Ask the Reports: ATR Answers Your Baseball Questions – June 2nd, 2012

Saturday June 2nd, 2012



Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@me.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:

JH: Before we get to your questions, we have to send a big shout out to the one and only, Johan Santana. We have enjoyed countless e-mails, tweets and comments on the Mets this year. The Mets faithful have been loud and supportive this year and represent the largest fan base we hear from every week. So this little note is for you.

The incredible Santana, in his first year back from major surgery that threatened to de-rail his career, threw a no-hitter. Not just any no-hitter. But the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. Think about that one. It will boggle your mind. The amount of quality pitchers that have pitched for the Mets over the years is astronomical. Nolan Ryan. Tom Seaver. David Cone. Dwight Gooden. Frank Viola. How is it possible that this team had never spun a no-hitter before? Fate and luck are the biggest reasons. It is not that easy to get a no-hitter. Many things have to go right for a no-no to occur. So finally, in the whole history of this franchise, the Mets have a no-hitter of their own. Plus, it came from not just any pitcher, but one of the best pitchers of our generation. Johan Santana. I can’t say enough good things about the man. He has been as solid as they come over his career. From a Twins ace for all those years, Santana came to the Mets to take them to the promised land. But critical shoulder surgery, combined with the team’s other injuries and off-field issues put a damper on the entire teams and its players. The 29-23 Mets have been amazing this year though. With only David Wright as their leading hitter, this team has been incredible. R.A. Dickey. Frank Francisco. Jon Rauch. Bobby Parnell. Daniel Murphy. The Mets just don’t give up. Now with the no-hitter in the books, this season has turned magical for the Mets and its fans. Santana was on fire tonight. Despite giving up 5 walks, he struck out 8 over a complete 9 innings. He needed 134 pitches to complete the no-no. In front of only 27,069 Mets fans, Santana pitched the game of his life on home turf. Lucas Duda with the home run and 4 RBIs. Daniel Murphy with 2 hits and 3 RBIs. The Mets won this one as a team and the city of New York gets to celebrate the reincarnation of the Miracle Mets. At least for 1/3 of a season to start. Well done Johan Santana, we’re proud of you!

Q:  “Suspicions are too strong”? I thought this was America – innocent until proven guilty. Piazza and Bags are getting royally screwed, all over SUSPICIONS. In other words, over nothing! There is NO excuse for them not being in first ballot.

I think Biggio will be first ballot. Hello, 3000 hits? He was Mr. Astro his entire career. I’m stunned to see him in the also-ran section…he clearly doesn’t belong there.

Schilling is going to have a LONG wait. Low win total, loud mouth, and now his company going under…but postseason and 3000 K’s can’t be ignored. I predict 8-10 ballots.

Bonds/Clemens/Sosa are different. They’re proven guilty and can kiss my shiny @$$. The HOF is better off without them.  Nick

JH: Mental note: do not spit in Nick’s corn flakes…or watch out! Just kidding sir, having some fun with you. We love Hall of Fame talk here on MLB reports and you are definitely a passionate ball fan with opinions. So let’s address your comments point by point. I have to admit, I agree with your point on Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza. Yes, they played in the juice era. Yes, they were both very big and hit a ton of home runs. But juice or no juice, they were one of the best of their era and looking at their numbers, both are ranked among the best hitters of all time. Piazza in particular is the best offensive catcher in the history of the game. By the numbers, I see him as #1. Both were never convicted of any wrongdoing. Good guys and ambassadors to the game. Clear first ballot hall of famers in my book. But the talks and whispers surround many of the top hitters in recent times. On these two players, those talks are extremely loud. Unfairly, both are getting lumped in with the Bonds and McGwires of this world. But life is not always meant to be fair…and baseball is life.

Craig Biggio I believe is going in right away and Bagwell will hopefully go in with him. To have the Killer B’s make the hall together would be a great moment. Biggio didn’t have Ozzie Smith’s flashiness or Kirby Puckett’s charisma. He just played hard and played the game the right way. Great stats, played many positions and played them well and was a leader. An icon. Good to the fans. Good to the game. Biggio was underrated his whole career and I hope that the baseball writers feel the same way. Biggio deserves his due and should be a first ballot entrant as well.

Curt Schilling…I am really torn about. If I had a vote, I’m putting him in. As a bit of a late bloomer, his career took off when he hit Philadelphia, and then joined Arizona and Boston. Schilling had a very impressive 16-year stretch. Lifetime 3.46 ERA, 1.137 WHIP, 3116 strikeouts in 3261 innings. Only 711 career walks. 20 shutouts. 6-time all-star. A long list of awards including the 2011 World Series MVP trophy. A 3-time runner-up for the CY Young award. Absolute domination in the postseason. In 19 career starts he was 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 0.968 WHIP. 2 postseason shutouts. 2.06 ERA lifetime in the World Series. Schilling was great and his numbers were great. He was one of the best starters of his generation and a guy that you would throw out in any big game and you could count on him. I don’t need certain stat thresholds to include or exclude Schilling. In my mind, he’s in. But will he be first ballot? Likely not. With some voters refusing to vote any player on their first ballot, Schilling has a road to climb. I hope he gets in within the first five years, but the personal scandal now surrounding his company may hurt his chances. Voters consider everything and a squeaky clean image helps. Hopefully, Schilling is able to recover and put his best foot forward come voting time.

As far as Bonds, Clemens and Sosa, different situation entirely. There will be a time and place for a discussion on their chances. But I will sum them up very easily. McGwire is not in. Palmeiro is not in. Those three are not getting in anytime soon either. I will most be curious to see how many votes Bonds gets the first time around. He was such a dominant player, even pre-steroids, that I see him getting a good amount of votes. But all three have a huge hill to climb and should not be working on their acceptance speeches any time soon.

Q:  Watch out for Billy Hamilton, if he gets to the pros quickly, he could be a guy to make a run at Rickey’s record….but let’s be honest, that’ll probably stand a long, long, long time.  Nick

JH: Rickey Henderson has 1,406 career stolen bases. To touch that record, a player would need to steal 70 bases per year for 20 years. Not going to happen. Rickey was a very special player. He ended up playing 25 years and was relatively healthy for most of it. He moved around A LOT. Maybe teams felt the need to capitalize on his trade value. Or just maybe, he rubbed some people the wrong way. Nobody will ever know for sure. But assuming that most players are lucky to play 15 years, I would say 90+ stolen bases per year over that time is impossible. Enter Billy Hamilton. The next great base stealing hope. Billy will be 22 in September and currently is high-A ball. A .319 average and .395 OBP are very promising. Last year, the kid stole 103 bases and got caught 20 times. This year, he already has 57 steals in 50 games, while being caught 12 times. Over a full major league season, Hamilton is on pace for 170 steals. Dynamite!

But many things have to go right for Hamilton to do well in the bigs, let alone great. He has to be able to hit. He has to be able to walk and get on base. He needs to be able to read and run on pitchers in the bigs. He needs to beat out throws by major league catchers and avoid tags from major league infielders. The point? Hamilton is still playing A-Ball. I am as high on him as anyone out there and having watched the videos, I think he is the real deal. But there is a big difference to tear up the lower minors and crack the majors. Even if a player does well in AAA, it may not mean anything once they make the big time. Maybe the kid will get nervous. Party too hard. Suffer an injury. Who knows. In the best case scenario, Hamilton would have a full-time MLB job in 2 years, at the age of 24. If Hamilton plays 10 years and steals 700 bases, he is at 700 steals. Now he has to steal 706 more bases to tie Rickey at the age of 34 and on. The legs have a way of giving out after 30. Trust me, I know from experience. So I am not saying that Hamilton won’t do it. I’m just saying the odds are against it. Before I start predicting any player of touching Rickey’s record, I need to see 5-7 years of solid stats where it most counts. In the big leagues. Hamilton should make the majors, but it may not be for another 2-3 years. He will be a good one. But how good? Nobody can know just yet. Rickey Henderson. If you are reading this, you can sleep easy my friend. You get to stay as the “greatest of all time” for another couple of decades at least.

 Q: A lot of people don’t like the MLB draft, but I love it.  John

JH: Mets fan John. One of my fave tweeters. This man loves his Mets and he will talk about his team all day if he could. Gotta respect the loyalty and passion! But John did not write about his team today, rather about one of my favorite general baseball topics. The MLB Draft. John, you raise a very good point. It’s not that many people don’t like the MLB Draft, it’s just that they don’t understand it. This was a draft that for years was held in closed rooms over the telephone. No coverage. No hype. No understanding. Baseball is also a sport that takes the longest traditionally to develop prospects. While basketball, football and hockey see a great deal of drafted prospects rise immediately to the pros in their first year, baseball prospects take longer. Few players play in the bigs with little or no minor league experience. So without an immediate impact, baseball fans were rarely concerned about its teams up-and-coming players. Thus the lack of interest in the draft.

Well, things are changing my friend. Big time. With Baseball America and the MLB Network creating great exposure and hype for the draft and its prospects, baseball fans are becoming more draft crazy than ever. Players will slowly show up to the live draft. Last year was the first time the first round was televised live…or at least on a full-blown national scale. With the rise of salaries and teams looking to keep below the cap, prospects are more valuable in baseball than ever before. With the rise of importance of prospects comes the demand to watch and learn the draft. While not as many fans love the draft the way you and I do John, they are growing. Even the casual baseball fan generally knows the spot it is picking in the draft and who are the best available players. This year’s crop of prospects is seen as the weakest in some time, thus the lower demand and attention surrounding the players. There are apparently no Bryce Harpers or Stephen Strasburgs to be found. Remember, it’s not the sum of players that draw the attention- it’s the big time prospects. The can’t miss guys. As the hype and attention continue to grow year after year for prospects, I can see the MLB Draft continuing to explode like crazy. Then imagine how popular a draft will be once Major League Baseball decides to have an international draft…but we will save that discussion for another day.

Q:  Who is Mickey Tettleton? I have only been following baseball for 10 years.  Carl

JH: Only being relatively new to the game of baseball has saved you Carl ;) Who is Mickey Tettleton? Wow, we have a lot to teach you my friend. Start renting Ken Burn’s baseball, pick up a baseball encyclopedia and start studying the game! If you want to get an idea of who Tettleton was, watch current Rangers catcher Mike Napoli. Big and strong hitter, while being a catcher on top of it. Tettleton had arms like tree trunks. He actually made teammate Cecil Fielder on the Tigers look small in comparison. Bicep-wise at least. Tettleton played between 1984-1997. He hit 30+ home runs 4 times in his career and finished with 245 overall. The man was a walking machine, walking 90+ times in 7 seasons- with 5 of those seasons being 100+ walks. The man walked an incredible 122 times in 1992 alone. A .369 lifetime OBP says it all. I always preach power and patience in the hitters that I most admire. Tettleton had both of those qualities. He was Napoli, Nick Swisher, and Adam Dunn all rolled up in one. He had a great batting stance and the bat looked like a twig in his massive hands. A mouth full of tobacco and a glare that could kill. Tettleton was a ton of fun to watch. A baseball player in every sense of the word.


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Jonathan Hacohen is the Founder & Lead Baseball Columnist for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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About Jonathan Hacohen

I practice daily yoga. Most foods are organic. If you catch me in the supermarket, it will be in the produce aisle. Warrior 1 Yoga was born from my wish to help people be healthy and happy. I preach the 4 key's to life: nutrition, exercise, water and sleep. This is my journey - I am hope to meet you along the way to share a similar path!

Posted on June 2, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Biggio was awesome, any body that could go from Catcher to second base and then to Center field should be commended. He stole a ton of bags and was a doubles machine. He was a great player and will get into the BBHOF quickly as the other 3k hitters have done previosuly.

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