1964 – Bob’s “what-if” for Sal Maglie

I haven’t done a “What If” for a while. Let me do one for Sal Maglie.

It all starts with: What If Mel Ott and Maglie had gotten along. Maglie pitched quite well in ’45, throwing 3 shutouts in his 10 starts, but for whatever reason, Ott didn’t see much of an upside for Maglie, played him sparingly in spring training ’46, and Maglie could see the handwriting on the wall. So he jumped ship and signed with the Mexican League and was banned for life. Prior to the ’50 season, all was forgiven, and Maglie was allowed to rejoin the Giants. Fortunately for Maglie, Ott was no longer there, having been replaced by Leo Durocher. Of course, by this time Maglie was 33. I can’t imagine too many 33 year old pitchers, with only 10 MLB starts under there belt, go on to HOF careers. But Maglie did do well enough to at least garner a few BBWAA votes. But what might have been if Ott could have foreseen Maglie’s future in ’46?

1945 05-04 2.35 166

We know what he did in ’45 and I’ll keep that as Maglie’s starting point. The columns that I’ll be using are Year, Wins, Losses, ERA and ERA+. It is possible under the right circumstances that he might have made his MLB debut before 1945. He was 28 years old after all and had pitched fairly well in the minors in ’41 and ’42. So he might have come up a little earlier than ’45, but I’ll stick with this premise.

1946 16-06 2.51 136

For 1946, I looked at his ’50 season, changed a couple of wins to losses and dropped his ERA+ 15 points. I figured his first full season might not be quite as good. His What If ERA is lower than his actual ’50 ERA because 1946 was much more of a pitchers’ year. Here’s where the speculation really begins.

1947 15-11 3.36 121
1948 17-10 3.02 131
1949 20-10 2.87 141
1950 23-09 2.71 151

I’m just guessing here. I have no evidence that this is what he would have done. It just seems reasonable to me. I kept his ’50 ERA and ERA+ the same as he actually had, and backed off 10 ERA+ for each preceding year. It gives him 230 to 280 Innings for these four years. Obviously I made him more consistent than he was likely to be, still it seem quite possible that he could have gone 75-40 from ’47 to ’50. For 1951 on I’m just copying down what he really did.

1951 23-06 2.93 134
1952 18-08 2.92 127
1953 08-09 4.15 103
1954 14-06 3.26 124
1955 09-07 3.77 106
1956 13-05 2.89 137
1957 08-06 2.69 155
1958 03-07 4.72 084

That gives Maglie totals of

192-104 3.07 130

He wasn’t likely to be a HOFer, altho he is really close, the kind of player that the VetCom in the ’80s really liked to induct. He’d have been in the Bridges-Dean-Ferrell-Gomez group, just 10 years later. Maglie had about as much bad luck as any pitcher of his generation getting his MLB career going (not counting the NeLers of course). He had the war (altho he was draft exempt) to deal with, a manager who disliked him just as he was getting a toe-hold, and the Mexican league fiasco. He had a fine career anyway. But it could have been more, if only “What If”.

edit: I really recommend reading his story at SABR’s BioProject, He had about as many personal setbacks as one could have. I don’t envy his life at all.

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