Years from now, when looking back at the players from the 90s, I have a sneaking suspicion that all the one dimensional power hitters putting up 30 - 40 home runs are going to seem quite pedestrian when compared to their peers. Unless something separates them (Bagwell's ability to run and get on base, etc.), it will be hard to convince Hall of Fame voters that EVERY slugger that decade deserves a speech in Cooperstown.
One player retiring this year who has separated himself from the sluggers is Craig Biggio. His versatility on defense and ability to produce on offense even late in his career at a position once dominated by defensive minded slap hitters might be enough to earn enough votes for enshrinement someday. Will Biggio's assets be enough to overshadow a career .282 average and less than 300 home runs? Check out the latest Hot Corner for The Commish's expert analysis.
Sometimes nice guys finish first. In a homecoming of sorts, Willie Harris has been putting together a career year for his hometown Braves. Harris continued his stellar 2007 season Saturday with a career day at the plate: 6 hits, 6 RBI, 1 SB, and 4 R. You can't ask much more from a leadoff hitter, and Atlanta is thankful that yet another hometown player is overachieving for the club.
The 100-game mark is less than a week away for most teams, and the National League is starting to resemble the Eastern Conference of the NBA. The Mets are tumbling, and it's hard to imagine the Brewers of Cubs as powerhouses. In the West, the Dodgers and Padres have looked impressive at times, but no team in that division can distance itself from the rest of the pack.
In all, the truly dominating teams (Tigers, Angels, Red Sox, Indians, etc.) all seem to reside in the American League. That's not to say that a National League team can't win the World Series, but I certainly wouldn't be putting any money on them with 65+ games to go.
With the second half upon us, there are still some players putting up big time numbers (Fielder, Arod, Young, Peavy, etc.). The ones that often go unnoticed, though, are the pitcher's offensive numbers. With only 45 AB, Carlos Zambrano has posted some respectable numbers at the dish.
Fans and talk show hosts in Chicago have often talked about playing Zambrano somewhere in his off days to get him some more ABs. It began somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but the "Big Z" has proven that he is more than capable of holding his own.
Projecting Zambrano's numbers out to the equivalent playing time of his teammate Derrek Lee, Carlos would be sitting on these numbers:
.689 OPS, 7 2B, 14 HR, 35 RBI, 49 R.
His OBP is only .267, the same as his BA, because he has yet to walk this season. Pitchers are unlikely to walk other pitchers, which explains the low OBP and may also explain the relatively high offensive numbers - Zambrano gets more pitches to hit than an average hitter. At least Zambrano takes advantage of those pitches.
Overall, Zambrano's projected numbers put him at a level of someone like Cliff Floyd. He's not exactly much more of an improvement than anyone else in the starting lineup, not to mention the lack of defense, but on a team desperate to carry an extra pitcher, Zambrano would make a great 5th outfielder/pinch hitter in order to save a roster spot on the right team.
Some guys you just can't replace, and Ichiro Suzuki, as he showed everyone in the All-Star Game, is one of them. Wisely, the Seattle Mariners spent the money to keep their prize outfielder in the northwest until he turns 39. For some reason, however, Seattle management has had to defend the 5-year, $90 million contract despite Ichiro's incredibly history of consistency at the highest level.
Does he have incriminating photos of Selig?
Inexplicably, Neifi Perez is still on a major league roster. More surprisingly, Perez is still latched on to the Tigers, one of baseball's best teams. Here comes the funny part: with a .172 average on the year (and a career OPS of just .672), Perez has been suspended for 25 games due to testing positive for a banned stimulant. Somehow, I think Detroit will have an easy time finding a replacement.