I would have wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving sooner, but was wrapped up in last-minute preparations for Thanksgiving on Wednesday - as well as an unscheduled trip to the Doctor for the boys (bronchitis). Thursday, I meant to write, really I did, but somewhere between the turkey and pecan pie I slipped into a coma. I suspect I'm not alone on this one.
Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving to all. May your indigestion be short and your dessert leftovers last you into next week.
Some news and notes
- The 2009 United Cardinal Blogger awards are official. No real surprises in there, and no arguments here with the winners. Congratulations to all.
- Even with the excitement of Wednesday, I was able to dial into the UCB Radio Hour and spend 23 min or so with Dan. We had a lively discussion about all the end of the year awards, especially the NL Cy Young and evaluating pitchers. There may be some additional discussion on the recording - things got a little heated in my house, oh the joys of potty-training children - so don't be surprised. I haven't listened to it yet, so I don't know what to expect.
- The 2010 Hall of Fame ballot was announced today. In addition to the expected returnees to the ballot (Blyleven, Dawson, McGwire), there are 15 new candidates, including former Cardinals Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Todd Zeile, and Ray Lankford. Most of these guys made their names with other teams - Galarraga with Montreal and Colorado, Hentgen with Toronto, Zeile by bouncing around the league for 10 years after leaving St Louis.
Ray Lankford was different. He was a Cardinal for virtually all of his career, except for a couple of years in San Diego (you may remember that lopsided trade - Lankford for Woody Williams in 2001). From the day Whitey Herzog resigned to the day Tony LaRussa was hired, the Cardinals were a mediocre team at best. Over parts of 5 and a half seasons they were 406-419-1, and never finished within 10 games of first. Ray Lankford was one of the few bright spots on those teams.
Ray took over in CF from Willie McGee following the 1990 season. He finished third in the 1991 ROY voting (behind Jeff Bagwell and Orlando Merced), and he led the majors in triples with 15. The following year he finished ninth in the NL in OPS+, and led the league in caught stealings and strikeouts (not really something to brag about, but still). From 1993-1996 he put up solid numbers while patrolling center. His only other really good year was 1997, when he was voted to the All-Star game, and posted the highest OPS+ of his career (159), good enough for 5th in the league. He was pushed to LF from CF by the arrival of JD Drew before the 1999 season. He fought the injury bug starting in 1999. He missed most of July and all of August in 2002, and didn't play in 2003; he tried a comeback in 2004, and made the team out of spring training, but he didn't play in the post season that year and retired following the season.
He posted a career .366 wOBA. It's too bad UZR and Dewan's plus/mnus don't go back past 2002, because we can't quantify how good a fielder he was. In 2002 he had a UZR of 6.2 for the Padres, but that was in 3 games so doesn't mean much. His UZR in LF was -26.1 in 59 games.
Also for what its worth, here's where Ray Lankford ranks on the 'All-Time Busch Stadium II Leaders' list:
Games Played - 4th (790)
At Bats - 5th (2705)
Hits - 5th (776)
Runs - 3rd (461)
Doubles - 1st (181)
Triples - 6th (30)
HR - 1st (122)
RBI - 2nd (458)
Stolen Bases - 5th (117)
Ray to the Hall? Not likely. Baseball Reference's Similarity Scores compare him to the following players: Kirk Gibson, Raul Mondesi, Torii Hunter, Bill Nicholson, Cliff Floyd, Mike Cameron, Larry Doby, Eric Davis, Reggie Sanders, and Rick Monday. Only Larry Doby is in the Hall. Torii Hunter, Mike Cameron, and Cliff Floyd are still active, but probably won't get a serious look; the rest of this list are no longer eligible to be voted in and can only become a Hall of Famer if the Veteran's Committee selects them. Probably Kirk Gibson has the best shot of that lot.
But it's nice to see his name on the ballot. It brought back some pleasant memories.
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