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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Yankees’ Aaron Judge Turned 28; What is New York’s Slugger on Pace For?

Remember when Aaron Judge made his Major League debut?

At the time, Judge was a top prospect that looked like he belonged on a football field or a basketball court. He homered in his first big-league at-bat, but went on to hit just .179 in 27 games played during his first taste of the Majors. Then, he was just 24-year-old.

On Sunday, the slugger turned 28.

In the last three-plus years since he first donned pinstripes, Judge has ascended to celebrity in the Big Apple both on and off the field. He’s the face of a franchise loaded with talent and a leader in the clubhouse drawing comparisons to Derek Jeter. Not only that, when he’s able to stay healthy, he’s one of the game’s best.

 

QLE Posted: April 28, 2020 at 01:01 AM | 57 comment(s)
  Beats: aaron judge, milestones

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Historic Milestones Will Be Missed Without MLB in 2020

Any good argument supporting Ted Williams as the greatest hitter ever must mention the milestones he didn’t reach, in addition to all of his accomplishments.

Williams missed nearly five full seasons, including prime years from ages 24-26, while serving in the military. He easily would have reached 600 home runs and 3,000 hits. The lost seasons of Williams are tantalizing, their excellence surely would have rivaled the years of his two triple crowns, six batting titles and .406 batting average in 1941.

Now, we’re faced with the real possibility of a canceled 2020 season, which has been suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus. If that happens, every player will be a year older when baseball returns—one year closer to the end of their careers.

That includes Mike Trout, the best player on the planet. As Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci wrote, the Lost Season of Trout “will forever leave a bittersweet ‘what if?’ aftertaste to his career.”


Saturday, April 18, 2020

Lost Seasons Mean Lost Milestones

Baseball is a statistics-heavy game, and that’s true even for those who don’t think of themselves as being part of the saber set. Because the game’s rules have had a relatively high degree of consistency across eras, the sport’s career milestones have also enjoyed a certain constancy throughout its history. That doesn’t mean that 600 homers from a player whose prime came in the 1960s are exactly the same as the 600 homers a player in the Wild Card era hit, but when you’re talking 600 homers, you’re always talking about someone who was really, really good at hitting home runs.

And while we would like to think that Hall of Fame voting is based off deep analysis and not round numbers, the fact remains that milestones still play a large part in who ends up in Cooperstown. Whether a player hits 470 homers or 520 homers still means something.

....

Given the world that we’re in, one of my many research projects this spring has been trying to better gauge how missed seasons ought to be treated. Forecasting those seasons is difficult in the best of times; the missed time is typically due to injury or suspension or war. Now, everyone is hanging out at home trying to not catch the current super-virus or crippling ennui.

And I wasn’t entirely sure whether the long layoff would affect all types of players to the same degree. Re-projecting stars for 1982 and 1995 using ZiPS — I didn’t have ZiPS in 1995 though I assume you’ll excuse me for not having a projection system when I was four — I tried to gauge whether missed time affected players of different qualities in different ways. Together with other data (suspensions, premature retirements, and war), I found that my normal missed time algorithm slightly overrated stars’ “return” projections. Apparently, the elite do have more to lose with lost time.

 

QLE Posted: April 18, 2020 at 12:58 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: 2020 season, dan szymborski, milestones

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Missed Time and the Hall of Fame, Part 2

Mike Trout is going to be fine. Yes, for all kinds of reasons it would be a complete and total bummer if the 2020 season never gets started due to the the current pandemic, but Trout would hardly be the first elite player in his prime to miss at least a full year due to reasons far beyond his control. Ted Williams, Willie Mays, and Joe DiMaggio were just a few of the dozens of major leaguers who lost entire seasons due to military service, but given their elite performances throughout their careers, their absences didn’t cost them when they became eligible for election to the Hall of Fame.

Which isn’t to say that missing a full season, or even a significant chunk of one, in such fashion comes without cost. For the 28-year-old Trout, who already ranks fifth among center fielders in JAWS, major milestones could be at stake, though it’s far too early to suggest that a lost season will cost him a shot at 600 homers (as service in World War II and the Korean War did Williams) or even 700 (as the Korean War did Mays), or 3,000 hits, or whatever. For other players whose chances to reach Cooperstown are less secure, however, the loss of even a partial year could make a difference — at least temporarily — particularly if it leaves them short of certain plateaus.

That’s one of the take-home messages from my previous piece, which looked at the ways that time lost to military service during World War II and Korea, or to strikes in the 1981, ’94 and/or ’95 seasons, delayed or derailed certain players. Aided by additional chances in front of the voters, both with longer eligibility windows on BBWAA ballots and more frequent appearances on those of the Veterans Committee, it appears that the vast majority of borderline candidates who lost time to wars are in, leaving only a small handful of what-ifs. On the other hand, players who missed time due to strikes and fell short of notable hit and homer plateaus — not just 3,000 of the former or 500 of the latter, but also 2,000 or 2,500 hits, and 400 homers — have seen their chances take a hit. The much-derided 2019 election of Harold Baines, who fell short of 3,000 hits while missing time in all of the aforementioned strikes, suggests that voters have begun reckoning with that era’s impact on career totals, not that doing so will automatically make for strong selections; both Baines and Fred McGriff, who missed time in 1994-95, finished with 493 home runs, and could benefit similarly on the 2022 Today’s Game Era Committee ballot, are well below the JAWS standards at their positions.

As we look to the current landscape to see which players might be most vulnerable to a lost season, we should keep those lessons in mind. Younger players such as Trout, Mookie Betts, and Francisco Lindor have plenty of time to make up the lost ground, not that losing a prime season — if we’re talking the nuclear option here, which may be premature — would help. It’s the older guys who are running out of chances that have the real concerns. Here I’ll take a spin through the position players, working alphabetically, with the pitchers to come tomorrow. All WAR totals refer to the Baseball-Reference version.

Further consideration of the issues related to a shortened season, this time focusing on contemporary position players.

QLE Posted: April 14, 2020 at 01:26 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame, in search of lost time, jay jaffe, milestones

Thursday, April 09, 2020

If 2020 season is canceled, which players would be hurt the most?

An example of the analysis offered:

Players chasing milestones, especially those towards the end of their careers, would be stymied by a lost season. Tigers DH and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera is the first one that comes to mind. He is 23 home runs short of joining the 500 home run club. Though he hasn’t hit more than 16 in a year since 2016, he would likely have at least hit a few this year and would have had an easier time getting there in 2021. He turns 37 years old in 10 days. Cabrera may be under contract through 2023, but it is not clear that his age and his health would allow him to play regularly such that he would be able to reach 500 home runs if the 2020 season were to be canceled. (Cabrera is also 185 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.)

Mike Trout has 285 home runs for his career. It’s almost a given that he would get to 300 and beyond in 2020. He is currently one of only 13 players with at least 250 home runs through his age-27 season. The only players with more: Álex Rodríguez (345), Jimmie Foxx (302), Eddie Mathews (299), and Ken Griffey Jr. (294). Trout likely would have also reached 1,000 runs for his career, as he is currently at 903. Losing a full season could really make a difference where he winds up on the all-time leaderboards at the end of his career.

Veteran catcher Yadier Molina will be a free agent at season’s end, though he and the Cardinals have expressed interest in a contract extension. He turns 38 this summer and is 37 hits shy of 2,000 for his career. Even if this season never happens, Molina will likely join the 2,000 hit club in 2021 whether or not he signs a multi-year extension. Molina is also 84 RBI shy of 1,000 and 21 doubles shy of 400.

So, is there anyone you’d include who the article didn’t?

QLE Posted: April 09, 2020 at 01:26 AM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: 2020 season, milestones, players

 

 

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