Brian Bohanon – 1992 Topps

December 29, 2010

In Another Life, He Could Have Been Les Sweetland

The Phillies were horrific for many stretches, but the late 1920’s and early 1930’s were most foul, mainly because they couldn’t get anyone out, at all.

Les Sweetland was one of the culprits. The journeyman lefty had one decent year and four rotten ones. In 1930, the Phils were 52-102, drew only 299,000 at the Baker Bowl, gave up 1,199 runs, and didn’t have a regular hit under .280.

The offense was so prevalent in the NL in 1930, and the Baker Bowl park factor so high, that Phil Collins (no, not the balding skin slammer who later became creator of pop songs most foul) had a 4.78 ERA and his ERA+ was 114. That year, Sweetland was 7-15 with a 7.71 ERA and gave up 271 hits in 167 innings.

The 1999 version of Brian Bohanon was 12-12 with a 6.20 ERA for Colorado. His ERA+ was only 94.

Bohanon eked out a 12-year career as a lefty swingman because he was willing to take the ball. He usually played for bad teams, he didn’t pitch very well anywhere except for the Mets and the Dodgers in 1997-98, and his usual modus operandi was give up lots of hits and walk about four batters per nine.

Had there been 28-30 teams in MLB in 1930, Sweetland probably could have lasted more than 5 seasons.

It was also lucrative for Bohanon to have those two good seasons. He cashed in, signing a $9.1 million 3-year contract with Colorado. And honestly, no one really should have expected an under 4.50 ERA in the pre-humidor days.

Sweetland’s Phils, by drawing so poorly, were reduced to paying their players as little as possible. Even cranks who liked offense were probably turned off by 14-9 and 13-6 games on a regular basis.

July 23-26, the Phils lost four at home by scores of 16-15 (in 13), 19-15, 9-5, and 16-2. That 16-15 game was the second in a doubleheader. (The first game was a 2-1 loss – tough break for Snipe Hansen in a 0-7 season).

The Rockies weren’t THAT bad, but runs were scored by the bunches. Of any time to have a 12-man staff, it was pre-humidor Colorado.

But now, Coors Field is calmed down a bit, and pitchers like Bohanon are left to cursing their bad timing, much like Sweetland and company when the Baker Bowl finally bought the farm.

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