Frank Robinson and Immediate Impact Trades

February 20, 2019
Frank Robinson passed away on February 7th, causing many to reflect on the career of one of the game’s all-time greats.
 
What comes to mind first when you hear the name Frank Robinson? Do you think of a 2-time MVP? A triple crown winner? The first African-American manager in the Majors? 
 
Two things come to my mind before all others – and they’re both rooted in being a lifelong Reds fan.
 
The first thing I think back to is my first season of truly following the Reds  - 1970. I was excited that the team got off to a tremendous start (70 wins in their first 100 games) and reached the World Series. However, they ran into a great team having an even better year – the 108-win Baltimore Orioles. The star of the World Series was certainly third baseman Brooks Robinson, who put on a dazzling display in the field as well as with the bat, but I think their best player and leader was Frank Robinson, not just that year, but for the entire time that he was with the franchise (1966-1971). To me, he epitomized that era of Orioles baseball.
 
The second thing is that, 5 years prior, the Reds had traded Robinson (arguably the greatest player in the team’s history, with apologies to Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Joe Morgan) to the Orioles for Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun, and Dick Simpson.  The Robinson trade is often cited as one of the worst trades (if not the worst) in baseball history. No less an authority than Annie Savoy refers to it in the opening to "Bull Durham", and Annie wouldn’t lie to us about something like that. 
 
I was too young to experience the Robinson trade as it happened, but I sure heard about it a lot over the subsequent years, and the phrase "not a young 30" became very familiar to me. Incidentally, the Reds owner (and GM) Bill DeWitt is often misquoted as having said that Robinson was "an old 30". He actually said "not a young 30", which is at least slightly different. Here’s the full quote:
 
"It was nothing personal at all. Robinson is not a young 30.  If he had been 26, we might not have traded him."
 
Needless to say, both memories are rather depressing to me.
 
I think part of what why the trade remains so memorable was the immediacy of the impact, and the impact it had on the Orioles franchise. The Orioles came to fruition in 1954 after existing more than 50 years as the generally awful St. Louis Browns. The franchise had only made it to the World Series once in its history (in 1944) and, more often than not, finished in the lower half of the AL standings. 
 
The Orioles had some success in 1964 and 1965, winning over 90 games both years, but came up short, finishing in 3rd place both times. The Robinson trade was made in December 1965.  In 1966, Robinson debuted with the Orioles by winning the triple crown, winning the MVP (unanimously), and leading the team to the World Series championship by sweeping the Dodgers 4-0. In other words, quite the debut, and a signature moment for the Orioles franchise.
 
Robinson played 5 more seasons with the Orioles (with 3 more World Series appearances and one more title, in 1970) before finishing up his career with short stints with the Dodgers, the Angels, and, finally, the Indians, where, in 1975, he was named as the first African-American manager.
 
So, in tribute to Robinson, I wanted to explore other trades that might qualify as "Immediate Impact" trades. 
 
Now, this is a little different exercise than just identifying "bad" trades or "lopsided" trades. There is no shortage of articles on that subject, and there are many such trades to choose from in baseball’s long history.
 
The main criteria I was looking for included:
 
1)      One team receiving a significant amount of value in the first season after the trade
2)      The exchange clearly favoring one team over the other in that first year in terms of the value exchanged.
 
The Robinson trade clearly met both of those criteria. In addition to those 2 factors, there were also some other factors present that made the trade memorable, such as:
 
a)      The success of the individual (Robinson was the MVP and triple crown winner in that first season, plus he was an all-time great)

b)      The success of the team (The Orioles were World Series winners in that season)
 
The Robinson trade clearly hit on all cylinders.   Not all trades I’ll be reviewing click on all 4 of these, but you will see various combinations of those factors present. The primary guideline, though, is a strong net advantage in value in that first season. I’m not really focusing on long-term effects or advantages, although of course some of these trades will exhibit that as well.
 
Also note that, in determining net value exchanged, sometimes the values will represent multiple players rather than just one main player.
 
Identifying Immediate Impact Trades
 
The Baseball Gauge has a nifty tool for analyzing trades by looking at +/- rWAR values. That is, it analyzes how much future value (as measured by rWAR) was "sent out" from one team, and how much was "brought in", and then netting the 2. It summarizes how much rWAR each player had accumulated before the trade, and how much each player accumulated after the trade, both with the team that acquired him, as well as for the balance of his career with subsequent teams.
 
Before diving in, it’s probably worth a few minutes to familiarize everyone with the information the tool provides by looking at a few examples.
 
For starters, this is how the Robinson trade is summarized on The Baseball Gauge. Note that, in order to ensure that the data is accurately represented, I took the liberty of copying all tables directly from the site. 
 
The WAR data in the tables represents Baseball-reference.com’s rWAR:
 
Baltimore received:
Player
RF
30
63.9
43.5
32.3
7.7
Total
63.9
43.5
32.3
7.7
 
Cincinnati received:
Player
SP
26
19.7
24.3
4.7
2.4
RP
29
5.8
-1.3
0.1
0.0
RF
22
0.0
-2.1
-0.4
-0.5
Total
25.5
20.9
4.4
1.9
 
High Level Summary:
 
Total WAR After Trade
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Baltimore Orioles
20.9
43.5
22.6
1.9
7.7
5.8
Cincinnati Reds
43.5
20.9
-22.6
7.7
1.9
-5.8
 
Let’s walk through those tables…..
 
In Robinson, Baltimore received a 30-year old player who had accumulated 63.9 career rWAR prior to the trade and generated another 43.5 over the rest of his career after the trade (with all teams, not just the Orioles). Baltimore directly realized 32.3 of that total over his 6 seasons with the team, and he generated 7.7 of that in the first year post-trade (1966).
 
Cincinnati received players who had accumulated 25.5 rWAR up to that point, 19.7 of which was represented by Pappas, 5.8 by Baldschun, and zero by Simpson. Those players accumulated another 20.9 rWAR after the trade over the course of their careers (24.3 by Pappas, and negative figures for the other 2).   Cincinnati only realized 4.4 of that total (mostly by Pappas), and only 1.9 in that first year (2.4 by Pappas, zero or negative from the other 2). 
 
So, the summary scores it as a net +22.6 gain for the Orioles (43.5 future rWAR "brought in" minus 20.9 "sent out) and a 22.6 net loss for the Reds in terms of how much future value the players represented.
 
The first year is scored as a net +5.8 for the Orioles (7.7 brought in for Robinson minus 1.9 by the 3 Reds players). 
 
You could also score it as +27.9 for the Orioles if you compare only what the players did for the 2 franchises (32.3 for the Orioles minus 4.4 for the Reds), although the site does not include those figures in the high level summaries or in the listings in that section on the site, so you really can’t do analysis by that category through the listings on the site….you can only see it if you drill down to each and every trade.
 
Also, it confines the data only to the players included in the direct trade….it does not attempt to get into chain events such as evaluating players that these players may have been subsequently traded for at a later date, because that would be extremely complicated. It is confined to the players that were in that deal alone.
 
So, does the Robinson trade, going strictly by those data points, rate as one of the most lopsided trades of all time? No, it really doesn’t. Of course, this is not the only way to evaluate a trade. 
 
The first-year numbers show the Orioles up 5.8.   Among trades since 1901, that ranks only #122 by that metric. And if you look at the full post-trade value exchange, the +22.6 figure for the Orioles is only #395 among trades since 1901.
 
It’s easy to see why the trade doesn’t "rank" higher. If you’re looking at total +/- rWAR over the balance of a career, the most "lopsided" trades tend to happen when one team acquires young players (in many cases, multiple young players) who are at the beginning of their careers and haven’t proven much yet. Robinson was traded at 30, so while what he did after the trade is still impressive and definitely favors the Orioles, it pales by comparison to other trades where multiple players may have been traded at the beginning of successful, long careers and had a chance to accumulate high post-trade totals. Those are the ones that tend to show up as lopsided by this methodology.   But, again, that’s only one way to evaluate.
 
For example, here is an exchange that is sometimes cited as a bad trade due to giving up too much future value. I should note that this is not the type of trade I am looking for, but it’s good as a different kind of example.
 
In August 1996, the Minnesota Twins traded a 30-year old David Hollins to the Seattle Mariners for a 20-year old power prospect named David Ortiz. The tool shows that Seattle sent out 55.3 rWAR (David Ortiz’ rWAR from the point in the trade to the end of his career) and only brought in 3.6 (Hollins’ rWAR from that point to the end of his career). Therefore, the trade, at a high level, is scored as -51.6 for Seattle, and +51.6 for Minnesota.
 
Here’s how that trade is summarized:
 
Player
DH
20
 
55.3
2.6
 
Total
0.0
55.3
2.6
0.0
 
 
Player
3B
30
14.2
3.6
1.1
1.1
Total
14.2
3.6
1.1
1.1
 
 
 
Total WAR After Trade
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Minnesota Twins
3.6
55.3
51.6
1.1
0.0
-1.1
Seattle Mariners
55.3
3.6
-51.6
0.0
1.1
1.1
 
Which, is true on a certain level…..but the problem is Minnesota wasn’t the true beneficiary of the bulk of that value. Ortiz, in his 6 years with the Twins, only accumulated 2.6 rWAR, while he had displayed some power potential, he was a long way from the star he would become. The balance of 52.7 rWAR was achieved by Ortiz with Boston after he signed with them as a free agent. So, I think it’s fair to say on the one hand that Seattle made an unwise decision by trading away a future Hall of Famer, but it would be misleading to award that future value to Minnesota simply because they acquired him at that stage.
 
In any case, while that trade represents a large +/- on the surface, it’s not really what I’m looking for. I’m looking for trades where the direct trading partner ended up with an immediate advantage resulting from the trade.
 
Here’s another trade that is often cited as one of the most lopsided in terms of post-trade career value, but isn’t what I’m looking for because there was minimal immediate impact.
 
December 8, 1988
 
Cubs receive:
Player
RP
24
3.6
3.8
2.3
2.3
SP
26
2.6
-0.5
-1.2
-1.2
RP
23
-0.1
2.2
1.2
-0.0
SS
27
2.0
-1.0
-1.4
-0.0
Luis Benitez
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pablo Delgado
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total
8.1
4.4
1.0
1.1
 
 
 Rangers receive:
Player
1B
24
2.9
69.0
44.6
2.6
SP
26
5.3
44.5
-0.6
-0.6
RP
25
-1.3
-0.1
0.8
0.8
Total
6.9
113.5
44.8
2.9
 
 
 
Total WAR After Trade
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Texas Rangers
4.4
113.5
109.1
1.1
2.9
1.8
Chicago Cubs
113.5
4.4
-109.1
2.9
1.1
-1.8
 
The Cubs traded away 2 young players who would go on to long, productive careers, trading away over 113 future rWAR and bringing in a group of players that didn’t provide a lot of value from that point forward in their careers. 
 
However, in the first year post-trade, only Palmeiro provided much value for the Rangers, and it really wasn’t a lot (he hit .275 with 8 home runs and 64 RBI). Moyer was years away from realizing any degree of success, and Texas certainly didn’t see any of that. So, even though this is considered lopsided in terms of what the players traded away eventually generated, it didn’t provide much in the way of immediate impact, with the Rangers netting only +1.8 in that first year.
 
So, again, that’s not really what I’m looking for. 
 
How about the Lou Brock trade (for Ernie Broglio, Doug Clemens, and Bobby Shantz) from the Cubs to the Cardinals in 1964? Brock hit .348 from the point of the trade until the end of the season, and the Cardinals went on to win the World Series. That was a good trade for sure, and it had an impact on that season, and it got even more lopsided over the course of Brock’s career. 
 
But, in that first year, Brock generated about 5.7 rWAR post-trade for the Cardinals in just over 100 games. That’s a good total for 100 games, and if we prorated out to a full year, this trade would rate up there with some of the others we’ll review later. But, strictly by the numbers in the books, it doesn’t quite measure up to the others. So, I’d say it meets the general criteria, but it didn’t put enough in the books to elevate it to the same status as some of the others. I can award it a solid honorable mention, though.
 
So, you won’t see me review trades like the following:
  • Ryne Sandberg from the Phillies to the Cubs
  • Jeff Bagwell from the Red Sox to the Astros
  • Randy Johnson from the Expos to the Mariners
  • John Smoltz from the Tigers to the Braves
  • Fergie Jenkins from the Phillies to the Cubs
 
or several other similar trades that are often cited as one-sided. Although they were lopsided over the long haul, they didn’t register a large enough immediate, first-year impact by this approach. Those are in a separate category.
 
Oh, and another trade you won’t see here? Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees. The site classifies that as a "purchase" rather than a trade, since the Red Sox only received money in exchange for Ruth. Otherwise, that would certainly be at the top of the list.
 
Onward…..
 
Immediate Impact Trades
 
OK….so I’m hoping you’re getting a sense on how this works. Below are some of the stronger examples I found of "immediate impact", first-year value trades. Again, I’m defining "immediate impact" as the difference in first-year value only (value in minus value out). Some of these resulted in personal success, some in team success, some in both.
 
Some of these I’m sure you’ll recognize. Some may surprise you.
 
November 29, 1971 – Giants trade Gaylord Perry and Frank Duffy to Indians for Sam McDowell
 
First Year Impact: +14.1 for the Indians.
 
Indians received:
Player
SP
33
34.4
56.0
29.0
11.0
SS
25
-0.2
10.6
11.4
2.3
Total
34.2
66.6
40.3
13.4
 
Giants received:
Player
SP
29
41.8
0.2
-0.8
-0.7
Total
41.8
0.2
-0.8
-0.7
 
High level summary:
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Cleveland Indians
-0.7
13.4
14.1
San Francisco Giants
13.4
-0.7
-14.1
 
This was primarily a trade of a pitcher for pitcher, although Frank Duffy presumably was included in the trade to help balance it a little since the Indians were receiving the older pitcher. In addition, the Indians coveted Duffy for his glovework, and he did start for the Indians for 6 seasons at shortstop. (You astute observers out there may recognize Duffy’s name from another big trade, although it wasn’t considered so at the time.   Earlier that year (in May), Duffy was traded from the Reds to the Giants for George Foster, a trade that eventually was one of the keys to the success of the Big Red Machine.
 
Prior to the trade, Perry and McDowell were relatively equal in terms of their success. Perry had pitched 10 seasons with the Giants with a 134-109 record, a 2.96 ERA, a 119 ERA+, had been named to 2 All Star teams, had years where he led the league in wins and innings pitched, and had a Cy Young runner up finish (in 1970). He had just completed his age 32 season, and had accumulated 34.4 rWAR. 
 
I would say that, at that time, Perry was considered a good pitcher, but I don’t think he was on a real Hall of Fame career track.   Only 2 of his top 25 Similarity Score comps through age 32 (per Baseball Gauge) are Hall of Famers – Jim Bunning and Rube Marquard. Most of the top 10 comps are players like Burt Hooton, Steve Rogers, Dean Chance, Doug Drabek, and Bob Welch. Good pitchers all, but not exactly Hall of Fame material.
 
McDowell had pitched 11 seasons with the Indians, with a 122-109 record, a 2.99 ERA, a 119 ERA+, had been named to 6 All Star teams, and had a 3td place finish in the Cy Young (1970). McDowell led the AL in strikeouts 5 times (also in walks 5 times and wild pitches 3 times), as well as taking home an ERA crown. 
 
Looking back after the fact, McDowell was basically a left-handed version of the first half of Nolan Ryan’s career (Ryan was just emerging on the scene at the time of the trade, having been included in his own big trade at the time from the Mets to the Angels). McDowell had just completed his age 28 season, and had accumulated 41.8 rWAR.   Was McDowell on a Hall of Fame track through age 28? Perhaps. He was certainly spectacular with the high strikeout totals and with the ERA crown. Clearly, not a sure thing, but he had a shot.
 
So, if anything, this trade appears as though it could benefit the Giants, as the 2 pitchers were fairly similar in career accomplishments and effectiveness, but with McDowell being 4 years young (although, admittedly, much wilder too). 
 
The trade, however, turned out to be a slam dunk for the Indians. Perry debuted with an amazing 1972 season in which he went 24-16, 1.92 ERA, 168 ERA+, and took home the Cy Young. McDowell had a mediocre 1972, and was out of the league in few seasons. 
 
Perry went on and pitched for another 11 seasons, picked up a 2nd Cy Young award (with the Padres), eventually ending up in the Hall of Fame. Evaluating pitchers solely from age 33 to the end of their careers, Perry had 180 wins, a total exceeded only by Cy Young (244), Phil Niekro, Warren Spahn, Jamie Moyer, and Randy Johnson. He was one of the best "old" pitchers in the game’s history.
 
When all was said and done during their stints with the respective teams, the Indians realized 40.3 rWAR from Perry and Duffy combined, and the Giants got -0.8 from McDowell, a net +41.1 for the Indians. 
 
Isolating the first year, this trade is scored as a +14.0 for Cleveland as Perry (11.0) and Duffy (2.3) brought in 13.3 rWAR, while McDowell’s 1972 season resulted in a -0.7 rWAR. 
 
Was this as impactful as the Robinson trade? Well, Perry’s rWAR was quite a bit more than Robinson’s, and he did win the Cy Young in a close vote over Wilbur Wood. On the other hand, these were the early 1970’s Indians, and they weren’t very good. The team finished 5th in the AL East that year.
 
Apr 1, 1987 Cardinals trade Andy Van Slyke, Mike LaValliere, and Mike Dunne to the Pirates for Tony Pena
 
First Year Impact: +11.9 for the Pirates.
 
Pirates received:
Player
CF
26
10.2
31.1
31.0
5.5
C
26
1.6
12.3
10.6
2.9
SP
24
 
0.1
1.4
2.4
Total
11.8
43.5
43.1
10.8
 
Cardinals received:
Player
C
29
22.4
2.3
2.2
-1.1
Total
22.4
2.3
2.2
-1.1
 
High Level Summary:
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Pittsburgh Pirates
-1.1
10.8
11.9
St. Louis Cardinals
10.8
-1.1
-11.9
 
This one may not be as memorable as some others because the value is spread out over 3 players and the Cardinals were still a good enough team to reach the World Series in 1987 despite this trade, but there’s no doubt that this was a great trade for the Pirates. 
 
Although they didn’t reach the playoffs for a few years, this was a key moment for the Pirates. The Pirates from 1984-1986 finished in last place each season. In 1986, they finished 44 games behind the Mets. But, after this trade, the 1987 Pirates improved 16 games (finishing 80-82), and were respectable over the next few seasons, setting themselves up for their 3-year reign in the NL East from 1990-1992.
 
As it turns out, the Pirates traded Pena at the perfect time. He was one of the best catchers in baseball at the time, a 4-time All Star, 3-time Gold Glove winner, and a pretty good hitter. He had just completed his age 29 season. He had a lot of value.
 
In 1987, all 3 of the players acquired by the Pirates had good seasons. Van Slyke, who had been primarily a platoon player for the Cardinals for a few years (he had a rather severe platoon split), became pretty much an everyday center fielder for the Pirates and was probably the #2 centerfielder in the NL that year behind Eric Davis of the Reds. Van Slyke provided a good bat and Gold Glove defense. LaValliere hit .300 that first season and won the Gold Glove, and Mike Dunne went 13-6, 3.03, and was the NL Rookie of the Year runner up to Benito Santiago.
 
Dunne never followed up his rookie success, but Van Slyke and LaValliere were still key parts of the team when the Pirates eventually reached the playoffs.
 
January 30, 1959 Reds trade Smoky Burgess, Harvey Haddix, and Don Hoak to the Pirates for Frank Thomas, Whammy Douglas, John Powers, and Jim Pendleton
 
First Year Impact: +11.6 for the Pirates.
 
Reds receive:
Player
LF
29
13.7
4.8
-1.7
-1.7
SP
23
-0.1
 
 
 
LF
29
-0.2
0.0
0.2
0.2
LF
35
-0.4
-1.0
-0.1
-0.1
Total
13.0
3.8
-1.7
-1.7
 
Pirates received:
Player
C
31
17.5
15.8
14.6
2.9
SP
33
22.7
10.5
10.0
3.6
3B
30
6.4
14.8
13.5
3.4
Total
46.5
41.1
38.0
9.9
 
High level summary:
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Pittsburgh Pirates
-1.7
9.9
11.6
Cincinnati Reds
9.9
-1.7
-11.6
 
This trade came on the heels of a 1958 season in which Thomas hit 35 home runs for the Pirates and finished 4th in the MVP balloting, and the Reds decided to make a deal to obtain him (interestingly enough, to give them another bat in the lineup to support Frank Robinson).
 
This trade rates high not because of any one spectacular player (like in the Robinson trade), but rather the receipt of 3 good players who all made solid contributions. This was also a case where trading away the older, more established players, all in their 30’s, didn’t work out. The Pirates did not have a great year in 1959, but they won it all in 1960, with all 3 playing key roles. Thomas, meanwhile, bombed in his only season for the Reds in 1959, who then traded him to the Cubs following the season.
 
Even beyond that, this trade had lingering success for the Pirates. Each of the 3 players ended up playing 4 to 6 seasons for the Pirates. Burgess had 4 All Star seasons with the Pirates, and Hoak was the MVP runner up (to teammate Dick Groat) in 1960, and even received 5 first place votes. Haddix was a solid starter for the Pirates and won 2 games (1 in relief) in the 1960 World Series. The Reds basically got nothing to show for this deal.
 
A historical side note, of course, is that both Haddix and Hoak are well remembered for their roles in the famous 12-inning perfect game that Haddix tossed against the Braves in 1959, where the Braves eventually won in the 13th inning. Hoak committed the error that broke up the perfect game.
 
February 1, 1954 New York Giants trade Bobby Thomson and Sam Calderone to the Milwaukee Braves for Johnny Antonelli, Billy Klaus, Don Liddle, and Ebba St. Claire
 
First Year Impact: +10.5 for the Giants.
 
Giants receive:
Player
SP
23
1.6
30.2
31.4
7.5
SS
25
-0.1
8.1
 
 
SP
28
1.7
3.2
4.2
2.8
C
32
0.1
0.5
0.5
0.5
Total
3.4
42.0
36.1
10.7
 
Braves receive:
Player
CF
30
25.1
8.2
2.5
-0.1
C
27
-0.4
0.3
0.3
0.3
Total
24.7
8.5
2.8
0.2
 
High Level Summary:
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
New York Giants
0.2
10.7
10.5
Milwaukee Braves
10.7
0.2
-10.5
 
This one is another classic case where one team traded an established star (who was 30 years old) for a younger player at the right time and came out of it smelling like a rose. Thomson was a Giant hero, of course, with the 1951 "Shot Heard Round the World" that occurred only a couple of seasons before this trade. Thomson was heading into his age 30 season, a 3-time All Star who consistently hit 20-30 homers and 100 RBI a season. 
 
The Giants were coming off a disappointing 1953 season where they went 70-84, and the Braves won 92 games, but they were looking for another bat (Hank Aaron had not yet emerged, as 1954 was his rookie season).   Antonelli was a promising young pitcher for the Braves, but they felt they could spare him. 
 
Antonelli was an immediate sensation for the Giants, going 21-7 with a league-leading 2.30 ERA, finishing 3rd in the MVP balloting. Had a Cy Young award existed (it didn’t begin until 1956), he likely would have won it. Antonelli went on to 5 All Star seasons with the Giants. Liddle also had a nice season as a 4th/5th starter and occasional reliever. 
 
The 1954 season, of course, was a huge success for the Giants, culminating in a 4-0 sweep of the Indians in the World Series.
 
For his part, Thomson got hurt in his first year with the Braves, and even though he came back to some degree in subsequent years, he was never quite the same player.
 
December 12, 1984 Cardinals trade George Hendrick and Steve Barnard to the Pirates for John Tudor and Brian Harper
 
First Year Impact: +10.1 for the Cardinals.
 
Player
CF
35
31.0
-1.9
-1.4
-2.0
Steve Barnard
 
 
 
 
 
 
Total
31.0
-1.9
-1.4
-2.0
 
 
Player
SP
30
13.1
21.2
19.9
8.3
C
25
0.1
12.1
-0.1
-0.1
Total
13.3
33.3
19.9
8.2
 
 
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
St. Louis Cardinals
-2.0
8.2
10.1
Pittsburgh Pirates
8.2
-2.0
-10.1
 
What, another Cardinals-Pirates trade? This one occurred 3 years before the Pena/Van Slyke trade, and this time it favored the Cardinals.
 
George Hendrick was a solid player for several seasons with the Cardinals, and he was getting up there in age, but the Pirates decided to deal for him. I’m not exactly sure why they wanted him so badly, although their 1984 outfield of Lee Mazzilli, Marvell Wynne, and Doug Frobel may have had something to do with it. Hendrick was getting up there, but he had been an All Star as recently as 1983.
 
However, Hendrick was a bust for the Pirates and was traded again before the season was over. In the meantime, the Cardinals ended up gong to the Series in 1985, in large part due to the great season that Tudor had. Tudor had been a solid pitcher for a few seasons with the Red Sox and the Pirates, but he had the season of his life in ’85, going 21-8 with a 1.93 ERA, finishing 2nd in the Cy Young balloting behind Dwight Gooden, who had his historic 24-4, 1.53 year. Tudor had some other decent seasons, but nothing quite like that first one.
 
November 28, 2003 Diamondbacks trade Curt Schilling to the Red Sox for Jorge de la Rosa, Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, and Mike Goss
 
First Year Impact: +10.0 for the Red Sox.
 
Diamondbacks receive:
Player
SP
22
 
13.3
0.5
-0.6
RP
24
1.1
5.2
2.1
 
Mike Goss
 
 
 
 
 
 
SP
25
1.3
-2.4
-1.7
-1.7
Total
2.5
16.0
0.9
-2.3
 
Red Sox receive:
Player
SP
37
61.9
17.7
17.7
7.7
Total
61.9
17.7
17.7
7.7
 
High Level Summary:
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Boston Red Sox
-2.3
7.7
10.0
Arizona Diamondbacks
7.7
-2.3
-10.0
 
Schilling had a terrific 4-year stint with the Diamondbacks, but was coming off a down season in 2003 and was getting up there in years, and the Red Sox were able to obtain him for a quartet of unproven prospects.
 
Johan Santana was a unanimous Cy Young winner in 2004, but Schilling finished in 2nd place with a 21-6, 3.26 performance. And, of course, that was just the warm-up for a memorable postseason run, highlighted by the famous "Bloody Sock" game, on the way to the Red Sox breaking their long World Series drought. Schilling was also a key contributor to the 2007 Red Sox title team, winning 3 more postseason games in that season.
 
Other Notable First Year Impact Trades
 
The trades covered above are ones that yielded a net +/- of 10.0 or higher in year one.   There are a few other notable ones that didn’t reach that threshold, but I think are worth reviewing for a variety of reasons.
 
December 15, 1997 Padres trade Derrek Lee, Steve Hoff, and Rafael Medina to the Marlins for Kevin Brown
 
Padres receive:
Player
SP
32
36.7
31.2
9.1
9.1
Total
36.7
31.2
9.1
9.1
 
Marlins receive:
Player
1B
22
0.3
34.2
9.9
0.8
Steve Hoff
 
 
 
 
 
 
RP
22
 
-1.2
-1.2
-1.1
Total
0.3
33.1
8.7
-0.2
 
High Level Summary:
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Florida Marlins
9.1
-0.2
-9.3
San Diego Padres
-0.2
9.1
9.3
 
This one is kind of different from the others I’ve been reviewing in that, in the long term, the Marlins actually came out pretty well on the exchange, as Lee had several good seasons with the team, while Brown only played with the Padres for 1 season.   But, that one season was a tremendous one for the Padres.
 
The Padres in 1998 improved by 22 games and reached the World Series for only the 2nd time in their history. Brown, who was a member of the champion ’97 Marlins the year before, had a stellar season in 1998 for the Padres, going 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA, finishing 3rd in a tight Cy Young award voting behind Tom Glavine and team mate Trevor Hoffman.
 
Brown became a free agent after the season and signed with the Dodgers, but the Padres fans will always remember the ’98 run to the World Series, even if they did end up getting swept by the Yankees.
 
November 29, 1971 – Reds trade Lee May, Tommy Helms, and Jimmy Stewart to the Astros for Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke, Jack Billinghame, and Ed Armbrister
 
Reds receive:
Player
2B
28
27.0
73.6
58.0
9.3
SS
31
24.0
4.1
4.1
2.2
CF
23
-1.1
14.0
13.2
0.6
SP
28
3.8
3.8
0.3
0.6
LF
23
 
-0.1
-0.1
 
Total
53.7
95.3
75.4
12.6
 
Astros receive:
Player
1B
28
15.9
11.3
6.2
2.8
2B
30
4.4
4.0
4.2
0.9
LF
32
-0.6
-0.7
-0.7
-0.3
Total
19.7
14.5
9.7
3.4
 
High Level Summary:
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Cincinnati Reds
3.4
12.6
9.2
Houston Astros
12.6
3.4
-9.2
 
Ultimately, this trade provided Reds fans with some much-needed relief from the Robinson trade 6 years earlier, but it was unpopular when it was first made. There was a lot of criticism surrounding the Reds trading away the right side of their infield in Helms and May, both of whom had been with the team for several years, and both of whom had been All Stars in previous seasons. Helms was also the reigning NL Gold Glove second baseman. 
 
In addition, Morgan was not a major star prior to the trade – he had made a couple of All Star teams with the Astros, and was basically a .260-ish hitter, knew how to work a walk, and showed good speed. Reds fans were skeptical, though.
 
Morgan was a hit from the outset, though, and had a brilliant first season with the Reds, leading the league in runs, walks, and OBP, finishing 4th in the MVP balloting, and leading the Reds back to the World Series in 1972 after a very disappointing sub-.500 record in 1971. Three years later, he would win the first of his two consecutive MVP’s. 
 
The trade is now fondly remembered among Reds fans as the greatest trade in team history.
 
April 9, 1916 – Red Sox trade Tris Speaker to the Indians for Sad Sam Jones and Fred Thomas
 
Red Sox receive:
Player
SP
23
0.6
42.6
11.1
-0.2
3B
23
 
-0.1
0.9
 
Total
0.6
42.5
12.0
-0.2
 
Indians receive:
Player
CF
28
55.7
78.4
74.2
8.7
Total
55.7
78.4
74.2
8.7
 
High Level Summary
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Cleveland Indians
-0.2
8.7
8.9
Boston Red Sox
8.7
-0.2
-8.9
 
Speaker already was a major star, having excelled for 9 seasons in Boston and playing a key role in 2 World Series titles, but relations were strained between Speaker and the Red Sox, and the trade was made. Jones eventually had some good seasons for the Red Sox and, especially for the Yankees. Still, it was a pretty decisive victory for Cleveland in this exchange, as Speaker won the batting title in his first season with the Indians, and proceeded to hit .354 over 11 seasons with the team.
 
February 25, 1972 Phillies trade Rick Wise to the Cardinals for Steve Carlton
 
Phillies receive:
Player
SP
27
22.1
68.4
69.6
12.5
Total
22.1
68.4
69.6
12.5
 
Cardinals receive:
Player
SP
26
15.0
21.6
8.8
5.3
Total
15.0
21.6
8.8
5.3
 
High Level Summary
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Philadelphia Phillies
5.3
12.5
7.3
St. Louis Cardinals
12.5
5.3
-7.3
 
This trade was made in the same offseason as the Gaylord Perry/Sam McDowell trade, and was essentially the same type of trade, this one being a straight up exchange of starting pitchers.
 
Carlton and Wise were fairly similar assets heading into the trade. Carlton had just finished his age 26 season with a 77-62, 3.10 career record in 7 seasons with the Cardinals, 3 of which saw him make the All Star team. 
 
Wise was one year younger with a 75-76, 3.60 record in 7 seasons with the Phillies. Wise, however, was coming off his best season, 17-14, 2.88, and was named to his first All Star team, while Carlton, despite a 20-9 record, only had a 3.56 ERA. Wise also had one of the all-time great individual games that year, when he not only no-hit the Reds, but also hit 2 home runs in the same game. Apparently there were contract issues for each pitcher with their respective clubs, and trade was worked out.
 
Carlton’s 1972 season was, if anything, even better than Perry’s was with the Indians that same year. Carlton had one of the more spectacular pitching seasons in history, going 27-10, 1.97 for a team that only won 59 games all year, winning the Cy Young award in a unanimous vote.
 
The only thing that kept this trade from being up near the top of the immediate impact trades was the fact that Wise had a pretty good year himself to offset some of Carlton’s value. Wise only had a 16-16 record, but with a respectable 3.11 ERA. His 5.3 rWAR that year was a career high. 
 
Still, when you consider how long Carlton pitched for the Phillies (15 seasons), it’s an amazing trade for the Phillies. In total, if you count the value generated by the players only for these 2 teams, Philadelphia realized over a +60 rWAR advantage in this exchange (69.6 vs. 8.8).
 
December 16, 2009 Blue Jays trade Roy Halladay to the Phillies for Travis d’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek, and Michael Taylor
 
 
Player
SP
32
48.1
16.2
16.2
8.3
Total
48.1
16.2
16.2
8.3
 
 
Player
C
20
 
2.1
 
 
SP
22
 
-0.1
-0.1
0.1
LF
23
 
-0.8
 
 
Total
0.0
1.2
-0.1
0.1
 
 
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Philadelphia Phillies
0.1
8.3
8.2
Toronto Blue Jays
8.3
0.1
-8.2
 
Halladay had been one of the top AL pitchers for much of his 12 years in Toronto, winning 1 Cy Young award, finishing in the top 5 on four other occasions, and being named to 6 All Star teams. But, Halladay was set to be a free agent after the 2010 season, and a trade was worked out to send him to the Phillies in exchange for 3 prospects.
 
Halladay joined an already strong Phillies team that had been to the postseason 3 straight years, including 2 straight World Series, and even though the Phillies didn’t return to the Series in 2010, Halladay made a strong impression, winning the NL Cy Young and making his postseason debut by tossing a no-hitter against the Reds in the NLDS.
 
Halladay only lasted 4 seasons in Philadelphia, and 2 of the seasons were pretty poor, but his first 2 were outstanding.
 
November 7, 1928 Boston Braves trade Rogers Hornsby to the Cubs for Socks Seibold, Percy Jones, Bruce Cunningham, Lou Legett, and Freddie Maguire
 
Braves receive:
Player
SP
32
-0.9
5.8
5.8
3.2
SP
29
3.0
0.8
1.2
1.2
SP
23
 
2.4
2.4
0.9
C
27
 
-1.2
-1.1
-1.1
2B
29
1.9
-4.6
-4.6
-1.7
Total
4.0
3.2
3.7
2.5
 
Cubs receive:
Player
2B
32
109.3
17.7
16.0
10.4
Total
109.3
17.7
16.0
10.4
 
 
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Chicago Cubs
2.5
10.4
7.8
Boston Braves
10.4
2.5
-7.8
 
Hornsby was a major star, of course, but he was starting to get a little on the old side. He did win the batting title with the Braves in 1928, but the Braves had some financial trouble and sent him to the Cubs in exchange for 5 players who didn’t have much of a track record plus $200,000 in cash (by the way, Socks Seibold is a different player than Socks Seybold, who played for the Athletics 20 years prior). 
 
Hornsby responded with one of his greatest seasons, hitting 39 home runs with 149 RBI and a .380 average on his way to MVP honors. The 1929 Cubs had a terrific offense – in addition to Hornsby, they had a tremendous outfield of Riggs Stephenson, Kiki Cuyler, and Hack Wilson, all of whom hit .345 or higher, and all of whom had OBP’s of .425 or higher.   The team averaged 6.3 runs per game to lead the majors, and it surely would have been an even stronger offense if Hall of Fame catcher Gabby Hartnett had been healthy (he only had 29 plate appearances that year). 
 
A footnote - the ’29 Cubs ran into the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series that year, and in the course of their defeat that year, they suffered 2 famous blows - being the victim of Howard Ehmke (the surprise pitcher that Connie Mack sprung on them in Game 1) and also blowing an 8-0 lead in game 4 when the Athletics scored 10 runs in the bottom of the 7th.
 
There was another interesting 1928 trade made, and it involved the player who was the runner up to Hornsby in the ’29 MVP vote:
 
October 29, 1928  New York Giants trade Lefty O’Doul to Phillies for Freddy Leach
 
Giants receive:
Player
LF
30
4.9
3.0
3.2
-0.4
Total
4.9
3.0
3.2
-0.4
 
Phillies receive:
Player
LF
31
-0.7
26.0
12.0
7.4
Total
-0.7
26.0
12.0
7.4
 
High Level Summary:
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Philadelphia Phillies
-0.4
7.4
7.8
New York Giants
7.4
-0.4
-7.8
 
This was basically a straight up trade of 30-ish starting outfielders who had hit .300 the year before (not that that was anything special in 1928). 1928 was O’Doul’s first full season back in the Majors (although he was hurt) after several years of playing in the PCL, where he had successfully converted from a pitcher into a full-time outfielder.
 
After the trade, Leach pretty much continued at his pre-trade level (generally a 2.0 WAR level or less), but O’Doul sky-rocketed. He led the league with 254 hits, a .398 average, and a .465 OBP. Even in the offensive playground of 1929, they were eye-catching figures. The 254 hits are still an NL record (tied by Bill Terry in 1930). Even though O’Doul was, shall we say, a little challenged in the field, it was his best season ever. He finished 2nd in the MVP to Hornsby. Although the Phillies were a long way from being contenders, they did improve from 43 wins in 1928 to 71 wins in 1929.
 
December 10, 1971 Mets trade Nolan Ryan, Leroy Stanton, Frank Estrada, and Don Rose to the Angels for Jim Fregosi
 
Angels receive:
Player
SP
24
2.5
79.3
40.5
6.4
RF
25
-0.2
6.9
5.3
2.0
C
23
0.0
 
 
 
RP
24
0.1
-0.4
-0.3
-0.3
Total
2.4
85.9
45.5
8.0
 
Mets receive:
Player
SS
29
45.9
2.8
0.1
0.4
Total
45.9
2.8
0.1
0.4
 
High Level Summary:
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
California Angels
0.4
8.0
7.6
New York Mets
8.0
0.4
-7.6
 
What was it about the offseason between the 1971 and 1972 seasons? The Perry trade, the Carlton trade, the Morgan trade, the Ryan trade? The planets were all in alignment.
 
An interesting note that 3 of the most durable, long career pitchers of all time were traded in that offseason between 1971 and 1972 – Gaylord Perry, Steve Carlton, and Nolan Ryan. All 3 are among the leaders in career innings pitched, and all 3 were key in lopsided trades in that same offseason. 
 
This, of course, was a very famous trade, and is often cited among the most lopsided of exchanges. Fregosi was a 6-time All Star with the Angels, a valuable asset at shortstop for many years, but he had a down year in 1971. Ryan, was a young starting pitcher with a ton of promise, but was extremely wild. 
 
This one was lopsided both in immediate impact and in long-term value. Ryan emereged as a star in his first season with the Angels, going 19-16 with a 2.28 ERA, a league-leading 329 strikeouts, and setting a record (that still stands) by allowing only 5.26 hits per 9 innings. Stanton also provided some nice first-year value for the Angels in 1972 to help tilt the scales, but mostly it is remembered for Ryan’s immediate and long term success, and for Fregosi bombing as a Met.
 
 
December 11, 1959 Kansas City A’s trade Roger Maris, Kent Hadley, and Joe DeMaestri to the Yankees for Hank Bauer, Norm Siebern, Don Larsen, and Marv Throneberry
 
Athletics receive:
Player
RF
37
29.3
-2.0
-2.0
-1.6
1B
26
5.6
15.4
11.2
2.3
SP
30
13.4
4.9
-0.1
-0.3
1B
26
0.2
0.1
0.5
0.2
Total
48.6
18.3
9.5
0.6
 
Yankees receive:
Player
RF
25
6.0
32.2
26.3
7.5
1B
24
-0.4
0.1
0.1
0.1
SS
31
-3.7
-0.2
-0.2
-0.1
Total
1.8
32.1
26.2
7.4
 
High Level Summary:
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
New York Yankees
0.6
7.4
6.9
Kansas City Athletics
7.4
0.6
-6.9
 
The Yankees had a rare down year in 1959, one of only 2 seasons between 1949 and 1964 that they didn’t reach the World Series (1954 being the other one).   Maris was a good young player for the Athletics, having made the All Star team in 1959.
 
His impact was substantial in 1960, winning the first of back-to-back MVP’s and helping get the Yankees back to the World Series, the first of 5 straight appearances for them spanning 1960-1964. Maris played a key role in the team’s success over that entire time frame. Siebern provided some value for Kansas City, but the other players they received were either over the hill (Bauer), horrible (Larsen, who went 1-10 with a 5.38 ERA), or soon-to-be legendary for all the wrong reasons (Throneberry)
 
March 24, 1984 Tigers trade Glenn Wilson and John Wockenfuss to the Tigers for Willie Hernandez and Dave Bergman
 
 
Player
RP
29
8.3
8.5
8.5
4.8
1B
30
2.3
4.4
4.4
2.0
Total
10.6
12.9
12.9
6.8
 
 
 
Player
RF
25
4.6
8.5
6.1
-0.7
C
35
6.8
0.3
0.3
0.8
Total
11.4
8.8
6.4
0.1
 
 
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Detroit Tigers
0.1
6.8
6.7
Philadelphia Phillies
6.8
0.1
-6.7
 
The Tigers had a good team in 1983, but had a great year in 1984, coming out of the gate winning their first 9 games, and 35 of their first 40.
 
Bergman was a journeyman first baseman who had never really had a regular gig, but ended up more or less as the regular first baseman for the ’84 Tigers.

However, what really made this squad was the addition of Willie Hernandez. Hernandez had been a decent reliever with the Cubs and the Phillies, but had the season of a lifetime with the Tigers in ’84 with a 9-3 record, 1.92 ERA, and 32 saves in 33 opportunities. He became one of the few closers in history to win both the Cy Young and the MVP award in the same season (Rollie Fingers in 1981 and Dennis Eckersley in 1992 being the others).
 
And finally, a very recent one:
 
January 25, 2018 Marlins trade Christian Yelich to the Brewers for Isan Davis, Monte Harrison, Jordan Yamamoto, and Lewis Brinson
 
 
Player
LF
26
18.6
7.6
7.6
7.6
Total
18.6
7.6
7.6
7.6
 
 
Player
Isan Diaz
 
 
 
 
 
 
Monte Harrison
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jordan Yamamoto
 
 
 
 
 
 
CF
23
-0.4
-0.2
-0.2
-0.2
Total
-0.4
-0.2
-0.2
-0.2
 
 
 
WAR, 1st Year After Trade
Team
Milwaukee Brewers
-0.2
7.6
7.8
Miami Marlins
7.6
-0.2
-7.8
 
Quite a debut for his new team. Yelich was a pretty good player for 5 years with the Marlins, but he truly broke out with the Brewers in 2018. He made his first All Star team, won the batting title, and was a mere 2 home runs and 1 RBI shy of taking the Triple Crown. He led the NL in slugging, OPS, OPS+, and total bases, and capped it by winning the MVP in a near-unanimous vote (1 writer voted for Jacob de Grom). The Brewers had a successful season, improving by 10 games over 2017 and making the playoffs for the first time in 7 years.
 
Wrapping it Up
 
Well, this could go on for a while with more and more examples, but it seems like a good place to stop. 
 
In short, the Robinson trade, while you can certainly find plenty of examples that surpass it in terms of quantitative value realized, still holds a significant place in our memory when we think of lopsided trades. And, no doubt, part of that is attributable to Frank Robinson himself, as well as everything that he accomplished on both an individual and a team level, especially in that first year.
 
I’m sure after reading this that many of you will have your own submissions of trades that meet the criteria. I welcome them. There were several that I thought might make the list, but ultimately they tended to be lacking on one point or another. In any case, if you’re wondering about how a particular trade stacks up, I’d be happy to review it in the comments.
 
Hope you enjoyed reading.
 
Dan
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

COMMENTS (18 Comments, most recent shown first)

evanecurb
LesLein:

Don't forget the five guys for Von Hayes trade, form the same era you're talking about. It actually turned out OK for the Phils, but it seemed outrageous at the time.
3:58 PM Feb 25th
 
LesLein
Wilson and Wockenfuss were traded to the Phillies, as you must know.

As a long-suffering Phillies fan I remember that trade. I also know who sent the other 1984 MVP, Ryne Sandberg, to the Cubs. That must be a record.

The Phillies were starting to show some promise, but they may squander a fortune on Bryce Harper.
4:21 PM Feb 24th
 
pgaskill
My favorite:

March 24, 1984 Tigers trade Glenn Wilson and John Wockenfuss to the Tigers for Willie Hernandez and Dave Bergman

It's maybe a little too much like masturbation for my taste, but OTOH it sure was a hell of a trade!!! ;-)
2:24 PM Feb 24th
 
MarisFan61
P.S. One of Pete Rose's Win Share numbers in those comparisons had a typo. (Sorry!)

Should be:

(numbers in each row are:
career total, top 3 yrs, best 5-yr run, and per-162-games)

F. Robinson: 519; 41,41,34; 164; 29.94
Morgan: 512; 44,40,39; 197; 31.31
Rose: 547; 37,34,32;* 160; 24.80
Bench: 356; 37,34,34; 155; 26.72

* Down there, I wrote "42" instead of 32. It was probably evident that I meant 32, but maybe not.


1:06 AM Feb 24th
 
LesLein
My recollection is that Carlton and Wise were holdouts in 1972. The trades were made out of spite.
7:48 PM Feb 22nd
 
evanecurb
I’d forgotten Torrez was also in the Singleton deal. They should’ve kept him. They traded him and Don Baylor to the A’s for Holtzman and Jackson.
7:33 AM Feb 22nd
 
DMBBHF
Thanks, Owen.

By the way, just to be clear in terms of how it was defined, the Baseball Gauge considered the "first year" of the Bagwell trade to be 1990 (since the trade was made in August of 1990), so it scores the "first" year post-trade as +1.2 for Boston (for Andersen) and 0 for Houston (since Bagwell didn't play for the balance of 1990).

That may not be intuitive or perfectly logical, but that's how they defined it. If it was an offseason trade, the first year was the next full season. If it occurred during the season, the first year was the balance of that season.

Thanks,
Dan
6:26 PM Feb 21st
 
DMBBHF
All,

Thanks for the comments.

Bruce,

The McNally (and Rich Coggins) for Singleton (and Mike Torrez) is actually one I probably should have included in the article. It scores as +9.3 for the Orioles, as Singleton was 5.1 and Torrez was 3.5 for the Orioles, while McNally/Coggins was negative 0.7 for the Expos. Torrez was pretty good with the O's that year, going 20-9, 3.06. My mistake for not including it.....I kind of glossed over it.

Also, that John for Allen trade could have been included as well, because even though they ended up fairly even over a period of a few years (in terms of total rWAR with the Dodgers and White Sox, respectively), that first year actually was 8.6 for Chicago and only 1.9 for LA, or +6.7 for Chicago. John's year was decent, but Allen has possibly his best season, and won the MVP.

Also, on your last comment....I did (sort of) do an article along those lines about 3 years ago, that looked at trades that were fairly even exchanges over time. It's at https://www.billjamesonline.com/balance_of_trade/

Thanks,
Dan
6:18 PM Feb 21st
 
OwenH
Fun article, Dan, I enjoyed it. The notorious Bagwell for Larry Andersen trade on August 30, 1990 had a good immediate impact -- Bagwell won the Rookie of the Year for Houston in 1991 -- but obviously a fantastic long-term impact for the Astros. But let's not totally discount Larry Andersen; he did amass a very impressive 1.23 ERA (in a majestic 22 IP) while helping the Red Sox close out the AL East. Of course, then he got toasted for 2 ER in three IP in the ALCS against the A's, but he contributed to Boston's division-winning season, before moving on to the Padres.
6:09 PM Feb 21st
 
ventboys
When I saw the headline a certain trade came to mind immediately; the M's/O's Bedard trade. I didn't see it in my article, but (of course) there are dozens of other trades that could just as easily fit the criteria.

I thought of that trade because it was a trade I KNEW, when announced, was a terrible trade. Not immediate impact (most of the value was down the road), but the knowledge that the M's got fleeced was immediate.

I wasn't here at the time -- I don't think "here" existed at the time -- but if I had, my thread-headline would have been something like "Bavasi leaves Baltimore wearing a barrel."

Nice stuff, Dan. By the time I fully unpack it we'll all be on to other things, unfortunately, but I really like your methodology. Maybe you could start a thread on RP to continue it?
12:42 PM Feb 21st
 
evanecurb
I really like this approach and its focus on immediate impact. As an O's fan, I have two other trades from the sixties and seventies that I recall fondly:

In the 1968-69 offseason: Curt Blefary to the Astros for Mike Cuellar. Cuellar won the Cy Young Award.

In the 1974-75 offseason, Dave McNally to the Expos for Ken Singleton.

I also thought of another big trade in that 1971-72 offseason that keeps coming up: Dick Allen from the Dodgers to the White Sox for Tommy John. That one helped both teams, and helped both of them a whole lot. Obviously it wouldn't show up in this criteria, so maybe that's another category (and another Dan Marks article? We can hope!): trades where both teams received substantial value. Frisch for Hornsby would be another one like that.
10:08 AM Feb 21st
 
Glwall3
If you are looking for 1-year results it would be tough to top what Christian Yelich did in his first year with the Brewers in 2018 after being traded from the Marlins. MVP season.
7:37 AM Feb 21st
 
DMBBHF
P.S. again.....

The mid-season trade of Tom Seaver from the Mets to the Reds was a +4.8 over the last 3.5 months of the 1977 season, so that would prorate to around +8 or so (although the Reds missed out on the playoffs that year).
6:09 AM Feb 21st
 
DMBBHF
P.S. - Another Indians trade (the 2008 trade of C.C. Sabathia from Cleveland to Milwaukee) is another one that's kind of similar to the Sutcliffe trade. That one is +5.5 for Milwaukee in roughly half a season. That's the year that Sabathia went 11-2, 1.65 for the Brewers over 17 starts and they went to the playoffs.
6:06 AM Feb 21st
 
DMBBHF
Maris,

Yes, that Indians-Cubs trade is a good one, and one that illustrates one of the shortcomings of my approach, because (like the Brock trade), the Sutcliffe trade happened during the season, which limits the opportunity for sufficient rWAR accumulation.

The Baseball Gauge summarizes the Sutcliffe trade as +3.4 for the Cubs (5.0 in, 1.6 out), but since it occurred on June 13, the period of time post-trade only represented about 3.5 months rather than a full season. If we prorate it to a full season, it would equate to about a +6 for the Cubs, and that would at least put it on the radar with some of the others.

I agree it definitely meets the the spirit of the concept, since it was a big part of the Cubs' success that year, and Sutcliffe also took home the Cy Young and finished 4th in the MVP.

Thanks,
Dan
6:01 AM Feb 21st
 
MarisFan61
A famous early/mid-season trade which to my surprise doesn't come close to meeting the metric criterion (the "rWAR" differential between the teams is maybe about a third of what it would need to be, for various reasons including that the key guy had a surprisingly modest rWAR) but which certainly meets the conceptual criterion was (I'll leave out the key guy; y'all figure it out): :-)

June 13, 1984: Traded by the Cleveland Indians with George Frazier and Ron Hassey to the Chicago Cubs for Darryl Banks, Joe Carter, Mel Hall, and Don Schulze.
1:04 AM Feb 21st
 
MarisFan61
I know it's just a side comment in the article, about whether Frank Robinson might be the greatest player in Reds history ("arguably the greatest.....with apologies to Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, and Joe Morgan"), but I find it such an interesting question, how about if we warm up the Comments by getting into that a little (without hijacking the section; if that gets anywhere near happening, I'll make sure to do a couple of trades comments, which as usual will be stupid enough to bring some rebuttals, and there we'll be). :-)

I wouldn't be surprised if the Reds are the team on which this question is the very most interesting, who's their greatest player ever. Never thought about it before, but I mean, look:

Robinson "feels" to me like the answer, the greatest of the four.
Even though, with apologies to the grammarians, he's the 'least unique' of them, in a way the least outstanding -- but still he 'feels' (to me) like the greatest of them.
Bench and Morgan were and are, in the minds of many, the greatest all-time at their positions.
Pete Rose was and is Pete Rose, 'very one of a kind,' goodly and badly, much of it goodly.
Robinson is 'only' maybe, what?
Bill's last Historical Abstract ranks him as the #3 right fielder of all time, behind you-know-who and you-know-who. That ain't bad -- just ahead of....let's see: #4 Mel Ott, and #5 (goodness gracious) Pete Rose!!
After that: Gwynn, Reggie, Clemente.
So.....he's "only" 3rd best at his position, yet he feels "greater" to me than those others, including two guys who are perhaps #1 at their positions. Does that make sense? Does to me -- but it sure feels close.

For fun, let's see what Win Shares and "WAR" say. ("For fun" because I don't mean it'll solve the question; just to see how it looks.)
I'll show Bench last on each, to separate him out, because it's different for catchers, especially on how we view career totals.

On Win Shares, I'll do what Bill did in the last Historical Abstract, not because it enables me just to copy the data :-) but because it's what I try always to do, and I'm just lucky that with these guys it's all right there to be copied.

Bill did career total, top 3 yrs, best 5-yr run, and "per 162 games."\
Here are those Win Share numbers:

F. Robinson: 519; 41,41,34; 164; 29.94
Morgan: 512; 44,40,39; 197; 31.31
Rose: 547; 37,34,42; 160; 24.80
Bench: 356; 37,34,34; 155; 26.72

Morgan looks the best on this, with Robinson not far behind; and Bench -- those are spectacular numbers for a catcher.


Some "WAR" numbers, from baseball-ref.com (all rounded to integer).
How about:
career WAR, top 3 yrs, total of top 7 ("WAR7"), and "JAWS"

F. Robinson: 107; 9,8,8; 53; 80
Morgan: 101; 11,10,9; 59; 80
Rose: 80; 8,7,7; 45; 62
Bench: 75; 9,8,7; 47; 61

Basically same kind of picture as with Win Shares.

Verdict: Nothing. :-)
We could legitimately argue for any of the guys. It's like a Mays-Mantle debate. They're all great; pick any one that you want.
I take Robby.
10:39 PM Feb 20th
 
DMBBHF
I spotted an error.....I inadvertently stated that the Cardinals traded Wise to Phillies for Carlton, when it should be the other way around. I'm correcting that.

Dan
10:27 PM Feb 20th
 
 
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