher in particular were not effective at all.
Baltimore wanted to get some veteran experience and they also were searching for some defensive help for their tender young arms, and Smith was the veteran acquisition target. Sure, the Orioles already had a third baseman in Brooks Robinson, but Smith was more an outfielder by trade anyway. And if you want infield help, you can sure do a lot worse than a late-20s Luis Aparicio.
But nothing comes for nothing. The most prominent guy going to Chicago, of course, was Hall of Fame reliever Hoyt Wilhelm. All but written off a few years earlier (Wilhelm had been waived twice in 12 months in the late 1950s), Baltimore had revitalized his career. He led the league in ERA in 1959 and in 1962 posted a 1.94 ERA in 93 innings in relief. Not bad. Yeah, but he would be 40 years old in 1963. So he was good enough to have trade value yet old enough to be quite tradable.
The rest were all young position players. Hansen was a veteran 25-year-old shortstop going in the wrong direction. He was Rookie of the Year in 1960 but two seasons later hit .173. Ward was an aging infield prospect. At 25, he’d made his big league debut the previous September and played in just eight games. Nicholson was an outfielder of questionable merit. He’d hit .173 in 97 games with an astonishing 76 strikeout in 173 at-bats for the 1962 Orioles.
In all, Baltimore must have been pretty pleased with the trade. For three questionable players and an old man, they got Aparicio and another starter.
But it was the White Sox who really moved forward here. In 1963, they bounced up to 94 wins, and then 98 to victories in 1964. They didn’t win another pennant until 2005, but they challenged through 1967.
Chicago’s improvement wasn’t just because of the trade, but it surely was part of the story. Ward was a splendid surprise, hitting .295 with 22 homers in 1963 while manning Smith’s old slot at third base. That earned him runner-up honors in Rookie of the Year voting. Ward never did that well again, but he lasted as a starter with the team for the rest of the decade.
Hansen took Aparicio’s old slot at short. His .226 average was still low, but he also drew 78 walks and hit 13 homers to provide some offensive value. And while he didn’t have Aparicio’s reputation in the field, he was a fine defensive man. Like Ward, Hansen also spent several years in the bigs.
Nicholson wasn’t as effective. He belted 22 homers in 1962—not bad for that era—but also fanned 175 games. He soon found himself in a part-time role and then gone from the team.
But the real star was Old Man Wilhelm. He spent six years with the White Sox and had his ERA under 2.00 five times. Overall, from 1963 to '68, he threw 675.2 innings with a 1.92 ERA. Those knucklers often do age well, don’t they?
As for Baltimore, well they did get a pennant—a world title even—in 1966. It wasn’t so much because of this trade, though. Smith played for them for one year and was good, but he only lasted that one campaign.
Aparicio spent five years with the O's and was a good player, but his performance didn’t justify all the Orioles gave up. Aparicio happens to be one of those players sabermetrics sees as overrated. He had speed, but he wasn’t that good at getting on base, with his modest average and weak walk totals. Combined with no power, he was a below-average offensive player. WAR does love his glove, though. (That said, not all sabermetric measures agree.)
Going by WAR, the Orioles got 16.7 wins in this trade (16.0 by Aparicio). The Sox got 16.9 wins in 1964 alone, as Ward, Hansen, and Wilhelm all had great seasons. In all, WAR scores the Sox at 61.7 wins in this trade.
Yeah, the Sox clearly got the better of this trade featuring Hall of Famers—a trade that happened 50 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand says ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim through things.
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