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Ask the Reports: Sunday November 13th

Sunday November 13, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen:  Ask the Reports is back! After some thought and re-branding: we have decided to drop the E-mailbag moniker and to keep this section as “Ask the Reports”, which will appear every weekend.  E-mails is but one form you can reach MLB reports. You can follow us on Twitter  and tweet and direct message your questions and comments.  You can “Like” us on Facebook and write on our wall.  You can also leave all questions and comments at the end of each article and page on the website. With social media exploding as it has, we are truly connected in so many ways.  

So keep reading MLB reports. Everyday. Twice a day or more if your schedule allows it. Subscribe to the site to have all current articles sent to your e-mailbox. But most of all:  participate. Send tweets. Write on our Facebook wall. Comment on articles and leave feedback. MLB reports is for you: the readers. The love of baseball is best nurtured if enjoyed as a community. So don’t be shy. Get in touch with us as often as you can. Let your voice be heard on our Facebook wall. There is nothing better than an old-fashioned baseball debate.  We call it MLB4Life on Twitter because we all love baseball for life. Baseball is more than a passion.  It is a lifestyle. Thank you for enjoying MLB reports and we look forward to hearing from you.  Plus you never know when your questions will be answered in “Ask the Reports”: so keep checking and asking your questions every week!

Let’s get to your questions:

Q: Hi.  I just read the article: To Keep or Get Rid of the DH: The Future of the Designated Hitter in MLB and I wanted your honest opinion. Please reply with it. Thanks!! A 7th Grade Red Sox Fan in Maine
A:  This is an older question which I answered directly to the reader but wanted to share with the readers.  As many of you know reading my work, I am not the biggest proponent of the Designated Hitter.  I don’t hate it per say- but I am a bigger of fan of the National League game. I have read in baseball circles that Major League Baseball is working toward switching up the DH in interleague games.  Meaning there will be a DH in National League parks and no DH in American League parks. An exciting move should it come to fruition, that fans should very much enjoy.  The best pro-DH argument that I have heard is that the pitchers for the most part have little ability to hit and it is time to take that part of the game.  While that is true on some levels, having pitchers hit forces NL managers to use more strategy in games.  There are some strong hitting NL pitchers out there and the bottom is if pitchers know they will have to hit, they will just have to improve themselves in that department.  Ultimately I do not think the DH is going anywhere in the AL.  The players’ union will not allow MLB to get rid of it, as it will cost many older players their jobs.  But by the same token, given the tradition of the NL- I do  not see the DH being used in that league either.  But if I had my way: get rid of the DH and play “real baseball” across the board.  That is my two cents, for what its worth.
Q:  I have a question Mr. MLB reports Writer:  Where did the game of baseball first develop? What country, year, how did it take off, etc. Someone asked me this yesterday and I had no idea.  Mark
A: Great question Mark.  Thank you for the question.  I have read many great accounts on the subject.  However I will rely on Wikipedia for this one:

“The first published rules of baseball were written in 1845 for a New York (Manhattan) “baseball” club called the Knickerbockers. The author, Shane Ryley Foster, is one person commonly known as “the father of baseball”. One important rule, the 13th, stipulated that the player need not be physically hit by the ball to be put out; this permitted the subsequent use of a farther-travelling hard ball. Evolution from the so-called “Knickerbocker Rules” to the current rules is fairly well documented.

On June 3, 1953, Congress officially credited Alexander Cartwright with inventing the modern game of baseball, and he is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. However, the role of Cartwright himself has been disputed. His authorship may have been exaggerated in a modern attempt to identify a single inventor of the game, although Cartwright may have a better claim to the title than any other single American.

Cartwright, a New York bookseller who later caught “gold fever”, umpired the first-ever recorded U.S. baseball game with codified rules in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 19, 1846. He also founded the older of the two teams that played that day, the New York Knickerbockers. Cartwright also introduced the game in most of the cities where he stopped on his trek west to California to find gold.

One point undisputed by historians is that the modern professional major leagues that began in the 1870s developed directly from amateur urban clubs of the 1840s and 1850s, not from the pastures of small towns such as Cooperstown.”

Q:  Albert Pujols to the Marlins.  Done deal?  Excited Marlins Fan
A:  Not even close my friend.  Not even close.  Pujols did meet with Marlins’ officials this week and was reported to have received a contract offer.  But no- there is no contract in place.  The expectation is that Pujols will be staying in St. Louis.  He has won 2 World Series titles with the Cardinals, including last year’s championship.  He has played in St. Louis for his entire career.  All else being equal, no other teams will offer Pujols more money than the Cardinals.  Even if the difference is give or take $20 million, the man will receive a $200 million dollar deal.  He lives in Missouri, he has roots in the community. Pujols is a Cardinal for life.
Q:  Do you follow any other sports? I love baseball, but football is great also. Cindy
A:  Sorry: baseball only here.  In my younger days I did keep up with the three other major sports.  But life always came back to baseball for me.  162 games, plus spring training and the playoffs.  It is a long season.  But for a baseball fan like myself, there never seems to be enough baseball.  I will go watch another sport if invited.  But you will never find me watching another sport on television.  To be able to write about baseball everyday- the focus has to be on one sport.  Baseball consumes me.  I would not have it any other way.
Q:  Growing up in Cleveland as an Indians fan, my grandfather was also a fan of the Dodgers. I remember going over to his house and watching a Dodger game on tv. As an adult, I am still a fan of the Dodgers, with the Tribe number one on my list. My question: out of all the groups out there trying to buy the Dodgers, who do you think would be able to bring back the history and enjoyment to L.A.??
Thanks in advance.  Larry
A:  The last question of course goes to our #1 fan.  Great question as always.  For the time being, the names that are getting the most press are those of Orel Hershiser and Steve Garvey.  The Hershiser/Garvey group is making the loudest bid for the Dodgers, at approximately $1 billion.  But in the background, word is that former owner Peter O’Malley and former GM Fred Claire are also putting together their bids.  For excitement and name recognition, you have to give it to Hershiser/Garvey.  But at restoring the franchise back to former glory, I think it is time to bring back O’Malley.  For tradition and building winning ball clubs, there were few finer than O’Malley.  I still see that other bidders will come into the process, including Mark Cuban.  But Major League Baseball will look for stability and in the best interests of the Dodgers, in reviewing any agreements that Frank McCourt and a winning bidder reach.  This one is far from owner, but if I had to pick the “best” group for the Dodgers, mine would be on Peter O’Malley.

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


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Edgar Martinez Should Be Inducted Into Cooperstown: Future Mariners Hall of Famer

Friday August 26, 2011

 

Sam Evans (Intern Candidate- MLB reports):  When you think of the most consistent hitters during the 1990’s, most people think of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire.  One name that always gets overlooked is Edgar Martinez.  He had a .312 career batting average, reached base more than 40% of the time, has never has been linked to steroids, and he arguably saved baseball in Seattle for years to come.

Some of the arguments against Edgar being in the Hall of Fame are that he hardly played in the field, was not a superstar, never won a world series, and that his numbers just aren’t good enough.  As a Mariners fan, I definitely have bias but I’ll try to explain why I think Edgar should legitimately be in the Hall of Fame.  First of all, if his numbers aren’t good enough, why was Andre Dawson’s statistics enough for him to be voted into the hall of fame?  Let’s compare the two hitters:

Edgar (Career) .312/.418/.515. Wins Above Replacement (courtesy of fangraphs.com): 69.9

Andre Dawson: .279/.323/.482 Wins Above Replacement: 62.3 

What’s the difference between these two?  The Hawk is in the Hall of Fame, which Dawson deserved.  Other Hall-of-Famers with a lower WAR than Edgar are Harmon Killebrew, Dennis Eckersley, and Jackie Robinson.  There are over 230 former MLB players in the Hall of Fame.  I think it’s amazing that Edgar is not one of them.

After Edgar missed the 1994 season due to injury, he became the Mariners full-time designated hitter.  He would go on to be the Mariners starting DH for the next ten years.  When asked how that would affect his Hall of Fame chances, Edgar replied, “There are a lot of different opinions about it.  What I think is that the DH makes a daily contribution to the team, just like any position player who plays every day.”  In 1973, major league baseball instituted the Designated Hitter as a real position.  So why should this prevent a primary DH from ever reaching Cooperstown?

In his first season as a DH, Martinez won his second American League batting title, hitting .356 with an OBP of .479 and a slugging percentage of .628.  Hall of famers Hank Aaron and Willie Mays never had a season with an OBP over .425.  It is my estimation that Martinez wasn’t a superstar across the baseball scene because of where he played.  If he played in New York, chances are it wouldn’t be this hard for him to get into Cooperstown.  The low light of Edgar’s career is definitely though that he never won a World Series championship.  Superstars that win the big one tend to be favored in the eyes of Cooperstown voters.

During the 1995 season the city of Seattle fell in love with the Mariners.  After having just two winning seasons in their first sixteen years, Edgar and Ken Griffey Jr. led the Mariners to a 79-66 record.  In the 1995 ALDS series between the Mariners and the Yankees, Edgar reached base 2/3 of the time and had two game winning hits.  On October, 8, 1995, with the series tied 2-2, the Mariners battled back to score two runs and send the game into extra innings.  After the eighth inning, the crowd started chanting “Randy! Randy! Randy!”  Finally Lou Piniella gave in and Randy Johnson walked out to the mound to Welcome to the Jungle booming through the Kingdome’s outdated speakers.  However in the top of the eleventh tragedy struck.  A walk, bunt, and single put the Yankees in the lead, and with their stud pitcher  Jack McDowell coming in to pitch the M’s chances looked pretty slim.  With runners on first and third, Edgar ended up hitting a double down the left field line to win the series for the M’s.  The Mariners were eliminated in the ALCS at the end by the Indians, but the effect of Edgar’s hit had MLB fans everywhere truly excited about Mariners baseball for the first time ever.

The thing is that he wasn’t just successful in the playoffs; Martinez won Seattle one of the more beautiful MLB ballparks, Safeco Field.  Two months earlier, 50.1% of King county voters voted NO on a $410 million proposal for a new stadium, to keep the Mariners in Seattle.  The state legislature later approved a new stadium for the Mariners, mainly due to public pressure.  This led people to think what would have happened if it weren’t for Edgar’s clutch hit.

Edgar was known for his great batting eye, which resulted from a series of drills before every game he utilized to improve it.  He also gave back to the community by founding the Martinez foundation, which helps give minorities’ access to proper education.  When Edgar retired in 2004, Paul Molitor said, “He was one of the most feared right-handed hitters for a long time in this league.  The amount of respect he has from peers speaks to the value of the offensive player he was.”

In 2010, Edgar’s first year eligible for the hall, he received 36.2% of the BBWAA votes.  Martinez  missed the 75% cutoff.  This year he received 32.9 % of the vote.  Who knows if Edgar will ever be in the Hall of Fame, this year definitely wasn’t encouraging.  But in Bert Blyleven’s (elected in 2011, after 14 years of eligibility) second year on the ballot, he received only 14.1% of votes.  So there is reason for optimism.  Whether Edgar ever makes it to Cooperstown or not, he will always be a hero to Mariners fans and one of the best pure hitters in major league history.

 

***Today’s feature was prepared by one of our intern candidates, 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.***

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

To Keep or Get Rid of the DH: The Future of the Designated Hitter in MLB

Monday May 16, 2011

MLB reports:  Growing up in an American League city (Toronto), my entire baseball life has existed with the designated hitter in baseball.  Aside from the occasional national league games on television, I always accepted and loved the DH.  Dave Parker was one of my favorite players and he epitomized everything good about the DH.  A great hitter with a sweet home run stroke, I would have likely not been able to watch Dave Parker for most of the tail end of his career if not for the designated hitter.  Parker, slowed by age, weight gain and lack of mobility saw his time in the outfield end fortunately by 1989 when he left the Reds and the National League forever and joined Oakland.  I always thought of the DH as giving the American League the advantage of an additional strong bat in the lineup, with the National League being less exciting being based on pitching, defense and weak pitchers hitting.  But as I grew in age, my opinion of the DH began to shift and I started to appreciate traditional baseball in its purest form.

If you give me today the choice of an American League or National League game, 9 out of 10 times I will choose the NL game.  When you account for the game having a pitcher bat, the dynamics of the game itself changes drastically.  The National League has more in-game moves by its manager, including pinch-hitting and double switches.  The best example I give of a typical NL game scenario is going into the 7th inning of a game, with a 1-run differential, 1-2 base runners on and the pitcher coming up to bat.  These types of scenarios and successful choices make or break NL managers.  By leaving a pitcher in to bat, the manager risks a likely out and the loss of an opportunity at scoring a crucial run.  But by pinch-hitting for the pitcher, the manager is forced to sometimes take out a pitcher who is pitching well and leaving the bullpen to possibly blow the game.  The game within the game is truly found in the National League.  But if the NL is so great and pitchers should be hitting, why is the DH still around?  For many reasons I will show and which likely means the DH is not going anywhere for a long time still.

Many modern baseball experts advocate the DH as saving wear and tear on pitchers, who as inexperienced hitters run the risk of injuries by batting and running the bases.  A classic example is Chien-Ming Wang, who injured his foot in Houston during  running the bases and later proceeded to hurt his shoulder and never recover.  It was argued that if Wang was  not forced to bat in the NL during inter-league play, he would have never been injured.  Further,  aside from a few exceptions such as Carlos Zambrano and Micah Owings, pitchers usually cannot hit their weight.  In many cases, pitchers are literally automatic outs.  To create excitement for fans and better offensive baseball, the DH was born in the AL in 1973 and has lasted ever since.  The DH also allows older hitters to keep playing even when their defensive games have abandoned them (see Guerrero, Matsui and Ortiz today).  Finally, the DH allows positional players the occasional rest by not having to play in the field but still keeps their bats in the lineup for their respective teams.

The bottom line on the DH comes down to tradition vs. convenience in my estimation.  I know in my brain that having a DH works best for the players, from the health and productivity of both pitchers and hitters.  For example, none of us would want to watch Adam Dunn in the outfield anymore and having the DH in Chicago allows his superior bat to continue cranking home runs while not hurting his team defensively.  But in my heart, I yearn for a Dodgers/Giants rivalry, where during a 2-1 game lineup changes run rampant in the later innings.  That is the way baseball was truly meant to be played.  I am not a full basebal purist, as I do advocate for an expanded playoffs and complete re-alignment in baseball.  But when it comes to the designated hitter, my hope is that one day it is abolished completely and we can go back to “real” baseball.

If we lived in a baseball world with no DH, pitchers would just have to take more BP and if truth be known, many of them would love hitting and value the chance at getting their swings in.  If you ask me truthfully though, I can’t see the American League getting rid of the DH and to go further, I actually can see the National League adopting the DH one day as well.  As we grow and move forward in time, most traditions tend to fall by the side for improvements.  In this case, this will be one of the instances where I hope that is not the case.  Some traditions need to remain intact.  I certainly hope the game of baseball as it is played in the National League continues until the end of time.

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