A Class Of One

With the unneeded lockout still in full effect, the baseball world had nothing to distract it yesterday from the small hamlet of Cooperstown in upstate New York, where the votes were tallied, and the 2021 Hall of Fame class completed with one additional member.  Former Red Sox DH David Ortiz scored 77.9% of the vote to earn enshrinement in his first election.

Six others tallied greater than 50% of the vote, led by Barry Bonds, who jumped up to 66% in his final go around on the ballot.  Roger Clemens was right behind him at 65.2% and will also leave his fate to the veteran’s committee.  Scott Rolen saw another big jump, rising to 63.2% and looks like he’s on track to eventually make it.  Curt Schilling, who threw a temper tantrum after not getting elected last year, saw a bit drop and ended his 10-year run with 58.6% of the vote.  Todd Helton and Billy Wagner continued to make strides, coming in at 52% and 51%, respectively, though Helton has more time on his side to make a good run towards induction.

On the local front, former White Sox outfielder Andruw Jones saw a large increase, going up to 41.1%.  Manny Ramirez, who spent a little more than a month with the White Sox, stayed about even, finishing with 28.9% of the vote thanks to his multiple PED suspensions.  The disgraced Omar Vizquel, who added sexual abuse of an autistic teen to the spousal abuse charges that had popped up the previous year, dropped even further, to 23.9%.  In his last go-around, former Cub superstar Sammy Sosa saw a small increase to 18.5%.  Jimmy Rollins, who spent the final 41 games of his career on the south side, picked up 9.4% in his first go-around.  Mark Buehrle saw his percentage cut in half, to 5.8%. but lives to fight another day.  Justin Morneau, who spent the final 58 games of his career with the White Sox, picked up 5 votes.  A.J. Pierzynski scored 2, while his former battery mate Jake Peavy was tossed a shutout.

Fifteen players will fall off the ballot, either due to reaching 10 years or failing to score 5% of the vote.

As for the newest Hall of Famer, I’ve seen Ortiz play 24 times, including the 2005 ALDS.  He joins Bud Fowler, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva and Buck O’Neil, who were elected by the veteran’s committees in December, in the class of 2022.  They will all get their day in the sun on Sunday, July 24.

David Ortiz’s numbers in games I’ve attended were: Continue reading →

By The Numbers – 24

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #24.  104 different players have donned #24 while playing in Chicago, 49 for the White Sox and 55 for the Cubs.

Joe Crede earned a September call-up from Double A in 2000, and, wearing #24, made his major league debut on September 12, replacing Herbert Perry and going 0-1 in the Tigers 10-3 victory at Comiskey Park.  Crede appeared in 7 games, making the most of his 14 at bats, and finished with a .357 average.  Crede got another cup of coffee with the big league club in September of 2001, earning a little more playing time, but he was less successful, finishing with a .220 average in 50 at bats over 17 games.  Crede returned to the White Sox for good in July of 2002.  On August 12, he hit his first major league home run off of former teammate James Baldwin and he finished with 12 home runs, 35 RBIs, and a .285 average.  Crede established himself as the starting third baseman in 2003.  He appeared in a career high 151 games and launched 19 home runs with 75 RBIs while posting a .261 average.  He struggled in 2004, seeing his average drop to .239 while hitting 21 home runs with 69 RBIs.

In 2005, Crede started to come in to his own.  While he improved his average to .252 and hit 22 home runs with 62 RBIs, he came alive in the second half, culminating with a game winning, and possible season saving, home run in the 10th inning against the Indians on September 20, which pushed the White Sox to a 3.5 game lead and propelled them into the playoffs.  Crede had a rough series in the ALDS against the Red Sox, getting only 1 hit in 9 at bats, but rebounded in the ALCS and World Series, hitting .368 and .294 respectively, with 2 home runs in each series.  2006 was Joe Crede’s breakout season.  He hit .283 with career highs in home runs, with 30, and RBIs, with 94, winning his first, and only, Silver Slugger award.  A back injury in 2007 limited him to 47 games and only 4 home runs.  He returned with a bang in 2008, hitting a grand slam on opening day against the Twins and parlayed a good first half into his first All Star selection, but the back injury recurred and kept him out for most of the second half of the season, including the playoffs, thus ending his White Sox career.

On the north side of town, Dexter Fowler joined Cubs via trade prior to the 2015 season.  Donning #24, he ended the year with a .250 average, 102 runs scored, 46 RBIs, 17 home runs, and 20 stolen bases as the Cubs made a surprise run for the NL Wild Card.  Fowler helped propel the Cubs to the NLDS, putting up three hits, three runs scored, a home run, and a stolen base in defeating the Pirates.  In nine postseason games, Fowler batted .396 with two home runs and three RBIs, as the Cubs made it to the NLCS against the Mets.

Fowler became a free agent after the season and was unsigned into the start of spring training.  Despite reportedly agreeing to a three-year contract with the Orioles, Fowler arrived in Cubs camp and signed a one year deal.  And what a year it was.  Fowler finished the year with a .276 average, 13 home runs, 48 RBIs, and 84 runs scored as the Cubs won the NL Central.  Fowler’s .333 average with 4 RBI helped the Cubs win the NLCS against the Dodgers, advancing to the World Series for the first time since 1945.  On October 25, 2016, Dexter Fowler became the first African-American to appear and to bat for the Cubs in a World Series game.  Fowler led off Game 7 of the World Series with a home run, becoming the first player in history to do so, and helping the Cubs win 8–7 in 10 innings, giving the team their first championship in 108 years.

By The Numbers – 33

In 1929, uniform numbers appeared on the back of baseball jerseys for the first time, thanks to the Indians and the Yankees.  By 1937, numbers finally appeared across all uniforms, both home and away, across both major leagues.  Since that time, 81 distinct numbers have been worn by members of the White Sox, while the Cubs boast 76.

Today, we continue our look at those players, picking our favorite, if not the best, player to wear each uniform number for both Chicago teams with #33.  60 different players have donned #33 while playing in Chicago, 22 for the White Sox and 48 for the Cubs, including a World Series champion.

Aaron Rowand joined the White Sox organization in 1998, selected in the first round of the draft.  He earned his first call up to the show on June 15, 2001 and made his major league debut the following day.  He took over as the starting center fielder in 2002 following the mid-season trade of Kenny Lofton.  Rowand switched to #33 in 2003, but earned a return trip to Triple A in 2003 after hitting .133 in his first 60 games.  After a little more than a month, he returned to the big leagues, hitting .387 the rest of the way and ending the season with a .287 average.

2004 was a breakout year for Rowand, becoming a  full time starter for the first time and setting career highs with a .310 average and .905 OPS.  The good times continued in 2005, as he hit .270 with 13 home runs and, defensively, committed only 3 errors in 394 chances.  Rowand went 4 for 10 against the Red Sox in the ALDS, driving in 2 runs and scoring 3 more in the 3 game sweep.  In the ALCS against the Angels, Rowand managed only 3 hits in the 5 game series, all doubles.  He bounced back in the World Series, going 5-17 against the Astros as the White Sox won their first title in 88 years.  Less than a month after the final out of the World Series, Rowand, among others, was traded to the Phillies for Jim Thome.

On the north side of town, a rookie donned #33 when he made his major league debut on July 30th, 1983.  Joe Carter would appear in 23 games for the Cubs that season, hitting .176 without a home run.  He made his biggest mark for the Cubs the following June, when he was packaged, along with Mel Hall, Don Schulze, and Darryl Banks, in a trade with the Indians which netted Ron Hassey, George Frazier and, of course, Rick Sutcliffe.

2021 Final Standings

The 2021 season, at least the portion which would see me attending games, has come to an end after the White Sox lost to the Astros in the ALDS 3-1.  After a year without in-person baseball thanks to the corona virus, I ended up attending the most games I’ve seen since 2009 and my 5th highest total of all time.  I also managed to travel to four different stadiums, bringing my total up to 27.  All told, I managed to see 25 of the 30 teams a year after seeing none.

2021 Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Tampa Bay Rays 3 0 1.000
New York Yankees 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 1 0 1.000
Philadelphia Phillies 1 0 1.000
Los Angeles Angels 1 0 1.000
San Francisco Giants 1 0 1.000
Boston Red Sox 1 0 1.000
Seattle Mariners 2 1 0.667
Chicago White Sox 29 20 0.592
Cleveland Indians 3 3 0.500
Kansas City Royals Continue reading →

Division Series Batting Leaders

Both Wild Card games are in the books, with the Red Sox and the Dodgers moving on to their respective DSs, and the White Sox look to kick off their series with the Astros later today.  With that in mind, it’s time to take our first look at the offensive leaders from the 16 Division Series games I have attended since 2000.  So, without further ado, we start off with:

Home Runs

Name Total
B.J. Upton 3
Eric Karros 2
Paul Konerko 2
A.J. Pierzynski 2
Manny Ramirez 2
Chipper Jones 2

Hits

Name Total
Mark DeRosa 7
Manny Ramirez 5
A.J. Pierzynski 5
Jason Heyward 5
Javier Baez 5
Moises Alou 5
Derrek Lee 5
Carlos Pena 5

Runs

Name Total
Paul Konerko 5
Mark DeRosa 4
Manny Ramirez 4
A.J. Pierzynski 4
B.J. Upton 3
Juan Uribe 3
Continue reading →

All Time Division Series Team Records

We’ve gotten through 162 games and the post-season is set.  The White Sox travel to Houston to take on the Astros in the ALDS.  I seem to remember something good happening the last time these two teams met up in the post-season.

Normally, I would take a renewed view of the team records for the 30 playoff contests I have attended.  Thanks to the corona virus pandemic that kept fans home last season, however, nothing has changed since I looked at those records last year.  Instead, I figured it was worth our while to focus on the Division Series for the first time and see how teams have performed in the 16 games I’ve attended in that first playoff round from 2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Division Series Team Records
Team Name Won Loss Winning Pctg
Seattle Mariners 2 0 1.000
Los Angeles Dodgers 2 0 1.000
Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000
Washington Nationals 1 1 0.500
Tampa Bay Rays 1 1 0.500
Chicago White Sox 3 3 0.500
Chicago Cubs 5 5 0.500
Atlanta Braves 1 1 0.500
St. Louis Cardinals 0 1 0.000
San Francisco Giants 0 2 0.000
Boston Red Sox 0 2 0.000

2021 Predictions Revisited

What a difference six months makes.  Back in March, at the dawn of the 2021 baseball season, I made my annual predictions as to who would win what with little idea if the season would go off as planned.  Now that the regular season has come to an end, it is time revisit those predictions and see what, if anything, I got right.

American League

East: Yankees

Well, that’s one down.  Despite losing two starting pitchers from last year’s staff, the Rays managed to repeat as champs of the AL East.

Central: Twins

I was all set to go with the White Sox here, until a late injury to Eloy Jimenez in spring training left me feeling bad.  The Twins fell off the face of the Earth, while the White Sox overcame injuries all season to cruise to their first division title since 2008.

West: Astros

Hey, here’s one I got right.  The Astros return to the top of the division after a one year break.

Wild Cards: White Sox, Blue Jays

Talk about coming down to the wire.  With a potential 4-way tie for the two Wild Card spots heading in to the final day of the season, the Yankees and the Red Sox both took control of their destinies with victories on Sunday, leaving the Blue Jays and the Mariners on the outside looking in.

AL Champion: Yankees

The Rays do seem to be the class of the league.

Cy Young: Lucas Giolito

That seems very unlikely.  Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray seems like a popular choice.

MVP: Aaron Judge

A fine choice, but who could have seen Shohei Ohtani coming?  The two-way Angels star will run away and hide with this award.

National League

Continue reading →