May 23, 2013
And here's the full roster.
Now availableHardball Times Baseball Annual 2013, with 300 pages of great content. It's also available on Amazon and Kindle. Read more about it here.
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Saturday, December 08, 2012
As we pulled together this year's Hardball Times Annual, I left something out on purpose. In every previous Annual, we had included league graphs, the ones I created on Baseball Graphs for all previous years. We had decided to pull back on the book's stats and graphs, so they were left on the drawing room floor in 2012.
But I've always posted them on the Hardball Times site—I used to update them once a week—and I should have at least posted them here. Now, over two months later, I'm rectifying that mistake.
Today, we've got three basic team graphs for the American League, illustrating the season that was. I know this is old news, but it's good to look back now and then, right? Tomorrow, I'll post the National.
First, each team's relative standing in runs scored and allowed.
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Twenty years ago today, one of the biggest and best—probably the best—free agent signings of all-time occurred. The Giants inked a deal with left fielder Barry Bonds, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yeah, that was a pretty good deal.
In the 1992-93 offseason, Bonds was as big a free agent as there could be. He’d just won the MVP Award in 1992, his second such trophy in the past three seasons. In between, he’d been runner-up in the 1991 NL MVP voting.
From 1990 through 1992, he was among the league leaders in virtually every offensive category: first in slugging percentage (.566), first in OPS (999), second in on-base percentage (.424), second in runs (308), second in walks (327), third in RBIs (333), tied for fifth in home runs (92), and seventh in stolen bases (134). Oh, and he did it while hitting .301. It’s everything you could want in a player, so it’s not surprising that WAR considers him the best in all the land in those years: 26.0 WAR easily topping runner-up Cal Ripken Jr.
Oh, and Bonds would be just 28 in the upcoming 1993 season, so he still was near the outset of his prime.
The Giants were the team his father, Bobby Bonds, had played and starred for. More importantly, the Giants were the team that opened up its checkbook the widest. They gave Bonds a six-year deal for $43.75 million, a then-record amount, and Bonds was worth every penny and then some.
For starters, Bonds won the NL MVP in 1993, his third in four seasons. It was his best season to date, with 46 home runs, 123 RBIs (both totals led the league) and a .336 batting average, which was fourth in the league. Oh, and he still drew 129 walks and stole 29 bases. And of course, Bonds remained an elite level player for quite some time to come.
In the six years of his contract, Bonds remained the best player in baseball, with 48.3 WAR. Only Griffey was even close, at 43.0 WAR. Jeff Bagwell was third, way back at 38.7 WAR.
From 1993 to 1998, Bonds was first in OBP (.445), first in walks (746), first in runs (692), second in OPS (1062), third in slugging (.617), fifth in homers (235), eighth in RBIs (660), and ninth in stolen bases (194).
Bonds' performance helped spark an impressive turnaround for the Giants franchise. They’d experienced back-to-back losing seasons in 1991-92, but behind their superstar went 103-59, just missing the playoffs in the last postseason race without a Wild Card. Obviously, Bonds wasn’t the sole reason for that massive turnaround, but he was the most important one.
The Giants' improvement wasn't just on the field, either. Over 2,600,000 fans saw the team play that year, which was not only a franchise record, but it smashed the old mark by a half million. The year before, the Giants had finished next-to-last in the NL in attendance, and there had been talk of the team moving. In fact, they very nearly did move to Tampa Bay before a last-minute group swooped in to buy the club, ensuring it stayed put.
In that same season, the Bay Area rival Oakland A’s cratered on the field and in attendance. The A’s fell from 94 wins in 1992 to 96 losses in 1993, ending their Tony LaRussa-era dynasty. In 1993, the Giants topped the A’s in attendance for the first time since 1987, and since 1993 the A’s have never topped the Giants' attendance total. Though San Francisco didn’t draw as many fans in the mid-to-late 1990s as it did in 1993, San Fran remained safely ahead of Oakland. No one’s talked about moving since then.
Yeah, that was a pretty nice free agent move the Giants made, and they made it 20 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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