Nationals Today 1/27

Untitled-2THIS MORNING…

The Hardball Times has a great article about the final at-bats of the top home run hitters of all time. Essentially they did not fare so well: a combined .222/.267/.333 BA/OBP/SLG line; their hits tended to be singles and those lucky few who did reach base were typically replaced by pinch runners. The rest faded inauspiciously into power-hitting immortality.

This, of course, makes Ted Williams‘ final at-bat all the more impressive. The Kid’s adieu is not noteworthy solely because it remains the only instance of a 450+ homer hitter going yard in his final plate appearance but also because of its dramatic weight: a legend doing nearly everything he should yet still managing to disappoint his fans. Had he grounded out like every other aging superstar maybe Bostonians would have seen him as more of a mortal and been more kind. But then the story wouldn’t be nearly as good, would it?

Rocco Baldelli Retires

I was personally saddened by the news of Rocco Baldelli’s retirement. I remember reading the comparisons to Joe DiMaggio, the stories of the basement batting cage in his father’s store in Rhode Island, and how Baldelli seemed quieter, more intelligent, and somehow more dignified than your typical ballplayer. I must have been in middle school when I first heard about Baldelli’s prep-school prowess and I thought he really would become my generation’s DiMaggio.

That thought, of course, never came to fruition. Baldelli struck out far too often (20.3% K%) and did not walk enough (4.9% BB%) during a career characterized by frequent injury and shadowed by the debilitating effects of a mysterious disorder, most recently described as channelopathy. FanGraphs, as always, has a great analysis of what Rocco Baldelli the player may have accomplished though it does not fully capture the disappointment felt by those who remember how promising Baldelli once was. Add in the fact that Baldelli was a class act and his career trajectory sure seems like something of a minor tragedy. One for me at least.

Hot Links

Ben Goessling looks at how to fix the problem the Nats have at the top of the order…
Federal Baseball looks at Jan. 26 in Washington baseball history…
Rob Neyer of ESPN looks at whether or not he can return to being a Royals fan after all these years…

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