Here, There, and Everywhere
With college football's opening day behind us (Is USC any good?), I'd like to direct readers to three sites for your Sunday and Monday reading pleasure.
Dayn Perry, a two-time guest columnist for Baseball Analysts, values Frank Thomas as much as I do. He was kind enough to link to my recent article in his piece on the Big Hurt for Fox Sports this weekend. It's a good read and another reminder just how great Thomas has been throughout his career.
All of this isn't meant as an argument for Thomas' place in Cooperstown - his status as a first-ballot Hall of Famer should not even be subject to debate.
Anyone who sees him as anything less is hopelessly misguided.
Rather, it's a reminder of what a tremendous and rare performer we have in our midst. Thomas may be in the waning hours of his career, and that means it's time to reflect on what an amazing career it's been. Don't let his injuries or his occasional recalcitrance detract from that fact.
Frank Thomas has been a gift to baseball fans. He should be remembered for what he is: one of the greatest hitters ever to play the game.
Perry is also a Bert Blyleven-for-Hall-of-Fame supporter. If Dayn's not part of your regular reading, he should be. You can access his archives at Fox Sports here. Bookmark it and be sure to return often if your game is anything from prospects to astute analysis of MLB.
Pat Andriola of Shea Faithful interviewed me last week. Here are a couple of excerpts:
PA: What cap should Mike Piazza wear into the Hall of Fame and which one will he most likely enter with?
RL: Boy, that is a tough call. It could go either way--and I'm not talking about the Marlins or Padres! New York fans may not agree with me, but I believe his best years were with the Dodgers. His career batting, on-base, and slugging averages are higher as a Dodger than as a Met. Furthermore, despite fewer plate appearances in L.A., Piazza generated more Runs Created Above Average (RCAA) and Runs Created Above Position (RCAP) as a Dodger (263 and 298, respectively) than a Met (177 and 235). Mike won five Silver Slugger awards for each team but picked up the N.L. Rookie of the Year in 1993 as a Dodger and finished in the top ten in the MVP voting five years in a row (including two seconds) out west, whereas he placed in the top ten in the MVP balloting just twice with a high of third as a Met.
There is one factor that might favor Piazza going in as a Met: the 2000 World Series. Mike played in the post-season twice with both teams but the only time he made it to the Fall Classic was as a Met. I would argue that he *should* go into the HOF as a Dodger, but I would not be surprised in the least if he winds up wearing a Mets cap. Mets fans really showed their appreciation earlier this month by giving Piazza multiple standing ovations when he returned to Shea Stadium as a Padre. Sadly, Mike never got that type of love in L.A. as his departure (via trade) was much more acrimonious than leaving N.Y. as a free agent.
PA: Is OPS useful, or is Bill James right that SLG and OBP shouldn't be added?
RL: Yes and yes. OPS is quite useful in my book. It has an incredibly high correlation with runs scored. OPS is also intuitively easy to understand. I put a lot of value in both. But James is technically correct in that the two shouldn't be added together. In fact, multiplying OBP x SLG does an even better job of explaining runs scored. However, the difference isn't great enough to offset the simplicity in summing these two components.
Pat is doing a Q&A series with several writers, including David Pinto and Aaron Gleeman. Next up: J.C. Bradbury on Monday and Rob Neyer on Tuesday.
Sean Forman, the mastermind behind Baseball-Reference.com, has added several new features to the site that Dave Studeman of The Hardball Times and Baseball Graphs has called "the best thing about the Internet."
Quoting Forman directly from his B-R.com newsletter, player batting and pitching lines now end with a short note if the player was an All-Star or received MVP, CYA or RoY votes that year. And player debut information includes their performance in their debut game along with a link to the box score of that game (from the last 50 years or so).
Sean has also added handedness and place of birth reports, links to box scores and league standings, team schedules and head-to-head reports. In addition, B-R.com now offers franchise Hall of Fame registers, most games played with no post-season appearance and most rings won, updates to player birth and death dates, player transactions, player schools, and much, much, more, including a blog with in-depth information about the site.
Baseball-Reference.com depends upon page sponsorships to stay in business. If you use and like the site, please consider sponsoring a page to cover operating expenses and to allow Sean the ability to develop new features.