Friday, October 26, 2012

The Tendency That Needed to Change

Watching Gregor Blanco roam the neatly manicured lawns of AT&T Park made me think about Giant outfielders of the past.  Large in part due to the quote by a Philadelphia writer who said "2/3 of the world is covered by water while the other 1/3 is covered by Garry Maddox.

Unfortunately for Giants' fans their team in those days didn't really have a plan.  Maddox, a six-game gold glover was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies for Willie Montanez. The year before (1974) they sold Dave Kingman to the New York Mets for $150,000. Zero plan.

From 1974 to 1977 their win/loss percentage was under .500
1978 they were at .549
1979 and 1980 back under .500
1981 and 1982 they inched over the .500 mark.
1983 to 1985 back in the familiar spot of under .500 baseball at Candlestick.  And you know, like I know, Candlestick got much of the blame.

Along came Roger Craig and the mindset was about to change.  They still didn't have the quality brass in order but they were finding more creative ways to win rather than settle for losing.

Enough of that.  I like where we are now.  We have the solid organization with good people running the team.  Brian Sabean has a cast of people who actually know how to evaluate talent.  Their draft picks may have always been good (Maddox and Kingman were both number one picks) but they were carelessly dealt away or got little to nothing in return.  In other words, Maddox and Kingman had better careers with other teams than the Giants.

Nowadays the brass picks pitchers.  Throw in a position player or two but for the most part their strategy is get the best pitcher you can.  In the NFL or NBA sometimes you draft the best player available.  For the Giants that best player is usually and has consistently been a pitcher. 

Hey, I like that they drafted Buster Posey and some of the kids in their farm system show potential aside from the pitching.  I mean where would the Giants be without Brandon Crawford or Brandon Belt or Hector Sanchez? Or Pablo E. Sandoval, signed as an amateur free agent in 2003?  (Note on Pablo. Per the Baseball-Reference Pablo's nicknames are:  Kung Fu Panda, Fat Ichiro, Round Mound of Pound and Little Money.  Little Money is in reference to Benjie Molina being called Big Money.  But if the Panda continues on his tear in the World Series he may no longer be Little Money or Fat Ichiro.  He'll be Fat Check Ichiro. And while I guess it's insulting to be called Fat Ichiro that may very well be a tribute to Pablo's ability to hit a baseball.)

Because baseball is all about the statistics I was surfing the baseball almanac and baseball reference and came up with this little tidbit about something that happened in the 1920 World Series.  An infielder named Bill Wambsganss turned in the first unassisted triple play in World Series history.  He had a teammate, Elmer Smith who also hit the Series' first ever grand slam.  And the winning pitcher of Wambsganss and Smith's Cleveland Indians was Jim "Sarge" Bagby.  He smacked a homer, pitched 9 innings, while giving up 13 hits only 1 run was able to cross the plate.  Back in those days, the pitcher truly was the best athlete.  But I must list Sarge's stats for that regular season to show the disparity of how the game was played in the Live Ball Era as opposed to today's "pitch count" brand of baseball.  Sarge Won-30 Lost-12  ERA: 2.89  Started 48 games. Completed 30 of them. Throw in 3 shutouts just to roundout a heckuva season.  30 complete games?  Pitchers don't do that in a career anymore and if a pitcher did he'd probably be handed a bus ticket to Cooperstown, NY.

(statistical information provided by and

Kevin Marquez