Thursday, August 17, 2017

ML"what would"B: What if David Freese Failed the Cards in the 2011 World Series? Part 1 8/16/17

Hey baseball fans!

It's time for another ML"what would"B, where I analyze a "what-if" scenario in baseball history, like what if the Yankees had won the 2004 ALCS. In this installment, let's see what would have happened if David Freese hadn't come up clutch for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Six of the 2011 World Series. To refresh, the Texas Rangers were one strike away from winning the franchise's first World Series in 2011, when they were up by two in the bottom of the ninth against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Then, David Freese hit a two-RBI triple that was just barely out of the reach of Nelson Cruz in right field to tie the game and would go on to hit a walk-off home run a few innings later to send the series to a final game, a game the Cardinals won. But what would've happened if Cruz made the catch in right to secure a ring for the team from the Lone Star State?

Well, the butterfly effect would be felt just a few short months later during free agency. You see, coming off a World Series loss and with only one career World Series ring, there's no way Albert Pujols would've left St. Louis to take the massive ten-year contract with the Angels. It would be a disservice to Cardinals fans everywhere. So, instead, he re-signs with the Missouri team on a cheaper and shorter deal with the thought of avenging the team's Fall Classic defeat. That leaves the Angels without a first baseman, but Prince Fielder is still a free agent. So, LA uses the money they would've used on Pujols to instead sign the plump former slugger of the Milwaukee Brewers to a nine-year, $214 million deal. Without the help from Fielder, the 2012 AL real-life pennant-winning Detroit Tigers dip, as Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera can't carry the whole team to glory. So the White Sox finish tied with Detroit in the AL Central at 86 wins and beat them in the one-game playoff, as Chris Sale out-duels Justin Verlander. Meanwhile, the Cardinals turn into a juggernaut, fueled by the re-signing of one of the greatest hitters in franchise history. They win 95 games in 2012, good enough to edge out the Reds by a game for the NL Central crown, meaning Cincinnati gets the second NL Wild Card spot. The win-loss records for the rest of the teams remain virtually the same.


In the 2012 playoffs, the Rangers lose to Baltimore in the AL Wild Card Game, while the Braves edge out the Reds because in this scenario, there is no bad infield fly rule call that messes up Atlanta's chances at advancing in the playoffs. In the divisional round, the Yankees take care of the Orioles and the A's crush the White Sox in the AL, while in the NL, the Nationals actually win a playoff series by taking their series against the Braves in five games and the Cardinals beat the Giants. In the championship series, the Yankees take down Oakland and the Cardinals actually fall to Washington. Remember: the St. Louis bats went completely quiet in the actual 2012 NLCS against the Giants. So, the 2012 World Series is set: Yankees vs. Nationals. Aaaaaaand, the Nationals sweep the Yankees! Slumping bats in the Bronx couldn't stop the upstart Nationals, who win the franchise's first World Series!

After coming up short in the AL West race in 2012, the Angels make a statement by not signing Josh Hamilton in the offseason, who instead goes back to Texas. Instead, they re-sign Zack Greike to help the pitching staff get back on track. But the biggest move comes from the Tigers, who trade DH Victor Martinez to the Orioles for young slugger and first baseman Chris Davis. With the addition of Torii Hunter as well, the 2013 Tigers manage to win the AL Central, as Davis explodes for 53 home runs and the AL MVP. Meanwhile, the Rangers win the AL West at 94 games in a tight race with Oakland, who finishes just a game back. The Nationals, coming off their historic run in the 2012 playoffs, win five more games and the second NL Wild Card spot, which pushes the Reds out of the playoffs entirely. The Cardinals make the NL look silly, cruising to the World Series to face... the Texas Rangers? Yeah, remember how Texas re-signed Josh Hamilton in the offseason? Well, he goes nuts in the playoffs, carrying the Rangers past the Tigers and Red Sox and onto the World Series for a World Series rematch. This time, the Cardinals don't squander the chance to give Pujols his second ring, using their number one offense and number five pitching staff to take down the Rangers.


But wait, what's that "Part 1" doing in the title of this post, you may ask? Well, we have to see what happens to Prince Fielder and the Angels in 2014 onward, don't we? Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Ichiro, Edgar, and the 2001 Seattle Mariners 8/9/17

Hey baseball fans!

The 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers just went 43-7 over a 50-game span! That hasn't been done in more than a century! The Dodgers' performance this year begs the question of whether or not they will break the record for most team wins in a single season. This record is owned by two teams, the 1906 Chicago Cubs and 2001 Seattle Mariners. The Cubs set the record while only playing a 154-game season, so their winning percentage is a lot better than that of the '01 Mariners. With that being said, it is virtually impossible for the Dodgers this season to break the record for single-season winning percentage, but let's talk about that Mariners team for a second. 116 wins? How?

To put it simply, Ichiro Suzuki (pictured below) is how. The Japanese All Star debuted in the MLB in 2001 with Seattle and boy did he have an unbelievable rookie season. The then-27-year-old batted a league-leading .350 and also led the league in base hits with 242, over 30 hits more than the second place finisher. His insane season made him the second-ever hitter to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season (the first being Fred Lynn of the 1975 Red Sox). But it wasn't just the Asian phenom who helped the Mariners go 116-46. Edgar Martinez, Brett Boone, and John Olerud each batted over .300 on the season and they & Mike Cameron each drove in over 90 runs. Brett Boone probably had the best slugging season of the bunch, punching out 37 home runs and collecting a league-leading 141 RBIs.


The starting pitching staff wasn't half bad, either. Each pitcher who made at least 15 starts also won at least ten games. Freddy Garcia (pictured below) probably had the best season out of the starting pitchers, placing third in Cy Young voting, going 18-6 with a 3.05 ERA. 38-year-old Jamie Moyer won 20 games for the first time in his career and Paul Abbott won 17 of his own. The bullpen was backed by Japanese closer Kazuhiro Sasaki, whose 45 saves were second in all of baseball that year. All in all, the Mariners batted .288 as a team, tops in the American League, while their 3.54 team ERA was tops in baseball. Suzuki, Boone, Olerud, Martinez, Cameron, Garcia, Sasaki, and reliever Jeff Nelson were all All Stars and the Mariners' run differential that season was 300 runs, which is absolutely unprecedented.


The Seattle magic ran out eventually, however, as they ended up losing the 2001 ALCS to the Yankees. That's interesting, because the 1906 Cubs also didn't win that year's World Series either. Maybe 116 is an unlucky win total in baseball. If the Dodgers reach 116 wins on the dot, we'll find out the number's luck in October. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."



Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Preview of the 2018 Hall of Fame Vote 8/1/17

Hey baseball fans!

Hall of Fame induction ceremonies took place yesterday, which means it's time to start discussing the potential members of the 2018 HoF class. I don't want to dive too deep (I will instead save my hardcore analyzing for right before the vote), but let's look at some of the names on the ballot for next year.

The Non-Debatable Hall of Famers
Chipper Jones and Jim Thome highlight the class and both have a 99.9% chance of getting in on their first try. Jones was the face of the Braves franchise for well over a decade and has a .303 lifetime batting average, while Thome is seventh on the all time home runs list at 612 career dingers. In my mind, these guys are no-brainers.










Other Intriguing First-Timers
Johnny Damon, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, and Omar Vizquel (pictured below) headline the remaining first-timers on the ballot and are all very up in the air. Due to the strictness of Hall of Fame voters for the last couple of years, it would be hard for these guys to get in, but I wouldn't be blown out of my chair if one or more do. Notice how there aren't any pitchers listed yet in this post. That's because the first-time pitchers' class is weaker this year than in past years.


The "Should've Gotten In Last Year" Guys
Vlad Guerrero absolutely deserved to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but we'll have to see if the voters come to their senses next January. Billy Wagner (pictured below) and Trevor Hoffman are in bad positions because if they don't get into the Hall in '18, they will have to compete for votes with Mariano Rivera in 2019, which is a battle they will both painfully lose.


How Is Edgar Martinez Not A Hall of Famer By Now?
Seriously, how? The guy has an award named after him that is awarded to the best DH in the AL every season. For Pete's sake, even the MLB knows that Martinez is the best DH of all time (sorry, Big Papi), so why can't BBWAA voters see that?


As for Sosa, Bonds, and Clemens...
We'll just have to wait and see.

It's never too early to start talking about the next generation of Cooperstown inductees, so thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Killer Nickname, Killer Bat 7/26/17

Hey baseball fans!

The Twins are (magically) in playoff contention! What an exciting time to live near the Twin Cities. In fact, one of my favorite hitters in baseball history played for the Twins. His name is Harmon Killebrew and he was purely awesome.

Ever hear of Willie McCovey? Well, think of Killebrew as his AL counterpart. The Indiana native played in the majors from 1954-1975 with the Senators/Twins and Royals, the latter for just a year. "The Killer," as he was nicknamed, actually didn't even play a full season until 1959, but boy, did he have a great year: 42 homers, 105 RBIs, and All Star Game appearance number one of eleven. Killebrew torched AL pitching throughout the years, amassing 40 homers in eight different seasons and leading the league in homers in six of those seasons. He also collected 100+ RBIs in a season nine times, three times leading the league in the category. All of these slugging milestones helped him reach the following career numbers: 573 homers (12th all time) and 1,584 RBIs (tied for 41st on the all-time list with the great Rogers Hornsby). He is one of 99 hitters in baseball history with a career slugging percentage over .500 (.509) and is 15th on the all-time walks list with 1,559. He must've been a pretty feared hitter, if he could work the count like that.

His best year in baseball was 1969, when he cracked a career-high 49 dingers, drove in a career high 140 runs, and walked an astounding 145 times, tied for the 20th most walks by a batter in a single season. His Twins went 97-65 and although they lost to the Orioles in the ALCS, Killebrew still won the MVP that year. Earlier in his career, during the '65 Fall Classic, Killebrew batted .286 (his career BA was .256) with a homer and two RBIs, but LA won the series in seven.


Despite never attaining the glory of winning a World Series, Harmon Killebrew was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984, his fourth year on the ballot, with 83.1% of the vote. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Matt Nadel's First Ballot Hall of Famer Criteria 7/19/17

Hey baseball fans!

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is right around the corner, but what makes someone qualify as a first ballot Hall of Famer? Obviously the definition of greatness in baseball has changed over the years, but here are the most up-to-date criteria with which I judge baseball personalities on whether or not they're a first ballot Hall of Famer, whether the voters agree with me or not:

For contact hitters:

Criteria: .300+ career batting average
Why? Getting three hits in ten at-bats seems lackluster to most beginner baseball fans, but think to yourself about how you analyze a player's season, just based on batting average. Seeing a three in the tenths place is just a lot more attractive than a two.


Criteria: 3,000+ career hits
Why? Usually, Hall of Famers play around 20 years in baseball. If you average 150 hits a season over 20 years, you're Roberto Clemente (he finished his career with 3,000 hits on the dot). Who doesn't want to be Roberto Clemente? But seriously, usually the best contact hitters will have some 200+ hit seasons during their primes and then tail off a little bit at the end. That makes a round number like 3,000 so applicable. Recent Hall of Famer, Craig Biggio, had 3,060 hits for example.

For power hitters:

Criteria 500+ career home runs and/or 1,500+ career RBIs
Why? It's the same logic as with hits; a power hitter might have 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons during his prime, but then won't do as well later in his career. It's just a good number because it takes consistency into consideration while leaving room for bad seasons.


For the all-around hitters:

Criteria: 10+ career All Star Game appearances
Why? Ryne Sandberg, Pudge Rodriguez and Yogi Berra don't have career stats that jump out at you per se, but what they do have are a ton of All Star appearances. If a player is considered the greatest at his position in the league he plays in for ten or more years, then of course he deserves enshrinement in Cooperstown.


For pitchers:

Criteria: 250+ wins
Why? It used to be 300, but no pitcher has eclipsed that milestone since Randy Johnson did almost ten years ago. It's very rare that a pitcher even gets over 200 wins in a career, let alone 250, which makes the number extra special. Bert Blyleven, a Hall of Famer, had 287 wins. To put it into perspective, there are only 116 pitchers in baseball history to get over 200 career wins. Wow. Pitching is hard.


Criteria: ERA lower than 3.00
Why? It's a lot harder than it seems and it goes back to the batting average criteria, except the opposite; a two in the ones place looks better than a three.


Criteria: 8+ All Star Games
Why? I call this the "John Smoltz Rule" because he was a reliever and a starter at different points in his career, only has 213 career wins, has an ERA of 3.33, made eight All Star Games, and is in the Hall of Fame. So if a starter or reliever could pull off John Smoltz-like stats that gets them at least eight appearances in the Summer Classic, they should be in the Hall.


For managers, owners, and GMs:

Criteria: Win a lot.
Why? I'm grouping all of these positions together because they all are judged based on their team's success. Whether it be with one or multiple teams, if a head honcho leads his club to the promised land on multiple occasions, thus building at least a quasi-dynasty, then it's a done deal for me. See you in the Hall soon, Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon!


Just remember that these criteria are for slam dunk Hall of Famers. Jeff Bagwell definitely deserves a spot in Cooperstown, but didn't amass any of these stats, so my criteria could be taken as unfair, right? Well, I didn't think he was going to get into the Hall on his first try anyway because BBWAA voters are a lot stricter when it comes to filling out their ballots. How else do you think potential HoFers should be judged? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."


Sunday, July 9, 2017

An All-Out Slugfest: The History of the Home Run Derby 7/9/17

Hey baseball fans!

The All Star Game Home Run Derby is tomorrow, pitting the best sluggers in a competition of who has the most power! Personally, it's my favorite side event of the MLB All Star Game, so here are some things to know about the Home Run Derby before watching it tomorrow on ESPN:

The Derby started in 1985, with five players from each League participating. The number of participants changed throughout the 90s, but the four-person-per-League format that is used today was adopted in 2000. The way the tournament has been set up has also changed over the years. From 1991, the first year it was televised, to 2013, all the players were playing against each other and were given ten "outs," or hits that weren't home runs, to hit as many home runs as they can. The top home runs hitters in each round moved on until the final two. For the 2017 Home Run Derby, for example, Giancarlo Stanton will square off against Gary Sanchez, the one seed vs. the eighth seed, in a March Madness-style, head-to-head battle, where each player will be given four minutes to hit as many home runs as they can.



Despite the rule changes, there have been some players who have clearly dominated the Derby. Todd Frazier of the White Sox leads all players in HRD history with 91 career Derby homers. He won the whole thing in 2015 while playing for the Reds. Josh Hamilton hit a single-round record of 28 home runs in the first round of the 2008 Derby, but eventually lost in the final round to Justin Morneau. Ken Griffey, Jr. and Yoenis Cespedes are the only two players to win the contest in back-to-back years (Griffey in '98 and '99 & Cespedes in '13 and '14). Griffey also won it in 1994, making him the only three-time champ. Prince Fielder is the only Derby participant to win it at least once in both Leagues, winning it in 2009 as a member of the NL Milwaukee Brewers and in 2012 as a member of the AL Detroit Tigers (pictured below). Hall of Famers to have won the homer tourney are Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Cal Ripken, Jr., Griffey, and Frank Thomas.


My favorite Home Run Derby that I've ever watched was in 2011, when in Chase Field, Robinson Cano of the Yankees, while being pitched to by his dad, beat Adrain Gonzalez of the Red Sox in the final round of a classic desert showdown. What's the favorite Derby you've ever watched and who do you think will win it tomorrow? Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy Bobby Bonilla Day! 7/1/17

Hey baseball fans!

Happy Bobby Bonilla Day! July 1 is the day of the year when the New York Mets pay a retired, slightly ok baseball player about $1 million annually until 2034! Now I know some of you may be confused, but let me explain.

Bonilla played in the MLB from 1986-2001 with a plethora of teams, actually making six All Star Games as an outfielder. He doesn't have the stats to be in the Hall of Fame, so the fact that he is still receiving money from the Mets is mind-boggling. Basically, the Mets signed Bonilla to a deferred-money deal after not wanting him on the roster after the 2000 season, meaning that rather paying all of Bonilla's $5.9 million salary for the year right then and there, they would pay percentages of it over time with interest (at a negotiated 8% per year). The deal kicked in with the first payment being issued on July 1, 2011. The only problem for the Mets is the $5.9 million in 2000 will be worth $29.8 million by the time the deal is done. So now, the Mets organization is stuck paying Bonilla $1.19 million every July 1 until 2033! The worst part of it all for the Amazins is that Bonilla lives in Florida now, where there's no income tax, so he's really taking aaaaalllllll of that dough. Classic move by the Mets' front office.


On a separate note, happy Canada Day to Joey Votto, Russell Martin, and the Toronto Blue Jays. If you were in Bobby Bonilla's shoes, how would you spend your annual mega-paycheck, eh? Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."