Sitting Pretty

“Sitting Pretty”

The 21st Century 2nd Baseman Induction Field

Of the five men already inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as 21st Century second basemen inductees, only Craig Biggio of the Astros (2015) achieved any recognition for good work at another position. The rest were pretty much pure blood pivot men up the middle on the old phantom tag plays that once begrudgingly and gratefully filled our scorecards. Biggio go moved from an All Star start early as catcher in the hope that the move up the middle. It must have worked. He got to play twenty years with one club, got to play in a World Series, and then went into the HOF full sail in the early years of his retirement.

Roberto Alomar (2011) served as the career co-spur to Biggio during their shared competitive careers and, indeed, he reached the HOF four years earlier than his Astros rival, with offensive stats that were slightly crisper, but not so much crunchier than the ones on Craig’ List for being the little tough guy who could take an HBP like few others, while also doing all he could to help kids with special issues of serious childhood disease. Alomar, on the other hand, would go into the Hall remembered by many as the guy who spat upon an umpire for rendering a decision he didn’t like.

Bill Mazeroski (2001) and Joe Gordon (2009) were both mid- 20th century players, but they were not forgotten by the Veteran’s Committee when it came time for each to either go-in or begone from the Hall of Fame honor candidate list. All though the arguments probably shall continue that playing hard and dramatically against the Yankees may have saved this honor for each man, especially for Mazeroski, the counter point defense always still flies that both guys were always better than their overall stats confirmed. Count us in that court on this question.

Maz played with a fire that had no quit in it. Gordon was cold steel strong – both for and against the Yankees – and he was an important cog in the 1948 World Series Championship year of the Cleveland Indians. As for Mazeroski’s contributions to the 1960 Game Seven Pittsburgh Pirates win over the Yankees, it requires no telling. If you have a baseball memory, all you have to do as a kid is grow up anywhere near Pittsburgh. You should know about Mazeroski before you finish the first grade. That is, assuming it wasn’t already covered in kindergarten.

During that long march for Cub fan generations across the desert of despair (1909-2015), one place that hope survived was always in the presence of some special player who came along to inspire. No one ever did that better, with more lift, than Ernie Banks, but 2nd sacker Ryne Sandberg (HOF 2005) did a pretty good job on the Moses Trail himself with this own precious skill for handling the fans’ hopes with honor and respect. He was a HOF guy in the making from the very start. He simply didn’t have the company he needed to do what the 2016 Cubs finally did when they finally gathered the right kind of troops and got it done.

Now here comes Jose Altuve, with a 7-season career in tow that now includes 3 league batting titles, a World Series victory, and all kinds of honors for all the things he’s done so well on the field – and with an average-per-season set of stats that mainly outshines his five older second base companions who already belong to the Hall of Fame.

The following table is constructed from the “162 Game Average Data Line” that rests at the bottom of each first offensive career chart for each batter listed in the Baseball Reference.com presentation data. It shows what each of the 21st century inductees and Senor Altuve have done, if it could be displayed by the kind of season it would produce for each man if all his actual data were averaged over the number of seasons he has currently played. At age 27, and only 7 years down on what could be a long and most fruitful career, Altuve has a good chance of improving his comparison to the other set of five fixed average seasons that are listed for the HOF players shown with him here today.

There is other data we could have added, but beyond the variables we’ve chosen to use with our good old “BA” stat, the view of things gets a little harder to read easily at the scope our publication prints. So, we’ve kept it simple for the display:

Five 21st Century-HOF-Called Keystoners and One To Be

# 2nd Basemen AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA
1 Jose Altuve 652 93 206 40 4 14 66 44 76 .316
2 Roberto Alomar 618 103 185 34 5 14 77 70 78 .300
3 Ryne Sandberg 628 99 179 30 6 21 79 57 94 .285
4 Craig Biggio 618 105 174 38 3 17 67 66 100 .281
5 Joe Gordon 590 95 158 27 5 26 101 79 73 .268
6 Bill Mazeroski 581 58 151 22 5 10 64 33 53 .260

Our only big question in Houston is about the whereabouts of it all. Will Jose Altuve be another full career Houston Astro for the entire trip? Or will he be able to resist the Yankee/Red Sox/Dodger rush that we all know is coming, somewhere down the line?

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

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