Opening Day 2012
Opening Day was actually last week, in Japan, when Dustin Ackley hit a homer and a double, Ichiro Suzuki had four hits, and the Seattle Mariners, my Seattle Mariners, beat no one's Oakland A's 3-1 in 10 innings.
But Opening Day on U.S. soil is Wednesday night. As per the tradition, my tradition, here are the active leaders in various batting and pitching categories. (I've included all-time rankings in parentheses.)
A lot of ex-Mariners on the list. Too many. It's sad. It's been nearly two decades since we traded Omar Vizquel and he's still playing. It's been more than a decade since Alex Rodriguez left us and he's still playing. It's been nearly six years since we traded a 43-year-old Jamie Moyer to Philadelphia and the dude's still fucking playing. At 49. That's actually a great story.
BTW: What's up with Baseball-Reference.com? Do they wait for a year of inactivity before de-activating a player? Because they have Jamie Moyer inactive, even though he made the Colorado Rockies' starting rotation this spring, and they have Tim Wakefield active, even though he announced his retirement this winter. Get with the program, dudes. Quit automating shit.
OK, here we go...
- Games: Omar Vizquel, Tor: 2,908 (13th)
- At-Bats: Omar Vizquel, Tor: 10,433 (17th)
- Hits: Derek Jeter, NYY: 3,088 (20th)
- Doubles: Ivan Rodriguez, ???: 572 (20th)
Teamless I-Rod hasn't announced his retirement yet so he's still up there. The KC Royals either have or haven't expressed interest in case, depending on your source. But if you want someone with an actual team, the active leader in doubles is ... are you ready? ... Bobby Abreu. Never would've gotten that.
- Triples: Carl Crawford, Bos.: 112 (T-118th)
- Home Runs: Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 629 (6th)
- RBIs: Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 1,893 (11th)
- Runs: Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 1,824 (15th)
With his second home run of the season, A-Rod will pass former teammate Ken Griffey, Jr. and move into fifth place on the all-time list. He's 32 HRs from Willie Mays and fourth. After that, it's trickier.
- Walks: Jim Thome, Phi.: 1,725 (8th)
- Strikeouts: Jim Thome, Phi.: 2,487 (2nd)
Thome is a mere 110 Ks from tying the once invincible Reggie Jackson. A-Rod is second active, and seventh all time, with 1,916 Ks. I warned him.
- Stolen Bases: Juan Pierre, Phi.: 554 (16th)
- Caught Stealing: Juan Pierre, Phi.: 190 (8th)
Phillies ain't getting any younger, are they? Both Thome and Juan Pierre. Surprised they didn't keep Jamie Moyer. Pierre has led the league in caught stealings the last two seasons. Maybe he can learn something from new teammate Chase Utley, who has the best lifetimes stolen-base percentage ever: 89.4%. Pierre's is 74.4% and 176th.
- Batting Average: Albert Pujols, Ana: .328 (33th)
- On-Base Percentage: Todd Helton, Col.: .421 (17th)
- Slugging Percentage: Albert Pujols, Ana: .617 (4th)
- On-Base-Plus Slugging: Albert Pujols, Ana: 1.037 (6th)
Last year, all four of these categories belonged to Pujols'. Then he had an off year. For him. Will be fun to finally see him play in person.
- Offensive WAR: Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 106.8 (15th)
- Defensive WAR: Andruw Jones, NYY: 23.7 (2nd)
- WAR for Position Players: Alex Rodriguez, NYY: 104.6 (20th)
My problem with WAR? There's no standard yet. There's still a war among WARs. BR has theirs, others have theirs. That said, A-Rod added 1.8 to his offensive WAR to surpass Rickey Henderson. Next up, Joe Morgan. Andruw Jones didn't change much. He's second to Brooks Robinson. And does A-Rod's lower PP WAR mean his defensive WAR is negative? That doesn't seem right.
Uncle Albert's signature moment. Now he's coming to the A.L. Bienvenue.
- Games Started: Jamie Moyer, Col.: 626 (16th)
- Innings Pitched: Jamie Moyer, Col.: 4,020 (40th)
- Wins: Jamie Moyer, Col: 267 (36th)
- Losses: Jamie Moyer, Col: 204 (T-42nd)
- Hits Allowed: Jamie Moyer, Col: 4,156 (33rd)
- Homeruns Allowed: Jamie Moyer, Col: 511 (1st)
- Walks: Jamie Moyer, Col: 1,137 (T-65th)
- Strikeouts: Javier Vazquez, Fla.: 2,536 (29th)
It's been all Jamie Moyer so far. That's what happens, kids, when you can play a boy's game at 49.
- Complete Games: Roy Halladay, Phi: 66 (T-644th)
- Shutouts: Roy Halladay, Phi: 20 (T-244th)
- WAR for Pitchers: Roy Halladay, Phi.: 61.8 (40th)
Anyone who doesn't think complete games is the lifetime record least likely to be broken needs to look at the parentheses above. Halladay, the active leader, is 644th on the lifetime list. Every other category, save shutouts and triples, is in the top 100. Put it this way: Jamie Moyer has started fewer games (626) than Cy Young completed (749). In fact, only three pitchers have started as many games as Cy Young finished: Young, of course (815), Nolan Ryan (773) and Don Sutton (756). Right now, it would only take Halladay, the active leader, another 144 years to tie Young. Etc.
- Games: Mariano Rivera, NYY: 1042 (9th)
- Saves: Mariano Rivera, NYY: 603 (1st)
- WHIP (Walks/Hits per Inning Pitched): Mariano Rivera, NYY: 0.998 (2nd)
- ERA (5 yrs. minimum): Mariano Rivera, NYY: 2.214 (13th)
- Adjusted ERA: Mariano Rivera, NYY: 204 (1st)
Is Mo retiring after this season? There's been talk. He's hinted. He's got five World Series rings, the lifetime record for saves, the lifetime record for adjusted ERA, the second-lowest WHIP in baseball history (to Addie Joss). What more could he want? Except... he keeps getting better. His WHIP has dropped every year for the last four years. His ERA has dropped every year for the last four years. He wants to get out on a high note but he's still singing an aria. The question isn't whether Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all time. That's a done deal. The question is how far up do you want to place him, a non-starter, among the greatest pitchers of all time?
Last year to see the likes of which we shall never see again?