Last year I ran a tournament of the greatest teams in MLB history. The '95 Cleveland Indians prevailed with a win in the finals over the '39 New York Yankees. I quite liked that tournament, and with the College World Series nearly upon us I'd like to try it again. The format is fairly simple. The 64 team field is divided into 16 four-team brackets. Each bracket is double-elimination. The 16 winners advance to Super Regionals, which are best-of-three affairs. The eight winners advance to the College World Series, but we'll have a different name for that.
I don't have the full brackets worked out, but here are the groupings I've worked out so far. We're taking the Regionals at face value this time, and trying to group teams mainly by geography.
BRONX Regional: '98 Yankees, '61 Yankees, '12 Giants, '54 Giants.
BROOKLYN Regional: '41 Dodgers, '55 Dodgers, '27 Yankees, '77 Yankees
QUEENS Regional: '69 Mets, '86 Mets, '39 Yankees, '53 Yankees
BOSTON Regional: '12 Red Sox, '46 Red Sox, '67 Red Sox, 2004 Red Sox
PHILADELPHIA Regional: '50 Phillies, '80 Phillies, '29 Athletics, '11 Athletics
CHICAGO Regional: '06 Cubs, '84 Cubs, '19 White Sox, 2005 White Sox
LOS ANGELES Regional: '63 Dodgers, '78 Dodgers, 2002 Angels, '98 Padres
OAKLAND Regional: '74 Athletics, '88 Athletics, 2002 Athletics, 2003 Giants
ST. LOUIS Regional: '34 Cardinals, '42 Cardinals, '67 Cardinals, '82 Cardinals
CLEVELAND Regional: '95 Indians, '54 Indians, '75 Reds, '40 Reds
PITTSBURGH Regional: '09 Pirates, '79 Pirates, '70 Orioles, '24 Senators
DETROIT Regional: '68 Tigers, '84 Tigers, '92 Blue Jays, '94 Expos
KANSAS CITY Regional: '85 Royals, 2001 Mariners, '82 Brewers, '65 Twins
ATLANTA Regional: '98 Braves, '57 Braves, '48 Braves, '14 Braves
HOUSTON Regional: '98 Astros, '99 Rangers, 01 Diamondbacks, '95 Rockies
MIAMI Regional: '97 Marlins, '04 Devil Rays, '32 Yankees, 2004 Cardinals
As some of you may know, Major League Baseball has a system where teams can earn draft picks from other teams as compensation for lost free agents. Typically, teams trade impending free agents mid-season in order to get something in exchange for them rather to let them walk. Often however this results in a worse return than simply losing the player at the end of the season. In 2002 for example, the Chicago White Sox dealt Ray Durham to the Oakland A's in exchange for Jon Adkins. The same month, The Montreal Expos dealt Cliff Floyd to the Red Sox for Sun-Woo Kim and Seung Song. All concerned made the Majors but never distinguished themselves.
Now let's take a look at the draft compensation for 2005, and see what kind of return that process brings. I am expressing the results as if they were straight trades. I selected 2005 because I have the BA Almanac for that draft and it makes things much easier.
Arizona: Matt Torra and Micah Owings for Richie Sexson
Atlanta: Beau Jones and Jeff Lyman for Jaret Wright
Boston: Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie for Orlando Cabrera, Craig Hansen and Michael Bowden for Derek Lowe, Clay Buchholz and Jon Egan for Pedro Martinez
Chi Cubs: Mike Billek for Matt Clement
Cleveland: John Drennan and Jensen Lewis for Omar Vizquel
Colorado: Chaz Roe and Daniel Carte for Vinny Castilla
Florida: Aaron Thompson and Ryan Tucker for Armando Benitez, Jacob Marceaux and Sean West for Carl Pavano, Brett Hayes for Mike Redmond
Houston: Eli Iorg and Tommy Manzella for Carlos Beltran
LA Angels: Trevor Bell and Ryan Mount for Troy Percival
LA Dodgers: Luke Hochevar and Ivan DeJesus for Adrian Beltre (Hochevar did not sign)
Minnesota: Henry Sanchez and Paul Kelly for Corey Koskie, Brian Duensing for Christian Guzman, Drew Thompson for Henry Blanco
NY Yankees: J. Brent Cox for Orlando Hernandez, CJ Henry for Jon Lieber
Oakland: Travis Buck and Craig Italiano for Damian Miller
St. Louis: Colby Rasmus and Mark McCormick for Edgar Renteria, Tyler Herron and Josh Wilson for Mike Matheny
San Diego: Cesar Ramos and Nick Hundley for David Wells
Arizona, Atlanta, Boston came out ahead. Billek looks like a washout but Clement bombed too. Jury's out on Cleveland. Colorado came out well ahead, and Florida got three of their top ten prospects from that group. Houston got little. LA Angels came up ahead, at least until Percival unretires. Dodgers came out behind except on salaries. Jury is out on the Twins. I think Cox is a better bet than El Duque, but CJ Henry is awful. Travis Buck is a stud for Oakland. Colby Rasmus is a good prospect.
Overall, teams generally get fair value in return for their free agents. Keeping players around until they reach free agency is a reasonable move, provided you follow the terms required to get compensation back.
Portland Sea Dogs @ Reading Phillies
When it comes to minor league baseball, no park can beat FirstEnergy Park in Reading for pure ambiance. There's talk of replacing the park with a new downtown stadia, which would be a huge mistake in my opinion. The corporate name belies the park really. The park is over 50 years old now. Recent renovations make the park comfortable but it retains an old-time feel unlike modern parks. The concessions have a carnival-like atmosphere. There are seemingly dozens of options from standard fare to Rita's Italian Ice (no gelatis though).
Everything about the game is enthusiastic. The staff know better than to jam every single sound effect into spare space like in other minor league parks. There are plenty of in-game promotions to keep the crowd entertained. The park contains a pool beyond right field and there is the standard party deck beyond left field.
Pricing is right. Parking is free but can be a hassle. Paved spots were gone an hour before gametime, leaving the grass beyond the brick wall in left field. It is easy to get to at least, straight down Route 61 off Route 222.
If you have the chance, this is a park you should take a trip to see at some point.
Roger Clemens is apparently coming to Scranton on Monday. I'm going to Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday's games instead. I don't need to deal with the traffic.
Who were the best team in the history of the St. Louis Browns? Most fans would assume the 1944 club. That team won the only league championship in the club's history. A better choice however would be the 1922 club. Contrary to what you might think, the Browns were not always non-contenders. In 1922, the Browns finished 93-61, a scant game behind the champion New York Yankees. The Yankees that season traded for Joe Dugan mid-season. That trade, coupled with the NY Giants' midseason trade for Hugh McQuillan, prompted protests that New York teams could buy their way to a pennant. Some things never change.
In addition to holding a better record, the 1922 team played in a tougher league than the '44 club. The 1944 Browns benefitted from World War II, which depleted Major League rosters. Not many fans would recognize Stan Spence, Nick Ettel or Johnny Lindell. Those players finished third, fourth and fifth in OPS in the AL. The leaders in OPS in 1922, by comparison, included Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, George Sisler, Cy Williams and Harry Heilmann. Clearly more talent existed in the league in 1922. But what about that pennant? Honestly, would the 1944 Browns have won the pennant had they faced the 1922 Yankees? Vern Stephens was a superstar, but the rest just doesn't compare to Babe Ruth, Wally Pipp, and the Yanks' excellent pitching staff that year.
Talent wise, the Browns of 1922 had some excellent players. Hall of Famer George Sisler enjoyed his greatest season, hitting .420 with 42 doubles, 18 triples and 51 stolen bases. In the process Sisler struck out a scant 14 times. Young second baseman Marty McManus hit .312 with 11 home runs, and led American League second basemen in OPS. Outfielder Ken Williams slugged .627 with 39 home runs. The Browns led the league in runs scored. On the pitching side, ace Urban Shocker won 24 games. The Browns finished second in runs allowed, behind only the Yankees.
George Sisler missed the following season however, and the Browns never recovered. Urban Shocker and Pat Collins found their way to the Yankees' dynasty, and Hank Severeid was traded to the Washington Senators. Still, for a couple seasons in the '20s the Browns were one of the best teams in the league.
May 12, 2007
Chicago Cubs @ Philadelphia Phillies: Citizens Bank Park
-When it comes to geography, nothing beats Citizens Bank Park for an out-of-towner. PA Turnpike to I-95, and then north to the stadium. You go around Philadelphia rather than through it, and traffic is not bad at all. Compare that to New York City, where congestion begins about 30 miles away and gets progressively worse from there. Parking is expensive ($10) but convenient. The park is extremely easy to access from I-95.
-I brought along three friends, and all were impressed with the park. There is hardly a bad seat in the place. We sat 400-level but behind home plate with a great view of the field. There's a secret to attending baseball games. Your best option for viewing the action is anywhere between third and first base. You get better perspective there than sitting five rows past the outfield fence.
-Every time I see the Phils live they explode. 11 runs in this outing. They scored 10 when I saw them in 2006, and 12 the previous time in 2005.
-I left during the rain delay in the seventh. Delays get harder to wait out when you're making day trips from two hours out. The concourse however becomes absolutely impossible to navigate. It will take you a half hour to get around the stadium, at least.
-You honestly can not beat Citizens Bank Park when it comes to ambiance and amenities. Concessions are expensive but not outrageous. $11 will get you a BBQ pork sandwich, a diet coke, and an autograph from Greg "The Bull" Luzinski.
-One actual baseball note. Why teams will run on Shane Victorino I will never understand.
May 13, 2007
Columbus Clippers @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees: PNC Field
-The International League gives you the opportunity to see some fun players. Some are guys who should be in the majors (Colter Bean). Some are guys who could've made it with a bit of luck, but are still worth watching (Jim Rushford). And there are some who could not make it in the Majors. Chris Michalak is 36 years old. He's gotten 191 MLB innings, produced a 4.70 ERA (average for his run-scoring environments), but can never stick with a club. The reason is simple. He throws an 81 mph fastball. I love watching him pitch though. He's not masterful like Jamie Moyer. He just throws strikes that get hit right at guys. And he works fast. Hitters have trouble adjusting to his slow stuff and by the time they do, it's time for the flame throwing reliever. On this night he managed five shutout innings, leaving after 53 pitches. I figure his team didn't want to push him as he just returned from a quad injury. I get the feeling watching him that he could be Chris Hammond.
-One hour into the game, we were in the top of the fifth. The game lasted 2:50. That should give you an indication of the relative quality. Chris Booker pitched two innings for the save. Booker throws 95 mph but it's straight and he has no secondary pitch. It took Booker 54 or so pitches to get those last six outs. Compare that with Michalak. Both teams combined for 14 walks, and five errors. Just horrid, horrid baseball.
May 14, 2007
Same teams, same field.
-Same game really except the Yankees won a blowout. The lack of competition made the slow pace more painful. This game took three hours, ending at 10pm. When you get out and hit road construction right off, gah! Especially when your schedule has you out the door at 7am the next morning.
-Mike Bacsik pitched for Columbus. Around the twelfth batter I noticed he had thrown first-pitch strikes to two batters. That's a recipe for disaster. Sure enough, Bacsik surrendered three home runs in the fourth. Bacsik is a good pitcher, throws strikes and flyballs. Sometimes that will get you killed though, as it did this night. Honestly, the Clippers are the Washington Nationals' farm team. If these guys can't make the Nats, how good can they be?
-Two years ago (May 12, 2005), I saw the Reds and Phillies play. Dave Miley was the Reds' manager and D'Angelo Jimenez their starting second baseman. Fast-forward, Miley is managing Scranton and Jimenez is playing for Columbus. During a break in the action Miley (coaching third) and Jimenez (playing third) were seen conversing. It's good to see some old partnerships come up again.
The buzz around Scranton is that Roger Clemens is scheduled to start on Memorial Day. Whether that is for the AAA club or the big club is yet to be seen. I don't have that game, so not seeing Rodge won't bother me. In fact, it would be fun to see Clemens skip Scranton just because of the hype he's received.
Next game is Sunday, Reading against Portland. Ryan Madson is pitching rehab.
No game today, but I wanted to post some quick thoughts regarding Josh Hancock. Hancock died early this morning in an automobile accident. Besides his Major League career, Hancock spent most of 2003-04 pitching for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. Hancock came over in the Jeremy Giambi deal and while he looked like a decent pitching prospect, but the Phils dealt him for Todd Jones late in the '04 campaign. I would like to say I remember Josh Hancock on the mound, and while I believe I did, I can not honestly say I vividly remember it. My friend who worked for the Barons probably has more memories of Hancock, and I'm looking forward to talking to him about it. It's a shame when any pitcher dies young, especially when he came up through your area.
I posted an article at TSM about Hancock, which included a quote from former teammate Jim Rushford. One thing I neglected to mention in my last entry. Before the game one Ottawa player stepped up the dugout steps to sign a few autographs. I didn't need to consult a scorecard to know who it was. Rushford was and still is a player who seemingly takes time before every game to sign autographs. I am talking about every single game. I have never seen a player take more time for the fans than Rushford. Though his exploits on the field may not carry much acclaim, he deserves mention as one of the game's good guys.
After a dismal start the Phillies' season turned around nicely. As of this writing, the Phils actually own a better record than the New York Yankees. When I mentioned this to a spectator last night, another spectator took the opportunity to note the Phillies had just one World championship. I don't like to get into pissing matches about my team. First off, I'll lose. Second, I don't think a franchise's success is integral to enjoying the game of baseball. When you go to a Yankee game, do you see a bunch of fans smiling despite the losing streak saying, "aww shucks it's ok, we've won so many already." The point is that sustained winning does not seem to buy happiness. What it will get you a larger fanbase, which in my case just makes it more difficult to get good seats for games.
Thursday's game took me to Scranton to watch the AAA Yankees play the Ottawa Lynx, the temporary home of the AAA Phillies. Except for RF Ron Calloway and SP Zach Segovia, every player on the Lynx played for the Red Barons last season. Red Barons' paraphernalia was abundant in the stands, but enthusiasm for the visiting team was muted. The Yankees defeated the Lynx 3-1, the difference coming on Shelly Duncan's two-run home run in the first inning. Zach Segovia pitched deep into counts but induced outs. Segovia only struck out one batter but pitched a quality start, allowing three runs in seven innings. Matt Desalvo out pitched him, giving the Yankees six shutout innings. T.J. Beam finally looked like a relief prospect, striking out the side in the eighth inning.
Before the games the team shows a video package promoting the team, showing the December press-conference unveiling the logo and assorted quotes and such. One dignitary noted the SWB Yankees could be the biggest thing in minor league baseball this season. When they said that, they obviously had an eye on the bullpen. The Yankees' bullpen includes Ben Kozlowski (6'6", 220), T.J. Beam (6'7", 215), Ron Villone (6'3", 245), and Colter Bean (6'6", 255). Earlier in the game a fan asked Segovia if he had eaten their children, referencing his weight. Segovia is slightly overweight. Chris Britton is a 280 lb. monster. No wonder the Orioles traded him with conditioning issues on their mind.
My mission this season is to watch five different Phillies teams. Within range are the major league Phillies, the Reading Phillies (AA), the Lakewood Blueclaws (Low A) and the Williamsport Crosscutters (Short Season A). The AAA Phillies play in Ottawa, but they'll play road games in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Lakewood is 2 1/2 hours away, but a free day and the promise of a 70 degree, sunny day near the shore provided more than enough temptation to make the drive.
FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood is easily the nicest minor league park I have ever seen. The main seating area is spacious, plenty of seat and leg room. The concourse is entirely open with a full view of the park from concession areas. Prices are reasonable. Reserved Seats are $9, parking is $3 and concessions are not tremendously overpriced. The same owner is building the park for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and the design for that stadium looks similar. As if a baseball team wasn't incentive enough, the new park is absolutely going to blow away the park in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The game was my first taste of baseball in the Sally League. In lower-level baseball, you will tend to see a few more miscues and mistakes. The players are still learning on the job, after all. The highlight of the game involved the Blueclaws employing the delayed double-steal. Quintin Berry stole second base and Julian Williams stole home. Michael Dubee walked two in the seventh however, and the Blueclaws fell to the Hagerstown Suns 7-6. It was a quality game, well worth the drive. Sometimes you need to get a different look at the game. After the sub-par outings in Scranton, this was saving grace to the baseball soul.
All that said, there's a reason I don't like to drive in New Jersey. The Garden State Parkway is elusive and if you miss it, you find yourself in Staten Island. At $6, that's an expensive wrong turn. I got lost twice finding the ballpark.
There Were Others
On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier when he took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Robinson showed class and courage in dealing with the conditions of his time. He was not the only player, however. Four other african-americans played Major League Baseball in '47. They faced the same obstacles, but not all experienced similar success.
Larry Doby: The Cleveland Indians became the second MLB team to desegregate, and the first American League team. Doby debuted on July 5th and spent most of the season as a pinch hitter. Doby hit just .156 (5 for 32) with one walk and one double. Despite his poor performance, Doby stayed with the club for eight more seasons. Owner Bill Veeck claimed he desired to buy the Phillies in 1943 and staff them with negro league players, but this claim has never been substantiated. Veeck did integrate the Indians however, and reaped the rewards the next season. Larry Doby blossomed, the team added Satchel Paige to its bullpen and the club won the World Series.
Hank Thompson and Willard Brown: The St. Louis Browns next tried their hand at integration. Observers might remember Jackie's problems with St. Louis. It proved a less than ideal environment. Thompson played second base and hit .256 with plate discipline but no power. Willard Brown hit just .179. Brown hit the first home run by a black player in the American League. As Bill James' Historical Abstract reports, Brown had trouble hitting with lighter bats. Trying to find a heavier bat to suit his tastes, he found a bat with the knob broken off. He hit the home run with the bat. Afterwards the prior owner, Jeff Heath, reclaimed the bat and shattered it against the clubhouse wall. Clearly player relations were not fully resolved before the experiment. Hank Thompson returned to the Majors in 1949 and integrated the New York Giants, spending eight years with the club. Willard Brown never again played in the Majors, but gained election to the Hall of Fame in the special election of 2006.
Dan Bankhead: One of five baseball playing brothers, Bankhead joined Jackie Robinson on the Dodgers in late August. Bankhead made four pitching appearances in relief, pitching ten innings and allowing eight runs (good for a 7.20 ERA). Bankhead returned to the Dodgers in 1950 as a long reliever/spot starter, this time posting a 5.50 ERA with a 9-4 record.
Except for Doby, none are truly memorable figures in baseball. But all experienced the same trials and tribulations as Jackie, and deserve recognition in their own right.
I'm sure a lot of Yankee fans are anxious for the arrival of Phil Hughes. Seeing him pitch in Scranton, I honestly can not say I witnessed anything impressive. Hughes gave up five runs in five innings, two walks and one strikeout. I wouldn't have considered him notable if not for the name. That said, it was one start, it was cold and most of the game was played in a light rain. I don't trust performances in these conditions. For what it's worth, Hughes throws a low-90s fastball.
The game ended after seven innings due to rain. The SWB Yankees now go on the road for a week and a half, and my next live game is not for thirteen days. The next games are against the Ottawa Lynx, the new farm team of the Philadelphia Phillies.
You want boring baseball? Come see the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. The Yankees as a successful organization preach plate discipline throughout their system. Last night some poor defense led to a five-run third inning from the Richmond Braves, and the Braves added two more in the fourth. With the game effectively out of reach at this point, you hope to see the teams play to the end in a crisp manner. To say these teams limped to the finish line is an understatement. To give you an idea of the fashion of the game, the Yankees batted 42 times and just eight of them swung at the first pitch. When it is in the neighborhood of 35-40 degrees out, you have little patience for wasted time.
Phil Hughes tonight.
One of the troubling aspects of professional sports in the last twenty years ago is the rush for profits. Inevitably it would filter down to the minor leagues, as operators realize there is more money out there. It is great for the bottom line and well-heeled fans, but for the average fan it creates a more sterile environment. Last year you could go to a Red Barons game, buy a ticket at the window and sit up close. This year the team has sold out the entire lower deck for season tickets. With so many tickets sold in advance, the team has no need to offer giveaway items. At the concessions, more prepackaged food (and more expensive at that). You go into the park and you watch a game, but you don't feel a part of it anymore. And really, with all the money coming in it's hard to blame them. But it makes me less enthusiastic to attend games. I don't know if it's the extreme cold or the pace, but these games have not been fun at all.
Top Prospects - International League
SP Phil Hughes, NYY
SP Homer Bailey, Cin
SP Matt Garza, Min
SP Adam Miller, Cle
SP Jeff Niemann, TB
OF Adam Lind, Tor
1B Joey Votto, Cin
OF Ryan Sweeney, CWS
3B Josh Fields, CWS
SP Glen Perkins, Min
SP Kevin Slowey, Min
These players made the Top 100 in either the Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus Top 100 list (in fact, all made both lists). This month, the only top 100 prospect set to come through is Philip Hughes, and my friend is already bugging me to get him a ticket to Wednesday's game.
And thank god I just made a spot check on that ticket online. Today's game has been cancelled due to "snow and cold." Babies. The fun thing is that Norfolk will not return to Scranton the rest of the season (they make up the game in Norfolk). I planned to publish this later, but with no game tonight that concludes this entry.
As some of you might know, I have a side engagement scoring baseball games for a company called Baseball Info Solutions. I score occasional games in Scranton, mark hit locations and trajectories, and send them in via computer afterwards. I get to watch the game from a good vantage point for free and I get some money on the side. This is my third year. The first two years Scranton was the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. This year however Scranton is now the affiliate of the New York Yankees. The transition of teams comes with higher attendance, as there is simply more interest in this region for the Yankees.
* I joke that Yankee fans are obnoxious. Some are, some are not. Honestly, you get unbearable dopes in nearly every large baseball crowd. This game, four guys sat two rows behind me, consumed large amounts of alcohol and proceeded to make a show of themselves heckling the players. ALL game. It really gets on your nerves after a while. There's no respite.
* The weather is absolutely brutal. Game time temperature was 35 degrees, easily the coldest professional game I have ever attended. You can stand that kind of weather if you dress for it, which I did. After three hours though, the cold digs into you. It snowed about three times during the game, never sticking to the ground but creating a nuisance. The wind picked up at times, and in the configuration of the stadium it swirls.
* Even though I watch a lot of games, my scouting eye is not discerning enough to reveal much more than the statistics. I can tell you that Garrett Olson at one point retired seven straight batters on fly balls. Olson is just 23 and has struck out over a batter an inning in the minors while walking 70 and giving up just 13 home runs in 220 career innings. In my view, he is one of the unheralded pitching prospects in baseball.
* Something was missing overall. My enthusiasm just wasn't there for this game, and I wasn't sure if it was the loudmouths, the team or the weather. There are few legit prospects on the Yankees' farm club behind the rotation, and the Norfolk Tide had even less. I want to do less AAA games this year and maybe hit some other local teams (Harrisburg, Reading, Sussex County, etc.).
Since I recently subscribed to WWE 24/7, I thought this would be good to write up. For those of you who have accessibility, I highly recommend it. A full compliment of wrestling programming, some changing over from week to week. Old house shows, Pay-per-views, television programs, etc. I honestly do not have enough time to watch it all.
A short forward. I do not pay much attention to psychology, workrate, etc. I tend to take a historian's viewpoint of wrestling. I will note bad wrestling, but I do not intend this to be match reviews. Just some thoughts that cross my mind at specific instances.
Sherri Martel vs. Fabulous Moolah
This match is where Sherri won the WWF women's title. This was pretty bad. Ric Flair is 57 and still wrestling part-time, but few view him as a legitimate contender to anything. Moolah here is 63 and the reigning champion! I guess the company lacked a name after they dumped Wendi Richter, but damn. Looking back on this, I think some people miss the boat on womens' wrestling. At some point, you would like to see a long term, valid womens' division. But what is the point? You are not going to draw MORE money when you have the women wrestling. When you have a hot act, like Sable or Trish Stratus, you cobble together a division and come up with some worthy challengers. If not, you set it on the back burner.
Bruiser Brody vs. Abdullah the Butcher
Brody and Abdullah were two wrestlers who would never job. After watching this match, the genius of it all is that neither one has to. You can avoid having a big blow off match because you know they would murder each other, and the promoter could not afford the damage costs. So you let them go out, wreck the place for 10-12 minutes and send them off to the next town. The other brilliant side of this is when you have two psycho monster heels. When you pair them off of each other, you turn one of them de facto face, and get a great reaction for it. Just look at Blassie/Tolos.
Hercules vs. Junkyard Dog
This is from the Spectrum in November of '87. A poster whose name I can not recall posted some Wrestling Observer notes from '87. In those, Meltzer referred to JYD as the worst worker in wrestling. Now, obviously there are green guys wrestling in front of 20 people who are always worse. But JYD was certainly the worst worker in a major promotion. His offense just looks absolutely putrid. It is almost embarrassing for a wrestler to sell his headbutts.
It is hard to believe these are over a decade old already. The original music is long gone, so the original feel is somewhat gone. You know what made ECW great? It wasn't the quality wrestling or anything that stood far beyond the big two. It was that the big matches aired on free tv, on their television program. I think ECW lost much of its fun once Pay Per View started. And for all the complaining about the current product, it wasn't that good on TNN either. The big problem now, as with the TNN product, is that the show seems stuck in a holding pattern. They desperately need storyline progression.
Last time out I looked at players who led MLB in Runs Created Above Position over a ten year span. Most of the players are obvious. Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, etc. Some of the names however seemed surprising. In this entry I hope to shed some light on the lesser lights of the list.
Fred Dunlap (1876)
As I mentioned in the previous entry, Dunlap's position rests entirely on the strength of a single season in the Union Association, undoubtedly the weakest league ever considered a Major. Dunlap in 1884 collected 185 hits and walked 29 times. From this he managed to score 160 runs. To give you an idea of 19th century baseball, the U.A. saw 2,500 earned runs scored, and 2,325 unearned runs. No clue how many times Dunlap reached via error, but it was probably a significant number. Fielding percentages in the league ranged from .841 to .892. If we rated players from this era solely upon their performance in the National League, Dunlap would rate 11th.
King Kelly (1877-1879)
Kelly in his day was likely the most popular player of the 19th Century. There are volumes of information you can read on him, both as a person and a player. Kelly was simply one of the first matinée idols of baseball. Kelly won two batting titles and led his league in runs three times. Some batters of the day were better, such as Cap Anson and Roger Connor. Kelly comes to the front of the pack due to his playing catcher and right field for the majority of his career.
Dan Brouthers (1880-1886)
Simply the preeminant hitter of his era, Brouthers led his league in batting average five times, slugging percentage seven times, and OPS eight times.
Billy Hamilton (1887-1891)
The first great leadoff man. Hamilton's 912 career steals stood until Brock broke the record in 1977.* Hamilton also still holds the record for runs scored in a season, with 196.
*Yes, Brock broke Cobb's record. Baseball-Reference credits Hamilton with 912 stolen bases, I assume a revised total.
Arky Vaughan (1933)
Vaughan led the league in OBP three straight years, as a shortstop. At his peak he was one of the greatest shortstops of all time. Vaughan made more plate appearances than Joe Dimaggio, and struck out less.
Frank Robinson (1960-61)
A bit of a surprise, Robinson led the league in OPS and slugging percentage four times, and won two MVP awards.
Who would you take to start a franchise? This is a popular question for baseball arguments. The idea is to choose not only the best player, but the player who will continue to produce in the future. Barry Bonds was a dominant hitter in 2004, but would you take him to start a team knowing he was 40 and a few years (we presume) from retirement? With that premise in mind, I sought to devise a list of the players who would answer that question throughout history. For example, if you were starting a team in 1965, who would be the first player you would want?
A few parameters. First, if I asked software what player produced the most post-1950, it would be Barry Bonds. This is unrealistic as Bonds would not debut until decades later. So I looked at statistics for ten years following the year in question. For 1950, I would look at statistics from 1950 to 1959. This provides a good result, limiting players who produced by hanging on. I drew up the leaders in Runs Created Above Position (RCAP). This is similar to Runs Created Above Average, except it looks at average production at the position instead of the league as a whole. This prevents the list from being dominated by simply the best hitters. Playing a premium defensive position helps. Keep in mind however that the system does not take defense into account. A player such as Ozzie Smith or Willie Mays might not get their just due. The Mantle vs. Mays arguments we could hear all day. You'll also note that this lacks pitchers. They might comprise a second list in the future. It is the best of what we have so far.
A note on war service. Several players, notably Ted Williams, missed time in the Majors due to military service. When evaluating them as players, it is proper to give them credit for time missed. In this project however, it counts against them. Baseball itself did not stop for war, and teams who lost players missed their services, creating a real impact on their overall success. Would you start a team with a player you knew would miss four years? Probably not.
Barry Bonds (1986-1997)
Wade Boggs (1980-83, 1985)
Rickey Henderson (1984)
George Brett (1979)
Mike Schmidt (1975-78)
Joe Morgan (1965-74)
Dick Allen (1964)
Hank Aaron (1962-63)
Frank Robinson (1960-61)
Willie Mays (1958-59)
Mickey Mantle (1950-57)
Stan Musial (1942-45, 1948-49)
Ted Williams (1937-41, 1946-47)
Mel Ott (1934-36)
Arky Vaughan (1933)
Jimmie Foxx (1932)
Lou Gehrig (1927-31)
Babe Ruth (1914-15, 1917-26)
Rogers Hornsby (1916)
Ty Cobb (1906-13)
Honus Wagner (1896-05)
Ed Delahanty (1892-95)
Billy Hamilton (1887-91)
Dan Brouthers (1880-86)
King Kelly (1877-79)
Fred Dunlap (1876)
Twenty-six players are on the list. Of those, 22 are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Two are ineligible. That leaves out Dick Allen and Fred Dunlap. Allen missed half a career and was considered a clubhouse cancer. Fred Dunlap's presence surprised me. Looking at his career, his placement is explained by an excellent 1884 season. .412 batting average, 250 OPS+, 13 home runs, .621 slugging percentage. This is in a league where the total slugging percentage was .316! Therein lies the problem. The league in question is the Union Association. The UA lasted one season. Dunlap's OPS in the UA in 1884 was 1.069. He sandwiched that season between seasons in the National League, where he collected OPS's of .813 and .667 in the seasons before and after. When a player has a performance spike like that, you have to question its legitimacy.
1 Fred Dunlap 272
2 King Kelly 234
3 Charley Jones 233
4 Pete Browning 232
5 Cap Anson 222
6 Dan Brouthers 205
7 Jim O'Rourke 203
8 George Gore 187
9 Roger Connor 186
10 Paul Hines 183
Of Dunlap's figure, 135 came from the 1884 season alone. I can not accept that. Given King Kelly's appeal as a gate attraction, he is probably the rightful holder of the title in 1876 as well, thr birth of the National League.
One other fun variation to note immediately. Babe Ruth holds the title from 1914-26 except for one year, 1916. You might note that 1916 is the one that would run until 1925. That was the season where Ruth missed serious time due to a mysterious stomach ailment and a suspension. Rogers Hornsby in 1925 hit .403 with 39 home runs and a .736 slugging percentage. Perfect conditions for a one year takeover.
Any player who held the honor for five or more years is probably in the discussion as one of the greatest players of all time. I will likely follow up on some of the other names on the list. Feel free to leave questions and/or feedback.
Recently an ESPN Sportsnation poll stated that approximately 83% of respondents do not believe Tim Raines was a Hall of Fame caliber player. This is extremely unfortunately. Tim Raines was not only a Hall of Famer, but if left out he would clearly stand as the most deserving player left out. On statistics alone, he rates higher than Mark McGwire. In making this argument I am going to attempt to avoid bogging down the argument with too many sabermetrics. Runs Created Above Average and WARP3 might view Raines as deserving, but they are not going to convince the casual fan. My goal is to convince the casual baseball fan that Raines deserves the Hall.
Tim Raines' stat line is not convincing at first glance. A .385 On Base Percentage is good but not among the greats. .425 is quite pedestrian for a slugging percentage. Delving into Raines' value requires more work. Start with his stolen bases (808, 5th all time). The four players with more steals are all in the Hall, and Vince Coleman is the only non-Hall of Famer among the top ten. Of those ten, Raines was caught stealing the least, only 146 times. In fact, Raines' stolen base percentage of 84% is the greatest stolen base percentage of all time. Raines reached base almost 4,000 times in his career, good for 38th all time. When he did reach base, which was often, he was absolute terror on the basepaths. He's 46th all time in runs scored. 32nd in walks.
Tim Raines vs. Jim Rice
Jim Rice seems like an inexplicable Hall candidate. Let's compare the two. Raines played in over 400 more games, collecting more runs, hits, doubles, triples, steals, walks, and less strikeouts and double plays. Those are counting statistics so maybe that is unfair. Raines' OBP is 33 points higher. Rice played in eight All-Star games, Raines played in seven. Rice played left field and DH'ed in Fenway Park, while Raines played left field in Stade Olympique.
But Rice's argument is all about peak. In 1978 Rice won the MVP award, hitting .315 with 46 home runs and 139 RBIs. That is impressive. Compare that with Raines in 1987. Raines hit .330, had a .429 OBP (59 points higher than Rice), walked 90 times, hit 18 home runs, scored 123 runs, and stole 50 bases in 55 tries. Rice was a feared hitter? Raines was intentionally walked 26 times, 14 out of the leadoff slot. In fact, Raines was intentionally walked more than 10 times in a season four times. Rice was intentionally walked ten times in his best season. What all this indicates to me is that managers saw Rice as a power threat, but one they could beat. Raines? No way. (In fact, Raines' prolific on base tendencies earned Tim Wallach 123 RBIs and a 4th place MVP finish.)
Tim Raines vs. Lou Brock
Brock is seen as a good Hall of Famer. 3,000 hits, held the record for stolen bases until Rickey Henderson. Draw up the list, and Raines is clearly a superior player. Raines stole 130 less bases, but was caught 161 less times. Raines had a higher batting average, higher slugging percentage, and a MUCH higher on base percentage. Raines had 400 less hits but over 500 more walks. More impressively, Raines actually appeared in more All-Star games.
Skip this part if you don't believe in the stat at all, but you may find this enlightening. Tim Raines has 390 career win shares. Every player with 400+ win shares is in the Hall of Fame. Two players with more win shares than Raines are out. One is Tony Mullane, who racked up wins pitching in the inferior American Association in the 1880s. The other is Bill Dahlen, an unheralded infielder of the turn of the century. There are 70 players with more than 363 win shares, and all but two who are eligible are in. That's rare company, and Raines is smack in the middle of it.
I hope if you were unconvinced, you are now. If not, I'd like to hear from you.
Tony Oliva: Impressive career OPS+ of 131 over a 15 year career. Oliva made eight All-Star teams, finished sixth or higher in MVP votes four times, and won three batting titles. Oliva played his prime in an extremely tough offensive era. His peak is fairly impressive. However, Oliva does not rank in the top 100 of any offensive category except intentional walks. Only one of Oliva's ten most comparable players is in the Hall. That player, George Kelly, is considered one of the worst players in the Hall. As a right fielder, Oliva's totals just don't stack up.
Al Oliver: Oliver is an interesting Hall of Fame candidate. Oliver hit .303 over his career, made seven All-Star teams and enjoyed three top ten MVP finishes. He wasn't a great player at any point however. Looking over center fielders in the 1970s, Oliver ranks behind Fred Lynn, Bobby Murcer, Cesar Cedeno, Amos Otis and maybe Rick Monday. Oliver is indistinguishable from several of his era, not the mark of a Hall of Famer.
Vada Pinson: Like Oliver, Pinson accumulated great counting totals from being a good player for a long time. Pinson collected 2,757 career hits. Again however, there is little to support that Pinson was a great player. Pinson made just two All-Star games, and won just one Gold Glove, meaning his defensive capabilities can't carry him in. Pinson only finished in the Top ten of MVP balloting twice. His numbers do not merit induction.
Ron Santo: Off all players on the ballot, Santo is the one player who absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt deserves induction. At the time of his retirement, Santo ranked 5th among third basemen in hits, second in home runs, 3rd in OPS, and 2nd in RBIs. He also won five Gold Gloves. He was a dominant offensive/defensive player for five years.
Luis Tiant: Best known for his role on the 1975 Red Sox, Tiant compiled a 229-172 record over his career. His career record is similar to Catfish Hunter's. The difference is that Catfish won 20 games five years in a row and had a better peak. The problem with Tiant is that he only appeared in three All-Star games and never came close to the Cy Young award. Over the span of Tiant's career (1964-82), he ranks 31st in ERA and 10th in wins. There were many better pitchers in that era.
Joe Torre: Torre's a tough player to categorize. He played the most games at catcher, but only 40% of them. He split time at first and third base as well. He won a gold glove behind the plate, but was considered a poor defensive catcher. Torre played for nine All-Star teams and his 129 OPS+ would be excellent if you classified him as a catcher. Torre's a similar player in value to Gene Tenace, except that Torre played over 500 more games and won an MVP award. I'd vote for Torre. He's borderline, but he managed four championship clubs.
Cecil Travis: I wrote a piece on Cecil Travis a couple weeks ago. I don't remember if I published it, but the essential point is that Travis was a budding superstar whose career was cut short after he suffered frostbite fighting in the 2nd World War. Travis might have enjoyed a Hall of Fame career. When he left for war, he had a .331 career batting average. I'm not certain though. I don't feel comfortable voting for him, given that dozens of players were great early in their careers but lost Hall of Fame careers due to attrition.
Mickey Vernon: I don't see it. Unimpressive career totals, even accounting for a tough hitters' environment in Washington. Vernon won two batting titles and led the league in doubles three times, but he was not a dominant offensive force. He was the Mark Grace of his era.
Maury Wills: Lou Brock got the record, but Maury Wills revolutionized stealing bases in the 1960s. Wills stole 104 bases in 117 tries in 1962. Wills was an average hitter (for a shortstop) and a decent glove man. I don't think it's enough to get him into the Hall however. Wills wasn't any better than Jim Fregosi, a great player in his 20s but a non candidate. Wills was also considered a negative in regards to character.
Rundown: Santo and Torre alongside Joe Gordon and Jim Kaat from earlier rundowns. Four candidates from a group of 27.
Before I begin, another word on Joe Gordon. Despite a short career, Gordon is one of only four second baseman to hit 25+ home runs in five seasons. The others are Rogers Hornsby, Ryne Sandberg and Jeff Kent.
Mickey Lolich: Lolich's inclusion on the ballot is frankly puzzling. Lolich compiled a 217-191 record, not a great percentage for a candidate with that few wins. His sole qualification seems that for a two year stretch he compiled a 47-28 record with a 2.73 ERA. Using Lee Sinins' Runs Saved Above Average, his 52 RSAA over that stretch placed him eighth among pitchers. Only one of his ten comps are in the Hall, and that pitcher (Jim Bunning) had far superior ERAs.
Sparky Lyle: With four closers in the Hall and more coming, perhaps we missed one or two? Looking over relievers with 200+ games finished in the 1970s, Lyle ranks 5th in WHIP, 2nd in ERA, 2nd in saves, 2nd in RSAA, and 7th in strikeout/walk ratio. He won a Cy Young award in 1977. I can't endorse Lyle however. He was not the best reliever of the 1970s, instead competing for second among John Hiller, Mike Marshall, and others not considered candidates at all. None of his ten comparable pitchers are even candidates. The numbers just don't support this one.
Marty Marion: It is difficult to gauge Marion because his value rests on his defensive abilities. Contemporaries felt highly of Marion. He won an MVP award and finished in the top ten three times. He gained selection to eight consecutive All-Star games. Two caveats apply however. One, Marion only played thirteen seasons. Second, his best years occured during World War II when much of his competition was overseas. When there was no war, his OPS+ fell below 80. He simply was not a great player.
Roger Maris: Maris carries most of the loudest arguments towards his induction, and they may become louder yet with the steroid controversy looming over the new record holder(s). My position is that if that 61 did not appear on Maris's record, he would not be within a mile of the Hall of Fame. He won two MVP awards. He only appeared on four All-Star teams and only received any MVP support at all in one other season. None of his ten comparable players are in the Hall. Maris was a great player for two seasons. If two seasons of greatness are the standard of the Hall, then there are MANY other players who would deserve the honor.
Carl Mays: Carl Mays threw the pitch that killed Ray Chapman. He also compiled a 207-126 record, not many wins but an impressive winning percentage. Mays is another player in the "lost it early" group. Mays never dominated the league however, only finishing first in a handful of categories. He pitched for the Red Sox dynasty of the teens and the Yankees' dynasty of the early '20s. I suspect his win/loss record is due in part to pitching for great teams, and his other stats give him little extra support.
Minnie Minoso: Bill James' favorite candidate. The Minnie Minoso argument states that he didn't stick in the Majors until he was 26, and had a Hall of Fame career afterwards. If we take that statement for face value, how does Minoso rate with other left fielders, age 26 and older? I'm unimpressed. Minoso rates among the leaders, but those above him include illuminaries such as Bob Johnson and Luis Gonzalez, who are not serious candidates. Some like to support Minoso's candidacy by isolating his statistics in his 30s. Unless he collected 200 hits a year from ages 21-25, he would not have gotten 3,000 hits. Minoso finished in the top ten of MVP voting five times and made seven All-Star teams. Looking for a similar player, I spotted Ken Singleton. Minoso received more acclaim due to his speed, but they were roughly equal in value. Singleton is not a viable candidate. I can not support Minoso either.
Thurman Munson: Do you make an allowance for Munson passing away early? I don't believe you should, that Munson's case should be treated like any other injured player. But let's set that aside for the second. Using the same trick we used for Minoso, how does Munson compare with catchers up to the age of his death? Munson fails to impress in this regard. He rates 19th in OBP, 7th in hits, 11th in RBIs, 16th in RCAA, and 11th in Runs scored. Many non-Hall of Famers rank above him. Munson's slugging percentage fell off the table in 1978, so it's doubtful he had much left to contribute in his career. He wasn't good enough in his peak to merit induction.
Don Newcombe: Another pitcher with a brilliant peak, Newcombe compiled a 149-90 record. He debuted at the age of 23, so I doubt you can give him much of an adjustment for the color line. Newcombe had a few good years, even winning the MVP in 1956. He doesn't rate among the top five pitchers of his era however, and his record received a huge boost from the offense that played for him (four Hall of Famers, plus Gil Hodges). 149 wins is way too few for a serious candidate unless he dominates like Sandy Koufax or Dizzy Dean.
Lefty O'Doul: O'Doul hit .373 over a four year period from 1929 until 1932. That is superficially impressive, but the average hitter in the Baker Bowl in that era hit nearly .320. Phillies hitters in the 1930s received a greater boost from their environment than hitters enjoy at Coors Field today. O'Doul only reached 10 seasons thanks to four fruitless years as a pitcher early in his career. As a player, he is undeserving. HOWEVER, many argue that O'Doul deserves a boost because of his role as an ambassador to baseball in Japan. If you believe Buck O'Neil deserves the Hall, than O'Doul could merit induction under the same criteria.
The Rundown. None this round. Jim Kaat and Joe Gordon last round.
With the Baseball Writers making their decision, the Baseball Hall of Fame discussion turns to the Veterans' Committee ballot. The Veterans ballot occurs every other year, and is voted on by all living Hall of Famers, as well as writers and broadcasters. Currently, I believe the system is ill-constructed. There are too many vaguely qualified candidates on the ballot and no way to reach a consensus. The system would be much improved by taking the top ten vote getters and running a second, run-off ballot. As it stands, I doubt this system will result in any new inductees.
Dick Allen: One of the most controversial players in the history of baseball. Allen seemingly created trouble wherever he landed. Often, teams were eager to get rid of him despite his tremendous production. His talent is unquestioned. In 1966, Allen slugged .632 when the league as a whole slugged .399. Allen led the league in OPS four times, slugging three times, and On Base Percentage twice. His adjusted OPS ranks 21st all time. Unfortunately, he had a relatively short career. Bill James argues that Allen was more trouble than he was worth. I'm not sure what to make of it. Right no, I'd have to say no.
Bobby Bonds: Until Andre Dawson and Barry Bonds, Bobby was the greatest combination of power and speed in the history of baseball. Bobby, like Dick Allen, had a relatively short career. Unlike Dick Allen, he was not a dominant player. He did not win an MVP and he played in just three All-Star games. He wasn't great, and he wasn't very good for long enough.
Ken Boyer: Boyer is a tremendously underrated player, one who receives little acclaim because he played in an era of low offense and contributed across the board. For seven years, Boyer hit 23-32 home runs a season and collected 90+ RBIs. At the same time, he won five Gold Gloves at third base. Boyer finished in the top ten of MVP voting three times, winning the award in 1964. I can't endorse Boyer, but it is closer than people realize.
Rocky Colavito: A feared power hitter in his prime, Colavito hit 40+ home runs in three seasons. He finished in the top ten of MVP voting four times. Again, Colavito had a short career, retiring at the age of 34. Rocky led the league in home runs once, RBIs once, slugging percentage once. None of his ten comparable players are in the Hall of Fame. Colavito just wasn't good enough at his peak to merit induction.
Wes Ferrell: 193 wins and a 4.04 ERA is not generally remarkable. Ferrell did win 91 games over four seasons. He pitched in a genuinely difficult era for pitchers. The most remarkable statistic about Ferrell is his hitting. Ferrell hit .280/.351/.446 over the course of his career, league average numbers out of the pitching spot. His .601 winning percentage is impressive, but he just didn't last long enough. Ferrell pitched just 8 games after turning 30.
Curt Flood: Flood essentially retired rather than accept a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies. He challenged baseball's reserve clause and lost. Again we have a player who enjoyed a short career. During his career, Flood was a league average hitter with a sensational glove. Flood was possibly one of the top five defensive outfielders of all time. However, I can't see how half a season of that makes a Hall of Famer.
Joe Gordon: Yet another short career guy. Gordon gets a pass for two seasons however because he served during World War II. Gordon was absolutely a Hall of Fame talent at his peak. He won an MVP and finished in the top ten four other times. He made the All-Star team nine times, every season except his first and last years. Gordon played on five championship clubs. Given credit for the war years, I think Gordon deserves induction.
Gil Hodges: A popular player, but only the 5th or 6th best player on his club. Hodges only finished in the top ten of MVP balloting twice, and never really got close to winning. Hodges never led the league in a significant offensive category. Hodges accumulated a lot of RBIs because he played on great teams, but he was not a great player. The only way he merits induction is if you give him credit for managing the Miracle Mets. I can't see it.
Jim Kaat: Kaat is an interesting case. He wasn't a great pitcher, just a very good one who lasted a LONG time. That might not sound impressive, but I've always maintained that if it were easy to stick around and accumulate numbers, more pitchers would do it. Kaat's numbers are similar to Robin Roberts and Ferguson Jenkins. He's borderline, but I would vote for him. 283 wins is enough.
Rundown: Jim Kaat and Joe Gordon in this batch. Mickey Lolich through Lefty O'Doul in the next batch, and we'll finish with Tony Oliva through Maury Wills.
Listening to sports talk radio, the only baseball discussion occurring right now regards the Hall of Fame. Invariably, someone will mention that Joe Dimaggio was not elected on the first ballot This is true, Dimaggio received only 44% of the vote. However, two key facts are missed.
1. That ballot was the 1953 ballot. Dimaggio retired following the 1951 season. The 1953 ballot, submitted in December '52, was the FIRST election since Dimaggio retired. I've searched some sources and I can not find whether the five year rule was in place. Bobby Doerr garnered a handful of votes and he retired the same year. It is worth noting however that Dimaggio under today's system would not gain eligibility to the Hall until 1957, two years after he was elected.
2. The Hall of Fame at that time contained a huge backlog of eligible players. It is easy for a worthy player to gain induction today. This year in a good crop, there are 27 players total, three whose numbers merit clear induction, and another 8-10 who could claim HoF worthiness on a good day. It is relatively easy for voters, allowed up to ten choices, to choose the best players and induct them. In 1953, 83 players received at least one vote. Do you know how difficult it is to reach a consensus with the vote spread so widely? What's more, over 40 of those not elected would eventually become Hall of Famers. Dimaggio didn't get snubbed because he was somehow undeserving. Two players who retired in 1951 made the Hall. Dimaggio got 44%, Bobby Doerr got 1%. The process was to blame.
I'm posting this here because I didn't feel like beating a dead horse in the MLB thread. There is a legitimate argument that Bagwell is not only Hall of Fame worthy, but he is the best first baseman in the history of the National League. Blasphemy? Check out the leaderboards. Minimum 5000 Plate Appearances for rate statistics.
1 Mark Grace 511
T2 Cap Anson 488
T2 Jeff Bagwell 488
4 Jake Beckley 435
5 Andres Galarraga 428
6 Keith Hernandez 424
7 Jim Bottomley 419
8 Todd Helton 411
9 Steve Garvey 409
10 Charlie Grimm 394
1 Jake Beckley 2763
2 Cap Anson 2710
3 Mark Grace 2445
4 Steve Garvey 2443
5 Jake Daubert 2326
6 Jeff Bagwell 2314
7 Charlie Grimm 2297
8 Andres Galarraga 2273
9 Bill Terry 2193
10 Keith Hernandez 2156
1 Jeff Bagwell 449
2 Willie McCovey 439
3 Andres Galarraga 388
4 Gil Hodges 369
5 Orlando Cepeda 331
6 Johnny Mize 315
7 Eric Karros 282
8 Todd Helton 281
9 Fred McGriff 269
10 Ted Kluszewski 257
INTENTIONAL WALKS IBB
1 Willie McCovey 248
2 Jeff Bagwell 155
3 Todd Helton 146
4 Orlando Cepeda 130
5 Keith Hernandez 127
6 Mark Grace 115
7 Will Clark 112
8 Steve Garvey 108
9 Andres Galarraga 105
10 Fred McGriff 99
ISOLATED POWER ISO
1 Todd Helton .261
2 Johnny Mize .258
3 Willie McCovey .244
4 Jeff Bagwell .244
5 Fred McGriff .227
6 Dolph Camilli .220
7 Gil Hodges .215
8 Andres Galarraga .211
9 Orlando Cepeda .209
10 Will Clark .204
1 Todd Helton .432
2 Dan Brouthers .418
3 Jeff Bagwell .408
4 Johnny Mize .405
5 Roger Connor .397
6 Cap Anson .397
7 Bill Terry .393
8 Dolph Camilli .390
9 Keith Hernandez .386
10 Elbie Fletcher .384
1 Todd Helton 1.027
2 Johnny Mize .983
3 Jeff Bagwell .948
4 Dan Brouthers .942
5 Bill Terry .899
6 Willie McCovey .893
7 Dolph Camilli .890
8 Roger Connor .885
9 Fred McGriff .882
10 Will Clark .880
1 Dan Brouthers .772
2 Johnny Mize .759
3 Roger Connor .717
4 Will Clark .705
5 Jeff Bagwell .704
6 Willie McCovey .702
7 Todd Helton .689
8 Cap Anson .677
9 Bill Terry .674
10 Dolph Camilli .671
1 Cap Anson 1748
2 Jeff Bagwell 1529
3 Jake Beckley 1455
4 Andres Galarraga 1389
5 Willie McCovey 1345
6 Jim Bottomley 1315
7 Gil Hodges 1267
8 Steve Garvey 1246
9 Johnny Mize 1158
10 Orlando Cepeda 1150
1 Dan Brouthers 789
2 Jeff Bagwell 680
3 Roger Connor 667
4 Cap Anson 659
5 Johnny Mize 638
6 Willie McCovey 536
7 Todd Helton 465
8 Bill Terry 425
9 Stan Musial 399
10 Keith Hernandez 371
1 Cap Anson 1549
2 Jeff Bagwell 1517
3 Jake Beckley 1491
4 Roger Connor 1336
5 Dan Brouthers 1229
6 Mark Grace 1179
7 Andres Galarraga 1161
8 Fred Tenney 1156
9 Bill Terry 1120
T10 Jake Daubert 1117
T10 Keith Hernandez 1117
RUNS CREATED RC
1 Cap Anson 2047
2 Jeff Bagwell 1768
3 Roger Connor 1725
4 Jake Beckley 1685
5 Dan Brouthers 1652
6 Willie McCovey 1403
7 Mark Grace 1392
8 Johnny Mize 1372
9 Andres Galarraga 1338
10 Todd Helton 1306
RUNS CREATED/GAME RC/G
1 Dan Brouthers 11.84
2 Roger Connor 10.04
3 Todd Helton 9.96
4 Johnny Mize 9.51
5 Cap Anson 9.50
6 Jeff Bagwell 8.11
7 Dolph Camilli 7.71
8 Bill Terry 7.65
9 Willie McCovey 7.08
10 Will Clark 7.08
SECONDARY AVERAGE SEC
1 Jeff Bagwell .449
2 Todd Helton .439
3 Willie McCovey .418
4 Dolph Camilli .408
5 Johnny Mize .400
6 Fred McGriff .372
7 Gil Hodges .357
8 Roger Connor .342
9 Will Clark .334
10 Dan Brouthers .332
1 Todd Helton .595
2 Johnny Mize .577
3 Jeff Bagwell .540
4 Dan Brouthers .524
5 Willie McCovey .515
6 Fred McGriff .512
7 Orlando Cepeda .508
8 Bill Terry .506
9 Jim Bottomley .505
10 Will Clark .505
Whether or not Bagwell is the best, he's in some select company.
Tony Gwynn- Since World War II, only Ted Williams hit for a higher batting average than Tony Gwynn. Gwynn hit .338 over his career, and .368 over a five year stretch from 1993-97. Eight batting titles makes Gwynn as sure a candidate as anyone in the history of the balloting.
Cal Ripken- What surprised me in looking up the statistics is that Cal doesn't appear on many lists of shortstops in terms of percentages. His case is based largely on longevity. Nothing wrong with that, as Cal's peak was plenty good too. Ripken won two MVPs and hit more home runs than any shortstop in history.
Mark McGwire- We all know McGwire's candidacy comes down to a moral choice and there's really no arguing that. This is where I stand and I respect where you stand for the time being. What I would address is the notion that McGwire was a undeserving player except for his late home run surge. McGwire was the percentage leader amongst first basemen in home runs prior to 1998. He ranked eighth in OPS, Offensive Winning Percentage and Runs Created per game, and second in Secondary Average. McGwire walked nearly as often as he struck out. Yes, he probably used steroids, but he was a Hall caliber player before 1998.
Bert Blyleven- The sabermetric darling of the Hall ballot. I think Blyleven's big problem is that he had his great seasons early and then stayed around as an above-average pitcher for a long time. I'm not going to slog through the stats because the arguments have been presented before. Let me just state that if Blyleven had 13 more wins, this wouldn't even be discussed.
Alan Trammell- Trammell and Ripken were roughly contemporaries. Ripken outslugged Trammell .447 to .415. Trammell had a higher career OBP however, .352 to .340. Ripken's career ERA+ was 112, Trammell's was 110. Now, remember that Trammell stole 236 bases to Ripken's 36, largely offsetting the edge in extra bases. Trammell had a better range factor at shortstop and won more gold gloves. Ripken lasted two years longer than Trammell. Ripken's considered an automatic inductee, while Trammell fell below 20% of the vote. Now ask yourself, was Cal Ripken really THAT much better of a player than Alan Trammell?
Andre Dawson- Poor OBP be damned. Dawson hit 438 home runs, stole 314 bases and was a GOLD GLOVE center fielder in his prime.
Goose Gossage- If you are going to elect relievers, you need to elect the Goose. Now that a standard is established thanks to Bruce Sutter, I think Gossage will earn induction (but not until next year).
I don't know how many of you are in college. I'm pursuing a double major in History and Political Science. I'm in my last semester, working on completing a classed called Political Science Seminar. Generally the purpose of these courses is to compile one sizeable paper, 20 pages in this case. I did it last semester for History. History is my first love. I originally had a minor in Political Science, but I decided to go for the major because it took just nine more credits (3 classes). For the paper I just said the heck with it and chose a baseball-themed topic, the antitrust exemption. It involves three Supreme Court cases, placing it well within the realm of Political Science.
The paper's due on Thursday, giving me five more days to pull this out. This morning I came up with a sore throat so on top of balancing school and work, I feel like crap. I am battling though, and its a minor victory that I've got 11 pages written. If I switch to Courier New, it's at 15 pages! The problem is that if I get too much done, I feel accomplished and I don't touch it again for a few days. It's a nice little bit of reverse psycology at work. It's funny though. The more you go through college, the more you laugh at smaller papers. Three or four pages? One night, easy. You don't even fret about it.
In three weeks I'll have a dual bacholar's degree and while I'm excited, I'm going to miss hanging out with my friends and the other cool things about college.
Some random (baseball) notes...
-I hadn't realized how good Brian McCann was until I saw his stat line. A .572 slugging percentage at the age of 22?! On top of that, McCann hit .333 and walked nearly as often as he struck out. Brian McCann's isolated power (slugging pct. minus batting average) was well above .200. For comparison's sake, only three other catchers have flashed that kind of power at McCann's age. Johnny Bench went to the Hall of Fame. Darrell Porter was one of the top 30 catchers of all time. Earl Williams had great power, but was abysmal defensively.
-As I noted in the offseason thread, Carlos Lee stole 19 bases and grounded into 22 double plays. It would seem odd for a player to flash good speed and still run himself out of innings. So I checked and found that 14 players had posted similar seasons, most of them great players like Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson and Minnie Minoso. How does this happen?
1. 13 of the 14 players were right handed hitters. Righties have a longer distance to run to first base.
2. Double play opportunites are dictated much like RBI opportunities. Players on better offensive teams will ground into more double plays, simply because they come to bat more often with a runner on first base.
3. Strategies sometimes dictate play. In the 1950s, a batter who got to first base stayed anchored to the bag. Few hit and runs and steal attempts made double plays easier for the defense.
-Many have noted Carlo Lee's expanding girth. The encyclopedias list him at 235 lbs. Among players listed at 235 lbs. or more, only Andres Galarraga has more career stolen bases. Galarraga leads Lee 128 to 96.
-That inspired me to take an opposite list, home runs by little guys. I consider Ozzie Smith the standard at 155 lbs. At 150 lbs., Jose Cardenal hit 138 career home runs, making him the little home run king.
-Finally, I just purchased this hat off of mlb.com. THIS is stylish.
Some down time today allows me to fool around with the Sabermetric Encyclopedia.
-Over the last two seasons, Chase Utley has hit 60 home runs, driven in 207 runs, and stolen 31 bases. Only twelve other players in baseball have compiled numbers better in their age 26/27 seasons. Eleven of those twelve are outfielders, and none are second basemen. That should put Chase's ability into perspective. Just for assurances, I removed steals, and Utley still remains the only second baseman on the list.
-How many 21 year old left handed, 5'7" pitchers have there been in the modern era? One, Fabio Castro. Bobby Shantz is an interesting comparison though. Shantz won the AL MVP award in 1952, compiling a 24-7 record for the Philadelphia Athletics. Shantz soon suffered injuries and never won more than 11 games again, but thrived in bullpen work later in his career. It's the same story. Great talent, but durability issues.
-I got Game six of the 1975 World Series of Netflix. I hope Bored does his writeup of this game soon. One interesting, overlooked aspect of the series is that it was the Reds, not the Red Sox, who had the burden of failure to escape. The Reds won 102 games in 1970 but lost the World Series to the Baltimore Orioles. They finished fifth in 1971. In 1972, the Reds lost the World Series to the Athletics in seven games. All four of their losses were one run margins. Then in 1973, the Reds lost the NLCS to the 82-79 New York Mets.
-Speaking of that series, the 1975 World Series is probably the most underrated World Series of all time. It's overlooked because it had one true classic that everyone focuses on. Four of the other games were nailbiters too, and game one was not decided until the seventh inning.