Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hall of Fame Part 3

This is the third installment in my series of posts previewing the candidates for enshrinement in baseballs hall of fame. To read installment one or two click as needed.



Today I will finish previewing those returning to the ballot this year. Again I will not be stating my preferences for induction until the final post.

Continuing with those returning to the ballot, we start with Harold Baines who is on the ballot for the 4th year. Baines began and finished his MLB career with the Chicago White Sox. He actually played for the pale hose on 3 different occasions (80-89, 96-97, 2000-2001) In between he played with the Texas Rangers, (89,90) 3 stints with the Baltimore Orioles (93-95, 97-99, 2000), Oakland A's (90-92), and the Cleveland Indians in 1999. Baines approached the 3000 hit mark late in his career but finished well under with 2,866 hit 384 homers and had a life time batting average of .289. Baines, a six time all star (85,86,87,89,91, and 99) spent most of the 1980's as an outfielder and spent the 2nd half his career as a DH.

Baines first appeared on the ballot in 2007 appearing on 5.3% of the completed ballots. He had 5.2 % in 2008 and 5.9 % last year.

Analysis and Outlook: With 12 elections remaining, it is much too early to write Baines off entirely. However, just a small decrease in his support over the past 3 years would remove him from the ballot altogether.

Mark McGwire is on his 4th year on the ballot. I would generally tell you what teams he played for and the statistics he compiled over his career, but as McGwire infamously once noted I am not here to talk about the past.

Actually I am here to talk about the past so I will tell you that McGwire played for the Oakland A's form 1986 to 1997 and played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1997 to 2001. He hit 583 home runs and once held the single season home run record at 70. The first baseman had 1626 career hits with a lifetime batting average of .263. McGwire was the 1987 Rookie of the year, won a gold glove in 1990, silver slugger awards in 92,96,and 98. The 12 time all star (87-92 and 95-2000) was the runner-up for the NL MVP in 1998.

McGwire entered the hall of fame ballot in 2007 with 23.5% of the vote, had 23.6% in 2008 and appeared on 21.6 % of the completed ballots last year.

Anaylisis and Outlook: With career numbers alone McGwire would probably already be in the hall or be at least 30 - 40 more percentage points closer. Allegations and speculation about steroid use and his aforementioned inability to talk about the past has radically cut off his support. I don't expect his numbers to improve anytime soon.

Tim Raines is on the ballot for his 3rd year. He played for the Montreal Expos (1979-1990 and 2001) Chicago White Sox (1991-1995) New York Yankees (1996-1998), Oakland A's (2000), Baltimore Orioles (2001) and finished up with the Florida Marlins in 2002. Raines had 2605 hits, 808 stolen bases and a lifetime batting average of .294. Raines played in seven straight all star games (1981-1987 and was the 1987 all star MVP. He won a Silver Slugger award in 1986 the year he led the National League with a .334 batting average.

Raines first year on the ballot was 2008 when he received 24.3 % of the vote. Last year he was down to 22.6%.

Analysis and Outlook: Receiving over 20% of the vote on your first two ballots is a pretty good way to start your bid for hall of fame induction. The fact that his numbers took a small dip from his first to second year on the ballot could be a little troubling if the pattern continues downward. I think it's more likely that this was a small course correction that happens to most players in the election process. I also feel that Rickey Henderson's election on the first ballot last year lowered his vote total last year but ultimatelt will increase his chances in the years to come as he is such a similar player to Henderson.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hall of Fame Part 2

This is the second installment in my series on the 2010 BBWWA hall of fame election. There are 3 different phases in this series. Phase 1 is the analysis of returning players to the ballot. This is the second post in phase 1. I will continue to review these players in descending order based on their years in the ballot. Click here to see my analysis of Dave Parker, Bert Blyleven, Dale Murphy and Jack Morris. I also want to reiterate that my analysis is based on previous voting patterns and not my view on the individuals hall of fame worthiness. I will be discussing those points in phase 3.

Don Mattingly is on his 10th year of the ballot. Mattingly played his entire career (1982-1995) as a first baseman for the New York Yankees. In Mattingly's 14 seasons for the Bronx Bombers he hit 222 home runs, maintained a lifetime average of .307 and had 2153 career hits. Mattingly made 6 all star teams, won 9 gold glove awards (85-89 + 91-94) and 3 consecutive silver slugger awards (85-87). He was the American League MVP in 1985 and the runner-up in 1986.

Mattingly has been on the ballot since 2001 garnering 28.2 % of the vote that year. 2001 was also the year he received the most support. He has only been on 20% or more of the ballots twice (the other year being 2002). He has actually lost 1 percentage point of support in the past 5 years (12.8 in 2004 and 11.9 in 2009).



Anaylysis and Outlook. Mattingly's 28.2% in 2001 would have made a good point to build on, instead his % decreases for a few years then increase for a few and then goes back down Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven both had less votes than Mattingly did in 2001 but by 2009 Blyleven had 5 times the votes Mattingly had and Morris had almost 4 times more. With 6 elections left Mattingly's only legitimate chance of being voted in by the BBWAA is by increasing his support about 10 percentage points each year and given his up and down history that does not seem likely.



Andre Dawson is on the ballot for his 9nth year. Dawson played for the Montreal Expos form 1976 to 1986. He played foe the Chicago Cubs from 1987 to 1992. He played 2 years for the Boston Red Sox in 1993 and 1994 and finished his career with the Florida Marlins in 1995 and 1996. Dawson was a lifetime outfielder save his 2 years in the American league where he was a designated hitter. Dawson had a career batting average of .279 and had 2774 hits. He is one of only 6 players to have over 300 home runs (438) and 300 stolen bases (314). Dawson won 6 consecutive gold gloves with the expos (1981-1985) and 2 more with the Cubs (1987-1988). He made 3 consecutive all star teams with Montreal (1981-1983) and 5 consecutive with Chicago (1987-1991). Dawson was good at making a first impression as he won the N.L. Rookie if the year award with the Expos in 1977 and won the NL MVP in 1987 his first year with the Cubs.



Dawson has been on the ballot since 2002 where he received 45.3% of the vote. He was voted for by 50% of the electorate in 2003 and again in 2004. He has received more than 65% support in the last 2 elections receiving his highest total last year with 67% of the vote.



Analysis and Outlook: Dawson previous 8 years on the ballot read like a textbook on how to make the hall. He has increased his % in every year but 2 maintaining 50% in 2004 and going from 61% in 2006 to 56.6 in 2007. With 7 more elections left to him he should easily make the 75% he needs. Also very promising is that everyone who had more votes than him in any of his previous elections has already made the Hall.

Alan Trammell is on the ballot for the ninth year. He played his entire career for the Detroit Tigers from 1977 to 1996. While he played occasional other positions for the Tigers including DH, He predominately played shortstop and did so each season he was in the major leagues. Trammell was a 6 time all star (80, 84,85,87,88, & 90), 4 time gold glove recipient, (80,81,83 and 84), 3 time Silver Slugger winner (87,88 &90) and the 1984 World Series MVP. In 1987 He was runner up for the AL MVP award. Alan hit .285 for the Tigers with 2365 hits and 185 Home Runs.

Like Dawson, Trammel has been on the ballot since 2002. Unlike Dawson, Trammell has never even come close to the 75% needed for election. He was on 15.7% of the ballots in his first year of eligibility, Hit a high water mark of 18.2% in 2008 and was down to 17.4% in last years balloting.

Analysis and outlook: In his 8 past elections Trammels support has been consistently in the teens. This seems to mean that there is no wide spread appeal for putting Trammell into the Hall.

Lee Smith the lone returning relief pitcher is on his 8th year on the ballot. Smith pitched from 1980 to 1997. Beginning with the Chicago Cubs (1980-1987), then playing 2 and a half seasons with the Boston Red Sox (88-90), parts of 4 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (90-93). His later years he played on the New York Yankees (93), Baltimore Orioles (94). California Angels (95,96), Cincinnati Reds (96), and Montreal Expos 1997. He had a lifetime ERA of 3.03, 1,251 strike outs and 478 saves. Smith was chosen for 7 all star games (83,87,91-95). He was second in Cy Young voting in 1991 the year he won the first of his 2 consecutive NL Rolaids Relief awards for the Cardinals. He won the AL version of the award in 94 with the Orioles.

Smith has been on the ballot in 2003 when he received 42.3% of the vote. He dropped down to 36.6% of the vote in 2004 and in the last 5 years has seen that percentage rise to 44.5% in the last election.

Analysis and Outlook: Smith's initial vote count and his current standing bode well for eventual enshrinement when viewed separately. Looking at them together makes one wonder why he has only moved up 2 percentage points in 7 elections. If whatever has been keeping him stuck in the 40's resolves himself there is plenty of time for Smith to get to Cooperstown.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Hall of Fame Part 1

January 6th, 2010 is an important day for me. It is the 1 year blog-o-versary of Home School Dad (HSD), my main blog. I will be commemorating it there accordingly.

January 6th also has importance as it is the day that the Baseball hall of fame voting is revealed to the general public.

The Baseball writers Association of America (BBWAA) can vote for up to 10 former players to be inducted into the hall in July of 2010. If a player gets 75% of the writers vote they make the hall. If they get less than 75% but more than 5% of the vote they can return to the next years ballot. Players will be on the ballot for 15 years until they receive more than 75% or less than 5 percent of the vote.

Over my next several posts I will introduce you to the players returning to this years ballot, those on the ballot for the first time, and in my final post I will reveal how I would have voted if given the opportunity.

Phase 1: Returning Players (In descending order of years on ballot). The analysis will be based on previous voting patterns not my assessment of their HOF worthiness. That piece of the puzzle will come in the last installment.

Dave Parker is on the ballot for his 14th year . Parker played for 19 seasons beginning with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1973-1983) and ending his career with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991. In between je played for the Cincinnati Reds (1984-1987), Oakland A's 1988-1989, Milwaukee Brewers 1990, and California Angels (1991).

When Parkers playing days came to a close he had amassed 2712 total hits, 339 homers and a lifetime batting average of .290. He played outfield for his most of career where he won 3 consecutive gold gloves (77-79) and was DH the majority of his last 4 seasons. Parker was the 1978 NL MVP, runner up in 1985, a 7 time all star and the all star MVP in 1979.

Parker has been on the ballot since 1997 his best year came in 1998 when he received 24.5 % of the vote. In 2004 Parker had 10.9% of the vote in 2004 and was up to 15% in last years balloting.

Analysis : Players on the 14th ballot who eventually make the Hall in the BBWWA process generally are increasing in % of votes year after year and closing in on the 75% mark. Jim Rice, For an example who was voted in in his 15th year last year received 64.8 % in his 12th election, 71.2% in his 13th, 72.2% in his penultimate election and received 76.4 % when he entered the Hall. Rice's low water mark of 29.4 % in his 5th election is 5 percentage points better than Parker did in his best year.

Outlook: Parker doesn't appear to have enough time to mount a surge of votes needed for induction.

Bert Blyleven is on the ballot for his 13th year. Blyleven began his career pitching for the Minnesota Twins (1970-1976), spent a season and a half with the Texas Rangers (76-77), 3 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates (78-80) 4 and a half years with the Cleveland Indians followed by a return trip to Minnesota (1985-1988) and ended his playing days with the California Angels (89-92). Blyleven retired with a lifetime era of 3.31, 3701 strikeouts and 13 wins shy of the 300 mark.

While Blyleven helped 2 teams win the World Series (Pittsburgh 79 and Minnesota 1987) with a combined 2-1 record and 2.35 ERA his trophy cabinet does seem to be shy of personal accolades. He had no gold gloves, only 2 all star appearances and never finished higher than 3rd in Cy Young voting.

Blyleven has been on the HOF ballot since 1998 when like Parker he received 17.5% in his first opportunity. Last year was his best showing as he received 62.7% of the vote. He has gained almost 30 percentage points in the last 5 years (Blyleven received 35.4 % in 2004).

Analysis and outlook: Looking again at Rice for comparison we find that Blyleven 62.7% last year in his 12 election is comparable to Rice 64.8% at the same time in the process. Combined with the fact that some writers only vote for 1 to 3 candidates each year, Blyleven has an excellent chance of making the HOF in the next 3 years.

Dale Murphy on the ballot for the 12th year played the majority of his career with the Atlanta Braves (1976-1990). He played 2 and a half seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (1990-1992) and played in 26 games with the Colorado Rockies in 1993. Murphy held a lifetime batting average of .265, had 2,111 hits and 398 home runs.

Murphy started as a catcher with the braves but played the majority of his games in the outfield. He was elected to 7 all star games, received 5 consecutive gold glove awards (82-86) 4 consecutive silver slugger awards (82-85) and 2 consecutive MVP seasons (82+83).

Murphy received 19.3% of the vote in 1999, his first year on the ballot. His high water mark was in 2000 where he received 20.8%. In 2004 he reached his low mark only appearing on 8.5 % of the ballots. He has gained 3% points between the election of 2004 and 2009.

Analysis and outlook: A serious HOF contender on his 12th ballot would be dramatically better positioned than Mr. Murphy. While his overall prospects are not as bleak as Parkers, nothing short of a meteoric rise in votes in his last 4 seasons of BBWWA eligibility will get him to the 50% mark let alone the 75% needed to make it in the hall.

Jack Morris is on the ballot for the eleventh year. Morris pitched for the Detroit Tigers from 1977 to 1990, the Minnesota Twins in 1991, the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 & 1993 and finished his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1994. Morris finished with an era of .390, 2,478 strikeouts and 254 wins.

Morris won World Series championships with 3 teams (Detroit 84, Minnesota 91 and Toronto 92) He had a 4-2 World Series and a 2.96 ERA. His individual trophy case is as barren as Bylevens with the exception of the 1991 World Series MVP and 5 all star appearances as compared to Bert's 2.

Morris has been on the HOF ballot since 2000 when he appeared on 22.2 % of the ballots. His best year was last year when he received 44% support an increase of almost 18 percentage points since 2004.

Analysis: With 5 years left on the ballot Morris is in a preferable yet precarious position. Morris is only 2 points behind where Blyleven prior to his eleventh election. Blyleven was able to increase 14 percentage points that year to get to his present favorable position. If Morris doesn't have a double digit surge in one or two of the next few elections he is apt to be on the outside looking in 5 years from now when his 15 years are up.

That's enough analysis for one day. I'll be back today or tomorrow to look at 4 more players returning to the ballot this year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Great Drum

Hockey Lessons
Life Lessons from the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team
This is the first post that I am publishing in it's entirety on both my blogs. The idea speaks to me on both a sports and home school level.

Mark Pavelich was one of the three young men who played on the "conehead" line for Herb Brook's gold medal winning hockey team. Named the cone head line because of the unique perhaps alien style the boys played with as an homage to the popular conehead sketch on Saturday Night Live at that time.

The book "The Boy's of Winter" does an excellent job portraying Pavelich as someone who loves playing Hockey but not the notoriety that comes with excelling. Pavelich is one of 2 NHL players to score 5 goals in a game. 1

That fact notwithstanding, Pavelich was much more comfortable getting the puck to other scores than scoring himself. Most familiar with the Miracle on Ice are familiar with Mike Eurizione's game winning goal. It was Pavelich who got the assist. Pavelich also got the assist on his line mate Buzz Schneider's first period goal that knotted the Russians at one. How appropriate that a player who liked being behind the scenes made the first and final assists in the most important hockey game in his countries history.

As a NHL player Pavelich was known for his poise on the ice, his practical jokes in the locker room and his desire to be and completely comfortable in who he was as a person. Who he was off the ice was not a social butterfly or a clotheshorse. There are countless stories in "Boys of Winter." showing Pavelich's preference to be withdrawn and only comfortable outside of the rink when He was fishing, hunting or other outddorsy tasks. His New York Rangers teammate Nick Foitu described him thusly, "He dressed like a mountain man from the backwoods of Minnesota. Then he would come out on the ice and play his heart out." 2

Joe Devaney a close friend of Pavelich's summed him up this way . . . "He's completely happy and content with what he does. He marches to his own drum and it's a great drum." 3

I really liked that quote because it makes an important distinction for going against the status quo. Some people march to a different drum just to be contrarian. When they hear toe-may-toe they have a knee-jerk need to say toe-mah-toe. Unfortunately, being different just to be different doesn't usually make a difference.

Amy and I march to a different drummer when it comes to educating our kids. We home school our children and we don't do it to be different. We do it because, for us, homeschooling is a great drum. Like Pavelich, we are happy and content with our decision to homeschool.

As a parent I also see the quote about Pavelich as an opportunity to help my children find their drummer. All our children seem to be on their way to establishing their own paths. Emma, the literary giant and animal lover. Charlie, the scientist, explorer, super hero. Lucy, the 1 man wrecking crew/ballerina with an unusual take on about everything. I recently told her that over Christmas Break I wanted her to memorize three state capitols. I suggested Indiana, Iowa and Missouri as they border Illinois. She responded back that she wanted to memorize the capitols of Kentucky, Bethlehem and Arkansas.

As Amy and I help them find their drummer we realize it doesn't have to be the road less traveled, we just want the path they take to be a great drum.
1. Wikpedia article on Pavelich
2. The Boys of Winter. Coffey, Wayne. p. 167
3. Boys of Winter, P. 169

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Anniversary Bobby Jenks

It's Christmas time and everyone seems to be on the hunt for bargains. For Baseball general managers one place to look for bargains is the waiver wire.

This time of year baseball teams are shuffling their rosters around and will often cut a player lose as part of a numbers game. In December 2004, The LA Angels of Anaheim decided to cut Bobby Jenks a highly regarded pitching prospect. In 4 years in the minors Big Bobby had compiled a lot of excess baggage including elbow trouble, erratic behavior and accusations of racism. 1

Enter White Sox GM who on this day in 2004 took a chance on the 100 MPH as a reclamation project. The White Sox decided to shift him from a starter to a role in the bullpen. Jenks came up mid season for the Sox in 2005 and won the role of closer late in the year due to injuries to Dustin Hermanson who was also acquired in December of 2004. Jenks saved 6 games for the Sox in'05 in the regular season and 4 more in the playoffs including the first and last games of the World Series. So in ten months time Jenks had been transformed from the baseball scrap heap to a World Series hero.

Alas, not every waiver wire pick-up has such fantastic upside. But on the 5 year anniversary of the Jenks acquisition, I am still glad that this one did.

Footnotes:

1. Baseball Reference.com - Bobby Jenks Article

Sunday, December 13, 2009

World Champs anniversary edition

When I started this blog did I mention who my favorite sports team of all time is?



Here's a clue . . .






Yes, I love the Chicago White Sox. I am not the typical White Sox fan, but if you read my blog long enough, you will discover I am not the typical anything.


I will delve into what separates me from the normal White Sox fan in later posts. At this time, I'd like to start (with apologies to Kool and The Gang) a celebration that will last throughout the year. The celebration the 5 year anniversary of the 2005 World Series Championship Season.


I know that it is actually only 2009 and might seem premature for the 5 year anniversary. However, I plan from now until October to commemorate important events in the chronology of that histroric achievement.


Today, December 13th, for example, commemorates a move made 5 years ago that went a long way to making the White Sox champions. On this date in 2004 White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams traded Carlos Lee to the Milwaukee Brewers for Scott Podsednik.


In 2004 the white Sox were a team that "lived and died by the home run and the big inning." 1


No one hit more home runs than the White Sox in the regular season of 2004 but that was not enough to get them to the post season. So changes needed to be made to play the style of baseball first year manager Ozzie Guillen was most accustomed to.


The big change was to essentially outfielders with the Brewers. Carlos "El Caballo" Lee hit .305 for the White Sox in '04 and hit 31 dingers, second only to Paul Konerko. Podesdnik cracked 12 homers for the brew crew that year but batted only .244. Podsednik's real contribution came on the base paths where he stole 70 bases, whereas The White Sox as a unit only stole 77!!!

The trade worked out well for both parties. Lee increased his homer output as a Brewer and made the first of 3 consecutive all star appearances in 2005. But the Sox were the real winner of the trade. The acquisition of Podsednik transformed the team. They now had a base runner who was a threat to steal every time he got on base. He stole 59 in 2005 in only 129 games. It's hard to imagine what his total might have been if injuries in the second half of the season didn't keep him out of so many games.

Let me quickly tell you how some of the cogs in the 2005 championship wheel were attained.

  • June 27th 2004. White Sox move Miguel Olivo, Jeremy Reed and Michael Morse to Seattle for Freddy Garcia and Ben Davis. Garcia became a key starter in the White Sox rotation.

  • July 18, 2004. Sox trade pitchers Jon Rauch and Gary Majewski to Montreal for Carl Everett. Everett became the DH in 2005 when Frank Thomas went down to injury.

  • July 31, 2004. White Sox move fan favorite Esteban Loaiza to the Yankees for Jose Contreras. Contreras went 9-2 in the second half of 2005. His best effort came on September 23rd against the Twins. The Sox had dropped to only 1 and a half games ahead of the Indians. Contreras pitched a 9 strike out complete game gem and the White Sox never looked back. Man, I couldn't think of a way to work in that I was at the game and that it was my birthday. Oh well, maybe you will figure that out on your own.

Trades weren't the only way this team formed. Earlier in December of 2004, Wiilliams made two key free agent signings:

  • December 8th Pitcher Dustin Hermanson
  • December 9th Outfielder Jermaine Dye

Hermanson stepped into the closer role in 2005 when we learned that Shingo Takatsu is Japanese for 1 year wonder.

Dye had an excellent year in '05 with the Sox, culminating with his World Series MVP award.

So there it is my first of several looks back at the 2005 World Champions. In the weeks to come I will intersperse some more memories but will also be focusing on other teams and other sports.

Until next time, this is Crazy Uncle Dave signing off.

This post is featured in Athletic Alley Blog Carnival – December 17, 2009

Footnotes

1. Total White Sox by Richard C Lindberg. Triumph Books, 2006. P. 121

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hello Sports Fans

There's a new blog in town!

I have been blogging for almost a year at my main blog: Home School Dad. Like me, my blog is eclectic. I blog about a great variety of topics. For whatever reason, I have not posted a lot about sports.

This is not because I don't have a lot to say about sports. No, I have plenty to say! I am constantly having sports discussions in my head that are begging to get out. Perhaps Home School Dad is not just the correct springboard for my sports diatribes, discourses, and delusions.

At this time I am happy to introduce Crazy Uncle Dave's Sport-O-Rama. I am not sure exactly what this blog will look like in the next few weeks and month. There will be a little bit of a getting to know you phase. But let me remind you that it took Home School Dad a few months to feel it's way through the blog-o-sphere.

Speaking of which, HSD is not going anywhere. It will be my main blog, and I don't intend as much time and energy here. But when I have a thought or comment or concern within the realm of organized or even disorganized sports I'll talk about it here. I will also be putting the first paragraph or so of each sports-o-rama post over at HSD with a link to the entire article.

For those of you visiting from Six Word Saturday. Welcome! Click here to see what other six words are in play this weekend.

Check out my other blog.

Greg Maddux HOF Speech