Herein lies the second installment in which I tried to find the one batter and pitcher who had a slash line which best matched the all-time numbers for the team they played for. (Read Part 1 here.) Last week was the National League; today we travel to the land where pitchers haven’t hit since 1972 and Frank Robinson presides.
Hopefully you read Part 1. If not, here are the pertinent paragraphs which best explain this exercise.
This only includes the years a player spent with one franchise. If Willie Mays‘s slash line during his final two seasons with the Mets had lined up perfectly with their all-time slash line, then he would be “Mr. Met,” even though we all know that such a designation is probably not what Mays should be known for. (Not to give any answers away, but Willie Mays is, in fact, not Mr. Met.)
Often, it was not easy to choose between several players. To break a tie, I took into account the number of plate appearances (or innings pitched) for a team. That is to say, 1,000 trumped 10. If that didn’t help, I looked at who played more recently. That might not be fair but the average reader can likely contextualize Marco Scutaro better than Toots Coyne.
And if neither time spent with a franchise nor a little recency bias helped break a tie, I looked at OPS+. Speaking of OPS+ or wRC+, I was not too worried about adjusting for era. We can all agree that a .260/.325/.380 slash line likely meant something different in 1909 versus 1999, but finding a player who matches the Padres’ all-time wRC+ (Alan Wiggins!) is neither hard nor much fun. Finding a player who has close to an identical slash line is.
Lastly, all team stats were current as of Sunday evening and in some cases were built on the scaffolding of over 100 years of statistics. Therefore, expect the numbers to remain pretty stable, even if you don’t read this column until next month.
On to the AL, where we bump into a man who worsened Earl Weaver’s smoking habit, a Hall of Famer, and a chap named Yam.
Batting: .259/.327/.382 (700,759 PA)
Pitching: 4.02 ERA/3.98 FIP/12.3 K% (136,600 IP)
- Davey Johnson, 1965-1972: .259/.330/.378 (3,929 PA)
- Scott McGregor, 1976-1988: 3.99/4.06/10.1% (2,140.2 IP)
Davey Johnson is best known as the skipper of one of the most colorful World Series winners (and arguably the best NL team of the modern era), the 1986 New York Mets. But he was also a pretty good player himself. Retiring with almost 5,500 plate appearances to his name, he had a career 112 wRC+ and accumulated nearly 30 wins above replacement.
Scott McGregor is a former All-Star (1981) and was on a World Series winner in 1983. In fact, he pitched a shutout in the decisive Game 5. And here’s an irrefutable fact: Every team should be required to return to whatever logo they were using in 1983. Those were peak logo times.
McGregor last pitched on April 27, 1988, and allowed four runs in 3.2 innings in a 7-6 loss to the Twins. It was the Orioles’ 20th game of the season and also their 20th loss. They would finally win a game two nights later – their 22nd game of the season – in a 9-0 romp of the White Sox.
Boston Red Sox
Batting: .267/.337/.398 (708,524 PA)
Pitching: 3.90 ERA/3.80 FIP/13.1 K% (163,719.2 IP)
Mr. Red Sox
- Jim Piersall, 1950-1958: .259/.330/.378 (3,929 PA)
- Dennis Eckersley, 1978-1984, 1998: 3.92/3.91/13.4% (1,371.2 IP)
Jim Piersall was a two-time All-Star (1954, 1956), and won two Gold Gloves (1958, 1961) for his play in center field too. He died almost exactly a year ago, after fighting a lifelong battle with bipolar disorder which was depicted in the 1957 film, Fear Strikes Out, starring Anthony Perkins and Karl Malden.
Unless I’m mistaken, Dennis Eckersley is the first and only Hall of Famer (inducted in 2004) of all the Misters. A lot of that is likely due to his transition from starter into perhaps the first example of the modern day closer, which occurred well after his formative years in Boston. But he was a decent starter too, and made a couple of All-Star games (1977, 1982) while in that role.
Chicago White Sox
Batting: .260/.328/.375 (700,275 PA)
Pitching: 3.77 ERA/3.81 FIP/12.5 K% (164,032 IP)
Mr. White Sox
What’s left to say about Yam Yaryan that hasn’t already been written? Turns out a lot. There’s not a ton to find online about Yam, except that his real name was Clarence, and that he once hit a walk-off home run against Cleveland on September 7, 1922, as detailed by the blog South Side Sox.
Related to Dizzy but not Mike, and likely better known for his time with the North Siders, Steve Trout spent his first five seasons in MLB with the White Sox and was a perfectly fine starter while putting up numbers that closely resemble that of the entire franchise.
Batting: .266/.332/.391 (703,875 PA)
Pitching: 3.84 ERA/3.79 FIP/13.2 K% (163,874 IP)
- Tony Bernazard, 1984-1987: .264/.334/.391 (2,036 PA)
- Dave Hoskins, 1953-1954: 3.81/3.88/11.0% (139.1 IP)
Tony Bernazard was for the most part an above-average hitter during his time in Cleveland, but for the 1984 season when he had a 62 wRC+, aided by an 0-for-44 stretch which tied a record for position players. Included in this streak was a 19-inning game against Detroit where Bernazard went hitless in nine plate appearances. Five days later he went hitless in eight plate appearances during a 16-inning game against Baltimore. Poor Tony.
I had never heard of Dave Hoskins until researching this column and it turns out he was something of a trailblazer himself. He was the first African-American player in the Texas league and, according to SABR, made history in 1953 when he pitched against Satchel Paige, marking the first time both starting pitchers in an MLB game were African-American. That is a cool and fun fact.
Batting: .266/.335/.395 (707,447 PA)
Pitching: 3.98 ERA/3.94 FIP/12.9 K% (163,886 IP)
- Bill Bruton, 1961-1964: .266/.336/.396 (2,228 PA)
- Milt Wilcox, 1977-1985: 3.91/3.99/13.4% (1,495.1 IP)
Considered by some to possibly be the fastest person in baseball in the 1950s, Bill Bruton spent most of his career with the Milwaukee Braves, and hit a walk-off home run in just his second MLB game in what was the Braves’ first season in Milwaukee in 1953. He is also the best Mr. Tiger out there as that slash line is an almost perfect match.
Milt Wilcox came within one out of a perfect game in 1983 against the White Sox before Jerry Hairston, Sr. ruined everything with a single. The sting wouldn’t last long since the very next year he won 17 games for a juggernaut Tigers squad which won the World Series. Wilcox pitched six innings and got the win in Game 3.
Batting: .254/.322/.383 (343,441 PA)
Pitching: 3.82 ERA/3.73 FIP/17.2 K% (80,721.2 IP)
- Phil Garner, 1981-1987: .260/.323/.389 (2,821 PA)
- Travis Driskill, 2005, 2007: 3.86/3.78/18.2% (7 IP)
One of my favorites so far. Here we have a player in Phil Garner who not only had a decent career with the Astros and was a member of their 1986 (old) NL West championship team, but he also managed the club quite successfully for four seasons, which included a couple of postseason births as well as the club’s first trip to the World Series (2005). And he’s paired with Travis Driskill, who totaled 7 IP for Houston in ’05 and ’07, with a year in the minors in between. That is the smallest sample of all of the Misters, but hey, the rules are the rules and Driskill matched up better than anyone I could find.
Kansas City Royals
Batting: .265/.325/.396 (299,502 PA)
Pitching: 4.22 ERA/4.14 FIP/14.7 K% (70,102.2 IP)
- Félix José, 1993-1995: .269/.324/.394 (974 PA)
- Roberto Hernández, 2001-2002: 4.21/4.09/16.9% (119.2 IP)
First thing worth noticing is that the Royals are closing in on 300,000 plate appearances for the franchise. Is that exciting? I dunno.
Regarding their collection of Misters, José played all over the globe during his professional career, from Mexico to Korea to indy ball in Schaumburg, Illinois, and his best MLB seasons were probably spent in St. Louis, but he truly epitomized the Royals during his few seasons in the city of barbecue and jazz.
Hernández, meanwhile, played all over MLB – 11 different franchises, in fact, between 1991 and 2007 (he is not the younger Hernández formerly known as Fausto Carmona). At one time he held the Rays record for saves (43) in a season. And though his stay in Kansas City was brief, he might as well have been their pitcher for every inning since the franchise’s inception in 1969 and no one would have been the wiser.
Los Angeles Angels
Batting: .258/.324/.389 (348,915 PA)
Pitching: 3.95 ERA/4.06 FIP/15.8 K% (82,026.1 IP)
From an OPS standpoint, Venable is almost spot on with the Angels dating back to 1961. Venable is probably better known for his athletic family tree. His son Will had a long career in MLB and is currently coaching for the Cubs, and one of his other sons, Winston, played briefly with the Chicago Bears.
One of the few active players, Jason Vargas was only in Anaheim for a single year, and at first glance nothing remarkable happened while he was there. But take another look and you’ll see that his FIP in 2013 matched up pretty well with the Angels. (Fine, even on second glance nothing exactly remarkable happened.)
Batting: .263/.330/.378 (702,835 PA)
Pitching: 3.99 ERA/3.86 FIP/12.4 K% (163,499 IP)
- Mike Cubbage, 1976-1980: .266/.336/.378 (1,909 PA)
- Walt Masterson, 1939-1949, 1952-1953: 3.98/3.95/11.3% (1,347 IP)
Walt Masterson was never actually a Twin but rather a Washington Senator. There is also this wonderful photo of him on his Wikipedia page.
New York Yankees
Batting: .267/.339/.405 (707,706 PA)
Pitching 3.65 ERA/3.73 FIP/13.6 K% (163,664.1 IP)
When undertaking this project, I was curious if it would be easy to spot the so-called good teams solely by looking at their historical stats. And when talking about the Yankees, it is. Just look at those run prevention numbers dating back over 100 years as compared to their AL peers. So I can’t tell you how much it pleases me that the most historical and successful franchise in MLB history (and it’s not close) are represented by two guys who I must concede I had never heard of before. That’s an indictment on me and not them, to be sure. For one, while Kemp wasn’t a Yankee for long, he had a 110 wRC+ while in pinstripes. That’s pretty good. And Pat Dobson was a strong enough pitcher in 1974 (3.07 ERA in 281 IP) that he earned a couple of MVP votes. That’s pretty good, too.
Also, the Yankees have won 40 pennants, but none when Kemp and Dobson played for them. It wasn’t just you, Don.
Batting: .259/.328/.382 (698,819 PA)
Pitching: 3.98 ERA/3.96 FIP/12.3 K% (163,174 IP)
The rare instance in which both Misters played together. Neither Bob Martyn nor Bud Daley ever made the trip out west with the franchise, rather they were Athletics of the Kansas City variety. According to his Wikipedia page, following his short MLB career (1957-1959), Martyn spent 23 years at a company which made measurement devices such as oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, and video and mobile test protocol equipment.
Bud’s real name is Leavitt. He had a longer MLB career (10 seasons) than Martyn and was an All-Star with the Athletics in 1959 and 1960, even though he allowed the most earned runs in the AL in 1960.
Batting: .260/.326/.405 (251,755 PA)
Pitching: 4.33 ERA/4.30 FIP/16.4 K% (58,656 IP)
- Michael Morse, 2005-2008, 2013: .264/.326/.403 (644 PA)
- Calvin Jones, 1991-1992: 4.33/.4.29/19.4% (108 IP)
When I think of Michael Morse, I mostly think of the slugger from his Washington days and that’s probably the best version there ever was of Morse. He came up with Seattle and had a second stint with the team in 2013, and during these years he put together a line that sums up the franchise. And remember last season when Hunter Strickland plunked Bryce Harper and a brawl with flying helmets and flowing hair ensued? During that fracas, Morse collided with teammate Jeff Samardzija and suffered a concussion. He hasn’t played since. Not all baseball brawls are harmless.
Calvin Jones only spent two seasons in MLB – the two seasons noted above – and he managed to epitomize a franchise. There’s not a whole lot else to say because not a lot has been written on Mr. Jones but let me be the first to congratulate him on being Mr. Mariner.
Tampa Bay Rays
Batting: .256/.326/.403 (125,696 PA)
Pitching: 4.39 ERA/4.42 FIP/18.3 K% (29,316.2 IP)
- Wil Myers, 2013-2014: .258/.324/.400 (734 PA)
- Dan Wheeler, 1999-2001, 2007-2010: 4.32/4.49/20.5% (268.2 IP)
The youngest franchise in the AL (the high slugging and K-rate is a good indicator) is represented by Wil Myers, who had two polar-opposite seasons in Tampa, which put together made him the ultimate Ray. There’s also career reliever Dan Wheeler, who had two separate stints in Tampa and even married the daughter of Rays play-by-play broadcaster Dewayne Staats, solidifying his status here.
Batting: .260/.326/.403 (350,514 PA)
Pitching: 4.26 ERA/4.18 FIP/15.1 K% (81,626.2 IP)
Ramón Vázquez spent nine seasons in MLB, and retired in 2011 after running out of suitors with a WAR total barely above the Kozma-line. In other words, an easily forgettable name and face, but the idea here is not to discriminate against these types but rather seeks them out and celebrate them. And so it is, Ramón Vázquez – Mr. Ranger.
Don Stanhouse is a name I swear I didn’t make up. For proof, just scan the roster from the 1979 All-Star game in Seattle and you’ll bump into Don. There’s also a wonderful paragraph on his Wikipedia page:
God bless, Earl Weaver.
Toronto Blue Jays
Batting: .261/.327/.417 (252,111 PA)
Pitching: 4.22 ERA/4.25 FIP/16.2 K% (58,791.2 IP)
Mr. Blue Jays
In a way we saved the best for last. Ernie Whitt spent over a decade in Toronto – he was an inaugural member of the franchise – and his 3,977 plate appearances are the most for all AL Misters. And he ranks tenth in franchise history in WAR for position players. I didn’t check but I can’t imagine anyone else recognized here ranking higher with their respective franchise.
Two-time All-Star (1996, 2000) Al Leiter was no slouch either although his best days were still ahead of him when he was in Toronto. You can now find him on MLB Network breaking down the highlights of the day all the while having no idea that he is Mr. Blue Jay. Perhaps someone could kindly let him know.
That concludes the Misters of the AL and NL. My goal was to find a perfect match but it was not meant to be. Thank you for reading anyway. As noted in Part 1, if there is a player who you feel better capture the statistics for a franchise, please feel free to share in the comment section below. Be sure to show your work.
This post would not be possible without such great resources like FanGraphs Leaderboards and the Play Index from Baseball Reference. Also, special thanks to Darius Austin, Dan Epstein, Brandon Lee, Ken Maeda, Andrew Patrick, and Nick Strangis for research assistance.
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