In case you missed Mike Fast's extraordinary research into quantifying the heretofore hidden contributions of catchers, we're moving it back to the top of the list for the weekend.
I Was Framed Catchers play a central role in the game of baseball through their involvement with every pitch that their pitchers throw. One of their key tasks is receiving borderline pitches without discouraging the umpire from calling strikes.
Who tops the charts as the best Hall-enshrined double-play duo in history?
Buoyed by the occasion of Bert Blyleven's election, I had hoped to make the trip to Cooperstown to attend this year's Hall of Fame inductions for the first time. The dream died when my ride backed out, and so I settled for watching Pat Gillick, Roberto Alomar, and Blyleven reap their reward on television, in front of an estimated crowd of 17,500 on a clear, warm day. It was still a joy to behold, not only the three inductees' speeches but also the introductory videos, with Sandy Alomar Jr. narrating his brother's clips—which included as good a defensive highlight reel as you'll see this side of Ozzie Smith—and Jim Kaat narrating Blyleven's. To these ears, the Dutchman's speech was the funniest and therefore the most memorable, but all three had their poignant moments, with the first two more visibly overwhelmed by the emotion of the occasion.
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Reviewing the best and worst first-half position players on each team.
In the numerical sense, the halfway point of the season arrived about a week ago. However, the All-Star break marks the arbitrary end point of the first half, bringing a few days of festivities and vacations to the forefront. That period of inactivity in games that matter offers a window into the frozen stats for each team, allowing us to see who is leading the charge and who is failing the team so far.
In order to determine who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, I’ll enlist the aid of the Wins Above Replacement metric. Next time, we’ll cover the pitchers, but for today, it’s all about the position players.
As bad as any team in more than half a century, that's how bad, and even Albus McKeon Dumbledore won't fix 'em.
The Marlins are in the midst of one of the worst months of baseball in more than a half-century. The team has won only three of its last 22 games, including only one win in the month of June. No Marlins team has ever finished with fewer than six wins in a month with at least 15 games. Even the terrible 1998 Marlins, the stripped team that followed the first World Series in the franchise's history, never finished with fewer than seven wins in a single month.
The Fish are owners of what is currently the worst mark in any one calendar month by any one NL East team since 1950:
Due to reader response, the annotated list continues with 21st through 31st best seasons of all time, featuring Mike Piazza, Ernie Banks, and more third basemen of the 1970s.
Our collection of BP-flavored single-season WARP scores currently goes back to 1950. Now that we’ve added fielding runs to the sortable choices, you can easily see the combination of offense and defense that made the top players during this period so valuable, and in some cases dragged them down from even higher perches.
On Monday, I used the newly revised list to take a look at the top 20 seasons of the last 60 years. Due to reader enthusiasm and the fact that I find this kind of thing to be tremendous fun, I’ve expanded the scope to include the top 50, continuing today with the player-seasons that rank 21 through 31.
21. Frank Robinson, OF, 1966: 11.0
Robinson, newly arrived with the Baltimore Orioles after the Reds called him “an old 30,” won the triple crown, joining Mickey Mantle ’56 and Carl Yastrzemski ’67 in the top 50. He picked up a unanimous MVP award, Given how much grief the voters have deservedly taken over the years, it’s reassuring to see how many of these great seasons have won. Of the top 11, the voters rewarded all but three, and one of those was Sammy Sosa's ’01, who the voters passed over in favor of Barry Bonds' ’01, which was even better. Here are the other occasions to this point in the rankings where the voters failed to reward one of the 20 best seasons in history:
Based on reader feedback from the first base review, I’ll tackle second base a little differently. The setup will be more like last year, but with auction values listed as well. This is not what they were paid for at auction, but is what they were worth during the 2010 season. This should shed some light on how much I missed for players I missed on, though, as always, the reasoning behind why there was a miss is more important than the miss itself. The dollar values come from John Burnson’s Graphical Player 2011, and are for mixed leagues.
Note: For some reason I organized the players alphabetically within tiers. Whoever told me that was a poor idea back in 2010, thanks. Here is a link to last season’s second base rankings.
Wrapping up a look at the players on the Hall of Fame ballot by examining the careers of closers John Franco and Lee Smith.
With my winter crunch work for the Baseball Prospectus annual and this JAWS series drawing to an end, I'm bleary-eyed, having delivered something on the order of 21,000 words on the topic of this year's Hall of Fame ballot over the past two weeks. Yet among the 33 players on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, one position remains unaddressed thus far: relievers. Mercifully, just two of them are on the ballot, holdover Lee Smith and newcomer John Franco. Does either measure up?
PITCHf/x shows that Tim Lincecum is in the midst of making a transition.
On the first day of September, Tim Lincecum dominated the Rockies, allowing just one run over eight innings. He walked one batter and tallied nine strikeouts. This was the prototypical Lincecum game in the previous two seasons and one that would produce more, “yeah, that looks about right” reactions than anything else. After all, Lincecum was a strikeout machine with impeccable control and a devastating fastball-curveball-changeup repertoire that kept hitters off-kilter. He won, and deserved, two straight National League Cy Young awards and was presumably not even at what would normally be considered a pitcher's peak. The 2010 season has been of a different variety for “The Freak,” however, and his great performance against the Rockies elicited a different reaction—a collective sigh of relief from the Giants’ faithful. See, at a very crucial juncture with the wild card within reach and the NL West seemingly up for grabs, Giants fans were more worried than confident that their ace would deliver the goods.