Obligatory Cubs Post

So Matt Garza pitched a beautiful game, giving up 3 runs on 7 hits in 9.0 IP — the only problem is that the three runs all came courtesy of the Astros’ Carlos Lee, who hit two home runs, the second coming with two outs (two outs!) in the ninth with a man on to send the game to extra innings. Garza’s been one of the few bright spots for the Cubs this year, and the fact that he didn’t walk a batter (his control’s been an issue his entire career so far) bodes well for next season. The Cubs ended up winning 4-3 in 12 innings on a Marlon Byrd infield single to drive home burgeoning star Starlin Castro (really that’s not a pun in any way, just his name and there’s no other way to put it).

Aramis Ramírez went 3-for-5 with a walk, a strikeout, and his first triple of 2011. After a shaky start, he’s now hitting .310/.364/.514 with 25 HR and 91 RBI. Solid glove at third. Career now, he’s .284/.342/.500. Since coming over from the Pirates in 2003, he’s been the Cubs’ most reliable hitter by far (with a hat-tip to the departed Derrek Lee). And at Wrigley, he’s out of his mind, going .336/.398/.596 this season and .308/.374/.553 with 124 HR and 438 RBI during his career (all stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com). He’s at 23.9 WAR in his time with the Cubs with four seasons with an OPS+ at or above 130 and seven of nine with an OPS+ above 120.

Is he a Hall of Famer?

I think so. No he’s not at, nor ever will be at Mike Schmidt status. I doubt anyone ever will be. And is Ramírez a Hall of Famer now? No. But he’s 33, playing on a bad team, with the option of moving to a contender after this next season (as a Cubs fan, I pray he won’t, but were I GM — and I should be Tom Ricketts!) — I would have dealt him at the deadline for some very good prospects. In any case. Let’s say he has three good years somewhere near this level left in him, with a few more after declining or in a more limited role. Even playing for the Cubs and discounting that they might get better (not holding my breath) or that he might move to a team where he has some protection in the lineup or could even prolong his career as a DH, you figure he could well end up around some 450 HR and over 1500 RBI for sure. Steady glove, team leader, plays the hot corner well. Even accounting for his career OPS declining below .841 (and discounting for his early Pirate years playing for terrible teams) and career OPS+ of 114 (which is admittedly not Hall-worthy, but again, considering his Cubs years) dropping to say 110, he’s still an intriguing candidate, especially as a mostly post-steroid era player.

That last point is important. Ramírez’s breakout year was in 2001 with the Pirates in the foul heart of the steroid era, but his best production has been 2004-since, largely in the era of increased vigilance on the part of the MLB and fan distaste for the likes of Barry Bonds’s prolate spheroidical head.

I submit that Aramis Ramírez will be worthy of a Hall of Fame induction when he retires. Will he get there? I don’t know and I doubt it. The folks who make those calls seem to be coming around to advanced statistics, and it depends on Ramírez continuing to produce at the level he has consistently for the last nine years in Chicago. I think he’ll end up with a very worthy case though, provided voters take into account the shitty teams he’s played for and the fact that he’s played his entire career at third. In any case — and no doubt about this one — he’s a Cubs Hall of Famer for sure.

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~ by Benji on 16 September 2011.

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