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Sunday, January 03, 2010

Camden Crazies: Just How Bad Of A Major Leaguer Would I Be?

Well, no, not me although the basic assumptions pretty much hold:

Beyond a general lack of physical ability*, I also don’t think I have the necessary mental toughness to play the sport – especially at that level. If I had to stand in there against a pitcher throwing 90+ mph projectiles not all that far away from me, my feet would be touching the chalk in the back corner of the batter’s box, I would be leaning back, and my eyes would very possibly be closed.

* My main position on our softball team is manager. I’m the youngest person on the team. At least a couple of people on the team don’t know many of the actual rules. As you could therefore surmise, I’m not a particularly skilled athlete.

Given my many, many shortcomings with the bat, I’d project myself to hit something like .000/.050/.000.

Is he bad enough to keep the Yankees out of the playoffs? Spoiler Alert: yes. But read on to find out just how bad.

RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 03, 2010 at 09:39 PM | 98 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: amateur, baseball geeks, fantasy baseball, projections

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   1. Sleepy was just “inspecting the bunker”, y’all Posted: January 04, 2010 at 07:35 AM (#3426960)
"A 3.8% walk rate would have still been higher than Bengie Molina’s, Miguel Tejada’s, Christian Guzman’s, and Jeff Francoeur’s from 2009. Yuniesky Betancourt has a career 3.4% walk rate. A rock, or a stick, or anything really, would be able to walk more than Yuni. That is an amazing level of hilarious."


Fantastic. And he's still worth something like -$45M.
   2. Dock Ellis Posted: January 04, 2010 at 07:45 AM (#3426961)
It's interesting that the writer assumes the batter in front of him will be IBB'd often, since it's not like he's going to hit into double plays all the time.

EDIT: sorry, the writer didn't say that; some dude in the comments did.
   3. Iwakuma Chameleon (jonathan) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 08:05 AM (#3426964)
I think I could punch up something like a .020/.075/.025 line.


In A-ball.
   4. Swedish Chef Posted: January 04, 2010 at 12:58 PM (#3426978)
I combine the abilities of several MLB stars, I hit like Pedro Martinez, slug like Neifi Perez and run like Bengie Molina.
   5. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 04, 2010 at 01:38 PM (#3426986)
I combine the abilities of several MLB stars, I hit like Pedro Martinez, slug like Neifi Perez and run like Bengie Molina.


I can top that -- I have all those skills PLUS the media skills of Milton Bradley and the clubhouse presence of Jeff Kent.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 02:11 PM (#3426996)
His best chance to be productive would be to pull an Ernie Pantuso; learn to get hit by any pitch anywhere near you.
   7. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 02:28 PM (#3427003)
It's interesting that the writer assumes the batter in front of him will be IBB'd often, since it's not like he's going to hit into double plays all the time.
Well, persumably he'd get IBB'ed in every situation where he comes up with 2 outs. I have no idea how much of the time that is, but it must be something like a quarter of the time, at least.
   8. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 04, 2010 at 02:48 PM (#3427008)
I think I could punch up something like a .020/.075/.025 line.


In A-ball.


My point of reference for my major league skills is this guy.

He was a sophomore when he beat us my senior year. We lost just 3 games that year - and our only hit against him was a Texas leaguer our best hitter dropped into LF.

I never had any illusions about playing professional baseball, but if I had any -- they certainly would have died when I hit against him. I still remember the 2nd pitch he threw me - a curve harder than most HS fastballs that started at my head and ended up inner half... or so I imagine, I was too busy diving into the dirt - and I wasn't shy about hanging in on breaking pitches.

If BB-Ref is right (I thought I remember he pitched a season in someone's system, but might be wrong) -- he pitched exactly one professional game.

In the Frontier league.
   9. Rally Posted: January 04, 2010 at 02:48 PM (#3427009)
Once I could outthrow David Eckstein but those days are gone, my shoulders are shot. I could probably hit as well as the worst half dozen pitchers in baseball if I had a few months of BP every day and work with a hitting instructor. I used to have speed that was objectively better than major league average (this is the easiest to test. Time a few players runnng home to first. Then go out to a baseball field and have a friend time you.) Now, I'd probably only outrun 25% or so of players.

Unless I'm paralyzed between now and then, I'm 99.9% sure that whatever Bengie Molina's best time home to first is this season, I'll still be able to beat it 11 years from now when I'm 50.
   10. Rally Posted: January 04, 2010 at 02:53 PM (#3427011)
How old would that guy have been in 1997? Did he pitch in a college program?

I wish minor league stats were as accessible in 2001, last time I played. I played in a league with several former minor leaguers, but I'm sure half of the guys weren't being entirely truthful. And I don't remember most of the names now that I have the resources to look them up.
   11. Rally Posted: January 04, 2010 at 02:55 PM (#3427014)
At least John Urbanski pitched a decent game in his only Frontier league start. Imagine if that guy had dominated your team completely, and then went on to pitch 2/3 of an inning allowing 8 runs before being told he's not wanted on the mound anymore.
   12. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:04 PM (#3427019)
How old would that guy have been in 1997? Did he pitch in a college program?


He would have had to have been 21 or 22 -- pretty sure he went JuCo after HS (as I recall, he had some academic eligibility issues). He had a younger brother, Jason, who was supposed to be just as good, but I believe he was more a football player.

My younger brother hit against Chris Bootcheck when he pitched for MC Rogers in high school.
   13. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:04 PM (#3427020)
So let's see... first, we make a reasonable stab at an MLE for my HS league... then we guesstimate four decades of age-related decline...

I think I'll get a pretty big boost from regression to the mean.

I used to be a three tool player -- hitting and hitting for power being the ones that I lacked. Running and throwing have since left the building. I'm basically down to being able to catch stuff hit right to me.
   14. covelli chris p Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:09 PM (#3427023)
"A 3.8% walk rate would have still been higher than Bengie Molina’s, Miguel Tejada’s, Christian Guzman’s, and Jeff Francoeur’s from 2009. Yuniesky Betancourt has a career 3.4% walk rate. A rock, or a stick, or anything really, would be able to walk more than Yuni. That is an amazing level of hilarious."

well, this gets at why it's supposed to be a bad sign when an older player's walk rate spikes without other number improving. when you lose the ability to put the ball in play, you walk more.
   15. Rally Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:09 PM (#3427024)
I'm basically down to being able to catch stuff hit right to me.


Better than I can say. Last time a major leaguer hit one right at me was Nick Markakis hitting one out to right center off Kelvim Escobar. I dropped it.

I can pinch run for your catchers. That's all I got.
   16. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:16 PM (#3427028)
I played aganist this guy in high scool. The best couple of guys on my team could at least put bat on ball when facing him--a major asset when fielding is as questionable as it was at that level--but he was in no real danger of having his ERA ruffled by us.

On the plus side, if he makes the Majors, I can say I faced him. So that's something.
   17. SoSH U at work Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:18 PM (#3427032)
Well, persumably he'd get IBB'ed in every situation where he comes up with 2 outs. I have no idea how much of the time that is, but it must be something like a quarter of the time, at least.


Obviously it would depend on the quality of the hitter in front of him and the base situation, but I think you'd like this guy leading off as many innings as possible.
   18. aleskel Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:26 PM (#3427039)
I've found while playing catch that I have pretty good control. So if any team needs a guy who can pound the zone with 55 MPH fastballs, I'm your man.
   19. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:28 PM (#3427044)
So if any team needs a guy who can pound the zone with 55 MPH fastballs, I'm your man.


Well, Jamie Moyer has to retire some day, so you're opening might be soon.
   20. flournoy Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:29 PM (#3427045)
As a major leaguer, I could...

1.) Give up a lot of homers. I have low 80s "heat" and a curve that would be a meatball for any professional. I figure that I could occasionally get someone to fly out to the warning track or hit a line drive right at someone.

2.) Play a poor first base. I can certainly catch anything thrown to me and do all right scooping balls out of the dirt as long as someone like Rafael Furcal isn't throwing them. If any scorching ground balls were hit to me, I can get in front of it and knock it down. (Took a bullet to the knee cap this way this past summer.)

3.) Out-hit a few pitchers. I hardly have any metal bat power; I certainly don't have wood bat power. I can make some contact and have a good eye, so I think a .020/.050/.025 line is within reach. Come to think of it, I don't think that's really outhitting any pitchers. So I'd hit better than an AL pitcher in an AL game.

4.) Out-run a lot of players. I used to have excellent sprint speed, but I've lost a lot of that while focusing on long distance training. I'm going to focus on shorter distances this year anyway, so I'll be getting a lot of it back. Not that I'd ever be getting on base, and I'm certainly not fast enough to use a roster spot on me as an Herb Washington.

In short, I'd fit right in on the Royals.
   21. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:31 PM (#3427046)
I can pinch run for your catchers. That's all I got.

Showoff. :) The best I could do would be to get into a proper backup position.

In my youth, I could throw better than Johnny Damon, easily. If the ball was hit high enough to allow me to plod back to the wall, I would have played balls near the wall better than Bobbie Abreu. That's about all I had.

I would have hit worse than Bob Buhl, run slower than Bengie Molina, gone to my left slower than Derek Jeter. I don't know who the poster boy is for grounders through the legs, but I would have been worse (which is why I finally found a home in softball in the OF).
My "fastball" would have been slower than the 46 yo Jamie Moyer's.
   22. Misirlou cut his hair and moved to Rome Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:35 PM (#3427051)
I don't know who the poster boy is for grounders through the legs


You're kidding, right?
   23. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:37 PM (#3427054)
You're kidding, right?

D'oh. I guess I didn't think of him because no manager, no matter how dim, would have ME out there in a crucial situation.

I was trying to think of a famous player who had the "yips" about staying down on a ball. I really had problems with medium speed grounders.
   24. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:38 PM (#3427056)
I don't know who the poster boy is for grounders through the legs


Who else could it be but Bill Buckner?

[NUTS. Cokes all around]
   25. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:44 PM (#3427065)
I would have hit worse than Bob Buhl, run slower than Bengie Molina, gone to my left slower than Derek Jeter. I don't know who the poster boy is for grounders through the legs, but I would have been worse (which is why I finally found a home in softball in the OF).


Speaking of grounder through the legs, I have to use this opportunity to tout the one record I believe I still own in my HS program... 3 errors on one play.

Playing 2B, runners at the corners, tailor-made DP ball -- tried to feed it before I caught, through the wickets for E #1.

Runner at 1st heads to 3rd, I move over to cover 2B as the SS had joined the CFer and RFer in retrieving my error -- batter got adventurous, throw is right on the money, beat him by 10 ft... and I dropped it. E #2.

Runner originally at 1st, perhaps sensing history in the making, either takes off or feints towards the plate -- and I air-mailed the throw over the catcher's head, allowing the runner to score. E #3.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:50 PM (#3427068)
Speaking of grounder through the legs, I have to use this opportunity to tout the one record I believe I still own in my HS program... 3 errors on one play.


So you're saying you can field as well as Tommy John.
   27. JMPH Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:52 PM (#3427070)
zonk, that's an awesome story. I did some scoring in college, and the first thing I thought of when I read your post is how much fun we'd have trying to enter that into the computer properly.
   28. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 04, 2010 at 03:54 PM (#3427073)
So you're saying you can field as well as Tommy John.


Sweet. And I still have all my ligaments in their original place.

I await Dayton Moore's call.
   29. thetailor (Brian) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:05 PM (#3427081)
Zonk, that's great man.

My friends and I still play ball every saturday in the summer in Queens and, due to the variance in skill levels among our friends and friends-of-friends, we've got some great stories out of it. We had a few kids who played on club teams in college, and a few who couldn't even crack their high school squads.

We had a center fielder airmail the ball over the backstop and into the street on a play at the plate. We had a kid wearing his glove on his head and not paying attention catch a line drive hit at him with his bare hands. We have had more than our share of 9-6-5-4-6-2 double plays.

Anyway, open invite for any of you guys if you want to come play... I'll admit, it's been hard to fill out the teams recently since we are starting to get older (most of us are 25-27 years old and starting to feel it). Drop me an email if you're interested.

p.s. We have all speculated as to how we could do in the majors... I figure that if any of us guessed fastball every time and swung away, with some coaching and practice, that we could probably hit .050/.075/.050. Even Oliver Perez hit .160 and he looks lost up there.
   30. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:21 PM (#3427100)
I assume my special mix of talent and virtue would produce a .300/.500/1.200 line.

EDIT: Or 250 IP, 1.60 ERA if you want to look at it that way.
   31. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:28 PM (#3427104)
If I was put in the right position on an NFL team or NBA team, I could theoretically catch a pass, elude a tackler or shoot a shot. If you put me on an MLS team at my preferred position, right back, it might take a full five minutes before people realized something was wrong with the right back. But baseball is like boxing, the talents are so specialized and take so much practice. Like boxing. Just how bad of a boxer would I be? Answer: Every boxer on earth would knock me out immdiately.

I was always able to catch fly balls better than most of my teammates. Maybe that's why I was always at RF!
   32. Sexy Lizard Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:30 PM (#3427106)
Given enough at bats, I'm pretty sure that anyone with a tiny amount of athletic ability and the physical courage to hang in there could hit .020 or something. There has to be a minimum possible batting average that would result from swinging more or less blindly and making random contact some small percentage of the time. I'm guessing a random stiff could go something like .020/.030/.022, which gives us an idea of what true replacement level is.

EDIT: On further reflection, maybe make it .020/.020/.022. If you swing blindly it kills the walk rate, and if you don't swing blindly you can't catch up with Major League pitching. The sad thing is that you're probably more valuable standing there and doing nothing.
   33. Sexy Lizard Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:37 PM (#3427116)
(most of us are 25-27 years old and starting to feel it).

A lot of us on this site would kill to feel this particular it again.
   34. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:38 PM (#3427117)
On further reflection, maybe make it .020/.020/.022. If you swing blindly it kills the walk rate, and if you don't swing blindly you can't catch up with Major League pitching. The sad thing is that you're probably more valuable standing there and doing nothing.


And yet in a major-league game, when Chad Durbin or somebody finds himself at the plate in the 8th inning, down by a run, with a man on first and less than 2 outs, he rarely follows the logical "intentional strikeout" policy, and usually swings at least once.
   35. Sexy Lizard Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:46 PM (#3427128)
Well, even Chad Dubin is probably a better athlete than my hypothetical True Replacement Player, and definitely a lot more practiced. I'm talking about someone like me, someone in decent shape and reasonably well coordinated but who wasn't even one of the better hitters on his pee wee league team.
   36. thetailor (Brian) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:50 PM (#3427131)
@SL: To be honest, it's really more life/jobs/travel than any kind of physical thing... but yeah, we definitely wake up more sore and run around a little less than when we were 20. Which is a new sensation. Up until now we used to be better every year. I wonder if an athlete's "peak" is at a different, later time than an average person's? I bet it is.
   37. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:52 PM (#3427133)
I don't know...

Maybe if there was an unwritten rule dictating all fastballs be thrown to us... but even then, these wouldn't be 'major league' level batting cage fastballs, nice and straight and consistently thrown the same speed. Even the rawest professional pitcher is going to take something off occasionally... and that's before you mix in any sort of breaking stuff.

I highly suspect it would take a half a season of playing every day before most of us could get the bat on the ball sans bunting.
   38. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:55 PM (#3427137)
I think in that situation a swinging Chad Durbin probably has a better chance at a GIDP than any sort of hit. He does have a H/GIDP of 2/0 for his career, though.
   39. PreservedFish Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:55 PM (#3427138)
I hit about .200/.450/.250 in high school. I think I'm a better athlete than the kid that wrote this post and I am probably faster than some 10% of mlb hitters. Maybe more. I've always wanted to time myself to first and then time them and see who wins. I was one of the fastest kids on my high school team, but then again, I'm 5'7" and not a world class athlete or even small-school-varsity class athlete.

I hit at a 90 mph batting cage once. I saw 20 pitches. I hit zero line drives. I made contact probably 6-7 times, and hit maybe 2 fair balls, which would have been easy infield outs. But this was also the first time I'd ever seen a pitch that fast.

I don't know what effect regular batting practice would have. I would like to think that I could match the Leiters and Harangs but it is possible that I could not, that I would in fact be by far the worst hitter in baseball.
   40. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:58 PM (#3427142)
H/GIDP ratios of great players:

Aaron Harang: 36/4
Al Leiter: 45/10
Ben Sheets: 35/2 -- better than Reggie Jackson's 2584/183!
   41. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 04:59 PM (#3427148)
I hit at a 90 mph batting cage once. I saw 20 pitches. I hit zero line drives. I made contact probably 6-7 times, and hit maybe 2 fair balls, which would have been easy infield outs. But this was also the first time I'd ever seen a pitch that fast.
I was in a batting cage once with a machine that could (at least supposedly) crank it up to 95. I went up to face it, with no intention to swing, but wearing--basically--catchers gear.

I didn't need it, as it turned out because I never actually saw the damned ball. 85 was a lot more humiliating, because I would see that, and try to swing it and just be absurdly late. 95, on the other hand, was just a matter of seeing the machine wind up, and then hearing the thud behind me.
   42. Sexy Lizard Posted: January 04, 2010 at 05:04 PM (#3427153)

Maybe if there was an unwritten rule dictating all fastballs be thrown to us... but even then, these wouldn't be 'major league' level batting cage fastballs, nice and straight and consistently thrown the same speed. Even the rawest professional pitcher is going to take something off occasionally... and that's before you mix in any sort of breaking stuff.

I highly suspect it would take a half a season of playing every day before most of us could get the bat on the ball sans bunting.


My belief though isn't that my hypothetical "player" has the skill to hit .020, but that by simply swinging the bat there will be enough random intersections of bat and ball that he's not going to hit .000. It's more of a physics question than a baseball one. Put another way, if you made a robot that just takes a cut through the middle of the strike zone a certain number of milliseconds after the pitcher releases the ball, making no effort at all to adjust to the pitch thrown, I'll bet it makes enough contact to hit somewhere north of .010.
   43. PreservedFish Posted: January 04, 2010 at 05:10 PM (#3427156)
At the 90 mph cage, I swung through the first 6-7 balls. Then I bunted the next couple to try and get a feel for the speed. Then I went back to swinging, and started making contact, but less than 50% of the time, mostly just foul tips.

After I stepped down, an employee got up to take some hacks. He had no bat speed but he had practiced an awful lot and had the timing down pat. He was hitting soft line drives left and right (the type that would maybe fall in over the shortstop's head - he didn't have XBH power) with a very slow loopy swing that started long before the robot arm had a hold of the ball.

I think if I had hours of practice I could have gotten to his level, although facing a real pitcher that varies location and speed and has offspeed pitches would set me back to square one, and using this plan would make it essential to decide whether or not to swing about 2 seconds before the pitch is thrown, ruining any chance at using my one solid tool, my patience, to any advantage.
   44. thetailor (Brian) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 05:10 PM (#3427157)
Put another way, if you made a robot that just takes a cut through the middle of the strike zone a certain number of milliseconds after the pitcher releases the ball, making no effort at all to adjust to the pitch thrown, I'll bet it makes enough contact to hit somewhere north of .010.


I agree sort of. Granted, you're not going to get a lot of fastballs swinging like that, but I think it makes sense. To bat .010 you'd need a hit one in a hundred at bats. With three strikes, that's a fair ball hit and not fielded only once every three hundred swings. That'd have to be possible, right?
   45. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 04, 2010 at 05:15 PM (#3427161)
I was in a batting cage once with a machine that could (at least supposedly) crank it up to 95. I went up to face it, with no intention to swing, but wearing--basically--catchers gear.

I didn't need it, as it turned out because I never actually saw the damned ball. 85 was a lot more humiliating, because I would see that, and try to swing it and just be absurdly late. 95, on the other hand, was just a matter of seeing the machine wind up, and then hearing the thud behind me.


Ehhh... put enough money in, and I suspect anyone that played beyond little league could get there.

At a large mini-golf/batting case park a couple years back, I hit in the 'major league' cage. They had radar guns in all the baseball cages - and this one, if the gun was at all accurate, was spitting in the high 80s.

It took $20, but by the 21st dollar I was hitting a couple nice line drives... Of course, it was more timing the pitch mechanism than any of sort actually 'hitting' of the pitch. The machine had good control, too -- which certainly helped.

It's not so much 'catching up' with a professional fastball, given enough practice, that's the problem... It's the fact that it's never in the same place twice, speeds are changing, and even the most straight professional fastballs have a bit of movement to them (then add in even raw breaking stuff).

That's really the line between a professional hitter and not -- it's not attuning your swing and reflexes to catch up with a ball thrown in the 80s/90s... given enough repetition, I think a lot of us could do that... it's the quickness required do that PLUS adjust to location, movement, and changes of pace, which moves one out of the realm of timing that can be learned and into the realm of natural born quickness and talent.
   46. Lassus Posted: January 04, 2010 at 05:16 PM (#3427162)
I was in a batting cage once with a machine that could (at least supposedly) crank it up to 95. I went up to face it, with no intention to swing, but wearing--basically--catchers gear.

I didn't need it, as it turned out because I never actually saw the damned ball. 85 was a lot more humiliating, because I would see that, and try to swing it and just be absurdly late. 95, on the other hand, was just a matter of seeing the machine wind up, and then hearing the thud behind me.


In 2003, I played in a (failed) hardball league in Spanish Harlem. The morons didn't get the permits for the fields so after like three practices, one torn ACL that sent someone away in an ambulance, and one game, the thing shut down. So irritating. ANYHOW, the point is that I also went to the batting cage and cranked it up to 90 and 95. Yes, you will barely see ten pitches. However, try 95 for about 100 pitches and you'll start at least making some contact and hurting your hands. Then, set it down to 85 and you'll actually hit some balls. It was especially frustrating, but with some practice, it actually became not-impossible, and that was such an amazing feeling.
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 05:30 PM (#3427176)
most of us are 25-27 years old and starting to feel it

I'm 38 and feel every bit as good as I did at 25. That's what being in shitty shape your whole life buys you, no decline. I basically had a 50 year old's body at 18 ;-)

I did have a pretty good knuckleball in high school though. That would probably be my best chance to contribute to a baseball team now. I could probably still get the knuckler up around 60 MPH. Of course the fastball would be at around 65.
   48. Lassus Posted: January 04, 2010 at 05:38 PM (#3427183)
most of us are 25-27 years old and starting to feel it

Egads. At 25-27?
   49. rfloh Posted: January 04, 2010 at 05:41 PM (#3427187)
36. thetailor Posted: January 04, 2010 at 11:50 AM (#3427131)
@SL: To be honest, it's really more life/jobs/travel than any kind of physical thing... but yeah, we definitely wake up more sore and run around a little less than when we were 20. Which is a new sensation. Up until now we used to be better every year. I wonder if an athlete's "peak" is at a different, later time than an average person's? I bet it is.


"Work capacity", tolerance to (intense) physical loading, can be increased progressively, via constant progressive training, like most other athletic qualities. Athletes nowadays of course train MUCH more often than "normal" people, rarely taking extended breaks, so they can maintain a higher work capacity as they age, compared to "normal" people.
   50. Ron Johnson Posted: January 04, 2010 at 05:57 PM (#3427207)
I thied a batting cage that was dialed down to a mediocre major league breaking ball. I had plenty of time and after flailing away for two sets I started to hit little dribblers on a fairly consistent basis. Any kind of change to what was being thrown would have left me helpless. I had to start my swing so early to have a chance to touch the ball.

And I couldn't believe how much it hurt my hands.
   51. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 04, 2010 at 06:02 PM (#3427214)
I led my high school city championship team in hitting (.520), led the Duke freshman team in hitting (.348), and hit over .600 in a Summer League that year with more than a few OB signees, like Orioles pitching coach Ray Miller, who made AAA but was never any problem for me to hit. I batted plenty of times against pitchers with 90 MPH heat but no hop on the ball, and timing them wasn't really all that hard. I can even show you a couple of scouts' cards that were handed to me, which of course meant absolutely zilch without a contract offer.

And then one evening our league-leading team went down to Stafford, Virginia to play a semi-pro team called the Stafford Braves, a team that unlike our 19-and-under team, had no age limit. And the lights were of sub-minor league quality.

We lost 25 to 2, I struck out three times for the first and last time in my baseball career, and I got a very quick education of what it must be like to be overpowered by a pitcher. I also learned that the difference between various levels of baseball competition is an almost perfect way to separate the truly talented from the merely skillful. It was like the time I played high school basketball against Bladensburg High School, made what I fancied to be an easy breakaway steal and layup, only to get knocked halfway across the court as a 6-ll Bladensburg center slammed the ball, my glasses, and half of my body with a force of a small runaway truck. It didn't surprise me that this center later went on to start for Duke at a time they went to two straight final fours. Moral of the story: It's never as easy as it looks.
   52. Lassus Posted: January 04, 2010 at 06:08 PM (#3427220)
We lost 25 to 2, I struck out three times for the first and last time in my baseball career, and I got a very quick education of what it must be like to be overpowered by a pitcher.

I'm sure Christy Mathewson did that to a lot of people, Andy.
   53. Rally Posted: January 04, 2010 at 06:16 PM (#3427229)
Andy, a quick google search doesn't get me a name but I suspect you're talking about the guy in the middle here:
http://www.goduke.com/SportSelect.dbml?SPSID=22727&SPID=1845&DB_OEM_ID=4200&Q_SEASON=1963
   54. T.J. Posted: January 04, 2010 at 06:54 PM (#3427285)
Jay Buckley, out of Cheverly, Maryland?
   55. Rally Posted: January 04, 2010 at 07:13 PM (#3427306)
That's Jay Buckley? Awesome. I went to high school with his son, who also went to Duke, serving as Laettner's backup for a few years.
   56. T.J. Posted: January 04, 2010 at 07:25 PM (#3427325)
I was a UNC student at the same time as Clay Buckley (1987-1991), so I remember the name. Needless to say, backing up Laettner, he didn't play a lot.
   57. Tom T Posted: January 04, 2010 at 07:35 PM (#3427336)
That's really the line between a professional hitter and not -- it's not attuning your swing and reflexes to catch up with a ball thrown in the 80s/90s... given enough repetition, I think a lot of us could do that... it's the quickness required do that PLUS adjust to location, movement, and changes of pace, which moves one out of the realm of timing that can be learned and into the realm of natural born quickness and talent.


I'll agree with this. I always had a good batting eye and could make contact with just about anything up through high school, just couldn't turn on much faster than a lob, so my baseball playing ended after trying out in high school. In grad school I worked with two guys who'd pitched college ball (one at WUSTL, one in Japan). We'd go out and hit on what I suppose was a ballfield belonging to the Charlestown Navy Yard (I think we only lost one ball into the water than ran past the field). After a couple of sessions, I could hit opposite field liners off fastballs and some curves from each pitcher (both were probably in the low-80s as this point), but couldn't get around on anything to save my soul. And if either threw a slider, I was toast --- one or the other of movement and speed was okay, the combination of both was a killer.

One side note from grad school is that I found that I can't hit machines...even though they are generally consistent in tempo, I get no cue regarding possible break/spin/angle and the random trajectory kills me unless it is set terribly slow (in retrospect, I think I was the only kid who hit better during high school tryouts the one day we had a person pitching instead of the machine). After years of playing softball, I have also concluded that I was distinctly not helped by being a high-ball hitter --- just not the correct "sweet spot" to hit most baseball pitchers (and it would have made me prone to pitchers going "up the ladder" something awful).

And, oh yeah, I might make Steve Sax look like a sharpshooter on throws to first base (I pitch and I have now taken to running the ball to 1st rather than throwing it...I'm fine if I'm playing 2B or 3B, but I cannot make the throw when on the pitching rubber, so it's clearly a mental block...hmmm...I sense an fMRI project for one of my students!).
   58. BDC Posted: January 04, 2010 at 07:37 PM (#3427338)
One theme I see in several posts above is that any number of average citizens could make some of the easier fielding plays in professional baseball. I was never more than a sandlot player, but I was very good at fielding ground balls, and certainly in my youth I could have made a few easy major-league infield plays – from second base, mind you, because I could never throw much. And even at the age of 50, I bet I could catch a routine popup or (extremely) soft line drive.

This is not interesting except insofar as it relates to assessment of defense. Some portion of what a major-league fielder does could be done by any able-bodied casual player. Almost none of what a major-league, or even low-minor-league, hitter or pitcher does could be done by the man or woman on the street. That means something, though I'm not yet sure what it means.
   59. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 04, 2010 at 07:42 PM (#3427344)
One side note from grad school is that I found that I can't hit machines...even though they are generally consistent in tempo, I get no cue regarding possible break/spin/angle and the random trajectory kills me unless it is set terribly slow (in retrospect, I think I was the only kid who hit better during high school tryouts the one day we had a person pitching instead of the machine).


The machine I referenced above had the 'arm action' -- a sling you could watch and time, a 'motion' you can use, so to speak... My swing had a slight trigger - so it was definitely needed... One of those machines where the balls just shoots out, and the mechanism is a total mystery? Forget it...
   60. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: January 04, 2010 at 07:44 PM (#3427349)
I remember Clay Buckley too - never heard of Jay. Neat.

I found that I can't hit machines
Me either - even at really slow speeds (like 40) - just can't pick up the location of the ball. Then again, I'd pin my big league performance at .0001/.010/.0001 (like they wouldn't pound the strike zone or terrify me with breaking balls).

One theme I see in several posts above is that any number of average citizens could make some of the easier fielding plays in professional baseball.
I took that partly as "we're underestimating the difficulty of easy plays" - which isn't to say that you don't have a point.
   61. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: January 04, 2010 at 09:48 PM (#3427508)
One theme I see in several posts above is that any number of average citizens could make some of the easier fielding plays in professional baseball.

I took that partly as "we're underestimating the difficulty of easy plays" - which isn't to say that you don't have a point.


I tend to agree with Der Komminsk-sar on this one. The average ball speed of a ball hit from an MLB player has got to be a decent bit faster than anything seen in a rec league game, I think that needs to be considered when assessing defense.
   62. Copronymus Posted: January 05, 2010 at 12:30 AM (#3427676)
If you're looking at a .010/.050/.010 line or whatever, wouldn't you be better off bunting exclusively? Even if you're slower than the Molina brothers shackled together, I feel like forcing any sort of fielding play is better than missing every pitch by a mile/hoping one hits you somewhere decently padded. I guess you give up the walks that way, so maybe not. Either way, I think you're best off not swinging the bat at all.
   63. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: January 05, 2010 at 12:37 AM (#3427687)
I was in a batting cage once with a machine that could (at least supposedly) crank it up to 95. I went up to face it, with no intention to swing, but wearing--basically--catchers gear.

I didn't need it, as it turned out because I never actually saw the damned ball. 85 was a lot more humiliating, because I would see that, and try to swing it and just be absurdly late. 95, on the other hand, was just a matter of seeing the machine wind up, and then hearing the thud behind me.


This was my experience as well.

I never really could hit. Even in little league I hardly ever pulled a ball; I just never, ever swung at anything outside of the strike zone, hit lots of line drives into right field, and probably hit .300 AVG/.550 OBP or something. My little league team was coached by one of those aggressiveness guys; he constantly sent in the bunt signal on me, despite the fact I was a bad bunter even by little league standards. Presumably some combination of my being fast and his hating watching me take walks all the time.

I ignored the bunt signal more often than not. Hated that damned thing.

Come to think of it, I never really could do anything well on a baseball field except run real fast and throw real hard. But the Pony League scouts loved my tools.
   64. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: January 05, 2010 at 12:57 AM (#3427708)
The average ball speed of a ball hit from an MLB player has got to be a decent bit faster than anything seen in a rec league game, I think that needs to be considered when assessing defense.

Sure, but there are still many balls hit in MLB that are not hit particularly hard by any standard. The average rec league player would have a much, much, much better chance of recording an assist or putout at the MLB level than of reaching base safely.
   65. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: January 05, 2010 at 01:04 AM (#3427716)
I wonder how the best pitcher in your average rec league would do in the major leagues. Could he survive five innings without giving up ten runs? I'm thinking no. You wouldn't especially expect your average A-ball pitcher to do that, and that guy is way better than anyone pitching in a rec league.
   66. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 05, 2010 at 01:05 AM (#3427718)
Zero chance I would ever get a hit.
   67. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 05, 2010 at 01:37 AM (#3427743)
Jay Buckley, out of Cheverly, Maryland?

Yeah, that's the one. He wasn't the greatest center that Duke ever had, but he did start for two consecutive final four teams, and IIRC he was a physics major who wound up with a 3.8 GPA in the years before grade inflation jacked the averages way up. I used to wonder if he was the same guy who organizes those multi-city ballpark tours, but I don't think that he is.
   68. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 05, 2010 at 01:45 AM (#3427751)
I suspect I could hit a decent baseball pitcher, with some practice (cages + live pitching). Doing it cold, though: no.
Last summer a few friends invited me to play on the "grownups" side of a teachers vs. students baseball game at a local high school. I was a good hitter in high school, but hadn't even seen an overhand pitch in decades. It was ugly. Especially when one of the little ##### threw me a curve.
Turns out I can still lay down a bunt & steal a base, though. So a teeny tiny salvaging of pride there.
   69. walt williams bobblehead Posted: January 05, 2010 at 02:11 AM (#3427773)
A lot of us on this site would kill to feel this particular it again.


I find that killing is the one thing that makes me feel it. But you have to pick your spots.
   70. LargeBill Posted: January 05, 2010 at 02:31 AM (#3427785)
As a right handed hitter who is nearly blind in the left eye I wouldn't even contemplate facing a major league pitcher. 20 years and 50 pounds ago I might have had decent speed on the bases. I used to have really good control throwing slop. Now that my shoulder is mush there is no telling where the slop is heading. One positive is it does tend to keep the kids alert when I'm tossing BP.
   71. A triple short of the cycle Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:49 AM (#3427908)
I play coed slow-pitch softball in the SF park and rec league. Pretty sure the translation has me at .000/.000/.000. Pretty sure that's what I would post, too. What I wonder is: can I field better than Jack Cust? I would like to think so, but then I honestly doubt it.
   72. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:57 AM (#3427913)
That's the remarkable thing about top-level professional athletes: When you really get to see them up close, their athleticism almost always blows you away. Casey Hampton or Michael Oher can keep up with the best wide receiver from some small town high school in the 40 yard dash; Slappy Pierre's throwing arm is better than that of half the guys in rec leagues who think their arms are pretty hot #### compared to Average Joe's. You go to some random semi-rural high school that graduates 300 or 400 kids a year, most of them white, and find its best athlete, and on the major league Tools Scale he'd probably rate about a 35 speed, 40 arm, etc.
   73. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:57 AM (#3427914)
J-Clash: do you play with Bat Flag? Those guys are awesome.
   74. Forsch 10 From Navarone (Dayn) Posted: January 05, 2010 at 05:36 AM (#3427949)
I was a decent football player in high school, but I didn't play baseball past the seventh grade. I had an eye and a reasonable line-drive stroke, but I was absolutely a miserable defender at any position other than first base, where I was merely bad. I was profusely incompetent in the outfield.

So if you're looking for a strict DH who could hit lefties to the tune of .010/.020/.010, then I'm your guy.
   75. A triple short of the cycle Posted: January 05, 2010 at 05:53 AM (#3427961)
do you play with Bat Flag?

Nope. There are a *lot* of teams. We play on friday nights... they must play another night since I have not heard of them.
   76. Tom T Posted: January 05, 2010 at 05:59 AM (#3427962)
The average ball speed of a ball hit from an MLB player has got to be a decent bit faster than anything seen in a rec league game, I think that needs to be considered when assessing defense.


I dunno, if you were facing a team of ex-HS players wielding a Miken Ultra II, I don't think the ball was moving any dang slower (relative to available reaction time) than it would be coming off an MLB bat. Particularly given that I'm standing a whopping 44 feet or so from the batter, and the poor 48-year-old who doesn't move so well any more is only about 60 feet from him at 3rd. I think people talk about a typical ball velocity off a wood bat being in the 100-120 MPH range, don't they? A good softball hitter with an Ultra II could do that pretty darn easy.

Having seen some guys hit (worn) .47 COR balls probably a good 280 feet, I'd wager that fielding of the hard shots on a softball field isn't that much different from fielding most MLB grounders/liners (noting, of course, that my team didn't have a shot to catch too many of those Ultra II shots until they were playing on the 3rd base line of the facing field). Given that many (most?) softball fields are crappy collections of rocks, bottle caps, manhole covers, ruts and mounds, I suspect the guys who gobble up everything hit near them could give Kelly Johnson a run for his money with the glove. Heck, during my tryouts, I was getting used by the coaches to demonstrate "proper technique" to a catcher who was ultimately drafted by the Braves. He washed out in the minors, but the point is that defense isn't what gets you drafted/signed or to the majors unless you are probably about three or four sigma out on the curve...it's really the amazing ability to pitch or hit said pitching (i.e., being able to hit that softball 280 feet EACH TIME rather than when you "get it right"). Well, that or nepotism....
   77. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 05, 2010 at 06:45 AM (#3427973)
Given that many (most?) softball fields are crappy collections of rocks, bottle caps, manhole covers, ruts and mounds


Hmm, apparently Tom T plays softball in SF, too.
   78. CraigK Posted: January 05, 2010 at 08:22 AM (#3427989)
Tossing a tennis ball up in the air and hitting it myself, I sting the ball a good 200-225 feet on a decent angle. If I swung blindly enough only to swing at strikes and not at balls (never mind where in the strike zone), and I played for ten years, I might break .150 seven years from now when I'm in my absolute prime at 30.
   79. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 05, 2010 at 12:39 PM (#3428001)
Of course the other thing to consider about hitting a Major League pitcher is that if you didn't first suppress the fear of getting killed by a pitch, anything you might accidentally hit would never make it out of the infield to begin with. To say that you'd be swinging like a girl would be an insult to the female sex. IWO I suspect that whatever theory of hitting you've worked out in your minds would probably work only against a soft throwing junkballer who'd agreed in advance not to use the brushback pitch as a weapon. Because otherwise you'd be so terrified that you might as well be swinging a fishing rod in the dark.
   80. Lassus Posted: January 05, 2010 at 01:23 PM (#3428019)
Hmm, apparently Tom T plays softball in SF, too.

Does anyone still play in that weird lot across the street from the Ralph's, where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge from the field, and actually hit the ball into traffic? I played mostly in GG Park like everyone else, but the first softball game of my career over there was in that bizarre yet gorgeous spot. Just curious if it rings a bell with anyone. This would have been 1998 anyhow.
   81. Rally Posted: January 05, 2010 at 01:43 PM (#3428027)
Because otherwise you'd be so terrified that you might as well be swinging a fishing rod in the dark.


Nah. It's not a rational fear. Nobody has been killed by a major league pitch since they invented batting helmets (it's probably happened in the minors/college/high school but I don't know how many cases). You've got a better chance dying in the car that you drive to and from the baseball field.

I've been hit by plenty of baseballs. I've had my nose broken by one, at 3rd base. Growing up idolizing Brian Downing, I learned how to take one for the team. I'd prefer not to be hit in the face again, but being hit anywhere else on the body is about as an ideal outcome of batting against a major league pitcher as I'd have. It would be my best shot at getting to first base.
   82. Rusty Priske Posted: January 05, 2010 at 01:52 PM (#3428034)
The last time I played organized ball I hit .600 (90% singles... never got a homerun)

I was 12.


The last time I had a bat in my hands was about 10 years ago (at around 30) and I got a hit but DAMN my arms hurt from contact.
   83. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: January 05, 2010 at 02:43 PM (#3428076)
I have two stories I like to tell in this regard.

1. I used to play softball in the summer with some classmates (all male). Every Saturday, we would head out to the field and scrimmage a little, take some BP, run some fielding drills, etc. One day, one of my buddies brought along some friends who were visiting from out of town, one of whom was a girl who had played varsity softball at her small college.

We were doing a "live BP" where the fielders were supposed to play out each hit. The girl was in left field, and the ball was lined just in front of her. She fielded it cleanly, and in one fluid motion, uncorked a gorgeous throw to home plate. Arm strength, accuracy, form: it was all there. We loved it so much that we started trying to pull the ball to her just so we could watch those gorgeous throws. After about ten or so flawless throws, we gave her a standing ovation.

2. In my high school calculus class, our second semester final exam was replaced by a softball game. You can imagine the skill level among high school calculus students was on the low side, so bad that I was one of the better players (if you know me, you know that is truly sad). My team was clinging to a one run lead with two outs in the bottom of the seventh (the last inning). The other team had runners on first and second. The opposing team had the sickliest, smallest, palest, skinniest kid in the class (again, impressive given the demographics). He had done nothing all game and didn't seem particularly invested in the outcome. Playing third, I crept in about six steps. Victory was almost ours. Then, BAM, a clean line drive right over my head. Both runs score. Walkoff loss. Ten years on, I'm still haunted.
   84. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 05, 2010 at 02:50 PM (#3428084)
Because otherwise you'd be so terrified that you might as well be swinging a fishing rod in the dark.

Nah. It's not a rational fear. Nobody has been killed by a major league pitch since they invented batting helmets (it's probably happened in the minors/college/high school but I don't know how many cases). You've got a better chance dying in the car that you drive to and from the baseball field.


I had to laugh when I read that. How "rational" are you going to be---or more to the point, how much conviction are you going to put into your swing---if you get a fairly regular dose of high and inside 92 MPH heaters, with an occasional brushback pitch thrown in for good measure?

And seriously, have you ever faced a Major League curve ball, which looks like it's headed for your head, only to wind up over the plate? How long do you think it would take you to change your pants after you went through that experience for the first time?

That's the kind of "fear factor" that the writers seem to overlook when they dismiss Bert Blyleven. I'm not sure why we should likewise dismiss it here, especially since unlike actual Major League players, few (if any) of us have ever had to face that sort of pitch before.

I'll end on this note: Many people consider Michael Jordan to be the greatest athlete ever. Look how he handled minor league curve balls.
   85. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: January 05, 2010 at 03:02 PM (#3428105)
Many people consider Michael Jordan to be the greatest athlete ever


That was always a headscratcher to me even before he putzed around in Milb.
   86. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 05, 2010 at 03:11 PM (#3428122)
Many people consider Michael Jordan to be the greatest athlete ever

That was always a headscratcher to me even before he putzed around in Milb.


Maybe so, but then think of your personal list of the world's top ten non-baseball athletes, and imagine how much better than Jordan that any one of them would likely fare in AA ball, let alone against Major League pitching. Lance Armstrong? Usain Bolt? Tiger Woods? And how many people here would even rate themselves in the top million athletes that the world has ever produced?
   87. LargeBill Posted: January 05, 2010 at 03:19 PM (#3428131)
86. mrams Posted: January 05, 2010 at 10:02 AM (#3428105)

Many people consider Michael Jordan to be the greatest athlete ever



That was always a headscratcher to me even before he putzed around in Milb.


Not sure why that would be a head scratcher. Greatest athlete ever is pretty subjective. There is no doubting that Jordan was a phenomenal athlete. He didn't look great great playing a sport he hadn't played in over ten years against younger players who have been playing that sport regularly for a decade. Okay. There is no way to find out, but I imagine Jordan would have done much better if he he had concentrated on baseball as a kid. His height means he had a bigger strike zone which works against him (like it did Winfield and others). He did however have great eye hand coordination which is pretty important when it come to getting the bat to the ball. I don't think we can draw any conclusion from a season of minor league baseball except that baseball isn't a sport you just show up and play.
   88. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: January 05, 2010 at 03:50 PM (#3428169)
Jordan's Birmingham year impressed the heck out of me.
   89. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:05 PM (#3428190)
You know... Jordan was 31 years old, hadn't played competitive baseball in going on 15 years, and was playing at AA. Considering all of that, the wonder is he didn't embarrass himself much worse than he did. Jordan might have been good enough to make the majors if he'd focused on baseball from his youth.
   90. DKDC Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:10 PM (#3428194)
Daniel Cabrera is a pretty good study on what happens in the majors to someone with zero hitting talent.

In 32 career plate appearances:

24 Ks
2 BB
1 HBP
3 successful bunts
2 groundouts

That’s good for a .103 OPS.

Maybe I’m overestimating my abilities (I was a decent hitter over a decade ago in a bad HS league), but I’d think with practice and full time commitment, I’d be able make to contact on fastballs somewhat regularly and get the occasional hit. I’d spend 100% of my practice effort on hitting a major league fastball, and I’d sit fastball every pitch. I’d force pitchers to either accept my .075 batting average on fastballs, or try to strike me out with breaking balls, which I can’t hit at all but gives me a better chance of walking.
   91. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:18 PM (#3428205)
Maybe I’m overestimating my abilities (I was a decent hitter over a decade ago in a bad HS league), but I’d think with practice and full time commitment, I’d be able make to contact on fastballs somewhat regularly and get the occasional hit. I’d spend 100% of my practice effort on hitting a major league fastball, and I’d sit fastball every pitch. I’d force pitchers to either accept my .075 batting average on fastballs, or try to strike me out with breaking balls, which I can’t hit at all but gives me a better chance of walking.

Now all you need is a variety of Major League flamethrowers to give you unlimited batting practice every day for about five years, working it up to simulated game conditions, and you'll be all set to test your theory.

Oh, and hope that the scouts never get word of your one pitch only hitting specialty. (smile)
   92. PreservedFish Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:21 PM (#3428211)
By the way, how did Jordan handle MiL curveballs? Did anyone here watch him regularly? Do we know that he wasn't pasting curveballs with ease, but unable to catch up to a fastball?
   93. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:29 PM (#3428223)
By the way, how did Jordan handle MiL curveballs? Did anyone here watch him regularly? Do we know that he wasn't pasting curveballs with ease, but unable to catch up to a fastball?


I saw Jordan hit twice - once in the now-defunct, pre-interleague Windy City classic and another time in the minors.

He basically looked like a raw, athletic CF or SS who had a not much-better-than-zero chance of figuring it out at the plate. He could put solid wood on a mistake, but wasn't a disciplined enough hitter to sit on mistakes.

If he were 18 or 19 - you might have thought him a fringe prospect... toolsy, but very raw with a lot of learning to do and not enough of a ceiling to really excite you.
   94. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:30 PM (#3428225)
I wasn't there, but I would bet a lot of money he got his singles off fastballs taken the opposite way, and was hopeless on breaking balls, as that's what one should expect from a phenomenal athlete who is playing AA ball after not playing baseball at all for 15 years.

(Edit in response to zonk) I can't imagine a 6'6" guy playing shortstop. He was definitely an outfielder.
   95. Zonk Will Be Reinstated in August Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:42 PM (#3428234)

(Edit in response to zonk) I can't imagine a 6'6" guy playing shortstop. He was definitely an outfielder.


Fair enough, though - growing up in the age of Ripken, I have no prejudice against tall SSs. I guess I had "Alex Gonzalez (either of them) with undeveloped power" on the brain.
   96. tjm1 Posted: January 05, 2010 at 04:48 PM (#3428238)
Jordan hit over .200 at AA without having played above high school ball. That's phenomenal. Danny Ainge wasn't much better a hitter, but could play the middle infield position, and didn't hit much better in the minors. Ainge did debut at AAA as a 19 year old, which I also don't understand. Maybe this was because of the expansion status of the Blue Jays meaning that they didn't have any better prospects who were more advanced, but Ainge was a 15th rounder. I suppose it also could have been because Ainge was a hot shot basketball player, and the Blue Jays were hoping to keep him interested in baseball, so they didn't want to send him to the low minors.
   97. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 05, 2010 at 11:27 PM (#3429012)
Does anyone still play in that weird lot across the street from the Ralph's, where you can see the Golden Gate Bridge from the field, and actually hit the ball into traffic? I played mostly in GG Park like everyone else, but the first softball game of my career over there was in that bizarre yet gorgeous spot. Just curious if it rings a bell with anyone. This would have been 1998 anyhow.


I think this is Moscone Field -- it's a place where you can see the GG Bridge during games, and can hit a foul ball into traffic if you hit it just right.
Joe DiMaggio used to play there; you can see a team photo featuring a distinctive-looking building across the street in his bio that came out a few years ago.

The best "into traffic" field is Rolph Playground, at Chavez/Potrero -- there's a Green Monster-sized LF wall, but if you clear it, you can reach the freeway on-ramp. Which is, of course, incredibly dangerous, but that doesn't stop people trying.

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