Cocaine in Montreal

Before baseball had a problem with performance enhancing drugs, it had a problem with recreational drugs. This was highlighted by the “Pittsburgh Drug Trials” of 1985. During these trials, a number of baseball players took the stand to discuss cocaine use in baseball. One of those players was Keith Hernandez.

At the time of the trials, Hernandez was a member of the New York Mets, having been traded in 1983 for pennies on the dollar. While on the stand, he suggested that 40% of ballplayers were using cocaine. Shortly after, Whitey Herzog (Hernandez’s former manager with the Cardinals) publicly agreed with Hernandez, stating that there were 11 “heavy users” on their team in the early 1980’s.

Herzog continued to say this…

It got so bad that when we went to Montreal, which was where they all seemed to get it, I had to have us fly in on the day of the game. That way, I knew we`d play decent for one night, even though the rest of the trip might be a lost cause

I decided to take a look at how well the Cardinals fared in Montreal on the first game of a series versus the remainder of the series. Herzog managed the Cardinals for 73 games in 1980 before becoming the team’s general manager in August. At the end of the season, he would became the Cardinals full-time manager. I limited my search to Herzog’s tenure in 1980 until 1983. Since we don’t have the Cardinals travel logs and flight schedules, we have to assume that they actually did in fact arrive on the day of the first game in each series.

For the sake of record keeping, a one game series will be counted towards the “first day’s” record, even though there aren’t subsequent games in the series. Also, a couple of these series begin with doubleheaders. These will also be counted towards the “first day’s” record.

A few of the first games of the series began around 2PM, when the Cardinals were in St. Louis the previous day. A flight from St. Louis to Montreal takes approximately 4.5 hours while also losing an hour changing time zones. The team would have to leave St. Louis very early to make it to Montreal if you factor in trips to and from the airport. Realistically, it would be very difficult to have regular game day preparation (ie batting practice) with this travel schedule. But for the sake of Herzog’s theory, we’ll allow it.

1980

Date STL MON W/L
7/10/80
3
4
L
7/11/80
5
3
W
Date STL MON W/L
9/29/80
2
5
L
9/30/80
2
7
L
10/1/80
0
8
L


1981

Date STL MON W/L
5/25/81
3
5
L
5/26/81
3
4
L
5/27/81
1
4
L
Date STL MON W/L
8/14/81
3
1
W
Date STL MON W/L
9/15/81
3
2
W
9/15/81
3
4
L
9/16/81
7
1
W
9/16/81
3
4
L
9/17/81
7
4
W

*An interesting fact about the strike-shortened 1981 season is that the Cardinals finished with the best overall record in the National League East, but did not win the first or second half titles. The Expos would win the 2nd half title and advance to the postseason.


1982

Date STL MON W/L
6/7/82
2
3
L
6/8/82
5
4
W
6/9/82
1
5
L
Date STL MON W/L
7/29/82
3
4
L
7/30/82
4
5
L
7/31/82
10
1
W
8/1/82
4
5
L
Date STL MON W/L
9/27/82
4
2
W
9/28/82
4
5
L


1983

Date STL MON W/L
4/21/83
5
6
L
Date STL MON W/L
7/28/83
3
2
W
7/28/83
10
1
W
7/29/83
2
7
L
7/30/83
3
2
W
7/31/83
5
6
L
Date STL MON W/L
9/19/83
0
3
L
9/19/83
3
6
L
9/20/83
1
10
L


Final Tally

Day W L W% R RA Pyth
First Day
5
9
.357
47
48
.490
Remaining Days
6
12
.333
67
85
.394

The overall record (.357 win %) on the first day was slightly better than the record on the other days (.333 win %). But the Cardinals played significantly better when we look at their pythogorean record, which uses runs scored and runs allowed.

This is hardly enough games to be considered an adequate sample, and there are too many assumptions to make a definitive assessment. We don’t know for sure how many times they actually traveled on the day of the first game. My guess is that they did it for days where the first game was a night game, although I do question if they did it for afternoon games. With the information we have, it does appear that an altered travel schedule did help the team to some extent.

The mere fact that a manager would even have to consider this type of travel schedule to keep their players clean is quite sad. Cocaine use was a major problem not only in baseball, but in many American cities. However, the Cardinals would win the World Series in 1982, so their quality of play wasn’t diminished too much.

For further reading on the Pittsburgh Drug Trials, consider reading The Pittsburgh Cocaine Seven, by Aaron Skirboll.

Multi-HR Games

Bryce Harper is on a tear, hitting multiple homeruns in consecutive games. At just 22 years old, he already has 7 career games with multiple homeruns. This got me stuck in a play index wormhole (If you aren’t using play index at Baseball-Reference.com, you are missing out). Here are some cool (my opinion, hopefully yours as well) lists I came up with.

*Note: These lists include stats from 1914-2015

Most Career HR without a Multi-HR Game:

Player HR
Lou Piniella
102
Grady Hatton
91
Dom DiMaggio
87
Del Unser
87
Johnny Edwards
81
Will Venable
78
Jason Kendall
75
Olmedo Saenz
73
Tom Brookens
71
Jerry Hairston Jr
70
Glenn Hubbard
70

Fewest Career HR with a 3-HR game:

Player HR
Merv Connors
8
Bill Glynn
10
Tuffy Rhodes
13
Jose Ortiz
14
Don Leppert
15
Jim Tobin
17
Del Wilber
19
Jim Pendleton
19
Manny Jimenez
26
Steve Boros
26

Most Career HR without a 3-HR game:

Player HR
Rafael Palmeiro
569
Gary Sheffield
509
Fred McGriff
493
David Ortiz
470
Vladamir Guerrero
449
Jim Edmonds
393
Graig Nettles
390
Dwight Evans
385
Frank Howard
382
Tony Perez
379

Most Career 3-HR Games:

Player HR
Sammy Sosa
6
Johnny Mize
6
Mark McGwire
5
Carlos Delgado
5
Dave Kingman
5
Joe Carter
5
Barry Bonds
4
Alex Rodriguez
4
Albert Pujols
4
Ernie Banks
4
Lou Gehrig
4
Willie Stargell
4
Aramis Ramirez
4
Ralph Kiner
4
Steve Finley
4
Lance Parrish
4

Most Career Multi-HR Games:

Player HR
Babe Ruth
72
Barry Bonds
71
Sammy Sosa
69
Mark McGwire
67
Willie Mays
63
Hank Aaron
62
Alex Rodriguez
61
Ken Griffey Jr
55
Jimmie Foxx
55
Frank Robinson

54

Manny Ramirez
54

Players with 2 Career HR (both in same game):

Player Year
Babe Birrer
1955
Jess Doyle
1925
Derrick Gibson
1999
Brandon Harper
2006
Sammy Holbrook
1935
Tim Hyers
1999
Jack Knight
1926
Derek Lilliquist
1990
Doug Loman
1984
Brian McCall
1962
Bobby Pfeil
1971
Glen Stewart
1943

Only Players with 3-HR Games for 3 Different Teams:

Player Teams
Johnny Mize STL/NYG/NYY
Mark Teixeira TEX/ATL/NYY
Dave Kingman NYM/CHC/OAK
Alex Rodriguez SEA/TEX/NYY

Players with Multi-HR Games for the Most Teams:

Player Teams
Mike Cameron
8
Jeromy Burnitz
7
Reggie Sanders
7
Gary Sheffield
6
Fred McGriff
6
Jose Canseco
6
Dave Kingman
6
Moises Alou
6
Ron Gant
6
Matt Stairs
6
Todd Zeile
6
Benito Santiago
6
Glenallen Hill
6
Ty Wigginton
6

The New Baseball Gauge

My project over the winter was to overhaul the site. I believe it is a big improvement and I hope that you will feel the same way. Much of the previous version is included and I have made some pretty big additions.

New Metrics
The biggest addition to the new site are the metric selections. Previously, the user had the choice between WAR, Win Shares, and Win Shares Above Bench. Now there two versions of Wins Above Replacement: rWAR (Baseball-Reference) and gWAR (my calculation). In addition, I have included an “Above Average” (WAA) and “Above Greatness” (WAG) option. I am willing to add other versions of WAR, so long as they are available and updated on a daily basis during the season.

Customized Metrics
The user now has the ability to customize WAR, WAA & WAG. You can mix and match the batting, fielding, & pitching components from both Baseball-Reference and The Baseball Gauge’s version. Or you can just use the average of the two metrics.

Since both Baseball-Reference and The Baseball Gauge’s pitching metrics are based on runs allowed, there is also an option to use a Fielding Independent Pitching based version of pitching WAR.

Finally, there is an option to regress the fielding component to zero. This is for those who feel that fielding should have less of an impact on a player’s overall metric.

*To use customized metrics, it is required that you have cookies enabled in your browser options. They are usually enabled by default.

Pennant & Wild Card Win Expectancies
1964 National League
These are the expectancy that each team will win the division/league/wildcard based on their record that day and the remaining schedule. This is taken from the glossary:

On every day of every season, the remanining schedules are simulated 100,000 times. In the simulations, all teams are equal except for that the home team gets a home field advantage. This home field advantage is the record for all home team’s from five years before and five years after the current season.

For example, when simulating the 1978 season, the home field advantage used is 53.96%. This was the winning percentage for all home team’s from 1973-1983.

For the strike shortened years of 1981 (first half) and 1994, the original schedules were simulated. This is why no team finishes with 100% during those seasons.

100,000 simulations of the remaining schedules from every day in Major League Baseball history is no easy task. There were roughly 1.8 trillion games simulated from 1871-2014.

Bill James Favorite Toy
Jeter 3000 Favorite Toy
Bill James described these as “A method that takes into account a player’s age and performance level in predicted the probability that he will accumulate certain career stats.” They are included in each player’s page as well as each seasons page.

Similarity Scores
These are found in each player’s page. Similarity Scores gauge how similar two players are based on their statistics. The user can choose between career stats and stats up to a certain age.
Mike Trout’s Similarity Scores

Baseball Gauge Awards
The Baseball Gauge Awards are given to the top (or bottom) player in various statistical categories. The method for choosing winners is purely based on statistics, with no voting involved.

The stistical formulas are mostly made up of Components Above Average. To be the leader in a certain category, a player needs to excel in a combination of rate stats AND counting stats
2015 Baseball Gauge Awards (Batting)
2015 Baseball Gauge Awards (Pitching)

Player vs Player
Ted Williams vs Joe DiMaggio
This allows the user to select two players and compare their metrics. It accessed by going to a player’s page and selecting “Player vs Player” in the “Comparison” drop down menu.

JAWS Scores
Developed by Jay Jaffe in 2004 at Baseball Prospectus. It is meant to gauge a player’s Hall of Fame credentials by comparing them to Hall of Famers at the same position. JAWS is the average of a player’s career total Wins Above Replacement and the total of their seven best seasons (peak).

JAWS scores are included in player comparison pages, future hall of fame ballots, and Veterans Committee ballot pages.

Finally, Navigation has been improved. Table filtering will now automatically execute after a selection. There are other various additions and improvements throughout the site that would require to much time to highlight individually.

Enjoy!