Posts Tagged ‘Dan Quisenberry’

2014 Veteran’s Committee: the Pitchers

November 7, 2013
Quiz

Quiz

If you look at the 2014 (the date the players are inducted, not the date the committee votes) Veteran’s Committee Ballot, there are two pitchers on the list. One was a starter, the other a reliever. Here’s a look at both (alphabetically).

Tommy John. That’s not a ballplayer, that’s a surgery, isn’t it? And that in many ways is the problem with Tommy John the player. Great pitchers have hooks. Sandy Koufax won five consecutive ERA titles. Cy Young won 500 plus games. Nolan Ryan struck out a gazillion batters. Tommy John had surgery. When your greatest hook is that you had your arm fixed, your Hall of Fame case takes a shot across the bow. Having said all that, let me remind you that John was a very good pitcher. He started with Cleveland in the mid-1960s, didn’t do much, was sent to Chicago (the White Sox, not the Cubs) and teamed with Gary Peters as the next great left-handed duo. Well, Peters got hurt, and so did John and the ChiSox didn’t do much. John won a high of 14 games with Chicago, had one ERA under two (1.98) and ended up traded to the Dodgers. He missed all of 1975 due to the surgery he made famous. He came back in 1976, went 10-11, then won 20 for the first time in 1977. He joked he was 34, but his arm was only two. He had another good year with LA, then went to the Yankees. He won 20 games two times, then was traded to the Angels. He had one year at Oakland, then ended up back with New York finishing his career in 1989.

For his career, John was 288-231 (.555 winning percentage), had an ERA of 3.34, and had 46 shutouts. He walked 1259 batters, struck out 2245, gave up 4783 hits, all in 4710 inning pitched. His WHIP is 1.283 and his ERA+ is 111. A sinker ball pitcher who threw a ton of ground balls, his high in strikeouts was only 138, which he did twice. He played in postseason five times, going 6-3 with two wins and one loss coming in the World Series. He was lifted early in game six of the 1981 World Series and his replacement gave up the losing runs. It was the deciding game of the Series. In three World Series appearances, his team never won.

The other pitcher on this year’s ballot is Dan Quisenberry, the Kansas City reliever. He was a right-handed closer who got to KC in 1979. He took the closer’s role the next season and led the Royals in saves for the next six seasons. He led the American League in saves five times, four in a row, which is still the record (it ties Bruce Sutter who did it in the National League). By way of comparison, Mariano Rivera only led the AL only three times. He started poorly in 1986, did worse in 1987, and in 1988 was traded to St. Louis. No longer the closer, he pitched through 1989 with the Cards, then went to San Francisco. He got into five games, tore his rotator cuff and retired. He wrote poetry in retirement and died of brain cancer in 1998,

For his career, Quisenberry was 56-46 with an ERA of 2.76, and 244 saves (sixth all time when he retired). He walked 162, struck out 379, gave up 1064 hits, all in 1043 innings pitched. His WHIP is 1.175 and his ERA+ is 146. He faced 4247 batter in his 1043 innings, or just over four batter an inning pitched. He averaged 1.5 innings pitched per game, meaning he frequently pitched more than just the ninth inning. In postseason play he had three wins, two in the World Series (including the “Denkinger blown call” game six of 1985) and four loses (two in the Series). He picked up three saves (only one in the World Series). He walked nine and struck out eight in postseason (six of the walks and three of the strikeouts coming in Series play). His 1985 team won the World Series.

So where do I stand on letting either man into the Hall of Fame? I can make a case for both, and frankly wouldn’t be upset if either or both made it to the Hall. John has a lot of wins, is instrumental in getting five teams to the playoffs. Quisenberry has the record for most seasons leading his league in saves and is arguably the best reliever of his time. But both have negatives. John was almost never seen as the ace of his staff and Quisenberry’s save number (the most significant number, ultimately, for a reliever) isn’t all that high. So this year, I think I’d pass on both for the Hall.

Newest Veteran’s Committee Ballot Revealed

November 5, 2013

Just looked at the Hall of Fame website. They have posted the Veteran’s Committee ballot for the election next month. Here’s the list divided into 3 categories (alphabetically within categories). All are individuals who played, managed, or were executives primarily since 1972:

Players: Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Dave Parker, Dan Quisenberry, Ted Simmons

Managers: Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Billy Martin, Joe Torre

Executives: Marvin Miller, George Steinbrenner

That’s the entire list. The election is in December during the winter meetings. Make your own choices. I’ll detail mine in 3 later posts divided into the categories listed above. I know you’ll be waiting on pins and needles.

Evaluating the Giants

November 5, 2010

I guess it’s time I add my congratulations to the Giants on their World Series victory. I have to admit I didn’t see it coming, having picked both Philadelphia and St. Louis to be the NL teams in the LCS. But with that congratulations comes a caveat from someone who studies baseball history. This isn’t the best Giants team to win a pennant. That goes, in my opinion, to the 1962 version.

Check out the starting lineup of game seven of the 1962 World Series. Felipe Alou leads off, Willie Mays bats third, Willie McCovey hits clean up, and Orlando Cepeda is in the five hole. Jack Sanford is on the mound and would have won the Cy Young Award that year if not for a fellow named Drysdale. Juan Marichal had pitched earlier and even Gaylord Perry had played a little in the season (but wasn’t a major factor in the team winning). The team got through a bruising 1962 three game playoff with Los Angeles to get to the Series, then battled the Yankees down to the last out. McCovey’s smash that Bobby Richardson caught ended game seven with crucial runs on base. To me it’s the best Giants pennant winner ever, although others may prefer the Hubbell-Ott teams of the 1930s, or the John McGraw teams of the 1920s and the 1900s.

What this team reminds of most is a combination of the  hitting of the 2002 Angels and the pitching of the 1985 Royals. The ’02 Angels (who just happened to beat the Giants in the Series) were led by the likes of Garrett Anderson, Tim Salmon, David Eckstein, and Troy Glaus. Nice players all, but not great stars. To be honest, I look over the roster and I can’t find a Hall of Famer in the lot. That’s unusual because almost every team that wins a World Series has at least one Hall of Famer around  somewhere. But they’re still a lot of really nice players who did well. Unlike the ’85 Royals, there was no George Brett around.  Take a look at the current World Series winning Giants roster, which also has no George Brett. Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, Edgar Renteria, and Juan Uribe are all nice players and make teams better by their presence. But there’s not a truly great player there. Much like the Angels the sum of the parts is much superior to the bits themselves.

But pitching-wise, the 2010 Giants remind me very much of the 1985 Royals. Lincecum, Cain, Wilson have their counterparts in Bret Saberhagen, Danny Jackson, and Dan Quisenberry. Both teams feature quality pitching that goes deep down the staff.  They both have two-time Cy Young winners (Lincecum and Saberhagen) and first-rate relievers (Wilson and Quisenberry). The second and third spot pitchers are better than average for both teams.

Unfortunately for Kansas City, the staff didn’t hold up. Arms went, other parts of the anatomy failed, wildness took over, and in Quisenberry’s case disease took him early. That’s a precautionary tale for anyone ready to assign long-term greatness to the Giants. Maybe the arms will hold up, but maybe they won’t. Whichever the case, congrats to the 2010 version.

An Anniversary in Kansas City

October 27, 2010

Dick Howser

With the start of the World Series, it seems appropriate to look back at previous champions so that the current crop of players can see the shoulders they stand upon. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the only World Series win by the Kansas City Royals. Over the last several years the Royals have become irrelevant in the American League, so many people have forgotten that they were once a powerhouse winning it all in 1985.

The Series is now primarily famous for Don Denkinger’s blown call in the ninth inning of game six. I’ve even heard people complain that call cost St. Louis the Series. It didn’t. Being unable to get their act together after the disappointment of game six did. The Cards lost game seven 11-0 (tied with a Cardinals victory in 1934 as the biggest blowout game seven ever) and Denkinger didn’t cause that. It also helped that the Royals were a good team. Ewing Kaufmann had away of finding good players who rose to the occasion when needed. They won only the single World Series on his watch, but they were competitive year after year. Dick Howser was an excellent manager who got the most out of his players and had a knack of nurturing new team members. It’s a great shame he died so very early. In fact, the early deaths of Howser and Dan Quisenberry give this team something of a tragic air.

The team itself had a young pitching staff. The four men who started the World Series games were 21 (Bret Saberhagen), 23 (Danny Jackson), and 28 year olds Charlie Leibrandt and Bud Black was the geezers (22-year-old Mark Gubicza didn’t pitch in the Series). Closer Dan Quisenberry saved 37 games that season, the last of four consecutive seasons he would lead the AL. Saberhagen picked up the Cy Young Award that season (and another in 1989). None of them went on to greatness, even Saberhagen, the best of the starters. He ended his career 167-117. Jackson had a few good years getting into World Series play in 1990 (with a winning Cincinnati) and 1993 (with a losing Philadelphia), and ending with a 112-131 record.  Leibrandt got into the 1991 World Series, lost two games, and is primarily famous today for giving up Kirby Puckett’s walk off in game six. His career record was 140-112. Black now manages at San Diego and went 121-116. Gubicza stayed with KC the longest (to 1996) but finished his career 132-136. Quiz died young but gave KC 244 saves (and for my money rates a serious look for Coopertown). For one year, they all pitched well and led a team to victory.

The infield was solid, if uneven. Steve Balboni hit .243 and led the team with 36 home runs. He also led the league in strikeouts with 166. Shortstop Onix Concepcion hit .204 and was replaced in the Series by Buddy Biancalana who had hit all of a buck-88. While neither tore up the diamond with a bat, both were decent fielders. The other two infielders were two-thirds of the heart of the team. Frank White was a great second baseman. He turned the double play with grace, could catch anything and played wider of the base than anyone else in the AL. He hit .249 with 22 home runs. Hall of Famer George Brett was at third. He led the league in slugging at .585, hit .335, had 30 home runs, 38 doubles, and 112 RBIs. Just your standard George Brett type year.

If White and Brett were two-thirds of the heart of the team, center fielder Willie Wilson was the other third. Leading off he hit .278. stole 43 bases, and led the AL with 21 triples. As an outfielder he was terrific, using his speed to roam all over the grass. Which was just as good because Lonnie Smith played left field. Smith could hit, but he was a terrible fielder. For 1985 he hit .257, stole 40 bases, and had 23 doubles. Today he’s probably most famous for the base running blunder in game seven of the 1991 Series, but for a while he was a winner (appearing on World Series winning rosters in 1980, 1982, and 1985). The Royals platooned Darryl Motley and Pat Sheridan in right field. Motley was the right-handed hitter. Both hit in the .220s, but Motley produced 17 home runs. Both Wilson and Smith were involved in drug allegations that effected their career, which adds an element of sadness about what might have been lost to this team.

The catcher and designated hitter were also solid. Jim Sundberg, lately over from Texas, was considered one of the finest catchers of the era. He hit .259 with 14 home runs in 1985, a major offensive explosion for him. Jorge Orta and Hal McRae split time as the DH (McRae was the right handed hitter). Both had acceptable years, but as the DH was not used in the 1985 Series, both were relegated to pinch hit duties. Orta got the only hit either had; it drove in two runs.  No one on the bench hit .250 and none had more than two home runs. Dane Iorg of Denkinger fame (or infamy depending on your point of view) hit .223 with one homer.

The team won the Series by hitting .288 to St.Louis’ .185 and scoring 28 runs to 13 for the Cards (take out the 11-0 game 7 and the numbers were 17-13). White had six RBIs, Brett led the team with a .370 average, and Saberhagen had two wins (including game seven) and picked up the MVP.

That was the highpoint for Kansas City. The pitching didn’t pan out, the hitters got old or faded. But for one year they were the best in baseball and showed the fans that Kansas City was relevant. Too bad that last part’s changed.