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Baseball: Ivan "Pudge" Rodriquez

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posted on Aug, 22 2006 @ 11:16 AM
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This guy has to be acknowledged as one of the greatest players in the game, possibly even of all time. Look at what he has done for the teams he has played with.

When he left Texas and went to Florida, they were a mediocre team at best. They were after selling the whole team off after the World Series win, Pudge agrees to come to town and bang we have a contender within a year. Then they bring home the Series, way to go Pudge.

So what does he do?

Leaves and goes to Detroit! The TIGERS!

I couldn't believe it, I was thinking why would he do this? He can get money anywhere, Detroit is not exactly tropical, what is he thinking?

Well maybe he knows alittle something we don't because now they are one of the best teams in baseball. I see a trend here with Pudge, does anyone else?

Thoughts, Comments?




posted on Aug, 27 2006 @ 05:19 AM
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There are certain baseball players who become lightning rods for historical controversy, and about whom baseball historians argue forevermore. I will give two examples: Roberto Clemente and Joe Morgan.

Clemente won numerous batting championships; had a very high career batting average, considering it was centered in the low-offense 60's; and, despite a subaverage fielding average and ton of throwing errors, is widely regarded as the greatest RF ever. Serious baseball historians rate him as the 7th to 12th greatest right fielder ever, but there are many fans who rate him more like the 7th to 12th greatest PLAYER ever.

Personally, I would not take him in my Top 80. His career on-base percentage was .359 because he would not walk, which tells you what those batting titles were worth. He was not a good percentage base stealer, and even though Forbes Field cost him 60 HR's or so, he still was not a great, or even very good, HR hitter.

Another lightning rod is Morgan. What's NOT debatable is that Morgan got crucified in the Astrodome for many of his athletically prime seasons, and then was by far the greatest player in MLB from 1972-1976, winning the MVP both years the Reds won the Series, and having 2 other seasons just as good. His career BA was mediocre, but he retired #3 on the walks list, stole a million bases, had a terrific SB %, was impossible to pick off, and was, as Bill James says, "the greatest secondary skills player in baseball history." MOST historians say Rogers Hornsby was the greatest RH-hitter of all time, and thus easily its greatest 2Bman, with either Collins or Morgan next.

I wouldn't have Hornsby on my team for anything, except to avoid an outbreak of leprosy, maybe. And I think Morgan's the #1 second baseman of all time, a view which by no means are Bill James and I alone in holding. But for sure, Morgan, like Clemente, is someone who always will provoke very heated debate among baseball historians.

SO IS RODRIGUEZ.

The argument in his favor usually begins with, "Well, he had a career batting average of .304 coming into this season." And that argument, even if Rodriguez is the greatest catcher since Josh Gibson, is an unmitigated crock. Rodriguez is a horribly undisciplined hitter. He apparently thinks there is something unmanly about taking walks. At the start of this season, he had 7,740 plate appearances... and all of 411 walks, an awful ratio. For that reason, his seemingly impressive .304 career BA translates to a very mediocre .345 on-base percentage.

He is, in that regard, a poor man's version of the supposedly great George Sisler, who retired with a .340 batting average--and an inexcusable .379 on-base percentage, because unlike the true greats of his time--Cobb, Collins, Speaker, Hornsby, Ruth and Gehrig--Sisler apparently thought walks were shameful and went out of his way to avoid them, costing his teams HUNDREDS of runs over the course of his career.

A walk puts a man on base, and often moves other runners up. Walks turn into lots of runs over time, as Casey Stengel famously observed. It's why Nolan Ryan, the toughest pitcher ever to get hits off of, was not one of the 5 or 10 greatest pitchers ever.

A career OBP of .343 is NOTHING. The number of retired players with better OBP's and, say, 3000 career plate appearances is probably over 1,000.

So as a hitter, the only thing Pudge has is his extra-base hitting skill. Over a 15-year career, 12 of which were spent in that park in Arlington, I would consider 445 doubles good for a catcher, but certainly nothing more than that. Balls carry well in Arlington, leading to cheap HR's and high scores, but there are deep areas conducive to doubles and triples--and that is true in SPADES in that ballpark in Florida, where he also played.

As to triples, Pudge's 38 coming into this season are nothing, but one expects nothing of a catcher, so no big deal. His 264 HR's are fewer than 20 per year, which would have been very impressive in the 1980's, but in this day and age--and I'm leaving completely alone the rumors of his PED use, because I'm aware of no evidence at all to back them up--20 HR's a year for a muscular catcher in a pro-HR park like Arlington is no big deal.

As for his defense, experts are all over the map. His fielding percentage is 11% below that of the average catcher for his era. But his range is SIGNIFICANTLY greater than that of the average catcher, which is more important, and his arm must be considered very strong despite occasional errors, just like Clemente's. I remember all of Clemente's career, and although I consider him the most overrated player of my lifetime, I can tell you that everything you've heard about his phenomenal arm, and how many men it kept from trying to take an extra base, is true. Pudge's arm isn't THAT great, but it's damned good.

HOWEVER....

So much of a catcher's worth is comprised of things the public never sees comprehendingly: positioning fielders well, calling pitches, and generally "handling the pitchers well."

When Pudge left Texas, a lot of pitchers said he was terrible, very selfish in the way he handled them, wanting everything his way--sort of like a guy who thinks he knows best, walks be damned, and he'll swing at whatever he likes.

Until Piazza's career ends, and giving Campanella credit for SIX years lost due to segregation (NOT years played from ages 15 to 19, but from 20-25), my top 5 catchers are:

1. Campanella
2. Bench
3. Berra
4. Cochrane
5. Piazza (only bad defensively in one area, and hitting counts for much more than fielding, though the position where this is least true is catcher--then SS, then after that, it's a rout at any position)

Pudge Rodriguez, in my opinion, probably belongs with Bill Dickey, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter and somebody else in the Top 10, but no way in the Top 5. If he makes my Top 10, it will be barely, and it SURE won't have anything to do with his batting average.

BHN

[Edited on 8/29/06 by BaseballHistoryNut]



posted on Aug, 27 2006 @ 06:40 AM
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Can I have my underwear back?



posted on Aug, 27 2006 @ 10:52 AM
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Originally posted by chissler
Can I have my underwear back?




I think BHN likes to keep those, he hangs them from the street light in front of his house just as a warning to the neighbors.



posted on Aug, 28 2006 @ 05:13 AM
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Hey, guys, SERIOUSLY:

This has nothing at all with trying to show anyone up. I'm here to contribute my (1) factual knowledge and (2) opinions about baseball history. The former are indisputable, unless inaccurate; the latter are very well-educated opinions, but I've read a lot of very well-educated baseball history opinions, including by Bill James, which I thought were a CROCK.

My opinions certainly didn't come down off the mountain with Moses, and I'm just as certainly not trying to make any fellow members look bad.

BHN



posted on Aug, 28 2006 @ 08:58 AM
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BHN, you got me all wrong. I am not poking fun or disrespecting, you are top notch in getting your point across. I have strong opinions about somethings, but your opinions are just as strong and backed better.

Please don't take offense to my post, I was merely trying to have a laugh.

I enjoy reading your posts, you know your sports.




posted on Aug, 28 2006 @ 08:05 PM
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Please don't you misunderstand mine. I wasn't taking offense at all. I was just afraid I had deterred you from posting such things, and that's the last thing in the world I want to do.

By all means state your baseball views, and by all means tell me when you think I'm wrong. If I think you're wrong--and Pudge Rodriguez is a case where I particularly think you're wrong, because of his asinine refusal to draw walks, and thus to get on base a reasonable amount of the time, considering his batting average--I'll say so. But neither my knowledge of stats and history, nor what many people perceive as my word power, mean I'm right about anything, much less that you "left your laundry" somewhere on this issue.

There are knowledgeable people who, despite Roy Campanella, Jim Sundberg, Mickey Cochrane and Johnny Bench, and despite what the pitchers in Texas had to say, consider Pudge the greatest defensive catcher ever. They'll NEVER sell me on that notion, but these are not a bunch of ignorant hicks spouting this belief. They are very knowledgeable folks with a ton of "SABR" statistics they can flood/bury/bore (your choice) you with.

The low walks and mediocre on-base percentage, on the other hand, are matters of fact and not subject to dispute. But catching is probably THE most important everyday defensive position of all, including SS, and most of a catcher's value lies in things which we, as outsiders, cannot measure: positioning fielders, calling pitches and handling the pitchers. The latter point is one on which many Texas pitchers reportedly were critical of Pudge, but the three points as a whole are ones on which, to be fair, some experts rate Pudge as #1 all-time.

BHN



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