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The National League Shortstop Revolution

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The National League Shortstop Revolution

Posted on 20 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Recently there has been a rush of hot new shortstops, primarily in the National League. Jean Segura, Andrelton Simmons and Didi Gregorious are the three hottest new shortstops in the majors. They have all had a bit of prospect hype surrounding them and thus far they have actually been exceeding expectations. The thing is, it is always tough to gauge skill level or future performance based on an initial small sample size. Truth be told, they are all currently hitting the ball quite well. But is this just a hot start to their respective major league careers or are the offensive numbers legit and a nice indication of things yet to come?

JeanSegura

For Segura, the primary piece the Brew Crew received in return for Zack Greinke, there were some mixed reviews at the time of the trade in regards to whether or not the Brewers got enough in return for Greinke. Here is a quick evaluation of Segura from Baseball Prospect Nation, right around the time of the Grienke trade:

“At the plate, Segura is a plus to plus-plus hitter for average with definitively good gap power. There are scouts that believe he can have fringe-average home-run power down the line, making him a high average guy with plenty of extra-base hits.”

From this evaluation and plenty of others I have seen, Segura would make a very solid top of the order hitter. There is that “fringe home-run power” suggested above, but should we have expected it this soon? Segura’s current isolated power sits at .229 thanks in part to six home-runs, while many preseason projections projected a home run range of five to ten over around four-hundred at bats. Segura had yet to post an ISO over .110 anywhere above A-ball. I would say the current .229 ISO is bound to drop, or is it? Well, yeah, it probably is, but maybe not as much as many may think. I mean, it is possible that the power, generally the last skill to develop, has arrived for Mean Jean, right? Sure, it is. I am not sold on the power just yet, but the kid can make contact, that’s for darned sure! Now Andrelton Simmons is a bit of a different story, altogether.

Simmons is a slick fielding shortstop who will flash some nice leather in the field, but as far as hitting is concerned, he is not expected to be overly spectacular. The preseason projections had a slash lines somewhere in the neighborhood of .270/.320/.377. Nothing flashy, but nothing atrocious either, especially with his glove. I, for one, felt like those slash numbers were a tad bit high. Thus far Andrelton’s slash line is .250/.294/.386. However, Simmons is heating up a bit at the plate, lately, showing some power at the plate. In May, small sample size though it is, the slash line for Simmons is .267/.283/.489 . Everything is a bit better, but hold the phone a sec, here! A .489 slugging percentage? Wow! Talk about out of character and exceeding expectations, right?! Through the end of April, Simmons had four extra base hits. Two doubles and two home runs. That was over the span of 87 at bats. In May, over 45 at bats, Simmons already has two home runs and four doubles. According to this wonderful piece by Eno Sarris over at FanGraphs Andrelton (I really do love that first name!) has been receiving hitting tips from Justin Upton, which is not a bad place to receive tips from and may also have helped launch that recent Simmons mini power surge. Now before everyone tries to go out and swindle some unsuspecting fantasy owner in a trade for Simmons, it is interesting to note that all six extra-base hits came in a four game span. In the next four games after that he was 1-16 and the one hit was a single. So, it seems a bit premature to start jumping on any Andrelton bandwagons juuuuusssst yet, unless you are expecting a child and looking for a cool baby name. What I find to be a somewhat less cooler name? Didi.

While I am not a huge fan of Didi has a guy’s name, I think Gregorious is kinda nice! Working on his nickname, I am thinking maybe the Gregorious B.I.G? Well, we can work on that later. Gregorious has come outta the gate smokin’ hot. Didi was 6-13 with 2 dingers in his first three games and he was quickly swooped up in fantasy baseball leagues all across the land. Here is Marc Hulet’s read  on Didi:

‘“a gifted fielder, [with] outstanding range, a plus arm and excellent actions.” On his hitting, Hulet added that “he gets pull happy but has some surprising pop from the left side”.    

There was nothing pointing even to a remote amount of pop from any side of the plate from Didi during is minor league stay. So has the pop arrived? It is possible, sure. I don’t think the power Didi is showing right now is gonna keep up, but he should be a solid hitter. Gregorious has three home runs thus far, but really over a full season you should only expect 10-12 home runs, at this point in his career.

So at this point, I would say, power aside, Gregorious and Segura are the real deal as far as hitting is concerned. They should both post some good XBH numbers without a ton of longballs. As far as Simmons is concerned, he is a great glove man, but not quite there at the plate. Offensively, I would say, Simmons’ has an Omar Vizquel-esque hitting numbers. So drink it in! Welcome the shortstop revolution!

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2012′s Luckiest Pitcher

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2012′s Luckiest Pitcher

Posted on 06 February 2013 by Will Emerson

I should start by saying, I cannot definitely label this pitcher the luckiest pitcher in baseball, per se. I may be just a bit too hyperbolic, but this pitcher was darned lucky on the bump in 2012 and it looks like his luckiness may be tough to beat. I  have not gone through every pitcher’s numbers from 2012 though so I can’t say with absolute certainty. Really, I haven’t! Anyways, let’s start with one of my, and I am sure your, favorite things in the whole wide world, a blind player comparison! Yay!

JeredWeaver2blur

Player A: 9.35 K/9, 3.06 FIP, 3.32 xFIP

Player B: 6.77 K/9, 3.75 FIP, 4.18 xFIP

So which pitcher would you rather have? Choose your answer wisely, grasshopper. Of course you would most likely choose Player A, but, as you are probably guessing, as with most blind player comparisons, there is a bit of a twist. So before the big reveal let’s look at a couple of, what I like to call, superficial numbers for the same two players:

Player A: 13-12,  3.01 ERA

Player B: 20-5, 2.81 ERA

So the ERAs are not monstrously far apart, but I would guess Player B would have received more Cy Young votes wouldn’t you? So who are these two pitchers? Well, here’s the big twist moment for ya….Player A is Jered Weaver in 2010 and Player B is, well, Jered Weaver….in 2013. Yes, that’s right folks, Jered Weaver had to be one of, if not the, luckiest pitchers in baseball last season.

Come on, you have to admit it is hard to argue the luck here for Jered Weaver. 20-5? 2o and frickin’ 5! With an FIP of 3.75 and a K/9 under seven you would hardly expect a sub three ERA and 20 wins. I’ve been over this before, but it bears reiterating (I think?), strikeouts per nine innings, as much as I love ‘em, are not the end all be all. However, pitchers with a low K/9 are generally crafty pitchers who keep the ball on the ground and such. Jered Weaver on the other hand? Well, he is not. Jered was inducing worm burners about 36% of the time, which is kind of low for a pitcher that is not striking guys out.  In fact, in looking even deeper into his numbers, almost 75% of batters that faced Weaver last year put the ball in play and of those balls in play close(ish) to twice as many were in the air. Generally not great percentages, so naturally Weaver would need a wee bit of luck.

Los Angeles Angles pitcher Jered  Weaver throws against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, May 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

In 2012 Weaver had a BABIP of .241, which is pretty darned low. Just for a quick comparison, the league average in 2012 was .293.  Weaver was over 50 points below the league average, in case you are not quick with the arithmetic. That number right there points to a great deal of luck on Weaver’s side. Obviously BABIP can be subjective and will not always be extremely telling, but generally you would expect a pitcher to, at some point, come back to the mean, right? Well, if anything, Weaver is getting luckier by the season, believe it or not. Weaver’s BABIP has gone down in each of the last five seasons. Take a look for your self:

2007: .312

2008: .298

2009: .278

2010: .276

2011: .250

2012: .241

Quite a unique trend Weaver has going on here. Along with the lower BABIP, his FIP has gone up each of the past two seasons as well. So is regression, in fact on the way for Weaver in 2013? It’s almost tough to say. Really, he should have a fairly large regression, but he has avoided it thus far with that 2010 ERA of 3.01 being the highest in the last three seasons, so who knows? The big question though, is what does all this mean for Weaver’s fantasy value in 2013?

The regression just has to be coming, right? It makes no worldly sense if it doesn’t, right? What I can say for sure is that I am steering clear of Jered Weaver come draft day. The  thinking being that the ERA will float closer to his FIP or xFIP in 2013, due to that BABIP coming closer to the league average. Even if it doesn’t, the high probability of this happening should be enough to scare some people away from Weaver, especially at the price you will more than likely have to pay for his fantasy services.  Fantasy services? Okay, that sounded bad, but you know what I mean. RotoChamp, for instance, has him ranked as the number nine starting pitcher (39th overall) for fantasy. It is early but, barring injury or some sort of Spring Training meltdown, I would wager that is about where he will be drafted in most leagues. I just don’t like that kind of risk, for a guy that will more or less be the de facto ace of whatever fantasy squad he is on. Then again, the luck has been with Weaver consistently and it’s not like most, or probably any, leagues have BABIP or FIP as categories. But is there more to be concerned about with Mr. Lucky than just those advanced statistics with the giant blinking arrow pointing towards regression?

Well, one thing that does count in just about every fantasy baseball league is strikeouts, where Weaver has seen a major decline over the last two seasons. While the three season sample size here could be a fluke, there are some red flags within Weaver’s numbers that lead me to think otherwise. First of all, Weaver’s swinging strike percentage has gone down each season since 2010, from 11.2% to 9.1 % to 8.5%. This could be due in part to him just not fooling hitters as much and or the second red flag…his velocity. Weaver has also been slowly losing miles per hour on his fastballs since 2010. Weaver’s average  four-seamer and cut fastball have both lost about two miles per hour from 2011 to 2012.  What’s also interesting is that his average change-up is up in velocity about a full mile per hour since 2010. So, in reality he has lost three miles per hour difference in velocity between the two pitches over the past few seasons, not a trend you like to see in a pitcher. So, what are we to make of the 2013 Jered Weaver?

Luck, good or bad, can definitely play a huge factor for many, if not all, players and the luck has certainly been on the good side for Jered Weaver. Even with the disconcerting advanced stats, he is still a viable fantasy option though, because the bottom line is he, inexplicably, posts good numbers. Somehow he is getting the job done. Maybe it has something to do with the Danny Glover/ Tony Danza vehicle Angels in the Outfield, I dunno? What I do know, is I just can’t warrant drafting him as high as he will be going this year, especially if I can wait a little longer and land a Max Scherzer or Matt Garza. I know it sounds weird to be down on a guy who finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting last season, but I just don’t have faith in Jered Weaver. There is an implosion on the way and I want to be far, far away when it happens. Now, I think I want to go watch Angels in the Outfield.

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Aaron Sele And Other Hall Of Fame Thoughts

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Aaron Sele And Other Hall Of Fame Thoughts

Posted on 14 January 2013 by Will Emerson

Oh boy. So much Hall of Fame stuff to talk about, so little time. I am not sure I have the time, or space , to fully extrapolate on all of my Hall of Fame thoughts right now, but I will do my best to get to some main points. I am not even sure I know where to start? Or end, for that matter. So my apologies if my stream of consciousness  goes on tangents that are hard to follow at times. Just, ya know, bear with me.

AaronSele

Am I surprised that no one was elected this year? No. From all of the straw polls, or whatevers, there seemed to be a general sentiment that no one would get in this year and if anyone had a chance it was Craig Biggio. Do I think it’s bad or sad that no one got in? Well, not necessarily? I think I am in an “on the fence” sort of gray area here. I understand the exclusivity of the Hall of Fame, but it seems silly that no one got in, just based on the fact that there are several players on the ballot who deserve to get in, including several who will definitely get elected at some point. So what makes their case any better one year to the next? Their statistics don’t change, right? Well, yeah, of course I am right. Hey, it happens from time to time. Really, it does. Scout’s honor! Alright, sorry, moving on. The way these statistics are looked at or which statistics are looked at can change, especially as the ballots change. As in, the votes can depend on who else is on the ballot as much as how good the players on the ballot are. What I mean is, there could be a crowded ballot of talented, Hall of Fame caliber, players on a ballot. Say, for the sake of argument, you are a voter and, for the sake of argument, the ballot you receive contains 12, maybe 15, players who, in your mind, are Hall of Famers. Okay, well you have 10 votes. So, someone is going to have to wait. But here’s the thing, how would you decide? Would you rank them by their qualifications, which seems to be the most logical? Or do you base it on how many years of Hall of Fame eligibility they have left? Or, better yet, do you base it on your personal feelings towards the player? Personally, I would use a bit from each column, I think. Truth of the matter is, I have no idea how the writers would handle this or what goes on in their heads. While this may not be the case for some writers, since some handed in empty ballots, it is some food for thought. Of course then there’s also that whole aura surrounding a first ballot Hall of Famer.

I understand that the first ballot club is something to be prided and exclusive. To get in on your first ballot you need to be the elitist of the elite, the cream of the crop, famiest of the famers. That makes perfect sense, I think?  In a way? Well let us loom on this. I mean should a person who is thought to be a Hall of Famer, not be voted for, just because he is not so great that he should be going in on his first try, as if it is a certain right of passage? Baseball, and many other sports really, but baseball more so, is a game filled with rituals, traditions, secret handshakes, inner circles, etcetera, etcetera. You know, kind of like the Stonecutters.  So while you may be thought of as a Hall of Famer, you may not be though of as the greatest of Hall of Famers. This actually made me a bit surprised that Biggio got such a high vote total, I didn’t think most writers would feel like he was a 1st balloter. Well, two of the best players of their, or maybe anyone’s, time (unless you live under a rock you know who I am talking about and it ain’t Royce Clayton or Woody Williams) were snubbed, and we all know why. Do we all understand why? I would say, yes, yes we do. They are being punished for tarnishing the sanctity of the game. The fact that we all know they will get in, makes it seem silly that they don’t get in now, right? I think most ( I said most, not all) of us can agree they were great players without the “help”, but nevertheless they will have to wait. How long? well only the writers know that I suppose. I guess the whole thing goes back to the precious “feel” that writers hold onto ever so tightly. Yep, gonna talk about that whole “feel” thing once again. Briefly. Well, briefly for me, that is.

Here’s a quick thought on feel. I think it is silly to a point. This is because there absolutely needs to be, at the very least, combination of using “feel” with using statistics, mostly of the advanced kind. Here’s my list of every player on the ballot and whether or not I feel like they are a Hall of Famer. Now, I am basing this, not on statistics, but my actual gut. I am taking away all my knowledge of any of their statistics and just gonna vote on how I felt about them and their careers as they were happening. Now, I have poured over many of their careers and stats, so you will just have to take my word on this:

Craig Biggio- Yes
Jack Morris- No
Jeff Bagwell- Yes
Mike Piazza- Yes
Tim Raines- Yes
Lee Smith- No
Curt Schilling- Yes
Roger Clemens- Yes
Barry Bonds- Yes
Edgar Martinez- Yes
Alan Trammell- No
Larry Walker- N0
Fred McGriff- No
Dale Murphy- Yes
Mark McGwire- No
Don Mattingly- Yes
Sammy Sosa- No
Rafael Palmeiro- No
Bernie Williams – N0
Kenny Lofton- No
Sandy Alomar, Jr- No
Julio Franco- No
David Wells- No
Steve Finley- No
Shawn Green- No
Aaron Sele- No
Jeff Cirillo- No
Royce Clayton- No
Jeff Conine- No
Roberto Hernandez- No
Ryan Klesko- No
Jose Mesa- No
Reggie Sanders- No
Mike Stanton- No
Todd Walker- No
Rondell White- No
Woody Williams- No

So, as you can see, I was in agreement, for the most part, with the writers. I do think  Biggio and Trammell are Hall of Famers, just never really felt that way when they were playing I guess. On the other side, I think Lofton and Bernie Williams deserve a little more conversation and with time and perspective, as much as I love him, I don’t now think Dale Murphy belongs in the Hall. But look at how many players I had as yes, just by feel. If I counted correctly, there were 11. Going by the statistical case, since Lofton and Williams deserve more consideration, you could say maybe 14-15 I think belong in the Hall, for this argument that is. Ten votes, how would I vote? Well if  I did feel Dale Murphy belonged in, he would get my vote this year, because it was his last chance. But with this, let’s bring it on back to that first ballot Hall of Famer stuff.

Does my reasoning there affect some first balloters? Sure. Look how many 1st ballot Hall of Famers I feel are Hall of Famers on this ballot. Would I not vote for ten names ( and I am okay with not submitting ten names, if you honestly do not think ten belong) , just because I didn’t feel like any first balloters deserved it? I wouldn’t, but writers do, just to keep that up on a pedestal as a holy grail for Hall of Famers. I mean it is a bit of farcical idea if you think about it, but many of the voting writers this year did vote for a fair share of 1st timers. But not seeing all the votes, although some writers do post or show their final ballots (I’m guessing who ever voted for Aaron Sele did, and will, not) we have no idea. I’m sure there are plenty of writers that did not vote for Biggio, because he didn’t feel like a first ballot Hall of Famer, but shouldn’t the crux of the argument be whether or not he is a Hall of Famer or not, period? Clearly it isn’t always the case. So when you see the final tallies, you wonder who lost one vote in favor of someone like, say, Aaron Sele. Actually in that instance, if you are like me,  you wonder how Aaron Sele got a vote at all, but I digress. We have no way of knowing, but it is possible that that voter had a slot and did not want Clemens or Bonds or any first timer in and instead, out of  bitter spite or whatever, jotted Sele’s name on his ballot.  The thinking being that there is no way this vote will be relevant. It was a safe bet that very few, if any, voters were voting for Sele, so no harm, no foul. Now again, I have no idea who that voter opted to not vote for instead of Aaron Sele, but I do know that Aaron Sele did not deserve a vote and therein lies part of the problem. Maybe that writer has a good anecdote about Sele or thought Sele was a stand-up guy and really deserved the vote. Stranger things have happened. But imagine if he was doing it as a “whatever” vote, thinking no one else would vote for Sele, so it did not matter. Now imagine, 75% of writers had a similar idea. In some sort of weird twist, Aaron Sele would be a Hall of Famer! Imagine if you heard that announced on Wednesday afternoon?! Okay, this is a ridiculous argument, I understand, because no one has to vote for ten players, but it still does not change the fact that someone voted for Aaron Sele. One more time. Aaron Sele! The voting process needs tweaking and I am not saying this because no one got elected this year, I swear. Although that does help point out to more people that said tweaking is needed.  It has needed tweaking for quite some time now.

I think Bill James has a pretty good idea on how to start the tweaking. Courtesy of Rob Neyer’s article over on SB Nation:

“In fact, Bill James was (I believe) the first significant writer to make a similar suggestion about the voting population, in The Politics of Glory (disclosure: I did a spot of work on that book). I suspect the following passage might be the most powerful in the whole 452-page book:

Let’s think for a moment about the people who can’t vote for the Hall of Fame. I can’t vote. Tony Kubek can’t vote. Tom Seaver can’t and Sparky Anderson can’t. Bob Costas can’t. Larry King can’t. Ron Santo can’t. Tommy John can’t. Keith Olbermann can’t. Ron Barr can’t. Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays can’t vote. Tom Reich can’t vote. Bobby Cox can’t. Alan and Randy Hendricks can’t. Ted Simmons and Syd Thrift can’t vote. Jack McKeon can’t. Jerry Coleman can’t. Your local radio broadcaster, who sees 162 games a year and studies the media notes for an hour before the game so he’ll know what he’s talking about — he can’t vote. Skip Caray and Don Sutton can’t vote. Harry Caray and Steve Stone can’t, either. Carlton Fisk can’t vote. Tal Smith can’t vote. Doug Harvey can’t vote. Earl Weaver can’t. Jon Miller and Joe Morgan don’t get to vote. Joe Garagiola and Yogi Berra don’t get to vote. Roger Angell can’t vote. Steve Wulf can’t vote. Craig Wright and Pete Palmer can’t vote. George Brett and John Roseboro can’t vote.

Well, pardon my asking but why the hell can’t we vote? What, none of us knows anything about baseball? Our opinions aren’t worth anything?”

Now, you will have to pardon Mr. James’ cussing at the end there, but he makes a good point. Now, as far as former players, managers and fans go, I am a little iffy on this. Not sure how the fan thing would be able to be done fairly and I feel like players and managers may have more grudges and bias than baseball writers. This, of course, would not go for all former players, but a good amount of them, I would reckon. But the idea, in essence that the voting should be expanded beyond tenured and ten-yeared (see what I did there?) baseball writers. There are plenty of other valued baseball minds that should get some input into who gets inducted into the Hall of Fame. And I feel if you are a voter and do not turn in a ballot or turn in a blank ballot, then you should lose your privilege, unless you can make a valid argument that no one on the ballot deserves a vote. Maybe not forever, but you should be penalized, I think. Hey, maybe I am the only one that feels that way, I dunno? Maybe I am the only one who thinks whomever voted for Aaron Sele should also lose their vote, but who knows? What I do know is I am gonna wrap this post up with what I think you all want to see, the players I would have voted for, in no particular order (and yes Clemens and Bonds would be off by ballot just out of spite):

Schilling, Trammell, Raines, Mattingly, Biggio, Bagwell, Piazza, E. Martinez and of course…. Aaron Sele.

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Let’s Talk About Feelings

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Let’s Talk About Feelings

Posted on 09 January 2013 by Will Emerson

Despite what the title may lead you to believe, this is not gonna be a touchy-feely, emotional, Dr.Phil-esque post. Or at least I don’t think it will be. We’ll see, I guess.

M13Dr. Phil

 

No, the feelings I am referring to in this case are those most commonly associated with evaluating someone’s value. In this case, those someones are baseball players considered for the Hall of Fame. You know what I am talking about, right? Those gut feelings that tell someone whether or not a player is a Hall of Famer. Now statistics can be poured over, analyzed, compared, etcetera, etcetera, but when there is doubt you can always think about the player and their career and ask yourself, “Did he feel like a Hall of Famer?” It is kind of the epic debate when we come down to Hall of Fame arguments. There are those who are old school and those who are new school. There are those who value your basic stats that have been around for forever and a day and those who value WAR and other Sabermetric goodies. Then there are those that will delve into every stat, every aspect of a player’s career and then there are some that will see the statistics and whatnot, but when push comes to shove, it is that gut feeling that will sway their decision.

For some, this is hard to determine, in a way. I mean, take me for instance. Now, I never saw a great deal of the current Hall of Famers play, so any “feeling” I have one way or the other on them belonging in “the Hall” is all based on stats I’ve seen and things I’ve read about them. Obviously player’s statistics and how they stack up against their colleagues of the time is always a good place to start and is really all you can go on if you have no way of seeing them play. So, for me, Hall of Fame candidates of recent years are players that I had the distinct pleasure of actually watching play the game. So, in a way, I should have a certain idea or “feeling” of whether or not they are Hall worthy, without even looking through their stats. Well, at least that is the gist of it.

Now, I’m not sure if any Hall of Fame voters, or just plain debaters, go solely on this gut feeling and I wouldn’t recommend going on solely that, but I feel there is some merit to going by “feel” here. However, with that being said, I feel like the “feel” argument or what have you, can hurt and help players. My feeling is that the “feel” argument is more often used to dismiss a player’s Hall of Fame case. I’m sure it may not work out that way. It could be 50-50, could be 70-30, but it just seems or feels like this is the argument used for players that writers deem unworthy. Although he overcame this, you have to admit that was the main qualm against Bert Blyleven making it. Bert Blyleven just didn’t feel like a Hall of Famer. For me I could see that as being valid, but by the time I was watching Blyleven he was at the end, not the prime of his career. Now that brings up another thing about this. Not only was Bert Blyleven at the end of his career as a pitcher, but I was really towards the beginning of my career as a baseball watcher, as it were, which will change perspective quite a bit. In that regard I thought it would be fun, just for a bit, to take that into consideration. What I mean is, wouldn’t it be neat (yes, I said “neat”) to look back at some players from my childhood and remember how I felt about them and their careers as I was watching them as small lad.

I mean there were some no-brainers, like Roger Clemens, Kirby Puckett, Ryne Sandberg (who also happens to be one of my favorite players of all-time) and Tony Gwynn. But then there were some,  for one reason or another, maybe they made an All-Star game appearance or two or maybe I just saw them a lot and they performed well when I did. For whatever reason these players, in my young, naive eyes, were stars to me. You ready for this list of a few guys who I felt were superstars, perhaps Hall of Fame quality, when I was just a wee little scamp? For perspective purposes, I am talking about me being between the ages of six and 12 and talking about players I now would not necessarily think (cause I have perspective and actual stats to look into) were Hall of Fame material.

Frank Viola- So really not that ridiculous I suppose, since in the years I watched him as a kid, he was pretty darned decent. From ’84-’90 he was 126- 95 with a 3.36 ERA. he threw over 250 innings in all of those seasons except for 1990 when he tossed 249.2. He won 18 plus games four times in that span and won 20 or more games twice. He finished top 6 in Cy Young voting four times, including winning the award in 1988, when he was 24-7 with a 2.64 ERA and 193 strikeouts. So maybe not so far-fetched. By Baseball-Reference standards, for whatever it is worth, Sweet Music is the 144th ranked pitcher all time. Not bad, but not quite Hall worthy and Viola, as you probably know, is not in the Hall of Fame. He received  a mere two votes on his one and only ballot, which was, coincidentally, the same amount of votes received by…

Mike Greenwell- As good as I thought Gator was as a kid, I am actually shocked, looking at his numbers and resume now, that he was actually second in the MVP voting in 1988. A career OPS of .831 is very good and he also hit over .300 five times after becoming a regular. In fact in only two of his 12 seasons did he hit less than .295 and in those seasons he was plagued by injury. He had a career .303 average, but he did not offer much more than that statistically, which is probably why he did not have much of a Hall of Fame case.

Glenn Davis- Now with good ol’ Glenn, I guess he was just likeable and I probably saw his Topps All-Star card in 1989 and thought he was, well, an All-Star. In my head I feel like he was a yearly All-Star, but he only went to two All-Star games. He was top 10 in MVP voting three times though and even 2nd in 1986. He hit 30 or more home runs in three seasons and had twenty or more dingers in his first six full seasons. Wow! So, being a kid, maybe I was not that far off. Glenn Davis had superstar qualities and stats in some areas.  But the fact is, he had a short peak and did not even play more than 106 games in any of his last four seasons. In fact, in three of those last four seasons he played in fewer than 93 games and played in only 49 games in 1991 and 30 game in 1993. From ’86-’89 thought he was a slugging superstar. Hitting 122 of his career 190 home runs in those four seasons, but outside of this, he was above average for a couple of seasons, and not so much outside of that, which really does not a Hall of Fame case make. So much, or little, so that Glenn Davis did not even appear on a Hall of Fame ballot.

Jack Clark Nicknamed Jack the Ripper, I remember him being big and menacing at the plate. Four times he finished top 10 in MVP voting, with a third place finish in 1987. He appeared in four All-Star games and could certainly slug. He hit 20 or more home runs in 11 of his 18 seasons and three times led the league in walks on his way to a career .379 on-base percentage. That, his 340 career home runs and being10th in home runs in the 80s, was not quite enough to garner him more than seven votes.

Those are just a few who, at the time, I felt were lifelong  superstars, and they did definitely have their time in the sun, but hard to say they deserved much more consideration than they got, for the Hall. Maybe other guys, like Teddy Higuera, Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon,Von Hayes or Jim Presley would have been better examples, and while I would absolutely love to drone on and on about my boyhood heroes and delve into their statistics, I will refrain (for now), as I think you get my point. Now sure, I was a kid and perception then is most assuredly different as opposed to when you are older but, although extreme, sort of shows you what I am driving at. The “feel” has it’s time and place and I won’t say it is something to completely dismiss, but I feel like it’s somewhat silly. But think about it. Look at the active players and tell me off the top of your head, who feels like a Hall of Famer. I’m guessing a large percentage of these players, barring injury or something, will end up in the Hall. Of course I am sure a fair share won’t. Conversely, I am sure that there will certainly be plenty of players that don’t feel like Hall of Famers who will also get in. Doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t deserve it though. For this reason I feel like the “feel” argument is more for that small Hall that we have already seemed to have lost a chance at, some time ago. And this will more than likely be my record for the use of the word “feel” in one post. At least I feel like it will be.

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Huh?! Really?! That Guy?!

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Huh?! Really?! That Guy?!

Posted on 08 January 2013 by Will Emerson

DaleMurphy

Well, the 2013 baseball Hall of Fame votes are in, and on January 9th we will know who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this upcoming July. Now this is certainly a big year for controversy on the ballot as the big names in the PED era are front and foremost. Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and Palmiero, to be precise and name a few. And of course Dale Murphy and Jack Morris are always good fodder for debate as they close in on their last chances. And by close in, I mean reach, in Murphy’s case. But I am not here to discuss those folks, oh no, no. You can hear plenty about them in many, many, many, many (enough manys, ya think?) other forums.  No, I am not here to talk about those fellas, I wanna look at those on the ballot who, more than likely, will not appear on another ballot ever again, because most likely less than five percent of voters will cast votes for them. Those whose names you probably forgot and when even spotting their names on the ballot may inspire a giggle, if you are the giggling type, or, at the very least a “Huh?! Really? That guy?!” because at no point in there esteemed careers did you ever consider their names being mentioned in the same sentence as the words “Hall of Fame”. Now, I could start to go off on a rant about how the word “fame” is in “Hall of Fame”, so you need to be recognized as famous to get in. But, alas, I will not go on about that ( I don’t think), but rather just dig right into the Hall of Fame cases, or lack thereof, of a few of these fellas who are not so likely to get past this year on the ballot.

Jeff Cirillo - Yes, the Jeff Cirillo! Yeah, so I am doubting anyone remembers much about Jeff’s career and may have just forgotten about him altogether. Generally that would not be a good start for making your Hall of Fame case. Cirillo’s numbers though were somewhat respectable with a career .296 batting average and .796 OPS. Great numbers? Well, no, but they are certainly respectable. Now while JC never had much pop ( just 112 career home runs) he did manage to get on base (.366 OBP) a fair share and the lack of homeruns does make that .796 OPS a bit more impressive. But here’s something you all love, a blind player comparison with a fan favorite. Okay, half blind since I already gave part of it away by showing off Cirillo’s digits. So, here we go:

Cirillo: (14 seasons) .296 BA, .366 OBP, .430 SLG, .796 OPS, 36.4 WAR (season avg 2.6)

Player B: (19 seasons) .294 BA, .329 OBP, .446 SLG, .775 OPS, 42.5 WAR (season avg 2.24)

So, who is this mystery Player B that Cirillo is so comparable to? Why that would be Steve Garvey. Now it appears that Cirillo stacks up pretty well with Garvey, of course Mr. Garvey generally had better PR, a bit more pop,  a few more paternity tests and some Gold Gloves to push him over the edge, but the WAR difference generally accounts for the defensive prowess as well. Now this is not to say I think Jeff Cirillo belongs in the Hall, because basically I am iffy on Garvey being in there to begin with, but it is interesting that people would make much more of a case for Garvey over Cirillo. If you were to just ask a random baseball fan, my guess is that they would not think Cirillo belongs in the same conversation. And really Cirillo’s other problem is he played the hot corner, and there are only 11 third basemen in the Hall of Fame. Now during his career (1994-2007), he was number six amongst major league third basemen in WAR during that time period, which is something, sort of, but his career WAR is still below that of every Hall of Fame third baseman. So, while you can play the “if-then” game, as in, “if Garvey deserves to be in, then Cirillo shouould be in”, (and it is a fun game to play, I grant you) I think it’s safe to say Mr. Cirillo will not be headed to Cooperstown any time soon. If he is even on the ballot next year it would be a bit surprising, but oddly enough he may have one of the best cases of anyone in this post.

Royce Clayton- That same surprise and astonishment could be brought about if one Mr. Royce Clayton  received the necessary five percent of the vote this year. With a 21.7 WAR over 17 seasons Royce is not likely to garner much consideration, unless his parents somehow have votes we don’t know about. Now, that being said, he actually may receive a vote somewhere for who knows what reason, cause sometimes that happens, but in my opinion, it would be a bit ludicrous if he were to receive votes. Not necessarily because he was abysmal, but even if a writer is against the PED era players, there are still probably ten other players on the ballot who would be more deserving of a vote. WAR aside, because some writers are still not on board with that sort of advanced stat malarkey, he had a career .258 batting average, which is well, not so good. He did not seem to compensate for this in any other area, as he only topped 75 RBIs twice (once was while playing for the Rockies) and had a career 935 runs and 110 home runs. His defense was very respectable it seemed, but was really not great for an extended period of time according to shortstop range factors comparitive to other shortstops of the 90s. So, while he was excellent as Miguel Tejade in Moneyball, I would really be stupefied if Royce received even two percent of the vote.

Jeff Conine- While the nickname Conine the Barbarian was pretty nifty, and Jeff is a very likeable guy and player, his numbers do not really scream, “Hall of Famer”. If I were to ask you to describe Conine’s career, you would probably say, “solid hitter with a bit of pop”, but really his pop was not super. He had 214 career dingers over 17 seasons, topping 20 just twice, although he did that in back-to-back seasons, ’95 and ’96. He definitely had the potential, after a solid first four full seasons. In those seasons, his average numbers looked like he was on his way to a fine career. From 1993-1996, these were his average numbers:  .300 BA, .849 OPS,  20 HRs, 90 RBIs. Not too shabby! If he averaged these numbers for at least three to four more seasons, perhaps there would be a but more discussion surrounding his Hall of Fame candidacy. But, sadly, after 1996 he only topped an OPS of .787 once, he only topped 17 homers once and he only had a WAR higher than 1.9 once. Nice fella, but I don’t see “the Barbarian” hanging around on the ballot past this season.

Ryan Klesko- Similar to Conine, there were early flashes in his career that pointed to large potential for quite a fruitful hitting career. He had a decent peak from 1994-2003 when he hit 243 of his career 278 homers. I think had he eclipsed the 300 home run mark, maybe he garners a bit more attention in Hall of Fame talk, but he didn’t, so he probably won’t. But it also does not help that his nearly 300 dingers came at a time when balls were leaving the parks at an astounding rate. As such, his home run total in his peak 10-year span was only good for a tie for 30th with Jeff Kent, two more than Ellis Burks and four more than Eric Karros. Much like Cirillo, I could actually almost see Klesko and his career .800 OPS garner several, yes several, votes, but 5% seems highly unlikely.

Woody Williams- Gregory Scott “Woody” Williams. He was never, what I would consider a star. He was a solid guy and good pitcher, but we are not talking about the Hall of Goodness, we are talking about the Hall of Fame. With a career war of 19.8 (using FanGraphs calculations) he was never quite studly. In fact his 18 win season in 2003 was probably the only one that would be considered his best case. That year he was 18-9 and posted a 4.2 WAR, both career bests. However, as it should be, he did not gain a one Cy Young vote that season. That could be due in large part to the rather pedestrian ERA (3.87) and WHIP (1.25) he put up. Also, only twice in his career did he throw more than 150 strikeouts and he did not exactly blow past the 150 strikeout mark in thoese seasons with totals of 151 and 153. Surprisingly though, his career adjusted ERA+ is 103, puts him in a large tie, for 578th all time. Some other names in this, not so exclusive, 103 adjusted ERA+ club, include Pete Harnisch, Juan Berenguer and Shane Reynolds, none of which scream anything close to Hall of Fame picthers. For the record, Jack Morris, he had a career adjusted ERA+ of 105, just sayin’. Neither number is considered brilliant and as much as plain old ERA is a flawed stat, should a starting pitcher with an ERA over four be considered for the Hall? Not in my humble opinion.

Aaron Sele- Much like Gregory Scott up there, there is not much of a case for Aaron Sele receiving Hall votes. The most precious of starter numbers, for certain writers, wins, does not help Aaron’s case much. He notched 148 in his career, far from any sort of milestone. Now his career winning percentage of .569 is not too shabby, but really, the wins and losses are not the best indicator in my mind. He did have a fair run from 1996-2001, or so it would seem. This was his WAR heyday where he went 89-58. However his ERA in that same span, was nothing glamorous at 4.59 and only in 2001 did he have a WHIP below 1.24 and only in two of those seasons was his WHIP below 1.50.  For his career he had  a 4.61 ERA, 5.20 xFIP, 1.49 WHIP,  4 seasons of 15 or more wins, a sub 4 ERA four times and topped 137 Ks just twice. Three of those sub four ERAs were in in his first 3 seasons in the bigs, once in which he only appeared six times. So bottom line, Aaron Sele should be happy to just be nominated.

Jose Mesa-  Now I guess if you are someone looking to make a case for Mesa, you could point to his 321 saves. There has not really been a saves milestone or benchmark for the Hall of Fame status like, say  3,000 hits or 300 wins, but 300 saves is a decent number to start.  And in that regard, those 321 saves by Mesa are good for 14th all-time, which sounds somewhat meaningful, but saves, as you may or may not know, are a bit arbitrary and something of a fickle stat. Now no current closers who have not already surpassed the 300 saves (see Rivera, Mariano) are really close to that 300 mark. Does that make Jose a Hall of Famer? Some, not me, could make that point, I guess. his 1995 season (46 saves, 1.13 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and an 8.2 K/9) did earn him a 2nd place finish in the Cy Young vote, but he never received votes in any other season. But look at some other factors. Mesa posted a WAR over two, just twice in his career and in 15 of his 19 seasons in the bigs he had a WAR of 1.5 or lower. Yikes!  Not to mention his 3.95 ERA as a reliever is tied for Tood Jones for the worst ERA among the top 20 in career saves and the highest of any picther with over 300 saves. The next lowest? 3.42. Not really even close.  And as far as the 300 save club goes, only Jason Isringhause has a lower career WAR as a reliever. And Mesa’s career WHIP? Let’s just say his WHIP is not even among the top 700 qualifying relievers over his career. The saves are nice in a way, but not sure Mesa has one left to save him from being bounced off of the Hall of Fame ballot (see what I did there?).

Roberto Hernandez- When I actually saw a Roberto Hernandez on the Indians in 2012, there was this small glimmer of hope that this was the Roberto Hernandez. Alas, it was not. In any event, Hernandez is in the same boat as Mesa. Well, he is in a similar boat, in the same stream, maybe. Like Mesa, any sort of case for Hernandez is most likely based on his career save total. His 326 career saves puts him just above Mesa on the all-time list, at 13th. Hernandez was slightly better than Mesa when you look at the whole career. An ERA almost a run lower than Mesa and a WAR about 2 higher than Mesa. But let’s see what happens when he is stacked up against say, Bruce Sutter. Roberto’s ERA is almost a run higher and trails by about 7 in WAR. Hernandez did twice finish in the top 10 in Cy Young voting, but neither time higher than 6th and those, not so coincidentally, were also the years of his only two All-Star appearances. I mean, I guess you could make some sort of an argument for Mesa and Hernandez staying on the ballot, but as much as the stats tell us they probably don’t belong in Cooperstown, unless they are on vacation and taking a tour of the Ommegang brewery, you could also use that other trusted argument of “feel”. For you other folks who are not into advanced stats and such, ask yourselves this, did Jose Mesa or Roberto Hernandez ever “feel” like Hall of Famers? My guess, is most would answer in the negative.

So there you have it! A look at some players on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot who most likely will not make make another appearance on said ballot. But, hey sometimes it is an honor just to be nominated.

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