Posts Tagged ‘Buster Posey’

Another Top of the Line (?) ESPN List

July 6, 2017

Well, being ESPN they’ve put out another one of their lists. This promises to tell us the current top 100 players in Major League Baseball. As usual, it’s a combination of the sublime and the ridiculous. I’m certainly not going to give you the entire list here, but I’ll do my standard job on it. I’ll give you the top player at each position (his spot in the list 1-100 will be the number in parenthesis) plus five pitchers (one of which has to be a lefty and one has to be a right-hander), a reliever, and the first player whose position is already taken will be the DH. Got all that? Good. So here we go.

1b Paul Goldschmidt (4)

2b Jose Altuve (10)

ss Carlos Correa (9)

3b Kris Bryant (6)

rf Bryce Harper (3)

cf Mike Trout (1)

lf Michael Conforto (42)

c Buster Posey (19)

P Clayton Kershaw (2), Chris Sale (5), Max Scherzer (7), Stephen Strasberg (20), Dallas Keuchel (22)

reliever Andrew Miller (36)

DH Nolan Arenado (8 and the second third baseman listed)

Francisco Lindor at number 11 is the highest rated player not to make the team. There are a lot of right and center fielders ahead of Conforto, but I wanted one guy in each position. The list also has a lot more infielders than outfielders high on the chart.

The list is on ESPN where you can check it out. If you don’t like it, take it up with ESPN.

 

A Few Thoughts on the 2014 Postseason

October 30, 2014
Giants logo

Giants logo

Here’s a few random thoughts on the just concluded 2014 postseason.

1. Congratulations to the Giants. Yuck! Do you have any idea how hard that is for a Dodgers fan to type? I’m trying to figure out whether “dynasty” is the right word for them. I tend to think of a dynasty team as having won at least two in a row and a couple more around it. By that definition (which is strictly mine) the Giants aren’t a dynasty but most closely resemble the 1942-46 Cardinals who win in ’42, ’44, and ’46 (and lose in ’43). But if it isn’t a dynasty, it’s something very close and I won’t argue with people who want to label the Giants a dynasty.

2. Congratulations to the Royals. They gave us a feel good story for the postseason and a chance to root for a true underdog (I had my money on the Giants, but rooted for the Royals). I hope they aren’t a fluke but, like last year’s Pirates, are a team that will be in contention for a while.

3. As Bumgarner has been around for a while, this year’s break out player may be Lorenzo Cain. I admit I’d never heard of him until late in the season, but he was a revelation in the playoffs. He hits, he runs, he catches everything in center field (and in right). Hopefully he isn’t a flash in the pan who got hot late in the season and drifts back into obscurity.

4. What is it with the National League. The last five pennant winners are the Giants, Cardinals, Giants, Cardinals, Giants. Do we note a pattern here? If so, you might want to get your money down on the Cards for the 2015 NL pennant.

5. The American League appears to be more wide open than traditionally. Their last five pennant winners are the Rangers, Rangers, Tigers, Red Sox, Royals. So I got no pattern here. Best guess is that Bloggess will get her Orioles in next season (but that’s strictly a guess and no one has ever favorably compared me to a prophet). Whatever happens, Buck Showalter is one heck of a manager, isn’t he?

6. Madison Bumgarner is one heck of a postseason pitcher. Before we deify him, we might want to give him a few more years on the mound. He looks like the real deal but a lot of “real deal” types have ended up in oblivion. And while we’re at it, how much does the 3-4-5 combination of Buster Posey, Pedro Sandoval, and Hunter Pence scare you? They don’t scare me a lot in the regular season, but they really come through in the postseason (OK, Posey had a lousy Series) and that does scare me.

7. With three World Series wins, Bruce Bochy should have just punched his ticket to Cooperstown.

8. Can we knock off with the Kershaw-Koufax comparisons for a while? Don’t be doing things like that to Clayton Kershaw. He’s a heck of a pitcher and, depending on injuries, should end up with more wins and strikeouts than Sandy Koufax. But he’s never going to reach SANDY KOUFAX!!! (Said in Charlton Heston/James Earl Jones voice of God tones with trumpets in the background) status. Koufax was a really good pitcher. KOUFAX!!! (now with drums added) is damned close to God in his mythology. He has a greater peak than Kershaw will ever have because they simply won’t let Kershaw pitch enough innings to reach that peak, so there will always be those who will go “Well, Kershaw was good, but at his peak KOUFAX!!! (maybe now we add bagpipes doing “Amazing Grace”) was a whole lot better.” And of course Kershaw got shelled in the playoffs (He’s 0-4 against the Cards in postseason play) and Koufax only gave up six earned runs in 57 innings pitched in the World Series and KOUFAX!!! (the 1961-66 version) only gave up five in 48 innings. Kershaw gave up that many in two innings. Enough already, let Kershaw be Kershaw.

9. All in all the World Series was a mixture of fun and drama, but some of the games were really boring. Five of the games were won by at least five run margins. That’s nice if it’s your team, but I kinda want the Series to be a set of close games. Didn’t get that this time.

10. Having said that, I enjoyed the postseason except for one small thing. Would the powers that be quit dividing up the playoffs so I have to wander all over my TV remote control trying to find the games? Fox, Fox Sports 1, MLB TV, TBS, ESPN all did at least one game (and don’t get me started on the quality of the broadcasters). Come on, guys, knock that off. Put them on just a couple of channels so we know where they are going to be and leave them there.

Feel free to disagree with anything above (you have the right to be wrong 🙂 ). Now on to the Hotstove League and next season.

A Great Age for Hitting Catchers

July 3, 2013
Joe Mauer's Wikipedia picture

Joe Mauer’s Wikipedia picture

Ever look over a list of  Hall of Famers? One of the things a lot of people mention after doing so is “Geez, there’s not a lot of third basemen in the Hall.” That’s true. But it’s also true of catchers. Excluding 19th Century players, there are a dozen each third basemen and catchers in the Hall. It’s a hard position, catcher, to play.

But we are living in a great age for catchers that can hit. There have been a few of those, but not many. In the 1930s you found Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, and Gabby Hartnett playing at the same time. In the 1950s there was Yogi Berra and there was Roy Campanella. Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk overlap in the 1980s. And in the last 15 or so years, we’ve had the pleasure of seeing a new group of them that may (or may not) be as good, but are certainly a deeper pool of fine hitting catchers. Going back to the turn of the century, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez were still productive players. In the 21st Century we’ve added three more.

Did you know that prior to 2006 catchers won only three batting titles: Ernie Lombardi twice and Bubbles Hargrave? Since 2006 catchers have won four. Joe Mauer has three and Buster Posey one. And this year Yadier Molina (who has in the last few seasons resolved any doubt as to which Molina brother was the best) is leading the National League. He probably won’t stay there, but to have a catcher leading the NL on 1 July is amazing.

So let’s all set back on our Fourth of July break and enjoy a ballgame. And while we’re at it, take a second to revel in the quality of good hitting catchers that are available to us. It’s very rare.

The Best of the Giants

May 27, 2013
Will Clark

Will Clark

It’s been a while since I stuck my foot deep in my mouth and picked an all-time team for a franchise. So it’s time to do it again. I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time this month dealing with the Giants, especially the New York version, so it seems like a good franchise to work with now.

A few caveats first (you knew I’d do that, right?). Let me start with a simple disclaimer: I’ve never been a particular Giants fan. Growing up supporting the Dodgers, there’s not a lot of nice things to say about the Giants (only the Yankees are as deep in perdition as the Giants). That means I’ll admit to being less than confident about my choices, but it’s the best I can do using only research and a few memories. Second, I put together a 25 man roster that does not mirror a Major League roster, but it’s my list and I get to do it my way. There are nine infielders, five outfielders, two catchers, and nine pitchers. I decided to go with three bullpen men and six men who were primarily starters. I also picked a manager (bet you can guess him). Finally there are no players whose primary career is before the advent of the mound. There are som really fine Giants prior to 1892, like Roger Connor, Tim Keefe, Mike Tiernan, but they play a game that is different, so different I decided to drop them from consideration.

So with all that said, here we go diving in where God knows what we will find. Each list is alphabetical.

The Infield:  Will Clark, Al Dark, George Davis, Art Fletcher, Frankie Frisch, Travis Jackson, Jeff Kent, Johnny Mize, Willie McCovey.

Did you ever notice that the Giants have produced an inordinate number of quality first basemen? I chose McCovey, Mize, and Clark (and Cepeda spent a lot of time at first) and left out Hall of Fame first sackers Bill Terry and George Kelly. Frankly, I didn’t really have to think that hard about it. The only hard choice was Mize, who spent significant time with both St. Louis and the Yankees. I decided he was in. If they’ve had great first basemen, they’ve had mediocre third basemen. I went with Fletcher as the only third baseman because the rest of the list was Fred Lindstrom and Jim Davenport and guys like that. OK, maybe I should have considered Sandoval, but as a rule I like to stay away from current players because we don’t know how they’re stay with their team will go (but see Posey below). Short and second were mixed bags. Frisch, Kent, and Larry Doyle stood out but there wasn’t much below them. Short on the other hand had more quality players, but no one at the level of either Frisch or Kent. I left off Dave Bancroft and added Dark which may strike some as odd, but I suppose it’s merely a personal preference. And of course Jackson (who was in the top 10 Giants in WAR, which surprised me) played third toward the end of his career. 

The Outfield: Barry Bonds, Orlando Cepeda, Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Mel Ott.

There is Bonds (whatever you think of him as a person or as a steroids user), there is Mays, and there is Ott. Everyone else is a huge drop, a really huge drop. You could make an argument that across the three outfield positions (left, center, and right) the Giants may have the best starting outfield ever. But you need backups and at the point you get past the big three you end up with a lot of quality outfielders. Cepeda’s knees sent him to first, but he began in the outfield. Irvin was a converted middle infielder who lost several years to segregation. Both are just short of the top-tier. I had to leave out both Felipe and Matty Alou, which I was sorry to do because I’d liked both when they played. Jeff Leonard and Kevin Mitchell were good for too short a time to be considered at the top.

The Catchers: Roger Bresnahan and Buster Posey.

OK, who else was there? Look at the Giants’ list of catchers and tell me you like anyone better. As a rule, Giants catching has been very weak. Buck Ewing is excluded as a pre-1890s player.  Hank Severeid maybe, but if that’s the best you can do then we’re stuck with these two. I hesitate to pick a current player like Posey, but it’s a really weak position and Posey has the advantage of coming to the Giants and they win a World Series. Then he gets hurt and they falter. Then he’s healthy again and they win another World Series. That’s a pretty good legacy, isn’t it?

The Starters: Carl Hubbell, Juan Marichal, Christy Mathewson, Joe McGinnity, Gaylord Perry, Amos Rusie.

You know, you could make a pretty fair five man rotation for the Giants just using pitchers whose last name began with the letter “M”. You could dump those bums Perry and Rusie and insert Rube Marquard and Sal Maglie and still have a darned good staff. I didn’t. I have a feeling that in a few years both Lincecum and Cain will be getting some consideration on lists like this.

The Bullpen: Rod Beck, Rob Nen, Hoyt Wilhelm.

Not the strongest part of the Giants history. Wilhelm made the Hall of Fame, but his tenure with New York was relatively short. Most of his Cooperstown credentials are from other teams. Nen and Beck are simply one, two in saves, so why not?

The Manager: John J. McGraw.

Surely you saw that coming.

So there it is in all its glory; for good ,bad, or indifferent. I think it’s a pretty fair list, but I’m sure a lot of people will disagree. Feel free to do so. (I have this nagging feeling I’ve left somebody out).

2012 Awards: MVP

November 1, 2012

Lefty Grove, 1st AL winner of the modern MVP Award holding the 1931 MVP trophy

Part three of this series looks at the MVP award.

NL–There seems to be a building consensus that this is Buster Posey’s award. OK, fine by me. Posey led the NL in average (and tied for first in sacrifice flies), was second in OBP, fourth in slugging, and sixth in RBIs. That’s a good enough season, but it’s not overwhelming. Ryan Braun, in particular, had an equally fine season. I know he will be punished for the steroid allegations. But remember he beat those and without reference to how he did  so, he is to be considered innocent. That won’t matter, he’ll still be stiffed. Melky Cabrera has the same problem, although there’s no question of his guilt. So I have no real problem with Posey winning, but if that’s the most valuable season in the Nl, then it wasn’t a great year for individual play in the NL (as opposed to great team play). Having said that, if I had a vote, it would go to Posey.

AL–Nearly everyone agrees this is a two-man race: Miguel Cabrera vs Mike Trout. I have no idea which will actually win, but my guess is there are enough traditionalists voting that the Triple Crown will push Cabrera over the top. I would vote that way myself.

There seem to be two arguments for Trout. One revolves around the stat WAR. In researching this post I read everything I could find on WAR that explained how it worked, what it showed. I found two problems with it. First, there seem to be two versions of the stat and I’m supposed to bow down before the baseball god that WAR has become when I don’t know which version to bow before? Gimme a break. Second, most of those articles included a sentence that went about like this, “WAR is flawed, but…”. And it’s the word “flawed” that bothers me. In the last half-dozen or so years WAR has become the queen of stats. Lead in WAR and you’re somehow a baseball god. But if experts admit it’s flawed why use it more than any other stat (all of which are flawed) as the be-all, end-all of statistics? This is not an indictment of WAR as a statistic, but an indictment of the idea that because someone leads his league in WAR, or average, or OBP, or OPS+ or God knows what else, that it automatically qualifies him for MVP. 

Another part of the WAR argument is that a 10.7 WAR is so rare that it merits an MVP. Any feat that is particularly difficult to accomplish must be worth more than one that’s at least a bit more common. If you buy that argument, then you vote for Cabrera. Trout is tied for 20th (with Willie Mays and Ted Williams) on the yearly WAR list (according to Baseball Reference). Know how many times someone won the Triple Crown in the entire 20th Century? Try 13 (and two more in the 19th Century). Apparently it’s harder to win the Triple Crown than it is to post 10.7 WAR.

The other argument for Trout deals with his impact on his team.The argument goes like this.  His team was floundering. They were supposed to be good, but they were having a rough time. So they brought up a player to fill in a key defensive position and the team went nuts, putting up winning numbers. That’s a good story, but it’s also the story of Pete Kozma at St. Louis, of Marco Scutaro at San Francisco and to some extent Brandon Inge at Oakland. No one (including me) has any of the latter three in the debate over the MVP. At least Kozma, Scutaro, and Inge helped their particular team to the playoffs. My point is that Trout did indeed provide a  spark to his team but so did other players. If your premise is that Trout showed up and helped a floundering team and that’s the sole reason you want Trout as MVP, it’s just not enough in my eyes. Trout may have been a better player than either Kozma or Scutaro, but I’m not sure he was more valuable. I understand that both Kozma and Scutaro were in the other league, but I  want to make the point that just revitalizing your team may not be enough to make you the MVP, especially if someone has great numbers and a winning team.

I know others will tell me I’m wrong (they’re entitled to make a mistake 🙂 ). But that’s my position. I’d vote for Cabrera and I hope the MVP voters do also.

One question about WAR about which I couldn’t find an answer. Is the replacement level player pool recalculated yearly? For instance in 1924 that level would include a guy named Gehrig. Today it wouldn’t. Does that make a difference?

Picking the Winners: Rookies

November 3, 2010

Brad Komminsk

So the unimportant voting is finally over and the nation swings Red. Now we can get on to finding out how the really important voting went. Who won all the MLB awards?

As with the previous post I’m going to project who I think will win one of the awards. This time I’m going with the Rookie of the Year Award. Again, this is who I think the writers will pick, not who I think should win (although sometimes I agree with the pick).

AL-Neftali Feliz. I think the combination of 100 MPH fastball, 40 saves, a division title for a team that hadn’t won anything in a while, (remember all votes are in before the playoffs start) and his age will give Feliz the AL Rookie of the Year Award.

NL-Buster Posey. OK, here I’m going to admit that I may be projecting my own choice. This one could easily be wrong. I think it’s a two-man race with Jason Heyward and I think the writers will ultimately pick a Posey over a Heyward. First, Posey plays a harder position. Second, Heyward had a weak September and some of these voters don’t remember all the way back to last week, let alone to June. Third, the Giants win their division and Atlanta is the wild card. I’m not sure how much difference that makes, but it may be a deciding factor is some voter’s mind.

And finally (and I’ve put this in a different paragraph for a  reason), Heyward was a mild disappointment. Remember the first few weeks of his time in Atlanta? He was touted as the second  coming of Henry Aaron. That happens a lot. Every time the Dodgers come up with a left-hander who’s any good “He’s the next Koufax.” Well, no, he isn’t. When the Yankees get a new catcher who’s worth a damn “He’s the next Berra.” No, he isn’t. In Atlanta the next great thing is “The next Hank Aaron.” Well, no he isn’t. So, at the risk of nagging, just stop it. Quit already. The pressure put on a player to live up to that hype is enormous and it’s also unfair. I remember when Brad Komminsk was the next Hank Aaron. He never even got close. I remember they hung that tag on David Justice. Justice won a Rookie of the Year Award and hit the World Series winning homer in 1995, but there was always an aura of unfulfilled promise about him because he was supposed to be Hank Aaron and he just wasn’t. I’m afraid the same thing is going to happen to Heyward too and that would be a shame and grossly unfair to the man.