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redsmetz
06-05-2012, 09:41 AM
I posted this article on Ed Armbrister under the thread that was brought forward on the two players signed from India in 2008. The question of whether playing cricket could translate into a baseball career. I mentioned the two Red Stockings mainstays, the brothers George & Harry Wright. It also made me think of Ed Armbrister, hailing from the Bahamas, another one-time British colony.

I came across this SABR bio on Armbrister, a player I think of often when we talk about bench construction and the job of those extra players. I wonder at times what the reaction of the "throw in" Ed Armbrister in the blockbuster trade that brought over Joe Morgan et al to the Reds.

http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/917df0fa

Reading about Armbrister and particularly the success he had in the minors, makes me think about how various players succeed at different levels, but not necessarily at the highest level. Vern Rapp managed Armbrister, George Foster & Ken Griffey as his outfield in Indy and said, “These can be the finest three players I’ve ever managed as far as outfield talent is concerned. They all have excellent speed, good range, and fine arms. This could be the finest outfield, at least defensively, in the minor leagues."

So here's the question I'd like to see discussed: in the Reds history, lets look at some of these extra players who made up various rosters. They've each brought different things and somehow "the whole" worked. Perhaps another springboard is the phenomenal factoid that in 1975 and 1976, the actual starting eight "Big Red Machine" players only had 88 games where they all started (they went 69-19 in those games - .784 record!). That left an awful lot of bench guys in the games.

Now this isn't necessarily only about the BRM. We've had plenty of extra guys filling out the rosters. What did they bring to the club?

Anyway, I think this could be an interesting thread.

Redsfan320
06-05-2012, 09:57 AM
I've only been watching since '08, but I remember Laynce Nix (http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/n/nixla01.shtml) being pretty good in that magical '10 run. Provided a bit of lefty pop, and played all 3 OF positions pretty well.

320

cumberlandreds
06-05-2012, 10:35 AM
Here's the 1976 Reds bench. It was about as well rounded as a team could put together.

Dan Driessen provided the best bat off the bench. He could play 1b,3b or LF. He had lefty power to boot.

Mike Lum was another lefty hitter. He had power and could play most of the OF positions.

Bob Bailey provided the righty power off the bench. He could play 1b,3b or OF.

Doug Flynn was the defensive specialist. Although hit 286 that season his job was to come in and give Morgan and Concepcion a break.

Joel Youngblood was super utlity player. He could play anywhere and had some pop in his bat. Could even be the emergency catcher.

Ed Armbrister could play all three OF positions. Was also a great bunter. If you needed a late inning sacrifice bunt he could do it.

Bill Plummer was the backup catcher. Good defensive catcher who could provide some pop off the bench.

As you can see they had a lot more bodies on the bench than todays team. Teams back then usually only carried 10 pitchers and sometimes just 9. So you had a lot more leeway on that bench.


http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1976/UPCIN01976.htm

redsmetz
06-05-2012, 11:08 AM
Cumberlandreds, I think another thing to keep in mind viz the number of pitchers versus bench played is that back then, rosters were, I believe, only 24 players. Still the number of pitchers carried is dramatically different today.

WildcatFan
06-05-2012, 11:38 AM
The 1999 team had a rotation of four very good outfielders (Greg Vaughn, Mike Cameron, Da Meat Hook, Jeffery Hammonds) and Michael Tucker, whom we would kill for to have on this team. The infielders on the bench were not nearly as prolific, with Mark Lewis, Chris Stynes, Brian Johnson, and a quickly aging Hal Morris all seeing time, albeit with more than 100 fewer plate appearances than any of the outfielders. From what I can tell, the typical bench any given day was:

OF Hammonds .279/.347/.523, bats right
OF Tucker .253/.338/.426, bats left
2B/3B Lewis .254/.280/.451 bats right
1B/PH Hal Morris .284/.348/.373 bats left
C Brian Johnson .231/.286/.419 bats right

The infield on that team was so good and played so many games that the bench didn't matter as much. Your pinch hitters were basically Hammonds from the right and Tucker from the left, with Tucker often coming in as a defensive replacement in right for Young.
It's worth noting that those five guys combined for 248 hits in 1,056 PAs, including 39 home runs and 53 doubles.

The top five on the 2010 team, by comparison, had 270 hits in 1,308 PAs, with 26 HRs and 54 doubles.

I'm not sure exactly where this is headed, but I'm interested regardless.

dfs
06-05-2012, 12:00 PM
Davey Johnson's 95 team was constructed beautifully.

Eddie T - Backup Catcher who put up a 122 OPS+
Thomas Howard - 302/350/402 - Switch hitter.
Jerome Walton - 290/368/525 - Yeah. The 5th Of put up a 525 slugging percentage.
Mark Lewis - 339/407/480
Mariano Duncan - Eric Anthony - Lenny Harris....

I remember in the playoffs some announcer crowing that the dodgers were three deep at shortstop with Offerman, Chad Fonville and Juan Castro. He had not bothered to check the reds rosters where Larkin/Branson/Duncan and Lewis had all put in quality time at SS.

Man, I'm not a Dusty hater, but I really miss having a manger that believed in OBP.

_Sir_Charles_
06-05-2012, 12:21 PM
Man, I'm not a Dusty hater, but I really miss having a manger that believed in OBP.

I also wish we'd place the OBP guys better, but IMO the fault lies with Walt for not securing guys with on-base skills. This club as a whole is quite short on that front. Dusty has VERY few options in that regard...which is why I wish he'd leverage it as best as possible.

Reds with obp above .350....Votto and Hanigan. That's it. Not even some part-time players.

3rd on the team...Mike Leake at .333.
4th, Phillips at .321

Not much to work with.

redsmetz
06-05-2012, 12:32 PM
I also wish we'd place the OBP guys better, but IMO the fault lies with Walt for not securing guys with on-base skills. This club as a whole is quite short on that front. Dusty has VERY few options in that regard...which is why I wish he'd leverage it as best as possible.

Reds with obp above .350....Votto and Hanigan. That's it. Not even some part-time players.

3rd on the team...Mike Leake at .333.
4th, Phillips at .321

Not much to work with.

I think you're right regarding the construction of the present club. I tend to be an optimistic sort and I think management constructed this club based on "hoped for" production, but as it is now, it leaves a manager with very few tools to put forward when your regulars sit or you need a pinch hitter or a double switch, etc.

I've long thought folks here would rail against any number of these players who helped with their respective season's teams, but each brought something of value (maybe sometimes just a pulse) that I'm not sure this year's team has. I do agree that it needs to be addressed if we hope to continue our success thru the season.

But I remain intrigued by the qualities that some of these players brought in their roles. I'd love too for someone whose good at breaking down this type of analysis to look at some of those 60's teams that fell short. I look at the 1962 team which finished third despite winning 98 games or that 1964 team that fell in that season's 3 team photo finish as to how their benches looked and how that might have contributed to their downfall. I do know some of those teams' stories are solely on the everyday players or the bench; that there were some pitching sagas in play as well.

savafan
06-05-2012, 03:21 PM
Where would the Reds have been in 1990 without Hal Morris, Herm Winningham, Luis Quinones, Ron Oester, Jeff Reed, and midseason acquisitions Glenn Braggs and Bill Doran?

cumberlandreds
06-05-2012, 03:33 PM
Cumberlandreds, I think another thing to keep in mind viz the number of pitchers versus bench played is that back then, rosters were, I believe, only 24 players. Still the number of pitchers carried is dramatically different today.

I'm pretty sure they used 25 players then. There was a few seasons in the 80's when only 24 was used.

RedsBaron
06-05-2012, 03:34 PM
The best Bench the Reds ever had was the one with the club from late 1967 through 1983. ;)

cumberlandreds
06-05-2012, 03:42 PM
The best Bench the Reds ever had was the one with the club from late 1967 through 1983. ;)

That was the first Bench I thought about too. :)

George Anderson
06-05-2012, 04:00 PM
Lenny Harris

I remember WLW had a parody song of Marty trashing Lenny Harris to music. Marty was saying things like "How in the world does someone this clueless make it to MLB?" Lenny had a pretty long career but when he came up he was pretty clueless.

westofyou
06-05-2012, 04:02 PM
Short bench in 1965, but awesome backup catcher an Perez

757690
06-05-2012, 04:11 PM
http://blogimages.thescore.com/mlb/files/2011/02/7993748611.jpg

redsmetz
06-05-2012, 04:15 PM
Short bench in 1965, but awesome backup catcher an Perez

Jim Coker or Don Pavaletich? Or am I missing a joke? (don't think I am)

westofyou
06-05-2012, 04:26 PM
Don P had an OPS over .900

RedsBaron
06-05-2012, 04:27 PM
Jim Coker or Don Pavaletich? Or am I missing a joke? (don't think I am)

Pavletich hit .319/.394/.513. He was terrific.
The 1965 Reds were an awesome hitting team but short on pitching depth. DeWitt tried to solve that problem by trading away his rightfielder.

RedsBaron
06-05-2012, 04:33 PM
The 1961 Reds' bench wasn't that deep, although it included Gus Bell and Leo Cardenas, but oh what a pitch hitter it had in Jerry Lynch. In '61 Lynch had an overall line of .315/.407/.624 with 13 HR and 50 RBI in only 181 at bats.

Tony Cloninger
06-05-2012, 06:57 PM
Here's the 1976 Reds bench. It was about as well rounded as a team could put together.

Dan Driessen provided the best bat off the bench. He could play 1b,3b or LF. He had lefty power to boot.

Mike Lum was another lefty hitter. He had power and could play most of the OF positions.

Bob Bailey provided the righty power off the bench. He could play 1b,3b or OF.

Doug Flynn was the defensive specialist. Although hit 286 that season his job was to come in and give Morgan and Concepcion a break.

Joel Youngblood was super utlity player. He could play anywhere and had some pop in his bat. Could even be the emergency catcher.

Ed Armbrister could play all three OF positions. Was also a great bunter. If you needed a late inning sacrifice bunt he could do it.

Bill Plummer was the backup catcher. Good defensive catcher who could provide some pop off the bench.

As you can see they had a lot more bodies on the bench than todays team. Teams back then usually only carried 10 pitchers and sometimes just 9. So you had a lot more leeway on that bench.


http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1976/UPCIN01976.htm



What's funny is that the next year....the Bench.......stank bad.

Driessen moved to starter and Champ Summers replaced him.

Rick Auerbach replaced Joel Youngblood.

Lum hit .160 with some homers but not much else.
Summers had 3 Homers but hit .171
Plummer hit .137
Only Knight and Armbrsiter and Bailey hit over .250 and with barely 100 AB's.

They had ZERO LH bat off the bench that season.....but still more than this current Reds team.

Big Klu
06-06-2012, 03:25 AM
I'm pretty sure they used 25 players then. There was a few seasons in the 80's when only 24 was used.

According to baseball-reference.com, the 24-man roster was used in the first half of the 1978 season (until July 1), and throughout the 1986-89 seasons (except for the September call-up period). The collective bargaining agreement that ended the 1990 lockout made the 25-man roster mandatory, though a 27-man roster was permitted until April 25, 1990 due to the shortened Spring Training. A similar measure was put into place after the 1994-95 strike, allowing a 28-man roster until May 15, 1995.

mth123
06-06-2012, 06:10 AM
I remember some really good bench players who could hit or just play over the years. Smokey Burgess and Jerry Lynch were a little before my time but how about these guys:

Art Shamsky, Don Pavletich, Mack Jones, Fred Whitfield, Darrell Chaney, Dan Driessen, Andy Kosco, Merv Rettenmund, Mike Lum, Bob Bailey, Doug Flynn, Joel Youngblood, Harry Spilman, Duane Walker, Lenny Harris, Max Venable, Sam Mejias, Jacob Brumfield, Thomas Howard, Jeff Branson, Jeff Treadway, Eduardo Perez, Chris Stynes, Jon Nunnally, Alex Ochoa, Reggie Taylor, Juan Castro, Ryan Freel, Javier Valentin, Jeff Keppinger, Laynce Nix, Jonny Gomes, Miguel Cairo and of course the epitome of a bench player, Mr. Bench Me or Trade Me - Chico Ruiz.

A lot of lessons in there about really good players who contribute from the bench who are exposed every day. This year's bench isn't very good because some really good bench guys are playing most of the the time. Time will tell whether Chris Heisey and Todd Frazier have what it takes to be every day players, but I know for sure that the bench misses them.

cumberlandreds
06-06-2012, 09:58 AM
According to baseball-reference.com, the 24-man roster was used in the first half of the 1978 season (until July 1), and throughout the 1986-89 seasons (except for the September call-up period). The collective bargaining agreement that ended the 1990 lockout made the 25-man roster mandatory, though a 27-man roster was permitted until April 25, 1990 due to the shortened Spring Training. A similar measure was put into place after the 1994-95 strike, allowing a 28-man roster until May 15, 1995.

Thanks! I knew there was a stretch os seasons in the 80's that the GM's all agreed to go with the 24 man roster. I think it was mainly used as a way to get back at the union.

RedlegJake
06-07-2012, 02:43 PM
Jim Coker or Don Pavaletich? Or am I missing a joke? (don't think I am)

I always felt sorry for Pavletich. Comes up in the late 50s behind Ed Bailey. Then he has Johnny Edwards the great defensive catcher in front of him, and then the wunderkind Johnny Bench. Don could flat out hit, and he wasn't a half bad catcher either. On about two-thirds of MLB teams he would have been the starter and I am not kidding. In that era a player couldn't get away from his team though and the Reds knew his value as a backup, pinch hitter (he was a good one) and also as a backup first sacker. He and Art Shansky were two of my favorites growing up. I must have had a thing for subs, though I don't think I really thought of them that way. To me, next season was always gonna be their year.