Chat with Rob Neyer
Rob Neyer (2:03 PM)
Hello, everybody, and welcome to my second chat in four days. This one will mostly concern my new book, which I don't feel guilty about because I've already got more than 600 questions lined up...
Matt, Fort Lauderdale
Rob, I've enjoyed looking at your all-time teams, but I've got to wonder why you didn't include some superior early players. Just two oversights: You didn't pick Lefty Grove for either the A's or Red Sox. And where's Walter Johnson, who played with the Twins' forerunner, the Washington Senators? Just wondering. Thanks.
Rob Neyer (2:07 PM)
Figuring -- incorrectly, perhaps -- that Oakland fans don't care about Lefty Grove and Twins fans don't care about Walter Johnson, I devoted chapters in the book exclusively to the Twins and to the Oakland A's. However, there are also chapters in the book that consider entire history of the Senators/Twins franchise, and the Philly/K.C./Oakland Athletics. So for all the people who think I "forgot" Mickey Cochrane, don't worry; you just have to find a copy of the book to see what I think about those old-timers.
Gary (Hammond, LA)
How could you leave off Jackie Robinson on the Dodgers team?
Rob Neyer (2:09 PM)
Same deal. There's one chapter on the Los Angeles Dodgers, and another on the Brooklyn and L.A. editions. So yes, Jackie Robinson is the greatest second baseman in Dodgers history.
Toby (Silver Spring, MD)
Rob, did you consider reserving spots on each pitching staff for best lefty starter and best lefty reliever? If so, why did you decide not to go that route?
Rob Neyer (2:12 PM)
You know, that never even occurred to me. To me, a pitcher's a pitcher. If a major-league team can have four right-handed starters, then I can, too.
Craig (Raleigh, NC)
Great book, Rob! Would you mind given the reasons why OBP is more important than SLG? I read the articles on Moneyball and Mantle vs. DiMaggio but I'm still unclear why OBP is more valuable. Thanks!
Rob Neyer (2:15 PM)
Well, here's a very simple explanation ... If your team has a 1.000 on-base percentage and a .000 slugging percentage, it will score an infinite number of runs because nobody will make any outs. But if your team has a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .250 OBP -- every fourth batter hits a home run, it will not score an infinite number of runs.
Rich (Boston, MA)
Rob, you wrote the following about Mike Schmidt: "... the game's greatest third baseman, and the game's best player between Mays and Bonds." This sounds like you're saying that Schmidt was the second-best player of all time. Is that what you meant? And what's so special about him?
Rob Neyer (2:17 PM)
No, what I meant is the best "between" them, chronologically. And if anybody's got a better candidate who's not Tom Seaver, please alert the authorities.
Justin (Lawrence, KS)
Rob, I've got two quick questions about you all-time Royals team. First, why does Appier rank ahead of Leonard or Split? Second, how long until Mike Sweeney deposes John Mayberry at first base?
Rob Neyer (2:22 PM)
I love Dennis Leonard and Paul Splittorff, but neither of them was ever quite as good as Kevin Appier, who'd have won a Cy Young or two if he'd been a little luckier. His 3.46 ERA as a Royal was outstanding for the era, and he was consistently victimized by crummy run support from a franchise that didn't know a hitter from a parking meter.
John (Toronto, ON)
Rob, why didn't you put Roger Clemens on your Blue Jay's all-time best team? I'd understand the arguement that he only played with them for two seasons, but those were two great seasons (maybe the best two seasons ever thrown by someone in a Blue Jays uniform) and you put Paul Molitor on the team for playing 3 seasons with the Jays.
Rob Neyer (2:28 PM)
My "rule" was that to be considered, a player had to be there for three seasons. . . but I did consider a player for the No. 2 team even though he was there for only two seasons. That's how Clemens takes the fourth slot on the Blue Jays' No. 2 team, and David Cone takes the second slot on the Royals' No. 2 team (and looking at those now, I realize that I should have moved Clemens up at least a couple of slots).
Jim (Phoenix, AZ)
I only had funds to purchase one baseball book this summer and, because of your recomendation it was Moneyball. Thanks. Maybe I'll find your book at a yard sale someday.
Rob Neyer (2:30 PM)
Good choice, Jim! My book's a lot of fun, I think, but if you don't read Moneyball you're going to be left out of a lot of discussions over the next few years.
Bill (Cleveland, OH)
Is Omar Vizqual good enough to make the Hall of Fame?
Rob Neyer (2:34 PM)
Not even close. Vizquel's a fine player, obviously, but he's just the third-best Indians shortstop (behind Hall of Famers Lou Boudreau and Joe Sewell), and his glove isn't great enough to balance what's generally been an adequate (at best) bat. And if anybody out there wants to prove that Vizquel's just as good as Ozzie Smith .... well, you've got your work cut out for you.
Scott (New lenox, IL)
Rob: Didn't you also find it a bit dis-heartening to see Cub fans cheering on Sammy Sosa at Wrigley Field after he was found cheating? What kind of message does that send to children? "Way to cheat Sammy"?
Rob Neyer (2:36 PM)
A little bit? Sure, I guess. But the fans consider Sammy a member of their family, and when a member of your family gets in trouble, aren't you supposed to back him up? I think most Cubs fans would prefer that Sosa hadn't corked his bat, but they're willing to forgive and forget.
Josh (Coventry, CT)
After reading some of your lineups for all-time greatest time, I couldn't help but notice that, though you ranked Clemens ahead of Pedro in the All-Time Red Sox starting pitchers, you said you'd rather have a healthy Pedro start a "must-win" game. Is there anyone who you would rather have than Pedro? Sandy Koufax maybe?
Rob Neyer (2:38 PM)
That's a tricky question, Josh. I suspect I wrote that about Pedro Martinez because I think Pedro's a better pitcher on a per-game basis. And since I don't really believe that some pitchers are "clutch" and others aren't, I just want the best pitcher. That said, it's hard to go wrong with Bob Gibson.
Rob, Just curious, why did Al Leiter make the Mets All-time team but David Cone did not? Seems to me that Cone was better in his time with the Mets (80 wins or thereabouts, I think) than Leiter, and he had better stuff. Leiter's good and all, but wasn't Cone better?
Rob Neyer (2:41 PM)
Honestly? I don't remember. I do know it was a very close call, and Cone is the No. 1 starter on the No. 2 (and this is a good time to tell you that each chapter of the book contains a No. 2 team; but for the Mets' sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-best starters, you gotta find the book).
Brendan Bellingham, Ma
Just one question Rob. How is it possible that Carl Yastremski is NOT a part of the Red Sox outfield?
Rob Neyer (2:45 PM)
Well, who's he going to bump? Dwight Evans in right field? No, because in Yaz's entire career, he played only seven games in right field. Tris Speaker in center? No, Yaz did spend most of a season (1964) in center field, but that's not long and anyway Speaker was a better player. Ted Williams in left? Hardly. The only possibility would have been to wedge Yaz in at DH, but the problem is that he wasn't a good DH (he was, after all, in his 40s by then). So there you have it. There just wasn't room for Carl Yastrzremski in the outfield.
James St. Louis, MO
You have Bert Blyleven as your #1 starter for the Twins and your 3rd best Twin ever. Why is he not in the Hall and will he ever get there?
Rob Neyer (2:47 PM)
The answer to your first question is, "Blyleven's not in the Hall because the voters don't understand how great he was." (I go on about this at some length in the book.) And the answer to your second question is, "I don't have any idea, but we all can still hope."
In your opinion, who is the greatest player (that fit the criteria of being on a current franchise), that did not make a team? (ie Yaz)
Rob Neyer (2:51 PM)
That would be a strapping young fella by the name of Joe DiMaggio. And yes, I know I could have slotted him in left field (or center, and shifted Mantle to left), or at DH. But I didn't allow such things. When it's your book, you can do stuff like that.
Byron Vogel, Kansas City, Kan.
On the Cardinals - any thought of moving Musial to RF and making room for Lou Brock in LF? It's hard for me to justify leaving Brock off, even if it is at the expense of Enos Slaughter.
Rob Neyer (2:54 PM)
Brock was a great player, but 1) he didn't do anything particularly well except steal bases, and 2) he wasn't as good as Slaughter.
i Know Ichiro has only been in the majors for a few years, but dont you think that he will be better then some of the other mariners outfielders?
Rob Neyer (2:56 PM)
Sure. But unless he changes positions (not likely anytime soon), he'll only be eligible for right field on my list. And with only two-and-a-half seasons under his belt, he's got a long ways to go if he's going to catch Jay Buhner for that spot.
Paul, Lake Havasu City, AZ
Rob, after listing Mark Grace as the best first baseman on two teams, it it possible he will one day end up in the Hall? Thanks very much, always enjoy your articles. P
Rob Neyer (3:03 PM)
Slim and none. And if you check out www.robneyer.com, you'll find a new article detailing my argument against his Hall of Fame credentials. Excellent player, but not Hall-worthy.
Scott: Des Moines, Iowa
Albert Pujols is going to have the best first three years of any baseball player in the history of the game. Where does he belong on your list as an all-time Cardinal?
Rob Neyer (3:07 PM)
Hmmm, I think he's still a fair piece behind Stan the Man. Great as he's been. Thanks for all the great questions, and I'll be back and chatting about Baseball 2003 soon.
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