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Fun Cards: 2019 TWJ Randy Johnson

Big Unit

When looking for a Hall of Famer to represent the Diamondbacks, it’s slim pickings. Roberto Alomar played all of 38 games there, which doesn’t necessarily disqualify him, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Then there is Alan Trammell, who was a coach from 2010 to 2014 and managed the final three games in 2014 after Kirk Gibson was fired.

The only guy left is Randy Johnson, and he ain’t no slouch. He is the only Hall of Famer so far sporting an Arizona cap on his plaque. Will Curt Schilling join him when (not if) he is finally inducted?

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Fun Cards: “Baseball Immortals” Randy Johnson

Johnson

Five Cy Young Awards. Second on the all-time strikeouts list. Randy Johnson‘s career had a rocky start, but once he gained command of his pitches, there was no doubt the 6-foot-10 hurler was bound for Cooperstown. He is actually the third Randy Johnson to play in the big leagues. The first was a designated hitter for the White Sox in 1980 and Twins in 1982. The second was a third baseman for the Braves from 1982-1984. Obviously, neither amounted to much at the big league level.

TWJ cards on tumblr

TWJ cards on tumblr

If you haven’t been checking out TWJ cards on tumblr every day, you have been missing out on some interesting baseball players. From Hall of Famers Satchel Paige and Randy Johnson to not-quite-Cooperstown-level guys Julio Franco and Steve Garvey, we’ve been featuring some interesting ballers in the “pre-season” set.

I have been working on short write-ups for them as well, but that portion of the “fun card” will be ending Sunday. I have other projects that require more time, and I just can’t justify taking the time to research and write for the tumblr page. The cards will continue, however. There are 170 total cards, and only 22 have been posted so far (23 if you count today’s image, which will appear around lunchtime on the east coast). Be on the lookout for Deacon White, Ernie Banks, Rolando Arrojo, Jim Sundberg, Cesar Cedeno, Fernando Valenzuela, Paul Goldschmidt, Dan Plesac, and many others on the TWJ cards on tumblr page!

And then, on Opening Day (the real one, not the one that is played on foreign soil), the official 2015 TWJ set will start to pop up. Want a preview? Read the rest of this entry

Cooperstown is calling

Randy Pedro Biggio

Time is fast approaching for the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 to be announced. On Tuesday, January 6, the results of the BBWAA voting will be announced, with at least three players expected to be ushered into Cooperstown. The intimidating Randy Johnson, the dominant Pedro Martinez, and lifetime Astro Craig Biggio should all share the stage this summer. But who else might join them?

Smoltz Piazza Bagwell

Early ballot tracking shows John Smoltz receiving a lot of support, and will likely be the fourth man inducted in July, joining teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and manager Bobby Cox, all who were immortalized in 2014. I’m not going to debate whether Smoltz was better than Mike Mussina or Curt Schilling; regardless of who was better, I believe all three should have plaques in the Hall of Fame. But allowing Smoltz in on his first appearance on the ballot should create more conversation about Mussina and Schilling, whose career statistics are very similar, and hopefully we will see support for them increase next year.

What about Mike Piazza? He was one of the greatest hitting catchers of all-time, but he is now in his third year of eligibility. Suspicions about steroid use create a dark cloud over his candidacy, but there has never been a shred of solid evidence or a Jose Canseco allegation against him. With 109 ballots revealed, Piazza is barely over the 75% threshold, but as Tuesday approaches that number is expected to drop. It would be nice to go ahead and get him in the door to clear room on the ballots of those who like to check off the full ten names allowed.

Same for Jeff Bagwell, who currently has just under 75% support. The steroid suspicions are in the minds of many writers, but Bagwell has vehemently denied using and his numbers merit induction. How fantastic would it be to see six men standing on the stage in Cooperstown on induction day?

The next name on the list is Tim Raines, who has seen a steady increase in votes with the exception of last year, when his percentage dropped from 52.2% to 46.1%. The early numbers show him at 63.3%, still far short of the required 75%, but giving hope to fans of the Rock that he will climb the rest of the way by the time his eligibility ends. 2015 is Raines’ eighth year on the ballot; a new rule allows a player’s name to be listed for ten years instead of fifteen (with the exceptions being those who were already past the ten-year mark when the rule was enacted this year).

After Raines comes Schilling and Mussina, then the PED posterboys Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. I don’t expect (or want) those two to ever receive enough support from the writers or the Veterans Committee. Designated hitter extraordinaire Edgar Martinez is next, followed by four guys that I believe should be given more consideration than they have received so far: Alan Trammell, Fred McGriff, Lee Smith, and Jeff Kent. Sadly, none of them have any shot of election in 2015.

The big names in danger of falling off the ballot after this round include Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, along with first-timers Gary Sheffield, Nomar Garciaparra, and Carlos Delgado. Yankee superstar Don Mattingly is on the ballot for his fifteenth and final time.

Who is the greatest left-handed pitcher of all-time?

Battle for the top spot

How important are awards and All-Star appearances? In the battle for the best left-handed starter, it makes a big difference. With awards and All-Stars included, Randy Johnson comes out on top with a score of 270.10, followed by Steve Carlton (#2, 267.64) and Warren Spahn (#3, 244.40). When awards and All-Stars are removed from the equation, Spahn narrowly beats Carlton for the top spot and the Big Unit drops to third place. I know Johnson was intimidating, but there is no way I would pick him over either Spahn or Carlton when building my historical fantasy team. Sandy Koufax (#8, 180.58) would be another consideration, but he has a lower score due to his short career; in twelve years he won 165 games and compiled a WAR of 50.3.

Glavine

Only two other lefties topped the 200-point mark: Lefty Grove (#4, 203.46) and Eddie Plank (#5, 200.01). Tom Glavine (#6, 198.62) just barely missed. Overshadowed by Greg Maddux during his prime, Glavine is perhaps the best number two starter in history. His baseball cards are a dime a dozen; even his rookie cards can many times be had for less than a dollar.

The man the surgery was named after

Carl Hubbell is next on the list with a score of 185.94, and two non-Hall of Famers, Tommy John (#9, 176.01) and Jim Kaat (#10, 170.14), round out the top ten. Both were very close to the 300-win mark, but had very long careers in which they amassed all those wins and only averaged 13 victories per season.

2011 Fan Pack Challenge: Arizona Diamondbacks

After a little bit of a drought on the fan pack front, the Arizona Diamondbacks came through today…sort of. This was a difficult one to judge because of the way it was packaged. It was more of a fan booklet than a fan pack. There was no pocket schedule, and actually no schedule in the booklet either. I may write them back to request just a schedule.

The booklet is kind of neat, so I went ahead and gave them 2 points. there are some player profiles, a mini poster of the mascot that can be removed from the booklet, coloring pages, crossword puzzles, etc. But it’s not just a photocopied pack of papers, this is something that they sent off to the printers to have made, thus the 2 points. But there was nothing else in the envelope, which was a little disappointing. I love pocket schedules and stickers.

Here’s their score:
The inclusion of pocket schedule(s) = 0 points
Stickers = 0
Baseball cards = 0
High-quality promotional items = 2
Other stuff = 0
Timeliness = 8 points
TOTAL SCORE = 10 POINTS


(Click on picture for a bigger scan…then print it out and color it! Yippee!)

The significance of the first-ballot Hall of Famer

The results were just announced a couple of days ago, and Andre Dawson was the only player chosen by the BBWAA to enter the Hall of Fame in 2010. It was Dawson’s ninth year on the ballot. Some are grousing about his lack of qualifications, while others are ecstatic that he is finally in. To me, Dawson is a Hall of Famer. He was one of the heroes of my childhood due to his exposure on WGN, and it’s hard to erase childhood memories even when statistics are hurled at you.

Another complaint I have seen on several blogs is the concept of “first ballot Hall of Famers.” The line of thought is, “How can someone be a Hall of Famer next year, but not this year? If you’re a Hall of Famer, you’re a Hall of Famer plain-and-simple!” While there is merit to this, I can understand the line of thinking of those who refuse to vote for certain players on their first ballot. The idea is that a first ballot induction is somewhat of a higher honor, and it is. Sure, there were oversights (Ryne Sandberg, Carlton Fisk), and there were some who got in on their first ballot that really didn’t deserve it (Paul Molitor? Seriously?), but in an imperfect system it’s a reasonable line of thought.

That’s why I don’t really have a problem with Alomar waiting a year, and Larkin a couple of years. I’m surprised that Alomar was not elected (especially after the Paul Molitor debacle), but not offended. He’ll get in next year, along with Blyleven, and while that may take a potential vote away from Larkin, I’m confident Barry will be inducted in 2012 or 2013.

Here are my predictions of Hall inductees for the next several years (* = first ballot, ** = final year of eligibility):

2011: Alomar, Blyleven

2012: Larkin

2013: Craig Biggio*, Jeff Bagwell, Edgar Martinez

2014: Greg Maddux*, Tom Glavine*, Frank Thomas*

2015: Randy Johnson*, Tim Raines

2016: Ken Griffey, Jr.* (assuming he retires after this season), Mike Mussina

2017: John Smoltz (assuming he retires after this season), Lee Smith**

Bagwell may squeeze through in 2012 on his first try, but to me he just doesn’t qualify as a first ballot Hall of Famer if you are going to limit it to the greatest of the great (Rickey Henderson, Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn). And I’m still not sold on Edgar, but I do believe he will pick up enough steam over the next few years.

2014 will be interesting – all three are more than deserving of first ballot status, but when is the last time three guys went in on their first try in the same year? It’s only happened once (excluding 1936, the first year of voting). You have to go back to 1999 – Nolan Ryan, George Brett, and Robin Yount – just barely. Ryan and Brett both received more than 98% of the vote; Yount got just 77.5%.

Thomas’ latter years may hurt him, but he should still go in on the first ballot with at least 80%. Glavine should also receive at least 80%, although if the writers look back at history and see that Warren Spahn only received 83.2%, a few might hold back their votes. Maddux, on the other hand, should receive 100%. He won’t, but he should. Any writer who fails to vote for Maddux should have his voting rights stripped, taken out into the street and be publicly flogged.

2015 is the year I have Raines finally getting in. The writers have to wake up eventually, right?

The Big Unit will cruise in, as will Junior (I’m assuming he retires after this season). The Moose will have to wait a couple years, and Lee Smith will get in during his final year of eligibility.

You might notice that I didn’t use any statistics in this post, other than the voting percentages that Hall of Famers received. I’m not anti-stat; I think stats are great. But I just get overwhelmed with all the new stuff that has picked up steam in this internet age. WHIP, WAR, Win Shares, OPS+…I don’t understand half of them. I’m more of a counting stat guy. And yeah, I know Molitor had 3k hits. But he still shouldn’t have been in on the first ballot.

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