Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Obligatory Hall of Fame Update: 2018

We have six new Hall of Famers for 2018, and that means the list of Hall of Famers' first major league home runs has been updated.

My thoughts on our new inductees? In brief:

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Alan Trammell are all deserving, and I'm glad they got in.

Vladimir Guerrero was more of a borderline case, but he had the traditional numbers and the peak value to be a selection I won't complain too much about.

Trevor Hoffman was one of the most overrated players of all-time, but he was perceived as a future Hall of Famer throughout his career, so I guess it was inevitable. It's a shame that those save totals mean so much to voters. Billy Wagner was probably just as good, but with less-gaudy numbers.

And then there's Jack Morris. There's a selection that makes me angry. When he finally dropped off the BBWAA ballot, I breathed a sigh of relief that we wouldn't have to hear about his overrated career any longer. But then this Veteran's Committee thing decides to put him in. What a joke. The guy was never anything but a good, sturdy starter. He never had any dominant seasons. Yes, Pitching a 10-inning shutout in Game 7 of the World Series is a fine achievement, but it puts him in the Mazeroski Zone of worthiness. A fine career plus a legendary Game 7 are enough for a Cooperstown Plaque, apparently. I'm calling it now: Madison Bumgarner has already got his spot locked up.

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Last Living Players From the 1940s

Since we said goodbye to Bobby Doerr in 2017, it's only fitting that we now start keeping track of the last living players from the 1940s. At this point, there are still quite a few out there, and it'll probably be another ten years or so before we get to the last of the last. Before we do though, let's review who the last known survivors were of previous decades:

1870s: Charles Witherow (d. July 3, 1948)
1880s: Dummy Hoy (d. December 15, 1961)
1890s: Charlie Emig (d. October 2, 1975)
1900s: Smoky Joe Wood (d. July 27, 1985)
1910s: Red Hoff (d. September 17, 1998)
1920s: Al Lopez (d. October 30, 2005)
1930s: Bobby Doerr (d. November 13, 2017)

Now the list of the still-living 1940s MLBers as of December 22, 2017:

Chuck Stevens (b. July 10, 1918)
Fred Caligiuri (b. October 22, 1918)
Tom Jordan (b. September 5, 1919)
Bill Mills (b. November 2, 1919)
Val Heim (b. November 4, 1920)
Wally Westlake (b. November 8, 1920)
Eddie Robinson (b. December 15, 1920)
George Elder (b. March 10, 1921)
Clint Conatser (b. July 24, 1921)
Marv Rackley (b. July 25, 1921)
Johnny Hetki (b. May 12, 1922)
Gil Coan (b. May 18, 1922)
Eddie Basinski (b. November 4, 1922)
George Yankowski (b. November 19, 1922)
Red Schoendienst (b. February 2, 1923)
Len Okrie (b. July 16, 1923)
Lee Howard (b. November 11, 1923)
Ed Fitz Gerald (b. May 21, 1924)
Milt Welch (b. July 26, 1924)
Charlie Silvera (b. October 13, 1924)
Bobby Brown (b. October 25, 1924)
Fenton Mole (b. June 14, 1925)
Wayne Terwilliger (b. June 27, 1925)
Larry Miggins (b. August 20, 1925)
Billy DeMars (b. August 26, 1925)
Bobby Shantz (b. September 26, 1925)
Chris Haughey (b. October 3, 1925)
Howie Judson (b. February 16, 1926)
Dick Koecher (b. March 30, 1926)
Don Newcombe (b. June 14, 1926)
Bob Miller (b. June 16, 1926)
Johnny Groth (b. July 23, 1926)
Al Naples (b. August 29, 1926)
Carl Erskine (b. December 13, 1926)
Carl Scheib (b. January 1, 1927)
Don Hasenmayer (b. April 4, 1927)
Dick Lane (b. June 28, 1927)
Rocky Krsnich (b. August 5, 1927)
Cloyd Boyer (b. September 1, 1927)
Tommy Brown (b. December 6, 1927)
Curt Simmons (b. May 19, 1929)
Del Crandall (b. March 5, 1930)
Johnny Antonelli (b. April 12, 1930)

Like the 1930s list, we'll keep track of who's still living here. Hopefully these guys have several more years left in them, so we can appreciate the link they provide to a bygone era.

Also, on behalf of all of us at Baseball Junk Drawer, have yourself a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Annual Updates 2017

So after a year where the Astros got themselves off the "franchises that have never won a World Series" list, we lost the last living major leaguer from the 1930s, and the Indians won an American League-record 22 consecutive games, all the major awards are now in the bag, effectively bringing the 2017 baseball season to its conclusion. A few pages have been updated to reflect the most recent information:

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

Monday, October 2, 2017

Oldest Ringless Players & Playoff Predictions: 2017 Edition

Yes, it's that time of year again. We're here to look at the soon-to-start postseason and the players who've been waiting the longest for that elusive championship ring. Here we are with the postseason teams (including the stupid second Wild Card that nobody wanted) and their oldest bare-fingered roster occupant:

Arizona Diamondbacks: Fernando Rodney (March 18, 1977)
Boston Red Sox: Rajai Davis (October 19, 1980)
Chicago Cubs: Brian Duensing (February 22, 1983)
Cleveland Indians: Edwin Encarnacion (January 7, 1983)
Colorado Rockies: Ryan Hanigan (August 16, 1980)
Houston Astros: Carlos Beltran (April 24, 1977)
Los Angeles Dodgers: Rich Hill (March 11, 1980)
Minnesota Twins: Bartolo Colon (May 24, 1973)
New York Yankees: Chase Headley (May 9, 1984)
Washington Nationals: Ryan Raburn (April 17, 1981)

Not a bad list. Several names that have showed up here before. Bartolo Colon and Carlos Beltran are two of the three still-active 1990s players (Adrian Beltre is the third), and neither one has managed to add a World Series title to his resume in all that time. If you needed another reason to root against the Yankees (as if there were a shortage of those), there's the fact that their oldest ringless player is the youngest of the bunch.

Now let's shift gears and head to the prediction portion. How do I predict these playoffs will play out? Here you go:

Wild Card Round

Diamondbacks over Rockies
Yankees over Twins

Predicting the outcome of a single game is like predicting the outcome of a coin flip, but since I think both home teams are significantly better than the road teams, the odds would favor them. While it'd be funny to see an upset, since I don't particularly like either top Wild Card, it would also go against my anti-second Wild Card principles, so the fact that both second Wild Cards are more interesting and likable can't be allowed to sway my rooting interest too strongly.

Division Series

Dodgers over Diamondbacks
Cubs over Nationals
Indians over Yankees
Red Sox over Astros

The Dodgers have been up-and-down over the course of the season, so it's hard to know how much confidence to place in them. I'll say they get hot in October though, because they righted the ship at the end.

While I personally love both the Cubs and the Nationals, I feel like Washington is one of those franchises that's snakebitten in October, and it's hard for me to predict them winning a playoff series until I see it. I think the Cubs are confident after last year's run, so they'll take this series for a rematch of last year's NLCS.

I love the Indians too, so it makes me a little nervous to see them facing the up-and-coming Yankees. When October rolls around, there's always that fear that the more favorable media team will get the wind to its back and ride it to an undeserved deep playoff run. I think these Indians are legit though, so they're definitely capable of putting them back in their place. But on that note...

Both the Yankees AND the Red Sox losing in the first round? I won't push my luck that I could ever be so fortunate. Yes, it happened in 2005, but that was 12 years ago. As great a season as the Astros have had, and as great a narrative as it would be to win in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I think it's inevitable that some fanbase's heart is going to get broken big time. The Astros deserve so much better than this, but it is what it is.

League Championship Series

Dodgers over Cubs
Indians over Red Sox

I think the Dodgers and Indians are simply the best in their respective leagues this year, and they have what it takes to win their respective pennants, and the respective respect of their respective competition.

World Series

Indians over Dodgers

In 2004, the Red Sox exorcised the Curse of the Bambino. In 2005, it was the White Sox getting the 88-year monkey off their back. In 2010, the Giants won for the first time since Willie Mays was a youngster manning center field in the Big Apple. And perhaps most memorably, the Cubs in 2016 put to bed any talk of goats, black cats, inopportune fan interferences, or Merkle's Boners. That leaves one franchise with a drought going back to the pre-expansion era, namely the Cleveland Indians, whose fans have been waiting for another since 1948. Is this the year they finally get that one more run that Terry Pluto says they always need? Well, let's just say that they have as good a chance as any Indian club in the past 69 years, and personally, I'm hoping they get it. Good luck, Tribe. Let this be the year.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bobby Doerr Becomes the Last Surviving Red Sox Player From Two Decades

Iconic Red Sox second baseman Bobby Doerr had a shorter career than you might expect from a Hall of Famer, but when it comes to being alive, he's outlasted most of his contemporaries.

Doerr is already the last living MLB player from the 1930s, but with the passing of Tom Wright on September 5, he also became the last living Red Sox player from the 1940s. Doerr was a 31-year-old veteran in 1949, but none of Boston's youngsters managed to outlive him. In addition to Wright, the last calendar year has seen 1940s BoSox Dave Ferriss and Sam Mele go to the great beyond.

With his 100th birthday less than a year away, Doerr has only three teammates who are still living, all from his final two seasons in the early 1950s: Paul Hinrichs, Charlie Maxwell, and Al Richter. The odds of Doerr being the last surviving 1950s Red Sox player are pretty slim, but how often does a player have a substantial career and survive until he has only three living teammates? Has any player with a decade-plus career ever outlived every single one of his teammates? Further digging may be needed to answer that question.

Keep on going, Mr. Doerr. Only seven months needed to reach the century mark!