Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Thoughts on the 2019 Hall of Fame class

This year's inductees to Cooperstown are a tale of two electoral bodies. While I hate the media, I'll give the BBWAA credit for getting this year's election right: Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Roy Halladay are all, in my mind, worthy of induction, so congratulations to them. It was well deserved.

The Veterans Committee, on the other hand, laid a giant egg. Harold Baines and Lee Smith were both fine players, but neither one reached the heights I would expect from a legitimate Hall of Famer.

I suppose you could make the argument that Lee Smith was one of the most dominant relievers in the game in the '80s, but once the '90s came around, he became a consistent-but-not-dominant one-inning closer. To me, that makes him nothing but a guy who had a good career. By the time I started following baseball in the '90s, I don't recall anyone talking about him as though he were a legend. He was most notable for being the all-time saves leader for a while, but then, so was Jeff Reardon. Granted, it's not as though a great player can't slip below the radar, but in this case, I think the general perception is about right.

Baines is another guy who got a lot of talk but ultimately no induction from the writers. He was a beloved player on Chicago's South Side during the '80s, and in the '90s he made a good career out of being a veteran bat for potential contenders to round out their lineup with. Like the word "feared" with Jim Rice, the label Baines acquired was "professional hitter." It suited him well, as he was primarily a DH from 1987 on, and he was pretty consistent year after year. He was never, however, a serious MVP candidate, nor did he ever hit more than 29 homers in a season. According to Baseball Reference, his 162 Game Average is 22 homers, 93 RBI, and a .289/.356/.465 batting line. Not bad, but when the only reason you have a job is to wield the lumber, you need to do much better than that if you want to be considered an immortal. Really disappointed in this choice, even more so than Smith.

The Hall of Fame voters have made a lot of blunders over the years, and the more they make in this era of better data, it gets harder for me to take induction all that seriously. Still, it's nice to see the truly great players get recognized, so my hat is off to them.

The Hall of Famers' First Major League Home Runs post has been appropriately updated.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Who Was the Lowest Drafted Signee to Make the Majors?

Drafting in professional sports, as we all know, is an inexact science. History is littered with "can't-miss" prospects who did just that, and unheralded players who rose to stardom. The general trend, however, is in the direction of higher draft picks succeeding more often than lower ones.

The vast majority of players drafted in baseball never make it to the majors, and some choose not to play professional baseball at all. But of those late-rounders who ended up signing with the teams that drafted them, which ones actually defied the odds and made it to the big leagues?

That was the question on my mind when I compiled the following list. I went year by year to find out who the lowest drafted signee to make the majors was. There are some cases where a future major leaguer was drafted later than the player on the list, but he's disqualified because he didn't sign that year.

1965Otis ThorntonAstros68-0.2
1966Rusty TorresYankees54-0.5
1967Roger HambrightYankees670.0
1968Tim PlodinecCardinals33-0.1
1969Al CowensRoyals7515.3
1970Bake McBrideCardinals3722.7
1971Keith HernandezCardinals4260.4
1972Butch AlbertsPirates28-0.1
1973Eric RasmussenCardinals325.1
1974Bobby CuellarRangers290.2
1975LaRue WashingtonRangers23-0.2
1976Jay HowellReds3115.0
1977Neil FialaCardinals320.0
1978Vance LawPirates3910.6
1979Joel SkinnerPirates370.0
1980Walt TerrellRangers3310.7
1981Glen CookRangers24-1.2
1982Mike YorkYankees40-0.7
1983Joe KlinkMets360.6
1984Tom GillesYankees470.0
1985Rico RossyOrioles331.4
1986Doug LintonBlue Jays43-0.7
1987Jeff ConineRoyals5819.5
1988Mike PiazzaDodgers6259.6
1989Mike GarciaTigers55-0.6
1990Danny YoungAstros83-0.4
1991Charles GipsonMariners630.8
1992Anthony ChavezAngels500.4
1993Jason MaxwellCubs74-0.1
1994Jose SantiagoRoyals701.2
1995Gabe KaplerTigers578.7
1996Travis PhelpsDevil Rays890.8
1997Orlando HudsonBlue Jays4330.9
1998Scott AtchisonMariners493.5
1999Jason BottsRangers460.3
2000Anthony FerrariExpos440.0

As one quickly observes via the WAR column, most of these guys didn't have very noteworthy careers. Only eleven finished their careers with more than five wins above replacement, as many as finished with a negative value. Still, you have to hand it to these guys, proving every doubter wrong and outplaying the apparent better choices. One of them, Mike Piazza, is even in the Hall of Fame, and the WAR leader is Keith Hernandez, who has a good case of his own.

I stopped the list at 2000 because I wanted to give any late-drafted guys who might have a late-career major league debut a chance to get to the Show. I may update this thing in the future.

Since this'll probably be my last post of the year, I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Annual Updates 2018

After an anticlimactic postseason that saw the Red Sox win it again (and where my predictions were a big pile of LOL), it's time for the annual updates to our ongoing lists.


Rookie of the Year Facts
The Second Place Award Winners
The Run That Clinched It

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Playoff Predictions: 2018 Edition

On what I believe was the first day in Major League history with two tiebreakers played, both teams I was rooting for lost. Needless to say, I'm not terribly thrilled as I write this post. But I have a duty to the baseball community to record these predictions which will almost certainly be wrong so that we can all have a good laugh over them someday. My preseason prediction was a Yankees-Dodgers World Series. Do I stand by that prediction? Let's just take this round by round.

Stupid Wild Card Games That Nobody Wanted

Cubs over Rockies
Yankees over Athletics

While it was fun pulling for the Rockies as they marched to the playoffs, the fact remains that they simply are not a great team. The Cubs have much more depth, and when you throw in the fact that Chicago has home field advantage, they're the easy favorite here. Obviously, anything can happen in one game, but I'm going with what I think is the more likely outcome.

As for the American League, I think the Yankees have just a bit more magic on their side, and I'm not going to bet against them.

Division Series

Brewers over Cubs
Dodgers over Braves
Yankees over Red Sox
Indians over Astros

The way the Brewers have been playing lately, I don't think my beloved Cubs are in a very favorable position if they face them. They've been unbeatable. If you recall, I actually picked them at the beginning of the season to be the surprise division winner, so I'm not always wrong.

I'm taking the Dodgers over the Braves, just because I'm not confident that the Braves are all there yet. The Dodgers have been a lot better in recent postseasons than earlier this decade, and I think they have the be the favorite this year too.

Yankees over the Red Sox? The Red Sox team that won 108 games? Yes, I'm going to make a bold prediction that the juggernaut from Boston is actually overrated and will choke in the first round like the Indians did last year. Besides, this Yankee team ain't exactly Jell-O pudding, with 100 wins of their own.

But wait...I'm also predicting the Indians will beat the powerhouse Astros? Now I'm just loony, right? Two huge first round upsets in the same league? I'll admit that the Astros are a much better team than this year's Indians, but the postseason really is a crapshoot, and I think these Indians could pull it off. They have unfinished business from last year, and they might be just a little more determined than the defending champs.

League Championship Series

Brewers over Dodgers
Indians over Yankees

So it looks like I'm not sticking with my preseason pennant predictions! I have both of them losing in the LCS.

First, the Brewers. I think their momentum has given them the confidence to ride this thing all the way to the World Series. They're playing like a team whose time has come, and despite them beating the Cubs, I have to tip my hat to them. This team looks special.

Indians over the Yankees? Yup. The Indians looked like a team of destiny last year, but the Yankees spoiled the party in the first round. Remember that unfinished business I mentioned above? Yep. It's time for the Indians to get their payback.

World Series

Indians over Brewers

Remember the Cardinals of 2004-06? In 2004, they won 100 games and the pennant, but lost to the Red Sox, who were breaking the once-famous 86-year drought. In 2005, they won 100 games again, but this time they lost in the LCS to the Astros. In 2006, they squeaked into the playoffs by winning a weak division, but unlike the prior two years, they won the whole thing. Go figure.

I'm predicting the Indians to follow a similar pattern: Lose to a team getting a monkey off its back, lose before the World Series, then win the World Series with a team whose record isn't that impressive but played in a weak division. We have the precedent. It's all there for the Indians' taking. Can this be Cleveland's year? That's what I'm going with. And unlike last year, I might even be correct.

So there you have my predictions. Be sure to come back in a month and have a good chuckle at how wrong they were!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Oldest Ringless Players: 2018 Edition

And then there were ten! With the elimination of the Cardinals this afternoon, we now know who our ten postseason teams are, and we can check out this year's edition of the Oldest Ringless Players!

Atlanta Braves: Peter Moylan (b. December 2, 1978)
Boston Red Sox: Brandon Phillips (b. June 28, 1981)
Chicago Cubs: Jorge De La Rosa (b. April 5, 1981)
Cleveland Indians: Rajai Davis (b. October 19, 1980)
Colorado Rockies: Chris Iannetta (b. April 8, 1983)
Houston Astros: Martin Maldonado (b. August 16, 1986)
Los Angeles Dodgers: Rich Hill (b. March 11, 1980)
Milwaukee Brewers: Curtis Granderson (b. March 16, 1981)
New York Yankees: Neil Walker (b. September 10, 1985)
Oakland Athletics: Fernando Rodney (b. March 18, 1977)

This crew feels different than most past editions. Fernando Rodney seems like he's shown up here a lot, but the others, not so much. The Rockies deserve an asterisk, since Seunghwan Oh is older than Iannetta and has never won a Major League World Series, but he's won several Korean Series, so I don't think he should count.

I'll be back with my predictions for the playoffs once we have all the races settled.