Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's Gonna Be A Player's Arbitration Year

There's not a whole lot a real good number crunching GM can say. Hey, don't you know there's a recession going on? We can't possibly give Francisco Liriano $5m!

That ship has sailed, that plane has flown, that Elvis has left not only the building, but he's residing now in Reno after retirement from that Las Vegas gig.

When a cadre of GMs stepped to the plate during the first two weeks of January as they prepared their arbitration numbers and broke the proverbial bank for their players who had achieved that status and awarded contracts way beyond the norm, or prudent, in order to keep them from the arb table, there's no use almost anyone getting into that argument. The argument is lost. Prince Fielder, who's at least a very good to great player, was awarded the highest amount in history with a $15.5m one year deal. A player like Kyle Kendrick, ... Kyle Kendrick for sake, was awarded $2,450,000. He'd have been ecstatic with $1,609,000, which is where the SPRO salary projection system pegged him. This is a man with an above MLB average ERA, and although we actually like Kyle, most teams have a half dozen guys toiling in their minors who could step in right now and perform to that ERA and get the major league minimum, $414,000.

Matt Capps got $7.15 million after one good year; geez, didn't he used to be someone the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals didn't really want a little more than that one year ago after he posted an ERA of 5.80 in 2009?

Okay, we'll stop now. You get the picture. Salaries are rising in professional sports, and particularly baseball and their arbitration eligibles this year. Somehow, someone should have reminded somebody that the public who pays their salaries don't have jobs.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Shock of This Years HOF Election

No, it's not in who made it, or even in who came close. We predicted that Bert Blylevin and Roberto Alomar would be in this year, even though we'd have preferred Jeff Bagwell over one of them, but recognized that he wouldn't make it. Thought his percentage was about where it would be, in the middle of the electorate pack. But the shock of this election, ... no doubt about it for us, ... was in the one and done candidacy of one of the best pitchers of his age, yet below the radar for most, Kevin Brown.

Ask most baseball fans who Kevin Brown was and you'll likely get a shrug. There's the reason, folks, he didn't get in. He's also getting that shrug from the writers. But that's just not fair. Kevin Brown, during some years, was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. Yes, he moved from team to team to team. And that hurts. No, he didn't pitch as long at the top of his game as he should have. We recognize that, too. However, there were those 211 wins sprinked across the baseball landscape of Texas, Baltimore, Florida, San Diego, the Dodgers, and the Yankees. From 1996 to 2000, he won 82 games and pitched over 230.0 innings each year, some of that during the peak of the steroid era. His ERA those years had a low of 1.89 and a high of 3.00.

Let's track those years and how he ranked among all pitchers for those 5 seasons.
1996 - #2 behind John Smoltz
PEVA 40.004 (#65 best pitching year in baseball history)
1997 - #9 behind Clemens, Maddux, Martinez, Schilling, Neagle, Randy Johnson, Kile, Pettite
PEVA 22.694
1998 - #2 behind Maddux
PEVA 42.712 (#47 best pitching year in baseball history)
1999 - #3 behind Pedro and Randy Johnson
PEVA 29.265
2000 - #4 behind Martinez, Maddux, Johnson
PEVA 23.960

Only future Hall of Famers above him.

Oh, sure, he was pretty good those years, but overall, he didn't have enough wins. Maybe that's an okay reason to keep him out of the HOF, but it's certainly not enough to kick him out after the first year of eligibility.

And BTW. Don Drysdale had 209 wins. Hal Newhouser 207. Pedro Martinez has 219 and he's gonna get in in the first year. And let's not rank on his winning percentage. Kevin Brown was 211 and 144. 59.4%. Hey, I wanted Bert to get in, but his winning percentage was 53.4%. Brown's career ERA was 3.28, Blylevin 3.31, Jack Morris (the new darling of the not yet in crowd) 3.90. And Brown pitched in a much more difficult era to pitch than either.

There needs to be a do-over here and the writers who vote should be ashamed. Again, I'm okay that a pitcher like Kevin Brown is on the outside looking in, but he should be on the outside looking in after he gets the same 15 years consideration of any other pitcher with more than 200 victories. If after those years, he still is not in the Hall, so be it. He's not an automatic lock to us, but better than a bunch of others already in.

And at the end of the day, perhaps even after the Veterans Committee considers Brown way down the line, he'll might be the best pitcher in baseball history not to make the Hall of Fame. Geez, this is one time I hope those men on the VC quickly rectify this overlook, and at least give Brown a fair shot to make his case the same way Blylevin did and Jack Morris will.

To check out more about Brown and where he ranks in baseball history, buy the Stat Geek Baseball, Best Ever Book, now in the updated 2011 version.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Our Ballot for the Hall

Okay, we don't have one, but if we did, what would our ballot for the Hall of Fame class of 2011 look like. It would be short. Our philosophy about the Hall of Fame is that it is a special place for special players and don't like it when marginal candidates enter. However, our philosophy, at least as far as who will get into the Hall of Fame is changing. We acknowledge that election has alot to do with positions and where players rank among players who played at catcher or shortstop or first base did, and we'll now take that into consideration. But we still think election should be rare. How rare? Only no doubt about it candidates plus about one other per year. In the average year, we think there should be two players elected; if there are three no doubts, then a maximum of three, and never less than one. Okay, that's our philosophy, not saying it's a good one.

Here goes our application of that philosophy for 2011. There is only one no doubt about it candidate for us and it won't be one that everybody agrees with.

We vote for: Jeff Bagwell.
Why: In Stat Geek Baseball's PEVA rankings of best offensive players in baseball history, Bagwell has 293.606 PEVA Regular Season points. Every player with more than 275.000 who is eligible for the Hall of Fame is already in Cooperstown. That's a no doubt about it for us. Add in 449 HR, 1529 RBI, and a 0.297 batting average. Add in the fact that he's the best player in the history of the Houston Astros, too.
Why He Probably Won't Make It This Year: Most HOF voters will not think he's a First Year and In type of player. Not dominant enough for them. And they don't think 1500 RBI is magic like 500 HR used to be.

We vote for: Bert Blylevin
Why: Because he's the best player just below the No Doubt About Its not to be in and this is his last year. PEVA points of 271.050 regular season is just below the 275.000 automatic line, and his 287 wins are just below 300. And we don't hold those 250 losses against him as much as others might, because of the teams he played for. A 3.31 ERA, even though he pitched 22 years, is pretty good, too.
Why He Will Make It This Year: Second to last year of eligibility and we don't think the writers will want to make him wait out that final year or until the Veterans Committee. Plus he was so close last year.

Who'll Also Get In This Year That We Won't Vote For: Roberto Alomar
Why: Not an automatic inclusion for us, and we already voted for Blylevin. Alomar is gonna make it however, and we won't argue against it. He would be the 7th highest ranked second basemen in the Hall, of 19 in, if elected. And it's fine with us to elect someone in the top half of his position. We just wouldn't do it this year.

Who Won't Get In This Year, but eventually will: Kevin Brown and Barry Larkin
Why: Kevin Brown was a lot better than many folks remember, but it will take more than a few years until he gets elected. His lack of wins, 211, will hurt him, but eventually people will realize that Brown may have been a pitcher in the mold of Don Sutton and Fergie Jenkins and eventually vote him in. He would be ranked #16 All-Time among HOF members today in PEVA total, and that would be among 61 already in. Barry Larkin is not someone will will vote for, ... just think he'd be below the half way mark in shortstops already in the Hall and there are too many of them in there already, 21. But we think the voters will vote him in, and he's certainly in the class of Pee Wee Reese and Ozzie Smith, but we likely wouldn't have voted for them either.

Who Will Likely Never Make It: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro. And it's not just the PED issue, although that will be the one that doesn't allow them to be included for most. They're just not automatic Hall of Fame guys to me and with the PED cloud in there as well, not gonna make it, at least from the vantage point of today.

Well, we'll have to wait until tomorrow to see who's in for 2011 or not. It'll be interesting to see where the new candidates sit after that day. How far up the percentage totals people like Kevin Brown are and if this year greets Bert with a HOF nod. We hope it does.