And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

65 Comments

source:

*The first recap of the morning was written, collectively, by everyone’s mid-50s-year-old drunk uncle who peaked during Reagan’s first term and has hated everything since*

Indians 2, Cardinals 0: Eighteen strikeouts and one hit allowed in eight innings? Bah! Call me back when he can go nine. Kids these days are soft! Coddled by their parents since preschool, begging out of their responsibilities the moment things start to get tough. Jack Morris had 175 complete games in his career! You can bet, knowing that his team had the lead in this one, that he’d pitch to contact late and save the bullpen!

 

Cubs 2, Mets 1: I was on a radio show yesterday that billed this as “Matt Harvey vs. Kris Bryant.” Thing about baseball, however, is that you can’t do that. You can’t tease any one baseball game as star vs. star because even if he’s fantastic like Matt Harvey was (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 9K), the first star may get a no-decision and not figure in to the game’s ultimate outcome. Likewise, the second star may go 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. Maybe that kind of tease gets some people to watch who wouldn’t, but if you promise greatness from superstars in baseball you’re going to, statistically speaking, end up burning your audience more often than not. At least the casual fans who were only attracted by you hyping the stars. And if you do burn fans enough, maybe they don’t stick around until the ninth inning and see a walkoff walk to Chris Coghlan. You can’t hype things like walkoff walks in advance because you never know what you’re gonna get. You can, however, hype the fact that you never know what you’re gonna get.

Angels 2, Rockies 1: Mike Trout put on a defensive clinic in extra innings. Two plays, each of which would’ve caused the Angels to lose the game if he did not make them. Wait, make that three: the home-run theft, the running catch with the man on third and then, after that catch, the throw home to nail the runner tagging up. And the dude didn’t even make it look hard:

Best all-around player in the game and it’s not particularly close.

 

Nationals 9, Diamondbacks 6: Michael Taylor hit a grand slam in the ninth inning with the Nats down one. No biggie.

Best part: he was only in the game because Bryce Harper had been ejected in the seventh inning for arguing balls and strikes.

Reds 5, Braves 1: Rookie Raisel Iglesias baffled the Bravos, allowing one run on two hits in eight innings. Not to take anything away from him — he was great and the Braves sorta stink — but this was such a getaway day game. Lasted two hours and six minutes and after three games in Ohio where they dealt with rain, cold and then cold again, the Braves have an offday in Miami today. Mentally speaking they were on the dang beach and eating at Joe’s Stone Crab by the third inning.

Red Sox 2, Athletics 0: Wade Miley pitched shutout ball into the seventh. He wasn’t totally cruising — he allowed five hits and walked four — but he worked out of every jam he faced. The Sox needed that.

Orioles 6, Blue Jays 1: The O’s scored five in the second thanks in part to three doubles. Miguel Gonzalez allowed only three hits while pitching into the seventh. The Jays’ only run came on a passed ball.

Phillies 3, Pirates 2: Jeff Francoeur nailed a runner at the plate for the final out of the game. An out which made Jonathan Papelbon the all-time Phillies saves leader:

 

Am I the only one who wondered if, maybe, since the ball was foul, Francoeur shoulda let it drop so that there was no chance the tying run could tag up and come home? Maybe that’s too harsh. You should take the outs that are given to you whenever you can. Instincts are hard to overcome and it’s possible that Francoeur didn’t know if he was in fair or foul territory by the time he got to the ball. Nice throw either way and obviously the good result. That cannon he carries is the biggest reason he still has a job in the majors. Good to see him get to use it.

Twins 6, Tigers 2: Ricky Nolasco wasn’t efficient or sharp in an absolute sense but he certainly was compared to the way he’s been pitching lately. Torii Hunter homered and Joe Mauer hit a three-run triple.

Rays 3, Yankees 2: Asdrubal Cabrera drove in a run on a double that served as his 1,000th career hit. Pretty sweet. The Rays have allowed the fewest runs per game in the American League this year.

Marlins 5, Dodgers 4: Dee Gordon had four hits, including two doubles, against the team that dealt him away this past offseason and Giancarlo Stanton had a two-run single. I assume even his RBI singles go 500 feet somehow. The Marlins avoid the sweep and snap the Dodgers’ five-game winning streak.

Rangers 5, Royals 2: Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo each homered and the Rangers won. That’s the sort of thing a lot of people expected to happen last year and it didn’t. See the above Mets-Cubs recap about the unpredictability of stars power.

White Sox 4, Brewers 2: Jose Quintana had a 3-0 lead before he tossed his first pitch and then proceeded to strike out ten Brewers in seven innings. F***ing Quintana. That creep can roll, man.

Astros 4, Giants 3: George Springer had been out a week with concussion symptoms but looked no worse for the cobwebs and rust, hitting the go-ahead homer in the eighth. Buster Posey had three hits, including a two-run homer in a winning effort in a losing cause.

Padres 4, Mariners 2: James Shields allowed one run in six innings and moved his record to 5-0. Weird thing: perfect record but has given up 12 homers this year which leads all of baseball. I guess if that’s the only thing you do wrong and if you get some run support you’ll be alright. Will Middlebrooks homered.

Lou Whitaker snubbed from the Hall of Fame again

Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
4 Comments

Long time Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker has long been one of baseball history’s most underrated players. He and Hall of Fame shortstop Alan Trammell formed one of the best up-the-middle combos ever, teammates since Whitaker’s debut in 1977 to his final year in 1995.

Trammell is actually a great jumping-off point to support Whitaker’s candidacy. Here are their career counting stats:

  • Whitaker: .276/.363/.426, 420 doubles, 65 triples, 244 homers, 1084 RBI, 1386 runs, 143 stolen bases, 1197 walks (9967 plate appearances)
  • Trammell: .285/.352/.415, 415 doubles, 55 triples, 185 homers, 1003 RBI, 1231 runs, 236 stolen bases, 850 walks (9376 plate appearances)

Whitaker also had slightly more Wins Above Replacement over his career according to Baseball Reference, besting Trammell 75.1 to 70.7. FanGraphs’ version of WAR puts both players slightly lower but with Whitaker still in the lead, 68.1 to 63.7.

Trammell, like Whitaker, did not make the Hall of Fame through initial eligibility on the ballot voted on by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, beginning five years after their retirement. Trammell was elected two years ago on the Modern Era ballot. Whitaker fell off the ballot in his only year of eligibility, earning just 2.9 percent of the vote in 2001. Whitaker was again snubbed on Sunday night, receiving just six of the 12 votes necessary for induction. Trammell became eligible on the BBWAA ballot in 2002 and had a 15-year run, with his support running as far down as 13.4 percent in 2007 and peaking at 40.9 percent in his final year in 2016.

Trammell and Whitaker critics cited things like never leading the league in any important categories and never winning an MVP Award as reasons why they shouldn’t be enshrined. That last reason, of course, ignores that both contributed to the Tigers winning the World Series in 1984, but I digress.

Trammell should have been elected to the Hall of Fame on the BBWAA ballot. And, since the distinction matters to so many people, he should have been inducted on the first ballot. Among Hall of Fame shortstops (at least 50 percent of their games at the position), Trammell has the eighth-highest WAR among 21 eligible players. He has ever so slightly more WAR than Barry Larkin (70.4), who made it into the Hall of Fame in his third year of eligibility with 86.4 percent of the vote.

Now, what about Whitaker? Among Hall of Fame second basemen (at least 50 percent of games at the position), Whitaker’s 75.1 WAR would rank sixth among 20 eligible second basemen. The only second basemen ahead of him are Rogers Hornsby (127.0), Eddie Collins (124.0), Nap Lajoie (107.4), Joe Morgan (100.6), and Charlie Gehringer (80.7). Whitaker outpaces such legendaries as Ryne Sandberg (68.0), Roberto Alomar (67.1), and Craig Biggio (65.5). Sandberg made it into the Hall in his third year on the ballot; Alomar his second; Biggio his third.

Among the players on the 2001 BBWAA ballot, the only player with more career WAR than Whitaker was Bert Blyleven (94.4), who eventually made it into the Hall of Fame. Dave Winfield (64.2) and Kirby Puckett (51.1) were elected that year. Also receiving hefty support that year were Gary Carter (70.1 WAR), Jim Rice (47.7), Bruce Sutter (24.1), and Goose Gossage (41.2) and each would eventually make the Hall of Fame.

WAR is not, by any means, a perfect stat, so the WAR argument may not resonate with everyone. Dating back to 1871, there have been only 66 players who hit at least 400 doubles and 200 home runs while stealing 100 bases. The only second basemen (same 50 percent stipulation) to do that are Whitaker, Hornsby, Morgan, Sandberg, Alomar, Biggio, Chase Utley, and Ian Kinsler. Additionally, Whitaker drew more walks than strikeouts over his career, 1197 to 1099. The only second basemen to do that while hitting at least 200 career homers are Whitaker, Morgan, Hornsby, Bobby Doerr, and Joe Gordon.

Whitaker was not without accolades: he won the 1978 AL Rookie of the Year Award. He was a five-time All-Star and took home four Silver Sluggers along with three Gold Gloves to boot. Trammell took home a similar amount of hardware: though he never won a Rookie of the Year Award, he did make the All-Star team six times. He went on to win four Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers.

In a just world, Whitaker would have been on the ballot for the then-maximum 15 years. In a sentimentally just world, he would have gone in side-by-side with Trammell in 2002. Whitaker’s candidacy certainly shouldn’t have fallen to the Modern Era ballot, and it shouldn’t have been further fumbled by a committee that gave him as many votes as Steve Garvey.