May 23, 2017

Inkquest: Dave Hollins, 1993 Phillies

Baseball Biography:  
Dave Hollins was a third baseman who played from 1990-2002 with the Phillies, Red Sox, Twins, Mariners, Angels, Blue Jays, and Indians.  The majority of his career was spent with the Phillies (1990-1995, 2002).   In my memory, he was one of the first successful Rule 5 selections by the Phillies in 1990.  His skills didn't really develop until 1992 when he received his first opportunity to start full-time after the departure of Charlies Hayes. 

He then embarked on a 2 year stretch, in which he had >.800 OPS, while hitting a combined 45 HR from 1992-1993.  He led the league in getting hit by pitch in 1992.   He did not match those two years over the rest of his career, though he did have good seasons in 1996 and 1997 with 16 HR each season with OPS+ ~100.  After that, he moved from team to team and eventually retired in 2002 after getting bitten by a spider, which exacerbated conditions of his diabetes.

Unfortunately, he is probably best known outside of Philadelphia fans for being the other side of the trade that sent David Ortiz from the Twins to the Red Sox in 1996.  

Role on the 1993 Phillies: He was the primary third baseman and a staple in the middle of the lineup, batting cleanup for his starts.  He batted .273/.372/.442, good for a 119 OPS+ , with 18 HR (4th on the team), 93 RBI (2nd on the team), and 104 Runs (2nd on the team(.  He also made his lone all-star appearance.  Hollins was the quiet intensity representative of that roster, standing in the batter's box with his bat straight up in the air before unleashing his swing.  He had a .910 OPS in the 1993 NLCS with 2 HR, but only managed one extra base hit in the World Series, though he maintained a .414 OBP.

Card Facts: This is a 1996 Leaf Signature  autograph series card. This set was distributed in four card packs with 1 auto per pack, the first brand with an autograph in every pack (SRP $9.99).  I remember scouring the internet for these in 1996; packs averaged between $20-25 and most common bronze autographs were easily sold for $3-5.    

Apr 23, 2017

Stat Anomaly: 20 Losses, Roger Craig in 1963

This decade is passing quickly, as we are in 2017, without an appearance from the always elusive 20 game loser.  In 2016, for the first time since 2004, there was at least one 19 game loser, both respected pitchers, "Big Game" James Shields and Chris Archer.  Chris Archer was even drafted in the top 65 of my last fantasy draft, so the expectations for repeating his record are not really being considered.

There is one pitcher in the annals of modern (modern= since Topps existed) baseball, that turned convention on its head and excelled at accomplishing this most elusive accomplishment....of sorts.

Roger Craig was a league average pitcher for his career, yet ended up with two of the most spectacularly horrible W-L records back-to-back.  Such is the fate of one who toiled for the Amazins' in those formative years.

The awfulness of the 1963 Mets is never noted because it was only the 3rd worst team of those early Mets years with 111 losses.  The team had one eventual HOFer (Duke Snider), and ended up being outscored by ~250 runs.  Roger Craig pitched a team-leading 236 innings that year with a 92 ERA+ and somehow finished 5-22.  Was there any conceivable way that he could have avoided this fate?

In a word....yes.

How's this for run support?  He had 5 starts, in which he allowed 1 run over 8 innings or more and that resulted in a loss.  He had 4 more  quality starts, allowing 2 runs or less, with greater than 6 innings pitched that also resulted in a loss.  There were five 1-0 losses and two 2-1 losses in total.

On a league average team (that would have scored 117 runs than the 1963 Mets), a 5-22 record definitely would not have happened.    This even didn't happen on the 1963 Colt 45s, who scored even less than the Mets (Ken Johnson had 17 losses with a 119 ERA+).

Based on the evidence, the most likely reason for his record with the Mets is that Roger Craig was cursed by a fortune teller in Queens after losing his luggage and going into the wrong storefront.  Another mystery solved.