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Sports Then and Now



Baseball All-Star Selection Process Hasn’t Improved Over Time 2

Posted on July 04, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Derek Jeter will be starting in the 2011 All-Star Game despite hitting .260 with 20 RBI.

Despite continual tweaking designed to make the process as fair and consistent as possible, the selections for the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game follow the history of rewarding past accomplishments and dominant teams while overlooking a number of deserving players.

Selecting the players for the All-Star Game has been a challenge for generations.

The most egregious example of exploiting the system occurred in 1957 when ballot stuffing in Cincinnati led to the Reds having the top vote getter at seven of eight field positions. Eventually, two of the players were replaced in the lineup and fans lost the right to vote for the All-Star starters for slightly more than a decade.

Since fan voting was restored in 1970, the biggest problem has not been ballot stuffing, but instead a tendency for fans to vote some of their favorite players into the lineup regardless of whether they were having the best year of a player at that position.

Some all-time greats, including Brooks Robinson, Rod Carew, Wade Boggs, Reggie Jackson, Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith and Johnny Bench continued to be selected by the fans even in years when they were clearly not the best player at their position.

The unintended consequence of this desire to see certain fan favorites is that other deserving players don’t get the recognition of being All-Star starters in years when they were obviously the best player at their position.

One such example was first base for the American League during the late 1970s and early 1980s. After moving from second base, where he was an eight time starter, Rod Carew was voted by the fans as the starting first baseman every year from 1976 through 1984. Read the rest of this entry →

Year of the Pitcher Ends with Giants’ Victory 2

Posted on November 03, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Tim Lincecum capped the "Year of the Pitcher" with eight strong innings in the final game of the World Series.

In a perfect ending to the “Year of the Pitcher”, the San Francisco Giants received back-to-back great pitching performances to secure the first World Series title for the franchise since 1954.

It wasn’t quite the showing of the 1966 Baltimore Orioles, who held the Los Angeles Dodgers without a run for the last 33 innings of their series sweep, but it was almost that impressive given that the Rangers were among the top offensive teams in baseball in 2010.

In holding the Rangers to five runs over the last four games, with four of them coming in their only victory of the series, the Giants demonstrated exactly what took them from floundering team to World Series champion over the final three months of the season.

After seeing their record fall to 41-40 on July 4th, the Giants rallied to go 51-30 over the final three months of the season. During that stretch, 20 of their victories were in games in which their pitching staff held the opponents either scoreless or to one run.

Though Tim Lincecum will not claim a third consecutive Cy Young Award, the performance of the young hurler during the World Series proved that he is indeed a staff ace. Read the rest of this entry →

Will Lincecum’s $13 Million Request Pass Muster in Arbitration? 0

Posted on February 09, 2010 by Don Spieles

In the realm of general managers in Major League Baseball Theo Epstein is known for, among other things, the fact that in the years he’s been the GM of the Red Sox he has never gone through an arbitration hearing. His ability to negotiate, the team’s liquid financial status, and a bit of common sense have prevailed over his nine year career.

Well, that and the fact that he’s never had a player quite the caliber of Tim Lincecum to deal with. That’s Tim Lincecum, the 25 year old San Francisco Giants phenom, he of the two consecutive Cy Young Awards in his first two full seasons on the mound.

Including Lincecum, there have been eight Cy Young winners who took the award in consecutive years in the history of the game. In the AL there was Denny McClain (’68-’69), Jim Palmer (’75-’76), Roger Clemens (twice – ’86-’87 and ’97-’98), and Pedro Martinez (’99-’00). In the NL, we saw Sandy Koufax (’65-’66), Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson (special honors for the 4-peats – ’92 through ’95 and ’99 through ’02, respectively.) Of that group, Lincecum is tied for the youngest to accomplish the feat (he, McClain, and Clemens all did it at ages 24 and 25).

Of that group, Koufax and Palmer are Hall-of-Famers. Maddux and Johnson are first ballot men to be sure, as would Clemens be if not for steroid controversy. Martinez stands a good chance of making the HOF as well. Maddux, Clemens, and Johnson are all in the 300 Win Club. Johnson, Clemens, Maddux, and Martinez, all posted 3000 plus strikeouts.

San Francisco Giants v Oakland Athletics

Lincecum's early stats place him in very good company.

Suffice to say that, thus far at least, Tim Lincecum is in great company.

But if the two CY’s in a row get him a seat at the table, what about his other qualifications? How does he stack up otherwise at this early stage in his career?

Lincecum’s win/loss percentage (.702) is second only to Clemens. His ERA is better than that of McClain, and his WHIP (1.61) is better than that of McClain, Martinez and Johnson. And in a group known for strikeouts, Lincecum leads this impressive pack in strikeouts per nine innings (10.17).

In 2008, eight players chose arbitration and only two of them won. Ryan Howard of Philadelphia received $10 million after the club offered $7 Million and Oliver Perez of the Mets was awarded the $6.2 million he asked for instead of the $4.745 the club had in mind. In 2009, saw only three cases go to arbitration with Dan Uggla of the Marlins winning $5.35 million and Shawn Hill of the Nationals received $775,000. Read the rest of this entry →

Waiting For The Weekend: Awards and Astronauts 0

Posted on November 19, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Royals-Tigers

Zach Greinke had the lowest ERA by an American League pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2000.

This week we look at the transition that has taken place in what voters consider important in selecting the Cy Young Award winner. We also look at a former star athlete who now is really shooting for the stars.

Remember When Wins Mattered For Starting Pitchers?

Zach Greinke’s distinction of sharing the record for the fewest number of wins by a Cy Young winning pitcher (16) didn’t last long as the record is now solely in the hands of Tim Lincecum (15).

In fact, it shows how times have changed to consider that the 31 total victories between the two 2009 Cy Young Award winners equals the total number of wins that Denny McLain registered when winning the American League Cy Young Award in 1968.

It used to be that the number one criteria for a starting pitcher being a serious Cy Young Award candidate was how many victories he recorded in a season. Sure, other factors like strikeouts, ERA and winning percentage have always been important, but the top prize for a pitcher usually was reserved for a hurler who either led the league or came close to leading the league in wins.

The voting for the 2009 Cy Young Awards clearly illustrates that is no longer the case.

Read the rest of this entry →

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