Bill “Moose” Skowron, a six-time All-Star first baseman who starred for the Yankees from 1954-1962, passed away today at age 81 after a long battle with lung cancer.
Skowron hit .292 with 165 homers and an .842 OPS in 1,087 games spread over nine seasons for the Yankees before being traded to the Dodgers for Stan Williams in November of 1962.
He played another five seasons for the Dodgers, White Sox, Senators, and Angels, but hit just .257 with a .686 OPS in 571 games after leaving the Yankees.
Skowron also experienced a lot of postseason success, batting .293 with eight homers and an .845 OPS in 39 playoff games, including a long ball against his old teammates as the Dodgers swept the Yankees in the 1963 World Series.
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.