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A Baseball Blog - Scientific and Speculative Thoughts from Third Base

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Appreciating Jim Thome's Home Run of a Career

I apologize for the recent lack of updates. I’ve been very busy as of late. I am still working on the Retired Numbers Series, with two pieces started, but I’m not sure when I’ll get time to finish them. However, I hope to make up for it with a more current events-related post: an appreciation for Jim Thome and his career.

After making headlines with his recent 600th career home run, Jim Thome managed to stay in the headlines with a trade back to the Cleveland Indians, where he started his career. This adds symmetry to his career that leads me to realize that Thome’s career perfectly matches what he’s known for, that it’s analogous to his at-bats.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Re-Run: Future Hall of Fame, Center Fielders

History is littered with great center fielders, almost none of which have made the Hall of Fame. Only seven center fielders have made it to Cooperstown via the traditional method (election by the Baseball Writers’ Association). Two of those elected are Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker, who were elected in the first and second votes ever taken, respectively. So, from the Hall’s third election on, only five center fielders have been voted in in the standard way. After third base, center field may be the most underrepresented position in the Hall of Fame.

Currently, the position of Center Field is in something of a flux. There seems to be a slight “new guard/old guard” movement going on. As I compiled a list of players to cover, I noticed a definite split in age groups; players in their mid-to-late 30s with a good shot at enshrinement in Cooperstown, and players in their early twenties with their best years likely ahead. In between that, there are some good players, but no one in the group remotely resembles anything near a Hall of Fame candidate (if you would like to argue that, say, Marlon Byrd or Aaron Rowand is a Hall of Fame candidate, feel free, but don’t expect me to take you seriously).

Admittedly, several recently retired center fielders have cases for election. Recent retiree Ken Griffey Jr. looks like a first-ballot lock. Kenny Lofton and Bernie Williams have both retired recently, and may be better than you realize (especially in Lofton’s case). However, I decided to only cover current players, and so I must leave these players out.

Baseball Bloggers Alliance

In some short news, Hot Corner Harbor has been added to the Baseball Bloggers Alliance!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Which Playoff Races Will Be the Most Exciting?

Of the eight playoff spots, a great majority look to be locked up, despite over 40 games left to play. However, there is some excitement left in the regular season. Exactly 15 teams are at .500 or better, meaning that there are quite a few teams still in contention. Which races will be the most competitive down the home stretch?

(all standings are as of Tuesday night)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Re-Run: Future Hall of Fame, First Basemen

I have always figured there were a lot of first basemen in the Hall of Fame. I assumed that, since they are usually the best hitters, they would look more impressive to voters.

Not so. Only eight first basemen have been elected by writers to the Hall of Fame. Granted, this doesn’t count odd cases, like the exception of Lou Gehrig, or several players (such as Johnny Mize and Orlando Cepeda) who, while now thought of as legends, actually had to wait for the Veterans Committee to elect them.

But enough with the history lesson. The position is currently loaded with talent, making it difficult to appreciate it all. Nevertheless, I feel like, within thirty years, the likes of these players may even double the number of first basemen in Cooperstown.

PSA on the Blog Itself

I'm going to be incredilby busy over the next few weeks. That, plus the amount of time that it takes to write entries in the Retired Numbers Series, means that I will most likely be posting twice a week (likely Monday-Thursday), rather than the tree times a week schedule I was doing. Until I learn how to write shorter articles, there's a good chance I'll stay at two articles a week (who knows, though; I may be able to slip in extra articles as time allows).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Retired Numbers Series: Seattle Mariners

We have another first in the Retired Numbers Series. The Seattle Mariners do not currently have any retired numbers; this will soon change, however. Despite a history that goes back to 1977, the Mariners didn’t really get any numbers worth retiring until the last two decades or so.

Wikipedia claims that they have two requirements for this honor. Either the player must spend five or more years with the Mariners and make the Hall of Fame, or be a “career” Mariner and make the Hall of Fame Ballot. I’ll keep these two rules in mind while looking at players.

Now for the numbers.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Retired Numbers Series: Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are different than every other team that I’ve covered in my Retired Numbers Series so far. While most teams retire numbers in a semi-random fashion, the Red Sox actually have two specified rules for retiring numbers. First, the player must have spent a decade in Boston; second, they must be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Granted, they have already allowed an exception in Johnny Pesky. So, although I will make special mention of the players who qualify (or might qualify) under the current rules, I will also discuss other players. Some of them might stand a chance under the “fan favorite exemption”, but otherwise, think of it as a list of possibilities should the Red Sox change their policy.

On to the analysis.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Re-Run: Future Hall of Fame, Catchers

I'm a little busy still, and haven't quite finished the next installment of the Retired Numbers Series. Hopefully, though, by the time the one I'm working on goes up, I''ll have slight buffer again. Hopefully.

Until then, here's the catchers article for the
Future Hall of Fame Series. I've mentioned this before, but I would really like to revisit these articles in the future to see how each player has planned out. But one topic at a time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Retired Numbers Series: Houston Astros

The next team I’m covering in my Retired Numbers Series is one that has always intrigued me. When I first visited Minute Maid Park, I was actually surprised by the sheer amount of jersey numbers that they had retired. Many of the numbers were from players that I had never heard of at the time. When compared to the amount that other teams have retired, the Astros especially stand out, particularly taking into account the fact that they’re a relatively recent expansion team.

After reflecting on the Astros method, I decided that I like their methodology a lot, possibly more than any other team (at the very least, of the ones that I’ve covered so far). Every player had some significance to the team, even if they weren’t all necessarily Hall of Fame-level talents. And it preserves the memory of the players-I doubt that I would have bothered to look up some of the players had their numbers not led to my curiosity.

Anyway, onto the numbers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Retired Numbers Series: Arizona Diamondbacks

I wanted to do something different for the next piece in my Retired Numbers Series. So far, I have picked teams that go back to the early 1900s (or, in the Nationals’ case, the city goes back that far). So, I wanted to pick a team that represented the exact opposite.

The Arizona Diamondbacks seemed like a good place to start. Despite only being around since 1998, they still feel like they have a longer history and stronger team identity, thanks to their 2001 World Series victory and other successful seasons. In addition, even though they are only 14 seasons old, they already have a retired number (and, unlike Tampa Bay, they have an actual reason to retire said number).

Is there any chance that the Diamondbacks will get a second retired number soon?