Friday, September 30, 2016

Game of the Day (9/30/91)

Mariners 3, Rangers 2 (11). Seattle's Erik Hanson was 26 years old, and struck out 143 hitters in what was a fairly solid season. That strikeout total was about 70% of his opponent's mark in 1991 - and less than 40% of what Nolan Ryan had done when he was Hanson's age.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Game of the Day (9/29/91)

We've spent the last few days completely ignoring active pennant races in this space, so let's check back in on the year's best contest. Entering play on September 29, the Dodgers led the Braves by a game in the NL West. They spent the first six innings of their game that day getting shut out by Bryan Hickerson, who I presume you have never heard of, because he wasn't particularly good and didn't last long in the majors. But in the eighth and ninth, they rallied from a 2-0 deficit to pull out a key 3-2 victory, with Darryl Strawberry delivering the walkoff.

And they needed it to stay ahead, too, because their pursuers played Braves 6, Astros 5 (13). The starters were Steve Avery for Atlanta and Pete Harnisch for Houston; both were pretty good young pitchers who would go on to pretty good careers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Game of the Day (9/28/91)

Tigers 5, Orioles 4 (10). Detroit sent out veteran Bill Gullickson, who at age 32 was on the way to his first and only 20-win season. Baltimore replied with Mike Mussina, who was 22 and making the eleventh start of his career; he would go on to a Hall-of-Fame-worthy 18-year tenure in the majors, and would exceed Gullickson in many categories, including length of wait before finally winning 20 games in a season.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Game of the Day (9/27/91)

Expos 12, Pirates 8. It is inevitable that at some point when writing up one game every day of a baseball season, you will run out of things to say about pitching matchups. This game pitted Montreal's Mark Gardner against Pittsburgh's Zane Smith. Both men were pretty OK; they were similar ages (Smith a year and two months older), but their 13-year careers were offset by five years anyway. And that's all I've got.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Game of the Day (9/26/91)

Pirates 4, Mets 3 (15). Pittsburgh started Randy Tomlin, who lasted five years and looks to have been pretty effective most of the time despite a very low strikeout rate. New York replied with David Cone, who spent considerably more than five years in the majors, and had a notably higher K rate than Tomlin - to wit, he was just about to finish his second consecutive league lead in strikeouts.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Game of the Day (9/25/91)

Entering play on September 25, there were two divisional races that could be considered closely contested. One of those was in the NL West, where the Dodgers led the Braves by two games - at least before the day began. But the Dodgers were thoroughly thrashed by the Padres, and the Braves were looking at a doubleheader against the unimpressive Reds. They took the first game, 2-1 in 10 innings, and with LA's loss, a sweep would have brought then within half a game of first place.

Instead, the nightcap went Reds 10, Braves 9 (10). The pitching matchup was an interesting one: Atlanta's Steve Avery, a 22-year-old in his third season as a full-time starter, faced Cincinnati's Randy Myers, a 28-year-old in his seventh year, but serving his first stint as a starter; this was his 12th start of 1991 after his entire career had been previously spent in the bullpen.

Myers's rotation stint worked out so well that this was the last game he would start in his entire career; he would remain in the majors until 1998, and spend the next seven years camped out in the bullpen.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Game of the Day (9/24/91)

Pirates 10, Mets 8. The starters were both veterans whose best years had been in the '80s, and who would end their careers with records around 25 games over .500. But there's still a wide range of quality possible with those two descriptions, and Pittsburgh's Bob Walk was significantly lower on the available spectrum than New York's Frank Viola.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Game of the Day (9/23/91)

Rangers 11, Mariners 4 (11). The pitchers were Texas's Brian Bohanon and Seattle's Randy Johnson. It was not a particularly even matchup at the time, and it would appear far less so as the decade progressed.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Game of the Day (9/22/91)

Yankees 7, Red Sox 5 (10). New York's Pascual Perez was 34 and pitched less than half a season, averaging barely 5 innings per start in the 14 starts he managed to make. Boston's 22-year-old Kevin Morton started a little more and pitched a lot worse. Counting this game, both men had exactly three major league appearances remaining in their careers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Game of the Day (9/21/91)

Angels 4, White Sox 3. California started Kyle Abbott; he was the second Abbott on their pitching staff in 1991, and the less effective of the two. Which is... let's just say it's not the most noteworthy difference between the Abbotts, and move on. He was opposed by Chicago's hyper-veteran knuckleballer, Charlie Hough.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Game of the Day (9/20/91)

A's 6, Blue Jays 5 (11). In 1990, Oakland's Bob Welch went 27-6 and won the Cy Young. Toronto's Todd Stottlemyre went 13-17 and exceeded Welch's ERA by nearly a run and a half (in the bad direction).

In 1991, Stottlemyre was the better pitcher of the two. Betting on consistent pitcher performance is not typically a winning proposition.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Game of the Day (9/19/91)

Phillies 5, Expos 4 (10). Montreal's Brian Barnes was 24 and putting the finishing touches on a fairly unimpressive season in which he just missed qualifying for the ERA title; Philadelphia's Andy Ashby was 23, and pitched both less and worse. Neither pitcher's results looked terribly promising in 1991, but Ashby would go on to a solid 14-year career while Barnes would be out of the league after three more campaigns.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Game of the Day (9/18/91)

Blue Jays 5, Mariners 3 (12). The pitching matchup comprised two pitchers who generally had no idea where the ball was going, for very different reasons: Toronto knuckleballer Tom Candiotti and Seattle flamethrower Randy Johnson.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Game of the Day (9/17/91)

Mariners 5, Blue Jays 4 (11). Toronto started Juan Guzman, an outstanding rookie who was called up partway through the season, against Seattle's Erik Hanson, a solid veteran. (It's a bit of September role reversal, as one might expect the promising youngster to be a recent promotion for a .500 team, facing the tenured pitcher on the contender.)

Friday, September 16, 2016

Game of the Day (9/16/91)

Dodgers 6, Reds 5 (12). Both starters in this game would narrowly exceed 100 innings for the 1991 season. LA's Orel Hershiser was a recent ace slowly working his way back into form after destroying his shoulder a year earlier; Cincinnati's Scott Scudder took the more conventional path to that total and was just a mediocre swingman.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Game of the Day (9/15/91)

Before we get to the actual contest here, it's worth pointing out that the most important game of the day was actually the least-dramatic: Braves 9, Dodgers 1. The NL West race between these two teams was the closest divisional contest of the year, with the Braves entering the day leading by only half a game. It quickly became clear that the margin was about to increase, as Sid Bream hit a first-inning grand slam and Atlanta led 8-0 after three, with Steve Avery throwing a complete-game four-hitter. Not only was it the least-exciting game of the day by WPL, but at 0.70, it ranks as the second-least engaging contest of the year.

Which is to say that context is always important in statistics.

Now, let's move on to our daily helping of also-rans: Expos 6, Cubs 5 (10), pitting Chicago's Rick Sutcliffe, who lasted a long time and had extreme highs and lows, against Montreal's Mark Gardner, who was basically Sutcliffe if his highs were flattened out to ERA's less than 10% better than league average.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Game of the Day (9/14/91)

Mariners 4, Royals 3 (11). Seattle's Bill Krueger was approaching the end of his career as a decent left-handed swingman. KC's Kevin Appier was just starting out in his tenure as a right-handed ace.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Game of the Day (9/13/91)

Royals 3, Mariners 2 (12). The pitchers for this game look like at least a bit of a mismatch, as Kansas City's hurler had an ERA over a run lower than Seattle's. That was artificially induced by his having spent much of the year in the bullpen, but even if you just take him as a starter, the Royal pitcher was more effective.

Sadly for Luis Aquino, he did not remain superior to Randy Johnson for the entirety of their respective careers.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Melog Rankings: Post-US Open 2016

So... that happened.

For now, I will leave aside any ruminations on what the recent US Open says about the participants' places in history; that discussion will be better served by a post about Slam Scores, which will be forthcoming within the next couple of weeks.

Instead, let's just see what Stan Wawrinka's third Slam championship means for the Melog ratings.

Game of the Day (9/12/91)

Angels 7, White Sox 4. The Angels started Chuck Finley, who would go on to pitch in over 500 games in his career, with 467 of them being starts. Chicago countered with Roberto Hernandez, who would pitch in nearly twice as many games as Finley, exceeding 1000 for his career - but only start three of them. In fact, this was the third appearance of Hernandez's career - and his last start. His next game began a streak of 1007 consecutive relief appearances.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Game of the Day (9/11/91)

Quick question before we get down to this: If you were told that the Atlanta Braves threw a no-hitter in 1991, who would you guess was the pitcher responsible?

If your guess was "no single pitcher, but Kent Mercker was the starter," congratulations on probably already having known the answer!

That contest isn't the Game of the Day for two reasons. First, combined no-hitters aren't as cool as the individual efforts (scientifically speaking, of course). And second, even with the benefit of my arbitrary no-hitter adjustment, it loses out anyway, falling victim to Rangers 11, Angels 9 (12).

Texas's Brian Bohanon was in his second MLB season, and would go on to be a solidly below-average pitcher for the next decade, ending with a career ERA of 5.19 that was not helped by his last three years, which were spent in Coors Field at its most extreme. And yet, he still fared better overall than California's Scott Lewis, a fellow second-year hurler who would depart the majors for good after five seasons and under 200 total innings.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Game of the Day (9/10/91)

White Sox 3, A's 1. Chicago's Charlie Hough faced Oakland's Mike Moore. I've done the "he makes a veteran pitcher seem like a whippersnapper" bit with Hough already this year, so let's move on to something these two have in common - they combined to lead the AL in batters faced three times in a four-year span from 1984-87. Notably, both Hough in '84 and Moore in '86 led the league in batters faced without leading the league in innings. Uncoincidentally, both of those seasons also led the AL in hits allowed.

By 1991, Hough was solidly on the downside of his career; Moore was having a fine season, but would join Hough in decline a year later.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Game of the Day (9/9/91)

Pirates 12, Cubs 10. Pittsburgh's John Smiley and Chicago's Danny Jackson ended up with very similar careers - both were lefties, both ended up with over 100 wins and losses, with ERAs very close to league average and career innings totals in the neighborhood of 2000.

But in 1991, Smiley was having one of his best seasons, and Jackson was having one of his worst.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Game of the Day (9/8/91)

Red Sox 17, Mariners 6.

Just kidding. That is the actual score of the last game of the four-game series between the two teams, but it occupied the opposite extreme to the other three; it was actually the least-dramatic game of the day.

The actual winner is Rangers 7, White Sox 6, yet another matchup of the two most dramatic teams of the season so far. The starters were an interesting pair - Jack McDowell for Chicago, Kevin Brown for Texas. McDowell was a year younger, and his career was off to a better start (39-29, 3.61 through 1991, compared to 35-32, 3.82 for Brown), a difference that would increase over the next two years (in which McDowell finished second and first in AL Cy Young voting). But Brown moved to the NL after the '95 season and went on to win a pair of ERA titles, and McDowell's effectiveness totally collapsed at exactly that moment. Brown would eventually exceed McDowell's career by nearly 1400 innings, and over 80 wins.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Game of the Day (9/7/91)

Red Sox 11, Mariners 10. Are you tired of these two teams yet?

Like the first game in the series, this one included one of the best starting pitchers of all time. It was not Boston's Kevin Morton, who somehow managed a winning record and an ERA only slightly worse than average in 1991 despite walking almost as many batters as he struck out - but was promptly exiled from the majors after completing his rookie year.

The Hall of Famer was Morton's fellow wild lefty, Randy Johnson, who was on his way to the second of three consecutive AL leads in walks issued. His control would improve at least slightly as his career went on.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Game of the Day (9/6/91)

Red Sox 6, Mariners 5. Seattle started Bill Krueger, who would eventually spend 13 years in the majors, play for eight teams, and split time between starting and relieving while never really distinguishing himself in either role (his career high in wins, set in 1991, was 11; he would amass a total of four major league saves).

His list of achievements still betters that of Matt Young, his opponent in this game. Young would spend 10 seasons in the majors (half of them for Seattle, in fact), and also split them roughly evenly between starting and relief. And in those ten seasons, he had a losing record in nine of them - often hugely so (12-19, 8-18, 0-4, 1-6, 3-7). His career ERA was only slightly worse than league average - but his record was 55-95.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Game of the Day (9/5/91)

Red Sox 4, Mariners 3 (10). Seattle's Erik Hanson was a fine pitcher. In 1990, he had gone 18-9 with an ERA over 20% better than the league average. 1991 was a bit of a step back, but his ERA was still a solid 3.81, and he was on his way to a winning career record and above-average ERA in over 1500 innings.

Boston started Roger Clemens, whose career would encompass over three times as many innings as Hanson's and almost exactly four times as many wins. So... yeah.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Game of the Day (9/4/91)

Expos 8, Braves 4. Atlanta's Steve Avery was 21 and on the way to 18 wins in his second major league season. In his third year, Montreal's Mark Gardner was also heading for a to-date career high in victories... with nine. At the age of 29.

So it probably won't surprise you to learn that... Mark Gardner ended up throwing more innings than Steve Avery? Actually, that might surprise some people.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Game of the Day (9/3/91)

Pirates 5, Giants 3 (10). Pittsburgh's Bob Walk was a veteran nearing the end of a fairly long, fairly respectable career. San Fran's Trevor Wilson was nearly a decade younger, generally not as good, and on his way to a shorter career.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Game of the Day (9/2/91)

Cardinals 7, Dodgers 4 (11). St. Louis started Ken Hill, who is something of a veteran of this feature, having started the Games of three previous Days in 1991. LA's Bob Ojeda had only made two GotD appearances in '91 before this - but also had four in 1984, so he's not exactly in unfamiliar territory either. So it's enough for now to say that both men were good pitchers, in 1991 and for the balance of their careers.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Game of the Day (9/1/91)

Phillies 5, Braves 4 (10). Philadephia's Bruce Ruffin was generally not as good as fellow lefty Charlie Leibrandt, Atlanta's starter for the day. That characterization also applied in 1991. But he was at least close enough that a start featuring the two of them wasn't an utter mismatch.