Day 4, The Ken Caminiti Cup

October 2, 2009
A recollection of Baseballs Golden Age, Ken Caminiti

A recollection of Baseball's Golden Age, Ken Caminiti

Here it is, day 4.  It seems the baseball season is almost over.  It’s funny how 162 games can go by so fast.  Well the stats have all been tabulated, but at Blue Duck, you need a certain “Je ne se quois” to take down a major award.  Especially one named after a baseball purist, and straight edge individual like Mr. Ken Caminiti.  The results are in, here are the best ballplayers from the 2009 season.

NL

Can the best player in baseball raise his hand?  Yes Albert, we see you.

Can the best player in baseball raise his hand? Yes Albert, we see you.

Boomer
Albert Pujols

As much as I’d love to name somebody, anybody else MVP, I must continue my Cardinal love and name Pujols the MVP.  He is hands down the best hitter in baseball.  He is one of the most consistent hitter in the league, except his standards are much higher than all others.  Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder can compete in the power categories (HR and RBI), but Pujols hits at least 30 points higher than each of them.  He’s also got 20 more runs on the season than both of them because he’s a smarter baserunner than most people realize.  Add in the OPS of 1.108 and Gold Glove defense at firstbase, and Phat Albert is the obvious MVP choice.

Carebear
Hanley Ramirez

Traded by the Sox for Beckett and Lowell, Id say both teams did well there, very rare in baseball trades.

Traded by the Sox for Beckett and Lowell, I'd say both teams did well there, very rare in baseball trades.

Yes, I know, I’m an idiot.  Pujols is the MVP, but everyone is going to pick him so I didn’t.  Hanley may be the best all around player in the NL right now, though.  That strictly refers to the fact that Hanley has a little speed and plays short.

Hanley is a complete hitter as well.  Hes hitting .341 right now with 24 homers, and 105 rbi’s.  He also has 26 steals.  Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki are really the last of the powerful shortstops that we got so used to in the mid-90’s/early 2000’s (ARod moved to 3b, Nomar broke in half, Tejada aged 7 years in the last 3 seasons, Renteria was never that powerful, and neither was Jeter).

Ramirez also plays a solid shortstop.  Only 10 errors this season make him one of the better guys up the middle especially when you consider his range.

More importantly, though, with the bat, .410 OBP, .952 OPS.  He’s 25 years old.  Gonna hang around a while, and could prevent a Pujols Triple Crown for years to come.

AL

Congrats Joe, tip your hat in honor of your Caminiti award.

Congrats Joe, tip your hat in honor of your Caminiti award.

Boomer
Joe Mauer

With two batting titles already to his name, Joe Mauer added the element of power to his game.  And did he ever, he hit 28 HR, 15 more than his previous career high.  As most hitters hit more homeruns, they sacrifice batting average.  Not Mauer, he hit 20 points over his career high.  He did this all while catching 100 games with Gold Glove defense.  He’s helped carry Minnesota to the final weekend of the season, still fighting for a playoff spot.  When you lead the league in OPS and batting AVG, you’re bound to be in the MVP race.  Adding power and great defense is just the icing on the cake.
Note from Carebear: Despite my sign stealing article, I love Joe Mauer, and I played with the stats a bit today.  Mauer and Pujols are two of four guys in the league with at least 70 walks who have more walks than k’s.  The other two are Todd Helton and Dustin Pedroia.  All Great hitters trying to contend in a category that Ty Cobb and Ted Williams would be proud of, the BB/SO ratio:  Pujols, 1.80. Mauer, 1.16.  Nicely done.

(Boomer’s honorable mention: Derek Jeter

Jeter has put together a great year in his age 35 season.  He’s always been a solid hitter and he had a down year last year, but he bounced back with a  big year.  Girardi put him at leadoff this year, and he responded by hitting .335 with an OBP of  .407 and 30 steals.  He’s also been knocked for his slipping defense recently.  He improved to league average defense this year too.  While a candidate for MVP til mid-August, his numbers don’t neccessarily compare with the Texieras, Cabreras, or Mauers.  But his importance cannot be underestimated.  Maybe this is my lifetime achievement award.  As much as I usually hate players being rewarded for career accomplishments, Jeter is the exception to the rule.  And all this is coming from a Sox fan.  Congrats Jeter, well done.)

Carebear

Miguel Cabrera

I hate to be that guy that just picks differently for the sake of picking differently, but I really just love Miguel Cabrera.  He may be the most underrated player in baseball.  Here’s some food for thought:

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
1057 3985 695 1204 227 21 238 725 504 634 .302 .381 .549
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG
1036 3905 629 1218 252 12 208 751 444 823 .312 .384 .542

Those are Ken Griffey’s numbers(Griffey’s numbers are the top set.) up to the age of 26 compared to Cabrera’s to that same age.  As you can see they are eerily similar.  I am not saying they are the same type of player, but very similar hitters, and that says a lot of Cabrera.

Best Righthanded Hitter in AL.

Best Righthanded Hitter in AL.

This season, the Venezuelan is hitting .329 with 33 HR’s and 101 RBI’s.  He is going to finish the season with 200 hits, and the same OPS as Hanley at .952.  His defense is really not terrible at first base either.  7 errors is not good for a first baseman, but manageable.

Miggy won the quadruple crown for the Tigers this year.  He also led the team in runs, hits, walks, and total bases (by 45).  He was the dominant leader on an otherwise weak offense that could win the AL central.

Cabrera is the best right handed hitter in the American League.

That wraps up our awards for 2009.  Stay Tuned for BlueDuck’s MLB preview and more baseball garbage.  Feel free to look back at the Comeback Player, Closer Award, and Cy Young Award from earlier in the week.  Thanks Baseball-reference.com for the stats.

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Carebear’s Top 5 Modern Pitchers

August 13, 2009

Welcome Back

Pedro Martinez returned to the Major League mound tonight for the first time this season, and for his first start for a legitimate franchise since the Red Sox let him go after the 2004 season.  Pedro’s start got me thinking of the old days when he was all but unhittable.  He showed little glimpses of that briefly tonight, but in his prime, Pedro was something special.

So I started trying to rank him against other modern (guys who have spent the majority of their careers in the 90’s-2000’s) pitchers.  These are my top 5.

Sorry Rocket.

Sorry Rocket.

By the way, to avoid controversy, or a grand jury investigation, I left Roger Clemens off this list.  Probably would’ve been number 3ish anyways, but I never really liked the guy all that much.

Number 5

Johan Santana

2 Cy Youngs, 4 All Star Games, 1 Gold Glove

This guy is very good.  He may have been the big reason the Twins were contenders in the early 2000’s, and if he was part of a better team now, his numbers would be unbelievable.  A career era of 3.10 and a career WHIP at 1.11.  That WHIP is 4th among active players (26th all time), two of the three ahead of him are on this list, the other is Trevor Hoffman.  Not too shabby.

So he doesn’t give up hits, and doesn’t walk anybody, and strikes out a batter every inning.  Tough to hit.  If you looked at his career numbers for era, WHIP, and K/9 you would think he was a closer.  Scariest stat: Born March 13, 1979.

Number 4

Mariano Rivera

Dont let the smile fool you, this man hates baseball bats.

Don't let the smile fool you, this man hates baseball bats.

No Cy Youngs, 10 all star games, 1 WS MVP, 1 ALCS MVP

10 years, and 4 rings Santana’s senior, Rivera has made a career out of one pitch.  I almost put Rivera at number 1 because of that fact.  Everyone knows what is coming and no one has figured him out.  You can argue that he throws a 2 seamer and a little slider from time to time, but you could guess cutter every pitch, get it every pitch, and never hit the thing square.

If Elias sports bureau kept a stat for broken bats it would not even be close.  The fact is, if his cutter moves enough it is virtually swingproof.  There is very little chance of hitting something that moves that drastically from where a hitter last sees it.  It is an angry flat slider (sounds like something off the Chili’s menu).

The stats you ask? Screw saves, Rivera’s WHIP is 3rd all time (1st Active), ERA is first among active players (14th all time), and to give you an idea of guys not being able to square it up, he gives up roughly one homerun every 19 innings (1st among active players).

Number 3

Randy Johnson

Great Pitcher, Fabulous Hairdo

Great Pitcher, Fabulous Hairdo. Looks like someone you'd see on Cops.

5 Cy Youngs, 10 All Star Games, 1 WS MVP

Randy Johnson is a big, ugly, scary, ugly, big lefthander that no one ever liked to face.  In his prime he had the fastball that looked like he was placing in the catcher’s mitt and the slider that a righty could swing through and then get hit in the back leg with.

300 K’s 6 times, 20 wins twice, a ton of innings, and, like Johan, closer numbers when it comes to WHIP (5th active).  He is first all time in K’s per 9 innings at over 10, and for a guy with his power, he has never walked too many guys.  When him and Schilling both pitched for the DBACKs they had two power guys that could go 8 innings everytime out.  Scary.  Too bad he spent so much of his career alone in Seattle.  Poor Randy and Ken Griffey.

His 2002 line:

24 w’s, 5 L’s, 2.32 ERA, 8 CG’s, 4 SHO, 197 H’s in 260 IP, 334 K’s, for a WHIP of 1.03 and 11.6 K’s/9.  All at the young age of 38.  Those are Satchel Paige Numbers if you threw in 9 no hitters, and few good quotes,  “Ain’t no man can avoid being born average, but there ain’t no man got to be common.” -Satch

Satch, best ever?

Satch, best ever?

Number 2

Greg Maddux

4 Cy Youngs, 8 All Star Games, 18 Gold Gloves (just give me one to pawn)

If this was all based on purely statistics, Maddux would probably be a little lower on the list, but as far as pitching goes, Greg was world class.  His Brave’s made a career for Leo Mazzone, who looked like a genius because of him, Smoltzy and Tom Glavine.  Maddux just evolved as he went.  He seemed to know how hitters thought, and always used that against him.  He was the kind of pitcher guys probably saw warm up and got excited then couldn’t understand how they went 0-4 off of him.

3.16 career ERA.  In 1994, he had 16 wins, 1.56 era, and  a WHIP at .896 before the strike.   The next season, 19-2, 1.63 ERA and a nonexistent WHIP of .811.  Mark Lemke and Jeff Blauser probably could’ve left their gloves in the dugout.  He was the best pitcher of the early 90’s and became one of the most consistent pitchers of all time.  He won 15 or more games from 1988 to 2006.  Pretty unbelievable career.

Number 1

Pedro Martinez

3 Cy Youngs, 8 All Star Games

Pedro reminds me of an old school pitcher.  He is almost like the Ken Griffey Jr of pitchers in that he showed us what normal deterioration and aging look like in a non-roided up player.  That says a lot of Randy Johnson, as well who is a freak of nature (an ugly one).

I grew up in the mix in Connecticut.  Its kind of like the baseball Mason-Dixon there.  Yankees and Sox fans get brutal during baseball season because there is no women’s basketball to calm them down.  So when the Yanks-Sox series came on, it got heated.  Pedro was “A #1” douchebag in this period of my life.  He hit everybody on the Yanks, all the time.  He knew he could because he could get anybody out.  So why not drill Jeter in the brain or hit Tino between the numbers?

Speaking of numbers (wow, what a segway), Pedro’s career ERA of 2.91 is 3rd among active pitchers, and has been hurt because of his recent few seasons.  He is first among active pitchers in winning percentage, 3rd all time in k/9 innings, and 6th all time in WHIP (3rd among active behind Hell’s Bells and the Sandman).  Also 3rd among active pitchers in beaning dudes 137 times.

Martinez wanted the ball in big games, and had huge balls in those games.  Too many people will remember Grady Little leaving him in and Hideki Matsui hitting a seed off him, but I think Pedro wouldn’t have it any other way.

Pedro is #1 because he is such a hybrid.  He had the power stuff comparable to a Randy Johnson, about 10 different changeups that Santana will try to live up to, the floaty stuff from time to time that Maddux extended his career with, and the ability to just flat out get guys out that Mo has.

Pedro was, in his prime, the perfect modern pitcher.

I hated this guy for so long.

I hated this guy for so long.