2022 Golden Days Era Committee Candidate: Danny Murtaugh

The following article is part of a series concerning the 2022 Golden Days Era Committee ballot, covering managers and long-retired players whose candidacies will be voted upon on December 5. For an introduction to this year’s ballot, see here, and for an introduction to JAWS, see here. Several profiles in this series are adapted from work previously published at SI.com, Baseball Prospectus, and Futility Infielder. All WAR figures refer to the Baseball-Reference version unless otherwise indicated.

Danny Murtaugh

2022 Golden Era Candidate: Danny Murtaugh
Manager G W-L W-L% G>.500 Playoffs Pennants WS
Danny Murtaugh 2068 1115-950 .540 165 5 2 2
AVG HOF Mgr 3648 1961-1687 .546 274 7 5 2.6
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference

“Danny was just a flat-out good manager. He knew the game, he made decisions with guts, he was a fine evaluator of talent, and a good teacher. He had rapport with players, old and young alike, and just about anybody else he came across. his death took some of the sunshine out of the baseball scene, because he would have been a pressroom star among the scouts for twenty more years if he had lived.” — Leonard Koppett, The Man in the Dugout, 1993.

Danny Murtaugh is one of just 22 managers to win multiple AL-NL World Series, only four of whom finished with a career winning percentage of .500 or better and aren’t already in the Hall of Fame. As the manager of the Pirates for 12 full seasons and three partial ones from 1957 to ’76, he gained a reputation as a players’ manager: laid back in appearance but stern, good at unifying divided clubhouses and at overseeing the development of younger players. Hall of Famer Willie Stargell, who debuted with the team under Murtaugh in September 1962 and then had his ups and downs the following season, called him “the perfect manager” for a rookie breaking in, due to his patience.

Murtaugh oversaw substantial portions of the careers of Stargell and fellow Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Bill Mazeroski. The latter’s walk-off home run agains the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series gave him his first championship, and the one-two punch of Clemente and Stargell helped him win his second in 1971. Additionally, Murtaugh managed the Pirates to three more division titles and a total of five seasons of 92 wins or better.

Ongoing health problems led to his on-again, off-again role as Pittsburgh’s manager. He served four separate stints in the dugout, the most with a single team this side of Billy Martin and the Yankees, albeit with far less drama. Each time he stepped away, general manager Joe L. Brown — who shares responsibility for the Pirates’ success during this era — retained him via a scouting or front office role with the team. Murtaugh once said, “Managing a ballclub is like getting malaria. Once you’re bitten by the bug, it’s difficult to get it out of your bloodstream.” Just two months after stepping down following the 1976 season, he suffered a stroke and died at age 59.
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The Angels Begin Filling in the Gaps on Their Roster

Despite having the generational talents of Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani anchoring their roster, the Angels entered this offseason with plenty of question marks. They’ve squandered the majority of Trout’s early career, making with just one postseason appearance since his debut in 2012 despite spending levels that were in the upper echelons of the majors for most of that time. They started this offseason with a bang, signing Noah Syndergaard to a one-year deal last week. That move comes with its fair share of risk, but the top of their rotation now projects to be much more solid. Yesterday, the Angels started addressing some of the question marks around the fringes of their roster. First, they acquired utility man Tyler Wade from the Yankees for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Then, they signed left-handed reliever Aaron Loup to a two-year, $17 million pact, including a team option for 2024 that includes a $2 million buyout.

Loup’s addition addresses a much bigger need than Wade’s. Raisel Iglesias rejected the Angels’ qualifying offer last week, becoming a free agent and leaving a significant hole in their bullpen. While Loup isn’t quite the reliever Iglesias is, he’s been remarkably effective over the past two seasons. Among all qualified relievers during that period, Loup’s park- and league-adjusted ERA ranks second in baseball, 63% better than league average. He led all qualified relievers in 2021 with a 0.95 ERA. Read the rest of this entry »

2022 ZiPS Projections: Arizona Diamondbacks

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for a decade. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Arizona Diamondbacks.


Like most teams that lose 110 games, the 2021 Diamondbacks were lousy. But they’re not completely hopeless. Indeed, when perusing the projections from top to bottom, the overall feeling you get isn’t one of a lineup full of disasters and voids but rather an overpowering rush of underwhelmedness, which I’m not sure is an actual word. There are some 20 organizational players listed here (some are now minor league free agents) with projected WARs between 0.5 and 1.5 wins. These are players who have value and can contribute to a winning team, but who aren’t going to win divisions on their own. Ketel Marte projects to stand clearly above the rest of the lineup in 2022, giving Arizona’s offense the look of a bowl of Lucky Charms that has had all the marshmallows picked out. Read the rest of this entry »

Job Posting: Seattle Mariners Front Office Positions

Please note, this posting contains four positions.

Position: Senior Baseball Analyst

Department: Baseball Operations
Reports To: Senior Director, Analytics
Status: Exempt

Primary Objective: Responsible for supporting the Baseball Operations department through baseball related data science, including statistical modeling, research, visualizations and other assigned projects. Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 1775: Ask the Audience

Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley follow up on an earlier conversation about ERA vs. FIP and banter about Seiya Suzuki being posted, Noah Syndergaard’s explanation of why he left the Mets, the rumored Sandy Alcantara extension and the future of the Marlins, how Canada’s new policy about unvaccinated athletes could affect the Blue Jays, and a dirty punch thrown by Willians Astudillo. Then (26:49) they discuss whether and how Ben, who’s eligible to vote for the Hall of Fame for the first time, should cast his ballot in a year with an unusually divisive slate of candidates.

Audio intro: Crowded House, "Fame Is"
Audio outro: Ry Cooder, "One Cat, One Vote, One Beer"

Link to Syndergaard comments
Link to story about Canada’s policy change
Link to Reddit thread about Astudillo’s punch
Link to blog post about Astudillo’s punch
Link to earlier Astudillo brawl
Link to 2022 BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot
Link to Jay Jaffe on the 2022 ballot
Link to Jay on the Era Committee ballots
Link to 2022 ballots at B-Ref
Link to Jay on his 2021 ballot
Link to EW interview with philosophers
Link to Jared Diamond on the character clause
Link to Jeff Passan on Bonds and Clemens
Link to Passan on not voting
Link to Andy McCullough on not voting
Link to The Athletic’s HoF survey
Link to Beyond the Scrum pod on not voting
Link to starting pitcher JAWS leaders
Link to Ken Rosenthal’s 2021 ballot
cw // Link to comments by Bonds’s ex-wife
cw // Link to comments by Bonds’s ex-girlfriend
Link to FanGraphs post about playerElo
Link to paper about playerElo
Link to 2019 playerElo ratings
Link to FiveThirtyEight Elo ratings
Link to Stove League teaser video
Link to Stove League review
Link to stream Stove League via Kocowa
Link to stream Stove League via Viki

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The Big Questions About the 2022 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

The polarizing debate over how Hall of Fame voters should handle candidates with connections to performance-enhancing drugs began in the wake of Rafael Palmeiro’s 2005 positive test, was amplified when Mark McGwire became eligible on the BBWAA ballot two years later, and reached a fever pitch when Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa joined the fray on the 2013 ballot. None of those candidates has been elected thus far despite numbers that once upon a time would have guaranteed them entry, and the cacophony and controversy has yet to abate. With Monday’s release of this year’s BBWAA ballot, the debate now enters a new phase, as both David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez are eligible for the first time in the same year that Bonds and Clemens have their last chance in front of the writers.

Here’s the full slate of 30 candidates, including those of 17 holdovers from last year’s slate, the first in which nobody was elected since that 2013 ballot, when Bonds and company debuted alongside the since-elected Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza and the long-lost Kenny Lofton. The newcomers are in italics:

Bobby Abreu, Barry Bonds, Mark Buehrle, Roger Clemens, Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Todd Helton, Ryan Howard, Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Tim Lincecum, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Peavy, Andy Pettitte, A.J. Pierzynski, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Scott Rolen, Jimmy Rollins, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Mark Teixeira, Omar Vizquel, and Billy Wagner.

Rodriguez hit 696 home runs, collected 3,115 hits, made 14 All-Star teams and won three MVP awards, yet in 2009, Sports Illustrated reported that he was roughly one of 100 players who failed the supposedly anonymous survey test from ’03. Since that test carried no penalty, he wasn’t disciplined at the time, but he missed the entire 2014 season due to a suspension for PEDs obtained via the Biogenesis clinic. Ortiz hit 541 home runs, made 10 All-Star teams, and helped the Red Sox to three World Series wins, producing some indelible postseason highlights along the way. But likewise with him, in 2009, The New York Times reported that both he and teammate Manny Ramirez had also failed the survey test. Both players will get some amount of support from voters, but like Bonds and Clemens, who respectively received 61.8% and 61.6% last year but have only gained about eight points over the last four cycles, they may have enough opposition to prevent their election. Read the rest of this entry »

Breaking Down the 40-Man Roster Deadline

Friday’s 40-man roster/Rule 5 Draft protection deadline featured the usual flurry of transactional activity. While christening a new wave of big leaguers, the day’s moves also illuminated a secondary effect of recent farm-building trends, and indicated some shifts in the way teams are thinking about the players they do or don’t decide to protect. As I fly through each team’s additions and subtractions from Friday, I’ll flesh out these concepts where they best apply. I’ve tried to give readers a little scouting note on every player, getting into greater detail for players who aren’t yet on The Board (which is where you’ll want to go for in-depth scouting reports) or whose reports I think have meaningfully changed since they were last updated on The Board. Readers should know that when it comes to examining the reasons teams chose not to protect players on Friday, I’m using informed speculation.

Here’s a quick rundown/refresher for folks who might be new to caring about this particular aspect of roster construction. Deeper teams tend to have more good players than they can roster, and tend to lose the ones toward the bottom of their depth chart to talent-hungry clubs that consider them upgrades to the players currently on their not-so-good roster. Sometimes a team with a good big league roster will also have a large wave of quality prospects approaching the majors, and the combination of the two creates motivation to trade some of those prospects away, or else loose them for nothing via waivers or the Rule 5 Draft. The way the 60-day injured list works also impacts a lot of fringe roster movement.

There are a couple ways teams try to deal with this if they think they have more desirable players than they do roster spots. They either package several of them as part of a trade for one significant big leaguer, or deal them for very young players who are several years from needing to be added to the 40-man. Teams keep 40-man dynamics in mind with every move they make, but the period just before the 40-man/Rule 5 deadline at the end of November is almost entirely driven by them. Teams weigh adding their own prospects to the 40-man against the chances that an unprotected player might be popped in the Rule 5 Draft (and stick on their new team’s roster), as well as who they might otherwise be able to use that roster spot for. It’s a part of the baseball calendar that forces teams to make moves that help us learn about their collective behavior and individual preferences. Read the rest of this entry »

Kevin Goldstein FanGraphs Chat – 11/22/2021

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Elias Díaz Settles in Colorado

Though this year’s market for catchers is pretty barren, so much so that Pedro Severino was a solid pickup for the Brewers, the 2023 free agent class is much more fertile. Several notable catchers will be available for teams to vie for, including Max Stassi, Willson Contreras, and Mike Zunino. Rather than wait the extra year, however, the Colorado Rockies seem content with their in-house options, last week handing veteran backstop Elias Díaz a three-year extension worth $14.5 million. The contract covers his remaining year of arbitration and two seasons of free agency.

In so doing, the Rockies have effectively announced their intent to stick with Díaz rather than search for a new everyday catcher; Dom Nuñez will likely occupy a backup role, while Drew Romo, the team’s No. 3 prospect according to our 2021 rankings, is still a couple of years away from his big-league arrival. All things considered, Díaz had himself a solid season. His 1.6 WAR ranked 15th among 30 catchers with at least 300 plate appearances, making him just about a smack-dab average backstop. Assuming Díaz can keep up this level of production, an AAV slightly under $5 million is a green light, more so because of the relative scarcity of reliable alternatives.

But of course, it’s more complicated than that. In 2019, his previous full season, Díaz was one of the worst catchers in the league, with a 61 wRC+ and a negative value in just about every defensive metric; he was non-tendered by the Pirates that offseason. His track record before that isn’t impressive, either – though Díaz accrued 1.8 WAR in 82 games in 2018, his ’17 campaign was disastrous, good (?) for -1.2 WAR. The Rockies are betting that this back-and-forth parkour will stop, and that the Díaz of the present will be who Díaz remains in the future. It’s a bit risky, though. Which version of Díaz is more likely to appear next season, and can we make an educated guess using the numbers? Read the rest of this entry »

2022 ZiPS Projections: Chicago White Sox

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for a decade. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the Chicago White Sox.


The White Sox offense projects similarly to how it did prior to the 2021 season, which is good news for the team considering how easily they made the playoffs. But that also means the fundamental problems in the offense remain, with an additional issue compared to last year. ZiPS may be underestimating Eloy Jiménez — it’s always hard to evaluate players coming back from injury — but we can’t pretend that there isn’t some risk involved there. The remaining outfield position and DH are thornier concerns, and ZiPS is more pessimistic here than Steamer is. This is not a popular opinion, but if the White Sox plan to use Andrew Vaughn like our depth charts indicate they will, I really hope they just let him crush Triple-A pitching for a few months rather than juggling him with Gavin Sheets and Adam Engel. The basic problem is that though Vaughn was deservedly a terrific prospect, and 2020’s lost season of course did him no favors, he still doesn’t have a professional season in line with what you would expect from a top first base prospect. Read the rest of this entry »