Wednesday, November 15, 2017

In Memorium: Roy Halladay

You probably heard by now that former star pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico last week at the age of 40.   From the onset of his career, it looked like Halladay was destined for stardom.  On the last day of the regular season and in his second big league start in 1998 Halladay was one out away from a no hitter against the Detroit Tigers.  Pinch hitter Bob Higginson hit a opposite field home run to ruin the no no.
2006 Topps Allen & Ginter
The future looked very bright for "Doc" Halladay.  After a rather pedestrian 1999 season where he went 8-7 with a 3.92 ERA, the bottom fell out on Halladay in 2000.   Halladay pitched 67 2/3 innings with an awful ERA of 10.64.  That 10.64 ERA with a minimum of 50 innings pitched is the worst season for any pitcher in history.  Halladay was subsequently sent all the way down to single A to work on his mechanics with Blue Jays pitching guru Mel Queen.

It worked and by the end of the 2002 season he made his first of eight All Star teams.  His career accomplishments also include 2 Cy Young awards, a perfect game and the second career post season no hitter in MLB history.  He had compiled a 203-105 record with 2,117 strikeouts , 67 career complete games and an ERA of 3.38 while pitching for the Blue Jays and Phillies.
2013 Topps
Dig a little deeper in his stats. Halladay's career .659 is 12th all time among pitchers with at least a hundred decisions and 6th with 200 decisions.  But complete games is what Halladay was known for.  He led the league in the category seven times.  If want to put his career 67 complete games in context with today's superstar pitchers, it is impressive. Halladay accomplished it with 390 games started, Meanwhile Justin Verlander has 23 career complete games in 385 starts.  If you combine  Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer career complete games, it comes out to 56 CG in 971 starts.  Or if you combine the career games of Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Jon Lester and Madison Bumgarner, it is just 4 more than Halladay in 853 more starts.  Yes we live in the era of more bullpens but the above pitchers are all legitimate aces that are known to go deep in games and some are future Hall of Famers.

Halladay's work ethic and competitiveness while staying humble gained the respect from every dugout in MLB. Halladay was known to get there so early for workouts in the morning he would be waiting for clubhouse attendants and had his work done before his teammates would start what they would think is their early workouts. Halladay was also quick to praise all his teammates and team staff members when he accomplished an individual award stating that we all did it together. Of all the tributes and statements since Halladay's passing, Dodger pitcher Brandon McCarthy probably summed it up the best in his tweet: "He is your favorite player's favorite player".

Halladay is eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2019 and only if you are curious only two players have had the standard five year waiting period for Hall of Fame consideration lifted and they are Roberto Clemente and Lou Gehrig.  It is very unlikely that Halladay will be the third but his plaque will be there one day in Cooperstown.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Houston Astros: The Cliffs Notes

The Houston Astros are your 2017 World Series champions.  They do not have the storied history as other franchises such as the Yankees or Dodgers.   Because of this, the casual baseball fan may not know too much about the Astros.  This is where I come in and will give you all some fun facts of the Houston franchise.
1964 Topps
-The Houston Astros began in 1962 as a National League expansion team and was originally known as the Houston Colt. 45s.

-In 1965, the Houston ball club became the Astros as they entered a new start of the art stadium called the Astrodome named mainly because of the new US space program.

-The Astrodome was the first ever domed stadium and was dubbed the "8th Wonder of the World".  It has also had an artificial grass called Astroturf.
1981 Donruss
-Astros has had terrible misfortune with players.  Pitchers Jim Umbricht and Don Wilson passed away during their careers in Houston.  Star pitcher J.R. Richard suffered a stroke that ended his career and shortstop Dickie Thon's burgeoning stardom faded away after he was hit in the face by a pitch.

-1975, Bob Watson scored the One millionth run in MLB history.
1985 Fleer
-The Astros first divisional title was in 1980 and second was 1986 when Mike Scott became the only pitcher in MLB history to throw a no hitter while clinching a playoff spot.

-Other notable Astro no hitters include Nolan Ryan record breaking 5th career no-no and Ken Forsch accomplishing the feat after his brother Bob had already done it.  Making them the only brothers to each throw a no hitter.

-Houston was a beneficiary of one of the most lopsided trades in history.  Astros traded away relief pitcher Larry Andersen to the Red Sox for a minor league infielder named Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell end up spending his whole career in Houston and became a Hall of Famer.
2005 Topps

-There have been ten Hall of Famers who have played for Houston but Bagwell and Craig Biggio are the only ones who were inducted as Astros.

- Because of the 1992 Republic National Convention was held in the Astrodome, the Astros were forced to go on a 26 game 28 day road trip.

-Cardinals pitcher and long time Astro Darryl Kile passed away in his hotel room in 2003 due to a heart attack.  Each year since a Cardinal and an Astro are awarded the Darryl Kile Good Guy Award in his honor.

-Astros first pennant was in 2005 but got swept in the World Series by the Chicago White Sox.
2016 Topps Gypsy Queen
-As for major individual award winners.  Jeff Bagwell won a MVP(1994), Mike Scott(1986), Roger Clemens(2004) and Dallas Keuchel(2015) won Cy Youngs. Jeff Bagwell(1991) and Carlos Correa(2015) each won a Rookie of the Year award.

-Astros switched from the National League to the American league in 2013.

-With the Astros 2017 championship, they are the first from the state of Texas.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My Favorite Team

It is All Star game time and fans voted for the favorite players in the game.  Just like every other fan, I have my favorites too.  I will give you mine here but with a twist.  I will exclude all players and former players from my favorite team - Detroit Tigers.  

Catcher -  Salvador Perez , Kansas City Royals.  I like him because he is a gamer.  He plays just about every game each and every year.  Perez is one of the best defensive players and is good offensively too.   I respect guys who show up for work everyday and give it their all.

First Base - Wil Myers, San Diego Padres.  I am a fan of him because he is not your prototypical first sacker. He doesn't hit 30-40 homers and strikeout a ton each year.  Not a dead pull hitter that the extreme shifts are deployed against.  Plus Myers is old school and doesn't wear batting gloves

2nd Base -  Jose Altuve, Houston Astros.  How is someone so small be so good.  Is fun to watch and an inspiration for the short people,

3rd Base - Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies.  He can hit away from hitter friendly Coors Field.  Plus defensively, Arenado is one of the best. A Gold Glover winner each year in the majors.  He makes jaw dropping plays routine.

Shortstop - Andrelton Simmons , Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  There is so many young good shortstops in the league right now.  Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell to name a few.  It hard pick one of them, so I am going away from the group to one of the best gloves in the field.  I enjoy good glovemen.  Pure artistry on the field.

Outfielders - Ichiro Suzuki, Miami Marlins.  A legend in two professional leagues yet he still stays humble. At one time, he could do it all on the field.

Andrew McCutchen . Pittsburgh Pirates,  A former MVP and one of the good guys in the game.

Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles,  I have always liked how he carried himself on the field. He speaks his mind with class too.  I also highly considered Mike Trout because he is the best and most talented player in the game.

Starting Pitcher-  Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants.  He is an old school ace.  Give him the ball and MadBum wants to go a full nine innings and isn't afraid to pitch in the big games also.  Plus he can hit too.  Also high on my list is Jon Lester and Johnny Cueto.

Relief Pitchers - Pat Neshek, Philadelphia Phillies.  I have overall disliking for relief pitchers that I don't really want to get into here.  So, I will go with a fellow avid baseball card collector  Neshek is working on a complete 1970 Topps set- autographed.

There you have my favorite team excluding Tigers.  Remember, these guys are my favorites not necessarily who I think are the best.  Picking the best at each position is just plain lazy in my opinion.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My 2017 Hall of Fame Vote

Wednesday is the announcement for the 2017 Hall of Fame class. I would like give my ballot (if had one ) before the inductees are announced.
As a reminder, each voter is allowed to vote from zero to ten players.  A player must receive a minimum of 75%  in order to be inducted.  If a player gets less than 5%, he is off the ballot permanently. 
So here is my ballot:
Jeff Bagwell
Tim Raines
Mike Mussina
Curt Schilling
Fred McGriff
Vladimir Guerrero

I am on the fence with Ivan Rodriguez, Larry Walker and Edgar Martinez.  How much of link is there with Rodriguez and PEDs?  and With Walker and Martinez, both are very very good players but not sure quite Hall worthy.  I am a hardline no with Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds right now.

Who do I think will get in? Bagwell and Raines. Guerrero has real good shot, he may sneak in on the first ballot but my guess he will have to wait a year.  Rodriguez and Trevor Hoffman will come close also.  Clemens and Bonds will get more votes than ever but still fall short.

I am also hoping that Jorge Posada receives at least 5% of votes.  I don't think he will get in soon but I believe he should be on the ballot in the future and not be just a one and done.

Friday, January 6, 2017

In Memoriam: "Superman" Pennington

Baseball lost a former star on Wednesday, but most fans may have never heard of him. His name is Art Pennington.  He played in the old Negro Leagues in the 1940s primarily with the Chicago American Giants.
2009 Topps Allen & Ginter

Pennington was a versatile player on the diamond. He had power and speed while playing several positions too.  He finished near or at the top in stolen bases and batting average consistently with the like of Jackie Robinson and Sam Jethroe.  Pennington appeared in two All Star games-1942 and 1950.

There is an old story that when a Pennington was a teenager, he faced the great Satchel Paige.  Paige said to the youngster "Come on up, little boy" with Pennington telling him to just "throw it and duck".  Well, Paige got the best of Pennington that day but he hit well enough overall as a pro to have it become his signature phrase.

Like many other negro leaguers, Pennington also played winter ball in Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela.  Most black players loved playing in these countries as there were no prejudices and they lived as free men.  Pennington held his old own during the winter leagues playing with and against the likes of Ray Dandridge, Willie Wells , Josh Gibson and several big league stars too.

After his stints in the Negro Leagues and winter ball, Pennington played several seasons in the minor leagues.  Even though he had success in the minors (hitting over .300 for multiple seasons), he never got the call to the big leagues.  The majors were still being integrated and the teams that signed the black players only signed a token few even though more were qualified.

Pennigton's other big highlight was hitting home runs off of big leaguers Sal Maglie and Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean in an exhibition game.  Pennington was 93 years old.