Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Willie Mays, Requiescat in Pace

Wins Above Replacement, all-time:

1.  Babe Ruth:  182.6
2.  Walter Johnson:  166.9
3.  Cy Young:  163.6
4.  Barry Bonds:  162.8
5.  Willie Mays:  156.2
6.  Ty Cobb:  151.5
7.  Henry Aaron:  143.1
8.  Roger Clemens:  139.2
9.  Tris Speaker:  134.9
10.  Honus Wagner:  131.0

Wins Above Replacement for players whose careers began after 1946:

1.  Barry Bonds:  162.8
2.  Willie Mays:  156.2
3.  Henry Aaron:  143.1
4.  Roger Clemens:  139.2
5.  Alex Rodriguez:  117.6
6.  Rickey Henderson:  111.1
7.  Mickey Mantle:  110.2
8.  Tom Seaver:  109.9
9.  Frank Robinson:  107.2
10.  Mike Schmidt:  106.9
11.  Greg Maddux:  106.6
12.  Albert Pujols:  101.4
13.  Randy Johnson:  101.1
14.  Joe Morgan:  100.6
15.  Carl Yastrzemski:  96.5
T16.  Eddie Mathews:  95.9
T16.  Phil Niekro:  95.9
T16.  Cal Ripken, Jr.:  95.9
19.  Roberto Clemente:  94.9
20.  Bert Blyleven:  94.5

Mike Trout is the highest ranked currently active player, with a WAR of 86.2.

For most of his career, Willie Mays was regarded as the greatest baseball player since Babe Ruth -- and some folks even ranked him ahead of Ruth.  Then he retired after a 1973 season in which he had looked old and frail, and Hank Aaron was the player who got the fame for breaking Babe Ruth's record for career home runs.  Aaron was a great, great player -- and modern statistical analysis bears that out.  But modern statistical analysis also confirms that the fans in the 1950's and 1960's were right.  Willie Mays is the greatest baseball player since Jackie Robinson initiated the modern era.  Yes, Bonds has 6.6 more wins above replacement ("WAR").  But Mays only played 34 games in 1952, and played no games in 1953, because he was in the Army.  He missed about 266 games because of his military service.  In 1954, his first full year back, he generated 10.4 WAR.  So I think it's safe to say that if he had played in those 266 games, he would have generated at least 6.7 WAR, and thus he would rank ahead of Bonds.

Now here's the thing:  I never saw Willie Mays play baseball, but I remember Barry Bonds very well.  He made the whole game look ridiculous.  Here were his WAR numbers from 2001 to 2004:

2001:  11.9
2002:  11.8
2003:  9.2
2004:  10.6

Now remember, when Bonds was playing at that level, he looked like a guy playing a video game.  He didn't seem real.  But if you look back at Mays's career, here are his WAR Numbers from 1962 to 1965:

1962:  10.5
1963:  10.6
1964:  11.0
1965:  11.2

It's absolutely crazy to me that anyone put up Barry Bonds-type numbers after 1947 without being Barry Bonds.  But Willie Mays did it.  No wonder they thought he was so great.

College World Series

With (an excellent) U.S. Open and (a really boring) NBA Finals out of the way, we can turn our attention to the last champion of the 2023-24 sports year:  the College World Series.  So far, it has been a thriller:

BRACKET ONE:
(4) N. Carolina 3 - 2 (12) Virginia
(1) Tennessee 12 - 11 (8) Florida St.
(8) Florida St. 7 - 3 (12) Virginia (Virginia eliminated)
(1) Tennessee 6 - 1 (4) N. Carolina

BRACKET TWO:
(2) Kentucky 5 - 4 (10) N. Carolina St. (10 innings)
(3) Texas A & M 3 - 2 Florida
Florida 5 - 4 (10) N. Carolina St. (N. Carolina St. eliminated)
(2) Kentucky 1 - 5 (3) Texas A & M

So Tennessee and Texas A & M are in the drivers' seats.  They get to take the day off and enjoy two elimination games.  I am very confident that the winner will be Tennessee, A & M, or UNC, but I don't know which of them it will be.

NBA Wrap-Up

One of the most boring playoffs ever hosted by the NBA has come to an end, and by the end only Celtics fans were still watching.  For the second year in a row, the NBA finals lasted only five games, and most of those games were not interesting (home teams listed first):

06/06/24:  Boston 107 - 89 Dallas
06/09/24:  Boston 105 - 98 Dallas
06/12/24:  Dallas 99 - 106 Boston
06/14/24:  Dallas 122 - 84 Boston
06/17/24:  Boston 106 - 88 Dallas

Remarkably, it has now been eight seasons since the last Game Seven in the NBA Finals.  This year, Boston did not even play a Game Six.  Over four rounds of the playoffs, the Celtics went 16-3 to capture their second title of the post-Larry Bird era.  That has to be one of the most dominant performances of all time.  But of course, last year Denver went 16-4, and this year the Nuggets couldn't make the Conference Final.  So it's too early to judge how great the Celtics really are.

Since COVID hit, we have had five different NBA Champions:

2020:  L.A. Lakers
2021:  Milwaukee
2022:  Golden St.
2023:  Denver
2024:  Boston

I don't think we've seen anything like this since the late 1970's:

1975:  Golden St.
1976:  Boston
1977:  Portland
1978:  Washington
1979:  Seattle
1980:  L.A. Lakers

Of course, that 1980 Lakers team marked the beginning of something new.  All we can do now is wait until next year to see if the Celtics (or the Nuggets) are more than just one-hit wonders.

Monday, June 17, 2024

2024 Music So Far: Featuring Vintage Culture

POST HUMAN: NeX GEn by Bring Me the Horizon



Model by Wallows



Lemon Cars by Coi Leray

Explicit Language



Promised Land by Vintage Culture


Vintage Culture is the project of DJ Lukas Ruiz Hespanhol.  It's the second album he's put out and I found this to be a solid listen.  The only real problem with this album is that it is too long at 16 tracks.  Really should have been a 10 to 12 track album and it would have felt much tighter.  No real bad tracks, but when you get to 16 tracks it is hard not to hit some lulls, especially on a DJ based albums that is really just a collection of songs.

That being said there is a vibe that carries through the entire album, so it does feel connected in that sense, but still at some point it starts to feel a bit long.  There isn't anything really original in the sound here and in fact he's borrowing heavily at times from The Weeknd.  

I would say each year I listen to maybe 4 or 5 of these DJ based albums and for the most part I find them to be fairly consistent.  All I'm looking for is a good collection of songs that have a good beat and can be used as part of a dance party, or workout mix, and this album succeeds at that.  

It's also nice in that there isn't explicit language on this album, so you can throw it on in the background and not worry about the language.  This of course means you can play it when you are cleaning the house, and it works for that purpose.  Not one my wife would go for, but if it's just me and the kids it could be a good one.  

Sunday, June 16, 2024

U.S. Open: Back Nine on Sunday

A couple of points to clear up.  First, I was wrong about Ludvig Aberg -- he is currently in a tie for 9th, seven strokes out of the lead.  Second, Pinehurst has done a great job of identifying great players.  Check out this leaderboard:

1.  B. DeChambeau:  -7 (64 holes)

2.  R. McIlroy (NIR):  -6 (65)

3.  P. Cantlay:  -5 (65)

4.  T. Finau:  -3 (67)

One of those golfers will win the National Open, and they are all worthy champions.