Author Archives: platecoverage
The kid showed promise and power in the minors. But six games into his big league career, NY Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez was hitting a desultory .217/.250/.348., with no home runs. Hey, hitting a baseball is hard; even for the most talented young players, it takes time to figure things out.
In this case, seven games.
Sanchez began his sustained assault on American League pitching on August 10, and by season’s end had reached a number of home run milestones earlier than any player in MLB history. Despite playing only a third of his team’s games, Sanchez claimed a share of the AL rookie home run lead (with Texas’ Nomar Mazar), revived a moribund Yankees season, and staked a claim to ROY honors.
Sanchez, of course, must contend with Detroit’s Michael Fulmer, who distinguished himself with a fine 4.9 pWAR (eighth in the league, despite starting only 26 games) and 135 OPS+ over 159 innings. (Read the Complete Article at Plate Coverage.)
Mike Trout, despite being the best player in baseball, will almost certainly not be named American League MVP.
While Trout won’t join the list of 30 players who have captured multiple MVPs, he does have an opportunity to become a member of a more elite club: Should Trout finish second in the voting (a distinct possibility), he’ll join Ted Williams, Stan Musial, and current teammate Albert Pujols as the only players with four MVP runner-up finishes…
Like baseball? Like books? Like talking about baseball and books? Join Jeremy Lehrman, editor of Plate Coverage and author of “Baseball’s Most Baffling MVP Ballots” at the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse on November 10. Lehrman joins Bergino proprietor and long-time sports agent Jay Goldberg for an evening of spirited discussion (and spirits, for those of a certain age).
Live in the Clubhouse
Hosted by Jay Goldberg, the Bergino “Live in the Clubhouse” podcast series has featured Pulitzer-prize winners, Hall of Famers, and some of the most interesting people in baseball. Previous guests include HOF pitchers Jim Palmer and Goose Gossage; baseball legends Dwight Gooden and Ken Griffey; and a long list of literary all-stars, including Ira Berkow, Ben Bradlee Jr., George Vecsey, and Nicholas Dawidoff.
The event starts at 7:00 PM. Please note, due to space restrictions, a purchase of a signed book or Clubhouse gift certificate is required for a guaranteed seat. Please contact Jay at the Clubhouse for full details: 212-226-7550; firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you live in the NYC area, stop by and join the fun (especially if you’ve got a bone to pick with the author).
Cubs second-baseman John Evers had the metabolism of a hummingbird, the temperament of a wolverine, and a near-pathological need to win baseball games. Known as “The Crab” or “The Human Splinter” in his playing days, Johnny Evers wasn’t a very popular guy. At 5’ 9”, 125 lbs., he assiduously subscribed to the maxim of “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
Because Evers fought – physically, verbally, and psychologically – every time he stepped onto the field. He fought for every hit, every stolen base, and every deftly turned double play. He fought with opponents, with teammates, and especially with umpires. A live wire of frayed nerves and inexhaustible energy, Evers was more than willing to instigate mayhem to gain an advantage on the field. He could start a bench-clearing brawl with a gesture, and these weren’t the choreographed slow dances that pass for on-field brawls today; these could be brutal scraps fought with intent. He was constantly ejected from games, and regularly suspended.
The HOF website’s anodyne summary of the Selig Era reads like the inscription for his plaque: “Allan H. ‘Bud’ Selig was Baseball’s ninth commissioner, serving as acting commissioner starting in 1992 before being named commissioner in 1998. Selig oversaw two rounds of expansion, the creation of Wild Card playoff teams and interleague play as well as the creation of the World Baseball Classic.”
It’s an incomplete summation of the man and his tenure. Selig not only oversaw the game’s greatest geographic expansion, he led the game’s greatest sustained economic expansion (per Graham Womack at the Sporting News, annual revenues went from $2 billion to $9 billion under his watch, a compound annual growth rate of about 8%). He negotiated and approved landmark television and merchandising deals, and led baseball’s “early adopter” efforts with regard to streaming technology (it was reported earlier this year that the Walt Disney Company took a stake in MLB Advanced Media; while details weren’t made public, it was estimated that the deal values the company at $3.5 billion).
Of course, Selig was acting commissioner when the most calamitous work-stoppage (1994-1995) in the history of the game took place (he was firmly in the corner of ownership). He is the only commissioner to preside over an October without a World Series; and it is under his leadership that the use of performance-enhancing drugs proliferated throughout the game…
Hugh Chalmers (b. 1873) was that most authentic American construct: The brazen, huckster industrialist. Part Henry Ford, part P.T. Barnum, the self-made Chalmers began his career at the age of 14 as an office boy at the National Cash Register Company; by the time he was 35, he owned an eponymous automobile manufacturer, the Chalmers Motor Company, renowned for building “medium-priced” cars aimed at a burgeoning and aspirant middle class.
The charismatic Chalmers was a born salesman who saturated newspapers with ads for his cars (“Not How Large but How Good” was a tagline). He sponsored road races and exhibitions to showcase his merchandise, and became something of an authority on marketing and promotion. He was a popular speaker on the Chamber of Commerce circuit, giving countless talks on the art of selling, which he described as “simply influencing the human mind.” His speeches were reprinted in newspapers, advertising books, and educational pamphlets.
Which is to say, Chalmers gave a lot of thought – a lot of thought – to how he might sell his cars to people who might not have known they wanted one.
The automobile man was also a baseball fan, and keenly aware of the sport’s immense and growing popularity in the early years of the 20th century (he was fond of peppering his speeches with baseball metaphors and imagery). In 1910, he hatched a marketing campaign that would dominate the summer headlines and become the progenitor of the modern MVP award:
“Fans all over the country are turning their attention to the battle which is being waged between the leading batters of the big leagues for a motor car, which has been offered for the batting championship this season.”–Milwaukee Journal, August 25, 1910
The motor car on offer was a Chalmers-Detroit Model 30. The man doing the offering was Hugh Chalmers.
Read the full story at Plate Coverage