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  1. We can debate who should or shouldn’t be inducted into Cooperstown based on transgressions or the dreaded character clause. Still, there’s no denying that the Baseball Writers Association of America could vote in the single greatest class in Major League Baseball history. Let’s get this out of the way from the top. Steroid users cheated, yes. It’s impossible to understand when and how they used. There are other players in the Hall of Fame that used steroids. Players have been cheating for as long as the game is old. Arguably most damaging to any argument against PED users is Bud Selig, the Commissioner who oversaw the era and turned a blind eye. At the same time, the muscles that saved his post-lockout sport are enshrined in The Hall. If Cooperstown is considered a museum as is stated, it’s incomplete until all of the history is adequately accounted for. Alright, breathe. You can go back to the distaste saved for any players you want to be kept out. But, by the numbers...let’s take a look: Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, and Alex Rodriguez Look at that group. It’s arguably the greatest assembled collection of eight baseball players tied together at any point in history. Barry Bonds is 2nd All-Time in career fWAR while Alex Rodriguez is 13th. David Ortiz is undoubtedly the single greatest designated hitter ever to play the game. Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez both are members of the 500 home run club, while Sammy Sosa has 609 homers and an MVP to his credit. Curt Schilling has over 3,100 career strikeouts and finished runner-up for the Cy Young in three different seasons. Roger Clemens may arguably be the greatest pitcher to have ever played the game, and his seven Cy Young awards certainly don’t detract from that. On statistical merit alone, it’s hard to look at any one of these players and suggest they are not worthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown. The BBWAA has been tasked with the impossible when needing to employ the character clause. Some writers choose to abide by it. Others have decided it doesn’t hold the same intended weight it once did. Others yet struggle with the gray area and completely exclude anyone that gets too close. What Cooperstown could do to help the process as a whole is to simplify it. Give every player on the ballot the ability to be voted for with a simple “yes” or “no” check-box. Make the voting criteria no more than a reflection of the accolades that took place on the field. If you cheated and got caught, you no doubt suffered time lost and an opportunity missed. If you were banned from the game while operating as a player or manager, your statistical accomplishments become invalidated in that particular realm. As fans, we should be clamoring for the greatest we have ever seen to be part of the footnote that is a museum where the dust settles. You can disagree with any number of players because of who they are as people or how you feel about them, but if the stats counted, then that’s where the decision needs to lie. Of course, we know my feelings don’t matter. This isn’t going to happen. If Bonds and Clemens are to be enshrined, it will likely come from a committee at a later date. Those with less percentage of the vote aren’t going to magically jump up either. It’s too bad that we’ll continue to tell only parts of the story deemed relevant today, but we can dream on the eight men out that would represent the greatest eight together. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Let’s get this out of the way from the top. Steroid users cheated, yes. It’s impossible to understand when and how they used. There are other players in the Hall of Fame that used steroids. Players have been cheating for as long as the game is old. Arguably most damaging to any argument against PED users is Bud Selig, the Commissioner who oversaw the era and turned a blind eye. At the same time, the muscles that saved his post-lockout sport are enshrined in The Hall. If Cooperstown is considered a museum as is stated, it’s incomplete until all of the history is adequately accounted for. Alright, breathe. You can go back to the distaste saved for any players you want to be kept out. But, by the numbers...let’s take a look: Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz, and Alex Rodriguez Look at that group. It’s arguably the greatest assembled collection of eight baseball players tied together at any point in history. Barry Bonds is 2nd All-Time in career fWAR while Alex Rodriguez is 13th. David Ortiz is undoubtedly the single greatest designated hitter ever to play the game. Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez both are members of the 500 home run club, while Sammy Sosa has 609 homers and an MVP to his credit. Curt Schilling has over 3,100 career strikeouts and finished runner-up for the Cy Young in three different seasons. Roger Clemens may arguably be the greatest pitcher to have ever played the game, and his seven Cy Young awards certainly don’t detract from that. On statistical merit alone, it’s hard to look at any one of these players and suggest they are not worthy of enshrinement in Cooperstown. The BBWAA has been tasked with the impossible when needing to employ the character clause. Some writers choose to abide by it. Others have decided it doesn’t hold the same intended weight it once did. Others yet struggle with the gray area and completely exclude anyone that gets too close. What Cooperstown could do to help the process as a whole is to simplify it. Give every player on the ballot the ability to be voted for with a simple “yes” or “no” check-box. Make the voting criteria no more than a reflection of the accolades that took place on the field. If you cheated and got caught, you no doubt suffered time lost and an opportunity missed. If you were banned from the game while operating as a player or manager, your statistical accomplishments become invalidated in that particular realm. As fans, we should be clamoring for the greatest we have ever seen to be part of the footnote that is a museum where the dust settles. You can disagree with any number of players because of who they are as people or how you feel about them, but if the stats counted, then that’s where the decision needs to lie. Of course, we know my feelings don’t matter. This isn’t going to happen. If Bonds and Clemens are to be enshrined, it will likely come from a committee at a later date. Those with less percentage of the vote aren’t going to magically jump up either. It’s too bad that we’ll continue to tell only parts of the story deemed relevant today, but we can dream on the eight men out that would represent the greatest eight together. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Milestones are part of baseball history and the Twins have plenty of attainable marks throughout the 2021 season. 500 home runs used to be a direct ticket to induction into Cooperstown, but the steroid era has put a cloud over this previously important milestone. Out of the players with more than 500 homers, at least five players have been associated with steroids including Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and Manny Ramirez. Cruz has also been tied to steroids as he was one of at least 12 players suspended by Major League Baseball in relation to the Biogenesis drug case. At the time, it was the largest mass suspension in sport’s history. In response to the suspension, Cruz blamed the failed test on substances he took to overcome a stomach infection that caused him to lose 40 pounds in the months leading into the 2012 campaign. Even with this blemish on his resume, one of the biggest reasons Cruz hasn’t reached 500 homers is because he was considered a late bloomer. He didn’t play over 100 games in a big-league season until his age-28 season and he didn’t hit more than 30 homers in a season until he turned 29. He certainly picked up the pace from there with four 40-homer seasons in the 2010s, the most of any player during that decade. Entering play on Tuesday, Cruz sits at 419 career home runs, which places him just 8 home runs outside the top-50 in baseball history. Since 2014, he has averaged over 40 home runs per season when he has played 120 games or more. He’s been the team MVP in every season since putting on a Twins jersey. However, now that he is in his 40s, Father Time might start to take its toll. None of the top-5 seasons by players over the age of 40 saw a player hit more than 18 home runs. Cruz would need to set baseball history in order to reach the 500-home run mark. He entered his age-40 season needing 83 home runs to reach this historic milestone, but no player over 40 has ever hit more than 72 home runs total. Many of the players to have home run success over the age-40 are some of the best power hitters of all-time. Carlton Fisk played until his was 45 years old and added 72 home runs to his career total. Behind him on the list are Darrel Evans (67), Barry Bonds (59), Dave Winfield (59), Raul Ibanez (53), Carl Yastrzemski (48), Stan Musial (46) and Hank Aaron (42). Cruz searched for a two-year contract this past offseason, but Minnesota wasn’t comfortable with a multi-year deal for an aging slugger. There’s a good chance the National League adds the designated hitter as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, so Cruz may end up having more suitors next off-season. For now, Twins’ fans can continue to watch one of the game’s best power hitters in his quest for 500 home runs. Can Cruz reach this milestone? Will he have an opportunity to do it in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Over the last handful of years, there has been an unclogging of the ballot, especially since voters are limited to 10 names per ballot. This has allowed the writers to take a longer look at some of the other top candidates that remain. If I were lucky enough to have a ballot, this is how I would vote: Class of 2021 I usually predict the players to be elected in any given voting cycle, but this year, it doesn’t appear any candidate will cross the 75% threshold. At last check, Curt Schilling was the closest candidate, however, his off the field behavior will likely keep him from reaching that mark in 2021. Many players are making big jumps this year, but they all will likely have to wait until 2022 to get the famous call from Cooperstown. Future Inductees Scott Rolen (2020 Results: 35.3%, 4th Year) Rolen is a new addition to my ballot this year and I added him for a variety of reasons. He might have been the best third base defender of his era and he had the offensive skills to warrant consideration for baseball’s highest honor. His case is similar to last year’s inductee, Larry Walker, who was helped by strong defensive numbers since he didn’t have the offensive counting stats that usually lead to induction. His career WAR, Peak WAR, and JAWS are all higher than the average of the current HOF third basemen. With the current ballots revealed, Rolen has made a big jump which should put him close to being elected on the 2022 ballot. Billy Wagner (2020 Results: 31.7%, 6th Year) Baseball is constantly evolving, and relief pitchers have been a group underrepresented when it comes to HOF election. Wagner is the best reliever not yet elected to Cooperstown and he put up numbers better than some of those already enshrined. He holds the record for highest strikeout rate of any pitcher with a minimum of 800 innings pitched. However, his innings total is well below other enshrined relievers, so he is going to have to rely on rate stats. He does have the most strikeouts among left-handed relievers. Former Twin Joe Nathan will be paying close attention to Wagner’s case in the coming years. May Never Get In (But Still On My Ballot) Andrew Jones (19.4%, 4th Year), Roger Clemens (61.0%, 9th Year), Barry Bonds (60.7%, 9th Year) These three players are tough pencil in for a variety of reasons. Jones was one of the best defensive players of all-time and he has gained a lot of support during the current voting cycle as he will likely end with around 40% of the vote. There’s no question that Clemens and Bonds are two of the best players to ever play the game. However, steroid use is part of their story and some voters have not been able to ignore that fact. Outside of baseball, Bonds and Jones have been accused of domestic abuse while Clemens is accused of having an affair with a much younger woman. Bonds and Clemens are trending at over 70% of the vote so far, but it would take a big jump on the remaining ballots to clear 75%. To provide transparency, I removed Omar Vizquel from my ballot this year as MLB continues to investigate some of his off-field behavior including domestic abuse. He was a borderline candidate, and these issues were enough to take him off. To see the full 2021 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot, CLICK HERE. On January 26, the BBWAA will announce the results of the 2021 Hall of Fame balloting. Any players chosen will be inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend starting on Sunday, July 25 at 12:30 pm CST. This would also include last year’s class of 2020. Who makes your Hall of Fame ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. What does Bonds, McGwire, or Sosa's home run records mean in a game that is just another version of video game? Set their record up as per cent of HRs hit. Ruth hit 60 and the teams averaged 58, Bonds hit 73 and teams averaged 185. Time to get some real perspective. Bonds would have needed to hit 191. In an era where we seem to forget how great baseball has been and have instead focused on the "three true outcomes" we have also lost the three great values - excitement, speed, and drama. I do not want to watch 3 hour and 7 minute versions of HR derby where only three HRs are hit. No wonder BB is losing out on fan response. Put it next to Basketball and football on TV and there is no comparison. I have always preferred radio for my baseball fix, but if I went back to my childhood with my transistor under my pillow I could no longer stay awake long enough for the extra 45 minutes, nor would I be captivated by the potential to steal, to hit and run, to bunt. Strike outs are just a prolonged whack-a-mole game. In 2019 the best pitcher in baseball - Gerrit Cole struck out 326 hitters and there were 21,415 strike outs in the AL. In 1946, Bob Feller the best pitcher in baseball struck out 348 batters and the AL had 5225. Cole struck out 0.015% while Feller struck out struck out 0.06% of all the batters who had a K in the AL that year. https://www.baseball-almanac.com/hitting/histrk4.shtml Yes, I like the bunt, the stolen base, and the hit and run. I do not mind the shift because in the past the batters would have adjusted. I do like BA/RBI/OBP/Slugging but I hate to see a percentage like Miguel Sano with 90 Ks in 186 AB - .483 average versus his real BA of .204. Miguel is projected for 2021 to bat 227 with 185 Ks. Baseball Reference. Here is the list of top strikeout percentages (lowest) for 1000 batters in MLB history. https://www.baseball-almanac.com/hitting/histrkop1.shtml or https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/at_bats_per_strikeout_career.shtml MLB has now hired Theo Epstein to help make the game more marketable, more appealing. I know - the true BB fan loves the game and does not need change. If we are going to attract the best athletes, the most fans, the most income for the game then we need to address more than the hardline stathead. In honor of my favorite player of all time - Hank Aaron never had a season with 100 strikeouts! He came close with 97 and 96 in 1966 - 67, but never reached 90 in the other 21 years! In 1958 he hit 44 HRs and struck out 58 times! The Minneapolis Tribune had this note - 0 Times Aaron struck out 100 times in a season; in 23 seasons he struck out 1,383 times, an average of 60 per season. Jason Stark adds, "And as long as we’re talking active hitters, you know how many have already had more multi-strikeout games than Hank Aaron had in 23 seasons? How about 51! That group includes the likes of Miguel Sanó (70 more multi-K games in 2,759 fewer games than Aaron) … and Mike Zunino (246 multi-K games despite 647 fewer homers than Aaron). … And coming right up, it’s Joey Gallo (202 multi-K games in the first 473 games of his career)."
  6. There may be some unclogging of ballots after multiple years where some writers felt there were more than 10 worthy candidates. This season could allow writers to consider the resumes of some of the other top candidates that have been held over from previous years. If I were lucky enough to have a ballot, this is how I would vote: Class of 2020 Derek Jeter: Jeter’s resume is undeniable. He was part of five World Series teams and a critical component in bringing the Yankees franchise back after struggling through the 1980s. He has played in the most postseason series all-time and he hit .308 in the playoffs. He ranks in the all-time top-30 for games played, total bases, and runs scored while finishing in the top-10 for hits and at-bats. Twice he led the AL in hits, and he had more than 200-hits in eight seasons. He did all of this while playing shortstop where he played the second most games at that position. The only question remaining is if he will tie Rivera and become the second player to be a unanimous selection. Future Inductees Omar Vizquel: I’m a big Ozzie Smith fan and Vizquel follows in the same mold as Smith. Both players provided almost all their value on the defensive side of the ball. Also, their longevity at one of baseball’s most important positions is something to be commended. Smith has the most Gold Gloves all-time among shortstops, but Vizquel is only two behind him and his 11 total awards are nothing to scoff at. He received 42.8% of the vote in 2019, so I don’t think there is much of a chance for him to make the big jump to 75%. May Never Get In (But Still on My Ballot) Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Andrew Jones, Todd Helton, Larry Walker Bonds and Clemens are two of the best players I will ever see play the game. Unfortunately, they made some poor decisions during the height of the steroid era. I think both players would have been inducted into Cooperstown even without using steroids and that’s why I continue to have them on my ballot. Andrew Jones was a freak in the outfield and his career .823 OPS shows that he was more than able to hold his own. He only got 32 votes last season, so he has a long way to go. Helton and Walker are both very intriguing players. Walker is in his last year of eligibility and he finished the last voting period being named on 42.8%. I truly believe he is a Hall of Famer, but I think he will have to be elected through one of the other committee votes. Helton has only been on one ballot, but I see him taking a very similar path to Walker. He will make subtle gains in the years ahead but it seems unlikely for the writers to elect him. To be transparent, little has changed on my ballot from last year to this year. I correctly predicted three of the four players who would be elected last year (Holladay, Martinez, and Rivera) while having Mussina on my future inductions list. I have only added one player to this year’s ballot with Jeter being a lock to make the Hall. To see the full 2020 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot CLICK HERE. On January 21, the BBWAA will announce the results of the 2020 Hall of Fame balloting. Any players chosen will be inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend starting on Sunday, July 26 at 12:30 pm CST. Who makes your ballot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. Looking at the totality of this situation, I simply can’t come to any conclusion other than this being the most impactful scandal in the history of Major League Baseball. The White Sox fixed a World Series game in 1919 for some additional funds. Pete Rose bet on his own team. Steroids ran rampant through the sport and everyone benefited. This though, this is different. In an effort to stay organized, let’s break it down in to small pieces: On sign stealing I have zero problem with sign stealing in general. Looking in to see what the catcher is putting down and relaying that to hitters is a worthwhile practice. Changing up looks or going with different identifiers is something battery mates can do to combat this. When electronic devices are involved however, all the nuance is removed, and things are taken to an unfair level. Unequivocally, cheating. On Mike Fiers The Houston Astros cheated, plain and simple. Fiers was part of this and he blew it up by giving quotes to The Athletic, but he was still a beneficiary. Despite taking two years to come public with it, Trevor Bauer suggests Fiers (among others) had long been looking for baseball to take a greater stance. I still don't believe that absolves Fiers from wrongdoing or makes him a hero, but noting his claims were falling on deaf ears, he took charge. There's a substantial amount of courage in that, and my stance on his decision has done nearly a 180 in less than 24 hours. On the fallout We now have watched as three different managers and a general manager all lost their jobs. Two of them definitely feel a level of hurt that won’t soon go away. A.J. Hinch and Jeff Lunhow deserved what they got but are the farthest from the transgressions. Hinch needed to escalate the issues, and Lunhow trusted a manager that didn’t do enough. Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran acted as ringleaders of sorts. The former looks the worst in all of this, while the latter sacrificed a career of integrity for fleeting moments of poor decision-making. None of the punishments are unjustified, but it’s certainly unfortunate the rest of those who were on the field with Beltran are currently in the clear. On that character clause If there’s a day to examine the silliness of enshrinement into Cooperstown, it may be when things like this happen. More than any other sport, history matters in baseball. As Jayson Stark so perfectly put it, “These things happened. They. All. Happened. All of them!” It’s why stripping the Astros' World Series title is nonsensical, and it’s why Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rose, and Jackson all belong in The Hall. Each of these feats happened, no matter what black eye may be tied to them. The sport grows, evolves, and is better for its forward-thinking decisions, but retroactive decision-making isn’t how a museum works. We can't erase what the Astros did, but there's certainly something to be learned from it. On what’s blowing up We haven’t yet seen the end of this. Beltran “stepping down” as he did today was the next step in this ongoing saga. It appears someone with inside information is running rampant on the extent of what Houston was actually doing. Initially claiming to be a niece of Beltran, the account has now been suggested to be a burner for a player. The validity in the claims is backed by having nailed the Beltran hire, and subsequently his "firing." Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve have both been named directly, and being tied to electronic devices that line up with weird behavior following a World Series win is hardly a good look. An active player being suspended for this before all the investigating is done would not be a surprise. You can bet that the Astros will be public enemy number one in any opposing ballpark, and the production of those players will be highly scrutinized going forward. https://twitter.com/Jomboy_/status/1217886556263940098 *Since reported this is not Beltran's niece, but potentially someone with inside info. On what's next Do we really even have a clue at this point? Following the initial punishment of the Astros, Major League Baseball asked all clubs not to comment. That sort of recommendation from Rob Manfred leaves a can of worms spilling out with the lid nowhere in sight. Other teams have been implicated, more players have been named, and while it's the Astros who have currently taken the fall (as they should, and with Boston pending), the sport has a massive rain cloud hovering and the only question is when it dumps. The difficulty with investigation regarding this sort of thing is how far do you go? Where do you stop digging? I think we've now embarked into a territory where "We'll never know" is staunchly met by "It will never be enough." On who wins and loses We all do, for both. It must be that way, right? This offseason has created a brushfire that is burning brighter than the league has ever seen. Baseball has long desired to be better than the kid-brother of the NFL or NBA. We may not have gotten there in the most desirable way, but welcome to the most exciting offseason ever. On the flip side, we aren’t talking about the mega deals being signed, who is the World Series favorite, or how well positioned the Minnesota Twins may be in the AL Central. The game gets a bit cleaner when these things happen, but how long do we wonder if everything isn’t actually tainted? We won't hear Justin Verlander chime in on this one. He's often been quick to police those around the game, but despite currently being employed by the Astros, he was also there and present for that ring in 2017. Other pitchers though, and in this instance one from the Twins, can come to a very logical perspective. https://twitter.com/PJHughes45/status/1217892615166685184 In closing, I think it’s hard to back away from this and see it as anything but a monumental moment in baseball’s lifecycle. This isn’t about sign-stealing, and it isn’t even about the Houston Astros. This is about competition, winning, and what we’ll do to achieve it, even more so when money is involved. The bombs will eventually cease to be dropped, but when will the smoke clear? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Hitting the ball hard has virtually always been his path to success. We don’t need to rehash where his performances and outcomes rank him in 2019 - this previous blog post accomplished that - but the all-time greats have had their doors knocked on plenty by Nelson Cruz this season.By now you know the backstory. Cruz didn’t debut as a regular in the big leagues until 2009 as a 28-year-old. He’s now 39 and is experiencing the best season of his career. Minnesota beat out a tightly contested market including the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays for his services, and he’s been an integral part of a team that’s hit the most home runs during a single season in major league history. It’s one thing to put up an incredible power season. It’s a great development to absolutely crush a free agent signing. It’s a completely different development to rival the likes of Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, and David Ortiz. When checking in on seasons to take place after a player turns 38 years old is somewhat difficult for a guy like Cruz. He’s posted 3.6 fWAR in 104 games thus far, which ranks 37th of 210 seasons to meet the criteria. The top of the leader board is a Who’s Who of Hall of Famers, but it’s also chock full of guys still playing a position or those from yesteryear. Barry Bonds tops the list while names like Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Willie Mays all make appearances as well. In strict terms of value, Cruz comes up a bit short. When comparing his skill set though, there’s a lot of eye-opening to be done. Only five players, including Nelson, have ever posted an OPS north of 1.000 after turning 38. That list is Bonds, Williams, Ty Cobb, and Ortiz. Cruz trails only Bonds and Williams in the single season slugging department, and his 35 homers round out the top 10. Even more impressively, only 13 other seasons in that 210 total have been composed of fewer games. Cruz has missed time due to a nagging wrist injury, but it hasn’t slowed him down when in the lineup and has only dropped what would be an even more gaudy counting stat line. In recent memory Minnesota employed the services of another aging talent in the rotund form of Bartolo Colon. A 44-year-old back in 2017, there was nothing exceptional about his 5.18 ERA. He was brought in to eat innings and did exactly that down the stretch. Cruz was signed to be a key cog in a lineup destined to make noise, and his response has been greater than anyone could’ve imagined. Baseball is a unique sport in that the best players generally are consistent on a yearly basis. Aside from that group though, there are often breakouts that can be remembered for some time. Phil Hughes’ record setting K/BB ratio in 2014 comes to mind, and Nelson Cruz’s exploits for Rocco Baldelli this season will likely be remembered in the same vein. Cruz won’t be talked about in the same realm as the likes of Bonds, Williams, or the previously mentioned tie-ins, but for 2019 he absolutely has some real parallels. The Twins are given the opportunity to bring Nelson back in 2020 at a discounted $12 million, and you can bet they'll exercise that option. Expecting him to defy Father Time again may be foolish, and the age cliff can be steep when it appears. For now though, there’s no denying this has been one of the most exceptional seasons in Minnesota history, and it’s one that Cruz can hang his hat on well into retirement. Whether home run number 400 comes (he’s currently 5 shy) before September flips or not, the greatest of greats would be proud of this elder statesmen representing longevity well. Click here to view the article
  9. By now you know the backstory. Cruz didn’t debut as a regular in the big leagues until 2009 as a 28-year-old. He’s now 39 and is experiencing the best season of his career. Minnesota beat out a tightly contested market including the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays for his services, and he’s been an integral part of a team that’s hit the most home runs during a single season in major league history. It’s one thing to put up an incredible power season. It’s a great development to absolutely crush a free agent signing. It’s a completely different development to rival the likes of Barry Bonds, Frank Thomas, and David Ortiz. When checking in on seasons to take place after a player turns 38 years old is somewhat difficult for a guy like Cruz. He’s posted 3.6 fWAR in 104 games thus far, which ranks 37th of 210 seasons to meet the criteria. The top of the leader board is a Who’s Who of Hall of Famers, but it’s also chock full of guys still playing a position or those from yesteryear. Barry Bonds tops the list while names like Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, and Willie Mays all make appearances as well. In strict terms of value, Cruz comes up a bit short. When comparing his skill set though, there’s a lot of eye-opening to be done. Only five players, including Nelson, have ever posted an OPS north of 1.000 after turning 38. That list is Bonds, Williams, Ty Cobb, and Ortiz. Cruz trails only Bonds and Williams in the single season slugging department, and his 35 homers round out the top 10. Even more impressively, only 13 other seasons in that 210 total have been composed of fewer games. Cruz has missed time due to a nagging wrist injury, but it hasn’t slowed him down when in the lineup and has only dropped what would be an even more gaudy counting stat line. In recent memory Minnesota employed the services of another aging talent in the rotund form of Bartolo Colon. A 44-year-old back in 2017, there was nothing exceptional about his 5.18 ERA. He was brought in to eat innings and did exactly that down the stretch. Cruz was signed to be a key cog in a lineup destined to make noise, and his response has been greater than anyone could’ve imagined. Baseball is a unique sport in that the best players generally are consistent on a yearly basis. Aside from that group though, there are often breakouts that can be remembered for some time. Phil Hughes’ record setting K/BB ratio in 2014 comes to mind, and Nelson Cruz’s exploits for Rocco Baldelli this season will likely be remembered in the same vein. Cruz won’t be talked about in the same realm as the likes of Bonds, Williams, or the previously mentioned tie-ins, but for 2019 he absolutely has some real parallels. The Twins are given the opportunity to bring Nelson back in 2020 at a discounted $12 million, and you can bet they'll exercise that option. Expecting him to defy Father Time again may be foolish, and the age cliff can be steep when it appears. For now though, there’s no denying this has been one of the most exceptional seasons in Minnesota history, and it’s one that Cruz can hang his hat on well into retirement. Whether home run number 400 comes (he’s currently 5 shy) before September flips or not, the greatest of greats would be proud of this elder statesmen representing longevity well.
  10. Few Twins fans may be aware of the journey Cruz has taken to the 400-home run mark. In recent years, fans saw future Hall of Fame player Jim Thome collect his 600th home run in a Twins uniform. Thome was a different player than Cruz and fans might not fully appreciate what Cruz has been able to do in the late stages of his career. Among players over 30, Cruz has the 10th most home runs all-time. Players ahead of him on the list include all-time greats like Bond, Ruth, Aaron, and Mays. Because of his late start, Cruz likely won’t be able to catch these historic players on the all-time list, but he has established himself as one of the best home run hitters among players over the age of 30. Home Run Number 1 Ironically, Cruz hit his first career home run against the Minnesota Twins in a game where the Twins destroyed the Texas Rangers. On July 31, 2006, Carlos Silva dominated the Rangers for seven innings by limiting them to one run on six hits. Minnesota had an 8-0 lead after two innings and added another six runs between the fourth and fifth frames. Cruz, a 26-year old rookie, was used as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning for Carlos Lee. He stepped in against Willie Eyre (talk about a name that is a blast from the past) and hit a solo shot to left-center field. His second home run wouldn’t come until more than two weeks later, but he recorded his first on the road to 400 at the Metrodome. Home Run Number 100 Almost five years to the day of his first home run, Cruz collected the 100th home run of his career. Like his first home run, it happened in a loss and it happened on the road. Cruz was still in Texas at the time and he was sitting at 22 home runs for the year on July 29, 2011. He would end the year with 29 home runs, the second highest total of his career at the time. In this game, Cruz stepped in during the second inning where neither team had yet scored. Brett Cecil was on the mound and he was on the way to seven innings of one-run ball. The only run he would allow was on a solo home run to Cruz, which turned out to be the 100th of his career. Home Run Number 200 Cruz hit quite the stretch of seasons when he reached age 33. From 2014 through 2016, he averaged over 40 home runs per season and led all of baseball in home runs in 2014. He entered the 2015 season only needing three home runs to accumulate 200 homers for his career and he made it to the mark in April. It was less than four full seasons since he had crossed the century mark, but he made his 200th home run one to remember. The trend continued with his 200th long-ball as Cruz was on the road (Dodger Stadium) and his team (Seattle) ended up losing. Cruz collected his 200th home run in the first inning off Brandon McCarthy. It was a two-run shot with two outs in the frame. Later in the game, he would hit another homer, a solo shot, off McCarthy again. It still wasn’t enough as the Mariners lost by one. Home Run Number 300 His 300th home run came even faster as he reached the total in July 2017. It was only two and a half seasons since his 200th home run, but that’s how fast a player can move up the list when he is hitting 40+ home runs per season. For the first time in his career, he hit a milestone home run at home and his team ended up winning the game. Cruz finished the game with three hits but his memorable long-ball came in the eighth inning after his team entered the frame up by one run. His three-run home run off of old friend Liam Hendricks helped Seattle to separate themselves. He drove in five of Seattle’s seven runs in the game. Home Run Number 400- Coming Soon? Cruz is coming off a ruptured ECU tendon in his left wrist, so there are plenty of questions about what kind of performance he will be able to produce now that he is back on the field. Prior to the injury, he was hitting at an unbelievable clip. Since the All-Star break, Cruz had a .333/.429/.900 slash-line with 16 home runs, the same number he compiled in the first half. He’s only eight home runs away from the 400 mark, which will hopefully take place before the end of the season. Looking at his other milestone home runs, it’s likely to come on the road and in a loss for the Twins. Even if he doesn’t get there in 2019, he’s still under contract for the 2020 campaign. When do you think Cruz will hit home run number 400? Leave a COMMENT and star the discussion.
  11. Nelson Cruz was back in the Twins line-up on Monday, but he was never supposed to be to this point in his career. To call Cruz a late bloomer would be an understatement. He never made it on to any major prospect top-100 list and he didn’t debut until he was 24-years old. His first career home run didn’t come until his age-26 season and he wouldn’t play 100 big league games in a season until he was 28. Now Twins fans are witnessing an ageless wonder on the cusp of 400 career home runs.Few Twins fans may be aware of the journey Cruz has taken to the 400-home run mark. In recent years, fans saw future Hall of Fame player Jim Thome collect his 600th home run in a Twins uniform. Thome was a different player than Cruz and fans might not fully appreciate what Cruz has been able to do in the late stages of his career. Among players over 30, Cruz has the 10th most home runs all-time. Players ahead of him on the list include all-time greats like Bond, Ruth, Aaron, and Mays. Because of his late start, Cruz likely won’t be able to catch these historic players on the all-time list, but he has established himself as one of the best home run hitters among players over the age of 30. Home Run Number 1 Ironically, Cruz hit his first career home run against the Minnesota Twins in a game where the Twins destroyed the Texas Rangers. On July 31, 2006, Carlos Silva dominated the Rangers for seven innings by limiting them to one run on six hits. Minnesota had an 8-0 lead after two innings and added another six runs between the fourth and fifth frames. Cruz, a 26-year old rookie, was used as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning for Carlos Lee. He stepped in against Willie Eyre (talk about a name that is a blast from the past) and hit a solo shot to left-center field. His second home run wouldn’t come until more than two weeks later, but he recorded his first on the road to 400 at the Metrodome. Home Run Number 100 Almost five years to the day of his first home run, Cruz collected the 100th home run of his career. Like his first home run, it happened in a loss and it happened on the road. Cruz was still in Texas at the time and he was sitting at 22 home runs for the year on July 29, 2011. He would end the year with 29 home runs, the second highest total of his career at the time. In this game, Cruz stepped in during the second inning where neither team had yet scored. Brett Cecil was on the mound and he was on the way to seven innings of one-run ball. The only run he would allow was on a solo home run to Cruz, which turned out to be the 100th of his career. Home Run Number 200 Cruz hit quite the stretch of seasons when he reached age 33. From 2014 through 2016, he averaged over 40 home runs per season and led all of baseball in home runs in 2014. He entered the 2015 season only needing three home runs to accumulate 200 homers for his career and he made it to the mark in April. It was less than four full seasons since he had crossed the century mark, but he made his 200th home run one to remember. The trend continued with his 200th long-ball as Cruz was on the road (Dodger Stadium) and his team (Seattle) ended up losing. Cruz collected his 200th home run in the first inning off Brandon McCarthy. It was a two-run shot with two outs in the frame. Later in the game, he would hit another homer, a solo shot, off McCarthy again. It still wasn’t enough as the Mariners lost by one. Home Run Number 300 His 300th home run came even faster as he reached the total in July 2017. It was only two and a half seasons since his 200th home run, but that’s how fast a player can move up the list when he is hitting 40+ home runs per season. For the first time in his career, he hit a milestone home run at home and his team ended up winning the game. Cruz finished the game with three hits but his memorable long-ball came in the eighth inning after his team entered the frame up by one run. His three-run home run off of old friend Liam Hendricks helped Seattle to separate themselves. He drove in five of Seattle’s seven runs in the game. Home Run Number 400- Coming Soon? Cruz is coming off a ruptured ECU tendon in his left wrist, so there are plenty of questions about what kind of performance he will be able to produce now that he is back on the field. Prior to the injury, he was hitting at an unbelievable clip. Since the All-Star break, Cruz had a .333/.429/.900 slash-line with 16 home runs, the same number he compiled in the first half. He’s only eight home runs away from the 400 mark, which will hopefully take place before the end of the season. Looking at his other milestone home runs, it’s likely to come on the road and in a loss for the Twins. Even if he doesn’t get there in 2019, he’s still under contract for the 2020 campaign. When do you think Cruz will hit home run number 400? Leave a COMMENT and star the discussion. Click here to view the article
  12. After reading this in the Patrick Ruesse column - "Major League Baseball security held its annual meeting with the Twins on Friday, and among the issues was a review of baseball’s long-standing prohibitions against gambling. The exact rules against gambling for players and staff also were read to the entire clubhouse at the start of spring training last month, in both English and Spanish. "This anti-gambling reminder for the Twins came a couple of days after Peter Gammons, the baseball writing legend, broke the news that big-league teams would be required on gamedays to send their lineups to the commissioner’s office at least 15 minutes before they would be made public. "The commissioner’s office would then ship that information to their official gaming partner, MGM Resorts International, or any other public gambling enterprise that wanted to purchase this as part of a data feed for every game from MLB." All I can say is put in Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose. They were just ahead of their time. Gambling was the panacea the states looked to for new revenue after years of outlawing gambling and now sports are seeing it as a new source of revenue so forget the hypocrisy. If you think Bonds and McGwire and Sosa...should be in, I say put these two all time greats in first. Their actions did not destroy the record book like the steroid users did. Joe might have a tougher case because we was supposed to be in on the Black Sox scandal and even though evidence is questionable that is a terrible offense. Rose on the other hand was the ultimate hustler on the field and has been the ultimate hustler of a different kind off the field. Perhaps the biggest benefit to putting all these men in is that we will stop talking about them and move on. As it is Rose has had the most attention of any of the big red machine because the story won't go away. Maybe the same would be true of the steroid users. I do not want them in, but it might be the price for stopping the stream of annual articles and anguish. But most of all lets see how Baseball handles its first bite of forbidden fruit. You can see a long line of banned and banished players at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/baseballs-bans-and-blacklists-5182f08d43ff and this list includes Mantle and Mays - post career! They were greeters at a Casino. Be sure and check out the Gallery Album Since I posted this I began to think about the cheater team and it is a powerful lineup: OF - Bonds, Manny Ramirez, Sosa IF - McGwire, Rose, Alex Rodriguez, Shoeless Joe Jackson C - I do not have a name so maybe we put the best framer in here since he is stealing strikes P - Clemens, Cicotte, Maglie That team is going to win a lot of games and there is a huge bench!
  13. There needs to be a fine line drawn and each person is going to put that line in different spots. When baseball started testing/suspensions for steroids in 2005, players continued to break the rules. Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez broke the rules and won't be on this ballot or any future ballot. Here are the ten names I would pencil in if I had a ballot: Class of 2017 Jeff Bagwell: It was close last year but Bagwell's 71.6% of the vote fell just short of the 75% needed for induction. There are some who have questioned his candidacy because he was a power hitter in the midst of the steroids era. Bagwell is tied with Ty Cobb for the third most seasons with a .420+OBP, .540+SLG, and 15+ stolen bases. Only Ed Delahanty and Barry Bonds are higher on the list. Tim Raines: Raines enters his tenth and final year on the ballot with a full head of steam. He finished last year with almost 70% of the vote and the ballots released so far this year show he should easily make it. He is one of the best lead-off hitters of all time. He's fifth in stolen bases, 13th in stolen base percentage and 46th in win probability added. Ivan Rodriguez: It took Mike Piazza, the best offensive catcher of all time, four tries to be elected to the Hall. With Piazza breaking down the door, it looks like Ivan Rodriguez will get to follow on his coat-tails. The 14-time All-Star won the AL MVP in 1999 and was NLCS MVP in 2003. He played more games at catcher than anyone in history and he has 13 Gold Gloves to show for all this time behind the plate. Future Inductions Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero is an interesting case and I think voters will be more open to his election in the years to come. He was a career .318/.379/.553 hitter while ranking in the top five in the MVP voting four times including winning the 2004 AL MVP. His .318 average and 449 home runs have only been matched by Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Jimmie Foxx. That's some rare company. Trevor Hoffman: For a few seasons, he held the all-time record for career saves before being passed by Mariano Rivera. Even as a relief pitcher, he finished second in the Cy Young voting twice and had two other top six finishes. He was the first pitcher to reach 500 saves and one of two players to have reached the 600 save mark. Relief pitchers have a tough time getting in but he was a trailblazer at the position. May Never Get In (But Still On My Ballot) Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling Bonds and Clemens are two of the greatest players of all-time but the steroid cloud continues to haunt them. They are each making big jumps on the 2017 ballot so it will be interesting to see what will happen in the years to come. Martinez is one of the best designated hitters in history but the voters also seems to be holding his lack of defense against him. Mussina has been one of the last names on my ballot in each of the last two seasons. He was a good pitcher for a very long time but it might not be enough to find a place in Cooperstown. Schilling is losing votes very quickly. His outspoken nature since he has retired have hurt his chances. He is still one of the best post-season pitchers in history so I would put him on my ballot strictly for his play on the field. So who do you think gets in? Who else should have been on my ballot? Who should have been left off? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Here is the official list of players available to be voted for by the BBWAA . Who makes your list?
  14. The winds of change are blowing through the hallowed grounds of Cooperstown. Debate has swirled over which players, if any, from the steroids era should be elected. Mike Piazza was elected as part of the class of 2016 and there were steroid rumors surrounding him. Other top players from the steroid era, like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, have been forced to wait their turn. Within the last few months, it was announced that former MLB commissioner Bud Selig will be enshrined in Cooperstown. This is the man who oversaw the growth of baseball to the level that it is today. He also allowed the steroid era to continue longer than it should have gone on. If the architect of the steroid era is being let into the Hall, players of that culture will soon follow suit.There needs to be a fine line drawn and each person is going to put that line in different spots. When baseball started testing/suspensions for steroids in 2005, players continued to break the rules. Rafael Palmeiro, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez broke the rules and won't be on this ballot or any future ballot. Here are the ten names I would pencil in if I had a ballot: Class of 2017 Jeff Bagwell: It was close last year but Bagwell's 71.6% of the vote fell just short of the 75% needed for induction. There are some who have questioned his candidacy because he was a power hitter in the midst of the steroids era. Bagwell is tied with Ty Cobb for the third most seasons with a .420+OBP, .540+SLG, and 15+ stolen bases. Only Ed Delahanty and Barry Bonds are higher on the list. Tim Raines: Raines enters his tenth and final year on the ballot with a full head of steam. He finished last year with almost 70% of the vote and the ballots released so far this year show he should easily make it. He is one of the best lead-off hitters of all time. He's fifth in stolen bases, 13th in stolen base percentage and 46th in win probability added. Ivan Rodriguez: It took Mike Piazza, the best offensive catcher of all time, four tries to be elected to the Hall. With Piazza breaking down the door, it looks like Ivan Rodriguez will get to follow on his coat-tails. The 14-time All-Star won the AL MVP in 1999 and was NLCS MVP in 2003. He played more games at catcher than anyone in history and he has 13 Gold Gloves to show for all this time behind the plate. Future Inductions Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero is an interesting case and I think voters will be more open to his election in the years to come. He was a career .318/.379/.553 hitter while ranking in the top five in the MVP voting four times including winning the 2004 AL MVP. His .318 average and 449 home runs have only been matched by Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, and Jimmie Foxx. That's some rare company. Trevor Hoffman: For a few seasons, he held the all-time record for career saves before being passed by Mariano Rivera. Even as a relief pitcher, he finished second in the Cy Young voting twice and had two other top six finishes. He was the first pitcher to reach 500 saves and one of two players to have reached the 600 save mark. Relief pitchers have a tough time getting in but he was a trailblazer at the position. May Never Get In (But Still On My Ballot) Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling Bonds and Clemens are two of the greatest players of all-time but the steroid cloud continues to haunt them. They are each making big jumps on the 2017 ballot so it will be interesting to see what will happen in the years to come. Martinez is one of the best designated hitters in history but the voters also seems to be holding his lack of defense against him. Mussina has been one of the last names on my ballot in each of the last two seasons. He was a good pitcher for a very long time but it might not be enough to find a place in Cooperstown. Schilling is losing votes very quickly. His outspoken nature since he has retired have hurt his chances. He is still one of the best post-season pitchers in history so I would put him on my ballot strictly for his play on the field. So who do you think gets in? Who else should have been on my ballot? Who should have been left off? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Here is the official list of players available to be voted for by the BBWAA . Who makes your list? Click here to view the article
  15. http://www.metro.us/_internal/gxml!0/r0dc21o2f3vste5s7ezej9x3a10rp3w$5vi54zaadl731t8p227qiq7zh2dinyv/Screen%20shot%202016-06-02%20at%207.jpeg The 2017 inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced Wednesday, January 18th.Which players from this year's ballot are deserving of a plaque in Cooperstown? Player 2016 voting percentage Years on ballot Jeff Bagwell 71.6% 6 Barry Bonds 44.3% 4 Roger Clemens 45.2% 4 Trevor Hoffman 68.3% 1 Jeff Kent 16.6% 3 Edgar Martinez 43.4% 7 Fred McGriff 20.9% 9 Mike Mussina 43.0% 3 Tim Raines 69.8% 9 Curt Schilling 52.3% 4 Gary Sheffield 11.6% 2 Lee Smith 34.1% 14 Sammy Sosa 7.0% 4 Billy Wagner 10.5% 1 Larry Walker 15.5% 6 Ivan Rodriguez Manny Ramirez Vladimir Guerrero Mike Cameron J.D. Drew Jorge Posada Magglio Ordonez Derrek Lee Tim Wakefield Edgar Renteria Melvin Mora Carlos Guillen Casey Blake Jason Varitek Orlando Cabrera Pat Burrell Freddy Sanchez Arthur Rhodes Matt Stairs
  16. I looked at all of the first-round draft picks going all the way back to the beginning. 1965 was the first year of the amateur draft. I lumped all of the first-round picks together and ran some fun pivot tables. Some of the results are interesting, even surprising. First, let’s take a look the Average WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for the top 12 players selected each year. Admittedly, there is no perfect way of making the data mean a lot. The sample size is just too small. There have been 50 drafts, but the data is incomplete for anyone who continues to play. So, be sure to take this information with a grain of salt. Pick / Avg WAR 1 / 40.8 2 / 35.5 3 / 48.4 4 / 44.6 5 / 38.6 6 / 56.7 7 / 37.1 8 / 49.2 9 / 28.8 10 / 34.5 11 / 26.3 12 / 32.0 The data on this chart shows that the #6 pick has proven to be the best over the history of the MLB Draft. At 56.7 WAR, the #6 spot is 7.5 WAR ahead of the next highest position, the #8 spot. Now, the #6 spot has produced some of the best baseball players in history. The Pittsburgh Pirates took an outfielder from Arizona State with the sixth pick of the 1985 MLB Draft. Barry Bonds turned into one of the best hitters of all time. He posted 162.4 WAR. The Milwaukee Brewers drafted a shortstop out of a high school in Tampa Bay. Gary Sheffield was one of the most feared hitters in baseball during his playing days. He posted a career WAR of 60.2. In 1992, the New York Yankees took a tall, skinny shortstop out of a Michigan high school with the sixth pick. Derek Jeter became the face of Major League Baseball for almost two decades. He posted a career WAR of 71.8. Jeter will most likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Bonds is the all time home run leader and should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And for similar reasons, despite over 500 home runs and an OPS over .900, Sheffield was not, but should have been, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. There is a second tier of players that were also taken with the sixth overall pick in an MLB Draft. Zack Greinke was the sixth overall pick out of high school in 2002. He was at 42.0 WAR coming into this season. That is just ahead of Andy Van Slyke (41.2 WAR) who was the Cardinals’ first-round pick in 1979. Kevin McReynolds (29.9) was the top pick of the Padres in 1981. John Mayberry (24.7) was the Astros top pick in 1967. The Cardinals selected Terry Kennedy (21.5) with the sixth overall pick in 1977. Spike Owen (12.5) was the Mariners first round pick in 1982. Former Twins outfielder Ken Landreaux (10.4) was the Angels first round pick in 1976. Former Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli (10.2) was the sixth pick in the 2000 draft. If not for his injuries, his numbers could have been greater. Of 50 sixth overall picks in the MLB draft, only those 11 players have posted a WAR of 10 for their career. To be fair, there are players selected with the sixth overall pick in recent years who are likely to surpass 10 WAR in the next few years. That includes Washington Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon and New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler. The last three #6 picks were Albert Almora (Cubs 2012), Colin Moran (Marlins 2013), and Alex Jackson (Mariners 2014). Obviously they have yet to play in the big leagues and could alter these numbers. Of the 50 players taken with the sixth overall pick, 13 players have a negative WAR or 0 WAR. Another 14 of them never (or have not yet) played in the big leagues. Twins fans will likely remember the 1998 draft. The Minnesota Twins took a left-handed starting pitcher. He was very successful in college baseball while playing at powerhouse Arizona State University. He was said to have great mechanics and had worked with his father all the way up. Ryan Mills never pitched in a big league game. The draft is one way for an organization to accumulate talent. Having a high draft pick certainly should increase the odds of getting a more talented, elite-level prospect. But it doesn’t guarantee anything. We would all love for whoever the Twins pick this year to become the next Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield or Derek Jeter. We should also be thrilled if that player becomes the next Zack Greinke or Andy Van Slyke. The important thing to remember is that it’s possible to get a Brian Dozier in the eighth round or a Kent Hrbek in the 17th round.
  17. As we continue to review information as the 2015 MLB Draft approaches, I thought it would be interesting to look back at players selected with the sixth overall pick. That is the pick that the Minnesota Twins will make on Monday, June 8. So often, we look at the draft and think that, especially with a high first-round pick, the team has to get it right. The team has to find a big league star. The reality is that the draft is a complete crap shoot and it is nearly impossible to predict which players will become big leaguers, much less perennial All Stars.I looked at all of the first-round draft picks going all the way back to the beginning. 1965 was the first year of the amateur draft. I lumped all of the first-round picks together and ran some fun pivot tables. Some of the results are interesting, even surprising. First, let’s take a look the Average WAR (Wins Above Replacement) for the top 12 players selected each year. Admittedly, there is no perfect way of making the data mean a lot. The sample size is just too small. There have been 50 drafts, but the data is incomplete for anyone who continues to play. So, be sure to take this information with a grain of salt. Pick / Avg WAR 1 / 40.8 2 / 35.5 3 / 48.4 4 / 44.6 5 / 38.6 6 / 56.7 7 / 37.1 8 / 49.2 9 / 28.8 10 / 34.5 11 / 26.3 12 / 32.0 The data on this chart shows that the #6 pick has proven to be the best over the history of the MLB Draft. At 56.7 WAR, the #6 spot is 7.5 WAR ahead of the next highest position, the #8 spot. Now, the #6 spot has produced some of the best baseball players in history. The Pittsburgh Pirates took an outfielder from Arizona State with the sixth pick of the 1985 MLB Draft. Barry Bonds turned into one of the best hitters of all time. He posted 162.4 WAR.The Milwaukee Brewers drafted a shortstop out of a high school in Tampa Bay. Gary Sheffield was one of the most feared hitters in baseball during his playing days. He posted a career WAR of 60.2.In 1992, the New York Yankees took a tall, skinny shortstop out of a Michigan high school with the sixth pick. Derek Jeter became the face of Major League Baseball for almost two decades. He posted a career WAR of 71.8.Jeter will most likely be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Bonds is the all time home run leader and should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And for similar reasons, despite over 500 home runs and an OPS over .900, Sheffield was not, but should have been, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. There is a second tier of players that were also taken with the sixth overall pick in an MLB Draft. Zack Greinke was the sixth overall pick out of high school in 2002. He was at 42.0 WAR coming into this season. That is just ahead of Andy Van Slyke (41.2 WAR) who was the Cardinals’ first-round pick in 1979. Kevin McReynolds (29.9) was the top pick of the Padres in 1981. John Mayberry (24.7) was the Astros top pick in 1967. The Cardinals selected Terry Kennedy (21.5) with the sixth overall pick in 1977. Spike Owen (12.5) was the Mariners first round pick in 1982. Former Twins outfielder Ken Landreaux (10.4) was the Angels first round pick in 1976. Former Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli (10.2) was the sixth pick in the 2000 draft. If not for his injuries, his numbers could have been greater. Of 50 sixth overall picks in the MLB draft, only those 11 players have posted a WAR of 10 for their career. To be fair, there are players selected with the sixth overall pick in recent years who are likely to surpass 10 WAR in the next few years. That includes Washington Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon and New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler. The last three #6 picks were Albert Almora (Cubs 2012), Colin Moran (Marlins 2013), and Alex Jackson (Mariners 2014). Obviously they have yet to play in the big leagues and could alter these numbers. Of the 50 players taken with the sixth overall pick, 13 players have a negative WAR or 0 WAR. Another 14 of them never (or have not yet) played in the big leagues. Twins fans will likely remember the 1998 draft. The Minnesota Twins took a left-handed starting pitcher. He was very successful in college baseball while playing at powerhouse Arizona State University. He was said to have great mechanics and had worked with his father all the way up. Ryan Mills never pitched in a big league game. The draft is one way for an organization to accumulate talent. Having a high draft pick certainly should increase the odds of getting a more talented, elite-level prospect. But it doesn’t guarantee anything. We would all love for whoever the Twins pick this year to become the next Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield or Derek Jeter. We should also be thrilled if that player becomes the next Zack Greinke or Andy Van Slyke. The important thing to remember is that it’s possible to get a Brian Dozier in the eighth round or a Kent Hrbek in the 17th round. Click here to view the article
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