Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Top Ten: Left Fielders

1. Ted Williams: Williams won six bating titles, led the league in on base percentage twelve times, slugging percentage nine times, and OPS ten times. Did I mention he lost almost five seasons in the war during years in which he was supposed to be entering his prime. It would be like Mike Trout playing two more years, then leaving for three to be in the military. If he stays, there's a good chance he breaks Babe Ruth's home run record while recording another thousand hits. He gets my vote for best hitter of all time. Hands down.
2. Stan Musial: Stan the Man goes down as one of the most underrated nicknames of all time. It was simple but fun, and summed up all you needed to know about Musial: He was the man. His total career averages were .331/.417/.559 and was always a great teammate and never an A-hole to umpires or the media. He won seven batting titles, and led the league in OBP and slugging percentage six times.
3. Rickey Henderson: From 1979 to 1989, Rickey hit .290 and averaged 79 steals per year. Holy crap. (stares at a wall for six hours.) Alright I'm good to keep writing. Stats are only about half the reason Rickey was great. Everyone should have a favorite Rickey quote. Here's mine: While attempting a comeback with the Padres, he called GM Kevin Towers and said, "This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball."
4. Lou Brock: Brock didn't refer to himself in the third person, but he was a pretty good base stealer and underrated hitter, hitting over .300 eight times and hitting at least 20 doubles sixteen times.
5. Joe Jackson: Jackson's career slash line of .356/.423/.517 doesn't tell the entire story. What tells the whole story, is what a clutch player Jackson was who came through when it mattered. Most notably in the 1919 World Series in which he hit .375 and hit the only home run for either team in a noble White Sox losing effort.
6. Carl Yastrzemski: Yaz was spectacular in one of the toughest stretches of all time for hitters. He led the league in 27 categories over his career. In an OPS+ stat that takes into account the stadium and era some one played in. From 1965 to 1970, Yaz's OPS+ was 158, meaning he was 58 percent better than the average player during that stretch en route to winning the triple crown in '67.
7. Barry Bonds: Boooooooooooooooooooo! Sorry, that was every baseball stadium with the exception on AT&T Park in the '00s rudely interrupting my column. A few weeks ago in my Hall of Fame article I wrote this about 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.
8. Pete Rose: One of the hardest parts of these lists was looking for a place to put Rose. The hit king needs a space, even if he bet on games. First base was too loaded, he was below average at second base and didn't play enough at third to qualify.
9. Al Simmons: Simmons was an example for every youth coach to use not to do. It worked fine for "Bucketfoot Al" as he hit .334/.380/.535. Why wasn't that corrected? Did he not receive any coaching? I call this "The Youk affect" because he's the best example of a talented player with an awful swing. People should hire him to help small children hit. "You're looking pretty good, Kid, but you need to slide your hand up on your bat, put your feet right next to each other, and bounce up and down like you have a horrible rash on your butt."
10. Willie Stargell: Stargell hit 475 homers and 1,504 RBI in his career and was the heart and soul of the "We are Family" Pirates teams of the '70s. Pops was also one of the most intimidating hitters of all time standing at 6' 2" 188 pounds. Terrifying.

No comments:

Post a Comment