Saturday, January 22, 2005
Bill Bean Released By Angels
That's not Billy Beane, who is now the A's GM, although you could be forgiven for mixing them up. Bill Bean ended his career with a line of .226/.266/.308 over the course of 478 at-bats, while Billy Beane ended his career with a line .219/.246/.296 over the course of 301 at-bats. Had each of their lives ended the same day as their playing career, the best hope for immorality would have been being selected to be the picture next to Fifth Outfielder if that term ever made it to the OED. Instead, both are now recognizable in the baseball world, and outside of it. Billy Beane's sucess as general manager of the
Friday, January 21, 2005
Stan Musial Elected to Hall of Fame
Continuing the theme from yesterday of underappreciated figures in baseball history, we come to Stan Musial. Stan Musial, is without question, the most criminally overlooked and underappreciated player in all of baseball history. That sounds like hyperbole, but really, its not. Musial is one of the best players of all-time, a member of the quartet of all-time great left fielders (along with Williams,
Rose, of course, ended his career with the most hits ever: 4,256 a record unlikely to be topped. Musial finished with 3,630 or 626 less than Rose. That is Rose's advantage. Musial's advantage is nearly everything else. Although Musial has fewer hits than Rose, he sports a higher career batting average .331 (that's 30th all-time) to Rose's .303, an advantage of twenty-eight points. Musial also got on base 42% more often for his career than did Rose, and still holds the 22nd best on-base percentage of all-time.
To truly see the difference between Rose and Musial however, a slightly more advanced metric is needed. OPS is a measure of on-base percentage (how often one gets on base) and slugging percentage (what kind of power one has) added together. OPS+ is a measure of OPS adjusted for the league average. Thus, posting an OPS+ of 125 means a player had an OPS 25% better than the league average. This allows relatively easy comparison of players across different eras. The version I use is also adjusted for park. Musial led his league in OPS+ six times. For his whole career, up to age 42, Musial never once had a season where he was below league average. In contrast, Rose never led his league in OPS+, and finished in the top ten just three times. His career OPS+ is just 118 and he was below league average seven times. Perhaps the most striking statistic is this: In Rose's best season he posted an OPS+ of 158. Over the course of his career, Stan Musial posted an OPS+ of 159. Musial's average season was better than Rose's best.
This is not just to dump on Pete Rose (if I was going to dump on Pete Rose, I wouldn't start with his playing career anyway) but to demonstrate the greatness of Stan Musial. Despite the offensive explosion of the 1990s, Musial is still in the top ten all-time in runs, hits, total bases, doubles, RBIs, extra base hits and times on base. He won more than 93% of the vote when he was elected (on the first ballot) to the Hall of Fame, is a three time MVP and a twenty-four time All-Star. Long retired and a relatively modest figure, Musial is unlikely to be "discovered" and declared brilliant. But he deserves far, far more credit than he receives.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Curt Flood Dies
Curt Flood too often ends up a footnote in baseball history, the man who "failed" in challenging the reserve clause where Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally succeeded. This is a great shame, as Flood deserves far better. A lifetime .293 hitter, Flood was also widely regarded as an exceptional center fielder, winning seven Gold Gloves. Following the 1969 season, Flood was traded (along with others) to
Flood sent a letter to Commissioner Bowie Kuhn asking Kuhn to declare him a free agent. When Kuhn (predictably) declined, Flood flied suit. The suit alleged baseball's Reserve Clause (which bound a player to a team until he was traded or released) was unconstitutional. Flood's action marked the effective end of his career, although the suit would not be resolved until the Supreme Court ruled against him in Flood v. Kuhn in 1972, Flood sacrificed his $100,000 salary for 1970 and would play just 13 games after 1969. Flood spent much of the rest of his life (when he died was just fifty-nine) in
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Marty Bergen Dies
You could also make a movie out of the life of Marty Bergen, but it would lack the uplifting sprit of The Rookie.
On the morning of January 19th, their fears were horrifyingly confirmed.
Jim Morris Born
Wow! Drafted in the early 80s, out of baseball for years then makes a remarkable comeback inspired by the play of the high school baseball team he coaches. You could make a movie out of a story like that!
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Dizzy Dean Predicts St. Louis Cardinals will win pennant
Dean--who incidentally was born on January 16th--actually went even farther than a pennant prediction. He predicted he would win 20 to 25 games and that his brother Paul would win 18 to 20. Dizzy was two out of three, the Cardinals did win the pennant (and the World Series, over Detroit in seven games with Dizzy throwing a shut out in Game 7) and Paul Dean won 19 games. Dizzy was either conservative or modest, he won 30 games, rather than the 20-25 he predicted for himself. Despite the passing of more than seventy years, Dean's 30-7 record remains the last thirty game winner in the National League (the last in MLB belongs to Denny McLain in 1968).
Dean was something of an outspoken figure; his pennant prediction is not out of line with the rest of quotable career. Dean is thought to have been the man who coined the phrase "It ain't bragging if you can back it up" and also noted that "anybody who's ever had the privilege of seeing me play knows that I am the greatest pitcher in the world." Dean's career ended relatively suddenly, while pitching in the 1937 All-Star Game, Earl Averill lined a ball off Dean's foot. The ball broke Dean's toe, and in compensating for the injury, Dean hurt his arm. After averaging 287 IP the first six seasons of his career, Dean would throw just 230 in the last five, including four innings in a 1947 "comeback" with the St. Louis Browns.
January 18th, 1964
Brady Anderson Born
Brady Anderson is remembered for two things: His distinctive sideburns and his fantastically fluky 1996 season.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Jermaine Dye Re-Signs with Oakland A's
Dye had been acquired in a three-team trade with
The trade initially paid off in spades with the A's as Dye hit almost .300 the rest of the season and helped the A's take a 2-0 lead against the Yankees in the ALDS. The A's would drop Game 3 at home (which featured the now famous "Jeter Flip" to retire a non-sliding Jeremy Giambi) and in Game 4 with the Yankees already leading 4-0 and momentum seemingly have shifted, Dye fouled an Orlando Hernandez pitch off his leg. The impact shattered Dye's left tibia and knocked him out for the rest of
Despite the injury, Billy Beane signed Dye to a three year extension worth more than thirty million over the life of the deal. The deal represented one of only two truly large missteps by Beane during his tenure as A's GM (the other being the signing of Arthur Rhodes as the team's closer for the 2004 season). Dye represented over 20% of the Oakland payroll for the three years of his contract, yet played in less than 70% of their games over that span, including a pitiful 2003 where he failed to lift his average over .200, played in just sixty-five games, and had to be pinch-hit for in the ninth inning of Game 5 against Boston.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Steve Balboni Born
If Steve Balboni could do nothing else, he could hit the long ball. Unfortunately for Steve, he could do nothing else. He couldn’t hit for average (lifetime .229) couldn’t draw a walk (lifetime on-base percentage of .293), couldn’t steal a base (lifetime three attempts, one sucess), couldn’t play anywhere but first (lifetime 630 games at 1B, 0 elsewhere) and couldn’t even play first that well (lifetime .989 fielding percentage). Steve played parts of eleventh majors seasons however, because he hit home runs at a pace comparable to Aaron and Mays. There’s something reassuring—almost inspirational—in his success, knowing that a man with just one skill can spend eleven years at the highest level of his profession.