ATP Near and Far: First Base

by battlingbucs | Jan 29, 2015 - 11:59 AM
ATP Near and Far is a 10 part series dedicated to assembling two teams of All Time Pirates greats based upon their place of birth. The "near" team will consist of players born exclusively in the state of Pennsylvania and the "far" team will consist of players born outside of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. Each roster will consist of 25 players the particulars of how the rosters will be assembled can be found in the introduction post here.

All Time Pirates Near and Far: First Basemen

International: In the last segment the Pennsylvania team went first so this time around I am going to let that honor fall to the international team. The pool of eligible players for the first base position is a limited one consisting of only 12 players. There are another 18 players to have played at least one career game at the position and one of them actually has the 5th most career games at the position of all players eligible for the international roster but he falls short of the 20% threshold.

Fifteen of those 18 players are Manny Sanguillen, Vic Davalillo, Frank Colman, Bill Kuehne, Jose Hernandez, Andre Rodgers, Freddy Garcia, Tony Pena, Pedro Alvarez, Jose Pagan, Jocko Fields, Matty Alou, George Gibson, Jimmy Archer and Alex Ramirez. Sanguillen with 50 games at the position is the one in 5th in terms of games played. One name there may stand out and raise some questions, Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez attended high school in New York but was born in the Dominican Republic making him eligible for the international team.

The above 15 players have been or will be covered so I am going to leave them be. However I failed to name 3 players above and that is because they are a special case and will get a brief mention here. These three players like a handful of others actually do not qualify for any position due to having been used primarily as a pinch hitter during their tenure. The three guys are Ivan Cruz, Dave Roberts and Willie Montanez. The Puerto Rican born Cruz played in 13 games with the Pirates during the 1999-2000 seasons but only appeared in the field 3 times, twice at 1B and once in the OF. In all he had 21 PA, registering 5 hits and striking out 10 times. Cruz had some time with the Yankees in 1997 prior to joining the Pirates and went on to play... [Read More]
    2 Replies | 2,802 Views

March 4, 1991

by Jkos11 | Jan 26, 2015 - 9:12 PM
Who was your favorite hockey player growing up? If you grew up in the 1980’s it was probably Mario Lemieux or Paul Coffey, maybe Kevin Stevens or Randy Cunnyworth. If you grew up in the 1990’s maybe your childhood intersected with Jaromir Jagr, Darius Kaspariatis, and Alexi Kovalev. The newest generation of fans has Sid, Geno, Fluery, and Letang. As we age we always look back fondly at those times from our childhoods and reminisce on our heroes seeming larger than life; but if those memories are quantified, we realize that the memories are a lot fonder than the actualities.

I grew up with the Penguins having Robbie Brown being fed easy goals from an in his prime Mario Lemieux, a force of nature that hasn’t, nor will ever likely be replicated again. (This is the same Rob Brown that current Flyers General Manager Ron Hextall brandished his stick at, while wielding it like a medieval spear, once a Flyer always a Flyer.) Mario also took career journeyman Warren Young from thirteenth forward to a million dollar payday as an eighteen year old,and made Dan Frawley and Rod Buskas more than marginal NHL talents. Every game wasn’t a Penguins victory, and every goal wasn’t a highlight reel tally. There wasn’t as much clutching and grabbing, nor dumping and chasing, but every defenseman didn’t gain the zone like the doctor Paul Coffey either. Looking back that’s only how I remembered it, through rose colored glasses albeit. Through the years Mario was magnificent, Jagr controlled the pucks through the muck and grind of the trap, Alexi Kovalev could stick handle through a phone booth, and Geno was score, but there also are players that we enjoyed for other reasons as kids and through the years.

Dan Quinn, Rob Brown, Tony Tanti, Rick Tocchet, Tomas Sandstrom, Luc Robataille, Alexei Morozov, Marian Hossa, and Jerome Iginla; these are some players that jump out to me and I am sure that each fan has his or her own players that they remember from through the years.

Someone who most Penguins fans born before 1985 will surly remember is Zarley Zalapski. Who didn’t love Zarley Zalapski, with a name like that what nine year old Penguin fan in 1990 wouldn’t have wanted a number 33 Penguins jersey. However, only diehard Penguin fans remember much about Zalapski’s career other than his name and number. Zalapski actually had a pretty forgettable career after his fourth overall selection in the 1986 NHL entry draft and All Rookie team... [Read More]
    9 Replies | 2,425 Views

ATP Near and Far: Catchers

by battlingbucs | Jan 26, 2015 - 3:50 PM
ATP Near and Far is a 10 part series dedicated to assembling two teams of All Time Pirates greats based upon their place of birth. The "near" team will consist of players born exclusively in the state of Pennsylvania and the "far" team will consist of players born outside of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. Each roster will consist of 25 players the particulars of how the rosters will be assembled can be found in the introduction post here.

All Time Pirates Near and Far: Catchers

Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania available pool of players contains 18 players eligible for the position under my 20% rule and another 6 players who played at least one game at the position during their Pirates career. Those 6 players not eligible for the position are Gene Tenace, Chuck Lauer, John Wehner, Frank Shugart, Chappy Lane and Ken Macha. These players will all be covered later at the positions they are eligible for so I won't delve into any details here but I wanted their names out there for full disclosure.

Overall the group of 18 catchers from Pennsylvania isn't an impressive one. During my construction of the team I made use of fWAR as a guiding tool and while I recognize the difficulties with this measure I feel it is an acceptable starting point as long as I don't leave it at that. Anyway of the 18 catchers eligible only 3 produced greater than a 0.5 fWAR in their time with the Pirates. This indicates that their stays were either extremely brief and/or rather forgettable. Still the ground rules of this exercise state we must select at least two catchers from this group so let's start parsing through them.

Coming in with 1 career game for the Pirates and 1 career PA is the trio of John Sullivan, Pat Kilhullen and Bill Warwick. With only 1 PA apiece there isn't much to parse here but we will nonetheless take a look. John Sullivan made his appearance for the Pirates in 1908; his only other major league time came three years earlier with Detroit. For Pat Kilhullen his one lone PA with the Pirates in 1914 was the only time he saw the major leagues. Warwick's lone PA in 1921 was his first taste of the majors but he did go on to get a couple of brief call up with St Louis in 1925 and 1926.

Moving up the playing time scale just slightly we find... [Read More]
    6 Replies | 575 Views

ATP Near and Far: Introduction

by battlingbucs | Jan 26, 2015 - 11:40 AM
All Time Pirates Near and Far: The Introduction

The recent signing of Jung Ho Kang got me thinking about the Pirates and their history with international players. Specifically I was trying to think of how well Kang would have to perform to move into the upper echelon of this group. One thing led to another and I found myself wondering what kind of All Time team could I construct using just Pirates players who were born outside of the United States. I then decided to really get a feel of how this team stacked up I needed a measuring stick (aka another team) so I went about trying to find a subset that gave me a similar sized player pool and I found out that as the state that has produced the second most players the pool of Pennsylvanian born Pirates is roughly equal to that of international born Pirates.

I can’t say my measure is perfectly accurate as it depended on combining two sets of data and any spelling differences would cause these numbers to be off a bit plus there is also some overlap here as a player who pitched and played the field is included in both lists. Anyway using my method I found 131 foreign born position players and 124 Pennsylvanian born position players. As for pitchers I found 97 born outside the country and 83 born with in the state, so the numbers aren’t exact but they are similar enough for this exercise.

Just as a disclaimer I am including anywhere outside of the 50 states and the District of Columbia as international, this means players born in Puerto Rico are included in the international pool.

The next step was to determine just how I would construct my team. I opted to go with the standard 25 man roster and broke it down into the following: 8 starting position players, a 5 man bench consisting of a catcher, infielder, outfielder and two open utility spots (meaning it can be anyone), a 5 man starting rotation, a pitcher with significant time both starting and relieving (a swingman), a 4 man bullpen consisting of a closer and at least one left handed pitcher and an 11th pitcher than can be anyone. If you add that up that’s only 24 players, the last spot is open to everyone and I am calling it simply the 25th man.

I then had to determine what it would take for someone to be eligible for a position. My guidelines are as followed for position players at least 20% of your career Pirate games played have to be at that position to be... [Read More]
    3 Replies | 393 Views

Hindsight is always 20/20

by Jkos11 | Jan 25, 2015 - 8:12 PM
My first piece here I hope you guys all enjoy and we can inspire some spurred conversation. This is something I worked on a few weeks back for steelcitypucks.

What could have been, oh my, what could have been? Much has been made of the Shero regime’s inability to look past defenseman at the top of the draft and the lack of the obtaining impact offensive talent up front in the draft during the tenure of Ray Shero as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. This has been talked about ad nauseam in the media, on sports talk radio, and in barroom discussion since 2008, always passing on the offensive talent to instead draft and develop defensemen and then use these defensemen as trade chips to bolster the big league club, as well as the top six talent pool coming forward.

The thing that happened was this never came to fruition, the Penguins always used draft capital in order to make trades, they didn’t move the defensemen that were being stock piled. While this has given us the current glut of NHL ready defensemen on the roster and in AHL limbo, look at what the Penguins have lost for basically nothing over the last four years, Ben Lovejoy, Brian Strait, Joe Morrow, Phillip Samuelsson, and Carl Sneep. While these players may not be a murderers’ row of NHL defensemen, at least a few of these guys are more than serviceable and all have at least logged NHL minutes.

The real problem comes from when you look at what could have been. The NHL draft usually has anywhere from a 50-75 percent success rate of where most first round draft picks play in the NHL at some point and most generational talents are identified earlier and drafted accordingly. If we look at what the Penguins have done and throw out any first round picks and look at what could have been its quite disheartening. Please take a minute and imagine a healthy roster that looked like this

David Perron – Sidney Crosby – Jamie Benn
Brandon Saad – Evgeni Malkin – Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz – Brandon Sutter – Wayne Simmonds
Jason Zucker – Jared Nolan – Steve Downie

Kris Letang – Jake Muzzin
Olli Maatta – Christian Ehroff
Robert Bortuzzo – Derrick Pouliot

Marc-Andre Fluery
Thomas Greiss

Before anyone jumps to conclusions and starts complaining about the salary cap take a minute and look at these numbers. We are using the above noted players and their current salary cap,... [Read More]
    9 Replies | 487 Views

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