A reader sent me a message this week.
I have another suggestion for your Maranvillains. Two, actually, both shortstops. I think you already mentioned Eckstein, or he’d be a third – I loved his fury on the diamond.
I wanted to mention Ozzie, of course, because he was truly a delight and always worth the price of admission by himself, but also Cal Ripken, especially for his defensive play and his marvellous throwing arm especially. And he played the field so intelligently, and was a very very fine hitter.
Another guy who played with Eckstein’s reckless abandon and a far greater player with greater gifts was Larry Walker, who was a dynamo in right field with all the tools but also maximum commitment at all times, and a guy who could beat you with any style at the plate – walk, single, double, triple, long bomb. Another guy in Ripken’s mold – the guy who could have taught his position at Harvard – was Dwight Evans.
Ozzie Smith was an oversight. Guy would do cartwheels before games. BTW, I picked the Cardinals as my NL arch-nemesis during the mid-’80s. Some stoner kid in my brother’s high school class just moved here from Overland Park Kan. so we were rooting for the Royals in the 1985 World Series. Iorg’s single in Game Six was one of my favorite moments in baseball. Too, I was following the Mets back then (For the first time I remember, one of the Hartford stations carried their games)and they were in a fierce rivalry with the Redbirds at the time. But a number of the guys I’ve mentioned as Maranvillains have St. Louis ties.
I’m not sure about Ripken. From what I recall, he was a good fielder due to positioning. I don’t remember that many flashy plays because he had to dive for balls or anything. Did he put fannies in the seats? Maybe; especially later in his streak when he saved baseball before McGwire and Sosa saved the game. But how much of that was the Camden Yards effect?
I’ve already mentioned Evans. Walker, sadly, is a guy I know less about. I followed the National League more back when NBC did the Game Of The Week than I did afterwards. I didn’t have cable during the ’90s and by the aughts, I watched so many Red Sox games, I rarely watched anyone else. I’m trying to move from that this year. It’s one of my resolutions.
Carson Cistulli has certain criteria for his All-Joy team.
1. An MLB player whose advanced metrics (i.e. EqA, wOBA, VORP, UZR – really anything that attempts to improve upon AVG, HR, and RBIs) suggest greater production than is commonly perceived.
2. An MLB player whose peripheral numbers (i.e. xFIP, PrOPS, tRA) suggest greater production in near future.
3. Either an MLB part-timer or older (27 and up) minor leaguer whose production suggests probable success in expanded MLB role.
4. A younger (under 27) minor leaguer, but not top prospect, whose minor league numbers suggest success at the MLB level.
5. A player who demonstrates vigorously what Americans, quoting French poorly, call je ne sais quoi.
I should come up with something similar for Maranvillains. #5 is definitely part of it. But the rest of these rely on numbers. Nothing against Mark Bellhorn, but a player like Pokey Reese, albeit better, is more likely to be a Maranvillain. I still remember this game. Two very different home runs and I think he had some flashy defensive play in the game.