My 1969 National League regular season replay is over! I started it on April 3rd, 2016 and finished on June 26, 2017, so a little under 15 months to play it.
The Cardinals and Giants both went 97-65, winning their respective divisions, but the Giants had a much tougher fight, eventually winning by 2 over the Dodgers, while the Redbirds skunked the Cubs and the rest of the east by 8 games.
Some random fun facts to know and tell, before we get to the leader board and team summaries:
20-game winners: replay 7, actual 9.
.300 hitters qualifying for the batting title: replay 13, actual 11.
No hitters: 4. Hands, Singer and Marichal 2.
Cycles: 3. Lee May, Pete Rose and Donn Clendenon
Player of the Month
My league totals vs (actual).
steal pct.--65% (60%)
WINS--Carlton-stl 22-7, Perry-sf 22-8, Singer-la 22-11, Maloney-cin 21-10, Veale-pit 20-10, Sutton-la 20-11, Hands-chi 20-12
LOSSES--Santorini-sd 6-24, J.Johnson-phi 6-22
ERA (162 IP)--Hands-chi 1.88, Carlton-stl 1.99, Perry-sf 2.10, Koosman-ny 2.11, Gibson-stl 2.19, Marichal-sf 2.21, Seaver-ny 2.29, Briles-stl 2.31, P.Niekro-atl 2.32, Sutton-la 2.34
K's--Jenkins-chi 233, Singer-la 232, Carlton-stl 230, Veale-pit 224, Wilson-hou 212, Ellis-pit 211, Sutton-la 207, Hands-chi 206
IP--Hands-chi 306, Marichal-sf 301.2, Maloney-cin 300.2
CG--Wise-phi 25, Carlton-stl 24, Marichal-sf 24, Dierker-hou 23, Koosman-ny 23, Perry-sf 23
SHO--Dierker-hou 7, Marichal-sf 7, Singer-la 7
Saves--Upshaw-atl 29, McGraw-ny 27, Regan-chi 21, Face-mon 20, Linzy-sf 20
BAvg--Rose-cin .368, McCovey-sf .362, Jones-ny .357, Davis-la .352, Mota-la .330, Clemente-pit 329, Oliver-pit 323, Tolan-cin .317, H.Aaron-atl .313, Allen-phi 304, Bench-cin .303, Javier-stl .303, Brock-stl .300
HR--H.Aaron-atl 44, Allen-phi 38, May-cin 34, McCovey-sf 32, Oliver-pit 32, Staub-mon 31
RBI--May-cin 136, Oliver-pit 121, Staub-mon 117, McCovey-sf 116, Tolan-cin 112, H.Aaron-atl 109, Rose-cin 105, Santo-chi 103, Stargell-pit 100
2B--Laboy-mon 42, Kessinger-chi 39, Javier-stl 38, May-cin 38
3B--Tolan-cin 14, Sanguillen-pit 13, Harrelson-ny 12
Runs--Rose-cin 140, Bonds-sf 130, Brock-stl 119, Wills-la 114, Wynn-hou 114, May-cin 108, H.Aaron-atl 107, Oliver-pit 106, Tolan-cin 103, Davis-la 100
Hits--Rose-cin 233, Davis-la 219, M.Alou-pit 200
Steals--Bonds-sf 62, Morgan-hou 62, Wills-la 55, Brock-stl 47, Tolan-cin 31, Wynn-hou 31, Davis-la 30
Errors--Morgan-hou 38, Arcia-sd 37, Sizemore-la 37
Cy Young--Carlton, stl
Rolaids Fireman--Upshaw, atl
Rookie of the Year--Oliver, pit
Dud of the Year: Colbert, sd
Sigh Young: Guinn, hou
Shouldn't Have Comeback Player: Whitfield, cin
Paul Schaal Award (last position player to get a hit): Grabarkewitz, la
Jim Hardin Award (the high J-factor pitcher who never gets injured and puts up big numbers): Carlton, stl and Maloney, cin co-winners.
Orsino Award (same as above, but for position players): Herrera, mon
Overcarded Pitcher: Briles, stl
Overcarded Hitter: Oliver, pit
STL (97-65)--The Cardinals jumped out to a sensational 20-4 start, then sputtered their way through May and June, finally being caught and overtaken by the Cubs in July. But the Redbirds regrouped and played very sold ball through the rest of the season to take the east division handily by 8 games. Injuries limited Bob Gibson to 18-6 in 33 starts, but the entire Cardinal starting four were sensational all year. With the pitching solid, when they got enough hitting, they won. Julian Javier (13, 84, .303) had a career year at second base. Star Performance: On May 17th at San Diego, Gibson carried a no-hitter into the 9th and got the first two batters, only to give up a hit to the last man. He ended up with a 1-hit, 4-1 win. Team Thrill: On Sept. 23rd, the Cards clinched the east with an 8-2 win at New York. Beetle Bomb Award: Vada Pinson, supposed to replace Roger Maris in right--and for whom they traded away Tolan and Granger to the Reds--had a dismal 6, 50, and .214.
CHI (89-73)--Freaking Cubs. They got superb pitching all year, but the bats just never heated up. Ernie Banks (16, 77, .229) hit only 2 home runs in the first half! The team hit only 114 homers. On the bright side, Ferguson Jenkins won the strikeout crown--as he actually did--edging out Carlton by a single whiff. Star Performance: Way back on April 9th, Bill Hands no-hit the Phillies 2-0, allowing only one runner, a walk. Team Thrill: The Cubs won 11 in a row from June 27th through July 6th. Beetle Bomb Award: Late acquisition Jimmie Hall was picked up to hopefully provide some missing pop, but hit .091 with no xbh, no runs and no rbi.
PIT (87-75)--The Bucs got off to their traditional lousy start, and although they warmed up and had lots of hitting, they never had enough starting pitching to get them further than they got. The clearly overcarded rookie Al Oliver (1-5-6 power for 19 doubles and 17 homers in almost 500 ab's) went wild, but veteran Roberto Clemente, though he hit .329, had only 31 xbh's and 62 rbi. Matty Alou set a record with 722 ab's, but hit a disappointing .277. Star Performance: On June 4th at Forbes, Oliver launched three home runs for 7 rbi in an 8-1 demolition of the Reds. Team Thrill: on Sept. 25th the Pirates turned a triple play in the first inning against the Phillies. Beetle Bomb Award: the whole team, for collecting 24 hits on April 11th vs. Philadelphia, and losing 15-11.
NY (86-76)--One reason I chose this replay was to see if the Miracle Mets could replicate their legendary run. They couldn't. The Mets won 86 games and finished third in '70 and '71, and that's about right for them. Here, they won 86 and finished 4th, all due to non-existent offense. Tommie Agee (18, 75, .228, 71 runs) was counted on to hit, and he mostly didn't. Art Shamsky actually hit .300 in part time duty, but went 16, 57, .233 here. Tom Seaver actually went 25-7, but went 16-13 for me, in large part due to lack of support and facing the other team's ace a lot of the time. Star Performance: On August 10th at Atlanta, Agee hit a grand slam and had 6 rbi in an 8-6 win. Team Thrill: In a crazy doubleheader on June 24th vs. the Phillies, Swoboda hit a pinch hit walk-off in the opener for a 12-11 11-inning win, and Garrett hit a walk-off single in the 12th inning of the nightcap for a 4-3 win and the sweep. Beetle Bomb Award: Donn Clendenon. He had 16 HR (and 40 rbi with a .290 avg) to lead the league when the Mets got him in June from the Expos. He only hit 8 for the Mets, with 30 rbi, and batted .232.
MON (62-100)--The Expos lost 9 of the first 10 games of their existence, but then rallied. Wills, Mota and Clendenon were hitting, and the team enjoyed their first-ever winning month in June, going 16-15. But then management dealt away all three of those players and the troubles began. Rusty Staub did his part (31, 117, .276) and Roy Face--acquired from the Tigers in late April to help a dismal bullpen--turned in a surprising 20 saves with a decent 3.04 e.r.a. Coco Laboy made a bid for rookie of the year with 20, 97 and .265 with a league-high 42 two-baggers. Utility man Jose Herrara got the Orsino Award for batting 480 times with an inexplicable 34 doubles (he only had two zeroes) and a .281 average. Star Performance: May 23rd at Crosley Field, Donn Clendenon hit for the cycle and drove in 4, but the Expos lost 11-9 anyway. Team Thrill: existing! Beetle Bomb Award: Ron Fairly, acquired in the June trades, hit only 4 HR with a .254 avg after hitting over .300 for the Dodgers, plus he was injured all the time.
PHI (55-107)--Oh dear me, was this team awful. They had two starters, Wise (12-16) and Grant Jackson (16-14) and absolutely no other pitching. The bullpen didn't have a left-hander at all, and the "closer" was Billy Wilson (1-12, 16 sv, 4.37). The Phillies couldn't pitch, couldn't field, and couldn't generate sequential offense. The one and only thing they could do was hit home runs. They were 3rd in the league with 134. Rich Allen (38, 92, .304) and John Callison (19, 76, .261) appear to have played their last game for the Quakers. Star Performance: July 18th, Rick Wise tossed a 10-inning 2-hitter and walked away a winner after Callison's 2-out walk-off double. Team Thrill: the season ending. Beetle Bomb Award: Hurler Jerry Johnson, who was the third starter, at least to begin with, and went a horrid 6-22 with a 5.79 e.r.a.
SF (97-65)--What a race the Giants had with the Dodgers! The San Francisco club rode 3 starters--Marichal (19-12 2.21), Perry (22-8, 2.10) and McCormick (13-7, 2.60) and some timely hitting to the west title. Bob Bolin went 16-11, but his 5.16 e.r.a. shows how lucky he was. The bullpen is weak, but Frank Linzy did manage 20 saves and 3.05. The big mystery is, how did a team in the middle of the pack in every offensive category, manage to score 758 runs, second only to the Reds? I have no idea. Willie McCovey (32, 116, .362) was a terror in the first half, but turned into a slap hitter in the second half. Aging Willie Mays (13, 77, .259) was inconsistent, but he really helped carry the team in the last two months. Jim Ray Hart, not even counted on to start, turned in 10, 81, and .287, sore shoulder and all. Even little Hal Lanier hit only .225 with just 10 xbh's, but somehow drove in 56 runs, 22 of them after September 1st. Star Perfomance: August 8th, Juan Marichal threw his second no-hitter of the season, defeating St. Louis 2-0. Team Thrill: hearing that the Dodgers had lost to Houston on the next-to-last day of the season, giving the Giants the division. Beetle Bomb Award: Rookie flyhawk Dave Marshall, counted on to be a left-handed threat off the bench, had no homers, 4 rbi, and a dismal .097 average.
LA (95-67)--After the '66 World Series and Koufax's retirement, the Dodgers became irrelevant for '67 and '68. They weren't irrelevant in '69! They battled the Giants down to the wire. In fact, they looked like the odds-on choice to win the west before a rash of injuries slowed them fatally down the stretch. After starting strong, they ended the final month 15-16, their only losing month all year. One who missed time late was Willie Davis (15, 93, .352, 100 runs) who lit up NL pitchers all season. Before he got hurt he was torrid, spraying hits all over the place and combining with Wills for steals galore. At the end of June, the Dodgers were last in the league in steals, with 16, but they re-acquired Wills, and Davis went crazy, lifting their final total to 85. The bullpen tandem of righty Mikkelsen (9-4-17, 1.97) and lefty Brewer (4-5-16, 2.68) was solid. Injuries and the lack of a 4th starter was all that kept the Dodgers from winning the west. Star Performance: On April 18th, Bill Singer no-hit the Astros 1-0. Team Thrill: In a meaningless game on the last day of the season, sore-armed star Don Drysdale came in to toss the final two frames and make his last appearance in Dodger flannels. Trailing 6-3 with 2 out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, Don was allowed to step to the plate, as the Dodger fans rose and gave him a lengthy standing ovation, knowing this was goodbye. Plate umpire "Hell" Enkeller took his time dusting off home plate, to give Drysdale a chance to have his moment. Even Don's usually potent bat was quiet in '69, but he swung and belted a double off the wall. The crowd went nuts all over again. The next batter made the final out, but what a nice moment. Beetle Bomb Award: rookie infielder Ted Sizemore, much ballyhooed, hit just 2, 46 and .225 with 37 miscues in the field, many of them during the pressure-packed days of September.
ATL (93-69)--It was the Henry Aaron show all summer in Atlanta. He belted 44 homers (hitting the last one on the final day, to match his actual total), drove in 109, scored 107, hit .313 and did not make an error all season. Hammerin' Hank was Player of the Month in both June and July, when he was sending balls out of the park with stunning regularity. It was only a slow start and so-so finish that prevented him from taking the league MVP award. I almost gave it to him anyway. The Braves matched their actual 93-69 record, but it wasn't quite enough in the replay. A bad month of August and start of September sank the Braves, who fell too far back and couldn't make it all up in time. The pitching was stellar, posting a 2.98 team e.r.a., but the offense relied too heavily upon Aaron, Cepeda (23, 96, .295) and Rico Carty (21, 60, and .283 in 382 ab's.) Clete Boyer hit ten homers, but none after July 15th. Felipe Alou had no power. Catcher, shortstop and second base were offensive black holes. Star Performance: June 20th, Hank Aaron hit 3 home runs in a 6-1 win vs. S.F., giving him 5 HR in 2 games. Team Thrill: playing the Astros. The Braves took 16 of 18 from the Spacemen.
CIN (91-71)--Good gravy could these guys hit! They led the league with a whopping 842 runs scored and were entertaining as can be. If they had had anyone behind Jim Maloney (21-10, 3.05) to start games, they would have won. Granger was a good stopper if they managed to get to the late innings; he had 19 saves and was a workhorse. The Reds were never out of games. They had May (34, 136, .281), Tolan (18, 112, .317), Rose (22, 105, .368 and 140 runs), Bench (17, 78, .303) and Perez (26, 96, .263). Alex Johnson threw in 14, 68 and .313 when I could keep him on the field. However, a putrid July, when they went 10-17 and inexplicably stopped hitting, did them in. Star Perfomance: Tommy Helms set a NL mark for consecutive hits with 11, over three games in late September. He had 10 singles and a double. With a chance to tie the MLB record of 12, he flied to center. Team Thrill: On April 28th at San Francisco, the Reds turned 6 DP's but lost 3-2. Beetle Bomb Award: Fred "Wingy" Whitfield batted 61 times, never had an xbh, never drove in a run, and hit .148. Hang 'em up already, Fred.
HOU (72-90)--All right, class, which one is not like the others?: 9-15, 12-15, 10-19, 21-5, 8-20, 12-16. If you said 21-5, you're right. That was the Astros record in July, when they suddenly went from doormat to powerhouse. Honestly, I've never seen anything like it. They didn't acquire anybody, nothing changed except for a new line-up, and the line-up stopped working after July when they turned back into pumpkins again. The offense was spotty but could be potent. Denis Menke (9, 96, and .276) turned in a career year, and Joe Morgan, piddling around with a .208 average at the end of July, turned it on and ended up with 14, 60 and .253 with 62 bags. Jim Wynn (23, 69, .240, 114 runs) was slump-ridden much of the time, going weeks without doing anything at all. The Astros did walk a lot, though I didn't keep that stat. I do keep bullpen stats, though, and theirs was terrible, posting a league-low 14 saves. Fred Gladding ( 4-8-9, 3.89) actually had a league-leading 29 saves despite an e.r.a. above four. How he did it, I have no idea, but even though his e.r.a. for me was slightly better, he stank, and let numerous leads go a-glimmering before finally losing his job to Jim Ray (8-3-2, 2.20). Down there at the end of the bullpen bench we find Skip Guinn with his 0-2 record and 12.46 e.r.a., more than four full runs worse than the next worst pitcher in the league, Ron Bryant of the Giants (8.05). Star Performance: Tom Griffin fanned 15 Padres on September 8th, winning 12-2. Team Thrill: On June 5th, the Astros rallied for 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth against St. Louis, capped by Curt Blefary's 1-out 2-run walk-off triple for a 4-3 Houston win. Beetle Bomb Award: Jesus Alou, acquired from Montreal before the season began at the cost of Rusty Staub, put up 2, 43, and .222 and spent long stretches riding the lonesome pine, though he did at least smack 20 doubles.
SD (48-114)--Hahahaha. The Pods were putrid, plain and simple. They couldn't field, they couldn't hit, they didn't have much of a pitching staff. Al "Losing Pitcher" Santorini was thrown to the wolves in 34 starts and posted a barf-worthy 6-24, 5.64, though he did lead the team with 186 K's. Five other Padre hurlers lost at least 13 games, while Joe Niekro (9-16, 3.53) led the team in wins. Slugger Nate Colbert was expected to approximate his actual 24 HR, but he only hit 11, with 58 rbi and a paltry .225 average, though he did display gap power with 31 doubles--4 in the season's final 2 games--and 8 triples. Ollie Brown led the team with just 14 HR and the whole team hit just 66, down by a third from their actual 99. Star Performance: Al Santorini fanned 14 Phillies on June 4th, but naturally lost the game anyway, 4-3. Team Thrill: watching ancient relic Johnny Podres stumble out to the mound to post his 1-2 record with 6.62 e.r.a. Beetle Bomb Award: the entire team.
In the NLCS, the Cardinals stopped the Giants three games to one. The Cards took the first two games in San Francisco, 2-1 and 1-0. The Giants took game three at St. Louis, 1-0, before the Cardinals exploded in game four in front of their home fans, winning 13-1.