Posts Tagged ‘Montreal expos’

Any Player/Any Era: Larry Walker for Baseball Past & Present

Any Player/Any Era: Larry Walker for Baseball Past & Present: http://baseballpastandpresent.com/2012/05/03/playerany-era-larry-walker/. A look at how Walker would have fared on the late 1930s St. Louis Cardinals, away from Coors Field and the steroid era.

Check You out on the Flip Side: Delino DeShields

Anyone who reads the back of this card and doesn’t think of Top Gun or Independence Day is simply an unAmerican.

What I didn’t realize is that DeShields was Kenny Lofton before Lofton was. DeShields had a full ride to run point for Villanova before being the 12th overall pick in the 1987 MLB draft by the Montreal Expos. And, of course, there was that little tidbit of him Spud Webbing a dunk contest in a battle across sports (I assume this was a Rock n Jock, but can’t find the video).

He made quick work of the minors, posting great OBPs and made his debut in 1990 at 21. He hit .289/.375/.393 in 129 games.

Unfortunately, a lot of that average was BABIP driven as he hit .349 on balls in play that year. He came back to earth in 1991, hitting .238/.347/.332 and would lead the league with 151 Ks. In addition, his .9623 fielding percentage that year was the seventh worst by a second baseman in a season since 1946. But he got on base and ran, accumulating 56 SBs. You combine his steals with Marquis Grissom (who had 76 swipes) and you get the 11th most prolific stolen base combo in MLB history.

His average bounced back in a major way in 1992, as he hit .292/.359/.398 with 46 steals. Again, if you pair him and Grissom (78 steals) you get a bad ass burglar combo – the 16th best duo in history. After four years with the Expos, he had a .277/.367/.373 line and 187 SBs.

The Dodgers, evidently thinking he was the next Lou Whittaker, traded a promising young pitcher by the name of Pedro Martinez for his services. That didn’t work out so well. DeShields struggled in LA, going .241/.326/.327 in three years.

After leaving the Dodgers in free agency, he played well for the Cardinals for two years, and then signed with the Baltimore Orioles. His first two seasons with the Orioles went well, but his third was horrid. He hit .197/.312/.309 and made the last out in Hideo Nomo’s no-hitter. The Orioles released him and the Cubs scooped him up. He played better for the Cubs and combined went 23/25 in SBs that year, tied for the 28th best stolen base percentage in a season in MLB history (min. 20 SBs).

Speed was clearly DeShields calling card from a positive standpoint. He ended his career with the 45th most SBs in MLB history: two ahead of Bobby Bonds and two behind Eric Young, Sr.

Of course, striking out and poor fielding would be DeShields calling card from a negative standpoint. He finished with 1,061 Ks, the 29th most in MLB history by a lefty (two behind Any Van Slyke, another erstwhile Oriole). The 151 Ks in ’91 were the 29th most in a season by a lefty (tied with fellow Flip Sider Ray Lankford). Hey, hopefully he can appreciate symmetry.

[Complete non-sequitur] For some reason I can’t divorce him from José Offerman in my head…and what do you know, Offerman is #1 on his similarity score.

Still, DeShields was a fun Luis Castillo-like player. He also put in work after his playing career, co-founding the Urban Baseball League and raising some athletes. You know about his son, but his eldest daughter appears to be the next preeminent female dunker.

In his work with the Urban League, he travels with fellow Flip Sider Oil Can Boyd as part of the Oil Can Boyd Urban All Stars.

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Greg Minton

Here is where my “city boy” roots come out. I hate horses. They scare the beejesus out of me. My tiny girlfriend (who grew up in the country owning horses) thinks it’s hilarious that I wont go near a horse (and don’t get me started on donkeys).

I imagine riding a horse hurts. Occasionally, at the dog park, an eager young pup will jump on me as I stand there. Occasionally a paw will strike a testicle. That really hurts. Why would I want to pogo up and down on my testes while traipsing through nature on the back of a horse? I’ll use my own legs thank you very much.

Sure horses are beautiful, but god invented glasses so I can see a horse from a few feet away, ideally with some sort of fence between us.

So what is there to like about a horse that I can’t enjoy from afar? They snort (scary), they kick (scary), they neigh (or whatever it’s called when they get up on their hind legs) (also scary), and they fill in the blank: “Wild ___.” Unless it’s 80s “mental,” I don’t like anything wild. Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Tim ‘Rock’ Raines

The back of the Triple Play card tells you all you need to know about the way Tim Raines was viewed during one of the greatest careers in baseball. He was basically a base stealer – and he did lead the league for four consecutive years and average 60 a season from 1981-

1992 (yeah 12 seasons).

However, during that stretch he also walked, on average, 78 times a season en route to a .387 OBP. In 10 of his 23 seasons, Raines had an OBP .390 or higher. Heck from 1983-1987, his on base percentage was .406. That’s unbelievable. That’s Ted Williams territory.

Sure, he didn’t hit a lot of home runs or accumulate a ton of RBIs and only posted a paltry .294 career batting average along with 808 SBs – so yeah he was an earlier version of Juan Pierre. Continue reading

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Tom Foley

tom foley backtom foley frontAt first glance, there isn’t anything odd about this card, right? Well Foley was a left-handed high school quarterback, yet he played infield – and we aren’t talking about first base. Most infielders throw right handed – almost all, like 99.9%. So, somehow, Foley could throw a football with his left hand and a baseball with his right. I find this incredibly odd.

He wasn’t all that bad either. According to Fangraphs, he was 15 fielding runs above a replacement player for his career. However, most of that comes from a +9 in 1994 when he appeared in just 59 games, so the numbers might not 100% explain his defensive capabilities. Still, it appears Foley was no slouch. Certainly he passed the eye test of major league managers (for what that’s worth), as he played for 13 seasons: 463 games at shortstop, 385 at second and 90 at third.

Foley had a pretty long utility infield career, think of a light hitting Mike Gallego. He’d peak when he got to Montreal when this card was printed. He was traded from the Phillies to the Expos in a deal that brought fellow Flip Sider Dan Schatzeder to Philadelphia. From 1987-1989 (his age 27-29 seasons), Foley would post a .260/.318/.381 line and average 118 games.

As peaks go, it was a pretty lonesome valley, but he did put together 3.5 wins above a replacement player during that time. He’d finish with just 3.7 in his career. Still, he logged 1,108 games largely due to his versatility – a versatility that goes beyond your typical utility infielder as Foley was a left-handed football thrower – a definite rarity.

Oh and he even pitched a game. It was in 1989, he got the last out for Montreal in a May 1 contest against Cincinnati. He pitched 0.1 inninngs, gave up one HR and collected one out as the Expos would lose 16-9. Chris Sabo collected four hits and two Ks in that game and a young Paul O’Neil went 3-5 with one HR and five RBIs.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Larry Walker

Larry walker backwalker front













Shooter McGavin: Just stay out of my way… or you’ll pay! LISTEN to what I say!

Happy Gilmore: Hey, why don’t I just go eat some hay, make things out of clay, lay by the bay? I just may! What’d ya say?

I mean seriously? Walker’s parents must have been pretty Brady Bunch quirky to name their children Larry, Gary, Cary and Barry. Larry I get — it was a big deal back in the day for the first born son to take his fathers name (heck I’m a third). And it’s merely coincidence that Larry married Marry — but seriously, how obnoxious do you have to be to rhyme all your kids’ names? Could you imagine introducing them at a party or school function? Blech.

While naming your kids ridiculous things (Apple?) is all fun and games, Walker’s career was seriously awesome.

No season would be more serious than his 1997 campaign: .366/.452/.720 with 49 HRs, 33 SBs and only eight caught stealings. Certainly, combined, it was a fine year, but his highest batting average (.379) and OBP (.459) would come in 1999. In fact, from 1997-2001, he would bat over .350 four times and over .360 three times.

Think I’m cherry picking some years to make him sound more phenomenal than he was?

Well, Walker has the 38th best average (.313) by a left-handed batter in major league history — tied with two others. He has the 46th highest OBP in MLB history – a sublime .400 – just .001 behind Ricky Henderson – but ahead of Joe DiMaggio, Cap Anson and many others. Walker is also tied for 15th all time with a .565 slugging percentage — ahead of Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Jr., Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Mike Piazza, Frank Robinson and many others. Combine those two stats and you get the 17th highest OBP + SLG, which equals OPS, at .965. That number is higher than Alex Rodriguez, Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Gary, Cary, Barry and on and on.

During his career, four times he would bat .300 with 30 HRs and 100 RBIs — that is tied for the 24th most seasons of all time. Walker is also one of just 24 players to bat over .300 and hit over 300 HRs in his career. Of all the left-handed batters in all the world that ever played baseball, Walker recorded the 16th and 17th highest slugging percentages in a season. The only immortals he trails: Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams. Not surprisingly he posted two of the top 21 highest OPS seasons by a left-handed batter – trailing only seasons by Bonds, Ruth, Williams and Gehrig.

Finally, he is tied with Carlton Fisk for 69th in wins above replacement (WAR) — ahead of the likes of Eddie Murray, Pee Wee Reese, Craig Biggio, Willie McCovey, Ernie Banks, Gary Sheffield and Mark McGwire.

Of course, it’s hard to parse out the Coors effect and how that improved his numbers. But, if you remember, from ages 22 – 27, he played for Montreal and would accumulate a pretty decent line: .281/.357/.483. Sure it was super helpful to have played in Coors during his relative prime, but kudos to him for taking absolute full advantage of it. Ultimately, his career compares favorably to Vlad Guerrero, Duke Snider, DiMaggio and Ellis Burks. And, clearly, you could argue that he had one of the most devastating bats from the left-side in MLB history.

Quite simply, it’s amazing to me how many Hall of Famers his career is similar or better than. He is up for the first time for enshrinement this coming year along with first-timers Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro, Kevin Brown and Juan Gonzalez. I’m betting he doesn’t get in, but I wouldn’t be surprised or upset if he and Bagwell (and perhaps Kevin Brown) enter Cooperstown.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Tim Burke

Tim Burke backTim BurkeHopefully you, my dear reader, also experience much enjoyment from reading. Otherwise, what the heck are you doing here!?!?

But in all lack of seriousness, the phrasing on this card just cracks me up.

Why not say Tim enjoys reading or Tim likes to read – not Tim experiences much enjoyment from reading.

Furthermore, what kind of literature does Tim experience the most enjoyment from? Is it adult novels? Travel guides? Sports Illustrated?

What else did Tim derive much enjoyment from? Well his bullpen-mates not allowing the runners he put on base to score. Tim might go down as benefiting from one of the best career strand rates in baseball history. For his career, he had a 77.1 left on base percentage. In four of his first five seasons, that rate was over 80%. Typically strand rates range from 70 – 72 percent.

That is how someone who finished his career with a 2.72 ERA could have a 3.46 FIP.

This is why baseball fans need to derive much enjoyment from reading nowadays. To the untrained observer, Burke, with a 2.72 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, would seem to be a pretty good pitcher; when, in reality, he was an above average pitcher who had a little help along the way. Still, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Hey, he did pitch the ninth most games (78) by a rookie (tied with Brad Lidge, Ricky Stone, and Ed Vande Berg).

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.