Sunday, December 6, 2015

1985 and I-70

            The 1985 Series will be remembered for a call at first base, where umpire Don Denkinger, in the bottom of the ninth, ruled Jorge Orta of the Royals runner safe at first, when he was obviously out. The aftermath following that incorrect ruling led to an historic rally by Kansas City to win Game Six, and that momentum carried them to a Game Seven victory, beating the cross-state Cardinals in the Series.

            But how did we get there?

            The Cardinals paced the National League East winning 101 games, barely finishing ahead of the Mets, who won 98, and were with them through most of that summer. The biggest lead the Cardinals had that year was 4 games.
            The Cards relied great defense, surprising offense and strong pitching that got them to the top of the East in June. They led the league in batting, runs scored and stolen bases (led by Vince Coleman's league record 110 steals).
            John Tudor was their ace, winning 21 games with a sub-2.00 ERA. Joaquin Andujar also won 21. This was the year of Whitey Herzog's 'bullpen by committee" who compiled 44 saves, which was second in the league to the Cubs.
            That being said, Dwight Gooden of the Mets had one of the all-time great pitching seasons that year. The 21 year old went 24-4 with a miniscule 1.53 ERA, the lowest since Bob Gibson in 1968, and was a main reason that the Mets battled until the last week of the season. He, Darryl Strawberry and Gary Carter all have very strong years.
            The Dodgers, the NL West champions, won 95 games and had an easier pennant chase, finishing ahead of the Reds by 5 1/2 games. The Dodgers had the best pitching staff ERA in 1985, and were buoyed by Orel Hershiser going 19-3, with Fernando Valenzuela picking up 17 wins. Jerry Reuss and Bob Welch each won 14 games, and both had a sub-3.00 ERA.
            Their offense was led by Pedro Guerrero, who had a 32/87/.320 slash line. No Dodger drove in more than 100 runs.
            They hit first place in mid-July, and never looked back.

            In the AL, the Royals outlasted the Angels for the pennant, winning the division by 1 game. They hit first place for good on October 2nd, beating the second place Angels with 5 games left, and won 4 of those next five to win outright.
            They had strong pitching, led by Bret Saberhagen's 20 wins, Charlie Liebrandt won 17, while Mark Gubicza and Danny Jackson each had fourteen. Dan Quisenberry had 37 saves out of the pen.
            George Brett led the offense with a 30/112/.335, and Steve "Bye Bye" Balboni hit a team record 36 homers that year, a record that still stands...believe it or not.
            In the East, Toronto led the way to the first American League title won by a non-American team. They won 99 times, beating  the Yankees by 2 games at the end. But it wasn't really that close. Toronto hit first place for good on May 12th, and despite losing 5 of their last 6 games, were still able to best the Yankees at the end.     
            The Blue jays had the most impressive outfield that year, with Lloyd Moseby (18/70/.259/37 SB), Jesse Barfield (27/84/.289/22 SB) and Jorge Bell (28/95/.275/21 SB) all superb defensively as well. They had 3 starters that won at least 14 games. Dennis Lamp went 11-0 out of the bullpen with 2 more saves for good measure. And they had 3 relievers that saved 10 or more games.

            So, let's delve into the numbers, AL offense first.

            The first number that I reach is the overall raw number, which is the straight numbers entered at face value. This means not being compared to any other players, team or league performances. Just the player's season as a whole. Most times, these replicate themselves in the same order when I compare these performances to the league's performances. In this case, a team that has a strong offensive lineup may inflate a player's numbers, where a weaker team may deflate to some degree. So a strong performance on a weak team will be highlighted in this way.
            The same thought goes into my comparison against the player's individual team, and then combining the averaging those to get a truer number.
            So, the raw numbers (and the number against the league) for the AL offense top 10 are:
  1. Don Mattingly                        Yankees
  2. Rickey Henderson      Yankees
  3. George Brett               Royals
  4. Eddie Murray              Orioles
  5. Cal Ripken                  Orioles
  6. Dave Winfield            Yankees
  7. Wade Boggs                Red Sox
  8. Carlton Fisk                White Sox
  9. Jim Rice                      Boston
  10. Kirk Gibson                Tigers

            The numbers against their team averages are:
  1. George Brett               Royals
  2. Eddie Murray             Orioles
  3. Don Mattingly            Yankees
  4. Carlton Fisk                White Sox
  5. Kirk Gibson                Tigers
  6. Rickey Henderson      Yankees
  7. Lance Parrish              Tigers
  8. Pete O'Brien                Rangers
  9. Phil Bradley                Mariners
  10. Harold Baines             White Sox

            Before I go into the overall number, we'll look at the pitching numbers next, using the same parameters as mentioned above, the top 5 overall performers in the AL were:
  1. Bret Saberhagen          Royals
  2. Ron Guidry                 Yankees
  3. Charlie Liebrandt        Royals
  4. Donnie Moore             Angels
  5. Dave Steib                  Blue Jays

            And their performances against their teams:
1.      Bert Blyleven             Indians/Twins
2.      Charlie Hough            Rangers
3.      Mike Moore               Mariners
4.      Greg Harris                Rangers
5.      Bret Saberhagen         Royals

The BBWAA voting was as follows, first the MVP:
  1. Don Mattingly            Yankees                      35 145 .324
  2. George Brett               Royals                         30 112 .335
  3. Rickey Henderson      Yankees                      24  72  .314  80 SB
  4. Wade Boggs               Red Sox                        8   78  .368
  5. Eddie Murray              Orioles                         31 124 .297
  6. Donnie Moore             Angels                         8-8       1.92     31 SV
  7. Jesse Barfield              Blue Jays                     27  84  .297  22 SB
  8. George Bell                 Blue Jays                     28  95  .275  21 SB
  9. Harold Baines             White Sox                   22 113 .309
  10. Bret Saberhagen          Royals                         20-6     2.87

And the Cy Young vote went:
  1. Bret Saberhagen          Royals                         20-6     2.87
  2. Ron Guidry                 Yankees                      22-6     3.27
  3. Bert Blyleven              Indians/Twins             17-16   3.16
3.   Dan Quisenberry         Royals                         8-9       2.37     37 Svs
5.   Charlie Leibrandt        Royals                         17-9     2.69
     (there was a tie in the voting for 3rd place)

The final numbers that I reached were:
1.      George Brett        
2.      Bert Blyleven
3.      Bret Saberhagen
4.      Don Mattingly
5.      Rickey Henderson

In the National League, the top 10 offensive players, according to the raw numbers were:
  1. Pedro Guerrero           Dodgers
  2. Willie McGee              Cardinals
  3. Dale Murphy               Braves
  4. Darryl Strawberry       Mets
  5. Tom Herr                    Cardinals
  6. Gary Carter                 Mets
  7. Dave Parker                Reds
  8. Ryne Sandberg           Cubs
  9. Jack Clark                   Cardinals
  10. Mike Marshall             Dodgers

And measured against their teams performances, the rankings are:
  1. Dale Murphy               Braves
  2. Pedro Guerrero           Dodgers
  3. Darryl Strawberry       Mets
  4. Dave Parker                Reds
  5. Gary Carter                 Mets
  6. Ryne Sandberg           Cubs
  7. Tim Raines                  Expos
  8. Bob Horner                 Braves
  9. Mike Schmidt             Phillies
  10. Mike Marshall             Dodgers

Over to the pitching, the raw numbers showed:
  1. Dwight Gooden          Mets
  2. John Tudor                  Cardinals
  3. Bob Welch                  Dodgers
  4. Orel Hershiser             Dodgers
  5. Rick Reuschel             Pirates

Against their team averages, we get:
  1. Rick Reuschel             Pirates
  2. Dwight Gooden          Mets
  3. Dennis Eckersley        Cubs
  4. John Tudor                  Cardinals
  5. Bob Welch                  Dodgers

Then the BBWAA voters choices for MVP were:
  1. Willie McGee             Cardinals                    10  82 .353 56 SB
  2. Dave Parker                Reds                            34 125 .312
  3. Pedro Guerrero           Dodgers                      33  87  .320
  4. Dwight Gooden          Mets                            24-4     1.53
  5. Tom Herr                    Cardinals                     8   110 .302
  6. Gary Carter                 Mets                            32 100 .281
  7. Dale Murphy               Braves                         37 111 .300
  8. Keith Hernandez         Mets                            10  91  .309
  9. John Tudor                  Cardinals                     21-8     1.93
  10. Jack Clark                   Cardinals                     22  87  .281

And the Cy Young vote was:
  1. Dwight Gooden          Mets                            24-4     1.53 (unanimous)
  2. John Tudor                  Cardinals                     21-8     1.93
  3. Orel Hershiser             Dodgers                      19-3     2.03
  4. Joaquin Andujar          Cardinals                     21-12   3.40
  5. Fernando Valenzuela  Dodgers                      17-10   2.45

My final numbers were:
  1. Dwight Gooden
  2. Dale Murphy
  3. Rick Reuschel
  4. Pedro Guerrero
  5. Darryl Strawberry

            In a way, the term Most Valuable is very subjective, and will always be that way. The best player in the league should be the player that means the most to his team, and may have intangibles that don't translate well into numerical data. Does the league's MVP need to be from a contending team? Maybe. Maybe not. There have been palyers that have won the award for a last place team, so why were they the MOST valuable.
            Keep in mind, that the MVP may not translate into the best overall player in the league. It's not a Player of the Year award.
            If we were to look at the overall best players in each league for 1985, using just the raw numbers, which give us a flat look at the outright performances, the top 5 in each league were:
            In the offense rich AL
  1. Don Mattingly
  2. Rickey Henderson
  3. George Brett
  4. Eddie Murray
  5. Cal Ripken

And the pitching rich NL:

  1. Dwight Gooden
  2. John Tudor
  3. Bob Welch
  4. Pedro Guerrero
  5. Willie McGee

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