Tagged: Roger Clemens

2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

The Winning Run will be turning five years old this year, which means we should technically be halfway to receiving an official Hall of Fame vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Instead of waiting until we are voting for real, why not get some Hall of Fame voting practice in to work out the bugs.

There are 34 former players listed on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this year. 15 players are returning to the ballot after receiving at least 5% of the vote during last year’s balloting. There are 19 new players appearing for the first time. Trimming the vote down from 34 players to no more than 10 is not an easy task. Some players are easier to exclude than other but there are about 15 players who demand a hard look and who are not easily removed.

lee-smith-2016-hall-of-fame-ballot
Will Lee Smith finally be elected in his final year on the ballot? (www.si.com)

As I have stated previously, I despise the use of PEDs in baseball and all other sports. Players, like Manny Ramirez, who have tested positive for these banned substances made my job a little easier to cull the list to just 10 players. On my ballot you are removed from consideration when you are suspended. Players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were also quickly removed from my list due to their own PED connections. Yes neither player ever failed a test, but the evidence of their use of PEDs is too great for me to consider their candidacy.

The process of reaching my list of ten players meant looking at players who sustained greatness. Having a few great seasons and a decade of mediocre seasons does not mean you get into Cooperstown. Players also had to have an impact on the game, such as redefining a position or raising a team’s profile. The National Baseball Hall of Fame should only enshrine the best of the best.

X

Jeff Bagwell Jeff Kent

X

Ivan Rodriguez
Casey Blake Derrek Lee Freddy Sanchez
Barry Bonds

X

Edgar Martinez Curt Schilling
Pat Burrell

X

Fred McGriff Gary Sheffield
Orlando Cabrera Melvin Mora

X

Lee Smith
Mike Cameron

X

Mike Mussina Sammy Sosa
Roger Clemens Magglio Ordonez Matt Stairs
J.D. Drew Jorge Posada Jason Varitek

X

Vladimir Guerrero

X

Tim Raines Billy Wagner
Carlos Guillen Manny Ramirez Tim Wakefield

X

Trevor Hoffman Edgar Renteria

X

Larry Walker
Arthur Rhodes

Tim Wakefield would receive an honorary vote this year because we love the knuckleball, the longevity of his career, and he was the topic of the first ever article on The Winning Run.

mlb_g_mcgriff_576
Will Fred McGriff and his 493 home runs make it to Cooperstown? (www.espn.com)

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are the saddest cases concerning Hall of Fame voting and the steroid era. Both players had the talent and skill to be Hall of Famers without the chemical assistance of PEDs. Bonds is truly one of the greatest hitters to ever step into a batter’s box and Clemens is arguably one of the greatest pitchers ever, often compared to Walter Johnson. They would undoubtedly be in Cooperstown now if they had chosen to stay clear of PEDs. They were able to sustain their peaks and lengthen their careers through unnatural means, but at what cost? Players like Sammy Sosa, also on the ballot this year, did not have the talent to ascend to the Hall of Fame without PEDs.

Voting for the Hall of Fame, even if unofficially, is a difficult process. Many players deserve consideration for enshrinement in Cooperstown through their accomplishments on the diamond. The cases for enshrining many players who are not in the Hall of Fame are valid. However, the case that a player elected to the Hall of Fame is undeserving means the bar for gaining election to Cooperstown must remain high. Many players come close, but only the best earn admission into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

DJ

Hall of Fame Class of 2016

Congratulations to Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza on their election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Both players are deserving of this, the greatest honor that a baseball player can have bestowed upon them. While the destination was the same, the path to Cooperstown could not have been more different.

Ken Griffey Jr. is the son of three-time All Star, Ken Griffey Sr.  He was drafted first overall in the 1987 MLB Amateur Draft. Griffey reached the Majors on April 3, 1989, less than two seasons removed from playing in high school. Griffey’s swing was beautiful, pure grace, often imitated but never duplicated. His combination of speed and power seemed to be effortless. The smile of Griffey’s face never waned. Ken Griffey Jr. was the face of baseball for a generation.  He was cool, and he brought swagger to the batter’s box. His love for the game made him loved by his fans and respected by his rivals. Ken Griffey Jr. will be the first player selected with the first pick in the Draft and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Griffey was an almost perfect baseball player, and his 99.3% of votes (the highest of all time) means he was almost the perfect candidate to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Seattle Mariners

Ken Griffey Jr. was nearly the perfect baseball player, his spot in Cooperstown is deserved. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Mike Piazza was and is tough. No player has ever made it to Cooperstown without being tough, but Piazza practically wrote the book on being the toughest. Piazza was drafted in the 62nd round (1,390th overall) of the 1988 MLB Amateur Draft. The Dodgers selected Piazza only after Mike’s father asked his childhood friend Tommy Lasorda to draft Mike as a personal favor. Piazza finally made it to the Majors on September 1, 1992. During his career, Piazza displayed his toughness by catching 1,630 games (13,555 innings); there is nothing easy about playing catcher in the Major Leagues. Piazza had power. His swing was muscle-driven and unique yet it could send a baseball into orbit. He was unwilling to back down from anyone. Even when Roger Clemens sawed Piazza’s bat off then threw the barrel of the bat back by him. The whispers about PEDs use have remained that, just whispers. The moment Piazza stepped on a Major League diamond, he proved that he belonged. For me, that goes a long way towards silencing those whispers. Mike Piazza seized the opportunity to play professional baseball through toughness and hard work. He went from being a draft pick the Dodgers took only to fulfill a personal favor to a Baseball Hall of Famer.

Mike Piazza Swing

Mike Piazza’s toughness took him from the 62nd Round to the way to Cooperstown. (www.espn.go.com)

The National Baseball Hall of Fame will welcome two new members in the summer of 2016.  Their paths to Cooperstown could not be more different, but that is what makes baseball so wonderful. A player whom everyone believed in and a player whom no one believed in can both forge careers then deservingly be enshrined among the greatest players to ever play the game.

Congratulations Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza! Thank you for everything you did on the diamond. Welcome to Cooperstown.

DJ

Down and Dirty

The “slide” by the Dodgers Chase Utley into second base was horrific.  No one but Utley can say with certainty what his intentions were, but from what we saw Utley went in either with cruel intentions or forgot how to slide into second base.  Whatever his intentions were Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada now has a fractured right fibula.

Chase Utley has played 13 seasons in the Majors, he has played 12, 954 ⅔ innings at second base, and turned 902 double plays.  He is not a starry eyed rookie, Utley knows howto play the game.  He knows how a player should and should not try to break up a double play.  What was on display at Dodger Stadium in Game 2 of the National League Divisional Series was grotesque.  Utley knows better, but he injured another player because he did not play the game they way it should be played.   The play was dirty, plain and simple, but why when Chase Utley is generally not seen a dirty player?

Ruben Tejada paid a painful price for Chase Utley's stupidity. (PAUL RODRIGUEZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER - Dodgers vs. Mets in game two of the NLDS.)

Ruben Tejada paid a painful price for Chase Utley’s stupidity. (PAUL RODRIGUEZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER – Dodgers vs. Mets in game two of the NLDS.)

People are going to argue that the play was not dirty, just Utley playing hard like they use to play.  First, it was a dirty play. Second, just because that is how they use to play the game does not mean it is the right way to play.  Utley was on top of second base when he began his“slide”.  Tejada was doing everything he could to protect himself by being behind the bag.  Turning a double play is dangerous for the shortstop or second baseman that has to make the turn.  Tejada used the bag as best he could to shield himself from a clean, hard slide, which was justified.  However, this is not happened.  Tejada had to have his back to Utley to receive the ball from Daniel Murphy, this places him in a compromised position.  As Utley is going in to break up the double play he begins his slide so late that he does not make contact with the ground as part of his slide  until he is past second base.  Beginning his slide so late meant Utley’s body was still high up, potentially too high for Tejada to avoid.  It looks almost like a football player being tackled after an unsuccessful attempt to hurdle the defender.  This is far too late for the play to be safe but hard.  Utley sliding in late with Tejada’s back to him as he begins to turn places the responsibility on Utley to not do anything stupid or dirty so that both players do not get hurt.  Apparently this was too much to ask of Chase Utley as he sees the play developing and goes into second base hard, late, and high.  Utley also goes in with his body wide.  Yes it does appear that he is trying to make contact with the base, in accordance with the rules.  However, “sliding” in wide, late, and high with Tejada’s back to him in this case meant the contact was guaranteed.  This is where a play turns both dirty and dangerous.  The best case scenario for Tejada to be violently flipped by Utley, and even then the play would have been dirty.  The reality though is much worse.  Tejada was defenseless and paid the price for Utley’s inability to understand that his attempt to break up the double play in this manner was foolish and dangerous.  Utley’s stupidity, regardless of intent, has resulted in Tejada having a broken leg and Utley receiving a knee to the head, likely a mild concussion or at least having his bell rung.  The Mets lose their starting shortstop and the Dodgers might lose a backup second baseman.  There was no need for Utley to take out Tejada.  It was a stupid play.

After the game ended with the Dodgers evening up the NLDS at one game each, MLB Network begins breaking down the game as a whole and debating whether the play was dirty or not.  Eric Byrnes adamantly argued that the play was hard, but not dirty, and that this is how players use to break up double plays.  (Brynes has since changed his opinion after seeing the replay more and doing further analysis, which I respect him for doing).  Brynes was a fun player to watch because he brought intensity, grit, and passion to the game everyday.  However, his initial reaction to this situation was wrong.  Just because something has always been done a certain way does not mean that it should continue to be done that way.  (Again Brynes has changed his opinion from his initial reaction, but that initial reaction is held by some people).  Plays like the one Tejada and Utley were involved in have the potential to end careers; severe concussions, destroyed knees, shattered legs.

A play like Ruben Tejada canot be much more defenseles than at this moment as Chase Utley begins is "slide". (www.businessinsider.com)

A play like Ruben Tejada canot be much more defenseles than at this moment as Chase Utley begins is “slide”. (www.businessinsider.com)

Change has never come easy to baseball.  Purist usually argue that changing the game in any way will negatively impact the game as a whole.  Slowly but surely baseball has changed, and usually for the better.  Baseball had always allowed for home plate collisions.  Talk to Buster Posey about his lost season or Ray Fosse about how his career was never the same.  Baseball had allowed the spitball.  Talk to Ray Chapman’s family and see how they felt about it after he was killed by the pitch.  Talk to the countless African-American players who were denied the ability to play in the Majors simply because of their skin color.  Baseball had not drug tested for steroids and other PEDs.  Talk to the families of Taylor Hooton and Rob Garibaldi who testified before Congress in the same hearing with Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, and Jose Canseco.  Taylor was 17 and Rob was 24 when they committed suicide due to their steroid use.  Baseball is continuously changing.  Obviously some of the changes it has undergone are far more important and far reaching than others.  However, the notion that continuing to do something simply because it is the way it has always been done is absurd, especially if there is a different way to achieve the same end goal while reducing the danger to the players, to individuals who look up to the players, or to end injustice.

Chase Utley is not who usually comes to mind as being a dirty player, but what he did in Game 2 was a dirty play.  Trying to break up a double play during a playoff game is good, hard baseball.  However, what Utley did with his extremely late “slide” was to unnecessarily injure an opposing player and change the series.  There are only two times in baseball that it should ever look like one player is tackling another: when a fight has broken out and players are trying to restrain one another and when a team is celebrating a win and the team is chasing the player who got the game winning hit.  That is it.  Chase Utley took out Ruben Tejada on a dirty “slide”.

Baseball changed its rules about spitballs and making the ball dirty after Ray Chapman was killed after being hit with a pitch. Some injuries can and should be avoided. (www.didthetribewinlastnight.com)

Baseball changed its rules about spitballs and making the ball dirty after Ray Chapman was killed after being hit with a pitch. Some injuries can and should be avoided. (www.didthetribewinlastnight.com)

If people who want to defend what Chase Utley want to talk about how his play is just how baseball is and should be played, then they also need to talk about something else.  Regardless if it is in the NLDS or next season there will be a purpose pitch delivered.  That is just how baseball is.  It could this year before Utley’s appeal is heard.  It could come next year when the two teams play each other.  Somewhere down the line a purpose pitch will be delivered by the Mets to the Dodgers expressing their anger at this dirty “slide” by Chase Utley.  Hopefully the batter on the receiving end of that pitch will be Utley himself and not one of his teammates.  Noone should not have to get hit by a pitch for this.  It was Utley’s stupidity, he should have to answer for it.  Baseball players have always dealt with this sort of thing themselves, and in this case Eric Brynes and others are correct that some things in baseball do not need to change.  This is how baseball has always policed itself, and this is how baseball should generally continue to police itself.  A player does something stupid, let him take the punishment for it.

Major League Baseball acted quickly to suspend Utley.  Too bad the suspension is not long enough.  He should be suspended for more than just two game, conveniently he would have missed the games in New York had he not appealed.  Two games is what you should get suspended for arguing for too long with an umpire about a bad call, not for taking out an opposing player.  Utley and the Dodgers should feel the pain he inflicted on the Mets.  Appealing his suspension is Utley’s right, but it would be shameful if it were to be reduced.  Those on Utley’s side are arguing that he has gone in to break up double plays like this before without receiving a suspension.  While this is true, it does not make it right.  Fortunately, Utley has not injured anyone seriously before.  Even Tejada has been on the receiving end of one of Utley’s “slides”, and he was able to walk away.  The “slide” during Game 2 was the most egregious of Utley’s questionable slides, and it clearly went from trying to break up the double play to taking out an opposing player.  Again we will never know what Utley’s intentions were when he went into second, but ultimately his intentions do not matter.  Utley made a boneheaded and dirty play.

At come pint Chase Utley will have to face the truth about what he has done, and it is going to be painful. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

At come pint Chase Utley will have to face the truth about what he has done, and it is going to be painful. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

There is nothing wrong with playing hard and trying to break up a double play, especially in the playoffs.  There is however a line between playing baseball hard and playing dirty.  Chase Utley flew over that line when he took out Ruben Tejada with his absurdly late slide during Game 2.  Go in hard, make the middle infielder jump to avoid you, make the throw to first a little more difficult and take some of the juice off the throw.  There is nothing wrong with this.  What is wrong is when you slide in late, wide, and high against a middle infielder who has his back turned toward you.  Ruben Tejada was trying to make a play.  He used second base to protect himself, but Chase Utley took him out with simply a dirty “slide” that resulted in a broken leg and the Mets losing Tejada for the rest of the playoffs.

The NLDS has been changed, and not for the better.  Instead of talking about the series being tied at a game each, all the talk is about the injury to Tejada and whether the analysis think the play was dirty.  This is not good for baseball.  Instead of celebrating the game and the playoffs we are arguing whether the play was dirty.  What a shame that a fairly ordinary play has turned into a season ending injury for one player and a debate about whether the play and player are dirty.  You were better than this Chase Utley, what changed?

DJ

The Return

The New York Yankees signed Chase Headley to a 4 year contract worth $52 million.  This solidifies the Yankees at third through 2018.  When the deal was announced, ESPN’s Buster Olney made the observation that this meant the Yankees did not have an everyday role for Alex Rodriguez.  The 2015 Yankees would have a lineup of CF Jacoby Ellsbury, LF Brett Gardner, 2B Martin Prado, 3B Chase Headley, DH Carlos Beltran, C Brian McCann, 1B Mark Teixeira, RF Chris Young, SS Didi Gregorius.

Notice anyone missing from the Yankee lineup?  What about Alex Rodriguez?  Where will Rodriguez fit into the Yankees plans for 2015 and beyond?  At this point in his career, Rodriguez has three options as far as playing.  He can continue at third, move to first, or be the DH.

Does he have any range? (www.sportsworldreport.com

Does he have any range? (www.sportsworldreport.com

At third, Rodriguez will most likely serve as the backup for Headley.  As a switch hitter, Headley will not yield at bats to Rodriguez based upon match ups.  However, even if Headley were to get hurt or needs a day off, the Yankees could have moved Prado from second to third to keep the defense in the infield solid and give some time at second to young Jose Pirela.  Prado’s trade to the Marlins means Pirela or Brendan Ryan will be at second.  I believe the Yankees should put Pirela at second and have Ryan as the infield back up.  The Yankees need some sort of youth movement if they are to continue playing competitively moving forward.  Honestly, as Rodriguez approaches his 40-year-old season, after a year away from the game, and the preceding year cut short by yet another hip injury, it is doubtful Rodriguez still has the range to play an average third base defensively.  Third seems does not look like a home, even temporarily, for Rodriguez.

At first base, Rodriguez would either be the backup to Mark Teixeira or platoon with him.  I would vote to avoid the platoon.  When healthy, Teixeira is a major asset to the Yankees and their success.  A potential hindrance for Rodriguez at first could be if the Yankees try to begin transitioning Brian McCann from behind the plate to first, which they should.  Teixeira only has two years remaining on his contract, so the Yankees will have to begin the process of finding his replacement either from their system, through trade or free agency, or from their roster.  The Yankees need the most from their investment in McCann and continuing to catch will reduce his playing time and effectiveness.  As a lefty, McCann’s power to the right field porch should give him an edge over Rodriguez.  Again, Rodriguez’s hips and age, plus the move to a new position could greatly hinder his ability to play an average first base defensively.

Is his speed completely gone? (www.chatsports.com)

Is his speed completely gone? (www.chatsports.com)

As the DH, Rodriguez is facing some stiff competition.  Carlos Beltran seems to be the preferred DH for the Yankees.  Beltran is a switch hitter, this he will not be pinch hit for due to matchups late in games.  Even when Beltran plays the outfield to give Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, or Chris Young a day off this does not mean there is an opening at DH.  Any of these outfielders could be the DH instead of Beltran.  Additionally, when Beltran needs a day off, McCann could DH, so could Teixeira, and Headley. Rodriguez has to six players to jump over to claim at bats as the DH.  Strangely, this is his best option for at bats.

These three positions do not leave Rodriguez many opportunities to play every day.  At this point in his career the likelihood of Rodriguez’s health allows him to play every day are growing smaller and smaller.  He has essentially missed the past two seasons; it may be difficult for Rodriguez to rebound.  He played 44 games in 2013 due to injury and served a suspension for all of the 2014 season.  In addition to the aches and pains of entering his 40-year-old season, Rodriguez has undergone multiple hip surgeries.  This has hampered his speed, range, and his ability to stay on the field.  Rodriguez is showing his age and the impact of 20 seasons in Major League Baseball.

Rodriguez is not the same player he once was before his troubles with his hip, a PED suspension, and his popularity taking a nosedive.  He has not hit above .276 since 2009.  Rodriguez has played an average of 110 games a season since 2008, without playing more than 138 in any season, excluding his suspension for all of 2014.  During his last three seasons played (2011-2013), Rodriguez has no more than 18 home runs and 62 RBIs in a season.  His Offensive WAR has gone down every year since 2007, from a high of 9.5 to 0.8.  Only once since 2005 has Rodriguez been above a 1.0 Defensive WAR, with four of those seasons being in the negative.  He has only been over a 2.0 Defensive WAR once, in 2000 at 2.3.  Clearly, his skills have deteriorated.

Stating the obvious about Alex Rodriguez. (www.komonews.com)

Stating the obvious about Alex Rodriguez. (www.komonews.com)

Alex Rodriguez was once one of the best players in all of Major League Baseball.  However, growing older, injuries, PED use and suspension, and becoming the face of what is wrong with the game have left Rodriguez as a tired act.  He is in the swan song of his career, and he has becoming the most polarizing figure in the game.  Rodriguez is approaching some of the most hallowed numbers in the sport, which should create a buzz about the 2015 season.  Instead, his march into history pains those who love this game.  He sits 61 hits shy of 3,000.  He is 6 home runs away from tying Willie Mays, 60 away from Babe Ruth, and 101 away from Hank Aaron.  He currently has a career batting average of .299, if he has one more good year at the plate he could assure himself a .300 career batting average.  He is 81 runs short of scoring 2,000 for his career.  He is 31 RBI short of 2,000 for his career.  All of these statistics place Rodriguez in the upper echelon of baseball history, but primarily through his own doing, many in baseball simply want him to go away.

Alex Rodriguez has served his time.  Regardless if you think he should have gotten more or less time, or wish he had received a permanent ban from the game, Rodriguez will not be the last player to cut corners to gain an advantage over his competition.  Hopefully, Rodriguez will be the final chapter of the Steroid era on the field.  Rodriguez is a sad figure, much in the same way Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have become.  These players had Hall of Fame caliber talent, but they tried to hang on to their skills through various forms of cheating, and in so doing so they have ruined their legacies.  Alex Rodriguez has earned more than $356 million, and unless he and the Yankees can reach an agreement to part ways, his earnings will surpass $400 million, which is the most career earnings in baseball history.  Derek Jeter earned $265 million, the second highest career earnings in baseball history, the difference in the legacies of Rodriguez and Jeter are night and day.  Will the extra $100 to $150 million Rodriguez will earn be worth it?

The return of Alex Rodriguez will soon be upon us, whether we like it or not.  There does not seem to be many at bats awaiting him with the Yankees as he attempts to chase down some of the biggest names in baseball history.  Does Rodriguez belong in the same conversation as the greats like Mays, Ruth, Aaron, Clemente, Gehrig, Williams?  Statistically yes.  On the field he has proven for 20 seasons he has Hall of Fame caliber skills and can do it all with the bat.  No player ever accidentally amasses the sort of numbers he has collected.

Alex Rodriguez will most likely live on the bench this season. (www.sportingnews.com)

Alex Rodriguez will most likely live on the bench this season. (www.sportingnews.com)

Does Rodriguez belong alongside these Hall of Famers in terms of class?  Not even close.  He has cheated multiple times, and continues to play the victim.  You can argue he is no better than Mays and his reported use of amphetamines, but what makes Rodriguez different is the amphetamines do not alter your abilities, steroids do.  He admitted to using PEDs from 2001 through 2003.  While we can debate whether one believes that after 2003 Rodriguez discontinued his use of PEDs, what is not up for debate is his admission to using them during these three seasons.  These also, consequently were the most prolific three year span of his career.  In 2010, Rodriguez was connected to Canadian doctor Anthony Galea, who at best has a checkered past with the law enforcement for providing and administering PEDs to elite athletes.  The latest run in for Rodriguez has been through his association with Biogenesis and Anthony Bosch.  While Rodriguez never failed a drug test, Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rodriguez for 211 games, later reduced to the 2014 season.  Major League Baseball suspended Rodriguez:

“for use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances…over the course of multiple years” and “for attempting to cover-up his violations of the Program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate the Office of the Commissioner’s investigation.”

The crime gets you in trouble; the cover up is what tears you down.  Rodriguez later admitted to the Drug Enforcement Administration that he had indeed used PEDs.  Rodriguez has a pattern of cheating, even after the installation of the Major League Baseball Drug Policy.  Everyone makes mistakes, however Rodriguez does not seem to have learned from his mistakes.

It seems three strikes does not mean Alex Rodriguez is out.  He has three seasons remaining on his contract with the Yankees.  He has become so toxic within baseball, and outside of baseball, that after the 2017 season his career with baseball as a whole is almost certainly over.  Unless the Yankees can work out a deal with Rodriguez to buy out the remainder of his contract, or his hips force his retirement, it is unlikely he will leave before his contract is up.  Alex Rodriguez is a survivor, through it all he continues to come back for more.  What a shame that this sort of resiliency is wasted on Rodriguez.  There are so many great people in and around baseball; unfortunately, Rodriguez has the ability to survive regardless of the damage he does to the game.  He takes the headline away from the people and events, which make baseball the great sport it is.

D

King’s Ransom

As the off season rolls along, discussions between teams and free agents are starting to heat up. The bigger names will start to fall in place now that a certain Second Baseman, who played in the Bronx last year is off the market.  Robinson Cano’s contract with the Seattle Mariners has signed the third largest contract ever, tied with Albert Pujols. Both contracts are for 10 years and $240 million. Not quite what he wanted, as Robinson Cano was seeking a contract worth $310 million over 10 years. To put that into perspective, the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu had a GDP in 2010 of $36 million, or $5 million more than Cano was seeking annually While to the average person this is more money than we can imagine being paid, for an elite Major League Baseball player it is not quite the same stretch.

Every year pundits write baseball’s obituary, saying it is a dying sport. If they are right, then why do salaries keep going up, why do sponsors keep spending millions to advertise with Major League Baseball? Dating back to the last Major League Baseball strike in 1994-1995, the yearly salary for the highest paid player has risen from Barry Bonds’ $7.29 million to Alex Rodriguez‘s $27.5 million. That is a 377% increase in 19 years. I would say that is representative of a sport that has plenty of life.

130214102747-robinson-cano-p1-single-image-cut

So now that I have debunked the idea that baseball is on life support, lets look at whether Robinson Cano is worth, in baseball terms, the $310 million contract he was seeking ($31 million average annually), or even the $240 he will receive ($24 million average annually). Since the start of the 1995 season the following players have had the highest annual salary: Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Albert Belle, Barry Bonds (again), Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, Mo Vaughn, Kevin Brown, Roger Clemens, Carlos Delgado, Alex Rodriguez, and Alex Rodriguez (again).

Excluding the pitchers on the list (Maddux, Martinez, Brown, and Clemens), and comparing Cano’s career to the other highest paid players, this is how Cano stacks up statistically.

The year they signed the contract, and their career stats amassed before signing the contract:

Barry Bonds- 1992, ($7.29 million)

7 seasons, G 1010, R 672, H 984, 2B 220, HR 176, RBI 556, SB 251, BB 611, SO 590, BA .275, OBP .380, SLG .503, OPS .883

Ken Griffey Jr.- 1996, ($8.5 million)

6 seasons, G 845, R 518, H 972, 2B 194, HR 172, RBI 543, SB 88, BB 374, SO 477, BA .306, OBP .379, SLG .541, OPS .920

Albert Belle- 1996, ($11 million)

8 seasons, G 913, R 592, H 1014, 2B 223, HR 242, RBI 751, SB 61, BB 396, SO 622, BA .295, OBP .369, SLG .580, OPS .949

download (1)

Barry Bonds- 1997, ($11.45 million)

11 seasons, G 1583, R 1121, H 1595, 2B 333, HR 334, RBI 993, SB 380, BB 1082, SO 871, BA .288, OBP .404, SLG .548, OPS .952

Mike Piazza- 1998, ($13 million)

7 seasons, G 840, R 511, H 1038, 2B 148, HR 200, RBI 644, SB 11, BB 330, SO 493, BA .333, OBP .396, SLG .575, OPS .972

Mo Vaughn- 1998, ($13.333 million)

8 seasons, G 1046, R 628, H 1165, 2B 199, HR 230, RBI 752, SB 28, BB 519, SO 954, BA .304, OBP .394, SLG .542, OPS .936

images

Carlos Delgado- 2000, ($17 million)

8 seasons, G 829, R 493, H 818, 2B 214, HR 190, RBI 604, SB 5, BB 436, SO 728, BA .282, OBP .383, SLG .557, OPS .940

Alex Rodriguez- 2000, ($25.2 million)

7 seasons, G 790, R 627, H 966, 2B 194, HR 189, RBI 595, SB 133, BB 310, SO 616, BA .309, OBP .374, SLG .561, OPS .934

Alex Rodriguez- 2007, ($27.5 million)

14 seasons, G 1904, R 1501, H 2250, 2B 395, HR 518, RBI 1503, SB 265, BB 915, SO 1524, BA .306, OBP .389, SLG .578, OPS .967

Then we compare these numbers against Robinson Cano:

Robinson Cano- 2013, (wanted $31 million, got $24 million)

9 seasons, G 1374, R 799, H 1649, 2B 375, HR 204, RBI 822, SB 38, BB 350, SO 689, BA .309, OBP .355, SLG .504, OPS .860

Robinson Cano is seen as a slugger who can change a game with one sing of his bat, although perception and reality may be out of alignment. He is well established in Major League Baseball after 9 seasons. The highest paid players in Major League Baseball since the strike in 1994 have all played 8 years or fewer except for Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez when they both signed contracts which made them the highest paid player in baseball for a second time.

download

Examining Cano’s career statistics against the other members of this list at the time they were the highest paid player in Major League Baseball he has scored more Runs than everyone except Bonds* and Rodriguez* (both when they signed their second contract). Only Rodriguez* had more career Hits and more Doubles. Belle, Bonds*, Vaughn, and Rodriguez* had more Home Runs. Bonds* and Rodriguez* had more RBIs. Bonds, Griffey, Belle, Bonds*, Rodriguez, and Rodriguez* had more Stolen Bases. Bonds, Griffey, Belle, Bonds*, Vaughn, Delgado, and Rodriguez* had more Walks. Bonds, Griffey, Belle, Piazza, and Rodriguez had fewer Strikeouts. Only Piazza and Rodriguez had a higher career Batting Average. Everyone had a higher career On Base Percentage. Everyone but Bonds had a higher Slugging Percentage. Everyone had a higher OPS than Cano.

Ultimately I think what Robinson Cano is as a player is a hard hitting Second Baseman who can collect a lot of hits, drive the ball in the the alleys for doubles and hit 20 to 30 home runs a season. It is important to remember that Yankee Stadium is easier to hit home runs in than Safeco Field, so be prepared to see a bit of a drop in Cano’s home run total. He is billed as a slugger, and he approaches his at bats as such. However with two strikes he is smart enough to take what he is given instead of continuing to swing for the fences. Will Cano make a difference for the Seattle Mariners? Yes. Will he be an elite player at the end of this contract? Doubtful. Should Cano, and any other player, make as much money as they can? Absolutely. Cano is an elite player. Is he a future Hall of Famer? He is trending that way but he has work left to do. I believe is initial demand of $310 million was way over his value, and the contract he signed is still high. The Mariners did over pay, but Cano will have a positive impact on Seattle, as they should start to contend in the American League West again soon.

*Second contract (not the asterisk most people feel they should have next to their names)

D

Bets You Should Have Made

The baseball season is already a quarter of the way done.  There have been some things that have surprised us and things that have not.  First, the things that have not been a surprised:

  • The Rangers are dominating the AL West.
  • The Twins are terrible.
  • Ryan Braun getting booed during every road game.
  • Adam Dunn is the clear favorite to lead MLB in strikeouts.
  • The Cubs are already looking towards next year as the year.
  • Jamie Moyer sets some sort of record every time he pitches.
  • Bud Selig is trying to change baseball to make a little more money even though the system works perfectly fine. 5 playoff team? Waiting for the playoffs to be like the NBA and NHL where half the teams get in.
  • Roger Clemens won’t go away.

Now for the surprises:

  • The Yankees and Red Sox are at the bottom of the AL East. Not a complete shock for the Red Sox but definitely the Yankees.
  • The Orioles leading the AL East.
  • The Angels and Albert Pujols have struggled from the beginning.
  • Carlos Ruiz having a break out year for the last place Phillies.
  • Derek Lowe’s resurgence for the Indians. Trailing only Justin Verlander by 0.01 (Verlander 2.14, Lowe 2.15) for the AL lead in ERA.
  • Josh Hamiliton hitting as many homeruns in a single game as Albert Pujols has all season.
  • The Mariners have just as many wins as the Tigers and more wins than the Angels.
  • The Nationals are leading the NL East by 0.5 games despite Jayson Werth being gone for the next couple of months, Bryce Harper learning a tough physics less after hitting himself in the face with his bat, and Brad Lidge being on the DL.

There is still plenty of baseball to be played.  Plenty can change between now and the All-Star Break, much less the end of the season.  What will happen remains a mystery, no one know.  Your guess is as good as mine.

D