Monthly archives: August 2007
The Phils are about to sweep the Mets in a four-game series for the just the sixth time in history, and I am left like Randy Quaid at the end of "Major League" (or was it "Major League II"?), reluctantly starting to embrace this team that I knew (or at least thought) would disappoint me again.
I didn't go so far as to turn my team's hat inside out in derision like said Mr. Quaid, but I was convinced that they would leave the fans again at the altar, this time losing the wild card in the final weekend to the Padres. I never imagined that they would get back into the hunt for the NL East crown nor did I imagine that they could do it so dramatically. You'll remember that the Phils narrowly avoided a sweep the last time the teams met in a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park at the end of July, this after sweeping the Mets at Shea in a three-game series to open July.
I can't make sense of this season, but I guess I will reluctantly go with the flow and take it as it comes. Isn't that one's fate as a Phils fan anyway?
About the game-ending interference/double play call, I think CB Buckner has to make that call. I know the umpire study I did at Baseball Prospectus that Buckner is more apt to make those picayune calls than the average ump, but when a runner blatantly uses his upper body to break up the play, the ump has to make that call. I have seen runners go farther out of the basepaths to break up a double play but they very often get away with it since they use just their legs in the attempt.
As the rule states, it all comes down to the umpire's opinion. I think it was the right one in this case:
Should the Phils sweep the Mets this afternoon, it'll be their first four-game sweep of their NL East rival since 2003. The Phils completed a sweep of New York on September 7, 2003 on a Marlon Byrd bloop single over a drawn-in infield in the eleventh inning. It was their sixth straight win and their eighth in ten games to put the Phils one game up of the Marlins in the Wild Card race, which the Marlins eventually won en route to a World Series title. Oh well.
Here are all the Phils four-game sweeps of the Mets:
The Mets have swept the Phils in a four-game series just twice, in 1972 and 2002. The Phils also have two five-game sweeps of New York, at Shea in August of 1980 and at the Vet in June of 1982. The Mets have never swept a five-game series from the Phils. Overall, the Phils have swept the Mets in series of varying lengths 48 times while the Mets have swept the Phils just 35 times (including a one-game "series" April 17 of this year.
If you told me that the Phils would take the first three games of this series with Cole Hamels out, Adam Eaton facing Tom Glavine, and Glavine pitching seven shutout innings, I would have said you were nuts. That the Phils could complete a sweep of any team with J.D. Durbin, Adam Eaton, a faltering Jamie Moyer, and Kyle Lohse as starters is a feat in and of itself, but that they could do it against the team with the best record in the league, at least at the start of the series, is amazing.
A Bang and a Whimper
The Phils won big tonight, 4-2 in ten innings over the Mets, their second straight in the series. They pulled back to within four games of the NL East lead after a 2-7 stretch last week helped drop them to seven games back on Saturday.
The big hit was a crushed two-run, opposite-field homer on a mid-plate hanger by Ryan Howard in the bottom of the tenth. The game would never have gotten to that point without a series of small and rather odd plays in the eighth. After a Jimmy Rollins homer to lead off the inning, with two out pinch-runner Shane Victorino stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error on Paul Lo Duca. Aaron Rowand then hit a wince-inducing dribbler down the third base line. As Victorino passed the ball it appeared to be headed into foul territory, but like a gust from a disembodied Lenny Randle (or maybe an Angel in the Infield) the ball stayed fair, Victorino's run was official, and the game was tied. (By the way, I know Randle was blowing the ball the other direction, but you get the point.)
There had to be some sort of divine intervention given that the Phils got five and two-thirds innings with just two runs allowed from starter Adam Eaton AND four and one-third innings of one-hit ball from the bullpen. Will miracles never cease?
Speaking of miracles, there are ten NL teams in contention, and it looked like the Reds were preparing to join their ranks prior to being swept by the Pirates in a double header today. The only other times ten teams in one league were in contention on September 1 were both in the National League, in 1995 and 2003 (i.e., within five games of first place or the wild card lead).
Meanwhile, the Phils brass has yet to reward Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel with a new contract. But don't let that fool you into thinking they know what they are doing. They are just leaving themselves an out should the Phils again miss the playoffs and a scapegoat is needed. He's far from my favorite manager, and yet I have to admit that he is doing a decent job this season. His rah-rah player's manager approach has appeared to help keep the players loose in this highly improbable season.
That the Phils could be within two games of first at the end of this series is as improbable as them beating the Mets after being shut out by Tom Glavine through seven and having to go to their bullpen early, at least early for a normal starter if not Adam Eaton.
By the way, where did all the Prince Fielder for MVP supporters go? The disappeared with all the Journey fans apparently. That Ryan Howard is now a string candidate for the award after his abysmal start followed by a stint on the DL is quite miraculous in and of itself.
The Rangers scored by a ginourmoushey, Webster's says it's a word nowamount of runs tonight, 30-3 over the Orioles. They then won the nightcap, 9-3.
39 runs in one day. Earl Weaver would be rolling over in his grave if he were dead.
The Rangers became the first American League club to score 30 in a game and the first major-league club to do so since Chicago Colts (now Cubs) did it on June 29, 1897. It has only been done 24 times in major-league history, and here they are:
You may also notice that the Rangers are the first road team to score thirty in a game since the old Philly A's did it on June 28, 1890.
With 39 runs, the Rangers become just the fourth team to score that many in a day and the first since 1894. Only one team has done it since the founding of the National League. Here are three previous (Note: the two 1870s teams did it in one game, the two since, in a double header):
Jeff Cirillo, a veteran of fourteen major-league seasons with six different teams and a third baseman in 1394 games, made his major-league pitching debut the other day in the 9-0 drubbing of the D-Backs at the hands of Cirillo's former team of many years, the Brewers. Jeff came in to finish off the game pitching one no-hit inning with a strikeout and two walksalas, he was not perfect.
He became the 966th player to record a 0.00 ERA in a season. That is, if he and the other twenty "pitchers" who have yet to allow a run in 2007 can keep it up for the rest of the year. It should not be so difficult for Cirillo since he isn't for his next appearance until 2021.
Cirillo is one of six position players who have a 0.00 ERA as a pitcher this year:
Just Ojeda, Wood, and Miles have been perfect in their one-inning as a pitcher. Actual pitchers Jon Adkins and Clay Rapada are perfect in the one inning each that they have pitched this year as well.
There have been 49 perfect seasons by a position player masquerading as a pitcher. The last came when Trent Durrington and Abraham Nunez both pitched a perfect third of an inning in 2004. Outfielder Bloody Jake Evans pitched the most perfect innings in a season by a position player when he threw three innings of mop-up duty for the Cleveland Blues in 1883. It was his third and final appearance as a pitcher.
Here are the position players who threw the most innings while remaining perfect in a season:
As for the most innings pitched in a no-hit season for a major-league pitcher, look no further than Bumpus Jones. He threw a no-hitter on the final day of the season for the 1892 Reds, and then registered two straight seasons with over 10.00 ERAs before disappearing into obscurity.
But before you say, "I didn't know Buddy Ebsen was a pitcher," consider that his four walks eliminate him from the list of 76 pitchers who threw perfect seasons. Here are the most innings pitched in a perfect season:
Finally, as for perfect pitching careers, there have been 49 but just nine that consisted of over one inning of work, and here they are:
Torn Between Two Burrells
Pat Burrell is quietly becoming the savior of the Phillies second half, but don't look for the fans to give him much credit in the near future. Burrell is the most universally loathed outfielder this side of J.D. Boo to Phils fandom. It's due to his accepting a gargantuan long-term contract that the Phils dangled before him as a youngster. He's Philly's version of A-Rod.
And yet Burrell, aside from an abysmal 2003 season, has been a consistently above average left fielder. He has a career OPS that is 18% better than the park-adjusted league average. He's no Hall of Famer, but he is a valuable player. Look at his most similar batters and you get a picture of what type of player he is: Glenn Davis, Cliff Johnson, Glenallen Hill. Those guys may not have been superstars but they had long productive careers (well, Davis's career fell apart pretty fast).
This season he started off as one of the worst regulars in baseball and for a time lost his starting left field job. His first half ratios are almost as bad as 2003: .215 BA/.378 OBP/.408 SLUG/.786 OPS.
I would never have expected this team with its dysfunctional staff to be able to stay in the playoff hunt after losing the best second baseman in the game (Chase Utley) for a good portion of the second half. But Burrell took over where Utley left off. His home runs went from .048 per at-bat in the first half to .070 per at-bat in the second, which would rank behind just behind Barry Bonds (.094) and Adam Dunn (.082) among starting left fielders. His second half ratios are just about the best among starting left fielders: .368/.483/.658/1.141.
Here is a comparison based on OPS between the best starting left fielders (min. 300 plate appearances) and Burrell's second half projected to match his 2007 at-bats total:
Burrell's projected second half would rank number among starting left fielders for batting average, slugging, and OPS; second in on-base and walks; third in home runs per at-bats; and fourth in home runs and RBI. His second half has been so good, his overall stats even with the horrible first half Are among the best at his position (third in OPS).
To get an idea of how bad his first half was, if we project it out to his entire season, he would rank seventh worst in OPS (.786), fourth worst in slugging (.408), dead last in batting average (.215), ninth worst in home runs (15), and seventh worst in RBI (51) among starting outfielders (though his OBP, .378, would be fourth best). Here is his projected first half compared to the worst left field OPS's:
The oddest thing is that Burrell has never been a second half player. His career OPS in the second half is slightly better than in the first but not by that much (.867 to .832), but his best month based on career OPS is May (.941).
Keep in mind also that September is his second worst month by career OPS (.827). So expect Burrell to start staring at those called third strikes right around the time that Utley returns to the lineup, which will go a long towards keeping the Phils from making the postseason in typical Phils fashion again this year.
Conine-ical Midseason Replacement
Jeff Conine again switches teams at midseason. This time he is headed for the first-place Mets from the playoff challenged Reds. Last year he went from the rebuilding O's to the playoff hungry Phils (and they are still hungry). An original Marlin in 1993, Conine was reaquired in 2003 by the Marlins from the O's and they went on to win the Series.
He's the ultimate rent-a-bat.
It made me wonder who was the player who switched teams midseason more than anyone else. Is it Conine?
The short answer is no. Bobo Newsom leads the pack switching teams midyear a hefty eight times:
Of course, his new teams made the playoffs just once. I was envisioning more of a Conine/Rickey Henderson type, a guy who is rented for the last couple of months of a season to help a team get to the postseason.
The players who switched teams midseason and then subsequently made it to the postseason the most times are as follows:
Conine won't even make this list when the Mets inevitably win the division. Baines did it four times: 1990 A's, '97 O's, '99 Indians, and 2000 White Sox (his second postseason with them, but the first in 17 years).
He hath eaten me out of house and home, he hath put all my substance into that fat belly of his.
Curious. Just when the debate over the fifth starter, Adam Eaton or J.D. Durbin, was heating up, Surprise!Eaton ends up on the DL with inflammation in his right shoulder. Durbin gets his spot in the rotation with his next start Friday, and Mike "Engelberg" Zagursky returns to the majors.
It was such a surprising move, the Phils' apparently semi-retired GM Pat "Who Me?" Gillick, didn't seem to see it coming, "I was surprised he got an injection. When you get an injection, it means there's some inflammation going on in there. It's not normal maintenance. We want to be cautious at this point." Somebody call this guy in Toronto or is it Seattle now?
Pitching coachat least that's what his resume saysRich Dubee used his power of deduction and some fancy ciphering to figure out that Eaton, owner of a 1-3 record and 8.79 ERA since the All-Star break, was injured: "It depends on what his last three performances were like. If he was getting his arm slot up and getting a good angle on everything and commanding everything and pitching effectively and he could tolerate the pain, yeah, maybe [he could continue]. . . . Generally, when guys don't command well, there's an issue. Hell, if he had a 1.00 ERA over the last three games, he'd obviously be commanding the ball pretty good and throwing with a good angle."
Even Eaton himself seemed surprised and acknowledged his landing on the DL had more to do with performance than pain: "It's the beauty of the game, isn't it? If I was 3-0 in my last three starts with a sore shoulder, would it have happened? Probably not. Obviously, to be competitive at the highest level is the goal. Everybody knows right now I'm not at that level where I should be."
For the record, Eaton is 9-9 overall with a 6.36 ERA. I do not know why anybody, especially these people, are surprised. Eaton posted a 5.12 ERA along with a 7-4 record last year in Texas. That was prior to his signing the ludicrously generous three-year, $24 M contract with the Phils. He ahs never posted an ERA under 4.08 even though the bulk of his career was spent in a pitcher friendly ballpark in San Diego. He has not posted an ERA better than the park-adjusted league average since his rookie year, 2000. Overall, he is 12% worse than the league average for his career.
Eaton has always been a poor excuse for a pitcher and the three people who should now that better than anyone else are Gillick, Dubee, and Eaton himselfwell, I'm crediting the Phils personnel with actually investigating his career before signing him. But c'mon, did they expect this guy to be the second coming of Steve Carlton? Might be closer to the second coming of Carlton Loewer.
Should Eaton remain on the DL for the rest of the year or at least keep up his current pace once he returns, he will have the fifth highest ERA for a pitcher with a winning record and at least nine wins. Here are all such pitchers with ERAs over 6.00:
If you throw out the winning record requirement, Eaton drops to tenth:
Eaton has the highest ERA in the majors for all pitchers who currently qualify for the ERA title:
Eaton's ERA would be the 39th worst all time for pitchers qualifying for the ERA title (using today's rules universally). Here are the worst:
Of course, given the highly uneven scheduling employing in the nineteenth century leagues, qualifying for the ERA title is somewhat meaningless for a good part of the 1800s. Since 1900, just 18 pitchers qualified for the ERA title with a worse ERA than Eaton's (and four came in the strike-shortened 1994 season):
Eaton, at least to me, is the leader of the many Hydes on the Phils' staff that have complemented the very few Dr. Jekylls (Hamels, Madson, and Kendrick) that have worn Phillies unis while on the mound this year. The Phils have four pitchers so far this year with ERAs over 10.00 (Anderson Garcia, Fabio Castro, J.A. Happ, and Matt Smith) and 13 over 5.00 (Hernandez, Myers, Geary, Condrey, Garcia, Eaton, Sanches, Rosario, Segovia, and the other four). That's half of their 26 pitchers. Only Tampa Bay has more (16). The teams with the most pitchers with 10.00+ ERAs are:
Only ten teams have ever made the postseason with at least four 10+ ERA'ed pitchers:
As for playoff teams with the most pitchers with ERAs over 5.00 the Phils have a shot at the "record" of 17 by the division-winning 2005 Yankees:
Even the D-Rays will have a hard time reaching the all-time "record" for 5.00+ ERA pitchers, 23, set last season by the execrable Royal staff:
So somehow this dysfunctional team remains in the playoff hunt even with arguably its best player (Chase Utley) on the DL and without a starting major-league right fielder and third baseman. Half the team is highly talented and the other half is barely at replacement level. Whatever happens this year, this team has Eaton's contract as a decent sized albatross around their necks for two more years.
Their offseason signings are reason enough to fire superannuated Gillick. Rod Barrajas has been a ham-handed defensive signing behind the plate. Wes Helms has been execrable both defensively at third base and offensively. At least they are gone at the end of the season having been signed to one-year deals. Meanwhile, his latest pickup is Russell Branyan who became superfluous to the Padres after they picked up Morgan Ensberg, who the Astros made available for a song (or a low-level prospect and some cash). Ensberg could have solved their third base problem. Couple that with the Phils' discarding Justin Germano, a possible number five starter, earlier this year, and you have two mid-level players on the Padres, and who's leading the Phils in the wild card hunt again?
Eaton is a veteran in the first year of a three-year deal who has lost his starting spot to career minor-leaguer who is on his fourth organization this year and was an emergency replacement from Double-A. Where will Eaton be in year three of his contract? Double-A? Don't be surprised if you see Eaton punching your ticket at Citizens Bank Park sometime in 2009.
Bleeding Dodger Blue
On July 27, the Dodgers were idle but were enjoying their second straight week in first place. They held a slim one-game lead over the surprising Diamondbacks, were one and a half ahead of the Padres, and 5.5 ahead of the Rockies. After two straight losses to the Rockies, on July 30 they still were tied for first with Arizona.
A little over two weeks later, Los Angeles is now in fourth place, six and a half games behind the D-Backs. They are 3-10 since July 30. Starting with the July 17 15-3 blowout against the Phils at home, they are 7-19.
I had to wonder how unique was the Dodgers fall, from first to fourth in less then two weeks. After the first-place tie on July 30 they first landed in fourth, six games back on August 12. They celebrated the descent with a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the offensively poor Cards.
I ran the numbers and it's not as rare as your would think. Besides the Dodgers there have been 1058 teams that went from first to fourth within two weeks from July until the end of the season.
The most recent were the 2000 Rockies who went from first on July 3 with a 45- 33 (.577) record to fourth place with a 46-44 record on July 17, 14 days later. The last team to do it in under 14 days were the '93 Yankees who went from first (60-45, .571) on July 31 to fourth (62-50, .554) just seven days later. Earlier that year, the Orioles went from first to fourth in two games (52-42 on July 20 to 52-44 on July 22).
But when you factor in the six games back, the Dodgers' "feat" gets a bit rarer. There are just 98 instances of a team falling from first to at least fourth, at least 6 games behind the division/league leader from July through the end of the season. There are just 24 since 1900, and none since 1963. The Cards were the last going from 45-32 (.616), a half game ahead of the Dodgers on July 1, 1963 to 48-40, 6.5 behind the Dodgers and percentage points behind the third-place Cubs on July 13. The Cards ended up in second place, six games behind LA.
Here are the others since 1900:
As for as going from fourth to first within two weeks, the 2004 Braves were the last to do it. On July 6, Atlanta was in fourth place with a 42-41 record 2.5 games behind, of course, the Phils. After a 4-1 run, they found themselves tied for first nine days later, on July 15. That day was the first after the All-Star game and the Braves shut out the Expos, 8-0, behind Jaret Wright. Before that the ever yo-yoing 1993 Yankees were the last to do it.
When Good Phils Go Bad
Retirement is usually an idyllic time of life. For most the golden years are a time to reflect upon one's accomplishments and enjoy the time one has left. Not for ex-Phils, however.
Dutch Daulton became a space cadet, literally at least in his mind, claiming that his reality was not unlike Billy Pilgrim's in "Slaughterhouse Five""I am the bombardier!".
Steve Carlton showed why he never spoke with reporters after retirement. He spoke with Philadelphia Magazine reporter Pat Jordan upon being elected to the Hall of Fame. He came off as either a wild eccentric or a flaming anti-Semite depending on your point of view. Carlton immediately retreated back into seclusion, but his reputation appears to be permanently sullied.
Ugueth Urbina topped them all. After pitching for the Phils in 2005 and becoming a free agent, Urbina was arrested for attacking workers on his ranch with machetes attempting to immolate them. He is currently serving a fourteen-year sentence. I wonder if he regrets bestowing a kiss on catcher Pudge Rodriguez's cheek after each save during their 2003 World Series-winning season with the Marlins.
Somewhere between the nuttiness of Dutch Daulton (allegedly) time traveling and Steve Carlton's (allegedly) anti-Semitic comments and Ugueth Urbina's murder attempts, falls Jose Offerman, Urbina's Phillie teammate in 2005. Then again, the organization currently has two pitchers that were accused of beating their wives in the past year (Brett Myers and recently acquired Julio Mateo).
Offerman attempting to make his wayHa!back to the majors was playing for the Long Island Ducks, whose previous claim to fame was being John Rocker's last team and his only one in the New York metro area. In a game last night, Offerman attacked Bridgeport pitcher and former Phillie Matt Beech with a bat after getting plunked.
Offerman homered in the first and saw the HBP as an attempt at retribution. He broke Beech's non-pitching finger and inadvertently hit the Bridgeport catcher John Nathans in the back of the head during one of his many swings at Beech. Offerman and Beech were both rejected and Nathans, feeling nauseated, had to leave after the inning.
The Bridgeport PD helped escort Offerman from the field and booked him on two counts of second-degree assault.
It makes us proud!
The Save Max Experience
Experience is a mere whiff or rumble, produced by enormously complex and ill-deciphered causes of experience; and in the other direction, experience is a mere peephole through which glimpses come down to us of eternal things.
I got a nice mention in Todd Zolecki's column in the Inquirer today. Todd noticed that the Phils had three relievers (Jose Mesa, Tom Gordon, and Antonio Alfonseca) who have over 100 career savesoddly, none of whom is the closer, and he asked if that was an uncommon occurrence.
I looked it up and it had happened 16 times prior to this season, the most being four 100-plus relievers on the 2002 Phils:
That got me wondering about the most career saves for a bullpen and whether it matters how much closing experience a bullpen has. You might notice that the Phils' bullpen even with three members with 100+ career saves has been among the worst in baseball all season. They currently have the 22nd best ERA (4.22) among the major-league bullpens.
I ran the numbers for team winning percentage, career saves, lead retention rate (based on leads after six innings), and relief wins (which is based on the runs saved based on pitching roles). I found that career saves matters very little.
First, here are the bullpens with the most career saves:
Here are the least (since 1901):
You'll notice most are from the early twentieth century. Here are the most since the instution of the official save stat in 1969:
Now, here are the teams that did the best at retaining a lead after six innings:
Now, here are the bullpens with the most Relief Wins:
How well do this stats correlate to each other and to team winning percentages? The short answer is not to well.
The best was lead retention to winning percentage (a 0.601 correlation coefficient), which makes sense because the both deal with winning. Career saves has just about nothing to do with lead retention (0.084), so having an experienced bullpen does not lead to an effective one. Career saves does not correlate to winning percentage (0.132) or Relief Wins (0.247) all that much better.
Then again, having a good bullpen does not necessary lead to winning ballgames. Relief Wins correlate to winning percentage and lead retention a bit better than career saves but it's hardly a strong relationship (0.467 and 0.423).
So what does it mean? A strong bullpen is important, but a strong rotation is even more important. Speaking of which, why is Brett Myers, the non-100 save closer for the Phils, still the closer? Wouldn't the Phils be better off with the former starter back in the rotation instead of Adam Eaton or Kyle Lohse?
Then again nothing about this team makes all that much sense to me including their current winning ways with half the team including the best second baseman in baseball, Chase Utley, on the DL. And now it looks like the players are campaigning for Charlie "I Need Friggin'" Manuel to retain his job according to a report in the Metro. Then again with the execrable Dave Montgomery running the team and the somnolent, semi-retired GM Pat Gillick making infuriating transaction after infuriating transaction, what does it matter who pilots the team on the field?
As the Ankiel Turns
Rick Ankiel lived up to the hype. The once famous failed pitcher hit a homer in his first major-league game after becoming an outfielder in the minors helping the Cards to a shutout win.
Ankiel is not the first converted left-handed pitcher to become a power-hitting left handed outfielder. There's another player who went experienced a very similar circuitous path in the majors. He played for the Red Sox. You know who I mean.
Of course, I speaking of Buck Freeman. You might have thought of someone else.
In 1891 Freeman was a 19-year-old rookie for the Washington Statesmen in the old American Association. He pitched five games for a 3-2 record and a 3,89 ERA, but he walked 33 men in 44. He also allowed 32 runs though just 19 were earned. The kid needed a bit more seasoning.
Well, he got six and one half years of it. When he returned the Statesmen were now known as the Senators and they were now in the twelve-team National League. And Freeman was now a right fielder. After purchasing his contract from Toronto of the Eastern League (now the International League), for whom he had toiled for the past three seasons. Freeman responded with a .364 batting average, a .424 on-base percentage, a .523 slugging average and an OPS 71% better than the park-adjusted league average in 107 at-bats.
He easily beat out the incumbent, Jake Gettman, in 1899 and went on to hit 25 homers, the most since Ned Williamson set a new record with 27 in the talented-diluted three-league 1884 season. In fact it was the first time that anyone had twenty home runs since the Phils' Big Sam Thompson hit exactly that many in 1889. It would be another twelve years until anyone recorded 16, let alone 20, homers (Frank Schulte's 21 in 1911). The next man to best Freeman was the other guy you were thinking of a few moments ago, George Herman Ruth, who set a new homer record with 29 in 1919.
Freeman went on to win a World Series with the Red Sox (actually "Americans") in 1903. Freeman never came close to 25 dingers again, but recorded double digits three times with Boston, leading the majors with 13 in 1903. He ended his career with 82 home runs and ratios of .293 batting, .346, OBP, .462 slugging, and a 132 adjusted OPS.
Ankiel is actually the 32nd left-handed pitcher turned outfielder in baseball history. The last previous was John Upham, who was used as an outfielder and a pinch-hitter in eight games while pitching two for the Cubs in 1968, his second and final season in the majors.
Another famous lefty cum outfielder was Lefty O'Doul, who began his career as a pitcher and part-time outfielder with the Yankees in 1919. He suffered through parts of four seasons in New York and Boston, and was out of the game for four years until he became a starting left-fielder for the Giants, Phillies, and Dodgers. O'Doul finished second in the MVP vote in 1929 when he hit .398 with 254 hits, 32 home runs, 122 RBI, and 152 runs for the Phillies. He lives on in a crappy anachronistic saloon that is definitely worth a visit when in San Francisco.
Other lefties who became outfielders include Cy Seymour, the first Elmer Smith, Reb Russel (who converted after age 30), Jack Graney (reportedly the first major-leaguer to appear in a game wearing a number in 1916), Lefty Good, and Cozy Dolan.
In total, 122 major-leaguers have switched from pitcher to position player in baseball history. 93 more have gone from position player to pitcher. The last two were Ron Mahay, a former scab outfielder with the Red Sox who is still active as a lefty specialist, now with the Braves, and Brooks Kieschnick who was a power pitcher/power hitter with the Brewers a few years back. Probably the most famous position player turned pitcher is Hall of Famer Bob Lemon.
So What’s Next For Barry? (Besides the Obligatory Trip to Disney World)
Love him or hate him apparently most people hate himBarry Bonds is now the home run champ. The career homer champ and the single-season champ.
Although he may not hold the career record nearly as long as his predecessor did (over 33 years). It is appropriate that Alex Rodriguez hit his five-hundredth on the same day that Bonds tied Aaron at 755. A-Rod just turned 32, and he leads the majors with 36 home runs. If he can match his career average over the next five yearsa big if, I admitRodriguez will be over 700 before his 37th birthday. If A-Rod can remain healthy and effective until he is Bonds' age (another big if), he could be approaching a thousand dingers.
When Aaron broke the record on April 8, 1974, his closest competition, Willie Mays, had already retired in the offseason. Next in line was Frank Robinson (552) and Harmon Killebrew (546) both of whom were 37 and aging rapidly.
When Aaron retired after the 1976 season, there was no real competition to his crown. No one under the age of 36 was within 400 of his record. The biggest threat was Reggie Jackson, who at age 30 just hit 27 home runs, quite a bit in those days (tied for sixth in the majors), to bring his career total to 281.
Here are the active home run leaders at the end of 1976:
Beyond Reggie were a few kids by the names of Mike Schmidt and Dave Kingman, who came in at numbers one and two for the home run title that year, but they were not within 600 of Aaron's record:
Bonds' record comes with a built-in serf whispering "Remember, thou art mortal" in his ear. Then again, Barry is far from finished. He leads the majors in OBP (an amazing .495), OPS (1.064), park-adjusted OPS (179), walks (114), and intentional walks (34). Even though he has "just" 22 home runs so far this season, he is averaging one every 12.1 at-bats, third best in the majors. One can still make an argument for Bonds being the most feared hitter in the game at age 42.
Whereas Aaron hit just forty more home runs after breaking the record, Bonds could have another hundred under his belt when he retires if he remains healthy. Sadaharu Oh's professional record of 868 home runs may be within his reach. (Then again, Josh Gibson has been credited with anywhere from 800 to 1000 home runs in his career while his Hall plaque estimated it at "almost 800".)
Bonds projects to 33 home runs this season, which would be his most since 2004, but is still the least he has hit in a full season since his Pirate days (i.e., 25 in 1991he hit 26 in 130 games last year and 33 in a strike-shortened 1995 season). Even at his current pace, it would take him another three years to reach Oh. He would be 46 by that time.
Aside from home run records, he has plenty of hitting records and/or milestones to keep him occupied until he is ready to hang up the arm brace. He now has 2915 hits. He projects to another 39 in 2007, which would leave him just 46 shy of 3000 hits. When and if he reaches the figure, probably some time before the All-Star break, he will be the 28th man to do so.
Bonds is fourth all-time with 5936 total bases. He has very little chance of catching Hank Aaron in this category at least. Aaron's 6856 total bases leads all batters. However, he projects to 6014 by the end of this season, which would make him just the fourth man to 6000 total bases. And number two is within his reach (Stan Musial at 6134).
Barry has 9774 at-bats and projects to 9913 by the end of 2007. There are just 24 men with 10K ABs in baseball history. Consider that Bonds has over 2500 walks to go along with those at-bats. He currently has 12512 plate appearances and can expect to 12713 by season's end. Another season would put him in the top five all of which accumulated over 13K plate appearances.
Bonds current has 1981 RBI and should become the fourth man in baseball history to eclipse two thousand by the end of 2007. His projected total of 2008 should be just behind Cap Anson's 2076. The top two, Aaron at 2297 and Ruth at 2217, might be a bit harder to reach.
Even though Bonds is thought of as an RBI man, it should be remembered that his 2212 runs scored places him third all time. He projects to 2243 by the end of the season, and he could own the record by the end of next season. Both #2, Ty Cobb (2246), and all-time leader, Rickey Henderson (2295), are within his reach within one healthy season.
Also, within his reach is the all-time extra base hit record. He is currently second (1432) behind Aaron (1477). His 2007 projection (1449) puts him one healthy season behind Aaron (I wonder if Bud Selig will attend those games).
Bonds is also second in times on base (5560), but has little chance of catching the all-time leader Pete Rose (5929). Even with his 2007 projection (5658), he will probably be almost three hundred times on base behind Rose.
Bonds has stolen five bases this season without being caught once, even so he probably cannot improve much on his 32nd place standing in stolen bases. His 514 still put him in elite company-just 36 men have stolen 500 bases. He does have almost 500 more home runs than any of the 31 men who stole more bases than him. The closes is Rickey Henderson's 297 HRs.
Of course, Bonds has already obliterated two other records, career walks and career intentional walks. His 2540 are exactly 350 more than the next man (Rickey Henderson at 2190). He will keep adding to that total with a 2007 projection of 2599.
His 679 intentional walks are almost 400 more than the next man (Aaron at 293 though they were not officially kept until after his rookie year). Bonds may break 700 by the season's end (he projects to 697).
All of the walks made me wonder. You hear steroids mentioned whenever Bonds' record is brought up, but very rarely do you hear that Bonds has broken a record while opposing pitchers have refused to throw him any pitches to hit. Using his 2007 projects, Bonds will be walked more than 1500 times more than one would expect given the league averages over his career. That's more than any other player in baseball history.
Here are the men who exceeded his league's walk expectancy by the most over the course of their careers. Their totals are broken down by unintentional and intentional walks:
(* = through 2006)
Bonds has lose basically one plate appearance in eight over the his career to walks above the league average. Couple that with parts of two seasons (1994-95) lost to a strike. Bonds 1994 home run total of 37 project to 52 without the strike. His 33 in 1995 project to 37. That would give him another 19. With those projects, he would be finishing 2007 with 787 homers, 3,022 hits, 2,054 RBI, 2,293 runs (two behind the career record), 532 stolen bases, 10,136 at-bats, 12,986 total plate appearances, 6,155 total bases, and 2645 walks (706 intentional).
Giving him back the 1545 lost plate appearances due to the walks above expectations, that would project Bonds to 93 more home runs. Compensating for the strike and the at-bats lost to excessive walks, Bonds would project 880 home runs by the end of this season. Take that Sadaharu.
He would also have 11,342 at-bats #6 all time), 3382 hits (#8), 690 doubles (#5), 88 triples, and 6887 total bases (#2).
Apparently, however, it does not matter what sorts of gaudy numbers Bonds puts up could have put up. His fate will be determined by what happens (or maybe what doesn't happen) with the Balco case. He'll be tried in the court of public opinion, and in the eyes of many, he has already lost there.
It's sad given that we would like all of our sports records to be untarnished, unalloyed stories of personal triumph. Maybe that's a bit naïve. Who knows, given the widespread use of performance enhancements throughout sports and the apparently ever-worsening inability of organizations to catch those who partake in them, maybe in fifty years more jaded eyes will have less of a problem with Bonds' alleged missteps.
As for me, to channel manager Kid Gleason during the Black Sox trial, he is the best ballplayer I have ever seen. Period.
Everybody Must Get Milestoned
So A-Rod and Bonds couldn't wait for Glavine's next start, as I predicted, to complete a milestones trifecta, but they did get to within a day. Oh well.
So now there are two men at the career home run summit, 22 men over the 500-homer plateau and 23 men have reached the 300-win milestone. Bonds is hated for alleged steroid use, A-Rod is hated for his salary and for being A-Rod, and Glavine's achievement is marginalized as supposed pundits discuss and debate whether any other player will ever reach the milestone. And still baseball gets crammed in to the last fifteen minutes of SportsCenter while NFL training camp rumors dominate the broadcast. (And, of course, Leon is getting laaaaaarger!) Again, I say, oh well.
2007 becomes the third year in baseball history in which a player reaches the 500-homer mark and another reaches 300 wins (A-Rod, Frank Thomas, and Glavine). The other two were 2003 Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens) and 2004 (Ken Griffey and Greg Maddux).
It could also be the first year in baseball history in which 500-home run hitters outnumber 300-game winners. They trail by one with Jim Thome (490) and Manny Ramirez (489) within striking distance by the end of this season or the beginning of next.
Consider that in 1959 the number of 300-game winners outnumbered 500-homer guys four-to-one (12-3, actually). 500-homer-ians are leading 19-11 since 1960. Here are the totals for each as of the end of a decade and per each decade:
It certainly looks like the 500-HR guys are prepared to take over for good. Then again, the 300-game winners will probably have the last laugh: Glavine is pretty close to a lock for the Hall. The only other members not yet in Cooperstown are certain locks, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux. Meanwhile, Rafael Palmeiro (569) will most likely get very little support when he is eligible. Mark McGwire (583) was a dud in his first year of Hall eligibility. Frank Thomas (505) is still not a lock in many people's minds. Even Sammy Sosa (604) has his many detractors.
With Ken Griffey (589) and A-Rod apparent locks for the 600-home run club, there may be seven members of that once ultra-exclusive club in just a few years. Within a decade, that number could grow substantially.
The 500-home run plateau might lose its relevance. I mean, we don't celebrate the 400-home run club, do we? I don't remember Dave Kingman getting a ton of Hall support due to his 438 homers.
A-Rod might establish a new club before he's done, the 800-home run club (unless you count Sadaharu Oh and Josh Gibson).
300! (Based on Rick Sutcliffe’s graphic novel)
July 31, 2007 was destined to become an historic date in baseball history. Barry Bonds was poised to tie the all-time career home run record. Alex Rodriguez was about to become the 22nd member of the 500-home run club. It would be just the fourth time in baseball history that two men hit their 500th in the same year (Frank Thomas did it earlier this season). Finally, Tom Glavine would reach the 300th win milestone, becoming the 23rd man to do so and would simultaneously win ten games for the 18th time, a feat only eight other pitchers have done (see below).
It's three days later and what have got? Nothin'! Bubkis! Nada. Zip. Zilch. The big goose egg.
Even the reinvigorated Bud Selig has given up on Bonds. The Yankees have hit fifteen homers in three games but none by A-Rod. Glavine came the closest to reaching his milestones, but the Mets bullpen lost his lead and then the game in the thirteenth. Maybe Bonds and A-Rod are waiting for Glavine's next start (Sunday) to try the trifecta again.
Anyway, the day of the big non-event I heard Rick Stutcliffe (or was it John KrukI think all of the ESPN non-personalities share one brain, albeit a reptilian one) opining that Glavine when he reaches 300 wins will become the last man to ever do so. This is the same speech that we have heard each time Clemens, Maddux, et al reached three hundred. Heck, they probably said it when Cy Young hit 300 wins, and he had 211 left in the tank.
I thought I would take a look at the previous 300-game winners to see whether any current players are on track for 300. Some may be right on pace with the legends and we don't even know it.
The only problem is that even with Glavine thrown in the nineteenth-century guys predominate. Even Glavine lags behind when we use the overall average for all 300-game winners. Here are the only players that match the pace for future 300-game winners at their age (through 2006). Two have already accomplished the feat:
Ignoring the players who started pitching in the nineteenth century, you get an even dozen on track for 300 wins:
That seems like quite enough to rebuke Mssr. Sutcliffe, but I'll go one better. What if we look at those players that exceed the minimum wins that any 300-game winner amassed at the same age?
Well, then 259 including the likes of Dustin Nippert, who had one win by age 25. I list here just the ones with 100 or more wins (through 2006):
My point is that if you take a look around, there are plenty of candidates for 300 wins. Most probably very few of them will reach the magical number, but they seem as likely as most of the 300-game winners at various stages in their careers.
For the record, average by age for all 300-game winners (plus Glavine):
And here are the pitchers with at least 18 years of ten or more wins:
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
10 09 07
06 05 04 03
12 11 10 09 08 07
06 05 04 03 02 01
12 11 10 09 08 07
06 05 04 03 02 01
12 11 10 09 08 07
06 05 04 03 02 01
12 11 10 09 08 07
06 05 04 03 02 01
12 11 10 09 08 07
06 05 04 03 02 01
12 11 10 09 08 07
Links to MBBR