Dave Parker: Hall of Fame afterthought

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Dave Parker AP.jpgBuster Olney doesn’t actually endorse Dave Parker’s Hall of Fame candidacy, but he does throw out a morsel to chew on, courtesy of the ESPN stats department:

If you go on the idea of a player being a dominant player in his era being an important qualification: Dave Parker finished in the top five of the MVP voting five times. That may not qualify as prolonged dominance, but it’s still impressive. Twenty three players have ranked in the top five of the MVP voting at least five times.

Of those 23 players, Barry Bonds (12 times), Albert Pujols (8 times), Frank Thomas (7 times), Alex Rodriguez (6 times), David Ortiz (5 times), Ken Griffey Jr. (5 times) and Pete Rose (5 times) are not currently eligible for the Hall of Fame. Of the other 16 players, 15 of them are in the Hall of Fame.

Interesting, but such a standalone stat approaches meaningless. Parker played for a team that won a lot during his prime, so his MVP vote numbers are going to be higher than many other players to begin with. And while MVP votes are nice, they could simply be a function of Parker being overrated. One of those top five finishes was 1986 when he had an .807 OPS. The votes were no doubt due to his RBI total, which was a function of Eric Davis and Buddy Bell hitting in front of Parker most of the year, getting on base at an excellent clip.

While Parker’s prime was nice, it was short, and then drugs and weight problems blew up most of the rest of his career. If that hadn’t happened, sure, we’d be having a different conversation right now. But it did, and as a result, Parker had less overall career value than Jim Rice did, and Jim Rice shouldn’t have made the Hall of Fame himself.

Whether the writers’ failure to come anywhere near electing Parker is an appreciation of Parker’s less-than-compelling Hall of Fame case or, alternatively, punishment for Parker’s getting caught up in the cocaine trials of the 1980s is an open, though, probably irrelevant question.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.