22 September 2005

Latino Legends Team...

MLB is doing a fan vote on the all time Latin team, voting by position. Since I love all things Latin in baseball, this is big time fun for me. I got a kick out of voting... here are my votes, and the runner up (back up?) at each position:

C- Ivan Rodriguez, PUERTO RICO(TEX, FLA, DET)
Javy Lopez, PUERTO RICO (ATL, BAL)
1B- Albert Pujols, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (STL)
Orlando Cepeda, PUERTO RICO (SFG, STL, ATL, OAK, BOS, KCR)
2B- Roberto Alomar, PUERTO RICO (SDP, TOR, BAL, CLE, NYM, CHW, ARZ)
Rod Carew, PANAMA (MIN, CAL)
3B- Edgar Martinez, PUERTO RICO (SEA)
Bobby Bonilla, PUERTO RICO (PIT, NYM, BAL, FLA, LAD, ATL, STL)
SS- Alex Rodriguez, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (SEA, TEX, NYY)
Luis Aparicio, VENEZUELA (CHW, BAL, BOS)
RF- Roberto Clemente, PUERTO RICO (PIT)
Vladimir Guerrero, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (MTL, ANA)
CF- Bernie Williams, PUERTO RICO (NYY)
Tony Oliva, CUBA (MIN)
LF- Manny Ramirez, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (CLE, BOS)
Sammy Sosa, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (TEX, CHW, CHC, BAL)

SP- Pedro Martinez, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (LAD, MTL, BOS, NYM)
SP- Juan Marichal, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (SF, BOS, LAD)
SP- Luis Tiant, CUBA (CLE, MIN, BOS, NYY, PIT, CAL)
Camilo Pascual, CUBA (WAS, MIN, CIN, LAD, CLE)
Dennis Martinez, NICARAGUA (BAL, MTL, CLE, SEA, ATL)
Lefty Gomez, MEXICO (NYY, WAS)

RP- Mariano Rivera, PANAMA (NYY)
Armando Benitez, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (BAL, NYM, NYY, SEA, FLA, SF)


There were definitely a couple tough choices in here. First and foremost was the call between Orlando Cepeda and Albert Pujols. First, let's look at a couple raw numbers:

___________HR_____AVG___OBP___SLG___AB___SE___OPS+
PUJOLS____199____.333__.417__.622__2931___5___169
CEPEDA____379____.297__.350__.499__7927__17___133


Here is what I'm saying about the comparison, with full knowledge of how unfair it is to the Baby Bull (the greatest nickname in baseball history, and one stolen and give to Manny- not by me, but I feel like the only one that still uses it)- Albert Pujols is likely the only player who, given the disparity in seasons and ABs, I would still give the nod to. Some players- they're exceptionally rare, of course- start playing and remove all doubt as to their dominance and their place in the hierarchy of all time greats. Pujols is currently working on his rate stats in preparation to pass Cepeda, but any player with a 5 year SLG average of .622 is doing something historic, something you can't really ignore. Pujols averages a HR every 14.72 ABs, Cepeda one every 20.91. Cepeda lost more than a few HRs in Candlestick- Pujols hits balls that would fly out of Roman coliseums.

At this point, I acknowledge that Cepeda's career counts more and continued accomplishments, but Pujols is too great on too high a plane to leave off. I'm willing to listen to arguments to the contrary, and pleas that my position is stupid. It might be.

Next one- Alomar over Carew. The first knock on Carew in comparison to Alomar is the rapid nature by which he ceased to be a 2B- he was, for all intents and purposes, a full-time 1B/ DH by 1976 at the age of 30, save a small handful of (likely) necessary shifts a year, which stopped entirely in 1979. Alomar, on the other hand, was winning Gold Gloves through the end of his peak, in 2001 at age 33.

As hitters, they were fairly similar- patient with 2Bs power (which Alomar used some hitters parks to turn into a few extra HR) and great bat control. Alomar was more patient and with a bit more power, while Carew was a higher BA hitter, and actually finished his career with a higher park-adjusted OPS+. Ultimately, to me, Alomar wins on his defense which, while somewhat overrated in his prime, was still head and shoulders better than a player, in Carew, that was hard to classify definitively as a 2B. I'll take the slight offensive hit for the defensive prowess. Alomar's cliff dive in 2002 when he arrived in NY was pretty unbelievable, though.

The choice of Bernie Williams may seemed odd, but my approach (independent of how the voting was structured) was to actually field a "team," and as such, Bernie was easily the best CF of the nominees. Of course, I've written a lot about how great I consider Bernie Williams' career to have been here, so if it seems I'm overrating him a bit here, I may be. But he's my CF, over Tony Oliva, a hugely underrated player himself. Taking the numbers without era/ park adjustment, Bernie appears to be a touch more patient and with more power- higher SLG and more HR in the same 15 seasons. After era/ park adjustment however, these numbers even out a bit- 130 career OPS+ for Bernie, 131 for Tony. Ultimately, in this instance, it comes down to defense, which, for most of his career, Bernie had on Tony. Oliva did win a Gold Glove, but Bernie won four, and spent most of his time in CF, while Oliva had to be shifted (note to Yankee hierarchy- see? it can be done- stop embarassing him out there).

The only other real issue I had was deciding between Camilo Pascual and Lefty Gomez for a SP slot, so I made it easy on myself and went with a 6 man rotation. I was surprised to find that Lefty Gomez is in the Hall of Fame, but Camilo and Luis Tiant are not. Interesting...

_________W____L____SO____IP____ERA__ERA+
GOMEZ___189__102__1468__2503__3.34__125
PASCU___174__170__2167__2930__3.63__103
TIANT___229__172__2416__3486__3.30__114


Of course, when you look at all this, a very interesting truth becomes more clear- Pedro Martinez is very likely the greatest foreign born pitcher in baseball history.

Go vote. Gotta love the Latinos.

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