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Goodbye, Don Baylor

(June 28, 1949 – August 7, 2017)


Slugging outfielder and 1979 American League MVP, Don Baylor passed away today from multiple myeloma, a form of cancer of plasma cells. Baylor his 338 home runs in his career, was an All-Star in 1979, and won the World Series with the Minnesota Twins in 1987. He presided over the Boston Red Sox’s kangaroo court, and fined Roger Clemens $5 for giving up a single to Spike Owen on an 0-2 count during his 20-strikeout game in 1986. He was also the Colorado Rockies’ first manager.


The Edgar Martinez Award

Don Baylor 1978 Topps card

While doing some research this morning, I noticed on Don Baylor‘s page that he had won the “Edgar Martinez Award” in 1985 and 1986. I found this interesting, since Martinez did not make his big league debut until September 12, 1987. What Baylor actually won in 1985 and 1986 was the “Designated Hitter of the Year” Award. It was instituted in 1973 and renamed in 2004 for Martinez, who is considered by many to be the greatest DH of all-time.

Martinez appears on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot for the sixth time this year. Results will be announced in January, but I do not expect him to improve from the 25.2% he received last year. I’m one of those guys who simply does not see the case for Edgar Martinez. He was a very good hitter, but that’s about it. His WAR total definitely puts him in the Hall of Fame conversation, but there is so much more to consider. He failed to reached any of the “magic number” milestones in counting stats, and was never really a dominant player in the eyes of the media. Like many others before him, and many other since, he was a very good player. Hall worthy? Not in my eyes.

Your best Angels

A few weeks ago, I told you about one of my favorite discussion forums, Baseball Fever. A new project in the Hall of Fame forums there asks who you think the best non-Hall of Famers are for each team at each position. A great question, and a great way to learn about the lesser-known names in baseball history.

The first thread discussed the California Angels, or, if you prefer, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Legendary players such as Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Nolan Ryan, and Don Sutton are all ineligible since their plaques hang in Cooperstown.

My picks:

C: Bob Boone
1B: Wally Joyner
2B: Bobby Grich
SS: Jim Fregosi
3B: Doug DeCinces
LF: Brian Downing
CF: Fred Lynn
RF: Chili Davis
sub1: Don Baylor
sub2: Tim Salmon
LHP: Chuck Finley
SP: Frank Tanana
SP: Mark Langston
#4 SP or RP: Dean Chance
sub3: Devon White

The top picks of the BBF think tank:

C: Bob Boone
1B: Wally Joyner
2B: Bobby Grich
SS: Jim Fregosi
3B: Doug DeCinces
LF: Brian Downing
CF: Devon White/Fred Lynn
RF: Tim Salmon
Sub 1 and 2: Chili Davis/Don Baylor
P: Chuck Finley (LHP)
P: Frank Tanana (LHP)
P: Dean Chance
P: Andy Messersmith
P: Mike Witt

The infielders were all unanimous selections, while Salmon appeared on 14 of 15 ballots as RF. I was the only one to have him sitting on the bench. In CF, White and Lynn each received 5 votes for a tie. If either wins the position for another team (White for the Blue Jays, for instance), the other becomes the winner for the Angels. Once a player is chosen for a team, he is ineligible for any other team. So Boone can’t be selected for the Phillies, Grich for the Orioles, and so on.

Currently, the Houston Astros are under consideration with the Oakland A’s on deck. If you think you would like to participate in this project (and if you’re a baseball history freak, I would strongly encourage it), join the Baseball Fever discussion forums and jump in!

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