Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hot or Not: Do You Remember...

As we look at the Hottest and Nottest players this week, we also turn our focus backwards, to the studs and stinkers of yesteryear, for a very special "Do You Remember..." edition of Hot or Not.

Hot Bats

Frank "Big Hurt" Thomas

Relevant stats: 4 HR, 6 RBI, .455 BA over the last seven days

Reminds you of: Frank Thomas

The Big Hurt is playing like it's 1996 - his finest statistical season. This makes you wonder if Frank Thomas is doing everything like it's 1996. Is he really into the Spice Girls? Is he arguing with Bobby Crosby about why Independence Day is better than Twister? Fantasy owners can only hope so.

Lance "Big Puma" Berkman

Relevant stats: 53 runs scored, on pace for 165 runs this season

Reminds you of: Jeff Bagwell

Here's a surprising fact: Jeff Bagwell scored 152 runs in 2000 - that's the most runs scored in a single season since 1936, when Lou Gehrig crossed the plate 167 times. Never would have guessed that. Bagwell put up ridiculous numbers in 2000, but somehow finished 7th in MVP voting that season. Jeff Kent won the award, with his BFF Barry Bonds finishing second.

Jacoby "Nickname Unknown" Ellsbury

Relevant stats: 19 SB, caught stealing twice

Reminds you of: Cool Papa Bell

Like Cool Papa Bell, tales of Ellsbury's elusiveness on the basepaths may be somewhat exaggerated. (Ichiro and Willy Taveras both have better SB/CS ratios this season, but receive far less media attention as base-stealers.) Unlike Cool Papa Bell, Ellsbury does not have the greatest nickname ever.

Cold Bats (Mendoza Line edition)

Richie Sexson

Relevant Stats: .197 BA, 9 HR this season

Reminds you of: Rob Deer

Rob Deer hit 25 homers in 1991, while batting a putrid .179. Deer's Wikipedia page says he's currently a "roving hitting instructor" for the San Diego Padres. Wouldn't you like to be a "roving hitting instructor"? You'd travel from town to town, carrying only a worn wooden bat and a clipboard, working out kinks in hitters' swings. You'd survive on sunflower seeds and Gatorade. Drive a Saturn. Sounds pretty cool...

Josh Bard

Relevant Stats: .200 BA, 0 HR; currently on DL

Reminds you of: Bill Bergen

OK, this comparison is a bit unfair - Bergen was maybe the worst hitter in MLB history, tallying a .170 batting average (and .194 OBP!!!) over nine seasons. Bard definitely isn't that bad. Then again, he has advantages Bergen never had. Imagine what Bergen could do if he worked with Rob Deer, Roving Hitting Instructor.

Asdrubal Cabrera

Relevant Stats: .179 BA, 1 HR

Reminds you of: Mario Mendoza

Lots of similarities here. Both are slick-fielding middle infielders - Cabrera recently turned the 14th unassisted triple play in MLB history, Mendoza's nickname was Manos de Seda (Silk Hands, aka the second-greatest nickname ever) - who at times seem literally incapable of hitting a baseball.

Throwing Gas

Roy Halladay

Relevant Stats: 5 complete games, on pace for 257 IP

Reminds you of: Roy Halladay

Halladay threw nine complete games and 266 innings in 2003, and earned the Cy Young Award for his troubles. He's easily the most old-school pitcher going today, right? You get the feeling he'd fit right in with players in the late 1800s who threw 500 innings during a season and then worked a coal mine in the winter.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

Relevant Stats: 8-0, 38 walks; on pace for 25 wins, 120 walks

Reminds you of: Carlos Zambrano

Zama-lama-dingdong went 16-7 in 2006, while walking 115. Not exactly a precise comparison to Dice-K's performance in 2008. That's because few pitchers in recent times come close to matching Dice-K's projected win and base on balls totals. For instance, Brandon Webb walked 119 batters in 2004 - and went 7-16.

Francisco Rodriguez

Relevant Stats: 21 saves, 2.45 ERA

Reminds you of: Mariano Rivera (2001 edition)

Mo notched 50 saves while posting an un-Mo-like 2.36 ERA in 2001. Rivera threw 80.2 innings that season, but K-Rod has only thrown 22 innings so far, meaning that his ERA might actually be artificially inflated. Scary to think he might get better as the season goes on.

Passing Gas

Fausto Carmona

Relevant Stats: 4-2, 38 walks; currently on disabled list

Reminds you of: Hi, I'm Rob Deer. I think I parked my car around here last night. Maybe you saw it? It's a bluish-gray Saturn Ion...

Whoops, looks like Rob Deer just roved into this post. Get out of here, Rob Deer! Go teach the Padres how to hit!

Hideki Okajima

Relevant Stats: 4 blown saves

Reminds you of: Shawn Chacon

Two charter members of the "We're Not Closers, But We Still Blow Saves" club. (Chacon blew seven saves in 2007.) It's a dubious distinction, like being being a member of the "I Hooked Up With Courtney Love - In 2008" club. Not that I would know.

I would.

What? I thought I told you to leave.

No, I'm not going.

Come on, man. Beat it.

Roy Oswalt

Relevant Stats: 85 hits allowed, 5.61 ERA

Reminds you of: Carlos Silva

No comparison to Carlos Silva is a good comparison. The Silva Fox gave up 246 hits in 2006 en route to a 5.94 ERA. Oswalt is on pace to give up 264 hits. Yeesh.

OK, that's it for this week's Hot or Not. Check back next week when -

Can I just say something? Kids, listen up. I'm Rob Deer, former big league slugger and current Roving Hitting Instructor. I'd like to talk to you about the choices we make. Early on, I chose to make baseball my life. And the game's been good to me, I'm very blessed. I got to travel and play the game I love. Along the way I made some money and lost some money. Were there women? One for every star in the sky. Why, there was a lady in Cincinnati who did things to me that will never be legal - not even in the distant future.

Of course I have stories like that. I'm Rob Deer.

The life of a Roving Hitting Instructor is simple, yet rewarding. I live on the road, I work where I'm needed. People don't always want me in town. They see a middle-aged man with a mustache, by himself, carrying a baseball bat, walking towards a Little League field and they think, "Uh oh." People are narrow-minded. I was too once. Dead red fastball hitter. Loved the longball, never wanted to nickel and dime with singles or bunts. Only the hard stuff. Sure, I made a living and got myself a career - but at what cost? I could've played another five or six seasons if I'd just been a little smarter.

But what's the use in regret? Without the choices I made, I wouldn't be where I am today - on the road, preaching the virtues of patience in the batters box and in life. This leads me to my next point - can I borrow $30?

See you next week...

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