The 1950 Philadelphia
, Phillies, or
'The Whiz Kids", as they had known to be called, won the National League
pennant for the first time since 1915. Prior to that, they had never finished
in first place.
33 years before the first pennant, 35 years to the second, and then 30 years to
the third National League championship, and eventually their first World
Championship, in 1980.
history has them being a little more successful in their pennant hopes, winning the Series in 2008, only to lose it
again in the following season.
1950 season is worth looking at, for a few reasons.
all, the Post Season awards were intriguing.
National League MVP was Jim Konstanty of the Whiz Kids. He set a league record
by appearing in more games that season, 74. He also had another national League
record of 22 saves to his credit. (saves were not an official statistic as of
yet), besting the 7 he had in the previous year.
looking back lo these 65 years later, it is easy to see the greater picture,
and also hard to see what MVP voters had seen or heard. But in looking at the
black and white numbers, and the theoretic numbers as well, Konstanty was not
the most deserving player that year. Nor was he the most deserving Phillie. In
fact, in looking at the results I have garnered, he was not even the best
pitcher on that Phillies staff.
had the lowest ERA on the club (but not enough innings to qualify for the
league leaders) and had the third most wins on the staff. But Robin Roberts'
numbers were batter than that.
Konstanty 16-7 2.66 22 saves 152.0 IP
Roberts 20-11 3.02 21
CG 5 SHO 304.1
that I use factors in saves, but not as heavily as it does wins, and it factors
in wins plus saves as a quotient based on games pitched in. Konstany pitched in 74 games, while Roberts
worked in 40 games. Had Konstanty been able to accomplish his same numbers in,
say, 63 games, then his ranking would have bested Roberts.
at the top 10 pitching performances for that year, Konstanty would be tenth,
that is, including two other non-qualifiers. That list is:
Jim Hearn NYG/STL 1.8209
Jansen NYG 1.6628
Early Wynn CLE 1.6421
Roberts PHI 1.6347
Whitey Ford NYY 1.6185
Spahn BOSN 1.6002
Simmons PHI 1.5921
Roe BKL 1.5834
Blackwell CIN 1.5820
Konstanty PHI 1.5324 (non
pitching averages for both leagues were low, with the NL's 1.3170 besting the AL
's 1.1739. Why is
this? Good question, and a great one for all the ages. Was it bad pitching, or
good hitting. More bad pitching than good hitting? Why is the AL
pitching mark so low? Was it because they
had to face Berra, DiMaggio and Ted Williams? Or was it, as the above table
shows, the lack of quality pitching in the AL
But the NL
mark is much better, and those pitchers had to face Kiner, Musial, Hodges and
Jackie Robinson. Of that table above, 3 of the pitchers are Hall of Famers, and
two were 300 game winners. But two of the Hall of Famers are from the NL.
I think it was just a bad year for American League pitchers, combined with the
talent laden American League lineups.
So, when we
look at the performances against their respective leagues, the top performers
in each league were:
Jansen NYG Mel
Roberts PHI Early Wynn CLE
Spahn BOS Vic Raschi NYY
Simmons PHI Eddie Lopat NYY
Roe BKL Joe Dobson BOS
are Whitey Ford in the AL, who would have placed 3rd, but only threw in 112
innings; and Jim Hearn who would have placed 1st in the NL, but pitched in just
134 innings combined
we look at performance against their team's average, a number that helps
players on bad teams, the breakdown is as follows:
Blackwell CIN Ned Garver STL
Spahn BOS Lou Brissie PHI
Roe BKL Bob Hooper PHI
Chambers PIT Stubby Overmire STL
Dickson PIT Bill Wight CHI
have been 2nd, and Ford 3rd, if they'd qualified, in theory at least.
combining these two numbers across the board, the results are:
- Blackwell CIN Garver STL
- Spahn BOS Parnell BOS
- Jansen NYG Wynn CLE
- Roe BKL Raschi NYY
- Roberts PHI Lopat NYY
not stop there, shall we. We'll look at these player's performances against
their league's power rankings, and see what that may tell us. The power ranking
is an average of the offensive numbers and the pitching numbers, and are a good
way to measure a well balanced team.
the teams with the best Power Rankings were
No surprises there as the 4
American League teams represented each won at least 92 games that year, while
the Phillies were the only National League team to crack the 90 win mark,
getting 91. But comparing the pitchers
against their team's 'Power Number" gives us this ranking:
The highest ranking AL
pitcher was Ned
Garver of the St. Louis Browns, who came in at seventeenth place. Konstanty was
Now, in the
American league, with a very top-heavy standings, 4 ninety game winners, the
Most Valuable Player for the season was Phil Rizzuto of the Yankees. In
reality, he may not have been the best player in the league. He may not have
been in the top three Italian-American players on the Yankees that year (Berra,
DiMaggio and Raschi are tough competitors in this respect). So we'll disect
those numbers in a minute.
part about comparing players of this ear and earlier, is the lack of hard,
concrete numbers dealing with a player's fielding prowess. Sure, a fielder may
led the league in fielding percentage, but is that a true gauge of their range?
On outfielder with a powerful, accurate throwing arm will not garner as many
outfield assists as a perceived weaker armed outfielder.
infielder who's quicker on their feet than another may get 200 more fielding
chances in a season than a slower player, and may make 3 errors in those 200
chances, and lose the fielding percentage race by hundreds of a percent,
through no fault of his own.
true across all eras, but more so in the pre-video days, when films are not as
plentiful and not every game was recorded or filmed for future review like it
is today. So we need to rely on anecdotal evidence.
Rizzuto, the pride of Richmond
Hill High School
was regarded as one of the top fielding shortstops of his day. Offensively, not
spectacular, but he does hold the distinction of being the only MVP in either
league to lead the league in sacrifice bunts. So there's that.
we delve into numbers, a brief qualifier to note...Ted Williams broke his arm
in the All-Star Game, and missed the second half of the season. In fact, the
break was so severe that he considered retiring after the season, with the fear
that he wouldn't be able to hit, so while his numbers were superb, he didn't
qualify for any of the statistical categories that he excelled in normally.
did that have on the Red Sox pennant aspirations? Well, the Red Sox finished
with the highest league lead in batting average, runs scored, runs created,
slugging and on base percentages, doubles and runs per game. So it's hard to
imagine Teddy Ballgame's impact not improving on those numbers, and that the
Sox may have been able to squeak past the Yankees for the AL Crown.
Sox utility player Billy Goodman won the American League batting crown,
appearing in 110 games, and garnering 424 official at-bats. During this era,
the qualifications for the batting championship required a player to have a
minimum of 2.6 official at-bats per each game that his team was scheduled for,
or roughly 400 at-bats. (Modern day, the qualifications are 3.1 plate
appearances per scheduled game, roughly 502 plate appearances) At the time,
there was some contention about his winning the crown, but as you can see, he
did legitimately qualify, given the parameters of the time.
look at the overall numbers, the total number before any filters or anything,
adding Ted Williams as a reference:
- Ted Williams BOS 2.7957 Stan
Musial STL 2.3079
Berra NYY 2.5514 Ralph
Kiner PIT 2.2184
Dropo BOS 2.5123 Duke
Snider BKL 2.1558
Stephens BOS 2.4760 Del
Ennis PHI 2.1467
DiMaggio NYY 2.4468 Bob
Elliott BOS 2.1459
Doby CLE 2.3055 Roy
Campanella BKL 2.1250
Goodman BOS 2.2995 Sid Gordon BOS 2.1105
Wertz DET 2.2528 Jackie
Robinson BKL 2.0859
DiMaggio BOS 2.249 Ted Kluszewski CIN 2.0720
Evers DET 2.408 Earl
Torgeson BOS 2.0715
Kell DET 2.180
then looking at numbers against their team average, the numbers reflect the
strength of the AL
hitters against the lesser numbers of the NL teams. Whether this is a result of
stronger NL pitching or not, but I won't dwell on that right now.
Robinson (WAS & CHI) Ralph Kiner PIT
Vernon (WAS & CLE) Stan Musial STL
Doby CLE Andy Pafko CHI
Berra NYY Hank Sauer CHI
Noren WAS Ted Kluszewski CIN
Zernial CHI Del Ennis PHI
Chapman PHI Bob Elliott BOS
Dillinger PHI Sid Gordon BOS
Fain PHI Enos Salughter STL
Williams BOS Tommy Glaviano STL
Now, a new
thing to look at, I am going to list the top producers in runs created. Runs
created is the biggest part of my formula, since a team wins games by scoring
runs, and obviously the more runs a player creates, or is responsible for, the
better their teams chances for getting wins, which is the point of playing the
game to begin with.
So for each
league, the top run creators were:
1. Vern Stephens BOS 239 Del Ennis PHI 187
Carl Furillo BKL 187
2. Yogi Berra NYY 212 Stan Musial STL 186
3. Walt Dropo BOS 211 Duke
Snider BKL 185
4. George Kell DET 207 Earl
Torgeson BOS 184
5. Joe DiMaggio NYY 204 Ralph
Kiner PIT 183
6. Bobby Doerr BOS 196 Gil
Hodges BKL 179
7. Vic Wertz DET 195 Bob
Elliott BOS 177
8. Dom DiMaggio BOS 194 Enos Slaughter STL 173
9. Larry Doby CLE 187 Jackie
Robinson BKL 166
10. Phil Rizzuto NYY 184 Willie
Jones PHI 163
interesting thing is how these numbers are reflected in the standings in 1950.
The Phillies with just one offensive player on these lists, and two top
pitchers atop those standings. And the Yankees very well represented on the
offensive lists and the pitching lists as well.
The final standings for the
Yankees 98 56 -
Tigers 95 59 3
Red Sox 94 60 4
Indians 92 62 6
Senators 67 87 31
White Sox 60 94 38
Philadephia 52 102 46
NL W L GB
Phillies 91 63 -
New York 86 68 5
Boston 83 71 8
St. Louis 78 75 12.5
Cincinnati 66 87 24.5
Cubs 64 89 26.5
Pirates 57 96 33.5
Pirates...Ralph Kiner, who ranks high in all these categories follows the old
baseball adage, "We could've finished last without you." However,
that shouldn't take away from the fact that he had a great season.
HR RBI AVG SLG OBP OPS RC/G Player
1 47 118 .272 .590 .408 .998 1.22
2 28 109 .346 .596 .437 1.034 1.27
3 36 92 .304 .591 .398 .990 1.03
4 28 124 .322 .533 .383 .915 1.40
5 34 144 .322 .583 .378 .961 1.55
All of the
above players had fantastic seasons, and would have been among the league
leaders in any season. Looking at these raw numbers, not adding any of the
filters, these easily represent the top players in both leagues.
looking at the players or their teams, and just judging by these offensive
numbers, if I were to pick one of these as my most valuable, or the top
offensive player, number 5 would have my vote. The RC/G is runs created per
game and this player, of these 5, has the best runs created, once again, the
crux of what makes wins. That player, in this sample, is Walt Dropo, who was
the AL Rookie of the Year that year.
said, I think that he MVP voters in 1950 missed the boat on their awards. The
top 5 vote-getters were:
Yogi Berra Eddie
George Kell Del
Bob Lemon Ralph
My pick for
each league would be:
Yogi Berra Stan
Mel Parnell Jim
I would have voted for in each league.