Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Sus Casas Son Mis Casas

I'm probably missing some punctuation there.  Anyway, today's mailday post contains a lot of things, including a three-card lot of Triston Casas:

Triston Casas is a player I am very excited about.  He had a rough start to the season last year, but turned into one of the most consistent offensive threats in the league, finishing the season eighth in OPS.  He has some work to do defensively, but he looks like he could be a star.  Plus, he has some big personality that could make him a fan favorite.

1.  Mike Easler.  Easler cost John Tudor in trade, but was a pretty good hitter in his time in Boston, particularly in 1984.  That year he hit .313/.376/.516 with 27 home runs and 91 RBIs.  After his numbers declined in 1985, he was traded to the Yankees for Don Baylor.

2.  Stuffy McInnis.  This is my first card of Stuffy.  He is a player who gets mentioned every once in awhile when talk turns to old-time players for the Hall of Fame.  I'm not sure he's even a borderline candidate, but he had a nice career, hitting .307/.343/.381 for his career.  This card discusses his 1921 season in which he came down to the last day of the season before making his first error.  McInnis spent four years in Boston, hitting .296/.326/.361.

3.  Wil Cordero.  Cordero is a player who had some significant off-field issues.  He would likely have a hard time continuing to find work in the league due to a domestic violence charge.  

Up next is some vintage:

1.  Tom Sturdivant.  Sturdivant pitched just one season in Boston, primarily out of the bullpen.  Oddly, he was the Red Sox Opening Day starter that one season.  He ended up going 3-3 with a 4.97 ERA and was plucked by the new Senators (now Texas Rangers) in the expansion draft the next season.

2.  Haywood Sullivan.  Sullivan was mostly a backup catcher for a few seasons before also being taken in the expansion draft.  Sullivan later became the Red Sox general manager, and his son Marc played for the Red Sox for a few seasons.

3.  Jim Pagliaroni.  Pagliaroni had some big power and in his only season as the Red Sox primary catcher, hit .242/.342/.415 with 16 home runs and 58 RBIs.  He was later dealt to the Pirates in the deal that brought Dick Stuart to the Red Sox.

4.  Chuck Schilling.  Schilling was a very good defensive second-baseman who could not really hit.  He hit .239/.304/.317 with 23 home runs in his career.


And finishing things off for the day is a lot of nine Curt Schilling cards.  Schilling's career certainly merits Hall of Fame induction, but he is such a blowhard and has such controversial opinions on things that it makes it difficult to focus on his playing career.  However, nothing he has done is illegal, he's just kind of an ass.  I don't think that should keep him out of the Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

R.I.P. Jimy Williams

Yesterday it was announced that former Red Sox manager Jimy Williams passed away at the age of 80.  Williams had a short playing career with the Cardinals in the 1960's.  He had his first stint as manager of the Blue Jays in the mid 1980's.  Under him, the Blue Jays had a second place finish in 1987.  After that, he was on Bobby Cox's coaching staff with the Braves before taking over the Red Sox managerial position in 1997, replacing Kevin Kennedy.

The Red Sox finished fourth in 1997, but Williams made one of his more noteworthy moves late in that season.  Steve Avery was signed as a free agent prior to the season, but struggled greatly.  Avery had a clause in his contract that if he made 18 starts, an option would vest for him to continue in Boston for the next season.  Williams started Avery in a meaningless late-season game specifically in order for that option to vest.  Avery won the game, so it worked out.

The next two seasons were much better for the team as the Red Sox won the Wild Card each season.  In 1998, they lost to the Indians in the ALDS, but gained revenge the next season, winning a classic five-game series that culminated in Pedro Martinez's hitless relief stint.  They could not capitalize on that momentum against the Yankees in the ALCS though.  Williams won the A.L. Manager of the Year for his 94-68 season.

Unfortunately, the team declined in 2000 and nosedived in 2001 after injuries to Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Varitek.  Williams was fired after 118 games and replaced by Joe Kerrigan, who had no idea how to manage.  Williams later managed the Astros.  

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Mailday: January 23, 2024

In order to get through some of these packages quickly, it might be easier to just do a general mailday post, unless there is something really special.  So, the mail arrived on Tuesday and contained a few packages that seemed to get lost while we were completely covered in snow for a week.  

Up first is a Connor Wong card:

This is the 2022 Panini Immaculate Clear Button card.  I believe this is my third button card of Wong.  It is serial-numbered to 10 and puts me at 506 Connor Wong cards.

Up next is a group of three auctions from 2023 Panini Prizm, one of my favorite sets from last year.  Each auction consisted of a base card and a parallel, all of which I needed.

1.  Tim Wakefield.  Wakefield's death last year really affected me.  I watched Wakefield since I was 14 years old.  He was one of my favorites.  The knuckleballer was so much fun to watch.  So, I have determined I should get more cards of Wakefield.

2.  Miguel Bleis.  Bleis is somewhat of a forgotten prospect at this point.  He went into last year expected to make a big splash.  Then he got hurt and missed most of the year.  He is still Boston's number five prospect and hopefully he will get back on track. 

3.  Carlton Fisk.  I love the photo on these cards.  I have not seen it before, which makes it that much more appealing.

Up next is a TCDB trade.  There are going to be a lot of these in the coming weeks.  I recently added all the Red Sox cards I did not have to my wantlist and suddenly there are tons of offers.  I have gone with the flow so far, but it has been a bit overwhelming.

1.  Enmanuel Valdez.  I seem to be a magnet for Valdez cards.  I am having no problems adding him.

2.  Nazzan Zanetello.  Boston has been drafting a lot of shortstops in recent years.  That makes sense since the shortstop on college and high school teams tend to be the most athletic players.  Zanetello was Boston's second-round pick (Kyle Teel did not appear in Draft in 2023) and signed for an above-slot bonus.  So, he must be highly-regarded.

3.  Connelly Early.  Early was Boston's fifth-round pick in 2023  

4.  Kristian Campbell.  Campbell was selected in the compensatory part of the fourth round in 2023.

5.  Justin Riemer.  Riemer was another compensatory pick in the fourth round.  His bonus was slightly above slot.

6.  Reese McGuire.  McGuire has been popping up a fair amount lately too after not having any Red Sox cards until just a couple months ago.

7.  David Ortiz.  I suspect there are going to be a lot of Ortiz cards as a result of the trading on TCDB.  

8.  James Paxton.  Paxton recently became the latest former Red Sox to catch on with the Dodgers.  I would have liked to see him back on a reasonable deal.  When he was on last year, he was great.

9.  Rob Refsndyer.  Refsnyder will be in a similar role as Boston's fourth outfielder in 2024.

10.  Trey Ball.  Ball is one of the bigger draft busts in recent years for the Red Sox.  Ball was drafted seventh overall in 2013 but never came close to the Majors.  

11.  Garin Cecchini.  Cecchini was a well-regarded third-base prospect, but only ended up playing in 13 games.  He did get to hit a home run though.

12.  Teddy Stankiewicz.  Stankiewicz also never made the Majors.  

13.  Anthony Ranaudo.  Ranaudo had the most success of these players in the Majors.  He was 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA in 39.1 innings, striking out 15 and walking 16.  He was then traded to the Rangers for Robbie Ross and appeared in games with the Rangers and White Sox.

1.  J.D. Martinez.  Martinez is one of several free agents still out there right now.  Boston needs a right-handed power bat, but I would be surprised if he came back.

2.  Jose Iglesias.  I think of Iglesias as a more successful version of Tzu-Wei Lin.  Longtime readers will remember my obsession with Lin.  Iglesias was an international free agent middle infielder renowned for his defense.  I even briefly considered a mini-player collection of him.  He made the Majors on the strength of his defense, but he stuck around and had a successful career because of his ability to make some contact.  He even came back to Boston at the point of this card.

3.  Kyle Schwarber.  Schwarber will go down as one of Bloom's better trades.  He was awesome in Boston, but his inability to play reasonable defense anywhere made it hard to bring him back unless the DH spot was open.  When J.D. Martinez did not opt out, Schwarber was not able to stay in Boston.

4.  Christian Vazquez/Xander Bogaerts.  Hard to believe, but both of these players are now gone from Boston.  It was Vazquez's trade that apparently made Bogaerts realize he could leave Boston.  I think his contract with the Padres is already being looked at as a mistake though.

5.  Pedro Martinez.  Martinez has been working with Brayan Bello this offseason, hopefully that will lead to another step forward for the young pitcher.

6.  Freili Encarnacion.  Encarnacion is a potential power bat infielder who was signed as an international free agent.  He is 19 and has yet to reach A-ball, so there is a lot of uncertainty here.

And finally, a package from Zippy Zappy:

A dual game-used bat of two of my favorite all-time Red Sox: Jason Varitek and Wade Boggs.  I have not decided what my collecting goals for 2024 are yet.  I don't think I will do a year specific for Varitek, most of the cards being produced of him now are autographs.  Still, I think pushing him to 1,250 is possible, but may take awhile.

Thanks ZZ!

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Unknown Heroes Pt. 48: Eduardo Rodriguez

I suppose I can write about this now.  I kind of held out hope that Rodriguez would come back to Boston after opting out of his deal with the Tigers this offseason.  He ended up signing with the Diamondbacks though.  There's always a chance he could come back in a trade or sign back after his four-year contract ends, but that seems unlikely at this point.

Back around the trading deadline in 2014, the Red Sox were in an unusual position.  Despite winning the World Series the previous year, the team was in last place and had a lot of contracts due to come off the books in the offseason.  In other words, they had the chance to completely retool by shedding salary in exchange for prospects.  The team took something of an odd strategy for most of the deals though, choosing to focus on acquiring players who were already in the Majors but had some control left.  That's what led to deals sending out Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes and John Lackey for Yoenis Cespedes, Joe Kelly and Allen Craig.  Three deals did yield prospects though.  Jake Peavy was sent to the Giants for Heath Hembree and Edwin Escobar, Felix Doubront was traded to the Cubs for Marco Hernandez, and Andrew Miller was sent to the Orioles for Eduardo Rodriguez.  Of course it is that last one that I am talking about here.

Miller was having an incredible season in 2014.  The lefty reliever turned into a real weapon and was one of the most sought-after players on the trade market.  He had a 2.34 ERA and 69 strikeouts in just 42.1 innings when he was traded to the O's for Rodriguez.  Rodriguez was a top prospect for Baltimore, not their best pitching prospect, but within their top ten overall, so this was a pretty good get for the Red Sox.  He was easily the best prospect they acquired during the time frame and he was far enough along that he did not need much seasoning before making his Major League debut, which came the next year.

Rodriguez made his Major League debut on May 28, 2015 and pitched 7.2 innings of scoreless ball, striking out seven and walking two, getting the win against the Rangers.  Rodriguez would finish the year with a record of 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA, 98 strikeouts and 37 walks in 121.2 innings.  Surprisingly, he received no consideration for the Rookie of the Year vote.  I am not saying he should have won, or even placed highly, but a vote would have been warranted.  

The next two seasons were very uneven for Rodriguez.  He was 9-14 over the next two years with a 4.42 ERA.  He started showing signs in 2017 of promise though as he struck out 150 batters in just 137.1 innings.  He did not even pitch in the 2016 postseason and faced just two batters in 2017.  2018 was something of a breakout as he went 13-5 with a 3.82 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 129.2 innings.  His big issue was throwing too many pitches.  He walked 3.1 batters per nine innings and got into a lot of full counts.  Nevertheless, he was improving.  

He struggled greatly in the postseason and was primarily a reliever until Game 4 of the World Series.  That was after the 18-inning game that the Dodgers won.  Most of the starters were gassed, so Rodriguez took the mound and pitched well, for awhile.  Since most of the bullpen was exhausted too, Rodriguez had to go a little deeper into the game and made it into the sixth inning without allowing a run.  Unfortunately, things unraveled and he gave up an RBI groundout to Cody Bellinger followed by a three-run home to Yasiel Puig.  Rodriguez slammed his glove into the ground in frustration and was taken out of the game.  Boston rallied to win the game and Rodriguez deserves some credit for his performance and for saving some of the bullpen arms.

2019 was Rodriguez's best season, and the only one so far in which he has received any kind of awards consideration.  He finished sixth in the Cy Young voting.  He had a record of 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA (128 ERA+), helping to keep Boston's pitching afloat in the wake of injuries to Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi.  He threw a career-high 203.1 innings, striking out 213 (also a career high).  He led the league in walks with 75, but also in games started (34).  He was highly durable that season and was rewarded for it.  

Unfortunately, Rodriguez was not able to build on his impressive season.  He sat out the 2020 season, the COVID season, due to some concerning respiratory reactions to the virus.  He did make it back in 2021, but took awhile to get going.  He ended up turning in a decent season, once one looks beyond the surface numbers.  His 4.74 ERA (99 ERA+) looks more like the result of bad luck and/or defense as his FIP was a much more impressive 3.32.  He did have a 13-8 record and cut down his walk rate to below three.  He also struck out 185 batters in 157.2 innings.  

Once again Rodriguez struggled in the postseason.  He appeared in two games against the Rays in the ALDS and went 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA and pitched just 6.2 innings total.  He struck out seven and walked two.  He was much better against Houston in the ALCS, drawing the start in the Game 3 blowout and going six strong innings, allowing three runs, all on a Kyle Tucker home run, but striking out seven and walking none.  He got the win.  It would end up being his final appearance in a Red Sox uniform, he signed with Detroit in the offseason.

I wonder sometimes about why Rodriguez left Boston.  Manager Alex Cora was often openly challenging to Rodriguez, in a similar way as he was with Alex Verdugo, calling him out publicly to improve.  At the time, I got the impression that this was because he cared about him a lot and knew that saying something publicly went be a stronger motivator for change.  But I wonder how much that went into Rodriguez leaving the team.  There was also an incident in the last postseason game in which Rodriguez was seen pointing at his wrist, mocking Carlos Correa's maneuver in the first game after he homered.  Cora could be seen yelling at Rodriguez as he was walking off the field after his night was complete.  That was the last time Rodriguez played for Boston and I cannot help but wonder if he was angry with Cora for that.  I guess we may never know.

Rodriguez was often a frustrating pitcher.  He tended to throw too many pitches and had difficulty reaching his potential, but he was entertaining and a pretty good pitcher as well.  He was never and All Star and only once received any votes for any award, but Rodriguez went 64-39 with a 4.16 ERA (110 ERA+, 3.83 FIP) in 159 games for Boston.  In 856.2 innings, he struck out 892 batters, while walking 294.  Those are decent numbers for a starting pitcher in this day and age.  I wish Boston would have kept him.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Slightly More Than One-Year Wonder Pt. 8: Victor Martinez

These players made it longer than one full season, but less than two seasons. They do not qualify as one-year wonders. They lasted slightly too long. But they still spent a brief part of their careers with the Red Sox.

I felt like talking about Victor Martinez today.  He was on the 2024 Hall of Fame ballot.  He did not do well, receiving just six votes and dropping off the ballot going forward.  I knew this would be the case, but he still had a terrific career and deserves to be remembered.

It actually took me awhile to really appreciate Martinez's stint with Boston.  As everyone who reads this blog knows, I am a huge Jason Varitek fan.  Martinez was acquired because Varitek was slipping at the plate.  Martinez pushed Varitek into a backup catcher role eventually.  When Martinez was first acquired, the Red Sox actually split his time between first base and catcher.  But in 2010, his only full season with the Red Sox, Martinez was the primary catcher.  So, it took awhile, but now I do fully appreciate what they had.

Martinez started his career in Cleveland, taking over the starting job in 2004.  He hit more than 20 home runs three times and drove in 100 runs twice going into the 2009 season.  He was an All Star in 2004 and 2007.  The Indians in 2009 were headed for a 97 loss season and were shedding salary as of the trading deadline.  Martinez had already made his third All Star team.  The Red Sox were on their way to another Wild Card berth, but needed an offensive jolt.  The two teams came together.  The Red Sox sent pitchers Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Shaw to bring Martinez over.

Martinez played in 56 games down the stretch and definitely provided that offensive spark Boston so needed.  He hit .336/.405/.507 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs, pushing his final numbers on the season above 20 home runs and 100 RBIs.  He ended up receiving some down-ballot MVP votes as a result of this.  Martinez appeared in the postseason for the second time in his career that year, but struggled to a .182/.250/.182 line with just two RBIs in the team's ALDS loss to the Angels.  

2010 saw Martinez hit 20 home runs and make the All Star team once more.  As mentioned, Martinez spent the entire season at catcher, playing only a handful of games at first base and designated hitter.  He hit .302/.351/.493 with 20 home runs, 32 doubles and 79 RBIs.  He also struck out just 52 times on the season compared to 40 walks.  It was one of the better offensive seasons by a Red Sox catcher in quite awhile.  Not since Carlton Fisk in 1977 did a Red Sox catcher hit more than .300 with 20 or more home runs.  

The issue about whether to bring Martinez back had to do with his deteriorating defense.  He was not historically a strong defensive catcher, but he really took a step backwards in 2010.  He allowed 99 stolen bases (second most in the league), catching just 21% of attempted thefts.  The league average was 26%.  He appeared destined to be a designated hitter and the Red Sox already had David Ortiz for that position.

Martinez signed a free agent contract with the Tigers after the season and did indeed become a designated hitter, never playing catcher regularly again.  The Red Sox acquired Jarrod Saltalamacchia in a trade with the Rangers at the deadline and he became the team's regular catcher.  Martinez's final slash line in Boston was .313/.368/.497 with 28 home runs and 120 RBIs.  

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Heritage High Numbers Blaster

I had been looking for one of these for awhile and finally found one.  There were not a ton of new Red Sox cards in Heritage High Numbers, and even fewer players who were new to the team, but I still wanted to grab a blaster and see what I could pull.  Not much, but here are the Red Sox I pulled:

1.  Reese McGuire.  After seeing a scan of this card, it was the one I most wanted to pull.  What a great action shot with him in full catchers' gear.  It reminds me a little bit of my favorite Red Sox card from the 1970's, the Fisk 1974 Topps card:

2.  Enmanuel Valdez.  Valdez is a guy I seem to pull a lot already.  It's sort of amazing how much he looks like Juan Soto at the plate.  I'm not saying I expect him to hit like that, but the swing is definitely similar.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The Jason Varitek Quest for 1,000: #s 999 and 1,000! (Plus a Lot More)

This is one of the more eclectic maildays I have had in some time.  It was helped by the fact that it was my first mailday after some big winter storms delayed delivery for a few days (I had 18 inches of snow and was snowed in for four days).  I will get to it all, but spoiler alert: as the title says, I made it to a very big goal.

The All Aces insert set is one of the more interesting inserts I have seen in recent years.  It takes a formula that is not exactly groundbreaking (cards with playing card designs) but nevertheless results in a fantastic-looking set.  Of course I had to grab both Red Sox cards from the set: Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez.  I got to watch both of them at various times, though Clemens was not quite as dominant as he had been earlier in his career by the time I was really paying attention.

Up next is some vintage:

1.  1971 Topps Cal Koonce.  Koonce had a ten-year career in the Majors with the Cubs, Mets and Red Sox.  He was primarily a reliever and saved eleven games for the Mets in 1968.  The Red Sox purchased him from the Mets in 1970 and he went 3-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 76.1 innings, notching two saves.  The next season he was 0-1 with a 5.57 ERA in 21 innings and was released.

2.  1961 Fleer Greats Lefty Grove.  It is always a little exciting to see Grove in a Red Sox uniform.  He wears a Red Sox cap on his plaque but that always felt a little off.  He had some great seasons in Boston, but he was really at his most dominant with the A's.

Jason Varitek card #999 is from 2023 Topps Update 1988 35th Anniversary Chrome.  I have mentioned previously my preference for cards with the "C" on the chest.  Varitek has been the only official Red Sox captain during the time I have been a fan.

Like Grove, I love it when I can find Babe Ruth cards with the Red Sox.  This is the Orange Flash parallel from 2023 Panini Select.  Even better, the photo actually appears to be Ruth with the Red Sox.

2022 Stadium Club Rookie Autographs Gold Foil.  You didn't think I had stopped collecting Connor Wong did you?  Absolutely not.  Things have just slowed down as supply has dwindled.  This is a big one though: a 1/1 autograph card.  

Next is an insert lot I grabbed off of Ebay:

1.  Topps Cosmic Chrome Star Clusters Rafael Devers/Triston Casas.  Up first is a cool insert featuring two of the team's top hitters in Rafael Devers and Triston Casas.  I always liked cards with more than one player on them, even better if they were all Red Sox.  

2-5.  Yoshida!  This lot featured four new Masataka Yoshida cards for my collection.  The most interesting is definitely the pulp-like design for the Extraterrestrial Talent card from Cosmic Chrome.  

6-7.  Marcelo Mayer.  Mayer was the fourth overall pick in the 2021 Draft.  He was slowed by an injury last season but previously looked like a promising player.  This year will be very important in his development.  Boston seems to be banking on the rising talents of Mayer, Roman Anthony, Kyle Teel and Nick Yorke.

8-10.  Papi and Pedro.  These two currently hold the third and fourth spots on my list of largest Red Sox players.

1.  Lyonell James.  James was an international free agent from the 2019/2020 signing period.  He has some interesting tools, but has yet to harness them.  He is slated for A-ball in 2024.

2.  Justin Turner.  I still like to get relics of players when I can, particularly when it is someone I do not have yet.  This is my first Turner relic.  I really liked Justin Turner.  Maybe Boston can bring him back.  He was a good middle-of-the-order bat and a great clubhouse presence.

3.  Brayan Bello.  Bello, like Casas, is a rising star in my collection.  I do not have a lot of cards, but if he keeps developing, he will soon take off.

4.  Jason Varitek.  Here it is, #1,000!  This is the 2023 Topps Pristine Purple Refractor.  Now, I need to make a new goal.  Prepare for that.

1.  Ted Williams.  In 2003, after Williams's death, three Upper Deck sets featured large numbers of Williams cards as either part of the set or as an insert.  I always meant to get more of them.  I grabbed one here from Sweet Spot classic.

2.  Bill Renna.  From 1958 Topps, Renna played six years with the Yankees, Athletics (Philadelphia and Kansas City) and Red Sox.  He spent two seasons in Boston as an extra outfielder and hit .218/.315/.436 with four homers and 20 RBIs.

3.  Cy Young.  Another player I love getting cards of with the Red Sox.

4.  Mo Vaughn.  I had a couple of these inserts that I pulled from packs of 1997 Score back then.  I did not realize Vaughn had a card in the set.  I am leaning towards getting a bunch of Mo Vaughn cards.  He was one of my early favorites.

That's it for now.  There is a lot more to come as I expand back into more of a Red Sox team focus while waiting for new Connor Wong cards to come out.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Congratulations Adrian Beltre (And Todd Helton and Joe Mauer)!

Time for my Hall of Fame recap.  First of all, I want to recognize the newest Red Sox in Cooperstown: Adrian Beltre.

Beltre of course only spent one season in Boston and is the greatest One-Year Wonder in team history.  I will do a much longer post (my usual Red Sox in Cooperstown post) after he is officially inducted.  I am pretty sure he will wear a Rangers cap on his plaque.  This was his first year on the ballot.

And next, Todd Helton and Joe Mauer were also elected.  Helton was in his sixth year on the ballot and only ever played for the Rockies.  Mauer was in his first year on the ballot and only ever played for the Twins.  

Congratulations to all three new members of the Hall of Fame!

We should have had two Red Sox One-Year Wonders get elected, but apparently we can't have nice things.

I am disappointed that Billy Wagner was unable to join Beltre, Helton and Mauer.  He ended up at 73.8% of the vote, just five votes shy.  He was in his ninth year on the ballot, so he gets one more crack at it.  It is a not a sure thing that he will make it in.  There are going to be three strong first-year candidates next year (Ichiro Suzuki, C.C. Sabathia and Felix Hernandez), as well as Dustin Pedroia, who could build a case like Helton did.  Hopefully Wagner gets in.

And now, how did I do on my predictions?  I feel like I made some really bold predictions this year and did not do terribly well with the specifics.


1. Adrian Beltre gets in nearly unanimously. Two voters will not vote for him.

As noted above, Beltre got in, but it was not really all that close to unanimous.  He was elected with 95.1% of the vote, meaning 19 people did not vote for him.  That is ridiculous.  

2. Todd Helton and Billy Wagner squeak in.

Well, I got Helton, though with 79.7% of the vote, he did not really squeak in.  It wasn't a large margin, but it was comfortable.  I talked about Wagner above.  He missed it by five votes.

3. Gary Sheffield makes a big gain, but doesn't make it.

Sheffield gained 32 votes and increased almost nine percent, but at 63.9% total, he did not make it.  I was correct here.

4. Andruw Jones and Carlos Beltran gain big and position themselves for potential election next year.

Jones was only a modest gain, but he is at 61.6%.  That is not an imminent election, but with three years left, he could get there.  Beltran had a huge gain, 39 votes and nearly an 11% increase, but he is at just 57.1%.  Beltran has a lot more time left though, this was only his second year on the ballot.

5. Chase Utley and Joe Mauer have very strong first years but neither get in this year, both in position to get in next year.

I was legitimately surprised at Mauer.  He didn't make it by much (76.1%), but he made it in on his first ballot.  Utley was significantly less (28.8%).  He may take awhile.

6. David Wright has a reasonable first showing, breaking 40%.

Wright did not come close to 40%, he ended up with 6.2%.  He stays on the ballot, but he has a long way to go.  That does not bode particularly well for Dustin Pedroia next year who is far more like Wright than Utley or Mauer.

7. All other first-timers drop off the ballot.

This was correct.  Only Wright and Utley stay on the ballot for next year among those not elected.

8. Omar Vizquel continues to drop.

Vizquel was on his seventh ballot.  Last year, he received 76 votes, 19.6%.  This year, he received 68 votes, 17.7%.  He is going backwards, not that I am that upset about that.  I thought he was an overrated candidate before the allegations of domestic abuse and sexual harassment.  

Monday, January 22, 2024

Red Sox Awards History: MVP Pt. 2

The second iteration of the MVP Award was mostly the current form with one important caveat: player managers and previous winners were ineligible for future awards.  This form lasted from 1922 through 1929.  The result of this is that Babe Ruth was only able to win it once, otherwise he likely would have several MVP Awards to his name.  The award was voted on by one writer per city with a team in the league.  No Red Sox player won the award as this was an extremely dark time in Red Sox history.  Several players did receive votes though.


T-20th, 2 points
.337/.404/.497, 13 home runs, 98 RBIs, 164 hits, 72 runs
Boone was a great hitter, but his atrocious fielding cost him a long Major League career.  The Red Sox though needed a hitter and generally only had flawed players in the 1920's.  Boone led the team in home runs (fifth in the league), all three slash categories and OPS (seventh in the league) and walked substantially more than he struck out.  He was born in the wrong time.  He would have made a great DH. 

T-27th, 1 point
.330/.406/.479, nine home runs, 68 RBIs, 157 hits, 79 runs
His power numbers dipped a little bit, but the average remained high.  Boone again led the team in all three slash categories and OPS, and he was second on the team in home runs, hits, runs scored and doubles while walking more than three times as many times as he struck out.  On the downside, he led the league in errors by a right-fielder and found himself sold to a minor league team the next year.  He never again played regularly in the Majors.

T-21st, 2 points
.306/.341/.446, 12 home runs, 73 RBIs, 171 hits, 71 runs
A star with the Tigers, A's and Indians, Burns was Boston's top home run hitter in 1922.  No one else hit more than half as many as Burns's 12, and he was eighth in the league in that category.  He was also second on the team in average and slugging and fourth in on-base percentage.  He was acquired prior to the season in a deal with Cleveland for Stuffy McInnis.  The deal included Joe Harris, who will be discussed below.

10th, 8 points
.328/.386/.470, seven home runs, 82 RBIs, 181 hits, 91 runs
Burns was even better in 1923, though his home runs dropped.  He had Boston's highest finish in the 1923 AL MVP voting and was second in the league with 47 doubles.  Burns led the team in runs scored, hits and RBIs and was second in stolen bases (nine) and all three slash categories.  Burns also performed an interesting personal feat by turning an unassisted triple play.  After the season, he was dealt back to the Indians for a package including Bill Wambsganss (another player who turned an unassisted triple play) and Steve O'Neill.

T-11th, 7 points
20-17, 3.78 ERA, 121 strikeouts in 316.2 innings pitched
Boston acquired Ehmke in a package with the Tigers prior to the 1923 season for Del Pratt and Rip Collins.  Ehmke was one of Boston's best pitchers during the decade and finished fourth in the league in wins and strikeouts and second in complete games (28).  He led the team in most major pitching categories.  He also threw a no-hitter against the A's in September.  

T-15th, 5 points
19-17, 3.46 ERA, 119 strikeouts in 315 innings pitched.
Though Ehmke led the league in losses, he was still a very valuable and durable starter who also led in innings pitched and batters faced.  He again led the team in most major pitching categories, except ERA, where he was second.  He was fifth in the league in wins, fourth in strikeouts, ninth in ERA and second in complete games (26).

T-24th, 2 points
9-20, 3.73 ERA, 95 strikeouts in 260.2 innings pitched
Despite a very bad record, Ehmke still received a couple of votes for the MVP.  His record was much more a function of the fact that he pitched for a team with 47-105 record, as his 2.97 FIP will attest, he was actually still quite good even though his innings pitched dived.  Ehmke led the league in complete games with 22.  It was his last full season in Boston as he was traded partway through the 1926 season for a package including Slim Harriss and Baby Doll Jacobson, who will both be discussed below.

T-15th, 5 points
.307/.401/.421, five home runs, 43 RBIs, 172 hits, 106 runs
Flagstead tied Howard Ehmke in the MVP vote in 1924.  He was likely Boston's best player throughout the 1920's and was one of the few Red Sox players of the time period that showed ability in all five tools.  He was a particularly good fielder and finished among the league's leaders in putouts (third), assists (fifth) and fielding percentage (fourth, .975).  Flagstead led the team in runs and was second in hits.

T-7th, 10 points
.280/.356/.385, six home runs, 61 RBIs, 160 hits, 84 runs
I am not sure how Flagstead finished seventh in the MVP vote in 1925, for a 47-105 team, when he had arguably the worst year of his Red Sox tenure.  He was still decent enough, but he was not among the league leaders in any offensive category.  He did lead the league in assists (25) and was among the league leaders in other defensive categories, but his slash numbers were down from the year before.  he did lead the team in doubles (38).

T-23rd, 2 points
.299/.363/.429, three home runs, 31 RBIs, 124 hits, 65 runs
Flagstead played in just 98 games in 1926, so this is another surprise.  He was second on the team in all three slash categories and ended up being the team leader in OPS (.792) and OPS+ (110).  He was also third on the team in doubles (31) and tied for second in home runs.  He led the league in assists and was fourth in fielding percentage (.976).

T-18th, 3 points
.285/.374/.401, four home runs, 69 RBIs, 133 hits, 63 RBIs, 12 stolen bases
Healthy again, Flagstead put up another good season in 1927.  The Red Sox offense was horrific in 1927 so Flagstead ended up leading them in OBP, runs scored, RBIs and stolen bases and came close in virtually every other offensive category.  He led the league in fielding percentage (.985).  By OPS (.775) and OPS+ (104), Flagstead was easily Boston's best player.

14th, 5 points
.290/.366/.392, one home run, 39 RBIs, 148 hits, 84 runs
Flagstead's final full season in Boston saw him receive MVP votes, just like every other full season he spent in Boston.  He topped the team in runs scored and doubles (41, a career high).  He was actually sixth in the league in doubles.  He was also again in the top five in each major fielding category, including fourth in fielding percentage (.971).  The next season, he started strong, but was placed on waivers as he was 35.  They tried to trade him, but couldn't and ended up releasing him.  He was never again as productive.

T-18th, 3 points
.335/.406/.520, 13 home runs, 76 RBIs, 162 hits, 82 runs
Harris was acquired in the same deal that brought George Burns to Boston.  Like Burns, Harris was a terrific hitter, even though he was in his early 30's in an era in which most players declined significantly at his age.  He was ninth in the league in average, fifth in slugging, sixth in OPS (.925) and eighth in home runs.  He led the team in home runs and triples (eleven) and was second in hits and runs.

T-20th, 2 points
.301/.406/.430, three home runs, 77 RBIs, 148 hits, 82 runs
Moving to first base to take over for the departed Burns, Harris again had a quality season in 1924.  He led the team in OBP, triples (nine) and walks (81).  He took to first base well defensively and finished in the top five in a number of fielding categories, including finishing third in fielding percentage (.993).  Harris started the 1925 season in Boston but was traded to Washington for Roy Carlyle, who was a decent hitter.

25th, 1 point
14-21, 4.18 ERA, 77 strikeouts in 217.2 innings pitched
I do not really understand how Harriss got a vote here.  He was top on the team in wins, strikeouts and ERA, though neither number was particularly impressive.  He finished ninth in the league in strikeouts and led the league in losses.  He was a decent pitcher for a really bad team (Boston was 51-103 in 1927) and he was better than his ERA (3.31 FIP), but still, his MVP vote is not really warranted.  Harriss was acquired in the deal that sent Howard Ehmke out and was eventually traded for Alex Gaston and Russ Scarritt.

26th, 1 point
.299/.337/.436, eight home runs, 89 RBIs, 172 hits, 62 runs
Owner of one of the more colorful nicknames in baseball history, Jacobson started the 1926 season with the St. Louis Browns, for whom he played most of his career.  He was traded to the A's and then the same day traded again to the Red Sox in the Ehmke/Harriss deal.  Jacobson hit .305/.344/.447 with six of his home runs and 68 of his RBIs for Boston.  He was fourth in the league in doubles (51) and tenth in RBIs.  Jacobson was sold to Cleveland during the 1927 season.

T-15th, 4 points
19-15, 3.53 ERA, 104 strikeouts in 257.2 innings
Morris won 19 games for a team that went 57-96-1.  He was sixth in the league in wins, eighth in strikeouts, eighth in complete games (20) and seventh in innings pitched.  Morris was also credited with five saves when the stat became official.  He had an ERA+ of 115.  Morris was a really good pitcher for a bad team.  He would die suddenly in 1932 due to a mishap at a party in which he was stabbed.  Some reports state that he tried to swim away from his attacker and contracted an infection which led to his death.

9th, 11 points
.313/.379/.390, one home run, 44 RBIs, 168 hits, 78 runs, 30 stolen bases
The longtime Senators star was early in his career when he was traded to the Red Sox for Topper Rigney.  Myer played primarily third base and topped the team in average, OBP, hits and runs scored.  He led the league in stolen bases.  He was also among the league leaders in most defensive categories.  After the season, the cash-strapped Red Sox traded Myer back to the Senators for a package of five players, none of whom came close to Myer's productiveness.  Myer is a borderline Hall of Famer.

T-13th, 7 points
.301/.361/.427, six home runs, 86 RBIs, 183 hits, 73 runs
Boston made a lot of one-sided trades with the Yankees in the 1920's.  One that actually worked out okay was getting Pratt, along with Muddy Ruel for a package including Waite Hoyt.  Obviously Hoyt went on to a Hall of Fame career, but Pratt was a very good player.  He was second in the league in doubles (44) and led the team in hits, runs and RBIs.  Pratt was traded after the season in the deal that brought Howard Ehmke to Boston.  

T-22nd, 2 points
.274/.315/.408, two home runs, 66 RBIs, 128 hits, 43 runs
Regan was a very good defensive second-baseman who also managed to be reasonably decent with the bat.  He was actually second on the team in slugging percentage as a result of leading the team in doubles (37, ninth in the league) and second in triples (ten).  He was in the top five in the league in putouts, assists and double plays.  

T-25th, 1 point
.264/.296/.387, seven home runs, 75 RBIs, 135 hits, 53 runs
Though his offensive numbers slipped a little bit, Regan still notched 30 doubles (third on the team), six triples (third on the team) and was third on the team in home runs.  He was also once again third in the league in putouts, assists and double plays.  His .963 fielding percentage also ranked third in the league.  Regan played a couple more years in Boston, but his offense declined in 1930 and he was eventually waived and caught on with Pittsburgh.

T-21st, 3 points
.270/.395/.377, four home runs, 50 RBIs, 142 hits, 71 runs
The rare player who Boston purchased in the 1920's, Rigney rode his 108 walks (third in the league) to a team high in on-base percentage and runs scored.  Rigney was also second on the team in hits, doubles (31) and stolen bases (six).  He led the league in assists and was in the top five in putouts and double plays.  He played in just eight games with Boston in 1927 before being sent to Washington for Buddy Myer, a deal that worked out better for Boston.

T-22nd, 2 points
.259/.302/.360, one home run, 36 RBIs, 111 hits, 61 runs
At just 22 years of age and in his first full Major League season, Rothrock received MVP votes for the only time in his career.  He played every infield position in 1927 and was second on the team in runs scored and third in triples (eight).  Rothrock did not play often enough at any position to rank among the league leaders in any category, but he was well-regarded defensively.  He played several more seasons in Boston before being traded to the White Sox in a deal for Bennie Tate, Smead Jolley and others.

T-27th, 1 point
.278/.343/.439, 11 home runs, 75 RBIs, 151 hits, 62 runs
In his first full season in the Majors, Todt led the Red Sox in home runs, RBIs, triples (13, fourth in the league) and was third in doubles (29), OPS (.782) and OPS+ (98).  He also finished second in the league in double plays and fielding percentage (.991) and third in assists and putouts.  At some point, Todt was nearly traded to the Yankees for Lou Gehrig, but Boston, reeling from bad trade after bad trade with the Yankees, turned it down.

T-16th, 5 points
.255/.306/.362, seven home runs, 70 RBIs, 153 hits, 56 runs
Todt's numbers declined a fair amount in 1926, but he still received some votes.  He was ninth in the league in triples (12) and led the league in putouts and assists.  He was fourth in fielding percentage (.988).  He led the team in home runs and RBIs, though neither number was particularly impressive.  His OPS+ was just 77 and most of his value was due to his defense.

T-25th, 1 point
.236/.280/.337, six home runs, 52 RBIs, 122 hits, 55 runs
Once again Todt led the Red Sox in home runs with just six.  He was third on the team in RBIs, runs an doubles and fourth in hits and triples.  He was second in the league in putouts and assists and third in fielding percentage (.991).  It was not a good year for Todt.