Sunday, January 11, 2015

The All-Time Major League Teams: Chicago Cubs

Sorry Marlins fans, their team is on hold for later.
The Chicago Cubs are one of the most iconic franchises, but the most tortured. One of the best teams in the early 1900s, highlighted by 116 win season, they haven't won a World Series since 1908. It wasn't due to lack of trying, but baseball is a game of superstitions. Similar to the Curse of the Bambino, the Cubs have the Curse of the Billy Goat. While the Curse of the Bambino is long gone, The Cubs are still cursed. But even if they are cursed they have one of the better All Time teams I've come across. They are the first team that have great offense and pitching.
 Let us begin. Leading off and playing Third Base, Woody English. Woody was one of the main pieces of the amazing 1930 offense. Woody wasn't a power hitter and he didn't steal bases, but he didn't need to. With 36 double, 17 triples, 214 hit and the men batting behind him he was able to score 152 runs. That's second most on the 1930 team and the all time team.
 Batting second and playing Right Field is Kiki Cuylar. Kiki seamed like a typical speed demon for the Cubs and Pirates, but in 1930 he became a terror for the opposition. With a Tris Speaker like season and skillset he helped the Cubs terrifying. While he is batting second, he did manage to steal 37 bases with his 50 doubles, 155 runs and 134 RBI.
 Batting third and playing Center Field, Hack Wilson. Not only did Hack Wilson have the best RBI season in Cubs Franchise history, he had the best RBI in MLB history. With Woody and Kiki hitting ahead of him in 1930, he hit 56 home runs and a record breaking 191 RBI. He was an MVP in a season without an MVP.
 Batting clean up, the Designated Hitter, Sammy Sosa. The second place winner in the 1998 home run race, his career is clouded by PEDs and other cheating accusations. Even so Sammy put up not only home run number, but numbers across the board. Hitting behind Hack Wilson would be a dream come true when he adds his 64 home runs and 160 RBI. An interesting fun fact, every year Sammy hit 60 or more home runs he did not lead the league in home runs.
 Batting fifth and playing Left Field, Billy Williams. He was part a dynamic duo with Ernie Banks in the 60s together. He was a Rookie of the Year winner in 1961 and came in second in 1970 to Johnny Bench. Williams was your typical Left Fielder, hitting for both power and contact. Easily one of the best Cubs on the field, sometimes you still see him hanging around Wrigley.
 Batting sixth and playing Shortstop, Ernie Banks. Ernie Banks is known as Mr. Cub, because of dedication, love and passion for being a Cub. But love isn't always enough, so he decided to become one of the best players in the league. During his quest to become great he became the first black player to win back-to-back MVP awards in 1958 and 1959. Those two seasons came in between four straight years of forty or more home runs. Ernie Banks ended his career as the first shortstop to reach 500 home runs. With his recent passing, may he play two in the afterlife.
 Batting seventh and playing First Base, Derrek Lee. Lee was the consistent offensive and defensive 1st basemen for the Cubs from 2004 to 2010. He won two Gold Gloves and had two All-Star selections. But his 2005 campaign saw him lead the NL in Hits, Doubles, Batting Average and Slugging. He fell short of the MVP to Albert Pujols and Andruw Jones.
 Batting eighth and catching, Gabby Hartnett. Gabby was the cleanup hitter for the mighty 1930 Cubs with means he was one scary offensive catcher. As a catcher in both offense and defense I'd say he was fourth all-time only behind Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra and Ivan Rodriguez. But I'll get into all time catchers another day. While he didn't score as many runs as his teammates, he hit 37 home runs and drove in 122 RBI. His .404 On Base Percentage didn't hurt the cause either.
 And batting ninth and playing second base, Ryne Sandberg. One of the greatest defensive infielders to ever play the game, Sandberg wasn't just a glove for hire. He put up MVP numbers in both the power and speed department every year. This included a 40 home run, 25 stolen base season. He could bat anywhere in the order so don't let him batting ninth fool you.
With a monster line up, a team needs a monster pitching staff. So let's look at the numbers.
  1. Mordecai Brown*  1.04/36/32/144/61/277/27/9/26-6/0.93 (253)
  2. Ed Reulbach           1.42/34/29/152/73/291/28/5/18-14/0.96 (209)
  3. Jack Taylor            1.29/37/34/088/45/333/34/8/23-11/0.95 (206)
  4. Orval Overall         1.32/38/32/205/80/285/23/9/20-11/0.99 (179)
  5. Mark Prior             2.43/30/30/245/50/211/3/1/18-6/1.10 (179)
Led by the man nicknamed Three Finger Brown, the Cubs may have the second best rotation to go with the second best line up. While four of them pitched their best seasons in the Deadball Era, I'd normally think twice about putting them in a rotation. However they were well above average even for their era. But then you add one half of Chicago Heat, Mark Prior and you have proof that they have someone who could pitch.
The back end of their bullpen is strong and so are their long relievers/spot starters, but their middle relievers can be shaky.
  1. Bruce Sutter*      1.34/62/0/129/23/107/48/31/6-3/0.85
  2. Lee Smith            1.42/66/0/91/41/103/56/29/4-10/1.07
  3. Sean Marshall     2.26/78/0/79/17/75/18/5/6-6/1.09
  4. Les Lancaster      1.36/42/0/56/15/72/15/8/4-2/1.03

  5. Jack Pfiester*      1.15/30/22/090/48/195/13/3/14-9/0.97
  6. Fergie Jenkins     2.77/39/39/263/37/325/30/3/24-13/1.04
I had a lot of trouble chooses the spot starter. It came down to Fergie Jenkins, Hippo Vaughn, Kerry Wood and Carlos Zambrano. Fergie won out with in strikeouts, walks and innings.
The back end of the bullpen was easy. Bruce Sutter had his best seasons with the Cubs as did Lee Smith. Sutter was a Hall of Famer closer, Smith hopefully will be one day too. The other two were tricky. Sean Marshall was the best left handed specialist I could find and he's not a bad choice. Les Lancaster was a lightning in bottle season, who beat out Kyle Farnsworth, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol.
The Bench are filled with Old time players.
  1. Ron Santo         .313/94/185/33/13/30/122/3/.391
  2. Bob O'Farrell    .319/73/144/25/4/12/84/10/.408
  3. Billy Herman    .341/113/227/57/6/07/83/6/.383
  4. Bill Nicholson  .287/116/167/35/8/33/122/3/.391
  5. Augie Galan#   .314/133/203/41/11/12/79/22/.399
Led by the legendary Ron Santo, no one from the twenty-first century makes the bench. There were plenty of candidates, but players like Joe Tinker were the bigger snubs. Joe Tinker was an incredible player who led the Cubs to multiple world titles, but Billy Herman was a much better offensive second basemen, only second to Sandberg. I picked Bill Nicholson because of his consistency in the power department and his glove.
 Now let's finish with the line-up numbers
  1. Woody English   .335/152/214/36/17/14/59/3/.430
  2. Kiki Cuylar         .355/155/228/50/17/13/134/37/.428
  3. Hack Wilson       .356/146/208/35/6/56/191/3/.454
  4. Sammy Sosa       .328/146/189/34/5/64/160/0/.437
  5. Billy Williams    .322/137/205/34/4/42/129/7/.391
  6. Ernie Banks        .304/97/179/25/6/45/143/2/.374
  7. Derrek Lee          .335/120/199/50/3/46/107/15/.418
  8. Gabby Hartnett   .339/84/172/31/3/37/122/0/.404
  9. Ryne Sandberg   .306/116/188/30/3/40/100/25/.354
A absolute monster line up. Once one guy gets on base, then someone will knock hit in. It's not a debate, it's going to happen. There are probably three or four all time pitching staffs that could slow them down, but I don't know how long that will last.
Next up are the division rival St. Louis Cardinals.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Nomar Garciaparra and the "Could Have Been" Career

Nomar Garciaparra, the Red Sox Hero that got me into baseball. As a kid looking up to Nomar was easy. He competed opposite of Yankees Legend Derek Jeter in an amazing Shortstop rivalry that drew many fans to the game. With a unique skillset of power, contact and speed, Nomar was a genuine Star Player. However Nomar's career was not as great as it could have been. Due to several lower leg injuries Nomar's career was cut short. His best years obviously came with the Red Sox, but he had some shine when he played with the Dodgers and Athletics (Not so much the Cubs). But how great could Nomar's career have been? In my biased opinion the best Red Sox player of all time. In my non-biased opinion, easily top five. I'll show his projected yearly stats, as well as his career stats. I of course used Jeter's career length to compare to Nomar's.
Debuting in 1996, Nomar only played a subpar 24 games. But in 1997 he burst onto the scene to win Rookie of the Year by leading in hits, triples and at bats, while only playing in 153 games. This is the only season I did not adjust to 162 games. When 1998 rolled around Nomar was ready to go for the MVP. In 143 games, Nomar was able to get 195 hits, 37 doubles, 8 triples, 35 home runs and 122 RBI. Now if we project the 162 he would have won MVP.
  1. Nomar 143   .323/111/195/37/8/35/122/12/.362
  2. Nomar 162   .323/126/221/42/9/40/138/15/.362
That's an MVP shortstop if I've ever seen one.
1999 was the first of back to back batting titles. While his home runs decreased, his doubles increased as did his batting average, hits and on base percentage. But once again, he fell short of the MVP title due to his game total. He played a Red Sox career low 135 games, not counting injury seasons. His projected 162 was above impressive.
  1. Nomar 135   .357/103/190/42/4/27/104/14/.418
  2. Nomar 162   .357/126/232/51/5/33/127/17/.418
Even if you don't project the 162, his season was still wicked impressive for that few of games.
The second year of his back to back batting titles saw another decrease in home runs, but another increase in almost every other category. He played in 140 games that season, five more than the previous season, but again put up unreal numbers.
  1. Nomar 140   .372/104/197/51/3/21/96/5/.434
  2. Nomar 162   .372/128/242/63/5/26/118/10/.434
While .372 and 63 doubles is well above average, it still isn't the best in Red Sox history. Ted Williams will always hold the batting average crown. While Earl Webb hit 67 double in his lightning in a bottle season, which is the most by any player.
2001 was a lost season for Nomar as he dealt with an Achilles injury. But he was back with a vengeance in 2002. Playing in 156 games, he didn't quite have that MVP batting average or on base percentage, but he made up for it with bringing the power back. Leading the league in doubles with 56, he also had three more home runs that he did in 2000. Projected 162 isn't as significant as previous years, but it still make a difference.
  1. Nomar 156   .310/101/197/56/5/24/120/5/.352
  2. Nomar 162   .310/109/213/60/5/26/129/7/.352
Another year, another 200 hits and 60 doubles. His ability to hit off the Green Monster is second only to Wade Boggs. His doubles ability overall is second only to Tris Speaker. That's as a Red Sock of course.
In his final full season with the Red Sox, Nomar dipped a bit but played 156 games for the second year in a row. Both his batting average and doubles went down, but his home runs, triples and stolen bases went back up.
  1. Nomar 156   .301/120/198/37/13/28/105/19/.345
  2. Nomar 162   .301/125/206/39/14/30/110/21/.345
Once again hitting over 200 hits and reaching 30 home runs again, shows how Nomar could have been a multi-time MVP. Looking at his career 162 average is something special.
  1. Nomar 162 Career   .305/123/221/50/8/31/120/15/.376
Now of course he probably would have dipped slightly with the age factor, that's not a guarantee. Derek Jeter's age 38 season saw him lead in at bats and hits.
Now let's see what Nomar's career would have looked like if he had played as long as Jeter, while compared to Jeter.
  1. Jeter Career      .310/1923/3465/544/66/260/1311/358/.377
  2. Nomar Career  .305/1840/3308/748/122/460/1800/230/.376
Jeter obviously has more stolen bases and runs scored, due to where he batting in the line-up. Nomar however beats in extra bases and the RBIs. Again mainly due to where he batting the line up. It was a close race for hits, but Jeter was better in the contact department, which also led to more stolen bases.
So with all these projections, they are just that, projections. Nomar never became the legend he could have been, but for me as a fan and as my hero, he didn't need to.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Hall of Fame Profiles: Carlos Delgado

 Unlike many sportswriters, I'm making the case for Carlos Delgado. I've read countless articles lately giving reasons why Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should make it into the Hall of Fame and it still leaves me scratching my head. The same people will go on to say Carlos Delgado shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. Well Carlos, I've got your back and would pick you over a pair of PED users any day. Not only was Carlos a great hitter, he may have been the greatest hitter in Blue Jays history. He had multiple MVP quality seasons, two of which stick out more than the rest. In 2000 Carlos had a .344 Batting Average, 137 RBI, 41 Home Runs, 57 Doubles and .470 On-Base Percentage. Out of the three men ahead of him, two were confirmed PED users and the other was Frank Thomas. However he had the better season when it came to total bases and extra base hits. Only Giambi got on base more and well we know why he did so well.
 Then there was 2003, this time Carlos came in second in the MVP voting. But even though he had the better season, he lost to a PED user. Carlos had a .302 Batting Average, 38 Doubles, 42 Home Run and a league leading 145 RBI. He also led in OPS and OPS+. But everyone loved A-Rod, right?
 But two seasons aren't enough for the Hall of Fame, so let look at the twelve he spent in Toronto. During his time in Toronto let say he broke a few team records including Home Runs, RBI, Runs, Slugging Percentage, Walks, Doubles, Total Bases, Extra Base Hits, OPS, Times On Base, Hit by Pitch, Intentional Walks, Runs Created and at bats per Home Run. Is it just me or is breaking that many records enough to get into the Hall of Fame? I guess you're not convinced.
 Carlos didn't end his career at twelve years though. he spent four and a half more years with the Marlins and Mets. There he was able to hit another 140 Doubles, 137 Home Runs and 454 RBI. That would bring his career totals to 483 Double, 473 Home Runs and 1512 RBI. Pair those numbers with a .280 Batting Average and a .383 On-Base Percentage and you have a Hall of Famer.

Hall of Fame Profiles: Pedro Martinez

When it comes to Pedro Martinez, I could type until my fingers fell off or talk until my throat collasped, but I'll keep it short. Pedro Martinez is easily the best pitcher of the late 90s and early 00s. The short, skinny, PED free Martinez made Hall of Fame calibur and PED hitters look like they had never picked up a bat before. He had the complete arsenal when it came to pitches. He threw his fastball with Bob Gibson velocity and Greg Maddux accuracy. His 2-Seamer would catch the corners or make hitters screw themselves into the ground. Hitters could time his nasty curveball and couldn't see his Bugs Bunny change-up. But stuff alone doesn't get you into Cooperstown. Martinez is a five time ERA Champion and a three time Cy Young Award Winner. He has the best single season Adjusted ERA+ in the history of the Modern Era and the best career Adjusted ERA+ for a Starting pitcher. He also had the lowest single season WHIP by a starting pitcher ever. His eight All-Star selections were highlighted at Fenway Park when he struck out Barry Larking, Larry Walker, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire in order to start the game and struck out Jeff Bagwell to end the second inning. Pedro is also the reason I believe a starting pitcher should never win the MVP. Pedro Martinez had two back to back seasons that made recent MVP winners Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw look like amateurs. Instead they gave the MVP to Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Giambi. Giambi's MVP Crown will always be tainted with PEDs so that makes it so much more frustrating. Rodriguez however was a very deserving player who just barely beat out Pedro. So if Pedro can't win MVP then neither should another starting pitcher. Greg Maddux got into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot and rightfully so because Greg Maddux beat pitchers. But that's the difference between Maddux and Pedro. Maddux would beat you, Pedro would dominate you. Because of all these reasons Pedro Martinez should get one hundred percent of the votes, but I'll settle for him being a first ballot Hall of Famer.
I have another article about Pedro Martinez, if anyone is interested.