Los Angeles Dodgers

Maury Wills thinks he should be a Hall of Famer for some reason

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Maury Wills was asked when he’ll make the Hall of Fame. His response:

“I don’t know … Maybe they’re waiting to do me like they did Ron Santo. He dies and they put him in the next year. Isn’t that ridiculous? Maybe they’re just waiting to do that. I was thinking about that. I don’t think I’ll get any better. I don’t think I’ll get to be any nicer of a guy. I haven’t done anything to get anybody upset with me that I know of.”

Perhaps it’s simply a matter of people not thinking you were good enough, Maury?  Because based on your record, you really weren’t.

Wills gets credit for an MVP season that, in all honesty, was more a function of shocking people — no one in 1962 really figured people would ever be stealing 100 bases — than Hall of Fame-level greatness, as his league-average batting line that year suggests. Which is not to say it was a bogus MVP. League average batting for a Gold Glove shortstop with insane base running numbers is pretty fantastic. There were way worse MVPs than Wills’ 1962 award.

But that was the high water mark for him. He hit better a couple of times, but his vaunted base running was way, way worse. Indeed, for his career, Wills’ success rate on the bases was pretty damn poor. He was a 65% base stealer. That’s a net negative according to most analysts, who have pegged a 75% success rate as the point above which stolen base attempts increase run scoring expectancy and below which run scoring expectancy is decreased.

So, Wills’ signature talent — the stolen base — was actually more show than it was useful. Perhaps he should be given points for being the first to bring the running game back to prominence in the 1960s and beyond. I’d be willing to give him those points. But it’s guys like Lou Brock, Joe Morgan, Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines who made steals valuable weapons for their team, not Maury Wills.

Once you take away the steals, Wills was nothing special. A career line of .281/.330/.381 was below league average even for the offensively-depressed 1960s.  He had a couple Gold Gloves, but so do a lot of guys. The line of shortstops with more legit Hall of Fame cases than Wills is long too, and most of these guys probably don’t belong: Trammell. Concepcion. Tony Fernandez. Omar Vizquel. Nomar. Tejada. And when you move beyond shortstop, the list of Hall of Fame snubs is much, much longer.

Maury Wills: nice player for a while. Something of an innovator. In no way whatsoever worthy of a place in the Hall of Fame.  They’re not waiting until he dies to induct him. They’re simply passing reasonable judgment.

Tigers activate James McCann

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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The Tigers have activated catcher James McCann from the 15-day disabled list. He’s been out since April 11 with a sprained ankle.

Whether he has a position is an open question. In his absence Jarrod Saltalamacchia has put up a .947 OPS. That’s weighted somewhat heavily by slugging and some fluky power, but he’s done a good job. At the very least it will cause Brad Ausmus to ease McCann back into the lineup more slowly, possibly in a split role as opposed to a backup/starter relationship.

Catching up with Professor Ben Cherington

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 12:  Ben Cherington, general manager of the Boston Red Sox, leaves the field before a game with the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park on June 12, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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There is a general consensus that the bad free agent signings of the later Ben Cherington years in Boston were ownership diktats, not things that were Ben Cherington’s idea. Whether that consensus is accurate is hard to say, but that’s how it sort of felt to most outside observers. The reality was probably messier. Where ideas start and where they end up in organizations involve a lot of weird passive-aggressive dancing, with power being exercised in some cases and merely anticipated in others, causing people to do things in such a way that blame is a nebulous matter. I’m sure baseball teams are no different.

Whatever actually happened in Boston will likely always be somewhat murky, but Cherington is the one who took the fall. Where he ended up after all of it went down, however, is an interesting story. The place: on the faculty of the sports management program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. The story about it is told by Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. It’s an interesting one.

Cherington is still a young man with a lot of undisputed accomplishments under his belt. It would not surprise me at all to see him have a second act as the head of a baseball operations department some day. For now, though, he’s doing his own interesting thing.

It’s OK to not like someone on the team you root for

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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There were a series of interesting comments to the Yadier Molina story this morning. The first commenter, a Cardinals fan, said he’s never really cared for Molina. Other Cardinals fans took issue with that, wondering how on Earth a Cardinals fan could not like Yadi.

While I’ll grant that Molina is a particularly popular member of the Cardinals, while I personally like his game and his overall persona, and while I can’t recall ever meeting a Cards fan who didn’t like him, why is it inconceivable that someone may not?

Whether you “like” a player is an inherently subjective thing. You can like players who aren’t good at baseball. You can dislike ones who are. You can like a player’s game who, as a person, seems like a not great guy. You can dislike a player’s game or his personality for any reason as well. It’s no different than liking a type of music or food or a type of clothing. Baseball players, to the fans anyway, are something of an aesthetic package. They can please us or not. We can choose to separate the art from the artist, as it were, and ignore off-the-field stuff or give extra credit for the off-the-field stuff. Dowhatchalike.

No matter what the basis is, “liking” a player on your favorite team is up to one person: you. And, as I’ve written elsewhere recently, someone not liking something you like does not give you license to be a jackass about it.

A-Rod’s mansion is featured in Architectural Digest

Alex Rodriguez
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For a couple of years people worried if A-Rod would sully the Yankees Superior Brand. Given how they’re playing these days I wonder if A-Rod should be more worried about the Yankees sullying his brand.

He resurrected his baseball career last year. He’s cultivated a successful corporate identity. He’s in a relationship with a leading Silicon Valley figure. It’s all aces. And now it’s total class, as his home is featured in the latest issue of Architectural Digest:

Erected over the course of a year, the 11,000-square-foot retreat is a showstopper, with sleek forms and striking overhangs that riff on midcentury modernism, in particular the iconic villas found at Trousdale Estates in Beverly Hills. Unlike Rodriguez’s previous Florida home, the Coral Gables house is laid out on just one story so the interiors would connect directly to the grounds. Says Choeff, “Alex wanted to accentuate the indoor-outdoor feel.”

There are a lot of photos there.

I don’t think I have much in common with Alex Rodriguez on any conceivable level, but I do like his taste in architecture and design. I’m all about the midcentury modernism. Just wish I had the paycheck to be more about it like my man A-Rod here.