Posted on: March 12, 2010 1:12 pm
In a list of greatest players in the history of one of baseball’s most storied franchise, the names at the top of Boston’s list are Hall of Famers. Williams. Yastrzemski. Rice. Doerr. Young. So it is not everyday that a player comes along with enough caliber to crack the top of such a list.
One such player did emerge in the summer of 1997.
Nomar Garciaparra’s emerging talent preceded him. During the mid-90s, the Red Sox had a more than decent option at shortstop in John Valentin. But the prospects of Garciaparra’s bright future earned him the job for Opening Day 1997.
Garciaparra spent parts of nine seasons in Boston from his debut in 1996, but due to an injury in 2001 and being traded in 2004 accumulated only six full seasons. So how can he be considered among the greats of a franchise that has been around for more than a century?
As will likely be the case for sometime, the impact of player like Garciaparra may not be completely recognized until a later point because he played during the steroid era. At the time he was an excellent contact hitter and the star player on a star franchise.
In retrospect, he may have been the most dominant hitter in the game during his tenure in Boston.
Garciaparra’s numbers over that time certainly paint an impressive picture - .323/.370/.553, 178 home runs and 279 doubles during his time in Boston. But it is his versatility as a hitter that made him the best during that time.
Garciaparra was most naturally a gap, line-drive hitter. But he changed his offensive approach so that the team could get the most out of him. During his first two seasons with the club he hit 30 and 35 home runs, respectively, a feat that at the time had been accomplished only four other times in the history of baseball (and two, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, have been linked to steroids). He set records for RBIs by a lead-off hitter and home runs by a rookie shortstop on his way to the Rookie-of-the-Year award.
After those seasons of great power numbers, Garciaparra changed to still be able to put up good power numbers, but increase his on-base percentage and cut down on strikeouts. By his fourth season, the Sox had signed a rather well known power hitter by the name of Manny Ramirez, which took some of the burden of being a power hitter off of Garciaparra.
After that transition, he became a much more balanced hitter. He crossed the 50 doubles plateau twice, and also twice pulled off the very rare accomplishment of recording more doubles than strikeouts. He cemented his legacy as one of the most dangerous hitters by leading the league in hitting in back-to-back seasons in ’99 and ’00 at .357 and .372 respectively (Nobody has finished the season in the A.L. with an average above .372 since George Brett in 1980).
Garciaparra had the ability to do whatever he wanted as a hitter. If he wanted to hit 40-45 home runs, he could have. There were times where it seemed like he could take every single pitch he was given and bang it off of the Green Monster, something he did better than maybe any player in Red Sox history. Ted Williams, in an interview during the 1999 All-Star Game festivities in Boston, said that if any player were to ever hit .400 again, it would be Garciaparra.
Red Sox fans are well aware of the impact that Garciaparra had on the diamond for Boston’s teams in the late 90s and early 2000s. But his impact stretched much further than just that. He was drafted and signed by John Harrington and Dan Duquette, the predecessors of the John Henry/Larry Luccino/Tom Werner ownership and Theo Epstein at general manager.
The current Sox ownership saw what affect drafting quality players and revamping the minor league system could have on a franchise. In Garciaparra, the Sox not only got a great player, but someone who was taken as the fan favorite and face of the franchise.
No matter where you rank him in the “Trinity of Shortstops” of the late 90s and early 2000s (to say nothing of Miguel Tejada, Omar Vizquel and others), Garciaparra will get some votes for the Hall of Fame - and deservedly so. A player like Garciaparra exemplifies the reason why players remain on the ballot for 15 years. He is not a first-ballot player, but he will be there eventually.
He was a dominant, versatile hitter, and it is in Boston where he deserved to end his career.
Tags: Alex Rodriguez, Bobby Doerr, Boston Red Sox, Carl Yastrzemski, Cy Young, Dan Duquette, Derek Jeter, George Brett, Jim Rice, John Harrington, John Henry, John Valentin, Jose Canseco, Larry Luccino, Mark McGwire, Miguel Tejada, Nomar Garciappara, Omar Vizquel, Ted Williams, Theo Epstein, Tom Werner
Posted on: January 10, 2010 2:54 pm
The big name free agents have all but settled down in their new homes at this point in the off-season, and in the six-week intermission before pitchers and catchers begin to report for spring training, the biggest story is the results of the annual Hall of Fame voting. This year’s class is a small one, with the inductees being manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey along with the only member voted in by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Andre Dawson.
Dawson was elected in his ninth year of eligibility out of a possible 15, while the Veterans Committee selected Herzog and Harvey last month.
No one is debating these selections, but as always, the discussion centers on those who were left out.
The snub of second baseman Roberto Alomar left many puzzled. There were 539 voters this year, and with 75 percent the measure to be inducted, Alomar’s appearance on 73.7 percent of the ballots means that he missed by about eight votes.
Why did Alomar not make it to the Hall? It is certainly not because the BBWAA believes that he does not be there, as I for one have yet to find any voter come out and say that the reason why Alomar was left off of his/her respective ballot is because Alomar does not deserves to be there.
Let me take a break to ask me this question: What do Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Sandy Koufax, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Nolan Ryan all have in common? They are all part of a group of 39 select major league baseball players who were all elected to the Hall of Fame by means of the writers’ ballot.
Alomar was left off of the ballot because he did not deserve to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. This is no insult to Alomar, but he does not deserve to be in the conversation with those above names, and certainly the other first ballot inductees are no slouch either. That list of 39 does an excellent job of representing the best players in baseball who began playing by 1940.
Why does the Hall give a player 15 years of eligibility to remain on the BBWAA ballot? They are retired and their chances of getting in are not being improved. The members of the BBWAA are given a list of instructions to consider when voting and it does not include heavily judging the former players actions now that he is removed from baseball. Furthermore, if a player should be inducted after the first ballot because of what he has done since leaving baseball, then that is not for the BBWAA to decide that, but rather for the Veterans’ Committee.
So then why does a player have 15 years of eligibility? It is because there really is a difference between getting elected on the first year rather than the tenth year on the ballot. By putting down Alomar’s name on the 2010 ballot, it means that those writers believe he deserves to be in the sentence with the greatest players of all time. Is he on the same level with Williams, Musial, Koufax, Mays and Ryan? Hardly.
This is not to bash on Alomar. He would get my vote to be in the Hall – eventually. He was a very good player and certainly boasts a Hall of Fame resume – superb defense, a .300 hitter, a World Series title and five seasons finishing in the top six in MVP voting. But, in my opinion and I believe this sentiment would be shared by most, that does not pace Alomar within the best 40 players in the history of the game.
My ballot this year would not have been empty. While I think that Alomar is “under-due,” there were two players who were overdue – Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven. Dawson was elected on his ninth year on the ballot and Blyleven missed again on his 13th year of eligibility.
Next year, Blyleven would again be on my ballot. I would have to re-evaluate Alomar’s career, but Alomar would likely get my vote. Alomar is without an eventual member of the Hall, but the discussion of it being insulting to his career to be left off on the first ballot is in fact insulting to other 39 first ballot players who are among the greatest who ever played.
Posted on: April 23, 2008 10:20 pm
The Red Sox' winning streak came to an end on a day where Daisuke Matsuzaka was scratched from his regular start. Some thoughts on the game:
Jon Lester is making the types of improvements that the Sox are looking for as the season progresses. Last week, he attacked the strike zone, and while he gave up 10 hits, he looked much smoother and effective on the mound when it counted (i.e. with runners on base). This week Lester showed a similar philosophy, mixing up his pitches and trying to be more aggressive. He gave up another nine hits, but the Sox will be pleased with this result. Firstly, he was forced into action after just three days rest for the first time that anyone can remember in his professional career. He got the Sox five innings, in which he threw 81 pitches, a good number for Lester, and the Sox were tied when he left. If Lester was on his regular rest, he would have at least started the sixth inning, and may have come back for the seventh. The biggest thing to remember with Lester is that he is 24 years old, and he is the Sox number four starter for a reason. The Sox do not expect seven shut-out innings on every start. The Sox hope Lester rounds into someone who can win 13-15 games, but he is still learning, but obviously doing well enough to be handed the ball on three days rest.