Archive - Jan 2015

Date
Type

January 26th

Just How Good Was Ernie Banks?

A lot of ink has been spilled the last few days remembering and honoring the late, great Ernie Banks. Besides being, by all acounts, a wonderful person and ambassador for the game, he was also undoubtedly one of the best baseball players ever, as his many accolades attest. First Ballot Hall of Famer. 14X All Star. Two-Time National League MVP. Gold Glove Winner. His appearances on the major career leaderboards further illustrate his legacy. More than 40 years after he retired he is still 22nd in Home Runs, 29th in RBI, 35th in Extra Base Hits, 34th in Total Bases, 14th in Intentional Walks. More advanced metrics paint an even stronger picture: Banks is in the top 100 all time in Runs Created, Win Probability Added, and MVP Shares, and Baseball Reference has him ranked as the 119th best player in baseball history and the 82nd best position player in history by WAR.

What makes all of this even more impressive is that Banks really had two careers. The first was as an elite short stop. The second, following a knee injury, was as an above average first baseman. While he continued to put up impressive counting stats and had a few good seasons after the switch, the vast majority of his career value occurred prior to the move. To illustrate, Banks accumulated 54.8 WAR through 1961 (his age 30 season) and then only 12.3 WAR over his remaining 10 seasons. His early peak was so good, if he had simply retired following the 1961 season he would still rank as the 146th best position player of all time--just between Enos Slaughter and Billy Herman, two Hall of Famers.

To more deeply examine just how talented Banks was in his prime, I examined his peak WAR at short stop historically. I followed the Baseball Reference definition of "peak" as a player's 7 best seasons--but I restricted it to a player's seven best season at short stop (a season in which they played more games at SS than any other position). The 7 seasons did not have to be consecutive, though in Banks' case they were. From 1954-1960 Banks was primarily a short stop and he accumulated 49.7 WAR. You can see in the table below how he stacks up historically. If you had to select a short stop and could select any player in history in the prime or peak of his career, Banks would certainly be a top five pick, behind only Wagner, A-Rod, Ripken, and Vaughan.

January 24th

HERO

I never thought Ernie Banks passing would affect me like this. I'm not the type to be openly weeping but I am. Listening to the radio and hearing story after story of people that wanted to share their personal stories of meeting Ernie and the uplifting impact he had on everyone he touched. We are all little kids somewhere inside and Ernie was magic when it came to Cub fans. He was Chicago's treasure from the 1950's to the present.

January 22nd

January 19th

Cubs Try Not To Fowl It Up

The Cubs hinted at getting an outfielder that could play CF or LF just over a week ago and today they finalized a deal for about the only player that made sense to fit that role. The Cubs sent Luis Valbuena and P Dan Straily to the Astros for OF Dexter Fowler. Hard to find a way to not like this deal, but I'm sure some will.

January 16th

Cubs Arbitration Figures

UPDATE: L. Valbuena signs for $4.1M according to Bruce Levine.


The Cubs had 7 players that could head to arbitration cases, they've settled with 5 of them today. Today happened to be the deadline when teams and players had to file their arbitation numbers if they were going to go to a hearing, thus the influx of news on completed deals.

F. Doubront got $1.925M (1st time arb eligible)

Chris Coghlan got $2.505M (1st time arb eligible)

W. Castillo got $2.1M (1st time arb eligible)

J. Arrieta got $3.63M  (1st time arb eligible)

T. Wood got $5.685M (2nd time arb eligible)

That leaves L. Valbuena (2nd time arb eligible) and Pedro Strop (1st time) as the two that have yet to reach a settlement, although I highly doubt either will head to an arbitration hearing even if the deal isn't finished today.

January 13th

Who is Next for 3,000 Hits?

Accumulating 3,000 hits in a career used to be an automatic ticket to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and all eligible players in the modern era sailed in on the first ballot until Rafael Palmeiro in 2011. It was easy to disregard Palmeiro, however, given his suspension do to PEDs; yet Craig Biggio, with 3,060 hits in his career, also failed to get in on his first try, taking three years to finally overcome the 75% threshold. This suggests that the magic number of 3,000 has lost some of its allure. Yet there is no denying that the number still means something and the list of those with 3,000 hits is a who’s-who of baseball’s greatest and all eligible players expect Palmeiro are in the Hall of Fame. Derek Jeter, who just retired with 3,465 hits, will certainly gain entry on the first ballot when he becomes eligible.

Looking forward, who might be next in line for 3,000 hits?

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January 9th

Cubs Add Three More Minor League Free-Agents to the Fold

SAT 1/10 UPDATE: Matt Eddy at BA is now reporting that the Cubs have also signed 27-year old RHRP to a minor league contract. DeLeon was signed by the Houston Astros as a shortstop out of the Dominican Republic in 2006 and was converted to RHP post-2009. He was added to the Astros 40-man roster post-2010 and made his big league debut in August 2013. He was claimed off waivers by Oakland in October 2014 and then was released last month. DeLeon will almost certainly get an NRI to Spring Training, and then be bullpen depth at AAA Iowa.   

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Baseball America reports the Cubs have signed three more minor league free-agents over the past few days, including veteran MLB catcher , INF , and RHP . The trio join RHRP , RHRP , OF , and INF , who were signed to minor league contracts earlier. All seven will likely receive an NRI to Spring Training.  

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