Sunday, March 29, 2009

Some Stats that Factor Prominently

Tim Marchman in his piece entitled Growing Pains does an outstanding job of comparing Hall of Famers who began to fade at an otherwise early age. When a writer does his/her homework, the reader reaps the benefits every time.

Borrowing from Mr. Marchman, here are some excerpts that touch on some things an absolute student of the game can appreciate.

Per Marchman: But what look like assets can, on closer inspection, prove to be liabilities, which is why Rodriguez's contract might be the biggest financial disaster in baseball history.

Start with the home runs. Through age 31, Rodriguez had hit 518, placing him right ahead of Jimmie Foxx, Ken Griffey, Jr., Eddie Mathews and Mickey Mantle. It was the heaviest possible company-and, in actuarial terms, some of the scariest. Those are four (4) of the most notorious burnouts ever.
Foxx was essentially done at 34. Griffey, after playing 111 games at 31, averaged 89 per season for the next 5 years. Mathews was never again a true star after turning 32, and like Mantle, who famously spent the last years of his career in pain, he played his last game at 36.

What sets Rodriguez apart, of course, is that unlike them he came up playing shortstop, the second most physically demanding position on the field, after catcher.

A look at the players ahead of him is as frightening as a look at the home run rankings. Robin Yount never had a really strong season after he was 33, and played his last game at 38. Bill Mazeroski fell apart at 32, and played his last game at 36.

Marchman goes on with the keen insight and factoids...

More than any of it, he is defined by the fact that he reached the major leagues at 18 and was worked like a farm animal in years when his body was still developing. More or less every other player of whom that can be said fell apart disastrously. Whatever the exact state of his hip right now, the most significant number he's playing for isn't 763 but 138. That's how many games he played last year; it might be more than he ever plays again.

Hats off to Tim Marchman.

I'd like to comment on this piece, if I may.

People were shocked that Alex Rodriguez admitted to taking steroids. So what? He knew, more than anyone else that he "needed" the stuff to heal and keep in the game. I don't know if Maz or Mantle would have taken the stuff if they knew it would've prolonged their career but I'm betting they would have because the game meant that much to them.

When you sign on to play between the lines you have a reputation to uphold. You want to be that hero and if you get a taste of success you can't get enough. I believe all of those with the privilege of voting someone into the Hall of Fame should take this into consideration. Because these players are only trying to do their very best.
If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying.

(thank you Tim Marchman. It's all Marchman, the italics thing wasn't working but all the facts ...Tim Marchman.)