Every player's first hit is special, but some players' first hits are dumb and stupid.
There are certain things in baseball that are just always the same. Player gets his first big-league hit. Somebody tosses the ball to the first- or third-base coach, who rolls it into the dugout. If a teammate picks it up before the bat boy does, he’ll pretend to flip the ball into the crowd. The teammates will scuff up a ball and pretend that it is the one going on the player’s mantle. Predictable stuff that makes you realize how much of your life you’ve spent watching baseball, and perhaps how much you hate it.
There are details that vary, though. Like when Irving Falu got his first hit, as he was running to third base, there was a shot of his family. There was a shot of his mother, joyful, sitting near a man who is, I have concluded, not at all:
Michael doesn’t add anyone to this week’s VP list but makes up for it with a heaping helping o’ Playing Pepper and an in-depth look at BP’s PITCHf/x card for Luke Scott.
One of the reasons players linger longer on the waiver wire at this point in the season can be traced to their season line. A weak start can sandbag a player’s stats, and less-than-careful owners can overlook improvements by only looking at the bottom line. That’s the best explanation for the lower ownership rates for some of my VPs this week, who are all performing well of late despite weak overall lines.
Remembering the late Don Mincher with a look back at the second part of his BP interview from last year.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
First baseman Don Mincher died on Sunday at age 73. In his memory, we're re-running David Laurila's two-part interview with him, which originally ran as a two-part "Prospectus Q&A" column on January and 11th and 12th, 2011.
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.
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.
The new JAWS runs up against players from the Steroid Era to determine their Hall worthiness.
As with comedy, timing is everything in baseball. "Hitting is timing," Hall of Famer Warren Spahn said famously, finishing the thought with the complementary observation, "Pitching is upsetting timing." A good chunk of both the game's traditional and advanced statistics, the ones that we spurn and those that we celebrate, owe plenty to being the right man in the right place at the right time—wins, saves, and RBI from the former camp, leverage, run expectancy, and win expectancy from the latter. ERA owes everything to the sequence of events. For better or worse, MVP votes are won and lost on the timing of a player's productivity, or at least the perception of it that comes with being labeled "clutch." Timing is a major part of how we measure the game, so it should matter when we look over the course of a player's career in evaluating his fitness for the Hall of Fame.
Only one middle infielder passes the revamped JAWS' standards for Hall of Fame induction.
The past year has been a great one for JAWS, the Hall of Fame evaluation system whose creation marked my first contribution to Baseball Prospectus back in 2004 (I didn't name it until the next go-round). In 2011, two overly qualified candidates for whom I've advocated for the better part of a decade were finally elected. In January, Bert Blylevenreceived 79.7 percentof the Baseball Writers of America vote, becoming the first player ever to gain entry on his 14th ballot. In December, the late Ron Santoreceived 93.8 percent of the vote from the Golden Era committee, a bittersweet result given his passing just a year ago but a vindication of what we've known here for years, that he too was worthy of a bronze plaque.