SI Vault
 
Midseason report
Robert Creamer
July 14, 1958
A quick rundown at halftime of the year's achievements and disappointments, team by team
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
July 14, 1958

Midseason Report

A quick rundown at halftime of the year's achievements and disappointments, team by team

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
 

PREDICTED FINISH

CURRENT STANDING

RUNS SCORED TO MIDYEAR

RUNS ALLOWED TO MIDYEAR

ATTENDANCE TO DATE OVER LAST YEAR

 

1957

1958

1957

1958

 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

New York

1

1

359

353

257

238

-29,765

Kansas City

7

2 (tie)

295

330

345

351

-63,108

Boston

4

2 (tie)

379

354

312

343

-83,806

Detroit

3

4

275

307

298

290

+53,312

Cleveland

5

5

322

345

362

344

-42,874

Chicago

2

6

316

300

265

311

-123,334

Baltimore

6

7

309

240

282

265

-101,566

Washington

8

8

298

302

432

389

+63,394

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Milwaukee

1

1

356

314

291

279

-63,471

San Francisco

6

2

331

387

378

347

+240,656

St. Louis

3

3

353

305

324

323

+9,100

Philadelphia

5

4

309

305

314

341

-120,000

Chicago

8

5

326

381

385

346

+17,859

Cincinnati

4

6

369

338

341

313

-93,010

Pittsburgh

7

7

289

324

354

336

+160,237

Los Angeles

2

8

324

326

270

395

+550,427

YANKEES
Despite sub-par hitting (though Yankee hitting can be sub-par without being weak), New Yorkers trotted off to huge early lead, opened it to 11 games at midseason. They did this on superb pitching by Turley, Ford, Larsen (combined record: 29-8), though highly effective and totally unanticipated aid from speedball Relief Pitcher Ryne Duren, whose 1.38 ERA is lowest in league, was—for other teams, at any rate—the crusher. Yankee Stadium attendance was down (see box) despite great performance, because crowds are attracted by: 1) competition, and Yanks had no competitors; 2) heroes, and Yankee heroes of the big bat (Mantle, Berra, et al.) were doing nothing to get excited about. At halfway point unsung Yanks like Siebern and Bauer were beginning to rip ball; all signs pointed to a last-half hitting surge and the easiest Yankee pennant since Joe McCarthy's 1941 team won by 17 games.

ATHLETICS
Adroit trading over past couple of years by General Manager Parke Carroll (41 players were involved in his big, publicized deals with Yanks, Tigers, Indians) produced an unspectacular team (only the powerful home-run hitter Bob Cerv is a real star) but a nicely balanced one whose midseason record is nine full games better than last year's (38-37 over 29-46). This new balance rests on Cerv's slugging, tighter defense, able pitching by oldsters Murry Dickson (6-3) and Ned Garver (8-5) and Harry Craft's sound managerial hand on the helm.

RED SOX
Sox are in usual position: first division but well behind Yankees. Bad fielding has aggravated weak pitching and both nullify Red Sox hitting. Despite spring slumps by Williams and Malzone, Boston leads league in runs scored, has four topflight run producers in these two, plus Jensen, Gernert. If defense (134 runs worse than the Yankees) improves, Sox should finish second. But...onetime Yankee-killer Nixon is 1-7, key starter Brewer 3-7. Ike Delock (7-0, one of best ERAs in league) has been drafted from bullpen to start.

TIGERS
When perennial disappointments sank into cellar in June, uneasy front office fired Manager Jack Tighe, hired Bill Norman. Team won nine of first 11 games for Norman, including a delightful six straight from Yankees. Attendance soared, all problems seemed solved. But after that initial surge, club subsided into familiar .500 pattern, lost all but one game of ground on Yanks. Midseason's 37-37 was match for last year's 38-39. Main fault: Tigers, first in team batting average but fifth in runs scored, still lack clutch hitters.

INDIANS
Herb Score, a decent fellow, has nonetheless been responsible for two Cleveland managers being fired inside a year. His terrible eye injury last season sidelined him, left him with 2-1 record that was no help to Indians or Kerby Farrell. This season he strained elbow on April 30, hasn't pitched since. His 2-2 mark has been no help to Indians or Bobby Bragan. Farrell and Bragan were fired, Joe Gordon now manages, Frank Lane has turned over two-thirds of the team (only eight men remain from last year's roster), and Indians still languish in second division. If they had a healthy Score all season and a healthy Vic Wertz (over 100 RBIs two years running, then a broken ankle in spring training) and if Larry Doby had got over his miseries earlier, Indians would probably be second, with Bragan in line for Manager of the Year.

WHITE SOX
Flop of year, Chicago's 36-39 record is 10½ games off 47-29 of year ago, when Sox were a good second, only three games behind Yanks. Sox took an all-out gamble on pitching in hopes of catching Yanks, but gamble looks bad. This lightly powered, fleet-footed team was not expected to score a great deal, but management certainly expected more runs than they've received thus far. And the sterling-silver pitching is sadly tarnished. Donovan, whose 16-6 was best in league last year, is 3-10, and big five (Donovan, Pierce, Wynn, Wilson, Moore) has combined record of 31-30 (Yank big three is 29-8). Manager Al Lopez, a percentage man, started big five in 70 of 75 games, waits patiently for pendulum, which insists this is great staff, to swing in his favor. Team is terribly inconsistent: slump two weeks, spurt one, fiddle around .500 another two.

ORIOLES
Except for one agonizing eight-game losing streak in May, Orioles have played sound and consistent .500 ball, which is all they really aspired to this season. Aside from that eight-gamer, longest winning and losing streaks have halted at three. Airtight pitching and fielding explain steadiness; awful hitting (way last in averages, extra-base hits, runs scored) is reason club doesn't go higher. RBI-man Bob Nieman is injured. Al Pilarcik, limping along at .239 with just 12 runs batted in, is grave disappointment.

SENATORS
Things seemed to be working out well for the Senators this year—the tiniest rookie, Albie Pearson, came through in acceptable fashion in center field; Bridges and Plews provided surprisingly good hitting; Sievers and Lemon hit home runs steadily—but in June the truth caught up. Washington lost 18 of 23 games coming to midseason and plummeted out of the seven-team, tie-up chasing the Yankees. Pitching was to blame. Never really good, it declined from mediocrity to chaos; rivals won by scores like 10-1, 10-2, 9-2, 12-11, 10-5, 11-3, 13-2.

BRAVES
Braves have been stumbling along in National League pennant race, yet came to the halfway point in first place. On May 17 team had 17-8 record, half-game lead. Next six weeks saw dawdling 22-20 pace, but lead opened to 3½. Then came July drought when Braves, scoring average of less than one run per game, lost five in row and just barely kept grasp on first place. But, everyone says, if team can hold onto lead playing like that, they'll run away with pennant once they straighten out. Trouble is, maybe they can't. Injuries hit Bruton, Covington, Buhl, Schoendienst. Outfield is thin (at one point Infielders Adcock, Mantilla, Hanebrink comprised starting trio). Aaron and Mathews hit occasional game-winning homers, but over-all are disappointing. Secondary pitching, McMahon, Jay, Willey, Johnson, Robinson, has been bulwark of team.

GIANTS
Marvelous run-producing team, Giants lead league in hits, runs, RBIs, stolen bases, are at or near top in doubles, triples and home runs. But wonderful early surge—sparked by grand-looking rookies (Cepeda, Davenport, Schmidt, Kirkland), rejuvenated veterans (Spencer, O'Connell, Sauer, Jablonski), and the hot-and-cold Willie Mays—has ground to halt. Club hit peak May 25, day of great fight in Pittsburgh. Then 26-13, first by 2½ games, Giants skidded to 15-23 gait, held second one game out only because of pedestrian pace of Braves. Erratic pitching (Gomez hasn't won since the fight) hurts.

Continue Story
1 2