August 23, 2007

30-3...insert lame Matt Stover reference here!

If you watched any of the sports shows tonight, you know that the Texas Rangers beat the tar out of the Orioles.

And yes, the same night that saw a team plate the most runs in 110 years also saw a team score the most runs off of Brandon Webb in the last 42 innings.

One.

You see, one dubious distinction is a fluke (Hell, Wes Littleton came away with the save)…the other is masterful in this age of seven inning starters and hitter friendly ballparks.

What Brandon Webb did is the longest streak since fellow National Leaguer Orel Hershiser threw 59 scoreless innings(Luis Tiant once tossed 40 straight). And while I am not one to suggest putting someone in the Hall of Fame solely on a streak (PAUSE), Orel Hershiser was one of the most dominating pitchers of the late 80s and early 90s.

Let’s put what Orel did into perspective.

First…the scoreless innings streak. We know it spanned Hershiser’s last six starts of the 1988 season (and into the next season), but five were complete games. The sixth, he threw ten scoreless innings. Not too shabby. Let’s delve deeper. In Hershiser’s last nine starts, he gave up FOUR earned runs in 82 innings. That’s an ERA of 0.42 while leading his team into the playoffs and eventually to the World Series, kids. Eight straight complete games out of nine starts to end a season is pretty darned good.

Second…Orel was ARGUABLY one of the most dominant pitchers of the 80s. Hershiser notched 98 wins between 1984 and 1989…an average of 16 per year. To put that into perspective, Roger Clemens had 95, Dwight Gooden had 100 and Bret Saberhagen (remember him?) had 92. Nolan Ryan (the ONLY Hall member to have toed the rubber as a starter for the ENTIRE 80s) had 70 in that same span. Hershiser had an ERA of 2.68 (2.03 in 1985, 2.26 in 1988 and 2.31 in 1989)…second only to Gooden’s 2.64. The other guys mentioned, were all above 3.00. And s
peaking of 1988…Hershiser led the league in wins (23), innings (267) and complete games (15). Add to that his 8 shutouts, the Cy Young Award and his World Series MVP and he had one of the best seasons in recent memory.

Out of curiosity, how does Hershiser stack up against some current Hall of Famers? According to baseball-reference.com is stats are most comparable to Jim Hunter. “Bulldog” has a career record of 204-149 (.576 winning percentage), while “Catfish” went 224-166 (.574). From 1984-1989, Hershiser notched 48% of his wins. Similarly, “Catfish” had a six year run from 1970 to 1975 where he was one of the league’s best (129-63, 56% of his career wins).

Strikeouts were never the forte for either pitcher. “Cat” had 2012 careers Ks…“Dog” had 2014. Their ERAs were a wash as well…3.26 for Hunter, 3.48 for Hershiser. Coincidently, each pitcher brought home the Cy Young Award once and placed in the top four three other times.

Is Hershiser Hall-bound?

Probably not...yet.

But why not? He was one of the best pitchers during a decade that has VERY little mound representation in Cooperstown. Next to Ryan, Dennis Eckersley is the only other pitcher to have a career that spanned the 80s. As far as future Hall of Fame pitchers, Clemens came on board in 1984 (along with Hershiser)…Greg Maddux joined the league in 1986.

While his contemporaries (Gooden, Saberhagen, Frank Viola) failed to reach 200 victories, Hershiser did…and he did it in style.

Somewhere…Jack Morris (my pick for the MOST dominating pitcher of the ENTIRE 80s) is polishing his gun waiting to shoot me for NOT mentioning him anywhere.

Sorry ‘stache.



Ballhype: hype it up!

August 15, 2007

Holy Cow...Someone Died

"Here's the windup, fastball, hit deep to right, this could be it! Way back there! Holy cow, he did it! Sixty-one for Maris! And look at the fight for that ball out there! Holy cow, what a shot! Another standing ovation for Maris, and they're still fighting for that ball out there, climbing over each other's backs. One of the greatest sights I've ever seen here at Yankee Stadium!"

- some guy saying something about someone doing something in 1961

I don't know if it is because I didn't watch baseball in the 40s and 50s or perhaps I'm just jaded (likely)...but is it THAT big of a deal that Phil Rizzuto died? If you watched ANY television last night, you saw that Rizzuto died and the world was in mourning. I'm pretty sure I even heard that flags were to be lowered.

I mean...the guy is a Hall of Fame player and all, but I can't figure out why or how.

His stats are underwhelming by Hall standards...273 avg., 1588 hits and only a .968 fielding percentage. Granted, he had one MVP award, but c'mon...so did Barry Larkin.


Which leads me to...Barry Larkin!

Is Larkin a Hall of Famer? Ask anyone just north of Covington, Kentucky (yes, that's a random shout out) and they'd say "ayup". Ask anyone else and they'd be left scratching their heads.

Me?!? I say "yes".

BUT...it has to be done soon before Omar, A-Rod, Jeter and the like start banging on Cooperstown's doors. The case for Larkin goes like so...295 avg., 2340 hits, 198 homers and a .975 fielding percentage.

Oh, he also has that one MVP award and a World Series ring.

Compare his stats to Ozzie Smith and Pee Wee Reese and they are comparable if not better. Ozzie's average was thirty points lower but had 120 more hits (he also played in 400 more games than Larkin...getting close to 1400 more at bats). Fielding average (the key to Ozzie's greatness)...978. Larkin came in at .975.

Yikes.

Wait, you mean to tell me that Barry Larkin DWARFED the "Wizard of Oz (or was it Ahs)"?!?

Ayup.

For git and shiggles, I went to Baseball Reference to see where some other notables rank compared to Larkin. Omar Vizquel rating was 119 (they say a rating of 100 means you are a shoe-in)...Larkin came in at 118. So does Jeff Kent.

Hmmm...that gives me an idea.


Ballhype: hype it up!

August 5, 2007

755*

*-Denotes: Suck it Bud Selig.

Bonds, A-Rod and Glavine

Hooray…Barry Bonds hit number 755.

Alex Rodriguez became the latest to join the 500 club even though you would have thought that he just his number 800.

Tom Glavine and his 300 wins is next.

This year has CLEARLY become the year of the milestone. And by milestone, I mean the number that seemingly automatically cements someone’s place in Cooperstown. But baseball is tricky sometimes.

Mark McGwire hits 583 out and gets ceremoniously left out of the Hall. Bert Blyleven retires THIRD on the all-time strikeout list (only behind Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton) and can’t buy admittance.

So, that begs the question…is Glavine a shoe-in?

Let’s compare what he has done to someone that the Hall seems to not even recognize as a Major League ballplayer.

The afore mentioned…Bert Blyleven.

People rally AGAINST Blyleven saying that he only garnered the numbers he did because he played 22 seasons. It’s true…he did. However, Glavine is in his 21st season. Blyleven notched 287 wins in his 692 games…Glavine has pitched in 658 and amazingly started all of them. Blyleven has 3701 Ks…Glavine has 2543. Both players have had 17 seasons with ten or more victories. Glavine’s ERA of 3.49 is greater than Blyleven’s 3.31. Do I need to compare Blyleven’s 242 complete games and 60 shut outs to Glavine’s 56 and 25?
I thought not.

Glavine will be the third pitcher (and 23rd overall) to get his 300th victory since 1990 (Clemens and Maddux being the others)…that’s pretty remarkable. He also has five seasons with 20 or more victories…Blyleven did it once. Jim Kaat and Tommy John only did it three times. Hell, Maddux had 20 only twice…but he had 18-plus NINE times.

I ask again…aside from his 300 wins, why is Glavine THAT spectacular? To put it bluntly…he will be the LAST player (yes, you heard me right) to get 300 for a long, long time. After Glavine, Randy Johnson is next on the all-time list with 284…but he might never pitch again.

After that, Mike Mussina comes in with 245. David Wells is ten behind him and Jamie Moyer ten behind Boomer. So, as you can see, there isn’t anyone that’ll match Glavine. Matter of fact, there are 10 pitchers playing right now that have at least 150 victories (half of where Glavine is at) and the youngest of them is 35.

Soak it up baseball fans, enjoy the pitching milestones while you can…you won’t see anything like this for a while.



Ballhype: hype it up!