Sunday, December 28, 2008


(Minimum 150 innings)
* = Lowest ERA in NL/AL
*1. Sandy Koufax - 1.73 in 323 innings (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1966)
*2. Sandy Koufax - 1.74 in 223 innings (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1964)
*3. Sandy Koufax - 1.88 in 311 innings (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1963)
3. Joe Horlen - 1.88 in 210 innings (Chicago White Sox, 1964)
*4. Sandy Koufax - 2.04 in 335 innings (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1965)
5. Joe Horlen - 2.06 in 258 innings (Chicago White Sox, 1967)
6. Dave Roberts - 2.10 in 269 innings (San Diego Padres, 1971)
7. Joe Horlen - 2.37 in 223 innings (Chicago White Sox, 1968)
8. Joe Horlen - 2.43 in 211 innings (Chicago White Sox, 1966)
9. Ken Holtzman - 2.51 in 265 innings (Oakland Athletics, 1972)
*10. Sandy Koufax - 2.54 in 184 innings (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1962)
*11. Saul Rogovin - 2.78 in 216 innings (Detroit Tigers/Chicago White Sox, 1951)
12. Dave Roberts - 2.85 in 249 innings (Houston Astros, 1973)
13. Joe Horlen - 2.88 in 219 innings (Chicago White Sox, 1965)
14. Ken Holtzman - 2.97 in 297 innings (Oakland Athletics, 1973)
15. Ken Holtzman - 3.07 in 255 innings (Oakland Athetlics, 1974)
16. Dan Warthen - 3.11 in 167 innings (Montreal Expos, 1975)
17. Ken Holtzman - 3.14 in 266 innings (Oakland Athetlics, 1975)
18. Steve Stone - 3.23 in 250 innings (Baltimore Orioles, 1980)
19. Ken Holtzman - 3.35 in 215 innings (Chicago Cubs, 1968)
20. Ken Holtzman - 3.38 in 287 innings (Chicago Cubs, 1970)
21. Dave Roberts - 3.40 in 204 innings (Houston Astros, 1974)
22. Sandy Koufax - 3.52 in 255 innings (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1961)
23. Ross Baumgarten - 3.54 in 190 innings (Chicago White Sox, 1979)
24. Ken Holtzman - 3.58 in 261 innings (Chicago Cubs, 1969)
25. Ken Holtzman - 3.65 in 246 innings (Baltimore Orioles/New York Yankees, 1976)
26. Jason Marquis - 3.71 in 201 innings (St. Louis Cardinals, 2004)
27. Barry Latman - 3.75 in 156 innings (Chicago White Sox, 1959)
28. Steve Stone - 3.77 in 186 innings (Baltimore Orioles, 1979)
29. Joe Horlen - 3.78 in 235 innings (Chicago White Sox, 1969)
30. Ken Holtzman - 3.79 in 220 innings (Chicago Cubs, 1966)
31. Dave Roberts - 3.81 in 181 innings (San Diego Padres, 1970)
32. Saul Rogovin - 3.85 in 231 innings (Chicago White Sox, 1952)
33. Sandy Koufax - 3.91 in 175 innings (Los Angeles Dodgers, 1960)
34. Steve Stone - 3.95 in 214 innings (Chicago Cubs, 1975)

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Jewish Skipper? Damn Skippy!

Bob Melvin, at your service. Former MLB catcher. 6 years of managerial experience so far; 3 of those years have been winning seasons. Currently manages the Arizona Diamondbacks. Got his start with the Seattle Mariners after Lou Piniella left. Was named the 2007 NL Manager of the Year. Has won 90 or more games twice.

While a member of the Giants, Melvin served as the backup for fellow catcher Bob Brenly, who also went on to serve as manager of the Diamondbacks. Later, Melvin became one of Brenly's bench coaches. Got a ring from the '01 squad.

Larry Rothschild is someone I've been aware of for quite some time. Got his start with the (then) Tampa Bay Devil Rays in their inaugural season in '98. Was the skipper there until '01 when none other than Sweet Lou replaced him. Hails from Chicago and has been the Cubs' pitching coach since 2002.

Currently works under Piniella. However, this isn't the first time he's worked under him. Was the Reds' bullpen coach from 1986-1993. Got a ring from the '90 squad with Lou. Also got a ring from the '97 Marlins squad. Will Rothschild and Piniella find the magic again? The Cubs faithful certainly hope so. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Total Bases, Familiar Faces

1. Hank Greenberg - 397 (1937, Detroit Tigers)
2. Hank Greenberg - 389 (1935, Detroit Tigers)
3. Hank Greenberg - 384 (1940, Detroit Tigers)
4. Hank Greenberg - 380 (1938, Detroit Tigers)
5. Shawn Green - 370 (2001, Los Angeles Dodgers)
6. Al Rosen - 367 (1953, Cleveland Indians)
7. Shawn Green - 361 (1999, Toronto Blue Jays)
8. Hank Greenberg - 356 (1934, Detroit Tigers)
9. Ryan Braun - 338 (2008, Milwaukee Brewers)
10. Shawn Green - 325 (2002, Los Angeles Dodgers)
11. Shawn Green - 321 (1998, Toronto Blue Jays)
12. Hank Greenberg - 316 (1946, Detroit Tigers)
13. Hank Greenberg - 311 (1939, Detroit Tigers)
14. Kevin Youkilis - 306 (2008, Boston Red Sox)
15. Al Rosen - 301 (1950, Cleveland Indians)
16. Lou Boudreau - 299 (1948, Cleveland Indians)
17. Al Rosen - 297 (1952, Cleveland Indians)
18. Shawn Green - 288 (2000, Los Angeles Dodgers)
18. Buddy Myer - 288 (1935, Washington Senators)
19. Ryan Braun - 286 (2007, Milwaukee Brewers)
20. Shawn Green - 281 (2003, Los Angeles Dodgers)
20. Mike Lieberthal - 281 (1999, Philadelphia Phillies)
21. Sid Gordon - 280 (1948, New York Giants)
22. Goody Rosen - 279 (1945, Brooklyn Dodgers)
23. Lou Boudreau - 278 (1940, Cleveland Indians)
24. Shawn Green - 277 (2005, Arizona Diamondbacks)
25. Sid Gordon - 275 (1951, Boston Braves)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Tribute to Al Rosen

For half a decade, Al Rosen was one of the best third basemen in all of baseball. From 1950-1954 for the Cleveland Indians, Rosen averaged 31 HRs and 114 RBIs per season. He hit .300 or above 3 times. He also had an OBP of .400 or above 3 times. For 5 consecutive seasons, Rosen drove in over 100 RBIs and hit 20 or more HRs with 20 or more doubles. Scored 100 or more runs 3 times. A 4-time all-star, Rosen finished in the top 20 of MVP voting 4 times during his abbreviated career.

In 1953 Rosen had one of greatest seasons of any third baseman ever. He hit .336 with a .422 OBP and a .613 SLG, had 43 HRs, 27 doubles, 5 triples, scored 115 runs, and drove in 145 runs. He won the AL MVP in convincing fashion; he was the first player in MLB history to get an MVP by a unanimous vote. The only other Jews who have won an MVP are Hank Greenberg (2), Sandy Koufax, and Lou Boudreau. Rosen missed winning the batting title and with it the Triple Crown by 1 percentage point. He led the AL in HRs, SLG, RBIs, OPS (1.035), runs scored, extra-base hits (75), and total bases (367). He finished 2nd in average and OBP and third in hits (201).

Coming into 1950, Rosen only had 58 ABs from the 3 preceding seasons. But he broke out in a big way in 1950, leading the AL in HRs with 37. He also had a .543 SLG (5th in AL), drove in 116 runs (7th in AL), scored 100 runs, and had 301 total bases (7th in AL). Now, if you're like me you're thinking: why the _____ didn't he win Rookie of the Year? Simple. Walt Dropo had a freakishly good season, one that he'd never come close to reproducing. He hit .322 with 34 HRs, 144 RBIs, and scored 101 runs. Dropo would never hit .300 again. Nor would he hit 30 HRs or drive in 100 runs or score 100 runs again. So "freakishly" is the operative word here.

Unfortunately, Rosen's meteoric rise to excellence was equaled by a meteoric demise. Lingering back and leg injures forced Rosen to retire at the age of 32 in 1956. Like Sandy Koufax after him, Rosen's career was cut short by chronic pain. Had he remained healthy, it's entirely possible he would be mentioned today in the same breath as guys like Eddie Matthews and Mike Schmidt. As it is, his .879 career OPS ranks in the top 100 of all time. His 9 career grand slams also rank in the top 100 of all time. He hit 4 grand slams alone in 1951. His AB/RBI ratio is in the top 50 of all time. His home run percentage is in the top 100 of all time. All told, Rosen hit .285 with a .384 OBP and a .495 SLG, had 192 HRs, 165 doubles, 20 triples, scored 603 runs, and drove in 717 runs in 7 full seasons. In the tradition of players like Sid Gordon and Buddy Myer, Rosen also walked more than he struck out in each of those 7 seasons. And here's a little known fact: in the 1954 All-Star game, Rosen homered twice - with a broken finger.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obsessed with OPS?

1. Hank Greenberg - 1.121 (1938, Detroit Tigers)
2. Hank Greenberg - 1.104 (1937, Detroit Tigers)
3. Hank Greenberg - 1.103 (1940, Detroit Tigers)
4. Hank Greenberg - 1.042 (1939, Detroit Tigers)
5. Hank Greenberg - 1.039 (1935, Detroit Tigers)
6. Al Rosen - 1.035 (1953, Cleveland Indians)
7. Hank Greenberg - 1.004 (1934, Detroit Tigers)
7. Ryan Braun - 1.004 (2007, Milwaukee Brewers)
8. Hank Greenberg - .977 (1946, Detroit Tigers)
9. Shawn Green - .972 (1999, Toronto Blue Jays)
10. Shawn Green - .970 (2001, Los Angeles Dodgers)
11. Mike Epstein - .965 (1969, Washington Senators)
12. Sid Gordon - .960 (1950, Boston Braves)
13. Kevin Youkilis - .959 (2008, Boston Red Sox)
14. Al Rosen - .948 (1950, Cleveland Indians)
14. Hank Greenberg - .948 (1945, Detroit Tigers)
15. Shawn Green - .943 (2002, Los Angeles Dodgers)
16. Phil Weintraub - .936 (1944, New York Giants)
17. Sid Gordon - .927 (1948, New York Giants)
18. Buddy Myer - .919 (1938, Washington Senators)
19. Al Rosen - .911 (1952, Cleveland Indians)
20. Al Rosen - .910 (1954, Cleveland Indians)
21. Sid Gordon - .909 (1949, New York Giants)
22. Buddy Myer - .908 (1935, Washington Senators)
23. Ron Blomberg - .893 (1973, New York Yankees)
24. Ian Kinsler - .892 (2008, Texas Rangers)
25. Ryan Braun - .888 (2008, Milwaukee Brewers)

Special Mention:
Lou Boudreau - .987 (1948, Cleveland Indians)
Mike Lieberthal - .914 (1999, Philadelphia Phillies)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Congratulations are in Order

Ryan Braun and Kevin Youkilis each finished 3rd in MVP voting in their respective leagues. Ian Kinsler finished 20th in MVP voting (How the Hell did Jason Bartlett finish ahead of him?).

Here's how the voting broke down for both leagues:

The last time 2 Jews finished in the top 5 of MVP voting was 1935 when Buddy Myer finished 4th and Hank Greenberg won. If you consider Lou Boudreau Jewish, it also happened in 1940; Boudreau finished 5th, Greenberg won, and Harry Danning finished 7th. In 1948, Sid Gordon finished 4th and Boudreau won.

There is also some precedence for 3 Jews finishing in the top 25 of MVP voting. In 1938, Greenberg finished 3rd, Myer finished 24th, and Danning finished 16th. In 1939, Greenberg finished 18th, Danning finished 9th, and Morrie Arnovich finished 18th. In 1945, Boudreau finished 8th, Goody Rosen finished 10th, and Greenberg finished 14th. See above for 1940. In 1952, 3 Jews finished in the top 30 for MVP voting. Al Rosen finished 10th, Saul Rogovin finished 27th, and Sid Gordon finished 30th.

Even though Youk didn't win MVP, he was the recipient of the Hank Aaron Award.

Braun won Silver Sluggers. Personally, I think Youk was deserving of Silver Sluggers as well, but if I talk about it it'll sound like I have sour grapes. Morneau had a great season, so it's hard to be too upset. Hell, Miguel Cabrera could have also won. But I will say that Youk should have won another gold glove. You can't compare Carlos Pena's glove work to Youk's. Pena doesn't have Youk's range, picking ability, or versatility. It's really not even close. But that's ancillary. Braun, Youkilis, and Kinsler should all be congratulated for the standout seasons they had in 2008. Here's to an even better 2009!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg

(From Left to Right: Ted Williams, Eddie Pellagrini, John F. Kennedy, Hank Greenberg)

So I just saw it. And I have to say it was time well spent. If you're a baseball fan, this documentary is must-see. You don't have to be Jewish to appreciate what this larger-than-life baseball immortal did over the course of his storied career. Of course, it helps (for frame of reference), but it's certainly not a prerequisite for liking this film. I would recommend it to anyone who has ever stepped onto a baseball field and saw more than just grass and dirt and chalk.

I'm a numbers man myself, but the human interest angle is too good to pass up, so I'll talk about Greenberg's absurd numbers some other time, if it's all the same to you.

People interviewed in the documentary other than Greenberg include Hal Newhouser (Hall of Fame), Charlie Gehringer (Hall of Fame), Harry Eisenstat, Walter Matthau (who is hilarious), Alan Dershowitz (Josh Lyman anyone?), Michael Moriarty, Maury Povich, Greenberg's children, and Dick Schaap. My only complaint was Al Rosen's conspicuous absence; he only had one sound bite. Would've been nice to hear from Greenberg's heir apparent. I know they had a falling out over money, but still. Also would have been nice to hear from Bill Veeck, Greenberg's longtime friend and front office partner.

What really struck me as I watched the film was how hard Greenberg worked - and how hard he swung. As a young man, he was described as being very raw and sort of lanky. Obviously, he eventually filled out; you'd have to in order to hit 58 homers. But he didn't get from Point A to Point B overnight. It took a lot of elbow grease. Greenberg's work ethic is almost as impressive as his production. The fact that he was able to make the transition from first base to left field - and not miss a beat - is astonishing. The fact that he was willing to even do this speaks volumes about his character. Here you have the face of the franchise swallowing his pride for the sake of the team and a promising (but unproven) youngster named Rudy York. Can you imagine Edgar Martinez or Frank Thomas doing that? Didn't think so. And to top it all off, Greenberg actually won an MVP from both positions.
And then when you consider what Greenberg might have been able to do had he not missed 4.5 years because of the war - during his prime, mind you... You can speculate and you can extrapolate, but believe me you'll only aggravate yourself. It's a crying shame that Greenberg and others of his ilk (Ted Williams comes to mind) had to sacrifice some of their best years for the war. Not that it wasn't a worthy cause. Just... we would have won without them. So, from a selfish fan's standpoint, it's somewhat maddening.

One of my favorite anecdotes from the film describes Greenberg's innovation in the creation of the modern-day first baseman's mitt. Another great anecdote comes from the bonus features when Greenberg's son, Stephen, relates how Dave Winfield called Hank Greenberg his hero after reading his biography. Winfield was amazed that Greenberg could come back after the war and lead the American League in home runs with 44 in 1946. I was amazed that Greenberg said he "played from memory" when he came back. He was essentially saying that he wasn't the player he was when he left in 1941. And yet he finished 8th in MVP voting in 1946. And yet he finished with an OBP of .408 in 1947 for the Pirates, in spite of a career-low .249 average.

That's another thing that struck me: Greenberg ending his career in Pittsburgh. It should never have happened. The man deserved better. He deserved to be a lifelong Tiger. He deserved their loyalty. Be that as it may, there was one good thing that came from it. Greenberg had a chance to meet Jackie Robinson when he first entered the National League. Talk about a poetic revolving door. Now, that's something I would have liked to have seen. Two players who faced more prejudice you would be hard-pressed to find. After their encounter, Robinson said: "Class tells. It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg." High praise, indeed, coming from Mr. Robinson. (From Left to Right: Lou Boudreau, Lary Doby, Hank Greenberg)

After Greenberg retired, he became the Cleveland Indians' farm system director and later their general manager and part-owner along with Bill Veeck. During his tenure, he assembled more African American players than any other team executive in the Majors. Just another stat that adds to his legacy. Listen to the story about how he desegregated a hotel for his players on the Indians, and tell me that doesn't warm the cockles of your heart.

See The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. Take it from me: you won't regret it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gold Glove Gripe

Time to air my gold glove grievances. Well, grievance. As most of you already know, Ryan Braun got no love for his glove this season. The three NL outfielders who did win were Carlos Beltran, Shane Victorino, and Nate McLouth.

What do they all have in common? Each of them patrols center field. And here I thought our country was leaning to the left. Sorry, bad joke. Couldn't resist... just like Matt Stairs can't resist a good cheesesteak. Wow... I'm 2 for 2.

While it's generally accepted that the center fielder is the "captain" of the outfield, that's still no reason to ignore the corner outfielders. If you applied the same logic to the infield, only shortstops and catchers would win gold gloves.

And while it's true that Milwaukee's scorekeeper was somewhat generous this year with Braun on some judgment calls, the fact remains he didn't commit an error all year. He also led all NL left fielders in putouts (275), was 2nd in the league in range factor (1.95), and was 4th in assists (9). Last year as a rookie, Braun left a lot to be desired at third base. And when I say "left a lot to be desired," what I really mean is he was atrocious. 26 erros in 112 games. Ouch. So contextually, what Braun did this season was really quite extraordinary.

And just so I can't be accused of being totally Jew-centric, I also think Hunter Pence should have won a gold glove in right field. He only made 1 error all season and led the NL in assists with 16. He may look like he's 12 years old, but the kid can play.

You're welcome to disagree, but I would advise against it. Because I will find you and flog you. Yep, 3 for 3.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The .300 Club

(Minimum 400 ABs) * = Batting Champion
*1. Buddy Myer - .349 in 616 ABs (Washington Senators, 1935)
2. Hank Greenberg - .340 in 573 ABs (Detroit Tigers, 1940)
3. Hank Greenberg - .339 in 593 ABs (Detroit Tigers, 1934)
4. Hank Greenberg - .337 in 594 ABs (Detroit Tigers, 1937)
5. Al Rosen - .336 in 599 ABs (Cleveland Indians, 1953)
6. Buddy Myer - .336 in 437 ABs (Washington Senators, 1938)
7. Hank Greenberg - .328 in 619 ABs (Detroit Tigers, 1935)
8. Goody Rosen - .325 in 606 ABs (Brooklyn Dodgers, 1945)
9. Morrie Arnovich - .324 in 491 ABs (Philadelphia Phillies, 1939)
9. Ryan Braun - .324 in 451 ABs (Milwaukee Brewers, 2007)
10. Ian Kinsler - .319 in 518 ABs (Texas Rangers, 2008)
11. Hank Greenberg - .315 in 556 ABs (Detroit Tigers, 1938)
12. Buddy Myer - .313 in 536 ABs (Boston Red Sox, 1928)
12. Harry Danning - .313 in 520 ABs (New York Giants, 1939)
12. Mike Lieberthal - .313 in 508 ABs (Philadelphia Phillies, 2003)
13. Kevin Youkilis - .312 in 538 ABs (Boston Red Sox, 2008)
13. Hank Greenberg - .312 in 500 ABs (Detroit Tigers, 1939)
14. Shawn Green - .309 in 614 ABs (Toronto Blue Jays, 1999)
15. Harry Danning - .306 in 448 ABs (New York Giants, 1938)
16. Buddy Myer - .305 in 524 ABs (Washington Senators, 1934)
17. Sid Gordon - .304 in 481 ABs (Boston Braves, 1950)
17. Buddy Myer - .304 in 434 ABs (Washington Senators, 1926)
18. Buddy Myer - .303 in 541 ABs (Washington Senators, 1930)
18. Elliott Maddox - .303 in 466 ABs (New York Yankees, 1974)
19. Al Rosen - .302 in 567 ABs (Cleveland Indians, 1952)
19. Buddy Myer - .302 in 530 ABs (Washington Senators, 1933)
19. Gabe Kapler - .302 in 444 ABs (Texas Rangers, 2000)
20. Hank Greenberg - .301 in 449 ABs (Detroit Tigers, 1933)
21. Buddy Myer - .300 in 563 ABs (Washington Senators, 1929)
21. Harry Danning - .300 in 524 ABs (New York Giants, 1940)
21. Al Rosen - .300 in 466 ABs (Cleveland Indians, 1954)
21. Richie Scheinblum - .300 in 450 ABs (Kansas City Royals, 1972)
21. Mike Lieberthal - .300 in 510 ABs (Philadelphia Phillies, 1999)
(Under 400 ABs, Over 100 ABs)
1. Jimmie Reese - .346 in 188 ABs (New York Yankees, 1930)
2. Mike Schemer - .333 in 108 ABs (New York Giants, 1945)
3. Ron Blomberg - .329 in 301 ABs (New York Yankees, 1973)
4. Ron Blomberg - .322 in 199 ABs (New York Yankees, 1971)
5. Phil Weintraub - .316 in 361 ABs (New York Giants, 1944)
5. Ruben Amaro Jr. - .316 in 117 ABs (Philadelphia Phillies, 1996)
6. Phil Weintraub - .311 in 351 ABs (Philadelphia Philles, 1938)
6. Hank Greenberg - .311 in 270 ABs (Detroit Tigers, 1945)
6. Ron Blomberg - .311 in 264 ABs (New York Yankees, 1974)
7. Greg Goossen - .309 in 139 ABs (Seattle Pilots, 1969)
8. Richie Scheinblum - .307 in 283 ABs (Cincinnati Reds/California Angels, 1973)
8. Elliott Maddox - .307 in 218 ABs (New York Yankees, 1975)
9. Sid Gordon - .306 in 363 ABs (Pittsburgh Pirates, 1954)
10. Buddy Myer - .302 in 258 ABs (Washington Senators, 1939)
11. Gabe Kapler - .301 in 229 ABs (Milwaukee Brewers, 2008)
12. Art Shamsky - .300 in 303 ABs (New York Mets, 1969)

* = Silver Sluggers
1. Dave Roberts - .327 in 52 ABs (Chicago Cubs, 1978)
*2. Jason Marquis - .310 in 87 ABs (St. Louis Cardinals, 2005)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm an Old Softy for Defense

And since Chase Utley was already one of my favorite players, you can imagine my reaction when I saw this go down earlier tonight.

Channeling Youk a little there, methinks. What a heads-up play! And on the grandest stage of them all. Game-saver. I've heard some people say it wasn't as good as Jeter's inexplicable flip against the A's, and while I love Jeter, I think you could definitely make the argument that Utley's play was as good - if not better - than Jeter's.

First of all, Jeter did it in the ALDS. Yeah, I know it's the playoffs, but there's really no substitute for the World Series. Second of all, Jeter's play took a certain amount of luck. DJ demonstrated a high baseball IQ and incredible instincts to be where he was, but let's face it: luck was a factor. Whereas with Utley's play, it was all anticipation. He knew going to first wasn't really a viable option. He also knew that Jason Bartlett is a fast, aggressive baserunner and that he might be able to sell the pump fake to first to goad Bartlett. And finally, the Yankees went on to lose the World Series in '01 to the Diamondbacks. So, it was all for naught. Granted, it was a classic Fall Classic, but things worked out a bit differently for the Phillies.

Coincidentally, both plays occurred in the 7th inning.

By the by, Cole Hamels was named World Series MVP. Pretty sure Holtzman was better in '74.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Joe Blanton, Meet Ken Holtzman

The last pitcher to go yard in the World Series. Before you, that is. It was the 1974 Fall Classic. A's (Remember them, Joe?) versus Dodgers. And Holtzman was dominant - on the mound and at the dish. In game 1, he doubled and scored. Didn't go deep into the game, but didn't give up any runs either. A's win 3-2. Turns out Holtzman's run is pivotal in the win. In game 4, he homers. Goes 7 strong innings, 2 earned runs, 7 strikeouts. A's win 5-2.

The rest, as they say, is history. They put the Dodgers away in game 5. All told, Holtzman goes 12 innings, gives up 2 runs, and strikes out 10. ERA is 1.50.

But he's not the World Series MVP. Instead, they give it to Rollie Fingers, who went 9 innings and gave up 2 runs. ERA is 1.93. Now, I'm not saying that Fingers wasn't great. 1 win and 2 saves looks very good on paper.

But the fact of the matter is, short of exposing Holtzman to large quantities of Kryptonite, nothing could have stopped him in the '74 Series. No doubt in my mind he should have won MVP. Not that Fingers was a bad pick. Just that one pitcher was more deserving than the other, in my opinion.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Longest Hitting Streaks

Shawn Green - 28 games, 1999 (Toronto Blue Jays, Franchise Record)
Gabe Kapler - 28 games, 2000 (Texas Rangers, Franchise Record)
Ian Kinsler - 25 games, 2008 (Texas Rangers)
Buddy Myer - 24 games, 1929 (Washington Senators)
Kevin Youkilis - 23 games, 2007 (Boston Red Sox)
Buddy Myer - 23 games, 1928 (Boston Red Sox)
Buddy Myer - 21 games, 1935 (Washington Senators)
Al Rosen - 20 games, 1953 (Cleveland Indians)
Morrie Arnovich - 17 games, 1939 (Philadelphia Phillies)

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Man For All Postseasons

Well, I'll say this much. The Red Sox made it interesting. For the first time under Terry Francona, they lost an elimination game. Regardless, I still think game 5 was an instant classic. It certainly left an indelible impression on me.

And I would be remiss if I didn't comment on Youk's play this postseason. After all, when you get right to it that is what this blog is about. Overall, he did pretty well. In 48 ABs he hit .292 with a .346 OBP and a .590 SLG, had 2 HRs, 4 doubles, scored 6 runs, and drove in 7. Eerily similar to what Shawn Green did in '04 and '06. In the ALCS, Youkilis hit .333 with a .375 OBP and a .633 SLG, had 2 HRs, 3 doubles, scored 4 runs, and drove in 6.

It should be noted that Youkilis has now surpassed Hank Greenberg in a number of postseason categories. No small feat, considering Greenberg's numbers (as you might expect) are very good. Of course, back when Greenberg played, the postseason only consisted of the World Series. I think that's something that shouldn't be downplayed.

In 85 ABs (23 games), Greenberg hit .318 with a .420 OBP and a .625 SLG, had 5 HRs, 7 doubles, 2 triples, scored 17 runs, and drove in 22.

In 99 ABs (26 games), Youkilis is hitting .333 with a .407 OBP and a .616 SLG, has 6 HRs, 8 doubles, 1 triple, has scored 22 runs, and has driven in 17.

The Red Sox will, in all likelihood, have a few offseason decisions to make, but it certainly appears the squad they have right now should be in contention for years to come. Props to Theo Epstein on a job well done. Not even 35 yet, and he already has two rings under his belt. Is there a better GM in baseball?

I'll leave you with this sweet play by Youk from the ALCS. Gotta love the man's instincts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Comeback of Comebacks

Gut check time. With their backs against the Green Monster, the Boston Red Sox did what they've done since 2004: battle. Down 3-1 in the ALCS against a Rays team that has looked unstoppable, the BoSox battled and won. It's that never-say-die attitude that has defined this team the last few postseasons, and I've gotta say as someone who loves the game of baseball, it doesn't get any better than this.

The Red Sox were losing 7-0 going into the 7th inning. The Rays were on cruise control. Or so it seemed. In dramatic and highly improbably fashion, the Red Sox turned the tables on Joe Maddon's Cinderalla team. Pedroia got it started with a two-out RBI single. Then, Big Papi (who has struggled mightily this series) hit a three-run shot. In the eighth, J.D. Drew hit a two-run shot, and Coco Crisp singled in the tying run after an 11 pitch AB. Remarkable. But it's not over yet.

In the 9th, with 2 outs and nobody on, our man Youk gets on base with an infield hit. Longoria throws the ball into the stands. Youk goes to second. Howell intentionally walks Bay to face Drew. Drew drives one to right over the outstretched glove of Gabe Gross. The ball bounces into the bullpen for a walk-off ground-rule double. Youkilis scores. Game over. Series NOT over.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Red Sox Advance to ALCS... Again

Offensively, Youk was just so-so, going 4-18 with a double, 2 walks, 1 RBI, and 2 runs scored. But man oh man, did he flash some serious leather! As usual, he was stellar at first. In game 1, he snared a duck snort in shallow right, shot to his feet, and threw a bullet to Mike Lowell at third to get Vlad out by a mile. In game 3, he beat Garret Anderson to the bag by sliding into it and nearly getting trampled in the process. Gutsy. But you'd expect that kind of intensity from the guy who holds the MLB record for consecutive errorless games by a first baseman (238 games, Steve Garvey was the previous record-holder). Filling in at the hot corner, Youk had some big gold glove shoes to fill. But he did not disappoint. He charged the ball well. He threw the ball well. And he made a nifty catch in game 2, reaching into the stands in the 9th.

Ryan Braun also did not disappoint in his first taste of the postseason. He went 5-16 (.313) with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs in a losing effort against the Phillies. It might be tough next year for the Brew Crew to repeat the success they had in '08, as they will likely lose some key free agents in the off-season. Hopefully, the Brewers will be able to build around the Braun-Fielder-Hardy-Hart nucleus they have.

Anybody remember what Youkilis did in the ALCS last year? Well, let me refresh your memory. In a tight series that went the distance between the Red Sox and the Indians, Youk played like a man possessed. In 28 ABs, he hit .500 with a .576 OBP and a .929 SLG, had 3 HRs, 1 double, 1 triple, scored 10 runs, and drove in 7.

If last year's virtuoso performance is any indication, we might be in for a treat.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cubs Swept in NLDS... Again

97 wins flushed down the drain in 3 games. It was uninspiring. It was pathetic. You name it. Bitter pill to swallow.

End of rant.

But speaking of the Dodgers and the NLDS, it wasn't that long ago when we witnessed Shawn Green hit 3 HRs (in 16 ABs) in a series against the Cardinals. Four years ago to be exact. Green only made the postseason twice in his career, but he certainly made the most of his time in the playoffs. In 13 games and 48 ABs, Green hit .292 with a .542 SLG, had 3 HRs, 3 doubles, scored 6 runs, and drove in 7. And if the Mets hadn't crumbled so badly last season, we would've seen Green one last time in October.

'Course, you never know, he could still come back... One thing's for sure: he can have Fukodome's job in right. I'd be all for that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2008: A Year in Review

What can you say about 2008? It truly was a season for the ages. We had 3 all-stars, two of them starters. We had a guy in the home run derby - who actually competed. We had 3 relievers who got the job done - and then some. We had a starting pitcher who hit a grand slam and had one of his better seasons. We had a veteran utility player who may have just given his career CPR.

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.

Seriously though, we had it all.

We had Jason Marquis, who continued his streak of 10-win seasons. He was 11-9 this year for the Cubs with a 4.53 ERA in 167 innings. At the plate, it was more of the same for Marquis. And by that I mean he was once again superb. In 59 ABs, he hit .203 with 2 HRs, 3 doubles, scored 8 runs, and had 10 RBIs. On occasion, Sweet Lou even used him as a pinch runner. Who says pitchers aren't athletes?

We had Scott Schoeneweis, who turned in his second best season in The Show. In 56 innings of work, this journeyman's ERA was 3.34. He had 15 holds, 1 save, and 2 wins. The fact of the matter is Scott was one of the few bright spots on a God-awful Mets bullpen.

We had John Grabow, who was lights out for the Pirates all year long. In 75 innings of work (a career high), his ERA was 2.88 (a career best). Overall, Grabow was 6-3 with 15 holds and 4 saves. Won't get much recognition because, well, he's on the Pirates, but on this blog I say, "Take a bow, Grabow."

We had Craig Breslow, who was out of his mind for the Twinkies this year, posting a 1.91 ERA in 47 innings of work. Gave up just 1 HR in those 47 innings. At the start of the 2008 season, Breslow was on the Indians' roster. After he was claimed off waivers by the Twins, his ERA was 1.63. Sick, sick, sick. He had 5 holds and 1 save. Has yet to record his first win, but with the stuff this Yale grad has, it's only a matter of time. My only question is why was this stud ever placed on waivers in the first place?!

We had Ian Kinsler, who should now be considered one of the premiere second basemen in the game. Kinsler set career highs in just about every statistical category in '08. In 518 ABs, Kinsler hit .319 (4th in the AL) with a .375 OBP (11th in the AL) and a .517 SLG, had 18 HRs, 41 doubles (11th in the AL), 4 triples, scored 102 runs (8th in the AL), and drove in 71 from the leadoff spot on the Rangers. He was also 26 for 28 in stolen bases (10th in the AL) and had a 25-game hitting streak. Unfortunately, Kinsler missed about a quarter of the season, due to a severe sports hernia that required surgery. Had he stayed healthy, he most certainly would have had his second 20-20 season in as many years. Last year, he had 20 HRs and 23 SBs. And how many runs would Kinsler have scored with Hamilton, Bradley, Young, Davis, and Murphy locked in behind him? As it is, Pedroia led the league with 118 runs scored. You have to figure Kinsler would have wound up with at least 125 runs, the way he was going. Also had a shot at the batting title. Also had a shot at driving in 100 runs - as a leadoff man. Also had a shot at 200+ hits and 50+ doubles. Would he have done all these things? Sadly, we'll never know. Still a phenomenal season for the 26-year old slugger. I have a feeling the best is yet to come.

We had Ryan Braun, who proved there's no such thing as a sophomore slump - at least not for this former Rookie of the Year. In 611 ABs, Braun hit .285 with a .335 OBP and a .553 SLG (5th in NL), had 37 HRs (4th in NL), 39 doubles, 7 triples (6th in NL), scored 92 runs, and drove in 106 (9th in NL). Braun also had 14 SBs and finished second to Pujols in total bases with 338, though he led the league for most of the season. He did, however, finish first in the NL in extra base hits with 83. Braun's average was down from the .324 mark he set last season, but that's mostly because of a September Swoon. Still, when the Brewers needed a big hit, Braun elevated his game and as a result the Brewers made the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. In the home run derby, Braun hit 14 HRs total in the first two rounds, finishing third overall in the derby. And if you didn't see it, none of them were cheapies; he really hit some mammoth shots. Braun also had a change of scenery this season, making the move from third base (where he struggled in '07) to left field. Though Braun is obviously still learning the position, he had 9 assists and didn't commit an error all year. The future looks bright for Braun. Very bright.

We had Gabe Kapler, who was a force this year for the Brewers in limited playing time. In 229 ABs, Kapler hit .301 (highest average since 2000) with a .340 OBP and a .498 SLG (a career best), had 8 HRs (most since 2001), 17 doubles (most since 2001), 2 triples, scored 36 runs, and drove in 38 (most since 2001). His .838 OPS was a career high, edging out the .833 OPS he had in 2000. Kapler was also the team's best pinch hitter, batting .323 with 2 HRs and 8 RBIs. And who can forget that game at Dodger Stadium where Kapler jumped into the stands and robbed Russell Martin of a home run? Catch of the year, IMO. And that walk-off home run off the left field foul pole in the bottom of the 13th against Washington... money. It was Kapler's first career walk-off home run. It was also his 2nd extra-inning walk-off hit this season. Finally, Kapler broke up Chris Young's bid for a perfect game with a home run in the 8th inning against the Padres. Braun and Kapler, all hail the Brew Jew Crew!

We had Kevin Youkilis, who was wicked good for Boston this season. In 538 ABs, Youkilis hit .312 (6th in AL) with a .390 OBP (6th in AL) and a .569 SLG (3rd in AL), had 29 HRs (12th in AL), 43 doubles (7th in AL), 4 triples, scored 91 runs, and drove in 115 (4th in AL). Additonally, Youkilis had 306 total bases (8th in AL). Like Kinsler, Youk set career highs in just about every statistical category. His name has even been floating around as an MVP candidate - and deservedly so. Other candidates include teammate Dustin Pedroia and Justin Morneau of the Twins. Youkilis beat Morneau in average, OBP, SLG, OPS, extra base hits, and home runs. The gold glover played mostly at first, but did a good job filling in for Mike Lowell at third for part of the season. One other thing: he hit .374 with runners in scoring position. Like I said, this guy is wicked good. Who needs Manny?

We had 8 greats in '08, 4 at the plate, and 4 aces.

From an historical perspective: Unless I'm mistaken, the last time 3 Jews made the all-star team was 1939, with Hank Greenberg, Harry Danning, and Morrie Arnovich. Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols are the only 2 players in MLB history to hit 30 or more HRs in each of their first two seasons. How cool is that! Other than Greenberg and Green, Youkilis and Kinsler are the only other Jews to hit 40 or more doubles in a season. Youkilis has done it twice now. Braun nearly did it with his 39 this season. Buddy Myer hit 38 in 1932. Green did it 3 times. Greenberg did it 5 times. And other than Greenberg and Green, Braun is the only other Jew to hit 30 or more HRs and 30 or more doubles in a season. I know, this one was a shocker for me, too. Rosen and Gordon were close, but couldn't quite do it. Youkilis needed only 1 more HR this year to do it. Greenberg and Green each did it 4 times. Of course, Greenberg and Green also hit 40 or more HRs and 40 or more doubles. Green did it once. Greenberg did it twice. Something else Braun nearly did this season. Youk, Kid Kinsler, and Braunsy have a long way to go before they even approach what Green and Greenberg accomplished in their distinguished careers, but you know something? I think we're going to enjoy the journey.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Another Curtain Call For Braun, Another Meltdown For The Mets

It's official: the Brewers are going to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. And who do they have to thank for it? Obviously, they couldn't have done it without the Herculean effort from Carsten Charles Sabathia with his 3rd consecutive start on 3 days' rest. But Ryan Braun's late game heroics have been nothing short of spectacular the last few days. With the score all knotted up at 1 apiece in the bottom of the eighth inning, Braun sent a Bob Howry fastball deep into the Milwaukee bullpen, giving the Brewers a 3-1 lead and catapulting them into the playoffs. It was Braun's 37th home run of the season, and just like his 36th it was a big one. And in a post-game interview, Braun gave credit to Ned Yost for what he did for the ball club. Classy move, I approve.

But baseball is not without harmony. Unfortunately for Scott Schoeneweis and the Mets, things worked out a bit differently. Schoeneweis gave up the go-ahead run to the Marlins in the eighth and picked up the loss.

So, Scott is one of the goats while Ryan is floating on air. But you know, you can't have it both ways. Something had to give.

Congrats to Ryan and his Brew Crew. Good luck against the Fightin' Phils. And chin up, Scott. One bad pitch doesn't negate a great season.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Big Night For Us

Craig Breslow - scoreless inning of relief for the surging Twins against their rivals, the Chi Sox.

Scott Schoeneweis - scoreless inning of relief against my Cubbies.

John Grabow - scoreless inning of relief for the Bucs against the Brewers.

Kevin Youkilis - 2 for 3 with a walk, a HR (28th), 2 runs scored (90), and 2 RBIs (113)
What a year for Youk... MVP?

And the man of the hour...

Ryan Braun - Of late it's been a struggle for the young slugger, but tonight he came through when it mattered most. The Mets had come from behind to beat the Cubs earlier tonight, so the ball was in the Brewers' court. With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the tenth, Braun came up with the bases loaded and 2 outs. He was 0 for his last 4 before he launched a walk-off grand slam into the left field seats, keeping the Brewers' playoff hopes alive. The moonshot was his 36th jack of the year. Talk about clutch. Way to go Braunsy!

And in related news, the ball still hasn't come down yet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Upon Further Review...

I'm not sure I made the right decision in cutting Phil Weintraub from the 25-man playoff roster. I just found out that he did something unbelievable back in the day. In 1944 in only 361 ABs, Weintraub hit .316 with a .412 OBP, 13 HRs, 18 doubles, 9 triples, and had 77 RBIs.

Here's the kicker: he had 11 RBIs in one game! The record, by the way, is 12. Only 13 players in MLB history have had 10 or more RBIs in a game. Among them are Alex Rodriguez (10 in 2005), Garret Anderson (10 in 2007), Nomar Garciaparra (10 in 1999), Fred Lynn (10 in 1975), Reggie Jackson (10 in 1969), Rudy York (10 in 1946), and Tony Lazzeri (11 in 1936). So it's a pretty exclusive/elite club.
Also, according to Baseball Almanac getting 10 or more RBIs in a game is even rarer than a perfect game (something Koufax did) and hitting 4 HRs in a game (something Green did).

If I were to add Weintraub onto the roster, I'd have to cut either Goody Rosen or Morrie Arnovich. Tough call. As always, your input would be appreciated. If enough people are pro-Weintraub, I could be swayed...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Make Room for Marquis, Sweet Lou!

Jason Marquis has come up big a few times this year, none bigger than his win a few weeks ago against the Reds. Context: the Cubs had lost six games in a row and were well on their way to living up to their infamous acronym of "Completely Useless By September." A typical Cubs collapse was in the works, but not if Marquis had anything to say about it.

Marquis went 7 strong innings, giving up only two runs. He also homered in the game. When push came to shove, it was Marquis - not Zambrano - not Dempster - not Lilly - not Harden - who was the stopper.

I actually saw Marquis in person last month in Pittsburgh; he was lights out. His last outing against Houston was a quality start as well.

And tonight he had yet another strong outing against the Mets, notching his eleventh victory of the season. He also hit a grand slam and had 5 RBIs on the day, giving him 10 RBIs on the year. The last Jewish pitcher to hit a grand slam was Saul Rogovin of the Detroit Tigers in 1950.

No disrespect to Sean Marshall, but he's only had 6 starts this season for the Cubs. Marquis has had 28.

Marquis brings with him grit and veteran leadership. Marshall brings inexperience and lots of question marks. Come to think of it, this sort of mirrors the election this year. Only my positions are reversed for that.

My vote goes to Marquis in October.

And Obama in November.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Tribute to Sid Gordon

Sid Gordon, a name synonymous with... anonymity. Largely forgotten, this outstanding outfielder had a career worthy of high praise and remembrance. He played from 1941-1955, mostly for the New York Giants and the Boston Braves. Despite losing two years to the Coast Guard in WWII, Gordon's numbers are rather impressive.

He hit 25 or more HRs 5 years in a row (1948-1952). In 1948, he hit 30 HRs with 26 doubles, scored 100 runs, and drove in 107 RBIs with a .299 average and a .390 OBP. He finished 4th in MVP voting. The following year, he hit .284 with 26 HRs, a .404 OBP, 26 doubles, 87 runs scored, and 90 RBIs.

In 1950, he hit .304 with 27 HRs, 33 doubles, 78 runs scored, 103 RBIs, and had a .403 OBP. In 1951, he eclipsed the 100 RBI mark for the third and final time with 109 while hitting .287, 29 HRs, 28 doubles, and scoring 96 runs. The following year he hit .289 with 25 HRs, 22 doubles, and had 75 RBIs. In 1953, he would hit 22 doubles and have 75 RBIs once again while slamming 19 HRs. Career-wise, he hit .283 with a .377 OBP and a .466 SLG, 202 HRs, 220 doubles, 43 triples, 735 runs scored, 805 RBIs, and accumulated 1415 hits. Like Buddy Myer before him, Gordon walked more than he struck out in every season he played in. He had 731 BBs versus 356 SOs, never once striking out 50 times in a season, a truly remarkable feat for a power hitter. He had a SLG of .500 or above 4 separate times and an OBP of .400 or above 3 separate times. Had 7 career grand slams. Hit 4 grand slams in 1950 for the Braves and 3 grand slams in 1948 for the Giants.

In 1947, he had 13 assists from the outfield. In 1953, he had 10. The vast majority of his career was spent in the outfield, but he also played 454 games at third base.

Gordon was only voted an all-star twice in his illustrious career, but in the hearts and minds of all Jewish fans his star will always shine.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Highly Anticipated Breakdown

So some of you might be thinking, "Is this guy on crack? Where the hell is Lou Boudreau, Brad Ausmus, and Mike Lieberthal?!"

Here's the thing: I'm a bit of a stickler when it comes to who qualifies as being Jewish and who doesn't. I'm not orthodox or anything. Just anal, I guess. All of these guys had mixed parents. That doesn't mean an iota to me. Are they religious? Again, doesn't factor into the equation for me. (God knows I'm not!)

But were they raised as Jews? Now that - that does complicate things. Unfortunately, none of the above players were raised as Jews. I can tell you from personal experience what this is like, as I happen to have three cousins with mixed parents. All were raised as Catholics. It's not that I have anything against other religious denominations. Just when it comes to making a list like this, I would prefer to avoid any controversy.

As for Rod Carew, he married a Jewish woman and raised his children accordingly. But he never formerly converted to Judaism. And even if he had, I still would stubbornly leave him off this list. Like I said, I'm a stickler. Same thing applies to Joe Horlen and Steve Yeager. They did convert to Judaism later in life, but you won't find either one of them in here.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this, as I'm not entirely sure I made the right decision... it is somewhat of a touchy issue.

Now, for the nitty-gritty. Some of my picks, like Greenberg and Koufax, don't require an explanation. So I'll gloss over them for now. There will be time enough to talk about their greatness in the future.

Lesser known (but still great) players deserve recognition.

Players like Buddy Myer (1925-1941). 2131 hits, 1174 runs scored, 353 doubles, 130 triples, 850 RBIs, .303 average, .389 OBP. Impressive, no? In 1935 for the Washington Senators, he was the AL batting champ with a ridiculous .349 average and a .440 OBP, racking up 215 hits, 36 doubles, scoring 115 runs, and driving in 100 RBIs. He finished 4th in MVP voting that year, losing to none other than Hammerin' Hank Greenberg. His 460 putouts in 1935 rank 9th all time among second basemen. In 1938, he hit .336 and had a .454 OBP. Stole 156 total bases, 30 of them coming in 1928 when he finished 9th in MVP voting. Scored 90 or more runs 6 times. Scored 100 or more runs 4 times. Something else to chew on: he had more walks than strikeouts in EVERY SEASON HE PLAYED IN. Had 965 BBs versus 428 SOs. Hit 20 or more doubles 9 times. Hit 30 or more doubles 4 times. Hit 10 or more triples 7 times. Hit .300 or above 8 times. Had 160 or more hits in 8 consecutive seasons. This guy was the real deal. Myer was primarily used as a second baseman, but as we're a little short on shortstops his 238 career games at the position will have to suffice. Not in Cooperstown, but a strong case could be made for him being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Greenberg, Green, Gordon, Rosen... we'll get to these guys. All in good time.

Harry Danning... we'll get to him right now. Danning was a teammate of Sid Gordon's on the New York Giants for awhile. A 4-time all-star, his numbers from 1937-1942 are pretty solid. He hit .300 or above 3 years in a row, socking 16 homers one season. He hit 20 or more doubles 5 years in a row; 34 was his high. In 1940, he had 91 RBIs. The year before, he had 74. This guy could flat out rake. Not the best defensive catcher, but we'll take what we can get.

Ryan Braun and Ian Kinsler are stars on the rise. They're also young. Assuming they can stay healthy, the sky's the limit for these guys. More on them at a later date when I look at 2008: A Year in Review.

As for our bench players, let me just say this. If we played under American League rules and had a DH, I would make Greenberg the DH and put the gold glover Youkilis at first. But if we're going by the National League, at this point in Youkilis' career I cannot in good conscience start him at third over Al Rosen. When it's all said and done, who knows? The only thing working against Youkilis is time. He'll turn 30 next March. So you gotta figure he has another 4 or 5 productive seasons left in him. Maybe more. Maybe less. Either way, Jewkilis has really emerged as one of the best players in the game today. An excellent fielder, he is capable of playing first base, third base, outfield, and has even logged in some time at second. More on him later.

Mike "Superjew" Epstein, Ron "Boomer" Blomberg, and Art Shamsky give this team some much needed left-handed power off the bench. Epstein hit 130 career HRs when he played from 1966-1974. He had a career-best 30 HRs (9th in AL) and 85 RBIs in 1969. His OBP was .414 (3rd in AL) and his SLG was .551 (6th in AL). He also hit 3 HRs in 1 game that season. Finished 25th in MVP voting. The following season he had 8 RBIs in 1 game. In 1972, he had a .376 OBP (6th in AL), a .490 SLG (5th in AL), and hit 26 HRs (3rd in AL). Finished 16th in MVP voting. Something you may not know: Ted Williams was his manager for a few years on the Washington Senators. So he learned from the best. Wasn't a contact hitter, but despite a pedestrian .244 career average, his OBP was .358. Partly because he got hit by a lot of pitches. Mostly because he had a good eye.

Blomberg was baseball's first designated hitter (which is perhaps a dubious honor). His career, which once seemed so promising, was mired in injuries. Still, when he did play he was rather productive. Had he stayed healthy, he might have had some monster seasons. As it is though in 1333 total ABs, his average stands at .293. In 1973, he hit .329 with 12 HRs in 301 ABs. The following year he hit .311 with 10 HRs in 264 ABs. He hit 14 HRs and 22 doubles in 1972 in only 299 ABs. What might have been...

Art Shamsky, part of that 'Mazin' Mets squad from '69, brings a lot to the table with his live bat. In 1966, he hit a whopping 21 home runs in just 234 ABs. That's absurd. At that pace with 600 ABs, he would have hit around 60 that year. 60! In 1969, he hit .300 in 303 ABs. And in 1970, he hit .293 in 403 ABs. One other thing that gives him an edge over some other guys was his performance in the postseason in '69. In 6 ABs in the World Series, he laid a goose egg. However, in the NLCS he was 7 for 13. Overall: .368 in 6 games.

Gabe Kapler is someone I'm sure you're familiar with. His career started off well enough, going yard 49 times in his first 3 seasons. In 2000 for the Rangers, he hit .302 with 14 HRs, 32 doubles, and had 66 RBIs. He also had a 28-game hitting streak, which is a record for the Rangers. The following year he hit 17 HRs, 29 doubles, and had 72 RBIs. Also swiped 23 bags. Since 2001, Kapler has had a major power outage and has been relegated to a role player. But a valuable role player nonetheless. He and Youkilis were part of that great Red Sox team in '04 that gave Boston its first World Series in 86 years. But Kapler isn't in the past tense yet. '08 was by far his best season since 2001. In only 229 ABs, Kapler hit .301, 8 HRs, and 17 two-baggers. His slugging percentage was a robust .498. To put it in perspective: Kapler wasn't even playing a year ago! Personally, I think this 33-year old veteran still has some gas left in the tank and fire in his belly...

Whew, this is taking longer than I thought it would. I suppose this interrupts the momentum I had. Oh well, the flow must go on!

In 1945, Goody Rosen hit an astounding .325 in 606 ABs, finishing 10th in MVP voting. He also hit 24 doubles, 11 triples, 12 home runs, and had 75 RBIs. He scored 126 runs and racked up 197 hits. In 1938, he led the NL in assists from the outfield with 19. And in 1940 in only 65 games he had 12 assists from the outfield. The rest of his war-shortened career is more ho-hum, but for one magical season Goody Rosen was in a league of his own.

Morrie Arnovich, another player whose career suffered because of WWII. Still, from 1937-1939 this guy was in the zone. He had 25 or more doubles and 60 or more RBIs in all three of those seasons. In 1938, he had 18 assists from the outfield. In 1939, he hit .324 in 491 ABs and finished 18th in MVP voting.

Enough with the hitting already! Let's get to the pitching. I'll skip Koufax and Holtzman and save them for a rainy day.

Steve Stone, AKA the last Jewish pitcher to win Cy Young. He won the prestigious award in 1980 with the Baltimore Orioles. He was 25-7 in 250 innings of work with a 3.23 ERA and 149 strikeouts. In 1972, his ERA was 2.98 for the Giants in 123 innings of work. In 1979, he was 11-7 with a 3.77 ERA in 186 innings. Overall, he was 107-93 with a 3.97 ERA in 1788 innings. Solid. The best righty starter we have. Period.

Dave Roberts, the guy who steals bases? No, not that guy. This ace pitched mostly in the '70s and just might be the most underappreciated player on this list. Had 103 wins against 125 losses. But don't let the win-loss record fool you. Dave Roberts never, ever got run support with his 3.78 ERA over the course of the 2099 innings he pitched in his Major League career. His best years came in 1971 and 1973 with the Padres and the Astros. In '71, he was filthy with a 2.10 ERA in 269 innings of work. And yet inexplicably he had a losing record of 14-17, and as a result finished 6th in Cy Young voting. Lame. In '73, he was 17-11 with a 2.85 ERA in 249 innings. Didn't even finish in the top 10 for Cy Young voting. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. By my count, Roberts had another 5 very respectable seasons. The ONLY reason I have Steve Stone ahead of him in the rotation is because Roberts was a lefty, and we already have two lefties (Koufax and Holtzman) on the bump before him. And get this: the man could really rake. In 531 ABs, he amassed 103 hits with a .194 average, 7 HRs, 4 triples, 15 doubles, 28 runs scored, and 46 RBIs. Looks like Jason Marquis has some competition.

You'll also notice it's a four-man rotation. I did this deliberately, as most MLB teams use this formula in the playoffs.

Onto the bullpen. I've got to start with Larry Sherry. Namely because he was the 1959 World Series MVP for the Dodgers. And because he was a helluva relief pitcher. He was a model of consistency in his 11-year career, with an ERA of 3.67 in 799 innings of work. Had a 53-44 record with 82 saves. Big time. Could also swing the bat a little, too. He hit .169 with 3 homers in 148 ABs.

Scott Radinsky, the dreaded lefty specialist. Statistically, he is arguably the best Jewish reliever in the mix. Career ERA of 3.44 in 481 innings of work. 42-25 record with 52 saves. That's a winning percentage of .627 FYI. Didn't give up the long ball very much either. Only 33 were hit off him. Had 5 seasons with an ERA under 3.00. One season was nearly under 2.00. Need I say more?

Al Levine, 3.96 ERA in 575 innings of work. 2 seasons with an ERA under 4.00, 2 additional seasons with an ERA under 3.00.

Barry Latman, solid as a rock with a 3.91 ERA in 1219 innings of work. Another pitcher with anemic run support. He was mostly a starter in his career, but for our purposes we'll stick him in the bullpen. In 1952, his ERA was 0.76 in 47 innings. Thought that might interest you.

Saul Rogovin, 4.06 ERA in 883 innings of work. He was also predominantly a starter. His best season came in 1951 where he was 12-8 with a 2.78 ERA in 216 innings. In 1952, he was 14-9 with a 3.85 ERA in 231 innings. And finally in 1955, he was 6-11 with a 3.81 ERA in 144 innings. Poor run support is becoming a theme here... on a happier note though, he was another pitcher who could swing the bat pretty well. In 300 ABs, he hit .180 with 3 HRs, 10 doubles, scored 29 runs, and had 24 RBIs. Not too shabby.

Last but not least, we have Harry Eisenstat, the one-time teammate of Hank Greenberg and Goody Rosen. This one was a tossup between him, Harry Feldman, and Jason Marquis. Eisenstat's ERA is 3.84 in 478 innings of work. Feldman's is 3.80 in 666 innings of work. Ultimately, I picked Eisenstat over Feldman because by my count Eisenstat had 6 good seasons while Feldman had 4.5 and Marquis has had 3. Coincidentally, all of these guys can hit, too. Eisenstat hit .211 in 123 ABs with an OBP of .271. Feldman hit .172, 2 HRs, scored 27 runs, and drove in 20 in 220 ABs. And we know Marquis can hit. In 441 ABs, his average is .206. He has 5 HRs, 25 doubles, 2 triples, 50 runs scored, and has driven in 40.

So who else got cut, other than Marquis and Feldman? As far as pitchers go, it was Mike Koplove (not enough innings) and Scott Schoeneweis (not enough consistency). Although it should be noted that Schoeneweis is having a great season this year. So is Craig Breslow on the Twins and John Grabow on the Pirates. But more on them later.

As far as hitters go, the notables include Phil Weintraub, Richie Scheinblum, Norm Sherry, Mo Berg, and Cal Abrams. Weintraub and Abrams were the hardest the cut.

That's all for now. I'm bushed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The 25-Man All-Jewish Team Playoff Roster

"There's only one October," and it's just around the corner. So I thought this would be apropos.

For now, all I can give you is a list. Why? Because I get off on withholding - and making obscure references to Arrested Development...

Stay tuned for a more in-depth analysis that breaks down why I picked these players, who was borderline, who got cut, and what exactly my criteria was.

First Base: Hank Greenberg
Second Base: Ian Kinsler
Shortstop: Buddy Myer
Third Base: Al Rosen
Catcher: Harry Danning
Right Field: Sid Gordon
Center Field: Shawn Green
Left Field: Ryan Braun

Kevin Youkilis
Mike Epstein
Ron Blomberg
Gabe Kapler
Art Shamsky
Morrie Arnovich
Goody Rosen

Starting Rotation:
1. Sandy Koufax
2. Ken Holtzman
3. Steve Stone
4. Dave Roberts

Larry Sherry
Scott Radinsky
Al Levine
Barry Latman
Saul Rogovin
Harry Eisenstat

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

To Begin With...

Greetings and salutations readers. If you haven't guessed already, I'm a pretty big baseball fan. I'm also a non-practicing Jew. But I take pride in what my fellow mensches have accomplished, especially when it comes to athletics - because, let's face it, we haven't exactly taken the sports world by storm. Until recently, that is.

The resurgence of Jewish talent in baseball in the last few years has caught my eye and stirred something in my soul. In light of this "awakening," I've become somewhat of an authority on the subject. Although I suppose that's not entirely accurate; I'm a self-proclaimed authority on the subject.

Therefore, I feel obligated to prove myself to you so you know I'm not some jackass poseur who thinks the blogosphere revolves around him. I like to think I've done my homework. However, as we're all fallible if I do slip up or overlook something, please correct me, call me on my bullshit, and I will put a dunce cap on for your entertainment. That and rectify the mistake.

Finally, nothing is taboo here. I'm well aware of the fact that baseball isn't the only sport that Jews have thrived in. It just happens to be the one I'm most interested in. But on occasion we may venture into other sports. And if that's the case, I will humbly defer to your expertise. But fair warning: I'm no slouch when it comes to football and basketball...

Now that I've introduced myself properly and likely alienated half of my readership, we can get started. Let's talk baseball!