Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
January 30, 2006
BASEBALL: Most Valuable Bando

I happened to notice this at random the other day: most of us remember that Sal Bando was a good ballplayer, but did you realize that Bando finished in the top 4 in the MVP voting three times in four years? He finished second in the balloting in 1971 when he batted .271 with 24 HR and 94 RBI, fourth in 1973 when he batted .287 with 29 HR and 98 RBI, and third in 1974 when he batted .243 with 22 HR and 103 RBI. Not impressive numbers by today's standards or even great totals for Bando's day, but the voters of his time, watching him day in and day out, were ahead of their time in recognizing his value (today, there would be wider recognition of the value of a guy who played in an extreme pitcher's park, played good defense and drew a lot of walks, but I'm not sure that would translate into that kind of MVP support).

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:48 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

How he finished second (after teammate Vida Blue) in '71 is a mystery. Frank Robinson had a better year. The O's and Robinson were established commodities by '71. Before my time, but I'm guessing the A's were new and fresh and fun, so the writers rewarded them.

By '73, '74 the A's were a fixture. Bando benefited from being the #2 run producer (behind Reggie) on a consistent winner. .243 in '74? Third in MVP? C'mon...

Maybe the writers back then appreciated Bando's knack for walks and d. Or maybe they gave the A's a little oomph. Or maybe they liked the uniforms.

Posted by: seamus at January 30, 2006 8:04 PM

Seamus, Bando was not before my time. I actually saw him play, and he was a great player. He had some benefits for MVP voting, among them being an articulate, and approachable leader. He was always good for some quotes for the writers, and perhaps many people today don't realize just how quoted and covered those A's were. Not just for Reggie, but Charlie Finlay got more press in NY than any other owner. Remebmer, this was mostly before George, plus the A's won.

I'm surprised that Bando has not yet gotten into Cooperstown. I think he does deserve it, he was among the intergral players in a great dynasty, he was a friend of the press, and he was the best third baseman in the AL at the time he played. My guess on that note is he was caught in the Brooks shadow at one point, then in George Brett's and of course Mike Schmidtt's at the other end. He was not as good as Brett or Schmidt, but neither has any other third baseman in history, at least unitl ARod came along to switch positions.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 30, 2006 10:29 PM

Even then Reggie wasn't the stick that stirred the drink. Bando and Catfish Hunter were. Reggie and Blue were the flash on those teams, but Bando and Hunter were the glue that held them together. Either that or it was just the mustaches and white shoes.

Posted by: maddirishman at January 30, 2006 10:31 PM

What about Joe Rudi? My uncles used to love Joe Rudi. Talked about him all the time. I asked my dad about it when I was 10 or 12. Joe Rudi doesn't even play anymore, right? Dad laughed. Turns out Joe Rudi was, for some reason, their code word for pot, used around the women and children. Precious memories...

Posted by: seamus at January 31, 2006 7:38 AM

Seamus-

Did you ever get any hint why they chose that as the secret code?

Posted by: Mike at January 31, 2006 8:40 AM

I disagree; Reggie was the straw that stirred the drink. Always the mouth that roared, he was the best player on a rather raucous team. Reggie was more than three home runs in a world series game. He was probably the best of the second tier of right fielders (assuming you agree that Ruth, Aaron and Robinson are the top three, and everyone else is the next rung down or more); he is in a group that would include Ott, Kaline and Clemente, and I think he had at least as much impact as they did, more in my opinion, at least he and Ott did. I'm not going to get into a Clemente argument (I was never that big a fan of him), but I think few would disagree that Reggie's name belongs in that group. I liked Bando and would vote for his placque, but he never had the impact on his teams that Reggie had.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 31, 2006 9:24 AM

Good points, Daryl. You may recall about a month ago we had a bit of a debate regarding Reggie's *Baseball* skills as opposed to his Reggieisms.

I would argue, though, that right field has a one man first tier, as Baseball has a one man first tier: The Babe.

I'd feel comfortable putting Reggie at the lower end of a second tier that includes F. Robby, Aaron and Ott. Maybe Kaline & Big Sam Thompson too. I don't see Clemente in that group, though if you wanted to make him the bottom man of tier 2 I wouldn't argue.

Posted by: Mike at January 31, 2006 9:33 AM

Didn't Reggie play CF for the A's? I remember seeing footage of a great, diving catch in one of the WS. He was a very good athlete, at least early on.

Mike-

re Joe Rudi...no real reason I was ever given. One of them must have just said it one day, and it stuck. The cat's out of the bag now, of course. Everyone, three generations' worth- men, women and children, all for various reasons (some eager, some merely curious, some censurious)- wants to know whether Joe Rudi will be at this or that family function. After coming from the head at my wedding reception and seeing a few of my no good cousins toking up, I had to announce that Joe Rudi had not been invited and that anyone who allowed him to crash would be asked to leave (my wife's father, who was paying for it after all, has zero patience for that sort of thing). My family began laughing heartily, hers looked v/ confused. As the sports guy would say, good times.

Posted by: seamus at January 31, 2006 10:01 AM

I don't recall Reggie playing center, but that was over 30 years ago. I do recall Billy North being there though.

I grant you that the Babe is on his own tier, but I wanted to GROUP them, so I put Aaron and Robby with him, and I do't think any of them would be insulted in that group of three.

The reason I was never a Clemente fan was I always recall, even as a kid, how everyoen would crow over him, his arm is amazing, etc, etc. Well he did have a poerful arm, but I also remember how often he would throw home to get someone and throw up the first base line. His arm rep is really based on a temendous length, and a great throw made in the right field corner to third in the World Series, so it cemented his position as Mr. Greatest Arm. Plus many latins frankly were insulted if he wasn't grouped with the likes of the all-timers. Things have changed of course. Even forgetting the likes of ARod, Manny, and the many Latins that are some of the major stars today, earlier ones seem forgotten: Juan Marichal if you want a major leaguer, and I always bring up Dihigo and Torriente, to many blank stares. Reggie cold be an OK fielder when he sort of felt like it, but he was an incredibly dominating hitter.

Back to arms for a bit, if that's OK. What I tell people is that Willie Mays still had the greatest arm I ever saw. Incredible length, flawless accuracy, plus he wasn't Clemente macho about showing it off; he went for the out, not the highlight reel. It seems that Stan and Willie are the two biggest superstars (and Honus of course) who seems to be gotten off people's consciousness about greatness. Stan and the pre-2000 Bonds were similar to me, both unreal, both all timers. Mays may be the most perfect player there ever was, yet I hear today Aaron this, Aaron that. Aaron was unreal, frankly his best seasons probably did have more impact than Mays, but nobody, nobody ever thought Aaron, or anybody other than Mantle or Dimaggio could be compared to Willie Mays. Wow, all of this from Bando.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 31, 2006 11:02 AM

Aaron and Mays are different personalities. Mays got more attention when he played because he was cheerful and enthusiastic and a showman (plus he was in NY in his younger years). Aaron was quiet, serious. Now, it's reversed; because Aaron is more thoughful and articulate and stayed in the game, he gets quoted a lot and nobody much listens to Willie. I don't think Mays is forgotten, not at all. Musial is; other than Wagner and Bonds, Musial was the best player in NL history, better even than Mays or Aaron.

if you look him up, Reggie played 186 career games in center; only in 1972 was he mainly a CF, playing there 92 times. Much like Bonds, who played CF as a rookie but switched off during his second season, or Al Simmons or (amazingly) Kevin McReynolds. I suspect Reggie was a good corner OF pressed into service rather than a true CF.

I'm not sure I'd put Reggie even with Ott, but I'd have to look at the numbers; he was definitely a cut better than Kaline and Clemente and at least comparable to Ott.

Posted by: The Crank at January 31, 2006 11:23 AM

You can make the arguement that Reggie was the straw that stirred the drink with the Yankee's, but not the A's. He was a very good player that was starting to come into his own, but not the leader. Bando and Hunter filled that role Don't misunderstand, I am not saying Reggie wasn't a big part of the team, but MVP is more than stats in most cases and during that time frame, early 70's, Reggie wasn't the glue that held the team together.

Posted by: maddirishman at January 31, 2006 11:24 AM

Daryl-

Keep it up, this is great!

I agree with you about Musial. He's the number one man on the forgotten superstar list. A shame, too, cause unlike many others he's alive. For goodness sake, give this man his due before it's too late! For instance, couldn't they have had him appear before a game in St. Louis during the 2004 series?

By the way, I think one member of your trio would definitely object to the other two members, for reasons that I won't discuss here.

Posted by: Mike at January 31, 2006 11:32 AM

You can debate who was the leader of that team, and maybe it was Bando. But the best player on the team changed from year to year, which is a mark of the A's depth. Just from a quick look at the stats I'd say their best player by year was:

69-Reggie (when he hit the 47 homers and was chasing Maris at the All-Star Break)
70-Bando
71-Blue
72-Catfish, or maybe Rudi
73-Reggie
74-Reggie or Catfish
75-Tenace (Reggie and Catfish were gone by then)
76-Blue

Posted by: The Crank at January 31, 2006 11:48 AM

Their depth was remarkable, and I suppose we could go around the horn talking about invaluable contributions, but Fingers deserves a mention. 20-25 saves every year, a bunch of innings, double digit wins a few times, era consistently below 2.75. The "best" vs "most valuable" player argument may or may not be semantics, but a good case can be made for Fingers for the latter, at least.

Posted by: seamus at January 31, 2006 12:14 PM

I assume Mike you are alluding to the Babe not wanting to be compared to palyers a bit less white than he.

And Crank, I must disagree with you on Stan, and I love Stan, but no I don't think he was a better player than Willie Mays. Thinking about your personality comments, you are right. Aaron stayed in the game, became a distinguished statesman, and did get the record. Mays moved to Riverdale, near my sister, and becasme well known as a grouch. Since you don't generally become so grouchy so quickly, the Sey Hey Kid persona may have been just that, and the writers gave into it to sell papers, but may not have liked him. I don't know, I'm only speculating. But while Stan the Man is venerated in St. Louis, a wonderful baseball town, and is not as famous as he should be, he isn't Willie Mays.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at January 31, 2006 12:33 PM

Where's Stan's Coors commercial?

Posted by: Mike at January 31, 2006 12:47 PM

Or, since he's in St. Louis, his A-B commercial.

Posted by: Mike at January 31, 2006 12:47 PM

Re: Bando. Whether he was the best player or not, at the time Bando was always recognized (at least in the media) as the team leader. He was the captain of the team, and was referred to as "Captain Sal Bando" so often you'd have thought it was his given name. Whether real or imagined, those leadership qualities contributed to his rank in the MVP voting.

Posted by: Jeff A at January 31, 2006 3:21 PM
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