Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Dramatic Final Out of the 1962 World Series 12/27/18

Hey baseball fans!

In the new movie, "Green Book," which takes place in 1962, there is a scene where Bronx natives are watching a Yankees game. One of the people watching the game says something along the lines of, "I hope this doesn't go to a seventh game." This is actually not an anachronism; the Yankees did actually play in the 1962 World Series against the San Francisco Giants and the Series did go seven games. In fact, that seventh game features one of the most exciting final moments of any World Series ever, so let's talk about it.

The 1962 World Series went back and forth for the first six games, with the Yankees taking the odd-numbered games and the Giants taking the even-numbered ones. Game Seven seemed to be going in a similar fashion, as the Yanks were up 1-0 over the Giants entering the bottom of the ninth at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Ralph Terry was on the mound for New York, even though he had given up the walk-off, World Series-winning home run to Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates just two years before. Nonetheless, Terry had pitched scoreless ball since the sixth, so Yankees manager Ralph Houk kept the big righty in the game.

Pinch hitter Matty Alou started off the inning with a bunt single. After two strikeouts, Hall of Famer Willie Mays laced a double down the right field line, but Alou had to stop at third. Now, with two outs and runners on second and third, fellow Hall of Famer Willie McCovey stepped to the plate. Because yet another Hall of Famer, Orlando Cepeda, was on deck, McCovey was not intentionally walked. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Terry threw a fastball on the inside part of the plate. McCovey, a lefty, adjusted to the location of the pitch and pulled the pitch on a rope. The laser of a hit looked to be zipping over second baseman Bobby Richardson for a walk-off hit, but because of the ball's topspin, Richardson just had to range to his left to make the catch, which he did. In what could've been a disastrous moment for Terry, the Yankees won their 20th World Series and their last one of their dominant 40-year run. Funnily enough, Terry was named World Series MVP.

I love this play so much because no one really remembers it and it was so star-studded. Not only do you have three Hall of Famers involved, but one of baseball's biggest families (the Alous) as well. 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 16, 2018

My Thoughts on Harold Baines 12/16/18

Hey baseball fans!

The Veteran's Committee recently voted in two guys into the Baseball Hall of Fame. One of them, Lee Smith, definitely deserved it. The other one, Harold Baines, possibly didn't. Here's why.

Baines played for 22 seasons from 1980-2001, most famously with the White Sox and Orioles. During that 22-year span, Baines batted .289 with 384 home runs and 1,628 RBIs. To some, these numbers might be worthy of the Hall of Fame, but to most people, this is not the case. My personal problem with Baines being in the Hall of Fame is his seasonal averages. He played for 22 years, so for a guy with a .289 lifetime batting average, one would expect him to have over 3,000 career hits. However, he only averaged about 130 hits per season, which is way lower than the 150 hits per 20 years that are required for 3,000 career hits. 384 homers and 1,628 RBIs over 22 years comes out to only 17 home runs and 74 RBIs a season. The 74 RBIs are Baines's most respectable per-year statistic, which isn't saying much. Baines's Hall of Fame case is a close call, for sure, and I'm not denying him being a great player, but even the BBWAA didn't think he was a Hall of Famer; he never reached a double-digit voting percentage while on the BBWAA ballot.

Many people, including myself, are claiming that with Baines's induction into the Hall of Fame, Hall of Fame standards will have to be lowered. The reason why this is a problem is that out of the four major professional American sports' halls of fame, Cooperstown is the hardest to get into. Some people might view Hall of Fame voting as completely arbitrary and that it doesn't really matter for baseball. But those people have to understand that a tough Hall of Fame gives its sport more credibility and in an age when baseball isn't the most popular American sport anymore, that credibility is more important now than it was ever before.

I highly recommend you read some articles on what BBWAA voters are saying about the Baines' election, because my opinion is shared with quite a number of people. This is a very big deal for the Hall of Fame and will change a lot of voters' opinions about future elections. The only thing to do now is to see how this all unfolds in a few years and watch as new arguments erupt about Hall of Fame elections that had previously been dormant for decades. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, December 7, 2018

The All-Time Top Five Rookie of the Year Combos 12/7/18

Hey baseball fans!

I am in love with the youth of baseball right now, especially the 2018 AL and NL Rookie of the Year award winners, Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna. But this got me thinking: which Rookie of the Year combination of the past is the best of all time? Below is the answer to that question in the form of a top five list. While making it, however, I had one rule: one RoY winner can't be the sole reason for the combo's inclusion, so Willie Mays and Gil McDougald, the 1951 winners of the award, will not appear below. Also, this list looks at the careers of former Rookie of the Year winners, not their rookie seasons. Now, without further ado, let's begin!

Honorable Mention: 2012
AL winner: Mike Trout
NL winner: Bryce Harper
Why? These two are absolute studs, but they're both so young. If I remake this list in seven years and these two MVPs remain elite, then they'll definitely jump the #5 combo on this list. Speaking of which...

#5: 1993
AL winner: Tim Salmon
NL winner: Mike Piazza
Why? Piazza, in my opinion, is the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history. His 427 career home runs rank first among all-time catchers and his .308 lifetime batting average is unheard of for catchers of the modern era. Salmon, even though he never made an All Star Game and is the only player on this list who is either not in the Hall of Fame or probably never will be, was a fan favorite on the Angels, helping them to their first and only World Series championship in team history in 2002. During the best ten-year stretch of his 14-year career from 1992-2006 (he missed 2005 due to injury), he averaged 26 homers and 87 RBIs a season.

#4: 1977
AL winner: Eddie Murray
NL winner: Andre Dawson
Why? Steady Eddie was one of the most consistent hitters in baseball history and is probably the most underrated hitter in the 500-3,000 club (500 homers and 3,000 hits). Dawson made a name for himself as both a member of the Expos and the Cubs, averaging 132 hits, 21 home runs, and 76 RBIs a season.

#3: 1956
AL winner: Luis Aparicio
NL winner: Frank Robinson
Why? Aparicio started off his career by winning nine straight AL stolen base titles and totaled 506 during his time in baseball. The nine-time Gold Glover and ten-time All Star shortstop is the only Venezuelan in the Hall of Fame. Robinson is one of the more unsung sluggers of the 1950s and 1960s, totaling 586 homers and 1,812 RBIs during his 21-year career. He was the first hitter in baseball history to win the MVP in both leagues, winning it in 1961 with the pennant-winning Reds and in 1966 with the Orioles, a year in which he won the AL hitting Triple Crown.

#2: 2001
AL winner: Ichiro Suzuki
NL winner: Albert Pujols
Why? You could consider this pick biased, but you also really can't. Ichiro was the second hitter in baseball history to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards in the same season and is the single-season hits champion, collecting a record 262 hits in 2004. Pujols is one of only nine hitters in baseball history with 600+ home runs and his 633 career dingers put him in sixth place on the all-time list. The three-time MVP is also one of my personal childhood heroes, so maybe I'm a little biased, but again, who wouldn't be?

#1: 1967
AL winner: Rod Carew
NL winner: Tom Seaver
Why? Carew is the greatest contact hitter in the history of two separate franchises. During his career with the Twins and Angels, he made the All Star Game every single year except for his last and sits at 27th on the all-time hits list with 3,053 career base knocks. Seaver, plain and simple, was one of the greatest pitchers of his generation. The 12-time All Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner has a lifetime ERA of 2.86 and his 311 career wins aren't that bad, either.

What do you think of this list? 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."

Friday, November 30, 2018

What the Heck is a Hold? 11/30/18

Hey baseball fans!

Relievers don't get enough love. Closers have their own statistic, the save, but what do relievers in general have? Ladies and gentleman, I present to you one of the more under-the-radar statistics that isn't even an official MLB stat: the hold.

So, what the heck is a hold? A hold is when a pitcher comes into the game in relief with their team winning and keeps it that way. That's the simplest definition of a hold, but there are a couple of technicalities. A reliever is only eligible for a hold if he comes into the game in a save situation; he must record at least one out; and he has to leave the game before it ends and keeps his team's lead. This stat was not regularly used until 1999, so great relievers like Jesse Orosco aren't credited with all of the holds they ever recorded.

But let's improve on the hold because it definitely has its faults as a statistic. First of all, a big proponent of the hold is that it's calculated by appearance and not by inning. This should be reversed, for sure. Second of all, why does it matter if a reliever comes in during a save situation, let alone with his team winning? Teams make wild comebacks all the time, which could make holds seem meaningless or a non-hold situation very meaningful. And lastly, for this new stat, a reliever has to pitch a scoreless appearance because no reliever should be awarded anything for giving up two runs while only recording one out. That's an in-game ERA of 54.00, but it could still be a situation in which a reliever is credited with a hold. How absurd!

What do you think of this improved hold? Should it have a different name? 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 20, 2018

The Case for Adrian Beltre 11/20/18

Hey baseball fans!

First of all, happy Thanksgiving! I'm sure Adrian Beltre will be having a good Turkey Day as well, given that the 21-year veteran just announced his retirement from baseball. In my last post, we took a deep dive into the career of Joe Mauer to see if he should be a Hall of Famer. This post will do the same for Beltre, but the dive will not be NEARLY as deep, mostly because it doesn't need to be. Why is this the case? Well, you'll see in a second, but first, let's discuss the career of the former All Star.

Adrian Beltre played from 1998-2018 with the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers. In those 21 years, he made four All Star Games, won four Silver Slugger awards, and also took home five Gold Glove awards at third base. Beltre also batted .300 or above in seven seasons and hit 30 or more home runs in five seasons. I'm sure that this all sounds great and worthy of the Hall of Fame, but there is one key statistic that Beltre achieved that OFFICIALLY secures him a spot in Cooperstown in five years.

Lend me your ears because I'm about to tell you one of baseball's rare unwritten laws regarding Hall of Fame legitimacy: if a hitter did not do anything to limit his Hall of Fame candidacy (I'm looking at you, Palmeiro and Rodriguez) or if a hitter isn't Pete Rose, 3,000 CAREER HITS IS A TICKET TO COOPERSTOWN. Every single hitter in baseball history, except for the three listed above, with 3,000 or more hits are/will be in the Hall of Fame and Beltre ranks 16th on the all-time hits list with 3,166 career base knocks. It doesn't matter that he only ranks 16th; he will get into the Hall of Fame, whether he gets 75.1% or 100% of the ballot votes.

Who's excited for another foreign hitter to get inducted into the Hall? 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, November 15, 2018

The Case for Joe Mauer 11/15/18

Hey baseball fans!

Last weekend, longtime Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer announced his retirement from the MLB after 15 seasons. I can understand if some of the younger folk don't know who this is, but my mini-generation of baseball fans can definitely recognize the former All Star. Mauer was something rare in baseball, a contact-hitting catcher, and this anomaly might hinder his Hall of Fame case. I, however, think his rare talent enhances his chances.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mauer's career accomplishments, let me tell you a little bit about him. Mauer grew up in Minnesota and played his entire career with the Twins. In that career, he batted .306 with 2,123 hits, and an OBP of .388. He's a three-time batting champ, two-time OBP champ, a six-time All Star, five-time Silver Slugger, and three-time Gold Glover. He was also the 2009 AL MVP, helping his Twins with the AL Central in the process.

It's important to note that Mauer played for 15 years and was a Hall of Fame-worthy player for his first ten. Because of injuries, he tailed off in his last five years in baseball. I am a firm believer that starting off a career as a Hall of Famer and then going through a prolonged and significant decline in talent and production does not give a player the worthiness of being a Hall of Famer, but injuries are a different story. There are some Hall of Famers that had their careers completely cut short due to injuries (think Ralph Kiner and Sandy Koufax) who are in the Hall, while Mauer just had to move to first base for his last couple of years, so the fact that Mauer wasn't as good as when he started shouldn't hurt his Hall of Fame credibility. In addition, Hall of Fame catchers Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza saw similar declines to their numbers later in their careers, so Mauer's decline isn't something abnormal for catchers. Yes, Bench's and Piazza's declines weren't as severe as Mauer's, but that's only because they're two of the best hitting catchers ever and it wouldn't be fair to compare Mauer's career to either Bench's or Piazza's.

If we're going to apply a fair edition of baseball's common law to Mauer's Hall of Fame case, let's look at Mickey Cochrane, a Hall of Fame catcher for the Tigers in the 1920s and 1930s. Cochrane's career abruptly ended due to a head injury he suffered in 1937, so he only played for 13 years in baseball. Cochrane had a lot of great years, but had subpar years sprinkled in here and there, so although he had some seasons in which he batted north of .335, he ended his career with a .320 batting average, 1,652 hits, and a .419 OBP. Now, I have already told you Mauer's career stats, but those stats include Mauer's later years. Mauer's stats in his first ten years are as follows: a .323 batting average, 1,414 hits, and a .405 OBP. The batting average and hits per season are both better than Cochrane's and although it's not by much and Cochrane's OBP is better, this is still very telling of just how good and how impactful Mauer was. In addition, Mauer's career WAR is better than Cochrane's (39.0 to 36.9) and is, in general, better than the average Hall of Fame catcher's career WAR.

My opinion alone might be biased, but based on the numbers, I don't see how Mauer doesn't at least eventually make it into the Hall. But what do you think? Is Joe Mauer a Hall of Famer? 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 10, 2018

BwM's 2018 MLB Award Predictions 11/9/18

Hey baseball fans!

The 2018 MLB major awards will be given out starting this coming Monday, November 12! But, before the winners for the Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards for the AL and NL are officially announced, I'm going to try to predict the winners. Last year, I went 5/8 on the predictions, so let's see if my luck will change for the better in 2018!

AL Manager of the Year
Winner: Alex Cora, Boston Red Sox
Why? A rookie manager winning the World Series and leading his team to the best season in terms of wins in franchise history? This one should be pretty obvious.

NL Manager of the Year
Winner: Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers
Why? You could make a case for Brian Snitker of the Braves, but the Brewers had the best record in the National League in 2018 and, out of the three managers in the NL who are nominated for Manager of the Year, the Brew Crew had the best bullpen in terms of ERA, one of the best ways you can judge a manager who is in contention for this award.

AL Rookie of the Year
Winner: Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees
Why? Andujar was towards the top among AL rookies in hits, home runs, RBIs, batting average, and slugging percentage. He is an extra base hits machine and a fan favorite in New York. Shohei Ohtani had a great year, but Andjuar put up All Star stats in 2018.

NL Rookie of the Year
Winner: Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
Why? I wouldn't be surprised if Walker Buehler of the Dodgers walked away with this award, but Acuna was a powerful, contact-hitting star this past season and you could argue that the Braves wouldn't have won the NL East without his help.

AL Cy Young
Winner: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
Why? Snellzilla came out of what seemed like nowhere this past year, leading the AL in wins and ERA and coming in second in WHIP. Justin Verlander of the Astros and Corey Kluber of the Indians are definitely in the conversation, but I think Snell takes this award.

NL Cy Young
Winner: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
Why? We've seen pitchers with no run support win the Cy Young award before, so why can't it happen again? DeGrom led all National League pitchers with a staggering 1.70 ERA and had he been given even a little bit of more run support from the Mets' lineup, he could've easily been a 20-game winner.

Winner: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Why? Mike Trout of the Angels is, as always, in hot pursuit of this heralded award, but I'm picking the AL batting champ to win it this year; along with leading the AL in batting, he was also the 2018 MLB WAR leader, which matters a lot to voters in this type of close race.

Winner: Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
Why? Almost winning the Triple Crown and being a massive help to his team in achieving the best record in the NL certainly gives the former Marlin the advantage here, but this is going to be a close race regardless between him, Javier Baez of the Cubs, and my favorite player in baseball, Nolan Arenado of the Brewers.

What do you think of my picks? 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."

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Miscellaneous Hall of Fame Awards 11/1/18

Hey baseball fans!

Welcome to the MLB offseason, when teams try to reshuffle their rosters in hopes of a future run at a World Series title. But first, we have some awards to discuss! As I do every year, I will try to predict the 2018 MLB major award winners, but we're saving that for a different post. In this post, I will be giving some fake awards to Hall of Famers for some of their amazing career accomplishments. So, without further delay, let's get to it!

Face of the Franchise Award: Napoleon Lajoie
What's the award for? Most people don't know who Lajoie is, mostly because he played more than 100 years ago. However, from 1896-1916, Lajoie batted an astounding .338 with 3,243 hits, both among the best marks in their respective categories in baseball history. In fact, he was so good that the Cleveland Indians temporarily changed the team name to the Cleveland Naps, while Lajoie was still on the team. Cleveland wasn't named the Indians until 1915.

Super Star Award: Joe DiMaggio
What's the award for? Joltin' Joe was one of the best hitters of his era, but because he only played 13 seasons in the MLB, he's not regarded as one of the best of all time. But DiMaggio managed to do something that not even Hank Aaron managed to do: make an All Star Game every single year he played. Yes, Joe DiMaggio doesn't have the most All Star appearances of all time (that accolade belongs to Aaron with 25), but DiMaggio made 13 All Star Games in the 13 years he played in the MLB. No other Hall of Fame can say they did that besides the Yankee Clipper.

Neighbor to the North Award: Fergie Jenkins
What's the award for? Jenkins was an All Star pitcher who pitched for mainly the Cubs and Rangers from 1965-1983, winning 284 games during his Hall of Fame career. So, what makes him so special, you may ask? Well, besides being a great pitcher, Jenkins is Canadian and was the first Canadian inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1991 with 75.4% of the BBWAA vote.

The Butt of No Joke Award: Heinie Manush
What's the award for? Please ignore my potty humor, but do not ignore Manush's Hall of Fame worthy career. From 1923-1939, Manush batted an out-of-this-world .330 during his career with just over 2,500 hits. He led the league in hits twice, including a 241-hit year in 1928, which is the twelfth-most hits in a single season in baseball history. He finally got into the Hall of Fame in 1964 via the Veteran's Committee.

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

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Historical Look at the 2018 World Series 10/22/18

Hey baseball fans!

The World Series is upon us! Sadly, my Yankees didn't make it, but that doesn't mean that I can't be happy that we are at the most historic part of the MLB season! Speaking of the word "historic," obviously history doesn't play such a huge part in the outcome of World Series matchups, but it can't hurt to know what this World Series could and will mean to baseball's past. With that, here are some historical facts about the 2018 World Series:

Boston Red Sox:
  1. The Red Sox could move into a tie for third place on the all-time World Series championships list with a ring in 2018. They've currently won the World Series eight times, one back of the A's. A championship would also move them ahead of the Yankees in terms of World Series winning percentage, bumping them up to sixth on the all-time list. 
  2. Joining the Yankees, Cardinals, and Giants, the Red Sox are the fourth team in baseball to win the pennant four times in the new millennium. If they win the 2018 Fall Classic, however, they will be the first team to win all four of those related championships. 
  3. With a victory in this best-of-seven series, the Red Sox will become the first US major professional sports team to win championships 100 years apart from each other. The 1918 Red Sox won the World Series over the Cubs in six games.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
  1. First, what does the pennant itself mean for the Dodgers? Well, the Dodgers are the first National League team to win back-to-back NL pennants since the 1991-1992 Atlanta Braves. In addition, with their 2018 NL pennant, the Dodgers move into a tie for the second-most pennants of all time with 20, tied with their rival Giants. 
  2. If the Dodgers lose the World Series, they will have the most World Series losses of all time with 14. They are currently tied with the Yankees who, ironically, have given LA eight of their Fall Classic defeats. 
  3. The Dodgers haven't won a World Series since 1988, making this World Series drought the second-longest in franchise history. Additionally, this drought is the sixth-longest active drought among teams that have won the World Series. 
Red Sox vs. Dodgers
  1. The Red Sox and Dodgers previously played each other in the World Series in 1916, with the Red Sox winning in five, making the 2018 World Series the first World Series rematch in five years. In the 2013 World Series, the Cardinals squared off against the Red Sox, having previously played each other in the 1946, 1967, and 2004 World Series. 
  2. This is the first AL East vs. NL West World Series since 2007 (Sox swept the Rockies). 

Who's taking home the 2018 crown? Will it be the Sox or the Dodgers? 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, October 16, 2018

BwM's Dynasty Criteria 10/16/18

Hey baseball fans!

The Astros and Dodgers are both one step closer to making it back to the World Series for the second consecutive year! We could possibly see a dynasty forming with one or both of these teams, or will we? In this post, I will try to define what a dynasty is because let's be honest: it's one of the most overused vocabulary words when talking about sports. Here's what I believe it takes:

In Terms of Championships:
Obviously, winning the World Series is the most important part of being called an MLB dynasty, but how many championships does a team need?
  • 3 championships in 3 years (1972-1974 Oakland A's)
  • At least 3 championships in 4 years (1952-56 New York Yankees)
  • At least 3 championships in 5 years (2010-2014 San Francisco Giants)
In Terms of Players:
A dynasty needs to have the same core. For example, those many championship years of the Yankees from the late 1940s to the early 1960s can be broken up into a couple of increments because the core changed. In the aforementioned 3-in-4 dynasty from 1952-1956, the Yankees were led by a young Mickey Mantle, not Joe DiMaggio, who was part of the club for an earlier dynasty from 1947-1951, when the team won 4 Fall Classics in 5 years. 

In Terms of Appearances:
Just because a team didn't win in all of their appearances doesn't mean they aren't worthy of the "dynasty" label.
  • 3 appearances in 3 years with at least one championship (1976-1978 New York Yankees)
  • At least 3 appearances in 4 years with at least one championship (1921-1924 New York Giants)
  • At least 4 appearances in 5 years with at least one championship (1991-1996 Atlanta Braves, pictured below)

In Terms of Contention: 
I think dynasties last roughly 5 years because after half a decade, it's not the same team. That's why contention isn't a factor for me in calling a team a dynasty. However, there are other words to use, depending on a team's level of success.
  • A consistently good team that makes the playoffs almost every year that just can't win the big one: try-nasty
  • A very good team that always chokes in the late stages of the playoffs: cry-nasty
  • A team that's very bad for a very long time: die-nasty
  • A team in a postseason drought: dry-nasty
  • A team with a bird name that's good for a long time: fly-nasty
  • A team that finishes in a middle spot every year, as expected: sigh-nasty
  • A team that somehow sneaks its way into the playoffs in what seems like every year: sly-nasty
What do you think of my dynasty criteria? 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."

Thursday, October 4, 2018

2018 MLB Standings Recap and Postseason Predictions 10/4/18

Hey baseball fans!

The AL and NL Division Series are officially set, but before we get to my playoff predictions for the remainder of October, let's talk about how the 2018 MLB regular season ended regarding the standings. Before the season, I made predictions regarding how each team would do record-wise during 2018. As you can probably guess, I got most of the AL right in terms of playoff seedings, while my NL predictions were less than stellar. Nonetheless, if you would like to see the predictions, click here. If you are too lazy to click there, here's a quick recap of what I got correct and incorrect.

AL Playoffs:

1st seed: Indians
2st seed: Astros
3rd seed: Yankees
Wild Card Game: Mariners at Red Sox
Other Notable Contenders: Angels, Twins

1st seed: Red Sox
2nd seed: Astros
3rd seed: Indians
Wild Card Game: A's at Yankees
Other Notable Contenders: Rays, Mariners

Correct teams in playoffs: 4
Correct divisional winners: 2
Correct Wild Cards: 0

NL Playoffs:

1st seed: Nationals
2st seed: Dodgers
3rd seed: Brewers
Wild Card Game: Diamondbacks at Cubs
Other Notable Contenders: Cardinals, Rockies

1st seed: Brewers
2nd seed: Dodgers
3rd seed: Braves
Wild Card Game: Rockies at Cubs
Other Notable Contenders: Cardinals, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Nationals

Correct teams in playoffs: 3
Correct divisional winners: 2
Correct Wild Cards: 1

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's discuss what everyone's been waiting for: MLB postseason predictions!

ALDS Matchup 1: Yankees (4) vs. Red Sox (1)
Winner: Red Sox in 5
Why? These teams have squared off in the playoffs before, their rivalry goes without saying, and had even matchups throughout the 2018 season. But to be fair, most of these games will be in Fenway and the Sox are the best home team in baseball. It's going to be a close series, nonetheless.

ALDS Matchup 2: Indians (3) vs. Astros (2)
Winner: Astros in 3
Why? This should be no contest for a strong, rejuvenated Astros squad. The only reason the Indians are in the playoffs is because their division this past season was an absolute joke. That doesn't mean that the Indians aren't a great team, but the 'Stros are looking to repeat and are out for blood.

NLDS Matchup 1: Rockies (5) vs. Brewers (1)
Winner: Brewers in 5
Why? The Brewers can go toe-to-toe with the powerful Rockies, with or without the Coors effect. That might not be mutual and the Brew Crew has home field advantage for the series.

NLDS Matchup 2: Braves (3) vs. Dodgers (2)
Winner: Dodgers in 4
Why? The Dodgers are looking to avenge their World Series loss from 2017, while the Braves are honestly just lucky to be in this position. They may pull a 2017 Yankees, but not against yet another team that's out for blood.

ALCS: Astros (2) vs. Red Sox (1)
Winner: Red Sox in 7
Why? Injuries have a long-lasting effect in baseball, even if those injuries are in a team's rearview mirror. The Sox are relatively healthy, while the Astros are just seeing some of their key contributors come off the Disabled List. This series is going to be another close one for Boston, but it's their's for the taking.

NLCS: Dodgers (2) vs. Brewers (1)
Winner: Dodgers in 6
Why? It's plain and simple: the Dodgers have been here before. In a National League that was a total dogfight and that could've possibly seen a six-way tie for seeding, it's the intangible advantages that set teams apart at this stage of the season. The Brewers are great, but besides Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun a million years ago, this team is very new to postseason baseball.

World Series: Dodgers (NL2) vs. Red Sox (AL1)
Winner: Dodgers in 7
Why? Fueled by the ghosts of last year's aforementioned World Series defeat and a tired Red Sox lineup, it's the Dodgers that will raise the World Series trophy in late October this year. The Red Sox will have had a long and tiring road to the Fall Classic; no one can expect them to stay totally ready (and healthy) come the World Series if all of these scenarios play out as I've predicted. But even so, the Dodgers are an amazing, all-around team. Thankfully, Yu Darvish will not be pitching for them this postseason.

Do you agree with my playoff 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."

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The 1978 AL East Playoff Game 9/25/18

Hey baseball fans!

We are nearing the end of the 2018 MLB regular season and although the AL seedings have been pretty much decided, the NL is completely crazy. It's so crazy that we could see a four-to-five team tie for the Wild Card spots! That would require a bevy of tiebreakers and although the tiebreaker I'm about to describe wasn't as insane in terms of participating teams, it's much more insane in terms of magnitude.

The year is 1978. The Yankees are coming off a World Series championship in 1977 and are looking to repeat as MLB champs. But the Red Sox have other ideas. Thanks to an MVP season by Hall of Famer Jim Rice and yet another solid campaign from Carlton Fisk, the '78 Sox were in the driver's seat for a majority of the season in the AL East. In fact, in mid-July, the Yankees were 14 games back of Boston for the AL East crown! Why do I sound so worried about my Yanks at this point, you ask? Well, in 1978, Major League Baseball hadn't implemented the Wild Card yet, so it was either a team won the division or didn't make the playoffs.

But New York mounted a furious comeback, going 53-21 in the team's final 74 games, while Boston only went 38-36. The highlight of this comeback was a Yankees four-game sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway late in the season. The Yankees outscored the Red Sox 40-9 over the four contests and the series was dubbed "The Boston Massacre" by the press. By season's end, both rivals were tied for the top position of the AL East, meaning that for the first time since 1948, a playoff game would be played to decide who would make the playoffs.

Game 163 did not start off the way the Yankees had planned, despite having 1978 AL Cy Young award recipient and 24-game winner Ron Guidry on the mound. Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski led off the bottom of the second with a homer and Rice hit an RBI single to center field in the sixth. But in the top of the seventh, things started to look up for the Yankees. With two runners on base, Bucky Dent, a contact-hitting shortstop who had hit only five homers the entire season, smacked a ball over the Green Monster, giving the Yankees a 3-2 advantage! Thurman Munson doubled later in the inning, scoring Mickey Rivers, and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson led off the top of the eighth with a homer to essentially clinch the game for the defending champs. The Red Sox rallied off Goose Gossage in the bottom of the eighth to make it look closer, but the Hall of Fame reliever eventually closed the game for the Yankees, giving them their third consecutive AL East title. The final score was 5-4.

Bucky Dent, who is now referred to as this game's hero, also ended up winning World Series MVP. So indeed, the Yankees did go back-to-back in the Fall Classic. It would be their last championship before an 18-year drought. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Pythagorean Expectation 9/13/18

Hey baseball fans!

The title of this post really sounds like the name of a "Big Bang Theory" episode, right? Correct! Today's blog post is very stat-heavy and mathematical. In other words, it should be pretty fun for me to write! Anyway, while perusing through Baseball Reference and looking at team win-loss records throughout the years, I came across the following stat: the Pythagorean expectation. Basically, this stat tells you how many games a team should've won based on how many runs they scored and gave up in a given season. The actual formula is as follows: runs scored raised to the power of 1.83 divided by the sum of runs scored raised to the power of 1.83 and runs allowed raised to the power of 1.83.

Let's look at the 2017 season as an example for understanding how the stat is actually implemented.  The 2017 Red Sox scored 785 runs and allowed 668 of them. Plug those numbers into the Pythagorean expectation formula and you get a winning percentage of .573. Multiply that by 162, the amount of games in an MLB season, and you get that the BoSox should've won 93 games in 2017, which they actually did. The 2017 Yankees, on the other hand, should've won 100 games according to the formula, but instead only won 91. Now, does this mean that the formula is faulty? Maybe, but it could also mean that the Yankees were just unlucky. The same thing goes for the 2017 Indians, who should've won 108 games in '17 but only won 102. Then you have a team like the 2017 Padres, a team that should've won only 59 games according to the Pythagorean expectation formula, but actually won 71 games.

So, why is this formula good to use in order to judge the prowess of MLB teams? Well, I've always been a big fan of run differential and this statistic uses exactly that to determine how good a team is. This same formula using different exponents is also used in the NFL, NBA, and NHL, so you know it's valid. After all, it was created by the great Bill James (pictured below). In conclusion, I may be old school when it comes to stuff like sabermetrics, but this new way of looking at teams is really quite interesting.

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

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Baseball with Matt's Top 50 Part 10: The Top 10 9/2/18

Hey baseball fans!

It's time for the epic conclusion to my summer-long series to tell you all my top 50 Hall of Fame hitters in baseball history! And it's also time for the real scrutiny to come my way, so let's get to it!

#10: Rogers Hornsby
The first real National League power hitter is actually on this list for a different reason: his .358 career batting average ranks second all time. In fact, he is only one of three hitters ever with a lifetime batting average above .350. He even batted .424 in 1924, which is the highest single-season batting average of the World Series era!

#9: Jimmie Foxx
"Double-X" sure knew how to hit when power was so primitive in baseball. He represented the AL in the All Star Game in the first nine years of the Midsummer Classic, won three MVPs, and was the second ever member of the 500 home run club. His 534 homers rank 19th on the all-time list and his .325 lifetime batting average and 1,922 career RBIs aren't bad, either.

#8: Lou Gehrig
His career was cut short, but amazing. He averaged 29 homers and a staggering 117 RBIs a season to go along with a .340 lifetime batting average. Gehrig won the AL MVP twice and topped 100 RBIs in 13 consecutive seasons (1926-1938). Oh yeah, and he played in 2,130 consecutive games or whatever.

#7: Honus Wagner
The Flying Dutchman terrified National League pitching at the beginning of the 20th century, batting .328 lifetime to go along with 3,420 career hits. The eight-time batting champ and four-time OBP champ is part of the first ever Hall of Fame class in 1936.

#6: Stan Musial
24 gosh darn All Star Games and the fourth-most hits in baseball history will definitely put you at #6 on this list. Stan the Man batted .331 lifetime and also drove in 1,951 runs during his career, the eighth-highest RBI total in baseball history.

#5: Willie Mays
Just like Musial, Mays was a 24-time All Star. Just like Musial, Mays is one of the most feared hitters in National League history. And just like Musial, Mays is up there with the best of them on the all-time hits list, as his 3,283 career base knocks rank 12th on the all-time list. But unlike Musial, Mays had some power. His 660 career home runs put him in the top ten of the category and his .302 lifetime batting average is pretty impressive as well.

#4: Ted Williams
Let the hate comments roll in! First, let's talk about why Teddy Ballgame was so great and then we can talk about why he isn't "the greatest hitter that ever lived." 19 All Star Games. 1,839 career RBIs. 521 career home runs. A .344 lifetime batting average. The best OBP of all time at .482. 2,021 career walks. The last man to hit over .400 in a season. All of that is great, don't get me wrong, but do you really mean to tell me that the "greatest hitter that ever lived" isn't even in the top ten for career hits or home runs? The Splendid Splinter is definitely great, but he doesn't deserve the number one spot in this countdown.

#3: Ty Cobb
The Georgia Peach may have played in a different era, but his stats are undeniably off the charts. His .366 batting average ranks as the best batting average ever and his 4,189 hits rank number two on the all-time list. From 1907-1919, he won 12 of 13 batting titles, batting over .400 twice. Surprisingly, he also has a high RBI total, as his 1,944 RBIs are ninth all-time.

#2: Hank Aaron
The 25-time All Star is quite simply the best hitter of the second half of the 20th century and for three simple reasons:
  1. Third all time in hits with 3,771.
  2. Second all time in home runs with 755.
  3. First all time in RBIs with 2,297. 
That's all I need to say about Hammerin' Hank. 

#1: Babe Ruth
Honestly, who else? A .342 batting average. 2,214 career RBIs. 714 career dingers. The highest slugging percentage in MLB history at .690. Won the AL home run title 12 times in a 14-year span. Per season with the Yankees, he averaged 44 home runs and 132 RBIs. But most of all, he ushered in the Live Ball era, changing the game forever. His transcendence is the real reason for why he's number one and I will never change my opinion regarding this decision. He's just plain revolutionary. 

The list is finally finished! Thank you to everyone for reading this series throughout the summer, but what did you think of it in its entirety? First of all, do you agree with my picks and second of all, would you like to see another series like this in the future? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and, as always, check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, August 24, 2018

Steroids 8/24/18

It’s time to talk about something I haven’t ever discussed on Baseball with Matt and for good reason. However, I feel like the following topic is important to address at this moment because of my list of the best Hall of Fame hitters in baseball history and why it’s restricted to only Hall of Famers. That’s right: let’s talk about steroids.

A lot of people have their opinions on steroids, but I find that a lot of people don’t have the information to back their opinions up. So before I tell you what I think about performance-enhancing drugs, here are the facts. From 1962-1994, just three players hit over 50 homers in a single season. But once the late ‘80s and early ‘90s came and went, home run numbers started to skyrocket. MLB executives probably had an idea of what was going on, which is why they banned the use of steroids in 1991. However, drug-testing didn’t start until 2003. So there was a period of 12 years when steroid users could operate above the law, so to speak. Coincidentally, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had their crazy race towards breaking the single-season home run record in 1998 and these twelve years were also the beginning of the out-of-this-world career of Barry Bonds.

Jose Canseco, a famous steroid user and McGwire’s former teammate on the A’s, stated that 80% of the hitters he played with took steroids, while others claim the numbers are lower but still bad, around 40-50%. From 1998-2009, the 500 home run club got 10 new members, which is insane because between 1987, when Mike Schmidt hit homer number 500, and 1996, when Eddie Murray accomplished the feat, not a single hitter joined the 500 home run club. Seven of those ten hitters have since been accused or proven to be steroid-takers: Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Rafael Palmeiro and Gary Sheffield. Even other hitters of the era, like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell, had their Hall of Fame election delayed because of steroid skeptics. But, no hitter positively associated with PEDs has been elected into the Hall of Fame, let alone any pitchers. Although some of the all-time greats just based on their numbers may be getting close, as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have seen their Hall of Fame numbers rise ever since they got on the ballots.

The main argument I’ve heard for letting players linked to steroids into the Hall is that because there’s no way to prove that players before steroids were banned actually took steroids, you can’t discriminate against the players who we know took steroids, despite the fact that they took steroids. Although that is true, like I said before, look at the numbers. When guys like McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds joined the league, home run numbers went up so much that rules had to be changed. On top of this, even if someone like Babe Ruth took some sort of performance-enhancing drug, back then, it was legal. It’s not like he was breaking any rules. It’s not like he cheated.

So, how do I feel about steroid users? Because PEDs have been illegal since 1991 and some of the aforementioned members of the 500 home run club have made it an extremely big deal to admit to their use of steroids and have admitted that they used the substances regrettably, steroid users do not belong in the Hall of Fame. They themselves have told the public that they cheated, so that’s what I think of them as well. Even for guys like Andy Pettitte and Robinson Cano, guys who I grew up watching as a die hard Yankees fan, their career stats must be taken with a grain of salt. I hate saying that, but the members of the Hall of Fame who may or may not have used substances legally do not deserve to have their statuses tarnished by a terrible era for the reputation of baseball. This is the stance I’ve always had about steroids and it’s how it will always be. It’s why I’ve never mentioned Barry Bonds’s name in any blog post I’ve ever written and it’s why I never plan to do so after today.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Baseball with Matt's Top 50 Part 9: #15-11 8/13/18

Hey baseball fans!

Welcome to the Top 15! It's such an exciting time during the summer, as we near the end of my top 50 Hall of Fame hitters in baseball history. But anyway, let's get to it!

#15: Wade Boggs
Boggs is the AL hitting machine successor to Rod Carew. Both hitters had crazy batting averages and made a ton of All Star Games. Boggs went to twelve Midsummer Classics from 1985-1996, led the league in batting average in five seasons, and batted a staggering .328 lifetime. It took Boggs 11 years to bat under .300 (.259 in 1992) in a season and he only did that two more times in his entire career. His 3,010 career base hits rank 30th on the all-time list and, overall, he's one of the most heralded hitters in Red Sox history.

#14: Roberto Clemente
Batted .317 lifetime. 3,000 hits on the dot in only 17 years in baseball. Four-time batting champion. Had over 200 hits in a season on four occasions. Won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves for the outfield from 1961-1972. 12-time All Star. Two-time World Series champion. Most beloved hitter in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates. But most of all, gone too soon, just because he had a charitable soul. Rest in peace, Roberto.

#13: Frank Robinson
There's Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, but there's also Frank Robinson. One of the more unsung power hitters of the 1950s and 1960s, Robinson could slug the baseball with the best of them. His 586 home runs rank tenth on the all-time home runs list and his 1,812 RBIs and .294 career batting average aren't so bad, either. He was the first hitter in baseball history to win the MVP in both leagues (1961 with the Reds and 1966 with the Orioles), even winning the Triple Crown in '66 with Baltimore. He hit 30 or more homers in 11 seasons and led the league in slugging percentage in four seasons. To top it all off, he's the first black manager in baseball history.

#12: Tony Gwynn
Sorry, Wade Boggs, but it's Tony Gwynn who actually owns the highest batting average out of all the ballplayers who debuted after 1950. Gwynn's .338 lifetime batting average is 18th on the all-time list, leading the league in batting eight times, even batting .394 at the age of 34 in 1994. Gwynn led the league in hits seven times and his 3,141 career base knocks rank 19th all time. On top of all of this, "Mr. Padre" is the only member of the franchise to participate in both of the team's World Series appearances, 1984 and 1998.

#11: Cal Ripken Jr.  
Ripken played in 2,632 consecutive games, a record that will most likely never be broken. Don't get me wrong, this is an amazing achievement, but Cal is way more than a games played streak. For example, did you know that he is 15th on the all-time hits list with 3,184 hits? Did you know he hit 431 career home runs? Did you know he made 19 straight All Star Games? Did you know he's a two-time MVP? Did you know he's probably the most celebrated hitter in the history of the Orioles? Maybe you did, maybe you didn't, but either way, what a career for "The Iron Man."

Next post is the top ten! What do you think of the list so far? 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."

Monday, August 6, 2018

Baseball with Matt's Top 50 Part 8: #20-16 8/6/18

Hey baseball fans!

We're getting to the point where the names on this list will be some of the most famous in baseball history! I'm so excited that we've finally reached my top 20 Hall of Fame hitters! Let's get started with this post with #20!

#20: Mickey Mantle
The Commerce Comet is not only my favorite of the Yankees' historical "Big 4," but also the youngest. From 1951-1968, Mantle smacked 536 homers out of the park, good for 18th on the all-time list. The 1956 AL Triple Crown winner and three-time MVP had 30 or more homers in a season nine times, eight of them being consecutive. The most underrated stat about Mantle is his record 18 World Series home runs and his seven World Series rings rank tied for seventh all time.

#19: Ken Griffey Jr.
As good as his dad was, Junior was infinitely better. His 630 home runs puts "The Kid" in seventh place on the all-time home runs list. Yes, he was injury-prone when he went to play for his hometown Reds, but he will always be remembered for his time with the Mariners. Griffey played 11 seasons in Seattle, making ten straight All Star Games from 1990-1999, winning seven Silver Slugger awards and ten straight Gold Gloves. The four-time home run champ wasn't even on Seattle's 116-win team in 2001, but could you imagine if he was?

#18: Mike Piazza
Let this be known to all who choose to argue with me: Mike Piazza is the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history and, to be frank (sorry, Johnny Bench), it's not even close. His 427 homers rank first all-time amongst catchers, his 1,335 RBIs rank second, and his .308 batting average is third all-time for backstops. Sure, Ivan Rodriguez, Mickey Cochrane, and Bill Dickey are also great, but Piazza was a revolutionary talent. Ask anyone from the 1990s to confirm that last statement because I'm sure they will do so gladly.

#17: Tris Speaker
In his 22-year career from 1907-1928, "The Grey Eagle" was one of the best hitters of his era. His 3,514 career hits rank fifth on the all-time list and his 792 career doubles actually rank first all time. It's not a record you think about like other records, but for the Dead Ball era especially, it matters a lot. In fact, Speaker's .500 career slugging percentage is up there with some of the other hitting greats that played during the dawn of the World Series era. Oh, and his .345 lifetime batting average wasn't that bad, either.

#16: Eddie Murray
This is probably a very controversial pick, but let me say this: Eddie Murray is one of the most underrated hitters in baseball history and the reason is quite simple. There are three Hall of Famers with 500+ homers and 3,000+ hits, making them twice as worthy for the Hall of Fame. Two of them are Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and you won't see them on this list for a couple of weeks. The other one, with 504 career homers and 3,255 career hits, is none other than "Steady Eddie" Murray. The eight-time All Star batted .287 lifetime and in the strike-shortened 1981 season, led the AL with 22 homers and 78 RBIs. He's not the best Oriole that will appear on this list, but he is certainly up there.

What do you think of these players' rankings? Let me know 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."

Monday, July 30, 2018

Baseball with Matt's Top 50 Part 7: #25-21 7/30/18

Hey baseball fans!

Congratulations to the recently-inducted Hall of Fame class! None of you are mentioned in this particular post, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be read, so let's do it!

#25: Carl Yastrzemski
I don't buy the whole "Ted Williams is the best hitter ever" thing (but that doesn't mean he won't be very high on my list). But this guy is one of the most underrated hitters in Red Sox and baseball history. Let me break down Yaz's career for you: 3,419 hits, 452 dingers, 1,844 RBIs, 1,845 walks, and a .285 batting average. Oh yeah, and he single-handedly led the Red Sox to the 1967 World Series by winning the AL Triple Crown and MVP that year.

#24: Mike Schmidt
My favorite player of all time is also one of the most efficient power hitters in baseball history. In his 18-year career with the Phillies, he led the league in homers eight times and slugging percentage five times. His 548 home runs rank 16th on the all-time list. On top of all of this, he's a three-time MVP, 12-time All Star, and helped the Phillies win the franchise's first World Series when he won the 1980 World Series MVP.

#23: Cap Anson
Cap who? The oldest player on this list comes in at #23 and for good reason. In 27 seasons from 1871-1897, Cap collected 2,075 RBIs, the 4th-highest RBI total in history. He also batted .334 lifetime, led the league in batting average four times, and even batted .335 in 1895 at the young age of 43. Sure, it was a different era, but he's a Hall of Famer for a reason. 

#22: Frank Thomas
Let's jump about a century into the future from Anson and look at the Big Hurt! Frank the Tank was a five-time All Star and back-to-back MVP in 1993 and 1994. He hit more than 30 homers in nine seasons and is one of only a few players with 500+ career homers (521 to be exact) and a lifetime batting average better than .300 (.301). From 1991-2007, he averaged a staggering 30 homers and 97 RBIs a season. 

#21: Mel Ott
To keep this one simple, Ott was the National League's Babe Ruth. The first modern premier power hitter of the Senior Circuit made 11 straight All Star Games from 1934-1944 and led the NL in homers six times in his career. The .304 lifetime hitter retired with the most homers in National League history with 511. Today, that mark gives Master Melvin the 25th-most homers in baseball history. 

We're down to the top 20! Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, July 23, 2018

Baseball with Matt's Top 50 Part 6: #30-26 7/23/18

Hey baseball fans!

We are about to reach the halfway point in my countdown of the top 50 Hall of Fame hitters in baseball history! So, let's get down to business!

#30: Rod Carew
One of my favorite hitters in baseball history, Carew made an All Star Game every year he played except his last. During those 18 years of All Star worthiness (and 19 years of MLB service time), Carew was a seven-time batting champ, batting .328 lifetime, which is one of the best marks of the latter half of the 20th century. His 3,053 hits rank 27th on the all-time list and he is arguably the greatest contact hitter in the history of two separate franchises: the Twins (1967-1978) and Angels (1979-1985).

#29: Dave Winfield
The king of the line drive made 12 straight All Star games from 1977-1988. He was a jack of all trades, collecting 150 or more hits and 25 or more home runs in eight seasons. His 3,110 hits are 22nd on the all-time list and he had a .283 career batting average. Fun fact: Winfield was also drafted into the NFL and NBA, but decided to play baseball professionally. What a career move that was.

#28: Eddie Collins
One of the oldest and longest-playing hitters on this list, Collins was basically Ty Cobb's arch nemesis in the first days of the American League and was almost as good. Collins played from 1906-1930 with the A's and White Sox, collecting the 11th-most hits by a hitter in baseball history with 3,315 career base knocks. On top of this, his .333 lifetime batting average is 22nd on the all-time list. 

#27: Napoleon Lajoie
But not even Collins was as good as this guy. Nap's 3,243 career hits are less than that of Collins, but his .338 batting average isn't. Lajoie led the league in hits four times and even batted a staggering .426 in 1901. Lajoie was such a good player that the team he played for, the present-day Indians, was renamed the Naps. The name change lasted for 12 whole years, from 1903-1914!

#26: Vladimir Guerrero
Now let's jump to the 21st century to one of the most recent Hall of Fame members on this list. Vlad only played 16 years, but his per-year stats are off the charts: 28 homers, 94 RBIs, 162 hits, and a .318 batting average. The nine-time All Star and 2004 AL MVP was elected into the Hall in 2018 with 92.9% of the vote.

How's the list looking so far? Leave your thoughts on hitters 50-26 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."

Friday, July 13, 2018

Baseball with Matt's Top 50 Part 5: #35-31 7/13/18

Hey baseball fans!

I'm back and better than ever! I hope your summer is going quite swimmingly. Speaking of summer, let's talk some baseball, shall we? Specifically, let's talk about the fourth part in my ten-part countdown of the top 50 Hall of Fame hitters in baseball history.

#35: Ernie Banks
Arguably the most famous member of the Chicago Cubs in the franchise's storied history, "Mr. Cub" was an 11-time All Star on 19 pretty horrible Cubs teams from 1953-1971. One of the best hitters to never get even so much as a taste of postseason baseball, Banks is one of the most powerful shortstops in baseball history, slapping out 512 career long balls. The back-to-back NL MVP in 1958 and 1959 was elected into the Hall in 1977 in his first year of eligibility.

#34: Joe DiMaggio
It's Joltin' Joe! DiMaggio is distinguished by being the only Hall of Famer to make an All Star Game every single year he played (1936-1942, 1946-1951). The Yankee Clipper was a .325 lifetime hitter, a three-time MVP in 1939, 1941, and 1947, and averaged 118 RBIs a season! Oh yeah, and that 56-game consecutive hits streak or whatever.

#33: Reggie Jackson
Jackson wasn't always a fan favorite, but what he lacked in popularity, he made up for in power. Jackson smacked out 563 career home runs, which is good for 14th on the all-time list. He was a 14-time All Star, 1973 AL MVP with the A's, and 1973 and 1977 World Series MVP for the A's and Yankees, respectively. That latter year was when he hit four homers on four consecutive swings, just saying. Fun fact: Jackson is the only player in baseball history to win the World Series MVP for two different teams.

#32: Jackie Robinson
As I've said before on BwM, Robinson isn't in the Hall of Fame solely because he broke the color barrier. He was a darn good hitter as well. He batted .311 lifetime and made consecutive All Star Games from 1949-1954, winning the NL MVP in '49 while leading the league with a .342 batting average. He also led the league in stolen bases two times (1947, 1949).

#31: Harmon Killebrew
He was the premiere slugger of the AL during his career from 1954-1975 with mainly the Twins franchise (they moved from DC to Minnesota during his career, but it's the same franchise), hitting a whopping 573 career homers, which ranks 12th on the all-time list. The eleven-time All Star and 1969 AL MVP led his league in out-of-the-parkers on six occasions, topping 35 homers in a season on nine occasions.

We are nearing the halfway point of the list! Are you excited to see more hitters? Let me know your predictions for the rest of the list 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."

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Baseball with Matt's Top 50 Part 4: #40-36 6/27/18

Hey baseball fans!

Do you know what time it is?! It's time to talk about my 40th to 36th best Hall of Fame hitters in baseball history! Let's get on with the show, shall we?

#40: George Brett
Probably the greatest hitter in the history of the Royals, Brett collected 3,154 hits in 21 years in the bigs. He won the 1980 AL MVP, made 13 straight All Star games, and led KC to its first of two world championships in 1985. Fun fact: he's the only guy to get picked off after collecting his 3,000th career hit. Nonetheless, he was amazing.

#39: Paul Molitor
"The Ignitor" made seven All Star games with the Brewers and Blue Jays (and also batted .341 with the Twins in 1996 at the age of 39) and is tied with Pepper Martin for the highest lifetime World Series batting average at .418. The .306 regular season hitter broke the 3,000 hits barrier easily, finishing his career with 3,319 base knocks, good for tenth on the all-time list.

#38: Eddie Mathews
Despite being overshadowed by Hank Aaron for a majority of his career, Mathews was still one of the premier power hitters of his era. In just 17 years from 1952-1968, the Braves big bat smacked out 512 career home runs, good for an average of roughly 30 homers a season! He led the league twice in homers (47 in 1953 and 46 in 1959) and led the league in walks four times.

#37: Willie McCovey
McCovey had the same career as Mathews: lots of homers, but overshadowed by someone who will not appear on this countdown for another several weeks. McCovey is tied for 20th on the all-time home runs list with Ted Williams and Frank Thomas with 521 career dingers. McCovey led the league in homers and RBIs in back-to-back years in 1968 and 1969, winning the NL MVP in the later year. He also holds the record for the least amount of games played in a Rookie of the Year-winning campaign at only 52 games. But in those 52 games, he hit .354 with 13 homers.

#36: Jim Thome
One of the youngest and most underrated hitters on this list, Thome is the all-time leader in walk-off home runs at 13. In fact, the 500th home run of his career was a walk-off while playing for the White Sox. The all-time great with mainly the Indians collected a whopping 612 career home runs, good for eighth on the all-time list.

As always, let me know what you think of the list so far 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."

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."