Sunday Notes: D-Backs Prospect Buddy Kennedy Has a Mentor in Money


Buddy Kennedy came two steps closer to following in his maternal grandfather’s footsteps this year. Splitting his first full professional season between High-A Hillsboro and Double-A Amarillo, the 23-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks infield prospect slashed a robust .290/.384/.523. Moreover, his right-handed stroke produced a 141 wRC+ and 22 home runs in just 406 plate appearances.

Don Money’s career high in home runs, which came in 1977, was 25. Himself a right-handed-hitting infielder, Money made four All-Star teams and put up a 106 wRC+ while playing with the Philadelphia Phillies (1968-72) and the Milwaukee Brewers (1973-83). Like his grandson, his primary position was third base.

A native of Millville, New Jersey — he and Mike Trout attended the same high school — Kennedy was Arizona’s fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft. Well before that time he was receiving sage advice from the family patriarch — advice that continues to this day.

“Ever since I was young he’s given me perspectives that most guys don’t have,” said Kennedy. “He helped teach me about the professional side of the game early on, so that I could go about my business the way I’m supposed to, instead of just going out there and playing without a purpose. He’s a great source. I love him. We sit down to talk baseball every time I get home.”

Keeping things as simple as possible has been a constant message. Money was a lunch-pail player prior to becoming to a minor-league coach and manager, and as Kennedy put it, “He’s kind of an old-school guy… and this game gets quicker and quicker each year. His advice is really valuable.”

Grandfather and grandson are similar in that their hitting styles are more gap-to-gap than power-oriented. At the same time, the game has changed since Money swatted the last of his 1,623 big-league hits.

“From his day to this day is little different,” said Kennedy. “He was straight up in the box — bat straight up — and just stepped into the ball. I’ll tell him that it’s different now, that a lot of guys, and a lot of teams, want launch angle; they want this, that, and everything. He tells me to keep it simple, to sit fastball and just react. He says that the best hitters have always done that, and if you hit the ball hard, good things will happen.”

Money played with some of the best hitters in the past half century. His teammates included Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Paul Molitor, Ted Simmons, and Robin Yount, as well as should-be Hall of Famer Dick Allen. For a young-baseball-fan-turned-fast-rising-prospect, stories about such icons are every bit as engaging as the hitting tips.

“He’ll talk about when he coached, and about when he played with guys like Rollie Fingers and Robin Yount,” related Kennedy. “It’s pretty special to hear about things like that from your grandfather. It’s definitely pretty cool.”

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Ken Boyer went 6 for 7 against Jim Hughes.

Dick Allen went 6 for 8 against Al Fitzmorris.

Tony Oliva went 6 for 9 against Alan Foster.

Maury Wills went 7 for 10 against Jack Curtis.

Jim Kaat went 7 for 10 against Bob Locker.

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Gil Hodges is on this year’s Golden Days ballot — results are to be announced tonight — and there is a real possibility that the Brooklyn Dodgers legend will finally be elected into the Hall of Fame. Should he be? My colleague Jay Jaffe recently addressed that question in great detail (that’s what Jay does), so I’ll withhold opinion and simply share an interesting comp:

Hodges: 1,921 hits, 370 HR, 121 wRC+, 42.1 fWAR, 8-time All Star.

Joe Torre: 2,342 hits, 252 HR, 129 wRC+, 62.3 fWAR, 9-time All Star, one MVP.

Why do I find the comp interesting? Torre was voted into the Hall of Fame by the then-named Veterans Committee as a manager, this after never receiving more than 22.2% of support when eligible as a player. In retrospect, that’s somewhat surprising. With the caveat that WAR isn’t the be-all and end-all for Hall-worthiness, Torre ranks higher than dozens of players who have been inducted.

Again, I’m not opining that Hodge should, or shouldn’t, be voted into the Hall of Fame as a player. What I’m saying is that Torre arguably should have been. The lack of respect he got from BBWAA voters has long perplexed me.

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Early Baseball-balloting results will also be announced tonight, and that was among the topics touched upon by the co-guests on this week’s episode of FanGraphs Audio. ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer cited Buck O’Neil as the most deserving of the candidates, and Texas Rangers broadcaster Matt Hicks was in complete agreement.

“What is it called?” Hicks asked rhetorically. “It’s called the Hall of Fame. It’s the Hall of famous people in the game, and Buck O’Neil, to me, is right there near the top. Every year when people are considering people [for] the Hall of Fame, you bring up the statistics; there are certain parameters for making it into the Hall of Fame as a player. Those parameters need to be met, but was the player famous? Did that player, or individual, have an impact on the game that brought him fame?… Buck O’Neil definitely belongs.”

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A quiz:

Cy Young (511) has the most wins among pitchers born in the state of Ohio. Which native of the Buckeye State has the second-most wins?

The answer can be found below.

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NEWS NOTES

Per multiple reports, Sara Goodrum will be joining the Houston Astros as their new Director of Player Development. The 28-year-old University of Oregon alum has spent the past five years with the Milwaukee Brewers, most recently as the organization’s Minor League Hitting Coordinator.

Barry Enright has been hired as Assistant Major League Pitching/Minor League Pitching Coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 35-year-old former big-league right-hander was the pitching coach for the Low-A Visalia Rawhide this season.

The Cincinnati Reds hired Joel McKeithan as their new Assistant Hitting Coach/Offensive Coordinator. The 30-year-old Vanderbilt product was a minor league hitting coordinator for the Detroit Tigers last season.

Gary Jones has been named the new manager of the Toledo Mud Hens, the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The 61-year-old, longtime minor league coach and manager has spent the last four years with Philadelphia’s Triple-A club.

Baseball America has named Chris Widger its Minor League Manager of the Year. The 50-year-old former big-league catcher was at the helm for the Quad Cities River Bandits, the High-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals.

LaMarr Hoyt, who pitched for the Chicago White Sox from 1979-1984, and for the San Diego Padres from 1985-1986, died earlier this week at age 66. Hoyt captured the American League Cy Young Award in 1983 after going 24-10 with a 3.66 ERA.

Don Demeter, an outfielder for five teams from 1956-1967, died earlier this week at age 86. Originally with the Dodgers, Demeter had his best season with the Phillies — 29 home runs and a 131 wRC+ in 1962 — before being dealt to Detroit on December 5, 1963. Jim Bunning went to Philadelphia as part of the four-player trade.

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The answer to the quiz is Roger Clemens, who was born in Dayton. He had 354 wins. Phil Niekro (Blaine, Ohio) has the third-most wins, 318.

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Will the Detroit Tigers be signing more big-name free agents once the lockout ends? Based on something Chris Ilich said in Javier Báez’s introductory press conference, the answer to that question could very well be yes.

“I would encourage you to ask Al what the going-forward plans are,” said the club’s owner and CEO. “Obviously, I’m supportive of our plans as an organization. I’m very pleased with what we’ve accomplished to date.”

Asked to follow up on his boss’s comments, Avila said, “We still have work to do,” adding that “It doesn’t stop with this move here.”

Make of that what you will.

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Masahiro Tanaka has elected not to exercise his opt-out clause and will return to the Rakuten Eagles next year. The 33-year-old right-hander went 4-9 with a 3.01 ERA with the NPB club after seven seasons with the New York Yankees.

Freddy Galvis has reportedly agreed to sign with NPB’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The 32-year-old Venezuelan-born infielder has played in 1,102 MLB games, 674 of them with the Philadelphia Phillies.

DJ Peters is reportedly close to signing with the KBO’s Lotte Giants. The 25-year-old outfielder played with both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers this season, putting up a 79 wRC+ and homering 13 times in 240 plate appearances. (per Daniel Kim.)

John Lott has been named the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2021 Jack Graney Award, which is presented annually to a member of the media who has made significant contributions to baseball in Canada through their life’s work. More information can be found here.

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I ran the following Twitter poll following Wednesday night’s announcement that MLB’s owners have instituted a lockout:

Both will need to bend in order for a compromise to be reached. That said, which side do you support in this standoff?

The results weren’t close. Of the 500-plus people who voted, an overwhelming 89.8% sided with the players. Only 10.2% sided with the owners. (One voter shared that he voted owners by accident, thus the fractional discrepancy from what’s visible on Twitter.)

It’s no secret that a meaningful majority of fans are firmly behind the MLBPA in this dispute. The extent to which the owners, and the Commissioner’s Office that stands in their collective corner, cares about this is another question entirely.

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

The first broadcasts of Negro League games were in 1942. Donna L. Halper has the story at Radio World.

At The Daily Herald, Mark Gonzales wrote about how Cade McNamara’s switch from baseball to football has turned out well for the University of Michigan.

Federal Baseball’s Patrick Reddington wrote about how Carter Kieboom needs to show the Washington Nationals that he can make the necessary adjustments to produce consistently at the major league level.

At The Score, Travis Sawchik shared how Rob Manfred’s letter ought to be a call for players to dig in.

The Athletic’s Jayson Stark weighed in on baseball’s labor fracas, including the fact that, per Manfred, MLB hasn’t made specific rule-change proposals to the players.

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Robbie Ray had 218 strikeouts, 71 walks, and 24 home runs allowed in 2016. He had 218 strikeouts, 71 walks, and 23 home runs allowed in 2017. His ERA in 2016 was 4.90. In 2017 it was 2.89.

Ian Kinsler homered in his final big-league plate appearance, one half inning after throwing a scoreless inning in his only big-league pitching appearance. A member of the San Diego Padres at the time, Kinsler finished his 14-year career with 1,999 hits and 47.7 WAR.

Eric Hosmer had 37 productive outs (an out that advanced a baserunner) and 43 non-productive outs (an out that could have advanced a baserunner, but didn’t) this season. Hosmer’s 46.7 productive-outs percentage was nearly double that of the average hitter, which was 23.5%. (Per the 2022 Bill James Handbook.)

The Los Angeles Dodgers used 19 starting pitchers this year. The 1966 Dodgers used five: Sandy Koufax (41 starts), Don Drysdale (40), Claude Osteen (38), Don Sutton (35), and Joe Moeller (8). Sutton, a rookie in 1966, threw 200-plus innings in 20 of his first 21 seasons. The Hall of Famer was limited to 158-and-two-thirds innings in 1981’s strike-shortened campaign.

The Philadelphia Phillies signed Pete Rose to a free-agent contract on today’s date in 1978. The 37-year-old had 3,164 career hits at the time, all with the Cincinnati Reds. Rose went on to log 1,092 more hits before hanging up his spikes following his age-45 season.

The Montreal Expos traded Mike Marshall to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Willie Davis on today’s date in 1973. Marshall proceeded to pitch in an MLB-record 108 games in 1974, working 208-and-a-third relief innings and being credited with 15 wins and 21 saves. Marshall won the NL Cy Young Award.

Players born on today’s date include Snake Wiltse, who pitched for four teams from 1901-1903. Born Lewis DeWitt Wiltse, the southpaw was the older brother of George Leroy “Hooks” Wiltse, who pitched for the New York Giants from 1904-1914, and for the Federal League’s Brooklyn Tip-Tops in 1915.

Also born on today’s date was Stu Flythe, whose career comprised 17 appearances with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1936. The right-hander from Conway, North Carolina walked 61 batters, threw 16 wild pitches, and had a 13.04 ERA in 39-and-a-third innings. Flythe’s 13.96 BB/9 is the highest in MLB history among pitchers to throw at least 20 innings. If you lower the bar to 10 innings, Flythe ranks fifth. Of the four pitchers in front him, three also played for the Athletics, while the other played for the Philadelphia Phillies.



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