Friday, March 17, 2006

March 17th, 461

St. Patrick Dies

I haven't gone back and checked, but I'm pretty sure that's the earliest year I've ever had in a title here. The exact date is probably a bit apocryphal but never mind; it has led to to the annual celebration that bears St. Patrick's name, most prominently celebrated with parades and, of course, green rivers.

The obvious blog to do on this day would be a list of the greatest Irish (and Irish-American) ballplayers. The Irish have played a huge part in baseball history, especially in the early part of the century. But I'll save that for another day. Instead, in honor of their namesake, I'm going to do the all-Pat/Patrick team.

C: Pat Borders (1980-2005): That could be 1988 to present, Borders has surprised many by making it into the Majors the last couple of years; he was even in the playoffs for the Twins in 2004. Borders is most famous, of course, for his performance in the 1992 World Series when he hit .450 and was voted MVP. That aside, Borders in his prime was a competent hitter with a fine reputation as a defensive catcher, allowing just seventy-three passed balls in over a thousand career games at catcher.

Pat Tabler (1981-92): A career .282 hitter with a career .345 on-base percentage, Tabler could always be counted on to reach base, but not so much in the power department; he finished with a career slugging percentage of just .379. Tabler was something of a jack-of-all-trades, also seeing significant time at third base and the outfield, in addition to limited time at second base early in his career.

Pat Kelly (1991-99): As you'll soon discover, Patrick has produced a fair amount of batteries but surprisingly few infielders; the low quality of Pat infielders is just shocking. This is one of three Pat Kelly's in baseball history. I remember his first Major League hit--he came up as a Yankee--was a double. That's funny besides Kelly generally didn't have much in the way of power. Or patience. He lasted nine years as utility man and quality bunter, however, so I guess you have to give him that.

Pat Moran (1901-14): Also the team's manager (see below) Moran only played forty-three games at third base but --astoundingly--that's one of the highest numbers for a Pat. A career 78 OPS+ hitter, Moran was nothing special, but represents a notable upgrade on alternates for the position.

SS: Pat Meares (1993-2001): Rather at the bottom of the barrel here, Meares beats out fellow underwhelming mid-90s middle-infielder Pat Listach. I've written rather extensively on Meares in that entry so I won't do too much here.

Pat Burrell (2000-Present): "Pat the Bat" may yet prove to be the best Patrick of all time if he can maintain his 2005 form that saw him hit thirty-two home runs and even more so if he can find his 2002 form when he was eighth in the league in total bases. Chances are he'd hit third or fourth for this team.

Pat Mullin (1940-41, 1946-53): As you can probably tell by the years of his career, Mullin missed time on account of the Second World War, missing his age twenty-four through twenty-seven seasons. Mullin played center early his in his career but not much thereafter so this might be a bit of a stretch but this team will need all of the offense it can get so Mullin, a decent power hitter gets the spot.

Pat Kelly (1967-81): Another of the the three Pat Kellys in history, this is the best one. Like Tabler, Pat Kelly could get on base but lacked the power usually associated with the position he played, never hitting more than eleven home runs. That said, in a relatively low power era (the league average slugging for Kelly's career was .381) he was an acceptable ballplayer, finishing with a 107 OPS+ in more than five thousand plate appearances.

Pat Hentgen (1991-2004): The only Pat to have won a Cy Young award (1996: 20-10, 3.22) Hentgen finished his career with a 131-112 record and a 109 ERA+. Like Andy Pettitte, his man competition for the '96 Cy Young. Hentgen relied heavily on a cut fastball for his success. I've written a bit about Hentgen before.

Chad Cordero (2003-Present): Ok, so this one is cheating a bit. But if Major League Baseball can put Mike Piazza on Team Italy and Mark Mulder on Team Netherlands, then I can put Chad Patrick Cordero on my all-Patrick team. Cordero, known as "The Chief," was the dominant end of the Nationals' bullpen in 2005 and while he may be hard pressed to repeat the quality of 2005, he figures to be an effective closer for some time to come.

Pat Moran (1915-23): Moran is both the all-time winningest Pat manager and the one with the highest winning percetange. In his first season he led the Phillies to ninety wins and the World Series where they lost to the Red Sox. The Phils finished second in 1916 and 1917 but after a drop to sixth in 1918 Moran was fired. He was picked up by the Reds in 1919 and guided them to the World Series and of course, a highly controversial win over the "Black Sox." The Reds showed a little more patience with Moran, tolerating third and sixth place finishes and were rewarded with a second place showing in both 1922 and '23. Moran died in early March of 1924, ending with a career record of 748-586, good for a .561 winning percentage, fifteenth all-time.

So how would team-Patrick do? Well, let's just say that if they're going to win many games, they'll need a lot of that Luck of the Irish.

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