Results tagged ‘ Alex Rodriguez ’
— STATS_MLB (@STATS_MLB) September 21, 2013
Sure, it’s a home run in a game that may appear meaningless, but every game that Alex Rodriguez plays in 2013 that helps the New York Yankees in any way could destroy the integrity of the entire 2013 Major League Baseball season.
After Rodriguez broke Gehrig’s grand slam record, the Yankees went on to beat the San Francisco Giants and Tim Lincecum 5-1 on Friday night in New York. The Bronx Bombers are now 22-18 (.550) with Alex Rodriguez after going 59-55 (.518) without him, and depending on the results of the Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays, and Texas Rangers games tonight, the Yankees could be just 2.5 games out of the Wild Card after tonight.
Of course, the Yankees have had a little help late this season, getting solid production from Alfonso Soriano and Robinson Cano in the second half, but Rodriguez and his seven home runs, 18 RBI, and 126 wRC+ shouldn’t be ignored, it is certainly more productivity than they were getting from their other third basemen, who combined to post a gross .208/.251/.283 line over 453 at-bats while compiling just 128 total bases in 114 games. Rodriguez has 56 total bases in 40 games and 142 at-bats.
The Yankees have a lot of teams to catch and with two games against the Giants, three against the Rays, and three against the Houston Astros, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that they could make a last minute push to playoff pay dirt.
But should Alex Rodriguez have been responsible for any of those wins, which he clearly has been, then how can Major League Baseball and Bud Selig sleep at night?
The information that the league apparently has against Rodriguez and the BioGenesis investigation was enough to suspend him through the 2014 season, but after allowing an appeal, which was necessary with the league’s collective bargaining agreement, the league was forced to allow him to play until the appeal could be heard. Considering the resources that are available to the league, contacting and solidifying an arbitrator for a hearing was within reason well before today…hell, the league should have been on the phone and had a hearing set roughly ten minutes after the suspension was handed out on August 5.
After watching Matt Kemp lose out on the NL MVP in 2011 due to another BioGenesis product, Ryan Braun, and all of the hoopla surrounding Braun’s bastardizing of the entire process and system that goes along with testing and collection, MLB can’t afford another player impacting the validity of a 162-game marathon due to their impression on the outcome of 40 to 50 games that they shouldn’t have been a part of to begin with…not when it is a single player, who could have easily just been suspended.
Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds have tarnished the record books with their use of performance-enhancing drugs, but the players who don’t have enough personal worth to be successful with their own god-given gifts don’t have to be capable of making it all about them forever. Selig should have manned up weeks ago for the integrity of the game. Alex Rodriguez shouldn’t play another game in 2013 and his suspension should be upheld immediately because you can’t go back in time to fix something that has already happened. Winning 22 games with Alex Rodriguez in the lineup or acknowledging any of the 21 runs that he has scored this season are already examples of opposing teams being wronged by a policy, a policy maker, and a player that don’t have the testicular fortitude to do what is right for the game that they are there to serve, protect, and love.
Either be consistent by upholding a policy that was put in place to protect the integrity of the game or allow the league to be pushed over by the strongest players union in professional sports. You can’t really have it both ways. If Selig wants to change things, he needs to get Rodriguez off the field immediately.
Another free agency period is ahead with another Major League Baseball offseason. With so many superstars being signed to lucrative contracts with their existing clubs, players who reach free agency can make exorbitant amounts of money due to fewer players being available and television contracts that teams are using as revenue generating machines. With that being said, is a big-time contract a smart investment for a needy team this winter?
The Yankees as a Model
With Robinson Cano heading towards free agency after the 2013 season, the New York Yankees will be faced with a decision that could alter their original plan of getting under Major League Baseball’s $189 million luxury tax threshold. With $92.4 million due to six players (Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Alfonso Soriano (the Cubs are covering $13 of the $18 million owed to him), Mark Teixiera, Vernon Wells (the Angels are covering $18.6 of the $21 million owed to him), Ichiro Suzuki, and Derek Jeter (who has an $8 million player option), the Yankees, on the surface, appear to have some wiggle room in an offer to their superstar second baseman; however, the players mentioned above are the only players with guaranteed contracts next season.
Adam Warren, David Phelps, and Eduardo Nunez are all pre-arbitration, so they can have their contracts renewed at the league minimum, but the club will have to deal with David Huff, Chris Stewart, Francisco Cervelli, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Jayson Nix, Shawn Kelley, Brett Gardner, and David Robertson within arbitration, and determine whether Cano, Hiroki Kuroda, Kevin Youkilis, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, Mark Reynolds, Boone Logan, Travis Hafner, Joba Chamberlain, and/or Lyle Overbay are worthy of being tendered a qualifying offer prior to reaching free agency. With up to 19 spots available for next season, the remaining $96.6 million doesn’t appear to be going very far.
While relief could be on the way with a possible 2014 suspension for Alex Rodriguez, from which his $25 million contract would be forfeited, the long-term contracts that the Yankees have handed out like candy are now causing financial issues as the club’s attendance continues to decline (43,733 in 2012 vs. 40,002 in 2013) along with the talent of the aging players.
Alex Rodriguez is 37 years old and is owed $86 million over the next four years.
C.C. Sabathia is 32 years old and is owed $76 million over the next three seasons (including his 2017 buyout).
Mark Teixiera is 33 years old and is owed $67.5 million over the next three seasons.
The three have been worth a combined WAR (Fangraphs) of 2.6 in 2013 while costing the Yankees $73.5 million in salaries. For comparisons sake, San Diego third baseman Chase Headley, Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson, San Diego outfielder Chris Denorfia, Baltimore outfielder Nate McLouth, and San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford have each posted a 2.6 WAR in 2013…individually. If the Yankees had all five players this season, they would have spent just under $16 million, about $6.5 million less than they spent on Teixiera alone in 2013!
Why These Contracts Don’t Make Sense
By investing large sums of money into veterans when they reach free agency in the post-steroid era, teams are taking immeasurable risks.
1) They are assuming that a high-performing player will be capable of producing into their mid-30′s, and…
2) They are assuming that the high-performing player will stay healthy enough to be worth the investment.
When a player reaches free agency, they have at least six years of major league experience. The player likely had three seasons of pre-arbitration followed by three years of arbitration prior to reaching free agency. Considering that most players make their debuts between the ages of 21 and 24, a free agent is typically between the ages of 27 and 30. The magic prime age in baseball is apparently going to happen in a player’s age-27 season, lasting roughly three to five seasons. A player has reached their physical peak at this point, which allows the player to utilize their various tools to take advantage of the opposition through the use of their experience and mental approaches gained through those experiences. When a multi-year contract is given to a player at the age of 30, say a five-year contract, and that player is then declining for nearly three-fifths of the contract, what is the value to the club? Without performance-enhancers, normal aging processes, such as shoulder fatigue for aging pitchers and chronic knee soreness for a veteran position player, become normal once again. Can teams count on a 39-year-old shortstop to play in 162 games? Ask Derek Jeter how his season went.
Unfortunate Recent Examples
Albert Pujols signed his ten-year, $240 million deal with the Angels following his age-31 season in St. Louis. To make the deal more affordable and to allow the Angels some financial flexibility, Pujols’ contract was heavily back-loaded, meaning he will be making the most money at the end of his contract when he is approaching or passing the age of 40. In fact, in Pujols’ tenth season with the Angels, he is scheduled to make $30 million, the highest annual salary within his contract. After making a combined $28 million in 2012 and 2013, Pujols’ contract will jump to $23 million in 2014 and climb $1 million each season before reaching $30 million in 2021.
However, Pujols hasn’t really lived up to the contract based on his production over the first 11 seasons in the majors, as he has posted the lowest WAR of his career in consecutive seasons (3.7 in 2012 and 0.7 in 2013). He was shutdown on August 19 due to a partial tear of his left plantar fascia and he should be ready to go next season; however, since he isn’t undergoing surgery, how well will this injury heal? Although the tear supposedly did what the surgery would have, one has to wonder if it can be aggravated, torn further (since it is still a partial tear), and debilitating enough to plague Pujols throughout the remainder of his massive contract.
And what about the contract that the “small-market” Cincinnati Reds gave to Joey Votto? The Reds handed Votto a ten-year, $225 million extension in April of 2012. The contract hasn’t even started yet, as the first year of the extension will be the 2014 season, Votto’s age-30 season. For ten years, the Reds will hope that Votto will produce numbers similar to his 2010 MVP season, something that he hasn’t seemed capable of reproducing over the last three seasons, despite leading the National League in on-base percentage the last three seasons, four including 2010. When you consider that the Reds are winning in 2013 and they still average just 31,479 in attendance (16th in MLB), how will the team be able to contend when Votto is making $25 million per season beginning in 2018, when he is 34 years old?
Even worse, the contract that the Philadelphia Phillies gave to first baseman Ryan Howard. Howard received his extension in April of 2010 and it didn’t go into effect until the 2012 season, a five-year, $125 million deal that would begin in Howard’s age-32 season. Since the start of the 2012 season, Howard has played in 151 games while posting a .244/.307/.445 line with 31 doubles, 25 home runs, 99 RBI, and a whopping 194 strikeouts in 609 plate appearances. The previous seven seasons, Howard had a .275/.368/.560 line with an average of 26 doubles, 41 home runs, and 123 RBI per season, and that was including his declining 2010 and 2011 seasons, in which Howard posted the lowest OPS of his career (.859 in 2010 and .835 in 2011)…that was, of course, until his dreadful 2012 season (.718 OPS).
The Problem With TV Deals
I was able to get a response from Baseball Prospectus’ Ben Lindbergh when I asked him via Twitter, “Do you think MLB teams are going to shy away from mega contract due to the Pujols/Howard/Hamilton deals in post steroid era?” His response:
— Ben Lindbergh (@ben_lindbergh) September 6, 2013
The TV money, which was mentioned previously, is an interesting enhancement to the revenue stream for major league teams. With the Los Angeles Dodgers getting over $6 billion over 25 years from Time Warner in their TV deal, which will give the club nearly $240 million per year in revenue, the already crazy expenditures of the boys in blue could become even more egregious this winter. The club seems capable of locking up left-hander Clayton Kershaw to a contract worth $30 million per season or more this winter, AND signing Robinson Cano to take over second base from Mark Ellis, who has a $5.75 million option for 2014 or a $1 million buyout. By taking on those types of contracts on top of the Carl Crawford ($20.25 million in 2014), Matt Kemp ($21 million in 2014), Adrian Gonzalez ($21 million in 2014), Zack Greinke ($26 million in 2014), and Andre Ethier ($15.5 million in 2014) deals, the Dodgers will be willingly entering the luxury tax threshold in an effort to win the World Series.
But what happens when money can’t buy titles? The New York Yankees seemed to always have the highest payroll in baseball and they haven’t won the title every season. Spending doesn’t quantify wins, it is, as Lindbergh referenced, the winner’s curse. This concept is outlined in Colin Wyers 2009 Baseball Prospectus piece titled The Real Curse, which Wyers states:
The market for baseball players seems to more closely resemble a sealed-bid auction than it does a market. Since the person who wins that sort of auction is typically the person with the largest bid, it stands to reason that the person who “wins” is in fact the person who overbids…
The curse is then being the winning bid on a contract that was probably more than what another team was willing to bid. By evaluating players and making smart investments, teams that break the curse are able to get production out of what they spend, while teams that suffer from the curse are those that fail to get production out of their investment, as in the suffering that the Cubs went through with Alfonso Soriano, the joint suffering of the Blue Jays and Angels over the Vernon Wells contract, and the Giants’ suffering through the Barry Zito contract.
When spending goes wrong, it can financially cripple a franchise, who is then responsible for allocating funds to an under-performing player while still trying to field a competitive team around that player. Teams seem more likely to take those types of risks, though. Due to the incoming revenue from the TV deals, teams like the Cleveland Indians, who celebrated the sale of the franchise owned SportsTime Ohio to Fox Sports this winter by signing Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, are more capable of making these potentially fatal bids.
Will the money continue to be there for clubs to take on these large, risky contracts?
Pete Kotz had an amazing story about the leagues finances, and while discussing television deals, he says:
With no one saying no, the networks see sports as a no-lose racket, with ESPN as its piper. The sports channel charges cable companies $5 a month per customer, by far the highest monthly fee in national television. While that may seem a pittance, it’s big money when spread over the 100 million U.S. households with pay TV. And it’s made the other big boys envious.
NBC and CBS have launched their own sports channels. Another from Fox is on the way. Even regional sports channels are starting to broach that $5 mark. Their bet is that viewers will always be willing to pay more. And more. And more.
…Today, the average TV bill rests at $86 per month, about half of which pays for sports programming. That’s more than double a decade ago. So it’s no coincidence that the cable and satellite industries have been jettisoning customers for nine years straight.
”I can’t tell you what will be the trigger,” says Matthew Polka, president of the American Cable Association. “But I am certain that at some point in the very near future, that balloon will burst.”
As cable and satellite customers are forced to pay more and they continue to leave those companies in an effort to save money, the money will eventually not be coming in. The cable and satellite companies will likely battle with the club’s networks to get lower rates, and there could be something drastic, like CBS being taken away from major markets. Eventually, the boom in finances and long-term contracts will go away and the inevitable crash will make it harder for clubs to make large financial commitments to star players. Imagine if the housing market was responsible for financing people’s salaries and when the market for home sales crashed how disastrous that could have been…but it did and it was miserable for the entire economy.
Major League Baseball is exempt from some things due to anti-trust laws, but nothing is too big to fail.
Who Is Worth a Mega-Contract?
It may seem easy to say that locking up players within their pre-arbitration or arbitration years to lucrative, long-term contracts seems more intelligent than waiting until free agency, as the annual salaries can slowly increase rather than starting and sitting at $25 million per year for eight straight seasons. A few examples of players who could be worth a long-term investment in this scenario:
- Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout is earning $510,000 in 2013 and he is pre-arbitration in 2014 before being eligible for arbitration in 2015, 2016, and 2017. If Trout continues his torrid pace for the next four seasons and reaches free agency in 2018 at the age of 26, what types of maniacal offers will he be receiving at that point?
- Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper signed a major league contract and will be arbitration eligible in 2016, 2017, and 2018 before reaching free agency at the age of 25 in 2019. Like Trout, he has posted absurd numbers, given his age, and, with Scott Boras as his current agent, could own half of a franchise based on what he will be offered in free agency.
- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg, Marlins’ right-hander Jose Fernandez, Marlins’ right-fielder Giancarlo Stanton, and Mets’ right-hander Matt Harvey (upon his return in 2015 from elbow surgery…if he is just as productive and dominant) are additional players who fit this mold.
Why are these types of players worth a long-term investment? Because they are young, producing prior to their prime years, and are more likely to continue producing towards the end of a 10 to 15 year extension than a player who turns 40 or 41 in year ten of their long-term contracts, like Joey Votto and Albert Pujols.
These are the types of mega-contracts that seem more reasonable and realistic for franchises, while being less likely to provide a curse on the investing bidder. Because the player is within the grasp of the franchise already, the team has all kinds of data available to analyze, they have coaches and front office personnel who have strong relationships with the player, and the fan-base, media, and community surrounding the player are already familiar, so it could be assumed that there are fewer outside influences that could impact player performance.
Regardless of the potential that these younger players possess, any long-term contract remains a risk for the franchise. If the clubs suddenly refuse to offer these types of contracts, however, the league and its owners would likely be accused of collusion. The mega-contract isn’t going away anytime soon. Despite future reluctance to meet the demands of players and agents to attain these large salaries, there will likely be enough money, or a few teams with large enough revenue streams, for at least one of these deals to be made each offseason. As fewer and fewer star players seem to reach free agency due to long-term commitments with their existing franchise (like Votto, Troy Tulowitzki, and Carlos Gonzalez), the stars that do reach free agency will likely continue to get the lucrative deals.
- It doesn’t matter that the Lerners are the wealthiest owners in baseball (halfstreetheartattack.com)
- Pujols’ contract rising, production declining (espn.go.com)
- Votto’s value extends way beyond plating runs (mlb.mlb.com)
- About that 12 year contract for Harper (halfstreetheartattack.com)
Alex Rodriguez is a monster! Alex Rodriguez needs to disappear! Alex Rodriguez is what is wrong with baseball! Alex Rodriguez had a painting commissioned of him as a centaur! Alex Rodriguez is a whiny baby! Alex Rodriguez is overpaid!
You know, Alex Rodriguez has really messed up, and he appears to have done so several times in his career. His entire career has been under a microscope as the heir-apparent in Seattle to the great Ken Griffey, Jr., and it has only taken off with his exorbitant contracts that he has been given by the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees during his career.
Sure, what he has done with performance-enhancing drugs is an absolute atrocity to baseball, and his persona and character should be questioned for his apparent tampering with evidence and bribes that he has been linked to within the Biogenesis case, but does he deserve as much scrutiny as he is receiving?
With Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds no longer on the field, Alex Rodriguez is the face of the steroid era and all of the nastiness that it has brought to Major League Baseball. Alex Rodriguez appears to have purchased and injected steroids into all of the aforementioned superstars behinds, while helping to create the disgusting lies that led to Ryan Braun‘s successful appeal of his first failed test and his subsequent Anti-Semite comments that were directed towards the urine collector. Alex Rodriguez cheated baseball so badly over the last 20 years that he is the asterisk that is going to be next to Barry Bonds in the record book and he will become the definition and the first image that appears when you Google cheaters in baseball.
I understand that Alex Rodriguez did something terribly wrong. I understand that Alex Rodriguez wasn’t a gentleman in a game that is painted as poetic by the brilliant mind of so many writers. I understand that Alex Rodriguez is a liar, he’s flawed, he’s horrible, he’s appalling, he’s demonic, and he’s human, and while others have tried to out so many others for their mistakes, especially the 2011 NL MVP, Braun, Rodriguez is attacking his issues in the court room, or at least face-to-face with Major League Baseball, instead of lying to his teammates, slandering those around him (including a urine specimen collector), and taking to the media to ridicule the processes.
Certainly, he isn’t innocent, but neither were all of those who came before him and along with him in the unreleased positive tests that sit in the hands of Bud Selig in the New York offices of Major League Baseball. To be labeled as the poster-child of an entire failed era of a sport…he is totally unworthy of that.
Major League Baseball turned a blind eye for so long on this issue that they are and will continue to be the group or persons who need to take the blame. There is no committee in Congress, no bottle in a locker, no investigative report by the mainstream media, and no amount of paperwork that the commissioner’s office can make public that will change the fact that owners and the league didn’t think that steroids were a problem when the gates were flooding with fans after the 1994 strike and the massively muscled power-hitters made baseball interesting again.
Alex Rodriguez is no saint, he is no victim, but he definitely isn’t the only problem, and he should not be getting attacked in the manner that he has been for the failings of those who were in charge of the game before and during his soon-to-be asterisk-ridden career.
Miguel Cabrera is amazing. His 1.139 OPS, 37 home runs, and 111 RBI entering play on Wednesday are incredible end-season totals, but the 30-year-old slugger has 44 games remaining this season. After winning the 2012 AL MVP and winning the first Triple Crown since 1967, Cabrera is ranked 1st or 2nd in all three Triple Crown categories again this season.
Does the last eleven years of dominance make Miguel Cabrera a Hall of Famer, or, bigger yet, the best right-handed hitter to ever play the game?
Taking a look at the record books and the history of the game, who would qualify as a competitor in this argument?
Hank Aaron: The non-asterisk version of the all-time home run king, “Hammerin’ Hank” also holds the all-time record for RBI (2,297) and total bases (6,856). His career .305 average and .928 OPS show his skills were not limited to mashing and there will never be a power hitter like him again, as his 1,383 strikeouts in 13,941 plate appearances (9.9 percent strikeout rate) exceeds the contact rate of any masher in today’s strikeout-heavy era.
Frank Robinson: Over a 16-year span, Robinson hit .302/.393/.550 while averaging 31 home runs and 97 RBI per season. He didn’t age all that well, earning one All-Star appearance and 21 points in MVP voting over his last seven seasons, but he was a two-time MVP, a Triple Crown winner in 1966, and a 12-time All-Star over his 21-year career.
Manny Ramirez: It may have been an ugly ending to his career with the female hormones and the steroid accusations, but Manny Ramirez was an incredible baseball player. For 14 years (1995-2008), Ramirez averaged 36 home runs, 119 RBI, and a .317/.414/.598 triple-slash, which led to 508 home runs and 1,660 RBI over that time. While his legacy is tarnished by the use of performance-enhancing drugs or illegal supplements, he hit the baseball better than nearly anyone in his generation during his prime.
Albert Pujols: Recently outed by former Major-Leager Jack Clark for steroid use, Pujols is still considered clean due to no documented steroid use and no publicly acknowledged failed drug test. Some thought that he was sliding in 2012 when he posted an OPS of .859, but he still hit 30 homers and drove in over 100 runs. The true decline started with his plantar fasciitis injury in 2013. Over Pujols’ first 12 seasons, though, he was a monster, averaging 40 home runs, 120 RBI, and a triple-slash of .325/.414/.608. Three MVP awards and nine All-Star appearances later, the 33-year-old first baseman has another eight years remaining on his contract in Los Angeles, so he will continue to add to those numbers, decline or not.
Alex Rodriguez: ARod is taking the fall for the entire steroid era right now, as he hasn’t failed a drug test but is being demonized for his admission of mistakes, the same thing that Jason Giambi and Mark McGwire did, but, in his prime, he was, arguably, the greatest player ever. Over 15 seasons (1996-2010), Rodriguez hit 608 home runs, drove in 1,810 runs, stole 294 bases, and posted a .305/.390/.576 triple-slash while averaging 41 home runs and 121 RBI per season. He may not be clean, just like Ramirez, but he still had to hit the ball and he always did.
Roberto Clemente: His first five seasons weren’t fantastic but the next 13 were pretty incredible, as Clemente won an MVP, 12 straight Gold Gloves, and made 12 All-Star appearances while earning MVP votes in 12 seasons. Clemente averaged a .329/.375/.503 line and, while he didn’t have light tower power like others on this list, he averaged 25 doubles, 10 triples, 16 home runs, and 82 RBI over his 13 best seasons. With his death at the age of 38 while on a humanitarian mission, Clemente ended his career with exactly 3,000 hits, and one could wonder how many more he could have had after he posted a .312/.356/.479 line in his final season.
Hank Greenberg: What could Greenberg have done without losing nearly a full season to a broken wrist and four seasons due to serving in World War II? If you take out Greenberg’s 1936 season (wrist injury), from 1934 through 1940, he hit .329/.435/.645 with 273 doubles (45 per season), 234 home runs (39 per season), and 900 RBI (150 per season). When he returned for his first full season after the war, 1946, Greenberg hit 44 home runs and 127 RBI while posting a .977 OPS. He was one of the greatest players in history, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1956, despite missing so much time during his prime.
Nap Lajoie: Say what you want about the dead ball era because LaJoie was still producing. A career OPS+ of 150 to go with his .338/.380/.466 triple-slash shows that it wasn’t all infield singles and slap-hitting during his time. LaJoie averaged 35 doubles, eight triples, four home runs, 82 RBI, and 20 stolen bases with his .351/.395/.488 triple-slash from 1897 to 1913 (17 seasons), including his 1901 Triple Crown season when he led the AL in home runs (14), hits (232), runs (145), doubles (48), RBI (125), total bases (350), batting average (.426), on-base percentage (.463), slugging percentage (.643), and OPS (1.106).
Joe DiMaggio: Like Greenberg, DiMaggio missed time while serving in the military including all of the 1943, 1944, and 1945 seasons. In DiMaggio’s first 10 seasons, he averaged 32 doubles, 11 triples, 30 home runs, 128 RBI, and a triple-slash of .330/.398/.589. Considering DiMaggio missed his age-28 through age-30 seasons while being a hero and was done playing by the age of 36, the fact that he had 3 MVP awards, 13 All-Star appearances (every season he played), and over 2,200 hits speaks volumes to his overall ability.
Willie Mays: Over a 13-year span (1954-1966), Mays hit .315/.390/.615 with 380 doubles (29 per season), 113 triples (9 per season), 518 home runs (40 per season), 1414 RBI (109 RBI per season), and 270 stolen bases (21 per season). Possibly the greatest all-around player to ever step foot on a diamond, Mays’ abilities are evident by his overall numbers, two MVP awards, 20 All-Star appearances, and 12 Gold Gloves. It’s possible that his 1972 and 1973 seasons take a little off of what people remember him to be, as his time in a New York Mets’ uniform were nothing short of ghastly.
Honus Wagner: Like LaJoie, Wagner was a “victim” of the dead ball era. The man with the most valuable baseball card ever managed a .340/.404/.489 line over 16 seasons while averaging 35 doubles, 13 triples, six home runs, 94 RBI, and 40 stolen bases per season from 1898 through 1913. He won eight batting titles, led the league in OPS eight times, and had a career OPS+ of 151.
Jimmie Foxx: For 13 seasons (1929-1941) Foxx abused opposing pitchers to the tune of 30 doubles, eight triples, 39 home runs, 139 RBI, and a triple-slash of .332/.438/.634, while reaching 500 home runs by the age of 32. By the age of 34, Foxx was basically finished, as he hit .237/.320/.366 with just 15 home runs and 73 RBI over his final 618 plate appearances, but he was one of the most dangerous hitters of all-time prior to that point.
Rogers Hornsby: From 1919 through 1929, Hornsby had a triple-slash of .377/.453/.619 while hitting over .400 three times, winning two MVP awards, and winning seven batting titles. Hornsby could do it all from the right side of the plate in an era that was dominated by Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Lou Gehrig.
So, with the aforementioned players above, where would Cabrera rank?
Considering that Cabrera is likely headed towards a slight decline as he gets into his 30′s, his physique leaves much to be desired, and he is currently stuck playing third base, when he should probably be playing first base or designated hitter, due to the presence of Victor Martinez and Prince Fielder in Detroit, what will the next ten seasons for Cabrera look like?
While no one will likely age like Barry Bonds, who hit 470 home runs after turning 31 years old, or Babe Ruth, who hit 405 home runs after turning 31, there are others that Cabrera could equal from age 31-on to post pretty dramatic numbers. For example, Raul Ibanez has managed to post a .278/.340/.473 triple-slash with 244 home runs and 959 RBI since turning 31. Even Carlton Fisk hit .261/.329/.441 with 242 home runs and 866 RBI in his post-30′s. You would think that make the probability of Cabrera reaching 600 home runs at over 90 percent.
However, after looking at the declines and disappearances of some of the greatest players of all-time, nothing can be certain. Miguel Cabrera has several years remaining in his career but he certainly ranks among the top 10 right-handed hitters of all time based on his production to this point. Due to his connection to Mike Trout in the 2012 AL MVP voting, you could wonder if the remainder of Cabrera’s career could be overshadowed by the statistics that are produced by Trout, Bryce Harper, or other yet-to-be-named superstars.
When all is said and done, though, who will be the greatest right-handed hitter of all time? Cabrera, one of the players mentioned above, or the field?
In December of 2011, I wrote about Ryan Braun getting suspended for using performance-enhancing drugs. Today, Braun was suspended for the remainder of the season for his association with Biogenesis and the use of another illegal substance to gain an advantage in Major League Baseball. Certainly, Braun won’t be the only player suspended, and the media circus will really take off when Alex Rodriguez gets his suspension in the coming days or weeks, but many others have been linked to the Miami-based lab, including:
Unfortunately, some of these players have been here before, particularly Braun, Rodriguez, and Melky Cabrera, but what is it about performance-enhancing drugs that is causing this type of reaction from fans, media, and baseball?
Cheaters have always been able to get by without extreme testing, suspensions, and legacy-tarnishing damnation. Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame (1991) and he doctored baseballs with spit and vasoline. Joe Niekro had a 22 year career filled with knuckleballs and sandpaper on his fingers. Whitey Ford is a Hall of Famer (1974) and he cut the baseball with his wedding ring. Players in the 1950′s through the 1970′s popped greenies and players in the 1970′s and 1980′s were snorting cocaine.
So…while taking steroids is altering the body, is it hurting the game?
One could argue and point to Barry Bonds‘ massive head and asterisk-laden home run record for some reference, but Bonds still had to hit the ball. He may have been able to recover quicker, but doesn’t baseball want their stars on the field?
What if Ken Griffey, Jr. was on steroids instead of aging so poorly, would he have broken Hank Aaron‘s record and kept playing? He played 140 games or more just three times from 2000 until his retirement in 2010, but would people have remembered a Herculean physique as he got older instead of the backwards cap and smile that people remember so fondly of “The Kid”?
What if pitchers took MORE performance-enhancing drugs so that they didn’t miss starts? No need for platelet-rich plasma injections, just inject some mega-bull semen into your body, or whatever it really is that is making an athlete that much more impressive than his counterparts.
The end result from Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire looking like chiseled body builders swinging toothpicks was excitement. More people were in seats because people wanted to see a special player hit the baseball off of the face of the moon and not seven no-hitters in one season.
There is value in a pitcher’s duel, but Philip Humber? Kevin Millwood? Should these guys be listed under no-hitters for the 2012 season? Give me more players hitting almost 40 home runs before the All-Star Break like Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and give it to me yesterday.
Baseball is a game that hasn’t progressed much over history. There are still nine players on a diamond, throwing a small round ball and hitting it with a long, round, wooden bat. Players are bigger, stronger, and faster in all sports today than they were twenty years ago, just compare Michael Jordan to LeBron James.
Players take care of their bodies differently, using vitamins, shakes, and many other dietary supplements to increase their strength and stamina. They are playing a game for 10 to 15 years and then moving on to autograph shows, families, and hitting or pitching coach jobs and can only earn at the highest level after their arbitration years are over and they reach free agency. This gives players about four to seven years to earn their top dollars, while producing enough to make them an asset for their team still. If that requires help, they should be entitled to it because, after all, it is their body, their future, and their side effects that they have to live with.
The chances of a player dying from steroids, as people seem to blame on former All-Star Ken Caminiti, is that people are just as likely to do something asinine after having several concussions in football, like the late Junior Seau. Why should MLB protect players from themselves when the NFL seems to not care one bit about their players, particularly those who have already retired?
Let the players play, produce, and be exciting to watch. Protect them from pitches to the head, fans running onto the field, and from being taken advantage of by agents and scouts in Latin America, but don’t tell them how to take care of their bodies. Bud Selig needs his stars on the field and the stars need to be doing what they do best, and if they need a little help, they should have it. Every other era in the history of the game has had access to something, so why not these guys?
- Milwaukee Brewers: Steroids Latest Victim (swingwithamiss.wordpress.com)
- Why Do MLB Players Still Use Steroids? (theface-off.com)
- Former MVP Ryan Braun Suspended For Rest Of Season (philadelphia.cbslocal.com)
- A-Rod nearly certain to receive ban for Biogenesis (cbssports.com)
- Ryan Braun suspended: Braun admitted to drug violations, suspended for season (examiner.com)
Strange relationship for you here:
Both of these players were shortstops in their first full seasons in the minors, but upon arrival in MLB, they were playing other positions (third base and/or outfield). In 2012, Player A’s team went 33-18 (.647) in his 51 games and Player B’s team went 56-31 (.644) in his 87 games in 2003. Both players led their surprising teams to the playoffs and both players are now dominating in 2013.
When compared to Cabrera’s first full season, Machado’s numbers won’t really measure up, but, again, he is a year younger. After all, a 20-year-old who is currently on pace for 68 doubles, 12 home runs, 85 RBI, and 12 stolen bases isn’t awful, but they don’t really touch Cabrera’s All-Star 2004 season:
Manny Machado is finally gaining the attention that is so well deserved. Not only is he producing offensively, but he has become the top third baseman in baseball. He ranks third in fielding percentage (.985 behind Placido Polanco and Juan Uribe, who are brutal as far as their range is concerned), first in range factor (3.06), and first in UZR/150 (28.2, David Wright is second with a 20.2 among third basemen).
Certainly, it seems unrealistic to label Manny Machado as the next Miguel Cabrera, as the Detroit Tigers third baseman is currently just three home runs back from Machado’s teammate Chris Davis (18 to Davis’ 21), or he would be leading in all Triple Crown categories, after becoming the first Triple Crown winner since 1967 (Carl Yastrzemski) when he won the award, along with AL MVP honors, in 2012; however, Machado has become one of the top players in baseball and worthy of the same hype that Mike Trout and Bryce Harper had last season. While he isn’t putting up the absurd numbers that Trout did in 2012, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t just as special. After all, how soon we forget about Trout hitting .220/.281/.390 in his first 135 plate appearances.
Manny Machado’s ceiling is that of an All-Star and if he ends up back at shortstop after J.J. Hardy‘s eventual departure, you’re looking at a player that is capable of matching Troy Tulowitzki‘s production in the middle infield. Not only that, but if Machado fills out his 6’2″ frame, he could even match-up with the man that he was compared to so frequently after being drafted at of a Miami high school – Alex Rodriguez…but…since ARod isn’t really a very “clean” name right now, lets just say that Machado becomes one of the top right-handed hitters of the generation, just like Cabrera.
- It Is Time For Manny Machado To Be In The Same Discussion As Harper And Trout (mlbreports.com)
- Manny is Macho (thebaseballhaven.mlblogs.com)
- Is Manny Machado in the same echelon as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper? (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Is Manny Machado Better Than Mike Trout And Bryce Harper? (bmore2boston.com)
With the season underway and some fans already looking forward to next year, even this early, it is a good time to look down on the farms for some names that you should get to know. Everyone knows who Wil Myers, Dylan Bundy, and Oscar Taveras are at this point, so these are players performing at elite levels who may not be household names…yet.
Ventura tends to be overlooked due to his height. Despite being just 5’11″ and 180 pounds, the soon-to-be 22-year-old with a mid-to-upper 90′s fastball is doing all that he can to create some hype and become one of the top prospects in baseball. Prior to the 2013 season, Ventura was ranked by Baseball America as the No.85 prospect and by MLB.com as the No.60 prospect in baseball. While he could end up in the bullpen due to his reliance on his dominant fastball and excellent curve, he could still improve his changeup enough to become a rotation fixture in Kansas City. His last two starts have been absolutely dominant in Double-A, as he has a 0.00 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, and a 20:5 K:BB in 11 innings. Tim Lincecum, Whitey Ford, and Pedro Martinez had some success as pitchers under six feet tall, so don’t squash the idea that Ventura could dominate as a starter.
Henry Owens, LHP, Boston Red Sox
The anti-Ventura, Owens is a 6’6″ left-hander with three solid pitches in the Red Sox organization. While other young pitchers, like Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, and Brandon Workman, are thriving in the system’s higher levels, Owens is dominating in High-A and demonstrating statistics that match his skills, something that wasn’t true last season. Owens is missing more bats and, while he won’t turn 21 years old until July, could see a few starts in Double-A this season. The Red Sox have to be excited about the progress that he has shown this season.
Garin Cecchini, 3B, Boston Red Sox
Cecchini is Owens’ teammate with High-A Salem, and while he doesn’t possess the normal hitting skills of a dynamic corner infielder, he is seems to be a robotic producer. Cecchini currently leads the Carolina League in total bases, and while he has just four home runs, his 19 extra-base hits, 10 stolen bases, and .468 on-base percentage show the type of talent that he has. At 22, it may be time to wonder if he’ll be able to produce enough pop to be valuable at third, especially with the Red Sox potentially moving Xander Bogaerts off of short in the future; however, hits 38 doubles last season could turn into home runs as he continues to fill his 6’2″ frame. He’s a pure hitter and possesses sabermetric skills that the Red Sox front office is known to drool over.
D.J. Baxendale, RHP, Minnesota Twins
This is really digging deep, but after striking out 10 while not allowing a run over seven innings in his last start, Baxendale could finally get noticed. A 10th round pick out of Arkansas in the 2012 MLB Draft, Baxendale was moved to starting pitcher this season by the Twins. Due to the club’s horrific starting pitching, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him move quickly if he continues to have this type of success. His strikeout rate isn’t going to overwhelm you, but the fact that he doesn’t allow many free passes is very encouraging. The only scouting reports that I’ve seen on him mention a 3/4 arm slot, an 88 to 91 mph fastball, and an average to solid slider and curve, but his ability to thrive while pitching in the tough SEC while at Arkansas as a reason to not count him out. Mound presence and confidence can go a long way in success, and Baxendale’s early results show that he could become useful for the Twins.
Rob Refsnyder, 2B, New York Yankees
You have to assume that Robinson Cano isn’t going to be leaving New York anytime soon, and it is questionable as to whether he will ever move off of second base if or when he does sign a long-term extension with the Yankees; however, what are the Yankees going to do if Cano doesn’t re-sign with the club? Nearly all of their top prospects are outfielders and with the club sitting on the declining skills and lofty contracts of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, will the club look for an expensive free agent option to replace him if he does leave? Robert Refsnyder doesn’t have a name that should be familiar to anyone, but if he continues to hit the way that he has this season, he could quickly become a part of the Yankees’ plans. A 5th round pick out of the University of Arizona in the 2012 MLB Draft, Refsnyder won the Most Outstanding Player award in the 2012 College World Series by leading the Wildcats to the title. While his introduction to professional ball in 2012 wasn’t fantastic, he did show solid on-base skills and a little bit of speed. He has already been promoted to Tampa this season and he has responded with a 1.055 OPS in his first 20 games after posting a .933 OPS in 13 games in Low-A. He is short on home run power but he does have solid gap power, speed, and excellent plate discipline. If he maintains this production, it wouldn’t be too crazy to see him as a second baseman and leadoff hitter for a Cano-less Yankees team in a couple of years.
Roberto Osuna, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Osuna just turned 18 years old in February and, while most boys his age are gearing up for high school graduation and prom night, Osuna is pitching for the Lansing Lugnuts and overmatching his competition in Low-A. At 6’2″, 230 pounds, Osuna has a solid frame that seems capable of handling a lot of innings, which could still grow. Hopefully, it wouldn’t grow like Bartolo Colon…Regardless, Osuna has very good stuff, he appears to have very good control, and if he keeps the ball in the park, he could be a tremendous asset for the Blue Jays. After several trades this winter to upgrade their club (which hasn’t worked out so well), the club could use an excellent season from Osuna to rebuild their minor league system.
Stetson Allie, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates
Taken in the 2nd round of the 2010 MLB Draft after posting a 1.29 ERA with 134 strikeouts in 60 innings as a senior in high school, the Pirates had hoped that they had another first round talent in Allie, after taking Jameson Taillon earlier in the draft. Allie didn’t pan out, as he posted some horrific numbers while on the mound (7.76 ERA, 2.18 WHIP, 29:37 K:BB in 26.2 IP) before he was moved to first base. While it didn’t go so well last season, the 2013 season has been a bit kinder to him. It is still the Sally League (Low-A) and Allie is 22 years old, but he is showing very good power and is second in the league in total bases. He is a long way off and he has a lot to prove, and his age could become a factor in the Pirates philosophy in moving him through the organization, as well. He does live, though, and you have to root for a guy who had such tremendous stuff and lost it so abruptly.
Manny Machado was the 3rd pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, a product of Brito Miami Private School, which led to numerous comparisons to another big shortstop from Miami, the one and only Alex Rodriguez. It seemed like an unfair comparison for someone to live up to, and despite several “the next fill-in-the-blank” prospects to come and go without any success, Machado is already reaching fantastic levels of production just three years removed from his senior prom.
Machado moved to Baltimore quickly, earning just 170 plate appearances in Low-A, 260 plate appearances in High-A, and 459 plate appearances in Double-A before earning a promotion with the Orioles. His overall minor league numbers suggested a pretty drastic learning curve was to be expected:
Surprisingly, his small sample size in Baltimore in 2012 was relatively close to his overall minor league numbers:
The OPS and batting average were very similar, but the OBP was pretty low. The 2013 season, however, has been a dramatic difference in ability:
Machado is hitting, hitting for power, and showing pretty good plate discipline. His walk rate is up to 5.9 percent in 2013 from the 4.5 percent that he had in 2012, and his strikeout rate has fallen to 15.8 percent from 18.8 percent in 2012. These are all fantastic signs for a player who won’t turn 21 until July 6th.
Certainly, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout deserve a lot of attention for their skills and production at such a young age, but it seems as though so many other excellent young players get lost in the hype. Obviously, Matt Harvey, Stephen Strasburg, and Brett Lawrie get some well-deserved attention, but Manny Machado deserves to be known as how special he already is, rather than another top talent to file with Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken, Jr. in the legacy of Baltimore Orioles’ infielders.
While his fielding is probably further along than his bat, Machado’s bat is damn good, as well.
Manny Machado is good enough right now to become the 2013 version of Mike Trout. In fact, due to the potential that he has in potentially moving back to shortstop when J.J. Hardy reaches free agency after the 2014 season, one could argue that Machado could become a more valuable player over the long haul.
ESPN got on board with his skills after a recent feature article by Jerry Crasnick, so it will only be a matter of time before he is getting too much focus. Everyone will see what he is made of at that point, good or bad, but he looks to have the skills worthy of “the next Alex Rodriguez” label, regardless.
- Defensive player of month: Manny Machado (espn.go.com)
- Manny Machado, A Rising Star (godeepsports.wordpress.com)
- Orioles’ Manny Machado Shows Maturity On And Off Field (baltimore.cbslocal.com)
- Machado’s defense has been high caliber (espn.go.com)
Since this was announced on Monday, which was April 1st (aka April Fool’s Day), it feels like this isn’t happening; however, after it was made official, giving a career .275/.342/.353 line an eight-year, $120 million seems like a nightmare, especially after the club was unwilling to give Josh Hamilton an extension or make the first offer when he hit free agency this winter. After allowing a player who has averaged a .305/.363/.549 line to leave for their biggest rival, they gave Andrus $15 million per season on an extension, all while Jurickson Profar waits for a position to open up in Texas.
Andrus is a fine player. Since arriving in 2009, he has posted a 13.0 WAR, which is sixth among shortstops during that time. He leads shortstops in stolen bases (123), he is second to Derek Jeter in runs scores (341), and he is 21st among shortstops in OPS (.695). TWENTY-FIRST.
Andrus provides a solid batting eye (8.4 percent walk rate vs. 13.2 percent strikeout rate) to go along with his solid speed, which allows him to utilize his skills on the base paths to score runs in a very potent offense. While he can get on base and score runs, his defense is where his true value develops.
Andrus’ UZR/150 rating is 7.8, fourth among shortstops since 2009 behind Brendan Ryan, J.J. Hardy, and Alexei Ramirez. His .971 fielding percentage is 15th among shortstops since 2009. Of the three players above Andrus in zone fielding who have higher fielding percentages than Andrus, only Alexei Ramirez has a higher OPS. If Ramirez can field better and post better numbers at short, is he worth $15 million or more per season?
Ramirez is 31 and doesn’t have the favorable upside that Andrus possesses, but we’ve seen speed become useless several times before. In 2004, Cesar Izturis had his best season at the age of 24:
While he didn’t post numbers close to what Andrus did prior to his age-24 season, he displayed solid gap power, speed, and, of course, impressive defensive skills. He won his first and only Gold Glove in 2004, posting a .985 fielding percentage and a 3.8 WAR.
Compare that production to Andrus’ career stats:
Is there a whole lot of difference in the abilities of these players, outside of the fact that Andrus’ had four seasons completed prior to his age-24 season, which will be the 2013 season? Certainly, Andrus is better than Izturis, but would anyone have paid Izturis $15 million per season if every one of his seasons had been as solid as his 2004 season?
Luis Castillo was an excellent second baseman early in his career for the, then, Florida Marlins. Sure, he wasn’t a shortstop, but he had the same type of skill-set, possibly better, with more speed and on-base skills, while Andrus seems to have more gap power. Once Castillo hurt his feet, though, his 50+ steals potential was also hurt, and he became a 20 stolen base, empty .300-hitting middle infielder. If Andrus gets hurt or loses speed, where is his value? He can’t cover as much ground defensively and his ability to create runs with his legs is gone, as well.
Shortstop is a very tough position, but the value of defensive metrics have taken over the player’s ability to help the club in other ways, specifically with their bat. Cal Ripken, Jr., Barry Larkin, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, and Miguel Tejada did a dirty, dirty thing to the position, allowing solid contribution across the board to become a reasonable expectation. Today, only Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes seem like those types of dynamic, offensive-minded shortstops, and for that reason, they appear to be worth exorbitant contracts.
The Rangers aren’t the only team that feels that defense is very important, though. When the Cincinnati Reds turned Didi Gregorius and Drew Stubbs into Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald in their trade with the Cleveland Indians this offseason, that was one thing, as Choo is a free agent after the 2013 season, but when the Indians flipped Gregorius to the Arizona Diamondbacks with Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp for Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, and, potential ace, Trevor Bauer, the new value of shortstops in baseball was apparent. Slap-hitting, defensively skilled middle infielders now have quite a bit of value.
So, if Gregorius, a career .265/.317/.370 hitter in the minor leagues, had that sort of value, then what is Xander Bogaerts worth? Bogaerts, a Boston Red Sox farm hand, hit .307/.373/.523 with a 4.13 range factor and .959 fielding percentage as a 19-year-old over High-A and Double-A in 2012. Gregorius had a range factor of 3.96 and a .964 fielding percentage as a 22-year-old over Double-A and Triple-A in 2012.
Furthermore, if Elvis Andrus is worth an eight-year, $120 million contract, then shouldn’t Troy Tulowitzki fire his agent? His extension for the 2015 to 2020 seasons gives him roughly $19.67 million per season, which isn’t nearly enough considering Andrus can’t carry his compression shorts with cup, since jock straps aren’t used anymore.
The good news for Andrus is that he has an opt-out clause after the 2018 season, allowing him to reach free agency during his prime, potentially earning more money if he reaches higher levels of production; however, if he under-performs or gets hurt, the Rangers don’t have an opt-out clause. The question now is: Was this a good contract for the Texas Rangers?
With Ian Kinsler signed through 2017 (with a 2018 team option) and Andrus locked up, where does Jurickson Profar go? What if Kinsler has another poor season, as his .749 OPS in 2012 was the worst of his career? Can they trade him? There have been leaks of Kinsler getting moved to left field or first base, but what happen to Mike Olt, another Rangers prospect, who is blocked through 2015 at third (possibly 2016, since Beltre has a vesting option)? Can Kinsler hit enough to play left? Do the Rangers trade Olt? Does Profar move to center even though Leonys Martin is hoping to prove himself there in 2013? Should they trade Profar?
The Rangers have committed to defense by signing Andrus and they have committed to spending a lot of money on mediocre offense. After letting Josh Hamilton walk, not addressing their No.5 starter situation this winter, and building excellent talent that they seem to be unwilling to commit to from their minor league system, the Rangers, who have made three straight playoff appearances, seem to have no clear direction to their roster makeup going forward.
When the Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, the hopes and dreams of ESPN died a little. How can they compare them to the 1995-1995 Bulls anymore? Why were they doing it in the first place is the bigger question. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, and Steve Kerr led the team to a ridiculous 72-10 record and an NBA title. They had a winning streak of 13 games and another of 18 games that season, which falls well short of the 27 straight wins that the Heat racked up behind LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, but the 1995-1996 Bulls have already shown that they were better. The Heat have lost 15 games this season and the Bulls lost three games in the playoffs (one to the Knicks in the semifinals and two to the Supersonics in the NBA Finals), finishing with a 87-13 record if you count the playoffs.
There is no need for this discussion. Certainly, the physique and game-play in today’s NBA and today’s athlete can leave one to wonder if LeBron could beat MJ in their prime, but I’ll take MJ’s six titles and be happy, while doubters of his greatness wait on James.
While thinking about this streak and the so-called greatness that went with it, it made me wonder which streak is the most impressive in sports. So, I’ve created my own list:
Joe DiMaggio‘s 56-game hitting streak: Ted Williams once said “I think without question the hardest single thing to do in sport is to hit a baseball “, but DiMaggio made it look easy. After this streak was snapped, he started another 16-game hitting streak. There just aren’t many who could live up to the media hype and pressure today, as the expectations and stress that go along with this type of greatness are unattainable in the pressure-cooker of today’s sports media. If the last person to hit .400 in a season can say that it’s the hardest thing to do in sports, and DiMaggio did it for as long as he did, how great is the player who does match or beat that number going to be?
Cal Ripken, Jr.’s 2,632 straight games played: With so many factors, like getting hit by a pitch or being taken out as a shortstop turning a double play, the fact that Ripken didn’t miss a game for nearly 16 years is absolutely crazy, especially when players today are getting “mental days” off when they are struggling, or they take a day game off after a night game on get-away days. The “Iron Man” doesn’t get enough credit for this record, nor the way that he paved the way for slugging shortstops like Barry Larkin, Nomar Garciaparra, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez with his excellent career in the batter’s box.
Orel Hershiser‘s 59 consecutive scoreless innings in 1988: Nearly seven straight games games worth of innings without allowing a run led Hershiser to a 23-8 record and a 2.26 ERA in 1988, as he won the Cy Young Award and helped the Los Angeles Dodgers win the World Series that year. While it is arguable that this would be simple to match by having a pitcher go five or six scoreless each start before bringing in relief pitchers, that starter would have to go six scoreless for 10 straight starts to beat this record. Even in today’s coddled pitching era, this record doesn’t look likely to fall.
1972 Miami Dolphins/2007 New England Patriots/2010-2011 Green Bay Packers: Going 14-0 like the ’72 Dolphins is fantastic in the NFL, where parity, injuries, and weather play a role in the weekly battles. While the Dolphins are the only team to have a perfect season, they, too, won 18 games in a row, counting three playoff games (Browns, Steelers, and Redskins) and one game in 1973 (49ers), before their streak came to an end. The Patriots lost in the Super Bowl in 2007 to the New York Giants, but, shockingly, it’s the 2010-2011 Green Bay Packers, who won five straight, including the Super Bowl, in 2010, before winning 14 straight in 2011, who hold the record for the longest winning streak in NFL history. Perfect seasons seem to be overrated.
1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers, 33-game winning streak: If ESPN wants to compare the Miami Heat to anyone, why not the team with the longest winning streak in NBA history? Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, and Elgin Baylor led the club to 33 straight wins before winning the NBA title, finishing 69-13 that season…better than the 2012-2013 Heat, even with a declining Baylor.
Johnny Vander Meer‘s two straight no-hitters: When someone throws a no-hitter, they tend to have coverage by sports networks for each pitch, right until someone gets a hit in the top of the 1st inning, and then it is all over and forgotten. Vander Meer’s feat of pitching two straight no-no’s is nearly unbreakable, especially in an era where pitcher’s arms are babied by bullpens and pitch counts. Look at what happened to Johan Santana after his 132-pitch no-hitter on June 1, 2012 – just three quality starts over his next eight starts, while his ERA ballooned from 2.38 to 4.85 – and you’ll see why theories in today’s game management would prevent a pitcher from tossing two straight no-hitters.
Boston Celtics, 8 straight NBA titles, 1959-1966: Free agency, salary caps, and fan boredom in this type of dynasty would prevent this from happening in the NBA today, but that didn’t stop Red Auerbach, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell from kicking butt and taking names for over a decade, winning 11 titles in 13 years, including eight straight. This is the group that the Miami Heat wanted to become when they threw their championship party after signing James and Bosh to play alongside Wade a few years ago. They aren’t there yet.
UCLA, 7 straight NCAA Men’s Basketball Titles, 1967-1973: John Wooden could recruit and coach like no man in the history of his sport. Bill Walton, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sidney Wicks, and Jamaal Wilkes were a part of this era and legacy in UCLA basketball, but Wooden’s fingerprints still last today, where successful UCLA coaches can’t stick around long if they aren’t winning titles, as they just fired their 8th coach since he left the program after the 1974-1975 season.
There are many more, like: Wayne Gretzky’s 51-game points streak, A.C Green’s NBA 1,192 straight games played, Brett Favre‘s 297 straight games played, and Lance Armstrong’s sev- oh, he doped and that got taken away. Nevermind.