Sunday, June 17, 2018

Baseball with Matt's Top 50 Part 3: #45-41 6/17/18

Hey baseball fans!

It's time to reveal the 45th to 41st best Hall of Fame hitters in baseball history (in my humble opinion, of course)! Who's ready? Let's do it!

#45: Willie Stargell
This 21-year veteran for the Pirates was a key contributor to the Buccos' 1971 and 1979 World Series championships. The 1979 NL MVP and seven-time All Star hit 25+ homers in a season on ten occasions during his career and topped 100 RBIs in five seasons. In terms of best Pirates ever, the .282 lifetime hitter is right up there with another Pittsburgh legend who will appear on this list soon.

#44: Rickey Henderson
Yes, Henderson is the all-time steals leader, but did you know that he also has 3,055 career hits and the all-time record for runs scored at 2,295? The ten-time All Star and 1990 AL MVP led the league in stolen bases in twelve seasons, including in 1998, when at 39 years old, he stole 66 bases for the A's.

#43: Al Kaline
The all-time Tigers leader in hits made the All Star Game in 13 straight years from 1955-1967. The .297 lifetime hitter even won ten Gold Gloves as an outfielder. He finished his Hall of Fame career with 3,007 hits.

#42: Johnny Bench
17 big league seasons. 14 All Star nods. Eleven seasons of 20 or more home runs. NL MVP in 1970 and 1972. Two-time home run leader and three-time RBI leader. Back-to-back World Series champ in 1975 and 1976. Ten consecutive Gold Gloves as a catcher. Need I say more?

#41: Robin Yount
Yes, he only made three All Star teams for the AL during his 20-year career with the Brewers, but he did win the AL MVP twice in 1982 and 1989, collect 3,142 career hits, and bat .285 during his career.  And to top it all off, what a mustache this guy had!


#40-36 are coming up next, so get pumped! Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Baseball with Matt's Top 50 Part 2: #50-46 6/2/18

Hey baseball fans!

It's time for Part 2 of my list of the top 50 Hall of Fame hitters in baseball history (and the first part that actually includes part of the list)! Without further delay, here are the first five entries to BwM's Top 50:

#50: Kirby Puckett
We're kicking off the summer festivities with one of the two best contact hitters the Minnesota Twins have ever had on their roster. Spoiler alert: the other one will appear on this list in several posts. Anyway, Puckett made ten All Star appearances in his twelve years in the MLB, averaged 192 hits a season, and batted .318 lifetime. His Hall of Fame moment came in the 1991 World Series, when he hit a walk-off home run in Game Six to extend the series to a seventh game that the Twins would eventually win.


#49: Jeff Bagwell
Bagwell's 449 career home runs and 1,529 RBIs in just 15 MLB seasons should've punched his ticket into Cooperstown on the first ballot, but his election was delayed due to steroid speculators. Nonetheless, the 1994 NL MVP for the Astros batted .297 lifetime and had an on-base percentage above .400 in seven seasons.

#48: Craig Biggio
He's the second Astros HoFer on this list and the first member of the 3,000 hit club on this list. Biggio's 3,060 career knocks rank number one in the Astros organization and 24th on the all-time list. The seven-time All Star second baseman led the league in runs scored twice and doubles three times.

#47: Lou Brock
Larcenous Lou stole 938 bases during his career, which at the time of his retirement, was the best mark in history (and now stands second only to someone who will appear in the next blog post). But something you probably didn't know about Mr. Brock is that he is also a member of the 3,000 hits club with 3,023 career base hits. He posted 190+ hits in a season seven times throughout his career with the Cardinals and Cubs from 1961-1979 and even made six All Star Games.

#46: Chipper Jones
The face of the Braves franchise in the 1990s and 2000s batted .303 during his Hall of Fame career in Atlanta and even smacked 468 long balls out of the yard. From 1996-2003, he never collected less than 100 RBIs in a season and even won the 1999 NL MVP.

Next post will include #45-41, so get excited as we move along into the dog days of summer! Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Baseball with Matt's Top 50 Part 1: Introduction and Honorable Mentions 5/29/18

Hey baseball fans!

This summer here on Baseball with Matt will be devoted to ranking my top 50 Hall of Fame hitters of all time! I've always wanted to do a list like this because every time I read or watch a list of the top hitters in baseball history, I always have comments. Basically, the top 50 will consist of some of the greatest names of America's pastime, but you're going to have to stick around until mid-August to read the name "Ruth" (yes, he is in my top five). But to start off this series, this post is devoted to the top hitters who didn't crack the top 50. Trust me, these omissions were very tough, so these guys definitely deserve to be in my top 60. But the list is the top 50 Hall of Fame hitters in baseball history, so, in no particular order, here are the honorable mentions.

The Catchers: Carlton Fisk, Yogi Berra, and Roy Campanella
All Hall of Fame catchers. All with multiple All Star Games and seasonal awards. All regarded as some of the best ever from behind the plate. But all just missed the cut.

The Injury-Prone: Ralph Kiner and Hank Greenberg
Both of these sluggers could mash the baseball, but were both hampered by injuries that cut their careers short. But when your slugging percentage is more than double your batting average in multiple seasons, you deserve a shout out.


The Miscellaneous Cubs Hall of Famers: Andre Dawson and Billy Williams
Both of these guys were great hitters, don't get me wrong, but just didn't have the stuff for the top 50. However, with that being said, don't let their absences on my list detract from their Cooperstown worthiness.

I would just like to point out a common theme you'll see throughout the top 50 that you might've seen in these honorable mentions as well. I will not be playing the "what if" game, meaning that in the construction of this list, I never said "well, if blank happened, he would've had better stats." Just keep that in mind as you read the list (and specifically Ted Williams's name on said list). Anyway, who's excited for #50-46? I know I am. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Postseason for the History Books (literally) 5/24/18

Hey baseball fans!

The 2018 MLB season is still in its infancy, but it's still fun thinking ahead to October. Rather than give a playoff prediction, though, here is a playoff scenario. What if the teams with the most World Series championships made the playoffs this year? How would the playoff bracket look and, ultimately, who would win the 2018 World Series? Here are my two cents on the subject:


First off, before we get to my predictions for this playoff scenario, here are the participating teams:

AL East champion: New York Yankees (27 championships)
AL Central champion: Detroit Tigers (4 championships)
AL West champion: Oakland Athletics (9 championships)
AL Wild Cards: Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox (8 and 3 championships, respectively)*
*The Twins and Orioles also have three Fall Classic trophies, but the ChiSox have a better winning percentage than both of them in the World Series (60% compared to 50% and 42.9%, respectively)

NL East champion: Atlanta Braves (3 championships)
NL Central champion: St. Louis Cardinals (11 championships)
NL West champion: San Francisco Giants (8 championships)
NL Wild Cards: Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates (6 and 5 championships, respectively)*
*The Reds also have five Fall Classic trophies, but the Pirates have a better winning percentage than Cinci in the World Series (71.4% compared to 55.6%)

Ok, now here are my predictions:

AL Wild Card Round: White Sox vs. Red Sox
Winner: Red Sox. The best team in baseball would absolutely annihilate their footwear brethren and, honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the run differential was in the double-digits for this game.

NL Wild Card Round: Dodgers vs. Pirates
Winner: Pirates. As much as their season is surprising me right now, Pittsburgh is doing much better than I thought and the Dodgers are doing much worse. Sorry LA, but you're not getting World Series redemption in this scenario if the season ended today.

ALDS 1: Red Sox vs. Yankees
Winner: Yankees. This one would go five games, for sure, but New York has an unbelievable lineup right now.

ALDS 1: Tigers vs. Athletics
Winner: Athletics. The A's have an interesting team this year and could make a surprising run at the AL Wild Card in real life, but in this scenario, considering they're facing one of the worst teams in the AL, this series isn't going longer than four games.

NLDS 1: Pirates vs. Cardinals
Winner: Cardinals. It seems that the Cards' eerie 2017 is over and the Cards are playing up to the hype. I think this series would be close, but St. Louis would take it. Pittsburgh being good still doesn't make a whole lot of sense for me right now.

NLDS 2: Braves vs. Giants
Winner: Braves. It's an even year, yes, but the geriatric Giants would be no match for the upstart and young Atlanta squad. Braves take it in four or maybe even a sweep.

ALCS: Athletics vs. Yankees
Winner: Yankees. The A's, to be frank, will slow down eventually in 2018, while the Yankees will only continue to soar.

NLCS: Braves vs. Cardinals
Winner: Cardinals, for basically the same reasons as the ALCS outcome. The Braves' luck will run out and St. Louis will, literally, only rise (get it? Birds) in the wins column.

World Series: Cardinals vs. Yankees
Winner: Cardinals. This Fall Classic would be extremely close, but the Baby Bombers just don't have the high-pressure experiences that the Cardiac Cards don't even need to win. Just look at the past Cardinals championship squads: all underdogs.

Obviously, the Tigers and White Sox will not be playing October baseball in 2018, but this was a fun little experiment. What other playoff scenarios would you like to see me analyze? 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, May 12, 2018

Derek Jeter's Season that Wasn't Really a Season 5/12/18

Hey baseball fans!

So I recently learned that Derek Jeter holds the record for the most postseason games played at 158. This number is pretty interesting because there are 162 games in a season, so it's almost as if Jeter played an entire season over many Octobers (and Novembers). This got me thinking: how well did Jeter do in his postseason-season, if you will? Well, I have your answer and it turns out, he did pretty well, as he did in most of his actual MLB seasons.

In 158 games, Jeter batted .308 with 200 hits on the dot, 20 home runs, and 111 runs scored. To put those numbers into perspective, thinking about Jeter's 158 postseason games as a full season, the .308 batting average would be the twelfth-best single-season batting average of his career, the 200 hits would be his ninth-best seasonal hits total, the 20 home runs would rank fourth, and the 111 runs scored would be tied for eighth. So, in conclusion, I'd say Jeter was just as consistent in the last months of the season as he was in the first several. No wonder the Yanks won so many World Series championships during his career (five, to be exact).


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

Saturday, May 5, 2018

ML"what would"B: What if the D-Backs and Rays Never Existed? 5/5/18

Hey baseball fans!

1998 saw the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays join the MLB, but what if their efforts to join the league had failed? What if they folded before ever playing a game? That's what this edition of ML"what would"B is going to look at. This long-running series looks at some of the biggest "what-if's" in baseball history, so let's look at a what-if scenario where Major League Baseball opened the 1998 season with 28 teams instead of 30.


Let's start with the divisions. They don't look much different, except for a couple of notable changes. Basically, the Astros and Brewers stay in their original leagues, the Tigers stay in the AL East, and the AL and NL West divisions have four teams each. Considering the Yankees are in the middle of a dynasty, the playoff results stay relatively the same, that is, until 2001. Remember: the Diamondbacks rolled through the National League playoff bracket in '01 and eventually downed the Yanks in the World Series in seven games. This time around, however, the Braves get to the Series to face the Yankees for the third time in six years and just like in the previous two times, New York wins handily. They still lose to the Angels in the 2002 ALDS, but the Angels don't face the Giants in the World Series that year. They instead go up against the Astros. How, you ask? Well, the Diamondbacks had two key pitchers on their roster when they got good: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Johnson, instead of getting traded to Arizona prior to the 1999 season, stays in Houston, who trades for Schilling midway through 2000.

So the 2002 Astros win the NL Wild Card with 90 wins, then take care of the Giants and Cardinals in the NLDS and CS to reach the '02 Fall Classic. Johnson, Schilling, and company are able to survive the Angels and their rallying ways by winning the franchise's first World Series. Johnson has a bad year in 2003, but Schilling picks up the slack to help the 'Stros win the 2003 NL Central title by one game over the Cubs. Without the Curse of the Billy Goat, the Marlins get eliminated from the '03 postseason in the NLCS by the Braves, who finally break their World Series drought against the Yankees by winning the Fall Classic in six games. But the Yankees get their redemption in 2004, where they do not meet the Red Sox in the ALCS because Curt Schilling's league-leading 21 wins are still in Houston. The Yankees win the '04 ALCS against the Angels and get to the World Series to face... the Astros! Houston gets its second Fall Classic trophy in three years by downing the Yanks in five games.

It's around this time that the Expos have decided to move. Because there is a vacancy in the desert, they switch divisions and time zones to become the Arizona Diamondbacks. Besides that shakeup in baseball's standings, nothing really changes in 2005; Johnson and Schilling have declined, so the Astros still get swept in the '05 World Series by the White Sox. In 2006, the Tigers don't beat the Yankees in the ALDS because back then, a Wild Card team couldn't face a division rival in the division series, so they instead lose to AL Rookie of the Year Chad Billingsley and the A's, who go on to the World Series to face the Mets. The Mets managed to beat the Cardinals in the NLCS with the help of their new breakout pitcher... Justin Verlander? Yeah, with a mixup in the 2003 standings, the Amazins get Verlander in the 2004 Draft, who gives the Mets 17 wins in '06 and helps them beat the A's in the World Series in five games.

The 2007 season still saw the Red Sox sweep the Rockies in the Fall Classic, breaking the Curse of the Bambino, but 2008 sees a crazy change in the standings. The Brewers manage to win the AL Central by a game over the White Sox and Twins, but lose to the Yankees in the ALDS, who lose to the Angels, with the help of their midseason trade acquisition C.C. Sabathia (because the Indians wouldn't deal C.C. within their division to Milwaukee), in the ALCS. The Halos go on to win the franchise's first World Series against... the Cubs? Yeah, the Cubs and their 2008 Cy Young Award winner, Tim Lincecum, who they drafted in 2006. The Cubs soar past the Dodgers and Phillies to make their first World Series since 1945, but as said before, lose to the Angels.

In 2011, the Marlins are thinking of switching stadiums, when they instead switch cities altogether. The Fish move to the nation's capital and become the Nationals. Now, Florida has ridden itself of its toxic MLB franchises. You're welcome, Sunshine State. But now DC will be forever in pain due to the Marlins-turned-Nationals' failures. Some things stay constant, even in the ML"what would"B. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, April 30, 2018

These HoFers Have Long Resumes, Too 4/30/18

Hey baseball fans!

There are plenty of names in baseball that are defined by one statistic or important fact, but baseball players have accomplished way more than just one specific thing. I know, that was some bad explaining, but here are some examples of what I mean:

Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken, Jr.
Baseball's iron men. The top two hitters in consecutive games played. But so what? It's not like they did anything during their respective games played streaks, right? Wrong. Gehrig is one of the best first basemen in baseball history, averaging 29 home runs and 117 RBIs a season during his 17-year career. Oh, and he also batted .340 lifetime. Ripken, on the other hand, homered 431 times in his 21 years in the bigs, made 19 consecutive All Star Games from 1983-2001 and, oh yeah, is 15th on the all-time hits list with 3,184 career knocks.


Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby
These trailblazers broke the color barrier in the National and American League, respectively, but if only they were actually HoF-worthy. Psych! They were! Robinson won the 1949 MVP and went to six All Star Games during his ten-year career. He stole almost 20 bases a season and even batted .311 lifetime. Doby led the league in home runs twice, hit 20+ homers in eight consecutive seasons, and even made seven straight All Star Games from 1949-1955.


Joe DiMaggio
56 straight games with a hit is surely an accomplishment, but you know what else is an accomplishment? Making an All Star Game every single year of batting at the major league level. That's right; DiMaggio played for 13 years from 1936-1951 (he missed 1943-1945 due to military service) and made 13 Midsummer Classics. The Yankee Clipper batted .325 during his illustrious career and is tied for the most MVPs in AL history with three (1939, 1941, and 1947).


So yes, Gehrig and Ripken will always be known for their determination; Robinson and Doby will always be known for their resilience; and DiMaggio will always be known for his streak of consistency. However, these guys are enshrined in Cooperstown because they were great ballplayers, not one-trick ponies. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."