Nationals Baseball: Monday Quickie : NL East could be full of Arenado respect

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Monday Quickie : NL East could be full of Arenado respect

Not really much going on in baseball now that we're down to musical chairs with those RH OFs. The Hall of Fame announcement is tonight. I did a piece a decade ago (REALLY? a DECADE? I'm so old) about the psychology behind voting and it mostly still stands though "Be really good for a really long time and hit those magic numbers" is being replaced by "Be really good for a really long time and hit sabrmetric targets".  My feelings over time have moved firmly into the "whatever" group.  This is a popularity contest and it's subjective (you don't ask for votes if you aren't looking for opinions) so vote however you want, call people stupid for voting how they want, and in general try to have fun with it.  Nothing we do here changes what actually happened on the field. Harold Baines being in doesn't change the fact that there are like 50 offensive guys better than Harold Baines at baseball that aren't in. There are. They still exist.

 My ballot Jeter, Rolen, maybe Sheffield (one of those better than Baines guys!).  My gut wants to say Abreu for some reason. I can go either way on Clemens / Bonds.  Fine with them in - they were great. Fine with them out - they were cheaters who are also terrible people (Bonds likely beat his wife, Clemens likely slept with a 15 year old).

Given Zimm's mid career injury killed any HOF chance for him, Nats fans now just sit and wait patiently for 5 years after Max retires and wonder if a plaque can capture two different colored eyes.

In non HOF news Nolan Arenado isn't happy. Nats could use him. Braves could use him. Phillies could use him. Mets could use him though they'd have to move some guys around. The Braves would be an ideal location but if they didn't want to commit to Donaldson for 4 years would they commit to Arenado for 7 for more money?  Hard to see it even committing to Nolan for one "age year" less (36 for him vs 37 for Donaldson's demand).  The Nats would love to but seem committed to Kieboom and hard to see the Rockies settling for just Carter and any more guts the Nats system and seems very un-Nats like, also cap issues. Phillies? Are they still around? I see him somewhere other than Colorado by the end of 2020 but I don't see him in the East right now.  Mid-season might change that up once these teams who all hope they can just cruise to the playoffs and not have to commit much, (or miss the playoffs by a lot and not have to commit much) find themselves in a troublesome middle ground.

The Braves did bring in King Felix to kick the tires on him. Felix is not old - 34 in 2020, but he was bad last year and hasn't had even an ok season since 2016. While we generally think of successful guys as big K guys Felix wasn't really was that. He was a GB control master who never gave up the long ball and ate up tons of innings. From 2008-2014 his HR9 was 0.6 and 7 IP average. He was like Maddux more than anyone. But those skills are gone. He give up the flyballs now, the homers, and he's not compensating by walking fewer (he's walking more) or striking out more (he's striking out fewer).  He's also not eating innings.  This is a hail mary.


JWLumley said...

A BASEBALL HOF without Bonds and Clemens just sucks. Sure, they're both terrible people, but Bonds is the best hitter ever. It's really not close when you account for the level of competition. Clemens is a top 5 starting pitcher.

Also, if we throw out all the cheaters, start with the sanctimonious Hank Aaron, who admitted to taking Greenies/Amphetamines, which is a proven PED.

Unfortunately, it'll probably only be Right Past a Diving Jeter who gets in. Along with Cal Ripken, the two best 3rd basemen to ever play SS. Definitely belongs in, but he's not close to an inner circle HOFer.

Harper said...

Cal was a really good defensive SS for most of his career. Don't let the last few years of "We're so desperate to sit him we're going to tell you Ryan Minor is good" fool you.

As for Jeter - I see it's a textbook case of why you should always try to be your best. Jeter's defensive career went like this

-I'm an average SS. Don't have to try. Surely age won't slow me down
-Oh no I'm terrible now! I'll try.
-Back to being ok. Nothing will every slow me down again
-Oh no Age still happens. I'm terrible again. We'll shift to make up for it
-Phew. Ok again. Finally at a place where nothing can go wrong
-OH NO! Super old!

If he just committed himself to being the best defender he could be from the start he probably would have spent 5 years being pretty good and another 10 being perfectly acceptable before just aging out. Instead he put only as much effort into it as he thought he needed to avoid being terrible for the immediate future. Now people talk about his bad D a lot more than they probably should

PotomacFan said...

Ty Cobb wasn't a good guy either. With regard to Bonds and Clemens, they should definitely be in the HOF. Just add an asterisk if needed. Both Bonds and Clemens had HOF careers BEFORE they even started with steroids.

Is Carlos Beltran no longer an HOFer because of his (short) time with the Astros? Are Bregman and Altuve forever tainted?

Cautiously Pessimistic said...


Let's be realistic. This sign stealing scandal is going to blow over and be forgotten by the end of 2020. There are already plenty of accusations going around pointing the finger at other teams, and I wouldn't be surprised if basically everyone was doing it in some capacity. So it becomes a steroids issue again (everyone doing it), but the marginal gain of stealing signs is significantly less than that of having gargantuan arms and the ability to recover from injury in half the time.

mike k said...

I grew up a Yankee fan. Jeter is a first ballot no doubt, even without the Yankee allure. His offense, while playing acceptable defense at SS, put him as one of the best all time IMO. When he played I think his offense was overrated (to be fair I was watching Yankee broadcasts who would fawn over everything he did), now I think it's probably a bit underrated. He made some incredible plays - granted those plays would be made in a non-incredible manner by a top defensive SS - but the point is he still made them (JW: meme aside, it's not "right past a diving Jeter", it's "what a diving grab by Jeter" when other SS just backhand it). He was probably MLB average SS when he first came up and below average into his 30s.

My favorite Jeter play was the relay during the 2001 ALDS. Absolutely incredible - no one else would even think of that - and to have the foresight to run in from SS after seeing the OF throw would miss the cutoff guy and was slightly offline....

I'm not going to go through the entire ballot now, but I would definitely vote in Larry Walker. Guy was a beast. Has more career bWAR than Beltran *and* Jeter.

mike k said...

Whoops...change "offense" to "defense" in as being overrated/underrated.

billyhacker said...

I can't really care about HOF. Like rock n roll håll of fame. Who cares?

But I do care where arenado plays. His opt out seems like a real pain to trade. Requires contingent compensation like $10m/yr if he stays or value of prospects in cash if he goes? Just too many numbers to agree on. And rockies aren't great at math in any case. So he will definitely be gone after 2021 either by trade or opt out. Hard to see happen before then.

SM said...

Let me understand this: Arenado signed a long-term, fabulously lucrative contract (a "horse-choking wad of cash" metaphor comes to mind), but is now unhappy the Rockies won't spend similar amounts to transform the team into a legitimate contender?

Is that about it?

I'm waiting for a dissertation from you-know-where to explore how many players with 5+year contracts have ever won a World Series with the team signing them to that contract. (Yes, Max is one of them.)

blovy8 said...

I don't think it's that uncommon SM. Reggie Jackson springs to mind as one of the first with his five-year deal with the Yankees including two titles. But even recently, Jon Lester got six years from the Cubs and won a World Series, hell, they survived Jason Heyward's deal too. David Price has won a WS with the Red Sox within his pretty bad 7-year deal.

Mr. T said...

It was a ton of money, but Arenado clearly signed under the assumption the Rox would still try to be competitive. Maybe it was a verbal agreement, maybe it was never spelled out in detail, maybe he was dumb for believing it, but he believed it. And now they're telling him they won't do anything--and they'll only trade him (a guy with a no trade clause, who can opt out in a year!) for a King's ransom. I can understand why he's pissed.

BxJaycobb said...

1. I guess I just don't have that much sympathy for Arenado. Signing a huge extension in Colorado is just stupid if you care deeply about winning. You're not going to be able contend except in borderline random bursts, given the environment. In terms of where he ends up, still think STL is most likely. Maybe Cubs in some Bryant deal.

2. Look, if Jeter played in San Diego or Seattle for most of his career, he would be a guy who definitely eventually got into the HOF, but I suppose I sort of doubt on the first ballot. Basically never the best at his retrospect his WAR isn't that amazing for a HOF....but he got 3k hits and legitimately one of the best offensive shortstops ever.....seems like HOF but after a few ballots. Since he was on the Yankees for dynasty run and performed well in playoffs, hell get 100% of the vote.

3. I don't think Bond was *already* the best hitter ever before he juiced up....even considering the competition he played against. And you can't compare to Aaron....we're talking about a total transformation in late 30s where a guy hits for double the power. He was, however, on track to be one of the 2-3 best ALL-AROUND players ever even before he juiced up---perhaps he would have ended up as high as Number 2 to Mike Trout (and yes, higher than folks like Willie Mays, Ruth, etc because of competition). But you can't ignore the steroids....a guy who averaged 30-35 homers a year suddenly became greatest power hitter of all time around age 40. Nevertheless, imagining a world in which he doesn't cheat, Bonds probably retires with 4 MVP awards, 500 homers, 400 steals, a ton of gold gloves in LF (it is important to recall he played LF not CF, when evaluating him historically IMO vs folks like Trout and, say, Griffey Jr. or even Willie Mays--would he have been an excellent defensive CF? Perhaps not.) But yeah.....if he had never cheated, Bonds is a top 5 all time player, with a shot at best ever, non-Trout division.

Harper said...

Bx - 2) Nah 6th all time in hits? He gets in first ballot. Also while NY giveth if he say... leads the Mariners to the playoffs in 2006 that gets him an MVP over Morneau as opposed to just another loaded Yankees playoff team. Generally the 2nd best SS of the millenium time frame imagine the push if he's in Seattle and you find out A-Rod is a big cheat? All those playoff appearances and heroics pushed him close to 100% but he's in first ballot whereever.

Matt said...

I basically agree with Harper that Jeter's objectively a 1st ballot HOF. Glad the man is getting his plaque.

But man the Jeter media love made/makes me grit my teeth and makes me want to agree with Bx. He was very good, but also those teams were absolutely stacked with very good players. I have no idea why Jeter gets such a large share of the credit for their collective accomplishments.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper It's possible you're right, and of course we'll never know. But just consider this one counterargument: On both a rate basis, and by cumulative career value, Derek Jeter was basically a clone of another HOF SS, Barry Larkin.

Larkin: .295/.371/.444, 118 wRC+, 67 fWAR, 12x All-Star, 1995 MVP, WS Champ
Jeter: .310/.377/.440, 119 wRC+, 73 fWAR, 14x All-Star, many rings

Same offensive player on the field, whereas Larkin was a better defender; that is, he was a BARELY better player than Jeter *on a rate basis*. But you're splitting hairs here...they really were quite close to the same guy on the field. The only real difference is in their counting stats: Because Jeter was a touch healthier and hung on longer (too long, frankly), he played more games: 2,747 G for Jeter vs. 2180 G for Larkin. Yet they ended up with vaguely comparable career value (because Larkin was a tiny, tiny bit of a more complete player).

In terms of accolades, Larkin went to almost as many All Star games as Jeter (12 vs 14)...and he did win an MVP, something Jeter never did (I wouldn't bring this up, except that Harper, you mentioned Jeter would've won one if he wasn't in NYC , etc)...and Larkin did win a World Series, albeit not a dynasty, and not in New York City.

I say all this because Barry Larkin had to wait 3 years to get into the HOF. He was the same dude, with fewer games and hits, yeah, but an MVP trophy to perhaps balance that out.

You're still positive Jeter would be 1st ballot if Larkin and Jeter switched teams? 3,000 hits isn't an automatic first-ballot; I know he's not as good as Jeter, but see Biggio, Craig on that one, who had to wait a while.

I think it's entirely possible he would've waited a year. Also possible he would've gotten in. But Larkin is the best counterargument.

DezoPenguin said...

Always had a weird relationship with my feelings about Jeter. I think the biggest thing that I didn't like about him was that the Yankees traded for Rodriguez, the legitimate best player in the league at the time, and Jeter's ego forced A-Rod off his position. I don't know if he straight-up demanded it or if management just pussyfooted around him, but either way, the Yankees deliberately put a worse baseball team on the field so Jeter wouldn't feel bad. (On the other hand, the 1990s "I'll pay my infield more than some teams pay their entire team" Yankees are kind of everything I hate in baseball, so...) But he's still a no-doubt Hall of Famer. To me the question is simple: Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Yes. Therefore vote for him. And there aren't ten other guys who are eligible who deserve it more than he does. Ergo, vote for him, and as much as I dislike him, I'm glad that he was elected and I think the one guy who didn't vote for him ought to...I don't know, suffer some exaggerated consequences that would be thought up by some guy whining on the Internet.

Really glad Larry Walker got in. Always was a big fan when he was with the Expos, and was sad to see him leave. (God, that 1994 team was so good...) I even rooted for him when he was a Cardinal, and believe you me that takes a lot of doing. Rolen ought to be there.

BxJaycobb said...

@Matt. Watching all those years, I know Jeter was the most famous and the most handsome and dating Mariah Carey or whatever, but I always thought the Yankees best player of the dynasty years was Bernie Williams, who, rather bizarrely, doesn't even get mentioned in the "core four" stuff for some bizarre reason. Bernie Williams was a way bigger reason for all those rings than say, Jorge Posada. I just was always always most terrified when he came to the plate. Seems like he has gotten short shrift. Maybe my memory is fogged--I haven't looked at his numbers in a long time.

TwoGloves said...

Hopefully Bonds & Clemens will never get in the HOF. I grew up near Pittsburgh watching Bonds when he broke into the Bigs. No question he was talented, but to see his physical transformation once he started to juice in just ridiculous. At his age, your body doesn't change the way his did without steroids. I do think that he would of been a HOFer without juicing, but he chose to do so anyway. As a result, you don't go to the HOF - his choice.

Ole PBN said...

I kind of like the formula the Nats seemed to use for their title last year: save your money on prime time FA’s, develop a young core, only trade for veteran role players.

I feel like Arenado gobbles up two of those (depletes the farm, and costs a ton of money). Better question is, how many times has a deal like that worked out? I used to worry that a Bryce-type deal would handicap the team from competing in future seasons. Not the case, if you’re able to hold on to your assets. Other sports, like the NBA, make the trade market much more appealing. Any team would trade three first round picks for a LeBron James because he alone can impact a game by himself. You don’t build teams in the NBA, you find as many stars as you can roll with that. I have zero interest in Arenado, especially with that opt-out. Hard pass.

Harper said...

But it wasn't 3K it was 3500. It was the difference between 500 and 600 homers in a sense. You mention Biggio. He's basically a very similar player to Lou Whitaker. Not exact contemporaries but lines look similar

.281 / .363 / .433
.276 / .363 / .426

But Biggio played almost 500 more games. What's the end result - Biggio gets in, Whitaker is dying on the vine in the veterans committee.

Skill and Time matter. Jeter had an abundance of both.

And people do care about hits vs walks. Compare a Bobby Grich vs a Roberto Almoar. Both highly regarded defensive 2nd basemen with good power for the position. Alomar plays 300 more games and gets on with singles. Grich gets on with walks. Alomar walks in. Grich still on outside

Basically I'm saying - you're not wrong about Larkin vs Jeter but you are WAY discounting the importance of (1) getting hits as opposed to walks and (2) playing longer.

mike k said...

The "is Jeter a first ballot HoF if he didn't play for the Yankees" question is an interesting one and I don't think there will ever be a definitive answer. I know I said he definitely is earlier in this thread...and I still believe he would be...but I'm less convinced now. For one, he doesn't have the WAR of a first ballot guy. He's tied 8th all time for SS in wRC+ with a minimum 5000 PA; 3rd with minimum 10,000 PA. Is that a first ballot guy? Maybe. For two, how do you calculate his playoff success? Do you assume "not on the Yankees" means he doesn't go to the playoffs as often because other players of his caliber didn't? Ok, but then you take away his playoff heroics, which he did do and therefore should get credit for it. Or, do you assume "not on the Yankees" means he did what he did in the playoffs but for a less famous team. Then you give him his playoff success back but it's unfair to his comps who didn't get those opportunities.

I don't think the comparison to Larkin is fair, mostly for the playing longer reason that Harper points out. To be more specific - it's not only that Jeter played more games in his prime (according to a quick br search), increasing his value there, but he also played more games late in his career, ages 36-40. That brings down your career average. Meaning, I think Jeter's comparable career average is more impressive than Larkin's, because he played more games outside his prime.

Re: core four - IIRC, the term wasn't used until many years after the dynasty as a marketing move to connect a very different team to its glory years of the past. There were multiple players, in particular Bernie Williams, who were central to those teams and were as good or better than Posada/Pettite, but they weren't on the team when the term was coined. Each of the "core four" were on the team when they won in 2009.

Anonymous said...

If Bonds doesn't get in the HOF then they should remove Koufax, Aaron and many others that played with their day's PEDs. The hypocrisy on this question is astounding. Bonds was a HOFer by the time he was 30. He is the best hitter I have ever seen. The main reason with Bonds is the hatred of the media for Bonds. I know from where I speak as I was a sports cameraman in many a locker room and Bonds would call out reporters for sloppy/untrue comments. I shot interviews that when aired barely resembled the context on his comments.

SuburbanSteve said...

Ozuna to the Braves...they're touting him as a decent replacement for Donaldson? Thoughts on that?

Jay said...

I think if Arenado gets traded it will be to St. Louis. They have the prospects and the need. There are even rumors of including Matt Carpenter as part of the deal, though last year he wasn't as good. I'd love the Nats to get him. He is probably the best 3rd baseman in the league. However, that would be very, very un-Rizzo like. I think Ozuna is a decent pick up for the Braves. He's a good RH bat that can bat in front of Freeman. The Braves are the clear favorites in the NL East imo. However, that doesn't really mean much. I will say that counting on Kieboom seems rather silly to me. If Rizzo had come out at the beginning of the offseason and said, "We don't need Rendon. We're going to replace him with Kieboom. He's ready." People would have laughed. However, since the offseason played out the way it did, then it is sort of ok that Kieboom is the guy now. Rizzo's strength is as a scout, but I'm hoping he has a few more tricks up his sleeve. Also, this is the second year in a row that the Lerners have treated the CBT as a hard cap. That is going to get more difficult as the Nats young players (Turner, Soto, Robles) get more expensive. It's tough to pay three of your starting pitchers close to $90 million and try to spend $110 million on everyone else. I think Adam Eaton is the highest paid every day player on the team at $9 million.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Jeter is 11th all time in JAWS which takes into account both peak and longevity. The only person ahead of him not in the HOF is Bill Dahlen who played at the turn of the 20th century. The average of all HOF SS is equivalent to 17th all time. Jeter deserves to get in. However, the closest comp is Alan Trammell WHO GOT IN VIA THE MODERN ERA COMMITTEE

Jeter is not a first ballot HOFer without being a Yankee during the dynasty years.

Jimmy said...

Thames’ 2019 (PA 459) vs Ozuna’s 2019 (549 PA):

Thames: .247/.346/.505/.851 WRC+116
Ozuna: .243/.330/.474/.804 WRC+110

Thames: 23 2B 25 HR 2 3B 51 BB 140 K
Ozuna: 23 2B 29 HR 1 3B 62 BB 114 K

Thames: BB% 11.1 K% 30.5
Ozuna: BB% 11.3 K% 20.8

Thames: $4 Million guaranteed
Ozuna: $18 Million guaranteed

Thames: 0 GIDP
Ozuna: 21 GIDP

I'll grant you Ozuna has the higher upside.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Also, along the Bonds train, you can lump Biggio into that conversation as well when it comes to steroids. Total hypocrisy by voters

TwoGloves said...

To all of the Bonds apologists out there, if they put Bonds in, why not put Pete Rose in them too??? Even though he broke the cardinal rule of baseball, it had no impact on his performance on the field - a BIG difference. I personally think Rose should be in, but he broke the rules and has to suffer because of it.

BxJaycobb said...

@Harper. Right. I suppose what I would say is that with the changing, younger, more analytical, rate-based electorate I don't think the 3k hits 500 homer, played a longer time stuff is as conclusive as it used to be, nor the hits over walks stuff.....I think you see that with Larry Walker and Vlad Guerrero getting in, and Raines finally getting in, and Rolen on his way to getting in. People who were phenomenal for stretches of time but don't even approach the round number you used to have to approach. The Hall election seems to be changing with baseball, just at a delayed reaction. That doesn't mean I don't recognize Jeter is a superior candidate to Larkin and Trammell. He is. He's just not (if he were on another team) a *much* better candidate, and given that Trammell never was voted in and Larkin waited multiple years with an MVP trophy, I still don't think it's obvious Jeter would walk in. Maybe. This may also be my bias in favor of peak performance over longevity. I've just never cared, for whatever reason, that Player X retired at 35 and Player Y played another 6 years at average big leaguer/below All-Star-ish levels (but still was an All Star every year because he's famous) and thus got to a milestone number. It's why I think it's weird that Andrew Jones and Don Mattingly never got close, but Biggio is in---a dude nobody ever watched and was like "WOAH!" But I realize that's not the norm view. Although I believe that view IS increasingly taking hold. (See Walker, Vlad, Rolen).

BxJaycobb said...

Regarding Bonds view is you put everybody in who had the numbers to be a Hall of Famer. Pete Rose sure. Bonds and Clemens sure. Hell put Shoeless Joe Jackson in there. All of this stuff happened. You're not going to eras it from history. Nobody is going to forget Barry Bonds. Put it on the plaque if you want. Walking through the HOF should be like walking through baseball history IMO. But more importantly than all of this, it's too hard to distinguish between who was cheating and who wasn't. I mean it's just educated guessing to say that Bagwell and Piazza and Biggio and even those who don't SEEM like steroiders didn't do steroids but Bonds and Clemens did. You can't distinguish (prior to testing) any more than you can say which Astros were heavily involved in the cheating and which were not. Bonds and Clemens seem especially stupid to me though because--by all appearances, and again, you never know-- if they retired rather than did steroids later in their career, they would be first ballot hall of famers.

PotomacFan said...

@BxJaycobb: very well stated. I agree with you 100%. Rose, Bonds, Clemens, Shoeless Joe Jackson should be in the Hall of Fame -- and then there should be something on or near their plaque explaining the controversy/bad behavior/violation of league policy, etc.

JWLumley said...

@TwoGloves - I think Rose should be in as well, however, the difference between the two guys is that Rose broke a rule that everyone knew since the Black Sox would get you banned, which is why other players never got near it. As for Bonds and Steroids, the thing people who never played baseball professionally don't understand is that the benefit of steroids isn't so much the muscle, it's the recovery. The schedule is an absolute grind on your body, most guys lose 5-10 lbs of muscle, which is why I lump amphetamines in with steroids as both help with recovery, albeit in different ways and while steroids add muscle mass, greenies help with concentration. Yes, he got bigger and hit for more power, but you also have to factor in the league at that time. The league had just gone through expansion AND I truly believe MLB did something with the baseballs, akin to what we saw last year which is why you saw non-steroid type players like Brady Anderson and Rich Aurilia suddenly explode for hug homerun totals. Also, adding muscle mass doesn't necessarily equate to homeruns, as increased muscle mass often means decreased flexibility.

Here's the biggest thing for me: Aaron and Mays belong in the HOF because the use of Greenies was rampant in their day and they were still some of the best players. Steroid use during the time of Bonds and Clemens was rampant and during their era they were the best. Because MLB tested for neither, it's impossible to say who was and wasn't using them. If you're going to elect the guy who oversaw it all--Bud Selig--than you also need to elect the players who took part in it.

JE34 said...

Ozuna is an undisciplined hitter who runs into mistake pitches periodically. Glad he's not a Nat. All those GIDPs, trying to pull every pitch. Enjoy, Atlanta!

There is something weird about how a few hundred keyboard-jockey nerds who love baseball (but could not actually play the game themselves) get to decide who is HOF worthy and who is not. As a member of the nerdly social caste (I'm good with the glove, but I was the worst hitter on the planet), I feel like it's payback for all those years of torment. So yes -- dorks unite!

Mr. T said...

The hatred some people have for steroid users is an interesting phenomenon that seems linked to people's feelings about illegal drug use, and ideas of bodily contamination more broadly--that is, it's a visceral response that's often expressed as politics. Bonds and Clemens are very literally tainted in these people's minds--they are terrible people who committed a deeply immoral sin, and they must be punished to the fullest extent possible.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised to hear so many apologists?

You should treat steroids like corking a bat. Corking the bat allows for increased bat speed, which lets you wait longer on a pitch and have better pitch identification, and as a result even a small change in bat speed can dramatically improve stat lines. It has nothing to do with being "Anti-drug". I'd feel the same way if someone got a robotic contact that told them what the pitch was going to be as the pitcher wound up.

If you want gambling on fixed outcomes (granted at least Rose bet on himself), go root for WWE.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...


It's not being an apologist, it's being a pragmatist. We have to recognize that if not a majority, a large plurality of players were juicing. It was rampant, and it was among the great players and the replacement level players (and arguably it still is). So yes, Bonds and Clemens should be recognized for their achievements, because they were still the best amongst cheaters even if they themselves also cheated. It's similar to the Astros/Red Sox scandal now. You're not going to strip the teams of their pennants, and players like Verlander and Beltran are still going to make the HOF. We can recognize people's achievements without sweeping their misdeeds under the rug. It's not black and white

Anonymous said...

@Cautiously Pessimistic:

Respectfully, I disagree strongly. Anyone confirmed to have used steroids from the era where it was common should be banned. The logic that they should be rewarded for being the best of a cheaters seems pretty dubious - it's not like if everyone was insider trading, and a large portion of those folks got caught, we should be celebrating the success of the best inside trader? It'd be one thing if it was once okay and then changed, but these guys knew they were breaking the rules.

Fwiw, I think lower level players on the fringe of MLB almost certainly still juice, doesn't make it okay.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 2:35

But it was ok and then changed! I mean, it was never ok among the general public, either in the court of public opinion or in terms of actual legality. But in baseball there have always been some rule violations that get really serious consequences while most get a slap on the wrist -- and steroid use (and PEDs more generally) went from a rule no one really cared about breaking to one of the serious ones in 2004.

It's just nuts to be more mad at Bonds and Sosa and Clemens and McGwire than at Selig and La Russa and Torre.

And it's equally nuts to think that those players (again, before 2004) had any reason to think steroid use was going to be treated any more seriously than amphetamine use had been over the previous 50 years. How were they supposed to know that?

It's good that PEDs are (mostly) out of the game. But the venom that most of the greatest players of the 90s have had to deal with is just insane.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

@Anon 2:35,

Your analogy doesn't really apply here because people who do insider trading are a very small minority of all traders, and there's known punishment through the SEC for doing so. There was no punishment for PED or really any drug use during the 90s, so there was no disincentive to doing it. It doesn't make it morally okay to have done it, but when everyone else is doing it and your livelihood depends on being better than everyone else, of course you are going to cheat.

So recognize the players accomplishments and put that whole era into context with asterisks or displays about steroid use or whatever. But the HOF is supposed to recognize the best players of their era. Had someone broken the single season HR record this year with the juiced ball, I'd argue you should do the same thing: asterisk. Let's not try and ignore or rewrite history, let's accept it for all it's warts

Anonymous said...

Yea the analogy is definitely flawed, I'm mostly highlighting that you can acknowledge history without canonizing. I have no desire to celebrate that version of history by honoring them with the HOF.

As a broad societal comment - saying "they didn't know because everyone else was doing it" might be the worst message to send in any context. As a more specific thread response, the amphetamine comparison is also way off - players knew they were getting an edge similar to corking with roids, that's why they did it.

G Cracka X said...

Zim back on a $2mil deal with incentives!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 4:34

You think they were using greenies for wild clubhouse hijinx?

Players who use PEDs do so because they believe it will help them perform. That was true in 1950. It was true in 1996. And it's true today.

The difference is that players today know that there will be serious consequences if they're caught.

DezoPenguin said...

And Zim is back. I'm not sure that I'm happy about this.

The only position Zim can play is 1B (or DH). Now, we already have Eric Thames on the team, and like Lind and Adams before him, Thames mashes RHP and is basically a nullity against LHP. Zim, on the other hand, mashes LHP and recently (2017 a notable exception) is lousy against RHP. Therefore, the solution seems obvious: a traditional straight platoon of Zim and Thames. Except that:

1. Recent history has shown us that both Dusty and Davey will try their very hardest to pretend that Zim actually can hit RHP and should be a full-time player. Phrases like "Mr. Nat" and "Veteran presence" get tossed around.

2. 1B against LHP was Howie Kendrick's easiest route to getting substantial playing time. You want Howie's bat in the lineup (no, I don't think he's likely to put up 2019 numbers again, but his track record is such that a 115-120 wRC+ type of bat is plainly within reach. Howie projects to be our second-best-overall hitter and as such should be in the lineup as often as his body allows him to be. And now, it looks like his easiest path to playing time looks to be platooning at 2B with Castro, and that means playing him in the field at 2B, never an ideal situation.

Now, there's a couple of situations where having Zim around looks better. One is if Kieboom fails to seize the 3B job. At that point there's Thames/Zim at 1B and a Kendrick/Castro/Cabrera rotation at 2B-3B and there's playing time for all. The other situation is, of course, injury. Baseball players get hurt and the players we have aren't spring chickens (Thames, especially, has some injury history, which would open more 1B time). Unfortunately, of the IF group, history suggests it's actually Zim who has the highest chance of being the injured one.

Ryan Zimmerman was a shining point of light through many bad seasons for the Nats, has produced many great moments and clutch hits, I'm happy as all get out that he could get a World Series ring, and I wish him all the best. But I'm not sure that he makes the most sense from a roster construction perspective. Hopefully Davey will manage his usage right and he'll prove me wrong to worry.

mike k said...

@Dezo I'm not sure your #1 is correct anymore. Zim isn't making $18M (it doesn't matter but it does) and is a bit older now so there's less hope he recaptures his younger years. I'm not saying he'll never hit against RHP but I think this will be more of an equal platoon than a "sit Zim against tough righties" that we saw in the past. I expect both will get fairly equal playing time, unless someone gets hot.

I like the move given the Nats didn't resign Rendon/didn't get Donaldson. It's a crowded infield in terms of MLB-level bats but it's also an old infield and only 2 of those bats can really be counted on to perform as they have in the past (Turner and Castro). Given the possibility of injury, possibility of an older bat going cold, the need to limit some older guys, and Kieboom being a rookie, I don't think there will be an issue finding Kendrick work this year. I can't really predict a clear path for it, but I don't see it not happening, either.

Anonymous said...

Anon @10:35

That seems pretty irrelevant. Greenies weren't even banned til 2006, and dex is incredibly different than roids in general in terms of actually improving capability (muscle mass, etc.). Might as well frown on players drinking coffee.

Anonymous said...

Uh, just like steroids, amphetamines are illegal drugs absent a prescription (since 1971 at least), and the same toothless policy that made steroids against MLB rules also applied to amphetamines.

The 2006 change you mention is exactly my point. That was when baseball added amphetamines to the new PED testing regimen and punishments protocol that were applied to steroids in 2004. If you want to throw the book at steroid users post 2004, and excuse amphetamine users until 2006, then fine. But, before then, there was no daylight between how the game treated the two drugs.

And it doesn't really matter if steroids help a player more or less than amphetamines. The context that matters is whether the players should have known at the time that a particular transgression was a serious one with serious consequences. And I'm just really confused how you think a player in the 90s was supposed to know that steroids were a big deal. (I also don't blame Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Mike Schmidt or hundreds of other players for using amphetamines -- I mean, it wasn't good for them and I wish the game had had better institutions in place, but it wasn't a deep moral failing on their part.)

And though I think it is deeply irrelevant to the moral calculus, I also think you're making a leap to argue that, just because the effects of steroids are visible changes to a player's body (eg muscle mass), they enhance performance more than amphetamines. Zips is only one projection system, so I wouldn't want to read too much into this, but Dan Szymborski has said that positive steroid tests have no predictive signal for the player involved. Which either means that the benefits of steroids are smaller than the normal statistical noise of the game, or that they are somehow robust and last into future seasons even after the player stops taking the drug. (Or, I suppose, it could mean that the players respond to a positive test by finding a better masking agent. Though the relative dearth of multiple violations despite constantly improving tests makes that unlikely.)

Which isn't to say that I don't think the drugs had an effect -- I just have no idea how large of an effect they had. Either drug. If you have a link to an analysis that looks at known and suspected users of the two drugs and evaluates their relative impact, I'd love to see it.

Anonymous said...

@Anon at 10:58 - agreed, context matters. Steroids were officially a banned substance in MLB in 1991, not 2006. Seems like you're adding irrelevant context to twist an argument here.

Regarding steroids vs amph. - There's a whole body of research out there that shows steroids improved reaction time a clear and measurable amount for MLB players. The book is out on amph., which intuitively makes sense.

Anagramsci said...

ban everyone from the hall of fame and burn it down. the whole place makes no sense without Barry Bonds

Mark said...

Ryan had a .966 OPS against Left Handed Pitching LAST YEAR. (He was over 1.000 the previous two years). He was terrible against Right Handed Pitchers in 2019. If Ryan is healthy, he will get a LOT of at bats against LHP and he will be very good. He should NEVER swing a bat against a RHP this season.

Eric Thames OPS against Right Handed pitching was.877 last year. Basically the opposite of Ryan. Together in a lefty / righty platoon they are a very good offensive first baseman with an OPS likely greater than .900. The Nationals have Kendrick and Cabrerra ready to step in in case of injury.

This is a really deep infield. Last year we had to rely on Difo and his .628 OPS for 43 games in the infield, along with an unprepared Kieboom and his .491 OPS for 11 games. Lack of infield depth and the historically horrific bullpen are the reason for the 17-31 start. With infield depth and a better bullpen the Nationals win 7 more games if they had just played .500 in the first 48 games of the season. They would probably have won 10 more if they played at the same win percentage as they did for the other 114 games.

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