Larry Walker Hall of Fame

Larry Walker by the numbers

One of the most complete baseball players of this generation, Larry Walker could do anything on a baseball field. He hit for average, winning the batting title three times. He hit for power with over 380 home runs. He was an outstanding fielder with seven Gold Glove Awards. He could even run the bases with 230 steals to his name.

Yet somehow, he has come up short on the Hall of Fame Ballot for seven straight years. Last year, Walker received just 21.9 percent of the vote, which is not very close to the 75 percent mark. Some may hate on the fact that his career was cut short due to injuries, or even the fact that his best years were played in Colorado, the most favorable hitting park in the MLB. But when it comes down to the numbers, Larry Walker is a Hall of Famer.

The Come-up

As a kid growing up in Canada, Larry Walker liked to play hockey more than he did baseball. Walker dreamed of becoming an NHL goalie and would always practice with his pal, Cam Neely. Some NHL fans may have heard of him. Since his high school did not have a baseball team, Walker would only play a few baseball games in the summer.

Larry Walker Hall of Fame

(Photo from The Trading Card Database)

At 16, Walker tried out for two Junior A hockey teams, but was cut from both. From this point on, baseball became his main focus. In fact, Walker can be credited for dramatically increasing the popularity of baseball in Canada. The shorter summers in Canada made it hard for Walker to get the experience he needed, but he clearly made it work.

Walker made this statement in an interview according to Society of American Baseball Research (SABR).

“I’d never seen a forkball, never seen a slider. I didn’t know they existed. I had never really seen a good curveball. In Canada, as a kid, we’d play 10 baseball games a year. 15 tops. Some pitchers had a thing they’d call a spinner, but nothing like this. Baseball just wasn’t big. The weather was against it. Nobody ever played baseball thinking about making the major leagues.”

Walker also was unfamiliar with a lot of the rules in baseball, further showing his lack of experience.

Although Walker went undrafted (Canadians were not yet eligible to be selected in the MLB draft), Montreal Expos scouting director, Jim Fanning, saw potential in him at 18 years old when Larry was playing for the Canadian team in the World Youth Championships in Saskatchewan. Fanning was in awe when Walker hit a home run with a wooden bat, mainly because all of the others players were using aluminum bats. He was signed as an amateur free agent to a contract worth $1,500, which is $3,457.9 in USD today.

Pro Ball

In his first spring training, Walker showed right away that he was not used to the pitching. He was looking for a fastball every time and would swing at basically anything. In the New York-Penn League, an independent league team made up of rookie league prospects who got cut, Walker hit .223 with two home runs in 62 games.

After this disastrous season, Walker was sent to the Florida Instructional League to develop his game. A tough, hardworking kid, Walker wound up becoming a top prospect in the Expos’ system. As a 19-year-old in A ball, Walker hit .288, with 33 home runs. The following season, in AA, he hit .287 with 26 home runs and stole 24 bases. He struck out over 120 times in both seasons, which wound up being something Walker never did in his 17-year MLB career.

After missing the 1988 season due to reconstructive knee surgery, Walker was sent to AAA, and it was clear he was ready for the show. For a kid who barely played baseball growing up, Walker ended up alright, hitting 380 home runs and making around $110,466,931 in the big leagues.

Numbers never lie

Larry Walker Hall of Fame

(Photo from SI)

Walker played for the Expos, Rockies and Cardinals. As an Expo, he had two seasons in which he finished in the top 15 in MVP voting. In 1994, during the strike season, Walker hit .322 with 19 home runs, a league-high 44 doubles, 86 RBIs and stole 15 bases in just 103 games. Had the season not been cut short, Walker was on pace to hit around 30 home runs, 69 doubles, 24 steals and 135 RBIs. In his six seasons in Montreal, Walker made one All-Star team and won two Gold Glove Awards and a Silver Slugger Award.

His best seasons were, by far, as a member of the Colorado Rockies. He made four of his five All-Star teams as a Rockie and was named the NL MVP in 1997. Among position players in 1997, Walker was clearly the best player in the league. He led the league in WAR at 9.8, and his stats were outlandish. In 153 games, Walker hit 49 home runs and batted .366 with a .452 OBP, a .720 SLG and a 1.172 OPS. He led the league in all of those categories except batting average, finishing second behind Tony Gwynn, who hit .372.

Players to have a season of BA>=.365, HR>=49, OBP>=.450 and SLG>=.710 YEAR(S)
BABE RUTH 1920, 1921
LARRY WALKER 1997

 

Players who had seasons of: BA>=.350, HR>=35, OBP>=.420 and SLG>=.600

PLAYER NO. OF SEASONS
BABE RUTH 8
LOU GEHRIG 5
LARRY WALKER 3
TED WILLIAMS 3
JIMMIE FOXX 3
ROGERS HORBSY 3
ALBERT PUJOLS 2
BARRY BONDS 2

Even in his later years as a member of the St Louis Cardinals for his 37 and 38-year-old seasons, Walker continued to find success. In 144 games with the Cardinals, Walker hit .286 with 26 home runs. In 2004, in his only World Series appearance, Walker hit .357 with two home runs and three RBIs.

 

Seasons in the Top 10 by Statistic

STAT NO. OF TOP-10 APPEARANCES
WAR 3 (1ST in 1997)
Batting Average 6 (1ST in 1998, 1999, 2001)
OBP 6 (1ST in 1997, 1999)
SLG 8 (1ST in 1997,1998)
HR 5 (1ST in 1997)
OBPS 8 (1ST in 1997, 1999)

Here are two tables to illustrate how amazing this guy was.

PLAYERS WHO, FOR THEIR CAREERS, HAD: BA>=.310, HR>=380, OBP>=.400 and 2B>=470
BABE RUTH
MANNY RAMIREZ
LARRY WALKER
TED WILLIAMS
LOU GEHRIG
STAN MUSIAL

 

PLAYERS WHO, FOR THEIR CAREERS, HAD: TB>=3900, OPS>=.965 and SLG>=.560
BARRY BONDS
BABE RUTH
MANNY RAMIREZ
JIMMIE FOXX
TED WILLIAMS
LOU GEHRIG
LARRY WALKER
JOE DIMAGGIO
ROGERS HORNSBY

 

Featured image by SI.com

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New York Yankees all-time roster

New York Yankees all time roster

The New York Yankees have set the mark in baseball that looks as if it will never be matched. The Yankees have 27 World Series titles while the next most has just 12. With those championships comes a great deal of extraordinary talent.

For the purposes of this list, players will only be designated to the positions they play. Outfielders can only be used in the outfield, while the designated hitter spot can only be taken by someone who played designated hitter for the majority of their time with the Yankees.

With that said, lets take a look at who their ideal roster with all these legends would be. Keep in mind that the accolades mentioned for these players are only applicable to their time with the Yankees. The dates next to their name is their time with New York, not just their time in the majors.

Catcher: Yogi Berra (1946-1963)

18x All-Star, 13x World Series Champion, 3x AL MVP

The Yankees have several legendary catchers. From Bill Dickey, Jorge Posada and Thurman Munson, the Yankees have had an excellent catching core. However, there is no doubt that the best catcher in Yankees history is Yogi Berra.

Berra is known for his quick wit and powerful bat. What some people may not know either is that Yogi Berra has won more World Series than any other team in baseball other than the Yankees. He is not only a great catcher in terms of his ability, but a great face to put on the franchise. Berra was entertaining on and off the field, and is one of the greatest ballplayers to ever play the game.

First Base: Lou Gehrig (1923-1939)

New York Yankees all-time roster

Lou Gehrig is a legend of his own alongside his teammate, Babe Ruth (NBC Connecticut)

7x All-Star, 6x World Series Champion, 2x AL MVP, Triple Crown (1934)

The Iron Horse was perhaps the best part of the historic 1927 Yankees. He also gave one of the most iconic speeches of the 20th century. He stated he was the “luckiest man on the face of the earth” during his retirement speech due to what is now called Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Gehrig may be one of the best hitters to ever play the game, as his career .340 batting average along with 493 home runs proves that.

Second Base: Robinson Cano (2005-2013)

5x All-Star, 1x World Series Champion, 5x Silver Slugger, 2x Gold Glove Award

Cano is one of the best power hitting second basemen of the 21st century. He has had sustained success and landed one of the largest contracts ever with the Seattle Mariners.

Cano was a perennial MVP candidate with the Yankees, finishing in the top six in voting for four seasons in a row. He has remained healthy through the years and can hit for power with the best of them for middle infielders. Don’t be mistaken, he can also flash some leather. He may not have as many World Series titles as other people on this list, but he fits right in with them.

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez (2004-2016)

7x All-Star, 1x World Series Champion, 2x AL MVP

Here we go. Perhaps one of the most controversial figures in baseball history. Rodriguez’s career is plagued by performance enhancing drugs and a negative reputation. For the purposes of this list though, we will leave the controversies in the rear view mirror.

Rodriguez signed the largest contract in sports history with the Yankees in 2004. His best year was in 2007 when he hit 54 home runs and a staggering 156 RBIs. He hit at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in the first seven years of his Yankees career. Despite all the hate that is steered his way, he had one of the greatest careers on the field in baseball history.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter (1995-2014)

New York Yankees all-time roster

Not many would debate Derek Jeter being the face of the Yankees success in the 21st century (MLB)

14x All-Star, 5x World Series Champion, 5x Gold Glove, 5x Silver Slugger, AL Rookie of the Year (1996)

What else is there to say? The Captain fits right in there with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as one of the best to put on the famed pinstripes. He is in the Yankees top ten list for batting average, runs, total bases, doubles, home runs, RBIs, walks and extra-base hits.

Surprisingly enough, Jeter is the only Yankee to reach 3,000 hits while in a Yankees uniform. Phil Rizzuto won more titles in New York, but Jeter was a key cog in the 1990s and early 2000s powerhouse in the Bronx. The future Hall of Famer will go down as the greatest shortstop of all time.

Left field: Mickey Mantle (1951-1968)

20x All-Star, 7x World Champion, 3x AL MVP, Triple Crown (1956)

Mickey Mantle played his career in center field. However, it is too difficult to leave him out of the starting lineup. Mantle and DiMaggio are right on par and their careers coincided with each other, so the center field spot was taken care of by hall of famers for over 30 years.

Mantle holds the record for most home runs in the World Series with 18 over his career. His triple crown year in 1956 is also one of the greatest seasons in Yankees history.

Center Field: Joe DiMaggio (1936-1942, 1946-1951)

13x All-Star, 9x World Series Champion, 3x AL MVP, Record 56 game hitting streak

All of DiMaggio’s stats have to be taken with a grain of salt. Not because he cheated or anything, but because they are lower than what they could because of World War II.

It cannot be stated enough how incredible DiMaggio and Mantle were in center. You cannot go wrong with either guy, but someone has to have the upper hand. If it was not for the war, DiMaggio may have the clear path to deserving the center field spot of Mantle. However, even with the time off, he proves his position with his nine World Series titles and his unbreakable 56 game hitting streak.

During that famed summer of 1941, DiMaggio set what may be the most unbreakable record in baseball with that 56 game hit streak. No player has come within 10 games of that hit streak since he set it. With this day in baseball too, it is unlikely that it will be reached again.

Right Field: Babe Ruth (1920-1934)

New York Yankees all-time roster

Babe Ruth may be the best to ever play the game (Fameology)

7x World Series Champion, AL MVP, AL Batting Champion (1924), AL ERA Leader (1916)

The Great Bambino, the Sultan of Swat, the Behemoth of Bust. Babe Ruth is widely considered to be the greatest to ever play the game due to the fact he could pitch and hit with the best. He was the first player to really introduce home runs to baseball at all as well. He brought the game out of the dead ball era and revolutionized the game of baseball all together.

Ruth is a big reason for who the Yankees are today. He is an immortal that would be found on the Mount Rushmore of baseball, and we will likely never see a player like him in our lifetimes.

Designated Hitter: Don Baylor (1983-1985)

2x Silver Slugger

There are plenty of guys that could fit into this designated hitter role who didn’t play the position. The designated hitter was not introduced until 1973, so the only people in this position are people who played a majority of their games at DH.

The late Don Baylor was only with the Yankees for three seasons, but he left his mark at DH during those three years. He provided some pop to the lineup but only eclipsed the .300 mark once.

As stated before, there are greater Yankees hitters of course. However, Don Baylor is the best to occupy the DH position.

Starting Pitcher: Whitey Ford (1950, 1953-1967)

10x All-Star, 6x World Series Champion, Cy Young (1961)

The Yankees have a staggering amount of Hall of Fame pitchers that could take the mound for them. However, Whitey Ford shines above them all. He leads the Yankees in several career stats such as wins, pitcher WAR, starts, strikeouts, and innings pitched.

He has the most experience as a pitcher in pinstripes, and was the best at it while doing it. Despite the fact that the Yankees have so many other pitchers that could top this list, Ford was an easy choice.

Closing Pitcher: Mariano Rivera (1995-2013)

13x All-Star, 5x World Series Champion, 5x Rolaids Relief Man of the Year, All time saves leader

Mariano Rivera is the greatest closing pitcher ever. The role wasn’t really established until the 70s and 80s, but since then there is no doubt he has been the best.

He had one of the best cutters the game has ever seen which was devastating for left handed hitters. Rivera was also one of the best pitchers to ever play in the postseason. He was the World Series MVP in 1999 and established himself as the go to guy at the end of games. He was also the last player ever to wear the number 42 as it was grandfathered in after baseball retired it for Jackie Robinson.

Everybody else on the roster

Starting Rotation: Andy Pettitte, Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, Ron Guidry

Relievers: Sparky Lyle, Goose Gossage, Dave Righetti, John Wetteland, David Robertson, Dellin Betances

Bench: Bill Dickey, Phil Rizzuto, Dave Winfield, Bernie Williams

 

Featured image from NY Daily News

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Top 10 MLB franchises of all time

Best baseball franchises of all time

Normally, this is the time of year when big-time moves are made. Free agents are signed, general managers are wheelin’ and dealin’ and there is a constant buzz around baseball.

This year? Not so much. The free agent market has been relatively stagnant, and trades are few and far between. So I’ve decided to actually put my history degree to use and list the top 10 baseball franchises of all time. Clubs will be ranked by World Series titles, Hall of Fame players and overall success. We will start at No. 10.

10. Detroit Tigers

Statistics: Five World Series titles, 9,235-8,979 record, nine Hall of Fame inductees

Top 10 MLB franchises of all timeAs one of the oldest teams in baseball, the Tigers have to find a way onto the list. They were a charter member of the American League and have been in Detroit since 1901.

But they don’t earn a spot on these rankings from their age alone. They have the 13th most Hall of Fame players in baseball, accumulating nine spots in Cooperstown. They also have four World Series titles to their credit, good for ninth most in baseball. But it’s the stories, myths and legends that help give this team an edge over the others.

As one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Ty Cobb was a menace in Detroit for 22 years. Stories of his aggressive demeanor are only overshadowed by his prowess on the field. He lead the American League in hitting nine years in a row and batted over .400 twice within that span. He also holds the all-time highest career batting average at .366. If that wasn’t enough, he was also an inaugural inductee into the Hall of Fame in 1936.

The Tigers never won a World Series with Cobb, but broke through in 1935 to give the city its first championship. They did it again in 1945, 1968 and 1984. Their 2012 trip to the World Series has been their most recent appearance.

The Tigers also have some greats to rely on in the 21st century, with Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera leading the way. Even in the midst of a rebuild, the Tigers can still lay claim to baseball royalty.

9. Chicago Cubs

Statistics: Three World Series titles, 10,803-10,258 record, 14 Hall of Fame inductees

Top 10 MLB franchises of all timeIf the Tigers are considered an aged franchise, the Cubs are ancient. You can trace their playing history all the way back to 1876, only 11 years after the end of the Civil War. They are a charter member of the National League, and assumed the Cubs name back in 1903.

As one of the best in baseball history, it’s not surprising to find that they hold multiple records. One of those is the modern-era single-season winning percentage of .763 in 1906 when they went 116-36. But the franchise’s history goes much deeper than the team level.

Perhaps one of the more overlooked Hall of Fame players for the Cubs is third baseman Ron Santo. Playing in the 1960s through mid-70s, he teamed with Ernie Banks to return hope to the Cubbie faithful. Even though the duo wasn’t able to bring a title home to Chicago, Santo still played at a high level. He was a nine-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner for the Cubs, providing stability at the hot corner.

One thing Santo couldn’t provide was a regular World Series contender, as the Cubs would have to wait until 2016 to earn their third title. With players like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester and a multitude of others, another World Series title in the near future is not out of the question.

8. Oakland Athletics

Statistics: Nine World Series titles, 8,834-9,322 record, five Hall of Fame inductees

Top 10 MLB franchises of all timeThe Athletics are another one of the old-guard franchises, joining the Tigers as an inaugural member of the American League in 1901. Unlike the Tigers, the Athletics have had multiple homes. After starting out in Philadelphia, the team moved to Kansas City in 1955 and then to Oakland in 1968.

They are also one of the few teams on this list with a losing record, posting a .487 win percentage. However, with so many World Series titles (third most in baseball history), they easily find themselves among the top ten teams all time.

One reason for their World Series dominance is Mr. October, Reggie Jackson. Before Jackson was shining under the bright lights in New York, he was blasting away at the bay. Jackson played 10 seasons for the Athletics, leading them to back-to-back-to-back titles in 1972, 1973 and 1974. He was also a more balanced player in Oakland, hitting 269 home runs and stealing 145 bases.

Just like many of Oakland’s stars, the Athletics weren’t able to retain him. This developed into a common theme for the A’s.

That is one reason why their win percentage is so low. The Athletics experienced multiple runs of success, winning five World Series titles from 1910-30, three in the 1970s and one in 1989. With the introduction of free agency, the small-market Athletics weren’t able to compete in the bidding wars their stars warranted.

Even so, the A’s have been one of the best franchises of all time, and could be on the verge of another dominant run with a loaded farm system and young major league club.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates

Statistics: Five World Series titles, 10,394-10,233 record, 13 Hall of Fame inductees

Top 10 MLB franchises of all timeAfter joining the National League in 1887, the Pirates took baseball by storm, representing the National League in the inaugural World Series in 1903. It wasn’t until 1909 that the steel city could boast its first World Series title though.

Led by players like Honus Wagner, the Pirates of the early 20th century dominated baseball. With pennants in 1901, 1902, 1903 and 1909, the Pirates established themselves as one of the dynasties of baseball.

They continued that legacy well into the 20th century, relying on one of the greatest Pirates of all time to guide the franchise. Roberto Clemente started for the Pirates at the ripe age of 20, but didn’t establish himself until he turned 25. In the following eight seasons, Clemente earned eight All-Star appearances, seven Gold Gloves and one AL MVP award. He also led the Pirates to two World Series titles, cementing himself as a legend in Pittsburgh.

His legend ended spreading far beyond Pittsburgh or baseball, as he was an avid humanitarian. That, coupled with his skills on the diamond, makes him one of the most beloved Hall of Fame players the Pirates have had. As such, a new generation looks to carry on the legend he left behind. Players like Gregory Polanco, Starlin Marte and a cast of young Pirates will look to right the ship and return to the franchises’ former glory days.

6. Cincinnati Reds

Statistics: Five World Series titles, 10,457-10,211 record, 10 Hall of Fame inductees

Top 10 MLB franchises of all timeAs one of the charter members of the American Association in 1881, the Reds have played ball in Cincinnati for 136 seasons. In that time, some of the greatest players and teams have called the queen city home.

Unlike the other ancients of baseball, the Reds did not have much early success. They boast one World Series title in the early 20th century, winning the fall classic in 1919. Even so, their dominance in the 1970s is the stuff of legends, as only one of the greatest teams of all time can be worthy of such a title as “the Red Machine.”

At the heart of the red machine was none other than Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench. He helped propel one of the most dominant teams of the modern era, and caught one of the better pitching staffs baseball has seen. He played his full 17-year career in Cincinnati. In that time, the Reds won back-to-back World Series titles in 1975 and 1976. With a rare blend of power and defensive skills, Bench became the standard bearer for elite catching. But a machine isn’t made up of just one member.

Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Dave Conception were all vital cogs in the big red machine and were integral parts to their two World Series titles in the 1970s. Now a new machine is being constructed in Cincinnati led by All-Star Joey Votto. With a young core and stacked farm system, the Reds will try to emulate the success of the 1970s.

5. San Francisco Giants

Statistics: Eight World Series titles, 11,015-9,513 record, five Hall of Fame inductees

Top 10 MLB franchises of all timeOne of the first things that catches your eye with the San Francisco Giants is their gaudy record. Since their inception in 1883, they have posted a .537 win percentage. That includes stints as the New York Gothams, New York Giants and San Francisco Giants. While fans may have more fond memories of New York than San Francisco (five World Series titles in New York, three in San Francisco), San Francisco does have much more recent memories to draw upon.

One of the most dominant and bizarre runs baseball has seen belongs to the San Francisco Giants. In 2010, 2012 and 2014 the Giants were able to bring San Francisco a World Series title. Led by one of the best pitcher-catcher combos in the game, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey were vital to the Giants prolonged success.

In his rookie season, Bumgarner pitched eight shutout innings against the Texas Rangers in the World Series. Posey was also solid as a rookie in the World Series, batting an even .300. Now both grizzled veterans, they look to bring San Francisco back to its former glory.

With a strong supporting cast, they may make another run yet. Joining Bumgarner and Posey at the core of the Giants roster is Brandon Crawford, Hunter Pence, Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. All in the prime of their respective careers, the Giants should definitely be feared. But it remains to be seen if they can make a return to their former glory atop the throne of baseball’s elite.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers

Statistics: Six World Series titles, 10,776-9,691 record, six Hall of Fame inductees

Top 10 MLB franchises of all timeAnother former New York team claims a spot on our rankings, as the Los Angeles Dodgers find themselves in baseball’s elite. After undergoing nine different name changes since their founding in 1884, the Dodgers moniker finally stuck in 1932. The team went on to win all six of its World Series titles as the Dodgers, bringing one home for Brooklyn in 1955, two years before their cross-country exodus. Even with five titles won in Los Angeles, Brooklyn will always be able to boast one of the greatest players of all time, Jackie Robinson.

Robinson broke onto the major league scene in 1947. As a 28-year-old rookie, Robinson won Rookie of the Year. He also added an MVP to his trophy case, bringing home the award in 1949.

Even as a six-time All-Star, MVP and World Series champion, Robinson’s biggest impact has come after his playing days. As one of the first African-Americans to play Major League Baseball, Robinson opened the door for thousands of African-Americans to follow in his footsteps. That distinction, coupled with his stellar career, made Robinson a slam dunk first-ballot Hall of Famer in 1962.

While the Dodgers haven’t won a World Series since 1988, they are not far off from earning another one. With a core of Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and others, the Dodgers are believed to be perennial World Series contenders. And with future Hall of Fame lefty Clayton Kershaw as the ace, the sky is the limit for these Los Angeles Dodgers. Look for their number of World Series titles and Hall of Fame players to increase in the coming seasons.

3. Boston Red Sox

Statistics: Eight World Series titles, 9,410-8,776 record, 12 Hall of Fame inductees

Top 10 MLB franchises of all timeNow we enter some rarefied air. The Boston Red Sox are one of the younger franchises on this list, debuting in 1901. Even so, they have made good use of their time. With a glut of World Series titles and Hall of Fame inductees, the Red Sox have put together a .517 win percentage. While part of that is due to their large market status that lets them spend freely in free agency, it’s also owed to some savvy drafting and player development.

One example of the Red Sox keen eye for talent is one of the best baseball players of all time, Ted Williams. Williams made his Red Sox debut at 20 years old, and led the American League in RBIs with 145. He hit .406 in 1941, while leading the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. Even with a three-year hiatus in the midst of his career to fight in World War II, Williams is easily a Hall of Famer. That was proven by his first-ballot induction in 1966.

With all of Ted Williams’ heroics, he could not bring Boston a World Series title. It took 86 years for Boston to be title town again in 2004. What has followed has been a successful run. With two more World Series titles in 2007 and 2013, it seems the curse had finally been lifted. It will be up to Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers and Chris Sale to continue to prove the curse broken.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

Statistics: 11 World Series titles, 10,739-9,918 record, 17 Hall of Fame inductees

Top 10 MLB franchises of all timeVery few teams have been as good as long as the St. Louis Cardinals have. Founded in 1882 and joining the National League in 1892, the Cardinals have been one of the most dominant teams in baseball.

In a span of 20 seasons (1926-46), the Cardinals amassed six World Series titles. Their 11 total World Series titles gives them the second most in baseball history. It hasn’t just been World Series titles that has made them great though, as the Cardinals have a slew of Hall of Famers.

Perhaps the greatest was Stan “The Man” Musial. Musial entered the league in 1941, and by 1943 was a perennial MVP candidate. He won the award three times in his illustrious career and brought St. Louis three World Series titles.

Perhaps his most amazing accomplishment was his 24 All-Star selections, garnered over a 22-year career. That career includes 475 home runs and a .331 batting average, making Musial one of the best of all time.

Cardinals greats aren’t limited to just Musial though. Players like Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright have helped carry on the Cardinal’s legacy. And with players like Matt Carpenter, Marcel Ozuna and Dexter Fowler joining them, the Cardinals are set to continue their run among baseball’s best.

1. New York Yankees

Statistics: 27 World Series titles, 10,175-7,719 record, 24 Hall of Fame inductees

Top 10 MLB franchises of all timeWas their ever any doubt who No. 1 would be? The New York Yankees aren’t just one of the best franchises in all of baseball. They are perhaps the best professional sports franchise in history. With 27 World Series titles, 53 playoff appearances and 40 pennants, it’s hard to argue against it. With such a dominant history, one would believe it would be difficult to sift through all of the greats to don the pinstripes. However, one stands out among the rest.

George Herman “Babe” Ruth was the man that built the New York Yankees dynasty. Ruth wouldn’t become a full-time hitter until his move from the Red Sox to the Yankees in 1925. Prior to the move, Ruth amassed 94 wins and a 2.24 ERA as a starting pitcher with the Red Sox.

But it was at the plate that Ruth made the biggest impact. He earned seven World Series titles with the Yankees, hitting 714 home runs and batting .341 in his career. When the Yankees moved to Yankee Stadium in 1923, it was nicknamed “The House that Ruth Built.” No other man has had such an impact on baseball history. A fitting distinction for a legendary franchise.

That’s not to say that others haven’t tried. In fact, the Yankees boast two of the best power hitters currently in baseball in Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Both have 50-homer power, and will be the driving force behind another great Yankees team.

The major league club also has a loaded farm system, something past Yankees teams haven’t had. With so much talent throughout the organization, the Yankees are primed for another dynastic run.

 

Feature image from Cool Old Photos.

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Manny Ramirez Hall of Fame

Manny Ramirez by the numbers

The year is 2004, a year Boston Red Sox fans will never forget.

In July, at the MLB All-Star Game, Boston Red Sox star Manny Ramirez hit a two-run home run off of Roger Clemens in the top of the first inning. By the end of the regular season, Ramirez was first in the AL in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. He finished third in RBIs, fourth in doubles and total bases, sixth in on-base percentage, eighth in walks and tenth in runs. Manny wound up finishing third in AL MVP voting.

Manny Ramirez Hall of Fame

2004 World Series MVP (Photo from MassLive.com)

A year after the infamous Aaron Boone walk-off home run sent Boston home for good, the Red Sox were back in the postseason. Eager to end the Curse of the Bambino, Boston came out with a bang in the ALDS. They swept the Anaheim Angels, and Ramirez hit .385 with seven RBIs in the three games. This win set up a rematch with the New York Yankees in the ALCS. We all know how that one went.

In the most unforgettable ALCS in baseball history, Ramirez hit .300 and had an OBP of .400. Boston was just four games away from breaking the 86-year-old curse and had to go up against the St. Louis Cardinals, who won 105 games in the regular season. Manny and the Red Sox were not fazed by St. Louis’ success and swept the Red Birds in four games. In the 2004 World Series, Ramirez hit .412 with four RBIs and an OBP of .500. He was named World Series MVP.

Ramirez finished his MLB career with 2,574 hits, 555 home runs, and a batting average of .312. He was a 12-time All-Star, two-time World Series Champion, nine-time Silver Slugger and even won the AL Batting Title in 2002. He is one of five retired players to be a member of the .300/500HR/5002B club, an elite list of players that includes Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

PLAYERS WHO HIT AT LEAST: .310, 550 HOME RUNS, 2,500 HITS, .410 OBP
BABE RUTH
MANNY RAMIREZ

Controversy

His career WAR of 69.2 ranks 106th all-time, ahead of Ivan Rodriguez, Tony Gwynn, Al Simmons, Tim Raines, Carlton Fisk, Eddie Murray and Ernie Banks to name a few. Arguably the best right-handed hitter the game has ever seen, Ramirez, because of multiple failed steroid tests, will most likely not be voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

If you can’t talk about the history of stars in baseball without mentioning Manny Ramirez, then he belongs in the Hall of Fame. With guys like Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell, three stars who already have been elected into the Hall of Fame despite possible steroid use, how could Ramirez not be a member? It would make sense if nobody from the steroid era was voted in, but they have already crossed the line. Ramirez put up numbers that we have only seen from Babe Ruth, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame if Piazza, Rodriguez and Bagwell are in.

Here is an excerpt from Jeff Pearlman’s book about Roger Clemens, The Rocket that Fell to Earth:

“There was nothing more obvious than Mike on steroids,” says another major league veteran who played against Piazza for years. “Everyone talked about it, everyone knew it. Guys on my team, guys on the Mets. A lot of us came up playing against Mike, so we knew what he looked like back in the day. Frankly, he sucked on the field. Just sucked. After his body changed, he was entirely different. ‘Power from nowhere,’ we called it.”  When asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, to grade the odds that Piazza had used performance enhancers, the player doesn’t pause.  “A 12,” he says. “Maybe a 13.”

In an interview with 60 Minutes, Jose “The Godfather of Steroids” Canseco, talks about his own experience with anabolic steroids and human growth hormones, as well as other players in the MLB:

“Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez,” says Canseco. “I injected them. Absolutely.”

Whether or not the BBWAA figures out how to properly vote or not, numbers never lie.

Manny being Manny

Manny Ramirez was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but moved to New York City at 13 years old. He went on to attend George Washington High School and was a star on their baseball team. In the 1991 MLB Draft, Ramirez was selected 13th overall by the Cleveland Indians. He went on to play for the Indians, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox.

Some of his best seasons came as a member of the Indians. In 1999, he became one of five players (first since 1938), to hit at least 44 home runs, 160 RBIs, .330 batting average and a .440 OBP. Joining Ramirez on this list is Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hack Wilson and Jimmie Foxx.

Manny Ramirez Hall of Fame

In 2008, Ramirez hit .396 in 53 games with the Dodgers (Photo from Zimbio.com)

In 2000, Ramirez became one of 10 players to have a season of at least a .350 batting average, 38 home runs, OPS of 1.150 and 85 walks. The nine others who accomplished this were Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, Hack Wilson, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams and Todd Helton.

In 2008, at 36 years-old, Ramirez was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-team deal. The Red Sox acquired Jason Bay and Josh Wilson, and the Pittsburgh Pirates received Andy LaRoche, Bryan Morris, Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss. In his 53 games as a Dodger in the 2008 season, Ramirez hit .396 with 17 home runs. His totals from that year were .332, 37 HR, 183 hits and a .430 OBP.

Ramirez joined Babe Ruth as the only players to bat at least .330 with 35 home runs, an OBP of .430, and 180 hits at age 36 or older. During the 2008 postseason, the Dodgers made it all the way to the NLCS before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. Ramirez, in the eight playoff games, hit .520, with four home runs and 10 RBIs. His .667 OBP in the 2008 postseason ranks fifth all-time, while his 1.080 SLG is 10th all-time.

For his career, Ramirez ranks fifth in postseason games played, and is arguably one of the best October players we have ever seen. He ranks first in home runs with 29, first in walks, second in RBIs and total bases, third in runs and hits and fifth in doubles.

Here are three more tables that show just how great this man was at hitting a baseball.

PLAYERS WHO HIT AT LEAST: .410 OBP, .580 SLG, 500 DOUBLES
BARRY BONDS
BABE RUTH
MANNY RAMIREZ
TED WILLIAMS
LOU GEHRIG

 

SEASONS WITH AT LEAST: .290 BATTING AVERAGE, 30 HR, .950 OPS

PLAYER NUMBER OF SEASONS
BARRY BONDS 13
BABE RUTH 13
MANNY RAMIREZ 12
JIMMIE FOXX 10
ALBERT PUJOLS 10
LOU GEHRIG 10
HANK AARON 9
WILLIE MAYS 9

 

SEASONS WITH AT LEAST: .320 BATTING AVERAGE, 30 HR, .425 OBP

PLAYER NUMBER OF SEASONS
BABE RUTH 11
JIMMIE FOXX 9
LOU GEHRIG 8
TED WILLIAMS 7
MANNY RAMIREZ 6
ALBERT PUJOLS 6
BARRY BONDS 5
STAN MUSIAL 5

Featured image by The Boston Globe

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“From our Haus to Yours”

Mike Trout Hall of Fame

Would Mike Trout make the Hall of Fame if he retired today?

What if?

Luckily for baseball fans around the world, the 26-year-old from Millville, New Jersey is not planning on hanging up the cleats anytime soon. However, the two-time AL MVP and six-time All-Star has been so elite that if he were to go buy a farm and ride out into the sunset, he would have a legit Hall of Fame case. Let’s take a quick stroll through the illustrious start to Mike Trout’s career.

With the 25th pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, the Angels, who received this compensation pick from the New York Yankees for their signing of Mark Teixeira, selected “The Millville Meteor.”

Here is a look at Trout’s scouting report on MLB.com.

Hitting ability: Trout is a good looking offensive player who just started switch-hitting, but not in games. He is doing it with wood in BP for scouts. He does need some work with his overall approach.

Power: He should have future average power and has shown some more pop this season.

Running speed: Has plus speed and glides on the bases once he gets going, though he’s also got first-step explosion.

Base running: Runs well and should steal some bases.

Arm strength: As a pitcher, he’s touched 90 mph from the mound, so there’s arm strength there, though it’s been hard to get a read on it from the outfield.

Fielding: Is a good center fielder defensively.

Range: His speed allows him to cover plenty of ground.

Physical description: Trout doesn’t look like your typical center fielder and has more of a college running back or safety type build.

Medical update: Healthy.

Strengths: Speed, athleticism, some ability and upside with the bat.

Weaknesses: Still a bit crude at the plate; some teams may not look at him and see him as an everyday Major League center fielder.

Summary: Trout is a toolsy high school center fielder who was gaining momentum as the weather in the Northeast warmed up. He looks more like a football safety — his position in high school — than a center fielder, but has the tools to play there with plus speed. He just started switch-hitting to enhance his offensive value, and with some changes to his approach at the plate should hit for some power down the line. There is some rawness with the bat, but he has the kind of upside many teams look for in a high school position player, and was moving into first-round conversations as a result.

The Beginning

Mike Trout Hall of Fame

2012 AL Rookie of the Year winner (Photo from Pinterest.com)

Let’s look back at Trout’s first year as a full-time starter. After struggling a tad in 40 MLB games during his 2011 campaign, Trout was forced to start 2012 with the Salt Lake Bees of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. The Angels pulled up Trout to take over for Bobby Abreu, who was hitting .208 at the time, and the rest is history.

Trout went on to have the highest rookie season WAR (10.8) in the history of baseball. He was the first position player since Barry Bonds in 2004 who had a WAR above 10.0.

Trout hit .326 with 30 home runs, stole 49 bases and led the league with 129 runs. This was all done in just 139 games. He joined Albert Pujols, Hal Trosky and Ted Williams as the only rookies to hit 30 or more home runs with a batting average better than .325. He was the youngest player to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Had Miguel Cabrera not have won the triple crown, Trout would have locked up MVP.

PLAYERS WITH A WAR OF 10.75 OR BETTER IN A SEASON

BABE RUTH

BARRY BONDS

WILLIE MAYS

ROGERS HORNSBY

MICKEY MANTLE

CAL RIPKEN

JOE MORGAN

CARL YASTRZEMSKI

STAN MUSIAL

TED WILLIAMS

MIKE TROUT

LOU GEHRIG

TY COBB

HONUS WAGNER

2013 was more of the same for Trout. After a slow start, hitting just .261 with two home runs in April, Trout finished at .323 with 27 home runs and 33 steals. Again, his 9.3 WAR was highest in baseball. Despite his outstanding season, Miguel Cabrera was named AL MVP for the second year in a row, while Trout was runner-up.

Two MVPs in three seasons

In 2014, Trout finally got over the hump and secured his first AL MVP trophy. He hit .287 with 36 home runs and led the league in runs and RBIs. In the following season, Trout hit .299 with 41 home runs and led the league in slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+. Trout has led in OPS+ for the last three seasons.

2016 was MVP season No. 2. Just another .315, 29 home runs, 123 runs and 116 walks. Oh, and last season, despite getting hurt and playing in just 114 games, Trout joined Barry Bonds (1993) as the only players to have a season with at least 33 home runs, 20 steals, slugging percentage of .629 and an OPS+ of 187.

Mike Trout Hall of Fame

MVP SZN (Photo from SB Nation)

Trout has five seasons of at least 7.9 WAR. That is tied with Wade Boggs, Joe Morgan, Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx and Mike Schmidt.  His six seasons of oWAR greater than 7 has him tied with Honus Wagner and ahead of Frank Thomas, Wade Boggs and Mel Ott to name a few. Trout is currently tied for eighth all-time in seasons with 10 WAR or better.

He is one of nine players to have multiple seasons of 10.45 WAR or higher. That list includes Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds, Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, Carl Yastrzemski and Rogers Hornsby. Trout is one of 25 players to win multiple MVPs.

“The Millville Meteor” already has five seasons of 27 doubles, 100 runs, .285 batting average and an OPS above 167. That is the same amount of seasons as Hank Aaron and Tris Speaker and more than Hank Greenberg, Mel Ott, Honus Wagner, Carl Yastrzemski and Frank Robinson. Along the way, he has also picked up two All-Star MVP Awards.

His 55.2 career WAR would rank 82nd out of 173 Hall of Fame position players. If he retired today, Trout would be one of eight players with at least a .305 batting average, .976 OPS, .566 SLG and .410 OBP. That list includes Babe Ruth, Manny Ramirez, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Hank Greenberg and Rogers Hornsby.

Here are four tables to exemplify how extraordinary this guy has been.

TROUT DATA

NUMBER OF SEASONS WITH BA>= .305, HR>= 25, SB>= 22, OPS+>= 168

PLAYER NUMBER OF SEASONS
MIKE TROUT 4
BARRY BONDS 4
WILLIE MAYS 2
ALEX RODRIGUEZ AND NINE OTHERS 1

 

NUMBER OF SEASONS WITH HR>=25, BA>=.285, OPS>=.935 and OPS+>=168

PLAYER NUMBER OF SEASONS
BABE RUTH 14
BARRY BONDS 13
TED WILLIAMS 11
LOU GEHRIG 10
ALBERT PUJOLS 7
MICKEY MANTLE 7
JIMMIE FOXX 7
MIKE TROUT 6
FRANK THOMAS 6
HANK AARON 6
WILLIE MAYS 6
MEL OTT 6
STAN MUSIAL 5
ROGERS HORNSBY 5

 

NUMBER OF SEASONS WITH HR>=25, SB>= 20, BA>= 300, BB>= 90

PLAYER NUMBER OF SEASONS
BARRY BONDS 5
MIKE TROUT 3
ALEX RODRIGUEZ 2
BOBBY ABREU 2
JEFF BAGWELL 2
CHIPPER JONES AND EIGHT OTHERS 1

 

PLAYERS WITH AT LEAST A .305 BA, 200 HOME RUNS, 165 STEALS AND .370 OBP
HANK AARON
VLADIMIR GUERRERO
LARRY WALKER
DEREK JETER
GOOSE GOSLIN
MIKE TROUT

Would you vote him in?

 

Featured image by SI.com

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“From our Haus to Yours”

Jim Thome

Jim Thome by the numbers

Along with Chipper Jones, the former Cleveland Indians star, Jim Thome, will most likely be voted in as a first ballot Hall of Famer in January. Thome, who played on six different teams during his 22-year career, is one of the greatest power hitters of all time. His 612 home runs are the eighth most all-time. Unlike the majority of sluggers during his time, Thome was never linked to PED use.

When God created Jim Thome, he constructed someone who comes across as a lumberjack, but hits mammoth home runs with a crazy uppercut swing. If you remember watching him get ready for a pitch, you would recall that he held his bat out with his right hand and would point it towards the outfield. When asked about this, Thome claimed that he acquired this approach from The Natural.

During his career, Thome led his league in home runs eight times. He had 12 seasons with at least 90 walks, which is good for fifth all-time behind Barry Bonds, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Thome also had 10 seasons with at least 25 home runs and a .400 on-base percentage, which is sixth all-time behind Bonds, Williams, Ruth, Gehrig and Mel Ott.

PLAYERS WITH AT LEAST 600 HR, 2,300 HITS, .400 OBP
BABE RUTH
BARRY BONDS
JIM THOME

 

Career

James Howard Thome grew up in Peoria, Illinois. As a high school athlete, Thome was all-state in basketball and as a shortstop in baseball.

To say he was born to be an athlete would be an understatement. Thome’s grandmother was hired at a Caterpillar plant merely to play for the company’s softball team. Thome’s dad played slow-pitch softball, and his aunt is a member of the Women’s Softball Hall of Fame. His two older brothers played baseball at the local high school. Apparently, Thome learned how to play baseball from his father on a tennis court.

Jim Thome

One of the best power hitters of all time (Photo from Cleveland.com)

Weighing only 175 pounds, at 6-foot-2, Thome got very little looks from MLB teams as a high schooler. In 1988, he enrolled at Illinois Central College, where he played both baseball and basketball. After just one season, Thome was drafted in the 13th round in the 1989 MLB June Amateur Draft. Clearly, he was heavily slept on.

Thome started out as a third baseman before converting to first. In his first minor-league season, he managed to hit just .237 with no home runs. After this rough season, Thome met Charlie Manuel, who would eventually become his head coach and mentor. Manuel helped fix his swing, and in the next season, Thome hit .340 with 16 home runs.

In 1994, Thome was finally a full-time big-league player. In the abbreviated season, Thome batted .268 with 20 home runs. Little did anyone know this would be the first of 17 seasons in which Thome eclipsed 20 home runs, which is tied for fourth all-time with Willie Mays and behind Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds and Frank Robinson. In 1995, Thome hit .314 with 25 home runs and was a major contributor to the Indians winning the American League pennant. In the fourteen playoff games, Thome hit four home runs and drove in 10 runs.

Breaking down the Stats

From 1997-2004, Thome hit 330 home runs, which was the most by any first baseman during that span. The only players to hit more than him were Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds, who were all heavily linked to PED usage. During this same time period, Thome led all first basemen in offensive WAR. In 1996, Thome finished sixth in the AL in WAR, and in 2002, he finished second.

2002 was also the year in which Thome had one of the best offensive seasons we have seen. He hit 52 home runs, batted .304 and led the league in walks, slugging percentage, OPS and OPS+. Thome became one of four players to have a season at least a .300 batting average, 52 home runs, 120 walks and an OPS+ north of 197. That list includes Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds and Mickey Mantle.

Throughout his career, Jim Thome had 12 seasons of at least 30 home runs and an OBP of .360. The only players with more than 12 seasons are Barry Bonds, Mike Schmidt, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. Thome had eight seasons of at least 25 home runs, a .280 batting average, .410 OBP and a .995 OPS. He is tied for sixth all-time behind Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx.

PLAYERS WITH SEASONS OF AT LEAST 40 HR, .385 OBP, .570 SLG # OF SEASONS
BABE RUTH 11
BARRY BONDS 8
ALBERT PUJOLS 6
ALEX RODRIGUEZ 6
JIM THOME 6
MARK MCGWIRE 5
HANK AARON 5
JIMMIE FOXX 5
LOU GEHRIG 5
WILLIE MAYS 4

 

Later years/ off the field

At age 35 as a member of the Chicago White Sox, Thome had one of his best seasons as a professional. He hit .288, 42 home runs and had an OPS of 1.014. He joined Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth as the only players, 35 or older who comprised a season of 42 home runs, an OPS over 1, an OBP above .415 and a batting average of at least .285. Thome is currently ranked 10th all-time in home runs after turning 35. Simply put, the guy had power throughout his entire career.

Jim Thome

A true professional on and off the diamond. (Photo from MLB.com)

For the entirety of his career, Thome was known as someone with a positive attitude and a gregarious personality. He received two Marvin Miller Man of the Year Awards and a Lou Gehrig Memorial Award for his involvement within the community. In a 2007 poll, he tied with Mike Sweeney for second-friendliest player in baseball.

As a child, Thome snuck into the Cubs clubhouse in hopes of getting an autograph from his favorite player, Dave Kingman. Although he received a handful of autographs from several Cubs, he was unable to retrieve Kingman’s. Because of this, Thome was extremely openhanded with signing autographs for fans during his career.

Thome has two children, and by 2012, had already established funds to put his 10 nieces and nephews through college. Jim and his family, who spoke in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, try “to stay connected with at least one or two organizations in each of the cities” that Thome has played in.

Not only is he a member of the 600 home run club, a five-time All-Star and a Silver Slugger Award winner, Thome is one of the most respected and humble players to ever step on the diamond. Thome is a lock for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and if there were a Hall of Fame for professional athletes based off personality and friendliness, Thome would be a first-ballot selection.

 

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A look back at Chipper Jones’ incredible numbers

When you think about the steroid era, you think about guys with over 60 home runs in a season like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. You also think of guys like Roger Clemens, who managed to win seven Cy Young Awards, including one at age 41. Yet, a kid born on April 24, 1972, in DeLand, Florida, played during this same time period and absolutely tore it up.

In his first year on the ballot, Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones Jr. is a lock for the Hall of Fame. Although he did not put up numbers as outlandish as his counterparts who used PEDs, Jones’ stats were absolutely remarkable for someone who was completely clean in a time where baseball was filled with corruption. Jones will be the second player in the history of the amateur draft to be selected No. 1 overall and reach the Hall of Fame.

Early Days

Larry Jr. was given the nickname “Chipper” at a young age by his family. They saw the boy as a “chip off the old block” and the name stuck. His dad, Larry Sr., who idolized Mickey Mantle, taught Chipper to switch hit just like the Yankee legend. In high school, he was a star pitcher, shortstop and outfielder.

As an 18-year-old kid, the Atlanta Braves selected Jones with the first overall pick in the 1990 MLB June Amateur Draft. He was drafted as a shortstop, but as he worked his way up the ladder in the Braves farm system, it was clear that third base was a better fit.

Here is an excerpt from SI’s article, “Chipper Jones is a lock for First-Ballot Hall of Fame election.

Ahead of the 1990 draft, he met with agent Scott Boras, whom he found “brash, abrasive, smug and cocky,” according to his description of their brief meeting in his 2017 memoir, Ballplayer. Instead, he hired childhood friend B.B. Abbott. A day before the draft, Jones ditched his prom weekend to meet with the Braves, who owned the No. 1 overall pick; Cox, then the team’s general manager, had scouted him. Over dinner at an Olive Garden in Daytona Beach, Jones agreed to a bonus of $275,000 with incentives that pushed the total package of $400,000.

Chipper Jones Hall of Fame

Young Chipper. (Photo from Online Athens)

In late 1993, Jones debuted as the youngest player in the league. The following season, after starting left fielder Ron Gant broke his leg in a dirt bike accident, it appeared Jones would have a legitimate shot to start. That was until Jones suffered an ACL tear in the spring of 1994. Jones missed the entire strike-shortened season in 1994.

 

As a rookie in 1995, he became just the fifth qualified rookie to get at least 23 home runs, 85 RBIs, 135 hits and 73 walks. That list includes Ted Williams, Al Rosen, Alvin Davis and Tim Salmon. Recently, both Aaron Judge and Kris Bryant eclipsed these numbers during their rookie seasons.

1995 was also the year that the Atlanta Braves won their third championship, and first since moving to Atlanta. In the NLCS, Jones hit .438. During the entirety of the 1995 postseason, the 23-year-old Jones hit .364 with 10 runs, three home runs and eight RBIs.

In 19 years, all with the Atlanta Braves, Chipper Jones had a career average of .303, along with 2,726 hits, including 468 home runs.

 

Players to hit at least: 460 HR, 2,700 H, .300 BA, .400 OBP
BABE RUTH
MEL OTT
LOU GEHRIG
STAN MUSIAL
CHIPPER JONES

 

Numbers

Jones had five seasons in which he finished in the top 10 for batting average, and seven seasons in the top 10 for on-base percentage. He joined Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Lou Gehrig and Stan Musial as the only retired players to have a career batting average above .300, hit at least 465 home runs and a minimum of 2,700 hits and 1,600 runs.

Chipper Jones Hall of Fame

Eight-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger (Photo from CBS News)

Jones had five seasons in which he had 180 hits, 30 home runs, 110 runs and a slugging percentage above .530. Players who also had five seasons with these numbers include Stan Musial and Ted Williams. The only players with more than five of these monster seasons are Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.

From 1995-2008, Jones had 14 straight seasons of at least 20 doubles and 21 home runs. Fourteen straight. His 162-game average, over a span of 19 seasons, was .303, 30 home runs, 177 hits and 105 runs.

In 1999, Jones won the NL MVP award. He hit .319 with 45 home runs and 181 hits. Jones also had a .441 on-base percentage, .633 slugging percentage, and an OPS+ of 169. The AL MVP, Ivan Rodriguez, had an on-base percentage of .356, slugging percentage of .558, and an OPS+ of 125. All stats lower than Jones, who was arguably the best player in the league in 1999.

PLAYERS WITH SEASONS OF AT LEAST 21 HOME RUNS, 20 DOUBLES, .390 OBP, .295 BA # OF SEASONS
TED WILLIAMS 15
BABE RUTH 13
LOU GEHRIG 12
CHIPPER JONES 11
MANNY RAMIREZ 11
ALBERT PUJOLS 10
BARRY BONDS 10
JIMMIE FOXX 10
MEL OTT 10
JIMMIE FOXX 10
STAN MUSIAL 9

During his career (1993-2012), Jones had the fourth most WAR behind Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols. He is currently 23rd in offensive WAR, which has him ahead of George Brett, Robin Yount, Pete Rose, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew and Carl Yastrzemski.

According to the baseball gurus, an All-Star type season means at least 5 WAR. Chipper Jones had eight seasons with 5.5 WAR. His 468 home runs are the most in the NL by a switch-hitter. Jones is arguably the second best switch-hitter of all-time, behind his dad’s idol, Mickey Mantle.

The Hot Corner

Jones spent the majority of his career at the hot corner, but also played left field in 2002 and 2003. He had seven seasons in which he finished in the top three for third basemen in WAR, including first in 1998, 1999 and 2008. From 1996-2001, Chipper Jones was the best third baseman in baseball. During this time, he led all qualified third basemen in WAR with 35.6. The second place finisher, Jeff Cirillo, had only 28.4.

A serious argument could be made for Jones as the best third baseman of all time. He is third all time in home runs for third basemen who played at least 1,500 games at the hot corner. When compared to Mike Schmidt, Jones has a higher batting average, more hits, more runs, higher OBP, higher SLG and a higher OPS. Chipper also has more home runs and higher OBP, SLG, and OPS than the great George Brett.

Jones is also one of the best postseason players of all time. He has played the ninth most games and ranks fifth in runs scored, fifth in hits, seventh in total bases, eighth in RBIs, seventh in singles and tied for first in walks.

Later Days

Chipper Jones Hall of Fame

A true legend. (Photo from The Sports Fan Journal)

Once he got a little older, Jones did not slow down. After turning 34, he had three seasons in which he hit .320 with 20 home runs and 20 doubles. The only other players with more seasons, at 34 years or older, are Ted Williams, Barry Bonds and Edgar Martinez.

 

At age 36, Jones won the batting title with a batting average of .364. He joined Tris Speaker, Ted Williams, Zach Wheat, Babe Ruth, Tony Gwynn, Barry Bonds and Eddie Collins as the only players 36 years or older to finish a season hitting at least .360. Jones finished his career with six seasons in the top ten for MVP voting and finished in the top 25 for nine straight seasons (1995-2003).

 

PLAYERS AFTER TURNING 35 WHO HIT .300, 110 HR, 160 2B
BARRY BONDS
STAN MUSIAL
EDGAR MARTINEZ
CHIPPER JONES

 

The 1999 NL MVP, 2008 NL Batting Title Champion, eight-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger and 1995 World Series Champion is an obvious first-ballot Hall of Famer, whose numbers show that he is among the best players in the history of the sport.

 

Featured image from USA Today

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Vladimir Guerrero’s Hall of Fame Case

If anyone in baseball were to be considered must-see TV, it would be Vladimir Guerrero. The nine-time All-Star would swing at anything, yet somehow had a career batting average of .318. Growing up watching “SportsCenter”, I would constantly see highlights of Guerrero getting base hits off balls that bounced before reaching home plate. Vlad also had arguably one of the strongest arms this game has ever seen. If you somehow forgot, go to YouTube and watch him throw a ball 370 feet at Yankee Stadium.

Last year, his first time on the Hall of Fame ballot, Guerrero finished 15 votes shy of becoming the 53rd player inducted as a first ballot Hall of Famer. Luckily for Guerrero, history says this will be his year. Over the last 10 years, Roberto Alomar is the only player who reached at least 70 percent of the vote in his first year and was not elected the following year. For Alomar, the third time was the charm, receiving over 90 percent of the vote.

If Guerrero’s name is called in January, he will join Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez as the only players from the Dominican Republic to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yet, after breaking down the numbers, it is mindboggling how Guerrero was not a first ballot selection. Let’s take a look back through his eminent career.

Started from the Bottom

Guerrero, one of five children, grew up dirt poor in the Dominican Republic.  He would constantly drink from puddles because the shack he lived in had no running water or electricity. The word “shack” is used because, after a hurricane blew the roof off, his seven family members had to share one room, with only two total beds. When his mother was three months pregnant with him, his father abandoned the family.

From puddles to Cooperstown? (AZ Quotes)

Guerrero was forced to stop going to school after fifth grade because he, according to Sports Illustrated, “missed so many classes while instead harvesting vegetables in the field.”

The lack of education was a main reason why Guerrero shied away from interviews during his career, as his English was not where it should have been.

As a teenager, Vlad drew interest from the Los Angeles Dodgers, who, according to Sports Illustrated, saw Guerrero as “a slow, fat player with a long swing.”

When Guerrero was invited to a try-out with the Montreal Expos in 1993, he “hitched a ride on the back of a friend’s motorcycle, showed up with a mismatched pair of spikes with a sock jammed into one that was too big,” according to Sports Illustrated. Ultimately, the former Expos scout, Fred Ferrera, signed Guerrero for $2,000.

Guerrero would go on to hit 449 home runs and make $125,541,455 in the MLB.

Numbers Never Lie

In his 16-year career, Guerrero was an eight-time Silver Slugger, nine-time All-Star and 2004 AL MVP. He is one of only three right fielders to have at least 2,500 hits, 400 home runs and a batting average over .300. Joining Guerrero on that list are Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Mel Ott.

Guerrero’s six seasons of at least 30 home runs, 30 doubles and a .300 average are the most among all qualified right fielders. Hank Aaron had five, and Mel Ott totaled three. The only players in MLB history with more than six seasons of .300/30/30 are Albert Pujols, Lou Gehrig, Miguel Cabrera and Jimmie Foxx.

PLAYERS WITH AT LEAST 1300 RUNS, 440 HR, .310 BA, 2580 HITS, 4500 TB

*= ACTIVE

BOLD= HOF

STAN MUSIAL
BABE RUTH
LOU GEHRIG
TED WILLIAMS
JIMMIE FOXX
MIGUEL CABRERA*
VLADIMIR GUERRERO

As a rookie for the Montreal Expos, Guerrero, in 325 at-bats, hit .302 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs. The following season, now a full-time starter, Guerrero hit .324/38/109. At just 23 years of age, Vlad was already one of the best hitters in the game. Over the next nine seasons, Guerrero made eight All-Star teams and was one of the best overall players in the league.

The 2004 AL MVP, Mr. Vladimir Guerrero (The Trentonian)

From 1998-2007, Guerrero ranked 10th in WAR, and was the highest right fielder on the list. Yes, for a 10-year stretch, Guerrero was the best right fielder in the game.

Guerrero’s average season from 1998-2008 was .325/34/111. Let’s emphasize that. For 11 years, Vladimir Guerrero gave you a .325 batting average, 34 home runs and 111 RBIs. Guerrero joined Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron and Miguel Cabrera, as the only players from their third to 13th season who had 2000 hits, a .320 batting average, and 350 home runs.

He eventually became the best player on the Expos and then was the best on the Angels for his first few seasons as a member of the team. Before turning 30, he joined Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx and Albert Pujols, as the only players, aged 29 or younger, to hit .325 with 270 home runs.

His age 29 season turned out to be his MVP year, as Guerrero led the league in runs and bases while hitting .337/39/126. This would be one of seven seasons in which Vlad hit .300/30/100 with over 330 total bases. Obviously, RBIs are more of a team-based stat, but, nonetheless, here is a list of players, with their amount of seasons, in which they hit .300/30/100 and had at least 330 total bases.

SEASONS WITH .300/30/100 + 330 TB

PLAYER # OF SEASONS
BABE RUTH 10
ALBERT PUJOLS 9
LOU GEHRIG 8
VLADIMIR GUERRERO 7
ALEX RODRIGUEZ 7
HANK AARON 7
WILLIE MAYS 7
JIMMIE FOXX 7
TED WILLIAMS 6
STAN MUSIAL 5
BARRY BONDS 4

Later Years

Did he slow down after hitting age 30? Absolutely not. In fact, Guerrero is one of five players who, from age 30-35, to hit .310, 150 home runs, and had at least 1,000 hits. That list includes Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Dante Bichette and Babe Ruth.

The 35 Year-Old All-Star (Business Insider)

During his age 35 season, now with the Texas Rangers, Vladimir Guerrero made his ninth All-Star team. He would end the year .300/29/115. The only other players, aged 35 or older, who hit .300/29/110 with 175 hits are Babe Ruth, Andres Gallarraga, Edgar Martinez and Manny Ramirez.

Over the span of his career (1996-2011), Guerrero finished second in hits, fourth in RBIs, and third in intentional walks. He had 13 games in which he eclipsed four hits, three RBIs, and one home run. The only other players to have more than 13 games with these numbers are: Lou Gehrig, Miguel Cabrera, Al Simmons, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Dante Bichette, Dave Winfield, Manny Ramirez, Chuck Klein and Babe Ruth.

Seven of those men are Hall of Famers, one is still active and will be their eventually, and Manny, well, we will see this year how he gets treated.

All in all, Guerrero’s offensive numbers are out of this world. He is up there with the greats, and constantly performed even past his prime. As you can tell, he was absolutely snubbed last year. Using Bill James’s point system, the average Hall of Famer scores a 50. Guerrero is at 58. He finished with a higher WAR than guys like Willie Stargell, Hank Greenberg, and Tony Perez.

The fact that Guerrero was not a first ballot Hall of Famer is disappointing, but it will be awesome to see him get enshrined in January.

Featured image by SI.com

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Let’s pump the brakes on Shohei Otani

Hideki Matsui, former Yankees star and current special advisor for New York, is expected to play a major role in the pursuit for Shohei Otani. Otani, the Japanese two-way star, is hoping to bring his talents to the MLB, but the Players Association is standing in the way.

Typically, when a player like Otani becomes available to sign, there is a massive bidding war. Because of his age, only 23, the signing will mirror more of a college recruitment process, rather than a typical negotiation for an MLB free agent. The club that ends up signing Otani will be forced to pay a posting fee to his Japan Pacific League team, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

CBA

Under the most recent posting system, according to Baseball America, the “fee was capped at $20 million, but there is no current posting agreement between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball.” An agreement needs to be announced before Otani can come to the US. The goal is to lower the costs of the bids, especially after we saw Nippon Ham Fighters receive a $51 million posting fee from the Rangers for Yu Darvish.

According to the old Collective Bargaining Agreement, “Otani would have been eligible to be a true free agent if posted this offseason, not subject to any bonus restrictions” (Baseball America). Unfortunately, under the current CBA, the age cutoff to become exempt from the bonus pools was altered to 25, after it was previously 23.

Because of this, Otani would have to sign a minor league deal. Otani could earn some extra cash in his signing bonus, but this only allots to a few million because teams do not have a lot lying around in their 2017-18 international bonus allotments.

If Otani decided to come after the 2019 season, he would have a chance to sign as a true free agent, and receive a contract that is north of $150 million. There is even a chance that his signing bonus will be less than the money he would earn if he stayed in Japan for the upcoming season. All in all, teams will have to sell Otani on why he should come play in their city, rather than flaunting money in his face.

Just how good is he?

In 2017, as a member of the Fighters, Otani in 231 plate appearances, hit .332 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs. As a pitcher, he posted a 3-2 record with a 3.20 ERA. In 2016, while starting 20 games, Otani went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA, and struck out 174 batters in just 140 innings of work. As a hitter, he hit .322 with 22 home runs in 323 at-bats.

Shohei Otani

In 2016, Otani hit .322 with 22 home runs (NBC Sports)

Otani hopes to hit and pitch in the MLB, but will be able to pull it off?

“It’s difficult,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said in an interview. “It depends on the quality of both skill sets. The usage and the expectations of it will really come into play. It’s going to take a special player to do both. It’s hard enough to do one or the other.”

That is a polite way of saying Otani will not be able to do both. There is no shot someone would be able to put up numbers as both a hitter and a pitcher. The whole “Japan’s Babe Ruth” talks need to stop.

First off, there are only six teams in the league that Otani plays in. Six, which means that there are far less players to game plan for. Also, if we are looking at Otani as a pitcher, the guy has never thrown over 200 innings. If you think he is just going to come over here and dominate, then you are mistaken my friend. At least Yu Darvish had four seasons of 200+ innings before making the move to the MLB.

The most innings Otani has ever thrown was 160, back in 2015. He has totaled 543 innings in his five seasons. Before jumping to the MLB, Daisuke Matsuzaka had thrown over 1,400 innings. Hiroki Kuroda had over 2,000 under his belt before signing with the Dodgers. Both were unable to make an All-Star team and did not sustain consistent success in the states.

In 2008, Hisashi Iwakuma, a member of the Golden Eagles, went 21-4 with a 1.87 ERA in 201.2 innings. Iwakuma has had a solid couple of years in the states, but nothing special. This is a guy who logged over 1500 innings in Japan, yet is an average pitcher at best.

Offense

Shohei Otani

Yakult Swallows legend, Akinori Imamura (The Trading Card Database)

Sure, his 2016 offensive stats were really good, but he had less than 330 at-bats. Does anyone remember Kosuke Fukudome? Before signing with the Cubs, Fukudome had some monster seasons in the same league that Otani plays in. In 2003, Fukudome hit .313 with 34 home runs and 96 RBIs. The year before, he hit .343 in over 600 plate appearances. In five MLB seasons, Fukudome was a career .258 hitter and hit a total of 42 home runs. Translation, even a full-time hitter, who mashed in Japan, struggled to hit over .250 in the MLB.

What about Akinori Iwamura? As a member of the Yakult Swallows in 2004, Iwamura hit 44 home runs with 103 RBIs. The following season, he hit 30 more home runs and drove in 102. In 2006, Iwamura hit .311 with 32 home runs. In his four MLB seasons, Iwamura hit .267 with 16 total home runs. I think it’s fair to say that the competition is a tad different.

Conclusion

If Otani comes to the MLB for the 2018 season, he will be one of the most over-hyped busts of all-time. He does not have the experience as a pitcher to perform over the course of an MLB season and his offensive stats do not even resemble guys like Iwamura and Fukudome, two boarder line scrubs in the MLB.

If Otani was smart, he would stay in Japan and focus on his game. He should pitch two more seasons in Japan, throw at least 200 innings in both of them, and then receive a monster $100-million-dollar contract from an MLB team if he performs. Instead, he is going to come over to the MLB, prove he is not elite at pitching or hitting, and miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

Featured image by SI.com

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New York Yankees

New York Yankees team profile

The New York Yankees are without a doubt the most storied franchise in baseball history. That is why many fans were not too happy about them “rebuilding” in 2017. Like most events in Yankees’ history, they were able to have their cake and eat it too. They were ahead of schedule in 2017, besting the pundits predictions. But how did they get there?

2017 season

After going 84-78 and finishing fourth in the AL East in 2016, many believed it was time for the Yankees to finally begin the dreaded rebuild. Only three everyday position players on that team were younger than 30 years old (Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks, all 26 years old), and the major league team seemed ready to be laid bare to cultivate the fruits of the farm. But as the Yankees are known to do, they ended up competing yet again for a World Series berth in 2017.

New York Yankees

C.C. Sabathia has been a key contributor in the Yankees rotation. (Photo by Kathy Willens/Associated Press).

Breakout seasons from Gary Sanchez, Gregorious and Hicks all contributed to the Yankees 91 wins. However, the real story of the season was the behemoth in right field, Aaron Judge. His 52 home runs are the most ever by a rookie, topping Mark McGwire’s record 49 in 1987. Judge also easily paced the team with a 171 OPS+. With the AL ROY already a lock, all that’s left is the coveted MVP.

The often forgotten piece of the Yankees surprise resurgence was their pitching staff. Luis Severino assumed the role of staff ace and proved to be an excellent frontline starter. His 14 wins tied the team lead, and his 2.98 ERA lead the starting staff.

Grizzled veteran C.C. Sabathia was also able to turn in a solid campaign, winning 14 games and posting a 3.69 ERA. The deadline addition of Sonny Gray helped balance out the starting staff. A strong bullpen comprised of Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances and the breakout of Chad Green (1.83 ERA in 40 games) was able to lock down opponents in the late innings as well.

All of these factors combined to bring the Yankees within one game of the World Series. To achieve that status, some glaring holes will need to be addressed.

Team needs

The biggest of those holes is the one Joe Girardi left. The longtime Yankees skipper was let go after guiding the Yankees to within one game of the World Series. After 10 years at the helm, general manager Brian Cashman believed that Girardi had lost his personal touch with the players. With Girardi out of the clubhouse, Cashman seems to be looking high and low for the next manager of the Yankees.

Names from former Cubs catcher David Ross to current ESPN analyst Aaron Boone have been rumored to be in the running. One thing is for certain though, they are looking for someone with a more personal touch. Many of the players had expressed the same sentiment Cashman had. A manager with playing experience seems to be the focus.

Another area the team needs to focus on is the corner infield positions. First base was an odyssey all season long. Greg Bird was finally able to get healthy and performed well in the playoffs. Third base was solidified by mid-season acquisition Todd Frazier. With Frazier becoming a free agent this offseason, Chase Headley is the lone option. The Yankees may just go through the 2018 season with Headley as the starter. With Manny Machado coming up for free agency, don’t be surprised to see the Yankees make a run at him.

Potential free-agent signings

With a glaring hole at third base and the Yankees unease with Headley as the starter, Mike Moustakas will be in Brian Cashman’s sights. The career Royal slugged 38 homers in 2017, setting the Royals single-season record. He also batted .272, which would be an upgrade over Frazier.

New York Yankees

Shohei Otani has drawn comparisons to Babe Ruth, Josh Beckett and Anthony Rizzo (Photo by Getty Images).

While the Royals will make a run at keeping Moustakas, the upcoming rebuild in Kansas City will be a huge factor. The Yankees will at least make a call to the burly Royals third baseman and also may look to the far east for free agents.

The one name that everyone in New York will be asking about has no MLB experience. In his time in Japan, he has garnered comparisons to none other than Babe Ruth.

Shohei Otani will be the most coveted player on the market this offseason. All Otani has done since his debut at age 18 is dominate the Japanese league. In five seasons, Otani has slugged 48 homers and won 42 games. He has hit .286 and posted a 2.52 ERA, proving to be dominant on both the mound and at the plate.

With the Yankees’ history of Japanese players, Otani may favor the bright lights of New York.

Impact minor leaguers

Two prospects stand out for the Yankees that could make the jump to the majors next year. One of those is infielder Gleyber Torres. Torres was on the fast track to the majors this past season, seeing time at third base at Triple-A. However, a season ending injury left Torres waiting for next season, and now might be his chance. He hit .309 in 23 games at AAA, and should start the season there. But if he can impress in camp, Torres may start the season on the big league club.

The other option is third baseman Miguel Andujar. He has shown a cannon of an arm in the minor leagues, and his defense has continued to improve. His bat is no slouch either, as he hit .317 at Triple-A and launched nine homers. While he may not profile as a future silver slugger, his bat and glove combine to make him a potential starter for the big league club.

This team is definitely on the rise. With a stacked farm system and a strong major league club, the Yankees will be a threat in the AL East for years to come. Look for them to make some impact free-agent signings and maybe even some big trades with their deep farm system.

 

Feature image by Getty Images

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