Braves Journal, The House That Mac Built

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08 Nov

LEFT BEHIND 18 WRAPUP

Bledsoe:

What a hoot.

Many, many thanks to Mac for my own little virtual soapbox. This is the most fun I’ve had writing in a long time. I hope that you’ve enjoyed either remembering these guys with me or else learning a little about the Braves’ history and players.

For those of you disappointed in your favorites not making the Left Behinders, I apologize. I wouldn’t take my rankings all that gospel. Gerald Perry isn’t the second best Brave left off Mac’s list – maybe the tenth. But with the exception of Gerald, I generally tried to put them on in order of strength and contribution. Tommy Aaron isn’t the 18th best Brave Left Behind, either, but I want Hank to be happy, and since Mac’s list is taken from Hank’s uniform number, I thought I would do mine from Tommy’s No. 18.

The last two cuts for the Left Behinders were Rowland Office and Jeff Treadway. I actually wrote up Jeff Treadway, more than once, but the fact is he never played more than 2/3 of a season ever, and he only was here for 5-6 seasons total. Mac will have more to say about that and other omissions, I trust.

And I hope that maybe some of my stuff sunk into Mac’s thick skull. When he finishes his list, I will maybe have a last commentary comparing our squads, with Mac’s permission.

Thanks again, Mac.

Mac:

You’re welcome, and thanks.

I’m still taking submissions from you guys to fill in the gaps. Rowland is probably the most prominent position player not listed, the guy with the longest career as a regular in Atlanta who didn’t make the list. The one player neither Bledsoe nor I have discussed who I think has the best case for Top 44 status is Carl Morton, who pitched three years and part of a fourth with the team in the mid-seventies; his career is shorter but probably a little better than the Reed/Jarvis group.

Other than Morton, the players who are “suggested” writeups are mostly position players. Here’s the list of available players I came up with:

Rowland Office
Ken Oberkfell
Biff Pocaroba
Jeff Treadway
Sid Bream
Andres Thomas
Sonny Jackson
Marty Perez
Eddie Perez
Jerry Royster
Gregg Olson
Damon Berryhill

I will add in two first basemen, Orlando Cepeda and Andres Galarraga, whose careers with the Braves are really too short for inclusion but who played very well when they did play.

33 Responses to “LEFT BEHIND 18 WRAPUP”

  1. 1
    Sam Says:

    I call Andres! He was my favorite Brave when he played for Atlanta. :)

  2. 2
    Sam Says:

    http://atlanta.braves.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20061108&content_id=1736886&vkey=news_atl&fext=.jsp&c_id=atl

    Johnny Sain died. :(

  3. 3
    bmac Says:

    Interesting note about a couple of Braves’ prospects, Van Pope and Eric Campbell, playing in the Hawaiian Winter League, at the Hardball Times.

    “http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/eight-notable-hawaiian-winter-baseball-league-performances/”

    I apologize in advance if the link doesn’t work, since I’m not sure how to use the tags.

  4. 4
    Another Alex R. Says:

    Leo Mazzone credited all his success as a pitching coach in the big leagues to Johnny Sain. Sad day for Braves baseball and for the Major Leagues, as we lost half of one of the most famous baseball rhymes ever.

  5. 5
    Another Alex R. Says:

    By the way, Gerald Perry is now the Cubs’ “hitting” coach. He’ll probably teach them how to look more like a sinking ship while they’re at the plate.

  6. 6
    flournoy Says:

    Bamadan argued the case against John Smoltz’s Hall of Fame candidacy in the previous thread. One of his points was that Smoltz has been between the seventh and twelfth best active pitcher during his career, and that rarely have there been eras where that many pitchers are inducted to the Hall of Fame.

    Malarkey.

    I pick, arbitrarily, 1971. How many Hall of Fame pitchers were active?

    Hoyt Wilhelm, Jim Bunning, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Phil Niekro, Catfish Hunter, Jim Palmer, Fergie Jenkins, Steve Carlton, Don Sutton, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, and Rollie Fingers.

    That’s fourteen pitchers. Keep in mind that the league consisted of 24 teams, fewer than throughout Smoltz’s career, so the playing field was smaller. That’s over half of a Hall of Fame pitcher per team.

    How about, arbitrarily again, 1929?

    Pete Alexander, Herb Pennock, Eppa Rixey, Red Faber, Dazzy Vance, Burleigh Grimes, Waite Hoyt, Jesse Haines, Ted Lyons, Red Ruffing, Lefty Grove, and Carl Hubbell.

    That’s twelve pitchers from a sixteen-team field. Three Hall of Famer pitchers for every four teams.

    This notion that there are only ever three, or maybe five at most, contemporary Hall of Famer pitchers is absolutely wrong. Flat out wrong, and it is tiring to keep hearing indications otherwise.

    How many Hall of Fame pitchers were active in 1995? I’m going to use some creativity here, since most of these pitchers are still active.

    Dennis Eckersley, Roger Clemens, David Cone, Greg Maddux, Kevin Brown, David Wells, Tom Glavine, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, Trevor Hoffman, Pedro Martinez, and Mariano Rivera

    There we go, fourteen pitchers. I had to stretch the list to include even David Wells, who I have never even considered Hall of Fame quality for a minute, to reach the number of Hall of Fame pitchers who were active in 1971, when the league was four teams smaller.

    Based on the density of his contemporary competition, John Smoltz is absolutely a Hall of Famer.

  7. 7
    oldtimer? Says:

    Barfield was trade by the Padres to Cleveland and the Giles to San Diego rumor is already going.

  8. 8
    Sam Says:

    @4

    The rhyme is all gone now. :(

  9. 9
    Jay10 Says:

    Yeah, I think its going to happen….Giles for Linebrink.

  10. 10
    sansho1 Says:

    @6

    It’s a good point, even if Haines and Pennock weren’t really HOF-caliber (that’s still 10 from 16 teams, and someone else who didn’t get in might have merited it).

    While we’re looking back nostalgiacally upon the past (as Howard Cosell would say), maybe we could think of some similar pitchers to Smoltz. In terms of career length and pitcher type, and acknowledging that the shape of Smoltz’s career makes this a difficult exercise, I come up with Jim Bunning and Billy Pierce. Bunning made it after years of rejection, and Pierce wasn’t seriously considered as far as I know.

    But neither had the postseason success that Smoltz has had, and in truth he’s just a bit better than they were anyway. So I see him getting in, though not on the first ballot, and it may depend on who else is eligible from year to year.

  11. 11
    Big D Says:

    Interesting tidbit from the article on the Braves’ website on Sain’s death. It says that part of his philosophy was to “Mentor, don’t dictate; emphasize the positive, avoid harping on the struggles. He gave advice and suggestions, but never orders.” Then it talks about how he mentored Leo and that Leo “soaked up every word.” Hmmm, maybe not every word; he must’ve gotten his brashness and demanding nature somewhere else. Now I like Leo and I’m not trying to make something out of this; I just had a red flag go up when I read that and found it interesting.

  12. 12
    Kyle S Says:

    flournoy, great post. i decided to dive into the data and see what i could find.

    here’s a graph (sorry bout the scale) showing how many HOF pitchers (at least 100 career IP – so this includes babe ruth; sorry) were in MLB every year since 1871. there was a low point in the 40s [only 2 in 1944 – everyone else was fighting ww2] and again in the 80s [of course the numbers are low for the 90s because everyone is still active or not yet eligible]. interesting to see how “crops” of pitchers come in waves.

  13. 13
    Johnny Says:

    from the previous thread. CSG my bad. I misinterpreted your post completely. But I do respectfully disagree with you. Giles isn’t the special player that we thought he was in 1993 but he’ll outproduce Aybar, Orr (Orr?????) et al. next season even in Petco. I guess the fundamental difference of opinion is that you see a player in decline and I see one that had a negative outlier season.

    Bledsoe please accept my eternal gratitude. The left behind list was very fun to read and well done. Man some of the names on both lists sure do bring back some memories….good and bad.

  14. 14
    OneEye Says:

    the first thing I thought of when I heard about the Barfield trade was “they are clearing the way for Giles”.

  15. 15
    Johnny Says:

    Linebrink and Roberts? Why would we want Roberts? He sucks.

  16. 16
    LanceinFL Says:

    Roberts doesnt suck….he would gives us a leadoff hitter we so BADLY lack. However, I think he is a FA

  17. 17
    flournoy Says:

    Kyle S,
    Cool graph. I cheated a bit in that I already have lists of Hall of Famers per year available to me that I created for a somewhat similar discussion elsewhere a couple years ago.

    http://www-static.cc.gatech.edu/~flournoy/years.txt
    http://www-static.cc.gatech.edu/~flournoy/years2.txt
    http://www-static.cc.gatech.edu/~flournoy/years3.txt

    The first file documents only enshrined Hall of Famers, while second and third files demonstrate what the picture would look like with increasing generosity in admission.

    As you can see, the hitters follow the same pattern as the pitchers. My observations at the time were these:

    1: In terms of raw numbers of Hall of Famers active in any given year, we see a double peaked graph, with World War II separating the two peaks.

    2: The aforementioned peaks coincide with the peaks of Babe Ruth’s and Hank Aaron’s respective careers. Is it possible that the voters have a strange affinity for these years as the “golden eras of baseball?”

    3: The Veteran’s Committee makes some questionable selections.

    4: In the latter Babe Ruth era, there were upwards of three Hall of Famers per Major League team, on average. Ideally, the Hall of Fame should be “reserved” for the top X percent of Major League players, where X is some percentage determined by the voters, and should remain constant. If we saw the late 1920’s and early 1930’s percentage today, there would be upwards of 100 Hall of Famers active in the game right now.

    5: If the Hall of Fame selections continues to peak and trough as it has done so far (although we cannot expect a trough as extreme as WWII again, for obvious reasons), we can expect that there are at least 60 Hall of Famers active today. This means that nearly all players mentioned in this thread will be enshrined, sooner or later.

  18. 18
    pedro Says:

    I don’t know if you guys are interested in this: I just scored 6039 points in just 127 seconds in a game of solitaire!!! Can I now be part of the World Series of Bored People?

  19. 19
    pedro Says:

    If we want a leadoff we need to fill the LF spot too! My suggestion would be Carlie Crawford. Maybe the Rays will take Hudson(what?? Are they CRAZY?????) that way we kill two birds with one shot. Sorry for the metaphor!

  20. 20
    flournoy Says:

    I tried to respond, but my response was eaten up… blah. Anyway, I’ll try again:

    Kyle, great graph. I used a similar reference for my post. I created a chart of Hall of Famers active each year for use in a discussion elsewhere a couple of years ago. My resources are available here:

    http://www-static.cc.gatech.edu/~flournoy/years.txt
    http://www-static.cc.gatech.edu/~flournoy/years2.txt
    http://www-static.cc.gatech.edu/~flournoy/years3.txt

    The first data set shows only enshrined Hall of Famers, while the next two demonstrate increasing generosity in admission criteria. (The numbers on the left indicate number of HOFers and average number per MLB team.) You’ll find the same double-peaked pattern with the general HOFers as you found with the pitchers.

    My observations at the time were these:

    1: In terms of raw numbers of Hall of Famers active in any given year, we see a double peaked graph, with World War II separating the two peaks.

    2: The aforementioned peaks coincide with the peaks of Babe Ruth’s and Hank Aaron’s respective careers. Is it possible that the voters have a strange affinity for these years as the “golden eras of baseball?”

    3: The Veteran’s Committee makes some questionable selections.

    4: In the latter Babe Ruth era, there were upwards of three Hall of Famers per Major League team, on average. Ideally, the Hall of Fame should be “reserved” for the top X percent of Major League players, where X is some percentage determined by the voters, and should remain constant. If we saw the late 1920’s and early 1930’s percentage today, there would be upwards of 100 Hall of Famers active in the game right now.

    5: If the Hall of Fame selections continues to peak and trough as it has done so far (although we cannot expect a trough as extreme as WWII again, for obvious reasons), we can expect that there are at least 60 Hall of Famers active today.

  21. 21
    bmac Says:

    To follow up on that attempted post of the Hardball Times article about the Hawaiian Winter League…Eric Campbell was moved to second base, which dovetails nicely with the proposed Giles trade. He’ll be able to move up faster at second than at third.

  22. 22
    pedro Says:

    Wait, wait, wait! Hawaii has a winter league? What a bad baseball player you have to be to play baseball… IN HAWAII DURING THE SUMMER!!! Do they play it in the beach? Or in a hotel?

  23. 23
    Mac Thomason Says:

    Too many URLs in your reply, Flournoy, I had to approve it.

  24. 24
    flournoy Says:

    Ah, I see. Sorry about that Mac, I must have tried posting it a dozen times. I’ll remember that for next time.

  25. 25
    csg Says:

    #13, no problem Johnny. i figured that post could come across that way after I posted it. I dont agree with you at all about Giles, I think he has many great years left in him. No one doubts whether he outproduce Orr, Aybar, or Prado. Thats a night and day difference. I think we’ve come to a point where we have trade him though! And for two reasons.

    1. One he will cost more than what his replacement value is and will give us a person we have to have. Set up man and maybe a leadoff (Roberts) probably not both though

    2. He’s only one year away from FA, I believe, and there is no way we can compete with higher paying teams and if he is in a decline stage, we will lose all trade value in him.

    However, I do think he’s one of the best 2nd baseman we’ve ever had and I will miss him.

  26. 26
    Meta Says:

    I assume you meant Greg “One G” Olson, not Gregg “9.20 Career Atlanta ERA” Olson.

  27. 27
    James Says:

    I was gonna say I thought Greg Olson was the catcher that broke his leg celebrating and Gregg Olson was the former Auburn Tiger whose only decent years came with Baltimore.

  28. 28
    flournoy Says:

    I thought Olson broke his leg when Ken Caminiti railroaded him.

  29. 29
    kc Says:

    You know, the way Barfield was traded makes me that there is already a handsake agreement in place between JS and Kevin Towers on a trade involving Marcus. The way the Braves acquired Ayber and only getting a short term relieve fix in Baez in the Betemit deal makes me think that the Linebrink-Giles has agreed upon before the trading deadline.

  30. 30
    Sam Says:

    @27

    Yes.

    @28

    And it sure looks like it, doesn’t it? Right now, that seems like a great situation.

  31. 31
    Wryn Says:

    Mac, where’s a good place to park for Bryant-Denny? In 2004, I parked at the hospital and walked for 20 miles.

  32. 32
    bamadan Says:

    Flournoy ~ I appreciate the response. Several brief comments.

    1. It seems clear that (with an irrelevant Negro League mass induction this year) at least since the late 1970s, the percentage of players inducted into the Hall is shrinking. I don’t think the glut of players from the Frankie Frisch Veterans Committee years will ever happen again. Players of the ilk of Burleigh Grimes, Eppa Rixey, or Jesse Haines will never again be elected.

    2. Your list of active players is somewhat different in nature than the list I prepared. I was trying to limit it to players who are basically the same age as Smoltz and will be going before the BBWAA around the same time. If we add all players whose careers overlap any time of Smoltz’s, then we get into the younger generation with players like Santana, Oswalt, Webb, Willis, Zito … and from the other direction people who are already inducted like Sutton, Cartlton, Sutter, Ryan, and Eckersly as well as those who are comparable but not elected like Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, or Orel Hersheiser. Instead of being somewhere around 10 +/-, he will probably end up closer to 20-30 when those players whose careers are just getting started now are finishing up and those players who were just finishing up as Smoltz was started are added in.

    Anyway, thanks for the response.

  33. 33
    Marc Schneider Says:

    Why not a list of the worst Atlanta Braves? Admittedly, it would be a long list considering their pre-1991 history, but I think someone should document the careers of Darrel Chaney, Woody Woodward, and Chi Chi Olivo.

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