Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Look at Innings Played

There's a quote in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous that I really enjoy. Philip Seymour Hoffman offers advice to Patrick Fugit:

It's a great commentary on life, but I think it can also be easily applied to collecting.

Greg Layton: The only true currency in this bankrupt world of meaningless inserts is on-card autographs.

For example:

This is an on-card autograph of the hero of the 2014 American League Wildcard Game that I obtained from twitter pal @Eric_Clarkson. His 12th-inning single makes him almost completely responsible for Ned Yost and Dayton Moore's continued employment. Here's a video of that, just in case you still can't believe it's true.

I'm certain Ned will pay him back in 2015 by having him catch an absurd amount of innings for a second straight year. Assuming all games are nine innings long, Perez's 1248 innings means he was the backstop for nearly 86% of the season.

Thanks to Fangraphs I can easily see where Perez's 2014 season ranks. This is a chart showing innings caught over the last 25 years.

If Jason Kendall is reading this he's probably reading it with his iPad Mini while sitting in a bathtub full of ice.

It will be interesting to see if Perez (and Yost) manage multiple appearances on this list or if his career has more of a Darren Daulton curve to it: knee injury, knee injury, back to back 1200 inning seasons, more knee injuries.

Another drastic example of catcher overuse is Todd Hundley's dad, former Cub Randy Hundley. This next graph isn't for the faint of heart. 

It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that 1966-1969 was responsible for Hundley missing most of 1970 and 1971, a sprained knee suffered during a home plate collision is the official cause, but it's not too much of a stretch to think that Hundley might have bounced back from injury a little easier if his knees weren't already exhausted.

And finally, here's a graph of third baseman Ron Santo. 

I'm sure most of you are aware that he kept his struggle with diabetes secret during the majority of his playing career, not revealing it until 1971. Now, take that previous graph and match it up with this one:

Ron Santo, from 1963 to 1969, averaged 160 games of Gold Glove defense and contributed over 6 fWAR to each squad... and those in charge of entry into the Hall of Fame didn't see it fit to let him in to their club until after he finally succumbed to a disease for whose research he raised $65 million dollars for during his life. It's enough to make you want to write a compound sentence. His wife Vicki carries on his legacy to this day, helping to raise money for diabetic alert dogs

That leads me to another on-card autograph in my collection.

The shiny autograph is nice, but I think Ron would have appreciated this card more. It's a horribly miscut castoff from a card game that Topps released in 1968. I rescued it from an uncertain home in the quarter box at the local card shop this week. It's fatally flawed, but it somehow managed to find the one guy in northeast Kansas that will treasure it for the rest of his life.

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