There will probably be a lot of these today. They’re all kind of fun on some level. Here’s Bill Conlin’s: Blyleven, Morris, Dawson, Alomar, Martinez and McGriff.
Conlin has been on the Morris bandwagon for a while so that’s expected. At least he pairs him up with Blyleven. I’m surprised to see him go for Martinez, but Conlin, for as grumpy as he can be, can also be somewhat unpredictable. Along those lines I’m rather surprised not to see Barry Larkin here. Especially when, earlier in the column, he described Larkin thusly:
First shortstop to join the 30-30 club when he hit 33 homers and stole
36 bases in 1996. A legitimate five-tooler, Barry spent his entire
19-year career with the Reds and went to 12 All-Star Games. A Spalding Guide player, Larkin played short with the same economy and grace that Mike Schmidt displayed at third.
And he doesn’t seem too torn about leaving him out, as he voices some regrets for not voting in Andres Gallaraga for cryin’ out loud, but not Larkin. Either way, I’m struggling to see what in the above quote constitutes an argument against Larkin in Conlin’s mind. And besides, I get the sense that enough people feel differently about him to where he’ll make it in.
Corey Dickerson of the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t a super huge guy or anything, but he’s going to be smaller this year: he told reporters today that he’s lost 25 pounds. He attributes it to a new diet and a workout regimen and says it’ll help him with his running, swing and throwing.
Dickerson had a down year in 2016, so if losing 25 pounds is something he thinks will work for him he’s got nothing to lose. Of course the best way for him to improve his numbers is to convince the Rays to trade him back to Colorado, but that’s not likely.
As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.
We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.
James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:
Spring training is less than a month away, folks!