Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A Numbers Game

During the recent Red Sox Winter Weekend, at least three players debuted new numbers on their backs. All three went back to the numbers they wore in college, and they're all interesting in their own way.

First up is Chris Sale. He switched from the 49 he wore with the White Sox to the number 41 he wore in college. It's interesting because the White Sox do not currently have a #41 on their roster. So, if Sale really wanted to have some continuity with the number he had in college, he could have done that pretty easily I'm guessing. (Maybe cut up every other number 41 jersey until they assign it to him.) He said he did it in deference to Tim Wakefield. Did the Red Sox tell him to do that? Are they retiring Wake's number? Did I miss an announcement? Or, has Sale always wanted to do this (really) but just never saw the opportunity? It's interesting.

Jackie Bradley Jr also switched back to the number 19 he wore in
college. This is interesting because it's the third number Bradley has worn with the Sox. He started with number 44, but graciously gave it to Jake Peavy when he joined the team. No wonder he gave it up so easily. Clearly he was just waiting until Koji left the team and he could grab 19. 

Andrew Benintendi is more surprising. He also switched to his college number, 16. It's interesting because Benintendi just joined the team, and was given number 40. I guess that he's now an established player, and can rip number 16 away from Devin Marrero. But, I wonder if the Sox are annoyed about sales of his #40 merchandise? Lots of people probably have brand new gear of the super-rookie. At least some people with a Jackie Bradley #25 have had it for a couple years now. The 'Tendi stuff is a few months old at a max. Of course, from my perspective, the ability to buy jerseys of current players on clearance is a wonderful opportunity. 

So, clearly, the uniform number is important to players. But, it always surprises me just how much. It wasn't enough of an impression for 'Tendi to keep the first uniform number he wore at Fenway Park? Or, for Bradley to keep the number he wore on his back as he established himself as a star player? I think if it were me, those numbers would be the important ones. But, Bradley was willing to wait it out for years for his number. Benintendi took the first opportunity he had. They made a different call than I think I would have made.

But, I guess I'm not a major league player. 

What would you have done?

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Revised List of 36: The Best Players I've Seen Play in Person

With the Hall of Fame results announced last week, it's time to once again update my list. The Hall of Fame results are usually less of an update than other awards. Chances are if they're good enough to be in the Hall of Fame, they're already on the list. But, last year Mike Piazza was able to make the jump. So there's always a chance.

It didn't happen this year, though.

I've never seen Tim Raines play live. So, he doesn't make the list. I have seen Ivan Rodriguez play, but he was already on the list. All that happened was changing his credentials from "MVP" to "HOF". No big deal there.

Jeff Bagwell brings up a dilemma I've been tossing around for a while. I never saw Bagwell play in an actual game. But, I did see him play in the 1999 All Star game. I haven't been including players i say play in that game in this list up til now. When I started, I went with the theory that I didn't see the "real" player if it was just an exhibition game. I'm starting to wonder about that decision. If I started adding them to the list, it would include a few more Hall of Famers that aren't on there now. I can't decide. What do you think?

For now, I'm leaving them off. So, I present the barely updated list of the 36 best players I've seen play in person.

1. Roberto Alomar (HOF)
2. Wade Boggs (HOF)
3. Barry Bonds (MVP)
4. Ryan Braun (ROY, MVP)
5. Miguel Cabrera (MVP, triple crown)
6. Jose Canseco (ROY, MVP)
7. Roger Clemens (MVP, CYA)
8. Josh Donaldson (MVP)
9. Dennis Eckersley (HOF)
10. Jason Giambi (MVP)
11. Tom Glavine (HOF)
12. Juan Gonzalez (MVP)
13. Ken Griffey Jr (All-Century Team)
14. Vladimir Guerrero (MVP)
15. Josh Hamilton (MVP)
16. Bryce Harper (ROY, MVP)
17. Rickey Henderson (HOF)
18. Matt Holliday (MVP)
19. Randy Johnson (HOF)
20. Chipper Jones (MVP)
21. Greg Maddux (HOF)
22. Pedro Martinez (HOF)
23. Andrew McCutchen (MVP)
24. Justin Morneau (MVP)
25. Dustin Pedroia (ROY, MVP)
26. Mike Piazza (HOF)
27. Kirby Puckett (HOF)
28. Albert Pujols (MVP)
29. Jim Rice (HOF)
30. Cal Ripken (HOF)
30. Alex Rodriguez (MVP)
31. Ivan Rodriguez (HOF)
32. John Smoltz (HOF)
33. Ichiro Suzuki (ROY, MVP)
34. Frank Thomas (HOF)
35. Mike Trout (MVP)
36. Mo Vaughn (MVP)

There's my list. Who’s on your list?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Voters Got Me Down

I didn't do a "My Hall of Fame Ballot" post this year. I started it a couple times, but never did it. I just wasn't feeling it this year. Mostly, I think, because I didn't really see a candidate that jumped out at me. There was no Ken Griffey or Pedro Martinez that I could automatically put in the Hall. And, my motto usually is, "If you have to think about it, they're not a Hall of Famer."

But, now that the results are in, what do I think of them? I know I'm even a little late to go over this, but here are my brief thoughts.

I've mentioned Tim Raines before. I assumed he should be in the Hall of Fame. But, he was outside my years of solid fandom, so I was willing to defer to people who really saw him play in his prime to say he he wasn't good enough. I guess they changed their mind. So, I really can't complain.

For a long time it seemed obvious that Ivan Rodriguez would be in the Hall of Fame. The most dominant catcher of his era. But, he really dropped off there towards the end, and his journeyman status really soured him a bit in my eyes. Especially since his drop happened to line up with other interesting baseball events. I suppose I would have voted for him, but it would have taken more thought than I would have liked.

Bagwell I'm surprised got in. I'm not really sure why it took Jim Rice so long to get in, but Bagwell took about 1/3 of the time, despite the hint of PED surrounding him. (Admittedly, I have no idea where that hint came from but it was there to, I assume, cut him at least a couple votes short.) I've said before that Bagwell joins Curt Schilling in my Hall of Very Good.

As for the people who didn't get in? The one that confuses me the most is Trevor Hoffman. Oh, sure, I wouldn't vote for him either. But I've heard forever that Mariano Rivera is this lock first ballot guy. And Hoffman still can't get in? What am I missing? Vladimir Guerrero probably deserves to be in. Although, I always thought he was a SOSH type player. When everyone else was saying Griffey was the best player in the game, people thought they looked smart by saying it was Guerrero. "I'm smart and pay attention, so I can bring up an obscure star from Canada. I'm a better fan than you." Sort of a "so underrated he's overrated" type of guy. I'm also confused by the steroid boys. How do Bonds and Clemens get a different number of votes? Either you are willing to overlook the taint and vote in the most dominant player of his time, or not. Right? Are people willing to look over the suspicions, but don't feel Clemens is worthy? I thought Manny Ramirez would get more support. Especially since voters are suddenly willing to overlook the PED questions. Again, some inconsistency there that I don't really understand. Glad to see Curt Schilling come back to the 50% level he probably deserves, right alongside Mike Mussina. I'm a little surprised that Jason Varitek didn't get more support, especially when compared to Jorge Posada. Tek was a much better catcher than Posada ever was. 

Everyone else was a pretty clear explanation. They didn't get voted in because they didn't deserve to be voted in. 

At least in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Rogue One and the Red Sox Rotation

So, I finally saw Rogue One today. I know. I know. What in the world took me so long? And, of course it was amazing film. But, that's not the point of this post.

Going into the movie, I had one hope. I hoped that I'd see the "real" Darth Vader. See, I always felt we were cheated. Darth Vader is supposed to be the best Jedi ever, right? Better than Yoda, I recall. But, we never saw that. We never saw him go house on a bunch of rebels. I always assumed that his clunky costume in the 70's made it impossible. And, when they did the prequels with the technology that would allow it, he wasn't Darth Vader yet. I thought we were going to get it at the end of Episode II when Ben tossed Anakin the second light saber. "Here we go" I though. But, no. The duel ended in no time. We did, however, get to see the real "Yoda" finally. But, where was Darth?

I got the same feeling with Harry Potter. We never saw him as the dominant wizard. Sure, he had courage and dedication and other great qualities. Blah, blah, blah. But, in the very first book Olivander says he expects "great" things from Harry. Voldemort level things. So I kept waiting for Harry to show that potential. To have that battle where he went all Neo on Voldemort. Where was that? I felt cheated.

What does this have to do with the Red Sox?

I have this feeling with the Red Sox rotation. By goodness it is stacked. The three at the top should be something really special to see. They could be Darth Vader-Yoda-Harry Potter type skills. But, will we get to see them all perform like we want? Will they ever just control the other team like putty in their hands?

Like Pedro did?

I know. I've said it before. It's not fair to compare anyone else to Pedro. But, he did it. He was Darth Vader in his prime with Harry Potter helping him. He didn't get hitters out. He embarrassed them. He could have just struck them out, sure. But he instead struck them out by making them fall down in failure. He toyed with them. He shamed them. He proved he was better than they could ever hope to handle. Then he calmly walked off the mound disgusted that the batter even wasted the time of making Pedro throw three pitches.

So, that's my fear going into this season. I have no fear that the rotation will be bad. I'm afraid that they won't be historic. Because I want that. I want to see the three of them in the top five in Cy Young voting. I want to see them simply dominate.

More than I want to see Darth Vader force push a guy to the ceiling during a battle.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Was Manny Ramirez Any Good?

There’s been a lot of talk about Manny Ramirez’s career lately. That will happen when you’re on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Even more so when your candidacy is a bit controversial. 

Of course, as these conversations often do, it made me wonder how Manny Ramirez performed in games I scored. Was he a Hall-of-Famer in my books? Well, see for yourself.

I’d certainly say so!

I apparently scored about a third of a season’s worth of games for Manny. In those games, just look at that slash line. While those aren’t the highest numbers I’ve ever scored, they’re probably the highest ones with any sort of legitimate sample size. While I was there, Manny hit to a .344 batting average, got on base 45% of the time he came to the plate, and slugged 0.617. Fantastic. That also means that so far Manny has the most home runs on my scorecards, with 16. David Ortiz was the previous high with 15. Obviously, I haven’t tabulated everyone’s career statistics yet. But, offhand, having trouble thinking of someone who will challenge him. 

How do those numbers project to a full season? Very very well. Give Manny 660 at-bats, and he would have hit 47 home runs, driven in 150 runs, and scored 142 of his own. Exactly what you’d expect from one of the best hitters in baseball history. 

Whenever I do these totals, it’s always nice to see that I was watching the “real” player in my games. I got to see a good sample of what it meant to watch Manny Ramirez. I wasn’t short-changed. Nor do I think I was especially lucky. 

I just saw Manny being Manny.

How did he do when you were watching?

What people are reading this week