Posts Tagged ‘Bert Blyleven’

A Franchise Best

May 20, 2011

Griffith Stadium, home of the Washington Senators (and the Homestead Grays)

The loss of Harmon Killebrew and SportsPhD’s comment about Killebrew being the greatest Twins player got me to thinking. In some ways SportsPhd is right, but if you look franchise-wise (in other words all the way back to 1901) the answer has to be Walter Johnson. So that brings up the question of an All-Twins/Senators team. The slash is there to remind everyone that for much of their history, the Twins were in Washington. So I decided to figure one out for myself and share it with a breathlessly waiting world. Now I’m no Twins expert so I’m willing to admit that this list is probably flawed. It fact, it may be greatly flawed. It was also put together quickly with only a couple days reasearch. So you might want to take it with the proverbial grain of salt. But, it’s my best shot on short notice.

Now the caveats. This is a little easier because I decided to look for only a starting lineup plus a rotation and a manager. If you try to put together a 25 man roster you notice just how weak the Twins/Senators have been at certain positions (like thrid base). That’s actually fairly common. Try it with your own favorite team and see how quickly you start asking yourself “Do I really want to put this guy on the team?” Because the Senators were formed in 1901 there is no need to discount 19th Century players. Also, you’ll notice that the Twins have more players making this team in a shorter period than the Senators. Frankly, the Twins have been better than the Senators, so I’m not concerned with the percentages here. Feel free to come up with your own players and disagree with my selections.

Infield: Almost from the beginning, first base was the biggest hurdle for me. There have been a lot of good Twins/Senators first basemen: Joe Judge, Mickey Vernon, Kent Hrbek, Justin Morneau. None of them are really at the very top of any chart concerning great first basemen. OK, that means none of them are Lou Gehrig, but none of them are particularly close either. Ultimately I went with Hrbek because he was a solid first baseman, his 3-2-3 double play in game 7 of 1991 was one of the greatest plays by a first baseman I ever saw (and the Ron Gant body slam was a play for the ages) and he could hit well. I’m fairly sure that Morneau is probably (“fairly sure” “probably”, how’s that for certitude?) better, but until he can stay healthy and put in enough years I have to go with Hrbek. Second, short, and third are all fairly easy with Rod Carew, Joe Cronin, and Gary Gaetti being obvious picks.

Outfield: I was able to pick a left, center, and right fielder without having to double up on right fielders and drop a left fielder or some such thing. Kirby Puckett in Center Field is an obvious choice and for me Tony Oliva gets right field over Sam Rice. Yeah, Rice has a longer career, but Oliva’s is better, but over a shorter period of time. Old time Senator Goose Goslin get left field for this team. Did you know that Goslin is the only player to appear in every Washington Senators World Series game?

Catcher/DH: You know this is going to be Joe Mauer don’t you? If you think I need to justify that, you haven’t been paying attention to the American League. DH is where I put Killebrew. He wasn’t much of a fielder, but was best at first. I thought long  and hard about him there and if I was certain I was leaving out a great player, I’d move Killebrew to first. 

Starters: Of course this list begins with Walter Johnson, but you guessed that already, right? It’s amazing how far the drop from the team’s best pitcher to its number two is when Johnson is your number one. The rest of the list is good enough, but somehow just completely pales when compared. It’s also a little strange to see such an uneven list when you try to find five starters. I went with (alphabetically) Bert Blyleven, Jim Kaat, Camilo Pasqual, Johan Santana. I have some reservations about both Pasqual and Santana. Pasqual’s numbers don’t look all that great if you just stare it them, but if you recall how awful some of his teams were, he gets better quick. And Santana just wasn’t there very long, but when he was  he was great.

Relievers: If the quality of starters is uneven, Twins/Senators relievers are amazingly good. There’s a long tradition of quality relievers going all the way back to Clark Griffith and the early years of the franchise. I took Firpo Marberry because he was one of the first truly great relievers and went with Rick Aguilera as the other one. I sort of miss putting in Jeff Reardon or Joe Nathan, but I like the other two better.

Manager: Tom Kelley was easy for me. Bucky Harris won in 1924, lost in 1925. Cronin was in charge in the 1933 loss, and Ron Gardenhire hasn’t won yet. So Kelley’s two wins are double anyone else in franchise history.

As a rule I’m not a big fan of these kinds of lists; there are just too many variables for me, or anyone else, to consider all of them. You inevitably leave off someone you shouldn’t and look like a total fool (trust me, Idon’t need a lot of help with that anyway). They are, however, kind of  fun.  So remember that when you look this over and go “What was he thinking?”  or rather “Was he thinking?”


Random Comments on the Latest Hall of Fame Voting

January 6, 2011

So it’s over and the most important vote of the year is done (Who cares about those idiot votes in DC?). Congratulations to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven. Here’s some thoughts on the election:

1. On a personal level I did pretty well. Several posts back I weighed in on the 10 people I’d vote for. Nine of them made the top ten. I missed Lee Smith and added Don Mattingly. I was sorry to leave off Smith, but I’m not backing down on Mattingly as someone whose career is short, but powerful and, thus, deserves to be in Cooperstown. I also think that Trevor Hoffman’s 600 saves and Mariano Rivera’s pending move into the same sphere are going to hurt Smith’s chances. I am most surprised (and gratified) by the amount of support Larry Walker received. It wasn’t all that great, but honestly I didn’t expect it to be that good.

2. I think the election of Blyleven is more important than the election of Alomar. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t say that Alomar didn’t belong. What I mean is that it has been forever since the writers elected a starting pitcher with less than 300 wins (Fergie Jenkins). If you’re not going to let in a guy with 280 plus wins, how are you going to justify letting in someone with only 220 or so wins? That means it would be difficult to let in Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, David Wells, Mike Mussina, Jaime Moyer, and Kenny Rogers when the time comes. I’m not saying they all (or any) should be enshrined, but that the failure to elect someone with 280 wins and 3700 strikeouts can doom any of them. With Blyleven now in, the “Well, Blyleven isn’t in, why should Martinez be in?” argument goes out the door. And the “You can’t vote for anyone without 300 wins,” theory is also gone. I think it will now be easier for some of the people listed above to make it through the front door without a ticket. And yes I know Jim Kaat and Tommy John both have Blyleven-like win totals, but both have already dropped off the ballot.

3. Apparently the spitting incident really hurt Alomar. I can think of no other reason for him going from just over 70% all the way to 90% in one shot.

4. The steroid guys got clobbered. Mark McGwire, Juan Gonzalez, Raffy Palmeiro did terribly. I think that bodes poorly for Bonds, Sosa, Clemens and company. I also think it hurt Bagwell and that’s a shame.

5. Two of my favorites, Tino Martinez and John Olerud fell of the list entirely, as did Harold Baines. Too bad. I think both Martinez and Olerud should have stayed around for a least another couple of chances. I never expected either to make the Hall.  As for Baines, I’m a little surprised it took this long for him to fall off.

6. ESPN published a list of the guys eligible for the first time in 2012, 2013, and 2014. It’s an interesting list. The 2012 group isn’t particularly strong with guys like Brian Jordan, Bernie Williams, Brad Radke, and Ruben Sierra being among the highlights. That bodes well for holdovers like Larkin, Bagwell, and company to get a good shot in 2012. Of the new group in 2012, I’ll be most interested to see how Bernie Williams does. He has four rings, won a batting title, played a good center field, and hit clean up for the Yankees. Having said that, I never saw him as an elite player, so it will be very interesting to see how he does.

7. The 2013 group includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling, Mike Piazza, Craig Biggio, David Wells, Kenny Lofton, Julio Franco, Jeff Conine, and Mike Stanton. Interesting here will be to see how Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa do, particularly in light of how Palmeiro, McGwire, and Gonzalez have done. I’ll find it almost funny if Craig Biggio gets in before Barry Bonds. And I wonder if Bagwell will be held so that he and Biggio can go in together.  Then there’s Julio Franco. I will be very interested to see how he does. Remember he went to Japan for a few years, then returned and played until he was 108. The failure to get 3000 hits can be attributed to the interlude in Japan. I wonder what the writers will do with that. My guess is he doesn’t do all that well. The guy I most want to see how he does is Mike Stanton. He may be the finest set-up man ever. I want to see how much respect a set-up man will command from the voters. My guess is that he won’t get much support, but I’ll still be interested to see how it goes.

8. Finally, the 2014 group has Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Jim Edmonds, Mark Grudzielanek, Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez, Mike Mussina, Kenny Rogers, and Hideo Nomo among others. Although I presume Maddux, Glavine, and Thomas are in, I’m going to be interested in how Edmonds, Gonzalez, Kent, and Mussina do. But I’m going to be most interested in Nomo. I don’t think his numbers are Hall quality, but his significance to the game is absolutely critical in getting Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese players involved at the Major League level. In that way he compares with players like Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente as pioneers and I want to see how that translates. Additionally, we may get to see and hear a debate about how much a  Japanese League career will add to or detract from players who enter the Major Leagues after years in a significant foreign league.

So there ya go. Again, congratulations to Alomar and Blyleven. I hope they give great speeches at Cooperstown. Your own thoughts on the matter?

The January 2011 Hall Vote

December 6, 2010

I promised before I left that I’d comment on the writer’s vote for the Hall of Fame. That’s the vote that will be announced in January (not the one that’s coming this week). I commented that because they let you vote for ten, I’d vote for ten. Here they are in alphabetical order, holdovers first:

Roberto Alomar: Probably the finest second baseman of his era. Missed out by a handful of votes last time.

Bert Blyleven: I think this is the most important person who can be voted in. The writer’s haven’t elected a starting pitcher with less than 300 wins since Fergie Jenkins (the Vets Committee put in Jim Bunning). With all the excellent pitchers coming available with less than 300 wins (Pedro Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, etc) someone has to break through or we’re going to see a lot of worthy candidates dismissed. Hopefully Blyleven will be the player that opens the door.

Barry Larkin: If Alomar is the finest second baseman of his era, Larkin is the finest shortstop. He has an MVP and a World Series ring. Both should eventually help his cause. I’m not sure either should.

Edgar Martinez: One of the best hitters I ever saw. I don’t want to hear “Well, he was mainly a DH and not much of a fielder.” Putting Paul Molitor into the Hall of Fame should end the DH issue and besides there are a lot of Hall members who were lousy fielders.

Don Mattingly: The argument against him is that his career is short. So was Ralph Kiner’s (and Dizzy Dean’s and Sandy Koufax’s). For a handful of years he was one of the best players in the game and possibly the best. He was a good enough first baseman and a wonderful hitter.

Jack Morris: He was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s (which alone isn’t enough to get him into the Hall). His ERA is big for a Hall of Famer, but the latest statistics show us how much ERA can be overrated. He has multiple rings and his game 7 of the 1991 World Series was masterful. A dominant pitcher who may be helped by the explosion of new stats.

Tim Raines: One of the great base stealers ever. He has a batting title to go with all those stolen bases. I think his nomad phase toward the end of his career hurts him a lot.

Alan Trammell: Great, great shortstop. If Ozzie Smith was the premier shortstop of  his era in the NL, Trammell was, with the possible exception of Cal Ripken, the premier shortstop of the AL. Trammell hit better  than Smith and was a heck of a shortstop (if not quite so acrobatic as Smith). I think Trammell gets hurt because of the comparison to Ripken, rather than to Smith. He also has a ring. I’d be interested to know how much his disastrous stint as Tigers manager hurts his chances.

Jeff Bagwell: An MVP, a heck of a hitter, a team leader. He got hurt and missed out on 500 home runs but is still a Hall of Famer. To me, the only sure-fire Hall of Famer on the new list.

Larry Walker: I could say a lot about him, but I’ll simply suggest you go to Bill Miller’s site at The On Deck Circle (link to the right) for a fine overview of Walker’s career and qualifications. Sorry, Bill, but you didn’t convince me to vote for him. I’d already decided that.

So there’s my ten. Feel free to disagree.

There’s one player on the list I’m sorry to leave off, Tino Martinez. I think he may be shorted on the ballot, but hope he stays on so he gets more chances. I’m not sure he really belongs in the Hall, but I’d like to see him get a chance. I think a closer look at his stats is in order (and I want to do a later post on him and this so-called “Core Four” nonsense).

Throw the Bums Out

January 6, 2010

So Andre Dawson is now a Hall of Famer. Good. I wonder what took so long. My guess is that his numbers suddenly look better with the steroid era numbers being tainted. I see that Bert Blyleven missed by five votes, Roberto Alomar by a handful more, and that Barry Larkin barely managed 50%. Well, there’s no accounting for taste.

What’s really awful is that 5 blank ballots were sent in this time. Five blank ballots. Forget whether the 5 would have voted for Belyleven and put him in. Concentrate on “blank ballot”. That means 5 supposedly intelligent, knowing writers didn’t think anyone on this years list was worthy of Hall of Fame induction. Amazing. Stupid, but amazing. Somebody ought to revoke their voting privileges. Yuck!!!!!!!!!

Actually a fairly good idea would be to simply throw out any blank ballots and reduce the number necessary to achieve 75% by that total. So if there were 1000 votes and 5 blank ballots, then the number necessary to elect is 75% of 995. In this case an inductee would need 746 votes, not 750.  Whether it would have put Blyleven in or not I don’t know and don’t care. What I want is to stop this blank ballot nonsense.

The January Vote

November 30, 2009

In January the Hall of Fame will announce it’s newest members as voted on by the baseball writers. There are 26 names on the ballot. Writers are allowed to vote for up to 10, but may leave the ballot blank.

This is one of the more interesting ballots in a long while. There is no clear-cut sure-fire gotta-go-in player on the ballot, but there are a lot of really nice players that show up on this one. On the theory that I would get 10 votes if I was a baseball writer, here’s the 10 men I’d support, in alphabetical order:

Roberto Alomar-arguably the finest 2nd baseman of his era.

Bert Blyleven-why the heck hasn’t he gotten in already?

Andre Dawson-the revelations of the steroid era make his numbers look even better than they did when he retired.

Barry Larkin-heck of a shortstop, good hitter, pretty fair team leader, and an MVP.

Edgar Martinez-the epitome of a DH. They even named the award after him. Great, great hitter.

Don Mattingly-the personification of grit and determination on the ballfield. Short career, but great numbers in the career.

Fred McGriff-OK, he didn’t make it to 500 homers, but there’s no taint of steroids on him. Led league in home runs twice, key component on the Braves winning teams of the 1990s. He gets dispensation from those horrid baseball drills commercials he made. As a spokesman, Fred made a great 1st baseman.

Dale Murphy-2 time MVP, great hitter, good center fielder, just short of 400 home runs.

Tim Raines-has a batting title and was a great baserunner. His nomad phase will probably hurt his chances.

Alan Trammell-OK, ignore the managing and look at the player. He was  great shortstop and a fine hitter, losing the MVP vote to George Bell once.

There are a couple of others I’d like to see there (Morris, Ventura, Lee Smith), but I only get 10 votes.