TRIVIA WINNER: Congrats to Glenn Schubert of Bradenton, FL, who correctly found it was Bases on Balls which separated Jim Wynn and Rusty Staub in one key statistical category. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.
NEW TRIVIA CONTEST: By answering the TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY you are automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a Starbucks Gift Card. YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. Don't forget to put your mailing address in with the answer so if you win we can send you the gift card in the mail.
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NEW TRIVIA QUESTION: In what would be his best year ever, which infielder led the 1964 A's in several offensive categories including Batting Average?
ANSWER to the Trivia question in the previous column: Rusty Staub and Jim Wynn were separated by just 31 Bases on Balls.
When a team loses 105 games there are a lot of facets to look at but
when it comes to the 1964 Kansas City Athletics you only need to look as
far as the single pitch known as the "gopher ball." The home run
delivered by a pitcher and for the A's of 1964, there were plenty of
To be fair, the A's didn't hit either. They only batted .239 as a team but did collect 166 home runs from the hitters (third in the AL), scoring 3.8 runs a game. However, when it came to giving up those home runs, A's pitchers allowed 220 for last in the 10 team American League. Coincidentally, it's where the club finished in 1964; last. The clubs 4.71 ERA also ranked 10th.
When a pitcher gives up one home run every nine innings it's considered on the cusp. For A's pitchers in 1964, it was very, very bad. Leading the way was ace Orlando Pena who pitched 219 innings and finished 12-14. However, in those 219 innings he allowed an amazing 40 home runs to opposing batters. That is 1.6 homers per nine innings.
John O'Donoghue 24 in 173 innings, John Wyatt 23 in 128, Moe Drabowsky 24 in 168, Dan Pfister 10 in 41, Vern Handrahan 9 in 33, Aurelio Monteagudo 11 in 31, Blue Moon Odom 5 in 31, Jack Aker 6 in 16 and the team allowed an astounding 1.4 per nine innings.
The situation improved a year later. In 1965 the homers the pitching staff allowed dropped from 220 to 161 with Fred Talbot leading the way. He only gave up 25 in 198 innings and the team average of 1.0 was right where it needed to be. It still wasn't great and only good for 9th in the AL. The team ERA did improve to 4.24. When you only score 3.6 runs per game, you are going to lose more than you win.
The hitting didn't improve and actually dropped substantially. With Colavito gone and Gentile limited to 10 homers in 38 games, Hawk Harrelson led the team with 23. The club hit 110 for 10th in the American League. Not surprisingly, Kansas City again finished in 10th place but only lost 103 compared to 105 the previous season. They were 43 games back of pennant winning Minnesota while in 1964 they finished 42 back of the Yankees.
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