December 31, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Dave Parker

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

If there was a “Badass Hall of Fame”, Dave Parker would have made it in long ago.

First ballot.

His toothy grin would surely be up on that stage praising Willie Stargell and condemning Marge Schott. Sitting behind him in whatever the “Badass Hall of Fame” requires inductees to wear (I imagine a blazer and a fedora…perhaps accented with a cane) would be such luminaries as Dick Allen and Albert Belle.

No doubt, Parker would bring up that collision with John Stearns during his MVP season of 1978 that broke his jaw and cheekbone. Surely, he’d talk about his return two weeks later when he stepped into the plate wearing a goalie-style mask.

Perhaps he’d mention whether or not that kept him from sneaking smokes in the dugout. Maybe we'd even hear about the battles he had with his weight and the Pittsburgh drug trial of 1985.

Parker was a rebel…nothing like his predecessor in rightfield for the Pirates Roberto Clemente. “The Cobra” played mean and looked meaner.

Early in his career, he could go toe to toe with Stargell when it came to knocking the ball out of the park, he had the hitting prowess to match former teammates Al Oliver and Bill Madlock at the plate and at 6’5” he was surprisingly nimble.

Add to that his cannon for an arm, three Gold Gloves and Parker possessed many of the tools it takes to be a Hall of Famer…”Badass” or otherwise.

As it stands, there are only seven Hall eligible players with more hits that Parker’s 2712…and three of them (Harold Baines, Andre Dawson and Roberto Alomar) are on this year’s ballot. A seven-time All-Star, Parker hit 339 home runs and knocked in 1493 runs. Only Baines, Dawson and fellow member of this year’s ballot Fred McGriff have more and are Hall eligible.

Unfortunately, this is Parker’s 14th time that he’s appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot and never has he even approached a third of the votes needed for induction.

So, until that “Badass Hall of Fame” gets built…we’ll have to just wonder what the career .290 hitter would have had in store for us when he gave his speech.



BallHype: hype it up!

December 30, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Dale Murphy

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

It’s hard to remember how dominant Dale Murphy was when he hit his peak in the mid-80s. Consider this…when he retired, his 398 home runs ranked 19th all-time. Now…he sits at 48.

After winning his back-to-back MVP awards in 1982 and 1983, Murphy appeared to be on his way to Cooperstown.

Now…not so much.

Earlier this year, good friend of The Hall, Josh Bennett, stopped by to sing the praises of Murphy…here goes.

I have an unfortunate addiction to fixating on anything that comes across the TV with a scoreboard.

Golf, tennis (preferably women’s, for obvious reasons), badminton…doesn’t matter. Hell, if I come across MTV and the “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” is on…I want to know who wins in the gauntlet.

This past weekend, I stumbled upon the Under Armor All-America High School Football Game.

I started seeing listings for this guy rated THIS by that service and this guy rated THAT by this service…blah, blah, blah. What intrigued me the most was seeing several players with a position listed as “ATH”.

It stands for “ATHLETE”, which apparently means the individual is far too talented to be listed at just one position.

As I watched several 18 and 19 year-old boys do sack dances and stand over the Blue Chip QB they just hammered, I reminisced about an “ATH” I loved during my youth. He was drafted in the first round by an MLB team and gravitated to become the face of the franchise.

He was drafted as a CATCHER (I know…“ATHLETE” and “CATCHER” in the same paragraph, but give me a second here), but was far too talented to ruin his knees and wreck his offense worrying about how to handle a pitching staff.

Though you may have a recent retiree in mind, don’t even think about saying Craig Biggio…"The Murph” was a catcher with entirely too much offensive talent, a cannon arm and a gait like a gazelle to spend his time rotting away behind the plate.

When the Atlanta Braves made Dale Bryan Murphy the fifth overall pick in the 1974 draft, they knew they were choosing a 6’5” 215-pounder out of Portland, Oregon (when do you get to play baseball in Portland…between downpours?) with an unlimited supply of power from the right side of the plate. Only problem…he’s a catcher and the DH rule wasn’t available to the Senior Circuit.

Besides, Murphy was too good to be DH material anyhow.

After spending his call-up in 1976 and 1977 as a backstop, the Braves had a brainstorm. They needed to move this catcher, with tons of offensive potential, a rocket arm and athleticism for days, to a position that was better suited to his tools…first base!

Now a more accurate reason for Murphy’s switch from first to the outfield in spring training 1980 is Bob Horner, the Braves 1978 first rounder (number one overall pick), needing somewhere to play when he wasn’t fighting off groundballs like a hockey goalie at the hot corner or injured.

Again, I am arguing it was because of Murphy’s athleticism…not too hard though. Murphy’s FIVE Gold Gloves (playing mostly centerfield) wins that debate for me.

So let’s get to it, Dale Murphy should be a Hall of Famer.

He destroyed National League pitching in the 80’s. On top of the five, 24K Rawlings, he was a seven time All-Star and was 30-30 in 1983…year two of back-to-back MVP seasons. He very easily could have won two more…one in 1984 (.290, 36 HR, 100 RBI) and again in 1987 (.295, 44, 105) if not for two Cubs.

Two Cubs!

Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson did both deserve it, not disputing that, but Murphy finished ninth and eleventh in voting respectively in those years. Guys named "Wallach" and "Cruz" finished ahead of him in voting and in ’84 he beat Jody Davis in voting by just 3 points.

Come on…Jody Davis?!? The guy on top of trophies had a better batting stance than him.

How does Murphy stack-up with some current Hall members?

Let’s put him up against two…one a catcher, one a center fielder (irony intended). “The Murph” scored more runs, had more hits and homers than the catcher and won as many MVP awards. The center fielder…Murphy had 2 more MVP awards than him.

Is Murphy better than Johnny Bench and Duke Snider? Probably not.

Does he belong in the same class? Absolutely.

He unfortunately did not have the benefit of playing for, and winning World Series titles like Bench and Snider did. He played in Atlanta when they were shitty at best and he was most, if not all, of what they had.

As I drifted back into consciousness to some wide receiver from the State of Florida committing LIVE, on the spot to the Gators (what a shocker), I longed for the days of a true “ATH.” Like when a 1983 Dale Murphy Topps card made my day when I got one in a pack.

As I recalled the stale flavor of baseball-card-pack bubble gum, I thought to myself what I thought then…“The Murph” sure smells like a Hall-of-Famer.


BallHype: hype it up!

December 29, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Jack Morris

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

When someone brings up Jack Morris…people point to what some call (with all do respect to Don Larsen and Curt Schilling), one of the most memorable performances ever in the World Series.

It was his 1991 post season performance with the Twins (four victories scattered across five games), coupled with his 1984 and 1992 appearances, that make most people stand up and take notice of the mustachioed hurler.

But all those successes aside, it was in the 80s where Morris made a name for himself…not just in October. And it’s safe to say that if the Hall of Fame decides to start looking at pitchers who made their bread and butter throughout the 80s…Morris would be at the top of the list.

Let’s break down the facts.

While not the sole reason to induct someone, Morris had the consistency and durability needed to become the epitome of a pitching Iron Horse. Matter of fact, this innings hog (he had eleven seasons of more than 235 innings pitched) also holds the record for most consecutive opening day starts…14.

And if you thought Cal Ripken’s streak was impressive (it was), Morris went nearly 500 starts without missing his turn in the rotation. He only appeared on the disabled list twice.

Again, not a reason to bronze his head…but not too shabby either.

On to more conventional stats, Morris notched a career 254-186 record…good for a .577 winning percentage.

For the record, 254 wins is more than Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and Whitey Ford among plenty of others. In the 80s alone…Morris won a decade best 162 games, compiled a .577 winning percentage and exhibited his amazing consistency by finishing in the top ten of the Cy Young Award voting in half of the decade’s contests.

He finished in the top five in 1991 and 1992 as well.

As alluded to earlier, Morris was the ace of three World Series teams (he was injured and couldn’t play in 1993 or else there’d be a fourth)…the Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays. And he threw a no hitter.

Instead of repeating myself…let’s look at these numbers from 1979-1992.

WINS
Jack Morris...233
Bob Welch...192
Dave Stieb...174
Nolan Ryan...168

COMPLETE GAMES
Jack Morris...169
Fernando Valenzuela...107
Charlie Hough...106
Dave Stieb...103

ERA (2,200 IP min.)
Nolan Ryan...3.21
Bob Welch...3.32
Fernando Valenzuela...3.34
Dave Stieb...3.39
Dennis Martinez..3.61
Jack Morris...3.71 (8th)

I think the main reason he gets overlooked is his career ERA of 3.90. He never led the league (much less came close to it) and make no bones about it...he gave up a ton of runs. However, his teams produced behind him and regardless of his ERA, he virtually always managed to stay below the league average.

Will Jack get into the Hall? Perhaps.

Does he DESERVE to? Absolutely…but it will take a while.

The Veterans Committee does like to look at players that got close (Morris appeared on a best 44% of the ballots last year) but not close enough. And some day, hopefully, the 80s won’t be as overlooked as they have been in the past.


BallHype: hype it up!

December 28, 2009

Twitter Tuesday...December 29, 2009

If this was a football site, I'd start with something witty about Brett Favre...but, thankfully, it is about baseball.

Unfortunately...not much of anything happened over the last week.



Since we last met, a little holiday called "Christmas" came and went...making this week's Infield Chatter a no brainer.

mattkemp27 (Matt Kemp): Still got to get out and finish my Shopping.

rwells36bsi (Randy Wells): nothing beats hooters with the boys on Christmas eve. ho ho ho!

str8edgeracer (CJ Wilson): go lakers. santa: I want another championship for them, and one for the TX rangers. thanks- cj

DrewStoren (Drew Storen): Watching The Dark Knight with the dog n her snuggie. Merry Christmas!

ESPY_TEAHEN (Mark Teahen): Ah Christmas! Over eating, exccessive gift giving, football, cookies, midnight mass, and a time 2 share the love u have 4 those close 2 u.

G_Sarge_M (Gary Matthews): Happy Halladays, er, Holidays!!!

hyphen18 (Ryan Rowland-Smith): If any of you are checkin twitter right now instead of hanging with your fam's, your in big trouble!





In what appeared to be the tweet spat heard 'round the world...Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman hopped online Sunday night to defend his choice to NOT include Bert Byleven on his Hall of Fame ballot this season.

Here are some of the jabs poor Jon had to endure. Thankfully, with close to 27,000 followers...there were far more supporters than detractors.

lonestarball: Jon Heyman announces his HOF ballot, and it is stupid

leokitty: I can't wait until we're 10 years in the future and Jon Heyman is voting for Andy Pettitte every year for the HOF but not Mike Mussina

petzrawr: I think Jon Heyman is an elitist ass, by the way. Just cuz you have press creds and BBWAA membership doesn't make you a good baseball writer

DashTreyhorn: Jon Heyman voted Jack Morris over Bert Blyleven for the HOF. Attack!

jakelarsen: foolish, yes, dumb, maybe, insane, definitely.

Cox813: Because Bert's HOF resume is near unimpeachable yet he's 3 years away from falling off the ballot because of voters like you.





Sticking with the Christmas theme...I am not sure whether or not to be frightened by this picture of "Tommyclaus".

Yikes!




I was pointed in the direction of the Silva Brothers by former pitcher Jeff Juden (of all people) and I am glad I was. Without his direction, I would never have stumbled upon NY Baseball Digest.

Chris and Mike are pretty active in keeping their followers up to speed on what they are up to and you don't have to be a New York fan to appreciate it.

Have someone you think everyone should follow? Perhaps you yourself have read some interesting tweets in the past week…drop me a line or leave a comment below. See you next Tuesday!


BallHype: hype it up!

Hall of Fame 2010: Mark McGwire

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

Plenty has been written regarding Mark McGwire’s Hall of Fame credentials, but all of them pretty much begin and end with the speculation around whether or not he was guilty of using performance enhancers.

To me, it doesn’t matter.

Even without the steroids discussion, McGwire’s stats don’t warrant the poaitive lip service that everyone is given him.

Sure…“Big Mac” has a heap of home runs. With 583 under his belt, he has more than everyone but seven. As we all know, he was the guy who, in 1998, toppled Roger Maris and his legendary 61 home runs.

And while I’ve heard all the OPS+ arguments, you can take away his tremendous home run total and all you’ve got is a guy who played in a ton (if you consider 12 “a ton”) of All-Star games and had precious little to show for it.

Now, I’m not one of those guys who thinks that McGwire was basically a clone of Dave Kingman…I tend to give him a little more credit than that. When healthy (and McGwire only played in 140 or more games eight times), he was one of the best out there.

The problem I have is that he wasn’t durable, wasn’t consistent and, frankly…was the baseball world’s equivalent to a Long Drive contest participant.

I mean, the fact that McGwire hit a home run once in every ten at bats (and yes, he is first all-time) is impressive. What isn’t is the .263 career batting average, 1626 hits and almost as many (1596) strikeouts.

McGwire was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1987, but not once did he take home an MVP Award. And while you could argue he should have won the hardware in 1998 (and he probably should have), he only managed three Silver Slugger awards.

I realize that many scoff at the hardware argument, but let’s face it…it is all part of the overall package. It’s either the icing on the cake (ask Bert Blyleven) or the entire cake itself (ask Ozzie Smith).

For me, it is the icing and for McGwire…a handful of huge years needed those trophies to go along with them.


BallHype: hype it up!

December 27, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Fred McGriff

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

And only because I can't argue with what Gary Armida over at
FullCountPitch has to say...here is his take on Fred McGriff.

The case of Fred McGriff is quite curious for a number of reasons.

On one hand, he was a player who was remarkably consistent during his career. On the other hand, he was a player whose statistics were often dwarfed by his peers during one of the most controversial eras in Baseball history.

Because of the latter reason, one could often forget a player like Fred McGriff who played for 19 seasons and posted strong numbers. Unfortunately, McGriff played in the era when players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmiero, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa made headlines. This has led to the general feeling that McGriff was not an elite player and that he was simply a solid player with a compiled end result.

It is an interesting debate as McGriff is really one of the first players who actually brings the impact of the era to the forefront. Should he get bonus points because he played at the height of the performance enhancing drug era?

Probably not, but one has to take out the idea of perception when discussing McGriff’s Hall of Fame credentials.

When discussing Hall of Fame candidates, the question about being the most dominant player in the era usually is brought up. It is a question that may likely keep McGriff out of Cooperstown.

However, it is a question that just be unfair.

Read the rest of what Gary has to say
HERE.


BallHype: hype it up!

December 26, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Don Mattingly

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

The “Bronx Bombers” owned baseball in the late 70s. They averaged 98 wins from 1976 to 1980 and took home two world championships.

Owner George Steinbrenner was at his most colorful. He hired and fired Billy Martin twice (he’d make three more stints as manager throughout the 80s) and brought players in left and right to capture the pennant.

Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Goose Gossage all brought in to win.

And they did.

In the decade following, Steinbrenner again opened up his wallet to buy some hardware. He brought in Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Don Baylor to round out a lineup already chock full of established stars like Guidry, Willie Randolph, Graig Nettles and a certain up and coming first baseman.

Steve Balboni.

Problem is…this didn’t work.

The Yankees went from dominating the American League to going twelve straight years of NOT making the playoffs…their longest such streak since BEFORE Babe Ruth came over from BeanTown.
Apparently, you can’t buy chemistry.

Now, to think I’m going to spend the next dozen (or more…probably many more) paragraphs trumpeting Balboni’s career would be insane. Granted, his lifetime numbers of .229, 181 homeruns and 495 RBIs are as rotund as he was, but it’s the Lou Gehrig to Balboni’s Wally Pipp that I’m excited about.

Don Mattingly.

I know what you’re thinking…did this guy lose his mind? He must’ve just got done watching the Cheers finale (that’s a 1993 reference, gang), because “Donnie Baseball” hasn’t been relevant since before the strike of 1994.

Like most of the world, I was enamored with Mattingly when he hit the scene. I had his 1984 Donruss rookie card encased in Lucite and thought I was witnessing the second coming.

That being said, I’m not so sure we weren’t.

During a six-year run beginning in 1984, Mattingly averaged 26 home runs, 114 RBIs and a .327 batting average. No player during that stretch had more RBI than Mattingly's 684, while only Hall of Famer Wade Boggs (1,269) had more hits than Mattingly's 1,219.

That six-year peak (from 1984 to 1989) is clearly one of the best of his generation and overall, his brief career stacks up with some others in the Hall.

Let’s compare him with a recently inducted Hall of Famer and YOU explain to ME why Mattingly can’t get more than 28 percent of the vote. Matter of fact, if someone can tell me how less than ten percent of the voters in 2007 thought Mattingly was Hall worthy…I’m waiting.

So, let’s compare!

HALL CANDIDATE A played in only 1785 games at the major league level. However, in that short career…he notched 2153 hits, 222 homeruns and 1099 RBI.

Known primarily as a contact guy, this player had a career batting average of .307 and an on base percentage of .358. Seven times, this player finished in the top ten in hits and five times, he was in the top ten in batting average…leading the league only once. He had a stretch of five out of six years, where he finished in the top five in RBI.

Let’s look at the trophy case.

HALL CANDIDATE A was once a league MVP and four straight years, he finished in the top ten in voting. He was an All-Star six times and had a surprisingly spectacular glove, bringing home the Gold Glove at his position in nine out of ten seasons.

As I’ve said before, post season accolades can make you or break you. In this player’s career…he had a career post season batting average of .417.

Now…let’s check out the resume of HALL CANDIDATE B by using the same exact criteria. Matter of fact, I’m going to cut and paste the preceding and make the appropriate changes.

Here we go.

HALL CANDIDATE B played in only 1783 games at the major league level. However, in that short career…he notched 2304 hits, 207 homeruns and 1085 RBI.

Like HALL CANDIDATE A, HALL CANDIDATE B was also known as a contact guy. He had a career batting average of .318 and an on base percentage of .360. Ten times, this player finished in the top ten in hits and seven times, he was in the top ten in batting average…leading the league once. Only twice did he finish in the top five in RBI.

Let’s look at the trophy case.

HALL CANDIDATE B was never a league MVP, but there was a stretch where nine times in eleven years, he finished in the top ten in voting. He was an All-Star ten straight years and while he was heralded as having a spectacular glove, he was only golden six times.

Again, as I’ve said before, you have to look at post season accolades. In this player’s career…he had a career post season batting average of .309.

Now, here’s the part where you can separate who is who.

HALL CANDIDATE B has two World Series rings in two chances and if you paid any attention in the first half of this post, you know that Mattingly has none.

So, who is HALL CANDIDATE B? It’s the very guy who gave Mattingly the moniker “Donnie Baseball” of course…Kirby Puckett.

Yeah, the same Kirby Puckett who went into the Hall in 2001...coincidently, both his and Mattingly’s first year on the ballot. 2001 also yielded the highest amount of support for Mattingly…28.2%.

"I don't think I'm a Hall of Famer," Mattingly told Newsday a couple years ago. "I don't think I have the numbers. Part of it is longevity, and I wasn't able to do that and do the things that I did early in my career."

Mattingly is a modest, modest man.

If his numbers show anything it’s that he HAS the numbers. As I’ve shown, his numbers are on par with Kirby Puckett. Sure, neither had the longevity (both were forced out due to injury)...but there are a number of players in the Hall who played in LESS games.

If you’ve heard me sound off about Albert Belle…you know I think the longevity argument is flawed. On the flipside, I think some players play their way into the Hall by playing in too MANY games.

Simply put, the “longevity” argument is garbage and Mattingly is, again, being modest by bringing it up. But I get it, he’s not out there playing the “I’m a Hall of Famer” game like some players do...he’s allowing others to bang his drum.

And I guess that’s what I am doing.


BallHype: hype it up!

December 25, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Edgar Martinez

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

Earlier this off season, we saw Ken Griffey Junior ink a deal to return for another year in Seattle and all I could think about was a day from my youth...June 21, 1991.

You won’t find it in any history books. You won’t even find it over at Wikipedia because there is no significance to it whatsoever.

That being said, look it up at Baseball Reference and you’ll see that on June 21, 1991, Randy Johnson and his Mariners upended Chris Bosio and the Brew Crew 5-1.

Sure bet Hall of Famers Griffey and Johnson were joined by those currently enshrined…Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. Add Seattle’s starting shortstop Omar Vizquel to the mix and outside of an All-Star game, when was the last time you can say you saw five Hall of Famers on the field at the same time?

But did we see a sixth?

No, I’m not talking about Alvin Davis (even though I was huge on the former Rookie of the Year)…I’m talking about Seattle’s then starting third baseman Edgar Martinez.

Edgar Martinez a Hall of Famer? I can hear you scoffing now.

With Harold Baines not able to get more than six percent of the vote, how can “Papi” fair any better? Will Martinez be the guy that forces the writers to forget their perceived bias against full-time designated hitters?

Who knows? He’s getting a ton of support…but is it justified? Did Martinez do enough to garner consideration?

I’m on the fence.

I mean, unlike some of the other players that have been chronicled here at The Hall…Martinez doesn’t SMELL like a Hall of Famer to me. He has no “magic numbers”, but should we overlook that in the case of the Martinez? After all, this is the same dude that, in 2004, Major League Baseball named their yearly DH award after!

After a lengthy stay in the minors, Martinez proved that he was all hit and no field and that’s exactly why the Mariners cautiously took a chance on him.

Prior to the 1993 season, their optimism won out when Martinez tore his hamstring and never fully recovered. Sure, this hindered his ability to be an every day fielder…but not his ability to be a full-time hitter.

Two seasons later, he became the first (and to date, only) DH to win a batting title when he led the league with a .356 average.

But again, can a full-time DH find his way to Cooperstown? In the case of Martinez, I suggest you need to look at his qualifications first, then take into account the position he played.

At the forefront of his accomplishments is the fact that Martinez one of only seven players that have 300 home runs, 500 doubles, a career batting average above .300, a career on-base percentage above .400 and a career slugging percentage above .500.

And who are the other six? Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby and future Hall member Manny Ramirez. Not exactly a bad crowd to be affiliated with.

Martinez retired with a career batting average of .312, seven All-Star game appearances, five Silver Slugger awards and two batting titles. While he never brought home an MVP award, he finished third in 1995 and sixth in 2000.

It is easy to speculate that if Martinez was an every day player…he might have taken home the award in either one of those seasons. In 2000, he batted .324 with a career best 37 home runs and a league leading 145 RBI…and was 37 when he did it!

In what was the best span of his career (1995 to 2001), Martinez had a batting average of .329. More than half (1196) of his career hit total (2247) came during this time.

In 1995 and 1996 Martinez topped 50 doubles, making him only the fifth player to accomplished back-to-back seasons of 50 or more doubles. During the afore mentioned seven year stretch, he averaged 42 two baggers a season.

Apparently batting behind the likes of Griffey, Alex Rodriguez and Ichiro had their benefits too. From 1995 to 2001, Martinez averaged 110 RBI and six times in those seven years, Martinez topped 100 RBI.

The guy is Seattle’s all-time leader in a number of their major offensive categories. He’s in their top ten in a slew of others. It’s even said that Martinez “saved Seattle baseball” with a series-winning double versus the Yankees in the 1995 American League Division Series.

So does the face of Seattle baseball, full-time designated hitter or not, deserve a plaque in Cooperstown?

Again…I’m on the fence.

We’re talking about a guy who wasn’t an every day player until he was 27 and because of that (and the hamstring injury)…his peak was much later than some of his contemporaries. He hit none of the magical milestones, brought home none of the prominent hardware and since the Mariners didn’t have much post-season success…neither did he.

Edgar Martinez is a guy who will probably stick around on the ballot for the entire 15 years that he’s allowed. After that, I suspect, his fate will be in the hands of the Veteran’s Committee.


BallHype: hype it up!

December 24, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Barry Larkin

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

If you peruse the list of shortstops that grace the halls of Cooperstown, you won't find that many household names. You'll find even fewer modern day greats.

Sure, Cal Ripken Jr. is in there...as is Robin Yount, but they played a good number of games away from short. One of the most colorful (and recognizable) cats in the Hall is Ozzie Smith, but outside of a great glove, flashy smile and a gazillion All-Star Game appearances...his case could be debated.

Which leads me to Barry Larkin.

Ask anyone just north of Covington, Kentucky (and yes, that's a random shout out) and they'd say Larkin is every bit worthy of Cooperstown enshrinement. Ask anyone else and they'd be left scratching their heads.

Me?

I say "yes"...but that comes with a "but".

Larkin needs to get in before guys like Omar Vizquel, A-Rod, Derek Jeter and the like start banging on Cooperstown's doors. If not, Larkin's stat line of a .295 batting average, 2340 hits, 198 homers and a .975 fielding percentage starts looking paltry.

He also has that one MVP award, a Championship ring (he hit .353 in the 1990 World Series), was a member of the 1984 Olympic Team and even though the sheep at Baseball Think Factory don't think it matters...12 All-Star Game selections.

Getting back to the "Wizard of Oz"...you can compare his offensive stats to Larkin and they are comparable if not worse.

Smith's average was thirty points lower (.262 versus .295) but he managed 120 more hits. He also played in 400 more games than Larkin...getting close to 1400 more at bats. There really isn't an offensive stat (outside of stolen bases) where Smith outshines Larkin.

But as the argument goes...Larkin was an offensive presence, Smith made his money on defense. 2010 Hall of Fame inductee Whitey Herzog once said that "if (Smith) saved two runs a game on defense...that was just as valuable to the team as a player who drove in two runs a game on offense."

So what about fielding? Larkin carried a .975 fielding percentage, whereas Smith had a .978. Smith made it look effortless and easy, but as Larkin's three Gold Gloves will tell you...he was no slouch.

For kicks, I went to Baseball Reference to see where some other notables rank compared to Larkin. Omar Vizquel rating was 104 (they say a rating of 100 means you are a shoe-in)...Larkin came in at 118.

I guess I'm not alone with my endorsement.



BallHype: hype it up!

December 23, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Ray Lankford

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

You know, there used to be a time when I routinely confused Ray Lankford with Brian Jordan and Bernard Gilkey. But...I had a system as to how I could tell them apart.

In 1993, I met Gilkey at the Quincy Mall in Quincy, Illinois. Jordan, a two-sport star, was a former cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons.

And Lankford...well, he was the other one.

All kidding aside, Lankford had a pretty formidable career compiling five seasons of 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases with the Cardinals. No other player in St. Louis franchise history was able to accomplish the feat more than once.

At the time of his retirement, Lankford was third all-time (he is now fifth) on the Cardinals home run list and when the doors closed at Busch Stadium a couple of years ago...he held the distinction of having hit the most balls out of its storied yard.

A good player...most certainly.

A great Cardinal...absolutely.

A Hall of Famer...sorry, Ray.



BallHype: hype it up!

Hall of Fame 2010: Eric Karros

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

Look at the “Pat Hentgen” post a couple of days ago, but swap out “1996 American League Cy Young Award” with “1992 National League Rookie of the Year”.

In short…same result.

In all seriousness, the former first baseman Karros is/was basically the poor man's Mark Grace on and off the field. Sure, Karros topped 30 home runs and 100 RBI five different times over his thirteen year career (all but two were with the Dodgers), but outside of that...he didn't accomplish much.

Last year, Grace charmed 22 voters (4.1%) into thinking he was Hall of Fame material. Unfortunately for Karros, this year...he'll get less.


BallHype: hype it up!

December 22, 2009

Twitter Tuesday...December 22, 2009

Normally, I look over my Twitter lists throughout the weekend and then, by Monday night...have an assemblance of what to write about for Twitter Tuesday.

This week, the holidays, vacation time and family got in the way. So to the eight of you that are regulars...all apologies.

HOWEVER, if you've been following the 2010 Hall of Fame breakdown (and if you have...thanks), you'll find THIS interesting. I mean...you all were smart enough to get the sarcasm, right? Right?!?



Holidays can stop the Chatter and the Buzz, but nothing, I mean NOTHING can stop...The Wisdom of Tommy Lasorda. Clearly, it is this picture alone that makes this week's submission worthwhile. Frankly, there is no need to re-post the tweet.

Enjoy!





With sleep deprevation and time working against me, it was actually easier than I thought to come up with someone to follow this week. The sad part...it had more to do with mustaches than them being from Babes Love Baseball.

As a supporter of the 'stache (remember Mustache May, gang)...I find it refreshing to find a group of lasses that apparently have embraced it as well. Nice work, ladies!

Have someone you think everyone should follow? Perhaps you yourself have read some interesting tweets in the past week…drop me a line or leave a comment below. See you next Tuesday!


BallHype: hype it up!

Hall of Fame 2010: Mike Jackson

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

Wow, it seems like just yesterday we lost the "King of Pop" and today...his namesake, Mike Jackson is awaiting Cooperstown's call.

Now that the obligatory Michael Jackson reference is out of the way, we can continue.

Jackson is 12th all-time (among pitchers) in games played with 1005…three more than Hall of Famer Goose Gossage. Pretty impressive until you realize that numbers 1 through 11 consist of such notables as Dan Plesac and two other “Mikes”…Mike Stanton and Mike Timlin.

Here are some more fun facts about the journeyman righty...thanks Wikipedia!

Jackson's best year in the majors was in 1998 with the Indians, saving 40 games with a 1.55 ERA! He is tied with Paul Assenmacher for most games pitched in the 1990s (644) and according to The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers, Jackson's slider was rated in the Top 20 of all-time.

All that aside, something tells me that Cooperstown isn’t ready for the journeyman closer/set up man yet.

Now beat it! ZING!


BallHype: hype it up!

December 21, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Pat Hentgen

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

In 1996, Hentgen took home the American League Cy Young Award. This January, he’ll have celebrated his lone year on the Hall of Fame ballot.

So here's the thing with Pat Hentgen...he was instrumental in helping lead the Blue Jays to the World Series in 1993 and he's got more Cy Young Awards (one) and more All-Star Game appearances (three versus two) than Bert Blyleven. However, one will garner little to no attention on this year's ballot.

The reason...one has become (for some reason) the darling of the writers and the other is named "Pat Hentgen".

I wish I had more to say.


BallHype: hype it up!

December 20, 2009

Hall of Fame 2010: Andres Galarraga

From now until the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2010 is announced, The Hall is going to be breaking down each candidate. Some write ups will be lengthy...some will be the opposite. Some will be brand new pieces...some will be re-hashes of previous pieces.

You can go both ways with the “Big Cat”.

Take away the “Coors Factor” and Galarraga is the poor man’s Will Clark. Take into account that he did play in Colorado during the prime of his career and he’s borderline Willie Stargell-like.

Galarraga's peak from 1993 to 2000 (he was out all of 1999 while battling lymphoma) was spectacular. Those seven seasons accounted for more than half (200) of his home runs and 800 RBI.

His five years with the Rockies (Galarraga was an original "Blake Street Bomber") has proven to be one of the most productive stretches in team history and it’s hard to ignore 399 home runs, 1425 RBI and a career .288 batting average.

Wait, the writers do routinely…and, again, they call him “Harold Baines”.

The problem with Galarraga is easy...he put up his numbers at the wrong time. It's hard to be overwhelmed with his stats when you have guys like Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell or even Fred McGriff playing the same position at the same time.

And I hate to go back to it, but people will always look at "Big Cat" and think of his stats being inflated by the thin Denver air. But put all that aside, you've got an insanely popular guy who had six top ten MVP finishes, five All-Star Game appearances and two Gold Gloves.

However...he's no Hall of Famer.


BallHype: hype it up!