Who Got Robbed? 2008 NBA All-Star Snubs

The National Basketball Associations is loaded with exceptional players that do things on the court we as fans can only dream about.  So when the time comes for NBA coaches and fans to choose All-Stars, the 12 best (and fan favorite)  players in the league, there are bound to be some unlucky guys that don’t make the cut.  Here’s the Recliner GM’s take on the players that did, and didn’t get invited to New Orleans this season.

East Starters

West Starters

Jason Kidd – Guard

Allen Iverson – Guard

Dwyane Wade – Guard

Kobe Bryant – Guard

LeBron James – Forward

Carmelo Anthony – Forward

Kevin Garnett – Forward

Tim Duncan – Forward

Dwight Howard – Center

Yao Ming – Center

Who Should be Starting

Surprisingly I think we (the fans)did a good job picking the All-Star starters based on current season performance and potential entertainment value.  With that said there was one very noticeable slip-up.

Chris Paul – The clear mid-season MVPshould be making his first All-Star game as a starter.  Who would he replace?  Sad to say my beloved Allen Iverson.  AI does belong on the team as a reserve because he is having one of his most efficient season of his career, continuing to put up ridiculous numbers at his size. Chris Paul on the other hand is without a doubt the best PG in the NBA this year and the 2nd best guard (behind Kobe)overall.  Unfortunately for Paul a two main factors were working against him. 

  1. The Hornets weren’t expected to be this good this season therefore not much TV time scheduled to showcase his game.  
  2. Iverson has developed a cult like following the last 11 years that has spread far beyond the borders of Philadelphia and Denver.

Besides Paul I don’t have any qualms with any of the other starters.  But I am sure you guys do.  So make a case (in the comments) for another player you think should be starting (and who you would bench) and I will respond with my argument for the voted in player. 

On to the reserves…

East Reserves

West Reserves

Chauncey Billups – Guard

Chris Paul – Guard

Rip Hamilton – Guard

Steve Nash – Guard

Caron Butler – Forward

Dirk Nowitzki– Forward

Paul Pierce – Forward

Carlos Boozer– Forward

Chris Bosh – Center

Amare Stoudemire – Center

Antawn Jamison – Wild Card

Brandon Roy – Wild Card

Joe Johnson – Wild Card

David West – Wild Card

Who Should be on the Team That Got Snubbed

Luckily the coaches pick the reserves and not the fans, otherwise there would be a whole lot of upset NBA players.  Why?  We (the fans) are not always the most rational bunch especially when it comes to our favorite players.  That is the main reason you see Vince Carter being named a starter when his best playing days (aka playing hard every night) had passed him.  With that said…

The biggest All-Star game surprise addition that really shouldn’t be a surprise to you:

David West   Yes, the Western conference is stacked with forwards and this season West has been one of the best.  Although Chris Paul is the most impactful player on that team West has been a consistent force with his inside game.  19.6ppg, 9.4rpg and just over 1 block a night on the best team in the West means you’re an All-Star in my book.  Sorry Josh Howard who also deserved to make the team. 

 

Marcus Camby– I am with Charles Barkley on this omission.  I don’t know how much more I have to say (check the write-up & comments here) about this guy.  His impact and importance to the Nuggets team rivals both Carmelo’s and Iverson’s.  He is the best defensive player in the league and shouldn’t be penalized because the All-Star game is predominately an offensive display to benefit the fans.  Especially when one of the measuring sticks of a player is All-Star game appearances.  Sadly this makes sense because if Boston with the best record in the league doesn’t have 3 guys make it Denver surely should not either.  I think Camby deserves it over Melo considering Anthony’s scoring and shooting numbers are all down this season whereas Camby is having the best season of his career in rebounds and blocks.

Other deserving players:

Ray Allen – Question is do you give Boston 3 players?  If so Ray Allen should have made it over Joe Johnson for sure.

Josh Smith – If you’re going to put an Atlanta Hawk on the team I prefer Smith over Joe Johnson ALL DAY.

Baron Davis – Among point guards B. Diddy is 1st in scoring, 2nd in rebounding, 7th in assist and sports a respectable 3.0 assist/turnover ratio.  Come to the East and pick up where AI left off as an All-Star Starter.

Josh Howard – He was an All-Star reserve last season and has increased his scoring, rebounding and shooting %s this season.  So why isn’t he on the team again?

Deron Williams – Only thing I can really say is “sorry dude.”  There are way too many stud guards in the West.  Had AI not been voted in by the fans it would have been intersting what the coaches would have done.

Jose Calderon – He really just suffered from not being a starter all year.  Had he been the open day starter you’d be hard pressed not to pick him over Joe Johnson.

Hedu Turkoglu – He has surprisingly been better than Rashard Lewis this season, at a much cheaper price as well.  But I wouldn’t pick him over Butler or Pierce this season.

Tony Parker & Andrew Bynum – Got hurt and ended their hopes of running & gunning with the rest of the All-Stars.

Chris Kaman & Al Jefferson – Coaches rarely reward the bad teams.  Tough luck.

Manu Ginobili – TELL YOUR COACH YOU’RE A DAMN STARTER.   

Snubs or not we all know the game will be just as exciting as ever.  But there are only 12 spots and the coaches have an impossible job picking the 14 best players not chosen by the fans.  So which one of your favorite players got robbed?

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The Recliner GM’s COMPLETE NBA Mid-Season Awards

With the NBA season passed its midpoint I feel it necessary as a true Recliner GM to give out some accolades – and stir up some healthy debate.  With so much outstanding individual play I almost copped out and gave awards to both Eastern and Western Conference players.  That would have appeased way too many people (not the goal) and made for a post twice as long as this already is.  With that said, let’s start the debate.    

League MVP

NBA MVP AwardChris Paul– To me this is a no-brainer.  Paul is the best player on the team with the best record in the much tougher Western Conference.   This season he has clearly been the best point guard in the game, snatching the title from Steve Nash.  Paul has rejuvenated Peja Stojakovic’s career, brought out the best in Tyson Chandler and has developed a bond with David West that could blossom into a great partnership a la Stockton & Malone – but more fun to watch.  Combine that with his potentially historic stats (steals weren’t kept when the Big O played): 20.6ppg, 10.5apg, 2.6spg (2ndto LeBron in PER)all while shooting 48.4% from the field, and you have a player that embodies a dominant pass-first point guard.   Oh yeah and he’s only 22.  Besides all of that this pick will effectively rile up all the Kobe lovers, LeBron advocates and Boston faithful.

Honorable Mention:  Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Brandon Roy & Marcus Camby (yes, Marcus Camby)  

Rookie of the Year

Rookie of the Year AwardKevin Durant – I give this to him almost out of sympathy.  He was the only rookie with the entire weight of a struggling franchise thrust onto his shoulders in this draft class.  Has he lived up to the hype after his amazing freshman year at Texas? NO.  But how could he?  He is scoring a respectable 19.3ppg but shooting only 39.8% from the field and 28% from three.  I attribute his poor shooting to a terrible team which allows defenses to game plan only to stop Durant.  This leads to overall poor shot selection (mainly settling for too many jumpers)and forced shots as the team’s only true scorer and default go-to man.  With that said Durant has still made the biggest impact of any rookie, with Al Horford nipping at his heels.

Honorable Mention: Al Horford, Juan Carlos Navarro, Yi Jianlian

Defensive Player of the Year

Defensive Player of the Year - Marcus CambyMarcus Camby – So we all know about the blocks – 3.84blkpg & 5.24 blkp48m, leading the NBA easily.  But what goes unnoticed is that he rarely fouls out while playing such exceptional defense (2 DQ this season).  Meaning Denver gets his defensive presence on the court more often than other hackers/shot blockers in the league.  Need more convincing?  Probably not, but here’s some for the die hard KG backers (like myself); 1.40 BLK/PF (blocks per foul)probably the most overlooked stat for a shot blocker.  Camby is the only player over 1, and his current mark ranks 3rd best in the last 8 years.  24 boards and 11 blocks in a game, only one other player has done this or better in the last 20 years (1993 version of Shaq)!    

Honorable Mention: Bruce Bowen (really have to watch him play a lot to understand his impact since he doesn’t show up in the stats much), Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard

Most Improved Player

Most Improved Player AwardAndrew Bynum – You gotta love it when a big man plays the way a big man is supposed to – Catch & Dunk Everything.  That is exactly what Bynum was doing before the injury bug caught up to him.  This is also why Kobe had no choice but to change his tune and fall in love with the kid.  Numbers: 13.1ppg, 10.2rpg (would be 12th if he didn’t get hurt), 2.06blkpg (9th), 63.6% fgs (1st) all while only playing 7 more minutes per game than last season.

Honorable Mention: Al Jefferson (A Minnesota fan called me on this omission, so here I am correcting my slip up.  This guy definitely deserves mention as he often goes unnoticed on the struggling Timberwolves)Rudy Gay, Chris Kaman, Lamarcus Aldridge, Danny Granger (he has increased most of his numbers while playing the same # of minutes – only one of the bunch), John Salmons (of course he would get better in every statistical category AFTER Billy King trades him – he is shooting 51.5%!!)

Sixth Man

Sixth Man of the Year AwardManu Ginobili– Let me first confess I am not a Ginobili fan at all so this will be short.  I am, however, unbiased enough to admit he is by far the best non-starter in the NBA (which makes no sense considering he is vastly better than Michael Finley who would be a perfect bench player).  Manu provides instant offense, pesky defense and a consistent 3-pt threat to open things up for Tim Duncan.    

Honorable Mention: Leandro Barbosa, David (Please Trade Him Before He Rots on the Bench of a Horrendous Team) Lee, Jason Maxiell, Travis Outlaw, Jeff Foster (leads the Pacers in rebounding off the bench)

Coach of the year

Coach of the Year AwardNate McMillan– He has the young Trailblazers playing with confidence, chemistry and a winning attitude.  All things no one would have imagined once the bad news about Greg Oden was announced.  Portland exemplifies team basketball, an unselfish mentality typified by McMillan’s own playing career.  

Honorable Mention:  Byron Scott, Eddie Jordan, Doc Rivers (playing the Phil Jackson role)

Executive of the Year/Biggest Surprise

Kevin Pritchard/Portland Trailblazers – The biggest surprise of the season easily goes to the Portland Trailblazers.  Predicted to be 26th in preseason rankingsare not only in the playoffs ahead of Denver and Houston but are only a ½ game behind Utah for first in the Northeast Division.  Most of the praise for the team’s success has been spread between an emerging superstar in Brandon Roy, vastly improved Lamarcus Aldridge and the masterful coaching job of Nate McMillan.  But an overlooked piece of the team’s fortune this season is in the calculated moves made by current GM Kevin Pritchard.  He cleaned house getting rid of bad character guys, bad contracts and effectively created a team the Portland fans can like.  The best explanation of this strategy is by Bill Simmons who coined the term: Chemacterility (chemistry, character & (cap) flexibility).  Pritchard gets the edge over Danny Ainge because he created a successful and young team without the perennial superstars. 

Honorable Mention: Danny Ainge (I am a Philly fan so you can imagine I am not all that happy about all this Boston Celtic success.  But I can’t hate them as much as normal because Ainge acquired such likable superstars in Allen and KG.)

All-NBA

First Team (easy):
Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard

Second Team (tough):
Steve Nash, Allen Iverson, Carlos Boozer, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming

Third Team (nearly impossible to pick):
Deron Williams, Brandon Roy, Caron Butler, Dirk Nowitzki, Amare Stoudemire

 Recliner GM Originals

Most Visible Scrub of the Year

Kwame Brown – I’ve wanted to write something about Brown for some time now so I created an award just for him (how nice of me).  This isn’t going to be another Kwame bashing about his stone hands, inability to finish dunks & lay-ups consistently at 6’11, getting booed at home, being the player doing the least with the most talent (hint: he isn’t really that talented) or being one of the poster boys for NBA draft pick busts.  Instead it’s simply to point out that Kwame is NOT the worst player in the league, only the most noticeable and Sportscenter-highlighted below-average player in the NBA.

Step My Game Up in Place of an Injured Superstar Award

Antawn Jamison – 17.8ppg and 9.6rpg is what Jamison averaged before Gilbert Arenas got hurt.  After – he has averaged 22.2ppg and 10.9rpg, and Washington’s winning % is .600 compared to .375 in the first 8 games with Gilbert.  Jamison is somehow having a career year in his 10th season and is one of five players averaging 20 points & 10 boards.

Where the Hell Have You Been Award – Adonal Foyle

Please Stop Shooting (or shoot better) Award Larry Hughes, this guy is definitely in favor of this selection.

Fans Choice:

Why Would You Sign Him to Our Team Award – Chris Webber

Get This Guy Off Our Team Award –Stephon Marbury, if you haven’t already please enjoy.

Check out these NBA Mid-Season Awards from other bloggers:

There you have it.  If I thoroughly annoyed you with some of my selections or you just don’t agree, feel free to argue your players.  This post also serves as a measuring stick for when the real awards are given out at the end of the year.  But who cares – these are Recliner GM Awards.  Nothing else really matters.

C-R-A-P.

Johan Santana Traded to the Mets

I can’t write an analysis of this move without swearing.  I have nothing further to add. 

Welcome Pedro Feliz! Respectable Third-Baseman!

I was about to start writing up my analysis of the Phillies 3rd base position and I looked in disgust at the list of opening day starters the last couple years. Wes Helms, Abraham Nunez, David Bell. It took all my energy not to punch through my computer screen when I saw those three names written together. However, before I could write a single word, I checked ESPN.com for the 1,156th time today, and just my luck, we’ve signed Pedro Feliz! Now don’t get me wrong, Feliz is not the 2nd coming of Mike Schmidt or Scott Rolen, but he IS a significant upgrade at third base. Why?

  1. His name isn’t Wes Helms
  2. He plays not a good, but a GREAT defensive 3rd base. According the The Fielding Bible, he was the best defensive 3rd baseman in all of baseball last year. I don’t know much about how fielding metrics work, but I know The Fielding Bible is a very respectable resource, and if you are first, well, you don’t suck.
  3. He hit 20 HR and had 72 RBI while playing primarily in a pitchers park last year. In 2006, he hit 22 HR and had 98 RBI. With Dobbs getting ABs against tough righties, we suddenly have a good offensive tandem at 3rd.
  4. He does NOT have a great BA, and does NOT walk a lot (these are his 2 biggest negatives), BUT, he also does not strike out a lot (only 70 K in 557 AB last year) and this team desperately needs to lower the amount of strikeouts in their line-up.

Frankly, I love this move. He upgrades us both offensively and defensively, doesn’t strike-out a lot and hit .310 with runners in scoring position last year (.324 with RISP and 2 outs). He is exactly what we need, someone to help defensively and not make bad outs offensively, while providing some pop and RBI at the bottom of the order.

Here is what the projected 2008 Opening Day line-up looks like, in my opinion, easily the best in the NL

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Shane Victorino, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Pat Burrell, LF
6. Geoff Jenkins, RF
7. Pedro Feliz, 3B
8. Carlos Ruiz, C

Phillies Position Analysis: Short-Stop

Previous Analysis: C, 1B, 2B

Opening Day Starter (2003-2008)

     2008 – Jimmy Rollins
     2007 – Jimmy Rollins
     2006 – Jimmy Rollins
     2005 – Jimmy Rollins
     2004 – Jimmy Rollins
     2003 – Jimmy Rollins

2007 Recap

      It’s been fun doing the last 3 position analyses, because the Phillies are currently sporting their best 1B, 2B and SS in team history. If we had a 3B who could stand up straight, I might have been able to write a post arguing we have the best infield in major league history. 
       Before we get (briefly) into the Jimmy Rollins/Matt Holliday MVP debate, I want to point out where Rollins’ season ranks all-time among SS. Last post, I talked about how Utley COULD have had an all-time season, but in this case, Rollins DID.

Single Season Ranks All-Time Among SS

      Extra Base Hits – 2nd
      Triples – 2nd
      Runs – 3rd
      Total Bases – 4th
      Hits – 12th

      As for the MVP, there were many people who thought the Rockies’ Matt Holliday deserved the award. These people are not idiots, but I do disagree with them. Here are my 3 main points.

  1. Unique Season – Showing a rarely seen blend of power, speed and base running, Rollins was the only player in MLB history to have 200 H, 130 R, 30 HR and 40 SB in a season. He, along with Curtis Granderson, became the 2nd and 3rd players to ever have 20 HR, 2B, 3B and SB in a season.
  2. Coors Field – Both Holliday and Rollins played in hitter-friendly parks. When you look at them on an even playing field, the road, their numbers are not that much different. (Rollins’ numbers are on top, Holliday’s on the bottom)

AB

R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
369 70 108 25 9 12 47 28 50 21 5 .293 .352 .507 .859
309 53 93 22 1 11 55 35 68 7 3 .301 .374 .485 .859

          Rollins had 17 more runs, 15 more hits, 10 more extra-base hits, a higher SLG% and the same OPS. The only thing Holliday had him on was RBI, BA and OBP. Holliday’s SLG% on the road was 40th in the NL, behind non-MVP candidates Cliff Floyd, Kelly Johnson, Jayson Werth, Corey Hart, etc etc…

3. Intangibles – Rollins had 94 RBI from the LEAD-OFF position, he won a Gold Glove at a far more important defensive position, was one of the best base runners in the league and both teams finished with pretty much the same record. He also made fewer bad outs, with 41 less strikeouts and 12 less double-play balls (in far more ABs, mind you.)

You can make the case for Holliday, but the right man won.

 What We Need in ’08

          Jimmy Rollins has a way of creating expectations. Last year, after the can’t-miss acquisition of Freddy Garcia, he famously called the Phillies “the team to beat in the NL East.” Turned out he was right – about the 2nd part atleast. This off-season, he has already said that this team will “win 100 games” this year and that the new goal he has set for himself is to become “one of the greatest of all-time.” So for ’08? We just need Jimmy to be as correct in his predictions as he was last year.

SS of the Future? Rollins isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the best SS prospect in our system is Jason Donald. He hit over .300 with 71 RBI, 31 2B, 8 3B and 12 HR last year in 130 games in A-ball.

NL East SS Rankings

1. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
2. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
3. Jose Reyes, Mets
4. Yunel Escobar, Braves
5. Cristian Guzman, Nationals

Top 3 SS for MLB for ’08

1. Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
2. Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
3. Derek Jeter, Yankees

Top 3 SS 25 or under for ’08

1. Ramirez, Marlins, 24
2. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, 23
3. Reyes, Mets, 24

Best Season for a Phillies SS: Rollins, 2007 (.296 BA, 30 HR, 94 RBI, 38 2B, 20 3B, 41 SB, .531 SLG %, .875 OPS, Gold Glove, MVP)

Best Season Ever for a SS: Alex Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners, 1996 (.358 BA, 141 Runs, 215 Hits, 54 2B, 36 HR, 123 RBI, 15 SB, .414 OBP, .631 SLG%, 1.045 OPS)

A-Rod might have had better power numbers at short during other seasons, but this one is the best because he did things that at the time, no one had seen a SS, or a 20-year old, do before. This season revolutionized the position and showed that it was possible to be athletic enough to handle the toughest defensive position on the field and still put up great offensive numbers. At age 20, he won the batting title, while scoring more runs, hitting more doubles and accumulating more total bases than anyone in the AL.

The Man Behind the Biggest Draft Blunder In NBA History

The 1984 NBA Draft SeriesOne of, if not the, biggest drafting blunders in NBA history belongs to the Portland Trailblazers.  They selected the  7’1 Sam Bowie out of Kentucky ahead of Michael Jordan.  Ok, everyone knows that already.  But do you know who exactly was responsible for making that pick?  Or what that person’s criterion was for making such a horrendous error in judgment?
 


Meet Stu Inman 
In 1984 Stu Inman was director of personnel and was in charge of scouting and drafting for the Portland Trailblazers.  Inman was widely recognized around the league as a basketball genius, a savvy executive with a deep understanding of the game, especially evaluating players.  Other teams would literally track Stu Inman’s scouting activities and use rumors about which players he was interested in to gain confidence in their own personnel decisions.  With such high NBA prestige it’s clear why Portland left the future of the franchise in Inman’s hands.   He was charged with ensuring the #2 pick in the ’84 draft was used to springboard the Trailblazers into long-term championship success.

Having lost the coin flip to Houston, Inman knew Olajuwon, the clear choice for the number one pick, would be going to the Rockets, but there was no clear choice on which player to take at number 2.  Little did he know that, in retrospect, the choice was quite simple, and his decision would go down as arguably the greatest gaffe in NBA history.  Not only that, but Inman’s well-respected career would be tarnished by one draft pick while the impact on the franchise would prove devastating.Stu Inman (left) offers up a little NBA Draft perspective in the war room with assistant coach Jimmy Lynam (middle) and head coach Dr. Jack Ramsay (right).

So how did Stu Inman come to this earth-shattering and eventual pro basketball-changing decision? 

Consider the reasons for choosing Bowie that actually made basketball sense for the Portland franchise in 1984.

  1. Redundancy:  Portland already had very good depth at shooting guard.  Led by Jim Paxson a 6’6 sharp shooter with just enough quickness to create his own shot.  The previous season Paxson played 33.2mpg and averaged 21.3ppg on 51.4% from the field.  In the 1983 draft the Trailblazers selected Clyde Drexler with the 14th pick.  Although Drexler was still a work in progress, he was considered a slashing, high-flying 2-guard from his days playing for the “Phi Slama Jama” basketball fraternity at University of Houston.  From a scouting perspective this was a very similar playing style to that of Jordan.
  2. Unpredictability: Nobody could have forecasted that Michael Jordan would become the famed “Air Jordan” and all the success and dominance that followed that nickname.  Not even his college coach Dean Smith.  Why?  At UNC the offensive system was not conducive to individual showcase of talent.  That is a large reason why Jordan only averaged 17.7ppg & 5rpg in college and only 16.5ppg in 10 NCAA tournament games.  In that sense the “real” Michael Jordan was hidden from Inman’s keen scouting ability.
  3. Due diligence: As part of the evaluation process Sam Bowie was put through a rigorous physical.  The doctors meticulously examined Bowie’s surgically repaired shin fracture that kept him out of two seasons at Kentucky.  He was cleared.  Therefore Inman and the Portland medical staff could not have known Bowie would quickly become the man made of glass.  I am willing to bet Portland’s ownership and fans are praying daily Greg Oden doesn’t suffer the same fate.
  4. 1977 NBA Champions:  Portland’s only NBA championship came in that 1977 season when they were led by “Big Red-Head” Bill Walton.  Inman believed the only way the franchise would reach the promise land again was behind another dominating player in the middle.
  5. Formula for success: Very good-to-great big men win championships.  History has shown this wasn’t just a philosophy but a requirement for winning a championship.  Look at the previous 5 NBA championship team’s big man: 
    • 1983: Moses Malone
    • 1982: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    • 1981: Robert Parish & Kevin McHale
    • 1980: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    • 1979: Jack Sikma (7-time NBA All-Star) 
      Add the Russell/Chamberlain days to that short list of Hall of Fame centers (excluding Sikma) and that is more than enough to cloud anyone’s judgment.

The big question Stu Inman and the rest of his scouting staff couldn’t overcome was, “Where’s [Jordan] going to play?”  It was clear Sam Bowie would anchor the middle on defense for Portland and provide the team with a decent scorer and excellent passer in Jack Ramsay’s intricate offensive system. 

Maybe the deciding factor for choosing Sam Bowie was his performance against Houston and Olajuwon where Bowie grabbed 18 boards and scored 8 points while holding Hakeem to 14 points & 12 rebounds before he fouled out.

Convincing enough argument for you?  No?  Yeah, me either.  But, those realities created a distorted view of Michael Jordan in Inman’s eyes when evaluating him as a player. 

In hindsight the correct move for Inman and the Trailblazers was to sign & trade Jim Paxson and Clyde Drexler for a center rather than pass on the greatest player in the history of the NBA. 

The sad part for the Portland franchise is that the 1984 NBA draft wasn’t the first major miscue on their part.  In 1972, Portland with the #1 pick selected LaRue Martin (who?) ahead of number 2 pick Bob McAdoo and Philadelphia’s own Julius Erving picked 12th! But hey, that’s why there are no geniuses in basketball.

Other 1984 NBA Draft Posts

Inspiration, quotes, excerpts & main source: TIP-OFF: How the 1984 NBA Draft Changed Basketball Forever by Filip Bondy

Phillies Position Analysis: Second Base

Previous Analysis: C, 1B

Opening Day Starter (2003-2008)

           2008- Chase Utley

           2007- Chase Utley

           2006- Chase Utley

           2005- Placido Polanco

           2004- Placido Polanco

           2003- Placido Polanco

2007 Recap

           Chase Utley was the frontrunner to win the NL MVP award before John Lanaan got a little too excited in his first MLB start and popped him in the hand with a fastball. At the time, he was on pace for a historic season for a second basemen. Just how historic? Well, lets take a look – because that’s what I do in my free time.

            Had Utley continued on the pace he was at through 100 games of the season before his injury, and assuming he rested for about 5 games, his numbers would have looked like this: .336 BA, 125 R, 212 H, 65 2B, 5 3B, 27 HR, 130 RBI, 11 SB, .414 OBP, .581 SLG, .995 OPS, 367 Total Bases, 96 Extra-Base Hits.          

            When you look at single season records for 2nd basemen, the rankings usually consists of about 5-10 straight Rogers Hornsby seasons (more on him later) at the top, so you have to take that into account. Below are Utley’s would-be all-time single season rankings, with the number in parentheses representing his ranking if you only count Hornsby once. (Did that make sense at all?)

                     2B – 1st (1st, and 2nd all time, first since 1936 with 60 doubles)

                     RBI – 5th (3rd)

                     SLG – 11th (4th)

                     OPS – 12th (5th)

                     Total Bases – 7th (3rd)

                     Extra-Base Hits – 2nd (2nd)

               Essentially, Utley was on pace for one of the all-time great seasons for a second-basemen, behind only Hornsby and a couple Joe Morgan seasons from the mid-70s. He also might have been able to make a run at the all-time doubles record. Unfortunately, this can only be hypothetical because of that errant pitch that found the back of his hand.

What We Need In ‘08

                This is easy, no analysis needed: we just need Utley healthy. He is the best pure hitter on the team, and with the past two NL MVP’s residing in the same line-up, that’s saying something. He has rare bat speed, which means he can make up for timing issues that might put other players in a long slump. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll produce at a high level. I don’t think it would surpise anyone to see him bring home the city’s 3rd straight MVP award in 2008.

Second Basemen of the Future? Well, it’s clearly Utley, but the Phillies best offensive prospect in the minors also plays 2nd base. Adrian Cardenas, 20, has drawn comparisons to Utley because of his great bat. He is a couple years away and may be moved to a different position if he proves he is too good to keep off the field. He is definitely one to keep an eye on in 2008.

NL East 2B Rankings

  1. Chase Utley, Phillies
  2. Dan Uggla, Marlins
  3. Kelly Johnson, Braves
  4. Luis Castillo, Mets
  5. Ronnie Belliard, Nationals

Top 3 2B in MLB for ‘08

  1. Chase Utley, Phillies
  2. Brandon Phillips, Reds
  3. Robinson Cano, Yankees

Top 3 2B 25 or under for ‘08

  1. Cano, 25
  2. Howie Kendrick, 24, Angels
  3. Rickie Weeks, 25, Brewers

Best Season for a Phillies Second-Baseman: Utley, 2007 (.332 BA, 22 HR, 103 RBI, 48 2B, .566 SLG %, .976 OPS)

Best Season Ever By a Second-Baseman: Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals, 1922 (.401 BA, 42 HR, 152 RBI, 250 H, 141 Runs, .722 SLG%, .459 OBP, 450 Total Bases)

            This was just an obscene season by any measure. You think Utley played well this season? Even with the “would-be” Utley numbers, Hornsby had 22 more RBI, almost EIGHTY-THREE more total bases despite the fact Utley would have been chasing the doubles mark, about 150 points higher on slugging percentage alone, 20 more HR, etc, etc.

             Led the NL in 11 categories. 2nd most total bases in a season in the history of baseball. One of 2 players (Chuck Klein) to put up 150 RBI, 250 H and 140 Runs in a season, but Klein didn’t hit over .400 while doing it. As second basemen go, there is Hornsby, and everyone else. His single season ranks for 2nd basemen in the 1922 season are as follows:

  – Total Bases – 1st (the closest person not named Hornsby, Alfonso Soriano, is 69 back)

  – RBI- 1st

  – Extra Base Hits – 1st

  – Hits – 1st

  – HR – 2nd (Davey Johnson, 1973 hit 43 for the Braves. Bet you didn’t know that)

  – SLG % – 2nd (behind himself)

  – OPS – 3rd (he holds 8 of the top 9 spots in this category)

  – BA – 3rd (he’s also 2nd and 3rd)

  – Runs- 6th (His 1929 season, 156 runs, is first)

  – OBP – 9th (and 1st-3rd)