The Usual Rotisserie Suspects

 

fantasyillo-ricig

With the original “Rotisserie League Baseball” book having been published in 1984, some of us are coming up on our 34th year of auction drafts in the Spring of 2017. Almost everything has changed for the Fantasy player since those days of the analytic pioneers, but one trait has remained constant. My attendance at over 70 of these soirees indicates that while the people around the table have changed, the personalities haven’t.

 

As with “Dragnet”, the names have been changed to protect the innocent, but you should recognize some of these types from your own league.

 

> “The Hypester” – Not to be confused with a “hipster”, this guy automatically buys into all the hype he reads about minor league prospects, rookies, refugees and players from the Pacific Rim. If you told him confidentially to look for a Korean phenom named Sum Yung Guy, he’d probably bid on him. This guy drafted Candy Maldonado in the 80’s, Kevin Maas in the 90’s and Domonic Brown a few years ago. He also owns a Joe Charboneau baseball card.

 

> “The Limited” – Not to be confused with a train, this player is literally stuck at the station. He’s created some guidelines for the bidding process and doesn’t have the courage to go beyond his set values. Invariably, he’s the next-to-last bidder on numerous players and ends up leaving money on the table. In poker, this guy is defined as “tight passive” and can be bluffed out of the hand.

 

> “The Smart Ass” – This smirking fellow has figured out that the game is supposed to be entertainment and his goal is to bring out a player obscure enough to be unknown to half the league…and the other half doesn’t even want to bid. It doesn’t matter because he relishes the moment when people are scrambling through their paperwork to locate the bum. We once had an opposing player turn to his partner and say, “Keep bidding until I find the guy”. The Smart Ass is willing to have a nobody on his roster in order to bask in the glory of that remark.

 

> “We Are Family” – This team owner “becomes as one” with the players he drafts. As soon as a player is rostered on his squad, he no longer refers to them by their last name. During the season, he talks about “Von”, “Glenn” & “Rick” as if they’re all foster children who have been taken into his home. Their injuries impact him on an emotional level and approaching him about a trade is a waste of time.

 

> “The Pencil Breaker” – This is the well-organized, methodical man who has worked diligently on his plan. The issue at the table is that everyone’s strategy is usually blown-up in the first half-hour and the words “flexible” and “spontaneous” aren’t in his vocabulary. So, he allocated $18 for any one of three Shortstops and after they all go to other teams for over $20, he can be seen breaking pencils in frustration.

 

> “The Paper Pusher” – In the early days of this pastime before magazines & websites gave us player projections, this player was too lazy to do any real homework and would come to the table with a small piece of paper that had three or four names. His goal was to draft those players, no matter the cost. He could always be seen during the last three hours of the proceedings looking through the Baseball Register trying to find warm bodies to fill those eight $1 spots left on his roster. He never contended, but he would always ruin everyone else’s strategy. This is the twin brother of the gambler who hits 17 at the Blackjack table and makes sure the dealer doesn’t bust.

 

> “The Homer” – In a league based in Southern California, you can assume there will be a certain inflation factor for Dodger & Angel players due to the constant barrage of information. This fellow, however, is a fan of a particular team and has never been able to separate himself from that connection. His opponents know that they can always get an extra dollar of his budget spent on that player from the Red Sox or (insert the team of your choice). In addition, his level of interest in that team assures the fact that he’s reading about them in March and he becomes a mini-version of the “Hypester”.

 

> “The Enforcer” – Not to be confused with “Dirty Harry” Callahan, this is the person who feels a moral obligation to make sure no other team gets a bargain. If they sense a lull in the bidding for a decent player, they will jump in with a bid at the last moment even if that player isn’t a good fit on their team. This type of strategy will almost never succeed, but is guaranteed to always aggravate. The first cousin of the guy who plays every hand at the poker game.

 

> “The Math Minor” – Managing your money at the table is a necessity. Budgeting certain amounts for positions and/or categories gives you the best chance to win. This guy, however, essentially has no plan and just bids by the seat-of-his pants. An example would be having only one pitching spot left open and getting into a bidding war over a rotation ace when his team has no offense. This is the team that might spend 50% of their budget on pitching and then wonder why they ended up with so many back-up outfielders.

 

> “The Know-It-All” – This fellow may be a good player, but he is only tolerated by the other members of the league. They’re not concerned with his success, only with his attitude. He has no patience for anyone who doesn’t know that Josh Bell had only 16 appearances at OF and, therefore, only qualifies as a 1B. When opponents are slow to nominate player’s names late in the day, he shows his frustration, as if he has somewhere important to go. The truth is, he has nowhere to go because he doesn’t have any friends.

 

> “The Vacillator” – If you’ve played in the same league for a succession of years, you certainly understand that thinking you can contend every year is a fool’s game. If your keeper list is weak a season following a championship, then rebuilding might be part of your thought process. This player knows all that, but gets caught up in the exhilaration of the Draft and starts rostering players that don’t fit his strategy. For example, if you’re in a NL or AL only league, maybe he shouldn’t be taking players who will be free agents next year. This also applies to rebuilding teams who find themselves in the first division in May and change course (and make trades) because they’re fooled by stats that represent only 30% of the season. Usually, by the All-Star break, reality has bitten them in the posterior and they no longer have those young building blocks they acquired at the table.

 

We’ll call our league the “Keyser Soze” Invitational and there you have 11 examples of the kind of opponents you might encounter. If you’re the 12th team, there’s a name of you too…”The Winner”.

 

 

 

 

The Hall of Fame in 2025

In our community, we have a very active and enthusiastic sports interest group. Headed up by a retired New York City schoolteacher, who is also the world’s biggest Giants fan, we’ve been fortunate enough to have visits from Fergie Jenkins, Josh Hamilton, Matt Williams, Hall of Fame Baseball Executive Roland Hemond and dozens of other sports luminaries. Each Spring, as our homage to Spring Training and the new baseball season, we host a baseball panel discussion on a particular topic. In the past, we’ve reviewed the “Golden Age of Baseball” (the 50’s & 60’s), debated the Hall of Fame, previewed the upcoming season, rated the top ten players at each position, reviewed the ten greatest teams of all time and discussed All-Star teams by decade. This time, we looked into the future to see what major league baseball would look like in the year 2025.

 

Earlier this week in front of an enthusiastic audience, the other two panelists tackled the outlook of the DH moving forward and how technology might be utilized in the next decade. My responsibility was to see what the crystal ball has in store for the Hall of Fame. Here are my notes from the presentation…

 

DETERMINING HALL OF FAME RESULTS IS NEVER EASY AND THE PROOF IS THAT IN 1994, BILL JAMES PREDICTED BRETT BUTLER, JOE CARTER, DAVID CONE, DWIGHT GOODEN, JUAN GONZALEZ, JIM KAAT, AL OLIVER, STEVE GARVEY, DALE MURPHY, JACK MORRIS, DON MATTINGLY, JACK MCDOWELL, FRED MCGRIFF, DAVE PARKER, TED SIMMONS, LEE SMITH, RUBEN SIERRA, ALAN TRAMMELL & LOU WHITAKER WOULD ALL GET ELECTED TO THE HALL OF FAME BY 2019…NONE HAVE MADE IT YET.

 

SO, IT SEEMS LIKE A DAUNTING TASK FOR SOMEONE TO TRY AND PREDICT THE HALL OF FAME MOVING FORWARD. LUCKILY, I’M ACQUAINTED WITH A LOCAL RESIDENT WHO HAS A DELOREAN SPORTS CAR JUST LIKE THE ONE IN “BACK TO THE FUTURE”. LAST WEEK, WE WENT FOR A SPIN AND ONCE THE CAR GOT UP TO 88 MILES PER HOUR, WE WERE TRANSPORTED TO 2025. I STOPPED IN TO ONE OF THE THREE BOOKSTORES LEFT IN AMERICA AND PICKED UP A SPORTS ALMANAC. SO, EVERYTHING IN THIS PRESENTATION IS FACT, NOT JUST CONJECTURE. AND, IF YOU BELIEVE THAT, SEE ME AT THE END OF THE EVENING BECAUSE I HAVE A BRIDGE FOR SALE.

 

WHILE MANY IN THIS AUDIENCE ARE “OLD SCHOOL” BASEBALL FANS, THE REALITY IS THAT TODAY’S BASEBALL WRITERS DEPEND NOT ONLY ON THEIR EYES, BUT ALSO ON ANALYTICS. FOR INDIVIDUAL PLAYERS, “WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT” IS NOW A MAINSTREAM STATISTIC. IT MEASURES THE VALUE OF A PLAYER BASED ON HOW MANY MORE GAMES A TEAM MAY WIN WITH THAT PLAYER INSTEAD OF A BENCH PLAYER OR MINOR LEAGUER. THE MVP WINNERS EACH SEASON ARE USUALLY ONE OF THE BEST IN THIS CATEGORY AND LIFETIME “WAR” IS ALSO A FACTOR FOR HOF VOTES. ONCE A PLAYER GETS TO A CAREER NUMBER OF 60 OR MORE, HE GAINS ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATION. THIS YEAR’S INDUCTEES ARE EXAMPLES…JEFF BAGWELL GOT IN ON HIS 7TH TRY WITH A WAR OF 79.6, TIM RAINES GOT IN ON HIS 10TH (AND FINAL) BALLOT AND HAS A WAR OF 69.1, WHILE IVAN RODRIGUEZ BECAME A FIRST BALLOT HOF WITH 68.4. THIS GAUGE ISN’T AN END ALL, BUT IT DOES HELP SUMMARIZE A PLAYER’S CAREER CONTRIBUTION.

 

WITH THAT BACKGROUND, LET’S ANALYZE TWO DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF PLAYERS AS WE LOOK TOWARD THE YEAR 2025.

 

 

#1 HALL OF FAME – WHICH RETIRED PLAYERS WILL BE IN THE HALL OF FAME BY 2025?

 

> CURRENTLY ON THE BALLOT

 

* TREVOR HOFFMAN ONLY MISSED THE HALL BY 1% IN 2017 AND IS LIKELY TO GET IN NEXT YEAR…BY THE NATURE OF THE STAT, RELIEF PITCHERS DON’T ACCUMULATE BIG WAR NUMBERS AND HE’S AN EXAMPLE WITH 28.4. GOOSE GOSSAGE HAD 41.8 AND BRUCE SUTTER ONLY HAD 24.5. DENNIS ECKERSLEY ACCUMULATED 62.5 WAR BUT HE WAS A STARTING PITCHER FOR ALMOST HALF OF HIS CAREER.

 

* VLADIMIR GUERRERO RECEIVED 71.7% IN HIS FIRST YEAR OF ELIGIBILITY WILL PROBABLY JOIN THE HALL IN 2018…HIS WAR IS 59.3

 

* EDGAR MARTINEZ GOT 58.6% IN HIS 8TH SEASON ON THE BALLOT AND HE MIGHT GET ENOUGH VOTES IN 2019, HIS LAST TIME ON THE BALLOT (SIMILAR TO TIM RAINES IN 2017)…THE WAR NUMBER IS 68.3

 

* ROGER CLEMENS AND BARRY BONDS BOTH ENDED UP WITH 54% THIS YEAR. THE BIAS AGAINST “PED” GUYS SEEMS TO BE SLOWING DOWN AS THE VOTERS GET YOUNGER AND THE OLDTIMERS ARE ELIMINATED. THE BEST GUESS IS THAT THEY COULD BOTH GET IN AS PART OF THE 2020 CLASS…IT WOULD BE THE 8TH YEAR ON THE BALLOT FOR BOTH.

 

* MIKE MUSSINA WAS AT 52% THIS TIME IN HIS 4TH TRY AND THE NUMBERS SHOULD CONTINUE TO GO UP…WE’LL SAY 2021 IS HIS YEAR TO CROSS THE 75% THRESHOLD. HIS WAR NUMBER OF 83 IS VERY IMPRESSIVE.

 

* CURT SCHILLING IS AT 45% IN HIS 5TH YEAR OF ELIGIBILITY AND SOME FEEL HE’LL GET IN EVENTUALLY…MANY THINK HE IS THE EQUAL OF MUSSINA DUE TO HIS POST-SEASON RECORD AND HIS WAR IS SIMILAR AT 79.9. IT SEEMS, HOWEVER, THAT HIS MOUTH AND CONTROVERSIAL COMMENTS COULD KEEP HIM FROM GETTING IN.

 

 

> NEW TO THE BALLOT IN 2018

 

* CHIPPER JONES SEEMS TO BE A FIRST-BALLOT “NO DOUBTER” WITH A 84.6 WAR.

 

* JIM THOME WILL RECEIVE IMMENSE SUPPORT AND WILL PROBABLY BE ELECTED BY 2019….HIS WAR IS 68.9.

 

* OTHER NEW ADDITIONS WILL CLOG THE BALLOT AND INCLUDE SCOTT ROLEN, ANDRUW JONES, JOHAN SANTANA, JOHNNY DAMON & OMAR VIZQUEL

 

> NEW TO THE BALLOT IN 2019

 

* MARIANO RIVERA WAS THE BEST EVER AT HIS SPECIALITY AND WILL APPROACH A RECORD PERCENTAGE DESPITE A 39.7 WAR…GRIFFEY HOLD THE RECORD AT 99.3%.

 

* ROY HALLADAY, TODD HELTON, ANDY PETTITTE & LANCE BERKMAN ALSO BECOME ELIGIBLE

 

> NEW TO THE BALLOT IN 2020

 

* DEREK JETER IS ANOTHER FIRST BALLOT LOCK AND WILL GARNER A HUGE PERCENTAGE…FOR THE RECORD, HIS WAR IS 71.7.

 

* OTHER CANDIDATES INCLUDE BOBBY ABREU, JASON GIAMBI & CLIFF LEE.

 

> NEW TO THE BALLOT IN 2021

 

* TIM HUDSON, MARK BUERHLE & TORII HUNTER TOP THE LIST BUT NONE SEEM TO HAVE THE CREDENTIALS.

 

> NEW TO THE BALLOT IN 2022

 

* DAVID ORTIZ COULD GET IN ON THE FIRST BALLOT, ESPECIALLY IF DH EDGAR MARTINEZ IS ALREADY  IN THE HALL…HIS WAR IS ONLY 50.5 DUE TO THE DH FACTOR.

 

* ALEX RODRIGUEZ WILL ALSO BE ELIGIBLE BUT HIS RECORD OF MULTIPLE OFFENSES WON’T BE OVERLOOKED…AND NOW THAT HE’S DATING JENNIFER LOPEZ, SHE WON’T GET MANY VOTES EITHER.

 

ANOTHER FACTOR BETWEEN NOW AND 2025 WILL BE THE RESULTS FROM THE NEW “TODAY’S GAME” COMMITTEE. THE DISCUSSION ON PLAYERS LIKE JACK MORRIS, ALAN TRAMMELL, DICK ALLEN AND DWIGHT EVANS MIGHT BUBBLE UP ONCE AGAIN…12 OF 16 VOTES ARE NEEDED FOR INDUCTION.

 

 

 

 

#2 HALL OF FAME – WHICH CURRENTLY ACTIVE PLAYERS WILL BE HALL OF FAMERS?

 

> THESE PLAYERS WILL NOT BE IN THE HALL BY 2025 UNLESS THEY RETIRE IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS, BUT WE CAN SPECULATE WHO WILL MAKE THE HALL IF WE’RE HAVING THIS DISCUSSION IN EIGHT YEARS.

 

* ICHIRO SUZUKI WILL BE A FIRST BALLOT INDUCTEE IN 2024 IF HE PLAYS TWO MORE SEASONS…3,000+ HITS AND TEN CONSECUTIVE GOLD GLOVES MAKE THE CASE…HIS WAR IS CURRENTLY 59.9.

 

* ADRIAN BELTRE WILL SURPASS 3,000 HITS THIS YEAR, HAS 445 HR’S AND FIVE GOLD GLOVES AS WELL AS A WAR OF 90.2…FIRST BALLOT IN 2025?

 

* ALBERT PUJOLS’ CONTRACT RUNS THROUGH 2021 AND HE ALREADY HAS 591 HR’S,  2,800+ HITS, THREE MVP’S AND A 101.1 WAR…95%+ IN 2027?

 

* ROBINSON CANO HAS PLAYED 12 SEASONS AND JUST HAD ONE OF HIS MOST PRODUCTIVE YEARS IN 2016…HE’LL PROBABLY BE CONSIDERED ONE OF THE TEN BEST 2B IN HISTORY. HIS WAR IS AT 62.4 AND HE’S STILL IN HIS PRIME.

 

* MIGUEL CABRERA WOULD PROBABLY BE ELECTED ON WHAT HE HAS DONE ALREADY (446 HR’S, 2,500+ HITS, TWO MVP’S, TRIPLE CROWN, 69.6 WAR) AND HIS CONTRACT RUNS THROUGH 2023.

 

* IF MIKE TROUT PERFORMS THE SAME WAY OVER THE NEXT FIVE SEASONS THAT HE HAS FOR HIS FIRST FIVE SEASONS, HE COULD BE A HALL OF FAME LOCK BY THE TIME HE’S 30. THINK ABOUT THIS…HE’S FINISHED 1ST OR 2ND IN THE MVP VOTING FOR ALL FIVE YEARS OF HIS CAREER AND ALREADY ACCUMULATED A WAR OF 48.5.

 

* SPEAKING OF YOUNGER GUYS, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CAREER PATHS OF BUSTER POSEY, MAX SCHERZER, CLAYTON KERSHAW, MADISON BUMGARNER. JOSE ALTUVE & JOEY VOTTO MIGHT LOOK LIKE IN 2025?

 

AND, OF COURSE, THE HALL OF FAME ISN’T JUST FOR PLAYERS…MAYBE BRUCE BOCHY & TERRY FRANCONA IN THE COURSE OF TIME?

 

IT’S ALWAYS A GREAT DISCUSSION BECAUSE IF EVERY PERSON IN THIS ROOM HAD A BALLOT, YOU CAN BET THAT NO TWO WOULD BE ALIKE.

Drook Panel 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Just Might Be A Fantasy Baseball Player

Hedley

As Hedley Lamarr (or maybe Chase Headley) once said, “My mind is aglow with whirling, transient nodes of thought careening through a cosmic vapor of invention.” So, with Spring Training upon us, and with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy –

 

> If the sign in the supermarket said “Rotisserie Chicken” and it caused you to not spend that extra dollar on groceries, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re more interested in Hunter Renfroe than Hunter Renfrow, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Marc Rzepczynski’s nickname is “Scrabble”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your elbow was fine but you decided to have Tommy John Surgery to see how long the rehab takes, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Coco Crisp hasn’t been hit by a pitch since 2011 (over 2,700 plate appearances), you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the fact that only Sandy Koufax could help your pitching stats causes you to always use 32-second intervals cooking food in the microwave, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your neighbor brags about his 4×4 and you reply by saying you prefer 5×5, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Padres infielder’s nickname should be “Jumbo” Schimpf, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re acquainted with “Lenny The Legend”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Danny Santana, Domingo Santana, Ervin Santana & Johan Santana, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you invited Brandon Phillips to stay in your guest room and he invoked his 10 & 5 rights, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Ahchoo was a man in tights and Shin-Soo Choo is a man in stirrups, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve ever hacked into the Astros’ computer system, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know it’s d’Arnaud and not D’Arnaud, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that the Brewers have a prospect who has a first name of “Brett” and a middle name of “Maverick”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think there’s a chance that Mallex Smith could be a distant relative of “Suitcase” Simpson, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Cam Bedrosian’s Father was once the closer on your team, you just might be a veteran Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Cristhian Adames & Willy Adames, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re walking through the woods when someone yells “Snake” and you yell back “I prefer Auction”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the whereabouts of Dariel Alvarez, Dario Alvarez, Henderson Alvarez, Jose Alvarez & Pedro Alvarez, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you told your fiancé that you’re willing to marry her but that you want an opt-out after two years, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If someone refers to a girl as a “Keeper” and you ask if she qualifies at more than one position, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you were offered a part-time job with a salary of $17,200 but turned it down because you thought you were worth $30,000, then went crawling back to the original company and they gave you $18,000 so you wouldn’t like an idiot to your co-workers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you believe that Chris Archer was the best 9-game winner in baseball, you just might a Fantasy player.

 

> If the team names “Okrent Fenokees”, “Sklar Gazers”, “Cary Nations” & “Pollet Burros” are familiar to you, you just might be a long-time Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re philosophical about the playing time for Socrates Brito, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think the best thing about the Super Bowl is that it’s the last Football game of the season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Homer Bailey has the worst first name for a Pitcher, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re hoping that Jett Bandy will be a stealth pick at your draft, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the whereabouts of Kyle Crick, Kyle Elfrink, Kyle Blanks, Kyle Gibson, Kyle Hendricks and Kyle Kendrick, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve ever used the word “Eh” in a conversation with Tim McLeod, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you watch a movie that stars Ben Kingsley and you’re motivated to check Trace Wood’s Long Gandhi website, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think the Mayo Clinic is where Jonathan spends the off-season looking at minor-league video, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think “Black Magic Woman” is only a song by the wrong Carlos Santana, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that a Barcalounger is a chair and a Barraclough is a set-up guy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your podiatrist diagnoses you with a callous and it causes you to wonder if Jim has finished the top 100 prospect list yet, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve signed a petition to have Bill James’ countenance added to Mt. Rushmore, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you went to farmersonly.com to look for a scouting report on Buck Farmer, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the term “Pleskoff Prospect” is meaningful to you, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you realize that Wily Peralta’s name is not pronounced the same as Wile E. Coyote’s name, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you see graffiti that says “Jesus Is The Answer” and you wonder if the question is, “Who Is Matty & Felipe’s Brother?”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Schoop is pronounced “Scope”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Noah Syndergaard added 15-20 pounds of upper body mass during the off-season and you added 15-20 pounds of lower body mass during the off-season, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you clearly know that Lazarito is not a villain in the next Marvel super-hero movie, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you believe that Wilin, Welington, Dioner and Yasmani are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re secure in the fact that you’ll never run into Steve Clevenger at a civil rights rally, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re having dinner at a Morton’s Steakhouse and immediately wonder about the condition of Charlie’s hamstring, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve applied for one of the new Visas to Cuba, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are secure in the fact that Lord Zola is not a character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your girlfriend’s name is Betty Jo but you’ve started calling her Melvin, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your employer uses a company called ADP to process payroll and your paycheck causes you to wonder if you can get a quality Closer in Round 7, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are aware that both Mookie Betts and John Burkett have bowled perfect 300 games, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If it is no surprise to you that Kris Davis hit more Home Runs than Chris Davis, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Joe is “Mauer” and Brandon is “Maurer”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Kevin Quackenbush should pitch for the Long Island Ducks, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If none of your friends would even consider tuning in to “Mad Dog” Russo, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Hunter Dozier, Hunter Renfroe, Brian Dozier, Bryan Morris & Hunter Morris, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you drafted Justin Verlander just to keep Kate Upton happy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re sure that Pete Seeger, Bob Seger, Kyle Seager & Corey Seager are all talented, you just might be a folk / rock Fantasy player.

 

> if you know that Rougned Odor has a ball-playing Brother who is also named Rougned Odor, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Starlin, Alcides, Adeiny & Asdrubal are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If something tells you that Zack Godley & David Goforth should be pitching for the same team, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know how to spell Oberholtzer, Foltynewicz, Tropeano, Scheppers, Tepesch, Pierzynski, Nieuwenhuis & Szczur, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If a conversation with Jason Collette would be more interesting than one with Toni Collette, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you ponder whether Brad Hand has ever watched video of Rollie Fingers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the kids are watching “Kung Fu Panda” and you think the lead character should lose weight, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Bo Bichette is Dante’s son and was named after Bo Jackson, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you believe that the new “Rotoman” Superhero action movie will be in 3-D, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you see that the White Sox 3B has a Spring injury and you start yelling “down goes Frazier”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you wonder why the Mexican restaurants in Kansas City don’t serve Moose Tacos, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that meeting Billy Beane would be more exciting than meeting Brad Pitt, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Ryan Wheeler, Tim Wheeler, Zelous Wheeler & Zach Wheeler, you’re definitely a Fantasy player.

 

> If Ron Shandler has replaced James Patterson as your favorite author, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve changed your name from Mike to Giancarlo, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the song “Camptown Ladies” makes you think of Lucas Duda, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If someone tells you they live on Huston St. and you immediately think about Saves, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Jon Gray’s ERA in Denver was lower than Sonny Gray’s in Oakland, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Jarred Cosart, Kaleb Cowart and Zack Cozart, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your wife isn’t concerned about you visiting Asian websites because she knows you’re scouting baseball prospects, you are obviously a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re not sure Yoenis Cespedes is worth $110 Million, but you’re sure he’s worth at least $25, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Yovani, Aroldis, Ubaldo, Jhoulys, Odrisamer & Anibal are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you see the movie “Platoon” and immediately start thinking about Cameron Maybin & Ben Revere, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the stats of John Smiley and Drew Smyly, you just might be a long-time Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Dane, Eury, Jorge & Rubby are all named De La Rosa, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know more quotes from Dylan Bundy than from Al Bundy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the total bill every time you shop at Costco is $260, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If the Devo song “Whip It” comes on the radio and you think about a pitcher’s ratio, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Ian Kinsler, Ryan Braun, Scott Feldman, Trevor Rosenthal, Alex Bregman, Joc Pederson, Kevin Pillar & Craig Breslow are all on your team, you just might be a Jewish Fantasy player.

 

> If the names Leonys, Taijuan, Kolten, Rymer & Xander are familiar to you, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your only link to opera is that you once saw Alfredo Figaro pitch, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Steve Moyer has better velocity than Jamie Moyer, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think the movie “Ender’s Game” is a documentary about Inciarte getting an extension from the Braves, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Stolmy, Josmil, Mauricio, Yorvit & Koyie are all spelled correctly, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If your Zen Master plays a guitar, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Yuniesky spells it “Betancourt” and Christian spells it “Bethancourt”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are in possession of the MRI on Garrett Richards’ elbow,  you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you absolutely hate it when Managers decide to give their closers some work in non-save situations, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you drive all the way to Las Vegas in March to see Greg Ambrosius, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you bruise your knuckles and immediately think about R.A. Dickey, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Brett Gardner could be related to Steve Gardner, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Brian Kenny is the smartest guy on MLB Network, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> On a related note, if Harold Reynolds drives you bonkers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think Perry is a better Capt. Hook than Christopher Walken or Dustin Hoffman, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Ryan Mountcastle is not a character from a British movie, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Boog Powell was secretly an Alou brother but didn’t want to be called “Boog Alou”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you are perfectly clear on the fact that “Saltalamacchia” is not tonight’s special at that upscale Italian restaurant, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’re excited about Ian Desmond’s’s new altitude, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you plan on drafting both Taijuan Walker & Jameson Taillon so your squad has a “Taijuan Taillon Rotation”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think twice when you hear the name Matt Duffy, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you have zero interest in the members of the Rockies starting rotation, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you go to a seafood restaurant and can’t bring yourself to order the (Mike) Trout, (Tim) Salmon, (Anthony) Bass, (Mike) Carp, Catfish (Hunter) or (Bobby) Sturgeon, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the difference between Clay Aiken and Brady Aiken, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If someone you know names their son Rajai and you assume the kid will be fast, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Doug Dennis is funnier than most stand-up comics on HBO, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you wonder how a prospect with the name Carter Kieboom could only hit 4 Home Runs, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If a politician brings up the topic of inflation and you wonder why he isn’t also concerned with position scarcity, you just might be a keeper-league Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve never forgiven Barbara Hershey for shooting Roy Hobbs, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Brian Feldman has ever been your auctioneer, you just might be an expert-level Fantasy player.

 

> If have zero interest in middle relievers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Joe Montana was a football player but also know that Steve Nebraska was a baseball player, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you suffer a personal injury and call Rick Wilton for a diagnoses, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Tyler Flowers could be related to Ray Flowers, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that the term “Elvis Has Left the Building” means the Rangers Shortstop hit a Home Run, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know that Jean Segura, Dee Gordon, Dayan Viciedo & Didi Gregorious are not females, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you and your wife exchanged dollar figures but still ended up going to arbitration, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Jeff Erickson is your favorite radio personality, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you meet someone named Roberto but keep calling him Fausto, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you believe that Jhonny Peralta’s long-term contract with the Cardinals caused Brian Walton to change his name to “Bhrian”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think that Bartolo Colon is the first player to report to Spring Training “in the worst shape of his life”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you know the true identities of CarGo, LoMo, K-Rod, J-Roll, J-Up & V-Mart, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you’ve ever tried to buy something with “Patton Dollars”, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you offered your girlfriend a qualifying offer but she still opted for free agency, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If someone uses the term “Wise Guy” and you think of Gene McCaffrey instead of Joe Pesci, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you went clubbing with Yasiel Puig in Oklahoma City, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If Jeff Winick represented you in salary arbitration, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> If you think a “Sale Price” is getting Chris for less than $25, you just might be a Fantasy player.

 

> And, finally, if Draft Day is your favorite day of the year, you have become a true Fantasy player.

 

 

Revising Your Bucket List

sidd-finch

For those of you under the age of 50, the name George Plimpton might not be that familiar. If, however, you were coming of age in the 60’s, the late author and editor was consistently in the limelight of pop culture and sports. Long before the idea of “Fantasy” sports, his books and articles were unique in that he invented a genre known as “participatory journalism”. He used his connections and celebrity to take part as an amateur in professional sporting and entertainment events and then shared the experience with his readers in books and magazines. For old-school Rotisserie Baseball players, we even have him to thank for “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch” written for Sports Illustrated in 1985.

 

A few years ago, PBS aired a wonderful documentary on his life and it brought back so many memorable moments from his career. In the final segment, however, his son read a list of items from Plimpton’s “Bucket List” including one about learning to throw a knuckleball. That exercise struck me as a little strange because if there was ever someone who spent their life living out a “Bucket List”, it was George Plimpton. After all, he got in the boxing ring with Light-Heavyweight Champion Archie Moore, he pitched to Willie Mays at the All-Star Game, he played Quarterback in training camp for the Detroit Lions (creating the best-selling book “Paper Lion”), he was in goal for the Boston Bruins in an exhibition game against the Flyers (stopping Reggie Leach on a penalty shot) and suited up for the Boston Celtics. As if sports weren’t enough to fill his life, he was also close friends with most of the great writers of the era and part of the inner circle of the Kennedy family. The one participatory event in his life that he never chronicled in print was the fact that he pried the gun from the hand of Sirhan Sirhan after Robert Kennedy was shot.

 

At a certain point in your life, creating a “Bucket List” will be a natural phenomenon. And, if you’re a sports fan, many of the items will be self-explanatory. “Visit Augusta in Early April” might not mean much to some people, but it’s a clear goal to many. With all that being said, unless you’re Morgan Freeman and end up sharing a hospital room with multi-millionaire Jack Nicholson, you probably won’t put a check-mark next to a significant number of items on your list. In thinking about Plimpton’s list, maybe a better exercise is to review how many wonderful moments we’ve experienced up to now and not dwell so much on the ones not yet achieved. So, if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to challenge each of you to make up a list of the items that already have that check-mark. And, to keep it light, utilize sports as your source for the project.

 

Being as I have the floor, the Old Duck will go first. Let’s hope yours is even better.

 

> Watching Ted Williams hit a historic home run at Fenway Park ( #400 July 1956). Crossing home plate, he spit in the direction of the press box.

 

> Playing Pebble Beach on a beautiful Spring day with my best friend (May 2006).

 

> Bowling a perfect 300 game (1964, 1965, 1972 & 1995).

 

> Receiving a Varsity letter in High School sports (Wheelchair Basketball, 1962). I was on crutches for a year due to hip surgery and attended a school for the physically handicapped.

 

> Traveling to Toronto and visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame (1994).

 

> Experience being “mooned” by rowdy fans at Yankee Stadium (1988). And I wasn’t even wearing a Red Sox cap.

 

> Seeing a rookie named Bill Russell change the face of the NBA when he scored only two points but completely dominated the Knicks at Boston Garden in a 114-78 Celtic victory (January 1957).

 

> Collecting over 200 autographed Sports Illustrated covers and getting to meet some of the greatest athletes in the world during the process. Ernie Banks was the nicest and Dave Parker was the rudest (1985-2005).

 

> Walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge on a spectacular Summer night to watch the Pirates play at PNC Park (2006).

 

> Making a Hole-In-One (178 yard 7-Wood, June 2006).

 

> Traveling to Kansas City and visiting the Negro League Museum (2006).

 

> Being in the crowd at the Forum in Los Angeles on the night Wayne Gretzky scored his 802nd goal to break Gordie Howe’s record (March 1994).

 

> Witnessing George Brett’s 3000th hit at Angel Stadium in Anaheim (September 1992).

 

> Traveling to St. Augustine, Florida and visiting the World Golf Hall of Fame (2008).

 

> Watching Sandy Koufax pitch a shutout at Dodger Stadium (1965).

 

> Attending MLB games at over 25 different ballparks (1959-2014).

 

> Completing a 1956 Topps Baseball Card Set (1990).

 

> Traveling to Cooperstown and visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame (2006).

 

> Doing volunteer work at the Los Angeles Urban League and having the thrill of meeting, and talking with, Ray Charles (1972). I know it’s not sports-related, but c’mon…it was Ray Charles!

 

> Attending the opening game of a World Series (1974).

 

> Meeting Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and telling him how much I hated the Montreal Canadians when I was a kid growing up in Boston. He smiled and said, “We sure kicked their ass, didn’t we?” (1986)

 

> Spending the month of March watching Spring Training games every day (2006-    ).

 

> Traveling to Springfield, Massachusetts and visiting the Basketball Hall of Fame (1998).

 

> Attending a Rose Bowl game (Wisconsin vs. UCLA 1999).

 

> Watching the Rams “Fearsome Foursome” scare the daylights out of QB’s at the L.A Coliseum (1966).

 

> Sitting in a luxury suite at Camden Yards on a night when Cal Ripken Jr. hit a Home Run (1993).

 

> Competing on the same lanes with bowling legends Dick Weber & Earl Anthony (1985).

 

> Going on the court at Staples Center prior to a Lakers game and shooting free-throws to help raise money for charity (2001).

 

> Being a participant in the first-pitch ceremony on the field at Dodger Stadium (2006)…I was the Catcher. It was also “Old-Timers Day” and Maury Wills & Steve Garvey were not impressed with my skills.

 

> Witnessing Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Longden’s last race as he brought home George Royal in a stretch duel at Santa Anita Park in the 1966 San Juan Capistrano Handicap. At age 59, that brought his win total to 6,032.

 

> Capturing a Fantasy Baseball Championship in competition with some of the best experts in the industry (2005, 2009, 2011, 2012). Honestly, just being in a league with these guys would have made the list.

 

> Being in Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus the night Lew Alcindor played his first collegiate basketball game (1965).

 

> Looking out over the rocky coastline along the Pacific while playing Poipu Bay Golf Club in Kauai (1996).

 

> Crossing the frozen tundra to tour the Packers Hall of Fame in Green Bay on a perfectly bleak Winter afternoon (1994).

 

> Attending the Olympic Games (1984).

 

> Spring Training road-trips to Arizona with my baseball buddies, four games and eight teams in three days (1980’s & 90’s).

 

> Visiting the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame prior to a game at Great American Ballpark (2006).

 

> Taking in the unforgettable atmosphere of minor league baseball in places like San Antonio, Louisville, Buffalo, Jacksonville & Rancho Cucamonga.

 

> Getting to see both Bob Cousy and Magic Johnson pass the basketball (1958, 1985).

 

> Having lunch at Harry Carey’s restaurant before an afternoon game at Wrigley Field (1991).

 

> Being a speaker on the same convention program with Billy Beane and talking with him about “Moneyball” (2005).

 

> Getting the opportunity to write about baseball and other topics that I love (2012-     ).

 

> Becoming a member of the Dana-Farber Society, which raises money for “The Jimmy Fund”. It is the official charity of the Red Sox and is dedicated to saving the lives of children with cancer (2011).

 

OK…your turn.

 

 

 

 

 

The Pursuit Of Trivia

56-feller

Do you have any idea how much baseball information there is in your brain? For even casual fans, numbers like 60 & 61, 714 & 715, 56 & .406 in ’41, 300 & 3,000 are forever part of the sport’s landscape. Statistics are what separates baseball from every other sport. Even avid followers of basketball can’t recite the all-time scoring numbers and football fans are stuck with over 50% of the positions having no real stats at all. Beyond all the famous history, baseball also leads the world in trivial information. Many a bar bet has been won or lost on the answer to a baseball quiz, as in “Which Pitcher threw a no-hitter and didn’t lower his ERA”? The answer, of course, is Bob Feller who hurled a no-hitter on opening day in 1940.

 

So, to have some fun as Spring Training begins, here’s a look at stats you don’t know. In other words, useless information that does you no good at all but might make you smile when you see a familiar name from the record books.

 

> Ty Cobb, Mel Ott & Al Kaline all reached 1,000 hits before they turned 25…Mike Trout didn’t.

 

> Former Senators & Tigers SS Ed Brinkman had over 6,000 major league AB’s and hit .224.

 

> Harold Baines had 113 RBI’s in 1985 but didn’t have another 100 RBI season (103) until 1999…a 14 year gap.

 

> Padres OF Phil Plantier had 100 RBI’s in 1993 but only had 292 RBI’s in his entire career.

 

> Mike Potter had 23 career AB’s in 1976-77 with the Cardinals and never got a major league hit.

 

> Rickey Henderson hit leadoff home runs in both games of a doubleheader for the A’s in 1993…Brady Anderson did it for the Orioles in 1999.

 

> Hank Aaron & Eddie Mathews hit home runs as teammates in the same game 75 times.

 

> Ron Fairly hit 215 career HR’s but never hit 20 in a season.

 

> While with the Dodgers, Tommy Davis hit a home run three times to give Sandy Koufax a 1-0 win…including a walk-off against Bob Gibson in 1962.

 

> Cardinals Pitcher Adam Wainwright hit a home run on the first major league pitch he ever faced (2006).

 

> In April of 2000,  the Angels Mo Vaughn, Tim Salmon & Troy Glaus all homered in the same inning twice.

 

> In April of 1986, Padres Pitcher Craig Lefferts hit a walk-off HR in the 12th inning to beat the Giants…it was the only home run of his 12-year career.

 

> In April of 1999, the Cardinals Fernando Tatis hit two Grand-Slams in the same inning against the Dodgers. And, both were off Chan Ho Park…who was on my Fantasy team at the time!

 

> In 1948, Ted Williams had three plate appearances in the same inning against three different pitchers.

 

> In 1953, Gene Stephens (filling in for Williams, who was in Korea) became the first player to have three hits in one inning.

 

> In 1962, the Mets Frank Thomas was hit by the pitch twice in the same inning.

 

> In 2004, Ichiro Suzuki had 264 hits and 225 of them were Singles.

 

> In 1961, when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s HR record by hitting 61, he had zero intentional walks.

 

> In 1962, Harmon Killebrew hit .243 and led the AL in RBI’s with 126.

 

> In 2003, the Tigers Ramon Santiago finished last in the AL in BA, HR & RBI’s thus winning the Triple Crown Loser Award…Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith did the same for the Padres in 1979.

 

> In 1963, Red Sox OF Carl Yastrzemski led the AL in both Hits & Walks.

 

> In 1977, the Twins Rod Carew won the AL batting title by 52 points (.388) over the Angels Lyman Bostock (.336).

 

> Between 1969 and 1978, Bobby Bonds had 30-30 (HR & SB) seasons five times and played for five different teams.

 

> In 1978, Pirates SS Frank Taveras had 654 AB’s with 0 (zero) home runs.

 

> In 1995, Rockies OF Dante Bichette hit 40 HR’s and only walked 22 times.

 

> In 1960, the Tigers Charlie Maxwell hit five (5) extra-inning home runs.

 

> In 1948, Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner of the Pirates hit 31 HR’s at home and only 9 on the road.

 

> Babe Ruth broke the single season home run record in 1919 (29), then again in 1920 (54), 1921 (59) and 1927 (60).

 

> During his major league career, Todd Zeile hit home runs for 11 different teams.

 

> Ray Boone and his son Bob combined for 256 lifetime home runs…Ray and his grandson Bret combined for 403.

 

> Hall of Fame Catcher Carlton Fisk hit 72 home runs after the age of 40.

 

> In three consecutive seasons, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson hit .408, .395 & .373 but didn’t win the batting title in any of the three (1911, 1912 & 1913).

 

> In 1947, Braves Pitcher Johnny Sain won 21 games and hit .346 (37-for-107).

 

On the pitching side…

 

> Warren Spahn had 20 or more Wins in 13 separate seasons…and 10 of them came after the age of 30!

 

> Nolan Ryan registered at least 5 Wins in 26 consecutive seasons.

 

> Hoyt Wilhelm won 124 games in relief.

 

> Gene Garber lost 108 games in relief.

 

> Andy Pettitte pitched 18 seasons and never had a losing record.

 

> Steve Barber issued 10 or more walks in a game four times!

 

> In 1958-59, the Pirates Roy Face had 22 consecutive Wins.

 

> Bert Blyleven won 15 games by the score of 1-0.

 

> Tom Seaver started on opening day 16 times.

 

> Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts allowed 505 Home Runs!

 

> Sandy Koufax pitched for 12 years and held opposing hitters to a Batting Average of .205.

 

> Pedro Martinez pitched for 18 years and held opposing hitters to an On-Base Percentage of .276 (Koufax was at .285).

 

> In his 1974 Cy Young Award season with the Dodgers, Mike Marshall pitched in 106 games and finished 83 of them.

 

> Bob Feller had 36 complete games in 1946.

 

> In the Mets inaugural season of 1962, Roger Craig lost 24 games (he had 10 Wins).

 

> Bob Gibson’s 1968 ERA of 1.12 is just ahead of Christy Mathewson (1.14 in 1909) and Walter Johnson (1.14 in 1913).

 

> In 1985, the Cardinals John Tudor pitched 10 Shutouts…he only had 6 others in his 12-year career.

 

> Pitching for the Mets in 1994, Bret Saberhagen had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11-to-1. Last season, Clayton Kershaw’s ratio was 15.6-to-1 (172 K’s & 11 BB).

 

> In 1966, Tony Cloninger of the Braves threw 27 Wild Pitches and led the NL in Walks, but finished with a winning record (14-11).

 

> Jose Lima started 33 games in 2000 and 32 games in 2005…his ERA in those seasons was 6.65 & 6.99.

 

> Bobo Newsom’s 5.08 ERA in 1938 was the highest ever for a 20-game winner.

 

> In 1916, Babe Ruth pitched 323 2/3 innings and didn’t allow a home run.

 

> Steve Carlton’s 27 Wins for the last-place Phillies in 1972 equaled 46% of their 59 team wins.

 

> Wally Bunker of the Orioles won 19 games in 1964 when he was 19 years old.

 

> Pitching for the Mariners in 1980, Mike Parrot had a record of 1-16…the year before, he was 14-12.

 

> The 1971 Orioles had four 20-game winners…Dave McNally, Pat Dobson, Jim Palmer & Mike Cueller.

 

> Juan Marichal had six seasons in which he had 20 Wins, 200 Strikeouts and an ERA below 3.00.

 

Good luck on the bar bets.

 

 

Rattling Your SABR Defensively

arenado-card

When it comes to baseball, there are casual fans, hometown fans, old-school fans, know-it-all fans, rabid fans and people like me. I’m a 365 day-a-year fan who enjoys all the nuances of the actual game as well as all the minutia of the hot stove season. A day doesn’t go bye when I don’t check the transactions or think about free agent signings or muse about the topic of my next blog. And, I’m not at all apologetic about my passion for the game because it has been a wonderful distraction in my life. As a wise man once said, “Life is more worthwhile when you can be passionate about something trivial.”

 

For me, being a member of The Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) is a delightful extension of my fandom. The brilliant people who write for the Society always make me think and open my eyes to the endless history of this great game. So, when they recently published their “SABR Defensive Index” (SDI) for 2016, it got me thinking about how far we’ve come in the last thirty years in regards to judging defensive excellence on the field. For many years, I was a critic of the annual Gold Glove awards because they never seemed to based on reality, only reputation. The final straw was in 1999, when Rafael Palmiero only played 34 games at 1B (and 128 at DH) but still won the AL Gold Glove. Of course, he won it in ’97 & ’98, so he must still be the best 1B in the league, right?

 

Since then, researchers have created defensive metrics that quantify the performance of major league players on the field, so we’re getting closer to the truth. Currently, the SDI ratings are incorporated into the Rawlings Gold Glove selection process and account for about 25% of the results when added to the votes from managers and coaches. So, let’s look at the SDI results and how they compare to the actual Gold Glove winners for 2016. The SDI numbers represent defensive runs saved relative to the league average at the position.

 

> American League

 

* C – Salvador Perez – At age 26, the Royals backstop won his 4th consecutive Gold Glove and it was richly deserved…his 8.7 SDI was tied for the best rating with James McCann of the Tigers.

 

* 1B – Mitch Moreland – Won the Gold Glove and it was certainly deserved, as his 6.2 rating was easily the best number.

 

* 2B – Robinson Cano – It’s not often that you’ll find three candidates with statistics this close. Cano’s 8.6 was essentially the same as Jason Kipnis and Gold Glove winner Ian Kinsler (both at 8.5).

 

* 3B – Adrian Beltre – The 5th Gold Glove for this future Hall-of-Famer, even at age 37, his skills (14.6) were significantly better than Kyle Seager & Manny Machado

 

* SS – Francisco Lindor – His first Gold Glove at age 22 and no one else was close to his rating of 18.5.

 

* LF – Brett Gardner – Probably the weakest position as only three players had a positive number…Gardner won the Gold Glove with a number of 8.0.

 

* CF – Kevin Kiermeier – He and Kevin Pillar are so much better than all their peers, it’s almost embarrassing. Kiermeier got the award with 14.6, while Pillar had 11.7…nobody else was over 6.

 

* RF – Adam Eaton – Lost the Gold Glove to Mookie Betts even though his rating was slightly higher…21.4 – to – 19.3. The next highest number was 3.6!

 

> National League

 

* C – Buster Posey – Won the Gold Glove and his rating (15.2) was so much better than anyone else, it would be a disservice to mention another name.

 

* 1B – Anthony Rizzo – His first Gold Glove with a number of 8.6…Wil Myers was next at 6.6.

 

* 2B – Joe Panik – This may have been a surprise when he won the award, but it was warranted with a 8.5 rating. Four time winner Brandon Phillips had a negative number for 2016.

 

* 3B – Nolan Arenado – Four seasons into his career and four Gold Gloves, this time with a rating of 12.2. Justin Turner was a close second at 11.1.

 

* SS – Addison Russell – Russell and Brandon Crawford were far and away the best NL Shortstops and Crawford got the hardware. The final numbers were 17.2 & 15.6 respectively.

 

* LF – Adam Duvall – Starling Marte will take his Gold Glove to CF in 2017, but Duvall’s first season was impressive with 9.1. Marte was next at 6.4.

 

* CF – Ender Inciarte – Another clear reason why Dave Stewart should not have been a GM. Inciarte won the award with a number of 16.4…Billy Hamilton was second

 

* RF – Jason Heyward – Easily the best at his position with a 14.9 rating that was more than double the runner-up. It was his fourth Gold Glove in the last five years

 

> In case you’re curious, here’s a list of the defensive players with the worst ratings…in other words their defense was “offensive”.

 

* AL – Kurt Suzuki C…Eric Hosmer 1B…Johnny Giovatella 2B…Yunel Escobar 3B…Brad Miller SS…Melky Cabrera LF…Carlos Gomez CF…J.D. Martinez RF

 

* NL – Nick Hundley C…Joey Votto 1B…Daniel Murphy 2B…Jake Lamb 3B…Alexei Ramirez SS…Jayson Werth LF…Andrew McCutcheon CF…Yasmani Tomas RF

 

What about Pitchers, you ask? Well, Dallas Keuchel had the second best rating in the AL and won the Gold Glove while Zack Greinke captured the hardware in the NL despite finishing third behind Bartolo Colon & Jake Arrietta.

 

Don’t forget to take your glove to the ballpark.

 

The Best Hitters of 2017

alou

50+ years ago, if a baseball fan was asked who the best hitters were, the only significant resource would have been the sports section of the Sunday newspaper. Somewhere in the back pages, there was a long, slender list in very small type showing all current major league players. And those players were ranked by their BA (Batting Average) because that had historically been the benchmark for position players.

 

Looking back at 1966, we find that the top five BA’s belonged to Matty Alou (.342), Manny Mota (.332), Felipe Alou (.327), Rico Carty (.326) & Dick Allen (.317). Fine players all, but were they the five best hitters in baseball? Not when you consider that the two MVP winners (Roberto Clemente and Frank Robinson) finished 6th & 7th. Matty Alou, for example, had 2 HR’s & 27 RBI’s in 535 AB’s. Even OBP (On-Base Percentage) would have been a better gauge, as the top five were Ron Santo (.412), Joe Morgan (.410), Robinson (.410), Allen (.396) & Al Kaline (.392).

 

As modern baseball analytics have evolved, one of the most accepted statistics has become OPS (On-Base % + Slugging %). Not only does it prioritize getting on base, it also adds the concept of moving more runners around the bases. After all, Slugging Percentage is defined as Total Bases /At Bats. Old school fans might question the veracity of the stat but baseball history tells the tale. The five highest lifetime OPS numbers belong to Babe Ruth (1.16), Ted Williams (1.12), Lou Gehrig (1.08), Barry Bonds (1.05) & Jimmie Foxx (1.04). There are only two other hitters with a number over 1.00… Hank Greenberg and Rogers Hornsby.

 

With Spring Training around the corner, here’s one Duck’s opinion on the top dozen hitters for 2017 based on their projected OPS from a highly respected Fantasy website…

 

1) Joey Votto, Reds 1B, .989 OPS – Still gets criticized for his plate discipline and will probably lead all of baseball in Walks (100+). Like Ted Williams, he won’t expand the strike zone to satisfy writers and broadcasters.

 

2) Mike Trout, Angels OF, .971 OPS – 20 years from now, people will be describing his career as “once in a generation”. His consistency and still youthful age (25) makes him the consensus #1 hitter in Fantasy drafts.

 

3) Miguel Cabrera, Tigers 1B, .934 OPS – Even in his mid-30’s this future Hall-of-Famer is still a force.

 

4) Paul Goldschmidt, D’Backs 1B, .920 OPS – Incredibly consistent performer in the batter’s box and also won a Gold Glove in 2015. Oh, by the way, he also swiped a total of over 50 bases the last two seasons.

 

5) Freddie Freeman, Braves 1B, .916 OPS – His age 26 season in 2016 produced a .968 OPS, so it appears that his performance has reached another level.

 

6) Kris Bryant, Cubs 3B, .914 OPS – Rookie of the Year in ’15, MVP in ’16…finally a prospect who exceeded the hype.

 

7) Nolan Arenado, Rockies 3B, .903 OPS – Yes, some of the stats are fueled by altitude, but he’s only 25 and had a .832 OPS on the road last season.

 

8) Bryce Harper, Nationals OF, .901 OPS – It seems like most observers are hedging their bet and projecting something between his ’15 & ’16 performances. As in, “can’t be as good as ’15 or as bad as ’16”.

 

9) Anthony Rizzo, Cubs 1B, .898 OPS – The face of the championship Cubbies, look for 30+ HR’s and 100+ RBI’s.

 

10) Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays 3B, .896 OPS – Even geniuses like Billy Beane sometimes make mistakes.

 

11) Nelson Cruz, Mariners OF/DH, .891 – He was doubted because of juicing, then he was too old, then his numbers were going down after moving from Baltimore to Seattle. The last two seasons, he’s hit 87 Home Runs.

 

12) Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins OF, .890 – Nobody questions the skill, but the over/under is probably about 475 AB’s.

 

Did your favorite player get left off the list? The next four are all over .875…Matt Carpenter, Edwin Encarnacion, Mookie Betts & Daniel Murphy. Or maybe some youngsters take the next step? We’ll all be watching.