Your April Fools' joke must have been leaving Don Mattingly off the best alltime first basemen list.
ARMANDO E. BATASTINI, PROVIDENCE
Kudos on your Baseball 1996 Preview Issue (April 1). The framed cover and the spectacular photography made me wish that this issue were hardbound. But your writers favor the Cleveland Indians to be the World Series champions. Your editors have again forgotten conventional baseball wisdom: Good pitching beats good hitting. Go, Braves!
FREDERIC C. SPECTOR, Savannah
In Good Hands People (April 1), Tom Verducci maintains that of the three basic components of baseball—pitching, hitting and fielding—only fielding is done with greater skill today than in earlier eras. With that in mind, I don't see why Tim Kurkjian included Eddie Collins, an old-time second baseman with a .969 career fielding average, among his top three glovemen ever at the position yet left out the Cubs' Ryne Sandberg, who has a .990 lifetime fielding average as well as the major league record for consecutive games at second without an error (123).
JACK MEYERS, Kansas City, Mo.
How can Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt not rank among the top three defensive third basemen of all time? Schmidt didn't make it to Cooperstown on the strength of his bat alone. His 10 Gold Gloves are four better than Buddy Bell's six and eight better than Graig Nettles's two, but Bell and Nettles are the second and third choices, respectively, on your alltime list. And Schmidt's 2.29 assists per game is better than Bell's and Nettles's assist ratios. Also, in 543 more chances at third, Nettles had only 254 more assists than Schmidt. Bell had 30 more chances and 120 fewer assists than Schmidt.
JASON THORNBURY, Santa Ana, Calif.
I was disappointed to find Cal Ripken Jr., the same man you praised throughout last year, missing from the lists of best alltime and current fielding shortstops. He holds the record for most consecutive games at short without an error and ranks third in fielding percentage for shortstops, all while playing primarily on grass. Ripken also holds the record for most consecutive chances without an error at short. His absence really put a damper on an otherwise perfect baseball preview issue.
AARON BURHOE, Monmouth Beach, N.J.
Tim Kurkjian's omission of Don Mattingly from his list of the best defensive first basemen of all time greatly disturbed me. With his nine Gold Gloves, Mattingly proved that he belongs among the elite. Kurkjian's choices, Keith Hernandez, Vic Power and George Sisler, were all reasonable, yet none of them have a higher career fielding percentage than Mattingly.
ANTHONY CATOGGIO, New York City
How in the world does Frank White not make the list? He won eight Gold Gloves and would have had a ninth had Harold Reynolds not stolen one. Those Gold Gloves tie him with Bill Mazeroski as the alltime best defensive second baseman.
JERRY W. HARPER, Lenexa, Kans.
Rickey Henderson as your third-best defensive leftfielder of all time? You have to be kidding. You obviously never saw Henderson play leftfield for the New York Yankees, when he used to go after balls in a less-than-urgent jog. I agree, he did have great speed. Unfortunately, he never used it while a Yankee. Maybe you should put him down as third best on a list of Alltime Dogs.
VINNIE SALLUSTIO, Sayreville, N.J.
Regarding Tom Verducci's excellent article: Yes, better gloves, artificial turf and high-tech scouting are contributing to there being fewer errors in baseball today. However, a major factor was omitted: Official scorers these days seem intent on boosting offensive stats and are calling dropped and hobbled balls, which should be ruled errors, as base hits.
MICHAEL SCHROEDER, Carol Stream, Ill.