Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Oldies, But Goodies 3/13/18

Hey baseball fans!

A lot of baseball players tail off in terms of their yearly statistics after their early 30s, but that's not always the case, especially with these special players.

Willie Mays, Johnny Mize, and Barry Bonds
"The Say Hey Kid" and fellow Hall of Famer Mize are two of the oldest players to ever hit 50+ homers in a season. Mays hit 52 homers in 1965 at the young age of 34, while at the same age, Mize smacked out 51 bombs of his own in 1947. However, it is Bonds (pictured below) who is distinguished, having set the record for the most home runs hit in a single season with a whopping 73 in 2001 at 36 years young.

Tony Gwynn
Gwynn won four consecutive batting titles from 1994-1997... from the ages of 34 to 37! His 1994 performance is probably the most impressive of the bunch, when even though the season was shortened due to a players' strike, the Hall of Fame member of the San Diego Padres batted .394, the highest single-season batting average since Ted Williams's .406 batting average in 1941.

Pete Rose
Although mostly remembered for his time on the Cincinnati Reds, Rose actually had a lot of success with the Phillies as well. "Charlie Hustle" made four straight All Star Games for the Fightin' Phils from 1979-1982, even though he was 38 years old or older in all four years. And in those four years, he batted a solid .300 while also helping out during the Phillies World Series championship run in 1980.

David Ortiz
The greatest clutch player in Red Sox history had one of the greatest farewell seasons of all time in 2016. That year, at the age of 40, he set records for single-season homers and RBIs for a 40-year-old (38 and 127, respectively). Oh, and he also batted .315 that year while leading the league in slugging (.620, also a single-season record for a 40-year-old).

Jamie Moyer, Satchel Paige, and Nolan Ryan
No list of great geezers is complete without talking about these three pitchers. Moyer retired when he was 49 years old after playing for 25 seasons in the Majors, making his first career All Star Game at 40 years old in 2003. Paige played most of his career in the Negro Leagues, and didn't make his Major League debut until he was 41, but he actually made two All Star Games at ages 45 and 46 in 1952 and 1953 and didn't pitch in his final Major League game until he was 58. Ryan's (pictured below) career ERA at age 40 and after (he pitched until he was 46) was a respectable 3.33, while leading the league in strikeouts in four consecutive seasons and collecting career no-hitters #6 and #7.

What performances, am I right? If only more players could age as gracefully as these guys did. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

BONUS: Babe Ruth averaged 42 homers a season in his 30s. Holy cow.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Yay for Alan Trammell! 2/22/18

Hey baseball fans!

Finally, Alan Trammell is in the Hall of Fame! For the first time, my annual Alan Trammell appreciation post won't be one of yearning, but one of celebrating! Let the confetti rain down!

For those of you who are confused, let me explain: Alan Trammell was a shortstop for the Tigers in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s and me and him happen to share a birthday: February 21st. For almost every year that I've blogged on my birthday, I've pleaded for Trammell to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The reason is that without Trammell, I would have no Hall of Fame birthday buddy (yes, former Red Sox owner and HoFer Tom Yawkey does share a birthday with me as well, but it's not the same). And it's not like Trammell hadn't been deserving of induction; he was a six-time All Star, four-time Gold Glover, three-time Silver Slugger, and 1984 World Series MVP. It just took him a little longer to get in than he deserved.

For 15 straight years on the BBWAA ballots, Trammell never got higher than 40.9% of the vote, roughly 34% less than what he needed to join his fellow All Stars in Cooperstown. But the Veteran's Committee thought otherwise because just this past December, Trammell and former teammate Jack Morris were voted into the Hall by the VC. When I watched Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson formally announce Trammell's introduction to the Hall of Fame, I was ecstatic. I finally have a Hall of Fame birthday buddy! I can't wait to watch his induction speech in July.

And, here's a bonus: my live interview with Alan from 2015. Just click here.

Who's your Hall of Fame birthday buddy? Tell me in the comments section below. Thanks for the birthday wishes and for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

7 Obscure Facts about the New York Yankees 2/13/18

Hey baseball fans!

Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training today and I couldn't be more excited for baseball to be back! My mind has been going nuts without baseball and, because of my insanity, I've garnered a lot more baseball knowledge just out of the boredom I've had to endure due to a lack of America's pastime. Naturally, the team I've researched the most is the Yankees, so without further delay, here are seven super rare fun facts about the New York Yankees.

Fact #1
The Yankees have won 40 American League pennants in their history, the most of any team. But we can go deeper than that, right? Well, let's try. Even before MLB expansion started in 1961, the Yanks had beaten all eight original National League teams in the World Series at least once. Since expansion, the only NL team that has been to any World Series that New York has yet to face there is the Rockies. (The Nationals and Brewers haven't been to the Fall Classic as NL teams yet.)

Fact #2
The Bronx Bombers have finished last in their division only four times in their 115-year history and have yet to finish last since the American League expanded to three divisions back in 1994.

Fact #3
Including the postseason and in terms of winning percentage, the 1927 Yankees are the best AL team of all time; they posted a regular season record of 110-44 and swept the World Series for a total winning percentage of .721.

Fact #4
The Yankees' worst seasonal attendance, according to the team's official website, came in 1906. In their fourth year of existence, the Yanks only brought 35,500 fans to the ballpark, which is a shame because they finished the season at a very respectable 90-61.

Fact #5
Nick Swisher was a fan favorite for the Yankees from 2009-2012, bringing a very chill vibe to the clubhouse and a productive bat to the batter's box. However, after the 2012 season, he decided to sign with the Indians and the Yankees got a compensatory pick at the end of the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft in exchange for Swisher's services. Who did they use this pick on, you ask? Aaron Judge.

Fact #6
Since interleague play began in 1997, there is actually only one NL team that the Yankees have played against in more than 20 games and have lost in those games more times than they've won: the Phillies (13-14). Ironically, the Phillies have the most all-time losses in baseball history at 10,837.

Fact #7
I am one of three people in my family born during a year in which the Yankees won the World Series! My cousin Max and I are born five days apart in 1999 (Yanks swept the Braves) and my mom's mom was born in 1941 (Yanks over Dodgers in five).

I hope you learned a thing or two about the greatest baseball franchise in history. Oh, you want to make the claim that the Yankees won most of their World Series before free agency? Well, here's a bonus fun fact for you: in the Super Bowl era (since 1967), New York has won seven World Series, the most of any team during the time period. Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Red Sox vs. Phillies: Who Will Win the Super Bowl? 2/4/18

Hey baseball fans!

Because the Super Bowl is today, everyone is comparing the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles to predict who will win the game. I, however, have a different technique. Instead of looking at these two teams in depth, I looked at their MLB counterparts to see which of those teams is better. So, who's better, the Red Sox or the Phillies? (Disclaimer: this is not my actual Super Bowl prediction. It's just a funny way to compare two MLB teams on a historical perspective.)

Category One: Overall Winning Percentage
During Boston's 117-year history in Major League Baseball, they've won an astounding 9,410 games and have only lost 8,776 games for a winning percentage of .517. Meanwhile, the Phillies have an all-time record of 9,664-10,837 for a winning percentage of only .471. After category number one, the Red Sox are up, 1-0 over the Fightin' Phils.

Category Two: Head-to-Head Winning Percentage
These two teams squared off in the 1915 World Series, with the Red Sox beating the Phillies easily in five games. Besides that series that was more than 100 years ago, the two squads have faced each other in interleague play many a time. In their 63 matchups, the Red Sox have won 39 of them. After two categories, Boston's up two on Philly.

Category Three: Hall of Famers
These two clubs have been around for more than a century each, so they each have plenty of Hall of Famers to go around. There are 14 Hall of Famers who wear the Red Sox logo on their cap in their Cooperstown plaques, including legends such as Ted Williams and Jimmie Foxx, while the Phillies can only claim that distinction for six Hall of Famers. So Boston is now up 3-0, meaning that with one more categorical victory, the BoSox will secure the Patriots' sixth Super Bowl.

Category Four: World Series Championships
What better way to determine which of two teams is better than by looking at how many times they've won the big one. The Phillies didn't win their first World Series until 1980 and have only won one other since (2008). The Sox have won eight World Series, despite their 86-yearlong drought. Well, that settles is. Sox win, 4-0.

Sorry Eagles fans, but it looks like the Patriots will win Super Bowl LII. Maybe next year the Eagles will face the Texans or Chargers in the Super Bowl, because the Astros and Angels have less World Series championships than the Phils. Anyway, thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, January 29, 2018

Fun Facts About the 2018 Hall of Fame Inductees 1/29/18

Hey baseball fans!

After digesting the Hall of Fame vote from the 24th for almost a week now, congrats to all the players who got into Cooperstown (#EdgarGotRobbed)! To welcome Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Trevor Hoffman, and Vladimir Guerrero into the Hall, here is a fun fact about each of them.

Jim Thome
Thome holds a very interesting MLB record: career walk-off home runs. His 13 career walk-off dingers are one ahead of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, and Frank Robinson. In fact, Thome's 500th career homer was of the walk-off variety.

Chipper Jones
Jones was ambidextrous at the plate and among switch-hitters, his stats rank towards the top in many categories. Jones ranks third all-time in home runs (468), second in RBIs (1,623), and is the only switch-hitter in history to finish his career with a .300+ lifetime batting average (.303) and 400+ homers.

Trevor Hoffman
Surprisingly, Hoffman only led the league in saves on two occasions. His 46-save 2006 season was great, but his 53-save 1998 season was even better. At the time, those 53 single-season saves were a National League record; couple that with 1.48 ERA and Hoffman placed second in Cy Young voting and seventh in MVP voting for the NL in '98.

Vladimir Guerrero
This isn't really a fun fact, but one time, Guerrero hit a single on a ball that bounced in front of home plate! Now, that's what I call daredevil hitting.

Once again, congratulations to the four new members of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

If I Had a Hall of Fame Ballot 2018 1/23/18

Hey baseball fans!

Hall of Fame elections are tomorrow, which means it's time for me to share my opinions on who should get into Cooperstown in 2018. I've done this type of post in the past and for this edition of "If I Had a Hall of Fame Ballot 20XX," I'm going to list the players who I think should get in this year along with the key reason for why they should get in. As much as I love the new advanced metrics revolution going on in baseball right now, it's time to get back to basics.

Name: Chipper Jones
# Time on Ballot: 1st
Main Reason for Election: King of Atlanta
Explanation: From 1993-2012, Chipper Jones was the cornerstone of the Atlanta Braves lineup. Sure, their dynastic years of the '90s was more pitching-centered and Atlanta had plenty of other formidable hitters on their teams to go along with Jones, but Chipper became a Braves fan favorite because he stayed down south for his entire career, and boy what a career it was: a .303 lifetime batting average as a switch hitter, 2,726 career hits, 468 career home runs, and eight All Star Games. He's first-ballot talent for sure.

Name: Jim Thome
# Time on Ballot: 1st
Main Reason for Election: Crazy power
Explanation: First-ballot Hall of Fame criteria for me in terms of power hitters is 500+ home runs and 1,500+ RBIs. Well, guess what? Thome hit 612 career long balls (which is good for eighth on the all-time list) and drove in 1,699 career runs (which is good for 26th on the all-time list). Enough said.

Name: Trevor Hoffman
# Time on Ballot: 3rd
Main Reason for Election: Saves machine
Explanation: Hoffman is the all-time NL leader in saves with 601 and is second in the category in MLB history only to Mariano Rivera. On top of this, the best reliever in the NL every year gets the "Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award." The fact that he wasn't a first-ballot Hall of Famer is seriously a travesty.

Name: Vladimir Guerrero
# Time on Ballot: 2nd
Main Reason for Election: One of the best all-around hitters of his generation
Explanation: Guerrero misses the first-ballot threshold in several typical categories of judgement, like hits and home runs, but then you realize he only played 16 seasons and you're just like "Wow." The nine-time All Star averaged 162 hits, 28 homers, and 94 RBIs a season. Oh, and did I mention he batted .318 lifetime, which makes him one of the top ten contact hitters in baseball since 1950?

Name: Edgar Martinez
# Time on Ballot: 9th
Main Reason for Election: The first great DH
Explanation: This is the guy for who I am the absolute strongest Hall of Fame advocate. Yes, he batted .312 lifetime and yes, he was a seven-time All Star. Both of those facts should already put him in Cooperstown, but sports analysts love to point out the fact that defensive statistics are important as well in Hall of Fame consideration and Martinez doesn't have those stats because he never played the field. But that's the thing: he was the first great DH, so the fact that anyone would even consider his fielding statistics to be an important piece of criteria for him getting into the Hall is straight up unfair. Much like Hoffman, the best DH in the MLB every year gets the "Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award" and the only hitter who's won the award more times than Martinez himself has (five times) is David Ortiz (seven times). If all of this isn't enough, Martinez, much like Chipper Jones, stayed with the Seattle Mariners for his entire career, becoming a shiny emerald in the Emerald City.

Who else should be in Cooperstown who's on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot? Let me know in the comments section below. Also, quick shout out to my dad who is celebrating his birthday today. He's been checking over my blog posts and helping me grow Baseball with Matt ever since I started blogging, so happy birthday, Dad, and thank you for everything. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Game 6 of 2011 or Game 5 of 2017? 1/20/18

Hey baseball fans!

In case you don't remember, Game Five of the 2017 World Series, which saw the Astros top the Dodgers in Houston by a final score of 13-12, has been regarded by some as the best World Series game ever. Now, I am not one of those people, because I believe that Game Six of the 2011 World Series, which saw the Cardinals beat the Rangers in St. Louis by a final score of 10-9, is better than Game Five of '17 for one simple reason, which is...

You think I'm going to reveal my one reason for deciding the fate of a World Series game on my "Tope World Series Games Ever" list at the beginning of a blog post? Well, think again. First, let's talk about what makes both of these games so great and then we'll get into what sets the 2011 matchup apart from the 2017 one.

The Run-Scoring
So as you read in my intro paragraph, both of these games were not pitching duels, but all-out slugfests. The Astros and Dodgers combined for 25 runs in their clash in Minute Maid Park, while the Rangers and Cardinals totaled 19 runs on a chilly night in Busch Stadium. The Texas matchup featured seven home runs, while the game in Missouri featured six and both games saw 28 hits.

The Scoring Changes
Both games went back and forth until the end. In St. Louis, the Cardinals and Rangers exchanged leads seven times (counting the times that one team took the lead after a tie game) and the Astros and Dodgers switched leads five times. The only reason the game in Houston didn't feature more scoring changes is because the runs were scored in bunches; Houston and LA combined for six half-innings where three or more runs were scored.

The Dramatic Walk-Off
Alex Bregman walked off for Houston in the bottom of the tenth with a single that scored pinch-runner Derek Fisher to give the Astros the W, while David Freese of the Cardinals sent the St. Louis fans home happy with a miraculous walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 11th.

So obviously these games had plenty of drama to go around, but why is Game Six of 2011 so much better than Game Five of 2017? Well, I've got one word for you: magnitude.

Ok, so Game Five of 2017 saw the Astros beat the Dodgers, giving Houston a 3-2 lead in the Series, but it wasn't a must-win game for the Astros. However, the Cardinals came into Game Six of the 2011 Fall Classic down 3-2 in the Series and were one strike away from losing the World Series altogether on two (yes, two) separate occasions! In the ninth, the eventual hero Freese hit a two-run triple on a two-strike count with two outs to tie the game at seven and send it to extras and in the tenth, again on a two-strike count with two outs, Lance Berkman came up with a game-tying single. Not to belittle Game Five of 2017, but had I not told you that the game that ended in an Alex Bregman walk-off single was the fifth game of the 2017 World Series, would you have known that? Probably not. But did you know that David Freese hit a walk-off homer in Game Six of the 2011 World Series? Probably.

It's simple math, really. Six is greater than and, in this case, better than five. Sorry, Astros fans, but your former NL Central rivals have defeated you yet again. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."