Against David Ortiz, Hall of Famer

Ortiz 2015

Courtesy of the AP

Before Pedro Martinez‘s ceremony at Fenway Park last night, the Red Sox introduced David Ortiz as, “David Ortiz, future Hall of Famer.” By any reasonable standard, David Ortiz is not a Hall of Famer.

Here’s Ortiz’s case:

  • 48.3 career bWAR. Hit .283/.377/.543
  • Best 5 seasons by bWAR: 6.4, 5.7, 5.3, 4.4, 4.2
  • 3 World Series rings, .295/.409/.553 in the postseason, lots of big clutch hits
  • 273 career games at 1b. 1,837 at DH.

Very good player. By today’s standard, not even close to a Hall of Fame player. Let’s compare Ortiz to some contemporaries:

Edgar Martinez

  • 68.3 career bWAR. Hit .312/.418/.515
  • Best 5 seasons by bWAR: 7.0, 6.5, 6.5, 6.2, 6.1
  • 0 World Series rings. Hit .266/.365/.508 in limited postseason time, mostly late in his career
  • 564 career games at 3b. 1403 at DH. Handful at 1b
  • Comparison to Ortiz: More bWAR in fewer games. Twice as much time in the field. No postseason accomplishments.
  • HOF Case: Probably should be in, but probably won’t break 50% in the voting

Jim Thome

  • 72.9 career bWAR.
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Flashback: July 21, 1988

One of the most infamous trades in Yankees history occurred on this date way back in 1988. Principal owner George Steinbrenner, before he was suspended and before he mellowed out a bit, traded Jay Buhner, Rick Balabon, and a player to be named later (Troy Evers on October 12, 1988) to the Mariners for Ken Phelps.

We all know how everything worked out because there have been many articles and blog posts written about the trade. Phelps and Buhner even got together to shoot a video reminiscing about it last year. But, we also know that the best thing to come out of that trade was this moment from an episode of Seinfeld called “The Caddy” that aired on January 25, 1996, a date which happened to be only a few months after Buhner’s Mariners knocked the Yankees out of the 1995 American League Division Series. By the way, Buhner batted .458 in that series because of course he did.…

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Sandy Koufax is Criminally Overrated

Last night, MLB announced the result of its effort to name the best four living baseball players. They came up with: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench and Sandy Koufax.

Koufax may be the most overrated player in baseball history. He began his career with 5 forgettable seasons from a young player trying to find his game. Then, from 1962 to 1966, he was the best pitcher in baseball. He led the league in ERA each year, and posted the following bWAR:

  • 1962: 4.4 bWAR
  • 1963: 10.7 bWAR
  • 1964: 7.4 bWAR
  • 1965: 8.1 bWAR,
  • 1966: 10.3 bWAR

He then retired due to an arm injury at the age of 30.

Sandy Koufax is the ultimate “peak value” Hall of Fame player. Or at least, he is the most-cited example of a peak value HOFer. In reality, his peak was excellent, but not unique. Let’s look at some of the best seasons from other players with a claim to being one of the best living pitchers:

Randy Johnson:

  • 2002: 10.9 bWAR
  • 2001: 10.0 bWAR
  • 1999: 9.2 bWAR
  • 1995: 8.6 bWAR
  • 2004: 8.5 bWAR

Pedro Martinez:

  • 2000: 11.7 bWAR
  • 1999: 9.7 bWAR
  • 1997: 9.0 bWAR
  • 2003: 8.0 bWAR
  • 1998: 7.2 bWAR

Greg Maddux:

  • 1995: 9.7 bWAR
  • 1992: 9.2 bWAR
  • 1994: 8.5 bWAR
  • 1997: 7.8 bWAR
  • 1996: 7.1 bWAR

Roger Clemens:

  • 1997: 11.9 bWAR
  • 1990: 10.6 bWAR
  • 1987: 9.4 bWAR
  • 1986: 8.9 bWAR
  • 1992: 8.8 bWAR

All of these guys had comparable peaks to Sandy Koufax.…

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Flashback: June 5, 1915


The 1915 Yankees

I’ll admit it. I panicked slightly when I remembered that I had the 10am slot and couldn’t think of anything to write about. So I did what I usually do. I went to, I went to the box scores and looked at a year that ends in a 0 or 5 and hoped that the Yankees 1) played a game or 2) won a game.

But, this time was different. When I looked at 1915 – because I thought going back 100 years would be cool – I saw that the Yankees had lost and instead of closing out and trying another year, I looked at the box score.

This is what I found:

100 years ago today, on June 5, 1915, the Yankees lost to Ty Cobb‘s Tigers by a score of 11-2.

Here are some interesting nuggets of information from that game:

  • The game was played at the Polo Grounds.
  • Cobb was 3-5 with a home run, a stolen base, two runs scored and two RBI.
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Celebrating Bernie Williams

Today is Bernie Williams Day at Yankee Stadium and I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of his biggest moments in Pinstripes (or: the only ones I could find on YouTube).

July 14, 1991: His first career home run against Chuck Finley and the California Angels.

October 6, 1995: Williams becomes the first MLB player to homer from both sides of the plate in a playoff game.

October 4, 1996: He robs a home run from Rusty Greer.

October 5, 1996: He homers from both sides of the plate in Game 4 of the ALDS against the Rangers.

October 9, 1996: The walk off in Game 1 of the 1996 ALCS against the Orioles.

October 13, 1999: The walk off in Game 1 of the 1999 ALCS against the Red Sox.

April 23, 2000: Bernie and Jorge Posada become the first teammates to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game.

October 26, 2000: He gets the Yankees on the board and ends an 0-15 slide in Game 5 of the 2000 World Series against the Mets.…

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Flashback: May 17, 2010

The game on Monday night, May 17, 2010 was your typical Yankees-Red Sox affair: It was high scoring, had a few lead changes and included ninth inning fireworks.

Phil Hughes and Daisuke Matsuzaka were your starters and it was one of those two-game, weekday sets. Hughes fared well in the early going while Matsuzaka was victimized by a bit of an offensive explosion in the bottom of the first.

Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner hit back-to-back singles to start the game and Mark Teixeira walked to load the bases with no outs. Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run single which sent Teixeira to third. Robinson Cano followed up with a single of his own which scored Teixeira and advanced A-Rod to second. Francisco Cervelli hit a double which scored A-Rod but Cano was nailed at home for the first out of the inning and Cervelli advanced to third on the throw to home. Marcus Thames hit a sac fly to score Cervelli and Randy Winn struck out to end the inning.…

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Jorge Posada Belatedly Declares Jorge Posada the 2003 MVP!

CBS Sports

CBS Sports

Did a steroid-addled pre-redemption Alex Rodriguez steal Jorge Posada‘s 2003 MVP award? Jorge said so, or at least implied it in a rambling tirade:

“The only thing that I can think is 2003. You know, I was close to the MVP. Didn’t happen. Alex won the MVP and, you know, I think second, either Carlos Delgado or David Ortiz, I don’t remember. But you know, I was almost there,” Posada said. “You know what could have happened if, you know it’s tough.”

All respect to Jorge, whom I still like a lot – but there’s no way he was the best in the league in 2003, with or without A-Rod’s pharmaceutical adventures.

Posada had a great 2003, his best year by WAR – 5.9, a level that’s usually not best-in-league, and was fifth among position players, but is as good as that of many MVPs. Posada’s offensive WAR was actually 0.4 better in 2007 than 2003, but the defensive WAR stats comport with what we all remember: by age 35, his defense had declined badly.…

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The Only Ever Split-Level Outfield: Texas’s Clark Field

I am now a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin. An older colleague, upon learning of my love of baseball, told me about the craziest thing I have ever learned about the sport. Until 1974, the University of Texas played in this ballpark:


Take a look at center field. First, you’ll see a 12 foot cliff that looks a lot like a (rather close) outfield fence. But, a closer look reveals that there is a green space above that 9 foot cliff. That space? In Play! The left fielder would have to run up the small path, called the “Billy Goat Trail” in order to catch the ball:


Unfortunately, I can’t find a lot of information on old Clark Field: I’ve found a few grainy black and white photos, one amazing article from Texas Monthly, and zero video. When I’m a little less busy, I may go on an archival search for more information. For now, we have these great anecdotes from that article:

“The cliff has contributed to some unusual baseball moments.

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