On today’s episode of Effectively Wild, Sam Miller and I responded to Tony Gwynn’s untimely passing by discussing some of our favorite statistical fun facts from the Hall of Famer’s one-of-a-kind career. One of Sam’s was Gwynn’s 1981 batting average in 99 plate appearances at Double-A Amarillo: .462 (42-for-91). Yes, that’s a small sample, but consider the kicker that makes it even more impressive: The 21-year-old Gwynn was in his first professional season. Drafted in June, he’d hit .331/.406/.612 in 42 games for Walla Walla in the Low-A Northwest League before being bumped up to the Texas League.
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.
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A look at four players who have had an interesting physical journey through their career.
Have you ever looked at a player's listed weight and laughed, wondering just how he could expect us to believe that it was true? Or maybe looked back at a player's career and wondered how exactly he went from that svelte 20-year-old body to that vastly different 35-year-old body?
Listed below are four players who have had an interesting physical journey throughout their playing careers. Using the official height and weight stats found on the back of their year-to-year baseball cards, I've traced each player's physical changes from his debut to his final year. It's not surprising to see obvious discrepancies between the official and actual weights, but it is enlightening to see them side-by-side. We'll never get complete and honest weights (and heights) from ballplayers; at the very least, then, we should try and recognize how we're being fooled.
Padres fans have constant reminders of past failures and rebuilds as their team attempts to field a winner.
When Padres Vice Chairman & CEO Jeff Moorad recently tried to accelerate full transfer of ownership from John Moores to Moorad's group, the other MLB owners balked; Commissioner Bud Selig cited a need for “more clarity and technical information.” Moorad and his partners, who previously owned the Arizona Diamondbacks, purchased the Padres in February 2009. They were given “as long as five years to buy out the controlling interest” from Moores, who had owned the Padres since December 1994.
The two chief causes of this setback appear to be that:
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.
Some spring training playing time battles in the outfield appear to be coming to an end.
I’m pinch-hitting for Rob McQuown this week on the outfielders beat, as he is busy performing more advanced calculations down in the BP server room than the guys at NASA. You don’t have to ask me twice who’s performing more of a public service.
More memories from a childhood's worth of ballplayers in Utah and Walla Walla.
Today we pick up where I left off last week in covering some of my favorite minor leaguers I saw in Salt Lake City, Utah (where I grew up) and Walla Walla, Washington (where my grandparents lived) during the late '70s and '80s. Some went on to have notable major-league careers, and one even reached Cooperstown. Others would earn less distinction, though they retain my considerable affection.
One left fielder on this year's Hall of Fame ballot clearly deserves induction.
Among the 19 holdovers on the Baseball Writers Association of America's 2011 Hall of Fame ballot, no player clears the JAWS standard at his position by a higher margin than Tim Raines—not Bert Blyleven, not Barry Larkin, and not Roberto Alomar, all of whom the system shows as being more than worthy of election. 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.
The Dodgers' first baseman doesn't hit a lot of home runs but he drives in a quite a few runs.
James Loney is somewhat of an odd player. Despite hitting .321/.372/.543 in 486 plate appearances across the 2006 and 2007 seasons for the Dodgers, his power output has resembled that of Placido Polanco lately. While a short supply of power isn’t always a death blow to success at first base, it usually means that the top notchiest of defensive ability is required to make up the difference. Loney realistically doesn’t fit that bill either. He might be smooth with the glove, and he might not have a glaring weakness such as Ryan Howard’s inability to throw a baseball, but it isn’t as if we’re talking about the first-base equivalent of Franklin Gutierrez or Jack Wilson here. Despite the shortcomings in his game, there is one area in which Loney has excelled, even if it is a stat kept only in my strange head: the ratio of RBI to home runs.
In 2008, Loney hit just 13 home runs but knocked in 90 runners. Last season, he did the exact same thing by launching 13 dingers and plating 90 runners. This season, he appears to be on pace for very similar numbers, as he hasnine home runs and 80 RBI. Recording that many RBI with so few home runs is one of those jarring parts on a batting line. It doesn’t really tell us anything revolutionary about a player, but it looks off, just like when an on-base percentage exceeds its slugging counterpart. A disproportionate number of RBI relative to home runs might suggest that we are dealing with more of a slap hitter who happens to come up with runners on very frequently, and if he were to be moved down in the order the ratio might decline. After all, Loney continues to bat in the middle of the order even if Martin Prado can out-homer him.