Chase Utley is not the best second baseman ever

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Off days stink because they force writers to fill space with silly stuff like this article making an argument for Chase Utley as “the best second baseman in baseball. Ever.”  The evidence cited: his OPS is higher than Jackie Robinson’s!  He’s on pace to have more hits than Joe Morgan! He’s got more home runs than Eddie Collins!  He plays better defense than Rogers Hornsby!

All of which is beside the point.  I mean, it’s not hard to take four great second baseman, cite those stats which are among the least impressive of their case for immortality, and then note that Utley bests them in that department.  Try this out for size: I’m the greatest man in world history because I can run faster than
Steven Hawking, sing better than Albert Einstein, shoot better than
Ghandi, and shave closer than Lincoln.  Anyone see any problems there?

The fact is that Joe Morgan wasn’t just a guy who got base hits. He walked a lot and had superior power, defense and base running ability.  As the author of the linked article admits, Collins played in the deadball era, so his home run totals are pretty irrelevant.  Robinson certainly had a good OPS, but his all-around ability — he played many positions — base running and, oh yeah, BALLS OF STEEL are a bigger part of his story. Citing Hornsby’s defense? C’mon, he’s known as a subpar defender. He’s at the top of most people’s lists because he hit .400.  And oh yeah: all of those guys did what they did for way longer than Utley has done what he has done.

Utley is an outstanding player. He’s certainly the best second baseman in the game today. If he keeps up the current pace for a few more years, he’s going to be Cooperstown bound. But after what, in reality, is only five strong seasons, he’s got a long way to go before he can reasonably be compared to Hornsby, Robinson, Morgan, and Collins.

And Grich and Sandberg and Alomar and Whitaker and Kent and Gehringer and . . .

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.