Now that we've looked at the biggest deals at the trade deadline based on the names involved, I would like to turn next to the most lopsided deadline trades. Which trades did the most to help a team's performance? And was that reflected in the standings?
The trade deadline has become its own little media event with "hot stove"-type speculation as to which teams are selling, which ones are buying, what big name soon-to-be free agents are switching teams for a stretch run, and what young players will they have to give up. My question is, is it a lot of ado about not a whole lot? Do deadline deals do anything more than offload big contracts in time to try out youngstersusually sub-par ones anyway, but I digressfor next season? Who invented liquid soap and why? Yes, all these and yet other questions will be answered in today's episode.
For each trade I have looked at how much each team gave up and what it received in a sort of credit/debit ledger (quantified by Win Shares). For this study, I am just looking at how the players concerned performed in the given season since the intent of the trade deadline deal is to help the team (or teams) bulk up for a stretch run.
I have ranked the trades for each team ledger entry by this Win Shares differential and have divided them up into two groups, one per deadline date (i.e., pre-1986 the majors used June 15 as the deadline, and since then, July 31).
Also, the situation of each team at the time of the trade and at the end of the season will be listed in order to determine if the trade made an impact in the standings.
Here are the most lopsided June 15 trade deadline pickups. You'll notice a trend developing:
#1) June 4, 1953: The Pirates trade Ralph Kiner, Joe Garagiola, Catfish Metkovich, and Howie Pollet to the Cubs for Toby Atwell, Bob Schultz, Preston Ward, George Freese, Bob Addis, Gene Hermanski, and $150 K
Career Win Shares prior to trade: 344
Above Baseline: 196
Career Win Shares following trade: 25
Above Baseline: 20
Win Shares prior to trade for that season: 8
Above Baseline: 3
Win Shares following trade for that season: 23
Above Baseline: 11
Total Win Shares ahead for the season: 31
The infamous "we finished last with you, we can finish last without you", and the Pirates did. But did the Cubs make out that great with Kiner?
The Cubs were in last place at the time of the trade with a 12-27 record and .308 winning percentage, 14 games out of first. The Pirates were in sixth with a 16-28 record (.364), 12/5 games out.
At season's end, the Cubs managed to leapfrog over the Pirates finishing seventh with a 65-89 record (.422), 40 games out. They were 53-62 (.461) after the trade. The Pirates ended up with a pathetic 50-104 (.364), 55 games out. Pittsburgh was 34-76 (.309) after the trade.
The Cubs improved by about 150 percentage points after the trade. The Pirates declined by over fifty. The Cubs came out 23 Win Shares ahead in the deal and 31 for the season. And yet the Cubs were in no position to challenge for a pennant.
#2) June 15, 1957: The Yankees trade Billy Martin, Woodie Held, Bob Martyn, and Ralph Terry to the Kansas City Athletics for Ryne Duren, Jim Pisoni, and Harry Simpson.
Career Win Shares prior to trade: -11
Above Baseline: -2
Career Win Shares following trade: 236
Above Baseline: 97
Win Shares prior to trade for that season: -3
Above Baseline: 0
Win Shares following trade for that season: 20
Above Baseline: 4
Total Win Shares ahead for the season: 17
The Yankees dumped Billy Martin on their Quad-A affiliate, the KC A's, following the infamous Copacabana affair. They also let go a 21-year-old Ralph Terry, who they would later re-promote to the Bronx, and two Yankee scrubs who were starters in Kansas City.
Duren and Pisoni didn't play for the Yankees that year. Harry "Suitcase" Simpson was coming off of a career year with the A's (21 HR, 105 RBI, .293/.347.490, 120 OPS+). He started off just as hot in 1957 (129 OPS+ with KC) bit cooled considerably with the Yankees (.250/.307/.402, 95 OPS+).
So did the trade hurt the Yanks? Ah, no. At the time of the trade they were in second place, three games behind the White Sox (32-22, .593). At the end of the year, of course, the Yankees owned the AL pennant, 8 games ahead of second-place Chicago (98-56, .636) and lost the World Series to Milwaukee in seven games.
The A's were in seventh, 12.5 games out at the time of the trade (23-32, .418). The finished the year still in seventh, 38.5 games out (59-94, .386).
The Yankees were 66-34, .660 after trade, improving by over 60 percentage points. The A's were 36-62, .367 after the trade. Their winning percentage dropped by over 50 points.
The Yankees were just that good. The A's got more out of their players, but it didn't matter.
#3) June 13, 1953: The Browns traded Virgil Trucks and Bob Elliott to the White Sox for Darrell Johnson, Lou Kretlow, and $75K.
Career Win Shares prior to trade: 393
Above Baseline: 200
Career Win Shares following trade: 60
Above Baseline: 39
Win Shares prior to trade for that season: 14
Above Baseline: 8
Win Shares following trade for that season: 19
Above Baseline: 12
Total Win Shares ahead for the season: 33