Wednesday, December 28, 2005

MLB.com runs this goofy story on how Gary DiSarcina is now eligible for the Hall of Fame. For instance:
Joining DiSarcina for initial consideration to the Hall are Rick Aguilera, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Alex Fernandez, Gary Gaetti, Dwight Gooden, Ozzie Guillen, Orel Hershiser, Gregg Jefferies, Doug Jones, Hal Morris, Walt Weiss and John Wetteland.
Yeah, those guys are thrilled to join DiSar, I'm sure.

I would also like to know just what the hell this is supposed to mean:
DiSarcina, who hit .258 over 1,086 Major League games, suffered mostly from being trapped as a key player at the wrong time. Not once during his tenure did the Angels make the playoffs and a fracture to his left forearm that he suffered after being hit by a bat during batting practice in spring 1999 helped his career end prematurely.
Okay, please exclude 1995 from what I'm about to say:

How was DiSarcina the one that suffered from being "a key player at the wrong time"? The way this passage reads, it's like he was this valuable player who played on bad teams.

No: he was a bad player that played on decent teams. Maybe, just maybe, the reason those teams never made the postseason is because they had a guy who put up on OPS+ of 66 for three years. 66. That's worse than Steve Finley was last year. And while DiSar was an excellent defensive player and I have every reason to believe he's a good guy and was a fantastic teammate, it's hard to win divisions when your shortstop is one of the worst-hitting regulars in the major leagues.

Okay, everything went to hell in 1996, so DiSar's pathetic performance didn't cost the team the division there. But in 1997, DiSar played 154 games and put up a beyond-awful 56 OPS+ (only two AL shortstops were worse). He was, by my calculations, 38 runs below average as a hitter. (If you check out his card at Baseball Prospectus, you'll find that Clay Davenport's ratings are much more generous, pegging him at -36.) That's a lot of runs -- that's nearly four wins. His defense was probably good enough to get a win back, maybe two. (I vaguely remember looking at his defense around that time at concluding he was about a win better than average.) The Angels lost the division by six games; roughly one-half of that deficit might be assigned to DiSarcina.

He was much better in 1998, rating at -15 runs by my reckoning. So he was probably only about half a win below average that season. The Angels lost the division by three games.

No, he didn't singlehandedly ruin those team's chances, but he sure didn't help. Yeah yeah, I know his teammates loved him, and he was considered a leader, but I never saw how that actually helped anything. It's not like his teammates would have become worse players had he not been around to inspire anybody.

Wow, sorry to go on a rant there, but in a previous life a debate about DiSar's merits as a ballplayer was a weekly occurrence. So when he is mentioned, my rankles are regularly raised.

But -- he'll always have 1995, which is more than a lot of people have. It's not that I disliked the man, it's just that I thought on balance he hurt his teams.

I posted the same thing over at BTF, but the only seasons in 24 years the Angels have received a 90 or better OPS+ from their starting SS was 2002, 1995, and 1986....
thank you for posting this.

I wish I'd had it back in 1998-2001, but it still serves a purpose - burying a corpse.
Always loved the way DiSar played the game. Not the most talented dude, but he got the most out of what he had.

But I love these MLB.com off-season fillers...guys trying to make it look like they're busy...please
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I appreciated the fact that Gary Di was one of the few who was apologetic about how he and a few other teammates did not stand up to the group of players led by Mo Vaughan who forced Terry Collins out in 1999. Think what you will of Collins and the circumstances of that season, but Gary admitted that much of that year's squad was so polarized and yet he said he wished he would have done more for Collins and team unity in retrospect. Class guy...More than we can say for some of that '99 team!
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