Saturday, January 3, 2009

Greatest Tandems

1. Sandy Koufax and Larry Sherry (1959-1963) - This Dodgers dynamic duo won 2 World Series together. Sherry was the 1959 WS MVP. Koufax was the 1963 WS MVP. Sherry finished 20th in MVP voting in 1960. Koufax finished 18th in MVP voting in 1961 and 24th the following year. In 1963, Koufax won MVP and Cy Young. Larry's brother, Norm, was also on the team from 1959-1962.

2. Ken Holtzman and Mike Epstein (1972) - It was a very good year if you were an Oakland A's fan. Not so much if you loved The Big Red Machine. The A's beat the Reds in the World Series, thanks in large part to a solid effort off the mound from Holtzman. Mike Epstein easily had his 2nd best year in The Show while Holtzman arguably had his best. Epstein finished 16th in MVP voting. Holtzman posted a career-best 2.51 ERA in 265 innings. His 16 complete games tied a career-high. Joe Horlen, who would later convert to Judaism, was also on the team. He was 3-4 with 1 save and a 3.00 ERA in 84 innings.

3. Lou Boudreau and Harry Eisenstat (1939-1942) - Eisenstat and Boudreau were teammates for 4 seasons on the Cleveland Indians. They were Boudreau's first 4 seasons and Eisenstat's last 4 seasons. Boudreau drove in 101 runs in 1940 and scored 97 runs. The following year he scored 95 runs. He had back-to-back seasons with 45 or more doubles, 8 or more triples, and 9 or more HRs. He finished 5th in MVP voting in 1940, 17th in 1941, and 10th in 1942. Eisenstat wasn't so bad himself. He had an ERA of 3.30 in 103 innings in 1939. In 1940, it was 3.14 in 71 innings. And in 1942, it was 2.45 (a career-low) in 47 innings. All told, he was 10-13 with 10 saves and a 3.22 ERA in 257 innings.

4. Hank Greenberg and Harry Eisenstat (1938) - Long before Roger Maris came along to challenge Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, Greenberg made his own historic run at it. In 1938, he hit an astounding 58 HRs. In addition, his .438 OBP, .683 SLG, and 1.121 OPS were all career-highs. He finished 3rd in MVP voting. Eisenstat's stats pale in comparison, but 1938 was arguably his best season. He was 9-6 with 4 saves and had a 3.73 ERA in 125 innings. His 5 complete games tied a career-high.
5. Kevin Youkilis and Gabe Kapler (2004-2006) - Red Sox Nation will forever be grateful for the World Series these two helped bring to Beantown in 2004 after an epic 86-year drought. Not a bad way for the rookie Youkilis to introduce and ingratiate himself with Red Sox fans. In 498 combined ABs, Youkilis and Kapler hit .267 with a .337 OBP and a .400 SLG, had 13 HRs, 25 doubles, drove in 68 runs, and scored 89 runs. A solid contribution to a team of destiny. Additionally, the 2006 squad boasted 4 Jews on its roster: Youkilis, Kapler, Adam Stern, and Craig Breslow. Thank you, Theo.

6. Harry Danning and Harry Feldman (1941-1942)
- This pairing is pretty neat. Danning and Feldman formed the first ever Jewish battery. It came at the twilight of Danning's career and the start of Feldman's. Danning hit .261 with 8 HRs, 42 doubles, 8 triples, drove in 90 runs, and scored 103 runs in the 2 seasons he played with Feldman on the New York Giants. Meanwhile, Feldman was 8-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 134 innings. What's more, Morrie Arnovich was also on the team in '41. He was fairly productive, hitting .280 with a .352 OBP and a .377 SLG, had 2 HRs, 8 doubles, 3 triples, drove in 22 runs, and scored 25 runs in just 207 ABs.

7. Ryan Braun and Gabe Kapler (2008) -
Were both instrumental in getting the Brewers into the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. Braun was especially important to the cause, but Kapler's rejuvenation and veteran leadership had to be a lift for the young ballclub. Braun finished 3rd in MVP voting and won Silver Sluggers while Kapler had his best season since 2001.

8. Saul Rogovin and Marv Rotblatt (1951)
- White Sox teams from the 50's and 60's frequently had good pitching. For 1 year, Rogovin and Rotblatt were part of that good pitching. Rogovin was insanely good in 1951. With the White Sox, he was 11-7 with a 2.48 ERA in 192 innings. Overall that year, he was 12-8 with a 2.78 ERA in 216 innings. It was, by far, Rogovin's best season in The Bigs. Not to be outdone (though he was), Rotblatt also had his best season in The Bigs, going 4-2 with 2 saves and had a 3.40 ERA in 47 innings.

9. Bo Belinsky and Barry Latman (1964) - These Angels were hell-bent on getting opposing hitters out. Belinsky delivered on the promise he showed as a rookie in 1962. He was 9-8 with a 2.86 ERA (a career-best) in 135 innings. Latman, as a swingman, was 6-10 with 2 saves and a 3.85 ERA in 138 innings. Combined, they were 15-18 with a 3.36 ERA in 273 innings.

10. Phil Weintraub and Harry Feldman (1944-1945) - Weintraub came back from the war in 1944 without missing a beat. In the 2 seasons that he played with Feldman on the New York Giants, he hit .297 with a .402 OBP and a .477 SLG, had 23 HRs, 27 doubles, 10 triples, drove in 119 runs, and scored 100 runs in 644 total ABs. In 1944, he set career highs in just about every statistical category. Feldman was equally impressive. He was a work horse, pitching 2 consecutive years with 200 or more innings. In 423 combined innings, Feldman was 23-26 with a 3.70 ERA. In 1945, he set career highs in innings pitched (217) and wins (12). Mike Schemer was also on the team in '45. In 108 ABs, he hit .333 with a .368 OBP and a .407 SLG, had 1 HR, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 10 RBIs, and 10 runs scored.

11. Al Rosen and Lou Boudreau (1948-1950) - This one is a little unusual. Boudreau's best season was in 1948; he was MVP. He hit .355 with a .453 OBP and a .534 SLG, had 18 HRs, 34 doubles, 6 triples, 106 RBIs, and 116 runs scored. All but doubles and triples were career-highs. Rosen didn't do anything in '48 and '49, largely because he got a grand total of 49 ABs. Technically, they won a World Series together in '48, but Rosen could have been a bat boy for all the good he did. Now, 1950 was a different story. For both players, as it turned out. Rosen broke out in a big way in '50. He hit .287 with a .405 OBP and a .543 SLG, had 37 HRs, 23 doubles, 4 triples, 116 RBIs, and 100 runs scored. He finished 17th in MVP voting. In what was to be Boudreau's last season with the Indians (as both a player and a manager), he hit .269 with a .349 OBP and a .346 SLG, had 1 HR, 13 doubles, 2 triples, 29 RBIs, and 23 runs scored in 260 ABs.

12. Al Levine and Scott Schoeneweis (1999-2002) - These two journeymen won a World Series together in 2002 with the Angels. Levine's best years were with Anaheim. Schoeneweis' numbers won't blow you away, but to his credit he did pitch 2 scoreless innings in the World Series.

13. Gabe Kapler and Brad Ausmus (1999) - Kapler makes his 3rd appearance on the list because of his pairing with Ausmus on the Tigers. It was Kapler's rookie year, and it was a decent one. He hit .245 with a .315 OBP and a .447 SLG, had 18 HRs (a career-high), 22 doubles, 4 triples (tying a career-high), stole 11 bases, drove in 49 runs, and scored 60 runs. Ausmus indisputably had his best offensive year, hitting .275 with a .365 OBP (a career-high) and a .415 SLG (a career-high), had 9 HRs (a career-high), 25 doubles (tying a career-best), 6 triples (a career-high), stole 12 bases, drove in 54 runs (a career-high), and scored 62 runs. He was voted an all-star and as usual was excellent behind the plate.

14. Phil Weintraub and Morrie Arnovich (1938) - Before Weintraub and Arnovich went off to fight in the war, they had a brief stint together on the Philadelphia Phillies. Arnovich set career highs in RBIs (72) and doubles (29) while Weintraub set career highs in doubles (23) and OBP (.422). He hit .311 in 351 ABs.

15. Sid Gordon and Goody Rosen (1946) - The 1946 New York Giants had 5 Jews on its roster, the most ever by an MLB team. The 1946 season also marked the end of Goody Rosen's career and the beginning of Sid Gordon's. Rosen finished strong, hitting .281 with a .377 OBP and a .390 SLG, had 5 HRs, 11 doubles, 4 triples, 30 RBIs, and 39 runs scored in 310 ABs. Gordon hadn't quite found his stroke yet, but he was still pretty good. He hit .293 with a .380 OBP and a .378 SLG, had 5 HRs, 15 doubles, 4 triples, 45 RBIs, and scored 64 runs in 450 ABs.

Honorable Mentions:
Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman (2006-?)
Shawn Green and Scott Schoeneweis (2007)
Shawn Green and Mike Koplove (2005-2006)
Mike Lieberthal and Ruben Amaro Jr. (1996-1998)
Steve Stone and Ross Baumgarten/Ron Blomberg (1978)
Mike Epstein and Richie Scheinblum (1973)
Bo Belinsky and Barry Latman/Larry Sherry (1967)
Cal Abrams and Saul Rogovin (1955)
Al Rosen and Joe Ginsberg (1953-1954)
Sid Gordon and Harry Feldman (1943)
Goody Rosen and Fred Sington (1939)
Goody Rosen and Fred Sington/Sam Nahem (1938)
Goody Rosen and Harry Eisenstat (1937)
Buddy Myer and Fred Sington/Syd Cohen (1934-1937)
Buddy Myer and Moe Berg (1932)

Granted, this list is definitely on the subjective side, but the first two seemed like no-brainers to me.

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