I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe, and pretty. 'Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball -- now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God's sake?
—Annie Savoy in "Bull Durham"
Actually, Pappas et al-for-Robinson wound up tied 108th worst in my lopsided study since Pappas was a pretty decent pitcher after that.
That trade doesn't even compare with Glenn Davis for Curt Schilling, Steve Finley, and Pete Harnisch. Schilling is the hero of Beantown because of his postseason heroics. Finley has 285 career home runs. And Harnisch, though not as successful as the other two, was an All-Star his first year in Houston and won 45 games in four years as an Astro. Davis played parts of three seasons in Baltimore appearing in just 185 games and hitting a meager 24 home runs over that span.
However, the one criticism I heard continually about the study on lopsided trades was that the Davis trade could not be the second most lopsided ever because Houston never got the best years from the two best players in the deal. The 23-year-old Schilling lasted one year in Houston's pen. Finley played four seasons in the Astrodome but was nowhere near the power hitter he is today—his top home run total as a 'Stro was 11.
This was because I looked at the total value of the players involved over the rest of their careers. But, in the Yankee-KC A's analysis, I created a stat to look at how the traded players performed just for the teams to which they were traded, Interstitial Win Shares and Interstitial Win Shares Above Baseline (WSAB). So that it doesn't sound so highfalutin, let's just call them Team Win Shares and Team WSAB.
So using the new stats, which trades are the most lopsided all-time? Let's see…
Date: December 15, 1900 Trade: New York Giants sent Amos Rusie to Cincinnati for Christy Mathewson Pre Career WS: -293 Post Career WS: 426 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 21 WSAB Pre Career: -239 WSAB Post Career: 333 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 15 WS Post for Team: 426 WSAB Post for Team: 333
Still number one.
Date: August 30, 1990 Trade: Boston sent Jeff Bagwell to Houston for Larry Andersen. Pre Career WS: -63 Post Career WS: 338 Pre Year WS: -10 PostYearWS: -3 WSAB Pre Career: -22 WSAB Post Career: 237 WSAB Pre Yr: -6 WSAB Post Yr: -2 WS Post for Team: 382 WSAB Post for Team: 243
This replaces the other big Houston trade, the Glenn Davis trade, at number two. No matter what Bagwell does in Houston, he won't make up the 100 WSAB difference that separates this from number one.
Date: January 27, 1982 Trade: The Cubs get Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg from the Phils for Ivan DeJesus. Pre Career WS: 80 Post Career WS: 339 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 8 WSAB Pre Career: 14 WSAB Post Career: 196 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 3 WS Post for Team: 328 WSAB Post for Team: 195
Egads, that's what I get for taking another look at this. Sandberg spent the rest of his Hall-of-Fame career in Chicago. This was made worse when Bowa returned as the controversial Phillies manager.
Date: November 29, 1971 Trade: Cincinnati sent Lee May, Tommy Helms, and Jimmy Stewart to the Astros for Jack Billingham, Ed Armbrister, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke, and Joe Morgan. Pre Career WS: 152 Post Career WS: 389 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 33 WSAB Pre Career: 111 WSAB Post Career: 233 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 19 WS Post for Team: 337 WSAB Post for Team: 192
Another young Hall-of-Famer (Morgan) traded for experience.
Date: April 12, 1916 Trade: The Red Sox sent Tris Speaker to Cleveland for Sam Jones, Fred Thomas, and $55K. Pre Career WS: 258 Post Career WS: 114 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 40 WSAB Pre Career: 191 WSAB Post Career: 109 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 31 WS Post for Team: 265 WSAB Post for Team: 186
And people talk about 1918? This is the one that starting the bleeding in Boston. Speaker had just turned 28 at the time. He led the AL In every batting ratio, hits, doubles, and Adjusted OPS in 1916. He played 11 seasons in Cleveland and 13 more in total.
Date: May 6, 1930 Trade: The Yankees get Red Ruffing from the Red Sox for Cedric Durst and $50,000. Pre Career WS: 47 Post Career WS: 262 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 13 WSAB Pre Career: 28 WSAB Post Career: 174 WSAB Pre Yr: 1 WSAB Post Yr: 9 WS Post for Team: 261 WSAB Post for Team: 174
Again, 1918? The Red Sox were up to these shenanigans for decades.
Date: February 25, 1972 Trade: St. Louis sent Steve Carlton to Philadelphia for Rick Wise. Pre Career WS: 12 Post Career WS: 176 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 20 WSAB Pre Career: 10 WSAB Post Career: 141 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 20 WS Post for Team: 245 WSAB Post for Team: 173
Here's one that's near and dear to my heart. Wise was a good pitcher, but Carlton became the anchor of the Phils staff and remained so for another 15 years. And of course he won 27 and a Cy Young for the 59-win 1972 Phils. Wise won 32 games in two years in St. Louis and pitched another 11 in total.
Date: April 12, 1960 Trade: Detroit gets Norm Cash from Cleveland for Steve Demeter. Pre Career WS: 4 Post Career WS: 311 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 16 WSAB Pre Career: 0 WSAB Post Career: 166 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 6 WS Post for Team: 311 WSAB Post for Team: 166
Another young player traded before his prime. Cash had been traded twice that offseason from Chicago to Cleveland prior to this one. Demeter played four games and went 0-for-5 for Detroit and called it a career.
Date: June 15, 1964 Trade: St. Louis gets Lou Brock, Jack Spring, and Paul Toth from the Cubs for Bobby Shantz, Ernie Broglio and Doug Clemens. Pre Career WS: -187 Post Career WS: 298 Pre Year WS: -1 PostYearWS: 9 WSAB Pre Career: -114 WSAB Post Career: 166 WSAB Pre Yr: 4 WSAB Post Yr: 9 WS Post for Team: 300 WSAB Post for Team: 166
Ah, Brock. How many of these guys were traded at age 25? Sheez!
Date: March 30, 1992 Trade: White Sox sent Sammy Sosa and Ken Patterson to the Cubs for George Bell. Pre Career WS: -124 Post Career WS: 266 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: -5 WSAB Pre Career: -70 WSAB Post Career: 160 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: -3 WS Post for Team: 277 WSAB Post for Team: 160
Alas, another couple of years in Chicago and Sammy could have pushed this into the top 5.
Date: December 3, 1969 Trade: Mets sent Amos Otis and Bob Johnson to the Kansas City Royals for Joe Foy. Pre Career WS: -68 Post Career WS: 305 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 29 WSAB Pre Career: -30 WSAB Post Career: 157 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 23 WS Post for Team: 288 WSAB Post for Team: 154
Foy played only 99 games in one season at Shea. Otis played 14 years in KC.
Date: October 19, 1949 Trade: The Philadelphia Athletics sent Nellie Fox to the White Sox for Joe Tipton. Pre Career WS: 0 Post Career WS: 269 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 0 WSAB Pre Career: 0 WSAB Post Career: 152 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 0 WS Post for Team: 268 WSAB Post for Team: 149
The 21-year-old Fox was given 98 games in three seasons in Philly to prove himself. Then he went to Chicago, played 14 years, and became a Hall-of-Famer. Tipton was a backup catcher for three seasons with the A's
Date: December 4, 1974 Trade: Baltimore gets Ken Singleton and Mike Torrez from Montreal for Dave McNally, Rich Coggins, and Bill Kirkpatrick. Pre Career WS: -63 Post Career WS: 327 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 49 WSAB Pre Career: -55 WSAB Post Career: 186 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 36 WS Post for Team: 242 WSAB Post for Team: 147
McNally was 3-6 with a 5.24 ERA in his last year in the majors. Singleton played ten years in Baltimore and was a three-time All-Star. Torrez lasted only one season with the O's before being packaged in the Reggie Jackson trade, but did win twenty games in that season.
Date: June 13, 1938 Trade: Philadelphia sent Bucky Walters to Cincinnati for Spud Davis, Al Hollingsworth,
and $50 K. Pre Career WS: -92 Post Career WS: 129 Pre Year WS: 3 PostYearWS: -1 WSAB Pre Career: -25 WSAB Post Career: 126 WSAB Pre Yr: 1 WSAB Post Yr: 3 WS Post for Team: 190 WSAB Post for Team: 146
Walters pitched for over ten years in Cincy. He won 27 games his first full year and had 23- and 22-win seasons there. Davis played two seasons as the Phils' mostly starting catcher, one was horrific and the other about average. Hollingsworth was 6-25 in parts of two seasons as a Phil.
Date: May 22, 1913 Trade: Cincinnati gets Heinie Groh, Red Ames, Josh Devore, and $20,000 from the Giants for Art Fromme and Eddie Grant. Pre Career WS: 46 Post Career WS: 332 Pre Year WS: 2 PostYearWS: 24 WSAB Pre Career: 35 WSAB Post Career: 190 WSAB Pre Yr: 2 WSAB Post Yr: 10 WS Post for Team: 231 WSAB Post for Team: 146
Groh lasted 9 seasons in Cincinnati and then was traded back to the Giants when his career was about done. Eddie Grant recorded "Electric Avenue"
Date: December 12, 1903 Trade: Cardinals sent Mordecai Brown and Jack O'Neill to the Cubs for Jack Taylor and Larry McLean. Pre Career WS: -93 Post Career WS: 134 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: -4 WSAB Pre Career: -71 WSAB Post Career: 153 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: -7 WS Post for Team: 184 WSAB Post for Team: 143
Another future Hall-of-Famer traded before his prime. Taylor did win 20 for the Cards in his first year but lost 19.
Date: November 10, 1948 Trade: The White Sox sent Aaron Robinson to Detroit for Billy Pierce and $10 K. Pre Career WS: -45 Post Career WS: 214 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: -6 WSAB Pre Career: -11 WSAB Post Career: 146 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: -2 WS Post for Team: 193 WSAB Post for Team: 137
The first year, Pierce was 7-15 and Robinson had a 118 OPS+. Then Pierce lasted 13 years on the South Side and won 20 games twice. Robinson last just one and half sub-par years in Detroit after that.
Date: April 21, 1966 Trade: The Cubs sent Larry Jackson and Bob Buhl to the Phillies for Ferguson, John Herrnstein and Adolfo Phillips. Pre Career WS: -312 Post Career WS: 338 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 5 WSAB Pre Career: -185 WSAB Post Career: 215 WSAB Pre Yr: -1 WSAB Post Yr: -1 WS Post for Team: 191 WSAB Post for Team: 133
Well, there it is. The Phils trade a future Hall of Famer for two starters that were 35 and 37 years old. Jackson would be decent for three years in Philly rotation but Buhl would last just 137.1 innings and win 6 games in slightly over one year with the Phils. After Leo Durocher converted Fergie to a starter, he would win twenty games in six straight seasons starting in 1967.
Date: July 20, 1916 Trade: The Giants sent Christy Mathewson, Bill McKechnie and Edd Roush to the Cincinnati Reds for Buck Herzog and Red Killefer. Pre Career WS: 342 Post Career WS: 259 Pre Year WS: -5 PostYearWS: 2 WSAB Pre Career: 303 WSAB Post Career: 142 WSAB Pre Yr: -5 WSAB Post Yr: -4 WS Post for Team: 227 WSAB Post for Team: 131
This is a less famous Mathewson trade though it's not often you see three Hall-of-Famers traded at once. Roush was the big performer here.
Date: November 18, 1997 Trade: Tampa Bay sent Bobby Abreu to Philadelphia for Kevin Stocker. Pre Career WS: -46 Post Career WS: 141 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 21 WSAB Pre Career: -4 WSAB Post Career: 126 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 16 WS Post for Team: 182 WSAB Post for Team: 126
Abreu had the honor of being a Devil Ray for one day as he was taken in the sixth round of the expansion draft from the Astros. He has had seven great seasons in Philly. Another two or three could put this trade in the top 10. Stocker played three season in Tampa but never in more than 112 games in any season.
Date: June 15, 1976 Trade: The Yankees sent Scott McGregor, Rick Dempsey, Tippy Martinez, Rudy May, and Dave Pagan to Baltimore for Ken Holtzman, Doyle Alexander, Grant Jackson, Ellie Hendricks, and Jimmy Freeman. Pre Career WS: -198 Post Career WS: 197 Pre Year WS: -3 PostYearWS: -7 WSAB Pre Career: -84 WSAB Post Career: 54 WSAB Pre Yr: -3 WSAB Post Yr: -4 WS Post for Team: 322 WSAB Post for Team: 124
McGregor lasted 13 years and won 138 games in Baltimore. Dempsey was the O's starting catcher for eleven years. Martinez spent eleven years in the Baltimore pen. May won 29 games in a season and half as an Oriole.
As Yankees, Alexander was 1-9 and Holtzman was a bust. Jackson was great for his half-season in NY (202 Adjust ERA and 6-0 record) but was taken by the M's in the expansion draft. Hendricks played 26 games as backup catcher and future bullpen coach, and Freeman never played in the majors again.
Date: January 14, 1963 Trade: The White Sox sent Luis Aparicio and Al Smith to Baltimore for Hoyt Wilhelm, Dave Nicholson, Pete Ward, and Ron Hansen. Pre Career WS: -113 Post Career WS: 184 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 45 WSAB Pre Career: -32 WSAB Post Career: 108 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 30 WS Post for Team: 217 WSAB Post for Team: 124
The O's got five years of Aparicio's career during his prime, but they were nowhere near as good as Wilhelm's six in Chicago, during which he had only one season with an ERA over 2.00 and that year it was 2.64. Ward had a good but short career (eight more seasons) with Chicago. Hansen was a shortstop who hit 44 home runs over the next three seasons, twenty in the second season. Even Nicholson hit 22 home runs the next season before quickly fading from the scene. Smith lasted one year in Baltimore and then ran for president.
Date: October 12, 1966 Trade: Pittsburgh sent Wilbur Wood to the White Sox for a player to be named later (Juan Pizarro). Pre Career WS: -88 Post Career WS: 153 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 2 WSAB Pre Career: -46 WSAB Post Career: 117 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 2 WS Post for Team: 177 WSAB Post for Team: 121
The Chisox again? Wood pitched 12 seasons, won twenty games four years straight, and reportedly pitched both ends of every doubleheader the Sox played during that period. Pizzaro last 118 innings and a year and one half in Pittsburgh.
Date: December 14, 1948 Trade: Cleveland gets Mickey Vernon and Early Wynn from Washington for Ed Klieman, Joe Haynes, and Eddie Robinson. Pre Career WS: 46 Post Career WS: 307 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 7 WSAB Pre Career: 38 WSAB Post Career: 197 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 5 WS Post for Team: 169 WSAB Post for Team: 121
Vernon lasted a little over one year in Cleveland before returning to the Senators, but Wynn pitched nin years and won twenty games four times. Klieman pitched just two games in DC. Haynes was 10-21 in four seasons as a Sentor and had 6.26 and 5.84 ERAs his first two years. Robinson last a little over one season though that season was pretty good. Then he became the coach at Grambling for the next fifty-odd years.
Date: December 15, 1920 Trade: The Red Sox sent Waite Hoyt, Harry Harper, Mike McNally, and Wally Schang to the Yankees for Muddy Ruel, Del Pratt, Sammy Vick, and Hank Thormahlen. Pre Career WS: -177 Post Career WS: 254 Pre Year WS: 0 PostYearWS: 14 WSAB Pre Career: -93 WSAB Post Career: 152 WSAB Pre Yr: 0 WSAB Post Yr: 19 WS Post for Team: 186 WSAB Post for Team: 118
Hoyt pitched for a decade in NY and became a Hall-of-Famer. Schang caught for five years with the Yanks. Pratt and Ruel each played just two seasons in Boston. Thormahlen was 1-7 as a Red Sock.