Bill Gilbert: 2015 MLB Offense

January 28, 2016


Bill Gilbert 05

SABR Analyst and Pecan Park Eagle Contributor Bill Gilbert Reports on the 2015 MLB Offensive Production Leaders. ~ Thank you, Bill for the hard work.

Who Were the Most Productive Offensive Players in 2015?

 By Bill Gilbert

Numerous methods have been devised to measure offensive performance. The most common are batting average, on-base percentage and slugging average. Since none of these averages provides a complete picture by itself, a more comprehensive measure of offensive performance is useful. Such a measure would include the following elements:

  1. The ability to get on base.
  2. The ability to hit with power.
  3. The ability to add value through baserunning.

The first two elements are measured by on-base percentage and slugging average. A measure of offensive performance, which encompasses both as well as baserunning achievements, is Bases per Plate Appearance (BPA). This measure accounts for the net bases accumulated by a player per plate appearance. It is calculated as follows:

BPA = (TB + BB + HB + SB – CS – GIDP) / (AB + BB + HB + SF)

Where: BPA = Bases per Plate Appearance

TB   = Total Bases

BB   = Bases on Balls

HB   = Hit by Pitch

SB   = Stolen Bases

CS   = Caught Stealing

GIDP = Grounded into Double Plays

AB   = At Bats

SF   = Sacrifice Flies

The numerator accounts for all of the bases accumulated by a player, reduced by the number of times he is caught stealing or erases another runner by grounding into a double play. The denominator accounts for the plate appearances when the player is trying to generate bases for himself. Sacrifice hits are not included as plate appearances, since they represent the successful execution of the batter’s attempts to advance another runner.

Major league BPA for the past fifteen years is shown below along with the number of players with BPA over .550 and .600:

Year   2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

BPA .468 .457 .461 .468 .456 .470 .463 .458 .461 .446 .442 .447 .440 .426 .440

.550    46   39 42   33   34   46   34 41   42 19   25   12   14     9   20

.600   26   17 15   18   13   14   15 11   16 7   7   5     3     4     9

Offensive production peaked in 2000 before declining in the early years of this century. BPA declined significantly through 2014 before an uptick in 2015.

In the 1990s, there were 14 individual .700 BPA seasons. In the eight year period from 2000 to 2007, there were 18. The highest BPA in the 1990s was recorded by Mark McGwire in 1998 (.799). Barry Bonds shattered that with .907 in 2001, the highest figure ever recorded, topping Babe Ruth’s best two years (1920 and 1921). Bonds followed that with .869 in 2002, .818 in 2003 and .882 in 2004. There have not been any hitters with a BPA of .700 since 2007. The last player to make it was Alex Rodriguez (.702) in 2007. Surprisingly, Albert Pujols has not had a .700 BPA in his fifteen seasons. His highest was .696 in 2009.

The .700 BPA seasons in 2000-2015 are listed below:

Player              Team           Year       BPA

Barry Bonds         San Francisco 2001     .907

Barry Bonds         San Francisco 2004     .882

Barry Bonds         San Francisco 2002     .869

Barry Bonds         San Francisco 2003     .818

Sammy Sosa         Chicago Cubs   2001     .758

Barry Bonds         San Francisco 2000     .745

Jim Thome           Cleveland     2002     .728

Manny Ramirez       Cleveland     2000     .726

Todd Helton         Colorado       2000     .720

Luis Gonzalez       Arizona       2001     .713

Todd Helton         Colorado       2001     .709

Carlos Delgado     Toronto       2000     .707

Larry Walker       Colorado       2001     .707

Jason Giambi       Oakland       2000     .706

Travis Hafner       Cleveland     2006     .703

Alex Rodriguez     NY Yankees     2007     .702

Jason Giambi       Oakland       2001     .700

Ryan Howard         Philadelphia   2006     .700

 The yearly leaders since 1992 are as follows:

1992 Bonds        .734 1993 Bonds     .740 1994 Bagwell .768

1995 Belle        .692 1996 McGwire .765 1997 Walker  .770

1998 McGwire      .799 1999 McGwire   .735 2000 Bonds  .745

2001 Bonds       .907 2002 Bonds     .869 2003 Bonds    .818

2004 Bonds        .882 2005 D. Lee   .699 2006 Hafner   .703

2007 A. Rodriguez .702 2008 Pujols   .685 2009 Pujols   .696

2010 Bautista     .671 2011 Bautista .681 2012 Trout   .665

2013 C. Davis   .670 2014 Trout     .623 2015 Harper   .694

The benchmark for an outstanding individual season is .600. Following is a list of the only six players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title and with a BPA of .600 in 2015. The list is topped by Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals with a BPA of .694, the highest since Albert Pujols recorded a .696 in 2009.

 Bases per Plate Appearance (BPA) of .600+ in 2015


 No. of 2014 2015    .600+

   Player           BPA  BPA LG Seasons Comments

  1. Bryce Harper     .464 .694   N   1   Breakout season.
  2. Paul Goldschmidt .594 .638   N   1   Does everything well.
  3. Mike Trout   .623 .636   A   4   Over .600 in each of his 4 full seasons.
  4. Joey Votto       .496 .633   N   3   On-Base Average of .459 in 2015.
  5. Chris Davis       .477 .607   A   2 Led majors in HR with 47.
  6. Nelson Cruz      .537 .600   A   1   Strong hitting year in a pitcher’s park.

If you are looking for AL MVP Josh Donaldson, he finished 7th with .594.

Three other players had a BPA over .600 in 2014 but failed to qualify in 2015.

No. of 2014   2015     .600+

   Player           BPA  BPA LG Seasons Comments

1 Giancarlo Stanton .614 .635  N   1   Failed to qualify due to injury.

2 Andrew McCutchen .613 .569   N   1   Bad start led to lower season numbers.

3.Jose Abreu       .600   .518   A   1   Didn’t quite measure up to rookie year.

Three active players have a BPA over .600 for their careers:

2015         Career

Player            Age            BPA           BPA   Comments

————-      —     —-       —-   —————————

Mike Trout           23     .636       .634   Quick rise to the top.

Alex Rodriguez       39     .534       .605   Strong recovery in 2015.

Albert Pujols       35      .502       .603   Power OK but averages declining.

Another list of interest is of players with a BPA of over .600 in 2015 who did not have enough plate appearances (PA) to qualify for the batting title.

Player           Age BPA   PA   Comments

————— —  —- —   —————————

Mikey Mahtook     25 .658 115   Strong finish after Tampa Bay call-up.

Giancarlo Stanton 29 .643 375   Season cut short by injury.

Franklin Gutierrez32 .624 189 Productive when healthy.

Corey Seager     21 .619 113 Dodgers top prospect.

Curt Casali       26 .607 113   Good power from TB backup catcher.

Looking at the other end of the spectrum, sixteen players who earned enough playing time to qualify for the batting title had a BPA less than .400 in 2015. Last year, twenty five players were on this list.

Player                         BPA   Team

—————–             —   —————

122 Jace Peterson                 .395   Braves

123 Chase Headley                 .394   Yankees

124 Jimmy Rollins                .393   Dodgers

125 Avisail Garcia                .388   White Sox

126 Pablo Sandoval                 .377   Red Sox

127 Freddy Galvis                 .374   Phillies

128 Alexei Ramirez               .374   White Sox

129 Starlin Castro                 .369   Cubs

130 Jean Segura                 .365   Brewers

131 Erick Aybar                  .361   Angels

132 Angel Pagan                   .361   Giants

133 Chris Owings                  .360   Diamondbacks

134 Andrelton Simmons            .359   Braves

135 Yadier Molina                .357   Cardinals

136 Alcides Escobar                .355   Royals

137 Wilson Ramos                  .347   Nationals

Four players compiled a batting average over .300, an on-base average over .400, a slugging percentage over .500 and bases per plate appearance over .600 in 2015.

Player             BAVG       OBA       SLG       BPA      OPS

Bryce Harper        .330     .460     .649     .694    1.109

Paul Goldschmidt     .321      .435     .570     .638     1.005

Joey Votto           .314     .459     .541     .633     1.000

Another means of measuring offensive performance is Bases per Out, also called Total Average. The top 10 players on both lists for 2015 are shown below.

Bases per Plate

Appearance             –                Bases per Out

1 Bryce Harper     .694   Nationals  – 1 Bryce Harper    1.274 Nationals

2 Paul Goldschmidt .638   Diamondbacks – 2 Joey Votto       1.162 Reds

3 Mike Trout        .636   Angels   –   3 Paul Goldschmidt 1.131 Diamondbacks

4 Joey Votto      .633   Reds  –      4 Mike Trout      1.057 Angels

5 Chris Davis      .607   Orioles   – 5 Miguel Cabrera   1.016 Tigers

6 Nelson Cruz     .600   Mariners –  6 Josh Donaldson     .967 Blue Jays

7 Josh Donaldson   .594  Blue Jays –  7 Jose Batista       .963 Blue Jays

8 Jose Bautista   .590   Blue Jays –  8 Edwin Encarnacion .957 Blue Jays

9 Edwin Encarnacion .588   Blue Jays –  9 Anthony Rizzo     .957 Cubs

10 Anthony Rizzo   .585   Cubs  –   10 Chris Davis        .956 Orioles

The lists are quite similar with nine players appearing on both lists. Harper is on top of both lists by a sizable margin and the same four players are on the top of both lists but in a different order. Votto and Cabrera rank higher on the Total Average list because they have high batting averages and draw a lot of walks while Davis and Cruz get much of their production from extra base hits but they make more outs.

Bill Gilbert





Come On, Opening Day!

January 27, 2016

Crawford Blue Skies

Sunny spring skies – bring ’em bright on,

Won’t be long now – til old winter’s gone,

No more dumb staring – out the stupid-wish window,

Or wasting more time – on an ancient Nintendo.


Baseball the game – will be back in H-town,

Generating each smile – and killing each frown,

With Carlos Correa – and Altuve too,

Our future looks bright – as the skies turn to blue.


So grab up your tickets – and crank up the car,

If you spring forty bucks – your park won’t be far,

But don’t leave today – or you’ll feel like a dunce,

‘Cause the season won’t start – for another two months.


Just hang in there, ‘Stros fans – our day will soon come,

And this year feels special – no settling for crumbs,

Rangers and Royals – the rest of you too,

Better watch out – we’re gunning for you!


Come On, Opening Day!

2016 – the Year of the Houston Astros – is finally here!

In 2016 – let’s finally end the wait that began in 1962!





Rest in Triumphant Joy, Marie “Red” Mahoney

January 25, 2016
Red Mahoney had time to sign autographs for fans after the "women in baseball" panel discussion at the 44th Annual National SABR Convention in Houston. Summer of 2014

Red Mahoney had time to sign autographs for fans after the “women in baseball” panel discussion at the 44th Annual National SABR Convention in Houston.
Summer of 2014

The Game of Baseball, the City of Houston, and the State of Texas has surrendered one of its most precious citizens and, most importantly, America is now forced to say goodbye to one of the pioneer ground-breakers for women in competitive sports .

Emily Marie “Red” Mahoney passed away on Saturday, January 23, 2016 in Houston at 91, following a long period of several months in declining health. Until that time, “Red”Mahoney, one of the surviving former ground-breakers in the post World War II Women’s League ( the female baseball union that became so popular to contemporary movie audiences in “A League of Their Own” with Tom Hanks, had been an active participant in the Houston-based Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research.

Among numerous other honors, Red Mahoney was inducted into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. She also served importantly as a resource person on the history of women in baseball for our Houston SABR 2014 publication, “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-1961.”

For a more extensive history of her public accomplishments, please check out her current biography on Wikipedia:

I first met Red Mahoney ten years ago during my term as Board President of the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.

Marie “Red” Mahoney was a delightful person to be around. She was a person of great integrity and humble grounded bearings. I think she saw herself as an everyday person who never felt the need to hide behind a public celebrity face, even though she had done some extraordinary things, but that doesn’t mean she was unaware or dismissive of her athletic abilities. I once asked Red, who was cute as a bug in her youth too, if she ever came close to getting married. “Not really,” she smiled. “I think the ones I might have cared to date were afraid that I might be too much competition for them on the baseball diamond. Back in the day, a lot of men used to only want women who ‘knew their place’, so to speak.”

We are grateful that you took your talents and life choices where your passions for baseball, softball, and golf were major to your heart’s desires and abilities. No old school guy was going to put you in the kitchen and leave you there. You never allowed it to happen. As a result, the world, especially the world of baseball, is all the richer for it.

We shall miss you, Red Mahoney, but we shall treasure our memories and the love-for-the-game-and-life presence that you brought into our lives forever.

Red’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday, February 6, 2016, in the Heights. Stay tuned and check the newspapers for further details.



The Immortality of Joy

January 24, 2016
"If God had not wanted us to experience the joy of eternity on earth, He would not have given us baseball.

In the Big Inning – If God had not wanted us to experience the joy of eternity on earth, He would not have given us baseball.

The other night, during the Hot Stove League Banquet in Sugar Land, fellow SABR member Jim Kruez asked the discussion panel for recollections of their biggest memories in baseball. The answers came roaring back as graphic tales of the joy that flows from winning something dramatic and worthwhile. Sugar Land Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti, for example, recalled the conclusion of Game Seven in the 1987 World Series and the celebration that followed immediately with his Minnesota Twins teammates as they mobbed each other and rolled around in a pile on the infield in the moments that came upon them as the aftermath of their home victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Sensory memories of smiling faces, hugs, caps and gloves flying through the air, the quick sightings of teammates running toward you as you lay in the pile with your left cheek pressed firmly to the ground, the roar of the crowd, celebratory teammate yells, a quick instance of replay in the mind of how the last out was made ~ all of these things were implied in the few actual words that remained as Gaetti’s report the other night.

Gaetti’s sensory impressions had been augmented over time with thoughts about what that moment meant. It meant that Gary Gaetti and the 1987 Twins had attained what all big league teams pursue, but only the few attain. They had lived to experience the joy of the moment that is the soulfully unforgettable reward that belongs only to the winners of the World Series.

That moment of joy is nothing less than a personal experience with the attainment of humanity’s universal wish – to know sweet joy forever in a place called Heaven,Valhalla, eternity, or the peaceful garden of our own back yards.

And baseball, perhaps more strongly than any other sport, has laid out for its crusaders a path to joyful victory that is more loaded with pot holes and road dangers than any other. It helps to have talent, but often that ultimate success depends more on the chemistry of how well the parts fit together as a winning team over the grueling path of  a 162-game season. Then there’s the luck of how the ball bounces and the presence or absence of key injuries to irreplaceable personnel. And then there’s the occasional improbability that the 1914 Braves, the 1951 Giants, or the 1969 Mets will come along and destroy the teams that “should have” won with a bag of one-season magic that produces its own special brand of joy in the moment that the entire baseball world remembers forever.

Bobby Thomson of the 1951 New York Giants, of course, is the poster boy for that truth. His three-run homer for a 5-4 playoff win over the Brooklyn Dodgers in the bottom of the 9th of the final playoff game for the 1951 National League pennant is remembered today, of course, as “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World!”

As for the losing 1951 Dodgers and the tortured soul of Ralph Blanca, the man who served up the historic home run to Thomson that afternoon at the Polo Grounds, their Brooklyn baseball culture already understood  from other arguably not-quite-so-painful years that “wait until next year” was the next usual step.

One step up from the agony of “wait until next year” found its voice in the Broadway musical and later 1955 movie we recall today as “Damn Yankees.” The show featured the longstanding frustrations of the Washington Senators, but the creators may just as well have been depicting the even more success-arid record of the St. Louis Browns – or even the “near miss” losers of 1951 and other seasons, the Brooklyn Dodgers:

“You gotta’ have hope! ~ Mustn’t sit around and mope!

Nothing’s half as bad as it may appear! ~ Wait’ll next year!

And hope!”

~ excerpt from the “Damn Yankees” (1955) musical and song, “Heart”.

Joy in the moment is really joy forever. It never leaves us, but we may abandon it, as we often do its identical twin, love, by erroneously devoting our energies through the human ego to matters that really don’t matter ~ or by blaming life for our disappointments.

Never abandon the sweetness of joy ~ and always remember – even when joy seems far away – it is still both attainable and recoverable – even if it means we have to rearrange our travel itineraries. In that plan, dear friends – “we gotta have hope!”

Thank you, Gary Gaetti, for your reminder!
















Eileen Hohlt’s Acceptance Speech for Her Father

January 23, 2016
Two of Larry Miggins’ 12 children, Eileen Holt and brother John Miggins, proudly accepted the Bob Dorrill Award in their father’s good name. Eileen delivered an eloquent acceptance speech.

Eileen Hohlt and brother John Miggins accepted the 2016 first  Bob Dorrill Award for Exceptional Contributions to Baseball in behalf of their father, Larry Miggins, at the January 21, 2016 Hot Stove Banquet sponsored by the Sugar Land Skeeters and SABR two nights ago.

And as I wrote yesterday, Eileen’s eloquent speech in honor of her  father far out-distanced my human ability to recreate its heart path in summary form over limited space. It was a thing that belonged to and came from the Miggins daughter herself.

And here it is ~ just as we promised ~ whole and packed full of the heart that only a Miggins could bring to this table:


Eileen Hohlt’s acceptance of SABR award for Larry Miggins (Dad).   1.21.2016

[Those who know Dad can put 15 minutes back on the clock because I don’t have the stories or the jokes to tell that he does.]

Thank you, Ira, for that heartwarming recount of my father’s career. He is so honored to be recognized in the same company as Hall of Famer Monte Irvin whom he respected and admired.

We think of this award as mutual – because Baseball has made a lifetime contribution to Larry Miggins.

Baseball brought my Dad to Houston in 1949 and he has been here ever since, embracing this city as if he was always meant to be here.

Through Baseball, he met our mother, Kathleen. He was in Chicago, playing against the Cubs, (a day game, of course), and that evening went to an Irish party where he met Mom who was working in Chicago with the Irish Consulate. They have been married 62 years, raised 12 children, and baseball has been a big part of all our lives.

Dad had some paid coaching jobs, well before his own children took the field.

Each one of my 8 brothers played baseball, often coached by Dad (those were the unpaid jobs). They played with zeal and passion and an understanding of the game that only comes from having a Dad like ours.

Many grandsons also play the game. I remember Dad encouraging my son, John Hohlt, who pitched in Little League through high school. (In fact, John played for Bob Zlotnik’s West U Little League teams). Dad would bring a silver dollar in his pocket to reward John if he got the win. Ever competitive, there was no reward for “participation,” a “good effort,” a no decision, or even a save. It had to be a win.

Baseball opened doors for Dad – the University of St. Thomas allowed him to take classes by mail so he could get his college degree back in the ‘50s.

When Dad’s playing doors were over, he got a great job as chief of federal probation and parole through Judge Hannay, who was a big fan of the Houston Buffs.

Dad has rubbed shoulders with many baseball greats, dating back to 1943 when Honus Wagner watched him play at the University of Pittsburgh and tried to recruit him for the Pirates.

Dad got to play in the Oldtimers’ games when the Astrodome first opened in 1965. As children, it was thrilling to see our Dad on the field in the Astrodome.

Baseball has given Dad many friends throughout his lifetime, some of whom are here tonight, especially Bill McCurdy, his biggest fan, and Bob Dorrill.

Baseball has given him lots of stories. What is it about baseball players and stories? It’s likely a function of all the time a player spends with his team, building camaraderie.

This summer, right after his 90th birthday, he and about family members went to a Sunday afternoon Astros game. It was a fitting way to end an entire weekend of celebration.

To watch a baseball game with our Dad is to see things you might have missed, like, where the shortstop is playing, whether it’s time for a bunt, if the batter managed to hit the sweet spot, and Dad’s inimitable “Get him outta there” when the pitcher stays in one pitch too long.

From his 90-year perspective, Dad would want to tell the young men and women here tonight:

  • Cultivate and respect your baseball and softball network – the coaches, the fans, your teammates, your opponents. You will see them again in your lifetime and they can vouch for your work ethic, integrity, and discipline.
  • Get your degree. If you are not lucky enough to stay in baseball all your life, use baseball as a steppingstone to your next endeavor.
  • Pass along your love of the game.
  • Never lose your competitive spirit.
  • Thank God for all your blessings.

 The entire Miggins family is humbled and honored by this Award and thanks SABR.



Larry Miggins Today.  Those of you young people who even now “get” and act upon the advice of Larry Miggins as it has been so clearly laid out for you here and now by his daughter, Eileen Hohlt, also have another benefit to harvest later in life. I’m 99% sure that Larry will agree:

The sooner you put Larry Miggins’s advice into action,  the easier it will  be in your later years to look back on the things you did and didn’t do in your life with greater humility, wisdom, peace, gratitude, and acceptance.


Bob Dorrill Award Goes to Larry Miggins

January 22, 2016


The first annual 2016 Bob Dorrill Distinguished Service to Baseball Award last night went to the most deserving candidate our SABR group could possibly consider. By unanimous vote at our December meeting, and in sworn secrecy by all from early disclosure to our choice of his selection, the attending members of our Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR in Houston gave the nod at the 2016 Sugar Land Skeeters Hot Stove League Banquet to fellow SABR member and former Houston Buff and St. Louis Cardinal Larry Miggins. Larry’s absence from the meeting that night due to his late 2015 fall and leg injury made it possible for us keep that confidence until Chapter President Bob Dorrill disclosed our pick to him by phone last week.


The always bright, always funny, and always modest Mr. Miggins expressed his gratitude to Bob Dorrill over the phone, but he also noted that he was “flabbergasted” to have been our choice. When Bob told me of Larry’s reaction, it was not a surprise. Modesty rules this good man and great friend in all matters. The man who once took his first collegiate coaching directly from Honus Wagner at the University of Pittsburgh, the man who played third base for Newark in Jackie Robinson’s first 1946 game across the color line with Montreal, the man who hit his first major league home run for the Cardinals in Brooklyn in 1952 while his old New York high school classmate, Vin Scully, fulfilled a 10-year old prophecy that this moment would one day occur for the two of them, this man who was a key figure in the success of the 1951 Houston Buffs’ drive for a Texas League pennant, this man who went back to school for two college degrees and a post-baseball career as the chief federal probation and parole official in Houston, this man who raised 12 wonderful children with his even more Irish wife, Kathleen, this man who coached and even wrote a book on the secrets of power-hitting, this man who started my life as a childhood hero, but later became one of my dearest late-in-life friends, this man of over 90 years well lived, this man of God who has given himself to the Houston community in so many generous ways, this man, Lawrence Edward Miggins, “himself”, turned out to be the only answer we could find to the question: “Who most deserves this first preciously given Bob Dorrill Award?”

Two of Larry Miggins' 12 children, Eileen Holt and brother John Miggins, proudly accepted the Bob Dorrill Award in their father's good name. Eileen delivered an eloquent acceptance speech.

Two of Larry Miggins’ 12 children, Eileen Hohlt and brother John Miggins, both proudly accepted the Bob Dorrill Award in their father’s good name. Eileen spoke eloquently in her dad’s behalf.

Still recovering from his leg injury, Larry wasn’t able to attend the banquet, but two of his adult children, daughter Eileen Hohlt and son John Miggins were present to accept the presentation from Ira Liebman of the Skeeters, with Eileen speaking for her father with all of the genetic Miggins eloquence at her disposal. I wish time and space made it practical for my recap here, but I would prefer to get my hands on a copy of her full remarks and present them to you separately as a column unto themselves in the very near future. With help of Ira Liebman, I feel sure that we will find a way to get that goal accomplished.

We don't have the attendance figures, but the Insperity Room at Constellation Field was filled to overflowing.

We don’t have the attendance figures, but the Insperity Room at Constellation Field was filled to overflowing.

The Panel Discussion. The banquet also provided a lively hot stove baseball discussion panel chaired by Brett Dolan of the Sugar Land Skeeters. Members of the panel included Allyson Footer of, Manager Gary Gaetti of the Sugar Land Skeeters, former MLB player/manager/coach Jackie Moore, current player Chad Huffman, and UH Associate Head Coach for women’s softball, Kristen Vesley. – One memorable quote will have to suffice due to time and space: “When I got my first big league hit for Detroit, it came as a base hit that I got as a result of missing a take sign on a 3-2 count. As a result, my first big league hit came with a $25 fine for not following my manager’s orders.”

The Ray Knoblauch Coaching Award went to Tom McPherson.

The Marie Red Mahoney Significant Achievement Award also was made, but the name was announced at the banquet and I forgot to take notes. If any of readers know the name and school or other affiliation of the winner, please let me know and I edit this little matter of unfinished business here. Also, if anyone knows the coaching connection for Tom McPherson above, please let me know that too and we will also amplify the identity of the winner in that category.

The banquet also presented their 2016 Pre-Season Boys’ Baseball and Girls’ Softball Teams. Mighty important too. Those young people are the face and form of baseball’s future!

Jim Kreuz (center) is one of the most dedicated SABR biographers in our chapter. He and his kindred spirits made a nice show of support for the banquet and, to no one's surprise, Jim personally asked the panel some of the best questions they fielded.

Jim Kreuz (center) is one of the most dedicated SABR biographers in our chapter. He and his kindred spirits made a nice show of support for the banquet and, to no one’s surprise, Jim personally asked the panel some of the best questions they fielded.

Thank you, Ira Liebman and the Sugar Land Skeeters! Thank you SABR! And, last, but not least, Thanks You, Banquet Sponsors, for making the fourth Sugar Land version of an ancient Houston winter baseball banquet aspect of our local baseball culture come to life again. As far as we are concerned, what you guys are doing is invaluable.

Carve this in marble somewhere:

“Those who give of themselves to the game of baseball are the same people, players and fans, who make it worth our passionate support!”


Larry Miggins

Curious Contradictions and Contrasts in Sports

January 21, 2016


"Nutshell Summaries"

“Nutshell Summaries”


Curious Contradictions and Contrasts in Sports

  1. Now that football is becoming more conscious of the need to reduce the risk of concussions for the sake of saving more players from the kind of brain damage that leads to both earth deaths and uglier old age issues, the attraction-object of boxing remains for fighters to inflict concussions upon their opponents that are strong enough to produce dramatic states of unconsciousness for the thrill of the ticket-paying public.
  2. In 2016, outfielder Colby Rasmus will receive $15.8 million dollars from the Houston Astros after hitting .238 and 25 HR for the same club in 2015. In 1931, future Hall of Fame outfielder Goose Goslin hit .328 with 24 HR for the St. Louis Browns. Goslin was the best paid player on the ’31 Browns, raking in $13,000 for his efforts.
  3. Prior to World War II, young MLB-potential baseball players usually worked their ways up through several levels of whole season play before they reached the major leagues. By the time most of the qualified MLB rookies reached the big time, they brought with them a strong fundamental grasp of base-running, fielding, and situational hitting. That began to change steadily in the first two decades that followed World War II. As baseball encountered greater competition for the leisure dollar from other diversions, and as baseball found itself in direct competition with professional football and basketball for the best athletes, baseball had to accelerate the time table for young players reaching the majors to remain in competition with for the best athletes – and because the pool of major league qualified material was shrinking in the face of competition. By the 1970s, the rate of MLB ascendancy by players was fairly impossible. Today, in the second decade of the 21st century, the change is impossible to miss. Unfortunately, the major consequence of this change is that most young players today reach MLB with a much weaker understanding of all the routine fundamental knowledge we once expected of all big leaders. It has changed the way the game is played. Sadly too, it has reduced the quality of play we once expected. – Not to mention the biggest driving wheel in this “speed up” move of prospects to the majors would be remiss. Once the reserve clause lost out to free agency and the growth of a powerful player’s union, clubs felt the increased pressure to get their investment working as a dividend before they lost them to another team. Of course, good young prospects were going to get a quicker move to MLB. Their minor league timenow  would become as much an audition time as it once had been a training ground.
  4. Changes in the culture have changed the ambient joy possibility that many of us once derived from the virtually meditative experience of sitting at the ballpark and just taking in the sensory sights, sounds, and smells of the game. And these often included the presence of a hip organist whose skill at the keyboard furnished us with a game soundtrack of foul balls rolling up and down the screen behind home plate. Today the management position seems to be that it is necessary to fill in all of the lull moments with loud rap and rock music, costume character races, and an army of young ladies in shorts who skillfully shoot tee shirts into the stands. The premise of these activities seems to be that they are necessary for the sake of keeping fans from growing so bored at the game that they never come back. I think these ideas are dead wrong, but I also concede that my age and embraced enjoyment of the game date back to the time in which being at the game, the game itself, hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack, and cornball habits of being one of the 10,000 or so scorecard keepers were all thrill enough.
  5. Today in baseball, teams and players can’t seem to give away enough baseballs to fans – and way beyond the numbers that leave the ballpark as foul balls and home runs. Not so in the old days. Back in the 1930s, the St. Louis Browns even posted employees in the stands at Sportsman’s Park to retrieve those foul balls for the low-budget Browns future game use.
  6. Although there is no research proof to suggest that changes in the baseball culture since the 1920s have done anything significant to improve the life of fidelity among married players today, it does seem logical that those early times of train travel and all day games did provide baseball players with more time for bonding, conniving, and free night-time for so inclined married players to explore all possibilities. In fact, in Sal Maglie’s bio, former St. Louis Brown and Boston Red Sox shortstop is mentioned for his own working definition of marital fidelity among the big leaguers of the early post-World War II years: “Fidelity is when a married player doesn’t (get with) another woman who lives in the same town as his wife.” So much for Norman Rockwell’s idyllic view of the good old days.
  7. Babe Ruth is noted for all night drinking binges that eventually led him to hit in at least one early next day game in which he was most probably still under the influence of alcohol at game time, but suffering his way into that state of withdrawal we commonly reference as a “hangover.” And, of course, as iconic legends are prone to do, Ruth blasted a long home run on his first time at bat. I’ve forever thought that it probably too wasn’t the only time that happened. The man was baseball’s Godzilla even long before the Japanese came up such an unstoppable monster. – Paul Waner was another prodigious drinker. (I don’t make diagnoses over the Internet.) One time, Paul’s usually high .300 batting average was falling toward the sub-.300 territory after a short period of sobriety and early bedtime when his manager allegedly told him to stay out all night drinking before the next games. Waner supposedly did as he was told, coming in the next day after dawn, and then going out there the next day and whacking out three or four ridiculously hard hits on his way back to the bottle and the high .300 hitting territory that was his norm. Life is an often curious flow of logical contradictions, but don’t bet the ranch on your chances of finding out that alcohol is also your best pal on the road to success.

That’s it for now. – Hope to see some of you at tonight’s (1/21/16) Sugar Land Skeeters winter baseball banquet!



UH Shines in Houston TV Bowl Ratings

January 20, 2016



The TV bigger picture ratings are in for the 2015-16 college football season and “our” UH Cougars again have done themselves proud. As you will easily note in the following table, among the 40 forty big and small bowl games played, UH-Florida State Peach Bowl was the fourth most watched post-season game in the Houston television market, surpassed only by the two college playoff and championship games. Our featured table shows only the three CFP games, bowls hosted in Texas, and bowls involving Texas schools, but the four leaders shown here were the only post-season games to earn double-digit ratings in Houston.

Note too, for UH to achieve a 10.5 rating and a home audience in Houston of 355,000, the Cougars had to pull those local numbers at a game that kicked off at 11:00 AM on Friday, December 31st, a working day for some. Compare that local interest level with the numbers for the TCU, Texas A&M, and Baylor games at more favorable times of day. To me, those comparisons don’t mean that local interest is greater in the Houston market for UH among supporters of the three mentioned Big 12 schools. They simply suggest that UH has awakened a long over-due base of support for the Cougars among alumni and previously unaffiliated fans of this city – and that the Peach Bowl carried much more weight for UH than those other bowls did for the three Big 12 reps. As a result, interest in watching the Cougars this time was greater.

13,000 Cougar fans also made that trip to Atlanta to watch UH shock Florida State in the Peach Bowl. Their red presence and the sounds of the UH band quickly evolved into the sight and sound energy-track of the Peach Bowl that those of us who watched at home on New Years Eve day saw too. Among the Cougar fan base, our energy for the fire of playing at the title match level of college football is now ignited and inextinguishable.

Our UH upgrade in facilities, our 13-1 winning 2015 record, our #8 final rank in the 2015 season polls, the winning culture that President Khator and Coach Herman have brought to UH football, the swelling support among the undergraduate Cougars, and the growing quickly partisanship base among the previously quiet or unaffiliated citizens of Houston have all worked to awaken our awareness and hunger for what comes next. – UH deserves membership in either the Big 12 or the SEC. And soon. And whichever conference gets UH will only be the stronger for it too.

Forgive my Cougar partisanship, readers. Those of you who know me understand that it is just one of those energy life lines that I have lived with since I was a fan of Cougar sports even before my undergraduate school days. Getting my undergraduate degree from UH as a working student is what opened the door for me to later earn my master’s and doctoral degrees from Tulane and Texas. I thank those two very fine schools too, but my heart remains forever with my first love. My only real love in this realm of things. Eat ‘Em Up.



As for what this report says in general about the value of bowl games, you may enjoy looking at the data from the Houston Chronicle’s digital site on the viewer popularity of all the bowls in the Houston market:

If anything speaks for the banality of the old bowl system, these figures speak loudly. Is it any wonder that Arkansas State and Louisiana Tech in the “New Orleans Bowl” drew only 20,000 viewers in Houston? And those numbers most probably were inflated by the large base of compulsive football viewers who will watch anything that’s put on the screen that has anything to do with football. i.e., “This just in – the Colorado Home for Retired Nuns has just defeated the New Mexico Body and Fender School by a final score of 49-0! – Chalk up a romping walk for the Penguins!”

We may get that eight-club college football playoff format sooner than we first thought, presuming the Houston numbers are consistent with other market figures. Who wants to pay for advertising on all these games that nobody watches?


Bill McCurdy

Bill McCurdy

Morales and Drellich Charm and Inform SABR

January 19, 2016
Julia Morales ROOT Sports Field Reporter January 18, 2016 Photo by Mike cCroskey

Julia Morales
ROOT Sports Field Reporter
January 18, 2016
Photo by Mike McCroskey


They were both charming. They were each informative.

Julia Morales of ROOT Sports and Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle both addressed the Larry Dierker Chapter of SABR last night at the January monthly meeting of the Larry Dieker Chapter at the Spaghetti Western Ristorante on Shepherd, south of I-10.

Two of Houston’s brightest young and rising sports media stars were our contributing guests – and both raised the bars on their easy-to-like public styles as being terrific in person. And both spoke informatively on the Astros and their individual working experiences.

For those of you sports fans who may not know because of your current residences under large local rocks, Julia Morales is the bright and eager-to-take-on new challenges field reporter for ROOT Sports at all Astros baseball and Rockets basketball games. Evan Drellich serves as the beat writer for Astros baseball, but also does op-ed pieces and coverage of all major sports in Houston. Ironically, both have been on their separate Houston sports jobs since 2013, the year the Astros moved to the American League.

Julia grew up in Plano, Texas, outside Dallas, as the son of a high school track coach, an athlete in her own right, an eventual member of the Kilgore Junior College Rangerettes, a UT Austin journalism/media graduate, and a die-hard Dallas Cowboys football fan. (North Texas folk are prone to that malady, don’t you know?) Evan is a New Yorker. He grew up a red-blooded Mets baseball fan.

Arriving late for our SABR speakers/dinner meeting, my involvement with a chicken-laced Caesar Salad as each wonderful guest spoke denied me the opportunity of taking notes, but I do not recall Julia also expressing any die-hard devotion to the Texas Rangers during her childhood years. Wishing won’t make it so now, but the professionalism of both media speakers in behalf of the Astros, urges me to raise the question that maybe we share with others: How do two people from Dallas and New York, who grew up loving the Cowboys and Mets, box up all of their childhood passions and appear to be, at least, objectively supportive of any team from Houston winning anything? It is a fact they do it well. It is a puzzlement that any childhood emotionally-invested fan could ever really make the switch.

Maybe the answer is this simple. Julia and Evan both grew up, but people like me do not. I was a rabid Houston Buffs fan as a kid and an aspirant future writer or broadcaster of the game. While pretending to broadcast a game from the Knothole Gang back in 1950, a buddy, and my only listener, suddenly asked: “Could you do this good a job doing the play-by-play for the Dallas Eagles?”

“No,” I said. “They would fire me inside of one inning for being partial to Houston!” Julia and Evan appear to be better than that.

Julia regaled us with stories of her learning curve on the long season baseball road. She regaled that the doughnut hamburgers in Pittsburgh were an item to-die-for. And we believed her. In fact, some of us would only have needed to be in the room with that delicacy for the evening to gain ten pounds. Julia also impressed us with how much she’s learned about baseball from her three seasons on the road. The dailiness of baseball may be the greatest educative feature about the way the game is played. And we shall attest to the fact too that her post-game skills and interviews are further testament to her growth about baseball over the past three seasons. She’s doing very well and would be sorely missed if she were to depart the ROOT Astros team. – She’s also improved at dodging Gatorade showers while interviewing game heroes.

A link to more on Julia Morales:

Evan Drellich Houston Chronicle Sports Astros Beat Writer SABR Speaker, 01/18/16

Evan Drellich
Houston Chronicle Sports
Astros Beat Writer
SABR Speaker, 01/18/16

Evan writes at a maturity level beyond his apparently young age and experience. He has a great understanding of the game and he writes incisively of the Astros needs, but he avoids the corner that so many sports writers paint themselves into of becoming something of the “nagging partner” who is always ready to tell the club what they “should” and “should not” do to improve the team. He simply lays out the facts for everyone to see, fans and the club alike, for the sake of drawing their own conclusions. When Evan does enlist possible answers, he is never shaming or pushy. Just factual. As in, “here are the choices.” – I told Evan this last night: He’s now my new favorite locally active writer. And not because I always agree with his conclusions.  But because he always seems to start a topic with the right questions. The world belongs to those who, through intelligence or luck, come up with the right answers to the right questions. – Getting the right answers to the wrong questions does nothing to improve a bad situation. – Good Luck to you too, Evan, but please! As Houston fans, we would love to have you tell us sometime, as a Mets kid fan, how you really still feel about former Astros pitcher Mike Scott.

A link to more on Evan Drellich:^google|twcamp^serp|twgr^author

Beyond the two excellent speakers, we again want to thank Jim Kreuz for coming up with another fine meeting program!

We also want to congratulate Larry Miggins for becoming the first winner of or SABR Chapter’s annual Bob Dorrill Award for Community Service to Baseball! It will be awarded this Thursday night, January 21, 2016, at the Annual Baseball Winter Banquet hosted by the Sugar Land Skeeters at Constellation Field, starting at 7:00 PM. Pre-paid attendees will need to pick up their banquet tickets at the front office door upon arrival. – Thanks to Ira Liebman and all the other great Skeeters people for making this important part of our Houston Area Hot Stove League season possible!

Another Reminder – Fan Fest will be held by the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park this coming Saturday, January 23, 2016, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. SABR will have a table there, promoting SABR membership and selling copies of our wonderful “Houston Baseball: The Early Years, 1861-1961.” Please join us. And if you would like to help man the SABR table, please contact Bob Dorrill at your earliest opportunity.

The winner of Tom White’s tough “Who died on This Date in History?” quiz was first time meeting attendee and SABR member, Larry Wemberley. – Welcome, Larry, and please come back and bring your baseball knowledge and moxie with you on a regular basis.

Thank you! Now Let’s Play Ball! … Soon!



Take Me Out To The ‘Stros Game

January 18, 2016

Minute Maid Park 3

TAKE ~ me out to the ‘STROS-GAME,

Don’t boom the music so LOUD!

Lose all the rappers – and tee shirt SHOTS,

They-make-me-so-mad ~ that ~ I-can-see-SPOTS!

Let’s just ROOT, ROOT, ROOT for the ASTROS,

Organ music will do all the SAME!

And if – THEY – DON’T  ~  WIN – IT – THIS YEAR,





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