In part 2 of our continuing series, where we check Dusty Baker’s clubhouse recollections against reality, we have this (from Rosecrans):

Dusty was on deck when Billingham gave up Hank Aaron’s 714:
I faced him. I don’t remember what I did after Hank’s home run

True. After Aaron’s HR, Baker grounded out to Billingham.

Dusty had hit 5 homers off Billingham, who knew the number.
I didn’t want to say that.

Billingham told Hal, only 6 RBIs on those 5 HR
It wasn’t my fault Hank cleared them — what am I supposed to do?

Also true. Of course, the RBI problem may have had more to do with Baker’s batting line against Billingham, than just the opportunities: .228 .279 .509 (61 PAs). (If I subscribed to the Baseball-reference deluxe package, I could actually get the full details about every AB he ever had against Billingham.)

Hank used to help me out on how to hit those guys and then when he left, we were lost for a while. He’d tell me to look for this, look on the outside, stay off Tom Seaver’s high fastball, make them get it below the waist. Hank had an idea — make them get the ball up.

As I actually pointed out the other day, Baker owned Seaver (maybe Dusty’s a reader?), to the tune of .347 .383 .589 (108 PAs). The funny thing is that Hank Aaron didn’t: .220 .290 .476 (93 PAs).

None of this means anything, of course. I’m actually just impressed with Dusty Baker in many ways. I look up a ton of this kind of stuff, because I’m just that kind of sick individual. A huge percentages of ballplayer recollections are just plain wrong. Baker’s been dead-on with everything so far. I figure it deserves mention, almost more so than if he’d been wrong.

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5 Responses

  1. Shawn

    I DO have that B-R package, and Dusty had runners on in 22 of his 61 AB against Billingham, but had trouble cashing in those few that were on. 5 HR but just 6 RBI against the curveballer. All the RBI were off HR.

  2. Mr. Redlegs

    Perhaps a lot of people here aren’t quite old enough to vividly remember Dusty in his prime, but he was a tremendous ballplayer. Not a Hall of Famer, but a guy who did a little bit of everything and fairly clutch hitter. He was always in the ranges of 20-30 HRs, 80-100 RBI area and20-30 stolen bases.

    What I remember, specifically, was what a good defensive left fielder he became. He may not have the name of Garvey, Cey and Lopes, but he was a critical element of those really good Dodgers teams, so he can talk about the game with considerable credibility.

  3. Andrew


    Let’s hope he remembers to put Votto at 1B this season and remembers to leave Patterson on the bench.

  4. Shawn

    I remember when Dusty came up, as a center fielder with the Braves. He was generally regarded, as I recall, as a good player. Not that any of today’s guys would know that, (well, maybe Junior would) but the career does give him street cred (dugout cred?) with the players.

    Oddly, Dusty drew his share of walks when he played. Guess he was fast enough not to clog up the bases.

  5. Chris

    That’s an interesting point. I was just a kid at the time, so all I knew was that Dusty (1) played for the Dodgers, (2) and had the same name as my dog, so he must be pretty good. At the same time, he was probably the 7th-most-famous player in that lineup (at least as far as I knew).

    Who’s a good comp for him in the modern game?

    I’m going to fool around on baseball-reference, but I’m really interested in everyone’s recollection.

    Publicity-wise, he was only a two-time all-star, and only appeared in the MVP voting three times. So I don’t think he was considered an elite player – especially playing on those teams, which didn’t lack for publicity.

    He played 40 post-season games, which was a lot back then, and played well in the LCSs, but pretty poorly in his 3 World Series (though not so poorly as to be tagged a goat).

    He never had a 100 RBI season, which probably cost him in the publicity department, especially back then.

    If you play with the B-R tool, and put Baker’s career in the run-scoring context of the 2000 Rockies, his line looks like this: .336 .409 .518. (As a subscriber, Shawn can convert Baker’s numbers to the current era).

    Prospectus has him with a .285 career EQA. Last year, Soriano, Matsui, Chris Duncan, Willingham, and Crawford were all at .285-286, among LFs.

    Those guys all arrive at that EQA in wildly different ways, so that doesn’t really help me place Baker in today’s pantheon. The only recent guy in his Similarity Scores list is Jeff Conine at #9.