Showing posts with label Nolan Ryan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nolan Ryan. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

California Angels at White Sox: August 7, 1974


An excellent YouTube video for a cold winter's day. This one has it all: Nolan Ryan, in his prime, leading 1-0 and taking a no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth. Harry Caray, in his prime, before he became a slobbering drunk. Dick Allen showing some hustle with the game on the line. A young Bruce Bochte establishing himself as one of the worst defensive players in MLB, and of course, the AstroTurf infield and natural grass outfield at Old Comiskey Park in the Bill Veeck years.

Enjoy!

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.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Homer Bailey's no-hitter is first of 2013 season

The 2012 baseball season equaled an all-time record with seven no-hitters thrown. This year, things are evening out a bit.

We got a little over halfway through the 2013 season before Homer Bailey broke the ice with the first no-hitter of the year Tuesday night.

The Cincinnati Reds right-hander defeated the defending world champion San Francisco Giants 3-0 before a crowd of over 27,000 people at Great American Ball Park.

Bailey retired the first 18 batters before walking Gregor Blanco to lead off the top of the seventh inning.

Blanco would be the only San Francisco player to reach base as Bailey faced just one hitter over the minimum.

Bailey struck out nine and needed a fairly economical 109 pitches to finish the job. He threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 28 batters he faced.

It was the second no-hitter of Bailey's career. He blanked the Pirates on Sept. 28, 2012, the seventh and final no-hitter of last season. On Tuesday, he became the first pitcher since Nolan Ryan to account for consecutive no-hitters — meaning that no other pitcher threw one between his two.

Ryan pulled that trick back in the mid-70s. As a member of the California Angels, he beat the Minnesota Twins 4-0 on Sept. 28, 1974. Check out the box score on that one. Ryan struck out 15 and walked eight in the victory. He later no-hit the Baltimore Orioles on June 1, 1975. Those were two of Ryan's record seven no-hitters during his 27-year career.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Verlander-Darvish duel never materializes

Well, so much for the pitching matchup of the century, huh?

As early as last weekend, I was hearing some national commentators salivate over Thursday's scheduled showdown between Detroit ace Justin Verlander and Texas ace Yu Darvish.

It was understandable to a point. Darvish entered the contest with a 6-1 record and a league-leading 80 strikeouts. Verlander was off to a mediocre 4-3 start, but hey, that 1.93 ERA was nothing to sneeze at, right?

I think people were going a little over the top, though, when they claimed this pitching matchup was the biggest one in Texas since Nolan Ryan beat Roger Clemens 2-1 in 1989. Those two guys are 300-game winners. Both Verlander and Darvish have a ways to go before they can be considered in that class. (Although, I'll admit Verlander might be on his way.)

Much to the surprise of many experts, the Rangers defeated the Tigers 10-4 Thursday night. Neither pitcher was on top of his game, and Verlander was downright awful. He didn't survive the third inning, allowing eight earned runs. Darvish, meanwhile, was shaky early. He allowed four earned runs over his first four innings, but settled down to retire 15 of the final 16 Tiger hitters he faced. He threw a career-high 130 pitches over eight innings to earn his seventh victory of the season.

The third inning of this game lasted a lifetime. The Tigers got three runs in the top half off Darvish, before the Rangers responded with seven runs in the bottom half. During the third inning, Verlander and Darvish combined to throw 74 pitches, giving up 12 baserunners and 10 runs. So much for that pitcher's duel.

Word to the wise: Don't ever think you've got baseball figured out. When you expect an epic pitching battle, you're probably going to end up with a slugfest.

Jeff Keppinger walks!

It only took 141 plate appearances, but White Sox infielder Jeff Keppinger finally drew his first walk of the season Thursday night.

The offending pitcher was Angels right-hander Michael Kohn, who somehow was wild enough to walk Keppinger on four pitches. Not only that, the bases were loaded at the time.

Keppinger's walk in the top of the eighth inning forced in the eventual winning run in a Sox 5-4 victory. Yet another example of how you should expect the unexpected in baseball.