Wednesday, October 4, 2017

#140 -- Pat Dobson

Pat Dobson

I guess Pat Dobson will always be known as one of Baltimore's 4 20 game winners in 1971.  You have to go back to 2012 to find the last time there were 4 20 game winners in all of MLB....and it ain't happening in 2017, either.

Pat Dobson is also known as being the least of the 20 game aces.  On one level, when the other 3 are HOFer Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar, that's understandable.  While he was an above-average pitcher, there was nothing that screamed out that he was going to break through as a 29 year old and win 20.

Pat started in the Tigers system and worked his way up to the big leagues as a reliever in 1967 and then got 10 starts for the 1968 World Champs.  He was solid with a 2.66 ERA (although his FIP was almost a run higher....Tigers were a good defensive team).  He led the team with 7 saves.

He continued as a swingman in 1969, but got hit harder.  After the season he was traded to the Padres for......Joe Niekro.  He was a starter with the lowly Padres in 1970.  He was the ace of the staff, going 14-15, which is pretty good for a team that lost 99 games and was 13 games out of 5th.

The Padres traded him after that year.  They got back Enzo Hernandez and Tom Phoebus.  Dobson ended up having significantly more wins that Enzo's 12 RBI in over 500 at bats. (Note:  Dobson had 4 RBI in 97 ABs in 1971, so he was far behind Enzo as a hitter.)  Dobson took over in the rotation and had a year.  He had to win his last 3 starts to get to 20 wins.  This Orioles team was as dominant, with 103 wins, as the Padres were hapless the year before.  It must have felt like Christmas when Pat found out he was going to the World Champs.

Dobson lacked consistency year to year.  His first year in Baltimore was outstanding.  After that, his he couldn't maintain consistency. In 1972 he made an All-Star team despite going 16-18.  He lost 6 of his last 7 decisions and was out of the starting rotation by the end of the year. After the year, he was traded to Atlanta.

A return to the NL wasn't good for him. After getting shelled in 10 starts, he was traded to the Yankees for Frank Tepedino and Wayne Nordhagen. (Side note:  Has any ballplayer looked more Brooklyn than Brooklyn's own Frank Tepedino?  He could've played Vinny Barbarino's cool uncle on Welcome Back, Kotter.) 

Going back to the AL was a tonic for Pat Dobson.  He went 9-8 the rest of the way for the Yankees and was back to form, going 19-15 for the 1974 Shea Stadium Yankees.  He was down in 1973 & got traded to the Indians for Oscar Gamble. (Another side note:  Seems in the 70s that the Indians replaced the KC A's as the Yankees top farm club and trading partner of choice.)

Pat had a good year for the 1976 Indians as they were over .500 under Frank Robinson for the 1st time since 1968. Alas, in 1977 Pat went 3-12 as a 35 year old and, even though he made the 1978 Opening Day Indians roster, he was released before making an appearance.

Pat hung around as a pitching coach. Later, he was a scout and special assistant to Brian Sabean for the Giants.  It's said he had a lot of influence with Sabean on his evaluation of pitchers and suggested he hire Bruce Bochy on October 27, 2006.  Sadly, Pat was diagnosed with leukemia a couple of weeks later and died within a month.

Dobson was one of those baseball lifers that had some big highs and disappointments.  His contemporaries will remember him as a good pitcher and a practical joker.  Most fans will remember him as one of the Orioles' 4-20 game winners in 1971.

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