October 24, 2017

Hardball Retrospective – The Journey From Expansion to Competitive Team

August 10, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

In the comments section from one of my recent articles, “nocaBall” posed the following query: “I would like to ask your opinion of how many years it takes an expansion team to develop a complete team? I do not mean using players who were part-timers, or who pitched less than a full season, but a team comprised of mostly full-time players, or at least a platooned player, such as Ken Boswell was with the Mets in ’69. Which expansion team did it fastest, and what would you say the average number of seasons it took for an expansion team to be on par with the other teams?”

I compiled my findings and shared the results in the GoogleDocs link below.

# Seasons For MLB Expansion Teams To Become Competitive

To summarize, the majority of MLB expansion franchises are able to field a competitive team within 9 to 12 years of their inaugural season. This conclusion is based on the research for my book, “Hardball Retrospective”. The Mets were the fastest expansion team to field a competitive ballclub, completing the task in 1969 (8 seasons from the inception of the franchise). The Angels were the largest outlier. While the Halos exceeded the PA and BFP requirements (see Methodology below) within 8 seasons, the franchise failed to transcend the league average WAR and Win Share marks until 1993 (32 seasons).

Methodology

In “Hardball Retrospective”, I reconstructed every team roster from 1901-2013 using players that signed their first Major League contract with each organization.

Requirements are as follows:

  • The “Original” player-roster team totals exceed 4000 PA and 4000 BFP.
  • The total WAR and Win Shares for the “Originals” was greater than the league average for that particular season.

# Seasons For MLB Expansion Teams To Become Competitive

Legend:

IS = Inaugural Season

CT = First Year Fielding a “Complete” Team *

CTdiff = difference (CT-IS)

FY1 = First Year with OWAR and/or OWS above LeagueAverage

FY1diff = difference (FY1-IS)

FY2 = First Year with OWAR AND OWS above LeagueAverage

FY2diff = difference (FY2-IS)

IS TEAM CT CTdiff FY1 FY1diff FY2 FY2diff
1961 Angels 1969 8 1983 22 1993 32
1961 Senators II / Rangers 1975 14 1978 17 1978 17
1962 Colt .45’s / Astros 1969 7 1969 7 1972 10
1962 Mets 1969 7 1969 7 1969 7
1969 Royals 1977 8 1977 8 1977 8
1969 Pilots / Brewers 1978 9 1978 9 1979 10
1969 Expos / Nationals 1978 9 1978 9 1979 10
1969 Padres 1977 8 1978 9 1978 9
1977 Mariners 1986 9 1988 11 1989 12
1977 Blue Jays 1989 12 1990 13 1994 17
1993 Rockies 2003 10 2007 14 2007 14
1993 Marlins 2003 10 2003 10 2003 10
1998 Diamondbacks 2004 6 2006 8 2008 10
1998 (Devil) Rays 2007 9 2008 10 2008 10
    Mean 9 Mean 11 Mean 12.6
Median 9 Median 9.5 Median 10
Mode 9 Mode 9 Mode 10

(* – at least 4000 PA for batters and 4000 BFP for pitchers)

Terminology

OWAR – Wins Above Replacement for players on “original” teams

OWS – Win Shares for players on “original” teams

Achieving Success

1969 “Original” New York Mets

OWAR: 44.9     OWS: 286     OPW%: .537     (87-75) 

The 1969 Mets satisfied all of the requirements to progress from an expansion franchise to legitimate contender in an eight-year span (1962-69). The “Original” Mets claimed the NL Eastern Division title by three games over the Cubs. Tom Seaver (25-7, 2.21) achieved Cy Young honors and placed runner-up in the MVP balloting. “The Franchise” completed 18 of 35 starts, struck out 208 batsmen and led the circuit in victories. Jerry Koosman (17-9, 2.28) earned his second All-Star invitation and fashioned a career-best WHIP (1.058). Gary Gentry tallied 13 victories with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.168 WHIP in his inaugural campaign. Dick Selma aka “Mortimer Snerd” contributed 12 wins with an ERA of 3.68. Tug McGraw solidified the bullpen with 9 victories and 12 saves to complement his 2.24 ERA. Nolan Ryan whiffed 92 hitters in 89.1 innings spanning 10 starts and 15 relief outings. Cleon Jones supplied a .340 BA and merited his lone All-Star appearance. Eight-time Gold Glove winner Paul “Motormouth” Blair swatted 26 big-flies, nabbed 20 bags and scored 102 runs.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Cleon Jones LF 6.31 29.97 Tom Seaver SP 6.16 31.75
Paul Blair CF 6.11 27.04 Jerry Koosman SP 5.24 26
Ron Swoboda RF 0.18 9.59 Gary Gentry SP 1.37 15.24
Dick Selma SP 2.05 12.82
Mike Fiore 1B 2.52 15.17 Jim McAndrew SP 0.58 7.89
Ken Boswell 2B 2.36 12.56 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Bud Harrelson SS 1.34 14.33 Tug McGraw RP 1.8 13.64
Kevin Collins 3B/2B -0.18 2.04 Billy Wynne SP 0.95 7.31
Duffy Dyer C 0.45 2.69 Nolan Ryan SP 0.27 6.2
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Jim Hardin SP 0.56 6.19
Ed Kranepool 1B 0.77 7.74 Jerry Johnson SP -0.01 4.83
Rod Gaspar RF 0.03 5.32 Steve Renko SP -0.27 4.41
Juan Rios 2B -1.39 0.97 Don Shaw RP -1.11 0.59
Bob Heise SS 0.11 0.52 Bob Johnson RP 0.18 0.5
Jerry Morales LF -0.2 0.39 Jesse Hudson RP 0 0.05
John Stephenson C -0.15 0.01 Bill Edgerton RP -0.47 0
Danny Frisella RP -0.19 0
Les Rohr RP -0.3 0

1977 “Original” Kansas City Royals

OWAR: 40.3     OWS: 246     OPW%: .598     (97-65)

1977 Royals secured the pennant and outlasted the Twins by a two-game margin. Kansas City paced the American League in OWAR and OWS. George Brett (.312/22/88) laced 32 doubles and registered 105 tallies. Al Cowens (.312/23/112) placed runner-up in the American League MVP balloting while recording personal-bests in runs (98), hits (189), triples (14), home runs and RBI. Ruppert Jones belted 24 big-flies and Frank “Smooth” White earned his first of eight Gold Glove Awards. Dennis Leonard (20-12, 3.04) finished fourth in the AL Cy Young vote and struck out a career-high 244 batsmen. Paul Splittorff fashioned a 16-6 record with a 3.69 ERA. Doug Bird ascended to the closer’s role and mustered 11 victories and 14 saves while Mark “Country” Littell added 8 wins and 12 saves.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Tom Poquette LF 1.33 10.45 Dennis Leonard SP 6 23.47
Ruppert Jones CF 3.59 22.83 Paul Splittorff SP 3.35 15.25
Al Cowens RF 4.09 26.71 Greg Minton SP 0.09 0.69
Steve Staggs DH/2B -0.63 4.81
1B
Frank White 2B 1.58 12.49 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Rodney Scott SS/2B 0.25 8.79 Doug Bird RP 1.3 11.18
George Brett 3B 5.98 29.1 Mark Littell RP 0.87 10.62
John Wathan C 0.88 4.94 Bob McClure RP 1.1 8.5
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Bobby Castillo SW 0.07 0.72
Joe Zdeb LF -0.06 4.8 George Throop RP 0.08 0.7
Jim Wohlford LF -0.42 3.24 Randy McGilberry RP -0.03 0.08
Clint Hurdle RF 0.19 1.36 Gary Lance RP 0.01 0
Sheldon Mallory RF -0.39 1.34 Tom Bruno RP -0.73 0
Willie Wilson CF 0.14 0.92
U. L. Washington SS 0.13 0.75
Ron Washington SS 0.04 0.49
Jamie Quirk DH -1.28 0.36
Mark Williams RF -0.01 0.02

1978 “Original” San Diego Padres

OWAR: 46.6     OWS: 307     OPW%: .509     (82-80)

San Diego finished eight games behind Los Angeles for the 1978 National League Western Division title. Dave Winfield (.308/24/97) drilled 30 two-base hits and stole 21 bags. Outfield mate Gene Richards matched Winfield in batting average and pilfered 37 bases. Shortstop prodigy Ozzie Smith collected the 1978 NL Rookie of the Year Award primarily due to his proficiency on defense. “The Wizard of Oz” succeeded on 40 of 52 stolen base attempts. Mike Ivie contributed a .308 BA in a part-time role. Mike Caldwell (22-9, 2.36) placed runner-up in the Cy Young balloting, posted a career-best WHIP of 1.064 and led the League with 23 complete games. Randy Jones notched 13 victories with an ERA of 2.88.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Johnny Grubb LF 2.89 19.05 Mike Caldwell SP 7.97 27.99
Gene Richards CF/LF 2.64 23.49 Randy Jones SP 2.02 13.87
Dave Winfield RF/CF 4.22 28.04 Bob Owchinko SP 1.25 8.53
Bob Shirley SP 0.31 7.09
Mike Ivie 1B 1.31 13.41 Dave Freisleben SP -2.27 0
Tucker Ashford 2B/3B 0.04 3.79 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Ozzie Smith SS 2.21 18.98 Mark Lee RP 0.32 5.38
Bill Almon 3B -0.62 7.88 Dan Spillner RP -0.3 4.32
Rick Sweet C -0.2 5.32 Dave Wehrmeister RP -0.18 0.02
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Juan Eichelberger RP -0.27 0
Jerry Turner LF 1.09 8.18 Steve Mura SP -0.63 0
Broderick Perkins 1B -0.44 2.46
Dave Roberts C -0.04 2.41
Don Reynolds LF 0.08 2.23
Barry Evans 3B -0.17 1.65
Jim Wilhelm CF 0.18 1.07
Chuck Baker 2B -0.21 1.04
Mike Champion 2B -0.19 0.97
Bob Davis C -0.31 0.3
Tony Castillo C -0.08 0.14
Jim Beswick RF -0.27 0.06

1972 “Original” Houston Astros

OWAR: 54.7     OWS: 298     OPW%: .536     (87-75)

The ’72 Astros placed third in the National League West, only three games behind the Big Red Machine. Houston topped the Senior Circuit in OWAR. Joe L. Morgan topped the 50-stolen base mark for the first of five consecutive seasons. “Little Joe” paced the League with 122 runs, 115 walks and a .417 OBP. Cesar Cedeno (.320/22/82) led the NL with 39 doubles and commenced a streak of five straight Gold Glove campaigns. John Mayberry responded favorably to a full-time role, batting .298 with 25 jacks and 100 ribbies. Bob “Bull” Watson supplied a .312 BA and Doug “Red Rooster” Rader clubbed 22 round-trippers. Don Wilson delivered a 15-10 record with a 2.68 ERA and a WHIP of 1.147. Mound mate Larry Dierker crafted a 15-8 mark with a 3.40 ERA.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Bob Watson LF 2.83 25.98 Don Wilson SP 3.85 16.36
Cesar Cedeno CF 6.56 33.39 Larry Dierker SP 2.19 12.44
Rusty Staub RF 1.31 12.29 Scipio Spinks SP 2.17 9.64
Ken Forsch SP 0.22 5.59
John Mayberry 1B 3.81 27.21 Wayne Twitchell SP -0.56 5.05
Joe L. Morgan 2B 8.07 37.91 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Derrel Thomas SS/2B 0.19 9.3 Dave Giusti RP 2.26 12.57
Doug Rader 3B 2.59 19.46 Roric Harrison RP 1.38 7.65
Jerry Grote C 0.34 8.62 Tom Griffin SW 1.03 6.27
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Chris Zachary RP 1.13 4.65
Brock Davis CF 0.35 4.82 Tom Burgmeier RP -0.82 1.57
Walt Williams RF 0 4.81 Ed Acosta RP -0.92 1.34
Enzo Hernandez SS -0.98 4.32 Mike Cosgrove SW -0.14 0.18
Larry Howard C 0 1.95 Bill Greif SP -2.88 0
John Bateman C -0.71 1.85 J. R. Richard SP -0.57 0
Sonny Jackson SS -0.45 1.69
Fred Stanley SS -0.02 1.67
Rich Chiles LF 0.03 0.35
Cliff Johnson C 0.05 0.24
Ivan Murrell RF -0.07 0.01

2008 “Original” Arizona Diamondbacks

OWAR: 38.3     OWS: 240     OPW%: .521     (84-78)

Arizona fell two games short of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the National League Western Division crown in 2008. Second-sacker Dan Uggla slammed 32 four-baggers and knocked in 92 baserunners. Carlos Quentin enjoyed his finest campaign, belting 36 round-trippers, driving in 100 runs and placing fifth in the MVP vote. Stephen Drew socked 44 two-base hits and 21 dingers. Jack Cust went yard 33 times and coaxed a League-best 111 bases on balls. Conor Jackson batted .300 with 31 doubles while Lyle Overbay contributed 32 two-baggers. Mark Reynolds launched 28 circuit clouts.

Brandon Webb (22-7, 3.18) led the National League in victories and finished runner-up in the Cy Young balloting. Jose Valverde amassed 44 saves to lead the League. Future stars on the D-Backs roster included Justin Upton, Carlos Gonzalez and Max Scherzer.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Carlos Quentin LF 3.93 22.75 Brandon Webb SP 5.46 20.8
Scott Hairston CF 0.82 9.61 Greg Smith SP 1.81 9.12
Justin Upton RF 0.92 10.55 Vicente Padilla SP 1.22 7.55
Jorge De La Rosa SP 0.85 6.02
Conor Jackson 1B/LF 1.54 17.29 Max Scherzer SP 1.14 3.86
Dan Uggla 2B 4.02 23.97 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Stephen Drew SS 3.18 21.41 Jose Valverde RP 1.01 13.17
Mark Reynolds 3B 1.24 13.34 Javier Lopez RP 1.32 5.99
Chris Snyder C 2.45 14.19 Tony R. Pena RP 0.22 5.88
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Brian Bruney RP 1.22 5.87
Jack Cust LF 2.97 18.92 Lance Cormier RP 0.39 4.23
Lyle Overbay 1B 2.53 14.75 Duaner Sanchez RP 0.19 4.12
Rod Barajas C 1.57 10.18 Micah Owings SP 0.15 2.67
Miguel Montero C 0.95 6.31 Garrett Mock SW 0.34 1.85
Carlos Gonzalez CF 0.16 4.97 Vladimir Nunez RP 0.27 1.72
Chad Tracy 1B -0.64 4.91 Brandon Medders RP -0.01 1.03
Alberto Gonzalez SS -0.21 2.73 Phil Stockman RP 0.23 0.98
Emilio Bonifacio RF -0.39 2.07 Doug Slaten RP -0.21 0.92
Alex Cintron SS -0.08 2.04 Dustin Nippert SP -0.55 0.91
Robby Hammock C -0.16 0.58 Oscar Villarreal RP -0.6 0.49
Chris W. Carter LF 0.02 0.43 Brian Gordon RP 0.08 0.32
Wilkin Castillo LF -0.11 0.39 Edgar Gonzalez SP -0.34 0.31
Danny Richar 2B -0.29 0.34 Greg Aquino RP -0.75 0
Brian Barden 3B -0.06 0.05 Jason Bulger RP -0.5 0
Jamie D’Antona 1B -0.13 0.02 Matt Chico SP -0.44 0
Enrique Gonzalez RP -0.24 0
Ross Ohlendorf RP -1.45 0
Brad Penny SP -1.13 0
Bill C. White RP -0.6 0

1979 “Original” Milwaukee Brewers

OWAR: 43.6     OWS: 251     OPW%: .554     (90-72) 

The 1979 Brewers seized the American League Eastern Division title by a four-game margin over the Red Sox. Milwaukee led the Junior Circuit in OWS and OWAR. Darrell Porter (.291/20/112) registered 101 tallies and walked 121 times to top the leader boards. Sixto Lezcano produced a .321 BA with 28 jacks and 101 ribbies while earning his lone Gold Glove Award. “The Ignitor” Paul Molitor sparked the Brew Crew’s attack with 33 steals and a .322 BA in his sophomore season. “Stormin’” Gorman Thomas dialed long distance 45 times to lead the League while driving in a career-high 123 baserunners. Robin Yount contributed 26 doubles and Charlie Moore batted .300 in a limited role. Jim Slaton (15-9, 3.53), Lary Sorensen (15-14, 3.98) and Bill Travers (14-8, 3.89) solidified the starting rotation.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Sam Mejias LF -0.06 0.15 Jim Slaton SP 3.24 16.02
Gorman Thomas CF 3.21 25.87 Lary Sorensen SP 2.76 15
Sixto Lezcano RF 4.93 27.22 Bill Travers SP 2.27 13
Dick Davis DH -0.49 5.2 Kevin Kobel SP 1.16 7.87
1B Moose Haas SP -0.21 6.9
Paul Molitor 2B 4.31 26.76 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Robin Yount SS 0.93 14.37 Jerry Augustine RP 0.91 8.22
Jim Gantner 3B 0.49 6.15 Bill Castro RP 1.3 7.25
Darrell Porter C 6.12 32.66 Eduardo Rodriguez RP -0.05 3.59
BENCH POS OWAR OWS George Frazier RP -0.44 0.86
Charlie Moore C 1.67 13.43 Tom Hausman SP 1.69 5.95
Fernando Gonzalez 2B -0.92 4.26 Butch Edge SP 0.03 1.96
Rick Auerbach 3B 0.09 2.17
Lenn Sakata 2B 0.26 1.26
Gary Holle 1B -0.01 0.07
Jesus Vega DH -0.13 0

1979 “Original” Montreal Expos

OWAR: 53.9     OWS: 327     OPW%: .572     (93-69) 

Montreal topped the National League in OWAR and OWS in ’79. The Expos sailed to the pennant by ten games over the Phillies. Gary “Kid” Carter (.283/22/75) embarked on a stretch of 10 consecutive All-Star selections. Larry Parrish produced a .309 BA with 39 two-base hits and 30 big-flies. Andre “The Hawk” Dawson blasted 25 long balls and pilfered 35 bags. Warren Cromartie laced 46 doubles and Ellis Valentine mashed 21 taters. Gary Roenicke swatted 25 four-baggers in part-time play while fellow outfielder Tony Scott registered 37 stolen bases. Tim “Rock” Raines made his Major League debut at 19 years of age. Steve Rogers (13-12, 3.00) topped the League with 5 shutouts. David Palmer (10-2, 2.64), Scott Sanderson (9-8, 3.43) and Dan Schatzeder (10-5, 2.83) were deployed effectively in various roles.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Gary Roenicke LF 3.33 18.9 Steve Rogers SP 3.78 16.61
Andre Dawson CF 2.74 24.01 Dan Schatzeder SP 3.31 13.13
Ellis Valentine RF 0.4 14.41 David Palmer SP 2.25 11.23
Scott Sanderson SP 1.89 10.21
1B Balor Moore SP 0.01 5.7
Tony Bernazard 2B 0.6 2.56 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
SS Byron McLaughlin SW 1.29 11.04
Larry Parrish 3B 4.07 27.34 Shane Rawley RP 0.78 7.84
Gary Carter C 5.25 28.95 Dale Murray RP -1.09 3.15
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Bill Atkinson RP 0.22 2.08
Warren Cromartie LF 3.28 17.18 Bill Gullickson RP 0.02 0.14
Tony Scott CF 1.21 13.93 Gerry Hannahs SP 0.03 0.74
Barry Foote C 1.58 12.2 Craig Minetto SP -2 0.47
Jerry White RF 0.79 6.09 Bob James RP -0.21 0
Bombo Rivera LF 0.55 5.17
Terry Humphrey C -0.22 0.21
Tim Raines 0 0

2008 “Original” Tampa Bay Devil Rays

OWAR: 46.4     OWS: 254     OPW%: .528     (86-76)

Tampa Bay fell five games short of Boston for the division crown but managed to clinch the American League Wild Card berth in 2008. The Devil Rays topped the circuit in OWAR. Josh Hamilton (.304/32/130) topped the leader boards in RBI and total bases (331). Melvin Upton swiped 44 bases and slashed 37 doubles. Aubrey Huff (.304/32/108) notched career-highs in doubles (48) and RBI. Evan Longoria (.272/27/85) merited Rookie of the Year honors. Jorge Cantu (.277/29/95) ripped 41 two-base hits and registered personal-bests in homers and runs scored (92). James Shields (14-8, 3.56) anchored the Rays’ rotation and Dan Wheeler (3.12, 13 SV) fashioned a WHIP of 0.995.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Delmon Young LF -0.22 14.68 James Shields SP 3.58 14.99
B. J. Upton CF 2.89 21.72 Andy Sonnanstine SP 1.17 9.5
Josh Hamilton RF/CF 3.29 25.62 Seth McClung SP 1.5 6.13
Aubrey Huff DH 3.34 21.67 Brandon Backe SP -0.62 2.23
Jorge Cantu 1B/3B 1.26 19.75 Jeff Niemann SP -0.26 0.37
Akinori Iwamura 2B 1.96 20.36 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
SS Dan Wheeler RP 0.75 11.01
Evan Longoria 3B 4.29 21.07 Jose Veras RP 0.69 5.15
Shawn Riggans C -0.01 2.81 Chad Gaudin RP -0.13 4.95
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Doug Waechter RP 0.69 4.32
Carl Crawford LF 0.8 10.57 Jason Hammel SW -0.28 3.18
Elijah Dukes RF 1.62 10.41 Brian Stokes RP 0.56 2.75
Edgar Gonzalez 2B 0.65 7.29 David Price SW 0.39 1.41
Joey Gathright CF -0.83 4.37 Jeff Ridgway RP 0.09 0.71
Fernando Perez CF 0.53 2.43 Cedrick Bowers RP -0.53 0.08
Jonny Gomes DH -0.3 2.41 Lee Gardner RP -0.42 0
Rocco Baldelli DH 0.25 2.34 Juan Salas RP -0.2 0
Toby Hall C -0.12 1.72
Matt Diaz LF -0.39 0.6
Paul Hoover C -0.32 0.34
Elliot Johnson SS -0.22 0.33
Wes Bankston 1B -0.34 0.12
John Jaso C -0.12 0.1
Reid Brignac SS -0.1 0.1
Jason Pridie LF -0.06 0

2003 “Original” Florida Marlins

OWAR: 43.8     OWS: 260     OPW%: .522     (85-77)     

Florida finished in a dead heat with Montreal for second place in the National League Eastern Division in 2003, only two games behind Atlanta. Edgar Renteria (.330/13/100) succeeded on 34 of 41 stolen base attempts and established personal-bests in hits (194), doubles (47) and RBI. Luis Castillo batted .314 and collected the first of three straight Gold Glove Awards. Alex “Sea Bass” Gonzalez drilled 33 two-baggers and lofted 18 long balls. Randy Winn laced 37 doubles, scored 103 runs and supplied a .295 BA. Kevin Millar recorded career-highs with 25 taters and 96 ribbies. Livan Hernandez (15-10, 3.20) led the circuit with 8 complete games and mound mate Josh Beckett added 9 wins along with a 3.04 ERA. Miguel Cabrera plated 62 baserunners in 87 games as a rookie in ’03.                                                                                  

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Randy Winn LF 2.56 19.31 Livan Hernandez SP 6.33 21.08
Mark Kotsay CF 2.15 14.21 Josh Beckett SP 3.04 10.93
RF Claudio Vargas SP 1.41 6.65
Brian Meadows SP -0.27 3.12
Kevin Millar 1B 1.83 14.94 Nate Robertson SP 0.05 1.32
Luis Castillo 2B 3.12 23.37 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Edgar Renteria SS 4.62 25.78 Felix Heredia RP 1.48 8.18
Miguel Cabrera 3B/LF 0.08 8.66 Michael Tejera SW 0.01 3.19
Charles Johnson C 1.25 11.6 Will Cunnane RP 0.46 3.16
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Vic Darensbourg RP -0.36 0.26
Alex Gonzalez SS 1.79 20.48 Hector Almonte RP -0.75 0
Billy McMillon LF 0.62 5.12 Gary Knotts SP -1.05 0.73
Dave Berg 2B -0.41 2.37 Blaine Neal RP -0.95 0
Mike Redmond C 0.14 1.88 Kevin Olsen RP -1.13 0
Luis Ugueto 2B 0.01 0.21 Jason Pearson RP -0.54 0
Julio Ramirez CF -0.05 0

1989 “Original” Seattle Mariners

OWAR: 35.8     OWS: 242     OPW%: .543     (88-74) 

The ’89 Mariners battled the Royals to a photo finish as Kansas City emerged with the division crown by a lone victory. Alvin Davis (.305/21/95) set personal-bests in BA and bases on balls (101). Harold Reynolds delivered a .300 BA and earned his second Gold Glove Award. Ivan Calderon crushed 34 two-base hits and Ken Griffey Jr. (.264/16/61) placed third in the Rookie of the Year voting. Third-sacker Edgar Martinez and first-year shortstop Omar Vizquel broke into the Seattle lineup. Mark Langston whiffed 235 batsmen and fashioned a 16-14 record with a 2.74 ERA. Mike Moore (19-11, 2.61) finished third in the Cy Young Award balloting and merited his lone All-Star appearance. Bud H. Black contributed 12 victories with a 3.36 ERA. The M’s allocated the eighth inning relief responsibilities to Lee Guetterman (2.45, 13 SV) while closer duties were primarily handled by Mike Schooler (2.81, 33 SV).

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Phil Bradley LF 2.56 22.67 Mark Langston SP 5.35 19.74
Ken Griffey Jr. CF 1.59 14.24 Mike Moore SP 4.78 18.69
Ivan Calderon RF 1.71 17.65 Buddy Black SP 4.06 15.22
Dave Henderson DH/CF 2.42 18.29 Erik Hanson SP 2.64 9.01
Alvin Davis 1B 4.06 23.25 Clay Parker SP 1.61 6.8
Harold Reynolds 2B 4.13 20.59 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Spike Owen SS 0.46 13.58 Lee Guetterman RP 1.91 13.16
Darnell Coles 3B/RF -0.9 8.26 Mike Schooler RP 1.52 11.52
Dave Valle C 1.3 8.31 Ed Nunez RP -0.82 2.09
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Rick Luecken RP 0.21 2.01
Greg Briley LF 1.68 11.87 Darrel Akerfelds RP -0.09 0.42
John Moses RF 0.26 5.9 Bill Swift SP 0.52 5.92
Jim Presley 3B -1.07 5.15 Clint Zavaras SP -0.12 0.64
Omar Vizquel SS -0.83 3.2 Scott Nielsen RP -0.06 0.1
Donell Nixon CF -0.07 2.84 Mike Campbell SP -0.81 0
Edgar Martinez 3B -0.46 2.57 Brian Snyder RP -0.2 0
Orlando Mercado C -0.39 0.65 Matt Young SW -1.52 0
Mickey Brantley LF -1.13 0.55
Bill McGuire C -0.18 0.54
Mario Diaz SS -0.9 0.47
Dave Hengel LF -0.44 0.2

2007 “Original” Colorado Rockies

OWAR: 42.0     OWS: 264     OPW%: .546     (88-74) 

The Rockies paced the circuit in OWAR during the 2007 campaign. Colorado seized the National League Western Division title by a single game over San Diego. The runner-up for the NL MVP Award, left fielder Matt Holliday dominated opposition hurlers, belting 36 round-trippers and scoring 120 runs while topping the leader boards in batting average (.340), hits (216), doubles (50), RBI (137) and total bases (386). Troy Tulowitzki posted a .291 BA with 24 dingers, 99 ribbies and 104 runs scored which merited a second-place finish in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting. Todd Helton batted .320 and surpassed the 40-double plateau for the fifth straight season. Chone Figgins supplied a .330 BA and nabbed 41 bags. Brad Hawpe (.291/29/116) established personal-bests in home runs and RBI. Garrett Atkins contributed a .301 BA with 35 two-baggers, 25 taters and 111 RBI. Juan Pierre stole 64 bases in 79 attempts and delivered a .293 BA. Jeff Francis recorded a career-high 17 victories to lead the Rockies’ rotation. Manny Corpas saved 19 contests and fashioned a 2.08 ERA in his sophomore season.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Matt Holliday LF 5 27.86 Jeff Francis SP 4.75 14.01
Juan Pierre CF -0.19 13.82 Aaron Cook SP 3.04 9.29
Brad Hawpe RF 2.02 18.95 Jake Westbrook SP 2.27 8.36
Jorge Sosa SP 1.15 5.82
Todd Helton 1B 3.83 22.88 Jamey Wright SP 1.39 5.04
Craig Counsell 2B/3B 0.46 5.26 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Troy Tulowitzki SS 4.69 25.09 Manny Corpas RP 2.65 14.83
Chone Figgins 3B 2.92 19.47 Shawn Chacon RP 1.33 5.91
Josh Bard C 1.75 11.48 Sean Green RP 0.42 5.39
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Justin Miller RP 0.63 4.75
Garrett Atkins 3B 2.15 17.56 Justin Hampson RP 0.72 4.26
Juan Uribe SS 0.22 14 Ubaldo Jimenez SP 1.03 4.14
Ryan Spilborghs CF 0.69 8.19 Luis Ayala RP 0.44 3.43
Chris Iannetta C 0.27 4.1 Franklin Morales SP 1.31 3.35
Cory Sullivan CF -0.09 2.98 Scott Dohmann RP 0.73 2.66
Jeff Salazar RF 0.06 2.93 Ryan Speier RP 0.18 1.63
Ryan Shealy 1B -0.95 1.13 Chin-hui Tsao RP 0.1 1.24
Jeff Baker 1B -0.74 0.83 John Thomson SP 0.19 0.76
Seth Smith RF 0.21 0.74 Alberto Arias RP -0.01 0.48
Neifi Perez SS -0.17 0.63 Darren Clarke RP 0.09 0.19
Ian Stewart 3B -0.1 0.45 Josh Newman RP 0.01 0.1
Clint Barmes SS -0.24 0.3 Luke Hudson SP -0.3 0
Sean Barker LF -0.02 0.02 Jason Jennings SP -1.08 0
Joe Koshansky 1B -0.12 0.02 Juan Morillo RP -0.18 0

1994 “Original” Toronto Blue Jays

OWAR: 29.7     OWS: 187     OPW%: .506     (82-80) 

The ’94 Blue Jays placed third in the American League East behind the Red Sox and the Orioles. Jimmy Led paced the Toronto staff with a 17-4 mark along with an ERA of 3.27. Pat Hentgen fashioned a 13-8 record with a 3.40 ERA. Sidearm specialist Mark Eichhorn (6-5, 2.05) handled the setup chores. Jeff Kent (.292/14/68) proved power and average out the keystone position. John Olerud (.297/12/67) delivered a solid season after leading the American League with a .363 BA in the previous campaign. Geronimo Berroa (.306/13/65) seized a full-time role after bouncing between the minors and majors for several years. Derek Bell swiped 24 bases and produced a .311 BA.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Geronimo Berroa LF/DH 2.34 13.39 Pat Hentgen SP 4.71 15.22
Derek Bell CF 1.19 10.87 Jimmy Key SP 3.91 15
Mark Whiten RF 1.59 12.56 Todd Stottlemyre SP 2.91 9.7
Junior Felix DH/RF 1.57 10.74 David Wells SP 2.11 6.89
John Olerud 1B 2.1 13.43 David Weathers SP -0.73 3.64
Jeff Kent 2B 1.45 15.63 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Luis Sojo SS/2B 0.59 4.52 Mark Eichhorn RP 2.5 9.8
Tony Fernandez 3B 1.65 12.5 Tony Castillo RP 2.09 8.2
Pat Borders C -0.38 3.86 Jose Mesa RP 1.27 6.89
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Darren Hall RP 0.98 5.79
Ryan Thompson CF 2.12 9.83 Woody Williams RP 1.09 4.78
Glenallen Hill CF 1.44 8.98 Luis Aquino RP 0.57 3.76
Pedro Munoz LF 0.63 8.23 Graeme Lloyd RP 0 2.95
Ed Sprague 3B -0.66 6.01 Doug Linton RP 0.04 2.82
Nelson Liriano 2B -0.98 5.51 Steve Karsay SP 1.01 2.48
Carlos Delgado LF -0.12 2.74 Willie Blair RP -0.21 2.1
Randy Knorr C 0.34 2.28 Mike Timlin RP -0.1 1.85
Greg Myers C 0.11 1.93 Xavier Hernandez RP -0.5 1.52
Domingo Cedeno 2B -0.42 0.97 Vince Horsman RP -0.12 0.95
Tim Hyers 1B -0.52 0.95 Dane Johnson RP -0.23 0.23
Alex S. Gonzalez SS -0.32 0.82 Denis Boucher SW -0.43 0.11
Tom Quinlan 3B -0.11 0.37 Brad Cornett SP -0.37 0.03
Rob Butler LF -0.79 0.29 Scott Brow RP -0.87 0
Shawn Green LF -0.46 0.15 Aaron Small RP -0.07 0
Robert Perez LF -0.12 0.05 Paul Spoljaric SP -0.62 0
Rob Ducey RF -0.33 0.03
Greg O’Halloran C -0.11 0.02

1978 “Original” Texas Rangers

OWAR: 34.5     OWS: 209     OPW%: .458     (74-88) 

The ’78 Rangers tied the White Sox for last place in the American League West. However the club met all of the criteria for becoming a viable team, albeit 17 seasons after joining the Junior Circuit as the second incarnation of the Senators. Jeff Burroughs (.301/23/77) paced the League in bases on balls (117) and OBP (.432). Jim Sundberg collected the second of six consecutive Gold Glove Awards for his defensive prowess. Bill Madlock produced a .309 BA and Roy Smalley III slammed 19 long balls. Bump Wills pilfered a career-best 52 bags in 66 tries. Rick Waits amassed 13 victories and fashioned an ERA of 3.20. Steve Comer’s inaugural season featured a 2.30 ERA with 11 wins covering 11 starts and 19 relief appearances.

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Jeff Burroughs LF 3.25 26.62 Rick Waits SP 2.64 14.45
Bobby Thompson CF 0.38 3.19 Steve Comer SP 2.59 12.76
John Wockenfuss RF -0.02 5.11 Jim Clancy SP 1.49 10.35
Bump Wills DH/2B 3.1 18.25 David Clyde SP 0.11 5.56
Mike Hargrove 1B 2.22 15.91 Pete Broberg SP -0.99 4.21
Bill Madlock 2B 2.91 23.4 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Roy Smalley III SS 4.27 21.49 Joe H. Coleman RP 0.33 5.61
Roy Howell 3B 1.19 15.34 Steve Foucault RP 0.04 2.47
Jim Sundberg C 4.04 23.65 John Sutton RP 0.28 2.31
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Len Barker RP -0.74 0.59
Mike Cubbage 3B 1.33 11.73 Jim Umbarger SP -0.9 2.05
Lenny Randle 3B 0.87 9.73 Danny Darwin SP 0.04 0.61
Greg Pryor 2B 0.61 5.34 Paul Mirabella SP -0.37 0.52
Larry Biittner 1B -0.89 4.94 Tommy Boggs SP -0.91 0
Ron Pruitt C 0.24 3.75
Del Unser 1B -0.56 2.21
Doug Ault 1B 0.26 1.93
Brian Doyle 2B -0.49 1.1
Billy Sample DH 0.2 1.02
Jim Mason SS -0.67 0.83
Tom Grieve RF -0.44 0.61
Gary Gray DH -0.13 0.5
Eddie Miller CF -0.11 0.08
LaRue Washington 2B -0.04 0.07
Greg Mahlberg C -0.01 0.05
Pete Mackanin 1B -0.05 0.03
Pat Putnam DH -0.47 0.02

1993 “Original” California Angels

OWAR: 39.3     OWS: 277     OPW%: .533     (86-76) 

The Angels finally reached the promised land in 1993. It took the Halos 32 seasons to meet all of the requirements outlined above to reach a “competitive” state. California exceeded the “complete team” conditions in 1969 (only eight seasons after the club’s inception), yet the franchise failed to surpass the league average in OWS for another 14 years. The ’83 squad featured All-Star shortstop Dickie Thon (.286/20/79) and Richard Dotson (22-7, 3.23). The club struggled to transcend the American League OWAR mean for another decade.

California finished the 1993 season only two games behind Texas. Tim “Kingfish” Salmon (.283/31/95) earned American League Rookie of the Year honors. Perennial Gold Glove-winning center fielder Devon White notched career-bests in runs scored (116) and two-base hits (42) while pilfering 34 bases in 38 attempts. Dante Bichette bashed 43 two-baggers and 21 long balls while posting a .310 BA. Wally Joyner equaled his personal-best with 36 doubles while backstop Brian Harper boasted career-highs in hits, home runs and RBI. Chad Curtis and Mark T. McLemore contributed 48 and 21 stolen bases, respectively. Future All-Star and eight-time Gold Glove Award winner Jim Edmonds made his Major League debut for the Angels on September 9, 1993. Chuck Finley (16-14, 3.15) topped the Junior Circuit with 13 complete games. The Halos’ robust bullpen starred Bryan Harvey (1.70, 45 SV) and Roberto M. Hernandez (2.29, 38 SV).

 

STARTING LINEUP POS OWAR OWS ROTATION POS OWAR OWS
Tim Salmon RF 4.36 24.61 Chuck Finley SP 4.9 18.94
Devon White CF 4.47 21.28 Jim Abbott SP 1.34 9.75
LF Frank Tanana SP 1.03 7.07
Dante Bichette DH/RF 1.71 19.35 Phil Leftwich SP 1.5 5.13
Wally Joyner 1B 3.14 18.09 Kirk McCaskill SP -0.43 2.35
Mark McLemore 2B/RF 2.19 13.37 BULLPEN POS OWAR OWS
Gary Disarcina SS -1.15 5.73 Bryan Harvey RP 3.46 17.47
Damion Easley 3B/2B 1.15 8.38 Roberto Hernandez RP 2.49 15.5
Brian Harper C 1.27 15.66 Alan Mills RP 1.45 9.45
BENCH POS OWAR OWS Joe Grahe RP 0.86 7.28
Chad Curtis CF 2.16 16.51 Mike Fetters RP 0.25 4.25
Paul Sorrento 1B 1.03 13.23 Hilly Hathaway SP 0.04 2.15
Erik Pappas C 1 8.23 Scott Lewis SP 0.3 1.61
Dickie Thon SS 0.02 4.88 Mike Witt SP -0.13 1.23
Eduardo Perez 3B -0.21 3.25 Brian Anderson SP 0.17 0.63
Dick Schofield Jr. SS -0.15 2.43 Mike Cook RP 0.08 0.47
Ruben Amaro Jr. CF 0.44 2.29 Darryl Scott RP -0.22 0.42
Chris Turner C 0.6 2.25 Marcus Moore RP -0.56 0.36
Tom Brunansky RF -0.6 1.56 Mark Holzemer SP -0.83 0
Doug Jennings 1B 0.17 1.46 Dennis Rasmussen SP -0.62 0
John Orton C 0.05 1.03 Paul Swingle RP -0.37 0
J. R. Phillips 1B 0.17 0.87
Jim Edmonds RF -0.13 0.78
Larry Gonzales C 0.06 0.24
Jeff Manto 3B -0.23 0.09
Gus Polidor 3B -0.04 0.02

References and Resources

Baseball-Reference

James, Bill, with Jim Henzler. Win Shares. Morton Grove, Ill.: STATS, 2002. Print.

Retrosheet

The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet. Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at “www.retrosheet.org”.

SABR Baseball Biography Project

Sean Lahman Baseball Archive

About the Author

I am a New Jersey native with a passion for baseball, statistics, computers and video games who enjoys spending quality time with his family.

My book “Hardball Retrospective” is available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, GooglePlay, iTunes and KoboBooks. The paperback edition is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CreateSpace. Supplemental Statistics, Charts and Graphs along with a discussion forum are offered at TuataraSoftware.com.

Don Daglow (Intellivision World Series Major League Baseball, Earl Weaver Baseball, Tony LaRussa Baseball) contributed the foreword for Hardball Retrospective. The foreword and preview of “Hardball Retrospective” are accessible here.

Comments

One Response to “Hardball Retrospective – The Journey From Expansion to Competitive Team”
  1. Rod Peltonen says:

    For the sake of comparison the 1969 Mets had Tommie Agee in centre field and the Orioles had Paul Blair. Take a closer look at their 1969 stats and you find two very comparable players.

    Agee .271 avg., 26 HR, .806 OPS, 76 RBI
    Blair .285 avg., 26 HR, .804 OPS, 76 RBI

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