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DonRocks

Mark Belanger (1944-1998), Baltimore Orioles Shortstop (1965-1981) - Winner of 8 Gold Gloves

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On 4/9/2014 at 1:22 AM, jasonc said:

Andrelton Simmons, 4.6 WAR in 2013.  UZR = 24.6.

Best defensive SS since Ozzie Smith.  Probably better when all is said and done.

Yes, but was he the best defensive SS since Mark Belanger? ;)

It's kind of sad when you win 8 Gold Gloves, and are only the second-best left-sided infielder on your team, arguably only the second-best defensive shortstop in your team's history (Luis Aparicio is more famous), and nobody even remembers who you are despite playing as recently as 32 years ago. (Of course, Belanger is (unfortunately) deceased, and also had a career batting average of something like .032.)

It's okay, Mark - *I* remember you. :)

What's interesting about Smith and Belanger (and no, I don't honestly think Belanger was as good as Smith) is that they both played very vertical - [brooks] Robinson and Simmons play more horizontally, if that makes any sense. Yeah, both SSs had excellent lateral range, but they just "looked" like they were playing up-and-down as opposed to side-to-side.

[BTW, I welcome people who grew up loving other teams to write about them and their players. All views welcome here, and the more information, the better.]

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On 10/29/2014 at 6:32 PM, DonRocks said:

Yes, but was he the best defensive SS since Mark Belanger? ;)

It's kind of sad when you win 8 Gold Gloves, and are only the second-best left-sided infielder on your team, arguably only the second-best defensive shortstop in your team's history (Luis Aparicio is more famous), and nobody even remembers who you are despite playing as recently as 32 years ago. (Of course, Belanger is (unfortunately) deceased, and also had a career batting average of something like .032.)

It's okay, Mark - *I* remember you. :)

What's interesting about Smith and Belanger (and no, I don't honestly think Belanger was as good as Smith) is that they both played very vertical - [brooks] Robinson and Simmons play more horizontally, if that makes any sense. Yeah, both SSs had excellent lateral range, but they just "looked" like they were playing up-and-down as opposed to side-to-side.

[BTW, I welcome people who grew up loving other teams to write about them and their players. All views welcome here, and the more information, the better.]

What Belanger and Brooks did, by virtue of being the best defensive left-side infield in history, was to turn lefties Mark Cuellar and Dave McLucky into all-stars.

If Cuellar and McNally played in, say, Boston, they would have been average pitchers at best and would have been beaten like piñadas on many days.

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On 12/26/2014 at 4:42 PM, Kibbee Nayee said:

What Belanger and Brooks did, by virtue of being the best defensive left-side infield in history, was to turn lefties Mark Cuellar and Dave McLucky into all-stars.

If Cuellar and McNally played in, say, Boston, they would have been average pitchers at best and would have been beaten like piñadas on many days.

Man, I was watching them back then.  I don't recall any of that detail.  I do remember Brooks and Belanger making great plays.  Did they make Cuellar and McNally that much better???   hmmm....I can't say I recall with that detail...and that sort of dampens my fond memories of a year with 4 twenty game winners.

Ah...but the poor memory.  I blame that on the National Bohs.   (I do fondly recall the Natty Bohs. They were cheap and plentiful.   :D    )

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On 12/26/2014 at 4:42 PM, Kibbee Nayee said:

What Belanger and Brooks did, by virtue of being the best defensive left-side infield in history, was to turn lefties Mark Cuellar and Dave McLucky into all-stars.

If Cuellar and McNally played in, say, Boston, they would have been average pitchers at best and would have been beaten like piñadas on many days.

I hadn't thought about this before, but one red flag came up instantly (actually two red flags - I'll get to them in a minute). Still, I thought I'd put this to the test:

First Full Season With The Orioles:

Robinson 58

McNally 63

Belanger 68

Cuellar 69

If your theory holds true, both McNally and Cuellar should have begun having better seasons in 1968 (the first year that both Robinson and Belanger played together).

Let's start with McNally: Here are his statistics.

Well, I'll be damned. Take a look at what happened to him starting in 1968. Chalk one up for Kibbee Nayee.

Now let's go to Cuellar (whose first season with the Orioles was 1969, but played for the Astros full-time in 1966 and 1967, so it's more complicated):

Here are his statistics. And I'll be damned again - look what happened when he came to Baltimore in 1969. Chalk another one up for Kibbee Nayee.

But!

Red Flag #1: Cuellar was a screwballer. What this means is that he was essentially a right-handed pitcher, the screwball being the exact opposite of a cuveball. So I would argue that he's not applicable.

And!

Red Flag #2: Before Belanger came, Luis Aparicio played full-time for the Orioles 1963-1967 - he won 9 Gold Gloves to Belanger's 8. What does this mean?

Was Belanger *that* much better than Aparicio?

Or was it because Frank Robinson came to town in 1966?

So unfortunately, what looked like a slam dunk for Kibbee Nayee's theory isn't quite so clean.

Yet: Frank Robinson doesn't explain McNally's drop in E.R.A. from 4.54 in 1967 to 1.95 in 1968. There's no doubt this is multi-factorial, but how much impact could Belanger replacing Aparicio have had?

This is why there is beer and arguments in bars.

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From the extensive article:

"Mark Belanger" by Frank Vaccaro on sabr.org

"In 18 years, he [Belanger] never dove for a ball, insisting that an all-out sprint was faster and maintained the mechanics of the play."

I remember reading this a couple of years ago, and thinking to myself, 'This just isn't true.' Well, here's proof:

 

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