Ichiro Suzuki's major-league career has been great, but, because of where he was born, it will be short. Will it be enough for Hall of Fame voters?
Despite what has been a tremendous week for Ichiro Suzuki (he hit .533/.563/.867 from September 19th to 24th), there's been understandable speculation that one of baseball's most iconic figures is coming toward the end of the line. Not that he has to, but if he retires at the end of the year, Ichiro will finish somewhere north of 2600 hits in 12 Major League seasons, with two batting titles, the single-season record for hits, in excess of 450 stolen bases, 10 (consecutive) Gold Gloves and All-Star appearances, a Rookie of the Year award and an AL MVP. It's a short but storied MLB career, and it's going to lead to a lot of questions about whether Ichiro belongs in the Hall of Fame.
There's no doubt that, at his peak, Ichiro was a Hall of Fame-level talent. The problem, of course, is that his career in the majors began when he was 27. If he retired this year, Ichiro would finish with fewer than 2000 games. Historically, the Hall of Fame has found a place for players with short careers. Indeed, 48 players who played the majority of their careers in the 20th and 21st centuries have made the HOF despite finishing below that playing time threshold. These players even include inner circle Hall of Famers like Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Robinson, Arky Vaughan, Hank Greenberg and Home Run Baker.
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What kind of production do teams receive from players tabbed to replace superstars?
Earlier this week, Mariano Rivera arrived at the Yankees' spring training facility in Tampa, Florida, and caused a stir by strongly hinting that the 2012 season would be his final one. The 42-year-old, who has served as the Yankees’ closer since 1997, has shown no signs of slippage, with four straight seasons of ERAs under 2.00 backed by stellar peripherals—strikeout and walk rates better than his career numbers, even—and high save totals. Late last season, he surpassed Trevor Hoffman as the all-time saves leader, and with five World Series rings in hand, the only real challenge that remains is for him to convince manager Joe Girardi to allow him a cameo in center field.
Sabermetricians are often accused of not enjoying the game of baseball and instead just caring about the numbers. But it's entirely possible to love both. And in the best case scenario, the numbers can help us even further appreciate our enjoyment of the game.
Geoff Young recently used a BP Unfiltered post to come clean about his unrequited man crush on David Eckstein, setting off a wonderful comment thread in which readers described the players that they consider "guilty pleasures" - those that may not be stars, but are fun to watch nonetheless. Reading through the comments, I was struck by the many different types of players that can catch a fan's fancy, but one variety seemed to be particularly popular: The Little Guy. Maybe it's the David vs. Goliath matchup of the smaller batter versus the hulking pitcher that appeals to us; maybe we just identify with a more normal-seeming scale of player; in any case, shorter players seem to have some level of curb appeal that can't be explained by their stats.
A conversation with as diehard a baseball fan as they come, one who also happens to be one of America's great voices in sports. UPDATED 11/7 with a transcript.
If you've watched sports in the last 25 years, you know who Bob Costas is. Bob sits down with Will to talk about the place of baseball in the American psyche, from Jackie Robinson to Mickey Mantle to Barry Bonds. Costas has a unique perspective reaching from coming up with the classic Cardinals and Yankees to today's global era. Join us for a special BPR with one of the biggest names in sports, Bob Costas.
Has the guessing game over who used what when gone too far?
Every time I do a chat aroud this time of year, when small sample sizes encourage people to leap to conclusions, I get a couple of questions like these (names have been changed to protect those who have lost their innocence):
Baseball says goodbye to Kirby Puckett, David Wells doesn't think much of Bud Selig, Carl Everett sounds off about his former team, and Tony Womack feels slighted.
"This is a sad day for the Minnesota Twins, Major League Baseball and baseball fans everywhere. Eloise and I loved Kirby deeply. Kirby's impact on the Twins organization, State of Minnesota and Upper Midwest is significant and goes well beyond his role in helping the Twins win two World Championships. A tremendous teammate, Kirby will always be remembered for his never-ending hustle, infectious personality, trademark smile and commitment to the community. There will never be another 'Puck'." --Twins owner Carl Pohlad, on former Twin Kirby Puckett's passing away on Monday (MLB.com)
Belle was a great player at his peak whose career was on a Cooperstown
trajectory until it was tragically cut short due to a medical condition
basically unrelated to baseball playing. Sound familiar? Do you feel a
sympathy vote coming on? Anyone think he'll get the same Hall of Fame
consideration as the ever-popular Kirby Puckett?