Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
Monthly archives: September 2006


The Bitter Half?
2006-09-26 19:05
by Mike Carminati

At the start of July the world champion White Sox were battling the Tigers for the best record in baseball. On July 2, as the Sox played their 81st game, an 8-1 loss to Baltimore, they were 2-1/2 games behind Detroit with a 53-28 record and a .654 winning percentage. They were on track to win 106 games which would have been the most wins for a second-place team ever (if the Tigers won their projected 112 games).

The Twins were ten full games behind Detroit for first and 7-1/2 behind Chicago for second. They were fourth behind Chicago,1-1/2 games behind the Yankees (six games back of the Sox) and a half-game behind the Blue Jays (7 GB) at the bare fringes of the wild card hunt. Meanwhile in the NL wild card hunt the current co-leaders were in fourth (the Dodgers, 2.5 GB) and eighth place (the Phils, 6.5 GB).

Things are, of course, much different today. The Twins and Yankees now have playoffs spots locked up. The Red Sox, who were leading the AL East by four games, have fallen to third. The Phils and Dodgers have supplanted the then-wild card leader, the Reds. And, of course, the White Sox have been eliminated from the post season after a 14-1 loss coupled with an 8-1 Twins win yesterday.

The Sox's record so far in the second half is 34-42, .447. Their winning percentage decreased by 207 points in the second half. It's among the worst declines in baseball history. The Red Sox are not far behind, losing 183 points from their first half winning percentage (from 50-31, .617 in the first half to 33-43, .434 in the second), good enough for 39th on the all-time list.

1890Philadelphia AthleticsAA5478189007134125.6211253.185-.437
1873Philadelphia WhitesNA361718730703233.8851314.481-.403
1879Chicago White StockingsNL463318790722319.7751524.385-.390
1875St. Louis Brown StockingsNA392918750721268.7651321.382-.382
1889Cleveland SpidersNL6172188907134026.6062146.313-.293
1872Troy HaymakersNA15101872051893.75067.462-.288
1871Fort Wayne KekiongasNA7121871070155.50027.222-.278
1885Providence GraysNL5357188507183421.6181936.345-.273
1977Chicago CubsNL8181197707095130.6303051.370-.259
1883Cleveland BluesNL5542188307123315.6882227.449-.239
1888Detroit WolverinesNL6863188807194224.6362639.400-.236
2005Washington NationalsNL8181200507035031.6173150.383-.235
1949Washington SenatorsAL50104194907153443.4421661.208-.234
1909Cleveland NapsAL7182190907154432.5792750.351-.228
1875Chicago White StockingsNA3037187507231915.5591122.333-.225
1983California AngelsAL7092198307104437.5432655.321-.222
1911Detroit TigersAL8965191107125324.6883641.468-.221
1941Cleveland IndiansAL7579194107064631.5972948.377-.221
1901New York GiantsNL5285190107243335.4851850.265-.221
1913Philadelphia AthleticsAL9657191307115620.7374037.519-.217
2004Milwaukee BrewersNL6794200407054238.5252556.309-.216
1897Cincinnati RedsNL7656189707184521.6823135.470-.212
Chicago White SoxAL8770200607025328.6543442.447-.207
1877St. Louis Brown StockingsNL2832187707181713.5671119.367-.200

As for the best improvement in the second half this year, the Angels lead the pack with a 183-point improvement followed by, surprisingly, the Pirates (173) and not so surprisingly, the Phils (143). They aren't enough to make the 25 best second-half improvements, however:

YrTmLgWLEnd of 1st Half1H-W1H-L1H-PCT2H-W2H-L2H-PCTPCT Diff
1884St. Paul ApostlesUA261884100304.00022.500.500
1872Washington OlympicsNA271872050704.00023.400.400
1873New York MutualsNA292418730715917.346207.741.395
1914Boston BravesNL9459191407153343.4346116.792.358
1884Altoona Mountain CityUA61918840510111.08358.385.301
1994Oakland AthleticsAL5163199406071740.2983423.596.298
1898Louisville ColonelsNL7081189807152452.3164629.613.298
2001Oakland AthleticsAL10260200107023942.4816318.778.296
1874New York MutualsNA4223187407141616.500267.788.288
1918Cincinnati RedsNL6860191807042539.3914321.672.281
1891Milwaukee BrewersAA211518910912810.444135.722.278
1935St. Louis BrownsAL6587193507152254.2894333.566.276
1997Philadelphia PhilliesNL6894199707022358.2844536.556.272
1871Boston Red StockingsNA20101871071087.533123.800.267
1881Providence GraysNL4737188107161824.4292913.690.262
1887Philadelphia QuakersNL7548188707153032.4844516.738.254
1936Brooklyn DodgersNL6787193607102453.3124334.558.247
1927Cincinnati RedsNL7578192707082848.3684730.610.242
1915Boston BravesNL8369191507133343.4345026.658.224
1907St. Louis CardinalsNL52101190707091759.2243443.442.218
1996Boston Red SoxAL8577199607023447.4205130.630.210
1995New York MetsNL6975199507152745.3754230.583.208
1941St. Louis BrownsAL7084194107132750.3514334.558.208
1901Philadelphia AthleticsAL7462190107203038.4414424.647.206
1986Oakland AthleticsAL7686198607043051.3704635.568.198
2000Houston AstrosNL7290200007022853.3464437.543.198
2004Atlanta BravesNL9666200407044041.4945625.691.198

By the way, if the Astros fall short in their pursuit of the NL Central or the wild card crown, both of which seem like long shots, with the White Sox already eliminated this would be the first season since 1991 that both World Series teams from the previous year woulc not be part of the postseason (ignoring 1993-94 when the Blue Jays and Phils did not have an opportunity to defend their league championships). It would the 40th time that both have missed the next season's playoffs, though it's gotten much rarer as the number of playoff teams have expanded during divisional play.

The Sox and 'Stros will at least avoid being one of six World Series pairs to have losing records the next season. Here is the worst winning percentages for the two teams who met in the previous year's Series (Houston/Chicago have a collective .527 winning percentage as of this morning):

SeriesWS WinnerWLWS LoserWLBoth under .500?Tot WTot LPCT
1914Boston Braves8369Philadelphia Athletics43109N126178.414
1890Brooklyn Grooms6176Louisville Colonels5584Y116160.420
1884Providence Grays5357New York Metropolitans4464Y97121.445
1966Baltimore Orioles7685Los Angeles Dodgers7389Y149174.461
1993Toronto Blue Jays5560Philadelphia Phillies5461Y109121.474
1985Kansas City Royals7686St. Louis Cardinals7982Y155168.480
1964St. Louis Cardinals8081New York Yankees7785Y157166.486
1990Cincinnati Reds7488Oakland Athletics8478N158166.488
1918Boston Red Sox6671Chicago Cubs7565N141136.509
1982St. Louis Cardinals7983Milwaukee Brewers8775N166158.512
1983Baltimore Orioles8577Philadelphia Phillies8181N166158.512
1981Los Angeles Dodgers8874New York Yankees7983N167157.515
1987Minnesota Twins9171St. Louis Cardinals7686N167157.515

By the way, the best records for Series teams that both missed the playoffs the next season are:

YrWinnerWLLoserWLBoth under .500?Tot WTot LPCT
1953New York Yankees10351Brooklyn Dodgers9262N195113.633
1905New York Giants9656Philadelphia Athletics7867N174123.586
1932New York Yankees9159Chicago Cubs8668N177127.582
1919Cincinnati Reds8271Chicago White Sox9658N178129.580
1947New York Yankees9460Brooklyn Dodgers8470N178130.578
1944St. Louis Cardinals9559St. Louis Browns8170N176129.577
1945Detroit Tigers9262Chicago Cubs8271N174133.567
1979Pittsburgh Pirates8379Baltimore Orioles10062N183141.565
1954New York Giants8074Cleveland Indians9361N173135.562
1909Pittsburgh Pirates8667Detroit Tigers8668N172135.560
1920Cleveland Indians9460Brooklyn Robins7775N171135.559
1946St. Louis Cardinals8965Boston Red Sox8371N172136.558
1935Detroit Tigers8371Chicago Cubs8767N170138.552

And yes, the 1954 Yankees and Dodgers both lost the league titles, to the Indians and Giants, respectively.

Waiting to Digest
2006-09-25 19:36
by Mike Carminati
Now good digestion wait on appetite,
And health on both!

—William "Author" Shakespeare, MacBeth

The Phils are battling the Astros, losing 5-4 right now. If they win, they would go a full game up on the Dodgers for the wild card lead. They would also officially eliminate the reeling Marlins and Giants, and all but eliminate the Astros and Reds. With six games against the lamb duck Joe Girardi's Marlins (whom they just swept) and the last-place Nats—while the Dodgers play the at least mediocre Giants and Rockies—, the Phils would look pretty secure If they lose, they fall back into a tie with LA, and four other teams would still be active.

No matter whether the Phils win the wild card or not, they have already done something that only a handful of teams have done. They will be one of twelve teams to have grabbed a lead for a league, division, or wild card for the first time in September—though as a Phils fan, I would rather have them clinch a playoff spot.

By grabbing the wild card lead on September 23, the Phils become the fourth latest team to grab a playoff spot (if you count the 8-4 Milwaukee Unions in 1884). Here are the latest:

YrTmLgDays in PO spotFirstMonDayLastWLPCTWon Div?Won WC?Won Lg?Won WS?POSGBGA
1873Boston Red StockingsNA21187310011001187311014316.729 Y 104
1964St. Louis CardinalsNL6196409290929196410049369.574 YY101
1884Milwaukee BrewersUA31884092709271884092984.667 N 2360
1949Boston Red SoxAL7194909250925194910019658.623 NN210
2006Philadelphia PhilliesNL 200609230923
1944Detroit TigersAL14194409170917194409308866.571 NN210
1942St. Louis CardinalsNL161942091209121942092710648.688 YY102
1972Boston Red SoxAL24197209070907197210018570.548N NN20.50
1965San Francisco GiantsNL21196509070907196509279567.586 NN220
1928Philadelphia AthleticsAL2192809070907192809089855.641 NN22.50
1883Boston BeaneatersNL19188309040904188309306335.643 Y 104
1889Brooklyn BridegroomsAA41188909010901188910159344.679 YN102
The Long and the Short of It
2006-09-25 18:36
by Mike Carminati

Yesterday with the Nats winning 5-1 in the bottom of the ninth Saul Rivera replaced John Rauch to pitch a scoreless inning and put the Washington win in the books. There was nothing unusual in that, except that Rivera (5'11") is a full foot shorter than Rauch (6'11").

I wouldn't have noticed except for a mention in the SABR-L email list. So I looked it up.

Here are all the teammates who were at least a foot apart in height. For all but the last four, at least one pitcher had one relief appearance. The earliest short-tall pair may have been Gene Krapp and the ubiquitous Cy Falkenberg in 1911. The greatest height difference between two pitchers who were teammates was 14 inches:

YrTmPitcher1Ht (Inches)GPGSRAPitcher2Ht (Inches)GPGSRAHt DiffRATot
1911Cleveland NapsGene Krapp6535269Cy Falkenberg77151321211
1950Washington SenatorsCarlos Pascual66220Jim Pearce78203171217
1955Kansas City AthleticsBobby Shantz6623176Ewell Blackwell78202128
1964Philadelphia PhilliesBobby Shantz6614014Gary Kroll782021216
1989Montreal ExposSteve Frey6920020Randy Johnson827611321
1991Chicago CubsDoug Dascenzo68303Bob Scanlan804013271230
1991Seattle MarinersScott Bankhead701798Randy Johnson8233330128
1992New York MetsJohn Franco7031031Eric Hillman8211831234
1993New York MetsJohn Franco7035035Eric Hillman82272251240
1993Seattle MarinersMike Hampton7013310Randy Johnson82353411211
1993Seattle MarinersJim Converse69440Randy Johnson8235341131
1994New York MetsJohn Franco7047047Eric Hillman8211651252
1994Seattle MarinersJim Converse691385Randy Johnson8223230135
1995Seattle MarinersSteve Frey6913013Randy Johnson82303001313
1995Seattle MarinersJim Converse69615Randy Johnson8230300135
1996Kansas City RoyalsKenny Robinson67505Bob Scanlan809091314
1998Houston AstrosBilly Wagner7058058Randy Johnson82111101258
2002Chicago White SoxAntonio Osuna7159059Jon Rauch838621261
2002Milwaukee BrewersTakahito Nomura6721021Ben Diggins795501221
2002Chicago White SoxJim Parque71844Jon Rauch83862126
2004Chicago White SoxCliff Politte7154054Jon Rauch832201254
2004Arizona DiamondbacksShane Nance6819019Randy Johnson82353501419
2004Montreal ExposRoy Corcoran70505Jon Rauch839271312
2004Chicago White SoxArnie Munoz6911110Jon Rauch832201410
2004Montreal ExposRigo Beltran71202Jon Rauch83927129
2004Texas RangersMichael Tejera69606Chris Young82770136
2004Chicago White SoxVic Darensbourg70202Jon Rauch83220132
2005New York YankeesTom Gordon6979079Randy Johnson82343401379
2005Washington NationalsAntonio Osuna71404Jon Rauch83151141218
2005Texas RangersMichael Tejera69303Chris Young8231310133
1893Chicago ColtsSam Shaw65220Gus Yost77110120
1989Seattle MarinersScott Bankhead7033330Randy Johnson8222220120
1990Seattle MarinersScott Bankhead70440Randy Johnson8233330120
1998Houston AstrosMike Hampton7032320Randy Johnson8211110120
Was Neil Young Right?
2006-09-21 21:34
by Mike Carminati

OR…Does Rust Never Sleep?

OR…Is it better to burn out than to fade away? (Now watch me pull this rabbit out of my hat!)

As promised, I will now take a look at how clinching a division or league title either very early or very late affects a team's prospects for the playoffs. Do teams that clinch earlier have an advantage in the playoffs and World Series? Does the extra time to rest one's starting players and set one's rotation give a team an advantage when the playoffs roll around or does it make the team rusty?

But before we can examine those issues we need to define what we need by clinching late and clinching early. I took all of the division and league winners, calculated the number of games remaining after they clinched their title, and then divided them into three groups, the early, late, and average clinchers. The early clinchers had 8 games or more remaining when they nabbed their title (120 teams). Late clinchers had three or fewer games remaining (130 teams). The ones in between fell into the average rubric (97 teams).

Now that we have our groups, let's see what they look like. What are their stats on average:

Clinch TypeAvg PCT Avg W Avg L PCT Avg GA Games Remaining
Early.647 98.23 54.11 .645 12.18 11.91
Avg.611 89.60 58.48 .605 5.81 5.43
Late.606 90.86 60.31 .601 2.82 1.48
Overall.622 93.05 57.66 .617 6.88 6.18

No big surprises here. Teams that clinch earlier have better records (whether you look at their average winning percentage or the percentage of games that were won…po-tA-to, po-tat-o) and are more games ahead (GA) of their next best opponent. But it is surprising that the overall average is much better than the late clinchers as a group and slightly better than the average clicher.

Next let's look at the raw numbers for division/league titles, World Series won, number of teams, and percentage of teams that won a World Series:
Clinch Type#TmsWon Div?Won Lg?Won WS?%

It looks like average clinchers have ended up winning the Series at almost the same rate as early clinchers. Of course, late clinchers win a bit less frequently.

Finally, let's look at what teams do after they clinch. I summed the number of regular-season and post-season games won and lost for each group. Here are the results:

Clinch TypeWAfterLAfterPCTPostWPostLPCT

You can see that teams win much less frequently after they clinch a title than before they clinched. This seems like human nature. Also, the dropoffs get considerably worse the later a team clinchers. Early clinchers winning percentage after clinching is just 69 points worse than their overall winning percentage. Average clinchers have a 100-point difference, and late clinchers, 131.

So early clinchers are the best teams, they continually to be the best teams after they clinch as well. Does that mean that they have the best winning percentage in the postseason as well? Ah, no.

The average clinchers are actually slightly better (.524 to .521), and late clinchers lag far behind (.454). So what does it all mean?

It seems that the rust never sleeps theory does apply. Too much idle time even for seemingly a better population of teams based on the overall and the post-clinching winning percentage is a bad thing when it comes to the postseason.

It also means that those teams that are in dogfights until the last weekend of the season are at a distinct disadvantage in the postseason.

But I guess it does make sense if you consider a few things. Teams that have some time to rest starting players and set their rotation (average clinchers) have an advantage over those that just squeak into the postseason. However, too much time starts to become a disadvantage apparently because the added rest and lineup/rotation setting is minimal after a certain point and the rust factor, i.e., playing long stretches of games that no longer really matter starts to wear on a team at least ever so slightly. And that's even as those teams are continuing to win, which is the odd part. I guess the fact that all teams naturally decline slightly after clinching, even though the early clinchers decline the least, they do have the longest period in decline.

Neil Young was not only prescient when it comes to grunge and post-grunge rock (though that vocoder never took off), he knew his postseason baseball as well. Hey Hey, My My!

Score Four
2006-09-20 22:28
by Mike Carminati

The Dodgers, you may have heard, hit four consecutive home runs the other day. It was the first time that any team had hit four straight since 1964 and only the fourth time all time. Any home run record in which Marlon Anderson is involved is definitely an oddity.

I was wondering what the odds were of those four players hitting four consecutive home runs. I looked up the home runs and plate appearances for each, took their home run ratio (HR/PA), and then found the product of all four to get the odds for this odd event. Here goes:

Jeff Kent 14434 0.032
J.D. Drew17555 0.031
Russell Martin 10430 0.023
Marlon Anderson537 0.135
Odds 0.0000031
1 in… 322,037

One out of three hundred odd thousand seems pretty unlikely, which makes one wonder how it ever happens at all. So I looked up the teams with the best odds to do it all-time, assuming that the four players with the highest homer ratios all batted back-to-back:

Odds (1 in) YrTmPlayer1 HRratio Player2 HRratio Player3 HRratio Player4 HRratio
5,251 1998CHNOrlando Merced 0.083 Sammy Sosa 0.091 Derrick White 0.100 Jason Maxwell 0.250
6,677 1998CHNHenry Rodriguez 0.066 Sammy Sosa 0.091 Derrick White 0.100 Jason Maxwell 0.250
7,324 1998CHNHenry Rodriguez 0.066 Orlando Merced 0.083 Derrick White 0.100 Jason Maxwell 0.250
8,012 1998CHNHenry Rodriguez 0.066 Orlando Merced 0.083 Sammy Sosa 0.091 Jason Maxwell 0.250
8,910 1987SFNDon Robinson 0.091 Jim Gott 0.100 Jessie Reid 0.111 Rob Wilfong 0.111
8,910 1987SFNDon Robinson 0.091 Jim Gott 0.100 Rob Wilfong 0.111 Jessie Reid 0.111
10,560 1973ATLDavey Johnson 0.066 Norm Miller 0.083 Hank Aaron 0.086 Gary Neibauer 0.200
14,551 1995CLEPaul Sorrento 0.066 Albert Belle 0.079 Brian Giles 0.111 Billy Ripken 0.118
20,030 1998CHNHenry Rodriguez 0.066 Orlando Merced 0.083 Sammy Sosa 0.091 Derrick White 0.100
21,810 2000LANGary Sheffield 0.070 Ismael Valdez 0.077 Bruce Aven 0.087 Chris Donnels 0.098
22,539 2000LANTodd Hundley 0.068 Ismael Valdez 0.077 Bruce Aven 0.087 Chris Donnels 0.098
23,303 1961NYAJohnny Blanchard 0.076 Bob Hale 0.077 Mickey Mantle 0.084 Roger Maris 0.087
24,676 2000LANTodd Hundley 0.068 Gary Sheffield 0.070 Bruce Aven 0.087 Chris Donnels 0.098
27,894 2000LANTodd Hundley 0.068 Gary Sheffield 0.070 Ismael Valdez 0.077 Chris Donnels 0.098
31,296 2000LANTodd Hundley 0.068 Gary Sheffield 0.070 Ismael Valdez 0.077 Bruce Aven 0.087
31,459 2000HOUJeff Bagwell 0.065 Richard Hidalgo 0.068 Daryle Ward 0.071 Keith Ginter 0.100

Jason Maxwell? Orlando Merced? Keith Ginter? Again I repeat, how did any team ever hit four straight homers? Next time I'll ask Mr. Owl.

In The Clinch
2006-09-19 22:25
by Mike Carminati

So the Mets finally clinched the NL East title yesterday after three unsuccessful tries against the lowly Pirates. Even so, the Mets nabbed a playoff spot earlier than any other team, with 13 games left to play.

That made me wonder what team was the earliest to clinch a division or league crown. I looked it up and below are the results. The Mets are actually tied with eleven other teams for the 28th earliest. Had they won their first game against the Pirates, and therefore, clinched with 16 games to go, they would have been among the top 16 earliest teams to grab a title:

YrTmLgDivClinch MonDayLastTmElimLeader Games RemainingWLPCTWon Div?Won Lg?Won WS?GA
1902PITNL 09/03BSN2510336.741 Y 27.5
1941NYAAL 09/04CHA2010153.656 YY17
1943SLNNL 09/18CIN1910549.682 YN18
1887SL4AA 09/15LS2189540.704 YN14
1904NY1NL 09/21CHN1710647.693 Y 13
1936NYAAL 09/08DET1710251.667 YY19.5
1955BRONL 09/08ML1169855.641 YY13.5

Note that only six of those clubs actually won the World Series. Which brings me to the next topic in this ever popular series: Do teams that clinch earlier have an advantage in the playoffs and World Series? Does the extra time to rest one's starting players and set one's rotation give a team an advantage when the playoffs roll around or does it make the team rusty? However, that's a topic for another night.

Failure to Clinch
2006-09-18 14:47
by Mike Carminati

As a Phillies fan, I have been sitting back enjoying the difficulty the Mets are having putting the final nail in their last division rival's coffin (i.e., the Phils). The Mets were swept by the Pirates over the weekend while the Phils took three from the reeling Astros.

The Phils, of course, have no hopes of winning the division at this stage of the season. They are really vying for the wild card, and are now just one game behind this morning's odd man out in the NL West a.k.a. the wild card leader, the Dodgers.

It's really the only pennant race that still matters, sadly. Yes, the NL West has been a dog fight and if the Twins should topple the Tigers in the AL Central, it could be an historic comeback. However, the loser in either case is still in control of the wild card spot. The Tigers would have to out-choke the '64 Phils and the Chisox would have to get very hot in order for Detroit to miss the playoffs. The Dodgers may lose the division but do have a one-game cushion in the wild card to soften the blow a bit.

The Phils are the only team that has a legitimate shot at a playoff spot that don't have a plan B to fall back on. That alone may be the best argument for Ryan Howard's MVP case, whether the Phils nab the wild card or not.

Anyway, the travails of the Mets made me look into how teams have clinch their division or league titles in the past. What I found was that there were a number of teams that won titles without ever clinching anything.

Of course, this has happened three times in the wild card era due to the eccentricities of the new tiebreaker rules. Since 1994, if two teams are tied for the division title, and the loser would still be the league's wild card, there is no need for a one-game playoff. The winner is determined by a labyrinthine set of tiebreakers: head-to-head competition THEN intradivision record THEN record in the past 81 league games THEN their record in their last "n" games (meaning games prior to the last 81 so long as they are not against each other, starting with the 82nd and then preceding backwards to the start of the season).

In 2005, the Yankees were declared the AL East champ with one game to play and the Red Sox one game back since if they ended up tied, they both has qualified for the playoffs and New York had a better head-to-head record (10-9). The final game was between the Yankess and Red Sox at Fenway. The Red Sox won 10-1 to make the playoffs. The Yankees rested their starters midway through the game since the game was (relatively) meaningless to them. Had the Yankees beaten the Sox and the Indians beaten the AL Central Champion White Sox on the final day, the Indians and White Sox would have played a one-game playoff for the wild card. The reeling Indians lost 3-1.

In typical Red Sockian fashion, Boston declared themselves co-AL East champs even though the rules in place said otherwise: "Co-division champs. That's what I'm calling it," Red Sox owner John Henry said after the game. "I can understand why there isn't [a playoff], but frankly, I would have liked to have had one. It would have been nice to settle the division championship." And even the Red Sox biggest, or at least most influential supporter, Bud Selig felt the need to chime in, "If I were running the Red Sox, I would declare myself cochamps…one could make that case."

In 2001, the NL Central winner, Houston, was decided in a similar fashion. The Astros were tied with the Cardinals but won the head-to-head series (9-7), so St. Louis had to settle for the wild card.

In 2000, the A's finished a half-game ahead of the Mariners (91-70 to 91-71). The A's were not forced to play their last game (a postponed game at Tampa Bay) because they won the season series 9-4 against the M's.

Prior to the eccentricities of the playoff tiebreakers in the wild card era, there were a number of divisions who never clinched at least according to the typical tiebreaker rules.

In 1972, the Red Sox trailed the Tigers by one-half game with one fewer game played (86-70 to 85-70). The Red Sox lead Detroit by one-game going into the final series of the season, which had both teams facing off at Tigers Stadium. The Tigers took games one and two, 4-1 and 3-1, to go up 1-1/2 games. The Red Sox won the final game, 4-1. Even though the ALCS did not start until three days later, the schedule that year was shortened after a strike at the start of the season. The remaining schedule was the schedule, and the Tigers were declared the division champs. Given that Detroit took two of three from the Sox, they didn't have much of a case.

In 1938, the Cubs (89-63) won the NL crown by two games over the Pirates (86-64). However, the 1938 season was 154 games. Both teams had two ties (probably called on account of weather or darkness) that were never replayed. The Pirates missed two other games (probably postponements) and, therefore, had a decision in just 150 games. The Cubs of course, went on to be swept in four games by the Yankees and were outscored 22 to 9. Maybe it didn't matter who the National League sent up against that team, but today those games would be made up, probably during the season, and a clear-cut winner would established (unless one team would be the wild card of course).

In 1935, the Tigers (93-58 with one tie) won the AL title by three games over the Yankees (89-60). However, the Tigers were three games short of a full schedule (if you include the ties), and the Yankees failed to play five games.

In baseball's formative years, there were oddities with the league winners on almosta yearly basis.

In 1915, the last Federal League title was decided by percentage points. The Chicago Whales (86-66, 3 ties) somehow beat the St. Louis Terriers (87-67, 5 ties) even though they had two fewer decisions.

In 1908, the Tigers won the AL crown again under odd circumstances. They had a half-game lead over the Indians, 90-63 to 90-64. The Tigers had one tie and the Indians 3.

In 1907, the Tigers (again) won the AL crown by 1-1/2 games over the Philly A's (92-58, 3 ties vs. 88-57, 5 ties) even though the A's had one fewer loss and failed to play 9 games (5 ties and 4 cancellations).

In 1906, the White Sox (93-58, 3 ties) won the AL title by 3.5 games over the Highlanders nee Yankees (89-61, 4 ties). Both teams played the full slate of 154 games if you count the ties, but again if the ties were replayed, potentially the AL winner might have been different.

In 1905, The A's won the AL crown by two games over the White Sox even though they were tied in wins. Philly had a 92-56 record (4 ties) and Chicago had a 92-60 record (6 ties).

In 1904, the Boston "Americans" (i.e., not-yet-Red Sox) topped the then-Highlanders by a game and one half even though they were tied in losses, 95-59 (3 ties) to 92-59 (4 ties). Shades of 2005 with different team names.

In the one-year Players National League (1890), the Boston Reds (81-48,1 tie) beat the Brooklyn (Ward's) Wonders (76-56, 1 tie) by 6.5 games. But I defy you to tell me how many games constituted a full slate for this league. Teams played between 128 and 138 games. Boston played 130 and Brooklyn, 133.

In 1889, both leagues had some odd circumstances surrounding their league crown. The New York Giants won the NL crown by one crown over the Boston Red Stockings (cum Braves) by one game although they both had 83 wins (83-43 with 5 ties vs. 83-45 with 5 ties). The American Association crown was won by the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (i.e., Dodgers, 91-44, 3 ties) over half a game over the St. Louis Browns (i.e., Cards, 90-44) though both had 44 losses.

There were also many leagues (1884 Union Association, 1884 AA, 1890 AA, and 1891 AA) that had teams fold without being officially eliminated from the league crown.

So the next time you see a nice, neat list of division and league winners, just keep in mind that a number of those teams won under less than spotless circumstances. And while you are laughing at the Mets for their clinching woes (which will likely change with four at home against the Marlins), keep in mind that there are a number of championship teams that never clinched a damn thing.

Two Ships
2006-09-13 23:03
by Mike Carminati

The Phils won both ends of their doubleheader in Atlanta to close the gap in their wild card hunt to 1-1/2 games behind the leader (San Diego). The Marlins (3 games back) and apparently the Giants (2.5 GB, if they lose to the Rockies—they trail 8-5 in the seventh) are falling out of the race after recent surges.

Meanwhile the Twins after losing starter Francisco Liriano, lost 1-0 to Oakland, but remained just 1.5 games behind the faltering Tigers after they got slammed by the Rangers, 11-2, including a Sarge Matthews Jr. cycle. The White Sox, after a 9-0 win over the Angels, pull to 1.5 games behind the Twins in the wild card hunt and three games behind the Tigers for the AL Central.

While I was trying to put all of this in perspective, a number of questions occurred to me. The Twins have not been in first all season. If they do pass the Tigers and win the division, will it be the latest that any team moved into first place and then won the division/league? Will they have the fewest days in first for a division winner?

Will the Tigers lose their title later in the season than any other team in baseball history? Will they own the dubious distinction of being in first for the most days in the season without winning a title?

If the Phils don't nab the wild card title after coming as close as one half game behind without ever leading the hunt, will that be as close as any team came in second half of a season without grabbing the proverbial cigar?

OK, I don't think that the Twins have a chance of grabbing a division/league lead later than any other team. The 1873 Boston Red Stockings took over the lead of the National Association on Oct 1 (the league played until November 1). For a more modern example, the '64 Cards grabbed the NL lead on September 29 from the Reds, who wrested it from the ill-fated 1964 Phils three days earlier. There are only five teams that have ever grabbed a division, league, or wild card lead in September and held it, and only two have come in the "modern" era. Here are the latest that a division-/league-winner ascended to first for the first time in a season:

YrLgTeam#Days in 1stMonth DayWLPCTG Ahead

As for the fewest number of days in first for a division, wild card, or league winner, the answer is one. But it's a trick question. The Royals reached the postseason in the split-season 1981 season, but were only in first (based on overall record) for one day. Here are the fewest days in first for a division winner:

YrLGTm#DaysFirstLastWLPCTDivWinWCWinLgWinWSWinRankGBG Ahead
1981ALKCA119810408198104085053.485Y NN4110
1871NAPH131871070418711030217.750 Y 102
1964NLSLN619640929196410049369.574 YY101
1951NLNY1719510417195110039859.624 YN101
1938NLCHN1119380418193810028963.586 YN102
1934NLSLN1219340417193409309558.621 YY102
1981NLPHI1319810408198108115948.551Y NN32.50
1981ALML41319810408198110056247.569Y NN101
1959NLLAN1419590426195909298868.564 YY102
1942NLSLN16194209121942092710648.688 YY102
1981NLMON1719810408198105076048.556Y NN220
1935NLCHN17193504161935092910054.649 YN104
1956NLBRO1819560423195609309361.604 YN101
1967ALBOS1819670412196710019270.568 YN101
1883NLBSN1918830904188309306335.643 Y 104
1973NLNYN2019730405197310018279.509Y YN101.5
1873NABS12118731001187311014316.729 Y 104
1978ALNYA23197804051978100210063.613Y YY101
1930NLSLN2319300414193009289262.597 YN102
1969NLNYN24196904071969100210062.617Y YY108
1974ALBAL2519740404197410029171.562Y NN102

Here are the teams that spent the most days in first and won their division, etc.:

YrLGTm#DaysFirstLastWLPCTDivWinWCWinLgWinWSWinRankGBG Ahead
1984ALDET179198404021984093010458.642Y YY1015
1993NLPHI17819930405199310039765.599Y YN103
1884UASLU17718840420188410199419.832 Y 1035.5
1990NLCIN17619900409199010039171.562Y YY105
1905NLNY1175190504141905100810548.686 YY109
1970NLCIN175197004061970100110260.630Y YN1014.5
1892NLBSN175189204121892101510248.680 Y 108.5

As for the team that spent the most days in first but ended up losing the division or league, you have to look at the 1969 Cubs (151 days) who were passed Sept 10 by the Miracle Mets, and the rest is history. Here are the rest of the unlucky lot:


As for which teams were passed the latest in the season, you have to look to the old Chicago White Stockings (nee Cubs) who lost the National Association crown on October 30. These are the teams that lost their crown at the latest dates in the season:


As for the team that came the closest to leading a division, league, or wild card race in the second half of a season (from July 1on) without ever actually leading it, the answer is the 1915 Tigers, who were actually a half game ahead of the Red Sox for two days, August 19 and 20 (at the end of a nine-game win streak), but trailed them by percentage points in the standings. Here are the teams that were within a half-game of a playoff spot but never took control of that spot:

YrTmDivMin PosMin GBMin GB WC
1915DET 2-0.5
1957PHI 20
1907CLE 20
1943WS1 20
1954NYA 20
1902BOS 20
1915BRO 20
1927NY1 20.5
1950BRO 20.5
1950BOS 20.5
1914DET 20.5
1924BRO 20.5
1945WS1 20.5
1962MIN 20.5
1908CHA 20.5
1940BOS 20.5
1910NY1 20.5
1947NY1 20.5
1901PHI 20.5
1953ML1 20.5
1954BRO 20.5
1957BRO 20.5
Two Far Gone?
2006-09-11 22:26
by Mike Carminati

By allowing a two-game advantage become a four-game split, the Phils this weekend allowed a great opportunity to both bury the division-rival Florida Marlins and to get themselves in the thick of the wild card hunt.

After the Marlins series, the Phils now find themselves in a three-way tie for second place in the wild card hunt, 2-1/2 games behind the Padres. That's one-half game closer to the wild card than they were before the split, but it is also a three-way tie as opposed to the two-way they had with Florida before the series.

So where are the Phils now, let alone the Giants and Marlins? Are two and one-half games a lot at this time of the season?

And what of the three other teams (Cincinnati, Houston, and Atlanta) that are within five games of the wild card lead? Do they have a legitimate shot of securing a playoff spot?

Well, let's look to the past to see…

Well, the last team to come back from at least five games back on September 10 were the 1964 Cardinals. They were tied for second with the Reds behind the ill-fated '64 Phils. For the team before that, you have to go back to the 1891 Boston Beaneaters, and there is just one other team (the 1873 National Association Boston Red Stockings) that came back from at least five games back on September 10.

OK, so it seems pretty clear that teams that are more than five games out have virtually no chance of making the playoffs, but what about the next tier of teams that are, say, between two and five games back.

Of all the teams that were between two and five games back in a league, division, or wild card race on September 10, only six made the postseason, the last being the 1973 Mets (the 2005 Yankees were four games out and then won the division; however, they were just 1.5 games out in the wild card).

Here are all the teams that were more than two games back (on 9/10) and then made the playoffs (including the 2005 Yankees):

/YrTmGBGB WCRankDiv WinWC WinLg WinWS Win
1873Boston Red Stockings5.5 3 Y
1882Chicago White Stockings3 2 Y
1891Boston Beaneaters5.5 2 Y
1915Chicago Whales4 3 Y
1934St. Louis Cardinals4 2 YY
1938Chicago Cubs4.5 2 YN
1948Cleveland Indians3.5 3 YY
1964St. Louis Cardinals6 2 YY
1973New York Mets3 4Y NN
2005New York Yankees41.52YNNN

Here is a breakdown of the teams' records as of 9/10, after 9/10, and in total:

YrTm9/10 W9/10 LPCTPost 9/10 WPost 9/10 LPCTWLPCT
1873Boston Red Stockings2513.658183.8574316.729
1882Chicago White Stockings4328.606121.9235529.655
1891Boston Beaneaters6748.583203.8708751.630
1915Chicago Whales7062.530164.8008666.566
1934St. Louis Cardinals8053.602155.7509558.621
1938Chicago Cubs7459.556154.7898963.586
1948Cleveland Indians8153.604165.7629758.626
1964St. Louis Cardinals7862.557157.6829369.574
1973New York Mets6974.483135.7228279.509
2005New York Yankees7962.560165.7629567.586

Now if we expand our study to teams that were two games back (as of 9/10), the number of teams almost doubles, from nine to sixteen. The 1998 Rangers and 2000 A's meet this criterion.

Here are the new teams that meet our criterion:

YrTmGBGB WCRankDiv WinWC WinLg WinWS Win
1908Chicago Cubs2 3 YY
1942St. Louis Cardinals2 2 YY
1959Los Angeles Dodgers2 2 YY
1972Detroit Tigers2 3Y NN
1974Baltimore Orioles2 2Y NN
1998Texas Rangers24.52YNNN
2000Oakland Athletics222YNNN

…And there records:

YrTm9/10 W9/10 LPCTPost 9/10 WPost 9/10 LPCTWLPCT
1908Chicago Cubs8051.611194.8269955.643
1942St. Louis Cardinals9246.667142.87510648.688
1959Los Angeles Dodgers7663.547125.7068868.564
1972Detroit Tigers7263.533147.6678670.551
1974Baltimore Orioles7467.525174.8109171.562
1998Texas Rangers7867.538107.5888874.543
2000Oakland Athletics7566.532164.8009170.565

That seems to be the tipping point: If a team is two games back, they have a decent shot at the postseason. Anything beyond that seems to be very longshot at best. So even though the NL wild card has appeared to be the most wide open of all the races, it seems now to be just the consolation prize for whichever team, the Dodgers or Padres, lose the NL West.

The most wide open race right now is for the AL Central, where two teams should make the postseason. Even though Detroit's lead is shrinking, they seem to have a spot, either as AL Central champ or as the wild card. The Twins can catch them, win the wild card, or get passed by the White Sox. The Sox's only shot at a playoff spot appears to be by passing the Twins for the wild card.

Generalisimo Julio Franco is Still Playing Third Base
2006-09-11 22:26
by Mike Carminati

48-year-old Julio Franco made a rare appearance at third yesterday for the Mets. He played two innings and made two assists on the two balls he fielded.

I say that it was a rare appearance since his last foray at third came 24 years ago when Franco was a shortstop prospect for the Phils who got a September cup-o'-Joe callup. Franco would be part of the five-for-one Phils trade for Von "Purple" Haze that winter. In the Sunday game, Franco doubled his career assists and chances at third: He played two games with two assists at the position in his only year with the Phils.

Franco is now the second-oldest man to ever play third behind Jimmy Austin, who played game at third at age 49 in 1929. Austin basically retired years before, but as a coach for the Browns he was inserted in blowout games. In the 1929 game, he handled both chances his way.

Here are the oldest prior to Franco to play third:

Jimmy Austin1929493B1
Jimmy Austin1926463B1
Jimmy Austin1925453B1
Bobby Wallace1918443B1
Bobby Wallace1917433B5
Graig Nettles1988433B12
Honus Wagner1917433B18
Jack Ryan1912433B1
Bobby Wallace1916423B9
Darrell Evans1989423B28
Deacon White1890423B64
Graig Nettles1987423B40
Jack Saltzgaver1945423B1
Jimmie Dykes1939423B2
Jimmy Austin1922423B9
Big Popup Is Right!
2006-09-11 19:27
by Mike Carminati

I love to see how all the Red Sox have their priorities straight. Today, David Ortiz opined that his team's demise, which they currently suffering through he should remember, should not bar him for consideration for the AL MVP award.

I'll let the erudite Ortiz speak for himself. He's so precious:

"I'll tell you one thing," Ortiz said. "If I get 50 home runs and 10 more RBI [which would give him 137], that's going to be a round number that no one else in the American League will have."

"But they'll vote for a position player, use that as an excuse. They're talking about [Derek] Jeter a lot, right? He's done a great job, he's having a great season, but Jeter is not a 40-homer hitter or an RBI guy. It doesn't matter how much you've done for your ball club, the bottom line is, the guy who hits 40 home runs and knocks in 100, that's the guy you know helped your team win games.

"Don't get me wrong -- he's a great player, having a great season, but he's got a lot of guys in that lineup," Ortiz continued. "Top to bottom, you've got a guy who can hurt you. Come hit in this lineup, see how good you can be….

"I'm right there, but I'm not going to win it. They give it to [Alex Rodriguez] one year, even though his team was in last place, so now they can't play that BS anymore, just because your team didn't make it. They gave it to Alex that year because of his numbers. But they always have a reason to vote for whatever, so that's why I don't worry about it."

It's not often that a player this lionized can run down his teammates—" Come hit in this lineup…"—while inflating his own worth. Like every foul fly ball down the line that Ortiz tries to turn into a home run by intimidating an umpire, he's trying to pull a shell game with the MVP award, confusing and conflating the issues.

He cites Alex Rodriguez's MVP award on a last-place team to justify his own. But Rodriguez had great offensive numbers and won a Gold Glove at arguably the toughest defensive position. It's the same position that Derek Jeter plays, though arguably not as well, which is one reason that he is a better choice to win the MVP than Ortiz, even though his being a position player is just an "excuse" to give him the award to Ortiz.

Ignore the fact that Jeter not only plays a defensive position, but plays the toughest one on the field. Ignore the fact that Jeter's team played and won games that actually mattered for making the postseason while Ortiz's did not. Jeter still tops Ortiz in both Baseball Prospectus's VORP (73.4 to 64.5) and batting Win Shares (23.4 to 22.5).

Jeter's having a more valuable year at the plate than Ortiz. And he plays a key defensive position. And he's on a division winner. Ortiz does not have a leg to stand on.

That said, Ortiz probably isn't the best choice for the award on his own team. He's probably the sixth or seventh best choice in the entire league.

Here are the AL leaders in VORP and Win Shares seeded by their average rank in both:

PlayerTm Pos Batting Pitching Fielding Total WSRankVORPRankAvg

So why does the press let Ortiz twist the argument in his favor? On the anniversary of 9/11, one cannot overestimate how easily the press can be misled. If the lemmings in the press continue to fawn on him and allow him to frame the arguments for MVP, who knows, maybe he can win it. Of course, if it comes down to merit he really should have no chance to win.

Waiting for No-No
2006-09-06 22:20
by Mike Carminati

The Marlins' Anibal Sanchez no-hit the D-Backs, 2-0, tonight as the red-hot Marlins finally tied the phloundering Phils for second place in the NL not-so-wild card hunt. The Phils and Marlins square off for a four-game series in Miami starting tomorrow. I expect the Phils to pull a Red Sox and witness the end to their postseason hopes sometime around Saturday.

Anyway, the media are making quite a bit out of the two-year wait between major-league no-hitters. It is significant, but it's not the longest wait in major-history as many are reporting.

The longest wait was actually for the second recorded no-hitter, on August 19, 1880 by Larry Corcoran. The first no-no came July 15, 1876. Here are the longest waits all-time (source data from

8/19/1880Larry CorcoranCHI6BOS0N4.097/15/1876
9/18/1897Cy YoungCLE5CIN0N3.306/2/1894
9/18/1934Bobo NewsomSTL1BOS2A3.118/8/1931
6/22/1891Tom LovettBRK4NY0N2.749/27/1888
5/8/1929Carl HubbellNY11PIT0N2.718/21/1926
6/21/1888George VanhaltrenCHI1PIT0N2.7110/7/1885
4/27/1944Jim TobinBOS2BRK0N2.668/30/1941
9/6/2006Anibal Sanchez FLA2ARI0N2.305/18/2004
9/20/1882Larry CorcoranCHI5WOR0N2.088/20/1880
4/29/1931Wes FerrellCLE9STL0A1.985/8/1929
9/19/1986Joe CowleyCHI7CAL0A1.979/30/1984
8/11/1950Vern BickfordBOS7BRK0N1.929/9/1948

For fun, here are the shortest waits. 18 times fans had three or fewer days to wait, five times they didn't even have to wait one day:

8/27/1911Joe WoodBOS5STL0A0.0008/27/1911
5/2/1917Hippo VaughnCHI0CIN1N0.0005/2/1917
6/29/1990Fernando ValenzuelaLA6STL0N0.0006/29/1990
10/15/1892Bumpus JonesCIN7PIT1N0.00010/15/1892
4/22/1898Jay HughesBAL8BOS0N0.0004/22/1898
5/6/1917Bob GroomSTL3CHI0A0.0035/5/1917
9/18/1968Ray WashburnSTL2SFO0N0.0039/17/1968
5/1/1969Don WilsonHOU4CIN0N0.0034/30/1969
8/20/1880Pud GalvinBUF1WOR0N0.0038/19/1880
9/26/1906Lefty LeifieldPIT8PHI0N0.0069/24/1906
9/20/1908Frank SmithCHI1PHI0A0.0069/18/1908
7/1/1990Andy HawkinsNYY0CHI4A0.0066/29/1990
7/28/1991Dennis MartinezMTL2LA0N0.0067/26/1991
5/5/1917Ernie KoobSTL1CHI0A0.0085/2/1917
9/7/1923Howard EhmkeBOS4PHI0A0.0089/4/1923
9/21/1934Paul DeanSTL3BRK0N0.0089/18/1934
9/29/1983Mike WarrenOAK3CHI0A0.0089/26/1983
5/14/1996Dwight GoodenNYY2SEA0A0.0085/11/1996
Bursts of Energy
2006-09-06 10:00
by Mike Carminati
Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation;

—Walt Whitman

The other day, the Yankees trailed 5-1 with ten strikeouts after seven innings against KC's Luke Hudson. The Royals lifted Hudson for Jimmy Gobble, and the Yanks went on to score ten runs in the top of the eighth en route to a 12-5 win. The Royals switched pitchers twice before they registered an out, and they eventually went through four pitchers in the inning. The Yankees amassed seven hits, two of which were homers, and three walks—and zero left on base—on the inning.

It made me wonder what were the fewest runs ever scored by a team that had a 10-run burst. It turns out that there have been 123 games in baseball history in which a team scored ten runs in one inning and no more than two in the rest of the game. There were 25 games in which a team was shutout out for an entire game besides a ten-run outburst, the last being a 10-2 win last year by the Phils over the Marlins with all ten runs coming in the top of the inning.

Here are all 25 games. You'll note that two ended up losses for the team scoring the 10-run burst:

DateTeamRFOppRAH/ABig InningBurstRest of RW?

At the other end of the spectrum, there have been 39 games in baseball history in which a team scored at least ten runs besides a ten-run one-inning outburst. Here are the ones with the most runs scored outside of the big burst inning:

DateTeamRFOppRAH/ABig InningBurstRest of RW?

In the 378 ten-run innings in baseball history (hopefully I didn't miss any this season—I had to eyeball the data), the big-inning team won 372 times or 98.4% of the time. On average, the big-inning team scored 10.74 runs in their big inning and 4.62 outside of that inning. In fact, they were outscored on average by their opponent (5.10 runs) by about one-half run—of course, they had an extra inning in which to score it.

Also, the fifth inning has the most 10-run outbursts (56) followed by the first and eighth (both 50). The ninth has the least (23), which seems anticlimactic but, considering that the home team often does not bat in the bottom of the ninth, makes sense. There were just two ten-run innings in the ninth by the home team. There have also been three ten-run innings after nine innings.

Here's the breakout by inning:

Inning 10-R innings

Here are the two ninth-inning outbursts by the home team, one of the two being a loss:

DateTeamRFOppRAH/ABig InningBurstRest of RW?

Now, here are the extra-inning, 10-run innings:

DateTeamRFOppRAH/ABig InningBurstRest of RW?

Earlier this season, the same Royals that get slammed by the Yanks' ten-run eighth the other day, scored ten runs in the bottom of the first and still lost, 13-15 in the tenth to the Indians. According to the Royals site and their outmoded Elias data, it was just the second time in baseball history that a team scored ten runs and still lost the game. Of course, I found four other games, three of which came in 1912 and all of those were big nine-inning rallies:

DateTeamRFOppRAH/ABig InningBurstRest of R

Finally, to beat this dead horse a bit more, here are the only games in which a team scored ten runs in an inning twice, one being the classic Cubs-Phils 26-23 game in 1922:

DateTeamRFOppRAH/ABig InningBurstRest of RW?

Here is the only doubleheader in which a team had a ten-run inning in both games:

DateTeamRFOppRAH/ABig InningBurstRest of RW?

Here's the only game in baseball history in which both teams scored ten runs in an inning:

DateTeamRFOppRAH/ABig InningBurstRest of RW?

Here are the only days in which ten runs were scored in one inning in two separate games:

DateTeamRFOppRAH/ABig InningBurstRest of RW?

I guess I have to stop now since I can't think of another way to milk this data.

Passing the Baton?
2006-09-05 21:11
by Mike Carminati

Cole Hamels and Roger Clemens battled to a 3-2, tenth-inning pitcher's duel won eventually by Rick White over Dave Borkowski. Clemens lasted just five and left with a strained groin with the game tied 1-1 (actually he trailed 1-0, but Houston scored in their half inning before Russ Springer relieved Clemens). Hamels lasted until the eighth but also left with the game tied, 2-2.

The 'Stros were on their sixth pitcher, and the Phils even worked Matt Smith, their compensation from for Bobby Abreu AND Corey Lidle—Ha Ha Ha!—before Chase Utley homered to keep the Phils slightly above .500 but still in striking distance of the NL wild card hunt as they do their typical best at asymptotically approach some semblance of a playoff race.

When the Reds topple the Giants 3-0 to pull into a fourth in the wild card hunt, three games back both with a stunning 69-70 record, you know you have a special kind of race.

Anyway, when Clemens and Hamels faced off, a rarity in baseball took place: a pitcher opposed another twice his age. Hamels is 22 while we no longer know how old Clemens is without splitting him in two and counting his rings.

I thought it would be interesting to look up all the faceoffs between two starters with one being twice the age of the other. I found 120 through 2005.

Clemens is the only man to appear on the list as both the younger and the elder pitcher.

Here are the pitchers who appeared the most as the elder pitchers in these sorts of faceoffs:

Phil Niekro25
Nolan Ryan11
Jack Quinn7
Warren Spahn7
Cy Young6
Rip Sewell5

And here are the most appearances by a youngsters:

Dwight Gooden5
Bret Saberhagen4
Bob Feller4
Hipolito Pichardo3
Larry Dierker3
Fernando Valenzuela3
Ralph Branca3
Don Drysdale3
Alex Fernandez3

Finally, here are all 121 contests starting with the Hamels-Clemens game and going back to the between Pud Galvin (33) and Willie McGill (16) in the 1890 Players League.

YrDatePitcher1Visiting teamVT LgAgePitcher2Home teamHT LgAge
200620060904Cole HamelsPHINL22Roger ClemensHOUNL44
200520050823David WellsBOSAL42Zack GreinkeKCAAL21
200320030909Edwin JacksonLANNL19Randy JohnsonARINL39
200320030601Roger ClemensNYAAL40Jeremy BondermanDETAL20
199419940604Joey HamiltonSDNNL23Charlie HoughFLONL46
199419940416Salomon TorresSFNNL22Charlie HoughFLONL46
199319930922Nolan RyanTEXAL46Dave FlemingSEAAL23
199319930804Alex FernandezCHAAL23Nolan RyanTEXAL46
199319930507Nolan RyanTEXAL46Hipolito PichardoKCAAL23
199219921002Charlie HoughCHAAL44Dave FlemingSEAAL22
199219920901Nolan RyanTEXAL45Hipolito PichardoKCAAL22
199219920827Hipolito PichardoKCAAL22Nolan RyanTEXAL45
199219920815Sam MilitelloNYAAL22Charlie HoughCHAAL44
199219920527Alex FernandezCHAAL22Nolan RyanTEXAL45
199119910906Wilson AlvarezCHAAL21Nolan RyanTEXAL44
199119910819Mike MussinaBALAL22Nolan RyanTEXAL44
199119910621Nolan RyanTEXAL44Ramon GarciaCHAAL21
199119910611Alex FernandezCHAAL21Nolan RyanTEXAL44
199019900930Reggie HarrisOAKAL21Nolan RyanTEXAL43
198819880716Melido PerezCHAAL22Tommy JohnNYAAL45
198719870915Joe NiekroMINAL42Jack McDowellCHAAL21
198719870914Don SuttonCALAL42Melido PerezKCAAL21
198719870805Brad ArnsbergNYAAL23Phil NiekroCLEAL48
198719870720Phil NiekroCLEAL48Bret SaberhagenKCAAL23
198719870627Joe NiekroMINAL42Ed CorreaTEXAL21
198719870605Tommy JohnNYAAL44Juan NievesMILAL22
198719870527Phil NiekroCLEAL48Roger ClemensBOSAL24
198719870522Phil NiekroCLEAL48Bill WegmanMILAL24
198719870501Phil NiekroCLEAL48Mark GubiczaKCAAL24
198619860905Phil NiekroCLEAL47Bill WegmanMILAL23
198619860830Phil NiekroCLEAL47Roger ClemensBOSAL23
198619860724Phil NiekroCLEAL47Mike LoyndTEXAL22
198619860719Phil NiekroCLEAL47Scott BankheadKCAAL22
198619860604Phil NiekroCLEAL47Rob WoodwardBOSAL23
198619860530Juan NievesMILAL21Phil NiekroCLEAL47
198619860514Phil NiekroCLEAL47Mark GubiczaKCAAL23
198619860509Joel DavisCHAAL21Phil NiekroCLEAL47
198619860503Phil NiekroCLEAL47Joel DavisCHAAL21
198519850914Bret SaberhagenKCAAL21Tommy JohnOAKAL42
198519850908Jose RijoOAKAL20Phil NiekroNYAAL46
198519850903Bill SwiftSEAAL23Phil NiekroNYAAL46
198519850823Phil NiekroNYAAL46Bill SwiftSEAAL23
198519850815Jerry KoosmanPHINL42Dwight GoodenNYNNL20
198519850801Phil NiekroNYAAL46Roy SmithCLEAL23
198519850708Bret SaberhagenKCAAL21Phil NiekroNYAAL46
198519850515Dwight GoodenNYNNL20Joe NiekroHOUNL40
198519850512Phil NiekroNYAAL46Bret SaberhagenKCAAL21
198519850510Steve CarltonPHINL40Dwight GoodenNYNNL20
198519850430Joe NiekroHOUNL40Dwight GoodenNYNNL20
198519850420Jose RomanCLEAL22Phil NiekroNYAAL46
198519850419Dwight GoodenNYNNL20Steve CarltonPHINL40
198319830814Fernando ValenzuelaLANNL22Phil NiekroATLNL44
198319830809Mark DavisSFNNL22Phil NiekroATLNL44
198319830531Phil NiekroATLNL44Lee TunnellPITNL22
198319830501Storm DavisBALAL21Gaylord PerrySEAAL44
198219820807Mike WittCALAL21Gaylord PerrySEAAL43
198119810825Phil NiekroATLNL42Mark DavisPHINL20
198119810816Gaylord PerryATLNL42Fernando ValenzuelaLANNL20
198119810528Fernando ValenzuelaLANNL20Gaylord PerryATLNL42
197919790719Mike MorganOAKAL19Luis TiantNYAAL38
197319730827David ClydeTEXAL18Mike CuellarBALAL36
196519650925Bill MonbouquetteBOSAL28Satchel PaigeKC1AL58
196519650625Warren SpahnNYNNL44Larry DierkerHOUNL18
196519650615Bob BuhlCHNNL36Larry DierkerHOUNL18
196519650605Larry DierkerHOUNL18Curt SimmonsSLNNL36
196519650520Warren SpahnNYNNL44Wade BlasingameML1NL21
196319630823Warren SpahnML1NL42Dick CalmusLANNL19
196319630614Ray CulpPHINL21Warren SpahnML1NL42
196219620929Tommie SiskPITNL20Warren SpahnML1NL41
195819580618Milt PappasBALAL19Murry DicksonKC1AL41
195719570810Warren SpahnML1NL36Von McDanielSLNNL18
195719570702Warren SpahnML1NL36Von McDanielSLNNL18
195719570616Murry DicksonSLNNL40Don DrysdaleBRONL20
195619560901Don DrysdaleBRONL19Marv GrissomNY1NL38
195619560423Don DrysdaleBRONL19Murry DicksonPHINL39
195319530922Satchel PaigeSLAAL46Bob MillerDETAL17
195219520726Bobo NewsomPHAAL44Chuck StobbsCHAAL22
194919490717Chuck StobbsBOSAL19Al BentonCLEAL38
194919490612Dutch LeonardCHNNL40Johnny AntonelliBSNNL19
194819480731Rip SewellPITNL41Erv PalicaBRONL20
194819480722Charlie BicknellPHINL19Rip SewellPITNL41
194719470727Thornton LeeCHAAL40Don JohnsonNYAAL20
194519450916Ralph BrancaBRONL19Ray PrimCHNNL38
194519450909Ralph BrancaBRONL19Vern KennedyCINNL38
194519450907Dick BarrettPHINL38Herm WehmeierCINNL18
194519450905Ralph BrancaBRONL19Rip SewellPITNL38
194519450422Hod LisenbeeCINNL46Al JurisichSLNNL23
194419440724Rip SewellPITNL37Cal McLishBRONL18
194419440708Cal McLishBRONL18Rip SewellPITNL37
194319430909Dick BarrettPHINL36Rex BarneyBRONL18
194119410827Lefty GroveBOSAL41Hal NewhouserDETAL20
194119410731Johnny PodgajnyPHINL21Charley RootCHNNL42
194119410716Charley RootCHNNL42Tommy HughesPHINL21
194119410615Johnny PodgajnyPHINL21Charley RootCHNNL42
194019400804Lefty GroveBOSAL40Hal NewhouserDETAL19
193919390913Fred HutchinsonDETAL19Lefty GroveBOSAL39
193819380627Lefty GroveBOSAL38Bob FellerCLEAL19
193719370822Bob FellerCLEAL18Ted LyonsCHAAL36
193719370815Ted LyonsCHAAL36Bob FellerCLEAL18
193619360906Randy GumpertPHAAL18Earl WhitehillWS1AL37
193619360830Bob FellerCLEAL17Rube WalbergBOSAL39
193119310912Van MungoBRONL20Eppa RixeyCINNL40
193119310902Mel HarderCLEAL21Red FaberCHAAL42
193019300814Wes FerrellCLEAL22Jack QuinnPHAAL46
192919290823Jack QuinnPHAAL45Hal McKainCHAAL22
192919290517Pete AlexanderSLNNL42Larry FrenchPITNL21
192819280915Jack QuinnPHAAL44Willis HudlinCLEAL22
192819280613Jack QuinnPHAAL44Josh BillingsDETAL20
192719270921Willis HudlinCLEAL21Jack QuinnPHAAL43
192619260602Jack QuinnPHAAL42Red RuffingBOSAL21
192619260429Red RuffingBOSAL21Jack QuinnPHAAL42
191219120723Jack PowellSLAAL37Herb PennockPHAAL18
191119110830Claude HendrixPITNL22Cy YoungBSNNL44
191119110826Roy GoldenSLNNL22Cy YoungBSNNL44
191119110719Joe WoodBOSAL21Cy YoungCLEAL44
190919090812Cy YoungCLEAL42Joe WoodBOSAL19
190919090624Jim ScottCHAAL21Cy YoungCLEAL42
190819080827Bill BaileySLAAL19Cy YoungBOSAL41
189018900923Ed GreenPH4AA40George NicolSL4AA19
189018900920Ed GreenPH4AA40Scott StrattonLS2AA20
189018900818Willie McGillCLPPL16Pud GalvinPTPPL33
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