Baseball-reference.com’s blog has a couple of interesting tidbits of statistical information today that are Reds related.

With the Phillies’ signing Cliff Lee, they decided to research for starting rotations that would have had four starting pitchers making 30 or more starts each with ERA+ of 130 or greater. They found one, the 1997 Atlanta Braves, which had Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Denny Neagle, and John Smoltz in the rotation. Future Red Neagle was 20-5 with a 2.97 ERA, finishing third in Cy Young voting that season (in two seasons with the Reds, Neagle was 17-7 with a 3.89 ERA). The famous 1971 Baltimore Orioles rotation which boasted 4 20-game winners (Mike Cuellar, Pat Dobson, Jim Palmer, and Dave McNally) did not have any of their starters with an ERA+ of 130 or greater. Palmer had a 126 while the others were quite good (109, 116, 126, 117, respectively). That huge offense helped their outstanding pitching staff.

Baseball-reference.com found nine rotations that had three pitchers meet the criteria of 30 or more starts and ERA+ of 130 or higher, and one rotation was that of the 1925 Cincinnati Reds. The 1925 Reds finished in third place with an 80-73 record, 15 games behind the league champion Pittsburgh Pirates. The Reds led the league with a 3.38 ERA, a half run less than the runner-up Pirates (3.87).

The three Reds’ hurlers that met the parameters were Pete Donohue (21-14, 3.08 ERA, 38 starts, 133 ERA+), Dolf Luque (16-18, 2.63 ERA, 36 starts, 156 ERA+), and Hall of Famer Eppa Rixey(21-11, 2.88 ERA, 36 starts, 142 ERA+). The fourth starter slot was split between Rube Benton (9-10, 4.05 ERA, 16 starts, 101 ERA+) and Jakie May (8-9, 3.87 ERA, 12 starts, 106 ERA+).

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November 30, 1932: The Reds trade hitter Babe Herman to the Chicago Cubs for catcher Rollie Helmsley, pitcher Bob Smith and outfielders Lance Richbourg and Johnny Moore.

The results of the trade? Helmsley batted .190 with seven rbi in 122 plate appearances and was traded; Smith was 4-4 in 16 games (six starts, 2.20 ERA) and was lost on waivers during the season; Moore batted .263 (.631 OPS) and then was traded to the other bad team of the 1930’s (the Phillies); Richbourg was sold two months later and never played in the majors again. Meanwhile, in 1933, Herman batted .289 with 64 extra base hits and 93 rbi (.855 OPS), batted .304 in 1934, and the Reds reacquired him in 1935 and he played two more seasons for the Reds (batting .335 and .279).

It really wasn’t a very good deal and it was made by a very bad Reds baseball team.

Herman had been their best player in 1932, batting .326 with 63 extra base hits (league leading 19 triples), 87 rbi, and a .930 OPS (151 OPS+). The Reds had acquired him following the 1931 season along with future Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi in a six player trade that saw young star second baseman Tony Cuccinello dealt to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Herman was a tremendous hitter (he hit for the cycle a record-tying three times), but he was an absolute adventure on the basepaths and in the outfield. In fact, he once doubled into a double play. From baseball-reference.com’s bullpen:

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No Cincinnati Reds pitcher has ever won a Cy Young Award. The Award was initiated in 1956 and was only awarded to one player per year through 1966 (when it was expanded to the current format of one award per league).

Just like we memorialized the MVP bridesmaids yesterday, today we’ll take a look at the Reds CY Young bridesmaids. To start, let’s take the “STATS, Inc, All-Time Baseball Sourcebook” and find out which Reds would have won if the Cy Young had been given in the years that it wasn’t actually awarded (according to the statistical “experts”). Since no Reds pitcher has won the Cy Young, and since the Reds are typically remembered as The Big Red Machine for our 1970’s incredible offense, many may not realize that the Reds spent many years as a pitching/defense first organization:

1882, Will White, American Association, 40-12, 1.54 ERA, 122 K’s
1883, Will White, American Association, 43-31, 2.09 ERA, 141 K’s
1884, Jim McCormick, Union Association, 21-3, 1.54 ERA, 161 K’s
1923, Dolf Luque, National League, 27-8, 1.93 ERA, 151 K’s
1925, Eppa Rixey, National League, 21-11, 2.88 ERA, 69 K’s
1939, Bucky Walters, National League, 27-11, 2.29 ERA, 137 K’s
1940, Bucky Walters, National League, 22-10, 2.48 ERA, 115 K’s
1944, Bucky Walters, National League, 23-8, 2.40 ERA, 77 K’s
1947, Ewell Blackwell, National League, 22-8, 2.47 ERA, 193 K’s

We should probably review the “winners” here….
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November 17, 1933: The Reds trade Red Lucas, one of the best pitchers and pinch hitters in Reds history, along with reserve outfielder Wally Roettger, to the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Adam Comorosky and infielder Tony Piet.

Lucas was a Reds Hall of Famer who’s probably not as well known today because he played on some truly rotten Reds baseball teams. He was probably the “Mario Soto” of his day, being one of the best pitchers in the league on one of baseball’s worst teams. However, there were two huge differences in Soto’s and Lucas’s perfomrances. Soto was a strikeout pitcher who struck out as a many as 274 in a season (258 innings). Lucas “pitched to contact,” never striking out more than 72 in a season (270 innings). Soto walked 3.4 batters/nine innings for his career, Lucas walked 1.6/nine innings. Another difference was that Lucas was an exceptional hitter with a lifetime batting average of .281 (85 OPS+) with 190 rbi in 16 seasons. Soto’s career batting average was .132 (-12 OPS+) with 24 rbi in 12 seasons.

Lucas’s win-loss percentage regularly exceeded his team’s performance. As a Red, Lucas was 109-99, a .524 won-loss percentage from 1926-33. The Reds during these eight years posted a .441 winning percentage. Lucas’s best season was 1929 when he went 19-12 with a 3.60 ERA (127 ERA+) and led the league with 28 complete games and a 1.204 WHIP. He finished sixth in MVP voting, finishing second amongst pitchers (there was no Cy Young Award at the time), as he was second in games won and fifth in ERA. For his career, Lucas was 157-135 with a 3.72 ERA (107 ERA+). As a hitter, Lucas batted .300 for the Reds with a .735 OPS (97 OPS+). As a pinch hitter, Lucas was 114 for 437, a .261 batting average.

Lucas didn’t walk away quietly from the Reds. He played five seasons for the Pirates, going 47-32 with a 3.77 ERA. Against the Reds, he was a whopping 14-0 during those five seasons and 33-32 against the rest of the league. As for the other principals in the deal, Roettger played 47 games with the Pirates and was done. Comorosky played two seasons for the Reds, one as a starter, batting .256 with two homers (71 OPS+). Piet became the Reds starting third baseman for 1934 and hit .259 with one homer (75 OPS+) before being sold to the Chicago White Sox.

November 17, 1992: The Reds trade all-star closer Norm Charlton to the Seattle Mariners for former MVP outfielder Kevin Mitchell.

Charlton was part of the Reds 1990 “Nasty Boys” bullpen and had become a co-closer with Rob Dibble in 1992. Charlton was selected to the 1992 all-star team and finished the season 4-2 with a 2.99 ERA and 26 saves. Coupled with Dibble’s 3-5, 3.07 ERA and 25 saves, the Reds had quite a combination out of the bullpen. With both relievers expected to make about $2.5 million in salary for 1993, the Reds decided to stick with Dibble and deal the lefty Charlton to the Mariners for one of baseball’s most feared sluggers at the time, Kevin Mitchell.

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August 13, 1931: Tony Cuccinello has an incredible double header day as the Reds sweep the Boston Braves, 17-3 and 4-2. The early 1930’s Reds fans probably experienced the nadir of the club’s existence. From 1930-1934, and again in 1937, the team had a winning percentage of less than .400, with a high of 60 […]

Baseball-reference.com has a blog which reports that Travis Wood’s outstanding pitching performance from the other night had a “game score” of 93. The 93 game score is tied for the 6th highest game score (for the periods 1920-39, and 1952-2010) for pitchers in their first 10 career games. (Other periods have not had their box […]

June 27, 1926: The Cincinnati Reds break loose for 18 hits, including five triples, and turn a triple play, while starting pitcher Pete Donohue fires a six-hitter as the Reds blitz the Pittsburgh Pirates, 16-0. The win gives the first place Reds a 2 1/2 game lead over the eventual champion St. Louis Cardinals.

The 1926 Reds may be the best Reds team that you’ve never heard of. They finished the season two games out of first place, but spent 85 days in first place. The last day they were first came on September 16 with only 10 days left in the season. They were never more than five games back, and never went under .500 for the year. They beat the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals 14 out of 22 games, but somehow lost to the sub.-500 New York Giants in 15 of 22 games. They had the league’s best offense (OPS+ of 103), the second best pitching (ERA+ of 109 behind the Cubs’ 119) and placed third in defensive efficiency (.698). Check out this list of personal accomplishments:

Second baseman Hughie Critz finished second in MVP balloting
catcher Bubbles Hargrave won the batting title at .353
Outfielder Cuckoo Christensen finished second for the batting title at .350
First baseman Wally Pipp tied for fourth in runs batted in with 99
Outfielder Edd Roush was second in doubles with 37
Outfielder Curt Walker was second in triples with 22
Pitcher Pete Donohue tied for first in wins with 20
Pitcher Carl Mays was fifth in wins with 19
Pitchers Pete Donohue, Carl Mays, Red Lucas, and Eppa Rixey were all in the top ten in WHIP (walk and hits per nine innings pitched)
Pitcher Jakie May was third in strikeouts with 103
Carl Mays was first in complete games with 24
Pete Donohue was first in shutouts with 5
Hargrave an OPS+ of 151
Top four outfielders OPS+ ratings: Rube Bressler 147, Christensen 135, Roush 123, Walker 122
Wally Pipp had an OPS+ of 107, too
They had six pitchers with 100+ innings pitched. Their ERA+: Mays 118, May 115, Donohue 110, Rixey 109, Dolf Luque 108, Red Lucas 101

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From Baseball-Reference.com…on this day in Reds history…

On September 4, 1971, one of the weirdest and most frightful moments in Reds history occurred when a ten pound sack of flour drops from an airplane flying over Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The bag explodes on the playing field about 15 feet from Reds shortstop Woody Woodward who was positioned in the field.

In 1988, Danny Jackson wins his 20th game of the year, holding the Cubs to six hits in a 17-0 victory. Jackson goes to complete a stellar 1988 season, going 23-8 with a 2.73 ERA and six shutouts. He was the last Red to win 20 or more games…it’s been 21 years.

In 1974, Astros pitcher Don Wilson made a bid to become the first pitcher to no-hit the Reds twice. Wilson held the Reds hitless through eight innings before manager Preston Gomez removed him for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. Mike Cosgrove came in to pitch for the Astros, but Tony Perez broke up the no-hitter with a single and the Reds won 2-1. The Reds had scored two runs in the fifth following two walks byWilson, a sacrifice bunt, and then a two-run throwing error to shortstop following a ground ball. Wilson had previously no-hit the Reds in 1969, the day after the Reds’ Jim Maloney had no-hit the Astros.

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Using baseball-reference.com, I looked up the best hitting Reds’ pitchers. This goes back through 1901. It’s fairly consistent; the best hitters show up on both career and seasonal lists, as do the worst.

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