Polo Grounds

Polo Grounds

Monday, December 19, 2016

My 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot

It's time for me to explain my reasoning behind my (sadly fictional) ballot for the 2017 Hall of Fame class. There's a ton of writing below, so I'm not going to waste everyone's time with an introduction paragraph. Here is everyone on the 2017 Hall of Fame Ballot. I have put a line through anyone that I have ruled out based on merit:

Jeff Bagwell
Casey Blake
Barry Bonds
Patt Burrell
Orlando Cabrera
Mike Cameron
Roger Clemens
J.D. Drew
Vladimir Guerrero
Carlos Guillen

Trevor Hoffman
Jeff Kent
Derrek Lee
Edgar Martinez
Fred McGriff
Melvin Mora
Mike Mussina
Magglio Ordonez
Jorge Posada
Tim Raines
Manny Ramirez
Edgar Renteria
Arthur Rhodes
Ivan Rodriguez
Freddy Sanchez
Curt Schilling
Gary Sheffield
Lee Smith
Sammy Sosa
Matt Stairs
Jason Varitek
Billy Wagner
Tim Wakefield
Larry Walker

This leaves me with 17 names. If the HOF changed the rule of ten and allowed voters to vote on a yes/no basis, these are the 17 players that I would vote for, no questions asked. I believe each of these players deserves HOF enshrinement. However, the current rules state that I can only vote for ten players. So I am forced to make decisions on how I want to craft my ballot around this rule.

Voters who feel there is a logjam on the ballot have faced this conundrum a couple of different ways. One voter, Kevin Cooney from Philadelphia, has stated that "with a numbers crunch, you have to set a rule, mine is 'clean guys first'". This is the philosophy I have adopted in the past, leaving off guys like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro. The problem with this philosophy is that it is impossible to know who is clean and who isn't. Obviously a guy like newcomer Manny Ramirez is known to be a PED user, he was suspended twice under baseball's policy, the first player to appear on the ballot who was. But fellow ballot members Ivan Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield murky the water. Pudge was named in Jose Canseco's tell all book Juiced as having been injected by Canseco himself. That seems pretty damning, but is not 100% proof. Is it fair to keep him out because of that? Likewise, most people assume Sheffield used steroids. But how do we know for sure? Is there any way to know with any certainty that Pudge/Sheffield did steroids? Or even that Vladimir Guerrero didn't? It becomes a very slippery slope, and one that I am not super comfortable messing with. I hate that last year I voted for Jeff Bagwell and not Gary Sheffield, when I think they both deserve to be in the HOF. I have no concrete reason to assume that Bagwell is clean or that Sheffield isn't, other than suspicion. But since I cannot fit everyone on my ballot, I don't know what else to do.

If I were voting straight for the ten best players on the ballot, with no other factors at play, my ballot would probably look like this: Bonds, Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Mussina, and Gary Sheffield. This list is subjective of course, but in my mind that leaves seven HOF caliber players off my ballot: Trevor Hoffman, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, Jeff Kent, Billy Wagner, Fred McGriff and Tim Raines. I don't want to leave any of those guys off my list, so I'm forced to rearrange. If I follow the logic of Kevin Cooney, and use my best judgment on steroid users, I can safely eliminate Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, and Sammy Sosa. This still leaves me with 13 names. This is where it gets tricky. I could eliminate Ivan Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield and get myself down to 11, but now I am making assumptions about their steroid use without any proof, which feels wrong to me. So what do you do? Leaving off Sheffield/Pudge while voting for Bagwell/Guerrero/Walker feels wrong to me, simply because I do not know that they are clean anymore than I know that Pudge/Sheffield are not. Because of this, for the first time, I will include "likely" steroid users on my ballot. I don't think it is fair to leave them off based on a guess, so they will be considered.

So here are the 13 players remaining, sorted by WAR:

Mussina (83.0)
Schilling (79.9)
Bagwell (79.6)
Walker (72.6)
Raines (69.1)
Rodriguez (68.4)
Martinez (68.3)
Sheffield (60.3)
Guerrero (59.3)
Kent (55.2)
McGriff (52.4)
Hoffman (28.4)
Wagner (28.1)

WAR is certainly not a be all, end all stat, so let's look at this list sorted by the HOFm score, created by Bill James and used by baseball-reference (an avg. HOFer should have a score of 100 or higher)

Rodriguez (226)
Guerrero (209)
Schilling (171)
Hoffman (159)
Sheffield (158)
Bagwell (150)
Walker (148)
Martinez (132)
Kent (122)
Mussina (121)
Wagner (107)
McGriff (100)
Raines (90)

And finally, let's look at HOFs score, also created by Bill James (avg. HOFer = 50)

Sheffield (61)
Bagwell (59)
Rodriguez (58)
Guerrero (58)
Walker (58)
Mussina (54)
Kent (51)
Martinez (50)
McGriff (48)
Raines (47)
Schilling (46)
Wagner (24)
Hoffman (19)

If I combine these three stats, here is this list sorted by highest average ranking:

Ivan Rodriguez
Jeff Bagwell
Vladimir Guerrero
Gary Sheffield
Larry Walker
Curt Schilling
Mike Mussina
Edgar Martinez
Jeff Kent
Tim Raines
Trevor Hoffman
Fred McGriff
Billy Wagner

So now the question becomes, which three do I leave off? Strictly based off of these metrics, it looks like Hoffman, McGriff and Wagner should get the bump. However, I don't buy into the way these stats portray relievers. The impact on the game that Hoffman and Wagner had in their careers is not accurately reflected in a stat like WAR. If I wanted to include one (or both) of them, the next cuts would be Tim Raines and Jeff Kent.

I will not cut Tim Raines, he is in his last year on the ballot and is more than deserving in my opinion. Also, he was very very close to enshrinement last year, and I think has a good chance of going in this year. He will be getting my vote. Kent on the other hand is a player I have cut from my ballot before, and am willing to do again. None of his career #'s really jump out of the page for me, 377 home runs is very impressive as a 2B, but he was a poor defensive player and wasn't really elite outside of his power. I'd vote for him if I could, but I'm okay bumping him for one of the relievers.

If we conclude that I'm leaving off Fred McGriff (which kills me, the Crime Dog is one of my favorite players of all time, but I can't justify him over anyone else on this ballot) and Jeff Kent, that leaves Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner fighting for my last spot. I have written about Billy Wagner and his HOF candidacy here, and even compared him to Hoffman. While I think Wagner deserves HOF enshrinement, I will be giving my last vote to Hoffman. While statistically Hoffman and Wagner are very similar (except for saves) I think Hoffman had a bigger impact on the game of baseball than Wagner did, and ultimately that is what the Hall of Fame is about. Hoffman is also likely to receive the 75% needed for enshrinement (he received 67.3% last year and has received 76% of the known ballots so far this year) whereas Wagner (10.5% last year, 10% so far this year) has not seen his support get anywhere close to where it needs to be. Part of me feels like I should vote for Wagner because of this (this is the exact same logic Ken Rosenthal used on his ballot - link to that article can be found here) but ultimately I feel Hoffman is more deserving. Hopefully Hoffman can go in this year so I can use that vote on Wagner next year.

So there you have it, 17 deserving Hall of Fame candidates, whittled down to ten by the BBWAA's insistence that only ten players be voted on at a time. For the record, Ryan Thibodaux is keeping track of HOF voting here, and the results have shown that many voters would vote for more players if they could (4 of the 63 ballots say they would vote for Edgar if they could fit him on their ballot, 5 say that about Larry Walker, and 3 say that about Guerrero).

If I had to guess, I will say that three players will go into the Hall of Fame this year: Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Trevor Hoffman. So far the 63 votes that have been counted as of this writing have Bagwell (90%), Hoffman (76%), Raines (90%), and Pudge (83%) going in. I think Pudge will get less support from the quieter voters, and will fall just short. Likewise, I think Guerrero will fall just short (but over 50%) and Bonds and Clemens will continue climbing steadily upwards. Notably, Susan Slusser, a very prominent Oakland beat writer and former president of the BBWAA, has added Bonds and Clemens to her ballot, citing the recent induction of Bud Selig as her reasoning. If other voters follow suit, which many have, we may see them inch closer and closer to induction.

Next years class presents us with four newcomers who will certainly make an already crowded ballot even cozier; legendary Atlanta Braves third basemen Chipper Jones (a lock for induction), 600 home run man Jim Thome, former defensive wizard Omar Vizquel, and do it all center fielder Andruw Jones. I'll do more research when the time comes, but these four all have very real cases for induction. It should make for an interesting ballot next year, especially depending how many players go in this year.

Thanks for reading! I welcome any and all feedback.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Roy Halladay and the Hall of Fame

Most of my blogs regarding HOF candidacies have been about hitters, and for good reason: They are easier, in my opinion, to make a case for/against enshrinement. I find it easier to compare hitters to each other, and to look at certain HOF caliber stats (hits, home runs, WAR, etc.) and make an informed decision. Pitchers for me are harder to determine. 3000 K's and 300 wins have long been the gold standard, but with 300 wins becoming more and more rare, and 3000 K's becoming a bit easier (and with some starters not being strikeout pitchers) the ability to judge a pitcher as hall worthy is much harder. However, the subject of today's blog, Roy Halladay, is one I have wanted to write about for a while. Halladay was truly dominant for a very long period of time, and his resume certainly makes an interesting case for potential HOF induction. Let's take a closer look below:

For Roy Halladay and the Hall of Fame:

Roy Halladay's ten year reign of dominance between 2002-2011 is unheralded as one of the best modern stretches by a Starting Pitcher in history. During this stretch Halladay started 303 games (about 30 per year), compiled a 170-75 record, a 2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 1699 K's, 63 CG, 18 Shutouts, a 148 ERA+ and a 4.57 K/BB ratio. During this stretch Halladay ranked:

1st in Wins
1st in complete games (second place had 33, 30 less than Halladay)
1st in shutouts (6 more than second place)
1st in WAR
2nd in K/BB ratio (behind Schilling, who had half the number of games started in that window)
T-2nd in ERA (behind J. Santana and tied with A. Wainwright, in half the starts)
2nd in ERA+ (J. Santana)
3rd in WHIP (behind J. Santana and P. Martinez)
4th in K's

Halladay had a great run of dominance, but his career numbers stand alone as well. Halladay was an eight time all-star, a two time Cy Young winner, and finished his career in the top 100 in K/BB ratio (23rd), ERA+ (38th), WAR for pitchers (41st) and Strikeouts (66th). He led the league in complete games seven(!) times, and shutouts 4 times. In an era where pitchers didn't throw a lot of complete games, Halladay dominated late into games, which also led to him leading the league in innings pitched four times.

Halladay is 9th all-time in Cy Young Award shares, which gives you points for where you placed in Cy Young voting throughout your career. He is only behind Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Steve Carlton, Pedro Martinez, Clayton Kershaw, Tom Seaver and Jim Palmer. Pretty good company to be in.

The five scores baseball-reference uses to compare players to HOF players are black ink, gray ink, HOF Monitor, HOF Standards, and JAWS. Here's a pic of where Halladay compares to other HOF pitchers:

So as you can see, Halladay ranks right around the average Hall of Fame pitcher. He's slightly higher in Black Ink and HOF Monitor, and slightly lower in Gray Ink and HOF Standards. His career WAR and JAWS score are slightly below, but his 7-year peak WAR is higher. The dude screams "average Hall of Famer" which may sound insulting, but does include the phrase "Hall of Famer," so he's got that going for him.

There is no hard and fast rule regarding Postseason performance being a metric used to evaluate a players worth in the Hall of Fame, but for fringe candidates, any memorable or iconic playoff performances will certainly help (although Curt Schilling and his bloody sock may disagree). Halladay has one of the most memorable postseason performances of the last decade, his no-hitter in the 2010 NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, only the second postseason no-hitter in MLB history, along with Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series. When voters think back on Halladay's career, they will undoubtedly remember that moment, and for many it may be the difference between him getting their vote or not.

Against Roy Halladay and the Hall of Fame:

The above mentioned ten year peak for Halladay is incredible, but the other six years that he spent in the big leagues (1998-2001 and 2012-2013) were not very good. Halladay broke out in 2002 at age 25 with a 19-7 record and a 2.93 ERA in a league leading 239 innings. However, the four seasons before that, Halladay had trouble finding the strike zone and hadn't established himself as a big league starting pitcher. From 1998-2001, Halladay went 18-17 with a 4.95 ERA, a 1.54 WHIP and a 97 ERA+ in 78 games, only 49 as a starter. He eventually corrected the control issue, as he led the league in fewest BB/9 three consecutive years from 2009-2011.

As quickly as Halladay rose to prominence in the MLB, his descent was even sharper. Halladay finished 2011 with a 19-6 record, a 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and a blistering 163 ERA+. However, his 2012 looked quite a bit different, as he made 25 starts and finished with an 11-8 record, a 4.49 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and a 90 ERA+. 13 terrible starts in 2013 (6.82 ERA and 55 ERA+) and Halladay was done, out of the league at age 36, only 2 years removed from a 2nd place finish in Cy Young voting. Injuries played a massive role in Halladay's decline, but his control declined sharply as well. Halladay walked 35 hitters over 233 innings in 2011 (league leading 1.3 BB/9), but walked 36 in 156 innings in 2012 (2.1 BB/9) and 36 again in 2013, over only 62 innings (5.2 BB/9). It is hard to say whether injuries played a part in Halladay's sudden loss of control, but the impact it had was substantial.

Halladay's closest statistical comparison, according to baseball-reference, is Dwight Gooden (also nicknamed Doc) a great pitcher who flamed out quickly and never made the Hall of Fame. You could argue the same fate awaits Halladay, although his reign of dominance was much longer than Gooden's, although not quite as good. 

Personally, Halladay reminds me a lot of former Yankees great Ron Guidry, a pitcher who had three great seasons, 4-5 very good seasons, and a few mediocre/bad seasons. Neither of them had exceptionally long careers (16 years for Halladay and 14 for Guidry) and both of them truly dominated for a few years, but ended up with career stats that fall short of "traditional" Hall of Fame numbers (203 wins for Halladay and 170 for Guidry, 2117 K's for Halladay and 1778 for Guidry). I have no doubt that Halladay, over the course of his career, was a better pitcher than Guidry, and the stats back that up (Halladay had more wins, K's, a better WHIP, K/9, K/BB and ERA+, Guidry had a lower ERA and more CG, in a different era). However, Guidry lasted nine years on the ballot, never receiving more than 9% of the vote before falling off in 2002 with only 4.9%. Halladay may have been better than Guidry, but better enough to earn 75% of the vote?


I think Roy Halladay deserves to be a Hall of Famer, but man he is really close. I don't think that he is a better pitcher than Mike Mussina or Curt Schilling, who are both on the ballot still waiting to get in, but I think he is slightly better than HOF snubs David Cone and Kevin Brown (and the above mentioned Ron Guidry). Halladay was the best pitcher in baseball for ten seasons, and even though the rest of his career was rather pedestrian, it is hard to ignore what he did from 2002-2011. Toss in a playoff no hitter, and a regular season perfect game, and you got yourselves someone who I think deserves to be in Cooperstown.


I'm not sure why I still even make these, as the HOF voting has been very difficult to predict lately. Mussina and Schilling have not gotten the support necessary to gain induction, although it is possible both will be in by the time Halladay hits the ballot in 2018. I think Kevin Brown was about as good of a pitcher as Halladay was, and he only received 2.1% of the vote in 2011. Guidry is another decent comp, and he didn't even get over 10%. However, Halladay has a legacy with his no-hitter, and I think will garner more attention than those two. Will he get enough to get enshrined? Not based on how they have been voting lately, but I bet he hangs around on the ballot and maybe eventually gets enough of a boost to hear his name called. I wouldn't bank on it happening for at least 5-6 years on the ballot though. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Assessing my 2016 Predictions

So on March 30, 2016 I posted a blog (which can be found here) making 15 predictions for the upcoming 2016 season. With that season now in the books, let us take a look at those predictions and the ones I got right (yay Cubs!), and more importantly the ones I didn't get right (booo Byron Buxton).

1. Miguel Cabrera finishes the season with .330/30/100. (not quite, 0/1)

I knew at the beginning of the season that this was an ambitious goal. Basically, Miggy would have to play a full season to reach the 30/100 mark, and playing a full season while hitting over .330 is a challenge. Miggy hadn't gone .330/30/100 since 2013, but he came pretty close this season, blasting 38 home runs and driving in 108, while managing a still very good .316 batting average. Great season, but didn't quite meet the lofty prediction I made for him.

2. Byron Buxton plays a full season, shows why he is a top prospect. (nope, 0/2)

On April 24, Byron Buxton went 1/5 with 4 K's, bringing his slash line on the season to .159/.208/.289 with 0 HR, 2 RBI's and 24 K's in 45 at-bats. Buxton, understandably, was sent down to AAA at this point, where he remained for about a month until he returned on 5/31. From 5/31 until 8/5, Buxton hit .204/.257/.322 with 1 HR and 56 K's in 46 games, slightly better than his early season woes, but still less than ideal. Buxton went down to AAA again, and came up when rosters expanded in September. From 9/1 until the end of the season, however, Buxton hit .287/.357/.653(!) with 9 home runs and 38 K's in 29 games. My prediction was obviously wrong, as a "full season" was not met and his .225/.284/.430 slash line certainly isn't good, but his late season push gives some hope that the former top prospect isn't going to be a complete flame out.

3. Jonathan Schoop finishes with 25+ home runs. (yay! 1/3)

I predicted that Schoop's 16 home runs in a half season in 2015 would translate into an increased power stroke this year, and hitting toward the bottom of a loaded Orioles line-up would help him get some fastballs to hit over the wall and lo and behold, that's what happened. He barely made it, hitting exactly 25 home runs, but look for the young second basemen to continue to develop his power stroke in the future.

4. Marcus Stroman is the 2016 AL Cy Young winner. (yikes. 1/4)

Yikes.Stroman looked primed to build off of a strong postseason last year, and I felt his first full season would lead to close to 20 wins and nearly 200 strikeouts. Instead, Stroman struggled mightily against the power heavy AL east, having many of his starts against the loaded Red Sox and Orioles offenses. While he managed to pitch a full season (32 starts) he only managed a 9-10 record, a 4.37 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and 166/54 K/bb ratio. Not exactly Cy Young numbers from the young righty. 7 of his 32 starts were against either the Red Sox or the Orioles, yet 36 of his 104 total runs were surrendered in those games. One positive if you are a Blue Jays fan is that Stroman had a 4.89 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 6.4 K/9 in the first half of the season, but managed a 3.68 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 8.5 K/9 in the second half, leading me to believe that he can build off of that and look more like the pitcher he was in the 2015 play-offs next season. 2017 Cy Young seems like a stretch, but maybe I'm just a year off.

5. Nick Castellanos finally breaks out, becomes big piece for Tigers. (yay! 2/5)

I'm going to give myself a point on this one, even though looking at his full season stats from last season to this season don't look dramatically different.
In 2015 Castellanos slashed .255/.303/.419 with 15 home runs, 73 RBI's and a 0.5 WAR in 154 games.
In 2016, Castellanos slashed .285/.331/.496 with 18 home runs, 58 RBI's and a 1.6 WAR in 110 games.
So while the home runs only increased slightly and the RBI's went down, Castellanos did manage to improve his WAR by 1.1 while playing in 44 less games, and improved his batting average 30 points, his OBP 28 points and his slugging percentage 57 points.(!) Digging more into the data, Castellanos' first half of the 2016 season looked like this:

85 games, 354 PA, 17 HR, 51 RBI's, .302/.342/.534

A wrist injury derailed Castellanos' second half, which kept his season numbers down. However, Castellanos was on pace for a 30 home run, 100 RBI season with over a .300 batting average. It's hard to say whether he would have achieved that (he only hit .217 in the 93 PA's he had in the 2nd half) but it's clear that a full season from a healthy Castellanos would have been a big step up from his 2015 numbers. If he manages to be healthy next year, I would expect to see something like .280/.340/.480 with 25 home runs and 85 RBI's. He will never be an elite fielder at 3B, but those offensive numbers paired with at least average defense should merit a 2.5 WAR.

6. Didi Gregorius hits more home runs that Alex Rodriguez. (Wow! 3/6)

""I have to have one ridiculously, comically bold prediction each year, mainly for the one time I get it right and can tell everyone I called it."" - my words when this blog was posted 3/30/16.

Hooray! I can finally say I called it. I predicted Didi's flyball % would increase which would lead to an increase # of HR, and without many internal candidates to replace him at SS, that he would get a lot of at-bats. With 597 plate appearances this year, Didi was able to launch 20 home runs on a 40.3 FB%, up from his 34% the year prior. I also predicted that A-Rod would end up losing playing time to Tex and Beltran at DH. As we all know A-Rod really limped to the finish line this year, hitting only 9 home runs in 65 games, falling 4 short of 700 for his career. His season was cut short by the Yankees who announced he would be getting cut during the season, letting him play out one more game before cutting him loose. It was a sad ending for a brilliant, but very tainted career for A-Rod. 

7. Ichiro falls just short of 3,000 hits. (nope (hooray!) 3/7)

Super glad I got this one wrong. My prediction was basically that Ichiro would hit somewhere around .260 with 200 or so at-bats, which would leave him 10-15 hits short of 3000. However, Ichiro was given 327 at-bats in 143 games, and hit .291, his best batting average since 2010. This led to 95 hits on the season, including his 3000th on August 7th. What a ride for Ichiro it has been, here's to hoping he sticks around for another year or two.

8.  Adam Laroche plays in the MLB this season. (nope, 3/8)

Back in March Adam Laroche abruptly left the White Sox organization, due to disagreements with management's insistence that he not parade his 14 year old son, Drake Laroche, around the clubhouse as much. This caused a lot of controversy, as many players felt that the GM's rules were too strict and Laroche should be allowed to hang out with his son, while others felt that bringing your son to work every single day is unnecessary (word also came out that Drake was rarely attending school, instead spending time with his dad). Anyway, at the time it seemed likely that once this blew over Laroche would catch on as a DH or left handed bench bat for a contending team, but he seemed pretty content to not return to the game, and appears to have full on retired with 255 career home runs over his 12 year career.

9. Zack Greinke is not the best SP on the Diamondbacks. (nope, 3/9)

This was basically a two part prediction that I only really got half correct. I said that Greinke would struggle with the pressure of his new contract and would not pitch nearly as well as he did in LA. His 4.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 101 ERA+ confirmed that - however I also expected that one of Patrick Corbin or Shelby Miller would step up and out pitch Greinke over the course of the season. That part did not come true, as both Corbin (5.15 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 85 ERA+) and Miller (6.15 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 71 ERA+) faltered this season, which along with Greinke's pedestrian season helped lead the once promising Diamondbacks to a 69-93 record and another missed playoff berth. However, Greinke statistically still looked to be the best SP on the Diamondbacks this season, making my prediction, while half-true, technically false. Bummer.

10. Carlos Rodon finishes with 200+ strikeouts. (nope, 3/10)

This prediction was based off of the fact that Rodon is capable of holding a 9.0 K/9 for a full season, so a 200 inning season would net 200 K's. However, a brief spell on the DL meant that Rodon only threw 165 innings. He did, however, strike out 168 hitters for a 9.2 K/9. Had he been able to make 32 or 33 starts, he may have had a chance. I wouldn't be surprised to see him have a few seasons over 200 K's when all is said and done.

11. Kyle Schwarber hits 40 home runs. (so close, 3/11)

I was only 40 off. An April 7th collision in the outfield cut Schwarber's season dramatically short, but the young slugger made his triumphant return in the World Series, showing the promising bat that caused many (including myself) to predict a power breakout. Here's to hoping he comes back 100% next year and makes this prediction come true, a year late.

12. AL Play-off teams: Astros, Tigers, Blue Jays. Rangers and Royals in the Wild Card.
(2/5. 5/16)

I anticipated that the Indians and Red Sox were not quite ready to make the jump into the postseason, and clearly I was wrong. The Indians surprised everyone by actually having an offense, with Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana each blasting over 30 home runs and rookie Tyler Naquin providing some oomph as well. Meanwhile the Red Sox made rebuilding look real easy, as their young core, led by Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley jr and Xander Bogaerts, mashed all season and pushed them into the play-offs. The Astros and the Tigers faded down the stretch, and injuries bit the Royals pretty hard, leaving only the Blue Jays (who actually won the wildcard) and the Rangers (who actually won the division) as my only correct choices. Better luck next year. 

13. NL Play-off teams: Giants, Cubs, Mets. Nationals and Dodgers in the Wild Card. (5/5, 10/21)

Not bad huh? So I'm giving myself credit for getting all five teams right, but in actuality the Giants and Mets played for the wildcard while the Nationals and Dodgers each won their respective divisions. Semantics right?

14. Blue Jays and Cubs play for the World Series. (1/2, 11/22)

Damn. The ALCS came down to the Indians and the Blue Jays, but strong pitching from the rotation and an MVP type performance from Andrew Miller helped the Indians advance and crushed my dreams of predicting the World Series correctly way back in March. Still, I feel good about my two World Series teams being in the championship series, and getting 1/2 ain't bad.

15. I'm gonna do it. I'm going to make this prediction. Cubs win. (12/23)

Boom. 108 years of misery finally washed away by a victory in what will go down as one of, if not the best, game seven in baseball history.

Bonus 16th prediction: Will Ferrell dresses as Harry Caray and yells "Cubs win! Cubs win!" and it becomes an internet sensation.

Haven't seen this yet, but the memes of "happy Bill Murray" and the Budweiser commercial (featuring Harry Caray) that aired right after Game 7 basically count, right?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Mark Teixeira's retirement

The last week has yielded a lot of headlines in the MLB, mostly regarding players who are reaching the end of their playing careers. Lost among the headlines about A-Rod's mistreatment by the Yankees, Ichiro's 3000 MLB hit and Prince Fielder's sudden (and very sad) retirement was the announcement by three time All-Star 1B Mark Teixiera, who announced on 8/5 that the 2016 season would be his last season in baseball.

Teixeira looked to be done after the 2014 season, after hitting a combined .209/.308/.391 with 25 home runs over 571 PA between an injury shortened 2013 and 2014. Tex bounced back in 2015 with 31 home runs, 79 RBI's, and a .255/.357/.548 line, good enough to earn him his 3rd all-star nod at age 35. After that season it looked like Tex might have a few years left, but this season has been abysmal for the switch-hitter. Through 83 games Tex has slashed .197/.287/.334 with ten home runs and 28 RBI's. Teixeira announced last Friday that he will be retiring at the end of the season, so he has about six weeks left on a career that has seen him amass 404 home runs, making him the 5th switch hitter with over 400 HR, joining Mickey Mantle, Chipper Jones, Eddie Murray and former teammate Carlos Beltran.

I have two favorite facts about Mark Teixeira:
1) His batting average throughout his career is the perfect example of why the shift works (explained below).
2) He was involved in one of the most lopsided "Star for prospects" deadline trades in recent memory.
1) From 2003-2009, Mark Teixeira was a monster. He averaged 35 home runs and 114 RBI's per season while slashing a blistering .290/.378/.545. He looked well on his way to 500 home runs and a Hall of Fame career. Then, something changed in 2010. The shift had begun to gain in popularity, and teams started shifting on Tex when he swung it from the left side. From 2010-2016, Tex has averaged 23 home runs and 69 RBI's, but his slash line has dropped to .239/.336/.461. Part of this can be contributed to age/injury/etc. but the drop between 2009 and 2010 is what really startles me:

2009: .292/.383/.565  39 HR, 122 RBI's
2010: .256/.365/.481  33 HR, 108 RBI's

2009 was Tex's age 29 season, and his first with the Yankees. 2010 was Tex at age 30, and also still with the Yankees. His power #'s regressed slightly toward his career averages, but what happened to his batting average? A 36 point drop in one season, especially when he was not injured (601 AB in 2009, 589 in 2010) is pretty startling. Digging a little deeper, Tex's BaBIP (Batting average on balls in play) in 2009 was .302, and it dropped down to .268 in 2010. His career BaBIP is .283, so it appears at first that Tex just got a little lucky in 2009, and a little unlucky in 2010 (since BaBIP is largely considered luck). However, this is where I think the shift comes into play: From 2003-2009 (the "pre-shift" era) Tex had a career BaBIP of .308. From 2010-current, it has dropped to .246, over a 50 point drop. There are plenty of other factors involved, including declining speed (which means less infield hits), more infield pop-ups (11% from 03-09, 15% from 10-16) and a slight drop in his hard contact %. However, I think the biggest factor is the shift. Teams realized that Tex gets a lot of his hits on ground balls up the middle or hard ground balls pulled to right field. Once they shifted a third infielder on that side of the diamond, Tex was making outs on grounders he used to get hits on. That would help explain such a dramatic drop in his batting average, especially since many of his other peripheral stats (K%, BB%, line drive %, etc) stayed relatively constant. The last factor that helps prove this point is Tex's pulled ball %, which has stayed constant at around 52% for his entire career. How could a guy who pulls the ball 52% of the time, with a pretty consistent % of line drives, and similar rate of strikeouts, lose 50 points on his batting average on balls in play? Well, if the other teams starts playing him to where he hits the ball, and he can't follow the old baseball adage of "hit em where they ain't" then there's your answer. Tex never adjusted and started going the opposite way (on his LH swing at least) and it cost him dearly in the batting average department.

2) On July 31, 2007 Mark Teixeira was traded from the Texas Rangers to the Atlanta Braves for four prospects, a move the Braves made in part to acquire a superstar in his prime for the stretch run of the 2007 season. Tex did not disappoint, hitting 17 home runs in only 54 games with a .317 BA. However, the Braves went 28-27 the rest of the season and missed the play-offs. Tex his .283 with 20 HR in 103 games the following year, before being traded again, this time to the Angels for fellow 1B Casey Kotchman. Over his brief time with the Braves, Teixeira hit .295/.395/.548 with 37 HR and 134 RBI's in 157 games, good for a 6.0 WAR. Not bad for just a couple of prospects right? Except when the four prospects go on to become integral pieces of a Texas Rangers team that came within 1 strike of winning the World Series (twice) - then your trade doesn't look quite as good. The four players the Rangers acquired for a year of Mark Teixeira were:

Elvis Andrus (22.4 WAR w/ Texas)
Neftali Feliz (8.4 WAR w/ Texas)
Matt Harrison (9.2 WAR w/ Texas)
Jarrod Saltalamacchia (0.5 WAR w/ Texas)

Adding this up, the Rangers got four players who were worth roughly 40.5 wins, and nearly a World Series title. Injuries to Harrison and Feliz derailed their careers, which could have made this trade even more of a loss for Atlanta. Meanwhile the Braves got a two great half seasons from Teixeira, but nothing to show for it. Just goes to show the dangers of deadline trades for prospects. This still isn't as bad as my all-time favorite deadline deal, when the Indians traded an aging Bartolo Colon (in 2005) to the Nationals for three prospects: Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips. Ouch.

Last point on Mark Teixeira: Is he a Hall of Famer? Teixeira will surely go down as one of the best switch-hitters of all time and was an outstanding defensive 1B. Early in his career, Tex could do it all: hit for power, for average, had decent speed, and was an elite defensive 1B. Injuries and the shift slowed him considerably, however, and as it stands he falls into the category of great, but not Hall of Fame great (also frequently referred to as the Hall of Very Good). There are many players who were as good or better than Tex who are not in the Hall, including Jeff Bagwell (who will be soon) Carlos Delgado, Fred McGriff, Tino Martinez and Andres Galarraga.

I wish Tex all the best in retirement, he was a fun player to watch and will be missed.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Torii Hunter and the Hall of Fame

(My goal during the 2016 season is to write one blog post per week and publish them every Friday. Many of them will be Hall of Fame evaluations, but I am happy to get feedback on anything you all want to read about, or specific players you would like me to evaluate. Thanks for reading!)

Coming off a 2015 season where he eclipsed 80 RBI's for the 7th consecutive year, and reached 20 home runs for the 11th time in his career, former Twins/Angels/Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter decided to call it a career. The 40 year old finished his 19 seasons with 2452 hits, 353 home runs, 1391 RBI's, 195 steals and a slash line of .277/.331/.461. Hit hitting stats were far above average, but it was his defense that most people will remember, and part of what makes him a contender for the Hall of Fame.

For Torii Hunter and the Hall of Fame:

A list of position players with 9+ Gold Gloves and over 350 home runs includes Mike Schmidt, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr, Andruw Jones, Al Kaline and Hunter. Everyone on this list is a HOFer except Jones, who is not eligible yet. Torii had a rare gift to blend outstanding defense and blazing speed with raw power, and very few other players can match those skills.

Hunter ranks in the top 100 all-time in numerous hitting categories, including total bases (80th), doubles (63rd), home runs (90th), RBI's (80th), and extra base hits (69th). Additionally, his power-speed #, calculated by Bill James, ranks 49th all time, ahead of guys like Mickey Mantle, George Brett and Carl Yastrzemski. Simply put, Torii was one of the best hitters of his generation and played long enough at a high enough level to accrue offensive numbers that rival some of the greatest of all time.

Defensively, Torii was a wizard in the outfield. Nicknamed Spider-Man, Hunter was known for his ability to get to almost anything in the outfield, and of course for robbing numerous home runs, including infamously taking away a home run from Barry Bonds in the 2002 All-Star game. Hunter will be remembered as one of the best defensive centerfielders of all-time. Despite having played in the same era as Jim Edmonds, Andruw Jones and Ken Griffey junior, Hunter was able to stand out as one of the true great centerfielders of his era, and of all-time.

Against Torii Hunter and the Hall of Fame:

Torii Hunter does not stack up favorably to the centerfielders who have already been enshrined in Cooperstown. The average Hall of Fame centerfielder has a 71.1 WAR, a 44.5 seven year peak WAR, and a JAWS score of 57.8 (more explanation of JAWS here) Torii's numbers for comparison are a 50.3 WAR, a 31.2 seven year peak WAR, and a 40.6 JAWS score. All of these fall considerably short of what Hall of Famers look like at his position, and his closest comparisons are Devon White, Brett Butler and Ellis Burks. All great players, none whom are in the Hall of Fame.

Torii was a great hitter, but he was never the best centerfielder in the league, and he never led the league in any hitting categories. Being the best in the game is not a requirement for HOF enshrinement, but Torii only finished top ten in MVP voting once, and was never truly a "dominant" player.
The Hall of Fame is primarily made up of 3 types of players; guys who were purely dominant for a period of time, (Ralph Kiner only played 10 seasons, but led the league in home runs in 7(!) of them) the "compiler" AKA guys who reached big career milestones after having very lengthy careers (Craig Biggio eclipsed 3000 hits in his 20th MLB season, 9 years after his last All-Star game appearance) and the third type, which is a combination of both (reserved for the true greats; Mays, Aaron, Mantle, Musial etc.)
Hunter doesn't fit well in any of these categories - he played 19 years but didn't reach any HOF milestones (500 hits short of 3000, 150 home runs short of 500, 600 RBI's short of 2000). Likewise, as I stated earlier, Hunter never led the league in any hitting categories, and his "Gray Ink" score (which measures a player based on top ten finishes in various hitting categories) is 29, whereas the average Hall of Famer has a score of 144.

Hunter's closest statistical counterparts, according to baseball-reference, are Chili Davis, Dave Parker, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Lee and Dwight Evans. Beltran has a chance of gaining enshrinement once his career is up, but Davis, Parker, Lee and Evans are all not Hall of Famers. Hunter seems to fit in more with this group than with HOF outfielders like Kirby Puckett, Andre Dawson and Jim Rice.


Torii was a great baseball player, but he falls short of being Hall of Fame caliber in my opinion. There are a lot of outfielders who I think are more deserving than him who have not gotten their due, including Jim Edmonds, Larry Walker, Kenny Lofton and Tim Raines. Hunter was a great centerfielder, but does not cross over into the echelon of Hall of Famer in my book.


Predicting what the Hall of Fame voters will do has become more and more challenging, especially trying to look five years into the future, when Hunter will be eligible. However, seeing as Jim Edmonds got bumped on his first year on the ballot I don't see a lot of hope for Hunter, who wasn't quite as good as Edmonds was. On the flip side, a lot can change in five years and Hunter was a very popular player during his career. I don't see that alone being enough to get him into Cooperstown, however.

Thanks for reading! Feedback is always appreciated.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The All-Dave team

(My goal during the 2016 season is to write one blog post per week and publish them every Friday. Many of them will be Hall of Fame evaluations, but I am happy to get feedback on anything you all want to read about, or specific players you would like me to evaluate. Thanks for reading!)

"Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
Had twenty-three sons and she named them all Dave?
Well, she did. And that wasn’t a smart thing to do."
- "Too Many Daves" (Dr. Seuss)

While a family of 23 young boys named Dave McCave would be quite the nightmare, a baseball team full of Daves actually wouldn't be too bad. Being a biblical name, Dave/Davids have been around for centuries, and there have been Daves at the MLB level basically forever. But what does a roster look like if you take the 25 best Daves of all-time? Let's take a look:

Catcher: Dave Nilsson (1992-1999) 10.5 WAR, 1999 All-Star.

First Base: Dave Kingman (1971-1986) 17.3 WAR, 3 time All-Star, 2 time HR Champion (1979, 1982)

Second Base: Davey Lopes (1972-1987) 42.2 WAR, 4 time All-Star, 1978 Gold Glove Award, SB leader (1975, 1976)

Shortstop: Dave Bancroft (1915-1930) 48.5 WAR, 2 top 10 MVP finishes, 2004 hits, 1971 Hall of Fame Inductee

Third Base: David Wright (2004-active) 49.9 WAR, 7 time All-Star, 4 top 10 MVP finishes, 2 gold gloves, 2 silver sluggers

Left Field: Dave Parker (1973-1991) 39.9 WAR, 7 time All-Star, 1978 MVP Award, 3 other top 5 MVP finishes, 3 Gold Gloves, 3 Silver Sluggers, 2 batting titles

Center Field: Dave Winfield (1973-1995) 63.8 WAR, 12 time All-Star, 3 top 5 MVP finishes, 7 Gold Gloves, 6 Silver slugger Awards, 3110 hits, 2001 Hall of Fame Inductee

Right Field: David Justice (1989-2002) 40.5 WAR, 3 time All-Star, 2 Silver Slugger Awards, 1990 Rookie of the Year

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz (1997-active) 51.1 WAR, 9 time All-Star, 5 top 5 MVP finishes, 6 Silver Slugger Awards, 2006 HR champ

Batting order: (162 game averages)

1. Winfield - CF                    .283/.353/.475   25 hr 100 rbi   130 OPS+
2. Wright - 3B                       .298/.377/.492   25 hr 100 rbi   134 OPS+
3. Ortiz - DH                         .284/.378/.548   36 hr 116 rbi   140 OPS+
4. Justice - RF                      .279/.378/.500   31 hr 102 rbi   129 OPS+
5. Parker - LF                       .290/.339/.471   22 hr 96 rbi     121 OPS+
6. Nilsson - C                        .284/.356/.461   20 hr 91 rbi    110 OPS+
7. Kingman - 1B                   .236/.302/.478   37 hr 101 rbi   115 OPS+
8. Bancroft - SS                    .279/.355/.358   3 hr 50 rbi       98 OPS+  (12 SB)
9. Lopes - 2B                        .263/.349/.388   14 hr 55 rbi     107 OPS+ (50 SB)

Man oh man this team would mash. There are 100 different ways to set up this batting order, but no matter how you set it up, this team is going to get guys on base and score some runs. Winfield is a first ballot Hall of Famer, and even though he's not a traditional lead-off guy, I think he'd serve this team well there. He is followed by David Wright and David Ortiz, two active guys who have put together Hall of Fame credentials (although neither is likely to make it: Wright because he's been too injury prone, Ortiz because of steroids). Follow that up with David Justice and Dave Parker, two great hitting corner outfielders who both could make an argument for HOF induction (Parker in my opinion should be in - Justice is close). Dave Nilsson left the MLB in the prime of his career, but was able to put up some excellent numbers in his brief 8 years here in America, including an outstanding .356 OBP. Kingman was Adam Dunn before Adam Dunn, a guy who couldn't do anything but hit home runs, which he did in droves. Follow that up with our other Hall of Famer, Dave 'Beauty' Bancroft, an outstanding defensive SS who narrowly edged Dave Concepcion for the starting role, and Davey Lopes, a speed demon and good defensive 2B who rounds out the order quite nicely.


Dave Valle - C
Dave Concepcion - SS
Dave Henderson - CF
Davey Johnson - 2B/1B
Dave Magadan - 1B/3B
David DeJesus - OF

There were a lot of good options to make the bench on this squad. In fact, outside of Concepcion and Dave Henderson, every other spot was a toss up. Valle was a solid catcher for the M's and serves as valuable insurance behind the dish. Concepcion was a no-brainer, he narrowly missed starting and was an excellent defensive SS. Davey Johnson and Dave Magadan give this team plenty of depth in the infield, as well as good options to pinch hit off the bench. Likewise, both Henderson and DeJesus have experience in center field, which helps give them some defensive options. Neither were slouches with the bat either. Overall, not a bad group of guys to have represent you on the pine.

Narrowly missing the cut: David Bell, Dave Cash, David Murphy, and David Eckstein.


David Cone (1986-2003) 5 time All-Star, 1994 Cy Young Award, 2 time strikeout leader (1990, 1991) Two 20 win seasons (1988, 1998) 5 World Series Rings, 121 ERA+

Dave Stieb (1979-1998) 7 time All-Star, 4 top 10 Cy Young finishes, 1985 ERA leader, 122 ERA+

David Price (2008-active) 5 time All-Star, 2012 Cy Young, 2 time ERA leader (2012, 2015) 2014 Strikeout leader, 20 wins in 2012, 124 ERA+

Dave Stewart (1978-1995) 1989 All-Star, 4 top 5 Cy Young finishes, 4 consecutive 20 win seasons, 1989 WS MVP, 2 time ALCS MVP (1990, 1993) 100 ERA+

David Wells (1987-2007) 3 time All-Star, 2 top 3 Cy Young finishes, 239 Wins, 2 World Series rings, 108 ERA+

Another situation, similar to the batting order, where you could rearrange the rotation and still get the same results. I went R/R/L/R/L, but any of Stieb, Price, Stewart or Cone could be the ace. Currently this rotation has 0 Hall of Famers, but you could make a case that they should have 3, and Price is well on his way if he continues to pitch like he has. Stieb was one of the most dominant pitchers of the 1980's, racking up seven all-star appearances and twice leading the league in ERA+, with a blistering 171 in 1985. Stewart was a postseason machine, and four consecutive 20 win seasons shows he knew how to pitch in the regular season as well. Price has been a top 5 pitcher in the game for the last 7 seasons, and at age 30 still has a lot of years ahead of him. David Cone, in my opinion, should be in the Hall of Fame. He was a top 5 pitcher throughout the 90's, a strikeout machine, and won 5(!) World Series championships. He'd be in if I had any say. Wells was an extremely solid LHP in his prime. He threw forever, racking up 239 wins over 20 years in the bigs and is about as solid of a #5 starter as you can find.


Dave McNally (1962-1975)
Dave Dravecky (1982-1989)
David Robertson (2008-active)
Dave Smith (1980-1992)
Dave Righetti (1979-1995)

The bullpen was very hard to choose, there have been a lot of Dave/Davids who have pitched in the Major Leagues, so picking the best ones was somewhat of a toss up. I know it is kind of cheating, but McNally and Dravecky were too good to leave off this roster, so I selected them as relievers even though they were both starters for the majority of their careers. Either of these two could step into the rotation and it wouldn't miss a beat. Righetti is one of the best relievers in the games history, having made the "Eckersley" transition from frontline starter to lights out closer look very seamless. Dave Smith amassed over 200 saves and was one of the first to do so, and David Robertson has looked like an outstanding shut down reliever since his debut with the Yankees in 2008.

Future additions

Currently, the only Dave/David in the Minors who seems likely to make an impact at the MLB level is Colorado Rockies outfield prospect David Dahl. Dahl was the 10th overall pick in the 2012 MLB draft and was ranked as a top 100 prospect from 2013-2015 by Baseball America, MLB.com and baseballprospectus.com. A ruptured spleen has slowed his development through the minors, but Dahl has still managed to hit .306 and steal 60 bases over his 286 MiLB games (as of 4/18). The Rockies will give him some time to prove himself (he hasn't played above AA yet) but it wouldn't be surprising to see him get a chance at the MLB level sometime in 2017. He may never crack a starting spot in the all-Dave lineup over Parker, Justice or Winfield, but he certainly has the potential to produce at a solid level in the Major Leagues.

Final Thoughts

This team wouldn't beat the all Mike/Michael team, or the all John team, or even the all Will/Willie team, but it would hold its own against a lot of other "Name" teams. I certainly wouldn't want to face a line-up with David Wright, Dave Winfield and David Ortiz in the middle of it, nor would I want to face a pitching staff with Dave Stieb, David Price and David Cone 1-3.

As always, I welcome feedback of any kind. This was a fun team to make, and there is certainly a lot of debate about who would start, what the batting order looks like, and even a few players who just barely missed the cut. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Seattle Mariners all-time team

(My goal during the 2016 season is to write one blog post per week and publish them every Friday. Many of them will be Hall of Fame evaluations, but I am happy to get feedback on anything you all want to read about, or specific players you would like me to evaluate. Thanks for reading!)

The Seattle Mariners are a funny franchise. They have had some of the most incredibly talented players in MLB history play for their team, yet they have never made it to a World Series. They have a 0.467 winning percentage and have had 28 losing seasons (out of 40), yet they have the single most successful regular season of all time (the magical 2001 season of 116 wins). They are known as a team built around pitching, yet most of their best players have been hitters, including two players with over 600 home runs, and one player fast approaching 3000 hits.

Even though the franchise hasn't been around that long, a 25 man roster of all Mariners players would not be a team many people would want to play. Taking into account only their numbers while on the Mariners, let's take a look at the All-Time Mariners roster:

C: Dan Wilson (1994-2005) 13.5 WAR, 1996 All-Star

Catcher has historically been a pretty weak position for the Mariners, with Wilson being the one exception. From 1994 through 2005, Wilson played backstop for the M's, accruing a 13.5 WAR, mostly due to his work on the defensive end. His best year came in 1996, when he hit .285 with 18 home runs and 83 RBI's. Otherwise, he was a slightly above average hitter and a great defensive catcher, as well as being a team leader and, eventually, a member of the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame.

1B: Alvin Davis (1984-1991) 19.9 WAR, 1984 All-Star, 1984 Rookie of the Year

It was hard to choose who would start between Davis and John Olerud, but it is pretty hard to leave the guy nicknamed "Mr. Mariner" out of the starting line-up. Davis came up with the Mariners in 1984 as a 23 year old and immediately made his mark, hitting .284 with 27 home runs and 116 RBI's, landing himself on the All-Star team and finishing first in Rookie of the Year voting. He went on to play seven more seasons with the Mariners, hitting 160 home runs while batting .280 with a spectacular .380 on base percentage. Mr. Mariner was the first great Seattle baseball player.

2B: Bret Boone (1992-1993, 2001-2005) 19 WAR, 2 time All-Star, 3 Gold gloves, 2 Silver Sluggers, 2 Top 10 MVP finishes

Strangely enough, 2B is a position the Mariners have historically been very good at. From Harold Reynolds to Joey Cora to Jose Lopez to Robinson Cano, they have almost always had someone solid at the keystone. None better than Bret Boone, however, who mashed his way to 2 All-star games and 2 silver slugger awards, while also capturing three gold gloves. His 37 home runs and league leading 141 RBI's in 2001 were a huge part of the M's success that year, and his 143 home runs as a member of the Mariners places him 7th all-time in franchise history. Solid defense and above average power make him a clear choice for 2B on this team.

SS: Alex Rodriguez (1994-2000) 38 WAR, 4 time All-Star, 4 Silver Slugger Awards, 2 top 5 MVP finishes.

While not remembered quite as fondly as many of the names to follow, A-Rod no doubt made his mark as one of the best Mariners of all-time. Shortstop has not been the Mariners' strongest position, but what A-Rod was able to accomplish in his seven years in Seattle is nothing short of remarkable. While in Seattle, A-Rod made 4 all-star teams, won 4 Silver Slugger awards, won the 1996 batting title, had a 40/40 season in 1998 and twice finished in the top 5 in MVP voting. He hit .309 with 189 home runs and 595 RBI's, and there is really little doubt that he is the best SS to ever don a Mariners uniform. 

3B: Kyle Seager (2011-active) 17.5 WAR, 2014 All-Star, 2014 Gold Glove winner

Honestly this position was a toss up between Seager and Adrian Beltre. Beltre statistically has a slight, slight advantage over Seager but I picked Kyle for a few reasons: 1) Assuming he stays healthy he will blow Beltre's numbers in Seattle out of the water, and 2) Beltre was generally considered a disappointment, having put up mediocre numbers in Seattle while putting up excellent numbers in LA, BOS and TEX. Seager signed a 7 year, 100 million dollar contract and assuming he continues to make slight improvements to his game should become one of the best Mariners of all-time, and will certainly be their best 3B ever.

LF: Jay Buhner (1988-2001) 22.9 WAR, 1996 All-Star, 1996 Gold glove winner, top 5 MVP finish in 1995, 3 consecutive 40 HR seasons (1995-1997).

The Bone, while naturally a right fielder, slides into left to accommodate for Ichiro's cannon arm. Buhner is one of the most beloved Mariners of all-time, and should be a great addition to this team. His three consecutive 40 home run seasons is amazing, and even if the rest of his career was only average, that alone earns him a spot in this line-up (just barely over another fan favorite, Raul Ibanez). Not to mention it would be an excuse to bring back good old "Buhner buzz nights". 

CF: Ken Griffey junior (1989-1999, 2009-2010) 70.4 WAR, 10 time All-Star, 10 Gold Glove Awards, 7 Silver Slugger Awards, 1997 AL MVP, 4 time HR champion, 2016 HOF inductee

I don't even know what I could say that hasn't already been said about the Kid. Griffey is the most loved Mariner of all-time, and quite possibly one of the most loved and cherished baseball players in the history of the game. Injuries derailed his career after he left Seattle, but his numbers while in the Emerald City are extraordinary. 10 All-Star game appearances, 10 gold gloves, the 1997 MVP award, etc etc. He was of course the final run in the 1995 ALDS against the Yankees, scoring from first on the infamous "double" and sliding into home, forever immortalized on a big mural outside of Safeco field and by a bar in Capitol Hill, simply called "95 Slide".

RF: Ichiro* (2001-2012) 56.8 WAR, 10 time All-Star, 10 Gold Glove Awards, 3 Silver Slugger Awards, 2001 AL MVP, 2001 AL Rookie of the Year, 2 Batting Titles

Ichiro took the baseball world and flipped it completely upside down in 2001, and remained one of the best players in the game for an entire decade. I'll never forget being an 11 year old kid during that 2001 season and watching Ichiro get hit after hit after hit. I remember the baseball analysts eating their words, having all said that his success in Japan wouldn't translate over to the American game. Ichiro is an international treasure, and numbers he put up here in Seattle, while incredible, don't do him justice for the impact he had on the game itself. I am looking forward to him eclipsing 3000 hits (here in the MLB, he has well over 4000 including Japanese stats) and already can't wait to hear his HOF speech 6-7 years down the road.

DH: Edgar Martinez (1987-2004) 68.3 WAR, 7 time All-Star, 5 Silver Slugger Awards, 2 Batting Titles

Without a doubt the easiest selection on this roster. Edgar is not only the best DH in Mariners history, he's the best DH of all time and it's really not debatable. The award each year for the DH of the year is called the "Edgar Martinez Award" for a reason. Edgar is the only non-active hitter on this roster who spent his entire career with the Mariners, and is in first place in Mariner team history in runs, doubles, total bases, RBI's, on-base %, walks, OPS+, and sac flies. He is one of very few players to finish his career with a batting average higher than .300, an OBP higher than .400, and a slugging percentage higher than .500. Many great hitters are lucky to do that for a single season, Edgar did that for a career. Edgar very clearly deserves the DH spot on this team, and will hopefully hear his name called for induction into the Hall of Fame soon.


Dave Valle - C
John Olerud - 1B
Harold Reynolds - MIF
Adrian Beltre - 3B
Raul Ibanez - LF
Mike Cameron - CF

A lot of these players just missed starting nods on this team. Valle is very clearly the 2nd best catcher in Seattle history, and has remained involved in the Mariners organization. Olerud was an all-star and a 3 time gold glove winner in Seattle, and his .388 OBP during his 5 years there is incredible. Reynolds wasn't a great hitter, but his speed (228 steals, 48 triples) and defense (3 gold gloves) earn him a role as a backup. Adrian Beltre narrowly missed starting on this team, and will provide great defense and RH power off the bench. Ibanez and Buhner I went back and forth on for quite a while. Ibanez averaged about 23 home runs and 89 RBI's per season with Seattle, and was a natural left fielder. I went with Buhner, but Ibanez certainly wouldn't be the worst choice in the world. Mike Cameron narrowly edged out former Mariner Phil Bradley for the last bench spot. Bradley hit for a higher average, but Cameron had more power and was a superb defensive CFer.


SP: Felix Hernandez (2005-active) 143-102, 2010 Cy Young award, 6 time all-star, 2 time ERA champion, Perfect game (8/15/2012)

The King. Felix will go down on the shortlist with Edgar, Griffey, Ichiro and Randy Johnson as the greatest Mariners of all-time, and as future Hall of Famers (Edgar better get his due soon). As I'm writing this, he just tied Randy Johnson for most strikeouts in Mariner history, and he's only 30 years old. Here's to hoping he stays a Mariner for life.

SP: Randy Johnson (1989-1998) 130-74, 1995 Cy Young award, 5 time all-star, 1995 ERA champion, 4 time strikeout champion, No-Hitter (6/2/90), 2015 Hall of Fame inductee

Randy Johnson might be the best left-handed pitcher of all-time, and he spent about half of his storied career in Seattle, where he made 5 all-star games, won a Cy Young award, and struck out over 2000 hitters. It hurt when Randy went into the Hall of Fame wearing a Diamondbacks hat, but it doesn't take away his incredible accomplishments as a Mariner.

SP: Jamie Moyer (1996-2006) 145-87, 2003 All-Star, 3 top 6 Cy Young finishes (Mariners team leader in wins)

Moyer is the franchise leader in Wins (for now, Felix is on his back) and is one of the longest tenured Mariners of all time. Known for his incredible control and agelessness, Moyer threw ten years for the Mariners, and was a 20 game winner during the incredible 2001 season. Even though he was not known for striking hitters out, he is third all-time in K's in franchise history.

SP: Freddy Garcia (1999-2004) 76-50, 2 time all-star, 2001 ERA leader, 2 top 10 Cy Young finishes

The "Chief" may not have been on the Mariners for a super long time, but he made the most of his time here. He was the ace pitcher of the 2001 team, going 18-6 with a league leading 3.05 ERA and finishing third in Cy Young voting. He was a two time all-star, and is (allegedly) the reason a teenage Felix Hernandez wanted to sign with the Mariners (and why he wears #34).

SP:  Hisashi Iwakuma (2012-active) 47-26, 2013 all-star, No-Hitter (8/12/15)

There are a lot of guys who were considered for this spot (Mark Langston, Chris Bosio, Mike Moore, Floyd Bannister, etc) but ultimately Kuma had the best numbers, and (similar to Seager) has a good opportunity to improve upon them in the next few years. Kuma has made 99 starts in a Seattle uniform, and has accrued a 3.18 ERA with 563 strikeouts, compared to only 131 walks. He's already 35, but a few more solid years out of Kuma will make him a mainstay in the all-time Mariners rotation.


Norm Charlton
Jeff Nelson
Arthur Rhodes
JJ Putz
Kaz Sasaki - CL

With the exception of Putz, all of these relievers were members of the 2001 team, and boy were they nasty. Rhodes in particular had a ridiculous 2001 season, going 8-0 with a 1.72 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and a 83/12 K/BB ratio. Sasaki wasn't around too long, but was clearly the best closer the Mariners have ever had. Charlton was a nasty Loogy during his time, and Jeff Nelson had one of the best breaking balls I have ever seen. Putz didn't spend a huge chunk of time in Seattle, but his 2007 season (1.38 ERA, 40 saves, 82/13 K/BB ratio) is one of the best in Mariner history.

Batting Lineup:
1. Ichiro - RF                                            .322/.366/.418    9hr 55rbi 38sb
2. Alex Rodriguez - SS                             .309/.374/.561    27hr 85rbi 19sb
3. Edgar Martinez - DH                            .312/.418/.515    24hr 99rbi
4. Ken Griffey, Jr. - CF                             .292/.374/.553    36hr 105rbi
5. Alvin Davis - 1B                                   .281/.381/.453    20hr 83rbi
6. Bret Boone - 2B                                   .277/.336/.478    21hr 77rbi
7. Jay Buhner - LF                                   .255/.360/.497    22hr 69rbi
8. Kyle Seager - 3B                                  .262/.328/.433   23hr 79rbi
9. Dan Wilson - C                                    .262/.309/.384    7hr 42rbi


This team is an on base machine. In fact, the lowest OBP among the 1-5 hitters in the order is .366, by Ichiro. This squad would put a lot of people on base, and RBI machines like Martinez, Griffey and Davis should have no problem bringing them home. The 2-8 hitters all averaged 20+ HR per season, so this team is going to drive the ball out of the park as well.

Defensively, this is a very good squad. Between the starting 8 fielders, they have a combined 25 gold glove awards (and that is with Reynolds, Cameron, Beltre and Olerud on the bench). Wilson is solid behind the plate, Boone and A-Rod are good up the middle, Seager is a great 3B, and Griffey and Ichiro each have ten Gold Glove awards.

I don't know that you will find a 1-2 punch better than Felix Hernandez and Randy Johnson. That's the scariest, nastiest combination to have to face I can even imagine. It feels like any series with those two pitching would be two wins, guaranteed.


No disrespect at all to Moyer, Freddy and Kuma, but the rotation does take a noticeable drop-off after Randy and Felix. This rotation would be filthy against any regular MLB teams, but if it were facing other team's top 25 rosters, I think these rotation pieces would leave some to be desired.

Likewise, the bullpen is good, but not great. The Mariners have a weird history of closers being good for one season, then awful the next (Guardado, League, Aardsma, Wilhelmson, Rodney, etc.). Sasaki was nasty, but didn't play in the MLB all that long. Rhodes and Nelson are great, but after that it thins out a bit.

Hitting wise there isn't much to complain about on this team - they are going to get on base and they are going to mash.

Future members

Looking at the current organization, there is only one player who I think is making a very good case for inclusion on this team, and that's Robinson Cano. 2B has been a great position for the Mariners historically, but if Cano hits like he has been this season, and like everyone knows he is capable of, he will have a chance to become the greatest 2B of all-time, and would most certainly put himself on this roster.

There are a few guys who are on the right track to someday make this team, assuming they continue to perform well (and stay on the Mariners): Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte. Walker has had his ups and downs, but is only 23 and has shown some electrifying stuff when he's on. It's certainly not unreasonable to believe if he stays with the Mariners that he will take a rotation spot on this team. Likewise, Ketel Marte has shown some flashes of brilliance and if he stays with Seattle, could become one of the best shortstops they've ever had. That's a lot easier to do when your competition is Yuniesky Betancourt, Brendan Ryan, Rey Quinones and Josh Wilson.

Final Note:

13 of the 25 players on this team were members of the 2001 Mariners, really emphasizing how dominant that team was to the history of this franchise. The franchise's all-time starting C, 2B, LF, RF and DH were all on that team, as well as 2 SP, four members of the bullpen, and 2 bench players.

The Mariners have had quite a few talented players play for them, and I'm sure a lot of people could think of players who they think deserve a spot on this roster. I would love to hear what you think! Likewise, suggestions for future blog posts are always welcome as well. Enjoy!