While the average player peaks between the ages of 26 and 28, individuals have a great variety of career paths. Chaim Bloom takes a look at what happens to players who have big seasons before turning 24.
The Cardinals already had a fearsome lineup core. With the addition of Larry Walker, it’s now one of the best the game has ever seen. Eat your heart out, Miller Huggins.
Red Sox pitcher Charlie Zink is a rarity among pitchers: a 24-year-old knuckleballer. As a traditional pitcher in the Sally League, Zink put up a 1.68 ERA in relief in 2002 before the big club converted him to a full-time knuckleball pitcher. Zink posted a 3.90 ERA in High-A last year before improving on that with a 3.43 ERA in 39 innings at AA. This year, he cracked BP’s Top 50 Prospects list. We sat down with Zink last week before a road game against the New Britain Rock Cats, and asked him about life as one of baseball’s rarest breeds.
We still don’t understand how good Alex Rodriguez is. When he signed a $252 million, 10-year contract in December 2000, there were two prevalent reactions: “The sky is falling!” and “He’s really good, but Texas overpaid.” Still, you could argue that A-Rod was worth it at the time. The sky seemed the limit for salaries, and A-Rod at $25 million made a lot more sense than Manny Ramirez at $20 million or Derek Jeter at $19 million. Since the new CBA was signed in 2002 though, the market has corrected itself, and the days of the $20 million contract are over, no matter what Vladimir Guerrero’s agent thinks. In the new market, you’d think A-Rod can’t possibly be worth $25 million a year, no matter how well he plays. You can sign two A-list studs for that kind of money now, not just one plus Darren Oliver. So is A-Rod worth the money now?
Rickey’s back. The Dodgers are 49-44, three and a half games out of the Wild Card, but if their pitching were as bad as their offense they’d be the worst team in the majors. Paul Lo Duca (.307/.374/.438, .285 EqA) is having a good year, but when the All-Star catcher looks out at the rest of his team, he sees an offensive wasteland. At first base, Fred McGriff (.249/.318/.430, .261 EqA) was unimpressive before going on the DL. Up the middle, Alex Cora (.240/.281/.319, .213 EqA) and Cesar Izturis (.255/.290/.302, .210 EqA), who have gotten most of the playing time, are a combined black hole. Third baseman Adrian Beltre (.225/.286/.356, .227 EqA) has seen his star come crashing to earth after having once been one of the hottest prospects in the game. In the outfield, Shawn Green (.255/.317/.429, .262 EqA) is underachieving, and none of the combination of Mike Kinkade, Dave Roberts, Jolbert Cabrera, Chad Hermansen and Wilkin Ruan has been exceptional. Brian Jordan (.299/.372/.420, .282 EqA) had been the bets of the bunch, but a severe injury means his season and Dodger career are over. Faced with the option of buying or selling for the stretch run, the Dodgers made their move, trading for Jeromy Burnitz and plucking Rickey Henderson from Newark.
Part Two Part One From 1946 though 1993, National League Most Valuable Player awards could be safely predicted, with only a handful of exceptions, using just a few indicators. Since that time, however, the system has already made three major mistakes (the MVP was not selected as a candidate by the system) and one minor…
In part one of this series I identified a set of seven criteria by which "candidates" for National League MVP can be determined, and a quick tiebreaker to tell which of several candidates will be selected. You’ll recall that from 1969-1993, the system identified the eventual winner as a candidate in all but two cases:…