The 1975 World Series
might have been the greatest World Series ever. And Game 6 might have been the greatest game of that or, perhaps, any World Series.
Through five games, the Cincinnati Reds
led the Boston Red Sox
3 games to 2. To that point, 3 of the 5 games had been decided by one run, including a 10-inning Game 3. The Reds were 2-1 in the one-run games with the Reds and Red Sox trading blowout wins (Boston won Game 1, 6-0; Cincinnati won Game 5, 6-2).
Both of the Red Sox wins in the series had been complete game victories by Luis Tiant
. Game 6 was postponed for three days because of rain, which allowed the Red Sox to bring Tiant back to try for his third win to help the Red Sox stave off elimination. The Reds countered with Gary Nolan
who had won 15 regular-season games and started Game 3 (which the Reds, but not Nolan, won).
The Game Itself, as it unfolded in real-time
Red Sox Strike First
worked around a one-out walk and got out of the top of the first inning without allowing a run.
In the bottom of the first, Gary Nolan
retired the first two Red Sox, but then gave up back-to-back singles to Carl Yastrzemski
and Carlton Fisk
. Fred Lynn
followed with a 3-run home run and the Red Sox were in business with a 3-0 lead.
For the next three innings, it looked like Lynn's home run might be all of the offense the Red Sox would need. Luis Tiant
continued his brilliant postseason
. The Reds managed three baserunners over the next three innings - two singles and an E6 - which Tiant worked around fairly easily with three strikeouts and two infield foul outs.
The Red Sox offense also failed to score, despite putting runners on second and third with only one out in both the third and fourth innings.
And so, the game moved to the fifth inning with the Red Sox leading 3-0.
The Reds Strike Back
led off the top of the fifth inning by flying out to right field. But pinch hitter Ed Armbrister
drew a walk and Pete Rose
singled to center (Armbrister moving to third on the play) and the Reds looked to have their best scoring opportunity of the game so far.
They didn't waste it. Ken Griffey
tripled, scoring two runs and one out later, Johnny Bench
singled home Griffey.
struck out Tony Perez
to end the inning and the threat. But not before the Reds had tied the score, 3-3.
, the Reds' fourth pitcher of the game (a good example of how Reds manager, Sparky Anderson, earned the nickname "Captain Hook"), gave up a leadoff single to Carl Yastrzemsi
to lead off the bottom of the fifth, but followed that up with three quick outs.
The Reds got two two-out singles - from Geronimo
and Terry Crowley
- but Pete Rose
grounded into an inning-ending force play.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Pedro Borbon
(the Reds' fifth pitcher of the game) retired the Red Sox 1-2-3.
The Reds Pour It On
The game entered the seventh inning still tied 3-3. While the Reds were on their fifth pitcher of the game, the Red Sox were sticking with their starter, Luis Tiant
. The Reds started the seventh with back-to-back singles by Ken Griffey
and Joe Morgan
. But Tiant got Johnny Bench
and Tony Perez
to fly out and it looked like he might still get out of it.
Alas, it was not quite to be. George Foster
stroked a double to center field, scoring both Griffey and Morgan, and the Reds had their first lead of the game, 5-3. Tiant did get Dave Concepcion
to ground out to end the inning.
worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh.
led off the top of the 8th inning with a home run to right field to give the Reds a 6-3 lead and finally prompt Darrell Johnson to pull Tiant. Rogelio Moret
retired the first three batters he faced, but the Reds led by three runs and were only six outs away from the franchise's first World Championship since 1940.
Four Outs Away
In the bottom of the 8th inning, the Red Sox started off well. Fred Lynn
led things off with a single and Rico Petrocelli
followed with a walk. That brought out Sparky Anderson, who brought in his sixth pitcher of the game, Rawley Eastwick
Eastwick had led the Reds in games finished (40) and saves (22) in 1975 and was one of four Reds relievers to pitch over 90 innings in 1975 (although Clay Carroll
did start 2 of his 56 games in amassing 96.1 IP). Relief roles were not always as well defined in 1975 as they are today, but, essentially, Sparky Anderson was calling on his closer to close out the World Series for him.
Eastwick started strong. He struck out Dwight Evans
swinging and got Rick Burleson
on a soft liner to short left field.
The Red Sox were down to their final out in the 8th inning and four outs away from losing the World Series. The pitcher's spot was due up next and the Red Sox sent up reserve outfielder Bernie Carbo
to pinch hit.
This was Bernie Carbo's second World Series. His first had come five years earlier
as a member of the Cincinnati Reds
. Carbo had gone 0-for-8 in that series as the Reds lost in five games to the Baltimore Orioles
. This would be only Carbo's third plate appearance of the 1975 World Series, although he had gotten his first World Series hit three games earlier with a pinch-hit solo home run in the 7th inning of Game 3 (which the Red Sox lost 6-5 in 10 innings).
Carbo had hit well in the 1975 regular season, batting .257/.409/.483 with 15 home runs in 407 plate appearances, but he had gone only 2-for-12 as a regular-season pinch hitter with 1 double, 1 walk, and two RBIs (a batting line of .167/.231/.250). Carbo's pinch-hit home run in Game 3 had been his first pinch-hit home run of the season in his 15th pinch-hit plate appearance.
His second pinch-hit home run came in his 16th pinch-hit plate appearance as Carbo put a 2-2 pitch from Eastwick over the center field fence. Lynn and Petrocelli scored in front of him and suddenly the score was tied 6-6.
struck out to end the 8th inning, but it was too late for Eastwick and the Reds. The damage was done and the score was tied, 6-6.
Even the most exciting baseball games have periods where it seems as if nothing happens. But that's part of baseball's charm. You get a chance to catch your breath and savor what just happened, while the anticipation grows, knowing that something exciting could be just around the corner.
And what seems like a lull in retrospect may not feel like a lull at the time. It's one thing to look back at a box score and see that neither the Reds nor Red Sox scored any runs in the 9th, 10th, or 11th innings.
But that misses the fact that the Red Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth inning before Denny Doyle was thrown out at home plate
by George Foster
(supposedly, Doyle misheard the third base coach's "No, no, no!" shout as "Go, go, go!").
Even looking at the play-by-play can make the game seem less dramatic than it was when you were there. The play-by-play merely shows one out and a runner on first base in the top of the 11th when Joe Morgan
flied out to Dwight Evans
. What the simple words-on-paper miss is that the ball would have been a 2-run home run
if Evans hadn't caught it.
All of which is to say, there really aren't any boring moments in extra innings of a potential elimination game in the World Series.
led off the top of the 12th inning by fouling out to the catcher. But Tony Perez
and George Foster
followed with singles to give the Reds their best scoring chance since at least the 10th inning. But Rick Wise
settled down and got Dave Concepcion
on a fly ball to right field. Cesar Geronimo
then struck out swinging and the game moved on to the bottom of the 12th inning, still tied at 6.
led off the bottom of the 12th inning for the Red Sox. The first pitch was a ball. On the second pitch, this happened
The Red Sox lived to fight another day.
Final Score: Red Sox, 7; Reds, 6
Player Wins and Losses for Game 6
The table below summarizes how Player wins and losses were assigned for this game. The first three columns show pWins
, pLosses, and net pWins (pWins minus pLosses). The middle column shows WPA
as calculated by Baseball-Reference.com
. The final three columns show eWins
, eLosses, and net eWins, which are context-neutral
Player Won-Lost Records by Player: Summary
Technical Interlude: Tracking Player Won-Lost Records Play by Play
I explain how I calculate Player won-lost records in some detail in a lengthy article elsewhere on this site
. The core of the Player won-lost calculations is win probability
. For every play of a game, I calculate the change in win probability for the teams playing and assign it to the appropriate players. I also calculate what the average change in win probability for the play would have been across all possible contexts: i.e., in the latter case, all line drive singles to left field are worth the same number of batting wins and all ground outs to the third baseman are worth the same number of batting losses.
The in-context numbers that come out of this step are similar to, but not exactly the same as, the concept of WPA
(Win Probability Advancements). One important difference between most implementations of WPA and my work is that most WPA metrics assign all credit and blame to batters and pitchers while I apportion wins and losses to baserunners
The more important difference between WPA and pWins, however, is that I make a final adjustment at the end of the game based on which team won
and which team lost
. This is necessary to (a) tie player wins and losses back to team wins and losses, and (b) treat all games as equally valuable (which is not to say that Game 6 of the World Series is not more valuable than, say, game 51 of the regular season, but that's because it was an elimination game in the World Series, not because it lasted 12 innings - especially since, in fact, the Red Sox 51st regular-season game in 1975 lasted 14 innings
I discuss all of this in more detail here
. I compare pWins to WPA in more detail here
1975 World Series Game 6: Stars and Goats
Boston Red Sox
The iconic image
of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is Carlton Fisk urging his long fly ball to stay fair in the bottom of the 12th inning.
As measured by win probability
, however, the most important moment of the game had actually happened four innings earlier when Bernie Carbo
had hit a two-out, three-run, game-tying home run.
If Carbo had made an out instead of hitting his home run, the Red Sox would have trailed 6-3 at the end of 8 innings. If Fisk had made an out leading off the 12th inning, though, the game would have still been tied, 6-6, and the Red Sox would still be up to bat (albeit with one out and the bases empty).
Interestingly, as measured by Baseball-Reference
, the top player in WPA for this game was actually neither Fisk nor Carbo, but was Red Sox reliever Dick Drago
who pitched three shutout innings between Carbo's and Fisk's home runs.
Player won-lost records agree that Drago, Carbo, and Fisk were the top three players (in terms of net pWins
) for the Red Sox. But Drago fairs somewhat less well in terms of pWins. This is because WPA gives full defensive credit to pitchers, while pitchers share pWins (and pLosses) with fielders. For example, WPA gives Drago credit for the fly-ball double play that ended the top of the 11th inning. Player won-lost records, however, (correctly) give much of the credit for that play
to Dwight Evans
Two other Red Sox players look considerably better in net pWins than WPA, Fred Lynn
and Luis Tiant
I think that Fred Lynn is a nice example of how pWins are a better measure of player value than WPA (in my opinion). Lynn hit a 3-run home run in the first inning to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. WPA tends to value late-inning situations more highly than early-inning situations (in close games) while pWins (more accurately) recognize the importance of early-inning situations
. Lynn also led off the bottom of the 8th inning with a single, which set up Carbo's game-tying home run. Again, I think pWins do a better job of giving Lynn (and Rico Petrocelli
) credit for creating the situation which enabled Carbo to tie the game. Finally, WPA assigns credit entirely to batters and pitchers. In the bottom of the ninth inning, with the bases loaded, Lynn flew out to George Foster
in left field, who threw Denny Doyle
out at the plate. Lynn is given the negative WPA from that out at the plate; pWins (correctly) lays the blame for that out on Doyle.
As for Tiant, pWins give him more credit for the four shutout innings he started with than WPA does. Tiant also benefits, retroactively, from the Red Sox comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning which, admittedly, happened after Tiant had already left the game.
According to Baseball-Reference
, the top 3 Reds in WPA were Will McEnany
, Ken Griffey
, and George Foster
McEnany came in to pitch with no outs and runners on 1st and 2nd in the bottom of the ninth inning. After intentionally walking Carlton Fisk
, he got Fred Lynn
to fly out. That play turned into a double play when George Foster
threw out Denny Doyle
out at the plate. WPA gives McEnany credit for this double play; Player won-lost records give the credit for the second out to Foster. The latter of these seems more correct to me.
definitely had a strong game. He went 2-for-5 with a 2-run triple to pull the Reds to within 3-2 in the 5th inning before scoring the tying run later that inning. Griffey later singled leading off the 7th inning and scored the go-ahead run on a George Foster
double. Griffey's net pWins are hurt, however, by the fact that he was the baserunner who was doubled off of first base by Dwight Evans
to end the top of the 11th inning.
gets WPA props for his two-out, two-run double in the seventh inning that broke a 3-3 tie. He gets additional credit in pWins for throwing Denny Doyle
out at home for the second out in the bottom of the ninth inning. Thanks in no small part to the latter of those plays, George Foster led the Reds in pWins and net pWins for this game.
On the other side of the ledger, the player with the most pLosses and fewest net pWins for the Reds was relief pitcher Rawley Eastwick
, who gave up Bernie Carbo's
3-run, game-tying, 8th-inning home run. The next two Reds in pLosses and negative net pWins were the other two pitchers to give up Red Sox home runs: Gary Nolan
(3-run 1st-inning HR by Lynn
, overall line of 3 runs on 3 hits in 2 innings pitched); and Pat Darcy
, who gave up the game-ending home run by Fisk
but pitched 1-2-3 innings in the 10th and 11th innings before that.
The lowest-ranked non-pitcher for the Reds in Game 6 is perhaps there unfairly. The biggest negative play in which Joe Morgan
was involved was when he hit into a double play to end the top of the 11th inning. That double play came about, however, because Dwight Evans reached over the right field fence
to bring back a home run and then proceeded to double Ken Griffey
off of first base - Griffey having (quite reasonably) expected the ball to be over Evans's head and land for an extra-base hit. If Evans had been a half-step slower, Joe Morgan might well have had a game-winning two-run home run. But Evans was not
a half-step slower, and the top of the 11th inning ended on Morgan's at bat. Fair? Maybe not. An accurate reflection of the value of what actually happened? Yeah, pretty much.
And we don't have to feel too bad for Little Joe: while his net pWins took a hit in Game 6, he made up for it by driving in the winning runs for the Reds in Games 3
And there you have what might have been the most exciting World Series game ever, as measured by Player won-lost records.
All articles are written so that they pull data directly from the most recent version of the Player won-lost database. Hence, any numbers cited within these articles should automatically incorporate the most recent update to Player won-lost records. In some cases, however, the accompanying text may have been written based on previous versions of Player won-lost records. I apologize if this results in non-sensical text in any cases.
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