Posted on: February 20, 2012 4:15 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The A's adding Manny Ramirez was hardly a surprise -- it had been rumored for a while.
But it should be even less surprising considering the track record of A's general manager Billy Beane. Beane, of course, is probably the most famous general manager since Branch Rickey thanks to Moneyball (the book and the movie), in part because of his eye for a bargain. While the biggest bargains in baseball are usually young players under team control, there's also value in older players that other teams don't want anymore. Beane's had more than his share of those types of players.
In Moneyball (again, both the book and the movie), Beane's addition of a declining David Justice paid dividends as the 36-year-old hit 11 homers in 118 games (not to mention putting up a .376 on-base percentage). Last season Beane picked Hideki Matsui out of the bargain bin along with a Stephen King novel at Barnes and Noble. This season, it's Ramirez, who will get $500,000 contract with the big-league club after serving his 50-game suspension.
Usually it's former corner outfielders or first basemen who can add a little slugging and some decent on-base skills (two things Ramirez should be able to add), to be used at DH and in the field in a pinch. Sometimes it works, like with Justice, other times it doesn't -- like with Eric Karros in 2004. But it's cheap, so these veterans are as disposable as a cheap razor.
Here's a list of significant players near the end of their career signed by the A's since Beane took over in 1998, followed by the season they played in Oakland, how old they were that season, their slash line, home runs and RBI.
Rickey Henderson 1998, 39, .236/.376/.347, 1, 14 (led the league with 66 stolen bases and 118 walks)
*Kevin Mitchell 1998, 36, .228/.279/.346, 2, 21
*Tony Phillips 1999, 40, .244/.362/.433, 15, 49
Tim Raines 1999, 39, .215/.337/.341, 4, 17
*Mike Stanley 2000, 37, .268/.363/.464, 4, 18
Ron Gant 2001, 36, .259,.344/.420, 2, 13
*David Justice 2002, 36, .266/.376/.410, 11, 49
*Ron Gant 2003, 38, .146/.182/.220, 1, 4
*Eric Karros 2004, 36, .194/.243/.311, 2, 11
*Mike Piazza 2007, 38, .275/.313/.414, 8, 44
Mike Sweeney 2008, 34, .286/.331/.397, 2, 12
Frank Thomas 2008, 40, .263/.364/.387, 5, 19
*Nomar Garciaparra 2009, 35, .281/.314/.388, 3, 16
Jason Giambi 2009, 38, .193/.332/.364, 11, 40
**Hideki Matsui 2011, 37, .251/.321/.375, 12, 72
* retired after their year with the A's
** Matsui is currently an unsigned free agent
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Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 7:07 pm
By C. Trent Rosecrans
The Rookie of the Year awards are unique among baseball awards in that they are somewhat less about an individual year's performance as much as they are for the hope of better things to come. A Rookie of the Year win is a footnote on any Hall of Fame argument, not a bullet point. Meanwhile, any Hall of Fame argument will start with MVP wins for position players and Cy Young trophies for starting pitchers. If you have those, you have an argument, and if you won Rookie of the Year, that's nice.
No, Rookie of the Year is something to dream on -- there's the potential and what a player could become based upon a solid rookie year.
With that in mind, I wanted to look back on the past Rookie of the Year winners and what players had the best careers after winning the award and which ones peaked in their first year. Because this particular argument needs time for perspective, I've broken up the last 20 years in five-year increments. Below are the winners of the awards each year for both leagues, as well as their Wins Above Replacement (from Baseball-Reference.com) for both their rookie year and their career, as well as a decision on the best player in retrospect, the worst and the best duo from one year.
Best: This is where we need perspective -- and time. Right now it looks like you could go with any of six candidates -- Justin Verlander (AL 2006), Hanley Ramirez (NL 2006), Dustin Pedroia (AL 2007), Ryan Braun (NL 2007), Evan Longoria (AL 2008) and Buster Posey (NL 2010). In 10 years this may be easier to pick, but right now it's just way too close to call. Of the group, Ramirez has the highest career WAR.
Worst: Again, this is still way too early to call, but Chris Coghlan (NL 2009) may take this dubious honor. There's plenty of time for him to turn it around, but he finished 2011 hitting .230 at Triple-A New Orleans.
Best duo: Another toss-up -- 2006 had Ramirez and Verlander, while 2007 featured Pedroia and Braun. Check back in 10 years and this may seem to be an easier choice, but right now it's too close to call.
Best: Albert Pujols (NL 2001). He may be the best player of our generation and best right-handed hitter of all time. With apologies to Ichiro Suzuki (AL 2001) and Ryan Howard (NL 2005), it's Pujols and it's not close.
Worst: Oh, Angel Berroa (AL 2003). Acquired in the deal that sent Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to Oakland, Berroa last appeared in the big leagues in 2009. The Royals shortstop won the award over Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli and Hideki Matsui, earning the scorn of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
Best duo: Pujols and Suzuki would be a heck of a Hall of Fame class, not to mention a rookie class. Suzuki won not only the Rookie of the Year in 2001, he also took home the American League MVP.
Best: Scott Rolen (NL 1997) and Carlos Beltran (AL 1999) have had fantastic careers, but Derek Jeter (AL 1996) is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a baseball icon. Jeter also has the highest career WAR among the group of rookies.
Worst: This one is tough, if you guy by WAR, it's Kazuhiro Sasaki (AL 2000), who had just a 4.0 career WAR. However, Sasaki was 32 when he started in the United States and played just four seasons in the majors. In addition to his Rookie of the Year, he made the All-Star team in 2001 and 2002, recording 129 saves in four seasons. I'm going to take Ben Grieve (AL 1998) slightly over Todd Hollandsworth (NL 1996) based solely on Hollandsworth holding on longer (12 years to nine) and finding his late-career niche as a pinch hitter, while Grieve did appear in the majors after his 30th birthday -- and just 17 after his 29th birthday.
Best duo: How about Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra (AL 1997)? Garciapparra never quite lived up to the rival to Alex Rodriguez and Jeter as the greatest shortstop of his generation, but he was in the conversation for a time there. While each year from 1996-2000 had at least one pretty good pick, 1997 was the only one to produce two players that finished with double-digit career WAR.
Best: WAR likes Jeff Bagwell (NL 1991), the Hall of Fame will like Mike Piazza (1993). Either way, it's tough to go wrong. Unlike the Hall of Fame voters, I'll take Bagwell over Piazza, but can see both sides of the argument. I"m in the camp that Bagwell is one of the more underrated players of his generation.
Worst: Yet again, the award goes to a Royal. Bob Hamelin (AL 1994) had a 2.5 WAR in his rookie year and 2.4 for his career. Pat Listach (AL 1992) also has a lower career WAR (3.9) than single-season WAR for his rookie season (3.9), but the be speckled Hamelin did less in his career than Listach, even if most of Listach's value came from his rookie season.
Best duo: Again it comes down to the 1993 choices (Piazza, Tim Salmon) and 1991 (Bagwell, Chuck Knoblauch), with 1991 taking the crown. Knoblauch and Salmon both had good careers, with Knoblauch winning four rings and Salmon one. Knoblacuh was a four-time All-Star, Salmon never appeared in the game. Knoblauch also won a Gold Glove, despite his woes throwing later in his career. Going by WAR, the 1991 duo beats the 1993 pair, 121.1-96.7.For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Tags: 2011 awards, Albert Pujols, Andrew Bailey, Angel Berroa, awards, Ben Grieve, Bob Hamelin, Bobby Crosby, Buster Posey, C. Trent Rosecrans, Carlos Beltran, Chris Coghlan, Chuck Knoblauch, Craig Kimbrel, Derek Jeter, Dontrelle Willis, Dustin Pedroia, Eric Hinske, Eric Karros, Evan Longoria, Geovany Soto, Hanley Ramirez, Hideo Nomo, Huston Street, Ichiro Suzuki, Jason Bay, Jason Jennings, Jeff Bagwell, Jeremy Hellickson, Justin Verlander, Kazuhiro Sasaki, Kerry Wood, Marty Cordova, Mike Piazza, Neftali Feliz, Nomar Garciaparra, Pat Listach, Rafael Furcal, Raul Mondesi, Rookie of the Year, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard, Scott Rolen, Scott Williamson, Tim Salmon, Todd Hollandsworth