Saturday, December 23, 2017

A cool card of a guy who didn't deserve the vote in 1993

There weren't a lot of defenders of Deivi Cruz, and probably rightfully so.  This next guy will definitely have some backers though, as he was definitely a fan favorite in his time and only really belongs on this list because of his defense.

Today's player: Cecil Fielder

In 1990, Cecil Fielder came back to MLB from Japan and hit a league leading 51 homeruns.  He finished 2nd in MVP voting that year, and ended up receiving MVP votes over his next four years (Actually the only four years where he received votes).  Here were his homers and WAR numbers over those four years:

1990 - 51 homers, 6.5 WAR
1991 - 44 homers, 3.7 WAR
1992 - 35 homers, 2.7 WAR
1993 - 30 homers, 0.6 WAR

Now those are just two numbers, and if you look at the deeper stats, Fielder was actually a better overall hitter in 1993 than in 1992.  But his defense was a career worst in 1993, which absolutely sunk his WAR.  It wasn't until 1995 that teams finally started playing him at DH to maximize his ability.  So in 1993, even though he had a great offensive season, his value was minimized by what he gave back in the field.

All that said, as will happen with some of these posts, Cecil Fielder was not a bad player in 1993, and there's certainly an argument there for him to get the one vote he did, even if just based on homer total and his previous success.  But there were more deserving guys out there in 1993, as you'll see below.

The card:

I used to collect 1995 Topps (And it's Cyberstats parallel where they projected 1994 as if it was a finished season), and Cecil Fielder's card was always one of my favorites.  I can't put a finger on exactly why...but I definitely think it's pretty neat.  I'm pretty sure he just swung a bat and is waiting to see what happens, but it also looks like maybe he's leading off a base or something as well.  I would love to know what happened immediately after this photo was taken.

A random rookie more deserving of the award: David Hulse.  Yet another guy I've never heard of.  Hulse finished 8th/last in AL Rookie of the Year voting with 2.8 WAR as a Rangers centerfielder.  He didn't hit for power, but he had a good average, good speed, and decent defense, which all combined for a pretty valuable 1993.  Interestingly, Hulse's career WAR on Baseball Reference is 1.5.  After combining for 3.4 WAR in an abbreviated 1992 and full 1993, he went -1.9 for the rest of his career, as his batting average and OBP plummeted.  So not the best finish to a career for Mr. Hulse.

A second guy who deserved it because I found those 1993 Blue Jays fascinating: Juan Guzman.  Guzman finished 7th/last in the AL Cy Young voting with one vote despite a 14-3 record and 3.99 ERA in 33 starts.  While that's pretty good (Good enough for a 3.4 WAR), he was beaten out for MVP votes by five other Jays (Paul Molitor, John Olerud, Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, and Duane Ward).  Man that team was stacked.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

A cool card of a guy who didn't deserve an MVP vote in 1997

I'm loving the reactions to this series thus far, with people supporting/defending these down ballot MVP nominees fairly consistently.  I'm curiously if that will continue with today's player, as he seems a little more obscure and had a shorter career than my first two entrants.

The player's name: Deivi Cruz

Mo Vaughn won the American League MVP in 1995.  In 1996, he had a top five finish.  In 1997, despite a decent season, he fell to just two votes.  Which tied him with rookie Deivi Cruz, the defensive-minded shortstop who put up -0.5 WAR (Our first negative WAR player of the series) with a .241/.263/.314 batting line.

It's always been hard to measure defense, but I do remember people thinking of Cruz's defense on the level of an Ozzie Smith or Omar Vizquel when he first hit the league.  As he aged, that reputation faded some, and the stats we have now don't look as kindly on his early years.  His defense was certainly always better than his bat though.

The card:
What an interesting card.  Three hall of famers on the front, two defensive specialists (Although advanced stats have been even harsher to Snow than to Cruz in that area) and Matt Williams on the back.

A random rookie more deserving of the award: Mike Cameron.  Cameron was overlooked his entire career, and finished last in the AL rookie of the year voting despite 4.4 WAR, 14 homers, and a .356 OBP.  Nomar won the rookie of the year, and deserved it, but Cameron deserved to be second, and definitely deserved an MVP vote before Cruz.

As a fun side note, Cruz was NOT the lowest WAR of a guy who got rookie of the year votes in 1997.  Tony Womack had a -0.9 WAR in the National League, while his Pirate teammate Jose Guillen had a whopping -3.3 WAR due to few walks and bad defense.  Both Pirates finished behind third teammate Rich Loiselle (Who I do not remember at all) in the NL voting, with Loiselle finishing fourth overall thanks to 29 saves and a 3.10 ERA.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

A cool card of a guy who didn't deserve an MVP vote in 2000

I don't understand why Cy Young voters get up to five choices while MVP voters get then.  I know one award goes to a smaller population than the other, but I feel like the bottom of an MVP ballot rarely affects the winner.  Just one of those things I guess.

Anyways, today's player got one MVP vote in 2000 as a relief pitcher.  And NO votes for the Cy Young award.  Seems a bit backwards right?  So does giving an MVP vote to a guy with a 1.514 WHIP, 4.24 ERA, and an overall 0.5 WAR as a closer.

The player's name: Antonio Alfonseca

The card:
This is one of Alfonseca's first cards from when he joined the Marlins' system, and I like that he's hitting on it.

A random rookie more deserving of the award: Rick Ankiel.  He finished 2nd in rookie of the year voting with 0.8 WAR in a year where he went 11-7 with a 3.5 ERA and hit his first two homers

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A cool card of a guy who didn't deserve the vote in 2012

WAR isn't a perfect stat, but in general a player with a good WAR score is a player people think is pretty good.  So when you look at rankings for MVP and Cy Young, you expect some high WAR scores, especially these days since sabermetrics have a bigger hand in things.

Recently, this HAS been the case.  For instance, on this year's MVP and Cy Young ballots, over 50 players got votes of some kind.  The lowest WAR of any of those players was 2.5 by Khris Davis, which is still pretty good.

Back in the day, however, before WAR and sabermetrics ruled the scene, some weird names popped up on ballots.  And when I'm bored, sometimes, I ponder over them.  So starts a possible semi-regular segment where I pick a year and find the guy(s) that didn't really belong on the ballot.  And then I share a card of theirs that I found cool looking.

Why start with 2012?  I just looked at the Baseball Reference leaderboards starting at 2017 and went backwards until a statline stuck out.

The name:  Raul Ibanez.

Ibanez got one tenth place vote in 2012 for a 0.5 WAR season with the Yankees.  That ranked him 24th in the MVP rankings in the American League, essentially declaring him the league's 24th most valuable player in a season where he hit .240/.308/.453 with 19 homers in 130 games.  Definitely a tribute vote if I've ever seen one, and it apparently came from John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press.

The card:

TIL Raul Ibanez started out as a catcher.  Muy interesante.

A random rookie from that year more deserving of the vote (Since Baseball Reference lists the Rookie of the Year vote getters as well): Jarrod Parker, who had 3.8 WAR and a 3.47 ERA across 29 starts.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Brief Bat Around: Bacon

I had to do a Seneca Wallace to Kevin Bacon post.  So here goes:

1. Seneca Wallace was on the 2003 Seahawks with Shaun Alexander

2. Shaun Alexander was in the short (Can be found on YouTube) film Conker: Celebrity Squirrel with Ryan Stiles

3. Ryan Stiles was in Astro Boy with Nathan Lane

4. Nathan Lane was in He Said, She Said with Kevin Bacon

And so you have it.  Seneca: Kevin = A Bacon number of 4.  Noice.