Regardless of anyone’s holiday celebrating preferences, there’s one thing certain this time of year: Santa’s “naughty” and “nice” list causes otherwise normal people to do really crazy stuff.
Have you heard of the “Elf on a shelf”? Families move that creepy thing around the house to make sure their children are so spooked out by the random elf watching them that they’re forced into good behavior just to get on Santa’s “nice” list. Will the years of counseling really be worth a few peaceful days in December?
Then there’s the stupid stuff people want others to buy. I recently overheard a woman in a store ask her husband, “Do you think this looks good?” which is fine, I suppose—only she was trying on a $200 jogging suit covered in ruffles that made her look like a praying mantis who hadn’t eaten all year and was covered in fluffy flower petals. She should be on Santa’s “naughty” list just for making her poor husband answer that question.
Everyone has a naughty and nice list these days, but when I was visiting the North Pole, Santa let me see his baseball room, and I can tell you the elves are always watching! Here’s who I found on Santa’s “nice” list and who is on his “naughty” list.
Our readers know the obvious ones: Dallas Braden and company will be on Santa’s nice list for all those perfect games, the San Francisco Giants will be getting plenty of presents for winning the World Series and Johnny Cueto will be on the naughty list for a little bit of kicking—Santa doesn’t like kicking. But you’ll see that the elves do see things that we wouldn’t expect. Maybe it wasn’t mom and dad moving the creepy elf around the house after all.
From the Desk of Santa Claus
1. Arizona Diamondbacks: Striking out 1,520 times not only set a major league record, but is darn impressive. Santa is wondering how this is possible given that Kansas City had the fewest strikeouts with 905.
2. Dave Bush: The most home runs allowed in an inning in the National League was four. On Aug. 11, Dave Bush tied that record. Santa said Mr. Bush can direct all hate mail to manager Ken Macha because Santa thinks Macha might have been able to prevent this naughty list induction by um, taking him out of the game after the third home run?
3. The American League: It lost the All-Star game, lost the World Series and lost Cliff Lee. Santa thinks the National League is finally better than the American League.
4. Ryan Theriot: Santa recently moved him to the naughty list when he was acquired by St. Louis. Getting a guy who ranked ninth in the National League with 459 outs made in 2010 is not the type of Christmas performance St. Louis was expecting.
5. James Shields: The American League for one pitcher allowing the most home runs in a game is six. On Aug. 7, Shields tied that record.
6. Javier Vazquez: On Sept. 23, he tied the major league record for most hit batters in an inning. Santa is still unsure if all three batters hit in that inning attended Derek Jeter’s HBP acting school.
7. Justin Smoak: On June 13, he tied the major league record of five for the most strikeouts in a nine-inning game. And I thought my dog eating the neighbors’ Thanksgiving turkey was a bad day.
8. Seattle Mariners: The Mariners scored only 513 runs in 2010. The Pittsburgh Pirates scored 587 runs. Enough said.
9. Chicago Cubs: When you extend your own record to 102 consecutive seasons without winning the World Series, you don’t even get a lump of coal in your stocking. Santa was wondering if 102 seasons seem like an awfully long time to anyone not living in the North Pole? It’s nothing to him, but he’s older than Egypt.
10. Pittsburgh Pirates: Extending the most consecutive losing seasons record will land you on the “naughty” list every year.
1. Juan Pierre: Leading the major leagues with 68 stolen bases is impressive to Santa, especially when it’s getting much more difficult to fit down the chimney these days.
Jayson Werth: Baseball Reference has Werth ranked fifth in the National League with a 5.2 Offensive WAR. Actually, now that Santa thinks about it, Werth has enough for this year. Instead, Santa will place Alex Rodriguez here. He reached 600 home runs this year and on Aug. 14 hit three home runs in one game. Rodriguez also set the major league record at 14 seasons with 100 or more RBI and an American League record of 14 for the most seasons with 30 or more home runs.
3. Toronto Blue Jays: In the end it didn’t help much, but tying the record for most players (seven) having 20 or more home runs is nice enough, and on Aug. 2 they tied the major league record of six doubles in one inning. That’s worth a bit of eggnog, eh?
4. Franklin Gutierrez: He set a major league record for total chances by a center fielder without an error at 415. Apparently, Santa isn’t as concerned as he should be with fielding biases.
5. Matt Stairs: He set a major league record pinch-hit home runs in a career with 23. He also tied the record for most home runs hit with 11 different clubs; this is nice for the 12 different teams he has played for, which also tied a record this year.
6. San Francisco Giants: Santa really likes LOB percentage for all pitchers. He found that the Giants had a major league-leading 77.0 LOB rate for 2010.
7. Jim Thome: Only Santa knows why there are 12 days of Christmas and not five, or 10, but 12 is a nice number. In fact, it’s the major league record for most career game-ending home runs that Thome tied this year. Santa wonders who had the most career-ending home runs, wait that wasn’t suppose to be here—Mrs. Claus told him not to hide that flask behind his big Santa suit this year. Geez.
8. Derek Jeter: He reached 2,904 career hits. That is the most ever by a shor stop. My, what a good Christmas he is having, the “nice” list and some much needed motivation for 2011!
9. Albert Pujols: He has now set the record at 10 for most consecutive seasons of 30 or more home runs from the start of a career. Santa will put him on the nice list this year, but he’s still unsure if all Pujols wants for Christmas is you, St. Louis.
10. Armando Galarraga: He’s in the obvious choice category. Still, he lands here because Santa wanted us all to remember that his class and grace truly deserve athlete of the year consideration.
References and Resources
To all the math teachers I’ve ever had: You’ll see I’ve actually not computed any math here. The invaluable resources of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs were used in this article, along with the SABR records committee newsletter for December 2010—which come to think of it, is quite possibly one of the best things anyone could receive under the tree this year, assuming you already have The Hardball Times Annual and a subscription to THT forecasts.