Results tagged ‘ Ted Williams ’

Where will Albert Pujols end up? …

Albert Pujols,

Albert Pujols hit home run Nos. 499 and 500 last night, as you know by now. He’s the 26th member of the 500-home run club, the third-youngest player to reach the milestone and the first to hit 499 and 500 in the same game. And he called his shot, too. Pujols’ homers came in a win, and he got the balls back from a couple of classy Angels fans. Perhaps the best part is that it comes as he’s proving to the world that he’s got a lot of game left, with a Major League-leading eight home runs to go along with a .274/.337/.619 slash line.

Pujols is signed for eight more years (including this one), through 2021. Here’s a look at where he’d finish up, if he plays through that contract, given certain home-run averages …

30-homer average: 732
25-homer average: 692
20-homer average: 652
15-homer average: 612

That’s pretty impressive, that Pujols could average a mere 15 homers for the life of his contract and still become only the ninth player ever to reach the 600-homer milestone. To catch Willie Mays‘ 660, he’d have to average 21 homers from 2014-21; to catch Babe Ruth‘s 714, he’d have to average nearly 28 homers; to catch Hank Aaron‘s 755, he’d have to average nearly 33 homers; to catch Barry Bonds‘ 762, he’d have to average nearly 34 homers.

But the most impressive thing about Pujols is that he isn’t defined by the home run.

He’s simply been a great hitter.

Consider: Pujols is only the ninth member of the 500-home run club with a career batting average of at least .300. And only three members have a higher one than Pujols’ current .321 clip — Ted Williams (.344), Babe Ruth (.342) and Jimmie Foxx (.325).

Yes, the general public has soured a bit on 500 homers, with Pujols becoming the 10th new member of the club in the last 15 years. But power numbers have gone down considerably in recent years, thanks in large part to tougher testing for performance-enhancing substances, and the 500-homer club — almost like the 300-win club, but not as drastic — could go a long time without a new member.

Here’s a look at the active home run leaders, beyond Alex Rodriguez (654) and Pujols, with their ages in parenthesis …

Adam Dunn (34): 444
Jason Giambi (43): 438
David Ortiz (38): 435
Paul Konerko (38): 434
Alfonso Soriano (38): 410
Adrian Beltre (35): 376
Carlos Beltran (37): 363
Aramis Ramirez (36): 357
Mark Teixeira (34): 341
Torii Hunter (38): 317

Besides maybe Dunn — and that’s still a big “maybe” — I don’t see anyone on that list who stands a chance at reaching 500. We may have to wait on the likes of Miguel Cabrera (367 at age 31) or Prince Fielder (287 at 29), or perhaps even Mike Trout (67 at 22) or Giancarlo Stanton (123 at 24).

And after Pujols — if he gets there — when’s the next time we’ll see 600?

“When you look at how great he’s been for the last 14 years, and you start averaging out what that meant to hit 500 home runs, it’s just an incredible feat,” Raul Ibanez said of Pujols. “Combine that with the lifetime batting average, the on-base percentage, it’s just extraordinary.”

Alden

100 runs, no matter what …

Mike TroutLast year, Mike Trout scored 100 runs despite spending the entire first month in the Minor Leagues.

This year, triple-digits in that category may be even more impressive.

In Wednesday’s 5-4 win over the Blue Jays, Trout scored two runs to give him 101 on the season, making him only the seventh player in Major League history to notch 100-plus runs in his age-20 and age-21 season.

In 2012, a year in which he led the Majors with 129 runs scored, Trout reached No. 100 in his 481st plate appearance. That gave him an astounding 44 percent run-scoring percentage, tied with Desmond Jennings for first among American League players with at least 500 plate appearances.

In 2013, a year in which he trails only the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter (114) in runs, he did it in his 641st plate appearance. Entering Wednesday, Trout’s run-scoring percentage was way down to 30 percent. The reason is two-fold: (1) He’s stealing less bases (49 to 32) because pitchers are watching him a lot more closely; (2) he hasn’t had much consistency behind him, with Albert Pujols hurt and Josh Hamilton struggling.

That’s OK, Trout has made up for that with an on-base percentage that’s 38 points higher than last year’s (.399 to .437).

And somehow, he still managed to score 100 runs.

“Last year was incredible because he did it minus 100 at-bats that he didn’t have in the month of April,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “And that’s off the charts what he did last year. I think this year his numbers are going to be terrific. He’s having an incredible year. And I don’t think it’s under the circumstances where teams know what he can do. I mean he’s running into a lot of 1.15, 1.2 times to the plate, which he didn’t see as much of last year. It’s impacting his ability to steal, but it’s also giving guys at the plate a better look where pitchers are a little more uncomfortable staying in a slide step. So he still brings a presence there.”

Here’s a list of the six others who notched back-to-back 100-run campaigns in their age-20 and age-21 seasons …

John McGraw (1893-94)
Mel Ott (1929-30)
Buddy Lewis (1937-38)
Ted Williams (1939-40)
Vada Pinson (1959-60)
Alex Rodriguez (1996-97)

Alden

Why Mike Trout should’ve won the MVP …

And now, at last, it’s over.

That heated MVP debate — which saw countless bloggers, reporters, columnists, broadcasters, analysts, fans, executives, players and even Nate Silver take hard stances — can be put to rest. Miguel Cabrera edged out Mike Trout for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, in a vote that was nowhere near as close as many expected, and the argument has been settled for good. Turn on the lights, settle your bar tab, stop the music and drive home safely, everyone.

Right?

Nah, probably not. This is a debate that will probably continue for a long, long time.

And in my mind — with the risk of coming off as a complete homer — Trout was the AL MVP in 2012.

It has nothing to do with WAR. I just think Trout was a better all-around player who did more for his team this year. Simple as that. Cabrera’s season — .330 batting average, 44 homers, 139 RBIs; 1.081 OPS in the final two months — was outstanding. He was clearly the better hitter — but only slightly. Trout was far better on the bases, far better on the field and, in many ways, his season was unprecedented (Cabrera can’t say that).

The fact Trout did most of it at age 20, and all of it despite spending the first month in the Minors, shouldn’t help him in this argument; just like track record shouldn’t help Cabrera. But to vote for Cabrera over Trout, in my mind, is to almost ignore the importance of baserunning and defense in this game. And I thought we had evolved from that.

***

I don’t really fault those who voted Cabrera, but I find fault in the way some may have reached those conclusions. See, if you’re going to vote for Cabrera, vote for him because he’s the best hitter on the planet, which he is. Don’t vote for him due to things that were in many ways out of his control.

Like …

The Triple Crown

An incredibly rare achievement — only 15 others have done it, and none since 1967 — but also one that’s dependent on how others do.

Those batting-average, home-run and RBI totals Cabrera used to win the honor would’ve won him the Triple Crown only one other time since 2000 (in ’08). In all the other years, he’d be short in batting average, or homers, or RBIs — and in several cases, more than one. I’m not dismissing it, just trying to point out how arbitrary it can be.

On four occasions — twice with Ted Williams, once each with Lou Gehrig and Chuck Klein — the Triple Crown winner and MVP were different.

Here’s one reason why 2012 should’ve made it five: As rare as the Triple Crown is, Trout notched an even rarer feat. He topped 125 runs, 45 steals and 30 homers in the same season. No other player in history has done all three of those in one season. And on top of that, he hit over .320.

Playoffs

Yes, the Tigers made the playoffs, but they did so by winning one less game than the Angels (89-88) because they had the benefit of playing in the much-weaker AL Central.

And then there’s how they performed down the stretch, a big sticking point for Cabrera supporters. After Aug. 31, Cabrera posted a .344/.411/.670 slash line. Trout: .289/.400/.500. But who’s to say September is any more important than, say, June or July? (Heck, if  you ask the Angels, the vast majority will say a run-starved, Trout-less April is the reason they ultimately didn’t make the playoffs.) Don’t they all count towards the aggregate number of wins that decide whether or not you play on?

“I think if I don’t win the Triple Crown, if we don’t get into the playoffs, I think there’s no question Trout would be the MVP,” said Cabrera, who, to his credit, was very complimentary and respectful of Trout in a conference call. “I think winning the Triple Crown helped me a lot to win this. I think [getting to the playoffs] helped me a lot.”

There were many reasons to like Cabrera, but those two shouldn’t have been major factors.

***

Most importantly, though, I simply can’t ignore how much better Trout was than Cabrera in every other aspect besides standing in a batter’s box, and how important that was to his team.

Here are some stats courtesy of Silver’s blog post (the same one he used to pick 99 of 100 states accurately in the last two presidential elections) …

Trout gave the Angels 12 additional runs on the bases when compared to an average runner, while Cabrera cost the Tigers three.

Trout saved 11 runs on defense according to UZR, while Cabrera (who, granted, played a better third base than I expected) cost them 10.

Again, no disrespect to Cabrera, who I’ve enjoyed watching since he was a much slimmer shortstop coming up in the Marlins’ system. I just think Trout did more for his team, and I think a lot of voters got caught up in the hollow luster of a Triple Crown and a playoff berth.

Trout should’ve won the MVP — and you don’t need to cite a 10.7 WAR to believe it.

Alden 

Tigers have strong opinions about Cabrera, MVP …

The AL MVP race between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera has been a hot topic of late. The Angels, for the most part, have taken a politically correct approach. Trout talked Wednesday about how “first on the list is getting to the playoffs,” and Mike Scioscia said, “They’re both putting up extraordinary numbers in some different areas.”

But the Tigers, particularly ace Justin Verlander and manager Jim Leyland, haven’t been shy about expressing their desire to see Cabrera win the hardware.

Here’s what they said postgame today (thanks to Jason Beck and Anthony Odoardi for passing it along) …

Leyland, when asked about the sabermetric numbers being in Trout’s favor …

“Well, I’m going to answer that this way: I will not use the player’s name, but according to the sabermetrics, there’s a player that is better than Miguel Cabrera. When the guy that gave me the sabermetrics told me that, I said, ‘Well then, should we trade Miguel Cabrera for the player you’re talking about?’ And he said, ‘Oh no, you can’t do that.’ And I said, ‘Well then, you don’t believe in sabermetrics, and neither do I.’”

Verlander, when told about the possibility that Cabrera gets the Triple Crown and Trout still wins the MVP …

“That’s ridiculous. When was the last time there was a Triple Crown winner? Sixty-seven? OK.”

Verlander, on Ted Williams winning two Triple Crowns and not winning the MVP either year (1942 and ’47) …

“Ted Williams lost because of what’s his name? Joe DiMaggio [in '47]? Which goes down as one of the worst MVP votings of all-time, I think, in my opinion. His statistical year wasn’t nearly as good as Ted Williams’. … That would be a joke in my opinion.”

Verlander, on whether this would be the worst MVP decision if Cabrera didn’t win …

“Yeah. [The Triple Crown] hasn’t been done since 1967. Come on. Even the fact that he’s one home run away is just absolutely absurd. I mean, just watch him. Watch him when we need him down this home stretch. Oh my God. You want to talk about MVP, compare their numbers the last two months of the season. Big difference.”

Verlander, last year’s MVP, has gone as far as creating T-shirts to tout Cabrera’s MVP case.

Cabrera simply lauded Trout, saying …

“He’s amazing, man. You need to give some credit to him. At that age what he’s done is very amazing. That’s why everybody talk about him. That’s unbelievable, man. There’s nothing we can do, him and me. We’ve both got a great year. We can’t control that. We go out there and play hard, win some games. He’s focused on winning some games with Anaheim. I’m focused on winning some games here in Detroit. We’ll let you guys decide what’s gonna happen.”

Alden

Leyland: Hitting the other way not ‘cure-all’

LAKELAND, Fla. — One of the great perks of covering the Major Leagues (besides Marriott points and frequent-flyer miles, of course) is getting a chance to sit in the manager’s office and listen to some of the greatest minds break down the game. I’m not talking about when the TV cameras and radio microphones are there, and the cliche and mundane spew out of the skipper’s mouths.

(We played hard He’ll bounce back You just have to tip your cap One game at a time Just go get ‘em tomorrow – those are just some of my favorites)
I think my favorite part about covering the big leagues is the time when the pre-planned questions are finished, and all that’s left is small talk to try and fill in the silences. That’s what happened at Tigertown on Sunday, when the great Jim Leyland started talking about the notion of hitters going the other way (pictured is right field at Tigertown — slow picture day).
Basically, the Tigers’ manager isn’t against it by any means, but he feels the concept that hitters have to be able to go the other way is a bit overblown.
DSC01471.jpg
“There’s a lot to be said about using the whole field, but I think it’s overrated,” Leyland told the group of reporters — with me just lucky to be among them, honestly. “It’s over-exaggerated, in my opinion. … The greatest hitter of all-time [Ted Williams] was a dead-pull hitter. That’s all I can tell you. I’m not trying to argue with anybody. … There’s a lot to be said [for hitting the ball to the opposite field] — two strikes. Ted Williams always said that with two strikes, you have to give up a little bit. But he still didn’t hit the ball to left field.”
There’s irony here, because Leyland’s biggest bat, Miguel Cabrera, is so special because he’s got a world of power and he’s also able to use all fields as well as anybody.
Leyland did note, though, that back in “the old days,” pitching was a lot more structured (behind in the count, pitchers were pretty much going to throw a fastball; ahead in the count, it meant an offspeed pitch was coming). These days, Leyland pointed out, pitchers are a lot more confident in throwing changeups and curveballs in counts like 3-0 and 3-1. So staying back and hitting the ball where it’s pitched has more value.
But he doesn’t believe hitters should get too wrapped up in that notion — it could screw some guys up, actually. 
“It makes a lot of sense to use the other field — I’m not arguing that with anybody — but I’m also saying that’s not the cure-all, in my opinion,” Leyland went on. “Hitting the ball the other way, that does not cure everything, in my opinion. Sometimes, when they hit the ball to right-center field, you know what happened? They weren’t trying to hit the ball to the opposite field. They got a … fastball at 98, and they were a little late.”
——-
One week down on Gonzo and ‘The Show,’ many more to go (I hope). 
Here’s a look at where I’ll be this coming week …
* Monday: Red Sox (Fort Myers)
* Wednesday: Twins (Fort Myers)
* Thursday: Cardinals at Mets (Port St. Lucie)
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