The Hall of Fame Isn’t Far for Roberto Alomar.

21 11 2010

Posted by Brady

Ten Gold Gloves (deservedly), two World Series rings, 474 stolen bases, and 12 All-Star games make up Roberto Alomar’s Hall of Fame resume. Alomar, along with Bert Blyleven, should easily make it baseball’s shrine on this ballot.

When people speak about Alomar, the phrase “greatest second baseman in history” is often times uttered. And rightfully so. According to baseball-reference.com, several of the most similar hitters to Alomar are Hall of

When people speak about Roberto Alomar, the phrase "greatest second baseman in history" is often times uttered.

Famers. Ryne Sandberg, Joe Morgan, Bill Mazeroski, Frankie Frisch, Charlie Gehringer, and Bobby Doerr are all Hall of Fame second basemen, keeping this Hall of Fame second baseman company.

Alomar spent most of his career with the Toronto Blue Jays (5 whole years) and won two World Series rings with Cito Gaston’s Blue Jays. And he was a stud in the Jays title drive. He hit .320 /.380/.471 during it. Alomar took home the ALCS MVP in 1992. In 1993, during the Jays second title drive, it was a similar story, but no MVP award.

After the 1995 season, Alomar signed with the Baltimore Orioles, and he did not miss a beat. He put up almost identical numbers, and proved to be one of the best top of the order hitters around. Though he didn’t run as much in Baltimore as he did in Toronto (his Baltimore high stolen base total was 17, which would have been his low in Toronto), he did find more power. He clouted an at the time career high 22 home runs and 43 doubles.  As productive as Alomar was in Baltimore, his first season there was not without its controversy. After arguing with an umpire over a third strike call, Alomar hurled his saliva in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck. Naturally he was thrown out of the game, and fined. But, luckily for Alomar and Ty Cobb, being a nice person is not a requirement for enshrinement, despite how much some voters try to tell you it is.

After Alomar was done with Baltimore in 1998, he went to Cleveland, to play with older brother Sandy Alomar. This was actually the second time the two would play on the same team. They both played on the 1988 and 1989 Padres team. He put up great numbers in every aspect of the game, and his first year in Cleveland, he hammered a new career high in home runs. 24.

Through his time with Toronto, Baltimore and Cleveland, Alomar was racking up the awards. 12 straight All-Star games, 10 Gold Gloves, and 4 Silver Sluggers.

He was as disiplined at the plate as they come. He never struck out more than 96 times, and he walked more than he struck out seven times.

It’s hard to keep Alomar out of the Hall of Fame. The only question is what insignia will he have on his cap? My guess is Toronto.

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In 2011, Vote for Blyleven

6 11 2010

Posted by Brady

“I’m really sad. I took it for granted that Dawson and Blyleven were going to get in.”-Hall of Famer, owner of 8 NL batting titles, and 3141 base hits, Tony Gwynn had to say about Bert Blyleven’s Hall of Fame snub last year. When Robin Yount was a rookie he said “If I have to face guys like Bert Blyleven, I don’t think I’m going to make it at this level.” and after facing Blyleven 114 times, he hit .182 with 1 home run. And Robin Yount was a damn good hitter.

The main knock against Blyleven is the notion that he wasn’t dominant enough. I suppose it all depends on your definition of “dominant.” He falls squarely into the mantra for current Twins pitching. Throw strikes. And he did that. Posting a 1.14 WHIP in his first stint with the Twins, and a 1.2 WHIP through the rest of his career.  Blyleven retired with a 1.198 WHIP.

 

When Robin Yount was a rookie he said "If I have to face guys like Bert Blyleven, I don't think I'm going to make it at this level."

But limiting walks wasn’t the only thing “The Frying Dutchman” could do. He knew how to hold on to the baseball. In his 22 MLB seasons, Bert Blyleven pitched 200 innings 17 times, and 300 innings once. With 242 complete games and 60 shutouts, he ranks second all time in both categories. Second only to the immortal Nolan Ryan. That’s not where the Nolan Ryan comparisons end, either. Ryan is the all-time strikeout leader with 5,714.  Blyleven is fifth with 3,701.  Right after Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Steve Carlton. And while the Anti-Blyleven crowd often expresses admiration for his strikeout total, the very next thing they say is “He was an accumulator. He stuck around to get that lofty total.”  But they never seem to realize that out of every member of the 3,000 strikeout club, that have officially retired, only Tom Seaver, Fergie Jenkins, Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Walter Johnson had shorter careers. They also have less strikeouts. And the only one has a WHIP that is ridiculously higher than Blyleven is Walter Johnson at 1.009. Blyleven is every bit as dominant, from a statistical standpoint than every one of these pitchers.

There are two knocks against Blyleven when it comes to his not being in the Hall of Fame. The lack of a Cy Young Award, falling 12 wins short of 300. Both of these truly confuse me. Bob Gibson has 251 wins, and Nolan Ryan doesn’t have any Cy Young Awards. He has the misfortune to have played in an era when wins were THE way that starting pitchers were evaluated. And when he became eligible for induction, we were still in that era. He also had the misfortune to pitch for a team that had Joe Lis (who?) as the starting first baseman. Hardly Blyeven’s fault. He does, however, have a no-hitter.

September 22, 1977. On Blyleven’s last start of the season. Blyleven hurled 9 no hit innings, striking out 7 California Angels, and coming one walk away from a perfect game. 28 batters faced him, and he retired 27. He and teammate Dock Ellis likely went out to party that night.

When confronted with his lack of baseball immortality, Blyleven handles it with

Having fallen 5 votes short in 2010, Blyleven should be expecting a call in 2011

humor. It was at TwinsFest 2010, when I ran into Bert Blyleven. Andre Dawson had just been elected to the Hall, while Blyleven fell 5 votes short. “**** the Hall of Fame” I said to Bert. He laughed, looked at me and said “Don’t say that loudly. They’re here right now.” But then he whispered, but you’re right. **** them.”

Having fallen 5 votes short in 2010, Blyleven should be expecting a call in 2011. It should be a great early birthday present.





Potential Hall of Famer: Joe Mauer

28 09 2010

This is the third installment of PTPP’s ongoing series about current players, who could one day be enshrined in Cooperstown. The greatest of this generation. We’re not talking about Albert Pujols, Derek Jeter or Ichiro. We’re

Right now, when Joe Mauer comes up to bat at Target Field, they play "What You Know About That?" but they could easily play the theme from "The Natural"

talking about Chase Utley, and Miguel Cabrera. And today, we’re going to focus on the man behind the dish. Four time All-Star, one time Most Valuable Player, who was also drafted number one, overall. Ahead of Mark Prior and Mark Teixeira. The face of the Minnesota Twins franchise Joe Mauer.

Advanced statics, such as WAR, don’t really illustrate a catcher’s value. His career WAR comes solely from his offensive numbers, as there is not yet a reliable defensive metric for catchers. That being said, Mauer could end up being the greatest hitting catcher of all time. Take a guess as to which of the following four catchers is who.

Catcher A: .308/.377/.545

Catcher B: .267/.342/.476

Catcher C: .327/.408/.428

Catcher D: .285/.348/.482

Catcher A is Mike Piazza, B is Johnny Bench, C is Mauer, and D is Yogi Berra. As we can plainly see, Mauer gets on base more than any of them, but he has less power than all of them. But his raw hitting, is superior to all of them. Which makes sense. He does have three batting titles.

Mauer has been said to have the greatest left handed swing since Ken Griffey Jr.'s.

Only 2 catchers in history have a batting title. Bubbles Hargrave in 1926, and Ernie Lombardi won two. One in 1938 and one in 1942.  Mauer has been said to have the greatest left handed swing since Ken Griffey Jr.’s. Sports Illustrated said he’s the best bet to be next player to hit over .400.  His 2009 season proved that he is capable of Roy Hobbs-esque feats.

The only thing that has derailed him are a few injuries, but he’s always come better than before.

Right now, when Joe Mauer comes up to bat at Target Field, they play “What You Know About That?” but they could easily play the theme from “The Natural” like they do in Texas for Josh Hamilton, and I don’t think anyone could blame them.

In Minnesota, you can say to anybody on the street, and say “What did Joe do last night?” And you’ll get one of two responses. It will either be “I don’t watch baseball.” Or “3-4 with a double and 2 RBIs.” He’s truly loved here. Any baseball fan knows how much Twins fans swoon over Kirby Puckett. Kirby has nothing on Joe. He’s just a local St. Paul boy, making good.





Potential Hall of Famers: Miguel Cabrera

9 09 2010

Posted by Brady

This is the second in my Potential Hall of Fame series. Today’s subject is the face of the Detroit Tigers franchise, a true Twins killer, and a truly elite hitter. Miguel Cabrera.

When I think of words to describe Miguel Cabrera, the first word I think of is “monster”. But what other words are there? Champion? He does have a ring, with the 2003 Marlins. Consistent? He’s hit .320 or higher in 5 out his 8 seasons. And 6 of those years, he’s hit 30 or more home runs.  He’s a 5 time All-Star. Essentially, he is a poor man’s Albert Pujols.

At the dish, there is literally nothing this man can’t do. In his 8 years, he’s hit 242 home runs. ZiPS has projected him hitting 5 more this year, bringing his season total to 38.  He is a legitimate threat to hit what old-timers consider the definitive home run milestone. 500. What’s the most amazing thing about this? He’s only 27.  He has more power than a good majority of players in the game. Advanced statistics agree with this. Cabrera has put up an ISO of .237.

Miguel Cabrera seems to hit an automatic .320 with 30 home runs every year.

Not only does this man have power, but he has patience. Throughout his career, he has only swung at 27% of pitches outside of the zone. While higher than Joe Mauer’s, it is lower than Vladimir Guerrero’s. Either way, that has given him a career OBP of .388 lifetime, and .428 this year.

Throughout the American League, when your team is in a tied game, and there are runners on, late innings, this is one of the guys you do not want to pitch to. He will find a a way to hurt you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a Twins game, and Miguel Cabrera does what you thought was impossible. All I have to do is go back to game 163 of last year. He had two hits. A home run and a double. And this was after run in with the law, and hitting below the Mendoza line for his last 7 games.

But, let this be said about Miguel Cabrera. He is purely an offensive force. He is a perennial 6 WAR player, and that is with a -60.6 UZR. Now, in all fairness, that is spread out over first base, third base, left field, and right field.

Miguel Cabrera can hit with the best of them. You always hear about Justin

Miguel Cabrera is essentially, a poor man's Albert Pujols.

Morneau hitting .300 with 30 home runs every year. And while that isn’t entirely accurate, it’s close. And he’s a borderline potential Hall of Famer. Well, Miguel Cabrera seems to hit an automatic .320 with 30 home runs every year. As far as I’m concerned, he just has to keep doing some semblance of what he has been doing over the last few years, and he will have his face in bronze in Cooperstown.





Potential Hall of Famers: Chase Utley

4 09 2010

Posted by Brady

This is the first in a series of posts that will examine the modern greats. Those who are on the fast track for the Hall of Fame. Those who aren’t locks. Yet. You won’t hear any talk about Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Ichiro Suzuki, or Alex Rodriguez. These are elite players who could easily have a plaque in Cooperstown after they retire, if they keep doing what they’ve done the last few years. We’re going to start the conversation with Philadelphia Phillies second sacker, Chase Utley.

He's a .293 career hitter with a .314 BABIP. It's nice to see a hitter who relies on skill as opposed to luck.

You always hear about a player having all 5 tools. Speed, the ability to hit for average, the ability to hit for power, throwing, and defending. And personally, I can’t think of a finer example of a 5 tool player than Chase Utley. The coolest thing about Utley? How accurate his batting average is. He rarely relies on luck. There is a 21 point difference between his BABIP and the batting average that appears on the back of his baseball card. He’s a .293 career hitter with a .314 BABIP. It’s nice to see a hitter who relies on skill as opposed to luck.

How does his power stack up? He’s never had a full season where he hit less than 20 home runs. Even advanced statistics would consider Chase Utley a legitimate power threat. His current SLG% is .518. Which puts him above four members of the 500 home run club. Which ones? Eddie Matthews, Harmon Killibrew, Willie McCovey, Reggie Jackson, and Gary Sheffield. And while SLG% may be a flawed statistic, since it includes your singles, ISO (isolated power) subtracts your batting average from your SLG%, to give you a truer numerical representation of a batters power. Utley is at .223.  Jackson is at .228, Killibrew is at .252, McCovey is at .245, Sheffield is at .222, and Matthews is at .238. What do these numbers tell us? They tell us that while Utley may not be on the same level as Killibrew, McCovey, and Matthews in the power department, he is there with Mr. October and Gary Sheffield. Not bad company. Especially for a second baseman.

By the time he's done, Utley could easily be the greatest second baseman ever.

Second base, which we all know is a defense first position, is where Utley plays. But, how does he play it? Very well. According to every possible metric. You traditionalists may look at his career .981 fielding percentage, and be very impressed. Then when you look at his UZR, you can see he’s played at an elite level. He’s posted an ultimate zone rating of 78.8 in his career. 78.8! Guess how many Gold Gloves he has? None.

Utley can hit for average, hit for power, play great defense, and he can run! He’s stolen 89 bases in 101 attempts. That’s a 75% success rate. He stole 23 in 2009, and was not caught. That was also his 20-20 year.

A lot of people say that Joe Morgan was the best hitting (and worst announcing) second baseman ever. A lot of people say that Bill Mazeroski is the greatest defensive second baseman ever. By the time he’s done, Utley could easily be the greatest second baseman ever. All he has to do is play 2 more years, at a similar pace, and this zero time MVP, 5 time All-Star, second baseman who has contributed 42.7 WAR (more than 6 for 5 years straight), will be a lock for immortality in Cooperstown.