The virtual 1958-68 Giants, Reds and Cardinals (Part 11: 1967-68)

It’s been quite an extensive journey, but we’re finally nearing the end of our tale of three franchises:

1957-58
1958-59
1959-60
1960-61
1961-62
1962-63
1963-64
1964-65
1965-66
1966-67

In every single episode except the first, the National League pennant has been won by either our San Francisco Giants, our Cincinnati Reds, or, in the case of 1959, both. But our Cardinals, long bogged down in the distant pack of also-rans, have finally emerged as a deadly serious competitor in 1966 and ’67.

          Giants:  Actual             Reds:  Actual               Cardinals:  Actual
 Year    W    L  Pos   RS   RA       W    L  Pos   RS   RA       W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1958    80   74  3    727  698      76   78  4    695  623      72   82  5T   619  704
 1959    83   71  3    705  613      74   80  5T   764  738      71   83  7    641  725
 1960    79   75  5    671  631      67   87  6    640  692      86   68  3    639  616
 1961    85   69  3    773  655      93   61  1    710  653      80   74  5    703  668
 1962   103   62  1    878  690      98   64  3    802  685      84   78  6    774  664
 1963    88   74  3    725  641      86   76  5    648  594      93   69  2    747  628
 1964    90   72  4    656  587      92   70  2T   660  566      93   69  1    715  652
 1965    95   67  2    682  593      89   73  4    825  704      80   81  7    707  674
 1966    93   68  2    675  626      76   84  7    692  702      83   79  6    571  577
 1967    91   71  2    652  551      87   75  4    604  563     101   60  1    695  557

          Giants:  Virtual            Reds:  Virtual              Cardinals:  Virtual
 Year    W    L  Pos   RS   RA       W    L  Pos   RS   RA       W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1958    83   71  2T   747  692      73   81  5    683  637      77   77  4    640  677
 1959    87   67  1T   737  615      87   67  1T   802  662      84   70  4    725  685
 1960    93   61  1    709  561      76   78  6    705  666      86   68  4    661  632
 1961    88   66  2    787  648     106   48  1    813  629      72   82  6    689  724
 1962   103   59  1    800  632     101   61  2T   779  663      84   78  6    809  703
 1963    97   65  3    726  578     100   62  1    704  540      80   82  6    664  668
 1964   100   62  2    726  576     101   61  1    689  533      87   75  4    662  657
 1965    99   63  1    697  587      98   64  2    843  646      85   76  5    692  622
 1966   106   55  1    739  581      87   73  5    769  677     105   57  2    667  514
 1967    84   78  4    677  639      94   68  1    725  561      90   71  3    606  569

Who will take our final prize?

The 1967-68 offseason: Actual deals we will make

Feb. 13, 1968: The San Francisco Giants traded catcher Tom Haller and pitcher Frank Kasheta to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielders Ron Hunt and Nate Oliver.

This was a brash move* by Horace Stoneham, one certainly not without risk. Haller was a significant asset, all the more so because he was the Giants’ only meaningful left-handed bat other than Willie McCovey.

But Haller would turn 31 during the 1968 season, and it was sensible to expect his value would soon begin to decline. Hunt was four years younger, and even factoring in Hunt’s injury-proneness, four years is a big difference in age.

Moreover, the Giants had significantly more organizational depth at catcher than they did at second base. To put it simply, the ball club would likely be hurt by losing Haller less than it would be helped by adding Hunt. That says, “Pull the trigger.” Given that all that’s true for our Giants, as well, we’ll take the shot.

The 1967-68 offseason: Actual deals we will not make

Oct. 10, 1967: The Cincinnati Reds traded first baseman-third baseman Deron Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for outfielders Mack Jones and Jim Beauchamp and pitcher Jay Ritchie.

Our Reds have already traded Johnson, so can’t make this one. Nor do we have a need for Jones, anyway.

Still, it’s worth considering just how strange a trade this was by Atlanta GM Paul Richards, as we did in the Blockbusters series:

… the logic of [this] deal isn’t even clear. A healthy Johnson was no better than Jones, and Johnson had suffered though a dreadful, injury-plagued 1967 season. The best case is that he would rebound, and the shift of incumbent first baseman Felipe Alou to center field to replace Jones would hold the Braves even.

Why make a trade in which the best case is break-even? On the long list of head-scratchers The Wizard of Waxahachie presented in his 1966-72 tenure with the Braves, this one is prominent.

Nov. 8, 1967: The Cincinnati Reds traded outfielder Art Shamsky to the New York Mets for infielder Bob Johnson.

Speaking of odd trades … as we put it here:

This one made little sense at the time. Johnson was a useful ballplayer, one of the best-hitting utility infielders of his (or any other) era. But a utility infielder was all Johnson was, and moreover he would be 32 years old for the 1968 season, while the power-hitting Shamsky would be 26. And while Shamsky had performed poorly in 1967, he’d been so spectacular in a limited role in 1966 that it seemed premature to be exchanging him for someone with so much less potential.

Obviously, in our scenario the Cardinals have Shamsky, not the Reds, so you may guess that our Cards won’t make it. We’ll give Shamsky one more chance.

Nov. 29, 1967: The Cincinnati Reds traded pitcher Sammy Ellis to the California Angels for pitchers Bill Kelso and Jorge Rubio.

Feb. 8, 1968: The Cincinnati Reds traded catcher Johnny Edwards to the St. Louis Cardinals for catcher Pat Corrales and infielder Jimy Williams.

Like the actual Reds, our version is quite ready to deal away both the rapidly-fading Ellis and the already-rapidly-faded Edwards. But we think we can do better than this, as elaborated below.

Jan. 11, 1968: The St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Alex Johnson to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Dick Simpson.

Neither of our teams has either of these talented-but-scuffling youngsters, so no deal here.

The 1967-68 offseason: Deals we will invoke

Oct. 13, 1967: The San Francisco Giants traded infielders Tito Fuentes and Dick Schofield to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Al Jackson and John Gelnar and cash.

Our Giants will unload the disappointing Fuentes, as each team promptly takes opening steps to address mutual issues.

Nov. 21, 1967: The Cincinnati Reds traded pitchers Darrell Osteen and Bill Henry to the St. Louis Cardinals for infielder Phil Gagliano.

More scenery-changing, as Gagliano hasn’t turned out to be quite what our Cards had hoped.

Nov. 21, 1967: The Cincinnati Reds traded outfielder Tommy Harper to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher George Culver and outfielder Bob Raudman.

This is almost exactly the deal actually made by these teams. The only difference is that our Reds won’t receive first baseman Fred Whitfield as part of the package from Cleveland. But that’s appropriate, given that in our scenario Harper hasn’t yet been nearly as prominent a player as in real life.

Nov. 28, 1967: The St. Louis Cardinals traded pitcher Eddie Fisher to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher John O’Donoghue.

In reality, it was the Baltimore Orioles swapping Fisher for O’Donoghue. Our reasoning concurs with theirs: We’ve loved Fisher, but he just turned 31 in the middle of a season in which he was distinctly more hittable than his best. At this point, we like our chances with the 28-year-old southpaw a bit better.

Nov. 29, 1967: In a three-club deal, the San Francisco Giants traded outfielder Jose Cardenal and shortstop Hal Lanier to the Cleveland Indians, and pitcher Hal Haydel to the California Angels. The Indians sent shortstop Larry Brown to the Giants, and outfielder-infielder Chuck Hinton to the Angels, and the Angels sent catcher-first baseman Jack Hiatt to the Giants.

Please allow us to assist in the unpacking of this multi-layered shopping bag.

The core of the deal is the actual Hinton-for-Cardenal swap undertaken between the Indians and Angels on this date. Like the actual Angels, our Giants are frustrated enough with Cardenal to be ready to go in a different direction, and so we’ll provide the Indians with what they want.

But in exchange, we’ll insist that Cleveland also take a swap of shortstops, providing us with their bland-but-steady-all-around Brown in return for our better-fielding but woefully poorer-hitting Lanier. It would make sense for Indians GM Gabe Paul to consent.

Meanwhile, the Angels get what they want in Hinton. But they can’t have him for free, so it’s plausible to imagine them giving up Hiatt, whom they’d actually traded straight-up for Cardenal a few years ago. With the Angels unable to make that trade, we presume Hiatt would have spent 1965-67 competing for a California major league roster spot and playing time similarly to the manner in which he actually did in the San Francisco organization. He offers intriguing on-base ability, but moderate power and questionable defense.

Feb. 8, 1968: The Cincinnati Reds traded infielder Tommy Helms, pitcher Sammy Ellis, and catcher Johnny Edwards to the San Francisco Giants for pitchers Bob Bolin and Dick Ellsworth and infielder Cesar Gutierrez.

As indicated above, Ellis and Edwards have both plainly reached their sell-by dates in Cincinnati. This places our Reds in less than the strongest of bargaining positions, so they’ll also have to pony up something significant in order to get something significant in return. In the slick-fielding, slap-hitting, not-yet-27-year-old Helms, they do.

And, thus, our Giants are willing to give up both Bolin and Ellsworth, a struggling pair in 1967, but quite successful in the past, and both still under 30.

Feb., 1968: The Cincinnati Reds traded pitcher Bob Lee to the Chicago Cubs for catcher Johnny Stephenson.

The Cubs would release Stephenson in the spring of 1968, so it’s quite plausible they’d have accepted the offer of a warm body.

April, 1968: The San Francisco Giants traded catcher Bob Barton, infielder-outfielder Frank Johnson, and cash to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher John O’Donoghue.

As spring training draws to a close, it’s appearing as though O’Donoghue won’t even make our St. Louis staff. Instead, our Cards will let the Giants take him in return for some bench depth.

April 1, 1968: The San Francisco Giants sold pitcher Stu Miller to the Atlanta Braves.

Actually, the Braves purchased Miller from Baltimore on this date. The veteran junkballer has given our Giants a wonderful run, but is finally getting squeezed out of our bullpen.

The 1968 season: Actual deals we will make

Well, none.

The 1968 season: Actual deals we will not make

April 22, 1968: The St. Louis Cardinals traded pitchers Jack Lamabe and Ron Piche to the Chicago Cubs for pitchers Pete Mikkelsen and Dave Dowling.

Our Cards don’t have Lamabe, so won’t engage in this fiddling with the back end of the bullpen.

June 11, 1968: The Cincinnati Reds traded pitchers Milt Pappas and Ted Davidson and infielder Bob Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for pitchers Clay Carroll and Tony Cloninger and infielder Woody Woodward.

Nor do our Reds have any of these guys, so no Hawk Carroll for us.

June 15, 1968: The St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Dick Simpson and pitcher Hal Gilson to the Houston Astros for outfielder Ron Davis.

And, alas, our Cardinals can’t pull off this swap of fifth outfielders.

June 27, 1968: The San Francisco Giants sold pitcher Bill Henry to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

No, not the other Bill Henry. This one.

The 1968 season: Deals we will invoke

July 12, 1968: The St. Louis Cardinals traded pitcher Lindy McDaniel to the New York Yankees for pitcher Bill Monbouquette.

Actually it was the Giants making this deal. We’ve come to expect something of an up-and-down pattern from McDaniel, but 1967 was one of his down years, and he’s getting pulverized so far in ’68. So, like the actual Giants, our Cards will conclude that at the age of 32 it’s time to bid him farewell.

And Monbouquette intrigues us. He’s a year younger than McDaniel and is proving no longer effective as a starter, but he seems the type who will thrive as a relief specialist for a few years.

(Of course, McDaniel would immediately rebound and thrive in the American League until the age of 39, while Monbouquette would be completely finished this year. Shows what we know.)

July 20, 1968: The St. Louis Cardinals sold infielder Wayne Causey to the California Angels.

He just isn’t hitting, so we’ll call up rookie Steve Huntz instead.

1968 season results

Giants

We’ve undertaken a major overhaul of the team that disappointed in 1967. Hunt will take over as our primary second baseman with Helms and Brown battling it out for shortstop. Behind the plate, Hiatt will compete with fellow youngster Dick Dietz and the veteran Edwards.

We were willing to part with Cardenal because our farm system has produced Bobby Bonds, a rookie outfielder with an even more impressive package of power-and-speed tools. The right-field job is his to lose.

The starting rotation behind Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry is wide open. We’ll give opportunities to newcomers Jackson, Gelnar, Ellis, and O’Donoghue, as well as holdovers Rich Robertson and Dick Kelley.

1968 San Francisco Giants     Won 96    Lost 66    Finished 2nd (tied)

 Pos  Player        Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
  1B  W. McCovey*    30  148 523  82 153  16   4  36 105  72  71 .293 .378 .545 .923  174
  2B  R. Hunt        27  141 476  72 122  17   0   2  25  71  36 .256 .369 .305 .673  103
SS-2B T. Helms       27  120 426  29 119  23   2   2  38  11  23 .279 .298 .357 .655   95
3B-OF J. Hart        26  136 480  68 124  14   3  23  78  46  74 .258 .323 .444 .767  128
RF-CF B. Bonds       22  141 526  95 147  22  10  15  60  58 125 .279 .352 .445 .797  137
  CF  W. Mays        37  148 498  85 144  20   5  23  79  67  81 .289 .372 .488 .860  156
LF-1B O. Cepeda      30  141 490  58 122  21   2  16  55  35  79 .249 .308 .398 .706  110
  C   D. Dietz       26   86 226  17  60  10   2   5  26  25  51 .265 .340 .394 .734  119

  IF  L. Brown       28  101 248  24  58   9   2   3  18  19  24 .234 .291 .323 .613   84
3B-1B K. Boyer       37   93 245  20  64   7   2   7  37  18  40 .261 .309 .392 .700  109
  C   J. Edwards*    30   81 207  13  49   8   1   4  23  14  18 .237 .283 .343 .626   87
  C   J. Hiatt       25   79 184  17  43   8   2   4  26  34  50 .234 .355 .364 .719  116
  OF  F. Valentine#  33   84 192  21  42   5   2   5  12  11  31 .219 .271 .344 .614   83
  OF  K. Henderson#  22   74 178  22  39   8   2   4  20  18  43 .219 .294 .354 .647   93
  IF  B. Schroder*   23   63  88  11  17   2   1   0   4  12   7 .193 .295 .239 .534   61

      Others                  44   4  11   1   1   0   4   4   8 .250 .300 .318 .618   85

      Pitchers               437  28  57   7   1   1  19  12 185 .130 .146 .158 .304   -9

      Total                 5468 666 1371 198 42 150 629 527 946 .251 .318 .385 .703  110

      *  Bats left
      #  Bats both

      Pitcher       Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
      J. Marichal    30   38  38  30  27   9   0 326 295 106  88   21   46  218 2.43  124
      G. Perry       29   39  38  19  17  14   1 291 240  93  79   10   59  173 2.44  123
      R. Robertson   23   37  34  12  16  11   0 239 234  92  76   10   83  174 2.86  105
      D. Kelley*     28   31  11   1   3   3   1  88  79  32  26    3   40   66 2.66  113
      A. Jackson*    32   25   9   0   4   5   3  84  79  38  33    4   14   56 3.54   85
      J. Gelnar      25   25  12   2   4   5   0  75  79  31  27    9   14   36 3.24   93
      D. Estelle*    26   12   6   1   1   3   1  48  49  24  20    4   16   26 3.75   80

      F. Linzy       27   57   0   0  10   7  12  95  76  30  22    1   27   36 2.08  144
      D. McMahon     38   45   0   0   6   2   1  82  57  18  18    4   27   65 1.98  152
      S. Ellis       27   28   8   1   6   4   1  74  75  37  32    7   23   45 3.89   77
      J. O'Donoghue* 28   23   7   1   2   3   2  68  85  36  28    5   16   34 3.71   81

      Others                   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0   0    0    0    0

      Total                  163  67  96  66 22 1470 1348 537 449  78  365  929 2.75  109

      * Throws left

Orlando Cepeda slumps dramatically. And Jim Ray Hart, bothered by a sore shoulder, sees his production decline as well.

But that’s pretty much the extent of the bad news. Just about everything else goes as anticipated, or better. Bonds is wonderful. Robertson strides forward with an excellent season. Marichal, Willie Mays, and Willie McCovey all rebound from their sub-par 1967 performances with Stretch delivering his best year yet.

Essentially, we’re a team without a weakness. Our patience-and-power offense is the league’s best, and our pitching is very close to it.

But falling just two wins short of our Pythagorean projection proves fatal, as we finish an agonizingly close second.

Reds

We’re making a few tweaks. Gagliano replaces Helms in the infield, and he’ll back up Cesar Tovar at second base. On the mound, acquisitions Culver, Bolin, and Ellsworth will compete for starting assignments.

The most significant change will be at catcher, where ballyhooed rookie Johnny Bench will be given the opportunity to take the first-string job.

1968 Cincinnati Reds     Won 97    Lost 65    Finished 1st

 Pos  Player        Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
1B-OF L. May         25  146 559  78 162  32   1  22  80  34 100 .290 .336 .469 .804  134
2B-OF C. Tovar       27  157 613  85 167  31   6   6  52  31  41 .272 .321 .372 .693  103
  SS  L. Cardenas    29  137 452  45 106  13   2   7  41  36  83 .235 .289 .319 .607   78
  3B  T. Perez       26  153 577  86 163  23   6  17  85  48  84 .282 .340 .432 .772  125
  RF  F. Robinson    32  130 421  73 117  28   2  13  62  66  83 .278 .389 .447 .836  145
  CF  V. Pinson*     29  130 499  54 135  29   6   5  53  32  59 .271 .308 .383 .691  102
LF-CF P. Rose#       27  149 626  94 210  42   6  10  54  56  76 .335 .390 .470 .860  151
  C   J. Bench       20  146 508  60 140  36   2  14  76  28  86 .276 .311 .437 .748  117

  OF  T. Gonzalez*   31  101 277  30  76   9   3   2  31  27  28 .274 .344 .350 .694  104
  UT  P. Ward*       30   91 220  24  46   8   0   9  34  36  47 .209 .335 .368 .703  106
  1B  B. White*      34   76 154  14  36   6   1   4  20  15  33 .234 .302 .364 .666   95
  2B  P. Gagliano    26   66 126  16  31   6   2   0  18   7  14 .246 .285 .325 .610   79
  C   J. Azcue       28   38  89   6  24   3   0   1  12   5   9 .270 .305 .337 .642   88
SS-2B C. Gutierrez   25   46  89   6  20   2   1   0   7   1   7 .225 .242 .270 .511   50
  C   J. Stephenson* 27   25  39   4   6   1   0   1   4   1   6 .154 .175 .256 .431   25

      Others                  17   0   3   0   0   0   1   1   5 .176 .222 .176 .399   18

      Pitchers               381  23  53   9   0   3  15  23 163 .139 .176 .185 .361    6

      Total                 5647 698 1495 278 38 114 645 447 924 .265 .320 .388 .708  107

      *  Bats left
      #  Bats both

      Pitcher       Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
      C. Osteen*     28   39  36   5  14  13   0 254 282 110 100   16   56  121 3.54   89
      J. Maloney     28   33  32   8  16  10   0 207 183 100  83   17   80  181 3.61   88
      B. Bolin       29   34  19   6  11   4   1 177 131  43  41    9   48  126 2.08  152
      G. Culver      24   30  23   3   8  11   2 155 154  64  54    5   58   79 3.14  101
      G. Nolan       20   23  22   4   9   4   0 150 105  48  40   10   49  111 2.40  132
      D. Ellsworth*  28   24  21   7  11   3   0 134 148  50  47    9   22   71 3.16  100
      M. Queen       26    5   4   0   0   1   0  18  25  15  12    7    6   20 6.00   53

      W. Wood*       26   84   2   0  12   6  17 151 126  35  32    8   29   71 1.91  166
      T. Abernathy   35   78   0   0  10   7  15 135 111  43  37    9   55   64 2.47  128
      D. Nottebart   32   33   0   0   3   1   3  51  57  21  20    3   17   42 3.53   90
      B. McCool*     23   30   4   0   3   4   2  51  59  35  28    4   41   30 4.94   64

      Others                   0   0   0   1   0   6   7   4   4    1    6    8 6.00   53

      Total                  163  33  97  65 40 1489 1388 568 498  98  467  924 3.01  105

      * Throws left

Injuries are a problem. Outfielders Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson are both nagged by chronic hurts and perform less than their best. Sophomore right hander Gary Nolan is limited by a sore arm to 22 starts, and fellow righty Mel Queen is held to just 18 ineffective innings.

But just as in 1967, the depth of this roster meets the challenge. Bench more than fulfills his promise. Sophomore Lee May elbows aside veteran Bill White at first base and emerges as a slugging star. Pete Rose delivers his best year so far, leading the majors in hits, batting average, and OBP.

The trade with the Giants proves pivotal as Bolin and Ellsworth both bounce back from poor 1967 showings to ride to the starting rotation’s rescue. (Bolin is so good, he’s second in the league in ERA+.) And in the bullpen, Wilbur Wood masters his knuckleball and blossoms as a tireless star.

We are unaffected by Pythagorean whim, as we hit our projection of 97 wins on the nose. And it proves just enough for us to claim our second straight pennant, our fifth flag of the 1960s.

Cardinals

Our modifications to the roster this year are minor. In an effort to improve our defense, we’ll make Dal Maxvill our primary shortstop, backed up by the veteran Schofield, and slide Causey to second base, where he’ll platoon with Jerry Buchek. In the bullpen, we’ll introduce rookie right-handers Wayne Granger and Ron Willis.

1968 St. Louis Cardinals     Won 96    Lost 66    Finished 2nd (tied)

 Pos  Player        Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
1B-RF F. Alou        33  160 640  70 204  37   6   8  80  46  53 .319 .366 .433 .799  141
2B-SS S. Huntz#      22   58 202  25  49  10   0   3  25  24  36 .243 .322 .337 .658   99
  SS  D. Maxvill     29  151 459  51 116   8   5   1  26  52  71 .253 .328 .298 .626   90
  3B  M. Shannon     28  156 576  62 153  29   2  15  87  37 114 .266 .307 .401 .708  113
RF-CF B. Tolan*      22  123 385  42  92  16   2   7  31  20  57 .239 .282 .345 .627   89
  CF  C. Flood       30  150 618  78 186  17   4   5  60  33  58 .301 .336 .366 .702  112
  LF  L. Brock*      29  159 660 101 184  46  14   6  51  46 124 .279 .327 .418 .745  124
  C   T. McCarver*   26  128 434  35 110  15   6   5  53  26  31 .253 .293 .350 .644   94

 1B-C D. Pavletich   29   62 181  21  48   7   1   5  26  19  37 .265 .335 .398 .733  121
  C   B. Barton      26   80 176  11  42   5   0   1  11  14  32 .239 .289 .284 .573   74
  1B  A. Shamsky*    26   77 173  19  40   7   3   5  29   9  30 .231 .279 .393 .672  101
  2B  J. Buchek      26   73 173  10  32   4   0   1  12   9  48 .185 .231 .225 .457   38
  2B  W. Causey*     31   59 158  15  31   4   1   0  16  19  14 .196 .279 .234 .513   56
  OF  T. Savage      31   64 134  11  29   6   1   2   9  10  21 .216 .276 .321 .597   80
SS-2B D. Schofield#  33   69 127  14  28   7   1   1   8  13  31 .220 .303 .315 .618   87
  UT  E. Spiezio     26   29  51   1   8   0   0   0   2   5   6 .157 .228 .157 .385   18
  C   D. Breeden     26    6  10   1   2   0   0   0   1   1   2 .200 .273 .200 .473   45

      Others                  33   5   9   0   0   1   1   4   4 .273 .351 .364 .715  116

      Pitchers               437  20  62   8   1   3  19  18 138 .142 .166 .187 .354    7

      Total                 5627 592 1425 226 47  69 547 405 907 .253 .303 .347 .650   96

      *  Bats left
      #  Bats both

      Pitcher       Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
      B. Gibson      32   34  34  28  22   9   0 305 198  49  38   11   62  268 1.12  259
      L. Jackson     37   34  34  12  14  11   0 244 224  87  72    8   61  126 2.66  109
      N. Briles      24   33  33  13  19  11   0 244 251  90  76   18   55  141 2.80  103
      S. Carlton*    23   34  33  10  13  11   0 232 214  87  77   11   61  162 2.99   97
      L. Jaster*     24   31  21   3   9  13   0 154 153  63  60   13   38   70 3.51   83

      W. Granger     24   58   0   0   7   5   6  83  70  26  22    2   18   52 2.39  122
      J. Hoerner*    31   47   0   0   8   2  17  49  34   9   8    2   12   42 1.47  197
      R. Willis      24   38   0   0   2   1   3  51  40  20  19    3   22   31 3.35   86
      D. Hughes      30   26   6   0   2   2   3  68  49  28  28    8   23   51 3.71   78
      L. McDaniel    32   16   0   0   0   0   0  25  41  22  20    2    8   12 7.20   40
      Monbouquette   31   11   0   0   0   1   1  18  19  13   8    5    3    8 4.00   73

      Others                   1   0   0   0   0   6   7   2   2    0    4    2 3.00   97

      Total                  162  66  96  66 30 1479 1300 496 430  83  367  965 2.62  111

      * Throws left

We encounter one glaring problem: neither of our second basemen hits a lick, leading to our desperation move in mid-July of dumping Causey and promoting the 22-year-old switch-hitter Huntz. The rookie doesn’t perform as a star, but down the stretch he fills the hole quite adequately.

Fortified by a bounce-back year from Felipe Alou, our offense isn’t great, but it’s decent. Our pitching, however, is marvelous, led exquisitely by Bob Gibson, who’s stunningly brilliant, leaving observers in awe at one of the greatest pitching seasons of this or any other era.

It adds up to an excellent ball club, an entirely formidable competitor, going toe-to-toe with the Giants and Reds and not backing down an inch. When the final bell rings on this intensely close three-way battle, we’re tied with San Francisco, just the tiniest margin behind Cincinnati, in a truly memorable pennant race.

Epilogue

This brings us to the finish of our 11-season saga.

          Giants:  Actual             Reds:  Actual               Cardinals:  Actual
 Year    W    L  Pos   RS   RA       W    L  Pos   RS   RA       W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1958    80   74  3    727  698      76   78  4    695  623      72   82  5T   619  704
 1959    83   71  3    705  613      74   80  5T   764  738      71   83  7    641  725
 1960    79   75  5    671  631      67   87  6    640  692      86   68  3    639  616
 1961    85   69  3    773  655      93   61  1    710  653      80   74  5    703  668
 1962   103   62  1    878  690      98   64  3    802  685      84   78  6    774  664
 1963    88   74  3    725  641      86   76  5    648  594      93   69  2    747  628
 1964    90   72  4    656  587      92   70  2T   660  566      93   69  1    715  652
 1965    95   67  2    682  593      89   73  4    825  704      80   81  7    707  674
 1966    93   68  2    675  626      76   84  7    692  702      83   79  6    571  577
 1967    91   71  2    652  551      87   75  4    604  563     101   60  1    695  557
 1968    88   74  2    599  529      83   79  4    690  673      97   65  1    583  472

          Giants:  Virtual            Reds:  Virtual              Cardinals:  Virtual
 Year    W    L  Pos   RS   RA       W    L  Pos   RS   RA       W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1958    83   71  2T   747  692      73   81  5    683  637      77   77  4    640  677
 1959    87   67  1T   737  615      87   67  1T   802  662      84   70  4    725  685
 1960    93   61  1    709  561      76   78  6    705  666      86   68  4    661  632
 1961    88   66  2    787  648     106   48  1    813  629      72   82  6    689  724
 1962   103   59  1    800  632     101   61  2T   779  663      84   78  6    809  703
 1963    97   65  3    726  578     100   62  1    704  540      80   82  6    664  668
 1964   100   62  2    726  576     101   61  1    689  533      87   75  4    662  657
 1965    99   63  1    697  587      98   64  2    843  646      85   76  5    692  622
 1966   106   55  1    739  581      87   73  5    769  677     105   57  2    667  514
 1967    84   78  4    677  639      94   68  1    725  561      90   71  3    606  569
 1968    96   66  2T   666  539      97   65  1    698  568      96   66  2T   592  496

What might we have learned along the way?

First, the obvious: Both the Giants and Reds organizations in this period presented amazingly productive farm systems, and it was only the blundering deployment of their abundant riches of talent that prevented either franchise from laying out a dynastic run of historic proportion. But we already knew that.

And the Cardinals organization was not producing talent at nearly the same rate, and thus the pennants they snagged in 1964, ’67, and ’68 were remarkable feats of trading. Without the gifts from Cincinnati (Curt Flood) and San Francisco (Ernie Broglio and Orlando Cepeda), those St. Louis flags would not have flown. But then, we already knew that too.

But what this elaborate counterfactual simulation has provided is a detailed illustration of exactly how the dynamics of these three formidable franchises intersected and may have differently intersected. Particularly over a period of time as long as this exercise examines, a change at one point can have a multiplier effect at a later point. Seemingly small things can lead to big things.

If the Reds hadn’t traded the prospect Flood to the Cardinals in 1957, then (a) Flood would find himself blocked by Vada Pinson from immediately becoming a center fielder and instead would have developed his infielding skills, at least for several years. And, (b) the Cardinals, without Flood in center, might well find themselves willing to commit to the blockbuster move of trading Ken Boyer in order to acquire a different center fielder, Felipe Alou, as a main element in the package.

If the Giants hadn’t traded the prospect Broglio to the Cardinals in 1958, then (a) he becomes a star in his hometown Bay Area, never gets traded for Lou Brock, and is remembered today as a minor celebrity who pitched in multiple World Series, not as the butt end of a historically disastrous trade. And, (b) the Cardinals, without Broglio in their rotation, might well have declined to trade Larry Jackson in 1962, and Jackson thus remains a Cardinal for his entire 200-game-winning career and is remembered today as one of the best pitchers in the great history of that franchise.

And if the Cardinals hadn’t traded the journeyman Jim Brosnan to the Reds in 1959, then (a) the book he was writing that year, The Long Season, wouldn’t have included the episode describing the stress of a midseason trade and the challenge of fitting in with a new team and a new clubhouse culture. And, (b) Brosnan’s 1961 follow-up book could hardly have been titled Pennant Race, seeing as the 1961 Cardinals in this scenario were engaged in anything but. Perhaps he would have titled it Rebuilding Year, or simply The Longer Season. Not quite the same sizzle.

Anyway, the exercise should remind us that the way things are is not the way things must be. Baseball teams, like all the world around us, are the sum of an incalculably huge jumble of decisions, big and small, any one of which, rendered alternatively, might have led to an unrecognizably different result.

Or, as a poet once put it:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost

References & Resources
* This deal was extremely unusual simply for the fact that it was conducted between the Giants and Dodgers, arch-enemies who studiously avoided trading with one another. This transaction was the first between these teams since they’d moved west 10 years earlier. Their most recent deal had been way back in December of 1956, when Stoneham’s Giants attempted to acquire none other than Jackie Robinson from the Dodgers in exchange for pitcher Dick Littlefield and $30,000 cash. Robinson then announced his retirement, and the trade was voided.

The most recent non-voided trade between the franchises was a swap of minor league pitchers Bud Byerly and Norman Fox in 1953. The most recent transaction involving a major league player was Brooklyn’s sale of third baseman Spider Jorgensen to the Giants in 1950. The most recently completed trade of major league players between the teams was in July of 1943, when the Giants sent infielder Joe Orengo and pitchers Bill Lohrman and Bill Sayles to the Dodgers for first baseman Dolph Camilli and pitcher Johnny Allen.

Following this 1968 Haller-Hunt deal, the next transaction between the teams was the waiver purchase by the Dodgers of catcher Dick Dietz in 1972 (a bizarre transaction more akin to the Giants firing Dietz in retaliation for his work as an MLBPA representative than to an on-field consideration). In 1975, the Giants would claim outfielder Von Joshua on waivers from the Dodgers. Following that, no transactions between the franchises would be made until 1985, when the Giants traded catcher Alex Treviño to Los Angeles for outfielder Candy Maldonado.

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Comments

  1. DrBGiantsfan said...

    I want to thank you for doing this.  Wow!  What a trip down memory lane.  I first became aware of Major League Baseball in late 1965 at age 9 from listening to Giants games on the radio.  I well remember the frustration of the late 60’s for the Giants.

    1967 was a microcosm of the types of things that seemed to go wrong and always conspire to make them come up in second place.  That was the year Mike McCormick had a magical season winning 22 games and the Cy Young Award.  It also just happened to be the one down year for Juan Marichal out of a run of 8.  Marichal has his usual season and I think they might have actually given the Cards a run for it.

    PS:  Still disagree with you no the Cepeda trade. I think they had to trade him.  My only wish is that they had traded him to an AL club instead of the Cards.

  2. sleepyirv said...

    Always enjoyable, Mr. Treder. Have you consider giving the re-working treatment to the Bill James two great underperforming teams, the 1960s Braves and the 1990s Mariners? They certainly needed a little help.

  3. Steve Treder said...

    My sincere thanks for the kind words.  We’ll agree to disagree about the Baby Bull trade.

    We share a very cool touchpoint:  though they’d been on in the household since my very first stirrings of consciousness, I really began listening to the Giants games on the radio over the course of the 1965 season.  I was seven that summer.  Those sounds and memories are seared in good and deep.

    My presentation proposal for this year’s SABR convention is on the career of Ducky Schofield.  Fingers crossed that they’ll accept it!

  4. Steve Treder said...

    @ sleepyirv:

    I have toyed with both of those (especially the Braves).  But the one that’s in the slow-cooker right now involves the Yankees, Red Sox, and Indians.  Will say no more.

  5. DrBGiantsfan said...

    Steve,

    So I take it you have fond memories of Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons with an occasional Bill Thompson throw in too?  Vin Scully or no Vin Scully, Russ and Lon will always be the gold standard for me.

  6. Steve Treder said...

    “Fond” doesn’t do justice to those memories.  The gold standard, definitely.

    But on some evenings when the atmospheric conditions were just right, my brother and I could get KFI from Los Angeles on our little plastic AM radio loud and clear.  Vin Scully was marvelous, and much as we detested (and to be honest, feared) the Dodgers, we greatly admired his skills of description and storytelling. And we also learned that Farmer John is the easternmost in quality, and the westernmost in flavor.  Whatever the hell that was supposed to mean.

  7. Andy R said...

    Steve,

    I’ve enjoyed all your “virtual” series, but this one hits the closest. I also spent a lot of summer days in the ‘60s listening to Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons (and Bill Thompson!) on KSFO during the day, and Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett on KFI at night. I hated the Dodgers and everything L.A. with the white-hot hatred only a 10-year-old can have, but could never hate Scully!

    Thanks for bringing back some great memories…

  8. Will said...

    Wonderful series, Steve, and simply cannot wait for the next effort.  I enjoy the subtle examples of players that disappointed but had real, unrecognized talent.  For example, in this effort we see a 16-11, 2.84 ERA effort by Rich Robertson.  Just because he never approached such a record does not mean it was beyond him.  And I think different circumstances and opportunities would lead to surprising results by overlooked players.  The unexpected windfalls are as important to this kind of series as are the expected benefits from keeping or trading established players.  It is an appreciated part of such a series.  Thanks again, Steve, and keep up the good work.

  9. John W. Shreve said...

    This series is terrific.  I read recently Felipe Alou’s saying that when the Giants lost the World Series in ‘62, he thought that with Mays, McCovey, etc. they’d be back over and over.
    I was 16 in ‘62 and felt the same way.
    When you have such an abundance of talent, maybe you think it’s OK to waste a little.

  10. Steve Treder said...

    “… different circumstances and opportunities would lead to surprising results by overlooked players.  The unexpected windfalls are as important to this kind of series as are the expected benefits from keeping or trading established players.”

    That nails it.  That’s exactly correct.  And the thing is that this isn’t true only in a counterfactual exercise.  It’s true in real life too.

    What I find most fun when researching and compiling these things is precisely the unexpected “windfall” type player.  I already have a pretty good idea of how the big names are going to go, but it’s discovering, or re-discovering, the smaller stories that keeps me guessing as to how in the world things will turn out.

    And regarding Rich Robertson:  I actually know Rich socially (we worked together at Hewlett-Packard back in the 1980s and still bump into one another now and again; he’s a very nice guy with a wicked sense of humor) and he shakes his head about his baseball career.  He hurt his arm in 1971 and he acknowledges that no matter what, his career would have gone no further than that, but he was doing the best pitching of his life in 1968 and the Giants still had him stashed in triple-A, for the third straight year.

  11. Steve Treder said...

    “When you have such an abundance of talent, maybe you think it’s OK to waste a little.”

    Precisely, it seems clear that both the Giants and the Reds organizations fell into this trap.

  12. Señor Spielbergo said...

    “Have you consider giving the re-working treatment to the Bill James two great underperforming teams, the 1960s Braves and the 1990s Mariners? They certainly needed a little help.”

    One I’d like to see, personally, is an alternate history of the Toronto Blue Jays from circa 1993-2000. Always found it odd how their farm system started turning out talent by the boatload pretty much immediately _after_ they won those back-to-back World Series (as noted in your Value Production Standings series).

  13. ksw said...

    outstanding series.
    thanks.
    i’ve always appreciated what mantle was, and how good stengal was, but comparing the yankees sucess from 1950 till ‘64, to the mess that mays lead the giants to, with all of the talent.
    mantle was part of a team that had one solid pitcher, and berra.
    mays had, well, lots of great playmates.
    granted, mantle played in al, with five place holding teams, 110 games a year, but stengal did one heck of a job.
    every year.
    how did the giants mung things up so badly & so consistently?
    thanks,
    kevin warren

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