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Updated: 2018-03-21T09:00:02-04:00


Assessing Noah Syndergaard’s Cy Young odds


The New York Mets’ ace looks really good this spring. In some good news for the Mets and their fans, Noah Syndergaard has shown up camp this spring looking as good — and as healthy — as ever. Syndergaard made just seven starts in 2017, missing most of the year due to biceps tendinitis and a partially torn lat muscle. Through five spring starts, Syndergaard has pitched 20 innings, allowing three earned runs and posting a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 23:6. The numbers, while obviously good to see, do not matter — it’s spring training, and Syndergaard’s average opponent quality, according to Baseball-Reference, has been an 8.6 out of 10 thus far, equivalent to a Quad-A talent. That’s not what’s important, though. What is important, however, is Syndergaard’s stuff. Check out this 92-mph slider that froze Jose Altuve from Feb. 26: GIF via Altuve’s reaction is hilarious. What a pitch. In his two innings against the Astros, Syndergaard seemed amped up. Of his 22 pitches that day, 11 of them registered as 100-mph or greater on the radar gun. Syndergaard was lighting it up. Then, on March 3, in his second start, Syndergaard again turned up the heat, zipping his fastball by hitters with 100+ once again. Syndergaard looked so good, in fact, that some reporters asked him if he was overthrowing. And on March 8, Syndergaard struck out seven consecutive Nationals hitters in a 3 1⁄3-inning outing. “Who is freaking out?” Syndergaard told reporters on Friday. “People with no baseball expertise? I am not too concerned people saying there is a harm in throwing too hard, too early. If I am already there at this point and I am capable of doing that, then how is it too early? I wasn’t overthrowing. I was throwing free and easy. ... That’s not something I can worry about. I was under control.” If Syndergaard’s “free and easy” pitching continues throughout the season, then what are the chances that he could contend for the National League Cy Young award this year? He certainly has the capability to do it. In 2016 — the only 30+ start season of his career to this point — Syndergaard posted a 14-9 record with a 2.60 ERA over 183 2⁄3 innings pitched. Advanced metrics loved him, too, as his 218:43 strikeout-to-walk ratio gave him very favorable FIP (2.29) and xFIP (2.67) marks. Overall, Syndergaard was worth 6.4 fWAR, making him the most valuable pitcher in baseball. There was a solid argument for Syndergaard to win the award in that season, but it ended up going to Max Scherzer, whose 284 strikeouts, 228 1⁄3 innings pitched and 20 wins certainly looked better to the voters. Syndergaard, in fact, finished in eighth. Syndergaard’s phenomenal 2016 season made him a trendy pick to win the 2017 Cy Young award. In Las Vegas, Syndergaard had the second-best odds to win the award, behind only Clayton Kershaw. But in the end, due to Syndergaard’s (and Kershaw’s) injuries, it went again to Scherzer, who collected the hardware for the third time in his career. Now, Syndergaard once again has a chance to unseat Scherzer, granted he stays healthy. The only way I can see Syndergaard winning the 2018 Cy Young award is if he surpasses 200 innings, a number many voters like to see as proof of durability. One of the reasons Scherzer has won his trio of Cy Youngs, aside from his excellent pitching, has been his characteristic durability — he’s thrown 200+ innings in five consecutive years. That brings me back to Syndergaard, who has actually never thrown 200 innings at any point over his professional career. This significantly impacts his chances, but if he is able to stay as healthy as he looks right now (which is a big question), he will absolutely remain in the running. Another problem remains, though: The National League is loaded with good pitching. Even outside of Scherzer and Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, Jake Arrieta (if he regains his old form), Zack Greinke and Jacob deGrom could all compete for the Cy Young next year. On the outside[...]

The Phillies make a great move for Jake Arrieta


The NL East race just got a lot more interesting. In a world where baseball contracts are fully guaranteed, it’s always tough to justify a long-term deal to any free agent which often guarantees having to pay for a player’s decline. Unfortunately for the players, however, all 30 MLB teams have seemingly realized this all at once, and salaries have been suppressed more in the 2017-18 offseason than in almost any other offseason in recent memory. We are living in a world in which Mike Moustakas received only $6.5 million guaranteed, even after hitting 38 home runs last season. Despite giving out some of the highest contracts to players among any of the teams, the Phillies have successfully taken advantage of this market. Philadelphia pounced early and often in the free agent market, signing relievers Tommy Hunter (2-years, $18 million) and Pat Neshek (2-years, $16.25 million) to fairly substantial deals in what has been a slow offseason. They also added Carlos Santana in one of the offseason’s biggest contracts, a three-year, $60 million deal (only six players had earned larger guarantees than Santana before his big deal). The Phillies recently announced that they have officially signed right-handed starting pitcher Jake Arrieta to a three-year, $75 million deal. That’s huge news—Arrieta was the last marquee free agent on the board, the Phillies flexed their financial muscle once again to go out and get him. But the deal works in their favor for a multitude of reasons, even with the $25 million per year guarantee notwithstanding. The Phillies structured the Arrieta deal in such a way that allows them to have payroll flexibility going forward. He will make $30 million this year, a figure that would seem like a huge investment for most teams. The Phillies, however, are not most teams. The team was estimated to carry just $67.4 million in payroll prior to the Arrieta signing, per Baseball-Reference. With a recent TV deal and the market size of Philadelphia, bringing that payroll up to $97.4 million with just one add will not hurt them at all. Back during their postseason runs from 2007 to 2011, the Phillies regularly carried paryolls above $150 million, and in 2011 theier total payroll inched upwards of $172 million in total payroll. The Phillies are filled with cheap, young talent that gives them the flexibility to devote nearly a third of the entire team’s money to just one player. And, as Arrieta gets further into the deal, the guaranteed dollars become fewer. He’s slated to earn just $25 million in 2018 and $20 million in 2019 before completely falling off the books. This gives the Phillies even more flexibility to sign big name free agents during the 2018-19 or 2019-20 offseasons. Those additions could be in the form of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado or even Philly native and advid Eagles and 76ers supporter Mike Trout. Arrieta could help the Phillies’ recruit these free agents, too. The team is expected to take a big jump forward in 2018 after winning just 66 games last year. If they improve but still do not make the playoffs, it might be tough to attract big name free agents. Arrieta should be able to help with that, too. In terms of intangibles, Arrieta helps there too. He’s pitched in a World Series, thrown two no-hitters and won the 2015 National League Cy Young award. With a young Phillies staff that includes Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta, Arrieta not only becomes the ace, but he also becomes the veteran and mentor to four potentially promising young starting pitchers. That, too, carries a ton of value. But let’s not forget that Arrieta isn’t a bad pitcher by any means. While he isn’t what he used to be three years ago, the now-32-year old, Arrieta is certainly a huge upgrade over whomever the Phillies planned on pitching in the fifth rotation spot, whether that’d be Ben Lively or Mark Leiter Jr. In 2017, Arrieta logged 168 1⁄3 innings to the tune of a 3.53 ERA and a 4.16 FIP (4.11 xFIP). He had a 163-55 str[...]

Trade Retrospective: Rangers acquire Ryan Dempster and Geovany Soto from the Cubs


The Rangers made a good trade, but the Cubs scored Kyle Hendricks in the deal. For the third straight offseason, BtBS is looking back on some of the biggest trades from years past. Check out all the entries here. Moments before the 2012 trade deadline, the Cubs struck a deal to send Ryan Dempster to the Rangers. Prospects Christian Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks were sent to Chicago. Earlier that day the Rangers acquired Geovany Soto in a separate trade for Jacob Brigham. In this trade retrospective series, trades will be evaluated based on what was known at the time. That is the only fair, logical way to evaluate trades and strip luck out of the equation: process over results. Having said that, we will still take a look at how the trade worked out for both parties. The Deal Last week, I covered how the Cubs were positioned in 2012 when they executed the Paul Maholm trade. In short, they were tanking and selling off any players of value. Ryan Dempster was in the midst of what was easily the best run of his career. He had a 2.42 RA9 and had already accumulated 3.5 bWAR. Dempster’s best run average over a full season was a 3.27 RA9, so as you might imagine, a 35-year-old performing so much better than that raises some red flags. There were many signs that Dempster’s performance was completely unsustainable. He had a mediocre 20 percent K-rate, a .242 BABIP against, and he benefited from an 84 percent strand rate. His line drive rate was actually a bit high, which really belied his stellar run average. Interestingly enough, his 2.89 DRA was not too much higher than his RA9. Even though he would just be a rental, the Cubs were in an excellent position to sell high. The Rangers were in first place, leading the Angels by three games. Clearly they were doing well, but they needed to patch some holes. The Angels had the best player in baseball in Mike Trout, they had acquired Zack Greinke, and Texas knew a three game lead could be easily overcome in two months. An obvious spot for an upgrade was the back of the Rangers’ rotation. Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis, and Yu Darvish were a great top of the rotation, combining for a 3.76 RA9 in the first half. As for the rest of the rotation, Derek Holland performed poorly early on in the season, and eventually went on the disabled list with left shoulder fatigue. Scott Feldman had a 5.67 RA9 and 16.2 K%. Neftali Feliz pitched well as a starter, but he was just about to have Tommy John surgery. Roy Oswalt had debuted a little over a month earlier, and in six starts he had a 7.11 RA9, 18.4 K%, and had given up seven home runs. We might never know if the Rangers believed that Dempster would continue pitching so well. Given what they parted with for him, I would speculate that they saw regression coming. That being said, his three previous years averaged a 4.59 RA9, so even that would be a big upgrade over Oswalt or Feldman. It is important to note that Dempster had 10-and-5 rights, meaning he could reject a trade. It was rumored that he would only accept a trade to the Dodgers. It is great for a player to be able to direct where he is going to work, but that strips his team of a lot of leverage. The Dodgers refused to part with Allen Webster as part of the deal (although they would trade him to Boston a month later), so the Cubs were stuck. Perhaps not wanting to play for an uncompetitive team any longer, Dempster opened up his possible trade destinations to the Yankees and Rangers. He ended up with the team that originally drafted him in 1995. Christian Villanueva only cracked the top 100 prospects list at one major outlet, Baseball America, where he just barely made it at 100. He was undersized and lacked power, but he was a good defensive third baseman. Scouts believed that his defense and ability to hit would make him an average third baseman. Kyle Hendricks had excellent control, but his below-average velocity and lack of an out pitch really limited his projected ceiling (he was not on any top ten or twenty [...]

Righting the wrong for the players most affected by the PED-era


Reassigning steroid-era MVPs and Cy Youngs as best we can. What if someone told you Randy Johnson won seven Cy Young Awards not five, or that Albert Pujols won five MVP awards rather than three? Would you want to know how? The case can be made that they did, and the answer lies in bestowing titles on them that were won by players using PEDs during the years in question. This important point seems to be completely absent when Joe Morgan and so many others plea to restrict steroid users from the baseball Hall of Fame. While preserving a stalemate and punishing those who succumbed to PED use, it does not right the wrongs to presumed non-steroid using contemporaries who lost batting titles, home run titles, MVP awards and Cy Young to these players via enhanced production. In addition to luminaries Johnson and Pujols above, Luis Gonzalez, Adrian Beltre, Mark Mulder and Dontrelle Willis among others were also cheated out of deserved recognition. Restoring those titles should be a priority in resolving this issue. Restricting Hall admission to PED users also ignores the fact that many steroid users had Hall of Fame careers before using steroids. Finally, it fails to recognize that Major League Baseball could have done more to curb this “competitive edge” during this time period. A better, albeit partial solution, is to offer legal immunity to steroid users that acknowledge the years of their use and also relinquish any and all awards, home run titles, batting titles, Cy Young awards etc. during this time period. The Hall would have discretion to evaluate the players’ credibility, and the non-steroid using balance of their career in making Hall entry decisions. The Hall should recognize the role MLB had in this era, and the public should not be led to leave responsibility for this with convenient scapegoats, albeit “cheaters.” Many believe MLB was complicit in allowing this activity to flourish. This scenario would not guarantee entry to the Hall of Fame, but it could serve to allow the worthiest of these individuals entry to the hall and correct the substantial and largely unseen wrongs done to their contemporaries and the integrity of the game. Looking at Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the two baseball players most closely associated with this issue, shows the value of this approach—which democratizes and corrects the wrongful hoarding of so many awards by PED users and bestows on many worthy awardees including some who clearly could have benefited from using PEDs to assist with later, injury-prone years in their careers. BONDS AND CLEMENS: WHEN DID STEROID USE APPEAR TO COMMENCE For both players, it is generally accepted that they put together Hall of Fame careers before they started using PEDs, but there were also somewhat clear lines of demarcation before and after their use. BARRY BONDS Year 2000 to his Retirement For Bonds, he had to watch Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa steal his shine in the 1998 and 1999 seasons, as they both topped 61 home runs each of those two seasons, completely capturing the imagination of the league and the baseball world as a whole. Bonds missed significant time for the first time in his career during the 1999 season, and when he came back, hit a career-high 49 homers in 2000 before his record-breaking 73 in 2001. Bonds won MVP awards in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. He led the league in home runs in 2001 and won the batting title in 2002 and 2004. ROGER CLEMENS Year 1997 to his retirement For Clemens, he was fresh off a three-year stretch (1994-1996) in Boston in which he missed around 25 starts and wasn’t the same old Clemens (29-25 with a 3.53 ERA those three seasons) before heading to Toronto and becoming a completely new man. Clemens would win Cy Young awards in 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2004. Clemens had won the ERA title in 1997, 1998, and 2005. THE ROAD NOT TAKEN RIGHTFUL AWARD/TITLE RECIPIENTS: 1997 to 2005 Here are the [supposed] non-PED players who would have won the awards and ti[...]

What’s the hold-up with Greg Holland?


In this slow offseason it was the relievers who saw most of the action in the early stages of the hot stove. Except Greg Holland, who is still looking for work. The justified hand-wringing over this year’s free-agent class has been the story of the offseason. Are the teams colluding? Maybe, but out-and-out collusion seems a tad far-fetched. Have front offices become too similar in their thinking and valuation? Yeah, probably. Did the cream of the 2017 free-agent crop have flaws big enough to warrant trepidation from potential suitors? Most definitely. All of that is fine and good and true; complex questions like this usually have nuanced, multi-faceted answers. But before we felt the tension boil over in a stalemate between teams and players, almost all of the prominent available relievers had been snapped-up early in the free-agent process, with most finding a home at the Winter Meetings. The notable exception was Greg Holland, who still hasn’t signed. Not only is Greg Holland still unsigned, but if you Google his name, the most recent article on his availability was written over a week ago. (Here you go, it links him potentially to the Angels, among others.) What’s the hold up with Greg Holland? Why is he among the free-agents still looking for work while most of his relief-pitching brethren enjoy a full spring training with their new teams? Here’s a list of all of the relievers who signed this off-season for multiple years and at least $10 million total. Wade Davis was always going to get this offseason’s biggest relief contract. Despite his rising walk rate and falling velocity, he was clearly the best option available. And yet, Davis was still only able to muster a three-year deal. Apart from Davis there were plenty of solid relief options, but none were what you might consider “elite” — Holland included. This is a website that typically dives deeply into a player’s performance, but a look at some surface numbers shows why it was absolutely insane for Greg Holland to decline the qualifying offer received from the Rockies worth $17.4 million for one year. A look at a graph of his 15-game rolling average of both ERA and FIP last season paints a clear picture of how Holland’s 2017 transpired. It takes a lot more than ERA and FIP to evaluate a pitcher, but this is a nice snapshot of his season in the macro sense. Graph via FanGraphs If Holland’s performance hadn’t gone in the tank in the last third of the season he might well have been able to approach Wade Davis money (or at least get closer than anyone else). But one year removed from Tommy John surgery, Holland saw his numbers crater as the 2017 season advanced. Erstwhile FanGraphs Managing Editor Dave Cameron wrote about Holland’s struggles in late-August and attributed them to a decline of both velocity and command. The lasting memory of Holland as he hit free agency was that of a pitcher struggling. He really should have taken that qualifying offer. Earlier this offseason Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs posited a theory that teams might be wary of signing Jake Arrieta due to the perceived lack of interest from the Cubs. They are the club that knew him best and if they were reticent to bring him back, it could indicate that they have some damning proprietary information that the 29 other clubs aren’t privy to. Now consider that three of the four largest reliever contracts this offseason were given out by the Rockies, Holland’s former team. As with Sullivan’s theory on Arrieta and the Cubs, the Rockies clear intention to spend money on their bullpen combined with a seeming lack of interest in Holland does raise some red flags. There is a wrinkle to this theory, one that potentially renders it null and void. Both Jake Arrieta and Greg Holland are represented by Scott Boras. As the most outspoken and influential agent in baseball, Boras is often accused of overplaying his hand. Sometimes his[...]

Marty’s Musings: the spring hot stove


Spring Training is finally here despite the hot stove still being active. A strange welcome back to our favorite game. Welcome to ‘Marty’s Musings’, my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the news and notes throughout baseball, in preparation for Opening Day, 2018. In this week’s Musings, we celebrate the return of admittedly meaningless games, take a look at some of the free agent signings, assess the current projected standings for 2018. News and Notes 5 / 110 - Years and dollars for J.D. Martinez, one of the foremost free agents who remained unsigned until Mid-February. This was a match that really needed to happen, as the Red Sox needed Martinez’ bat badly (last in the AL in home runs in 2017) and Martinez did not seem to have too many suitors. The deal includes two opt-outs, which are becoming commonplace in multi-year deals. 19.44 - FanGraph’s projected WAR, per Steamer, for the Cubs 2018 rotation. With the addition of Yu Darvish, who Chicago inked on a six-year, $126 million deal, Chicago’s rotation is projected to be close to what it was in 2016. The 31-year-old held out quite a while (the common theme in this year’s free agent class) but ultimately landed on a contender that had the cash to spend and the desire to add to a rotation that previously had Mike Montgomery slated as their number-five starter. 6 - Mound visit limits that MLB announced as part of their pace-of-play initiative. The pitch clock was tabled, but the mound visit limitation includes visits by coaches, managers, and all position players including catchers. Of course, there are no consequences should someone go over this limit, so the real effects will be determined. At the very least, we may get some fun arguments out of this...arguments that will ironically and inevitably waste time. Sigh. 71 - Wins projected for the Padres, who signed first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million front-loaded deal. The contract guarantees Hosmer an average annual value of $21 million in the first five years, and $13 million in the back three. The Padres payroll was a measly $70 million, so it’s good to see a team spend, however Hosmer’s inconsistency raises questions as to how this will play out over time. Hosmer has had four seasons of between -0.5 and 1.0 WAR, which isn’t very encouraging. 60 - Despite some big signings over the past couple weeks, there are still close to 60 free agents sitting on the market, some of whom carry quite a bit of value, though come with their own flaws. Jake Arrieta, Mike Moustakas, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, and Logan Morrison remain unsigned. Arrieta is only 2 full seasons removed from his Cy Young award winning stint, and Logan Morrison last year accumulated nearly as much value as Hosmer. We’re moving into Hot Spring Training season. 4 - Divisions that are projected to end with at least a 17-game disparity between first and second place. While it’s true, baseball is unpredictable, the disparities between good and bad teams looks to be accentuated going into the season. Only the AL East is projected to be close (two games between the Red Sox and Yankees) with the NL Central next-closest, with six games seperating the Cubs and Brewers. The standings don’t account for strength of schedule yet, but hopefully there are multiple pennant races come this fall. 1 - Player who has gone down with needing Tommy John Surgery. The injury plague continues to attack MLB, as Rays’ starter Brent Honeywell left the field last week with pain in his forearm. Honeywell was primed to be a key member of the Rays rotation as he pitched well in Double and Triple-A in 2017, earning a 3.49 ERA across 26 starts in the minors. ---- 31 - Days until Opening Day! Correction: Yu Darvish age has been adjusted *** Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributi[...]

Trade Retrospective: Cubs trade Paul Maholm to the Braves


The Braves paid a high price for some rotation help. For the third straight offseason, BtBS is looking back on some of the biggest trades from years past. Check out all the entries here. Right before the 2012 trade deadline, the Cubs traded Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta. In return, the Braves sent back two prospects in Arodys Vizcaíno and Jaye Chapman. In this trade retrospective series, trades will be evaluated based on what was known at the time. That is the only fair, logical way to evaluate trades and strip luck out of the equation: process over results. Having said that, we will still take a look at how the trade worked out for both parties. The Deal Less than a year into his tenure with the Cubs, Theo Epstein was very busy with a difficult rebuild. The North-siders were tanking hard and trading away any players of value. As a back of the rotation starter, Paul Maholm did not exactly scream “value,” but he did have some, and Epstein was smart enough to maximize the return. It might be confusing to hear that the Cubs had actually signed Maholm as a free agent during the previous offseason. Why would a tanking team do that? Well, a tanking organization still needs to field a team, and Maholm was signed for dirt cheap, meaning any upside could potentially return decent younger players in a trade. The contract was worth only $4.2 million for 2012 with a $6.5 million team option for 2013. Though he struggled in 2010, he bounced back nicely in 2011 with a 3.99 RA9 and 2.5 bWAR. Maholm’s problem was always that he could not strike anybody out, but his high groundball rates helped compensate. Maholm’s contract was a great deal for a durable, back-end starter, and as Chicago had likely hoped, It also provided great trade bait. Either trade him to further the Cubs rebuild, or decline his team option and lose only $4.2 million on the gamble. The Braves were at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Cubs. They were 58-44 and 3.5 games behind the first place Nationals. If they could not muster enough wins to take the division, they could at least compete for a Wild Card spot. Their starting rotation was in good shape, but with the NL playoff race so tight Atlanta needed to take any opportunity they could to improve. Losing Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgery the month before was a big blow. He had an excellent 2.67 RA9 before his injury, and Jair Jurrjens’s had a 6.47 RA9 in his place. Jurrjens pitched well the prior year, but was barely above replacement level in 2010. The playoff race allowed little room for error, so the Braves could not afford to see if Jurrjens would regress to the mean. Kris Medlen was not ready to be put back in the rotation. Ben Sheets was signed earlier in the month, and he had been excellent in three starts, but given his extensive injury history it would be unwise to rely on him to be healthy for the rest of the season. The Braves also needed some outfield depth. Jason Heyward, Michael Bourn, and Martín Prado were having excellent seasons, but the team knew they would benefit from additional depth. A good fourth outfielder, preferably a right-handed bat who could platoon with Bourn or Heyward against tough lefties, made the most sense, and Reed Johnson fit that description nicely. A back-end starter and a fourth outfielder might not sound like much, but prices increase at the trade deadline, and the Braves appeared eager for any help at all. Epstein was able to leverage that beautifully. Vizcaíno was a prospect with a high ceiling but a low floor. He had the potential to be a top of the rotation starter, but his injury history and recent Tommy John Surgery posed some serious risk. Chapman was an organizational arm whose ceiling was seen as having the ceiling of a middle reliever. Reasonable people can disagree as to how high the price was that the Braves paid. It all depends on how much the scout[...]

Book excerpt: Ted Williams, and the question of who had the best six-year stretch in baseball history


Hornsby, Ruth, Williams, or Mays, who you got? Beyond the Box Score writer, Jim Turvey, recently finished up a five-year project that became his debut book. The book, which is available on Amazon, is entitled Starting IX: A Franchise-by-Franchise Breakdown of Baseball’s Best Players. As the title suggests, it looks at the best player at each position for each franchise in baseball history. The book combines baseball history with baseball statistics (and plenty of baseball nonsense) throughout its pages. The following is an excerpt from the book that shows the combination of statistics and history that flow throughout the book. (There’s no nonsense in this excerpt, but there’s definitely more than a fair share of nonsense in other parts of the book.) Here’s the left field spot for the Boston Red Sox Starting IX: LF Ted Williams (1939-1960) Maybe the most stacked position for any team in history; it makes it even more impressive that Williams wins here without even needing a breakdown. Sure, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice get some credit for their dominant play in historic Fenway left field, but when you look at the numbers, it’s clear Williams gets an easy nod for the start. Williams had a career OPS+ of 190, a figure topped in only one season by Rice and Yaz combined (Yaz’s 1967 MVP season, the last Triple Crown before Miguel Cabrera won it in 2012) and only trails Babe Ruth in all of baseball history. Despite missing three years of his prime, Williams still ranks first in Red Sox history in home runs and only barely trails Yaz in runs and RBI despite playing four fewer seasons. Williams won six batting titles to Yaz’s three and Rice’s zero; he led the league in runs six times, the other two did so three times combined; he led in home runs four times, equal to the Yaz Rice combination; Williams led in RBI four times, to three combined for YazRice. The most impressive thing might be that, barring his rookie year and his final two seasons, every year Williams qualified for the on-base percentage title, he won it. His career on-base percentage is .482, or 30 points better than any season Yaz or Rice ever had, and a figure that would be good for 43rd on the all-time single-season on-base percentage list. A list that, oh by the way, contains seven of Ted Williams’ own seasons ahead of that .482 mark. In fact, only Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Rogers Hornsby, Billy Hamilton, John McGraw, and Barry Bonds were able to top Williams’ career .482 mark in multiple seasons. The only negative to “Thumper’s” career is that the Red Sox never won a World Series with Williams. They were often behind the Yankees, and with only one team making the playoffs from the American League at the time, the Sox visited the Fall Classic only once in Williams’ time with the team – their 1946 World Series loss to the Cardinals. “The Splendid Splinter” hit just .200 for the seven-game series, failing to collect a single extra base hit and tallying only three RuBIns. However, this shouldn’t take away from the career of Williams. Baseball is the ultimate team sport, so being expected to carry a team to a championship is not a fair way of assessing a career. A much more accurate way of judging a career is by a top six-year stretch. Six years is a long enough period of dominance that the players with the best six-year stretches in their careers, are some of the all-time greats. Let’s take a look at the candidates for this breakdown. Honorable Mention: Ty Cobb 1910-1915, Stan Musial 1948-1953, Mike Trout 2012-2017, Mickey Mantle 1956-1961, Albert Pujols 2004-2009, Alex Rodriguez 2000-2005, Barry Bonds 1999-2004, Joe Morgan 1972-1977, and Honus Wagner 1904-1909. The finalists: Rogers Hornsby 1920-25, Babe Ruth 1919-24, Ted Williams 1941-49 (years missed to WWII), and Willie Mays 1960-65. The first comment of note are [...]