This post is for voting and discussion in the 112th round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG). This round adds to the list of candidates eligible to receive your votes those players born in 1875. Rules and lists are after the jump.
This is part of a series of posts. Please read our methodology here
Greg Myers spent 18 years in the majors. He mostly played as a backup catcher, and he mostly hit as a backup catcher too. Before 2003, he appeared in 100 games in a season just twice (107 games in 1991, -4 batting runs and 108 games in 1993, -11 batting runs.) Through the 2002 season, Myers averaged 65 games played a year and amassed a total of -80 batting runs.
Then, in 2003, something weird happened. Myers became the Blue Jays’ starting catcher. Ken Huckaby was expected to hold the job (you might recall this was the year he injured Derek Jeter in spring training) but Myers was the starter from the beginning of the regular season.
And you know what? Myers hit. In a career-high 121 games, he posted career highs of 15 HR, 52 RBI, 51 runs, 101 hits, 37 walks, plus career highs in all 3 slash line categories, coming in at .307/.374/.502. His +13 batting runs was second in the AL among catchers, though well behind leader Jorge Posada with +37. Next best were A.J. Pierzynski with +10 and Jason Varitek with +9.
Even more impressive, Myers’ 2003 was the 5th-most batting runs ever by a catcher in his Age 37 season. bested only by Ernie Lombardi (1945, +21), Mike Piazza (2006, +14), Earle Brucker (1938, +14) and Posada (2009, +14).
That was Myers’ last hurrah, though, as he played in just 14 games over the next 2 years before retiring. He finished with -83 batting runs in the rest of his career outside of his +13 2003.
Yesterday, we began a conversation about this year’s MVPs. The Cy Young Award races pack more drama this year, particularly in the NL, where the top four candidates had historic years and three of them are practically indistinguishable in their excellence. Let’s vote for the best pitchers now.
List your top five candidates for Cy Young in either league or both in the comments, with or without commentary. I’ll compile on Friday, 11/13, using the same 7-4-3-2-1 scoring system MLB uses. Stats after the jump. All are sortable. Please don’t take the default sort as an endorsement.
I can’t think of a better crowd from which to source annual baseball awards than this site’s readership. Let’s kick off a series of groupthink ballots with a conversation about who should win the MVP award in each league. Your mission, should you chose to accept: List the ten players most worthy, in order, of winning the MVP in either league, or both. Feel free to elaborate on why you chose these players or just leave the ballot there in the comments.
My task: counting the votes. I’ll do it a week from tomorrow: Friday, 11/13. I’ll use the same 14-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring that MLB uses. Also, after the jump, I’ll throw some stats out, since that’s what this site is about, right?
This is part of a series of posts. Please read our methodology here)
Charlie Hayes played 14 years in the majors and was liked enough to do two tours of duty with 3 different franchises–the Giants (1988-89 & 1998-99), the Phillies (1989-1991 & 1995) and the Yankees (1992 & 1996-97). By virtue of playing an important position, third base, and being a consistently above-average defender, he turned out a career WAR of 10.5 despite being a below-average hitter for a corner infielder.
Hayes posted by far his best offensive season when he joined the Rockies in their inaugural season of 1993. And this season wasn’t just a “Coors effect”–his 118 OPS+ was 4th in the NL among 3Bs, just behind Gary Sheffield (120) and Dave Hollins (119), who all trailed leader Matt Williams (137) by a good chunk.
In 1993 Hayes had career bests in all of his slash-line categories, posting .305/.355/.522 vs career numbers of .262/.316/.398. He posted career highs in just about every offensive statistic, including hits, HR, 2B, SB, RBI, and R.
All this translated to +12 WAR batting runs that season. In his 13 other seasons, he totaled -92 batting runs, with every season being negative save a +3 in 1998.
Like many players on this countdown, Hayes is probably remembered as a better offensive player than he actually was, thanks to substantial value in his defense and his deserved longevity in the majors.
In this upcoming series of posts, we look at great batting seasons by players who were otherwise among the worst of their contemporaries, at least with the bat.
Before we dive in, let me explain the methodology and the meaning.
- The “worst hitters of the last 30 years” were the 200 batters, excluding pitchers, with the worst WAR batting runs totals from 1986 to 2015. To give you a sense, the first 3 in this list are Ozzie Guillen (-279 runs), Neifi Perez (-278 runs), and Omar Vizquel (-244 runs) and the last 3 are Tom Foley (-63 runs), Rafael Santana (-63 runs), and Peter Bergeron (-63 runs.)
- These players are, of course, not the worst players to play MLB during that time. The worst players all had much shorter careers and were, in most cases, even worse hitters but didn’t have enough time to accumulate a negative enough batting runs score to make the list. In other words, most of the 200 players had at least 500 games in the majors and the median number of games was about 990. These are all guys who were at least perceived as “quality major-leaguers”.
- For one thing, my analysis doesn’t include anything about defense or any of the other components of WAR, such as base running or positional scarcity. It’s no coincidence that Guillen, Perez, and Vizquel all played a lot of shortstop (and mainly played it well). Much of their overall value as ballplayers was in their defense and is not considered in this study.
- Among that list of 200 players, I found the best individual WAR batting run seasons, tweaked it a bit using my opinions, and created the top 10 list.
We’ll start with entry #10 on the list in a few minutes.
A patented Kansas City Royals comeback—the kind where they keep fouling off tough pitches and putting the mistakes in play until you implode—has them one victory away from a World Series championship.
Major League Baseball couldn’t dream of juicer storylines leading in to Game 5. Even if the season comes to an end on Sunday night, here are some stats to help you savor it.
- With one more victory, Kansas City would avenge the gut-wrenching loss it suffered to the San Francisco Giants under these same bright lights the previous year. In doing so, this would be the first team since the 1988-89 Oakland Athletics to get a ring the year after losing in the World Series.
- Alcides Escobar owned the month of October, setting a franchise record with the longest hitting streak a Royals player has ever had in the postseason. And now, he’s within reach of matching Pablo Sandoval (Giants, 2014) for most total postseason hits compiled in one year. Escobar is four hits away from tying Sandoval at 26. As the lead-off man on the visiting team, he’s virtually assured of getting enough plate appearances to attempt that in Game 5.
- Although without a start in this postseason, Royals outfielder Paulo Orlando has made his presence felt as a late-inning defensive replacement. Assuming that Sunday is another close contest requiring his services, Orlando could become the first player since John Lackey (Anaheim Angels, 2002) to record a hit on his birthday during a World Series.
- If the New York Mets can’t deliver a title for their fans, the least they could do is give them more Bartolo Colon. The round right-hander continues to defy the laws of physics by holding his own against world-class athletes at age 42. Colon has appeared twice thus far against the Royals. The only player to pitch more games in a World Series at an older age is Jim Kaat (St. Louis Cardinals, 1982).
What to Watch for
- The Royals have dominated late inning pressure situations in this matchup and throughout the postseason, putting immense pressure on the Mets to jump out to an early lead against Edinson Volquez. But it’s going to be difficult to make solid contact. Volquez’s sinker came out of his hand with fiery velocity in October, and with nastier movement on its journey to home plate than he showed during the regular season. The Mets can win the battle by subscribing to a patient approach against the pitcher with the worst career walk rate among active starters (min. 1,000 career innings).
Follow along for ongoing coverage of the World Series!
And in case this is the cruel end to baseball season, remember that HHS has football goodies for you, too!
Those of us rooting for a long World Series got their wish on Friday night. The New York Mets rode a David Wright break-out at the plate and dominant pitching in the middle and late innings to a 9-3 win over the Kansas City Royals in Game 3.
At the very least, Halloween will bring us crazy crowd shots of a festive fanbase. But here are the other treats to look forward to.
- Considering the depth of their bullpen and resiliency of their lineup, the Royals don’t often suffer a loss as lopsided as Friday night’s. Even throughout nine postseason bids in the franchise’s history, blow-outs like that have been few and far between. The Mets would need to outscore them by seven runs in a game to equal the pain K.C. suffered in the 1984 ALCS and 2014 World Series.
- There’s still time for Daniel Murphy to rediscover his power stroke, but for now, the arc of his postseason is closer to 2008 Melvin Upton Jr. than 2011 David Freese. Murphy is seeking to join Freese, Alex Rodriguez (2009) and Benito Santiago (2002) as the only players to drive in at least five runs in three consecutive series within the same postseason.
- Steven Matz gets the Game 4 starting assignment for the Mets. Citi Field is just a few miles away from where he was raised on Long Island, and the expectation is that a few (hundred) of his friends and family members will be in attendance. Jamie Moyer understands what that feels like—prior to the Matz, he was the most recent example of a pitcher starting a World Series game in his native state as a member of the home team (Philadelphia Phillies, 2008). Here’s a fun contrast between the two: Moyer was more than 24 years into his pro career when he got that opportunity; Matz is only 24 years into his life.
- In terms of both result and margin victory/defeat, the past three games have been an exact reenactment of the Mets’ experience in the 1986 World Series. Wouldn’t it be fitting if the “spookiness” continued through Halloween? To keep that going, the Mets would need to beat the Royals by four runs in Game 4 en route to tying the series.
What to Watch for
- A key to New York’s great offensive performance in Game 3, as ESPN’s Buster Olney points out, was the damage done against Yordano Ventura’s mid-90s fastball. All of their extra-base hits came off that pitch and that pitcher. But the Mets will get a much different look on Saturday with soft-tossing Chris Young, whose stuff rarely even touches 90 mph (and that’s usually out of the bullpen). Although Young surrenders plenty of fly balls, he’s difficult to square up. Postseason and regular season combined, there have been only six extra-base hits in the past 40 innings against him (a .292 slugging percentage).
Manager Terry Collins made the somewhat surprising decision to use closer Jeurys Familia for the 9th inning, despite a sizable six-run lead. The rationale is more obvious, however, when considering Familia’s career splits. There has been no drop in quality when he pitches on back-to-back days (.188/.267/.286 against, 1.79 ERA). Meanwhile, his most memorable gaffes—the July 30 blown save to the San Diego Padres, the game-tying home run allowed to Alex Gordon in Game 1 of this series—came with Familia rested for at least three days. Collins understandably doesn’t want the right-hander rusty for possible high-leverage situations in Games 4 or 5.
The 2015 World Series resumes with Game 3 on Friday night, as for the first time in its history, Citi Field will host the Fall Classic.
The previous matchups between the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets have given us awesome viewing experiences. Let’s hope the latest installment in this series won’t be any different.
- Johnny Cueto’s masterpiece caught many of us by surprise, given his uneven performances of the past several months. A complete-game effort by Game 3’s Yordano Ventura would be even more shocking. The most recent example of World Series teammates pitching back to back and going the distance dates back to the 1977 New York Yankees (Mike Torrez and Ron Guidry).
- Major League Baseball is in the midst of a youth movement, with New York’s Noah Syndergaard considered one of the brightest shining stars. So far this millennium, only two other pitchers—Madison Bumgarner and Michael Wacha—have started in the World Series at a younger age (Syndergaard is 23 years and 62 days).
- It’s been a few frustrating years for Mets fans, but Citi Field’s 7th season is already being rewarded with a World Series. That now leaves nine other active ballparks on the “gee, we still don’t know what that feels like” list. The oldest among them is Orioles Park at Camden Yards, where the Baltimore Orioles have played since 1992.
- This year’s MLB schedule is pushing the postseason deeper into autumn than we typically see. The result of the harsher weather conditions should be lower scores. The only game played October 30 or later that ever featured double-digit run-scoring by either team was Game 6 of the 2001 World Series, when the Arizona Diamondbacks erupted for 15. Of course, that exception to the rule was played in the climate-controlled confines of Chase Field.
What to Watch for
- Yordano Ventura’s season was interrupted by a midsummer demotion to the minor leagues. He rediscovered success upon returning to the rotation, thanks to a lowered arm slot and greater emphasis on throwing his curveball, per Brooks Baseball. Conveniently for him, the curve happens to be the pitch that caused the Mets the most trouble in the second half. It could be another rough night for their offense if Ventura commands it in Game 3.
- Alterations to the outfield dimensions at Citi Field have led to more long balls, while also shrinking the real estate that outfielders need to cover. Whereas Kauffman Stadium’s vast grass makes it a contact hitter’s paradise (6th in MLB for batting average this season, 5th for doubles, 5th for triples), this venue doesn’t reward that approach (29th, 21st, 24th, respectively). That puts pressure on both lineups to make the most out of mistake pitches by sending them to the bleachers.
With the first two games of the 2015 World Series in the books, here are some interesting facts from those contests:
- Alcides Escobar hit first inside-the-park home run in the World Series in 86 years. It was on a first pitch to lead off the first inning. So, how many others have smacked a lead-off first-pitch inside-the-park home run, including the regular season? There’s only one other such event in recorded history, since 1938; Tim Raines did it against the Padres’ Chris Welsh on May 7th, 1981.
- The game lasted 14 innings, tying the longest record for a World Series game, along with game 2 of the 1916 series and game 3 of the 2005 series. First of which featured another first inning inside-the-park 4-bagger, though not leading off, hit by Hi Myers off of Babe Ruth, who tossed all 14 innings for a complete game win.
- The Royals’ pitching struck out a combined fifteen Mets hitters. This is tied for the second-most single game mark in World Series history, behind only when Bob Gibson famously punched out seventeen Tigers in game one of the 1968 series.
- Matt Harvey struck out an uncharacteristic two in six innings, tied for the fewest single-game mark in his career (June 10th, 2015) .
- Wilmer Flores became the first player to reach on an error while bringing in the go-ahead run in the 8th inning or later of a World Series game since… when Mookie Wilson made Vin Scully yell “Behind the bag!” I kid you not.
- Alex Gordon’s game-tying home run was the first to put team on top or tie a game in the 9th inning or later in the World Series since David Freese’s walk-off blast in 2011 game 6, exactly four years preceding this game.
- Johnny Cueto set many records with his outstanding two-hit complete game victory. To mention a few…
- The Dominican right-hander became the first pitcher in twenty years to toss a two-hitter (or better) in the World Series, since Greg Maddux in 1995 game 1.
- He also joined Roger Clemens in 2000 as the only pitchers to threw more than one eight-plus IP, two or fewer hits outings in a single postseason.
- Like his colleague Harvey in game 1, Jacob deGrom struck out just two Royals, and that was the fewest single-game record in his big league career, along with 3 other outings.
- Daniel Murphy has cooled off a bit. Not only has he gone homerless in first 2 games of the World Series, but he’s also struck out twice in each of them. Murphy has had one other multi-K streak in his entire career, spanning over three games from July 2nd to 5th, 2014.