Category Archives: History

Clem Labine & Jack Morris

Graham Womack’s recent blog post Why do people still think Jack Morris pitched to the score? got me wondering about a side point. Has anyone besides Jack Morris ever thrown 10 shutout innings in an elimination game in the World Series with a final score of 1-0? Sure enough, someone has and that someone was someone most fans probably never heard of — Clem Labine.

Back in 1956, the Dodgers would’ve lost the series but Clem threw a gem and held off the Yankees offense for 10 solid innings of a 0-0 tie, to keep Brooklyn’s hope alive. In fact, he gave up the same number of hits & walks that Morris did in 1991’s game 7 while facing the exact same number of batters. It’s a very close comparison.

So as great as Morris’s performance was on that October night in 1991, it was not so unique that it couldn’t have been done by someone else in a similar situation.

23 by 23

No matter how Mike Trout’s career ends up, he will always have a good argument for being the best young position player the game has ever seen. He’s already got more fWAR through his age 22 season than anybody else, and now he’s on the verge of accumulating the most rWAR too.

22+ WAR in Their Age 22 Season
Player From-To Age rWAR fWAR G PA
Ty Cobb 1905-1909 18-22 25.5 25.9 595 2486
Mike Trout 2011-2014 19-22 25.4 26.6 416 1852
Ted Williams 1939-1941 20-22 23.6 24.8 436 1942
Mel Ott 1926-1931 17-22 23.5 25.1 677 2644
Alex Rodriguez 1994-1998 18-22 22.9 20.8 513 2271

It’s Been Awhile…

Last time the Royals and Pirates both had winning seasons in the same year, was 1991. KC was just 82-80, while the Pittsburgh went 98-64 and pushed the NLCS to 7 games.

Last time the Indians and Pirates both had winning seasons in the same year, was 1979. Cleveland was lucky, being just 81-80, while the Pittsburgh won the World Series in 7 games over Baltimore. If you want to go back to the last time the Indians & Pirates both won 82+ games, then we’re talkin’ about 1965.

Ten of our current MLB teams didn’t even exist yet, including the Royals. Everyone born in that year, already had their major league career come and go.

Houston Joins The Club

With the Astros 100th loss of the season, they’re guaranteed to be the 21st team to finish the season under .383 for 3 straight seasons. In fact, they’re on pace to be the worst team over a 3 years stretch since the late 70’s Blue Jays. They could wind up being worse in the past 50 years than anybody besides the early 60’s Mets. Like those Mets and Blue Jays tho, The Astros franchise has a bright future with lots of good minor league talent.

3+ Straight Seasons Below A .383 WP
Team W L % Note
2011-2013/9/17 Astros 162 313 .341 still have 11 games to play
2004-2006 Royals 176 310 .362
1977-1979 Blue Jays 166 318 .343
1962-1965 Mets 194 452 .300 4 straight seasons
1961-1964 Senators 239 407 .370 4 straight seasons
1955-1957 Senators 167 295 .361
1953-1955 Browns/Orioles 165 297 .357
1952-1954 Pirates 145 317 .314
1949-1951 Browns 163 299 .353
1938-1942 Phillies 225 534 .296 5 straight seasons
1936-1940 A’s 269 493 .353 5 straight seasons
1936-1939 Browns 201 411 .328 4 straight seasons
1925-1930 Red Sox 268 609 .306 6 straight seasons
1922-1924 Braves 160 300 .348
1921-1924 Phillies 213 399 .348 4 straight seasons
1919-1921 A’s 137 310 .306
1915-1917 A’s 134 324 .293
1910-1913 Browns 202 411 .330 4 straight seasons
1909-1912 Doves/Rustlers/Braves 194 416 .318 4 straight seasons
1905-1909 Cardinals 265 498 .347 5 straight seasons
1895-1898 Browns 147 395 .271 4 straight seasons

Pirates Attendance

The Pirates recently broke the 2,000,000 mark in attendance for the season. Shockingly, it’s only the 5th time they’ve reached that mark in franchise history.

  • 2,464,870 in 2001
  • 2,091,918 in 2012
  • 2,065,302 in 1991
  • 2,049,908 in 1990
  • 2,043,763 in 2013 (with 7 more home games to play)

It’s not too surprising that the top season was their first in a new ballpark, or seeing a pair of those early 1990’s teams when the Killer B’s ruled the NL East from the Alleghany. Surprisingly though, none of these seasons are in any of their championship seasons or a season following a championship. I really expected to see 1960, 1971, 1979 or 1980 in here too.

This year’s team is actually about to have the 2nd most attendance for any Pirates team in history. They’re averaging 27,618 per game, and they only need 24,078 for tonight & tomorrow’s games, to be 2nd on this list.

Can Houston Win 55 Games?

After this afternoon’s loss to the Rangers, the Astros are 37-80 (.316), with 45 games left on their schedule. Back in May, I said they look like they’re on their way to a 3rd consecutive 100-loss season, which would be only the 21st time any team was that bad for (at least) that long. To avoid that, they’ll need to turn into a .577 team (like the Rangers are) and go 26-19 to finish the year.

Obviously, that’s not going to happen even if they improve the team with some of their fine young minor leaguers in September. So the real question about the Astros is — can they win more than 54 games?

Since MLB instituted the free agent amateur draft in 1965, few teams have been so bad as to win only 1/3 of their games in a season. In the 20 seasons previous to that draft, 11 clubs failed to win more than one-third of their games in a season. Even if you discount those horrible early-60’s Mets teams, there were still 7 other teams this bad (’46 A’s, ’49 Senators, ’52 Tigers, ’52 Pirates, ’53 Pirates, 1954 A’s, & the ’61 Phillies). In the 47 years since that first draft, only 8 clubs have been that bad.

Worst Teams Since The Draft (ordered by WP)
Club W L %
2003 Tigers 41 119 .265
2004 Diamondbacks 51 111 .315
1969 Expos & 1969 Padres 52 110 .321
1996 Tigers & 1979 Blue Jays 53 109 .327
1979 A’s & 1998 Marlins 54 108 .333

If Houston’s going to avoid joining that small list, they must go 18-27 (.400) for the rest of this year. That might sound easy, but, this is a team that’s been playing .222 baseball since June 17th, good for a 10-35 record in their last 45 games.

The Astros are packed with minor league talent though, which could help the team reach 55+ W’s once the September call-ups arrive in Houston. The organization’s got teams in 1st place right now in AAA, AA, advanced A, A, and short season A. That’s really pretty incredible, and gives fans a lot of hope no matter what happens in Houston right now.

I’m guessing the September call-ups are the only way Houston could do better than a .333 season. Still, that only works if they’re major league ready, and we just don’t know how far along in their development they are. So, we’ll have to wait and see, but I think they’ll come in at 53 or 54 wins.