Matthew Pouliot

Keith Hernandez Cardinals

Mark Teixeira’s case for Cooperstown is really Keith Hernandez’s


Retirement announcements immediately lead to Hall of Fame speculation these days, and there was plenty of it in my twitter feed when Mark Teixeira announced Thursday that he’d be hanging up the spikes at season’s end.  The twitter consensus seemed correct in this case; Teixeira wasn’t quite good enough for long enough to earn a place in Cooperstown.

Still, that we’re even having this debate about Teixeira can’t hurt the cases of some other first basemen already passed over by the BBWAA. Ranked by OPS+, here’s a list of the best first basemen not currently in the Hall of Fame (min. 7,500 PA):

163 – Mark McGwire – 7,660 PA
157 – Albert Pujols – 10,360 PA
149 – Jeff Bagwell – 9,431 PA
139 – Jason Giambi – 8,908 PA
139 – Norm Cash – 7,914 PA
138 – Carlos Delgado – 8,657 PA
137 – Will Clark – 8,283 PA
134 – Fred McGriff – 10,174 PA
134 – Boog Powell – 7,809 PA
133 – Todd Helton – 9,453 PA
132 – Rafael Palmeiro – 12,046 PA
129 – John Olerud – 9,063 PA
128 – Keith Hernandez – 8,553 PA
127 – Mark Teixeira – 7,894 PA
127 – Don Mattingly – 7,722 PA

Looking at this list, it’s really hard to make an argument for Teixeira. He has a clear advantage defensively over some of the guys ahead of him, but he was a less valuable hitter and he didn’t have a long career. You could skip the steroids guys and still come up with five better Hall of Fame cases from the group. Will Clark seemed like a short-career guy and he’s going to end up with 300 more plate appearances than Teixeira. He was Teixeira’s match with the glove and a better hitter. Helton will have nearly three seasons of play over Teixeira. Palmeiro’s tainted career was a full 50 percent longer than Teixeira’s.

Really, though, it’s the guy immediately above Teixeira on this list that I want to look at. Keith Hernandez belongs in the Hall of Fame, and he probably would be if he had Teixeira’s stat line instead of his own.

Hernandez: .296/.384/.436, 162 HR, 1,124 runs, 1,071 RBI in 8,553 PA
Teixeira: .269/.361/.511, 404 HR, 1,085 runs, 1,281 RBI in 7,894 PA

Hernandez was just as valuable of a hitter as Teixeira, despite hitting 240 fewer homers. The difference is in the eras, the ballparks and the on-base percentages. Hernandez was also the game’s best ever defensively at his position. Unlike Teixeira, he won an MVP, though he had to share it. He also finished second and fourth. Teixeira finished in the top five just once (though he was traded in the midst of his best season and probably deserves credit for another top-five finish there). He had better postseason numbers than Teixeira, as well. Still, Hernandez never received more than 11 percent of the vote in his nine years on the ballot. He didn’t have the homers, and he fell short of the .300 batting average that might have swung a few more to his cause.

As for Teixeira, he can find a home with Mattingly and others in the hall of very good. Maybe if he hadn’t needed wrist surgery and missed nearly all of 2013, things would be different. Still, I’d say probably not. He seemed on the decline before that (he had OPS+s of 124, 121 and 115 from ages 30-32), and even just comparing them through age 32, he still wasn’t as strong offensively as guys like Delgado and Clark, who were dismissed from Hall of Fame contention with nary a thought.

Zack Greinke exits start with oblique tightness

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke throws during spring baseball season practice in Scottsdale, Ariz., Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Zack Greinke lasted just two innings Tuesday in his start against the Phillies before leaving with what the Diamondbacks later described as left oblique tightness.

Greinke went out to try to warm up for the start of the third, but quickly brought the trainer out when it was clear he couldn’t continue. Randall Delgado replaced him in what was a 1-1 game.

If Greinke lands on the disabled list, as seems likely, it’ll be his first stint there since Carlos Quentin charged the mound and broke Greinke’s collarbone in April 2013. Before that, a fractured rib suffered playing basketball cost him the first few weeks of the 2011 season. He’s never gone on the DL with an injury suffered while pitching.

Greinke is 10-3 with a 3.62 ERA this season.

The Incredible Awfulness that is the Reds pitching staff

Alfredo SImon AP

122: The number of runs allowed by the 2016 Cubs
137: The number of runs allowed by the 2016 Reds rotation
126: The number of runs allowed by the 2016 Reds bullpen

It was a given going into the year that the Reds would have pitching issues. After starting nothing but rookies with mixed results down the stretch last year, the team opted to stay the course rather than to pay for much in the way of stable veteran presence over the winter. Then there was the inevitable Aroldis Chapman trade. Only with the youngsters already banged up in mid-March did the team sign the unwanted Alfredo Simon for $2.5 million.

Fast forward 44 games into the season. Nominal ace Anthony DeSclafini has still yet to pitch because of an oblique strain, and No. 2 starter Raisel Iglesias is on the shelf with a shoulder problem. Homer Bailey, who was expected to return from Tommy John surgery right around now, has dealt with setbacks. Simon has a remarkable 10.16 ERA in his eight starts and one relief appearance. At least Dan Straily and Tim Adleman have been nice surprises, and Brandon Finnegan has managed to hold his own.

Here’s how the rotation rates alongside the rest of the league:

ERA: 25th
IP/G: 30th
WHIP: 30th
K: 30th
BB: 27th
HR: 28th
FIP: 30th

The ERA ranking considerably overestimates the group, considering that the pitchers are working in front of three potential Gold Glovers up the middle in Billy Hamilton, Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart. Granted, the corner outfielders aren’t much to speak of, but it’s a strong defense overall. The rotation has a 5.38 FIP. The only other rotation over 5.00 is Milwaukee’s at 5.07. Fangraphs has the Reds’ rotation under replacement level at -0.3 WAR. The next worst group is Oakland’s at 0.4 WAR.

The rotation, though, shines compared to the bullpen.

The Reds bullpen has given up 40 more runs than that of any other team. 40 runs in 44 games. Like, almost one run more per game than the 29th worst team in baseball.

The Reds bullpen has surrendered 17 more runs than those of the Mets, Nationals and White Sox combined.

The Reds bullpen has allowed 36 homers, nine more than any other team.

The Reds bullpen has walked 95 batters, which leads the league by 20.

The Reds bullpen has been worth -2.5 WAR, according to Fangraphs.

Let’s look at the culprits here:

Tony Cingrani: 3.48 ERA, 1.40 WHIP in 20 2/3 IP
Blake Wood: 4.43 ERA, 1.66 WHIP in 22 1/3 IP
Jose Ramirez: 4.76 ERA, 1.12 WHIP in 17 IP
Ross Ohlendorf: 4.79 ERA, 1.02 WHIP in 20 2/3 IP
Jumbo Diaz: 6.30 ERA, 1.70 WHIP in 10 IP
Caleb Cotham: 7.36 ERA, 1.82 WHIP in 22 IP
J.J. Hoover: 14.34 ERA, 2.34 WHIP in 10 2/3 IP

Hoover was handed the closing gig by manager Bryan Price over the winter and promptly imploded, less because of the pressure of the ninth (he was all of 1-for-2 saving games) than some mechanical troubles and a decline in velocity. Diaz figured to be the Reds’ most reliable reliever, but he’s been demoted to Triple-A twice. Cingrani is the other mainstay from last year, and he’s been decent despite control issues. Wood, Ramirez and Ohlendorf were all plucked off the scrap heap, and only Ohlendorf seems worth remaining patient with. Cotham was part of the Chapman trade and should be a decent sixth- and seventh-inning guy in time, though clearly not right now.

I don’t want to go without noting that the rotation also deserves blame for the bullpen’s issues for forcing it to throw so many innings. The Reds lead the majors in innings thrown by relievers at 162 2/3. The median bullpen is at 137 1/3 innings.

Obviously, the Reds were OK with being bad this year. They finally realized a little too late they weren’t going head-to-head with the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates and figured it made more sense to bottom out than to tread water. Still, I’m guessing they would have taken more preventative measures had they known it would get this ugly. Taking some pressure of the youngsters would have cost them money now, but it probably would have paid off in the long run.