It occurs to me that I should have covered the Dodgers first, as I’m trying to go in order of how the teams finished the year, alternating between AL and NL, but the AL was alphabetically first, so…anyway, sorry to the Dodgers fans out there. No disrespect meant here.
As with the A’s, we’ll start with the rookies first.
Tim Belcher is up first, and no matter how he did in the regular season (which was quite good), he served an important role in the 88 playoffs, important enough that he qualifies as a huge success already. But let’s look at the numbers for the former A’s farmhand. He had a 12-6 record with a 2.91 ERA and a 7.6 K/9, good for a 4.1 WAR. That’s some good pitching!
Tim Crews was a former Brewers farmhand who made his debut in 87 like Belcher, and pitched in relief in 88, going 4-0 with a 3.14 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP (yikes), and a 0.7 WAR. I think he’ll mostly be remembered for being on the boat with Steve Olin and Bob Ojeda when both Crews and Olin passed away. RIP.
Tracy Woodson was a former third-round pick who also debuted in 1987. He never got a full season in the majors, but in 88 he got into 65 games, hitting .249/.279/.335 with three home runs and a -0.1 WAR.
And now for the vets…
Alejandro Pena’s inclusion in this set is confusing. He had been a long-time Dodgers player that apparently just missed the cut in the regular 1988 set, so we’re not going to look at him for the purposes of this set.
Alfredo Griffin came to LA from Oakland as part of the three-team deal I mentioned yesterday. He provided above-average defense but a .199/.259/.253 line in part-time play, good for a -0.2 WAR.
Jesse Orosco was moving around a lot in the late 80s. He came to the Dodgers with Alfredo Griffin, and also went straight into the tank like most of the other acquisitions. He had a 124 ERA+, but this just serves to illustrate why ERA+ is a flawed stat for relievers. Hell, even ERA, as he had a 2.72 ERA. The problem is that his BB/9 rose while his K/9 fell, both dramatically, and while he benefited from the Dodgers’ strong defense tremendously, his pitching outside of it was less than ordinary. It was just an off year, and a -0.4 WAR.
Mike Davis, a free-agent acquisition, was in the twilight years of his career, and was another disappointing pickup. He only managed a .196/.260/.270 line for a -0.7 WAR.
Jay Howell was the last piece in the trade that netted Griffin and Orosco. He would prove to be the most valuable in 1988, as well, going 5-3 with a 2.08 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP, and a 2.2 WAR. Not too shabby!
Rick Dempsey is our final player, and was another one nearing the end of his career, but he gave the Dodgers a good year after signing as a free agent at the end of Spring Training. He hit .251/.338/.455 with a 2.0 WAR as a backup catcher. That’s pretty damn good, and he had a few more years left in him for the Dodgers, Brewers, and Orioles.
Of course, the Dodgers won the 1988 World Series with a 94-67 record. What did these guys add? Well, surprisingly more than I thought looking at the numbers at an initial glance. It adds up to 7.6 wins above replacement, but we’ll round that down to about 6. That would put them at 88-73 without these guys. The funny thing is, that’s not too far off of their Pythagorean record (or what you would expect based on runs score vs runs allowed) of 91-70. So it doesn’t really matter, they still would have surpassed Cincinnati for the NL West crown.
All right! So tomorrow we look at the Red Sox.