Friday, July 28, 2017

They Must Be In The Front Row! : Mid-May 1956 Replay Mini-Update

7 homers in May so far for Frank.
The Braves continue to lead the world, the Great Shutout Plague abates, and the Pirates manage to start scoring (a few) runs. Here's my 1956 NL replay through May 15th.

MIL  20-5  ---
BRK  17-10  4
CIN  16-10  4.5
STL  13-13  7.5
PHI  10-14  9.5
NY  11-17  10.5 
PIT  9-18  12
CHI  8-17  12

Except for Milwaukee and Brooklyn being flip-flopped, my teams are in the exact spots in the standings that their actual counterparts finished in.  

"Watch me win the game!"
Braves--Milwaukee continues to steamroller the league, going 11-2 so far in the month. The only speed bump was two straight losses at Cincinnati, but the Braves came back and swept a doubleheader the next day. The injury bug has bitten a bit, with Bruton, Crandall and Covington out, but even with Joe Adcock returning to earth, it doesn't seem to slow this squad. The team enjoyed a pair of walk-off hits from unlikely heroes Felix Mantilla and Danny "The Irish Cop" O'Connell.  

Gill Man knocked in 5 against the Cubs.
Dodgers--The Bums started the month horribly, dropping 6 of 7, but have since reeled off 7 wins in a row. Superannuated infielder Pee Wee Reese, who couldn't buy a hit in April, is a .300 hitter in May, and contributed an 11th inning walk-off single against St. Louis. Jackie Robinson, pressed into every day duty by an injury to Ransom Jackson, has hit a solid .300 as well, while Gil "Gill Man" Hodges and Roy Campanella have provided plenty of muscle.  

The kid just might stick.
Reds--Rookie sensation Frank Robinson has socked 7 dingers so far in May, giving him 9 for the season and the team lead. He also has 5 doubles, 14 rbi and 15 runs scored in the month.  Reds fans have already forgotten last year's left field platoon tandem of Stan Palys and George Thurman! Joining the young star with 14 rbi in May is Big Klu, who continues to hit over .400 for the season. "I'm Ichiro!" he crowed, pooh-poohing his meager 2 home runs. On May 8th against New York, the Rhinelanders exploded for a 21-2 destruction of the visiting Giants. Robinson drove home 6, and even pitcher Brooks Lawrence managed to score 4 times. 

Cardinals--Stan Musial shows no sign of slowing down, as he has knocked home 16 tallies and scored 14 himself in May while slugging 10 x-base hits. Ken Boyer has chipped in with 15 rbi. Hitting hasn't been what's keeping the Cardinals treading water. However, GM Frank "Trader" Lane has already jettisoned disappointing starter Harvey "The Stupid Little Kitten" Haddix and has more deals in the works. However, his recent acquisitions of crap utility men Bobby Morgan and Grady Hatton seem perplexing at best. 

He gets the max for the minimum at TJ Maxx.
Phillies--For some reason, the Phillies found it necessary to trade half their rotation to St. Louis for. . . . The Stupid Little Kitten. Why? Goddess knows. Gone are effective artifact Murry Dickson and stingy anchor man Herm Wehmeier. Arrived, in addition to Haddix, are two crap relievers. Whee. Causing further worries in Philadelphia is the continued non-production of Del Ennis, who hit 1 homer in April and still sits goggling at it and refusing to hit any more. There was a little bit of good news, though. Robin Roberts notched his first win of the year and faced only the minimum 27 batters in destroying the Pirates 10-0 on the 11th. The Bucs did have three runners, but hit into one double play and the other two got caught bumbling around between bases and were tagged out. 

He can even stand on his own shoulder!
Giants--Hard times have befallen the Giants following their very presentable April. A dismal 3-11 log in May has sunk them to sixth place. Willie Mays is 22-for-52 in the month with 5 HR, but he can't do it alone. April basher Hank Thompson has turned into a May pipsqueak, and Bill White, dominant last month, is merely serviceable so far in May. 

They're two, two, two mints in one!
Pirates--After suffering through being shut out a whopping 11 times on the season, the Buccos seem to have finally gotten the knack of scraping up a run or two every now and then, but they still stink. What seemed to snap them out of their offensive coma was a 3-run inside-the-park homer by little Eddie O'Brien, one half of the Pirates' twin pairing at the end of the bench along with brother Johnny. It was the league's 2nd such blast of the year, along with one by Whitey Lockman of N.Y. (For the record, in over 550 major league ab's, Eddie never hit a single home run. Johnny hit 4. "I owe it all to the Orsino Board!" he crowed to assembled reporters.) Still, it's been a circus of incompetence in Pittsburgh. To wit: they have been unsuccessful in 11 out of 12 steal attempts. Throw in clean-up hitter Dale Long's failure to drive in even ONE run so far in May, and you see why they are virtually tied for last.

Cubs--Ah the lovable losers, those Cubs, etcetera etcetera. Take it from me, they'll never win a pennant! What they did have in early May '56 was two walk-off hits from Dodger reject Eddie Miksis and Giants cast-off Monte Irvin. What, you want more? There IS no more!

See you at the end of May for leaders and all of that. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

1956 NL End Of April Report

April is completed in my new APBA baseball project, the 1956 National League. It's been kind of a surprising month in some ways, and a lot of fun to send these old players back onto the field. I was only a year old in 1956 and so most of these players are new to me, and my 1956 Baseball Register is getting a work out!

The most surprising thing--and one I am not very thrilled about--is the preponderance of shutouts in the early going. I have played 50 games and 21 of them have ended in shutouts. Part of this can be attributed to top starters going more often at the beginning, what with the rotations being set for Opening Day, and the frequent off days. Also, I am still learning the players and doodling around with the line-ups. But 42% shutouts? (My 1969 NL replay started out with an avalanche of errors, and I was worried about that, but over the length of the replay, it came out right on the money. So, maybe this is an aberration, too.) By contrast, there have only been 9 games decided by one run, and only 2 extra inning games. (Both went into extras tied at 0!) But for all of the zeroes, there was only 1 low-hit game, a 2-hitter by Bob Friend on Opening Day. 

Lou Burdette: 3 starts, 3 shutouts!
Milwaukee (9-3, 0 gb)  The Braves shot out of the gate like gangbusters, winning 9 of their first 10, and riding unbelievably good starting pitching. The team e.r.a. is a microscopic 1.18--well over a run better than any other team. Braves chuckers completed 10 of 12 starts (again well ahead of the league) and tossed a whopping 6 blank jobs, allowing only 16 runs against total. Del Crandall and Joe Adcock paced the offense with a 5 and a 6 rbi game respectively (leader board to follow team reports) while Spahn and Burdette headed the staff. In a total 50's move, the Braves did not even attempt a stolen base so far.

Gil thought the rbi's would just never come.
Brooklyn (9-4, 1/2 gb)  The Dodgers twirled 5 blanks of their own, headed by Roger Craig and 4-game winner Don Newcombe, who had a little luck in the form of booming Dodger bats. Brooklyn is second in the league in batting average (.252) and leads in doubles with 29. Sandy Amoros and Duke Snider paced the attack. Jim Gilliam is always on base, and third sacker Ransom Jackson did his share. Veteran shortstop Pee Wee Reese struggled to get above .100, and legendary Jackie Robinson has been relegated to utility duty in his final season, but is hitting north of .400 in that role. Gil "Gill Man" Hodges took forever to get his first rbi, but ended the month with 5.

"I want to be league president!" crowed a delirious Bill White.
New York (8-6, 2 gb) The Giants want to say just one word to you, young man. No, not "plastics." They say, "Power!" The Giants paced the loop with 17 round trippers and placed 4th in runs (50) despite being 6th in average (.217). Bill White, who would have been player of the month if they had that in 1956, sprayed the ball all over the Polo Grounds, and despite a disappointing .236 average, Willie Mays did plenty of damage, too. Add in timely blasts from Hank Thompson and Dusty Rhodes (2 pinch hit home runs, including a grand slam!) and the New Yorkers found themselves in third place at month's end despite having lost their first two games at home to Pittsburgh.  

Cincinnati (6-6, 3 gb) As expected, the Reds pounded the ball, leading the circuit in average (.265) runs (62) and even stolen bases (8). The pitching was suspect, placing 7th with a 4.29 e.r.a. The attack was remarkably balanced, with 9 different players hitting either 1 or 2 home runs. Ace Brooks Lawrence would like to forget April, after having gone 0-3. 

"Call me. Don't be afraid you can't call me..."
Philadelphia (5-7, 4 gb) The Quakers had surprisingly good pitching, placing second with a nifty 2.47 team mark despite being last in strikeouts (45). The problem in Philly was a lack of scoring. The Phils plated just 32 runs (7th) and were tied for last in homers with just 6. Stan Lopata and Granny Hamner (who had a 2-homer, 8 rbi game against Brooklyn) did their bit, but Richie Ashburn--after stroking 3 hits on opening day--hit just .149 and Del "The Black Hole" Ennis hit a mere .125 with 1 HR and 2 rbi. Saul Rogovin came out of nowhere to post a zero e.r.a. based on one shutout start and a few innings of relief. 

St. Louis (5-7, 4 gb) The Cardinals pitching was so awful that even a double shutout of the Braves on the 29th only lowered the team e.r.a. to a dismal 5.43, worst by far in the loop.  Redbird pitchers gave up a league-high 65 runs and 17 homers against. The offense was capable of exploding, but was spotty. They hit only 9 homers, and were 0-2 in steal attempts. Catcher "Cura" Smith started hot, going 7-for-14 with 6 rbi's including a grand slam, but then he was kicked in the head by a Missouri mule and will miss several weeks. Expect GM Frank "Trader" Lane to start dealing soon if the cards don't start flying a little higher. 

Pete rocks a 1926 vibe for the 1956 Cubs.
Chicago (4-8, 5 gb) The Cubbies had one remarkable stat at the end of April, quite an amazing one, in fact: they grounded into only 1 double play. The next least in the league was 7. Perhaps part of the reason is that they hit just .215 (7th). However, they did get a big performance from journeyman flyhawk Pete Whisenant, who had the audacity to hit for the cycle against St. Louis. "The Whiz" scored 4 runs that day, and cemented his place in Cubs history. There wasn't much else to crow about except for ace Bob Rush's three wins.

Pirate skipper Bobby Bragan keeps searching for solutions.
Pittsburgh (4-9, 5 1/2 gb) The Pirates won their first two games, then dropped 9 of their next 11. The problem is, that in a league starved for runs, the Pirates were the most anemic of all, plating just 28, last in the circuit. They were also last in average at .203, and tied for last in HR with 6 and triples with 2. Did I mention they were last in fielding as well, with 17 errors? Dick Groat and first sacker Dale Long were a comedy team on the Pirate infield, each charged with a whopping 6 miscues in just 13 games. The one bright spot was the pitching, which clocked in 5th at 2.99.  


WINS: Newcombe-brk 4-0, Burdette-mil 3-0, Rush-chi 3-1, Spahn-mil 3-1

ERA: Burdette-mil 0.00, Rogovin-phi 0.00, Spahn-mil 0.25, Wehmeier-phi 0.60, Craig-brk 0.88, Nuxhall-cin 1.15, Gomez-ny 1.17, Friend-pit 1.43,  Conley-mil 1.50, Dickson-phi 1.67

CG: Spahn-mil 4, Burdette-mil 3, Dickson-phi 3

Shutouts: Burdette-mil 3, 3 tied with 2

IP: Spahn-mil  36, Newcombe-brk 33, Friend-pit 28, Burdette-mil 27, Dickson-phi 27, Kline-pit 26.2, Rush-chi 26

K's: Spahn-mil 27, Fowler-cin 19, Kline-pit 19, Haddix-stl 16, Burdette-mil 15, Newcombe-brk 15

Losses: Kaiser-chi 0-3, Law-pit 0-3, Lawrence-cin 0-3, Roberts-phi 0-3

AVG: Kluszewski-cin .409, Adcock-mil .400, Aaron-mil .373, Lopata-phi .357, Crandall-mil .342, Jones-phi .317, Jackson-brk .311, Musial-stl .311, Thompson-ny .310, White-ny .306

HR: Crandall-mil 5, Snider-brk 5, White-ny 5, Adcock-mil 4, Amoros-brk 4

RBI: Crandall-mil 13, Adcock-mil 12, Snider-brk 11, Mays-ny 10, 5 tied with 9

RUNS: White-ny 13, Aaron-mil 10, Snider-brk 10, Bell-cin 9

2B: Jablonski-cin 8, Snider-brk 6, 6 tied with 5

3B: Bruton-mil 3, 7 tied with 2

STEALS: Mays-ny 5, Bell-cin 4, Gilliam-brk 2, McMillan-cin 2

ERR: Groat-pit 6, Long-pit 6, Spencer-ny 5

See you next time for the end of May report!