Another Greatest Living Player oversight: Jim Fregosi

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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.

Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.