The virtual 1969-76 Yankees, Red Sox, and Indians (Part 4:  1971-72)

Last time we encountered a season which brought a step backward for all three of our franchises.

          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

Will we be able to get back of the beam in ’72?

The 1971-72 offseason: Actual deals we will make

Oct. 13, 1971: The New York Yankees traded outfielder Jim Lyttle to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Rich Hinton.

We’ll take the grade-B southpaw prospect in exchange for the garden-variety outfield scrubeenie.

Nov. 29, 1971: The Cleveland Indians traded pitcher Sam McDowell to the San Francisco Giants for pitcher Gaylord Perry and infielder Frank Duffy.

McDowell’s 1971 performance is worrisome for more than just the drop in wins and increase in ERA; indeed those fluctuations are within the normal range. The issue is that all of the significant predictors of future performance moved suddenly and sharply in the wrong directions: his walk rate up, his strikeout rate down, his home run rate up, and his durability down. Therefore, as it was for the actual Indians, it’s entirely sensible for us to see what he might bring in the trade market, before any of those trends continue.

And this is quite an offer indeed from the Giants. Granted, Perry is four years’ McDowell’s senior, and he’s had a bit of a down year himself in 1971. But Perry’s down year wasn’t comparable to McDowell’s, and over many years the big, strong, hard-throwing right-hander with the “super sinker” infamously prominent in his repertoire has demonstrated far more consistency and durability than the huge, wild, flamethrowing southpaw.

Moreover, the Giants are willing to throw the 25-year-old Duffy into the package. He doesn’t project as a star by any means, but he looks capable as a middle-infield utility guy, and perhaps more than that. The Giants themselves thought enough of him to surrender George Foster to get him just six months ago.

Why, yes, we will make this deal. How kind of you to suggest it.

Dec. 2, 1971: The New York Yankees traded pitchers Gary Jones and Terry Ley to the Texas Rangers for infielder Bernie Allen.

The pitching prospects are second-tier, and Allen swings a decent left-handed bat, and can handle second base or third.

Dec. 6, 1971: The Cleveland Indians traded outfielder Ted Uhlaender to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Milt Wilcox.

The journeyman Uhlaender has performed well enough for Cleveland in 1970-71, but he’s nothing special. Wilcox isn’t a hard thrower, but he isn’t yet 22 years old, and his minor league numbers are good. And heaven knows our Indians could use some pitching help.

Jan. 19, 1972: The New York Yankees traded a player to be named later to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Fred Beene. (On April 10, 1972, the Yankees sent pitcher Dale Spier to the Yankees, completing the deal.)

The 29-year-old right-hander Beene is a minor league veteran, a soft-tossing control specialist who’s never been able to work his way onto the excellent Baltimore staffs, but would have been in the majors in lesser organizations. No harm in giving him a shot.

April 12, 1972: The Cleveland Indians purchased outfielder Ron Lolich from the Chicago White Sox.

Mickey’s cousin is a corner outfielder with power, a bench/platoon candidate.

The 1971-72 offseason: Actual deals we will not make

Oct. 5, 1971: The Cleveland Indiand traded outfielders Vada Pinson and Frank Baker and pitcher Alan Foster to the California Angels for outfielder Alex Johnson and catcher Jerry Moses.

We’ve explained this big one as follows:

As long as baseball has been played, perhaps never has a team experienced a season more disappointing, indeed dispiriting, than the 1971 Angels. Roundly expected to strongly contend and quite possibly capture their first championship, instead things didn’t go just wrong for the Angels, they went sadly, dismally, and sickeningly wrong. David Neft and Richard Cohen’s iconic Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball aptly described the miasma as “a whirlpool of dissension and controversy.”

Among the many rotten outcomes for the Angels was the fact that [newly-acquired Tony] Conigliaro would play his final game of the season on July 9th, before retiring in abject frustration at his rapidly degenerating capacity to see and hit the ball; he had driven in just 11 of the 156 runners on base ahead of him. And Tony C.’s fellow heavy-hitting outfielder, Alex Johnson, the 1970 American League batting champ who was expected to spend the season getting on base and being driven home by Conigliaro, would play his final inning on June 24th, before being indefinitely suspended by the team for his utter refusal to put forth a vigorous effort on the field.

Under such circumstances, it was no surprise to see the Angels desiring to trade Johnson at the season’s end. What was surprising is that they not only found a willing taker in the Indians, but that Angels’ GM Dick Walsh was able to persuade veteran Cleveland GM Gabe Paul to surrender a fairly substantial package in exchange for the deeply troubled Johnson and the workaday catcher Moses.

Our Indians have neither Pinson nor Foster, so this precise trade is impossible for us. But no matter: we have utterly no interest in Johnson, certainly not in exchange for anything more than a token payment, which this is distinctly not.

Dec. 2, 1971: The New York Yankees traded pitcher Stan Bahnsen to the Chicago White Sox for infielder Rich McKinney.

Bahnsen has never come close to repeating the performance he flashed in his 1968 Rookie of the Year campaign, but over the three ensuing seasons he’s settled in as a durable, consistent innings-eater, an outstanding guy to have in the middle of the rotation. The idea that McKinney, not a bad player but not a good one either, a handyman type, could be expected to deliver anything close to Bahnsen’s value is ludicrous.

Yankees’ GM Lee MacPhail was generally a good trader in his long career. We don’t have the faintest idea what he was thinking here, but whatever it was, we aren’t thinking it.

Jan. 20, 1972: The New York Yankees traded a player to be named later to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Johnny Callison. (On May 17, 1972, the Yankees sent pitcher Jack Aker to the Cubs, completing the deal.)

Our Yankees have no need for the rapidly-fading veteran Callison.

Feb. 2, 1972: The New York Yankees purchased infielder Hal Lanier from the San Francisco Giants.

Nor for Mr. Lanier, who’s always taken the “no hit” part of “good field, no hit” way too seriously.

Feb. 2, 1972: The Boston Red Sox traded first baseman Mike Fiore to the St. Louis Cardinals for first baseman-outfielder Bob Burda.

We don’t have Fiore, so can’t do this swap of first base scrubs.

March 22, 1972: The Boston Red Sox traded pitcher Sparky Lyle to the New York Yankees for first baseman-third baseman Danny Cater and a player to be named later. (On June 30, 1972, the Yankees sent infielder Mario Guerrero to the Red Sox, completing the deal.)

I recall reading an article in Sports Illustrated during the 1972 season, focusing on the American League East race. The article quoted someone in the Yankees’ front office, it may have been MacPhail, saying, “Bahnsen for McKinney! Bahnsen for McKinney! That’s all we hear about. Why doesn’t anyone want to talk about Cater for Lyle?”

It’s certainly true that the Yankees neatly made up for their blundering surrender of Bahnsen with this artful pilfering of Lyle. Which leads one to ask: what were the Red Sox thinking?

I recall as well an online discussion I once had with someone endeavoring to explain Boston GM Dick O’Connell’s reasoning. With the arrival of rookie southpaw John Curtis in 1972 to a Boston staff that already included lefthanders Lyle, Bill Lee, and Gary Peters, the story is that somebody had to go, because it just isn’t sensible for a team playing half its games in Fenway Park to go with a four-lefty pitching staff. And since Lyle’s performances in 1970 and ’71 hadn’t been great, he was the one to get the boot.

I’m not sold on the notion that a Boston staff couldn’t possibly thrive with four southpaws, but let’s assume such logic is compelling, and that one of the four lefties did have to go. Why should that one be Lyle, who even at less than his best in 1970-71 had been among the league’s better relievers, and was still just 27 years old? If one of them had to be traded, how about Peters, who was about to turn 35, and was coming off a poor 1971 season in which his strikeout rate had plummeted by one-third?

And if, for whatever reason, you trade a 27-year-old Sparky Lyle, it’s laughable to consider 32-year-old Danny Cater, even with the immortal Mike Guerrero tossed in alongside, as fair compensation.

This one is simply a bad, bad deal. Our Red Sox won’t make it.

April 3, 1972: The Cleveland Indians traded outfielder Ted Ford to the Texas Rangers for outfielder Roy Foster and first baseman-outfielder Tommy McCraw.

This is a generous offer for Ford. But our Indians don’t have a spot for McCraw, so we’ll decline.

The 1970-71 offseason: Deals we will invoke

Oct. 10, 1971: The Boston Red Sox traded pitchers Jim Lonborg and Ken Brett and outfielder Joe Lahoud to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Marty Pattin.

This trade, significant though it is, is just part of a much larger actual deal consummated on this date. In that one the Red Sox also included George Scott, Billy Conigliaro, and Don Pavletich, and the Brewers also tossed in Tommy Harper, Lew Krausse, and Pat Skrable. Good grief.

Now, who might have been behind a transaction of that scale?

Frank Lane had been continuously employed as a major league General Manager from 1948 to 1961, with four different franchises. In that period he earned a reputation as the most ardent deal-maker in the game, gaining such nicknames as “Trader Lane,” “Frantic Frankie,” and “The Wheeler-Dealer.” But he’d been fired by Athletics’ owner Charlie Finley in mid-1961 in an acrimonious dispute that led to a years-long court battle, and Lane had never been employed as a GM since.

But a young Brewers’ owner by the name of Bud Selig took a chance on the now 75-year-old Lane, and hired him as GM in late January 1971. The wily old bargainer wasted no time in demonstrating that he was still “Frantic Frankie,” swinging four trades in his first two-and-a-half weeks on the job. Then during the ’71 season, Lane executed ten more.

He was just warming up. Ten days after the conclusion of the regular season, The Wheeler-Dealer pulled off a massive ten-player exchange with the Red Sox, one of the largest talent transfers in the history of the sport. It was a bold move, to say the least: In a single stroke, Lane surrendered both his best position player (Harper) and his best pitcher (Pattin). Yet the haul he extracted from Boston’s O’Connell was extraordinary; in both depth and long-term quality of talent, the Brewers were improved.

Our Red Sox already traded Scott a couple of years ago, but in any case we wouldn’t be willing to provide Lane’s Brewers with an offer as bountiful as the actual deal. Lonborg, Brett, and Lahoud for Pattin is quite fair, even generous. It’s a good deal for Milwaukee, and for Boston it leverages some depth into a single stalwart starting pitcher whom we can really use.

Oct. 18, 1971: The Cleveland Indians sold pitcher Mike Jackson to the Kansas City Royals.

Actually on this date the Royals acquired Jackson from St. Louis. He’s a big lefty with intriguing stuff, but in three seasons at the triple-A level has yet to get his ERA as low as 4.00, so our Indians will send him along.

Oct. 22, 1971: The Boston Red Sox traded infielder Tom Matchick to the Baltimore Orioles for pitcher Mike Herson.

In reality the Orioles made this trade with Milwaukee. Our Red Sox have younger options to fill Matchick’s utility infielder role.

Nov., 1971: The New York Yankees sold pitcher Lindy McDaniel to the Chicago White Sox.

The veteran McDaniel has had a long career full of up years and down years, but we think his down year in 1971 at the age of 35 is one from which there will be no rebound. (Wrong again: McDaniel will deliver four more years, appearing in 162 games and 413 innings and compiling an ERA+ of 118. Oops.)

Dec. 2, 1971: The Cleveland Indians traded pitchers Mike Paul and Rich Hand and outfielder Roy Foster to the Texas Rangers for outfielder Del Unser and pitcher Denny Riddleberger.

Actually this deal also included catcher Ken Suarez going from Cleveland to Texas, and pitchers Gary Jones and Terry Ley coming in return. Our Indians no longer have Suarez, so we’ll let the Rangers keep those two pitching prospects.

Hand and Paul are high-potential young pitchers who just haven’t gotten it together, and so we’ll cash them in. In Unser we get a solid, unexciting center fielder, and Riddleberger’s a decent southpaw reliever.

Dec. 3, 1971: The Cleveland Indians traded outfielder Jose Cardenal to the Chicago Cubs for pitchers Jim Colborn and Earl Stephenson and outfielder Brock Davis.

With Unser on board, our Indians are free to make this one, which was actually between the Brewers and the Cubs. The speedy Cardenal has been up and down with the bat, so we’ll take the Chicago offer. Neither Colborn, Stephenson, nor Davis is a grade-A talent, but each offers something that can be of help.

Dec. 13, 1971: The Cleveland Indians traded outfielder Bill Robinson to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Jerry Rodgriuez.

In real life, it was the White Sox sending Robinson along to Philadelphia. He’d been so promising several years ago, and now is stalled out as a triple-A journeyman. (Who knew that Robinson would figure it out at last, and play in the major leagues for the next 12 years?)

Dec., 1971: The Cleveland Indians traded pitcher Phil Hennigan to the New York Yankees for outfielder Danny Walton.

Speaking of once-promising right-handed-batting corner outfielders with power who’ve gotten stalled out, our Indians are willing to take on the Walton reclamation project in place of the Robinson reclamation project. And our Yankees might well have room in the bullpen for Hennigan.

Dec., 1971: The Cleveland Indians traded pitcher Jim Hardin and cash to the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder-catcher Carl Taylor.

We can’t figure out why teams keep passing Taylor around like a hot potato. He’s not a good fielder, but he’s unusually versatile defensively, his major league OBP in nearly 700 plate appearances is .367, and in triple-A in 1971 he put up a line of, get this, .362/.470/.504. Yet over the past two years he’s gone from the Pirates to the Cardinals to the Brewers to the Royals and back to the Pirates, and the Pirates think so highly of him that they’ll sell him back to the Royals next spring.

Our Indians will be happy to provide a home for this vagabond.

March 25, 1972: The Boston Red Sox sold outfielder Buddy Bradford to the Chicago White Sox.

No room on the Boston roster this time around.

March 29, 1972: The Cleveland Indians traded pitcher Vince Colbert to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Marcelino Lopez and cash.

Colbert provided useful workmanlike service to our beleaguered Cleveland pitching staff in 1971, but this spring he doesn’t look like he’s going to make the staff. So we’ll give the Lopez reclamation project a whirl in triple-A.

March 31, 1972: The New York Yankees traded first baseman Tony Solaita to the Milwaukee Brewers for first baseman-outfielder Frank Tepedino and cash.

The once-ballyhooed Solaita flopped as a rookie in 1971, and is now being soundly beaten out for the first base job by Ron Blomberg. So we’ll cash Solaita in for the more defensively useful Tepedino.

April 3, 1972: The Cleveland Indians sold infielder Fred Stanley to the Texas Rangers.

More roster pruning.

The 1972 season: Actual deals we will make

Aug. 15, 1972: The Boston Red Sox traded outfielder Chris Coletta to the California Angels for outfielder-first baseman Andy Kosco.

His range of talent is limited, but we sure like the idea of Andy Kosco coming to the plate in Fenway.

Sep. 2, 1972: The Boston Red Sox purchased pitcher Bob Veale from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Bullpen insurance for the stretch run.

The 1972 season: Deals we will invoke

June 7, 1972: The New York Yankees purchased pitcher Diego Segui from the Oakland Athletics.

The A’s actually sold Segui to the Cardinals, but he had to pass through American League waivers for that to happen, and our Yankees will claim him. It’s puzzling why the Oakland was dumping Segui, and why no A.L. team grabbed him, because all the 34-year-old right-hander had done for the A’s was pitch with consistent, dependable effectiveness for five-plus years and counting.

June 16, 1972: The New York Yankees traded pitcher John Cumberland to the St. Louis Cardinals for infielder Jeff Mason.

Meanwhile, Cumberland was flopping as hard off a good 1971 as any pitcher ever has.

June 30, 1972: The Boston Red Sox traded pitcher Mike Nagy to the New York Yankees for infielder Mario Guerrero.

Like the actual Yankees, our version is fine with letting go of Guerrero, and our Red Sox are fine with letting the Yankees find out if Nagy will ever figure out how to get his sinker to make acquaintance with the strike zone.

July 10, 1972: The New York Yankees purchased pitcher Tom Hilgendorf from the Kansas City Royals.

In truth it was the Indians picking up this minor league veteran southpaw from the Royals, but in our scenario it’s the Yanks with the opening.

Aug. 18, 1972: The New York Yankees released pitcher Steve Hamilton.

The end of the line for this very good reliever.

1972 season results

Yankees

Our modifications to the 1971 roster are less than sweeping. Solaita is out at first base, and Blomberg is in. Allen’s left-handed bat will see plenty of third base action. The only new name to open the season on the pitching staff is Beene in the bullpen. Unsatisfied as we were with the ’71 results, we think the core formula remains as robust as we can make it.

1972 New York Yankees     Won 82    Lost 73    Finished 3rd

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
   1B   R. Blomberg*    23  107 299  36  80  22   1  14  51  38  26 .268 .355 .488 .843  153
   2B   H. Clarke#      32  147 547  65 132  20   2   3  37  56  44 .241 .313 .302 .615   86
   SS   R. Metzger#     24  128 427  40  93   8   2   1  25  38  45 .218 .278 .253 .531   61
 3B-2B  B. Allen*       33   92 287  32  67  12   0  10  30  32  49 .233 .306 .380 .685  106
 RF-1B  J. Briggs*      28  135 418  58 109  12   1  24  69  55  68 .261 .342 .467 .809  143
   CF   B. Murcer*      26  153 585 102 171  30   7  33  99  63  67 .292 .361 .537 .898  169
   LF   R. White#       28  155 556  76 150  29   0  10  56  99  59 .270 .381 .376 .757  129
   C    T. Munson       25  140 511  54 143  16   3   7  48  47  58 .280 .340 .364 .704  113

 1B-3B  D. Cater        32   83 254  23  59  13   2   3  31  13  28 .232 .269 .335 .604   82
 3B-SS  J. Kennedy      31   71 191  18  45   9   2   1  20  17  38 .236 .299 .319 .618   87
   OF   R. Torres#      23   72 159  14  33   6   0   2  10  14  36 .208 .274 .283 .557   69
  C-1B  J. Ellis        23   52 136  13  40   5   1   5  26   8  22 .294 .333 .456 .789  137
   SS   J. Kenney*      27   50 119  16  25   2   0   0   7  16  13 .210 .301 .227 .528   61
   RF   R. Swoboda      28   63 113   9  28   8   0   1  13  17  29 .248 .338 .345 .683  107
 1B-RF  F. Tepedino*    24   58  97   9  21   3   0   2   9   5  20 .216 .252 .309 .562   69

        Others                   41   3   9   1   0   0   3   2   7 .220 .256 .244 .500   51

        Pitchers                395  22  61   5   1   0  23  13 128 .154 .172 .172 .344    4

        Total                  5135 590 1266 201 22 116 557 533 737 .247 .315 .362 .677  104

        * Bats left
        # Bats both

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        M. Stottlemyre  30   36  36   9  14  18   0 260 250  99  93   13   85  110 3.22   92
        F. Peterson*    30   35  35  12  17  15   0 250 270  98  90   17   44  100 3.24   91
        S. Kline        24   32  32  11  16   9   0 236 210  79  63   11   44   58 2.40  123
        S. Bahnsen      27   37  35   5  19  12   1 227 223  91  84   21   66  144 3.33   89
        J. Cumberland*  25   11   5   0   0   4   0  25  30  26  20    6    7    8 7.20   41

        P. Hennigan     26   38   1   0   5   2  11  67  51  19  18    6   17   45 2.42  122
        D. Segui        34   33   0   0   3   1  14  50  38  19  15    2   28   47 2.70  110
        M. Kekich*      27   29   3   0   2   2   2  58  52  24  22    3   27   30 3.41   87
        F. Beene        29   29   1   0   1   3   5  58  55  21  15    3   24   37 2.33  127
        T. Hilgendorf*  30   25   2   1   2   1   2  42  43  15  12    2   18   24 2.57  115
        S. Hamilton*    36   22   0   0   1   0   1  17  19   8   7    1    8   12 3.71   80
        R. Klimkowski   28   18   1   0   0   3   2  28  29  14  13    3   14   10 4.18   71
        A. Closter*     29   12   1   0   1   2   1  21  22  10  10    3   12   15 4.29   69
        R. Hinton*      25    9   2   0   1   0   0  15  18  10   8    2    7   12 4.80   62
        S. Hargan       29    6   1   0   0   1   0  10  11   7   6    1    7    5 5.40   55

        Others                    0   0   0   0   0  10   9   5   5    0    3   10 4.50   66

        Total                   155  38  82  73 39 1374 1330 545 481  94  411  667 3.15   94

        * Throws left

When considering the stats of any American League ball club in 1972, one must staunchly bear in mind the extreme low-scoring nature of that league in that season: it was nearly equivalent to the era’s most notoriously low-scoring season of 1968. And that’s especially true when considering the stats of the 1972 Yankees, given that Yankee Stadium, generally a pitcher’s park, played especially hitter-unfriendly in the early 1970s. The ’72 Yankees thus present a nearly perfect storm of stats that, at first glance, make hitters look worse than they were, and pitchers better than they were.

Understood in that context, we see that our ’72 Yanks are a robust hitting team, leading the league in OPS+. Bobby Murcer is tremendous again, and Blomberg, Johnny Briggs, and Roy White all swing booming bats as well.

But our power-laden offense is paired with a disappointing pitching staff. The starting rotation of Mel Stottlemyre, Fritz Peterson, Steve Kline, and Stan Bahnsen is extremely durable, but Kline is the only one putting up a good ERA. The bullpen is so problematic that we rebuild it over the course of the season, and while we emerge with effective performers in Hennigan, Segui, Beene, and Hilgendorf, we take a lot of lumps before getting there.

It nets out to yet another pretty good, but not-good-enough ball club.

Red Sox

The Pattin acquisition is the only major trade we’ve executed in the offseason. But the roster is significantly overhauled with the introduction of a bumper crop of rookies fresh off the farm.

We’re providing prominent opportunities for catcher Carlton Fisk, first baseman Cecil Cooper, shortstop Juan Beniquez, outfielders Rick Miller and Ben Oglivie, and starting pitcher John Curtis.

1972 Boston Red Sox     Won 89    Lost 66    Finished 1st

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
   1B   C. Cooper*      22  133 429  48 114  19   6   6  39  32  89 .266 .315 .380 .695  102
 2B-1B  M. Andrews      28  123 337  39  76  13   0   7  30  46  51 .226 .307 .326 .633   84
 SS-2B  J. Beniquez     22  121 376  37  94  12   6   4  29  26  61 .250 .295 .346 .641   86
   3B   R. Petrocelli   29  147 521  62 125  15   2  15  75  78  91 .240 .338 .363 .700  104
 RF-CF  R. Smith#       27  131 467  75 126  25   4  21  74  68  63 .270 .365 .475 .840  143
   CF   R. Miller*      24  119 319  41  78  12   5   6  29  36  57 .245 .320 .370 .689  100
 LF-1B  C. Yastrzemski* 32  125 455  70 120  18   2  12  68  67  44 .264 .357 .391 .748  118
   C    C. Fisk         24  131 457  74 134  28   9  22  61  52  83 .293 .370 .538 .908  162

 RF-CF  D. Evans        20   90 305  33  79  12   4   8  34  45  75 .259 .355 .403 .758  120
 LF-RF  B. Oglivie*     23   94 253  27  61  10   2   8  30  18  61 .241 .293 .391 .684   98
   SS   L. Aparicio     38   73 218  23  56  13   2   2  20  13  14 .257 .294 .362 .657   90
   OF   B. Conigliaro   24   52 191  22  45   6   1   9  20   8  52 .236 .264 .419 .683   96
   IF   B. Hunter       24   55  86   7  17   2   0   1   7  10  15 .198 .287 .256 .543   59
   IF   M. Guerrero     22   52  90   7  22   2   1   0   5   5   5 .244 .276 .289 .564   64
   UT   P. Gagliano     30   52  82   9  21   4   1   0  10  10  13 .256 .330 .329 .659   92
  RF-C  F. Fernandez    29   36  63   5  10   2   0   2   6  13  25 .159 .295 .286 .581   70
   C    H. King*        28   33  61   6  11   3   0   2   6  12  19 .180 .333 .328 .661   93
   LF   A. Kosco        30   17  47   5  10   2   1   3   6   2   9 .213 .260 .489 .749  115

        Others                    9   1   2   0   0   0   1   0   4 .222 .222 .222 .444   30

        Pitchers                424  36  70  13   1   4  32  17 150 .165 .189 .229 .418   21

        Total                  5190 627 1271 211 47 132 582 558 981 .245 .316 .380 .696  102

        * Bats left
        # Bats both

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        M. Pattin       29   38  35  13  17  13   0 253 232 102  91   19   65  168 3.24  101
        J. Curtis*      24   34  29   8  12  11   0 199 201  83  74   11   73  145 3.35   97
        S. Siebert      35   32  30   7  12  12   0 196 204 105  83   17   59  123 3.81   86
        L. Tiant        31   35  19  12  14   6   1 169 119  42  36    6   62  114 1.92  170
        L. McGlothen    22   22  21   4   7   6   0 131 121  59  49    8   53  101 3.37   97
        R. Culp         30   16  16   3   5   7   0  94  93  53  46    7   48   48 4.40   74

        S. Lyle*        27   56   0   0   9   3  18  97  76  25  22    4   26   67 2.04  160
        B. Lee*         25   45   0   0   7   3   4  76  67  27  26    4   29   40 3.08  106
        G. Peters*      35   30   2   0   2   2   1  68  72  38  32    7   31   55 4.24   77
        D. Newhauser    24   21   0   0   2   1   1  25  20   7   7    1   17   18 2.52  129
        B. Bolin        33   19   0   0   0   1   2  28  22  10   9    3   10   24 2.89  113
        A. Reynolds     26   14   3   0   0   1   0  30  36  22  18    3   11   20 5.40   60

        Others                    0   0   2   0   1  17  12   6   5    0   10   17 2.65  123

        Total                   155  47  89  66 28 1383 1275 579 498  90  494  940 3.24  101

        * Throws left

We’d anticipated Billy Conigliaro developing into a star, but instead his performance continues to backslide. Emotionally troubled, he quits in June. To replace him, we call up yet another rookie, the 20-year-old Dwight Evans. Still another mid-season call-up is right-hander Lynn McGlothen, finding a spot in the starting rotation.

It’s an extraordinarily talented bunch of kids. The best of them is Fisk, who stars both offensively and defensively, and is unanimously acclaimed Rookie of the Year.

The broad infusion of fresh blood allows us to overcome setbacks. Carl Yastrzemski endures his second straight sub-par year with the bat. Rico Petrocelli’s production slips. Reggie Smith is dogged by leg injuries, and Mike Andrews by a bad back. Veteran pitchers Ray Culp, Sonny Siebert, and Gary Peters all decline.

But reclamation project Luis Tiant rebounds stunningly, working his way out of the bullpen and into the rotation with a brilliant performance. And Lyle heads up the bullpen with his best year yet.

The result of the topsy-turvy turbulence is a strong ball club in every aspect. And as the Baltimore dynamo finally does come back to the pack, in a closely-fought race (and helped by a five-win overperformance against Pythag), we emerge as the division champion.

Indians

In the wake of our disappointing 1971, we’ve undertaken a thorough overhaul. Unser is installed in center field, with sophomore Chris Chambliss having the inside track in left, and rookie Buddy Bell also expecting outfield playing time. Duffy will compete for the shortstop job.

The biggest realignment is on the mound. Perry takes over as the ace. Competing for starts behind him are sophomores Steve Dunning and Dick Tidrow, and newcomers Wilcox and Colborn.

1972 Cleveland Indians     Won 82    Lost 74    Finished 4th

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
   1B   G. Scott        28  148 549  71 150  23   4  21  87  40 122 .273 .325 .444 .769  124
   2B   D. Nelson       28  127 374  55  88  13   2   2  23  51  61 .235 .328 .297 .625   84
   SS   F. Duffy        25  130 385  26  92  16   4   3  29  31  54 .239 .290 .325 .614   80
   3B   G. Nettles*     27  150 557  69 141  28   0  17  73  57  50 .253 .324 .395 .719  110
   RF   R. Scheinblum#  29  134 450  60 136  22   3  11  66  56  40 .302 .380 .438 .818  140
   CF   D. Unser*       27  132 383  32  91  12   0   1  19  28  46 .238 .284 .277 .561   65
 LF-1B  C. Chambliss*   23  115 419  50 122  24   2   5  43  23  57 .291 .324 .394 .717  110
   C    R. Fosse        25  134 457  46 110  20   1  10  44  45  46 .241 .311 .354 .666   95

 OF-3B  B. Bell         20   88 233  28  59  10   1   4  19  16  16 .253 .302 .356 .658   93
 SS-2B  E. Leon         25   89 225  17  45   2   1   4  17  20  47 .200 .263 .271 .534   57
  C-LF  D. Sims*        31   80 199  17  46   8   0   6  24  26  34 .231 .323 .362 .685  101
   OF   T. Ford         25   77 172  21  40   7   1   6  10  14  34 .233 .290 .390 .680   98
 2B-OF  J. Lowenstein*  25   68 151  19  32   8   1   6  22  20  43 .212 .302 .397 .700  104
   OF   B. Davis*       28   81 139  18  44   2   0   1  12  10  20 .317 .358 .353 .710  109
  OF-C  C. Taylor       28   42  75  11  19   1   1   1   7  10  12 .253 .341 .333 .674   99

        Others                   56   2  12   1   0   0   3   3   8 .214 .254 .232 .486   44

        Pitchers                370  16  45   4   1   2  22  16 153 .122 .144 .154 .298  -13

        Total                  5194 558 1272 201 22 100 520 466 843 .245 .304 .350 .654   92

        * Bats left
        # Bats both

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        G. Perry        33   41  40  29  26  13   1 343 253  79  73   17   82  234 1.92  170
        D. Tidrow       25   39  34  10  15  13   0 237 200  83  73   21   70  123 2.77  118
        M. Wilcox       22   32  27   4   8  12   0 156 145  67  59   18   72   90 3.40   96
        R. Gardner*     27   31  21   3  10   8   1 130 132  63  51   17   38   76 3.53   92
        S. Dunning      23   12   7   0   2   2   0  46  48  30  27    8   25   29 5.28   62

        S. Mingori*     28   41   0   0   0   5  11  57  67  28  25    4   36   47 3.95   83
        J. Colborn      26   39  12   4   8   6   3 148 136  59  56   17   44   99 3.41   96
        D. Riddleberger 26   38   0   0   1   3   2  54  45  23  15    5   22   34 2.50  130
        R. Lamb         27   34   9   0   6   6   1 108 101  42  37    5   29   64 3.08  106
        V. Romo         29   28   0   0   3   0   6  52  45  21  20    7   19   48 3.46   94
        E. Stephenson*  24   20   3   0   2   3   0  40  39  17  15    3   17   18 3.38   97
        E. Farmer       22   15   0   0   1   2   2  20  17  11  10    3    9   11 4.50   72

        Others                    3   0   0   1   0  21  19  11  10    2   19   11 4.29   76

        Total                   156  50  82  74 27 1412 1247 534 471 127  482  884 3.00  109

        * Throws left

We expected Perry to serve as a steadying anchor for our young staff. We didn’t expect him to do it in glittering Cy Young Award-winning form. But he does.

Following Perry’s shining lead, our pitching rapidly coalesces into a competent unit, with Tidrow stepping up especially well. Overnight, we vault from one of the league’s worst in run prevention to one if its best.

Our offense remains neither a weakness nor a strength. Strong years from some (Richie Scheinblum and George Scott, in particular) are negated by slumps from others (Del Unser and Eddie Leon, we’re looking at you).

But on balance we’re dramatically improved, suddenly a good team. We finish in fourth in the tightly-contested division (ahead of the three-time defending champ Orioles!), but just seven and a half games behind the first-place Red Sox. It’s an extremely encouraging season.

          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
 1972    79   76   4   557  527    85   70   2   640  620    72   84   5   472  519

          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
 1972    82   73   3   590  545    89   66   1   627  579    82   74   4   558  534

Next time

Can our Bosox repeat? Can our Yanks or our Tribe take their place at the top?

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Comments

  1. Jim G. said...

    Some more perspective on the Lyle/Cater deal: is it possible the Red Sox tried to send Curtis but the Yankees resisted? Then the Sox upped the ante, feeling they had plenty of left-handers.
    Also, the previous October the Sox traded the up-and-coming George Scott to the Brewers and didn’t receive a first baseman in return. Maybe by March they were getting a little desperate for a replacement.
    Scott flourished in Milwaukee, and when they had a chance to re-acquire him in December of ‘76, they did so. Unfortunately for the Sox, at the cost of another young first baseman, Cecil Cooper (which I suspect will fall under the “Trades we will not make” when you get to that point). Scott had one decent season for the Sox, while we know what Cooper did. (In fairness, the Sox also received Bernie Carbo in that trade.)  Milwaukee’s lineage of first basemen owes a lot to Boston’s generosity. And if my first point has any merit, affected the Lyle/Carter trade.

  2. Steve Treder said...

    “is it possible the Red Sox tried to send Curtis but the Yankees resisted? Then the Sox upped the ante, feeling they had plenty of left-handers.”

    I don’t know, but certainly, it’s entirely possible.  Different players are obviously mentioned and pitched in trade negotiations.

    But (a) I’m not sure I’d have traded Curtis for Cater anyway, and (b) once one finds oneself upping the ante for a 32-year-old Danny Cater, one has moved beyond the realm of shrewd negotiating.

    “Also, the previous October the Sox traded the up-and-coming George Scott to the Brewers and didn’t receive a first baseman in return. Maybe by March they were getting a little desperate for a replacement.”

    It clearly appears that way.  And painting oneself into a desperate corner via one questionable transaction would be the first mistake.

  3. Paul G. said...

    I always though the Cater/Lyle swap was a long, long, long delayed reaction to the Babe Ruth trade.  Somebody opened an old dusty closet, a bit of the Frazee crazy dust got into the ventilation, and *bam* Sparky is sitting on birthday cakes in New York.  Makes sense to me.

  4. John Agius said...

    An alternate title to this series is “How the ‘76 would look without the guys they stole from the Red Sox and Indians”.  So far, no Sparky Lyle.  Next week we see who plays 3rd for the Yankees instead of Graig Nettles.  Bernie Allen and Danny Cater probably aren’t going to cut it.

  5. GDC said...

    ” even with the immortal Mike Guerrero “
    Was he nicknamed Mike, or do you also get him mixed up with Mike Gallego in your mind?  I think he got to Oakland in the Blue deal with the Giants and seemed like the best player on the field for the lousy late-Finley A’s.  I think I recall him getting bad-hopped by a grounder and slickly barehanding it and throwing out the runner.

  6. Steve Treder said...

    “Was he nicknamed Mike, or do you also get him mixed up with Mike Gallego in your mind?”

    He was nicknamed Mike, commonly referred to that way in the 1970s.

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