Monday, January 28, 2008

Screw it, I am going to talk about the Marlins

There was a pretty interesting article on Baseball For instance, did you know that the Marlins middle infielders had the most combined extra base hits for a 2B-SS combo in the history of baseball?

"Florida Marlins
Rule 5 picks are supposed to be for strong-armed relievers and toolsy outfielders in A-ball. You’re not supposed to be able to grab a major-league-ready middle infielder who can step into the everyday lineup and hit .282 with 27 homers. Nevertheless, that’s what Dan Uggla did for the Marlins as a rookie. Even though he was 25 years old and looked like the perfect candidate for a sophomore jinx, he might have had an even better season last year: his average dropped to .245, but he drew 20 more walks (going from 48 to 68), and his surprising power took an even more surprising step forward, as he hit 31 homers, and chipped in 49 doubles and three triples. That’s 83 extra-base hits from a middle infielder. Impressive? Here’s the list of every second baseman or shortstop who had amassed 83 or more extra-base hits in a season prior to 2007:Ernie Banks
Nomar Garciaparra (twice)
Charlie Gehringer
Rogers Hornsby (four times)
Cal Ripken
Alfonso Soriano
Alex Rodriguez (four times)
Robin Yount
That’s five Hall of Famers and, in A-Rod, a top-shelf Hall of Famer in the making. There may be more, because I think Soriano has a real shot at the Hall of Fame—let’s face it, once Jim Rice gets in next year, the standards for entry make every outfielder better than Joe Carter a viable candidate. Nomar looked like a sure Hall of Famer until roughly the moment he left the Red Sox, and still has a shot if he can pad the superstar-shortstop portion of his career with a lot of counting numbers in the overrated-first baseman portion of his career. (Hey, it worked for Ernie Banks.)
And then there’s Uggla... and then there’s also the two other guys who earned a place on that list by turning the trick last season. One was Jimmy Rollins, who won the MVP award and has a shot at the Hall of Fame himself. Rollins needs 193 hits this season to reach 1500 before his 30th birthday, which would put him in excellent position for a 3000-hit career.
The other guy is Uggla’s teammate,
Hanley Ramirez. A feat that had only been accomplished by eight players previously—all Hall of Famers or potential Hall of Famers—was accomplished by both members of a single double-play combination. Together, Ramirez and Uggla combined for 166 extra-base hits. Needless to say, no double-play combination has ever combined for that many extra-base hits in a season. The runner up? Let’s just say it was a good year for middle infielders in the NL East:
Year Team Shortstop 2B 3B
HR XBH Second Baseman 2B 3B HR XBH Total
2007 FLA Hanley Ramirez 48 6 29 83 Dan Uggla 49 3 31 83 166
2007 PHI Jimmy Rollins 38 20 30 88
Chase Utley 48 5 22 75 163
2001 SFG
Rich Aurilia 37 5 37 79 Jeff Kent 49 6 22 77 156
2006 PHI Jimmy Rollins 45 9 25 79 Chase Utley 40 4 32 76 155
2005 BAL
Miguel Tejada 50 5 26 81 Brian Roberts 45 7 18 70 151
2005 TEX
Michael Young 40 5 24 69 Alfonso Soriano 43 2 36 81 150
1996 SEA Alex Rodriguez 54 1 36 91
Joey Cora 37 6 6 49 140
2003 TEX Alex Rodriguez 30 6 47 83 Michael Young 33 9 14 56 139
1950 BOS
Vern Stephens 34 6 30 70 Bobby Doerr 29 11 27 67 137
Incidentally, if you’re looking for evidence on how much the offensive standards for middle infielders has changed in the past 20 years, you’ve found it. If we use the play-by-play database (which only goes back to 1957, so far) and calculate the exact number of times that the second baseman or shortstop then in the game managed an extra-base hit, the
Phillies get a boost from Tadahito Iguchi, who filled in for Utley when the latter spent a month on the DL. That list looks like this:
Year Team XBH
2007 Philadelphia 174
2007 Florida 173
2001 San Francisco 159
1997 Boston 158
2006 Philadelphia 156

Consider this particular duel to be still unsettled, as all four players involved will be under their clubs' control for the next four seasons. On one side, you have Rollins and Utley, the MVP and near-MVP of the National League, each earning over $7 million in 2008 (and underpaid at that). On the other, you’ve got Ramirez and Uggla, who were paid less than a million dollars last year. Unless the Marlins have some long-term deals in the offing, they likely will make less than a million dollars this year—combined."

Not too shabby.

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