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The Zolios, Continued
2004-11-19 00:29
by Mike Carminati

Part I

Here are just a few notes on the Zolio award winners before we go on to the other categories:

Earl Torgeson a.k.a. "The Earl Of Snohomish" (succeeding Earl Averill with the title, both being natives of Snohomish, WA), who topped the single-season list, was a good-hitting first baseman for years. However, he hurt his left shoulder blocking Jackie Robinson on a doubleplay ball on May 14, 1949 and was out for the rest of the season. After playing just 25 games that year, he still got two points in the MVP vote. The voter(s) must have been thinking about his .389 average in the 1949 Series.

Bobby Malkmus was a weak-hitting (.231/.276/.327), 29-year-old second baseman with seemingly very good range for the Phils in 1961, his only year as a starter. He received one vote in the 1961 NL MVP vote and proceeded to play just one more major-league game.

Elston Howard was tied for second in the single-season list in 1967. He was traded from the Yankees to the Red Sox on August 3 that year, and batted under .200 for each team (.196 with New York and .147 with the Red Sox), but he was credited with helping settle the Red Sox staff and was rewarded with a whopping 7 points in the AL MVP vote.

36-year-old Joe Cronin was a player-manager for the Red Sox in 1943, playing in just 59 games and registering 77 at-bats (though his adjusted OPS was 76% better than average). However, his votes came mostly from one day of the season. On June 17 Cronin hit two three-run pinch-hit home runs, one per each game of a double-header that the Sox wplit with the Browns. He ended up with five pinch-hit home runs, an AL record, for the season. That was enough to garner him 3 points in the MVP vote.

Eddie Yuhas, second on the career list, was not "the rebel" in a Johnny Cash song, but rather a one-year wonder with the Cardinals in 1952. He went 12-2 with a 2.72 ERA (37% better than the park-adjusted league average) in 99.1 innings. He finished 31 games, six of which for posthumous saves. He received 5 points in the NL MVP vote in 1952 but due to injuries only pitched one more major-league inning.

Roy Schalk, not to be confused with Hall-of-Fame catcher Ray Schalk, was second baseman who was pressed into major-league duty because of World War II. In 1932, as a 23-year-old, he has a cup o' joe with the Yanks. Twelve years later he made it back to the majors as the White Sox starting second sacker. He lasted two seasons registering awful offensive seasons even for war-time ball (his OPS was 45% and 25% worse than the adjusted league average in those two years). He lead AL second basemen in RBI (65, eighth overall) and led the league in bunts (24) in '45 and was rewarded with an incredible 13 points in the 1945 AL MVP race. He never played another major-league game. When the real players came back, he was gone.

Jose Valdivielso, the best name on the career list, was a prototypical good-fielding/weak-hitting (OPS+ of 55) shortstop for the old Senators/Twins from 1955-1961. He never played more than 117 games or collected more than 294 at-bats in a season, and his claim to fame was that a Rocky Colavito grounder in the eluded him for the only hit a no-hit bid for Pedro Ramos on July 19, 1960. In his rookie year, he played just 94 games (294 ABs) and had an OPS 34% worse than the park-adjusted league average but showed great range (his range factor was 5.07 to the league's 4.04 average at short). His reward was one point in the 1955 AL MVP vote.

Blondy Ryan in 1933 was a rookie called up to replace injured Travis Jackson at short, who had the cajones to send a telegram to Giant manager Bill Terry reading, "We can't lose now. Am en route!" The Giants did win the pennant and Ryan was an on-field mascot. His exuberance made Jose Lima seem tame. He wasn't much with the bat, however, (59 OPS+ and finishing third in the AL in strikeouts), and he committed 42 errors at short. But he still picked up 19 points in the MVP vote that year.

Then there's the legendary Creepy Crespi (real name Frank Angelo Joseph Crespi, that is creepy). Crespi was good-looking young second baseman for the Cards right before World War II. However, his career ended with just a season and a half under his belt after he injured his leg playing army ball. He got 13 MVP points as a rookie in 1941.

Mookie Wilson received his sole MVP vote in 1989 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, not the Mets, oddly enough. He played only 54 games for the Jays that year after an August 1 trade from the Metsgoes. But he hit .298 in those games (94 OPS+) and scored the teams' division-clinching run (just their second division crown at the time). The Blue Jays went 37-20 under Wilson's "leadership" and went from three games back on July 31 to two games up at the end of the season. Ergo, someone gave Wilson his one vote the next fall.

As for the OPS "leader", Sam "Slam" Agnew, he actually was not a presidential candidate in the Fifties. He was a prototypical no-hit, no-field catcher for the hapless Browns in the Teens. His career adjusted OPS was just 56 and he committed 39 errors (mostly due to his throwing) and 17 passed balls in 1915 for a miraculously low—for a catcher—fielding percentage of .934. Somehow he managed two points in the 1914 AL MVP vote.

Roxie Lawson, the ERA leader (or trailer), was a journeyman pitcher who had one Steve Stone-like season in 1937 winning 18, third in the league,—his next highest single-season win total was 8—despite a 5.26 ERA which was 11% worse than the park-adjusted league average. He was rewarded with four points in the AL MVP vote. He was also one of the ten players in the Bobo Newsom trade from the Browns to the Tigers in 1939.

The Vuckoviches

[Named for Pete Vuckovich]

Now, let's look at the worst Cy Young award candidates. You'll notice that the quality goes up quiet a bit from the MVP vote getters. I guess being able to vote for just three candidates eliminates a great deal of the eccentric choices. It also doesn’t hurt that the award started in the Sixties as opposed to the 1910s.

OK, here are the worst based on career Win Shares:

NameFirstLastPts1stMax PtsWinShares
Francisco Rodriguez200420041014024
Brad Lidge200420041016025
Jeff Ballard198919893014026
Buzz Capra197419741012032
Craig McMurtry198319833012032
Joe Nathan200420041014034
Jerry Johnson197119712012035
Marvin Freeman199419944014035
Mark Prior2003200360216036
Mark Fidrych1976197651512036
Tommy Greene199319932014037
Ben Sheets200420041016038
Luke Walker197019701012040
Ron Bryant1973197350312041
Carlos Zambrano200420048016041
Pete Schourek1995199555014045
Rawly Eastwick197619766012049
Carl Pavano200420046016049
Mike Norris19801980911314054
Wayne Garland197619761012055
Bill Stoneman197119711012056
Johan Santana200320041014057
Mike Bielecki198919891012057
Jose Lima199919993016058
Wayne Granger197019703012058
Steve McCatty1981198184614059
Joe Magrane198919897012061
Roy Oswalt200120029032064
Bill Caudill198219824014064
Jarrod Washburn200220021014065
Donnie Moore198519852014065
Eric Gagne200220041542832069
Al Holland198319834012069
Joe Sambito198019801012069
Larry McWilliams198319837012069

There are a lot of young pitchers on there. I never realized that Buzz Capra, the old Brave mop-up man, was ever on the ballot.

Here now are the singe-season "leaders":

NameYrPts1stMax PtsWinShares
Rod Beck1994101407
John Franco1994201408
Lee Smith1994101408
Dave Giusti1974101209
Jack Billingham1974801209
Pete Vuckovich1981801409
Ron Guidry19812014010
Todd Jones20003014010
Al Hrabosky19749012011
Charles Nagy19951014011
Todd Worrell19964014011
Britt Burns19812014012
Clay Carroll19742012012
Dave Giusti19731012012
Dennis Martinez19813014012
Fred Norman19733012012
Jeff Reardon19874014012
Jerry Johnson19712012012
John Wetteland19993014012
Ken Hill199456014012
Lee Smith19923012012
Mitch Williams19891012012
Nolan Ryan19831012012
Rich Gossage19813014012
Sid Fernandez19861012012
Tommy John19781012012
Aaron Sele19994014013
Billy Pierce1962112013
Bruce Sutter19811012013
Clay Carroll19726012013
Doug Drabek19944014013
Dwight Gooden19908012013
Jeff Reardon19851012013
Larry Gura19811014013
Marvin Freeman19944014013
Mike Mussina19965014013
Pete Vuckovich1982871414013
Ramon Martinez19958014013
Rick Reuschel19893012013

And Pete Vuckovich graciously makes an appearance.

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