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Friday, January 04, 2013

Don Mattingly Hall of Fame Q&A

Ooof! Just strained my lower back reaching to get Mattingly to 3,000 hits in five years.

Q. Was there ever a time when you felt like you would be a Hall of Famer?

A. When I retired, I was 34. If I had kept playing another five years, I may have ended up with 3,000 hits and reached some other milestones and gotten in. I made the decision for my boys because I wanted to be around. When you do that type of thing, you know what you’re doing, you know you’re not going to make the Hall of Fame. If I was worried about making the Hall of Fame, I wouldn’t have retired.

Q. What impact do you think the back injury had on your chances of being a Hall of Famer?

A. I was pretty good for a short period and, when I got banged up and hurt my back, it kind of robbed me of some things, things I wasn’t able to do after that. That’s just the way it is. There are a lot of guys who are probably in my boat, good players who got banged up and found it hard to be productive after that. For me, it was hard just to stay on the field. I was on the DL once a year, maybe twice, for the last five years. When you do that, it’s really frustrating because you start rolling a little bit and the next thing you know, you’re on the shelf. Couple that with my kids and everything and it’s enough.

Repoz Posted: January 04, 2013 at 04:39 PM | 113 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 04:51 PM (#4339225)
To get 3000 hits, Mattingly would have had to average 169 hits over the next five seasons, a number he hadn't achieved since age 31. And barring some sort of power surge, he would have had well under 300 homers, perhaps even under 250.
   2. T.J. Posted: January 04, 2013 at 04:58 PM (#4339229)
His "Most Similar" list includes names like Keith Hernandez, (young) Frank Thomas, Will Clark, Wally Joyner, John Olerud, etc. Sounds about right. I thought I'd see Mark Grace on the list, but I guess his early-career power kicked Grace to the curb.
   3. AROM Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4339247)
To add to #1, Mattingly's hit total for his last 2 seasons would be 162 and 149 even adjusting for 1994-5 being strike shortened years.

A bigger problem would have been even finding a team willing to play him considering the loss of power. Yankee icon or not, he was forced out of New York because the Yankees felt they needed more power from first base and traded for Tino Martinez (hard to blame them for that).

There were rumors around the time that Mattingly might sign with St Louis. While that might have given him a year and a half of playing time, Don hitting .300 with 12 homers and good defense would not have stopped the Cardinals when the chance to bring in McGwire presented itself.

Mattingly could still have found playing time somewhere as long as he kept the average and glove, but he would have had to become a nomad, bouncing from team to team and practically begging for a chance to play. Kind of like Johnny Damon* 2010-12. And his pursuit of 3000 hits would likely have fizzled out just like Damon's.

*Fitting, since Damon is Nomad spelled backwards.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4339261)
In the 6 seasons before he hurt his back, Mattingly hit .327/.372/.530 with a 147 OPS+, while also earning 5 (of 9) Gold Gloves. Only 29, he was a likely HoFer until the back went out.
   5. bachslunch Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:39 PM (#4339270)
I posted this to Bleacher Report initially and thought it might be of interest. The article I replied to was titled "2013 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot: Don Mattingly, Superstar or Nice Player?"

Here are numbers for several other players who appeared fully or a good bit at 1B and have about the same amount of PAs as Mattingly:

Don Mattingly: 7722 PAs, 127 OPS+, 39.8 WAR
Hal Chase (on banned list): 7939 PAs, 112 OPS+, 19.2 WAR
Norm Cash: 7914 PAs, 139 OPS+, 48.2 WAR
Wally Pipp: 7835 PAs, 104 OPS+, 27.8 WAR
Boog Powell: 7809 PAs, 135 OPS+, 35.0 WAR
Jeff Conine: 7782 PAs, 107 OPS+, 16.2 WAR
Phil Cavarretta: 7701 PAs, 118 OPS+, 31.8 WAR
*Dan Brouthers: 7676 PAs, 170 OPS+, 76.9 WAR
Mark McGwire: 7660 PAs, 163 OPS+, 58.7 WAR
Lance Berkman: 7520 PAs, 146 OPS+, 49.0 WAR

There's only one HoF-er here (Brouthers) and he's the best of these folks by a country mile. Mattingly is clearly a better player than Chase, Pipp, Conine, and Cavarretta, but trails Cash, McGwire, and Berkman in both OPS+ and WAR and Powell in OPS+. McGwire would probably be in the HoF already if it weren't for PED issues, and Chase is rightly on the banned list.

The question here would actually seem to be -- "Why aren't Cash and Powell in the HoF?" Cash is clearly more HoF qualified, and Powell has at the very least as good an argument as Mattingly, better if you value OPS+. And it's very hard to see how one could argue for Mattingly and not even more fervently endorse Berkman for the HoF.

Mattingly is definitely a Hall of the Very Good level player, but not a HoF-er as far as I can see -- and certainly not if Cash and Powell aren't in.
   6. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:58 PM (#4339280)
In the 6 seasons before he hurt his back, Mattingly hit .327/.372/.530 with a 147 OPS+, while also earning 5 (of 9) Gold Gloves. Only 29, he was a likely HoFer until the back went out.


FWIW, below are some 1Bs through age 29, centered by WAR on Mattingly. I agree that a healthy Mattingly *would* have gone in, but he wasn't the slam dunk for something like the Hall of Merit that I think people remember him as. At 27 and 28 he wasn't the superduperstar he was at 23-26. It's not clear what a "healthy Mattingly" would have actually been.

Rk            Player OPSWAR/pos   BA  OBP  SLG
1      Mark Teixeira  135    34.9 .290 .378 .545
2         Will Clark  145    34.0 .299 .373 .499
3        Todd Helton  146    33.5 .337 .425 .616
4        Ed Konetchy  128    31.9 .282 .354 .410
5        John Olerud  135    31.8 .301 .403 .484
6      Don Mattingly  138    31.7 .317 .363 .504
7     Willie McCovey  149    30.6 .276 .369 .536
8       Fred McGriff  152    30.3 .281 .389 .531
9         Kent Hrbek  132    28.5 .290 .368 .496
10   Rafael Palmeiro  131    28.4 .298 .364 .480
11        Hal Trosky  135    27.8 .313 .379 .551
12      Frank Chance  150    27.6 .311 .415 .419
13     Jim Bottomley  141    27.5 .328 .391 .547
14    Stuffy McInnis  113    27.2 .307 .346 .377 


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/4/2013.

Pujols through 29 had a 172 OPS+ and 71.5 WAR. So by WAR, Pujols and a AAAA scrub in right field would be 7 or 8 wins better than a duo of Mattingly or McCovey and Tony Gwynn or Dave Winfield. IOW, Pujols by himself was (by WAR) as valuable as two HoF-level performers. It's fun to occasionally remind oneself about the astonishing awesomeness of Albert Pujols.
   7. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4339292)
I encourage people to read this interview. It's very reasonable and level-headed. Mattingly has an intelligent take on things.

Good read, thanks for the link.
   8. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4339296)
In the 6 seasons before he hurt his back, Mattingly hit .327/.372/.530 with a 147 OPS+, while also earning 5 (of 9) Gold Gloves. Only 29, he was a likely HoFer until the back went out.


Bill James used to have a fun note in the abstracts - "Can I try this career over?" - and then name a player. In this past era I'd name, e.g., Jeremy Giambi.

One twist on that would be - "Can I try the second half of my career over?" That would be guys like Mattingly and Strawberry. Oh, and Griffey. Definitely Griffey. (Not guys like Rice or Murphy, as I feel they petered out naturally.)

Can people think of others in either category?
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4339297)
In the 6 seasons before he hurt his back, Mattingly hit .327/.372/.530 with a 147 OPS+, while also earning 5 (of 9) Gold Gloves. Only 29, he was a likely HoFer until the back went out.

Yup, Hall of Fame talent derailed by injury. Clearly not a HoF career.
   10. Howie Menckel Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4339298)

Mattingly was a phenomenal defensive first baseman when healthy. Boog not so much and don't recall Cash's defense either way.

So that boosts Mattingly's HOVG case, I suppose.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4339300)

I encourage people to read this interview. It's very reasonable and level-headed. Mattingly has an intelligent take on things.


Agree. A very refreshing departure from "man when I played I was great and everyone was great, and everyone that came up afterwards didn't respect the game and probably cheated." He comes off as very humble and grateful he got to even play in the big leagues, while respecting other greats in the game. Mattingly was always a really easy guy to root for, even as a Yankee.
   12. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4339302)
At 27 and 28 he wasn't the superduperstar he was at 23-26. It's not clear what a "healthy Mattingly" would have actually been.


Although he wouldn't miss a big chunk of time until age 29, Mattingly's back trouble started during his age 27 season.
   13. John Northey Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4339304)
Mattingly definitely has the best, most level headed view I've seen of a players career by that player. He was an excellent player at one point and had he found a way to keep playing long enough he might have got in but made a choice that was best for him and he accepted that it removed any shot from the HOF. In truth, it would probably be good for him to fall off the ballot so he wouldn't get asked this stuff all the time (or at least less often). A bit surprised more of the anti-PED crowd hasn't latched onto Mattingly ala the anti-stathead latching onto Jim Rice a few years ago.
   14. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4339305)
"Can I try the second half of my career over?"


Bret Saberhagen
Dwight Gooden
Will Clark
Dale Murphy
Albert Belle
Dick Allen
Pedro Guerrero
Kal Daniels
Danny Tartabull
Roy Oswalt
Dave Steib
   15. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:37 PM (#4339306)
Could he have played for much longer? His last 6 years produced a 105 OPS+. His last year wasn't good on either side of the ball, and, perhaps more ominous looking, his last three years produced a rising walk rate. A rising walk rate can signal the end for an old hitter. The knowledge that you can't hit certain types of pitches/locations anymore and can't catch up to them, so you lay off of them.

Interestingly, Mattingly saw time in each of the three OF positions, plus at 2B and 3B (just a game or three there). A lefty thrower at 2B or 3B must have been a hoot.

One of my favorite players growing up, and now, even though I'm a Red Sox fan. He had a peak that fits very, very nicely into a HOF career - even though he didn't walk much - but he just burned out too soon. Simply not deserving of the Hall, unfortunately.
   16. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:40 PM (#4339308)
Black Ink Batting - 23 (86), Average HOFer ? 27
Gray Ink Batting - 111 (189), Average HOFer ? 144
Hall of Fame Monitor Batting - 134 (102), Likely HOFer ? 100
Hall of Fame Standards Batting - 34 (231), Average HOFer ? 50

Similar Batters
1.Cecil Cooper (933)
2.Wally Joyner (907)
3.Hal McRae (895)
4.Kirby Puckett (891) *
5.Will Clark (879)
6.Magglio Ordonez (877)
7.Jeff Conine (875)
8.Tony Oliva (867)
9.Raul Ibanez (863)
10.Keith Hernandez (861)
   17. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:40 PM (#4339309)
Bret Saberhagen
Dwight Gooden
Will Clark
Dale Murphy
Albert Belle
Dick Allen
Pedro Guerrero
Kal Daniels
Danny Tartabull
Roy Oswalt
Dave Steib


Some good ones here, thanks. I like Saberhagen, Gooden, and Daniels the best.
   18. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4339310)
A lefty thrower at 2B or 3B must have been a hoot.


Don't know what the 3B game was, but he played 2B in the 9th inning of the George Brett pine tar game after it was replayed once AL President Lee McPhail upheld the Royals protest. Billy Martin protested the replaying of the 9th inning by playing guys out of position including Mattingly at 2B and Ron Guidry in centerfield.
   19. Danny Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:44 PM (#4339313)
From SABR:

A conspicuous side note from the 1986 season was the Yankees' trip to Seattle in August of that year. Third baseman Mike Pagliarulo was injured before the game on August 30, and the Yankees needed an emergency fill-in. Mattingly volunteered, and manager Lou Piniella gave him the go-ahead, making him the first left-handed-throwing third baseman to play in the majors since Wee Willie Keeler in the early 1900s. On the first play of the game, leadoff batter Jose Moses hit a grounder to third base, which Mattingly fielded cleanly before making a wide throw to first base that allowed Moses to reach on an error. But he quickly redeemed himself on the next play when he stabbed a sharp grounder from Mickey Brantley and started a 6-4-3 double play. In all, Mattingly played three games at third base, had one putout, 11 assists and one error and was involved in two double plays.
   20. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:46 PM (#4339315)
Interestingly, Mattingly saw time in each of the three OF positions, plus at 2B and 3B (just a game or three there). A lefty thrower at 2B or 3B must have been a hoot.


The time at 3B was filling in for an injured Mike Pagliarulo. He acquitted himself well enough there. The 1/3 of an inning at 2B was the conclusion of the pine tar game.
   21. John DiFool2 Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:47 PM (#4339316)
*Fitting, since Damon is Nomad spelled backwards.


Successfully resisted urge to post a Star Trek joke.
   22. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:52 PM (#4339320)
"Can I try the second half of my career over?"


Ray Chapman
Jason Kendall
J.R. Richard
Al Rosen
Cecil Travis
Hal Trosky
   23. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4339322)
Yes, more good ones, Vlad. (Chapman. Lol.)

I think James once classified Chapman's career as ending via injury and said "Well, death is an injury - an extreme injury, but an injury nonetheless."
   24. Howie Menckel Posted: January 04, 2013 at 07:02 PM (#4339325)

Mattingly was a class presence in the clubhouse for the media as well. A lot of guys who are "good with the media" are egotistical types who like to hear themselves talk anyway.

Mattingly was not that way, but from what I saw he was a real professional in that regard....
   25. Danny Posted: January 04, 2013 at 07:06 PM (#4339327)
"Can I try the second half of my career over?"

Chuck Knobloach. Sixth most rWAR among 2B through age 28 (36.3), tenth most through age 30 (42.2), and 25th for his career (42.0).
   26. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: January 04, 2013 at 07:06 PM (#4339328)
WOW. In 1894 Dan Brouthers had 615 plate appearances and struck out 9 times.
   27. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 07:11 PM (#4339329)
Koblauch is a good one. Andruw Jones, too.

Even Hershiser.
   28. Danny Posted: January 04, 2013 at 07:11 PM (#4339330)
WOW. In 1894 Dan Brouthers had 615 plate appearances and struck out 9 times.

Less amazing when the league SO/9 was 2.2--just ask Jack Doyle.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: January 04, 2013 at 07:12 PM (#4339331)
Mattingly volunteered, and manager Lou Piniella gave him the go-ahead, making him the first left-handed-throwing third baseman to play in the majors since Wee Willie Keeler in the early 1900s.


Except he wasn't. Mike Squires played third for one inning in 1983 and manned the hot corner for 13 games in 1984, starting four of them. He also caught two games.
   30. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 07:21 PM (#4339336)
First 8 years of Appier's career: 140 ERA+, 1650 innings

From 30-36: 930 innings, 100 ERA+
   31. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 04, 2013 at 07:57 PM (#4339355)
So is Squires the last LH catcher in MLB? And who was the last one before him?
   32. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 04, 2013 at 07:59 PM (#4339356)
Concur with the encouragements to RTFI.

I was pretty good for a short period


Not only is he intelligent and level-headed, he's also modest.



   33. slothinator Posted: January 04, 2013 at 08:10 PM (#4339362)
So is Squires the last LH catcher in MLB? And who was the last one before him?


The last one that I know of was Benny Distefano for the the Pirates in 1989.
   34. cardsfanboy Posted: January 04, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4339370)
Except he wasn't. Mike Squires played third for one inning in 1983 and manned the hot corner for 13 games in 1984, starting four of them. He also caught two games.


Terry Francona played 4 innings at third in 1985 and Mario Valdez one inning in 1997... neither started though.
   35. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: January 04, 2013 at 09:03 PM (#4339381)
There's only one HoF-er here (Brouthers) and he's the best of these folks by a country mile. Mattingly is clearly a better player than Chase, Pipp, Conine, and Cavarretta, but trails Cash, McGwire, and Berkman in both OPS+ and WAR and Powell in OPS+. McGwire would probably be in the HoF already if it weren't for PED issues, and Chase is rightly on the banned list.
Chase is not on the banned list.
   36. bobm Posted: January 04, 2013 at 09:03 PM (#4339382)
EDIT: For single seasons, From 1901 to 2012, Throws LH, Played 1 games at C, sorted by most recent date

                                            
Rk             Player Year Age  Tm Lg    Pos
1     Benny Distefano 1989  27 PIT NL  *3/29
2        Mike Squires 1980  28 CHW AL   *3/2
3           Tom Chism 1979  25 BAL AL  /*362
4         Chris Short 1961  23 PHI NL   *1/2
5           Dale Long 1958  32 CHC NL   *3/2
6    Homer Hillebrand 1905  25 PIT NL 31/927
7       Jiggs Donahue 1902  22 SLB AL   *2/3
8            Joe Wall 1902  28 TOT NL    /29
9       Jiggs Donahue 1901  21 TOT ML  *23/7
10        Fred Tenney 1901  29 BSN NL   *3/2
11           Joe Wall 1901  27 NYG NL   /*29


   37. bobm Posted: January 04, 2013 at 09:10 PM (#4339384)
EDIT: For single seasons, From 1901 to 2012, Throws LH, Played 1 games at 2B, sorted by most recent date

                                           
Rk             Player Year Age  Tm      Pos
1       Don Mattingly 1983  22 NYY    397/4
2     Gonzalo Marquez 1973  27 TOT    3/4D9
3        Sam McDowell 1970  27 CLE    *1/43
4        George Crowe 1958  37 CIN     *3/4
5       Lefty Stewart 1933  32 WSH     *1/4
6       Jim Bottomley 1924  24 STL     *3/4
7           Edd Roush 1920  27 CIN    *83/4
8       George Sisler 1917  24 SLB     *3/4
9           Hal Chase 1916  33 CIN    *3487
10          Joe Agler 1915  28 TOT  *39/784
11          Hal Chase 1913  30 TOT    *3/84
12          Hal Chase 1912  29 NYY     *3/4
13          Hal Chase 1911  28 NYY    *3/84
14      Pep Deininger 1909  31 PHI   *8/947
15          Hal Chase 1908  25 NYY  *3/4715
16          Doc White 1907  28 CHW    *1/94
17          Hal Chase 1906  23 NYY     *3/4
18         Cozy Dolan 1906  33 BSN  *9/4173
19          Hal Chase 1905  22 NYY    *3/64
20      Jack Dunleavy 1905  25 STL    *97/4
21      Willie Keeler 1905  33 NYY   *94/75
22        Doc Gessler 1904  23 BRO  *87/943
23   Charlie Hemphill 1904  28 SLB   *98/74
24   Charlie Hemphill 1902  26 TOT   *987/4
25       Snake Wiltse 1902  30 TOT *13/9847
Rk             Player Year Age  Tm      Pos
26        Lefty Davis 1901  26 TOT   *97/84
27       Buck Freeman 1901  29 BOS    *3/49
28      Willie Keeler 1901  29 BRO    *95/4
   38. bobm Posted: January 04, 2013 at 09:13 PM (#4339385)
For single seasons, From 1901 to 2012, Throws LH, Played 1 games at SS, sorted by most recent date

                                
Rk           Player Year Age  Tm
1         Mark Ryal 1987  26 CAL
2         Tom Chism 1979  25 BAL
3    Royle Stillman 1975  24 BAL
4     Nino Escalera 1954  24 CIN
5        Lou Gehrig 1934  31 NYY
6         Hal Chase 1909  26 NYY
7         Hal Chase 1905  22 NYY
8       Lefty Davis 1903  28 NYY
9     Jesse Burkett 1902  33 SLB
10      Mike Donlin 1902  24 CIN
11        Russ Hall 1901  29 CLE


   39. bobm Posted: January 04, 2013 at 09:26 PM (#4339392)
For single seasons, From 1901 to 2012, Throws LH, Played 1 games at 3B, sorted by most recent date

                                   
Rk           Player Year Age  Tm Lg
1      Mario Valdez 1997  22 CHW AL
2     Don Mattingly 1986  25 NYY AL
3    Terry Francona 1985  26 MON NL
4      Mike Squires 1984  32 CHW AL
5      Mike Squires 1983  31 CHW AL
6     Charlie Grimm 1918  19 STL NL
7     George Sisler 1916  23 SLB AL
8       Milo Netzel 1909  23 CLE AL
9         Hal Chase 1908  25 NYY AL
10     Buck Freeman 1906  34 BOS AL
11     Buck Freeman 1905  33 BOS AL
12    Willie Keeler 1905  33 NYY AL
13    Willie Keeler 1903  31 NYY AL
14    Jesse Burkett 1902  33 SLB AL
15       Cy Seymour 1902  29 TOT ML
16    Willie Keeler 1901  29 BRO NL


   40. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 04, 2013 at 10:28 PM (#4339416)
A lefty thrower at 2B or 3B must have been a hoot.

I tried it with one of my Little League teams once - had a good fielder who happened to be a lefty. Sure enough, he made several good plays on balls down the line that a righty (at that level) would probably have whiffed altogether.

I think James once classified Chapman's career as ending via injury and said "Well, death is an injury - an extreme injury, but an injury nonetheless."

Suddenly, in my mind, Bill James sounds just like David St. Hubbins.
   41. Squash Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:09 AM (#4339499)
Ray Chapman
Jason Kendall
J.R. Richard
Al Rosen
Cecil Travis
Hal Trosky


The A's can provide two in Mark Mulder and Barry Zito (though Zito in the second half of this year certainly redeemed himself). Hopefully Tim Lincecum isn't joining that list. Frank Tanana, though he went on to have a very long career, but he was lights out his first few years before he got injured.
   42. dejarouehg Posted: January 05, 2013 at 04:40 AM (#4339516)
"Can I try this career over?"


Cesar Cedeno.

To lesser extents, Mantle and Bench.
   43. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 05, 2013 at 05:51 AM (#4339521)
Mark Prior. Although that's more like 75% than half...
   44. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 05, 2013 at 05:58 AM (#4339523)
Jim Fregosi, 43.3 WAR through age 29. 2.2 from 30-36.
   45. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:13 AM (#4339524)
1916-2012, Pitcher and catcher in the same game:

Jeff Mathis, 7/25/12 -- 1 IP, 2 runs
Rob Johnson, 5/18/12 -- 1 IP, 0 runs, 1 K
Jamie Burke, 6/7/08 -- 1 IP (15th), 1 R, loss
Wiki Gonzalez, 5/15/03 -- 1 IP, 0 runs, 1 BB
Shane Halter, 10/1/00 -- 1 BF, 0 runs, 1 BB
Scott Sheldon, 9/6/00 -- 1 BF, 0 runs, 1 K
Rick Dempsey, 7/2/91 -- 1 IP, 1 run
Rick Cerone, 8/9/87 -- 1 IP, 0 runs, 1 BB
Rick Cerone, 7/19/87 -- 1 IP, 0 runs, 1 K
Jeff Newman, 9/14/77 -- 1 IP, 0 runs
Cesar Tovar, 9/22/68 -- starting pitcher! 1 IP, 0 runs, 1 BB, 1 K
Bert Campaneris, 9/8/65 -- 1 IP, 1 run, 2 BB
Dee Moore, 9/27/36 -- starting picher, 2 IP, 0 runs, 1 BB, 1 K

Who woulda thought the catcher-pitcher double would be a 21st century thing?

Halter, Sheldon, Campy and Tovar were gimmicks where the guy played all 9 positions. And while I could understand Tovar, Campy and Halter being given chances to do this silliness, I couldn't understand why Scott Sheldon would be allowed to do this. Which is when I discovered something pretty amazing -- he didn't even start that game. He came on in the bottom of the 4th.
   46. bjhanke Posted: January 05, 2013 at 07:22 AM (#4339527)
A couple of years ago, being a lefty, and bored for a minute or two, I tried to think through what would be the cost and reward of playing a lefty at the "righty" positions. Here's what I came up with:

2B - the double play pivot is a real problem, similar to what happens to righty shortstops, but even worse in terms of how you have to twist your body to make the throw. I don't think it's a surprise that the lefties listed a playing 2B are mostly older guys, from times when the DP wasn't as important to the game.

SS - you actually gain an ADVANTAGE on the DP pivot, but you pay for it having to twist your body on balls hit into the hole. You will probably CATCH more balls in the hole, because your glove is on the right side, but then you have to stop your momentum and switch hands and twist your body, making your throw from there even slower than Jeter's.

3B - similar to, but easier than SS. You still have to twist to throw on balls hit to your right, but the ball gets to your glove sooner, so there's a better chance that you'll throw the runner out. Bunts are a problem because you have to twist after you have already spent time charging. You lose the DP pivot advantage because you don't make DP pivots. A lefty 3B would probably play well off the line, so he can get to more balls on the SS side. If he does play close to the line, he loses a lot of his advantage getting to balls on his right, because they will be foul balls.

C - you get an advantage on the snap throw to first base, balanced by righty hitters' bodies being in the way when you need to throw to third, maybe even second. A lefty catcher is probably viable. The others probably aren't.

Walt's list above is almost entirely composed of position players being sent out to pitch, probably in long extra-inning games, or for stunts. But bobm's list in #36 has Chris Short playing catcher. Say what? Short was a lefty pitcher. What the hell was he doing behind the plate? - Brock Hanke
   47. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 05, 2013 at 07:50 AM (#4339528)
Chris Short's stint at catcher was a clerical appearance only. Gene Mauch and Alvin Dark were playing mind games before a doubleheader, trying to keep the other one from knowing which pitcher would start which game, and so forth. Mauch sent out a deceptive lineup, and then pulled multiple players after Dark declared his pitcher.

According to the 1961 rules, Short & Co. were listed as being in the game, which wouldn't be acknowledged today. (Example: Hideki Matsui breaking his wrist in a game that, following his removal, didn't count as an appearance for him.)

Here's the box score.
   48. BDC Posted: January 05, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4339552)
SS - you actually gain an ADVANTAGE on the DP pivot

When the shortstop is the middle man on the DP, it's usually a 463, and while I can see a mild advantage of sorts to a LH shortstop, there's no great disadvantage to the RH either; he's not really "pivoting" on the play. 563 double plays are uncommon anyway, and the LH is not at an advantage there; he's either got to turn all the way around, or sort of pivot twice.

I couldn't remember the longtime Orioles BP catcher who threw lefty, and while aimlessly Googling found that one of the top results was a time I'd mentioned him in another BBTF thread. His name is Sam Snider. An interesting case, because as you say, Brock, there's no real logical or functional reason for all catchers to throw RH; it's more an unchallenged convention.
   49. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: January 05, 2013 at 10:22 AM (#4339557)
Orlando Cepeda
Vada Pinson
Pete Reiser
Chuck Klein
Joe Medwick
   50. micker17 Posted: January 05, 2013 at 10:41 AM (#4339563)
Don Mattingly:

1982-1995 1785G .307-222-1099-1007r .307/.358/.471 127OPS+ 9GG 1985 MVP

Kirby Puckett:

1984-1995 1783G .318-207-1085-1071r .318/.360/.477 124OPS+ 6GG WS1987, 1991


Puckett's a 1st ballot HOF'er and Mattingly is on the outside looking in?

If Mattingly played for any team other than the Yankees, he would have been voted in long ago.
   51. SoSH U at work Posted: January 05, 2013 at 10:55 AM (#4339566)

SS - you actually gain an ADVANTAGE on the DP pivot, but you pay for it having to twist your body on balls hit into the hole. You will probably CATCH more balls in the hole, because your glove is on the right side, but then you have to stop your momentum and switch hands and twist your body, making your throw from there even slower than Jeter's.


You missed one here Brock. The other problem lefty shortstops face is on balls that must be charged (similar to third basemen with bunts), because they can't quickly fire the ball to first across their body, but must either pivot or get nothing on the throw.
   52. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4339568)
Puckett's a 1st ballot HOF'er and Mattingly is on the outside looking in?


Puckett is a weak HOFer, but you're not dealing with the issue: one is a CF and one is a 1B.
   53. Lassus Posted: January 05, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4339570)
Puckett's a 1st ballot HOF'er and Mattingly is on the outside looking in?
If Mattingly played for any team other than the Yankees, he would have been voted in long ago.


This doesn't make any sense.

Coke to Ray.
   54. micker17 Posted: January 05, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4339573)
Ray that's just it, Puckett is not a "weak" HOF'er. He's a FIRST BALLOT HOF'er. And he deserves to be.

I agree with your second point, there is a difference between a GG centerfielder and a GG first baseman. That's why Puckett goes in on the 1st ballot, but Mattingly should have to wait a couple of years before being voted in. But by now, he should have been voted in.
   55. micker17 Posted: January 05, 2013 at 11:20 AM (#4339576)
Actually Lassus, it was Bill James in his 1987 Abstract who first raised the concept of the anti-NY bias in voting. He did so in the context of Roger Clemens beating Mattingly for the 1986 MVP, and contrasted that with Jim Rice beating Ron Guidry out of the 1978 MVP. Bill James felt that Mattingly and Guidry were the deserving candidates both times.

James also touched on McGee beating Gooden in 1985. Quick, name all the Mets that have won an MVP award in the last 50 years?

Some Yankees off the top of my head that may very well have won some awards in the last 20 years had they played elsewhere:

MVP: Jeter 1998, 1999, 2006, 2009
Soriano 2002
Posada 2003
Shefield 2004
Cano 2010

CY Young:
Pettitte 1996
Rivera 2004

My all time favorite is Hideki Matsui losing ROY in 2003 because, as the arguement went at the time, he should be ineligible because he was a veteran from Japan. Check out the winners from 2001 and 2002


   56. SoSH U at work Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4339608)
Bill James felt that Mattingly and Guidry were the deserving candidates both times.


Like the voters, Bill was half-right. Gator and the Rocket were the better choices.
   57. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4339625)
...you pay for it having to twist your body on balls hit into the hole...


Actually, you pay for it having to twist your body on virtually every 6-3 chance and all of the 6-4 chances that require actual throws rather than just flips. This will lead to a lot of IF 1Bs and FCs that could have been DPs.

The other problem with lefty throwing catchers is that the natural tail on throws to 2B takes the ball away from, rather than toward, the sliding runner. This makes the catch and tag more difficult for the infielder, even if the throw isn't particularly off the mark.
   58. Lassus Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4339626)
That's why Puckett goes in on the 1st ballot, but Mattingly should have to wait a couple of years before being voted in. But by now, he should have been voted in.

Whether Puckett is first-ballot or borderline is not relevant to whether Mattingly is deserving of a spot in the HOF. What's your argument for Mattingly as deserving in response to the arguments forwarded countless times here why he is not?
   59. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4339630)
The only argument for Mattingly is a pure peak one, and he just doesn't have quite enough pure peak. Had his career been shaped more like Puckett's (ie, relatively nondescript start followed by dramatic improvement and sudden end) then he might very well have gotten in even though he would not have been any more deserving.
   60. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4339641)
To get 3000 hits, Mattingly would have had to average 169 hits over the next five seasons, a number he hadn't achieved since age 31.

Even if you add his 5 best years to his total he "only" gets to 3150 or so.
   61. KT's Pot Arb Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:58 PM (#4339642)
Ray that's just it, Puckett is not a "weak" HOF'er. He's a FIRST BALLOT HOF'er. And he deserves to be.


LOL.
   62. Coot Veal and Cot Deal's cols=“100” rows=“20” Posted: January 05, 2013 at 12:59 PM (#4339644)
For single seasons, From 1901 to 2012, Throws LH, Played 1 games at 2B, sorted by most recent date


Rk Player Year Age Tm Pos
1 Don Mattingly 1983 22 NYY 397/4
2 Gonzalo Marquez 1973 27 TOT 3/4D9
3 Sam McDowell 1970 27 CLE *1/43


Cleveland second baseman Sam McDowell forces Washington's Frank Howard to end the top of the 8th at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. McDowell, who had been the Indians' starting pitcher, was facing runners at second and third with two out and the hard-hitting Howard at the plate. Manager Alvin Dark called for Dean Chance to relieve McDowell, but instead of removing Sudden Sam from the game, Dark had Chance take Graig Nettles' spot in the lineup, moved second sacker Eddie Leon over to play third, and McDowell left the mound to play second.

Chance intentionally walked Howard to load the bases, then got Rick Reichardt to ground one to Leon who tossed to McDowell at second to force Howard and end the inning. McDowell returned to the mound for the 9th and struck out the side (Aurelio Rodriguez, Paul Casanova, and Tim Cullen).

Wow.. you play a total of 1/3 of an inning at second in your entire 15-year career and you get the biggest man in the game sliding into you.
   63. CrosbyBird Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:07 PM (#4339669)
A lefty catcher is probably viable. The others probably aren't.

If the population were 90% left-handed, do you think baseball would have been designed so that players run the bases clockwise?
   64. SoSH U at work Posted: January 05, 2013 at 02:40 PM (#4339683)

If the population were 90% left-handed, do you think baseball would have been designed so that players run the bases clockwise?


If it weren't created that way, it likely would have changed over time to meet the better configuration.
   65. Squash Posted: January 05, 2013 at 03:53 PM (#4339708)
Puckett's also in because he to retire due to a medical issue - he was perceived to have been cheated out of years of his career when he could have added to his counting stats. Mattingly is perceived to have gotten hurt (rightly or wrongly, his back issues may have been just as much an inevitable, chronic condition as Koufax's elbow or Puckett's eyes), which you get no points for because it happens to a lot of players and they either recover or they don't. Plus Kirby was round and rolly polly and won two rings.
   66. SoSH U at work Posted: January 05, 2013 at 03:59 PM (#4339710)
and won two rings.


This really shouldn't get overlooked in the Puckett story. He was seen as the best player on two World Series teams. That carried a lot of weight in the Kirby Hall of Fame case.
   67. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 04:12 PM (#4339714)
Plus Kirby was round and rolly polly and won two rings.


He had a very sad fall from grace, with the career-ending glaucoma being the best of it. There was the massive weight gain, the publicising of the mistresses, the nasty divorce, the criminal charges of abuse and the like, and, finally - almost mercifully - the stroke that killed him.

I may be misremembering, but I think all of this had basically remained below the surface, for the most part - a kind of poorly kept secret - until the Deford article for SI blew the doors off.
   68. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 04:14 PM (#4339715)
That carried a lot of weight in the Kirby Hall of Fame case.


As did Kirby's weight itself, ironically. As Squash says in #65, Kirby was round and rolly and polly and yet could play baseball with the best of them - and that added to the adoration for him.
   69. Squash Posted: January 05, 2013 at 04:26 PM (#4339721)
I may be misremembering, but I think all of this had basically remained below the surface, for the most part - a kind of poorly kept secret - until the Deford article for SI blew the doors off.

I'm pretty sure you're right - Kirby's "second life" was still very much under the rug when he was voted in. He was beloved still at that point and given extra points for that - I doubt very much he would have been voted in on the first try if it was otherwise. If there's one thing the writers seem to hate above all it's when they have to rewrite a story they've already written, in a sense.
   70. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 04:34 PM (#4339727)
I imagine that the Puckett Secret was out in Minnesota, years before it became a national story. Anyone?
   71. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 05:28 PM (#4339751)
If the population were 90% left-handed, do you think baseball would have been designed so that players run the bases clockwise?


No, but only because "clockwise" would mean the opposite of what it does now.
   72. KT's Pot Arb Posted: January 05, 2013 at 05:50 PM (#4339760)
Puckett was no where near a HOF player, he only had 48 bWAR, not even top 250 all time, and wasn't likely to pile up a lot more. He got in because everyone thought he was a great guy, except the women he was assaulting and harassing.

In comparison, Ichiro, who left some peak seasons in Japan has played the same number of MLB seasons as Kirby, 12, and has 6 more WAR.

McGwire, whom many on the site think isn't a HOF player based on performance, put up 10 more WAR in a similar number of games, and even fewer PAs than Kirby.

Even if Kirby played another 6 years be was unlikely to even sniff the top 100 in WAR, so his case always depended on his faux nice guy image.
   73. bobm Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:00 PM (#4339771)
If the population were 90% left-handed, do you think baseball would have been designed so that players run the bases clockwise?

No, but only because "clockwise" would mean the opposite of what it does now.


At the risk of being pedantic, the direction "clockwise" probably derives less from the prevalence of right hand dominance and more from the use of sundials in the Northern Hemisphere.
   74. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:08 PM (#4339773)
This really shouldn't get overlooked in the Puckett story. He was seen as the best player on two World Series teams. That carried a lot of weight in the Kirby Hall of Fame case.

Well, there is a guy who hit cleanup on four World Series Winners, as well as two AL Pennant Winners, who doesn't seem to be judged by the same standard.
   75. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:10 PM (#4339774)
his case always depended on his faux nice guy image


His case was also heavily dependent on the "cut down in his prime" narrative. I remember a ton of articles about how he would have racked up another 1000 hits and 500 RBI easy.
   76. SoSH U at work Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:14 PM (#4339776)
Well, there is a guy who hit cleanup on four World Series Winners, as well as two AL Pennant Winners, who doesn't seem to be judged by the same standard.


No, the guy who is viewed as the best player on those four World Series teams will in fact be inducted to the Hall of Fame, as well as the guy seen as the best pitcher. So that particular standard will, in fact, hold up.

   77. bobm Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:16 PM (#4339779)
Http://research.sabr.org/journals/counterclockwise-sport

There is some evidence that suggests that, before the advent of professional baseball, games antecedent to baseball, such as rounders, were sometimes played with the bases run in a clockwisoe direction.  In William Clarke's The Boy's Own Book Extended, published in 1851, such a game is diagrammed with the batter placed on the catcher's right-forcing him to bat lefthanded. (This diagram is reproduced in Harold Peterson's The Man Who Invented Baseball. Mr. Peterson states that it was first published in an earlier edition of Clarke's book in 1829 in a description of "rounders," and in 1834 in The Book of Sports by Robin Carver in a description of "baseball." All of the other games with more than two bases described by Mr. Peterson utilize a counterclockwise direction in baserunning.)   

Why did counterclockwise, instead of clockwise, baserunning prevail? The answer probably lies in a combination of factors, some of which lie unfathomed within the enormously complex and largely unknown human brain. One fact is pointed out in Jack Fincher's Sinister People: by whatever definition one uses for "handedness" every human society appears to be predominately right-handed.   

Clockwise baserunning, therefore, would necessitate that most fielders would have to turn before they threw the ball (to a teammate or at the runner; the latter was often the case in games antecedent to baseball). As pointed out above, left-handed batting was called for.  Since a majority of the population would find it easier to throw without first turning, and to swing the bat right-handed, counterclockwise baserunning gradually prevailed.    

Now the environment of the game can influence skills that can be learned. Professional baseball evolved with batters standing on either side of the pitcher-catcher axis. It is conceivable that the batter could have been forced to remain stationary, and the catcher compelled to move to either side of the batter (depending on which way the latter swung) but that's not the way the game developed. The left-handed batter stands closer to first base, and this provides his team with an offensive advantage. He can both reach first more quickly, and block the catcher's view of the runner on first.
   78. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:30 PM (#4339787)
So in 1894 the pitchers were throwing underhand? Or bowling?
   79. micker17 Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4339788)
"Well, there is a guy who hit cleanup on four World Series Winners, as well as two AL Pennant Winners, who doesn't seem to be judged by the same standard."

"No, the guy who is viewed as the best player on those four World Series teams will in fact be inducted to the Hall of Fame, as well as the guy seen as the best pitcher. So that particular standard will, in fact, hold up."




Bernie Williams should be a HOF'er. As per paragraph #55, the anti-NY bias applies to HOF voting as well.
   80. Ray (RDP) Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:35 PM (#4339789)
This really shouldn't get overlooked in the Puckett story. He was seen as the best player on two World Series teams. That carried a lot of weight in the Kirby Hall of Fame case.


Well, there is a guy who hit cleanup on four World Series Winners, as well as two AL Pennant Winners, who doesn't seem to be judged by the same standard.


? That's a different standard. Best player vs. hitting cleanup.

Bernie may have hit cleanup on those teams (I'll take your word for it as my memory is hazy), but the standard offered was that Puckett was seen as the best player on those teams - not that Puckett hit cleanup.
   81. SoSH U at work Posted: January 05, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4339793)
Bernie Williams should be a HOF'er. As per paragraph #55, the anti-NY bias applies to HOF voting as well.


If nothing else, you're doing your damnednest to counteract it.

Bernie's a reasonable Hall candidate (though he, like Lofton, is going to get buried under the current avalanche of better candidates). But let's not overstate his bona fides. Even with the shortened career, Kirby outWARs him.
   82. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2013 at 08:32 PM (#4339814)
SS - you actually gain an ADVANTAGE on the DP pivot, but you pay for it having to twist your body on balls hit into the hole. You will probably CATCH more balls in the hole, because your glove is on the right side, but then you have to stop your momentum and switch hands and twist your body, making your throw from there even slower than Jeter's.

Having played several years of softball with a lefty SS, I've often felt it was the best spot for a lefty infielder. Brock summarizes it well but I'll add a couple. Somebody already mentioned the difficulty on balls that need to be charged. This is the biggest problem for SS and 3B but my impression is that SS have a lot fewer balls they need to charge than 3B ... and a lot of the balls a SS would need to charge can be handled by a 3B coming across. Also, from a strategy standpoint, teams would start bunting a lot on a lefty 3B but nobody bunts to SS. Still, if there are fewer 3B charge plays than I think, 3B is probably the most natural position.

But the play in the hole is more natural than Brock gives it credit for. First, for the righty thrower --

a) has to backhand the ball (tougher), sometimes in that very awkward "bent low on the run" position.
b) when fielding it on the run (left foot forward as fielding), he's got to step and stop momentum to fire.
c) has a major advantage when he can get set up to throw before the ball gets there.

For the lefty thrower --

a) has an easier time fielding the ball (right leg forward as fielding)
b) the fielding motion actually lends itself reasonably well to the throwing motion -- think of the 2B fielding a ball going to his left and pivoting to get the runner at second. It's a bit of an ole move. The SS spins (back to plate), plants the left leg, throws to second or first.
c) has a major disadvantage on balls he doesn't have to take on the run -- at best it's a bit like a tennis player running around a ball hit to his backhand.

Now rec league softball is maybe a step or two below MLB but this guy was the best SS I saw on the softball field. He had something of a gun for an arm which helped a lot. But in general everything looked pretty natural for him except for the occasional chopper/slow roller.

It's an obvious disadvantage and MLB is a game of small disadvantages adding up to a lot, so it's hard to imagine a scenario where it made sense. And somebody like Ichiro or the younger Gwynn would eat a lefty SS alive. But just imagine Jeter, even the b-r version of Jeter. B-R has Jeter as about 23 wins worse defensively than the average SS and he still has 70 WAR. He could lose another 20 wins on defense and still have a better career than Miguel Tejada or another 20 wins on top of that and still be above-average. If our theoretical lefty can hit like AROD or Pujols, we're still talking at least 40 runs per year below average defensively while still being an average SS. Now let's pretend our Jeter/AROD hitter has AROD's "natural" ability at SS. Can that guy keep himself above 40 runs a year below average? For that not to be true for the young AROD, the lefty disadvantage has to be in the range of 45-50 runs a year. It might be but jeepers that's a lot.

Now, of course we'd never see this because if a lefty has the range for SS, they have the range for CF where there's no lefty disadvantage and you're only giving up 5-10 runs of positional difference. Worst-case scenario you end up with Jeter's bat at LF/RF/1B where he'd be at least above-average for most of his career and you don't have to take the silly risk of a lefty-throwing SS.

C makes a reasonable amount of sense. Nobody's mentioned that the play on bunts, etc. along the 3B line is a bit more awkward for the lefty C but most of catching should theoretically work nearly as well for a lefty. Just get Jose Molina to teach him how to frame pitches and that's like 4 wins a year right there! :-)
   83. SoSH U at work Posted: January 05, 2013 at 08:42 PM (#4339816)
C makes a reasonable amount of sense. Nobody's mentioned that the play on bunts, etc. along the 3B line is a bit more awkward for the lefty C but most of catching should theoretically work nearly as well for a lefty.


It's easier for a lefty catcher to throw to first on a bunt down the third base line for the same reason it's more advantageous to be a lefthanded thrower at first base. It's probably a slight edge on a throw to second and mostly neutral to third.

And I think you're underestimating the number of balls the shortstop has to charge/overestimating the number of those plays third baseman can cut off.

   84. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 05, 2013 at 08:48 PM (#4339819)
I think you're underestimating the number of balls the shortstop has to charge/overestimating the number of plays those third baseman can cut off.


Which is perfectly understandable, since his analysis is based on rec league softball. The third baseman can cut off just about every single ball that the SS would have to charge. And you don't have to charge that many anyway, because every batter is dragging a 30 lb beer gut down to first base.
   85. Bug Selig Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:06 PM (#4339826)
I tried it with one of my Little League teams once - had a good fielder who happened to be a lefty. Sure enough, he made several good plays on balls down the line that a righty (at that level) would probably have whiffed altogether.


My first travel team (12U) had a lefty at second most of the time, and it was two different kids. At that age, pitchers are usually also your best position players, so you do a lot of defensive juggling as you change pitchers.

One of the kids was a slick fielder if not tremendous athlete. He started at 1B, but our 10th guy was a big lunk who was a 1B in the same sense that Adam Dunn is. When biggie played, the 1B shifted to 2B. At that age, there were enough runners on base that the 2B threw to second as often as he threw to first. The other lefty who spent time there was a small, athletic kid who was our best defensive OF and started the year in CF. Tried him at short once in semi-desperation on the "best athlete" theory and he proved to be a good infielder as well. He ended up spending roughly equal amounts of time in CF, 2B, and SS - depending on who was pitching.

Luckily, we had a hittin' bunch of fools:-)
   86. Famous Original Joe C Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:10 PM (#4339828)
Has anyone (Dan? AROM?) ever run a "rest of career if he didn't have glaucoma" projection for Puckett?
   87. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:40 PM (#4339836)
I think there's something else going on with Puckett, though. I know memories are unreliable, but my recollection is that it was widely reported that the beaning that Puckett took was responsible for his vision problems. I believe that this was "known" for quite a while before being disproved.

If a large chunk of the voters believed at the start that Puckett's career was cut short by a HBP to the head, it would not surprise me at all if they gave him extra credit over and above the "body gave out on him" argument. It's been 5 years since Puckett played, you get a ballot, you think "That guy was good and his career was cut short by the beaning. He would have been in easy if not for that." If you don't really think about it, you might not remember that it was glaucoma. In fact, it's possible that the guys from Golf Weekly (or whatever) don't even know that the medical condition was not caused by the beaning.
   88. willcarrolldoesnotsuk Posted: January 05, 2013 at 09:55 PM (#4339842)
It's good to see a good player with a basically reasonable take on his HOF merits. Sure, you can quibble that it would have been harder for him to get to 3000 hits than he might think, but his basic stance is "I was good for a little while, got hurt, stopped playing pretty young; maybe I would have been good enough to get in if I hadn't got hurt and hadn't stopped young."

I think that's hard to disagree with, and it's certainly far more reasonable than the opinions of some of the actual voters out there; even far more reasonable than the opinions of some of the actual voters out there about Don Mattingly specifically. And it's much better than the sort of crap that comes from people like Jack "I compare favorably to Bert Blyleven" Morris or Dale "Maybe I don't have the numbers but I should be in anyway because I've got the heart" Murphy.
   89. mathesond Posted: January 05, 2013 at 11:06 PM (#4339861)
I seem to remember Puckett turning down what would have been the highest AAV contract at the time (offered by Boston?) to take slightly less to stay with the Twins - the Twins contract he signed may even have given him the highest AAV to that point, but Rickey or Jose passed him that same offseason.

Still, turning down a couple of extra million (when that was a big deal) to stay with the original team could have boosted his 'character' in the eyes of the voters
   90. Walt Davis Posted: January 06, 2013 at 03:52 AM (#4339922)
It's easier for a lefty catcher to throw to first on a bunt down the third base line

To throw maybe but not to field the bunt. It is very awkward to field a ground ball that is heading away from you. This is part of why RH Cs circle the ball (back to 3B/2B) to field it which also puts them in position to throw. If a LH C circles the ball down the 3B line (to get his glove in front of it), he's got to circle it with his back to 1B, then spin to throw. I think this could be handled just fine the vast majority of the time but it is a disadvantage.

Which is perfectly understandable, since his analysis is based on rec league softball.

Well, no, my "analysis" (i.e. guess based on watching lots of baseball) of how often 3B vs SS charge the ball is based on baseball. But it is also the fact that, were this ever to happen in baseball, teams could easily bunt more often on a lefty 3B but nobody really bunts on the SS -- it's always been true that if you can get it past the pitcher, you'll be safe unless the 3B gets you. I don't think I've ever seen a SS make a play on a bunt.

But I could well be wrong. Maybe there are a lot more charge plays by a SS than I realize -- there's no particular reason to notice them when a righty is playing the position. And I did note that an Ichiro/Gwynn type who could control the bat, chop the ball, drive him into the hole would eat a lefty SS alive. Note, the bouncer over the mound seems OK for a lefty to handle to me although more awkwardly -- that's not a charge play, it's a head across play. Also note that there are a number of plays where the SS comes in on the ball but probably doesn't need to -- a lefty SS potentially could wait back although that would mean a closer play at first.

In general they are going to be screwed on almost any bang-bang play. But a 3B charging hard down the line or a SS having to charge straight ahead onto the grass are impossible plays for a lefty to make. That is, there would be a lot of plays where they'd be giving up a little bit -- in the way that Jeter is giving up a little bit only surely worse than that. But I can see how a player could be a good enough hitter to overcome those (in our little mind experiment). Then there are plays that are flat out impossible for them to make and, if there are enough of these, there's no way they could be a good enough hitter. I think you get more of those impossible plays at 3B.

Anyway, I bring up the softball only because this guy did not seem awkward at the position at all except on the impossible plays. I bring it up purely from the "mechanics" point of view, that, from my experience, it works a lot better than you'd think. Or at least a lot better than I thought it would. I'm not sure we have too many other folks who've seen an adult lefty SS. My main concern as the 1B was that the guy threw a screwball over to first, probably from all that necessary spinning and running around backhands.

I don't mean to undersell it. 40 points of OBP is a huge difference between players but it's just one less out per week. Jeter is apparently historically awful but even he averages only 10-15 runs per year below average which is something like 2 plays every 3 weeks. If a lefty SS misses 2 plays a week, he's gonna be about 40 runs below average and now he does have to be AROD or better with the bat. I can easily believe that a lefty SS would miss that many -- but that's still a guy who might make something like 19 out of every 20 plays an average SS would make.

I'm just saying I don't think we're talking Todd Hundley in LF or Mike Piazza at 1B levels of aesthetic horror for a lefty SS (except on charged balls), I think a good athlete would mainly be a guy who can't make the close plays. Basically I'm talking about somebody like Kenny Lofton or Willie Davis or maybe down to Vic Davalillo (looking at LH CF Rfield leaders ... although I don't recall if Davis or Davalillo had a SS arm). Kenny Lofton (combo of offense and defense) as AA maybe AAA quality SS is something I can buy -- y'know, maybe one of the 100, maybe 200 best SS on the planet at a given time. That would be not too shabby in my book. Slightly less useful than a borderline HoF CF but still impressive.

(And obviously he'd have to have played SS throughout his teens and minors)

   91. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 06, 2013 at 05:26 AM (#4339936)
4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 04, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4339261)

In the 6 seasons before he hurt his back, Mattingly hit .327/.372/.530 with a 147 OPS+, while also earning 5 (of 9) Gold Gloves. Only 29, he was a likely HoFer until the back went out.


This smooshes Mattingly's career through age 25, which was a HOF start, together with his much more modest age 26-28 seasons,*** where he was a 3 and 4 win player (4.9, 3.5, 3.9 bWAR). With a normal aging curve (no injury) starting with his age 29 season at 3.5 bWAR and dropping by half a win a year, Donnie gets nowhere near the Hall; in fact he does only a very little better in this hypothetical than he actually did.

People forget or ignore that Mattingly stopped putting up HOF seasons after the age of 25. Short of a very, very unusual resurgence, even without injury he wasn't going.

In the 6 seasons before he hurt his back, Mattingly hit .327/.372/.530 with a 147 OPS+, while also earning 5 (of 9) Gold Gloves. Only 29, he was a likely HoFer until the back went out.

Yup, Hall of Fame talent derailed by injury. Clearly not a HoF career.


Still not seeing it. 32 bWAR through age 28. That's great, if you're in your prime and putting up 6 and 7 win seasons with the promise of a few more, but the evidence says those days were gone. Mattingly was still a fine player, but putting up less impressive 146, 128, and 133 OPS+ seasons. 1990, his age 29 season, would have been the fourth year since he was putting up seasons with 156, 156, and 161 OPS+s. If we're talking about getting into the Hall, that makes all the difference.

He's a different enough player after age 25 (you can slice it a little differently and decide it was after age 26) that I wonder if he hadn't been playing in more pain than he'd been letting on.

-----------

It's interesting to look at what Mattingly would have needed to do after age 28 to get to the Hall. His peak was probably good enough, so let's say it was. Say also that 60 bWAR would earn him serious consideration, and 65 bWAR would cinch election.

He had 32 bWAR after his age 28 season. He needed 33 more wins to close the deal. Assuming a normal aging curve, he would have had

age 29-35: 3.5, 3, 2.5, 2, 1.5, 1. 0.5 = 14 wins. Not close.
age 29-36: 4, 3.5, 3, 2.5, 2, 1.5, 1. 0.5 = 18 wins. Still not close.

Those two examples show us how tough it can be to get in as a compiler when you've already dropped from your peak to a 4 win player while still in your prime.

Mattingly needed--as one route to the Hall--to go back to being a 5 win player (unusual, after a three year drop off), and gradually decline from there through his age 38 season:

age 29-38: 5, 4,5, 4, 3.5, 3, 2.5, 2, 1.5, 1. 0.5 = 27.5 wins.

32 bWAR (through age 28, actual) + 27.5 bWAR (age 29-38, hypothetical) = 59.5 bWAR

It's hardly clear he'd go in, even with those numbers. Even being able to stay on the field as a solid or better regular through 35, and giving some value in his late 30s, it's an iffy case. Hard to say how that borderline WAR would translate into numbers HOF voters tend to use, but it doesn't look like a clear cut case unless Mattingly gets to 3,000 hits.

In short, Mattingly needed to either revert entirely in 1990 to the player he had been through 1986, or he was going to need an awfully long plateau at his established level as of 1989. Five more years as a 4 win player, then another five years as an average regular, at 2 wins a year. That gets him to the low 60s.

It's unlikely that even a healthy Mattingly goes into the Hall. I'm also not seeing why so many people assume that his entry would have been clear cut, when in 1989 he was no longer the player he'd been (and given that it's often said that starting in 1990 he was no longer the HOF player he'd been).


***Wikipedia reminded me that Mattingly may have been injured prior to the year YC claimed: "In June 1987, it was reported that Mattingly injured his back during some clubhouse horseplay with pitcher Bob Shirley though both denied this." Still, there's nothing in Mattingly's monthly splits in 1987 that suggests he was hurt in June. Big peak in June and July, all the other months about the same, say c. .850 OPS.

------------------

Puckett was no where near a HOF player, he only had 48 bWAR, not even top 250 all time, and wasn't likely to pile up a lot more. He got in because everyone thought he was a great guy, except the women he was assaulting and harassing.


There's no mention in Wikipedia that he was found guilty of assaulting and harassing women. (That's as far as I've looked into it.( Do you know something to the contrary?

   92. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: January 06, 2013 at 05:45 AM (#4339937)
My last hypothetical in #91 has Mattingly playing another 10 seasons, and needing another 1700 hits starting with his age 29 season. The last two of those ten seasons were probably part time--say 85 hits apiece. That leaves 8 seasons to get 1530 hits. He picked up 191 hits in 1989, playing 158 games, and batting .303. Obviously if he does that 8 more times (which, with two partial seasons, gets him to 3000 hits) his bWAR will increase over the hypothetical, but if instead we tailor his hits to the bWAR I proposed (around 60), Mattingly doesn't get past 2500 hits for his career.
   93. SoSH U at work Posted: January 06, 2013 at 09:30 AM (#4339951)

To throw maybe but not to field the bunt. It is very awkward to field a ground ball that is heading away from you. This is part of why RH Cs circle the ball (back to 3B/2B) to field it which also puts them in position to throw. If a LH C circles the ball down the 3B line (to get his glove in front of it), he's got to circle it with his back to 1B, then spin to throw. I think this could be handled just fine the vast majority of the time but it is a disadvantage.


How often does a catcher have to use his glove to field a bunt? If the bunt is still moving at a clip fast enough to require the use of the glove, it's going to be too far away from the catcher for him to make the play anyway.

The catcher often circles the ball, not to field it better, but because he would have to position himself that way to throw the ball anyway. The lefty catcher is not going to circle himself around a bunt just so he can uncircle for the throw. He's going to charge it, pick it up with his bare hand and fire it to first, in less time than it takes the righty catcher to execute the same maneuver.

   94. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 06, 2013 at 09:50 AM (#4339952)
There's no mention in Wikipedia that he was found guilty of assaulting and harassing women.
Scroll down to "Retirement, accolades, and controversy" and follow the links.
   95. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 06, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4339954)
Which is perfectly understandable, since his analysis is based on rec league softball.

Well, no, my "analysis" (i.e. guess based on watching lots of baseball) of how often 3B vs SS charge the ball is based on baseball. But it is also the fact that, were this ever to happen in baseball, teams could easily bunt more often on a lefty 3B but nobody really bunts on the SS -- it's always been true that if you can get it past the pitcher, you'll be safe unless the 3B gets you. I don't think I've ever seen a SS make a play on a bunt.


A) It's not just about bunts. There are plenty of slow rollers to SS.

B) The rec league softball thing was a joke. Sheesh.
   96. Poulanc Posted: January 06, 2013 at 10:08 AM (#4339955)
I imagine that the Puckett Secret was out in Minnesota, years before it became a national story. Anyone?


Not that I remember.

Also, Puckett was so adored by the media that Bob Costas gave his son the middle name "Kirby".
   97. micker17 Posted: January 06, 2013 at 10:40 AM (#4339957)
#91 Jack Carter:

Oy, you are taking this conversation into a direction of a tangential argument that I wanted to travel at a different time. WAR is the begining of the conversation, not the end.

The reason I feel this way is that the defensive numbers awarded by WAR are so absurd across the spectrum that the statistic is compromised in it's entirety. I have read many other opinions on this board and know that I am hardly alone in this belief.

Mattingly gets -6.8 defensive points for his career, with negative rankings in 12 of 14 seasons, and with 0.1 in the other 2 seasons? Really? Do you want to stand by this?

I know that 375lb Carlos Lee is thrilled to be the highest ranked WAR defensive player in the NL in 2011, but I just can't give WAR any credibility because its defensive numbers defy common sense as calculated at this time. Maybe at some point in the future this flaw will be fixed. Maybe not.

Win shares also has it's flaws, and as I review the results I often disagree, but they don't offend my senses. Win shares is a vastly more useful ranking statistic.

If I need to use one number (which I don't) for offense I use OPS+. For defense, I use anecdotal evidence, GG voting, players opinions, my eyes, and common sense.
   98. Greg K Posted: January 06, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4339990)
He had a very sad fall from grace, with the career-ending glaucoma being the best of it. There was the massive weight gain, the publicising of the mistresses, the nasty divorce, the criminal charges of abuse and the like, and, finally - almost mercifully - the stroke that killed him.

Interestingly enough from the Bill James 1988 Abstract:

"Young players are often bathed in a transcendant innocence which makes them attractive. Then they start doing commercials, trading on that attraction, and we know it's just a matter of time until they are caught trying to capture some chemicals or are hit with a paternity suit and start fighting with the club over money...Part of the charm of Kirby iss that his skin of innocence seems thicker than usual, and seems to be wearing off more slowly"

Also fun are the 1984 Shortstop comments:

On Dickie Thon, rated #2 in MLB:

"Why do I have this feeling that some tragedy is waiting for him Things seem too perfect, too good, as if someone was setting him up for something..."
   99. Squash Posted: January 06, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4340022)
I seem to remember Puckett turning down what would have been the highest AAV contract at the time (offered by Boston?) to take slightly less to stay with the Twins - the Twins contract he signed may even have given him the highest AAV to that point, but Rickey or Jose passed him that same offseason.

As I recall without checking, there was a race to see who would be the first $3 million a year player (they were calling it 3m/year, but it was actually 3m AAV, as none of these guys hit 3m in the first year of their contracts). Kirby hit it first with a 3/9m, but Rickey later in the offseason got 4/12m and was said to have passed him because his deal was longer and he was getting bigger single year numbers on the back end.
   100. puck Posted: January 06, 2013 at 01:07 PM (#4340025)
b) the fielding motion actually lends itself reasonably well to the throwing motion -- think of the 2B fielding a ball going to his left and pivoting to get the runner at second. It's a bit of an ole move. The SS spins (back to plate), plants the left leg, throws to second or first.

Does this spin not seem like a significant disadvantage? Both righties and lefties have their momentum taking them away from the throw, and given how deep shortstops play, it's a long throw, a lot longer than the equivalent throw in softball. I assume second basemen get away with it because they're often throwing to 2nd.
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