Tuesday, January 27, 2009

These Cleats Are Made for Walkin'

*Led AL/NL
*1. Hank Greenberg - 119 BBs (1938, Detroit Tigers)
*2. Hank Greenberg - 104 BBs (1947, Pittsburgh Pirates)
3. Hank Greenberg - 102 BBs (1937, Detroit Tigers)
3. Buddy Myer - 102 BBs (1934, Washington Senators)
4. Al Rosen - 100 BBs (1950, Cleveland Indians)
5. Buddy Myer - 96 BBs (1935, Washington Senators)
6. Sid Gordon - 95 BBs (1949, New York Giants)
7. Shawn Green - 93 BBs (2002, Los Angeles Dodgers)
7. Hank Greenberg - 93 BBs (1940, Detroit Tigers)
7. Buddy Myer - 93 BBs (1938, Washington Senators)
8. Al Rosen - 92 BBs (1955, Cleveland Indians)
9. Kevin Youkilis - 91 BBs (2006, Boston Red Sox)
9. Hank Greenberg - 91 BBs (1939, Detroit Tigers)
10. Shawn Green - 90 BBs (2000, Los Angeles Dodgers)
11. Cal Abrams - 89 BBs (1955, Baltimore Orioles)
12. Hank Greenberg - 87 BBs (1935, Detroit Tigers)
13. Mike Epstein - 85 BBs (1969, Washington Senators)
13. Al Rosen - 85 BBs (1954, Cleveland Indians)
13. Al Rosen - 85 BBs (1953, Cleveland Indians)
13. Al Rosen - 85 BBs (1951, Cleveland Indians)
14. Cal Abrams - 82 BBs (1954, Pittsburgh Pirates/Baltimore Orioles)
15. Sid Gordon - 80 BBs (1951, Boston Braves)
15. Hank Greenberg - 80 BBs (1946, Detroit Tigers)
16. Sid Gordon - 78 BBs (1950, Boston Braves)
16. Buddy Myer - 78 BBs (1937, Washington Senators)
17. Kevin Youkilis - 77 BBs (2007, Boston Red Sox)
17. Sid Gordon - 77 BBs (1952, Boston Braves)
18. Al Rosen - 75 BBs (1952, Cleveland Indians)
19. Mike Epstein - 74 BBs (1971, Washington Senators/Oakland Athletics)
19. Sid Gordon - 74 BBs (1948, New York Giants)
20. Mike Epstein - 73 BBs (1970, Washington Senators)
21. Shawn Green - 72 BBs (2001, Los Angeles Dodgers)
22. Shawn Green - 71 BBs (2004, Los Angeles Dodgers)
22. Sid Gordon - 71 BBs (1953, Milwaukee Braves)
23. Brad Ausmus - 69 BBs (2000, Detroit Tigers)
23. Buddy Myer - 69 BBs (1932, Washington Senators)
24. Shawn Green - 68 BBs (2003, Los Angeles Dodgers)
24. Mike Epstein - 68 BBs (1972, Oakland Athletics)
25. Sid Gordon - 67 BBs (1954, Pittsburgh Pirates)

Honorable Mentions:
Lou Boudreau - 98 BBs (1948, Cleveland Indians)
Lou Boudreau - 90 BBs (1943, Cleveland Indians)
Lou Boudreau - 85 BBs (1941, Cleveland Indians)
Lou Boudreau - 75 BBs (1942, Cleveland Indians)
Lou Boudreau - 73 BBs (1940, Cleveland Indians)
Lou Boudreau - 73 BBs (1944, Cleveland Indians)
Lou Boudreau - 70 BBs (1949, Cleveland Indians)
Lou Boudreau - 67 BBs (1947, Cleveland Indians)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Never Touch a Hot Stove without a (Gold) Glove

January 21, 2009: Brad Ausmus signs a 1-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

My Take: The Dodgers can't seem to get enough of us, but don't expect Ausmus to get too much action behind the plate. In the last 2 seasons, Russell Martin has missed a total of 18 games; that's slim pickings for a backup. Still, Martin did dabble a little at third base in 2008. So if the Dodgers think he's just the bee's knees and are at all interested in saving his knees, they might alternate between Martin and Casey Blake at the hot corner. Undoubtedly, Ausmus will have to make the most of his playing time. However, even if he has another less than stellar offensive season, he's close enough to a few benchmarks where it shouldn't matter. He needs 1 more HR for 80 and 4 more RBIs for 600. Those seem like gimmes to me. In addition, Buddy Myer's 1,923 games played tops the list for Jewish players; Ausmus needs only 10 more games to pass him up. Also seems like a gimme. And finally... who wouldn't want to play for Joe Torre?

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Tip of the Yarmulke to The Baseball Talmud

Howard Megdal, author of The Baseball Talmud, was kind enough to send me a copy of his book recently. The book chronicles and ranks Jewish baseball players position-by-position since the game's inception and is an excellent reference for anyone interested in the subject (Pretty much a given if you're reading this blog entry right now). All of the players hitherto mentioned on Jews in Baseball are analyzed and humanized by Megdal. There are also many, many more players that I haven't even scratched the surface with. Players like Andy Cohen, Moe Berg, and Jose Bautista.

And for anyone who belongs to the Bill James' school of thought, Megdal is a huge proponent of sabermetrics. Of course, he provides you with the traditional statistics, but he goes into greater depth with nifty stats like VORP, WARP, and Pythagorean won-loss record. Megdal also digs up remarkable numbers that often go overlooked (like Lou Boudreau's walk/strikeout ratio in 1948: 98/9). Megdal even enlists the help of a baseball statistician to figure out how effective the All-Jewish team would be in a neutral environment. I won't give away anything. Let's just say they wouldn't be pushovers...At first, I thought I would skim through The Baseball Talmud and only check out my favorite players, but I really couldn't put it down; it's extremely immersive. From cover to cover, you'll learn something new about players you thought you already knew everything about. You'll see names long forgotten by most fans that conjure up images of different eras, egos, and ballparks. You'll be reminded of how good some of these players were. You'll be encouraged to see how good some of the current players are - and still can be. Most of all, you'll be filled with an indescribable sense of pride. When you see the formidable All-Time Jewish Team Megdal puts together, you may even let your imagination run wild and envision "the eventual cosmic baseball tournament between religions."

The Baseball Talmud will hit stores on March 31, 2009. Get it, enjoy it, and call it an early Hanukkah present. If you'd like to pre-order a copy, simply follow the link provided below.

The Baseball Talmud at Amazon.com

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Four More Years! Four More Years!

For Kevin Youkilis and the Red Sox. Youkilis has reportedly agreed to a four-year deal worth approximately $40 million. The deal includes an option for a 5th year.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3835955 My take: With Pedroia and Youkilis locked up, the Red Sox are poised to be a force in the AL East for years to come. A wise decision by Youk to stick with a winning franchise. And a wise decision by the front office to stick with a proven winner.

Monday, January 12, 2009

2008-2009 Hot Stove Report Continued

January 12, 2009: Gabe Kapler signs a 1-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.

My take: Move over, Gabe Gross. There's a new Gabe in town! With B.J. Upton's health in question and Rocco Baldelli recently signing with the Red Sox, Kapler will be a welcome addition to a ball club that is already very good. Assuming Pat Burrell becomes a DH, Kapler will be patrolling the outfield with Upton, Gross, Carl Crawford, Ben Zobrist (how is he NOT Jewish?), and Matt Joyce. Hopefully, the Rays don't have so much depth in their outfield that Kapler is the odd man out. My guess is he'll get anywhere from 150 ABs to 300 ABs, depending on injuries and how Zobrist and Joyce develop. In all likelihood, Kapler will be the Rays' 4th outfielder, but you never know.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Tribute to Dave Roberts

When you think of lefty Jewish pitchers, Koufax and Holtzman immediately come to mind. Dave Roberts was another lefty starter who had an impact on the game of baseball. He played for 8 teams from 1969-1981. His best years were with the San Diego Padres and the Houston Astros. He was also a late addition to the "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates in '79 when they won the World Series. That year as a swingman, he was 5-2 with 1 save and a 3.26 ERA in 38 innings.

His best year in The Show came in 1971, where he had a 2.10 ERA (2nd in NL behind Tom Seaver) in 269 innings for the Padres. He had 14 complete games (10th in NL). Obviously, the 14-17 record doesn't even come close to telling the whole story. Roberts finished 24th in MVP voting and 6th in Cy Young voting. His 2nd best season came 2 years later for the Astros in 1973. He was 17-11 with a 2.85 ERA (10th in NL) in 249 innings. He had 12 complete games (8th in NL); 6 of them were shutouts (2nd in NL). The following year he had a 3.40 ERA in 204 innings. Again, the 10-12 record is a bit misleading. The 8 complete games is not. Over the next 3 seasons, Roberts' ERA was 4.14 in 632 innings. His record? An undeserving 29-42. Run support he did not have. He had 16 wins in 1976 for the Tigers with a 4.00 ERA in 252 innings. In addition, he had 18 complete games (9th in AL); 4 of them were shutouts (5th in AL).

Overall, he was 103-125 with a 3.78 ERA in 2099 innings. He had 77 complete games and 20 shutouts. Also had 15 saves. Among Jewish pitchers, he ranks 3rd in career games behind Scott Radinsky and Holtzman. He's 4th in wins and strikeouts (957) behind Koufax, Holtzman, and Steve Stone. Roberts was also a very good hitter. In 531 ABs, he hit .194 with 7 HRs, 15 doubles, 4 triples, 46 RBIs, and 28 runs scored.

A few days ago, Dave Roberts died of lung cancer at the age of 64. I never knew the man myself, but seeing what he did fills me with pride.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2008-2009 Hot Stove Report

December 12, 2008: Scott Schoeneweis traded to the Diamondbacks for Connor Robertson.
My take: Probably not a bad idea to get out of New York after taking the loss on the last game played at Shea Stadium. With the additions of K-Rod and Putz, I imagine Schoeneweis won't be the only Mets reliever to find a new home. Hopefully, the hitter-friendly Chase Field won't present too much of a challenge for Scott. If Bob Melvin is indeed Jewish, that makes this trade a little sexier for us. And if Mike Koplove ever returns, we could see some double-barreled action in the pen. Also, Josh Whitesell is a young up-and-comer who should be on your radar.

January 6, 2009: Jason Marquis traded to the Rockies for Luis Vizcaino.

My take: A perplexing trade from the Cubs, but then they're the Cubs. Coors Field is notoriously a hitter's ballpark, but Marquis has pitched surprisingly well there in his career. In 4 starts at Coors, he is 3-0 with a 2.02 ERA in 26 innings. The fact that the ball carries like crazy in Colorado should pay dividends when Marquis is at the plate. Hopefully, it won't adversely affect him on the mound. At any rate, he'll have to rely on his sinker more than ever. On the Cubs, Marquis was the 5th starter. On the Rockies, look for him to be moved up in the rotation. Interesting to note that he could be pitching alongside Jason Hirsh.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Greatest Tandems

1. Sandy Koufax and Larry Sherry (1959-1963) - This Dodgers dynamic duo won 2 World Series together. Sherry was the 1959 WS MVP. Koufax was the 1963 WS MVP. Sherry finished 20th in MVP voting in 1960. Koufax finished 18th in MVP voting in 1961 and 24th the following year. In 1963, Koufax won MVP and Cy Young. Larry's brother, Norm, was also on the team from 1959-1962.

2. Ken Holtzman and Mike Epstein (1972) - It was a very good year if you were an Oakland A's fan. Not so much if you loved The Big Red Machine. The A's beat the Reds in the World Series, thanks in large part to a solid effort off the mound from Holtzman. Mike Epstein easily had his 2nd best year in The Show while Holtzman arguably had his best. Epstein finished 16th in MVP voting. Holtzman posted a career-best 2.51 ERA in 265 innings. His 16 complete games tied a career-high. Joe Horlen, who would later convert to Judaism, was also on the team. He was 3-4 with 1 save and a 3.00 ERA in 84 innings.

3. Lou Boudreau and Harry Eisenstat (1939-1942) - Eisenstat and Boudreau were teammates for 4 seasons on the Cleveland Indians. They were Boudreau's first 4 seasons and Eisenstat's last 4 seasons. Boudreau drove in 101 runs in 1940 and scored 97 runs. The following year he scored 95 runs. He had back-to-back seasons with 45 or more doubles, 8 or more triples, and 9 or more HRs. He finished 5th in MVP voting in 1940, 17th in 1941, and 10th in 1942. Eisenstat wasn't so bad himself. He had an ERA of 3.30 in 103 innings in 1939. In 1940, it was 3.14 in 71 innings. And in 1942, it was 2.45 (a career-low) in 47 innings. All told, he was 10-13 with 10 saves and a 3.22 ERA in 257 innings.

4. Hank Greenberg and Harry Eisenstat (1938) - Long before Roger Maris came along to challenge Babe Ruth's single-season home run record, Greenberg made his own historic run at it. In 1938, he hit an astounding 58 HRs. In addition, his .438 OBP, .683 SLG, and 1.121 OPS were all career-highs. He finished 3rd in MVP voting. Eisenstat's stats pale in comparison, but 1938 was arguably his best season. He was 9-6 with 4 saves and had a 3.73 ERA in 125 innings. His 5 complete games tied a career-high.
5. Kevin Youkilis and Gabe Kapler (2004-2006) - Red Sox Nation will forever be grateful for the World Series these two helped bring to Beantown in 2004 after an epic 86-year drought. Not a bad way for the rookie Youkilis to introduce and ingratiate himself with Red Sox fans. In 498 combined ABs, Youkilis and Kapler hit .267 with a .337 OBP and a .400 SLG, had 13 HRs, 25 doubles, drove in 68 runs, and scored 89 runs. A solid contribution to a team of destiny. Additionally, the 2006 squad boasted 4 Jews on its roster: Youkilis, Kapler, Adam Stern, and Craig Breslow. Thank you, Theo.

6. Harry Danning and Harry Feldman (1941-1942)
- This pairing is pretty neat. Danning and Feldman formed the first ever Jewish battery. It came at the twilight of Danning's career and the start of Feldman's. Danning hit .261 with 8 HRs, 42 doubles, 8 triples, drove in 90 runs, and scored 103 runs in the 2 seasons he played with Feldman on the New York Giants. Meanwhile, Feldman was 8-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 134 innings. What's more, Morrie Arnovich was also on the team in '41. He was fairly productive, hitting .280 with a .352 OBP and a .377 SLG, had 2 HRs, 8 doubles, 3 triples, drove in 22 runs, and scored 25 runs in just 207 ABs.

7. Ryan Braun and Gabe Kapler (2008) -
Were both instrumental in getting the Brewers into the playoffs for the first time in 26 years. Braun was especially important to the cause, but Kapler's rejuvenation and veteran leadership had to be a lift for the young ballclub. Braun finished 3rd in MVP voting and won Silver Sluggers while Kapler had his best season since 2001.

8. Saul Rogovin and Marv Rotblatt (1951)
- White Sox teams from the 50's and 60's frequently had good pitching. For 1 year, Rogovin and Rotblatt were part of that good pitching. Rogovin was insanely good in 1951. With the White Sox, he was 11-7 with a 2.48 ERA in 192 innings. Overall that year, he was 12-8 with a 2.78 ERA in 216 innings. It was, by far, Rogovin's best season in The Bigs. Not to be outdone (though he was), Rotblatt also had his best season in The Bigs, going 4-2 with 2 saves and had a 3.40 ERA in 47 innings.

9. Bo Belinsky and Barry Latman (1964) - These Angels were hell-bent on getting opposing hitters out. Belinsky delivered on the promise he showed as a rookie in 1962. He was 9-8 with a 2.86 ERA (a career-best) in 135 innings. Latman, as a swingman, was 6-10 with 2 saves and a 3.85 ERA in 138 innings. Combined, they were 15-18 with a 3.36 ERA in 273 innings.

10. Phil Weintraub and Harry Feldman (1944-1945) - Weintraub came back from the war in 1944 without missing a beat. In the 2 seasons that he played with Feldman on the New York Giants, he hit .297 with a .402 OBP and a .477 SLG, had 23 HRs, 27 doubles, 10 triples, drove in 119 runs, and scored 100 runs in 644 total ABs. In 1944, he set career highs in just about every statistical category. Feldman was equally impressive. He was a work horse, pitching 2 consecutive years with 200 or more innings. In 423 combined innings, Feldman was 23-26 with a 3.70 ERA. In 1945, he set career highs in innings pitched (217) and wins (12). Mike Schemer was also on the team in '45. In 108 ABs, he hit .333 with a .368 OBP and a .407 SLG, had 1 HR, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 10 RBIs, and 10 runs scored.

11. Al Rosen and Lou Boudreau (1948-1950) - This one is a little unusual. Boudreau's best season was in 1948; he was MVP. He hit .355 with a .453 OBP and a .534 SLG, had 18 HRs, 34 doubles, 6 triples, 106 RBIs, and 116 runs scored. All but doubles and triples were career-highs. Rosen didn't do anything in '48 and '49, largely because he got a grand total of 49 ABs. Technically, they won a World Series together in '48, but Rosen could have been a bat boy for all the good he did. Now, 1950 was a different story. For both players, as it turned out. Rosen broke out in a big way in '50. He hit .287 with a .405 OBP and a .543 SLG, had 37 HRs, 23 doubles, 4 triples, 116 RBIs, and 100 runs scored. He finished 17th in MVP voting. In what was to be Boudreau's last season with the Indians (as both a player and a manager), he hit .269 with a .349 OBP and a .346 SLG, had 1 HR, 13 doubles, 2 triples, 29 RBIs, and 23 runs scored in 260 ABs.

12. Al Levine and Scott Schoeneweis (1999-2002) - These two journeymen won a World Series together in 2002 with the Angels. Levine's best years were with Anaheim. Schoeneweis' numbers won't blow you away, but to his credit he did pitch 2 scoreless innings in the World Series.

13. Gabe Kapler and Brad Ausmus (1999) - Kapler makes his 3rd appearance on the list because of his pairing with Ausmus on the Tigers. It was Kapler's rookie year, and it was a decent one. He hit .245 with a .315 OBP and a .447 SLG, had 18 HRs (a career-high), 22 doubles, 4 triples (tying a career-high), stole 11 bases, drove in 49 runs, and scored 60 runs. Ausmus indisputably had his best offensive year, hitting .275 with a .365 OBP (a career-high) and a .415 SLG (a career-high), had 9 HRs (a career-high), 25 doubles (tying a career-best), 6 triples (a career-high), stole 12 bases, drove in 54 runs (a career-high), and scored 62 runs. He was voted an all-star and as usual was excellent behind the plate.

14. Phil Weintraub and Morrie Arnovich (1938) - Before Weintraub and Arnovich went off to fight in the war, they had a brief stint together on the Philadelphia Phillies. Arnovich set career highs in RBIs (72) and doubles (29) while Weintraub set career highs in doubles (23) and OBP (.422). He hit .311 in 351 ABs.

15. Sid Gordon and Goody Rosen (1946) - The 1946 New York Giants had 5 Jews on its roster, the most ever by an MLB team. The 1946 season also marked the end of Goody Rosen's career and the beginning of Sid Gordon's. Rosen finished strong, hitting .281 with a .377 OBP and a .390 SLG, had 5 HRs, 11 doubles, 4 triples, 30 RBIs, and 39 runs scored in 310 ABs. Gordon hadn't quite found his stroke yet, but he was still pretty good. He hit .293 with a .380 OBP and a .378 SLG, had 5 HRs, 15 doubles, 4 triples, 45 RBIs, and scored 64 runs in 450 ABs.

Honorable Mentions:
Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman (2006-?)
Shawn Green and Scott Schoeneweis (2007)
Shawn Green and Mike Koplove (2005-2006)
Mike Lieberthal and Ruben Amaro Jr. (1996-1998)
Steve Stone and Ross Baumgarten/Ron Blomberg (1978)
Mike Epstein and Richie Scheinblum (1973)
Bo Belinsky and Barry Latman/Larry Sherry (1967)
Cal Abrams and Saul Rogovin (1955)
Al Rosen and Joe Ginsberg (1953-1954)
Sid Gordon and Harry Feldman (1943)
Goody Rosen and Fred Sington (1939)
Goody Rosen and Fred Sington/Sam Nahem (1938)
Goody Rosen and Harry Eisenstat (1937)
Buddy Myer and Fred Sington/Syd Cohen (1934-1937)
Buddy Myer and Moe Berg (1932)

Granted, this list is definitely on the subjective side, but the first two seemed like no-brainers to me.