Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

June 8, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Rob Neyer

Robert (Denver and Colorado) [via mobile]

Will we ever see the Stolen Base come back, or, are Coleman, Henderson, and Raines it?

Rob Neyer
  (12:03 PM)

I think the game will move in directions that we can hardly guess, at this moment. I will predict that we'll someday see another player steal 100 bases in a season. When that season is, I don't have the slightest idea.

Mark Da Rosa (Yonkers, NY)

Right now is Ubaldo Jimenez one of the top 3 MVP candidates in the National League? He is the main reason that the Rockies are above .500 and contending at the moment.

Rob Neyer
  (12:05 PM)

Maybe. I'm not sure what a pitcher would have to do, these days, to win. Maybe go 25-4 for a division-winning team?

Andrew (Toledo)

Remembering my childhood in the 80s, brings me to realize that baseball was just better then. Lots of competition and not every player hit 20+ home runs. What say you?

Rob Neyer
  (12:08 PM)

Well, sure. Of course, we didn't have any Japanese players, most everybody was hopped up on greenies (or worse), a lot of teams played on fake grass in ugly stadiums, and the owners were colluding like there was no tomorrow. But yeah, otherwise everything was peachy.

Larry (HArtford)

In Honor of Ken Griffey Jr, Where do you think he ranks among the best CF's of all time? I've got him fifth, behind Mays, Cobb, Joe D and Mantle....

Rob Neyer
  (12:10 PM)

Well, if you're going to include Cobb, I think you have to also give some thought to his Dead Ball Era contemporary, Tris Speaker. But your list seems otherwise correct.

Josh (St. Paul, MN.)

Hey Rob...a couple of questions about my Twins. One, is Delmon Young really starting to mature and develop into a good guy that may hit 20+ HR's a year? Second, what has happenedto Jason Kubel this offeseason with both his batting average and power and speaking of power, what has happened to Mauer's power? Should we be worried about these two at all? Thanks!

Rob Neyer
  (12:11 PM)

Yes, I think Young might someday hit 20 homers. He's still young enough to improve, and should (some). The other guys are just good examples of regression to the mean.

Lee D (LA)

25 - 4 should be good enough to win MVP, though Pedro's 23 - 4, 2.07 ERA for a pennant winning team wasn't....

Rob Neyer
  (12:11 PM)

Exactly.

Jake (Seattle)

Is this a lost season for the M's? Where do you rank the AL West teams for the next 5 seasons or so?

Rob Neyer
  (12:15 PM)

I find that chore almost impossible, as I won't be surprised if each team in the division wins one title over these next five seasons. Except maybe the A's; I'm wondering if they'll ever develop another great hitter.

Brian (Ridgewood, NJ)

So now that Jeter is tied for the lead in WAR among all major league SS's, despite not finding his groove yet, are you willing to apologize for mocking me for saying he can play the position for at least a few more years?

Rob Neyer
  (12:18 PM)

Is he really? With 1.2 WAR? Not a good third of a season for shortstops, huh? But sure: If you need an apology, you got one. My pleasure.

Rich (Cleveland)

Rob, do you subscribe to the philosophy that there is no such thing as a pitching prospect, that there are just guys that work out and ones that don't? Will Strasburg affect those thoughts at all?

Rob Neyer
  (12:21 PM)

I subscribe to the "philosophy" only as a rhetorical tool ... Of COURSE there are pitching prospects. It's just that if you bet on them, you're usually going to lose. As brilliantly talented as Strasburg is, he's probably not going to win 200 games. I'm guessing the right answer is 100-150 (if you're betting).

Gus (New City, NY)

For what it's worth, Jeter has a 1.9 WAR

Rob Neyer
  (12:23 PM)

Not according to Baseball-Reference.com ... Ah, I see that FanGraphs has him at 1.9 ... Seems like a significant difference, the sort that doesn't do anybody any favors. Love to see WAR standardized so we can avoid these kerfuffles.

Blake (Abilene, TX)

Rob, I think when people look at the effects of steroids in baseball they look only at the numbers. However a good indicator that the league is getting cleaner would be Nelson Cruz. Look how long this hamstring injury has kept him out. During the Steroid era we saw guys come back from injuries so quick.

Rob Neyer
  (12:24 PM)

Is this true? It's an empirical question, right? I'd love to see a study ...

Ben (Lansing)

It seems like Miguel Cabrera has been under the radar. Why does everyone automatically assume Pujols is the best player in the majors? Cabrera hits similarly in a tougher league, and also plays first base well.

Rob Neyer
  (12:25 PM)

If he played first base well, Galarraga would have gotten his perfect game. But yeah, Cabrera's probably a little bit underappreciated. That will change if he keeps hitting like this.

JR (Vegas)

Your thoughts on Oliver Perez to the DL? Also - didn't this happen last year too? Perez to the DL for a knee issue that was questioned?

Rob Neyer
  (12:26 PM)

Yep. Standard dodge. But everyone's doing it, so ...

Mike W (chicago)

Arthur Rhodes is 40 years old and never played in an all-star game. This season he's currently on a 22 2/3 scoreless innings streak (which nobody has mentioned) and has an era at 0.36 ERA (a lower ERA than his age!!) Any chance he makes the all-star game and has anyone ever finished a season with an ERA lower than their age?

Rob Neyer
  (12:28 PM)

It'd be fun to see him in the All-Star Game, huh? But can you remember the last middle reliever who made it? I recall it happening at some point ... Jeff Zimmerman in 1999, but I don't know if he's the last. ERA below his age: nah.

Silv (NY, NY)

Rob, just not sold, at all, on Stanton - way too early, and this smacks of Wily Mo Pena. Any particular reason I shouldn't expect an average in the low .200s with virtually no walks and a few ridiculous moonshots?

Rob Neyer
  (12:35 PM)

He's incredibly young and he's got a .441 OBP in Double-A ... I think the Miguel Cabrera comparisons are decent as far as they go. Stanton should be a good hitter immediately, and a great hitter within two or three seasons.

Tyler (MN)

That is interesting that the two sites provide different WAR for Jeter. Is there not a standardized formula for calculating it? In my mind it loses a lot of credibility if everyone has their own way of determining it.

Rob Neyer
  (12:36 PM)

I know. Same here. I suspect they're using slightly different ways to measure Jeter's runs saved, which can make a significant difference at this point in the season.

Justin (Baltimore)

OK-I was mad in the preseason when you said that Garrett Atkins was done and you are completely right...what made you say that? Coors/roads splits?

Rob Neyer
  (12:37 PM)

I said that? Congratulations to me. And yes, I was probably looking at those splits. And of course the trend line wasn't looking real good.

Michael (Philadelphia)

If we believe that pitchers have little or no control over their opponents' batting average on balls in play, then did Armando Galarraga have one of the luckiest games ever? He had only three strikeouts. So that's one hit on 25 balls in play (no hits on 24 balls in play if the play at first base had been called correctly). Running him through Voros McCracken's formulas gives something like 7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, if he had had average fielding behind him. Your thoughts?

Rob Neyer
  (12:41 PM)

I'm hesitant to talk about "luck" in a single game ... but considering those three strikeouts *and* Galarraga's career numbers in the majors, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that he had a little help last week. Luck or fairy dust: You choose.

JJ Feelgood (Boston, MA)

Okajima made the allstar team in aught-seven.

Rob Neyer
  (12:41 PM)

So there you have it. Let's get Rhodes in there this year!

Glenn (New York, NY)

Jeff Nelson, I think you mean. Brendan Donnelly was also an all-star in 2003 when he was the set-up man for Rodriguez in Anaheim.

Rob Neyer
  (12:42 PM)

Him too. But no, I meant Zimmerman. Have you forgotten already.

Justin (Chicago)

Following up Michael's question, I recently had discussion. Was kerry wood's 20k/1 hit/ 1 hbp game more dominant than any/most/all of the no-hitters in history?

Rob Neyer
  (12:42 PM)

Of course.

John (Sioux Falls, SD)

Galarraga allowed only 2 line drives over 9 IP. He was lucky none of his 15 ground balls snuck through the infield, but he was obviously doing things very right that day.

Rob Neyer
  (12:43 PM)

Granted.

Ben (SF)

Rob, the SF media is starting to talk about Andres Torres being the real deal, and saying he's just a late bloomer. But can you remember anybody "blooming" at 32? It's just a couple good months, or at best maybe it will be a career year, right?

Rob Neyer
  (12:44 PM)

No, not really. Even Luis Gonzalez had some pretty good seasons in his 20s.

Bob (Seattle)

And BP has Jeter at 2.8 WAR. So BR has Jeter at 1.2 and FanG at 1.9. If three different fielding stats result in a WAR difference of 1.6 over 1/3 of a season, it seems that there has to be a fundamental flaw in how the defensive stats are being calculated. Maybe one of them is right - there's certainly a big enough spread to ensure that one is more right than the other.

Rob Neyer
  (12:46 PM)

Well, the other big "problem" -- bigger, probably -- is that R stands for Replacement and everyone seems to have a different definition of "replacement". Might as well stick with comparing Jeter to other shortstops, and acknowledge that he's having a real good year in a bad year (so far) for shortstops. I think it's also fair to compare his WAR this season to his WAR in previous seasons, and acknowledge that he's not been up to his usual standard.

Aaron (Indianapolis)

Don't forget Carlos Marmol making the ASG in 07 as well.

Roman (El Paso, TX)

Duchscherer made the All-Star game as a middle reliever in 2005. I believe he was Oakland's lone representative that year.

Rob Neyer
  (12:49 PM)

I'm impressed and I hope we've exhausted this subject. Honestly, it would have taken me an hour (or more) to make this list. Thanks, all.

Troy (Portland)

A couple of weeks ago you said to check in in a couple of weeks. Are the Mariners done?

Rob Neyer
  (12:52 PM)

Jeez, was that two weeks ago already? Anyway, yeah they're (almost!) done: too many games behind, too many decent teams ahead of them.

Drew (Mpls)

Kubel regressing to the mean? I'm not sure I understand. Last year he was healthy and seemed to match the production fans were told he could do for years. He's not been good this year but the regression to the mean excuse seems to be the answer from many when they really mean "you got me, I have no idea".

Rob Neyer
  (12:53 PM)

Congratulations, Drew. You've now grasped the fundamental underpinnings of modern baseball analysis. (j/k, mostly)

Nick (Allston, MA)

Not mentioned so far: Paul Quantrill and Mike Stanton in 2001, and Shigetoshi Hasegawa in 2003.

Rob Neyer
  (12:53 PM)

You complete me.

Drew (Mpls)

Do the Twins need another starter? None are terrible (well, the jury is back out on Blackburn) but is Baker/Liriano/Slowey/Pavano good enough for a World Series team.

Rob Neyer
  (12:57 PM)

Anything's possible, but they'd look a lot better with a real ace ... Just not sure if they're willing to deal for one. When's the last time they went after a high-profile guy? Does Rick Reed count?

Rob Neyer
  (12:58 PM)

Thanks for all the questions, and for all the help with All-Star middle relievers. Until next time don't forget, "Don't try to solve serious matters in the middle of the night."