Showing posts with label Ken Griffey Jr.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ken Griffey Jr.. Show all posts

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Former White Sox outfielder Tim Raines, two others inducted into Hall of Fame

Tim Raines with the Sox in 1995
Congratulations go out to former White Sox outfielder and coach Tim Raines, who was one of three people elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday.

Raines, a six-time All-Star who ranks among the best leadoff hitters in the history of baseball, received support on 86.0 percent of the 442 ballots cast in his 10th and final year of Hall eligibility. He easily cleared the 75 percent threshold required for induction.

The switch-hitter finished with 808 career stolen bases, including a 90-steal season in 1983 as a member of the Montreal Expos. He also won a batting title with Montreal in 1986, hitting .334

Raines will no doubt go into the Hall wearing an Expos cap, but he was a productive player for the Sox from 1991-95. In those five seasons, he posted a .283/.375/.407 slash line with a combined 50 home runs, 98 doubles, 28 triples, 143 stolen bases and 277 RBIs.

His best individual season with the Sox came in 1993. He hit .306/.401/.480 with 16 home runs, 54 RBIs and 21 steals and was the left fielder and leadoff hitter for the AL West Division champions.

Raines will be joined in the Class of 2017 by former Houston Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell and catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who played 21 years with six different teams, most notably with the Texas Rangers.

Bagwell received 86.2 percent of the vote, while Rodriguez received 76 percent of ballots in his first year eligible for induction.

There were two narrow misses. Relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman (74 percent) and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero (71.7 percent) are trending toward probable induction in 2018.

As Sox fans, we should probably get used to seeing former Sox players going into the Hall wearing a different cap than the Silver and Black. Last year, Ken Griffey Jr. went into the Hall as a Seattle Mariner. This year, Raines goes in as an Expo. Next year, Jim Thome's name appears on the ballot for the first time, and his 612 career home runs (134 with the Sox) will be hard for voters to ignore. However, he'll be going to the Hall as a Cleveland Indian.

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, July 31, 2014

Top five deadline deals for the White Sox since 2000

Baseball's trade deadline looms Thursday. It's the last shopping day for teams to make moves without putting players on waivers first. Since that process is sometimes an impediment to adding reinforcements, the days before the July 31 deadline are always among the busiest on the baseball calendar.

Besides being the time to bolster rosters for the stretch run -- something neither Chicago team will be doing this year -- teams can also make more forward-thinking moves such as moving a veteran player for prospects, or picking up a veteran player under contract for multiple seasons yet. These kind of trades can be big moves that shape the future of a franchise, or small ones that add finishing pieces or future role players.

Here are the five best deals the White Sox have made near the deadline since 2000:

5. July 30, 2013. Traded Jake Peavy to the Boston Red Sox. Received Avisail Garcia from the Detroit Tigers and Francellis Montas, Cleuluis Rondon and Jeffrey Wendelken from the Red Sox. The Red Sox sent Jose Iglesias to the Tigers.

Garcia hasn't played much this season because of a shoulder injury. The Sox are hoping the fast-healing outfielder will see some time later this year because if he can develop into a solid everyday player, this trade will be exactly the kind of veteran-for-prospect deal the youth-starved Sox needed to make.

For all the flaws the Sox rotation has shown this year, Peavy isn't really missed considering his tepid performance this season and the big money he's making on the last year of his contract.

4. July 29, 2000. Traded Miguel Felix, Juan Figueroa, Jason Lakman and Brook Fordyce to the Baltimore Orioles. Received Harold Baines and Charles Johnson.

Johnson was a huge upgrade at catcher for the Sox over Fordyce (.272/.313/.464) and Mark Johnson (.225/.315/.316), batting an incredible .326/.411/.607 in 158 PAs over the last two months of the season. Consider how ridiculously talented the Sox offense was that year when Johnson, batting ninth in the playoffs, had 30 home runs on the season.

While Johnson left after the season, the Sox didn't win a playoff series and Baines wasn't a very effective bench bat during his third tour of duty with the team, this trade worked out just fine as none of the pieces the Sox gave up would haunt them down the road.

3. July 31, 2008. Traded Nick Masset and Danny Richar to the Cincinnati Reds. Received Ken Griffey, Jr. and cash.

It's easy to crack jokes about how Griffey was a shell of himself by the time he got to the Sox because it's true. He was no longer a great hitter and his play in center field could make you want to close your eyes. But consider that Brian Anderson, Dewayne Wise and down-season Nick Swisher were tasked with patrolling that spot after Alexei Ramirez was moved to second base full-time.

Griffey batted a decent .260/.347/.405 for the Sox, plus made a good defensive play to throw out the Twins' Michael Cuddyer at home plate in the 1-0 win over Minnesota in the AL Central tiebreaker. So even though Masset had a few decent seasons as a reliever, this is a trade the Sox should be happy they made.

2. July 31, 2004. Traded Esteban Loaiza to the New York Yankees. Received Jose Contreras and cash.

Despite having traded for Freddy Garcia just a month earlier, the Sox were headed in the wrong direction after losing Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez for the season. Loaiza, who appeared to have turned his career around the previous season, was also struggling, so the Sox opted to swap him for another right-hander who was getting roughed up, but had some potential and wasn't a free agent at the end of the year.

Contreras kept scuffling that year, pitching to a 5.30 ERA, only a slight improvement over his work with the Yankees. But the next season things clicked for the Cuban as he finished with a 3.61 ERA, including a dominant second half where he posted a 2.96 ERA and was the Game 1 starter in three playoff series as the Sox went 11-1 on their way to their first World Series title in 88 years.

1. July 31, 2005. Traded Ryan Meaux to the San Diego Padres. Received Geoff Blum.

Blum wasn't anywhere near as important as Contreras to the 2005 title march. In fact, a lot of observers were puzzled when he was the only piece added at the deadline by then-Sox GM Kenny Williams, who was notorious for his all-in style of roster building.

But it's hard to beat it when a trade deadline acquisition does this...