Few players have made their major-league debuts in the cleanup spot, and the A's Yoenis Cespedes wasn't one of them.
Yoenis Cespedes has often batted third or fourth in the Oakland A’s lineup this spring, which isn’t surprising, because the A’s don’t otherwise have anything like a cleanup hitter. Of the other eight players in their starting lineup for Wednesday morning’s opener against the Mariners, only three players have ever started a game batting fourth: Kurt Suzuki (60 times), Seth Smith (nine), and Brandon Allen (once). If Cespedes doesn’t lead the Oakland A’s in home runs this year, something will have gone very wrong or very right. But it was Smith, not Cespedes, who batted fourth against Felix Hernandez in the opener, and this also isn’t surprising, because players making their major-league debuts in the cleanup spot are all but extinct. Since 1980, just nine players have made their debuts in the cleanup spot, and over the past half-dozen years only one player—29-year-old Barbaro Canizares—has. San Jose Mercury News:
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Tim Raines has his case re-examined, and the remainder of the Hall ballot gets a look.
We all have our pet projects. With the graduations of Bert Blyleven and Ron Santo to the Hall of Fame, mine is now Tim Raines. 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. Yet in four years on the ballot, he's reached just 37.5 percent of the vote, exactly half of what he needs to reach Cooperstown.
More memories from a childhood's worth of ballplayers in Utah and Walla Walla.
Today we pick up where I left off last week in covering some of my favorite minor leaguers I saw in Salt Lake City, Utah (where I grew up) and Walla Walla, Washington (where my grandparents lived) during the late '70s and '80s. Some went on to have notable major-league careers, and one even reached Cooperstown. Others would earn less distinction, though they retain my considerable affection.
A look at the first basemen on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Having kicked off this year's JAWS series with the starting pitchers, today we turn our attention to the first basemen, a slate which includes the ballot's best newcomer as well as its most controversial first-timer, and a few holdovers who aren't going anywhere for entirely different reasons.
The Yankees look to get back to yet another World Series while the Rangers are in uncharted territory.
From 1996 through 1999, the Joe Torre-led Yankees and the Johnny Oates-piloted Rangers faced off in three American League Division Series, the first three times the latter franchise had ever reached the postseason. The Yankees won nine of those 10 games, holding the Rangers to a lone run apiece in their 1998 and 1999 sweeps. Times have changed, however, and while the Yankee machine has simply kept rolling, racking up four pennants and two world championships while missing the playoffs just once since their last meeting, the Rangers endured a dark decade before reemerging as AL West champions thanks to the shrewd deal making of general manager Jon Daniels and the fruits of their well-stocked farm system.
Sorting through the available mercenaries in the outfield and behind the dish.
There are lots of free-agent catchers and outfielders, many of whom provide little or no bang for the buck. Again, these players are listed roughly in order of what I see as their chance of providing value for the contract they'll sign.
Two of the all-time greats in the dugout square off with the benefit of some of two of the most famous sluggers on the field.
Were it not for a 2-8 swoon over the Cardinals' final 10 games, the NL Division Series matchup between the Dodgers and the Cards could lay claim to pitting the team with the hottest first-half record (the blue team) against the one with the hottest second-half record (the red team). As it is, St. Louis still won the Central by the largest margin of any NL division champion (7½ games), turning what was once a crowded four-team race into a laugher thanks to some timely in-season upgrades, most notably the July 24 trade which brought Matt Holliday from Oakland-a point after which the Cards did have the league's best record (39-25).
Is Joe Mauer's quest for another batting title really at risk because of his wearing down from catching?
During this year's All-Star Game, in the first inning as Joe Mauer came up to bat, and Tim McCarver wanted to emphasize to the viewers just how amazing Mauer's batting titles in 2006 and 2008 were, as well as his current production in 2009. McCarver said that one of the reasons that catchers don't win batting titles is because their batting average goes down late in the game with all of the bumps and bruises they get from donning the tools of ignorance. This seemed an interesting little theory from an ex-catcher that begged for some numbers to back it up. This comment also got me thinking about a potentially even larger issue: Does the wear and tear of playing at certain defensive positions on the field lead to reduced offensive production? Does this happens during the course of the game, and/or throughout the season?