Tagged: National League Most Valuable Player

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

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

United States of Baseball- Illinois

The Land of Lincoln is one of the most fertile states for producing Major League players. Illinois has sent 1,069 players to MLB. There are great players born in Illinois. Robin Roberts is the greatest pitcher born in Illinois. His 86.05 career WAR ranks him the 14th among all state and territory leaders. Rickey Henderson is the greatest position player born in Illinois. His 111.20 WAR ranks him 8th among state and territory leaders. Combined Roberts and Henderson give Illinois 197.25 WAR, ranking the Land of Lincoln 11th among all states and territories. 

Robin Roberts was born in Springfield. The Right Handed Pitcher spent 19 seasons in the Majors, pitching for four teams: Philadelphia Phillies (1948-1961), Baltimore Orioles (1962-1965), Houston Astros (1965-1966), and Chicago Cubs (1966). Roberts was dominant during his time in Philadelphia and continued pitching for several more seasons as a crafty veteran. In his career, Roberts appeared in 676 Games, made 609 Starts, threw 305 Complete Games, including 45 Shutouts, pitched 4,688.2 Innings, allowed 4,582 Hits, 1,962 Runs, 1,774 Earned Runs, 505 Home Runs, 902 Walks, 2,357 Strikeouts, posted a 286-245 record, 3.41 ERA, 1.170 WHIP, and 113 ERA+. Roberts was an All Star in seven consecutive seasons, 1950-1956. He finished in the top seven for the National League MVP in five of the seven All Star seasons. Roberts was the only pitcher to win against the Braves in their three home cities: Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1976. 

Robin Roberts’ easy motion hide the fierce competitor on the mound. (www.mlb.com)

There are plenty of great seasons in Robin Roberts career, but 1952 was the most consequential. Pitching for the Phillies, Roberts appeared in 39 Games, made 37 Starts, threw 30 Complete Games, including 3 Shutouts, pitched 330 Innings, allowed 292 Hits, 104 Runs, 95 Earned Runs, 22 Home Runs, 45 Walks, 148 Strikeouts, posted a 28-7 record, 2.59 ERA, 1.021 WHIP, and 141 ERA+. He led the National League in Wins, Games Started, Complete Games, Innings Pitched, and Hits allowed. Roberts won 20 of last 22 Starts and 17 of his last 18. He also began a streak of 28 straight Complete Games from July 20, 1952 to June 14, 1953. Roberts was named an All Star and finished a close second to Hank Sauer for National League MVP. Commissioner Ford Frick later told Roberts he wanted to create an award, the Cy Young award, to honor pitchers, in part due to Roberts’ 1952 MVP snub. 

Robin Roberts was a terrific player on the field and served as the Phillies player representative during negotiations with the owners. He fought for higher pay, better pensions, and benefits. Roberts later served at the head of the National League players representatives. He, along with fellow future Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, approached Marvin Miller about serving as the first Executive Director of the Players Association. They knew the players needed a full time advocate. This choice of Miller led to greater benefits, free agency, and higher salaries, among other areas of progress for the players. 

The Man of Steal never lacked self confidence. Everyone in the stadium knew Rickey Henderson was going to steal, yet the opposing team could rarely stop him. The Chicago native played 25 seasons with nine teams: Oakland Athletics (1979-1984, 1989-1993, 1994-1995, 1998), New York Yankees (1985-1989), Toronto Blue Jays (1993), San Diego Padres (1996-1997, 2001), Anaheim Angels (1997), New York Mets (1999-2000), Seattle Mariners (2000), Boston Red Sox (2002), and Los Angeles Dodgers (2003). Henderson was a one man wrecking crew. In 3,081 career Games, he collected 3,055 Hits, 510 Doubles, 66 Triples, 297 Home Runs, 1,115 RBI, scored 2,295 Runs, 1,406 Stolen Bases, 335 Caught Stealing, 2,190 Walks, 1,694 Strikeouts, .279 BA, .401 OBP, .419 SLG, .820 OPS, and 127 OPS+. He is the All Time leader in Runs scored, Stolen Bases, and Caught Stealing. Henderson was a 10 time All Star, won a Gold Glove in 1981, three Silver Slugger awards, the 1989 American League Championship Series MVP, won two World Series (1989- Athletics and 1993- Blue Jays), and the 1990 American League MVP. He led the league in Stolen Bases 12 times and stole at least 50 Bases 14 times. Henderson led the league in Runs scored five times and scored at least 100 Runs 13 times. He led the league in Walks four times and drew at least 100 Walks seven times. He struck out more than 100 times just once, at age 39, but also drew 118 Walks that season. Henderson hit over .300 eight times. His unequalled resume earned him induction into the Hall of Fame in 2007. 

No player in baseball history was as feared on the bases as Rickey Henderson (www.mlb.com)

Rickey Henderson’s MVP season may not be his greatest season, but it is still worth examining. Playing for the Oakland Athletics in 1990, he appeared in 136 Games, collected 159 Hits, 33 Doubles, 3 Triples, 28 Home Runs, 61 RBI, scored 119 Runs, 65 Stolen Bases, 10 Caught Stealing, 97 Waks, 60 Strikeouts, .325 BA, .439 OBP, .577 SLG, 1.016 OPS, and 189 OPS+. He led the American League in Runs scored, Stolen Bases, OBP, OPS, and OPS+. He was eight seasons removed from his record 130 Steal campaign, and was combining his otherworldly speed with power. In his 12th Major League season, many assumed Henderson was at his peak. Few imagined his career would continue for more than a decade after his MVP season.

Illinois has been critical in the development of baseball. Cooperstown is filled with 23 natives from the Land of Lincoln: Al Barlick (Umpire), Ed Barrow (Executive), Jim Bottomley, Lou Boudreau, Charles Comiskey (Executive), Jocko Conlan (Umpire),  Billy Evans (Umpire), Warren Giles (Executive), Will Harridge (Executive), Rickey Henderson, Whitey Herzog (Manager), Freddie Lindstrom, Joe McGinnity, Hank O’Day (Umpire), Kirby Puckett, Robin Roberts, Red Ruffing, Ray Schalk, Red Schoendienst, Al Spalding (Executive), Jim Thome, Bill Veeck (Executive), and Robin Yount. Growing the game happens on and off the diamond. Next week the United States of Baseball visits Illinois’ neighbor. The Hoosier State is next, Indiana. 

DJ

United States of Baseball- Idaho

There is more to Idaho than potatoes. The Gem State is full of unspoiled beauty that everyone who enjoys the outdoors should experience. Idaho has also produced 30 Major League players. The greatest pitcher born in the Gem State is Larry Jackson. His 52.56 career WAR ranks him 26th among state and territory pitching leaders. Harmon Killebrew is the greatest position player born in Idaho. His 60.42 career WAR ranks him 33rd among position players. Killebrew is the only Idahoan in the Hall of Fame. Jackson and Killebrew combined to give Idaho 112.98 WAR, 34th most among all states and territories.

Larry Jackson was born in Nampa. The Right Hander pitched 14 seasons in the Majors for three teams: St. Louis Cardinals (1955-1962), Chicago Cubs (1963-1966), and Philadelphia Phillies (1966-1968). In 558 career Games, Jackson made 429 Starts, threw 149 Complete Games, including 37 Shutouts, pitching 3,262.2 Innings, allowing 3,206 Hits, 1,405 Runs, 1,233 Earned Runs, 259 Home Runs, 824 Walks, 1,709 Strikeouts, posting a 194-183 record, 3.40 ERA, 1.235 WHIP, and 113 ERA+. Jackson was a five time All Star and the first from Idaho. 

Jackson’s best season was in 1964 with the Chicago Cubs. In 40 Games, he made 38 Starts, throwing 19 Complete Games, including 3 Shutouts, pitching 297.2 Innings, allowing 265 Hits, 114 Runs, 104 Earned Runs, 17 Home Runs, 58 Walks, 148 Strikeouts, posting a 24-11 record, 3.14 ERA, 1.085 WHIP, and 118 ERA+. He led the National League in Wins. Jackson finished 12th in the MVP voting. He also finished 2nd for the Cy Young award, then given to a single pitcher, not one per league. 

Larry Jackson was just short of elite during his career before turning to politics in retirement. (Belleville News-Democrat)

In Philadelphia, Jackson is most remembered for being part of the trade that sent future Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins to the Cubs. Later, the Montreal Expos selected Jackson in their expansion draft. He knew he was close to the end of his career, Jackson wanted to play for a west coast team closer to home. Instead of reporting to Montreal, he retired and returned to Idaho. Jackson served four terms in the Idaho House of Representatives and as the Executive Director of the Idaho Republican Party. He ran for Governor, finishing fourth in the Republican Primary despite campaigning by fellow Idaho players Harmon Killebrew and Vern Law.

Harmon Killebrew struck fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. The Payette native played 22 seasons for the Washington Senators/ Minnesota Twins (1954-1974) and Kansas City Royals (1975). In his career, Killebrew played in 2,435 Games, collected 2,086 Hits, 290 Doubles, 24 Triples, 573 Home Runs, 1,584 RBI, scored 1,283 Runs, 19 Stolen Bases, 1,559 Walks, 1,699 Strikeouts, .256 BA, .376 OBP, .509 SLG, .884 OPS, and 143 OPS+. Killebrew was a great hitter who opted to forgo hitting for average and use his power to help his team.

The best season of Killebrew’s career was his 1969 MVP season with the Twins. In 162 Games, he collected 153 Hits, 20 Doubles, 2 Triples, 49 Home Runs, 140 RBI, scored 106 Runs, 8 Stolen Bases, 145 Walks, 20 Intentional Walks, 84 Strikeouts, .276 BA, .427 OBP, .584 SLG, 1.011 OPS, and 177 OPS+. He led the American League in Games played, Home Runs, RBI, Walks, OBP, and Intentional Walks. Killebrew season was a terror at the plate. His MVP came in the middle of Killebrew’s five year run where he finished in the top five for the MVP four times. 

Harmon Killebrew terrorized the American League with every swing. (Associated Press)

Killebrew was a 13 time All Star, finished in the top 10 for the MVP six times, won the 1969 American League MVP award, the 10th player to join the 500 Home Run Club, and the first Twins player elected to the Hall of Fame in 1984. He was the first player elected as an All Star at three different positions (Third Base, First Base, and Left Field). Killebrew posted eight 40 Home Runs seasons, second only to Babe Ruth’s 11. Killer had nine 100 RBI seasons and seven 100 walk seasons, leading the Junior Circuit four times in free passes. When he retired Killebrew had the fifth most Home Runs. The legendary slugger became a beloved broadcaster for several teams in retirement. 

Idaho has given baseball several solid players and a Hall of Famer. The Gem State continues building its baseball legacy and hopes to send more players to Cooperstown. Next week the United States of Baseball heads east across the plains to the Land of Lincoln. Illinois is next.

DJ

Roberto Clemente- A Career on the Diamond

Few players possess the skill and grace on a baseball field like Roberto Clemente. His cannon for an arm in Right Field combined with his ability to hit the ball place him among baseball’s elite. There are players with better stats, although not many. However the numbers Clemente produced during his 18 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates are impressive. 

Clemente struck fear in the hearts of opposing teams every time he stepped in the batter’s box. They knew their only hope was to limit the damage. In 2,433 career Games, Clemente came to the plate 10,212 times, collected 3,000 Hits, including 440 Doubles, 166 Triples, 240 Home Runs, 1,305 RBI, scored 1,416 Runs, 83 Stolen Bases, drew 621 Walks, 167 Intentional Walks, 1,230 Strikeouts, .317 BA, .359 OBP, .475 SLG, .834 OPS, 130 OPS+, and 4,492 Total Bases. He produced a 71.5 oWAR. Baseball is a difficult game, and Clemente with a bat only made it harder for pitchers.  

There are plenty of players who play half the game. They excel at the plate, but are a liability in the field. Clemente is not among them. In 2,373 Games, primarily in Right Field, he played 20,514.1 Innings, had 5,108 Chances, made 4,697 Putouts, 269 Assists, 142 Errors, 42 Double Plays, with .972 FLD%,  2.18 RF/9, and 205 Rtot. His FLD% was below the .976 league average, however his Range was above the 2.12 league average. While he did commit a few more errors, Clemente reached more balls than other Right Fielders, turning hits into outs. His skill in the outfield resulted in a career 12.2 dWAR. Clemente was an asset, not a liability in the field.

It is difficult to summarize an entire career in a few stats. There is so much more to Clemente’s career than numbers. Watching him throw out runners from the outfield and launch baseballs with his bat was awe inspiring. He won plenty of awards for his elite play. Clemente, like every player, went through hot streaks. He won the National League Player of the Month award three times (May 1960- .336 BA, May 1967- .400 BA, and July 1969- .418 BA). He was a 15 time All Star (1960-1967, 1969-1972), playing in both All Star games in both 1960 and 1961. Clemente helped the Pirates win the 1971 World Series, hitting .414 in the Series. He was named World Series MVP and won the National League Babe Ruth award for the best Postseason performance. He won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1961 to 1972. He won four Batting Titles: 1961, 1964, 1965, and 1967. He finished in the top 10 in MVP voting eight times, winning in 1966. After his tragic death, the Hall of Fame waived the five year waiting period and inducted him in 1973 in a Special Election. Clemente was a giant among his contemporaries. Few players reach the same rarified air. 

Roberto Clemente was an all time great on the diamond. A skilled batter with a cannon for an arm. (www.pbslearningmedia.org)

Baseball has changed in the nearly 50 years since Clemente last graced the diamond. He was great in his era, but does he stack up against players from every era? Simply put, yes. Clemente still ranks 30th in career Singles, 27th in Triples, and 91st in Extra Base Hits. He drew the 37th most Intentional Walks. He collected the 51st most Total Bases and has the 83rd most Times on Base. Collectively this gives Clemente the 58th highest oWAR. The offensive explosion in recent decades has not ousted Clemente from near the top of the offensive record book. He also remains near the top on defense. He turned the 58th most Double Plays by an Outfielder, made the 38th most Putouts, and 17th most Outfield Assists. Clemente is one of the greatest defensive Right Fielders ever. He turned the 10th most Double Plays by a Right Fielder and is second in both Putouts and Assists. Combining Clemente’s elite bat and glove gives him the 25th highest career WAR

It is impossible to properly explain how great Roberto Clemente was as a player. His stats stand up to the test of time. He remains among the greatest players ever a half century after his death. He is a Hall of Famer and deserved to have his #21 retired by the Pirates. MLB should highlight his accomplishments whenever possible, yet for all of his greatness on the field he was a better man off of it. It is time to retire #21 across baseball.

DJ

United States of Baseball- District of Columbia

The District of Columbia is home to the federal government of the United States. However, the people who live there have long been under represented. It is not a state, they have only had a representative in the House of Representatives since 1972 and do not have a Senator. Governance of the city remains mostly under the control of Congress. Despite their lack of representation in our national government, the District of Columbia has left its mark on baseball. 102 Major League players hail from the nation’s capital. The greatest pitcher born in the District of Columbia is Doc White. His 47.11 career WAR  is the 32nd highest among state and territory leaders. Maury Wills is the greatest position player. His 39.75 WAR ranks him 42nd. White and Wills give the District of Columbia a combined 86.86 WAR, 40th highest. 

Guy Harris White earned the nickname Doc after graduating from the Georgetown University school of dentistry. The lefty came to the attention of baseball scouts in 1899 when he struck out the first nine Holy Cross batters in a game. White signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1901. He was among the rare players to move from the amateurs to the Majors, skipping the Minor Leagues. After just two seasons with the Phillies, White jumped to the Chicago White Stockings of the new American League. He remained with Chicago for 11 seasons, retiring in 1913. 

In 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (1901-1902) and Chicago White Stockings (1903-1913), Doc White put together an impressive career. He pitched in 427 Games, making 363 Starts, throwing 262 Complete Games, including 45 Shutouts, pitching 3,041 Innings, allowing 2,738 Hits, 1,118 Runs, 808 Earned Runs, 33 Home Runs, 670 Walks, 1,384 Strikeouts, posting a 189-156 record, 2.39 ERA, 1.121 WHIP, and 113 ERA+. While White was not a Hall of Fame pitcher, he did help build the new American League into a serious rival of the National League. 

Doc White of the Chicago White Sox, throwing at South Side Park, Chicago, Illinois in 1909. (Photo by Chicago Sun-Times/Chicago Daily News collection/Chicago History Museum/Getty Images)

White’s best season on the mound was 1906. He pitched in 28 Games for Chicago, making 24 Starts, throwing 20 Complete Games, including 7 Shutouts, pitching 219.1 Innings, allowing 160 Hits, 47 Runs, 37 Earned Runs, 2 Home Runs, 38 Walks, 95 Strikeouts, posting a 18-6 record, 1.52 ERA, 0.903 WHIP, and 167 ERA+. He led the American League in ERA, WHIP, and ERA+. White helped the White Sox win the 1906 World Series. The Hitless Wonders needed him to pitch three times to claim the championship against the crosstown Cubs. In 3 Games White made 2 Starts, throwing 1 Complete Game, pitching 15 Innings, allowing 12 Hits, 7 Runs, 3 Earned Runs, 7 Walks, 4 Strikeouts, posting a 1-1 record, 1.80 ERA, and 1.267 WHIP. He pitched Game 2, losing 7-1, pitching 3 Innings, allowing 4 Runs, but 0 Earned Runs. In Game 5 he came on in relief of Ed Walsh for the final 3 Innings to nail down a 8-6 victory. White returned to the mound in Game 6, throwing a Complete Game, allowing 3 Earned Runs to beat Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown and clinch the World Series. 

So many great players fade with time, but White’s legacy lived on thanks to Don Drysdale. In 1968 the Dodger pitcher surpassed White’s record of 5 consecutive Shutouts. White congratulated Drysdale on his accomplishment via telegram. Baseball’s long history ensures the legends of the game are not lost to history.

Go, go, go, Maury, go. Dodger fans went wild anytime Maury Wills reached base. Everyone knew he was going to steal. Wills was called up to the Majors thanks to Don Zimmer breaking his toe. Arriving in Los Angeles at 26 years old, the speedster still enjoyed a long career. He played 14 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers (1959-1966, 1969-1972), Pittsburgh Pirates (1967-1968), and Montreal Expos (1969). The Switch Hitting Shortstop made the most of his opportunities.

Wills was never shy about running. In 1,942 career Games he collected 2,134 Hits, 177 Doubles, 71 Triples, 20 Home Runs, 458 RBI, 1,067 Runs scored, 586 Stolen Bases, 552 Walks, 684 Strikeouts, .281 BA, .330 OBP, .331 SLG, .661 OPS, and 88 OPS+. Wills was elected to seven All Star games, won two Gold Gloves, and won three World Series. In the Fall Classic, he played in 21 Games, collected 19 Hits, 3 Doubles, 4 RBI, 6 Runs scored, 6 Stolen Bases, 5 Walks, 12 Strikeouts, .244 BA, .289 OBP, .282 SLG, and .571 OPS. Wills did not play his best in the World Series, but he played a critical part in the Dodgers winning each National League pennant. 

Maury Wills steals yet another base. (www.truebluela.com)

Unquestionably, 1962 was the best season of Wills’ career. He played in a record 165 Games thanks to a three game playoff series with the Giants to decide the National League pennant. Wills collected 208 Hits, 13 Doubles, 10 Triples, 6 Home Runs, 48 RBI, 130 Runs scored, 104 Stolen Bases, 13 Caught Stealing, 51 Walks, 57 Strikeouts, .299 BA, .347 OBP, .373 SLG, .720 OPS, and 99 OPS+. He led the National League in Games, Plate Appearances, At Bats, Triples, Stolen Bases, and Caught Stealing. Wills broke Ty Cobb’s single season record of 96 Stolen Bases. Commissioner Ford Frick said the record would only count if Wills achieved 97 Stolen Bases in 156 Games, the season length during Cobb’s career. Wills did break the record within the Commissioner’s guidelines and then added on a few more for good measure. Wills was named to both All Star games in 1962, winning the very first All Star MVP award in the first game. After the season, Wills won another MVP award, the National League MVP. 

Wills bounced around in the latter half of his career, but remains one of the great players in baseball history. He appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot for all 15 years of eligibility, never reaching the necessary 75% of votes for induction, topping out at 40.6%. Not every player is a Hall of Famer, but it does not mean they do not leave a lasting legacy. 

If one of the Hall of Fame committees inducts Wills, he would become the first Hall of Famer born in the District of Columbia. Leaving the home of the American government, the United States of Baseball heads south to one of baseball’s great talent hotbeds. We are off to the Sunshine State, Florida is next. 

DJ

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.

DJ

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.

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

United States of Baseball- Arkansas

Arkansas’ natural beauty is often overlooked. From the Ozarks to the banks of the Mississippi River the Natural State has plenty to offer. The state has also produced 159 Major League players. They have achieved varying degrees of success on the diamond, but two players reign supreme. Dizzy Dean is the greatest Arkansas born pitcher and Brooks Robinson is the greatest position player. Dean’s 43.90 career WAR is the 35th highest among pitching state leaders, while Robinson’s 78.38 WAR is the 20th highest among position players. Their combined 122.28 WAR gives Arkansas the 27th highest WAR. 

Born Jay Hanna Dean, Dizzy Dean and his younger brother Paul “Daffy” Dean are the only Major Leaguers from Lucas, Arkansas. Dizzy played 12 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (1930, 1932-1937), Chicago Cubs (1938-1941), and St. Louis Browns (1947). He twice led the National League in Wins, was a four time All Star, won the 1934 National League MVP award and World Series, and was inducted into Cooperstown in 1953. 

Dean’s best season was 1934. He pitched in 50 Games with 33 Starts, throwing 24 Complete Games, 8 Shutouts, in 311.2 Innings, allowed 14 Home Runs, 75 Walks, 195 Strikeouts, with a 30-7 record, 2.66 ERA, 1.165 WHIP, and 159 ERA+. He won the National League MVP award, plus led the league in Wins, Shutouts, and Strikeouts. In the World Series against the Detroit Tigers, he won the first and seventh game, a six Hit Shutout, for the Gashouse Gang. He went 2-1 in 3 Starts, pitching 26.0 Innings, including 2 Complete Games, 1.73 ERA, and 0.962 WHIP.  

Dizzy Dean was a great showman and pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. (AP Photo)

Dean’s career was derailed after a comebacker broke his toe during the 1937 All Star game. He returned too quickly, altering his pitching motion to compensate for the injury. Dean’s effectiveness began declining after he was traded to the Cubs in 1938. He pitched in 317 career Games, Starting 230, throwing 154 Complete Games, 26 Shutouts, in 1,967.1 Innings, with 453 Walks, 1,163 Strikeouts, a 150-83 record, 3.02 ERA, 1.206 WHIP, and 131 ERA+. His final appearance was on September 28, 1947 for the St. Louis Browns. Dean was an announcer for the Browns and complained he could pitch better than the team’s pitchers. On the last day of the season, he proved he was right, pitching 4 Shutout Innings before injuring himself running the bases. A fitting end to a Hall of Fame career

The Human Vacuum created a black hole in Baltimore. The Little Rock native Brooks Robinson played his entire 23 season career with the Orioles, 1955-1977. He was elected to 18 consecutive All Star Games, won 16 consecutive Gold Gloves (1960-1975), helped the Orioles win two World Series, won the 1964 American League MVP, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983.  

Robinson’s best season was 1964. In 163 Games, he collected 194 Hits, 35 Doubles, 3 Triples, 28 Home Runs, 118 RBI, scored 82 Runs, 51 Walks, 64 Strikeouts, .317 BA, .368 OBP, .521 SLG, .889 OPS, and 145 OPS+. Robinson won the American League MVP award and led the league in Games played and RBI. 

If Brooks Robinson could not make the play it was impossible. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Baltimore played in four World Series during Robinson’s career, winning in 1966 and 1970. He played in 39 Postseason Games, collecting 44 Hits, 8 Doubles, 5 Home Runs, 22 RBI, scored 17 Runs, 6 Walks, 9 Strikeouts, .303 BA, .323 OBP, .462 SLG, and .785 OPS. His success in October was a continuation of his success in the Regular Season. 

In 2,896 career Games, Robinson collected 2,848 Hits, 482 Doubles, 68 Triples, 268 Home Runs, 1,357 RBI, scored 1,232 Runs, 860 Walks, 990 Strikeouts, .267 BA, .322 OBP, .401 SLG, .723 OPS, and 105 OPS+. His offensive numbers were good, but were overshadowed by his elite defense at Third Base. In 25,083 Innings, he had 9,196 career Chances, made 2,712 Putouts, 6,220 Assists, 264 Errors, and turned 621 Double Plays. Robinson was an elite fielder, .971 vs .953 lgFld%, with better Range, 3.20 RF9 vs 3.09 lgRF9. The Human Vacuum’s skill with the glove propelled Robinson to finish in the top four for MVP voting five times.

Arkansas has produced excellent baseball players. The Natural State has sent six players to the Hall of Fame. Dean and Robinson are joined in Cooperstown by Lou Brock, Travis Jackson, George Kell, and Arky Vaughan. Elite players come from everywhere, but the United States of Baseball’s next stop is a hot bed. We head west to California next.

DJ