Monday, May 25, 2020

The Contact Hitters that Shaped Baseball Since the 60's 5/25/20

Hey baseball fans!

Although batting averages have decreased on average ever since Hall of Famers like Ted Williams and Stan Musial retired, there are a number of notable contact hitters of the last 60 years that I'd like to point out. Yes, I am aware of the "Chicks Dig the Long Ball" philosophy, which states that homers are the quickest and easiest way to score runs and win games (which is exactly how I manage my franchises on MLB The Show 20) but, as I've said before, batting averages keep innings going. So, let's look at some of the best hit collectors since the 1960's.

Tony Gwynn
Mr. Padre and Captain Video, two of the most underwhelming nicknames for a Hall of Famer, but nicknames that are well-deserved by the 15-time All Star. Gwynn is the best hitter the San Diego Padres franchise has ever seen, contributing immensely to both of the Friars' NL pennant-winning seasons of 1984 and 1998. But to get statistical, Gwynn was the king of watching tapes of opposing pitchers and ball placement, giving him a career batting average of .338, the highest lifetime batting average of the latter half of the 20th century. Gwynn won eight batting titles (four of them consecutive when he was ages 34-37) and finished his career from 1982-2001 with 3,141 hits.

Wade Boggs
One of the greatest hitters in Red Sox history, which is certainly saying something, Boggs began his career in Fenway with five batting titles in his first seven years. He would go on to post a .328 lifetime batting average with 3,010 hits. He was a 12-time All Star who was so feared as a contact hitter that he led the AL in intentional walks for six consecutive seasons from 1987-1992. In his 18 Major League seasons, Boggs only batted under .300 in a season three times.

Rod Carew
Carew is one of my favorite hitters and Hall of Famers in baseball history because he's the greatest contact hitter in the history of two different franchises. From 1967-1978 with the Twins, he averaged 174 hits a season and never missed an All Star Game. With the Angels from 1979-1985, despite injuries, he posted a batting average of .314. One of the greatest hitters to never win a World Series, Carew finished his career with 18 All Star years, a .328 batting average, and 3,053 hits.

George Brett
You can't talk about the 1980s in baseball without mentioning Mike Schmidt's third baseman AL counterpart, along with Wade Boggs, of course, but Brett and Schmidt each won the MVP in 1980 and faced off in the 1980 World Series, so the two are pretty comparable. The best hitter in Royals history, Brett collected 3,154 career hits in 21 years from 1973-1993 and posted a .305 batting average during the span. That 1980 year in particular was his best, batting an astounding .390 while leading the AL in OPS (1.118). He couldn't help Kansas City vanquish the Phillies in 1980, but he did help the Royals win the franchise's first World Series five years later.

Kirby Puckett
Easily the most underrated hitter in this post, Puckett was an unstoppable force in the hitting department from 1984-1995, averaging a staggering 192 hits in his tenure with the Twins. He posted a .318 batting average that could've been better had he not retired early due to health concerns. Ironically, though, it's his walk-off home run in Game Six of the 1991 World Series that is his most memorable moment, a moment that only heightens the status of the '91 Series as one of the greatest ever.

Derek Jeter
A lot of people would say that Jeter is the best contact hitter I'm including in this post, even though I think it's Gwynn just based off of career batting average, but Jeter was the man. He's sixth all time in career hits at 3,465, while his .310 lifetime batting clip ain't too shabby, either. The reason why Jeter is so highly-regarded is his leadership of five World Series championship teams and 14 All Star appearances. He never won a batting title, but he led the AL in hits twice (in 1999 with 219 and in 2012 with 216).

Before I end this post, I'd like to give a quick shout-out to Vladimir Guerrero, who batted .318 lifetime, but wasn't included in this post because he had some pop in his bat, too. Still, though, what a batting average! Anyway, 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 12, 2020

Jackie Robinson: Barrier-Breaker AND Great Baseball Player 5/12/20

Hey baseball fans!

There are four particular Hall of Famers that are often known more for their resilience (sociopolitically and physically) than their abilities at playing baseball. Today, I shall attempt to correct these beliefs by talking about how Jackie Robinson, Larry Doby, Cal Ripken Jr., and Lou Gehrig were so great at hitting baseballs, in addition to their other accolades.

Jackie Robinson
It feels fitting to talk about Robinson first, not just because Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, saw no baseball this year, but also because Robinson's achievement is the most important. On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, becoming the first black player in MLB history. His number 42 was retired across baseball in 1997 to honor such an amazing feat, but I'd hate to talk about Jackie without mentioning his stats. Robinson actually won Rookie of the Year in 1947 (an award that later was named after him) and the National League MVP two years later. For his career, which was played entirely in Dodger blue, the six-time All Star batted .311 with with an average of 151 hits and 20 steals a season. He only played from 1947-1956, but was elected to the Hall in his first year of eligibility, 1962, with 77.5% of the vote.

Larry Doby
About two months after Robinson made history in Brooklyn, it was the American League's turn to integrate. On July 5, 1947, Larry Doby became the first black player in American League history, when he pinch hit for the pitcher in the top of the seventh in an Indians-White Sox game in Chicago. Sure, he struck out during that at-bat, but Doby would go on to become one of the AL's most feared hitters of the '50s. The seven-time All Star hit 20 or more homers in eight straight seasons from 1949-1956, and came in second in the 1954 AL MVP voting to Yankees catcher Yogi Berra. Doby batted .283 during his 13-year career, making the Hall of Fame via the Veteran's Committee in 1998.

Cal Ripken, Jr.
The man who holds the record for most consecutive games played at 2,632 had all the chances in the world to be great, so thank goodness he capitalized. I'm of course kidding, but Ripken was really one of the best hitters of the last fifth of the 20th century. He made 19 straight All Star Games from 1983-2001, winning MVPs in 1983 and 1991 along the way. He collected 3,184 hits during his career, all in Baltimore, and even smacked 431 career homers out of the yard. The moment when he broke Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played is considered one of baseball's best moments, but never forget how grand of a shortstop Ripken was. He was, truly, the Jeter before Jeter.

Lou Gehrig
And last but certainly not least, we have the greatest first baseman in baseball history. No, I don't dub him this because of his 2,130 consecutive games played record that stood for almost 60 years or the disease that is named after him. Gehrig was a machine. Sure, Ruth was better, but the Yankees don't win championships in 1927, 1932, or 1936-1938 without "Larrupin' Lou." Gehrig played for 17 years, but if you look at the 14 years in which he played more than just a handful of games in a season, he averaged 193 hits, 35 homers, and 142 RBIs a season, along with a .340 batting average! His 1.0798 career OPS is third all time, only to Ted Williams and the Bambino, while his 1,995 RBIs are seventh all time. Could you imagine if he didn't have ALS? He might've turned into the best player ever, and that's coming from a guy who thinks George Herman Ruth is the best hitter the MLB has ever seen.

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

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Senators, Robins, and Pilots (Oh My!) 5/3/20

Hey baseball fans!

Throughout my blogging career, I've written about some old teams, teams that are so old that they had different names than they do currently. So, to make up for all of that confusion, let's talk about what some teams used to be called. I'm not going to go through every MLB team, but I will touch on some of the big name changes.

Boston Americans = Boston Red Sox
The first ever World Series was won by the Boston Red Sox. Eh, well, technically it was the Boston Americans, but it was the Red Sox franchise. The Sox officially became the Sox in 1908, after being the Americans from their inception in 1901-1907.

Brooklyn Robins = Los Angeles Dodgers
Ok, so it's common knowledge that the Dodgers used to be in Brooklyn, but did you also know that the 1917 NL pennant-winning team was called the Brooklyn Robins? Yeah, like the bird. The Dodgers were also called the Trolley Dodgers, the Superbas, and the Bridegrooms (because so many of the players were married).

Washington Senators = Minnesota Twins AND Texas Rangers
Ok, this one is a little trickier than the others. The original Washington Senators, aka the 1924 World Series winners, moved to the Land of 10,000 Lakes before the 1961 season and became the Twins. That same season, a new team in Washington named the Senators started playing in the American League. They move to Texas in 1972 and became the Rangers.

Seattle Pilots = Milwaukee Brewers
The Pilots were one of four expansion teams in 1969, along with the Padres, Royals, and Expos (who we will get to shortly). They spent one season in the Pacific Northwest before getting bought by eventual MLB commissioner Bud Selig in bankruptcy court. In 1970, the Milwaukee Brewers were officially born.

Montreal Expos = Washington Nationals
Ah, yes, the hottest topic when it comes to MLB expansion. The Expos, led by terrible management, were forced to move to DC following the 2004 season, much to the dismay of Quebec. However, with the Rays possibly playing some of their home games north of the border, the Expos could return sooner than one might think.

Bonus: Cincinnati Redlegs = Cincinnati Reds
From 1954-1958, the Reds temporarily changed their name to the Redlegs. Why? Communism! Well, not necessarily, but there were speculations that the word 'red' associated with the franchise with the Soviets. The word was even taken out of their "C" logo, but was brought back in 1961.

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz," and make sure to keep Vladimir Putin away from Joey Votto at all times.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Defensive Runs Saved: What is it? 4/25/20

Hey baseball fans!

Kevin Kiermaier is the center fielder for the Tampa Bay Rays. A couple of years ago, Kiermaier got a massive contract extension to stay in Florida. Well, the extension itself wouldn't be big to Mike Trout, but for a guy who only hits in the low .200s with barely 10 home runs a season, it was a massive contract extension. Yes, he's a three-time Gold Glover and someone who's known for robbing homers like it's his job, but why did the Rays give their outfielder a spanking new contract just for being an above-average fielder? The answer? Defensive runs saved.

Defensive runs saved is a statistic used to determine, well, how many runs on defense a player saves by making a play. There's a lot of averaging out and conversion that goes into the formula, but at its core, DRS is calculated in the following way. Say an outfielder makes a play that was 35% possible. That would mean that the fielder gets .65 points added into the DRS formula. Again, there's a lot more math that happens with that .65, but basically, if a fielder makes hard plays that prevent lots of runs, they have a high DRS. The same thing goes in the opposite direction. Let's say a shortstop boots an easy grounder that has an 80% success rate. Well, for his DRS metric, he gets .8 points deducted from his score.

Kevin Kiermaier saved a whopping 42 runs in 2015 according to his DRS calculation, a number that the Rays thought was quite valuable to their winning ways. The all-time leader in DRS is Adrian Beltre at 212, but keep in mind that this statistic is very new, and that if data was calculated for it going back into the 1800s, you'd probably see Ozzie Smith or Brooks Robinson at the top of the all-time DRS rankings. But you know who has the lowest all-time DRS? Derek Jeter at -152! I guess "The Flip" was really an anomaly, especially for the Captain.

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

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Case (or Lack Of One) for Dennis Martinez 4/14/20

Hey baseball fans!

In a time of uncertainty, all eyes lie on the President to see what he does next. But for right now, let's talk about El Presidente. That's right: it's a Dennis Martinez post!

Dennis Martinez pitched for a number of teams, most notably the Orioles, Expos, and Indians, during a 23-year career from 1976-1998. An overall chipper guy, Martinez was the first ever Nicaraguan to pitch in the majors, a feat that hasn't been accomplished as much as you'd think since his retirement. Martinez had a 3.70 ERA during his years in baseball with a record of 245-193 and 2,149 strikeouts. He posted at least ten wins in a season 15 times, nine of those years consecutively, and twice finished in the top five for the Cy Young vote. Martinez got less than the 5% required to stay on the Hall of Fame ballot after his first year of eligibility in 2004, but that doesn't mean that the four-time All Star deserves zero praise. Even though he went 7-16 in 1983 with an ERA towards six, he still was on the '83 Orioles when they beat the Phillies in that year's World Series. His best year in Baltimore was arguably 1981, when he won 14 games in a strike-shortened season with a 3.32 ERA, his best seasonal ERA in Charm City. Only after his trade to Montreal did Martinez really become El Presidente.

From 1987-1993, you could argue that Martinez was in the same elite tier as Greg Maddux. I mean, you would lose the argument, but not by much! Martinez's years in Montreal were a sort of renaissance for him, as he posted a 2.96 ERA, 96 wins, and a 1.14 WHIP during the span. But his greatest achievement north of the border actually came in a game in Los Angeles. On Sunday, July 28, 1991, El President was el perfecto, pitching a perfect game against the Dodgers, thereby becoming the first pitcher born outside the United States to pitch a perfect game. It came in the midst of Martinez's best yearly ERA (2.39, which led the league) and his second of three consecutive All Star nods. The game itself was notable for a few reasons. Dodger Stadium became the first stadium to witness two perfect games (Sandy Koufax in 1965 was the first) and the Dodgers became the first team to lose consecutive perfect games (Tom Browning's perfecto against LA in 1988 was the one immediately before Martinez's).

Despite his resurgence with the Expos, Martinez was too inefficient earlier in his career to be considered a Hall of Famer in my book, but he'll always be one in the hearts of Expos fans. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, April 2, 2020

600 Homers For My 600th Post 4/2/20

Hey baseball fans!

Today is the eight-year anniversary of my very first blog post AND my 600th post! Thank you so much to everyone who has read my stuff over these past eight wonderful years, whether you're a day one fan or are just stumbling upon my posts this year. Now, onto the baseball history!

It only makes sense to talk about the 600 Home Run Club for my 600th post, one of the most exclusive clubs throughout the history of America's pastime. Let's break down the numbers. 600 home runs would take an average of 30 homers for 20 years. Considering the 500 Home Run Club is about three times as plentiful, you can understand how truly hard it is to hit 600 career home runs. Besides the steroid-users, every member of the 600 Home Run Club is in the Hall of Fame, so let's talk about some of those MLB legends.

Jim Thome
The king of the walk-off home run totaled 612 home runs during his 22-year career with mainly the Indians. What's interesting to look at with Thome is his lack of recognition as a power hitter throughout his career; he only made five All Star Games, the least amount of ASGs amongst the guys with 600+ homers (not including Babe Ruth, who played a majority of his career without an All Star Game). However, Jim was an integral part of the Cleveland teams of the 1990s, one of the greatest dynasties that wasn't a dynasty.

Ken Griffey, Jr.
The Kid is undeniably the best player in the history of the Seattle Mariners. If only he didn't beg for a trade to his hometown Cincinnati Reds. Anyway, Griffey's 630 homers rank seventh on the all-time list, helped out by league-leading years in home runs in 1994 (40 in only 111 games) and 1997-1999 (56, 56, and 48, respectively). He had 40 or more home runs in a season seven times and won the Home Run Derby a record three times.

Albert Pujols
Similar situation to Griffey, except his big drop-off in power came with free agency and not a trade. Nonetheless, Pujols is one of the greatest hitters of my generation. Besides having 656 career home runs, he also has 3,202 career hits, making him one of four hitters in history with 600+ homers and 3,000+ hits. Pujols's 35 homers a season is the highest average homers per year among members of the 600 Home Run Club, and is also the active leader in career home runs.

Willie Mays
We move into the Top Five! The Say Hey Kid smacked 660 career homers during his 22-year run with the Giants and Mets, cementing himself as one of the candidates for baseball's Mount Rushmore. Mays was a four-time home run champ and is the only military veteran of the 600 Home Run Club. He is also the fastest member of the club, with 338 career stolen bases.

Babe Ruth
THE BEST HITTER IN BASEBALL HISTORY (sorry, I just had to reiterate that statement) was the first member of the 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, and 700 Home Run Clubs. His 714 home runs were the highest in baseball history for 39 years, and the metric currently ranks third all-time. He is the only member of the club who played in the first half of the 20th century, but is also the club member with the most single-season home run titles (12).

Hank Aaron
The second member of the 700 Home Run Club ended his career with 756 home runs, which currently ranks second on the all-time list. However, among members of the 600 Home Run Club, he ranks first in hits (third all-time with 3,771) RBIs, and All Star Game appearances (his 2,297 careers runs batted in and 25 All Star Games are both first all-time). Aaron was a four-time home run champ, and is another candidate for baseball's Mount Rushmore.

Thanks again to everyone for supporting me through 600 posts, and I hope you enjoyed this particular post. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, March 27, 2020

My Idea for a Shortened Season 3/27/20

Hey baseball fans!

With the MLB officially starting late as of yesterday, it's time for the league, the fans, and anyone else who cares about America's pastime to come up with alternative scenarios regarding how the season should play out. So, here's mine. Note: I am assuming that the 2020 season will happen, and am keeping information in mind regarding the recent MLB-MLBPA agreement.

Even if it's without fans, it looks like the MLB season could start as early as June, but I'm going to say that it starts on July 1st. I think it's a terrible idea to do scheduled double-headers in this day and age, unlike in years past (I'm talking before WW2). I mean, you thought the Yankees were so injured before? Just wait until they have to start playing 14 games in seven days. However, I do think that a four-month season is acceptable and adaptable to service time, contracts, and any other time-related factors that go into a baseball season. Why do I say four months, you ask? Well, the 1981 MLB strike caused a stoppage of play, shortening the season to, you guessed it, four months. Obviously, this stoppage is much different than the one now, but we've seen a four-month MLB season in the past, and at the current moment with the information we have, I think it makes the most sense.

So, July 1st to October 31st would be the MLB regular season. The All Star Game would be moved to late August and the trade deadline to mid-September. The postseason would stay in the exact same format, but with less off-days if the matchups allow for it. A Yankees-Red Sox playoff series can be played across seven days, but a Mariners-Rays series might take nine or ten days (barring both series going to seven games). If the weather is closer to winter weather than Thanksgiving weather by late November, the World Series would be held at a neutral site, whether that site be domed (like Miller Park in Milwaukee) or in a hot location (like Dodger Stadium in LA).

I don't think it's a secret that this upcoming season is going to be one for the history books for all the wrong reasons, but it shouldn't be delegitimized, if it's played. The Dodgers' 1981 World Series championship over the Yankees is completely valid, as are the 1994 MVPs won by Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell, even without the '94 playoffs (and Albert Belle's 50 homers in 1995 are just iconic). It's just up to us to make the best of it. Stay strong and safe, baseball fans.

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