Monthly Archives: February 2011

Mr. Know-It-All examines best seasons produced by Mariners

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Mr. Know-It-All fancies himself as somewhat of an expert on baseball. He’s Kitsap’s baseball version of Punxsutawney Phil. He comes out of hiding every year about this time of year and he starts spewing statistics and opinions that would make Bill James and other sabermetric seamheads blush.

So here’s his latest post. Today he examines the best seasons in Mariners’ history by catchers, first basemen and second basemen.

We’re gonna break this up over a few days so you can digest all of the info. Hope you enjoy it. And, remember, if you’ve an opinion, chime in. Mr. K-I-A would love to hear from you.

Mariners’ Best Seasons, by Position

Thirty four consecutive years of major league baseball in Seattle — from  1977 through 2010.  It is impolitic to mention 1969.  Bud Selig’s thieving roots are naked to the eye and geezer anger once invoked is rarely put cleanly back in the box.  What has it all meant?  The run of baseball players from 1977 that have come first to the Kingdome and now Safeco field encompasses the yin and yang of professional baseball.  Labor strikes and union busting to the sublime performances right here in town. Roof caving in to the best park in baseball and homage to the dead ball era.
It is easy to recount all the records that have been broken by players in the American League during that period.  For blogs sake let us focus a little bit and say what have been the best seasons by a Mariner in the last 34 years.  A lot of those have happened since 1995, but not all of them.  It might be interesting to describe the best seasons by position, for example who had the best five offensive seasons of a catcher in Mariner’s history.  Then first base and all the way around to designated hitter. Then finally who had the top 25 seasons, period.
The criteria used was OPS, which is the sine qua non amongst overall offensive statistics. Simply it sums onbase percentage and slugging percentage and is accepted by the cognoscenti amongst baseball analysts and readers can track online with the upcoming season.
The last point before jumping into this is to observe that the Mariners have been bad much more often than not, but they HAVE had some players, even in the darkest of times, well maybe except for last year, but let us not spoil this, it is fun.

So here we go. Here’s the best season by catchers and first basemen in M’s history.

CATCHER
The top five seasons for Mariner catchers see three names:  Dan Wilson for 1996 and 1997 with OPS of .773 and .745 and Kenji Johjima for 2006 and 2007 with .768 and .741. Remarkably similar grouping. Lastly Dave Valle shows up for his1987 season with a .724.  None of these are spectacular years, although Wilson had 83 and 74 RBIs in his two years and Joh had 77 and 61.  Valle 51. Valle and Wilson were the number one receivers for many years each without either hitting much at all. Their value in the eye of the guy writing out the lineup was in receiving and throwing. Joh’s demise was as his hitting fell off, the defensive aspects of his game came under intense criticism from his teammates on the pitching staff.
During this time period the Mariners traded away the fellow who might still be on their roster now, Jason Varitek and received a very bad reliever named Heathcliff Slocumb. Oh, they also gave up Derek Lowe an above average starting pitcher. Good catchers are very, very hard to find and or spot as high school players. The M’s drafted Jeff Clement first several years back passing on a plethora of all stars to get him.  The promise was a player that could throw and hit lots of homeruns.  From the waist down he was not very athletic which impaired his receiving and throwing and pitchers have been able to get him to fish at offspeed stuff and beat him with average fastballs. He is now a first baseman with the Pirates.  I could do the blah, blah on Rob Johnson and Adam Moore, but Johnson is with San Diego and Moore is buried behind Miguel Olivo, who in his last dance through town was not good, hitting .151.  He did do well last year.

FIRST BASEMAN

95    Tino    Martinez    1b    0.919
89    Alvin    Davis    1b    0.918
2005    Richie     Sexson    1b    0.906
2002    John    Olerude    1b    0.896
87    Alvin    Davis    1b    0.888
84    Alvin    Davis    1b    0.886
79    Bruce     Bochte    1b    0.882
88    Alvin    Davis    1b    0.874
96    Paul    Sorrento    1b    0.873
2001    John    Olerude    1b    0.873
2009    Russell    Branyan    1b    0.859
97    Paul    Sorrento    1b    0.857
2006    Richie     Sexson    1b    0.840
2000    John    Olerude    1b    0.833
85    Alvin    Davis    1b    0.824
90    Alvin    Davis    1b    0.818

Yes sir, lookee there!  Now there are some hitters!  Did you forget how darn good Alvin Davis was?  Six of the top 16 years!  Why 16, well there were 16 seasons above .800 OPS.  On bag at or above .400 and slug at or above .500.  He played well for a long time, then it was gone, seemingly before it should have been. You get a measure how hard it is to play day in and day out for six months. Players take better care now, but Alvin wrung everything out of his gift. Great players.
The Best year was Tino Martinez’s 1995 season, where he put it all together on a salary drive which coincided with that great year. Even when they had a break through, the ownership had no interest in building a team for the future as time would prove out. He went on to have five great years with the Yankees and five good ones. In 2005 Richie Sexson had a great year, his first year with the team.
Then there is Bruce Bochte who had the best year in a 12-year career.  Who can forget his single in the All Star game played that year in Seattle — a hard bounder over the shortstop’s head. The Kingdome was rocking, I can tell you. One week later playing in front of a crowd of 8,000 my seven year old niece sitting with us in left field would jump up and scream “Hit it out here Bochte!” Which the whole group of people in the stadium heard.
The year before last Russell Branyan had a very good year, not so much last year, but not bad.  We’re betting the ranch on Smoak, who looks the part, and had a great September. Light it up Smoaky!

SECOND BASEMEN
2001    Brett    Boone    2b    0.949
2003    Brett    Boone    2b    0.899
86    Danny    Tartabull    2b    0.837
97    Joey    Cora    2b    0.800
2002    Brett    Boone    2b    0.798

Five seasons, three Brett Boones, a Joey Cora and a Danny Tartabull. Brett Boone had a season in 2001 that was so much better than anybody else in baseball and his own teammate beat him out for MVP, Ichiro.  He had a monster year, just monster. Thirty seven doubles, thirty seven home runs, 141 RBIs, 118 runs scored, on bag of .378 and slug of .578.  Nobody was remotely close to that, plus he was at that point a very good second baseman.  Nobody missed A-Rod, at least not yet. One more semi-great year in 2003 and a good year in 2002.  Joey Cora was the little engine that could. 1997 was his reach for glory, it was a year unlike any of his previous years:  40 doubles, 4 triples and 11 home runs, he hit .300 and had a .359 on-bag, scored 105 runs.
Who was Danny Tartabull? Here is his career line:  .273 avg, .368 on-bag, .496 slug.  Fourteen seasons in the majors.  His rookie year with the Mariners his line was .270, .347, .489 and an OPS of .839.  He played 23 games to start the season at second base and made 10 errors.  He did show a phenomenal range factor through those games, but new manager Dick Williams, he of the A’s World Series wins, said off to the outfield where the M’s were chockfull of outfielders. Harold Reynolds took over for him and hit .222 his first full year in the bigs.  Dick might have been right, Danny never again played 2b.
How about Harold, how close did he get to this list?  His best four years were from 1988 through 1991. His best OPS was in 1989 with a .728 and 1988 was his second best at .723.  Of note for Harold he did score 87, 100 and 95 runs in the years 1989, 1990 and 1991. Of further note, none of those three years was he a big base stealer. He led the AL with 60 stolen bases in 1987. Interest, if flawed career.  Did not walk much and in his two best years he was caught stealing nearly as much as he stole. I would suggest that as a middle infielder playing on concrete and trying to steal a lot might have taken a toll on him.

Next: Shortstops and third basemen. Hint. A-Rod and Edgar dominate these positions.

All about the Golf Show, and U.S. Junior Amateur

Free golf, putting contests, simulated golf, vintage golf clubs, the latest in high-tech golf equipment, clearance on shoes, hats, sunglasses and other gear. Magazines, books, silent auction for rounds of golf at private clubs throughout the Puget Sound region. Lessons.

The Seattle Golf Show, which started its three-day run at the Qwest Field Events Center on Friday, has a little bit of everything.  You could spend hours if you wanted. When I walked in, there were rows of people lined up 9 and 10 deep to sign up for a free round of golf. Port Ludlow Resort was of four courses offering free rounds.
You could also throw your name in a hat to win a year of free golf at White Horse Golf Club in Kingston.
Speaking of White Horse, director of golf Bruce Christy said the course will start work on removing 62 bunkers and over 150 trees in March.
Gold Mountain director of golf Scott Alexander updated the Northwest Golf Media Association about plans for the July 18-23 U.S. Junior Amateur that will be played on the Olympic Course.
Most of the news has already been reported in your favorite daily newspaper that publishes in downtown Bremerton, but here’s a recap of what Alexander talked about:
Johnny Miller, the television analyst and former U.S. Junior and U.S. Open champ, will be the featured speaker at the players’ dinner that will be held, hopefully, on the deck of an aircraft carrier that’s docked at the shipyard. Of course, that won’t be confirmed, or can’t be confirmed, until we get closer to the date. Alexander painted a picture of the players walking through a gauntlet of U.S. Mariners, serenaded by a U.S. Navy band. That would be pretty cool if they can pull it off.
Bill Tindall, a legendary golfer and pro from Seattle, will be the honorary chairman of the tournament. Tindall’s a past U.S. Junior Amateur champion.
As it did for the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship in 2006, Gold Mountain plans to go overboard on hospitality. Tournament volunteers will pick up players and their families at Sea-Tac and deliver them to one of the host hotels or to a host family. Alexander said as many 50 players could be housed in waterfront homes in the Kitsap area during the tournament.
Alexander, Frank Horton, Shari Jacobson and Daryl Matheny are once again doing the heavy lifting in terms of getting Gold Mountain’s act together. Horton’s the touranment chairman, Jacobson organizes volunteers and Matheny, the affable head pro, chips in and does a little bit of everything.
Alexander saud the goal is to raise as much as $250,000 and have 300-400 volunteers to help make the tournament a special experience for the world’s finest junior golfers.  Those players must be 17 or younger.
The past two tournament champions, Jim Lui of Smithtown, N.Y, and Jordan Spieth of Texas, are expected to pay. Lui, at 14 years, 11 months, became the youngest winner in tournament history a year ago. Tiger Woods, who won the tournament three years in a row, was 15 when he won his first one. Spieth tied for 16th in the PGA Tour’s Colonial Open last year, and was tied for seventh heading into the final round.
Gold Mountain’s also hosting the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifier on June 6, the U.S. APL qualifier on June 7 and the U.S. Junior Amateur Media day on June 8. Shari Jacobson, who organizes the volunteers, is looking forward to Media Day. That’s the day Charles Starkley will break out his ugly golf swing. It really has to be seen to be appreciated, and Shari’s one of the few who gets a kick out of it.
Jacobson, by the way, has parlayed her amazing ability to put work with volunteers, into a pretty cool gig. She organized volunteers for the U.S. Amateur at Chambers Bay a year ago, and was asked by the good people of Erin Hills, Wis., to help with the 2011 U.S. Amateur in at Erin Hills Golf Course. Jacobson will serve as a consulant for that event, choosing to stay home and help make the U.S. Junior at Gold Mountain a first-class event.

Stats, numbers, thoughts and analysis

I BET you didn’t know golfer Troy Kelly is 550th on the career PGA Tour money list. I bet you didn’t know the former Kitsap Golf & Country Club member made 98.2 percent of his putts from 5 feet or closer during the Phoenix Open. Here’s a complete — and I mean complete — breakdown of Kelly’s statistics.

JOE POSNANSKI took an interesting look at NFL quarterbacks and Aaron Rodgers in particular. Why do some top picks succeed, and others fail miserably. Read Joe’s view right here.

JASON HAMMEL, the former South Kitsap pitcher, was 10-8 with a career-best ERA of 4.33 a year ago for the Colorado Rockies. But it was some other numbers that were cause for concern. His cholesterol numbers weren’t good and with a history of heart disease, Hammel wound up taking some medicine to control it. His reaction to the drug might have been part of the reason for a late-season decline in effectiveness. Read the MLB.com story here.

WHAT’S UP with Gonzaga’s Elias Harris? Maybe he’s not recovered from the Achilles injury that slowed him early on. Whatever it is, he’s not the same explosive player he was a year ago and it’s a big reason why the Zags aren’t the team everybody thought they might be. Harris almost looked NBA ready a year ago. The statistics don’t lie. Go ahead, compare his numbers here.

THE CLEVELAND CADAVERS extended the NBA’s longest losing streak to 25 games on Monday night. Are the Cavs one of the worst teams in professional sports history? Here’s a list of some bad, bad ball clubs, including the 1976 Tampa Bucs, 1899 Cleveland Spiders, 2003 Detroit Tigers, 1992-93 Ottawa Senators and 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers. Check out their won-loss records.

WASHINGTON’S men’s basketball team is 5-4 since losing guard Abdul Gaddy to a season-ending knee injury. The sophomore guard was more valuable to that team that people thought. Now Isaiah Thomas, one of 10 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award — which goes to the top college guard in the country — has to distribute the ball and score. Gaddy — not a prolific scorer (8.5 points per game) or statistically a great distributor (3.5 assists per game) — was good enough to take some heat off of Thomas. The replacements — Terrance Ross, C.J. Wilcox and Scott Suggs — are nice players, but not nearly as complete.

Bryan Hinkle’s gotta be liking this

Who’s smiling now?

Bryan Hinkle. The former Central Kitsap star from the late 1970s has got to be smiling. His Oregon Ducks played for a national championship and the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was an outside linebacker for 12 seasons, are back in the Super Bowl. Hinkle, 51, lives outside of Pittsburgh.

Silverdale’s Norm Johnson. Now I don’t know this for sure, but I gotta believe Norm’s pulling for the Steeler. Johnson kicked in the NFL for 18 years. He played in Super Bowl XXX during his stint (1995-95) with the Steelers. Johnson booted a 46-yard field goal in a 27-17 loss to Dallas. In the run-up to the Super Bowl, Johnson made four FGs in a division win over Buffalo and two more over the Colts in the AFC title game.

Mark Few and the Zags. After falling behind 17-4 four minutes into the game against Portland, Gonzaga dug down to get back in it and eventually won, snapping a three-game West Coast Conference losing streak. And if you’re a Gonzaga fan, you’ve got to like it that red-shirt freshman guard David Stockton is starting to get more court time. The son of you know who pitched in 12 points and six assists against Portland.

The Kelly clan. The 19th Hole Sports Bar and Grill opened today (Friday) in Chico. Bob Kelly’s the owner, son Ryan Kelly’s the manager, step-son Andy is the chef and son Troy Kelly was sitting in 21st place after the first round of the frost-delayed Phoenix Open. The second round is also delayed. Kelly’s scheduled to tee off at 3:30 p.m.

Kitsap wrestling fans.
Jake Velarde, Cody Yeik, Bobby Reece III, Kiana Witt, Lauren  Richardson, and Connor Hartmann are all potential state champions. Mat Classic on Feb. 18-19 will indeed be a classic if everything falls right for our area matmen.

The Washington Husky basketball team. The King County Prosecutor’s Office  decided not to press felony charges against the player accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl last month. That’s got to be a sigh of relief for a program coming off back-to-back Pac-10 losses. The season can be a roller-coaster ride and the Huskies are on a bit of a downswing right now. But they’re simply too talented not to snap out of it. Look for the Dawgs to bounce back strong.

Steve Sarkisian and the Huskies. The 37-year–old Washington football coach has the program back on track. A strong finish, capped by a Holiday Bowl victory and what appears to be a pretty strong recruiting class (we’ll know more in a couple years) gives Husky fans reason to believe that Washington’s not that far away from challenging for a Pac-10 championship.

Somewhere the late Chiefs executive Lamar Hunt is smiling.
Hunt is the dude who came up with the name “Super Bowl” for the NFL’s championship game. Wonder if Hunt or former NFL commish Pete Rozelle ever thought a 30-second commercial during the game would go for $3 million?

Me. I’m lounging in Tahoe. It’s unseasonably warm. My toughest chore is trying to figure out whether I should take Steelers and the 2.5 points or go with the Packers.

Have a super weekend. See ya next week.

The Sports Paper Weekly coming to your doorstep and mailbox

You might have noticed a couple of the promo advertisements in the printed version of our paper, and starting Thursday everybody who subscribes to The Sun will receive a complimentary copy of The Sports Paper Weekly.

Terry Mosher arrived in town to work for the Bremerton Sun about the time I was a senior at West High. Yeah, centuries ago. He’s the contributing editor of The Sports Paper Weekly. He published The Sports Paper, a monthly, for years. It’s a labor of love that a lot of people in the community looked forward to reading.

Now you can read it four times a month. Mosh will be cranking out stories like only Mosh can. He’s a workhorse, truly one of a kind. He loves to tell stories and write about the young and old in our community.

Best part about it for me is that he’s still going to write for the daily paper as well. Look for his weekly column on Wednesday’s. This week, he writes about Rich Smith, the former Olympic High basketball player who is finishing up a solid college career at George Fox. But basketball’s not the focus. It’s his education. Smith’s mom made sure he was going to get a degree and he doesn’t want to disappoint his mom.

As for the inaugural issue The Sports Paper Weekly, you read about a father and daughter’s love of the Pacific Northwest wildness. You’ll want to check out the piece on Ken and Kelsie Donleycutt.

Mosh also writes a column and has stories on Kingston wrestlers Bobby Reece III and Freddy Rodolf III, and basketball players Jackie Steiger from South Kitsap, Breyanne Mosey of Crosspoint Academy and Steffan Collins of Central Kitsap.

You’ll also find stories on Bremerton’s top speed skaters and Olympic College’s Coltin Johnson.

Mosh is bringing regular columnists Earl Sande, who writes about the outdoors; Mark Knowles, who writes about golf, and Harland Berry, who offers his spin on the state of the sporting world and current news regarding our local sports teams and heroes.

This week, you can even find a feature on 70-year-old Roosevelt Hagins, who bowled his first 300 game in December.

Look for more features about our community athletes and teams down the road. This is gonna be a weekly trip.

For four weeks, it’s free.

After that, it’ll cost you $1.50 a week.

Hey, we gotta pay the guy. You can’t expect him to do it for free. But if anyone would, it’s Terry Mosher. I hope you like The Sports Paper Weekly.

Let me know what you think. Better yet, let Mosh know. If you’ve got a story idea, pass it on. You can reach me at cstark@kitsapsun.com. You can reach Terry at bigmosher@msn.com.

Kelly qualifies for the Phoenix Open

Troy Kelly,the Central Kitsap grad and former University of Washington golfer, survived a sudden-death playoff earlier today to secure one of three spots in the Waste Management Phoenix Open Qualifier. He and five others shot 5-under 67 on Monday. They returned to McCormick Ranch  Golf Club for the playoff today. Kelly made an 11-foot birdie putt on the first hole.

The PGA Tour event starts Thursday and is being held at the TPC Scottsdale. Click here for information about the tournament, which is famous for its rowdy 16th hole, and all of the TV information.

It will be Kelly’s first PGA Tour event since his rookie season in 2009. He made 3 of 17 cuts and didn’t retain his card. Kelly had hip replacement surgery in September and said he’s feeling the best he has in a couple of years.

Martin Flores and Frank Lickliter II earned the other spots into the tournament.