Reds History / Reds Trivia

This Day in Reds History: Reds Deal Offense for Defense in Shortstop Challenge Trade

December 2, 1942: The Reds trade pitcher Nate Andrews, shortstop Eddie Joost, and $25,000 to the Boston Braves for shortstop Eddie Miller.

It was a major deal for both teams. Perennial all-star Miller was a slick fielding, low-average, power-hitting shortstop who had previously spent parts of two seasons with the Reds. Andrews was a future all-star who was stuck in the minors behind an excellent Reds pitching staff. Joost was also a very good shortstop, with very low batting averages, but he drew lots of walks, struck out a lot, and had good power for a shortstop. Miller and Joost didn’t have “typical” shortstop offensive skills and Andrews needed a change of scenery.

Reds manager Bill McKechnie loved defense. In Bill James’s managerial book “The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers,” James says that McKechnie always preferred glove men over hitters and that was the easiest “answers” in his book of questions about managers. James provides three pages of examples of how McKechnie would go with defensive players over hitters in almost every situation to a point of causing some of the Reds’ decline in the 1940’s by not playing hitter Hank Sauer who was a poor defensive player.

Miller was a seven-time all-star in his career who led the National League in fielding percentage for five consecutive years (1940-44) and again in 1946-47 (Miller played for the Reds from 1943-47). Miller did have some offensive skills, leading the National League in doubles with 38 in his best offensive season, 1947, when he led the Reds with 19 homers and 87 rbi, while hitting .268 (108 OPS+). However, that season was a pretty much an anomaly as from 1943-46 he had batted in succession .224, .209, .238, and .194 with OPS+ ratings of 64, 60, 898, and 57. Despite the low offensive production, Miller was selected to the all-star team and received MVP votes in four of these five seasons due to his defensive prowess. In seven total seasons with the Reds, Miller batted .227 with a .626 OPS (75 OPS+). For his 14 season major league career, Miller hit .238 with a .643 OPS (80 OPS+).

Andrews had had four cups of coffee with the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians and was stuck in the minors behind the Reds starting staff. Sticking with the Braves at age 29 in 1943, Andrews went 14-20 with a 2.57 ERA in 1943 (131 OPS+) and was named to the all-star team the next season when he was 16-15 with a 3.22 ERA (119 OPS+) before decline set in. Andrews pitched for the Reds in 1946, going 2-4 with a 3.95 ERA. For his career, Andrews was 41-54 in eight seasons with a 3.46 ERA (106 ERA+).

Joost was another odd-skilled shortstop. Manager McKechnie had used Joost as his starting shortstop in in 1941 and 1942, but Joost was 2nd and 1st in errors at shortstop those two seasons, respectively, finishing with 45 each season. Fielding first McKechnie decided to deal him for the sure-handed Miller. Joost sported a lifetime batting average of .239, but had a lifetime .361 OBP as he drew over 100 walks for six consecutive seasons (1947-52, all with the Philadelphia Athletics). In six seasons with the Reds, Joost hit .233 with a .315 OBP, an OPS of .629 (78 OPS+). After a couple of years with the Boston Braves, Joost joined the Athletics and became an extremely effective hitter, with double digit home run totals every season (from 13-23), the high walk totals and an average OBP of .391 for this period. He also led the league in strikeouts and was regularly among the strikeout leaders.

Joost was named to two all-star teams and received MVP votes in five different seasons. For his career, Joost batted .239 with 134 home runs and a .727 OPS (99 OPS+).