Baseball Notes for June 17, 2013: MLB and Its Hypocritical Stance on Brawls

MacWilliams

Although a major brawl last week between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks resulted in eight suspensions and a dozen fines, the incident is yet another reminder of what a joke on-field fights and the subsequent reaction of Major League Baseball have become.

Tempers flared after Dodgers’ rookie sensation Yasiel Puig was hit in the face by a pitch, followed by a back-and-forth retaliatory actions by both sides.

Managers Don Mattingly and Kirk Gibson were banned for one game each, while Dodgers’ hitting coach Mark McGwire earned two games because of behavior which resembled an enraged rhinoceros. The punishments are more of a show than punitive in nature. It seems that MLB’s reaction to such incidents is really an unsaid acceptance that brawls are good for business because of the attention they draw. If baseball truly wanted to crack down on on-field fighting, they could do so very easily. Their insistence in staying with the status quo indicates a sanctioning of loosely-controlled violence that spices up games. No matter how egregious brawls are, suspensions and fines are generally light and often reduced upon appeal (although it is rare that an explanation is given in such cases). Continue reading

Baseball Notes for January 21, 2013

HartGamel

With just three weeks until pitchers and catchers start reporting to spring training locations, the baseball offseason is winding down, but it’s not ending with a whimper. This has been one of the more eventful offseasons in recent memory, with constant activity, surprises, and even some quality free agents like Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn still available at this late date.

If the 2013 season can be half as eventful as this winter has been, fans should be in for quite a treat.

Unfortunately, this past week ended with some truly sad news about two baseball legends; considerably darkening this installment of notes. Continue reading

Hall of Fame Voters Make A Point at Piazza’s Expense

Piazza

What kind of baseball world do we live in today? Aaron Sele, Steve Finley, and Julio Franco all received Hall of Fame votes. Franco actually received 6 votes. Six “sports” writers gave Franco a Hall of Fame vote. But the true disservice of this year’s HOF vote was seeing Mike Piazza not receiving the 75% of votes needed to gain entry into the Hall of Fame (Craig Biggio also has a case).

Numbers don’t lie.  If we compare Piazza’s stats against Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, and Gary Carter‘s, Piazza should have been a slam dunk for the HOF. Piazza has the least amount of at-bats, yet led the other three players in homeruns. He trailed only Johnny Bench in RBI, but he had 700 fewer at-bats than Bench. Continue reading

Baseball Notes for November 12, 2012

*** To say I loved the Red Sox signing catcher David Ross to a two year, $6.2 million free agent would be an understatement. He brings the kind of leadership, experience and defensive presence the Sox have lacked behind the plate for years. Although he won’t be a full-time starter he could play a significant role in changing the culture of managing the pitching staff and calling games.

*** The free-spending ways of the Los Angeles Dodgers seems to know no bounds. It was confirmed last week that they successfully bid $25.7 million for the chance to negotiate a contract with Korean left-handed pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin. Continue reading

Retired But Not Forgotten

I remember when I was a young boy being glued to the TV when he came to bat.  I remember begging my parents to buy tickets to the game just so I could see him hit in person.  His homeruns were a thing of beauty!  I wanted to see him hit as much as Ralphie wanted that official Red Ryder Carbine-Action 200-Shot Range Model Air Rifle. Continue reading

Thome’s Career is Something to Marvel At

I want to start out by congratulating Jim Thome for hitting his 600th homerun last night. It is an accomplishment only seven other human beings can claim they did while playing in the Major Leagues, and only Babe Ruth did it in fewer at-bats than Jim Thome. Wow! Thome has been a man that has stayed out of the limelight and flown under the historic radar while his numbers soar high above most hall of fame careers.

He never played for the Yankees or Red Sox. His .277 batting average, while decent, is not great. He is still more than 700 hits from reaching the magical 3000 for his career. He has been a full-time DH since 2006. He has over 2400 strikeouts. He is not a larger-than-life personality. Yada-yada-yada. If you fail to mention Thome as one of the best hitters to grace Major League batter’s boxes then you must not have been paying attention. Take a look at his career numbers:

 

 Stat  Total  Rank
 Homeruns  600  8th
 SLG  .558  20th
 OBP  .403  49th
 OPS  .971  16th
 OPS+  147  41st
 wRC+  145  43rd
 wOBA  .406  55th
 Walks  1710  8th
 XBH  1066  23rd
 Runs Created  1952  23rd
 Total Bases  4555  39th
 Times on Base  4041  42nd
 rWAR  71.1  53rd
 fWAR  71.0  81st

 

And if RBI and runs scored are your thing he ranks 27th all-time with 1662 RBI and 53rd all-time with 1553 runs scored. And to top it off he averaged a homerun once every 13.6 at-bats. Only Mark McGwire, Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and Ryan Howard (who will drop below that total with career regression) have homered more frequently than Thome has but you rarely hear Thome’s name when mentioning the most feared hitters of all-time.

Thome may have flown under a lot of people’s radars for one reason or another but one thing is for sure, the man belongs in Cooperstown and should only take him one try to get in. Take a look at his career and be thankful that we were privileged enough to be alive when the mighty Jim Thome played the best sport on the planet.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell can be found writing about the Tampa Bay Rays at DRaysBay and you can follow him on twitter at @FigureFilbert and follow MLBdirt at @MLBdirt

Nelson Cruz is a Beast

Nelson Cruz has always been a beast offensively and there is no doubt about that. His 6’2” 240lb frame and excellent bat speed crushes balls out of the park (it also helps playing your home games in the hitter friendly Arlington Park) Looking up front at Cruz’s stats, one might not consider him as an elite power threat. His highest homerun total in a season was 33 back in 2009 and he hit only 22 homeruns in 2010. The problem with Cruz has been health issues! In 2010, he hit the DL three times with hamstring issues, in which he saw only 445 plate appearances.

Despite injuries, Cruz has still hit homeruns at a great rate. In 2009 he averaged a homerun every 15.6 plate appearances. If he kept that pace up and saw 650 plate appearances, he would have hit about 42 homeruns. In 2010, he continued hitting homeruns at an impressive rate, averaging one every 20.2 plate appearances.

Cruz has kicked off the 2011 season in a historic fashion. He has hit a homerun in each of his first 4 games this season. Only two other players have accomplished that: Willie Mays and Mark McGwire. Now that is some pretty good company! If Cruz keeps this up, I think he is very capable of hitting 45-50 homeruns with a near .300 average. Our very own Jonathan Mitchell predicted Cruz to finish third in the AL MVP race.

While the season has just only begun, Cruz’s performance cannot be ignored. The main goal for him is to stay healthy and if he does that, 45-50 homeruns is not out of the question at all. Cruz actually was asked by the Rangers to skip Winter Ball this year and that might not ware him down as much and keep him healthy throughout the season. But one can only hope.  

For those of you cheering for teams that have to go up against the Rangers lineup, well I apologize because that offense is going to produce A LOT of runs and Nelson Cruz will be in the heart of that lineup. And to those of you that picked up Cruz for your fantasy baseball team, you will be very happy with the results.