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2007 By the Numbers
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2007 By the Numbers
by Asher B. Chancey,
November 1, 2007

For the last few years, I have done an annual update on Albert Pujols and his march to the Hall of Fame. But Albert Pujols isn’t the only player marching. Check out these other guys, and see how they did at various points in their careers in 2007.

Troy Tulowitski, Year One

The importance of this youngster cannot be overstated. By all accounts, “Tulow” is an amazing defensive player. The Colorado Rockies pitching staff inevitably has the deck stacked totally against them – having an outstanding defensive player in the middle infield who can also swing the bat is a major asset to this team. If making it to the World Series is any indication, the Rockies may have their fate tied to this guy for the next fifteen years.

Ryan Zimmerman, Year Two

A year younger than Milwaukee Brewers Third Baseman, and rookie, Ryan Braun, "The Face of the The Franchise" is already completing his second full season. In 2007 Zimmerman exceeded 2006's totals in homeruns and triples, but fell below last year's levels in just about every other category. Zimmerman finished tied for third in the NL with in the league with 26 double plays and fourth in outs with 511, but is a solid defensive player and should only improve at the plate in the coming years.

Robinson Cano, Year Three

Knocked early on for being another Yankees empty-average-no-glove infielder, Cano has improved his offense and defensive value in 2007. The 24-year old second baseman watched his batting average and OPS slip late in the season, but has actually gotten better at taking walks. Cano is a more complete hitter this year than he has been in the last couple of seasons, and appears at this point to be a doubles machine, finishing with 41 for the second year in a row. With the likely departure of several aging veterans, Cano could be the next Yankee great.

Alexis Rios, Year Four

Rios was an out machine his first couple of years in the league, and suffered through a magnificent flame out in 2006 after a very good first half. His overall numbers have improved each year in the league, and this season he finished with 114 runs, 43 doubles, 24 homeruns, and 17 stolen bases, while setting a career low with 9 double plays. In the next year or two, an OPS over .900 is not out of the question. While Toronto gives millions to Vernon Wells, Rios is the real star of this team.

Miguel Cabrera, Year Five

M-Cab won the World Series as a rookie in 2003, was an All Star in 2004, and finished fifth in the MVP voting in both 2005 and 2006. After a fantastic 2006, Cabrera's numbers dropped slightly overall despite the fact that he hit a career high 34 homeruns. Unfortunately for, well, baseball as a whole, Cabrera is heading into the prime of his career, the Marlins aren’t getting any richer, and the New York Yankees’ third baseman just opted out of his contract.

Carlos Pena, Year Six

Pena had the benefit of being highly touted with the Rangers, A's, and Tigers. He was average as a rookie in 2002, solid in 2003, pretty good in 2004, and then fell off the map in 2005 and 2006 before making his triumphant return with the D'Rays this year. Pena's OBP finished at an incredible .411, his slugging percentage was well over .600, and he was the only player in the AL other than Alex Rodriguez to finish with over 35 homeruns (he hit 46). The D'Rays hope that Pena is finally ready to stay in the majors, and from the looks of things, he is.

Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki, Year Seven

The 2001 Rookies of the Year each hit the ground running and haven't stopped yet. This season, Ichiro tied a major league record with his seventh straight 200 hit season, while Pujols set a major league record by hitting 30 or more homeruns in each of his first seven seasons. Neither player has ever hit below .300, each has a career average over .330, each has won an MVP award, and each is one of his league's premier defensive players. At the point, both players appear destined for the Hall of Fame.

Rick Ankiel, Year Eight

In 2000, the 20-year old rookie was outstanding as a pitcher, striking out 194 batters in 175 innings and earning the Game One start in the National League Divisional Series. The rest, as they say, is history – Ankiel walked six and threw five wild pitches, and simply never recovered. Seven years later, the 20 year old fireballing pitcher reinvented himself as a 27 power-hitting outfielder. Ankiel had nine homeruns in his first 23 games back in the league after an early August call-up, and appeared to be the storybook story of the 2007 season until HGH accusations surfaced and derailed his whole season. If Ankiel can recover from the highly public trauma for the second time in his career, the Cardinals will be the better for it.

Roy Halladay, Year Nine

The Toronto ace led the American League with seven complete games (no one else had more than four) and is currently 15th on the active list with a 2.84 K/BB ratio. In 1999, Halladay spent his first full season in the majors switching between the starter and reliever roles, and had an 82/79 K/BB ratio. What a difference nine years can make.

Kerry Wood, Year Ten

The numbers from Wood's Rookie of the Year campaign boggle the mind – 233 strikeouts in 166.7 innings and 20 strikeouts in what some have called the greatest game ever pitched which, oh by the way, came in the 21-year old's fifth major league game. The road has been rough ever since – he missed all of 1999 with an injury and has only pitched 200-plus innings twice in his career. While the 2003 Cubs rode Wood all the way to the NLCS, the 2007 Cubs won the NL West with Wood serving as little more than a fan on the sidelines. At the still young age of 30, Wood has entered the "what could have been" phase of his career.

Andruw Jones, Year Eleven

Generally considered one of the greatest centerfielders of all time, Jones looked wet behind the ears as a rookie when he hit .231 with an OPS under .750 at the age of 20. Has Jones matured? Not sure – his 2007 average, OPS, double play rate and strikeout rates were all worse this season, at the age of 30, than they were during his rookie year, at the age of 20.

Billy Wagner, Year Twelve

In 1996, the 24-year old Houston Astros rookie struck out 67 batters in 51.7 middle relief innings, but also had a penchant for walking guys way too often. Nevertheless, after closer Todd Jones moved on the following year, Wagner became the full time Astros closer and went on to become one of the most dominant closers of the modern era. Wagner has played on only one losing team during his career – the 2000 Astros, during a season in which Wagner missed all but 28 games. This season, Wagner struck out 80 batters in 68.3 innings.

Garrett Anderson, Year Thirteen

The 1995 Rookie of the Year runner-up has developed a reputation for lots of power coupled with very little on-base percentage. Anderson is a free swinger for sure, as his impressive .297 average and appalling .327 on-base percentage can attest. In 2007, somehow, Anderson enjoyed his best season since 2003 despite being injured for part of the season, prompting some (okay, me) to speculate as to Anderson’s possible usage of performance enhancing substances.

Manny Ramirez, Year Fourteen

Wanna hear a funny joke? In 1994, Manny Ramirez finished second in the Rookie of the Year balloting to Bob Hamelin. Ramirez has established himself as one of the all time great hitters, and also one of the most eccentric. Man-Ram suffered through his worst year since he was a rookie – and it was the type of season most hitters would love to have. Ramirez in his classic best in the playoffs when, with the Red Sox down 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians, played the Alfred E. Neumann card by telling reporters “So what if we lose, it’s not the end of the world!” The Red Sox didn’t lose another game.

Mike Piazza, Year Fifteen

Piazza won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1993 and went on to become the consensus Greatest Offensive Catcher of All Time. Not bad for a guy that the Los Angeles Dodgers took with their 62nd round draft pick from the 1988 draft, and only because he was Tommy Lasorda's godson. Piazza suffered an injury plagued year in 2007, not because of wear and tear, but rather because of a slide-related injury. Look for a couple more years out of the old catcher.

Kenny Lofton, Year Sixteen

Only four players scored points in the 1992 American League Rookie of the Year vote. Lofton finished second behind the Brewers' Pat Listach. Lofton went on to star on the great Cleveland Indians teams of the 1990s before becoming a gun-for-hire with the White Sox, Giants, Pirates, Cubs, Yankees, Phillies, Cubs, and Rangers, and then returning to the Indians in 2007. Lofton has been to the post-season a remarkable 11 times with seven different teams, but has never won the World Series.

Ivan Rodriguez, Year Seventeen

Hard to believe that I-Rod could have played 17 years already? That is because the 35-year old Detroit Tigers catcher played 88 games at catcher as a 19 year old, and became the Rangers regular catcher the following year. At one time, Rodriguez was one of the game's great catchers; he spends his time these days finding new ways to avoid getting on base.

Curt Schilling, Year Eighteen

As hard as it may be to believe, by the time Schilling pitched 46 innings for the Orioles in 1990, he had already been traded once by the Red Sox and would soon be traded again by the Orioles. Schilling is one of the top two or three pitchers of this decade, and also one of this decade's biggest assholes. Congrats on that third ring, Curt – when it comes to joining winning teams, you’re the best.

Steve Finley, Year Nineteen

Came in as a perfectly bad outfielder in 1989 with the Orioles, hit 300 homeruns and stole 300 bases during his career, and then spent 43 games performing about as well as Minnie Minoso probably could have this year for the Colorado Rockies.

Gary Sheffield, Year Twenty

One of the most controversial players in recent baseball history, partly because whenever a high profile idiot talks, the baseball writers have a tendency to listen and repeat. From his days tanking it with the Brewers in order to force a trade, to complaining about disrespect from the Los Angeles Dodgers, disrespect from the Atlanta Braves, and disrespect and racism from the New York Yankees, Sheffield has won a World Series ring (with the 1997 Marlins), fought for a Triple Crown (which he was well in the running for in 1992), and put together a Hall of Fame resume. Sheffield is one of those rare players who lets both his bat AND his mouth do the talking for him, and may be around long enough to hit homerun number 600.

David Wells, Year Twenty-One

Wanna know how Babe Ruth would fare in today's game? David Wells is probably the closest thing we have to a Ruth replica in terms of physique, and it ain't pretty. Wells has thrown a no-hitter, gone into a depressed funk after being traded from the Yankees, and laid down a bunt for a base-hit at the age of 44. A solid career from a slovenly guy.

Barry Bonds, Year Twenty-Two

Bonds went .223/.330/.416 with 16 homeruns, 36 stolen bases, and 102 strikeouts as a rookie in 1986. It would be his worst season. Bonds will play 2008 away from San Francisco for the first time since 1992. He could probably play in the AL until he turns fifty.

Roger Clemens, Year Twenty-Four

One of the two or three greatest pitchers of all time, Clemens has put up career numbers that rival anyone and has won the Cy Young with every team he ever pitched for.

Julio Franco, Year Twenty-Five

Has played for more teams in more leagues on more continents than anyone since the color barrier was broken – or so it seems. Franco managed exactly one major league at-bat in the years 1998, 1999, and 2000 combined, and he struck out. But Franco made a rousing comeback in 2001, and has sense been a relatively productive player well into his late 40s, though 2007 has been the worst season of his career. He intends to play until he is 50. We'll see.

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at