Category Archives: Maranvillains

Contemporary Sons of Rabbit Maranville

Back over the winter I asked a few baseball fans and writers about players they like to watch. I think of these guys as Maranvillains, but I’m not sure if that’s the best term anymore. Anyways, I suggested my famed Johnstone List for criteria, but I didn’t push it. A few answered.

Vince, a Chicago White Sox fan wrote: “Gordon Beckham comes to mind. I can’t stand him, but I could see Juan Pierre being sort of Maranvillean, what with the slappyness and the high pant legs. Maybe Mark Buehrle — for the pickoffs and the general quality of his defense and his craftiness as a pitcher. Jake Peavy’s got that really big wind-up and max-effort thing going… Maybe Bobby Jenks, too, because of his bulbous frame and weird hair (both top of head and facial).”

Brandon from Ohio came up with this list: “A few suggestions, all players I like to watch:

Pablo Sandoval
Clay Zavada
Shin-Soo Choo
Neftali Feliz”

Can’t argue with that Zvada ‘stache.

Negro League researcher Scott Simkus had this to say: “I’m from Chicago and perhaps the only guy I’d pay to see is Carlos Zambrano. One of his kids goes to same Chicago parochial school as my friend’s child, so Carlos and I obviously have a deep cosmic connection. Plus: The guy is out of his mind, both with talent and his on-field antics. He seems to possess a deep-seeded hatred for water coolers.

Truth is: Carlos has never lived up to his potential. Or, prehaps it would be more accurate to say he’s never lived up the expectations the Chicago Cubs organization has placed on him. Those of us in Chicago can remember when he was considered the number 3 starter here, before Kerry Wood and Mark Prior fell apart. If they’d stayed healthy, Big Z was considered a great number 2 or 3 starter in the Cubs rotation. Doesn’t mean the frustrations we fans experience while watching him melt down aren’t real, or that we don’t hope he’d emerge as a legitimate 20-game winner. They are, and we do.

I’d pay to see Carlos pitch. And sometimes I’d pay for an opportunity to throw tomatos at him.”

Here’s Dayn Perry from FOXSPorts: “My nominee for shortstop is Brendan Ryan. He’s a great glove. He plays ridiculously deep in the hole, ranges well everywhere, and uncorks powerful–and occasionally wild–throws. At the plate, he talks to himself. There are also the exposed socks (far too rare these days), and last season I got the sense that, unlike his teammates, he grew that mustache–easily the best Cardinal mustache since Keith Hernandez’s–without a hint of irony. ”

A’s fan and all around good guy Shooty wrote: “I like side-armers and underdogs so Brad Zeigler of the A’s fits your requirement for me. Carlos Gomez, would fit. Kevin Youkilis because if his general repulsiveness and excellent batting approach fits for me. I might go to a game to root for Papelbon to blow a game. Chase Utley I’d go to see since I think he’s the most beautifully technical ballplayer going now. I’ll think about this some more.”

Ryan from Toronto, you’re on the air: “Of the Jays, the closest player I can think of to what you’re looking for is Aaron Hill – he flashes a periodically great glove, and his all or nothing hitting (36 HR/42 BB) makes him an interesting guy to watch at the plate.”

Last but not least, the great Josh Wilker (I finally bought his book!): “I don’t know if I can offer anything–like you, I’m so Red-Sox-centric I don’t really have much of a feel for players on all those other nonessential teams. I’m looking forward to Red Soxian matters exclusively, like watching Beltre at third on a regular basis, seeing if Lester can edge into Cy Young territory, and, as always, the unending fascination that is Tim Wakefield. If I had to argue for one Bosox player to be on your fun and exciting roster it’d probably be Youkilis at first. I love watching that guy.

Living here in Chicago, I tried to come up with some local guys who might make the fun and exciting list. The first name that came to mind was Gordon Beckham. He’s pretty exciting but not spectacular in any way except that though he’s young he seems completely unafraid of the spotlight. A Dustin Pedroia type.”

There you have it, The beauty of these lists is that there’s no right answer. Some people like some players. Other people like other players.

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Daisuke Matsuzaka: Anti-Maranvillain

I haven’t written about the concept of Maranvillains lately, but this Patrick Sullivan article brought to mind the antithesis of Rabbitt and his heirs: Dice-K.

Also, just like so many other Red Sox fans, Daisuke drives me nuts. He works slowly and walks way too many batters. In his final four seasons for the Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka averaged 2.3 walks issued per nine innings. For the Red Sox, his 162-game average BB/9 has jumped to 4.3. Combine the walks, his inefficiency and his unreliability from a health standpoint and it’s all just very maddening.

I’m not one who lives and dies with my favorite sports teams, but even I find him maddening. Some day I’ll have to come up with a list of these guys. As frustrating as Matsuzaker (/Remdawg) might be, Steve Trachsel is probably worse.

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Trey Junkin, Eat Your Heart Out

Check out this play by Mark Buehrle. This is what I mean by Maranvillesque showmanship!

I caught this highlight somewhere yesterday, but thanks go out to The Factory for alerting me to the clip.

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Jose Reyes, Modern Day Rabbit Maranville

Joe Posnanski thinks so. Do any of you guys know the excitement formula that he and Bill James came up with? I don’t think you can boil this stuff down to integers, but I like where he was going.

Bill James and I plotted out formula (admittedly the formula is a lot more me than Bill — he just offered suggestions) to try and determine the most exciting players in baseball. I lost that original formula, but I tried to recreate it, taking into account triples (the most exciting play in baseball!), stolen bases, batting average, defensive excitement (subjective) and a couple of other things.

I’d add looong home runs and big whiffs to this list. I may counter it with unexciting plays (How often is the player intentionally walked? Does he hit a lot of routine grounders?)

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Keystone Kombo

I don’t have much to say about second basemen. Does anyone know who is good at turning the double play and who isn’t? That’s a position specific type of item that I’d like the answer to. By the way, these numbers aren’t rankings. I’m just making comments on these guys still.

1. Chase Utley. To say dual threat would be an understatement. And I hear that he’s hotter than Derek Jeter.
2. Dustin Pedroia. He reminds me a bit of Pete Rose; which is actually good in this context.
3. Brandon Philips. Power/speed combo guy. He can field, too.
4. Mike Fontenot. Dreck.
5. David Eckstein. Not really my type of guy, but here’s what one of my readers had to say about him.

“I have always found it immensely pleasurable to watch David Eckstein play baseball. There probably isn’t a ballplayer alive who couldn’t benefit from adapting something Eckstein does to his own game. (The last guys I remember who were like this were Ozzie Smith and Tony Fernandez). I hope Aaron Hill absorbed a lot of the lessons visible in Eckstein’s play while he was able to play with him this year – noted the furious commitment (to the moment and to the cause of winning) that carries ordinary players and ordinary teams to the top of the heap.

That said, Eckstein is not a major league shortstop anymore and since he still delivers value with the bat he really should be playing second base (presumably with the D-Backs he will). It’s been difficult to watch Eckstein struggle to make his body respond to the demands of a position it can no longer handle. I imagine Eckstein could still play a very fine second base… his feet are definitely not too slow, his footwork is still very fine and his arm, now a total liability at short, is plenty good enough for second.

Much like Mike Bordick before him, David Eckstein was an utter class act and the great thing about his time here is that he’s undoubtedly made tens of thousands of more fans for life. Players like David Eckstein actually deserve the hero worship that people give to athletes. I say that without knowing a thing about his personal life (he could bite the heads of baby rabbits for all I care); I mean he plays baseball like a religious mystic in the throes of a frenzied ecstasy.”


1. Hanley Ramirez. Okay, he IS #1.
2. Jose Reyes. Back when the Mets were in the playoffs the crowd at Shea sounded like they were at a soccer match when he came to bat. He gets points for that, but he’s exciting when healthy anyways.
3. Derek Jeter. Hypothetical: Let’s say that the War of The Worlds really took place and the Martians captured New York and spent a little R and R afterwards taking in games at Yankee Stadium. Never having seen baseball before, would they gravitate towards Jeter like the broadcasters do, or has his popularity bred more popularity? Jeter did have two of the bigger highlight reel moments of the last decade: his flip to the catcher to put out a non-sliding Jeremy Giambi during the ’01 ALDS and his dive in the Fenway boxseats in July of ’04 as Garciaparra watched from the bench.
4. Asdrubal Cabrera. No impression of him either way, but I wanted to type his Carthaginian name. As a second sacker, he had an unassisted triple play.
5. Ryan Theriot. Dreck.
6. Rafael Furcal. Has an UATP on his resume. And, he did it on ESPN.
7. Troy Tulowitzki. Another guy who’s turned three on his own. While researching this piece, I realized that these were most common in the ’20s and the aughts. Makes sense, when you think of it, a lot of baserunners in those decades. But why were they non-existent in the ’30s?
Well, that’s it for now. Next time, I’ll tackle the Hot Corner.

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When Roadgeekery Meets Baseball

You put your chocolate in my peanut butter!
No you put your peanut butter in MY chocolate!

Actually, this has something to do with someone who’s fame is larger than Pokey Reese’s.


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Interwiew With An Umpire

Arne Christensen recaps an interview with Ron Luciano. I’m not sure if we need men in blue on the Rabbit Maranville All Stars, but if we do, Luciano is one of them.

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