Thursday June 26, 2003
NBA Drafty Thoughts
JONES HOMERS OFF BILLY KOCH in 11th TO GIVE TWINS WIN!!! With 1 out in the 11th, Jacque Jones homered to deep right center to give the Twins a 6-5 win. For more thoughts on last night’s game, see below.
Would the Greatest be so Great?
OK, last Friday, I was asked for my thoughts on the following question from Zeus regarding my report on the Greatest Hitters of All-Time:
Yeah, I'd agree with you that Mays was awesome, but I still believe that Williams had the purest swing ever. Man, I wish I could have seen some of those ballplayers with my own eyes. How do you feel they'd fare in today's game? Do you think Mays would have been better for the weight training he could have done? For the personal trainers, personal doctors, personal diet people (dietitions?)? Interesting concept...maybe your next debate on your site?
Would Mantle have been persecuted by the media in today’s society for his womanizing and boozing? Would the Babe have just been a Cecil Fielder - some fat guy who can hit, or would he still dominate the game like never before? (Including his early years as a dominating pitcher) Would he be hitting 100 homers today, instead of 30 and 40 in the dead ball era? Are these interesting questions, or am I just talking out of my @$$???
What I’m going to do is take question by question and throw in my thoughts, as well as a couple examples of e-mails I got from readers on the topic. Just a reminder, the eight players whose statistics were analyzed were Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Joe Dimaggio and Mickey Mantle. Thanks again to all those who took the time to e-mail me your thoughts. So, here we go:
“Yeah, I'd agree with you that Mays was awesome, but I still believe that Williams had the purest swing ever. Man, I wish I could have seen some of those ballplayers with my own eyes.
First, I love seeing the vintage video of games played in black-and-white. That is fun to see. I would love to see them with my own eyes too though, just to get a sense of how good they are.
Well, despite Willie Mays ranking 6th in my study of the 8 best hitters, if I were starting a team, I would still choose Willie Mays. His defense was so much better than those who played in that era. His longevity, along with Aaron’s, were very impressive. And, I’ve seen a lot of swings, and it’s just so strange that left handers always have far sweeter swings than right handed hitters. I can’t explain that at all. Ted Williams swing was perfect. To say his is the purest ever is really hard to dispute. But, there are a lot of very sweet, pure swings.
“How do you feel they'd fare in today's game?”
My opinion is that six of these players would be All-Stars in the current state of major league baseball. Two wouldn’t.
Do you think Mays would have been better for the weight training he could have done? For the personal trainers, personal doctors, personal diet people (dietitions?)?
I absolutely agree that Willie Mays would have been as good with the advantage of weight training, special diets, etc. But, I think that the biggest difference between today’s players and the players before the 1970s is the money. Current ballplayers average over $2 million annually. They can afford to not work, and to dedicate their entire off-season to working out, eating right, getting in even better shape, and working on their baseball skills. That, to me is the biggest reason for the ‘arguably’ better condition and in my opinion, better baseball.
Would Mantle have been persecuted by the media in today’s society for his womanizing and boozing?
Absolutely! Is there really any doubt about this? That is, of course, if it is any worse than some current players. Derek Jeter got some trouble for this during the past off-season, and from books and well, Mantle’s admissions, I’m thinking Mantle’s actions were far more gratuitous! Also, from the movie *61, Whitey Ford and others paid off people so they wouldn’t tell the media… and they didn’t. First, do you know how much money it would take these days for a New Yorker to keep quiet? AND, who’s to say they wouldn’t get more from the New York media and end up telling all and pocketing the rest!
Would the Babe have just been a Cecil Fielder - some fat guy who can hit, or would he still dominate the game like never before? (Including his early years as a dominating pitcher) Would he be hitting 100 homers today, instead of 30 and 40 in the dead ball era?
There are two opinions on this matter and I’d like to comment on both sides of that. First, I got an e-mail from FJM. He not only stated his point, but backed it up well with numbers. Some of the numbers that you’ll find in my All-Time Greatest Hitters document. He writes:
“Would Babe Ruth be among today's greatest hitters if he were alive today? Probably not, since he'd be 108 years old! Seriously, the answer is an emphatic "Yes". No one ever dominated his era like the Bambino. Consider this: from 1919 through 1931 he led the American League in Adjusted OPS+ every single year except 1925, when he was injured. That's 12 out of 13 years. To put that in perspective, Barry Bonds has led his league only 7 times out of the last 13 years. That said, Ruth would not be anywhere near as dominant today. He didn't have to compete against the Barry Bondses of his day, except occasionally in exhibition games. They were all in those other leagues.”
First, you’ve gotta love baseball humor… 108 years old! Ha! A day later, he wrote back with the following:
“P.S. One more observation on the Babe. His CAREER OPS+ was 207, meaning he was more than twice as productive as the average player of his era. How great is that? Well, in the entire 20th century only 10 men scored that high in a SINGLE SEASON. 5 of them did it only once (Cobb 1917, McCovey 1969, Frank Thomas & Jeff Bagwell 1994, McGwire 1998). 4 of those 5 should probably get an asterisk, since 1969 and 1998 were both expansion years and 1994 was strike-shortened. Meanwhile, Gehrig did it twice, Hornsby 3 times and Williams 4. Oh, and then there's Mr. Ruth himself; he beat his own career mark a whopping 10 times! (All figures courtesy of Baseball Reference.com)”
To summarize his thoughts, FJM is basically saying that Babe Ruth was so dominant in his era, that he would still be a great player today.
I happen to agree with this. He would be a solid player today. I would compare him to Cecil Fielder, John Kruk, or even Kent Hrbek. All very solid players who enjoyed successful years. Just reading and hearing so much about Ruth, I don’t think he would have been one to partake in an off-season workout or deitary regiment, so I don’t think he would have been as dominant in today’s game, and I don’t think he would have enjoyed a very long career.
Another point, he really didn’t play against all of the best players. That didn’t happen until Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby broke down the color barrier in Major League baseball. Ruth’s numbers may not have been as good already if that weren’t the case.
But, even without the race factor, I think that there is something to be said about today’s hitters. Sure, pitching may be overall “watered-down” as there are simply more pitchers under major league contracts. However, pitchers back then pitched complete games most of the time. I’m sorry if it goes against traditional thinking, but even a top-notch pitcher generally isn’t the same pitcher in the 7th-8th-9th innings as they are in the first six innings. Now, a new 96 mile per hour flame-thrower or someone with a specialty pitch comes in. So a batter has to face two to four pitchers in a nine inning game, rather than just one.
And, maybe the most important point to make about Babe Ruth in my argument that he wouldn’t have been as great in the current era is this: He would be a pitcher. Pitching is what generally wins. If Babe Ruth was such a good pitcher, he would never have been brought up as an outfielder. With the rare exception, for instance, Milwaukee’s Brooks Kieshnick, there aren’t two-way players any more. So, who knows? He may not have even been given a shot at hitting! So, maybe the comparison should be to David Wells rather than Cecil Fielder?
Are these interesting questions, or am I just talking out of my @$$???
I think they’re very interesting questions. Discussing baseball is always interesting, and maybe even controversial, but that’s fun! How about this one? I don’t think Ty Cobb would be able to play today. The reason - I don’t really believe that the game was even played the same way as today previous to the 1920s. I don’t think hits and errors were recorded the same way as they are now. I don’t think pitchers tried to fool hitters. I think it was pretty much just throw it to the plate and let them hit it. Why do I think that? How else do you explain the games pitched, wins and losses and innings pitched of guys like Cy Young and Walter Johnson. There’s no way that they could have pitched for as long as they did if they threw hard, or threw curveballs with any spin.
This is a discussion that really probably has no absolute right or wrong answer. That’s what makes it fun. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading some of these thoughts. If you have any other questions or comments or ideas for topics, please e-mail me and let me know!
Joe Mays was perfect through the first three innings, then was rocked for 5 runs in 1/3 of the 4th inning, the big blow being the Jose Valentin’s 3-run homer. How perfectly does that performance illustrate Joe Mays the last couple of seasons. Glimpses that he must be close to regaining his 2001 form, yet something happens and he gives up a bunch of runs.
Jacque Jones’ aggressive hitting paid off tonight, at least in the 6th inning. Tough left-handed reliever Damaso Marte was brought in to face Jones with runners on first and second. Jones hit the first pitch hard up the middle for a double, scoring two runs to tie the game at 5! Then, his solo home run with one out in the 11th won the game! It was Jones’s 10th homer of the season!
I think both Juan Rincon and Johan Santana deserve a lot of credit for their performances last night! LaTroy Hawkins again did the job and even Eddie Guardado threw a perfect 11th inning to record the win.
NBA Drafty Thoughts
Well, I think that there are a few big stories with the NBA draft, some on a bigger scale, and some just from a local perspective. So, here they are:
1.) The top three picks are a given. The Cleveland Cavaliers will take Lebron James with the #1 pick. The Detroit Pistons will take Darko Milicic will take with the second selection. And, the Denver Nuggets will draft Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony with the 3 pick.
2.) After that, who knows?! The 4th pick could be Chris Bosh or could be traded. The Heat could take Kansas point guard Kirk Hinrich or Texas’ TJ Ford with the 5th pick. Anything could happen! It really makes watching the draft exciting.
3.) There will be a lot of international players taken in the draft! Most of them, you’ve probably never heard of. And, the odds are, they’re better than most of the college players from US colleges, at least fundamentally!
4.) The early entry dilemma - When should a player go pro? After high school? After 1, 2 or 3 years of college?
a.) The obvious Minnesota connection to this question is Gophers (and Duluth East’s) Rick Rickert. He came out after his sophomore season. When he announced that he was putting his name into the draft, it was the smart thing to do. At that time, he was ranked somewhere between 15th and 20th. However, as more and more players entered the draft, some were ranked ahead of Rickert. Then the big thing that hurt Rickert was all of the international players that made themselves eligible for the draft. As those players were seen and worked out for NBA teams, they impressed, while Rickert showed himself to be a ‘tweener. Two slow to play the 3, not big or strong enough to play the 4. Instead of being a mid-to-late first round pick, he will maybe be a very late first round pick and likely will be taken in the early-to-mid second round. My opinion on this is always, if you’re a sure-fire lottery pick, enter the draft. Why not!? As former Texas Rangers teenage pitcher David Clyde (who 30 years ago went right from high school to the big leagues) recently said, “A million dollars can pay for a lot of education.” That said, Rickert had to have been told he wasn’t going to be even a sure-fire first round pick, so he shouldn’t have signed with an agent, and he should have gone back to the University of Minnesota and teamed with Kris Humphreys for a year before both of them entered the NBA Draft next season. If Rickert had come out after his freshman year, he likely would have been a mid-first round pick, maybe even a lottery pick. But, the more college ball he played, the more his weaknesses were brought out.
b.) Former Holy Angels point guard, Troy Bell - Played 4 years at Boston College. His sophomore year, he was the Big East player of the year. Had he come out at that time, he would have been a first round pick. He came back for his junior year, and had an off year (by his standards). So, he went back to BC for his senior year, where he again performed very well. However, due to his size, he was considered maybe a 2nd round pick. However, he had great workouts with teams, and did well at pre-draft camps, and really got himself to be a possible end of the first round pick!
c.) Another Gopher, Jerry Holman has really impressed a lot of scouts and teams with his individual workouts for those teams. He has gone from having no NBA chance to possibly being a mid-to-late 2nd rounder.
5.) The small-college guy from the University of North Dakota, Jerome Beasley. An athletic 6-10 wingman, his only downfall seems to be the Division II level of competition he has played against the last 2 years. Well, he wasn’t really recruited to any D1 schools out of Community College, so UND was the place for him. He made the best of that opportunity! Will he follow in former UND player Phil Jackson’s shoes into the NBA? Will he, like former Division III Augsburg star and current LA Laker, Devean George, find his way into the guaranteed million dollar deal as a first round pick? George is the only Division III guy in the NBA, but there are eight Division II players today. (Name - College - Current Team)
a.) Scottie Pippen - Central Arkansas - Portland Trailblazers
b.) Eddie Robinson - Central Oklahoma - Chicago Bulls
c.) Darrell Armstrong - Fayetteville St. - Orlando Magic
d.) Ronald Murray - Shaw - Seattle Supersonics
e.) Charles Oakley - Virginia Union - Washington Wizards
f.) Ben Wallace - Virginia Union - Detroit Pistons
g.) Moochie Norris - West Florida - Houston Rockets
h.) Junior Harrington - Wingate - Denver Nuggets.
6.) And, finally, who will the Wolves take? Well, for the best advice on the what the Wolves should do, please check out this link to the Wolves Geek! He’s written 3 articles on the draft with the Wolves specifically in mind. After reading that, I really hope that the Wolves take Argentina native Leandrinho Barbosa.
Well, I will be out of town Thursday night through Sunday, so I will try to enter something tomorrow, but if not, please check back on Monday for some new material!!
Back to Archives Home