Tag: Mark McGwire

Hall of Fame Vote

The 2016 MLB Hall of Fame class is another group that could lead to an overflowing crowd of supporters in Cooperstown, New York next summer. After watching Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio give lengthy speeches last summer, it could (and should) be a much larger group of inductees, as the museum and its voting privileged try to come to grips with the reality in the backlog, logjam, and cluster&%$# of names, due to their own stupidity, has led to.

Luckily, many of the writers are becoming more credible by making their ballots public, which leads to the early favorite for the worst ballot: Earl Bloom, who is the only person to have publicly voted for Garret Anderson.

Of course, I was ridiculed publicly, and privately, for my own vote last season, after having said that David Ortiz is the greatest DH of all-time, and I will be redeeming myself with my vote this season and detailing why Edgar Martinez is that man. I have this wonderful opportunity due to the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA). Here is some free advertising:

The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America (IBWAA) was created July 4, 2009 to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

The IBWAA seeks neither to replace nor disparage the BBWAA, but does offer distinctions. While the BBWAA requires ten years and hundreds of dollars of paid membership for writers to earn a Hall of Fame vote, the IBWAA has no waiting period, with a $20 annual membership fee ($35 lifetime).

In the vast majority of cases, the BBWAA requires the tying of a writer’s online work to a print publication for admission; the IBWAA does not. The IBWAA believes that the hoops an applying writer has to jump through to join the older organization are too many and too narrow, and welcomes all Internet baseball writers. Those with his or her own baseball website of any kind or scope are invited to join, as are those who contribute the written word anywhere within the baseball blogosphere.

Enough of that. Below, you’ll see my 15 votes for the 2016 MLB Hall of Fame.

NOTE: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Mike Piazza were elected by the IBWAA and do not appear on the list for that reason.

Barry Bonds:

The all-time home run king (asterisk if you’d like) was the most feared hitter of his era, and possibly of all-time when you consider his career intentional walks, also a MLB record. He juiced…so did most of the top players. Say what you want about integrity of the game, but Bonds still had to hit the ball, and he did it better than anyone else.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB IBB
22 Yrs 2986 12606 9847 2227 2935 601 77 762 1996 514 2558 1539 .298 .444 .607 1.051 5976 688
162 Game Avg. 162 684 534 121 159 33 4 41 108 28 139 83 .298 .444 .607 1.051 324 37
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Roger Clemens:

Another “juicer” who prolonged his career with the help of medicine, Clemens was a workaholic well before the steroids became his enhancer. The career that Clemens had is Hall worthy, and he was a master of his craft and dominant during an era that was dominated by the juicing hitters.

Year W L ERA G CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
24 Yrs 354 184 3.12 709 118 46 4916.2 4185 1885 1707 363 1580 4672 143 3.09 1.173 7.7 2.9 8.6 2.96
162 Game Avg. 17 9 3.12 34 6 2 236 201 91 82 17 76 224 143 3.09 1.173 7.7 2.9 8.6 2.96
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Ken Griffey, Jr.:

The smile, the swing, the glove…”The Kid”. Griffey has a clean image in a tarnished era. No one truly knows who was using and who wasn’t, but the assumption is that Griffey was the one who was doing it the right way. Injuries derailed his chance of holding Hank Aaron’s record that Bonds now has, but Junior certainly has a long-lasting legacy of greatness that will, quite possibly, earn him the highest Hall vote in history.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
22 Yrs 2671 11304 9801 1662 2781 524 38 630 1836 184 1312 1779 .284 .370 .538 .907 136 5271 246
162 Game Avg. 162 686 594 101 169 32 2 38 111 11 80 108 .284 .370 .538 .907 136 320 15
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Trevor Hoffman:

Hoffman and his changeup held the record for all-time saves until Mariano Rivera and his cutter took it away shortly after his retirement. His long-term success and dominance help his case, even if he closed out his career in less-than-Rivera-fashion.

Year W L ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
18 Yrs 61 75 2.87 1035 856 601 1089.1 846 378 347 100 307 1133 141 3.08 1.058 7.0 2.5 9.4 3.69
162 Game Avg. 4 5 2.87 68 56 39 72 56 25 23 7 20 74 141 3.08 1.058 7.0 2.5 9.4 3.69
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Jeff Kent:

Kent was similar in his success at the keystone position as Cubs’ great Ryne Sandberg. He may have been helped by having Bond hit in front of him for several seasons, but he still had to complete his job, and he did so tremendously. He was a force, a five-time All-Star, and an MVP. He didn’t have the defensive chops of Ryno, but the bat was much more impressive for a longer period of time.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
17 Yrs 2298 9537 8498 1320 2461 560 47 377 1518 94 801 1522 .290 .356 .500 .855 123 4246 61
162 Game Avg. 162 672 599 93 173 39 3 27 107 7 56 107 .290 .356 .500 .855 123 299 4
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Edgar Martinez:

The greatest DH of all-time. Edgar at his peak was a monster, earning a 39.8 WAR from 1995-2001 while playing all of 33.1 innings over seven games in the field. Add in his impressive WAR from 1990-1992 (17.2) while manning third base, and you can see that he was a pretty special player before moving to DH. Sure, he may not have the home run totals of David Ortiz, but he was a far superior player, especially his peak seasons.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
18 Yrs 2055 8674 7213 1219 2247 514 15 309 1261 49 1283 1202 .312 .418 .515 .933 147 3718 113
162 Game Avg. 162 684 569 96 177 41 1 24 99 4 101 95 .312 .418 .515 .933 147 293 9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Fred McGriff:

“The Crime Dog” was a monster for several clubs, and his constant changing of teams makes him an intriguing case for the Hall, as he didn’t spend more than five years with any team over his 19 seasons. Additionally, he fell just short of the once-impressive 500 home run club. When you consider his career stats are most similar to Hall of Famers like Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, and Frank Thomas, you can see why McGriff belongs alongside his peers in Cooperstown, especially since he hasn’t been connected to any steroid stories.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
19 Yrs 2460 10174 8757 1349 2490 441 24 493 1550 72 1305 1882 .284 .377 .509 .886 134 4458 171
162 Game Avg. 162 670 577 89 164 29 2 32 102 5 86 124 .284 .377 .509 .886 134 294 11
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Mark McGwire:

McGwire helped save the game after the 1994 strike with his incredible home runs. He couldn’t stay healthy, and it could be due to all of the steroids in his system, but his numbers and production are just as valuable as the PED-based shoulders that carried the game back into some semblance of respectability – until the league decided to frown on the same things that lifted it up.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
16 Yrs 1874 7660 6187 1167 1626 252 6 583 1414 12 1317 1596 .263 .394 .588 .982 163 3639 150
162 Game Avg. 162 662 535 101 141 22 1 50 122 1 114 138 .263 .394 .588 .982 163 315 13
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Mike Mussina:

“Moose” was a workhorse and a winner for a team that never won in Baltimore. While he only won 20 games once (his final season), he was a model of consistency and won 117 more games than he lost due to his efforts.

Year W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
18 Yrs 270 153 3.68 537 536 57 23 3562.2 3460 1559 1458 376 785 2813 123 3.57 1.192 8.7 2.0 7.1 3.58
162 Game Avg. 17 10 3.68 34 34 4 1 226 219 99 92 24 50 178 123 3.57 1.192 8.7 2.0 7.1 3.58
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Gary Sheffield:

The bat speed, the production, the attitude…Sheffield had it all. He, like McGriff, never found a long-term home. It doesn’t change the fact that his prime and peak seasons were seasons for the ages. He dominated the opposition and was feared for a long period of time. Who knows if he was a juicer – even if he was, he was one of the best players of the era.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
22 Yrs 2576 10947 9217 1636 2689 467 27 509 1676 253 1475 1171 .292 .393 .514 .907 140 4737 130
162 Game Avg. 162 688 580 103 169 29 2 32 105 16 93 74 .292 .393 .514 .907 140 298 8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Lee Smith:

Smith redefined the closer role and if the Hall has room for Bruce Sutter, it certainly has room for Smith for the same reason. It’s actually baffling that Smith, who has 178 more saves and a much longer, successful career, isn’t in and Sutter is…but that’s just my opinion.

Year W L ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
18 Yrs 71 92 3.03 1022 802 478 1289.1 1133 475 434 89 486 1251 132 2.93 1.256 7.9 3.4 8.7 2.57
162 Game Avg. 5 6 3.03 68 53 32 85 75 31 29 6 32 83 132 2.93 1.256 7.9 3.4 8.7 2.57
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Sammy Sosa:

As mentioned above with McGwire, Sosa was loved by all during the home run barrage of the late 90s and early 2000s, but baseball turned their back on him and the other juicers once the Mitchell Report was released. Sure, he’s tainted, but he was an incredible talent whose love of the game and long tenure with the lovable losers in Chicago made him an easy person to root for. He has blemishes but so did MLB during his time. He deserves to be in Cooperstown.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
18 Yrs 2354 9896 8813 1475 2408 379 45 609 1667 234 929 2306 .273 .344 .534 .878 128 4704 154
162 Game Avg. 162 681 607 102 166 26 3 42 115 16 64 159 .273 .344 .534 .878 128 324 11
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Alan Trammell:

Trammell was ARod, Ripken, Larkin, Garciaparra, and Tejada before those guys happened. His ability to hit and field at shortstop helped lay the path for talented sluggers like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Correa today. Although Lou Whitaker will not ever get in the Hall, Trammell can still afford the dynamic duo from Detroit one seat in Cooperstown.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
20 Yrs 2293 9376 8288 1231 2365 412 55 185 1003 236 850 874 .285 .352 .415 .767 110 3442 48
162 Game Avg. 162 662 586 87 167 29 4 13 71 17 60 62 .285 .352 .415 .767 110 243 3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Billy Wagner:

Wagner was one of the most dominant relievers in MLB history. He never posted a full season with an ERA higher than 2.85 and a K:9 less than 10.1 (that injury-shortened 2000 season can be scrapped). He doesn’t have Hoffman or Rivera’s save totals, but everything else lines up similar or better to the two greatest relievers in history – which begs the question…is Wagner better than Rivera or Hoffman?

Year W L ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
16 Yrs 47 40 2.31 853 703 422 903.0 601 262 232 82 300 1196 187 2.73 0.998 6.0 3.0 11.9 3.99
162 Game Avg. 4 3 2.31 68 56 34 72 48 21 18 7 24 95 187 2.73 0.998 6.0 3.0 11.9 3.99
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

Larry Walker:

The power, the speed, the arm…Walker had it all. The only thing he didn’t have was pain tolerance or health. If he had stayed on the field, this would be a no brainer. As is, he’s a borderline candidate who did more than enough to warrant consideration.

Year G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB IBB
17 Yrs 1988 8030 6907 1355 2160 471 62 383 1311 230 913 1231 .313 .400 .565 .965 141 3904 117
162 Game Avg. 162 654 563 110 176 38 5 31 107 19 74 100 .313 .400 .565 .965 141 318 10
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/30/2015.

 

Hall of Fame Vote

Bonds1I don’t have a Hall of Fame vote with the BBWAA, but I DO have one with the IBWAA. The Internet Baseball Writers Association of America gives a voice to the common writer, who tends to be the common fan – one who doesn’t utilize a national platform to showcase their personal agenda, while using a large publication to demonstrate their lack of knowledge. For those who are willing to be open-minded regarding their education of the greatest game ever played, the ever-changing numbers-crunching and constant flow of information has changed how many around the game think; however, there are still a few, like the link above, which detail how wrong so many actually voting for the Hall of Fame actually are.

Beyond the credentialed irrationality of many within the BBWAA, we are left with the limitations, which are being challenged now that a dramatic number of worthy candidates are on a ballot that can only allow up to 10 players into Cooperstown each year.  To overcome the shortcomings, we have the IBWAA, which is filled with bloggers, and national writers who don’t yet qualify for the BBWAA vote, and perhaps never will. Within the IBWAA, we can vote for up to 15 players each year, and I used each vote on a loaded ballot, while leaving off some very good players, as well. Below, you’ll find my ballot, but some valuable information from the IBWAA:

The IBWAA ballot compares identically to the BBWAA ballot, with the following exceptions:

1. Craig Biggio’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2014.

2. Mike Piazza’s name does not appear on the IBWAA ballot because he was elected by the group in 2013.

3. Barry Larkin’s name does appear on the ballot because he has not reached the 75% threshold in an IBWAA election.

Per a group decision in 2013, the IBWAA allows members to vote for 15 players, instead of the previous 10, beginning with this election.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
15 Yrs 2150 9431 7797 1517 2314 488 32 449 1529 202 1401 1558 .297 .408 .540 .948 149 4213
162 Game Avg. 162 711 587 114 174 37 2 34 115 15 106 117 .297 .408 .540 .948 149 317
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.

Bagwell was a monster, who had one of the greatest seasons in the history of baseball in 1994 before the strike ended it. His career was shortened by shoulder woes, but he was one of the most feared athletes in the game, a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, and a four-time All-Star, who had 2.89 career MVP shares.

Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
22 Yrs 2986 12606 9847 2227 2935 601 77 762 1996 514 2558 1539 .298 .444 .607 1.051 182 5976
162 Game Avg. 162 684 534 121 159 33 4 41 108 28 139 83 .298 .444 .607 1.051 182 324
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Say what you want to about his character flaws – the Hall of Fame honors greatness, and Bonds was nothing short of great. An asterisk and labels can’t change the fact that he had to hit the ball, and he certainly did that – while stealing bases and being an incredible athlete in his earlier, slimmer seasons.
Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 SO/W
24 Yrs 354 184 3.12 709 707 118 46 4916.2 4185 1885 1707 363 1580 4672 143 3.09 1.173 7.7 2.96
162 Game Avg. 17 9 3.12 34 34 6 2 236 201 91 82 17 76 224 143 3.09 1.173 7.7 2.96
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Clemens was a competitor, a hard-working workhorse, whose offseason workouts led to his long-term success, just as much as some of the “products” that he put into his body. Despite his stupidity off-the-field, he was an amazing pitcher on it – one of the greatest.
Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 SO/W
22 Yrs 303 166 3.29 618 603 100 37 4135.1 3346 1703 1513 411 1497 4875 135 3.19 1.171 7.3 3.26
162 Game Avg. 17 9 3.29 34 34 6 2 230 186 95 84 23 83 271 135 3.19 1.171 7.3 3.26
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
“The Big Unit” holds the MLB record for career K:9 and his size and stuff were equally intimidating – ask John Kruk. The longevity of his stuff was equally impressive as his results.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
17 Yrs 2298 9537 8498 1320 2461 560 47 377 1518 94 801 1522 .290 .356 .500 .855 123 4246
162 Game Avg. 162 672 599 93 173 39 3 27 107 7 56 107 .290 .356 .500 .855 123 299
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Kent’s numbers may be inflated from batting behind Bonds for so many years, but his overall numbers at second base make Ryne Sandberg’s look pedestrian. Different era, certainly, but Kent’s production is absolutely Hall-worthy.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
19 Yrs 2180 9057 7937 1329 2340 441 76 198 960 379 939 817 .295 .371 .444 .815 116 3527
162 Game Avg. 162 673 590 99 174 33 6 15 71 28 70 61 .295 .371 .444 .815 116 262
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
He’s already in Cooperstown, but he still gets my vote here. Call me a homer, but Larkin helped to redefine the position when he became the very first shortstop in baseball history to post a 30 home run/30 stolen base season in 1996, the season AFTER his MVP award.
Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 SO/W
18 Yrs 219 100 2.93 476 409 46 17 2827.1 2221 1006 919 239 760 3154 154 2.91 1.054 7.1 4.15
162 Game Avg. 17 8 2.93 37 31 4 1 217 171 77 71 18 58 242 154 2.91 1.054 7.1 4.15
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Pedro was as dominant as any pitcher ever during his prime. He won three Cy Young Awards (two were unanimous) over a four year period, while having a 4.26 career Cy Young shares. From 1997 through 2003, he averaged 17 wins per season, with a 2.20 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and had a 5.59 K:BB. Perhaps it wasn’t long enough for some, but Martinez was as good as any right-handed pitcher ever when he was in his prime.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
19 Yrs 2460 10174 8757 1349 2490 441 24 493 1550 72 1305 1882 .284 .377 .509 .886 134 4458
162 Game Avg. 162 670 577 89 164 29 2 32 102 5 86 124 .284 .377 .509 .886 134 294
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
“The Crime Dog” hasn’t had nearly enough love from BBWAA voters since he became eligible in 2010, falling to 11.7 percent of the vote last season. He didn’t reach the 500 home run plateau, but he also wasn’t one of “those guys” when it comes to the PED police. Sure, he never won an MVP, but he did earn five All-Star appearances and was the epitome of consistency by averaging a .289/.382/.515 line with 31 home runs and 97 RBI per season from 1988 through 2001 – 14 seasons!
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
16 Yrs 1874 7660 6187 1167 1626 252 6 583 1414 12 1317 1596 .263 .394 .588 .982 163 3639
162 Game Avg. 162 662 535 101 141 22 1 50 122 1 114 138 .263 .394 .588 .982 163 315
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
McGwire sort of ruined things for everyone when he was bashing with Jose Canseco in Oakland and blowing up quicker than a marshmallow in a microwave in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The “Andro” in the locker started the media’s movement to ridicule cheaters in baseball, but it wasn’t until after Bud Selig and the owners were loving the revenue and the return of baseball’s popularity. Not only did McGwire put up incredible numbers, he and Sosa’s rush towards Maris’s record helped save the game. Numbers alone (which is what players are measured on)…McGwire is in.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
23 Yrs 2502 10359 8872 1571 2605 430 113 170 980 808 1330 966 .294 .385 .425 .810 123 3771
162 Game Avg. 162 671 574 102 169 28 7 11 63 52 86 63 .294 .385 .425 .810 123 244
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Rickey Henderson was flashy and outrageous, but Raines was just as special and dynamic. Raines may be remembered for slight production for a number of years. He was at his best from 1981 through 1987, earning All-Star nods each of those seasons; however, Raines would hang around for an additional 14 seasons, producing above replacement level numbers through 1993 before his career was mostly him just lingering. Despite the shortcomings, he should be measured for his extended greatness in the 1980’s, and his ranking 5th all-time in stolen bases also helps.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
22 Yrs 2576 10947 9217 1636 2689 467 27 509 1676 253 1475 1171 .292 .393 .514 .907 140 4737
162 Game Avg. 162 688 580 103 169 29 2 32 105 16 93 74 .292 .393 .514 .907 140 298
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Another man with character flaws, Sheffield’s personality rubbed a lo t of people the wrong way; however, his production on-the-field was elite. He remains one of the top right-handed power hitters in the history of the game, and the bat-speed has made him legendary, leading to many comparisons to upcoming prospects, like the Cubs’ Javier Baez. Sheffield’s arrogance can only be matched by the impressive numbers that should lead to his admittance to Cooperstown.
Year Age Tm Lg W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 SO/W
21 Yrs 213 155 3.33 723 481 53 16 154 3473.0 3074 1391 1284 288 1010 3084 125 3.24 1.176 8.0 3.05
162 Game Avg. 12 9 3.33 41 27 3 1 9 196 174 79 73 16 57 174 125 3.24 1.176 8.0 3.05
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Smoltz had an interesting career – one that will lead many wondering if he did enough to get into the Hall of Fame. Sure, he didn’t win 300 games, but he spent four seasons in the bullpen and one season out of baseball due to Tommy John surgery. His dominance as a starter AND a reliever is what makes his case so special.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
18 Yrs 2354 9896 8813 1475 2408 379 45 609 1667 234 929 2306 .273 .344 .534 .878 128 4704
162 Game Avg. 162 681 607 102 166 26 3 42 115 16 64 159 .273 .344 .534 .878 128 324
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
A freak, whether natural or enhanced, Sosa was a monster. Like McGwire, his lore is disturbed by question marks and labels; however, for me, the numbers tell the story. He was one of the best players in baseball for an extended period of time, which allows him to rank among the game’s greatests.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
20 Yrs 2293 9376 8288 1231 2365 412 55 185 1003 236 850 874 .285 .352 .415 .767 110 3442
162 Game Avg. 162 662 586 87 167 29 4 13 71 17 60 62 .285 .352 .415 .767 110 243
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
I wrote an entire article on this several years ago and I feel that it is still relevant. Find it HERE.
Year Age Tm Lg G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
17 Yrs 1988 8030 6907 1355 2160 471 62 383 1311 230 913 1231 .313 .400 .565 .965 141 3904
162 Game Avg. 162 654 563 110 176 38 5 31 107 19 74 100 .313 .400 .565 .965 141 318
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/26/2014.
Walker’s overall number look very similar to Jeff Bagwell, and he is just as worthy of enshrinement. Injuries quickly halted Walker’s production, but his ability to produce across the board, while featuring an incredible arm in right field, made him one of the best all-around players of his era.

Is 755 Still Meaningful?

On Tuesday night, the Atlanta Braves celebrated the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron‘s 715th home run, which catapulted him past Babe Ruth for Major League Baseball’s all-time record for career home runs. Aaron’s career was finished following the 1976 season, and, while Barry Bonds and his asterisk-filled resume was able to pass him on the home run list, Aaron still holds the major league record for RBI (2,297) and total bases (6,856).

There are many numbers that people remember about baseball:
4,256. Pete Rose – career hits.
714. Babe Ruth – career home runs.
2,632. Cal Ripken, Jr. – consecutive games played.
511. Cy Young – career pitching wins.
61. Roger Maris – home runs in 1961.

756755 is also one of those numbers that is burned into the minds of baseball fans; however, it was replaced by a new record for career home runs, established on August 7, 2007, when Bonds’ 756th bomb left AT&T Park in San Francisco. Bonds would be blackballed from baseball after the 2007 season, leaving the game with 762 career home runs and a legacy tarnished by perjury charges and his link to performance-enhancing drug use.

This morning in my drive home from dropping off my daughter at school, Mike and Mike, the morning ESPN Radio show, were discussing the importance of Aaron’s numbers and what they mean to baseball today. Mike Golic made an excellent point – why can’t baseball throw away the performance-enhancing drug numbers the way that track and field does? When an athlete sets a record, wins a medal, or any other significant merits that are later tarnished by allegations and proof of cheating, those awards and records are stripped, as if they never happened. If baseball wants to keep their records clean, they, led by commissioner Bud Selig, had and have the opportunities to do such a thing. Considering the MLB Player’s Association’s unwillingness to support Barry Bonds when he was unable to find a job after the 2007 season, it would appear that the removal of records would be something that could be easily accomplished by MLB leadership.

SosaMcGwireThe integrity of the game and its records have been tarnished by the use of performance-enhancing drugs. I have long felt that Major League Baseball has had plenty of celebrated miscreants within the game, including racists, womanizers, and cheaters (Ty Cobb, Ruth, and Gaylord Perry fit those descriptions perfectly), while drugs, including “greenies” and cocaine, ran rampant throughout the game for many years undetected and overlooked. After the 1994 player’s strike, the league seemed to be perfectly happy with the home run numbers increasing and the turnstiles producing record numbers, huge revenue, and new stadiums for the good ol’ boy network of owners. Suddenly, those same home runs weren’t as attractive, and the league went after Sammy Sosa, Bonds, and Mark McGwire, instead of acknowledging that they helped to save the game. So, now that the league has moved on from the men who helped to bring it back from the dead and they’re bringing in billions of dollars in revenue through Major League Baseball Advanced Media and lucrative television contracts, they can continue to turn their back on their one-time heroes like Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire, while allowing the Hall of Fame to become a mockery of a museum thanks in large part to the attention-starved writers who now make up the voting oligarchy of Cooperstown.

So, while Hank Aaron was and continues to be a living legend and icon in the sport, is it really fair for his number, 755, to continue to be the measuring stick of power in baseball when that number has been surpassed? No…but it doesn’t mean that it has to go away and that 762 is the only number that needs to be remembered. The 714 home runs that Babe Ruth hit are still an important number in baseball, as are the 660 that Willie Mays hit.

There isn’t an asterisk needed for Barry Bonds because there wasn’t one needed for Ruth’s number to be important. Regardless of the drugs that helped Bonds produce into his 40’s, baseball remains a numbers game. We don’t put asterisks on the numbers that players put up prior to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. Wouldn’t baseball have been more competitive, as it is today, with the world’s best players on one stage, and not just the top white players?

AaronHank Aaron’s 755 will live on and his legacy of powerful longevity within Major League Baseball will last well beyond his lifetime. His number will remain meaningful as long as his story does, just as others have heard about and learned to love players from well before their lifetimes. There aren’t many who look back at the production that Ruth put up in his career without being awestruck, and the same will remain true for future baseball fans who won’t even see a game until the year 2214. Why? Because baseball remains meaningful, the players remain meaningful, and the numbers remain meaningful to those who love and are passionate about the game.

 

Starting to Feel Bad for ARod

ARod3Alex Rodriguez is a monster! Alex Rodriguez needs to disappear! Alex Rodriguez is what is wrong with baseball! Alex Rodriguez had a painting commissioned of him as a centaur! Alex Rodriguez is a whiny baby! Alex Rodriguez is overpaid!

You know, Alex Rodriguez has really messed up, and he appears to have done so several times in his career. His entire career has been under a microscope as the heir-apparent in Seattle to the great Ken Griffey, Jr., and it has only taken off with his exorbitant contracts that he has been given by the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees during his career.

Sure, what he has done with performance-enhancing drugs is an absolute atrocity to baseball, and his persona and character should be questioned for his apparent tampering with evidence and bribes that he has been linked to within the Biogenesis case, but does he deserve as much scrutiny as he is receiving?

ARod2With Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds no longer on the field, Alex Rodriguez is the face of the steroid era and all of the nastiness that it has brought to Major League Baseball. Alex Rodriguez appears to have purchased and injected steroids into all of the aforementioned superstars behinds, while helping to create the disgusting lies that led to Ryan Braun‘s successful appeal of his first failed test and his subsequent Anti-Semite comments that were directed towards the urine collector. Alex Rodriguez cheated baseball so badly over the last 20 years that he is the asterisk that is going to be next to Barry Bonds in the record book and he will become the definition and the first image that appears when you Google cheaters in baseball.

I understand that Alex Rodriguez did something terribly wrong. I understand that Alex Rodriguez wasn’t a gentleman in a game that is painted as poetic by the brilliant mind of so many writers. I understand that Alex Rodriguez is a liar, he’s flawed, he’s horrible, he’s appalling, he’s demonic, and he’s human, and while others have tried to out so many others for their mistakes, especially the 2011 NL MVP, Braun, Rodriguez is attacking his issues in the court room, or at least face-to-face with Major League Baseball, instead of lying to his teammates, slandering those around him (including a urine specimen collector), and  taking to the media to ridicule the processes.

Certainly, he isn’t innocent, but neither were all of those who came before him and along with him in the unreleased positive tests that sit in the hands of Bud Selig in the New York offices of Major League Baseball. To be labeled as the poster-child of an entire failed era of a sport…he is totally unworthy of that.

Major League Baseball turned a blind eye for so long on this issue that they are and will continue to be the group or persons who need to take the blame. There is no committee in Congress, no bottle in a locker, no investigative report by the mainstream media, and no amount of paperwork that the commissioner’s office can make public that will change the fact that owners and the league didn’t think that steroids were a problem when the gates were flooding with fans after the 1994 strike and the massively muscled power-hitters made baseball interesting again.

ARod1Alex Rodriguez is no saint, he is no victim, but he definitely isn’t the only problem, and he should not be getting attacked in the manner that he has been for the failings of those who were in charge of the game before and during his soon-to-be asterisk-ridden career.

 

When Retaliation Goes Too Far

“The Book” says that pitchers need to protect their team, but what about when this happens.

When Ian Kennedy nearly took Zack Greinke‘s head off on Tuesday night in the Diamondbacks and Dodgers game in Los Angeles, it made me wonder the value in throwing and intentionally hitting another human being with a baseball at 90-plus miles per hour.

Brawl

It isn’t because Zack Greinke makes a lot of money. It isn’t because someone shouldn’t have felt a buzzing baseball due to the aggravation and violence in the game to that point. It all boils down to the safety of an individual player.

After watching Brandon McCarthy have his skull fractured last season and Justin Morneau and other batters struggling with concussion-like symptoms from being beaned in the head, there needs to be some type of action taken to protect the individual player, and Major League Baseball should make an example out of Arizona right-hander Ian Kennedy.

There is a time and a place for intimidation, but not when a livelihood of another person is at stake.

The funny thing about the melee in Chavez Ravine on Tuesday was not the aggressive nature of Yasiel Puig and the fear that I had for the Diamondbacks when I saw his muscles and rage explode into punches, along with Ronald Belisario, but the fact that old, retired players, like Don Mattingly, Don Baylor, Charles Nagy, Matt Williams, and Mark McGwire seemed to be the instigators to the continued rumble. Maybe it was the “gritty” nature of Gibson’s Diamondback squad or the “gritty” philosophy that the Dodgers and Mattingly are trying to develop that led to this brawl, but should the coaches be the issue in moments like this? Is that embarrassing for baseball when they are?

After seeing Aroldis Chapman intimidate Nick Swisher when the Reds faced off against the Indians in late May, isn’t that how you could make known your unhappiness?

I played baseball and I know that I hit people on purpose, mostly because I didn’t like them, but I was 13 and 14 years old, throwing about 70-75 miles per hour tops.

What Kennedy did crossed the line. Throwing at someone’s head is totally uncalled for, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is suspended for 12 to 15 games for his actions on Tuesday night. Anything less isn’t enough. It is time for pitchers who purposely throw at opposing hitters to actually feel the wrath of a suspension, not have their turn pushed back a day or two, but to really hurt the club by sitting, unused, on a 25-man roster, hurting their team by having to play a man short. When Carlos Quentin tackled Zack Greinke after being hit, breaking Greinke’s collarbone, I heard rumblings of how Quentin should have been suspended until Greinke was able to play again, something that Mattingly actually stated. What if Greinke was never able to pitch again? What if someone got hit in the face and a career was ruined, like Tony Conigliaro?

There are too many questions about what could happen to the batter when they are thrown at on purpose. It may be a part of “The Book”, but maybe it’s time for an updated volume.

Should MLB Allow PEDs?

Braun BALCO and Biogenesis have changed how players have tried to manipulate the game through the use of synthetic hormones to gain advantages over their counterparts; however, as more names come out in reports, including those of Alex Rodriguez, Gio Gonzalez, and Ryan Braun, should Major League Baseball look into the actual advantages that come from the use of performance-enhancing drugs?

Bonds1As football overlooked head injuries for nearly 85 years of the NFL, baseball turned a blind eye to the testosterone-infused, giant-headed record breakers in Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, watching the revenue flow and the turnstiles rotate as attendance rebounded from the 1994 strike.

Once things retuned to normal, then, and only then, was it considered a crime in Major League Baseball to use steroids. After riding on the coat tails of their superstars, they then made them villains, not showing any support for the stars as they reached retirement and, now, eligibility for the Hall of Fame.

Certainly, possessing steroids without medical need or a prescription is a crime in the real world, so it shouldn’t have been overlooked, and the Mitchell Report changed the game and has made the attack of doping dopes in baseball a journalistic norm, as The Miami New Times joined The San Francisco Chronicle in the scooping business.

But…are performance-enhancing drugs bad for the game?

According to Livestrong.com, side effects from Human Growth Hormone (HGH)research states:

Several studies have tried to determine the efficacy of HGH and any potential side effects, with one of the most important being the 2002 JAMA study, conducted jointly by researchers from the National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University over a period of 26 weeks. There were several common milder side effects from HGH supplements that included joint pain, swelling and carpal tunnel syndrome. The more serious side effects included an increase in glucose intolerance and diabetes among male subjects. None of the women developed those conditions, although they were more likely to suffer edema, a type of fluid retention that causes swelling. All side effects, even including diabetes, disappeared two to six weeks after treatment was discontinued.

As far as long-term effects of steroid use, Livestrong.com reports that growth inhibition, weight gain, behavioral changes, diabetes, liver and heart damage, and sexual and reproductive disorders.
williemaysObviously, HGH and steroids have extreme risk, but drugs have been a part of the game for decades to enhance player performance. Brett Bush wrote a great story, referencing Joe Posnanski and Jerry Crasnick, detailing amphetamine use by Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Jim Bunning, while also including Pete Rose in the discussion.
So, why would steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs be such a huge, damning character flaw today? Are they that much more potent than what previous generations used, or can Bud Selig and Major League Baseball not take the public being fully aware of the statistical-embellishments by “cheaters” to their precious record books?
In today’s day and age, Americans have a sense of entitlement, even in their entertainment, demanding the highest quality product. Could the best product be athletes who are genetically and chemically-enhanced?
For baseball, especially with the ever-growing popularity of football, could the increase in performance that could come along with “juicing” be what it takes to get back into the America’s pastime conversation?
If the players are willing to take the risks needed to chemically altar their bodies for the sake of entertainment and production, should the fans and Major League Baseball be the judges in their long-term health?
I say no. Let baseball go crazy. Let players cheat because that is what they have always done. Why should we judge character now when it was never the case before, even for the game’s squeeky-clean.

Stan Was The Man

Musial3When Stan Musial passed away on January 19th, the baseball world lost a special talent and person. Commishioner Bud Selig stated:

Major League Baseball has lost one of its true legends in Stan Musial, a Hall of Famer in every senese and a man who led a great American life. He was the heart and soul of the historic St. Louis Cardinals franchise for generations, and he served his country during World War II. A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, Stan’s life embodies baseball’s unparalleled history and why this game is the national pastime.

As remarkable as ‘Stan the Man’ was on the field, he was a true gentleman in life. All of Major League Baseball mourns his passing, and we extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends, admirers and all the fans of the Cardinals.

It is amazing, in the age of recognizing immediate achievement over the long-term success of players, how quickly people turn away their focus from Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Albert Pujols, and David Ortiz for the next big thing. How quick were some voters to write-off Miguel Cabrera‘s performance in 2012, a Triple Crown season, because of the tremendous first season that Mike Trout produced.

Greatness in consistency is overlooked so often in baseball. Certainly, while Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa were off belting numerous home runs in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the names of Jeff Bagwell, Fred McGriff, and other non-juiced power-hitters (show me something that shows that they were), seemed to be forgotten, even in Hall of Fame voting today.

Stan Musial was consistently great, posting a career slash of .331/.417/.559, a career OPS of .976.

Did you think what Mike Trout did in 2012 was special? His .963 OPS was still lower than Musial’s CAREER OPS, which he put together over 22 seasons.

His 162-game average would leave him with 39 doubles, 25 home runs, 104 RBI, and 328 total bases. Using a WAR calculator, Musial’s average season was worth a 6.0 WAR and he would be worth $26.9 million in salary. Musial’s typical season was between All-Star and MVP level, which makes sense, as he appeared in 20 All-Star games and won three NL MVP awards.

Musial1Using WAR as a measuring tool for the value of a player may be relatively new, but it helps to put things into perspective over the long-haul. Taking a look at Musial’s career over the history of the game, WAR places “The Man” as the 12th best player of all-time. Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Barry Bonds, Walter Johnson, Willie Mays, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Roger Clemens, Tris Speaker, Honus Wagner, and Rogers Hornsby rank ahead of Musial, with Ted Williams sliding in right behind him. Taking away the two Steroid Era players would put Musial as the 10th best player of all-time.

Musial has 6.96 MVP shares, second only to Bonds and his 9.30. Musial had 6,134 career total bases, second only to Aaron and his 6,856. Looking at most statistics, Musial isn’t first in anything, but he is right there near the top:

  • 7 NL Batting Titles
  • .331 career batting average, 30th all-time
  • .417 on-base percentage, 22nd all-time
  • .559 slugging percentage, 19th all-time
  • .976 OPS, 13th all-time
  • 3,026 games played, 6th all-time
  • 1,949 runs scored, 9th all-time
  • 3,630 hits, 4th all-time
  • 725 doubles, 2nd all-time
  • 177 triples, 19th all-time
  • 475 home runs, 28th all-time
  • 1,951 RBI, 6th all-time
  • 2,253 singles, 18th all-time
  • 1,599 walks, 13th all-time
  • 1,377 extra-base hits, 3rd all-time

Musial wasn’t the career leader in home runs, he doesn’t have the most MVP awards, and he isn’t recognized in the same breath as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Ted Williams as the greatest hitters of all-time, at least not by many. In fact, my wife, who has become quite the baseball aficionado since succumbing to my strange fanaticism and obsession, didn’t know who Musial was, even after watching Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary.

Stan “The Man” Musial was one of the greatest baseball players of all-time. He served our country, missing the 1945 season (his age-24 season) while serving in the military, returning in 1946 to hit .365 while winning his 2nd MVP award. His career is an example of an elite talent, containing 22 years of tremendous success, with numbers that show remarkable skill with longevity.

Musial4Musial was a legend. A treasure to the game of baseball. An example of courage and determination. With his passing, it is necessary for those who didn’t know how special he was to take a second and put it all together.

It is time for baseball fans to take a glimpse out onto the field in the 2013 season and look at those aging players like Jeter, Ortiz, and Rivera, and know just how special they were during their great careers. While it is enticing to get caught up in the hype of the young talent in MLB, these players are gone so soon. Greatness on the diamond creates stories that can be passed down from generation to generation, allowing for all people to recognize the impact that a single player has on the game.

With Musial’s passing, fans need to commemorate the achievements of the legends that are immortalized in Cooperstown, focusing not on comparing Bryce Harper to Stan Musial, but just on how special Musial was.

2013 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot and Voting Issues

biggioESPN.com reported that only Craig Biggio was likely to be voted into Cooperstown when the ballots were official on Wednesday. Like all ESPN information, they used their own voters, all 18 of them, to determine how the other 560-plus voters would feel, using their small sample size to create a great generalization. Biggio missed out in 2013 and there won’t be any players voted in for the 2013 season after the Hall of Fame vote became public at 2 PM on January 9.

I am not a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and I am not sure that I will ever be; however, if I eventually get there, I know that I will fight to make a point with my vote: to vote for players who are worthy for enshrinement based on their accomplishments, not a vendetta. Each member of the BBWAA receives a ballot, on which, they can vote for up to 10 players each year. If I had a 2013 ballot, I would have voted for:

  1. Barry Bonds
  2. Roger Clemens
  3. Craig Biggio
  4. Mike Piazza
  5. Jeff Bagwell
  6. Alan Trammell
  7. Rafael Palmeiro
  8. Dale Murphy
  9. Tim Raines
  10. Mark McGwire

Bonds1Honorable mentions include: Kenny Lofton, Fred McGriff, and Sammy Sosa.

I don’t feel as though I need to make a case for any of the players above. If you don’t know who they are or what they did, click on the hyperlink to view their statistics at Baseball Reference. I have made cases for both Dale Murphy and Alan Trammell previously, so you can read further there.

Furthermore, I wanted to vent…

How can a player be unworthy of a vote one season and worth one the next? In 2011, Jeff Bagwell received 41.7 percent of the vote. In 2012, Bagwell received 56 percent of the vote with 59.6 percent in 2013. Jeff Bagwell’s accomplishments never changed. The number of voters who turned in ballots may have, but how can a player not receive your vote one season and they get it the next. Understandably, a player like Kenny Lofton or Fred McGriff may miss votes on the current ballot due to the presence of so many quality players on the ballot this year. Is that the reason for a 15 percent increase in Bagwell’s numbers, or is it the “I-refuse-to-vote-for-someone-in-their-first-year-of-eligibility-because-no-one-has-ever-had-100-percent-of-the-vote” mentality?

What if one-third of the voters took that approach? No one would ever get in!

John Fay, of the Cincinnati Enquirer, decided to not turn in a ballot in 2013. Why? Because he didn’t want to “play judge and jury this year.” Unfortunately, every year that a member, or the members, of the BBWAA turn in a ballot, that is what they are doing. Their votes are and have been the deciding factor in who gets enshrined in Cooperstown. Basing this on the rule that “voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played,” as Fay has is a total cop-out.

The Hall of Fame is littered with racists and bigots (Ty Cobb), adulterers (Babe Ruth), drunks (Mickey Mantle), and potential drug addicts.  The 1960’s and 1970’s were dominated by players who could have used “greenies” or amphetamines to keep themselves up for an entire season. When you don’t test for drugs or steroids, whether they are illegal in the “real world” or not, then you are open to players abusing the system, and character flaws have been overlooked since voting for the Hall of Fame began.

Bonds1While Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds have been tied to steroid use, baseball wasn’t testing for it and the game was recovering from the 1994 strike, basking in the glory of the long-ball to draw fans. As baseballs sailed into the Pacific Ocean beyond right field in San Francisco and out onto the streets of Chicago, Bud Selig was not upset as stadiums were filled with people again. Should the Steroid Era players be put in for their accomplishments AND the contributions that they made in saving the game?

Baseball is a game of statistics. Why is the sport held to a gentleman expectation? While there have been several unwritten rules, there just isn’t room for the greatest players, cheaters or not (hello Gaylord Perry!), to be withheld from being recognized as the greatest players ever due to a moral vendetta, especially when so many players are included who had greater personal flaws.

As the BBWAA completed their vote and it was announced, we sit here with so many players sitting at home for another season, waiting for their opportunity to travel to Cooperstown as an elected member of the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, some of those players will be “good enough” next year. There are so many things wrong with the voting process for baseball’s greatest museum, and the writers proved their point today.

The players are the people who fans want to see. Fans DO NOT  care about the writers. Do your job and vote for the greats, otherwise, it is all a sham.

Omar Vizquel: A non-Hall of Famer

Some writers for the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have picked sides on whether certain players are worthy of the Hall of Fame based on their willingness, or lack thereof, to interview, how they were treated by the player, and whether or not the player did anything illegal during their playing days. While the Steroid Era players are eligible for the Hall of Fame in droves right now, how Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire perform once ballot results are released will be very interesting news.

vizquel1The point here, though, is that longtime shortstop Omar Vizquel shouldn’t ever be considered for the Hall of Fame.

Vizquel was a great defensive shortstop, posting an incredible .985 career fielding percentage over 24 seasons and 22,960.2 innings at short. Some, like NESN’s Tim Culverhouse, think that Vizquel is a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. I disagree, and this is why:

  1. Vizquel played in 24 seasons and finished his career with 2,877 hits. He failed to reach the 3,000 milestone. Not that nearly 2,900 hits is a bad career, but the only players to participate in more seasons than Vizquel with 24 or more seasons were Rickey Henderson, Eddie Collins, Cap Anson, Ty Cobb, and Pete Rose, all of whom accumulated more than 3,000 hits. Vizquel only reached 2,877 due to his longevity and he only had that longevity on one tool – his glove – which wasn’t enough to make him an asset for at least the final seven years of his career.
  2. Vizquel only posted a WAR above two in 10 of his 24 seasons. Why is the number two important for WAR? Anything less than a two is considered a reserve and anything less than zero is a replacement level player. Vizquel posted 10 seasons below a two WAR and four seasons with a NEGATIVE WAR. He literally cost his team games, even with his stellar defense.
  3. Vizquel’s career WAR was only 40.5 over his 24 seasons. Barry Larkin, a 2012 Cooperstown inductee, had a 67.1 WAR and Alan Trammell, who also had a 67.1 WAR and won a World Series MVP, is still waiting and on his 12th ballot this year. His WAR7, which are his best seven seasons, was just 24.8, 61st among shortstops, below such stars as Tony Fernandez, Scott Fletcher, and the great Dave Concepcion (who should probably  get in for accomplishing as much or more than Luis Aparicio and Vizquel).
  4. Vizquel’s career slash of .272/.336/.352 would leave him 16th out of 22 shortstops, if he were to be enshrined, in batting average, 17th in on-base percentage, and 20th in slugging percentage.
  5. Using Total Zone Runs (the number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made), Vizquel was the 5th best shortstop in baseball since 1951, when the stat started being used. He was behind Ozzie Smith (239), Mark Belanger (238), Cal Ripken (176), and Luis Aparicio (149), with his 134 mark. If defense is the deciding factor on the value that Vizquel provided, why isn’t Mark Belanger in the Hall of Fame? Because he hit .228/.300/.280 and posted a 37.6 WAR, not too far behind Vizquel’s 40.5, right?

vizquel2Vizquel does have some strengths to point out when considering him for the Hall of Fame:

  1. The only players with more hits than Vizquel who are not currently in the Hall of Fame are: Pete Rose, Derek Jeter, Craig Biggio, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds, and Alex Rodriguez. A couple of those guys are still active, obviously, and Biggio looks like the only inactive who is going to be a lock due to the asterisk-ridden nature of the Steroid Era and its players (Jeter will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, while others will rely on the whims of the voters from year to year).
  2. The only shortstop with a higher career fielding percentage is Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies, whose .9851 fielding percentage is just a tick higher than Vizquel’s .9847. Vizquel’s 11 Gold Gloves are a bit more impressive than Tulowitzki’s two, but Tulo is just 27 and has several years left. Whether he maintains his fielding abilities is yet to be seen, but Vizquel was, clearly, one of the best, if not the best, defensive shortstops in the history of the game.

Omar Vizquel was a fine player and a great asset defensively; however, his longevity (24 seasons) was the only reason why he was able to accumulate so many hits.

Take, for example, Juan Pierre. The slap-hitting outfielder has a career .297/.346/.363 line with 2,141 career hits. If he plays 10 more seasons and retires after his age-44 season, receiving 300 at-bats per year and posting a .297 average, he’ll finish his career with 3,032 career hits. Is Juan Pierre a Hall of Famer due to longevity?

vizquel3For all of the Gold Gloves and 2,877 hits, Omar Vizquel wasn’t special enough to be a Hall of Famer. If players who accumulated more statistics, championships, and glory aren’t in, why should Vizquel be?

Greatest Rookie Ever?

Mike Trout just turned 21 years old on August 7. He has given baseball fans plenty of gifts this season with an incredible rookie season, which has led to some speculation that he could win the American League MVP, along with the Rookie of the Year award. His season still has some time to play out, but his .345/.409/.597 line with 21 doubles, five triples, 21 home runs, 60 RBI, and a league leading 36 steals has already left the youngster with a 7.0 WAR. He already ranks among the greatest rookies ever and he could be on his way to becoming the best player in baseball very soon, if he isn’t already.

Looking at his incredible season led me to wonder who had the best rookie year ever. Here are my top ten rookie seasons since the Rookie of the Year was established in 1947:

1) Jackie Robinson, 1947, 5th in MVP Voting

.297/.383/.427, 151 G, 175 H, 31 2B, 5 3B, 12 HR, 48 RBI, 29 SB, 3.0 WAR

Jackie Robinson gets the No.1 spot for more than just his results. Not only did he break the color barrier in MLB, but he posted these numbers with teammates that wouldn’t speak to him and opposing players and fans who slandered him on and off of the field.

2) Fred Lynn, 1975, AL MVP

.331/.401/.566, 145 G, 175 H, 47 2B, 7 3B, 21 HR, 105 RBI, 10 SB, 7.1 WAR

Lynn led the Red Sox to the World Series in his rookie year and was the first rookie to win an MVP, as well. Lynn’s rookie season would have to rate as his second best season in his career, though he never won another MVP while making nine All-Star teams.

3) Ichiro Suzuki, 2001, AL MVP

.350/.381/.457, 157 G, 242 H, 34 2B, 8 3B, 8 HR, 69 RBI, 56 SB, 7.5 WAR

Ichiro was not your typical, young rookie, having arrived in the United States at the age of 27 from Japan. His speed and powerful arm in right field changed the Mariners for years. He would easily have 3,000 hits and would be closing in or beyond 4,000 hits for his career if he had played his whole career in the States, but 2,548 isn’t bad for now! The second Rookie of the Year to win the MVP, Ichiro led the Mariners to 116 wins in 2001 before they lost to the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

4) Frank Robinson, 1956, 7th in MVP Voting

.290/.379/.558, 152 G, 166 H, 27 2B, 6 3B, 38 HR, 83 RBI, 8 SB, 6.2 WAR

The future Hall of Famer came into the league with a bang. He immediately became a force to be wreckoned with in Cincinnati.

5) Albert Pujols, 2001, 4th in MVP Voting

.329/.403/.610, 161 G, 194 H, 47 2B, 4 3B, 37 HR, 130 RBI, 1 SB, 6.3 WAR

Pujols jumped from Low-A Peoria in 2000 to the majors in 2001. He hasn’t had to look back. Pujols has established himself as one of the greatest sluggers in the history of baseball. He struggled at the start of the 2012 season for his new club, the Los Angeles Angels, but he has his stats back to their typically mind-blowing status. He is a three-time MVP, and I may be selling his first season short at No.5.

6) Ryan Braun, 2007, 24th in MVP Voting

.324/.370/.634, 113 G, 146 H, 26 2B, 6 3B, 34 HR, 97 RBI, 15 SB, 1.8 WAR

If Braun wasn’t such an attrocious fielder in his rookie year, his WAR would have been much higher. He had an .895 fielding percentage at third base, which was just a touch lower than the league average of .954. Braun, juicing or not, has established himself as a superstar, and he will be in Milwaukee longer than the Miller Brewing Company with his current contract.

7) Nomar Garciaparra, 1997, 8th in MVP Voting

.306/.342/.534, 153 G, 209 H, 44 2B, 11 3B, 30 HR, 98 RBI, 22 SB, 6.5 WAR

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOMAH!!! The man could fill up a box score in his rookie year, and he was a beloved figure in Boston due to his name being awesome to say with a Boston accent, and his ability. He came into the league around the same time as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Miguel Tejada, and Barry Larkin’s 1995 MVP season made the shortstop position a sexy offensive position. Together with Cal Ripken and the others, Nomar helped change the shortstop position, and his rookie year was statistically magical.

8) Mike Piazza, 1993, 9th in MVP Voting

.318/.370/.561, 149 G, 174 H, 24 2B, 2 3B, 35 HR, 112 RBI, 3 SB, 6.8 WAR

Piazza was selected by the Dodgers as a favor to Tommy LaSorda, his godfather. Sometimes, lightening strikes. Piazza was one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time. His rookie season was outstanding and the 62nd round pick only made 11 All-Star games. Nice find. Great season.

9) Mark McGwire, 1987, 6th in MVP Voting

.289/.370/.618, 151 G, 161 H, 28 2B, 4 3B, 49 HR, 118 RBI, 1 SB, 4.8 WAR

Before the reporters snooped into his locker and before McGwire and Sammy Sosa made baseball cool again after the 1994 player’s strike, “Big Mac” was a skinny, 23-year-old who hit 49 bombs in his rookie year. It is scary to think of the numbers he would have finished with if he wasn’t hurt so often during his career, playing in 1874 games over 16 years (117 games played per year).

10) Fernando Valenzuela, 1981, 5th in MVP Voting and NL Cy Young Winner

13-7, 2.48 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11 CG, 8 SHO, 192.1 IP, 180:61 K:BB, 4.6 WAR

Fernando-mania! The hefty-lefty took the baseball world by storm in 1981, winning the NL Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young. Eight SHUTOUT! 11 COMPLETE GAMES! Was Dusty Baker the manager of the Dodgers then!? The good ol’ days, where innings and pitch counts were just as overlooked as amphetamene use. Good stuff.

Honorable Mention:

Dustin Pedroia, 2007; Jason Bay, 2004; Scott Rolen, 1997; Derek Jeter, 1996; Raul Mondesi, 1994; Jeff Bagwell, 1991; David Justice, 1990; Vince Coleman, 1985; Dwight Gooden, 1984; Mark Fidrych, 1976; Carlton Fisk, 1972; Johnny Bench, 1968; Tony Oliva, 1964; Willie McCovey, 1959; Orlando Cepeda, 1958; Willie Mays, 1951;

Where do you think Trout ranks among the greatest rookie seasons ever? Share your thoughts on the poll!