The 120th season of baseball’s modern era is finally underway, a season like no other … yada, yada, yada. No, I’m not going to assault you with yet another piece on the uniqueness of the 2020 campaign. Instead, I’m going to look at the uniqueness of every season, hopefully from a new angle. More after the jump.
Well, if the last post was from before I was born, you know this one is from before then, too. So all the regular caveats about my own lack of personal experience with this particular season of Major League Baseball.
(Also, sorry for the length of this post, and sorry for taking so long to post. But it took me a couple weeks to research and write.)
So… why 1959? Is it because that was Mickey Mantle‘s worst offensive season from 1954-1964 (“only” a 151 OPS+)? Or maybe just that his Yankees actually didn’t win the pennant that year? Well, in part, yes; I thought it would be more interesting to cover a year in the ’50s that WASN’T the “usual suspects.” But the Senior Circuit featured one of the greatest three-team pennant races of all-time (including a season-ending three-game playoff), and some of the great individual performances of the 20th century. So I’ll give us a cursory look at the American League, and then spend the bulk of our time in the National. Hope you enjoy!
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.)
Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I’m delighted to seize on Dr. Doom’s idea by making a HOF case for this player of whom I’m guessing many of you may not be aware. If you’re not familiar with Hines, he was a center-fielder from the earliest days of major league ball, enjoying his greatest success with the Providence Grays. More after the jump.
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?
One of the lesser known and seldom discussed offensive metrics is RE24, a measure for batters (or pitchers) of how much better or worse they were in improving their team’s run expectancy in their plate appearances. Last year’s league leading batters were Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, and most often (but not always) the RE24 leaders are the same leading players as evaluated by other metrics. But, what RE24 provides that other metrics don’t is that each player is evaluated on how well he did in his own individual context. More after the jump.
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!