Talkin’ Baseball, January 22, 2019 (#1)

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Welcome to the first of what I hope will be a running blog series, “Talkin’ Baseball with Jason J. Connor.” Before I jump in, I’m going to kind of explain how I came to be writing this series. I’ve been a baseball fan since 1988, so we’re talking over 30 years. I like to consider myself somewhat knowledgeable on the subject. I also took two years of Journalism classes in high school because, at the time, my dream was to be a sports writer.

I guess this is as close as I’ll come to that dream. But I’ll take it.

While I have been encouraged a lot to do this, I wanted to wait until now and have my first entry cover the 2019 Hall Of Fame inductees. Anyone who knows me knows I am a White Sox fan to the core, but I don’t want this blog to be only about the White Sox. But, naturally, since the White Sox are the only team I follow intently, that’s where 85% of my coverage is going to go. But I want to leave that 15% wiggle room for other important developments.

So, with that, let’s jump right in.

THE 2019 BASEBALL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES

The BBWAA (Baseball Writers Association of America) released the results of balloting for the 2019 class earlier this evening. I had planned on watching it live but had a lot going on, I brought the feed up on my phone only to be hit in the face with commercials, and the first sound to come out of my phone was an ominous voice saying “indigestion and gas?”

I closed the screen and figured that was a bad omen and I’d wait to read the results.

When I read the results a little while ago, I was not at all surprised with three of the inductees and pleasantly surprised with the fourth. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, Phillies and Blue Jays starter, the late Roy Halladay, Mariners DH Edgar Martinez and Orioles and Yankees starter Mike Mussina all made the cut. Congratulations to the class of 2019.

Rivera, one of the greatest closers in the history of the game and the best I have ever seen, was elected on the strength of being named on 100% of the ballots cast, the first player in the history of the sport with that distinction. As great as Rivera was (an MLB record 652 saves and a career ERA of 2.21, and that’s over 1,115 career games), it’s hard to imagine that Ken Griffey, Jr., Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, Cal Ripken, Jr. and even Babe Ruth failed to receive a 100%. For years it was rumored that the old guard in the BBWAA didn’t think anyone deserved to be named on 100% of the ballots so someone would leave the “head of the class” off their ballot just to keep anyone from receiving 100%. Apparently that has now changed.

Having said that, Rivera is beyond deserving and is, in fact, deserving of the “100%.” It just baffles me that no one before him has ever earned that distinction.

Halladay was named on 85.4% of the ballots. Considered one of the last true “workhorses” in baseball, he lead the league in innings pitched four times in his 16-year career, and lead the league in complete games seven times. I do, however, take issue with his being elected, especially his first time on the ballot. Halladay was killed in an airplane crash on November 7, 2017, and I think his passing played a very large role in his induction.

Halladay won 203 games, with a 3.38 career ERA, and a very solid 64.3 WAR. But his numbers across the board don’t scream “Hall Of Famer” to me. The 203 wins are solid, but Mark Buehrle won 214 games for the White Sox, and I doubt he’ll ever see the Hall Of Fame unless he buys a ticket to get in. His 3.38 ERA is nothing to get excited over. He did win two Cy Young awards but so has Corey Kluber and I don’t see him as a Hall Of Fame pitcher.

He also comes up short in some of the “sexy” pitching stats. Halladay was never a big strikeout pitcher, in fact, his career high (220) in 2011 is pedestrian even by today’s standards, when pitchers work far fewer innings. The one area Halladay did excel was in his control, after a difficult first season (79 walks in 149 innings) he would settle down and despite a massive uptick in innings pitched, his walk totals never exceeded 62 for the rest of his career, and generally settled in the 30’s or 40’s. In spite of that, I still see Halladay as a “Hall Of Very Good” type pitcher, who will be remembered for his playoff no-hitter, his perfect game and his untimely death more than his actual across-the-board career.

Also clocking in at 85.4% is Edgar Martinez, who has had the drum beaten for him for the last few years. And my one major sore point in this year’s class. I absolutely do not think Edgar Martinez is a Hall Of Fame player. I watched his entire career, and I saw a guy who was a good, professional hitter. But Hall Of Fame-worthy? No way. To put his career numbers into perspective, he played four fewer seasons than fellow inductee Harold Baines (and one of the seasons Baines played before Martinez was in the Majors was a strike season) but finished his career with nearly 80 fewer home runs and nearly 400 fewer RBI.

Two guys who played the same position most of their careers: DH.

And for a guy who was a “professional hitter,” and not just a “slugger,” Martinez finished his career with 2,247 career hits, far below the old threshold for induction of 3,000. Martinez won two batting titles (and retired with an outstanding .312 career batting average) but considering that 95% of his statistical output came during what’s known as the “Steroid Era,” it really has to make one wonder. From 1990 to 1992, Martinez hit a total of 43 home runs in 1,559 at bats. From 1998 to 2000, he hit 90 home runs in 1,614 at bats. Sounds fishy to me.

I just don’t see anything special about Edgar Martinez across the board.

Finally, we have Mike Mussina, who was named on 76.7% of the ballots. I think Mussina should have been in years ago. Mussina won 270 games (compared to Halladay’s 203 in two more seasons) and compiled 2,813 career strikeouts (nearly 700 more than Halladay) in addition to winning seven Gold Gloves. Mussina also had control just as solid as Halladay, never walking more than 69 batters in a season (in 243 innings in 1996) and usually settling in the 40’s in 200+ innings. I can honestly say that Mike Mussina was one of the best pitchers I have ever watched and was one of the players I would tune in to watch specifically.

Absolutely, 100% deserving and deserved better than 77%, to be honest.

SOX STUFF

This will be where I will tackle Chicago White Sox stuff, thus the name “Sox Stuff.”

Tonight I’m going to tackle the latest White Sox rumor, the rumored flirtation with the Los Angeles Dodgers regarding outfielder Joc Pederson and bringing him to the South Side.

Let’s first look at the White Sox outfield as it stands right now. I am going to assume they’ll be starting some combination of Adam Engel, Daniel Palka and Jon Jay, with Nicky Delmonico and Leury Garcia riding the pine. That group, in total, combined for 48 home runs last year, with Palka contributing over 56% of that total (27) by himself. Engel, Jay and Garcia are not home run hitters and never will be. Delmonico is a guy who, in a perfect world, could probably top out at 15 or 16 and I doubt Palka will come close to 27 again once pitchers figure him out.

Pederson has hit 20+ home runs three of the past four seasons. There’s a track record there. Yeah, he won’t hit for a high average but he has massively reduced his strikeouts in recent seasons and has a quality glove. This is a move I would make in a heartbeat.

This is a move I would make with even more haste given the White Sox lack of production at third base, which is traditionally a power position that’s being manned by Yolmer Sanchez, who topped out last season with a .242 batting average and eight home runs. With it looking increasingly obvious that the White Sox will not be bringing in prized free agent Manny Machado and lesser third baseman Mike Moustakas still available, it would make sense to strike while the iron is hot. And since Moose can probably find a better option than the White Sox (as Machado apparently will do), the Sox need to get power wherever they can.  If you can’t get that 20+ home run production at third, why not get it in the outfield?  And the Dodgers seem keen to move him, so the cost (rumored to be Carson Fulmer and a couple of prospects) is not prohibitive, especially when none of the Sox players mentioned have any production to speak of at the MLB level.  This is a move I would make all day, every day.

I’m just as tired of the Machado/Harper chase as everyone else, and since there hasn’t been any news in days, there’s really nothing to say. Neither will be with the White Sox.

Well, that about wraps it up for my first “Talkin’ Baseball” entry and we’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to tie myself down to a rigid schedule with this, I’d rather wait until there’s something legitimate to talk about and then post, rather than just posting for the sake of posting.

Thank you for reading. Peace.

and GO SOX!

2 thoughts on “Talkin’ Baseball, January 22, 2019 (#1)

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