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Charlie Hollocher

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Mount Rushmore 2020 Update, National League

Even with a shortened 2020 season, there were some changes to the Mount Rushmores of many franchises in 2020. For those who have read these posts in past years, thanks so much! If you’re new, you can check out the original preview post, the 2018 NL update, the 2018 AL update, the 2019 NL update, and the 2019 AL update as well. If you’re super-interested, you can find the individual 2017 posts by typing “Rushmore” into our search engine.

If you’re new to this series but don’t want to do a lot of work to familiarize yourself with the rules, I’ll keep ‘em simple right here. Each franchise’s Rushmore is composed of their four players with the greatest WAR, as long as they never played for another franchise. So you won’t see Babe Ruth with the Yankees, Tom Seaver with the Mets, or Ivan Rodriguez with the Rangers. And you certainly won’t see Edwin Jackson anywhere. You’ll see some surprises, that’s for sure. And the quality of names below may give you an indication about how your favorite franchise has operated through the years.

In the past commenters have been disappointed with the rules for these particular Rushmores. I understand. It you’re looking for each franchise’s top players by WAR, Baseball Reference is a great place to explore. Here’s the Marlin’s Franchise Page. Play around to find their top players.

Today it’s the National League. In a week, we take a look at the Junior Circuit.

Arizona

  • Brandon Webb (31.4) remains on top and seems locked in for some time.
  • David Peralta (14.2) is signed through 2022, so perhaps he lasts for a bit.
  • Nick Ahmed (12.0) is gaining on Peralta, seems to be the better player these days, and is locked in for an extra year. On the other hand, he’s a defense-first shortstop now on the wrong side of 30, so maybe he never catches Peralta.
  • With Jake Lamb released and signing in Oakland, it’s Archie Bradley who steps up. Oh, scratch that. He was shipped to Cincinnati in August. That same day, Andrew Chafin became a Cub, so we’re really scratching the bottom of the barrel here. It appears that Merrill Kelly (1.8), a rookie in 2019 at age 30, stepped up with five good starts and is now one of the four best D’back-only players of all-time by WAR. Makes sense when there are pitchers among the best 50 Arizona hitters ever.

Atlanta

  • Chipper Jones (85.0) remains safe. MVP Freddie Freeman (38.8) is signed for another year, so he remains in the #2 spot. If he’s getting to the HoME one day, it’ll be on the super long and low path. Unfortunately for him, I don’t see him churning out these seasons for another decade. Last year’s #3, Julio Teheran became an Angel, so we need someone new here. And at least temporarily, that new guy is Rick Camp (12.1), Atlanta’s closer in 1980 and 1981. But he’s not hanging around here for long. Ronald Acuña Jr. (12.1) comes in next, tied with Camp. And he’s not alone. He brings Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and Max Fried with him. It doesn’t seem like we’ll Camp’s name here again after 2021.

Chicago

  • The Cub Rushmore remains the same. For now. Ernie Banks (67.8), Stan Hack (54.8), Kris Bryant (24.3), and Charlie Hollocher (23.2) represent the North Side. Bryant looks like he’ll make $20 million plus in arbitration, so he could be on the chopping block, as the Cubs cry poverty, despite the Ricketts family being worth in excess of $5 billion. Maybe 19th century star Bill Lange will replace Bryant here a year from now, or maybe Kyle Hendricks will step up.

Cincinnati

  • No changes here with Johnny Bench (75.2), Barry Larkin (70.5), Joey Votto (62.1), and Bid McPhee (52.5) atop the façade. Since Votto is looking more and more like a career Red, we don’t have to worry about Dave Concepcion yet. And guys like Luis Castillo and Tucker Barnhart are a long way off.

Colorado

  • Todd Helton (61.8) still waits here for the call from the Hall of Fame, and with his progress this year it actually seems possible. Last I checked Ryan Thibodaux’s Hall Tracker, he’s just over 55%. While he’s likely to drop a good deal between now and the time results are revealed, he’s made great progress from 16.5% and 29.2% in his first two years on the ballot.
  • Nolan Arenado (39.1) had a down year at the plate, but he continues to pick it at the hot corner as he keeps climbing.
  • We have a new #3 in Trevor Story (21.0) who jumps from fifth to fourth to third the last three years. Rockie fans pray the climb doesn’t continue a year from now.
  • Also chugging along is Charlie Blackmon (17.9), though he drops to fourth. While his best days are behind him, he’s signed for 2021 and has player options for two years after that. Come 2024 he’ll be 37, so perhaps he’ll walk off into the sunset as a career Rockie. Should something happen and Colorado move one of the active players, they’re decently stocked with German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray, and Antonio Sanzatella.

Los Angeles

  • Clayton Kershaw (69.6) remains at the top and now has his ring after some wonderful pitching in the World Series. Hopefully he doesn’t go anywhere, so some kid who’s not even alive yet passes him.
  • For the second straight year, we have a new #2 in town, as Pee Wee Reese (68.2) regains his spot after having been passed by Kershaw in 2019.
  • Don Drysdale (67.1) drops from first two years ago, to second, and not to third. How? Well, the folks at BBREF are always tinkering, trying to make things as perfect as they can, and there was a flip with their 2020 WAR update. I don’t expect Drysdale to fall again next year.
  • Jackie Robinson (61.5) remains in fourth. Maybe Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager are coming, but it’ll be a while.

Miami

  • Somehow, there have been no changes here. Jose Fernandez (14.0) continues to top this list, Brian Anderson (7.6) is next, and since he remains cheap, I think he’ll last for a couple of years. Showing how awful this franchise has been, I’m pretty sure the next two guys are Renyel Pinto (3.3) a 2006-2010 reliever, and Chuck Smith (3.2) a 2000-2001 starter. Do you like Pablo Lopez and Sixto Sanchez? Either could make the list a year from now. Or the Marlins could trade them for one of Jeter’s fruit baskets.

Milwaukee

  • Robin Yount (77.3) leads the way. Ryan Braun (48.9), he of 13.8 WAR over the last eight years is next. Teddy Higuera (30.3) and Jim Gantner (22.4) still follow. Should Braun ever play for someone else, Dave Nilsson waits in the wings. Among active guys, it’s Josh Hader and Brandon Woodruff who are best situated.

New York

  • David Wright (49.2) proudly leads the way.
  • Next and climbing is Jacob deGrom (38.1). Could he catch Wright in three years? In two? He’ll make $71 million the next two years and then has the chance to opt out. We shall see what happens.
  • Noah Syndergaard (15.7) missed 2020 with Tommy John surgery. Unless he pitches for someone else, he’ll remain on this list for at least a little while.
  • He may drop to fourth though as Michael Conforto (14.6) continues to climb. He’s not the player who Mets fans though he’d be back in 2015, but he has been a solid contributor over they years. He can become a free agent after next season, and it’s possible the Mets should let him walk. Maybe sign him for four years from 29-32? If you can get him for three, that’s wonderful, but I don’t suspect it’ll happen. Juan Lagares remains a Met only, and there are four other current Mets with 7.0 WAR or better so at least there’s something if and when someone leaves.

Philadelphia

  • Mike Schmidt (106.9) starts us off. Charlie Ferguson (31.6), a Quaker from 1884-1887 follows. Aaron Nola (21.7) is next. He bounced back some in 2020, and his numbers might be a bit better than they appeared, given the Philadelphia defenses and the offenses Nola faced. Ryan Howard (14.7) remains in fourth.

Pittsburgh

  • With Starling Marte shipped away, this isn’t changing forever. It’s Roberto Clemente (94.8), Willie Stargell (57.5), Sam Leever (40.9), and Bill Mazeroski (36.5).

St. Louis

  • The players remain the same for the Cards, but the order of the final two flipped in 2020. Stan Musial (128.3) leads things off with Bob Gibson (89.2) following. But Adam Wainwright (41.0) has passed Yadier Molina (40.4) for third place. It’s kind of amazing that many people consider Molina a first-ballot Hall of Famer, while essentially nobody uses Wainwright’s name and Cooperstown in the same sentence. Amazing, yet sensible. Catchers with massive WAR totals exist throughout the game’s history less frequently than players of any other position, and it seems Yadi has a good deal of value not captured by straight WAR. What’ll happen this off-season as both Molina and Wainwright are free agents remains anyone’s guess. Should either play for another team in 2021, Matt Carpenter is waiting in the wings, and Whitey Kurowski follows.

San Diego

  • Tony Gwynn (69.2) will remain atop this list seemingly forever, as the Padres haven’t been a franchise to keep their best players. Maybe things are turning around in SoCal? They’ll need to stay that way for more than a decade before Gwynn is in jeopardy.
  • How embarrassing is it that Tim Flannery (9.1) is second on this list? The guy played 100 games only four times.
  • With Manuel Margot shipped to Tampa, this third spot opened up. And since Hunter Renfroe went there as well in a separate trade, it couldn’t be him. With just 629 plate appearances to his name, Fernando Tatis Jr. (7.0) steps up. The Padres would be incredibly disappointed if he didn’t pass Flannery in 2021.
  • The kids continue to be well represented with Dinelson Lamet (3.5). Well, Lamet isn’t a kid. He’ll be 28 next year. But he’s headed in the right direction. Assuming health, there’s reason to believe that he can help the Padres in their quest to dethrone the Dodgers in the NL West in 2021.

San Francisco

  • Mel Ott (110.7) won’t be leaving this top spot for a long, long time. Carl Hubbell (67.5) remains second and Bill Terry (54.2) third. It’s unclear what the future will hold for Buster Posey (41.8), but for now at least, he’s in the fourth spot.

Washington

  • Steve Rogers (44.7) remains the best player in Expos/Nats history. Maybe Ryan Zimmerman (38.5) will be back, but he’s unlikely to build much even if he is. Carpel tunnel syndrome cost Stephen Strasburg (33.3) most of 2020. He looks to pass Zimmerman if he can bounce back in 2021. Trea Turner (16.6) should be in the middle of his prime about now, but he’s going to have to play a full season a few times if he wants to move up this mountain.

Well, that’s it for the National League. The AL update drops next Monday.

Miller

National League Rushmore Update, 2019

On Monday we took a look at the up-to-date American League Rushmores, so today we move on to the National League. If you don’t happen to recall, this isn’t about the four best players in a team’s history. Rather, it’s about the four best players in history that have never played for another team. If you’re wondering where Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are, that’s where. These aren’t necessarily the “right” answers, but they’re interesting to me.

Arizona

  • Paul Goldschmidt was shipped to St. Louis, so we have a new leader in Arizona. It’s Brandon Webb (31.4), locked into the top spot for quite a few years. That’s especially true with last year’s #3, A.J. Pollock, and last year’s #4, Patrick Corbin, sent off too.
  • A generally underwhelming and unhealthy year moves David Peralta (14.2) up to second on the D’back list. He’s arbitration eligible this year and a free agent next, so this might not last too long.
  • Nick Ahmed (10.3) had a much better year in 2019 than Peralta did. At least with the glove. The shortstop isn’t much of a hitter, but he’s a terrific defender. Of course, his contract status is the same as Peralta’s, so how long he remains on this list is anyone’s guess.
  • Rounding out the façade is Jake Lamb (6.3) a poor hitting corner infielder whose last game could, at any time, be the last game he ever plays. For the barely-above-replacement-and-about-to-make-money crowd, this is always the case.

Atlanta

  • Chipper Jones (85.0) isn’t going away for a long, long time.
  • Freddie Freeman (37.4) keeps chugging along in second place. If you see him building an interesting long and low Hall case, Eric reminded you on Wednesday to think again. In fact, another nine seasons of 5.0 WAR would still see Freeman south of Eddie Murray by MAPES+. A really nice player, but more the Fred McGriff type than someone building on a Hall of Fame career.
  • Julio Teheran (20.2) was solid again in 2019. The team is sure to pick up his option for $12 million. It’s just a question of what happens after 2020 to determine how long Teheran stays on this list.
  • We’ll see a different name here in 12 months, as Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies should add a few WAR each. Until then, it’s two-time ten game winner, Rick Camp (12.3), who rounds out the Braves’ list.

Chicago

  • Leading the way with a much smaller gap over second place than most would think is Ernie Banks (67.4).
  • Stan Hack (52.5), a long(ish) and low third baseman from 1932-1947 is next. By the way, Hack is 34th at 3B by MAPES+. Think Robin Ventura for a pretty good recent comparison.
  • After another solid season, Kris Bryant (25.1) jumps over two players and is now third in Cub history. He’s with the team for at least the next two years, though we’ll have to see what happens after that.
  • Charlie Hollocher (23.2) moves down to fourth. A year ago, I talked about depression when I talked about him because, apparently, he left the team in 1923 due to that potentially debilitating illness. One thing I see more and more among my students, who are generally 19ish, is a willingness to talk about their depression. Say what you might about people in that generation, but I say their willingness to discuss mental illness saves lives. Many, many lives. And that’s more than impressive.

Cincinnati

  • Johnny Bench (75.0) is first.
  • Barry Larkin (70.2) follows.
  • A year ago, I thought Joey Votto (60.2) was going to catch Larkin. Now I think I was wrong. Votto is 36, coming off a year of 1.6 WAR, oh, and I don’t know if I’ve mentioned, but he’s 36. He doesn’t have enough years left in him at the 2019 pace to take over second.
  • HoMEr and Hall of Famer Bid McPhee (52.4) is fourth. If Votto ever goes elsewhere (he’s signed through 2023), it’s Dave Concepcion who’s next. No current Red is close.

Colorado

  • Todd Helton (61.2) waits here for the call from the Hall of Fame.
  • However, I fear that Nolan Arenado (38.7) might beat him there.
  • Charlie Blackmon (18.2) keeps climbing. And while he’s no Hall threat, he’s been a treat to watch in Colorado since 2011, and he’s under contract for a minimum of two more years.
  • A year ago, Kyle Freeland held down the final spot on the Rockie Mount after passing his shortstop because of a great 2018. Well, his 2019 wasn’t so hot. But Trevor Story’s (17.8) was. In fact, Freeland is no longer even fifth. He’s also been passed by German Marquez, with Jon Gray close behind.

Los Angeles

  • And the single best solo Dodger in history is – you guessed it – Clayton Kershaw (68.0). He had another fine season in 2019, and he passed the guys in second and third place here. I’m very excited to finish my updated pitching numbers in the next week or two to figure out where he ranks all-time.
  • Don Drysdale (67.2) drops to second.
  • Pee Wee Reese (66.4) falls to third.
  • Jackie Robinson (61.5) remains in fourth, 12.5 WAR ahead of Sandy Koufax. Robinson isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The top current Dodger other than Kershaw, I believe, is the recently mediocre Kenley Jansen.

Miami

  • Jose Fernandez (14.0) continues to top this list because J.T. Realmuto and his $5.9 million salary were sent to Philadelphia in February.
  • Brian Anderson (7.6) is next. After a nice 2019, he’s kind of on my radar, though for me he’s only supplanted one of the other Brian Andersons who have played in the majors.
  • I think Renyel Pinto (3.3), a 2006-2010 reliever, is next.
  • I think Chuck Smith (3.2), a 2000-2001 starter, follows. Seriously, this team is a mess!

Milwaukee

  • Robin Yount (77.0) leads the way.
  • Ryan Braun (48.2) is just another guy now, totaling only a bit over 4 WAR during the last three campaigns. He’s signed for 2020. The year after that there’s a mutual option for $15 million with a $4 million buyout. I suspect the Brewers will buy him out.
  • Teddy Higuera (30.7) is next.
  • And the great Jim Gantner (22.3) rounds things out. Okay, we wasn’t great, but there are 14 or 15 teams with worse players in this spot.

New York

  • It’s David Wright (50.4) atop the Mets Mount.
  • I looked up Tom Seaver’s career as a Met so I could make some interesting comment about him and Jacob deGrom (34.9). Turns out I shouldn’t have bothered. As great as deGrom is, he’s no Tom Terrific. Kids, take note.
  • Noah Syndergaard (15.4) continues to add value.
  • After a very solid season, it’s Michael Conforto (12.8) who takes over this spot from the forever Met, Juan Lagares.

Philadelphia

  • It’s Mike Schmidt (106.5) leading the way.
  • Next is 1884-1887 Quaker, Charlie Ferguson (32.1).
  • Aaron Nola (19.6) followed up a great 2018 with a solid 2019 and should continue contributing for at least the next three years.
  • Ryan Howard (14.9) is fourth, for a minimum of one more year. Actually, it might take Cesar Hernandez two more years. Or three?

Pittsburgh

  • Roberto Clemente (94.5) will lead the pack for generations.
  • Willie Stargell (57.5) is safe too.
  • It’s 1898-1910 righty Sam Leever (41.4) who’s in third.
  • And Bill Mazeroski (36.5) joins the Pirate Rushmore. Starling Marte (29.1) stayed in Pittsburgh the whole year, which surprised me a little. However, even if the Pirates pick up options this year and next, he’d have to improve on his 2019 performance to catch Maz.

St. Louis

  • Stan Musial (128.1) now and forever.
  • Bob Gibson (89.9) likely remains here for a good long time too.
  • Yadier Molina (40.2).
  • And Adam Wainwright (40.2) keeps plugging along as well. In fact, he caught Molina in 2019, his best year since all the way back in 2014. I don’t know what his future plans are, and I sure do hope he retires as a Cardinal. But as I write this, he’s 38 and unsigned for 2020. I’m not sure what’s going to happen here, but I do know Matt Carpenter and Whitey Kurowski are waiting patiently.

San Diego

  • Tony Gwynn (68.8) is so obviously the greatest Padre ever. I started selling my fairly extensive baseball card collection about a year ago. Something I found over those months is that all Gwynn cards sell. Is it only Padre fans? I’m not sure. I just know that they sell.
  • It’s easy enough to be the greatest Padre ever when the second best, at least by this measure, is Tim Flannery (9.1). The guy drove in more than 30 runs in a season just once.
  • Manuel Margot (6.4), like Flannery, cannot hit. Luckily for him and the Padres, he can defend a little bit in center – unless you’re a DRA fan, in which case Margot maybe should be released.
  • Hunter Renfroe (6.2) remains fourth. There’s a bit of thunder in his bat, though not much else to his game. I don’t expect to see him here a year from now.

San Francisco

  • On the most boring Rushmore in the National League, Mel Ott (107.8) leads the way.
  • Carl Hubbell (67.5) places second.
  • Bill Terry (54.2) is locked into third for a while.
  • Based on the readjustments by BBREF of the past year, Buster Posey (42.1) takes over for Mike Tiernan, who dropped down to 41.5.

Washington

  • Steve Rogers (44.7) remains on top. Long live Steve Rogers!
  • Ryan Zimmerman (37.8) is second, though he has just 3.8 total WAR over the last six years. That’s a lot of mediocrity for the $88 million he raked in. I think the Nats should give him $2 million to walk away rather than $16 million additional to stay.
  • With Bryce Harper in Philadelphia, Stephen Strasburg (33.9) moves up. Actually, had Harper not gone north, he’d still be behind Stras.
  • A wonderful season from Anthony Rendon (27.3) puts him solidly fourth. Of course, he’s a free agent after the World Series, and he’s going to make some bucks that the Nationals aren’t likely to pay. There’s going to be a new name on this list a year from now.

Well, that’s it for the National League. We’ll do it all one more time a year from now. Thanks for reading!

Miller

NL Mount Rushmore, 2018 Update

So, I know what you must be thinking. Miller, you’ve been gone for months, and when you come back you do so with one of the least popular series in HoME history. Well, yeah. At least for me this is a really fun series. And I can use the NL and AL updates that come today and Friday to preview the post-season active player updates that will follow. No, we’re not officially back, but there is going to be some content in the coming weeks, including complete CHEWS+ and MAPES+ lists at every position, lists that will be archived on the site for your future reference.

But first, each National League team’s updated Mount Rushmore. If you don’t happen to recall, this isn’t about the four best players in a team’s history. Rather, it’s about the four best players in history that have never played for another team. So Ty Cobb isn’t on the Tiger list, and Willie Mays isn’t on the Giant list. Here we go!

Arizona

  • Paul Goldschmidt (40.1 WAR) isn’t leaving this list until he leaves Arizona or long after he retires. He’s signed for next year, but then the D’backs will have a decision to make. Do they give the cornerstone of their franchise a long-term deal starting at age-32, or do they part company? Goldschmidt is building a Hall of Fame career, so I hope Arizona resigns him.
  • Brandon Webb (31.4) is locked too.
  • Next on the mountain is A.J. Pollack (20.0), a pretty interesting player. His 2015 season made him one of only four players, joining Jacoby Ellsbury, Hanley Ramirez, and Cesar Cedeno with 39 2B, 39 SB, 20 HR, and fewer than 100 K in baseball history. He’s been injured a lot, but he’s been great when healthy. He leaves the Diamondback Rushmore only if he leaves the team. He’s not getting caught from behind for at least a few seasons.
  • We have a change in the fourth spot. Last hear it was David Peralta, the lefty corner outfielder who just has his first 30 homer season. It was also his best season at 3.9 WAR. Unfortunately for him, Patrick Corbin (12.5) caught him from behind with a very impressive 4.8 WAR this season. Peralta is signed for another couple of seasons while Corbin could leave this winter, so there might be another change on the Diamondback Rushmore next year.

Atlanta

  • Chipper Jones (85.0) is far and away tops here.
  • After another outstanding season, Freddie Freeman (33.1) remains in second place. I just mentioned Paul Goldschmidt as someone on a Hall of Fame trajectory. Same with Freeman who is three years younger and could certainly join the fight if he keeps up his pace. As for Rushmore status, he’s signed for an extra couple of seasons, so he’s going to be here for a while.
  • The Braves have had quite a long history, dating back to their 1876 Boston Red Stockings days. Yet, Julio Teheran (17.7) is third on their list.
  • Perhaps more amazingly, Rick Camp (12.3) is fourth.

Chicago

  • Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks (67.4), leads the way. Who else?
  • Stan Hack (52.5) is second and only 14.9 WAR behind Banks. It doesn’t feel that close, does it?
  • Charlie Hollocher (23.2) is third. You might not have heard of him. He played for the Cubs from 1918-1924. He apparently left the team in 1923 due to depression, tried to come back in 1924, but couldn’t. I wonder how many major leaguers have suffered from depression. For those looking for a silver lining in these difficult political times, it’s that in many places in this country, those who suffer from depression can come forward in ways not available 100 or even 10 years ago. That’s progress.
  • Much to my surprise, the fourth spot remains held down by Bill Lange (22.9). That’s because Kris Bryant played only 102 so-so games and posted just 1.9 WAR on the season. He should bounce Lange off and Hollocher to third next year.

Cincinnati

  • Johnny Bench (75.0) leads the way.
  • Barry Larkin (70.2) backs him up.
  • Until Joey Votto (58.8) goes away or passes Larkin, this is his spot.
  • Bid McPhee (52.4) is fourth.
  • Davey Concepcion is waiting in the wings should Votto depart the Queen City.

Colorado

  • Todd Helton (61.2) sits atop this list, while the rest of it will be in flux for some time pending strong seasons, trades, and free agency.
  • Nolan Arenado continued to add to his Hall campaign with another outstanding season and sits second at (33.1).
  • The same cannot be said of Charlie Blackmon (16.1) whose contribution in 2018 was less than one win. He may need to do better than that because there are two very impressive players within a very good season of catching him.
  • For now, it’s Kyle Freeland (11.5) who occupies the fourth spot on this list. Those of us on the east coast who know plenty about Jake deGrom, Max Scherzer, and Aaron Nola should tune into the awesome season Freeland had. Sure, it might only be the fourth best by an NL pitcher this year, but it deserves more celebration than it seems to have received. Too bad his Rockies were bounced from the playoffs so quickly. Of course, Freeland was awesome the one time he took the ball.
  • Right behind Freeland is last year’s fourth guy, Trevor Story, just a tenth of a win short. It’ll be interesting to see what the next few seasons bring for this pair and for the Rockies.

Los Angeles

  • Don Drysdale (67.2) starts us off.
  • Pee Wee Reese (66.4) follows.
  • When the season began, there was just one question pertaining to the Dodger Rushmore: Where would Clayton Kershaw (64.6) land when the season ended? He needed 2.2 WAR to pass Jackie Robinson for third place, 7.1 to slide past Pee Wee Reese into second, and 7.9 to take the #1 spot from Don Drysdale. With 4.0, he lands in third. Sandy Koufax takes his place if he departs. Among current Dodgers, it seems Yasiel Puig (18.6) and Kenley Jansen (15.9) aren’t really threats. It also seems that Kershaw won’t add further seasons to his peak. Still, there’s every reason to believe he’ll top this list one year from now.
  • Jackie Robinson (61.5) is fourth and not going anywhere anytime soon.

Miami

  • What a mess this is. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcel Ozuna are all gone of last year’s list. Jose Fernandez (14.2) will hang around for a while, possibly forever. By the way, the aforementioned trio, including the clubhouse leader for MVP, Yelich, combined for more WAR last year than this.
  • J.T. Realmuto (13.0) is a perfectly fine player whose WAR has increased every year in the bigs, reaching a high of 4.3 this past season. He’s arbitration eligible for the second time this winter after making $2.9 million in 2018. So maybe he won’t be a Marlin next year?
  • I almost know who Derek Dietrich (4.6) is. On one hand, he’s a mediocre utility guy. On the other, he played nearly every day in 2018 on his way to 0.4 WAR. As long as he remains on the Marlin Rushmore, it’ll be clear this franchise is without hope.
  • On the other hand, I know two players named Brian Anderson. However, neither is the Brian Anderson (3.8) who’s on the Marlin Rushmore. He was actually a very useful player in 2018, moving between third base and right field. Still, I don’t think it’s good with the Marlin’s long-term prospects to see him on this façade. Now if we could sub him for the other B.A. in the announce booth, that would likely be an improvement.

Milwaukee

  • Robin Yount (77.0) gets things started.
  • Ryan Braun (46.4) will remain in second until the Brewers buy him out in two seasons (I’m guessing).
  • Next is Teddy Higuera (30.7).
  • Then there’s Jim Gantner (22.3).
  • If Braun were to go elsewhere, moving up will be Dave Nilsson (10.5) unless Zach Davies (5.5) surprises.

New York

  • David Wright (50.4) continues to lead the way. One of my favorite live baseball moments came when I got to see Wright walk and pop out in the final two trips to the plate of his MLB career. Mets fans were great, a full 180 degrees from the reputations of negativity some of them have. It was such a joy to be there, in one of the most positive baseball atmospheres I’ve ever experienced.
  • Next is Jacob deGrom (27.2), who I hope remains healthy (and a Met!) so Mets fans can continue to be happy about something.
  • Noah Syndergaard (13.2) is third.
  • And somehow, amazingly at least to me, Juan Lagares (12.8), who the Mets have never seen as a starter even when he has been, finishes out the Met Rushmore. Is he really still on the team?

Philadelphia

  • We start with Michael Jack Schmidt (106.5), now and forever.
  • Next is Charlie Ferguson (32.1), a guy who spent the 1884-1887 seasons with the Philadelphia Quakers.
  • Aaron Nola (15.5) flies up to third with his incredible 10-win 2018.
  • Ryan Howard (14.9) finishes things off. Remember when MLB General Managers paid big bucks for runs batted in? Howard had 572 of them over four years from 2006-2009.

Pittsburgh

  • Roberto Clemente (94.5) isn’t going anywhere for generations.
  • Willie Stargell (57.5) is set too.
  • With the departure of Andrew McCutchen, Sam Leever (41.3) moves into the third spot.
  • And Bill Mazeroski (36.2) joins the Pirate Rushmore. It seems like there’s a better chance Starling Marte (26.2) prices himself out of Pittsburgh than that he gains enough value to catch Maz.

St. Louis

  • It’s likely that nobody ever touches Stan Musial (128.1).
  • And it’s pretty likely Bob Gibson (89.9) never relinquishes second place.
  • Yadier Molina (38.9) steps into the third spot, which is, perhaps, another nail in the coffin of those who don’t believe he’s deserving of Hall induction.
  • Adam Wainwright (38.2) is the third-best fourth-on-the-façade, behind Jackie Robinson and Bid McPhee.

San Diego

  • Tony Gwynn (68.8) should be called Mr. Padre more than he is.
  • And here’s why. Tim Flannery (9.2) is second. Only four times in his eleven seasons did he play 100 games. He never topped three homers in a season. He was successful in just 50% of his 44 steal attempts. His career Rbat was -44. You get the point.
  • Manuel Margot (4.6) is third. I guess he’s an okay player, but like Flannery, he can’t hit.
  • And for now Hunter Renfroe (3.7) finishes off the Padre Rushmore. At least he’s passable at the dish.

San Francisco

  • Mel Ott (107.8) is very safe.
  • Carl Hubbell (67.5) is too.
  • Bill Terry (54.2) makes it three who are locked in for quite a while.
  • Going into the season, however, Mike Tiernan (42.2) was in jeopardy of losing his spot to Buster Posey. But Posey and his 2.9 WAR on the season couldn’t quite get there. With just one WAR in 2019, he’ll make it.

Washington

  • I don’t know why I’m such a huge fan of Steve Rogers (45.1) topping this list, a list I expect he’ll continue to top for years to come.
  • Ryan Zimmerman (38.0) certainly doesn’t have enough left in him to topple the 158-game winner.
  • The first day of the 2019 campaign should be the last day Bryce Harper (27.4) is on this list.
  • Stephen Strasburg (27.3) continues to chug along, but he can opt out after next year. It’ll be interesting to see if he leaves four years and $100 million on the table.

Well, that’s it for the National League. The updated American League Rushmore will post on Friday.

Miller

Mount Rushmore: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs don’t exactly have a storied history. More like they have several stories, some of which are storied, some of which are nightmarish, and many of which are the tedious tales of merely another boring losing year.

In 1945, Cubs’ fans, coming off yet another World Series appearance would likely have named a Mount Rushmore (with no limitations  like ours) that included the gonfalon Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance trio and Adrian Constantine Anson, himself. The key drivers on a dynasty that produced history’s (then) winningest team, plus the titanic figure of the 19th Century game. (Race relations back then were a little different, and few were likely to decry the latter’s inclusion for his part in the drawing of the color line.)

Flash forward 70 years, and things looked quite different. No World Series appearances, a 100+ year championship drought. Goats, black cats, pennant race flameouts, and a thousand other humiliations beset the Second City ursine nine in the meantime. The heroes, though many had achieved precious little. Whose Mount Rushmore likenesses would better describe this time of aimless wandering? The greats of that supposedly cursed epoch who donned Cubbie blue? Or the College of Coaches?

Today, that little patch of the Black Hills would, perhaps, proudly display the proud faces of Theo Epstein, Kris Bryant, Joe Maddon, and Anthony Rizzo. Or whichever four Bruins felt right in the joyful hangover that accompanied the capture of the 2017 President’s Trophy.

But we have rules here, and many of the aforementioned fellows fail to meet them! We demand one thing and one thing only: loyalty. If you left the team, you’re not a real Cub. No stone-carved face for you! Loyalty and top performance. So two things, actually. Loyalty and top performance and lollypops. Yes, that’s three things, but nothing happens here with lollypops.

Mount Cubsmore

So who are the great bears of men who will cast their proud stares down from Mount Cubsmore?

Lets see, Cap Anson? Well, no, because he played for two teams in the National Association who weren’t the Cubs or their immediate predecessors the Chicago White Stockings. Ron Santo! No, he took a brief turn about the AL with the Southside squad. Oh, I know, Billy Williams! They guy never, ever missed a game for like 3,000 straight seasons. Uh, actually, he ended up with the A’s for a couple years. (Stump your friends with that one!) Ooh, ooh, Tinker to Evers to Chance who went to Cincy, to Boston, and to New York. Gotta be Mark Grace, right? Well, there was that little stint in the desert from ages 37 to 39. OK, OK, here are the actual guys who qualify for Cubsmore: Adolpho Phillips, Mike Harkey, Jerome Walton, and Mark Prior. No wait, wrong spreadsheet. (Hey, at least I didn’t include Ken Hubbs in that joke…oh, I just did.) Well, here we go….

Ernie Banks: Well, he is Mr. Cub after all. He has the record for homers by a Cub who didn’t play in the silly ball era, and because he always wanted to play two, the team made double the money. Banks and this next guy have almost exactly the same career value.

Stan Hack: The little remembered Hack was a wonderful leadoff hitter for the Cubs for a long time in the 1930s and 1940s. If he were a good fielder, he might well be in the Hall of Miller and Eric. It’s still possible that pay-by-play might prove him worthy of the honor, but it seems rather unlikely. Still, this guy is very much a member of the Hall of the Very Close to the Hall. If the team could have cloned Hack after Ron Santo left, they’d have won a lot more games and maybe even a playoff series or two.

Charlie Hollocher: This guy is virtually unknown today for his play, but was a fine shortstop of roughly All-Star caliber. That is, until the unrelenting pain from an undiagnosed intestinal disorder destroyed his sanity. He retired from baseball with 23 WAR’s worth of work behind him. Unfortunately what lay in front of him was much worse.  Despondent and depressed by the unremitting agony in his gut, he eventually shot himself in the throat, ending his life at age 44.

Bill Lange: Here’s another hard-luck case, though of a different sort. Lange was very fast and a good centerfielder. He had a fine all-around game and was twenty-eight years old when, as Bill James tells it in the New Historical Baseball Abstract, Lange asked for a woman’s hand in marriage. But her father thought baseball an undignified means by which to support his daughter and the family to come. Thus did the institution of marriage rob the institution of baseball of a pretty good ballplayer. In the event, Lange rang up 23 WAR in 7 seasons, which, to put into perspective, would be worth at least $150 million on today’s free agent market.

My Cubsonomicon

Who are my personal favorite Cubbies of all time? The four guys I’d toss up on that mountainside? Carlos Zambrano for sure. Good, good pitcher with twenty-four career homers, and lots of cray-cray. I’m also a retro-fan of Hippo Vaughn. That whole double-no-no game with Fred Toney and all. Or a no-no-no-no if you prefer. Also, Doug Dascenzo, right? 64 OPS+, but a perfect ERA+ with zero runs allowed in 5 innings pitched. And finally, the hardest-luck great pitcher around, Rick Reuschel. He pitched amazingly well for amazingly bad Cubs teams whose horrible infield defense must have demoralized the sinker balling righty, and whose Friendly Confines punished the few mistake pitches he made. Actually, I would carve a special face on the other side of the mountain too: Mike Schmidt who would have hit 2,000 homers if he’d played his home games at Wrigley Field. Schmidt played 138 games in Chicago, batting 611 times. He crushed 50 roundtrippers and had an OPS over 1.000. That’s in a span of time when the National League notched a .729 OPS. In 1980 alone, he hit .447/.500/1.211 with 8 homers and 16 RBIs in 9 games. In fact, he had more total bases (46) than plate appearances (42).

Next time out, Miller will chisel the likenesses of the crosstown Pale Hose.

Institutional History

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