Jun 10, 2012

Stat Anomaly: 20 Losses, Harry Byrd, 1953

Harry Byrd is pictured as a New York Yankee here on his 1954 Bowman card, but the feat of achieving 20 losses in a season in 1953 occurred when he was a member of the Philadelphia Athletics.   The AL rookie of the year award winner in 1952, can this be attributed to something more than the dreaded sophomore slump?

1952 was a great year for the rookie pitcher, finishing 9th in the AL in WAR with a 15-15 record with a 3.31 ERA (119 ERA+) with 3 shutouts in 228 innings.  Unfortunately, it seemed that everything that could go wrong, did, on the surface in 1953.    He led the league in batters hit (14) and earned runs allowed (145), though he finished 8th in the league in K/9 (4.6) and did face the 5th most batters.

It seems the regretful fate of 20 losses was unavoidable for Byrd in 1953.  There were 4 losses in which he pitched 7 innings or more and allowed 2 or fewer runs over the course of the season.  Conversely, there was a game where he walked 10 batters and got the win.  It seems his performance dropped severely after the all-star break.   As of July 18,  he was 10-10 with a 4.13 ERA. He finished 11-20 with a 5.51 ERA with only 3 of his 11 complete games after that point.  There were also 7 starts after that point in which he did not make it through the 5th inning.  The interspersed relief appearances did not help his apparent fatigue since he allowed 8 runs in 3 innings in 3 appearances between starts.  Left handed hitters had a 120 OPS+ hitting against him, suggesting a platoon split and Connie Mack Stadium, especially, did not agree with him, pitching to a 6.88 ERA in 18 starts.  He also had 6 starts with only 2 days of rest (instead of the normal 3) and was 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA.

At the end of the season, he left the penultimate Philadelphia Athletic team to join the Yankees in a massive 6 for 5 trade with the most recognizable name for me being Vic Power....just in time to join the Yankees for 1 of 2 years in the '50s for which they were not in the World Series.

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