Multi-tool MLB Players – Princes of Power & Sultans of Speed

Baseball Roundtable loves multi-talented players.  For example, among my current favorites are Rockies’ “Lumber and Leather” 3B Nolan Arenado (two home run titles and five Gold Gloves in five MLB seasons); Angels’ “Power and Speed” CF Mike Trout (youngest player to each 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases); and Astros’ “Is there anything he can’t do?” 2B Jose Altuve.  You get the idea.

BBRT recently focused on players that deliver exceptional offense and defense. You can see my post on MLB players who have won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove in the same season by clicking here.  In this post, Baseball Roundtable will focus on players who combined power and speed on offense – beginning with those who have led their league in home runs and stolen bases in the same season and working my way down to the kings of the 30/30 (HR/SB) Club.

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Power and Speed Factoid One:  Only three times in MLB history has a player led his league in both home runs and stolen bases in the same season.  Here they are:

Ty Cobb, Outfield, Detroit Tigers – 1909 – Nine home runs and 76 stolen bases

Ty Cobb, in just his third full MLB season (fifth MLB campaign overall) already had two batting titles and one stolen base crown under his belt.  Then, in 1909, he led the American League with nine home runs and 76 stolen bases – as well as with 216 base hits, 116 runs scored, a .377 average and 107 RBI.

Cobb, by the way, won just the one home run crown in his MLB career (1905-1928), but also earned six stolen base crowns and 12 batting titles – and led the AL in hits eight times, runs scored five times, RBI four times, triples four times and doubles three times. The Hall of Famer’s final (24 seasons/3,034 games) stat line was .366-117-1,944; with 4,189 hits, 2,244 runs scored and 897 stolen bases.

Ty Cobb is the only the only player to lead his league in home runs and stolen bases without ever hitting the ball over the fence or out of the park.   In 1909, all of Cobb’s AL-leading round trippers were of the inside-the-park variety.  

Jim Sheckard, Outfield, Brooklyn Superbas – 1903 – Nine home runs and 67 stolen bases

SheckIn his 17-season MLB career (1897-1913), Jimmy Sheckard won just one home run crown and a pair of NL stolen base titles. In 1903, he hit .332, with nine home runs, 75 RBI and 67 steals.  Considered one of the finest fielding outfielders of his time, Sheckard’s career stat line was .274-56-813, with 465 steals in 2,122 games. Sheckard’s best season was 1901, when he reached career highs in average (.354), base hits (196), home runs (11), RBI (104), doubles (29) and triples (a league-leading 19).

 

 

 

 

 

Chuck Klein, Outfield, Philadelphia Phillies – 1932 – 38 home runs and 20 stolen bases

ChuckChuck Klein successfully defended his 1931 home run crown (31 round trippers) with a league-topping 38 in 1932 – and he tossed in an NL-best 20 stolen bases. It was one of only two seasons in a 17-campaign career (1928-44) that the Hall of Famer reached double digits in thefts. In that 1932 season, Klein also led the NL in hits (226) and runs scored (152), while driving in 137 runs – a performance that earned him Most Valuable Player recognition.

Klein’s career stat line was .320-300-1,201, with 79 stolen bases. He also recorded 2,076 base hits and scored 1,168 runs. He led his league in runs scored three times, hits twice, doubles twice, home runs four times, RBI twice and batting average once.

 

 

Chuck Klein won a Triple Crown in the only season to feature Triple Crown winners in both the AL and NL – and from the same city no less.  In 1933 (the season after his home run/stolen base leadership), the Philadelphia Phillies’ Chuck Klein won the National League Triple Crow – hitting .368, with 28 home runs and 120 RBI. That same season, Philadelphia’s AL entry (Athletics) also featured a Triple Crown winner, Jimmy Foxx (.356-48-163).

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Power and Speed Factoid Two:  Only six players have won both a home run crown and a stolen base title during their careers.  Let’s take a look at them.

You start, of course, with the three players from Factoid One – Ty Cobb, Jim Sheckard and Chuck Klein – then add:

Harry Stovey, Outfield/First Base – Worcester Ruby Legs, Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Reds, Boston Beaneaters, Baltimore Orioles, Brooklyn Grooms

StoveyPlaying from 1880 to 1893 (National League, American Association, Players League), Harry Stovey won five home run titles and two stolen base crowns. He led the NL in home runs in 1880 (six for Worcester) and 1891 (16 for Boston). Stovey also led the American Association in long balls in 1883 (14), 1885 (13) and 1888 (19) – all for Philadelphia. His two stolen base crowns came in 1886 (68 for Philadelphia of the AA) and 1890 (97 for Boston of the Players League). Over his career, Stovey hit .288, with 122 home runs, 912 RBI and 509 steals. In addition to his home runs and stolen base titles, he led his league in runs scored four tmes, doubles once, triples four times and RBI once.

 

 

 

Ed Delahanty, Outfield/First Base/Second Base – Philadelphia Quakers/Phillies, Cleveland Infants, Washington Senators

DelEd Delahanty enjoyed a 16-season MLB career (National League, American League, Players League). He twice led his league in home runs – both times for the Phillies – with 19 in 1893 and 13 in 1896. He led the NL in stolen bases (Phillies) with 58 in 1898. The Hall of Famer also led his league in hits once, batting average three times, doubles five times, triples once and RBI three times.  His career stat line was .346-101-1,466, with 456 steals and 1,600 runs scored.

Delahanty hit over .400 three times in his career – .405 in 1894; .404 in 1895; and .410 in 1899.

 

 

 

Willie Mays, Outfield – New York/San Francisco Giants, NY Mets

WillieThe “Say Hey Kid” won four home run crowns and four stolen base titles in his career – all of them with the Giants – just never in the same season. He led the NL in home runs in 1955 (51), 1962 (49), 1964 (47) and 1965 (52). He topped the league in stolen bases in 1956 (40), 1957 (38), 1958 (31) and 1959 (27).

In his MLB career (1951-73), the Hall of Famer also led the NL in hits once, runs scored twice, triples three times and batting average once.  His final stat line was .302-660-1,903, with 338 stolen bases, 3,283 hits and 2,062 runs scored in 22 seasons (2,992 games). He was the 1951 NL Rookie of the Year and the NL MVP in 1954 and 1965.  Mays, a true five-tool player, also earned 12 Gold Gloves.

So, there are your six players who have won both a home run title and a stolen base crown: Ty Cobb, Jim Sheckard, Chuck Klein, Harry Stovey, Ed Delahanty and Willie Mays.

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Power and Speed Factoid Three: Only two players have both a 50-home run and a 50-stolen base season on their major-league resumes – Brady Anderson and Barry Bonds. 

Barry Bonds – 52 stolen bases for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990 and 73 home runs for the San Francisco Giants in 2001

Barry Bonds photo

Photo by kevinrushforth

No surprise here. Barry Bonds, the all-time MLB home run leader (762), reached forty or more home runs eight times in his 22-season MLB career (1986-2007 … Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants) and stole forty or more bases three times.  What might be a surprise is that he only reached the fifty mark once in each category.

Bond’s career stat line: .298-762-1,996, with 514 stolen bases.  He also had 2,935 hits and 2,227 runs scored.  He led his league in home runs twice, RBI once and runs scored once. He was also a seven-time league MVP, 14-season All Star and eight-time Gold Glover.

 

Brady Anderson – 53 stolen bases for the Orioles in 1992 and 50 home runs for the Orioles in 1996

Brady Anderson photo

Photo by Keith Allison

A bit of a surprise here, since Brady Anderson’s second-highest season home run total was just 24 and he only reached 20 home runs three times in 15 MLB seasons (1988-2002 … Red Sox, Orioles, Indians). Anderson did top 20 steals in seven seasons. Anderson, a three-time All Star, put up a career stat line of .256-210-761, with 315 stolen bases.  His best season was 1996, when he hit .297, with 50 home runs, 110 RBI and 21 steals.

 

 


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Power and Speed Factoid Four: Only four players have hit 40 home runs and stole 40 bases in the same season. 

Okay, everyone pretty much knows this, but since there are no 50-50 seasons, the 40-40 list needs to be here.  I will, however, be brief.

Jose Canseco, Outfield, A’s – 1988 – 42 home runs and 40 stolen bases

In 1988, Jose Canseco hit  .307-42-124, with 40 steals – earning the AL MVP Award. His final stats (17 seasons … 1985-2001) were .266-461-1,407, with 200 stolen bases. He was a six-time All Star, 1986 Rookie of the Year and a two-time home run champ.

Barry Bonds, Outfield, Giants –  1996 – 42 home runs and 40 stolen bases

In 1996, Barry Bonds hit .308, with 42 home runs, 129 RBI and 40 steals. For more on Bonds, see Factoid Three.

Alex Rodriguez, Shortstop, Mariners – 1998 – 42 home runs and 46 stolen bases

Alex Rodriguez hit .310, with 42 home runs, 124 RBI and 46 stolen bases for the Mariners in 1996. In a 22-season MLB career (1994-2013/2015-2016 … Mariners, Rangers, Yankees), Rodriguez hit .295, with 696 home runs, 2,086 RBI and 329 steals. He was a 14-time All Star, three-time MVP and two-time Gold Glover. During his career he topped 40 home runs in a season eight times (with 50 or more three times) and stole 20 or more bases six times.  He led the AL in home runs five times, runs scored five times, hits once, doubles once and batting average once.

Alfonso Soriano, Outfield, Nationals – 2006 – 46 home runs and 41 stolen bases

Alfonso Soriano barely missed the 40-40 club in 2002, when he hit 39 home runs and swiped a league-leading 41 bases for the Yankees. He joined the club four year later with a .277-46-95, 41-steal season for the Nationals.  In his 16-season MLB career (1999-2014 … Yankees, Rangers, Nationals, Cubs), Soriano hit .270, with 412 home runs, 1,159 RBI and 289 stolen bases. He was a seven-time All Star and led his league in runs, hits and stolen bases once each (all in 2002, when he hit.300-39-102, with 41 steals for the Yankees). He topped 30 home runs in seven seasons and exceeded 20 steals in five campaigns.

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Power and Speed Factoid Five: Two players share the record for most times in the 30-30 (home runs/stolen bases) Club – and they are a father-son combination.

Going into the 1950s, MLB’s 30-30 Club had only one member – Saint Louis Browns’ outfielder Ken Williams, who hit .332, with 39 home runs, 155 RBI and 37 stolen bases in 1922. (He led the AL in home runs and RBI.) It was the only season that Williams (who finished a 14-season MLB career with 196 homers and 154 steals) ever reached thirty in either category. Williams retired with a .319-196-916 stat line.

The next 30-30 season was recorded by Willie Mays in 1956 (he did it again in 1957); then Hank Aaron joined the group in 1963; and Bobby Bonds earned his membership in 1969.  By 1978, there had been ten 30-30 seasons in MLB – and Bobby Bonds had five of them.  Through 2017, 38 players have acheived a total of sixty 30-30 seasons.  Only two have five 30-30 campiagns on their resume:   Bobby Bonds and his son Barry Bonds.

 

Bonds

Key resources; Society for American Baseball Research; Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com

 

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Men of Steal – Players with 100 or More Stolen Bases in a Season

Baseball Roundtable would like to devote this post to MLB’s Men of Steal – at least those who excelled (and accelerated) on the base paths to the tune of 100 or more steals in a season since 1900. 

Round Number Relevance

Since 1900, there have been eight seasons of 60 or more home runs – and eight campaigns of 100 or more stolen bases.

Why 100 or more steals?  Just an arbitrary decision, but it’s both a nice round number and one that made sense once I started looking into which MLB players could meet the “century” standard.

Why since 1900?  In baseball’s early years, the definition of a stolen base was significantly different than in the modern era.  At times, players were awarded a stolen base not just for what we now consider a “steal,” but also in such instances as moving up a base on a fly out, advancing more than one base on a hit and advancing on an error. Under those rules, stolen bases were considerably more prevalent.  In 1887, for example, the 16 major league (National League and American Association) teams averaged 397 stolen bases, with the American Association Saint Louis Browns swiping an MLB-high 581 bases in 135 games. (No team recorded fewer than 221 steals.) As for individual stolen base statistics –  in 1887, six players stole 100 or more bases, led by the Cincinnati Red Stockings’ (American Association) Hugh Nicol’s 138.  I’ll provide a list of those early 100+ steal players at the end of this post, but the bulk of this article will focus on post-1899. Note: Baseball rules on stolen base statistics generally aligned with modern rules in 1898.

There have been only four players to reach 100 steals in a season since 1900: Maury Wills, Lou Brock, Vince Coleman (three times) and Rickey Henderson (three times). From BBRT’s perspective Wills is the single-season “Man of Steal,” while Henderson is the career superhero when it comes to wreaking havoc on the base paths.

100Seasons

Let’s take a look at the “thieves of the century (mark).”

Maury Wills, Dodgers

1962 – 104 stolen bases

WillsIn 1962, Maury Wills had what BBRT considers the most dominant single-season performance on the base paths ever. The 29-year-old Dodgers’ shortstop stole 104 bases to lead the National League – and all of MLB.  He added a .299 average, 130 runs scored, a league-topping ten triples, six home runs, 48 RBI and a Gold Glove to earn the National MVP award. Just how dominant was Wills as a base runner?

  • His 104 steals were more than every other team in MLB (there were 20 teams at the time) – marking the only season in MLB history where a player has “out-stolen” every other squad.
  • His 104 swipes were 37 above the MLB team average – one of just three seasons in which a player with 100 or more steals has outpaced the overall MLB team average.
  • He exceeded the stolen base total of the next best stealer (the Dodgers’ Willie Davis) more than three times over, topping Davis by 72 steals.
  • He stole as many bases as the number-two through number-five National League base stealers combined – Willie Davis (32); Vada Pinson (26); Julian Javier (26); Tony Taylor (20).
  • His 88.9 percent success rate was the third-best in MLB – and is the highest success rate ever in a 100+ stolen base campaign.
  • He was the first player to steal 100 bases in a season under modern rules.
  • He stole 0.63 bases per game played that season.

Team

Rickey Henderson, Outfield, A’s

1980 – 100 stolen bases

1982 – 130 stolen bases

1983 – 108 stolen bases

HendoRickey Henderson is easily BBRT’s career “Man of Steal.”  MLB’s all-time stolen base leader (1,406), by a margin of 463 bags swiped, reached 100 or more steals in three seasons.  He led his league in thefts 12 times (in 25 seasons) – the final time in 1998 at the age of 39.  He topped forty steals in a season in 17 times (reaching 75 or more stolen bases in seven seasons and fifty or more in 14 campaigns). He also stole over 30 bases in a season in four difference decades (from 33 stolen bases as a 20-year-old in 1979 to 31 as 41-year-old in 2000).

 

Speed & Power

Rickey Henderson was the most powerful of all the 100+ base stealers – and the only player to reach triple digits in steals and double-digits in home runs in the same season. Henderson stole 130 bases in 1982, while also hitting ten home runs.

Henderson hit 297 home runs in a 25-season MLB career. Totals for the other 100+ stolen base season players: Lou Brock – 149 home runs (19 seasons); Vince Coleman – 28 home runs (13 seasons); Maury Wills – 20 home runs (14 seasons).

Henderson topped 20 home runs in a season four times in his career, Lou Brock had one 20+ home run campaign. Maury Wills and Vince Coleman never hit more than six in any season.

Rickey Henderson’s 100 steals in 1980:

  • Reflected a 79.4 percent success rate;
  • Led the second-most prolific base stealer – the Expos’ Ron LeFlore – by three thefts;
  • Were more steals than ten of the other 25 MLB teams;
  • Were just nine shy of the MLB team average of 119;
  • Represented 0.63 steals per game Henderson played.

Henderson’s 130 steals in 1982:

  • Reflected a 75.6 percent success rate;
  • Led the second-most prolific base stealer – the Expos’ Tim Raines – by 52 thefts;
  • Were more than ten of the other 25 MLB teams;
  • Compared to an MLB team average of 122;
  • Represented 0.87 steals per game Henderson played.

Henderson’s 108 stolen bases in 1983:

  • Reflected an 85.0 percent success rate;
  • Led the second-most prolific base stealer – the Expos’ Tim Raines – by 18 thefts;
  • Were more than eight of the other 25 MLB teams;
  • Compared to an MLB team average of 128;
  • Amounted to 0.74 stolen bases per game played.

You Can’t Steal First Base

Rickey Henderson’s on-base percentage of .420 in 1980 is the highest-ever in a 100+ stolen base season (since 1900). He is the only one of the four featured post-1899 century mark base grabbers to achieve a .400 OBP in a 100-steal year – also reaching .414 in 1983. The lowest on-base percentage among these 100+ stolen base campaigns goes to Vince Coleman at .301 in 1986 (.232 batting average).  Lou Brock posted the highest batting average in a post-1899 100+ stolen base season at .306, when he stole 118 bases in 1974. The only other player on this list to reach 300 in his 100+ SB campaign was Rickey Henderson at .303 in 1980. 

Henderson, considered MLB’s best-ever lead-off man, finished his MLB career (1979-2003) with a .279 average (3,055 hits), 297 home runs, 1,115 RBI and an MLB-high 2,295 runs scored.  Inducted into the Hall of fame in 2009, Henderson was a ten-time All Star, a one-time Gold Glover and the 1990 American League MVP  (when he hit .325, with 28 home runs, 61 RBI, a league-topping 119 runs scored and a league-leading 65 steals).  In addition to his even dozen stolen base titles, Henderson led his league in runs scored, five times, hits once and walks four times. He hit .300 or better eight times, poled 20 or more home runs in four seasons and holds the record for lead-off home runs with 81. Although they say you should never walk a player who can turn a base on balls into a double, Henderson is second only to Barry Bonds in career walks – drawing 2,190 free passes, topping 100 walks in five seasons and leading the league in walks four times.

Next

 

Vince Coleman, Outfield, Cardinals

1985 – 110 steals

1986 – 107 steals

1987 – 109 steals

colemanThere was never any doubt about Vince Coleman’s ability to steal a base. Before he made it to the Cardinals as a 22-year-old rookie in 1985, Coleman had pilfered 289 bases in 328 minor league games.  In 1985, he translated a 110-stseal season into the NL Rookie of the Year Award. (He hit .267, with one home run, 40 RBI and 107 runs scored.)  In that campaign, Coleman became the first MLB rookie to steal at least 100 bags.

Let’s take a deeper dive.

Vince Coleman’s 110 steals in 1985:

  • Led the second most prolific base stealer – the A’s Ricky Henderson – by 30 steals;
  • Reflected an 81.5 percent success rate;
  • Were more than 12 of MLB’s of the other 25 MLB teams;
  • Compared to an MLB team average of 119;
  • Represented 0.73 stolen bases per game season.

Vince Coleman is the only player to steal 100 or more bases as a rookie, and the only player (since 1900) to steal 100 or more sacks in three consecutive seasons (his first three.)

Vince Coleman’s 107 steals in 1986:

  • Led MLB’s second-most prolific base stealer – the A’s Rickey Henderson – by 20 steals;
  • Reflected an 88.4 percent success rate – fourth-best in MLB;
  • Were more than nine of MLB’s other 26 teams;
  • Compared to an MLB team average of 127 steals;
  • Represented 0.69 stolen bases per game Coleman played.

Coleman’s 109 steals in 1987:

  • Led MLB’s second-most prolific base stealer – the Mariners’ Harold Reynolds –  by 49 bags;
  • Reflected an 83.2 percent success rate;
  • Were more than four of MLB’s other 25 teams;
  • Compared to an MLB team average of 138 steals;
  • Represented 0.72 stolen bases per game Coleman.

Vince Coleman is the only player to have a 100 stolen base season with zero home runs in that campaign. In 1986, Coleman hit .232, with no home runs in 600 at bats, while swiping 107 bases.

Coleman played 13 MLB seasons (1985-1997), finishing with a .260 average, 28 home runs, 346 RBI, 849 runs scored and 752 stolen bases (sixth all-time).  He led the NL in steals his first six seasons and topped 40 steals in a seasons eight times. He was a two-time All Star and the 1985 NL Rookie of the Year.

Success

Just as a point of reference: The current career mark for successful base stealing among players with at least 100 stolen bases is Chase Utley (151 steals/87.79% success rate); Carlos Beltran has the mark for those with at least 200 (or 300) steals with 312 steals and a 86.43% success rate; Tim Raines reigns among those with at least 400/500/600/700/800= steals with 808 steals and a 84.70% success rate; 900+ goes to Billy Hamilton (pre-1900) at 82.10% (914 stolen bases) or Rickey Henderson at 80.76% (1,406 steals). Henderson, of course, stands alone at 1,000/1,100/1,200/1,300/1,400+ steals.   Our four featured players line up like this career-wise: Vince Coleman – 80.95%; Rickey Henderson – 80.76%; Lou Brock – 75.34%; Maury Wills – 73.80%.

Lou Brock, Outfield, Cardinals

1974 -118 steals

BrockLou Brock, who led his league in steals eight times, reached the century mark in just one campaign. In 1974, at the age of 35, Brock swiped 118 bags (second-highest in a season, post-1899, all-time) for the Cardinals. That season, he hit .306, with three home runs, 48 RBI and 105 runs scored.

Lou Brock’s 118 steals in 1974:

  • Reflected a 78.1 percent success rate;
  • were double the second-most prolific base stealer’s – the Dodgers’ Davey Lopes – 59 thefts;
  • Were more than 15 of the other 23 MLB teams;
  • Exceeded the MLB team average of 104;
  • Represented 0.77 stolen bases per game Brock played.

 Brock, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985, played 19 MLB seasons (1961-1979) and finished with a .293 average, 3,023 hits, 149 home runs, 900 RBI, 1,610  runs scored and 938 stolen bases (second all-time). He was an All Star in five seasons, led the NL in stolen bases eight times, doubles once, triples once and runs scored twice.  He hit over .300 in nine seasons and stole forty or more bases 13 times (12 consecutive seasons from 1965-1976).

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Pre-1900 Players with 100 or More Steals in a Season

Billy Hamilton, Outfield, Phillies

Hamilton gets a full write up because he was pretty much acknowledged as the top best runner of his era. Known as “Sliding Billy,” Hamilton stole 100 or more bases – under the statistical rules of the time  – four times. He led his league (American Association and National League) in steals five times in 14 major league seasons (1888-1901).

1889 – Billy Hamilton’s 111 steals (for the American Association Kansas City Cowboys):

  • Were 12 more than the second-most prolific base stealer – the Phillies’ (NL) Jim Fogarty;
  • Compared to an MLB (National League and American Association) team average of 301 steals. Every team stole at least 203 bases;
  • Represented 0.81 steals per game Hamilton played.

1890 – Billy Hamilton’s 102 steals (for the Phillies):

  • Were five more than the second-most prolific MLB base stealer – the Boston Reds’ (Players League) Harry Stovey;
  • Compared to an MLB (National League, American Association, Players League) average of 275 thefts;
  • Represented 0.83 steals per game Hamilton played.

1891 – Billy Hamilton’s 111 steals (Phillies):

  • Were five more than the second-most prolific base stealer – the Boston Red’s (American Association) Tom Brown;
  • Compared to an MLB team (National League and American Association) average of 245 steals;
  • Represented 0.83 steals per game played by Hamilton.

In his final 100-steal campaign (1894), Billy Hamilton led MLB with 198 runs scored (in just 132 games played), 100 stolen bases, 128 walks and a .521 on base percentage. He hit .403 (Hugh Duffy of the Boston Beaneaters led the NL at .440). Side note: The 1894 season saw five hitters top .400 (four of them on the Phillies). So, even at .403, Hamilton had the fifth-highest average in the league and fourth-highest on his own team.

1894 – Billy Hamilton’s 100 steals (Phillies):

  • Were 22 more than the second-most prolific base-stealer – the Baltimore Orioles’ (NL) John McGraw;
  • Compared to an MLB team (National League) average of 262;
  • Represented 0.76 steals per game Hamilton played.

Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1961, Billy Hamilton won a pair of batting crowns (.340 for the Phillies in 1891 and .380 for the Phillies in 1893). He also led his league in steals five times, runs scored four times, walks five times and base hits once. In 14 MLB seasons, he put up a .344 batting average, with 40 home runs, 742 RBI, 1,697 runs scored and 914 stolen bases.

Additional Pre-1900 100-Stolen-Base Seasons.

Hugh Nicol

1887 … 138 steals (led league) for Cincinnati of the American Association

1888 … 103 steals for Cincinnati of the American Association

Arlie Latham

1887 … 129 steals for Saint Louis of the American Association

1888 … 109 steals (led league) for Saint Louis of the American Association

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Charlie Comiskey

1887 … 117 steals for Saint Louis of the American Association

Pete Browning

1887 … 103 steals for Louisville of the American Associaton

John Montgomery Ward

1887 … 111 steals (led league) for the New York Giants of the National League

Jim Fogarty

1887 … 102 steals for Philadelphia of the National League

Tom Brown

1891 … 106 steals (led league) for Boston Reds of the American Association

Primary Resources: Baseball-Reference.com; The ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia (Gary Gillette/Pete Palmer); Society for American Baseball Research; Total Baseball (John Thorn); Baseball-Almanac.com

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The Unique and Grand Relationship Between Jim Gentile and Chuck Estrada

GentileEstradaIn 1961 – with Yankee sluggers Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris dominating headlines in their chase of Babe Ruth’s record 60 home runs in a season – Jim Gentile of the Orioles quietly put up quite a season of his own. Gentile hit .302, with 46 home runs and a league-topping 141 RBI.  He also tied the MLB record and set a new AL mark (both since broken) for Grand Slams in a season with five bases-loaded long balls. In addition, he tied an MLB record with two Grand Slams in a game – May 9.  (The current record for Grand Slams in a season is six, reached by the Yankees’ Don Mattingly in 1987 and the Indians’ Travis Hafner in 2006.)

Orioles’ pitcher Chuck Estrada was the sole beneficiary of Gentile’s 1961 offensive outburst – every one of Gentile’s record-tying five four-run blasts was hit in a game started by Estrada (who, as you would expect, picked up a victory in all four contests).  Notably, Gentile hit only one other Grand Slam in his career (June 26, 1960) and – you guessed it – the starting and winning pitcher in that contest was Chuck Estrada.  Gentile went three-for-five in that game (a 9-2 Orioles’ win), with two home runs and seven RBI. So for Gentile, six career Grand Slams – all in games Chuck Estrada started and won.

In 1961, Gentile was pretty much an offensive juggernaut when paired with Estrada.  He played in 29 of Estrada’s 31 starts.  In those 29 games, he hit .356, with 15 home runs and 47 RBI. How potent is that?  Gentile played in 148 games in 1961, If he had hit in the other 119, like he did in the 29 Estrada starts he played in, he would have bashed 77 home runs and driven in 240.  Gentile played in all 15 of Estrada’s victories that season (and in eight of his nine losses). The Orioles scored 88 runs in Estrada’s 15 wins, with Gentile driving in 36 percent of those tallies. (Estrada went 15-9, 3.69.)

For those of you who like a little more – Don’t baseball fans always want that next fact or stat? – here’s some background. Gentile was in the majors with the Dodgers (1957-58), Orioles (1960-63), A’s (1964-65), Astros (1965-66) and Indians (1966). In nine MLB campaigns, he was an All Star in three seasons (1960-61-62) and 1961 was his best year. His career stat line was .260-179-549. That’s 1961 season saw Gentile reach his all-time career highs in nearly every offensive category.  It was the only season in which he reached a .300 batting average, 100 or more RBI and 40 or more home runs (he had a total of five seasons of at least 20 homers – including the 46 in 1961 and 33 in 1962).

Estrada’s best season was his rookie year (1960) with the Orioles, when the 22-year-0ld led the AL with 18 wins (11 losses and a 3.58 ERA). He finished second in the AL rookie of the Year balloting to his Orioles’ teammate, shortstop Ron Hansen, who hit .255, with 22 home runs and 86 RBI.  Estrada was an All Star in just one season – his rookie campaign –  in a career that saw him win 50 and lose 44, with a 4.04 ERA. He pitched for the Orioles (1960-64), Cubs (1966) and Mets (1967).

MORE GRAND SLAM FACTOIDS.

In 1987, Yankees’ first baseman Don Mattingly came to the plate with the bases loaded 21 times – picking up two singles, a double, six home runs and a pair of sacrifice flies. In those 19 plate appearances, he hit .474 and drove in 33 runs. Bases-loaded situations accounted for just 3.3 percent of his plate appearances that season, but 4.8 percent of his base hits, 20 percent of his home runs and 26 percent of his RBI.

Of even greater note, Mattingly’s six 1987 Grand Slams were a single-season MLB record (since tied) and Mattingly – despite a 14-season career that included 163 bases-loaded plate appearances – did not hit another Grand Slam before or after those record-setting six.

 Twins’ first baseman Rich Reese holds a share of the MLB career record for pinch-hit Grand Slams at three. Those three bases-loaded round trippers were the only Grand Slams of his ten-season MLB career – which included 210 pinch-hitting appearances out of a total of 2,224 plate appearances.

BBRT unofficial Baseball Halll of Fame Fan Ballot

Don’t forget to vote in Baseball Roundtable’s unofficial Fan Hall of Fame Ballot. Just click here to access the ballot. When final BBWAA voting is announced Baseball Roundtable will feature a comparison of fan votes versus writer tallies.

Primary resources: MLB.com; Baseball-Almanac.com; Baseball-Reference.com

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Like/Follow the Baseball Roundtable Facebook page here.

Member: Society for American Baseball Research; The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Who Says Pitchers Can’t Hit?

Madison Bumgarner photo

Photo by andyrusch

On April 2, 2017, Giants’ ace right-hander Madison Bumgarner opened the season with a bang – not only did he fan 11 hitters in six innings of three-run ball (no decision), he also became the first pitcher to have a multi-homer game on Opening Day. Bumgarner went two-for-two (solo shots in the fifth and seventh) with a walk in three plate appearances. Bumgarner finished the 2017 season with a .206 average and three round trippers.  He has popped a total of 17 career homers, 15 of those over the past four seasons.

If you follow Baseball Roundtable, you know I am not the biggest fan of the designated hitter – and the tale that led off this post says a lot about my position.  This post provides a random sampling of pitchers who illustrate why I like to watch hurlers hit.  It takes a look at some (not nearly all) pretty good hitting pitchers from multiple  eras.  (Actually, I like watching solid-hitting pitchers, those weak-hitting moundsmen that occaisionally surprise and even futile swings and missed sacrifices. ) 

FOR THE RECORD

Wes Ferrell holds the record for career (MLB career 1927-41) home runs as a pitcher with 37 (he also had one as a pinch hitter), as well as the single-season record for pitchers at nine.

Walter Johnson – RHP … 417-279, 2.17 ERA

Walter Johnson earned his way into the Hall of Fame with his electric right arm (417 wins, 12 times led his league in strikeouts) – but he was no slouch with the bat. In his last season (1927), the 39-year-old Johnson hit .348 (16-for-46), with two home runs and ten RBI.  And, that was not his best season at the plate. Note: Johnson played his entire career (1907-1927) for the Washington Nationals/Senators.

Walter Johnson’s best season in the batter’s box: In 1925, Johnson posted a  .322 average (42-for-97), two home runs, 20 RBI, 12 runs scored and just six strikeouts (in 36 games). On the mound that year, he went 20-9, 3.07.

Johnson wrapped up his career with a .235 average, 24 home runs and 255 RBI in 21 seasons (934 games).

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Micah Owings, RHP … 32-33, 4.86

As a 24-year-old rookie with Arizona in 2007, Micah Owings went 8-8, with a 4.30 earned run average in 29 games (27 starts) – and also won the Silver Slugger Award as the NL’s best-hitting hurler. In six MLB seasons, he went 32-33, 4.86 on the mound and .283-9-35 as a hitter.

Micah Owings’ best season at the plate: In 2007, Owings hit .333 (20-for-60), with four home runs and 15 runs batted in.  That performance is enhanced by the fact that 12 of his 20 hits went for extra bases (in addition to the four round trippers, he had seven doubles and a triple) – for a .683 slugging percentage. Owings followed up that first season with a .304-1-6 campaign at the plate. .

BRINGING ALL THE DUCKS HOME

On July 3, 1966, RHP Tony Cloninger started for the Braves (against the Giants) in San Francisco.  He not only picked up his ninth win of the seasons (against seven losses) with a complete-game seven-hitter, he also became the first National Leaguer (at any position) to hit two Grand Slam home runs in a game. He is still the only MLB pitcher to accomplish the feat. For the day, Cloninger was three-for-five with two runs scored and nine runs batted in (the single-game RBI record for pitchers).

Wes Ferrell – RHP … 193-128, 4.04 ERA

Wes Ferrell’s career stretched from 1927-1941 and he won 20 or more games in a season six times. He also was pretty darn good with the stick – finishing his career with a .280 average, a record (for pitchers) 38 home runs (one hit as a pinch hitter) and 208 RBI.

Wes Ferrell’ best season at the plate:  In 1935, Ferrell put a .347 average (52-for-150), with seven home runs and 32 RBI for the Red Sox.  Notably, that season, Ferrell made 35 appearances as a pinch hitter. On the mound, he went 25-14, with a 3.52 ERA, leading the AL in wins, starts, complete games and innings pitched.

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Mike Hampton, LHP … 148-115, 4.06 ERA

In 2003, Mike Hampton won 14 games, a Gold Glove AND a Silver Slugger Award.

In 2003, Mike Hampton won 14 games, a Gold Glove AND a Silver Slugger Award.

As a pitcher, Mike Hampton was a two-time All Star and one-time 20-game winner (22-4 in 1999, when he led the NL in wins and winning percentage for the Astros). At the plate, he was a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner (1999-2003). Notably, he is also the only pitcher to win a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove in the same season (2003 for the Braves) – thus, for me, he will always be Heavy Metal Mike. In 16 seasons (423 games), Hampton hit .246, with 16 home runs and 79 RBI.

Mike Hampton’s best season at the plate: In 2001, (Rockies), Hampton hit .291 (23-for-79), with seven home runs, 20 runs scored and 16 RBI. He did have higher averages during his career (topping .300 four times), but in terms of overall offensive productivity, 2001 stands out.

 

 

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George Uhle – RHP … 200-166, 3.99

George Uhle pitched in the majors from 1919 to 1936, picking up an even 200 victories and winning 20 or more games three times. He also put up a .289 career batting average (393-for-1,360), with nine round trippers and 190 RBI (722 games).

George Uhle’s best season at the plate: In 1923 (Indians), Uhle hit.361 (52-for-144), with no home runs, but 23 runs scored and 22 RBI.  That season, Uhle won an AL-leading 26 games (16 losses), with a 3.77 ERA.  Even in his final campaign – at age 37 – Uhle hit .381 in 21 at bats.

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Carlos Zambrano – RHP … 132-91. 3.66

ZamCarlos Zambrano, in a 12-season MLB career (2001-2012), won 14 or more games in a season five times and led the NL in wins in 2006 with 16 (seven losses). The three-time All Star was a switch-hitter who three times hit .300 or better and bashed a total of 24 MLB home runs (16 between 2006 and 2009). Zambrano’s career batting stat line was .238-24-71 (693 at bats).

Carlos Zambrano’s best year at the plate: In 2008, Zambrano not only won 14 games for the Cubs, he hit .337 (28-for-83), with four home runs and 14 RBI.

 

DOES IT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS?

On June 23, 1971, Phillies’ right-hander Rick Wise took the mound against the Reds (in Philadelphia), looking for his eighth victory of the season (versus four losses). He got more than that. Wise tossed a complete-game, no-hitter – shutting out the Reds 4-0, walking one and fanning three.  But he did even more.  Wise also went two-for-three at the plate – hitting two home runs and driving in three of the Phillies’ four tallies. A no-no and a multi-homer game? Never done before, nor since.

Don Newcombe – RHP … 149-90, 3.56

NewkBig Don Newcombe threw righty, but hit from the portside.  As a pitcher, he won 149 games in ten seasons (1949-60, with two years lost to military service). He was a two-time twenty-game winner – and led the NL with 27 wins and a .800 winning percentage in 1956. At the plate, he hit .271 (238-for-988), with 15 home runs and 108 RBI.

Don Newcombe’s best season at the plate: In 1955 (for the Dodgers), Newk hit .359 (26-for-117), with seven home runs and 23 RBI (he also had nine doubles, a triple and a stolen base).

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Doc Crandall – RHP … 102-62, 2.92

Doc Crandall, whose MLB career went from 1908 to 1918) was the first hurler to be used primarily as a reliever (he also played second base). For example, from 1909 through 1913, he appeared in 185 games and started just 53 – finishing 120. His best season on the mound was 1915, when he went 21-15, 2.59 for the St. Louis Browns of the Federal League. That season he appeared in 51 games as a pitcher (84 overall), starting 33. As a hitter, Crandall finished his career at .285, (253-for-887), with nine home runs and 123 RBI.  He appeared in 302 games as a pitcher, 71 at 2B and 17 games at other defensive spots.

Doc Crandall’s best season at the plate: In 1914 (for the St. Louis Browns), Crandall hit .309 (86-for-278), with two home runs, 40 runs scored and 41 RBI  That season, however, he appeared in just 27 games as a pitcher, 63 at second base and 27 as a pinch hitter. In seasons in which he appeared primarily as a pitcher, 1910 was his best at the plate – .342-1-13 in 45 games, 42 as a pitcher (24 in relief.)

PITCHER WITH GOOD GENES

Ken Brett, brother of Hall of Famer and three-time batting champion George Brett, was a pitcher (83-85, 3.93 career record in 14 seasons) who could also swing the bat.  In 1973, Brett bashed home runs in four consecutive games – a record for pitchers.

On June 9, he started for the Phillies at home against the Padres, picked up a 4-1 win (7 1/3 innings of one run ball) and hit a solo home run in the fifth inning.

On June 13, he tossed a complete-game, five-hit, 16-3 win over the Dodgers in Philadelphia – and again hit a solo shot in the fifth inning.

On June 18, he gave up six runs to the Mets, but still got a complete-game, 9-6 win (at home) – and hit a solo home run in the fourth inning.

On June 23, we saw another Brett complete game, this time a 7-2 victory over the Expos on the road – and a a two-run homer in the seventh.

Terry Forster, LHP … 54-65, 3.23

Terry Forster, the 1974 AL saves leader, didn’t get a lot of at bats in his MLB career (1971-86), but he made them count. While he went 54-65, 3.23 with 127 saves on the mound, he hit a mighty .397 (31-for-78) as a batter.  Just five extra base hits, however, and seven RBI.

Terry Forster’s best season at the plate: In 1972, Forster went 10-for-19, a .526 average and struck out only twice in 22 plate appearances. In his only other season with 15 or more at bats (for the Pirates in 1977), Forster went 9-for-26 (.346).

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 Orel Hershiser, RHP … 204-150, 3.48

Hershiser was a three-time All Star and one-time twenty-game winner on the mound – leading the NL with 23 wins (eight losses) in 1988. His career stretched from 1983 to 2000. At the plate, he finished with a .201 average, with no home runs (50 RBI.) Not stellar numbers, but he makes this post based on his top season.

Orel Hershiser’s best year at the plate: In 1993 (Dodgers), Hershiser hit a healthy .356 (26-for-73), with 11 runs scored and six RBI – striking out only five times in 83 plate appearances. He was the MVP of the 1988 World Series, when he won two games – one a complete game 6-0 shutout and the other a complete game 5-2 win. He fanned 17 batters and gave up just seven hits in his 18 innings of work. Further, in the only game in which he batted (in the NL park, of course), Hershiser went three-for-three with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI – as the Dodgers topped the A’s 6-0.

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Don Drysdale, RHP … 209-166, 2.95

Don Drysdale photo

Photo by Ted Van Pelt

Don Drysdale made his living with his fastball, not his fast bat – but he did have one surprising season at the plate. In 1965, Drysdale hit .300 (39-for-130), with seven home runs and 19 RBI – the only .300 hitter (with at least 15 at bats) on the World Series Champion Dodgers’ squad. Drysdale also went 23-12, 2.77 on the mound that season.  Drysdale hit only .186 in 14 MLB seasons (1956-69), but the Hall of Famer twice reached the NL mark in home runs in a season for a pitcher (seven) and really raked in 1965.

 

 

 

TWO-FOR-THREE … IN A WAY

TobinOn May 13, 1942, the Boston Braves topped the Cubs (in Boston) 6-5 behind the arm AND BAT of right-hander Jim Tobin. Tobin not only threw a complete game five-hitter for his fifth win (against three losses), he also became the second pitcher to hit three home runs in a game – and the first (and still only) to hit three over the fence in a single contest.  Note: The big day in May was not indicative of Tobin’s 1942 season. While he ended that May 13 contest at 5-3, 2.32, with a .407 batting average, he ended his season with just 12 wins, a league-worst 21 losses and a 3.97 ERA. At the plate, he finished at .246, with six home runs and 15 RBI. For his career, Tobin went 105-112, 3.44 and .230-17-102. 

The only other pitcher to rap three home runs in a game was Louisville Colonels’ right-hander Guy Hecker, who started against the Baltimore Orioles on August 15, 1886. (It was an American Association – considered a major league – contest.) Hecker hit three inside-the-park home runs that day – and pitched a complete-game, four-hitter, as Louisville won 22-5.  Hecker, by the way, put up a 175-146, 2.93 record in nine seasons – including 52-10, 1.80 in 1884. He hit .282 for his career – and won a batting title (.341) in 1886, when appeared in 49 games as a pitcher, 22 at first base, and 17 in the outfield. (Yes, it was a different game back then.)

More good-hitting pitchers? The list could go on with the likes of Zack Greinke; Don Larsen; Bob Lemon; Red Ruffing; Dontrelle Willis; Earl Wilson; and more.

Primary resources:  Society for American Baseball Research; Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research; The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Baseball Roundtable’s Deep Dive into the Hall of Fame Ballot

 

The MLB debate season is officially open!  The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) Hall of Fame ballots (for 2018 induction) are out and the season for discussion and debate is officially underway.  This year’s traditional ballot includes 14 holdovers from last year, along with 19 newcomers.

BallotPARTICIPATE IN BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE’S  FAN HALL OF FAME BALLOT

(Link in paragrpah below.)

Baseball Roundtable is interested in whom you – as fans – would vote into the Hall of Fame.  So, here’s a line to the Baseball Roundtable Fan HOF Ballot – click here.  Remember, you can vote for up to ten of the nominees for 2018 induction.  If you want to read through the nominees’ bios first, there is another link to the Fan Ballot at the end of this post. 

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BASEBALL HALL OF FAME ELIGIBILITY

The basic rules for eligibility are that a player must have played at least ten seasons and be retired for at least five years. In addition, the player must be approved for the ballot by the Hall of Fame Screening Committee.

A player can remain on the ballot for up to ten years, but must receive at least five percent of the vote in the preceding year’s ballot to remain on the ballot.  Each voter can vote for up to ten candidates.  Election requires that a player be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots cast.

In this post, we’ll take a look at how BBRT would vote – if I had a ballot – as well at whom BBRT expects the BBWAA to vote in.  Notably, BBRT tends to be less stingy then the BBWAA voters.  I’ll list a full roster of ten candidates (in order of my preference) who would receive my vote.

BASEBALL HALL OF FAME CRITERIA FOR ELECTION

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

—–LIKELY ELECTEES FOR 2018—–

BBRT anticipates that four players will be elected. Trevor Hoffman was very close last year (74 percent) and Vlad Guerrero topped 70 percent in his first year on the ballot. History would indicate those two will go over the top on this ballot. Of the newcomers, Chipper Jones looks like a sure bet and Jim Thome’s 600+ home runs should make him a first-ballot selection (although some voters may hold back “first-ballot” votes due to his extended role as a designated hitter.  In order, I expect these four to finish:

1) Chipper Jones;

2) Trevor Hoffman;

3) Vlad Guerrero;

4) Jim Thome.

Note: For BBRT’s take on the Modern Game Era Ballot, click here. 

My dark horse candidate for this year is Mike Mussina.

What follows is a look at all the players on the ballot – starting with the ten players BBRT would vote for (if I had voting rights). I would note that you will not find those caught up in the PED-controversy on my ballot. While I think they will eventually be elected/inducted, if I had a ballot, I’d prefer they made the 75 percent without my vote.  Still, given their place in the history of the game, I’d probably break down and vote for the best of the group when they reached their final year of eligibility.

So, here is BBRT’s Hall of Fame Ballot – again, if I had one – with the players listed in BBRT’s order of preference.

GROUP ONE – Should Be No Doubt, These Players Belong in the Hall Now

Trevor Hoffman (Closer, 1993-2010) – Third year on the ballot, 74.0 percent support last year.

The Hall of Fame should "save" a place for Hoffman in 2016.

The Hall of Fame should “save” a place for Hoffman in 2016.

In BBRT’s opinion, Trevor Hoffman should have been elected in his first year on the ballot. He is one of only two relievers in MLB history to reach 600 saves (601) – trailing only Mariano Rivera (652) all-time. Hoffman and Rivera, in fact, are the only closers to reach 500 saves. (Note: Hoffman was also the first pitcher to reach the 500- and 600-save mark.)

Hoffman led the NL in saves twice and reached 30 or more saves 14 times (with a high of 53 in 1998). He had a career record of 61-75, with a 2.87 ERA over 1,089 1/3 innings in 1,035 games – averaging 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings. Hoffman’s nine seasons of 40 or more saves is the MLB record (tied with Mariano Rivera). Hoffman pitched for the Marlins (1993), Padres (1993-2008) and Brewers (2009-10).  Hoffman appeared in 12 post-season games, going 1-2, 3.46 with four saves.

Hoffman’s 600 saves should be enough for the Hall – and, after coming so close last year, he should top the 75 percent mark in this year’s voting.

Trevor Hoffman made his final All Star team in 2009 – at the age of 41 –  in a season in which he recorded 37 saves and put up a 1.83 earned run average for the Brewers.

Trevor Hoffman’s best season: In 1998, Hoffman appeared in 66 games for the Padres, converting 53 of 54 save opportunities.  On the season, he was 4-2 with a 1.48 ERA, striking out 86 hitters in 73 innings, while walking just 21. He was selected to the NL All Star team, finished second in the Cy Young Award voting and seventh in the MVP race.

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Chipper Jones (Third Base, 1993, 1995-2012) – First year on the ballot.

cHIPPER jONES photo

Photo by Keith Allison

BBWAA voters are traditionally stingy with their votes for first-ballot players.  Jones, however, deserves to claim his spot in Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility – and I am convinced he’ll be making the trip.

Jones, a switch-hitter, played all 19 of his MLB seasons in a Braves’ uniform and put up some impressive numbers: a .303 lifetime average; 2,726 hits; 468 home runs; 1,623 RBI, 1,619 runs scored. His 1,623 RBI are the 34th all-time, the most ever for a third baseman and the second-most ever for a switch hitter. His 1,619 runs scored are 46th all-time and fifth-most for a switch hitter; while his 468 home runs are 33rd all-time and the third-most ever by a switch hitter.  Jones also drew 1,512 walks (versus 1,409 strikeouts) – 16th all-time and third among switch-hitters.

Chipper Jones hit .303 as a right-handed hitter and .304 when swinging from the left side – one of only two switch hitters with 5,000 or more at bats to top .300 from both sides of the plate.

Jones was an eight-time All Star, won the 2008 NL batting title with a .364 average and was the 1999 NL MVP. He hit 20 or more home runs in 14 seasons (six seasons of at least 30);  topped .300 in 10 full seasons; reached 100 or more RBI nine times; and scored 100 or more runs in eight campaigns.  Jones also played in 93 post-season games, hitting .287, with 13 home runs and 47 RBI.

Chipper Jones’ best season: In 1999, Jones hit .319, with 45 home runs, 110 RBI and 116 runs scored.  That performance earned him the NL MVP Award and Silver Slugger recognition. (Surprisingly, he was not on the 1999 NL All Star team. The Diamondback’s Matt William started and the third-base reserves were the Pirates’ Ed Sprague and the Padres’ Phil Nevin.)

Despite his gaudy numbers Jones is not likely to be a unanimous selection. Again, BBWAA voters are notoriously stingy with first ballot votes and seem adverse to the prospect of a unanimous selection – and they could point to the facts that Jones only once led the NL in one of the major offensive categories (his 2008 batting championship), won only two Silver Slugger Awards and has no Gold Gloves on his HOF resume.

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Vlad Guerrero (Outfield/Designated Hitter, 1996-2011) – Second year on the ballot – 71.7 percent last year.

Vlad Guerrero photo

Photo by mwlguide

When your nickname is Vlad the Impaler, you better put up some solid offensive numbers – and Vlad Guerrero did. Guerrero was BBRT’s dark horse candidate for induction last year and he came very close. (Again, the BBWAA has a record for first-ballot stinginess.) He actually finished with a higher level of support than I anticipated, so I’m confident he will go over the top this year.

Guerrero put up a .318 career batting average (2,147 games over 16 seasons), hit 449 career home runs (including eight seasons of 30+ and a high of 44 for the 2000 Montreal Expos) and collected 1,496 career RBI.  A feared slugger, he also led his league in intentional walks five times. Guerrero had 13 seasons with a batting average of .300 or better (a high of .345 in 2000), 10 seasons of 100+ RBI, six seasons of 100+ runs scored and four campaigns of at least 200 hits.  Known (sometimes criticized) as a free swinger, Guerrero actually never struck out 100 times in a season.

Vlad Guerrero collected 1,375 hits in the AL and 1,215 hits in the NL.  Others with 1,000 or more safeties in both the AL and NL include: Alfonso Soriano, Dave Winfield, Frank Robinson, Fred McGriff, Carlos Lee and Orlando Cabrera.

Guerrero led his league in hits once, runs once and total bases twice, while making nine All Star squads, earning eight Silver Slugger Awards and the 2004 AL MVP Award.   Guerrero hit .263-2-20 in 44 post-season contests.  Guerrero played for the Expos (1966-2203); Angels (2004-2009); Rangers (2010); and Orioles (2011).

Vlad Guerrero’s best season: In 2002, Guerrero hit .336 for the Expos, leading the NL in hits (206), while bashing 39 home runs, stealing 40 bases, driving in 111, scoring 106 and drawing a career-high 84 walks (versus 70 strikeouts).  He also led the NL in total bases with 364.

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GROUP TWO – Should Get In On This Vote, But May Stir Some Debate

Jim Thome (First Base/Designated Hitter/Third Base, 1991-2012) – First year on the ballot.

Jim thome photo

Photo by Keith Allison

BBRT believes Jim Thome’s 612 home runs (eighth all-time) and 1,699 RBI (26th all-time) should merit automatic first-ballot election. Thome also ranks 41st all-time in total bases  Gentleman Jim had sixteen seasons of 20 or more home runs (reaching thirty or more 12 times, 40 or more six times and a high of 52 in 2002). He also topped 100 RBI nine times and 100 runs scored eight times.  Thome also ranks seventh all-time in walks (1,747) and 41st all-time in total bases.  In addition, he currently falls just outside the top fifty all-time in runs scored (1,583, good for 51st). He was an offensive force to be reckoned with. He played for the Indians (1991-2002, 2011); Phillies (2003-2005, 2012); White Sox (2009); Dodgers (2009); Twins (2010-2011); and Orioles (2012).  His final line was .276-612-1,699 in 2,543 games (22 seasons).

Thome was a five-time All Star, won the 2003 NL home run crown (47 for the Phillies) and led his league in walks three times.  While he hit only .211 in 71 post-season games, he slugged 17 home runs and drove in 37 runs in those contests.

Jim Thome is the current MLB record holder in regular-season walk-off home runs with 13.

Working against Thome as a first-ballot inductee will be the fact that he started 813 games (just over one-third of his career starts) at designated hitter. (Voters have shown a bit of prejudice against DH’s in the past.) In addition, despite his 612 round trippers, Thome has only one league home run crown on his HOF resume.

Still, Thome would get  BBRT vote, even as a first-ballot candidate.  I think he will get the 75 percent in this voting, but it may be closer than expected.

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Mike Mussina (Starting pitcher, 1991-2008) – Sixth year on the ballot 51.8 percent last year.

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

Mike Mussina built a 270-153 record, with a career 3.68 ERA and 2,813 strikeouts over 18 seasons. While only once a 20-game winner (in his final season, at age 39), Mussina won 18 or 19 games five times, leading the AL with 19 wins in 1995. In his first three full seasons in the major leagues (1992-94), Mussina put up a .700 or better winning percentage each year (.783, .700, .762). His record over that span – for the Orioles – was 48-16.

Mussina was a five-time All Star and a seven-time Gold Glove winner. He recorded a .650 or better winning percentage in nine seasons, with a career (and league-leading) high of .783 in 1992. Mussina ranks among the the top 25 pitchers all-time in strikeouts (20th) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (23rd). While the lack of a Cy Young Award on his resume may hurt him, he finished his career 117 games over .500 – and history says 100 or more wins than losses should be good for a ticket to the Hall. Mussina appeared in 23 post-season games, with a 7-8 record and a 3.42 ERA. He pitched for the Orioles (1991-2000) and Yankees (2000-2008).  Mussina went 7-8, 3.42 in 23 post-season games (21 starts).

Mussina deserves (and, BBRT believes, will eventually be awarded) a spot in Cooperstown, but is unlikely to close the gap between 51.8 percent and the necessary 75 percent in this year’s voting. A move to 62-65 percent would be an important step in the right direction.

On September 2, 2001, Mussina – pitching for the Yankees – retired the first 26 Red Sox batters he faced and came with one strike of a perfect game. Mussina had a 1-2 count on pinch-hitter Carl Everett before Everett blooped a single to left-center. Mussina ended up with a 1-0, one-hit shutout victory.

Mike Mussina’s best season:  Mussina may have saved his best for last.  In his final season (as a Yankee), at age 39, he recorded his first twenty-win campaign.  That year, Mussina went 20-9, 3.37 – and proved his durability by leading the AL in starts with 34, logging his 11th season of 200 or  more innings pitched and earning his fifth Gold Glove

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Omar Vizquel (Shortstop/Third Base, 1989-2012) – First year on the ballot.

Omar Vizquel photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Vizquel earns BBRT’s vote – and should earn his way into the Hall of Fame – more with his glove (eleven Gold Gloves) than his bat.  However, voters should be mindful of the fact that he finished his 24-season MLB career just 123 hits short of that milestone 3,000 safeties. Vizquel delivered premier defense to the Mariners (1989-1993); Indians (1994-2004); Giants (2005-2008); Rangers (2009); White Sox (2010-2011); and Blue Jays (2012).. He was a three-time All Star – and put together a string of nine straight Gold Gloves at shortstop (1993-2001).

Omar Vizquel led his league in sacrifice bunts four times.

In the field, Vizquel is the career fielding percentage leader (.9847) among shortstops with at least 500 games at the position. He is also the all-time leader among shortstops in double plays, ranks third at the position for career assists and 11th in putouts. He shares the record (with Cal Ripken, Jr.) for the fewest errors by a shortstop in a season in which he played at least 150 games (three errors).

On offense, Vizquel put up a .272 career average, with 80 home runs, 951 RBI and 1,445 runs scored. The 1,445 runs puts him in the top 100 players all-time (82nd); while his 2,877 hits puts him in the top 50 (43rd). He also swiped 404 bases – topping twenty steals eight times (a high of 42 in 1999) – putting him at number 71 on the all-time list. Vizquel played in 57 post-season games, hitting  .250-0-20.

Omar Vizquel’s best season: In 1999, with the Indians, Vizquel hit a surprising .333, with five home runs, 66 RBI, 112 runs scored and 42 stolen bases – and won a Gold Glove at shortstop.

Vizquel would get BBRT’s vote, but I fear the BBWAA voters will make him wait – showing a preference for a bit more offense.

GROUP THREE – Would Get BBRT’s Vote, But BBWAA Reservations Seem More Understandable

Jeff Kent (Second Base/Third Base/First Base, 1992-2008) –  Fifth  year on the ballot, 16.7 percent last year.

BBRT believes Jeff  Kent is a deserving candidate.  Kent holds the all-time MLB record for home runs by a second baseman (351 of his 377 career round trippers were hit while playing second base). He has a healthy .290 career batting average; his 1,518 RBI are 54th all time; and his 560 doubles 28th.

Jeff Kent has more career runs batted in than such noted Hall of Famers as Mickey Mantle, Billy Williams, Eddie Mathews, Duke Snider, Orlando Cepeda and more.

Kent was a five-time All Star and the 2000 NL MVP.  As primarily a middle infielder, he hit 20 or more home runs in 12 seasons (a high of 37 in 2007) and topped 100 RBI eight times. He hit .276, with nine home runs and 23 RBI in 49 post-season games. Kent has the credentials, but BBRT has a hunch the writers may keep him on the bench – a couple of Gold Gloves, at this traditionally defense-oriented position, would have really helped his case.  Kent played for the Blue Jays (1992); Mets (1992-1996); Indians (1996); Giants (1997-2002); Astros (2003-2004); and Dodgers (2005-2008).

Jeff Kent’s best season: With the Giants in 2000, Kent put up these stats:  159 games; 196 hits; .334 average; 33 home runs; 125 RBI; 114 runs; 12 steals. His performance earned him the NL MVP Award.

Jeff Kent gets BBRT vote – and I believe the BBWAA’s support is overdue.

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Edgar Martinez (Designated Hitter/Third Base, 1987-2004) – Ninth year on the ballot, 58.6  percent last year.

We’ve seen some prejudice against designated hitters in past voting, but Edgar Martinez clearly, and expertly, defined the DH role.  In an 18-season MLB career, Martinez was named to seven All Star teams; won a pair of batting titles (hitting a high of .356 in 1995); topped 100 RBI in six seasons (leading the league with 145 in 2000); and scored 100 or more runs five times (leading the league with 121 in 1995). He finished his career with a .312 average; 2,247 hits; 1,219 runs; 1,261 RBI; 309 home runs; and 514 doubles.  Martinez hit .571 in the 1995 AL Championship Series (12-for-21), with two home runs, six walks and 10 RBI in five games.  In 34 post-season games, he hit .266, with eight home runs and 24 RBI. Martinez played his entire career for the Mariners.

In 2004, MLB renamed the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award “The Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.” That says a lot, right there.

Edgar Martinez’ best season: One of two here, In 1995, Martinez led the league in batting average (.356), runs scored (121) and doubles (52 doubles), adding  29 home runs and 113 RBI.  In 2005, Martinez put up a .324 average, 37 home runs, a league-leading 145 RBI and 100 runs scored.

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Larry Walker (Outfield, 1989-2005) – Eighth year on the ballot, 21.9 percent last year.

Walker played for the Expos (1989-1994); Rockies (1995-2004); and Cardinals (2004-2005).  Given BBRT’s admiration for “lumber AND leather,” Walker’s combination of three batting titles and seven Gold Gloves earns him my vote

Walker played 17 MLB seasons and retired with 2,160 hits, a .313 average and three batting titles.  Between 1997 and 2001, he hit .350 or better in four of five seasons. The five-time All Star (and 1997 NL MVP) hit 383 home runs (a high of 49 in 1997) and stole 230 bases (a high of 33 in 1997).  Walker hit just .230 in 28 post-season games, but did rack up seven home runs, 15 RBI and sixteen walks in those contests (a .350 on-base percentage). Walker’s years in hitter-friendly Colorado may be hurting his vote totals, but BBRT believes if you add his Gold Glove defense to his productive bat, you have a Hall of Famer. (Although an argument can be made based on his career home average of .348, versus an away average of .278.)

In 1997, Larry Walker led the NL with 409 total bases – the 18th highest single-season total all-time. (There have been only 29 seasons of 400 or more total bases in MLB history).

Larry Walker’s best season: In his 1997 NL MVP year (Rockies), Walker hit .366, with a league-leading 49 home runs. He drove in 130 runs, scored 143, rapped 46 doubles, led the league in total bases at 409, topped the league in slugging percentage at .720 and even threw in 33 stolen bases and a Gold Glove.

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Fred McGriff (First Base, 1986-2004)  – Ninth year on the ballot, 21.7 percent last year.

Fred McGriff  played for the Blue Jays (1986-1990); Padres (1991-1993); Braves (1993-1997); Devil Rays (1998-2001, 2004); Cubs (2001-2002); and Dodgers (2003).  McGriff  was five-time All Star, who bashed 493 career home runs (led his league twice, hit 30 or more  home runs in a season ten times); topped 100 RBI eight times (career total 1,550); and put up a  .284 career average over 19 seasons.  He ranks among MLB top 50 all-time in home runs, RBI, extra base hits and walks. McGriff was the 1994 All Star Game MVP. McGriff was also a solid post-season performer, going .303-10-37 in 50 post-season games.

Fred McGriff’s best season: In 1999. McGriff hit .318, with 34 home runs and 104 RBI for Tampa Bay.

McGriff is not likely to get in this time, despite his 493 round trippers (seven more certainly would have helped his case, as would a couple of 40+ HR seasons).  First base is a highly competitive spot when it comes to the HOF.  Still, BBRT believes McGriff’s status as a dependable run producer deserve Hall of Fame Recognition.

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THE REST OF THE BALLOT

So, there are BBRT’s ten choices.  Now, let’s look briefly at the remainder of the ballot – in alphabetical order – since just making it on the ballot deserves recognition. (Heck, just making it to the major leagues deserves recognition.)

Barry Bonds (Outfield, 1986-2007) – Sixth year on the ballot, 53.8 percent a year ago.

Barry Bonds played for the Pirates (1986-1992) and the Giants (1993-2007). There is no doubt about Bond’s credentials – .298 average, 2,935 hits, MLB-record 762 home runs, 1,996 RBI, MLB-record 2,558 walks. He was also a 14-time All Star, 12-time Silver Slugger Award winner, his league’s MVP a record seven times, and an eight-time Gold Glove winner.  In 2001, Bonds hit .328, with an MLB-record 73 home runs and 177 RBI.  He drove in 100 or more runs 12 times and also scored 100 or more runs in a dozen seasons.  And, I could go on and on.  Still, there are those PED’s – an elephant in the room that I think will keep Bonds out of the Hall for at least another year.  Eventually, the dam will break and we will see some of the major stars now under a PED cloud take places in the Hall.  BBRT is not ready to cast that vote yet – and I don’t think 75 percent of the BBWAA is either. We can expect Bonds back on the ballot next year (he may top 60 percent this year).

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Chris Carpenter (Starting Pitcher, 1997-2002, 2004-2012) – First year on the ballot.

Chris Carpenter pitched for the Blue Jays (1997-2002) and Cardinals (2004-2012).  He put up a 144-94 record, with a 3.76 earned run average and 1,697 strikeouts in 2,219 1/3 innings pitched.  The three-time All Star’s best season was 2005, when he went 21-5, 2.83 for the Cardinals and led the NL with seven complete games – earning the NL Cy Young Award. During his career, Carpenter led his league in winning percentage once, earned run average once, games started twice complete games once, shutouts once and innings  pitched once. Couple that with his Cy Young Award and a sparkling 10-4, 3.00 record in 18 post-season starts and Carpenter should easily get enough support to stay on the ballot.

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Roger Clemens (Starting Pitcher, 1984-2007) – Sixth time on the ballot, 54.1 perent last year.

Roger Clemens pitched for the Red Sox (1984-1996); Blue Jays (1997-1998); Yankees (1999-2003, 2007); and Astros (2004-2006).  Clemens has Hall-worthy stats:  354 wins (ninth all-time), 4,672 strikeouts, an MLB-record seven Cy Young Awards, 1986 AL MVP. Clemens was a five-time 20-game winner (led the league in wins four times), seven-time ERA leader, five-time league leader in strikeouts, and six-time leader in shutouts.  He won the AL pitching Triple Crown (Wins/ERA/Strikeouts) three  times. Clemens also has 12 post-season wins, with 173 strikeouts in 199 post-season innings. His best season was 1986, when he went 24-4. 2.48 and won both the Cy Young and AL MVP Awards for the Red Sox.  Yes, he’s got the numbers (those listed and more), but the PED controversy seems to stand between him and the Hall. Don’t think the BBWAA is ready yet, but he’ll continue on the ballot – and will likely gain on that 75 percent requirement.

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Johnny Damon (Outfield, 1995-2012) – First year on the ballot.

Johnny Damon played for the Royals (1995-2000); A’s (2001); Red Sox (2002-2005); Yankees (2006-2009); Tigers (2010); Rays (2011); and Indians (2012). The two-time All Star played in 18 MLB seasons, hitting .284 with 235 home runs, 1,139 RBI, 1,668 runs scored, 408 stolen bases and 2,769 hits.  Those numbers put Damon 54th all-time in hits, 32nd in runs scored and 67th in stolen bases. Damon topped .300 four times, exceeded twenty stolen bases in ten seasons (a league-leading 46 for the Royals in 2000), scored 100+ runs in ten seasons (nine consecutive from 1998-2006). His best season was 2000, when he hit  .327, with 214 hits, 42 doubles, ten triples, 16 home runs, 88 RBI, a league-topping 136 runs scored and an AL-best 46 stolen bases.  He hit.276, with a surprising ten home runs and 33 RBI in 59 post-season games (he also had 39 runs scored and 13 steals in the post-season). In addition, he was known as a positive force in the clubhouse.  Competition for Hall of Fame recognition is tough among outfielders. I expect Damon to stay on the ballot, but a first-year election is not likely.

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Livan Hernandez (Starting Pitcher, 1996-2012) – First year on the ballot.

Livan Hernandez pitched for the Marlins (1996-1999); Giants (1999-2002); Expos/Nationals (2003-2006, 2009-2011); Diamondbacks (2006-2007); Twins (2008); Rockies (2008); Mets (2009); Braves (2012); and Brewers (2012). He stepped into the spotlight in 1997 – at age 22 – capturing the Natoinal League Championship Series and World Series MVP Awards. In the NLCS, Hernandez – who had gone 9-3, 3.18 in 17 regular season starts for the Marlins – won a pair of games and put up a 0.84 ERA. He then won two games in the World Series, despite a 5.27 ERA.  In a total of 12 post-season appearances (ten starts), he went 7-3, 3.97.

During his career, Hernandez was a two-time All Star and put up a 178-177, 4.44 record. He was a league leader in starts and complete games twice each.  That 178-177 record, with only with only five seasons over .500 is not likely to keep him on the ballot.

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Orlando Hudson (Second Base, 2002-2012) – First time on the ballot.

Hudson played for the Blue Jays (2002-2005); Diamondbacks (2006-2008); Dodgers (2009); Twins (2010); Padres (2011-2012); and White Sox 2012. He was a two-time All Star and four-time Gold Glover, who finished an eleven-season MLB career with a .273-93-542 line.  His best season was 2007, when he went .294-10-63, with ten steals, in 139 games for the Diamondbacks. (He also picked up a Gold Glove that season.)  Hudson was the league leader in assists at second base three times, fielding percentage twice, putouts once and double plays once. Hudson played in 11 post-season contests (16 at bats) and collected five hits (.313), two home runs and three RBI. Probably a one-ballot only player, but a nice 11-season run.

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Aubrey Huff  (First base/Third base/Outfield, 2000-2012) – First year on the ballot.

Huff played for the Devil Rays (2000-2006); Astros (2006); Orioles (2007-2009); Tigers (2009); and Giants (2010-2012). He finished his 12-season MLB career with a .278 average, 242 home runs, 904 RBI and 806 runs scored.  He hit over .300 three times, topped twenty home runs six times (with 30+ twice) and 100 RBI three times. His best season was 2003 when he hit .311, with 34 home runs and 107 RBI for Tampa Bay. He played in 25 post-season contests, hitting .246, with one home run and eight RBI. With no All Star appearances,there doesn’t seem to be enough here to keep him on the ballot.

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Jason Isringhausen (Closer, 1995-1997, 1999-2009, 2011-2012) – First year on the ballot.

Jason Isringhausen pitched for the Mets (1995-1997, 1999, 2011); A’s (1999-2001); Cardinals (2002-2008); Rays (2009); and Dodgers (2012).  The fact that Isringhausen is on this ballot is one of MLB’s feel-good stories. Isringhausen came up as a 22-year-old starting pitcher with the Mets in July of 1995. (His 1995 minor league record  – AA & AAA –  was 11-2, 1.97 in 18 starts.) He started 14 games for the Mets, going 9-2, 2.81 – and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year balloting. (The Dodgers’ Hideo Nomo won the award on the basis of a 13-6, 2.54 record in 28 starts – with a league-leading three shutouts.) What followed that solid beginning for Isringhausen was a series of health problems (tuberculosis, a broken wrist and a series of arm surgeries that put him out of action from early in the 1997 season until 1999). When he returned (after initital attempts at starting), he reinvented  himself as an effective “closer.”

Ultimately, Isringhausen retired with a record of 51-55, a 3.54 ERA and 300 saves (26th  all-time). He made two All Star teams, topped 30 saves seven times (leading the NL with 47 saves in 2004) and fanned 830  batters in 1007 2/3 innings.  He appeared in 23 post-season games, going 1-1, 2.36 with 11 saves.  Isringhausen will get some (well-deserved) votes, probably (but not assuredly) enough to stay on the ballot.  Ultimate election in the traditional ballot seems unlikely, despite the 300 saves.  (Witness how the BBWAA voters treated Lee Smith and his 478 saves.)

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Andruw Jones (Outfield, 1996-2012) – First time on the ballot.

Andruw Jones played for the Braves (1996-2007); Dodgers (2008); Rangers (2009); White Sox (2010); and Yankees (2011-2012). In a 17-season career – primarily patrolling centerfield – he won ten Gold Gloves (consecutively, 1998-2007). At the plate, he hit .254, with 434 home runs, 1,289 RBI and 1,204  runs scored. He topped 25 home runs in ten season (six over thirty and a league-leading and career-high of 51 in 2005). He scored 100 or more runs four times, drove in 100+ five times and stole twenty or more bases in a season four times. His best season was 2005, when he hit only .263, but led the NL in home runs (51) and RBI (128) – finishing second in the MVP voting to Albert Pujols (.330-41-117). Jones appeared in 76 post-season games, hitting .273, with ten home runs and 34 RBI. In the 1996 World Series – as a 19-year-old – he hit .400 (8-for-20) with two home runs and six RBI, becoming the youngest player to hit for the distance in the Fall Classic.

Jones’ ten Gold Gloves work in his favor, but – over the long haul – that .254 average (he only hit .300 or better once and over .270 only four times) will dampen hise HOF chances.

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Carlos Lee (First Base/Outfield, 1999-2012) – First year on the ballot.

Carlos Lee played for the White Sox (1999-2004); Brewers (2005-2006); Rangers (2006); Astros (2007-2012); and Marlins (2012). A three-time All Star, Lee hit .285, with 358 home runs and 1,363 RBI over 14 MLB seasons. He was as dependable as they come, playing in 150 or more games in 11 seasons (leading the league in games played twice.) While Lee never led his league in any major offensive category, he hit 20 or more home runs 12 times – hitting 30+ in a season five times. He also put up six 100+ RBI seasons and four seasons of 100 or more runs scored.  Twice led his league in assists by a left fielder. A solid career of  “very good+,” but short of HOF performance.

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Brad Lidge (Closer, 2002-2012) – First time on th ballot.

Brad Lidge played for the Astros (2002-2007); Phillies (208-2011); and Nationals (2012). Lidge ended his 11-season MLB career with a 26-32 won-lost record, a 3.54 ERA, 225 saves and 799 strikeouts in 603 1/3 innings (he could  miss some bats). He topped thirty saves four times and his best season was 2008, when he went 2-0, with 41 saves (in 41 opportunities), a 1.95 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. Lidge was a solid post-season performer, appearing in 39 post-season games, going 2-4, 2.18 with 18 saves. Very nice career, but the body of work is just not enough to get himn inrto the Hall.

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Hideki Matsui (Outfield/Designated Hitter, 2003-2012) – First time on the ballot.

Hideki Matsui played for the Yankees (2003-2009); Angels (2010); A’s (2011); and Rays (2012).  The Japanese star came  to the Yankees in 2003 – at age 29. He started with a bang, playing in every game over his first three seasons, making  two All Star squads and hitting .297, with 70 home runs, 330 RBI and 299 runs scored. He got off to a slow start in his  fourth season in New York – standing at  .261-5-19  after 32 games. In a game  in mid-May, he broke his wrist (requiring surgery) attempting to catch a short fly ball and was out until mid-September He came back strong, however, hitting .396 in September/October to finish the season at 302-8-29 in  51 games. In 2007, he went .285-25-103. Then, in 2008, knee problems limited him to 93 games – and he did not reach the 150-game mark in any of his final five seasons.  Ultimately, Matsui ended up  with a .282 averge, 175 home runs and 760 RBI. Matsui was the MVP of the 2009 World Series (with the Yankees), when he hit .615,  with three home runs and eight RBI in six games. In 56 post-season contests overall, he hit .312-10-39.  Had Matsui made his move to the majors earlier, he may very well hace put up HOF numbers. His ten-season stats, while solid, fall short.

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Kevin Millwood (Starting Pitcher, 1997-2012) – First year on the ballot.

Kevin Millwood pitched for the Braves (1997-2002); Phililes (2003-2004); Indians (2005); Rangers (2006-2009); Orioles (2010); Rockies (2011); and Mariners (2012). He finished his 16-season MLB career with a record of 169-152, 4.11 and led his league in ERA once, starts twice and shutouts once. His best season was with the Braves in 1991, when he went 18-8, with a 2.68 ERA and made his only All Star team. He also has a no-hitter on his resume (as a Phillie versus the Giants on April 27, 2003.) Millwood made nine post-season appearances (seven starts), going 3-3, 3.92. Don’t see enough here to keep Millwaood on the ballot.

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Jamie Moyer (Starting pitcher, 1986-1991, 1993-2010, 2012) – First year on the ballot.

Jamie Moyer pitched for the Cubs (1986-1988); Rangers (1989-1991); Orioles (1993-1995); Red Sox (1996); Mariners (1996-2006); Phillies (2006-2010); and Rockies (2012).  Moyer pitched in 25 MLB seasons – ending his career with the Rockies at age 49 (2-5, 5.70 ERA), where he became the oldest pitcher ever to win an MLB game and the oldest major leaguer ever to drive in a run.  He retired  with 269 victories (209 losses) and a 4.25 earned run average.

Moyer was a twenty-game winner twice and his best season was 2003, when he went 21-7, 3.27 for Seattle and made his only All Star squad. he started eight post-season games, going 3-3, 4.14.  Longevity counts – but not enough to get Moyer into the Hall.

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Manny Ramirez (Outfield, 1993-2011) – Second year on the ballot, 23.8 percent last year.

Manny Ramirez played 19 MLB seasons, collecting 2,574 hits, a  .312 batting average, 555 home runs (15th all-time) and 1,.831 RBI (19th all-time). Ramirez was a 12-time All Star and led the AL in average (2002), home runs (2004) and RBI (1999) once each.  Ramirez won nine Silver Slugger Awards, including eight consecutive (1999-2006), hit .285 with 29 home runs in 111 post season games and was the 2004 World Series MVP.  He hit 30 or more home runs in ten seasons (five of 40+) .  Ramirez played in 111 post-season games, going .285-29-78 – and was the MVP of the 2007 World Series (for Boston) after hitting .412 with one home run and four RBI in four games. His 28 post-season home runs are first all-time, while his 78 post-season RBI rank second. Ramirez clearly put up HOF-caliber numbers, but two PED-related suspensions will hurt his chances. Not this year, but he’ll be back for another shot.  Ramirez played for the Indians (1993-2000); Red Sox (2001-2008); Dodgers 2009-2010); and Rays (2011).

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Scott Rolen (Third Base, 1996-2012) – First year on the ballot.

Scott Rolen played for the Phillies (1996-2002); Cardinals (2002-2007); Blue Jays (2008-2009); and Reds (2009-2012). The seven-time All Star (including in two of his final three seasons) flashed leather and lumber, collecting eight Gold Gloves and rapping 316 home runs. He finished with a .281 average, 316 home runs, 1,287 RBI, 1,211 runs scored and 188 stolen bases. Rolen hit 25 or more home runs seven times, with a high of 34 in 2005.  He also put up five 100+ RBI seasons, scored 100+ runs in two campaigns and reached double digits in steals five times. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1997 (.283-21-92,with 16 steals). Rolen hit .220,with five home runs and 12 RBI in 39 post-season games. Not a first-ballot inductee, but deserves to stay on the ballot for another round.

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Johan Santana (Starting Pitcher, 2000-2010, 2012) – First year on the ballot.

Johan Santana pitched for the Twins (2000-2010) and Mets (2008-2010, 2012). Santaa had a blazing career, cut short by shoulder issues (requiring multiple surgeries). In 12 MLB seasons, Santana went 139-78, 3.20 with 1,988 strikeouts in 2,025 2/3 innings. He made pretty much every inning count. While he only won 20 games once, Santana was a two-time Cy Young Award winner, a four-time All Star and also picked up a Gold Glove. He led his league in wins once, earned run average three times, strikeouts three times, starts twice and innings pitched twice. While he had some great seasons, his best we probably 2006. That year, with the Twins, he led the AL in wins (19), ERA (2.77) and strikeouts (245) capturing the pitching Triple Crown (and the Cy Young Award). Santana was 1-3, 3.97 in 11 post-season appearances (five starts).  I would have loved to vote for him, byt 139 wins was just not enough to crack my top ten. I expect he will get enough support to stay on the ballot (better post-season numbers would  be a big help).

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Curt Schilling (Starting Pitcher , 1988-2007) – Sixth year on the ballot, 45.0 percent last year.

Curt Schilling pitched for the Orioles (1988-1990); Astros (1991); Phillies (1992-2000); Diamondbacks (2000-2003); and Red Sox (2004-2007).  Schilling is a six-time All Star, with 216 career wins (three seasons of 20 or more wins) over a 20-season MLB career. He recorded 3,116 strikeouts (three seasons of 300 or more whiffs), led his league in wins twice, complete games four times, innings pitched twice and strikeouts twice. He was also the 2001 World Series co-MVP – and has an impressive 11-2, 2.23 ERA post-season record (19 starts). He is on the cusp for the HOF. However, his outspoken views, Mike Mussina’s 270-win total (likely he will get in before Schilling) and the lack of a Cy Young Award may be working against Schilling’s vote-getting capacity. His best season was 2001, when he went 22-8 for the Diamondbacks (with a 2.98 ERA).  That year, he lead the league in wins, starts (5), complete games (6), innings pitched (256 2/3).  He’ll be back for another shot.

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Gary Sheffield (Outfield/Designated Hitter/Third Base/Shortstop, 1988-2009) – Fourth year on the ballot, 13.3 percent last year.

Gary Sheffield played for the Brewers (1988-1991); Padres (1992-1993); Marlins (1993-19998); Dodgers (1998-2001); Braves (2002-2003); Yankees(2004-2006); Tigers (2008); and Mets (2009).  Sheffield is a nine-time All Star (in 22 MLB seasons) and five-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He launched 509 career home runs (topped 30 home runs in a season eight times , with a high of 43 in 2000); maintained a .292 career average (hit .300+ in eight seasons); and collected 1,676 RBI (28th all-time).  He also won the 1992 NL batting title (.330); topped 100 RBI eight times; and scored  100 or more runs in a season seven times. His best season was 1996 (Marlins), when he hit .314, with 42 home runs, 120 RBI, 188 runs scored and 16 steals.  Appeared in 44 post-season games, hitting .248, with six home runs and 19 RBI.  Sheffield has the offensive numbers, but defensive questions and the shadow of PEDs are likely to keep him on the outside looking in.  He should return to the ballot next year, but it’s not a guarantee.

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Sammy Sosa (Outfield, 1989-2007) – Sixth year on the ballot, 8.6 percent last year.

Sammy Sosa played for the Rangers (1989, 2007); White Sox (1989-1991); Cubs (1992-2004); and Orioles (2005).  Sosa hit 609 home runs (9th all-time) in 18 MLB seasons – winning two HR titles, topping sixty three times and also hitting 50 one year.  In the four seasons from 1998 to 2001, Sosa averaged 60 home runs and 149 RBI per season. His career numbers include a .273 average, 609 home runs, 1,667 RBI (29th all-time), 1,475 runs scored and 234 stolen bases (a high of 36 steals in 1993). Sosa was the 1998 NL MVP (Cubs), led his league in home runs twice, runs scored three times and RBI twice.    His best season was 1998 (Cubs), when he hit .308, with 66 home runs, a league-leading 158 RBI and a league-leading 134 runs scored – and even tossed in 18 stolen bases. He played in 15 post-season contests, hitting .245-2-7.  So, why is the seven-time All Star not in the Hall?  The PED shadow has dimmed his chances.

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Billy Wagner (Closer, 1995-2010) – Third year on the ballot, 10.2 percent last year.

Billy Wagner played for the Astros (1995-2003); Phillies (2004-2005); Mets (2006-2009); Red Sox (2009); and Braves (2010).Wagner is a seven-time All Star, who amassed 422 saves (fifth all-time) in a 16-season MLB career.  He had nine seasons of 30 or more saves; a career ERA of 2.31; 1,196 career strikeouts in 903 innings; and 47-40 won-lost record.  His best season was 2003, when he went 1-4, 1.78 for the Astros, saving 44 games and fanning 105 batters in 86 inings.  BBRT thinks he belongs in the Hall (based on his 400+ saves) – and hopes that momentum starts to build.   However, considering that Lee Smith – with his 478 saves – never reached 75 percent, the odds are not in Wagner’s favor.

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Kerry Wood (Starting Pitcher/Reliever, 1998, 2000-2012) – First Year on the ballot.

Kerry Wood pitched for the Cubs (1998, 2000-2008, 2011-2012); Indians (2009-2010); and Yankees (2010). Wood’s career clearly had its ups and downs. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1998 – going 13-6, 3.40 with 233 strikeouts in 166 2/3 innings for the Cubs.  In just his fifth career start (May 6, 1998), the 20-year-old Wood threw a one-hit, zero-walk (one hit batter), 20-strikeout complete game shutout (versus the Astros) – setting a new rookie record for strikeouts in a game and tying the all-time MLB record for whiffs in a nine-inning game. However, all was not perfect.  Wood  missed the final month of the season with elbow issues  – ultimately having Tommy John surgery that would cost him the entire 1999 season.   During his MLB career (14 seasons in 15 years), Wood was on the disabled list 14 times.  Still, when working primarily as a starter (1998-2006),  he went 71-56, 3.68 – with 1,299 strikeouts in 1,128 2/3 innings. He had three seasons of 200+ strikeouts in that span, leading the NL with 266 whiffs in 2003 (his only All Star season as a starting pitcher).

Reponding to injuries, Wood reinvented himself as a reliever, and put up a 5-4, 3.26 record, with 34 saves and 84 strikeouts in 66 1/3 innings as the Cubs’ closer in 2008 (his only All Star season as a closer). As a reliever (2007-1012), Wood went 15-19, 3.65, with 63 saves and 283 strikeouts in 251 1/3 innings pitched.  Overall, Wood struck out 10.32 batters per nine innings for his career (1,582 strikeouts in 1,380 innings), with an 86-75 record, 63 saves and a 3.67 earned run average. In 15 post-season appearances (five starts), he went 2-2, 3.43 and fanned 45 batters in 44 2/3 innings. His rookie season was arguably his best. The only thing that kept Wood out of the Hall of Fame – given his stuff – was the health of his right arm.

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Carlos Zambrano (Starting Pitcher, 2001-2012) – First time on the ballot.

Carlos Zambrano pitched for the Cubs (2001-2011) and Marlins (2012). He was a three-time All-Star  and a three-time Silver Slugger Award Winner. In 12 MLB seasons, Zambrano went 132-91, 3.66.  He won 15 or more more games three times – leading the NL with 16 wins in 2006. He hit .238 over his career, including 24 home runs and 71 RBI. He hit a career-high .337 in 2008 and a career-high six home runs in 2006. His best season was 2004, when he went 16-8, with a career-best 2.75 ERA.  In five post-season starts, Zambrano went 0-2, 4.34.  Likely just one year on the ballot, but it is nice to see him recognized.

Want to vote in Baseball Roundtable’s Fan Ballot – click here.  For BBRT’s take on the Modern Game Committee nomines, click here.

Primary Resources: National Baseball Hall of Fame; Baseball-Reference.com; Society for American Baseball Research

 

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Baseball Roundtable Looks at “Modern Game” Hall of Fame Ballot

Baseball Hall of Fame should make room for Harry Stovey in 2016. .

The Baseball Hall of Fame has released its Modern Baseball (Era) Committee Ballot – listing nine former players and one executive for consideration for the 2018 Hall of Fame Class.  The 16-member Modern Baseball Committee considers players and executives active between 1970-87.  This election is in addition to the traditional Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) HOF balloting. Era Committee nominees must garner the votes of 12 (75 percent) of committee members for election. Each member of the committee may vote for up to four candidates.  The Modern Era candidates for 2018 induction are: Steve Garvey; Tommy John; Don Mattingly; Marvin Miller (executive); Jack Morris; Dale Murphy; Dave Parker; Ted Simmons; Luis Tiant; and Alan Trammel.

BACKGROUND ON HALL O F FAME VOTING

The Baseball Hall of Fame Era Committees …

Today’s Game (1988-present); Modern Baseball (1970-87); Golden Days (1950-69); Early Baseball (1871-1949).  Near-term voting years for each committee:

  • Today’s Game – 2017, 2019
  • Modern Baseball – 2018, 2020
  • Golden Days and Early Baseball – 2021

To be eligible for the ERA Committees’ ballots: Players must have played in at least ten MLB seasons and have been retired for at least 15 seasons; Managers and Umpires must have ten years in MLB and be retired for at least five seasons if under 65-years-old, six months if 65-or-over; Executives must be retired at least five years or at least 70-years-old. In addition, the nominees must no longer be eligible for the traditional Baseball Writers Association of America balloting (BBWAA).

Traditional BBWAA Hall of Fame Elections …

For the traditional BBWAA election, players must have played in at least ten MLB seasons and been retired (as a player) for at least five seasons. Players stay on the ballot up to ten years (formerly 15 years), but are dropped from the ballot after any election in which they receive less than five percent of the vote. (Eligible voters are active and honorary members of the BBWAA who have been active baseball writers for at least ten years and BBWAA members for a period beginning at least ten years prior to the current voting. Each elector may vote for up to ten individual on the ballot – and it takes 75 percent of the vote for election.)

Stated HOF Election Criteria …

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

In this post, Baseball Roundtable will take a look at all ten Modern Game candidates; comment on how BBRT would vote (if I had a ballot); and attempt to predict who the actual Modern Era Committee will select for 2018 Hall of Fame Induction. (I’ll present those comments and predictions in reverse order.)

Traditional BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot voting is underway – and Baseball Roundtable is conducting an unofficial fan ballot. To reach about those candidates and cast your unofficial fan vote(s), click here. 

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MODERN ERA COMMITTEE PREDICTION

Baseball Roundtable predicts that this year’s successful nominees will be:  Marvin Miller; Jack Morris; and Ted Simmons.  (Further comments on why BBRT predicts those results are included in the remainder of this post.) I might add that we could see fewer nominees get the necessary 75 percent vote: 1) Voting tends to be conservative; 2) With only four votes, electors have to be selective – and multiple candidates with similar “credentials” could end up splitting vote totals.  There is one caveat.  If the Modeern Game Committee choose to honor the late Marvin Miller’s wished and not select him for inducation, I expect one of the following players will join Morris and Simmons:  1) Alan Trammel; 2) Tommy John; or 3) Steve Garvey.

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IF BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE HAD A BALLOT

Let me say first, these were not easy choices.  There were half dozen nominees I could easily have voted for – but, playing by the rules, I limited myself to four selections. My preferences were based on the stated election criteria (see box above), which I divided into:  Game – actual stats and performance; Fame – awards and recognitions; and Character –  heart, conduct and contributions to both teams and the game itself.

Here are the four nominees I finally decided on:

  1. Ted Simmons, C/1B, 1968-1988 … Cardinals, Brewers, Braves

SimmonsMy first Modern Game vote (if I had one) would go to Ted Simmons.  To me this one is a no-brainer. What I find most puzzling is that in his first year on the traditional Hall of Fame ballot, Simmons got only 3.7 percent of the vote – dropping him from the BBWAA ballot after just one shot. (Player who gets less than five percent are dropped from the ballot.) I should add here that, in making this selection, I did take into consideration that Simmons played one of the game’s most challenging and wearing positions – and did it for 21 seasons.  Factors that drove my decision:

  • Simmons has more base hits (2,472) than any (primary) catcher in MLB history except Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez. That’s right. More hits than the likes of Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza, Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter (all Hall of Famers) or, going further back, more than Hall of Fame backstops Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey and Roger Bresnahan.
  • Simmons also has more career RBI (1,389) than any other primary catcher except Yogi Berra. Right again. More RBI than such backstops as Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Carlton Fisk, Ivan Rodriguez. Gary Carter, Bill Dickey and Mickey Cochrane.
  • Simmons also has more doubles (483) than any other primary catcher except Rodriguez.
  • He also ranks sixth all-time among catchers in runs scored (1,074) – sandwiched on the all-time list between Johnny Bench (1,091) and Mike Piazza (1,048) and is one of only ten catchers to cross the plate 1,000+ times (eight of the ten are already in the HOF).

Starting to see the logic behind my vote?

Ted Simmons had a 21-season (15 seasons of 100 or more games) major league career, primarily as a catcher.  He was with the Cardinals from 1968 to 1980, the Brewers from 1981 to 1985 and the Braves from 1986 to 1988.  He was an eight-time All Star (six times in the decade of the ‘70s) and finished his career with a .285 average, 248 home runs and 1,389 RBI in 2,456 games.  He hit over .300 in seven full-time seasons, recorded 20 or more home runs in six campaigns and had 100 or more RBI three times. His best season was with the Cardinals in 1975, when he hit .332 with 18 home runs and 100 RBI.  Although he was not a Gold Glove caliber defender, he was dependable enough to find himself behind the plate defensively in 1,771 games – 15th all-time and ahead of such stars as Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza and five other Hall of Fame backstops (Ivan Rodriguez leads the way with 2,427 defensive game at catcher).

All things considered, Ted Simmons would get Baseball Roundtable’s Modern Era vote and I am hopeful the Modern Era Committee will also see it that way.

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  1. Tommy John, LHP, 1963-89 … Indians, White Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, A’s

JohnTommy John pitched 26 years in the major leagues – and even had a ground-breaking (and game-changing) surgery named after him. During his time on the traditional ballot, John’s highest vote total was 31.7 percent.

John put up 288 victories (231 losses) and a 3.34 earned run average.  All solid numbers. However, there are pros and cons to John’s Hall of Fame candidacy. Let’s start with the pros:

  • John has 288 victories – that is 26th all-time among starting pitchers – and of the 25 pitches with more wins, all but two (Roger Clemens and Bobby Mathews) are in the Hall of Fame. Fact is, more than half the starting pitchers enshrined have fewer wins than John.
  • John won 20 or more games in a season three times and twice led the NL in winning percentage.
  • John’s 46 shutouts are also 26th all-time and all but one (Luis Tiant) of the pitchers with more shutouts than John is in the Hall – and, again, more than half of the pitchers in the Hall of Fame have fewer shutouts than John. He also led his league in shutouts three times.
  • John’s 4710 1/3 innings pitched are 20th all-time and he is one of just eight pitchers with 700 or more starts (his 700 starts are sixth all-time).
  • John’s 27 MLB seasons played are third in MLB history behind only Nolan Ryan (27 seasons … 1966-93) and Cap Anson (27 seasons …. 1871-97).
  • John retired with a .555 winning percentage, ahead of more than a dozen starting pitchers currently in the Hall of Fame.

There are also some cons:

  • John’s wins can be attributed to his longevity. As Baseball-Reference.com reports, his average full season record was 13-11 – which does seem to fall short of Hall-worthy.
  • Despite a respectable 2,245 career strikeouts, he fanned only 4.3 batters per nine innings – not exactly dominating.
  • He never won a Cy Young Award and was an All Star only four times in 26 seasons.

In my book, John also deserves Character credits for taking on the risk and leaning into the rehab of a new surgical procedure that had a long-term impact not just on his career (he won 164 games after the surgery), but on the game itself.

Ultimately, John was a good enough and dedicated to last 26 seasons in the major leagues – and put up 288 wins. Despite his low strikeouts per nine innings figure, he did what we look for pitcher to do – get outs and produce wins.

ONE FINAL THOUGHT ON TOMMY JOHN

HOF voters put Sandy Koufax in the Hall with just 165 wins – recognizing that injury shortened his career.  I think it’s time Tommy John and his 288 wins entered the HOF, recognizing that surgery – and a powerful work ethic – lengthened his career.  Side note: Tommy John had just one fewer victory after his historic surgery than Sandy Koufax had in his career.

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  1. Jack Morris, RHP, 1977-1994 … Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Indians

MorrisJack Morris would also get my vote  – although I may be a bit biased, having been in the park for his 1991 World Series Game Seven, 1-0, complete-game, shutout victory. This is a close call, but Morris’ reputation for grit and determination – particularly in “big” games – gives him the Character points he needs to push him to a spot near the top of the BBRT ballot. (Morris, by the way, had the highest vote total on the traditional ballot among this year’s Modern Game nominees – 67.7 percent in 2013.  He doesn’t need much of a push.)

The right-hander pitched 18 seasons (for four different teams) and his consistent status as a staff “Ace” or at least staff “Leader” is reflected in his 14 Opening Day starts. (Note: I acknowledge Morris was not the winningest pitcher on his team in all 14 of those seasons, but being selected for Opening Day does carry some significance and, I believe,  earn both “Fame” and “Character” points.)  Morris’ final stat line was 254-186, with a 3.90 ERA (that ERA hurts his HOF chances), 2,478 strikeouts in 3,824 innings pitched and 175 complete games. He was an All Star five times, a three-time twenty-game winner (led his league in wins twice and also led in complete games, shutouts and innings pitched once each). Morris threw 200 or more innings in a season 11 times. His best season was 1983, when he went 20-13, 3.34, with 20 complete games (in 37 starts) and an AL-topping 293 2/3 innings pitched for the Tigers.

All of these factors put Morris on the “very good” list – but, perhaps just to the edge of the HOF list.  So, what puts him over the top for BBRT?  A couple of things.  First Morris, won more games in the decade of the 1980s (162) – 22 more than any other pitcher in MLB – and also pitched the most innings (2,433 2/3) in the decade. His 1,629 strikeouts in the ‘80s trailed only Nolan Ryan and Fernando Valenzuela. Then there is his performance on the big stage.  Morris pitched in three World Series and was dominant in two of them – going 2-0, 2.00 with two complete games for the Tigers in 1984; 2-0, 1.17 in three starts (one complete game) for the Twins in 1991 (including that Game Seven, ten-inning, complete-game shutout); and 0-2, 8.44 for the Blue Jays in 1992. Even with that 1992 debacle, his World Series line is 4-2, 2.97 – three complete games in seven starts.  Overall, Morris’ post-season record is 7-4, 3.80.

Ultimately, BBRT thinks Morris has just enough to earn that spot in the Hall.   (Besides, if Morris gets in, the door opens a little wider for one of my Minnesota favorites – Jim Kaat, with his 283 wins and 16 Gold Gloves.)

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  1. Alan Trammell, SS, 1977-96 … Tigers

TrammelMy fourth and final vote required a little soul-searching – and moved me from my traditional “old school” approach to the ballot toward a view that also incorporates some of today’s “advanced” metrics. Note: In 2016, his last year on the traditional Hall of Fame ballot, Trammel garnered 40.9 percent support from the BBWAA.

Alan Trammel spent 19 of his 20 MLB seasons teamed up with Tigers’ 2B Lou Whitaker – making them the longest-running and most-prolific SS/2B double-play combination in MLB history. Trammel also was a six-time All Star, four-time Gold Glover and three-time Silver Slugger honoree.

Trammel does have solid numbers – particularly for a middle infielder – a .285 average over 20 seasons, 2,365 hits, 185 home runs and 1,003 RBI.  In addition, his HOF resume includes the 1984 World Series MVP Award (he hit .450 with two home runs and six RBI in five games). Trammel’s best campaign was 1987, when he hit .343, with 28 home runs, 105 RBI and 21 stolen bases. That season, Trammel finished in the top five in the AL in average, hits, runs scored and total bases.  Trammel’s case for the HOF does suffer a bit for having never led his league in any offensive category.

As I considered Trammel, I found a number of analysts and supporters who compared him to Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.  The two do have similar career stat lines – a pretty good measure of their Game.  However, the difference between Trammel and Larkin in the Fame department may explain why Trammel is not already in the Hall and Larkin is.  Larkin was selected to 12 All Star teams to Trammel’s six and collected nine Silver Sluggers to Trammel’s three. (Trammel did earn four Gold Gloves to Larkin’s three).   Larkin’s 1995 NL MVP Award also probably slightly outshines Trammel’s 1984 World Series MVP recognition.  In addition, while both players had two 20-20 (HR-SB) seasons, one of Larkin’s was a 30-30 campaign, which earns a few more Fame points. Given all this, I didn’t really buy into the Trammel/Larkin comparison.  However, I did think Trammel’s 20 years of solid production demanded further examination.

To complete my consideration, I went outside my comfort zone.  Now, those who follow Baseball Roundtable know I am both old and “old school.” I tend to lean toward traditional statistics like batting average, home runs, RBI, won-lost records, earned run average and strikeouts – and away from such markers as Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and Batting Average on Balls in Play (BIP). I am more interested in how far a home run traveled than its elevation angle and exit speed and more intrigued by fastball/curveball speed and the number of swings and misses than spin rate and perceived velocity.  In addition, I do not like the new “wave the batter to first” intentional walk, challenge/replay and designated hitter. (I am not totally old school.  I do think the current crop of young stars is the best MLB has seen in decades).  Now, there are some relative new stats that I do place stock in – like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) – and I went there to make my final decision on Trammel.  “Boom,” that put him over the top.

Trammel’s career Wins Above Replacement is 70.4 – compared to the average of 66.7 among Hall of Fame shortstops, eleventh all-time and sandwiched between Larkin’s 70.2 and certain future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter’s 71.8. That’s pretty good company.  When you look at WAR over the player’s peak seven seasons, Trammel looks just as good, seventh all-time among shortstops at 44.7 – compared to the average of 42.8 among Hall of Fame shortstops and ahead of such star-quality shortstops as Luke Appling, Barry Larkin, Derek Jeter, Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzuto.  Six of the seven shortstops ahead of Trammel by this measure are in the Hall of Fame (all except Alex Rodriguez).

Taking all of this together, Trammel would get my Modern Game vote – which I am sure will make me some friends among BBRT’s Detroit readers.

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THE REMAINING CANDIDATES

Now, how about the other candidates?  Let’s go alphabetically.

Steve Garvey, 1B/3B, 1969-1987 … Dodgers/Padres

GarveySteve Garvey was one of my final six (as I worked my way toward the allowed four votes).  Garvey’s high point in the traditional balloting was 42.6 percent.

Garvey was selected to 10 All Star squads (eight in a row from 1974-81) and achieved 2,599 hits and a lifetime batting average of .294, despite playing in notorious “pitchers’ parks in Los Angeles and San Diego. He hit over .300 in seven full seasons, collected 200 or more hits in a campaign six times and 100 or more RBI five times.  The level of competition for recognition at his position is reflected by the fact that Garvey does not have a Silver Slugger Award on his resume (approximately half his career was played before the Silver Slugger was established).  Garvey had plenty of Game.

Garvey also scores well in the Fame department. He was the 1974 NL MVP, the NL Championship Series MVP twice (1978 & 1984) and put up a .338-11-31 line in 55 post-season contests.  In addition, he was a two-time All Star Game MVP (1974 & 1978).  He added a little frosting to the cake with four consecutive Gold Gloves (1974-77) and also holds the National League record for consecutive games played at 1,207.

After leaving the playing field, Garvey did face some “character” issues (read paternity suits) – which tarnished his All-American image and may have cost him votes over time. Also working against Garvey is his 272 career home runs from what is traditionally a power position.  Garvey, however, did hit 20+ home runs in a season five times, with a high of 33 in 1977. He had several campaigns in the .315-20-100 range, but I would probably rate his best as 1977, when he played in all 162 Dodgers’ games, hit.297, poled 33 home runs, drove in 115 and tossed in a Gold Glove and 19 stolen bases. (His career high in steals was 19 in 1976.)

Overall, Garvey may be on the edge of the Hall statistically – particularly when you look at career home runs and RBI.  For BBRT, his ten All Star selections and post-season performance move him up the list and should eventually earn him a Hall of Fame plaque. He would have been my fifth selection this year – but, of course, there is a four-vote limit. Garvey does have a chance this year and will clearly remain in the running.

STEVE GARVEY AND THE POST SEASON

For your consideration: Steve Garvey’s post-season batting averages:

  •  Five NL Division Series games -.368
  •  22 NL Championship Series games – .356;
  •  28 World Series games – .319.

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Don Mattingly, 1B/OF, Yankees … 1982-1995

MattinglyDon Mattingly put up some very nice numbers in a 14-season MLB career – a .307 average, 2,153 hits, 222 home runs, 1,099 RBI. He also was a six-time All Star, nine-time Gold Glover, and the 1985 American League MVP. In addition, he led the AL in hits twice, doubles three times, total bases twice, RBI once and batting average once. So, why is he not in the Hall of Fame? In fact, why was his highest total on the traditional ballot less than 30 percent (29.2 percent)?

Mattingly played a position(s) noted for power and run production – and, due in great part to back issues, he did not put up the career home run and RBI totals that would have opened the doors to the Hall.  For example, after hitting .337, belting 119 home runs, driving in 483 runs and making four All Star teams in his first four full major league seasons, Mattingly hit .292, with only 99 home runs, 583 RBI and two All Star selections over his final eight campaigns. It seems unlikely Mattingly will get the Modern Game Committee nod.

 

 

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Marvin Miller, Executive

MillerThe late Marvin Miller (1917-2012) served as the Executive Director of the MLB Players Association from 1966-82 – negotiating the first collective bargaining agreement in professional sports and leading the MLB Players Association to a position as one of the most powerful labor organizations in the country.

Miller led the fight for free agency and arbitration and focused his efforts on enabling players to receive “market value” for their contributions –  dramatically altering the balance of power (or perhaps finally creating a balance of power) between owners and players.  This, ultimately, changed the shape of the game.  I do think Modern Game Committee voters may be ready to vote him in.  However, late in life, Miller requested not to be included on future Hall of Fame ballots (he had been rejected several times) – quoted as saying “I find myself unwilling to contemplate one more rigged Veterans Committee, whose members are handpicked to reach a particular outcome while  offering the pretese of a democratic vote. “

In not including this game-changing executive in my final four, I chose to recognize Miller’s wishes.

 

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Dale Murphy, OF/1B/C, 1976-93 … Braves, Phillies, Rockies

MurphyDale Murphy is a seven-time All Star, five-time Gold Glover, four-time Silver Slugger honoree and a two-time National League MVP (1982-1983). Overall, Murphy played in 2,180 over 18 seasons, collected 2,111 hits, stroked 398 home runs, drove in 1,266 and stole 161 bases. He also led the NL in home runs twice, RBI twice, total bases once and runs scored once.  These all work in his favor as a candidate for a plaque in Cooperstown.

Working against Murphy, however, is a .265 lifetime average – with only two full seasons at .300 or better and four full campaigns under .250.  His highest total on the traditional BBWAA ballot was 23.2 percent.

Murphy’s career can be divided into two eras: 1) 1982-87 and; 2) the rest of his big league tenure. Murphy was truly a HOF-level player from 1982 to 1987: averaging .289, with 36 home runs, 105 RBI and 19 stolen bases per season and winning his two MVP awards, six of his seven all Star selections, all five of his Gold Gloves and all four of his Silver Slugger Awards during that span.  Now, let’s look at the rest of his career, eliminating those seasons in which he played less than 100 games at the MLB level (his first two and last two MLB seasons). In the remaining eight campaigns, Murphy averaged .247, with 22 home runs, 75 RBI and seven steals. With his .265 average, I believe Murphy would need the boost of at least one other career landmark – like 500 home runs or 1,500 RBI to move past the other position players on the Modern Game ballot.

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Dave Parker, RF, 1973-1991… Pirates, Reds, A’s Brewers, Angels, Blue Jays

ParkerDave “The Cobra” Parker was a player who surely had Game – 19 major league seasons, 2,712 hits; .290 career average; 339 long balls, 1,493 RBI and 154 stolen bases.  His Game also included two NL batting titles, three Gold Gloves, three times leading his league in total bases, and an RBI title.  He also earned points on the Fame scale – seven All Star Selections, the 1978 National League MVP and the 1979 All Star game MVP Award.  Overall, Parker put up nine seasons of 20 or more home runs (three of those 30+); six qualifying seasons with an average of .300 or better; four seasons of 100+ RBI; three seasons of 100+ runs scored; and one campaign of 200 or more base hits.  His best season was 1978, when he won his second consecutive NL batting crown, with a .334 average, hit 30 home runs, drove in 117, scored 102 times, earned a Gold Glove and won the NL MVP Award.  Interestingly (at least to BBRT), none of those 1978 offensive numbers ended up being career highs for The Cobra. All that works in Parker’s favor. Yet, his highest vote total on the traditional ballot was 24.5 percent.

Parker scored negative points on the Character scale – drug-related issues (cocaine) that many believed affected his performance mid-career and put him on the stand (with immunity) in a 1985 federal drug trial.  (Parker and a number of other players ended up avoiding MLB suspension by agreeing to community service, ongoing drug tests and the contribution of 10 percent of their 1986 salaries to programs addressing drug abuse.) Parker also found himself facing legal action by the Pirates who claimed a combination of drug use and weight gain affected his ability to deliver promised performance.

BBRT note: Parker’s performance (and, in turn, his career numbers) were impaired by a series of injuries. In the early 1980’s, Parker had to deal with: knee issues (cartilage removal); a torn Achilles tendon; torn cartilage in his right wrist; and a ruptured ligament in his left thumb.

Despite the Character issues, Parker was my sixth finalist on my way to four votes. Parker’s drug use was not “performance-enhancing” and there is at least some precedence for “forgiveness.”   Hall of Fame Veterans Committee voters forgave Orlando Cepeda for his post-retirement conviction on drug possession charges, and he was inducted into the Hall in 1999.  Cepeda’s number were quite similar to Parker’s: MLB Seasons … Cepeda – 17, Parker – 19; Career Average … Cepeda -.297, Parker – .290; Hits … Parker –  2,712, Cepeda – 2,351; Home Runs … Cepeda – 379, Parker – 339; RBI … Parker – 1,493, Cepeda – 1,365; Runs … Parker – 1,272, Cepeda – 1,131;  Stolen Bases … Parker 154, Cepeda – 142. They each earned an NL MVP Award and Cepeda’s Rookie of the Year Award is probably balanced by Parker advantage in Gold Gloves.

While I would vote Parker in, I don’t believe the Modern Game Committee is ready to forgive and forget. (And, there is also that distinction that Parker’s legal troubles occurred while he was an active player. Cepeda’s issues arose after he retired.)

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Luis Tiant, RHP, 1964-82 … Indians, Twins, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels

TiantI loved to watch Luis Tiant pitch – that unique motion.  I also like to watch/listen to him off the field – that energetic personality and the ever-present cigar.  And, Tiant put up some pretty good numbers –  229 wins (172 losses) and a 3.30 earned run average. Tiant was a 20-game winner four times. He also led the league in earned run average twice – and spectacularly both times (1.60 in 1968 & 1.91 in 1972). In addition, he led his league in shutouts three times and his 49 career whitewashes are 21st in MLB history. With the Red Sox in 1975, Tiant was a post-season hero – pitching a complete-game, three-hit shutout against the A’s in the AL Championship Series and picking up two of the Red Sox three wins against the Reds in the World Series (a complete game shutout in Game One and a complete game 5-4 win in Game Four). Tiant’s best season was 1968, when he went 21-9, with a league-low 1.60 ERA.  Even then, for Tiant, it was a totally “right” season at the “wrong” time.  Denny McClain won the AL Cy Young Award (unanimous selection) with a 31-6, 1.96 mark and, over in the NL, Bob Gibson overshadowed Tiant’s sparkling ERA with a 1.12 earned run average of his own.

Ultimately, Tiant came up short in the traditional HOF balloting (a high of 30.9 percent) and comes up a bit short when the balloting limit for these Modern Game candidates is limited to four votes. Tiant never won a Cy Young Award and was selected to just three All Star teams.  I’m not saying a vote for Tiant would be a misplaced vote, but I believe he needed a handful more wins (say reaching 250) or a Cy Young Award to challenge Jack Morris and Tommy John on this ballot.  An attention-grabbing Game Seven World Series win – or a season or two of leading the league in wins or strikeouts also could have put him over the top. Very simply, with limited voting I expect Tiant will have to wait.

Primary sources: Society for American Baseball Research; Baseball-Reference.com; MLB.com; Baseball Hall of Fame

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2017 Heavy Metal Doubleheader – MLB Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Winners

It’s the MLB awards season and there will be a lot of discussion and debate surrounding the major recognitions like Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year.  (For Baseball Roundtable’s take on the finalists for these honors, click here.)  In this post, I’d like to look at a pair of significant recognitions that tend to garner a little less publicity – the Silver Slugger (for the season’s best offensive performers at each position) and the Gold Glove (for the season’s best defensive performers at each position). If you follow BBRT, you know that I am particularly partial to players that can flash “leather AND lumber.”  So, this post will focus primarily on players who have captured what BBRT terms “MLB’s Heavy Metal Doubleheader” – winning a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove in the same season. You will also find lists of the 2017 Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winners at the end of the post.

Note: The Hillerich and BradsbySilver Slugger Awards were first presented in 1980 (the Rawlings Gold Glove Awards were launched in 1957), so the list of double winners is relatively recent (at least as defined by someone who went to their first World Series game the year the Gold Glove Awards were initiated).

In 2017, four players earned both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger:  Rockies’ 3B Nolan Arenado; Diamondbacks’ 1B Paul Goldschmidt; Royals’ 1B Eric Hosmer; and Marlins’ LF Marcell Ozuna. Let’s take a look at the performance of each of these well-rounded athletes – as well as players who have won a Sliver Sluggers and Gold Glove in the same season in the past.

Nolan Arenado – Third Base, Rockies

Fifth consecutive Gold Glove, third consecutive Silver Slugger, third season with both a Gold Glove and Silver slugger award.

When it comes to flashing leather and lumber, Arenado is the real deal (and also my favorite current MLB player).  This past season was the 26-year-old’s fifth in the major leagues – and he has captured the NL Gold Glove at 3B in every campaign.  This season, he led all 3B in assists (311), put outs (103) and Defensive Runs Saved (20). Arenado also won the heavily statistically-based Fielding Bible Award at third base (only one award per position is presented each year) – his third such recognition – and had the highest rating among third sackers on the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) Defensive Index.

On offense, Arenado earned his third straight Silver Slugger Award by hitting .309, with 37 home runs and 130 RBI (his third straight season of 130 or more runs plated). He also led the NL in doubles with 43. In 2015 and 2016, Arenado led the NL in both home runs and RBI.

Mike Hampton is the only pitcher ever to win a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in the same season (Braves – 2003). Ironically, it was the only National League Gold Glove won by a pitcher other than Greg Maddux between 1990 and 2008.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B Rockies

Third Gold Glove, third Silver Slugger, third season with both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award.

Photo: Arturo Pardavilla III

Photo: Arturo Pardavilla III

Goldschmidt is the heart of the Diamonbacks’ squad. Consider his 2017 Silver Slugger credentials – a .297 average, with 36 home runs, 120 RBI, 117 runs scored; and he even threw in 18 stolen bases.

The 30-year-old Goldschmidt’s quest for “metal” seems an odd one.  His first full season in the major was 2012 (he got in 48 games with the D-backs in 2011). He did not win a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger in 2012 – nor did he capture either of these awards in 2014 or 2016.  However, in the odd-numbered years of 2013-2015-2017, he won them both.   In seven MLB seasons, Golldschmidt has a .299 average, with 176 roundtrippers, 627 RBI and 117 stolen bases.

This past season, in the field, Goldschmidt finsiehd second in putouts among first baseman (1,254), third in assists (103) and second  in Defensive Runs Saved (10).  Goldschjmidt also won the 2017 Fielding Bible Award at first base – his third FBA recognition. Goldschmidt finished second to the Giants’ Brandon Belt at first base on the Society for American Baseball Research Defensive Index.

Ivan Rodriguez (C), Ken Griffey, Jr. (OF) and Barry Bonds (OF) each won the double (Silver Slugger/Gold Glove) crown in a season an MLB-record seven times.

Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals

Fourth Gold Glove, first Silver Slugger, first season with both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award.

Eric Hosmer photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Hosmer played in all 162 games for the Royals in 2017 and earned his first-ever Silver Slugger with a .318 average, 25 home runs, 94 RBI and 98 runs scored. In seven MLB seasons, Hosmer’s offensive line is .284-127-566. In 2017, Hosmer also also picked up his fourth Gold Glove – which did generate some debate. On the season, Hosmer finished fourth among MLB first baseman (second in the AL) with 1235 putouts; ninth in assists (fifth in the AL) with 75, but only 17th in Defensive Runs Saved. Hosmer also finished 21st among all MLB first baseman on the Society for American Baseball Research Defensive Index.

 

 

The Chicago White Sox are the only team to never have a player capture a Silver Slugger Award and Gold Glove in the same season.

Marcell Ozuna, LF, Miami Marlins

First Gold Glove, first Silver Slugger.

Marcell Ozuna photo

Photo by hueytaxi

The 26-year-old Marlins’ outfielder had his best (of seven) MLB seasons in 2017 – hitting .312, with 37 home runs, 124 RBI and 93 runs scored.  In 2017, in fact, Ozuna reached career highs in games, at bats, hits, runs, doubles, home rus and RBI – in the process making his second consecutive  All Star squad.  In the field, Ozuna lead NL left fielders in putouts (305, second in MLB); was second in the NL in LF assists (third among all MLB left fielders) with 10; and led NL LF in Defensive Runs Saved (second overall) with 11. Ozuna led al NL leftfielders in the Society for American Baseball Research Defensive  Index  and finished fouth overall among MLB leftfielders.

 

So, there are your 2017 “Heavy Metal Doubleheader” winners.  Now, here’s an update on those who have won both awards in the same season in the past.  Since 1980, the combination of a Gold Glove/Silver Slugger has been achieved in a season 182 times by 100 different players.  You’ll find a complete list of the players who have earned recognition as the offensive and defensive leader in their respective leagues in the same season later in this post. (I’m also including lists of 2017’s individual Silver Slugger and Gold Glove winners). Since the Silver Slugger is awarded to three outfielders annually regardless of their position (LF, CF, RF), GG/SS combo lists in this post do not break outfielders out by position. First, a few bits of trivia:

  • The fewest GG/SS combo winners in a single season (since 1980) is one – Dodgers’ 1B Adrian Gonzalez in 2014.
  • The most players to achieve the GG/SS combo in a season is nine – back in 1984: Lance Parrish, C, Tigers; Keith Hernandez, 1B, Mets; Eddie Murray, 1B, Orioles; Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs; Lou Whitaker, 2B, Tigers; Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies; Buddy Bell, 3B, Rangers; Dave Winfield, OF, Yankees; Dale Murphy, OF, Braves.
  • Ivan Rodriguez (C) won the SS/GG combo for his position a record six consecutive seasons (1995-1999).
  • Roberto Alomar (2B) is the only player to win the single-season Gold Glove/Silver Slugger combo with three different teams (Blue Jays-1992; Orioles-1996; Indians-1999, 2000)
  • Scott Rolen (3B) is the only player to win the SS/GG combo in a season in which he played for two different teams (2002, Phillies/Cardinals). Rolen was traded from the Phillies to the Cardinals on July 29. He played 100 games for the Phillies and 55 for the Cardinals in what would be his only SS/GG combo season.
  • Adrian Gonzalez (1B) and Matt Williams (3B) are the only players to capture a SS/GG single-season combination in both the AL and NL. Gonzalez – Dodgers-2014; Red Sox-2011. Williams – Indians-1997; Giants-1993-1994.
  • The only team to have three SS/GG winners in the same season is the 1993 Giants (Robby Thompson (2B), Matt Williams (3B), Barry Bonds (OF).
  • Outfielders have achieved the SS/GG combo most often (67 times), but if you factor in the potential to outfielders to achieve three combos each season, second baseman have been most successful, putting up 28 SS/GG seasons.
  • The top team in terms of SS/GG seasons is the Yankees (13); the NL leader is the Rockies (10).

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Full List of Same Year Gold Glove/Silver Slugger Winners by Season

2017

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks

Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlines

2016

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies

Mookie Betts, Of, Red Sox

Salvador Perez, C, Royals

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs

2015

Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks

Dee Gordon, 2B, Marlins

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies

Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants.

2014

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers

2013

Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks

J.J. Hardy, SS, Orioles

Adam Jones, OF, Orioles

2012

Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals

Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees

Chase Headley, 3B, Padres

Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates

2011

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox

Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds

Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies

Jacob Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox

Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers

2010

Joe Mauer, C, Twins

Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals

Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies

Carl Crawford, OF, Rays

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies

2009

Joe Mauer, C, Twins

Mark Tiexiera, 1B, Yankees

Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals

Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees

Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers

Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners

Torii Hunter, OF, Angels

2008

Joe Mauer, C, Twins

Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox

David Wright, 3B, Mets

Grady Sizemore, OF, Indians

2007

Russell Martin, C, Dodgers

Placido Polanco, 2B, Tigers

David Wright, 3B, Mets

Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies

Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets

Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners

2006

Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees

Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets

2005

Jason Veritek, C, Red Sox

Mark Tiexierea, 1B, Rangers

Derrek Lee, 1B, Cubs

Andruw Jones, OF, Braves

2004

Ivan Rodriguez, C, Tigers

Jim Edmonds, OF, Cardinals

2003

Brett Boone, 2B, Mariners

Edgar Renteria, SS, Cardinals

Alex Rodriguez, SS, Rangers

Mike Hampton, P, Braves

2002

Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies

Scott Rolen, 3B, Cardinals/Phillies

Eric Chavez, 3B, A’s

Edgar Renteria, SS, Cardinals

Alex Rodriguez, SS, Rangers

2001

Todd Helton, 1B, Rockies

Ichiro Suzuki, OF, Mariners

2000

Roberto Alomar, 2B, Indians

Darin Erstad, OF, Angels

1999

Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Robert Alomar, 2B, Indians

Larry Walker, OF, Rockies

Ken Griffey, Jr., OF, Mariners

Shawn Green, OF, Blue Jays

1998

Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Rafael Palmeiro, 1B, Rangers

Ken Griffey, Jr. OF, Mariners

1997

Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Craig Biggio, 2B, Astros

Chuck Knoblauch, 2B, Twins

Matt Williams, 3B, Indians

Larry Walker, OF, Rockies

Barry Bonds, OF, Giants

Ken Griffey, Jr, OF, Mariners

1996

Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Roberto Alomar, 2B, Orioles

Ken Caminiti, 3B, Padres

Barry Larkin, SS, Reds

Barry Bonds, OF, Giants

Ken Griffey, Jr. OF, Mariners

1995

Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Craig, Biggio, 2B, Astros

Barry Larkin, SS, Reds

1994

Ivan Rodriguez, C, Rangers

Jeff Bagwell, 1B, Astros

Craig Biggio, 2B, Astros

Matt Williams, 3B, Giants

Wade Boggs, 3B, Yankees

Barry Bonds, OF, Giants

Ken Griffey, Jr., OF, Mariners

1993

Robby Thompson, 2B, Giants

Matt Williams, 3B, Giants

Jay Bell, SS, Pirates

Barry Bonds, OF, Giants

Ken Griffey, Jr, OF, Mariners

1992

Roberto Alomar, 2B, Blue Jays

Larry Walker, OF, Expos

Andy Van Slyke, OF, Pirates

Barry Bonds, OF, Pirates

Kirby Puckett, OF, Twins

1991

Will Clark, 1B, Giants

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Cal Ripken, Jr., SS, Orioles

Barry Bonds, OF, Pirates

Ken Griffey, Jr., OF, Mariners

1990

Benito Santiago, C, Padres

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Kelly Gruber, 3B, Blue Jays

Barry Bonds, OF, Pirates

Ellis Burks, OF, Red Sox

1989

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Eric Davis, OF, Reds

Kirby Puckett, OF, Twins

Tony Gwynn, OF, Padres

1988

Benito Santiago, C, Padres

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Andy Van Slyke, OF, Pirates\

Kirby Puckett, OF, Twins

1987

Don Mattingly, 1B, Yankees

Ozzie Smith, SS, Cardinals

Tony Gwynn, OF, Padres

Eric Davis, OF, Reds

Kirby Puckett, OF, Twins

Andre Dawson, OF, Cubs

1986

Don Mattingly, 1B, Yankees

Frank White, 2B, Royals

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies

Tony Gwynn, OF, Padres

Kirby Puckett, OF, Twins

1985

Don Mattingly, 1B, Yankees

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Lou Whitaker, 2B, Tigers

Tim Wallach, 3B, Expos

George Brett, 3B, Royals

Willie McGee, OF, Cardinals

Dale Murphy, OF, Braves

Dave Winfield, OF, Yankees

1984

Lance Parrish, C, Tigers

Keith Hernandez, 1B, Mets

Eddie Murray, 1B, Orioles

Ryne Sandberg, 2B, Cubs

Lou Whitaker, 2B, Tigers

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies

Buddy Bell, 3B, Rangers

Dave Winfield, OF, Yankees

Dale Murphy, OF, Braves

1983

Lance Parrish, C, Tigers

Eddie Murray, 1B, Orioles

Lou Whitaker, 2B, Tigers

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies

Dale Murphy, OF, Braves

Dave Winfield, OF, Yankees

Andre Dawson, OF, Expos\

1982

Gary Carter, C, Expos

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies

Robin Yount, SS, Brewers

Dale Murphy, OF, Braves

Dave Winfield, OF, Yankees

1981

Gary Carter, C, Expos

Manny Trillo, 2B, Phillies

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies

Andre Dawson, OF, Expos

Rickey Henderson, OF, A’s

Dwight Evans, OF, Red Sox

Dusty Baker, OF, Dodgers

1980

Keith Hernandez, 1B, Cardinals

Cecil Cooper, 1B, Brewers

Andre Dawson, OF, Expos

Willie Wilson, OF, Royals

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Your  Same-Season, Gold Glove/Silver Slugger combo winners listed alphabetically:

Alomar, Roberto … 1992; 1996; 1999; 2000

Altuve, Jose … 2015

Arenado, Nolan … 2015; 2016; 2017

Baker, Dusty … 1981

Bagwell, Jeff … 1994

Bell, Buddy … 1984

Bell, Jay (SS) … 1993

Beltre, Adrian (3B) … 2011

Beltran, Carlos (OF) … 2006; 2007

Biggio, Craig (2B) … 1994; 1995; 1997

Mookie Betts (OF) … 2016

Boggs, Wade (3B) … 1994

Bonds, Barry … 1990; 1991; 1992; 1993; 1994; 1996; 1997

Boone, Brett … 2003

Brett, George … 1985

Burks, Ellis … 1990

Caminiti, Ken … 1996

Cano, Robinson … 2010; 2012

Carter, Gary … 1981; 1982

Chavez, Eric … 2002

Clark, Will … 1991

Cooper, Cecil …1980

Crawford, Brandon … 2015

Crawford, Carl … 2010

Dawson, Andre … 1980; 1981; 1983; 1987

Davis, Eric … 1987; 1989

Edmonds, Jim … 2004

Ellsbury, Jacob … 2011

Erstad, Darin … 2000

Evans, Dwight … 1981

Goldschmidt, Paul … 2013; 2015; 2017

Gonzalez, Adrian … 2011; 2014

Gonzalez, Carlos … 2010

Gordon, Dee … 2015

Green, Shawn … 1999

Griffey, Ken Jr. … 1991; 1993; 1994; 1996; 1997; 1998; 1999

Gruber, Kelly … 1990

Gwynn, Tony … 1986; 1987; 1989

Hampton, Mike … 2003

Hardy, J.J. … 2013

Headley, Chase … 2012

Helton, Todd … 2002

Henderson, Rickey … 1981

Hernandez, Keith … 1980; 1984

Eric Hosmer … 2017

Hunter, Torii … 2009

Jeter, Derek … 2006; 2009

Jones, Adam … 2013

Jones, Andruw … 2005

Kemp, Matt … 2009; 2011

Knoblauch, Chuck … 1997

Larkin, Barry … 1995; 1996

LaRoche, Adam  … 2012

Lee, Derrek … 2005

Martin, Russell … 2008

Mattingly, Don … 1985; 1986; 1987

Mauer, Joe … 2008; 2009; 2010

McCutchen, Andrew … 2012

McGee, Willie … 1985

Molina, Yadier … 2013

Murphy, Dale … 1982; 1083; 1984; 1985

Murray, Eddie … 1983; 1984

Marcell Ozuna … 2017

Palanco, Placido … 2007

Palmeiro, Rafael … 1998

Parrish, Lance … 1983; 1984

Pedroia, Dustin … 2008

Salvador, Perez … 2016

Phillips, Brandon … 2011

Puckett, Kirby … 1986; 1987; 1988; 1989; 1992

Pujols, Albert … 2010

Renteria, Edgar … 2002

Ripken, Cal, Jr. … 1991

Anthony Rizzo … 2016

Rodriguez, Alex … 2002; 2003

Rodriguez, Ivan … 1994; 1995; 1996; 1997; 1998; 1999; 2004

Rolen, Scott … 2002

Rollins, Jimmy … 2007

Sandberg, Ryne … 1984; 1985; 1988; 1989; 1990; 1991

Santiago, Benito … 1988; 1990

Schmidt, Mike … 1981; 1982; 1983; 1984; 1986

Sizemore, Grady … 2008

Smith, Ozzie … 1987

Suzuki, Ichiro … 2001; 2007; 2009

Thompson, Robby … 1993

Tiexiera, Mark … 2005, 2009

Trillo, Manny … 1981

Tulowitzki, Troy … 2010; 2011

Van Slyke, Andy … 1988; 1992

Varitek, Jason … 2005

Walker, Larry … 1992; 1997; 1999

Wallach, Tim … 1985

White, Frank … 1986

Whitaker, Lou … 1983; 1984; 1985

Williams, Matt … 1993; 1994; 1997

Wilson, Willie … 1980

Winfield, Dave … 1982; 1983; 1984; 1985

Wright, David … 2007; 2008

Yount, Robin … 1982

Ryan Zimmerman … 2009

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2017 Silver Slugger Award Winners

Catcher:  Gary Sanchez, Yankees/Buster Posey, Giants

First Base:  Eric Hosmer, Royals/Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks

Second Base: Jose Altuve, Astros/Daniel Murphy, Nationals

Third Base:  Jose Ramirez, Indians/Nolan Arenado, Rockies

Shortstop:  Francisco Lindor, Indians/Corey Seager Dodgers

Outfield:

Aaron Judge, Yankees/George Springer, Astrocs/Justin Upton/Angels

Charlie Blackmon, Rockies/Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, Marcell Ozuna,Marlins

Pitcher:  Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

DH:  Nelson Cruz, Mariners

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2017 Gold Glove Winners

Catcher:  Martin Maldonado, Angels/Tucker Barnhart. Reds

1B:  Eric Hosmer, Royals/Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks

2B:  Brian Dozier, Twins/DJ LeMahieu, Rockies

3B: Evan Longoria, Rays/Nolan Arenado, Rockies

SS:  Andrelton Simmons, Angels/Brandon Crawford, Giants

LF:  Alex Grodon, Royals/Marcell Ozuna, Marlins

CF: Byron Buxton, Twins/Ender Inciarte, Braves

RF:  Mookie Betts, Red Sox/Jason Heyward, Cubs

Pitcher:  Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays/Zack Greinke, Diamondbacks

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BBRT Weighs in on MLB’s Major Awards Finalists

The 2017 MLB major awards finalist have been announced and here’s a look at who Baseball Roundtable thinks will come away with the hardware – as well as who BBRT would select (if I had a vote).

Coming Soon:  Baseball Roundtable’s look at the Modern Era Baseball Hall of Fame ballot – who I think will get in and who BBRT would vote for.  Spoiler Alert: My first vote would go to Ted Simmons.

Now to 2917’s MLB Awards.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

American League …

Finalists: Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros; Aaron Judge, RF, Yankees; Jose Ramirez, 3B, Indians

Prediction: Jose Altuve.  BBRT Pick: Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve photo

Photo by Keith Allison

“You’re killin’ me, Smalls.”  Okay, this one is “Bigs” (6’7”, 282-pound Aaron Judge) versus “Smalls” ( 5’6” 165-pound) Jose Altuve.   Caught in the middle is Indians’ third baseman Jose Ramirez, who had a heck of a season (.318-29-83), but simply fell into the small and large shadows of Altuve and Judge.

Judge finished up at .284, with (an AL-best and new MLB rookie record) 52 home runs and 114 RBI.  Added to his MVP resume are his league-leading numbers in both runs (128) and walks (127). Subtracting from his chances are a league-leading and rookie record 208 strikeouts and a .228 second-half average.

Altuve was the Astros’ spark plug, winning his third batting title in the last five years with a .346 average. He also topped the league in hits with 204 (his fourth straight 200-hit campaign), scored 112 runs, showed solid power for a middle infielder (24 home runs and 81 RBI), stole 32 bases in 38 tries and continued to provide “plus” defense.  From a consistency standpoint, Altuve hit .347 before the break and .344 after the break – and never had a month under .290.  Voters have been waiting to give “Smalls” his MVP due – and this is the year.

National League …

Finalists: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks; Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins; Joey Votto, 1B, Reds

Prediction: Paul Goldschmidt: BBRT Pick: Paul Goldschmidt.

Paul Goldschmidt baseball photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Despite the fact that Joey Votto may have been more valuable to the Reds (.320-36-100) – witness his MLB-leadership in both walks (134) walks and intentional passes (20) – Paul Goldschmidt’s combination of leather (he won his third Gold glove in 2017), lumber (.297-36-120) and unusual speed for a first-sacker (18 stolen bases) gives him the edge over both Votto and Giancarlo Stanton (.281-59-132).

Still, Stanton’s MLB-topping 59 home runs and 132 RBI will sway some voters and this race could be closeer than you might expect.  The fact that both Votto’s Reds and Stanton’s Marlins finished below .500 will work in Goldschmidt’s favor.

 

 

 

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CY YOUNG AWARD

American League …

Finalists: Corey Kluber, Indians; Chris Sale, Red Sox; Luis Severino, Yankees

Prediction: Corey Kluber; BBRT Pick: Corey Kluber, Indians

Corey Kluber photo

Photo by apardavila

The Yankees’ 23-year-old righty Luis Severino picked an unfortunate year to find deliver on his potential – going from 3-8, 5.83 in 2016 to 14-6, 2.98 in 2017.  A solid season, but this is really a two-horse competition – and both were true “horses” for their successful squads.

BBRT’s leans toward the Indians’ Corey Kluber (the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner), whose 18 wins tied for the MLB lead – and whose 2.25 ERA was the lowest among qualifiers. Kluber’s .818 winning percentage (four losses) led the AL (only the Dodgers Alex Wood at 16-3, .842 was better).  He was also second in the AL (third in MLB) in strikeouts (265 in 203 2/3 innings) and tied for the MB lead in complete games (five) and shutouts (three).  All in all, a CYA-worthy season.

Chris Sale’s MLB-leading 308 strikeouts (in just 214 1/3 innings pitched) and gaudy 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings will make this a tight race.  (On the season, Sale had 43 more whiffs than Kluber in just 10 2/3 more innings). Sale finished 17-8, with a 2.90 ERA (behind only Kluber in the AL and sixth in MLB). Working against Sale will be the fact that he tossed only one complete game (after leading the AL with six complete games in 2016) and Kluber’s MLB-low ERA.  (And, remember, back ssues kept Kluber out most of May.)  Clearly, this will be one of the closest votes in the awards season, but Kluber has the edge.

National League …

Finalists: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Max Scherzer, Nationals; Steven Strasburg, Nationals.

Prediction: Clayton Kershaw.  BBRT Pick: Clayton Kershaw.

Photo by SD Dirk

Photo by SD Dirk

Clayton Kershaw – 18-4-2.31; Max Scherzer – 16-6, 2.51; Stephen Strasburg – 15-4, 2.52.  Okay, we need to narrow the field. Strasburg has the fewest wins and the (barely) highest ERA of the three finalists.   One down.

Kershaw tied for the MLB lead in wins (18) in four less starts then Scherzer, who had 16 victories. Then again, Scherzer led the NL in strikeouts at 268 (200 2/3 innings) to Kershaw’s 202 (in 175 innings).  Back at you … Kershaw’s 2.31 ERA led the NL and was second in MLB only to the Indians’ Corey Kluber (2.25). Return serve … Scherzer’s 12.0 strikeouts per nine innings tops Kershaw’s 10.4,

Okay, we’re getting deep into the stat lines now: Kershaw tops Scherzer in winning percentage .818 to .727. Scherzer edges Kershaw in WHIP 0.90 to 0.94. Kershaw had the better strikeouts to walks ratio at 6.7 to 4.9; while Scherzer pitched 200 2/3 innings to Kershaw’s 175.  And we could go on and on. Side note: Both players lost time to injury (late July to early August) – Kershaw to back issues and Scherzer to a neck problem.  So, that too is a “wash.” 

Ultimately, Kershaw put up two more victories in four fewer starts.  That and the fact that two Nationals are among the final three, should give Kershaw s slight edge, but a Scherzer win wouldn’t surprise me.

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ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

American League …

Finalists: Andrew Benintendi, LF, Red Sox; Arron Judge, RF, Yankees; Trey Mancini, LF, Orioles

Prediction: Aaron Judge  BBRT Pick:  Aaron Judge

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

Pre-season, BBRT really liked Andrew Benintendi for this award.  Like so many others, I did not see the Aaron Judge-ernaut coming.   No contest here: Aaron Judge hit  .284, with an AL-leading 128 runs scored, a new rookie record  (and league-leading) 52 home runs and 114 RBI. That peformance puts the AL ROY trophy in Judge’s back pocket.  Just to show how dominant (among rookies) Judge was, he led all MLB rookies in home runs, runs scored, RBI, walks, total bases, on base percentage and slugging percentage.

By the way, the other finalists had fine rookie campaigns, Trey Mancini went .293-24-78 for the Orioles and Benintendi put up a .271-20-90 line with twenty steals for the Red Sox.  But 2017 was easily “The Year of the Judge.”  But how would you like an all-rookie outfield of Mancini, Benintendi and Judge?

 

 

National League …

Finalists: Josh Bell, 1B, Pirates; Cody Bellinger, 1B, Dodgers; Paul DeJong, SS, Cardinals

Prediction: Cody Bellinger  BBRT: Pick: Cody Bellinger

The one should be closer than the AL ROY race, but Bellinger set an NL rookie-season home run record (39) – and his .267-39-97 line should bring him NL Rookie of the Year recognition. (Those 39 long balls would have gotten a lot more attention without Aaron Judge’s 52 rookie blasts in the AL). Bellinger led all NL rookies (and finished second to Judge among MLB rookies) in home runs, RBI and runs scored (87).  I did like Paul DeJong’s .285-25-65 in 108 games) from a middle-infield spot and Josh Bell also reached 26 home runs and 90 RBI, but you can’t ignore the new NL rookie home run record holder.

 

 

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MANAGER OF THE YEAR

American League …

Finalists: Terry Francona, Indians; A.J. Hinch, Astros; Paul Molitor, Twins

Prediction: Terry Francona, Indians.  BBRT Pick: Paul Molitor, Twins

Terry Francona photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Francona’s Indians won an AL-best 102 games and set a new AL- record with a 22-game winning streak. That streak, the 100-plus wins, an MLB-leading +251 run differential and a Central Division title will likely bring the Manager of the Year Award to Terry Francona.  Still, you have to consider that  A.J. Hinch’s Astros had only one less victory – scored an MLB-best 896 runs and combined MLB’s second-best home run total (238) with major league’s fewest batter strikeouts (1,087). (By contrast, the Yankees led MLB with just three more home runs than the Astros, but racked up 299 more whiffs.) A close race, but BBRT thinks Francona will edge Hinch, with voters acknowledging that winning streak.

From BBRT’s perspective (remember, I am from Minnesota), the fact that Paul Molitor brought the Twins’ home in a Wild Card spot  (one of only five AL teams over .500), with a 26-game improvement in the W-L column is worthy of consideration.  When you further consider he brought the team to the post season even after the front office went from “buyers” to “sellers” at the trade deadline – and despite a suspect pitching staff (the Twins’ staff  ERA was the highest of any team that made the post season) and the loss of key offensive force Miguel Sano)  – my vote would go to the Twin’s skipper.

National League …

Finalists:  Bud Black, Rockies; Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks; Dave Roberts, Dodgers

Prediction: Torey Lovullo, Diamondbacks  BBRT Pick: Torey Luvullo, Diamondbacks

Torey Lovullo photo

Photo by Keith Allison

This race features a trio of deserving candidates.  Roberts led the Dodgers to the best record in baseball this past season (104-58), finished 11 games up on the second-place Diamondbacks, logged the NL’s best run differential (+219) and MLB’s best team ERA  – despite missing ace Clayton Kershaw for a chunk of the season. Not only that, he did it in arguably MLB’s toughest division  (both NL Wild Cards came from the West).  Even all that may not be enough to gain him Manager of the Year.

Torey Lovullo, led the Diamondbacks to a 24-game improvement (69-93 to 93-60), thanks in a significant part to Paul Goldschmidt’s MVP-caliber season and the addition of J.D.Martinez’ hot bat. Lovullo and his staff also helped bring the Diamondbacks forward from 2016’s NL-worst 5.09 ERA to 2017’s NL second-best 3.66.

Bud Black is also a strong candidate, bringing the Rockies home in a Wild Card sport (87-65 – a 12-win improvement over 2016).  Black did it despite relying n on a startying rotation that featured a quartet of rookies (Kyle Freeland, German Marquez, Jeff Holman and Antonio Senzatela). Ultimately, however, this looks like a contest between Roberts and his West Division crown and Lovullo and his 24-game improvement.  I think voters will consider that the Dodgers were coming off a 2016 division title (with MLB’s largest Opening Day 2017 payroll), and give Manager of the Year to Lovullo’s in a very close contest.

Roy Halladay – Fierce Competitor, Tireless Worker, True Gentleman

Two-time Cy Young Award winner (2003 & 2010) Roy Halladay – known as a hard worker, gritty competitor and great teamate – died tragically in a small plane crash on November 7. Halladay was just 40-years-old. Halladay was an eight time All Star and three-time 20-game winner (in 16 MLB seasons). He twice led his league in wins (2003 for the Blue Jays and 2010 for the Phillies); topped his circuit in complete games seven times; and led his league in innings pitched and shutouts four times each.  Halladay pitched a perfect game on May 29, 2010 and a no-hitter in Game One of the 2010 National League Division Series. His final MLB line was 203-105, 3.38; with 2,117 strikeours (versus just 592 walks) in 2,749 1/3 innings.  Former Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may have best summed up the character of Roy Halladay when told ESPN: “He was the single most accountable, conscientious, hard-working, dedicated player, I’ve ever been around. He was the most competitive on the mound and yet the kindest, gentlest person off the mound that you could imagine.”  Halladay was a credit to the national pastime and will be greatly missed.

 

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It’s MLB Speculation Season – To Warm Up, a Look at Six of MLB’s Worst Trades

Well, sadly, the baseball seasons is over – congratulations Astros!  We will soon be in the trading season (we are already in the speculation season).  With that in mind, Baseball Roundtable would like to dedicate this post to what BBRT sees as the half dozen worst MLB trades of all time (or, if you look at it from the other side, the six best).  Surprisingly (or maybe not), five of the six involved future Hall of Famers.

 

  1. Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees (January 1920) – for $125,000 and a $300,000 loan (reportedly to fund a Broadway show)

RuthOkay, so technically this was a sale and not a trade.  It’s still has to be here as the worst front-office move ever.

The Red Sox were moving a player who had gone 89-46 with a 2.19 ERA over six seasons in Boston. As a pitcher, Ruth was a two-time twenty-plus game winner and had led the AL in ERA, games started, complete games and shutouts once each. Not only that, he had led the American League in home runs in his last two seasons (1918-19) with the Red Sox; while going 22-12 on the mound.  His last year with Boston, Ruth hit .322 and led the AL in runs (103), RBI (113) and set a new single-season home run record (29). The final straw? Ruth was just 25-years-old.

The Red Sox sale ranks at the top because it involved the “biggest name” in the game – and the Red Sox were fully aware of what they had (and what they were giving up) and received no on-the field return.

In Ruth’s first season as a Yankee (1920), he hit .376 and obliterated his own single-season HR record with 54 long balls – out-homering every other team in the AL (the Red Sox logged 22 round trippers without Ruth) and all but one team in the NL. That season, Ruth also led the AL in runs (158); RBI (135); and walks (150).

For their $125,000, the Yankees ended up getting 15 seasons of “Ruthian” production – a .349 average, 659 (of his 714) home runs, 1,978 RBI. During his NY tenure, the Babe won ten home run titles, four times led the league in RBI, seven times topped the AL in runs scored and picked up the 1923 MVP Award.  Ruth was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the 1936 inaugural class. As the number-one bad front-office move, this one’s a no-doubter.

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  1. Christy Mathewson from the Reds to the Giants (December 1990) … for Amos Rusie

MathewsonChristy Mathewson got off to an unusual start – and was almost the Giants’ Hall of Famer that got away. In 1900, as a 19-year-old, Mathewson was tearing up the Class D Virginia-Carolina League running up a 20-2 record by mid-July.  The New York Giants noticed, signing him and bringing the teenager up to the big club. For the Giants, Mathewson went 0-3, with a 5.08 ERA – leading the New York club to send him back to Norfolk (asking for their money back).   The Reds picked up Mathewson in the off season for $100 and –  here comes the trade – sent him back to the Giants for veteran hurler Amos Rusie.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Mathewson pitched 16 more seasons for the Giants and ended up winning 372 games (188 losses) with a 2.13 ERA for New York. (He added one win, ironically, for the Reds in his last season (1916). Mathewson won 20 or more games in a season 13 times (30+ four times), led the league in ERA five times, in strikeouts five times and in shutouts four times. The Big six was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

The Christy Mathewson for Amos Rusie trade ranks right up there with the Babe Ruth sale. After all, Mathewson won 372 games for his new team, while Rusie went 0-1, 8.59 for his career after the trade (he had 246 MLB wins before the transaction). The Ruth trade gets an edge because, the move came at a time when The Babe was “peaking,” while the Mathewson/Rusie deal involved a player with potential for one the down side of a Hall of Fame career.

What did the Reds get in return?  Rusie – known as The Hoosier Thunderbolt – was a nine-season MLB veteran with 246 MLB wins (174 losses) under his belt at the time of the trade. He had won 20 or more games in all seven of his seasons with the Giants (30+ four times), had led the NL in strikeouts five times and would eventually be elected to the Hall of Fame. However, Rusie (who had suffered an arm injury in 1898) had been out of baseball for two years.  Attempting a comeback, he pitched just three games for Cincinnati – going 0-1, 8.59 – before retiring. Overall, the Giants came out 372 wins to the good on this transaction – number-two on BBRT’s worse trade list.

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  1. Nolan Ryan from the Mets to Angels (December 1971) – for Jim Fregosi

RyanOkay, so maybe the Mets didn’t know what they had in Ryan. After all, he was 10-14, 3.97 the year before the trade – and Fregosi was a six-time All Star shortstop. Still, Fregosi was coming off a season when he had hit just .233-5-33 in 107 games.  What adds insult to injury on this move is that – in order to get Fregosi – the Mets also sent the Angels pitching prospect Don Rose, catcher Frank Estrada, as well as outfielder Leroy Stanton.  (Rose went 1-4, 4.22 for the Angels in 1972 and 1-4, 4.14 in three MLB seasons; Estrada had two major league at bats with the Mets in 1971 and never played in the majors again, and Stanton played five seasons for the Angels – hitting .247, with 47 home runs, 242 RBI and 35 stolen bases, numbers which exceeded Fregosi’s production for the Mets.)

Nolan Ryan had zero All Star selections before the trade and eight after the trade. Jim Fregosi was a six-time All Star before the trade and did not make another All Star squad.

Ryan, who had gone 29-38, 3.58 in five Mets’ seasons, blossomed with the Angels.  In his first year in California (1972), he was an AL All Star – going 19-16, 2.28 and leading the league in strikeouts with 329 and shutouts with nine. He spent eight seasons with the Angels, and was a five-time All Star and two-time 20-game winner during that period.  He logged 138 of his ultimate 324 MLB wins in an Angels’ uniform. (His line with the Angels was 138-121, 3.07.) He also led the AL in strikeouts seven times in his eight Angels’ seasons, topping 300 whiffs five times. Ryan notched 2,416 of his MLB-record 5,714 strikeouts and four of his record seven no-hitters as an Angel. He achieved free agency after the 1979 season and left the Angels for the Astros. But clearly, the Halos got plenty of mileage out of this ultimately Hall of Famer (inducted 1999) after the Fregosi trade.

How did the Mets’ fare? Fregosi faced some injury issues and, in his first year as a Met (primarily playing 3B), hit .232-5-32 in 101 games – remarkably similar to his previous season with the Angels. He was on the same track in 1973, hitting .234-0-11 in 45 Mets’ contests before being sold to the Rangers on July 11 of that season.  Fregosi finished an 18-season MLB career in 1978 with a career .265 average, 151 home runs and 706 RBI.

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  1. Lou Brock (along with Jack Spring and Paul Toth) from the Cubs to the Cardinals (June 1964) – for Ernie Broglio, Bobby Shantz and Doug Clemens

BrockFirst a look at the two principal in the trade – Lou Brock and Ernie Broglio.

The 25-year-old Brock was in his fourth season with the Cubs at the time of the trade – and was hitting .251, with two home runs, 14 RBI and ten stolen bases (52 games). The previous year, he appeared to have broken out, going .315-14-58 (with 43 steals for the Cubs). Still his .251 average seemed more in line with his .263 and .258 averages in his first two Cubs’ campaigns.

Broglio was a veteran pitcher – at age 28, in his sixth major league season. He had been a 21-game winner in 1960 and an 18-game winner the season before the trade (18-8, 2.99 for the Cardinals in 1963). At the time of the trade, he was 3-5, 3.50 in 11 starts.

Brock went on to play 16 seasons (including 1964) with the Cardinals, hitting a healthy .297, with 149 home runs and 900 RBI. He also swiped 938 bases – leading the league in steals eight times, with a high of 118 in 1974. He was a six-time All Star for Saint Louis and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985. Broglio was with the Cubs until 1966, winning just seven games (losing 19) with a 5.40 ERA.  Clearly, advantage Cardinals.

In 1968, 29-year-old Lou Brock in the fifth of 16 seasons with the Cardinals, led the NL with 46 doubles, 14 triples and 62 stolen bases. In 1968, 32-year-old Ernie Broglio was out of the major league. Following the trade for Brock, he won just seven more MLB games (19 losses).

But what about the others in the trade?

Going with Brock to the Cardinals were southpaw Jack Spring (a journeyman who had started the season with the Angels and was 0-0, 6.00 with the Cubs) and RHP Paul Toth (in his third, and final MLB season), who was 0-2, 8.44 at the time of the trade.  Spring pitched in just two games for the Cardinals in 1963 (three innings). His final MLB season was 1965 (1-2, 3.74 for the Indians) – and he was 12-5, 3.74 for seven teams in eight MLB seasons. Toth did not pitch in the majors again after the trade and finished his MLB career at 9-12, 3.80 in three seasons.

Along with Broglio, the Cardinals sent veteran (38-year-old) southpaw Bobby Shantz – a former MVP, for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1952. Shantz was winding down his career as a reliever and was 1-3, 3.12 at the time of the transaction. Also included in the deal was outfielder Doug Clemens hitting .205-1-9 at the time of the deal. Shantz went 0-1, 5.56 for the Cubs (20 games) before being sold to the Phillies in mid-August. He went 1-1, 2.25 for the Phillies and retired after the 1964 season. Clemens did pay some dividends. After the trade, he hit .279, with two home runs and 12 RBI in 54 games for the Cubs.  He then hit .221-4-26 in 128 games in 1965. He was traded to the Phillies for Wes Covington before the 1966 season. Covington got in just nine games for the Cubs before he was released. Clearly, this was a “Two-B” trade – Brock for Broglio – and if the Cubs had seen what was to be, they would probably have hung on to Brock.

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  1. Dennis Eckersley from the Cubs to the A’s (April 1987) – for David Wilder, Brian Guinn, Mark Leonette

EckThis was a trade that was made to look awfully good, thanks to the insight of the coaching staff.  After the 1986 season, the future of the 31-year-old Eckersley seemed questionable. In 1986, the former 20-game winner (20-8, 1978) –  in his twelfth MLB season and third season with the Cubs – faced a bout with shoulder tendinitis and put up a disappointing 6-11 record, with  a 4.67 ERA. The Cubs showed little patience, but perhaps they should have. Eckersley’s career MLB record at the time was 151-128, 3.67 (376 games/359 starts) and he’d been a respectable 11-7, 3.08 in 1985. Even in 1986, he had pitched 200+ innings, given up the fewest walks per nine innings among NL starters and put up a 3.19 strikeouts-to-walks ratio. Regardless, Eckersley was sent off to Oakland in a trade for three minor leaguers: outfielder Dave Wilder (who hit .301 at AA in 1986); SS/2B Brian Guinn (.277-5-64 at AA/AAA in 1986); and RHP Mark Leonette (6-4, 3.78 at AA in 1986).  The return on “Eck” wasn’t exactly overwhelming – none of the three ever played in the major leagues.

Initially, Eckersley’s role in Oakland was not overly promising. He was relegated to the bullpen, although he did get two starts in May – pitching 11 2/3 innings, giving up nine runs and taking two losses. Then, an arm injury to Oakland’s Jay Howell left an opening for a closer – and the A’s staff saw potential in the Eckersley combination of grit and control.  They moved him into the closer’s role – and Eckersley’s career we revitalized at age 32. Eckersley saved 16 games in the last half of 1987 – and never looked back.  He led the AL in saves with 45 in 1988.

Dennis Eckersley’s 320 saves gave Oakland a pretty good return on three minor leaguers who did not play in the majors.

Eckersely pitched for the A’s from 1987 through 1995, notching 320 saves, a 2.74 ERA and 658 strikeouts (versus just 92 walks) in 637 innings.  He was an All Star four times with Oakland. In 1992, he went 7-1, with a league-leading 51 saves and a 1.91 ERA – winning both the Cy Young Award and AL MVP honors. In February of 1996, the A’s traded Eckersley to the Cardinals for reliever Steve Montgomery – a bad trade of their own, since Montgomery pitched  in just 12 games for the A’s (1996-97), going 1-1 with an ERA north of 9.00, while Eckersley saved 66 games in the next two seasons for the Cardinals

Eckersley retired in 1998, with a career record of 197-171, with 390 saves and a 3.50 ERA. That earned him induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame (2004).

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  1. George Foster from the Giants to the Reds (May 1971) – for Frank Duffy and Vern Geishert

fosterHere’s a trade the paid great dividends, thanks in part to the patience of the Cincinnati Reds’ organization.

George Foster came up with the Giants for the proverbial “cup of coffee” in 1969 (as a 20-year-old) and 1971 – getting into 18 games and hitting .333, with one home run and four RBI. (In 1970, he was .308-8-66 in 114 games as Triple A.) Foster started slowly for the Giants in 1971 – hitting .267, with three home runs and eight RBI in 36 games before being traded to the Reds in May. In 104 games for the Reds that season, he hit .234 with 10 home runs, 50 RBI and seven steals. In 1972, Foster played just 59 games for the Reds – going .200-2-12.  He split the following year between Cincinnati and the Triple A Indianapolis Indians – where he started to show a little pop (15 home runs in 134 games at AAA).  In 1974, Foster was still developing, going .264-7-41 in 106 games for the Reds.  It was in 1975 that the patience of the Reds – and this trade – began to pay off. From 1975-81, Foster was an All Star five times, hitting .297, with 221 home runs and 749 RBI over that span. In those seven seasons, he led the league in home runs twice (a high of 52 in 1977), RBI three times and runs scored once.  He was an integral part of the Big Red Machine – and won the NL MVP Award in 1977 (.320-52-149).

Hard to fault the Giants for not seeing Foster’s full potential. He didn’t make his first All Star team until his sixth season with the Reds. From 1971-74, Foster’s first four campiagns with the Reds, he played in 286 games for Cincinnati, hitting .247, with 23 home runs and 143 RBI. In 1977 alone, he topped his 1971-74 Reds’ totals in hits, runs scored, home runs and RBI. (1971: .320-59-149, with 197 hits and 124 runs scored.)

The return for the Giants? Frank Duffy had just 19 games in the MLB (for the Reds) at the time of the trade, with a .185 average.  He played in just 21 games for the Giants in 1971, hitting 179. After the season, Duffy was part of another major trade, getting sent to the Indians (along with Gaylord Perry) for veteran pitcher Sam McDowell. McDowell pitched part of two season for the Giants, going 11-10, 4.36. Geishert was a right-headed pitcher who had seen action for the Angels in 11 games in 1969 (1-1. 4.65). He did not appear in the major leagues again.  Side note: Duffy actually went on to a ten-year MLB career (six years with the Indians) as a slick-fielding shortstop (he hit just .232 in 915 MLB games)

Primary resources: Society for American Baseball Research; Baseball-Almanac.com; Baseball-Reference.com

 

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Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum

A Unique Place in MLB History – Well, That Didn’t Last Long

With the post-season nearly at a close, it’s time for the next Baseball Roundtable Facebook (fan) Page Bobblehead Giveaway – as well as a bit of MLB trivia to pass the time until tonight’s Game Five first pitch.  Note:  So far this season, BBRT has given away Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Harmon Killebrew and Miguel Sano “bobblers.” Check the end of this post for the next pair of giveaways.

At the conclusion of the 2008 MLB season, there had been 241 instances of MLB switch hitters bashing home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game. Yet, in more than 130 years of MLB history (1876-2008), no player had ever accomplished the feat on Opening Day.

The "one and only" - at least for an inning - Felipe Lopez.

The “one and only” – at least for an inning – Felipe Lopez.

Then, on Opening Day (April 6) 2009, as the Diamondbacks faced off against the Rockies in Arizona, Diamondbacks’ second baseman and leadoff hitter Felipe Lopez opened the bottom of the first with a home run to left (hit left-handed) on a 1-1 pitch off right-handed Rockies’ starter Aaron Cook – starting Lopez’ season with a bang and giving the D-backs an early 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, Lopez found himself again leading off an inning – this time with Arizona trailing 6-4.  Lopez was facing southpaw reliever Glendon Rusch. Batting from the right-side, Lopez took a 1-0 Rusch offering deep to center field, becoming the first MLB player to homer from both sides of the plate on Opening Day – a feat more than 100 seasons in the making.

How long did Lopez hold his unique position in the MLB record books? Final Answer – just one inning. In the bottom of the third, the D-backs’ switch-hitting first baseman Tony Clark had hammered a two-run homer to right-center off Cook. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Clark (like Lopez) came up against lefty Rusch – with the bases empty, one out and the score knotted at seven apiece. Clark took Rusch out of the park to center (a 1-1 pitch), joining Lopez as one of just TWO players to homer from both sides of the plate in an Opening Day game.  Somewhat ironically, Lopez and Clark would hit a combined total of only 13 home runs in 2009 – and, by the end of July, neither player would be on the Diamondbacks’ roster – Lopez traded to the Brewers and Clark released. (Oh yes, the D-backs won that Opening day contest 9-8.)

Note: Lopez ended the 2009 season with a .310-9-57 stat line; while Clark finished the year at .182-4-11. 

Yasmani grandal photo

Photo by apardavila

For those who track such things, a third player has since belted home runs from both sides of the plate on Opening Day. On April 3 of this season, as the Dodgers opened the season by trouncing the Padres 14-3, LA catcher Yasmani Grandal hit a solo home run (left-handed) off Padres’ starter Jhoulys Chacin in the bottom of the third and a solo shot (right-handed) off southpaw Jose Torres in the eighth. Grandal ended the season at .247-22-58.  It was the third time Grandal homered from both sides of the plate in a game in his career.

 

 

 

Some additi0nal facts about hitting home runs from both sides of the plate:

  • The first recorded instance of an MLB player homering from both sides of the plate in one game goes to Philadelphia Athletics’ outfielder Wally Schange in an Athletics’ 8-2 victory over the Yankees on September 8, 1916.
  • Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher share the record for most games with home runs from both sides of the plate at 14.
  • Nine players achieved the feat of homering from both sides of the plate in a game in 2017 – with the Indians’ Jose Ramirtez and Carlos Santana accomplishing the feat a combined five times:   Freddy Galvis (Phillies); Marwin Gonzalez (Astros); Yasmani Grandal (Dodgers);  Aaron Hicks (Yankees); Francisco Lindor (Indians); Kendrys Morales (Blue Jays); Jorge Polanco (Twins); Jose Ramirez (Indians), three times; Carlos Santana (Indians) twice.
  • The record for hitting home runs from both sides of the plate in a game in a season is four – Ken Caminiti (Padres, 1996).
  • Three players have hit home runs from both sides of the plate in a single inning: Carlos Baerga (Indians – April 8, 1993); Mark Bellhorn (Cubs – August 29, 2002); Kendrys Morales (Angels – July 30, 2012).
  • 1996 saw an MLB-record 15 instances of a player homering from the both sides of the plate in a game:  Roberto Alomar (Orioles) twice; Ken Caminiti (Padres) four times; Raul Casanova (Tigers) twice; Chili Davis (Angels); Todd Hundley (Mets) twice; Melvin Nieves (Tigers); Ruben Sierra (Yankees);  J.T. Snow (Angels); Bernie Williams (Yankees).
  • Two players have homered from both sides of the plate in a game with five different teams: Carlos Beltran (Mets, Cardinals, Royals, Astros, Yankees); Nick Swisher (A’s, Yankees, White Sox, Indians, Braves).

Primary Resources: Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com; ESPN.com; Society for American Baseball Research.

NIck Swisher photo

NICK SWISHER … ironic name for a player who earned a spot in the record books on the basis of home run power.  Photo by Keith Allison

                                        BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE FACEBOOK BOBBLEHEAD GIVEAWAY

TorreIt’s time for another BBRT Facebook bobblehead giveaway.  So far this season, we’ve given away bobbleheads of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Harmon Killebrew and Miguel Sano.  This time it’s the Hormel/Land O Lakes bobbleheads of Roger Clemens and Joe Torre.  We’ll select a random winner from those who Follow/Like the Baseball Roundtable Facebook page … click here to reach the page.  The drawing will take place shortly after the World Series concludes.

 

 

 

 

 

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