Thanks to the good people over at Deadspin.com, we may have shed some light on the unsavory tactics of one of baseball’s greatest heroes. X-Rays from the same expert who found cork in a game-used Pete Rose bat a few years ago confirmed that there was cork in a Mantle bat that was going up for auction.
With all the PED allegations swirling around modern superstars like Ryan Braun and Robinson Cano, spitball accusations flung at the AL’s best pitcher, and the general degradation of the sport’s reputation over the last 15 years of steroid use, this is a frustrating, hard-to-ignore development.
We may brush this aside because it’s from half a century ago, and we couldn’t possibly tarnish the great Yankee’s legacy, but it really shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Rose is banned from baseball forever for betting on the game, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and more are pseudo-banned from Cooperstown for their involvement (allegedly, in many cases…but let’s be real) with PED’s in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and multiple other players have been blacklisted by MLB for other significant scandals.
I’m not calling for action against the deceased Mantle or any alteration to his Hall of Fame plaque, but we must wonder at what point we accept all forms of cheating as part of the sport, and at which point we go 100 percent intolerant of it.
However, according to a Redditor who commented on this post on r/baseball and quoted an episode of Mythbusters, corking a bat may not actually benefit a hitter in any way. In fact, it might do just the opposite:
According to the MythBusters August 8, 2007 baseball special, the ball hit by a corked bat travels at only half the speed of a ball hit by an unmodified bat, causing it to go a shorter distance. The cork inside the bat actually absorbs the kinetic energy like a sponge, hindering the batter’s performance. In addition, because corked bats are lighter, they have less momentum to transfer to the ball, bringing them to the conclusion that the use of a corked bat had fewer benefits over a regular bat. The show also notes that while filling a bat with cork makes it lighter, there is nothing in the rule book that prevents a player from simply using a lighter, uncorked bat. However, contrary to the last note in the episode, the reason players “cork” a bat is to keep it as long as a heavier bat, but make it lighter; which cannot be done without some kind of non-wood filler in the sweet spot of the bat.
Does that mean it’s forgivable? Not necessarily. But it certainly seems to be one of the most tame forms of cheating.
Share your thoughts below by voting in the poll or posting a comment.
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
You could go to his Twitter page and find all the answers easily, but then the “quiz” aspect of this blog is completely ruined. So don’t do that. Don’t be that guy. Let’s do this without cheating, huh?
Let’s just break it down one photo at a time to test your baseball knowledge. I’ll put the three scouting reports below (with names deleted), and give three hints about each.
If you guess the correct player without hints, give yourself 4 points. For each hint you need to use thereafter, take off one point and only reward yourself with points if you guess the player correctly before the end. (Example: If I guess the first player after reading two of the hints, I’m down to two points total for that photo.)
At the bottom, you can see answers to all three and add up your total to determine what level of baseball awesome you really are. If those instructions are too unclear still, there’s nothing I can do to help you. And sorry, no prizes. We don’t make money. So you just get the honor of knowing you are a brilliant human being and baseball fan.
Let’s get this thing started. First, Idelson tweeted this ancient report on a young shortstop who ended up in the Hall of Fame after a long, successful career (4 points):
Hint #1 (3 points): This player was his team’s first black player and formed the first-ever black double play combination in MLB history.
Hint #2 (2 points): He won the NL MVP in 1958 and 1959 and retired with 512 home runs, yet never won a World Series ring.
Hint #3 (1 point): The mystery player above was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1977 and is one of only six players in franchise history to have his number retired (#14).
Did you figure that one out? Let’s skip ahead a few decades to the only current player on this quiz. Like our first player, this guy has played his entire career with the same team and will likely end up in Cooperstown as well. Remember, the team listed on each report isn’t necessarily the team they were drafted to (4 points):
Hint #1 (3 points): The Houston Astros’ failure to draft him first overall in the 1992 draft (Phil Nevin was their eventual choice) caused one of their best talent evaluators and scouts, Hal Newhouser, to quit his job in protest. This player went later in the first round to the team he still plays for today.
Hint #2 (2 points): Despite numerous top-ten finishes in the MVP voting, this player has never won the hardware. He has, however, won a Rookie of the Year award, All-Star Game MVP, World Series MVP, five Gold Gloves, five Silver Sluggers and the Hank Aaron Award so far over his career.
Hint #3 (1 point): This player has been his team’s captain since 2003, and holds the franchise record for hits and stolen bases. The five-time World Series winner registered his 3,000th career hit off David Price in 2011 and is commonly known as “Mr. November.”
That one was a bit easier, huh? If you didn’t get the answer right, chances are you’re either a toddler or very, very lost in the blogosphere right now. The last entrant is our only pitcher, who also entered the Hall of Fame after an illustrious career with three teams (4 points):
Hint #1 (3 points): This 1983 Hall of Fame inductee won more games than any other pitcher in the 1960’s, but was often overshadowed by Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson during that time frame. Though the report lists him as “Cuban or Puerto Rican,” he is actually Dominican.
Hint #2 (2 points): Well known for intimidation techniques involving throwing at batters’ heads, this backfired on the pitcher in a 1965 game against a rival club. After he threw at a player early in the game, tensions rose and a brawl ensued, in which this pitcher used a bat to hit the un-helmeted head of the opposing team’s catcher.
Hint #3 (1 point): The ten-time All-Star threw a no-hitter in 1963 and had his number (#27) retired by the team he spent all but two of his professional seasons with. That same team now honors this pitcher with a statue outside its ballpark on the West Coast, depicting his iconic leg kick.
There you have it! Add up your points from the three reports and follow this graph below to determine how baseball savvy you really are:
11-12 points: You ARE a demi-god. Like Yoenis Cespedes, but with baseball trivia instead of a bat.
9-10 points: You are Mr. Consistency. Pretty much Todd Helton, minus the DUI (we assume).
7-8 points: You are a scrapper, much like Bryce Harper. Very impressive, but still room to improve.
4-6 points: You really let us down. We might as well call you Matt Bush, Jr.
1-3 points: You can’t be serious. You strike out more often than Mark Reynolds blindfolded.
0 points: You need to leave. Exit our blog, right now.
Thanks for taking our scouting report pop quiz! We appreciate all feedback, positive or negative, in the comments section below!
1. Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs)
2. Derek Jeter (New York Yankees)
3. Juan Marichal (San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers)
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
After the Houston Astros dis–hey…stop laughing…it really happened–dismantled the Texas Rangers last night at Minute Maid Park, we had our first full day of baseball today.
Naturally, ESPN kicked it off with proof that they are extremely stubborn as a network, pitting C.C. Sabathia and the hobbled Yankees versus Jon Lester and the completely average Red Sox.
There were so many amazing moments in a long day of ball that it was hard to narrow down to just five. But here is our best shot at it. This is what we do at Three Up, Three Down. We write stuff on baseball-related activities for your enjoyment. So, enjoy!
5. Justin Jacks One
Welcome to Atlanta, where the playa’s play and Upton hits bombs like every day. No disrespect to Freddie Freeman, who also went mammo today, but this Justin Upton blast was put in orbit. And it’s not just a top moment because of the distance–the Braves outfield is the most freakish in baseball, and this is just the first sampling. The Braves faithful have been waiting for this moment since the original trade was made, and the little bro definitely didn’t disappoint.
4. Brewers Bailed Out
One of KP’s least favorite memories of the 2012 season was any blown save by John Axford and Co. If you see our tallest group member, give him a hug. Because Axford was at it again on Opening Day, giving up a no-doubter with two outs in the ninth to the Rockies’ Dexter Fowler, which tied the game. Fortunately for Milwaukee and the home fans, the Rockies pitching staff is deplorable and Jonathan Lucroy was able to score a walk-off sac fly and bail the bullpen out.
3. Bryce Decides Twice is Nice
If there was any debate that last year’s NL Rookie of the Year would suffer from a sophomore slump, he killed it quick. In his first two at-bats of the 2013 season, Bryce Harper absolutely crushed two Ricky Nolasco pitches and put them in the right field bleachers. I’m not buying that his second one has landed yet. In fact, it might currently be traveling over the Atlantic Ocean. Keep an eye out for it. The 20-year-old phenom is on pace for 324 jacks this year.
The late Cardinals legend and Hall of Famer Stan Musial is being honored by the team with a cool, classy patch (pictured to the right) on their left sleeves in 2013. But the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hosted the Cards on Opening Day, pulled off a fantastic move by paying homage with a video tribute to Musial between innings. Unfortunately, I don’t have video for you, but the gesture itself was a true act of sportsmanship and remembrance of one of the greatest hitters and humans the world has ever seen.
1. Kershaw Goes Krazy
Let me set the stage: The defending champions travel to their heated rival’s new stadium and face their fancy new team in a battle between two of the best pitchers in the league. A pitcher’s duel turns into a one-man show as Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw not only throws a complete game, four-hit shutout, but hits a go-ahead home run that breaks a scoreless tie in the eighth inning. Unbelievable. And in a game that began with a well-choreographed first pitch skit from Dodgers heroes Sandy Koufax and Orel Hershiser. I have to take a second to brag, as humbly as possible. I tweeted THIS about five minutes before magic occurred. Of course it was a coincidence but it makes me believe in fairy tale endings, and reinforces our love of this magical sport.
Buckle up, baseball fans. This was just day one. Only 161 more regular season games to go! Vote below on which one of these moments should have been in the top five, or comment about any moments we missed!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
Every baseball fan knows that Alex Rodirguez admitted to using PED’s from 2001-2003, but of any player that had a chance for redemption it was A-Rod. He was the MVP. He was the youngest player to reach 500 home runs. He was the player who many would define as the “perfect” player. Rodriguez was going to be the one that would make a run at 700 home runs and even go for the all-time home run record. Would breaking that record be enough for him to un-tarnish his name? That’s what the fans wondered. They will wonder no more.
Rodriguez among with many other big name players, including Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, and Gio Gonzalez, were all linked to Miami doctor Anthony Bosch. Bosch’s records were released by the Miami New Times on Tuesday showing that Bosch had provided players with PED’s including HGH. With this news, it’s hard to believe in the adage of “innocent until proven guilty”, not in the age of Lance Armstrong denying use for years and finally coming clean. It’s especially damning to Rodriguez who may have continued using or at least bought PED’s since his admission in 2009.
With this news, it’s clear to me that Alex Rodriguez will never be a Hall of Famer. He can finish his career with 700+ home runs, win two more World Series rings, even take home another MVP, but he won’t be enshrined in Cooperstown. We have a Hall of Fame player that was busted for PED’s in his career in Rafael Palmeiro that is barely hanging on to the ballot. Sluggers like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa with A-Rodesque power numbers that can’t even sniff the 75% needed to get enshrinement. Even if Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens break down the suspected steroid user wall and get plaques in Cooperstown, it’s not going to be enough for Rodriguez.
When it comes to PED’s and Cooperstown it’s not three strikes and you’re out. For Alex Rodriguez, two strikes is more than enough. The real problem lies in the $325 million that A-Rod has already made in career, with another $104 million on the way.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Our off-season podcast series continues with the Hall Of Fame recap where we break down our 1st Annual 3U3D Hall of Fame Ballots and discuss why some of the other players didn’t get in. We also hit on the tough subject of what to do with the PED players. Should they get in? Will they get in? Take a listen and find out!
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The 2013 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced this week (Wednesday, 2 p.m. EST, MLB Network), and it’s one of the most star-studded, controversial groups the sport has ever seen. Members of the 3,000 hit club (Craig Biggio, for example), fan favorites (Kenny Lofton comes to mind), and admitted PED users (a large portion, but namely Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire) grace the list.
There are a million different ways to go with this class, and a lot of it hinges on one’s personal belief about steroid users and whether or not they are deserving of baseball’s highest honor.
Some believe that nobody will be elected this year. Others believe it will be one of the biggest classes of all-time. Here at Three Up, Three Down, we don’t get a real vote. So instead, we polled ourselves to see who we would elect if we had the chance. Per BBWAA rules, a player must receive at least 75 percent of the vote to be enshrined, and each voter can turn in a ballot with anywhere from 0-10 players listed.
We’ve enlisted the help of three friends of the podcast, including two members of the 2012 MLB Fan Cave top 30: Kelsey Shea, Megan Washington, and Matt Mapes to get us to eight votes, meaning six are needed to get into 3U3D Cooperstown.
Will Dale Murphy get elected on his 15th and final time as a candidate? Will Barry Bonds bypass the issues surrounding his career and score a spot? Is Curt Schilling worthy at all? Read on to find out!
Without further adieu, here is the official 3U3D Hall of Fame class of 2013:
IN (75% or more of votes):
1. Jeff Bagwell (87.5%) – KP: Even today when you mention the Houston Astros, the first two guys that pop into mind are Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. They shaped that franchise during their time there and have been role models for the hard nosed, tough, and gritty player. All of this, and I haven’t even mentioned their stats that include a 3,000 hit club member and a Rookie of the Year/MVP combo.
2. Craig Biggio (87.5%) – Megan: Craig Biggio is one of only 28 men who have reached 3,000 hits. Biggio’s bat also placed him fifth all-time in doubles; the only player in the top four not already in the Hall of Fame from that list is Pete Rose. The crazy thing about Biggio is that some players don’t get recognized as an All-Star at one position, let alone as a catcher AND second baseman.
3. Dale Murphy (87.5%) – Mapes: Dale Murphy, or “Murph,” is the most interesting, non-steroid case on the ballot. His numbers stack up as one of, if not the best player of the 1980’s. He won back-to-back MVP’s. He had a 30-30 season when they were rarer. He won five straight Gold Gloves. He once played in 740 straight games. Unfortunately, the prime of his career was so short and his counting statistics don’t add up. However, where Murphy made his mark in baseball history is off-the-field. He was the only player in the 1980’s to win both the Lou Gehrig and Roberto Clemente Award’s for his charity work. In a baseball era now where we are keeping great players OUT of Cooperstown for doing the wrong things, shouldn’t we reward a great player who did all the right things and more?
4. Mike Piazza (75.0%) – Jeremy: As a lifelong Dodgers fan, I’ve always had a soft spot for Mike Piazza, even if he did say he would go into the Hall with a Mets hat on. Piazza couldn’t actually catch worth a damn, but the 1993 Rookie of the Year and 12-time All-Star is still headed for Cooperstown. His .308 average, 427 homers, 1,335 RBI and .922 OPS in 16 seasons doesn’t make Piazza “arguably” the greatest offensive catcher of all time; it cements it.
JUST MISSED (50-75% of votes):
1. Don Mattingly (50.0%) – Kelsey: This isn’t a ploy to make Jeremy like me – I really believe Don Mattingly has been unfairly ignored as a Hall of Fame candidate. He only averaged about 20 home runs per season, but in his 1985 MVP season, he hit .324 with 35 homers and a ridiculous 145 RBI, and Mattingly held a .307 career average. And as usual, his nine Gold Gloves are overlooked, despite the massive importance defense SHOULD play in a Hall of Fame vote. And really, if your number is retired by the Yankees of all teams, you should earn an automatic pass to the Hall!
2. Fred McGriff (50.0%) – KP: “The Crime Dog” never really got much publicity, but was so consistent over his career. I don’t think that finishing at 493 home runs, instead of 500 should stop Fred McGriff from getting votes. That’s like saying Al Simmons and his 2,927 hits shouldn’t be considered because he didn’t crack 3,000. C’mon man! How can you hate on a guy who still has TV cameos with the Tom Emanski commercial running for baseball skills? All I’m saying is I hope he doesn’t have to wait for more “Back-to-Back-to-Back AAU National Championships” to get into the Hall of Fame (+1 for all those who get the reference).
MAYBE NEXT YEAR (25-37.5% of votes):
1. Barry Bonds (37.5%) – Brian: What else can I say? The man hit the most home runs in Major League history, and is the only member of the 400/400 AND 500/500 clubs. Even before he likely started using PED’s, Barry Bonds was the best player in baseball for nearly a decade. He and his seven MVP’s deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame.
2. Roger Clemens (37.5%) – Angelo: Brian’s case for Bonds is very similar to my case for Roger Clemens. Despite the controversy surrounding him, “The Rocket” was one of the best pitchers of all time. Seven Cy Youngs, 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts and an MVP award blow your argument out of the water, just like Clemens blew away hitters over 24 unbelievable seasons.
3. Edgar Martinez (37.5%) – Matt: Let me start by saying the DH jibber-jabber is a bunch of malarkey. If players like Don Mattingly are going to be held out of the Hall despite terrific defense, then you better stick to your guns and welcome the best offensive players, even if they have defensive deficiencies. Edgar Martinez, a fan favorite (and not just in Seattle), MADE the DH position. He is the best who ever lived to play DH, and has a career .312 average. Put the man in Cooperstown!
4. Larry Walker (37.5%) – Matt: Very simply, I loved Larry Walker. He was one of the most consistent players of the 90’s and early 2000’s, and never got the respect he deserved (sort of like current Rockie Todd Helton). Walker hit .363 and .379 in 1998 and 1999, respectively, wining two of his three career N.L. batting titles. Explain to me how all the voters have missed the 1997 MVP’s .313 career average, nearly 400 homers and nearly 230 stolen bases, in his first two years of eligibility? His .400 career on-base percentage was 37 points higher than Biggio’s even! Did I mention the seven Gold Gloves?
5. Lee Smith (25%) – Jeremy: What else does Lee Smith have to do? A career 3.03 ERA, 478 saves (most all-time until Trevor Hoffman came along), and 8.7 K/9 for his career. I know closers aren’t held as highly in the voter’s eye, but Smith not being in the Hall yet is a travesty.
6. Curt Schilling (25%) – Megan: Curt Schilling was a tough call for me because I feel like I’m still on the fence and not just because he was a former Red Sox player, but because his career wasn’t a picture of consistency. You can’t base a vote on postseason work alone–though his postseason stats are crazy. He’s a six time All-Star, led his league two different years in wins, strikeouts and WHIP… and he has a few special rings.
AT LEAST YOU GET 15 TRIES (12.5% of votes):
1. Mark McGwire (12.5%) – Brian: Similar to Bonds, “Big Mac,” is a legend for a lot of good reasons and a lot of bad reasons. Mark McGwire took steroids and helped propel a then-single-season record of 70 homers out of the park in 1998. In the process, he helped save a sport that seemed to be dying at the time. His contribution to the game and his raw talent (583 career homers) gets my vote – remember, steroids don’t make a swing good, they just make the ball go farther.
2. Jack Morris (12.5%) – Kelsey: I didn’t vote for Jack Morris, but it was tough to leave him off. If this year’s class wasn’t so loaded, he would probably be on my ballot. With “only” 254 career wins and a decent 3.90 career ERA, voters might be scared off. Sure, Morris never won a Cy Young, but he was one of the most dominant pitchers of the 80’s, racking up at least 14 wins in nine separate seasons that decade, 13 times in his career overall.
3. Tim Raines (12.5%) – Mapes: This site can better explain Tim Raines candidacy than I ever could. Raines was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson, but is a Hall of Famer in his own right. When you steal 808 bases in a career, you deserve serious consideration.
4. Alan Trammell (12.5%) – Angelo: A Detroit Tiger for life, Alan Trammell is someone I will strongly back for the Hall of Fame as long as humanly possible. His career stats (.285, 185 homers, 1,003 RBI, 236 steals) aren’t overwhelming, but he had nearly 2,400 career hits and four Gold Glove awards. Baseball-Reference.com’s player-rater (determined by fans) has him ranked the 53rd best hitter of all time. That’s plenty of evidence for me.
5. David Wells (12.5%) – Brian: Why does a guy like David Wells, who has 239 career wins, decent ERA and WHIP, nowhere near 3,000 strikeouts, off-the-field issues, and only two All-Star appearances crack my ballot? Well, he threw a perfect game, has two rings, and, well…is an awesome dude. Wells never finished above third in the Cy Young vote, but his consistent success with nine teams over 21 years gives me reason to vote in his favor.
NOT EVEN CLOSE (0% of votes – wouldn’t be on the 2014 ballot):
1. Julio Franco
2. Kenny Lofton
3. Bernie Williams
4. Rafael Palmeiro
5. Sammy Sosa
Here are the full ballots of each person, for your viewing pleasure (click to enlarge):
Tweet us about our picks! We are more than happy to discuss, debate, and analyze with you. If you like what you see, you can also follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE us on Facebook at Three Up, Three Down!
The inevitable question arose as soon as the San Francisco Giants stormed Sergio Romo on the mound in Detroit after clinching their second World Series title in three years: Is Giants manager Bruce Bochy a Hall of Fame manager?
It’s a damn good question. Bochy is one of the quietest, most respected baseball men in the game right now and has proven himself over and over again to be a brilliant tactician from the dugout. He has an uncanny way of getting the most out of any roster and any player.
Take the Giants for example. In 2010, that might have been the weakest team (as far as star power goes) that has won the World Series in a very long time. But Bochy managed to squeeze every last ounce of talent out of guys like Pat Burrell, Andres Torres, and Jonathan Sanchez.
And in 2012, he moved two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum to the bullpen, started Barry Zito in Game 1, stuck with Hunter Pence amid postseason struggles, and gave a vote of confidence to struggling lefty Madison Bumgarner in an essential Game 2.
Every single move Bochy made in both World Series runs paid off in huge dividends – and after a while, you can’t truly believe they are all coincidences. Take it from a diehard Dodgers fan; Bruce Bochy is a Hall of Fame manager.
Let’s examine the case for Bochy based on comparison:
Manager A – .502 career win percentage in 18 years, 3 league pennants, 2 World Series titles
Manager B – .583 career win percentage in 17 years, 4 league pennants, 1 World Series title
Manager C – .526 career win percentage in 21 years, 4 league pennants, 2 World Series titles
As you can see, all three of the managers were at the job for about the same amount of time, and were within one of each other in pennants and World Series titles.
The difference is, Manager B and C are both retired and in the Hall of Fame. Manager A is Bochy, who has as many years as he wants left in San Francisco as a Major League Baseball manager. At age 57, it’s not out of the question to think Bochy will manage for at least another decade.
And the Giants are built to win – with that pitching staff, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval anchoring the lineup, and a very good scouting department, you’d have to think it’ll be a little while before the Giants go back into re-building mode.
With that being said, Bochy’s record also has to take into account a couple of things. First, despite having the lowest winning percentage of the three managers above, he spent most of his career with a San Diego Padres team that was good for a few seasons late in the 1990’s and…no, seriously. That’s it.
Manager B, Earl Weaver, was in charge of a loaded Baltimore Orioles team for 17 years, and had the benefit of a very talented roster. Manager C, Tommy Lasorda, also had a loaded Los Angeles Dodgers team during his career. Arguably, Lasorda’s worst playoff team was the 1988 title-winning club, but still very good overall.
I’m not trying to take anything away from Weaver or Lasorda, but the fact that Bochy has matched or exceeded them in number of pennants and World Series titles already is exceptionally impressive.
These days in Major League Baseball, fans are often too quick to jump onto the Hall of Fame bandwagon for players and coaches who were good for a number of years, great for a few years or just simply a fan favorite. I don’t think that is the case with Bochy though.
When all is said and done, I think Bruce Bochy will be enshrined as a Hall of Fame manager. Do you agree? Vote below!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
In case you missed it, Jeremy wrote a piece last week making a case for five players (Paul Konerko, Adrian Beltre, Juan Pierre, C.C. Sabathia and Adam Dunn) for the Hall of Fame. Check it out here! When in the process of narrowing the list to five, three unfortunate Cardinals players were left off.
We wanted to get perspective on those three players, so we turned to the biggest Cardinals fan we know! Former Three Up, Three Down podcast guest and 2012 MLB Fan Cave Top 30 Finalist Kelsey Shea is here today with a guest blog, detailing whether or not three of her team’s best players have a shot at Cooperstown. Take it away, Kelsey!
The St. Louis Cardinals are not exactly strangers to the Hall of Fame. In fact, a grand total of 38 players and 8 managers have both worn the historic birds on the bat and been inducted. And of course, there’s always talk of the two great presences lost by the team at the end of last year’s amazing World Series run: Tony LaRussa and a little old first baseman named Albert Pujols. But who currently on the Redbird roster might earn a ticket?
Lance Berkman, Carlos Beltran, and Matt Holliday, while maybe not long-standing fixtures in St. Louis, have each contributed greatly during their time under the Arch. And each came to town with an already-established, illustrious career. Let’s dive into some specifics…
The Case for Berkman:
Originally an enemy of the Cards, Berkman positioned himself as a favorite in Houston with his huge offensive numbers and his title as one of the “Killer B’s” alongside Astros royalty Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell. But after fading in his later years, he endeared himself to St. Louisans with his contributions to a World Series title (his first) and a Comeback Player of the Year award.
Today, he remains on the DL for the rest of the 2012 season due to an unfortunate, recurring knee problem, leaving everyone wondering: is he done?
As far as accolades, Berkman is a six-time All Star with a habit for creeping into the MVP conversation. Although he never did get the MVP nod, he does hold the NL record for single season switch hitter RBIs with 136, and the NL record for single season switch hitter homers with 45…tied with another soon to be retiree and a sure Hall of Famer, Chipper Jones, for the latter. Berkman has a penchant for great postseason play, and let’s not forget The Big Puma also has another important and memorable attribute: a great nickname.
His numbers are impressive, though he fails to reach some key milestones with under 2,000 total hits (1,843) and less than 400 homers (360). He’s a .296 hitter, but are these HOF caliber? I’m not sure…We have to remember that he will be competing with likes of PED-free Chipper, Vlad Guerrero, Jim Thome, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Granted, the offensive monsters of the steroid era that ruled the game for the first eight or so years of his career rendered the ability to stand out no small feat.
Verdict: Not if he retires this year. His numbers just don’t match up to his competitors. And this one breaks my heart since he is probably one of the most likeable guys in the sport today. If anything gets him in, it will be his position as one of the game’s top switch hitters. However, without a few more seasons to boost his numbers, the Hall of Fame might be lacking one cuddly Puma.
The Case for Beltran:
Here we have another switch hitter, another former Cardinal killer, and another former Astro. But Houston was not the city that Beltran would call his baseball home if you asked him today. Spending the majority of his career in Kansas City with the Royals and in the Big Apple with the Mets, he has enjoyed many years near the top of the MLB’s premiere hitters list. And when Albert Pujols departed for Anaheim, Beltran was the Cardinals’ answer to their offensive hole.
He began his career with a Rookie of the Year award, and hasn’t slowed down much since. A seven-time All Star with one Gold Glove and one Silver Slugger, Beltran has proven himself to be an extremely well-rounded player. He has also been a huge postseason threat, tying the record for most home runs in a single postseason, with eight in 2004.
He currently has 333 career homers, 2,049 hits, and a .282 average. But his most impressive numbers lie in his switch-hitting and base running abilities. This year, Beltran became the 1st player to hit from both sides (8th overall) and attain 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases. He is 6th all time in homers among switch hitters and he also holds the MLB title for highest stolen base percentage since 2000 at 87%.
At 35 years old, it’s safe to say he’s nearing the end of his career. The question lies in how many good years he has left…He’ll probably end with just under 3,000 hits, but 400 homers are definitely within reach.
Verdict: Yes. He will likely have to continue to show us the good stuff for at least 3 or 4 more years, and he’ll have to stay healthy, but I’d say he has a good shot. He has some honorable accolades and could possibly rank just under Chipper as far as his switch hitting numbers. His legacy will probably light the way to the Hall of Fame!
The Case for Holliday:
Holliday made a name for himself in Colorado before spending a short half season with the Athletics, and coming to St. Louis. Of these names, he is perhaps the biggest fixture on the Cards, this being his 4th year with the club. And did I mention, he’s currently putting together a quiet bid for the 2012 NL MVP?
He may lose out to Andrew McCutchen or Buster Posey this November, but he did have a monster year in 2007. He was NLCS MVP, runner-up for the NL MVP, and he led the league in RBIs and extra base hits with a Batting Champion title. And he’s remained a consistent threat at the plate, although his fielding might leave something to be desired…
His 229 homers, 1,511 hits, and .313 average will hopefully continue to grow. With perhaps five more good years left (he’s currently 32 years old), I wouldn’t really expect him to reach 400 homers or 3,000 hits, but he may come close. And we have to consider who he’s up against playing in the mid-2000’s and beyond. With Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp, and many other big names, it will be a tough class when it comes to breaking into the Hall of Fame.
Verdict: Probably not. Unfortunately, Holliday seems to be one of those exceptional players who for the most part, goes unnoticed. And his Hall of Fame bid isn’t likely to be much different. Besides 2007, he just doesn’t have anything tangible to show for his consistent and superb play. I would like to hope he’ll prove me wrong and go on a tear for the next 5 or 6 years, but that remains to be seen.
Fell free to comment below! Did I make the right calls? Are there any other current Cardinals for whom you could make a case for Cooperstown? And don’t forget to VOTE!:
– Kelsey Shea (@KelseyShea11)
What about the guys you don’t think about as being consistently great throughout their careers, who still might have half a decade or more left in them?
Did you know CC Sabathia, health pending, could reach 300 wins? Or that Adrian Beltre and Juan Pierre both have a shot at cracking 3,000 hits?
Those numbers typically lock a player into Cooperstown. But in a day and age when even Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa will find it difficult to cross that threshold, the following players’ cases become very debatable, regardless of the numbers:
The case for Paul Konerko:
Paulie has become one of the most beloved players in Chicago based on his big, consistent offensive numbers over 14 seasons with the White Sox. At age 36, you have to imagine Father Time is catching up with him and his production will eventually diminish. As it stands now, Konerko is a career .283 hitter with 417 homers.
Konerko doesn’t have any individual awards (yet) to add to his resume, but he does have the 2005 World Series ring, and a legitimate chance at 500 home runs. In a full season, he’s good for at least 25 dingers. If Konerko maintains that average through the next three seasons, you’re talking about a guy who is going to be just single digits away from 500.
Much like Jim Thome, Konerko could play into his 40’s as DH and accumulate 500 and beyond by the time he hangs up the cleats. Do 500 home runs, a pretty good average, and a glaring lack of individual accolades put Konerko in the Hall of Fame?
Verdict: Yes. If Konerko gets to 500 home runs, he should be in. On honor alone (Konerko was never linked to PED’s), Konerko is more worthy than home run hitters such as Mark McGwire. Not to mention his all-around game was better.
The case for Adrian Beltre:
It’s all about health for Beltre. It still blows my mind that this guy has almost 2,100 career hits. So many years of anonymity in Los Angeles and disappointment in Seattle made Beltre forgotten until his 2010 resurgence with Boston. And Beltre has been in the bigs since he was 19, so despite being just 33 years old today, he’s in his 15th season.
If Beltre’s (who has been fairly lucky health-wise over his career) body doesn’t start breaking down with age, he has a very legitimate shot to reach not just the 3,000 hit milestone; but 500 home runs as well. Reaching either number makes you a very strong candidate – both means you’re definitely in.
Assuming Beltre will play at least six more seasons (he would be 39 then), whether it be at the hot corner or as a 1B/DH, seasonal averages would have to be fairly mild to reach both milestones. It would require about 150 hits and 25 home runs per season from now on. I think that is very attainable.
Verdict: He’s in. I don’t think he’ll quite get to 500 home runs. But the 3,000 hit club will welcome Beltre around age 40 in his final season. That, plus solid power numbers, a good average and multiple Gold Glove awards will get him in.
The case for Juan Pierre:
I know, I know. I sincerely hope you weren’t drinking something that may have the ability to destroy your laptop, because chances are you just dropped said drink all over the keyboard. Now pick your jaw off the floor at my suggestion and examine the facts.
Despite being immensely underrated, kicked to the curb by multiple fan bases and underutilized by multiple managers, Pierre has quietly made a borderline Hall of Fame case for himself. In 13 seasons with six different teams, Pierre is hitting .296. He will be a hot two-week stretch away from 2,200 career hits at the end of 2012, and he’s only 34.
Not to mention that Pierre has stolen 588 bases and has a .989 fielding percentage, those hits speak for themselves. He has been mostly healthy his whole career, and could legitimately have 2,500 hits by age 36. At that point he knows it takes five full seasons at the most to reach the coveted 3,000.
Verdict: He doesn’t quite make the cut, and the dream title of “most anonymous Hall of Famer” dies with it. I think Pierre will stop getting small contracts from teams in need of a stolen base threatas he ages, and that will keep him around 2,800 hits.
The case for C.C. Sabathia:
The discussion starts and ends with “health” for the big boy, Sabathia. Arm troubles this season, at age 32, are very worrisome for the next great hope of a 300-game winner. He has 192 wins thus far in a career that has seen him ridden by various managers like a horse in the Kentucky Derby.
All that piggy backing has to catch up to Sabathia at some point, which is a damn shame. He’s one of my favorite pitches to watch and hails from the same region as I do, so I have a soft spot for C.C. But even with 250 or more wins, at least one Cy Young and at least one World Series ring, I don’t think his resume will cut it.
The halls of Cooperstown are decorated with the greatest hurlers to ever play the game. Even if Sabathia manages to stay healthy enough to be a regular starter until age 40, it would take an average of 13-14 wins to reach the milestone of 300 that guarantees you the Hall of Fame. I just don’t see it happening, especially as he gets older.
Verdict: I think I made it pretty clear – so close, yet so far for C.C. However, if Sabathia stays healthy for the majority of the next six or so seasons, he could rack up over 250 wins and over 3,000 strikeouts, which gives him an outside shot.
The case for Adam Dunn:
This one disgusts me. That being said, Dunn has put up gargantuan power numbers for most of his Major League career, and home runs are King in baseball, so we must discuss. As a 32-year-old, Dunn has already racked up 402 home runs. He is a DH most days, first baseman occasionally. Either way, that means no wear and tear on his body.
That also means he could pull a Jim Thome and play until his great grand children are in the minors. If Dunn is going to average 30 or more home runs for the next decade, as he very well could, then people won’t care how paltry the batting average or how many times he swings and misses.
There it is – the reason this case disgusts me. We are basing it solely on the amount of times a tight end (what? Might as well be – 6’6″ and 285 lbs) can swing really hard and hit a ball really far. Dunn will likely approach 600 career home runs. He will likely hit about .220 for his career. He will definitely strike out over 3,000 times. That’s all.
Verdict: Sigh…he’ll be in. Unless Dunn suffers a career-ending injury, there will be a plaque dedicated to the gigantic man who slugged mammoth homers sometimes, struck out most of the time.
Comment below – who else should we make a Hall of Fame case for? Did we swing and miss on any of these guys? And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:
– Jeremy Dorn @Jamblinman
This next week or so on Three Up, Three Down, we’re each grabbing a wrench and tweaking our respective team’s time machine. Inspired by Jim Caple’s recent ESPN column, we are allowing ourselves to go back in time to any game in our team’s history that we wish we could view in person.
Bryan Mapes got us started yesterday with his awesome top 5 list of Braves games he wishes he could go back and attend. Now it’s my turn.
Hanleywood Hollywood, anything is possible. So I’m jumping in and taking you with me to April 15, 1947 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NY:
You guessed it – Jackie Robinson’s historic Major League debut. In my humble opinion, this was the most important moment in American sports history.
In a time when racial segregation was the norm, Brooklyn Dodgers’ GM Branch Rickey took a chance. He recognized that talent trumped “the norm” and found a way to make his baseball team better. That meant signing Jackie Robinson to a contract, making the speedy infielder the first African-American man to ever play Major League Baseball.
Baseball is America’s pastime, and was especially so in the first half of the 20th century. That being said, it was a white man’s game in a white man’s world. But on April 15, 1947, Robinson busted right through that color barrier on his way to changing sports, and the country, forever.
Though Robinson didn’t record a hit in his first career game, he put his legs to work. After reaching on an error in the 7th inning, Robinson scored what turned out to be the winning run for the Dodgers.
It was this kind of fearless style Jackie had both on and off the field that eventually turned the tides of two battles. The teammates, opponents and fans who believed black players shouldn’t be in the Major Leagues learned to respect the future Hall of Famer’s talents on the field and his spirit off of it.
And, though many likely wouldn’t point to Jackie’s debut as THE turning point in the Civil Rights Movement, it certainly played a role. Because of him, African-Americans everywhere were inspired to fight back. To take back the rights that were bestowed upon them by virtue of being human.
Jackie’s bravery still resonates today, as his number 42 is retired in all 30 ball parks around Major League Baseball, and has become arguably the most revered and sacred jersey number in sports history.
If not for Robinson, it’s possible that Matt Kemp might not have pursued a baseball career. Maybe he wouldn’t even be allowed to play. C.C. Sabathia might never have won a Cy Young. Giancarlo Stanton might not be crushing mammoth home runs for your viewing pleasure.
Sure, I could have picked any number of games in which epic moments appeared on field: any of the half-dozen Dodger World Series titles, or Kirk Gibson’s Game 1 walk-off in the 1988 World Series, or Sandy Koufax’s perfect game, or Steve Finley’s walk-off, division-winning grand slam in 2004.
But if I really had the chance to go back in time, there is no other athlete I would want to witness on the diamond than Jackie Robinson. And no other game I’d rather see him play in than April 15, 1947; one of the most historic dates in not only baseball, but United States history.
Do you agree? Would you go back and watch that game with me, or do you have a different Dodger game in mind? Tell us below in the comments!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)