United States of Baseball- Delaware

Delaware is often forgotten. Sitting on the Atlantic coast between Philadelphia and the Washington-Baltimore Metro, the state hides in plain sight. While the First State does not have a Major League team, it has sent 56 players to baseball’s highest level. Delaware punches above its weight for its place in baseball. Sadie McMahon is the greatest pitcher born in Delaware. His 43.55 WAR is the 36th highest among all state and territory leaders. Paul Goldschmidt has the highest WAR for position players born in Delaware. His 45.11 WAR ranks him 40th. McMahon and Goldschmidt have a combined 88.66 WAR, ranking Delaware 39th among all states and territories. 

John Joseph McMahon was born in Wilmington. He earned the nickname Sadie during his baseball career, but the exact origins are unclear. McMahon pitched for nine seasons with three teams: Philadelphia Athletics (1889-1890), Baltimore Orioles (1890-1896), and Brooklyn Bridegrooms (1897). He played during a time of great change for pitchers with the introduction of the pitchers mound in 1893. McMahon pitched in 321 career Games, made 305 Starts, throwing 279 Complete Games, including 14 Shutouts, in 2,634 Innings, allowing 2,726 Hits, 1,592 Runs, 1,026 Earned Runs, 52 Home Runs, 945 Walks, 967 Strikeouts, 98 Wild Pitches, posting a 173-127 record, 3.51 ERA, 1.394 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. He was forced to retire before turning 30 after a shoulder injury derailed his career. 

Sadie McMahon was a great pitcher in the early days of professional baseball. (www.sabr.org)

Pitching from the flat pitchers box, McMahon enjoyed his best season with the 1891 Baltimore Orioles. He appeared in 61 Games, with 58 Starts, throwing 53 Complete Games, including 5 Shutouts, in 503 Innings, allowing 493 Hits, 259 Runs, 157 Earned Runs, 13 Home Runs, 149 Walks, 219 Strikeouts, 16 Wild Pitches, posting a 35-24 record, 2.81 ERA, 1.276 WHIP, and 131 ERA+. He led the American Association in Starts, Wins, Complete Games, Shutouts, and Innings Pitched. His 35 Wins were nearly half of the Orioles 71 victories

Sadie McMahon was an elite pitcher before injuries quieted his arm. In the twilight of his career, McMahon went pitch for pitch against Cy Young and the Cleveland Spiders in the 1895 Temple Cup. The Temple Cup was a postseason exhibition series. While McMahon is not an all time great, he was a terrific pitcher in the early days of professional baseball. 

Paul Goldschmidt is the greatest position player born in Delaware. The Wilmington native is the first active player to lead a state or territory in the United States of Baseball. The star First Baseman is entering his age 33 season, having played 10 seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2011-2018) and St. Louis Cardinals (2019-present). Goldschmidt has played 1,311 career Games, collected 1,395 Hits, 305 Doubles, 20 Triples, 249 Home Runs, with 828 RBI, 837 Runs scored, 128 Stolen Bases, 770 Walks, 1,268 Strikeouts, .293 BA, .392 OBP, .522 SLG, .914 OPS, and 141 OPS+. He is a six time All Star, four time Silver Slugger, three time Gold Glover, 2017 World Baseball Classic champion, and twice finished second for the National League MVP (2013 and 2015). 

Paul Goldschmidt continues to be a force for the St. Louis Cardinals. (www.calltothepen.com)

Goldschmidt’s best season, thus far, was in 2015 with the Diamondbacks. In 159 Games, he collected 182 Hits, 38 Doubles, 2 Triples, 33 Home Runs, 110 RBI, 103 Runs scored, 21 Stolen Bases, 118 Walks, 151 Strikeouts, .321 BA, .435 OBP, .570 SLG, 1.005 OPS, and 168 OPS+. He was an All Star, won both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, and finished second for the MVP award. This was not a one season flash as Goldschmidt was just as dominant in 2013, either season could be his best. Now playing for the ever competitive Cardinals, Goldschmidt will be a force for many more seasons.  

The First State is not the biggest state, nor has it sent the most players to the Majors. However, it plays its part in the continuing story of baseball. Delaware has one native son in Cooperstown, Bill McGowan. Surely the legendary umpire will someday be joined by a fellow Delawarean. The United States of Baseball takes a short drive west next week to the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia is next.


9 Years Gone in a Flash

9 years ago a little idea to write about baseball led to the creation of The Winning Run. I have always loved the game and I thought writing would be a fun way to learn more. It would also give me an excuse to read more books and watch more games. A win-win situation. Fast forward 9 years and life has dramatically changed, but my love for baseball has not. I have learned a lot of obscure facts and connected players, events, and stats which have only fueled my desire to know more. 

The final game of the 2019 season as the Texas Rangers closed down Globe Life Park. (The Winning Run/ DJ)

I enjoy the research as much as the writing. The deep dives into the history and stats has given me a new appreciation for the small parts of baseball. I have learned how to understand the greatness of a player through both the traditional stats and the new ones. It all reminds me that it is impossible to understand everything about baseball, but nonetheless I continue the pursuit. I would like to believe my writing has improved in the last 9 years. The continuous researching, reading, writing, editing, and rewriting have surely had an impact. The Winning Run continues to be a source of enjoyment for myself and I hope for you as well. Thank you for reading my thoughts, research, and general ramblings about baseball. I am happy another season of baseball is upon us and am excited to continue enjoying the game together. 


Chasing Milestones

Miguel Cabrera is one of the greatest Right Handed Hitters of all time. The future first ballot Hall of Famer has never possessed great speed. He rarely legs out infield hits, rather he drives pitches into the alleys. As Cabrera prepares for his 19th Major League season, the soon to be 38 year old is within reach of several career milestones. While the Tigers are poised for another summer of rebuilding, Cabrera’s career accomplishments should not be lost within the losing.

The man can still hit. The last four seasons have been trying, as Cabrera dealt with injuries. Despite these challenges, he has averaged 156 Hits, 27 Doubles, 19 Home Runs, 80 RBI, 62 Runs scores, 67 Walks, 133 Strikeouts, .267 BA, .342 OBP, .406 SLG, .740 OPS, and 100 OPS+ per 162 Games played since 2017. Even an injured and aging Cabrera is league average with little protection in the Detroit lineup. 

Lest we forget the threat was in his prime. In his first nine seasons with the Tigers, 2008 to 2016, Cabrera averaged 198 Hits, 41 Doubles, 37 Home Runs, 122 RBI, 103 Runs scored, 82 Walks, 110 Strikeouts, .325 BA, .404 OBP, .573 SLG, .977 OPS, and 161 OPS+ per 162 games played. He added five more Silver Slugger awards to the two he won with the Florida Marlins. Cabrera won four American League Batting Titles (2011-2013, 2015), back to back MVP awards (2012-2013), and the Triple Crown in 2012. Players like Cabrera are rare, and few peak as high and long as he did.

Detroit fans have at least three years left with Cabrera. He could remain a Tiger through 2025 if his vesting options kick in by finishing in the top ten of MVP voting in 2023 and 2024. Regardless, fans should enjoy watching him reach milestones beginning this season. He enters 2021 with 2,866 Hits, 581 Doubles, 487 Home Runs, 1,729 RBI, 1,457 Runs scored, 1,159 Walks, 1,812 Strikeouts, .313 BA, .391 OBP, .540 SLG, .931 OPS, and 147 OPS+. 

If Cabrera stays healthy he will climb higher in the all time rankings in several categories. His .313 BA is 74th highest all time, a .002 rise to .315 would place him in the top 70. Cabrera has scored 1,457 Runs, 80th all time, if he has another post-2017 average season he would reach the top 65. His 79.0 career oWAR is 40th all time, a 2.0 oWAR season would move him to 35th place. Cabrera is ever so close to the magical 3,000 Hit mark, needing just 134 more to seal his induction into Cooperstown. He would also move from 46th to the top 30. Cabrera is just 13 long balls away from joining the 500 Home Run club. If he can connect with 20 dingers, he would move into the top 25. He is 24th all time with 1,729 RBI, a good season will move him into the top 20. Less celebrated, but Miguel Cabrera is just 58 bases away from 5,000 career Total Bases. He should sail into the top 20 with a pedestrian season. Cabrera could collect his 600th Double in 2021, he sits just 19 shy at 581. 

Some of these milestones are more exciting than others. They all tell the same story, Miguel Cabrera can hit and has his entire career. Cabrera is an elite hitter, his peak was amazing and it has placed him among the game’s all time greats. He is heading for the Hall of Fame, but for now we should enjoy every Miguel Cabrera At Bat we can. 


United States of Baseball- Connecticut

Connecticut’s small size has not prevented its contribution to baseball’s rich history. The Constitution State has produced 204 Major League players. Among them is Bill Hutchison, the greatest Connecticut born pitcher. His 41.17 WAR is the 39th highest among state and territory pitching leaders. Roger Connor is the greatest position player born in the Constitution State. His 84.25 WAR is the 17th highest among position player leaders. Their combined 125.42 WAR ranks Connecticut 26th among all states and territories.

Bill Hutchison was a workhorse. His career began pitching from the flat pitcher’s box and ended from the pitcher’s mound. The New Haven native pitched for three teams across nine seasons: Kansas City Cowboys (Union Association) (1884), Chicago White Stockings/ Colts (1889-1895), and St. Louis Browns (1897). Hutchison pitched in 376 career Games with 346 Starts, throwing 321 Complete Games, with 21 Shutouts, in 3,079.1 Innings, allowing 3,124 Hits, 1,913 Runs, 1,228 Earned Runs, 104 Home Runs, 1,132 Walks, 1,235 Strikeouts, with a 182-163 record, 3.59 ERA, 1.382 WHIP, and 112 ERA+. 

Bill Hutchison, the last pitcher to pitch more than 500 or 600 Innings in a season. (www.thisdayinbaseball.com)

In 1890, the Chicago Colts finished 6.5 Games behind the Brooklyn Bridegrooms for the National League pennant. Hutchison led the way, pitching in 71 Games, with 66 Starts, throwing 65 Complete Games, with 5 Shutouts, in 603.0 Innings, allowing 505 Hits, 315 Runs, 181 Earned Runs, 20 Home Runs, 199 Walks, 289 Strikeouts, a 41-25 record, 2.70 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, and 137 ERA+. He led the league in Wins, Games Pitched, Games Started, Complete Games, Innings Pitched, and Home Runs allowed. He would pitch 561 and 622 Innings for the Colts in 1891 and 1892 respectively, leading the league in Innings Pitched three consecutive seasons. His 622 Innings in 1892 marked the last time a pitcher threw 500 or more Innings in a season. Hutchison’s effectiveness dropped dramatically in 1893 after three seasons with at least 561 Innings Pitched and the introduction of the pitchers mound. In his final four seasons, Hutchison’s ERA ballooned over 5.00 as age and Innings caught up to him.

Roger Connor was a feared slugger in an era ruled by pitching. The Waterbury native played 18 seasons in the Majors for five teams: Troy Trojans (1880-1882), New York Giants (1883-1889, 1891, 1893-1894), New York Giants (Players League) (1890), Philadelphia Phillies (1892), and St. Louis Browns (1894-1897). Connor’s best season was 1885 with the New York Giants. He played 110 Games, collected 169 Hits, 23 Doubles, 15 Triples, 1 Home Run, 65 RBI, 102 Runs scored, 51 Walks, 8 Strikeouts, .371 BA, .435 OBP, .495 SLG, .929 OPS, and 200 OPS+. Connor led the league in Hits and OBP on his way to winning the National League Batting Title. 

During his tenure with the Giants, Connor played in two World Series, 1888 and 1889. The World Series then was a postseason exhibition. He collected 19 Hits, 3 Doubles, 4 Triples, 15 RBI, 16 Runs scored, 12 Stolen Bases, 7 Walks, 2 Strikeouts, .328 BA, .400 OBP, .517 SLG, and .917 OPS. Exhibition or not, Connor came to play. 

Roger Connor, baseball’s Home Run King until a Baltimore born pitcher came along. (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

In 18 seasons, Connor played 1,998 Games, collected 2,467 Hits, 441 Doubles, 223 Triples, 138 Home Runs, 1,323 RBI, 1,620 Runs scored, 244 Stolen Bases, 1,002 Walks, 455 Strikeouts, .316 BA, .397 OBP, .486 SLG, .883 OPS, and 153 OPS+. Connor’s legacy remains as the Home Run king for 23 years before Babe Ruth broke and demolished the record. 

Despite reigning as the Home Run king, Roger Connor never led the league in Home Runs. His power was consistent, slugging at least 10 Home Runs in seven seasons. Connor did hit memorable long balls. On September 10, 1881, his Troy Trojans trailed the Worcester Ruby Legs 7-4 with 2 Outs in the Bottom of the 9th. Connor proceeded to launch the first Grand Slam in Major League history, giving the Trojans a 8-7 Walk Off win. Five years later, Connor struck again. Facing Old Hoss Radbourn on September 11, 1886, Connor turned on a pitch, sending the ball literally out of the park. The ball landed outside of the Polo Grounds on 112th Street. Despite his achievements, Connor may have been lost to history if not for Hall of Fame Umpire Bill Klem. Klem advocated for Connor’s induction into Cooperstown for years before the Veterans Committee finally agreed in 1976.

Connecticut has a tremendous baseball legacy. Five members of the Hall of Fame hail from the Constitution State: Morgan Bulkeley (Executive), Roger Connor, Ned Hanlon (Manager), Jim O’Rourke, and George Weiss (Executive). Every player from Connecticut has contributed to the success and growth of baseball. Next week we move down the Atlantic Coast from the Constitution State to the First State, Delaware. 


Artistry with a Bat: Roberto Clemente’s Four Batting Titles

Roberto Clemente was many things on a baseball field. A tremendous outfielder, outstanding leader, and natural born hitter. Despite his career being tragically cut short, only nine players have won more Batting Titles than Clemente’s four. It is a testament to Clemente’s skill with the bat.

The nine players out of nearly 20,000 players in Major League history to win more batting titles than the Great One are all in the Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb leads with 12 Batting Titles, a record unlikely to be equaled or broken. Tony Gwynn and Honus Wagner are tied for second with 8 titles. Rod Carew, Rogers Hornsby, and Stan Musial each collected 7. Ted Williams won 6 despite two pauses in his career for military service. Wade Boggs and Dan Brouthers won 5 titles. Clemente is tied with Cap Anson, Miguel Cabrera, Harry Heilmann, and Bill Madlock with four Batting Titles. Anson and Heilmann are in the Hall of Fame. Cabrera will join them when his career is over. Surprisingly, Madlock did not receive the minimum 5% in 1993, falling off the ballot in his first year of eligibility.

Roberto Clemente was a naturally gifted hitter. (Getty Images)

Winning multiple Batting Titles in your career is an impressive accomplishment. Clemente won his four titles in the span of seven seasons. He won his first Batting Title in 1961. In 146 Games, Clemente collected 201 Hits, 30 Doubles, 10 Triples, 23 Home Runs, drew 35 Walks with just 59 Strikeouts. He posted a .351 BA, .390 OBP, .559 SLG, .949 OPS, and 150 OPS+. Clemente was named to both All Star games that summer and finished fourth in the MVP voting. The 26 year old could not save Pittsburgh however, as the Pirates finished in 6th place, 75-79. While the team struggled, Clemente began his ascent to super stardom. 

After two “down” seasons where he hit a mere .316, Clemente claimed his second Batting Title in 1964. Named an All Star for the fifth consecutive season, he played 155 Games, collected 211 Hits, 40 Doubles, 7 Triples, 12 Home Runs, with 51 Walks and 87 Strikeouts on his way to a .339 BA, .388 OBP, .484 SLG, .872 OPS, and 146 OPS+. Clemente led the National League in Hits, with career highs in Hits (211) and Doubles (40). The 29 year old finished ninth in MVP voting as the Pirates again struggled to a 6th place finish, 80-82.

Clemente won his second consecutive, and third overall, Batting Title in 1965. He played 152 Games, collected 194 Hits, 21 Doubles, 14 Triples, 10 Home Runs, with 43 Walks and 78 Strikeouts. He posted a .329 BA, .378 OBP, .463 SLG, .842 OPS, and 136 OPS+. His 194 Hits and .329 BA were the lowest of his four Batting Titles, while his 14 Triples were a career high. Once again Clemente finished in the top ten for the MVP, 8th. Pittsburgh played their first meaningful baseball late in the season since 1960, finishing third, 90-72. 

1966 was another “down year” for Clemente’s Batting Average, dipping to .317, tied for fourth highest in the National League. Ultimately he traded a third consecutive Batting Title for the MVP award. In 1967 Clemente unsuccessfully defended his MVP award, finishing third. His Batting Average rebounded as he won his fourth and final Batting Title. In 147 Games, he collected 209 Hits, 26 Doubles, 10 Triples, and 23 Home Runs, drew 41 Walks with 103 Strikeouts. He posted a career high .357 BA, with a .400 OBP, .554 SLG, .954 OPS, and 171 OPS+. Clemente led the league in Hits for a second time. Despite his efforts the Pirates were a .500 team, 81-81, 6th in the National League.

Few players remained at their best as long as Roberto Clemente did. (Getty Images)

Any player can have a great season, only elite players can maintain this level of play season after season. In his four Batting Title winning seasons Clemente averaged 150 Games played, 204 Hits, 29 Doubles, 10 Triples, 17 Home Runs, 43 Walks, 82 Strikeouts, .344 BA, .389 OBP, .514 SLG, and .903 OPS. This was the average. These four seasons gave Clemente roughly a quarter of his career Hits (815 of 3,000), Doubles (117 of 440), Triples (41 of 166), and Home Runs (68 of 240), as he hit .027 above his career .317 BA. Every player peaks, but Clemente peaked higher than Everest.

Clemente did not fade in the twilight of his career. He hit a combined .346 from 1969 to 1971, averaging 214 Hits per 162 Games played. Clemente finished second to Pete Rose for the Batting Title in 1969, just three points short of his fifth title, .348 to .345. Clemente played just 108 games in 1970, failing to qualify for the Batting Title. However, his .352 BA would have placed second behind Rico Carty’s .366, well ahead of Manny Sanguillen and Joe Torre’s .325. In 1971, Clemente hit .341 and finished fourth in the Batting Title. The 36 year year old could still hit. His Batting Average in each season from 1969 to 1971 was higher than his Batting Title winning Batting Averages in 1964 and 1965. Clemente remained among the best hitters in the league. 

Only a select few are naturally gifted to hit a baseball and without a doubt Roberto Clemente was one of them. His abilities should be celebrated in the same breath as Aaron, Ruth, Cobb, Musial, and Williams. His number 21 should be retired across baseball for his accomplishments on the field and for what he meant to the game off the field. He was a true humanitarian and remains the icon for Puerto Rican and Caribbean players. Retire #21.


Ghost Runner on Second

The continued tinkering with baseball is changing the strategy of the game. The three batter minimum, limited mound visits, pitch clocks, talk of an expanded postseason, and the universal DH are part of Commissioner Rob Manfred’s strange obsession with changing the game. He believes these changes will speed up the game and attract more fans. The latest idea, and hold over from the 2020 Covid season, is to place a runner on Second Base to start extra innings. This does not speed up games, it prevents marathon games. 

I understand the logic, the Pirates and Rockies do not need to play a 19 inning game in early September when both are already eliminated from the Postseason. Little good can come from such a game. However, in their attempt to prevent marathon games Manfred and MLB have used a sledgehammer when a thumbtack would have sufficed. Instead of immediately placing a runner on Second, teams should play an inning, or three, under normal baseball rules. Play regular baseball in the 10th, 11th, and 12th. If there is still no winner, then put a runner on Second to start the 13th. 

No clock means baseball can last forever, theoretically. Placing a runner on Second is designed to maintain that theory. Since 2012 the number of extra inning MLB games has remained fairly consistent.

YearExtra Inning Games% of Total Games

Roughly eight games a week go into extra innings during the MLB season. In his excellent piece from 2017, “Exploring Extra Innings”, Devan Fink examined every extra inning game from 2012 through August 2017. In that time there were 1,200 extra inning games, of which 219 games went to the 13th inning or beyond (18.25%). Nearly 82% of extra inning games are decided within the first three innings of free baseball. There have been more than 20,000 MLB games played since 2012 and slightly more than 1% have gone beyond the 12th inning. Baseball usually works itself out, are dramatic changes necessary for such a small problem?  

MLB should examine other sports leagues to solve its marathon problem. The NBA, like MLB, plays until there is a winner. Games can last so long they draw interest from otherwise uninterested parties simply to see how the game ends. MLB wants to move away from this. The NFL plays a single Overtime and if there is no winner, the game ends in a tie. Thankfully MLB has not considered this an option. The NHL and soccer leagues play Over/ Extra Time and if there is still no winner they move to a shootout. The teams have more time to score before the game becomes a battle between the goalies. 

We don’t know why you’re on Second either Cody Bellinger. (Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports)

MLB should take the NHL and soccer approach. Give teams a few extra innings to win, if neither side can then place a runner on Second. Extra innings are full of drama as the visiting team can instantly send the home team to the brink, and the home team can end the game with one swing. Let the drama build until it is clear both teams need some help. 

Automatically placing a runner on Second in extra innings feels too much like youth baseball. Fans pay to watch a game, let the best players in the world play. Marathon games can hurt a team for days afterwards, but bad things happen to good teams every year. Teams need to take care of their players, especially pitchers, but instantly placing a runner on Second in extra innings is overkill. Let the teams play a few innings before altering how the game is played.


United States of Baseball- Colorado

Colorado is better known as an outdoor playground than a hub for baseball. The mountainous terrain in the western half of the state and cold winters are not conducive to year round baseball. Nevertheless, the Centennial State has sent 97 players to the Major Leagues. Colorado may trail other states in sheer numbers, but the state makes up for it with quality. Roy Halladay has the highest WAR among Colorado born pitchers, 65.37, and ranks 22nd among state and territory leaders. Chase Headley leads all Colorado born position players with 25.92 WAR, ranking him 48th among all leaders. Halladay and Headley’s combined 91.29 WAR ranks Colorado 38th highest. More and more baseball talent comes from the Centennial State each year, it will undoubtedly continue climbing higher in the rankings.

Roy Halladay is one of the great pitchers in recent baseball history. The Denver native pitched 16 seasons for the Toronto Blue Jays (1998-2009) and Philadelphia Phillies (2010-2013). In 390 career Starts, Halladay posted a 203-105 record, throwing 67 Complete Games, 20 Shutouts, 2,749.1 Innings Pitched, allowed 236 Home Runs, 592 Walks, 2,117 Strikeouts, with a 3.38 ERA, 1.178 WHIP, and 131 ERA+. He was an 8 time All Star, finished in the top 5 for the Cy Young Award seven times, won 2 Cy Youngs (2003 and 2010), and was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame in 2019. 

Roy Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history on the way to Cooperstown. (Mel Evans/ AP)

Halladay’s career numbers reflect the era in which he pitched. Pitching continues to evolve, gone are the days of massive innings totals, double digit Complete Games, and the ability to contain most teams inside the ballpark. Hall of Fame voting for pitchers is changing and Halladay helped lead the charge. 

Unquestionably Halladay’s greatest season was his 2010 campaign with the Philadelphia Phillies. In 33 Starts, he posted a 21-10 record, throwing 9 Complete Games, 4 Shutouts, in 250.2 Innings, allowing just 68 Earned Runs, 30 Walks, 219 Strikeouts, with a 2.44 ERA, 1.041 WHIP, and 167 ERA+. Halladay led the National League in Wins, Complete Games, Shutouts, and Innings Pitched on his way to his second Cy Young and finishing 6th in MVP voting. His crowning achievement was Game 1 of the National League Divisional Series against the Cincinnati Reds. Halladay missed the zone with a full count in the 5th Inning. This Jay Bruce walk was all the offense the Reds could muster. He pitched 9 Innings, allowing 0 Hits, 1 Walk, 8 Strikeouts, faced 28 batters, and threw 104 pitches. Halladay became the second pitcher to throw a No Hitter in the Postseason after Don Larsen’s Perfect Game in the 1956 World Series. Halladay was nearly unhittable in 2010 and was in Game 1 of the NLDS.

Chase Headley played 12 seasons for the San Diego Padres (2007-2014, 2018) and New York Yankees (2014-2017). The Fountain native appeared in 1,436 Games, collected 1,337 Hits, 272 Doubles, 16 Triples, 130 Home Runs, 596 RBI, scored 637 Runs, 93 Stolen Bases, 574 Walks, 1,298 Strikeouts, .263 BA, .342 OBP, .399 SLG, .742 OPS, and 106 OPS+. Playing primarily Third Base, Headley played 9,643.1 Innings, had 2,888 Chances, made 703 Putouts, 2078 Assists, 107 Errors, and turned 173 Double Plays. Both his career .963 Fld% and Range, 2.60 RF/9, were above average. Headley was a solid hitter and above average Third Baseman. While his numbers will not see him inducted into Cooperstown, he was a productive player throughout his long career. 

Chase Headley was a solid Third Baseman with the glove and the bat throughout his career. (The Athletic)

Headley’s best season was in 2012 with the Padres. In 161 Games, he collected 173 Hits, 31 Doubles, 2 Triples, 31 Home Runs, 115 RBI, scored 95 Runs, 17 Stolen Bases, 86 Walks, 157 Strikeouts, .286 BA, .376 OBP, .498 SLG, .875 OPS, and 145 OPS+. He led the National League in RBI, and won his only Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. Headley peaked in San Diego before he was traded to the Yankees who re-signed him as a free agent to a 4 year, $52 million contract. Players are rewarded for past performance and Headley cashed in.

Colorado has sent two players to Cooperstown. The WAR leader, Roy Halladay, and Goose Gossage. Undoubtedly more Coloradans will follow as the Centennial State continues building its baseball legacy. Next Week the United States of Baseball heads east to the Constitution State, Connecticut. 


Love Is Strange

Love makes people do some strange things. It can make you wake up at 3 AM to rock a baby back to sleep. It makes you think about someone other than yourself. It changes your plans, short and long term, just so you can be with someone. It changes everything. Love is strange.

There are different types of love. I may obsess over baseball, but it is always secondary to my love for my wife and daughter. As is my love for traveling, especially road trips. The summer of 2021 could be the intersection of my love for baseball and travel. Kevin and I have planned a roadtrip to see all 30 teams play at home in 30 days. Bernie will join us for the last week or so as well. Conservatively this road trip is over 15,000 miles of driving to watch a baseball game at each ballpark. There is no logical reason to undertake such a trip. No shame in seeing all 30 teams over a lifetime, or never. Baseball allows you to select your own adventure. I want to experience the absurd adventure that is 30 teams in 30 days. You only do this trip out of a burning love for the game.

Oakland Athletic’s game on our Honeymoon. My wife understands my love for baseball like no one else. (The Winning Run/ DJ)

Pulling off such a daunting trip is impossible without the love of my wife. Leaving her with our daughter for 30 days is tough. Toddlers are not always rational. It pains me that I want to do this trip. Missing my wife and daughter for 30 days already hurts and I have not driven a single mile. Life gives you difficult opportunities. I am not complaining, many people never have the opportunity to do such a trip. Love can be painful sometimes.

Covid will dictate if Kevin and I can do our 30 in 30 trip. If a single team does not allow fans then the decision is made for us. Regardless of what this summer brings, my love for baseball remains. More importantly the love of my life understands my love for baseball. She is willing to do the illogical so that I can do what I love, travel and baseball. Whether the 30 in 30 trip happens or not I am already a lucky man because of the woman I love.

Happy Valentine’s Day Panda Bear.


United States of Baseball- California

California has produced 2,338 Major League players, more than any other state; nearly 1,000 more than the second most productive state, New York. Only truly special players rise to the top in the Golden State. California’s greatest pitcher is Tom Seaver. His 106.02 career WAR ranks 8th among state leaders. The greatest position player is Barry Bonds, who ranks 2nd with 162.76 career WAR. Their combined 268.78 career WAR ranks California 3rd among all states and territories.

Tom Seaver for many was the perfect pitcher. He combined dominance with longevity. The Fresno native pitched 20 seasons in the Majors for the New York Mets (1967-1977, 1983), Cincinnati Reds (1977-1982), Chicago White Sox (1984-1986), and Boston Red Sox (1986). He won 311 Games, threw 231 Complete Games, 61 Shutouts, Struckout 3,640 batters, with a 2.86 ERA, 1.121 WHIP, and 127 ERA+. Seaver was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1967, a 12 time All Star, World Series champion with the 1969 Mets, won three National League ERA titles (1970-1971, 1973), three National League Cy Young Awards (1969, 1973, 1975), and was a first ball Hall of Famer in 1992. 

Tom Seaver made a career out of frustrating batters. (Focus on Sports via Getty Images)

There were so many great seasons in Tom Terrific’s career, it is difficult to pick which was his best. His three Cy Young seasons are the most logical, but his 1971 campaign is equally as dominant. Pitching for the 83 win Mets, he started 35 Games, threw 21 Complete Games, 4 Shutouts, in 286.1 Innings, allowed 61 Walks, while Strikingout 289 batters, posting a 20-10 record, 1.76 ERA, 0.946 WHIP, and 194 ERA+. Seaver was a tremendous pitcher, who despite all the accolades is still underrated. 

Barry Bonds is one of the greatest hitters of all time. Ignoring the PEDs, Bonds could hit. Yes his peak and the distance he could hit a baseball were unnaturally extended, no drug can help you hit a round ball with a round bat squarely. Bonds is a first ballot Hall of Famer if not for the cloud of PEDs. The Riverside native’s resume is ridiculous. He was a 14 time All Star, won 8 Gold Gloves, 12 Silver Slugger Awards, two National League Batting Titles (2002, 2004), and a record 7 Most Valuable Player Awards (1990, 1992-1993, 2001-2004). 

Bonds played 22 seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1986-1992) and San Francisco Giants (1993-2007). He collected 2,935 Hits, 601 Doubles, 77 Triples, 762 Home Runs, 1,996 RBI, 2,227 Runs scored, 514 Stolen Bases, 2,558 Walks, 688 Intentional Walks, with a .298 BA, .444 OBP, .607 SLG, 1.051 OPS, and 182 OPS+. Bonds holds the Major League record for most Home Runs, Walks, and Intentional Walks. If not for his connection to PEDs and blackballing after surpassing Hank Aaron’s Home Run record he would have reached 3,000 Hits and increased his records. 

Barry Bonds could hit, regardless of PED usage. (Phil Carter-US PRESSWIRE)

Like Seaver, it is difficult to select Barry Bonds’ greatest season. However, 2004 is one of the most ridiculous seasons in baseball history and deserves some recognition. At 39 years old, Bonds played 147 Games with 617 Plate Appearances and 373 At Bats, 135 Hits, 27 Doubles, 3 Triples, 45 Home Runs, 101 RBI, 129 Runs scored, 6 Stolen Bases, 232 Walks, 120 Intentional Walks, 41 Strikeouts, with a .362 BA, .609 OBP, .812 SLG, 1.422 OPS, and 263 OPS+. He led the league in Walks, Intentional Walks, BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ on his way to his 7th MVP award. He set the single season record for both Walks and Intentional Walks. Bonds has the top three single season Walk totals (2001- 177 walks, 2002- 198 walks, and 2004- 232 walks). He also has the top three single season Intentional Walk totals, and six of the top ten (1st 2004- 120 IBB, 2nd 2002- 68 IBB, 3rd 2003- 61 IBB, 6th 1993 and 2007- 43 IBB, 9th 2006- 38 IBB). Teams were always terrified of Bonds swinging the bat, but in 2004 opposing teams refused to pitch to him, leaving voters little choice with their MVP votes. 

California is a hot bed for baseball. Both Seaver and Bonds were first ballot Hall of Famers, unfortunately only one enjoyed the honor. The Golden State has produced the second most Hall of Fame players. The 24 California born Hall of Fame players are: Gary Carter, Frank Chance, Joe Cronin, Joe DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Don Drysdale, Dennis Eckersley, Lefty Gomez, Joe Gordon, Tony Gwynn, Chick Hafey, Harry Heilmann, Trevor Hoffman, Harry Hooper, Randy Johnson, George Kelly, Tony Lazzeri, Bob Lemon, Ernie Lombardi, Eddie Murray, Tom Seaver, Duke Snider, Alan Trammell, and Ted Williams. The Golden State also produced Hall of Fame Executive Pat Gillick and Umpire Doug Harvey. California has been wonderful to baseball. 

The United States of Baseball is heading for higher ground. Next week we examine baseball in Colorado. 


It Is Designed To Break Your Heart

Some losses in life hurt deep within your soul. Emotional pain can create physical agony. The death of a loved one or the end of a relationship can cause such pain. Baseball too can hurt your soul. The retirement of your favorite player does not end the relationship as you still see them from time to time, but it is never the same. Retirement does give you time to prepare for the inevitable, but it is never enough. Perhaps the harshest pain is when your favorite player, the cornerstone of the franchise, is unceremoniously traded away. The dagger in your heart is twisted when there is no logic to the trade. 

Breaking bad news to someone you care about is never easy. Even if it is just a baseball trade. 

Your soul can hurt. My friend Josh took the news as well as could be expected. Nolan Arenado is his favorite player. The Rockies are his favorite team. The majority of our text conversations revolve around Arenado. The latest crazy play or highlight video. He loves Arenado and the Rockies loved him back by playing him at Third everyday.

Heartbreak is never easy. Those closest to us can do the most damage. The pain takes time to fade, if it ever does. In the days since the Arenado trade he has posted and shared several articles, each more critical than the last. We have tried to make sense of the trade, but sometimes there are bad trades and only so much sense to be made. 

The breakup of the Blake Street Bombers hurt. How could it not? It was the end of the first great era in Rockies history. However the Arenado trade cuts deeper. Gone is the illusion that Colorado is trying to win. The owner chose the GM over the superstar. Yes the Rockies got four players in return but they also sent $50 million to St. Louis to complete the trade.

Nolan Arenado wanted to win in Colorado, but the Rockies never built a contender around him. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Speaking of those Cardinals. It is one thing to suffer heartbreak. It is another for your pain to bring someone else joy. My friend’s wife is a die hard Cardinals fan. Any other team and he could have stomached the trade, but now he has to watch Arenado win with the Cardinals instead of the Rockies. Baseball can be brutal. The emotional attachment to players and teams can bring fans both elation and suffering. 

Fandom is rarely a conscious choice, as it is often determined by where we live. Watching a player like Nolan Arenado play for your favorite team is intoxicating. Watching him be traded away for peanuts to the worst possible team is gut wrenching. Time supposedly heals all wounds, but the damage is done. Some things in life cannot be undone. Even if Arenado returns to Colorado later in his career, the pain of losing him in his prime remains. The raw emotion of losing your favorite player because of the incompetence of your favorite team is something no fan should experience. Colorado fans are left to wonder why. There are no satisfying answers.