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Cooperstown Choices: Edgar Martinez

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2012, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty seven men on the ballot this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2012 menu at the top of the page.

Tune in Saturday, January 7, 2012 as I-70 Baseball Radio will host a panel of writers discussing the Hall Of Fame Ballot in a 2-hour special.

In this article, we take a look at Edgar Martinez

Edgar Martinez
Martinez enjoyed an 18 season career and is the poster child for the Designated Hitter. He signed with the Seattle Mariners as an undrafted free agent in 1982, eventually making his debut for the club in 1987. His career would come to a close at the end of the 2004 season at the age of 41. This will be his third year on the ballot for induction.

Year Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
1987 SEA 13 43 6 16 5 2 0 5 0 2 5 .372 .413 .581 .994 155
1988 SEA 14 32 0 9 4 0 0 5 0 4 7 .281 .351 .406 .758 109
1989 SEA 65 171 20 41 5 0 2 20 2 17 26 .240 .314 .304 .619 74
1990 SEA 144 487 71 147 27 2 11 49 1 74 62 .302 .397 .433 .830 132
1991 SEA 150 544 98 167 35 1 14 52 0 84 72 .307 .405 .452 .857 138
1992 SEA 135 528 100 181 46 3 18 73 14 54 61 .343 .404 .544 .948 164
1993 SEA 42 135 20 32 7 0 4 13 0 28 19 .237 .366 .378 .744 100
1994 SEA 89 326 47 93 23 1 13 51 6 53 42 .285 .387 .482 .869 121
1995 SEA 145 511 121 182 52 0 29 113 4 116 87 .356 .479 .628 1.107 185
1996 SEA 139 499 121 163 52 2 26 103 3 123 84 .327 .464 .595 1.059 166
1997 SEA 155 542 104 179 35 1 28 108 2 119 86 .330 .456 .554 1.009 165
1998 SEA 154 556 86 179 46 1 29 102 1 106 96 .322 .429 .565 .993 158
1999 SEA 142 502 86 169 35 1 24 86 7 97 99 .337 .447 .554 1.001 152
2000 SEA 153 556 100 180 31 0 37 145 3 96 95 .324 .423 .579 1.002 157
2001 SEA 132 470 80 144 40 1 23 116 4 93 90 .306 .423 .543 .966 160
2002 SEA 97 328 42 91 23 0 15 59 1 67 69 .277 .403 .485 .888 139
2003 SEA 145 497 72 146 25 0 24 98 0 92 95 .294 .406 .489 .895 141
2004 SEA 141 486 45 128 23 0 12 63 1 58 107 .263 .342 .385 .727 92
18 Seasons 2055 7213 1219 2247 514 15 309 1261 49 1283 1202 .312 .418 .515 .933 147
162 Game Avg. 162 569 96 177 41 1 24 99 4 101 95 .312 .418 .515 .933 147
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/29/2011.

Why He Should Get In
Martinez is the hope for all players that spend a majority of their career as Designated Hitters. By 1995 he had transitioned full time to that role for the Mariners and extended his career due to it. A fielder that was hobbled in the field, he found a career by hitting and hitting well. A career .312 batting average and 2247 hits demonstrates that ability. His numbers are low by most standards, but he is the bar by which the designated hitter standards are set.

Why He Should Not Get In
For a man that spent his career as a hitter, his numbers do not support the suggestion that he was a great one. He may have been one of the best designated hitters, but until voters can get a feel for what barometer to judge those players by, it will be hard to determine if Martinez was a great hitter or simply someone clinging to a few more years because he was in the American League.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

Posted in Classic, Cooperstown Choices 2012, I-70 Baseball ExclusivesComments (2)

Where Does Soria Go From Here?

Joakim Soria has been the Royals lone, rock-solid, star presence over the past three seasons, and no one had any doubt he would continue dominating from the mound in save situations this season. The closer role was about the only thing on this year’s Royals team that did not have a question mark by it. Unfortunately, Soria has been downright awful through the first third of the season, and has lost the closer role to Aaron Crow for the time being. Now the crucial question becomes if this is a temporary slump or injury that Soria will come back from, or if he is done as an elite reliever. In the hopes of shedding some light on the answer, I will take a look at other closers in history who have racked up a large amount of saves at a young age. The following list shows all 11 players with over 100 saves before their age 27 season (which Soria is in now):

Rk Player SV From To Age G IP ERA+
1 Francisco Rodriguez 208 2002 2008 20-26 408 451.2 190
2 Gregg Olson 160 1988 1993 21-26 320 350.1 176
3 Huston Street 149 2005 2010 21-26 355 378.0 148
4 Bobby Thigpen 148 1986 1990 22-26 277 382.1 148
5 Joakim Soria 132 2007 2010 23-26 238 255.0 219
6 Chad Cordero 128 2003 2008 21-26 305 320.2 155
7 Rod Beck 127 1991 1995 22-26 280 331.0 134
8 Mitch Williams 114 1986 1991 21-26 436 511.0 123
9 Ugueth Urbina 110 1995 2000 21-26 251 360.0 127
10 Matt Capps 109 2005 2010 21-26 345 344.2 127
11 Bruce Sutter 105 1976 1979 23-26 240 390.2 177

photo by Minda Haas

Rodriguez, Street and Capps are all still young and active, so the second part of their careers are still unfolding just like Soria’s is. I will take a brief look at the careers of the remaining seven pitchers from the list to see how some closers who racked up saves at an early age fared from age 27 on. The first number after their name is number of saves before age 27 season, and the second number is saves from age 27 to the end of their career.

Gregg Olson: 160 • 57
Olson suffered a torn elbow ligament at the age of 26 and was never the same. He bounced around in 10 transactions between 1994-2000, including two stops with the Royals. He managed one more big year as a closer after the injury, racking up 30 saves for Arizona in 1998.
Bobby Thigpen: 148 • 53
Thigpen started battling injuries at 26 also. After recording 30 and 22 saves at ages 27 and 28, he only posted one more save and was out of the majors at 30.
Chad Cordero: 128 • 0
Here is the worst case. Cordero posted all of his career saves before his age 26 season, then suffered a labrum tear. He has had a couple of failed comeback attempts but has been unable to stick in the majors since.
Rod Beck: 127 • 159
Here is a better looking career path. Beck continued to be a dominant closer at 28 and 29, and had a one year renaissance at age 34 when he converted all 20 of his save opportunities.
Mitch Williams: 114 • 78
Wild Thing stayed fantastic at 27 and 28 but was done after that, throwing less than 40 innings the rest of his career (including 6.2 with the 1997 Royals).
Ugueth Urbina: 110 • 127
Urbina remained fantastically effective until his career ended at age 31 with an arrest (and subsequent conviction and 14 year prison sentence) for a machete attack/gasoline dousing incident. Hopefully Soria can avoid that.
Bruce Sutter: 105 • 195
This I suppose would be the best case scenario, particularly with that Hall of Fame induction capping things off.

So we have four pitchers who recorded fewer saves after age 26 and three pitchers who piled up a greater number after that age. It is almost like we cannot predict the future. But this graph of the average number of saves the above pitchers posted by age does show how difficult it is to continue the level of performance Soria has held up in the last three years:

That looks pretty dramatic, but that is not surprising since I cherry picked guys who all were fantastic before turning 27. Some of them are going to flame out and tank the averages. In Beck, Urbina and Sutter, there are precedents for Soria carrying on as an elite closer. Only one of the above examples completely disappeared after turning 27 (Cordero). With a little time and luck, hopefully the Royals can fix whatever is ailing Soria, and he can get back to locking down Royals wins again soon.

Aaron Stilley also writes about Kansas City baseball at his blog here and on the tweeties.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

The Biggest Plays From A Crazy Opening Week

It was a wild and crazy opening week at Kauffman Stadium full of extra innings, lead changes, walk-offs, meltdowns and best of all, a 4-2 record for the Royals. Here is a look at some of the biggest plays from each game based on win probability added (WPA) (numbers all from the indispensable Fangraphs):

March 31 • Angels 4 Royals 2

The opener did not feature any of the dramatic swings that the next five contests did. The key moment of the game came when the Royals threatened to come back in the bottom of the eighth after Melky Cabrera, Billy Butler and Kila Ka’aihue walked the bases drunk with just one out. They were down 2-4 but had raised their win expectancy (WE) to 38%. Jeff Francoeur stepped to the plate but struck out, which dropped the Royals WE down to 23%. Alcides Escobar was up next with a chance to play hero, but flew out instead, and the Royals chances fell all the way down to 8%.

(WPA is a descriptive or “story” stat, meaning it describes what happened without necessarily reflecting a player’s true talent. Still, it is worth noting that Escobar had the worst WPA in the majors last season and has jumped out to the worst WPA for the Royals so far. Hopefully some timely hits will start falling in for him. The good news is he has looked outstanding with the glove.)

April 1 • Royals 2 Angels 1

The start of the four-game winning streak, and first of three walk-off wins on the week. Not surprisingly, Kila’s 9th inning bomb was the play of the game, boosting KC’s WE from 64% to a cool 100%.

April 2 • Royals 5 Angels 4

The Royals came-back came in the eighth inning this time with a couple of unlikely names doing the damage with the bat. With two outs and two on, the Royals were down 3-4, and had just a 31% WE. Light-hitting Matt Treanor knocked Billy Butler in with a single to tie it, and also-light-hitting Chris Getz gave the good guys the lead for good with a single of his own. KC’s WE shot all the way up to 86%.

April 3 • Royals 5 Angels 4

More late-innings madness, this time in both the ninth and 13th innings. Down by two in the bottom of the ninth, things were not looking good until suddenly the bases were loaded; Wilson Betemit had the biggest hit for the Royals all week (judged by WPA) when he doubled in two runs. Tying the game resulted in a mammoth 51% swing in WE in the Royals favor. The teams locked horns for four more innings before Treanor continued an amazing first week as a Royal with a walk-off ding dong. Even though it won the game, it had a smaller impact on WE (39%) than Betemit’s game-tying double.

April 5 • Royals 7 White Sox 6

How about another extra-inning, walk-off win? Once again it was the hit to tie the game that had the biggest effect on WE, rather than the walk-off hit itself. The tying runs came on a mammoth home-run from Bam Bam Butler, boosting the Royals WE from 20% to 56%. Cabrera’s single in the 12th wasn’t bad either, moving the WE from 70% to game over.

April 6 • White Sox 10 Royals 7

insaness

The magic ran out in another crazy game. It looked like the Royals were going to win in non-dramatic fashion for a change after jumping out to a 5-0 lead and handing a 6-3 lead to Joakim Soria in the ninth. Soria got two quick ground-outs, and the game was basically over. The Royals WE was 99.6%. The White Sox had flat-lined and were moving towards the light. Three singles and a walk later, the White Sox were within one run, but the Royals WE was still 83%. Next came the biggest WPA play of the week when Carlos Quentin doubled in the tying and go-ahead runs, swinging the WE 66% in the White Sox’s favor. It appeared the Royals might come back from the collapse when Ka’aihue doubled in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth, moving the WE 42% back in KC’s favor. The Royals couldn’t score. Then in the 11th, the Royals got their WE all the way back up to 83%. In a repeat of opening day, Jeff Francoeur and Alcides Escobar squashed a rally with back-to-back outs. It was not to be this time, and the Sox finally finished the job in the 13th inning.

Top five plays by WPA during opening week:

-66%: April 6 • 9th • Carlos Quentin go-ahead 2B

+51%: April 3 • 9th • Wilson Betemit tying 2B

+42%: April 6 • 9th • Kila Ka’aihue tying 2B

+39%: April 3 • 13th • Matt Treanor walk-off HR

+36%: April 5 • 8th • Billy Butler tying HR

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Royals In Municipal Stadium

Joe Keough, 1969

Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium hosted professional baseball from 1923-1972 on the corner of 22nd & Brooklyn. It is most widely associated with the Kansas City Blues, Monarchs and Athletics, but was also home to the Royals for their first four seasons. The Royals opened their time at the park on April 8th and 9th, 1969 against the Twins. It was an auspicious start – a pair of 4-3, extra inning, walk-off wins for the home team. On the 8th, Joe Keough knocked in the winning run in the 13th inning, and on the 9th, Lou Piniella was the hero in the 17th inning. Just two games old and the franchise had played 30 innings. The Royals went on to play a total of 318 games at Municipal over those four years, and won exactly half of them.

Their was a surprisingly stable group of core players that were with the expansion team all four years in Municipal, including Lou Piniella, Ed Kirkpatrick, Paul Schaal, Bob Oliver, Joe Keough, Tom Burgmeier, Dick Drago, Jim Rooker and Mike Hedlund. Piniella played the most games at Municipal as a Royal (280). Amos Otis joined the team in 1970. Paul Splittorff pitched there between ’70-’72. (This was pre-DH, so he hit there too.) Fred Patek plied his trade as a Royal for the final two years in Municipal. Big John Mayberry began his reign as a Royal in ’72.

Dimensions at Municipal circa 1972. It played as a neutral hitter's/pitcher's park during the Royals time there.

Public bonds had been issued in 1967 to build what would become the Truman Sports Complex, and according to Curt Nelson, Royals Stadium was initially slated to open for the 1972 season, but was delayed a year by a construction strike. The team did not seem to mind playing in Municipal that year–they posted a 44-33 record at home. The Royals played their final Municipal game on October 4, 1972, and went out in style with a 4-0 shutout by Roger Nelson, who allowed just two hits to the Rangers. The stadium sat empty for four years before it was demolished in 1976.

The following leader-boards include only stats racked up by Royals players at home games in Municipal Stadium:

Games:

Lou Piniella 280
Ed Kirkpatrick 245
Paul Schaal 233
Amos Otis 223
Bob Oliver 206
Cookie Rojas 173
Fred Patek 149
Joe Keough 146
Pat Kelly 125
Jackie Hernandez & Tom Burgmeier 111

Plate appearances:

Lou Piniella 1119
Amos Otis 937
Paul Schaal 904
Ed Kirkpatrick 839
Bob Oliver 754
Cookie Rojas 691
Fred Patek 635
Pat Kelly 511
Joe Keough 430
Jackie Hernandez 402

Runs:

Amos Otis 123
Paul Schaal 107
Lou Piniella 101
Ed Kirkpatrick 92
Bob Oliver 78
Fred Patek 77
Pat Kelly 74
Cookie Rojas 65
Jackie Hernandez 42
Joe Keough, Joe Foy &
John Mayberry
36

Hits:

Lou Piniella 318
Amos Otis 259
Paul Schaal 202
Cookie Rojas 177
Ed Kirkpatrick 171
Bob Oliver 160
Fred Patek 149
Pat Kelly 118
Joe Keough 91
Jackie Hernandez 88

Doubles:

Lou Piniella 53
Amos Otis 48
Paul Schaal 45
Ed Kirkpatrick 31
Cookie Rojas 30

Triples:

Lou Piniella 12
Amos Otis 11
Fred Patek 8
Bob Oliver 8
Paul Schaal 7

Home runs:

Ed Kirkpatrick 26
Bob Oliver 18
Lou Piniella 17
John Mayberry 13
Amos Otis 11
Paul Schaal 6
Pat Kelly 5
Joe Foy 5
Mike Fiore 5
Richie Scheinblum &
Gail Hopkins
4

RBI:

Lou Piniella 168
Ed Kirkpatrick 120
Bob Oliver 95
Amos Otis 91
Paul Schaal 83
Cookie Rojas 68
John Mayberry 49
Joe Foy 48
Richie Scheinblum 34
Pat Kelly & Fred Patek 31

Stolen bases, caught stealing, success rate:

Fred Patek 58 11 84%
Amos Otis 57 12 83%
Pat Kelly 38 13 75%
Joe Foy 21 10 68%
Paul Schaal 11 6 65%

Walks:

Paul Schaal 120
Ed Kirkpatrick 104
Amos Otis 82
Pat Kelly 72
Lou Piniella 56

Strikeouts:

Bob Oliver 135
Ed Kirkpatrick 108
Lou Piniella 95
Pat Kelly 84
Jackie Hernandez 84

Batting average (min. 100 PA):

Richie Scheinblum .329
Amos Otis .312
John Mayberry .311
Lou Piniella .309
Steve Hovley .306
Cookie Rojas .283
Rich Severson .281
Gail Hopkins .279
Mike Fiore .276
Joe Foy .273

On-base percentage (min. 100 PA):

Richie Scheinblum .425
Mike Fiore .423
John Mayberry .403
Pat Kelly .379
Steve Hovley .378
Joe Foy .374
Amos Otis .371
Paul Schaal .363
Gail Hopkins .354
Jerry May .349

Slugging percentage (min. 100 PA):

John Mayberry .531
Richie Scheinblum .457
Amos Otis .436
Lou Piniella .434
Rich Severson .406
Ed Kirkpatrick .401
Joe Foy .400
Gail Hopkins .398
Mike Fiore .388
Steve Hovley .378

On-base plus slugging (min. 100 PA):

John Mayberry .934
Richie Scheinblum .881
Mike Fiore .811
Amos Otis .807
Lou Piniella .777
Joe Foy .774
Steve Hovley .756
Gail Hopkins .752
Pat Kelly .749
Rich Severson .743

Total bases:

Lou Piniella 446
Amos Otis 362
Ed Kirkpatrick 288
Paul Schaal 279
Bob Oliver 237

Wins:

Dick Drago 23
Tom Burgmeier 16
Mike Hedlund 16
Jim Rooker 15
Paul Splittorff 13

Losses:

Dick Drago 26
Jim Rooker 19
Wally Bunker 12
Mike Hedlund 11
Bill Butler 11

ERA (min. 50 IP):

Ted Abernathy 2.23
Bob Johnson 2.46
Moe Drabowsky 2.62
Dave Morehead 2.72
Tom Burgmeier 3.06

Games started:

Dick Drago 63
Jim Rooker 36
Mike Hedlund 31
Bill Butler 28
Paul Splittorff 28

Innings Pitched:

Dick Drago 476.2
Jim Rooker 267
Mike Hedlund 239
Wally Bunker 202
Paul Splittorff 197
Bill Butler 194
Roger Nelson 179.2
Al Fitzmorris 166.1
Tom Burgmeier 156
Bruce Dal Canton 137.2

Hits allowed:

Dick Drago 449
Jim Rooker 254
Mike Hedlund 220
Wally Bunker 186
Al Fitzmorris 178

Runs allowed:

Dick Drago 177
Jim Rooker 123
Mike Hedlund 96
Al Fitzmorris 93
Wally Bunker 89

HR allowed:

Dick Drago 30
Wally Bunker 23
Mike Hedlund 17
Bill Butler 17
Al Fitzmorris 11

Walks allowed:

Dick Drago 127
Jim Rooker 119
Bill Butler 100
Mike Hedlund 76
Al Fitzmorris 68

Strikeouts:

Dick Drago 247
Jim Rooker 151
Bill Butler 125
Paul Splittorff 125
Bob Johnson 123

Strikeouts per 9 IP (min. 50 IP):

Bob Johnson 9.2
Moe Drabowsky 7.2
Dave Morehead 6.6
Ted Abernathy 5.9
Ken Wright 5.9

Shutouts:

Dick Drago 7
Jim Rooker 7
Bill Butler 4
Paul Splittorff 3
Roger Nelson 3

Saves:

Ted Abernathy 19
Tom Burgmeier 16
Moe Drabowsky 6
Ken Wright 5
Al Fitzmorris 3

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