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Thursday, February 26, 2004

Hey! Who's that? 




Blasted computer has been impeding my progress for three days now. Just so you reader's know, I've written the AL East first basemen thing twice so far, and both times it was lost somewhere on my computer so no find nor search function can find it.

Drat.

Anyway, sit back for a second, gentle reader, and think about the players that you like. Of course there are some starts, like Pedro Martinez if you love pitching, Barry Bonds if you like hitting, or Derek Jeter if you like guys diving meekly as a ball bounces into left center field. But what about the lesser-known players. The kind of guy that if you asked Joe Fan about him, he would say "I dunno, he's that dude that plays for that team." An example of this from real life would be the John C. Reilly Phenomenon.

Before "Chicago" came out, fans of Reilly knew he was in "Hoffa", and "Boogie Nights", and "The Thin Red Line", but Joe Movie Fan wouldn't know who he was. Maybe that he was Dirk Diggler's friend in Boogie Nights.

My point in all this is that there are fans out there that like bizarre players. They like the Ben Webers, the Morgan Ensbergs, and the Augie Ojedas. Personally, I have a whole list of guys I like for no real reason. It's usually guys that are underrated by traditional baseball fans, or guys that do something unheralded well. Back in October/November, I professed my love of Mark Bellhorn. Keith Foulke was on this list before he blew up and became a Proven Closer. Mike Cameron is on the list. Carlos Beltran is probably vastly underrated by people, even though fans recognize he is a star. Mike Timlin. Dmitri Young. Octavio Dotel. People like that.

The criteria is usually a guy that is fun to watch.

Today, I introduce you to Brian Schneider.

Schneider does one thing really well, and that is play defense. If you watch him play catcher, everything is very fluid, and exact. It's fun to watch. If I was Tom Emanski, I would stop fooling around with people like Fred McGriff and get Schneider to teach catching technique. Generally, he is the receiver that Jason Varitek gets credit for being, combined with a laser throwing arm.

With the stick, he's generally alright, but he's a better hitter then the man he replaces, Michael Barrett. His batting eye is respectful for a part-time catcher, posting a .069 IPD, and he can very occasionally knock an extra base hit. His ISlug is .164, and his Secondary Average is a not-to-shabby .249 (.269 in 2003).

Blah blah blah, is what your thinking. I don't care. He's a fun guy to watch catch, and he's not completely lost with the bat. Schneider is entering his age 27 season. Keep an eye on him in the case you might catch an Expos game on ESPN Du Sport.


Monday, February 23, 2004

The East is a Beast: The Catchers 




How does one go about deconstructing the American League East?

It is a tall task. No division in baseball has improved it’s talent level in a comparable way. Some people will mention how the Cubs got Derrek Lee, and the Astros hauled in Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens, but every team in the East got better this offseason. Like I’ve been saying, Tampa might have their most talented team in their history, and still finish with 100 losses.

It kinda makes me feel bad for the AL’s weaker sisters.

It kinda makes me feel very glad to root for one of the Haves in the league.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be looking at the players that make up the strongest division in baseball. Today, the journey begins with the people that keep the ball from rolling to the backstop: The Catchers.

Baltimore Orioles
Starter: Javy Lopez .328/.378/.687 (Atl) 5.39 DWS/1000
Backup: Geronimo Gil .237/.299/.314 (Bal) 3.64 DWS/1000

Here is a fun little exercise:
Javy Lopez v. 2000: .287/.337/.484
Javy Lopez v. 2001: .267/.332/.425
Javy Lopez v. 2002: .233/.299/.372
Javy Lopez v. 2003: .328/.378/.687

Why don’t we add two more stats to the list:
Javy Lopez v. 2000: .287/.337/.484 .050 .197
Javy Lopez v. 2001: .267/.332/.425 .065 .158
Javy Lopez v. 2002: .233/.299/.372 .066 .139
Javy Lopez v. 2003: .328/.378/.687 .050 .359

The first added column is isolated plate discipline, and the second is isolated slugging. Essentially, it’s OB% and Slug % independent of batting average.

So what happened? Lopez gained a lot of power after three straight years of decline. Javy’s walk rate declined in 2003, even after going up for two years. What does it all mean?

I really don’t know. Lopez’s career really has no definite trends. Most players have learning curve, followed by a peak/plateau, followed by a decline. Javy hasn’t had that. He was good quickly, then collapsed, then peaked. The only real trend I found is that when his Iso PD goes down, his Iso Slug goes up. Maybe his whole thing is that he needs to hack. Or maybe not.

Either way, Javy Lopez is not going to repeat his 2003. Chances are, the change of scenery will not push him to 2002 levels (Camden is more hitter friendly then Turner). Lopez v. 2001 isn’t a bad expectation.

Geronimo Gil is a generic backup catcher. He’s put up some nice minor league numbers, but hasn’t really been good in the major’s, save for a stretch of a few weeks in 2002 when he hit a bunch of homers. If Javy goes down, there is some trouble in Charm City.

Boston Red Sox
Starter:Jason Varitek .273/.351/.512 (Bos) 3.23 DWS/1000
Backup:Doug Mirabelli .258/.307/.448 (Bos) 2.54 DWS/1000

A few short words on Jason Varitek.

He is overrated by Sox fans.

His defense is probably better then what Win Shares says, but its not spectacular. He might be the “best at calling a game” or the “best at blocking balls in the dirt” but Brad Ausmus was said to do the same thing, and his defense is actually pretty good.

Varitek is Boston’s version of Derek Jeter, people looking at the tangible aspects of his game see he doesn’t really match up to more famous catchers, so the gap will be made up with the “intangibles” argument.

Varitek might be the quiet leader of the Red Sox. He might be a consummate professional in all aspects of his game. Pitchers might love working with him. Hell, there is no reason for me to think otherwise. It doesn’t change the fact that he doesn’t have a great arm. My only point is that it isn’t enough to be considered an elite catcher in the league.

Varitek brings good offense, decent defense, and a throwback attitude to the game. For that I love him. Not enough to sign him to big dollars this offseason when our best prospect is a catcher. If Kelly Shoppach needs a caddy, and Varitek needs $7 million per year, then let Mirabelli do it for much less money.

Speaking of Mirabelli, I think he’s the President of the Backup Catchers Union (Local 28). He hits lefties well, he has a nice arm, and doesn’t wear batting gloves when he hits. Nice guy to have around for cheap.

New York Yankees
Starter:Jorge Posada .281/.405/.518 (Nyy) 6.47 DWS/1000
Backup:John Flaherty .267/.297/.457 (Nyy) 6.07 DWS/1000

Comparison between Posada and Varitek:
BA: Posada (.281-.273)
OB%: Posada (.405-.351)
Slug: Posada (.518-.512)
Runs: Posada (83-63)
2b: Varitek (31-24)
3b: Varitek (1-0)
HR: Posada (30-35)
GIDP: Varitek (10-13)
RC+: Posada (101-78)
RC/27+: Posada (7.42-5.99)

Now, any objective fan can look at those numbers and say that offensively, it isn’t very close. One objective measure found that Posada is better then Varitek defensively. I’m not willing to go that far, since Varitek is very good at blocking balls in the dirt, and Posada isn’t (by his own admission). I’d give Varitek an edge in defense, but not enough to really close the gap between the two.

Can intangibles do it?

Though the intangibles argument might be most relevant at catcher then any other defensive position, teams generally win and lose games based on performance, not how many times a player misses a photo shoot. Varitek might have intangibles that make Jeter blush, but Jorge Posada is just better.

John Flaherty can always say he broke up a Pedro Martinez no-hitter, and he was traded even up for Rich Rowland, a catcher of dubious age and skill level.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Starter: Toby Hall .253/.295/.380 (Tam) 6.32 DWS/1000
Backup: Brook Fordyce .273/.311/.371 (Bal) 3.64 DWS/1000

Toby Hall came into the league with the promise of a little bit of power, good defense, and a nifty little walk rate.

Right now the only thing that he succeeded in is becoming the best defensive catcher in the East.

It’s hard to find a silver lining to Hall’s offensive game. He doesn’t get on base. He doesn’t hit for power. He doesn’t hit for a high average. He had some potential that goes untapped. On the plus side, he doesn’t strike out very often. On the minus side, he’s 28 in 2004, and not likely to get better.

His goatee also looks like a scrotum. I figure why not continue to kick a guy when he’s down and not very good.

Brook Fordyce is funny because when ever he is up, I subconsciously I think about pitcher’s fear. People talk about how Bonds is feared, and how Rice was feared, and how so-and-so is feared. I was sitting in Camden Yards last August and thought “does any pitcher fear Brook Fordyce?”

As it turns out, Derek Lowe should. Fordyce kills him, to the tune of a .556 ob%. He has a higher slug against Wakefield.

Toronto Blue Jays
Starter: Greg Myers .307/.374/.502 (Tor) 1.30 DWS/1000
Backup:Kevin Cash .270/.331/.442 (Syr) 1.48 DWS/1000 (Tor)

Greg Myers was one of my favorite players in baseball last year. Here is a guy who has hung around 16 years, and set career highs in everything from games played to everything else at age 37.

Catchers at 37 aren’t supposed to have career years. Myers did. I actually have a feeling about this. All through Myers’ career, he was a back up catcher, and probably deservedly so. He wasn’t very good.

However, taking the Sabermetric axiom, “Good organizations accentuate what a players’ strength is, rather then expose his weaknesses are.” Last year the Blue Jays did just that, switching him from a backup catcher to the lefty half of a platoon. Myers responded by having his best year.

Generally, I would expect a pretty steep decline for Myers this year, since 38-year-old catchers don’t do well. Good thing the Blue Jays have Kevin Cash. I guess.

Two years ago, Cash, an undrafted free agent out of Florida St., moved more famous catching prospects Josh Phelps to 1B/DH, and Jayson Werth to the OF. From what his numbers look like in the minors, he looks like a good bet to have a backup catcher’s career. He’s a nice little guy to have around if you need someone who has a solid defensive reputation and can once in a while hit the ball. It worked for Brian Schiedner.

Rank for 2004
1. Jorge Posada
2. Jason Varitek
3. Javy Lopez
4. Greg Myers
5. Brook Fordyce
6. Toby Hall
7. Doug Mirabelli
8. Kevin Cash
9. John Flaherty
10. Geronimo Gil

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Keltner List and You: Part 5 




What does the Hall of Fame mean?

To me, the Hall is the ultimate honor in the game. I think that it should be left for the best of the best. The ideal, in my eye, is that the Hall should be left for the transcendent athlete. The best of the best.

Without setting concrete standards, I would say the top 10 at each position would be locks, and everyone else should be kicked out. Then, among the booted, the best would be let back in, sprinkling in the newly eligible. This standard would be expanded for pitchers, maybe to top 30 or so, just because there have been more great pitchers then greats at any other singular position.

That brings us to the Keltner List. This list, named after former Cleveland Indians third baseman Ken Keltner, is 15 subjective questions used as a type of analytical notekeeping. It helps organize the thoughts about the Hall worthiness of a particular candidate.

Here are the various Lists in this little project:
Jim Rice
Dwight Evans
Pedro Martinez
Burt Blyleven

What do I think?

Jim Rice

No.

Defenders of Rice said that he was the most feared power hitter in baseball during his prime. I don't understand why really. He was a very good hitter, but I think I would have been more afraid of guys that could actually put the ball in play with out being doubled up.

I'm over simplifying of course, Rice was a hell of a baseball player. He was also overrated by putting up very good traditional statistics (BA, HR, RBI) in a Fenway that was doing it's Coors Field 70s impression. When compared to contemporaries like Fred Lynn and Ken Singleton, Rice just comes up short.

His peak was pretty short, and his collapse was fast and embarrassing.

Dwight Evans

No.

I believe that Dwight Evans was actually a better baseball player then Jim Rice. Rice's numbers were gaudy, but put up in an extreme hitter's park, in a slight hitter's era. Evans's were more subtle, put up in a slight pitcher's era, in a slight hitter's park.

Dewey had walks, defense, some speed, a good amount of power, and a goofy batting stance. Rice had not many walks, not much defense, a great amount of power, and just looked like an RBI up there. Personally, I would take Evans' skill set. His peak lasted a svelte 10 years, and his career actually started before, and ended after Jim Ed's.

Unfortunately, Evans just wasn't good enough. I would definitely put Dewey in the Hall of the Very Good though.

Pedro Martinez

Yes.

Pedro Martinez is linked to Sandy Koufax, because of their stretch of dominance, and their propensity to have arm problems. I did a Runs Saved analysis, which takes era and park into consideration, and it wasn't even close.

Through 12 years of their career, Koufax saved 452 runs for his team. In Pedro's first 12 years: 733. Considering a pitcher's job is to prevent runs...

Burt Blyleven

Yes

Blyleven is boring. I will say that in the comment section of the Blyleven Keltner list, Gerbil said something along the lines "No one got pumped up for a Blyleven start."

In asking people who had a chance to see Blyleven pitch they seconded his opinion. And I think that might be his hook. Blyleven was so good for 2 decades, but was overshadowed by flasher, and sometimes inferior pitchers. There was Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Steve Carlton, and Tom Seaver, and that made Blyleven fade into the background.

In dealing with this question, I had to ask myself, "Is it better to be a solid #2 for 20 years, or a #1 for 8, and a #4 for 12?"

Blyleven is, in essence, the #2 starter for the 70s and 80s. He was never excellent, but he was great for a long enough time. Plus, he's the #5 (#3 when he retired) strikeout pitcher of all time, and has the most wins of someone not in the Hall for a guy that was on some pretty shitty teams. I think being consistently great for 20 years fills the criteria for the Hall of Fame.


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Keltner List and You: Part 4 




ARod Fever…Catch it!

Actually, this is more like Blyleven fever.

You give me fever.

Fever!

Part 3: Burt Blyleven

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

Newspaper archives really don’t really help me out here. Blyleven didn’t really play in baseball mad environments, so the relative anonymity might be a big minus. A quick check of people older then I who had a chance to see Burt play said this:

“BWAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”

I think its safe to say that Blyleven was not ever considered the best player in baseball.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

In 1973, and 1989, he was probably the best player those Twins and Angels teams. That is actually a big reason why Blyleven isn’t thought of as being as good as he was. The man had a career that was broken up so much that its tough to get a read on his actual skill level. That’s what happens when your best years are 16 years apart on two different teams.

In 1971-1975, 1977, 1981, 1984-1986, and 1989, he was the best pitcher on his team. In 1985, he was actually still the best Indian despite his trade to the Twins on August 1st.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

In 1973, the Holland Hammer was the best pitcher in the AL (better then Ryan), and shared the honor of Best Pitcher in the World with Tom Seaver.

1989 was the Year of Saberhagen, the Return. Sorry Burt.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

The three years he made the playoffs, he pitched well in September, posting a 3.01 ERA. His call up in 1970 helped push the Twins into the ALCS. I guess that’s ok.

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

Blyleven had the general pattern of all very good players. He peaked, the plateau’ed, he declined, and then he had a one year return to greatness. Blyleven was affective as a pitcher until 1989, at age 38. After that, he treaded water.

6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

No. I would say that players such as Ron Santo and Minnie Minoso were better players.

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?

This is a big one. Eight of the ten players deemed most comparative to Blyleven are in the Hall. Sutton, Perry, Jenkins, Roberts, Seaver, Wynn, Niekro (?), and Carlton are all in. Tommy John, and Jim Kaat watch from the outside, but they wouldn’t be the worst pitchers in the Hall.

8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

Sure, by Standards he ranks an average 50. The Monitor ranks him a tad bit higher with a score of 120.5.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

He was called a leader. I watched an TWIB with him in the late 80s that was him talking about pitching while picking his nose the whole time. It was kinda gross, but my seven-year-old mind thought it was awesome.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

Carl Mays is the only pitcher that can really claim being better than Blyleven. Maybe Goose Gossage. He’s still a top 30-35 pitcher in big league history.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

He was never the MVP of his league, and probably didn’t ever deserve it. He never came particularly close to winning the Cy Young either, but, as most awards, I’ll chalk that up to writer idiocy.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?

Despite being one of the best pitchers in baseball in 1989, Rik stayed at home. He was only invited to two All Star games. Again, a very bad oversight and a pox on the fans.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

Neither the 1973 Twins, nor the 1989 Californians were pennant teams. He was the best starting pitcher for the 1979 Pirates that won the World Series. Kent Tekulve really was something that year. We are family…

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

He is currently fifth on the all time strikeout list. He is also the winningest pitcher to not be in the Hall with 287. Other then that, nothing really.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Oh heck, I don’t know. He was Dutch for God sakes.

Monday, February 16, 2004

This column has been rated R for Rod 




As enthralling as a multi-day feature on the prospects of various people going to the Hall of Fame is, that series will have to take a brief hiatus for two reasons.

1. Someone requested the working of a Keltner list on Burt Blyleven, which means I have to rewrite the, as always, well crafted and typo free analysis that Dewey’s House is famous for.

2. Something kinda big happened this weekend.

That something, of course, was Randall Simon signing with the Pirates.

Simon is a fun player to watch. He’s fat and swings at everything. Actually, that’s not fun to watch. It sucks balls. Some people, by some people I mean idiots, say Randall Simon is a good baseball player because he hits for a high average and…

Aw, shitfuck my heart isn’t in it.

Alex Rodriguez is theoretically being traded from the Texas Rangers to the New York Yankees for Alfonso Soriano.

I say theoretically because the trade has approval from the Yankees, the Rangers, and the MLBPA. All it needs is Bud Selig’s go-forward. In an effort to help ESPN farther paint Red Sox fans as pathetic whiners, here are some of the thoughts that went through the old dome in the last few days.

*The trade was made up. Damn media.
*Texas won’t do it because they need pitching, have two second baseman, and because Hicks wouldn’t alienate the hundreds of Rangers fans out there by saying that ARod would be in Texas for a while
*Remember how ARod said he wouldn’t play for the Yankees? Maybe he’ll demand a trade and opt out of the contract after 2004!
*Maybe Bud Selig, growing balls for the first time in his life, will veto the trade in a stunning Bowie Kuhn-like, best interests of baseball move.
*Well, fuckshit.

Then I realized I was a grown up and can’t think like that.

As a Red Sox fan, this trade sucks. It sucks simply because a team in our division traded for the best player in the world (I don’t count Bonds here. Barry Bonds can no longer be called a man, but a baseball deity), and in the process, pushed their payroll to almost unthinkable margins.

As much as this trade sucks however, there are a few very important points to remember. One is that the world is not over. Baseball is still to be played.

Another is that, whereas I don’t think the Red Sox are marginally better than the Yankees, the Yankees are not really anything better then being marginally better than the Red Sox. To really understand this point is to have a basic understanding of a high school economics lesson.

Look back to January. The Yankees had Aaron Boone at 3b, and Alfonso Soriano at 2b. By Tuesday, they will have ARod at 3b, and Miguel Cairo at 2b. For 2003, Boone and Soriano notched 33 Win Shares for the Yankees (50 if you include Boone’s time with the Reds). By the main principle of Win Shares, that is 16.7 Wins (using Boone’s Cincy total). For those theoretic wins, in 2004, the Yankees would have counted $11 million AAV against the luxury tax.

But wait! Win Shares aren’t predicative! Bill James told us that! Yes he did, but since I can’t see into the future, this is the best we can do.

Even if you stipulate that Soriano and Lamb were the replacements, then that number turns into 27 shares and $6.6 million. Nine wins.

Now take out Soriano and Boone (Lamb) and that gives you ARod and Miguel Cairo/Enrique Wilson. ARod earned 32 WS last year. Cairo earned 3. Wilson 2. That breaks down to 37 Shares, or 12.3 wins. For an AAV of $27 million.

What does this all mean? It’s the Law of Diminishing Returns. If you take out the scrubs in the calculus (Boone, Lamb, Wilson, Cairo) and compare the primaries of the deal, the Yankees are paying $20 million more towards the luxury tax for 2 more wins. ARod might be the best player in baseball, but as a Red Sox fan, it doesn’t mean the end of the world.

Finally, the last point might not mean much, but it still makes me chuckle. If you have been paying attention to the whole saga you know that ARod agreed to move to third base to accommodate Derek Jeter. Here you have a two-time Gold Glove winning shortstop moving out of position. Why?

The answer of course is a macho pride I can assume lives in Yankee land. They don’t want to ask Jeter to move. Despite the fact that he can’t play shortstop anymore, they are keeping him there. It makes me chuckle because the Yankees are making a huge mistake. They are letting either Jeter’s intangibles or ego standing in the way of actually winning baseball games.

It’s funny because they are keeping the inferior fielder at the harder position, and in doing so they are taking away a slice of ARod’s effectiveness. Apparently, the Yankees and Derek Jeter can’t be bothered to maximize the chance of winning a baseball game.

It makes me chuckle because it’s the Yankee Way.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Keltner List and You: Part 3 




At 10 a.m. this morning, I had one of my well-thought out and insanely-popular posts on the Hall of Fame. I hit post, then publish, and I thought all was well in the world.

Blogger had different ideas.

Long story short, this is my second version of the Keltner list for Pedro Martinez. Some of the questions will be tough to answer, considering he is still active.

Part 3: Pedro Martinez

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

There was a time a few years ago when Jesus of Nazareth was said to have walked on water, healed leapers, turned water into wine, and became the basis of a religion.

There was a time when Pedro of Manogauyabo rose from Montreal, threw six perfect innings against a great offense, in the playoffs, while injured, and posted a 1.74 ERA when the league was scoring 5.30 a game, and was deified by a city.

Jesus might be the only one who was better than Pedro was from 1999-2000.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

Martinez was the best pitcher on the Red Sox every year of his tenure except for 2002. And that includes the 2001 season when he only pitched in 116.7 innings.

He was the best overall Expo in 1997, and the best Red Sox in 2000.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

In 1999 and 2000, Martinez was the best player in baseball at hurling. It goes without saying he was the best pitcher in the AL.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

The Red Sox made the playoffs in 1998, 1999, and 2003. For his career in September, he is 21-14, 2.50 era, which is slightly lower then his career mark of 2.58.

Pedro was the best pitcher down the stretch for the Red Sox each of these years. People still talk about his transcendent performance at Yankee Stadium in 1999, when he struck out 17, and the only hit he allowed was a Chili Davis homer.

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

We soon shall see.

6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

I would say no. I’m going to get Ron Santo in there if it kills me. Also, Pedro has plenty of time to make up any ground he might have. By the time he retires, he very well could be a top 10 pitcher in baseball history.

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?

Only two of ten, with those two being Sandy Koufax and Dizzy Dean. Ron Guidry, Curt Schilling, Bret Saberhagen, Mort Cooper, and Jack Coombs are all in the Hall of Very Good.

What is interesting to look at is that if you see who he his most similar to through age 31 are Roger Clemens, Juan Marichal, Dwight Gooden, Lefty Grove, Jack Chesbro, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux, Whitey Ford, Pete Alexander, and Ferguson Jennings. That is seven Hall of Famers, two locks for the Hall, and Doc Gooden. Pretty strong group.

8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

Pedro scores a 55 on the Standards test, and a 168.5 on the Monitor test. And he’s still mid-career.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

I wouldn’t say so. I think his statistics speak for themselves.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

If he retired now, and Clemens and Maddux were inducted, I think Martinez would be the best pitcher not enshrined. Randy Johnson is really the only pitcher that is a comparison, as none of the retired guys are better…including Burt Blyleven.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

Martinez probably should have won the award in 1999, but the writers decided to not pick one of the top five people in the league. He finished second.
Despite having a better year, Pedro finished fifth in 2000. By my estimation, Pedro has had MVP-type seasons in 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2002.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?

Pedro is a six-time All-Star. There are maybe players with more out, and I can assume there are a plethora of players with less in. Any one know how to check this?

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

If they were in any other division in baseball, I would say yes. From what I hear, the Red Sox captured the American League flag in 2003. I kinda blacked out after the 7th inning. Can any one confirm that?

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

He didn’t change baseball, but he changed the Red Sox. Pedro was the first loved Latin star for Boston since Tiant left. Pedro’s employment by the Sox Rouge is probably a good reason we have Manny Ramirez, and by extension, David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez until the Red Sox control.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Sure.

Pedro Martinez is one of the most popular Boston athletes in my lifetime. He has had his run-ins with the press, but seriously, who hasn’t? Pedro has never been known to do anything to alienate his fans or all that rot.

Anyone think of any serious problem’s Pedro has had with his character or gamesmenship?

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Keltner List and You: Part 2 




A few words on Monday’s entry.
1. I forgot to add: Bill James ranks Rice the 27th best left fielder of all time, nestled between George Burns and Joe Kelley. Say goodnight, Gracie.
2. As the MookMaster noted in my comments, Joe Carter fell off the eligibility list because he didn’t get 5% of the vote this year. I hate when I know something then forget, and then get told about my ignorance. I have to link his site now: More Mook Stuff.
3. I made my grandfather’s day with the Burns joke. The House that Dewey Built: Catering to Old Men.

Here now the news…

Today is Part 2: Dwight Evans

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

Evans had three demonstrable skills. Walks, Power, and Amazing throwing arm. My seven-year-old eye saw him throwing a baseball 500 feet, on the fly to nail runners at second by 70 feet. Of course my mom told me I was an idiot. Evans did have a bazooka where most men have arms, none the less.

But his other two attributes didn’t get much play nationally until the daily presence of Rob Neyer at ESPN. Back in the early 80s, Dewey had a .290ish batting average, 20ish home runs, and low RBI, because he spend a good amount of time either at the top or bottom of the order.

I digress because this isn’t the best answer to this question. Evans was legitimately the best player in baseball in the strike-shortened 1981 season. I could find no newspaper that ever said that Dwight Evans was the best player in baseball.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

Evans was the best player on the Red Sox in 1981, 1982, and 1984. In 12 of his 20 seasons, he was one of the top 5 players on the Red Sox.

Not that this has anything to do with anything, but I was more affected by Dewey in an Orioles uniform then Clemens in a Yankees uniform.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?


He was in 1981. I think it is probably safe to say that Evans, Dave Winfield and Dave Parker traded being the best right fielder in baseball for much of their tenures.
I’m lifting this from The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstracts, but from 1972-1995, Evans was better 9 times, Winfield 11, and Parker 5. Parker was better at his best though.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

Evans was a September call up in the 1972 pennant race, in which he hit .263/.344/.404. Here is how he did each year the Sox were in it:

1975 .269/.278/.366
1977 Didn’t play due to injury
1978 .164/.281/.273
1986 .250/.396/.592
1988 .287/.402/.609
1990 .226/.279/.302

In his younger years, Dewey was a pretty useless down the stretch. However, in the 86, and 88 races, he more then held his own. He wasn’t very good in the playoffs, posting up .239/.333/.425 rates when the leaves turned.

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

I think he was. Considering Dewey’s prime was the early 80s, and he was an effective Major League hitter until the year he retired, I think it’s safe to say he could still play past his prime.

He was primarily a 1b/DH his last 3 seasons, but he had 15 assists in limited playing time in the OF.

6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

No. Like I said yesterday, Darrell Evans, Ron Santo, and Burt Blyleven are better.

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?

Chili Davis, Billy Williams, Tony Perez, Dave Parker, Al Kaline, Darrell Evans, Harold Baines, Joe Carter, Andre Dawson, and Jim Rice are his closest 10 comps.

Kaline is one of the best 100 players in baseball history. Billy Dee and Tony Perez are in also.

Evans, and Baines are some of the more underrated players of the last few decades. Carter and Dawson are some of the more overrated. Chili Davis is one of my personal favorites. Not sure about that Rice fellow.

Three are in the hall. Seven pay admission.

8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

His Standard Score is 43.3. His Monitor Score is 69.5. Those don’t really blow the ole skirt up.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

Ok, going back to the first question…

Evans walked…a lot. A real lot. His 1400 walks led to 1470 runs scored. He walked before it was en vogue to walk. The reason why this is significant is because of the era he played his prime in.

As I’m sure a good amount of people know, in the late 1960’s, there was a trend to speedy, fast teams, and cookie-cutter, multi-purposed monolith stadiums. Some teams had success getting fast players who chopped the ball on the turf and ran like hell. By the early 80’s, the only teams in the American League that really tried to outslug their opponents were the Brewers, Yankees, and Red Sox.

It is arguable because of the affect of turf on offense, that batting average was more important in this era then in the 90s or 30s. Evans had good, not great batting averages (they were good for the era, but not spectacular), but his ob% was outstanding. I personally believe this led him to be underrated in the eye of Joe Fan.

Dewey also won eight Gold Gloves.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

I would say no. Tony Gywnn, Pete Rose (We know why. Pete, you’re an asshole), Bobby Murcer, Dave Parker and Bobby Bonds aren’t in and I would make the argument that they were better then Dwight Evans. Ken Singleton is funny because he has the same problems as Evans. He was much, much better then people realized back when he was playing.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

Dewey had MVP like seasons in 1981, 1982, and 1984, and then about 10 more very good seasons.

He finished in the MVP top 10 four times, in 1981, 1982, 1987, and 1988. The closest he came to winning was 3rd in 1981. Rollie Fingers won.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?

His whole career is defined as being All-Star type, while not being good enough to be elite. He was only named to three All-Star teams.

That’s one more then Scott Cooper.

And I think less of the fans of baseball in the 1980s because of that.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

I don’t know about that. The Red Sox won two pennants during Dewey’s time. The first was in 1975 when he was thought of as all field and little hit. The other was in 1986 when he was the third best offensive player on the Red Sox, behind Boggs and Rice. Fair or not, 1986 will always be known for Buckner’s error, and Clemens’s coming-out party. Not Dewey.

Since the Red Sox didn’t come particularly close to winning anything in Evans’ best seasons, I would say no.

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

None that I know of.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

I haven’t been able to find anything conclusive that Evans transcended the team. I have heard apocryphal stories of Evans being a jerk in real life.

Whatever. He was always liked by Boston fans. My mom still loves him. I named my site after him. I haven’t heard anything to the contrary, so for this item Dewey gets a yes.

For the record, Dwight Evans is rated as the 22nd best right fielder in baseball history.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Keltner List and You: Part 1 




This is the first in a four part series called the Keltner List and You. The idea of the Keltner test was introduced by Bill James in his book The Politics of Glory. The test is designed to ask 15 subjective questions to determine the Hall-worthiness of a particular candidate.

I will be looking at three players who have spent most of their careers as Boston Red Sox, and seeing how they fair against the Keltner list. On the fourth day, I will be analyzing what I find.

Today is Part 1: Jim Rice

1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?

For Jim Rice, the answer is yes. He was generally considered one of the best players in the American League from 1975-1986. In 1978, he was, by the Win Shares system the best player in the AL, and second in MLB by a insignificant amount (36 Win Shares to Dave Parker’s 37). I don’t think it’s a far reach to say Rice was the best player in baseball for one season.

2. Was he the best player on his team?

I have Rice being the best player on the Boston Red Sox in 1978, and being in the top five on the Sox in eight other seasons. He was a top five player on his team in half of his years in the majors.

3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

For one year he was. When matched up for the rest of the 70s and 80s, he usually fell in the upper tier of outfielders, but there was always someone better in the league, and usually on his team too. In the late 1970s Fred Lynn and Ken Singleton were usually better. In the early 80s, it was Dwight Evans and Rickey Henderson.

4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

The Red Sox were legitimately in five pennant races in Rice’s tenure on the Sox. In September 1975, Vern Ruhle broke his hand. Up until that time, Rice was hitting .310/.352/.405 in September. The batting average and the on base are right in line with his seasonal averages, but the slugging is almost 100 points lower.

In Sept 1977, Rice’s slugging was constant with his norm for the year, but his batting and on base was up. It’s safe to say that the Red Sox failure to capture the East crown wasn’t Rice’s fault.

The league MVP faded down the stretch in 1978. He did hit a home run in the playoff forcing game in the 8th inning, but it only added insurance to the eventual 5-0 final. In the playoff game, Rice went 1-5 with a sacrifice fly that brought Boston back within one run.

Rice was the second best hitter on the Red Sox in 1986. He hit seven homeruns in September, was one of the primary reasons the Red Sox were able to bury the Yankees at the end of the year.

Rice did nothing in September 1988. He hit .207/.227/.431 in 58 ab and the Red Sox were barely able to hold off the Tigers, Brewers and Blue Jays.

Although Rice never had a Yastrezmski-type “carry the team on my back” pennant drive, none of the Red Sox teams of his era were particularly hurt by having Rice in the lineup. I would say that he is neutral in the pennant race question.

5. Was he good enough that he could play regularly after passing his prime?

No. Jim Ed completely lost his bat speed by the time 1988 rolled around, and was a liability on the team as early as August 1987.

6. Is he the very best baseball player in history who is not in the Hall of Fame?

I would say no, as people like Ron Santo and Darrell Evens wait outside.

7. Are most players who have comparable statistics in the Hall of Fame?

According to Baseball-Reference.com, the 10 most similar players to Jim Rice are Orlando Cepada, Andres Galaragga, Duke Snider, Ellis Burks, Joe Carter, Dave Parker, Billy Williams, Willie Stargell, Chili Davis, and Dale Murphy. Cepada, Williams, Stargell, and Snider are in the Hall.

Burks, Galaragga, and Davis will probably not get a second look. Carter, Murphy, and Parker would be lower-tier Hall members. They probably will not get in before they are submitted to the Veteran’s Committee, and even then, they are a long shot.

8. Do the player's numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

On the Hall of Fame Standards test, Rice receives a 42.9, with the average Hall of Famer getting a 50. On the Hall of Fame Monitor test, Rice earned a 147, with a likely Hall of Famer notching a 100 or better.

9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

No.

10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame?

I would say the Cobra is probably as good as Rice. Ken Singleton was better in fewer years. Dale Murphy was pretty good. Dwight Evens is better than Rice in career value. I can not say with certainty that Jim Rice is the best outfielder who is eligible for the Hall.

11. How many MVP-type seasons did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

Rice won one MVP award he was deserving of. He finished in the top 10 six times, and of those six, he was probably worthy of consideration three times, in 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1986.

12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the players who played in this many All-Star games go into the Hall of Fame?

Rice appeared in seven All-Star Games. He had six seasons of 20 or more Wins Shares. I haven’t been able to find concrete lists of players who have been sent to seven All-Star games, but Ralph Kiner went to eight, and his selection to the Hall was universally panned in the 70s.

13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?

Depends. Does Bucky Dent play for the chief rival?

14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? Was he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

I don’t know of any.

15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

Rice is a surly dude. There was the time he tried to kill Joe Morgan in the dugout. And people generally don’t have nice things to say about him. I don’t believe he every corked his bat or anything, but the general consensus around Rice is that he’s a dick.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

No seriously, I'm back 




After a hellish two weeks of finals, a winter break of sitting on my ass, and a first three weeks of Spring Semester, I think I can actually do what I wanted to do all along. Write about baseball.

It's kind of strange trying to re-acquaint myself with my audience. I went from being a moderately popular blog on all topics Red Sox, to an underground blog, since I hate idle offseason gossip, to the number one site for people to go to looking for the lyrics for "Goin' Back to Cali" thanks to my posting the lyrics after Game 4 of the ALDS. All I'm saying is to re-acquaint me, dammit!

What has happened? Curt Schilling came to the Red Sox, began a thread on Sons of Sam Horn, and caused a virtual blogging firestorm indirectly. The recap of the issue can be found in Baseball Primer's Clutch Hits section. The link is here. The conversation ensuing is both stupid as hell, and engrossing. Truthfully, it's one of a kind. Some people really don't like SoSH, which I can understand to a point. But then again, what do I know, I'm an elitist Schilling and Henry ballwasher.

Sox also got Foulke. He got a call from Bobby Orr to seal the deal. No internet firestorm as ensued. I did however get a Foulke jersey for Christmas. Foulke yeah!

Manny-ARod became the primary reason Dewey's House shut down for a while. The discussion pissed me off during part I. Then as we followed into Parts II through Part VII, I just hated everyone involved. Trade is dead for now. If I hear Dan Patrick mention ARod, Manny, Nomar, Magglio, or anything else dealing with this trade, then I don't know if I can legitimately be held accountable for my actions.

Actually, I just hate Dan Patrick. What a douche.

My other passion would be URI men's basketball. I can't talk about them, because they are pissing me off as much as Patrick is. I don't know how you can beat Providence College by 10, and then lose to Duquesne by 18. Argh!!!!!

Insanity aside, I'm back to a schedule of various amounts of sanity. You good folks out there can expect 3-4 posts a week from me until the season starts to hot up again. Kick your feet up and stay awhile. Tomorrow's topic will be a Keltner Test for three undecided Red Sox with marginal Hall of Fame credentials. Or maybe I will just call Dan Patrick a douche again.

I mean seriously, wouldn't it be fun to ruffle his hair giving him a kidney punch?