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Sunday, March 04, 2012

BPP: Any player/Any era: Eric Davis

Era he might have thrived in: Davis could play in any era, but he would absolutely dominate the 1960s. Specifically, the St. Louis Cardinals had a glaring hole in right field and the need for someone to take the baton from Stan Musial.

Why: With Stan the Man in the twilight of his career, the Cardinals would need someone to bolster the offense. Adding Davis to a potent mix of Ken Boyer, Curt Flood, Tim McCarver, Lou Brock, Orlando Cepeda and others to replace the weak hitting Mike Shannon would be a boon to a team that perennially finished around .500.

If you normalize the career of Eric Davis to the 1952 Cardinals, he hits .283/.375/.506 with 305 HRs and 386 SBs. Putting his peak years during that era would provide 34 HRs and 50 SBs on average a season.

Having Davis in the fold would also likely stop them from trading for Roger Maris in 1966, who batted just .258/.330/.392 with an 111 OPS+ in his two seasons there.

Of course this assumes Davis wouldn’t need to benefit from modern medicine like he did in the late 90s. At the least, his peak would soften the blow for Cardinals fans when Stan Musial retired.

But, but…the Cards don’t win shannon-shiit without Maris’ ______ and _______ on the field and his ________ in the clubhouse!

Repoz Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:17 AM | 51 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:44 AM (#4073573)
Absolutely one of my favorite players. When he was healthy (and his high in GP was only 135) he hit for power, got on base, and stole bases (83% career success rate).

There's a lot that's fun about his career, including coming back at age 34 after missing a year and looking like he had nothing left. In his next 302 games after coming back, he posted a 143 OPS+. (1996 must have been all kinds of fun for Reds fans.)

Played 131 games for Baltimore at asge 36, hitting for a 151 OPS+.

I think it was Bill James who noted a lot of similarities with Strawberry's life and career.

WAR doesn't like his defense for some reason.

   2. AROM Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4073584)
Strawberry's problems were largely self inflicted. I guess you could say the same about Davis, self inflicted by crashing into walls and playing baseball as hard as one possibly can. He and Davis grew up in LA, I think they played together at some point, for tournaments or something. Both had great ability, power and speed. I think the comparisons end there.
   3. bobm Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:04 AM (#4073586)
Eric Davis made this game extremely entertaining.

   4. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4073590)
I think James mentioned the two were (a) born in the same year, (b) in LA, (c) were childhood friends, (d) both had good first acts to their careers, (e) both flamed out, (f) both put up some good performances late, (g) both were cancer survivors, etc.

I could have some of that wrong (particularly c), but that was the gist of it. There were a dozen or so factors he listed that were interesting. And not in the "you can find random coincidences with any two items" sort of way.

As to Strawberry, he showed late in his career that he could still hit, which makes it all the more disappointing that he was basically done producing by age 30. He had 41 WAR in his 20s, and 2 WAR in his 30s.
   5. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4073593)
Both had great ability, power and speed. I think the comparisons end there.

Both were great players.
   6. AROM Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4073594)
Good points. I had forgotten that Straw had cancer too.

For Davis, that great year in Baltimore came while he was undergoing chemo. Which boggles the mind.
   7. Pokey Reese's Pieces Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:40 AM (#4073603)
Ah, Eric Davis. I will never forget May of 1987. I was 12, growing up just outside Cincy, and Eric Davis was the most exciting baseball player in the world. Every week it seemed he would up the ante: 6 HR in 3 games in Philly, an opposite field shot in Montreal that players called the longest one of that type they'd ever seen, jumping the fence to rob HR's seemingly at ease. For a 12yo baseball fanatic, Eric Davis was Jesus in cleats. It seemed like he could do anything he wanted on the diamond, and do it with a graceful athleticism rarely seen in the sport.

In Little League I changed my batting stance to emulate Davis. Back straight, hands close to the body and very low, almost waist level...but still waving it menacingly (as much as one can from that position). Of course, I began to hit much worse. But who cared, I looked like Eric Davis!

   8. Eugene Freedman Posted: March 04, 2012 at 11:45 AM (#4073605)
It's too bad he didn't get a full season in 1987. Had he gone 40-50 Canseco's 40-40 would have been nothing.

Great SB% for his career. Not only did he have great raw speed early, he maintained his instincts and stole at the right time off the right pitchers later.
   9. rr Posted: March 04, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4073621)
Eric Davis rules.
   10. AROM Posted: March 04, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4073638)
"In Little League I changed my batting stance to emulate Davis. Back straight, hands close to the body and very low, almost waist level...but still waving it menacingly (as much as one can from that position). Of course, I began to hit much worse. But who cared, I looked like Eric Davis!"

I could imitate a lot of players and still hit. Not Davis though. If I tried that stance I couldn't do anything. Those first 2 months of 1987 were unreal. That and the end of 1986. He threatened the boundaries of what was possible on a baseball field. I mean, who else is going to tag up from 2nd to 3rd on a foul popup to Keith Hernandez?
   11. toratoratora Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:02 PM (#4073652)
Of all the players I've seen in my life, none had the complete package like Eric Davis. Good Power, incredible defense, great speed.
He was like Bonds, but faster and could play center
When folks my Dad's age talk about Mickey Mantle and his raw talent, Davis is the guy who comes to mind for me.

   12. base ball chick Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4073684)
arom

did you switch hit? i thought you're a lefty

straw threw his career away for drugs. ED was injured playing baseball. straw wasn't near the baserunner or fielder that ED was

would they get compared all the time if one of them had been a White boy from iowa?
   13. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: March 04, 2012 at 02:04 PM (#4073691)
Of all the players I've seen in my life, none had the complete package like Eric Davis. Good Power, incredible defense, great speed.
He was like Bonds, but faster and could play center
When folks my Dad's age talk about Mickey Mantle and his raw talent, Davis is the guy who comes to mind for me.


It's hard to think of any players since Mantle retired who better match the Mick's skill set than Davis, though Mantle had more power and Davis had a better arm. What's interesting is that while Mantle was 5-11 / 195, Davis was 6-2 and only 165. His wrist powered, whip-like swing always reminded me more of Ernie Banks and Hank Aaron.
   14. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 04, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4073700)
In fairness, BBC, not many players were as good as Davis on the bases -- particularly stealing.

Do people realize that Beltran is 87% stealing for his career?
   15. AROM Posted: March 04, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4073757)
"did you switch hit? i thought you're a lefty"

Natural righty. But I taught myself to switch hit, and sometimes throw lefty.
   16. Rennie's Tenet Posted: March 04, 2012 at 05:33 PM (#4073762)
As a Pirate fan, I developed a tremendous respect for Davis during the 1990 playoffs, even though he didn't hit.
   17. Squash Posted: March 04, 2012 at 05:47 PM (#4073767)
One of the flat out studs. It's too bad his body couldn't hold it together because he threw up some of the great WTF seasons on record. And he could take a walk. A stud.
   18. Repoz Posted: March 04, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4073770)
Do people realize that Beltran is 87% stealing for his career?

No, but most realize that he is 100% at...TAKING A ####### CALLED THIRD STRIKE!!!

Or so I've been told by thousands of bulby Met fans.
   19. base ball chick Posted: March 04, 2012 at 06:28 PM (#4073778)
RayDiPerna Posted: March 04, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4073700)

In fairness, BBC, not many players were as good as Davis on the bases -- particularly stealing.

Do people realize that Beltran is 87% stealing for his career?



i remember it was the year after we lost to the mets and mama told me eric was a supadupa DUPA star. she was more up on him than on barry lamar

guys who are really excellent baserunners really don't get near enough respect, especially guys who don't steal 80 bases, like, say larry walker or jeff bagwell

trust me i know ALL about carlos beltran who shoulda been an astro - woulda changed the franchise

sigh
   20. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 04, 2012 at 07:54 PM (#4073803)
My favorite player in the late 1980s; Eric Davis was the last player that I bought a poster of and stuck it on my wall...
   21. base ball chick Posted: March 04, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4073812)
18. Repoz Posted: March 04, 2012 at 05:03 PM (#4073770)
Do people realize that Beltran is 87% stealing for his career?

No, but most realize that he is 100% at...TAKING A ####### CALLED THIRD STRIKE!!!



- thank you for cheering me up

that pitch was, what i believe joe morgan referred to as "your mothereffing strike 3 curve"

it was a thing of beauty


   22. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: March 04, 2012 at 08:56 PM (#4073820)
Davis' number one comp is Kirk Gibson (Strawberry is #3). Gibson and Davis were different kinds of physical specimens, but both were pretty unreal in their own ways when they were on the field...

Look at Davis' 1987 season...in 129 games, OPS+ of 155, with 37 HRs, 100 RBIs, 84 BBs, 50 SBs, only 6 CS, 120 runs scored, has a slash line of .293/.399/.593, wins the GG and the Silver Slugger, named an All-Star...what a year.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: March 04, 2012 at 09:52 PM (#4073837)
I always bring up Cesar Cedeno who was Eric Davis before Eric Davis and I consider the most talented player I've ever seen. Now, true enough, if somehow I'd been 10 when Davis debuted and 22 when Cedeno debuted I might have a slightly different opinion on that. But for those who don't know, in 1972-3 at the ages of 21-22, Cedeno hit 320/380/537, in the Astrodome for a 157 OPS+ with 47 HR and 111 SB. Amazingly, he hit 320 and slugged 537 in both years.

Anyway, you can make a case for Davis as we quibble over BA vs. walk rate, and I'll point to Cedeno doing that at 21-22 and you'll point to Davis's age 24-25 64 HR and 130 SB or we can just wait for God to give us the right answer when we get to the other side. As to "any player, any era", I'll take my chances with either one of those guys in any era. If you want to comp peak Davis to Mantle then you have to comp peak Cedeno to Mays (comparisons that do neither of them any good).

For their careers:

CC 8133 PA, 123 OPS+, 52 WAR
ED 6147 PA, 125 OPS+, 34 WAR
   24. silhouetted by the sea Posted: March 04, 2012 at 09:59 PM (#4073838)
I don't know how to check this, except by looking at each individual game on B-Ref, but in 1989 he had a huge amount of 9th inning go ahead or walk off home runs-I think it was like 7 or 8 of them. Also, the only game I ever bought a scalped ticket for, he hit for the cycle.
   25. AROM Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:21 PM (#4073849)
Eric Davis's best season: June 1986 to May 1987

141 games, 564 PA, 484 AB

Slash:314/407/638

123 runs, 42 HR, 111 RBI, 86 SB, 11 CS
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: March 04, 2012 at 10:26 PM (#4073853)
I don't know how to check this, except by looking at each individual game on B-Ref, but in 1989 he had a huge amount of 9th inning go ahead or walk off home runs-I think it was like 7 or 8 of them. Also, the only game I ever bought a scalped ticket for, he hit for the cycle.


Not sure about the homeruns, but if you go to game logs for the season it lists go ahead hits(he had 20).(note you don't have to go game by game, it's listed at the top of the page---it has hit streaks, on base streaks and other info) If you look at homerun track, he had 4 walk offs in his career. Homerun tracker also shows 8 homeruns in the 9th or later for the season.
   27. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 05, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4073907)
- thank you for cheering me up

that pitch was, what i believe joe morgan referred to as "your mothereffing strike 3 curve"

it was a thing of beauty


Really? I didn't see any great pitch; I saw a hanger over the heart of the plate that Beltran froze on.

I always assumed he had just guessed wrong, not that he had been fooled.
   28. smileyy Posted: March 05, 2012 at 12:37 AM (#4073915)
As a Pirate fan, I developed a tremendous respect for Davis during the 1990 playoffs, even though he didn't hit.


He made some sort of epic outfield assist, didn't he?
   29. silhouetted by the sea Posted: March 05, 2012 at 01:37 AM (#4073928)
CFB thank you for the help-that is a really neat tool. On a quick check, I found 5 times in 1989 where Eric hit a home run in the Reds last at bat (anywhere from the bottom of the 8th at home to the 9th or extra innings) where he hit a home run to give the Reds a lead. I also found 1 game from memory where he did the same thing with a double. Of course, the Reds were pretty bad that year, in addition to having the biggest soap opera in baseball history going on, and they did not always hold the lead he gave them.
   30. bjhanke Posted: March 05, 2012 at 06:01 AM (#4073963)
I absolutely agree that Davis was a great player whose battles with injuries were sad and undeserved. But the quote there is about as bad a piece of "what if" analysis as I have ever seen. If you want to prove that Davis would have dominated the 1960s, why normalize to 1952? In fact, you've got a huge problem in normalizing to the Cards in the 60s, because they made a radical ballpark switch in 1966, right in the middle of the decade. Davis would have suited the new park much better than the old one, which had a RF that was easy to play. Also, the Cardinals did not break the color line at all until 1954, and their manager from 57-59 was a racist who would not give proper play to Curt Flood, Bob Gibson, and Bill White, although GM Bing Devine kept acquiring such players, and would doubtless have loved to find an Eric Davis available. But none of the players listed, except Musial, were with the Cardinals in 1952. Lou Brock WAS the guy who softened the blow of Stan's retirement. If Davis had been with the Cardinals in the 1960s, he would not have been a CF because of Flood. Brock, Cepeda and Maris all came AFTER Stan retired. There are so many targets here that this is an incoherent paragraph I've just written.

That being said, if Eric Davis were to have played in the 1960s, in Busch Stadium (the huge ashtray), with no Curt Flood to compete with, he would have made a great CF there, although the pitcher-friendly characteristics of the time would have drained his raw hitting stats. Huge outfield territory to give value to his speed and arm, although almost no one except Dick Allen and Jack Clark could hit serious homers there.

- Brock Hanke
(who was a little kid when Willie Mays was a young ballplayer, and who, therefore, has no chance of having a balanced idea of who was the best athlete that he ever saw play baseball.)
   31. RJames Posted: March 05, 2012 at 07:49 AM (#4073968)
He and Davis grew up in LA, I think they played together at some point, for tournaments or something.


Byron Scott knew him really well and said that he was unbelievably quick on the basketball court.
   32. baudib Posted: March 05, 2012 at 08:09 AM (#4073971)
Fastest players I've seen on a baseball field are Willie Wilson, Eric Davis and Deion Sanders.

Of the power-speed guys, the 30-30 club, Davis was the fastest by far.

Jay Buhner used the exact same batting stance as Davis, and the stance is so unusual that I cannot believe I never heard anyone mention this over the course of their careers.
   33. AROM Posted: March 05, 2012 at 09:46 AM (#4073983)
"Byron Scott knew him really well and said that he was unbelievably quick on the basketball court."

As any national leaguer who tried to hit homers to center in the late 1980's can attest, Eric also had incredible leaping ability. I have no doubt he could have played in the NBA. No idea if he would have been good enough to star, but he could have at least had a Dee Brown type career that includes a dunk contest.
   34. bjhanke Posted: March 05, 2012 at 09:56 AM (#4073989)
The fastest runner I ever saw play major league baseball was Bake McBride, who was a track star in college. I don't thing he even played college baseball. The Cards took a no-risk chance on him in a very low round of the draft, and found an OK CF who could hit .300, although with little power and no more than normal walks. When he was just getting started, and didn't really know how to hit, he hit a lot of dribblers into the infield, and basically outran the catcher, the pitcher and the 3B man to get to first, like he was Billy Hamilton or somebody who could bunt. Later on, he could hit reasonably well (career average about .300, although that's most of his value). I didn't see enough of Willie Wilson to compare him to McBride, because Willie was in the AL. Deion Sanders was quicker than McBride, but didn't run any faster. It's impossible for me to judge Davis' running speed, because he was hurt so often. - Brock
   35. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: March 05, 2012 at 10:01 AM (#4073994)
1986-1988 - Eric Davis stole 165 bases and was caught 20 times, an 89.2% success rate. I've never seen anyone better at stealing 3rd base (80/92 in his career). From 1987-1992 he was 40/42 stealing 3rd.

   36. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 05, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4074026)
Eric Davis was the last player that I bought a poster of and stuck it on my wall...
Me too. Hella fun to watch.
   37. The Good Face Posted: March 05, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4074035)
Eric Davis rules.


QFT. Not the best player of my lifetime, but nobody made the game look easier or more graceful. Fantastic player, but also a fantastic player to watch play.
   38. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 05, 2012 at 10:49 AM (#4074036)
The fastest runner I ever saw play major league baseball was Bake McBride,

never forget this game-- he scored on a wild pickoff throw to first which ended up being the winning run in a 25 inning marathon
   39. DanG Posted: March 05, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4074051)
Best career SB%, minimum 150 SB since 1950

Rk             Player     SB%   SB  CS    PA From   To
1      Carlos Beltran 87.725
%  293  41  7730 1998 2011
2          Tim Raines 84.696
%  808 146 10359 1979 2002
3          Eric Davis 84.096
%  349  66  6147 1984 2001
4       Willie Wilson 83.292
%  668 134  8317 1976 1994
5        Barry Larkin 83.114
%  379  77  9057 1986 2004
6         Tony Womack 83.066
%  363  74  5389 1993 2006
7         Davey Lopes 83.010
%  557 114  7340 1972 1987
8         Stan Javier 82.828
%  246  51  5755 1984 2001
9       Jimmy Rollins 82.705
%  373  78  7537 2000 2011
10     Doug Glanville 82.353
%  168  36  4282 1996 2004
11      Michael Bourn 82.105
%  234  51  2663 2006 2011
12    Jacoby Ellsbury 81.776
%  175  39  2245 2007 2011
13      Ichiro Suzuki 81.660
%  423  95  8060 2001 2011
14      Carl Crawford 81.644
%  427  96  5934 2002 2011
15      Willy Taveras 81.590
%  195  44  2644 2004 2010
16         Julio Cruz 81.473
%  343  78  4438 1977 1986
17    Shane Victorino 81.407
%  162  37  3629 2003 2011
18       Brian Hunter 80.997
%  260  61  3659 1994 2003
19         Joe Morgan 80.964
%  689 162 11329 1963 1984
20      Vince Coleman 80.947
%  752 177  5970 1985 1997
21   Rickey Henderson 80.758
1406 335 13346 1979 2003 
   40. DanG Posted: March 05, 2012 at 11:23 AM (#4074063)
Worst career SB%, minimum 200 SB attempts since 1950

Rk             Player     SB%  SB  CS    PA From   To
1          Greg Gagne 52.941
108  96  6209 1983 1997
2           Pete Rose 57.061
198 149 15890 1963 1986
3         Dave Parker 57.678
154 113 10184 1973 1991
4        Lenny Randle 58.209
156 112  4427 1971 1982
5     Alfredo Griffin 58.896
192 134  7331 1976 1993
6    Carl Yastrzemski 59.155
168 116 13992 1961 1983
7         Chili Davis 59.167
142  98  9997 1981 1999
8       Luis Gonzalez 59.535
128  87 10531 1990 2008
9       Derrel Thomas 60.345
140  92  5268 1971 1985
10      Tony Phillips 60.825
177 114  9110 1982 1999
11      Ozzie Guillen 61.011
169 108  7133 1985 2000
12   Andres Galarraga 61.244
128  81  8916 1985 2004
13      Minnie Minoso 61.377
205 129  7692 1951 1980
14       Reggie Smith 61.435
137  86  8051 1966 1982 
   41. hokieneer Posted: March 05, 2012 at 11:26 AM (#4074066)
Ah, Eric Davis. I will never forget May of 1987. I was 12, growing up just outside Cincy, and Eric Davis was the most exciting baseball player in the world. Every week it seemed he would up the ante: 6 HR in 3 games in Philly, an opposite field shot in Montreal that players called the longest one of that type they'd ever seen, jumping the fence to rob HR's seemingly at ease. For a 12yo baseball fanatic, Eric Davis was Jesus in cleats. It seemed like he could do anything he wanted on the diamond, and do it with a graceful athleticism rarely seen in the sport.


I'm a little too young to remember the '86 & '87 seasons, I remember Davis at the end of us 1st go around with the Reds. Still amazing, but not otherworldly.

A friend of mine that is about your age would always tell the stories of awesome Davis was and how effortless he made it look. The same friend wears the number 22 in honor of Davis. He has worn it from little league to high school till today in men's softball.
   42. AROM Posted: March 05, 2012 at 11:35 AM (#4074076)
I'm too young to have seen Bake in his prime. If that's true that he never played college baseball and learned to hit as a pro I'm amazed. I'd expect an pure athlete short on experience to either hit for something like an .050 ISO, because he's trying just to make contact and run, or else have an 8 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Bake was a 3:1 K-W guy in the minors and less than 2:1 in the majors. In his second full season in the minors he had 50 extra base hits, including 17 homers. Dude had some real hitting talent.

I had heard about his speed but never saw it myself. I only remember him as a right fielder for the Phillies (who had Garry Maddox in center) who stole only occasionally and drove in a decent number of runs (87 in 1980).

By the stats it looks like he lost a step right when he turned 30 (yeah, that's so uncommon). At 29 he stole 28 out of 31, at 30 he was only safe 25 out of 39 tries, and he never was a serious SB threat after that.

He was listed at 6'2 but must have been 6'5 with the 'fro. He had one of the great ones of the time.
   43. just plain joe Posted: March 05, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4074084)
He had one of the great ones of the time.


Ah seventies baseball; big hair, porn star 'staches and unis that looked like pajamas, you had to love it.
   44. AROM Posted: March 05, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4074109)
If you normalize the career of Eric Davis to the 1952 Cardinals, he hits .283/.375/.506 with 305 HRs and 386 SBs. Putting his peak years during that era would provide 34 HRs and 50 SBs on average a season.


I'm not sure what he's doing to normalize. Doing this for the 1952 Cardinals using the BB-ref tool gives you a 261/351/470 line. I finally RTFA, expecting something more to be explained than in the headline, but I don't understand how normalizing his career to 1952 has any relevance to how he might handle the 1960's.

Normalizing his numbers to the 1960's doesn't look so good, but of course you could say this about anyone. I don't know if Davis would have been hurt more or less than average by the extreme conditions of the time, with the high mounds and power pitchers getting high strike calls. He might have dominated, but he also might have struck out so much in that era that nobody would remember him as a good hitter.
   45. base ball chick Posted: March 05, 2012 at 12:25 PM (#4074119)
just out of curiosity

how do you "normalize" someone's numbers to some other time when the strike zone was different and the parks were different and the player would have been hitting against different pitchers and some of the teams didn't even exist?

also, BITGOD seems there were a whole lot more sac bunts and if mickey mantle was sac bunting, wouldn't everyone else be too? how would you add in sac bunts, especially if you have someone who can't/never bunted?
   46. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: March 05, 2012 at 12:58 PM (#4074148)
never forget this game-- he scored on a wild pickoff throw to first which ended up being the winning run in a 25 inning marathon


"McBride Picked off 1B, safe on E1; McBride Scores/Adv on E2/unER"
So, bad throw from the pitcher, McBride zips around the bases, RF (or somebody) recovers the ball and throws home, but the catcher drops it?
   47. bjhanke Posted: March 06, 2012 at 05:43 AM (#4074809)
Fred Lynn (#46) has got it, if I remember right. I didn't see the game, but I was listening on the radio, waiting for the thing to finally end, so I could go to sleep and get up for work in the morning. If the radio commentary was right, McBride decided to go for THIRD on the wild throw, because it was the 25th inning, everyone was dead tired, no one was hitting anything, and he was Bake McBride, fastest baseball player in the world. The RF was either slow getting there or fumbled it, because the 3B coach just waved Bake around third to home. The throw, possibly hurried by a RF who knew what speed he was up against, might have beaten Bake home, but it wasn't completely on line and then the catcher dropped it. It's worth remembering that this was LATE in the early morning (if that makes sense) and everyone was dead tired. McBride did what he did because there was no reason to believe that anyone behind him might get a hit to drive him in, and then the game would go on even longer.

For AROM, I went over to BB-Ref, to see if they had any record of Bake in college, and they do have a mention, although what they say is that GENERALLY they don't include a college unless the player actually played there. My memory is that his not playing college ball was a big thing when they drafted him in the 37th round, but that's my memory. The college in question, Westminster College, is not exactly division 1, even if Bake played some there, and he's only listed as being there for 2 years. Essentially, Fulton, MO, is the town where Churchill gave the Iron Curtain speech. It's a two-college town. Westminster is boys only; William Woods is girls only. Or, at least, that was true 20 years ago. The colleges have a finishing school feel to them, although they do have academic pretensions. They have NO illusions about their athletic teams. So, even if Bake did play there, the level of play was only a very little above high school.

Also for AROM - if you can ever get a video, take a look at some of Bake's AB in his first two years. He was hilarious to watch. He had a quick bat, so he wasn't overmatched by fastballs, but he didn't have the experience to have bat accuracy yet, so he hit a lot of popups and infield dribblers. A lot of his game was beating out infield singles. There is one game - I can't find a reference to date it - where Bake hit one of these things right at the pitcher, but slow enough that it was obvious that it was going to die about 30 feet in front of the plate. I think the pitcher got there first, and then these things happened, in this order: 1) Bake's foot hit the bag, 2) Bake's other foot hit as a step beyond the bag, 3) the ball hit the 1B glove, 4) the umpire called Bake out! The Cardinal clubhouse exploded. After the game, the umpire admitted that he hadn't really been watching Bake's feet; he was watching the fielding play to see when the ball hit the glove, using his internal umpire clock to judge whether it had gotten there quick enough to beat the runner. He then said that he would never doubt the evidence of his eyes again when dealing with Bake McBride. That's how fast Bake was, and how much fun it was to watch him run out infield grounders. A unique experience, but nothing like the value of Eric Davis. - Brock
   48. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 06, 2012 at 08:21 AM (#4074824)
edit
   49. baudib Posted: March 06, 2012 at 09:12 AM (#4074835)
I remember Bake on the Phillies but he was slightly past his prime. I don't remember him being particularly fast, the guys on the Phils I remember as fast when I was a kid were Maddox, Dernier, Lonnie Smith.

   50. DKDC Posted: March 06, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4074868)

I've never seen anyone better at stealing 3rd base (80/92 in his career).


Not to take away from Eric Davis (who is one of my all-time favorite players), but Brian Roberts is 80/89 in his career in steals of 3rd base.
   51. zack Posted: March 06, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4074900)
Anyone else ever read The Ticket Out, primarily about Strawberry?

If I remember right, Davis went to a rival school to Strawberry in LA. They were childhood rivals as the best players in LA, I don't think they were friends until later when both were in MLB.

I may also be mixing up details between Chris Brown and Davis in my head, though, since it's been years.

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