Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 7, 2006
BASEBALL: Still Hurtin'

His playing time may be sporadic and he may not be the .320 hitter of old, but over his last 162 games, Frank Thomas has smacked 53 homers and 31 doubles, slugged .583 with a .388 OBP, driven in 135 runs and scored 115, reached base by walk or hit by pitch 127 times, and hit into just 7 double plays. Which is why the A's are willing to bank on the vagaries of his health in the hopes of getting a good 130 or so games from him.

Also on the subject of great sluggers, this stat shouldn't have surprised me when I worked it out the other day, but it still did: Manny Ramirez has averaged 130 RBI per season over the last eight years. Which is why, overpaid or not, Manny is still worth the hassle.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:58 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (18) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Two of the best during my lifetime.

Posted by: Mike at April 7, 2006 11:59 AM

If you apply Jimmy Rollins logic, that's a pretty nice season for Thomas...[/snark]

Too bad it took three years to compile it.

That is suprisingly good when healthy though. the Manny numbers are not so suprising. the man is simply an RBI machine, which is why the Sox (and fans) should stop worrying about his contract and trading him.

Posted by: Mr Furious at April 7, 2006 12:02 PM

Couldn't agree more re: Manny. As a red sox fan, it annoys me to know end when the sports writers jump all over him for taking an extra day at the all star break (I think his games played numbers are always way up there as well), and then the team puts him on the block each year.

Without Manny the Sox may have been a 500 team the last few years (if you consider that he makes everyone else hit better - Bill Mueller, Big Papi, etc.)

Posted by: patrick at April 7, 2006 12:30 PM

I remember when Thomas was putting up Ted Williams numbers, so even his decline is impressive.

Manny is Manny. He got very lucky he was actually able to perform for pay the one thing marketable he can; he is odd, strange, all those things. And also one of the few who, like Mantle, actually could get by on talent alone.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 7, 2006 1:10 PM

I had pegged Thomas a few years ago to take the triple crown. Pity injuries have hampered him.

Posted by: rbj at April 7, 2006 2:15 PM

What I find amazing about Manny is that as inconsistent a personality as he is he is equally as consistent as a hitter. Over those eight years he has hit over .300 6 times (he also hit .292 and .294), has hit over 35 HRs every years but one (2002 when he played 120 games and hit 33 HRs), has a slugging percentage over .600 5 times (the other 3 are .587, .594, .599), has 300+ total bases 7 times (2002 as the exception) and 30+ doubles every year. In his last 1,135 games he has 1,042 RBIs.

Last year if he had started the season on May 18th he still would have been 8th in HRs and 11th in RBIs.

He is a freak who likely will end up with around 600 HRs and over 2,000 RBIs (only 3 guys have ever done that). People can say he is overpaid or that they wouldn't trade the wildly overrated Carlos Beltran for him but he is an unreal asset in the middle of a lineup. When he retires he will have made a case for himself as the greatest right-handed hitter of all time. When his contract expires the Sox should re-sign him.

Posted by: jim at April 7, 2006 2:46 PM

Daryl - Does Manny get by "on talent alone"? Maybe someone closer to the Sox could speak to this, but I thought I had read somewhere that Manny is actually a very hard worker - he may be a thin-skinned airhead, a periodic malcontent and a guy who doesn't follow orders real well, but I'm not sure it's fair to suggest that he doesn't work hard.

Posted by: The Crank at April 7, 2006 2:49 PM

Dude works hard. He wears that loose uniform so it is hard to tell but he is ripped. You should see him take BP. He doesn't just hit bombs, he starts with line drives to right field and works his way around the park hitting line drives and then hits a few moon shots but you can tell he understands hitting, understands working at hitting and is diligent about being repetitious and methodical. You don't post his numbers just by being talented. It's not possible.

Posted by: jim at April 7, 2006 3:00 PM

Manny sounds like Hornsby in that regard: a strange man, gifted with unbelievable ability at hitting a round ball with a round bat, and single-mindedly dedicated to the perfection of that particular craft.

Two geniuses at what they do; two dedicated artisans; two flawed human beings.

And, to expand on Jim's point, two of the greatest right-handed hitters ever.

Posted by: Mike at April 7, 2006 3:10 PM

Yes Manny also spends hours watching tapes - I think his true gift is a love/obsession with hitting - kind of like Ted Williams almost.

Posted by: patrick at April 7, 2006 3:42 PM

I don't think Daryl is discounting that Manny works hard. I think many agree that Manny is almost a hitting savant. A natural. He has taken that ability and worked hard to hone it. He is a master in the box. And by all appearences, he does it naturally.

I loved the Simmons line from last year contrasting Giambi and Sheffield's complex steroid abuse with Ortiz and Manny being "a couple of goofy Dominicans who between them could hardly mix up a batch of Thera-Flu."

Posted by: Mr Furious at April 7, 2006 4:09 PM

Ah, here it is...

Speaking of steroids, which team will be more affected by the steroids crackdown? Well, one team features the poster boy for the steroid crisis (Giambi), as well as someone who hung out with Barry Bonds and his trainer and "unknowingly" used a steroid cream (Sheffield). The other team has two goofy sluggers from the Dominican Republic who probably couldn't figure out how to make a cup of Thera-Flu for one another, much less inject each other with hormones.

From last year's Sox vs Yanks season preview.

Posted by: Mr Furious at April 7, 2006 4:13 PM

I'd certainly agree that Manny is a natural hitter, and that he doesn't seem like he applies much brainpower to the task, although (as was true of Babe Ruth) that appearance is probably deceptive. Griffey is like Manny: he's a great natural talent who is known for taking a lot of BP but (in Griffey's case) not watching tape, on the theory that when his swing is right, little else matters. A-Rod, by contrast, is a tape fanatic. Different guys, different approaches as far as what they work at.

Posted by: The Crank at April 7, 2006 4:21 PM

I'll take Manny's "goofy" approach to hitting over that of "smart" guys like Andre Dawson or Joe Carter, who swung at every pitch that came within an acre of home plate.

Manny's absurd RBI totals look even more impressive when you realize he's been good for 80-95 BBs every year. Not only does he bring the runners in, but he gets himself on & preserves outs in the process.

I've always thought of his '99 season (165 RBIs and nearly 100 BBs) as one of the least appreciated in recent memory. Sure he did it in a hitters' environment (team, ballpark & league all on his side that year), but numbers like that don't lie.

Posted by: Mike at April 7, 2006 4:35 PM

As great as he is, Manny is in decline, as his road numbers reveal. Glad my Halos didn't give up the farm to get him.

Posted by: dinky at April 7, 2006 6:57 PM

Manny, like his teammate David Wells, is very smart within the (admitedly limited) scope of what matters to him. And obviously also very talented, as well.

Posted by: Jerry at April 7, 2006 9:00 PM

Have any of you heard of Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicators? It's a pretty well known personality classification system that has withstood years of research and is generally consider a very reliable framework for understanding how certain personality types view the world, value things, solve problems, etc.

FWIW, I suspect that Manny is from an MBTI perspective an "Introverted Sensing Thinking Perceiver" or ISTP... Why do I say this? Well, most ISTPs are not well understood by the rest of society, they are often labeled as somewhat antisocial, rebellious, and hard to get to know. ISTPs also tend to become incredible talented at "doing something". They are also well known for being experts at using "tools"... in this sense Manny's tools are his bat and his body (eyes, hands, strength, etc.). Here?s a description of ISTP from one of the leading researchers and authors in MBTI:

"[ISTPs] live a life of artful action, but their particular nature is most easily seen in their mastery of tools of any and all kinds, from microscopic drill to supersonic jet, from potter's wheel to grand piano, from a camera to a clarinet. Sometimes [ISTPs] will use their body as a tool. A tool is any implement that extends or varies our human powers -- vehicles, musical instruments, cutting devices, and weapons are just four of the many categories of the tools that surround us. Most of us use tools in some capacity, of course, but [ISTPs] (only ten per cent of the general population) are the true virtuosos of tool work, with a natural ability to command tools, to bend them to their wishes, and to become adept at all the crafts requiring tool skills. Even from an early age [ISTPs] are drawn to tools as to a magnet; tools fall into their hands demanding use, and they must manipulate them. Indeed, if a given tool, whether scalpel or earthmover, is operated with a precision that defies belief, that operator is likely an [ISTP]." - David Keirsey

Keirsey often compares ISTPs to the gunslingers of the old west. I think that?s an apt description of Manny. But instead of a pistol he wields a bat. People like Manny, don't get good because the want to be good... they don't work hard at what they become virtuosos at.... because for them, it's not work... it?s play. And they are often all about play, all about doing what *they* want to do. In cases like Manny's it's lucky that what they enjoy doing tends to be something that they have a natural gift for, and they love doing it so much, that they just keep doing it, for hours and hours on end... and this constant doing is where their expertise comes from. They simply can't help themselves.


Posted by: Brad at April 8, 2006 2:10 AM

Brad. Good points. I agree Manny communicates most effectively with his bat.

Though in 2004, he attempted a detente with the press, and I remember he said something like: "Nothing in the world makes me feel worse than making an error in the field. I'd rather strike out ten times in a row than let a ball get by me."

Right there he is describing the two different skills required in baseball: hitting and fielding. In one he is gifted and has passion. In the other (fielding), he probably is less gifted than the average major leaguer.

I respect him for his feilding as much as his hitting, because it does not come natural to him. Though as a Sox fan, I can't see him at the plate enough!!

Posted by: patrick at April 9, 2006 11:17 AM
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