Friday, December 18, 2015

The Rangers Franchise Deep Four

Hey, another of these! Yeah, I decided to finish this one, which I'd started on a while ago. The Washington Senators/Texas Rangers franchise isn't one that gets a lot of historical examination, but let it not be said that Baseball Junk Drawer ignores it!

1stKenny RogersIvan RodriguezRafael PalmeiroIan KinslerBuddy BellAlex RodriguezFrank HowardOddibe McDowellJuan Gonzalez
2ndCharlie HoughJim SundbergMark TeixeiraJulio FrancoAdrian BeltreElvis AndrusRusty GreerDon LockRuben Sierra
3rdFergie JenkinsPaul CasanovaWill ClarkBump WillsKen McMullenToby HarrahJosh HamiltonLeonys MartinNelson Cruz
4thNolan RyanGerald LairdPete O'BrienMark McLemoreHank BlalockScott FletcherBilly SampleMickey RiversJeff Burroughs

I hated to put Josh Hamilton on the 3rd Team, but I didn't feel right about putting him in center field, and he only had that one big MVP season while playing primarily left. The truth is though, Hamilton probably isn't (or wasn't) as great as that season, all things considered, so maybe it's perfectly fitting not to rank him very high.

Michael Young played too many positions to put him at any one, and since the Rangers are pretty strong at shortstop, Young's most logical position, he was off the board completely. Ed Brinkman was another fine player at that position who didn't make the cut. It's a shame there wasn't a place for Mr. Ranger somewhere.

I was surprised at how strong third base, pitcher, and right field were. Center field was weak, and catcher was extremely top-heavy. Jim Sundberg was probably good enough to be some teams' #1, but here he's stuck behind Pudge. After those two, the cupboard is pretty bare.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

List Updates 2015

Now that the season is over, some of my lists needed to be updated, so here they are for your viewing pleasure:

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

Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Angels Franchise Deep Four

I'm back with the first expansion franchise in this series, the multi-locale-named Angels. Due to a history half a century shorter than the classic American League franchises, I decided to limit this to a Deep Four, rather than the traditional six. And funny enough, even then it felt like I was scraping the bottom of the barrel with a few of these guys. Let's take a look:

1stChuck FinleyBob BooneWally JoynerBobby GrichTroy GlausJim FregosiGarret AndersonMike TroutTim Salmon
2ndFrank TananaMike NapoliRod CarewHowie KendrickChone FigginsErick AybarBrian DowningJim EdmondsVladimir Guerrero
3rdNolan RyanLance ParrishAlbert PujolsAdam KennedyDoug DeCincesDavid EcksteinRick ReichardtGary PettisKole Calhoun
4thJered WeaverBengie MolinaDarin ErstadBobby KnoopKen McMullenDick SchofieldLeon WagnerTorii HunterLeroy Stanton

I'm surprised that Frank Tanana ended up ahead of the great Nolan Ryan, but it seemed that he had the slight edge. Chuck Finley was underrated, but he's the ultimate Angels pitcher.

Right field was interesting for two reasons: One, that Tim Salmon ended up ahead of possible Hall of Famer Vlad Guerrero, and two, the large dropoff after the 2nd Team. Kole Calhoun hasn't even been around that long and he's already on the 3rd Team.

Catcher was surprisingly tough. Bob Boone ended up on the 1st Team, but he's not overly impressive a choice. Mike Napoli was tough to put on the 2nd Team only because he was never more than a part-time player, but his numbers spoke loudly. When will the Angels ever have a truly awesome catcher?

Who'd have thought that Wally Joyner would end up ahead of two Hall of Famers at first base? While Pujols and Carew had greater careers, when only their work with the Angels is considered, Wally World edges them out, at least for now. Pujols still has a long contract ahead of him to perhaps take the lead, but he is in the decline phase of his career, so...yeah.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Oligopoly is Dead

After ten years, the Kansas City Royals have finally vanquished the Oligopoly. May it never show its ugly face again. Yes, we'll hear another year of Met fans whining about how much they've had to suffer without a World Series title (30 whole years! Boo-freaking-hoo!), but it's a small price to pay.

The Royals were a joke for most of my baseball fandom. The winning season they had in 2003 was the first I ever saw from them, and at that point, it was a novel occurrence. They immediately followed it with another string of losing seasons, most of which only caught the attention of baseball fans due to Joe Posnanski's blog. They had become emblematic of the small-market franchise struggling to compete with the big dogs.

In the early 2010's, their minor league system was the talk of baseball, and things seemed to be looking up at last. But there was still the question of how or when these guys would mature. And of course, the postseason being as fluky as it is, could they defy the odds and win the World Series?

It looks like the script couldn't have played out any better: K.C. did it with their homegrown guys, overcame deficit after deficit, and made it to the top of the hill. It was the culmination of a long process, and a dream ending for every small-market club that needs to invest heavily in scouting and player development just to contend at all. They've given a glimmer of hope to a lot of fans who've had to watch the big-ticket squads take the trophy in recent years.

Now that the Oligopoly has been squashed, 2016 might be worth looking forward to. Let's hope next year's World Series champion will be another group as likable and interesting as this one.

Congratulations, Royals!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Oligopoly and the LCS

It looks like my playoff predictions have been busted pretty badly. But no matter. I can't predict when longstanding patterns will finally be broken. In this case, it was the pattern of the Cardinals and Giants alternating NL pennants. That ended this year, which meant that the "100-Win Curse" wasn't destined to fell St. Louis at the hands of the AL's only Oligopoly team.

There are now four teams left, of which I like three; those three are the Cubs, Royals, and Blue Jays. The one fly in the ointment is the Mets, an Oligopoly team that seemingly came out of nowhere this year. It is my sad prediction that that one team I dislike will win the World Series. I may have been wrong about a lot of stuff, but in this I feel fairly confident: The New York Mets are your 2015 World Series Champions.

Why? First of all, the Royals and Blue Jays aren't Oligopoly members, so they're out. Whoever wins the NL wins the World Series. Second of all, the only team standing in the Mets' way is the Cubs. I would love, love, to see the Cubs finally win the World Series so that we could stop talking about 1908, the Billy Goat Curse and all that other malarkey, but the Cubs not making it to the World Series has a much longer history than the decade-long Oligopoly. It breaks my heart to say that despite the patterns that have ended this October, that one might be too big to vanquish, at least right now.

This situation reminds me of 2011, where the Cardinals were the only team in the Final Four that I didn't like, and not only did they win the World Series, they did it in the most spirit-crushing way imaginable. Just for the heck of it, I'll predict that the Royals will find themselves in the same position as the 2011 Rangers; they'll be ready to redeem themselves from the previous year's World Series loss, and on the verge of winning, only to fall to a miracle comeback by an Oligopoly team. Those poor Kansas City fans.

A lot of people probably are surprised to see the Mets where they are, but not me. I have seen the Oligopoly, and I knew even when the Mets weren't good that they would be allowed to win it if they ever became good. I may get some of the particulars wrong, but the closer we get to the end, the easier it is to see who the winner will be, and it is clear to me that when this postseason ends, the fifth-best team in the NL will be hoisting the World Series trophy. The media will gush, because they seem to believe the Mets are a franchise that the entire country is endlessly fascinated by (though I certainly am not, and I don't know anyone else who is), and their fans might tone down the self-pity a little (if we're lucky, which we probably won't be).

Oh baseball. This Oligopoly has made things all too predictable. I hate it.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Playoff Predictions 2015

Would this be a real baseball blog if it didn't make predictions for how the postseason would play out? Like all other fans, I have a duty to make my picks. I'll lay them out here and explain them below.

Stupid Wild Card Game That Nobody Wanted:

Yankees over Astros
Cubs over Pirates


Cardinals over Cubs
Dodgers over Mets
Yankees over Royals
Rangers over Blue Jays


Cardinals over Dodgers
Yankees over Rangers

World Series:

Yankees over Cardinals

OK, so now the big question is how I came to the conclusion that this mediocre Yankee team is destined to take home the hardware yet again.

When making playoff predictions, the first thing to consider (at least for me) is the Oligopoly. Of this year's crop, the AL has one Oligopoly team (the Yankees), and the NL has four of them (all but the Pirates). So we know that only those five have any shot of winning the World Series.

This decade has seen an alternating pattern between the Giants and Cardinals for the NL pennant, so if that pattern continues, it's the Cardinals' turn this year. However, the Cardinals have an outstanding team this year, and if you look at the pattern since the 1980s, the Cardinals' outstanding playoff teams never win the World Series. Their less-impressive teams are always the ones that win the whole shebang. So we know up front that the Cardinals will represent the NL in the World Series and lose.

The Yankees are the only Oligopoly team in the AL playoff picture, so that makes them the only team the Cardinals can lose to. Hence, the Yanks will beat the Cards in the Fall Classic.

What a rotten ending to this season, huh?

Oldest Ringless Players: 2015

Another postseason is here, which means it's time to look at the Oldest Ringless Player for each championship contender. You know the drill. 40-man roster, oldest player without a championship ring. Here we go:

Chicago Cubs: Fernando Rodney (March 18, 1977)
Houston Astros:Chad Qualls (August 17, 1978)
Kansas City Royals: Jeremy Guthrie (April 8, 1979)
Los Angeles Dodgers: Joel Peralta (March 23, 1976)
New York Mets: Bartolo Colon (May 24, 1973)
New York Yankees:Carlos Beltran (April 24, 1977)
Pittsburgh Pirates: Aramis Ramirez (June 25, 1978)
St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Belisle (June 6, 1980)
Texas Rangers: Adrian Beltre (April 7, 1979)
Toronto Blue Jays: LaTroy Hawkins (December 21, 1972)

Funny how these lists often end up being full of journeyman relief pitchers. It really takes the fun out of making them.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Athletics Franchise Deep Six

Of the Original 16 franchises, we've finally come to the last one, the Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics! Let's take a look at this much-traveled franchise, whose history is a hodgepodge of dynasties and fire sales.

1stLefty GroveMickey CochraneJimmie FoxxEddie CollinsHome Run BakerBert CampanerisRickey HendersonDwayne MurphyReggie Jackson
2ndRube WaddellTerry SteinbachMark McGwireMax BishopSal BandoEddie JoostAl SimmonsDave HendersonJose Canseco
3rdEddie PlankFrankie HayesJason GiambiMark EllisEric ChavezJack BarryBob JohnsonAmos StrunkSocks Seybold
4thTim HudsonWally SchangHarry DavisDanny MurphyCarney LansfordMiguel TejadaJoe RudiBill NorthJosh Reddick
5thEddie RommelKurt SuzukiStuffy McInnisDick GreenJosh DonaldsonMike BordickTopsy HartselCoco CrispWally Moses
6thChief BenderOssee SchrecongostFerris FainNap LajoieLave CrossWalt WeissTillie WalkerRick MondayMike Davis

That's one great 1st Team. All but two are Hall of Famers. The 2nd Team, though, feels like a huge dropoff. Waddell and Simmons are all-timers, and Bando and McGwire are both borderliners, but the rest? Fine players, not immortals.

The position that really surprised me this time was third base. The A's have more depth there than I would've expected. With the season Josh Donaldson is currently having, he might've stood to rank even higher if he hadn't been traded.

I was frustrated trying to pick guys for the lower teams at several of these positions. There was just too much mediocrity. For a franchise that's won nine World Series, they sure aren't that deep. The great Athletic teams tended to burn brightly and be snuffed out quickly.

I plan to continue this series with the expansion franchises, but since they don't have as much history, I won't be doing a Deep Six. For the 1961-77 franchises I'll be doing a Deep Four, and for the 1993-98 franchises I'll be doing a Deep Three. We'll see those after this season is over.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Dodgers Franchise Deep Six

And the last of the classic eight National League franchises is off the board! And there's only one classic AL team to do after this one! So how do the boys from Brooklyn and L.A. look?

1stDazzy VanceMike PiazzaGil HodgesJackie RobinsonRon CeyPee Wee ReeseZack WheatDuke SniderCarl Furillo
2ndSandy KoufaxRoy CampanellaDolph CamilliDavey LopesAdrian BeltreBill DahlenJimmy SheckardWillie DavisDixie Walker
3rdDon DrysdaleMike SciosciaJack FournierJim GilliamGeorge PinkneyMaury WillsGary SheffieldMike GriffinReggie Smith
4thClayton KershawJohn RoseboroSteve GarveyTom DalyJoe StrippBill RussellDusty BakerMatt KempShawn Green
5thNap RuckerPaul Lo DucaJake DaubertEddie StankyRed SmithRafael FurcalPedro GuerreroPete ReiserBabe Herman
6thJeff PfefferRussell MartinWes ParkerSteve SaxCookie LavagettoGermany SmithWally MoonBrett ButlerWillie Keeler

Pretty good indeed! Three of their four infield spots on the 1st Team are from the Boys of Summer era, as are two of the three outfield spots. Is it safe to say that was the greatest period in Dodger history?

Some people might be upset that I named Dazzy Vance starting pitcher for the 1st Team over Sandy Koufax, but I thought the numbers merited it. Koufax had an incredible peak, but Vance's was plenty dominant as well. The main difference is that Koufax is a legend of living memory, while Vance played in the 1920's for the Daffiness Boys. Clayton Kershaw is making his way up the list too, so this generation may have its own immortal Dodger hurler to tell their grandchildren about.

Third base was definitely the weakest position here. I never realized how few great third basemen the Dodgers have had. I wasn't familiar with George Pinkney, the 3rd Team third sacker, until I compiled this list. And to think he was the greatest Dodger third baseman until the 1970s.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Indians Franchise Deep Six

After doing these pretty steadily for a while, I guess I got preoccupied in the last month. But I'm back, and I have a new Deep Six for you, my beloved audience! Today we shall look at the Cleveland Indians!

1stBob FellerVictor MartinezJim ThomeNap LajoieAl RosenLou BoudreauAlbert BelleTris SpeakerJoe Jackson
2ndStan CoveleskiSteve O'NeillHal TroskyRoberto AlomarBill BradleyJoe SewellCharlie JamiesonKenny LoftonManny Ramirez
3rdAddie JossCarlos SantanaAndre ThorntonJoe GordonKen KeltnerTerry TurnerJeff HeathLarry DobyElmer Flick
4thSam McDowellJohn RomanoEd MorganBobby AvilaBuddy BellRay ChapmanJoe VosmikEarl AverillRocky Colavito
5thGaylord PerryRay FosseGeorge BurnsCarlos BaergaGraig NettlesOmar VizquelDale MitchellGrady SizemoreShin-Soo Choo
6thMel HarderJoe AzcueMike HargroveJason KipnisToby HarrahAsdrubal CabreraMichael BrantleyBrett ButlerBraggo Roth

The Indians are pretty darn good at starting pitcher. Gaylord Perry wasn't an Indian for very long, but he wore the uniform long enough, and was dominant enough to make it.

Center field and shortstop were probably the deepest fielding positions, and third base was a lot stronger than I expected it would be. Right field ain't too shabby neither.

Catcher and first base were weaker than perhaps you realized. Victor Martinez and Carlos Santana, both current-day players who were pretty good for a while crack the Top 3 catchers. Hal Trosky was a fine first baseman who had the misfortune of playing in the American League at the same time as Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Greenberg. He's a solid 2nd Teamer behind the great Jim Thome. After those two, there's not a lot to write home about.

Second base was the position where stars burnt briefly but brightly. Lajoie was an easy choice for the 1st Team, but the two Hall of Famers who follow him down the column, Roberto Alomar and Joe Gordon, played only three and four years, respectively, with the Tribe. But oh, how great they were. I wanted to give Bobby Avila some extra credit for his longevity, but in the end, I just thought those two deserved to be ahead of him. Jason Kipnis has been impressive so far, and is already close to passing up Baerga. Can he continue his ascent?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Reds Franchise Deep Six

Back for another Deep Six, this time for a franchise that was frustrating to compile. The lower levels of several of these positions were so mediocre that trying to pick the right guys was tough. I hate it when it's a close call.

1stNoodles HahnJohnny BenchJoey VottoJoe MorganHeinie GrohBarry LarkinGeorge FosterVada PinsonFrank Robinson
2ndJim MaloneyErnie LombardiTed KluszewskiBid McPheeTony PerezDave ConcepcionPete RoseEric DavisKen Griffey
3rdBucky WaltersEd BaileyJohn ReillyLonny FreyChris SaboRoy McMillanBob BescherEdd RoushIval Goodman
4thJose RijoBubbles HargraveJake BeckleyBrandon PhillipsTodd FrazierLeo CardenasKal DanielsCy SeymourReggie Sanders
5thFrank DwyerJohnny EdwardsFrank McCormickMiller HugginsHans LobertBuck HerzogCharley JonesBobby TolanCurt Walker
6thEppa RixeyLarry McLeanLee MayJohnny TempleArlie LathamFrank FennellyAdam DunnBug HollidayJay Bruce

Yes, friends, Joey Votto is already the greatest Reds first baseman of all time. First base was a strong position for this franchise, with lots of very good players but few great ones. You have to love the consistency of it. Just missing the cut was "the Mayor," Sean Casey.

Did you realize the Reds haven't had that many dominant pitchers in their history? Now you do. They've never had a Cy Young winner either.

Tony Perez is better known as a first baseman, but his greatest years while playing third base forced me to put him there. Also at the hot corner, Todd Frazier is quickly working his way up the list. Appreciate what you're seeing, Cincy fans. He's a special one.

The most disappointing part of this was Pete Rose. He played all over the field, and I felt that his best years were in left. However, if you rank him purely as a left fielder, he comes in behind George Foster. There was no way he was going to beat out Votto, Morgan, Groh, or Robinson at their positions either. While he may be the ultimate Cincinnati Red, there wasn't a way to get him on the 1st Team. But I suppose Rose has some experience with being excluded.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Tigers Franchise Deep Six

Has it been almost a week? Fear not! I have another Deep Six for you! Let's take a look at the Detroit Tigers!

1stHal NewhouserBill FreehanHank GreenbergCharlie GehringerGeorge KellAlan TrammellBobby VeachTy CobbAl Kaline
2ndTommy BridgesLance ParrishMiguel CabreraLou WhitakerRay BooneDonie BushWillie HortonChet LemonHarry Heilmann
3rdJustin VerlanderJohnny BasslerNorm CashDick McAuliffeBrandon IngeBilly RogellRocky ColavitoAustin JacksonSam Crawford
4thBill DonovanMickey CochraneRudy YorkPlacido PolancoTravis FrymanCarlos GuillenBobby HigginsonCurtis GrandersonKirk Gibson
5thJim BunningMickey TettletonDarrell EvansDamion EasleyGeorge MoriartyTopper RigneyCharlie MaxwellRon LeFloreVic Wertz
6thDizzy TroutIvan RodriguezLu BlueFrank BollingMarty McManusHarvey KuennSteve KempJimmy BarrettMagglio Ordonez

How about those right fielders, eh? The top three are all solid Hall of Famers! After them it's a bit iffy, but Sam Crawford on your 3rd Team? Wow.

Catcher is a bit interesting, because none of the top three are Hall of Famers, but the guy on the 4th Team is, and the guy on the 6th Team probably will be. Drat that lack of longevity!

Third base and left field are probably the weakest positions here. The Tigers have had several fine players at third, but none were great for a long time. Aurelio Rodriguez and Don Wert, the two Tigers with the most games at third base, didn't even make the list. Bobby Veach was an underrated but not great player, but no one else is even close to being the ultimate Tigers left fielder.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Giants Franchise Deep Six

And already we have another one! For some reason I got through the Giants pretty quickly. I guess they had so much depth that I didn't feel the need to agonize about the exact rankings as much. For less-deep teams, you have to nitpick which player is less mediocre than the other. Let's see how the Giants come out:

1stChristy MathewsonBuck EwingRoger ConnorJeff KentArt DevlinArt FletcherBarry BondsWillie MaysMel Ott
2ndAmos RusieBuster PoseyWillie McCoveyFrankie FrischMatt WilliamsGeorge DavisGeorge BurnsGeorge Van HaltrenBobby Bonds
3rdCarl HubbellRoger BresnahanBill TerryLarry DoyleJim Ray HartTravis JacksonMonte IrvinBobby ThomsonMike Tiernan
4thJuan MarichalChief MeyersJohnny MizeRobby ThompsonFreddie LindstromDave BancroftKevin MitchellBrett ButlerJack Clark
5thMickey WelchTom HallerWill ClarkDanny RichardsonPablo SandovalAl DarkJo-Jo MooreBenny KauffRoss Youngs
6thTim KeefeHarry DanningOrlando CepedaRon HuntHank ThompsonDick BartellGary MatthewsFred SnodgrassFelipe Alou

First base and pitcher were the truly outstanding positions here. Right field and shortstop weren't too shabby either.

While Frankie Frisch and George Davis were greater players than Jeff Kent and Art Fletcher, respectively, they ended up on the 2nd team due to the fact that their resumes at those positions as members of the Giants weren't quite as good. Frisch spent a lot of his best years with the Cardinals, and Davis his with the White Sox.

Left field and center field were impressive for the dropoffs after the 1st Team. It's not just that the guys on the 1st Team were each arguably the greatest ever at their position (though that helped), but that Georges Burns and Van Haltren were not even borderline greats.

As with several other franchises we've seen so far, we have an active player working his way toward the top at one position. Can Buster Posey eventually become the Giants' #1 all-time catcher? He'll have to keep producing for several more years, but it's hardly out of the question.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Twins Franchise Deep Six

As I mentioned in my Orioles Franchise Deep Six post, this one was going to be strange. The Minnesota Twins are a continuation of the old Washington Senators, but they have a completely different identity. As such, it's a tad odd to see Twins greats mixed with old Senator greats. Them's the rules though, so enjoy it for what it is.

1stWalter JohnsonJoe MauerHarmon KillebrewRod CarewEddie YostJoe CroninGoose GoslinKirby PuckettTony Oliva
2ndBert BlylevenEarl BatteyKent HrbekChuck KnoblauchCorey KoskieCecil TravisHeinie ManushClyde MilanSam Rice
3rdJohan SantanaButch WynegarJoe JudgeBuddy MyerGary GaettiGreg GagneRoy SieversTorii HunterBob Allison
4thBrad RadkeMuddy RuelMickey VernonBucky HarrisEddie FosterGeorge McBrideGary WardStan SpenceTom Brunansky
5thCamilo PascualBrian HarperJustin MorneauRay MorganOssie BluegeRoy SmalleyLarry HisleJimmie HallJohn Stone
6thFrank ViolaRick FerrellChick GandilBrian DozierBuddy LewisZoilo VersallesJacque JonesSam WestMatt Lawton

Though he no longer plays catcher, we got to see something truly special with Joe Mauer behind the plate. It's a real shame he needed to be moved to first base. A.J. Pierzynski just missed the cut. I chose Ferrell for the 6th Team only because he played for the franchise a bit longer.

Second base was surprising to me. I didn't think Brian Dozier in his brief career had done enough yet to show up in the keystone column, but there truly wasn't anyone more deserving that I could find. For all those fine players, there wasn't a lot of depth beyond them.

I named Corey Koskie this franchise's all-time third baseman a few years ago, but upon revisiting the numbers, I think you have to go with the Walking Man, Eddie Yost. His longevity is just too great a factor, even if Koskie at his best was a little better. It's no insult to be on the 2nd Team, Corey.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Phillies Franchise Deep Six

Franchises that haven't historically been cloaked in glory are often more interesting to me than those that have. The Phillies are one such franchise. They've had their periods of prominence, but they've generally experienced more downs than ups. Today we're going to look at their positional depth chart.

1stPete AlexanderJack ClementsJohn KrukChase UtleyMike SchmidtJimmy RollinsEd DelahantyRichie AshburnBobby Abreu
2ndRobin RobertsDarren DaultonRyan HowardNap LajoieDick AllenLarry BowaSherry MageeRoy ThomasJohnny Callison
3rdSteve CarltonCarlos RuizDolph CamilliDave CashScott RolenDave BancroftDel EnnisLenny DykstraChuck Klein
4thJim BunningAndy SeminickFred LuderusJuan SamuelWillie JonesBob AllenGreg LuzinskiGarry MaddoxGavvy Cravath
5thCole HamelsSpud DavisVon HayesTony TaylorPinky MayGranny HamnerPat BurrellBilly HamiltonSam Thompson
6thCurt SchillingBob BooneDon HurstOtto KnabePinky WhitneyMickey DoolinMorrie ArnovichCy WilliamsElmer Flick

The Phillies are surprisingly strong at pitcher and in the outfield. In center and right fields, respectively, Shane Victorino and John Titus were fine players who just missed the cut.

Left field was a funny one. The top five were easy choices (as well as the franchise's top five in games played at the position), but after that the cupboard was pretty bare. I went with Arnovich on the 6th Team only because he had some degree of longevity, but he's hardly a clear-cut choice. There were plenty of other unnotables who could've been argued for.

The Phillies have never had an all-time great catcher, as you can see, but they've had a lot of good ones. That spot on the 6th Team came down to Boone, Clay Dalrymple, and Mike Lieberthal, and it was almost a coin-flip. The catcher on the 1st Team, Jack Clements, is sadly underrated.

The infield is an area where the Phillies are surprisingly weak. Chase Utley was so far and away the top choice at second base it was almost laughable. Nap Lajoie was an immortal, but his time with the Phillies was relatively brief, and before he blossomed into a legend. Third base and shortstop are both top-heavy.

It might be hard for some people to believe, but the Phillies have never had a truly great first baseman. Ryan Howard may have the longevity there, but John Kruk, in his brief-but-glorious run as Phillie first-sacker, was simply a better player.  And after them, there's not a whole lot to get excited about. Any young, talented first baseman who wants to be on some franchise's 1st Team should try to find his way to Philadelphia.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Orioles Franchise Deep Six

We're back for another of these Deep Six thingies, this time with a franchise that had two distinct identities. It's the Orioles franchise, which spent nearly half its existence as the St. Louis Browns. It probably seems odd to put them together (perhaps not as odd as the Twins/Senators one will be), but it's how I've chosen to do this project. Let's see what we've got:

1stJim PalmerChris HoilesGeorge SislerBobby GrichBrooks RobinsonCal Ripken Jr.Ken WilliamsPaul BlairFrank Robinson
2ndMike MussinaRick DempseyEddie MurrayBrian RobertsHarlond CliftBobby WallaceGeorge StoneBaby Doll JacobsonKen Singleton
3rdUrban ShockerHank SevereidRafael PalmeiroDel PrattDoug DeCincesMark BelangerDon BufordAdam JonesNick Markakis
4thNed GarverMatt WietersBoog PowellRoberto AlomarMelvin MoraMiguel TejadaGoose GoslinBrady AndersonJack Tobin
5thHarry HowellGus TriandosJim GentileDavey JohnsonJimmy AustinLuis AparicioHeinie ManushWally JudnichHarry Rice
6thCarl WeilmanWally SchangGeorge McQuinnMarty McManusManny MachadoVern StephensB.J. SurhoffMike DevereauxMerv Rettenmund

It's probably no surprise that most members of the 1st Team are from the Baltimore era. However, the St. Louis era is in the majority on the 5th and 6th Teams.

This franchise is surprisingly deep at both first base and shortstop, and third base ain't too shabby either. I expect to see Manny Machado move up the list in the future. The only reason he ranks behind Jimmy Austin is the fact that Austin played for the Browns so long.

This franchise is surprisingly shallow in the outfield; the only inner-circle great at any of the outfield positions is Frank Robinson. Goose Goslin is an acceptable Hall of Famer, and Heinie Manush is in, though he probably shouldn't be, but the rest are just very good players, and the pickings were slim for the lower teams.

In the starting pitcher column you have two Oriole aces, then four straight Brownies. Despite the renowned pitching staffs that have been seen down Baltimore way, none of them has ever been laden with long-lasting superstars. Give the Orioles credit for being able to assemble strong groups without individual standouts.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Cubs Franchise Deep Six

Time for another one! Today we have the lovable North Siders who can't seem to win a World Series, the Cubs!

1stFergie JenkinsGabby HartnettCap AnsonRyne SandbergRon SantoErnie BanksBilly WilliamsHack WilsonSammy Sosa
2ndClark GriffithJohnny KlingFrank ChanceBilly HermanStan HackBill DahlenRiggs StephensonGeorge GoreKing Kelly
3rdMordecai BrownJody DavisMark GraceJohnny EversNed WilliamsonJoe TinkerAbner DalrympleBill LangeBill Nicholson
4thPete AlexanderRandy HundleyDerrek LeeRogers HornsbyHeinie ZimmermanCharlie HollocherJimmy SheckardAndy PafkoKiki Cuyler
5thHippo VaughnRick WilkinsVic SaierFred PfefferHarry SteinfeldtBilly JurgesHank SauerJimmy RyanAndre Dawson
6thJohn ClarksonBob O'FarrellPhil CavarrettaGlenn BeckertAramis RamirezTom BurnsAugie GalanAdolfo PhillipsFrank Schulte

These things are always tough to make. Ideally, I'm trying to rank these players based on how much they epitomize the position for the franchise. That's why I try to weigh both longevity and peak value. Sometimes though, you end up with forgotten players outranking fan favorites. Phil Cavarretta, for instance, was something of a Cub legend, while most fans today probably don't know anything about Vic Saier. Based on the numbers though, I had to give Saier the edge, because Cavarretta didn't spend enough time specifically as a first baseman, and his greatest season came during wartime, when the talent pool was weaker. Anthony Rizzo is actually surprisingly close behind Cavarretta already. It'll be a shame to see such a beloved Cub end up in the Conigliaro Zone.

Right field was another weird one. Kelly, Nicholson and Cuyler all have noise in the data that makes them hard to evaluate. Either they spent a lot of time at other positions in addition to right field, or World War II distorted their value. I ultimately went with Kelly on the 2nd Team because he was the greatest player of the bunch, but honestly, you could probably put those three in any order and have a valid defense for it.

I hated putting Rogers Hornsby on the 4th Team, since he played only 250 games at second base for the Cubs. However, he did spend three seasons in Chicago with that as his primary position, abbreviated though some of them might have been, and was a monster. Pfeffer and Beckert were good players who spent a lot more time with the Cubs, but they never approached Hornsby's peak value. It didn't feel right to put such a dominant player on the 6th Team behind those two.

It's interesting that the most recent player from the center field column is Adolfo Phillips on the 6th Team. The Cubs have had several fine center fielders, but they all played at least half a century ago. It's about time they found another star at that position, wouldn't you say?

Tinker, Evers and Chance almost all ended up on the same team, but I decided Chance was just a bit better than Mark Grace. Tinker to Evers to Grace is hardly anything to be disappointed with, though.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Red Sox Franchise Deep Six

Last time I did the real Sox, now it's time to do the fake Sox! (Little joke there, Red Sox fans).

1stRoger ClemensCarlton FiskJimmie FoxxDustin PedroiaWade BoggsNomar GarciaparraTed WilliamsTris SpeakerDwight Evans
2ndCy YoungJason VaritekMo VaughnBobby DoerrJimmy CollinsRico PetrocelliCarl YastrzemskiFred LynnHarry Hooper
3rdPedro MartinezRich GedmanKevin YoukilisPete RunnelsLarry GardnerFreddy ParentJim RiceReggie SmithTrot Nixon
4thLefty GroveRick FerrellGeorge ScottBilly GoodmanFrank MalzoneJoe CroninManny RamirezJacoby EllsburyJackie Jensen
5thLuis TiantBill CarriganJake StahlMike AndrewsMike LowellJohn ValentinMike GreenwellDom DiMaggioBuck Freeman
6thJon LesterLou CrigerMike NapoliHobe FerrisBill MuellerJohnny PeskyDuffy LewisEllis BurksJ.D. Drew

Several things about these teams surprised me. For starters, the BoSox are surprisingly shallow at both catcher and first base. Jason Varitek and Mo Vaughn seem more like 3rd Teamers than 2nd Teamers, but there they are, on the 2nd team of such a storied franchise. I didn't really like including Mike Napoli, since it's early in his third season with the franchise, but I decided to assume that by the end of 2015 he'll look like a much better selection. The Red Sox really don't have a lot of great options at the initial sack.

Left field, of course, is a famous position on the Red Sox, since there have been so many great players there. Equally worthy is pitcher, where they're four-deep with top-tier Hall of Famers. Tiant, of course, has a borderline Hall of Fame case too.

Shortstop and center field were both deeper than I expected. Vern Stephens and Johnny Damon, respectively, both just missed the cut at those positions.

Some might quibble with me putting Pedroia over Doerr at second base, but I think the time has come. Doerr might have the longevity advantage, but Pedroia at his best was better than Doerr ever was, and he's been producing long enough that he deserves the top spot. After those two, second base was another position that turned out to be weaker than I expected.

The 4th Team is an interesting one; you have three Hall of Famers, plus another who played at a Hall of Fame level in Manny Ramirez. In the cases of Lefty Grove and Ramirez, it's because the Red Sox have so much depth at their positions. In the case of Joe Cronin, it's because his best years were spent with a different franchise, and in the case of Rick Ferrell, it's because he wasn't really a worthy Hall of Famer.

Some of you diehards might be upset that I gave the right field spot on the 6th Team to J.D. Drew rather than franchise icon Tony Conigliaro, but I couldn't justify it based on the WAR numbers. Believe me, I tried.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The White Sox Franchise Deep Six

Time for a franchise that's never had much in the way of dynasties or star-studded teams, the Chicago White Sox! I thought this would be an interesting one to do next.

1stEd WalshCarlton FiskFrank ThomasEddie CollinsRobin VenturaLuke ApplingMinnie MinosoChet LemonMagglio Ordonez
2ndTed LyonsSherm LollarPaul KonerkoNellie FoxWillie KammGeorge DavisJoe JacksonFielder JonesHarold Baines
3rdEddie CicotteRay SchalkZeke BonuraRay DurhamBill MeltonLuis AparicioBibb FalkJohnny MostilFloyd Robinson
4thRed FaberRon KarkoviceEarl SheelyJorge OrtaPete WardChico CarrasquelTim RainesHappy FelschDanny Green
5thBilly PierceA.J. PierzynskiDick AllenFrank IsbellLee TannehillRon HansenCarlos LeeLance JohnsonHarry Hooper
6thMark BuehrleBrian DowningJiggs DonahueJackie HayesJoe CredeAlexei RamirezPatsy DoughertyJim LandisTaffy Wright

I'd say shortstop is definitely the deepest position for the Sox. I had to leave Ozzie Guillen off the list, even though he would've been a decent lower-tier guy for some clubs. Pitcher isn't bad either.

It's interesting that the top two first basemen are the White Sox' last two long-serving players at the position. Before the '90s Zeke Bonura was the franchise's greatest first-sacker. How weak is that? Jose Abreu had a great rookie year, and if he can have more seasons like that, he could easily crack this chart, maybe even end up near the top.

Center field is an interesting one here. There are no all-time immortals (Chet Lemon? Who would've guessed?), but they're all pretty solid. Jim Landis on the 6th Team is hardly scraping the bottom of the barrel.

At catcher and second base you see big dropoffs after the first three teams. Jackie Hayes only made the 6th Team because of longevity. It was between him and Tony Bernazard, who just didn't play with the Sox long enough to feel right.

It's also hard to believe how weak the Sox were in right field before the '80s. Floyd Robinson was their greatest right fielder up till then.The guy currently on top, Magglio Ordonez, remains a very underrated player.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Pirates Franchise Deep Six

Another Deep Six! This time with the team from Pittsburgh!

1stBabe AdamsJason KendallJake BeckleyBill MazeroskiPie TraynorHonus WagnerBarry BondsMax CareyRoberto Clemente
2ndWilbur CooperManny SanguillenElbie FletcherClaude RitcheyTommy LeachArky VaughanRalph KinerAndrew McCutchenPaul Waner
3rdSam LeeverTony PenaGus SuhrJohnny RayRichie HebnerGene AlleyFred ClarkeAndy Van SlykeDave Parker
4thBob FriendGeorge GibsonDonn ClendenonNeil WalkerDon HoakJay BellWillie StargellGinger BeaumontOrlando Merced
5thJesse TannehillSmoky BurgessGeorge GranthamRennie StennettBill MadlockDick GroatMike SmithMatty AlouBill Hinchman
6thJohn CandelariaJim PagliaroniBob RobertsonPhil GarnerBobby BonillaJack WilsonBob SkinnerJake StenzelChief Wilson

This is an interesting one. At certain positions they're incredibly deep (left field, center field), at others they're surprisingly shallow (pitcher, first base) and others have steep dropoffs (shortstop, right field).

Al Oliver, Bill Virdon and Lloyd Waner were all fine players who were eligible in center field, but the Pirates had so much strength there that even their longevity couldn't get them onto the list. At least, that was how I felt when I put the list together. Maybe on a different day they'd have made the cut. Andrew McCutchen could potentially overtake Carey if 2015 is another superb season for him. It was actually a pretty close call.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Cardinals Franchise Deep Six

Another Deep Six! This time for the Cardinals!

1stBob GibsonTed SimmonsAlbert PujolsRogers HornsbyKen BoyerOzzie SmithJoe MedwickJim EdmondsStan Musial
2ndDizzy DeanYadier MolinaJohnny MizeFrankie FrischScott RolenMarty MarionLou BrockCurt FloodEnos Slaughter
3rdAdam WainwrightTim McCarverKeith HernandezRed SchoendienstWhitey KurowskiSolly HemusJesse BurkettRay LankfordBrian Jordan
4thHarry BrecheenDarrell PorterEd KonetchyMiller HugginsArlie LathamBobby WallaceTip O'NeillWillie McGeeJ.D. Drew
5thChris CarpenterWalker CooperBill WhiteTom HerrTerry PendletonGarry TempletonMatt HollidayTerry MooreGeorge Hendrick
6thSilver KingTom PagnozziJim BottomleyYank RobinsonMike MowreyEdgar RenteriaChick HafeyBake McBrideTommy McCarthy

The Cardinals are remarkably deep at some positions and remarkably shallow at others.  You'll notice Mark McGwire isn't anywhere to be found in the first base column, despite his monster seasons in the late 90's. It wasn't a steroid deduction, it was for a lack of longevity.

At catcher, there was a big dropoff after McCarver. All the candidates for that spot on the 6th Team were pretty mediocre, so I just went with Pagnozzi, mainly for his longevity.

Bake McBride is the center fielder for the Sixth Team, but it was pretty much a tossup between him and Jon Jay. (Yes, Jon Jay. Really.) If Jay has a good season this year, it might be enough to bump McBride off the list.

Some people might quibble with the choice of Stan Musial being listed as a right fielder. After all, he played more games at both first base and left field during his career. However, if I were judging him purely at those positions, he might have been edged out by Medwick or Pujols. He had a lot of his biggest seasons playing primarily right field, and as the greatest Cardinal of them all, he deserved to be somewhere on the First Team. Right field just made the most sense, even if the guy on the Second Team was a longtime teammate of his.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Five Takeaways From The First Month Of The MLB Season (Sponsored Post)

In a six month season, consistency is the ultimate key. That is why a lot of people aren’t going to be completely sold on all trends after one month. People who play daily fantasy mlb like what they see out of certain players and teams early on this year. Here is a look at 5 trends that should be able to continue as the season progresses.

Chicago Cubs Are Here To Stay

At the beginning of the year, the Chicago Cubs certainly received quite a bit of attention. Not only did they go out and sign some new guys including ace Jon Lester, but their young talent caught headlines for all the right reasons. One month into the season, and they seem to be going in the right direction. Kris Bryant looks like a future All-Star, and Addison Russell could be joining him as well. Those 2 players could be the future of the left side of the infield for the Chicago Cubs in the next decade.

The Astros Might Just Be Too

Most people aren’t completely sold on the Houston Astros, but they have one of the best records in the American League right now. Like the Chicago Cubs, they focused on building up their farm system during some down years. They are probably a little bit ahead of schedule, and that is why they are the most likely of the 2 teams to fade. However, the days of laughing at Houston are over, and they should be at least respectable by the end of the season.

Alex Rodriguez Has Something Left In The Tank

Any professional athlete closing in on 40 years of age knows that they are playing with borrowed time. Expectations were rather low for Rodriguez going into the season, but he has been one of the more consistent hitters for the surprising New York Yankees. Injury issues are always going to be a bit of a scare, but getting a chance to play at designated hitter keeps him fresh.

Jeurys Familia Is The Closer The Mets Need

Staying in New York City, the New York Mets have also been very surprising so far this year. While many people predicted that they would be counting on pitching quite a bit, few could have seen the hot start coming from Jeurys Familia. He has stepped in nicely to be the closer for the franchise, and the movement on his pitches should keep him sharp throughout the year.

Mike Trout Is Still The Best

There are certainly a lot of crazy statistics after just one month of baseball, but anyone who plays in daily fantasy mlb knows that Mike Trout is certainly not riding a hot streak. In fact, he is just right back to performing at a high level. So far this year, he is hitting well above .300 while up to 6 home runs and 6 stolen bases already. Easy math would show anyone that he very well could finish with 30 home runs, 30 stolen bases and right around 100 RBI in 2015. That would be crazy to think about for most players, but it is just another MVP performance from the best player in the game.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Yankees Franchise Deep Six

A few days ago I put up the first post in this series for the Braves, and now it's time for the redone version of the Yankees' all-time positional depth chart that I mentioned.

1stWhitey FordYogi BerraLou GehrigRobinson CanoAlex RodriguezDerek JeterCharlie KellerMickey MantleBabe Ruth
2ndRed RuffingBill DickeyDon MattinglyJoe GordonGraig NettlesPhil RizzutoRoy WhiteJoe DiMaggioTommy Henrich
3rdRon GuidryThurman MunsonBill SkowronWillie RandolphHome Run BakerRoger PeckinpaughBrett GardnerEarle CombsRoger Maris
4thLefty GomezJorge PosadaJason GiambiTony LazzeriWade BoggsKid ElberfeldHideki MatsuiBernie WilliamsHank Bauer
5thBob ShawkeyElston HowardWally PippGil McDougaldRed RolfeBucky DentGene WoodlingRickey HendersonDave Winfield
6thMike MussinaMike StanleyMark TeixeiraSnuffy StirnweissClete BoyerTony KubekBob MeuselBobby MurcerReggie Jackson

The pitchers I could probably change around depending on what mood I'm in, but I'm fairly confident in my rankings for the other positions. Some of you might be surprised not to see Andy Pettitte here, given how many years he spent with the Yankees, but I felt he didn't have enough peak value.

The toughest choice was at second base. I originally had Joe Gordon on the 1st Team, but I went with Cano after considering his peak value and longevity. Gordon unfortunately lost two prime years to the war which might have given him the edge. It is a bit hard to believe at first that three quarters of the 2009 Yankees' infield consisted of their best ever players at the position, but it's quite believable after looking at the data.

I was a bit surprised at how weak left field was. If I could count players at multiple positions, Babe Ruth would probably be their best left fielder, but he played more games in right field, so that's where I put him.

The 6th Team here isn't too shabby. Whenever I finish this project, I might try to see which franchise has the best 6th Team. The Yankees seem like they'd be the obvious choice, but perhaps we'll be surprised.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Braves Franchise Deep Six

A few years ago I got the idea of making all-time franchise depth charts. I started with the Yankees and got six players deep at each position before I didn't feel like going further. It was fun, but for whatever reason (probably my usual lack of focus) I didn't do them for any other franchises.

I've decided to try again. If I have the drive to stick with it, I plan to create all-time teams for each franchise. There'll be the 1st Team, as well as the 2nd Team, all the way to the 6th. (Sometimes you're splitting hairs even before you get to the 6th.) I'll then post them here in chart form for easy reading. And since it's been a few years since I made my Yankees depth chart, I'm going to redo that one.

To determine rankings, I plan to take into account not just raw numbers, but longevity and peak value, meaning these lists will be subjective enough to encourage debate (should anyone but me and my few loyal readers ever see them). I also have a few other rules to note:

1. A player can only count at one position for a franchise. He can't be both the left fielder on the 1st Team and the right fielder on the 4th Team, he's got to be ranked at only one position. I want to see a variety of players, not the same guys over and over. Maybe you'd disagree, but hey, it's my project.

2. I'm only counting starting pitchers at the pitcher position.

3. A player must have played at least three seasons for the franchise at a position to qualify for the depth chart. Rogers Hornsby was with the Boston Braves in 1928, and as he was still in his prime, he put up perhaps the greatest season ever for a Braves second baseman. However, it was also his only season with the Braves franchise, so it wouldn't feel right to rank him on their depth chart.

On the subject of the Braves, they're the first team I've finished for this project, so I thought I'd share it here as my monthly post:

1stKid NicholsJoe TorreFred TenneyBobby LoweEddie MathewsJohnny LoganRico CartyAndruw JonesHank Aaron
2ndGreg MadduxDel CrandallJoe AdcockGlenn HubbardChipper JonesRabbit MaranvilleSid GordonWally BergerJason Heyward
3rdWarren SpahnBrian McCannEarl TorgesonTony CuccinelloBob ElliottRafael FurcalLonnie SmithDale MurphyDavid Justice
4thPhil NiekroJavy LopezJohn MorrillMarcus GilesDarrell EvansHerman LongRalph GarrBilly HamiltonTommy Holmes
5thTom GlavineHank GowdyFelipe AlouFelix MillanJimmy CollinsAndrelton SimmonsRyan KleskoHugh DuffyChick Stahl
6thJohn SmoltzPhil MasiFreddie FreemanJack BurdockBilly NashJeff BlauserJoe ConnollyJim O'RourkeGene Moore

It's interesting to see that a franchise as historical as the Braves is fairly weak at first base, second base and left field. Especially second base. Glenn Hubbard sticks out like a sore thumb on that 2nd Team. Why couldn't they have kept Rajah around a bit longer? At pitcher, third base and center field though, they're especially strong.

Perhaps some of you think it's too early to have Freddie Freeman or Andrelton Simmons on these charts. All I can say is that first base is weak enough for Freeman to make it, and Simmons has been great enough in his young career that I feel confident about his place here. I could easily see both of them working their way up to higher teams in future editions of these depth charts.

I hope to have more to share with you next month.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2015 Predictions

With the regular season nearly upon us, I thought it was time to make some predictions for how it'll all play out! Not only will I pick playoff participants, I'll pick the results of the postseason! And you can take these to the bank, for my predictions are never wrong. Ever.

When it comes to playoff results, it's easy to know which teams have a chance simply by being aware of the Oligopoly. Granted, I'm not 100% certain who is and is not in the Oligopoly, but it's generally a pretty reliable guideline to use what you know of it. So here you go:

AL West

1. Oakland Athletics
2. Los Angeles Angels
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Houston Astros
5. Texas Rangers

The Athletics always find a way. They aren't a terribly compelling team, but they know how to maximize their potential.

AL Central

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals*
3. Minnesota Twins*
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Cleveland Indians

I still see Detroit as the best all-around team in the division. The Twins are my pick to be this year's surprise out-of-nowhere team, and I think the Royals have enough left from last year's run to contend again.

AL East

1. Boston Red Sox
2. Baltimore Orioles
3. New York Yankees
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Toronto Blue Jays

The Red Sox never stay down for long. Just when you think you won't have to worry about them for a while, they revamp their team and look like a contender again. I hate them.

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Diego Padres*
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. Colorado Rockies

The Dodgers are still the team to beat. The Padres have made a ton of moves, and I think it should boost them into a Wild Card spot this year, but that's about it.

NL Central

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
3. Chicago Cubs
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Milwaukee Brewers

The Cardinals are pure evil. There's no way they don't win this division.

NL East

1. Miami Marlins
2. Washington Nationals*
3. Atlanta Braves
4. New York Mets
5. Philadelphia Phillies

The Nationals may be the talk of baseball, but I predict they'll underachieve, and that the young Marlins will beat them out for the top spot. I wish it weren't so, but that's how these things go.


AL Wild Card: Royals over Twins

ALDS 1: Royals over Red Sox
ALDS 2: Tigers over Athletics

ALCS: Royals over Tigers

NL Wild Card: Padres over Nationals

NLDS 1: Cardinals over Padres
NLDS 2: Marlins over Dodgers

NLCS: Cardinals over Marlins

World Series: Cardinals over Royals

The only Oligopoly teams I have making the Playoffs are the Red Sox, Cardinals and Dodgers, so we know one of them has to win it. Since the Giants and Cardinals have alternated NL pennants this decade, the Cardinals win by virtue of it being an odd-numbered year. The Marlins may be the exception to the Oligopoly, so I could possibly see them upsetting the Cards in the LCS and then winning the World Series to an empty house at Marlins Park, but I'll stick with the safe choice for now.

As for the Royals, I have them making it back on the momentum of last year's magical run. They'll give baseball a brief ray of hope when they upset the mighty Red Sox in the first round, then beat out the Tigers. Like the 2011 Rangers though, the Cardinals will let the Royals get close, only to steal it away in the end. The Cardinals will have their perfect narrative of avenging the Don Denkinger call 30 years later, and their obnoxious self-loving fans will walk around puffed up with bragging rights once again. Ugh. Stuff like this is the reason I'm not getting particularly excited about this season.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Star-Spangled Ballplayers

The U.S. national anthem is a big part of baseball, almost as big as the players themselves. But what about the few players who have performed both in the game and in the pre-game patriotic ceremony? In my cursory search, I've found six players who have performed it, five with singing, one on the trumpet.

White Sox first baseman Lamar Johnson had a big day in 1977 when he sang the anthem and got all three White Sox hits, including two homers, in a 2-1 Sox victory:

Cub outfielder Dwight Smith had a soulful rendition:

Royals pitcher Jose Lima may be the most interesting member of this list, as he wasn't born in America, and he's clearly not singing in his first language. Lima was always known to be a character.

 <a href="^544x306&playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:1bab105f-d181-44c6-82d9-84abf1afb7f4&showPlaylist=true&from=dest_en-us" target="_new" title="Lima sings the national anthem">Video: Lima sings the national anthem</a>

Former Dodger infielder Nate Oliver and former Oriole Jim Traber are both known to have sung the anthem, but I can't find video of either.

And then we have our trumpeter, former Cub utility man Carmen Fanzone, whose name you may have heard mentioned at the end of the Dwight Smith video. I think this is the anthem I most wish I could hear but can't.

Such a curious list, and definitely an exclusive one.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Congratulations Are in Order, As Well As a List Update

Congrats to our four new members of the Baseball Hall of Fame! Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio are all worthy additions in my book, and I'm glad to see none of them were snubbed. Now the speculation about next year begins...

Until then, you can check out my list of Hall of Famers' first Major League homers, updated to reflect our new additions.