Looking back at some of the quaint records broken in 1988.
Earlier this week, Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford set a club record by saving his 26th straight game for the club. Former mustachioed closer Doug Jones held the previous record for the Brewers, with a 25-game streak in 1997. As you may imagine, Jones' name got mentioned on Brewers' broadcasts in the days leading to the save more times than in the last 10+ years combined. Aside from making me wonder when Jones ever pitched for the Brewers (he'll always be an Indian in my mind), I didn't think too much of it.
Talking with friends of mine, though, it quickly became clear that not everyone remembers Jones at all, Indian or Brewer or Athletic alike. So I did what anyone would do - I went to Google and found an old Jones baseball card that featured his legendary 'stache so prominently. The card I chose was the 1989 Topps Record Breaker shown below. It doesn't have as close-up of a view as I was hoping, but it got the job done.
With the Hall of Fame announcement coming later today, Jay concludes JAWS' take on who should make it in by sizing up the pitchers.
We'll dispense with the introductory formalities (you can read last year's pieces here and here) and cut to the chase. As with the hitters, we'll consider career WARP and peak WARP--the adjusted for all time flavor, WARP3--with the latter defined as a pitcher's best seven years. Just as we eliminated the worst elected Hall of Famer at each position in determining the JAWS standards, we'll exclude a similar percentage of pitchers--four out of the 60, in this case. In examining these pitchers, we'll also use Pitching Runs Above Average (PRAA) because it forms a reasonable secondary measure for "peak" in conjunction with PRAR's "career" proxy. A pitcher with many PRAA but fewer PRAR likely had a high peak and a short career, while one with the same number of PRAA but more PRAR likely had a longer career. Although durability should not be confused with excellence, league average has value, as anybody who's ever suffered through a fifth starter's pummeling knows.
This year's pitching segment has one more wrinkle. On the advice of WARP creator Clay Davenport, the pitching portion of this year's edition of JAWS includes a downward adjustment for pitchers in the AL after 1973 to counteract the negative hitting contributions of their non-DH brethren. This prevents the system from overly favoring recent AL pitchers, but the consequence is that the career and peak JAWS scores won't match what you can pull from the DT pages on our site. I'd prefer the transparency, but in terms of evaluating the cases on the current ballot, the need for this "tax" wins out.
Jay suffers the exquisite torture of a Jeff Weaver-Kenny Rogers duel in Game Two of the World Series. Go along for a sometimes rocky but always informative ride.
From the second inning through the eighth, Anthony Reyes faced just one hitter over the minimum (a seventh-inning single by Carlos Guillen), retiring 17 batters in order and finishing the frame in 10 pitches or less five times. Ten of those 22 plate appearances ran just one or two pitches, and overall, Tiger hitters saw just 3.14 pitches per plate appearance against him. That's not a recipe for a productive approach at the plate. A simple matter of rust, or a reversion to the team's hacktastic regular-season approach? Tonight should provide us with more insight into that. It also, of course, provides us with an even more compelling storyline, what this Yankee fan will call the I [Heart] NY matchup between two Bronx busts, Kenny Rogers and Jeff Weaver.
With the election results to be announced tomorrow, Joe looks at who should go into the Hall of Fame--and who will.
Of the 14 new candidates, at least 10 are probably making their only appearance. Rick Aguilera, Gary DiSarcina, Alex Fernandez, Gary Gaetti, Ozzie Guillen, Gregg Jefferies, Doug Jones, Hal Morris, Walt Weiss and John Wetteland all had prominent places in the game in their time, winning awards, making All-Star teams and contributing to championships. None, however, even passes the sniff test for Hall of Fame consideration. Their inclusion on this ballot is an honor unto itself, one that will likely serve as the sole coda to their playing careers.
Jay continues his look at the new Hall of Fame ballot, this time turning his attention to the starting pitchers.
The starters would appear to have less hope these days. Spoiled by a group of contemporaries (Ryan, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro) who won 300 games from the mid-'60s to the mid-'80s, when the days of the four-man rotation dominated, the writers haven't elected a non-300-winning starter since Fergie Jenkins in 1991. Since then, they've made Niekro and Sutton sweat through a combined 10 ballots to gain entry, while Ryan curiously waltzed in with an all-time record percentage of the vote. In the days of the five-man rotation and the six-inning starter, we may not see another pitcher enshrined until Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux finally hang up their spikes, the presence of other worthy hurlers on the ballot be damned.
But despite this "Just Wins, Baby" rule of thumb that the writers appear to be following, the rest of us have learned that wins ain't all that. One of the great lessons of the sabermetric revolution is the idea that a pitcher doesn't have as much control over the outcome of ballgames (as reflected in his win and loss totals) or even individual at-bats (hits on balls in play) as he's generally given credit for. Good run support and good defense can make big winners of mediocre pitchers on good teams, and .500 pitchers of good hurlers on mediocre teams. As such, it's important to examine the things over which a pitcher has control and account for those he does not.
The Rangers have passed the Angels to take the lead in the AL West. Can we take them seriously?
That line was dropped in my inbox by Will Carroll, and is a fairly good summation of how I feel as well. This season has been flying by, perhaps accelerated by the faster games we're seeing as a result of fewer feet touching the plate (and, to my mind, the greater number of strikes being called).
Prospectus Q&A returns, as Jonah Keri talks to Rangers Assistant General Manager Jon Daniels about the new blood in major league front offices, the challenges of playing in a big hitter's park, and more.
After gaining experience working on draft history, park effects and other studies, the Rangers hired him as Assistant Baseball Operations Director in 2002. Promoted to Director of Baseball Operations when Dan O'Brien left the Rangers to take the Reds' General Manager job, Daniels then ascended to the role of Assistant General Manager last summer, solidifying his status as right-hand man to Rangers GM John Hart. Now one of the youngest AGMs in the game, Daniels' duties include contract negotiations and an array of broader strategic decisions. Daniels recently chatted with Baseball Prospectus about the new blood in major league front offices, the challenges of playing in a big hitter's park, and more.