Every other month it feels like there is a brand new superhero movie that comes out and everybody goes to see it. However, it is not always the superhero that the people pay to see. I am one of the millions of people who truly loves a good villain. But I only like the bad guys in the movies, the villains currently in baseball right now are real, truly heinous, and bringing down America’s favorite pastime at an alarming rate. That being said, I give you my top 5 villains in baseball today:
5. Angel Hernandez, MLB Umpire – Now I know many of you may think C.B. Bucknor is worse, but he is simply just a terrible umpire. Hernandez is not only a lousy ump, but carries himself in the most villainous manner possible. The man once threw Chicago Bears great Steve McMichael out of a Cubs game because he commented on a bad call Hernandez made before singing the 7th inning stretch! When a player or coach goes out to argue with him after he has made yet another awful call, just look at his face and body language. It will make you even angrier than the call did. For more evidence regarding his villainous ways, just look him up its pretty entertaining and pathetic at the same time.
4. A.J. Pierzynski, Rangers – 29 MLB teams and their fans hate him each and every season. The only team that doesn’t hate him is the one he plays for. However that was not the case during his one season with the Giants. While in San Francisco during an exhibition game, he kneed a trainer where the sun doesn’t shine solely because the man asked how it felt after Pierzynski took a shot there himself. And how can we forget when former Cubs’ catcher Michael Barrett punched him for slapping the plate after scoring at home? While not a cheater like others to come on this list, he is still a grade-A jerk.
3. Ryan Braun, Brewers – The 2011 NL MVP probably deserves to be higher but he is more of a cowardly villain so he will stay here. Braun first garnered national intention in a negative way when he failed a drug test in December 2011, just weeks after winning MVP. This led to a 50 game suspension which he appealed and won due to a potential technicality. Then earlier this summer, he was found to be heavily in the Biogenesis scandal and received a 65 game suspension until the end of the 2013 season. He then finally admitted to using PED’s after lying to everyone for almost two years. Then just a week ago he made the most cowardly, worthless apology I have ever heard. It took him over a month to even make the apology! For these actions, he is quite the villain.
2. Bud Selig, MLB Commissioner – Yes, this man has done some good for baseball, but the bad outweighs the good by a landslide. Since becoming full-time commissioner since 1998, Selig has shown great bias towards the Milwaukee Brewers throughout the years, declared the 2002 MLB All Star Game a tie, and worst of all, been around throughout the entire Steroid Era. He has contradicted himself many times throughout the years regarding his knowledge of players taking steroids, and even if he somehow didn’t know this was going on he was way too slow in making the changes to stop PED usage. Regardless, his actions and lack of them in some instances during his time as MLB commissioner have allowed baseball to be tarnished in a way that the sport may never recover from. When a business starts to struggle, you always look at management from the top down, which is why Selig earns his place here. Thankfully, he will be retiring at the end of the 2014 season.
1. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees – Who else could you possibly put here? He is the most cancerous presence baseball has probably ever seen.The man has not only been caught cheating in baseball, but also on his former wife as well! Also known as “A-Fraud” and “A-Roid” he first admitted to taking steroids back in 2007 in reference to the years of 2001-2003, and then just earlier this summer he is suspended again for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. There is a reason he was handed suspension for a record 211 games and in my opinion, its not long enough. If the man above Rodriguez on this list has any interest in redeeming himself in some way, give A-Rod the dreaded and deserved lifetime ban.
A few months ago we graced you with the arguments for and against baseball’s designated hitter. In case you missed it, here is the link so you can go check it out; http://baseballs28thout.mlblogs.com/2013/04/23/the-case-for-and-against-the-designated-hitter/.
As you know, we took a poll of what our readers think should happen to the DH. We had about 500 votes total. To our surprise the vast majority of you hate the idea of a DH. Almost 60% of the voters want to completely get rid of the DH. Pretty remarkable really. 32% of you think it should stay the way it is right now. While only 8% think both leagues should use the DH. Needless to say we were a little surprised by the results.
While we’re surprised at the results we happen to agree. You see the DH, while entertaining and good for younger kids, doesn’t belong in baseball. We, like Marge Schott, think if a player is paid to play baseball, they should be able to hit and catch. Now, we understand the arguments for why the DH is a good idea, but we’re going to go point by point explaining why it’s not as good of an idea as many think.
First, in regards to already having a slugger on the bench that could easily fill the role of DH. That’s not necessarily true for all teams. While a lot of teams have good players on their bench there aren’t many true designated hitters like David Ortiz out there because there are only 15 possible jobs for a DH. So yes there are good hitters on teams’ benches, they are nothing compared to the likes of an Ortiz so the big DH numbers are not going to be there.
Next, the argument that we teach kids using a DH. Well we also lower the pitcher’s mound, shorten the bases, make railroading an immediate out, allow unlimited substitutions, the list goes on and on, and is even crazier in some leagues, such as Little League. Kids learn from experience, the whole reason the “DH” is used at younger ages is to get more players more at-bats. In most cases it isn’t even a DH, rather an extra hitter so there are 10 batters in the lineup.
Next, pitchers are an easy out and look awful at the plate. Don’t tell that to guys like Mike Leake, Travis Wood, or Carlos Zambrano. Now, I know the majority of pitchers are not good hitters, I get that, but most pitchers are better at bunting than most position players with the exception of speed demons like Juan Pierre. Now is that an excuse to let them bat, no, it’s embarrassing watching a pitcher look lost at the plate, but if they play in the field, they should have to bat.
Baseball has better ratings during slugfests than pitching duels. Sure, most fans would rather see a knock down drag out slugfest, but the fact of the matter is one player is not going to turn every game into a offensive showdown. There are as many pitcher’s duels in the American League as there are in the National League. In fact, for the last 15 years in a row the National League, as a whole, has scored more runs than the American League.
It ruins the appeal of inter league play. Couple things here: first most people want to abolish inter league play so hard to use that in an argument, and teams play an equal amount of home and away inter league games so each league sees what they aren’t used to whether it’s using a DH or having the pitcher bat. How this ruins inter league play I’m not sure, but it’s an argument I’ve heard over and over again without anyone really backing it up.
Good hitting pitcher’s win more games because of their pitching skills rather than their hitting skills. Well that’s exactly right. Nine times out of ten one player isn’t going to win a game for the team at the plate. So when you send a guy out there once every five days, then take him out after a certain amount of inning his odds of winning a game at the plate suddenly become astronomical.
Expand the active roster to 26 to make room for the DH. This now adds extra payroll and not a guy at or near the league minimum either. DH’s garner a hefty salary, whether deserving or not. Adding a 26 player to the active roster would further expand the market size disparity of the MLB.
Finally, Bill James’ argument that the DH doesn’t decrease strategy. Extremely hard to dispute this partly because it’s Bill James and partly because he makes a good point. However, it doesn’t increase strategy either, so, unless there is a really good reason to add the DH, there really is no point from a managerial standpoint.
We know there are going to be some of you who hate everything we just said, and that’s fine. That’s what makes this sport so great. The fact that we can debate the effectiveness of the DH and what to do with DH is just one of many things with which fans need to be more involved. I know a lot of fans don’t think their voice matters in baseball, but look at the steroid issue. Fans go crazy about steroids, Major League Baseball responds, if fans want something done about the DH, make your voice known. Use good, quality arguments, but understand where those on the other side of the fence get their arguments. For now, and for the near future, it’s pretty safe to assume the DH will stay the way it is, but then again, you just never know.
As if steroids alone weren’t enough of a giant black eye for Major League Baseball now it seems that people want to go around accusing everybody and their mother of using PEDs. Whether it’s angry fans calling for Major League Baseball to test Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera over and over again or “sports reporters” making claims against superstars just to get their name out. It’s just flat ridiculous. With the ever growing list of players who have used PEDs, anytime a player’s name is even mentioned in the same sentence as the word steroids it immediately causing a giant uproar in the baseball community. Let’s just take a look at a couple of the recent claims against some of baseball’s best.
Sports talk radio, the worst sports media outlet of them all and Jack Clark, yes the former big leaguer, has shown us why. One week into his new radio show Jack Clark decided to make a splash. Unfortunately for Mr. Clark, his splash washed him right out of the radio booth. Clark accused none other than Albert Pujols and Justin Verlander of using PEDs. Why? Ratings, ignorance, adding to the PED witch hunt, take your pick really. Regarding Verlander, Clark said the reason why Verlander was having a down year is because he isn’t taking PEDs anymore. Pretty bold statement. Verlander brushed off the comments by calling them completely false and moronic. We’re going to have to agree with Verlander on this one because a 3.68 era, twelve wins, and being named an All Star doesn’t really constitute a down year. Now for Pujols. Clark was pretty bold with his comments about Pujols as well. Pretty much just straight accused him of using PEDs throughout his career. Well, again, we’re going to disagree with Clark. Pujols has been a phenom since joining the league in 2001, has always been well built, and has dealt with his share of injuries. Unlike Verlander, Pujols took Clark’s comments a little harder. Pujols is going to sue Jack Clark for the comments made. So Clark loses his job, credibility, and what will probably be a butt-load of money because of an ignorant comment falsely accusing two of baseball’s most classy, highly thought of players, of using PEDs.
If you ask any baseball fan “Which player has had the smoothest swing throughout the history of the game?” there is little doubt that Ken Griffey Jr. would be one of the first players mentioned. The Kid could swing the stick better than almost any player in the game. Unfortunately for Griffey, towards the end of his career he became one of the most injury prone players in the Majors. So why are we bringing him up? Wouldn’t he have been healthier if he was using PEDs? Well Mr. Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Daily News doesn’t seem to think so. Over a twitter conversation, Mr. Hayes pretty blatantly accused The Kid of using steroids. Pretty ridiculous right? We think so. So what did Mr. Hayes use as his evidence? The fact that most of Griffey’s injuries were soft tissue injuries. Yupp, we’re not joking. In case you don’t know, most players who are accused of using steroids are ones who seem to stay perpetually healthy and never seem to see a drop in numbers. Just like Ken Griffey right? Oh wait, what’s that? Griffey battled injuries and saw a significant drop in production in his later years? Then why did Hayes accuse him of using PEDs? Well, aside from calling him an incompetent reporter who used Twitter to voice his opinion, our best guess is just because he can.
You see, that’s the thing about steroids these days, it doesn’t matter if you have legitimate evidence, nobody cares. It’s a witch hunt. People are so caught up in the steroid era that it doesn’t matter if there is hard evidence, they just want to find a player, any player, even Ken Griffey Jr, Albert Pujols, and Justin Verlander to take down with the rest of the PED users. It’s a shame, the only thing worse than being accused of using steroids is being wrongly accused of steroids. These players names’ are now going to carry with them the distinction of being accused of using steroids, whether true or not. Hopefully, fans, writers, and the rest of the baseball community realize that this cases were instances of incompetence by lack luster sports reporters.
It’s no secret that Yasiel Puig is this years darling of the MLB. From ESPN to MLB Network, every media outlet is all over the early success Mr. Puig. We are not doubting the skill and talent of Yasiel Puig, we just don’t think that a player who has played roughly half of the first half of the season should deserve to play in a game celebrating the best players of the first half. If you look back to a post we did earlier this year on sample size you will see that it takes at least 500 ABs before we can see a trend in 3 statistics categories that everyone seems to love; OPS, SLG, and OBP. Yasiel Puig has 152 ABs as of 7/12/2013, the last day of the Vote-In contest.
Last year Bryan LaHair made the All-Star game because he got hot at the right time; right before the All-Star Break. Guess what Puig is doing, he’s hot right before the All-Star Break. Now when Bryan LaHair was voted into the All-Star Game there were a few baseball junkies who didn’t really see why, but the Cubs needed representatives and quite honestly you take what you get when it comes to Cubs All-Stars. However, this off-season LaHair was released by the Cubs and is now playing in Asia. Yes, you read that right, “released by the Cubs”, the same team that stuck with Carlos Marmol for all these years. When the news broke of LaHair’s signing with an Asian team, more and more people questioned why LaHair made the All-Star team, especially since his second half numbers were so bad that we went from All-Star to bench warmer in a few weeks. Fans quickly started to doubt the credibility of the All-Star game because a player who was released by one of the worst teams in baseball and was a bench warmer after the Mid-Summer Classic was somehow voted into a game celebrating baseball’s best.
If players like LaHair and Puig can make the All-Star game because of a hot streak before the All-Star Break then what is stopping a player like Juan Castro or Adam Rosales from making the All-Star game? All they would have to do is get hot at the right time, right? Let’s put them in the All-Star game if that’s all it takes. So why won’t the MLB do just that? Well Juan Castro and Adam Rosales, aren’t All-Stars, fine players, but definitely not All-Star material. They’ve both had stretches of games where they could do no wrong, but they aren’t proven, consistent MLB players, and that is what the All-Star game is all about. Players who are established in the league as good, consistent players, who have played to above and beyond the average MLB player for the first half of the season. If Major League Baseball just put in players who got hot at the right time the All-Star Game would lose all credibility and the All-Star Game would become the “Who The Hell Are These Guys Game”.
So why should Yasiel Puig be an All-Star? Isn’t it possible that this is just a fluke start like we see from so many highly touted prospects that quickly fade into backups? Just about every Major League player goes through streaks of 30 or so games where they can do no wrong, does that make them All-Stars? Hell no it doesn’t, and Yasiel Puig, until he proves himself as a consistent All-Star caliber player, is not an All-Star.
Teams are coming up on the 30 game mark in the season and, typically, this is when players start to show numbers that reflect how the first half of their season is going to go. So we’re going to do a follow up of our apparently really popular Opening Day Notes post, which if you missed, you can find here —>http://baseballs28thout.mlblogs.com/2013/04/03/opening-day-notes/
- With the tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon, people everywhere, particularly in Boston needed someone or something to turn to, baseball was that something. Read about it here —> http://baseballs28thout.mlblogs.com/2013/04/17/baseball-backs-boston/
- What in the world did Chris Davis eat. He has cooled off recently but goodnight talk about going from a nobody to a superstar overnight, Chris Davis launched himself into super-stardom. In case you missed a good read about his hot start, you can find that link right here –> http://baseballs28thout.mlblogs.com/2013/04/08/is-chris-davis-the-next-babe-ruth/
- All Star balloting has officially begun and votes are already pouring in, curious to see how we think the All Star game goes? Read about our prediction right here —>http://baseballs28thout.mlblogs.com/2013/03/30/all-star-game-victory-who-will-it-be-this-year/
- How about the Royals and the Rockies, they are both on top of their respective divisions. After looking through about 100 predictions from just about everywhere I think it’s pretty safe to say that nobody saw that coming.
- To go along with outstanding starts, tons of “baseball experts” are already changing their playoff predictions. We, however, understand how sample size works so we are sticking to our guns and not changing any picks. If you forgot our picks, take a look here —> AL http://baseballs28thout.mlblogs.com/2013/03/28/6/ —> NL http://baseballs28thout.mlblogs.com/2013/03/28/2013-national-league-predictions/ —>Playoffs http://baseballs28thout.mlblogs.com/2013/03/28/2013-mlb-playoff-predictions/
- In rather sad news, Danny Espinosa shaved his beard. Pretty bummed about that but with the Nationals somewhat struggling, the trim could help the team focus on winning games and not being caught up in everyone thinking they’re going to make the playoffs.
- And in even sadder news there are people saying Bryce Harper is a lock for MVP. Two things bad about that: First, he’s not leading in any offensive category. Second, sample size which you can read about here —>http://baseballs28thout.mlblogs.com/2013/04/18/statistics-sample-size/
- A lot of stadiums are down on attendance, Fenway even lost their sellout streak, don’t worry everyone, your favorite team isn’t all of a sudden unpopular (Unless you’re a fan of the Marlins). April and May always post low attendance numbers because family’s can’t come to games because of the kids’ school nights.
- Let’s end this on a great note. April 15th was Jackie Robinson Day and one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in baseball happened that day. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2, which as I type it out, 4-2 looks like 42, Jackie Robinson’s number. Anyway, in that game, the winning run, which was the 3rd run, was scored by Derrick Robinson wearing #42. So on Jackie Robinson Day the winning run was scored by a man with the last name of Robinson wearing #42.
It’s not secret that the designated hitter is the most controversial position in baseball. The American League uses the DH in place of the pitcher in the batting order whereas the National League lets pitchers take hacks. Fans and the brass of baseball are trying to decide what to do with the DH. Do they leave it the way it is where one league has is and the other doesn’t? Do they implement the DH in the National League? Or do they completely get rid of the DH and make American League pitchers bat?
We’re going to present the case for and against the DH. We aren’t going to give our opinion on the matter, but rather just give the best points of each argument and let our readers decide how they feel about it. If you think we missed an important point, comment on it, we’d love to hear your opinion on this controversial issue.
FOR the DH:
- Most teams have bench player who they turn to for pinch hitting who could fill the role of DH.
- The DH is used from little league to college ball, should continue it through the Majors if they are going to teach that there is a position where all the player does is hit.
- Pitchers are an easy out and look awful at the plate.
- Baseball has better ratings during games that are slugfests rather than pitcher’s duels. The DH would help add offense to games which could increase the popularity of a sport many regard as boring.
- The two leagues are playing different games which ruins the appeal of interleague play, implementing the DH would put an end to that.
- “Good hitting pitchers” win more games because of their pitching skills than their “above average hitting for a pitcher” skills.
- The active roster can be expanded to 26 teams so that players can accommodate for the DH rather than having to cut a bench player or shrinking the bullpen.
- Bill James argued that the DH doesn’t decrease strategy because bunting the pitcher with a runners on is almost second nature to managers now.
AGAINST the DH:
- Adds a “10th” player to teams’ salaries. Normally there are 8 position starters and the pitcher, 9 salaries on the diamond that are probably pretty hefty. The DH would add another salary that some teams might not be able to afford.
- The DH is the most nonathletic position in sports. It keeps older and larger players in the game.
- Creates one-dimensional players who get paid to do one thing whereas every other player has multiple jobs.
- The DH cuts managerial strategy because the manager doesn’t have to worry about taking a pitcher out if the pitcher’s spot comes up when the team needs a good AB.
- Why doesn’t MLB expand the DH rule to nine men to play defense and nine designated hitters? If it is all right to have one man exclusively hitting and not fielding why not nine?
- Since pitchers are replaced because they are bad hitters, can the shortstop be hit for if he is a bad hitter but good fielder?
- Comic relief when American League (And sometimes National League) pitchers go to swing and look like little leaguers (just kidding)
- Bunting is an important part of a baseball game and can advance runners into scoring position for the next batter.
We’ve given 8 arguments for each side. Now it’s your turn to weigh in. You’re the commissioner of Major League Baseball, you look at all the facts and hear all the arguments, what do you do?
With movies like Moneyball and organizations like Baseball Prospectus pushing sabermetrics and statistics, armchair statisticians have popped up everywhere. For the most part these self proclaimed stats experts read ESPN and write what they think those “statistics” mean. Well ESPN is notorious for being biased and less than adequate in their statistics department, so these armchair statisticians really don’t know what they are talking about.
At the beginning of every season we hear the same thing over and over again; “He hit 5 HRs in 5 games, he’s going to hit 162 HRs” or “He is 0-for his first 30 ABs, looks like he is going to have a bad year”. “The first few games of the season are indicators for the entire season.” People who say things like that could not be more wrong.
So let’s take a look at what point statistics become reliable.
- 50 PA (Plate Appearances): Swing %
- 100 PA: Contact Rate
- 150 PA: Strikeout Rate, Line Drive Rate, Pitchers/PA
- 200 PA: Walk Rate, Ground Ball Rate, Fly Ball Rate, Ground Ball/Fly Ball
- 300 PA: Home Run Rate, HR/Fly Balls
- 500 PA: OBP, SLG, OPS
- 150 BF (Batters Faced): K/PA, Line Drive Rate
- 200 BF: Ground Ball Rate, Fly Ball Rate, Ground Ball/Fly Ball Rate
- 500 BF: K/BB, Pop-up Rate
- 550 BF: BB/PA
If you don’t believe us, go ahead and look for the past ten years at end of the season numbers vs each of these points in any player’s season. You’ll see what we, FanGraphs, Pizza Cutter, and Baseball Prospectus have all seen. If you still don’t believe us, close ESPN or Yahoo or CBSports or whatever “source” you are looking at and look at raw statistics. Once you do that look at a team that you are indifferent towards, say the Kansas City Royals, assign each player a random number, and look at the statistics of each number, this way any chance for bias is eliminated.
The first couple of series do not, in any way, determine how the season is going to go for the team or an individual player. The numbers above and minimum numbers. The absolute minimum. If you’re favorite player has 0 HRs through 10 games don’t freak out, the sample size is way to small. The same holds true for a prospect. If a prospect gets called up at some point during the season and they hit 2 HRs in the first 2 games, that doesn’t mean that they are the next Hammerin Hank, the sample size, again, is way to small. So please, before you freak out and because of a slow start, remember that the season is young, and the sample size is still very small.