Is Alexander Ovie-rated?

April 30, 2010

After netting only 1 of 24 shots in the deciding three games against the Habs, Ovechkin has to hear from his critics.

After watching the 8th seeded Montreal Canadiens bounce the NHL’s top team in the first round,  the Washington Capitals are stuck home watching the rest of the survivors vie for Lord Stanley’s Cup.  Not only did the Caps have more wins and more points than any other team in the regular season, they were also the most prolific goal scoring team in the league, yet this still wasn’t enough to beat a team who scored six less goals than they allowed this year.  After another playoff let down, we are left to ponder; is Alexander Ovechkin overrated?

While this may seem a preposterous question to ask of someone with so many individual awards, he wouldn’t be the first elite athlete forced to defend himself against a reputation as a playoff letdown.  His personal accolades are well known (NHL ROY, 2 Hart Trophies, 3-time all-star), but he can’t avoid the reality of his team’s playoff finishes.  The past three seasons, Ovechkin has led the Capitals to third, second, and first place finishes in the Eastern Conference regular season.  Yet, they’ve been upset each year, twice in the first round.  While this is a team effort, doesn’t the NHL’s best player bear the brunt of the responsibility?

Take the never-ending comparison of Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, the superstar matchup the NHL loves, for example.  Statistically, Ovie is “better” if you simply look at goals scored and points totals.  But look deeper at their points/game averages, and Sid the Kid is better (he did miss 20+ games in 07-08).  Sid’s been in 2 Cups, winning last year.  Crosby doesn’t have to defend himself because he’s won in the playoffs.  Ovechkin hasn’t. Sure, one could argue that Crosby’s had a great supporting cast, citing Marian Hossa, Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin, not to mention solid goal play by Marc-Andre Fleury.  But that argument loses all merit when looking at what Ovechkin had to work with this year.  Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom were very good this year, and while their goalie play wasn’t fantastic in the playoffs, teams don’t win 54 games by accident.

All of this brings us back to Alexander the Great.  Everyone expects more from their superstar players in the playoffs.  When he showed up to play, the Caps won three games.  But the four losses?  Try one goal and one assist.  That’s not acceptable when the games mean the most.  Washington had a 3-1 series lead, yet let the 8th-seeded Canadiens storm back and take the series, limiting Ovie to 2 pts.  Should he be blamed?

A-Rod's just one superstar who had to face his critics, until he won a championship.

Let’s look at other sports for a comparison.  Alex Rodriguez is one of this generation’s best baseball players.  Before the ’09 playoffs, he had 553 HR and a career .306 average.  Yet he was labeled a choke and overrated by many around the league (Yankee fans included) for his epic playoff failures which included 2 series wins and no pennants in his career.  When he finally performed in the 2009 playoffs, his team won a World Series and the monkey was off his back.  Kobe Bryant ran Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers following a fruitful pairing that produced three titles in their time together.  Once O’Neal was gone, the pressure was on Bryant to show that he could win on his own.  On his first four years alone, he missed the playoffs, then two first-round losses, and a Finals loss, all while piling up individual awards and achievements.  Still, those didn’t matter until Kobe was able to conquer the Orlando Magic in 2009, to win his first championship as the leader of his team.  Finally, consider Peyton Manning’s reputation before winning Super Bowl XLI.  Two MVP awards, unbelievable statistics, superb regular season finishes, yet in nine career playoff games, Manning only had three wins to show for it.  It wasn’t until his Super Bowl win in 2006 that his status as the best could be cemented.  Those are three superstars who had to endure years of questioning whether they were only fantasy superstars and not playoff heroes, until they finally won big in the postseason.  Why should Ovechkin be immune?

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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.


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.



Is A-Rod off the juice?

April 6, 2009

It’s been widely reported that A-Fraud has been rehabbing in Colorado after undergoing hip surgery right before the off-season.  We all know that Colorado is a safe haven for all womanizing athletes with rediculously low standards (see Kobe Bryant -> rapist).  And with A-Rod being dumped by the hideous Madonna and being outed by an aging madame, he did what he had to do, go to Colorado to “rehab”.

I find it hilarious that he is off in CO rehabbing while his team is training in Florida.  Most athletes rehab at their team’s facilities, but the Yankess want as little to do with the self-centered one.  The king of all things A-Rod, he had to get the spotlight back on him.  Most athletes would use this time to disappear to rehab their image as well as their injury.   Not A-Fraud, he had to pose for Details magazine, kissing his reflection and totally gaying-out.  The worst part is that nobody in the nation was surprised that he was flaunting his man-love for himself.

And that brings us to the picture above.  It would look like A-Fraud has been laying off the juice and drinking only water.  Boy he got slim didn’t he?  I dare any of you to say that isn’t him on first glance.  But it’s not, its SI Supermodel Noemie Lenoir who cut her hair recently.  I’m sorry, but I think she is twins with the Yankees third baseman, but she’s the less glamorous Rodriguez of the family.