September 24, 2018

Long-Term Battery Combinations

April 24, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

Submitted by Howard Johnson

The most comforting words that can be heard by any hard-core fan of professional baseball is the annual mid-winter pronouncement that “Pitchers and catchers will report on ….” Given those are the two positions involved on every pitch of every game, each performs within the confines of a space rigorously defined by the official rules and no play can start without them in their proper positions, they are arguably the two most important defensive positions in the game. Almost universally, the catcher (often with direction from his superiors in the dugout) signals to the pitcher the type of pitch to be thrown (subject to the pitcher’s approval) and positions himself accordingly. Any misunderstanding or miscommunication between the two can result in calamity, especially with runners on the bases or the batter down to his last strike. As such a certain familiarity between the two players is required. In many cases, the makeup of the battery is simply a result of whom the manager has selected to use in the day-to-day management of the team. Other cases arise where a pitcher is thought to perform better (or thinks he does) with a particular catcher and management reacts accordingly.

Pursuit of this topic was inspired by an on-air remark by a Cardinal telecaster that Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina had passed Bob Gibson and Tim McCarver to become that club’s most prolific battery (based on starts). The thought then arose, “Where do they stand overall and how should one go about measuring that standing”? Two possibilities for measurement exist: (1) batters faced and (2) outs recorded, commonly divided by three and presented as innings pitched. The Retrosheet event and deduced event files allow for compilation of either of those outcomes from 1941 to the present, as well as, the vast majority of games beginning with the National League’s 1921 season. But, what to do with those other games? Retrosheet also has published “proofed” box scores of all games played in the Major Leagues, accompanied by computer readable files, covering the period 1908-1940. Innings pitched and batters faced by the pitchers are accounted for in those files, but substitutions at catcher not coincident with a pitching change are problematic as to who was playing when the events occurred, thus joint batters faced becomes a quantity impossible to correctly assign or reasonably estimate. Newspaper accounts and box scores can be employed to gain a “reasonable estimate” of the joint innings played by the principals. Innings pitched in games involving relief pitchers gradually began appearing in newspaper box scores in the 1900s, as did the time of pinch hitter appearances. Game accounts, again, fill in much of the void, but often only to the nearest full inning. Therefore compilations of outs recorded by each battery in games with battery substitutions during those early years are estimates (albeit probably very good ones) and are subject to refinement as better information becomes available. Outs recorded are used throughout to avoid the use of fractional innings.

As of the end of the 2017 season 132 battery combinations had logged at least 3000 outs (1000 innings) since the establishment of the modern pitching distance of 60 feet 6 inches. Those results are included in the table that accompanies this article. The number one slot belongs to the Hall-of-Fame duo of Red Faber and Ray Schalk who were teammates on Chicago White Sox teams from 1914 (Faber’s debut) through Schalk’s departure in 1928 ( Schalk did not catch Faber after 1926). Likely inaccuracies in the 3rd place Cy Young-Lou Criger compilation could well mean that that pair might actually surpass Warren Spahn-Del Crandall for 2nd. Nevertheless, those three pairs, each with more than 7500 outs (2500 innings) are the clear leaders in battery usage. Another 34 pairs, while falling short of the top three, accounted for at least 4500 outs (1500) innings. Improved data from the early years, could propel Urban Shocker-Hank Severeid, into the 1500 inning circle, but unless someone can find a missing inning somewhere for Sandy Koufax and John Roseboro they must remain on the outside. Contained in that group is one battery still active together in 2017, Wainwright-Molina (4816 outs, 30th all-time) who, as fate would have it are for now one spot behind Gibson-McCarver (4844), all with the Cardinals in both instances. Among the remaining 95 batteries are combinations both famous (i.e., Lefty Grove and Mickey Cochrane) and obscure (“Brewery Jack” Taylor and Jack Clements), including one pair still active in 2017 – Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey (3601 outs, good for 71st place).

The 1000-inning battery club contains 122 different pitchers and 87 different catchers. In five batteries, both pitcher and catcher are members of the Hall of Fame. The pitcher is a Hall of Famer in an additional 41 batteries and another 26 present a Hall of Fame catcher without a pitcher so honored.

Nine pitchers are listed twice:
Steve Carlton (Bob Boone, Tim McCarver), Hooks Dauss (Oscar Stanage, Johnny Bassler), Whitey Ford (Yogi Berra, Elston Howard), Bob Gibson (Tim McCarver, Ted Simmons), Carl Hubbell (Gus Mancuso, Harry Danning – whose careers were nearly coincident), Walter Johnson (Eddie Ainsmith, Muddy Ruel), Christy Mathewson (Frank Bowerman, Chief Meyers), Mike Mussina (Chris Hoiles, Jorge Posada), and Cy Young (Chief Zimmer, Lou Criger).

Catchers on the list multiple times are:
5 Gabby Hartnett – Bush, Root, Malone, Warneke, Lee
4 Jim Hegan – Feller, Lemon, Garcia, Wynn
4 Yogi Berra – Reynolds, Raschi, Lopat, Ford
3 Roy Campanella – Erskine, Roe, Newcombe
3 Mickey Cochrane – Grove, Walberg, Earnshaw
3 Rick Dempsey – Flanagan, Martinez, McGregor
3 George Gibson – Camnitz, Adams, Willis
3 Steve O’Neill – Morton, Bagby, Coveleski
3 Lance Parrish – Wilcox, Morris, Petry
2 Earl Battey – Pascual, Kaat
2 Bob Boone – Carlton, Lonborg
2 Del Crandall – Spahn, Burdette
2 Bill Dickey – Gomez, Ruffing
2 Rick Ferrell – W. Ferrell, Leonard
2 Bill Freehan – Lolich, McLain
2 Jerry Grote – Seaver, Koosman
2 Bubbles Hargrave – Luque, Rixey
2 Randy Hundley – Hands, Jenkins
2 Gus Mancuso – Hubbell, Schumacher
2 Tim McCarver – Gibson, Carlton
2 Chief Meyers – Mathewson, Marquard
2 Yadier Molina – Carpenter, Wainwright
2 Jorge Posada – Pettite, Mussina
2 Johnny Roseboro – Drysdale, Koufax
2 Mike Scoscia – Valenzuela, Hershiser
2 Ted Simmons – Gibson, Forsch
2 Billy Sullivan – White, Walsh
2 Ernie Whitt – Clancy, Stieb
2 Steve Yeager – Sutton, Hooton

The batteries which have reached the 1000-inning plateau, generally fall into three distinct categories. By far the most common pairing consists of a long-term, single team relationship between a regular rotation starter and the team’s everyday catcher (Faber-Schalk, Spahn-Crandall, Lolich-Freehan). Among this group are catchers whose team had a stable group of starting pitchers (Hartnett, Hegan, Berra). A second much smaller group comprises tandems who changed teams, either in a single trade (Alexander-Killefer, Dickey-Thole, Taylor-Clements), rejoined each other via a later exchange (Carlton-McCarver, Marquard-Meyers) or just moved around together, like Young and Criger with their joint odyssey through three teams in two leagues during the turbulent period of the late 1890s and the early 1900s. A third very small group would imply pitcher preference for a particular catcher who was otherwise a backup receiver. Between Eddie Plank’s arrival with A’s in 1901 through Doc Powers’s ultimately fatal collapse after catching Plank’s 1909 season-opening complete game, Powers caught in just over 71% of all games in which Plank appeared. The ill-fated receiver appeared in only 37.5% of all other A’s games during that period (allowing for the month in 1905 that Powers spent “on loan” to the injury-riddled Highlanders). Powers only had one 100-game season as a catcher (1901) and never caught in more than 70 games in a season otherwise. Eddie Ainsmith became Walter Johnson’s “designated receiver” when it became apparent that he was only receiver on the team who could withstand the sustained punishment of catching Walter Johnson’s fastballs. Ainsmith started 474 games as a Senator, 210 of those were started by the “Big Train.” Ainsmith caught over 100 games once and 89 in another, otherwise catching in no more than 75 games in any season, and starting only 58 in that one.

Data compiled from the following sources: Retrosheet.org and local newspapers archived on-line at Newspapers.com, and Proquest.com.

1000 inning batteries 1893-2017

3000 OUTS BY BATTERY COMBINATION, 1893-2017      
Data compiled from the following sources: Retrosheet.org and local newspapers archived on-line at Newspapers.com, and Proquest.com
PITCHERCATCHERYEAR1YEAR2PBPBXSCOUTS
Faber,RedSchalk,Ray19141926181358487661
Spahn,WarrenCrandall,Del19491963759407594
Young,CyCriger,Lou18971908075517551
Lolich,MickeyFreehan,Bill19631975699406994
Ruffing,RedDickey,Bill1930194660305786608
Alexander,PeteKillefer,Bill1911192116564056570
Lemon,BobHegan,Jim19461957648306483
Drysdale,DonRoseboro,John19571967618506185
Vance,DazzyDeBerry,Hank19221930402520306055
Rogers,SteveCarter,Gary19751984594705947
Johnson,WalterAinsmith,Eddie19101918058975897
Grove,LeftyCochrane,Mickey1925193357091405849
Coveleski,StanO'Neill,Steve1916192368051205800
Wynn,EarlyHegan,Jim19491957578705787
Gomez,LeftyDickey,Bill1930194249848025786
Cicotte,EddieSchalk,Ray19121920056445644
Seaver,TomGrote,Jerry19671977551105511
Feller,BobHegan,Jim19411956543005430
Burdette,LewCrandall,Del19531963539305393
Derringer,PaulLombardi,Ernie19331941537405374
Waddell,RubeSchrecongost,Ossee18971907052495249
Plank,EddiePowers,Doc19011909052035203
Valenzuela,FernandoScioscia,Mike19801990518705187
Carlton,SteveMcCarver,Tim19651979506905069
Walsh,EdSullivan,Billy19041912050555055
Root,CharlieHartnett,Gabby1926194040619575018
Glavine,TomLopez,Javy19942002495704957
Walberg,RubeCochrane,Mickey1925193346621864848
Gibson,BobMcCarver,Tim19591974484404844
Wainwright,AdamMolina,Yadier20052017481604816
White,DocSullivan,Billy19031912047184718
Ford,WhiteyBerra,Yogi19501963467904679
Mathewson,ChristyMeyers,Chief19091915046074607
Morris,JackParrish,Lance19781986457804578
Jenkins,FergieHundley,Randy19661973456504565
Bush,GuyHartnett,Gabby19231934352910104539
Pierce,BillyLollar,Sherm19521961453804538
Koufax,SandyRoseboro,John19571966449704497
Shocker,UrbanSevereid,Hank1918192685436384492
Young,CyZimmer,Chief18931898042964296
Flanagan,MikeDempsey,Rick19761992424104241
Marquard,RubeMeyers,Chief19111917041904190
Stieb,DaveWhitt,Ernie19801989417504175
Hamels,ColeRuiz,Carlos20062015406904069
Hershiser,OrelScioscia,Mike19841992402404024
Bagby,JimO'Neill,Steve1916192217538304005
Nolan,GaryBench,Johnny19671977400104001
Newcombe,DonCampanella,Roy19491957398103981
Camnitz,HowieGibson,George19071913039713971
Brown,MordecaiKling,Johnny19041913039403940
Jenkins,FergieSundberg,Jim19741981393703937
Witt,MikeBoone,Bob19821988391703917
Ford,WhiteyHoward,Elston19561967390103901
Mercer,WinMcGuire,Deacon18941902038763876
Oswalt,RoyAusmus,Brad20012008387203872
Cooper,WilburSchmidt,Walter1916192497228913863
McLain,DennyFreehan,Bill19631970385203852
Luque,DolfHargrave,Bubbles19211928239314453838
Koosman,JerryGrote,Jerry19671977379003790
McGregor,ScottDempsey,Rick19761986378203782
Breitenstein,TedPeitz,Heinie18931900037733773
Moyer,JamieWilson,Dan19962005371303713
Wood,WilburHerrmann,Ed19691974371303713
Erskine,CarlCampanella,Roy19481957370803708
Reynolds,AllieBerra,Yogi19471954370603706
Morton,GuyO'Neill,Steve1914192344632563702
Tiant,LuisFisk,Carlton19711978369403694
Kaat,JimBattey,Earl19601967364603646
Mussina,MikeHoiles,Chris19911998362903629
Rogers,KennyRodriguez,Ivan19912008360403604
Bumgarner,MadisonPosey,Buster20092017360103601
Dauss,HooksStanage,Oscar19121925935913600
Lopat,EddieBerra,Yogi19481955354203542
Sparks,TullyDooin,Red19051910035393539
Schumacher,HalMancuso,Gus1933194229256103535
Pettitte,AndyPosada,Jorge19972010353203532
Clancy,JimWhitt,Ernie19771988351503515
Raschi,VicBerra,Yogi19461953349103491
Palmer,JimDempsey,Rick19761984347403474
Forsch,BobSimmons,Ted19741980347203472
Rixey,EppaHargrave,Bubbles19211928222012483468
Mussina,MikePosada,Jorge20012008343003430
Mathewson,ChristyBowerman,Frank19001907034213421
Petry,DanParrish,Lance19791989341803418
Cuellar,MikeHendricks,Elrod19691976341403414
Martinez,PedroVaritek,Jason19982004340003400
Garcia,E. MikeHegan,Jim19481957338303383
Adams,BabeGibson,George19071916033823382
Sutton,DonYeager,Steve19721980338003380
Lee,"Big Bill"Hartnett,Gabby1934194025567993355
Ferrell,WesFerrell,Rick19341938211312403353
Warneke,LonHartnett,Gabby1931193624788753353
Earnshaw,GeorgeCochrane,Mickey192819333297523349
Malone,PatHartnett,Gabby1928193427295933322
Pascual,CamiloBattey,Earl19601966332103321
Rudolph,DickGowdy,Hank191419232732833310
Stewart,DaveSteinbach,Terry19861995330903309
Hubbell,CarlMancuso,Gus1933194326086953303
Bush,Bullet JoeSchang,Wally1913192259627053301
Rhoden,RickPena,A. "Tony"19801986327403274
Roberts,RobinLopata,Stan19491958326903269
Hands,BillHundley,Randy19661974325003250
Carlton,SteveBoone,Bob19731981324903249
Rommel,EddiePerkins,Cy1920193093723123249
Carpenter,ChrisMolina,Yadier20042012323703237
Sullivan,FrankWhite,Sammy19531962323003230
Gibson,BobSimmons,Ted19701975322903229
Hooton,BurtYeager,Steve19751984322103221
Hudlin,WillisSewell,Luke1926193931001203220
Taylor,Jack B.Clements,Jack18931898032153215
Ellis,DockSanguillen,Manny19691977320303203
Wilcox,MiltParrish,Lance19771985316303163
Buehrle,MarkPierzynski,A. J.20052011314903149
Johnson,WalterRuel,Muddy1923192796121843145
Hubbell,CarlDanning,Harry1933194224147123126
Dickey,R. A.Thole,Josh20102016311103111
Hudson,TimMcCann,Brian20052013311103111
Martinez,DennisDempsey,Rick19761986310703107
Willis,VicGibson,George19061909031003100
Fitzsimmons,FreddieHogan,Shanty1928193228852063091
Hoyt,WaiteSchang,Wally1919193188222053087
Roe,PreacherCampanella,Roy19481954308203082
Leonard,E. "Dutch"Ferrell,Rick19381945204610033049
Lonborg,JimBoone,Bob19731979304403044
Wakefield,TimMirabelli,Doug20012007303603036
Niekro,PhilBenedict,Bruce19791987302803028
Short,ChrisDalrymple,Clay19601968302803028
McNally,DaveEtchebarren,Andy19621974302703027
Marichal,JuanHaller,Tom19611967302103021
Brecheen,HarryRice,Del19451952301903019
Dauss,HooksBassler,Johnny1921192664823693017
Nagy,CharlesAlomar,Sandy Jr.19902000300003000
A smattering of relief appearances prior to 1910 may have been missed, introducing some small errors among batteries from that era.
BXSC=# of outs as a battery estimated from Retrosheet box score files or newspaper box scores or game accounts when play-by-play was not available.
Note: The play-by-play data should be exact, consistent with the Retrosheet discrepancy files.
PBP=# of outs recorded as a battery as counted from Retrosheet event and deduced event files (play-by-play data).
Some errors will be present in the estimated data, as exact timing of player replacement is not always known.
TOTAL= Number of outs credited to the battery during the 1893-2017 time period.
YEAR1,YEAR2=first and last year (1893-2017) the pair appeared together.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!