While the Red Sox march towards 100 wins and an AL East crown, there are several milestones ahead of us now that Slamming Sammy Sosa notched his 600th homer on Wednesday. Sosa has had his share of problems: he was caught using a corked bat (but only one; the rest were clean) and was called to Capitol Hill to testify about steroids. He was lumped in with Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. We know that McGwire and Palmeiro used steroids. Is that true for Sosa? No one quite knows, but the steroid controversy has mostly avoided him.
Here are four major milestones within reach this season with projected date thanks to the mothership and my thoughts on them:
Tom Glavine: 300 wins, joining the 300-win club. Expected to happen August 27 (doubt it, it’ll be earlier). I am rooting hard for the local boy to do good. Tom Glavine has fashioned quite a career for himself as a lefty artist. He only has one Cy Young to his credit, which happened in 1991 when he was 25-years old. For Atlanta, he went 20-11 with a 2.55 ERA in 246.2 IP. In his career, he has a 3.49 ERA and has been nothing short of durable. In 1994 and 1995, he made 25 and 29 starts, respectively. Those were the only times he did not hit at least 32 starts every year since his second year in the bigs (first year: nine starts).
He had to adjust how he pitched as he got older and QUESTEC took hold of the system. He started living more on the outer corner and simply has been one of those pitchers that has been able to adjust to his current skills. Part of me used to hope that Glavine would end his career with the Red Sox … but now that the Red Sox are steeped in pitching and the AL has taken a bludgeon to the NL in recent years, I don’t hope for it. But he’s certainly deserving of 300 wins.
Ken Griffey, Jr.: 584 HR, passing Mark McGwire for seventh all time. Expected to happen June 30th. Griffey is a great player and standup guy who lost a lot of valuable time to injury. If he had remained healthy, there’s no telling how close he would be to Hank Aaron’s home-run record right now. In an attempt to quantify how many homeruns he could have had, I looked at his career numbers. In his last year for Seattle in 1999, he played in 160 games and notched 606 at-bats, a benchmark he would never reach again.
He appeared in 145 games in 2000 with 520 AB, and he’s projected for 547 AB this year, 44 homers in 156 games. In his years in between 2000 and 2007, he posted the following AB totals: 364, 197, 166, 300, 491, and 428. I added up all those at-bats and divided by games played. That gave me 3.51 at-bats per game. Next was to figure out how many games he should have played in. Out of seven years of 162 games a year, he only played in 49 percent of them. In his career, he’s played 75 percent of all games, including 2007. Let’s use this number to quantify how many games he missed. He should have played in 122 games per year, bottom line (in 2005, he surpassed this, playing in 128 games). Taking the difference of every game from 2001 through 2006 not including 2005 gives him 173 games missed.
Next step: Ken Griffey Jr. homers every 14.66 at-bats over the course of his career. We’ve established that he has 3.51 at-bats per game, and missed 173 games. This means he missed out on 607.2 at-bats. Divide that by 14.66, and you get 41.4 additional homeruns, giving Griffey 623 HR. Not to mention that if he had remained fully healthy, he wouldn’t have just played in 122 games … he would have played in at least 150. If that was the case, he would be sitting at 669 homers.
This guy is one of the best players of all-time, and we got to see him play at the same time as Barry Bonds.
Craig Biggio: 3,000 H, joining the 3000-hit club. Expected to happen June 30th. Barry Bonds, who many feel is the AntiChrist, is getting a lot of flak for chasing Hank Aaron’s record while posting a .283/.490/.572 line while Craig Biggio is feted (albeit also while flying under the radar) for his 3,000th hit and posting a line of .233/.273/.387. He has 2,992 hits and is quite simply, dragging Houston down. Houston is 31-41 going into Thursday night’s game, and a big reason has to do with Biggio. He is simply a horrible hitter now, and the Astros keep batting him leadoff!
As Keith Law said in yesterday’s chat: “Seriously, you’re making me want to write an article on how one player’s selfish pursuit of a rather meaningless milestone is helping to sink his team’s playoff hopes. Isn’t that a story? If his initials were B.B., don’t you think this would be a regular rant in sports sections everywhere? What if Biggio was African-American, or Latino? He’s getting a free pass. Just be happy with that.”
This is a very valid question. What if Barry Bonds was hitting .233/.273/.387? He’d be ridiculed all over baseball, not feted. Even Sammy Sosa is getting a little heat for hitting only .242/.297/.458. The slugging percentage and him being seventh in RBI kind of helps matters. Where is the outcry for Craig Biggio?
Look, Biggio was … was … a good hitter. He is not now. He might not even be a fit as a utilityman. And the Astros are being nice and Biggio is being selfish enough that the Astros are just basically conceding 2007. Unacceptable. Shoot me if this ever happens for the Red Sox. This is part of one reason why I’m a little sad the Red Sox will probably never have someone achieve a major milestone in a Red Sox uniform unless it’s a once-in-a-lifetime hitter like Ramirez. The Red Sox do not care about milestones. They care about production. If Biggio came up with the Red Sox, the Red Sox would have said “well … so long” after 2001. Sure, Biggio produced in 2004 and 2005, but in 2002, 2003 and 2006, he wasn’t exactly … good. Look, it would be really, really nice to see Manny hit his 500th homer this year. No doubt.
It will be nicer to see the Red Sox win the World Series.
Too bad the Astros don’t feel the same way about their team.
Barry Bonds: 756 HR, passing Hank Aaron for first all time. Expected to happen August 4th. Did Barry Bonds use steroids? Yeah, he probably did. A lot of evidence points that way. But at the same time, he has yet to be (a) suspended, (b) indicted, or (c) implicated by himself or other people such as Greg Anderson or Victor Conte as using steroids.
However, not only did Barry Bonds do what probably a lot of other major sluggers at the time did, he did it with a basic level playing field. Hell, it looks like everyone shot up with steroids way back then. I’ve even heard Jason Varitek’s name whispered.
As I said in an article in 2004:
Let us also remember that statistics were changed without asterisks. The pitching mound was lowered in 1969 to help batters. No asterisk. Ball and strike amounts were changed. No asterisk. Pitching rotations went from two- to five-man rotations. No asterisk. Turf stadiums came around. No asterisk. A tighter ball arrived. No asterisk.
I’m a Barry Bonds supporter because first of all, it still hasn’t been set in stone that he used steroids. I believe he used steroids, but it still has yet to be set in stone. Second of all… it was a steroid environment. Bonds did what he had to do. Was it smart? Yes, actually, it was. Does it go against moral fiber? For the average joe (us) … yes. But steroids are still being used to this day! Shawne Merriman made the Pro Bowl last year after testing for steroids. Guillermo Mota is about to return to the New York Mets after testing (and admitting guilt) for steroids. Jason Giambi has been allowed to go about in (relative) silence. If he was near Hank Aaron’s record, would people be hating on him as much as Barry Bonds is hated upon?
I say no.
I say go for the record, Barry.