Posts Tagged ‘Hall of Fame’

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In no other sport do “magic numbers” mean more than in baseball. And while if the validity of such automatic qualifier numbers is still current, or needs to be revised for today’s game is another debate completely, there are still round numbers that prove excellence has been met for a long enough time to take note.

Each new summer brings a chance for a new chance for certain career mile-markers to be met each summer. This summer is no exception, as a few standout marks will be met. On the heels of his recent announcement to retire following the season, Derek Jeter will put the finishing touches on his legacy, which will see him move through the top 10 all-time in hits—and potential reach an awe inspiring cap.

Likewise, Albert Pujols will begin to touch some of the hallowed marks that his effort has long forecasted, as will Miguel Cabrera. More surprisingly however, is what the summer could represent for Adrian Beltre, who is on the cusp of several numbers that will begin to create a completely different connotation for his body of work.

Here are the major career milestones that stand to be met in the 2014 MLB campaign.

HITS

3,500 Hits

3,316—Derek Jeter is 184 hits short of becoming the sixth player ever to reach 3,500 hits. He is 199 hits away from moving ahead of Tris Speaker for fifth place all-time (3,514).

2,500 Hits

2,426—Adrian Beltre will easily surpass the 2,500 level and enters an important year towards making a decisive push towards getting aligned for a shot at 3,000 in his late prime at age 35.

2,000 Hits

1,996—Miguel Cabrera is four hits (or a game and a half for him) away.

1,993—Raul Ibanez is seven hits short of the mark at age 41.

HOME RUNS

500 Home Runs

492—Albert Pujols has hit a home run one per every 14.9 per at-bats in his career, and enters the season eight shy. Not that there was any doubt about his legacy, but this is the first in a line of major posts to be met by the three-time MVP.

450 Home Runs

440—Adam Dunn is ten way, and has hit one per every 14.7 at-bats in his career. It is not certain if he’ll continue after 2014, but he would be safely in range of 500 if he plays through 2015.

438—Paul Konerko is 12 short, and has homered once per every 18.9 at-bats in his career, but will be in a part-time role.

431—David Ortiz is 19 short, and has not had a season with less than 20 in a year since 2001.

400 Home Runs

376—Adrian Beltre, and he has averaged 32 per season over the past four years.

365—Miguel Cabrera is 35 away and has hit not had season total below 44 since 2011.

RUNS BATTED IN

1,500 RBI

1,498—Albert Pujols will meet the mark easily.

1,000 RBI

966—Matt Holliday should meet the mark by the All-Star Break at the latest.

963—Ryan Howard (health abiding) should move past the 1,000 mark. He’s never had a season with fewer than 43 RBI.

500 DOUBLES

495—Adrian Beltre will easily surpass the next milestone in his signature hit in the first month of the year.

200 WINS

189—Bartolo Colon is 11 shy of hitting the 200 mark, due to his late career resurgence in Oakland.

186—Mark Buehrle enters the year 14 victories short of the level. However, if history speaks for the future, he’ll have to wait until next summer—he has won 13 in four of the past five years, and has not topped 13 since 2008.

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2,500 STRIKEOUTS

2,389—CC Sabathia will become the ninth left-hander ever to surpass 2,500 strikeouts this summer, joining Randy Johnson, Steve Carlton, Mickey Lolich, Frank Tanana, Chuck Finley, Tom Glavine, Warren Spahn and Jerry Koosman.

SAVES

350 Saves

341—Joe Nathan enters the year nine saves shy of becoming the ninth player to ever accumulate 350, and has a shot to reach as high as seventh all-time this summer.

300 Saves

286—Jonathan Papelbon stands to shoot up past the middle-tier of closers historically and into near elite standing this year. With his standard 30+ saves he not only passes 300, but to pass into the top 10 next year.

286—Jose Valverde he was signed by the Mets last week to provide bullpen depth, so there’s no clear road to 300, but if he somehow ends up in the role due to an injury to Bobby Parnell he could meet it.

 

For the moments as they inevitably happen in real-time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan. For more content, head to I70 Baseball and The Sports Fan Journal.

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Today is the day that newest class for the Baseball Hall of Fame will be revealed. It is a class that had the potential—if all things were created equal—to be greatest induction class of all-time. There are a total of 15 Most Valuable Player, 14 Cy_Young and 5 World Series MVP Awards up for the vote this year, an outstandingly high level of achievement.

However, we all know that it is not an equal playing field, even for the owners of these achievements. Because the game has morphed into a different type of machine than it was when the doors in Cooperstown first open in June of 1939, a time that was much different than today. And while it is both cliché and antiquated to reach for the value of baseball in generations that have long passed, it is also an exercise in tireless purpose. Because more than any other game, history has more relevance in baseball than any other sport and it still shapes the present and the future of the game acutely. It defines the highs and lows equally, a phenomenon that is still actively going on to this day.

However, on a day where debate will take an equal billing with celebration, it seems to be good time for context back to the beginning of the Hall of Fame, the first days where the task of sorting out a Hall of Famer was a truly arduous task, albeit one devoid of much of the reserve that has made the decision now so confounding.

When the doors to Cooperstown opened up in 1939, the Hall of Fame as an entity had been established already for three years, but there was no physical location for it to be observed. But once this was established, the most comprehensive and star-studded induction ceremony ever took place. Ironically, the early rules were as unintentionally complicated as the current ones (which are somewhat similar) have been made to be. The main guideline was for a player to get 75% of the vote, which has endured. Yet before there was some clarity brought to the request of voting for an inductee, it was spread all around the ballot and even extended to some active players and retirees that had not yet been done for the now-requisite five years.

Yet when it was sorted, out the results of it were fantastic, and here are the initial four classes that built the Hall of Fame, in retrospect, both then and enduring. What’s to come nobody knows, but here’s where it all started.

1936—The First Class

Ty Cobb—Detroit Tigers: The greatest player of the dead-ball era, Cobb’s reputation as dubious asset to mankind did not damage the impact he had as a ballplayer. Because at the time of his induction to the Hall, he was the most accomplished athlete in professional sports history, and an owner of 90 varied records in the game.  Among these are a .366 career batting average, 4,191 hits, 12 batting titles and 54 steals of home plate. He received the highest vote total of any original inductee, with a 98.2% return.

Walter Johnson—Washington Senators: With 110 shutouts, 420 wins, eleven seasons of a sub-2.00 ERA and being the inaugural member of the 3,000 strikeout club, the Big Train was (and still is) the greatest pitcher of all-time. He was the best pitcher on losing teams in history as well, with the annually bad Washington club likely coming in his way of pushing for the all-time wins title as well. Johnson was elected in on 83% of the ballot.

Christy Mathewson—New York Giants: The first crossover superstar in baseball history, Matty was also one of the first control artists from the mound. Armed with his devastating screwball, he won 363 games, including four seasons of 30 wins or better. One of the most respected players of his time, whose reputation as a gentleman was directly contrasted by his fierce postseason presence on the mound. In the 1905 World Series he had potentially the greatest performance ever in the Fall Classic. He started three games and won all three—with a shutout in each appearance. He was voted in with 90.7% of the vote.

Babe Ruth—New York Yankees: At the time, the Babe was the most famous player alive, and still remains among the most revered figures in American history, with his name alone being used as a measuring stick for greatness in a field. This is due to the fact that he single-handedly transformed the way the game was played. He hit 714 career home runs, and his style of play has based every evolution that the game has taken over the past 90+ years. He led the American League in home runs 12 times,  and still carries the highest slugging percentage of all-time. He was voted in on 95.1% of the vote.

Honus Wagner—Pittsburgh Pirates: The first five-tool player, The Flying Dutchman is still the safe bet for greatest shortstop ever, as he has repeatedly been elected over the last century. Wagner topped 3,400 hits, 600 doubles, 200 triples and 100 home runs, then a remarkable slate of accomplishments. The complimented this with a powerful arm in the field. The eight-time batting champ was elected on 95.1% of the vote, the same number as Ruth and second highest total overall.

1937—The Second Class

Nap Lajoie—Cleveland Naps: Such a great player that they felt the now-Indians had to carry not only him at second base, but his name for the entire team. It is understandable, as the five-time batting champ and two-time RBI champion (a ridiculous notion for a second baseman of the times) was a transformative player. He hit over .350 ten separate times, with five batting titles, including a high of .426 in 1901. He was elected on 83.6% of the ballots.

Tris Speaker—Boston Red Sox: One of the great defensive outfielders ever, Speaker holds two prominent records to this day. At the plate, he hit 792 doubles, while in the field he has an outstanding 449 assists—from centerfield. His 3,514 hits remain the fifth highest total ever, and he was voted in on 82.1% of ballots.

Cy Young—Cleveland Spiders/Boston Red Sox: The greatest oversight from the first class was the then, now and forever all-time wins king. The game’s top pitching award was named for Young in honor of his 511 win career, which featured 15 years over 20 victories. To this day, he holds the high water mark in eight separate pitching categories, and was voted in on 76.1% of ballots.

1938—The Third Class

Grover Cleveland Alexander—Philadelphia A’s/Chicago Cubs: As the greats of the early years continued to be worked in, the fourth of the great turn of the century hurlers was called in. Old Pete was a warhorse on the mound, a winner of 373 games (third most ever) and an artist of the shutout. From 1915-1917, he won 30 games each season with an ERA below 2.00 and only once did not reach at least 10 shutouts. He was elected on 80.92% of the ballot.

1939—The Fourth Class/The Hall Opens

Lou Gehrig—New York Yankees: By the time that Gehrig was inducted, the disease which premature ended his career and life, and continues to carry his namesake, was close to claiming his life. However what it did not dim was the accomplishments of a man that is still considered to be the standard for all first basemen. The RBI machine drove in 1,995 runs (included seven seasons of 150 or better) and earned his Iron Horse moniker by playing in over 2,130 games. Gehrig was elected by acclamation and had the standard five year waiting period waved due to the severity of his illness, making him the youngest inductee to Cooperstown for decades.

George Sisler—St. Louis Browns: Before the Cardinals ruled the city, Sisler was the preeminent part of St. Louis baseball. The first baseman was hits machine set the all-time single season hits record with 257, which stood for over 80 years and hit .400 twice. He was elected on 85.8% of the ballot.

 

For more on today’s Hall of Fame news to come in real time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

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Next week, the Baseball Writers Association of America’s submission for the 2014 class of the Baseball Hall of Fame will be revealed, and while it is certain to not be a second consecutive shutout, what is still quite hazy is who how many supplicants will be allowed into the membership in Cooperstown.

While that picture is steadily building more and more momentum, as more and more ballots are beginning to be revealed, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has jumped out the gates and revealed whom they feel is worthy of the induction into baseball’s most exclusive (or perhaps more fittingly, elusive) club.

A group of 91 online writers assembled to follow the same requests that are made of the BWAA: a full ballot of all the eligible Hall of Fame candidates, with a maximum of 10 votes per ballot and a minimum of none. The results were revealed on Monday morning, and for the second consecutive year, the results were quite diverse, however at least showed one solid consensus.

What’s coming up is not my vote as a member of the Alliance; I will explain that in full next week. Rather, it is a summary of what this year’s BAA vote reflects, shows in comparison from last year and what, if any, forecasting it provides for what’s to come next week.

The Results

Here is what the final vote showed by the numbers of the full candidate listing:

Greg Maddux—94.51%

Frank Thomas—80.22%

Tom Glavine—75.82%

Mike Piazza—72.53%

Craig Biggio—70.33%

Jeff Bagwell—64.84%

Barry Bonds—60.44%

Roger Clemens—59.34%

Tim Raines—54.95%

Edgar Martinez—41.76%

Curt Schilling—39.56%

Mike Mussina—32.97%

Alan Trammell—30.77%

Jack Morris—25.27%

Mark McGwire—21.98%

Larry Walker—17.58%

Jeff Kent—15.38%

Lee Smith—14.29%

Don Mattingly—9.89%

Fred McGriff—8.79%

Rafael Palmeiro—7.69%

Sammy Sosa, Moises Alou, Eric Gagne, Luis Gonzalez, Sean Casey, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Armando Benitez, Ray Durham, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Hideo Nomo, Mike Timlin all received less than 5% of the vote and would be dropped from the actual ballot as a result.

The In-Crowd

The easy pick of the year ran away with it, and that was Greg Maddux. The 360 game, four-time Cy Young winner picked up 94.5% of the vote, which is about as strong of a showing as could be expected, yet still seems to be a low total in all reality. There is reasonable rumbling that Maddux could be the first unanimous selection in the history of the vote, and while that seems to be slightly far-fetched, the number that the BBA showed is surprising. There is no strike against Maddux’s career, nor any achievement that he did not conquer. And since he is without a doubt making a one-and-done appearance on the ballot, this is the only time to see how his impact will be felt in the forum.

After Maddux, Frank Thomas had the strongest showing, topping 80% of the vote in his first appearance. The two-time American League MVP, member of the 500 home run club and career .300 hitter should be expected to make such as strong showing. There have been some questions about whether he will make it in on the writer’s upcoming vote, with concerns levied against his status as mostly a designated hitter, the mid-career production/healthy swoon he dealt with, as well as the unavoidable suspicion of association as hitter who made his bones in the mid-90’s. But the showing for Thomas is one of a fair level in many regards, and could be the closest to the actual vote showing between the BWAA and BAA this year.

The third and final player that met the 75% required threshold was Glavine, who is perhaps the greatest #2 pitcher of all-time. Despite spending much of his prime as the second bullet out of the chamber for the loaded Braves rotation, Glavine twice won the Cy Young Award himself and was the World Series MVP in Atlanta’s sole victory during their run. Glavine barely slid over the line, and he is likely to be the most borderline candidate of the year next week as well. He hit the 300 win mark, which is virtually assures that he’ll reach the Hall much sooner than later, and it is tough to argue against him the first time around either. Perhaps the fact that he finished with a career ERA over 3.50 (high by most HOF standards) and carries the stigma of never having been “the man” for his team drops him down some. It will be an interesting showing for if Thomas or Glavine has the better showing among the premier first-timers this year.

Just A Bit Outside

Of the members that came up short, the continued divide among the opinion of performance enhancing drug users remains clear. Both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens kept similar representation on their second ballot as they did a year ago, however both are headed in different directions currently. Bonds dropped from 62% to 60.4% this year, while Clemens also saw a two percent gain up to 58%. Bonds finished fourth last year, but drops to seventh this season, while Clemens sees his place drop to eighth, despite the stronger showing.

A year ago, Jeff Bagwell was the only player that gained 75% vote required, but surprisingly drops down 12% this year and into the sixth place on the ballot. He is no doubt a victim of a much more impressive ballot, as well as a more spread about cast of veterans as well. Tim Raines also fell into this category, coming up 8% lower than he did a year ago and dropping out of the top 5 after an encouraging showing in 2012.

Otherwise, the top of the ballot has been a case of the tortoises instead of the hares. Mike Piazza had the steadiest carryover from 2012 to 2013, has he improved from 69% to 72% and remained within the top five overall. Craig Biggio, who had the best showing of any returning candidate from the BWAA ballot, where he appeared at 68.2%, came up short again on the blogger vote, but saw a 1% increase from a year ago.

Of other note is the extreme decline of Sammy Sosa’s sentiment (a 17% drop off), Edgar Martinez cornering his own market once again (a repeat at 41%) and a not-so surprising marginal face-off between Curt Schilling and Jack Morris once again.

Of the first timers that will remain represented, yet were not meet election criteria, Mike Mussina had the best showing, but was at only a paltry 32% vote.

What Does It All Mean?

In the end, there has not been a regular strong correlation between the BBA and BWAA vote. The BBA put in Jeff Bagwell last year, yet Andre Dawson did not meet the approval of the bloggers when he did so for the writers in 2010. Yet simulataneously, both entities agreed on the exclusion, then inclusion of Roberto Alomar in 2010 and 2011, respectively and the induction of Barry Larkin in 2012.

The writers have been much harder on the PED involved players all the way to a nearly 30% difference in opinion on Bonds and Clemens between the group. Mark McGwire hasn’t topped over 25% for either entity either.

The shared sentiment on marginal and guilt association has blurred the lines of achievement on both ballots, but one similarity that is likely to carry over with both this year is simple: the debates of years past will no doubt continue to carry into the years to come in regards to cautiously awarding final greatness in Cooperstown—whether virtual or reality.

For more on the Hall of Fame and baseball’s Decision Day in real time, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

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Yesterday, Major League Baseball officially released the group of former players that will comprise the 2014 Baseball of Fame ballot. The class will be announced on January 8th, and while unlike last year, there are sure to be a few players that are inducted in this season, the ongoing saga of who deserves the honor and who does not will continue on, for a variety of reasons.

Ten players can be selected on each ballot, and from the looks of the available talent, there could be a wide range of reactions to what is offered. There are what could be considered the no-doubters, mixed with a few “no doubt second ballot” guys, the vote that goes ignores the controversy, as well as a few with stronger showings than would be guessed. Add all of that in with both the Expansion Era Committee members (which features maybe the finest group of eligible managers available in history), and this could be a one of the most diverse classes ever inducted into the Hall.

But while the manager group could be the frosting, its the players that are cake of a class, and this year’s ballot alone has some of the most premient names in not only their era, but across the history of the game, from its start to finish. Will the controversy of last year be buried? Or will the line to the Hall continue to get longer and longer? With Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz scheduled to join the mix next season, this could be the greatest era of legends waiting for their immortality ever.

But for now, here’s what’s to pick from over the next month, as the wait for to see what course history takes starts moving yet again.

THE PLAYERS

Jeff Bagwell—First Baseman: Houston Astros (1991-2005), 4th ballot (59.6%)

1994 MVP, 4-time All-Star, 449 home runs, 1529 RBI, 488 doubles, 2314 hits

Craig Biggio—Second Baseman: Houston Astros (1988-2007), 2nd ballot (68.2%)

3,060 hits, .281 career average, 668 doubles, 414 stolen bases, 7-time All-Star, 4-Gold Glover

Barry Bonds—Left Fielder: Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants (1986-2007), 2nd ballot (36.2%)

7-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, 762 home runs, 2935 hits, 2227 runs, 2558 walks

Roger Clemens—Pitcher: Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Houston Astros (1984-2007), 2nd ballot (37.6%)

7-time Cy Young Winner, 1986 MVP, 354-184 record, 3.12 ERA, 4672 strikeouts

Tom Glavine—Pitcher: Atlanta Braves, New York Mets (1987-2008), 1st ballot

2-time Cy Young Winner, 305-203 record, 3.54 ERA, 10-time All-Star

Jeff Kent—Second Baseman: Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, LA Dodgers (1992-2008), 1st ballot

2000 MVP, 5-time All-Star, 377 home runs, .290 average, 1518 RBI

Greg Maddux—Pitcher: Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres (1986-2008), 1st ballot

4-time Cy Young Winner, 355-227 record, 3.16 ERA, 3,371 strikeouts, 18-time Gold Glove Winner

Edgar Martinez—Designated Hitter: Seattle Mariners (1987-2004), 5th ballot (35.9%)

7-time All-Star, .312 career average, 2,247 hits, 2-time Batting Champ

Don Mattingly—First Baseman: New York Yankees (1982-1995), 14th ballot (13.2%)

1984 MVP, .307 career average, 442 doubles, 2153 hits, 9-time Gold Glove winner

Fred McGriff—First Baseman: Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers (1986-2004), 5th ballot (20.7%)

493 home runs, 2490 hits, 5-time All-Star, 1550 RBI

Mark McGwire—First Baseman: Oakland Athletics, St. Louis Cardinals (1987-2001), 8th ballot (16.9%)

583 home runs, 12-time All-Star, four 50 home run seasons, 1987 Rookie of the Year

Jack Morris—Pitcher: Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians (1977-1994), 15th ballot (67.7%)

4-Time World Series Winner, 254-186 record, 2478 strikeouts, Most wins of 1980’s

Mike Mussina—Pitcher: Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees (1991-2008), 1st ballot

270-153 record, 3.68 ERA, 7-time Gold Glove winner, AL-record 17 straight double digit win years

Rafael Palmeiro—First Baseman: Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles (1986-2005), 4th ballot (8.8%)

569 home runs, 3020 hits, 1835 RBI, .288 career average, nine straight years of 38+ home runs

Mike Piazza—Catcher: Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Oakland Athletics (1992-2007), 2nd ballot (57.8%)

427 home runs, 2127 hits, .308 average, 1993 Rookie of the Year, 12-time All-Star

Tim Raines—Left Fielder: Montreal Expos, Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Florida Marlins (1978-2002), 7th ballot (52.2%)

808 stolen bases, 2605 hits, 1571 runs scored, 7-time All-Star, 1986 NL Batting Champ

Curt Schilling-Pitcher: Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox (1988-2007), 2nd ballot (38.8%)

216-146 record, 3.46 ERA, 3116 strikeouts, 6-time All-Star, 11-2 Postseason Record

Lee Smith-Pitcher: Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, California Angels, Cincinnati Reds, Montreal Expos (1980-1987), 12th ballot (47.8%)

478 saves, 802 games finished, 7-time All-Star, 3-time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year

Sammy Sosa—Right Fielder: Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers (1989-2005, 2007), 2nd ballot (12.5%)

1998 MVP, 609 home runs, 7-time All-Star, 1667 RBI, 2408 hits

Frank Thomas—First Baseman: Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays (1990-2008), 1st ballot

2-Time MVP, 521 home runs, 2468 hits, .301 career average, 1997 Batting Champion

Alan Trammell—Shortstop: Detroit Tigers (1977-1996), 13th ballot (33.6%)

2365 hits, .285 average, 6-time All-Star, 4-time Gold Glove winner, 1984 World Series MVP

Larry Walker—Right Fielder: Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals (1989-2005), 4th ballot (21.6%)

1997 MVP, 3-time Batting Champ, .313 career average, 383 home runs, 7-time Gold Glove Winner

Other First Time Candidates: Moises Alou, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Eric Gagne, Luis Gonzalez, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Paul Lo Duca, Hideo Nomo, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Mike Timlin

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For much of the decade of the 2000’s, the question about who was the best pitcher in baseball started at number two. Mostly because the dominance of Roy Halladay made it so simple to decide on who was at the top of the list. Whether it was during his run of triumph in-spite of some less than desirable clubs in Toronto, or his turn of fortune (and perfection) in Philadelphia, Doc Halladay has stood for the pinnacle of both competition and resilient results for his career.

Yet, as he has turned into his twilight of his career, where does this place him among the greats that have ever toed the mound? Pitching more so than any other position is guided by the standard set by magic numbers and an ever-changing chance to reach the position’s definitive quality marker: wins. Despite this, Halladay has dominated his era at a quality as good as any hurler has, but has it been great enough, for long enough, for him to sit among the immortals when his time is up? Let’s have a look.

The Numbers (through June 12)—Record: 201-104 (.659 win %), 3.37 ERA, 2101 strikeouts, 2721.2 innings pitched, 67 complete games, 20 shutouts

1. The Case For: At his peak, he was the perfect example of the exception rule. He excelled regardless of surroundings as well as any pitcher in baseball for the bulk of his career. From 2002 to 2009, he pitched for only one team that finished any better than third place in the American League East. However, during this time, he won at least 16 games in six seasons, including 19 in ’02, 22 in ’03 and 20 again in ’08. In those respective seasons, he won 24, 25 and 23 percent of all Blue Jay games. He posted a winning percentage of at least 75% in four seasons, and after turning 25 in ’02, he posted only one season with a winning percentage under 63% for the next ten years. That goes beyond efficiency; that crosses into dominance.

And working in bulk is another of Halladay’s great assets. He’s almost a man out of time in that regard, as in a time where less innings are being pitched by starters and instead being shared by increasingly specialized staffs; Halladay is pitching like it’s the 1960’s still. From 2007-2011, he led the American and National Leagues (respectively) in complete games, totaling 42 across that span. He also led the AL in shutouts from 2008-10, totaling 10. For his career, he has led a league in complete games seven times, shutouts four times, and innings pitched four times as well. He’s a warhorse.

He’s perhaps the perfect blend of strikeout and control pitcher. He throws hard, yet with consistent control, which allows him to work quickly and control the pace of games, thus his ability to work high innings totals. In 2010 with the Phillies, he became the first pitcher since 1923 to top 250 innings, but walk 30 or less batters. From 2006 to 2011, he only walked more than 40 batters once, while pitching at least 220 innings in each season.

2. The Case Against: The case against Halladay could be that he’s far away from being a member of the 300 win club, or even the 250 win club. While his 201 wins are the second most actively of any pitcher all-time, it ranks him only 107th all-time. While there have been Hall of Famers that have won less, namely Dizzy Dean and Dazzy Vance, of those inducted in the last 30 years, only Don Drysdale’s 209 have been within the same range as Halladay’s total.

Part of this is due to the poor performing Blue Jay clubs he played for, but also due in part to the bookends of his career. Over his first three full seasons, his record was 17-17 and his ERA 5.08. Within the past two seasons, injuries have sidelined him twice and greatly curbed his impact as well. Since the beginning of 2012, he has a 13-12 record and 5.24 ERA. The wins standard is important, and he’s short there, as well as he has only pitched in two playoff series in his career, with his first coming at age 34.

Halladay has the highest career winning percentage of any active pitcher and is in the Top 20 all-time.

Halladay has the highest active career winning percentage and is Top 20 all-time. His percentage is fifth best ever of any pitcher to throw at least 15 seasons.

3. Similar Players (thru age 35):

– Mike Mussina: 270-153 record, 3.68 ERA, .638 win%, 2813 strikeouts, 3562.2 innings pitched

– Tim Hudson: 201-110 record, 3.45 ERA, .646 win%, 1862 strikeouts, 2766 innings pitched

– Dwight Gooden: 194-112 record, 3.51 ERA, .634 win%, 2293 strikeouts, 2800.2 innings pitched

4. Cooperstown Likelihood (thru age 36): Halladay is an interesting case when it comes to Cooperstown profile. Is he one of the greatest of his era? Unquestionably. Yet, has he had the sustained dominance of a no-doubt Hall of Famer? The answer is both yes and no. Nothing tells the story of this better than three players that compare most favorably to him. Each have had three very different careers, and would make no sense in being tied to each other without Halladay being the common denominator. He was regularly above average to excellent in the same style as Mussina, although for not as consecutively long as Moose was. He had an undeniably dominant era in the late 2000’s in a similar fashion to what Gooden did in the mid-80’s. And finally, he had two peaks to his career, but not a long consecutive run, in the same fashion that Hudson did.

In the end, what puts Halladay over is just how great his peak was. He was a Cy Young winner in both leagues, eight seasons apart. At his most transcendent, he threw both a Perfect Game and a No-Hitter in the same season, his first in the National League. And although the opportunities were delayed, two of his five October games were classic efforts, including the no-hitter coming in his first postseason appearance, and his 1-0 battle with best friend and postseason great Chris Carpenter in Game 5 of the NLDS in 2011.

Something can also be said for excellence in the face of adversity. He took the ball and made the Blue Jays favorites at least once every fifth day for 12 years. He is one of the great competitors of all-time, and raised the levels of the players around him as well in a way that even few great players have. He has been responsible for 65.5 Wins Above Replacement level in his career, including six seasons of better than 5 in Toronto, and an astonishing 16.2 in his two Philly seasons combined. And while he’ll probably never return to the full health that enabled him accomplish these feats again, what he’s accomplished thus far has been exceptional to a level that may not be clear when looking at paper years from now, but when viewed in time, was quite often unmatchable.

So to that extent, while the deed may be nearly done for the 36-year-old righty, if the question is asked today if Roy Halladay is in, out or in-between being a Hall of Famer, the answer has to be he is IN. With as strong of a quality over quantity pull as there can be.

For more on the push to the Hall in the day-to-day world of baseball, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan

Jack Buck’s Personal Legacy With Me

Posted: June 19, 2012 by The Cheap Seat Fan in MLB
Tags: , ,

One of the most resounding memories of both my childhood, and now my life, is hearing  elegantly call a  game.

Now, on the sad occasion of the tenth year coming to pass without Jack anymore, it occurs to me that he is a rarity of the most uncommon type. In many cases when people pass, their voice tends to fade over time with them. With public figures of his caliber, their name and feats live on long after they do. In the case of Mr. Buck, it’s his voice that made his resounding presence, so it is still very common to hear a call or a speech that he made, so it stays fresh in your ear.

However, for me what I hear when I remember him is much different. While he was responsible for my favorite call in sports history (“Smith corks one down the line, it may go….Go Crazy Folks, Go Crazy!!”), as well as characterizing the exploits that took Joe Montana, Lou Brock, Kirk Gibson and Kirby Puckett, among many others to legend, it’s something far more personal for me that I’ll remember him for.

It was about 1994 or so, at the very latest, and my Father took me out for dinner. The restaurant we went to was J. Bucks in Clayton, an establishment of obvious association. We ate and I looked around at all of the assorted memorabilia and pictures around the place while we waited on our food. I didn’t know a lot of them, but my old man filled in the blanks. I learned a lot about the World Championship teams of the 60’s that night, as well as the fact that there were a lot more great  that played in “black and white” than .

The night went on, and eventually we got up to leave. On the way out, we stopped by a picture of Jack, and my Dad told me, without hesitation, that “This is his place, and he’s the best to ever do it. All of those moments we were talking about, he was the one that brought them to life.” That in itself was cool enough for me, as I only really watched on TV, and never had the patience for radio when I was that young. But still, you can’t live in St. Louis and not know “the voice”. And I remembered the Ozzie home run call which happened when I was two, so it’d been the soundtrack to my young baseball life thus far. So I was aware of Mr. Buck, just not quite who he really, really was in the big picture, yet.

For as much as he deserved a statue dedicated to him as a broadcaster, Jack Buck deserved one as a man as well.

We took the elevator down to the parking garage underneath the restaurant. We came through to the door into the parking lot and a thin older guy was coming up. He stops to open the door for us to go through, and my Dad stops and says, “Oh no, Mr. Buck, after you.” Then he says to us, in that distinct, yet golden voice, “Well I hope that you all enjoyed your stop by, thanks for coming”. That in itself was pretty amazing, that a Hall of Fame, living legend would not only stop to hold the door for a regular guy and his kid but would stop and have even passing words. If you’ve met some of the greats of any game or arena, you understand how rare this can truly be. Heroes don’t always take their capes off the field with them too.

But he was a most gracious guy. My Father then said to him “Mr. Buck, I’d like to introduce you to my son Matt”, to which he replied “Well it’s nice to meet you Matt, I hoped you liked the food and some of the stuff on the walls tonight too. You’re a Cardinal fan, right?” By this time I was amazed by the fact that “The Voice” I’d always heard, but had just learned about that night, was talking to me by name. He went on to stand there and talk to us for another 5 minutes about the restaurant and St. Louis before he headed upstairs himself. It was surprising at that time to me that he’d be gracious enough to do that with two strangers, but as I’ve grown and heard many times since, that’s just the type of guy that he was.

Around that same time my Dad worked the second shift doing maintenance work at the Marriott across the street from Busch Stadium. He would be getting off work early in the morning and walk past the stadium. He told me much later when I was older that plenty of mornings he’d come across Mr. Buck going into the Stadium to start his day, and they’d always exchange the same convo in passing:

Jack: “Good morning there.”

Dad: “Good morning Mr. Buck, have a good day at work.”

Jack: “Hope the same for you, gotta get up and do it right?”

 

They say that life breaks down in the end to a lot of moments, some you remember and some that pass right by you. Well nearly 20 years after that moment, it still rings as clear as it did when it happened. It is still as clear as the forever true voice of the Cardinals did when it just focused on me and my young developing love for baseball, for just a few moments.

The night, a few moments made for a lifetime, and also made a direct bond with many eras of the Cardinals forever. And you’ll always be missed, Mr. Buck.

 

Sincerely,

Matt

 

For more on my Buck inspired take on the game, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

The New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter is coming back from an injured calf that saw him miss a better part of June. He’ll come back to his club in a familiar spot, first place and also to another familiar place for himself as well, the All-Star game. However, he is returning to finish his chase of joining a quite uncommon club not just now, but in the history of baseball: the 3,000 hit club.

When the Yankee Captain headed to the disabled list back on June 14th, he was just a few days away from bettering 3,000 hits and becoming the 28th player in the 100 plus year history of Major League Baseball to accumulate that total.

Exclusivity: Jeter is on the verge of becoming the first Yankee to ever surpass 3,000 hits.

However, what marks are the measures of immortality? The numbers that are so great that there is no club to join them; rather it’s a one man group that is barely seen by any others, and in all likelihood will never be surpassed unless a true freak of a player comes along? These numbers will take more than a shot to reach; they’ll take a whole arsenal. So in honor of one of sport’s greatest marks being reached, here are Major League Baseball’s 10 greatest records of all-time.

10. 309 Triples –Sam Crawford

The triple is the hardest hit to get in all of baseball, and from 1899 to 1917, the Detroit Tigers’ Crawford got it on the regular. He had five seasons of better than 20 and another 16 of at least ten. Only three players in the last 30 years have managed one season of totaling at 20. Take into account how rare this is: the only player to begin his career after 1940 to approach this mark is Stan Musial, and his 177 is just over half of what Crawford did.

9. 4,256 Hits – Pete Rose

Pete Rose was not the best pure hitter ever; however there’s never been a more consistent one. In order to reach this record, that’s what a hitter must have. Rose played more games than any player ever, but was productive throughout. He had 3,215 singles, which are more hits than all but 12 other players had total. He added in 746 doubles, 135 triples and 160 homers for good measure as well.

To take this into perspective, Ichiro has surpassed 200 hits a season for the last ten years running, and is just under 2000 hits away from tying Rose.

8. .482 On-Base Percentage – Ted Williams

Williams is the toughest out of all-time. And with batters facing fresher pitchers than ever now, he will stay that way.

When Barry Bonds was tearing through baseball and living on (or around) the bases, it seemed like an unbelievable run of dominance at. Well that was about four years…Ted Williams almost got on base half the time for his entire career. He lead the American League in OBP 12 times, reaching base at least 49% of the time for eight seasons and he only had two seasons under 45% for his 19 year career.

7. 5,714 Strikeouts – Nolan Ryan

The Ryan Express was overwhelming, and this is (nearly) best shown in his overwhelming number of strikeouts, and the sheer volume of them is staggering. Ryan had six seasons of 300 strikeouts, 15 seasons of 200. He has 839 more K’s than any other pitcher, and in order to catch him a player would have to pitch for nearly 30 years (Ryan did) while still averaging 211 strikeouts a year. The average league leader now chalks up 287 a season now; Nolan averaged 296 a year in 11 seasons he lead the league. For as great as this, Nolan’s most impressive mark is coming up a little later.

6. 2,632 Consecutive Games Played – Cal Ripken

From May 1982 to September 1998, Cal Ripken didn’t miss a single ballgame. He broke Lou Gehrig’s mark that had stood for 56 years and then bettered it by 500 games, all while playing one of the game’s most demanding positions, shortstop, for the majority of it. Only six players besides Ripken have played in more than 1,000 straight games. To best Ripken’s mark, a player would have to have perfect attendance for 16 years and then play a part of a 17th.No active player has more than even 300 games played.

5. 1,406 Stolen Bases – Rickey Henderson

Talk about separating yourself from the pack? Rickey’s total steals is 50% better than the second best total all time. He stole 100 bases three times and 50 another 13 times (no player has even stolen 80 since 1987). To even approach this record, a player would have to swipe at least 70 bases a season for 20 years just need seven more to pass Henderson. With steals way down and underemphasized in today’s game (the Major League leader over the past 10 years has averaged 64 a season), this one could be etched in stone. Juan Pierre is the active career leader…and he has played for 12 years and is still 868 short of tying Henderson.

4. .366 Batting Average – Ty Cobb

Cobb has been retired for 83 years…dead for 50. Yet his career batting average still stands head and shoulders above the best effort any other hitter has been able to sustain. Its eight points higher than another unbreakable mark, Rogers Hornsby’s .358 mark, yet Cobb made his number in over 3,256 more at-bats. He only hit under .320 once in 24 seasons and over .350 14 times. Only only two batting champs in the last 10 years have had their league leading mark be better than Cobb’s .366. The current career batting average leader, Albert Pujols, is one of the great hitters ever, yet his .331 career average is a far cry from what Cobb did on an average year.

3. 7 No-Hitters – Nolan Ryan

Of Ryan's two extraordinary records, the seven no-hit games is the most beyond comprehension.

Throwing  a no-hitter is the most difficult single game task in all of baseball…and Ryan has done it three more times than any other pitcher in history. Ryan achieved his in 1973 (getting two in two months), 1974 and 1975. By this time he had already tied the career leading mark of Sandy Koufax in three years, but he was just getting started. Ryan then threw four more no-no’s, in 1981, 1990 and finally in 1991, 18 years after his first two and at the age of 44. Currently only 3 pitchers have two no-hitters and even that is a remarkable feat. So if any of them throw 45 more innings of no-hit baseball they will at least tie Ryan then.

2. 110 Shutouts – Walter Johnson

He is 20 better in this category than any other pitcher, and had 11 seasons of at least six shutouts. To measure how strong of a showing this is over an extended period of time, it would take 25 years of averaging 4 shutouts a season to only reach within ten of the Big Train’s mark. The only two players to start their career within the last 50 years to come within 50 shutouts of Johnson are Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan, who totaled 61 in their careers. Among active players, Roy Halladay is the leader with 19. At the current rate of averaging 1.3 per season and his high mark being 4 in both 2009 and 2010. Johnson bettered that mark in all but four of his 21 seasons. When he threw his career high of 11 in 1913, it is two short of Chris Carpenter’s career 13 shutouts, which is second best among active pitchers.

1. 511 Wins – Cy Young

This is the most unapproachable record in the history of sports. A stunning number for any era of baseball and many of the most successful pitchers in the history of the game have half as many wins of Denton True Young finished with, and have still joined him in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He won 30 games five times and 20 another 15 times. Walter Johnson’s 417 wins are the second most ever, and is also an unreachable total, yet still are 96 fewer than Young’s total. If a pitcher won 20 games from his rookie season and continued to do so for another 24 years, he would still be 11 wins short.

Bob Gibson & Pedro Martinez's COMBINED career wins are still 40 short of Young.

Pitchers do not and cannot pitch for as long into games or as often as Cy Young did. He also holds the record for most complete games (749, which is arguably just as astonishing) and most innings pitched (7,355). With the innovation of relief pitchers and less decision being available, even the absolute most dominant pitchers in today’s game is luck to finish with 60% of Young’s total. The award for the best pitcher in both leagues is named correctly, and pays proper homage to his staggering success.

Follow me on Twitter for more on Baseball, Life and how they are one in the same for me at @CheapSeatFan and @STLSport360