Which teams that were on the verge of contention last year could use a "level up" option around the diamond?
Complacency in the face of adversity is the potential undoing of every manager and general manager. For reasons rooted in issues beyond a player's recent performance—contract size, longer-term track record, clubhouse chemistry—skippers and GMs all too often fail to make the moves that could help their teams, allowing subpar production to fester until it kills a club's post-season hopes. In 2007, I compiled a historical all-star squad of ignominy for our pennant race book, It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over, identifying players at each position whose performances had dragged their teams down in tight races: the Replacement-Level Killers. The concept has become a semiannual tradition for me to revisit, first in the weeks leading up to the tradedeadline, and again as the opening of spring training approaches, with an eye toward what teams can do, or have done, to solve such potentially fatal problems.
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Who makes the Hall of Fame cut when faced against the Keltner Test and JAWS?
On Friday, I unveiled the catcher and infielders on what I'm calling the Keltner All-Stars, the best eligible player at each position outside the Hall of Fame. The name comes from former Indians third baseman Ken Keltner, who inspired Bill James' Keltner Test, a set of 15 questions that can be used to frame a player’s Hall of Fame case. The basis of my choices isn't that test. Instead, I'm using JAWS.
Bernie Williams burned it up with the Yankees during his career, but did the Puerto Rican do enough to blaze a trail to the Hall?
Before Derek Jeter, there was Bernie Williams. As the Yankees emerged from a barren stretch of 13 seasons without a trip to the playoffs from 1982-1994, and a particularly abysmal stretch of four straight losing seasons from 1989-1992, their young switch-hitting center fielder stood as a symbol for the franchise's resurgence. For too long, the Yankees had drafted poorly, traded away what homegrown talent they produced for veterans, and signed pricey free agents to fill the gaps as part of George Steinbrenner's eternal win-now directive. But with Steinbrennerbanned by commissioner Fay Vincent and the Yankees' day-to-day baseball operations in the hands of Gene Michael, promising youngsters were allowed to develop unimpeded.
Redefining the JAWS equation sets a new standard for Hall of Fame induction.
This time of year is a busy stretch if you're a Hall of Fame buff, or at least this particular Hall of Fame buff. The 2012 BBWAA ballot was released on Wednesday, adding 13 new candidates to the 14 holdovers from last year's ballot. I'll start digging into the details of those candidacies starting at some point late next week. Meanwhile, the vote on the Golden Era candidates will take place at the Winter Meetings in Dallas this coming Monday, December 5; alas, I think I’m actually going to be in the air when the results are announced, but I’ll weigh in upon arrival. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to discuss some of the Golden Era candidates on television as part of my debut appearance on MLB Network's new show, “Clubhouse Confidential.” It wasn't my first time on TV, but I believe it was my first time discussing JAWS in that medium. Explaining the system concisely AND discussing the merits of a handful of candidates in a four-minute span was certainly a challenge, but host Brian Kenny and his producers seemed quite pleased with the segment, and there’s reason to believe that it won't be the last time I appear on the show.
After a brief stop near the Golden Gate, Carlos Beltran finds himself looking for a new baseball home.
The doozy of a headscratcher that was Monday's Melky Cabrera/Jonathan Sanchez swap between the Royals and the Giants raised more questions than it answered. One of them—beyond "You woke me for this?"—is, "What does this mean for Carlos Beltran?" In recent weeks, it was thought that the Giants would work to retain the 34-year-old (35 on April 24) right fielder, whom they acquired from the Mets back on July 28, but the Melkman's delivery casts doubt upon that.
One Hall of Fame-caliber outfielder is taking his act to the Bay area, while a questionable Hall case may be looking at his release papers.
The Carlos Beltran era of Mets history came to an unceremonious end on Thursday, when the Mets and Giants agreed on a trade that that sent the resurgent slugger to the Bay Area in exchange for pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. On his way out of town, Beltran has been cast as a symbol of the Omar Minaya regime's failures; as news of the trade broke, more than one national writer returned to his 2006 National League Championship Series-ending strikeout as a frozen moment that defines not only his legacy in Queens, but also some weakness of character. Hardly a farewell befitting a Hall of Fame-caliber player.
B.J. Upton and Colby Rasmus had sky-high ceilings as prospects, but their up-and-down performances in the majors has led them to the trading block.
The July 31 trading deadline traditionally turns the spotlight on pending free agents that can shore up a contender's roster for the stretch run. Carlos Beltran and Hiroki Kuroda are the belles of the quick-fix ball this year, and if they don't sound tremendously enticing, it helps explain why so much talk is focused elsewhere, on younger and more affordable players still under club control. Ubaldo Jimenez and Hunter Pence fit that bill, even if their respective teams' willingness to trade them is something of a head-scratcher. More puzzling is how B.J. Upton and Colby Rasmus have arrived at this juncture, particularly given the big things projected for them just a few years ago. On the other hand, maybe that explains exactly why they're here.
The Mets' outfield swap of Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan represents creative roster reshuffling, but such positional swaps are nothing new.
In an offseason packed with turmoil and turnover but bereft of big-money acquisitions, the Mets made one high-profile on-field move by swapping Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan in the outfield. Even though Beltran still feels that he could play center, he offered to move to right field to save his knees and supplement his offense at the risk of losing defensive value:
The Duke of Flatbush departs the stage, but not without leaving his mark on the game, a city, and an era.
On Sunday, the baseball world learned of the passing of Duke Snider, who made his name for the Brooklyn Dodgers at a time when New York was the center of the baseball world, with its three teams each boasting a future Hall of Fame center fielder. "Snider, Mantle, and Mays," wrote the great Red Smith. "You could get a fat lip in any saloon by starting an argument as to which was best.”
This is a review of my 2010 center field rankings. This time around, not only will we use auction values for mixed leagues, but also the dollar value for AL- and NL-only leagues. These dollar values come from Graphical Player 2011, and I think these will do a good job illustrating how much I missed by on the players I missed, though, broken record style, the why is more important than the result when it comes to these rankings. All PECOTA projections, dollar values and statistics in the parentheses are from 2010.
One left fielder on this year's Hall of Fame ballot clearly deserves induction.
Among the 19 holdovers on the Baseball Writers Association of America's 2011 Hall of Fame ballot, no player clears the JAWS standard at his position by a higher margin than Tim Raines—not Bert Blyleven, not Barry Larkin, and not Roberto Alomar, all of whom the system shows as being more than worthy of election. During his 23-year major league career, Raines combined the virtues of a keen batting eye, dazzling speed and all-around athleticism with a cerebral approach that made him an electrifying performer and a dangerous offensive weapon.
The positions and the players who did the most to take the life out of their team's lineups.
In a playoff hunt, every edge matters, yet all too often, for reasons rooted in issues beyond a player's statistics, managers and GMs fail to make the moves that could help their teams, allowing subpar production to fester until it kills a club's post-season hopes. Back in 2007, I wrote a chapter for our pennant race book, It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over, in which I compiled a historical all-star squad of ignominy, identifying players at each position whose performances had dragged their teams down in tight races: the Replacement-Level Killers. It's a concept that's been revisited here at Baseball Prospectus, both by myself and my colleagues, usually in-season, with an eye towards what a team can do to solve such potentially fatal problems.