October 30, 2014

Bruce Bochy updates his resume

This story originally appeared on Raleigh & Company.

Bruce Bochy looks like the neighborhood bartender, the kind of stand-up guy who would drive his last customer home after a long night. His voice and stubble belong in a 1950s western. Smart money says he is great poker player. He knows what he knows, but he doesn’t let the manager in the other dugout know it.

Bochy isn’t a mastermind like Tony La Russa. Or a master motivator like Tommy Lasorda. Bochy isn’t Columbo. He’s Andy Taylor. It is an over-simplification, but — Bochy gets good ballplayers, treats them well and they win.

The San Francisco Giants won their third World Series championship in five seasons last night with a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals, cementing Bochy as the most successful manager in baseball.



He is one of 10 managers who have won three championships. The other nine are in the Hall of Fame. Stengel, McCarthy, Mack, Alston, Torre, McGraw, La Russa, Huggins, Sparky … Bochy.

Bochy knows how to manage a bullpen. In his 12 seasons with the Padres, Bochy’s closer was Trevor Hoffman, who retired as the all-time saves leader. With the Giants, Bochy has deployed a different closer during each World Series run — Brian Wilson in 2010, Sergio Romo in 2012 and Santiago Casilla for most of this October. But Jeremy Affeldt may be the team’s best reliever. The 35-year-old entered last night’s game in the second inning and pitched 2.1 shutout innings, his longest outing in two years. He was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 11.2 innings during this postseason. He has pitched 22 consecutive scoreless innings in the playoffs.

Bochy gets the most out of veteran hitters, too. Phil Nevin, Ryan Klesko and Mark Loretta all had career years with the Padres. Tony Gwynn was a better hitter in his 30s than his 20s. Rickey Henderson scored 110 runs in 1996, when he was 37 years old. In 2010, Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell, both 33, each had impressive seasons.

Bochy made a gutsy call in last night’s Game 7, bringing Madison Bumgarner out of the bullpen on two days’ rest. Bumgarner threw 68 pitches in five shutout innings to save the game and the series. He shut out the Royals in Game 5 on 117 pitches. He gave up one run in seven innings in Game 1. That’s one run in 21 innings for the series. Mathewson, Hubbell, Koufax … Bumgarner.



The Cubs have reportedly hired Joe Maddon as their next manager. Maddon, who opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays last week, was a coveted free agent. He accepts advanced metrics as fact and maintains a loose clubhouse. He would have been an upgrade for every team in baseball — except for the Giants.

This is Bochy’s updated resume:

Teams | Padres [1995-2006] Giants [2007-present]

Record | 1,618-1,604 [.502]

Winning seasons | 10

Playoff appearances | 7

Division titles | 6

90-win seasons | 4

100-win seasons | 0

Pennants | 4 [1998, 2010, 2012, 2014]

World Series titles | 3 [2010, 2012, 2014]

ALL-STAR TEAM

Bochy’s All-Stars include 10 players from his Padres teams — three from the 1998 pennant winners — and five from the Giants. Buster Posey and Ken Caminiti were both league MVPs.



Catcher | Buster Posey [2012] 24 home runs, 103 RBIs, .336 batting average, .408 on-base percentage, .549 slugging percentage, 109 runs.

First base | Ryan Klesko [2001] 30 home runs, 113 RBIs, .286 batting average, .384 on-base percentage, .539 slugging percentage, 105 runs.

Second base | Mark Loretta [2004] 16 home runs, 76 RBIs, .335 batting average, .391 on-base percentage, .495 slugging percentage, 108 runs, 208 hits, 47 doubles.

Third base | Ken Caminiti [1996] 40 home runs, 130 RBIs, .326 batting average, .408 on-base percentage, .621 slugging percentage, 109 runs.

2. Phil Nevin [2001]
3. Pablo Sandoval [2009]

Shortstop | Khalil Greene [2004] 15 home runs, 65 RBIs, .273 batting average, .349 on-base percentage, .446 slugging percentage.

2. Brandon Crawford [2014]

Left field | Greg Vaughn [1998] 50 home runs, 119 RBIs, .272 batting average, .363 on-base percentage, .597 slugging percentage, 112 runs.

Center field | Steve Finley [1996] 30 home runs, 95 RBIs, .298 batting average, .354 on-base percentage, .531 slugging percentage, 126 runs, 45 doubles.

Right field | Tony Gwynn [1997] 17 home runs, 119 RBIs, .372 batting average, .409 on-base percentage, .547 slugging percentage, 220 hits, 49 doubles.

2. Brian Giles [2005]

Utilityman | Aubrey Huff [2010] 26 home runs, 86 RBIs, .290 batting average, .385 on-base percentage, .506 slugging percentage, 100 runs.



Starting rotation

1. Kevin Brown [1998]
18-7, 2.38 ERA, 257 strikeouts and 49 walks in 257 innings, 10 HBPs, 10 wild pitches.

2. Tim Lincecum [2008] 18-5, 2.62 ERA, 265 strikeouts and 84 walks in 227 innings, 17 wild pitches.

3. Matt Cain [2009] 14-8, 2.89 ERA, 171 strikeouts and 73 walks in 217.2 innings.

4. Jake Peavy [2004] 15-6, 2.27 ERA, 173 strikeouts and 53 walks in 166.1 innings, 11 HBPs.

5. Madison Bumgarner [2014] 18-10, 2.98 ERA, 219 strikeouts and 43 walks in 217.1 innings. Four home runs, 15 RBIs in 66 at-bats.

Closer | Trevor Hoffman [1998] 4-2, 1.48 ERA, 53 saves in 54 save opportunities, 86 strikeouts and 21 walks in 73 innings.
— Kevin Brewer

October 11, 2014

National League awards [2014]



Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw beat the Diamondbacks on Opening Day in Australia, threw a no-hitter against the Rockies and pitched 41 consecutive scoreless innings. Josh Beckett, Tim Lincecum and Jordan Zimmermann also threw no-hitters.

Babe Ruth Award | Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. 21-3, 1.77 ERA, 239 strikeouts and 31 walks in 198.1 innings.

2. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
3. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
4. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers
5. Buster Posey, Giants

Walter Johnson Award | Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. 21-3, 1.77 ERA, 239 strikeouts and 31 walks in 198.1 innings.

Jackie Robinson Award | Jacob deGrom, Mets. 9-6, 2.69 ERA, 144 strikeouts and 43 walks in 140.1 innings.

Connie Mack Award | Matt Williams, Nationals. 96-66 [.593]

2. Don Mattingly, Dodgers
3. Bruce Bochy, Giants



Catcher | Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers. 13 home runs, 69 RBIs, .301 batting average, .373 on-base percentage, .465 slugging percentage, 53 doubles. Best hitter | Buster Posey, Giants. Best fielder | Yadier Molina, Cardinals.

2. Buster Posey, Giants
3. Devin Mesoraco, Reds

First base | Anthony Rizzo, Cubs. 32 home runs, 78 RBIs, .286 batting average, .386 on-base percentage, .527 slugging percentage, 15 HBPs. Best fielder | Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers.

Second base | Chase Utley, Phillies. 11 home runs, 78 RBIs, .270 batting average, .339 on-base percentage, .407 slugging percentage, 13 HBPs. Best fielder | DJ LeMahieu, Rockies.

Third base | Anthony Rendon, Nationals. 21 home runs, 83 RBIs, .287 batting average, .351 on-base percentage, .473 slugging percentage, 111 runs. Best fielder | Rendon.

Shortstop | Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals. 21 home runs, 75 RBIs, .263 batting average, .336 on-base percentage, .443 slugging percentage. Best hitter | Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies. Best fielder | Andrelton Simmons, Atlanta.

Left field | Matt Holliday, Cardinals. 20 home runs, 90 RBIs, .272 batting average, .370 on-base percentage, .441 slugging percentage, 17 HBPs.

Center field | Andrew McCutchen, Pirates. 25 home runs, 83 RBIs, .314 batting average, .410 on-base percentage, .542 slugging percentage, 10 HBPs. Best fielder | Juan Lagares, Mets.

2. Carlos Gomez, Brewers

Right field | Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins. 37 home runs, 105 RBIs, .288 batting average, .395 on-base percentage, .555 slugging percentage. Best fielder | Jason Heyward, Atlanta.

2. Jason Heyward, Atlanta



Starting rotation |

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers.
21-3, 1.77 ERA, 239 strikeouts and 31 walks in 198.1 innings.

2. Johnny Cueto, Reds. 20-9, 2.25 ERA, 242 strikeouts and 65 walks in 243.2 innings, 15 HBPs.

3. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals. 20-9, 2.38 ERA, 179 strikeouts and 50 walks in 227 innings.

4. Cole Hamels, Phillies. 9-9, 2.46 ERA, 198 strikeouts and 59 walks in 204.2 innings.

5. Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals. 14-5, 2.66 ERA, 182 strikeouts and 29 walks in 199.2 innings.

6. Tanner Roark, Nationals
7. Madison Bumgarner, Giants

Closer | Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta. 0-3, 1.61 ERA, 47 saves, 95 strikeouts and 26 walks in 61.2 innings.

2. Mark Melancon, Pirates
3. Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies

Goodbye | The Greatest Hitter of All Time [1960-2014]



— Kevin Brewer

October 10, 2014

American League awards [2014]



Albert Pujols hit his 500th home run against the Nationals. Edwin Encarnacion hit 16 home runs in May. Rangers manager Ron Washington resigned. Derek Jeter had a walk-off single in his final at-bat at Yankee Stadium.

Babe Ruth Award | Mike Trout, Angels. 36 home runs, 111 RBIs, .287 batting average, .377 on-base percentage, .561 slugging percentage, 115 runs.

2. Robinson Cano, Mariners
3. Michael Brantley, Cleveland
4. Josh Donaldson, Athletics
5. Jose Altuve, Astros

Walter Johnson Award | Corey Kluber, Cleveland. 18-9, 2.44 ERA, 269 strikeouts and 51 walks in 235.21 innings.

Jackie Robinson Award | Jose Abreu, White Sox. 36 home runs, 107 RBIs, .317 batting average, .383 on-base percentage, .581 slugging percentage.

Connie Mack Award | Mike Scioscia, Angels. 98-64 [.605]

2. Buck Showalter, Orioles
3. Lloyd McClendon, Mariners



Catcher | Yan Gomes, Cleveland. 21 home runs, 74 RBIs, .278 batting average, .313 on-base percentage, .472 slugging percentage. Best fielder | Salvador Perez, Royals.

First base | Jose Abreu, White Sox. 36 home runs, 107 RBIs, .317 batting average, .383 on-base percentage, .581 slugging percentage. Best fielder | Chris Davis, Orioles.

2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers.

Second base | Robinson Cano, Mariners. 14 home runs, 82 RBIs, .314 batting average, .382 on-base percentage, .454 slugging percentage. Best hitter | Jose Altuve, Astros. Best fielder | Ian Kinsler, Tigers.

2. Jose Altuve, Astros
3. Howie Kendrick, Angels
4. Ian Kinsler, Tigers

Third base | Josh Donaldson, Athletics. 29 home runs, 98 RBIs, .255 batting average, .342 on-base percentage, .456 slugging percentage. Best hitter | Adrian Beltre, Rangers. Best fielder | Donaldson.

2. Adrian Beltre, Rangers
3. Kyle Seager, Mariners

Shortstop | Erick Aybar, Angels. 7 home runs, 68 RBIs, .278 batting average, .321 on-base percentage, .379 slugging percentage. Best fielder | J.J. Hardy, Orioles.

Left field | Michael Brantley, Cleveland. 20 home runs, 97 RBIs, .327 batting average, .385 on-base percentage, .506 slugging percentage, 200 hits, 45 doubles. Best fielder | Alex Gordon, Royals.

2. Alex Gordon, Royals

Center field | Mike Trout, Angels. 36 home runs, 111 RBIs, .287 batting average, .377 on-base percentage, .561 slugging percentage, 115 runs. Best fielder | Lorenzo Cain, Royals.

2. Adam Jones, Orioles

Right field | Jose Bautista, Blue Jays. 35 home runs, 103 RBIs, .286 batting average, .403 on-base percentage, .524 slugging percentage, 101 runs, 104 walks. Best fielder | Josh Reddick, Athletics.

Designated hitter | Victor Martinez, Tigers. 32 home runs, 103 RBIs, .335 batting average, .409 on-base percentage, .565 slugging percentage.



Starting rotation |

1. Corey Kluber, Cleveland.
18-9, 2.44 ERA, 269 strikeouts and 51 walks in 235.21 innings.

2. Felix Hernandez, Mariners. 15-6, 2.14 ERA, 248 strikeouts and 46 walks in 236 innings, 18 wild pitches.

3. Chris Sale, White Sox. 12-4, 2.17 ERA, 208 strikeouts and 39 walks in 174 innings, 11 HBPs.

4. Max Scherzer, Tigers. 18-5, 3.15 ERA, 252 strikeouts and 63 walks in 220.1 innings, 10 wild pitches.

5. Jon Lester, Red Sox-Athletics. 16-11, 2.46 ERA, 220 strikeouts and 48 walks in 219.2 innings.

6. David Price, Rays-Tigers
7. Dallas Keuchel, Astros

Setup man | Wade Davis, Royals. 9-2, 1.00 ERA, 3 saves, 109 strikeouts and 23 walks in 72.0 innings.

2. Dellin Betances, Yankees.

Closer | Zach Britton, Orioles. 3-2, 1.65 ERA, 37 saves, 62 strikeouts and 23 walks in 76.1 innings.

2. Greg Holland, Royals.

Best Picture | The Battered Bastards of Baseball



— Kevin Brewer

September 26, 2014

The long, overrated goodbye

This story originally appeared on Raleigh & Company.

These are the last days and rites of Derek Jeter. The sainted captain enters his final weekend with a career-worst .253 batting average, .301 on-base percentage and .309 slugging percentage. He is hitting .205/.259/.295 in September, including a 0-for-28 stretch in the middle of the month, during what used to be a pennant race. The Yankees will miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1993. The team has worn Jeter’s No. 2 on its uniforms and caps since Sept. 7, yielding speculation that he had died along with his strike zone judgment.

Jeter’s last season has been a cloying farewell tour, with gifts and applause in nearly every opposing ballpark. Fortune magazine ranked him 11th on its list of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders — two spots behind the Dalai Lama. At the All-Star Game, he received a 63-second standing ovation before leading off for the American League. He doubled on what looked like a batting practice pitch from Adam Wainwright. “I was going to give him a couple pipe shots just to — he deserved it,” Wainwright said. On Derek Jeter Day at Yankee Stadium, Cal Ripken said: “It is hard to measure and define all the magic that Derek brings to the table.”



It is easier to measure Jeter the ballplayer. But it is a divisive exercise, an example of the holy war between advanced metrics and traditional statistics, often accented by the unreliable eye test.

He was a severely overrated defensive shortstop. Jeter has a career defensive WAR of minus-9.4 — the worst among all shortstops since 1900, worse than Ricky Gutierrez, worse than Hanley Ramirez and worse than Jose Offerman. In The Fielding Bible [2006], Bill James said: “I have to say that the case for Jeter as a Gold Glove quality shortstop is a dead argument in my mind. … He is not a Gold Glove quality shortstop. He isn’t an average defensive shortstop. Giving him every possible break on the unknowns, he is still going to emerge as a below average defensive shortstop.”

After the 2007 season, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Jeter that his defense was hurting the team, which was something he had never heard from anyone inside the organization. That winter, Jeter worked on his lateral movement with a new fitness trainer. He improved in 2008 and was slightly above average in 2009. The following season, he was 36 years old and in decline.

The counter argument is a bunch of subjective nonsense and anecdotal highlights — his five Gold Glove awards, his odd jump throw, “the flip” assist against the Athletics in the 2001 ALDS and “the dive” into the stands against the Red Sox in 2004.



But Jeter could play. He was the best position player in the league in 1999, when he hit .349/.438/.552 with 24 home runs, 102 RBIs and 134 runs, although most analysts said Pedro Martinez should have won the MVP award. Jeter should have won the award in 2006, when he hit .343/.417/.483 with 14 home runs, 97 RBIs, 118 runs and 34 stolen bases. He was among the top 10 players in the league four other times. He is sixth all-time with 3,461 hits and 10th all-time with 1,922 runs. He was an excellent base runner, with 358 stolen bases in 455 attempts (78.6 percent).



Jeter played during the Golden Age of shortstops, when the position was dominated by big, athletic hitters like himself, Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada, Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki — the descendants of Cal Ripken.

Jeter and Rodriguez are forever linked — both played their first full season in 1996, and they were teammates from 2004 until last season. But there is no comparison between them. Rodriguez was the best player in the league seven times and among the top 10 in three other seasons. He is fifth all-time with 654 home runs, sixth all-time with 1,969 RBIs and 11th all-time with 1,919 runs. He had 322 stolen bases in 398 attempts (80.9 percent).

Rodriguez was, of course, the better fielder. But when the Yankees acquired Rodriguez, they moved him to third base. Jeter didn’t volunteer to change positions. Often, the sainted captain and sainted manager Joe Torre didn’t speak to Rodriguez.



Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs in 2009, and he is currently serving a one-year suspension by Major League Baseball for his involvement in last year’s Biogenesis scandal. Tejada admitted to lying about his age in 2009, when he was also charged with lying to Congress about PEDs. He was suspended for 105 games last year for testing positive for amphetamines. Garciaparra played just eight full seasons because of injuries.

But Jeter endured. He played shortstop for the New York Yankees for 20 seasons. He remained mostly healthy, playing in 148 or more games in 14 seasons. He helped lead the Yankees to five World Series championships and seven pennants. He played in 158 postseason games, hitting .308/.374/.465 with 20 home runs, 111 runs and 200 hits.



Jeter is a public relations superstar. He has never said anything controversial nor interesting. He has never consumed PEDs, been arrested or even thrown out of a game. He created his own charity organization. He makes syrupy ads for Nike and Gatorade. When he was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year in 2009, Tom Verducci wrote: “Every sunrise is a fresh shot at victory for Derek Jeter. Every day is an invitation to compete with the same smile and delight of that boy in the mirror who looked back at him on the eve of Little League opening day in Kalamazoo, Mich.”

Oh, but the women. Jeter has dated, in chronological order, Mariah Carey, 2000 Miss Universe Lara Dutta, Joy Enriquez, Jordana Brewster, Vanessa Minnillo, Jessica Alba, Scarlett Johansson (unconfirmed), Vida Guerra, Adriana Lima, Jessica Biel, former fiancé Minka Kelly and Hannah Davis. He has denied reports that he sends his one-night stands home with gift baskets of autographed memorabilia and that he sent one woman home with a repeat gift, because he had forgotten their first time together.



This season has been one gift basket full of hagiography for Jeter. The truth is that he is a great player, just not a GREAT player. The Yankees pantheon begins with Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra, then Jeter leads the next group — Whitey Ford, Mariano Rivera, Don Mattingly, Bill Dickey and Thurman Munson. The best shortstops of all-time are Honus Wagner, Alex Rodriguez, Cal Ripken, Arky Vaughn and Luke Appling. Jeter is somewhere in the mix with Ernie Banks and Robin Yount, who played more games at other positions. Then there is Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin and Lou Boudreau.

It is not Derek Jeter’s fault that he is overrated. It is not Jeter’s fault that Cashman didn’t tell him about his poor defense until he was 33 years old. It is not his fault that Yankees fans don’t remember Ruth, Mantle or even Munson. But that overwrought Nike commercial with everyone, including Red Sox fans, tipping their cap and that saccharine Gatorade commercial backed by Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” Jeter has to be accountable for those.
— Kevin Brewer

July 24, 2014

Chase Headley



Teams | Padres [2007-14] Yankees [2014-present]

How he was acquired | The Padres drafted Headley in the second round of the 2005 amateur draft.

How he was lost | The Padres traded Headley to the Yankees for Yangervis Solarteto on July 22, 2014.

Player most similar to | Dave Hollins

Career year [2012] 31 home runs, 115 RBIs, .286 batting average, .376 on-base percentage, .498 slugging percentage.

Resume |
Top 10 MVP voting [2012]
Gold Glove award [2012]
Led league in RBIs [2012]

June 20, 2014

The greatest hitter of all time

This story originally appeared on Raleigh & Company.

In Baseball’s All-Time Best Hitters, biostatistics professor Michael J. Schell makes adjustments for eras, leagues, ballparks and everything else to determine the greatest hitter of all time. The answer was Tony Gwynn. Not Ty Cobb. Not Rogers Hornsby. Not Ted Williams.

The greatest hitter of all time died Monday. He was 54.

Gwynn singled against the Phillies for his first hit on July 19, 1982. When he reached first base, Pete Rose shook Gwynn’s hand and said: “Don’t try and catch me all in one night, kid.”

The greatest hitter of all time had 3,141 hits, 19th all time. He hit .338 for his career, 20th all time. He hit .300 or better for 19 straight seasons. Only Ty Cobb was better. He won eight batting titles. Only Cobb had more. He won his first batting title when he was 24 years old. He won his last when he was 37. He hit .394 in 1994, when a players strike ended the season on Aug. 12. He hit .368 over a five-year period. Ted Williams never had a stretch that good.



Gwynn isn’t just the best player in Padres history. He is San Diego. He played left field and point guard at San Diego State. He was drafted by the Padres and the San Diego Clippers on the same day. After he retired, Gwynn coached San Diego State’s baseball team, which plays at Tony Gwynn Stadium.

The greatest hitter of all time played all 20 seasons, all 2,440 games for the Padres. Only 10 other players who played their entire career since free agency played at least 2,000 games for only one team — Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker, Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell, Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Chipper Jones, Barry Larkin and Edgar Martinez.

Gwynn was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, winning election with 97.6 percent of the vote. Only six other players received a higher percentage — Ripken, Cobb, Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Hank Aaron.



The greatest hitter of all time faced Greg Maddux 107 times, more than any other pitcher. He hit .415 with no strikeouts. Against John Smoltz, he hit .444 with one strikeout. He hit .321 against Orel Hershiser, .321 against Fernando Valenzuela, .318 against Mike Scott, .303 against Tom Glavine and .302 against Nolan Ryan.

Gwynn struck out just 434 times in 20 seasons. Mark Reynolds equaled that in two seasons. He had more doubles than strikeouts in 11 seasons.

The greatest hitter of all time could run and field, too. He had 56 stolen bases in 1987, second in the league. He averaged 40 stolen bases over one four-year stretch in 1980s. He won five Gold Glove awards in right field.

Gwynn had 13 operations in 20 seasons, eight of them on his knees. He played with a sprained thumb in 1988 and was hitting .246 on July 1. But he hit .406 in July, .370 in August and .291 in September. He hit .313 to win his third batting title.

He was the greatest hitter of all time.
— Kevin Brewer

January 5, 2014

Jerry Coleman [1924-2014]



Jerry Coleman, the only major league player to see combat in two wars, was also an All-Star second baseman for the Yankees, the World Series MVP in 1950 and an iconic Padres broadcaster for 41 years, becoming famous for his numerous malaprops.

Union-Tribune | New York Times | Baseball Reference | malaprops