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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wedge: Ichiro will bat third this season

And next we move on to solving Moufang loops!

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said Ichiro Suzuki will bat third this season, with Chone Figgins and Dustin Ackley the likely Nos. 1 and 2 hitters, respectively, in Seattle’s lineup.

Wedge made the announcement on Tuesday after talking to all of the players involved.

“I’ve done a lot of thinking about it this winter and talked with the coaches and [general manager] Jack [Zduriencik] and everyone. Bottom line is for us to have the best lineup, one through nine out there. I want our lineup to be extended. I feel our best opportunity to score runs is with Ichiro batting third. It helps the guy in front of him, the guy behind him and it helps him.

“When you look at what we have coming back this year and trying to be deeper, one through nine, and giving ourselves the greatest opportunity to score runs, that’s why I’m going to bat him third. Everybody in there wants to win—Ichiro as much as anybody. They all want us to put together the best lineup we can to score the most runs possible.”

...Ichiro has been working on a new, more open stance throughout the offseason, but he said hitting third won’t change his general approach at the plate.

“The situation of hitting third won’t change my approach in my hitting style,” he said. “It’ll only change the situation with runners on base.”

Repoz Posted: February 21, 2012 at 06:14 PM | 56 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: fantasy baseball, mariners

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   1. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: February 21, 2012 at 06:48 PM (#4065775)
Sure, why not. Now maybe he can hit those 40 home runs.
   2. Willie Mayspedes Posted: February 21, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4065783)
Chone had a .241 OBP last year.

Ichiro had a .335 SLG last year.

????

Profit!
   3. A triple short of the cycle Posted: February 21, 2012 at 07:23 PM (#4065793)
Two spots in the batting order is what ... 40 less PAs over the season? So Ichiro loses about 12 hits right away. He'd have to hit about 15 or 20 points higher in BA to make up those hits. Not that I care but I suspect he does.
   4. RJ in TO Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:09 PM (#4065807)
This seems like a very strange idea.
   5. For the Turnstiles (andeux) Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:19 PM (#4065810)
Who is #1?
You are #6.
   6. PepTech Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:22 PM (#4065814)
Wedge is hoping against hope that Figgins magically becomes his 2009 self, Ackley comes up with a .390 OBP, and Ichiro! is so inspired he hits .340 again. Ha.

This will work about as well as the great Cust/Bradley/Byrnes experiments. If that. I will consider it a success if Suzuki fails to lead the league in GIDPs.
   7. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:22 PM (#4065815)
Chone had a .241 OBP last year.

And they are going to let him lead off. If I were a Seattle fan, I'd be furious. As a baseball fan, this level of stupidity is just downright offensive(or lack of it...boom tish!)
   8. andrewberg Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:25 PM (#4065816)
If it fails, wedge can say he did all he could. If it works, wedge can day he fixed everything. This idiocy will play with most fans.
   9. Jittery McFrog Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:30 PM (#4065818)
I will consider it a success if Suzuki fails to lead the league in GIDPs.


That's the genius of leading off with Figgins -- there will rarely be anyone at first to double off. Success!
   10. BDC Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:34 PM (#4065821)
Well. all I really know is that if Ichiro hits .370 this is a great idea, and if he hits .270, it's a terrible idea.
   11. Maury Brown Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:43 PM (#4065825)
Figgins with no runners on:

Avg .185, OBP .247, SLG .256, OPS .503
   12. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:44 PM (#4065826)
It doesn't matter, because Montero is going to hit 200 home runs an they're going to win 140 games, all on Montero walk-off home runs.
   13. Maury Brown Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:52 PM (#4065829)
Ichiro was tied for 50th in the AL for GIDP (11). Figgins tied at 115th (6). It's all hair-brained logic. Personally, I think they're trying anything and everything just to shake things up. At some point, going all "Billy Martin" and throwing the line-up in a hat may not be such a bad idea.
   14. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:57 PM (#4065832)
Ichiro's slugging percentage was 30 points lower last year with men on than with the bases empty. For his career, his men-on SLG is 14 points lower than with runners on. Of course, it's not like he's keeping Babe Ruth or even Alvin Davis out of the third spot.
   15. Willie Mayspedes Posted: February 21, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4065838)
#11 Those are better than his overall numbers so we can expect a bounceback season!
   16. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 21, 2012 at 09:54 PM (#4065852)
Personally I think Ray DiPerna is behind this move. As stated above, Ichiro will get less AB's, then subsequently less hits and will hinder his chances of making the HOF. Damn you Ray!
   17. Bob Evans Posted: February 21, 2012 at 09:57 PM (#4065853)
Is this Wedge's way of telling management he's got nothing to work with?
   18. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 21, 2012 at 10:21 PM (#4065861)
At some point, going all "Billy Martin" and throwing the line-up in a hat may not be such a bad idea.


Other than acquiring Montero, I haven't really paid attention to what the Mariners did this offseason, but looking at their BB-Ref page, the uniformity of the offensive suck across their lineup was pretty remarkable last season. I doubt the range from best to worst lineup for last year's Mariners would be more than 10-15 runs over a 162-game season. Honestly, it's not inconceivable that Ichiro would project as their best option in the 3-hole.
   19. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 21, 2012 at 10:49 PM (#4065867)
No way Montero hits 200 HR. I've got him with 93. 96 runs and 97 RBI.
   20. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: February 21, 2012 at 10:52 PM (#4065869)
Doesn't this sortof conform with The Book?

Edit: I can't find a direct cite and I'm too lazy to go downstairs and get my copy, but ISTR that they had the #3 hitter as much less important than generally thought, and not among the top 3 hitters on the team. Granted I think they still profiled that spot as good for a guy with decent power, but still...
   21. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 21, 2012 at 11:08 PM (#4065883)
Doesn't this sortof conform with The Book?

Edit: I can't find a direct cite and I'm too lazy to go downstairs and get my copy, but ISTR that they had the #3 hitter as much less important than generally thought, and not among the top 3 hitters on the team. Granted I think they still profiled that spot as good for a guy with decent power, but still...


Yeah, The Book says to put your 3 best hitters at 1, 2, and 4, and your next two best hitters at 3 and 5. So, batting Ichiro #3 could be consistent with that, sure. Batting Figgins leadoff, on the other hand.

The Book also says that the best way to leverage basestealers is to bat them in front of "a batter who hits lots of singles and doesn't strikeout much." So, it makes sense to put Figgins in front of Ichiro, if he can get on base often enough to actually be much of a basestealing threat. Maybe Ackley, too, he only stole 6 bases last year but was never caught.
   22. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: February 21, 2012 at 11:41 PM (#4065895)
No way Montero hits 200 HR. I've got him with 93. 96 runs and 97 RBI.
I'm projecting him to play a full season, of course.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: February 22, 2012 at 12:04 AM (#4065900)
Calling it now, Ichiro finishes top ten in the MVP voting.
   24. frannyzoo Posted: February 22, 2012 at 12:22 AM (#4065903)
This cries out for a estimated line for Ichiro!...

I'll go..nope, can't do it. Instead how about an over/under on how long the experiment last? Or a "pick the calendar date" it ends? As a Ms fan, I want to like the idea. I admire the positive spin from Ichiro! himself and commenters over at the Seattle Times...but, this will end badly, right?
   25. Ron J Posted: February 22, 2012 at 01:11 AM (#4065913)
#24 Did the rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic end badly? Yes.

But not because of moving the deck chairs about.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: February 22, 2012 at 01:28 AM (#4065916)
au contraire! Leo would have made the lifeboat if he hadn't tripped over one of those re-arranged deck chairs. Then we don't get that stupid movie.

Butterfly wings!
   27. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili(Teddy F. Ballgame) Posted: February 22, 2012 at 01:28 AM (#4065918)
Just listened to some local sports talk on the radio about this (which I never do) and it was almost entirely nonsense about how this might finally encourage Ichiro to hit some doubles. Basically all not-so-veiled commentary about how he should have been taking a team approach with his hitting style all along, and nary a mention of Figgins being a black hole. "Now, Ichiro has that generally high average, but he's the kind of leadoff hitter that makes you tear your hair out by swinging at the first pitch. Sure, he might get a hit, but Chone's the kind of guy who takes some pitches . . ." I paraphrase, of course.

I'd be annoyed enough at this variation on the "blame your best player" theme, but part that really rankles is Figgins getting rewarded for his miserable, miserable performance.
   28. Spahn Insane Posted: February 22, 2012 at 01:31 AM (#4065919)
It doesn't matter, because Montero is going to hit 200 home runs an they're going to win 140 games, all on Montero walk-off home runs.

I can't wait. Those 59+ walkoffs in road games should be epic.
   29. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: February 22, 2012 at 03:00 AM (#4065931)
Chone had a .241 OBP last year.


Oh, stop exaggerating.

Wait, what?
   30. Ryan Lind Posted: February 22, 2012 at 03:12 AM (#4065932)
See? Ichiro could bat third if he wanted to.
   31. Ron J Posted: February 22, 2012 at 03:52 AM (#4065938)
#27 One of the things that really surprised me was finding out that in his best years Mark McGwire was more likely to swing at the first pitch than Ichiro! was.

Ichiro in fact has always taken more pitches than the league average. For his career he's swung at the first pitch only 21% of the time (but with a wide range here. 15% in 2006, 25% in 2003 and 2004) and average is 28%. It says an awful lot about selective memory and our perceptions about the kind of player he is that almost everybody assumes he swings at the first pitch all of the time.

He sees fewer pitches per plate appearance than most players because he's very good at making contact when he swings and is far more likely than average to put the ball in play when he does connect.

   32. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 22, 2012 at 09:17 AM (#4065966)
I'd be annoyed enough at this variation on the "blame your best player" theme, but part that really rankles is Figgins getting rewarded for his miserable, miserable performance.


I think you're missing a miserable there.
   33. Blubaldo Jimenez (OMJ) Posted: February 22, 2012 at 09:51 AM (#4065974)
God I am glad I am not a fan of a team coached by Eric Wedge anymore.
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2012 at 10:25 AM (#4065976)
I can't imagine this makes much difference. The Seattle offense is terrible, and Ichiro's not very good anymore anyway.

It's highly likely that neither Ichiro or Figgins is on this team the next time they break .500. I mean, Figgins has to be less than three bad months from being cut.
   35. JPWF1313 Posted: February 22, 2012 at 11:16 AM (#4066020)
This seems like a very strange idea.


This is like 1983, when the Reds batted Dave Concepcion 3rd, because dammit he was the last real link to the Big Red Machine, and so was the only batter capable of putting TEH fear into opposing pitchers...

and so what if he coughed up a .233/.303/.280 line, and was the worst regular in the lineup...

seriously though, yowza was that a bad lineup the 2011 Mariners had...

2012:
Ackley: Nice year, but he hit .304/.364/.536 before the all * break and .265/.344/.386 after
He did appear to play well in the PCL in 2011, hitting .303/.421/.487, but his team hit .289/.368/.459, he was 41st in the league in OPS, just behind Mike Jacobs (yes the Mike Jacobs).
OTOH you gotta like guy who walks more than he Ks right?
I'm guessing that his 2012 ZiPS projections are going to disappoint some Mariners' fans

Smoak: I was not a big fan of his, seeing him as a lesser version of Logan Morrison (Morrison has outhit Smoak- relative to league every single year*, even the year Morrison was hurt, when BA boosted Smoak up to #13 in 2010- ahead of Morrison, they must have just had a collective brainfart. I think both men have performed relative to each other as should have been expected- Morrison is 15-20 points of OPS+ better than Smoak, I think nevertheless that both have been mildly disappointing to date- that's not so bad for Morrison, but Smoak can't fail to meet reasonable expectations, he HAS to exceed them

2012 could be really awful.


*hell accounting for relative league offense Smoak was not as good in the minors as Carp... Smoak is a guy who came up already on the wrong end of the defensive spectrum, he's not and wasn't going to be the second coming of Keith Hernandez, so essentially his prospecthood depended upon his hit and power tools, and basically there are some things to like, he likely is an MLB hitter, but considering where he is on the defensive spectrum, he's just not good enough, maybe he'll improve, but right now he;s never shown any sign in the stat sheets that he's better than Mike Carp, who was no one's idea of a prospect- I'm not trying to elevate Carp, I'm just saying that Smoak when drafted by the Mariners, and later ranked by BA was clearly being overrated.

   36. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 22, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4066024)
I can't imagine this makes much difference. The Seattle offense is terrible, and Ichiro's not very good anymore anyway.


Yeah, I'm not sure this matters. It's not like Ichiro's .310 OBP was doing wonders in the leadoff spot anyway. Though they didn't have many options. The real problem is that this is a bad offense with not much to offer. Smoak, Ackley, and Montero are really the only bright spots. And it's time for Smoak to get something done. He started off so well last year but took an almost unfathomable nosedive.
   37. JPWF1313 Posted: February 22, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4066028)
He sees fewer pitches per plate appearance than most players because he's very good at making contact when he swings and is far more likely than average to put the ball in play when he does connect.


Mattingly was like that, look at his walk totals, then look at his K totals. He once joked in an interview that he would love to figure out how to foul the ball off...

Years ago I was reading one of the Bill James Abstracts while the Yankees were playing the Twins, and just as I was reading a comment about Kent Hrbek - James said that Hrbek must have taken a lot of called third strikes because James had literally never seen Hrbek swing and miss- Hrbek was up and K'd on 4-5 pitches- all swing strikes... I though that was funny at the time... Mattingly? dude always got the bat on the ball- even after he hurt his back, but could no longer drive the ball-

Ichiro as a hitter is like post back injury Mattingly- but with plus plus speed (Mattingly had poor speed)
   38. sptaylor Posted: February 22, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4066031)
I ran the projected lineup(1) through the Morong/Arneson/Armbrust lineup tool, using ZiPS projections for each player's stats (except Montero, where I used a projection from RotoChamp), and the result was 3.8 runs per game (621 runs per season). The optimum lineup,(2) on the other hand, resulted in 3.9 runs per game (630 runs per season).

(1) From CBS Sportsline: Figgins, Ackley, Ichiro!, Smoak, Carp, Montero, Olivo, Gutierrez, Ryan.
(2) Ackley, Smoak, Ryan, Carp, Suzuki, Olivo, Gutierrez, Montero, Figgins.
   39. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 22, 2012 at 11:32 AM (#4066038)
(2) Ackley, Smoak, Ryan, Carp, Suzuki, Olivo, Gutierrez, Montero, Figgins.


That's the best lineup? That has some interesting results. Brendan Ryan hitting 3rd? Ichiro 5th? Jesus Montero 8th? Really? (I'm not saying I don't believe you or think you made a mistake; it's just a very untraditional lineup - probably even more than the one Wedge is proposing)
   40. sptaylor Posted: February 22, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4066058)
Might have something to do with being a column off on Montero's projection (277/343/443; I put his AVG in as his OPB and his OBP as his SLG). Corrected for that, here's what I got:

Projected lineup: 4.04 R/G (654 R/season)
Optimum lineup: Ackley, Montero, Ichiro, Carp, Smoak, Olivo, Gutierrez, Ryan, Figgins - 4.12 R/G (667 R/season)

Which looks much more like what one would expect, although the difference is still only about one win on the season.

About half of the top thirty lineups have Ichiro batting third. Not surprisingly, all of the top thirty have Figgins batting ninth.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4066065)
(1) From CBS Sportsline: Figgins, Ackley, Ichiro!, Smoak, Carp, Montero, Olivo, Gutierrez, Ryan.

HTF do they plan on batting Montero 6th?

On what planet is Smoak a cleanup hitter?
   42. Nasty Nate Posted: February 22, 2012 at 12:45 PM (#4066123)
I wouldn't pick Wedge to manage a 3rd-grade recess kickball team. Maybe 2nd-grade
   43. Lassus Posted: February 22, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4066143)
#28 is why I come here. Good show.
   44. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: February 22, 2012 at 01:00 PM (#4066151)
I can't wait. Those 59+ walkoffs in road games should be epic.
Those will literally be walkoff home runs. They will be hit in the first inning, and be so devastating to the opposition that they will walk off the field rather than be further humiliated, and forfeit the game. And Selig will rule that the home run still counts.
   45. JJ1986 Posted: February 22, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4066183)
Off the top of my head, I would go with:

Ackley, Gutierrez (hope he's recovered a bit), Smoak, Carp, Montero, Suzuki, Olivo, Ryan, Figgins.
   46. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 22, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4066189)
On what planet is Smoak a cleanup hitter?


Smoak was 2nd on the 2011 Mariners in SLG - .396 to Ackley's .417 (Mike Carp, Casper Wells, and Alex Liddi also out-slugged Smoak in a combined 473 PAs). If you bat Ackley #1 or #2 (he led the '11 Mariners in OBP, too, at .348), then your "power" options are Smoak, Carp if he's a starter now, and Montero. One of them has to bat cleanup, right?
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4066194)
Smoak was 2nd on the 2011 Mariners in SLG - .396 to Ackley's .417 (Mike Carp, Casper Wells, and Alex Liddi also out-slugged Smoak in a combined 473 PAs). If you bat Ackley #1 or #2 (he led the '11 Mariners in OBP, too, at .348), then your "power" options are Smoak, Carp if he's a starter now, and Montero. One of them has to bat cleanup, right?

I'd go Carp. At least you can hold on to the hope the 122 OPS+ is real.
   48. DA Baracus Posted: February 22, 2012 at 01:40 PM (#4066211)
Figgins with no runners on:

Avg .185, OBP .247, SLG .256, OPS .503


Jason Vargas and Erik Bedard have hit better than that for their careers. Maybe the Mariners should DH for Figgins depending on the pitcher.
   49. Downtown Bookie Posted: February 22, 2012 at 01:55 PM (#4066231)
If you bat Ackley #1 or #2 (he led the '11 Mariners in OBP, too, at .348), then your "power" options are Smoak, Carp if he's a starter now, and Montero. One of them has to bat cleanup, right?


Only in a fallen world.

DB
   50. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 22, 2012 at 02:23 PM (#4066265)
It doesn't matter, because Montero is going to hit 200 home runs an they're going to win 140 games, all on Montero walk-off home runs.


I can't wait. Those 59+ walkoffs in road games should be epic.

Well, once a True Yankee, always a True Yankee, so that brings it down to 53, but he's on his own after that.
   51. PepTech Posted: February 22, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4066283)
Smoak - I dunno. He had a weird year last year, with the bereavement and the injuries and being on a suck team. I'm prepared to believe he could have a good year (25+HR) but at this point M's fans pretty much expect the low end of any projected range. And then are disappointed. How 'bout those Sounders!!
   52. DL from MN Posted: February 22, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4066294)
Optimum lineup: Ackley, Montero, Ichiro, Carp, Smoak, Olivo, Gutierrez, Ryan, Figgins


I think I'd go with the traditional good #3 hitter and use

Ackley, Ichiro, Montero, Carp, Smoak, Olivo, Gutierrez, Ryan, Figgins

Ichiro has good bat control and isn't a terrible #2 hitter when you consider the other options.
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4066314)
I think I'd go with the traditional good #3 hitter and use

Ackley, Ichiro, Montero, Carp, Smoak, Olivo, Gutierrez, Ryan, Figgins

Ichiro has good bat control and isn't a terrible #2 hitter when you consider the other options.


Not bad.

But isn't Saegar probably better than Figgins at this point?
   54. PepTech Posted: February 22, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4066334)
Not bad.


Yes, it's bad. It's almost nearly awful.

It's one of the *better* options, considering what they have to work with, but it's still bad.
   55. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2012 at 03:50 PM (#4066337)
Yes, it's bad. It's almost nearly awful.

It's one of the *better* options, considering what they have to work with, but it's still bad.


Oh agreed. It's all the way to awful. But, it's pretty well optimized awful.

On the bright side, Ackley, Montero and Smoak could all develop into well above average hitters, Carp could be a 120 OPS+ guy, and Jaso could bounce back to unseat Olivo.

But, there are going to be 3 or 4 black holes in that lineup.

   56. sptaylor Posted: February 22, 2012 at 04:42 PM (#4066380)
No. 45
Morong analysis for Ackley, Gutierrez, Smoak, Carp, Montero, Suzuki, Olivo, Ryan, Figgins gives 4.09 R/G (662 R/season).

No. 52
Morong analysis for Ackley, Ichiro, Montero, Carp, Smoak, Olivo, Gutierrez, Ryan, Figgins gives 4.10 R/G (664 R/season).

Optimum lineup with these players - Ackley, Montero, Ichiro, Carp, Smoak, Olivo, Gutierrez, Ryan, Figgins. 4.13 R/G (669 R/season).

No. 53
Seager's ZiPS projection 267/323/372. Figgins's ZiPS projection 242/323/305.

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