Tuesday, November 9, 2004
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
ALL-TIME TOP 100s: First Base
Good Tuesday morning! I should start by saying that I had a nice three-day weekend and was out of town until late last night. The extra day off is always nice and seemingly always needed! The only tough part is coming back to work on that fourth day.
First things first, I have to point out what I would consider the most impressive stat line of the weekend. It comes from a Division III football game on Saturday. Gustavus 40, Carleton 27. OK, now first I have to admit a little nepotism, the stat line of the weekend happens to have been put in by my cousin, Isaac Sieling, a senior linebacker for the Gusties, but just check out these numbers and you decide if it deserves mention. On the game, he had 17 tackles (which increased his D III leading total to 148, a Gustavus single-season record). He also had 3 sacks (resulting in 19 lost yards). He recovered a fumble and also intercepted a pass and returned it 30 yards. Now, I need everyone to click here and check out the "What do You Think?" question, which is "What was the biggest story of the 2004 Fall Athletic Season?" One option is "Isaac Sieling leading the nation in tackles." Let's see if we can help him win that!! Here are a couple of more articles. First from College Sporting News. Also, from the MIAC, which named him the defensive player of the week.
Next up, yesterday, Bobby Crosby was named the AL Rookie of the Year and Jason Bay won the NL Rookie of the Year Award. If you take a look back at my postseason award choices, I got both of these two right! Today, the NL Cy Young Award will be named. My choice was Diamondbacks lefty Randy Johnson, but because of his W-L record, the vote could be close with Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt, both of the Astros getting a lot of votes. Jason Schmidt and Jake Peavy also deserve to have their names mentioned!
Today, I am going to touch on just a few topics from football to baseball and maybe more. The main topic will be continuing the All-Time Top 100 series that Justin Ahern researched for us. If you would like some background on the process used to develop this report and ranking, please click here.
If you have any questions for me, or if you have any questions for Justin, please e-mail me, and I will be sure to forward your thoughts to him.
THE FIRST BASEMEN
Here are the Top 100 First Basemen of All-Time. I think that the best part about this is just seeing the rankings and then being able to debate them! I mean, maybe you think so-and-so is ranked too high, or maybe this player is better than this player was. Hopefully you are able to think about some names of players you hadn't for awhile and this is fun!
George H. Burns
The first thing that grabbed my attention after I rated the first basemen was how well the active and recently retired players fared in the ratings. I think that is due in large part to the fact that defense was much more highly valued at the position a long time ago than it is now. Now first base is treated like a DH in the National League while it is used as a second DH in the American League. That wasn't always the case. There were guys who had long careers as regular first basemen who weren't better than league average hitters, but kept their position. That would never happen today. The Twins just got rid of a guy who fits that description. Guys like Hal Chase, Charlie Grimm, Deron Johnson, Joe Pepitone, Wes Parker, Bill Buckner, and Chris Chambliss all were regular starting first basemen for years despite not being good hitters. I don't know why it took managers so long to figure out that a good hit/bad glove first baseman is more valuable than a no hit/slick fielding one. Babe Ruth never played first base. I know that Gehrig was there, but Gehrig had to be a better outfielder than Ruth was in the 1930's. Ruth was a big fat guy who couldn't run by the 1930's yet he never played first. It was understood by at least some managers as many older players who could hit, but could no longer field their positions were moved to first base. Harmon Killebrew, Carl Yastrzemski, and Stan Musial all played first base at the end of their careers. I don't know why managers only used this strategy in cases in which the player is obviously an extremely talented hitter. It may have had as much to do with the contract status of these players as anything. Maybe Musial was making too much money to sit on the bench so the manager had to put him in somewhere. This would be worth studying if somebody were interested.
There were 4 names on this list that really jumped out at me. They were Albert Pujols, Will Clark, Jason Giambi, and Dick Allen. Dick Allen had to have been giving a terrible subjective rating by Bill James when he did his ratings. I think that it was probably deserved since it makes no sense to rank somebody who isn't in the Hall of Fame as one of the top 5 first basemen who have ever lived. He must have been <a jerk> of historic proportion to not get elected into the HOF. I still think that he belongs. Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby were also jerks, but they are in. Will Clark also surprised me. I thought that James had him too high in his book, but I rated him higher than James did. He was a heckuva player from 1988 until 1992. Jason Giambi had a great run with the A's and was great with the Yankees until his illness this year. I didn't think that he was good enough for long enough to get this high on the list, but I was wrong. Albert Pujols has a legitimate chance to go down as the greatest player who has ever played this game. If he can continue doing what he is doing until he is in his late 30's, he will have a career that stacks up with Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, and all of the other great players who have played. A player usually has to play 5 seasons at a high level before you can get a good idea of where he will fit into this list. Pujols has only played 4 and he still looks good. If he plays as well next year as he did this year, he will already be in the top 5 all time. He is a historically great hitter and he's still only 24 years old.
Like Justin, I have to agree that I am almost shocked with some of the names at or near the top of this list. Dick Allen was very good, but #3, at 1B, a hitter's position? Jeff Bagwell has had an absolutely incredible career and continues to produce, but I never would have thought he'd have the numbers to rank 4th all-time! And again, Will Clark was remarkable for a bunch of years, but when you think of a prototypical 1B, you don't think Will Clark.
Another thing I look for is where current players are ranking. There are a few 1B in the top 10, including Bagwell, Frank Thomas and Jason Giambi. Ryan Klesko ranking 40th was shocking! However, the name that surprised me the most on this list was Albert Pujols. He has only been in the big leagues for four years, so to rank as high as he does, even considering that one of the categories is the top FIVE consecutive seasons is amazing. But this ranking tells us just how incredible those first four seasons have been! Also, he has not been injured, so his per-162 numbers are impressive too. Now, if he stays healthy, and stays productive, he will continue to work his way up this list. So far, he has not had a season which would detract from any of his numbers. And, he is the youngest (ahem) player in the rankings!
Another thing that is interesting for me is to look at those old-time names of players that you've only really heard stories about. There are a lot of guys whose names you've heard so frequently, you assume that they were great players (and yes, any of the players on this list are great, but I mean top level all-time), and they end up ranking below current or recent players that you didn't realize were as good as they apparently are. On this list includes Fred Merkle, who is best known for not running all the way to 2B on a "game-winning" single and was ruled out on a fielder's choice (the game ended in a tie). Wally Pipp was, of course, Wally Pipp'd, by Lou Gehrig, who ironically ranks #1 on this list! Eddie Robinson is best known for leading Grambling's football program to LOT of wins. George Burns was best known for his role in the "Oh God, You Devil" movies. OK, those last two aren't really those players, just guys with the same names.
I am surprised the Bill Buckner ranks as low as he does. I mean, he has over 2,700 hits over his 22 year career. Sure, he's known for his error in the '86 World Series, but he was a great player. And he ranks 92nd overall, one behind Derrek Lee.
#11 - Harmon Killebrew (Twins 1961-1974)
#52 - Kent Hrbek (Twins 1981-1994)
#94- Don Mincher (Twins 1961-1966)
#104 - Vic Power (Twins 1962-1964)
#117 - David Ortiz (Twins 1997-2002)
#119 - Doug Mientkiewicz (Twins 1998-2004)
Three of these guys play for the Twins from 1962-1964. Of course, Killebrew played other positions, most frequently 3B, and wasn't particularly good defensively at all of them. Power was great defensively. So, they made it work. Kent Hrbek was really good for a short time.
This is a far stronger position than catcher (no surprise), but it isn't as deep as I thought. I think that there are great players through at least Mo Vaughn (#44), but after that, there are a lot of very good, all-star caliber players. There are a lot of surprises throughout this list, but isn't that really what makes these lists fun? Now we can debate the rankings.
Do you have any thoughts on these first base ratings? Do you have any questions for myself or for Justin Ahern on this ranking or how this was comprised? If you have any thoughts, please e-mail me, and be sure to check back in the coming weeks for the rest of the positions.
WEEK 9 NFL THOUGHTS
VIKINGS - Of course, being from Minnesota, I have to start with the Vikings loss to the Colts. My prediction for the score was 51-31 in favor of the Colts. Well, the Colts won but it was just 31-28. I was actually impressed! The Vikings were in the game the entire time. After falling behind 14-0 early, the Vikings defense actually picked it up. Well, until the fourth quarter when Peyton Manning was remarkable!
For the Vikings, it was good to see Onterrio Smith back (Even though he cost my fantasy team a win!). He power/speed combination is really incredible. He's just a bigger version of Mewelde Moore and a stronger version of Michael Bennett. I thought Daunte was good. I would have liked to have seen him throw more to the WRs, specifically Marcus Robinson, but he took what was available. Jermaine Wiggins caught 5 passes for 63 yards, the same number of receptions that Robinson, Nate Burleson and Kelly Campbell had, combined.
How about Burleson's 91 yards punt return?! He is known as a possession and strength type of receiver, but he showed an impressive burst of speed on that run! Kelly Campbell had a 51 yard kickoff return as well. Now, he is incredibly fast! They now have strong return men, something that can make a huge difference in a game!
I think that Peyton Manning is incredible. I know he struggled at times in previous seasons with play calling in the Colts' no-huddle offense. But this year, he is making it work. He is reading defenses well. He is picking the right receiver. He is using all of his weapons. Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokely have really given him options beyond just Marvin Harrison, and Edgerrin James still is pretty good.
The Colts offense is good, but like the Vikings, Chiefs and Seahawks, their defensive weaknesses could come back to haunt them!
The Vikings lead in the NFC North is down to one game over the Lions and Packers. Next week, the Vikings will take on the Packers in what should be a great game!
The Rest of the NFL -
Are the San Diego Chargers for real? Is Drew Brees really this good? I don't know, but whatever the case, Brees and second-year TE Antonio Gates have something working. In yesterday's 43-17 win over the Saints, Brees threw 4 TD passes, three of them to Gates. After catching just 24 passes all of last season, Gates in Brees' top target with 54 catches for 602 yards and 8 TDs.
Willis McGahee is proving worthy of his lofty first-round pick a year ago. He has now had back-to-back 100 yard games for the Bills. He must be at 100% again because he is not only racking up the yards, but the carries as well. 37 rushes yesterday for 132 yards. One almost has to wonder if that is too many. For anyone. Not just a guy coming off the massive knee injuries McGahee did. What can the Jets do without Chad Pennington? Can Quincy Carter do well with this chance?
Remember way back last year when Carolina almost won the Super Bowl? Yeah, they are absolutely terrible now. But why? The knee injury to Stephen Davis? Steve Smith's broken leg? It's hard to understand how a team can fall this far this fast!
Speaking of bad teams, how bad are the Cowboys? I guess Bill Parcells isn't the genius everyone wants to think he is after all. I mean, it just shows that you still need players too! And, whoever decided that Eddie George and Vinny Testaverde were worth picking up should be fired!!
And the Bengals beat the Cowboys 26-3, but their MVP this year should be K Shayne Graham. Seriously, Carson Palmer hasn't been good. Rudi Johnson hasn't been consistent. Chad Johnson pouts a lot. Graham has been their best player, and that's sad!
The Redskins beat the Lions 17-10. Clinton Portis is racking up a lot of carries and coming through, finally, with a lot of yards. However, he has been unable to get in the end zone. This year, he has just two TDs rushing. So, Sunday, they had him throw a pass to Laverneus Coles for a 15 yard TD. And who made the decision to give Mark Brunell so much money!? He's terrible, and has been for a few years!
Did anyone watch the Cardinals/Dolphins game? I actually flipped it there a few times... not sure why! Both teams are really bad, but it was a very good game. Rookie Larry Fitzgerald came through big-time with a 48 yard reception followed by a 2 yard TD catch that gave the Cardinals the one point win. Fitzgerald had five catches for 92 yards and a TD. The Dolphins are really bad, and things won't get better now that Dave Wannstedt will reportedly resign his head coaching job!
OK, I thought that this whole Ben Roethlesberger thing was a fluke. I mean, I did think he was going to be as good as Eli Manning or Philip Rivers, but I didn't expect this from him. (although 33 carries and 147 yards rushing from Jerome Bettis, starting for the injured Duce Staley, helped too, I'm sure!) And, I also figured that when the Steelers ended the Patriots unbeaten streak last week, it too was a fluke. However, after absolutely demolishing the previously unbeaten Eagles 27-3 on Sunday, I don't think that the Steelers or Roethlesberger can be considered flukes!! They just may be the real deal!
Have a day, Michael Pittman! 15 carries, 128 yards and 3 TDs. Not a bad afternoon. The 78 yard run was very impressive! But Brian Griese looked decent, throwing for 296 yards and 2 TDs. Of course, it was all done against the Kansas City Chiefs defense, so I don't know if it really counts! You also have to wonder if the Chiefs would have completed the comeback if Priest Holmes hadn't hurt his knee. Trent Green found Tony Gonzalez and Eddie Kennison for over 100 yards each too. They may not be good defensively, but you know when you watch the Chiefs, it'll be an entertaining game!
The Giants dominated the Vikings at the Dome a week ago. Earlier in the season, they dominated the Packers at Lambeau Field. And then Sunday, at home no less, they got embarrassed by Anthony Thomas, Craig Krenzel and the Chicago Bears! The former Ohio State QB was just 8-21 for 144 yards and a touch, but the A-Train's 28 carries, 110 yards and 2 TDs really made the difference! Tiki Barber continued his incredible season with 2 more rushing TDs.
The Seahawks wish they could play the 49ers more often! Matt Hasselbeck threw for 285 yards and 3 TDs (2 to Darrell Jackson), and Shaun Alexander rushed for 160 yards and 2 TDs as the 'hawks threw 42 points on the board. They can't be happy about giving up 27 points to the '9ers though!
Just when we want to crown the Houston Texans as a legitimate team, they play the Broncos and lose 31-13. Sure, David Carr gets a lot of credit, but it is the Texans defense that generally has kept them in games. But Sunday, they let Jake Plummer throw 4 TD passes to four different receivers. Reuben Droughns rushed for 120 yards.
The Baltimore Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns Sunday night 27-13. With 40 points, you would have to assume the offenses did something, right? Wrong! Cleveland's lone TD came on a Richard Alston 93 yard kickoff return to start the game. After that, just two Phil Dawson FGs. The Ravens got a 2 yard TD run by Jamal Lewis. But their other TD came at the end of the game. Holding on to a 7 point lead with the Browns threatening, when Ed Reed intercepted a Jeff Garcia pass (that arguably should have been caught) in the end zone and returned it an NFL record 106 yards to ice the game. Matt Stover kicked four FGs.
Having already kicked four FGs, the Patriots Adam Vinatieri threw a 4 yard TD pass to Troy Brown to give the Patriots a 26-14 lead. That essentially ended any Rams chances. I was surprised. I thought that New England was set up to lose for the second straight game, but they continue to be prepared and beat a strong offensive team in the Rams, in St. Louis. It may be no small detail that Corey Dillon was playing again this week after sitting out the Steelers game with an injury.
Any thoughts on Week 9, the NFL, or anything football... e-mail me.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Week 9 is complete, and so is half of the season. I have to admit that I am almost embarrassed with how I've done so far this year. There are eight more weeks to go, but I've got a lot of room to make up, and the games are not getting easier to pick! Mike Brasel won this week and in doing so leapfrogged Ryan Maus to reclaim 1st place by a game. Aaron Gleeman and David Bergner kept pace and Michael Labuda is now in the running, along with Melissa Olson. But, let's see. As I said, there is almost 1/2 season left, a lot can happen! Right?
Thru Week 9 Total Week 9 Over All Name Site
L Win% W L Win % Mike Brasel Fantasy FB Guru 10 4 71.4% 86 44 66.2% Ryan Maus Twins Chatter 8 6 57.1% 85 45 65.4% Aaron Gleeman Aaron's BB Blog 8 6 57.1% 84 46 64.6% David Bergner Baseball Savant 8 6 57.1% 83 47 63.8% Michael Labuda ChiSox Daily 9 5 64.3% 82 48 63.1% Melissa Olson SethSpeaks.net 8 6 57.1% 81 49 62.3% Jeremy Kovash Wolf Lake Mgr 8 6 57.1% 78 52 60.0% Vic Quick KDUH-TV Sports 8 6 57.1% 77 53 59.2% Seth Stohs SethSpeaks.net 6 8 42.9% 73 57 56.2% Ben Jacobs Hardball Times 7 7 50.0% 72 58 55.4% David Bloom Ya Gotta Believe 7 7 50.0% 70 60 53.8% John Bonnes The Twins Geek 6 8 42.9% 69 61 53.1%
That's it for today. I hope you are enjoying the positional rankings. Please feel free to let me know what you think. If you have any questions, comments or ideas for future topics, please e-mail me.
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