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Rotisserie Duck


Collecting Memories PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 08 August 2014 00:00
If you were born in the 40's or 50's and grew up as a baseball fan, collecting trading cards was a rite of passage. We chewed the bubble gum, read the backs of the cards, put them in our bicycle wheel spokes and sorted them by number or team. Those childhood memories are stuck in our brain and just like the characters around the campfire in "City Slickers", we know that Don Hoak was the third baseman of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960.

Every time I purchase a vintage (pre-1978) baseball card collection, all of those experiences come flooding back as the first chore is sorting through the cards. Recently, one such collection came my way and included partial Topps sets from 1961-1980. Even though it was a substantial investment, my approach to being an eBay dealer in these types of items is that it is more of a hobby than a business. As long as the cost isn't prohibitive and the long-term outcome is at least a break-even proposition, I'm just happy to have a new project. In addition, it always feels good to be the conduit between a seller who has lost interest in cards to a buyer who is adding to their personal collection.

Of course, it isn't quite as easy as buying a card for $5 and selling it for $7. When it comes to 40-50 year old pieces of cardboard, the key element of the value is condition. With most sales taking place on the Internet, buyers want to know exactly what they're buying and the only way to guarantee their satisfaction is to have cards graded by a third-party, independent company. The grading is done on a scale of 1-to-10 and the outcome can impact the value dramatically. For example, a 1961 Willie Mays All-Star card in "Excellent" (EX 5) condition books for $75, while the same card in "Near-Mint" (NM 7) condition is worth $150. And, honestly, most cards from private collections grade out much lower due to all the decades of wear and tear.

So, for dealers like me, the first priority is culling through thousands of cards to figure out which ones are worth grading (at a cost of $8-$10 per card) based on the player and the estimated condition. In this particular case, over 200 cards were sent to the grading company, which essentially doubled the overall cost of the original purchase. In about a month, we'll find out the results and then those cards will go up for sale on eBay under the ID of "rotisserieduck." The 61's sent in included the aforementioned Mays card along with Ron Santo, Eddie Mathews, Bob Gibson, Roberto Clemente, Hank Aaron, Al Kaline, Roy Campanella, Willie McCovey and Ernie Banks.

Now that those cards are in process, phase two of the project is underway. This requires sorting the remaining cards in each set to see if any of the "semi-star" players might meet the criteria for grading or putting together groups of cards in decent raw condition to sell as lots. Some buyers, for example, might like to have a group of players from their favorite team. While most of you might not know the name Don Buddin, he was the Red Sox shortstop when I was growing up in New England and, yes, I played shortstop in Little League. Nostalgia is a powerful incentive when it comes to collectibles.

As this box of a few hundred 1961 Topps baseball cards sits on the table, it occurred to me that each of us has ties to obscure players. So, maybe a few names and pieces of information from the backs of baseball cards might stir a few memories for each of you.

> #6 Ed Roebuck, Dodgers P - "Ed was the Dodgers best relief pitcher last year." He was 8-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 58 games.

> #21 Zorro Versalles, Twins SS - "Zorro is like greased lighting when it comes to speeding around the basepaths."  His real name was Zoilo and that is what he was called in 1965 when he won the AL MVP Award. Maybe the success of the Zorro TV show in the late 50's helped create the nickname.

> #32 Ray Sadecki, Cardinals P - "Here's a youngster who made good in a hurry." He went 9-9 in 1960 as a member of the Redbirds rotation at age 19.

> #37 Charlie Maxwell, Tigers OF - "Charlie won't forget May 3, 1959 for the rest of his life. That's the day he smashed 4 consecutive home runs in a double-header."

> #60 Woodie Held, Indians SS - "Woodie appears to have found a permanent home with Cleveland. He was involved in several trades earlier in his career which prevented him from proving his true value."

> #125 Steve Barber, Orioles P - "Steve is a youngster who came out of Class D and with Manager Richard's magic was transformed into an ace left-hander." In 1960, he was 10-7 with a 3.21 ERA.

> #126 Dick Stuart, Pirates 1B - "Dick was an important factor in the Pittsburgh pennant victory. An accurate barometer of Dick's value can be seen in his RBI column." A few years later, Stuart had two outstanding seasons with the Red Sox but his lack of defensive skills and a 1964 hit movie got him the nickname "Dr. Strangeglove."

> #142 Luis Arroyo, Yankees P - "The little lefty was brought up to the Yankees during the middle of the 1960 season when their staff was desperately in need of help. Luis with his screwball became the most reliable reliever on the staff." He was 5-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 29 games.

> #154 Bobby Del Greco, Phillies OF - "Since Bobby broke into pro ball in 1950, he has played for 14 different clubs. His strong arm compares with the most accurate in the game."

> #204 Bob Skinner, Pirates OF - "Although Bob has hit for a higher average in the past, 1960 represents a new high for him in both RBI's & HR's." He hit .273 with 15 homers and 86 RBI.

> #225 Bill Rigney, Angels Manager - "Bill is making his first appearance in the American League this season. Previously, Bill was a player and manager only in the N.L." 1961 was the first season for the expansion Angels...Rigney was their manager until 1969.

> #244 Chico Cardenas, Reds SS - "One of the slickest fielding shortstops in either league is Chico. His dependability with the glove has earned him the name Mr. Automatic."

> #258 Jack Sanford, Giants P - "Jack has a jumping fastball which always puts him among the strikeout leaders. In fact, the blond right-hander led the N.L. in 1957."

> #322 Bill Kunkel, Athletics P - "The Athletics feel that they have a real crackerjack prospect in young Bill. Scouts report that he has a fine chance of joining the K.C. pitching rotation." He had three wins, four saves and a 5.18 ERA in '61.

> #340 Vic Wertz, Red Sox 1B - "The veteran 1B came to Boston before the 1959 season started, in a deal that sent Jim Piersall to Cleveland." In 1960, he had over 100 RBI for the fifth time in his career.

> #351 Jim King, Senators OF - "Jim is determined to win a permanent major league home for himself this season with the new Washington Senators. The OF spent the last 3 seasons with Toronto, hitting 48 HR's." Toronto was the Triple-A affiliate of the Indians and King ended up being a regular for the expansion Senators for six years.

> #364 Moe Drabowsky, Cubs P - "Moe doesn't like playing minor league ball. Cubs optioned the right-hander in July 1960, but hard-working Moe was back the next month."

On a future visit, we'll move the clock up for the younger fans and see what gems can be found on the backs of cards from 1980, the final year of the Topps monopoly of the baseball card market.

 
Learn To Be Offensive PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 01 August 2014 00:00
Part of the joy in being a true baseball fan is not just the viewing of the game, but the analysis of all the nuances of our national pastime. After all, isn't that what playing fantasy baseball is all about? Pitting your skills as a statistical theoretician against the other members of your league is where the fun really begins and, if you're fortunate enough to participate in "keeper" leagues, it's a 12-month a year exercise. In essence, it becomes an ongoing baseball debate on the value of players and is really just an extension of the discussions that take place in the stands of every baseball game played at every level.

Over the years, I've found myself with the minority view in a number of baseball debates. Two that quickly come to mind are Pete Rose and the Designated Hitter. I've always felt strongly that Rose doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame and while it is not a popular opinion, nothing has swayed me to change my mind. It isn't only that I consider gambling on baseball to be a worse offense than taking PED's, it is also his behavior that forced MLB to defend itself for over a decade while he lied about what he had done. Only when he was publishing a book to make money did he finally come clean and, to me, that's unforgivable. Whatever presence he's allowed at next year's All-Star Game in Cincinnati will certainly result in a hero's welcome from the fans, but no sympathy will be forthcoming from the Old Duck.

Baseball purists like to criticize the Designated Hitter and talk about the sanctity of the game and the beauty of National League baseball. To me, there is nothing more boring in the game than watching a pitcher try to hit. Of course, Cubs fans went crazy in a recent game when Travis Wood hit his third home run of the season, but all statistical measurements have exceptions to the rule. As for me, I'm old enough to have watched Sandy Koufax (.097 lifetime batting average) and Hank Aguirre (.085) try to hit and it wasn't entertaining. And, it's even worse in the modern game, because pitchers no longer hit at any level before they get to the NL. As for the managers losing the ability to use "strategy", spare me the sight of intentionally walking the eighth place hitter with two outs to pitch to David Buchanan or Mat Latos (who are both hitting .000 this season). In regard to tradition, Chuck Bednarik played both ways for the Philadelphia Eagles...but he retired in 1962!

The latest conversation of choice seems to be about the lack of offensive production across the major leagues. Through late July, the average runs per game stood at 4.12, the lowest figure since 1992. For those of you who still don't believe that steroids impacted the game dramatically, the only three seasons since World War II that had a number over 5 were 1996, 1999 and 2000. Numerous pundits and baseball historians are questioning whether baseball needs to make some adjustments to bring more offense back into the game, and they almost always use 1968 to make their argument. The R/G figure that season was 3.42, the lowest since the dead-ball era and it was clear that pitching was dominating the game. This was the year that Bob Gibson had a 1.12 ERA...and lost nine games! So, MLB decided to lower the mound and, along with watering down the talent pool through expansion, the results were positive with a R/G of 4.07 in 1969.

Now the question becomes, should something drastic be done again? My answer is an emphatic NO! What needs to be done is to increase the baseball IQ of current and future players through coaching and more realistic expectations. The unintended consequences of the steroid era includes players swinging for the fences instead of making contact. Despite the reduction in home runs, professional ballplayers haven't adjusted to the changes. The strikeout rate per game in 2014 is the highest in the history of the game at 7.72 and yet the home run rate of 0.88 per game is the lowest since 1992. It was one thing to accept a plethora of K's when the offset was 40 homers, but in today's environment, this type of approach just hurts the team. With one-third of the 2014 season still to be played, here's a list of hitters who have struck out at least 90 times and have less than 10 home runs.

B.J. Upton - 125 K, 7 HR

Tyler Flowers - 107 K, 6 HR

Chris Johnson - 102 K, 8 HR

Alex Avila - 98 K, 7 HR

Shin-Soo Choo, 98 K, 9 HR

Danny Espinosa - 98 K, 6 HR

Nick Swisher - 98 K, 8 HR

Jason Castro - 97 K, 8 HR

Junior Lake - 96 K, 9 HR

Starling Marte - 95 K, 5 HR

Matt Kemp - 94 K, 8 HR

Xander Bogaerts - 93 K, 7 HR

These aren't bums or Quad-A players just getting a cup of coffee in the big leagues due to another player's injury. These are, for the most part, everyday players who cost some significant dollars at your fantasy draft. For whatever reason, they're not able to show plate discipline and put the ball into play with two strikes. It isn't that the pitching is better, it's that the hitters are dumber. Gibson struck out 7.9 batters per nine innings in 1968. In 2014, that figure is eclipsed by Jose Quintana, Edwin Jackson, Drew Hutchinson, Wade Miley, Jesse Chavez, Jake Odorizzi and 26 others. Does anyone think these pitchers have better "swing and miss stuff" than Bob Gibson? "Chicks dig the long ball" doesn't work for single-digit HR hitters. If you aren't convinced of the stupidity, just look at your own fantasy squad. The service that provides our league's stats shows BB and K as part of each day's summary and on a recent day, my AL-only team had 40 at-bats with 0 (zero) BB and 12 K. That's a strikeout ratio of 30%! Naturally, you could say that I did a lousy job compiling a team, but check your own results before going down that road.

Now comes the latest salvo in the fight for offense. In a recent Sports Illustrated piece, Tom Verducci suggests that some people inside the game feel that the current move toward defensive shifts needs to be addressed. One major league hitting coach said, "The shifts, get rid of them. You need to come up with a definition of illegal defense." Verducci's gut reaction is that "it is time to at least think about it." With due respect to a great baseball writer, the Quacker would disagree, and here's why.

This is nothing new. There is reasonable evidence that shifts were being used in professional baseball before 1900 and the model for today's defensive alignments was put in place in 1946. Lou Boudreau, the player-manager of the Cleveland Indians, watched Ted Williams get eight RBI against the Tribe in the first game of a doubleheader and came up with a plan that impacted the Red Sox star for years to come. Knowing that Williams pulled the ball to the right 85% of the time, Boudreau shifted his defenders into a drastic alignment that blanketed the right side of the field. As the years went by, the ego of "Teddy Ballgame" wouldn't allow him to take advantage of the open areas of the field and his logic was that he was a natural pull hitter and he didn't want to interfere with his swing. It seems that if you're the greatest hitter of all-time, you might get a pass for being somewhat stubborn. Does that same excuse really work for Ryan Howard, Jay Bruce, Adam Dunn, Pedro Alvarez and others?

Egos and macho attitudes need to be set aside. In a recent game between the Rangers and Blue Jays, Colby Rasmus took advantage of the shift and bunted toward third base for a hit. Despite the fact that it was only a two-run game, Rangers pitcher Colby Lewis took exception and actually yelled at Rasmus after he reached first base. Let's get this straight, your team shifts the defense to decrease the hitter's chances and you get ticked off when he adjusts his strategy? What are these guys, 11 years old?

Isn't the goal for your team to win? The amazing inflexibility of millionaire ballplayers doesn't require a rule change, it requires adjustments. On a recent Yankee broadcast, one of the announcers mentioned that due to the shift, Brian McCann hadn't even managed one ground ball single to right field when the bases were empty...for the entire season! Is this what the Yankees expected for their 5-year, $85 million commitment?

That's my take. If you disagree, let's discuss the topic the next time we're at the ballpark.

Last Updated on Friday, 01 August 2014 01:08
 
1933 Goudey Baseball Cards PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 25 July 2014 00:00
For baseball card collectors of any age, the idea of no new cards being produced for 20 years in almost unfathomable. After all, Bowman started producing cards in 1948 while Topps entered the market in 1952 and is still the collectible of choice. Many others joined the fray in the 80's and 90's and it could be reasonably argued that too many cards were produced in that era. However, as we look back on the history of the hobby, it becomes clear that such a gap did exist in the early 20th century.

In the early 1900's, baseball cards were almost always produced as premium items that accompanied tobacco in one form or another. In fact, the famous Honus Wagner card from the T-206 set of 1910 holds its scarcity from Wagner's rumored dislike of tobacco and his threat of legal action that caused his card to have a limited run. The final full set of baseball cards during this time was the 176-card Cracker Jack set from 1915 and it was almost two decades before baseball card collecting made a colorful comeback.

In 1933, the Goudey Gum Company of Boston decided to produce a 240-card set that would include all the major stars of the period. They had beautiful colors and amazing artwork, including both portrait and action shots. And the good news for today's modern collector is that the cards from this set can still be found in the marketplace. Of course, the cost will vary greatly based on condition, but you can still add baseball's legendary names to your own collection.

To put the timing of the '33 Goudeys in perspective, the country was in the throes of a terrible economic depression, FDR had just been inaugurated, Hitler was the new Chancellor of Germany and prohibition was ending. Into this setting, Enos Gordon Goudey decided that pictures of ballplayers as premiums would help increase the sales of his gum products.

As we review the cards in this historic offering, the values will be based on a card in "Excellent" (EX 5) condition.

#19 Bill Dickey, Yankees Catcher ($375) - At age 26, he was already established as the All-Star backstop of the New Yorkers dynasty.

#20 Bill Terry, Giants 1B ($285) - Coming off one of his best seasons where he hit .350 with 28 homers and 117 RBI. In 1930, he had 254 hits and batted .401.

#29 Jimmie Foxx, Athletics 1B ($700) - "Double X" won his second consecutive MVP in '33 by hitting .356 with 48 homers and 163 RBI.

#49 Frank Frisch, Cardinals 2B ($285) - "The Fordham Flash" took over as player-manager in the second half of the season and led the Redbirds to the World Series championship in '34.

#53 Babe Ruth, Yankees OF ($6,250) - "The Sultan of Swat" had four cards in the set, which was the most of any player. Numbers 144, 149 and 181 have values ranging from $4,000 to $5,000.

#92 Lou Gehrig, Yankees 1B ($1,950) - "The Iron Horse" was in his prime and had two cards in the set...#160 is similarly valued.

#119 Rogers Hornsby, Cardinals 2B ($325) - The legendary "Rajah" was in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career at age 37 but still hit .326 as a part-time player.

#127 Mel Ott, Giants 1B ($375) - Came to the Majors in 1926 at age 17 and was coming off a '32 campaign where he led the NL with 38 home runs.

#158 Moe Berg, Senators Catcher (195) - One of the great "back-stories" in the history of the game, he hit only .185 as a back-up in '33, but the following year he was part of a barnstorming all-star team that traveled to Japan. During the visit, Berg (who may have been the most intellectual player of his time, having been educated at Princeton and Columbia) took photographs and home movies of the Tokyo landscape which were later used by General Doolittle's bombers in 1942. When his playing career ended in 1939, Moe drifted underground and became a spy for the OSS (predecessor of the CIA) in Europe during World War II. His exploits are captured in a 1994 biography titled "The Catcher Was A Spy."

#211 Hack Wilson, Dodgers OF ($450) - This diminutive (5' 6") slugger still holds the all-time record for RBI in a season with 191 for the Cubs in 1930.

#216 Vernon Gomez, Yankees Pitcher ($400) - "Lefty" won 87 games for the Bombers from 1931-1934.

#220 Lefty Grove, Athletics Pitcher ($575) - A 300-game winner in his 17-year career, he went 24-8 with 21 complete games in '33.

#222 Charley Gehringer, Tigers 2B ($450) - Right in the middle of his 19-year career with the Bengals at age 30, he had over 200 hits in seven different seasons including 1933.

#223 Dizzy Dean, Cardinals Pitcher ($775) - One of the most colorful characters of the game, he had a short but memorable career. In '33, he started 34 games and completed 26 of them. In addition, "Diz" also appeared 14 times in relief and had a 20-18 record while leading the NL in strikeouts.

#230 Carl Hubbell, Giants Pitcher ($475) - The master of the knuckleball, "King Carl" won the NL MVP with a record of 23-12 and a league-leading ERA of 1.66.

Other Hall of Fame members in the set include Pie Traynor, Ki-Ki Cuyler, Paul Waner, Al Simmons, Eddie Collins, Joe Cronin, Mickey Cochrane, Tris SpeakerLeo Durocher, Arky Vaughan and others. For boys of a certain generation, many of these names are familiar from the player discs of the All-Star Baseball board game.

Hope you enjoyed our nostalgic visit back to one of the great baseball sets in history.

Last Updated on Saturday, 26 July 2014 14:23
 
All-Star Flashback PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 18 July 2014 00:00
For baseball fans of the Baby Boomer generation, this week's All-Star game brought back a flood of memories. Back in the day, the mid-season classic was a must-watch event for youngsters because they had the opportunity to see many baseball heroes for the first time. You might have read about them in newspapers or magazines, but with only an occasional game on TV and no interleague play, here were the stars of the game up close. So, let's set the baseball time machine for July 13th, 1954 and see what the teams looked like in front of 69,751 fans at Cleveland Stadium.

NL Starting Lineup

1) Granny Hamner, Phillies 2B - At age 27, this was his third consecutive All-Star appearance.

2) Al Dark, Giants SS - He played all 154 games for the pennant-winning New Yorkers and hit 20 homers.

3) Duke Snider, Dodgers CF - Contributed three hits and a walk in the game. 1954 was his second of five straight 40 HR seasons.

4) Stan Musial, Cardinals RF - A perennial All-Star, "Stan The Man" had a season where he hit .330 with 35 home runs and 126 RBI.

5) Ted Kluszewski, Reds 1B - "Klu" hit a home run off Bob Porterfield of the Senators in the 5th inning and led the NL with 49 round-trippers during the season.

6) Ray Jablonski, Cardinals 3B - Had 112 RBI as a rookie in '53 and 104 in '54, but was traded to the Reds before the '55 season and never had another productive year.

7) Jackie Robinson, Dodgers LF - Had two RBI in the game, but this was his final All-Star appearance.

8) Roy Campanella, Dodgers C - '54 was "Campy's" worst season, but he rebounded to with the NL MVP in '55.

9) Robin Roberts, Phillies P - The workhorse ace of the Phils staff, he led the NL in Wins (23), Complete Games (29), Innings Pitched (336+), Strikeouts (185), ERA (3.19) and WHIP (1.025). How much would that be worth on your fantasy team?

AL Starting Lineup

1) Minnie Minoso, White Sox LF - The "Cuban Comet" led the AL with 18 Triples during the season.

2) Bobby Avila, Indians 2B - Jump-started the Tribe's magical season by leading the AL with a .341 Batting Average.

3) Mickey Mantle, Yankees CF - This was the third of 16 All-Star appearances and '54 was the first season he topped 100 RBI.

4) Yogi Berra, Yankees C - His 125 RBI in '54 was the highest total of his career and helped him capture the AL MVP.

5) Al Rosen, Indians 3B - "Flip" had 100+ RBI for the fifth consecutive season.

6) Ray Boone, Tigers 3B - Had 20+ HR for five consecutive campaigns in the mid-50's.

7) Hank Bauer, Yankees RF - Another solid contributor to the Yankees dynasty, this was the his third straight All-Star selection.

8) Chico Carrasquel, White Sox SS - Played every game for the Pale Hose and led the AL with 718 plate appearances.

9) Whitey Ford, Yankees P - The Bronx Bombers' ace for over a decade, his lifetime winning percentage was .690.

Game Notes

> The American League won the game 11-9 with three runs in the bottom of the 8th inning. Al Rosen hit two home runs and had five RBI.

> Both Ray Boone and Gus Bell hit home runs. Ironically, each of these players ended up being the patriarch of three-generation MLB families. Boone was the father of Bob Boone as well as the grandfather of Aaron and Bret. Bell was the father of Buddy Bell and grandfather of David and Mike.

> Larry Doby, the first AL player to break the color barrier, hit a pinch-hit home run.

> Ted Williams missed almost all of the previous two seasons serving in the Korean War, but he did appear as a pinch-hitter late in the game.

> Willie Mays missed the '53 season due to military service and even though he won the MVP in '54, he was a reserve on this roster, replacing Snider later in the game.

> Other future Hall-of-Famers on the bench included Red Schoendienst, Pee Wee Reese, Nellie Fox and George Kell. In the bullpen, you could find Warren Spahn and Bob Lemon.

> Casey Stengel managed the AL team while Walter Alston was the skipper of the NL squad.

> Dean Stone of the Senators was the winning pitcher in his only All-Star appearance and Virgil "Fire" Trucks of the White Sox secured the save.

> Rookie Gene Conley of the Braves was the losing pitcher. At 6' 8", he also played six seasons in the NBA with the Celtics and Knicks during the 50's and 60's.

> Other memorable players included Gil Hodges, Carl Erskine, Harvey Haddix, Jimmy Piersall, Mike Garcia and Allie Reynolds.

> As with most All-Star games, there were also some rather obscure members of the squads. Do you remember Randy Jackson, Don Mueller, Marv Grissom, Jim Wilson, Jim Finigan, Sandy Consuegra and Bob Keegan?

60 years later and the names still burn bright.

Last Updated on Friday, 18 July 2014 01:01
 
Putting in the Clutch Halfway PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 11 July 2014 00:00

The definition of "clutch" seems to be somewhat elusive for many people. The slang dictionary describes it as "the ability to deliver when peak performance is needed" and your imagination can take that beyond the realm of sports. The urban dictionary concurs by saying, "the ability to perform well on a certain activity at a particular moment, despite external pressures, influences or distractions." Of course, the term also has a tendency to fit other circumstances such as, "you are really craving a beer...you go to the fridge and there's one left...so clutch."

For longtime baseball fans, clutch has always been linked with RBI. After all, don't the leaders in that statistical category come through in the clutch? The answer, of course, is never that easy. The folks who study baseball statistics have known since the 70's that raw stats can be misleading. Batting in runs is a very important factor in a player's success but that outcome is influenced greatly by where he hits in the lineup, whether he has protection in that lineup and, more importantly, how many runners were on the basepaths when he came to the plate. To this end, baseballmusings.com gives you the historical data to determine "RBI Percentage." It is a result of a player's (RBI - HR) / Runners On, or in simplistic terms, what percentage of baserunners did a player drive in during the season. In 2013, the stat told us that Allen Craig (23.2%) was the best clutch hitter in baseball and only seven hitters had a number over 20%.

So, as the halfway point of the season comes and goes, let's look at the best (and worst) clutch hitters in the game. The statistical information is as of June 30th and includes players who had at least 100 runners on base when they came to the plate.

1) Miguel Cabrera 27% - The Tigers first baseman is far and away the best in the game in this category. He was 6th last year at 20.8% and certainly solidifies his reputation as a perennial MVP candidate.

2) Ryan Braun 22.9% - For some cynics that point to his 11 home runs and say the Brewers outfielder isn't having a solid bounce back season, this number is the counter-argument.

3) Robinson Cano 22.6% - After the huge free agent contract, the consensus opinion seems to be that 2014 has been a disappointment for the Mariners second baseman. This stat, along with the team being seven games over .500 and having the 2nd best run differential in the AL, tells a different story.

4) Omar Infante 22.2% - An under-the-radar signing by the Royals that has filled the black hole they had at second base, they're four games over .500 at the end of June.

5) Chris Colabello 22.0% - An early-season aberration, the Twins first baseman was already back in the minor leagues by the end of June.

6) Devin Mesoraco 21.9% - The Reds certainly seem to have made the right call by giving this catcher the full-time job.

7) Kyle Seager 21.4% - Another major contributor to the Mariners success, this third baseman drives in runs when 75% of America is already asleep.

8) Jose Abreu 21.3% - This 27-year-old Cuban rookie has given the White Sox everything they hoped for when they made a long-term commitment. As their everyday first baseman, he has a .953 OPS.

9) Charlie Blackmon 21.1% - Started off hot for the Rockies in April and the fantasy contribution (12 HR and 15 SB) is off the charts for this outfielder.

10) Aramis Ramirez 20.6% - Another reason the Brewers are the surprise team of the NL in 2014. This 35-year-old third baseman has been solid all season.

11) Mike Trout 20.4% - No surprise here for arguably one of the best players in the game, the Angels outfielder has improved this number from 2013's 17.1%.

12) Justin Morneau 20.4% - A nice comeback story for the Rockies first baseman.

Nelson Cruz leads the Majors in RBI through June, but his RBI percentage figure is only 17.3%. When it comes to everyday players, the bottom of the barrel looks like this...

> Danny Espinosa 6.6% - 17 RBI and a .217 BA in 244 at-bats for the Nationals second baseman.

> Ben Revere 6.8% - In the Phillies lineup for his speed, but this isn't very good production for an outfielder.

> Ben Zobrist 7.2% - A very productive player for the Rays over the years, this second baseman is having a forgettable season.

> Travis d'Arnaud 7.4% - Given the everyday job at catcher by the Mets, this youngster has already made a trip to Triple-A.

> Xander Bogaerts 7.5% - A fantasy darling this spring, the Red Sox third baseman has been dismal.

> Desmond Jennings 7.6% - The fact that two starters on the Rays are in the bottom six tells you everything about their stagnant offense. This speedy young outfielder is hitting .235 with 70 strikeouts halfway through the season.

For those of us from a certain generation, it would have been nice if Carlos Gonzalez had made the list because it would have brought back memories of "Clutch Cargo."

Last Updated on Friday, 11 July 2014 20:51
 
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