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March 20, 2002
The Daily Prospectus
Who? Never Heard of Him.Yesterday's column about rookies wasn't up two minutes when I got my first e-mail about it. The note was polite, informative, and caused me to bang my head quite violently upon my desk.
I'd left out Hank Blalock.
Look, I'd love to claim I have some inside information that tells me Blalock can't be AL Rookie of the Year. Unfortunately, I don't. The guy is a stud. He's our #1 prospect--no, the BP curse is not why he didn't make the column--and part of a ridiculous wave of third basemen hitting baseball's shores right about now.
What happened was that yesterday's column had been kicking around my hard drive for about three weeks, time enough for Blalock to go from great prospect with an ETA of 2003 to possible Rangers starter at third base. The guy can flat-out rake, and playing in Arlington, is capable of putting up numbers this year that would make him a runaway winner of top rookie honors. When I pulled up the piece to polish it, I just didn't think to add him. I'd named Sean Burroughs and Eric Hinske as Rookie of the Year favorites in an ESPN.com chat session a few weeks back, and built the column around those choices.
For what it's worth, I'll stand by those, even with Blalock in the mix. Hinske is probably a better bet to keep and hold his job, because the situation in Toronto will allow him to go 6-for-46 and stay in The Show, If Blalock has a slump, the Rangers are unlikely to wait it out, and they have an assortment of guys--Mike Lamb, Herb Perry, Frank Catalanotto--to play third base. He's eventually going to have a fine career, but like I said yesterday, some of the best players to come out of a rookie crop don't win the Rookie of the Year Award. Blalock will be one of those.
That said, he should have been in the column. I just vapor-locked. Sorry, guys. For penance, I'll watch a tape of last week's UNC-Wilmington/USC game.
On second thought, maybe I'll just cut off a finger.
Mat Olkin of Baseball Weekly has contributed to the last two editions of Baseball Prospectus. Most people know Olkin from his days at Stats, Inc., or his weekly "Mat at Bat" column in McWeekly. He knows the game, and has a sharp writing style that I find very entertaining.
In addition to that work, Olkin now puts out an annual, the Baseball Examiner. In it, he provides thumbnail sketches of every major-league team, plus MLEs and comments for about 150 young major leaguers and top prospects.
The Baseball Examiner is not a comprehensive resource, and it doesn't try to be. Statistics are combined, so that Adam Dunn's 2001 season is a one-line entry, not a three-line one. Additionally, all the player comments are about hitters, not pitchers, although Olkin has plenty to say about pitchers on the team pages.
I highly recommend this book, not because Olkin is one of "our" guys, but because it's an entertaining piece of work, one that makes a great companion to BP. If you'd like to get a copy, check out www.matolkin.com.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here.