Tagged: Dwight Evans

David Price and the best uniform numbers ever

From ESPN Boston: David Schoenfield, ESPN Senior Writer

David Price was officially introduced as a member of the Boston Red Sox on Friday. Price has worn No. 14 throughout his career — with Tampa Bay, with Detroit and with Toronto — but that number is retired in Boston in honor of Hall of Famer so Jim Rice so he chose No. 24.

 

That’s a pretty storied number in Red Sox history. Dwight Evans — a better player than Rice but not in the Hall of Fame — wore it from 1973 to 1990 and he’s one of the most popular players in Red Sox history. But the Red Sox only retire the numbers of Hall of Famers, so five players have worn it since Evans. One of those was Manny Ramirez, who wore it from 2001 to 2008.

That got me to thinking: What’s the greatest jersey number for one team? By that, I mean worn by more than one great player. Here are some nominees:

  • Boston Red Sox No. 24: Dwight Evans, Manny Ramirez, David Price. Total WAR: 99.4 and counting. (That WAR is only for the players listed and only while with the Red Sox; many others have worn the number, but I’m looking at major stars only. Good luck if you want to invest the time for all players.)
  • New York Yankees No. 8: Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra. Two Hall of Fame catchers, the number is now retired. Total WAR: 112.3.
  • New York Yankees No. 9: Roger Maris, Graig Nettles, Hank Bauer, Charlie Keller and Joe DiMaggio. The number is retired in Maris’ honor, although Nettles, Keller and Bauer each accumulated more WAR while with the Yankees. DiMaggio wore No. 9 as a rookie before shifting to No. 5. Total WAR: 145.6 (using just the one season for DiMaggio). Might be hard to beat that total.
  • Chicago Cubs No. 31: Fergie Jenkins and Greg Maddux. Two Hall of Fame right-handers, the number is now retired in honor of both. Total WAR: 87.1.
  • Seattle Mariners No. 51: Randy Johnson and Ichiro Suzuki. Who gets ultimate retirement honors? I’m guessing the Mariners will retire it in honor of both once Ichiro makes the Hall of Fame. Total WAR: 96.1.
  • Detroit Tigers No. 3: Alan Trammell, Dick McAuliffe, Ian Kinsler, Mickey Cochrane (1934-1937), Charlie Gehringer (1931). This is interesting since two Hall of Famers wore it for a short period plus Trammell, who should be in the Hall of Fame, and McAuliffe, a three-time All-Star. Total WAR: 132.8.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates No. 21: Arky Vaughan and Roberto Clemente. Total WAR: 147.8. Vaughan is a Hall of Famer, one of the most underrated players of the 1930s. He wore No. 21 with the Pirates from 1932-1939 and then changed to No. 3 and then No. 5 for some reason. I included only his 1932-1939 WAR but that was enough to push this duo above the Yankees’ No. 9 guys.
  • San Francisco Giants No. 25: Bobby Bonds and Barry Bonds. Total WAR: 150.3. Barry accounts for 112.3 of that. Not included: Dan Gladden. But if you throw in 19.3 WAR from Whitey Lockman you’re up to 169.6.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers No. 6: Carl Furillo, Ron Fairly and Steve Garvey. No Hall of Famers, but three good players. Garvey’s number is retired, oddly enough, by the Padres but not the Dodgers. Total WAR: 84.5.
  • New York Yankees No. 15: Red Ruffing, Tommy Henrich (1946-1950), Tom Tresh, Thurman Munson. The number is retired for Munson, although Ruffing is in the Hall of Fame. Total WAR: 125.5.
  • Los Angeles Angels No. 27: Vladimir Guerrero and Mike Trout. Vlad played with the Angels for only six seasons, but he did win an MVP award wearing No. 27. Hmm, how many teams have had two different players win an MVP award wearing the same number? Total WAR: 60.7 and counting.

By this measure, Bonds and Bonds is enough to make the Giants’ No. 25 the best number ever. Did I miss any other candidates? You can go to Baseball-Reference.com to check out the number history for each franchise.

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Okay, I’ll buy some of this, makes for great social media-war type stuff, but I think under these conditions, it’s just too simple and doesn’t really get into the actual subject matter of “Best Number”.  Sure, it’s about the number and not the actual players who wore them outside of their WAR, I can see that, but being a bit more traditionalist… eh. How much of the actual Barry Bonds numbers can you, PED use aside, factor into the #25
argument?  As the Riddler once said, “Too many questions…”

24 is actually one of my fave Red Sox numbers, mainly for Dewey and
having grown up watching him until his final year in Baltimore (yes, Dwight Evans played a year for the Orioles).  I was heartbroken when Manny wore it, simply because it was Dewey’s and it should have been Dewey’s… ’nuff said.  Yes other players had worn it between them and since, but again, I don’t really look at Kevin Mitchell’s short stint patrolling the famous Fenway RF in #24 as anything dramatic, nor anyone else’s stints.

But added up WAR aside… how do you get past 9?  Sure that’s based on the player who wore it but still… Teddy Ballgame as a singular baseball individual, never mind war hero (as well as WAR hero in stats terms) and American Icon (yes, he was a foul-mouthed bastard but his legacy goes well beyond that, Thank You) who still overshadows the combined three individuals mentioned in the above article.  And yes, Dwight Evans is HOF worthy, just was never the ‘Superstar’ of the team as he played with Yaz, Fisk, Rice, Boggs (all HOF) and the likes of Roger Clemens, Fred Lynn, Tony Pena and other lightning rods for the press.  He never had a long collection of league-leading years but trended upwards during the latter half of that career.  That however, is an argument that has been made and shall be made again…

Oh, NOTE: Yes, the Red Sox have made it policy that retired numbers are an honor for players who played 10 years in the uniform, retired with the team and made the HOF… except Johnny Pesky, whose 4.2 billion years of service to the organization merited his #6 be retired.

I’ve made a case for the Red Sox to implement an ‘Honored’ number selection, where specific player’s numbers are posted with their names in road jersey style upon the center field interior of the bleachers wall, keeping that number in uniform rotation but still paying homage to the player.  Example: 21 Clemens in Navy Blue numbers/letters (or Red depending on the away jersey style you prefer… I liked the original non-name roadies and the 2009 to 2013 version), 26 Boggs or 24 Evans, etc.,  This keeps the number in rotation (though 21 may never be worn either way… as it should be, all the PED rhetoric aside, Rocket’s Sox years were his prime HOF years) but still gives the deserved recognition to those who wore it before.  The Toronto Maple Leafs have had such a system in place for years.

Just my humble opinion.

p.s. If the continuing embargo versus career DH’s in the HOF, where will this leave Big Papi in the retired number conversation??

 

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The Veterans Committee Ballot is Missing It’s Top Candidate…

The Veterans Committee portion of the Hall of Fame induction process doesn’t generate the same uproar as the Baseball Writers vote does. But the people it elects are still full-fledged members of Cooperstown, with their little plaques right there next to Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Babe Ruth. Last year, the Veterans Committee elected an owner, an umpire and a player — all of whom had been dead since 1939.

This year, the committee is looking at what it calls the Expansion Era ballot, for candidates whose greatest contributions came in 1973 and later. The last time the VC looked at this era, in 2011, only executive Pat Gillick was elected. This year’s ballot will likely produce more Hall of Famers; sadly, however, none are likely to be players. The 12 finalists who the 16-man committee (and it’s all men, no women) will consider includes six players and six others. You need 12 of 16 votes to get elected. Let’s take a closer look.

The managers: Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Billy Martin, Joe Torre

Even by the historically lax standards of the Veterans Committee, Cox, La Russa and Torre are obvious Hall of Fame managers, and I suspect all three will get in. Cox is fourth on the all-time wins list and made 16 playoff appearances with the Blue Jays and Braves, although he won just one World Series. Cox finished 503 wins above .500 — the only managers with a higher total are John McGraw and Joe McCarthy. You can hold the the only-one-title against Cox, but Whitey Herzog made it in 2010 with just one title, fewer wins and a worse winning percentage. La Russa is third on the all-time wins list and has three World Series titles. Torre had a borderline Hall of Fame career as a player; include his four championships as a manager and he’s the third lock.
Martin is the interesting candidate, but he has no chance to get in with this group also on the ballot. Martin is 35th on the wins list and won just one title. What we do know about him, however, is that he was arguably the best turn-around artist in managerial history. Now, part of that was because nobody could stand to have him as their manager for more than five minutes, so he got a lot of opportunities. But consider:

  • Took over the Twins in 1969 and they improved from 79 to 97 wins and won the AL West. (Fired after the season, in part for getting in a fight with one of his pitchers.)
  • Took over the Tigers in 1971 and they improved from 79 to 91 wins. In 1972, they won the AL East. (Fired in 1973 after ordering his pitchers to throw spitballs in protest of Gaylord Perry allegedly doing so for Cleveland.)
  • Took over Rangers in September of 1973. The club improved from 57-105 to 84-78 in 1974. (Fired in 1975 after a confrontation with owner Brad Corbett.)
  • Took over the Yankees late in 1975. Club improved from 83 wins to 97 in ’76 and won its first pennant since 1964. In 1977, the Yankees won the World Series. (Resigned in 1978 after fighting with Reggie Jackson during a game and rumors that George Steinbrenner tried to trade Martin to the White Sox.)
  • After managing the Yankees again for part of the 1979 season, he took over the A’s in 1980. They had lost 108 games in 1979. They won 83 and then made the playoffs in the strike season of 1981. (Fired after losing 94 games in 1982.)

Billy Martin SI

Then came all the ridiculousness with the Yankees in the ’80s. Still, it’s an impressive track record, although it came at a cost: Martin overworked his pitchers (most notably with a young staff in Oakland that soon fell apart) and none of the teams he managed sustained any long-term success. In the end; not enough career wins, only one title and his other issues (drinking and brawling) that might have affected his teams. Plus: We have enough managers in already, with three more on the way.

The owner: George Steinbrenner

The Boss was on the last Expansion Era ballot and received fewer than eight votes. He was a bully, banned from baseball for paying a gambler to dig up dirt on Dave Winfield, and ran the franchise into the ground in the late ’80s and early ’90s (only to see it revived during his banishment). His team also won six World Series titles (and a seventh after he had given up day-to-day operations to his sons), and there’s no denying he was one of the most famous people in the sport during his reign. No Thanks, I’ll pass, but there’s definitely an argument to put him in.

The union guy: Marvin Miller

Miller and ReggieMiller fell one vote short of election last time around. Since then, he passed away and you almost feel as though the time to honor the man was missed. He’s no doubt one of the most important figures in baseball history; the union leader who helped free the players from the reserve clause and enter the era of free agency. Does that make him a Hall of Famer? Nobody ever paid a penny to watch Marvin Miller in action. But if you can vote in Bowie Kuhn, you should put in Marvin Miller. FYI: There are four executives on the committee (Paul Beeston, Andy MacPhail, Dave Montgomery and Jerry Reinsdorf), so if they all vote against him, the other 12 (which includes six Hall of Fame players) have to vote for him.

The glove: Dave Concepcion

Concepcion received eight votes in 2010, so he is the highest returning player candidate. With a career WAR of 40.0, he doesn’t have a strong statistical argument. There is also another shortstop candidate with obviously better credentials: Alan Trammell, who is still on the BBWAA ballot. Concepcion’s case basically comes down to being part of the Big Red Machine, although he was a nine-time All-Star and won five Gold Gloves. The Reds already have one marginal Hall of Famer in Tony Perez;  We don’t need another.

The strong jaw: Steve Garvey

He was also on the last ballot and received fewer than eight votes. Career WAR of 37.6, only one season above 5.0. His case is that he was regarded as very valuable while active — he won an MVP Award and finished second another year and sixth three other times. It’s kind of a Jim Rice argument. Won’t get in as Keith Hernandez would be a better candidate to discuss at first base.

The guy they named the surgery after: Tommy John

Three pitching lines:

John: 288-231, 3.34 ERA, 111 ERA+, 62.3 WAR
Bert Blyleven: 287-250, 3.31 ERA, 118 ERA+, 96.5 WAR
Jack Morris: 254-186, 3.90 ERA, 105 ERA+, 43.8 WAR

Tommy JohnThree pitchers with similar career win-loss records, but vastly different values by Wins Above Replacement. All three got about 20 percent of the vote their first years on the BBWAA ballot. Blyleven stayed there for a long time until the statistical argument became clear that he deserved Cooperstown; score one for the statheads. Morris has slowly climbed closer to 75 percent and may get in this year; score one for the old schoolers. John never really moved from his initial 22 percent.

By WAR, John is in the gray area; a good candidate but not a strong one. The argument against him is that he pitched forever but was never great. His peak WAR season was 5.6 and he had four years above 5.0. But just four others above 3.0. A lot of 2.4 and 1.5 kinds of seasons. Good No. 3 starter who was durable but rarely an ace. I wouldn’t vote for him, although Blyleven’s election in 2011 may help him.

The Cobra: Dave Parker

Parker PittParker is new to the ballot, with Al Oliver, Rusty Staub, Ron Guidry and Vida Blue getting bumped off. Parker has some interesting career numbers: .290 average, 339 home runs, 1,439 RBIs, more than 2,700 hits. He won an MVP Award in 1978 and deserved it. He had a very high peak from 1975 to 1979, but then wasted several years and wasn’t really contributing much after that despite his high RBI totals.

Is Parker the best outfielder not in the Hall of Fame? Clearly not. Even leaving off all the players still on the BBWAA ballot, there’s another right fielder I would have preferred to see on this ballot: the criminally underrated Dwight Evans.

Evans is sort of the opposite of Parker. Parker had his best years in his 20s; Evans in his 30s. Parker never walked; Evans built a lot of value by walking (708 more career walks). Parker got fat; Evans stayed in tremendous shape. Parker ended up wasting a lot of his ability; Evans got the most out of his.

Evans painting
By career WAR, it’s not close: Parker 40.0, Evans 66.7. Let’s get Dewey on the ballot next time.

The submariner: Dan Quisenberry

His career wasn’t really so different from Bruce Sutter’s, except Sutter had more facial hair and “invented” a pitch. Consider Quisenberry’s run in Cy Young voting: fifth, no votes (1.73 ERA, though), third, second, second, third. He also finished in the top 10 of the MVP voting in four of those seasons. That said … voters of that era dramatically overrated relief pitchers, even though they were pitching a lot more innings than today. But for a six-year run, he was as good as anybody.

The catcher: Ted Simmons

He’s back after receiving fewer than eight votes. One of the better hitting catchers, with a .285 career average (hit above .300 seven times), 248 home runs and 1,389 RBIs. He played second fiddle to Johnny Bench in the National League in the 1970s but, hey, not everybody can be Johnny Bench.

Two of the people on the committee are Paul Molitor, Simmons’ teammate with the Brewers, and Whitey Herzog, who traded Simmons from the Cardinals to the Brewers after the two feuded and Simmons’ defense had started declining. So one could see Molitor arguing for Simmons and Herzog against Simmons.

Either way, it probably doesn’t matter, as Simmons’ chances of getting in are slim.

The results will be announced at the winter meetings in December.

Let’s Revisit: #24, RF, Dwight ‘Dewey’ Evans (Re-Post from 1/5/12)

Well, New Year’s usually signals a few things in the baseball universe.  The Hot Stove Season is reaching its stretch run.  The thought of Spring Trading begins to warm the soul.  And perhaps more controversially, The Hall of Fame announcement is upon us.

Every year, we look to the BBWAA to give us a reason to cheer, p!ss and moan or just grit our teeth and throw up our hands with the whole damn process.  After all, the guys you love don’t get their recognition, the guys you hate seem to ‘slide’ in and guys you just couldn’t care about grab some spotlight.  But we’re used to it.

However, in the last few years, the landscape has changed.  The Steroid Era has shed a new light upon players who for lack of ‘super’ stardom, media attention and just plain ‘average’ consistency were overlooked, passed-up or underappreciated for their efforts.  Players such as Ron Santo (finally, but posthumously) have received their Veterans Committee due, while players like Keith Hernandez, Dwight Evans, Alan Trammell and Tim Raines have been on the outside looking in.  With PED playboys like Big Mac, Sammy Sosa, Palmero and Jeff Bagwell (rightly or not, the shadow covers him) taking up space on the ballot, it let’s periphery guys like Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Lee Smith and Jack Morris get a little more time in the thought process over all.  Unfortunately, Donnie Baseball and Murphy were superstars who produced consistently but for a shorter span of time (unfortunately, the beloved Luis Tiant may fall into this category) .  Smith was a journeyman who, though possessing all the qualities of a big, menacing closer, seems to have been hurt by his many stops around the league and having no definitive ‘superstar moment’.  Jack Morris… well, he’s a borderline a Hall of Famer.  Yes, he won 20 plus games three times and played on World Series winning teams, catching media spotlight fire with the ’91 Twins & ’92 Jays for example, but he wasn’t the cog that ran the gears.        

Then there’s Edgar Martinez.  Easily one of the better hitters of his era (amidst the Steroid Era) who may have more than one glaring mark against him.  First, he played in Seattle (yes, so did Griffey Jr., A-Rod and Randy Johnson… but they left), not a media market or a perennial contender.  Second, and most importantly, he played the majority of his career as a Designated Hitter.  Oh, my error, the Designated Hitter.   A standard set so high, the annual award for best DH in the AL is the Edgar Martinez Award.  But, DH doesn’t count, it’s an imaginary position created by the Wizard of Oz (you know, a designated spot in the batting order to allow aging, over-the-hill superstars who couldn’t field a position some twilight time to earn a paycheck and pad the HOF stats) and doesn’t deserve consideration.  They’re part timers.  A pinch-hitter who gets off the bench four or five times a day.  Who cares if he produces HOF numbers, right?

So, let’s take a look at one of the most under-appreciated members of the Boston Red Sox: Dwight Evans.  (keep in mind these are his totals during his 19 year tenure with the Scarlett Hose.  Dewey finished his career with a one year stint in Baltimore.)

  •     Games played:  2505       Rank: 2nd  (1st: Yaz / 3rd Ted)
  •     Hits: 2373                          Rank: 4th  (3rd: Rice / 5th Boggs)
  •     Average: .272                    Rank: Outside top 10  ( Yaz .285 / Doerr .288)
  •     RBI: 1346                           Rank: 4th  (3rd: Rice / 5th: Doerr)
  •     HR: 379                              Rank: 4th  (3rd: Rice / 5th: Ortiz*)
  •     Runs: 1435                         Rank: 3rd  (2nd: Ted / 5th: Rice)
  •     Base on Balls: 1337          Rank: 3rd  (2nd: Yaz / 4th: Boggs)
  •     OPS:  .842                          Rank: Outside top 10 (Yaz has an .841 / Rice .854)

So, looking at the numbers,  we see obvious questions and answers to the argument.  He is, for the most part, sandwiched between teammates who are enshrined in Cooperstown (Captain Carl, Jim Ed., Boggs) and legendary HOF’ers like Ted and Bobby Doerr.  The second half of his career was statistically more productive than the first and was consistently so until his retirement.  During years when players begin winding down, Dewey was in cruise control and producing at a steady clip.

Was he overshadowed?  An integral member of the 1975 team, he was a lesser star than Yaz, Tiant, Pudge, Lee and The Goldust Twins.  After Lynn and Fisk went West, Tiant let go, Yaz retired and guys like Eck and Lansford come and gone, it was Dewey who came into his own offensively while continuing his defensive excellence.  Again, superstars surrounded him.  Rice, Hurst, Boggs Buckner and Clemens.  Evans simply continued to perform.

During the 1980′s (the latter half of his MLB career which officially began in 1972)  in his playing age years of 28 (1980) through age year 37 (1989):

  •      3 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Hits.
  •      4 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Doubles.
  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in RBI.
  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in HR, leading the league in 1981.
  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in OPS% , leading the league twice.
  •      6 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Runs scored, leading the league in 1984.
  •      7 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Bases on Balls, leading the league three times.

Evans appeared on the AL MVP ballot 5 times (all in the 1980’s) with 4 times placing in the top 10.  Finished 3rd over-all in 1981 behind winner Rollie Fingers and Ricky Henderson.

8 Gold Gloves.  3 All-Star Games.  2 Silver Sluggers.

His lifetime WAR (wins above replacement) is 61.8  (Mind you, this currently ranks 141st ALL TIME in MLB)

Looking at his basic stats or his Sabermetric stats place him in an above average category.  Dwight was included on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot in 1997 (5.9%), 1998 (10.4%) and 1999 (3.6%) before dropping off due to insufficient support under the official rules of balloting (under 5% in a given year or reaching 15th year on ballot).  His election, like that of Ron Santos’, would be a Veterans committee pick.  Currently a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, Dwight’s number 24 (originally 40 as a rookie) is still in circulation.

Spotlight: Ellis Burks

One of my fondest Red Sox memories as a kid is actually of my aunt ‘Dibbie’ as it was she who introduced me to and nurtured me through this vast, complex and often bitter-sweet heartbreak we call Red Sox Nation.  Cold rainy games in the early ’80’s through bright humid matinees in the ’90’s she’d make an effort to take me to Fenway.  Dwight Evans was her favorite player in those days.  She originally grew up a Braves fan, riding the elevated train (when Boston’s T had one) with her dad before his early passing and following the exploits of ‘The Kid’ from Beantown’s ‘other’ team before falling in love, as one does, with the Scarlett Hose.  It was because of Dibbie that when I attended The Ted Williams Baseball Camp in Lakeville for its final summer as a little kid (my mom scored an awesome gig as camp nurse) I actually knew the legend of ‘Number 9’ and could properly worship him when he arrived. (Being the only child of a staff member there, I ate breakfast with Ted every morning of the several days he spent there.)

It was during the late 1980’s heyday of the Oakland Dynasty that I saw her true Red White and Blue Sox.  A warm, sunny afternoon later in the season spent in the leftish-centerfield stands.  Dave Stewart versus ‘The Rocket’.  Rickey Henderson (future Sox) in Center, (former Sox) Dave Henderson in Left, which of course prompted the usual “Hey Dave, you couldn’t remember your name or number without Rickey…” jokes since Dave wore 42 and Rickey 24.  Sox were down, every member of the A’s seemingly having a Hal of Fame Day and each time Dewey came to the plate my aunt cheered, loudly, and as she saw it, appropriately.  Of course, a Bleacher Creature disagreed.  He’s too old, too broken down and just too everything… receiving an “Oh Shuttup…” in response.  This carries on until about the eighth, a couple of men on… Evans steps in.  Dib kicks up her cheering… ‘C’mon Dewey!  Bleacher Creature, a few more beers in him, tries to out sqwak her.  Here’s my sixty something year old aunt, a lifelong manager, volunteer and helper of others whom many always mistook for some form of nun, turning. “When he hits this homer..!”

Crack!  Into the net (No Monstah Seats yet).

And what did this calm, saintly woman do?  Jump up and down, turn and point to this drunken Creature, “Stick that in your ass!”  And as everyone high-fived and congratulated her on her choice of perfectly timed hero, all was right with the world.  the Sox went on to lose, as they usually did when she took me, but Dewey, for a moment anyway saved the world.

Within a few short seasons Dwight had packed for a single season tour in Baltimore and retired.  Sure, there were stars on the Red Sox still, but none that interested her.  Bruce Hurst was gone, Roger Clemens a d!ck and Wade Boggs just wasn’t it for her.  But, Ellis Burks had begun filling some of the void after his arrival following the 1986 season and took over full-time, co-starring with Evans until his departure.  Unfortunately, Burks would only last a few seasons longer for her Sox.

Selected by the Sox in the 1st round (20th pick) of the 1983 Major League Baseball Draft, Burks made his debut in the 1987 season as a regular center fielder at age 22, showing excellent range, a sure glove and a strong arm while becoming the third player in the Red Sox history to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in one season.  The only problem for Burks while with the Red Sox was that he was injury-prone.  He had shoulder surgery in 1989, and it was the first of many setbacks for him as later Burks suffered from bad knees and back spasms.  During the 1990 season he hit two home runs in the same inning of a game, to become the second player in Red Sox history to achieve the feat.  After six fairly good seasons in Boston, and despite his injuries, he ended up leaving as a free agent and signing a one year deal with the Chicago White Sox in January 1993.

Burks surpassed all expectations around him by turning in a solid, injury-free season, filling the Pale Hose urgent need for a quality right fielder.  He was one of the club’s better performers in the playoffs, batting .304.  A free agent at the end of the season, he signed a lucrative five-year contract with the Colorado Rockies.

Ellis enjoyed his best season in 1996 . He led all National League hitters in runs (142), slugging (.639), total bases (392) and extra-base hits (93); was second in hits (211) and 2B’s(45), and fifth in HR’s (40) and RBI (128).  His .344 was also second in the batting title race (behind Tony Gwynn’s .353).  Burks finished third in the NL MVP voting. He also stole 32 bases that season, marking only the second time ever that two players from the same team collected at least 30 home runs and 30 steals, as Colorado outfielder Dante Bichette (future Red Sox)  accomplished the same feat that year.  He was part of the formidable Blake Street Bombers that included the likes of Andres Galarraga, Dante Bichette, Larry Walker, and Vinny Castilla.  This was the heart of the Rockies’ lineup that was second in the National League in home runs by team in 1994 and then led the National League in home runs from 1995 to 1997.  He still remains in the top ten in many offensive categories for the Rockies.

In 2000, having been traded to the San Francisco Giants in mid-season 1998, Burks batted fifth behind Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, compiling significant numbers of .344, 24, 96, in only 122 games and 393 at-bats.  He was signed by the Cleveland Indians in the off-season and in his new role as a DH for the Indians, Burks provided consistent production in the middle-of-the-lineup, hitting .280, 28, 74 in 2001, and .301, 32, 91 in 2002.  He sprained his wrist in spring training of 2003 and kept playing in 55 games until the muscles in his right hand affected his ability to swing the bat. He underwent season-ending surgery to repair nerve damage in his right elbow.

The Indians didn’t pick up their 2004 contract option or offer him salary arbitration, and he returned to the Red Sox in 2004.   Used in limited duty, he retired at the end of that magical season with the 2004 World Series Ring for the team that he began his career with.

A two-time All-Star (1990, 1996) winning two Silver Sluggers (1990, 1996) and a Gold Glove (1990) in an 18-year career, Burks was a .291 hitter with 352 home runs, 1206 RBI, 1253 runs, 2107 hits, 402 doubles, 63 triples, and 181 stolen bases in 2000 games.

Needless to say, that was just icing on the already incredible cake for Dib.

#6, 1B, Steve Garvey

Well, having taken a look at the career of Dwight Evans, a player whom I believe should be ‘on the bubble’ for Hall of Fame consideration but fell off the ballot, I decided to look at for a few others.  But not just Red Sox.  Sure, Evans may be a slightly biased pick on my part, but the numbers back it up.  How about a player who, somehow, spanned the limit of his 15 years ballot eligibility before finally being removed.  ‘Mr. Clean’ Steve Garvey.

Garvey played his entire 19 year career in the National League West for two teams; the Los Angeles Dodgers (1969–82) and the San Diego Padres (1983–87).

  •     Games played: 2’332
  •     Hits: 2’599
  •     Average: .294
  •     RBI: 1’308
  •     HR: 272
  •     Runs: 1’143
  •     Base on Balls: 479
  •     OPS: .775

Steve was part of the most enduring infield in baseball history,  alongside third baseman Ron Cey, shortstop Bill Russell and second baseman Davey Lopes, the four infielders stayed together as the Dodgers’ starters for eight and a half years.  He set a National League record with 1207 consecutive games played, from September 3, 1975, to July 29, 1983.  Ironically, Garvey tied the record in his first appearance back at Dodger Stadium in Padre gold.  It is the fourth-longest such streak in Major League Baseball history.

In 1981, at a point in his career when it looked like he would one day rank among the game’s all-time greats, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.

In December 1982 Garvey signed with the Padres for $6.6 million over five years in what some felt was a “masterstroke” to General Manager Jack McKeon’s effort to rebuild the team.  Though San Diego had vastly outbid the Dodgers, McKeon particularly noted Garvey’s value in providing a role model for younger players.  Additionally, Garvey’s “box office appeal” helped San Diego increase its season ticket sales by 6,000 seats in Garvey’s first year.  Sports Illustrated ranked the signing as the fifteenth best free agent signing ever as of 2008.  Led by Garvey, winning his second National League Championship Series MVP award, the Padres won their first National League pennant over the Chicago Cubs in 1984.

  •      2 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Runs Scored.
  •      3 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in HR’s.
  •      6 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Batting Average.
  •      7 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Doubles.
  •      7 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Runs Batted In.
  •      10 times finished in the top 10 in the NL in Hits, leading the League twice.

Garvey appeared on the NL MVP ballot 9 times with 5 times placing in the top 10.  Beating out Lou Brock to win in 1974, he finished 2nd over-all in 1978 behind winner Dave Parker.

10 All-Star Games including 2 MVP Awards.  4 Gold Gloves.  2 National League Championship Series MVP Awards.   The 1974  National League Most Valuable Player Award.  1981 World Series Champion. The 1981 Roberto Clemente Award.

His uniform Number 6 has been retired by the San Diego Padres.

For all his numbers, awards and credentials, Garvey may be yet another player who has been denied entrance to the hall for the personal choices he’s made.  But while the ever-widening HOF issue of PED’s and the choices of players like Big Mac, Palmiero, Bonds, Clemens, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez are complicated because the consequences of their actions directly impacted their performance on the field and constituted cheating, Garvey’s personal choices effected only himself and thusly dismantled his family life and reputation at the end of his career.

Longtime Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda once commented on ‘Mr. Clean’, “If he ever came to date my daughter, I’d lock the door and not let him out.”  He may have meant it in another way.  In the mid to late 1980s, Garvey, in the midst of what he later termed a “midlife disaster,”  engaged in a series of simultaneous romantic relationships and fathering of children with multiple women that led to him being the subject of national ridicule which most likely diminished his credibility in the eyes of the world’s most perfect voters, the BBWAA.  After all, players who were of less than honorable reputation off the field would never be allowed into the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.  Suspected murderers, members of the KKK, legendary carousers, alcoholics or adulterers would never get the prized bronze plaque… right Ty Cobb?  Too extreme?  Okay, we’ll ask Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle or Wade Boggs.

So is his omission from the Hall a punishment for his moral weakness or sarcastic revenge for his ‘Mr. Clean’ image being heartily tarnished?  Which ever it may be, the Veteran’s Committee, to date, has apparently agreed.

Fact or Fiction…. ?

Many an MLB analyst, ‘insider’ and blogger have touched upon the subject of Kevin Youkilis and the possibility of his being traded during the 2012 calendar year.

It’s not that Youk has outlived his welcome, been branded a loss or some clubhouse miscreant.  It’s because he’s a valuable commodity.  That and both Will Middlebrooks and Jose Iglesias could be making regular appearances on the big-club by September, should their minor league seasoning go as planned.

Youk is only going to be traded to a team that needs him.  The Sox aren’t waving the flag for a 33-year-old 3B who finished the last two seasons with injuries around the league.  The interested team will have a specific need for an established veteran 1B/DH platoon (not necessarily a 3B) who gobbles up at at-bats like Skittles… a need so great that they’ll part with a young MLB ready starter.  Period.

There are clubs out there… they’re all the one’s whose faces are turning blue waiting for Prince Fielder to make a decision.  Think of Youk bitch-slapping Bryce Harper in Washington as a calming influence on a young team.  Picture Youk in Texas filling the 1B/DH spot behind Hamilton, Beltre or Napoli in the line-up.  Ooh, maybe he’ll give Ryan Braun the fish eye, you know.. after the 50 game suspension is over, for the Brew Crew. Or maybe even a package deal to Seattle for King Felix.  And then there are teams who just need to bolster their line-up in front of or behind a veteran bomber.  Think of him (gasp!) setting the table for King Albert in LA as a 3B/1B/DH platoon.

I don’t want to see him go, but the business side of the game beckons and the truth may be obvious… Youkillis won’t be as productive a 3B for the long haul as he would a 1B or DH.  He plays too hard, too heartily and too old-fashioned,  the way he should,  to not breakdown over the span of the season.  I love Youk.  He reminds me of Bill Mueller, Mike Stanley or Dwight Evans… guys who go between the foul lines, play their heart out and don’t ask for or expect the attention for their fairly quiet, continuous production.  Dustin Pedroia is made in the same mold.   The other ‘one-five’ echoed this style as well, but Millar’s personality and media savvy attitude served as a shield for his teammates and allowed them to just be themselves on the grandest stages.  Youk can easily pick up the 1B/DH platoon with Adrain Gonzalez… once Big Papi has retired.

Obviously, this war or worried words will be continuing well into the season.  A tell-tale sign will come as soon as the ink dries on Prince Fielder’s contract.  The vultures will then turn eyes to guys like Casey Kotchman and Carlos Pena while the serious contender watches Youk’s spring training sessions and Grapefruit League games.  I’d expect the beginning of March and then the beginning of July to be a real scale of the honest interest in his services.  Youkilis’ return from injury combined with Lars Anderson returning to form could obviously dicate how the Sox approach their future trades.

#24, RF, Dwight ‘Dewey’ Evans

Well, New Year’s usually signals a few things in the baseball universe.  The Hot Stove Season is reaching its stretch run.  The thought of Spring Trading begins to warm the soul.  And perhaps more controversially, The Hall of Fame announcement is upon us.

Every year, we look to the BBWAA to give us a reason to cheer, p!ss and moan or just grit our teeth and throw up our hands with the whole damn process.  After all, the guys you love don’t get their recognition, the guys you hate seem to ‘slide’ in and guys you just couldn’t care about grab some spotlight.  But we’re used to it.

However, in the last few years, the landscape has changed.  The Steroid Era has shed a new light upon players who for lack of ‘super’ stardom, media attention and just plain ‘average’ consistency were overlooked, passed-up or underappreciated for their efforts.  Players such as Ron Santo (finally, but posthumously) have received their Veterans Committee due, while players like Keith Hernandez, Dwight Evans, Alan Trammell and Tim Raines have been on the outside looking in.  With PED playboys like Big Mac, Sammy Sosa, Palmero and Jeff Bagwell (rightly or not, the shadow covers him) taking up space on the ballot, it let’s periphery guys like Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Lee Smith and Jack Morris get a little more time in the thought process over all.  Unfortunately, Donnie Baseball and Murphy were superstars who produced consistently but for a shorter span of time (unfortunately, the beloved Luis Tiant may fall into this category) .  Smith was a journeyman who, though possessing all the qualities of a big, menacing closer, seems to have been hurt by his many stops around the league and having no definitive ‘superstar moment’.  Jack Morris… well, he’s a borderline a Hall of Famer.  Yes, he won 20 plus games three times and played on World Series winning teams, catching media spotlight fire with the ’91 Twins & ’92 Jays for example, but he wasn’t the cog that ran the gears.        

Then there’s Edgar Martinez.  Easily one of the better hitters of his era (amidst the Steroid Era) who may have more than one glaring mark against him.  First, he played in Seattle (yes, so did Griffey Jr., A-Rod and Randy Johnson… but they left), not a media market or a perennial contender.  Second, and most importantly, he played the majority of his career as a Designated Hitter.  Oh, my error, the Designated Hitter.   A standard set so high, the annual award for best DH in the AL is the Edgar Martinez Award.  But, DH doesn’t count, it’s an imaginary position created by the Wizard of Oz (you know, a designated spot in the batting order to allow aging, over-the-hill superstars who couldn’t field a position some twilight time to earn a paycheck and pad the HOF stats) and doesn’t deserve consideration.  They’re part timers.  A pinch-hitter who gets off the bench four or five times a day.  Who cares if he produces HOF numbers, right?

So, let’s take a look at one of the most under-appreciated members of the Boston Red Sox: Dwight Evans.  (keep in mind these are his totals during his 19 year tenure with the Scarlett Hose.  Dewey finished his career with a one year stint in Baltimore.)

  •     Games played:  2505       Rank: 2nd  (1st: Yaz / 3rd Ted)
  •     Hits: 2373                          Rank: 4th  (3rd: Rice / 5th Boggs)
  •     Average: .272                    Rank: Outside top 10  ( Yaz .285 / Doerr .288)
  •     RBI: 1346                           Rank: 4th  (3rd: Rice / 5th: Doerr)
  •     HR: 379                              Rank: 4th  (3rd: Rice / 5th: Ortiz*)
  •     Runs: 1435                         Rank: 3rd  (2nd: Ted / 5th: Rice)
  •     Base on Balls: 1337          Rank: 3rd  (2nd: Yaz / 4th: Boggs)
  •     OPS:  .842                          Rank: Outside top 10 (Yaz has an .841 / Rice .854)

So, looking at the numbers,  we see obvious questions and answers to the argument.  He is, for the most part, sandwiched between teammates who are enshrined in Cooperstown (Captain Carl, Jim Ed., Boggs) and legendary HOF’ers like Ted and Bobby Doerr.  The second half of his career was statistically more productive than the first and was consistently so until his retirement.  During years when players begin winding down, Dewey was in cruise control and producing at a steady clip.

Was he overshadowed?  An integral member of the 1975 team, he was a lesser star than Yaz, Tiant, Pudge, Lee and The Goldust Twins.  After Lynn and Fisk went West, Tiant let go, Yaz retired and guys like Eck and Lansford come and gone, it was Dewey who came into his own offensively while continuing his defensive excellence.  Again, superstars surrounded him.  Rice, Hurst, Boggs Buckner and Clemens.  Evans simply continued to perform.

During the 1980′s (the latter half of his MLB career which officially began in 1972)  in his playing age years of 28 (1980) through age year 37 (1989):

  •      3 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Hits.
  •      4 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Doubles.
  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in RBI.
  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in HR, leading the league in 1981.
  •      5 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in OPS% , leading the league twice.
  •      6 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Runs scored, leading the league in 1984.
  •      7 times finished in the top 10 in the AL in Bases on Balls, leading the league three times.

Evans appeared on the AL MVP ballot 5 times (all in the 1980’s) with 4 times placing in the top 10.  Finished 3rd over-all in 1981 behind winner Rollie Fingers and Ricky Henderson.

8 Gold Gloves.  3 All-Star Games.  2 Silver Sluggers.

His lifetime WAR (wins above replacement) is 61.8  (Mind you, this currently ranks 141st ALL TIME in MLB)

Looking at his basic stats or his Sabermetric stats place him in an above average category.  Dwight was included on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot in 1997 (5.9%), 1998 (10.4%) and 1999 (3.6%) before dropping off due to insufficient support under the official rules of balloting (under 5% in a given year or reaching 15th year on ballot).  His election, like that of Ron Santos’, would be a Veterans committee pick.  Currently a member of the Red Sox Hall of Fame, Dwight’s number 24 (originally 40 as a rookie) is still in circulation.