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Torii Hunter and Arthur Bryant

Here’s one where I jump from the Keltner List to Torii Hunter to the depth that drives the Royals and Mets success:

From NBC SportsWorld:

But look at the Royals and the Mets. As of right now, is there a likely Hall of Famer on either team? No. Sure, one of the younger players — a Matt Harvey or Eric Hosmer or Salvy Perez or Jacob DeGrom (who, at 27, is older than you expect) — might have another decade’s worth of excellence and work their way into the conversation. Guys like Granderson and Alex Gordon and David Wright have had nice careers and with a late-career boost could become candidates. You can throw Lorenzo Cain into that mix, if you like, though he started very late. The aforementioned Cyborg Wade Davis is a hard man to quantify but you can mention him too.

But you would have to say there’s a good chance neither of these teams will have anybody elected to the Hall of Fame. No player on either team will win an MVP Award this year or the Cy Young Award, and neither manager will win Manager of the Year. Dayton Moore has made the most moribund franchise a baseball force, and he has never won the Sporting News Executive of the Year (but the Blue Jays’ Alex Anthopoulos wins the award on the day he was essentially run out of Toronto). The Mets’ Sandy Alderson has not won it either, though his Oakland A’s won three consecutive pennants and his New York Mets were given up for dead countless times.

Strength in Numbers

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And, as bonus, the proper way to order burnt ends at Arthur Bryant’s.

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14 Responses to Torii Hunter and Arthur Bryant

  1. Interestingly, baseball reference says that 2002 Torii Hunter was nowhere near as good as Lorenzo Cain, mainly because Cain is as good as his rep on D while Hunter, at least in 2002, was not. Then again, that season was a bit of an outlier for him and given the error bars on defensive ratings…

    I’d still say no on Hunter and I think it’s pretty unlikely a team with him as it’s best player would win a pennant, although it’s certainly not impossible.

    By bWAR, Hunter’s best season was 2012 when he had 5.7WAR. That team actually missed the playoffs. Just looking at the pennant teams since 1995 (the Wildcard era), most of them usually have at least one player with more than that, with the following exceptions:

    1996 Yankees – best player was Andy Pettitte with 5.6. Best position player was Bernie Williams (4.0).
    1997 Indians – an 87 win team led by Jim Thome with 5.5.
    2000 Yankees – an 87 win team led by Jorge Posada with 5.5.
    2003 Marlins – Pudge Rodriguez (4.5)
    2005 White Sox – Mark Buerhle (4.8)
    2008 Rays – Carlos Pena (5.1)
    2011 Cardinals – Pujols (5.3)
    2014 Giants – Madison Bumgarner (5.3)

    None of these teams were great. Even the best of them (2005 Sox, 2008 Rays) won a lot of games, but significantly overshot their expected wins (and not surprisingly, significantly regressed the next year). Most of them won in the high 80’s which in a lot of years, wouldn’t be enough to even make the postseason. A lot of these teams probably weren’t better than Hunter’s aforementioned 2012 Angels.

    So, I’d say that if Hunter had a career year, he could be the best player on a borderline playoff team that has an unexpected run to the pennant. Not likely in other words.

  2. In addition to what I wrote above, I also never thought Hunter was especially close to a Hall of Famer and his peak just wasn’t great enough.

    Again, going by WAR and looking at his best 7 seasons, he ranks behind the following centre fielders amongst others:

    Kenny Lofton
    Carlos Beltran
    Jim Edmonds
    Andrew McCutcheon (already)
    Mike Trout (ditto)
    Bernie Williams
    Devon White
    Brett Butler
    Curtis Granderson
    Johnny Damon
    Mike Cameron
    Steve Finley
    Ray Lankford

    Hall of Fame?

    Very good player, belongs in the Twins ring of honour (or whatever they call it), but keep him out of my Hall please, and I’m not a “small Hall” kind of guy.

  3. jpg says:

    “Guys like Granderson and Alex Gordon and David Wright have had nice careers and with a late-career boost could become candidates.”

    This is really underselling David Wright. The guy has 53 fWAR through his age 32 season. For his career, he’s averaged 5.1 fWAR/150. He deserved the MVP in 2007 over Rollins and might have won a couple more if Albert Pujols wasn’t around. That’s not just a “nice career”. That’s a Hall of Fame level pace. He doesn’t need a late career boost. In fact, it’s the opposite. He just needs to hope that the spinal stenosis doesn’t get substantially worse because if his August return is any indication, he can still play at a pretty high level. He’s already 25th all time in fWAR among 3rd basemen. He’s 17 fWAR away from Scott Rolen who is HoF worthy and 18 fWAR away Ron Santo who is in. Considering his injury history, 17 fWAR will be tough for him to accumulate but it’s not inconceivable. The one thing that is fair to note is that the HoF bar for third basemen, for whatever reason, is absurdly high. Santo with 71 fWAR needed the Veteran’s Committee and several guys north of 60 fWAR – Nettles, Buddy Bell, Dick Allen and Darrell Evans – never got in.

    And I love Alex Gordon and sure, he’s developed into a wonderful player, but come on, he doesn’t even belong in the same conversation. His 29.7 fWAR is only a little bit more than half way to Wright’s fWAR total and is only fifteen months younger. Granderson doesn’t fit either because he’s 12 fWAR behind and nearly two years older. Wright is clearly a tier above or two above those two.

    • Jimmy says:

      Agree. If you told me I could have one of the three players – Gordon, Granderson, or Wright – it would take me nanoseconds to choose Wright. And that’s not even looking at the fWAR numbers or any other stats. Just the eye test over time…

    • The issue with Wright is the regression the last two years. If he regains his health and starts playing at a high level again, he could get there. But right now, he’s in sub Ken Boyer territory. Boyer had an MVP, 62 WAR and never got more than 25% of the HOF vote.

      Bottom line, Joe is right. Wright is not there and needs a late career boost or he’s behind Ken Boyer at 3rd base.

      • jpg says:

        Yeah he’s 9 fWAR ahead of Wright but Ken Boyer retired after his age 38 season. Wright just completed his age 32 season. Wright slashed .277/.381/.434 after he returned from injury, good for a 135 wRC+ and looked as good as he did before the injury. In just 38 games he was worth 1 WAR. With good health, he’s capable of catching Boyer in two or three seasons.

        Again he hasn’t been the sturdiest guy the past few years and that’s something that almost always gets worse with age. Heck who knows, the back issues may send his career off a cliff starting next season. But I just disagree with him needing a “late career boost” as Joe put it. Perhaps it’s an issue of semantics but I see it as Wright needing to decline gracefully and remain somewhat healthy.

  4. MikeN says:

    How many games does a 0 WAR team win?

  5. PropFan says:

    I will stay out of the Hall of Fame debate out of respect for the game, but for this Kansas Citian recently transplanted to Daytona Beach – where the word “barbeque” should be outlawed out of respect for the real thing – you nailed the Arthur Bryants experience.

    • All I know is when I moved to Georgia from the West Coast, I found out about barbecue (or however you want to spell it). On the west coast, barbecue means grilling outdoors. But I also found out when I visited Kentucky, that Georgia barbecue is terrible. I haven’t been to some of the other states that claim great barbecue, but I know Georgia’s is pretty weak.

    • Breadbaker says:

      I also think you nailed the Bryant experience (of course you would), including the red cream soda. I remember sitting there on a June afternoon and the entire room was talking about the Royals (who were frankly pretty bad) and no one minded I was a Mariners fan, because I could still diagnose the Royals’ problems with the rest of them.

  6. Brent says:

    Most WS winners have a HOF player on their team, looking retrospectively, not sure if this Royals team will join the crowd. Here is a quick list of some of the HOF players on the winners

    1903-1909: Young, Mathewson, Walsh M. Brown, Chance, Wagner,
    1910-1919: Baker, Plank, Speaker, Collins, Evers, Speaker, Ruth, Faber, Ruth, Roush
    1920-1929: Speaker, Frisch, Bancroft, Ruth, Johnson, P. Waner, Hornsby, Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx
    1930-1939: Grove, Grimes, Ruth, Ott, Dean, Greenberg, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Dickey, Ruffing
    1940-1949: Lombardi, Gordon, Slaughter, Dickey, Newhouser, Musial, Dimaggio, Boudreau, Berra
    1950-1959: Rizzuto, Mize, Mantle, Ford, Mays, Robinson, Berra, Aaron, Ford, Koufax
    1960-1969: Clemente, Mantle, Ford, Koufax, Gibson, Drysdale, Robinsons, Brock, Kaline, Seaver
    1970-1979: B. Robinson, Stargell, Fingers, Jackson, Hunter, Morgan, Bench, Jackson, Gossage, Stargell
    1980-1989: Schmidt, OPEN, Smith, Palmer, OPEN, Brett, Carter, Blyleven, Sutton, Henderson
    1990-1999: Larkin, Puckett, Alomar, Molitor, NO WS, Maddox, Boggs, OPEN, Jeter, Jeter,
    2000-2009: Jeter, Johnson, OPEN, OPEN, Martinez, Thomas, OPEN, OPEN, OPEN, Jeter
    2010-2015: OPEN, OPEN, OPEN, OPEN, OPEN, OPEN

    So no team had no HOFers until 1981. The 1981 Dodgers had a bunch of very good players, but no HOFers (they did have Fernando in his super rookie season). The 1984 Tigers have no HOFers yet, but Trammell probably should get in someday (and maybe Whitaker). The 1997 Marlins have no surefire HOFers but Sheffield has a chance someday as does Kevin Brown. The 2002 Angels are probably similar to the 81 Dodgers in that I don’t see a HOFer on that team. The 2003 Marlins had IRod, so they will be off this list soon. The 2006 and 2011 Cardinals had Pujols (and Yadi too). The 2007 Red Sox had Mr. Bloody Sock and David Ortiz. The 2008 Phillies might get shut out. The 2010, 2012 and 2014 Giants had Bumgarner and Posey, both of whom have a shot at it someday, dependent on health. The 2013 Red Sox had David Ortiz. The 2015 Royals are looking more like the 2002 Angels and 1981 Dodgers than anyone else.

    • That’s a good list. I’d say the 2002 Angels are the biggest outlier there, in that there’s no one who’s even close. Every other team has at least one guy who’ll draw support, if not make it. They were very similar to the 2015 Royals (high batting average, low walks / low strikeouts, low home runs but high doubles, starless starting pitching but strong depth and a good bullpen). That was just a team with a whole lot of average-ish players who just happened to have the best (or close to it) years of their career at the same time.

      • The HOF keeps adding the same number of players (or fewer!), while the number of teams has expanded. The odds have gone down dramatically that any team, even a World Series winner, contains a HOFer.

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