Polo Grounds

Polo Grounds

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What could have been: Grady Sizemore

Often times when I am sitting on my couch, watching tv, I get compelled to look something up on www.baseball-reference.com. Regardless of what it is, I tend to get sucked into a rabbit hole of useless facts, records, comparisons, career bests, etc that can be pretty tough to pull out of. Last week while watching the Oscars, I began doing some research, and while I have long forgotten what I was originally researching, I came across this on Barry Bonds' page:

Barry Bonds, in his prime at age 26, was statistically most similar to Grady Sizemore at the same age. Whoa. At first I thought maybe Bonds had a somewhat slow start to his career, but looking at his numbers through age 26 I saw that he had already won an MVP award, 2 gold gloves, 2 silver sluggers, slugged 142 home runs and accrued 837 hits. So Grady Sizemore was at a Barry Bonds level by age 26? That didn't seem right. I did some more research and found this:

Total WAR ages 22-25 for Outfielders 1876-2014

1 *Ty Cobb 40.2
3 *Tris Speaker 32.1
4 *Hank Aaron 31
5 Barry Bonds 29.7
6 *Joe DiMaggio 28.9
7 *Babe Ruth 28.5
9 *Willie Mays 27.2
10 *Stan Musial 26.8
11 Andruw Jones 26.7
12 *Mel Ott 26.3
14 *Joe Medwick 24.9
15 Ken Griffey Junior 24.7
16 Grady Sizemore 24.6

By my count that is eleven Hall of Famers, 12 when you count Griffey after next season; 14 if you count the talent levels of Shoeless Joe Jackson and Barry Bonds; while ignoring their indiscretions, and Andruw Jones will have a darn good case when he becomes eligible, although steroids could cloud him as well. 15 players in front of Grady Sizemore, all of whom had Hall of Fame caliber careers.

I don't think it should surprise anyone who is a big baseball fan that Grady Sizemore, in his brief prime, was good. But I cannot imagine many people realized he was this good. Would Sizemore have put together a Barry Bonds / Willie Mays like career had he stayed healthy? Unlikely. But could he have been good enough to be a Hall of Famer? Certainly hard to say, but this evidence makes it at least plausible. Joe Medwick had a power outage after his age 25 season, but managed to hit .311 and accrue 1370 more hits from 26 on. This represents one of the weaker careers on the above list, but still merited enough to make the Hall of Fame. A completely healthy Grady Sizemore seems very capable of reaching the numbers Medwick reached, at the minimum.

Injuries are a tough thing, and seeing a players career derailed by them can be heartbreaking. Even though Sizemore would have given the Tigers hell the last 5 years or so if healthy, I hate seeing his prime get derailed like it did. I wish him the best of luck in his bid for a return, he looked okay last year with Philly, and I hope he can continue to work hard and carve himself out a role in the show for a few more years.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Jim Edmonds and the Hall of Fame

After inducting four players last year into the Hall of Fame, the ballot for the class of 2016 has thinned out, something that will hopefully allow many of the fringe candidates (Mike Mussina, Alan Trammell, Edgar Martinez to name a few) to gain some traction in their quest for the Hall.

The new candidates for next year offer only one surefire, first-ballot, no doubt Hall of Famer in "The Kid", legendary Mariners and Reds centerfielder Ken Griffey Jr. However, outside of Griff there are no new players on the ballot who are a lock for Cooperstown. I would venture a guess that Trevor Hoffman gains induction, although I do not know if that happens in his first year. After those two, the new ballot contains a lot of great players, but none who stand out as no doubt HOFers.

One name that jumped out to me on this ballot is former Angels and Cardinals centerfielder Jim Edmonds. Edmonds played from 1993-2010, hitting .284 with 393 home runs, while also making four All-Star teams and winning 8 Gold Glove awards. Edmonds' career certainly merits HOF consideration, but with a still crowded ballot it may be tough for him to get attention. Let's take a closer look at Edmond's case for HOF enshrinement.

For Jim Edmonds and the Hall of Fame:

Edmonds was an excellent two way player. Very few players have hit for as much power and a high average while sporting excellent defense the way Edmonds did. In fact, there are only seven players in MLB history with eight or more Gold Gloves and more HR than Jim Edmonds: Mike Schmidt, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey jr, Andruw Jones, Al Kaline, Barry Bonds, and Andre Dawson (Only three [Mays, Bonds and Kaline] had a higher career batting average). Of those seven, four are HOFers, one will go in next year (Griffey), one is Barry Bonds, and the other, Andruw Jones, will be eligible in 2018 (although a steroid cloud could hang over Jones like it has with Bonds).

This offensive and defensive prowess helped Edmonds finish his career with a 60.3 WAR, which is tied with Harmon Killebrew, and ahead of Yogi Berra, Sammy Sosa, Hank Greenberg, Willie Stargell, and Kirby Puckett.

In addition to an excellent batting average, Edmonds got on base at a .376 clip for his career. Add that to his .527 slugging percentage (50th all time, right behind Mike Schmidt and ahead of Jim Rice and Ernie Banks) and you have a career OPS of .9030, which ranks 61st all time, ahead of Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell, Eddie Mathews, Rafael Palmeiro, Harmon Killebrew, Charlie Gehringer and Jackie Robinson.

An overall look at where Edmonds falls shows he finished in the top 150 all-time in:

Offensive WAR (109th)
SLG% (50th)
OPS (61st)
Runs (147th)
Total Bases (149th)
Doubles (126th)
Home runs (57th)
Walks (117th)
Extra Base Hits (83rd)

There are 138 HOF position players, so this shows that Edmonds ranks in and around them in many different offensive categories.

And of course, the primary file for Jim Edmonds hall of fame case:


Against Jim Edmonds and the Hall of Fame: 

There are 18 CF in the HOF. Those centerfielders average a 70.4 WAR, a 42.5 Seven year peak WAR, and a JAWS score of 57.2 (Jaws is a measurement of a players worthiness for the HOF, as compared to the players at their position who are already enshrined. It can be further explained here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/jaws.shtml).

Edmonds falls slightly short, with a 60.3 WAR and a 51.4 JAWS score (although his 7 year peak is 44.1, slightly higher than average). What this means in simple terms is this: Edmonds does not quite measure up to what the average HOF centerfielder accomplished in their careers.

Edmonds falls short on the counting stats as well, and these are the ones most often used by BBWAA members to evaluate HOFers. He finished his career with 1949 hits, 1251 runs, 393 HR, 1199 RBI's, and 67 steals. All very respectable numbers, but 393 home runs and 1199 RBI's falls short of the power hitter expectations for the HOF, where 500 HR and 1500 RBI's have become expectations more than guarantees. Likewise, his 1949 hits, 1251 runs and 67 steals indicate Edmonds does not get to go in the route of a speedy singles hitter either (again, 3000 hits or at least in the ballpark would gain him much more attention).

Edmonds never led the league in any offensive statistical categories. Voters especially love seeing dominance, and a player who was never a league leader and has a "Black Ink" score of zero does not point to dominance. Edmonds "Gray ink" score (a measure of being a statistical top ten finisher) is 60, where a HOF player averages 144.


Edmonds was a great centerfielder, a good power hitter, and a player who made some unforgettable plays. He was a legend in his own right and is a player who was vastly under appreciated with his work with the bat. However, his credentials fall just short (in my opinion) of making him a Hall of Famer. I believe outfielders like Tim Raines, Larry Walker and Dwight Evans are more deserving than Jimmy for the HOF. I hope that voters vote for him, but for my (fictional) 2016 ballot, I will be leaving him off. Perhaps if the ballot clears up a bit in the future and he remains over 5% I could make room for him on future ballots, but for now I believe that he falls into a close but no cigar category.


Predicting what HOF voters will do can be tricky. I believe that Edmonds will get votes, but not enough to reach the Hall. With the ballot clearing up he should get some attention. I think he will get enough to stay on the ballot (over 5%) but not nearly enough to go in. Somewhere around what Larry Walker (11.8% in 2015) got sounds about right.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Facts about the long ball!

"Just to hit the ball
and touch them all
A moment in the Sun
It's a gone and you can tell that one goodbye"
Centerfield - John Fogarty

Is there anything more exciting than a home run? The way the ball flies off the bat like a cannon, the brief pause where the batter looks at the ball before heading toward first, the collective holding of the breath of the crowd, and the high five between third base coach and ball player as he heads for home. Nothing is better. With the lull that post Super Bowl February brings to the sports world before March Madness and eventually (finally!) the return of baseball, let's take a look at some fun baseball facts and oddities surrounding the long ball: 

Ramon Santiago has hit 30 home runs in his 13 years in the league. His first one was a lead-off home run.....off Pedro Martinez. He also hit one in the 7th inning of the same game off Tim Wakefield.

Bobby Higginson hit a two-out, pinch-hit home run in the 9th inning off Roy Halladay......to break up a no-hitter........in Halladay's second career start.

Stan Musial hit ten or more home runs off seven different pitchers in his career.....all who were all-stars. Three of them were Hall of Famers.

Jamie Moyer allowed home runs to both Mike Schmidt (b. 1949) and Giancarlo Stanton (b. 1989).

At one point, Brad Miller had ten career home runs, which he had hit in six different games. He had four multi-HR games compared to only two single HR games.

There are two major league baseball players with ten+ wins and 50+ home runs. One is Babe Ruth......the other is Rick Ankiel.

Adam Dunn hit four home runs in an eight day span between June 6-14, 2003. Two of them, off Roy Halladay and Randy Wolf, were lead-off home runs.

In 1986, Ron Kittle (176 career HR) faced Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven 6 times. He recorded 1 double and four home runs. His slash line was a blistering .833/.833/3.000. His career line against Blyleven was .318 with 9 home runs and 16 RBI's in 50 PA's.

Five players have hit 100 or more home runs with three different teams: Reggie Jackson, Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Adrian Beltre and Darrell Evans.

Daniel Nava hit the first pitch he ever saw in the Major Leagues for a Grand Slam, off Joe Blanton.

Will Clark (who also hit a HR in his first career at-bat) was 12-36 in his career off of Nolan Ryan, with six of his 12 hits being homers.

LHP Mickey Lolich had 90 career hits in 821 at-bats, for a .110 batting average in the regular season. Lolich did, however, hit a home run in Game 2 of the World Series in 1968, en route to a Tigers victory and, eventually, Lolich winning WS MVP honors.

That's all for now, but I am happy to post more of these if people are interested! Remember, only 26 days until Spring Training games begin!