African American Player Profile
Hank Aaron (1954-1976)
Hank Aaron, who just turned 78 on Super Bowl Sunday, hit 755 home runs over his 23-year career, the most ever by a player who did not take steroids. Surprisingly, he never hit more than 47 home runs in one season. Aaron accomplished his home run feat by hitting at least ten home runs in each of his 23 seasons and at least 20 in 20 straight. The fact that he hit 755 home runs actually causes people to overlook his other accomplishments. His 2,297 RBI rank him number one in baseball history and he also batted a solid .305 for his career, so he was not purely a contact hitter. He stole at least 15 bases in nine straight seasons from 1960-1968, which includes his 31 in 1963 to place him in the 30-30 club to go along with his 44 home runs. Aaron finished his career with 240 stolen bases, giving him another dimension outside of offensive prowess. Add in three straight Gold Gloves from 1958-1960, and you have a five-tool player. His only MVP came in 1957, when the 23-year-old hit 44 home runs, knocked in 132, and batted .322 in 151 games for the Milwaukee Braves.
Free Agent Signings
Nationals agreed to terms to bring back Rick Ankiel (9 HR, 37 RBI, .239 AVG, 10 SB, 2012 age: 32-33) on a minor league deal.
Dodgers signed Todd Coffey (5-1, 3.62 ERA, .244 BAA, 2012 age: 31) to a one-year, $1 million deal.
Mariners signed Hong-Chih Kuo (1-2, 9.00 ERA, .242 BAA, 2012 age: 30-31) to a one-year, $1 million deal (plus up to $1.25 million in incentives).
Mariners also signed Shawn Camp (6-3, 4.21 ERA, .303 BAA, 1 save, 2012 age: 36) to a one-year deal.
Cardinals agreed to terms with Alex Cora (0 HR, 6 RBI, .224 AVG, 2 SB, 2012 age: 36) on a minor league deal.
Yankees signed Manny Delcarmen (missed 2011 season, 3.97 career ERA, 2012 age: 30) to a minor league deal.
The Dodgers signed a solid seventh inning reliever in Todd Coffey. The 6'4", 240 pound righty has an interesting habit. When being called in from the bullpen, instead of walking or jogging, he sprints all the way to the mound. He has never been a frontline reliever, but having pitched in less than 57 games only once in his seven year career, he is very reliable. A native of the backwoods North Carolina community of Forrest City, Coffey debuted in 2005 for the Reds and gave them a 4.50 ERA through 57 appearances. He broke out in 2006, going 6-7 with a 3.58 ERA and eight saves in 81 appearances. 2007 did not turn as planned as his ERA bloated to 5.82 while he pitched in only 58 games. He missed significant time to injury in 2008 and ended up in Milwaukee by the end of the season after only 26 appearances. 2009 was his best season, where he posted a 2.90 ERA and .247 BAA in 78 appearances en route to the Brewers Unsung Hero Award. He still pitched in 69 games in 2010 despite a less effective 4.76 ERA, but rebounded after signing with Washington for 2011. In 69 appearances, his ERA dropped to 3.62 and he set a career best with a .244 BAA. Over his seven-year career, he is 24-18 with a 4.08 ERA and eleven saves in 438 appearances.
Orioles traded Jeremy Guthrie (9-17, 4.33 ERA, .267 BAA, 2012 age: 33) to the Rockies for Jason Hammel (7-13, 4.76 ERA, .270 BAA, 1 save, 2012 age: 29) and Matt Lindstrom (2-2, 3.00 ERA, .256 BAA, 2 saves, 2012 age: 32).
In my opinion, the Orioles won this trade. Guthrie is a solid three starter, while Hammel is a four or five starter and Lindstrom is a back end reliever. Jeremy was one of the Orioles' best waiver claims in recent memory, but he just does not match up to both Jason and Matt combined. Guthrie gives Colorado a solid starter to fit lead their montage of young, upcoming pitching. He had just one winning season in Baltimore and will now make the most of his chances in the Mile-High City. Beginning his career in Cleveland, he pitched in parts of three seasons from 2004-2006, but didn't get his first real chance until Baltimore claimed him off waivers in 2007 and he burst onto the scene. In 32 games (26 starts), the former missionary was 7-5 with a 3.70 ERA and .249 BAA. 2008 would be his best season for the Orioles, and despite a 10-12 record, he posted a 3.63 ERA and .242 BAA in 30 starts. 2009 ended up a disaster as he was just 10-17 with a 5.04 ERA in 33 starts. He returned to form in 2010, finishing 11-14 with a 3.83 ERA in 32 starts. Last year, his 9-17 record was one of the worst in baseball, but the 32-year-old posted a respectable 4.33 ERA in 34 games (32 starts). Over his eight-year career, he is 47-65 with a 4.19 ERA in 177 games (154 starts).
The Orioles acquired a reliable starter and reliever in Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. Hammel is an experienced pitcher out of South Carolina who has spent six years in the majors. His best came in 2009, the year after he was traded from Tampa Bay to Colorado, where he was 10-8 with a 4.33 ERA in 34 games (30 starts) in the tough Denver conditions. He was masterful on the road, going 7-5 with a 3.13 ERA away from Coors Field. Slipping back a bit in 2010, he was 10-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 30 starts. This time, he was masterful at home, going 7-2 with a 4.07 ERA in 16 starts at Coors versus a 3-7 mark and 5.71 ERA in 14 starts on the road. His record suffered last year, as he finished 7-13 with a 4.76 ERA in 32 games (27 starts). His 4.28 ERA away from Coors showed that he still has value. Over his six year career, he is 34-45 with a 4.99 ERA in 169 games (115 starts) fort the Rays and Rockies.
Lindstrom, and Idaho native, has had an up and down career that pushed back upward last year. Despite debuting at 27 in 2007 for the Marlins, his career got off to a solid start. In 71 appearances, the rookie was 3-4 with a 3.09 ERA in his first taste of big league action. His 3.14 ERA in 2008 pushed him farther back into the bullpen, leading to five saves by the end of the year. Taking over as closer in 2009, he could not convert, finishing with a 5.89 ERA despite 15 saves. The Astros picked him up and gave him a chance at closer, and he converted much more effectively. In 58 appearances in 2010, he saved 23 games and posted a 4.39 ERA for Houston. Joining the Rockies in 2011, he pitched well at Coors with a 4.23 ERA in 31 appearances, but dominated on the road, going 2-2 with a 1.71 ERA and both of his saves in 32 appearances. They evened out for a 3.00 ERA in 63 appearances. Over his five-year career, he was 12-15 with a 3.81 ERA and 45 saves in 312 games.
Brad Penny signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Japanese League. He had 119 victories in the U.S.
Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves
If your team is not included, please leave a comment.
HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. BAA: batting average against. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage