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April 22, 2004 12:00 am

Hank Aaron's Home Cooking

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Jay Jaffe

It's been a couple of weeks since the 30th anniversary of Hank Aaron's historic 715th home run and the accompanying tributes, but Barry Bonds' exploits tend to keep the top of the all-time chart in the news. With homers in seven straight games and counting at this writing, Bonds has blown past Willie Mays at number three like the Say Hey Kid was standing still, which--

Baseball Prospectus' Dayn Perry penned an affectionate tribute to Aaron last week. In reviewing Hammerin' Hank's history, he notes that Aaron's superficially declining stats in 1968 (the Year of the Pitcher, not coincidentally) led him to consider retirement, but that historian Lee Allen reminded him of the milestones which lay ahead. Two years later, Aaron became the first black player to cross the 3,000 hit threshold, two months ahead of Mays. By then he was chasing 600 homers and climbing into some rarefied air among the top power hitters of all time.

Aaron produced plenty of late-career homer heroics after 1968. From ages 35 (1969) through 39, he smacked 203 dingers, and he added another 42 in his 40s, meaning that nearly a third of his homers (32.4 percent) came after age 35. The only batters other than Aaron to top 200 homers after 35 are Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro.

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January 9, 2004 12:00 am

Dominican Winter League Report

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Carlos J. Lugo

Playoffs Update After the first five games of the Round Robin, the surprising Cibao Giants are in first place with 4 wins and 1 loss. The Aguilas follows with 3 and 2, Licey is 2 and 3, and Azucareros is 1 and 4. The Tigers won their first two games, but lost two consecutive against the Aguilas over the weekend, in front of full crowds at Santo Domingo and Santiago. Monday's game at Santiago was a typical classic of these two powerhouses. The Aguilas scored seven runs in the first inning against Randy Keisler and Wilton Chavez, but Licey proceeded to score 10 unanswered runs to take a three-run lead. D'Angelo Jimenez hit a three-run homer off Brett Laxton to crown a five-run rally in the fifth inning, putting the Tigers ahead. Unfortunately for the Tigers, their defense failed miserably in the last two innings, and the Aguilas scored five runs to win the game 12-11. Jimenez went from hero to goat when he botched a groundball for a potential game-ending double play in the ninth, and after a strike out to pinch-hitter Felix Martinez, Victor Diaz followed with a walk-off two-run double off Guillermo Mota to leave the Tigers on the field. The Tigers have now lost their last three games while the Aguilas have won their last three.

The long-suffering fans of the Estrellas de Oriente experienced yet another frustration when their ballclub was eliminated for the postseason on the last day of December. The Estrellas were almost out of contention with eight games remaining in the regular season, but suddenly the team caught fire and went on to win five consecutive games, including a both ends of a double-header against the Azucareros on the road, which tied them for fourth place--putting them just one game behind the third place Giants. But the Estrellas were quickly back in fifth place the following day after losing a key game against the Aguilas in Santiago, 10-2, while the Azucareros and Gigantes won their respective ones. The Estrellas needed a victory on their own and a loss from the Azucareros against Licey to force a tiebreaker, but although the former was accomplished (they beat the already qualified Gigantes 14-10) the Azucareros beat Licey 4-0 to clinch the last playoff berth.

The Estrellas had a much better Pythagorean record than the Azucareros (25 projected wins against 20) but the Azucareros benefited from 10 wins in 13 games decided by one run, while the Estrellas had a more realistic 9-9 record on such games.

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January 6, 2004 12:00 am

The Class of 2004

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Jay Jaffe

With the 2004 STATLG-L Hall of Fame balloting now in the books, and the results of the BBWAA voting slated to be released this afternoon, there are few topics more prominent in baseball fans' minds than "Which players will make it to Cooperstown in 2004?" And rightfully so. Enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame is the highest honor a former-player can receive, and most fans are protective of that: a fact that has spurned countless heated debates over the years--rational, objective, and otherwise. With that being said, I thought it would interesting to see what some of Baseball Prospectus' newly updated measures of player evaluation had to say on the topic. For the uninitiated, BP's Davenport Translated Player Cards measure a player's value above replacement level for offense, defense, and pitching while adjusting for context--park effects, level of offense, era, length of season, and in Clay's own words, "the distortions caused by not having to face your own team's defense." The Davenport Cards offer the most sophisticated statistical summaries available; if you can adjust for it, it's in there. The basic currencies of the Davenport system, whether it's offense, defense, or pitching, are runs and wins, more specifically, runs above replacement level and wins above replacement level.

With the 2004 STATLG-L Hall of Fame balloting now in the books, and the results of the BBWAA voting slated to be released this afternoon, few topics are more prominent in baseball fans' minds than "Which players will make it to Cooperstown in 2004?"

And rightfully so. Enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame is the highest honor a former-player can receive, and most fans are protective of that: a fact that has spurned countless heated debates over the years--rational, objective, and otherwise.

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Fresh from a Memorial Day breather, Prospectus Triple Play returns with a double edition. BP looks at the happenings and trends for six big-league teams: the White Sox, Astros, Brewers, A's, Cardinals, and Rangers.

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Last day we'll deal with this, I promise.

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