Thursday, October 20, 2016
Photo: David Ortiz at the White House, from his Wikipedia page. Just click here.
Yes, I know it's been a long time. Inexcusable, considering the good season. There were lots of entries I could have made here, and I was about to, but then something relevant came up. Also I didn't want to write an entry about how the season ended, considering the abrupt turnaround and the much-improved play. So...
--Let's start it off with a trivia question: When Randy Johnson won his 300th game, for what team was he pitching for? Answer towards the bottom of the column.
--Yes, a disappointing end, but let's remember what they've been the last few years. Bottom line: A much-improved team that now should make the playoffs regularly for a long time to come. And now those who played in a playoffs for the first time (which was almost all of the offensive players, especially those whose offense was . . . well, offensive) will be better prepared for next time. The Big Bs were all shut down this time, but they won't be next time.
--And it looks like Pedroia was playing with a bum knee for much of the season. Didn't know that. But when a player has major surgery a few days after his season ends, that's what that means. Pedroia himself had a resurgent year, and has entered himself into potential HOF talk. Amongst this generation's second basemen, his career is building up to be one of the best.
--Baseball-reference and JAWS say Pedroia's the 19th-best ever, and his fielding % is 4th-best, ever. (Click on the link for his page and stats.) Is there another second basemen you'd rather have? I'll take a leadoff batter with a .350+ OBP, 200 hits and great defense. Can't count the number of times this year I saw him make a great play going up on the ball, rather than just down. Amazing defense.
--And it looks like Betts, Bogaerts, Bradley and Benetendi will be good players for a long time. I have a 10 baseball and a 10 autograph of Betts and Bradley, by the way. Look at the blog about Betts's ball by clicking here.
--Don't be surprised if Ortiz has a tough time, at first, getting into the Hall. He's a DH, and he's got a cloud of PEDS suspicion, especially with HGH. True, his name (and the others) were not supposed to be leaked from the Biogenesis report--but it still was there. And I don't know that the country's sportswriters revere him like those in New England do. But I do think he'll eventually get in.
--If he does, Edgar Martinez should, too. But Ortiz was better. And he wasn't exactly the defensive liability that Edgar Martinez was. Ortiz could play first base if you were truly desperate, but I wouldn't have put Edgar Martinez on the field under any circumstance, especially at third base.
--His F-bomb after the Boston bombing will win over some of the out-of-New England writers, and his extreme popularity with other players and with the media cannot be ignored. That kind of stuff shouldn't matter with the writers' HOF vote, but it always does.
--It's a good thing, though, that the umpires don't do the voting. Ortiz, in all honesty, would make the HOF of Home Plate Whining at Umpires. And, for a few years there, the HOF of Contract Whining.
--Bradley may be one of the streakiest hitters of all-time. Not too many batters have led their league in longest hitting streak, as Bradley led the American League this year with his 29-gamer, and yet still finish at .267 or so for the year. In the playoffs this was especially frustrating.
--Any STATS employee or sabermetrics virtuoso, please feel free to look that up and leave a comment. Who has the lowest batting average of anyone who led his league that year with the longest hitting streak? My guess: Jackie Bradley, Jr. 2016.
--Worthless stat that just popped in my head: What player had the lowest batting average and yet led his league in homers? Answer: Tony Armas, Boston, .218. In the mid-80s, maybe before your time.
--I've met him--Jackie Bradley, that is, not Tony Armas--and spoken with him twice. Good guy, very soft-spoken. I'm glad he's finally made it. (Made the two autographs I have of him worth more, too.)
--The Sox may have the MVP and Cy Young on the same team for the first time since 1986. (Roger Clemens won both that year.)
--While we're at it, the trivia answer from the top: Randy Johnson won his 300th while pitching for the San Francisco Giants. (!) Yeah, I wouldn't have guessed that, either. I just happened to be on his baseball-reference page before I started this column. I wanted to see who was greater, Clemens or Johnson. Answer, Clemens, and it's not close, both in peak value and in career value. Both are top-10.
--And don't even bother telling me that one took PEDS and one didn't, because I don't believe that either one of them could've pitched that long, at that level, and that hard, without some help. I know Nolan Ryan just had Alleve, but still...he may have benefited from the same stuff that apparently helped Mantle and Ruth, if you catch my drift.
--Every time Bogaerts swings at a pitch low and (way) outside, he needs to drop and give me 20. Right there at the plate, like Willie Mays Hayes.
--The entire Boston team in 2016 may have been one of the streakiest ever. Without that 11-game winning streak, they may not have made the playoffs at all.
--And at least Ortiz got to go out at Fenway.
--Goodbye, Big Papi. It won't be the same without you.
--And good luck to Tito Francona and Mike Napoli. And Lester and Lackey, too, if they make it.