Posts Tagged ‘rangers’

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Steve Bedrosian

bedrosian back bedrosian frontJudging by his awesome facial hair and hobbies, Bedrosian seems to be the consummate flame-throwing good ole boy (never mind that he was born in Massachusetts). To me, four wheeling and breeding dogs screams hunter — of course, I’m not a hunter, so I might be completely wrong. Either way, given these three things: awesome beard, four-wheeler and breeds dogs, you would absolutely agree that he is capable of 120+ IPs in (predominantly) relief in back-to-back years.

Bedrosian did accomplish that feat and so much more. Outside of 1985, Bedrosian was basically a relief pitcher. It’s kind of odd because in ’85, he threw 206.2 innings and posted a 3.83 ERA. Of course he had a 4.14 FIP and recorded just 5.84 K/9 compared to the 8.71 rate he posted in the previous season. Another reason he’d start zero games for the rest of his career after posting 37 starts for the Braves? The organization would trade him and Milt Thompson to the Phillies for Pete Smith and Ozzie Virgil. The Phillies saw his ability to strike guys out in relief and kept him there permanently.

It’d turn out to be a pretty smart move. Bedrosian finished his career with the 34th most relief wins all time with 65 — one more than Al Hrabosky, he of the awesomest facial hair ever. Of course, on the flip side, Bedrosian has the 31st most loses (61) in relief in MLB History — tied with Bob Stanley and one ahead of Mike Stanton.

You add up that career and durability and you get the pitcher with the 46th most innings pitched in relief in MLB history — just 2.1 innings behind José Mesa (seriously – what? I’m as confused as you are).

However, the most surprising/confusing aspect of Bedrosian’s career would be the 1987 season. He did post a 2.83 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 7.5 K/9 and lead the league in saves with 40. Not surprising you’d say? A pretty average/above average year? Well, he won the Cy Young that year, yet had only a 2.0 WAR and only 89 IPs. Sure his win was by no means unanimous as he received just 9 first place votes (out of 24). The problem is no one could see through records and recognize the dominance of Orel Hershiser (16-16, 264 IPs, 3.06 ERA, 190 Ks, 1.21 WHIP).

Relievers are often a different breed – fiery and eclectic as always. Bedrosian, while not really remembered and with his Cy Young completely forgotten, is one of the more underrated useful relievers of all time. Plus, you can’t ignore that beard, ahem Brian Wilson.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Shane Rawley

Rawley back Rawley frontThe cadence of this card is stunning. We learn that, seven years prior to its printing, Rawley earned his pilot’s license. Then, of his many interests (we assure you they are numerous) he likes to write. That’s pretty cool; writing is a fun thing to do for some people. Then, oh-by-the-way, Rawley also likes flying. Umm no **** Sherlock.

It would stand to reason if a guy was so motivated to get his pilot’s license it would be because he likes flying airplanes. I would imagine that he wasn’t flying commercial jets in the off-season to pick up pocket change. It’s just funny to me how weirdly worded this card is — there are four sentences that have very little connection with one another – and, in actuality, some are not even complete sentences.

Regardless, the ebb and flow of the narrative is kind of like Rawley’s career. In his first four seasons with the Mariners, Rawley would pitch in 159 games and amass 309.1 innings and 182 punch-outs while posting a 3.75 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. He started only five games for the Mariners.

He would then be traded in 1981 to the New York Yankees. In two+ years, Rawley would start 60 games, pitch in relief in 32 others and post a 4.11 ERA and 1.39 WHIP before being traded to the Phillies, for whom he would start 140 games and appear in only five as a reliever.

He’d be finished in the majors after the 1989 season, his first with the Twins, during which he’d start 25 games.

Given his handedness–he was a southpaw–it’s odd that he left the game just two years after being a 17 game winner. You’d think he’d at least get to be a LOOGY out of the pen. Unfortunately, Rawley would exhibit absolutely no platoon splits — righties hit .271/.340/.405 off him, while lefties hit .272/.333/.371.

He clearly had an up and down career – shifting from starter to reliever — lets hope his flying skills weren’t as rocky.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Tim Stoddard & Dennis Rasmussen

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The Yankees had one dynamic and athletic pitching staff in 1987. Tim Stoddard started on the North Carolina State team, which, in 1974, beat Marquette and effectively ended UCLA’s run of seven consecutive NCAA basketball titles.

Ras BackNot to be outdone, Dennis Rasmussen played ball (basket variety) at Creighton. While he was there he played against the immortal Larry Bird (who played for Indiana State) and with Kevin McKenna. McKenna would log 243 NBA games and score 1,320 points. Definitely no slouch.

So how did the pitching staff with the best basketball acumen do? They’d throw 1,446.1 innings, give up 1,475 hits, 542 walks, and 179 HRs. They would also strike-out an even 900 batters, and post a 4.36 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. That’d be good enough for 89 wins and the sixth best ERA. Unfortunately the Tigers and their 4.02 ERA would take the division that year.

stoddard frontStoddard would be a decent help to the cause in 1987, logging 92.2 innings out of the bull-pen and posting a 3.50 ERA and 7.6 K/9 rate – both better than his career average. Apparently, not too long ago, relievers were men who pitched nearly 100 innings a season. In addition, Stoddard is the only man in history to win an NCAA basketball title and a World Series (he did so with the Orioles in 1983).

Before being traded, Rasmussen started 25 games, pitched 146 innings and would post an unfriendly 4.75 ERA. A tall guy at 6’7, Rasmussen would go on to have a fine 1988 campaign (200+ IPs, 3.43 ERA) for the Reds and Padres. However, that’d be his last relatively useful season in the majors.
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Still, before he got traded, I hope he had a chance to post up the 6’7 Stoddard.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Kerry Wood

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I must admit that I’ve always scoffed at Kerry Wood — especially when he came to the big boy league. However, when he was traded to the New York Yankees and I pulled the above card, I simply had to write about him.

In baseball, there are revered names — one of the biggest in George Herman Ruth – otherwise known as the Babe and a litany of other sandlot nicknames. Outside of boozing and chasing skirts, if you are linked to the Babe you are linked to baseball immortality. Quite simply, legends never die.

Anyway, it was shocking to me that, in the history of baseball, Wood and Ruth are the only two players with at least 1,200 innings while allowing fewer than 1,000 hits. Of course, like Wood’s career, all good things must come to an end. If you look at the card closely, you’ll realize that Wood finished the 2009 season with 995 hits allowed. And sure enough, he allowed a few more hits this year to inch over the 1,000 threshold to give the Babe back another solo record.

Regardless, Wood was a real good pitcher for a few years – the heir apparent to Roger Clemens who was the heir apparent to Nolan Ryan. In three of his first five healthy seasons in the majors, Wood had a K/9 rate in double digits. In the 2002 and 2003 seasons, Wood would post a 3.34 ERA, 483 Ks and a 1.22 WHIP. Not bad.

Will his career resemble a glorified Kelvim Escobar? Sort of – but so what. For a couple of years he was absolutely unhittable and he happened to share a record with one of the most hallowed names in all of sports.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Terry Harper

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As previously noted, mining the 1986 Topps set for interesting tidbits hasn’t been overly fruitful — at least I pulled a Ripken All-star card, Clemens, Eddie Murray and Mike Schmidt recently.

Anyway, the Terry Harper card above fits the “stringent” parameters that would allow for a Flip Side posting. I’m a huge baseball fan, in case you couldn’t tell, but I never knew Hammerin’ Hank Aaron had a brother – let alone one who made it to the majors. Heck the internet barely knows – if you search for “Tommie Aaron baseball ref”, Hank’s page comes up first.

Tommie was signed by the, then, Milwaukee Braves as a free agent in 1962. That was eight years and 298 HRs into hank’s career. Tommie would do some decent things in the minors — posting a .285/.333/.439 slash line and stealing 33 bases in 45 tries. The majors would be a (sort of) different story, as Tommie would not succeed (.229/.292/.327) and steal just nine bases in 17 tries.

For his career, Hank would steal 240 bases in 313 tries. He’d steal 28 bases in the 1968 season and never more than nine in a season during the rest of his career. Tommie would steal three bases in 1968 and never another for his career.

Regardless of HR or SB totals, you have to think that one of the greatest memories the brothers have is of September 24, 1968. With Tommie on first and Hank on third, the duo would execute a flawless double steal. Hank, after scoring and wiping the dirt and dust from his uniform, must have looked into the sun across the diamond to see Tommie knocking the dirt and dust from his uniform and smiling back. Outside of back-to-back HRs, a double steal by brothers would be pretty special.

As for Terry Harper? He was just as bad a hitter (.253/.321/.371) and base stealer (37/65) as Tommie. Both would also go 0-1 in their only post-season at bat and achieve a negative WAR for their careers. If only Terry had a brother like Hank…

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Ozzie Virgil

Virgil back Virgil front

I’ve never flown a model airplane – unless we are talking the paper variety in second grade religion class. I made some model airplanes, but mostly got bored when I had to glue all the little pieces together — logistics weren’t my thing. Still, I can think of two scenes that involve flying model airplanes and I imagine you can think of more.

The first is in Rushmore when Max first meets Margaret – maybe I’ve seen that movie too much – but it’s a poignant and understated scene. The second is from the hilarious Modern family when Jay rams Phil in the face — good comedy includes violence — trust me.

Anyway, I feel like Virgil would have enjoyed the later. He’s a stout dude (6’1 180) who caught for part of 11 seasons in the majors (mostly for the Philadelphia Phillies) and was a two-time all-star. Over a two-year span (from 1984-1985), he’d catch 272 games, post a respectable slash line (.254/.330/.433) and hit 37 HRs. In 1987 he hit 27 dingers for the Atlanta Braves.

He would finish his career as a more productive player than his father, Ozzie Virgil, Sr. who would finish his nine-year career with a .231/.263/.331 slash line. Regardless, here’s hoping they shared a few chuckles about the pitchers they caught while flying model airplanes.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Max Venable

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As you likely know, this series started because I bought a bunch of cheap 1987 Topps packs off the internet, opened them and found good cards but, more importantly, interesting nuggets of info on the backs. Let’s just say it’s a good thing I didn’t start with the 1986 set. Man it is totally George Blanda — if there is info, it is usually such-and-such ballplayer collected his first hit on such-and-such date – yuck.

Occasionally there are some “Talkin’ Baseball” sections which seem to be the precursor to SCOOTER, i.e., they are inane. The one you see on the back of Venable is actually not the only one to reference player’s names and palindromes – apparently that was a set-wide motif.

So why did I choose this one out of the myriad of boring palindromes captured forever in the 1986 set? Because Max just happens to be Will Venable’s father. Will got his first full-time action this year for the San Diego Padres in his age-27 season and performed kind of well. In fact, I believe he had a truly bizarre, yet effective season. Sure his 0.1 WAR would suggest otherwise, but he did hit 13 HRs and swipe 29 bases. Maybe he is more of a roto, specifically h2h, player, then real-life, but I see a guy who, if he could stay healthy for 162 games, would put up a 20-30 season. His average and OBP aren’t great, but they aren’t as bad as some other regulars people trot out there.

Still Will will likely have a shorter major league career than his pops. Max played in parts of 12 seasons, finishing with a .241/.302/.345 slash line predominantly for the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants. He only once played in over 100 games and would hit just 18 HRs in his career.

The oddest thing about the father/son combo? They both drew the attentions of the Baltimore Orioles but never played for the organization. In February of 1988, the Orioles signed Max, but released him in March of the same year. On June 7, 2004, the Orioles drafted Will in the 15th round, but would not sign him.

As for old palindrome Eddie Kazak? He’d play parts of five seasons, mostly with the St. Louis Cardinals before being traded to the Reds along with Wally Westlake for Dick Sisler and Virgil Stallcup. Talk about some interesting (old-timey) names. Kazak would appear in just 13 games for the Reds and bat .067. Those were the last hacks he took in the big leagues. Oddly enough, Dick is the son of baseball legend George Sisler.

Baseball is often described as the great bridge between fathers and sons. It’s also a game where just showing up can land you in the (obscure) record books…just ask Kazak who was a Red for 13 games.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

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