Schechter: The forgotten near-miss of the 1964 Cincinnati Reds

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on August 25, 2017:

Entire books have been written about the collapse of the Philadelphia Phillies in the final two weeks of the National League’s 1964 pennant race and the St. Louis Cardinals’ win, but lost in the crossfire of tragedy and triumph is the team that was in first place with just five games left—the Cincinnati Reds.

That year’s edition of the Reds was an anomaly for the franchise, a so-so offense anchored by a solid pitching staff that allowed the fewest runs in the league. The lineup was still anchored by Frank Robinson and Vada Pinson, but newcomers Pete Rose, Tommy Harper, and Deron Johnson were a season away from stardom. The 1965 squad scored 825 runs after a modest 660 in 1964, barely over four runs a game but enough to outscore their opposition by nearly 100 runs.

The core of the Reds’ rotation from the 1961 pennant winners—Jim O’Toole, Joey Jay, and Bob Purkey—remained intact. Jim Maloney had matured into a formidable force, reaching double figures in strikeouts nine times in 1964. All four won in double figures, led by southpaw O’Toole’s 17–7 record and 2.66 ERA.

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Originally published: August 25, 2017. Last Updated: August 25, 2017.