We think about almost everything but baseball in base 10, but the national pastime stubbornly insists on a base 3 system. It doesn't have to be this way.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Zachary Levine, who somehow tricked an accredited university into giving him a mathematics degree, is in his third season covering the Astros for the Houston Chronicle. This is his second endeavor for Baseball Prospectus, the first being a conversation with Kevin and the Professor about shooting guns in Texas on Episode 49 of the Up and In podcast.
Barry Larkin earns his Hall call, but the major gains for multiple players shed new light on their Cooperstown prospects.
That Barry Larkin is headed to Cooperstown is not the big surprise of the 2012 Hall of Fame voting, the results of which were announced on Monday afternoon. As the top holdover (he received 62.1 percent of the vote last year) on a ballot with no overwhelming first-time candidates, and a deserving candidate on both the traditional and sabermetric fronts, he was well-positioned to close the deal. With 86.4 percent of the vote, he cleared the 75 percent bar easily, and will join the family of Ron Santo at the induction ceremony on July 22, 2012.
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While Tim Wakefield limped to his 200th win, Mariano Rivera continued his string of excellence.
Tuesday night was a momentous one as far as forty-something pitchers earning round-numbered career milestones of questionable significance go. In Boston, Tim Wakefieldwobbled but didn't fall down, earning career win number 200. Hours later and about 2,500 miles away in Seattle, Mariano Rivera earned his 600th career save. Wakefield labored to become the 108th pitcher to reach his plateau, while Rivera looked almost effortless in becoming just the second pitcher to reach his, but neither accomplishment changes how those venerable hurlers should be viewed in the context of history.
Is Chipper Jones a greater switch-hitter than Eddie Murray and Pete Rose?
A little over a week ago I wrote an article on switch-hitters, focusing on a simple question: Do we evaluate switch-hitters based on their self-platoon split, or based on overall numbers regardless of the split? A case can be made for each side, as those in the self-platoon camp would argue that a good switch-hitter should be able to produce from both sides of the plate. These advocates certainly wouldn’t consider someone like Gary Matthews Jr. a solid switch-hitter, as his numbers are terrible even if his split is small. On the other side of the spectrum, it also makes sense that the best switch-hitter would be the best hitter who happens to bat from both sides of the plate. Mark Teixeira might favor one side more than the other, but his numbers from each side are far and away superior to the league average. The differentiation would be whether switch-hitting is considered a niche in which a separate definition applies. Can a good switch-hitter be a relatively underwhelming overall hitter?
The Pirates' hitting coach talks about Jeff Clement, Pedro Alvarez, and what it means to be athletic in the box.
Don Long has no shortage of projects in Pittsburgh. Entrusted to tutor a lineup that bears little resemblance to The Lumber Company, the Pirates hitting coach has both a lot of building and rebuilding on his daily docket. There are promising young bats to nurture and at least as many reclamation projects that will either thrive or wither under his tutelage. It is a tall task for Long, who assumed his current position in November 2007 after spending eight years as the minor-league hitting coordinator for the Phillies and 11 more as a manager in the Angels' organization. Long sat down with Baseball Prospectus during spring training.
With milestones, it's a case of the player and the context of his feat, not just one or the other.
Today, tomorrow, Sunday…sometime soon, Manny Ramirez is going to turn on a pitch, yank it deep into the left-field seats, and set off a celebration. Over in the National League, Ken Griffey, Jr. will uncoil that long swing and do much the same. Each is on the brink of a round-number milestone-500 homers for Ramirez, 600 for Griffey Jr.-that set our base-ten-lovin' hearts pumpin'.
A number of hitters come into '08 with significant round numbers in their sights.
Each new season brings us a new batch of individual milestones, and the 2008 campaign will be no exception. With that in mind, let's take a look at which offensive milestones have realistic chances of being met during 2008, and see what sort of entertainment that promises within the season. (Next time out, I'll take a look at the pitching benchmarks that might be reached this year.)