Showing posts with label Edgar Martinez. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Edgar Martinez. Show all posts

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza make up surprisingly small 2016 Hall of Fame class

Ken Griffey Jr.
During his 1990s heyday with the Seattle Mariners, Ken Griffey Jr. was perhaps the most complete baseball player I've seen in my lifetime.

His career accomplishments are many: 630 home runs; 1,836 RBIs; 2,781 hits; 184 stolen bases; a .284 lifetime batting average; a .538 lifetime slugging percentage; the 1997 AL MVP award; 13 All-Star appearances; nine Gold Gloves; seven Silver Slugger awards, etc., etc., etc.

It was a no-brainer for Griffey to be elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, and elected he was on Wednesday, appearing on 437 of 440 ballots. Griffey earned 99.3 percent of the vote, surpassing Tom Seaver's record of 98.84 percent in 1992.

A lot of folks are making a big deal about Griffey's selection not being unanimous, and I understand the dismay to a point. There's no justification for a voter not naming Griffey on his ballot, but when all is said and done, who cares? I doubt there will ever be anyone voted into the Hall unanimously, and at the end of the day, Griffey is taking his rightful place among the game's greats.

For me, it's more bothersome that only two players were elected this year, when there are at least a half-dozen names on the ballot worthy of enshrinement. Mike Piazza, who received 83 percent of the vote, will be the only man joining Griffey in this year's Hall class.

Piazza, a former 62nd round draft pick -- I don't think they have 62 rounds in the draft anymore -- defied the odds by becoming one of the greatest offensive catchers in the game's history. He finished his career with 427 home runs, 396 of them as a catcher. Piazza is a 12-time All-Star who won 10 Silver Slugger awards. He finished with a .308 career batting average and a .545 slugging percentage. He was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1993. He finished in the top 5 of the MVP balloting five times, including four times in a row from 1993-97.

Congratulations to both of these two great players, but it's surprising some other guys didn't get elected this year. Players need 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement.

Here's the list of other guys who fell short:
Edgar Martinez

Jeff Bagwell: 71.6 percent
Tim Raines: 69.8 percent
Trevor Hoffman: 67.3 percent
Curt Schilling: 52.3 percent
Roger Clemens: 45.1 percent
Barry Bonds: 44.3 percent
Edgar Martinez: 43.4 percent
Mike Mussina: 43.0 percent
Alan Trammell: 40.9 percent
Lee Smith: 34.1 percent
Fred McGriff: 20.9 percent
Jeff Kent: 16.6 percent
Larry Walker: 15.5 percent
Mark McGwire: 12.3 percent
Gary Sheffield: 11.6 percent
Billy Wagner: 10.5 percent
Sammy Sosa: 7.0 percent

I'll bet every baseball fan out there can find a few players on that list who they believe should be in the Hall. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there making a case for Bagwell today, but for me, the two guys who deserve more respect than they are getting are Martinez and Kent.

Martinez's 2,247 career hits and 309 career home runs probably aren't good enough for some people, but his career slash line is .312/.418/.515. He's one of only 18 players in the history of baseball to have a career batting average over .300, a career on-base percentage over .400 and a slugging percentage over .500.

Martinez walked (1,283) more times than he struck out (1,202) over his 18-year career. Who does that anymore? And he had a period of dominance, as well, compiling seven seasons with a batting average of .320 or higher. He won AL batting titles in 1992 and 1995.

Why isn't Martinez getting more support? Well, he played for the Seattle Mariners, for one. He'd be enshrined already if he played for the Yankees or the Dodgers. Two, he spent most of his career as a DH, and some whiny purists have yet to accept designated hitter as a legitimate position, even though it's been part of the sport for more than 40 years. It's past time to get over that and put Martinez, one of the most feared hitters in the 1990s, into the Hall.

As for Kent, you would think the most prolific offensive second baseman of the modern era would be able to get at least 20 percent of the ballot, but you'd be wrong.

Of Kent's 377 home runs, 351 came as a second baseman. That's an all-time record. There's also the 2,461 career hits, the .290/.356/.500 career slash, the 560 doubles, four Silver Sluggers, five All-Star appearances and the 2000 NL MVP award. And, Kent was at his best on the postseason stage -- nine home runs in 49 career playoff games, including three home runs during the 2002 World Series.

The case against Kent? Well, his defense was average at best, and he was a jerk. But those factors didn't stop voters from putting Jim Rice in the Hall. I feel comfortable arguing that both Martinez and Kent were better players than Rice, and some other guys who have been inducted, as well.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Myth-busting: Single-team career stars are *not* becoming more rare

You know who played 3,308 career games all with the Boston Red Sox?


Indeed, Ken "Hawk" Harrelson's oft-mentioned former teammate, Carl Yastrzemski, tops a list of 36 players in major league history who have played at least 2,000 career games all with the same team.

If you've watched ESPN or MLB Network at any point during the last two months, you are no doubt aware that longtime New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is retiring at the end of the season. Jeter is among those 36 players, having played each of his 2,610 career games (entering Thursday) in a Yankee uniform.

On a recent MLB Network broadcast, I heard one of the commentators note that Jeter has spent his entire career in New York. They added that in this era of free agency, "you just don't see that too often anymore." That's conventional wisdom. Heck, I think I've probably said things like that myself.

But every now and then I like to research the facts behind the conventional wisdom, just to see if they are accurate. In this case, they are not.

Of the 36 players on that list, 23 are players who have played in my lifetime. For the record, I was born in 1976.

So, that means between the years of 1901 and 1976, a span of 75 years, there were only 13 players who played 2,000 games or more all with the same team. In the 38 years since 1976, 23 players have played 2,000 or more games all with the same team

Contrary to conventional wisdom, it's actually more common nowadays for a player to have a long career with the same team.

I won't bore you by listing all the players on the list, but among the 36 are some star players I recall watching during my 1980s childhood: Tony Gwynn, George Brett, Robin Yount, Mike Schmidt, Cal Ripken.

Others, like Jeter, are names familiar to fans who have followed baseball over the last 10 or 15 years: Barry Larkin, Craig Biggio, Edgar Martinez, Chipper Jones, Jeff Bagwell, Todd Helton.

Don't get me wrong: Given the sheer volume of players who make it to the major leagues, it is still uncommon for a guy to spend a career that spans more than a decade in the same city. At some point, most guys get traded, or leave their original franchise via free agency. But the conventional wisdom that says single-team career stars like Jeter are becoming more and more rare is just plain wrong.

In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if this list continues to grow over the next decade. You can find examples of players who are candidates to join the list. Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia has played 1,025 career games (entering Thursday). He is under contract with the Red Sox until 2021, when he will be 38 years old. How about Evan Longoria? He's played 807 career games (entering Thursday) and is under contract with the Tampa Bay Rays through 2023. There's two possibilities right there. I'm sure there are others.

You see, this old-school lament that "players just don't stay in the same place anymore" is not quite right. They didn't stay in the same place all that often back in the old days either. If I ever try to tell you otherwise, remind me I'm wrong. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Frank Thomas should be elected to the Hall of Fame ... this year

As we noted on Tuesday, the Baseball Writers Association of America has announced its 2014 Hall of Fame ballot.

There are three slam-dunk, no-brainer choices who were added to the ballot this year: pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and former White Sox 1B/DH Frank Thomas.

Well, at least I think those guys are locks for enshrinement this year. They should be, but I awoke this morning to a front page story in the Chicago Tribune sports section that questioned whether voters will allow Thomas in on the first ballot. Frankly, I can't believe this is even up for debate. But since it is, let me make the case for Thomas:

1. He is 18th on the all-time list with 521 home runs. He hit over 30 home runs in a season nine times and topped the 40 mark on five occasions.

2. He finished with lifetime career batting average of .301. Only five players in the history of the game have hit more home runs and had a higher batting average. Those players are Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Manny Ramirez and Jimmie Foxx

3. He hit .300 or better in nine seasons, including seven consecutive years from 1991 through 1997.

4. His career on-base percentage is .419. He had 10 seasons where his on-base percentage was over .400, and his on-base was never lower than .426 during his seven years of dominance from '91 to '97. He led the league in walks three times.

5. He finished with 1,667 RBIs, including 11 seasons of 100 RBIs or more. He had 100 RBIs or more in eight consecutive seasons from 1991 to 1998. After a rare down season in 1999, he posted a career-high 143 RBIs in 2000.

6. He is a two-time MVP (1993, 1994) and finished in the top four of MVP voting on three other occasions. Nine times, he placed in the top 10 in the MVP balloting. 

7. His .974 career OPS ranks 14th all-time. He had seven seasons where his OPS was over 1.000, including a sick 1.217 mark in his MVP season of 1994.

8. If you're into the new-age statistical analysis, Thomas' lifetime war is 73.6. By way of comparison, the average WAR of first baseman already in the Hall of Fame is 65.7.

The evidence is overwhelming. How can anyone not vote for Frank Thomas for the Hall of Fame? If voters are willing to enshrine Tony Perez with his .279/.341/.463 career slash line, then they cannot ignore Thomas and his .301/.419/.555 career slash line.

I've heard arguments about Thomas being "one-dimensional." I've heard people pooh-pooh his candidacy because he had over 5,000 plate appearances as a DH. Well, I think the "purists" can take a leap. Designated hitter is a position in baseball now. It's been around for 40 years. It's not going anywhere. I see no reason why players like Thomas and Edgar Martinez, who defined greatness at that position, shouldn't be enshrined in the Hall.

One-dimensional? Pffftttt. The Hall is already full of one-dimensional players. They are called pitchers. Nolan Ryan couldn't hit his way out of a brown paper bag. Neither could Tom Seaver. And neither of those two men were winning a bunch of Gold Gloves for their fielding prowess either. But who cares? They were quite rightfully elected into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot because they rank among the greatest pitchers the game has ever seen.

Likewise, Thomas should be elected into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot because he ranks among the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. The numbers don't lie.