The virtual 1958-68 Giants, Reds, and Cardinals (Part 2: 1958-59)

Last time, we introduced a virtual scenario that has us simultaneously manning the helms of the San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, and St. Louis Cardinals through a most eventful decade. Here’s how we fared in our initial season:

           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

           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

Now we’re ready to see how things will go in year two.

The 1958-59 offseason: Actual deals we will make

Dec. 3, 1958: The San Francisco Giants traded pitcher Ruben Gomez and catcher Valmy Thomas to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Jack Sanford.

A sensible first reaction when considering this trade is to wonder, “What are the Phillies thinking?” But then it becomes clear what they’re thinking: they’re thinking that Sanford, who’d regressed significantly in 1958 following his brilliant 28-year-old-rookie campaign of 1957, is rapidly on his way to washing out altogether, and so they’d better get whatever they can for him right away.

They have to be thinking that, because there’s simply no conceivable other explanation for this transaction. Because as unimpressive as Sanford had been in ’58, he was no worse than Gomez, who after a couple of good years earlier in the decade (though never as good as Sanford in ’57), had been nothing but an innings-eating mediocrity for four straight years. And he’s a year older than Sanford, to boot. And Thomas is the most pedestrian of backup catchers.

As did the actual Giants, our Giants will suppress the urge to laugh aloud, and politely say, “Yes,” before the Phillies change their minds.

Dec. 3, 1958: The Cincinnati Reds traded outfielder-first baseman Nino Escalera to the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Luis Arroyo.

Escalera, just turning 29 years old, had nominal major league experience several years back, and is at this point a confirmed minor leaguer, no kind of prospect. Why anyone would bother to trade for him is rather mysterious, let alone surrender the left-hander Arroyo, who’s been bouncing between the majors and minors for several years, not being especially effective, but putting up tantalizingly strong walk-to-strikeout ratios. Our Reds will happily give the Puerto Rican southpaw a shot.

The 1958-59 offseason: Actual deals we will not make

Oct. 3, 1958: The St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Del Ennis, infielder Eddie Kasko and pitcher Bob Mabe to the Cincinnati Reds for first baseman George Crowe, infielder Alex Grammas and pitcher Alex Kellner.

As it was for our versions, the 1958 season in actuality had been a frustrating disappointment for both the Cardinals and Reds. Thus, immediately following the season’s end, they engaged in this swap.

It was little more than just an exchange of disappointments. Our versions of both teams have moves they need to make, but this one is pretty much a trade-for-trade’s-sake rather than something likely to help either team. We’ll pass.

Oct. 8, 1958: The St. Louis Cardinals traded catcher Hobie Landrith, pitcher Billy Muffett and infielder Benny Valenzuela to the San Francisco Giants for pitchers Marv Grissom and Ernie Broglio.

Our Cardinals see no point in surrendering anything to acquire the soon-to-be-41-year-old, looking-like-he’s-on-his-last-legs Grissom. And our Giants aren’t willing to part with the just-turned-23-year-old Broglio, who’d gone 17-4 with 181 strikeouts in triple-A in 1958. So there’s no deal here.

Dec. 4, 1958: The St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Wally Moon and pitcher Phil Paine to the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Gino Cimoli.

One can certainly understand the Cards’ willingness to trade Moon, who suddenly and inexplicably encountered a terrible year at the age of 28. But Cimoli, though vastly superior defensively, can’t carry Moon’s bat (as poorly as Moon hit in 1958, Cimoli hit worse). Our Cards will think better of this.

Jan. 30, 1959: The Cincinnati Reds traded third baseman Don Hoak, pitcher Harvey Haddix and catcher Smoky Burgess to the Pittsburgh Pirates for third baseman-outfielder Frank Thomas, outfielder Johnny Powers, outfielder-infielder Jim Pendleton and pitcher Whammy Douglas.

We like the power-hitting Thomas a lot, but not enough to justify this manner of trade expense. Our Reds will go in a different direction.

April 3, 1959: The San Francisco Giants sold pitcher Frank Funk to the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League.

The right-hander Funk doesn’t present star potential, but he’s looked good enough gradually working his way up the Giants’ chain. As a 22-year-old in 1958, he put together a fine year as a relief specialist in Double-A. This is not the time to give up on him.

The 1958-59 offseason: Deals we will invoke

Oct. 3, 1958: The St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielders Wally Moon and Del Ennis and catcher-outfielder Gene Oliver to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Gus Bell, catcher Smoky Burgess and pitcher Brooks Lawrence.

Here both our Cards and Reds are able to take care of some housecleaning of 1958 frustrations, but in a way that makes positive points for both teams. St. Louis gets Bell to address its center field issue, and Burgess to provide some offense behind the plate. Cincinnati, making the reasonable assumption that Moon’s 1958 slump was mostly a fluke, can use him to address its first base issue, and the right-handed power-hitting prospect Oliver fits in as a platoon bat at either catcher or corner outfield. (And our Cards are willing to surrender Oliver because he duplicates the talent profile already being provided by Gene Green.)

Oct. 8, 1958: The San Francisco Giants traded pitchers Curt Barclay and Pete Burnside to the St. Louis Cardinals for catcher Hobie Landrith.

With Burgess now in St. Louis, our Giants can make more use of the lefty-hitting Landrith than our Cards. This second-tier pitcher duo is a reasonable price.

Dec. 3, 1958: The St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Jim King to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Chuck Essegian.

In reality on this day the Cardinals traded infielder Ruben Amaro to the Phils for Essegian, but in our scenario we already sent Amaro to Philadelphia last year. King, who was a disappointment in 1958 but remains a worthwhile young player, is a reasonable substitute for Amaro in attracting the powerful if one-dimensional Essegian.

March 25, 1959: The San Francisco Giants traded first baseman-outfielder Bill White and pitchers Dom Zanni and Paul Giel to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Sam Jones.

This is just a slight re-working of the trade these teams actually made on this date. Actually the Giants packaged veteran third baseman Ray Jablonski along with White, but our Cards see no point in adding third base depth so long as Ken Boyer is on the roster. So this pair of pitching hopefuls instead makes more sense.

As for the White-for-Jones core of the deal, this is how we summed it up in the Blockbusters series:

Probably no team in history has ever had a surplus of great young talent at first base the way the Giants did in the spring of 1959. Elbowing each other for playing time were:

- Twenty-one-year-old Orlando Cepeda, the unanimous 1958 NL Rookie of the Year.

- Twenty-one-year-old Willie McCovey, who in ’58 had hit .319 with 61 extra-base hits in Triple-A.

- The 25-year-old White, who’d hit 22 homers and stolen 15 bases as a rookie in 1956, only to be drafted into the Army for two years, and had just returned to find this logjam.

Meanwhile the Cardinals had enjoyed the late-career blossoming of Jones in 1958 into a stud ace of their staff, with a 144 ERA+ in 250 innings, and the most strikeouts by any National League pitcher since 1936. But, alas, bogged down by a lackluster offense, the Cards had finished 72-82 in ’58, and moreover Jones was 33 years old.

So it made good sense for both ball clubs to engage, and the deal they swung was bold and clever. The Giants took the reasonable gamble that Jones had some mileage remaining, and the Cardinals made the sensible decision to cash in Jones for White’s outstanding young talent, even though they were already overstocked at first base themselves, with Stan Musial and Joe Cunningham.

March 25, 1959: The San Francisco Giants sold third baseman Ray Jablonski to the Kansas City Athletics.

Since our Cards don’t want Jablonski, our Giants will dispose of him this way.

April 5, 1959: The San Francisco Giants traded outfielder Don Taussig and cash to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Billy Muffett and Pete Burnside.

As spring training is winding down and the Opening Day rosters are shaping up, our Cards don’t have room for these pitchers, and our Giants do. The career minor leaguer Taussig is kind of a token here, as this is essentially a sale.

The 1959 season: Actual deals we will make

May 1, 1959: The Cincinnati Reds traded outfielder Del Ennis to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Lou Skizas and pitcher Don Rudolph.

The 34-year-old Ennis is looking pretty close to through, and like the actual Reds, our version is happy to get this much for him.

June 14, 1959: The San Francisco Giants purchased catcher Jim Hegan from the Philadelphia Phillies.

We think he can be of more help as our third-string catcher than Tim Thompson.

July 26, 1959: The San Francisco Giants traded pitcher Billy Muffett and cash to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Bud Byerly.

Scratching around at the back end of the bullpen.

The 1959 season: Actual deals we will not make

June 8, 1959: The St. Louis Cardinals traded pitcher Jim Brosnan to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Hal Jeffcoat.

Cardinals GM Bing Devine pulled off some excellent trades in his 1957-64 stint in St. Louis. But he also executed his fair share of head-scratchers.

Brosnan is 29. Jeffcoat is 34. Brosnan has been better than Jeffcoat in both 1957 and ’58. Which one is likely to be better going forward?

Though our Reds would love it if they would, our Cards will decline to consummate this deal.

June 15, 1959: The St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Chuck Essegian and pitcher Lloyd Merritt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Dick Gray.

Among the odd things that Devine did is to continue to trade for third basemen (Gene Freese in mid-1958, Jablonski in March of ’59, now Gray) who were never going to play ahead of Ken Boyer. Essegian isn’t setting the world on fire, but our Cardinals think he’s more useful than Gray.

June 23, 1959: The Cincinnati Reds traded first baseman Walt Dropo to the Baltimore Orioles for first baseman-outfielder Whitey Lockman.

The 36-year-old Dropo’s defensive skill is assuredly poor, but our Reds still think his right-handed bat can contribute more than the slick-fielding, light-hitting veteran Lockman.

July 26, 1959: The St. Louis Cardinals sold pitcher Gary Blaylock off waivers to the New York Yankees.

The 27-year-old rookie Blaylock is assuredly mediocre, but our Cards see no point in just cutting him loose.

The 1959 season: Deals we will invoke

May 9, 1959: The Cincinnati Reds traded outfielder Pete Whisenant to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Chick King.

May 9, 1959: The Cincinnati Reds purchased outfielder-first baseman Irv Noren from the Milwaukee Braves.

May 9, 1959: The Cincinnati Reds sold first baseman George Crowe to the Detroit Tigers.

May 12, 1959: The San Francisco Giants purchased pitcher Jack Urban off waivers from the New York Yankees.

The annual roster shuffling at mid-May cutdown time.

June 13, 1959: The San Francisco Giants purchased pitcher Bob Smith off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Actually on this date the Pirates sold Smith to Detroit. Our Giants, dealing with chronic issues at the hind end of the staff, won’t let the left hander clear waivers.

July 25, 1959: The San Francisco Giants purchased catcher-outfielder Jay Porter off waivers from the Washington Senators.

And actually on this date it was the Cardinals claiming Porter, but our Cards will let him pass and our Giants will get him instead.

July 25, 1959: The San Francisco Giants released catcher Jim Hegan.

To make room for Porter.

1959 season results

Giants

In 1958, the Giants had been quite successful while giving regular playing time to numerous rookies. Seeing as how the San Francisco farm system is gushing with talent, we’ll continue that approach in ’59.

Orlando Cepeda had been Rookie of the Year as our left fielder in ’58, but we’ve got yet another terrific young bat ready for major league exposure, belonging to Leon Wagner. And seeing as how the designated hitter hasn’t been invented yet, Daddy Wags isn’t going to play anywhere other than left field. Moreover, we have 25-year-old Jackie Brandt, already established as a good all-around major leaguer before departing for his hitch in the military, returned and ready to play. If Wagner doesn’t play left field for us, Brandt will.

We could move Cepeda to first base, but at that position (as noted above), we have a fellow 21-year-old named Willie McCovey who’s been punishing minor league pitchers for four years, and we don’t think McCovey has anything more to prove down there. And Stretch isn’t going to play anywhere other than first base.

So where to play Cepeda? The obvious answer is third base. As we put it in an earlier examination of this situation:

… at third base the Giants weren’t quite as strong. Jim Davenport was an excellent fielder (he would win a Gold Glove in 1962), but his hitting was mediocre.

Cepeda had played nearly 150 games at third base in the minors, and he was still only 21 years old, a superb athlete whose complete skill profile was yet to be fully shaped. Giving Cepeda an opportunity to become a major league third baseman would appear to make a lot of sense: Even if Cepeda’s fielding was poor, Davenport would still be on hand as a late-inning defensive replacement, and if Cepeda could manage to develop into anything approaching an average fielder at third, the Giants would have an asset of exceptionally rare value on their hands.

And at still another position we’ll give a young player an opportunity: At shortstop we’ll commit to 24-year-old Andre Rodgers, who’d gotten an extended big league trial in 1957, but spent ’58 in the minors. All Rodgers did in 1958 was lead the Pacific Coast League in doubles, total bases, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging average. As a shortstop. We’ll put that in the category of “not having anything more to prove down there.”

With Rodgers at short, we’ll move incumbent Daryl Spencer over to second base, where we didn’t get much production in ’58.

Pitching had been our big question mark in 1958, but we feel a lot more confident this year, with the replacement of Gomez with Sanford, and especially with the addition of Jones.

1959 San Francisco Giants     Won 87    Lost 67    Finished 1st (tied)

 Pos  Player        Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
  1B  W. McCovey*    21  138 491  87 152  24  11  29  90  55  86 .310 .387 .580 .967  156
2B-SS D. Spencer     30  152 555  60 147  20   1  12  61  58  67 .265 .330 .369 .699   88
  SS  A. Rodgers     24  136 450  61 114  19   3  12  42  60 102 .253 .337 .389 .726   95
3-L-1 O. Cepeda      21  151 575  88 182  34   4  26  97  31  95 .317 .354 .525 .880  133
  RF  W. Kirkland*   25  126 440  62 120  21   3  21  63  40  80 .273 .335 .477 .813  115
  CF  W. Mays        28  151 575 127 180  43   5  34 101  65  58 .313 .381 .583 .964  155
  LF  L. Wagner*     25  121 306  45  77  10   4  13  46  42  50 .252 .347 .438 .785  110
  C   B. Schmidt     26  103 274  26  67  11   1   8  30  20  38 .245 .295 .380 .675   80

  OF  J. Brandt      25  114 286  42  76  11   3   8  37  22  47 .266 .314 .409 .723   93
  OF  F. Alou        24   95 247  39  68  13   2  10  32  17  38 .275 .317 .466 .783  107
SS-3B E. Bressoud    27   78 173  20  43   9   1   5  13  14  31 .249 .298 .399 .697   85
  C   H. Landrith*   29   73 156  17  40   8   0   2  16  24  13 .256 .346 .346 .692   87
3B-SS J. Davenport   25   97 156  22  37   5   1   2  12   8  24 .237 .272 .321 .593   59
  1B  G. Harris*     27   66 116  12  24   1   1   3  12   7  18 .207 .262 .310 .572   53
 C-LF J. Porter      26   31  52   7  11   4   0   1   4   3   6 .212 .268 .346 .614   64
  C   T. Thompson*   35   10  17   2   3   1   0   0   1   1   2 .176 .222 .235 .458   23
  C   J. Hegan       38    7  10   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   3 .100 .100 .100 .200  -46

      Others                  29   2   4   1   0   0   0   1   6 .138 .161 .172 .334  -10

      Pitchers               396  18  46   3   0   2  33  16 124 .116 .146 .139 .285  -23

      Total                 5304 737 1392 238 40 188 690 484 888 .262 .323 .429 .751  100

      *  Bats left

      Pitcher       Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
      J. Antonelli*  29   40  38  17  20   9   1 282 247 107  97   29   76  165 3.10  123
      S. Jones       33   50  35  16  22  14   4 271 232  99  85   18  109  209 2.82  135
      J. Sanford     30   36  31  10  16  11   1 222 198  90  78   22   70  132 3.16  120
      P. Burnside*   28   30  15   1   5   7   1 116 119  62  56   17   48   80 4.34   87
      E. Broglio     23   25  10   1   5   5   1  82  73  41  37    7   39   62 4.06   94
      M. McCormick*  20   16  10   2   4   5   1  75  71  39  33    8   29   50 3.96   96

      S. Miller      31   55   9   2   8   5  12 150 146  58  47   13   50   85 2.82  135
      A. Worthington 30   38   3   0   3   4   4  66  61  33  27    7   33   41 3.68  103
      M. Martin*     36   23   0   0   2   2   1  32  39  19  15    4   10   13 4.22   90
      B. Byerly      38   11   0   0   1   0   0  13  11   2   2    2    5    4 1.38  274
      B. Smith*      28    9   0   0   0   3   0  11  20  15  10    5    3   10 8.18   46
      J. Urban       30    8   0   0   0   0   0  11  18  11  11    1    7    4 9.00   42
      J. Shipley     24    7   1   0   0   0   0  12  11   8   6    1   11    7 4.50   84
      F. Funk        23    7   0   0   1   1   0  12  13   7   6    2    5    7 4.50   84

      Others                   2   0   0   1   0  19  31  24  22    7    8    9 10.42  36

      Total                  154  49  87  67 26 1374 1290 615 532 143  503  878 3.48  109

      * Throws left

McCovey proves to be everything we’d hoped for, joining Cepeda and Willie Mays to form a tremendous offensive core. And Jones is spectacular, combining with Sanford and Johnny Antonelli for a top three pitching array as good as any in the game.

Our supporting cast is good, too, but it isn’t great. We have issues with depth, and with Cepeda playing third and Wagner playing left, it’s fair to say we also have issues with fielding. It adds up to a good-but-not-great team, and on top of that we underperform against our Pythag by four wins. The resulting record of 87-67 is—wait, does that say tied for first place?!?

Reds

Hoping to bounce back from the down year of 1958, our Reds are introducing a few adjustments to the lineup. Moon takes over from Crowe as the left-handed bat at first base, and rookie Curt Flood will challenge Hoak for the third base job. And, most significantly, replacing Bell in center field will be 20-year-old rookie Vada Pinson, a minor league sensation.

To replace the departed Lawrence in the starting rotation, we’ll give opportunities to sophomore right-hander Orlando Peña and rookie southpaw Mike Cuellar, while Arroyo looks to be the primary left hander in our bullpen.

1959 Cincinnati Reds     Won 87    Lost 67    Finished 1st (tied)

 Pos  Player        Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
1B-OF W. Moon*       29  143 489  84 141  28   6  21  74  76  62 .288 .381 .499 .880  129
  2B  J. Temple      31  149 598 107 186  35   6   8  67  72  40 .311 .374 .430 .803  110
  SS  R. McMillan    29   79 246  38  65  14   2   9  27  27  27 .264 .343 .447 .790  105
  3B  D. Hoak        31  133 406  57 115  22   2  10  60  49  55 .283 .358 .421 .780  104
  RF  F. Robinson    23  146 540 103 168  31   4  36 131  69  93 .311 .391 .583 .975  151
  CF  V. Pinson*     20  154 648 128 205  47   9  20  92  55  98 .316 .370 .509 .879  128
LF-RF J. Lynch*      28  117 379  49 102  16   3  17  64  29  50 .269 .318 .462 .780  101
  C   E. Bailey*     28  121 379  43 100  13   0  12  45  62  53 .264 .367 .393 .760  100

  SS  A. Grammas     33  109 245  31  65   9   1   2  22  26  19 .265 .332 .335 .667   76
3B-OF C. Flood       21   91 208  29  52   7   3   7  31  17  37 .250 .304 .413 .717   86
 LF-C G. Oliver      24   83 206  20  49  11   0   8  35  13  50 .238 .284 .408 .692   79
  C   D. Dotterer    27   52 129  19  34   6   0   2  17  13  18 .264 .324 .357 .681   78
  1B  W. Dropo       36   67 115  15  24   5   0   4  18   9  19 .209 .268 .357 .624   62
 P-PH D. Newcombe*   33   61 105  11  32   2   0   3  23  17  23 .305 .398 .410 .808  113
  OF  I. Noren*      34   65 104  19  32   4   1   3  13   9  18 .308 .374 .452 .826  115
RF-LF L. Skizas      27   35  53   5  11   2   0   1   6   3   6 .208 .246 .302 .548   43
SS-2B E. Chacon      22   25  43   5   8   1   0   0   1   4   9 .186 .250 .209 .459   22

      Others                  79  13  21   2   1   4  11   9  18 .266 .341 .468 .809  110

      Pitchers               316  26  50  14   1   1  20  17 102 .158 .195 .218 .413    8

      Total                 5288 802 1460 269 39 168 757 576 797 .276 .345 .437 .782  103

      *  Bats left

      Pitcher       Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
      H. Haddix*     33   31  29  14  15  10   0 224 189  92  82   30   47  147 3.29  124
      D. Newcombe    33   30  29  17  15   6   1 222 216  87  78   25   27  100 3.16  129
      B. Purkey      29   34  30   8  14  14   1 196 214 104  91   21   38   71 4.18   97
      J. Nuxhall*    30   28  21   6  10   8   1 132 155  76  62   10   35   75 4.23   96
      O. Peña        25   34  15   2   6   8   3 136 153  82  74   27   37   73 4.90   83
      M. Cuellar*    22   31  15   3   8   6   2 110 113  54  48   12   37   52 3.93  104

      L. Arroyo*     32   41   1   0   6   5  11  73  60  23  18    5   34   48 2.22  183
      T. Acker       29   37   0   0   2   1   3  63  57  31  29   10   37   45 4.14   98
      R. Sanchez     28   37   3   0   7   2   5  73  83  31  28    5   21   40 3.45  118
      H. Jeffcoat    34   28   0   0   0   2   1  39  54  27  26    7   19   19 6.00   68
      D. Stenhouse   25    7   2   0   2   1   0  20  20   9   7    1    9   10 3.15  129

      Others                   9   2   2   4   0  67  82  46  40   10   40   38 5.37   76

      Total                  154  52  87  67 28 1355 1396 662 583 163  381  718 3.87  105

      * Throws left

Pinson is marvelous; the battle for Rookie of the Year balloting between he and McCovey will be fierce. Robinson and Moon both rebound wonderfully from their off-years, and overall our offense is deep, balanced and highly productive.

The up-front Cincinnati pitching can’t compare with that of the Giants, but the veterans Harvey Haddix and Don Newcombe are both quite solid, and Arroyo is splendid, emerging as our top reliever. The staff doesn’t wow anyone, but it gets the job done nicely.

Like the Giants, we fall short of our Pythagorean record, resulting in 87 wins. And, yes, that yields a tie with San Francisco for first place (nosing out the Braves and Dodgers, who actually tied for the top NL spot in 1959 at 86-68 apiece). As for who would win the best-of-three playoff between the Reds and Giants, we won’t venture a guess. All we’ll say is it would have been extremely exciting.

Cardinals

Like Cincinnati, our Cardinals are looking to rebound from a disappointing 1958. We’ve fully reconfigured the outfield, giving the center field job to Bell, making a full-time starter in right field out of the former utility man Cunningham, and giving White the first crack at left. The heavy-hitting but defensively challenged Burgess will take over as our primary catcher.

Replacing Jones with Lawrence is a big step down for the starting rotation, and we anticipate a high rate of experimentation with younger pitchers in both the rotation and the bullpen.

1959 St. Louis Cardinals     Won 84    Lost 70    Finished 4th

 Pos  Player        Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
  1B  S. Musial*     38  115 341  41  87  13   2  14  50  60  25 .255 .364 .428 .792  106
  2B  D. Blasingame* 27  150 615  99 178  26   7   1  27  67  42 .289 .357 .359 .717   88
  SS  D. Schofield#  24  132 410  59 102  25   4   3  38  57  56 .249 .347 .351 .698   83
  3B  K. Boyer       28  149 563  95 174  18   5  28 108  67  77 .309 .384 .508 .892  130
RF-LF J. Cunningham* 27  149 542  86 183  32   7   9  82 103  56 .338 .444 .472 .917  139
CF-RF G. Bell*       30  138 533  60 159  23   2  18  95  24  36 .298 .326 .450 .776  100
LF-1B B. White*      25  124 435  73 133  28   7  10  70  29  50 .306 .345 .471 .817  110
  C   S. Burgess*    32  114 377  45 114  28   3  15  66  30  15 .302 .350 .512 .862  121

  C   H. Smith       28   86 226  20  63   8   2   7  28   8  14 .279 .304 .425 .729   87
 OF-C G. Green       26   81 205  24  48  12   0   6  23  12  41 .234 .282 .380 .662   71
  OF  D. Landrum*    23   88 168  25  37   7   2   3  18  12  28 .220 .278 .339 .617   60
  IF  E. Kasko       27   79 165  20  47   7   1   1  16   6  18 .285 .306 .358 .664   72
  LF  C. Essegian    27   60 106  12  26   9   1   2  15   7  27 .245 .292 .406 .698   79
  OF  B. Smith       25   63 108  18  23   3   1   2  11   2  16 .213 .225 .315 .540   39
SS-2B W. Shannon*    26   24  32   2   8   2   0   0   2   0   4 .250 .250 .313 .563   46
  SS  L. Tate        27   27  33   3   5   1   1   0   3   3   5 .152 .237 .242 .479   25

      Others                  63   9  10   2   0   1   6   5  11 .159 .221 .238 .459   20

      Pitchers               405  34  54   7   2   2  26  12 151 .134 .150 .177 .328  -15

      Total                 5327 725 1451 251 47 122 684 504 672 .272 .334 .406 .740   92

      *  Bats left
      #  Bats both

      Pitcher       Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
      L. Jackson     28   40  37  12  15  11   0 256 271 102  94   13   64  145 3.30  129
      W. Mizell*     28   31  30   8  14   8   0 201 196 103  94   21   89  108 4.21  101
      B. Lawrence    34   33  19   4   7  12   4 128 148  75  71   18   44   63 4.99   85
      G. Blaylock    27   25   9   2   2   2   0  76  91  43  41    8   35   50 4.86   88
      T. Wieand      26   19   9   2   5   3   0  72  72  30  29    8   28   36 3.63  118

      J. Brosnan     29   46  10   1  10   5   4 116 114  52  50   12   41   74 3.88  110
      L. McDaniel    23   41  11   2  12   8   8 106 117  49  46    9   32   68 3.91  109
      C. Stobbs*     29   41   7   0   3   6   7  91  87  43  34   14   23   51 3.36  127
      M. Bridges*    28   35   4   1   7   3   1  89  78  43  42   10   47   88 4.25  100
      B. Smith*      25   21   0   0   2   1   0  34  42  16  13    3   10   19 3.44  124
      A. Kellner*    34   12   4   0   2   0   0  37  31  16  13    9   10   19 3.16  135
      T. Cheney      24   11   2   0   0   0   0  12  17   9   9    2   11    8 6.75   63
      D. Stone*      28    9   0   0   0   0   1  15  15   8   7    2    8    9 4.20  101
      B. Mabe        29    9   0   0   2   1   2  15  15  13   9    3   10    4 5.40   79
      D. Zanni       27    9   0   0   0   0   0  11  12   9   8    2    8   11 6.55   65

      Others                  12   2   3  10   0 103 112  74  61    9   54   60 5.33   80

      Total                  154  34  84  70 27 1362 1418 685 621 143  514  813 4.10  104

      * Throws left

The good news is that our moves on the offensive side work just as planned: Bell, Cunningham, White and Burgess all perform well (especially Cunningham). Even with Musial now really showing his age, our run production is greatly improved over its poor 1958 performance; we aren’t yet a good-hitting team, but we’ve climbed to the range of league-average.

As anticipated, the back end of our starting staff encounters some struggles. But our bullpen emerges as pretty effective, as Lindy McDaniel comes back nicely working mostly in relief, and Brosnan and a rejuvenated Chuck Stobbs are both solid as well. We don’t bowl anyone over, but the combination of competent hitting and steady pitching yields a team that competes for the pennant in the tightly-bunched National League of 1959. We wind up in fourth, but just three games off the pace of the Giants and Reds.

Next time

We’ll see if there’s a repeat first-place finisher among either (or both!) of the Giants and Reds, and if the Cardinals can squeeze themselves in edgewise at the top of the standings.

           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

           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

References & Resources
Officially, the Cincinnati Reds were called the “Cincinnati Redlegs” from 1954 through 1959, as a means of distinguishing this major league ball club from the global Communist menace. It isn’t clear who was confused about this, but they made the name change anyway. At any rate, the new nickname never caught on among the fans or media, and was thus finally dropped. In this series, we’ll dispense with worrying about that, and just call them the Reds.

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Comments

  1. Simon Oliver Lockwood said...

    I have to disagree with the revoking of the Brosnan trade, and the results thereof. As “The Long Season” relates, Brosnan and Cards’ Manager Solly Hemus simply did not get along. I doubt Brosnan would have been as effective in St. Louis as you postulate. He would instead have stayed in Hemus’ doghouse.

  2. Steve Treder said...

    Well, yeah, but look at it this way:  if I’m the Cardinals’ GM, there’s no way I would have hired Hemus as manager in the first place.  From my reading of The Long Season, he was a bozo.  I don’t get into who would be handling the field manager jobs in these virtual scenarios, but in this case it’s fair to say that our Cardinals wouldn’t have fired Fred Hutchinson in 1958.

  3. Red Nichols said...

    Always wondered why Andre Rodgers lost so much punch after his ‘58 heroics in AAA.  The guy was a horse but his MLB power numbers were pretty lame.  .  .

  4. Steve Treder said...

    Yes, it’s a puzzle.  One is tempted to dismiss the minor league stats as park/league illusions (he was playing for Phoenix in 1958, after all), but the fact remains that his ‘58 stats were far better than teammates Willie McCovey and Felipe Alou (guys we know could really freaking hit), and in his other monster year for St. Cloud in 1955 (not a bandbox ballpark or a hitters’ league), his stats towered over those of Leon Wagner.

    He would be, in the majors, a pretty good hitter for a shortstop, but nothing at all like the hitter one would expect from the minor league stats.

  5. Steve Treder said...

    Will, first, thanks so much for the kind words.

    Regarding Pinson:  you’re exactly correct.  The Reds promoted Pinson to the majors at the beginning of the 1958 season, and deployed him as their starting right fielder for the first month or so.  He hit .194, and they sent him back to the minors in mid-May, and wasn’t called up again until September.  That gave him too much playing time to be eligible for the ROY award in 1959.

    But in this scenario, our Reds don’t bring Pinson up in early 1958.  We’re as knocked out about this prospect as anyone else, but for crying out loud, he won’t turn 20 until August of ‘58, and hasn’t yet played above Class C.  The last thing we want to do is mess up his confidence by rushing him too fast.  We give him the full season at triple-A until September roster expansion time.  In this scenario, he’s officially a rookie in ‘59.

  6. Will said...

    I so enjoy these articles Steve, but one point if I might.  I believe Vada Pinson had too many at-bats in 1958 for the Rookie of the Year balloting.  According to the rules to qualify as a rookie at the time, 90 at-bats were the limit.  Pinson had 96 in 1958 making 1958 his true rookie season.  I believe this is why McCovey was a unanimous choice in 1959.  While he still might have won, the voting would have been very close if Pinson had qualified.  I realize this is nit-picking, but I really do love these virtual series.  Well-done!!

  7. Paul E said...

    Steve:
      Re Pinson, according to the BJHBA, he actually was born two years earlier – kind of like a earlier-day Dominican thing….seems a scout wanted to get him past the front office w/o too much objection to his age.
      Also, I believe another Oaktown McClymonds High grad along Bill Russell (USF/Celtics) and Frank Robinson (angry RF)

  8. Steve Treder said...

    The controversy over Pinson’s true age has been around for quite a while.  Given how well he played in the mid-to-late 1950s, and how noticeably he declined in the mid-to-late 1960s, it’s obvious why we might think he was actually born a couple of years earlier than 1938.  Lots and lots of players in that era lied about their age.

    But in Pinson’s Hall of Merit discussion thread on Baseball ThinkFactory, his daughter Kim, of all people, chimed in and vouched that she was quite certain that he was actually born in 1938.  And one presumes she would know.

  9. Steve Treder said...

    Oh, and yes, Pinson was indeed a McClymonds product, as were Russell and Robinson.  Curt Flood attended there, but then transferred to Technical High.

    My dad went to Fremont High in Oakland in the 1930s, and played on the football team.  He used to tell me how they always dreaded playing McClymonds because they’d get their butts kicked so badly.

  10. Red Nichols said...

    The great NFL QB John Brodie was another McClymonds star, I believe.  I had the pleasure of interviewing him in the ‘90s and enjoyed every minute of the time we spent together.  He became particularly close to Flood and Bill Russell. Pretty sure John told me he played on the McC baseball team as well.  .  .musta been a juggernaut.  .  .

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