A Year To Remember
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
August 1, 2007
No, this isnít a cheesy Baseball Tonight gimmick, where at the end of every season they show you a bunch of overrated catches and walk off homeruns, and then claim that (insert year here) has been one of the best in recent years. Although weíre not quite at the end of the year yet, a couple of significant milestones have been reached and a couple more should be reached with in the next week or two. And yes, there is that little record that Hank Aaron holds that could be broken any day now.
Frank the Tank, as I like to call him, has been one of the most underrated players in recent memory, but his 500th HR should hopefully get him more exposure, and ultimately give him a ticket to Cooperstown. On June 28th, Frank Thomas hit his 500th career homerun of off Carlos Silva, who has a knack for giving up homeruns in the first place. (Carlos has given up 108 in only 871 innings pitched) Thomas, who hit his first career homerun off Gary Wayne 17 years ago, is only the 21st player to reach the 500 HR plateau, and it hasnít been easy. Thomas easily could have reached this milestone two or maybe even three years ago, but from 2001-2005 he had less than 250 at bats three times.
Along with Thomas, Craig Biggio has been another underappreciated player. Biggio has provided great offensive value from two of the most defensive orientated positions on the field: second base, and catcher. Biggio has hit over 250 homeruns, hit over 600 doubles, stole over 400 bases, and was an on-base machine in his prime. However, unless you are a stat junkie like myself, you probably didnít care. Fortunately, on the same night as Thomas hit his 500th homerun, Biggio got his 3,000th hit. It may be one of the most overrated measures of greatness, (see Lou Brock) but hopefully it will get Craig the acknowledgement he deserves, and almost certainly give him a ticket to Cooperstown.
Tom Glavine, along with John Smoltz and Greg Maddux, was a part of maybe the greatest pitching rotation of all time, is now one win away from 300. Like Smoltz, Mike Mussina, and Curt Schilling, Glavine has always been a questionable Hall of Fame candidate in most fans minds, yet he will become a lock for the hall when he reaches this milestone. And it will certainly help his case that after Randy Johnson, we might not see another 300 game winner for 10 years.
Letís move on to the greatest infielder we have seen since Henry Gehrig: Alex Rodriguez. On top of having a career year, he is only one homerun shy of joining the 500 homerun club. Alex, unlike the previous players I have mentioned, certainly does not need a single milestone to be enshrined in the Hall. A-Rod obviously has a lot of controversy swirling around his name, but there is no doubting that he might be one of the ten greatest players ever once his career has finished.
Speaking of controversy, Sammy Sosa recently hit his 600th homerun. Steroids or not, this is an accomplishment to acknowledge, because I havenít seen Nefi Perez or Matt Lawton hitting 600 homeruns. Sosa says he wants to stick around to hit 700 homeruns. Whether he does that or not, we still have to recognize Sammy as one of best homerun hitters in the past 10 years.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Barry Bonds. The greatest Giant of all time is about to break the greatest record in all of baseball, and possibly in all of sports. Unfortunately Bonds, like Sosa, has steroids linked to his name, and has caused many people to give his accomplishments the cold shoulder. I can understand why people feel that way because I personally believe that Bonds took steroids, and I donít believe he would have been able to approach this record if he had not used steroids. However, people have to recognize that, steroids or not, what Bonds is doing is something special. At the age of 43, he has hit 20 homeruns and has on-base percentage hovering around .500, which is amazing.
I honestly donít remember so many milestones being reached in a single year, and I didnít even mention Ken Griffey Jr. hit 600 HR, because Iím not so sure he will hit number 600 this year. Despite having steroid controversies, animal cruelty, and a referee betting on games that he officiated in other sports, it has been a memorable season for the greatest sport in the world.
Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in Queens, New York and can be reached at email@example.com.
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