Ryan Klesko was better than you remember

32 Comments

The New York Post’s Ken Davidoff ran down every player on the Hall of Fame ballot in his column today, but this is all he had to say about Ryan Klesko:

A name we remember from the ‘90s Braves run, but not for anything in particular he did. He was a solid outfielder. No.

That’s about a quarter of the writeup that Jeff Conine, Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Sele received. Only Todd Walker got shorter shrift.

ESPN’s Jim Caple did something similar, though his column, as typical, was as much humor as baseball. Even so, Klesko got the shortest writeup, or at least tied with Jeff Cirillo:

Yes, he belongs on the ballot. After all, he was a one-time All-Star and a third-place rookie of the year finalist!

So, I think Klesko deserves better. One-time All-Star hardly does him justice.

A part-time player initially, Klesko nonetheless had a .907 OPS in 92 games in 1994 and a 1.004 OPS in 107 games in 1995 (both strike-shortened years). In the 11 years from 1994-2003, he never once finished with an OPS under .800. He topped .900 six times. And he did it while typically playing in pitcher’s parks.

143 players have had at least 6,000 plate appearances since 1990. Their OPS+s ranged from 195 (Barry Bonds) to 75 (Brad Ausmus). Klesko comes in 34th on that list at 128, placing him right there with Bobby Abreu, David Justice, John Olerud and Sammy Sosa (all 129) and Moises Alou, Ellis Burks and Tim Salmon (all 128). That’s not quite Hall of Fame territory, but it certainly makes for a heck of a career.

And as for doing nothing memorable, well, you know, he did homer in three straight World Series games for the 1995 Braves in their lone championship in the last 50 years.

So, no, Klesko isn’t a Hall of Famer or anything particularly close. But for 11 years, he was one of the NL’s top threats against right-handed pitching and a guy who typically hit third or fifth for six postseason teams. I think that’s worth a few sentences.

Don Mattingly gets testy with Bryce Harper for no good reason

Getty Images
12 Comments

Yesterday Bryce Harper was asked about the Miami Marlins offseason moves. Fair question. The Marlins are division rivals and that club’s tear-down was probably the biggest news inside the division of the offseason. Here’s what Harper said:

“I was very shocked that they were going to let go of Yelich, Ozuna, and Stanton, because that’s one of the best outfields in the game. So, very shocked about that. I mean, you can’t say enough about what Stanton did last year, what Ozuna did last year, and what Yelich has done the past couple years, so I thought they were a great team. I think they just had to add a couple more pitchers and they would have been pretty dang good.”

In this, Harper echoed the opinion of about ten gabillion people. Indeed, “it was unexpected that the Marlins would trade away their entire outfield, which was among the best in the game” is as close to unanimous conventional wisdom as it comes. The second part, about them contending with a couple more pitchers, is a bit more debatable, but it’s not a sentiment that a lot of people hadn’t already offered. The vast majority of that comment was “the Marlins were good and they had good players.” If anything, it was a generous comment about the 2017 Marlins and a fair question about the front office, put more politely than the way most of us have put it.

Apparently, though, he said something SUPER offensive! I have no idea what, but it caused Marlins manager Don Mattingly to say that it’s important for Harper to “take care of your own dugout.” He added this testy response:

“Take care of your business and we’ll take care of ours . . . He doesn’t really know what goes on over here. He may think he does. But he doesn’t know what the discussions are. He doesn’t know our players.”

Literally, no, he doesn’t know your players Don, because you got rid of all of the ones he knew. Assuming, though, that that is not what you meant, please. Give me a friggin’ break. If there’s a criticism implied in his comments, it’s clearly about your front office, not your “dugout” or your players.

I get that you want to protect your team and that, early into a spring training for a team that is likely to be terrible, you want to reach for anything that can serve as a point of motivation, but Mattingly has been around the block a few times. He knows what Harper was saying and he knows what everyone else is saying. His outrage about all of this is phony as hell.