Rotisserie Duck

It Still Ain't Over PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 02 October 2015 00:00

Yogi Berra went 4-for-4 one night but when he looked at the box score in the newspaper the next morning, it showed him as 3-for-4. By the time Yogi arrived at the ballpark, he was significantly steamed and located the official scorer to complain. The scorer apologized and told him that it was a typographical error. Yogi's response? "No, it wasn' was a clean single up the middle."

One of the few advantages of being a baseball fan of a certain age is that you have the memories of baseball tucked into a special compartment in your brain. This is especially true of players and games you actually witnessed in person and whenever a record is broken or a milestone is reached, you can bring up those mental snapshots from different decades and enjoy looking at them again. This photo album also emerges when a legendary player passes away and it reminds us to always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours.

As a youngster who spent countless days and nights in the bleachers at Fenway Park, I admittedly hated the Yankees. My beloved Red Sox had Ted Williams and a few other decent players like Jim Piersall and Jackie Jensen, but the dreaded Bronx Bombers were a veritable All-Star team. Those old snapshots in my brain include Mickey Mantle hitting the hardest ball I've ever seen, Billy Martin getting his uniform dirty before the 2nd inning, Whitey Ford throwing a pitch that dropped three feet and Ryne Duren (wearing thick glasses) throwing his first warm-up pitch all the way to the backstop at 100 MPH. In the eight seasons from 1952-59, the Yankees won six AL pennants and four World Series titles. The Red Sox were also-rans and the crowds were sometimes thin because if people don't want to come out to the ballpark, nobody's going to stop them.

The most unique Yankee player of the time was Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra. The most interesting aspect for a kid watching the game was that he didn't look like the other ballplayers. At 5' 7" and 185 pounds, he certainly couldn't be described as athletic, but the results of his efforts were always amazing. Even Napoleon had his Watergate, but this player never seemed to strike out or not come through in the clutch. He also didn't look like a matinee idol but it didn't matter if he was ugly, because I never saw anyone hit with their face.

Even the most casual of fans know about Ted Williams and his military service during two wars, but most don't know that a 19-year-old Yogi Berra was on a rocket boat approaching Omaha Beach on D-Day. At that moment, he might have thought that the future ain't what is used to be, but if the world was perfect, it wouldn't be. At that moment, his professional baseball experience consisted of 111 games with Norfolk of the Piedmont League where he had a batting average of .253. Once he made his major league debut on September 22nd, 1946, he was 21 and he had already figured out that you can't think and hit at the same time. Ironically, he passed away exactly 69 years to the day after that first game.

Of course, this column could be filled with famous "Yogi-isms", but you can use your search engine to find those. It would sort of be like Deja Vu all over again. Or you could call the local pizza parlor and tell them to cut your pizza into six slices instead of eight slices because you can't eat eight slices. Or you could just take a two-hour nap from 1:00 to 4:00 before you decide not to answer that anonymous letter. For the rest of our visit, let's pair up in threes and look at the two peripheral items we discuss in this space most stats and baseball cards.

Six Yogi Stats

> In 1948 and 1962, Yogi made the AL All-Star team...he also made the team every year in between.

> Yogi won three AL MVP Awards ('51, '54 and '55)...he also finished 2nd twice ('53 and '56).

> In a seven-year span ('50 to '56), he accumulated WAR (Wins Above Replacement) numbers between 4.5 and those same seven seasons, his OPS was never lower than .819 and was as high as .915.

> In 1950, this infamous bad-ball hitter had 28 home runs and only struck out 12 times...his homers exceeded his strikeouts in four additional seasons during the 50's. For his entire career, he only struck out in 5% of his plate appearances.

> Yogi was not a first ballot Hall of Famer. He received 67.2% of the votes in 1971 before getting 85.6% in 1972 (75% is necessary for election).

> His highest salary was $65,000 in 1957...he hit 24 home runs and had 82 RBI but he was cut to $60,000 the following season.

Six Yogi Baseball Cards

> 1948 Bowman #6 - This tiny black and white card is Yogi's Rookie Card. In Near Mint (NM) condition, it is currently worth $825.

> 1950 Bowman #46 - This time the tiny card is in color and shows him in his catching books for $515.

> 1952 Topps #191 - This iconic set was the beginning of modern baseball cards...Yogi's entry is valued at $1,100.

> 1953 Bowman Color #121 - One of the simplest and most beautiful sets ever, the front has nothing but a spectacular color photograph of the could belong to you for $775.

> 1953 Topps #104 - This set utilized artist's renderings of the players and is unique to the hobby. It even makes Yogi look handsome and has a price tag of $200.

> 1956 Topps #110 - The second of Topps' horizontal sets, it features dual images on the front. The one you see with this article is from my personal collection and books for $150.

Well, that's about it for today. I'd like to visit my favorite restaurant for dinner, but nobody ever goes there anymore because it's too crowded. No matter where I go, my dessert will be pie ala mode, with ice cream.  

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 October 2015 22:53
Rookie Card Investing - Part Deux PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 25 September 2015 00:00

Our last visit took us through the history of rookie cards and the back story of collectors becoming investors in baseball cards. The evidence from 2005 indicates clearly that holding modern rookie cards anticipating the market to boom seems to be a fool's game. Of the 20 or so hot prospects reviewed, only four have shown an increase in value over the last decade despite the fact that many of them have been solid major league players. The logical conclusion is simple. Young baseball players almost never live up to the "hype."    

In today's Internet age, card speculators are checking every available source to find the next Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. In essence, they're doing what Fantasy players have done for 30 years...trying to get the edge on the market. From Baseball America's and MLB Pipeline's top 100 prospects to Arizona Fall League scouting reports, it's all there for the asking. Let's not forget, however, that our analysis of those 20 prospect cards didn't even include guys in the 2005 top 10 prospect list such as Ian Stewart, Joel Guzman, Casey Kotchman and Andy Marte. You can light your cigar with their cards.

Collectors often ask me whether they should sell or hold a valuable rookie card (often autographed) that they recently pulled from a pack. My advice is always the same...take the money and run. Then sit on the couch throwing cash around while watching Woody Allen's "Take the Money and Run" (1969) or listening to Steve Miller's "Take the Money and Run" (1976). Yes, it could be lousy advice...but not very often.

As our follow up case study, let's see how similar rookie cards have fared in a few other years, comparing their 2010 and 2015 values. Once again, we'll use the Bowman Chrome brand and the examples will be autographed cards ("A").

2006 Bowman Chrome

> Kenji Johjima "A" - $17.50 in '10, $10.50 in '15

> Prince Fielder "A" - $35 in '10, $35 now

> Alex Gordon "A" - $35 then, $21 today

> Justin Upton "A" - $90 in '10, $35 in '15

> Chris Iannetta "A" - $21 in '10, unlisted now ($7 estimate)

> Matt Garza "A" - $17.50 then, unlisted now ($7 estimate)

> Jon Lester "A" - $35 in '10, $35 today

> Jose Bautista "A" - $10.50 in '10, $27.50 now

> Evan Longoria "A" - $200 in '10, $55 in '15

> Clayton Kershaw "A" - $75 in '10, $325 today

For the 2006 year, obviously Bautista and Kershaw are the outliers. In Bautista's case, it took until age 29 for him to explode as an impact player while Kershaw has become the best pitcher in the game. We haven't even mentioned Cody Johnson, Kasey Kiker, Adrian Cardenas, Matt Antonelli and Pedro Beato, who all had '06 autograph rookie cards worth $15 or more in 2010.

2007 Bowman Chrome

> Tim Lincecum "A" - $137.50 in '10, $60 in '15

> Dellin Betances "A" - $21 in '10, $21 in '15

> Fernando Martinez "A" - $45 in '10, $10.50 now

> Jeff Samardzija "A" - $35 in '10, $17.50 today

> Chris Coghlan "A" - $17.50 then, $7 now

> Trevor Cahill "A" - $27.50 in '10, $7 in '15

> Joba Chamberlain "A" - $60 in '10, $8.50 today

> Hunter Pence "A" - $14 then, $27.50 now

If you'd chosen Pence over all the others, you'd be in the chips. If you'd hoarded all nine, no such luck. Unmentioned in this year's class were Wes Hodges, Cedric Hunter, Tim Alderson, Beau Mills and Michael Burgess. In 2010, all of their autograph cards were valued at $10-$20. Arguably the best investment was Todd Frazier's autographed card at $8.50, which now books for $42.50. Two others with slight upticks are Devin Mesoraco and Travis d'Arnaud.

The evidence seems clear, but the thrill of pulling a top prospect's autographed card out of a pack never gets old. Who should you invest in now? There certainly are "usual suspects" and a current baseball publication lists the 10 rookies to watch as Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Joc Pederson, Yasmany Tomas, Jung Ho Kang, Maikel Franco, Chris Heston, Noah Syndergaard and Nathan Karns. Guess we've already forgotten about Joey Gallo, Matt Duffy, Addison Russell, Carlos Rodon and others. As for me, I'll be buying up every Keyser Soze rookie card I can find.

The Rookie Card Commodity Market PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 18 September 2015 00:00

If you're fed up with the volatility of the Dow Jones and the S&P to the point where most of your money is now inside your mattress, maybe your nerves aren't strong enough for baseball card investing. Since the dawn of modern baseball card collecting (early 1950's), fans have been fascinated in the "Rookie Cards" (RC's) of their favorite players. It probably links to that appeal of wanting the "first" of something and serves as a magnet for hobbyists even when the RC isn't that visually appealing. The perfect example is the RC of Pete Rose from the 1963 Topps set. That year, the manufacturer decided to put four rookies on the same card and for famous players like Rose and Willie Stargell, their images are cropped and almost unrecognizable. The 1964 Rose card, however, is something to behold with a beautiful photo and a superimposed image of the "Topps 1963 All-Star Rookie" trophy in the corner. If you wanted one of those '64 beauties in "Near Mint" (NM 7) condition, it would set you back about $275. If, however, you just must have the '63 RC in similar condition, the price would be $1,450.

At a point in the mid-to-late 80's, when the hobby was booming, collectors decided that speculating in cards could be a valuable endeavor. Instead of collecting certain cards, they started investing in the cards instead. And, of course, they believed RC's were their avenue to success. The card companies were more than happy to oblige and turned on the printing presses to full capacity, so every baseball fan could accumulate RC's of the hot prospects of the time. Today, when the Old Duck goes to look at a card collection, he invariably finds a stack with hundreds of the same card...and then another stack...and then another stack. Who are the potential Hall-of-Famers in these stacks? How about Gregg Jefferies from 1988 or Albert Belle from 1989 or John Olerud from 1990 or Carl Everett from 1991? You haven't really experienced the thrill of the chase until you open a box marked "83 Donruss" on the outside and find 200 Candy Maldonado RC's staring you in the face.

In addition to the card companies over-production, another significant factor in the investments of that era is the use of PED's by some of the biggest stars. Despite pundits always saying that fans don't care about steroids, the hobby tells you just the opposite. The value of the RC's of the usual suspects like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez has plummeted in the marketplace. McGwire's RC from the 1985 Topps set was the hottest card in the hobby at one time. The set also includes RC's of Clemens, Kirby Puckett, Dwight Gooden and Eric Davis. In 1998, when McGwire and Sosa were chasing the Home Run record, a case (20 boxes) of '85 Topps was worth $5,000. Earlier this year, one sold on eBay for $1,425.

Despite this background, investors still believe they can beat the system. To accommodate them, in the last 10-15 years, card manufacturers have started digging deeper into the prospect market. No longer do you have to wait for the next phenom to arrive in the majors, now you can buy his card while he's still in the low minors. Miguel Cabrera didn't appear in a Marlins uniform until 2003, but his RC is from the 2000 Topps Traded set. Joey Votto didn't debut with the Reds until 2007, but he has a RC in 2002 Bowman Chrome and 2002 Topps T206. Robinson Cano was the Yankees second baseman at age 22 in 2005, but you can find his RC in a number of 2003 Bowman products.

The reality, however, is that for every Kris Bryant there are dozens of players like Brandon Wood. Rather than looking at anecdotal information, let's do a small case study of the last decade. We'll look at RC's from 2005 and then see what their value was in 2010 and what it is today using the Beckett price guide. To be consistent, we'll use the Bowman Chrome brand as the base and some will be autographed cards ("A").

2005 Bowman Chrome & Chrome Draft

> Ian Kinsler - $7 in '10, $3.50 in '15

> Melky Cabrera - $5.50, now $2

> Chris Young (OF) - $5.50, now $2

> Justin Verlander "A" - $45 in '10, currently at $55

> Matt Kemp "A" - $60 in '10, now $40

> Billy Butler "A" - $60 then, now $10

> Jay Bruce - $8 in '10, now $5.50

> Andrew McCutchen - $5.50 to $8.50

> Jordan Schafer - $5.50 in '10, now $3.50

> Clay Buchholz - $10, now $2

> Troy Tulowitzki - $4, now $7

> Edinson Volquez $8, now $3.50

> Stephen Drew "A" - $35 in '10, now $7

> Jered Weaver "A" - $35, now $17.50

> Ryan Braun "A" - $135, currently $45

> Jacoby Ellsbury "A" - $90, now $42.50

> Colby Rasmus "A" - $60 in '10, $10 in '15

> Ryan Zimmerman "A" - $45, now $27.50

You're probably wondering about all the breakout stars who are missing from our list. What you must realize is that, in essence, we're comparing card values about five years into a career with card values ten years into a career. At five years, collectors had identified the good players and are hoping their careers will escalate to star status. At ten years, the harsh reality has set in and we know that what we see is what we get. Yes, Carlos Gonzalez has gone from $3.50 to $5.50 but a plethora of cards in that category have fallen off the chart altogether. Do you remember Humberto Sanchez or Chuck James?

In a future visit, we'll do the same analysis of RC's from 2006-07 to see if the pattern changes. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me if you're looking for a Brandon Wood Autographed Rookie Card.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 September 2015 22:30
FIP This PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 11 September 2015 00:00
For as long as kids have looked at the back of baseball cards, they've had a general understanding of ERA (Earned Run Average). If you look up the definition, the general consensus is "A measure of a pitcher's performance by dividing the total earned runs allowed by the total of innings pitched and multiplying by nine." My baseball education taught that it was earned runs multiplied by nine, divided by innings pitched but the numbers come out the same. The premise of the statistic was to not burden a pitcher with runs that had been enabled by errors or passed balls. In other words, eliminating from the calculation events that were out of his control.

If you've watched enough baseball to give the definition a personal "eye test", you already know that numerous runs score in a game that don't necessarily fit the criteria. If a pitcher leaves the game with the bases loaded (through hits and walks) and the relief pitcher gives up a triple, the original hurler just gave up three earned runs while he was sitting in the dugout. If there are runners on second and third with two outs and a weak groundball trickles under the glove of the shortstop into left field, two earned runs score whether the fielder in question was Pee Wee Reese or Pokey Reese. Outcomes like these are what motivate the development of advanced baseball statistics.

In an attempt to move beyond ERA, we now have a stat called FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). The essential theory is that pitchers can only really control strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed. To that end, analysts have come up with a formula to determine a pitcher's skill based on those three factors and once that number is calculated, they tie it to MLB's run scoring environment so that it aligns with ERA.

The question for those of us playing Fantasy Baseball is if the FIP numbers can assist in determining the value and predictability of pitchers. Many a team has been torpedoed by a couple of starting pitchers that didn't perform to expectations and we're always looking for an edge. As a 20-plus year fantasy veteran has said many times, "I hate pitchers." Just taking a superficial look at FIP results for 2015 reveals the following tidbits.

> As of September 5th, 17 major league pitchers have an ERA under 3.00, while 14 have a FIP under the same threshold. Six of them are in the AL and eight in the NL.

> In the AL this season, three of those top six FIP pitchers are also under 3.00 in ERA - Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel and David Price. The other three FIP leaders just might be underrated on their 2015 performance, as their ERA might not be truly reflective of their skills. Chris Sale is 12-7 with a 3.29 ERA but he has the best FIP in the AL at 2.33, Carlos Carrasco is 12-9 with a 3.53 ERA but his FIP is only 2.81 and Corey Kluber is 8-13 with a 3.41 ERA but his skills seem intact with a FIP of 2.88. In Kluber's case, he's coming off a Cy Young Award season, so 2015 looks even worse.

> In the NL, the top eight FIP pitchers include seven who also fall under the 3.00 ERA guideline, which might just show the validity of the FIP stat. The one outlier is Tyson Ross of the Padres with an ERA of 3.21 and a FIP of 2.90. Ross' record is 10-10, so you're probably surprised to see him on this list at all. For fantasy players, that's an under-the-radar season.

> AL ERA leader Dallas Keuchel is third in FIP but the second-best ERA (2.36) belongs to Sonny Gray and his FIP is almost a run higher at 3.28. Scott Kazmir has a similar anomaly with an ERA of 2.50 and a FIP of 3.38.

> NL ERA leader Zack Greinke is also third in FIP but two of the top six ERA leaders don't match up - Shelby Miller at 2.86 / 3.35 and Matt Harvey with 2.60 / 3.34.

> The AL top six are Sale, Archer, Keuchel, Carrasco, Kluber and Price.

> The NL top eight are Clayton Kershaw, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer (only 11-11), Madison Bumgarner, Jacob deGrom and Tyson Ross.

> How about losing pitchers (other than the aforementioned Kluber) who might have good FIP numbers and be somewhat underrated? Jon Lester (9-10) has a 3.59 ERA but a 3.07 FIP. Jake Odorizzi might have a 6-8 record but his ERA of 3.35 and FIP of 3.38 are both solid. Jose Quintana is 8-10 with a 3.60 ERA but his FIP is only 3.21.

> In the slight over-achievement category, two Cardinals lead the way as Michael Wacha is 15-4 with a 2.69 ERA while his FIP is 3.27 and Carlos Martinez (13-7) is at 3.04 and 3.31.

> For fantasy players who clearly understand the cruel category of "Wins", you can look at baseball cards of Nathan Eovaldi (14-3, 4.20 ERA, 3.43 FIP) and Drew Hutchison (13-3, 5.07 ERA, 4.09 FIP) while you pull your hair out.

> Where are some of your other favorites? Here are a few performances to ponder between now and your 2016 drafts.

* Johnny Cueto will be looking for a nine-figure free agent contract, but he's 9-10 with a 3.04 ERA and 3.29 FIP.

* Cole Hamels already has a nine-figure contract and he's 8-8 with a 3.70 ERA and 3.39 FIP.

* Jordan Zimmermann is another free agent, but what would you pay for 12-8, 3.38 and 3.60?

* "King Felix" Hernandez looks good on the surface with a record of 16-8 but his ERA of 3.65 and FIP of 3.56 may show some deterioration.

* Jeff Samardzija isn't impressing prospective suitors in the free agent market with his 7-11 record and 4.87 ERA / 4.14 FIP.

* The Padres still owe James Shields a shipload of money and he's 10-6, 3.83 / 4.37 in a pitcher's park.

> Who's the worst when it comes to FIP? The bottom five for 2015 are Jeremy Guthrie (5.18), Kyle Lohse (5.13), Miguel Gonzalez (5.04), Matt Garza (4.95) and Dan Haren (4.92). Lurking in the 6th spot is another famous (and expensive) name, C.C. Sabathia (4.84).

As always, fantasy success comes from balance, both on your team and in your scouting, so maybe FIP has a place in your toolbox. And, the next time one of your baseball buddies asks how you are, you can reply, "I'm feeling much better now that I'm monitoring my FIP."
Last Updated on Thursday, 10 September 2015 23:31
Going to WAR for the MVP PDF Print E-mail
Rotisserie Duck
Written by Don Drooker   
Friday, 04 September 2015 00:00

Are you aware that each year's MVP winners receive an award

called the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award? As the Baseball Writer's Association has never really defined "most valuable", would the results have been different over the years if it was just called the "Landis Plaque" and went to the most outstanding player in each league? In other words, do fans think in terms of most valuable player or player of the year? And, do you agree that the MVP is for position players and the Cy Young Award is for pitchers?

While there have been some examples over the years of MVP winners on losing teams, like Ernie Banks of the Cubs in '58 and '59, the general consensus is that the award should go to a player on a contending team. Ted Williams won the Triple Crown (HR, RBI and Batting Average) in both 1942 and 1947 but didn't win the MVP Award in either year. In both seasons, he also led the AL in Runs, Walks, On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage. The winner in '42 was Yankee 2B Joe Gordon and in '47, it was Joe DiMaggio. The Red Sox finished nine games behind the Yanks in 2nd place in '42 and 14 games behind in 3rd place in '47. If there were more than just two teams going to the post-season in the 1940's, maybe the results would have been different.

Now that just about any team at .500 or better still has a chance for the playoffs at the end of August, will the voters expand the list of players considered for MVP? And, if "most valuable" is really the criteria, how is that defined? It seems that there is some logic in value being related to teams winning games, so maybe WAR (Wins Above Replacement) can help us determine the real contenders. After all, being a difference-maker in team wins certainly equates to a player's true value. As a reminder, WAR represents a statistical analysis of how many wins a player is worth to his team over that of a replacement level player (think Triple-A or Quad-A). As you'll see in the ratings, WAR isn't just about hitting stats for position players. It also includes advanced defensive metrics.

"Old School" baseball fans will be disappointed to know that advanced statistics have already had a major impact on how this award is viewed. In a recent blog, Joe Posnanski pointed out that since 2008, every MVP winner has finished in the top-5 in WAR. That is about the time that this new-age statistic became somewhat mainstream. As recently as 2006, Justin Morneau won the MVP with a WAR number of 4.3. Not only were there 20 players better than that, but he finished third on his own team behind Johan Santana and Joe Mauer. Juan Gonzalez won two MVP awards in the 90's without being in the top-15 while Don Baylor (1979), Willie Stargell (1979) and Jeff Burroughs (1974) weren't in the top-20. Those days of writers voting without doing thorough research are gone.

Stats are as of Sunday, August 30th and the WAR numbers are from


> Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays ties for the lead in the AL with a WAR of 7.3 and his team is driving toward the division title. This should come as no surprise, as he posted 7+ WAR numbers in 2013 and 2014 for the A's. He's the current league leader in both Runs and RBI while playing great defense at third base.

> Mike Trout of the Angels had the best WAR in baseball in both 2012 and 2013 but didn't win the MVP in either season. In 2015, his 7.9 WAR helped him finally win the award and he's following it up with a 7.3 figure so far this season. 33 homers and a .963 OPS goes along with Gold Glove caliber play in center field. Do we really understand how great this player has become? He just turned 24!

> Dallas Keuchel of the Astros is the best pitcher at 6.5 and most fans can't spell his name. He's 15-6 with a 2.28 the American League!

> Lorenzo Cain became a hero during the Royals great run last year and now he's becoming known as an elite player. His WAR of 6.4 includes amazing skills in the outfield and solid production at the plate (.312 BA and .855 OPS). His 5.1 WAR rating from 2014 was no fluke.

> Another pitcher fills out the top-5 and it's Sonny Gray of the A's at 6.2. In his age-25 season, his record is 12-6 on a team that is 18 games below .500 and his ERA of 2.13 is the AL's best.


> The best WAR so far belongs to Zack Greinke of the Dodgers at 8.2. This rarified air is nothing new to him, as his 10.4 WAR for the Royals in 2009 won him the Cy Young Award. He's at 14-3 with a 1.61 ERA and this type of dominance may well transcend to MVP consideration.

> The top position player is Bryce Harper of the Nationals at 8.0. Finally (even though he's only 22), the potential everyone talked about for the last five years has been exhibited. Harper has 31 home runs and leads the NL in OBP (.458) and Slugging Percentage (.632).

> Right on Harper's heels is Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt at 7.6. How about a league-leading 96 RBI to go with 26 homers, 20 steals and a OPS over 1.000? By the way, he also plays solid defense.

> While the Reds are floundering, Joey Votto has put up an outstanding season and his 6.1 WAR number verifies the performance. Healthy after a lost season in 2014, he has 25 homers, leads the NL in Walks and has an OPS over 1.000.

> Clayton Kershaw won the MVP and Cy Young Awards last year and despite being slightly overshadowed by Greinke this season, he's still a top-5 WAR performer at 6.1. At 11-6, he leads the NL in Innings Pitched and Strikeouts while posting a league leading 2.10 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching).

If you had a vote, would it be Trout and Harper? Donaldson and Goldschmidt?

Just for the record, in 1942, Ted Williams led all of baseball with a WAR figure of 10.6. MVP winner Gordon had an impressive number of 8.2. In '47, Teddy Ballgame once again led the Majors at 9.9 while DiMaggio wasn't even close to the top-10 at 4.8.

If you ever drop by the Duck Pond, you're welcome to view the extensive collection of Williams memorabilia...but you probably already figured that out.

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