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View Full Version : Norris Hopper and Jeff Keppinger....what is their future?



mbgrayson
09-21-2007, 11:18 AM
Both Norris Hopper and Jeff Keppinger have gotten a surprising amount of playing time thanks to the medical issues of Ryan Freel, Josh Hamilton, and Alex Gonzalez.

A quick look at their stats:

Norris Hopper, age 28
2007 MLB: 298 Plate Appearances, .340/.375/.401 for an OPS of .776. Has only walked 15 times, and struck out only 30 times. 13 steals in 19 attempts.

2006 AAA: 403 PA, .347/.378/.392 for an OPS of .770. Only walked 20 times, and struck out 25 times. 25 steals in 32 attempts.

Remarkably similar numbers this year in Cincinnati compared to 2006 in Louisville. What you see is what you get; high average, decent OBP(because of average), no power, good speed.

Jeff Keppinger, age 27
2007 MLB: 228 PA, .341/.406/.493 for an OPS of .899. Has walked 20 times and struck out only 11 times. 2 steals in 3 attempts.

2007 AAA: 251 PA, .368/.424/.469 for an OPS of .893. Walked 23 times and K’d 14 times. 1 steal in 2 attempts.

2006 AAA: 490 PA, .316/.368/.389 for an OPS of .757. Walked 40 times and struck out 30 times. 0 steals in 4 attempts.

Also remarkably similar numbers in Cincinnati compared to AAA. With Kepp you get; high average, good OBP, little power, little speed, and a great contact rate.

Both of these two are the real deal. Their high averages are not a fluke, given their near league leading averages in AAA. I think both of these guys are very valuable to the Reds in 2008. They make Ryan Freel very expendable, although Freel is under contract.

Do either of these guys start? Hopper’s defense is average, but many think Keppinger lacks the range to start at shortstop.

I think they are spare parts, but very good spare parts. They are capable of coming off the bench and spelling a starter anywhere in the outfield, or 2nd, 3rd, or short. Great job to WK for bringing these two along....

Kc61
09-21-2007, 11:27 AM
Folks on the game thread were critical of Kepp's range last night. With reason, the base hit through the middle would have been reached by true shortstops with good range.

But despite his modest range, Kepp is extremely sure handed at short. Low error guy.

If Gonzo were to get you back pitching, or if the Reds could use Gonzo's salary slot for pitching, I'd say move him and give Kepp the shortstop job, perhaps with a rangier guy as a backup. Perhaps he's not the ideal shortstop, but he has excellent OBP skills which the Reds need. Otherwise, keep both and use Kepp extensively in a utility role, he can play anywhere except centerfield and catcher.

Kepp and Hopper add a lot to this club. Hopper gets base hit after base hit. He really has that skill which, again, the Reds don't have otherwise. He really is a good compliment to Hamilton in centerfield being right handed, leadoff hitter, decent defensively.

RedsBaron
09-21-2007, 11:45 AM
They are both very useful backup players and, given their ages, probably at their peaks right about now. As spare parts they have value. As center-pieces, they would be way over-valued.

TOBTTReds
09-21-2007, 11:47 AM
They are both very useful backup players and, given their ages, probably at their peaks right about now. As spare parts they have value. As center-pieces, they would be way over-valued.

Lock up the thread, conversation over.

KronoRed
09-21-2007, 01:18 PM
They are both very useful backup players and, given their ages, probably at their peaks right about now. As spare parts they have value. As center-pieces, they would be way over-valued.

RedsBaron for manager.

RedsManRick
09-21-2007, 01:35 PM
Jeff Keppinger = Chris Stynes
Norris Hopper = Bip Roberts

Not perfect, but I think it works.

LoganBuck
09-21-2007, 01:44 PM
I like Keppinger and Hopper for reserve roles, and they would make difficult pinch hitters as well. With Hamilton's durability being a question, they provide depth. Freel and Castro must not be back however. Otherwise the bench becomes a quagmire.

Hopper
Keppinger
Ross/Valentine
Cantu
Freel
Castro

bucksfan2
09-21-2007, 02:35 PM
Jeff Keppinger = Chris Stynes
Norris Hopper = Bip Roberts

Not perfect, but I think it works.

If Hopper turns into Bip Roberts I would be estatic. Didn't Roberts win a batting title? I think too often we try to compare players to players in the past. I don't think Keppy is a clone to Stynes. Stynes was more of a hard nosed ball player who got by on grit and determination. I think Keppy is a smoother ball player who will hit for a high average, play average defense, and not hurt the club at all. IMO he is an ideal second baseman but unfortuantly for him the reds have Phillips cemented in that position for the forseeable future. I think too often we look and say well Keppinger can do this or that, however, if the guy can hit .320-.330 I think you have to find a spot in the lineup for him.

HumnHilghtFreel
09-21-2007, 03:19 PM
I'm a big Keppinger fan, I like what he brings to the table. I've never thought much of Hopper, but he just keeps on doing what he does, so IMO, those 2 make some people expendable. I'd like to see Wayne try to ship out Freel(don't let my screen name fool you :) ) and Gonzo for pitching. I know people worry about Hamilton's health and keeping Freel around as insurance, but I would have no problem bringing up Bruce if something along those lines happens.

An Outfield of Dunn, Hamilton, Griffey, Hopper and guys like Jay Bruce, Buck Coats or even Dickerson waiting in the wings in AAA would work out just fine, IMO.

Kepp is solid enough for me at SS, limited range and all.

GAC
09-21-2007, 03:42 PM
Add to that mix Cantu. He had a very solid '05 season. Don't let the '06 season numbers fool you. He struggled with injuries.

It's actually quite nice to be in the position of having so many of these pieces, and yet trying to figure out who plays.

SF made a good point on all these players and who to play on another thread.

With Gonzo being hurt, and it being the end of the season who no hope, wouldn't it have been wise to do a little experimenting with Phillips at SS, and maybe trying Kepp and/or Cantu at 2B? What would it have hurt?

Eric_Davis
09-21-2007, 04:39 PM
No Juan Castro, please.

flyer85
09-21-2007, 04:44 PM
they look to be bench players(something the Reds have sorely lacked in recent years). Thinking they are more than that is likely asking for trouble. Guys whose value is almost entirely tired to batting average(Hopper) really worry me, and guys who have a decent amount of their value tied up in batting average(Keppinger) concern me.

In the case of Hopper, if his BA drops to what is still considered good( around 300 for Hopper), his offensive value disappears. To have offensive value he really needs to hit over .320, and he is still a marginal offensive OF at that point.

Ltlabner
09-21-2007, 04:52 PM
Hopper is one of those guys that'd I'd fully support to "sell high". He's got the shiney BA. He's got the crafty bunt thing going. He plays a passible CF. Package him with Freel, or Coffee or a couple of minor leaguers, but I'd be working the phones for to see if someone will bite on the lead-off bunter deluxe. He's got the "tools" (and I use that phrase loosely) some baseball guys drool over.

Kepp. He's the new Freel. First go-to guy in the infield. Can fill in nicely and hits well. He'd be a solid bench addition that is heads-and-shoulders above what we've had reciently.

Team Clark
09-21-2007, 06:28 PM
Folks on the game thread were critical of Kepp's range last night. With reason, the base hit through the middle would have been reached by true shortstops with good range.

But despite his modest range, Kepp is extremely sure handed at short. Low error guy.

If Gonzo were to get you back pitching, or if the Reds could use Gonzo's salary slot for pitching, I'd say move him and give Kepp the shortstop job, perhaps with a rangier guy as a backup. Perhaps he's not the ideal shortstop, but he has excellent OBP skills which the Reds need. Otherwise, keep both and use Kepp extensively in a utility role, he can play anywhere except centerfield and catcher.

Kepp and Hopper add a lot to this club. Hopper gets base hit after base hit. He really has that skill which, again, the Reds don't have otherwise. He really is a good compliment to Hamilton in centerfield being right handed, leadoff hitter, decent defensively.

These are the same folks who forget about the far ranging plays up the middle he has made this year. Kepp, like any infielder just got caught in a bad spot last night. It happens. He has the range. Not Gonzo range but he can do it. If Kepp plays 100 games and gets 350 AB's next season I would be happy as a fan. Same with Hopper.

Team Clark
09-21-2007, 06:32 PM
they look to be bench players(something the Reds have sorely lacked in recent years). Thinking they are more than that is likely asking for trouble. Guys whose value is almost entirely tired to batting average(Hopper) really worry me, and guys who have a decent amount of their value tied up in batting average(Keppinger) concern me.

In the case of Hopper, if his BA drops to what is still considered good( around 300 for Hopper), his offensive value disappears. To have offensive value he really needs to hit over .320, and he is still a marginal offensive OF at that point.

Agreed but in now way do I start working the phones as some have suggested. These guys are getting established and no playoff team wins with a a weak bench. Neither of these guys can bring the bullpen help that is needed and both are cheap. Hang on to them! Not to mention their attitude about their roles is phenomenal.

Eric_Davis
09-21-2007, 11:08 PM
These are the same folks who forget about the far ranging plays up the middle he has made this year. Kepp, like any infielder just got caught in a bad spot last night. It happens. He has the range. Not Gonzo range but he can do it. If Kepp plays 100 games and gets 350 AB's next season I would be happy as a fan. Same with Hopper.


...and remember. The REDS didn't start putting Kepp at SS until May, as they saw the potential of him being a utility player in the Majors, but without being able to "fill-in" at SS occasionally, he wouldn't be of much value to them. I don't believe he ever played SS in the Minors before May. It would take me a second to look it up, but I'm pretty sure this is the case, because I was looking at him back in May when they tried him there the first 2 games, hoping and praying that he could learn it quickly so we could see the end of Juan Castro.

KronoRed
09-22-2007, 01:03 AM
With Gonzo being hurt, and it being the end of the season who no hope, wouldn't it have been wise to do a little experimenting with Phillips at SS, and maybe trying Kepp and/or Cantu at 2B? What would it have hurt? Cantu is awful anywhere other then 1st, he can be the right handed back up to Votto next year, but his D should keep him from being anything other then a 1st baseman.

mth123
09-22-2007, 07:00 AM
If Keppinger starts it won't be so much a nod to Keppinger as it will be an acknowledgement that one of the younger guns like EdE or Phillips needs to be traded for a solid starter. The fact that there is reason to believe that one of those guys could be traded and the Reds still wouldn't have a gaping hole at the spot is a good thing.

If the choice is Belsile and two guys to emerge from the pack for the 3, 4 and 5 spots, while decent players like Hatte and Keppinger sit the bench, or acquiring a solid starter (not a rental but a guy for the next few years) for some one like EdE or Votto while Hatte or Keppinger start, then I'd prefer the solid starter. It isn't about preferring Keppinger or Hatte over EdE or Votto. Its all about improving the pitching staff IMO.

If Hopper starts, its a lot of injuries or pure lunacy. With Dunn, Hamilton, Griffey, Bruce and maybe even Freel on board, the Reds could make a deal with one and Hopper should still be in a reserve role IMO.

GAC
09-22-2007, 07:41 AM
they look to be bench players(something the Reds have sorely lacked in recent years). Thinking they are more than that is likely asking for trouble. Guys whose value is almost entirely tired to batting average(Hopper) really worry me, and guys who have a decent amount of their value tied up in batting average(Keppinger) concern me.

While I obviously wouldn't want to field a team full of these types of guys, I also believe your lineup needs a guy or two like this that can hit for average. They, IMHO, "compliment" the other guys in your lineup.

Did a guy like Aurilia, who didn't draw alot of walks, prove his worth to this team for a couple of years?

Hitting for average is not necessarily a bad thing or should be looked down upon simply because some feel they don't walk enough.

Look at players like Cobb, Rose, and Carew. HOF players not known for their ability to take walks. Both Cobb and Rose only drew over 100 walks/season once in their illustrious careers. Carew never even came close. We could sight further examples.

Guys like this have always been given the label of "singles hitters", yet Cobb was.....

724 Doubles (4th All Time)

295 Triples (2nd All Time)

1937 RBI ( 7th All Time)

5884 Total Bases (5th All Time)

1136 Xtra Base Hits (10th All Time)

I saw them not only as "contact hitters", but "disciplined contact hitters", meaning that while they weren't known for drawing walks, they weren't hackers or free swingers either; but were players who not only knew the strikezone, but were able to produce hits at a consistent level on pitches that wasn't necessarily "their pitch". And because they knew that strikezone they had the ability to take what was given them and produce. They could go the other way, hit to all fields, etc.

Career OB%

Cobb .433
Carew .393
Rose .375

And those OB% were batting average loaded.

Would they be panned in today's game for that? Would people be saying what I hear so frequently that that worries them, and it's due to the fact that at some point skills deteriorate?

Everyone's skills deteriorate at some point. But if I can get that ballplayer to consistently give me several years of it, and I'm not overpaying for it, then why isn't it worth it because somehow his OB is "batting average-loaded". I just simply disagree with that notion.

Now I'm not saying that Keppinger or whoever is the "next" Cobb or Rose. Nor am I denigrating the ability to take a BB. It's a valued "commodity" in a ballplayer. But some seem to think it's the only valued commodity inwhich we gauge a ballplayer. It's the first thing everyone looks at. I don't gauge a ballpler by such a limited criteria.

Being able to consistently hit for batting average, and that is the key with some of these younger players, whether they can do that or not, should not be devalued or overlooked IMHO.

I have a HUGE problem with some of today's ballplayers that I've observed who, IMO, are too patient at that plate. Again - not a free swinger or hacker - but they are so particular, and are standing up there waiting for that pitcher to give them "their pitch", and yeah, maybe even looking for that walk, that they are letting solid pitches go by.... 0-1, 0-2. They place themselves in a hole, and are now at the mercy of that pitcher who I guarantee ain't gonna give them anything to hit with the count now in their favor. But that batter now has to somehow protect the plate, and he is also now at the mercy of the ump too.

mth123
09-22-2007, 08:24 AM
Hopper and Keppinger aren't Rose, Carew or Cobb (who was actually a power hitter for his day). A good case for that type of player has been made as long as he is elite like Rose and Carew were. I don't believe Keppinger or Hopper are in that category.

I think they both can be nice little players who are plusses if used properly and hole fillers if used to fill a spot vacated by trade to improve the rotation. The point about these guys is that they are all about batting average. When they are hitting, they are very useful. When they aren't, they add nothing in the way of defensive value and make a ton of outs because they don't mix in walks frequently enough. Hopper seems to be able to replace his missing walks with bunt singles for now, but I'm skeptical about his ability to do that consistently after the league has completely caught on. Hopper's stolen base success rate (68%) is on the negative value side right now, so that isn't really a plus for him either IMO (I admit that I am one who thinks that SB success needs to be above 80% to be useful because the rate ignores times picked off which is the hidden negative of the running game).

As I stated earlier, I wouldn't choose to play these guys over the other guys on the roster who play the same positions, but I wouldn't be overly concerned if a position went to one of them if the guy ahead of them was traded for a solid pitcher.

GAC
09-22-2007, 08:43 AM
Hopper and Keppinger aren't Rose, Carew or Cobb (who was actually a power hitter for his day).

I agree, and stated such above. My generalized point was not so much about Keppinger or Hopper but about players who hit for average, consistently produced, yet weren't known for drawing alot of walks.

It shouldn't be looked as a "negative" or downside on a player's overall abilites if they can consistently do so. And it has been done. It's not an aberration.

You need a certain "balance" on your team.

And I disagree that Cobb was considered a power hitter for his day. I realize it was the dead ball era, but in 24 years Cobb only hit over 10 Hrs/season twice in that span. I don't think it wasn't because he wasn't capable though. A common misconception about the dead-ball era is that it was due entirely to a scarcity of homeruns - However, home runs were also rare in the 1980's - a very high run-scoring decade. During the dead-ball era, baseball was much more of a strategy-driven game. It relied much more on stolen bases, hit and run plays and similar strategies than on home runs.



As I stated earlier, I wouldn't choose to play these guys over the other guys on the roster who play the same positions, but I wouldn't be overly concerned if a position went to one of them if the guy ahead of them was traded for a solid pitcher.

And I agree with you. Kepp may work out as a starter at 2B if they were to entertain trading BP for pitching. Or even trade Gonzo and move BP to SS.

Hopper IMO, is nothing more then possibly a solid utility player, and I hope he pushes Castro off this bench. But the player who I am keeping my eyes on is Cantu. he had a very solid '05, and was injury plagued last year. He could be a very solid "steal" by WK. But where do/can they play him at since he has been a 2Bman?

Does it open up further trade possibilities in the off-season?

But it's nice to be in the position we are right ow with this so-called "glut" in the INF. And again, I hope it does push Castro out of this dugout. ;)

RedsBaron
09-22-2007, 09:02 AM
Ty Cobb had 7 100+ RBI seasons and lead the AL in RBI four times. He lead the AL in slugging 8 times and in OPS 9 times. He lead the AL in HRs once. He lead the AL in total bases 6 times and in extra base hits 3 times. He lead the AL in doubles twice and in triples 4 times. For his day, in the depth of the dead ball era, Cobb was an elite power hitter.

mth123
09-22-2007, 09:07 AM
And I disagree that Cobb was considered a power hitter for his day. I realize it was the dead ball era, but in 24 years Cobb only hit over 10 Hrs/season twice in that span. I don't think it wasn't because he wasn't capable though. A common misconception about the dead-ball era is that it was due entirely to a scarcity of homeruns - However, home runs were also rare in the 1980's - a very high run-scoring decade. During the dead-ball era, baseball was much more of a strategy-driven game. It relied much more on stolen bases, hit and run plays and similar strategies than on home runs.

Career slugging % Ty Cobb .512, Carew .429, Rose .409.

Rose and Carew are examples of great batting average hitters. Cobb was an all around slugger, its just in his era, triples were the big hit and few HRs were hit by anybody. Cobb lead the league in slugging % every year from 1906 through 1912. He also lead the league in 1914 and 1917. He finsihed second in 1913, 1915, and 1918, 3rd in 1916 and 1921, 4th in 1919 and 6th in 1922. He was pretty much the top slugger in the game until Babe Ruth came along as an every day player.

Despite playing in the dead ball era Cobb is 72nd all time in slugging.

GAC
09-22-2007, 10:46 AM
Ty Cobb had 7 100+ RBI seasons and lead the AL in RBI four times. He lead the AL in slugging 8 times and in OPS 9 times. He lead the AL in HRs once. He lead the AL in total bases 6 times and in extra base hits 3 times. He lead the AL in doubles twice and in triples 4 times. For his day, in the depth of the dead ball era, Cobb was an elite power hitter.

I understand all that RB. I guess what I am getting at, and it probably falls in line with my "traditional" thinking, is that there is a difference, IMO, between what defines a power hitter.

Again - I could easily be off-base on this; but it's just how I, and many fans through the decades, perceive/define what a power hitter is. A solid SLG% CAN, but does not necessarily mean that a player was a power hitter (slugger). But maybe those are even two terms (power hitter/slugger) seen in a different light by others.

To me a power hitter is seen as someone who hits alot of Hrs. That has/was always seen as being a slugger. He hits for power. Cobb use to catch alot of slack from people during his time, and with the advent of Babe Ruth, that he wasn't a "slugger" or power hitter in the sense of a Babe Ruth, meaning, he didn't hit alot of Hrs.

In 24 seasons he had 117 Hrs, which was an average of 6/year. Now I'm not saying he was incapable of doing so because the game and it's strategy was different then.

But SLG % is comprised of total bases div by ABs. What was Cobb's SLG% "weighed" by?

So I guess what I am trying to say is - Is SLG%, and even RBI Totals and Total Bases, an indicator that one can be defined as a POWER hitter?

Or are we saying that HR totals alone does not define one as a power hitter. It's more inclusive.

KoryMac5
09-22-2007, 10:56 AM
...and remember. The REDS didn't start putting Kepp at SS until May, as they saw the potential of him being a utility player in the Majors, but without being able to "fill-in" at SS occasionally, he wouldn't be of much value to them. I don't believe he ever played SS in the Minors before May. It would take me a second to look it up, but I'm pretty sure this is the case, because I was looking at him back in May when they tried him there the first 2 games, hoping and praying that he could learn it quickly so we could see the end of Juan Castro.

Per C Trent from an article in the Post:

Instead of his versatility being a positive, it's been one of the things that hampered Keppinger's march to the majors. The tag given to him in the minors was that he didn't have a position. The Pirates drafted Keppinger, an All-American shortstop at Georgia, in the fourth round of the 2001 first-year player draft. Although he'd played a solid, if unspectacular shortstop in college, the Pirates put him at second base.

"Who decided a guy can't do certain things? I know when I first came to the Pirates, they decided I couldn't play shortstop, and I think I've done OK," Keppinger said. "You get labels in this game and sometimes it sticks."

GAC
09-22-2007, 11:10 AM
Per C Trent from an article in the Post:

Instead of his versatility being a positive, it's been one of the things that hampered Keppinger's march to the majors. The tag given to him in the minors was that he didn't have a position. The Pirates drafted Keppinger, an All-American shortstop at Georgia, in the fourth round of the 2001 first-year player draft. Although he'd played a solid, if unspectacular shortstop in college, the Pirates put him at second base.

"Who decided a guy can't do certain things? I know when I first came to the Pirates, they decided I couldn't play shortstop, and I think I've done OK," Keppinger said. "You get labels in this game and sometimes it sticks."

Usually the subjective opinion of some rash coach who gives a superficial observation without seeing the guy play or giving them a shot. The same kind of coach that took one look at a physical specimen named Billy Beane and said "Now that's a ballplayer!"

I was a victim of that mentality too, from Little League up through High School..... "He's too small". But once I got that shot and prved myself it was a different stroy. Yet at each level I kept facing the same "hurdle". It got tiring.

mth123
09-22-2007, 11:13 AM
Cobb HRs.

Year - League - # HR - League Rank

1907 AL-5-2
1908 AL-4-6
1909 AL-9-1
1910 AL-8-2
1911 AL-8-2
1912 AL-7-3
1913 AL-4-8
1916 AL-5-5
1917 AL-6-4
1918 AL-3-7
1921 AL-12-9

Lots of top 10 finishes.

BTW, IMO Power hitters are defined by slugging %. See earlier post.

corkedbat
09-22-2007, 11:33 AM
I'm all for trading Hopper or Freel if either would bring anything of valueand using the other as a reserve. I'm very doubtful either would bring much though.

I can't see having both on the same roster (though they probably will be). I'd much rather see them add a RH OFer with some pop as a 4th OF/PH.

RedsBaron
09-22-2007, 01:58 PM
To me a power hitter is seen as someone who hits alot of Hrs. That has/was always seen as being a slugger. He hits for power. Cobb use to catch alot of slack from people during his time, and with the advent of Babe Ruth, that he wasn't a "slugger" or power hitter in the sense of a Babe Ruth, meaning, he didn't hit alot of Hrs.

In 24 seasons he had 117 Hrs, which was an average of 6/year. Now I'm not saying he was incapable of doing so because the game and it's strategy was different then.



Cobb was already in his mid-thirties when the "lively ball" era arrived. He reached his single season peak in HRs at ages 34 and 38, with 12 each season. Most players not named B*rry B*nds will not have a peak HR season at age 38.
It's all speculation, but had the "lively ball" era come along a decade earlier, I expect that Cobb would've still been among the league HR leaders, but with a lot more than 12 HRs. Of course, one of Cobb's many less admirable traits was his stubborness-maybe he wouldn't have changed his approach to hitting. There is a story that one day before a game in the 1920s Cobb declared that he would try to hit HRs that day, and proceeded to hit three in a game. I do not know if the story is true.

HumnHilghtFreel
09-22-2007, 02:23 PM
Cobb was already in his mid-thirties when the "lively ball" era arrived. He reached his single season peak in HRs at ages 34 and 38, with 12 each season. Most players not named B*rry B*nds will not have a peak HR season at age 38.
It's all speculation, but had the "lively ball" era come along a decade earlier, I expect that Cobb would've still been among the league HR leaders, but with a lot more than 12 HRs. Of course, one of Cobb's many less admirable traits was his stubborness-maybe he wouldn't have changed his approach to hitting. There is a story that one day before a game in the 1920s Cobb declared that he would try to hit HRs that day, and proceeded to hit three in a game. I do not know if the story is true.

Sounds like Ichiro today. A guy that if he really wanted to, could hit 25 HR a year, but doesn't because it's not what he feels is needed from him.

Anyway, back to Hopper and Kepp:)

GAC
09-22-2007, 04:50 PM
Cobb was already in his mid-thirties when the "lively ball" era arrived. He reached his single season peak in HRs at ages 34 and 38, with 12 each season. Most players not named B*rry B*nds will not have a peak HR season at age 38.
It's all speculation, but had the "lively ball" era come along a decade earlier, I expect that Cobb would've still been among the league HR leaders, but with a lot more than 12 HRs. Of course, one of Cobb's many less admirable traits was his stubborness-maybe he wouldn't have changed his approach to hitting. There is a story that one day before a game in the 1920s Cobb declared that he would try to hit HRs that day, and proceeded to hit three in a game. I do not know if the story is true.

I am obviously no expert on the dead ball era. I consider myself a learning novice. RZ members like woy and Sandy need to be consulted. Or maybe rfs since he was there. :lol:

But was it labelled the dead ball era so much because of a "dead ball", or due other outside factors including engrained thinking leaning more toward strategy?

Jules Tygiel, in his book Past Time, wrote this about Henry Chadwick, and I think this approach to the game was pretty prevalent until the "advent" of Babe Ruth.....

Chadwick sought to make the game more scientific and "manly". He continually favored strategies that emphasized displays of skill, control, and intellect over those reliant on unbridled power. Chadwick repeatedly rejected reliance on the homerun over more "scientific" strategies for scoring.


And I think that was very prevalent in the game through the infancy of the game in the 19th century until a Ruth came along.

There is the famous incident in the early 1920s. Some writers challenged Cobb about hitting like Ruth. They mocked him saying he couldn't hit the long ball. Cobb responded by hitting like 6 HRs in a 3 game series. Afterwards he said, "but that ain't the way to play baseball."

Now whether that situation is true or not, that I don't know. I've read stories similar.

Another interesting aspect I've read about Cobb and his lack of walks was that pitchers didn't want to walk him. The SOB wouldn't stay at 1B, and would end up standing on 2nd or 3rd! :lol:

And pitchers would walk Ruth because one swing meant one run (at a minimum).

I saved this article awhileback. It's a good read IMO, and may be give you more of where I stand when it comes to defining what a power hitter is......

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG02/yeung/Baberuth/change.html

Changing the Game
The move from science to slugging


When Babe Ruth burst onto the national spotlight in 1920 with a 54 homer season, he knocked the baseball world flat on its back. During the 1900s and 1910s, pitchers dominated the game. Some of the greatest moundsmen graced the stage in the early twentieth century. Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander scuffed, sandpapered and spiked the baseball to enhance the movement on the ball. They smeared dirt, licorice and tobacco juice onto the ball so that hitters would have a difficult time seeing it as it approached the plate. A single ball was used for the entire game and it became progressively darker and softer as the contest wore on.
In a pitcher-friendly era, hitters studied the game intensely. Baseball became a science. There was a science to hitting, a science to base running and a science to winning. Players used "small ball" to score runs. Hits moved baserunners up one at a time. Sacrifice bunts were common. Teams coveted the fleet-footed because every stolen base moved the runner that much closer to scoring. Runs did not come in bunches. According to Ty Cobb, baseball was a "game of hit-and-run, the steal and double steal, the bunt in all its wonderful varieties, the squeeze, the ball hit to the opposite field and the ball punched through openings in the defense for a single" (Smith, p. 76).
The game of baseball was a game of brains, where skill can be acquired through intense study. Cobb was an exemplary figure in this era. According to Grantland Rice and other sportswriters, Cobb’s hard work and dedication was as important to his success as his raw skill. "Ty Cobb … the greatest offensive player of the game … saw that he was only a fair base-runner, so he went forth alone, to slide and practice by himself, hours at a time," Rice wrote. "He kept plugging at this art until he knew that he could handle himself around the bases" (Smith, p. 77).
Once Cobb set foot on the diamond, the mind was the key to his success. Players and managers needed to outthink their opponents in order to outscore them. Cobb believed that he played with "fine, scientific nuances" and that the most important thing during a game was to "scheme, scheme and keep scheming" (Smith, p. 76-77). Through all of his hard work, dedication and study of baseball, Cobb walked away from the game with the highest batting average of all time and embodied all the baseball values in the era of scientific baseball.
When Ray Chapman died following a Carl Mays beanball on August 16, 1920, the stage was set for Ruth’s arrival. New rules dictated that the umpire replace the ball once it showed signs of dirt or marks. Scuffing, spitting on and marking the ball in any way became illegal. Combined with a new ball manufacturing process that wound the yarn within the ball tighter, the batters began to gain the upper hand. Players could more easily see the ball and the it was less prone to erratic movement in the air. Once a player made contact, the tighter core bounced off the bat more potently. The "dead ball" era had ended.
Although the mechanics and physics of baseball may have changed, teams still focused on scoring one run at a time. The strength of the Babe, however, shocked the science of baseball at its foundations. Never had the game ever seen a players who could belt homers at such an alarming rate. Ruth’s 54 home runs in 1920 bested the home run total of all but one team that year. He followed that season up with 59 homers in 1921. The response from baseball scientists during those years was overwhelmingly negative. Traditionalists in Cobb’s mode thought Ruth was an aberration, a mere sideshow. He was not a good baseball player.
"As a batter, Ruth is an accident," an article in The Sporting News said. "He never plays inside baseball at the plate. He goes up trying to take a swing on every strike, a style that would cause any other player to be benched. He either knocks home runs or strikes out. Any man who strikes out as many times as Ruth did last year [1921] can never be classified as a great hitter" (Smith, p. 79). ( "That you Marty? - GAC)
Though critics did not want to admit it, Ruth was a great hitter. There was no denying that Ruth’s brute strength made him a threat to score every time he stepped up to the plate. Cobb hated Ruth because Ruth broke from the science of baseball.

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG02/yeung/Baberuth/images/ruthcobb.jpg
Babe Ruth (left) and Ty Cobb (right) symbolized the two different approaches to Baseball in the 1910s and 1920s: Science and natural ability.

He did not need the scheme and study. All he did when he went up to bat was try to hit the ball as hard as he could. Ruth did not need scientific baseball. "To our mind, Ty is the greatest batter who ever lived," Baseball Magazine wrote in 1921. "He was the supreme exponent of scientific hitting and science has a surpassing value in baseball just as in everything else. But every so often some superman appears who follows no set rule, who flouts accepted theories, who throws science itself into the winds and hews out a rough path for himself by the sheer weight of his own unequalled talents. Such a man is Babe Ruth in the batting world and his influence on the whole system of batting employed in the Major Leagues is clear as crystal" (Smith, p. 75).
As fans flocked to the stadiums to see Ruth’s untraditional style of play, people began to wonder whether slugging itself constituted a new strategy in the game of baseball. Home runs were no longer thought of as freak occurrences because other players followed Ruth and became home run hitters. Nonetheless, pitching great Christy Mathewson and the older players doubted whether slugging could replace scientific baseball as a winning baseball strategy. Mathewson believed that sluggers were too slow to make a difference on the base paths and were no threat to score if they did not hit a home run. Therefore, the pitcher was more at ease when a slugger was on base than a player with a reputation for stealing bases. Indeed, home run hitters decreased the importance of steals and strategic base running: "There cannot be any sort of sense in breaking a leg to steal a base when the giant at the bat is liable to make a four-base hit and chase the runner home ahead of him" (Smith, p. 76).
Others, however, began to find value in what Ruth was doing. Sportswriter Hugh Fullerton speculated that although slugging itself may not lead to wins, "the real baseball is the middle ground, the judicious mixture of real baseball and slugging, with the manager deciding when an how the batters shall hit" (Smith, p. 81). His language suggests a shift in "real" baseball strategy from pure science to a mixture of science and strength. Slugging was becoming a legitimate tactic rather than an aberration. Ruth’s impact on the game of baseball can be best summarized by a passage from a 1921 Baseball Magazine article entitled "The Home Run Epidemic": "Babe has not only smashed all records, he has smashed the long-accepted system of things in the batting world and on the ruins of the system has erected another system or rather lack of system whose dominant quality is brute force" (Smith, p. 79). With one mighty swing of his bat, Babe Ruth changed the way baseball was played. Cobb could only shake his head in disgust as his own star waned. "Given the proper physical equipment—which consists solely in the strength to knock a ball 40 feet farther than the average man can do it—anybody can play big league baseball today," Cobb said. "In other words, science is out the window" (Ward, p. 159).

RedsBaron
09-22-2007, 05:05 PM
I agree that Ruth was the innovator. Cobb in many ways perfected the then traditionalist way of playing baseball, while Ruth ignored tradition and showed a more effective way.
Had Ruth come first and established the tradition of HR hitting, Cobb may have had the physical skills to follow that path.

Chip R
09-22-2007, 08:49 PM
Career slugging % Ty Cobb .512, Carew .429, Rose .409.

Rose and Carew are examples of great batting average hitters. Cobb was an all around slugger, its just in his era, triples were the big hit and few HRs were hit by anybody. Cobb lead the league in slugging % every year from 1906 through 1912. He also lead the league in 1914 and 1917. He finsihed second in 1913, 1915, and 1918, 3rd in 1916 and 1921, 4th in 1919 and 6th in 1922. He was pretty much the top slugger in the game until Babe Ruth came along as an every day player.

Despite playing in the dead ball era Cobb is 72nd all time in slugging.


You're arguing with a guy who saw Ty Cobb play in person. :p: