“A man has to have goals – for a day, for a lifetime – and that was mine, to have people say, ‘There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.’”
— Ted Williams
Whether you call them benchmarks, resolutions, or ‘to do list,’ personal goals exist in life as we live it. A lollygagger by nature, my ‘to do list’ says to finish this article while there’s no real baseball news.
Each baseball player probably began working on 2017 season goals early in the offseason. At some point in time, the goals are mentally set, later to be verbalized to family, clubhouse and occasionally to the media. Of course, the fans know little about players’ personal goals, but once in awhile statements will surpass the standard line of “do my best to contribute to the team.”
Since Bryce Harper’s ‘Where’s my ring?’ comment, I can’t remember a player mentioning the World Series during the offseason – until now.
I should point out that Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference have little place in these virtual ponderings. Rather, they’re based more on a Yogi Berra quote:
“Baseball is 90 percent mental and the other half is physical.”
Let’s get mental.
#OnePursuit was the Washington Nationals favorite #hashtag in 2016, although few players, coaches or fans were willing to publicly dwell on the World Series as more than a general goal. After the disappointments of 2015, it seemed ‘unseemly’ to even whisper ‘WS or bust.’ Early on though, Chris Speier let the cat out of the bag by saying he joined the team in order to win a ring for Dusty Baker. Win one for the gipper? Sorry, wrong sport. Personally, I don’t care if Baker gets a ring. I do care that the Washington Nationals should win a World Series. That’s not a fine line of distinction – it’s the whole package of parts – owner, front office, coaches, players – coming together and doing their best at the same time. And fans. Don’t forget the fans, particularly the enthusiastic turnout for the NLDS. The players challenged the fans to be passionate and the fans delivered. Hopefully, the #OnePursuit hashtag will continue this year – unless it’s changed to #NatsWSorBust.
Mike Rizzo is hardly, if ever, good for a quote. Example:
“We have a strategy and a plan in place where we want to be viable and competitive for the long haul and the only way to do that is to scout well, develop well, put in a good strategy, have a good process and do deals that make sense.”
Yes, sir, Mr. Rizzo, all that talk about the long haul is good strategy, but we can guess you’d like a ring sometime before Andrew Friedman gets one. Go for it this year, please.
Dusty Baker provided the only publicized team goal – win 15 games per month. My first thought was that 90 wins wouldn’t guarantee the team a playoff spot – only that Baker wouldn’t be fired for mismanagement. Actually, only 88 wins would have taken the NL East and 92 would have given home field advantage versus the Dodgers. Strangely, sometime after the 95 win season, Baker commented that his personal goal had been to win over 100 games. A la Maddon? No, not necessarily. Baker won 103 games as a rookie manager with the Giants. Methinks Baker was implying that the 95 wins should be improved on in 2017.
Max Scherzer. First, let’s remember a few details. (I apologize for this short lapse into Baseball-Reference.) With Clayton Kershaw’s return to the mound on September 3, he was 11-3 and well behind in other stats. Scherzer was 16-7. No contest there for the Cy Young. Stephen Strasburg got hurt on September 7th making the team dynamics wobble and then stagger when Wilson Ramos went down on September 26th. Scherzer started the game on September 27th (19-7). At the same time, Jon Lester was 19-4. Only a deaf/dumb/blind curling fanatic would not imagine that Scherzer (and ownership) wanted a Scherzer NL Cy Young. Jon Lester pitched October 1st – 19-5. Scherzer pitched on October 2nd (thereby infuriating Steve Mears and a wide range of fans) making his regular season record 20-7 and wrapping up the Cy Young with the most W, SO, IP, GS and lowest WHIP – without mentioning the 20K Tigers game. Now we ask you Mr. Scherzer, just what are you planning for 2017?
In 2014, when Denard Span stole his 30th base, if I remember correctly, F.P. Santangelo mentioned during the game that Span had reached a personal goal for the season. I have no recollection of hearing a similar report since then about any individual player. Sure, Jayson Werth hit his 200th HR in 2016, but golly, he started the season with 198. F.P., if you are reading this, we expect more reports on players’ goals this year.
MLB has obviously changed one goal for the 2017 season. No longer will the All Star Game determine home field advantage for the World Series. ASG players will now have a pool of money for the incentive to win. That’s a limited goal – one game only. WS home field advantage will go to the pennant winner with the better regular season record. This brings us full circle to Dusty Baker’s winning ‘over 100 games’ comment. A monthly win rate of 17 finishes the season at 102.
On the other hand, if you believe a financial carrot should/would/could lead the team, take a look at the postseason money.
2016 Postseason from usatoday.com – The players’ pool was a record total of $76,627,827.09, eclipsing last year’s $69,882,149.26. Breakdown by club, share of players’ pool and value of each full share:
–CHICAGO CUBS: $27,586,017.75; value of each of full share: $368,871.59.
–CLEVELAND INDIANS: $18,390,678.50; value of each of full share: $261,804.65.
–LOS ANGELES DODGERS: $9,195,339.25; value of each of full share: $123,741.24.
–TORONTO BLUE JAYS: $9,195,339.25; value of each of full share: $123,045.09.
–BOSTON RED SOX: $2,490,404.38; value of each of full share: $33,761.22.
–SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: $2,490,404.38; value of each of full share: $36,443.03.
–TEXAS RANGERS: $2,490,404.38; value of each of full share: $38,422.69.
–WASHINGTON NATIONALS: $2,490,404.38; value of each of full share: $35,442.68
–BALTIMORE ORIOLES: $1,149,417.41; value of each of full share: $18,351.02.
–NEW YORK METS: $1,149,417.41; value of each of full share: $17,951.65.
Stay healthy, play smart, and win 17 games a month. Goals.