Baseball’s Forgotten HOF Candidates: Part 2

Welcome back Interwebs, this is Lucas Kinser with the second in a ten-part piece on players who should get a second look by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

One revision I’ve decided to make is that the players analyzed must have never reached 25% in the Baseball Writers’ voting, meaning they barely even had a chance. As I got some negative feedback from my Bobby Bonds column, I’d like to remind you that these men aren’t slam dunks by any means. I just feel they didn’t receive enough credit for their successful careers and should at least get a second look by the Veterans’ Committee.

Next up is a backstop that quietly spend more than 20 seasons racking up Hal-worthy numbers:

Ted Simmons

  • Spent 21 seasons with three teams
  • Played most of his career as a catcher
  • Highest percentage received: 3.7% in 1994

Traditional Career Offensive Stats:

Despite playing more than 1,700 games at catcher, a position not often occupied by solid hitters, Simmons posted a career .285 average with 248 home runs and 1,389 RBI. His closest Hall-of-Fame contemporary, Carlton Fisk, was very comparable in his career, batting .269 with 376 HRs and 1,330 RBI.

A patient hitter as well, he drew 855 career walks while striking out just 694 times, helping lead to a .348 career on-base percentage. Among catchers with at least 200 home runs from 1968-88, he is the only one with more walks than strikeouts.

And he even matches up favorably to the rest of Cooperstown’s backstops throughout history, scoring more runs than Gary Carter, hitting more homers than Roy Campanella and smacking more doubles than any of the 13 catchers in the Hall (483).

Traditional Single-Season stats/honors:

During his prime with St. Louis, Simmons posted some seasons that were elite not just by catchers’ standards. From 1971-80, he ranked in the top five in baseball in hits (1,631), doubles (324) and RBI (903), pacing all catchers in the first two categories and trailing only Johnny Bench in RBI. But while Bench had “The Big Red Machine” to support him in the lineup, Simons was driving in guys like Bake McBride, Reggie Smith and Ted Sizemore (as well as Lou Brock for the sake of full disclosure).

While he never led the league in any major offensive category, he did consistently rank in the top ten in average (six times), doubles (eight), RBI (six) and intentional walks (seven). His success is evident in his eight All-Star selections and three times being among the league’s top ten vote-getters for the MVP award.

Sabrmetric Stats:

A key contributor for multiple teams, Simmons’ consistent success is shown through many Sabrmetric categories. For one, he posted 12 seasons with a Wins Above Replacement number of three or better, meaning he played well enough to be a starter on most any team in the sport.

Among all catchers to play the game, his career 50.3 WAR ranks 10th, ahead of Hall of Fame backstops Ernie Lombardi, Roger Bresnahan, Roy Campanella, Rick Ferrell and Ray Schalk, while sitting very close to Mickey Cochrane (52.0), Gabby Hartnett (53.4) and Bill Dickey (55.9).

Beyond WAR, he posted an even more impressive Win Probability Added (the number of wins or loses the player provided his team over his career), ranking second all-time among catchers behind Mike Piazza with 30.15. But this will be elaborated on in the Postseason section.

Fielding Stats:

Never considered an elite fielder, Simmons’ numbers show he was fairly competent behind the plate. He possessed a fairly average arm, allowing 1,188 stolen bases in 1,771 career games behind the plate. But he covered a lot of ground, ranking among the top five in range factor in five different seasons while pacing the AL in fielding percentage in 1982. It also bears mention that despite playing in the 14th-most games at catcher, he ranks outside the top 100 in errors, averaging one every 13 or 14 games.

Postseason Stats:

A product of joining St. Louis at the end of the 1960s dynasty, Simmons made just two appearances in the postseason, both with Milwaukee in 1981 and ’82. While he batted a dismal .174 in the 1982 World Series, he did launch a pair of homers in games 1 and 2 of the classic.

And while some could hold it against Simmons that could rarely lead his team to the postseason, it should be noted that the stellar 30.15 WPA shows he was a pivotal member of those clubs. He wasn’t the reason for the lack of success; it was the poor pitching (allowing 600 or more runs in every season of the 1970s).

Diagnosis:

There is a gap in the Hall of Fame that needs to be filled. Of the 13 catchers in the Hall of Fame, only three retired after 1980 (Bench, Fisk and Carter). More may well be coming in the future, but it feels like the voters went light on a position that is often overlooked. Simmons, however, transcends the stereotypes of offensively-anemic catchers, ranking favorably among his three contemporaries, as well as his entire era. The Veterans’ Committee should give this man a serious look when the Expansion Era candidates are voted on for the Class of 2014.

Thanks for reading my blog. Please follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser and keep an eye on my blog for parts 3-10. Until then, goodnight and have a great week!

Baseball’s Forgotten HOF Candidates: Part 1

Good day my beloved readers, this is Lucas Kinser with the first of a ten-part piece on players who should get a second look by the Baseball Hall of Fame. As there are far more than 10 in total who could make a legitimate argument, I’m narrowing down the list to offensive players who are no longer on the ballot.

My goal is to lay out a comprehensive argument featuring the pros and cons for each player’s induction using data collected from baseball-reference.com, in my opinion the best source for both standard and sabrmetric statistics.

Come back every week or so for another edition from now until whenever ten weeks from now will be.

First up on the list is:

Bobby Bonds

  • Spent 14 seasons with eight teams
  • Played the vast majority of his career in Right Field
  • Highest percentage received: 10.6% in 1993

Traditional Career Offensive Stats:

Bonds is one of two players with more than 300 home runs and 400 stolen bases, joined only by his son, Barry. Even if you reduce the numbers to 200 homers and 300 steals, he’s still one of 22 players, including seven Hall of Famers and a number of future members of the club (Biggio, A-Rod, Jeter etc.)

If you limit those results to 1871-1981 (Bonds’ last season), he is one of four players with 200-300 (Willie Mays, Vada Pinson and Joe Morgan). Remember, he has 300-400, not 200-300. Limit that total to only right fielders in his era and he stands along.

But Bonds’ traditional stats aren’t without flaws. He was a swing-and-miss hitter like many power bats of his era (Jim Rice, for example). He didn’t get paid to walk to first base, he got paid to trot around the bases. Therefore, his OBP has been questioned (.353) as well as his career hits (1,886), runs (1,258) and RBI (1,024, only two seasons with more than 100).

He also struck out. A lot. Like, a record amount. His 1,757 fans stood at third behind Hall of Famers Willie Stargell (1,912) and Reggie Jackson (1,810) when he retired in 1981. But as a side note, the top seven career leaders in Ks at that time are all enshrined in Cooperstown today (Brock, Mantle, Killebrew and Perez).

Traditional Single-Season stats/honors:

This category is traditionally one of the weakest in Bobby Bonds’ case, as he only led the league in major positive categories three times (120 runs in 1969, 131 runs and 341 total bases in 1973) while he topped four negative categories (187 Ks in 1969, 189 Ks in 1970, 148 Ks in 1973 and 23 caught stealing in 1979).

But he did garner some accolades during his MLB tenure, earning three All-Star berths, collecting three Rawlings Gold Glove Awards and notching at least one MVP vote five times, including  third and fourth place finishes in 1973 and 1971.

Sabrmetric Stats:

Bonds was one of Bill James’ favorite subjects and even served as the inspiration for his Power-Speed # stat, and for good reason. Bonds led his league in the stat in 10 times from 1969-79, including a 40.9 mark in 1973 which served as the single season record until Rickey Henderson’s 1986 campaign.

His 386 career PS# ranks fifth all-time behind the younger Bonds, Henderson, Mays and A-Rod (at least two of which are directly linked to PEDs).

He also racked up some solid Wins Above Replacement numbers in his career, breaking the five-point barrier (making him generally considered an All-Star worthy player that season) on seven occasions.

In total, his career WAR finished at 57.7, the most by a right fielder not in the Hall of Fame upon Bonds’ retirement. In fact, second place on that list is Rusty Staub with 45.8.

He ranks eight overall among his position from 1981 back, posting a comparable number to Enos Slaughter (55.2), Harry Hopper (53.6) and Willie Keeler (54.0), but he remains a good distance away from No. 7 Harry Heilmann (72.1)

Fielding Stats:

Finally, let’s look at how Bonds performed in the field. This is an area where both the SABR numbers and the traditional stats come together nicely.

His 48 career fielding runs would rank seventh among Hall of Famers pre-1981 at his position, while he routinely ranked among the best Right Fielders in Range Factor/Game, finishing in the top five on nine occasions and ranking 42nd all-time.

And while he committed a number of errors (23rd most by a RF), he also ranked in the top 30 in putouts, games played and assist at the position, meaning his chances to make a mistake were extraordinarily high.

Plus not to be overlooked, he ranks 11th among RFs in double plays turned, tied with the legend himself Roberto Clemente. Let that sink in.

Postseason Stats:

Unfortunately, Bonds never got to play in a Fall Classic, only making it to one LCS in 1971. The Giants consistently floated near the top of the NL West during his prime seasons with the squad, but only took the division crown once. And as further evidence of Bonds’ value, the team posted a losing record in each of the four seasons after he left for New York

Diagnosis:

There’s certainly enough data here to prove Bonds was overlooked by the BBWAA during his years of eligibility. As a candidate from 1987-97, voters looked on as Bonds’ spots in the record books began to sink lower and lower due to the influx of PEDs in the game. In retrospect,  it would be nice to see him on the Veterans Committee ballot once again, as he’s been left off the final ballot every year since 2008. He may be a bit off the edge for HOF contention, but anyone whose career features such a unique combination of power, speed and fielding should at least be considered for years to come.

Thanks for reading my blog. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @LucasKinser and look me up on Facebook. Next week, we’ll take a look at another forgotten candidate. Stay tuned to find out who!

UFC 162 Preview and Predictions

Happy 4th of July everyone! Let us not waste a second and get right to the breakdown and picks!

All odds are courtesy Bovada.lv and all confidence picks are from a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the least and 10 being the most.

Anderson Silva (-240) vs. Chris Weidman (+190)

Inarguably the biggest challenge of Silva since Dan Henderson, Weidman is the blueprint for how to beat “The Spider.” A takedown artist (4.47 TApM, 72%) with great defenses both striking (68%) and on takedown attempts (100%), he excels in all of the areas Silva commonly exploits. But those numbers were put up against inferior competition, as only Maia and Munoz could be considered top ten fighters. Silva hasn’t had a real challenge since the first Sonnen fight, but back in the day he made guys like Henderson, Franklin and Belfort look like sparring partners. But he’s 38 years old with 37 pro fights under his belt. Weidman has the youth and athleticism, but Silva has the experience, the calm and the technical striking skills to pick Weidman apart if he can stay on his feet. In what I predict is a fight for the ages, I see Weidman keeping this fight on the ground and either locking in a choke or G&Ping the champion for the win.

Prediction: Weidman via TKO in Round 3 (Confidence = 5)

Frankie Edgar (-550) vs. Charles Oliveira (+375)

In his first non-title fight since the TUF 10 finale, Edgar looks to bounce back after three straight close decision losses to Ben Henderson and Jose Aldo. Oliveira, however, has nothing to lose, being given no shot against the former LW champ. Oliveira had gone to distance once in 20 fights. Edgar had done so in 12 of 20. Expect Oliveira to be the aggressor, throwing unorthodox strikes and looking for a takedown. But Edgar is a strategist, so expect him to time Oliveira, shoot in and grind out a decision. But there’s always a chance Oliveira could convert a takedown attempt into his patented anaconda choke, so be weary.

Prediction: Edgar via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 7)

Tim Kennedy (-155) vs. Roger Gracie (+125)

This is my upset lock of the night. Roger Gracie has not been submitted in MMA or BJJ competition since he was a blue belt. Only one fighter has even attempted a takedown against him in MMA. He’s a towering 6-foot-4 middleweight with a five-inch reach advantage and improved striking. Kennedy’s only chance is for a KO/TKO (none since 2007) or to get on top and grind out a decision against a superior submission fighter. He’ll try to keep the fight standing, get taken down (56% TD offense) and get subbed.

Prediction: Gracie via Submission in Round 1 (Confidence = 6) 

Mark Munoz (-130) vs. Tim Boetsch (EVEN)

This may be a middleweight bout, but both these fighters will enter the Octagon at well over 200lbs. Both solid grapplers and strikers, Munoz uses his hands to set up his shoot while Boetsch uses his to stay standing and shoots to keep his opponents honest. However, Munoz has the better takedowns, notching nearly half his attempts over his last five fights (9-for-19). Expect Munoz to make up for his loss vs. Weidman by getting Boetsch down and forcing a TKO win. But either man has a legit shot of pulling out a W with that game plan.

Prediction: Munoz via TKO in Round 2 (Confidence = 4)

Cub Swanson (-230) vs. Dennis Siver (+180)

Two fighters who have seen a resurgence in their careers, Swanson and Siver are in line for a FW title shot in the near future. Swanson has reeled off a quartet of wins from 2012 on out, while Siver is 2-0 since dropping to featherweight with a pair of dominating decisions. Both fighters have identical heights and reaches and throw punches in bunches, but Swanson has more pop (three of last four wins by KO/TKO) and is more accurate (46% compared to 32% SA). Expect TKO No. 4 of 5 this Saturday.

Prediction: Swanson via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 5)

Andrew Craig (-155) vs. Chris Leben (+125)

If Leben wants to keep his job, he has to beat Craig. The old “Crippler” had all the tools to win this bout easily, but that fighter hasn’t showed up since his 2011 KO win vs. Wanderlei Silva. Still, Craig has some holes in his striking defense (37 percent) and takes too many shots if the fight keeps standing (2.86/min). He’s also got just a 25% takedown rate inside the Octagon, compared to Leben’s 57% defense. Expect Leben to keep this fight on its feet and land some big punches, but take home a decision win.

Prediction: Leben via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 5)

Norman Parke (-190) vs. Kazuki Tokudome (+155)

Two of their division’s promising young prospects, Parke and Tokudome impressed in their Octagon debuts: Parke winning TUF: The Smashes vs. Colin Fletcher and Tokudome beating BJJ savant Cristiano Marcello. Parke is a grinding grappler with excellent chokes, using his Guillotine and RNC to tear up the UK MMA scene. Tokudome uses his Judo pedigree to toss opponents around and finish with either an armbar or G&P from a dominant position. I see these two’s styles leading to a 15-minute stalemate with neither man doing much to hurt the other. It’s a coin flip in my book, so I’ll take the man with the three-inch reach advantage.

Prediction: Tokudome via Unanimous Decision (Confidence = 1) 

Gabriel Gonzaga (-260) vs. Dave Herman (+200)

This fight presents an interesting clash of styles. Gonzaga has evolved from a knockout artist with submissions to a submission fighter with knockout power, winning his last three fights via choke. Perhaps that’s a response to the six KO/TKO losses of his career. Herman doesn’t have the big names of the guys Gonzaga’s been KO’d by (Carwin, Dos Santos, Werdum etc.) but he’s got 15 KO/TKO wins against mostly lesser competition. Herman is hard to take down (63% TD Def.), but he’s a turtle on his back. I feel Gonzaga has a better chance at getting a takedown than Herman has of a flash KO, so I’ll have to go with the Brazilian by a slim margin.

Prediction: Gonzaga via Submission in Round 2 (Confidence = 3)

Edson Barboza (-550) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (+375)

Barboza is simply one of the sport’s most dynamic strikers, as proven by his highlight-reel spinning back kick KO over Terry Etim and his leg kick TKO wins as well. His only loss came in an epic upset vs. Jamie Varner, showing he may be prone to overlook fighters he’s heavily favored against. However, Oliveira is prone to getting highlight-reel KO’d, like he was against Yves Edwards two fights ago. Stepping in late and having two fights since 2011, the ring rust may result in him going sleepy night-night to a Barboza kick.

Prediction: Barboza via KO in Round 1 (Confidence = 9)

Seth Baczynski (-300) vs. Brian Melancon (+230)

Melancon is a smothering fighter coming out of Ricco Rodriguez’s camp, knowing the submission game well and possessing good top control and G&P. But he’s facing a fighter seven inches taller and who has plenty of Octagon experience. If Melancon were a wrestler, which he is not, I’d smell an upset via decision. But I think he’ll have trouble getting Baczynski down, leading to a difficult striking battle and eventual TKO loss.

Prediction: Baczynski via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 7)

Mike Pierce (-650) vs. David Mitchell (+425)

Pierce’s tenacious takedowns will keep this fight on the ground. Mitchell has a lot of submission wins off his back, but Pierce has excellent sub defense (only losses by decision). Expect a lot of ground and pound from Pierce and either a TKO or Decision win.

Prediction: Pierce via TKO in Round 1 (Confidence = 8)

Thanks again for taking the time to read this Cardiac Attack Sports exclusive. Remember to follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser to keep up with whatever my mind comes up with next. Happy 4th and enjoy the fight!

UFC 160 Preview

Good afternoon to my friends from the Interwebs, this is Lucas Kinser bringing you my first post since graduating from college with a BA in Journalism. Took my 6.5 years, but hey, better late than never!

It’s been many months since a fight card had me as excited as UFC 160. When was the last time a pay per view event featured a pair of bouts featuring current or former UFC Heavyweight titlists as well as a No. 1 contender bout for a different weight class?

UFC 74 on August 25, 2007. Randy Couture defended his belt vs. Gabriel Gonzaga, Frank Mir defeated Antoni Hardonk on his road back to title contention and GSP beat Josh Kosckeck to earn an interim title shot vs. Matt Hughes.

So let’s go through the fight card and prognosticate what may happen, shall we?

All odds are based on Bovada.lv numbers from Thursday, May 23 around noon.

All statistics are based on results from Fightmetric.com  

Cain Velasquez (c, -750) vs. Antonio Silva (+425)

Let’s face it…the last fight between these two was a landslide. When Velasquez and Silva fought at UFC 146, the champ got a quick takedown vs. “Bigfoot” and slammed 28 significant strikes from dominant positions to force Josh Rosenthal to dive in and protect a bloody, beaten Brazilian.

So is there any chance the rematch goes any better? Yes.

Bigfoot has made a career out of winning when the odds are stacked against him. He owns, in my opinion, two of the five biggest upsets in Heavyweight history: His TKO vs. Fedor and brutal KO of Alistair Overeem. He packs serious power in his hands and can knock out just about anyone in the division.

But to do so, he’ll have to catch Velasquez with a lucky punch. Only one man has ever done that (Junior Dos Santos), and he has twice the hand speed of “Bigfoot.”

I think Silva will learn from the first fight and try to say on his feet longer than the few seconds he did at UFC 146. But in the end, it will be Velasquez using his dominant top control to pound out the big man.

Results: Velasquez via KO/TKO

Junior Dos Santos (-450) vs. Mark Hunt (+325)

The ultimate wild card of this event, Dos Santos and Hunt are the most feared strikers of their division, but for two very different reasons. Dos Santos is a talented, technical striker who uses combinations to break his opponents down. In his UFC career, he never lost a bout in which he landed more significant strikes than his opponent, including a 130-40 margin vs. a comparable opponent in Roy Nelson.

Mark Hunt, however, uses is one-punch power and impeccable timing to earn flash knockouts at the drop of a hat. The former K-1 World Grand Prix Champion has only been knocked out once in his career despite battles vs. legendary strikers like Mirko Cro Cop and Wanderlei Silva, both of whom he defeated.

It took one powerful strike from Cain Velasquez to knock Dos Santos off his game en route to a sloppy defeat. If Hunt can replicate that strategy, he may have the same result.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I think Hunt could land that one blow. Remember, despite being six inches shorter than his opponent, he hold just a three-inch reach disadvantage and ranks ahead of Dos Santos in both strikes absorbed per minute and has the takedown defense (70%) to keep this fight on its feet if things go wrong for the Brazilian. Fat guys are on a hot streak the past couple years, so let’s roll the dice and see what happens!

Results: Hunt via KO/TKO

Glover Teixeira (-310) vs. James Te-Huna (+240)

A legend of Brazilian regional MMA, Teixeira takes an 18-fight win streak into the Octagon Saturday, including wins vs. numerous UFC veterans before reeling off three wins inside the Octagon. A powerful striker who trains with Chuck Liddell, he’s also competed at Abu Dhabi and holds a submission grappling win vs. Dean Lister. All in all, he’s a true mixed martial artist.

But Te-Huna is no pushover, either. The New Zealand native has never been knocked out despite going toe-to-toe with Hector Lombard. A winner of four straight in the UFC, his only defeat came against top prospect Alex Gustafsson via submission. In fact four of his five losses have come from subs, including a pair of RNC’s.

Four of Teixeira’s five submission wins have come via choke, so if the Brazilian can’t knock out the iron-chinned Pacific Islander, he’s got a second out to make this a short fight, aided by his 80% takedown success.

Results: Teixeira via Submission

Gray Maynard (-210) vs. T.J. Grant (+170)

This one doesn’t need much explanation. Maynard’s goal is to get this fight on the ground and smother his opponent, looking for opportunities to strike while advancing his position on top.

Maynard has recorded at least one takedown in nine of his 12 fights, including at least five in three bouts. On the contrary, Grant has been out-taken down 18-1 in his three UFC losses to Dong Hyun Kim, Johny Hendricks and Ricardo Almeida, all decision losses.

Expect Maynard to take a similar approach and ground out a cautious decision.

Results: Maynard via Decision

Donald Cerrone (-325) vs. K.J. Noons (+250)

An intriguing bout between a pair of fighters at the crossroads of their careers, Cerrone and Noons are both coming off losses (despite most of the media saying Noons should have won his decision vs. Couture). These former title contenders are looking to work their way back to the top, but they stand in each other’s ways.

Both men are accomplished strikers with different backgrounds: Cerrone utilized a dangerous combination of Kickboxing and BJJ, often wearing his opponents down with his striking to set up a choke. Noons, on the other hand, possesses crisp boxing and Kempo karate skills, holding a combined 23-4 professional record in both. Not known as a submission fighter, he does have excellent defensive skills both on his feet and on the ground.

While evenly matched on the feet, this fight should come down to the ground game. Cerrone rarely attempts takedowns, but a telling stat is that he’s never lost a fight where he landed two or more takedowns, resulting in three subs and two decisions. However, Noons in 4-3 in fights he allows just ONE takedown, dropping those three by decision. That’s enough evidence for me.

Results: Cerrone via Decision

Other predictions:

Rick Story (-150) vs. Mike Pyle (-120)                                     Story via KO/TKO

Dennis Bermudez (-275) vs. Max Holloway (+215)           Holloway via Decision

Colton Smith (-225) vs. Robert Whittaker (+175)               Smith via Decision

Khabib Nurmagomedov (-285) vs. Abel Trujillo (+225)   Nurmagomedov via Submission

Stephen Thompson (-160) vs. Nah-Shon Burrell (+130)  Thompson via KO/TKO

Brian Bowles (-280) vs. George Roop (+220)                        Bowles via KO/TKO

Jeremy Stephens (-230) vs. Estevan Payan (+180)             Payan via Decision

For more updates and info about the world of sports, follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser. Looking forward to a great weekend of fights!

Judging in MMA

A lot has been said in recent years about the way bouts are scored under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts. But few legitimate solutions have been offered. Sure, it’s easy to complain when your favorite fighter drops a close decision. But who is to blame? The judges? The system? The fighters for “leaving it in the hands of the judges” as Dana White frequently says?

My stance is that the judges are doing the best they can with the steaming pile of crap we call the parameters laid out in the Unified Rules: effective striking, effective grappling, control of the ring/fighting area, effective aggressiveness and defense.

A full copy of the rules can be found at http://www.ufc.com/discover/sport/rules-and-regulations. Section 14 contains the judging criteria.

Effective striking is simply defined as “the total number of legal strikes landed by a contestant.” That is about as straight-forward as you can get, but it lacks much detail. Is this total strikes or significant strikes? What about damage, knockdowns, etc.?

Effective grappling is a bit more detailed. “Effective grappling is judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown and reversals. Examples of factors to consider are take downs from standing position to mount position, passing the guard to mount position, and bottom position fighters using an active threatening guard.” This also leaves plenty of holes to consider. How much more weight should be placed on a reversal if the fighter was mounted? Going back to the effective striking, what if a fighter lands 100 strikes from the bottom? Also, effective grappling says nothing about submission attempts or escapes.

As for Octagon control, “Fighting area control is judged by determining who is dictating the pace, location and position of the bout. Examples of factors to consider are countering a grappler’s attempt at takedown by remaining standing and legally striking, taking down an opponent to force a ground fight, creating threatening submission attempts, passing the guard to achieve mount, and creating striking opportunities.”

So basically, little pieces of all the other four categories combined? And submission attempts fall under the “Octagon Control” category? Yeah, that makes perfect sense…

“Effective aggressiveness means moving forward and landing a legal strike.” Ah, the Leonard Garcia category. However, how frequently have we seen fighters do the exact opposite and still win fights? (See Sanchez-Gomi)

“Effective defense means avoiding being struck, taken down or reversed while countering with offensive attacks.” I didn’t even know there was a fourth category until I did some research. Basically, the ability to keep from having the first four things done to you.

What none of these parameters take into account is what was considered the No. 1 criteria in the Pride FC days: effort to finish a fight by way of submission or knockout. Isn’t that the goal of any fight? Hopefully the athletic commissions will refine these decade-old rules. But for now on, if judges make a bad call, don’t boo them. Boo the California State Athletic Commission for coming up with this backwards list nearly 13 years ago.

UFC on Fuel TV 8 Predictions

With just 10 weeks to go before I graduate college, this borderline intrepid reporter decided to start posting a little more. For now on, each UFC event (and maybe a few non-UFC ones) will get their own prediction post by yours truly. Hopefully my first installment of 2013 will help my readers win a few dollars in the new year.

Wanderlei Silva (+220) vs. Brian Stann (-280)

After seven years away from Japan, Silva returns to the nation where he became a legend with a few more gray hairs, wrinkles and losses. But that’s not to say he isn’t a threat to every man in the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight ranks. The author of 24 knockout victories and three Fight of the Year honors has never been this big of an underdog, so he’ll certainly have a chip on his shoulder when entering the ring. In fact, the last time he was +150 or worse was against Cung Le: his last win.

Stann has accomplished more outside the ring than anyone in UFC history. A Silver Star recipient during the Iraq war, he’s one of the best fighters ever produced by the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. The former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion has heavy hands and hasn’t been knocked out since 2008, so he’s got more than a puncher’s chance in a standup battle. But he’s lost three of his last five bouts at Light Heavyweight, including that KO loss in ’08.

Odds are this fight won’t go to the ground, but if it does, neither fighter is easy to submit. This one will probably go three rounds with both fighters bloodied and bruised in the end. This is a much closer bout than the betting odds dictate, but with Silva returning to Japan, I give him the nod.

Stefan Struve (-190) vs. Mark Hunt (+155)

The UFC’s talent fighter, Struve’s towering physique is overshadowed only by his elite skills both standing and on the ground. A disciple of PRIDE veteran Bob Schrijber, he’s a skilled kickboxer with a brown belt in BJJ and 16 submission wins to his name. Perhaps just as impressive is his finishing ability: only one of his 30 fights has ended at the final bell. All in all, a true Mixed Martial Artist.

Hunt is less well-rounded, but no less dangerous. The 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion has arguably the best chin in MMA history, while his punching power has dropped the likes of Stefan Leko and Jerome LeBanner. His takedown defense is superb (70%) and he’s the only man to beat both Mirko Cro Cop and Wanderlei Silva in PRIDE.

All the physical measurements favor Struve. He’s 14 inches taller, has a nine-inch reach advantage and is 13 years younger that the “Super Samoan.” But the last time Struve fought a short, fat heavyweight, he was knocked out by Roy Nelson. A repeat performance is possible, but Hunt’s six submission losses hint toward No. 7 coming tonight.

Takanori Gomi (+200) vs. Diego Sanchez (-260)

A legend of Japanese MMA, Gomi dominated in his PRIDE FC days, the PRIDE and Shooto champion has used his slick boxing and excellent takedown defense to dominate his competition for years in the Far East. He knocked out a who’s who of lightweights through his career, including Tyson Griffin, Jens Pulver, Hayato Sakurai and Luiz Azeredo. However, he’s been susceptible to submissions through much of his career, dropping six fights via sub, including his last four losses.

Sanchez has never fought in Japan, but has been successful from Day One in the USA. The TUF 1 Middleweight winner and former UFC Lightweight contender saw most of his success as Welterweight, earning Fight of the Night honors in his last three contests at that weight. Outside of a fight stopped by a cut, he has never been finished. however, he hasn’t won a fight by submission (outside of submission via strikes) since 2004.

This has all the makings of an exciting decision win for either fighters. Sanchez missing weight concerns me, since that might affect his cardio in the later rounds. Despite having a slight advantage in reach and height, I feel “The Dream” will wear down and allow Gomi to do what he does best: pick his opponent apart from the outside. Sanchez’s excellent chin should give Gomi a nod from the judges.

Yushin Okami (+170) vs. Hector Lombard (-210)

Arguably the most successful Japanese fighter in UFC history, Okami has notched a dozen wins inside the Octagon, including decisions over Mark Munoz, Alan Belcher and Nate Marquardt. The Judo and Wajyutsu practitioner usually racks up points either in the standup or on the ground and rarely gets finished…expect in his last trip to Japan vs. Tim Boetsch at UFC 144.

Lombard’s gargantuan win streak was broken up by Boetsch at UFC 149, but the Olympic Judoka rebounded with a knockout over submission artist Rousimar Palhares. He rarely hears the final bell, notching 25 finishes in his 32 career bouts. But his record in Japan features decision losses to Gegard Mousasi and Akihiro Gono in PRIDE.

Okami has never lost a fight where he outstruck his opponent, so keeping active on his feet and staying on top on the ground will be key to his success. Lombard has the power to knock out the Team Quest product, but barring a one-punch KO, I see Okami dictating the pace and location of the bout and grinding out a decision win.

Mizuto Hirota (-135) vs. Rani Yahya (+105) 

A veteran of 19 bouts in Japan, Hirota makes his UFC debut holding credentials as a Sengoku, DEEP and Cage Force Lightweight titlist as well as a Shooto title contender. The well-rounded judoka has good hands on his feet and has only been finished once: a hammerlock loss to Shinya Aoki in 2009. He’s coming off a decision loss to Pat Healy in Strikeforce.

Yahya may not have any MMA belts in his collection, but the title he earned may be more impressive than all of Hirota’s success: an Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling title in 2007. The grappling wizard takes being called a choke artist as a compliment, as 12 of his 15 submission wins come by way of choke.

The deciding factor in this bout will be takedowns. Yahya has a distinct disadvantage on his feet, but has only landed 27 percent of his takedowns in 10 UFC and WEC fights. Expect Hirota to pick him apart, rock the Brazilian and finish the fight with ground and pound for his first UFC win.

Dong Hyun Kim (-310) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (+240)

The last time Kim fought in Japan, it was for the DEEP Welterweight title in 2007. He’s seen plenty of success in the Land of the Rising Sun, going 7-0-1 with five KOs, including one via slam. The high-level judoka has shown excellent defense with a 60% striking and 81% takedown defense in 10 UFC bouts.

Bahadurzada, on the other hand, has displayed only offense in his short UFC career with a 42 second KO of Paulo Thiago in his debut. The Afghani striker also saw success in Japan, winning the Shooto Middleweight title in 2007 and going 1-2 in three bouts for Sengoku.

Expect Kim to weather the early storm from “The Great” and force the fight to the ground, where “Stun Gun” should have a distance advantage en route to a ground and pound victory.

Undercard bout predictions:

Brad Tavares (-125) def. Riki Fukuda (-105) via decision

Bryan Caraway (+175) def. Takeya Mizugaki (-225) via submission (probably a rear-naked choke)

Cristiano Marcello (-130) def. Kazuki Tokudome (EVEN) via submission (either a RNC or triangle choke)

Alex Caceres (-120) def. Kyung Ho Kang (-110) via decision

Hyun Gyu Lim (-285) def. Marcelo Guimaraes (+225) via KO/TKO (ground and pound)

2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame Special: Quarterbacks

Long time no see America, this is Lucas Kinser for Cardiac Attack Sports. Been busy with life the past few months, but the recent announcement of the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame class nominees made me take a position-by-position look at modern-era (post-1970) players who have been overlooked in the selection process.

First up are the worst enemies of Deacon Jones: Quarterbacks. Of the 83 signal-callers with 100 or more career games played and whose career began in 1970 or later and ended in 2007 or earlier, I narrowed down the list to 14. I looked at a number of factors, including consistency, production, awards, Super Bowl wins and Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value rating system. My top 14 are, in alphabetical order:

  • Bert Jones
  • Boomer Esiason
  • Brian Sipe
  • Danny White
  • Jim Everett
  • Jim Zorn
  • Joe Theismann
  • Ken Anderson
  • Ken Stabler
  • Phil Simms
  • Randall Cunningham
  • Rich Gannon
  • Steve Grogan
  • Steve McNair

Then, I used the Approximate Value rating to determine how productive each player was in each season compared to the ten highest scores of each season. Through this, I eliminated:

  • Brian Sipe
  • Danny White
  • Jim Everett
  • Jim Zorn
  • Joe Theismann
  • Phil Simms
  • Steve McNair

None of these seven quarterbacks ranked in the top ten at their position for five or more years, or ranked in the top five for three straight seasons. Theismann was close, but barely missed the cut. Others, like White and Simms, could have done so if they’d stayed healthy, but we’re not dealing in hypotheticals.

Anyways, that leaves seven quarterbacks as legitimate candidates. Here is the arguments for all seven:

Bert Jones

  • 1976 NFL MVP with a 102.5 Passer Rating, second-best in league history at that time behind Y.A. Tittle.
  • Three seasons with at least 3,000 passing yards and 20 or more touchdowns, second-most in league history when he retired behind Sonny Jorgensen.
  • Helped lead Baltimore out of the Unitas era with three straight postseason appearances from 1975-77.

Boomer Esiason

  • 1988 NFL MVP with a league-high 97.4 passer rating and 9.2 yards per pass attempt.
  • Retired in 1997 with the ninth-most passing yards in pro football history (37,920)
  • Ranked in PFR’s Approximate Value ratings among the top ten quarterbacks for six straight seasons from 1985-90.

Ken Anderson

  • 1981 NFL MVP with a career-high 3,754 passing yards, 29 scores and a 98.4 paser rating
  • Paced the NFL in passer rating four times (1974, ’75, ’81 and ’82)
  • Arguably the first successful West Coast quarterback in league history

Ken Stabler

  • 1974 NFL MVP with 2,469 passing yards and a league-high 26 touchdowns
  • Ranked fourth all-time with 26 game-winning drives when he retired in 1984
  •  Led Oakland to a blowout win in Super Bowl XI

Randall Cunningham

  • Three-time Bert Bell Award winner in 1988, ’90 and ’98
  • Retired as the league’s all-time leading rusher for quarterbacks
  • Led his teams on 26 game-winning drives and to 21 fourth-quarter comebacks

Rich Gannon

  • 2002 NFL MVP with a league-high 4,689 passing yards
  • Earned four straight Pro Bowl nods from 1999-2003
  • Led Oakland to three straight postseasons for the first time since the early 1980s

Steve Grogan

  • Ranked in PFR’s Approximate Value ratings among the top five quarterbacks for four straight seasons from 1976-79.
  • Ran for a then-record 12 rushing touchdowns as a quarterback in 1976
  • Led New England to its first three postseason appearances in team history (1976, ’78 and ’82)

Of these seven, I wanted my final selections to have accomplished four of five things in the pro careers:

  1. Win an Associated Press NFL MVP Award
  2. Lead their team to at least one Super Bowl
  3. Rank in the top 10 in a major career category upon their retirement
  4. Average eight starts per season for their careers
  5. Have been a finalist for the Hall of Fame at least once.

Bert Jones never played in a Super Bowl and didn’t play long enough to record any significant career stats, so he goes off the list.

Randall Cunningham never won an AP NFL MVP (although other organizations gave him MVP awards) and never played in a Super Bowl, so he’s off as well.

Rich Gannon fell four starts short of the minimum and hs never been a Hall of Fame finalist, so he’s gone.

Steve Grogan barely reached the start limit, but failed in all other categories (he only started six games in the Patriots’ 1985 Super Bowl season) so he’s off.

That leaves Boomer Esiason, Ken Anderson and Ken Stabler:

Esiason was named the MVP in 1988, led Cincinnati to Super Bowl XXIII, retired with the 9th most passing yards in league history and passed the starts minimum.

Anderson was the 1981 MVP, led the Bengals to Super Bowl XVI, retired with the 7th most passing yards in league history, passed the starts minimum and was a two-time HOF finalist.

Stabler was the 1974 MVP, led the Raiders to a Super Bowl XI win, passed the starts minimum and was a three-time HOF finalist.

Therefore, we have three names to keep in mind. A pair of underrated passers  in the West coast system and one of the NFL’s best comeback artists and team leaders. If I had a vote, these three gridiron warriors would certainly have their busts in Canton.

Thanks for reading my incredibly long, meticulous post. Remember to follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser and look me up on Facebook. Take care and enjoy the rest of your day!

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