Lots of things annoy me about Chip, some of which annoy many of you (‘Ynoa still needs two more outs to qualify for the win’) and some of which are unique to me (‘Let’s see if Josh can induce a ground ball double play here.’) But among my new annoyances this year is the number of times (I think we’re at about 15) he has discussed Nick Markakis passing Babe Ruth on the doubles list. Let me be clear: (a) Nick Markakis has a hit a lot of doubles in a long distinguished career; (b) Babe Ruth was an extraordinarily good baseball player; but (c) Hitting more doubles than Babe Ruth does not make you a good comparable for Babe Ruth. 58 batters (now including Markakis) have hit more doubles than Babe Ruth. Many of them are in the Hall of Fame, but 20 are not. Of those 20, some are special cases like Pete Rose and Barry Bonds, or not yet eligible like Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz, and Carlos Beltran, but three are active: Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Cano. They are all very, very good, and they have something in common: they are all better than Nick Markakis. As was Babe Ruth.
Also ahead of him on this list are players who will (probably) not (ever) go the Hall of Fame: Luis Gonzalez, Bobby Abreu, Jeff Kent, Al Oliver, Dave Parker, Johnny Damon, Garret Anderson, and Scott Rolen. All of these players have at least some case to be made for being in the Hall. So will Nick Markakis. But invoking Babe Ruth’s name in this list is like noting that Rick Mahler had more wins than Babe Ruth. It’s true (by 2) but although Babe Ruth was also a very good pitcher, wins are not the stat he’s known for. Nick’s next double will tie him with Edgar Martinez, who got into the Hall of Fame last year. That’s really good! Stop talking about Babe Ruth. Or if you do, talk about Tris Speaker, who holds the record. Nick is only 279 doubles behind him. That’s roughly Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew’s entire career of doubles to go.
Babe Ruth had 1356 extra base hits, 4th all time. (Hank still holds that record, 37 above Barry Bonds.) Nick Markakis is 125th on that list, 11 ahead of Jermaine Dye. Passing Jermaine Dye on that list didn’t seem to elicit the same commentary from Chip for some reason.
The discussion last night of the Braves’ best free agent signings led me to compile this remarkable list. It is the sorted list of best OPS+ single seasons from Braves players since expansion in 1961. It is of course no surprise that Hank Aaron dominates this list, which doesn’t even include a couple of his best seasons. But Freddie’s short season is going to join The Hammer. The shortness of the season justifiably raises an asterisk, but it’s a small asterisk. What’s amazing to me about the Top 50 on this list is how few of the entries are “lightning-in-a-bottle-one-great-year,” but instead are the result of great careers. The only real exceptions are Adam LaRoche, Eddie Perez and Dick Dietz. Freddie now has 4 of the top 50 performances, passing Rico Carty’s 3. Aaron leads with 12. Chipper has 8. In the All Time List, Aaron has 10 of the top 50, while Freddie now has 2. Thanks, Freddie, for making this regular season fun to watch.
Oh, yeah… there was a game, too. What happened? First, the Braves emptied the bench, starting Hech, Flowers, and Enser. It wasn’t that long ago that those three at the bottom of the lineup would be regarded as an upgrade. Max Fried, having given up no home runs all season, gave up back-to-back homers in the first. This demonstrates little beyond the proposition that Max needs to learn how to quaff clinching Champagne and still be sober enough to pitch the next day. That said, Max pitched only the first inning and took the rest of the night off as (I think) a precaution to a tweaked ankle. I would point out that the ankle is connected to the Achilles, but I’m not (yet) worried.
All those who lamented the Braves failed to make moves not involving Tommy Milone at the deadline should consider the Phillies. They went all in to sign Bryce Harper and traded top prospect Sixto Sanchez and pretty good catcher Jorge Alfaro to get JT Realmuto. They failed to make the playoffs last year, it doesn’t look like they’ll make it this year, and Sixto Sanchez will be an important contributor to the Marlins. You can go all in, but it doesn’t get you in anything. Sanchez is not yet a polished pitcher, but I’d rather have the Marlins’ future than the Phillies’. Hell, I’d rather have the Marlins’ present than the Phillies’ present or future. So much for all in.
Anyway, Sanchez coughed up the first inning lead he was handed and Luke Jackson was the designated long relief guy. What it did was give the Braves to practice a bullpen game, which the playoffs might well see once or twice. He coughed up the lead, but the Braves got the lead back with a five run 4th, which relieved Chip of any obligation to guess who might be credited with a ‘win.’ But Luke pitched a fairly strong (and needed) 4 innings with two runs surrendered.
Dayton, Webb and a newly shaky Greene finished things up. And that finishes up regular season 2020 recaps for me. As Bartles and Jaymes used to say: “We thank you for your support.” One more with the Fish (though they’re still a possible first round playoff opponent next week) and then a series against the “Season? There was a season? Why didn’t anyone tell us?” Red Sox.