He’s a future star! Just look at his first season! (Or, maybe not.)—pt. 3.

In part three of this series on 21st century what-might-have-beens and what-never-weres, let’s take a look at a couple sluggers who are still playing and hoping to regain their former glory, as well as a couple others who flamed out just a few years after reaching the majors.

Miguel Andujar slugged .128 in 2019. (Wikipedia).

Yankees left fielder Miguel Andujar is currently on the 60-day disabled list, riding a .253/.284/.383 line in 45 games this season, and coming off two years in which he batted a combined .193 with a 30 OPS+ in 33 games.

Not quite what the Yankees were expecting after his 2018 rookie season. After a brief cup of coffee in 2017 wherein he had four hits, including two doubles, in seven at-bats, the then-third baseman smashed 27 home runs with 92 RBI in 144 games for New York the next year. He knocked 47 doubles, good for second in the American League, and slugged .527, good for seventh.

Finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Shohei Ohtani, Andujar looked poised to be a dominant one-two punch with fellow young infielder Gleyber Torres—who finished third in the ROY vote—for years to come.

As the days pass, that’s looking more and more unlikely, as Torres has struggled since his first two incredible seasons, as well.

But at least he had more than one good campaign.

Andujar, who began his professional career at 17 and was in the majors at 23, hasn’t even managed that.

And that’s despite his high pedigree. Major League Baseball and Baseball America both named him a top prospect going into 2018, as he hit .316 with 16 home runs and 82 RBI in 125 games—about half played at Triple A—the year before.

Even the experts seem to get it wrong a lot, don’t they?

Andujar might still rebound, of course. He’s only 26. But his current career trajectory is not a positive one.

The same year Andujar was tearing it up in New York, Daniel Palka was doing the same, though more quietly, with the White Sox.

The 26-year-old rookie cranked 27 home runs and had 67 RBI in 124 games in 2018, leading the club in big flies and finishing fifth in Rookie of the Year voting.

Palka was a beast in the minor leagues, hitting 20-plus home runs three times, including 34 between two clubs in 2016. But he was more or less a pure-power hitter, offering little offensive skill outside of clobbering home runs. Sure, he had an aberration of a campaign in 2015, when he stole 24 bases in addition to his 29 dingers, but his minor league batting average and on-base percentage were just decent—nothing extraordinary.

That might explain why the White Sox were Palka’s third professional team. Drafted by Arizona in the 3rd round in 2013, he was traded to Minnesota in 2015 for catcher Chris Herrmann, then was selected off waivers by Chicago in 2017.

And by 2018, he was the White Sox top home run hitter. But his .240 average and .284 on-base percentage were not inspiring.

So after he began 2019 in an 0-for-32 skid—not getting his first hit until April 17—he was demoted to the minors, making only a couple return stops along the way. Chicago called him up in late June; he was 0-for-10, making him 1-for-45 on the year, and sent back down. A September promotion didn’t help much, as he began his third try by going 0-for-11.

That’s correct, Daniel Palka spent most of his 2019 season with 1 hit; by the time he managed his second, he was 1-for-56, a 0.018 batting average. From September 12 onward, he hit .267 in 30 at-bats, but still couldn’t bring his season mark to .100. He finished at .097.

On the bright side, he hit another 27 home runs in the minors.

And that is where he remains today. After a season in Korea in which he batted .209, Palka is toiling away in the Nationals system in 2021. With 16 home runs and a .283 average at Triple-A Rochester, he might earn a call up this year.

He sure wants to redeem himself.

Reimold’s .365 OBP led the 2009 Orioles. (Wikipedia).

There will be no redemption for Nolan Reimold, unfortunately. Another former top prospect, twice so-named by Baseball America, the former Orioles outfielder slugged his way through the low- and mid-minors. With Double-A Bowie in 2008, he had 25 home runs and 84 RBI; in his first taste of Triple-A the next year, he hit 9 home runs in 31 games for a .743 slugging percentage.

He was ready for Baltimore.

On May 14, he made his debut. On May 20, he slugged his first home run, an ultimately inconsequential shot off Yankees Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera. He finished the year with 15 dingers and 45 RBI in 104 games.

Though shades of his 2009 self cropped up later in his career, Reimold never stayed healthy enough or played enough to match his early potential. In 2011, he managed a 111 OPS+—just five points lower than his ’09 mark—but he played only 87 games and hit .247. In 2010, he hit .313 and slugged .627 … in just 67 at-bats.

From 2010 on, Reimond batted just .234 with 41 home runs and 129 RBI in 376 games. He last played for the independent Long Island Ducks in 2017.

Clint Robinson might be stretching the parameters of this piece, but since he did have an initial full season that was substantial better than the rest of his career, I threw him in here.

Robinson, was a minor league slugger who finished his career with 159 dingers on the farm, but his big league career was just 243 games over four seasons.

After a couple largely uneventful cups of coffee in 2012 and 2014, Robinson—already with his fifth major league organization and third big league team—latched on with the Nationals in 2015 … as a 30-year-old rookie.

And he did well for that 83-79, second place club. In 309 at-bats, he slashed .272/.358/.424 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI as the team’s top bench guy. But he was painfully slow-footed, stealing only 14 bases in his professional career and none at the major league level.

Such a player works with a perpetually short leash, and after another full season on Washington’s bench in which his batting mark fell to just .235 in 196 at-bats, he was sent packing.

But not away from the Nationals organization. They brought him back to play at Triple-A in 2017. And after 18 home runs and 74 RBI there, they sent him packing for good.

While major league success sometimes seems easy to achieve, it is exceedingly difficult to hold on to.

And for those who can’t keep it, well, they don’t end in Halls of Fame, they end up footnotes, profiled on some random guy’s blog.

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, August 31, 2021.

DJ Stewart was a first round pick in 2015. (Wikipedia).

Stellar Stewart: Demetrius Jerome “D.J.” Stewart, presently of the Baltimore Orioles, has always had power. It’s just that little else accompanies it. Over the past week, however, he’s put it all together, going 4-for-9 with a dinger, 4 RBI, 5 walks and 3 runs scored. Stewart has smashed 25 home runs in 497 career at-bats, but he needs to get his strikeouts (156) under control and his average (.215) up a bit.

In the fast lane: Nationals outfielder Lane Thomas hit .111 in 36 at-bats for the Cardinals last year and began 2021 with a .107 mark in 48 trips to the plate. But a trade to the Nationals—in exchange for struggling starter Jon Lester—has changed his fortunes. In 42 ABs with his new club, he’s hitting .310. In his rookie season, 2018, he slashed .316/.409/.684.

Chargois chugging along: Rays reliever J.T. Chargois has had a great 2021 campaign, but since July, he’s been lights-out. In 20 1/3 innings, he’s allowed just 4 earned runs for a 1.77 ERA. Since being traded from the Mariners on July 29, his mark is 0.71 in 12 games. His number is 2.32 in 43 games on the year.

Diamond in the rough: Though he was a third round pick in 2014, Chris Ellis has never been much of a prospect. In 2017, while pitching in the Cardinals system, he was 7-12 with a 5.29 ERA in 30 games (22 starts). But the 28-year-old rookie turned heads with his first and only appearance with the Rays this season, striking out 7 and earning the win in a 4 inning relief appearance against Baltimore on August 17. Now an Oriole himself, he surrendered just 1 run in 4 2/3 innings yesterday.

Worth the wait: On August 26, Ervin Santana recorded his 150th career win. He had been sitting at 149 since September 23, 2017.

Even 150 wins is tough these days: The 150-win club isn’t particularly exclusive, with 266 total members. The next-closest active pitcher? Johnny Cueto, with 135 victories.

Another call for Khalil? Outfielder Khalil Lee, a former top prospect acquired by the Mets in February, had just 1 hit in 18 at-bats in his first try with New York. But it might be worth giving him another shot—with Triple A Syracuse this year, his on-base percentage is .442, the 4th-best mark in the International League (it will always be the International League to me!).

Hat tip to a former Met (prospect): And guess who’s leading the Interna …okay, okay … Triple-A East in home runs? Former Mets third base prospect Aderlin Rodriguez, who played in their system from 2009 to 2015. Playing in the Tigers chain, he has 25 dingers this year, as well as a .304 average, with Toledo. Should he reach the majors, which he has yet to do, it will have been a long, winding path that took him through five big league systems and over to Japan.

Rob Deer hit .220 with 230 home runs in his career. (Wikipedia).

It’s a modern trend: Before 2010, only three players had ever had 20 or more home runs in a season in which they batted .200 or worse: Rob Deer (1991, 25 HR, .179 BA), Ruben Rivera (1999, 23, .195) and Mark McGwire (2001, 29, .187). From 2010 on, it’s happened 12 times—by Mark Reynolds twice.

Pettitte was a workhorse: Andy Pettitte has had trouble gaining traction on the Hall of Fame ballot. But say what you will about him, he was a workhorse, tossing 175 or more innings fourteen times. No active pitcher has done that, with Justin Verlander the closest at 13 instances. Only five pitchers who debuted after 1990 managed it that many times—Pettitte, Mark Buehrle, C.C. Sabathia, Mike Mussina and, most surprisingly, Livan Hernandez.

Relief pitchers can’t hit—oh, wait: On July 19, 1955, Tigers relief pitcher Babe Birrer clobbered two home runs against the Baltimore Orioles. Both were three run shots, giving him 6 RBI on the day. They represented 2 of his 7 career hits and all 6 of his ribbies. A few years later, in 1958, he hit .571 (4-for-7).

Ryan Madson owns two World Series rings. (Wikipedia).

Not easy to guess: Mariano Rivera holds the record for most postseason appearances, with 96. It makes sense—he pitched during the Yankees’ glory years, when they were making the playoffs time and again. Who pitched the second-most games in playoff history? It was Ryan Madson, with 57 (mostly for the Phillies) from 2003 to 2018.

No 300 game winners: No pitcher who debuted in the 1990s won 300 games—Mike Mussina, who arrived in 1991, came the closest with 270. Likewise, the 1950s did not produce any future 300 game winners. 1959 debut Jim Kaat was the closest, with 283 victories. The ‘70s were devoid of such hurlers, as well, with 287-game winner Bert Blyleven, who debuted in 1970, narrowly missing the mark.

Who needs strikeouts: The last pitcher to win at least 20 games in a season with less than 100 strikeouts was Bill Gullickson in 1991. Pitching for the Detroit Tigers that year, he went 20-9 with just 91 Ks. It’s actually rarer for a pitcher to lose 20 games without 100 Ks—since 1950, that’s happened just six times, with the most recent instance being Mike Maroth in 2003 (21 L, 87 K). Twenty-plus victories and fewer than 100 Ks has happened 14 times since 1950.

How’d he win so many? In 1929, the Negro league New York Lincoln Giants’ Connie Rector led the league in earned runs, home runs allowed and hit by pitches. He surrendered more hits than innings pitched and walked more batters than he struck out. He also went 18-1, leading the league in victories and winning percentage. He accounted for nearly half his team’s 40 wins.

That’s a lot of games: The single-season professional record for most games played, as far as we know, belongs to William Devereaux. Playing for the Pacific Coast League’s Oakland Oaks in 1904, he appeared in 228. In 777 at-bats, he collected 180 hits for a .232 average.

Not X-actly easy:  Major league baseball has never had a player with a surname beginning with the letter X, and it looks like they won’t for a while. There are no active minor leaguers with such a name.

Studs and duds: August 24 – August 30

Salvador Perez and Robbie Ray—we’ve been seeing these guys a lot lately, haven’t we?

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). He didn’t even play yesterday and still outpaces anyone else. In the last week, Perez has 5 home runs, 13 RBI and 5 runs scored; he’s tied with the Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom for most home runs and holds the lead in RBI over the past seven days. His slash line is .323/.393/.920—that OBP is especially stunning, as his career mark is barely .300. The catcher is currently riding a tidy five-game hitting streak and has 12 home runs, 28 RBI and a 1.022 OPS since the beginning of August.

Tommy Edman leads the NL with 35 doubles and 512 at-bats. (Wikipedia).

There’s not much to say outside of what’s already been said at this point besides, perhaps, let’s go Salvador!

Honorable mention: Tommy Edman (3B, Cardinals; .414 BA, 2 HR, 3 2B, 10 RBI, 8 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela continued his slide last night, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. That unsavory line puts him at 1-for-17 with 4 Ks and a tiny OPS of .059 since his return to New York’s lineup on August 26. Though usually adept defensively, he also committed a couple errors, bringing his season total to 8. Sounds like a case of return-from-the-IL jitters, if you ask me.

Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-17, 8 K).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). While Perez keeps cranking on offense, Ray is dropping stellar start after stellar start on the mound. With 10 strikeouts yesterday, he passed Gerrit Cole for the American League lead with 202 Ks on the season. It is his fourth-career 200 strikeout campaign and first since 2019.

Over his past two games, Ray has 24 Ks in 14 innings, allowing only 9 hits, 3 walks and 3 earned runs, to give him a 1.93 ERA. His season mark has gone down with each start since July 28 and now stands at 2.71—and is 1.72 in that stretch.

In his first 13 starts, the hurler had a 3.50 ERA; in the 13 games since, it’s been 2.02. With numbers like this, fans of the future will be scratching their heads looking at his line and wondering why he didn’t even make the All-Star team.

Honorable mention: Dylan Cease (SP, White Sox; 2-0, 1.38 ERA, 18 K, 13 IP).

From 2011 to 2014, Joe Smith had a 2.25 ERA in 289 games. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Joe Smith (RP, Mariners). Well, it seems the steady, reliable, sidearming relief pitcher Joe Smith is no more. We’ve been left with a shoddy simulacrum who’s pitched to the tune of a 5.79 ERA in 41 appearances this year.

His past few have been especially horrid: In 3 games, he’s tossed 1 2/3 innings and allowed 5 hits and 3 earned runs for an 11.57 ERA. Relative to past duds, that performance is downright excellent, but his 2 losses and 2 blown saves really bring him down.

Smith began the year with a 7.48 ERA in 27 games with Houston, but was traded to Seattle on July 27. And with the Mariners he’s performed well—a 2.45 ERA in 14 games, despite his rough patch—and looks more like the Smith of old. Before this year, he had a 2.98 ERA in 782 career games. This campaign has raised it to 3.10.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 1 IP, 5 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 0-1, 1 BSV).

Random autograph of the day: Kevin Burford

Kevin Burford never played above Double A, but he made the best of his professional career, nevertheless. The eight-year veteran came onto the scene with a bang, slashing .362/.490/.546 with 12 steals and 50 walks (to only 30 strikeouts) in 54 games his rookie season.

The next year, he stole 15 bases before being shipped off to Colorado in a trade. In his first season in the Rockies system, he slashed .306/.447/.523; he followed that with 16 home runs and 80 RBI. By 2003, however, he’d begun to stagnate at Double A — that was his third campaign at that level. After a down year in the Phillies system in 2004, his career was over.

Three milestones indicate greatness for major league catchers.

No catcher has hit more home runs than Mike Piazza. (Wikipedia).

Recently, I covered the 300-300 club and the 50-20 club, each of which has at least one unusual member. The former, for example, featured Steve Finley and Reggie Sanders, who hit over 300 home runs and stole at least 300 bases each.

The 50-20 club, likewise, is laced with legends like Willie Mays—and also includes Brady Anderson among its number.

But here’s one collection of milestones that has only ever been achieved by the best of the best, the most elite catchers of all-time:

2,000 hits, 300 home runs, 1,000 RBI.

Only six backstops have reached all three and there is no questioning their greatness:

Mike Piazza, Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Yogi Berra, Gary Carter and Ivan Rodriguez.

Piazza leads the pack with 427 homers and added 2,127 hits and 1,335 RBI for good measure. Rodriguez managed the most hits at 2,844, and had 311 home runs and 1,332 RBI to boot.

The RBI champ was Yogi Berra, who finished with 1,430—which makes sense. He played on Yankees teams that featured names like Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio and Hank Bauer. With all that star power getting on base around him, he had ample opportunity to drive guys in.  

Carter had 324 home runs, 2,092 hits and 1,225 RBI. Fisk, 376, 2,356 and 1,330, respectively. Bench clobbered 389 homers with 2,048 knocks and 1,376 RBI.

They’re the only catchers who reached the hit and home run milestones and scored 1,000 runs, as well.

What if we eliminate one of those markers, say RBI. Is the club any less illustrious without ribbies?

No. No outliers to complicate things yet.

How about 2,000 hits and 1,000 RBI, minus the home runs? Still no.

Phew, this really is an elite club, no need to ask any further—

What about 300 home runs and 1,000 RBI, who cares about the hits?

Well, hold onto your seats: Outlier alert.

In fact, the 300 HR/1,000 RBI catcher cabal does have one unexpected member. See if you can guess who it is:

From 1977 to 1995, this backstop played 1,988 games, hitting .252 with 324 home runs and 1,070 RBI. He had just 1,782 hits, but made 8 All-Star teams, won 6 Silver Sluggers and 3 Gold Gloves, and owns a World Series ring. He spent most of his career with the Tigers.

Got it yet?

It’s Lance Parrish.

And while all those other guys were elected to the Hall of Fame in their first few tries (Carter took the longest, appearing on the ballot six times before he made it), Parrish received a resounding 1.7 percent of the vote in 2001 and dropped off the ballot.

I’ve said in the past that being a member of elite clubs does not necessarily make a player elite, or a Hall of Famer.

But with Parrish right up there with the absolute greatest catchers of all-time, well …

Maybe we need to make an exception.

***

The 2000/300/1000 club contains only two second baseman, Robinson Cano and Jeff Kent, and, incredibly, there’s a strong possibility neither will be elected to the Hall of Fame.

Two shortstops reached those marks as well: Cal Ripken, Jr. and Miguel Tejada. Tejada is not a Hall of Famer and likely will never be one, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him get in.

Among third basemen, the club has a few more members. The Hall of Famers and future Hall of Famers: Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Adrian Beltre, Chipper Jones, Ron Santo and Scott Rolen. The unexpected: Graig Nettles, Aramis Ramirez and Gary Gaetti.

Jorge Posada: Is former New York Yankees catcher Hall of Fame worthy?

Jorge Posada is most similar to Brian McCann, per Baseball-Reference.com’s similarity scores. (Wikipedia).

Always overshadowed by bigger names like Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez during his career, one still has to wonder—did Jorge Posada do enough to earn eventual Hall of Fame induction? His performance on the ballot (3.8% in 2018) suggests he didn’t, but there’s always two sides to every story …

I debate myself to find out.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Over the course of his career, Posada hit 275 home runs, drove in 1,065 runs and made five All-Star teams. He won five Silver Sluggers and even finished in the top-ten in MVP voting twice, placing as high as third in the balloting.

His 275 home runs are eighth-most among catchers all-time, while his 1,065 RBI are 11th.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

While his home run and RBI totals are impressive, there are other catchers who had greater totals who are not yet in the Hall of Fame. Lance Parrish, for example, hit 324 home runs and had 1,070 RBI and he received only 1.7% of the vote in his only year of eligibility.

And Brian McCann, he finished with 289 home runs and only slightly fewer RBI, at 1,018. Even with his seven All-Star selections and six Silver Sluggers, is anyone clamoring for his induction?

Ted Simmons had slightly fewer home runs with 248, but he had over 300 more RBI—and he eclipsed the 2,000 hit milestone, which is something Posada never did. Yet Simmons received less than 4% of the vote in his lone year on the ballot. Though he was was eventually elected by the Veterans Committee in 2020, his long wait indicates Posada and Posada-esque backstops are pushed to the back of the line in Hall of Fame circles.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

That may be true, but every other catcher with at least 275 career home runs is in the Hall of Fame. The club includes Ivan Rodriguez (311 home runs), Gary Carter (324), Yogi Berra (358), Carlton Fisk (376), Johnny Bench (389) and Mike Piazza (427).

And outside of Parrish and Simmons, every other catcher with at least 1,065 RBI is in the Hall, or will be heading there, too. That club includes all the aforementioned catchers, plus Gabby Hartnett (1,179 RBI) and Bill Dickey (1,209 RBI).

In addition, Posada has the accolades to his name. Five All-Star selections and five Silver Sluggers is nothing to sneeze at.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

Good point, however you might notice one thing about all those home run hitting catchers you just mentioned—they each eclipsed 300 home runs, which Posada did not do.

I know in this advanced world of sabermetrics, milestones don’t mean as much, but there are still milestone-minded voters out there and not reaching a mark like 300 home runs (or 2,000 hits) will hurt Posada’s chances of election.

To counter another point, I’m going to invoke the “if X is not in the Hall, then Posada should not be in the Hall, either” argument again.

You mentioned that Posada was an All-Star five times. That’s very good. But what if I said that Elston Howard was an All-Star 12 times and is not in the Hall? Or that Bill Freehan and Del Crandall were All-Stars 11 times each, and have yet to be enshrined?

Fellow Yankee catcher Elston Howard made 12 All-Star Games and isn’t in the Hall of Fame. (Wikipedia).

And, I might add, Lance Parrish won six Silver Sluggers, one-upping Posada.

Yes! Posada Is a Hall of Famer!

Pardon my multi-faceted response here, see if you can keep up. I recognize that Posada never reached any major milestones, however like you said—we are in a more sabermetric era, rightly or wrongly, which means milestones seem to have less and less bearing. By the time Posada is eligible for the Veterans Committee, they may be lent even less credence than they are now.

And in regards to Howard, Freehan and Crandall—while they were All-Stars frequently, they were never the offensive force Posada was. Each of them had offensive Wins Above Replacement less than Posada, per Baseball-Reference.com.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

What about the point about Lance Parrish? I’ll rebut the rest in a moment.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

You bring up Lance Parrish again—I recognize that Parrish was a great player, but even though he had total statistics higher than Posada, does that necessarily make him better than Posada? Or did Parrish just acquire those extra counting numbers because he played longer than the Yankees catcher?

Look at their 162-game averages. Posada averaged 24 home runs and 94 RBI per 162 games, while Parrish averaged 26 home runs and 87 RBI. Plus Posada had a better batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. And OPS. And OPS+.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

All right, all right. This isn’t an argument about whether Posada is better or worse than Lance Parrish, it’s an argument about whether Posada is a Hall of Fame-caliber player.

Let’s look at Posada through a sabermetric lens, real quick, since you brought that point up earlier. You said that Posada had higher offensive WARs than Howard, Freehan and Crandall, which is true.

Posada’s total WAR, per Baseball-Reference, is 42.7—a number that is relatively low … and that is bested by fellow catcher Gene Tenace, someone I have rarely seen on anyone’s Hall of Fame radar.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

First, Gene Tenace spent almost half his career at first base.

More to the point: Yes, his WAR would be relatively low if he hadn’t spent his career as a catcher. But among catchers, his WAR is the 14th best all-time. And once again, while he is bested by a few non-Hall of Famers, all the rest of the players than are better than him are in the Hall of Fame.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

You keep using Posada’s career statistics as the baseline, the bottom limit, that catchers have to meet to be “Hall of Fame worthy.” But unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean Posada is a Hall of Famer—it just makes him the worst of the best.

Which basically means that if Posada were to be elected, he would be among the bottom-rung of Hall of Fame catchers, with guys like Rick Ferrell (who, by the way, was an All-Star two more times than Posada).

Would Posada be any better a choice than, say, Rick Ferrell—often considered the worst catcher in the Hall? (Wikipedia).

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Going by raw counting stats that may appear to be the case, but looking at more sabermetric values like WAR and OPS+, that is clearly not so. (Plus, Posada was a better power hitter than Ferrell and also bested Ferrell in slugging percentage and OPS).

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

You also mentioned earlier that Posada was a better offensive force than Freehan, Crandall and Howard, but that point can easily be countered by the fact that those three were better defensively than Posada. Combined, they won 11 Gold Gloves. Posada won zero. And catcher has historically been a defense-first position.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Accolades, while helpful, don’t mean everything. You must also take into consideration Posada’s postseason performance. He appeared in 125 playoff games and won four World Series rings. He hit .333 or better in five series and hit 11 home runs in his postseason career.

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

World Series victories are very team-dependent—while the number of rings looks nice, it really isn’t a great way of determining someone’s Hall of Fame worthiness.

And, as a whole, Posada hit only .248 and slugged .387 in his postseason career.

Yes! Posada is a Hall of Famer!

Okay, well, Posada also has the benefit of playing for one team his entire career—and what a team it was! The New York Yankees! It’s not often a player sticks around with a single team anymore, and to play so long for the Yankees helps his case too—there is something of an allure to the “Yankees mystique.”

No! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

Is that all? He played for a popular team? While a pro-Yankee bias might have helped players earn election into Cooperstown, it doesn’t mean they were good enough for the Hall, it’s just that the writers had an affinity for them that extended beyond those guys’ playing abilities. The voters’ inability to judge past players unobjectively shouldn’t effect whether a player should get into the Hall of Fame.

Therefore, I can say with certainty now:

NO! Posada is not a Hall of Famer!

Random notes and musings from the world of baseball, August 30, 2021.

Miguel Cabrera’s run for 3,000 has been as protracted as his run for 500 homers. (Wikipedia).

Miguel Cabrera 3,000 hit watch: With a single yesterday, the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera is just 39 hits away from 3,000 for his career. It’s not out of the question he could get there this season. Assuming he manages no more hits in August, he would need to have his best month since late 2014 to reach the milestone.

Swing and a miss: Rockies outfielder Sam Hilliard has struck out 57 times in 135 at-bats this season—that would translate to 253 in a 600 at-bat campaign. And that’s not even the worst rate among players with 100 or more ABs. Mariners outfielder Taylor Trammell has 75 Ks in 156 of them—meaning he strikes out nearly half the time.

You go, Tsutsugo: Yoshi Tsutsugo has played for three teams this season. With the Rays, he hit .167 in 78 at-bats and with the Dodgers, .120 in 25 at-bats. But things are looking up with team number three. Since joining the Pirates on August 16, he’s batted .333 with 9 hits, 6 runs and 11 RBI. Five of his nine knocks were dingers. Three of his 4 hits this past week left the yard.

The strikeout meme is getting old: Strikeout pitchers were cool once, but not anymore, now that they’re everywhere. The Indians’ Trevor Stephan, as mediocre as they come, had 9 Ks in his past 4 2/3 innings. He has a 4.50 ERA and 101 ERA+ on the year.

Hard to keep ‘em straight: There are three Luis Garcias active in the majors as we speak. The Cardinals Luis Garcia, a veteran relief pitcher, hasn’t allowed an earned run in 19 innings. The Astros Luis Garcia, a young hurler, is 10-6 with a 3.21 ERA this year.  The Nationals Luis Garcia, a top prospect infielder, is hitting .208 in 40 games. A Luis Garcia also played in 1999, and another appeared in 2002.

It seems like just yesterday we celebrated Cal McVey turning a century old. But it was actually almost a century ago. (Wikipedia).

Happy birthday, (really) old guy: Cal McVey, one of the top stars in the old National Association, turns 172 today. Happy birthday, Cal! (He was born in 1849).

A splendid day: It’s also Ted Williams’ birthday. A veritable legend, Williams made 19 All-Star Games; the last man to make that many was Cal Ripken Jr., who retired in 2001. The active player with the most is Miguel Cabrera, with 11.

THAT’S how you pronounce it? Have you ever pronounced a ballplayers surname one way your entire life, just to realize you’ve been saying it wrong the whole time? I recently found out former closer Troy Percival’s surname is pronounced PURR-siv-ull, emphasis on the Purr. I always pronounced it Purr-siv-ALL. Huh.

I’m going to be petty: The Mets have a pitcher named Tylor Megill. No, you don’t pronounce it like “Tyler,” you dummy, it’s “Ty-LOR.” Some clever parents there, weren’t they? This modern trend of slightly altering common names with ridiculous spellings or pronunciations is worse than the one of boys names all ending with “-den” (Aiden, Brayden, etc.). If you’re going to get creative, get creative. Think of something new, or at least combine some words cleverly. I’m going to name my child Albalog, after this blog.

Ramon’s rough year: In 1998, the Devil Rays let pitcher Ramon Tatis take the mound 22 times—despite his atrocious 13.89 ERA. With the fourth-best mark in the league, the club had solid pitching, and the bullpen was especially good—so they had other options. Tatis later posted a 10.72 ERA for the Triple A Columbus Clippers and a 54.00 mark for Japan’s Nippon Ham Fighters in 2000, then a 15.43 ERA for the Mexican League’s Tecolotes in 2003.

Some teams never learn: In 2002, the Devil Rays trotted Jesus Colome out there 32 times … despite his 8.27 ERA. In 2007, Jon Switzer’s 8.05 mark didn’t stop them from using him 21 times, nor did Dana Eveland’s ERA of 9.00 dissuade the Rays from giving him 33 appearances in 2016.

It still happens to this day: The 2021 Cardinals feature star pitcher Tyler Webb (22 G, 13.22 ERA) and the Rockies have Yency Almonte (39 G, 8.36 ERA).

The $64,000 question: Who holds the record for most appearances in a season with an ERA over 8? Believe it or not, it’s happened three times and twice in one year. In 1999, the Marlins Vic Darensbourg and Colorado’s Mike DeJean each pitched 56 games and had marks of 8.83 and 8.41, respectively. In 1995, Bryan Hickerson—who spent part of the year with the Rockies (there seems to be a trend here)—had an 8.57 ERA in as many games.

Tyler Olson is one of only three pitchers with 20 or more innings and a 0.00 ERA in the same year, as well. (Wikipedia).

Enough high-ERA talk: Let’s talk low ERAs. The best mark in a season among pitchers with 20-plus appearances is … 0. In 2017, the Indians’ Tyler Olson didn’t allow a single run in 30 games … then he had a 4.66 ERA in 82 appearances between 2018 and 2019 and hasn’t pitched in the majors since. Earl Moore, a solid Dead Ball Era pitcher, holds the season mark for most innings with an ERA of 0.00, tossing 26 scoreless frames for the Phillies in 1908. He was 163-154 with a 2.78 ERA overall.

The Hall hasn’t called yet, either: From 1904 to 1919 – the span of his career – outfielder Sherry Magee appeared in more games, had more plate appearances, more at-bats, more runs, more doubles, more triples, more RBI, more total bases, more extra base hits and was on base more than anyone in the National League. Second behind him in all those categories? Honus Wagner. Now THAT is impressive.

Greatest fielding pitcher ever? Per Baseball-Reference.com, reliever Luis Vizcaino, who appeared in 543 games from 1999 to 2009, is the only qualifying pitcher with a career of 10 seasons or more to never commit an error. (To qualify, a hurler needs 500+ innings pitched).

Lamenting that deal: You know, I didn’t think the Athletics’ Matt Olson would’ve kept up his hot hitting all year long. In my fantasy league, I traded him with catcher Jacob Stallings and infielder Joshua Fuentes for first baseman Pavin Smith and starting pitchers Zach Eflin and Mike Minor. I’m also 11th out of 20 teams.

He died: I’ve said I don’t want to make this a death blog, so I’m adamant about only announcing the deaths of the most famous players in the game. Also Wang Kuang-hui, who played a few years in Taiwan’s major league, died today.

Studs and duds: August 23 – August 29

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). There’s no stopping Salvy. After clobbering another home run last night—that’s five games in a row now, if anyone’s counting—Perez is up to 6 in the past week and 38 on the year. But dingers aren’t all he’s hitting. He’s hitting, period, with a .357/.455/1.000 line, 14 RBI and 6 runs scored over his last seven games. He even has 5 walks, accounting for one-quarter of his season’s total. At this point, all we can do is sit back and watch. If this train ever stops remains to be seen—and it doesn’t look like it will.

Honorable mention: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals; .323/.382/.710, 4 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI).

Urshela in the minor leagues—where his performance might one day land him again. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Looks like he’s still getting back into the groove of things. Urshela, who missed most of the past month with a hamstring strain, went 1-for-13 with 3 strikeouts and 2 errors in four games since his return.

In terms of production, the slump brings the infielder closer to the Urshela of old—this season, he has 11 home runs, 41 RBI, a .266 average and a 99 OPS+; from 2015 to 2018, he hit 8 dingers with 39 RBI, a .225 mark and a 57 OPS+.

If his downward trend continues, Urshela’s 2019-2020 run will prove to be an aberration, as his offense spiked to a combined .310/.358/.523 line with 27 home runs and 104 RBI over that stretch. Even in the minor leagues, he was never much of a hitter, holding a .275/.306/.400 line in 12 seasons there.

Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-14, 8 K).

Pitching stud: Dylan Cease (SP, White Sox). Dylan is back.

After cranking to the tune of a 2.41 ERA through his first 8 starts, then falling to a 4.82 mark over his next 17, the hurler has killed it of late. Over his past 13 innings, he allowed just 8 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 18 batters. His performance resulted in a 1.38 ERA, his best two-game mark of the year, and brings his 2021 line to 11-7 with a 3.82 ERA in a league-leading 27 starts. In 143 2/3 innings, he has 188 strikeouts, which is third in the American League.

Cease was acquired—with Eloy Jimenez, no less—in a 2017 deal with the Cubs for pitcher Jose Quintana. Quintana spent a few years with the Cubs, posting a 4.24 ERA in 439 2/3 frames. If Cease keeps pitching like this, he’ll give the Sox something they can rub in their crosstown rivals’ faces for a long time.

Daniel Bard‘s best years were with the Red Sox … a decade ago. (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Jose Berrios (SP, Blue Jays; 10 IP, 17 K, 1 W).

Pitching dud: Daniel Bard (RP, Rockies). Bard retains his crown from yesterday, as no pitcher has done worse than his 0-2, 43.20 line over the past week. Jake Petricka (1 IP, 5 ER), Lou Trivino (1 1/3 IP, 4 ER, 0-2 W-L) and Edgar Garcia (1 2/3 IP, 7 ER) were close, but none matched Daniel’s futility. The Bard had a mastery over the written word; this Bard, well, batters have a mastery over him.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 0-1, 1 BSV, 1 IP, 5 ER, 2 BB).

Aroldis Chapman saves 300th game.

Aroldis Chapman‘s 300th save ties him with Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter and Jason Isringhausen for 29th all-time. (Wikipedia).

In this whirlwind season of milestones, with Miguel Cabrera walloping his 500th home run and nearing 3,000 hits, with Max Scherzer nearing 3,000 Ks and Jon Lester drawing closer and closer to 200 wins, a pretty incredible feat slipped by and I didn’t even note it.

On August 26, fireballing Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman earned his 300th career save.

Against the Athletics that night, with less than 9,000 fans in attendance, Chapman faced four batters and, after a few hiccups, managed to sit the necessary three of them down to preserve a 7-6 victory.

Number nine hitter Elvis Andrus flew out to start the bottom of the ninth inning, then Mark Canha whiffed. How apropos, Chapman K-ing someone in this historic game. Starling Marte singled, then stole second. It became a little dicey, as Matt Olson, a Most Valuable Player candidate, was the next man up. No worries, he grounded out to second base.

The crowd thundered uproariously at Chapman’s majestic feat—in his dreams that night, I imagine—as he joined a club of now 31 men, headed by the likes of Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman.

It was a milestone that Chapman seemed almost destined to reach from the day he defected from Cuba in 2009. As far as defections go, it was pretty bland. Playing in the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands, he walked out the front door of his team’s hotel into a waiting car—and away he went.

Hardly an unknown, he had wowed the baseball world during his years under communist rule and fetched a pretty penny once major league teams came knocking. The Reds inked him to a contract worth more than $30 million; his bonuses alone totaled more than $10 million.

And from there, it was gravy. Before even playing a professional game, Baseball America ranked him the sport’s 22nd-best prospect going into the 2010 season. The Reds sent him straight to Triple A—as a starter—and he responded by striking out 125 batters in 95 2/3 innings. By year’s end, he was in the majors as a reliever, striking out 19 batters in 13 1/3 frames.

Going into 2011, Baseball America elevated him to #7 on their top prospects list—ahead of Manny Machado, Chris Sale, Freddie Freeman, Nolan Arenado and fellow future star finisher Craig Kimbrel.  

With Francisco Cordero holding down the closer’s job, Chapman made 54 relief appearances in 2011, surrendering just 24 hits and striking out nearly 13 batters per nine innings. That K rate would be his lowest total until 2017.

On April 11, he threw a pitch of 106 miles per hour. Aroldis Chapman had arrived.

Seizing the closing role in 2012, Chapman embarked on a—dare I say—legendary run that lasted until 2016. Saving 181 games, he had a 1.84 ERA and 217 ERA+ in those five years. In 313 2/3 innings, he allowed just 168 hits—and had 546 strikeouts. That’s 15.7 per nine innings. In 2014 alone, he averaged nearly two per frame. He was an All-Star each year from 2012 to 2015; in 2012, he finished 8th in Cy Young voting and earned MVP support.

2015 was his final season with Cincinnati. On December 28, they traded him to the Yankees for infielder Eric Jagielo (never reached the majors), pitcher Caleb Cotham (7.40 ERA with the Reds), pitcher Rookie Davis (8.63 ERA with the Reds) and utilityman Tony Renda (.183 average with the Reds).

Cincinnati has been around since the dawn of major league baseball; that still has to be one of the worst trades they ever made.

He wasn’t long for New York, spending about half a season there before being shipped to the Cubs on July 25 to help in Chicago’s playoff push and eventual World Series run. And boy did he help—in 28 regular season games, he had a 1.01 ERA and 418 ERA+, then he had 22 Ks in 15 2/3 postseason innings.

The Yankees re-signed Chapman on December 15, 2016, thereby recouping their losses from the trade to Chicago (with infielder Gleyber Torres to show for it, as well, as he was part of the initial deal).

Since rejoining New York, Chapman has stepped down from superhuman to merely superb. Admittedly, his numbers have taken a dip.

But it’s kind of like a fire dropping from 10,000 degrees to 8,000 degrees—it’s still really freakin’ hot.

From 2017 to 2020, he posted a 2.64 ERA and a 168 ERA+, making two more All-Star teams and averaging over 14 strikeouts per nine innings.

Even this year, with his walk rate double what it was in 2020 and his ERA sitting at 3.77, his numbers are still downright killer. 15.1 K/9 IP. 6.3 H/9 IP. Through May 21—that’s 18 games—he hadn’t allowed a single run. He was stung by three particularly abhorrent appearances, two of which he surrendered 4 and 3 runs, respectively, without recording a single out. Since his last bad showing on July 6, his ERA is 1.88. Remove those three appearances, in which he allowed a combined 11 earned runs in 1/3 of an inning, and his season mark is 1.48.

And it is his hot pitching, not just for most of this year but for his whole career, that has gotten Chapman to the 300 save mark.

He joins a club that now has 31 members—one less than the 3,000 hit club, just three more than the 500 home run club, and seven more than the 300 win club.

But it’s not as illustrious as it sounds. The evolution of the game was such that the conditions for 300-save closers to even exist didn’t begin coalescing until the late 1970s and early 1980s.

So, once every season or two, a new member is added. Kenley Jansen joined in 2019, Craig Kimbrel in 2018, Fernando Rodney in 2017.

While the other clubs are represented by only the very best, Chapman’s less distinguished group contains among the legends and the greats some goods, some decents, a couple mediocres.

Yes, Chapman now stands among Rivera and Hoffman, Fingers and Gossage and Sutter, Wilhelm and Eckersley and Smith. But right there with him, as well, are Jason Isringhausen and Jose Mesa, Todd Jones and his former teammate, Francisco Cordero.

But Chapman is no Isringhausen.

When all is said and done, his face might be carved into a plaque hanging in Cooperstown. He has a way to go—it’s hard to get behind someone with less than 600 career innings pitched—but if he keeps throwing gas and closing games and K-ing batters at rates we might never see again, who knows.

Chapman, that flamethrowing kid who walked out of a hotel into superstardom, might one day, after he retires, get to hear his name called once more.

Not to the mound, but to the Hall of Fame.

***

Chapman might be the last man to reach 300 saves for a few years. Mark Melancon is the next closest at 239, but he is 36 and coming off a decent but underwhelming 2017-2020 run. Joakim Soria (229) and Greg Holland (219) haven’t managed a 20 save season since 2015 and 2017, respectively, so their chances are slim. Edwin Diaz is fourth-closest at 167, and though he’s just 27, he’s been wildly inconsistent since his breakout 2018 campaign. Who knows what the future holds for him.

The next closest are Zach Britton (154 saves), Alex Colome (147), John Axford (144), Wade Davis (141), David Robertson (137) and Sergio Romo (135).

Random autograph of the day: Amer Abhugerir

Abugherir is not an oft-found name in baseball — heck, the pitcher is one of only three known professional players with a surname beginning with “Abu.” Equally unique as his surname was the trajectory of his playing career: It spanned 1988 to 1999, though he played stateside in only three of those campaigns. He had a 7.30 ERA for the Gulf Coast League Reds of the Cincinnati Reds system in 1988, then resurfaced with the independent Duluth-Superior Dukes in 1993, going 0-2 with a 8.31 ERA. He then disappeared for a spell, only to return in 1999 with the independent Atlantic City Surf in 1999, going 5-0 with a 6.88 ERA. The Colombia native also coached in the minors.