Talking Baseball

Your weekday baseball fix. Some days.

Posted by Dave on Friday, January 09, 2004

A Tribute to Captain Underrated

Alright future magistrates of baseball, which two players finished in the top 10 of all triple crown categories in the American League in 2003? Go ahead, I dare you to guess. The almighty, finally Most Valuable ARod? Nope - his average was only better than, well, average. How about Carlos Delgado? He of the AL-leading 32 Win Shares (along with One Pole)? Nuh-uh - too much power, not enough line-driving (his average fell short). The vaunted Red Sox clean-up hitter, Manuel Ramirez? Well, because Johnny Damon, Todd Walker, and Nomar Garciaparra seemingly had the only sub-400 OBPs on the Red Sox, Manny didn't drive in enough fellows.

So, who are the perpetrators?

You may have guessed Vernon Wells. He plays a fantastic center-field, and does it all at the plate in a pretty stacked lineup (Next post, JP will get a proper ceremony). But who's the other?

Not Magglio, Not Beltran, but...Aubrey Huff? Yep. That's right. Read it and weep. The only reason I know this obscure fact about an increasingly obscure award (Let's be honest, does anyone still believe the truly elite hitters should win the Triple Crown, as it stands today? The sabermetric revolution is amidst us - the Triple Crown winner needs the AVG, OBP, and SLG crowns. Bonds has won a few of those recently, I believe), is because ESPN.com led the signing report with: Aubrey Huff was rewarded Thursday for being one of two AL players to finish among the top 10 in all three triple crown categories when he agreed to a $14.5 million, three-year contract to remain with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I couldn't believe my eyes. Aubrey Huff. He's got a woman's name for crying out loud (or, at least, it sounds effeminate).

So what? He's underrated. Big deal. Well, it is a big deal. Tampa Bay got a guy entering the prime of his career (he's only 27 years old) to commit to another three years. "He has to play with them anyways!" You say. That may be true, but, Tampa Bay will have him for 3 of his best years and will not be paying him salary arbitration (a far more expensive endeavor). What's better is that his salary balloons each successive year he's with the team. This means that although he still won't be receiving the kind of money he should be getting (in all likelihood - it's hard to see bad things in fair Aubrey's future), it'll feel like more to him. So, one could argue, he won't be experiencing much cognitive dissonance because as he progresses as a hitter and as a player, he'll be receiving more money. This will make him content and, dare I say, encourage him to re-sign with the lowly Devil Rays? Brazelton may have become an ace in three years, and Lou might have them playing truly good ball by then (with the Arms Race between the Sox and Yanks, they might even have a chance to contend).

Okay, I'm being optomistic to the point of nausea. Realistically, Aubrey won't sign with them, but, man, they're potentially getting a really top-notch player very cheaply.

That's it. I'd tell you all about the bet I made one year regarding Jeff Cirillo's batting average (I thought he'd post better than .285 in Safeco his first year (what was I thinking?!)) and how I truly came to appreciate how much he sucks in the years following said idiotic wager - but - I'll spare you. Suffice it to say that I cannot be grouped with Kevin Towers in the exponentially decaying "Jeff Cirillo is a Good Player" club.

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