The virtual 1969-76 Yankees, Red Sox, and Indians (Part 3:  1970-71)

Last episode presented positive developments for all three of our protagonists. Will 1971 bring even better results?

          Yankees:  Actual          Red Sox:  Actual           Indians:  Actual
 Year     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1969    80   81   5   562  587    87   75   3   743  736    62   99   6   573  717
 1970    93   69   2   680  612    87   75   3   786  722    76   86   5   649  675

          Yankees:  Virtual         Red Sox:  Virtual         Indians:  Virtual
 Year     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1969    80   81   5   594  617    85   77   4   775  781    68   93   6   576  658
 1970    95   67   2   677  599    89   73   3   781  706    82   80   4   706  680

The 1970-71 offseason: Actual deals we will make

Oct. 21, 1970: The Boston Red Sox traded infielder Dick Schofield to the St. Louis Cardinals for first baseman-outfielder Jim Campbell.

We’ll take what we can get in trade for the almost 36-year-old Ducky. Campbell’s a minor league veteran with a left-handed bat that might be of use off the bench.

Nov. 30, 1970: The St. Louis Cardinals drafted first baseman Cecil Cooper from the Boston Red Sox in the 1970 Rule 5 draft.

Wait, what?!?

Nov. 30, 1970: The California Angels drafted pitcher Fred Lasher from the Cleveland Indians in the 1970 Rule 5 draft.

Lasher was okay for us in 1970, but we’ve got some younger arms we’re ready to go with in the bullpen.

Dec. 3, 1970: The Boston Red Sox traded infielder Carmen Fanzone to the Chicago Cubs for infielder Phil Gagliano.

Fanzone was helpful in 1970, but we prefer Gagliano for his capacity to handle second base along with third.

March 26, 1971: The Cleveland Indians purchased infielder Fred Stanley from the Milwaukee Brewers.

We have a utility infielder slot for Chicken.

April 5, 1971:The St. Louis Cardinals returned first baseman Cecil Cooper (earlier draft pick) to the Boston Red Sox.

Whew!

April 7, 1971: The Boston Red Sox released outfielder Jarvis Tatum and pitcher Gary Wagner.

No roster room for either one of these fellows. (Tatum will go play in Japan.)

The 1970-71 offseason: Actual deals we will not make

Oct. 23, 1970: The Cleveland Indians sold outfielder Richie Scheinblum to the Washington Senators.

Unlike the actual Indians, we didn’t leave Scheinblum in the triple-A for all of 1970 while he was dismantling the American Association. Dismantling? Well, leading that league in runs, hits, RBIs, on-base percentage, slugging, and OPS. Yes, dismantling.

Instead, we called him up in mid-July, and experienced some of that Scheinblum-hitting-his-best action for ourselves over the second half. And therefore we aren’t interested in selling him off to anyone in October.

April 5, 1971: The Cleveland Indians signed pitcher Camilo Pascual as a free agent.

No, thanks.

The 1970-71 offseason: Deals we will invoke

Oct. 12, 1970: The New York Yankees traded first baseman-outfielder Joe Pepitone and infielder Gene Michael to the Chicago Cubs for pitchers Hoyt Wilhelm and Roberto Rodriguez, shortstop Roger Metzger, and cash.

We know the Cubs wanted Pepitone, as in actuality they purchased him in mid-1970, and we also know they were willing to deal Wilhelm and Metzger, as they traded both for token return that fall.

Pepitone has had another good year for our Yankees in 1970 (on the field, at least; otherwise he was as chronic a headache as ever). But we’ll deal him now because we have an extraordinarily powerful rookie named Tony Solaita ready to take over at first base.

The ageless Wilhelm had yet another good year in 1970, and we think he can help in our bullpen. And we’ll give the light-hitting but very rangy rookie shortstop Metzger the opportunity to win our first-string job.

Dec., 1970: In a three-club deal, the Boston Red Sox traded outfielder Tony Conigliaro to the California Angels and shortstop Luis Alvarado to the Chicago White Sox. The Angels sent pitcher Ken Tatum and second baseman Doug Griffin to the White Sox, and outfielder Jarvis Tatum and pitchers Archie Reynolds and Greg Washburn to the Red Sox. The White Sox sent catcher Duane Josephson to the Angels, and shortstop Luis Aparicio to the Red Sox.

The inspiration for this blockbuster is, of course, Boston’s October 1970 trade of Tony C. to the Angels, which we examined here:

The Tony Conigliaro story is among the most fascinating, and most poignant, in baseball history. After completing the long hard road back from his horrific, career-threatening 1967 beaning, to emerge in 1970 with new career highs in home runs and RBIs, Conigliaro’s reward from his beloved hometown Red Sox was a trade.

And harsh as that was, the return Red Sox GM Dick O’Connell (who tended to be a pretty canny trader) yielded for not only Tony C., but also their primary catcher (Moses), was almost insultingly modest: a sound-but-hardly-imposing reliever in Ken Tatum, and a good second base prospect in Griffin.

O’Connell’s logic in endeavoring to re-balance his roster by introducing more run prevention skill into the mix was sound enough (the Red Sox had led the world in home runs in both 1969 and ’70, but finished in third place both seasons), but it did seem as though he could have held out for a more substantial price in exchange for Conigliaro.

Though the young slugger was something of a one-dimensional talent, and through a combination of circumstances was probably more famous than his playing accomplishments warranted, it was the case that Conigliaro’s eyesight problem appeared to be fully in the past, and even with the major injury interruption he looked to be on target for a possible Hall of Fame career: After all, he’d belted 160 home runs through the age of 25, and would seem to be just entering his power-hitting prime.

As to whether the Red Sox knew or suspected that Conigliaro’s vision would deteriorate, there certainly wasn’t anything in his 1970 performance that would indicate it: he’d finished the season red-hot, whacking 6 doubles and 10 homers in September. Nonetheless, O’Connell unloaded him less than two weeks after the end of the regular season.

For our part, while we agree with O’Connell’s assessment that the Red Sox have sufficient outfield surplus to warrant trading the elder Conigliaro brother, we’ll shop around and seek a more helpful deal than the one upon which O’Connell pulled the trigger.

We note that in the 1970-71 offseason, the actual Red Sox and White Sox swung two trades, in which Alvarado, second baseman Mike Andrews, relief pitcher Vicente Romo, and minor league first baseman Tony Muser went from Boston to Chicago in exchange for Aparicio, Josephson, and second-tier pitcher Danny Murphy. So knowing what we do about what the Angels and White Sox were endeavoring to accomplish in these transactions, we think we can make everyone happy.

The Angels expend what they actually did, plus the grade-B pitching prospects Reynolds and Washburn, and gain Conigliaro, along with the useful catcher Josephson in place of Moses. The White Sox expend the two key players they actually did, and gain Alvarado, along with the second baseman Griffin in place of Andrews, and the reliever Tatum in place of Romo.

For our Red Sox, we’re satisfied with netting Aparicio, who perfectly meets our most glaring need, while not having to surrender Andrews, who despite his limitations is a highly productive Fenway Park-style player and still just 27 years old. Certainly we understand that the projected long-term value delivery from Conigliaro dwarfs that of Aparicio, but we believe this trade makes us a better ball club for the next year or two, the window in which we anticipate the Orioles will come back to earth and a team winning 95 games will have a realistic shot at capturing an AL East flag. We think we can be that team.

Dec. 3, 1970: The New York Yankees traded outfielder Bill Robinson to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Barry Moore.

Actually the Yankees made this deal with the White Sox, but since our Indians have Moore, the enigmatic Robinson will get a try in the Cleveland organization.

Dec. 11, 1970: The Cleveland Indians traded catcher Ken Suarez and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Ray Lamb.

On this date, the actual Indians traded Duke Sims to the Dodgers for Lamb and pitcher Alan Foster. Our Indians aren’t about to do that, so instead we’ll send the Dodgers a lesser catcher and receive a lesser return, as Foster is a superior talent to Lamb.

Jan., 1971: The Boston Red Sox traded first baseman Tony Muser and cash to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Buddy Bradford.

We know the White Sox like Muser, so we’ll let them have him in exchange for Bradford, whom they actually traded to the Indians in mid-1970.

Jan. 14, 1971: The Cleveland Indians traded pitcher Darrell Brandon to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Mike Jackson.

Actually on this date the Phillies acquired Brandon from the White Sox. And actually in this off-season the Phillies sold Jackson. So we’ll kill two birds with one stone for them.

Feb. 2, 1971: The New York Yankees traded outfielder-first baseman Bob Burda to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Fred Reahm.

Actually the Cardinals made this trade with the Brewers, but our Yankees have Burda, so we’ll take the minor league pitcher.

March 31, 1971: The Boston Red Sox released first baseman Pete Ward.

March, 1971: The Boston Red Sox sold pitcher Orlando Pena to the Baltimore Orioles.

March, 1971: The Boston Red Sox sold pitcher Juan Pizarro to the Chicago Cubs.

March, 1971: The New York Yankees sold pitcher Gary Waslewski to the Oakland Athletics.

Roster cutting as spring training winds down.

The 1971 season: Actual deals we will make

May 17, 1971: The Boston Red Sox signed pitcher Luis Tiant as a free agent.

He’s gone from All-Star Game starter to rock bottom in less than three years. But what the heck? He’s still only 30. We’ll put him in triple-A and see how he looks.

June 10, 1971: The Boston Red Sox released pitcher Cal Koonce.

El Tiante’s taken four minor league starts and impressed us enough that we’ll call him up and give him Koonce’s mop-up reliever/spot starter job.

July 15, 1971: The Cleveland Indians sold pitcher Dennis Higgins to the Oakland Athletics.

He’s struggling, and we’ve got younger arms to turn to.

The 1971 season: Actual deals we will not make

April 9, 1971: The New York Yankees traded pitchers Ron Klimkowski and Rob Gardner to the Oakland Athletics for outfielder-first baseman Felipe Alou.

We don’t see a role for the soon-to-be-36-year-old Alou.

May 8, 1971: The Cleveland Indians traded outfielder Buddy Bradford to the Cincinnati Reds for infielder-outfielder Kurt Bevacqua.

Our Indians don’t have Bradford. Our Red Sox do, but aren’t interested in Bevacqua.

May 26, 1971: The New York Yankees traded outfielder-first baseman Curt Blefary to the Oakland Athletics for pitcher Rob Gardner.

In our scenario, the Yankees don’t have Blefary, nor do the A’s have Gardner.

The 1971 season: Deals we will invoke

April 22, 1971: The New York Yankees traded outfielder Pete Koegel and pitcher Loyd Colson to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder-first baseman Johnny Briggs.

It was actually the Milwaukee Brewers who had Koegel and traded him to Philadelphia along with a secondary minor league pitcher in exchange for the multi-talented Briggs. Our Yankees don’t have the faintest idea what the Phillies are thinking, but we’ll say “yes” before they change their minds.

May 28, 1971: The Cleveland Indians traded pitcher Bill Burbach to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Jim Hardin.

And, it was actually the Yankees who had Burbach and made this deal with Baltimore. Our Indians will give the once-starring, now sore-armed Hardin a shot.

June 25, 1971: In a three-club deal, the New York Yankees traded first baseman-outfielder Frank Tepedino and outfielder Bobby Mitchell to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers sent outfielder Ron Woods to the Montreal Expos, and the Expos sent outfielder Ron Swoboda to the Yankees.

The actual trade on this day was Woods from the Yankees to the Expos for Swoboda. We’re assuming in our scenario that Milwaukee would have Woods (having traded Tom Tresh for him in 1969, as the Yankees actually did).

Moreover, in June of ’71 the Yankees actually traded Tepedino and Mitchell to the Brewers for Danny Walton, but our Yanks already have Walton.

So we’ll let both Milwaukee and Montreal get the players they want, and we’ll send the slumping Walton down to the minors and replace him with Swoboda.

June 22, 1971: The New York Yankees released pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm.

It’s been a miserable spring for the 48-year-old knuckleballer, struggling with a knee injury. We think it’s the end of the line.

1971 season results

Yankees

We aren’t standing pat with the roster that won 95 games in 1970. We’re introducing rookies in three starting roles: Solaita at first base, Metzger at shortstop, and right-hander Steve Kline in the rotation. When Briggs arrives in late April, we’ll install him as the platoon right fielder.

1971 New York Yankees     Won 87    Lost 75    Finished 3rd

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
   1B   T. Solaita*     24  105 283  31  56   9   2  13  35  51  89 .198 .316 .382 .697  103
   2B   H. Clarke#      31  151 562  65 141  21   6   2  39  58  39 .251 .321 .320 .641   88
   SS   R. Metzger#     23  131 422  43  98  10   7   0  21  35  37 .232 .292 .289 .582   70
 3B-1B  D. Cater        31  121 428  39 118  16   5   4  51  19  25 .276 .305 .364 .669   95
 R-L-1  J. Briggs*      27  119 338  46  85   8   1  21  58  66  72 .251 .370 .467 .837  143
   CF   B. Murcer*      25  146 529  94 175  25   6  25  96  91  60 .331 .426 .543 .969  181
   LF   R. White#       27  147 524  86 153  22   7  19  86  86  66 .292 .388 .469 .857  149
   C    T. Munson       24  125 451  66 113  15   4  10  47  52  65 .251 .333 .368 .701  104

 3B-SS  J. Kennedy      30   74 272  32  71  10   6   4  26  15  43 .261 .303 .386 .689  100
   IF   J. Kenney*      26  100 217  33  57   7   2   0  13  37  25 .263 .360 .313 .673   98
   C    J. Gibbs*       32   70 206  23  45   9   0   5  21  12  23 .218 .268 .335 .603   75
 1B-OF  R. Blomberg*    22   64 199  30  64   6   2   7  31  14  23 .322 .361 .477 .838  143
  1B-C  J. Ellis        22   68 158  11  39   8   1   2  23  15  28 .247 .322 .348 .670   96
   RF   R. Swoboda      27   54 138  17  36   2   1   2  20  27  35 .261 .388 .333 .722  112
   OF   J. Lyttle*      25   64  86   7  16   5   0   1   7   8  18 .186 .258 .279 .537   57
 RF-LF  D. Walton       23   35  83   6  15   3   0   3  12   8  30 .181 .261 .325 .586   70
 1B-RF  F. Tepedino*    23   25  59   5   9   1   0   2   4   5   7 .153 .219 .271 .490   42
   1B   P. Koegel       23    2   3   0   0   0   0   0   0   2   2 .000 .400 .000 .400   25

        Others                   42   7  12   3   0   2   3   3  12 .286 .326 .500 .826  138

        Pitchers                408  21  56   5   1   1  27  17 135 .137 .160 .162 .322   -6

        Total                  5408 662 1359 185 51 123 620 621 834 .251 .326 .373 .699  104

        * Bats left
        # Bats both

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        F. Peterson*    29   37  35  16  16  13   1 274 269 106  93   25   42  139 3.05  107
        M. Stottlemyre  29   35  35  19  17  12   0 270 234 100  86   16   69  132 2.87  114
        S. Bahnsen      26   36  34  14  15  12   0 242 221  99  90   20   72  110 3.35   98
        S. Kline        23   31  25  12  11  11   0 185 170  72  60   16   31   67 2.92  112
        J. Cumberland*  24   34  18   4   8   5   1 144 116  54  44   18   45   50 2.75  119
        S. Hargan       28   17   8   0   2   5   1  51  58  34  30    7   24   24 5.29   62

        L. McDaniel     35   40   0   0   5   8   4  63  74  37  35   11   22   35 5.00   65
        S. Hamilton*    35   39   0   0   2   2   4  45  27  16  14    4   12   38 2.80  117
        M. Kekich*      26   37   6   1   6   3   0  85  79  40  34    5   41   51 3.60   91
        R. Klimkowski   27   34   0   0   2   3   2  55  49  25  20    4   24   31 3.27  100
        R. Rodriguez    29   14   1   0   3   1   0  27  27  17  14    3    9   19 4.67   70
        H. Wilhelm      48    3   0   0   0   0   0   2   5   5   3    2    1    1 13.50  24

        Others                    0   0   0   0   0   8   8   6   5    1    4    4 5.63   58

        Total                   162  66  87  75 13 1451 1337 611 528 132  396  701 3.27  100

        * Throws left

In his third full big-league season, 25-year-old Bobby Murcer bursts out with a superstar-caliber performance. We expected Briggs to produce nicely, but at 27 he delightfully surprises with a power-hitting breakthrough.

Solaita struggles, but another rookie, mid-season call-up Ron Blomberg, takes over the first base job in the second half with lusty hitting. With these lefty power bats leading the way, our offense is better than it was in 1970, indeed second in the league in OPS+.

But we have some issues on the mound. Steve Hargan, the sensational comeback surprise of 1970, fizzles again. And Wilhelm isn’t the only reliever to struggle, as Lindy McDaniel, so brilliant last season, takes a beating this time around.

Thus our pitching, such a strength in 1970, is just league-average in ’71. We’re still a good ball club, but we win eight fewer games than last year, and drop to third place, in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of a season.

Red Sox

Installing Aparicio at shortstop, we’re hopeful that we’ve fit the final piece of the puzzle together to become a serious contender. Ken Harrelson is back to handle first base, allowing us to shift superstar Carl Yastrzemski back to left field. Young Billy Conigliaro is set to take over for his brother in right. With the big bats of Reggie Smith in center and Rico Petrocelli at third, and still more power emanating from Mike Andrews at second base and Frank Fernandez behind the plate, we’re anticipating a top-to-bottom lineup of rare quality.

Our pitching is a concern, no doubt. But it was better than average in 1970, and if either or both among young left-handers Ken Brett and Bill Lee step forward, it could be better than that this year.

1971 Boston Red Sox     Won 84    Lost 78    Finished 4th

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
 1B-LF  C. Yastrzemski* 31  148 508  75 129  21   2  15  70 106  60 .254 .381 .392 .772  113
 2B-1B  M. Andrews      27  109 330  59  93  15   0  15  42  66  37 .282 .393 .464 .857  135
   SS   L. Aparicio     37  125 491  56 114  23   0   4  45  35  43 .232 .279 .303 .583   60
   3B   R. Petrocelli   28  158 553  82 139  24   4  28  89  91 108 .251 .351 .461 .812  122
 RF-CF  B. Conigliaro   23  130 474  63 123  32   3  15  48  34  95 .259 .307 .435 .742  102
 CF-RF  R. Smith#       26  159 618  85 175  33   2  30  96  63  82 .283 .351 .489 .840  129
 LF-RF  J. Lahoud*      24  112 317  45  70  10   4  16  38  49  53 .221 .332 .429 .761  108
   C    F. Fernandez    28   88 221  30  38   6   0  13  27  52  77 .172 .331 .376 .707   94

   IF   T. Matchick*    27   92 251  21  62   6   2   3  24  20  48 .247 .301 .323 .623   72
   C    H. King*        27   86 198  16  43  10   0   5  21  30  43 .217 .329 .343 .672   85
   UT   P. Gagliano     29   76 144  22  43   8   1   0  22  23  20 .299 .386 .368 .754  108
   1B   K. Harrelson    29   52 145  20  30   2   0   5  16  23  19 .207 .312 .324 .636   75
   OF   B. Bradford     26   67 112  17  22   4   1   3  13  18  26 .196 .321 .330 .651   79
   1B   J. Campbell*    28   64 112  12  27   4   1   2  12  10  17 .241 .298 .348 .647   77
  P-PH  G. Peters*      34   53  96   7  26   4   0   3  19   3  20 .271 .280 .406 .687   87
   C    T. Tischinski   26   52  70   5  12   2   0   1   4  10  11 .171 .280 .243 .523   45
   LF   C. Coletta*     26   41  74  12  19   3   1   1   9   7  12 .257 .329 .365 .694   91

        Others                  260  41  74  18   2   4  27  25  38 .285 .344 .415 .759  108

        Pitchers                337  22  64   5   0   6  27  15 120 .190 .208 .258 .466   27

        Total                  5311 690 1303 230 23 169 649 680 929 .245 .328 .393 .721   97

        * Bats left
        # Bats both

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        R. Culp         29   35  35  12  14  16   0 242 236 108  97   21   67  151 3.61  104
        S. Siebert      34   32  32  12  16  10   0 235 220  84  76   20   60  131 2.91  129
        G. Peters*      34   34  32   9  14  11   1 214 241 111 104   25   70  100 4.37   86
        J. Lonborg      29   27  26   5  10   7   0 168 167  86  77   15   67  100 4.13   91
        A. Reynolds     25   38  14   3   6  10   3 147 164  76  68   13   59  104 4.16   90
        L. Tiant        30   21  10   1   1   7   0  72  73  42  39    8   32   59 4.88   77
        M. Nagy         23    4   2   0   0   1   0  13  15  10   9    1    7    3 6.23   60

        B. Bolin        32   52   0   0   5   3   8  70  74  34  33    7   24   51 4.24   88
        S. Lyle*        26   50   0   0   6   4  18  52  41  16  16    5   23   37 2.77  135
        B. Lee*         24   47   3   0   9   2   4 102 102  35  31    7   46   74 2.74  137
        K. Brett*       22   29   2   0   0   3   1  59  57  38  35    7   35   57 5.34   70
        C. Koonce       30   13   1   0   0   1   0  21  22  16  13    3   11    9 5.57   67

        Others                    5   2   3   3   0  50  47  17  17    5   19   35 3.06  123

        Total                   162  44  84  78 35 1445 1459 673 615 137  520  911 3.83   98

        * Throws left

Well, phooey.

The list of disappointments is so long it’s hard to know where to begin. How about with Aparicio, who’d played so well for the White Sox in 1970, but now suddenly is showing all of his 37 years? Or Harrelson, who hits so anemically that he just up and retires from baseball at the age of 29 in late June?

Yastrzemski slumps dreadfully, delivering his least productive performance since his rookie year a decade ago. Conigliaro isn’t bad, but he hits with less authority than in 1970. Andrews is nagged by injuries, and Fernandez, a poor hitter for average to begin with, sees his BA crater by 50 points.

Lee does succeed, but Brett regresses badly. Jim Lonborg returns to the starting rotation, but with mediocre effectiveness; among the starting corps, only Sonny Siebert pitches well.

Rarely does a roster of such abundant talent deliver such uninspired results. Far from emerging as a challenger to Baltimore’s dominance of the division, our 84 wins are the fewest we’ve achieved in the four frustrating seasons following the 1967 championship.

There is one silver lining amid the gloom. Being so far out of the race, in September we grant liberal playing time to a large cohort of promising prospects, and nearly all of them perform impressively. We eagerly anticipate a wholesale infusion of new blood in 1972.

Indians

Looking to build on the progress exhibited last year, we haven’t undertaken significant restructuring. The key change is in defensive alignment: with Tony Horton absent (and sadly, never to return), we’re shifting George Scott from third base to first, and Graig Nettles from right field to third base. This should dramatically improve the infield defense.

In right field we’re going with a platoon of Richie Scheinblum and Roy Foster, both of whom hit well in 1970. Rookies who’ll get meaningful opportunities include John Lowenstein at second base, Chris Chambliss in left field, and pitchers Rich Hand, Vince Colbert, and Steve Mingori.

1971 Cleveland Indians     Won 73    Lost 89    Finished 5th

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
   1B   G. Scott        27  139 483  65 128  14   4  22  72  35  91 .265 .318 .447 .765  107
   2B   D. Nelson       27  135 478  69 131  17   5   6  43  36  43 .274 .323 .368 .691   89
 SS-2B  E. Leon         24  131 429  38 112  12   2   4  35  34  69 .261 .309 .326 .635   74
   3B   G. Nettles*     26  158 598  80 156  18   1  28  89  82  56 .261 .349 .435 .784  114
   RF   R. Scheinblum#  28  120 381  54 105  22   6  15  56  56  34 .276 .373 .483 .856  133
   CF   J. Cardenal     27  135 449  61 112  20   3  13  57  39  49 .249 .302 .394 .696   89
 LF-CF  T. Uhlaender*   31  134 450  52 130  18   3   2  42  34  40 .289 .337 .356 .692   90
   C    R. Fosse        24  133 486  55 134  21   1  12  65  36  62 .276 .329 .397 .726   98

 2B-OF  J. Lowenstein*  24   86 239  32  54  10   0   9  24  32  57 .226 .317 .381 .697   90
  C-LF  D. Sims*        30   90 230  30  65   7   2   9  30  28  39 .283 .360 .448 .808  120
 LF-1B  C. Chambliss*   22   83 229  27  61  11   2   5  24  20  47 .266 .327 .397 .724   97
 RF-LF  R. Foster       25   82 198  27  46  10   1   9  24  16  26 .232 .298 .429 .727   97
   SS   J. Heidemann    21   61 120   9  24   3   0   0   4   5  24 .200 .233 .225 .458   26
   UT   C. Hinton       37   66  98  10  21   5   0   3   9  12  24 .214 .300 .357 .657   79
   IF   F. Stanley      23   40  86  10  19   3   0   1   8  18  17 .221 .355 .291 .646   79
 2B-3B  R. Hansen       33   61  97   6  21   1   0   3  13   5  17 .216 .248 .320 .567   54

        Others                   70   7  16   3   0   0   5   5  10 .229 .280 .271 .551   52

        Pitchers                370  25  53   3   0   1  13  22 157 .143 .177 .159 .336   -7

        Total                  5491 657 1388 198 30 142 613 515 862 .253 .315 .377 .692   89

        * Bats left
        # Bats both

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        S. McDowell*    28   35  31   8  15  15   1 215 160  89  81   22  153  192 3.39  113
        R. Gardner*     26   40  19   4  10   8   2 172 192  99  88   12   65  109 4.60   83
        R. Lamb         26   43  21   3   7  11   2 158 147  67  59   11   69   91 3.36  114
        S. Dunning      22   21  19   2   6   8   0 123 115  65  61   17   73   88 4.46   86
        M. Paul*        26   17  12   1   3   6   0  62  78  42  41    8   14   33 5.95   64
        D. Tidrow       24   10  10   1   4   3   0  62  71  38  36   13   26   35 5.23   73
        R. Hand         22   15  12   0   3   5   0  61  74  43  39    6   38   26 5.75   67
        R. Austin*      24   23   8   1   2   3   2  61  71  40  38   11   35   48 5.61   68
        B. Garibaldi    29   10   6   1   3   3   0  49  69  36  30    8   12   22 5.51   70

        V. Romo         28   55   3   0   3   8   9  96  77  41  41   10   50   63 3.84  100
        S. Mingori*     27   54   0   0   1   3   5  68  41  14  13    3   29   51 1.72  223
        V. Colbert      25   50  10   2   8   5   3 143 140  71  63   11   71   74 3.97   97
        P. Hennigan     25   29   0   0   3   1   7  41  40  23  23    7   26   35 5.05   76
        D. Higgins      31   26   1   0   2   4   4  28  34  19  17    3   14   29 5.46   70
        J. Hardin       27   12   3   0   0   2   0  28  38  21  18    4   10   13 5.79   66

        Others                    7   0   3   4   3  72  69  40  37   10   41   40 4.63   83

        Total                   162  23  73  89 38 1439 1416 748 685 156  726  949 4.28   89

        * Throws left

In the offensive half of the inning, we see some general decline from 1970 performance, but nothing too bad. Nettles improves with the bat and emerges as a defensive superstar at third base; there is no better corner infield combination with the leather than Nettles and Scott. Overall we present a lineup that’s far from championship-caliber, but it’s competent.

But then there is that other half of the inning. Pitching, the key Cleveland strength for nearly a decade, is anything but that this year, as the staff collapses in disarray.

The problems start at the top, as 28-year-old ace Sam McDowell falls far short of the elite-level performance he’d maintained in 1968-69-70. Control was never Sudden Sam’s forte, but he hasn’t shown this kind of difficulty in locating the strike zone since he was a teenager.

And beyond McDowell it just gets worse. We provide young pitcher after young pitcher with the opportunity to seize the moment and make a statement, but all too often the statement is, “HELP!”

Thus for the second time in three years, our Indians slip and fall. Our progress in restoring the competitiveness of the Cleveland franchise is thrown for a loss.

          Yankees:  Actual          Red Sox:  Actual           Indians:  Actual
 Year     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1969    80   81   5   562  587    87   75   3   743  736    62   99   6   573  717
 1970    93   69   2   680  612    87   75   3   786  722    76   86   5   649  675
 1971    82   80   4   648  641    85   77   3   691  667    60  102   6   543  747

          Yankees:  Virtual         Red Sox:  Virtual         Indians:  Virtual
 Year     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA     W    L  Pos   RS   RA
 1969    80   81   5   594  617    85   77   4   775  781    68   93   6   576  658
 1970    95   67   2   677  599    89   73   3   781  706    82   80   4   706  680
 1971    87   75   3   662  611    84   78   4   690  673    73   89   5   657  748

Next time

This season brought little more than varying degrees of frustration. We’ll see how each of these ball clubs addresses their issues.

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Comments

  1. Paul E said...

    Steve:
      If I’m not crazy, I believe Yaz was given a $500,000 / 3-year deal over the winter after having an incredible 1967-1970 four-year run. He didn’t exactly rip the cover off the ball from 1971-1973; probably a portent of what free agency’s eventual multi-year deals would bring the owners.

      As always, great stuff

  2. Steve Treder said...

    I don’t know if Yastrzemski’s contract status had anything to do with his big 1971-72 slump, but at the time the Boston fandom was furious with him, and he endured quite a bit of booing at Fenway Park.  As his long career progressed, he regained the support of the Red Sox faithful, and indeed was raised to the status of demigod that he holds to this day.  But there was a point in his career when more than a few people (rightly or not) questioned his hustle and effort.  Jim Bouton commented on this in Ball Four in 1969.

  3. Steve Treder said...

    Gardner, in real life, was traded to the Indians by the Cubs, on March 30, 1968, for Bobby Tiefenauer.  So our Indians inherited him.

    The actual Indians traded Gardner to the Yankees on July 12, 1969, in exchange for Johnny Orsino.  Our Indians declined that offer (lovely though it was), as noted in Part 1.

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