Tagged: Giants

United States of Baseball-Massachusetts

There is more to baseball in Massachusetts than Fenway Park. The iconic ball park has played a major role in the game’s history, but it is not the Bay State’s only contribution. Massachusetts has sent 667 players to the Major Leagues. The greatest pitcher born in Massachusetts is Tim Keefe. His 89.13 career WAR ranks him 12th among pitching state and territory leaders. Jeff Bagwell is the greatest position player born in the Bay State. His 79.88 career WAR ranks 20th among position player leaders. Massachusetts has a combined 169.01 WAR, ranking the Bay State 16th among states and territories. 

Tim Keefe made the most of his opportunities in baseball. The Cambridge native pitched for 14 seasons with five teams: Troy Trojans (1880-1882), New York Metropolitans (1883-1884), New York Giants (1885-1889, 1891), New York Giants of the Players League (1890), and Philadelphia Phillies (1891-1893). The inspiration for the pitcher in Casey At The Bat, Keefe pitched in 600 career Games, made 594 Starts, threw 554 Complete Games, including 39 Shutouts, Pitched 5,049.2 Innings, allowed 4,438 Hits, 2,470 Runs, 1,474 Earned Runs, 75 Home Runs, 1,233 Walks, 2,564 Strikeouts, posted a 342-225 record, 2.63 ERA, 1.123 WHIP, and 126 ERA+. He won three ERA Titles (1880, 1885, and 1888) and became the second member of the 300 Win Club, joining Pud Galvin. Keefe was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964 by the Veterans Committee. 

The World Series was a postseason exhibition during Keefe’s career, but he still shined. He pitched in three series (1884, 1888, and 1889), helping the Giants win the latter two. Keefe pitched in 8 Games, made 7 Starts, threw 7 Complete Games, Pitched 61.0 Innings, allowed 45 Hits, 36 Runs, 18 Earned Runs, 2 Home Runs, 14 Walks, 46 Strikeouts, posted a 4-3 record, 2.66 ERA, and 0.967 WHIP. He was terrific regardless of the stakes. 

Tim Keefe was one of baseball’s earliest dominant pitchers. (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

The best season of Keefe’s career was 1888 with the Giants. He pitched in and Started 51 Games, threw 48 Complete Games, including 8 Shutouts, Pitched 434.1 Innings, allowed 317 Hits, 143 Runs, 84 Earned Runs, 5 Home Runs, 90 Walks, 335 Strikeouts, posted a 35-12 record, 1.74 ERA, 0.937 WHIP, and 156 ERA+. He led the National League in Wins, Winning Percentage, Shutouts, Strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, and ERA+ to win the Pitching Triple Crown. Keefe established the Major League record, later equaled by Rube Marquard, with 19 consecutive victories from June 23 to August 10. 

Away from the diamond, Keefe stayed busy. In 1885, he helped form the Brotherhood of Professional Base Ball Players, an early attempt at a player’s association. Keefe worked to end the Reserve Clause. In his ongoing efforts to break the hold of owners, Keefe helped establish the Players League in 1890. While the league collapsed after one season, Keefe continued fighting for player’s rights. 

Houston’s Killer B’s revolved around Jeff Bagwell. The Boston Native played First Base for 15 seasons with the Astros (1991-2005). In 2,150 career Games, Bagwell collected 2,314 Hits, 488 Doubles, 32 Triples, 449 Home Runs, 1,529 RBI, scored 1,517 Runs, 202 Stolen Bases, 1,401 Walks, 1,558 Strikeouts, .297 BA, .408 OBP, .540 SLG, .948 OPS, and 149 OPS+. Originally drafted by his hometown Red Sox, Bagwell was traded to Houston for Larry Anderson. The Minor Leaguer was heartbroken. However, the Astros gave him the opportunity to win the First Base spot in Spring Training. Bagwell played Third Base throughout his Minor League career, but Ken Caminiti was entrenched at the Hot Corner. Bagwell responded by winning the 1991 National League Rookie of the Year Award, receiving 23 of 24 first place votes. He was named to four All Star teams and won three Silver Slugger awards. Bagwell was a terror at the plate, collecting at least 30 Doubles 10 times and scored 100 Runs nine times. He hit 30 Home Runs with 100 RBI eight times. Despite his ferocious approach, Bagwell drew 100 Walks seven times. He hit over .300 six times and posted a 1.000 OPS five times. He twice produced 30 Home Run 30 Stolen Base seasons. Bagwell appeared in the 2005 World Series, collecting his final career Hit in eight At Bats as shoulder injuries ended his career. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2017. 

Jeff Bagwell’s unique batting stance only draw more attention to his At Bats while he terrorized opposing pitchers. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Unquestionably the best season of Bagwell’s career was 1994. In the Strike Shortened season, he played in 110 Games, collected 147 Hits, 32 Doubles, 2 Triples, 39 Home Runs, 116 RBI, scored 104 Runs, 15 Stolen Bases, 65 Walks, 65 Strikeouts, .368 BA, .451 OBP, .750 SLG, 1.201 OPS, and 213 OPS+. He led the National League in RBI, Runs scored, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and Total Bases (300). Bagwell won his first Silver Slugger, the Gold Glove, and was the unanimous National League MVP.  

Massachusetts continues to play an important role in the game. The Bay State’s rich baseball history has seen 15 native sons enshrined in Cooperstown: Jeff Bagwell, Jack Chesbro, John Clarkson, Mickey Cochrane, Candy Cummings (Executive), Leo Durocher (Manager), Tom Glavine, Frank Grant, Tim Keefe, Joe Kelley, Connie Mack (Manager), Rabbit Maranville, Tommy McCarthy, Wilbert Robinson (Manager), and Pie Traynor. Fenway is not Massachusetts’ only baseball legacy. Next week the United States of Baseball heads for the Great Lakes. The Wolverine State is next, Michigan. 

DJ

The 30 in 30 Schedule

The baseball schedule is a grind. Day after day, game after game. 162 games is no easy feat. Neither is 30 games in 30 days. We have our schedule for seeing all 30 teams in 30 days. It is not for the faint of heart. 

After much time and research, here is the schedule we will follow for our 30 in 30 baseball road trip. 

SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday
July 16July 17
St. Louis
Cardinals
Cincinnati
Reds
July 18July 19July 20July 21July 22July 23July 24
Philadelphia PhilliesWashington NationalsAtlanta
Braves
Tampa Bay RaysMiami
Marlins
Houston
Astros
Kansas City Royals
July 25July 26July 27July 28July 29July 30July 31
Minnesota
Twins
Chicago
Cubs
Cleveland SpidersBaltimore OriolesBoston
Red Sox
Buffalo
Blue Jays
Pittsburgh
Pirates
August 1August 2August 3August 4August 5August 6August 7
New York
Mets
New York YankeesDetroit
Tigers
Milwaukee BrewersChicago White SoxColorado
Rockies
Los Angeles Dodgers
August 8August 9August 10August 11August 12August 13August 14
Oakland AthleticsSan Diego
Padres
Los Angeles AngelsSeattle
Mariners
San Francisco GiantsArizona DiamondbacksTexas
Rangers

In 30 days we will drive 15,611 miles and roughly 237 hours. We have 11 drives over 500 miles. This includes three drives over 500 miles, three over 700 miles, and five over 1,000 miles. We will be driving a rental car, no sense destroying our own cars. There will be long days where we do not want to drive. However, it will be worth it in the end. 

This is one of the truly great baseball road trips. The most common reaction from people has been shock at the enormity of the trip and the amount of driving. Kevin and I both understand and are thankful Bernie will be joining us later in the trip to be our third driver. Hopefully knowing the end is in sight energizes us. 

There are two types of challenging drives. Difficulty because of game start time and distance. The two drives that are difficult because of start times are early in the journey. Our third game is the Phillies with a 1:05 PM start time. It is 576 miles and almost 9 hours from Cincinnati and Philadelphia. The easy solution would be to drive some after the Reds game. However, I live in Cincinnati so it makes more sense to sleep in my own bed before leaving. This means we will hit the road around 3 AM. Rise and drive. The second challenging start time is in Tampa. We will be coming from Atlanta, 493 miles and almost 8 hours away. The Rays game starts at 12:10 PM. Again the easy solution is to start driving the night before, but finances play a role. I am from Atlanta so we will stay with my family, plus hang out with Jesse and John. You cannot pass up free lodging. Kevin and I will have another 3 AM departure. Great for beating traffic, but no one wants to wake up that early. 

We are hoping for nothing but blue skies, green grass, and baseball. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

The second category of difficult drives is the distance between teams. Try as we might, some teams are isolated or at dead ends. The Marlins and Rays present a problem. The Braves are the only close team so we knew there would be a long drive to or from Florida. We will have a mostly free day in Miami, and free lodging thanks to our friend Jason, so we should be rested for the drive to Houston. The Astros are 1,186 miles and 17 hours away. Unfortunately Miami has a night game, so another short night before setting off around 2 AM. The change from Eastern to Central Time helps, but a 17 hour drive is tough. Miami to Houston is our longest drive of the trip. 

The West Coast could make or break the trip. Our limited window and the schedule gave us limited options. The trip west begins after seeing the White Sox. We will drive 1,004 miles and 14 and a half hours to Denver. The time zones again help. After the Rockies game we have to keep moving, our next game is in Los Angeles. Dodger Stadium is 1,022 miles and almost 15 hours away. Back to back 1,000 mile days will be brutal, but our baseball guardian angel, Bernie, joins us at the perfect time. After a few days driving up and down California we face a drive from Anaheim to Seattle. The Mariners are 1,163 miles and 18 hours north. While it is a few miles shorter than Miami to Houston, California traffic can be a nightmare. The key is simply getting out of Los Angeles.  The final long drive is to our final game. We head 1,047 miles and 15 hours east from Phoenix to Arlington for the Rangers game. The time zones will work against us. The final leg will either have us completely spent or we will be hyped as we complete the most ridiculous trip of our lives. The only thing that will matter is watching our 30th game in 30 days. 

There will be plenty of difficult drives along the way, but we know these are the ones that will test our commitment to completing 30 in 30. Having an off day in Miami and New York should reenergize us. The short drives between Milwaukee and Chicago as well as San Diego and Los Angeles will give one of us a day off. This is our schedule to see 30 games in 30 days. Hopefully we hit minimal traffic and avoid rain delays and rain outs. 

DJ

United States of Baseball- Maine

Everyone needs a vacation from time to time. Few states can compete with the beauty of Maine. Vacationland is a natural playground from the sea to the mountains and forests. Major League Baseball has seen 78 Mainers take the field. The greatest pitcher born in Maine is Bob Stanley. His 23.86 career WAR is the 48th highest among pitcher state and territory leaders. George Gore is the greatest position player born in Maine. His 39.94 career WAR is 41st highest among state and territory leaders. Maine has a combined 63.80 WAR, ranking Vacationland 46th among states and territories. 

Bob Stanley was a critical part of Boston’s attempt to break the Curse of the Bambino. The Portland native played 13 seasons with the Red Sox (1977-1989). Stanley pitched in 637 career Games, made 85 Starts, 377 Games Finished, threw 21 Complete Games, including 7 Shutouts, 132 Saves, 1,707 Innings Pitched, allowed 1,858 Hits, 797 Runs, 690 Earned Runs, 113 Home Runs, 471 Walks, 693 Strikeouts, posting a 115-97 record, 3.64 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. He was twice an All Star. Stanley was the American League Pitcher of the Month in August 1980. His 115 Wins are the most for a pitcher born in Maine. Stanley’s 33 saves in 1983 and 132 career Saves set then Red Sox records. He retains the Boston record for most career pitching appearances. 

Bob Stanley took the mound more than any pitcher in Red Sox history. (Associated Press)

In the 1986 World Series, Stanley did his best to break the Curse. He pitched in 5 Games, Finished 4 Games, with 1 Save, Pitched 6.1 Innings, allowed 5 Hits, 0 Runs, 0 Earned Runs, 1 Walk, 4 Strikeouts, posting a 0-0 record, 0.00 ERA, and 0.947 WHIP. Boston was close to ending its World Series drought before the team collapsed.

Stanley’s best season was his sophomore season. In 1978 he pitched in 52 Games, made 3 Starts, 35 Games Finished, including 10 Saves, Pitched 141.2 Innings, allowed 142 Hits, 50 Runs, 41 Earned Runs, 5 Home Runs, 34 Walks, 38 Strikeouts, posted a 15-2 record, 2.60 ERA, 1.242 WHIP, and 160 ERA+. He finished 7th for the American League Cy Young and 25th for the MVP. While Stanley never surpassed 1978, he was a key arm in Boston for another decade. 

George Gore was one of baseball’s earliest stars. The Saccarappa native patrolled Centerfield for 14 seasons with four teams: Chicago White Stockings (1879-1886), New York Giants (1887-1889, 1891-1892), New York Giants of the Players League (1890), and St. Louis Browns (1892). He was a feared presence at the plate. In 1,310 career Games, Gore collected 1,612 Hits, 262 Doubles, 94 Triples, 46 Home Runs, 618 RBI, scored 1,327 Runs, 170 Stolen Bases, 717 Walks, 332 Strikeouts, .301 BA, .386 OBP, .411 SLG, .797 OPS, and 136 OPS+. His career began by conducting baseball’s first holdout, A.G. Spalding offered Gore $1,200 to sign with the White Stockings. He countered with $2500. The sides eventually agreed to $1900. It was money well spent as Gore led the National League in Runs scored twice (1881-1882) and Walks four times (1882-1884, and 1886). His career 1.01 Runs scored per Game far exceeds many Hall of Famers including Henry Aaron and Ted Williams. Gore brought excitement to every game he played.

Gore played in four World Series. He lost in 1885 and 1886 with the White Stockings and won in 1888 and 1889 with the Giants. In his four trips to the Fall Classic, Gore collected 16 Hits, 2 Doubles, 1 Triple, 1 Home Run, 3 RBI, scored 15 Runs, 4 Stolen Bases, 9 Walks, 5 Strikeouts, .276 BA, .373 OBP, .397 SLG, and .770 OPS. He helped lay the groundwork for the World Series we know today.

George Gore was one of baseball’s first stars. (www.SABR.org)

Gore’s best season was 1880 with the White Stockings. He played 77 Games of a 82 Game season, collected 116 Hits, 23 Doubles, 2 Triples, 2 Home Runs, 47 RBI, scored 70 Runs, 21 Walks, 10 Strikeouts, .360 BA, .399 OBP, .463 SLG, .862 OPS, and 185 OPS+. He led the National League in BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+. Gore is the only Mainer to win a Batting Title, which came in a season so dominated by pitchers that the Pitcher’s Box was moved from 45 to 50 feet after the season.  

Maine does not have a representative in Cooperstown. However, Vacationland has contributed greatly to the growth of baseball. Next week the United States of Baseball heads down the Atlantic coast to the Old Line State. Maryland is next. 

DJ

United States of Baseball- Louisiana

Louisiana was once home to the Minor League New Orleans Baby Cakes. The team moved to Wichita, Kansas in 2020, leaving the Pelican State without a Major League affiliated team. Despite the absence, Louisiana has a strong baseball tradition, having sent 130 players to the Majors. The greatest pitcher born in the Pelican State is Ted Lyons. His 70.40 career WAR ranks 16th highest among state and territory pitching leaders. Mel Ott is the greatest position player from Louisiana. His 110.66 career WAR ranks 9th among position player leaders. Lyons and Ott combine to give Louisiana 181.06 WAR. The Pelican State has the 13th highest WAR. 

Ted Lyons was beloved by White Sox players, coaches, and fans. The Lake Charles native spent his entire 21 season career (1923-1942, 1946) pitching on the South Side of Chicago. The Right Hander graduated from Baylor University and skipped the Minors. In his career, Lyons pitched in 594 Games, made 484 Starts, threw 356 Complete Games, including 27 Shutouts, pitched 4,161 Innings, allowed 4,489 Hits, 2,056 Runs, 1,696 Earned Runs, 222 Home Runs, 1,121 Walks, 1,073 Strikeouts, posted a 260-230 record, 3.67 ERA, 1.348 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. He threw a No Hitter against the Red Sox on August 21, 1926. He was named to the 1939 All Star team and won the American League ERA Title in 1942. Lyons won at least 20 games three times, posted an ERA below 3.00 four times, threw 20 Complete Games seven times, and threw 10 Complete Games 18 times. After a shoulder injury nearly ended his career, Lyons began pitching only on Sundays to great effect. He led the Junior Circuit in Wins, Complete Games, Shutouts, Innings Pitched, and Hits twice each. 

Sunday Ted Lyons was dominant for many less than great White Sox teams. (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Chicago was never good during Lyons’ career. The closest the White Sox came to the Pennant was in 1940, finishing fourth, 8 Games Back of the Tigers. After missing three full seasons in the military during World War II, Lyons returned for five more games before retiring when he was named the Chicago’s manager. He holds the record for most Wins, Innings Pitched, and Complete Games by a White Sox pitcher. Lyons would have reached the hallowed 300 Wins mark if he had played on a better team. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1955. His 6.0% Strikeout rate is the lowest for any Hall of Famer who began their career after 1920. He also has the second highest career ERA, 3.67, of any pitcher in Cooperstown. The White Sox wanted to retire his #16 in 1985, but Lyons could not attend due to poor health and a desire to see others wear the number. He passed away the next year, after which the White Sox officially retired #16. 

Lyons’ best season was in 1927. He pitched in 39 Games, made 34 Starts, threw 30 Complete Games, including 2 Shutouts, pitched 307.2 Innings, allowed 291 Hits, 125 Runs, 97 Earned Runs, 7 Home Runs, 67 Walks, 71 Strikeouts, posted a 22-14 record, 2.84 ERA, 1.164 WHIP, and 143 ERA+. He led the American League in Wins, Complete Games, Innings Pitched, and Hits allowed. Despite the White Sox finishing 70-83, Lyons finished third in MVP voting. Ted Lyons’ career was filled with tough luck games and seasons. 

Mel Ott was one of the greatest players in Major League history. The Gretna native patrolled Right Field at the Polo Grounds for 22 seasons with the New York Giants (1926-1947). Ott played in 2,730 career Games, collected 2,876 Hits, 488 Doubles, 72 Triples, 511 Home Runs, 1,860 RBI, scored 1,859 Runs, 89 Stolen Bases, 1,708 Walks, 896 Strikeouts, .304 BA, .414 OBP, .533 SLG, .947 OPS, and 155 OPS+. He led the National League in Runs scored and OPS twice, OBP four times, OPS+ five times, and Home Runs and Walks six times. His domination at the plate included hitting 30 Doubles five time, posting a 1.000 OPS seven times, slugging 30 Home Runs eight times, scoring 100 Runs and 100 RBI nine time, drawing 100 Walks 10 times, posting a .300 BA 11 times, and a 150 OPS+ 14 times. His skills with the bat and feared throwing arm earned him 12 All Star appearances. Ott set the National League record with 79 Runs scored and 87 RBI on the road in 1929. He retired as the Senior Circuit’s all time leader with 511 Home Runs (200 more than second place), trailing only Jimmie Foxx and Babe Ruth. He was also the National League’s all time leader in Runs scored, RBI, and Walks. Ott was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1951.

Mel Ott terrorized the National League every time he stepped to the plate. (National Baseball Hall of Fame)

Ott played in three World Series. The Giants defeated the Washington Senators in 1933.. The Giants would return to the World Series in 1936 and 1937, losing both to the Yankees. In three World Series, Ott played 16 Games, collected 18 Hits, 2 Doubles, 4 Home Runs, 10 RBI, scored 8 Runs, 8 Walks, 9 Strikeouts, .295 BA, .377 OBP, .525 SLG, and .901 OPS. He tried to bring more titles back to the Polo Grounds. 

The best season of Ott’s career was 1936. In 150 Games, he collected 175 Hits, 28 Doubles, 6 Triples, 33 Home Runs, 135 RBI, scored 120 Runs, 6 Stolen Bases, 111 Walks, 41 Strikeouts, .328 BA, .448 OBP, .588 SLG, 1.036 OPS, and 177 OPS+. He led the National League in Home Runs, SLG, OPS, and OPS+. He was named an All Star and finished sixth in MVP voting while leading the Giants to the Pennant.

Louisiana has a proud baseball history. The Louisiana State University baseball team remains one of the premier college teams every year. Five members of the Hall of Fame were born in the Pelican State: Willard Brown, Bill Dickey, Ted Lyons, Mel Ott, and Lee Smith. There are others with strong cases for induction. Next week the United States of Baseball heads to New England. Vacationland is next, Maine. 

DJ

United States of Baseball- Indiana

Indiana is known more for basketball and auto racing than baseball. However, the Hoosier State has a strong baseball legacy. 377 Major League players were born in Indiana. Amos Rusie is the greatest Hoosier pitcher. His 65.20 career WAR ranks 23rd among state and territory pitching leaders. Scott Rolen is the greatest position player from Indiana. His 70.11 career WAR ranks 27th among position player leaders. Combined, Indiana boasts a 135.31 WAR, 23rd highest among all states and territories. 

The Hoosier Thunderbolt terrified batters. Many batters never saw Amos Rusie’s fastball, but it sounded fast. The Mooresville native so scared opposing teams the pitcher’s box was moved back from 55 feet to the familiar 60 feet 6 inches. Batters wanted extra time to avoid taking a fastball to the head. 

Rusie pitched for 10 seasons in the Majors with three teams: Indianapolis Hoosiers (1889), New York Giants (1890-1895, 1897-1898), and Cincinnati Reds (1901). The talents of some players are easily recognizable. Rusie pitched just four minor league games before reaching the Majors with the Hoosiers, who folded after the 1889. In 463 career Games, he made 427 Starts, threw 393 Complete Games, including 30 Shutouts, pitched 3,778.2 Innings, allowed 3,389 Hits, 2,068 Runs, 1,288 Earned Runs, 75 Home Runs, 1,707 Walks, 1,950 Strikeouts, posted a 246-174 record, 3.07 ERA, 1.349 WHIP, and 129 ERA+. Foul balls were not counted as strikes until 1901, making Rusie’s strikeout total even more impressive. 

Baseball is a business. In 1895, Rusie was twice fined $100 for breaking curfew and not trying hard enough. Angered by the large fines, his salary was $3,000, Rusie sat out the 1896 season and sued the Giants owner for $5,000 and his release. Ultimately the matter was settled for $5,000 as baseball owners did not want the Reserve Clause challenged in court. 

Rusie’s career was derailed after injuring his shoulder making a pickoff move in 1898. The injury prevented him from pitching in 1899 and 1900. The Giants traded Rusie to the Cincinnati Reds in 1901 for a young pitcher named Christy Mathewson. Rusie only lasted until June, Mathewson went to Cooperstown. 

Amos Rusie’s fastball terrified batter, so much that the baseball diamond was changed. (www.fromdeeprightfield.com)

Rusie set an unbreakable record, walking 289 batters in 1890. He pitched the Giants’ first No Hitter in 1891. Rusie won two ERA titles (1894 and 1897) and the Pitching Triple Crown in 1894. He led the National League in Strikeouts and Walks five times, and Shutouts four times. Rusie was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1977 by the Veterans Committee. 

Amos Rusie’s best season was 1894 with the Giants. He pitched in 54 Games, made 50 Starts, threw 45 Complete Games, including 3 Shutouts, pitched 444 Innings, allowed 426 Hits, 228 Runs, 137 Earned Runs, 10 Home Runs, 200 Walks, 195 Strikeouts, posted a 36-13 record, 2.78 ERA, 1.410 WHIP, and 188 ERA+. He led the National League in Starts, Wins, Shutouts, Walks, Strikeouts, ERA, WHIP, and ERA+. At his peak, few pitchers baffled and intimidated hitters like Rusie.

Third Base is under-represented in Cooperstown. The hot corner does not receive the same respect as the rest of the infield. Evansville native Scott Rolen should be inducted into the Hall of Fame in the coming years. He played 17 seasons with four teams: Philadelphia Phillies (1996-2002), St. Louis Cardinals (2002-2007), Toronto Blue Jays (2008-2009), and Cincinnati Reds (2009-2012). Drafted by the Phillies in the 2nd Round, Rolen was one At Bat short of losing his rookie status in 1996 when he was injured by a Hit By Pitch. He returned from the injury to win the 1997 National League Rookie of the Year award and launch a Hall of Fame career. 

Rolen played 2,038 career Games, collected 2,077 Hits, 517 Doubles, 43 Triples, 316 Home Runs, 1,287 RBI, scored 1,211 Runs, 118 Stolen Bases, 899 Walks, 1,410 Strikeouts, .281 BA, .364 OBP, .490 SLG, .855 OPS, and 122 OPS+. He was elite with the glove. At Third, he played 17,479.1 Innings, had 5,745 Chances, made 1,478 Putouts, 4,081 Assists, committed 186 Errors, turned 355 Double Played, with a .968 FLD%, 2.86 RF9, 2.75 RFG, and 140 Rtot. Rolen was a seven time All Star, won eight Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger, and the 2006 World Series with the Cardinals. Despite his great play, his departures from Philadelphia and St. Louis came after run-ins with managers Larry Bowa and Tony LaRussa

Scott Rolen is among the greatest defensive Third Basemen ever and he was solid at the plate. (Dubois County Herald)

The best season of Rolen’s career was 2004 with the Cardinals. He played 142 Games, collected 157 Hits, 32 Doubles, 4 Triples, 34 Home Runs, 124 RBI, scored 109 Runs, 4 Stolen Bases, 72 Walks, 92 Strikeouts, .314 BA, .409 OBP, .598 SLG, 1.007 OPS, and 158 OPS+. He was an All Star for the third time and won his sixth Gold Glove. Rolen finished fourth for the National League MVP. While he did not lead the league in any statistical category, it was another solid season in Rolen’s consistent career. 

Indiana continues to build a proud baseball history. The Hoosier State is well represented in Cooperstown with 10 Hall of Famers: Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, Max Carey, Oscar Charleston, Ford Frick (Commissioner), Billy Herman, Chuck Klein, Sam Rice, Edd Roush, Amos Rusie, and Sam Thompson. Rolen should soon join this elite group. Next week the United States of Baseball moves to the final member of the former Three I League. The Hawkeye State, Iowa. 

DJ

Predictions Sure To Go Wrong 7.0

Baseball is back. The 162 game Regular Season grind is back. So too is the unpredictability of the season. No single player can dominate so completely that they carry their team to a World Series title. Baseball is different, the best player does not always come to bat with the game on the line. The Angels would love to send Mike Trout to the plate in every big moment, but that is not how baseball works. The game is back to normal and if we know anything our predictions will foretell what will not happen this season. Your guess is as good as ours for the 2021 season.

American League East

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
YankeesGod’s Waiting RoomYankeesYankeesYankeesYankees
RaysSpankiesDudein JaysRaysPoutineRays
Snow BirdsSorrysDevil RaysFlorida BirdsRaysBlue Jays
Red SoxBaltimoreSad BirdsRed SuxRacistsRed Sox
Dead BirdSoxFenwaysBmoreOh DearOrioles

The American League East is the Yankees to lose. Gerrit Cole makes any team better, but New York signed him to be the workhorse in October. If the training staff can keep the pinstripes healthy the rest of the division is in trouble. The Tampa Bay Rays seemed to get worse by trading away Blake Snell. However, it is hard to count the Rays out as they seem to find underrated players who exceed expectations and put Tampa in the thick of the Postseason race. The biggest question for Tampa is will they have a World Series hangover. The Toronto Blue Jays could be snow birds for the entire season. There has been no official word on when the team can return to Canada. They will play their home games in Dunedin, Florida for the foreseeable future. Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will provide plenty of excitement wherever they play. The Red Sox traded away Andrew Benintendi and lost Jackie Bradley Jr. to the Brewers in free agency to complete the teardown of one of the most exciting outfields in recent memory. Boston fans are still excited about the financial flexibility the Mookie Betts trade gave them. Baltimore is a great baseball town. The Orioles are in the middle of a painful rebuild. They will not contend this season, but Baltimore is on the rise…finally.

American League Central

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
Black SoxTwinkiesChiSoxChiSoxTwinsWhite Sox
TwinkiesSouth SidersTwinkletittesTwinklesWhite SoxTwins
MonarchsTeam to be named laterQuarter PoundersClevelandRoyalsRoyals
SpidersTigersCleveland Footbal teamRoyalsSpidersSpiders
Motor City KittiesMonarchsDetroit Why Am I HeresTigersTigersTigers

The South Side of Chicago will have plenty of fireworks. The reigning American League MVP in Jose Abreu. The always exciting Tim Anderson. A pitching staff that can compete with any team in baseball. Can Tony La Russa harness Chicago’s potential or will a clash between old school and new school derail the White Sox. The Minnesota Twins continue to be a great Regular Season team. Their signing of Andrelton Simmons might be the most underrated free agent move of the offseason. Can they figure out a winning formula in October? Kansas City has quietly built a solid team on a budget. Signing and trading for Mike Minor, Andrew Benintendi, and Carlos Santana with Whit Merrifield and Salvador Perez already on the roster will create plenty of wins for the Royals. Is it enough to compete with the White Sox and Twins for the division? Cleveland could be a very good team, but in a tough division good is not good enough. They still have Jose Ramirez and Shane Bieber, but the team needs more if they want to contend. The Detroit Tigers continue rebuilding. Miguel Cabrera’s continued ascent up the record books will draw fans. Wins will be difficult to come by, but the Tigers have a bright future ahead, but Detroit should not expect a trip to the Postseason in 2021.

Tim Anderson is never boring on the diamond. (www.si.com)

American League West

DerekJesseJohn Moving Co.KevinBernieThe Winning Run
MoneyballWhite ElephantsLA’s other teamA’sBeane BallersAthletics
TroutHouston Astr-hosMoneyballTrash CansAngelsAngels
Trash CansAngelsCheatersAngelsCheatersAstros
Ranger DangerNolan Ryan Hot DogsSea hagsStarbucksMarinersMariners
MarinersGriffey Used to Play HereAgent ZerosChuck NorrisRangersRangers

Could this be the year the Astros lose their grip on the division? George Springer is gone and Justin Verlander is out with Tommy John surgery. Houston is still a competitive team, but the division is catching up. Bang the trash can slowly. Oakland has a dynamic duo in Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. The young and hungry A’s are built to compete and the team is posed to deliver. Mike Trout deserves better. The best player in baseball for almost a decade has been stuck in Los Angeles as the Angels keep turning potential into disappointment. Shohei Ohtani is healthy and Albert Pujols can still hit. The Angels owe it to Mike Trout to finally deliver him to the Postseason, but he cannot do it alone. This was not the offseason Seattle wanted. The ire of an entire sport focused on the stupidity spewed by their now former President and CEO about the team’s young talent has not set the team up for success. The Mariners have not played in October since 2001. Seattle has drafted and signed prospects that appear set to be the future stars for the Mariners. The Robinson Cano signing told Seattle it cannot rely on a single player with a monster contract. Lesson learned, they are a few seasons away from winning. It will be a long hot summer in Texas. The Rangers have some good pieces, but not enough to matter. At least their new stadium has a roof so the players and fans do not cook in the Texas heat. 

National League East

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The National League East is the toughest division in baseball. Atlanta was 1 game away from the World Series last year. Instead of hoping for better results the Braves got better by signing Charlie Morton and will get Mike Soroka back from his torn Achilles. Their offense is led by reigning National League MVP Freddie Freeman and future MVP Ronald Acuna Jr. The Amazin’s are a force to reckon with, especially after adding Francisco Lindor, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, and Taijuan Walker. The question is can the Mets win enough. The Marlins have finally built a team internally. Miami bought two World Series championships but those were short term successes followed by fire sales and long rebuilds. The young Marlins will be fun to watch and are building towards October. The Nationals may have the best rotation in baseball. The keys for Washington are keeping everyone healthy and can the offense, besides Juan Soto, keep up with the pitching. Philadelphia has Bryce Harper, but one player cannot put an entire team on his back. The Phillies will be good, but in a deep division they could be the best last place team in baseball. 

National League Central

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Yadier Molina is an ageless wonder. 17 seasons behind the plate for the Cardinals and he is still among the best catchers in baseball. St. Louis is set at the corners with Paul Goldschmidt and the nearly acquired Nolan Arenado. The Central crown runs through St. Louis. Milwaukee got better by signing Kolten Wong away from their divisional rival Cardinals. The Brewers are one of the more underrated teams in baseball and have a real chance at the Postseason in an already tight division. Cincinnati made it back to the Postseason in the shortened 2020 season. The Reds have the pitching and offense to return this season. The division may be too difficult to win, but the Wild Card is within reach. This could be the final season of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javier Baez at Wrigley. Looming free agency makes it nearly impossible for Chicago to retain all three players long term. The Cubs will be good, but change is coming. The Pirates are barely a Major League team. It was a little surprising MLB did not cull them with the other Minor League teams this winter. They have a projected team payroll of $46 million, with nearly a quarter of it tied to Gregory Polanco. Ke’Bryan Hayes provides hope for the future but the Postseason is out of the question.

Traded to St. Louis with $50 million, Nolan Arenado will finally play for a winning team. (Getty Images)

National League West

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The reigning and defending World Series champions will return to October, but can they fend off the Padres. The championship team is back and will continue racking up wins. Clayton Kershaw is no longer the only pitcher Los Angeles can depend on in the Postseason, the Dodgers should make a deep run to defend their crown. San Diego is built for success now and in the future. Fernando Tatis Jr., Eric Hosmer, Manny Machado, and Chris Paddack are tough to beat every time they take the field. The race for the West will be fun to watch. The gap between the top and bottom of the division is huge. Few teams were as high as the Giants a decade ago, but that is the past now. The rebuild continues in the back end of Buster Posey’s career. How long will he continue playing is unknown, but he is already a San Francisco legend. Arizona is not a bad team, but can they compete with the titans on the coast? The Diamondbacks have plenty of good players, including an underrated Ketel Marte, but they lack a superstar to compete in October. The Rockies managed to enrage their entire fanbase with a single move, trading away Nolan Arenado. Every team makes tough roster decisions, but Colorado decided it was best to rid themselves of the best Third Baseman in baseball and keep a General Manager that has not shown any ability to put a winning team on the field. Yes Trevor Story is still on the team, but his impending free agency will see him shipped out before the season is over. Once Story is gone what is left to build around? Get ready for a long and brutal rebuild Colorado fans.  

Postseason

The Poseseason is a roll of the dice. A team can come in hot and suddenly turn cold and be gone. A team struggling can suddenly find their footing and go on a tear. The beauty of October baseball is that it is more unpredictable than the Regular Season.

American League Wild Card

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National League Wild Card

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American League Divisional Series 

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National League Divisional Series

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American League Championship Series

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National League Championship Series

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World Series

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Congratulations to the 2021 World Series Champions, the Atlanta Braves. We will find out just how wrong our predictions were in October. None of us have high hopes that we were right. Happy Opening Day!

Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies will lead the Braves to the World Series. (New York Times)

DJ, JJ, JB, BL, and KB

Frank Robinson- Integrating the Managers Office

It is both a great honor for Frank Robinson, and a failure for baseball, that he was the first African-American manager in the American League AND the National League. His leading the way for fellow African-American managers is a testament to the relentlessness that made Robinson a Hall of Fame player. African-Americans, and all minorities, deserve more opportunities to demonstrate their leadership abilities. Too often they do not receive a second opportunity if they are unsuccessful. While Robinson did not enjoy overwhelming success, he was critical in furthering racial equality in baseball.

Frank Robinson’s desire to become baseball’s first African-American manager was not a secret. He was nearing the end of his playing career, when the California Angels traded him to Cleveland. Robinson was named player/manager, playing sparingly for the next two seasons and retiring following the 1976 season. Robinson, now just the manager, lasted just 57 games into the 1977 season on the shores of Lake Erie. In Cleveland, he led the team to back to back fourth place finishes and a 186-189 record. Robinson’s next opportunity to manage was a few years away. 

The 1981 Players Strike interrupted the season, with no Regular Season games between mid June and mid August. The tumultuous season also featured the first African-American manager in the National League. Robinson again broke the managerial color barrier. His tenure with the San Francisco Giants was more successful than in Cleveland. He guided the Giants to a 56-55 Strike shortened record, finishing fourth in the National League West. San Francisco followed with a 87-75 season in 1982, finishing third, just 2 games behind the division winning Atlanta Braves. The Bay Area was hopeful the Giants would finally bring a World Series championship to San Francisco. Unfortunately, the Giants regressed to a 79-83 campaign in 1983 before Robinson was fired with a 42-64 record in 1984. Robinson guided the Giants to a 264-277 record in four seasons, but October remained elusive. 

Frank Robinson was the first African-American manager in both the AL and NL. (Diamond Iages/ Getty Images)

Robinson served as a coach and worked in the Baltimore Orioles’ Front Office while waiting for another opportunity. The Orioles fired Cal Ripken Sr. following an 0-6 start in 1988, naming Robinson as his replacement. Baltimore finally won its first game of the season on April 29. Their 0-22 start remains the worst in Major League history. The Orioles finished 54-101, last in the American League East, a mere 23.5 behind sixth place Cleveland. 1989 was better for everyone in Baltimore. Robinson guided the team to a 87-75 record. A dramatic turn around, which earned him the American League Manager of the Year award. Once again Robinson’s team was two games short of October. The Orioles finished fifth in 1990 and Robinson was fired after a 13-24 start in 1991. He led Baltimore for four seasons, posting a 230-285 record in what appeared to be his final managerial stop. However, Robinson would return to the dugout one more time. 

The 1994 Players Strike helped kill the Montreal Expos. The star studded team was 74-40, six games ahead of the Braves, with the best record in baseball when the season came to a crashing halt. After the Strike, the Montreal ownership had a fire sale from which the franchise never recovered. MLB took over ownership of the team after a failed contraction attempt. The Expos began playing some home games in Puerto Rico before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals in 2005. Amid the turmoil MLB named Robinson manager, giving him the near impossible task of producing wins while the team was uncertain season to season where they would play or if they would exist. The Expos won 83 games in each of Robinson’s first two seasons before a 67 win season on the way out of Montreal. He managed the Nationals in their first two seasons in Washington, winning 81 and 71 games, before he was fired. In five seasons with the Expos and Nationals, Robinson went 385-425 in his final managerial stop.

Frank Robinson is not the greatest Manager, but the pain of pulling Matt LeCroy in the middle of an inning sums up the man. LeCroy was catching for the Nationals in Robinson’s last season in Washington. Despite some injuries LeCroy went behind the plate to help the team. Seven stolen bases and two throwing errors later, Robinson made the painful decision to pull LeCroy in the middle of an inning. His body could not meet the demands of the game. Pulling a position player in the middle of an inning virtually never happens. The story could have been about embarrassing LeCroy, instead it was about the anguish and torment Robinson felt for doing what was best for his team and player. Baseball is a tough game played by tough people, but humanity does exist within the game.

The abilities that sent Frank Robinson to Cooperstown did not translate to managing. He was not a terrible leader, but his accomplishments playing baseball far outpace those managing. Robinson managed four teams: Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, and Montreal Expos/ Washington Nationals. In 16 seasons he posted a 1,065-1,176 record. No Robinson led team ever won the division or made the postseason. His teams stole Third, laid down Sacrifice Bunts, issued Intentionally Walks, and Substituted players more than other teams. Ultimately Robinson’s legacy is breaking the managerial color barrier in both leagues. It was long overdue and Robinson paved the way for other African-Americans to follow. Baseball still has work to do, but Frank Robinson helped move the game forward.  

DJ

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. 

DJ

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. 

DJ

The United States of Baseball- Alabama

United States of Baseball

After an abbreviated 2020 season, hopefully a normal 2021 season lies ahead of us. The loss of normalcy due to Covid has made us all appreciate the good in our lives and what brings us together. In this effort The Winning Run will examine the greatest players from every state of the United States. Each Wednesday we will examine each state’s best pitcher and position player based on career WAR. 

This is not to diminish the contributions of non-American born players. They will have their own spotlight later. We hope you enjoy this journey through the United States of Baseball.

Alabama

Alabama does not have a Major League team, but it has produced 341 Major League players. Success on the field has led 11 players from the Yellowhammer state to Cooperstown. The greatest Alabama pitcher is Don Sutton and the greatest position player is Willie Mays. Both players are enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Their combined 224.51 WAR, gives Alabama the sixth highest WAR. 

Born in Clio, Alabama, Don Sutton is the town’s only Major Leaguer. He compiled 68.29 career WAR in 23 seasons pitching primarily for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has the 18th highest WAR among pitching state leaders. Sutton made at least 31 starts in 20 seasons, with his best season coming in 1972. In 33 Starts, he went 19-9 with 18 Complete Games, 9 Shutouts, throwing 272.2 Innings, with a 2.08 ERA, 0.913 WHIP, and 162 ERA+. He was an All Star and finished fifth in National League Cy Young voting.

The 1972 season began five seasons of dominance. Sutton went 93-51, with a 2.73 ERA, 1.054 WHIP, and 125 ERA+ during his peak. He finished in the top five of Cy Young voting in each season. 

Don Sutton was both dominant and had a long healthy career on the way to Cooperstown. (Focus on Sport/Getty Image)

The five seasons of dominance coupled with a long and healthy career enabled Sutton to join the illustrious 300 Win club. His 324 Wins are tied with Nolan Ryan for 14th most. He started 756 Games, threw 178 Complete Games, 58 Shutouts, in 5,282.1 Innings, with a 3.26 ERA, 1.142 WHIP, and 108 ERA+. Sutton won the 1980 National League ERA title with a 2.20 ERA. 

Sutton retired after the 1988 season. He finished his career with the Dodgers following stints with the Angels, Brewers, Astros, and Athletics. He was elected to Cooperstown in 1998 with 81.6% of the vote in his fifth year of eligibility. 

Westfield, Alabama has one Major Leaguer, the legendary Willie Mays. In 22 seasons, Mays compiled 156.22 career WAR for the Giants and Mets. He has the third highest WAR among position player state leaders. Nearly 50 years after his final game, Mays is still considered by many the greatest player ever.

Choosing the greatest season of Willie Mays’ career is impossible. His two MVP seasons are the easy choices, but 1955 was equally impressive. Mays’ first MVP season was 1954. In 151 Games, he collected 195 Hits, including 33 Doubles, 13 Triples, 41 Home Runs, 110 RBI, 119 Runs scored, with 8 Stolen Bases, 66 Walks, 57 Strikeouts, .345 BA, .411 OBP, .667 SLG, 1.078 OPS, and 175 OPS+. He led the league in Triples, BA, SLG, OBP, OPS, and OPS+. In 1955, Mays played 152 Games, collected 185 Hits, including 18 Doubles, 13 Triples, 51 Home Runs, 127 RBI, 123 Runs scored, 24 Stolen Bases, 79 Walks, 60 Strikeouts, .319 BA, .400 OBP, .659 SLG, 1.059 OPS, and 174 OPS+. He led the league in Triples, Home Runs, SLG, OPS, and OPS+ to finish fourth in MVP voting. A decade later, with the Giants now in San Francisco, Mays won his second MVP. He dominated in 1965, playing 157 Games, collecting 177 Hits, 21 Doubles, 3 Triples, 52 Home Runs, 112 RBI, 118 Runs scored, 9 Stolen Bases, 76 Walks, 71 Strikeouts, .317 BA, .398 OBP, .645 SLG, 1.043 OPS, and 185 OPS+. He led the league in Home Runs, OBP, SLG, OPS, and OPS+. In the ten seasons between MVPs, Mays finished outside of the top six in MVP voting once. 

Few, if any, players have ever played baseball better than Willie Mays. (AP Photo)

A Hall of Fame career is not built in a few good seasons, it requires consistent and sustained success. In 22 seasons, Mays collected 3,283 Hits, 523 Doubles, 140 Triples, 660 Home Runs, 1,903 RBI, 2,062 Runs scored, 338 Stolen Bases, 1,464 Walks, 1,526 Strikeouts, .304 BA, .384 OBP, .557 SLG, .941 OPS, and 156 OPS+. In addition to his MVPs, Mays won the 1951 National League Rookie of the Year, the 1954 World Series, the 1954 National League Batting title, 12 consecutive Gold Gloves, and was a 24 time All Star. In 1979, Mays was elected to Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility with 94.7% of the vote

Beyond Sutton and Mays, 10 more Hall of Famers were born in Alabama: Hank Aaron, Monte Irvin, Heinie Manush, Willie McCovey, Satchel Paige, Joe Sewell, Ozzie Smith, Mule Suttles, Billy Williams, and Early Wynn. Alabama’s rich baseball history continues. 

The next stop for the United States of Baseball is The Last Frontier, Alaska.

DJ