Baseball’s All Underrated Team

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Jayson Stark’s latest is what he believes to be baseball’s “All Underrated Team.”  The roster:

C: Carlos Ruiz
1B: Adam Dunn
2B: Ian Kinsler
SS: Starlin Castro
3B: Ryan Zimmerman
RF: Michael Cuddyer
CF: Andrew McCutchen
LF: Ryan Braun
SP: Josh Johnson
CL: Joakim Soria
MR: Mike Adams

It’s not a terrible list, though as many people have noted since it came out a a few minutes ago, there is a serious omission: Shin-Soo Choo in right. He’s both better and less-heralded than Cuddyer. Maybe this is performance art: by not even including him on an underrated list, Stark is showing just how truly underrated he is!

I’m a little skeptical about Carlos Ruiz’s inclusion.  He’s good, but if anything I think that, by virtue of some big hits he’s had during nationally-televised games, people are quite high on him. Maybe even a touch too high.  In some ways he’s the baseball equivalent of basektball’s Ben Wallace: he was underrated for so long, but the minute people began to take notice, he became slightly overrated. At no time has anyone rated him truly fairly.

Fun list, though. Stark’s explanations of all of his inclusions are all illuminating.  It’s certainly a list of guys who don’t tend to get a lot of spotlight and it’s good to read about them even if we debate the severity of their underrating.

A child was carried out of Yankee Stadium after being hit by a foul ball

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A scary thing just happened in Yankee Stadium. A young fan, it appeared to be a young girl, sitting down the left-field line was struck by a Todd Frazier foul ball. Play was halted on the field as she was attended to. They carried her out, not waiting for a stretcher to come. It was hard to see how bad her injuries were, but those on the field — including Eduardo Escobar of the Twins — were visibly shaken.

Major League Baseball has encouraged — not demanded or required, but merely encouraged — teams to extend netting farther down the foul lines in the name of fan safety. Many teams have done so. The Yankees have not, and have remained somewhat non-committal about it all.

We’ll provide an update of the girl’s condition once it is known.

Everything you wanted to know about collusion but were afraid to ask

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Most of you are likely aware of baseball’s history of collusion. Specifically, the three instances between 1985 and 1988 when the league, the owners and their general managers entered into a conspiracy to suppress salaries by agreeing to share information and to not to sign free agents away from other teams. The scheme, which violated the explicit terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, led to a series of arbitrations which resulted in the owners being forced to pay the players $280 million in damages.

While you may know that large-arc story of collusion, there is an awful lot of stuff relating to it all that is seldom talked about. Interesting stuff which, despite its genesis over 30 years ago still impacts baseball to this very day. If you want to hear some talk about that, I was on the This Week in Baseball History podcast with Michael Bates and Bill Parker last night, and we talked about it, all in honor of the first decision in the three collusion cases which came down 30 years ago this week.

We covered a lot of topics you may not know arose out of the collusion cases. For example:

  • Did you know that the collusion cases led more or less directly to the existence of the Marlins, Rockies, Rays and Diamondbacks?
  • Did you know that it led, eventually, to Bud Selig becoming commissioner?
  • Did you know that it contributed greatly to the 1994-95 labor impasse which led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series?
  • Did you know that it spun off litigation that continued for nearly 20 years after the collusion plan, so that in the year 2005 people were STILL talking about what Steve freakin’ Garvey was supposed to earn back in the 1980s?
  • Did you know that, in one key respect, the collusion cases of the 1980s had their genesis in something Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale did back in 1966?

Maybe you knew some of that, maybe you didn’t, but it was all kinda wild. If the topic interests you, I highly recommend you take a listen to the podcast. We go light on the legalities, heavier on talking about stuff like what might’ve happened if Kirk Gibson signed with the Royals in 1986 and never made it to the Dodgers in 1988. It’s baseball talk that you may not hear every day.