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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Omar Vizquel Deserves First-Ballot Induction to HOF After Career as Best Defensive Infielder Ever

Hey, I felt the same way about Dave & The Detomics and the jackassic Rock and Roll HOF…but that’s just me.

Why does this number matter? Because all but two retired men (Pete Rose, Rafael Palmeiro) ahead of Vizquel are currently in the Hall of Fame. Craig Biggio and Derek Jeter are also ahead of him, but they will both be elected to the Hall in their first opportunities. And whenever Vizquel retires, he should be too.

His career fielding percentage is .985, the second-highest ever by a shortstop. The only man ahead of Vizquel is current Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

Most would associate the greatest fielding shortstop to be Ozzie Smith. His career fielding percentage is seven points below Vizquel’s, in Smith’s 24 big-league seasons, he only committed a single-digit number of errors four times. Vizquel has done that 13 times.

Outside of his 11 Gold Gloves—he won two more with the Giants in 2005 and 2006—Vizquel has showcased his speed on the basepaths. He’s swiped 404 bases in his career, and while that number only gets him to No. 70 on that career-list, it’s been his utility and overall effectiveness that should make him a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

...He’s been a class act throughout his career, a big plus when it comes time for the BBWAA to vote. Vizquel has stayed away from the steriod era scandals, another big perk when it becomes his first time on the ballot. If Vizquel calls it quits after 2012, or stays in the big leagues until he reaches 3,000 hits, he should be in the Hall of Fame on his first try.

Repoz Posted: September 22, 2012 at 10:27 PM | 75 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 22, 2012 at 10:51 PM (#4243367)
In his prime, he was the best defensive shortstop in the game. If it hadn't been for the likes of Alex Rodriguez (02-03) and Derek Jeter (04-06), he could have won another two or three Gold Gloves, easily surpassing "The Wizard," who has 12.

This guy cashed a check after turning this article in. There is no justice.
   2. akrasian Posted: September 22, 2012 at 10:58 PM (#4243370)
I'll take his overrated stat (Omar has a slightly better career fielding percentage than Ozzie) and raise it - Ozzie's career RF/9 is 5.22. Omar has never had a shortstop season as high as that - and in fact Ozzie averaged over half a successful play per 9 innings more than Omar.

Omar may deserve to make the Hall, but not for the reasons given.
   3. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:07 PM (#4243372)
nothing to see here folks--move along
   4. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:08 PM (#4243373)
I honestly can't come up with a good reason why a Hall of Fame that includes Jim Rice and Jack Morris shouldn't include Omar Vizquel, too.
   5. Downtown Bookie Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:44 PM (#4243385)
I honestly can't come up with a good reason why a Hall of Fame that includes Jim Rice and Jack Morris shouldn't include Omar Vizquel, too.


Agree.

But I also can't come up with a good reason why a Hall of Fame that includes Jim Rice and Jack Morris shouldn't include Jerry Koosman, too.

DB
   6. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 22, 2012 at 11:45 PM (#4243386)
And Jay Bell.
   7. Bhaakon Posted: September 23, 2012 at 12:05 AM (#4243394)

I honestly can't come up with a good reason why a Hall of Fame that includes Jim Rice and Jack Morris shouldn't include Omar Vizquel, too.


Nobody feared Omar, and he wasn't much of a winner in the postseason, either.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: September 23, 2012 at 02:14 AM (#4243420)
I honestly can't come up with a good reason why a Hall of Fame that includes Jim Rice and Jack Morris shouldn't include Omar Vizquel, too.

Well, Rice won an MVP. And Vizquel did stupid stuff like putting in a strong effort to field grounders even when his team was ahead by 6 runs rather than fielding to the score.

easily surpassing "The Wizard," who has 12.

Ozzie has 13.
   9. bads85 Posted: September 23, 2012 at 02:22 AM (#4243422)
Nobody feared Omar, and he wasn't much of a winner in the postseason, either.


People feared him so much that Davey Johnson choked away an ALCS on Omar's missed suicide squeeze.
   10. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 23, 2012 at 04:05 AM (#4243436)
I thought Morris was not in the HOF. Is he?
   11. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: September 23, 2012 at 05:19 AM (#4243444)
I thought Morris was not in the HOF. Is he?

Jack Morris does not sleep. He waits.
   12. BDC Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:33 AM (#4243489)
This is weird: there are really only two closely comparable careers ever (Aparicio and Maranville), and all three players have the same career OPS+ (82).

All three played on two pennant winners apiece, but the salient difference is that Maranville and Aparicio were often considered crucial to their teams' success. "Award Shares" are a blunt instrument, but Aparicio has 1.24 and Maranville 2.13. Vizquel has 0.01, thanks to what looks like one voter putting him way down one ballot in one year.

Who knows if Aparicio and Maranville really were that important to winning. Voters may well have overrated them. But it's hard to claim that voters underrated Vizquel. When his teams went to the Series, they featured Belle, Lofton, Hershiser, Ramirez, Thome, and a cast of thousands. He was always about the fifth-biggest star at best, on teams that will end up having one prime HOFer (Thome).
   13. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:37 AM (#4243493)
I honestly can't come up with a good reason why a Hall of Fame that includes Jim Rice and Jack Morris shouldn't include Omar Vizquel, too.


How about "three wrongs don't make two rights"?
   14. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:47 AM (#4243500)
Morris is going in next year. Denial is only going to increase your pain.
   15. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:50 AM (#4243503)
Morris is going in next year. Denial is only going to increase your pain.

Vizquel fielded to the score
   16. Michael A. Humphreys Posted: September 23, 2012 at 03:50 PM (#4243695)
As explained in great detail in Wizardry: Baseball's All-Time Greatest Fielders Revealed (Oxford University Press 2011), Omar Vizquel was at best a solid shortstop with a couple of genuine Gold Glove seasons. The book estimates he saved only about +60 runs at shortstop. A subsequent WOWY analysis used in a presentation at this years' SABR conference confirmed that estimate. With proper evaluation of his fielding, he was never close to being an MVP-quality player and barely a borderline All-Star quality player for a couple of years. I predict he will get in, but only because the writers still don't consider sabermetric evaluations of players, thirty years after Pete Palmer and Bill James tried to put them on the right path.
   17. DL from MN Posted: September 23, 2012 at 04:05 PM (#4243705)
If they put Vizquel and Morris in and leave Trammell out I'm going to be pissy.
   18. bjhanke Posted: September 23, 2012 at 05:02 PM (#4243737)
The F***ing Article is one of the worst I've ever read.

1) You want to compare fielding percentages without making any time adjustments, even though anyone can see that F% has risen steadily over time?

2) You want to compare two shortstop defenses using only F% as your criteria, with a casual mention of Gold Gloves, as if that's been reliable at shortstop recently?

3) In a desperate effort to find some offensive value in Vizquel, you cite only stolen bases?

4) You play the steroid card, since Omar has never been caught, even though his very long career is one of the big symptoms that steroid puritans use as a weapon.

On top of all that, I checked Win Shares (the book), which gives defensive grades to players. Since Win Shares is an old book, it only contains the first several years of Omar's career - the first several, which means, almost certainly, the best several. Defense is, after all, a young man's game. Omar's grade as a young shortstop was B-. That's a terrible grade for an early career for a glove specialist. It's close to Ernie Banks and Arky Vaughn, who were not glove specialists, but were apparently a bit better than Omar anyway, and, of course, outhit him by tons. People like Ozzie Smith, Honus Wagner, Marty Marion, and Rabbit Maranville have grades, for their entire careers, of A or A+. Omar Vizquel has an ordinary ability at shortstop, but not much more.

In short, Omar Vizquel has no business in the Hall, much less on the first ballot. And the author of this article should not be allowed to write about baseball any more. He apparently knows approximately nothing. - Brock Hanke
   19. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 23, 2012 at 05:08 PM (#4243744)
Geez, Brock, tell us how you really feel.
   20. AJMcCringleberry Posted: September 23, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4243761)
Because all but two retired men (Pete Rose, Rafael Palmeiro) ahead of Vizquel are currently in the Hall of Fame. Craig Biggio and Derek Jeter are also ahead of him, but they will both be elected to the Hall in their first opportunities.

In which category is Barry Bonds? Using dumb arguments is one thing. Getting simple facts wrong is another.
   21. The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4243848)
I eagerly await Placido Polanco's first-ballot HOF induction, as the greatest defensive second baseman and greatest defensive third baseman in MLB history.
   22. something like a train wreck Posted: September 23, 2012 at 08:46 PM (#4243851)
The thought of Omar Vizquel being in the HoF makes my head explode. Far more than Rice or Morris or whomever. Whatever their sabermetric merits, Rice and Morris were thought of as great players. No one thought Vizquel was a great player. Ever. Was he ever one of the 5 best shortstops? Aparacio is a comp, but Aparacio was better and was historically notable --the first of a type. And he was a very questionable pick.

   23. Booey Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:34 PM (#4243875)
Omar finished 16th in the MVP vote in 1999, and never received any votes in any other season. He made 2 all star games. He was never at any point in his career considered a superstar. These "Vizquel for the Hall!" articles are basically coming out of thin air.

His argument (or lack thereof) is similar to Johnny Damon's.
   24. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 09:59 PM (#4243887)
Who is considered the best defensive outfielder of all time? Dwayne Murphy? Willie Mays? Devon White?
   25. JJ1986 Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:14 PM (#4243894)
Who is considered the best defensive outfielder of all time? Dwayne Murphy? Willie Mays? Devon White?


Mike Trout
   26. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:26 PM (#4243897)
Jim Edmonds (highlight division only)
   27. GregD Posted: September 23, 2012 at 10:48 PM (#4243905)
I eagerly await Placido Polanco's first-ballot HOF induction, as the greatest defensive second baseman and greatest defensive third baseman in MLB history.
Actually they will amend the rules so they inaugurate him twice, in back to back years, once for each position.

The next year they will inaugurate Jesse Barfield for best outfield arm and Glenn Hubbard for best job of setting up as the cutoff man and Phil Nevin for best job fielding bunts.
   28. JJ1986 Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:19 PM (#4243919)
Phil Nevin for best job fielding bunts


Poor Keith can't even get in that way.
   29. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 23, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4243924)
Who is considered the best defensive outfielder of all time? Dwayne Murphy? Willie Mays? Devon White?

Narratively speaking, Curt Flood is usually on the short list. Tris Speaker also has a pretty sterling reputation.
   30. with Glavinesque control and Madduxian poise Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:02 AM (#4243948)
I am obliged at this point to mention Andruw Jones, Braves years, particularly the young Andruw.
   31.   Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:29 AM (#4243949)
The next year they will inaugurate Jesse Barfield for best outfield arm and Glenn Hubbard for best job of setting up as the cutoff man and Phil Nevin for best job fielding bunts.


And Mariano Rivera for being the best 1-inning relief-pitcher

*ducks* :)
   32. bjhanke Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:57 AM (#4243958)
RE: Retro (#24): It's very hard to tell who the best defensive outfielder ever was. The discussion usually comes down to Speaker, Mays and Flood, although the DiMaggios, Lloyd Waner and Terry Moore have supporters. I tend to drop the two Cardinals, Moore and Flood, because their careers were shortish, and we don't get their entire decline phases. Most math systems have Flood ranked at or very very near the top, but his grade would drop at least a little if he had played five more years (a reasonable estimate). The same thing with Joe D. Great CF, but retired before he had his full decline phase. The other DiMaggios seem to drop out of the discussion somewhere along the line, possibly because they were not better than Terry Moore, who is contemporary, making the comparisons easier than usual. Andruw Jones drives me nuts to try to analyze. What the hell happened to him in mid-career? He looked like a true contender for several years, and then just stopped hitting and fielding, for no good reason that I know of (I'd be delighted to find out that there was an injury or illness or anything that makes sense involved, but I haven't seen such a claim yet). Lloyd Waner usually drops out because his numbers aren't quite as good as Mays', Speaker's and Flood's. His closest contemporary contender is Speaker, and the numbers generally say that he's just not quite as good as Speaker was. I got to see Mays, Flood and Edmonds play, and Jim, while outstanding, didn't knock my socks off like Willie and Curt did.

So, I'd say that it really does come down to Speaker and Mays, unless your system sees so much value in Flood's existing career that no reasonable 5-year decline would drag him down to earth. I have no way of comparing Speaker, in the dead ball era, to Mays, in the 50s and 60s, that generates any real separation between the two. Besides, there is that large factor of time period. Speaker was famous for playing very shallow and running things down that went over his head. I don't know that I'd want to try that in any of those 1960s giant Astroturf parks, like Busch Stadium and Three Rivers, where there is a lot of territory in back of a shallow CF. So, if you made me vote for just one, I'd probably pick Willie, unless you're talking peaks and primes only, in which case Flood is probably the man, depending on just how many Jones years you want to consider in your definition of "prime" and "peak." I have no adequate way to deal with 19th-century players or Negro Leaguers. The early game had a very high rate of change in ballparks, rules and equipment, so even trying to figure out who was the best over a three-year period is very hard. One guy is better under one set of rules; another guy is better two years later, because the rules changed or there were better gloves or something. I also have found no reputation consensus among 19-century observers. You would think that if the period had produced a Speaker or Mays, he have a giant rep. The best rep is probably for Jimmy McAleer (sp?). Negro leaguers have no statistical record that has enough detail to be reliable for CF defense, and reputation is split between at least Oscar Charleston and Cool Papa Bell.

That's the best I can do. - Brock
   33. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 24, 2012 at 06:49 AM (#4243973)
Was Flood really better than Paul Blair? Darin Erstad seemed just as good as Devon White to me. Garry Maddox, Willie Wilson and Mike Cameron also had sterling reputations. So did Max Carey. How does anyone choose between all these people?
   34. bjhanke Posted: September 24, 2012 at 08:00 AM (#4243994)
Ivan - You are certainly right about the point you're making - it's just plain impossibly hard to compare all the great glove center fielders in history. However, I got to see Flood and Blair play their entire careers, and got to see the middle and decline phases of Willie Mays (I started going to baseball games in 1954). Blair was certainly great, but Flood and Mays - wow. You almost have to have seen them to get the full impact. Flood was so spectacular that he actually made the cover of Time magazine (possibly the greatest force in media at the time) for a catch he made in Wrigley Field. Some of the visual impact is the wonderful ivy behind Curt, but the real impact is how high he has jumped (not just straight up, but up and towards the ball, which is still in front of him) and how far he has reached to get that baseball. Google it up, if you want to see. It ranks with Mays, 1954, in visual impact. The best CF I saw after Flood (except for the very young Andruw Jones) was Darren Lewis. Lewis couldn't keep a regular job, because he couldn't hit, but he was in the bigs for over a decade because he was SO good with the glove. You can't really count him in the discussion because he played so few games, but that guy could run them down with anyone.

BTW, after I wrote the above post, I did a quick check for 1800s CFs, because McAleer was from the 1890s, and there might be contenders from earlier. There are really, only two earlier candidates who combine A+ math grades and first-rate reputations. One is George Gore, the other is Curt Welch (of the $10,000 slide). If you're trying, for some reason, to figure out gloves in the 19th century, those two and McAleer are your prime suspects. Paul Hines might come up, too. He has a lower math grade (A-), but he also played longer than Gore and Welch, so there's more decline phase in there. Hines did have a top glove rep. One of those three is almost certainly the best CF before McAleer. - Brock
   35. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: September 24, 2012 at 09:04 AM (#4244009)
in Smith’s 24 big-league seasons, he only committed a single-digit number of errors four times. Vizquel has done that 13 times.



Yeah, well, I've never made a SINGLE error in the bigs. Maybe I should be the first-balloter.
   36. BDC Posted: September 24, 2012 at 09:06 AM (#4244010)
In terms of sheer number of defensive runs to his credit, Michael Humphreys (#16 above) in Wizardry has Roberto Clemente ahead of any other outfielder. He has Speaker as the CF with the most runs to his credit, but Jones above Speaker thanks to timelining and other adjustments. One imagines that "best outfielder" naturally reduces to "best centerfielder," but Clemente has a case for being so far above average in RF that he should at least be mentioned.

The best CF I ever saw is a guy I still see every time I go to the Ballpark, Rangers first-base coach Gary Pettis. He had miraculous range. I don't think his arm was truly superior, though, and while we mostly marvel at center fielders for their range, a good arm is part of the package. Humphreys ranks Pettis fifth all-time, behind Jones, Mays, Speaker, and Blair.
   37. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 09:10 AM (#4244011)
speaking of CFers, has anyone ever figured out the reason for Ashburn's ungodly PO totals in the early 50s? James brought this up in an early abstract (or maybe the first Historical), and he had no explanation. My god, he was over 500 several times and the highest Mays ever reached was 445.
   38. BDC Posted: September 24, 2012 at 09:16 AM (#4244014)
has anyone ever figured out the reason for Ashburn's ungodly PO totals

Staff that gave up a lot of fly balls, and Ashburn taking lots of discretionary chances, would be the best guess. It doesn't seem likely that there could be other explanations. Ashburn was fast, and a very good fielder, but as you say, nobody's that much faster and better than Willie Mays. James addresses the question in the Win Shares book in more detail as part of the "Hamner/Ashburn" dilemma. Granny Hamner, conversely, had a strong fielding reputation at shortstop but made a miserably low number of plays. The baseball was just going elsewhere.

Edit: Though now that I look at Humphreys's Wizardry, it seems that Ashburn probably wasn't a "ball hog" who took chances away from other outfielders. Humphreys puts Ashburn's huge putout totals squarely on the tendency of his pitching staff to yield fly balls. Incidentally, he has Ashburn as #6 all-time, behind Pettis.
   39. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4244028)

The best CF I ever saw is a guy I still see every time I go to the Ballpark, Rangers first-base coach Gary Pettis. He had miraculous range. I don't think his arm was truly superior, though, and while we mostly marvel at center fielders for their range, a good arm is part of the package. Humphreys ranks Pettis fifth all-time, behind Jones, Mays, Speaker, and Blair.


When I was a kid I thought Pettis and Devon White were incredible.
   40. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:04 AM (#4244030)
I remember waning Gary Pettis play center field and thinking he was amazing. Then it turned out it was actually his younger brother.
   41. zack Posted: September 24, 2012 at 10:39 AM (#4244056)
Gary Maddox deserves credit for the best description.

I thought Dom was considered a better fielder than Joe? Or was that just delusional Sox fans?

I've only been seriously watching baseball since '98, I think the best long-career CF I've seen in that time is Cameron. Other guys might pick it better but they didn't last or couldn't hit enough to play full-time, like Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez.
   42. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: September 24, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4244074)
Just to pile on, Ozzie Smith led the league in fielding percentage 8 times, Vizquel did it 6 times. They both finished in the top four 16 times. So even if you think fielding percentage is the end-all-be-all of statistics, you can't really argue that Vizquel was obviously better than Ozzie without completely ignoring league context.
   43. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: September 24, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4244086)
Glad to hear the Pettis love. Growing up in the 80s, I wanted to be a CFer, and Pettis was one of the guys I marveled at.

I thought the 1950s Phillies staff was not only a flyball staff but low strikeout, giving Ashburn a huge number of opportunities.

   44. Chris Fluit Posted: September 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4244130)
I thought Dom was considered a better fielder than Joe? Or was that just delusional Sox fans?


That's not just Sox fans. It's probably everybody except Yankee fans.
   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 12:34 PM (#4244150)

That's not just Sox fans. It's probably everybody except Yankee fans.


I always heard Dom was viewed as better, but Joe's reputation is much better than the BRef stats give him credit for.

By reputation, you'd expect Joe to be +10-15 rField, and Dom to be +15-20.
   46. GregD Posted: September 24, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4244158)
Didn't some old-timers say Vince was actually the great fielder in the family?
   47. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4244162)
Didn't some old-timers say Vince was actually the great fielder in the family?

Charles Einstein said that as a throwaway line in Willie's Time
   48. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 24, 2012 at 12:43 PM (#4244163)
If you guys can pick the best out of Pettis, White, Dw. Murphy, Andruw Jones, Mike Cameron, etc. you have better eyes than I do. I think I'm pretty good at lumping guys into a class--great, good, bad, terrible--but I can't pretend to really split hairs between players within each class.

   49. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4244214)
I thought the 1950s Phillies staff was not only a flyball staff but low strikeout, giving Ashburn a huge number of opportunities.

It was also a field with a huge CF (447'), so a fleet CF might get extras that way too. I had his baseball card but never saw him play.
   50. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:16 PM (#4244216)
I eagerly await Placido Polanco's first-ballot HOF induction, as the greatest defensive second baseman and greatest defensive third baseman in MLB history.


He is also the career leader in awesome name
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:46 PM (#4244256)
He is also the career leader in awesome name

Zoilo Versalles laughs at you.
   52. BDC Posted: September 24, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4244257)
Didn't some old-timers say Vince was actually the great fielder in the family?

And Zeppo and Gummo DiMaggio were supposed to be even better than Vince.
   53. Anonymous Observer Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4244430)
Zoilo Versalles laughs at you.


Where does Urban Shocker rate?
   54. Good cripple hitter Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4244441)
Didn't some old-timers say Vince was actually the great fielder in the family?


In the NBJHBA, James quotes Vince as saying he could play rings around Joe in center and Bill Deane as saying "How can he be the greatest center fielder of all time if he's the third best center fielder in his family?"

In Dom's writer-up, Curt Gowdy claims Dom was as good a runner, thrower, and fielder as Joe, and Al Hirschberg wrote "He was, in the opinion of many observers, the best center fielder in baseball, even better than Joe."

Bill has Dom ahead of Joe, and Joe ahead of Vince, but he summarizes it by saying that they all were quite exceptional and worthy of Gold Gloves in the majority of the seasons that they played.
   55. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:47 PM (#4244448)
Where does Urban Shocker rate?

Pretty high. That '27 Yankees pitching staff was loaded with great names: Waite Hoyt, Wilcy Moore, Dutch Ruether, and the aforementioned Urban Shocker.
   56. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4244449)
Rusty Kuntz or GTFO.
   57. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:50 PM (#4244454)
When it comes to awesome names, Carlton Molesworth had an amazing peak but just didn't last long enough.
   58. SoSH U at work Posted: September 24, 2012 at 03:56 PM (#4244464)
In the NBJHBA, James quotes Vince as saying he could play rings around Joe in center and Bill Deane as saying "How can he be the greatest center fielder of all time if he's the third best center fielder in his family?"

In Dom's writer-up, Curt Gowdy claims Dom was as good a runner, thrower, and fielder as Joe, and Al Hirschberg wrote "He was, in the opinion of many observers, the best center fielder in baseball, even better than Joe."


On top of all that, one of the first songs I ever learned was this little gem:

Who hits the ball and makes it go?
Dominic DiMaggio.
Who runs the bases fast, not slow?
Dominic DiMaggio.
Who's better than his brother Joe?
Dominic DiMaggio.
But when it comes to gettin' dough,
they give it all to brother Joe."

There might have been a little delusional Red Sox fandom involved in its creation.

Where does Urban Shocker rate?


Pretty damn high. He's the inspiration for my future Nu-Metal band, Suburban Shocker. I'm thinking we'll cover the Dimaggio song.
   59. PreservedFish Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:12 PM (#4244487)
I'm always curious about the guys that didn't hit enough to start but might have won many GGs otherwise. As a Mets fan I've watched two such ridiculously good fielders - Endy Chavez and Tsuyoshi Shinjo. With smaller and less consistent samples it's tough to judge how they might have stacked up to the guys winning the award during their time - Cameron, Beltran etc. They also both played in the corners a lot because they were bench guys. I wonder how many similar players there are in baseball history, and then how many there are that couldn't even make the majors.
   60. Ron J2 Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:15 PM (#4244496)
#56 Absolutely hilarious the way announcers pronounced his name. Kooooooooooooooooooooooonts. Just to be on the safe side.
   61. dr. scott Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:31 PM (#4244518)
Shinjo was pretty bad his last year in SF... Mays was very impressed his first year, but everyone stopped talking about him pretty quickly... not sure what happened.
   62. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:38 PM (#4244532)
I wonder how many similar players there are in baseball history, and then how many there are that couldn't even make the majors.

I think there's a really good chance the best defensive CF or SS in history never made the majors. Hitting a baseball is wicked hard.
   63. Morty Causa Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:48 PM (#4244542)
Maybe the best fielding SS to play in the majors, Mark Belanger, was often this close to not being good enough to be a major league player because of his poor hitting. Certainly, he was often benched because he was hitting enough.
   64. PreservedFish Posted: September 24, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4244552)
If you were an 18 year old shortstop and you were the best defender at that age that anyone on earth remembers seeing, but you were an absolutely average hitter (like, more than 20 million men on this planet are better than you at hitting - you hit .230 in high school) - would you get drafted? Would you ever get promoted if you were still hitting .080 in rookie ball?
   65. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4244553)
If you were an 18 year old shortstop and you were the best defender at that age that anyone on earth remembers seeing, but you were an absolutely average hitter (like, more than 20 million men on this planet are better than you at hitting - you hit .230 in high school) - would you get drafted? Would you ever get promoted if you were still hitting .080 in rookie ball?

You might get drafted, b/c somebody thought they could "teach you to hit", but would likely wash out in rookie ball,
   66. BDC Posted: September 24, 2012 at 05:09 PM (#4244561)
the guys that didn't hit enough to start but might have won many GGs otherwise

John Vukovich was in that category, at least by reputation; nobody ever saw him play enough at the major-league level to know exactly how good he was. He was by general agreement a better defensive third baseman than Mike Schmidt, and probably at least as good a shortstop as Larry Bowa, but since he was playing on the same team as Mike Schmidt and Larry Bowa, and also batting a career .161 with no plate discipline or power, it was really hard to tell. The Phillies kept him around for a couple of years on the principle that Schmidt never got hurt, and there was no sense in having a defensive caddy for Schmidt who was a worse third baseman than Schmidt. To be better defensively than Schmidt was a pretty tall order, though.
   67. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4244562)
John Vukovich was in that category

Wow! He's in Bill Bergen territory on offense.
   68. Morty Causa Posted: September 24, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4244577)
63: "wasn't" hitting enough, of course.
   69. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 24, 2012 at 05:55 PM (#4244587)
I think there's a really good chance the best defensive CF or SS in history never made the majors. Hitting a baseball is wicked hard.


I remember reading an article a few years ago from some writer who followed a minor club with a scout for a month (the writer did not normally wrote abut the minors)- he mentioned seeing some 3B for a series- best fielding 3B he'd ever seen was absolutely mesmerized.. couldn't believe he wasn't in the majors, or playing SS... the scout told him he really was a SS, but was playing 3B because a prospect needed the time at SS... the writer was like, "What you mean this guy isn't a prospect?" The scout told him to look him up- he did- 30 years old, slightly sub-Mendoza for the year- and his entire career, never higher than AA...

went back to the scout, the scout said there's good glove and no hit, and then there's really NO HIT...
   70. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 24, 2012 at 05:59 PM (#4244590)
If you were an 18 year old shortstop and you were the best defender at that age that anyone on earth remembers seeing, but you were an absolutely average hitter (like, more than 20 million men on this planet are better than you at hitting - you hit .230 in high school) - would you get drafted? Would you ever get promoted if you were still hitting .080 in rookie ball?


My guess is that someone with the athleticism to be the best SS, but absolutely no hitting skill/aptitude couldn't be THAT bad a hitter, they'd be- at worst- an average hitter for a pitcher, or may be this guy
   71. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: September 24, 2012 at 06:04 PM (#4244596)
re [64] [65] etc - Jose Iglesias is a good comp here.
   72. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: September 24, 2012 at 06:18 PM (#4244608)
Is there a sportswriter, anywhere, who isn't nakedly disingenuous at least some of the time?

Seriously, people like this troll just make #### up just so people will complain.
   73. PreservedFish Posted: September 24, 2012 at 06:30 PM (#4244610)
Jose Iglesias hit .295 in his first year as a pro. In the real world that makes him an outrageously talented hitter.
   74. cardsfanboy Posted: September 24, 2012 at 06:42 PM (#4244620)
Maybe the best fielding SS to play in the majors, Mark Belanger, was often this close to not being good enough to be a major league player because of his poor hitting. Certainly, he was often benched because he was hitting enough.


Brendan Ryan is the current day Mark Belanger. I'm not sure that either was better than Adam Everett at his peak.
   75. bjhanke Posted: September 25, 2012 at 08:13 AM (#4244915)
Embarrassingly, I seem to have punted my Curt Flood cover mention in comment #34. I tried to Google it myself, but got nothing other than a reference to a cover (August 19, 1968) of Sports Illustrated. Obviously, a cover photo of any ballplayer on SI is much less newsworthy than the cover of Time. Sorry about that. The SI cover image is everything I remembered it being, though. - Brock

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