Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top Ten: Pitchers

Ok, here's what's happening. Nothing notable for the Twins, (I broke down all of their moves a few days ago.) so since nothing's going on, I need something to write about. For the next nine weeks, I'll be ranking the top 10 players at each position. Rolling them out once a week, on Saturdays. I'll start with Pitchers. Here they are.
1. Walter Johnson: Just look at his numbers. Holy @#$%! Lead the league in ERA five times, WHIP six times, and strikeouts twelve times and innings pitched five times. The Big Train just didn't have any weaknesses.
2. Sandy Koufax: One of the biggest tragedies of all time is that Koufax didn't have a full career to dominate. It took him a couple seasons to take off, but once he did, he was unhittable. From 1961 to 1966. An average season for him was 22-8 with a 2.19 ERA. Pitchers peak differently than hitters. They get smarter as they age. There's a good chance Koufax would have had at least five more fantastic seasons.
3. Greg Maddux: His numbers aren't as imposing as some of the other players on this list, but the era he pitched in was different too. In the '90s he had a 2.59 ERA and averaged 19-10. This was the same time Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco and others were putting up inhuman numbers. There weren't a lot of pitchers who excelled in that era.
4. Lefty Grove: Grove's baseball reference page is one of my favorites to look at. He has the only page that makes regular stats look awful. from 1929 to 1932, Grove posted ERAs of 2.81, 2.54, 2.06 and 2.84, before ballooning to almost a full point above his ERA during that stretch... all the way up to 3.20.
5. Tom Seaver: All you need to know about Tom Seaver is that he came in the top five of Cy Young voting, eight times, and the top ten ten times. He also posted a career ERA of 2.86, and led the league in strikeouts five times.
6. Bob Feller: There's a very good chance that Feller's career would have been remembered differently if he hadn't had to serve in World War II. his three previous seasons before he had to serve our country his ERAs were 2.85, 2.61 and 3.15. Had he pitched in those four seasons he lost,  there's a good chance he adds about sixty wins and some extremely good seasons to his resume.
7. Randy Johnson: Johnson is a perfect example of how pitchers age differently. From the ages 35-38, Johnson had a ERA of 2.48 and a WHIP of 1.044.  The Big Unit was also quite possibly the most intimidating pitcher of all time, depending on how you feel about the next guy on this list.
8. Bob Gibson: Now here's another intimidating pitcher. Even though he peaked in the year where pitchers dominated because of the mound being raised, there's no denying that he lead the league in almost every category that season. The rest of his career is pretty good too, posting a career 2.91 ERA.
9. Grover Cleveland Alexander: Alexander was one of the best pitchers of the dead ball era, leading the league in ERA five times, as well as WHIP another five. His win totals are a bit hard to swallow considering he won 30 games three times, which wouldn't happen in today's MLB. However, he did lead the league those years, showing that he was better than his contemporaries.
10: Warren Spahn: Spahn along with Johnny Sain anchored a somewhat less than stellar Braves rotation to respectability in the '50s and '60s. Spahn was a model of consistency, never dipping under fifteen wins from 1947-1963.  
Honorable Mention: Cy Young: I have no idea what to make of Young's career. For every good there seems to be a bad. He has more wins than anybody else, but he also has more losses too. He has the most innings pitched ever, but he also has allowed the most hits and runs ever. Was Young great or just someone who pitched for a long time? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hall of Fame

The hall of fame voting is coming up soon in one of the most loaded ballots of the century. I obviously can't vote, but here's who I would vote for it I could, in order from easiest to toughest.
Greg Maddux: One of the greatest pitchers of all time should have no trouble making it on his first ballot. Maddux was more than just a great pitcher, but also a workhorse, leading the league in inning pitched five times and complete games three and arguably the best fielding pitcher of all time, winning eighteen gold gloves.
Frank Thomas: In the era of crazy power stats and Sosa, McGwire and Bonds, Thomas  put up monster numbers year after year. He has never been connected to any sort of steroid rumors either. The Big Hurt ended his career with a .301 batting average. Ahead of Joe Morgan, Cal Ripken Jr, and Carl Yastrzemski, to name a few.
Tom Glavine: The Robin to Maddux's Batman, Glavine was also a very similar pitcher to Maddux. He led all pitchers in games started six times, and pitched over two hundred innings fourteen times in his career.
Craig Biggio: Biggio was one of the best and most underrated players of the 90s. You can't just use stats to measure his greatness. Stats won't tell you that he switched positions three times his career for the good of the team. They also won't tell you about his nonstop hustle, never taking a game off. And when you look at stats he wasn't too shabby either, averaging .281, 38 doubles and 24 stolen bases per year.
Barry Bonds: I'm not a huge fan of disregarding steroids, but hear me out on this one. What happens if you take the steroids away from Sammy Sosa? You get a skinny little outfielder who averaged nine homers a year from 1989 to 1992. What about Bonds? You don't have the all time homer king, but you do have the only member of the four hundred homer four hundred steal club. An eight time gold glover, and a guy with at least one MVP. It's hard to speculate when he started using and what he would have done without them, but it's safe to say he would have still had a pretty good career.
Roger Clemens: Very similar to Bonds, if he hadn't juiced, we'd still consider him one of the greatest pitchers of all time. He didn't get huge or have an enlarged head like Bonds, so it's harder to tell when he began taking steroids, but my guess is that it was still pretty great.
Player A: Let's take a look a Player A's stats and compare them to Player B's.
Player A: .284 BA, .377 OBP, .509 SLG, 493 HRs, 1550 RBI
Player B: .267 BA, .380 OBP, .527 SLG, 548 HRs, 1595 RBI
Player B is Mike Schmidt. Player A is Fred McGriff. Look at those numbers again. Schmidt holds a slight lead in almost all of them, but why is Schmidt considered a no doubt hall of famer while McGriff has never gotten more than 23% of the vote? I'm not insinuating that McGriff is better than Schmidt, but he should at least get some attention. The thing that bothers me the most is that if McGriff had hit seven more homers in his career, or about an extra third of a home run every year, he might be in by now.
Tim Raines: Give me a reason Raines shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. You can't. He has a .385 on base percentage, a .291 batting average, and on top of that he was one of the most dangerous base stealers of all time. Compare him with Rickey Henderson. While Henderson holds the record for most stolen bases, he also has the record for most times thrown out, and his percentage is about 76%. Compare that to Raines' percentage. His 84% is clearly much better than Henderson's. Just like I said while comparing McGriff to Schmidt, I'm not saying Raines is better than Henderson, he just should get the attention he deserves.
The last two are a bit harder. There are three candidates who I think are deserving, but I only have two slots left. I'll start with.....
Mike Piazza: Without a shred of doubt Piazza's the best hitting catcher of all time. I don't think there's any argument against that. No one else comes even close to replicating his numbers. Of course there's the steroids controversy. Piazza did admit to using andro before it was banned in his book, Long Shot. I don't think that counts as a real PED. As far as those are concerned, my policy is innocent until proven guilty.
Jeff Bagwell: Bagwell had everything you could want in a player, power, (449 homers) hitting for average, (career .297 hitter) fielding, (won a gold glove in '93) durability, (played 162 games four times) and even speed, (stole 30 or more bases twice). Of course there's the sigh, PED controversy. Whatever see Piazza.
One last thing: Apologies to Edgar Martinez, Jeff Kent and Curt Schilling. Sorry, you don't quite make it.
Ok, that's mine. What do you guys think?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Twins Offseason Moves

Terry Ryan seems to be trying to make this team as mediocre as possible. Here's what I think of the moves.
Signing Ricky Nolasco: I'm fine with this move. It's a pretty reasonable price for a fourth starter. Even though with the Twins he'll be the first.
Signing Phil Hughes: This one I'm not a huge fan of. Hughes has only had one season with an ERA under 4 and that was in 2009 when he was a reliever. He seems like just a younger version of Correa.
Trading Ryan Doumit: This is a good move, especially because of....
Signing Kurt Suzuki: Suzuki is a solid fielding catcher, and a good player for Pinto to learn from. Swapping Doumit's atrocious defense is a great deal.
Now here's a move I'd like to see.
Trade Glen Perkins: Closers and relief pitcher in general are overrated. There are lots of players who can get three outs in the ninth and Perkins could bring in a decent prospect. Well that's it for now. Does anybody know long until pitchers and catchers report?