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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Cecil Cooper

Eligible in 1993.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2007 at 03:41 PM | 159 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 10, 2007 at 03:43 PM (#2277554)
The youngsters here might be surprised to know there used to be a HOF buzz around him when he was in his prime.
   2. sunnyday2 Posted: January 10, 2007 at 03:53 PM (#2277563)
I once had Cecil Cooper rated as the best AL 1B of my lifetime, back when nobody much was really a 1B--i.e. all the other candidates had put in time elsewhere.

James has him #28 among 1Bs all-time and that is somewhat timeline-aided. There is not a single 1B ahead of him who doesn't have significantly better numbers, and there's bunch behind him who do too. Bob Watson is close, Bottomley was a little better, Fournier was better. And none of them is in my current hot 100.
   3. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 10, 2007 at 03:56 PM (#2277566)
Cecil Cooper from 1979-1983 was a smooth a dude in the batters box as you could hope to find. He co-opted Carew's batting stance and spiced it up with 25-30 homers a year. He could hit, was ok with the glove, and his teammates liked him though at the end he clashed with his manager, Tom Trebelhorn.

I smile at remembrance of the cries of "Cooooooopppp" as he came to the plate.

Bad timing on his part to crank out a .352 batting average the year Brett goes off with a .390. What a killjoy that Brett.

Some may be puzzled by Cooper's sudden decline in 1984. Alas, it was the classic case of a player just losing it. Cooper wasn't fat. He didn't get injured. He just woke up one day and those fastballs suddenly were a FASTER. And he couldn't get it back.

But for a while he was one heckuva hitter.
   4. DavidFoss Posted: January 10, 2007 at 04:37 PM (#2277597)
Giving Coop a tryout in late 1973 was the cause of the Yaz-at-3B experiment.
   5. OCF Posted: January 10, 2007 at 05:57 PM (#2277657)
I lived in Wisconsin, mostly (a messy combination of Madison and Chicago) from 1977 through 1981, so I'm well aware of the high regard Cooper commanded in the state. And his 1980 season (as Harvey mentioned) generated quite a lot of excitement. Of course, the fans were always looking at his BA rather than his OBP. Because he didn't become an everyday player until he arrived in Milwaukee at the age of 27, Brewer fans tended to think of him as younger than he really was.

One comment about Cooper's eye-popping RBI numbers from 1979 through 1983: he normally batted third in the order and a succession of Brewer managers put real hitters in the #2 spot instead of mumbling "bat control" and sticking a bad hitter there. The classic lineup, of course, had Molitor leading off (when healthy, Molitor was a great leadoff hitter) and Yount second. That's a terrific setup for the #3 hitter to get RBI, especially if he's a #3 hitter with a high BA and lots of XBH.
   6. The Chanumas Spirit Posted: January 10, 2007 at 08:28 PM (#2277814)
I won't even pretend to say I know enough about Mr. Cooper's overall career. However he reminds me of the very first year I became a baseball fan, in 1982. He and the rest of Harvey's Wallbangers (darn you Gorman Thomas and Jim Gantner!) broke the heart of a nascent seven year old Orioles fan.

Of course, in the 24 years since, the O's have ensured it'd be broken quite a few more times.

Plus, he just SEEMED cool.
   7. strong silence Posted: January 10, 2007 at 08:33 PM (#2277819)
Why did Boston trade him in December of 1976 for George Scott and Bernie Carbo?
   8. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 10, 2007 at 08:53 PM (#2277837)
strong:

Well, they didn't know what to do with him. Did you know he batted leadoff in almost 300 plate appearances between '75 and '76? It was either leadoff or I think sixth or seventh in the order. And he was at first or DH. Cooper hated being a DH.

Besides, Boston was still fidgety about sticking Yaz at first base with Rice in left. Yaz was 13 years older but still looked more capable out there then JR. And if you stick Yaz in the OF then Rice has to go to DH. And then what about Cooper?

First base? Whoever heard of a first baseman who weighed 160 lbs?
   9. strong silence Posted: January 10, 2007 at 09:01 PM (#2277841)
It turned out very well for Milwaukee. And against a division opponent to boot!

What would the Primates have thought? We'll never know.

It seems odd that Milwaukee's GM put him at first base and put Gorman Thomas in the OF. What explains that?
   10. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 10, 2007 at 09:10 PM (#2277847)
strong:

Thomas was a reasonable outfielder before he let himself go to h*ll around 1981. He was somewhat stretched as a centerfielder but no more then Dave Henderson with the A's.

Cooper was left-handed, had soft hands, was 6'2", and could hit. Toss in being slow of foot and first base was the obvious fit.

It wasn't a hard call. Dalton had been eyeing Cooper for some time knowing that if given the chance he would be an offensive plus. That he went from line-drive machine to Eddie Murray sans 60 walks a year was the surprise.
   11. Biscuit_pants Posted: January 10, 2007 at 09:10 PM (#2277850)
I became a serious fan in 1982 and though I am a Cubs fan I do not remember ever rooting more for a non-Cubs team more than the 82 Brewers. They still have to be one of the most fun teams to watch ever. I have talked to a lot of people who state that one of their favorite teams was the 82 Brewers. Since I did not have the pleasure of see him much before 82 to me Cooper appeared to just drop off the face of the Earth. Two good years was all I was to see of him so later when I looked back at him I was shocked to see how good he was before the 82 season.

Thanks for the insight on why he just seemed to lose it so fast Harvey. I had wondered for a while what happened.
   12. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 10, 2007 at 09:13 PM (#2277852)
Well, I cannot speak for this group but even back then folks around the league were baffled. George had been pretty bad in '76 and was always going to fight weight problems. Cooper seemed like a natural fit for Fenway.

But somebody in Boston couldn't get past having a stringbean at first base. Or something.

I always try and remember the adage from Earl Weaver, "Too much offense is never enough."
   13. Dizzypaco Posted: January 10, 2007 at 09:15 PM (#2277854)
I became a serious fan in 1982 and though I am a Cubs fan I do not remember ever rooting more for a non-Cubs team more than the 82 Brewers. They still have to be one of the most fun teams to watch ever. I have talked to a lot of people who state that one of their favorite teams was the 82 Brewers.

I grew up a Mets fan in New Jersey, but boy did I root for the Brewers in 1981 and 1982. It was better than the alternative.
   14. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 10, 2007 at 09:17 PM (#2277856)
Biscuit:

Well, I should mention that Cooper really didn't work that hard on his craft. He didn't go all Cecil Fielder or anything but he did put on a 'few' pounds as he aged and conditioning was something for the middle infielders.

Remember how Antonio Freeman went from the Pro Bowl to being "just a guy"? He put on maybe 10 pounds and lost that half step he needed to create separation. I think something similar happened to Coop. He relied on his natural gifts, let things slip a tad, and POOF! He was done.

Sigh........
   15. strong silence Posted: January 10, 2007 at 09:46 PM (#2277877)
1982 Brewers were fun to watch. That Series with the Cardinals presented quite a contrast in styles and was unforgettably fun to watch. Sorry Harv. I was a Reds fan so I didn't have a dog in that fight. I enjoyed both teams.

The AL East was hypercompetive in the 1980s. Put any of the Orioles, Tigers, Yankees or Brewers in another division each team could have run the crown three straight years.
   16. OCF Posted: January 10, 2007 at 10:14 PM (#2277904)
It seems odd that Milwaukee's GM put him at first base and put Gorman Thomas in the OF. What explains that?

The moveable player, the one who solved the team's deployment problems by changing positions, was Molitor.
   17. sunnyday2 Posted: January 10, 2007 at 10:15 PM (#2277905)
As a Twins fan, I have to say that my favorite non-Twins teams ever were the late '70s Royals and the early '80s Brewers.
   18. OCF Posted: January 10, 2007 at 10:29 PM (#2277930)
1982 Brewers were fun to watch.

By then, I was living in Texas, but I was a childhood Cardinal fan, just coming from several years of living in Wisconsin. I rooted for the Cardinals in the series, but enjoyed both teams. Yes, that Brewers team was fun (and so were the Lanier-Moncrief-Marques Johnson Bucks). One of the "lessons" of the '82 Brewers is that there's nothing at all wrong with batting your best hitter #2 in the order. That probably wasn't part of any grand design. After all, the question of what batting order to choose and where to place your stronger and weaker hitters is far less important that the simple matter of having more strong hitters in the first place.

One question lingering over that team: what if Larry Hisle had stayed healthy? Of course, Hisle was 35 in 1982, and might well have been in decline even with no injury, but in the spirit of the Earl Weaver quote from post #12 ...
   19. Mike Webber Posted: January 10, 2007 at 10:33 PM (#2277934)
But somebody in Boston couldn't get past having a stringbean at first base. Or something.


That was the era of Boston thinking that right handed sluggers were the only way to go. In fact I think that era was from 1945 to 2002.
   20. Catfish326 Posted: January 10, 2007 at 10:36 PM (#2277937)
For the mid-70s Sox, I always admired that outfield defense of Boston, when they put out there Yaz, Lynn, and Rick Miller, and Dewey Evans. Is that the best defensive outfield combo ever?
   21. DL from MN Posted: January 10, 2007 at 10:41 PM (#2277942)
I wonder if his vision slipped. It's reaction time, not a gross physical skill he lost.
   22. OCF Posted: January 10, 2007 at 10:47 PM (#2277947)
Is that the best defensive outfield combo ever?

Oh, not even close. Think of all the outfields with at least two legit CFers. (Whitey Herzog had a couple of those: Wilson/Otis/Cowens or Coleman/McGee/Van Slyke.)
   23. Ephus Posted: January 10, 2007 at 11:02 PM (#2277961)
Is that the best defensive outfield combo ever?

Oh, not even close. Think of all the outfields with at least two legit CFers. (Whitey Herzog had a couple of those: Wilson/Otis/Cowens or Coleman/McGee/Van Slyke


My pick - 2003 Mariners - Winn, Cameron & Ichiro. Cameron was the best defensive CF in the AL. Winn was a serviceable CF and Ichiro could have been a CF.
   24. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 10, 2007 at 11:02 PM (#2277962)
I think one could draw a good comparison between the 1993 Phils and the 1982 Brewers. Grizzled, veteran teams with lots of working-class kind of players. A lot of above-average guys with power and walks, some strong role players, and both managed by HOVG ex-shortstops who were offense-first players.
   25. Catfish326 Posted: January 10, 2007 at 11:19 PM (#2277972)
Coleman/McGee/Van Slyke

Although fast, I thought Coleman was not that good in the field. Every APBA card I saw of Coleman, he always had the lowest fielding rating that they gave out. Wilson/Otis/Cowens does sound pretty solid.
   26. DavidFoss Posted: January 10, 2007 at 11:35 PM (#2277991)
It seems odd that Milwaukee's GM put him at first base and put Gorman Thomas in the OF. What explains that?

Gorman Thomas was not just in the OF, he was in CF! I have to double-check that every time I see it. :-)
   27. jimd Posted: January 11, 2007 at 12:28 AM (#2278029)
Why did Boston trade him in December of 1976 for George Scott and Bernie Carbo?

Hated that trade at the time. I liked Cooper and figured he was going to be better than Scott with time; did getting Carbo back make up that difference? Scott fell apart more quickly than anybody expected (just like Cooper). 84 OPS+ in 120 games in 1978. Put Cooper at first instead and nobody remembers Bucky Dent.

I don't remember all the details and when exactly events happened, but I do remember that Fisk, Lynn, and Burleson were all playing out their options under the reserve clause in 1976. Did the front office think they were hedging their bets by bringing in some old fan favorites (Scott from '67, Carbo from '75) in case one of the young stars left? Gotta go reread "Beyond the Sixth Game" I guess (if I can find my copy).
   28. Repoz Posted: January 11, 2007 at 12:42 AM (#2278036)
To me Cecil Cooper was the AL version of Al Oliver w/mo pop...and as I check, both ended with 121 OPS+.
   29. Paul Wendt Posted: January 11, 2007 at 03:39 AM (#2278139)
There was some griping here in Boston (where 1979 was my first year) because Cooper didn't get a fulltime job. You know, why can't we get players like that?

OCF:
I lived in Wisconsin, mostly (a messy combination of Madison and Chicago) from 1977 through 1981, so I'm well aware of the high regard Cooper commanded in the state. And his 1980 season (as Harvey mentioned) generated quite a lot of excitement. Of course, the fans were always looking at his BA rather than his OBP. Because he didn't become an everyday player until he arrived in Milwaukee at the age of 27, Brewer fans tended to think of him as younger than he really was.

One comment about Cooper's eye-popping RBI numbers from 1979 through 1983: he normally batted third in the order and a succession of Brewer managers put real hitters in the #2 spot instead of mumbling "bat control" and sticking a bad hitter there. The classic lineup, of course, had Molitor leading off (when healthy, Molitor was a great leadoff hitter) and Yount second. That's a terrific setup for the #3 hitter to get RBI, especially if he's a #3 hitter with a high BA and lots of XBH.


What happened to Larry Hisle in 1978/79?
   30. Paul Wendt Posted: January 11, 2007 at 04:02 AM (#2278148)
Chanumas:
I won't even pretend to say I know enough about Mr. Cooper's overall career. However he reminds me of the very first year I became a baseball fan, in 1982. He and the rest of Harvey's Wallbangers (darn you Gorman Thomas and Jim Gantner!) broke the heart of a nascent seven year old Orioles fan.

Of course, in the 24 years since, the O's have ensured it'd be broken quite a few more times.


Chanumas,
You in 1983 and I in 1966 enjoyed the great good fortune of winning it all in year two, (at least for me) the first season really knowing all the teams. (And as in 1982, the Orioles also lost a close one --but not that close-- in 1965.)

(darn you Gorman Thomas and Jim Gantner!)

<u>Don Sutton</u>. 7 games at 8 innings and 3 runs each.
"August 30, 1982: Traded by the Houston Astros to the Milwaukee Brewers for players to be named later and cash. The Milwaukee Brewers sent Kevin Bass (September 3, 1982), Frank DiPino (September 3, 1982), and Mike Madden (September 3, 1982) to the Houston Astros to complete the trade."

OCF
Yes, that Brewers team was fun (and so were the Lanier-Moncrief-Marques Johnson Bucks).

<u>Sidney Moncrief</u>, what a man. The Bucks, Celtics, and 76ers were all fun to watch. Moncrief, McHale, Moses Malone --and Magic in LA. (Montana came along for those who dig oblate ball.) My best baseball-and-basketball TV-watching friend in Boston was a diehard Bucks and Brewers fan from Milwaukee. It was indeed a great time. There was ESPN, Dave Gavitt, and the Big East . . . and all that explains why I didn't become Dr.W. with a Ph.D. Better discipline, OCF?
   31. Paul Wendt Posted: January 11, 2007 at 04:04 AM (#2278151)
Stormin' Gorman was a fine outfielder.

As a trio, I'll take Henderson/Murphy/Armas.
Yaz/Lynn/Evans & Rick Miller played together longer.
   32. OCF Posted: January 11, 2007 at 04:43 AM (#2278177)
I could be remembering this wrong, but I think Hisle had a shoulder injury - a rotator cuff problem. And it hurt him to swing a bat. His record says he kept trying for several years but never truly recovered.
   33. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 11, 2007 at 04:50 AM (#2278181)
OCF is correct. Larry was playing left field early in 1979 against the Orioles and on a throw back to the infield suffered a rotator cuff injury. Surgery followed by rehab followed by more surgery. Hisle slept with his arm tied to his side to minimize the pain.
   34. OCF Posted: January 11, 2007 at 08:05 AM (#2278247)
Paul - what I remember about Moncrief was his absolute fearlessness at taking the ball inside, surrounded by people 8 inches taller than him, and making something happen anyway. And if Brian Winters got hot from the outside, a whole lot of points could happen. Everyone remembers that Indiana State (Larry Byrd) and Michigan State (Magic Johnson) had a memorable NCAA tournament game, but the Moncrief-Delph-Brewer Arkansas team nearly got in the way. As I recall, the Bucks really snookered the Pistons on a trade (was Lanier involved?) just so Detroit could trade up to get the forward on Magic's MSU team (what was his name - Kelser?). And then the Bucks used that slightly lower pick to get the player they wanted all along: Moncrief.

Sooner or later, I need to run some numbers on Cooper - I'll let you know when I do.
   35. tjm1 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 12:47 PM (#2278313)
Sorry to continue the off-topic discussions, but how about Dwayne Murphy, Rickey Henderson and Tony Armas as the best defensive outfield of all-time. Armas was the worst defender of the three, and had 374 putouts in 1980 and a cannon for a throwing arm. He was stretched a bit in center with the Red Sox later in his career, but was competent out there. Murphy was the best centerfielder of his time, and Rickey probably would have been the second or third best in those days if he hadn't had Murphy as a teammate.

Now, back to the main topic - Cecil Cooper was 95% of the player, in every way (on the field at least) that Don Mattingly was. They have eerily similar career stats, and, indeed, season-by-season lines in their primes. Cooper got a slower start, then hung around a little longer, but other than that and Mattingly's reputation as an outstanding leader, there's not much difference between the two. Both worthy of the Hall of Very Good.
   36. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 11, 2007 at 02:04 PM (#2278330)
Mattingly's got about 20 more WARP, and a .302 EQA to Cooper's .288, in similar PT. Mattingly has a 127 OPS+ to Cooper's 121. Cooper had about 200 more PA. Both missed about equal time for strikes. Mattingly's got about 5 years in the high 140's to 160 or so OPS+ range, Cooper only had 3.

Cooper was very good, but Mattingly was clearly better.
   37. Daryn Posted: January 11, 2007 at 02:59 PM (#2278360)
The Chanumas Spirit Posted

The Official term is Chrismukkah.
   38. Catfish326 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 03:10 PM (#2278368)
Is that the best defensive outfield combo ever?

Oh, not even close. Think of all the outfields with at least two legit CFers. (Whitey Herzog had a couple of those: Wilson/Otis/Cowens or Coleman/McGee/Van Slyke.)


After researching the number of gold gloves, I stand behind the mid-70's Sox outfield as the best ever defensive combo. Here are the number of gold gloves for the trios mentioned herein:

Evans 8, Yaz 7, Lynn 4, Miller 1

Coleman 0, McGee 3, Van Slyke 5

Wilson 1, Otis 3, Cowens 1

Winn 0, Cameron 3, Ichiro 6

Henderson 1, Murphy 6, Armas 0
   39. Catfish326 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 03:15 PM (#2278372)
Actually, the 1975 Sox also had Beniquez who received one gold glove award. That's 5 outfielders that received the award, and a total of 21 awards. Wow.
   40. Catfish326 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 03:20 PM (#2278380)
Best infield defensively? Orioles Grich (4 GG's), Robinson (16), Belanger (8), and Powell (0).
   41. tjm1 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 04:11 PM (#2278432)
I think Yaz won a lot of his Gold Gloves during the period when there was one for each outfield position, instead of three outfield Gold Gloves. I'd also be interested in who would be the Win Shares Gold Glovers during all those years.

Re Cooper vs. Mattingly - I agree Mattingly was better. One note, though, in time missed for strikes - this was in Cooper's prime (he finished 8th in the 1981 MVP balloting and fifth the year before and the two years after), and at the unproductive tail end of Mattingly's career (Mattingly received votes for the MVP in 1993 and 1994, but I can only presume these were based on his clubhouse presence since he was an average hitting first-baseman by that point). Not enough to close the gap between them, though, I agree.

Interestingly, there are three players from roughly that era with essentially the same batting numbers - Mattingly, Cooper, and Puckett. Puckett's value was a little more tied up in batting average than the other two, and Mattingly was a little better overall hitter than the other two, and Cooper has a late start due to a glut of good hitters in the Red Sox organization, instead of an early finish due to physical problems. But, basically, the HOF voters got it right here - the one of those three who was a Gold Glover at a key defensive position is the one in the Hall, and the two who were Gold Glovers, but only at 1B, are out. I think these stat lines are probably just about that good - enough for a Gold Glover at CF or maybe 3B, or a good defensive player at 2B or SS, or an average defensive C (where the lack of longevity isn't a problem). I guess my other point is that if you think Cooper's a slam dunk no, which I do, you almost have to say Mattingly's also a no, unless you really place a lot of value on clubhouse contributions from a player who played in one postseason series, which his team lost, and only long after his prime was over.
   42. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 11, 2007 at 04:54 PM (#2278474)
I agree with just about everything you said tjm1 . . . except the part about a good defensive player at 2B or SS.

You could be below average with the glove at 2B, but just not Larry Doyle bad to get in with those numbers.

And if your defense is good enough that a team is willing to play you at SS with those hitting numbers; even as bad as statheads think Derek Jeter's defense is you are a Hall of Famer at SS. Heck, those numbers are about Derek Jeter level (Cooper slightly worse, Mattingly slightly better), and he's (correctly & easily) going in if he never plays another game.
   43. tjm1 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 06:10 PM (#2278551)
I suppose you're right, Joe. Jeter is definitely a lock for the Hall of Fame, even without giving him credit for his intangibles, and a better player than Puckett.

Jeter's stats are more OBP heavy (and especially walk-heavy) than Mattingly/Cooper/Puckett, and this is the thing most underrated by OPS+. He's also been a superior percentage base-stealer in a fairly large number of attempts throughout his career, and if I remember right, he graded out as one of the top baserunners in non-stealing situations in a recent Baseball Prospectus article, consistent with his reputation. Basically it's a lot of little things, but he's a better offensive player than those guys were. On the other hand, Jeter's not nearly the minimum standard for the hall, so I agree that a marginal SS with Cooper's or Mattingly's numbers is a HOFer.

A question now:

Jeff Kent's career numbers are also in this same category (a little bit better overall, but mostly due to the era in which he plays). Basically like Cooper with the slow start, but he's aged better and actually has had a longer career. I know a lot of people don't really think of Jeff Kent as a Hall of Famer, but if we really believe a Cecil Cooper or Don Mattingly type hitter who could play even a passable second base is a HOFer, then Jeff Kent is a HOFer. Do we really agree with that, and if not, does it mean a 2B must be a decent glove man to be a HOFer with those numbers, or that we don't really appreciate Kent's greatness?
   44. The Chanumas Spirit Posted: January 11, 2007 at 06:23 PM (#2278569)

The Official term is Chrismukkah.



Oh really? Tell that to the party my wife (quite the foxy "chosen person") and I have thrown every december for the past six years.

It precedes that now-cancelled Fox nighttime soap. Though I loved the OC for its love of comics and Indie rock, I love it more for the fact that they went the other way with the word, so no one thinks we've been copying....
   45. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 11, 2007 at 06:32 PM (#2278586)
Hannoel?

Yulekkah?
   46. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: January 11, 2007 at 06:50 PM (#2278612)
I know a lot of people don't really think of Jeff Kent as a Hall of Famer

Hall of Famer? Of course! Weren't we told during the postseason that he's the best slugging second baseman of all-time? ;-)
   47. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 11, 2007 at 07:44 PM (#2278692)
And can he ever wash a truck!
   48. Juan V Posted: January 11, 2007 at 09:04 PM (#2278757)
Kent: Reason #30982309871234 why I keep thinking I'm underrating Larry Doyle. I think he (Kent) fits on both Halls.
   49. DavidFoss Posted: January 11, 2007 at 09:04 PM (#2278758)
Kent's peak was fairly late, especially for a 2B. Late-peaking guys are almost always underrated because during their "running career numbers" throughout their career are weighed down by their early career numbers and people don't expect the late-peak to last as long as it does -- they expect decline.

Then, at some point late in his career, you check bb-ref and see a middle-infielder with career hitting numbers that are pretty similar to Ron Santo & Yogi Berra and you go (or at least I go) "where did he come from"? :-)
   50. Dizzypaco Posted: January 11, 2007 at 09:22 PM (#2278777)
It is very difficult to remove a first impression. You see a guy play for a while, you get the impression that may or may not be a potential Hall of Famer. This is true of people on this site as much as sportswriters and others in the game. I've seen players with good minor league stats for a couple of years labeled as can't miss prospects, and when they do miss, we hang onto the idea that he's still a great prospect long after it's warranted. When a player starts out a career as an impatient player who never walks, I've seen people hold onto the perception even after they develop a plate discipline later in their career.

For some, when a player like Kent starts out his career looking nothing like a Hall of Famer, its really difficult to shake that image. If he started out his and a can't miss prospect, and then drove in 100 runs a year for a while, he'd get a lot more support.
   51. tjm1 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 09:40 PM (#2278793)
But on the other hand, when a guy hangs on long past his prime, that often hurts his chances of getting into the HOF, too. Wait until Tim Raines becomes eligible if you want to see the flip side of post 50 in action. Raines is an odd one, in that he had 10 years as a good 4th outfielder after his last year as an elite everyday player. With a (slow) decline that long, people can forget how great a player was in his prime.

Anyways, I suppose Kent is HOF-worthy, but it will be interesting to see how the voters see it.
   52. strong silence Posted: January 11, 2007 at 09:54 PM (#2278804)
But on the other hand, when a guy hangs on long past his prime, that often hurts his chances of getting into the HOF, too. Wait until Tim Raines becomes eligible if you want to see the flip side of post 50 in action. Raines is an odd one, in that he had 10 years as a good 4th outfielder after his last year as an elite everyday player. With a (slow) decline that long, people can forget how great a player was in his prime

I'm an example of this forgetfulness. I knew Raines was a damned good player. Not knowing his stats, I consulted BB-ref and saw this line: 294/385/425. Hmmm, I thought, how does Ichiro! compare? Darn close, except for Avg: 331/376/438. Both speedy and good outfielders too.

But upon further investigation I saw the long slow decline mentioned by tjm1.
   53. Juan V Posted: January 11, 2007 at 09:59 PM (#2278806)
Do we really have to wait until Raines? I have to think the long, slow decline phase is what's keeping Gossage out of the Hall as of now, right?
   54. Dizzypaco Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:02 PM (#2278809)
Not knowing his stats, I consulted BB-ref and saw this line: 294/385/425. Hmmm, I thought, how does Ichiro! compare? Darn close, except for Avg: 331/376/438. Both speedy and good outfielders too.

Except that Raines played in the NL during a low scoring era, while Ichiro plays in a high scoring era. Raines, in his prime, was vastly superior to Ichiro, even if their SP and OBP are similar.
   55. JPWF13 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:10 PM (#2278815)
Except that Raines played in the NL during a low scoring era, while Ichiro plays in a high scoring era. Raines, in his prime, was vastly superior to Ichiro, even if their SP and OBP are similar.


Ichiro OPS+ through age 32: 119
Raines: 128
Raines career: 123

Raines had 6 seasons of 10+ warp3
Career EQA .302, high of .334

Ichiro 2 seaons of 110+ warp3 (ok he may have lost 1-2 by playing in Japan and not US)- career EQA of .288, high of .305

Raines is a much superior baseball player.
   56. Catfish326 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:14 PM (#2278820)
I recall hearing Raines described as a poor-man's Henderson. Raines was damn good, so that tells you how unbelievable Henderson really was. The absolutely perfect leadoff man.

Best number two hitter? Who was a really good contact man (low K ratio) that was also fast and had a solid avg, with decent power? Felix Millan? Hah! We can do much better than that. Willie Randolph. Much better, but there must be someone else....

Number three hitter? Give me Gehrig.

Cleanup? Ruth.
   57. JPWF13 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:17 PM (#2278826)
What Raines long slow decline obscures is not just that he was once an elite superstar level player- but that he was widely (ie: by the traditional baseball media and not just by statheads) regarded as such
before the 1987 season it was really big news that Raines had failed to sign anywhere as a FA and returned to Montreal (collusion- only name FA to swatch teams was Dawson- who wanted to play on grass and in a a smaller park- ie: Wrigley- he gave Chicago a blank signed contract*)

1985-87 Tim Raines was imho the best player in all MLB


* Eventually the owner's collusion came out- and it appears that sveral other owners took teh Cubs GM/President to task for signing Dawson at all- to which the Cubbie exec reputedly said, "what did you want me to do- he gave me signed blank contract" to which another owner (reputedly one of the WhiteSox co-owners) replied, "you should have filled it in for the league minimum"
   58. strong silence Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:20 PM (#2278829)
Dizzy, we can't compare the peaks of their careers because it is very, very likely that Ichiro!'s prime was spent in Japan.
   59. strong silence Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:26 PM (#2278832)
Compare the Age 27 through Age 31 seasons and they appear similar.

JP - redo those numbers without Raines Age 19 through Age 26 seasons. Would there be as large of a difference between the two players? Wouldn't the two players appear more similar?
   60. Dizzypaco Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:28 PM (#2278834)
Dizzy, we can't compare the peaks of their careers because it is very, very likely that Ichiro!'s prime was spent in Japan.

Why is it likely? He was 27 in his first season in the US. How many players end their prime before the age of 27?

Second, I was responding to ths statement:

Hmmm, I thought, how does Ichiro! compare? Darn close

The numbers are only close if you totally ignore context. In context, they aren't close at all.

I agree that they are similar types of players. Unless Ichiro ended his prime before age 26, Raines was just flat better.
   61. strong silence Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:31 PM (#2278836)
ok he may have lost 1-2 by playing in Japan and not US

Under what assumptions?

If I assume that they are similar players, Ichiro may have lost 3-4 by playing in Japan from Age 19 to Age 26.
   62. The Chanumas Spirit Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:35 PM (#2278841)
Wow....it sure is interesting to see the evolution of this conversation.

Most people would not expect a discussion of Tim Raines in a Cecil Cooper thread.
   63. strong silence Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:39 PM (#2278847)
The numbers are only close if you totally ignore context. In context, they aren't close at all.

I don't think I was ignoring context. The fact that I see - tell me if this is wrong - is that Ichiro! played in Japan prior to Age 27. I conclude from this fact that his prime was spent playing in Japan. If this conclusion is unreasonable, please disprove it. As I understand it, the general player's career peaks around age 28.

Raines' prime was from Age 21 to 29. Ichiro!'s prime was (likely) from Age 21 to Age 29 - unless he gets better.
   64. Dizzypaco Posted: January 11, 2007 at 10:55 PM (#2278863)
Tim Raines, in his prime, was vastly superior to anything Ichiro has done since arriving in the United States. In order to argue that Ichiro in his prime was similar to Raines in his prime, you have to argue that Ichiro was vastly superior prior to the ages 21 to 26 than he was at age 27 to 30, which is possible, but not highly likely.
   65. JPWF13 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 11:05 PM (#2278872)
ok he may have lost 1-2 by playing in Japan and not US

Under what assumptions?

If I assume that they are similar players, Ichiro may have lost 3-4 by playing in Japan from Age 19 to Age 26.



Assuming Ichiro was as good his last year in Japan as his first year in the US (Warp3 of 10.3)- then he lost one warp3 season, as his last year in Japan saw him post his highest OPS: 1.005.

He did have two other close seasons- .980 and .986- those could also be 10+ Warp3 seasons- bringing his Japan total up to 3.

Suzuki's US high warp 3 is 10.3- Raines beat that mark 4 times (ranging from 10.5 to 11.2)
   66. JPWF13 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 11:36 PM (#2278900)
Let's get back to Cooper
Having a player cliff dive (and not get back up, unless you count a dead cat bounce) at age 32 (Dale Murphy, possibly Garrett Anderson); 33 (George Foster); 34 (Cooper, Alomar)
is not as uncommon as people always seem to believe when one of their favorites does it.

There are plenty of players in the HOVG like Cooper, who if they just had 2-3 more years at their peak, or if they just declined more gradually...

A lot of players separate out from the HOM/HOF and the HOVG in their early 30s
   67. tjm1 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 11:50 PM (#2278913)
And there are many more who washed out in their early 30s with nagging or severe injuries - Albert Belle, Juan Gonzalez.

Wil Cordero looked for all the world like a future HOFer when the Red Sox traded for him, and Ellis Valentine is another one who fell off a cliff in his mid-20's. Ben Grieve, as well, looked at least like he had a
   68. tjm1 Posted: January 11, 2007 at 11:52 PM (#2278915)
And there are many more who washed out in their early 30s with nagging or severe injuries - Albert Belle, Juan Gonzalez.

Wil Cordero looked for all the world like a future HOFer when the Red Sox traded for him, and Ellis Valentine is another one who fell off a cliff in his mid-20's. Ben Grieve, as well, looked at least like he had a good long career ahead of him, if not HOF-worthy.

George Bell is another guy who took a wrong turn at 32.
   69. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 12, 2007 at 02:44 AM (#2279013)
Some others: Steve Sax, Ken Boyer, Boog, Cecil Fielder, Chuck Knoblauch, Kevin McReynolds, Lou Boudreau, Greg Luzinski, Kent Hrbek, Del Ennis, Jim Rice, Ray Lankford, Danny Tartabull, and I don't want to forget HoJo. Heck, Duke Snider, though he's obviously HOF not HOVG. How about Ruben Sierra? Keith Hernandez went off the cliff after age 34. Sunny Jim Bottomley went off it just into his 30s, though he hung around a while despite hitting poorly for a 1B (100 OPS+s and sometimes lower). Harvey Kuenn, perhaps?

Too early to say that about Shawn Green?

Tim Salmon, maybe? How about Mattingly?

And that's just ten minutes of poking around on bb-ref....
   70. OCF Posted: January 12, 2007 at 03:24 AM (#2279032)
And there are many more who washed out in their early 30s with nagging or severe injuries

I brought up one of those earlier on this thread: Larry Hisle. Since Hisle was also a late bloomer, that didn't give him many years.
   71. JPWF13 Posted: January 12, 2007 at 04:01 AM (#2279053)
Some others: Steve Sax, Ken Boyer... Hisle...


Really makes you wonder what GMs are doing when they give multi-year deals to guys over 30...

My favorite line, which has been wriiten by just about every sportswriter, and said by every sportscaster at least once:

"just because Joe Slugger is 33/34/35/36 is no reason to expect that he'll decline next year or before his contract's up"
   72. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 12, 2007 at 04:06 AM (#2279057)
"Do we really agree with that, and if not, does it mean a 2B must be a decent glove man to be a HOFer with those numbers, or that we don't really appreciate Kent's greatness?"

I think Kent is a Hall of Famer - fairly easily. That's without any rigorous analysis. But he's clearly above the Red Schoendienst or Tony Lazzeri level, IMO.

Juan - two things about Doyle, who I used to really like:

1) 2B was a fairly easy position to play in his day. Probably easier than modern 3B.

2) Doyle was truly awful in the field, if our current metrics are even remotely accurate. Unless there is some sort of extreme park or pitching staff effect going on that we are unaware of, which is entirely possible.

I'd probably consider Doyle defense equal to that of a really bad 3B, someone like a Bonilla (maybe I'm not recalling his skills correctly?) who wasn't really a 3B.
   73. yest Posted: January 12, 2007 at 05:21 AM (#2279100)
Is that the best defensive outfield combo ever?

Lewis-Speaker-Hooper
   74. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 12, 2007 at 05:35 AM (#2279107)
Bell-Moseby-Barfield?
   75. Group Captain Mandrake Posted: January 12, 2007 at 06:15 AM (#2279118)
Best number two hitter? Who was a really good contact man (low K ratio) that was also fast and had a solid avg, with decent power? Felix Millan? Hah! We can do much better than that. Willie Randolph. Much better, but there must be someone else...


Joe Morgan
   76. baudib Posted: January 12, 2007 at 06:19 AM (#2279122)
It's been mentioned before but the Red Sox in the early to mid 1970s had one of the greatest farm system ever. Actually you could probably stretch it from 1966-1975. The number of players they produced was pretty staggering, comparable to what the Giants did from, say, 1955-1970.

The guy who got lost in the shuffle the most was Cooper.

I, too, loved those Brewers teams. The Brewers were similar to the Dan Fouts/Kellen Winslow Chargers; teams that played in small markets but gained national followings simply because they were offensive juggernauts and fun to watch.

Cooper was a terrific player, pretty similar to Mattingly in his prime, actually.
   77. OCF Posted: January 12, 2007 at 06:23 AM (#2279124)
At his peak, for the '75-'76 Reds, Morgan batted 3rd, not 2nd.

My two favorite seasons by a #2 hitter - and I think they're really the same season, just the context around them is a little different - are Robin Yount, 1982, and Alex Rodriguez, 1996
   78. OCF Posted: January 12, 2007 at 06:32 AM (#2279125)
Following up on that - the idea that they were "really the same season" sounds like something to run through the bb-ref neutralizer. From that, put into a 750 run context:

ARod, 1996: .338/.393/.596, 50-1-33 XBH, in 147 games
Yount, 1982: .347/.396/.607, 43-13-31 XBH in 155 games
   79. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 12, 2007 at 06:46 AM (#2279134)
I, too, loved those Brewers teams. The Brewers were similar to the Dan Fouts/Kellen Winslow Chargers; teams that played in small markets but gained national followings simply because they were offensive juggernauts and fun to watch.


Not to mention dirty. Not in style of play, just in general grime. Caldwell and his disgusting cap. Vuckovich, Gorman Thomas, etc. A truly likable, grubby bunch.
   80. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: January 12, 2007 at 08:19 AM (#2279178)
It blows my mind that those 1980s Brewers were so loved. I never realized it.

I hated those bastards. Now granted, I was an 8 year old Yankee fan living in New York in 1981, but that summer we lived up in Ithica, NY; and one of our neighbor friend families was in for the summer from Wisconsin. Needless to say, despite the strike, it was quite a summer from the rivalry perspective.

So I hated the Brewers, probably more than the Red Sox at the time, who weren't really hurting anyone, and an 8-year old has no perspective on history or anything.

Even after we moved back to Long Island, I still hated them in 1982, although I did root for them in the World Series for some reason - I guess I knew, even back then to hate the Cardinals, and I felt like I should root for our former neighbor friends even though I hadn't seen or talked to them since the previous summer. But I still hated the bastards.

To this day, even without knowing that Bud Selig owned them, I still don't like the Brewers . . .
   81. OCF Posted: January 12, 2007 at 08:46 AM (#2279184)
(Catfish326, post 56)

Number three hitter? Give me Gehrig.

Cleanup? Ruth.


Uhh - you do know that those numbers on their backs, 3 for Ruth and 4 for Gehrig, were originally their lineup positions? There's a reason why it's Gehrig who has the huge number of grand slams.
   82. Group Captain Mandrake Posted: January 12, 2007 at 02:06 PM (#2279220)
At his peak, for the '75-'76 Reds, Morgan batted 3rd, not 2nd.


I know that, but he did hit #2 for nearly half his career. He batted 2nd for all of 1972 and 1973, and his translated stats those years (as per #78) are:

.323/.453/.479 28 5 19 140 walks 162 runs scored 71 SB
.311/.430/.530 39 2 29 123 walks 136 runs 74 SB

He actually created more runs (translated) in those years than in 1975, and his translated 1973 was only 5 behind 1976.

I'll take either of those over Yount or the Rod.
   83. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 12, 2007 at 03:01 PM (#2279239)
Let's not get all misty-eyed toward that 1982 Brewers.

Gorman Thomas and Mike Caldwell were united in more then just their aversion to bathing regularly. They were predisposed to being lazy. And after enjoying some degree of success both had become a tad arrogant. Neither man appreciated being "TOLD" what to do. And when the gentle hand of George Bamberger was replaced to what their mind was the iron fist of Buck Rodgers they were none to thrilled.

Rodgers, quite sensibly, recognized upon his arrival that while Gorman gave a decent effort in centerfield he wasn't a plus glove at the position. He's got Jim Ganter ready to handle second base, Molitor had been injured while playing second, Molitor was a fine hitter and athletic, well why not Molitor in center? So in 1981 Paulie played centerfield most of the season with Gorman in right.

Meanwhile, Vukovich supplanted Caldwell as the "ace" of the staff. And Rodgers stated very clearly that Mike might want to do something about that gopher ball problem of his especially playing in what Buck referred to as a pitcher's park.

OHMIGOD. You would have thought that Buck asked the two men to clean the bathrooms and pick up dirty towels. The sulking. The pouting. The petulance! It was funny.

Until it wasn't.

Because in spring training of 1982 a third member joined their group. Ted Simmons. Rodgers got on Simmons about his weight. Nothing mean. Nothing harsh. Just a hey, Ted, you are getting older you need to be careful about that. WELL, Ted Simmons didn't need anyone telling HIM about conditioning. He was TED G*DDAMN SIMMONS donchyaknow?

And they waited. And they waited. And then they got their chance.

Part of it was their own doing. Thomas and Simmons both were horrible early in the season. And after a decent April Caldwell was dreadful in May. After making the playoffs the team was around .500 and fans were stirring in their seats. What was wrong in Milwaukee?

GM Harry Dalton was wondering the same thing. This team had talent. Very GOOD talent. And while he was accustomed to seeing teams start slowly from his Baltimore days this Brewer team was looking BAD at times. An ugly sweep at the hands of KC really got upper management curious as to the mood of the club. While Milwaukee was above .500 Dalton wasn't one to wait to attack a problem.

And then the cabal struck. They knew if Dalton came calling he would approach Cooper. Coop was a respected veteran, he had been on good teams in Boston, and he was one of the best players on the team. So they convinced Cooper that Rodgers was bad for the team. That he made everyone tight. Too demanding over trivial things. If the team had a manager who just let them play the team could really get going.

And that's what happened. Dalton spoke to Coop who was pretty much a mouthpiece for the airing of grievances. Dalton felt Rodgers had lost the clubhouse and axed him 40 odd games into the season. Kuenn was named the manager.

Freed from tyranny the Brewers stormed through June, July, and August before falling across the finish in September holding off a hard-charging Oriole team. In the process Gorman Thomas hurt his knee which affected his swing and by June of next year he was gone from Milwaukee. Pete Vukovich was allowed to throw 173 pitches in a ten inning win in early September and pretty much ruined his career. Cecil Cooper and Ted Simmons let their waistlines go and saw their careers drive off the cliff within a year.

By 1984 the Brewers were a mess and the prime of Yount/Molitor was wasted trying to rebuild the talent base.

Flags do fly forever. But sometimes the price can be pretty d*mn high.
   84. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 12, 2007 at 03:07 PM (#2279243)
By the way, it was Cooper who coined the team nickname of "Harvey's Wallbangers".
   85. JPWF13 Posted: January 12, 2007 at 04:40 PM (#2279313)
At his peak, for the '75-'76 Reds, Morgan batted 3rd, not 2nd.


Translated stats Big Red Machine #1,2&3 hitters
1975:
Rose: .324/.414/.441
Griffey: .312/.399/.410
Morgan: .334/.474/.521

1976:
Rose: .334/.416/.466
Griffey: .349/.415/.468
Morgan: .333/.459/.601

Unfortunately, in neither year did Red cleanup hitters (the luckiest men in baseball) have particularly strong seasons
-
batting 4th in 1975 Perez hit .271/.339/.435 (233 PAs)
Batting 4th in 1975 Bench hit .283/.361/.531 (425 PAs)- but hit only .224 with RISP

batting 4th in 1976 Perez hit .226/.300/.379 (220 PAs)
batting 4th in 1976 Bench hit .155/.279/.267 (136 PAs)
batting 4th in 1976 Foster hit .277/.347/.489 (297 PAs)
batting 5th in 1976 Foster hit .340/.381/.607 (168 PAs)

Foster of course lead the league in RBIs in 1976
   86. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 12, 2007 at 04:42 PM (#2279317)
It's been mentioned before but the Red Sox in the early to mid 1970s had one of the greatest farm system ever. Actually you could probably stretch it from 1966-1975.

I wouldn't stop there! The Sox had a great farm system through the 1980s as well. Here's a list of debut years for players who debuted with Sox and had careers that were more than a Cuppa Coffee through 1996 (aka: Nomie, Trotman, and the Duke):

Ernie Whitt (1976)

Bob Stanley (1977)
Bo Diaz (1977)
Don Aase (1977)

John Tudor (1979)
Chuck Rainey (1979)
Gary Allenson (1979)

Bruce Hurst (1980)
Rich Gedman (1980)
Bob Ojeda (1980)
Steve Crawford (1980)
Glenn Hoffman (1980)
Reid Nichols (1980)
Dave Stapleton (1980)
Chico Walker (1980)
Luis Aponte (1980)

Wade Boggs (1982)
Oil Can Boyd (1982)
Marty Barrett (1982)

Al Nipper (1983)
Jackie Gutierrez (1983)

Roger Clemens (1984)

Mike Greenwell (1985)
Steve Lyons (1985)
John Dopson (1985)
Kevin Romine (1985)

Rey Quinones (1986)

Jody Reed (1987)
Ellis Burks (1987)
Sam Horn (1987)
Todd Benzinger (1987)
John Marzano (1987)
Tom Bolton (1987)

Brady Anderson (1988)
Carlos Quintana (1988)

Tim Naehring (1990)
Phil Plantier (1990)
Scott Cooper (1990)
Dana Kiecker (1990)

Mo Vaughn (1991)
Bob Zupcic (1991)

John Valentin (1992)
John Flaherty (1992)
Ken Ryan (1992)
Paul Quantrill (1992)

Aaron Sele (1993)

Jeff Suppan (1995)
Scott Hatteberg (1995)

Nomar Garciaparra (1996)
Trot Nixon (1996)

Tons of really high quality players; in the 1980s there's also plenty of depth, though that begins to wane a bit in the 1990s.
   87. sunnyday2 Posted: January 12, 2007 at 04:47 PM (#2279321)
And ahead of their time too--and a throwback at the very same time. I'm talking about the 3 American black players on that list.
   88. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: January 12, 2007 at 04:57 PM (#2279333)
Wow, you're right, Sunny. Here's the demographic:

Fifty guys

Black (4, 8%): Burks, Vaughn, Horn, Boyd
Latino-born (5, 10%): Quintana, Aponte, Gutierrez, Quinones, Diaz
??? (2, 4%): Chuck Rainey, Chico Walker
White (39, 78%): Everyone else.

That's a pretty interesting breakdown. Given the team's historical issues with race, it's an open question whether this is coincidence or whether this is a pattern. On the other hand, I have no idea what the racial composition of their minor leagues were like at the time. Furthermore, I don't know the racial composition of MLB at that time either to compare. And 50 guys over 20 years is probably not a representative sample to draw serious conclusions from. But it's interesting nonetheless.
   89. OCF Posted: January 12, 2007 at 05:08 PM (#2279345)
What I remember about the Brewers for the rest of the 80's: Cooper, Simmons, Thomas, Ogilvie all faded, got old, went away. In some cases (e.g. Thomas) there's a little of the idea if him letting himself go, but for the most part these guys weren't young and age caught up with them. But not to worry - the farm system was bursting with talent, wasn't it? I heard about a long succession of players who were the next great thing, who were superstars in the making. (I've mostly forgotten their names - HW could fill us in on that.) And these highly touted players came, and were put in the lineup (or not), and in a year or two you looked around and realized that Yount and Molitor were still the best players on the team - in fact, the gap between Yount/Molitor and the rest of the team was increasing, even though they were themselves past their prime and on the slow slide down
   90. Catfish326 Posted: January 12, 2007 at 05:24 PM (#2279357)
Translated stats Big Red Machine #1,2&3 hitters
1975:
Rose: .324/.414/.441
Griffey: .312/.399/.410
Morgan: .334/.474/.521

1976:
Rose: .334/.416/.466
Griffey: .349/.415/.468
Morgan: .333/.459/.601

Unfortunately, in neither year did Red cleanup hitters (the luckiest men in baseball) have particularly strong seasons


Wow. That is really setting the table for hitters 4, 5, and 6. I do think Perez making the Hall was an erroneous decision. For him not to get 90 rbi's a season with these hitters 1-2-3 would be a crime. Crap, Tony Muser and Bill Sudakis would have knocked in 90 a season hitting behind these guys.
   91. Dizzypaco Posted: January 12, 2007 at 05:25 PM (#2279358)
But not to worry - the farm system was bursting with talent, wasn't it? I heard about a long succession of players who were the next great thing, who were superstars in the making. (I've mostly forgotten their names - HW could fill us in on that.) And these highly touted players came, and were put in the lineup (or not), and in a year or two you looked around and realized that Yount and Molitor were still the best players on the team - in fact, the gap between Yount/Molitor and the rest of the team was increasing, even though they were themselves past their prime and on the slow slide down

This is absolutely true, I remember it quite clearly. And I learned from it. There have been several teams since then who have had farm systems seemingly bursting with talent. At the same time, predictions were made with each team about how its on the verge of becoming a good to great team as a result, which often didn't happen.

So when I hear that Tampa Bay or Arizona or Milwaukee (in recent years) has a great farm system, and the teams are about to take a great leap forward as a result, I'm very skeptical.
   92. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 12, 2007 at 05:27 PM (#2279360)
OCF:

Thanks to having farm teams in places like El Paso, TX the Brewers always fooled themselves into thinking somebody could play when he really couldn't.

Billy Jo Robidoux hit .342 at El Paso. Yeah, that translated well.

Dion James looked like he could play. But he was traded for Brad Komminsk. Good grief. Not that James turned into any great shakes but he had a good year (like everyone else) in 1987. Maybe if he had stayed in Milaukee.

Mark Brouhard I thought could actually play. He wouldn't have been GREAT but I think .260/.340/.470 with ok defense in right or left. But he never got a chance in Brewtown. And eventually headed overseas.

Frank DiPino got traded to Houston and was a pretty solid lefty out of the bullpen for a few years.

Kevin Bass could play but was traded for Don Sutton. Sutton really DID help in 1982 but losing Bass hurt in the short-term. Again, he wasn't GREAT but would have filled a void of the other guys tanking all at once.

Randy Ready. Sigh. This was the puzzler. Randy Ready TORE UP the minors. Even accounting for deflation .375/.478/.590 at age 22 in Double A is pretty good. And followed that up with sterling numbers at Vancouver.

And they never gave him a chance. He didn't hit from Day 1, got hurt, and they said bah and traded him to the Padres for nothing. Tim somebody.

So that was four guys, none of them world beaters, but all players who either had or could have had productive ML careers. But Milwaukee had other things in mind.

Sigh.....
   93. Dizzypaco Posted: January 12, 2007 at 05:47 PM (#2279379)
Other players I remember being highly touted included BJ Surhoff, Dale Svuem, Rob Deer, Joey Meyer, Greg Vaughn, Juan Nieves, and some other starting pitchers.
   94. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 12, 2007 at 05:51 PM (#2279382)
Well, I thought you were after guys from the early 80's. These guys are all late 80's.

Deer came via trade from the Giants.

Surhoff was a number 1 pick and had a pretty good career once he was moved to the outfield.

Joey Meyer got a raw deal. Trebelhorn played him a half season, Meyer hit ok, and then because he was so gross looking the team dumped him. Trebelhorn is a real fitness fanatic and found Meyer personally repulsive. I thought if they could get the guy to drop 25 pounds and let him DH they might have had something.

Nieves ruined his career just like Edwin Correa. He hit the weights, got tight, and totally lost the ability to throw the d*mn ball. It was sad.

Vaughn had a pretty good career. Almost won an MVP one year. Of course, NOT with the Brewers.
   95. JPWF13 Posted: January 12, 2007 at 06:20 PM (#2279430)
Billy Jo Robidoux hit .342 at El Paso. Yeah, that translated well.


what happened to LaVel Freeman?
   96. DavidFoss Posted: January 12, 2007 at 06:47 PM (#2279459)
Wow. That is really setting the table for hitters 4, 5, and 6. I do think Perez making the Hall was an erroneous decision. For him not to get 90 rbi's a season with these hitters 1-2-3 would be a crime. Crap, Tony Muser and Bill Sudakis would have knocked in 90 a season hitting behind these guys.

Those posted numbers are inflated a bit due to the "translation", but the 1-2-3 guys for the Big Red Machine set the table like few other clubs have.

Perez didn't bat 4th all the time, though. It was 94G-53G Bench-Perez in 1975 and 64G-49G-31G Foster-Perez-Bench in 1976. By odd quirk of luck, all three 1976 Red cleanup hitters hit worse in that lineup slot than they did in other positions. Although 1976 Red cleanup hitters batted just .241/.328/.411, the still drove in 120 runs. And 1975 Red cleanup hitters drove in 141 runs.
   97. DanG Posted: January 12, 2007 at 06:51 PM (#2279465)
Bell-Moseby-Barfield?

About twenty years ago I studied outfielders' AME, as I called it, Assists Minus Errors. I found two outfields where each member was at +10. One you might guess: The Expos in 1978 had Valentine 24 A-10 E, Dawson 17-5 and Cromartie 24-8. The other you would never get in 50 guesses: the Yankees in 1974 with Murcer 21-7, Maddox 18-5 and Piniella 16-3. I always thought that was a great bit of trivia. I have no idea if this has been accomplished more recently.
   98. Catfish326 Posted: January 12, 2007 at 07:07 PM (#2279474)
The '78 expos outfied was pretty good. I was surprised with the '74 Yanks outfied, but only because Piniella was in the mix. Murcer and Maddox were very solid defensively. Maddox had a really good year in 1974, offesively and defensively. I always wondered why he fell off the table. He hit .307 in limited time, w/ 218 AB's in 1975, after hitting .303 in 1974. Did he suffer a major injury in mid-1975?
   99. Catfish326 Posted: January 12, 2007 at 07:16 PM (#2279479)
I found the Elliott Maddox answer, from a 1985 article in the NYTimes:

Elliot Maddox, the former Yankee outfielder whose knee was injured when he slipped on wet grass in a game at Shea Stadium in 1975 [where the Yankees played that season], has failed in his effort to reinstate a negligence suit growing out of the mishap. New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled unanimously yesterday that a lower court had acted properly in dismissing the suit.

In the 6-0 ruling, the court held that Maddox, who testified that he had complained about the field to the ground crew, had been aware of its condition and had willingly assumed the risks of playing on the wet and muddy field. ''His continued participation in the game in light of that awareness constituted assumption of risk as a matter of law,'' said Judge Bernard Meyer in the court's opinion. Maddox, who said the injury required three operations and shortened his career, had sought $12 million in damages from a variety of defendants, including New York City, the Yankees, the Mets, and the maintenance company for Shea, where the Yankees played in 1975 during the renovation of Yankee Stadium.
   100. _ Posted: January 12, 2007 at 07:53 PM (#2279506)
People tend to denigrate it because it produced no pennants and few All-Stars, but Harry Dalton's great Milwaukee farm system of the mid-to-late 80s really did produce a lot of good major league talent. It's just that the confluence of two major events conspired to keep the team of that era from reaching its full potential: Bud Selig feeling sorry for himself, and Gary Sheffield getting his initials emblazoned in gold on his front teeth. Those two issues have been talked to death, so I won't go into them again, but overestimation of the minor league talent is about the last thing this team did wrong in that period. Producing a good young rotation of Ted Higuera, Bill Wegman, Chris Bosio, Jaime Navarro (not to mention Nieves, Angel Miranda, and a little later Cal Eldred) in a short span is something most teams would envy. Because it all came to a bad end some forget that it almost won them a pennant one year. Those same pitchers went through the launching pads in El Paso and Denver and Vancouver and dominated. Yeah, some of their hitting prospects were overrated, but it was still a great farm system. If not for a few unlucky breaks and a couple of boneheaded moves, that team might be remembered quite differently.
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