First things first: unlike 1997, our first post in the series, I was not alive for 1980. Still six years from being born, I’m writing here as an amateur baseball historian/enthusiast/guy-who-spends-too-much-time-on-Baseball-Reference.com. Therefore, your comments and discussion are particularly appreciated on this post. Also, I want to have, here in my opening paragraph, a shout-out to Tom Ra for the suggestion (and you really should click that link, because Tom pointed out a bunch of cool/interesting things about 1980 in his post; Doug added some other interesting tidbits below it). Without any further ado…
Well, Doug posted a quiz about sluggers; here’s one where you won’t find any of those. What career accomplishment do these Live Ball era players have in common? (I hope I caught them all, but I’m not 100% sure, so I make no promises!)
I have to say how little the subject matter of this post matters to me. As I’ve said before, batting average doesn’t super matter; we all know this. 1983 is before I was born. I have no emotional attachment or interest in any of the subjects of this post. And this took a tremendous amount of research.
But… all of that goes to show you that a good baseball story, is a good baseball story. Because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this race, a batting title chase for the ages among four players: Bill Madlock of Pittsburgh, Jose Cruz of Houston, and teammates Lonnie Smith and George Hendrick of St. Louis. (To be clear, I started this post the day before MLB.com decided to feature an article about the Cruz family; it’s just a happy coincidence that there’s something fun there to link while I was writing about the eldest in the family.)
“Replacement-level.” In certain corners of the baseball internet, it’s a dirty word. In other corners, it’s a given. But what does it mean, truly, to be a “replacement-level hitter” in 2020? Is “replacement-level” a provable concept? Do you need an advanced math degree? Are there real examples of such hitters? Read on to find out!
As I write this, it’s May 29th, 2020. 15 years ago today, Roy Halladay was nearly perfect; 10 years ago today, he was. Let’s check it out. (And FYI, I really didn’t have time to compose this, so it’s quite long. I might’ve done a better job editing if I hadn’t needed to pop it out the same day I wrote it in order for it to be relevant, so I’m sorry for the length of the piece.)
Let’s get it out of the way: batting average is not one of the five most important offensive stats. It’s not one of the ten most important. It might be in the top 20. But regardless, we all grew up knowing “.300 hitter=good,” and we still talk about the batting average leader as the “batting champion.” So even though it’s not “important,” batting average can still be fun and interesting. So I’ve been looking into some batting races to see if there’s anything “there” for me to post about. I’ve come up with a few that might be worth discussing.
But as is my wont, I feel a need to learn as much as possible about a topic before I’m ready to write about it. In this case, that meant analyzing batting races. So one of the questions that was burning in my mind was the counterpoint to which batting races were interesting: which batting races were the most lopsided in history?
While researching my latest post, I came across a name that loomed large in my childhood, about whom I haven’t thought in a long time. Andres Galarraga is probably, at this point, the second-most-famous “A. Galarraga” in your baseball encyclopedia/brain. But while Armando may be more famous today, the Big Cat belongs to a couple specific groups. I’m hoping you can figure out what they are in these trivia questions.
Note: I’ve never done one of these trivia things before, as you know, so they’re not going to be as hard or clever as Doug’s… or maybe they’ll be too hard. I genuinely don’t know, but I hope it’s fun either way.
Longtime reader/poster Bells had what I thought was a phenomenal suggestion idea for a post here, in which we could pick a season and dive in. I decided to pick what was probably the first season I would really say I was a “baseball fan.” So let’s look back at 1997, and PLEASE feel free to add as much commentary and as many memories as you can!
Hey folks! Dr. Doom here. I’ve been given authorship privileges here so that Doug doesn’t have to keep doing all the hard work for me (or take the blame for my mistakes anymore) when I have an idea for a post. So thanks for putting up with my (very verbose) writing.
Welcome to the second post in this series!