Category Archives: Maranvillains

The Big Mac Behemoths


I cracked wise about catchers last Friday. For the uninitiated, I’m looking at how Maranville current players are; loosely using criteria from my Johnstone List. I haven’t followed everyone in recent years, so feel free to chime in. This time first basemen are my victims. I named them after McGwire because BP was appointment viewing when he was around.

1. Ryan Howard. Opposite field power. Hits home runs the other way more often than anyone else. Strikes out occasionally.
2. Kevin Youkilis. The Paul O’Neill of the Red Sox. If you like that, good for you. I have a temper, but I usually vent in private. 12th most patient regular in the bigs last year swinging only 39% of the time. That approach works for him, but I find it boring. It was cool when Wade Boggs took that approach, but so was Quiet Riot back then. And Kevin Dubrow is dead. One plus for the Greek God: the “Yooouk” cheer at Fenway. I consider that part of the experience. Will jaw with theump and (occasionally) a teammate. I forget if that’s Maranville or not.
3. Pablo Sandoval. Takes the opposite approach at the plate. Best bad ball hitter since Dorf. Also has a cool nickname in Kung Fu Panda. Not sure where to list him, so I picked first.
4. Derrek Lee. Dreck.
5. Adam Dunn. I think that the home run has become cheaper since I was a kid, but this guy hits long ones. His fielding may add entertainment value, depending on your POV.
6. Russ Branyan. Swings and misses 17% of the time which is QUITE OFTEN. Outside of putting a ball in play, a swinging strike is the most exciting outcome of a pitch.
7. Lyle Overbay. Latinos may be well represented in today’s game, but the only two active Pig Latinos are Overbay and Mark Kotsay.
8. Ty Wiggington. Sounds like the name of someone who attended Avon Old Farms.
9. Michael Aubrey. The O’s used to have Aubrey Huff. By this logic, they will soon have a corner infielder with the last name of Michael. This is almost as intriguing as my dream outfield of Junior Felix, Felix Jose, and Jose Cruz Jr..
10. Chris Carter. I hope that the A’s use the X-Files theme when he saunters over from the on-deck circle.

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Finally, Someone Who Understands Me


Rabbit Maranville Is Not A Nazi

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Monday Evening Shortstop


It’s a holiday weekend and I have to go in early tomorrow. This is my window for the Shortstop.

Comment of the Week:

From ty4:

Re more Maranvillains – Pudge Rodriguez, the way he used to intimidate basestealers. That was awesome. Baseball fans just a little older than me, though, the guy they rave about is Johnny Bench. I have probably heard more raving about the incredible, eye-popping all-round play of Johnny Bench than anyone else I can think of.

Nolan Ryan, another Maranvillain by the way. While I am thinking of it.

The guy in Pudge’s mold who impresses me the most now with his play behind the plate is Yadier Molina. I love watching that guy play baseball.

I started writing some comments about current players. I began with catchers and mentioned Molina and Pudge II.

As for Ryan, Rich Lederer writes about the Nolan Ryan Fan Club. (Do many bloggers ego-surf and see when I mention them? I know one guy did and he mentioned me. You know who you are, Gorbous fan.) Randy Johnson had just as high a three-true-outcomes percentage, but Ryan’s is higher relative to his peers.

Also, Jack Moore writes about how the Florida Marlins have adopted the Cincinnati Reds policy from the late 1970s regarding free agents. Enjoy.

I spent 11 days reading Larry Tye’s bio of Satchel Paige. Jeff Kelly Lowenstein expressed apathy towards the book. But I must say that I’m glad I read it. It explained quite a bit about the Negro Leagues. I knew quite a few facts about them, but not in a systematic way.

Last but not least, I asked a trivia question in the comments of a post last week. Bert Campaneris and Cesar Tovar are two of the four players who appeared in all nine positions during one game. Can you name the others? A ham sandwich is on the line.

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The Yogi Yahooeys


Okay, these aren’t really rankings, but I do plan on making some comments about players at each position when I have an opinion of them. I’d appreciate feedback because I’m just now attempting to be a liberated fan again (like I was as a teen) and don’t follow everybody; especially guys who have spent most of their career in the NL.

I am going to start with the catchers. For the historic Rabbit Maranville All-Stars, I think Yogi Berra should be on the team. He was a goofy looking hitter of bad balls and quite a character. I’m a Red Sox fan and I like him. In his honor, we’ll call these the Yogi Yahooeys.

1. Russell Martin. One characteristic I am looking at in a catcher is a throwing arm. Gerald Laird may have thrown more guys out. But with 11 stolen bases of his own, Martin led the majors last year in net steals with 44. 11 SB? Who does he think he is, John Stearns?
2. A.J. Pierzynski. Kind of an ass, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the Rabbit Maranville All-Stars. Too, “Don’t Stop Believin’” is a guilty pleasure of mine and A.J. was a fan before Tony Soprano was.
3. Joe Mauer. One of my readers calls him “baseball robot.” That’s not good. But consider this: He’s won an MVP Award and may have deserved another. He’s had health problems and is at all for a catcher, so his career may not be that long. If I had a vote for the Hall Of Fame, I’d probably look more at career value, but RMAS are more likely to be meteoric. Bethlehem Shoals is sort of my inspiration for this and he was a fan of of Ritter and Honig’s The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time. He especially liked how Pete Reiser and Herb Score were in the book. Mauer seems like a genuinely nice guy from what I’ve read and I hope we haven’t seen the best of him yet. But no one knows the appointed day, nor the appointed hour.
4. Matt Weiters. Hyped prospect. Too soon to tell.
5. Buster Posey. Ditto. But he has a cool nickname. The last Buster to play in the majors was Buster Narum. His final appearance was half a year before I was born. For my entire life, the olney Buster in baseball was a writer.
6. Yadier Molina. Second-best caught stealing percentage out of any full-timer last year. And unlikely home run hero in 2006.
7. Geovanny Soto. Dreck.
8. Jason Kendall. He’s still around?
9. John Baker. He should be in a platoon with Frank Poncharello.
10. Rob Johnson. He should really be in a platoon with Carlos Santana. Can Seattle and Cleveland make this happen?
11. Ivan Rodriguez. He has emeritus status. Can still throw guys out at a better than average clip. I realize that’s not the alpha and omega of catcher defense. Blocking bad pitches may be more important. But that’s the fun part to watch.
12. Rod Barajas. I was told he was boring. By a Canadian. “I hated every second of watching that guy – he didn’t even have the joyful slowness of the Flying Molina Brothers.”
13. Greg Zaun. His uncle or cousin was Rick Dempsey. Too bad he doesn’t do that thing where he pretends he’s Babe Ruth on a rainy day and slides across all the bases on a wet tarp. That would be worth the price of admission.

This should get the ball rolling.

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The Johnstone List


Okay. I decided I wanted to get more systematic about these Rabbit Maranville All-Stars of mine. Last nite, I decided to come up with some criteria. So I came up with a list of questions. Bill James had his Keltner List. This is my Jay Johnstone List. Eight questions:

1. Would you go out of your way to see this player?

This is, for me, the Ichiro question. When asked to pick a game to attend at Yankee Stadium III this summer, I chose a Seattle game. I’ve been to a Red Sox – Yankee tilt there before and Seattle’s probably going to be a good team this year, but I mainly did it to see Suzuki. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen him live.

2. Did he do anything that made him stand out from his peers?

This could be a player with a unique skill set. Ichiro stands out in this era because it’s like he’s from 100 years ago. His polar opposite would be Gavvy Cravath, a deadballer who hit like he’s from the future. Guys who combine power with speed (or defense) may fit here. Ditto badballhitters in this day of take and rake. For pitchers, this question would be answered yes for those with unique pitches (knucklers, cutters) or unique, colorful deliveries.

3. Did he have any on-field antics?

This is one thing that made Mark Fidrych one of the first guys I thought of. Al Hrabosky also comes to mind. This question also makes me think that Earl Weaver should skipper this team. Bobby Cox may have more ejections, but Earl was an entertaining arguer.

4. Was he in the national spotlight?

How did the player do in the postseason or All-Star games? Did he do anything exciting on a national Game of the Week back when you could only get one out of market game a week? Did he have an international following like Fernandomania?

5. Was he a good player? Was his career more meteoric than steady?

I prefer the guys with more meteoric careers for this team. This is a point that is not in a Dewey Evans’s favor.

6. Did he have any historical impact?

One of the lower criteria here, but it helps. Could be for being a pioneer like Ichiro being the first major position player from Asia. Heck, it could be something wacky like Kelly Gruber being the only baseballist to win the Superstars competition. If you want to go waaay back in time, King Kelly would get points for this for all the rule changes due to his gaming the system.

7. Did he demonstrate vigorously what Americans, quoting French poorly, call je ne sais quoi?

I lifted this one from Carson Cistulli, but I said something similar before.

8. Is he the best choice for his position?

Certain positions seem to generate better candidates for this team, but I can’t have five third basemen and no catchers. Too many passed balls.

There you go. Eight questions. I wrote most of them in the past tense, but they can all apply to the present.

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Monday Morning Shortstop


Comment of the week, from Nick:

Jon,
(Disclaimer: I made a comment along these lines Friday, but it’s never appeared on your blog. Don’t know what happened.) Anyway:
Bo Jackson would be a good Maranvillian. Some of the stuff he did was breathtaking. A homer I saw him hit off Oswaldo Peraza in 1988 is probably somewhere around Saturn by now.

Inspired choice. Bo knew strikeouts, he knew home runs, and he knew stolen bases. In 1989, he led the league with the highest Power/Speed number. A look at the yearly leaders shows some other guys mentioned here: Reggie Jackson, Mark Reynolds, Jackie Robinson, and Larry Walker to name a few. Versatility isn’t just for Meryl Streep. It may also be a good quality for Maranvillains, now that I think about it. How was he as a fielder? I seem to recall him as aggressive, but most of his career coincided with my Army days and I didn’t follow baseball much those years. It was hard to without a TV back then.

There was some sporting event last nite, and Brian Burke commented on the ballsiness of one coach.

A call for scoresheets.

Dave Allen has an idea for a new boxscore. To tie these last two together, Bill James had an idea in one of his Baseball Abstracts that involved a scoresheet style boxscore. I liked that and thought it was the most concise way to tell the story of a game.

One of my friends calls Joe Mauer a baseball robot, but this is a nice story about him; if you get ESPN Insider. If not, it’s in the latest “The Mag.”

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Casual Day Comments


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.

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