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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rick Sutcliffe Really Should Not Talk. Ever. Again.

During last night's game between Boston and Tampa Bay on Wednesday Night Baseball, former Dodgers 1st Round Pick and Cy Young Award Winner (and keep in mind Bartolo Colon holds the latter distinction as well) Rick Sutcliffe was talking about recent HOF inductee and former Dodger Rickey Henderson. Sutcliffe was wondering aloud whether there were any current players who compared to the greatest leadoff hitter the game has ever seen. His conclusion: the Rays' Carl Crawford and Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury.

Before we move on, let's reminisce at some of the finer work of Mr. Sutcliffe (looked for video, found that video has been removed after copyright claims from MLB).

While it is obviously unfair to compare a player, or in this case two, to one of the greatest and most unique players in the history of the sport, let's play along for fun. Henderson combined power, speed, and elite on-base skills to become the HOFer he rightly is. With Crawford and Ellsbury only 28 and 25, respectively, their careers are far from over, so let's limit ourselves to Henderson's seasons at age 27 and 24 to compare him to CC (at 27) and JE (at 24) during their 2008 seasons.


*Numbers from Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.*

Rickey - 1986 Season, Age 27, New York Yankees, CF

Games: 153
OBP: .358
: 125

Total Bases
: 28

: 89

: 87

: .384

: 12.8%

: .206

Crawford - 2008 Season, Age 27, Tampa Bay Rays, LF

: 109

OBP: .319
OPS+: 87
Total Bases: 177
HR: 8
BB: 30
SB: 25
wOBA: .319
BB%: 6.3%
ISO: .126

Rickey- 1983 Season, Age 24, Oakland A's, LF

: 145

OBP: .414
OPS+: 139
Total Bases: 216
HR: 9
BB: 103
SB: 108
wOBA: .407
BB%: 16.7%
ISO: .129

Ellsbury - 2008 Season, Age 24 , Boston Red Sox, CF

: 145
OBP: .336
OPS+: 87
Total Bases: 218
HR: 9
BB: 41
SB: 50
wOBA: .333
BB%: 6.9%
ISO: .114


Crawford has a career OBP of .334, an OPS+ of 103, and a BB% of 5.2%. Ellsbury's career OBP is .348, his OPS+ is 95, and his BB% is 6.8%.

While both Crawford and Ellsbury have time to grow and mature as players, will they really get that much better, Rickey Henderson better? No. No. Never. Their ceilings are somewhere between a poor man's Rickey Henderson and a poor, poor, destitute man's Rickey Henderson. The three should not be compared, as the only similarities between the three is that they're OFs, fast, have cool names, and during the seasons used above, played in the American League.


Rickey put up a career line of .279/.401/.419/.820 with:

Total Bases: 4588
HR: 297
BB: 2190
SB: 1406
Runs: 2295
Hits: 3055
Doubles: 510
XBH: 873
wOBA: .386
BB%: 16.7 %
wRC: 2218.4 (Runs Created based off of wOBA)
wRAA: 654 (Runs Above Average based off of wOBA)

He did all of this over 25 Seasons and 3081 Games . There almost certainly will never be another player to put on a major league uniform and come even close to what the great, legendary, recently inducted HOF Rickey Henderson did over his outstanding career.


  1. Sutcliffe says ridiculous things like that almost every game. I find him more painful to listen to than other announcers who are ripped far more frequently (Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan, etc.)

    He's also full of baseball platitudes -- I hear the "these guys just go out and get it done," kind of stuff every time.

    It's embarrassing because he was a Dodger.

  2. I wish they were all fired, to be honest. And I hate when they say things like "go out and get it done" and "he's a ballplayer".

    No shit he's a ballplayer, they're all ballplayers!

    I'm so glad I wasn't alive when he was a Dodger.

    Oh, and thanks for giving this post some love!