More fun stuff continues to spin out of that Greatest Living Player post from the other day. This one comes from Bill Parker over at ESPN’s Sweet Spot, running down a list of underappreciated non-Hall of Famers. Guys like Dave Stieb, Reggie Smith, Jimmy Wynn and … Jim Fregosi.
As Bill notes, Fregosi definitely should have made the conversation for Greatest Living Angel.* He was beyond solid at shortstop for the Angels — and was easily one of the best in baseball — during the 1960s.
We forget it now, but there was a time when you didn’t need to hit a lick to play short in the majors. In 1968 the Tigers won the AL Pennant with Ray Oyler as their Opening Day shortstop. He got 247 plate appearances in which he hit .135 and slugged .186. He was eventually replaced, but in those days it took something that bad to have a manager make such a move.
Fregosi, in contrast, posted nine straight years as an above-average hitter — for all players, not just for shortstops — in baseball’s second dead ball era. In 1964 he slapped up a .277/.369/.463 line with 18 homers. Adjusted for era, that’s kind of like the seasons Robbie Cano and Adrian Beltre had last year.
Good stuff from Bill, talking about some of my favorite players in baseball history.
*I think someone mentioned him in the original comment thread too.
The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.
As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”
Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”
Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”
Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.
Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.
It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.
As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.