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by Matthew Leach
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Hey, where's my ballot?The home office of MLB.com here in Manhattan has exactly zero Baseball Writers Association of America credentials. We also don't have any AP folks employed here. And for the record, no one claims to be a member of the Downtown Athletic Club. ... But we're still checking on that one. All of which is a long way of saying that Diamond Digits was not represented in any of the year-end award-giving in baseball. Gold Gloves, All-Rookie teams, MVP... none of it. Of course, with a bully pulpit, who needs a ballot? In previous editions of this column, I've discussed bases and outs -- and the ratio between them -- as a valuable way to assess a player's performance. A guy who gains a lot of bases is contributing quite a bit. A guy who makes a ton of outs hurts his club. After all, those are the things that a player can control, more than anything else. Barry Bonds has very little influence over whether Rich Aurilia is on base when he comes to bat. He also can't do all that much about whether Jeff Kent drives him in, once he gets on base. What he can do is get on base, and advance further on extra base hits and/or stolen bases. So one way to look at a player is to count every single base -- whether it comes via a walk, a single, an extra-base hit, a stolen base or even a hit-by-pitch. Then you can count up every out -- the ones that count in batting average, plus caught stealing, sacrifices (which help the team some, but are still outs), and the second out in a double play. When you take the ratio, you get a way -- not necessarily the best way, but a way -- to look at what a player did for his team offensively. Not surprisingly, it correlates fairly closely with OPS (on-base plus slugging), but not exactly. Before rating the players, a few notes --
Pos Player Score Rank C Mike Piazza 143 32 1B Jason Giambi 416 3 2B Roberto Alomar 217 19 3B Chipper Jones 274 10 SS Alex Rodriguez 284 9 OF Barry Bonds 761 1 OF Sammy Sosa 453 2 OF Luis Gonzalez 390 4 DH Manny Ramirez 236 12It's not especially revolutionary, and it doesn't tell you the very best players -- after all, even I admit that defense matters. You really should adjust for the removal of a baserunner with a caught stealing. Then you've got ballpark effects. And so on... So just have fun with it, OK? Tough trivia
The last round of questions stumped you all... Yeah!
Question 1: Five thousand nine hundred twenty-nine is the number of times Pete Rose reached base by hit, walk or hit by pitch -- more than anyone else.
Question 2: One hundred thirty-eight was the career home run record for more than 20 years -- Roger Connor retired with that many after the 1897 season, and the mark stood until Babe Ruth broke it in 1921. By 1924, Ruth had doubled the previous record. Of course, he retired having increased it by more than 400 percent!
Question 3: Those are the career stats of Mike Hargrove, now a manager but once a no-power on-base machine at first base.
Here are this week's questions. Have fun. E-mail the answers to me if you think you know 'em.
Question 1: Mark Whiten, Scott Sheldon and Kevin Seitzer are three of just eight players in history who have this amazing career stat.
Question 2: What pitcher holds the record for most career starts without pitching a shutout?
Question 3: What player's career stats read as follows?
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS OBP SLG AVG 2293 8288 1231 2365 412 55 185 1003 850 874 236 109 .352 .415 .285Matthew Leach is editor-at-large for MLB.com. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.