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Baseball Evolution

TheHardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 is overflowing with articles on baseball history, the 2006 season, and sabermetric analysis. It also has stats and graphs you can't get anywhere else. Read Tony's Review for more info.

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May 30 - An Unexpected Blockbuster -

On December 21st, 2007, the Cincinnati Reds agreed to trade Josh Hamilton for two Texas Rangers pitching prospects. At first, very few (if any) people would think that this trade would make a significant impact on either of the teams. However, when we fast-forward five months, we find that Hamilton and Edinson Volquez are the leading candidates for the MVP and Cy Young awards in their respective leagues.

What this trade does is raise two major questions: Which team will benefit more from this trade, and are these two players simply playing way beyond their capabilities?

May 26 - A Long Career for a Shortstop -

Congratulations to Omar Vizquel, who on Sunday played the 2,584th game of his career as a shortstop, surpassing his boyhood hero and fellow country mate Luis Aparicio for the most ever played at the position. The 11-time Gold Glove winner is in his 20th major league season, the most of any player born in Venezuela. He also leads all active players with 2,609 hits and needs just 79 more in order to top Aparicio for the most all-time in that category. Among his many career achievements, Vizquel also holds several major league records for shortstops, including the highest career fielding percentage (.984), most career double plays (1,658) and fewest errors in a single season (3). Three times in his remarkable career, Vizquel has played in as many as 150 games and committed as few as five errors, including just four at age 39. He also holds the American League record for most consecutive games at short without an error (95). The quintessential slick-fielding, light-hitting shortstop, he is perhaps the last of a dying breed. Yet despite missing the Giants' first 36 games this season following knee surgery in spring training, Vizquel intends to play again in 2009, putting off his eventual Hall of Fame induction until 2015 at the earliest.

The possibility of Vizquel's enshrinement into Cooperstown is among the topics covered in Gregory's Weekly Pepper, along with a Tale of Three Left-Handers, hard comebackers to the mound, and confirmation of The Bagwell Conspiracy.

May 23 -- The Most Complete Pitcher in Baseball -

Roy Halladay completed his fifth game in 10 starts, putting him on pace for well over 15 on the year. The last pitcher to register double digits in complete games was Randy Johnson with 12 back in 1999.

Halladay also made his first relief outing since 2001 in the appearance before CG #5, notching his first hold since 1999 in the process. Halladay has registered a decision in all ten of his starts, however, his 5-5 record has dropped his career winning percentage to .659, 20th all time.

May 22 -Where Does Piazza Rank Among The Greats?-

Mike Piazza has formally announced his retirement from Major League Baseball. That makes now the perfect time to evaluate his rank among the all-time great catchers. Everyone knows that he is the best-hitting catcher of all time. Everyone also knows that he ranks among the worst all time in throwing out base runners, while he is generally considered competent in the other aspects of catcher defense.

The Piazza debate therefore features the extremely difficult issue of how to value offense versus defense. How do we reconcile this dichotomy? One way to quantify the throwing arms of catchers over the past 50 years is through the analysis of Caught Stealing Runs.

May 21 --

Asher is dreaming of many things. Of a leadoff hitter with a .300 OBP for Houston. Of a healthy and successful Milwaukee rotation. Of another Marlins-trump-Tigers success story, then the Tigers turning around and swindling the Phillies. Of Chad Tracy somehow being a more talented player than Mark Reynolds.

But most of all, he is dreaming of a Big Three reunion in Atlanta. Read about all of these thoughts and dreams.

May 16 - Week 7 Pepper -

Gregory Pratt has forgiven Manny Ramirez, is perepared to believe in Brad Lidge (though not quite yet), and has already written the headline for Roy Oswalt's triumphant second half comeback. He reveals that he ranks Billy Wagner as a greater reliever than Trevor Hoffman and tries to come up with a new song for closers. All this, plus whispers of the Cubs throwing the World Series 90 years ago in our Weekly Pepper.

May 16 - A Cold Day at Wrigley -

Months ago, when Major League Baseball released the 2008 season schedule, Gregory Pratt determined when the San Diego Padres would be coming to Chicago and decided to catch what many believe will be Greg Maddux' last game at Wrigley Field. Unfortunately, what should have been a sacred experience instead became a cold day in Wrigley, andd not just because of the 50-degree weather.

May 13 - Diamondbacks Should Ask for Trade-backs -

The Arizona Diamondbacks ended April with a 20-8 record, making everything they had done in the offseason above reproach. Now that they have begun May with a 3-7 stretch, the Snakes are no longer immune to the question, "As good as they are, how good could they have been?" The losses of Carlos Quentin, Dana Eveland, and Greg Smith could doom this team into missing the postseason.

May 12 - Weekly Pepper -

Ozzie Guillen, Gavin Floyd, and Jose Contreras play a large part in this week's Pepper. We also find a pitcher who said something far more offensive than anything that has ever come out of Ozzie Guillen's mouth, a different manager who hasn't leaned much from his past, and an ex-White Sox player whose defense merits him more Hall of Fame consideration than he is ever likely to receive.

May 10 - 350 Wins

The great Greg Maddux notched his 350th win Saturday night on his fifth attempt. He becomes the ninth ever 350-win pitcher, only the third born in the 20th century, and only the second born after 1960. Mad Dog needs five wins to surpass Roger Clemens for eighth place on the all-time list.

May 7 - Zito's Downfall: Blame it on Billy Beane? -

Barry Zito, fresh off of a week-long "demotion to the bullpen" that really amounted to a skipped start, dropped to 0-7 Wednesday night despite his best effort of the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is the first Giants pitcher to lose his first seven decisions since reliever Rod Beck went 0-9 in 1996, and only the third starting pitcher since 1956 to go 0-6 before May.

This was the first time in Zito's major league career that he had missed a start, and according to Richard Van Zandt, maybe he should have taken more days off throughout his career. Rich blames Zito's downfall on a loss of velocity, and blames that loss of velocity on Billy Beane's overuse of the once-talented southpaw.

May 5 - Week 5 Pepper-

The Hall of Fame ranks chief among Gregory's topics for the first week in May. He gives his opinions on the candidacies of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Mike Mussina, and Andruw Jones. The comebacks seasons of shortstops Rafael Furcal and Miguel Tejada, plus the comeback career of Josh Hamilton are also profiled in Gregory Pratt's Week 5 Pepper.

May 2 - Devil Rays: Told You So! -

In 2007, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays finished last in the major leagues in hits allowed per game, yielding 10.2, a full hit per game more than the second to last AL team. Consequently, the Devil Rays finished distantly last in runs allowed and earned runs allowed per game. But after revamping their defense and retooling their starting rotation, the Tampa Bay Rays find themselves in second place in the AL in runs and earned runs allowed per game, and are leading the American League in fewest hits allowed per game!

It is hard to imagine that any predicted that simply by acquiring competant defenders the Rays would improve their pitching staff that consequentially. I mean, you could check the Tampa Bay Preview, but I am certain we did not see this coming.

Asher addresses these points and much, much, more in his most recent Weekly Roundup.

May 1 - The Return of Power Rankings! -

Today marks the evolution from the weekly Power Rankings format to a monthly version. How much sense does it make to rank a team weighted so heavily on the last week of play? All great teams will go through a rough stretch at some point, and many futile teams have found fleeting success here and there. Why, just on the last day of April, we had scores of 8-1, 19-5, and two instances of 13-1 blowouts. Are we supposed to bow down to the winners of those blowouts and write off the losers?

Of course not. Here are the Baseball Evolution Power Rankings based on a full month of play.

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