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Monday, September 07, 2020

Cal Ripken looks back on 25th anniversary of breaking Lou Gehrig’s record

The streak nearly ended in 1993, when Ripken sprained his knee during a benches-clearing brawl against the Seattle Mariners. The next morning, his knee had swollen so badly, it hurt to put any weight on it at all.

“I remember calling my mom that morning,” Ripken says. “I said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be able to play.’”

Ripken also had a lunchtime interview scheduled with Verducci that day – something he didn’t remember when Verducci brought it up. Instead, Ripken was getting treatment and testing his knee in the indoor batting cage.

The streak continued.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 07, 2020 at 01:41 AM | 81 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cal ripken jr

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   1. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: September 07, 2020 at 11:03 AM (#5974868)
OK, with the benefit of 25 years since breaking the record, and almost 20 years since he's been retired:

1) How do you look back at his consecutive games streak? It's remarkable, to be sure - but does it feel selfish, in hindsight? I mean, do you feel like he put his record before the team , particularly in the last third or so of the streak?

2) He's a Hall of Famer, legend, etc., but the last 10 years of his career are pretty eh, yes? I mean, for the last 45% or so of his career (1992-2001):
1363 GP, 172 HRs, 753 RBIs, .271/.329/.424/.753, OPS+ of 97...but until the end, they had to play him every day.

3) Who career looks the most like Ripken's? There's a case for Yaz, who was a lot more useful than Ripken at the plate right until the end in large part because he walked so much compared to Ripken (but was largely a 1B/DH the last several years, as compared to a SS). Maybe Ernie Banks? Where does Ripken fit in your pantheon of all-time baseball players? I sense that his legend is bigger than the performance would dictate.
   2. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 07, 2020 at 11:24 AM (#5974871)
1. I think it’s still remarkable and I’m skeptical that it hurt the team. How much better would he have been taking 3 or 4 days off a year and how much better would the Orioles have been playing whatever Manny Alexander or Ryan Minor that they would have been playing. I do think a fair criticism of the Orioles is their failure to develop an option behind him. That he was their best option over there is the problem.

I think that your points are good though. It highlights why it’s wise not to let a streak get rolling. Something like that becomes bigger than everyone involved. It’s a bit like a no hitter, once it’s started it overwhelms everything else and impacts every decision you make. See also Pete Rose and the 1985 Reds.

2. This is a good question. My sense is that other than the frequency of how much he played the last ten years of his career the tail of his career doesn’t look that unusual even among Hall of Famers. The Yaz comp seems good. Just for what it’s worth a few randomly selected Hall of Famers last ten seasons;

Rickey! - 104 OPS+
Yaz - 116
Eddie Murray - 114
Biggie - 102
Brooks Robinson - 97 (kinda interesting if not really meaningful)
Banks - 106 (he and Yaz better than I’d have expected)

I dunno that says a lot. A guy who plays regularly as he ages isn’t going to be a star at that point.

3. I don’t think my opinion of Ripken has changed dramatically since his playing days. He was a truly great player for a long time who probably hung on a bit too long. I think The Streak is somewhat comparable to Hank Aaron’s home run record. It is such an overwhelming part of his story that it obscures what a great player he was. At the end of the day Ripken is one of the top five shortstops in baseball history right? Wagner, A-Rod, Vaughan, Banks, Ozzie, Jeter, anyone else with even a whiff of an argument? Forget about the streak, if you are top five all time at a position, doubly so for one of the glamour positions of the game, you are an inner circle Hall of Famer. I say this as someone who found the lionizing of Ripken a bit tiresome and never considered himself a big fan of Ripken’s.
   3. bookbook Posted: September 07, 2020 at 11:37 AM (#5974872)
Ripken peaked young, so his career always felt a bit like a letdown. I do think he would have been a little better playing 150 games a year than he was at 162–but I can’t prove that at all.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: September 07, 2020 at 11:43 AM (#5974874)
1) How do you look back at his consecutive games streak? It's remarkable, to be sure - but does it feel selfish, in hindsight? I mean, do you feel like he put his record before the team , particularly in the last third or so of the streak?


I don't think there's anything wrong of selfish with wanting to play every day. It's basically a good thing. On the other hand, I'd never allow one to happen if I were the manager of a team. If the streak becomes big enough, as it obviously did in Cal's case, one area of playing time allocation is taken out of the manager's hands*. I think that can breed resentment, particularly among older players on the club.

I'm also one who firmly believes that taking days off are valuable for a ballplayer, and wouldn't let anyone play 162 in a season if I were skippering a club. Hell, I'd love to see a team give players legitimate days off, where they don't even have to show up at the ballpark. Hey, go play some golf, take the family to the beach. We've got this.

*I've often wondered whether that was why the long streaks in history stretch across all of baseball history, rather than are concentrated in a single era. I imagine it's possible other managers see how streaks become too big to handle, and decide they aren't letting that happen on their watch.
   5. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 07, 2020 at 02:08 PM (#5974893)
Rickey! - 104 OPS+
Yaz - 116
Eddie Murray - 114
Biggie - 102
Brooks Robinson - 97 (kinda interesting if not really meaningful)
Banks - 106 (he and Yaz better than I’d have expected)

Rose clocks in at 103 which is much higher than I would have expected
   6. baxter Posted: September 07, 2020 at 02:24 PM (#5974894)
Re 2, surprising to me that Brooks Robinson was highly valuable until his last couple of seasons. He never reached the 10 WAR high of some of the others (although a couple of 8's), but he was consistent, not a terrible hitter until the very end and an excellent fielder.

When the HOF players decline from their peaks, unless they completely fold, they're still going to be good enough to start.

Interesting issue would be if Ripken's batting line were the same throughout his career, played SS the entire time and fielded at the same level (which, as I recall was good, had a great arm, positioned himself well).

Is that player a HOF'er? He would be more of a compiler, obviously. Maybe he would not have gotten the gold gloves either.
   7. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: September 07, 2020 at 03:03 PM (#5974899)
Interesting issue would be if Ripken's batting line were the same throughout his career, played SS the entire time and fielded at the same level (which, as I recall was good, had a great arm, positioned himself well).

Is that player a HOF'er?


Of course he is. There is no player exactly like that, but I immediately thought of Buddy Bell, and he comes close. Bell played 2400 games (Ripken 3,000), had 10,000 PA (Ripken 13,000), had a 109 OPS+ (Ripken 112), and was an excellent fielder, albeit at 3B. Bell did not have the highs that Ripken had. His batting line was pretty steady. Half his seasons were between 100 and 120. High of 143.

Bell is a borderline HOFer as it is. Moving him to SS gives him another 10 WAR in position runs. Give him 3,000 more PA at 109 OPS+ as an average fielding SS gives him about 15 more. Now you're at 90+ WAR. How is that not a HOFer regardless of a lack of a true peak?
   8. Jaack Posted: September 07, 2020 at 03:14 PM (#5974901)
Interesting issue would be if Ripken's batting line were the same throughout his career, played SS the entire time and fielded at the same level (which, as I recall was good, had a great arm, positioned himself well).

Is that player a HOF'er? He would be more of a compiler, obviously. Maybe he would not have gotten the gold gloves either.


Lou Whitaker has a similar career batting line to Ripken, and his career was much flatter so that's a good starting point. Whitaker only had 5 All-Stars and 3 Gold gloves, but if you give him 4 or 5 more seasons to match Ripken's PAs and he gets 3000 hits, I think he would have cruised in easily. Craig Biggio also was a similar hitter and matched Ripken's playing time, although the glove is deficient. He got in without too much difficulty against a much more stacked ballot than Ripken had to deal with.

Flat Ripken was still an incredible player.
   9. Rough Carrigan Posted: September 07, 2020 at 03:46 PM (#5974907)
I was always slightly annoyed at the press genuflecting surrounding this record. I still think it's overblown. It's nice but playing 162 games instead of 159 is not that big of a deal.
   10. BDC Posted: September 07, 2020 at 03:49 PM (#5974908)
Here are some single seasons by shortstops that resemble Ripken's career batting line. As everyone's been saying, these are pretty good shortstops. Flat Ripken doesn't quite match the career years of most of these guys, but usually their second- or third-best seasons, and he does it 18 or 19 years in a row.

Player            Year  PA OPSHR RBI   BA
Xander Bogaerts   2016 719  111 21  89 .294
Ian Desmond       2013 655  113 20  80 .280
Jhonny Peralta    2008 664  113 23  89 .276
Derek Jeter       2004 721  114 23  78 .292
Derek Jeter       2002 730  111 18  75 .297
Roy Smalley       1979 729  110 24  95 .271
Toby Harrah       1974 639  114 21  74 .260
Bert Campaneris   1970 650  113 22  64 .279 


Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 9/7/2020.
   11. Mefisto Posted: September 07, 2020 at 03:52 PM (#5974909)
@2: I think I'd use ages 31-40 instead of "last 10 years". That would change Rickey's OPS+ to 130, bump Yaz to 121, Murray to 117, and Biggio to 109. Ripken's 97 looks a lot more pedestrian now, though as a SS he'd still be plenty valuable.
   12. Howie Menckel Posted: September 07, 2020 at 03:53 PM (#5974910)
add me to the list of those who found this record to be overblown.

weirder still because the actual player in his prime was so remarkable - and to me it's a better legacy than just showing up for work every day.

September is Ripken's worst OPS, though not egregiously so at .748 (his best was July .819).
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: September 07, 2020 at 04:04 PM (#5974912)
I think Ripken's streak is impressive because he did it while playing in the middle of the infield.

On the other hand, it's hard to get too excited about the record-setting moment.

"I can still remember the exact moment when Damion Easley popped out to Manny Alexander for the final out of the top of the fifth, thereby making it an official game."

   14. Traderdave Posted: September 07, 2020 at 04:10 PM (#5974916)
It’s a bit like a no hitter, once it’s started it overwhelms everything else and impacts every decision you make. See also Pete Rose and the 1985 Reds.


It's important to note that Rose was literally hired to break that record. The very day he came over from Montreal, in August '84, the Reds began beating the 4192 drum and selling (or handing out as promos) truckloads of 4192 swag. I was at that game and they were not shy about the record.

Even if he'd wanted to bench himself (he didn't, of course) he'd have been in hot water with ownership, which was openly and unabashedly joyful at how the run for the record was ringing the cash register.

Just saying Rose is a slightly different case.
   15. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 07, 2020 at 04:17 PM (#5974918)
11 - Yeah you can do it any number of ways. I wasn’t looking for perfection, just a quick glance given SoSH’s comment.

On the other hand, it's hard to get too excited about the record-setting moment.


Really? I consider that one of the great moments of my baseball watching life. Just an incredible thing that I’d never imagined happening. Whatever you think of the streak itself that moment was pretty remarkable I thought. I was at Yaz’ final game and I remember him doing the same type of lap of the park when he was removed and that’s a great memory for me.

I was actually at Fenway that night and had recorded it. I remember when they put the out of town homers on the scoreboard in center around the 5th inning or so. In those pre-HD days the dot matrix like board had a bunch of names just up there with whatever homer they’d hit but (this was their BIG DEAL move) they had Ripken’s name flashing. He got a standing ovation. The only other time I remember that is when they did the same for Cecil Fielder’s 50th in 1990.
   16. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 07, 2020 at 04:20 PM (#5974920)
I dont think the streak hurt him and he was awfully good. But I thought his range was below average.

I mean I think that's the real issue with Ripken. NOt whether the streak hurt him or whether he's in the top 5 SS. We dont measure defense accurately, and we dont know how much of a liability if any he was. That's the real issue.

Yes he could play deeper because he had strong arm and great hands, but I always thought a lot more balls got through the middle than other teams w/ rangier SS. Comparing his range factor to Ozzie's leaves me to question whether he was better than Oz.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: September 07, 2020 at 04:32 PM (#5974923)
Really? I consider that one of the great moments of my baseball watching life. Just an incredible thing that I’d never imagined happening. Whatever you think of the streak itself that moment was pretty remarkable I thought. I was at Yaz’ final game and I remember him doing the same type of lap of the park when he was removed and that’s a great memory for me.


I'm glad you enjoyed it (and obviously the O's pulled out all the stops) but it just didn't resonate with me. It's impressive as hell that he managed to avoid meaningful injury for 10-plus years, but the record's meat is in its totality, not in any moment. The record breaker is just that - another game, an event that required nothing more than a Cal AB, an inning in the field and an absence of torrential rain.
   18. baxter Posted: September 07, 2020 at 05:06 PM (#5974929)
I apologize; what I am curious about is if the first half mirrored the 2nd half of Cal's career.

So, you have a 97 OPS + hitting SS who plays 3,000 games (almost all of them at SS); fields well, but maybe not exceptionally (no Belanger). Given the lower OPS +, he may not have gotten to 3,000 hits, but still would have been a valuable player (maybe more useful than super valuable)

Brooks Robinson had a career OPS + of 100, but of course is one of the all time greats (if not the greatest) fielding 3B's of all time.

   19. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: September 07, 2020 at 05:16 PM (#5974931)
I apologize; what I am curious about is if the first half mirrored the 2nd half of Cal's career.

So, you have a 97 OPS + hitting SS who plays 3,000 games (almost all of them at SS); fields well, but maybe not exceptionally (no Belanger). Given the lower OPS +, he may not have gotten to 3,000 hits, but still would have been a valuable player (maybe more useful than super valuable)


OK, but now you are describing a better hitting, better fielding Omar Vizquel, who is probably going in as it is. Vizquel had 45.6 WAR and -244 batting runs. Make that -90 or so and he picks up 15 WAR. Ripken had 50 more fielding runs, so that's another 5. Vizquel has a big advantage in base running metrics, so knock off 4. So this guy is about 62 WAR.
   20. SoSH U at work Posted: September 07, 2020 at 05:18 PM (#5974932)
Is that player a HOF'er? He would be more of a compiler, obviously. Maybe he would not have gotten the gold gloves either.


On the merits, yes. That guy has about the same OPS+ as Pee Wee in 3,000 more PAs, with slightly better defensive numbers).
   21. Srul Itza At Home Posted: September 07, 2020 at 06:11 PM (#5974937)
Professional baseball is an entertainment venture. You want to give the fans something to get excited about. However much we may deride the streak, at the time, it seemed the fans were really into it. Did it cost the O's a win here and there? Maybe, but who knows. It did make the game a little more fun back then, even including arguing about whether it was a good idea or not. Some of you remember "fun", I hope.

I also think that Ripken's fielding is getting a little short shrift here. Yes, it is harder to measure, but for his career he is fourth all time in DWAR, behind Ozzie, Belanger and Brooks, and since DWAR can be negative (and often turns that way for even okay fielders later in their career), that is partly, but not exclusively, a counting stat.


   22. baxter Posted: September 07, 2020 at 06:30 PM (#5974938)
Thank you for the replies; I did not realize that fielding metrics had Ripken better than Vizquel.
Reese, interesting; missed some time b/c of war, would have been closer in PA's
I think it is testament to how good Ripken's career was, you take away those great years, put in the declining years only and you still would get a HOF'er.

Such a player would get the opportunities at the beginning of his career, would have been a very useful player.

thanks again.
   23. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: September 07, 2020 at 06:38 PM (#5974941)
I will quote my comment from this 5 year old thread regarding Ripken's "range"

I think we're somewhat dealing in semantics here. If by instincts, you mean "anticipation", then that was Jeter's biggest shortcoming. To make the obvious contrast--Ripken (which is largely unfair to Jeter, because Cal was one of the best ever at this). He had some ungodly assist numbers but did you ever see him dive for a ball? Hardly ever--he was just THERE. How? By cheating 5 or 6 feet in one direction or the other depending on the pitcher/batter/pitch call. Then starting to move in the right direction BEFORE the ball is hit. Jeter never developed this, which is odd, because he certainly seemed like a smarter than average ballplayer. Furthermore, Jeter's weakness was almost entirely balls to his left. He was fine (maybe even better than average) going into the hole, or going back on pop-ups, be he could not for the life of him anticipate balls up the middle.


to say that Ripken didn't have good range is risible. It doesn't matter HOW you get to the balls, just get there
   24. AndrewJ Posted: September 07, 2020 at 06:40 PM (#5974942)
It's important to note that Rose was literally hired to break that record. The very day he came over from Montreal, in August '84, the Reds began beating the 4192 drum and selling (or handing out as promos) truckloads of 4192 swag. I was at that game and they were not shy about the record.

The 1984-92 Phillies front office made a gazillion mistakes, but I credit Bill Giles and co. with casting Rose off at 3,990 hits -- in this one instance, they were at least trying to field a winning team instead of just basking in the hype of breaking records.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: September 07, 2020 at 06:48 PM (#5974943)
#18-19 ... probably not but, like Vizquel, it would vary depending on the strength of the ballots no-hit Ripken ended up on. Vizquel is going in (by VC if nothing else) but that's largely because the voters have few guys to vote for. Putting aside Bonds & Clemens, Vizquel is #2 in the backlog and the bets player coming on the ballot in 2021 is Tim Hudson. 2022 brings Ortiz (who I think is getting in 1st ballot) and ARod (who will just gum up the works like Bonds and Clemens but not be a real factor). By 2023, B&C are off the ballot, so is Schilling one way or the other leaving Vizquel as the top back-logger with Beltran the best entry ... which would have been really good for Beltran except now he's a dirty cheater so it remains to be seen how hard they go on him.

But the one thing Vizquel has going for him is 11 GG. Real Ripken has only 2 ... maybe no-hit Ripken gets a better defensive rep and picks up 4 or 5. That's not enough to get you into the great fielding SS wing of the HoF. And he'd have no MVPs. That Ripken probably never gets shifted to 3B -- he doesn't disappear entirely but he probably loses 1,000-1,500 PAs. That guys looks more like Jimmy Rollins -- >10,000 PA, 95 OPS+, 4 GG, 48 WAR ... and a MVP. It will be interesting to see what happens with Rollins who comes on in 2022 and is probably as deserving as Omar -- I suppose he could gum things up for him.

Ripken's first ballot of course had Gwynn on it. It wasn't a particularly strong ballot but it was reasonably crowded with back-loggers who would make it (2 by VC). Interesting it had Concepcion (14th) and Trammell (6th) on it. No-hit Ripken is not much better than Concepcion and is clearly worse than Trammell ... although the writers treated Trammell only a little better than Concepcion. It's hard for me to see 95-100 OPS+ Ripken doing substantially better than Trammell who was stuck around 15% in those days. Despite a series of pretty weak ballots, Trammell didn't crack 25% until 2012. The in 2013, the tsunami starts and by 2014, Trammell is back down to 21% again.

Trammell -- 4 GG and a 2nd-place MVP, 6 AS, 71 WAR -- and Rollins are probably guides for how the other Ripken might have fared. Of course without the actual Ripken around, Trammell probably gets a lot more attention and maybe he'd have gotten voted in rather than being seen as a poor man's Ripken his whole career.

Still the Ripken you describe is really not that much better than Concepcion -- 9600 PA, 88 OPS+, 5 GG, 9 AS. At that time of course WAR played no part in HoF discussions -- even now it's far from clear that dWAR plays any part in HoF discussions. WAR certainly didn't do Lofton any good, it hasn't convinced that many voters of Andruw's worthiness, it may eventually bring enough people around on Rolen, it probably helped Walker. Still a 60-WAR defense and durability first Ripken is still only around 60 WAR -- without GG and MVP hardware, hard to make a case on that.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: September 07, 2020 at 07:11 PM (#5974946)
SS has turned into a very difficult position to rank all-time. It's considered a defensively crucial position. Jeter aside, you are only allowed to play it if you can handle it defensively -- not as extreme as C but much more so than any of the other positions. That means longevity has to play a significant role in ranking.

So Wagner is really the only guy with both a great prime (say 8-10 years) and longevity. You get other great primes like ARod, Banks and Vaughan but the first two spent only half their careers at SS and Vaughan didn't make it to 8,000 PAs. Ripken is pretty easily the next best candidate with a strong (somewhat inconsistent) prime and longevity at the position. (Ozzie, Appling, Larkin are the next best of that description.) So it comes down to how you feel about your prime vs. career value weighting -- ARod's prime is obviously good enough to put him in the mix for #2 behind Wagner but I can't see Ripken any worse than #3 once we take longevity into account. Vaughan and Banks are the next two prime-only candidates.

Let's not under-rate Ripken's prime either. Through age 30, he had 70 WAR, 47 WAA. His 56 WAR7 is 3rd to Wagner and ARod, just ahead of Vaughan and Banks. He's well ahead of Bourdreau, Yount (who I think has 1-2 CF seasons in his WAR7), Trammell, etc. And for career, even if you zeroed out his Rfield, he'd be around 77 WAR which would still be the equal of Vaughan, Yount, Ozzie and Appling.

As to the streak "hurting" the team -- none of us can really know but whatever Ripken may have lost playing 5-6 games too many may be gained back by the team not having to carry a back-up SS which should give them a little extra pop off the bench or allow them to platoon at an extra position. If the extra time had that big of a negative effect on his performance, then he was probably hurting himself (in terms of numbers, $, all-time greatness) at least as much as the team.

It is a weird thing to do. It's a particularly weird thing to do in Sept of a mediocre season with a 40-man roster. Take a day off. A bit like a guy I used to play softball with -- nice guy, excellent player, certainly the best I played with, maybe better than anybody I played against, not that I was a serious softballer -- but the guy just couldn't chill. In college, even against the drama team, he had to play SS every inning -- and he hated playing that game because (surprise) the drama people didn't take it particularly seriously and, since we knew we were gonna win 25-3 or whatever, neither did the rest of us. He was clearly having an actual bad time playing softball on a nice spring day. (He seemed perfectly fine with, say, softball at a cookout or whatever, I think it was the "official competition" that required full competitiveness at all times.)
   27. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 07, 2020 at 07:29 PM (#5974951)
It's considered a defensively crucial position. Jeter aside, you are only allowed to play it if you can handle it defensively -- not as extreme as C but much more so than any of the other positions. That means longevity has to play a significant role in ranking.


Pardon me, but how does any of that lead to the conclusion that longevity should play a more significant role in ranking, then say RF or 1b?

Of course, longevity should probably play a role in any sort of all time ranking. Not arguing that. BUt you are saying that because it has significance to defense we should over emphasize longevity? Why? cause its defense. Why?

Also if you really but into this argument, why is Rabbit Maranville not in this essay?
   28. Howie Menckel Posted: September 07, 2020 at 07:44 PM (#5974954)
post 23 comment being written by Pasta-diving Jeter is glorious.

a pal of mine said I need to wrap up the rights to my description of him as "gracefully slow."

it gets at the same issue. I think the side-by-side video I have seen was Jeter v Vizquel.

almost simultaneously with the swing, Vizquel is in motion. Jeter - not so much.

then the ball rockets forward, and Vizquel is in perfect position and makes the play - as opposed to Pasta-diving Jeter.
   29. baxter Posted: September 07, 2020 at 07:45 PM (#5974955)
25-26

Yes, I see.

I do like the Rollins comparison.

It seems that 2nd half Ripken was a better hitter than career Concepcion
   30. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 07, 2020 at 08:30 PM (#5974963)
Jeter aside, you are only allowed to play it if you can handle it defensively -- not as extreme as C but much more so than any of the other positions.


Really? Does this make any sense? If someone can create say 40 runs more offensive than the avg. SS, but gives up say 20 runs on defense, that's a net positive, isnt it? And isnt it more likely that that player will play? over another SS who's say saves 10 runs on def. above avg and gives up 10 runs on offensive vs the avg SS.

I mean isnt this pretty basic? Shouldnt this be like baseball sabermetrics 101? How is it we cant even get past these basic considerations?
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: September 07, 2020 at 08:51 PM (#5974966)
I missed this thread when it was posted, and didn't realize it would turn out to be an actual good thread, so I apologize if I'm going to ruin it, but I'm going to read through it and respond as I'm reading, as this appears to be the best baseball thread we've gotten in a while.

I apologize in advance... I'm not Walt, so my comments will definitely not approach his level of sophistication, but still I enjoy these threads.
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: September 07, 2020 at 09:19 PM (#5974969)
OK, with the benefit of 25 years since breaking the record, and almost 20 years since he's been retired:

1) How do you look back at his consecutive games streak? It's remarkable, to be sure - but does it feel selfish, in hindsight? I mean, do you feel like he put his record before the team , particularly in the last third or so of the streak?



At the time many people wondered the question, but I don't think it really was.... I'm critical of my own Cardinal Player (Yadier Molina, Scott Rolen and Matt Carpenter) who I all think played too many consecutive games when they shouldn't have, as it felt like it to me that their days off improved their ability, but all three of my guys had issues---catcher, shoulder injury, and just a lack of concentration.... with Ripken, it really wasn't unusual for infielders to play 150 games a season, Ozzie Smith played 153 or more games a season 10 times, and the seasons he didn't were usually because of injury not because of needing a day off... I don't think the positions that I think of as flexible positions really have issues on an in year basis (2b, ss and cf.... I do think they have issues consecutive seasons as I think they are more prone to hamstring injuries that eventually have a lingering effect on the long term health and ability, but Ripken was more or less a firstbaseman body at short)

I think the streak was and is remarkable. I give bonus points beyond raw war for healthy seasons to be honest when I evaluate a player. Health saves the team from using lesser players, even if that particular players numbers get a minor hit in quality.

2) He's a Hall of Famer, legend, etc., but the last 10 years of his career are pretty eh, yes? I mean, for the last 45% or so of his career (1992-2001):
1363 GP, 172 HRs, 753 RBIs, .271/.329/.424/.753, OPS+ of 97...but until the end, they had to play him every day.


That quote is doing a lot of lumping... his last 3 seasons he was a part time player, and even then he was a pretty good player... 1.4 war at age 39 in 83 games.... 2.7 war at age 38 in 86 games.... I don't think there was any reason to take a guy off the field who if you ignore his last season produced 27.2 war, and 9.0 waa over those last 9 years... Most teams would be happy to get an average of 3.0 war production out of any player.


3) Who career looks the most like Ripken's? There's a case for Yaz, who was a lot more useful than Ripken at the plate right until the end in large part because he walked so much compared to Ripken (but was largely a 1B/DH the last several years, as compared to a SS). Maybe Ernie Banks? Where does Ripken fit in your pantheon of all-time baseball players? I sense that his legend is bigger than the performance would dictate.


He's a (roughly) 100 war player, he ranks right around other 100 war players... I think I've got a list of about 12 comparables using Stathead, and I'll throw out Pujols and Foxx from that list (using war better than 85 less than 110; waa greater than 48 and less than 63 as criteria) I think Eddie Mathews is obviously superior, Adrian Beltre probably below(but if you want to include him, I'm not going to argue) ... Chipper barely makes the list so we'll throw him out... Yaz, Kaline, Brett, Clemente, Boggs and Anson still remain... I'll throw out Anson and Clemente for various reasons..... leaving Yaz/Kaline, Brett and Boggs as comparables.... I'm fine with that...

Ultimately Ripken is what I would call second tier hofer, clearly deserving and one of the best ever, but not on the stupid high level that you put Mays/Ruth/Cobb/Aaron etc. Guys who did both peak and career...
   33. cardsfanboy Posted: September 07, 2020 at 09:23 PM (#5974970)
3. I don’t think my opinion of Ripken has changed dramatically since his playing days. He was a truly great player for a long time who probably hung on a bit too long. I think The Streak is somewhat comparable to Hank Aaron’s home run record. It is such an overwhelming part of his story that it obscures what a great player he was. At the end of the day Ripken is one of the top five shortstops in baseball history right? Wagner, A-Rod, Vaughan, Banks, Ozzie, Jeter, anyone else with even a whiff of an argument? Forget about the streak, if you are top five all time at a position, doubly so for one of the glamour positions of the game, you are an inner circle Hall of Famer. I say this as someone who found the lionizing of Ripken a bit tiresome and never considered himself a big fan of Ripken’s.


That is somewhat part of the issue, the streak might actually detract from how great Ripken was. I'm not sure that there is any argument that could be made that he isn't a top five shortstop of all time... You have to include players who's career wasn't fully shortstops to block him.... A-rod is always the interesting argument, but really it's Wagner, Ripken, Arod as the 1-2-3 for that position and I don't think it's possible to argue for anyone else. Vaughan just doesn't have the career, even with war credit. And nobody else is in the discussion... Not Ozzie, not Banks, not Jeter.
   34. cardsfanboy Posted: September 07, 2020 at 09:33 PM (#5974974)
Ripken peaked young, so his career always felt a bit like a letdown. I do think he would have been a little better playing 150 games a year than he was at 162–but I can’t prove that at all.


I don't even understand that argument, Ripken's best season by war was his age 30 season. Obviously most of his great seasons were prior to age 30, but if you look at his war, you get 23 and 22 great seasons, but his top seasons were in order at age

1. 30
2. 23
3. 22
4. 29
5. 28
6. 25
7. 27
8. 24
9. 21
10. 31
11. 33
(all of these are 4.0+ war seasons) (next 3 are 3.8... or 3.9)
12. 34
13. 35

basically he aged as you would expect a player to age, a rare great season while young, a great season at 30, and a peak in his late 20's

To put it another way.... 21-25 he put up 35 war...26-30 he put up 34.7 war... That is in line with expectations, 19.4 war the next five years might have been a drop, but there was two strike years in there when he was still putting up 3.8. war....so he aged as most superstars, but he didn't really have a young peak.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: September 07, 2020 at 09:47 PM (#5974981)
Yes he could play deeper because he had strong arm and great hands, but I always thought a lot more balls got through the middle than other teams w/ rangier SS. Comparing his range factor to Ozzie's leaves me to question whether he was better than Oz.


I"m not sure about this comment... I don't think anyone says Ripken was better than oz defensively. Just going by rfield and Ripken is about 50 runs below Oz, but Oz was no longer Oz his last 3-5 seasons, he couldn't throw for crap (need surgery for his shoulder) and was at best an average fielder at that point in time and everyone knew it... Meanwhile Ripken kept throwing the ball and positioning himself well.. and yes he didn't have the range of Ozzie or Vizquel or Ordonez or others, but as you pointed out, he played deeper and made up for it with his arm and instincts..... He was absolutely a plus fielder throughout his most of his career. Any advantage you see in the defensive ratings can be called a product of playing time, at the same time he was pretty good defensively and of course the ratings we have are still a bit flawed, but yes he was a plus, plus defender.
   36. Walt Davis Posted: September 07, 2020 at 09:52 PM (#5974988)
#27 ... because it is consistent on how baseball is played. Historically (perhaps less so now), players shift back and forth between LF and RF and (as they aged) 1B throughout their careers. Actual baseball decision-makers historically acted as if they considered those positions pretty interchangeable. There were times that Ruth was shuttled LF-RF in the same game. For his career he's credited with 1118 starts in RF and 1040 in LF. Look at Ruth's playing record -- at 25, more RF than LF; at 26, almost all LF; at 27 about 2:1 LF; at 28 majority RF; at 29 2:1 RF; at 30 2:1 RF; at 31 majority LF ... His teams didn't see him as one or the other, they didn't care a whole lot which one he played, so why should we?

Stan Musial is of course the classic example. Frank Robinson had about 1200 starts in RF, 750 in LF and 300 each at 1B and DH. You could pick a modern guy like Yelich who is 492, 246, 189 starts across LF/CF/RF or Bellinger who is 205 at 1B, 102 in CF, 105 in RF and 37 in LF.

Frank is another one. He was mostly a LF in his first couple of years but also a good number of CF starts. Then at 23 he was mostly 1B; then 50/50 1B/LF at 24; then majority LF/RF; then 152 starts in RF; then 103 starts in LF; then majority RF/LF. Then he has a couple of years of nearly all RF; then 3:1 RF then 1.5:1 RF; then mostly RF with increasing 1B.

Whereas with C, you C catches. You might mix him in at 3B, 1B, DH, OF to keep his bat in the lineup if he's Bench. He might reach a point when he can no longer catch at which point he no longer catches.

Things aren't quite so extreme at SS but there are very few guys who are regular starters with, say, 120 starts at SS and 30 at 2B much less 50/50. You get the occasional Gleyber or Javy but you particularly don't see that with good players in their 20s. Again, eventually they may no longer be able to play SS -- at which point they pretty much never play SS again. More likely is they can no longer hit and they shift into a backup IF role.

2B/3B/CF also tend to be pretty stable positions, CF at least until the guy's speed starts to go. But within a season, a starting 2B/3B will usually spend the entire season there. For guys who can handle CF then nearly always they will be in CF when they are on the field. You get cases like Damon/Beltran or you get cases where the team is not getting enough offense out of their CF and will start somebody else there for 30 games a year but that is not a guy we typically consider in all-time or HoF discussions.

So star Cs play C until they can't. In putting together an all-time list, it seems obvious to me that we have to put strong weight on longevity (not necessarily determinative but strong). Star SS play SS until they can't. With rare exceptions, star 2B/3B/CF play nearly one position until they can't but there's a bit more flexibility there. But LF/RF particularly flip around a lot. "Career 1B" was a pretty uncommon phenomenon for a good chunk of baseball history -- before the DH, it's where aging slugger OFs often went to finish their career and guys in their 20s who are starting 1B are usually not particularly athletic and often don't last long (old man skills).

Obviously specific team dynamics, etc. play a role in specific situations. ARod was pretty clearly still more than capable of playing SS when he went to the Yanks but possibly the move to 3B allowed him to bulk up some and add power? Given most good SS can play 3B and given ARod proved he could play a good 3B at least in his early 30s, one might be able to better make a case for ARod vs Schmidt than ARod vs Wagner.

Anyway, basically, it seems silly to me to have a debate as to whether Ruth was a real RF and how much to "penalize" him relative to, say, Clemente who was clearly a true RF (2237 of 2299 career starts). Clearly no reason to pretend Clemente was a LF or Ted Williams was a RF but teams are pretty flexible on OF positions and, historically, were pretty flexible on 1B ... and clearly there's absolutely nothing special about a career DH. Defensive ability obviously factors into our ranking and, with the possible exception of guys who spend reasonable time in CF (Musial, Yelich, Bellinger to date), being shifted LF/RF or spending substantial time at 1B/DH is probably indicative of limited defensive ability (but probably less limited than guys exclusive to LF and especially 1B and obviously DH), so Clemente gets credit for being such a great defender but not really for being able to hold the position.

So that Larkin, Ozzie, Ripken, Appling were all able to stick at SS for 2000+ starts while Banks and Yount weren't is a big deal -- it may or may not be a big enough deal to rank them ahead but it should be a significant part of the evaluation. That Mauer, Torre and Tenace didn't even make it to 900 starts at C should be an important factor in assessing where they should rank. That Ruth, Robinson, Musial didn't have a dominant position really shouldn't matter because they jumped around positions where players have regularly jumped around. That Trout might spend his 30s in a corner while Mays stayed in CF forever should matter but probably not as much as it would at SS/C. In assessing Wade Boggs (91 WAR, 2100+ starts at 3B), Chipper (85 WAR, 1900+ starts at 3B) and Brett (89 WAR, 1600+ at 3B, about 1000 at 1B/DH), I would lean away from Brett.

DH is the most obvious one. If we were putting together an all-time starting lineup, we wouldn't care that Ted Williams (or whoever) had never played DH. As great as Edgar was, if we were putting together a post-80 all-star team, I'm putting Pujols at 1B and (I'm pretty sure) Miggy at DH ... unless I need room for another stud OF. One wouldn't but if you thought Musial was a better player than Gehrig (and Foxx), I'd have no problem with you making Musial the starting 1B -- I suppose it's him or Pujols as all-time NL 1B.

If we had a lot of guys who played 120 games at SS and 40 at 3B at 21 then it was the other way around at 22 then they were back at SS at 23 then split SS/2B at 24 then ... and those guys made serious HoF cases ... we'd have a case that the ability to play SS is not a big deal in the game of baseball. And betwen shifting and the curious statcast numbers of the last few years, maybe we're moving in that direction.

   37. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 07, 2020 at 09:53 PM (#5974989)
Arod wasn't really a SS. It's true that he got more than half of his WAR there, but not by much. He won two of his three MVPs at third. He played more games at short than at third, but only barely, and he played more games after the switch to third than he did at short (because he DH'd more later in his career). He's not a SS in the way that Banks is a SS, he was great even after the move. He's more like a SS in the way that Stan Musial is a first baseman.

If Arod isn't counted at short, I think Ripken ends up as second all-time for the position. CFB is pretty stingy with his tiers, but the all-time list for SS does seem to be surprisingly weak. Probably because for so much of baseball history teams were content to punt on offense out of a shortstop.
   38. Ron J Posted: September 07, 2020 at 10:38 PM (#5974997)
#27 Maranville is very odd. He got shifted off SS for Glenn Wright. Not because he couldn't handle SS but simply because Wright threw so well and they didn't want to waste his arm (It's not common for people to talk about an infielder's arm the way they did about Wright's. Basically a ++ 3B arm playing short). Or shift Pie Traynor off third.

So the best defensive SS in the game got shifted to second. And then really stopped hitting. And then ended up in the minors.
   39. Howie Menckel Posted: September 07, 2020 at 11:09 PM (#5975007)
HOM SSs by rank

that's back in 2008, so several including Jeter not eligible

SPOILER ALERT
Wagner
Pop Lloyd
Ripken
Vaughan
GDavis

20 more in the link

and some more modern SS chatter in the comments
   40. caspian88 Posted: September 07, 2020 at 11:50 PM (#5975022)
I think Rodriguez is a shortstop in much the same way Brett is a 3B or Young is a SS - his best years were mostly at shortstop.

In eight full seasons as a shortstop, Rodriguez earned 354 batting runs in about 5500 plate appearances, with good defense and baserunning. His first eight years with the Yankees, which are pretty much his eight best years as a third baseman, give him 283 batting runs in almost 5000 plate appearances, again with good defense and baserunning. Add on his ninth year and his PA are nearly identical but he was still more valuable as a hitter when he was a shortstop. He just had more big years when he was a Mariner or Ranger than a Yankee; he was just better when he was a SS than a 3B.

Rodriguez's case as a shortstop is a less extreme version of Banks' case. Anyway, I stick players at one primary position and then evaluate their entire careers as players, and Rodriguez would have to rank ahead of Ripken as a player, behind only Wagner among players who were primarily MLB shortstops.
   41. BDC Posted: September 08, 2020 at 12:04 PM (#5975049)
Single seasons by SS that resemble Ripken's career averages, age 31-40 (the 97-OPS+ half of his career). Hey, what's he doing on his own list.

Player           Year  PA OPS+  SLG HR RBI   BA
Paul DeJong      2019 664   97 .444 30  78 .233
Jimmy Rollins    2012 699   98 .427 23  68 .250
Miguel Tejada    1999 674   95 .427 21  84 .251
Cal Ripken Jr
.   1993 718   97 .420 24  90 .257
Al Dark          1954 693   98 .446 20  70 .293
Glenn Wright     1924 662   96 .425  7 111 .287 


Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 9/8/2020.
   42. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 08, 2020 at 12:55 PM (#5975053)
Somebody mention Maranville?

Hell, I'd love to see a team give players legitimate days off, where they don't even have to show up at the ballpark. Hey, go play some golf, take the family to the beach. We've got this.


This runs up against the traditional American view that real men don't take vacations, you should be at work every day even if your sick or there's a blizzard or what have you.
   43. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: September 08, 2020 at 01:14 PM (#5975058)
I guess I'm my father's son - he loved Cal Ripken Jr. and I did too. Both of us thought the streak was fantastic. My dad has always been a man who valued showing up every day and giving your best, whatever that was for that particular day. He instilled the same value in me. Whenever I used to look at the back of a baseball card, I would first look at games played for a given season and I would love seeing that 162 there. I'm sympathetic to injuries, and I get that there might be benefit to rest days, but I won't deny that they bother me a little bit.

It's possible that a player's motivation to be in the lineup every day is selfish, but in my mind, showing up every day ready to play is selfless. It doesn't matter how I feel, what nagging injuries I may have, or how my performance has been: I'm here and I'm going to give you whatever I have. Now, if a manager or trainer doesn't think I'm healthy enough or effective enough to be in the lineup, so be it. But I'm going to do whatever I can to be there for my teammates.
   44. Ron J Posted: September 08, 2020 at 01:29 PM (#5975065)
#42 I know Connie Mack actually did that kind of thing from time to time to save a few bucks. Wouldn't bring along a few players on short road trips.
   45. Gch Posted: September 08, 2020 at 01:48 PM (#5975071)
#42 I know Connie Mack actually did that kind of thing from time to time to save a few bucks. Wouldn't bring along a few players on short road trips.


And it supposedly cost Eddie Rommel his career:

The Athletics traveled to Cleveland for one make-up game, and to save on travel expenses, Connie Mack took along only two pitchers, Rommel and rookie Lew Krausse, who started. Krausse was ineffective and Rommel, who had pitched in relief in the previous two games, took over for Krausse at the start of the second inning. Both teams scored frequently, and the game went into extra innings tied 15-15. Rommel soldiered on and emerged victorious when the Athletics scored a run in the 18th inning. Eddie gave up 29 hits, nine walks, and 14 runs in his 17 innings of relief. (The losing pitcher, Wes Ferrell, gave up 12 hits and eight runs in 11? innings.) It was Rommel’s 171st and last major-league victory. “I was 34 at the time, and I had worked the two previous days. It never occurred to me that I’d have to go more than a couple of innings, if any. It was the end of me as a pitcher, too.” Rommel finished the season but was not himself anymore and Mack released him after the season.
   46. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: September 08, 2020 at 02:50 PM (#5975077)
This runs up against the traditional American view that real men don't take vacations, you should be at work every day even if your sick or there's a blizzard or what have you.


I do believe that you should be at work every day unless you're very sick, but I also believe very strongly in taking vacations. Baseball players get four months of vacation (yes, I know they still do some workouts in the offseason, but they essentially get to do whatever they want). During the season, I think players who are there every day provide additional value to their teams.

Ripken's stability and everyday presence in the lineup was valuable to the Orioles.
   47. SoSH U at work Posted: September 08, 2020 at 02:58 PM (#5975078)
I do believe that you should be at work every day unless you're very sick, but I also believe very strongly in taking vacations. Baseball players get four months of vacation (yes, I know they still do some workouts in the offseason, but they essentially get to do whatever they want). During the season, I think players who are there every day provide additional value to their teams.


I think players benefit from time off. And if you're going to give them the day off, make it count. I think a few legitimate days off per year would create more refreshed and happier ballplayers, and would more than offset the unlikely chance that the player in question was desperately needed in a given game. Obviously, you wouldn't allow more than one player to get the same game off, but yeah, I think an enterprising team would be wise to give this a go. I can't imagine the players wouldn't appreciate it.

   48. Ziggy: social distancing since 1980 Posted: September 08, 2020 at 04:04 PM (#5975091)
I do believe that you should be at work every day unless you're very sick, but I also believe very strongly in taking vacations.


The two parts of this statement don't make sense together.

Traditionally in Japanese baseball (no doubt vortex can let us know if this continues) taking any time off was considered an unpardonable sin, reflecting, as it did, insufficient dedication to the team. So, for example, players were expected to be at the ballpark rather than be present when their children are born. To do otherwise was to risk benching or being released. So there are (or at least were) baseball teams that subscribed to JAHV's philosophy (except for the taking vacations part - in Japan spring training starts in February and consists in all-day workouts plus exhibition games, and the season is followed by a "voluntary" training camp). One might consider this to be unhealthy.
   49. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: September 08, 2020 at 04:40 PM (#5975094)
The two parts of this statement don't make sense together.


My guess is that since he's counting off season as vacation he doesn't see a need for in season vacations.

I take issue with the very sick part. Coming to work a little sick is how you get very sick. And also how you get other people sick. All the sudden one or two sick days for one person turns into 30 across 5 people.
   50. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: September 08, 2020 at 05:01 PM (#5975101)
My guess is that since he's counting off season as vacation he doesn't see a need for in season vacations.
I strongly suspect that even accounting for a lighter offseason, the amount of time the average ballplayer spends on their job--counting practice, drills, video, physical conditioning, travel, media & related team responsibilities, etc.--in a year *at least* equals the average working stiff.
   51. SoSH U at work Posted: September 08, 2020 at 05:07 PM (#5975106)
I strongly suspect that even accounting for a lighter offseason, the amount of time the average ballplayer spends on their job--counting practice, drills, video, physical conditioning, travel, media & related team responsibilities, etc.--in a year *at least* equals the average working stiff.


I don't see any way that wouldn't be the case. The season is typically 162 days worth of games, and they're expected to be at all of them. Spring training is another 40 days or so, and again, attendance is mandatory. One-third of the teams make the playoffs, adding another week to a month to the schedule. Many of the off days in season are spent traveling, which is chalked up as work-related when I do it. Throw in any off-season work, and surely they're spending as many, if not many more, days working than we are.
   52. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: September 08, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5975111)
@SoSH, I suspect when people make the counter argument, they are taking a very minimalist view of how much "work" time a typical game day (without travel) counts as.
   53. SoSH U at work Posted: September 08, 2020 at 05:48 PM (#5975121)

@SoSH, I suspect when people make the counter argument, they are taking a very minimalist view of how much "work" time a typical game day (without travel) counts as.


I'm sure they are, as well, as "It's a kid's game" and "I'd play it for free," types of thinking. But I would imagine a ballplayer spends pretty close to or more than eight hours at the park on game day (arrive at 2, out at 11). The other days (Spring Training, travel, etc.) would probably be shorter on average.
   54. CStallion Posted: September 08, 2020 at 10:01 PM (#5975210)
I'm sure someone somewhere looked into this.

Would the Os win more games with the actual Ripken or a hypothetical version that played 152 a year with same counting stats (ie slightly better rate stats) and a meh backup starting the other 10?

I suspect the difference is not significant but am curious whether even a slight edge can be found one way or another.

   55. Lest we forget Posted: September 09, 2020 at 03:25 AM (#5975247)
Ripken is obviously a big deal in the annals of the game; his WAR tally supports that.

And you can argue without sounding ridiculous that he's the second greatest shortstop in MLB history. He's iconic.

That said, the 'streak' has lost its allure for me. Color me curmudgeon, but I liked it when Gehrig had it. That felt authentic. Ripken, for me, felt manufactured. Go figure. I know that opinion lacks objectivity, but I stick with it and attribute my fandom for Gehrig when i was young buck. Ripken in general never clicked for me.

On a side note, I never fail to be fascinated by hitters who have that small handful of outlier seasonal batting averages. From age 26-32, Ripken's BA looks like this:

.252
.264
.257
.250
.323
.251
.257

Does any other player in history have a seven year run similar to that? Other than Ripken, who did something very similar from ages 34-40.

.262
.278
.270
.271
.340
.256
.239




   56. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 09, 2020 at 08:19 AM (#5975254)
That said, the 'streak' has lost its allure for me. Color me curmudgeon, but I liked it when Gehrig had it. That felt authentic. Ripken, for me, felt manufactured. Go figure. I know that opinion lacks objectivity, but I stick with it and attribute my fandom for Gehrig when i was young buck. Ripken in general never clicked for me.


FWIW the Gehrig streak was manufactured. 6 times from 1932-1937 he had a game with a single PA including a game in 1934 where he lead off as the "shortstop" and was pinch run for immediately after singling.
   57. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: September 09, 2020 at 10:17 AM (#5975285)
Streak, shmeak. You've got a once-in-a-generation talent in Cal Ripken. He's not hurt -- hell, the man never gets hurt -- and he wants to play. Why would you not play him? To prove a point?
   58. SoSH U at work Posted: September 09, 2020 at 10:19 AM (#5975286)
Why would you not play him?


Because you believe he would perform better overall with occasional rest.

   59. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: September 09, 2020 at 10:46 AM (#5975301)
@SoSH, I suspect when people make the counter argument, they are taking a very minimalist view of how much "work" time a typical game day (without travel) counts as.


I know it's a lot of work, and while I haven't done the math to determine how much more or less work it is than the average person holding a full-time job, I'm sure it's comparable. However, their job consists of playing 162 games of baseball (and the training required to do it). They are well compensated for it. There are grueling aspects of it, but there are also a lot of perks. Barring injuries, players should prepare to play all 162 games. Their vacation (four months of it) is in the offseason.

The two parts of this statement don't make sense together.

Traditionally in Japanese baseball (no doubt vortex can let us know if this continues) taking any time off was considered an unpardonable sin, reflecting, as it did, insufficient dedication to the team. So, for example, players were expected to be at the ballpark rather than be present when their children are born. To do otherwise was to risk benching or being released. So there are (or at least were) baseball teams that subscribed to JAHV's philosophy (except for the taking vacations part - in Japan spring training starts in February and consists in all-day workouts plus exhibition games, and the season is followed by a "voluntary" training camp). One might consider this to be unhealthy.


Why don't those two parts make sense together? I believe very strongly in being there for work if you are physically and mentally able. It's a commitment I believe that it's important to honor. However, I also believe very strongly in a commitment to family. I don't consider taking time off for the birth of a child or death of a loved one to be vacation. I consider that an important family obligation, and I would never begrudge a player for doing so. And, in a way, I consider other vacation to be a family obligation as well. It's very important to take good chunks of time to be with one's family, whether that's traveling or having fun at home or whatever.

Most jobs provide paid time off as part of their contract with their employees ("contract" used loosely here). Employees should take as much of that as they can. Baseball provides players with four months off. Yes, they have to be away from their families on weekends during the season, but that large chunk of uninterrupted time seems to me like good compensation for that.
   60. Darren Posted: September 09, 2020 at 11:08 AM (#5975309)
Ripken is no doubt an all-time great, and I don't think his wanting to be in the lineup every day was selfish, it more likely driven by his competitiveness and commitment. But I do think the evidence points to it hurting his performance. He hit considerably worse as the season went on, and it's reasonable to assume that a bit more rest here or there and chances to heal some nagging injuries would have helped.
   61. BDC Posted: September 09, 2020 at 11:18 AM (#5975316)
Does any other player in history have a seven year run similar to that?

There are a few: Glenn Beckert, Darin Erstad. Or the occasional surprise batting champion, like Freddy Sanchez - though Sanchez didn't play as long and his career BA was a bit higher than Beckert's or Erstad's (or Ripken's).
   62. SoSH U at work Posted: September 09, 2020 at 11:19 AM (#5975317)

Ripken is no doubt an all-time great, and I don't think his wanting to be in the lineup every day was selfish, it more likely driven by his competitiveness and commitment. But I do think the evidence points to it hurting his performance. He hit considerably worse as the season went on, and it's reasonable to assume that a bit more rest here or there and chances to heal some nagging injuries would have helped.


Exactly. I don't hold it against Ripken that he wanted to play everyday. That's admirable. I just don't think it was in his or the team's best interests, and it's the job of the manager/FO to recognize that.
   63. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: September 09, 2020 at 12:06 PM (#5975324)
Exactly. I don't hold it against Ripken that he wanted to play everyday. That's admirable. I just don't think it was in his or the team's best interests, and it's the job of the manager/FO to recognize that.


I don't disagree with this. I think it's great when a player can prepare himself mentally and physically well enough (and have the good fortune) to play 162 games. However, the manager is in charge. And if he says you need to sit, then that's the way it is.

As for Ripken, it's obvious his constitution was good enough to continue to produce well despite the grind of playing everyday. And I'm not convinced that the decline in his performance from playing that often was greater than the the decline the Orioles would have experienced by playing someone else there once a month. Ripken was a fantastic player for most of his career - he could very well have been the Orioles' best option for 162 games per season. And by the end, even though he might not have been great any longer, the streak meant enough to Orioles fans that it made sense to keep it going for entertainment purposes.
   64. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: September 09, 2020 at 01:07 PM (#5975340)
As for Ripken, it's obvious his constitution was good enough to continue to produce well despite the grind of playing everyday. And I'm not convinced that the decline in his performance from playing that often was greater than the the decline the Orioles would have experienced by playing someone else there once a month. Ripken was a fantastic player for most of his career - he could very well have been the Orioles' best option for 162 games per season. And by the end, even though he might not have been great any longer, the streak meant enough to Orioles fans that it made sense to keep it going for entertainment purposes.

Yes. If you consider the "decline years" as having started in 1997 (the first time since Ripken's rookie year in '81 he didn't get at least 3 WAR), he was already close to the record. And it's not like the guy couldn't still play, putting up a very credible 8 WAR from 1997-2000, so, why not? What, you're gonna start Jeff Reboulet and his career 72 OPS+ instead? (Maybe he didn't need to play every single inning of every game, but...)
   65. sunday silence (again) Posted: September 09, 2020 at 01:50 PM (#5975355)
Does anyone have any sort of quantitative measure of how much better Ripken was than Jeter?
   66. Rally Posted: September 09, 2020 at 02:07 PM (#5975360)
Does any other player in history have a seven year run similar to that?


Ripken also hit .315 in the middle of those stretches, the short 1994 season. So for a 15 year stretch, he hits .340, .323, .315, and in the other 12 years never even reaches .280.

   67. Darren Posted: September 09, 2020 at 02:37 PM (#5975369)
As for Ripken, it's obvious his constitution was good enough to continue to produce well despite the grind of playing everyday. And I'm not convinced that the decline in his performance from playing that often was greater than the the decline the Orioles would have experienced by playing someone else there once a month.


I'm not convinced either but I'm not not convinced.
   68. Darren Posted: September 09, 2020 at 02:40 PM (#5975371)
oes anyone have any sort of quantitative measure of how much better Ripken was than Jeter?


There is a stat called WAR that has Ripken at 95.9 and Jeter at 71.3.

   69. Ron J Posted: September 09, 2020 at 03:31 PM (#5975378)
#57 There are more than a few people who think he was in fact hurt in July/August of 1987 and/or July/August 1992 (but of course confirmation bias is real. If you're looking for signs of injury for a player in a prolonged slump you'll probably find it). And he played very badly in September/October of 1988 and 1989 and 1990 (consistent with the theory that he was running down as he got older.

And yeah it doesn't hold up dramatically but September/October was easily the worst month of his career (mostly due to that 3 year run I mentioned) and the next worst was August.
   70. The Honorable Ardo Posted: September 09, 2020 at 03:35 PM (#5975379)
Ripken had more total bases and more walks than Jeter in a similar # of PA (between 12.5K and 13K for both). I would not have guessed that.
   71. CFBF is Outside the Margin of Error Posted: September 09, 2020 at 04:21 PM (#5975387)
Ripken went 6-6 with six RBI and five runs scored in a 1999 game against the Braves that the Orioles won, 22-1 (that was the year Ripken hit .340 as a 38-year-old, albeit in only 86 games). Which makes me wonder, in that way trawling baseball-reference can often toss you into moderately interesting little cul-de-sacs: are the 1999 Braves the best team to lose a game by 20 runs? They went 103-59. And the Orioles were a 78-84 team. Kind of wonder what the probability is of a 78-win team beating a 103-win team by 21 runs. And in a game started by John Smoltz, not some unqualified, pressed-into-service emergency starter.
   72. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: September 09, 2020 at 04:22 PM (#5975388)
#57 There are more than a few people who think he was in fact hurt in July/August of 1987 and/or July/August 1992 (but of course confirmation bias is real. If you're looking for signs of injury for a player in a prolonged slump you'll probably find it). And he played very badly in September/October of 1988 and 1989 and 1990 (consistent with the theory that he was running down as he got older.


Assuming this is true, there isn't really anything that he could have done in 87, 88, or 90. The Orioles were bad with or without him and finished well out of the playoff picture.

However, 1989 was different. The Orioles finished two games behind the Blue Jays for the East title. They didn't seem to be a great team, but they were still in the hunt. Ripken was pretty awful that September (.198/.284/.356). A better Ripken might have made a difference and help them win two more games. Although, the games they really needed to win were games 160 and 161 when they were head-to-head against Toronto and lost by one run both times. Ripken went 2-5 with a double in game 160 when the Orioles lost 2 - 1. He did strand a runner on second base with two outs in the third. He lined out to deep left to lead off the 7th and would have been an insurance run had he reached as the batters after him went single-double. But those runners were stranded. Gregg Olson then wild-pitched the tying run in in the bottom of the 8th. Ripken led off the 10th with a single, but was stranded and the Blue Jays walked it off in the bottom of the 11th. I suppose you can say it depends on how well hit that line drive to left was (does a healthier, better rested Ripken hit it out?), but it's hard to blame a guy for going 2-5 with a double.

In game 161, Ripken did leave a guy stranded on third with one out when he popped up. He hit a ground-rule double to drive in a run and scored on a single later in the inning to put the Orioles up 3 - 1. But the Orioles bullpen blew the game again in the bottom of the 8th, after two walks, two singles, and a sacrifice fly put the Blue Jays up 4 - 3. One of those singles was between third and short. Does a haler Ripken get to the ball? Without seeing it, I have no idea. The two articles I read don't give any hints about it. The Orioles again lost by one, which ended their season and made their win in the next game moot.

I'm not really trying to make a point one way or the other. I think Ripken's streak was wonderful, and I love that he got out there every game. I will always feel that way. If his manager knew he was hurt or out of gas and left him in, that's on him, but I'm glad Ripken showed up and did everything he could to be in the lineup. However, tired/injured or not, at least for these two games, there doesn't appear to be strong evidence that he cost the Orioles the division. And would playing Rene Gonzalez at short few more games that season led to the Orioles having a better record in September? He was a league average fielder at short for his career, but he was a really bad hitter early in his career (52 OPS+ that season, which was worse than what Ripken did in September). I'm skeptical. He might have cost the Orioles a game early in the season that they otherwise won. It's impossible to know.

Interestingly, it strikes me as I skim the Orioles' schedule from that season that, despite their having a tight RS vs RA (708 vs 686), they played in a LOT of blowouts. I have no idea if they played in more than normal, but it seems like their games had a lot of variance. Just as an example, in one eight games stretch, they won by 10, won by one, lost by 10, lost by 11, won by seven, lost by four, won by seven, and won by eight. Maybe Frank Robinson could have gotten Ripken out of some of those blowouts. Ripken played all but 15 defensive innings that season.
   73. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: September 09, 2020 at 04:46 PM (#5975392)
Also, the Orioles probably get smoked by the A's in the '89 ALCS just like the Blue Jays did, but you never know. Division title flags fly forever, if a little lower than World Series flags.
   74. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: September 09, 2020 at 04:59 PM (#5975397)
If that '89 team had pulled it off it would have been a huge story. I remember them being the talk of baseball that year. After the disaster of 1988 it was something else.
   75. Moeball Posted: September 09, 2020 at 05:08 PM (#5975402)
Yes he could play deeper because he had strong arm and great hands, but I always thought a lot more balls got through the middle than other teams w/ rangier SS.


I can't believe a thread about Cal Ripken keeps bringing us back to Jeter. That anyone considered Ripken a liability defensively going to his left in a world with Derek Jeter is mind boggling.

Arod wasn't really a SS.


Yes he was.

However, the manager is in charge. And if he says you need to sit, then that's the way it is.


Except in NY, where the day Alex Rodriguez joined the team the manager should have moved Derek Jeter off of shortstop permanently, but the manager wasn't in charge. A-Rod was a better offensive player than Jeter and a better fielding shortstop yet he didn't get the starting shortstop job. In all of major league history I can't think of another situation where the clearly inferior player was handed the starting job at such a key position.

Ripken also hit .315 in the middle of those stretches, the short 1994 season. So for a 15 year stretch, he hits .340, .323, .315, and in the other 12 years never even reaches .280.


C'mon, guys, it's the year 2020 and you're still talking about batting averages as if they are meaningful statistical measures? Have we learned nothing in the last 40 years? Is this like that movie where the Beatles suddenly never existed but in this version no one ever heard of Bill James or Pete Palmer?
   76. SoSH U at work Posted: September 09, 2020 at 05:21 PM (#5975404)
C'mon, guys, it's the year 2020 and you're still talking about batting averages as if they are meaningful statistical measures?


Cal Ripken was a much better hitter when he was hitting .320 than when he was hitting .250, with or without the existence of Pete Palmer.
   77. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: September 09, 2020 at 05:26 PM (#5975407)
C'mon, guys, it's the year 2020 and you're still talking about batting averages as if they are meaningful statistical measures? Have we learned nothing in the last 40 years? Is this like that movie where the Beatles suddenly never existed but in this version no one ever heard of Bill James or Pete Palmer?


Are you trolling or do you really believe that batting average is meaningless? I agree there are better statistical measures of a player's hitting ability, but batting average is still a valuable statistic in terms of a player's batting profile. It gives me some idea of the type of hitter it is, or at least the type of season a hitter had.

Putting that point aside, I think Rally was getting at the statistical oddities of Ripken's outlier seasons. He had above average power and patience, but he was pretty consistently a .260 hitter. That he put up several seasons well above .300 in batting average is interesting for a guy who played 162 games every year. It's remarkable in the literal sense even if you think batting average doesn't tell us much about a hitter's value.
   78. TomH Posted: September 09, 2020 at 05:57 PM (#5975411)
re: A-Rod and shortstop;

he is either the 2nd best SS ever, or one of the two best third basemen ever. He could be both, but to disqualify him for SS when he obviously COULD have played SS much longer, and heck probably WOULD have if any other team besides the guys with the Captainwhoshallnotmove acquired him, so yes, the list of greatest ever shortstops goes 1 Wagner 2 A-Rod 3 begin arguing, probably Cal, but maybe Pop Lloyd or someone else. And that's even discounting for steroids if you wish. This isn't Banks or Yount who couldn't make it work anymore part way thru their careers. Ruth was LF-RF, but he counts in RF if you want. Musial counts in 1B or LF. Don't unlist people due to some artificial thing. Rose, Killebrew, I get, those are different cases.
   79. Moeball Posted: September 09, 2020 at 06:41 PM (#5975420)
OK, last one, then I'll shut up after this:

Cal Ripken was a much better hitter when he was hitting .320 than when he was hitting .250, with or without the existence of Pete Palmer.


All I know is that Ripken was NOT a better hitter in 1994 when he hit .315 than, say, 1990 when he hit .250. Or 1982 when he hit .264. Or 1988 when he batted .264.
   80. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: September 09, 2020 at 08:05 PM (#5975437)
All I know is that Ripken was NOT a better hitter in 1994 when he hit .315 than, say, 1990 when he hit .250. Or 1982 when he hit .264. Or 1988 when he batted .264.


He was a better hitter in 1991 when he hit .323. And a better hitter in 1999 when he hit .340.
   81. The Honorable Ardo Posted: September 09, 2020 at 11:35 PM (#5975516)
Ripken went 6-6 with six RBI and five runs scored in a 1999 game against the Braves that the Orioles won, 22-1 (that was the year Ripken hit .340 as a 38-year-old, albeit in only 86 games).

That's one of the craziest games I've ever seen!

The 1999 Braves led the majors in ERA and allowed only 593 earned runs all season. 22 were in that game - almost 4% of their season total.

Will Clark, in 4 PA, went RBI double/2-RBI double/RBI double/solo homer before bowing out for Jeff Conine.

Brady Anderson led off and was the only Oriole starter not to score a run (including Mike Mussina).

Topping it off, calling balls and strikes: everybody's favorite umpire, Phil Cuzzi.

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