Tuesday, January 21, 2020

If I Had A Hall of Fame Ballot 2020 1/21/20

Hey baseball fans!

It's time for the main event! If I had a ballot for the 2020 Baseball Hall of Fame vote, who would I put on it? Let's find out!

Derek Jeter
At the top of everybody's list should be Jeter. Check out my last post by clicking here to see why I think he's a Hall of Famer and why he'll be unanimous.

Curt Schilling
Schilling has messed himself up in a lot of ways off the field, but on it, he was one of the best pitchers at the turn of the century. He helped both the Diamondbacks and the Red Sox win World Series championships, pitching masterful performances in each Series. Overall, for his career, Curt posted a 3.46 ERA with 216 wins and 3,116 strikeouts. The one thing that goes against him is ERA, but given Mike Mussina's induction, that high an ERA is HoF-worthy.

Todd Helton
You can talk about the Coors Effect all you want, but Todd Helton is "Mr. Rockie," meaning that he's probably the best player in the team's history and was a fan favorite during his tenure in Colorado, which goes a long way in my book. Helton finished his career with a .316 batting average and and a .953 OPS. No matter what era or ballpark a hitter plays in, those stats are out of this world. He averaged 148 hits a season over his 17-year career and made six All Star Games.

Larry Walker
Another Rockie (this time, not for his entire career) who had a great batting average and an even better OPS. Walker was a three-time batting champ and hit over 35 homers in a season four times. The five-time All Star is appearing on his last BBWAA ballot, but even so, he deserved induction a long time ago.

Jeff Kent
No, I don't care who he hates. Kent is a Hall of Famer because of his career accomplishments as a second baseman. A notably powerless position, Kent averaged 22 homers and 89 RBIs a season in a 17-year career that saw him become one of the biggest names for the position. His .290 batting average ain't half-bad, neither.

Billy Wagner
He is sixth on the all-time saves list. That's it! That's all Wagner needs to be a Hall of Famer. However, closers have a little stigma on the Hall of Fame ballot, but just ask the Sandman if that stigma will stay forever. And don't forget his 2.31 career ERA, which is lower than Trevor Hoffman's!

Paul Konerko
From 1999-2014, which only excludes his half-seasons with the Dodgers, the White Sox legend averaged 27 homers and 86 RBIs a season. The six-time All Star is an absolute legend on the South Side, and was one of the bigger reasons for their curse-breaking season of 2005.

Andruw Jones
Weirdly-spelled name aside, Jones was one of the best hitters on a Braves team famous for its pitching. He smacked 434 career home runs and made five All Star Games. Oh yeah, he's also a ten-time Gold Glover, receiving the awards in consecutive seasons.

Omar Vizquel
I'm not a huge Vizquel fan, but no one can ignore his eleven Gold Gloves at shortstop. I would put him on my ballot because, frankly, I have the spot to do so. He seems more like a Veterans Committee inductee, but many people love him.

To anyone who isn't on my ballot, you know why. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Is Derek Jeter Worthy of a Unanimous HoF Induction? 1/11/20

Hey baseball fans!

Happy New Year! It's January, which means we are less than a month away until the 2020 Hall of Fame inductees are announced. In honor of the Hall-iday season, it's time we dive into the votes. As is customary here in Baseball with Matt, I'll do an "If I Had a Hall of Fame Ballot" post later in the month, but for now, let's look at some individual players, like the Captain himself.

Derek Jeter is a Hall of Famer, no question about it. He's a fourteen-time All Star, five-time Gold Glover, five-time Silver Slugger, five-time World Series champion, 2000 World Series MVP, and currently sits at sixth place on the all-time hits list with 3,465 career base knocks. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Jeter will get the 75% required for Cooperstown induction. But that's not the question on everyone's mind. The real question revolving around Jeter that will be a hot topic of debate for years to come is the title of this post: will Jeter's induction be unanimous and does he deserve it? In my opinion, yes and maybe.

First off, Jeter should be unanimous. Many people who I've talked to argue that Jeter isn't the best shortstop ever or that he's not the best contact hitter ever, so that's why he won't get 100% of the BBWAA vote. But that's a holistic approach to the Hall of Fame that I dislike. Here's how I think of the Hall of Fame vote: if three out of four people think you're a Hall of Famer, you're a Hall of Famer. It's as simple as that. With Jeter, each individual person asks themselves if he's deserving of Cooperstown and purely based on the audience, let alone his numbers, everyone should think so. The BBWAA is composed of writers and media, hence the "W" in the BBWAA, and Jeter was known for being great with the press. Sure, his tenure in the front office with the Marlins has been putrid at best, but many people like Jeter as a person and the people who don't will respect him and his career stats. He was never in any steroids talk and was the King of New York for two decades. Literally no one is saying he's not a Hall of Famer, meaning he'll get 100% of the vote.

Now, whether or not he deserves the honor of a unanimous election is questionable. Mariano Rivera, Jeter's teammate for almost their entire careers, got in unanimously, the first player to do so. Many people thought Mo was deserving of this unique classification because he's the best closer baseball has ever seen. Jeter, like I mentioned before, is not the greatest anything. He's not even the greatest Yankee and surely not the greatest front office person. The problem with this new "unanimous" talk is that it's so new. There's no real precedent for it, compared to overall Hall of Fame voting. And even if there was precedent, unanimous elects will be a part of an elite and exclusive club. We'll have very few examples for comparison for this category in a hundred years, let alone right now.

So, again. Everyone will think that Jeter is a Hall of Famer. It's the question of whether he truly is a "unanimous" Hall of Famer that will be raised for years to come. And who knows? Saves are so common now compared to when Mo broke records that maybe we won't consider him unanimous in fifty years. Either way, I'm very excited to officially see one of my childhood heroes join the other Yankee greats in Cooperstown in July. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Some of the Best Individual Seasons of the 2010s 12/29/19

Hey baseball fans!

The 2010s are officially coming to a close, so let's examine some of the best seasons of the decade by individual players! Note: these seasons might not be the ultimate best, but they're ones I'd like to shout out.

Joey Votto, 2010
Votto's NL MVP 2010 season put him on the map for what would end up being the entire decade. He made his first of six career All Star Games and set career highs in home runs (37) and RBIs (113). He also made his impressive on-base percentage numbers known, leading the NL in 2010 with a .424 OBP, his first of four consecutive seasons leading the league in the category.

Justin Verlander, 2011
Your 2011 AL Cy Young Award and MVP winner sure did have a season to remember in '11, winning the pitching Triple Crown and leading the Tigers all the way to the ALCS. His 24 wins and 2.40 ERA that season are both career highs.

Miguel Cabrera, 2012 and 2013
Arguably the best player in baseball for the first half of the decade, Cabrera became the first hitting Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 and again won the batting title in 2013. He was a back-to-back MVP, averaging 44 homers, 138 RBIs, and a .338 batting average over that two-year stretch. The 2012 World Series alluded him, but that doesn't detract from his Hall of Fame candidacy in the slightest.

Clayton Kershaw, 2014
The second same-season Cy Young and MVP of the decade was Clayton Kershaw in '14 and, boy, was he unstoppable. 21-3 record. A 1.77 ERA. 239 strikeouts. If only he performed better in the postseason.

Bryce Harper, 2015
Call him overrated, but his 2015 MVP campaign made him the $300+ million dollar man he is today. He batted .330, with 99 RBIs and a league-leading 42 homers, .460 OBP, and .649 slugging percentage. Bam Bam fell back to Earth in later seasons, but 2015 has been his crowing achievement.

Max Scherzer, 2016
The 2016 Cy Young Award recipient continued his Hall of Fame campaign with 20 wins and a 2.96 ERA. What's amazing about this year for Scherzer is that it definitely wasn't his best, but he won the Cy Young anyway. It just goes to show you how good Mad Max really is.

Jose Altuve, 2017
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton deserve acknowledgements as well, but the best second basemen of at least the second half of the 2010s deserves just as much praise. Altuve only had 204 hits this year, but that number and his .346 batting average both led the AL. The Astros' first World Series championship cements this season as one of the best in Houston's history.

Christian Yelich, 2018
Remember when we thought Yelich was just fine on Miami? Well, he elevated his game to astronomical levels in Milwaukee. In his first season with the Brew Crew, Yelich led the league with a .326 batting average, while also collecting 36 homers and 110 RBIs. He became one of the best hitters in the league after showing little power for the first few years of his career with the Marlins.

Mike Trout, 2019
You thought I'd leave Trout off this list, didn't you? The 2019 MVP set a career high in home runs (45), while also leading the league in OPS (1.083). He was a shoe-in for MVP from the beginning of the season, only because he's always a shoe-in. Let it be known that Mike Trout was the best player of the 2010s. The funny part about that statement is that he didn't play in the entire decade. Who knows what he'll do in the 2020s?

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Spanish Voice of the Dodgers 12/18/19

Hey baseball fans!

Vin Scully is arguably the most recognizable voice in baseball history. His sweet tone entertained Dodgers fans for well over half a century, producing some memorable sound bytes in the process. But a different voice that's almost as long-lived as Scully's continues to fill the Los Angeles air today, except this voice fills the air not with English, but with Spanish.

This post is devoted to Jaime Jarrin, the Spanish play-by-play broadcaster of the Dodgers since 1959. He was the Ford C. Frick Award winner in 1998, an award given to the broadcaster who has made major contributions to baseball. Since Scully retired in 2016, Jarrin is the longest-serving MLB broadcaster, but Jarrin wasn't always a baseball fan. Most broadcasters grew up listening to ballgames and honing their craft from a young age, but Jarrin came to the US from Ecuador in 1955 without ever watching a single game of baseball. When the Dodgers moved to LA in 1958, he was working at KWKW, the radio station that coincidentally acquired the rights to broadcast the Dodgers in Spanish. The stars aligned and Jarrin became "la voz" of the Dodgers.

Jarrin's contract is up after the 2020 season, so we might be seeing the end of one of the greatest careers in baseball broadcasting. But either way, I love what Jarrin does for the Spanish-speaking community of Los Angeles, allowing them to enjoy baseball as much as any English-speaker. I just wish more people knew of Jarrin before because I only found out about him this year on a random googling spree of broadcasters. But it just goes to show you how the unsung pioneers of baseball are just as revolutionary as the more famous ones. Thank you, Jaime Jarrin, for everything you're doing for Spanish-speaking baseball fans and for baseball fans alike.

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

Monday, December 9, 2019

My Thoughts on the 2020 MLB Hall of Fame Class (Part 1) 12/9/19

Hey baseball fans!

The Modern Era Veterans Committee has officially elected Ted Simmons and Marvin Miller into the Hall of Fame! Let's talk about the vote, what I think went right, and what I think went wrong.

They got Simmons and Miller right
I predicted Ted Simmons getting into the Hall and he deserves every bit of his induction in July. The eight-time All Star catcher from the 1970s and 1980s didn't seem to be hindered by the possible Thurman Munson comparisons, as the Cardinals and Brewers great ended up with 13 of the 16 possible votes.

I didn't talk about Miller in my Hall of Fame predictions post because he wasn't a player, but that doesn't mean he couldn't relate to the players. Marvin Miller was the first ever Executive Director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, turning it into one of the strongest unions in the United States. His influence on player culture was felt heavily as player contracts exploded throughout the 1970s due to free agency. There's a reason why the biggest stars in baseball today are paid so much and that reason is Miller. He received the minimum amount of votes (12 out of 16) required for induction, but that doesn't mean he wasn't as revolutionary to baseball as any other MLB pioneer.

No one else came close
Dwight Evans and Dave Parker were third and fourth, respectively, in terms of most votes on the Modern Era ballot. I thought that Parker had at least a shot, but didn't think Evans had the stats. I'm surprised that these guys were considered by barely half of the voters because they really were both great players. Dale Murphy, however, rightfully deserved little to no Hall of Fame consideration.

Steve Garvey deserved more than six votes
I was SO CONFIDENT in Steve Garvey getting into the Hall of Fame, but he ended up with only six votes in his favor, the same amount as Lou Whitaker! No offense to Sweet Lou, but Steve Garvey deserved at least twice the amount of votes that he got. He's a Southern California baseball treasure, having collected numerous accolades and accomplishments with both the Dodgers and Padres.

The Yankees got no love
Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, and Tommy John all had interesting shots at making the Hall this year, but all three got absolutely destroyed by the voters. I had my faith in John, but was really quite surprised to hear that he didn't get a lot of love from the Committee.

Who do you think should've gotten into the Hall via the Modern Era Committee this year? 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, November 30, 2019

Roberto Alomar's Two Big Contracts: Were They Worth It? 11/30/19

Hey baseball fans!

With the Winter Meetings fast approaching, let's again dive into some of baseball's most famous free agency moves to see their outcomes. Reggie Jackson was the topic of my last post, but now we're going to another Hall of Famer, this time a slick infielder: Roberto Alomar!

Roberto Alomar is one of the greatest second basemen in baseball history. In 17 big league seasons, he amassed over 2,700 hits and batted .300 on the dot. He began his career with the Padres in 1988, made his first All Star Game in 1990, then got traded with Joe Carter to the Blue Jays prior to the 1991 season. I could do an entire post about that trade alone, but it would be too simple to say that the Blue Jays killed the Friars in the deal. Toronto won both the 1992 and 1993 World Series, thanks largely in part to Carter's playoff heroics (particularly in Game Six of '93) and Alomar's skillful play in the regular season. In his career with the Blue Jays from 1991-1995, Alomar made five All Star Games, won five Gold Gloves, and averaged 166 hits a season.

This post will be a double-feature because Alomar signed two big free agency deals during his career. The first came in December of 1995, when he signed a three-year contract with the Orioles. The O's hadn't won a World Series or been to the playoffs since 1983 and were looking to make a push for the AL pennant in '96. Alomar had a great three years in Charm City, winning two more Gold Gloves, making three more All Star Games, and averaging 165 hits a season. He was more injury-prone during his time with the Orioles, but they still managed playoff berths in 1996 and 1997. Nonetheless, the Orioles couldn't make it to the World Series in either year and still own the longest active World Series appearance drought among AL teams that have made the World Series (sorry, Mariners).

Alomar was again granted free agency after the 1998 season and signed with the Indians. He ended up getting traded from Cleveland in 2001, so this stint was also three years. The Indians needed a boost after losing the World Series in both 1995 and 1997, keeping their World Series championship drought alive (which is still active, lasting since 1948). So they needed someone to put them over the AL giants like the Yankees, who were in the midst of a dynasty. Alomar put together arguably the best three years of his career while in Cleveland. In '99 and '01, he placed within the top five in MVP voting and set career highs in home runs, RBIs, and runs scored. However, the Indians didn't win anything with Alomar, so Roberto's only career World Series rings come from north of the US border.

It's quite tough to say, but I don't think Alomar's contracts were worth it in both Baltimore or Cleveland. Don't get me wrong: Roberto Alomar is one of the few faces of baseball in the 1990s, but the Orioles and Indians didn't win, despite Alomar's help. But what if he signed with the Braves, Mets, or back with the Padres after his time in Toronto? Would he have led those teams to championships? 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."

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Jackson to the Yankees: Was It Worth It? 11/19/19

Hey baseball fans!

We are officially in the baseball offseason! In honor of this, the next couple of posts are going to be about some of the biggest free agent signings in MLB history and if they were worth it or not. In this first post, let's focus our attention on Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson!

Jackson was one of the best sluggers in baseball in the late 1960s and early 1970s, mostly with the Oakland A's. In his time with the A's (and Orioles in 1976), excluding 1967, he averaged 31 homers and 91 RBIs a season. He was a member of Oakland's back-to-back-to-back championship rosters from 1972-1974 and was a particular help in '73, when he took home regular season and World Series MVP honors. But after his 1976 season, Jackson was granted free agency. Looking to make an impact and boost his already-big ego, he made lots of noise by signing with the New York Yankees in one of the first big free agency signings in MLB up to that point. The Yankees had been pretty putrid for most of the decade and thought that Jackson would bring them back to the Fall Classic. Spoiler alert: he sure did.

Jackson's time in New York from 1977-1981 was on par with what he did on the West Coast, for sure. As a Yankee, he averaged 29 homers and 92 RBIs a year, along with a .281 batting average. He came in second in the MVP voting in 1980, hitting .300 with 41 homers and 111 RBIs, all highs for his time in the Bronx. The Yankees, themselves, also benefited from Jackson's five-year stint. They won the AL East every year, except 1979, and even made the World Series in 1977, 1978, and 1981. Although they lost the World Series in '81, 1977 and 1978 were the Yanks' 21st and 22nd franchise championships, milestones that only the Yankees and Montreal Canadiens have tasted in American professional sports. Jackson made his presence known in the '77 Series against the Dodgers, hitting three homers on three consecutive swings in the clinching Game Six, giving him MVP honors for the Series, making him the first player in baseball to win the World Series MVP on two different teams.

Although Jackson is the all-time leader in strikeouts by a hitter, he still showed an insane amount of power during his 21-year career. He was so great, in fact, that he is in the Hall of Fame. And guess what logo is on his plaque in Cooperstown? That's right, the Yankees' "NY." So, yeah, I think this signing was worth it for the Yanks, even if former manager Billy Martin might say otherwise. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."