Monday afternoon will see the announcement of the latest addition to the Baseball Hall of Fame. In order to impress your friends around the water cooler on Monday morning, here are some fun facts for each of the eligible players:
Barry Larkin: Larkin just missed some wonderful round number milestones. He had a .295 career batting average with 198 HRs, 960 RBI and 379 SBs. Nonetheless, there are only three players in history with at least a .295 average, 195 homers, 950 ribbies and 375 stolen bases: Barry Bonds, Roberto Alomar and Paul Molitor. Two of those are already in the Hall and Mr. Bonds well . . .
Jack Morris: Morris twirled 293.2 innings in 1983. The only other pitcher to toss as many since then . . . Bert Blyleven with the same 293.2 mark in 1985. His first name is actually John. Taken in the 5th round of the 1976 draft. Other players Detroit took in that draft . . . Dan Petry, Alan Trammell and . . . Ozzie Smith (Ozzie didn’t sign).
Juan Gonzalez: From 1996 to 1999, Gonzalez averaged 43-140-.314 despite only appearing in 141 games per season (on average). He had 16 sacrifice flies in 2001, three short of Gil Hodges record 19 in 1954.
Lee Smith: Smith has probably gotten sick from riding the HOF “Ballot Rollercoaster” since his initial eligibility in 2003. Here is his percentage of ballots in each year: 42.3%, 36.6%, 38.8%, 45.0%, 39.8%, 43.3%, 44.5%, 47.3%, 45.3%. He DID make six starts (out of 1,022 appearances) in his career. In his first start, he pitched six innings in what would be a 2-1 loss to the Phillies in the last game of the 1981 regular season (the split-season brought on by the mid-season strike).
Jeff Bagwell: Even though it occurred during the strike-shortened 1994 season, Bagwell’s 213 OPS+ made him only the eighth player to achieve such a mark. He is only the second player to make the Majors from the University of Hartford (Earl Snyder was the other).
Tim Raines: Raines stole at least 70 bases in six consecutive seasons (1981-86). His percentage for that period: 86.9. He had 2,605 hits (tied for 76th all-time) despite never having a 200-hit season.
Edgar Martinez: One of the best (and most “clutch”, if you’ll pardon the use of that word) hitters of his generation. For his career, he hit .375/.441/.602 with a runner on third and less than two out. His .479 OBP in 1995 is one of the eight highest in the expansion era. Cousin of Carmelo Martinez, whose own claim to fame was that he fielded Pete Rose’s 4,192nd hit in left field on 9/11/1985.
Alan Trammell: Amongst shortstops with at least 2,000 games played, Trammell’s 110 OPS+ ranks sixth (behind Larkin, Derek Jeter, Luke Appling, Joe Cronin and Honus Wagner). Defensively, even though he was slightly below average rangewise (4.71 vs. 4.77 leaguewide), his fielding percentage was much better (.977 vs. .967)
Larry Walker: Walker’s detractors point to his playing in Coors Field pre-humidor (1.068 vs. .865 home/road career OPS split). If you doubled his road production, he’d end up with 336 HRs, 1128 RBI, .278/.370/.495. This would pale in comparison to most Hall of Fame outfielders, as there are at least 12 of them with better stats in the composite of these categories. But don’t run on his arm, he had 150 assists from right field in his career (12th-best since 1954)
Mark McGwire: From 1995 through his final season, 345 of his 792 hits left the yard (43.6%). McGwire was taken 10th in the first round of the 1984 draft. His 63.1 WAR is greater than all nine prior picks combined.
Fred McGriff: From 1987 through 2002, McGriff compiled a line of .287/.380/.514 for a 136 OPS+. During that time, he had but one season below 110 OPS+. He has two cousins that each played catcher in the Majors: Charles Johnson and Terry McGriff.
Don Mattingly: Mattingly had six career grand slams . . . all of them occurred in 1987, when he hit .494 with the bags juiced. Excluding that 1987 season, he went 29-111 (.261) in base loaded situations.
Dale Murphy: From 2003 to 2011, his ballot percentage not been lower than 8.5% or higher than 13.8%. From 1976-1987 (age 31 season): 132 OPS+, 1988-1993 (age 37 season): 96 OPS+, with his slugging percentage never higher than .421.
Javy Lopez: His first agent’s name was Chuck Berry (wonder if he said “Javy be good!”). He was successful in only 8 out of 27 career stolen base attempts (3 out of 19 if you exclude going 5 out of 8 in 1998). There actually have been three other players with eight or fewer successful steals in 27 or more lifetime attempts.
Ruben Sierra: Sierra had 13 doubles, 10 triples and 16 homers in his first season in the Majors (1986, when he had only 411 plate appearances). This was the first time a player had reached double digits in all three categories in his first season since 1961, and it hasn’t been done since. He wore 12 different uniform numbers during his big league career.
January 21, 2002: Traded by the Milwaukee Brewers with Lou Collier, Jeff D’Amico, Mark Sweeney and cash to the New York Mets. The New York Mets sent Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch to the Milwaukee Brewers. The New York Mets sent Benny Agbayani, Todd Zeile and cash to the Colorado Rockies. The Colorado Rockies sent Ross Gload and Craig House to the New York Mets. The Colorado Rockies sent Alex Ochoa to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Tony Womack: Batted leadoff 958 times in his career, despite a .321 OBP. When he DID get on, he stole bases at an 83% clip (363-437). He had to steal that many bases to be of some value, as his career .673 OPS puts him alongside only 26 others to have that low an OPS with 5,000 or more plate appearances in the DH era.
Phil Nevin: Born in Placentia, California (the afterbirth of a nation?). Placentia also gave us director James Cameron, tennis player Michael Chang and punk group Agent Orange. He was the first overall pick in the 1992 draft, taken five slots before Derek Jeter.
Eric Young: Good news: he stole 465 bases in his career. Bad news: he was caught 168 times (73.4% success rate). Only four other players have stolen fewer bases while being caught as many times as Young.
Bill Mueller: Only player in history to hit grand slams from both sides of the plate in the same game. Hit between .290 and .295 in five different seasons.
Brad Radke: Only once in his 12 seasons did he pitch fewer than 162 innings. From 1996-2001, he started 202 games and pitched 1356.2 innings. He surrendered more homers than walks in both 2003 and 2005.