Thursday, September 30, 2004

Random Thoughts

* I know Jeremy Reed has a very small sample size of just 50 major league at bats, and guys like Willie Bloomquist (.455/.526/.576 in 33 ABs two Septembers ago) are constant reminders of the danger of reading too much into a 2-3 week hot streak, but . . . MAN! .440/.491/.520!

It's damn clear Reed's no Willie Bloomquist, either. Willie was a career .255/.294/.310 hitter over 491 ABs in AA, and .257/.304/.352 over 540 ABs in AAA, while Reed hit .409/.474/.591 over 242 ABs in AA, and .289/.361/.436 over 509 AAA at bats. I think there is plenty of statistical evidence to conclude that Bloomquist's September Surprise was far flukier and less representative of what might follow than Reed's. This is a guy who regularly shows an understanding of the strike zone and good patience. After an initial adjustment to major league pitching (he went 0 for his first 5 with no XBH or BB until his sixth appearance, at which point he was hitting .308), he seems to be showing he has the potential for at least gap power -- since he got that first XBH, he's hit .486/.547/.590 over more ABs (37) than Willie got in his big September . . .. What's not to like here?

I'm not saying that Reed can come close to sustaining this over a rookie season, that he will have enough power for a corner outfielder or the arm and instincts to play centerfield (I like his range, but his arm has looked suspect at times and so has his ball trajectory/route judgment -- remember that throw that hit the back of the mound? Very Winn-esque; remember Reed pulling up on a Trot Nixon shot off the base of the wall that Reed thought had left the yard?), but he certainly deserves a fair shot at the 25-man roster next Spring. If he can get 300 major league ABs next year, I don't see that sending him back to AAA will serve any useful purpose except saving a year of service time and extending the time the M's can cheaply keep Reed around further into his prime. That's not insignficant, but for a team with the resources of the Mariners, it shouldn't be the much of a concern, either.

* Man, Ichiro! just laced number 256. I don't want to root against him, but I sure hope he doesn't get more than one more hit today. It's bad enough that he could tie the record in Oakland; I definitely don't want him to break it there -- especially since I bought tickets to Friday's game specifically to see him break the record. [Post-game update: only one hit, thanks to a nice running catch by Eric Byrnes . . ..]

* Speaking of Ichiro!, there is a good discussion on USSM about whether Ichiro's Japanese statistics should be considered for Hall of Fame purposes. Derek makes some rough translations of what Ichiro might've done had he been in MLB his whole career, not to make the argument that he would have done those things but rather to give him the benefit of the doubt in considering a likely short but excellent MLB career that he was capable of putting up HoF numbers had he been given a full chance. At least that was my understanding of Derek's argument . . .. Anyway, most of the comments focused on the imperfect analogy between Japanese baseball and the Negro Leagues as they relate to the Hall of Fame, the fact that Cooperstown is not an international Hall of Fame but the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and therefore Japanese players and performances shouldn't be considered.

Here's my take: Unlike black ballplayers before Jackie Robinson, Ichiro and other Japanese ballplayers at least had the opportunity to sign with MLB teams (ala Mac Suzuki) rather than pursue a career in Japan. While it is true that agreements between NPB and MLB prevent players in the NPB system from freely moving for something like 8 years once they are in the system, that is a far cry from what black players faced before Jackie. I don't think players who played exclusively in Japan should be enshrined in Cooperstown, but if a player with a significant career in Japan comes to MLB and plays ten seasons here (the minimum for consideration in the HoF absent special circumstances such as the banishment of black players pre-Robinson, which I don't think applies to Japanese ballplayers), there is nothing wrong with voters considering the quality of his career in Japan in deciding whether the player is Hall-worthy.

Ichiro! is likely to fall into that category. By the end of Ichiro's age 36 season (2010), he will have played 10 years in MLB. Using Bill James' aging pattern findings as a rough guide for how Ichiro! might perform in those years (using Ichiro!'s best numbers for each particular stat between 27 and 30 as his peak "season"), Ichiro is likely to get roughly 2000-2100 hits, 260 doubles, 60 triples, 95 home runs, 550 RBI, 375 or so stolen bases in about 500 attempts, about 700 strikeouts and 425 walks, and career rate stats of something in the neighborhood of .320-.325 BA, .375-.385 OBP, and about .430-.450 SLG. While that is not a slam-dunk HoF career in and of itself, it gets much closer to being one when you consider at least 2 batting titles, probably 8 All-Star appearances, an MVP, a significant MLB record, several Gold Gloves, and a prominent role in opening MLB to Japanese position players. If you consider his dominance of Japanese baseball before that (1278 hits, and a career .353/.421/.522), and especially if you think he'll play at better than league average level past his age 36 year, it probably is a slam-dunk HoF career.

* And speaking of the Hall of Fame, I've been known to make heavily statistical arguments for Edgar Martinez's Hall of Fame credentials, here's a decidedly un-statistical argument: How many players -- at least players who aren't considered slam-dunk Hall of Fame candidates -- are given special ceremonies by opposing teams in virtually every ballpark, and see the Commissioner make a special appearance at his retirement ceremony? Hall of Fame voters are supposed to consider character as well as performance; the kind of reverence and respect Edgar has been shown by his peers on this Farewell Tour speak volumes about why Edgar deserves enshrinement -- probably more than statistics ever can.

Thanks, Papi. I'll see you this weekend.


At October 11, 2004 at 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Japanese players did *not*, at least before Nomo, have the opportunity to come to MLB. For details, see

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