Jake Arrieta, Sandy Koufax, and Tim Lincecum are three of the five players in major league history to have thrown two no-hitters, won a Cy Young Award, and won a World Series title. Can you name the other two? Between the two of them they have 666 wins and 411 losses. They’ve combined for 7,458 strikeouts – 1,744 more than Nolan Ryan on his own, which would still place a pitcher 119th on the career list for strikeouts. They’ve also combined for 201.6 WAR, with both players in the top 35 all time.
Spanning 21 PAs, this player only played eight games for the team that originally signed him as a free agent out of the International Pool. Since then, he has been involved in two different three-team trades. Of all the other players included in those two trades, two of them appeared in the 2016 World Series. The player in question did not. He is perceived as a slick fielder and good defender, but his career Defensive Runs Saved – per FanGraphs – is -4 as of this date. Additionally, he makes only 71.6% of “likely” plays, plays that should be made, but are not considered certain outs. For context, Brendan Ryan, who is verifiably a good defender (maybe even great) made 82.0% of those types of plays while he was in the majors. He has a rather pedestrian, yet position-appropriate slash line of .262/.313/.394 and is worth 8.4 bWAR for his career to date. Interestingly enough, the sum total bWAR of all the other players in those two three-team deals is north of 50! Can you name him?
Earlier today, I was reading a very well thought out article by Dave Cameron of FanGraphs. Wait…..is anything FanGraphs produces not well thought out? Mr. Cameron was inspecting some odd, paradoxical elements to Xander Bogaerts‘ game – primarily his batted ball profile. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest that you do. Dave, like Jeff Sullivan, is astute, with a wide breadth of knowledge, but very accessible to those of us who love analytics, but don’t have all the practical math on our side. In short, they are both quite adept at disseminating information to enlighten the rest of us.
By the end of the article, based on some anomalous aspects of X-Man’s batted ball profile, I got to thinking about another hitter who I’ve seen a lot of and sensed some (potentially loose) parallel between the two. Not everything points to a direct correlation in batted ball profile, or beyond that, but it struck a chord with me. Maybe I’m just crazy? Maybe I’d prefer to fill this slow afternoon bartending shift with some baseball musings.
Some info that does not draw a plus comparison between the two, but could be an additional hint for ye truth seekers. Xander has a World Series ring, Player X does not, but he does have a Rookie of the Year trophy and was an MVP. Bogey has averaged 2.28 WAR (provided you remove the noise of his initial call-up) and Player X 3.34 WAR per year. Alright, now for some tabular data to see if y’all can guess who I’m talkin’ about.
[table caption=”Slap Chop, Single In the Hole”]
The Myth The Legend,6.0%,10.0%,.092,105
Remember, this is career data.
[table caption=”Slice and Dice, Twice As Nice”]
Player,Slash Line,Career OPS+
Are you forming a picture in your mind yet? Here’s some more data!
[table caption=”3, 2, 1…Contact!”]
Player,Contact Rate,Zone Contact,Out of Zone Contact
Xander The Mander,80.6%,88.9%,67.2%
Master & Commander,89.0%,93.5%,78.8%
Any idea who this is? When you line up and compare some of those rates, they don’t seem as similar as I first thought while reading the original article, but I thought it would be a fun way to set up today’s trivia question. You know, variety is the spice of life and people – all three of you that read these fuckin’ things – will get bored with a tirelessly repeated format.
Oh, by the way, the player who is the answer to the question a right fielder (as opposed to X, who plays short) and is almost certainly a Hall of Famer five years after he hangs it up.
I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the announcers point out that this player had only walked once so far this season (right before he drew his second walk on a wild pitch).
I quickly went to Baseball Reference and FanGraphs to see how crappy this hitter’s on-base percentage was. To my instant surprise, I stared at an above average number of .344, up 52 points from his rookie campaign last year. Now granted, this is a pretty small sample size of 90 PAs, but as I understand, in another 60 or so PAs his numbers should indicate a decent idea within a range of what we can expect from this infielder for the rest of the season.
He’s hitting well so far this season, a .314 average and .810 OPS (numbers before today’s game, of course). Additionally, he’s been hit by a pitch three times, which ranks him in the top 10 for that category on the young season.
Interestingly, his K% is an excellent 12.2%, but that 1.1% BB% is detestable, to say the least. Seems a bit quizzical that he’s an above average on-base guy…then again, the sample size is still small and he’s beating all expectations. So maybe we’ll soon see the forest for the trees.
Wager any guesses?
PS – There are only five players with two or less walks and 90 or more PAs so far this season. One of them, Aledmys Diaz was an All-Star last year and another, Wil Myers, will likely be an All-Star this year.
Of my 24.3 career WAR, almost all of it (21.5) came in the six seasons I played between the ages of 25 and 30 years old. That played out for an average of 4.2 WAR per 650 PAs, which is All-Star caliber. During that span, I hit 181 homers, 186 doubles, drove in 596 runs and had a beefy .894 OPS. Seasonal averages 31 doubles, 30 homers, 99 RBIs. Despite my consistent production during those years, I was only an All-Star thrice, a Silver Slugger once, and never finished higher than 7th in my league’s MVP voting. I did win the Rookie of the Year award my age-25 season, however. Prior to my age-30 season, I was involved in a three-team trade that involved players with 697 career home runs. In exercising a buyout option of an unfortunately over-inflated free-agent contract, the team that had signed me paid me over $21 million for two seasons I did not play. Astrologically, I’m a Virgo, which means I deal with unknown situations very well and that probably helped me in some of near-end-of-career struggles (mostly due to injury). Who is this Gonzaga University alumni?
To this date, of all the ballparks I’ve had 50 or more plate appearances in, Pittsburgh’s PNC Park is the only one I haven’t homered in. So far in my career, I’ve slashed .265/.302/.388 in 53 PAs at PNC Park with a 54 OPS+. In 2863 career PAs I have 128 homers with a .287/.387/.511 slash line and 141 OPS+. Please don’t ever trade me to Pittsburgh.
What’s my name?
His second career no-hitter happened to be Don Orsillo’s first game as a major league play-by-play broadcaster. On that chilly evening, the hurler in question threw 110 pitches – 69 of them for strikes – with 11 strikeouts, three walks, and a shiny and chrome game score of 95! He only received three runs of support from his squad, who would finish the season in the top half of the league in scoring with 4.80 runs per game. At season’s end, the man behind door number three had a 13-10 record with a 4.50 ERA. His FIP was 4.03, indicating that he pitched better than a 4.50 ERA guy. In 198.0 innings pitched during that seasons – the only one with that team – he led the league in strikeouts (220), strikeouts per 9 (10.0), but also walks allowed (96). When the books closed on his career, he had a record of 123-109 with a 4.24 ERA and 1918 strikeouts. Those nearly 2000 Ks are good enough for 10th most in the period spanning the entirety of his career, which also had a three-year hiatus from the majors.
This one should be significantly easier than today’s previous post. Who is this mofo?