Oct 28, 2014

Stat Anomaly: 20 Losses, Art Ditmar in 1956

The first thought that comes to mind when staring at this card is that "how can the 1956 World Series Yankees have a 20 loss pitcher on their team?"  Well, it turns out that he wasn't on the Yankees, but on the Kansas City Athletics, the team that traded the Yankees everybody.

From a time period of 1955-1960, the Athletics sent the Yankees in trade players such as Clete Boyer, Ralph Terry, Bob Cerv, and Roger Maris.  Art Ditmar was traded in the offseason in a massive 5 for 7 trade;  I guess they saw something in the previous season, in which he lost 22 games with a middling (98 ERA+) ERA of 4.42.  (The 1950s were actually quite a high scoring era.)  Let's see if there are any glimpses, which led to the improved performance from 1957-1960, including a league-leading WHIP in 1959?

It looks like Ditmar was partly a victim of overwork.  He had 34 starts, 44 total appearances, 14 complete games, and a save over a career-high 254 innings.   Only one of those relief appearances led to a loss, though there were a couple blown saves (note: not an official stat in 1956) thrown in there.

Ditmar had what would be considered 5 hard-luck losses.  These are classified for this purpose as pitching no less than 7 innings and allowing 2 earned runs or less.  The biggest hard luck loss by far was on August 3 when he pitched 10.1 innings and allowed 2 runs on 9 hits with 8 K......and lost.  There's no record of how many pitches were thrown, but with 41 batters faced, it probably bordered on 150 pitches, not that anyone kept track of that in 1956.

Ditmar also had a few disaster outings, 8 starts in which he did not surpass the 4th inning and one immemorable start in which he allowed 10 runs over 6.1 innings against Boston.   A couple of those disaster starts seemed like planned pulls though.  There were only 3 runs or less allowed by the 3rd inning and still he was pulled.  This was before the utilization of full bullpens, so it's curious as to what the manager (1948 pennant winner Lou Boudreau) was thinking.

Art Ditmar joined the ranks of this stat anomaly with an eclectic 1956 season.