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Circle of Greats: 1934 Part 2 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 45th round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG).  This round completes the group of players born in 1934.  Rules and lists are after the jump.

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Henry Aaron won the voting this round by a significant margin, despite competing against several other great stars. Sort of the way he took over the career home run title with his steadily great performance from the 1950s through the 1970s, passing by other renowned stars of his era.  Hank becomes the 44th player inducted into the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats.  More on Aaron and the voting after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

Toughest Pitchers to Score Against Since 1961

Earned Run Average (ERA) is, of course, the standard measuring stick of pitcher effectiveness, based on the inescapable logic that the pitcher’s ONLY job is to prevent runs from scoring (while the more elemental Runs Allowed Average would presumably be the metric that most closely correlates to run prevention, in the interests of being “fair” to pitchers and not judging them based, in part, on the errors made by their defense, I will defer to convention and concede that ERA is THE “go to” measurement).

But, how does a pitcher compile a low ERA? Firstly, of course, by limiting the runners who reach base and, then, limiting the baserunners who score. This post will break down those two attributes of pitcher skill and look at the pitchers of the past 5 decades plus who have been most proficient in each.

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Slide, Billy, Slide! … but above all, HIT!

Buster Olney musing about Billy Hamilton‘s upcoming rookie year:

… given his incredible prowess on the bases, it may not be necessary for Hamilton to produce within the standard models for leadoff hitters. If Hamilton has a .300 on-base percentage, for example — and that may be what the Reds could reasonably expect in Hamilton’s first year in the big leagues — he could still score a whole lot of runs because his singles and walks tend to lead to him standing on second or third base shortly thereafter.

A whole lot of runs, with a .300 OBP — really? The Reds averaged 4.3 R/G last year, and they’ll be lucky to match that after losing their second-best hitter, Shin-Soo Choo. Is there a precedent for what Buster suggests?

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Schreck as in heck (of a pitching staff)

No, not that Shrek. This one is catcher Ossee Schrecongost (I ran into Ossee in my last quiz, by dint of his 3 qualifying seasons with matching HR and triples: one with deuces; and two with singletons). Ossee played around the turn of the 20th century (and happily also went by the shorter “Schreck”). As I scrolled down his player page, I was struck by this:

Def. Games as C s c a p y
1901 AL  72 (5th)
1902 AL  71 (5th)
1903 AL  77 (2nd)
1904 AL  84 (4th)
1905 AL  114 (1st)
1906 AL  89 (3rd)
1907 AL  99 (4th)

      Putouts as C s c a p y
1902 AL  367 (1st)
1903 AL  514 (1st)
1904 AL  589 (1st) 
1905 AL  790 (1st) 
1906 AL  532 (1st) 
1907 AL  640 (1st) 

So, six straight seasons leading AL catchers in putouts (i.e. mostly catching his pitchers’ strikeouts) despite ranking mostly in the middle of the pack in games caught (excepting his one season leading the AL, Schreck played between 16 and 29 games fewer than the catcher placing first in games caught).

More on strikeout-dominant pitching staffs after the jump.

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Circle of Greats: 1934 Part 1 Balloting

This post is for voting and discussion in the 44th round of balloting for the Circle of Greats (COG).  This round begins to add those players born in 1934.  Rules and lists are after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

COG 1935 Results: Voters Choose To Be Perfectly Frank (almost)

Frank Robinson faced powerful competition from two fellow-newcomers to the ballot with strong historical reputations, Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax.  But Robinson received heavy support from voters and led pretty much throughout the balloting.  He appeared on 58 ballots, the most since Rickey Henderson received 60 votes thirty-one rounds ago.  Frank becomes the 43rd player inducted into the High Heat Stats Circle of Greats.   More on Robinson and the voting after the jump. Read the rest of this entry

Yankees Wrap Up Pricey Offseason By Adding Masahiro Tanaka

After a tedious month filled with plenty of patience and very little news, Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka finally broke the freeze, signing a 7 year/$155 million dollar deal with the New York Yankees. If you’ve been paying any attention at all this offseason, the Tanaka signing should come as no surprise. That much discussed luxury tax number, $189 million, they Yankees were hoping avoid was always a pipe dream and after the big money signings of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran, New York almost had to sign Tanaka to upgrade what appeared to be a league average pitching staff. Read the rest of this entry

How Trammaker Missed the Hall, and assorted thoughts

Wrapping up my mini-series on Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker with a look at how timing hurt their Hall of Fame chances, and a bunch of other stuff. Throughout this post, all seasons are projected to 162 games unless noted.

Timing hurt their HOF chances in many ways, but I’ll detail two major factors:

  • Offense soared just as they were on their way out. Comparing Trammaker’s 1978-93 prime to the next 16 years, AL scoring rose by 12%.
  • More great middle infielders played during Trammaker’s time than any other in MLB history, including three of the seven best (Joe Morgan, Cal Ripken and Alex Rodriguez).

There’s a third factor whose effect I can’t gauge, so let’s start with the certainties.

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Now Playing At Third Base: Nobody

One thing that the Yankees will not experience as a result of of Alex Rodriguez’s suspension for the full 2014 season: a dramatic drop in A-Rod’s games played at third base as compared to 2013.  Alex only played in 27 games at third last season.  Indeed, the guy who played the most games at third for the Yanks this past season was Jayson Nix, who himself appeared at third in only 41 games for the Yankees (Nix recently agreed on a minor league deal with Tampa for 2014).

It is extremely rare for a major league team to go a full season with no one player playing at least 42 games for them at third base. Before the 2013 Yankees, only five other teams have done that since 1901.  After the jump, a look at those teams. Read the rest of this entry

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