Archive for October, 2006


Single Season 50 Home Run Hitters (How Many in Steroid Era?)

By Thaq Diesel

I saw a recent listing of the single-season 50 home-run hitters of all time (full list below, ‘roid suspects in bold).  I always hear about the perception that ‘roids are tainting the statistical tradition of baseball.  I thought that the home run, the most hallowed and sexy of baseball statistics, would be a good way to test that theory.  Of the people that have hit 50 home runs since 1977 (13 distinct players in all) I suspect seven of them took something to get there.  I’m sure I’m probably low in my estimate. 

It’s strange how I’d come across a name, like say Jim Thome, and mentally acquit them.  Most of the people I’ve said I think are clean have bigger midsections (the Babe Ruth Body, as it were).  Big Papi is in that category but is a question mark.  I also have contradictory thinking.  For example, the reason I thought Luis Gonzalez likely guilty is that his 2001 season was such an aberration from other years.  Yet, I don’t include Ryan Howard, Thome or Andruw Jones for the same reasons because I think they ‘could’ hit that many.  Jones has a huge booty from which I maintain he draws all his magic powers.  I don’t include Griffey at all, but I believe that his God-given swing is the reason for his dingers and that he’d have hit 50 every other year if he hadn’t been injured so much.  A-Rod appears to be a once-in-every-20 years kind of player, albeit one people like to pick on for some reason.  It’s strange how my mind wrapped around this list as I looked at it and how my personal biases about players came into play. 

It is no coincidence, however, that in a game with such statistical roots, there was an 18 year gap between 50-dong hitters.  And it’s no coinkey-dink that 22 of the 39 times it has ever happened came in the past eleven years.  There’s something in the coffee. 

I put in bold below the players whose numbers I, the Diesel, find suspect. I obviously have no proof and it’s just educated guesses.  It also wasn’t against the rules at the time, but it still doesn’t seem fair to the record books for people to have had help.  It’s all a big debate.  I also don’t include Hank Greenberg of the ’38 Tigers, whose steroid-induced rages on the squat rack beneath Tiger Stadium would have made Albert Belle blush.  Okay, I made that last part up.

   73 — Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants, 2001
   70 — Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals, 1998
   66 — Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs, 1998
   65 — Mark McGwire, St. Louis Cardinals, 1999
   64 — Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs, 2001
   63 — Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs, 1999
   61 — Roger Maris, N.Y. Yankees, 1961
   60 — Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1927
   59 — Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1921
   58 — Jimmie Foxx, Philadelphia Athletics, 1932
   58 — Hank Greenberg, Detroit Tigers, 1938
   58 — Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, 1997
   58 — Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies, 2006
   57 — Luis Gonzalez, Arizona Diamondbacks, 2001
   57 — Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers, 2002
   56 — Hack Wilson, Chicago Cubs, 1930
   56 — Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners, 1997
   56 — Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners, 1998
   54 — Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1920
   54 — Babe Ruth, N.Y. Yankees, 1928
   54 — Ralph Kiner, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1949
   54 — Mickey Mantle, N.Y. Yankees, 1961
   54 — David Ortiz, Boston Reds Sox, 2006
   52 — Mickey Mantle, N.Y. Yankees, 1956
   52 — Willie Mays, San Francisco Giants, 1965
   52 — George Foster, Cincinnati Reds, 1977
   52 — Mark McGwire, Oakland Athletics, 1996
   52 — Alex Rodriguez, Texas Rangers, 2001
   52 — Jim Thome, Cleveland Indians, 2002
   51 — Ralph Kiner, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1947
   51 — Johnny Mize, N.Y. Giants, 1947
   51 — Willie Mays, N.Y. Giants, 1955
   51 — Cecil Fielder, Detroit Tigers, 1990 (Bulking up meant something different to Cecil)
   51 — Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves, 2005
   50 — Jimmie Foxx, Boston Red Sox, 1938
   50 — Albert Belle, Cleveland Indians, 1995
   50 — Brady Anderson, Baltimore Orioles, 1996
   50 — Greg Vaughn, San Diego Padres, 1998
   50 — Sammy Sosa, Chicago Cubs, 2000



Reds’ Blogger Chat

Alright, the Reds’ bloggers got together for another chat and I actually showed up this time.  Most of my comments revolved around how I disgusted I was with Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez getting traded.  Here are links to the other parts.

Part 1 at Church of Baseball

Part 2 at Red Hot Mama

Part 3 – STAY RIGHT HERE!!!!

Part 4 – The Olde 320 Pub

Part 5 – The Cincinnati Reds Blog

Shawn: Q4:

Shawn: What offseason trades would you like to see?

Blade: Adam Dunn for Roy Oswalt?

Shawn: That’d be good

Red Hot Mama: Ross for something worth more than he’s really likely to be next year

Shawn: Such as……

Red Hot Mama: I dunno man, I’m a girl

Blade: Oswalt owns us, it’d be nice to have him on our side

Shawn: Ooooooooooooo, cooties!

Red Hot Mama: Anything? Ross is likely to suck next year

Shawn: Ross could come in about .220 with 15 HR

Clint: I would like to see us get another starter and we definitely need some help in the bullpen

daedalus: i’m trying to figure out this damn sudoku puzzle…ross should be traded because we can get something for him now. (i like him, but we don’t have many chips…)

Blade: Are there any good free agent starters out there this year?

Red Hot Mama: Anyone says “closer” and I kick your ass

Clint: if anyone would be crazy enough to take Eric Milton that would be nice

Shawn: Free agent starters go Zito, Mulder, Schmidt

Blade: Not that we’d sign any one of them

Shawn: I wouldn’t put it past Castellini

Blade: Mulder is damaged goods

Clint: yeah Zito would be nice, not so sure about Mulder or Schmidt

Red Hot Mama: Zito

Shawn: Closer

Clint: do we keep Aurillia or let him go?

Shawn: Heeheehee

daedalus: we shouldn’t waste the money on a big starter. we have harang, arroyo, milton, and probably bailey. we should go after a big bat and a closer

daedalus: keep aurilia

Shawn: For the price of Aurilia this offseason, I’d say let him go

Clint: yeah I wouldn’t mind keeping Aurilia but at the same time I worry about overpaying for him

Red Hot Mama: You goin down, boyeeee

Shawn: If it was under $3 mil for one year, then yes. But he’s gonna be 2-3 years at $5 mil per.

Blade: What about Mark Buehrle. Looks like the White Sox might not pick up his option

Red Hot Mama: What is overpaying? Whatever he can get is the right price, right?

Shawn: Overpaying is overreacting to his 2006 season, the second-best of his career.

Red Hot Mama: I foresee many good “Buehrle”/”burly” puns in his future

Shawn: Buehrle I could go for.

Blade: I say we keep Aurilia just so Amanda is happy

Clint: Well Rich is getting older and I really don’t think he will repeat the year he had last year. Therfore the Reds would be paying too much for him

Red Hot Mama: <3

Blade: How much do you want to bet we end up with Jose Lima

Shawn: Then you’d see me on the roof of GABP with a rifle.

Clint: lol oh please no! If Dan O Brien were still here I would guarantee it

Blade: It sounds like a joke now……

Blade: What do we do with Griffey?

Clint: and you know Narron would pencil him as the 3rd starter since you know how he loves crafty vets

Shawn: Trade him, if there was a market.

Shawn: Griffey is untradeable, I am afraid

Red Hot Mama: Second. I think you underestimate Narron’s ability to underestimate Harang.

Clint: HAHA good point

Blade: We could also see Sean Casey back in town

Shawn: Narron let Harang lead the league in CG. I think he likes him.

Shawn: Casey and Hatteberg blocking Votto? Perish the thought.

Clint: really? I dont see that happening since we extended Hatteburg 

 

 



Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?

By Thaq Diesel

More disturbing than seeing an Albert Pujols close up in HD (replete with larger-than-life cold sores), watching the Cardinals win the World Series was painful.  Had they made the playoffs, I doubt the Reds pitching staff would have hurt them much after seeing the games this post-season. 

At least Sean Casey played well for the Tigers.  I’m sure that’s little consolation for him at this moment.  It was great seeing his familiar sluggy swing get some hits and at least make the Tigers look like they weren’t napping the whole time. 

The best quote of the postseason came from my wife who was doing some work at her laptop with baseball on in the background.  Fox was doing its intro for World Series game 4 and I said to my wife that I wondered if two of our friends, diehard Red Birds fans (and coincidentally lesbians at that) who lived an hour away from St. Louis were at the game.  Half-paying attention, she asked where the game was being played.  Joe Buck answered as part of the intro, “…tonight at Busch Stadium.”  My wife said, “Busch Stadium?  Yeah, I’m sure that’s where (our friends) are.”  I guess you had to be there.

I kept waiting for this World Series to turn into the book the “Tigers’ Revenge,” by Claude Balls.  Instead, it was “Twick or Tweet” as the Cardinals won with surprising ease.  Okay, I couldn’t come up with a good pun for the Cardinals.  I’m kinda glad this baseball season is over.  The Tigers embodied what the Reds were to me this year.  They came out of nowhere, started with great promise and folded late.  Defense let them down and most of their hitters were lost during the series, letting what otherwise would have been good or great pitching go to waste.  Let’s wipe the slate clean and start over.



World Series Thoughts

By Thaq Diesel

Now that I’m seeing the world series, I’m almost rooting for the hated Cardinals.  I want to demonstrate that the National League can stand on its own.  I find it telling that I want that more than I want the Cardinals or the smarmy LaRussa to lose.  It would be nice to see Sean Casey win a ring though.

I remember that for the first game of the World Series, Fox showed an intro describing Detroit as run down, without job hopes – basically in the crapper.  Fox said that Detroit had its Tigers, though, and that was going to get them through.  Like the World Series wasn’t stressful enough…  Now they have the weight of a city with high unemployment, high poverty and high drug use on their backs. 

Former Reds player Juan Encarnacion looks lost in right field.  He can’t seem to field a ball clearly out there in the Series.  He’s played in the outfield a long time.  Not sure what’s up with him of late. 



Reds Sweep Yankees to Win Second Straight World Series

1976 World Series – Game Four
October 21, 1976 at Yankee Stadium
Reds 7, Yankees 2  Reds Win Best of Seven Series 4-0

For the second straight season, the Reds won the World Series and this year, they did it dominating fashion.  They went a perfect 7-0 in their seven playoff games and other then maybe a couple of games, all of them were won pretty handily.  No team yet has ever swept a World Series, although it’s been made more difficult with the three series format now in place but you have to appreciate how dominating this team was. This was also the last time announcers from participating teams (Rizzuto and Brennaman) would be used to broadcast the series as the networks (ABC, NBC and
eventually DirecTV satellite tv) would soon exercise their influence.

Gary Nolan got the start for the Reds and he went up against Ed Figueroa.  The Yankees actually took an early lead in this game.  Chris Chambliss singled home Thurman Munson in the bottom of the first to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

Neither team would score in the second or third inning, but then in the top of the fourth, the Reds struck.  Joe Morgan drew a walk before Tony Perez lined out to center.  Morgan stole second and then Dan Driessen fouled out to catcher.  George Foster kept the inning alive with a single that scored Morgan and then Johnny Bench came through with a huge two run shot to give the Reds a 3-1 lead.

The Yankees answered in the bottom of the fifth inning.  Munson singled home Rivers and now just a single run seperated the two teams.  Neither team scored in the sixth, seventh or eighth innings and the score was still 3-2 heading into the top of the ninth.

Tony Perez led off the ninth with a walk and he moved to second on a wild pitch.  Dan Driessen walked and then Figueroa was replaced by Dick Tidrow.  George Foster flew out to center and then Johnny Bench put the game away with a huge three run shot to make it 6-2.  Dave Concepcion later drove in Cesar Geronimo with when the two had back to back doubles, but the Reds had more then enough to win the game.

Will McEnaney put the Yankees down in order in the ninth inning and for the Reds won their first back to back World Series in franchise history.



Cardinals Going to World Series

By Thaq Diesel

I feel like I just saw my ex-girlfriend at the mall with her new beau.  I didn’t think I would feel either way about who won the National League Pennant, but I’m officially mad that it was the Cardinals.  Sigh.  I wonder if they even have a shot against the Tigers.  Part of me thinks they do if only because everyone thinks the Tigers have already won it without having thrown the first pitch. 

I don’t care what he told Chris Myers -Scott Rolen still hates Tony LaRussa.  That’s because LaRussa is a jerk.  I like how they had bud light backdrops and locker covers in the locker room for the champagne. 

Finally – I just saw the premiere of “The Prestige” tonight.  It’s strange how the reviews I read either loved it or hated it.  There was no in between.  I LOVED it.  It’s probably about 30 minutes too long, but the story is great and I was really struck by the ending.  I didn’t get it at first, but after about 10 minutes I finally figured out what was going on.  I don’t think the (final – there are many) gotcha was as good as the Sixth Sense, but  there was more substance to the final ending.  Anyway, I hope my friends see the movie because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone but I’d really like to talk to people about it.



Reds Top Yankees in Game Three, One Win Away From Second Straight World Series

1976 World Series – Game Three
October 19, 1976 at Yankee Stadium
Reds 6, Yankees 2  Reds Lead Best of Seven Series 3-0

The Reds continued their winning ways as they took a commanding 3-0 lead over the Yankees in the 1976 World Series.  Pat Zachry went up against Dock Ellis and the Yankees never really had much of a chance in this one.

The big inning for the Reds was the second.  Dan Driessen led off with a single and then he stole second base.  George Foster drove Driessen home with a double and then Foster moved to third on Johnny Bench’s single.  Foster then scored when Bench was forced out second on Cesar Geronimo’s ground out.  Geronimo stole second and then he scored on Dave Concepcion’s single to make it 3-0.  It was only the second inning and the Reds had all the runs they’d need in this one.

The Reds added a run in the fourth inning on a solo homerun by Dan Driessen and the Yankees finally got to Pat Zachry in the bottom of the fourth when Oscar Gamble singled home Chris Chambliss to make it 4-1.  Jim Mason hit a solo shot off of Zachy in the seventh to make it 4-2 but that would be the closest the Yankees got.

The Reds put two more runs on the board in the eighth inning to give their relief pitchers a more comfortable lead.  Pete Rose scored on Joe Morgan’s double and then Foster singled home Morgan to make it 6-2.

Zachry went 6 2/3 innings and he gave up the two runs on six hits and five walks with six strikeouts.  Will McEnaney pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and gave up only two hits.

The Reds were one win away from their second consecutive World Series.  If they won tomorrow, they’d be the only team to go 7-0 in a playoffs since the current format was put in place back in 1969.



Tony Perez Drives In Winning Run, Reds Take 2-0 World Series Lead

1976 World Series – Game Two
October 17, 1976 at Riverfront Stadium
Reds 4, Yankees 3  Reds Lead Best of Seven Series 2-0

The Reds continued to roll as they held back a late Yankee comeback to win game two of the World Series.  Fred Norman was the starter for the Reds and Catfish Hunter threw for the Yankees.

The Reds jumped all over Hunter in the second inning.  Dan Driessen led off with a double and he scored on George Foster’s single.  Foster was then gunned down trying to steal second base before Johnny Bench doubled.  Cesar Geronimo drew a walk and Dave Concepcion drove home Bench with a single to make it 2-0.  Concepcion stole second and then Pete Rose walked to load the bases up before Ken Griffey hit a sac. fly to give the Reds a three run lead.

The Yankees finally got to Norman in the fourth inning when Graig Nettles singled home Thurman Munson to make it 3-1.  The Yankees struck again in the seventh when Fred Stanley singled home Willie Randolph and then Stanley scored on Thurman Munson’s fielders choice to tie the game up 3-3. 

While the Yankees were coming back, Hunter was shutting down the Reds.  From the third to the eighth inning, he retired fifteen straight batters.  Jack Billingham had relieved Norman and he was retired all eight batters he faced.  The Reds entered the bottom of the ninth and the game was still knotted at three a piece.

Dave Concepcion flew out to start things off in the ninth, then Pete Rose flew out to left.  Then Ken Griffey reached second base on a critical error by Fred Stanley in what should have been an inning ending ground out.  Joe Morgan was given an intentional pass, then Tony Perez came up huge with a clutch single to drive home Griffey and end the game.

Things would shift to Yankees Stadium for game three.  Needless to say, it would be a must win situation for the Yankees.



Small Ball – Friend or Foe?

By Thaq Diesel

I just finished reading Moneyball, the study about the Oakland A’s and their success in reaching the playoffs despite having a smaller payroll.  The book rambled at length about Billy Beane in both positive and negative light.  The main thrust of the book was that statistical analysis was more important than baseball’s conventional wisdom.

One big case made by Moneyball was that making an out (e.g. a sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, caught stealing, etc…) was statistically worse for scoring runs (the lifeblood of winning baseball) than leaving the runner on base and trying to hit them in.  It also argued that taking pitches and on base percentage, that is taking walks, was much better than aggressive hitting. 

This flies in the face of many things that I have espoused on this website this year.  I once got incredibly angry at Deion Sanders (a Reds player at the time) in Riverfront Stadium because he couldn’t get the ball out of the infield with the bases loaded and one out.  He didn’t execute even a sacrifice, dagnabbit!  Since he made an out, Primetime didn’t execute the Billy Beane Moneyball system either, but I was apparently mad at Deion for the wrong reasons.

Or was I?  I was amazed in the series versus the Tigers at how much the announcers railed against the A’s reluctance to steal.  To bunt runners over.  To do the things Detroit was doing (well except chain smoking like old Jimmy Leland).  Despite Oakland’s success during the regular season the past few years, they get unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs.  Usually in sweep fashion.  Moneyball blamed a “small sample size.”  That is, if the playoffs were, say, a 15-game series, the A’s would win 9 out of 10 times.  It’s like blaming the house in Vegas because you ran out of money before you could count enough cards in a six-shoe deck to win your rent for the month. 

I don’t know how to analyze this one.  On one hand, the A’s have done a lot with seemingly anonymous rosters sprinkled with castaway and stray cat free agents.  Yet they haven’t won in the playoffs.  Do they drop what got them there and start smallball like their opponents once the playoffs start?  Or go with what got them there?

Will the Reds need to go the route of ragtag players and “playing the odds” with their mid-market payroll?  They can’t think about that until they are rid of the salaries of Griffey and Milton. 

I thought Moneyball was an interesting read.  It had a great profile of Scott Hatteberg.  He was the prototypical Moneyball hitter.



Small Ball – Friend or Foe?

By Thaq Diesel

I just finished reading Moneyball, the study about the Oakland A’s and their success in reaching the playoffs despite having a smaller payroll.  The book rambled at length about Billy Beane in both positive and negative light.  The main thrust of the book was that statistical analysis was more important than baseball’s conventional wisdom.

One big case made by Moneyball was that making an out (e.g. a sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, caught stealing, etc…) was statistically worse for scoring runs (the lifeblood of winning baseball) than leaving the runner on base and trying to hit them in.  It also argued that taking pitches and on base percentage, that is taking walks, was much better than aggressive hitting. 

This flies in the face of many things that I have espoused on this website this year.  I once got incredibly angry at Deion Sanders (a Reds player at the time) in Riverfront Stadium because he couldn’t get the ball out of the infield with the bases loaded and one out.  He didn’t execute even a sacrifice, dagnabbit!  Since he made an out, Primetime didn’t execute the Billy Beane Moneyball system either, but I was apparently mad at Deion for the wrong reasons.

Or was I?  I was amazed in the series versus the Tigers at how much the announcers railed against the A’s reluctance to steal.  To bunt runners over.  To do the things Detroit was doing (well except chain smoking like old Jimmy Leland).  Despite Oakland’s success during the regular season the past few years, they get unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs.  Usually in sweep fashion.  Moneyball blamed a “small sample size.”  That is, if the playoffs were, say, a 15-game series, the A’s would win 9 out of 10 times.  It’s like blaming the house in Vegas because you ran out of money before you could count enough cards in a six-shoe deck to win your rent for the month. 

I don’t know how to analyze this one.  On one hand, the A’s have done a lot with seemingly anonymous rosters sprinkled with castaway and stray cat free agents.  Yet they haven’t won in the playoffs.  Do they drop what got them there and start smallball like their opponents once the playoffs start? 

O



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