Posts Tagged ‘Ivan Rodriguez’

The Class of 2017: Some Thoughts

January 19, 2017

So we now know who is and who isn’t in the Hall of Fame Class of 2017. Here’s a few notes on the results. As usual, in honor of a nine inning game, there are nine of them.

1. Congratulations to all five winners. My list might have been different, but this is a solid slate of inductees.

2. I feel a little sorry for both Trevor Hoffman and Vlad Guerrero. Both managed to pick up 70% plus in the voting (Hoffman missed the class by four votes) but failed election. It must be tough to get that close and not make it. But it bodes well for both next year.

3. The steroid boys ended up a mixed bag. Both Clemens and Bonds are rising. Neither Sheffield nor Sosa are doing well. Ramirez did not debut particularly high (apparently “Manny being Manny” wasn’t a big enough draw). It seems that the writers still haven’t made up their mind about the issue, although it’s possible that the pre-steroid careers of Clemens and Bonds have more weight than do the pre-steroid careers of the others. All this mimics “conventional wisdom” about if and when the five of them started using the stuff, not my own opinion (which is strictly my own).

4. I’m surprised Jorge Posada dropped off the list after one vote. He was, after all, part of the “Core Four,” the greatest single combination of baseball talent together on one field since Abner Doubleday (or maybe not). Seriously, I thought he’d do better because of the positive press he and his team had gotten over the years. He was an important member of the multi-pennant winning team that played in New York and that got him a lot of recognition. I never expected he’d make a run on the first ballot, but I didn’t expect him to fall off entirely. Shows what I know.

5. There are a lot of allegations about PED use by Ivan Rodriguez. His election, along with Bud Selig’s, now makes it easier for others to reach Cooperstown. Again, I make no comment on whether the allegations are true.

6. They tell me that the openness of the balloting this year, and the publishing of the complete balloting next year is changing the vote. OK, maybe. But I see no actual proof of that. It’s possible that removing the “dead weight” after last year’s voting may be making more changes than the new “openness.” We’ll see in a year or so.

7. Edgar Martinez made a big move. Hooray. Come on, people, DH is a position like first base is a position. So they’re played differently. First base and second base are played differently. So are second and shortstop. At some point baseball is going to have to deal with the DH being a position that is no longer merely the refuge of old guys who can’t run the bases anymore. The Hall came close with Paul Molitor, so now it’s time to deal with it with Martinez.

8. Mike Mussina is doing better. Curt Shilling isn’t. I have no idea how much Shilling’s politics is involved in that trend. It shouldn’t be at all.

9. It seems the gap between traditional stats and the newer ones is narrowing when it comes to election to the Hall of Fame. I have no idea it that’s good, bad, or indifferent.

The Class of 2017

January 18, 2017

According to MLB.com the BBWAA has elected Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez to the Hall of Fame. They will enter the Hall along with Bud Selig and John Schuerholz as the Class of 2017. Trevor Hoffman and Vlad Guerrero came closest to election without making it.  Comments to follow.

10 For the 2017 Hall of Fame

November 23, 2016
A Roy Campanella statue at the Hall of Fame

A Roy Campanella statue at the Hall of Fame

With the new Hall of Fame ballot out, it’s time to announce to a breathless, adoring audience my 10 picks for the Hall. I always vote for 10 no matter the list (well, I can make exceptions, but not many) because it gives me a chance to acknowledge a personal favorite who I know doesn’t seriously belong in Cooperstown (unless he pays for a ticket) but who deserves at least a mention as a stalwart. So now for the breathless and adoring crew (and the rest of you too) is the 2017 list:

1 Jeff Bagwell–after Albert Pujols the best first baseman in the last 30 years. One MVP award, a World Series appearance at the end of his career. There is some question about steroids, but not enough to worry me.

2. Trevor Hoffman–arguably the finest reliever in the National League. He’s second in saves, but has the same problem as any other reliever; too few innings pitched. I’d still take him as the best in NL history.

3. Jeff Kent–overlooked at second base. He’s something of a borderline case for me, but ultimately I think I’d take him. Has an MVP and lots of good numbers.

4. Edgar Martinez–came up late because the idiots at Seattle were idiots. Probably the best Designated Hitter ever. They named the DH Award for him (but then there’s an award for everything and you have to name them for somebody). I don’t hold being a DH against a player. It’s been a position for 40 years and isn’t going away so we’re going to have to deal with it.

5. Mike Mussina–has the problem of never winning a Series, or of having a lot of 20 win seasons. Still one of the better pitchers of the era although he gets lost behind Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine, Randy Johnson, etc.

6. Tim Raines–Please, Lord, it’s almost the end for his time on the ballot. Let the BBWAA finally figure out he was really, really, really good.

7. Curt Schilling–bloody sock or not, he was a terrific postseason pitcher, a premier pitcher on multiple pennant winning teams (don’t forget the Phils) and a consistent thrower. Unfortunately, his political views may create a problem for him, but remember he’s being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame not to the State House.

8. Larry Walker–I don’t want to hear about Coors Field. He was terrific in Montreal, great in Colorado, damned good on the road with the Rockies, and still pretty fair while with the Cardinals late in his career.

9. Vlad Guerrero–the Will Rogers of the late 20th Century. He never met a pitch he didn’t like. Not much of a fielder, but the man could hit a white ball in a snowstorm. I can’t imagine he gets in on the first try, but I’d take him.

10. Jorge Posada–catchers have lower numbers to begin with, but Posada was a mainstay on a ton of Yankees teams that won a lot of games. He fit the 1990s Yanks mold of being very good at a lot of things. Again, I don’t think he’ll make it (after all he’s not Yogi Berra or Bill Dickey) but Jeter wasn’t the only player on that team worthy of consideration.

All of which brings me to the question of who I left off. The obvious new name is Ivan Rodriguez. He’s one of the handful of players you can legitimately call the greatest catcher ever (although I wouldn’t), but there is the stench of steroids hanging over him. Until that is resolved he joins Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa as guys you couldn’t pay me to vote for (well, maybe for enough money). I’m sorry to have left off Fred McGriff who I think suffers from ending just short of 500 home runs and looking like a piker after the steroids era. I’d like to have thrown a vote toward Tim Wakefield. And frankly, I’d like to give J.D. Drew a shout out. He deserves remembering, but he’s not really a Hall of Famer.

That’s my list and I’m sticking to it.

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.

Adios, Jorge

January 13, 2012

Jorge Posada

Now that I expended all my Spanish, except for words like Taco, burrito, and refried beans, on the title, it’s time to bid farewell to Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. Never been a great fan of either the Yankees or Posada, but it’s tough to overlook his accomplishments. So now the Core Four are down to the Dynamic Duo (or is that Batman and Robin?).

I’ve always been sure that Posada was overlooked when it came to the great Yankees teams of 1996-2010. This was Derek Jeter’s team. Or it was Mariano Rivera’s team. Posada sometimes seemed to be the guy who wasn’t Joe Girardi. That’s kind of a shame. He was not just good, but was a key part of the team. He wasn’t Bernie Williams cool or Paul O’Neil fiery or Tino Martinez clutch or even Chuck Knoblauch error-prone. He was, however, always there, always contributing, always available.

In some ways he wasn’t a typical Yankees catcher. He wrote children’s books (can you seriously image Yogi Berra doing that?). I read one. It was pretty good (Heck, I even understood it). He was, despite a notable accent, quite articulate. He was a major conduit into the Hispanic community.

Part of  his problem was that he was almost never the best catcher of the era. For the last decade of the 20th Century both Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez were better and for much of the first few years of the 21st that was still true. By the time they were fading there was Joe Mauer. And he was also a Yankees catcher. Consider this pedigree: Wally Schang, Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson. Quite a legacy to live up to, right? By and large I thought Posada lived up to it quite well. So he wasn’t Yogi or he wasn’t Dickey. Well, almost no one else has ever been either, but to be mentioned with them is quite a feat. And that’s not taking into account that his wife  looks like this:

Laura Posada

So from a non-fan of the Yankees, Adios,  Jorge. You were better than we anti-Yankees types wished. You were also better than we baseball fans could have hoped for. Enjoy your retirement.