Daily Archives: November 20, 2011
Sunday November 20, 2011
Jonathan Hacohen: We are proud to welcome to MLB reports: Lance Durham, first base prospect and 2nd generation baseball player. His father, Leon Durham, played 10 seasons in the show. Best known as an outfielder/first baseman for the Cubs, Leon had pop in his bat and a strong ability to get on base. Following in his dad’s footsteps, Lance looks to make his own mark on the game. Originally signed by the Detroit Tigers in 2006, Lance opted to attend college and was drafted again in 2009, this time by the Toronto Blue Jays. Lance has just completed his third season in the Jays’ organization. I have enjoyed the opportunity to talk baseball with Lance on several occasions. He is an extremely intelligent bright man, with a strong sense of his roots and his path in the game. An extremely motivated and hard-working player, Lance has the fundamental tools to succeed in the game. At 23-years of age, the future looks bright for “The Bull”.
Featured on MLB reports, I proudly present my interview with baseball prospect and future superstar, Lance Durham:
MLB reports: Who was your favorite baseball player growing up, that you most idolized and patterned your game after?
Lance Durham: My favorite baseball player growing up was my father. I know it sounds cliché but it’s the truth. I didn’t get to see him play in person but we have tapes all over the house of him when he was with the Cubs and I loved the intensity he played with. His demeanor, swagger and confidence were never lacking out on the playing field and that’s something I try to carry out on the field.
MLB reports: Which current MLB star do you most admire and why?
Lance Durham: I admire Prince Fielder the most. First, he was the only player to play all 162 games in 2011 and 160 games in 2010. That’s something to admire a lot because he brings it to the table everyday and doesn’t ask for days off.
MLB reports: Reflecting on your career to-date, what are your proudest accomplishments on the baseball field?
Lance Durham: Having the opportunity to follow in my father’s footsteps.
MLB reports: What are your goals going into the 2012 season?
Lance Durham: Stay healthy and set no limitations for the season. Sky’s the limit.
MLB reports: When you first found out you were drafted, what were your reactions? Did those reactions change over time? What was the process like being drafted originally by the Tigers in 2006 and Blue Jays in 2009 and not signing with the Tigers originally? What made you decide to finally sign with the Jays in 2009?
Lance Durham: When I first got drafted out of high school, I thanked God and was happy to know that my name was already out there. But I thought it was best for me to go to college at that point. In 2009, it was just like “well, its time to start the grind” because I wasn’t a first rounder like my father and he told me it was time to out perform the competition. I didn’t sign with the Tigers originally because I was drafted in the 45th round and I figured going to college and getting smarter about the game of baseball and physically stronger (was in my best interests). Not to mention mom (Angela Durham) always wanted me to go college and I promised her I would one time in my life. So I did it (went to college) fresh out of high school.
MLB reports: What facets of your game do you most wish to improve upon?
Lance Durham: I just hope to improve on all areas of the game, whether it’s hitting, base running, defense, and having a great baseball IQ- which I think is the best advantage. The more you know about the game, the better you will do. My baseball IQ includes knowing what to do with the ball once you get it, thinking before the play even happens, so that the game slows down for you.
MLB reports: How do home runs and walks figure into your game? Do you see any of these three items changing over time and to what degree?
Lance Durham: Well home runs are awesome. There is no better feeling for me, except winning a ball game. Walks are also great because it shows your patience at the plate. Those are two statistics that you want to be pretty high.
MLB reports: How much of an influence was your dad on you growing up? What did you learn from your dad that has shaped you as a baseball player?
Lance Durham: Dad was a great influence on my baseball career. He has been involved in baseball his whole life, so to learn stuff from him about the game is great. The thing I learned from my dad the most is the mental part of the game. You are going to strike out. You are going to make errors. But it is how you learn from them and not make the same mistakes twice. He always preaches adjustments. If we are in the batting cage and I keep making the same mistake over and over, he won’t say anything until I make the adjustment on my own. Then he will say “what took you so long,” and we just laugh. But the quicker you pick up on the adjustments, the better ball player you will become.
MLB reports: If you had to look into a crystal ball, when do you see your expected time of arrival in the big leagues and what do you think you need to do most to get there?
Lance Durham: Hopefully as soon as possible. That is what all of minor leaguers strive for. I am just going to take it one day at a time. Even in the offseason: with the workouts and the cage work and everything, you just have to have it on your mind and want it bad.
MLB reports: If you were not playing professional baseball, you would be ____
Lance Durham: A video game creator.
MLB reports: What do you do for fun away from the ballpark?
Lance Durham: Hanging out with friends, go to the movies and spending time with the family.
MLB reports: Which of your teammates are you closest with – any good stories?
Lance Durham: This past year on the Lansing Lugnuts team, I got really close with a lot of guys. Michael Crouse, Jake Marisnick, Jack Murphy, Markus Brisker, Matt Nuzzo. The stories could go on for days. Let’s just say that they are a great group of guys and I thank God I got to play with them.
MLB reports: Your father Leon was known as “The Bull”. Do you go by the same nickname? What is the origin of the nickname and how did you adopt it?
Lance Durham: Well my dad’s nickname just stuck with me because of him. When he would bring me into the locker rooms as a kid, everyone would already call me “Little Bull” when I was like 10. So it has stuck with me even until today, so I just roll with it. Won’t be long until they just start calling me BULL!!!
MLB reports: Final thought: When fans think of the name Lance Durham, what images do you want them to associate you with?
Lance Durham: He was a student of the game. He played the game right and he played the game hard. He was also a great teammate.
Thank you again to Lance Durham for taking the time to join us today on MLB reports. We highly encourage our readers to post at the bottom of the article any questions and/or comments that you may have for Lance. As well, please follow Lance on Twitter (@LanceBullDurham)
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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Sam Evans: Dale Murphy was one of the best baseball players of the 1980’s. He played in 2180 games, hit .265, with 398 home runs. Now, after twelve years of eligibility, Murphy still has not been voted into the Hall of Fame.
Dale Murphy was not a dominant player during his era. He was a very good player, he won two MVP’s and five straight gold gloves. However, when you look back at his two “peak” years, he only posted a 6.1 WAR in those years combined. We can’t fully be sure of WAR’s (wins above replacement) ability to fully show the defensive prowess of players, but either way that is not impressive enough for a Cooperstown candidate.
On the field, Murphy was an inspiration to others. He truly looked like he wouldn’t rather be anywhere else in the world. Off the field, he wasn’t any different. Just ask Joe Torre, who had this to say about Murphy, “If you’re a coach, you want him as a player. If you’re a father, you want him as a son. If you’re a woman, you want him as a husband. If you’re a kid, you want him as a father. What else can you say about the guy?” Murphy truly was an American hero as evidenced by his Lou Gehrig award and Roberto Clemente award.
From 1980 to 1989, Murphy had more total bases than anyone in the majors. He had a perplexing career in terms of statistics. He never dominated any one category. A typical season from Murphy would look along the lines of: 30 HR, 90 RBI, 130 K, 15 SB, and a .265 AVG. That is a pretty good year by all standards. The player that was most similar to this stat line in 2011, was Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds.
Let’s make one thing clear. Based on his statistics alone, Dale Murphy is definitely not a Hall of Famer. A 44. WAR is not enough for a Hall of Famer. That is in fact less than Red Sox fourth outfielder J.D. Drew. However, if you want to make a case for Murphy’s election by including his contributions to the game of baseball off the field, I can see a stronger case for his candidacy.
Last year, Murphy received only 12.6% of the BBWAA voted for the Hall. He has a long ways to go, in terms of voting, and not a lot of time to do it. I really am indifferent to whether or not Dale Murphy is Hall of Famer. If he makes it in, I will be pleased that his great character and steady numbers had been noticed. The bottom line is that regardless of whether he is eventually elected into Cooperstown, Dale Murphy should always be remembered as a tremendous player that truly was a role model to kids and adults who followed his career. Even if he does not fit the Cooperstown mold, he was one of the top players of his generation and should be regarded as a strong role model for future wave of Major League Baseball players to come.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***
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