Posts Tagged ‘old hoss radburn’

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Schoolboy Rowe/Chris Pittaro

pittarpobpittarpfrlontWe’ve grown lazy as a society…it’s clear. Just look at what we call athletes and celebrities who are dating one another, you can see it in the inventiveness (or lack there of) of our nicknames. We’ve had two LTs in the last 20 years and typically just shorten names to V-Jax, or D-Jax, etc.

Quite simply (and I think I’ve written this before), I long for the days of players like Schoolboy Rowe who liquefied greenies and chewed tobacco. In short, when men were men and pitchers hit like Babe Ruth (well not exactly). According to Wikipedia, Rowe got the nickname while playing for a men’s team as a 15-year-old. Now that is how your earn a nickname!

You have to admire the back of Chris Pittaro’s card for more than just Lynnwood Thomas Rowe’s nickname. We get a nice factoid on Rowe’s career and the history of the Detroit Tigers as Rowe was the first Tigers pitcher to hit a grand salami.

Rowe was actually a very good hitter by non-Micah Owings-standards. Rowe hit 16 HRs – that’s tied for the 15th most all time with Jim Kaat and Jim Tobin.

He wasn’t just Ryan Howard with the bat, he had a little Ichiro in him — only 56 pitchers have ever won 20 games and also hit over .300 in the same season. Rowe is one of them. He did it in 1934, and, while that is a looooong time ago, most of the seasons occurred before 1900. In fact, the feat has only happened 11 times since Rowe did it — most recently by Mike Hampton in 1999.

Speaking of the number 16 — Rowe once tallied 16 consecutive wins in 1934, which is tied for the 12th longest streak of consecutive wins. Not surprisingly, Old Hoss Radburn had 18 consecutive victories in 1884. Meanwhile Clemens had 20 consecutive wins from 1998-1999. I don’t remember this being a big deal at the time, perhaps because I was an Orioles fan and hated Clemens, but it is pretty cool and one underrated Clemens non-bat throwing/country music singer mistress factoid. When you look at win streaks that were contained in just one year, Rowe’s streak is the 7th longest in history.

Schoolboy really lived up to his name as his best seasons happened while he was relatively young. During the 1934-1936 seasons, Rowe was 24-26-yeards-old respectively and averaged 20 complete games, a 3.87 ERA, and 1.28 WHIP. He would win 62 games over those three seasons. Unfortunately, like many of his generation, he missed significant time during peak years for World War II. In the season directly before the war, Rowe pitched 199 innings and posted a 2.94 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. In the season after his military service, Rowe pitched 136 innings and posted a 2.12 ERA and 0.98 WHIP.

No longer a schoolboy, Rowe would call it quits three years later at the age of 39 and would die at 50. His life in professional baseball spanned some 24+ years, his life outside of baseball about 26 years.

As for Chris Pittaro, he was an infielder who had less HRs than Rowe. In fact he never hit a major league HR. He’d only play one year in Detroit and get 68 major league plate appearances in 1985. He was traded to Minnesota the following year and would play sparingly over the next two seasons before leaving major league baseball for good. If only he had an Edna on his side…

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Bob Tewksbury

tewks backtewksfI love the back of this card. It reminds me of Bob Ross immediately. It’s eloquent, succinct and simple: Tewks paints both canvas and the outside corner.

And it’s really true! Tewks has two of the 16 best seasons in terms of walking the fewest batters per 9 innings. In 1992 he posted the 8th best ever (tied with Greg Maddux): 0.77. This effort was behind Cy Young, Christy Mathewson (twice) and Carlos Silva (who had the best at 0.43). Tewks also owns the 16th best season tied with Cy Young at 0.84. When he finished up his career, he had a 1.5 BB/9 rate – that is 22nd all time and slightly better than Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Old Hoss Radbourn (follow his ghost on Twitter!), and Greg Maddux. Amazing.

It’s kind of remarkable that, given his ability to control the zone, Tewks wasn’t a more productive pitcher. He got his first taste of the majors at 25 in 1986. He threw 130.1 innings for the New York Yankees that year and posted a 3.31 ERA and 1.34 WHIP — good enough for 2.2 WAR – not bad.

However he and his promise would be traded the next year in a deal for Steve Trout. The Cubs wouldn’t benefit much from the deal, as Tewks pitched just 21.1 innings for them before becoming a free agent.

The St. Louis Cardinals astutely snapped him up. While he pitched only 30 innings for the Cards his first season (1989), from 1990-1994, he averaged a 3.49 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 188 IPs, a 1.1 BB/9 rate and a 3.41 K/BB rate. He was worth 10.6 wins above a replacement player during that time.

His worst year was his walk year for the Cards. It was the beginning of his decline, as Tewks was 34. He pitched poorly for the Rangers and Padres in 1995 and 1996 respectively. He had a minor bounce back from 1997-1998 for the Minnesota Twins, averaging a 4.49 ERA, 158 IPs, a 1.34 WHIP and 1.4 BB/9 rate.

However that would end his career. His last five seasons saw BB/9 rates above 1.2 which made him an ordinary pitcher compared to his back-to-back .8 BB/9 seasons.

Well, he wasn’t exactly ordinary – clearly he was as adroit with the plate as he was with a pallet…I mean his (art)work was featured in Sports Illustrated and you know what they do with paint!

Oh and he was a fielding artist as well – he owns the 21st best fielding percentage by a pitcher (min. 1,500 IPs): .980. He is tied with Tom Glavine and Scott McGregor.

Pretty interesting, if for the Bob Ross links alone.

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