Friday, May 17, 2019

The Case for Justin Verlander 5/17/19

Hey baseball fans!

I'm officially done with sophomore year of college! In honor of this, it's time I tackle a subject that has been debated by myself, my friends, and my family for as long as I can remember: pitching Hall of Fame legitimacy. And which pitcher will I be using to demonstrate this legitimacy? Justin Verlander, of course!

Unlike the 3,000 hit cub and the 500 home run club, which are filled with hitters from across baseball's storied timeline, certain pitching clubs have been pretty exclusive for quite some time. The best examples of this is the 400-wins club and the sub-2.00 ERA club, which haven't been touched in almost a century. That being said, however, there are pitchers who have been elected into the Hall of Fame over the past 100 years (surprising, I know) based on other benchmarks. Yes, I could go into the advanced pitching statistics, but you know I love going back to the basics.

Winning 300 games is an automatic Hall of Fame bid, but so is 250 and 200 wins, depending on the era and competition. The same thing goes with an ERA lower than 3.00, 3.5, and even 3.75. It honestly depends on the pitcher, but combining some Hall of Fame pitchers' statistics gets you to Justin Verlander's numbers, including his mid-career slump and his late-career resurgence. For a direct visual of JV's stats, click here.

Roy Halladay's Win Total
Halladay will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame this July and it was no shock that he got the required 75% for induction. He totaled 203 wins during his 16-year career and a winning percentage of .659. The key number there is really "16." Halladay topped 200 career wins in his final season, but Justin Verlander already has 200+ career wins (211 to be exact) and he's only played 15 years. Of course, wins is a very controversial statistic at the moment, but you can't deny the validity that the stat still provides. On top of this, Verlander is likely to climb the wins and quality starts leaderboard even more before he retires.

Mike Mussina's ERA
Mussina was the second pitcher elected into the Hall via the BBWAA this past January, but his election was met with skepticism. A lot of people didn't want him in the Hall because of his 3.68 ERA. The people who did want him in the Hall contended that he faced an extremely tough AL East division throughout his entire career. I admittedly was a part of the former group, but Mussina's in the Hall. Verlander's career ERA is a solid 3.37, which also puts him ahead of Halladay (3.38), who pitched in the same era as Verlander and also faced a tough AL East for a majority of his career. Verlander's divisional opponents haven't been as great as that of Mussina or Halladay, but a 3.37 ERA is objectively good, plain and simple.

Other Accolades
Verlander is a two-time AL wins leader and a seven-time All Star and he was also an MVP! Additionally, he's on his way to 3,000 career strikeouts, which is an achievement that not even 20 pitchers in baseball history have reached. There are also the intangibles. I bet you that guys like Joe Mauer and Paul Konerko, two borderline Hall of Famers, will tell you that Verlander was one of the best pitchers they ever faced.

In conclusion, there is no single benchmark for pitchers, which is why I don't acknowledge a pitching precedent, unlike I do for hitting. Again, you can get into the more new-age stuff to determine precedence, but I consider the situation to be a case-by-case basis, which makes Verlander a Hall of Famer, even if he retired right at this moment. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Baseball Team Name Vocabulary 5/1/19

Hey baseball fans!

You may not realize it, but some MLB team names aren't in the average person's vernacular. So, for everyone who falls under this category, this post is for you.

Team Name: Yankees
Meaning: Either someone from the Northeastern United States or a soldier for the Union during the Civil War.

Team Name: Orioles
Meaning: It's an orange and black bird that happens to be Maryland's state bird. This is more of an "I don't know this bird species" situation rather than a specific definition, but still.

Team Name: Mariners
Definition: A sailor. You can remember it by looking at the root of the word, which is "marine."

Team Name: Mets
Definition: "Met" is short for metropolitan, which refers to an urban area.

Team Name: Marlins
Definition: Another "oriole" situation, a marlin is a fish native to the Caribbean. The name comes from a tool used by mariners (yes, I did mean to use that synonym for sailor) called a marlinspike.

Team Name: Diamondbacks
Meaning: It's full name is the Western diamondback rattlesnake, a snake native to Arizona.

Team Name: Padres
Meaning: I saved the most archaic team name for last. The Padres are named for the Spanish Franciscan friars who founded San Diego in 1769. "Padre" is the Spanish word for the priestly title of "father."

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Which Retro Uniforms Are So Bad, They're Good? 4/21/19

Hey baseball fans!

Colin Cowherd recently had a list of his least favorite uniforms of all time, but the list included some baseball uniforms that most definitely did not belong on that type of list. With that, here are five of my favorite uniforms of the past that are objectively pretty ugly, but also the best.

Number One: The Padres' Mustard Yellows
A lot of people say that this uniform is one of the grossest in baseball history, but it's a very nice reminder for Padres fans, as they actually made it to their first World Series in franchise history in 1984 while wearing these condiment-themed uniforms. Couple the mustard yellow with the brown and orange and you have yourself one of the most "throwback-iest" throwbacks in baseball history.

 Number Two: The Astros' Rainbow Look
I actually have zero problem with these 1975-1986 jerseys. I think they're very unique and were a major statement during a time when fashion itself was changing across the United States. When the current Astros wear the rainbows, I always smile a little.

Number Three: The Shorts Experiment
The White Sox wore shorts and collared shirts during games in the middle of August in 1976, thanks to the genius mind of their always-creative owner, Bill Veeck. However, after the ChiSox realized they weren't playing soccer, they switched back to the standard pants look.

Number Four: The Ray's "Faux-backs"
Ok, so this isn't really a retro uniform, but it's still amazing. Because the Rays didn't debut until 1998, they never wore one of those funky uniforms of the latter half of the 20th century. This inspired the Rays to create fake throwbacks, an amazing marketing idea for a team that lacks in attendance.

Number Five: The Brewers' Powder Blues
This should just be their regular uniforms. Coupled with the glove logo, which conveniently is made up of an "M" and a "B," this uniform is one of the classiest of the famed powder blue uniforms of about 40-50 years ago. Please, Milwaukee, bring back this awesome look as the default uniform.

Which retro uniform do you think is the best? Let me know in the comments down below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Mike Trout vs. Babe Ruth: Who's Better? 4/14/19

Hey baseball fans!

I recently read an article discussing Mike Trout's hot start and whenever any article brings up this topic, the "Trout versus Babe Ruth" comparison is always insinuated. Now, as some of you might remember, I called Ruth the best hitter of all time in my "Top 50 Hall of Fame Hitters" series I did over the summer. So of course, I have to defend the Bambino and will be doing so in this post.

The main point of comparison between these two amazing hitters is always wins above replacement, a controversial, yet definitely important statistic to value a player's skills in proportion to his overall team's play. For example, Mike Trout's WAR as of Monday, according to FanGraphs, was 1.2, meaning that because Trout is in the lineup, the Angels had won 1.2 games more games than they would've if he wasn't in the lineup. Trout is famous for having insane WAR seasons, but there's something that is worth bringing up about this new-age stat: wins above replacement is a good indicator of who is deserving of the MVP award, but doesn't always designate who is the best at hitting.

Call my opinions out-dated, but hear me out. Baseball Hall of Fame legitimacy relies on three core statistical percentages, among other stats, which are batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage. These numbers are incredibly important, specifically in that order. My explanation for this ranking is as follows. If I, Matt Nadel, a 5-foot-6, 135lb 20-year-old, were to have 100 Major League plate appearances and was not allowed to swing at all, I would still probably have a fine OBP. Of course patience is important when it comes to batting, but comparably, slugging percentage and batting average are much more important in determining a hitter's skill. These two stats are where Ruth really stands out compared to Trout. Babe Ruth is the all-time leader in career slugging percentage at .690. Mike Trout's slugging percentage at the moment is a "measly" .576. It's really not a bad slugging percentage, but this comparison really just means that no one, and I mean no one, could hit the ball as hard or as far as Babe Ruth. Sure, he was hitting at Yankee Stadium, where right field is notoriously short, but that's where batting average comes into play.

Babe Ruth batted .342 for his career. Hank Aaron batted .305. Barry Bonds batted .298. Mike Trout's career batting average is currently .307. I am well-aware that baseball was quite different back when Ruth played, but you do not win the MVP award if you have a bad batting average. Seriously, look at the MVP winners of the past. Almost every single MVP has a good batting average or has a better batting average than their lifetime one. This may be an extreme coincidence, but especially during a time when batting averages are down across baseball, batting average has been, is, and will always be king. Aaron, Bonds, and Trout can almost go toe-to-toe with Ruth on OBP and slugging, but it's the batting average that makes Ruth stand out.

Oh, and did I mention that Babe Ruth is the all-time WAR leader at 182.4? Yeah, stop with the "Trout vs. Ruth" comparison. Of course Trout's the best hitter in baseball at the moment, but your arguments have been moot for almost 100 years, because without Ruth's revolutionary hitting, there would be no Mike Trout. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Case for Nick Markakis 4/6/19

Hey baseball fans!

I've been very into these "The Case For" blogposts recently, so I'm pumping out another one! Nick Markakis has always been a prolific hitter and is set on a path that's headed straight for Cooperstown, despite only making his first All Star Game last year. Why is he so worthy of the Hall of Fame, you ask? Let me answer that question with some classic Baseball with Matt Hall of Fame precedence.

All Star Games do and don't matter for Hall of Fame consideration. Joe DiMaggio made an All Star Game every single year he played in the MLB, which, due to him only playing for 13 years, arguably pushed him over the edge for Hall of Fame consideration. Jim Thome, on the other hand, only made five All Star Games in 22 years, but is in the Hall of Fame for his 612 career home runs. Markakis definitely falls more under the Thome category rather than DiMaggio's at this current moment for being a player who excels at hitting without the deserving midsummer recognition.

But is Markakis's consistent hitting really comparable to Jim Thome's power? Realistically, probably not, considering 612 home runs is, to put it plainly, insane. However, Markakis's stats are nothing to insult. In just 13 years (excluding 2019), Markakis has 2,237 hits and a .288 batting average. Those averages equal to 172 hits per season, which puts him on track for 3,000 hits towards the middle of his 17th season. As long as he can keep up that pace to reach 3,000, he will be a Hall of Famer. I'm aware that you're tired of hearing this from me, but remember: 3,000 hits is an automatic ticket to Cooperstown.

But here's where things get interesting. Will Markakis's lifetime batting average affect his ability to get into the Hall on his first try? The best comparison for this question would have to be Craig Biggio, who totaled 3,060 career hits (and only seven All Star Games in 20 years), but it took him three years on the BBWAA ballots to get in. Biggio's delayed induction could've been due to steroid skeptics, but it was most likely due to his .281 batting average, the third-lowest batting average out of the members of the 3,000 hit club. However, the hitters who are number one and two, Cal Ripken Jr. and Rickey Henderson, both had other reasons for their Hall of Fame legitimacy and both received voting percentages of over 90% on their first time on the ballot.

Whether it takes one year or ten, Nick Markakis is a Hall of Famer if he reaches 3,000 hits. If he gets more All Star Game appearances under his belt and raises his batting average before he retires, though, the 3,000 hits might not be as necessary for him to see his plaque in Cooperstown. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, March 28, 2019

BwM's Five Bold Predictions for the 2019 Regular Season 3/28/19

Hey baseball fans!

The 2019 MLB regular season starts today, so it's only fitting I give you five of my boldest predictions for the upcoming campaign. Remember: these predictions are bold.

Prediction #1: No National League team tops 95 wins
Generally speaking, 85 wins means a team is good, while 95 wins guarantees a division championship. Well, I'm predicting that over half of the National League finishes in between these two benchmarks. Right now, I have the Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers, Dodgers and Rockies fighting for Wild Card spots and division crowns, but there are way too many "what-if" scenarios in the National League that would allow me to truly predict a playoff picture. Sure, I have my rough estimates, but the NL is going to be extremely tight this year no matter what.

Prediction #2: The American League 2018 playoff teams repeat as postseason contestants in 2019
While teams moved up and down the power rankings of the NL during this past offseason, the giants of the American League just got better and increased their chances of recreating the 2018 postseason in 2019. The only difference I have is that the Yankees win the AL East, while the Red Sox get the first AL Wild Card. Otherwise, the Astros cruise to another AL West championship, the Indians again destroy a really bad division, and the A's sneak away with the second Wild Card spot for the second consecutive year. I also have the Rays and Angels giving the Wild Card teams at least a little bit of trouble.

Prediction #3: Nolan Arenado wins NL MVP
I made this prediction last year, but I'm making it again! Fresh off a new contract extension and inspired by a strong season by the Rockies last year, Arenado's time to shine is now. The modern reincarnation of Mike Schmidt will most definitely be up there amongst the leaders for home runs and RBIs, but his defensive metrics will carry him to one of baseball's most coveted awards.

Prediction #4: A big trade shakes up the postseason picture
Sure, Machado getting traded to LA last July was big, but I'm talking about "Yoenis Cespedes to the Mets in 2015" big with this prediction. This hypothetical trade will probably aid a National League team and set that team apart from the others in some capacity, whether it be on the mound or at the dish. Either way, though, it's bound to happen, seeing as how slow free agency has been the last couple of years, so players might be more inclined to request a trade.

Prediction #5: The World Series matchup: Yankees vs. Cubs
Call me a homer, but the Yankees have one of the most formidable lineups and bullpens in baseball. The starting pitching needs to prove itself, but I'm seeing a trip to the Fall Classic for the Yanks in 2019. The Cubs, meanwhile, got unlucky in last year's postseason and underachieved consequently. They're out for blood in 2019 and, ultimately, one team has to win the NL pennant, as tight as its going to be.

What do you think of my predictions? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Case for Ichiro Suzuki 3/23/19

Hey baseball fans!

Ichiro Suzuki is finally hanging up his cleats, ending a legendary baseball career which spanned almost three decades. To commemorate his career and to officially get the Ichiro Hall of Fame Hype Train started, let's talk about all of the reasons that Ichiro will end up in Cooperstown.

NPB Greatness
There's plenty of Hall of Fame precedence working for Ichiro, but let's start with the very beginning. Obviously, it's no secret that Suzuki didn't start his professional baseball career in the United States. It actually started with the Orix Blue Wave (now called the Buffaloes) of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, the Japanese equivalent of the MLB. Besides his first two seasons, which were spent in and out of the farm system of the Blue Wave, Ichiro never batted under .342 during his nine-year career in Japan, won seven Gold Gloves, and three MVP awards. Even without his Major League success, Ichiro deserves Hall of Fame consideration, as hitters such as Josh Gibson currently reside in the Hall of Fame without taking a single qualified swing for an MLB team.

The First Seattle Years
Ichiro's twelve-year stint with the Mariners from 2001-2012 was historic. He won Rookie of the Year and MVP in 2001, which had only happened once before (by Fred Lynn), set the hits record in 2004 with 262 single-season hits, and had ten 200-hit seasons, along with seven years in which he led the league in hits! The bottom line is that he was a hitting machine and had 2,244 hits in his first ten years on the Mariners, all of which were years he made the All Star Game. In addition, he was a tremendous fielder, winning ten Gold Gloves in Seattle!!

When he was traded to the Yankees in the middle of the 2012 season, Suzuki was 38 years old. Had he retired right then and there, he would've still been a Hall of Famer. Why? Well, besides the acclaim he received as a literal baseball god, Ichiro's per season averages were well above par for Hall of Fame standards. A prime example of this sort of career is Ralph Kiner, who started off his career by winning seven straight home run titles as a member of the Pirates during the late '40s and early '50s, but had to retire earlier than expected due to back problems. It took the full 15 years, but Kiner eventually got into Cooperstown via the BBWAA ballot. This is not me comparing Ichiro Suzuki to Ralph Kiner, but I do just want to show how Ichiro is a deserving Hall of Famer on so many different levels, particularly using the "per-year" discipline in this case.

3,000 Hits
Ichiro didn't need that many more Ichiro-like seasons to get to 3,000 hits after his time in Seattle, but with the Yankees and Marlins for about six years, he was more of a role player. Nonetheless, Suzuki managed to make it to 3,000 hits, which is an automatic bid into the Hall of Fame. Sure, it would be nice to not see his stats tarnished by years in which he batted south of .300, but 3,000 hits is 3,000 hits, no matter if you manage to do it in ten years or 30 years.

So, what have we learned from Ichrio Suzuki's magnificent career? The answer is simple: he's amazing. Thank you, Ichiro, for everything that you gave to the game of baseball in the US, Japan, and the world. Now, only one question remains: will he join the 100% Club? I'm sure Mo could use some company. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."