2016 World Series – Game One Observations

Game One of the 2016 World Series is in the  books – a 6-0 Cleveland win.  There were expected (Corey Kluber) and unexpected (Roberto Perez) heroes, a notable turning point (seventh inning), 24 strikeouts (15 recorded by Cleveland pitchers) and three players who started the Series with three-hit games (Ben Zobrist, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez).

How meaningful will this Indians win be?  That remains to be seen, but since the best-of -seven format came into play, Game One Winners have a 109-60 edge in World Championships.  Still, with Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks on tap for the next two games, I like the Cubs’ chances.

Here are a few random observations from Game One.

A is for Apple. B is for Bat. … K is for Kluber – an Expected Hero

Corey Kluber photo

Photo by apardavila

Corey Kluber, who started on the mound for the Indians, was an expected hero.  The 2014 Cy Young Award winner was the staff ace in 2016, going 18-9, 3.14 and fanning 227 batters in 215 innings. He set the tone from the start, fanning eight over the first three innings (a WS record for the first three frames) and whiffing nine (versus four hits and no walks) over six shutout innings.  Andrew Miller and Cody Allen added six more strikeouts to wrap up the 6-0 shutout.  A couple of observations: Kluber threw just 88 pitches, which opens options for how he is used (three starts or two starts and a relief appearance) later in the Series.  ALCS MVP Andrew Miller threw 46 pitches in relief, which may limit how he is used in Game Two.

Core Kluber’s outing works to magnify Bob Gibson’s dominance when he fanned a World Series single-game record of 17 – as his Cardinals topped the Tigers 4-0 in Game One of the 1968 WS. Gibson threw three complete games in that Series (1.67 ERA), fanning 35 in 27 innings.

An Unexpected Hero

Number-nine hitter Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez  – who hit .183, with just three home runs in 61 games in the regular season and was hitting just .174 in the post season –  was hardly considered a likely offensive hero.   All he did was belt two home runs in four at bats and drive in four of the Indians’ six runs.

Before Roberto Perez’ two-home run inaugural World Series game, the only other catcher to homer twice in his first WS game was the Oakland A’s Gene Tenace in 1972.  Tenace, who had hit .225 with five home runs in 82 regular season games and was hitting .059 in the post season (ALCS), went on to hit .348 in the WS, with a Series-leading eight hits, five runs, four home runs and nine RBI. The A’s topped the Red in seven games, despite being outscored 21-16. Tenace was the WS MVP.

Turning Point

Some may say the turning point came when Corey Kluber took the mound.  For my money, it came in the top of the seventh when Cubs’ LF Ben Zobrist opened the inning with a single off Kluber – followed by a walk to DH Kyle Schwarber and a single to 2B Javier Baez (both given up by Andrew Miller, who had replaced Kluber), loading the bases with no outs.   Miller went on to retire pinch hitter Wilson Contreras on a short fly (runners holding) to center and SS Addison Russell and C David  Ross on swinging strikeouts. The Cubs failed to score after loading the sacks with no outs.  Game. Set. Match.  Kudos to manager Terry Francona to sticking to his pitching plan in that tense inning.

It’s Not Always Power

While four of the Indians’ tallies came on home runs (Roberto Perez with two), the other two runs scored on a bases-loaded infield single (3B Jose Ramirez) and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch (LF Brandon Guyer).  That Guyer should “take on for the team” should be no surprise. Guyer led the American League in HBP with 31 this past season (in just 101 games). Guyer was also the AL HBP leader in 2015, with 24.

 A Perfect World Series 9-0

Terry Francona photo

Terry Francona – plenty to smile about. Photo by Keith Allison

Indians’ Manager Terry Francona is piloting his third World Series and has yet to lose a Fall Classic game.  In 2004, his Red Sox swept the Cardinals and in 2007 his Boston squad topped the Rockies 4-0. Now, if only the TV commentators would stop referring to him as “Tito.”  Yes, I know it’s his nickname, but my mind always seems to revert to his dad –  John Patsy “Tito” Francona – whom I saw play often in his 15-seeason (1956-70) career as an MLB OF/1B.  Terry, by the way, was an MLB OF/1B from 1981-90.



While Terry Francona s’ streak of managing nine World Series wining games (still active) without a loss is an MLB record, the record for consecutive  World Series game wins managed belongs to Joe Torre at 14 (1996 – Games Three-through-Six versus Braves; 1998 – four-game sweep versus Padres; 1999 – four-game sweep versus Braves; 2000 – Games One and Two versus Mets.  

Hope from Rehab

Cubs’ DH Kyle Schwarber, out with an injury since early April, was activated for the World Series.  Schwarber who had knee surgery in mid-April was not expected back this season.  He surprised a lot of people yesterday, picking up a double and a walk in four plate appearances. In 2015, as a rookie, Schwarber hit .246, with 16 home runs and 43 RBI in 69 games and then hit five home runs in nine post-season contests.   The Cubs are hoping his power has an impact in the 2016 Series.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

BBRT’s Look at the World Series – Position by Position

The last time the Cubs won the World Series, there were only 46 stars on the American flag. 

Cubs Win photo

Photo by Ron Cogswell

Back in early February, BBRT picked the Cubs to break their World Series Championship drought (since 1908) and  win the 2016 World Series. (I did, however, have them winning over the Boston Red Sox – the Cleveland Indians were hardly on my post-season radar.) I’m going to stick with the Cubbies based on a combination of:

  • Starting pitching (three potential 2016 Cy Young Award candidates);
  • Lineup flexibility (particularly MVP candidate Kris Bryant, youngster Javier Baez and veteran Ben Zobrist); and
  • A nice balance of young and veteran players.

The wild card in this prediction – and, most likely the Indians’ best asset if they are to win the Series – is Cleveland’s strong bullpen (particularly ALCS MVP Andrew Miller and Cody Allen).  The bullpen is even more of an asset given Indians’ manager Terry Francona’s adept, if somewhat unorthodox in today’s game, handling of his pitching staff.  (Consider that the Indians won the ALCS four games-to-one over the Blue Jays in a series in which: the 44 Cleveland innings pitched were split exactly equally between the starters and the bullpen; no starter went more than 6 1/3 innings; and the Indians won Game Three 4-2, using seven pitchers and none more than 1 2/3 innings.)

Before looking at the two squads in detail, let’s look at some overall stats from the 2016 season.  (Keep in mind, the DH impacts some of these numbers.)

Wins: Cubs – 103; Indians – 94

Run Differential. Cubs – +252; Indians +101


Batting Average: Indians – .262; Cubs – .256

Runs Scored: Cubs – 808; Indians 777

Home Runs: Cubs – 199; Indians – 185

Stolen Bases: Indians – 134; Cubs – 66

Walks Drawn: Cubs – 656; Indians 531

Batters’ Strikeouts: Cubs – 1,339; Indians – 1,246


ERA: Cubs – 3.15; Indians – 3.84

Strikeouts:  Cubs – 1,441; Indians – 1,398

Saves: Cubs – 38; Indians – 37

WHIP: Cubs – 1.11; Indians – 1.24

Home Runs Surrendered: Cubs – 163; Indians – 186


Fewest Errors: Indians -89; Cubs – 101

Fielding Percentage: Indians – .985; Cubs – .983

Taking all this into consideration, BBRT is going with the Cubs in six games if Trevor Bauer is ready to pitch – and five games if the Indians’ are forced to bypass Bauer.

Now, let’s take a look at the two squads – and who has the edge where.

Starting Pitching  

Jon Lester Cubs photo

Jon Lester – Game One Cubs’ starter. Photo by apardavila

The Cubs’ rotation boasts MLB ERA leader righty Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13); veteran southpaw Jon Lester (19-4, with MLB’s second-best ERA at 2.44); and last year’s Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10 this season). If any of the big three should falter, there’s also veteran John Lackey (11-8, 3.35.) In the post-season, Cubs’ starters have thrown 56 1/3 innings in ten starts, with a 2.57 ERA.

The Indians have made it to the World Series despite a starting staff hit by injuries. They lost right-handed starter Carlos Carrasco (11-8, 3.32) in mid-September, lost Danny Salazar for a portion of the season to elbow issues (11-6, 3.87) and had Trevor Bauer (12-8, 4.26) suffer an off-field, post-season injury (cutting a pinky finger while working on a drone) that forced him from his ALCS Game Three start after just 2/3 of an inning. Then, there is Josh Tomlin, slated to start Game Three of the World Series. Tomlin was 9-2, 3.51 in the 2016 season’s first half and 4-7, 5.59 in the second half. How deep did the issues facing the Indians starting staff go? In Game Five of the ALCS, they started Ryan Merritt, a southpaw with just 11 MLB innings under his belt.

Still, it’s not all bad news. Indians’ starters have a pitched total of 38 2/3 innings this post season, with a stingy 1.88 ERA. (However, they have averaged less than five innings per start, putting a lot of pressure on the bullpen.) Staff ace Kluber is well-rested for Game One, Bauer has had additional time for his stitched pinky to heal and says he’ll be ready for Game Two, and Game Three starter Tomlin appears to have “righted the ship,” going 2-1, 1.69 after September 1 and giving up just three earned runs in 10 2/3 2016 post-season innings. And, if Bauer is not ready, Danny Salazar may be able to step up.  Ultimately, however, there are too many questions marks in the Indians’ rotation.

Starting Pitching: Advantage – Cubs



The Cubs’ bullpen is led by the hardest thrower in baseball – Aroldis Chapman.  Chapman was 4-1, 1.55 with 36 saves and 90 strikeouts in 58 innings for the Yankees and Cubs during the regular season. Chapman has, however,  looked “a bit” more hittable in the 2016 post-season, giving up three earned runs and striking out 10 in eight innings pitched. Chapman is ably supported by the likes of Hector Rondon (3.53 with 18 saves in 54 games); Travis Wood (2.95 in 77 games); and Pedro Strop )(2.85 in 54 games).

The Cleveland pen is led by ALCS MVP Andrew Miller, whom manager Terry Francona will call on at any time.  Pitching for the Yankees and Indians in 2016, Miller went 10-1, 1.45 with 12 saves and 123 strikeouts in 74 1/3 innings.  He’s been even better in the post season – pitching 11 2/3 inning in six appearances, fanning 21 batters, giving up no earned runs, picking up a win and a save. Miller is joined in the Cleveland pen by Cody Allen (2.51 ERA with 87 K’s in 68 innings); Dan Otero, 1.53 ERA in 62 appearances); Jeff Manship (3.12 in 53 appearances); and Bryan Shaw (3.24 in 75 appearances).

Overall, the bullpens are very close.  However, given Miller’s post-season performance thus far and the skill Francona has shown in handling the bullpen, BBRT will give e slight edge to the Indians.  The question, of course, is whether the Indians’ rotation issues will result in too much work for the relief staff.

Bullpen: Advantage – Indians


Now, how about the position players?


The Cubs rely on a catching committee, with most of the recent work going to Wilson Contreras (.282-12-35 in 76 games).  Others taking a spot behind the plate include Jon Lester’s designated catcher David Ross (.229-10-32 in 67 games) and Miguel Montero (.216-8-33 in 86 games). Contreras, by the way, is hitting an even .400 (8-for-20) in the 2016 post season.

Catching duties for Cleveland belong to Roberto Perez – an excellent game-caller and defensive backstop.  Perez, however, hit just .183-3-17 in 61 regular-season games, and is hitting just .174 in the post season.  (By contrast, Cubs’ pitcher Jake Arrieta hit .262-2-7 in 31 games.)

Catcher:  Advantage – Cubs


First Base

It’s the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo (.292-32-109) versus the Indians’ Mike Napoli (.239-34-101) at first base. The 34-year-old Napoli, in his eleventh MLB season, is a big reason the Indians took the AL Central title.  He reached career highs in games played, hits, runs scored, home runs and RBI.  In eight games this post season, however, he is hitting just .179 with one home run and two RBI.  The 26-year-old Rizzo matches Napoli’s power, makes contact more often, and is on a hot steak (.320-2-5 in the NLCS).

First Base: Advantage – Cubs

Second Base

Here again it’s a young Cub versus a veteran Indian.  At the keystone sack for the Cubs you can expect to see 23-year-old Javier Baez, who hit .273-14-59 with 12 steals in 142 games – and started games at 3B, 2B, SS and 1B during the season. This post-season, Baez is hitting .342, with one home run and seven RBI in ten games.

Jason Kipnis photo

Jason Kipnis handles 2B for the Tribe. Photo by Keith Allison

Second base for Cleveland is handled by 29-year-old, six-year MLB veteran, Jason Kipnis a two-time All Star who hit .275-23-82, with 15 steals. This post season, Kipnis is hitting .167 (five-for-thirty) with two home runs and four RBI.  In the field, BBRT would give an edge in reliability to Kipnis.

Second Base: Advantage – Indians







Third Base

Both the Indians and Cubs boast young stars who had career years at third base.

The Indians’ Jose Ramirez – like Napoli at 1B – had a career year, hitting .312, with 11 home runs, 76 RBI and 22 steals in 152 games (and getting starts at 3B, LF, 2B and SS). Any team would be glad to have a 24-year-old versatile infielder/outfielder who could put up those kinds of numbers. (Note: Ramirez is hitting .222 this post season.)

Kris Bryant Cubs photo

MVP candidate Kris Bryant. Photo by Minda Haas Kuhlmann

However, the Cubs have an equally versatile defender at the hot corner, who put up MVP-level numbers in 2016. Kris Bryant, also 24-years-old, played in 155 games this past season – hitting .292, with 39 home runs, 102 RBI and a league-leading 121 runs scored. Bryant got starts at 3B, LF, RF and 1B during the season.  Thus far in the post season, he is hitting .333, with one home run and three RBI.

Third Base: Advantage – Cubs



Francisco Lindor photo

Francisco Lindor, Indians’ star shortstop. Photo by apardavila

Addison Russell, the Cubs’ up and coming 22-year-old shortstop showed solid defense and good power in 2016 – .238-21-95 in 151 games.  However, he is outpaced in the field and at the plate by the Indians’ Francisco Lindor, who – in just his second MLB season – showed Gold Glove-worthy defense, while hitting .301-15-78, with 19 steals in 158 games. In the post season, Lindor has been hot – .323-2-4 in eight games. Russell’s 2016 post-season stat line is .189-2-4.

Shortstop: Advantage – Indians


Left Field

Versatile veteran Ben Zobrist (11 major league seasons) will be in left field for the Cubs.  He was an All Star this season, hitting .272, with 18 home runs, 94 runs scored and 76 RBI. He is also a veteran of 47 post-season games, although he has managed only six hits in 36 at bats this post-season.

The Indians seem likely to platoon in LF with switch-hitter Coco Crisp and the right-handed hitting Brandon Guyer.  The veteran Crisp (15 MLB seasons), who hit.231-13-55, with ten steals, in the regular season has gotten most of the time in LF this post season. He’s delivered three hits in 14 at bats in the ALDS and ALCS. Guyer seems to offer more potential on offense.  This past season, he hit .266, with nine home runs and 32 RBI in 101 games (Rays and Indians). Thus far, he’s gotten only eight at bats in the post season, but delivered three hits, two runs and an RBI.  We may see more of him in the World Series.

Left Field: Advantage –  Cubs


Center Field

This is another situation in which the position seems more stable with the Cubs, who put Dexter Fowler out in center nearly every game.  The 30-year-old Fowler, in his ninth season, was an All Star for the first time in 2016. He hit .276-13-48, with 84 runs scored and 13 steals in 125 games. This post season, Fowler is hitting .262, with one home run, four RBI and six runs scored.

The Indians can look to left-handed hitting Tyler Naquin and right-handed Rajai Davis to handle the center of the garden – both offer good defense, speed and enough offense at the position. Naquin, a 25-year-old rookie hit .296-14-43, with six steals and 52 runs scored in 116 games (90 starts in center), while Davis (an 11-season MLB veteran) hit .249-12-48, but led the AL with 43 steals in 134 games (66 starts in CF). Naquin is hitting just .188 in the post season, while Davis has yet to get a hit in 13 2016 post-season at bats.

Center Field: This is a draw, Fowler is the steadier option, but if Naquin or Davis can heat up a bit, the potential to do more damage is there.


Right Field

I’m making a big assumption here – that the Cubs keep sending Jason Heyward, an offensive disappointment, out to right field. Heyward hit just .230-7-49 during the regular season. Those numbers were all MLB-season lows for him. Still he brings Gold Glove defense (which may be keeping him in the lineup despite just two hits in 28 at bats this post season) and the Cubs have enough offense to opt for his leather.

The Indians send Lonnie Chisenhall out to right field – and he fared a lot better in the regular season than Heyward. The left-handed hitting Chisenhall hit .286-8-57 in 126 games; and has delivered a .269 average this post season.  Heyward delivers superior defense, but I have to go with Chisenhall on this one.

Right Field: Advantage – Indians


Designated Hitter

Carlos Santana Indians photo

Carlos Santana – brings experience and powerf tgo DH role. Photo by Keith Allison

Both teams have versatile players who could play in the field or at DH in AL parks. Most likely, however, the Indians will go with Carlos Santana (who can all fill in at 1B or C in a pinch) and the Cubs with Jorge Soler or Kyle Schwarber (coming off the DL). Santana is a proven power hitter, who delivered a .259-34-87 season and is hitting .250 in the post season.  He’s also familiar and comfortable with the DH role.

Jorge Soler hit .238-12-31 in 86 games for the Cubs (56 starts in the OF) and is hitless in eight at bats this post season.  The Cubs also have Kyle Schwarber back from a torn ACL that has shelved him for nearly the entire season. If the 23-year-old – who hit .246 with 16 home runs in 69 games after a 2015 call up – has his timing back, he could add to the Cubs’ offense.  Still, Santana has more to offer – at a significantly lower risk,

DH:  Advantage –  Indians


I tweet baseball @David BBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Top 2016 Regular Season Award Candidates – And a Bit of History

First, a disclaimer.  Baseball Roundtable has never claimed to be the best prognosticator – although this year I did get seven of the ten playoffs teams correct in a February 8 post. I missed the Indians and Orioles in the AL (had the Astros and Tigers) and the Nationals in the NL (had the Cardinals).  My predictions for the post season, made October 3, were less accurate – although I still have a chance to be right on the World Series winner.  I have the Cubs winning the Series (just against the Red Sox). Surprises for me?  After an offensive slump in September/October, I did not expect the Blue Jays to get past the Rangers. (Note: the Jays scored the fewest runs in the AL after Aguste 31.) I also underestimated Terry Francona’s ability to manage a pitching staff.

So now, I intend to sit back and enjoy the rest of the post-season – and root for a Cubs/Indians World Series – and (in this post) present BBRT’s selections (and predictions) for MLB’s major 2016 regular season awards.


National League ROY – Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers

Corey Seager photo

Photo by apardavila

The competition for NL Rookie of the Year comes down to a pair of young, power-hitting shortstops – Corey Seager of the Dodgers and Trevor Story of the Rockies.  Seager gets the edge, largely because Story’s season was interrupted by injury.

Seager, the Dodgers’ 22-year-old shortstop was a 2015 September call up and – while not getting enough playing time to lose his rookie status – hit .337, with four home runs and 17 RBI in 27 games.  (In four minor league seasons, Seager put up a stat line of .312-62-278 in 390 games.)  In 2016, Seager proved his late-season 2015 performance was no fluke, playing in 157 games, and hitting .308, with 26 home runs, 105 runs scored, and 72 RBI. He made the 2016 NL All Star team and played a key role in getting the Dodgers to the post-season. He is the real deal.

Seager’s main competition for the ROY Award comes from the early-season rookie “story” of the year – Colorado’s 23-year-old shortstop Trevor Story. After hitting .340 in Spring Training, Story started the season with a bang (several bangs, in fact).  He homered in his first four regular season games (six home runs in those four contests).  Story went on to tie the MLB record for rookie home runs in April with ten long balls – finishing the month with a .261 average, ten homers, 19 runs scored and  20 RBI in 22 games. Unfortunately, in early August, Story suffered a thumb injury that required season-ending surgery. He ended 2016 with a .272 average, 27 home runs, 72 RBI and eight steals in just 97 games.

BBRT Selection:  Corey Seager    

BBRT Prediction:  Corey Seager

Brotherly Love (of the long ball)

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Dodgers’ SS Corey Seager and Mariners’ 3B Kyle Seager are the first brothers to hit 25 or more home runs in the same MLB season. Corey finished 2016 with 26 round trippers, Kyle with 30.      

American League ROY – Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees

Gary Sanchez Yankees photo

Photo by apardavila

Timing may prove to be everything when the votes are counted for AL Rookie of the Year.  BBRT expects a very close vote and gives the nod to Yankees’ 23-year-old catcher Gary Sanchez – although the fact that he played in only 53 games may work against him. The stats, however, back up his candidacy: a .299 average, 20 home runs, 34 runs scored, 42 RBI and 24 walks drawn (again, in just 53 games) – with virtually all of the damage done after August 1.  Couple that with his praiseworthy work behind the plate and you have a deserving Rookie of the Year candidate. Before his August call up, Sanchez hit .282-10-50 in 71 games at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  BBRT side note: Sanchez was called up to the Yankees late in 2015 – made his major league debut on October 3 –  and (few fans may realize) was included on the Yankees’ 2015 post-season roster.

The fewest games ever played by a non-pitcher in a Rookie of the Year season is 52 by Giants’ 1B Willie McCovey in 1959. He played his first game on July 30 and went to post a .354 average, with 13 home runs and 38 RBI.

BBRT sees Sanchez’ main competition coming from Tigers’ RHP Michael Fulmer (acquired by the Tigers from the Mets in the July 2015 trade for Yeonis Cespedes). The 23-year-old Fulmer went 11-7 (26 starts – 159 innings), with a 3.06 ERA.  Timing may be important here. Fulmer, who got his first start April 29, was 9-2, with a 2.50 ERA at the end of July. In August and September, Fulmer went 2-5, 3.59. Fulmer needs to hope the voters remember his May performance – when he went 3-1 with a 0.61 ERA (two earned runs in 29 2/3 innings).

BBRT Selection:  Gary Sanchez    

BBRT Prediction:  Gary Sanchez (in a very close vote)

From 1992 through 1996, the LA Dodgers had a record five consecutive Rookie of the Year Award winners: 1B Eric Karros (1992); C Mike Piazza (1993); OF Raul Mondesi (1994); SP Hideo Nomo (1995); OF Todd Hollandsworth (1996).  



American League MVP – Mookie Betts, RF, Red Sox

Mookie Betts photo

Photo by Keith Allison

This is a tough one to call – Mookie Betts, David Ortiz, Jose Altuve, Mike Trout and, perhaps, Josh Donaldson can all make a good case.  However, there is a need to narrow it down.  As BBRT considers these candidates, I remind myself that this is not the award for best player of the season – but, rather (by its own definition) for most valuable player (to his team).  So, despite another stellar season by the Angels’ CF Mike Trout (.315-29-100, with 30 steals), the Angels’ fourth-place finish becomes a factor.  Then there is David Ortiz’ unbelievable season – in which he pretty much demolished the record book for accomplishments at age 40 or over with a .315-38-127 line. Big Papi slips a bit on my ballot because of his role as DH, but he is likely to get an emotional boost in the actual balloting based on his career, age and attitude.  His leadership – on and off the field – has long meant a lot to this team. Then there is Josh Donaldson, a key element in Toronto’s 2016 success, who put up a .284-37-99 line, with 122 runs.  Still, BBRT sees his impact a bit short of either of the two players on my list I haven’t touched upon yet – Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve.

Altuve led the AL in batting average at .338 and base hits at 216, while also smacking 24 home runs, scoring 108 runs, driving in 96 and stealing 30 bases – all the time serving as the spark plug for the Astros’ offense. Just 26-years-old, the 5’6”, 165-pound Astros’ 2B already has two batting crowns, two stolen base titles, three consecutive 200-hit seasons, a Gold Glove and four All Star selections – and he seems to just keep getting better.  What he doesn’t have is an MVP Award – and I don’t think it’s coming this year. (It might have, if the Astros had made the playoffs.)  BBRT’s choice for AL MVP is Red Sox’ RF Mookie Betts – who did a little bit (a lot, actually) of everything. Betts hit .318 on the season, launched 31 home runs, scored 122, drove in 113 and stole 26 bases.  How does all that flesh out?  He was second in the AL in average, runs scored and base hits; third in doubles, fourth in RBI, sixth in stolen bases.  Betts is just 24-years-old and, like Altuve, just seems to keep improving.  Betts would get BBRT’s vote (if I had one) for AL MVP.  If he doesn’t win it, I expect it will end up as a career-topping tribute to the performance and presence of David Ortiz.

BBRT Selection:  Mookie Betts   

BBRT Prediction: David Ortiz

 You could make a pretty good All Star team of players who have won two or more consecutive MVP Awards:

        C –    Yogi Berra, Yankees (1954-55)

        1B – Albert Pujols (2008-09)

        2B – Joe Morgan, Reds (1975-76)

        3B – Mike Schmidt, Phillies (1980-81)

         SS – Ernie Banks, Cubs (1958-59)

         OF – Barry Bonds/ Pirates (1992), Giants (1993); Giants (2001-04)

         OF – Mickey Mantle, Yankees (1956-57)

         OF – Dale Murphy, Braves (1982-83)

           P –    Hal Newhouser, Tigers (1944-45)

           Bench:    Roger Maris, OF, Yankees (1960-61)

                             Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Tigers (2012- 13)

National League MVP – Kris Bryant, 3B-plus, Cubs

Kris Bryant photo

Photo by apardavila

Really not much of a race here.  Yes, there will be votes cast for Nationals’ 2B Daniel Murphy (.347-25-104), Dodgers’ SS Corey Seager (although the votes cast for Rookie of the Year may work against him) and Rockies’ master of leather and lumber 3B Nolan Arenado (who led the NL in home runs and RBI for the second straight season and is likely to pick up his fourth Gold Glove).  However, Kris Bryant should win the NL MVP Award hands down – he was the most valuable player on MLB’s winningest team.  The 24-year-old Bryant, the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, played in 155 games, hitting .292, with a league-leading 121 runs scored, 39 home runs and 102 RBI (not to mention eight steals).  In the process, he started games at 3B, LF, RF, 1B and SS. Bryant’s contributions – at the plate and all around the diamond – pretty much define the term “MVP”.  His presence made manager Joe Maddon’s job a whole lot easier.


BBRT Selection; Kris Bryant   

BBRT Prediction:  Kris Bryant


Here’s a BBRT rant you have heard before, but BBRT is nothing if not consistent.  I believe we need another major award in MLB – recognizing each season’s best position player (to include the DH position).  Pitchers have the Cy Young Award – recognizing each season’s best pitcher.  There is, however, no equivalent award reserved for the best performance by a position player. While some would argue the MVP Award serves that purpose, the fact that numerous pitchers have won the MVP over the years argues against that contention. I believe we need a position player award equivalent to the Cy Young, as well as the MVP Award (based on contributions to team success).



National League Cy Young Award – Max Scherzer, RHP, Nationals

Max Scherzer photo

Photo by apardavila

BBRT sees the NL Cy Young race as Max Scherzer, followed by “Pick a Cub,” the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez, and a pair of Giants (Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner). Why separates Scherzer from this very talented pack? The Nationals’ righty:

  • Led the NL in wins (20 – the league’s only 20-game winner);
  • Led all of MLB in strikeouts with 284 (30 ahead of Justin Verlander’s second-best total) and WHIP (0.97);
  • Topped the NL in innings pitched (228 1/3); and
  • Turned in a 2.96 ERA – one of just eight qualifying hurlers to come in under 3.00.

That combination is enough to give Scherzer the edge in a very tough Cy Young Awqrd race.

For a list of contenders, look first to the Cubs’ staff.  You have Kyle Hendricks (16-8, with MLB’s lowest ERA at 2.13); Jon Lester (19-4, 2.44, with 197 strikeouts in 202 2/3 innings); and Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10). Then there’s the Marlins’ young star Jose Fernandez (who died in a tragic late September boating accident) at 16-8, 2.86, with 253 strikeouts in just 182 1/3 innings.  Finally, you have Giants Johnny Cueto, who had an all-around solid season at 18-5, 2.79, and Madison Bumgarner (15-9, 2.74, with 251 K’s in 222 2/3 innings).   There’s lots of talent here, but I think Scherzer’s numbers stand out from the small crowd at the top of the NL.

BBRT Selection:  Max Scherzer   

BBRT Prediction: Max Scherzer

A few Cy Young Award “firsts:”

      – First winner – Don Newcombe, Dodgers (1956)

      – First southpaw winner – Warren Spahn, Braves, 1957

      – First relief pitcher winner – Mike Marshall, Dodgers, 1974

      – First rookie to win the CYA – Fernando Valenzuela, Dodgers (1981)

       – First to win CYA and MVP in same season – Don Newcombe,                         Dodgers (1956)  

       –  First shared (tied) CYA – Denny McLain, Tigers & Mike Cueller,                  Orioles (1969)

        – First pitcher to win the CYA in both leagues – Gaylord Perry,                         Indians (1972)/Padres (1978)

American League Cy Young Award – Rick Porcello, RHP. Red Sox

Rick Porcello Red sox photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Rick Porcello of the Red Sox is an imposing presence on the mound at 6’ 5” and 205 pounds.  Well, the big guy had a big year in 2016 – leading all of MLB with 22 victories (against only four losses). In his 33 starts, Porcello recorded a 3.15 ERA (fifth-best in the AL), 1.01 WHIP (second-best in the AL) and fanned 189 batters (AL’s eighth-most) in 223 innings pitched (AL’s fourth-highest).  Also in the mix are the Indians’ Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14, with 222 strikeouts in 215 innings); the Tigers’ Justin Verlander (16-9, 3.04, with a league-leading 254 K’s in 227 2/3 innings); the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ (20-5, 3.18), and Orioles’ closer Zach Britton (47-for-47 in save opportunities. with a miniscule 0.54 ERA in 67 innings). BBRT has to go with Porcello’s 22 victories and .846 winning percentage.  The most likely pitchers to sneak past Porcello would be Britton and his perfect record in saves or Verlander (those 250+ strikeouts will garner a few votes).  As an aside, 2016 saw Porcello (in his eighth MLB season) record his highest-ever numbers in wins, winning percentage, innings pitched and strikeouts – and his lowest-ever season ERA.

BBRT Selection: Rick Porcello  

BBRT Prediction: Rick Porcello

In 2016, eight MLB pitchers qualifying for the ERA title finished the season under 3.00 – and all eight were in the National League (with the two lowest ERAs belonging to Cubs’ hurlers Kyle Hendricks at 2.13 and Jon Lester at 2.44).  The lowest qualifying American ERA went to the Blue Jays’ Aaron Sanchez at 3.00.



American League Manager of the Year– Terry Francona, Indians

Terry Francona photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Okay, John Farrell did take the Red Sox from worst to first and Rangers’ Manager Jeff Bannister overcame lost time by Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis (not to mention Prince Fielder’s injury-forced retirement), but BBRT leans toward the Indians’ Terry Francona for AL Manager of the Year. Francona led the Tribe to the top of the AL Central (BBRT didn’t even pick the Tribe to make the post season) with a 94-67 record.  Francona pushed the Indians to the top despite a series of injuries (Michael Brantley, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, Yan Gomes). In the process, he earned continued praise as a manager who effectively handles a pitching staff under stress and uses position-player platooning to adjust for injuries, balance playing time and put winning combinations on the field.  I expect the voting will be close, but Francona should edge Bannister for the recognition. (Side note: Jeff Bannister was the 2015 AL Manager of the Year and only once has a manager received this recognition in consecutive seasons: Bobby Cox, Braves, 2004 & 2005).

BBRT: Selection: Terry Francona

BBRT Prediction: Terry Francona

National League Manager of the Year  – Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers

Dave roberts dodgers photo

Photo by Malingering

This looks like a three-way race between the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts, Nationals’ Dusty Baker and Cubs’ Joe Maddon.  All three managers had plenty of talent on the roster – and were expected to make the post-season.  BBRT gives Roberts the edge here for a couple of reasons.  First, Joe Maddon and Dusty Baker were already proven commodities. Maddon and Baker are both three-time Manager of the Year Award winners, while Roberts came into the season with one game of managerial experience. (Roberts filled in when the Padres fired manager Bud Black in June of last year.  He managed one game – a 9-1 loss to Oakland – before Pat Murphy was hired as manager and Roberts returned to the coaching staff.)   As a Rookie manager, Roberts led the Dodgers to a 91-71 record and the NL West title.  Not only that, he did it despite placing an MLB-record 28 players on the disabled list during the season – including staff Ace Clayton Kershaw (who, at one point, went 75 days between starts).  Bringing the Dodgers home in first place, despite an ever-changing lineup, bench and pitching staff (LA used 31 pitchers, including 15 different starters) give this rookie manager BBRT’s vote.

BBRT Selection:  Dave Roberts    

BBRT Prediction: Dave Roberts


Established in 1983, the Manager of the Year Award has gone to 44 different managers.  Here are a few tidbits:

     – La-La Land: The first ever Manager of the Year Awards (1983) went to Tony La Russa (White Sox) and Tommy Lasorda (Dodgers).

     – The most MOY Awards (four each) have gone to Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa. Cox won his awards with the Blue Jays (1985) and Braves (1991, 2004, 2005). La Russa won with the White Sox (1983), A’s (1988, 1992) and Cardinals (2002).

     – The first manager to win the award in both leagues was Bobby Cox (see above bullet).

     – Bobby Cox is the only manager to win the award in consecutive seasons

     – 47 MOY Awards have gone to first-place finishers; 15 to second-place finishers; four to third-place finishers; and one to a fourth-place finisher.

     – The only manager to win the MOY Award with a team that finished under .500 was Joe Girardi, who managed the 2006 Florida Marlins to a 78-84 fourth-place finish. (BBRT note: Girardi was fired after the season, despite winning Manager of the Year.)

Coming Soon – A look at the Baseball Hall of Fame 2017 Today’s Game Era ballot.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

September Wrap Up – Pennant Races, Pinch Hit Homers, and a Host of Hounds

The 2016 regular season is behind us, and that means it’s time for another BBRT monthly wrap up.  So, in this very lo-o-o-ong post, we’ll look at September records, stats and happenings; season-ending stats and observations; September monthly BBRT honors; and post-season predictions. Note: I normally post the wrap up on the first of the next month, but this time I decided to wait until October 2 (to include the end-of-season stats.)

September gave us plenty to look at, with such occurrences as:

  • The Cardinals setting a new MLB season record for pinch-hit home runs;
  • The White Sox setting a new record for dogs attending a sporting event; and
  • The Indians using a record nine pitchers to deliver a shutout.

We also saw some full-season accomplishments like:

  • David Ortiz, in his final season, setting new major league records for doubles, home runs and RBI in a season at age 40 or over (his final numbers: .315-48-127, with 48 doubles);
  • Zach Britton going 47-for-47 save in converting save opportunities – and setting an MLB record for the lowest ERA for a pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched;
  • The Twins matching an MLB record by having four players with double-digit home runs;
  • The Cardinals hitting a record 17 pinch-hit home runs;
  • Three players appearing in all 162 games.

This post will cover these occurrences and more, but first a look at the upcoming post-season.

Post Season Participants

'Cubs Win! Cubs Win!' -- 10:41 am CDT April 13, 2012, Wrigley Field Chicago (IL)There were no tight Divisional races as September came to a close. Your Division champs were the Indians, Red Sox, Rangers, Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers – and, as of September 30, all had leads of at least five games (Red Sox over Orioles), with the Cubs having the largest margin at 18 ½ games over the second-place Cardinals.

The Wild Card races were still to be decided as September came to a close.  In the AL the Orioles held a one game edge over the Blue Jays, with the Tigers ½-game behind the Jays and the Mariners one game out of the final spot. Over the final weekend, Detroit and Seattle both went 0-2, dropping out of the Wild Card competition.  Over in the NL, three teams were competing for two Wild Card spots, with the Mets one game up on the Giants and the Cardinals trailing San Francisco by one game for the final WC spot. The Mets split their final two contests, while the Cardinals and Giants both went 2-0 – knocking the Cardinals out of the post season.  You can find full standings and won-lost records (full season and September) at the end of this post.  

Your Final Playoff Teams:

AL: Division Champions: Red Sox, Indians, Rangers.  Wild Cards:  Orioles, Blue Jays.

NL: Division Champions: Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers. Wild Cards: Mets, Giants.

—–Baseball Roundtable Quick Picks for the Playoffs—–

Wild Card Play In

ORIOLES over Blue Jays: Two power-focused, high-scoring offenses, but pitching gives the Orioles the edge.

GIANTS over the Mets: Noah Syndergaard versus Madison Bumgarner – a great matchup.  BBRT goes with MadBum’s post-season experience.  Off-the-wall prediction … MadBum gets an RBI double in this one.


ORIOLES over Rangers: A tough series, with both teams facing late-season issues with starting pitching.  BBRT thinks Orioles’ bullpen will be the difference maker.

RED SOX over Indians:  The BoSox have a balanced attack – a veteran presence – and enough pitching to keep David Ortiz on the field for at least another series.  Still, if David Price falters, the Indians could sneak by. 


CUBS over Giants: MadBum can’t pitch every day and the Cubs have a solid offense – plus Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks to start and Aroldis Chapman to close the door. Having to use Madison Bumgarner in the Wild Card game will hurt the Giants. For the Giants to win, Johnny Cueto has to pitch like a stud and Buster Posey has to hit like an MVP.  I just don’t think they have the horses.

 DODGERS over the Nationals.  The Dodgers will ride solid pitching to a series’ win.  Off-the-wall prediction: Clayton Kershaw, 2-6, 4.59 in 13 post-season games, will go 2-0, with an ERA under two in this series; and Kenta Maeda will shine.


RED SOX over Orioles: The Red Sox just have too much for the O’s – and Big Papi wants to go out with a bang. Hanley Ramirez has been hot, Mookie Betts could be the ALCS MVP.  Off-the-wall prediction: Zach Britton blows his first save of 2016 in this series.


CUBS over the Dodgers: See the NLDS, the Cubs have a young powerful offense (led by Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo), stellar pitching and destiny on their side. Off-the-wall prediction: Ben Zobrist hits a pair of key home runs in this series.


Two revered franchises. Seven games. A classic. Who wins?  Toss up, but I give the CUBS the edge. (It’s a long and tiring season and they have youth on their side.  I also like Kyle Hendriks and Jon Lester to win two games each. David Price may be the key for the Red Sox – along, of course, with the impact of Big Papi leading the emotional charge. Still, I see – Cubs Win! Cubs Win!


Fenway Park photo

Photo by Trace Meek

September’s winningest team was the Red Sox, who secured the Division title with a 19-8 month. Over in the NL, the Dodgers and Cubs both went 17-10 to lead the senior circuit in September wins. Other teams with at least 16 victories in the month were the Mariners (18-9); Mets (17-10); Orioles (16-11); Indians (16-11) – and the surprising Braves (16-10).

The Red Sox earned those 19 victories at the plate, on the mound and in the field – giving up the fewest September runs in MLB (85), while scoring MLB’s most runs for the month with 150.  In the process, they achieved the AL’s second-lowest September 2016 ERA at 3.05 (only Baltimore was better at 2.90) and the league’s third-highest batting average at .275.

The worst September performance?  The Twins at 8-19, the only team to record less than ten wins. (The Twins finished the season an MLB-worst 59-103.) In the NL, the worst September record belonged to the Phillies at 10-17.  The Twins were almost the mirror image of the Red Sox. Minnesota gave up the most runs in the AL (154) in September, while scoring the league’s third-fewest (107).

Before we get into details, highlights and stats for September, let’s look at BBRT’s Honor Roll for the month.

—–Baseball Roundtable September Honors—–

AL Player of the Month – Miguel Cabrera 1B, Tigers

Cabrera put up solid offensive numbers across the board in September: a .347 average (fifth in the AL among players with at least 75 plate appearances); 10 home runs (second in the AL); 27 RBI (second in the AL); and 20 runs scored (fourth in the AL).  Among the other players high on BBRT’s September list were Royals’ DH Kendrys Morales, with an MLB-leading 30 RBI, to go along with a .333 September average and eight home runs; and Tigers’ LF Justin Upton (.307-12-27 for the month). Red Sox’ DH David Ortiz (a sentimental favorite) was also in the running at .33-7-25.  A close call, but Miggy gets the nod.

NL Player of the Month – Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves

Freddie freeman photo

Photo by Neon Tommy

When Braves first-sacker Freddie Freeman went hitless in four at bats on September 29, it was his first hitless game in the month of September – and it ended 2016’s longest MLB hitting streak (which began on August 24) at 30 games. During the streak, Freeman hit .384 with seven home runs, 26 runs scored and 27 RBI, raising his batting average from .288 to .308.  For the month of September – during which the Braves  surprised baseball by going 16-10,  hitting .292 as a team and leading the NL in runs scored – Freeman hit .385 (tied for best in the NL), with six home runs, 22 runs scored (tied for third in the NL) and 22 RBI (tied for second in the NL). Freeman also drew 18 walks – contributing to an MLB-best .486 on base percentage. Freeman’s primary competition for BBRT Player of the Month for September was his teammate, LF Matt Kemp. Kemp hit .337 in September, with nine home runs, while matching Freeman in runs scored (22) and RBI (22). Freeman’s streak and on-base-percentage (102 points higher than Kemp’s) gave him the edge.

AL Pitcher of the Month – Rick Porcello, RHP, Red Sox

Rick porcello red sox photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Five AL hurlers picked up four victories in September and, among those five, Rick Porcello (4-1, 2.70) was second in ERA  (2.70), second in WHIP (0.88), first in innings pitched (he led the league with 43 1/3 innings) and third in strikeouts (37). Couple that with the fact that Porcello’s fourth September win was his 22nd of the season – against just four losses – and he earns BBRT Pitcher of the Month (and a likely a favorite’s position in the AL Cy Young balloting).  The key competition came from resurgent Tigers’ RHP Justin Verlander, who – despite going just 2-1 in five starts – put up the AL’s third-best ERA for the month at 1.93 (behind only the 1.44 of A’s RHP Jharel Cotton and the 1.85 of Angels’ RHP Rickey Nolasco). Verlander also led the league (and all of MLB) in strikeouts for the month, with 48 in 32 2/3 innings.  

NL Pitcher of the Month, Jon Lester, LHP Cubs

Easy pick here. Cubs’ southpaw John Lester was the only MLB pitcher to earn five wins in September (5-0 in five starts) and had MLB’s lowest ERA for the month at 0.48. Lester gave up just two earned runs in 37 2/3 innings pitched. For the month, opposing batters hit just .171 against Lester. In his five starts, he averaged just over 7 1/3 innings pitched, 4.4 hits, 0.8 walks, 6.2 strikeouts and 0.4 earned runs.  Lester finished the season 19-4, 2.28 – having won his last ten decisions (in 14 starts). His last loss came on July 3.

AL Team of the Month – Boston Red Sox, 19-8

The Red Sox finished August 74-59, two games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East.  They then went 19-8 in September to take control of the East, clinching the Division title on September 28. The Red Sox used a combination of pitching and hitting to earn Team of the Month recognition – giving up the fewest runs in the AL (85) and scoring the league’s most (150). Leading the Red Sox to a 3.05 ERA for the month (second-best in the AL) were starter Rick Porcello (4-1, 2.70) and Eduardo Rodriguez (1-1, 2.89). David Price added four wins (versus one loss), but did post a 4.35 ERA.  In the bullpen, closer Brad Ziegler was ten-for-ten in save opportunities, and did not give up a single earned run in 12 appearances. Bullpen mates Koji Uehara (11 appearances) and Junichi Tazawa (five appearances) also boasted ERA’s of 0.00 for the month, and Joe Kelly gave up just one earned run in 10 appearances (0.75 ERA for the month.)

On offense, 1B Hanley Ramirez (.313-10-26) and DH David Ortiz (.333-7-25) provided the bulk of the power, with plenty of help from the likes of RF Mookie Betts (.314 with 17 runs scored and five steals) and 2B Dustin Pedroia (.315 with 18 runs scored).

NL Team of the Month – Atlanta Braves, 16-10

The Braves entered September with a dismal 50-83 record and then surprised everyone with a 16-10 September – built primarily around their offense.  For the month, the Braves logged the ninth-best (or seventh-worst) ERA at 4.50, but led the NL (and all of MLB) in batting average at .292.  They gave up the eighth-most runs in the league (123), but plated the most tallies (143).  Leading the offensive surge for the Braves were: LF Matt Kemp (.337-9-22 for September) and 1B Freddie Freeman (.385-6-22) – with notable contributions from CF Ender Inciarte (.324 with an NL-leading 23 runs scored), 3B Adonis Garcia (.277-3-17, with 19 runs scored) and SS Danby Swanson (.313-3-13, with 14 runs scored).

Now, how about September team stats?




AL:  Orioles – 2.90; Red Sox – 3.05; Mariners – 3.22

NL:  Dodgers – 3.00; Cubs – 3.08; Brewers – 3.28

Five MLB teams had ERA’s over 5.00 for the month of September: Royals – 5.37; Twins – 5.13; Phillies – 5.12; D-backs – 5.05; Rockies – 5.02.

Fewest Runs Allowed

AL: Red Sox – 85: Orioles – 89; Mariners – 103

NL: Dodgers – 89; Cubs – 95; Mets – 95

Four teams gave up 150 or more runs in September: Rockies – 165; Pirates – 159; Twins – 154; Phillies – 153; Royals – 150.

Earned Runs Allowed

AL: Orioles – 78; Red Sox – 81; Mariners – 88

NL: Dodgers – 80; Cubs – 85; Brewers – 86

Only two MLB teams gave up 140+ earned runs in September: Royals – 143; Twins -141. The Phillies gave up the most earned runs in the NL (137).


AL: Indians – 240; Red Sox – 238; Tigers – 237

NL: Dodgers – 268; Mets – 250; Giants; 248; Cubs – 248

The Dodgers led all of MLB in strikeouts per nine innings in September at 10.06. Other teams reaching at least nine K’s per nine innings for the month were: Tigers (9.34); Nationals (9.13); Mets (9.12); Indians (9.04); Cubs (9.00).

Fewest Walks Allowed

AL:  A’s – 65; Red Sox – 68; Indians – 71

NL: Brewers – 70; Dodgers – 71; Cubs – 73

No team walked more batters than the Reds, who handed out 113 free passes in September. The Yankees’ staff walked the most hitters in the AL for the month at 102.  Coincidentally (or perhaps  not), the Reds also gave up the most September home runs in the NL (41), while the Yankees gave up the most long balls in the AL (39).


AL:  Rangers – 10; Red Sox – 9; Yankees – 9

NL: Mets – 9; Padres – 9; Marlins – 9.

Only two teams completed September without a blown save during the month: the Cubs and Indians (each with six saves). The Phillies had the worst save percentage for the month, with just five saves in 13 opportunities (38.5%).

Batting Average (hitters)

AL: White Sox – .286; Tigers – .278; Red Sox – .275

NL: Braves – .292; Reds – .286; Rockies – .273

The Padres had MLB’s lowest September batting average at .230, while the Twins were at the bottom of the AL at .231.

Runs Scored

Al: Red Sox – 150; White Sox – 148; Mariners – 147

NL: Braves – 143; Mets – 141; D-backs – 134

Only the Marlins scored fewer than 100 runs in September (99); while the usually high-scoring Blue Jays plated the fewest runners in the AL (100).

Home Runs

AL: Mariners – 42; Orioles – 41; Twins – 41

NL: Brewers – 42; Mets – 39; D-backs – 39

Just two teams launched fewer than 20 long balls in September; the Marlins (17) and the Indians (19). 

Stolen Bases

AL: Royals – 31; Indians – 26; Angels 23

NL: Brewer – 31; Nationals – 25; Phillies – 24

Seattle had the best stolen base percentage for September, safely swiping 14 bags in 15 attempts (93.3%). The Tigers were the only team to be thrown out in more than half their steal attempts, being gunned down seven times in 13 attempts.


—–Now let’s look at some intriguing happenings from September—–

Not Exactly a Perfect time to go to the Pen

On September 10, Dodgers’ southpaw Rich Hill was definitely on his game. In fact, after seven innings – and 89 pitches – Hill was pitching a perfect game against the Marlins, boasting a 5-0 lead and nine strikeouts. It was at that time that Dodger Manager Dave Roberts decided to replace Hill (who had earlier spent time on the disabled list with blister issues) with reliever Joe Blanton (who retired the first two batters in the eighth before LF Jeff Francoeur hit a single). The Marlins ended up with two hits, the Dodgers ended up with a 5-0 win – and Hill ended up with a victory, but no “perfecto.”  BBRT note: There has never been a combined perfect game in MLB. Second BBRT note: At least they were playing in Miami, imagine the uproar it they had been at home.  Third BBRT note: If that had been Jack Morris on the mound, Roberts would have needed the Fire Department and the “Jaws of Life” to pry the ball out of his hands.

Complete Games – We Don’t need Not Stinkin’ Complete Games

On September 17, Carlos Carrasco started on the mound (against the Tigers) for the Indians in Cleveland. Carrasco gave up a leadoff single to Tigers’ 2B Ian Kinsler – a line shot off Carrasco’s right hand that broke a finger and knocked him out of the game (and the rest of the season).  What followed was a bit of baseball history, as eight Indians’ relievers held the Tigers scoreless in a 10-inning 1-0 Cleveland victory.  The Elias Sports Bureau reports that it is the most pitchers ever used in a complete-game shutout.  The cast of characters? Carrasco; Jeff Manship (1 1/3 innings pitched); Kyle Crockett (2/3); Cody Anderson (two IP); Zach McCallister, Perci Garner, Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen (one inning each); Andrew Miller (two innings for the win.) Final line:  10 innings, four hits, three walks, ten strikeouts, no runs.

Shut Outs – Usually a Team Effort These Days

In 2016, MLB teams shut out their opponents 276 times – only 11.6 percent of those (32) were complete game shut outs (by a single pitcher). Clayton Kershaw led MLB with three complete game shutouts.

 Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready to Play

On October 2, Alcides Escobar started at SS for the Royals, Jonathan Schoop started at 2B for the Orioles and George Springer started in RF for the Astros.  They had one thing in common, they were each playing in their 162nd game of the 162 -game season – the only three players to do so in 2016.

Off to a Roaring Start  

Gary Sanchez Yankees photo

Photo by apardavila

On September 27, Yankee rookie catcher Gary Sanchez hit his 20th major league home run – in just his 51st major league game. The long ball tied Sanchez with Wally Berger of the Boston Braves (1930) for the fastest track (fewest games) to reach 50 home runs at the start of a career.  Sanchez, who got two at bats in a late 2015 call-up (no hits) and had a zero-for-four game performance for the Yankees in a one-game call up in Mid-May of this season, has been a solid performer since returning to the Yankees on August 3.  The 23-year-old finished the season at .299-20-42 in 53 games – earning mention as a rookie of the year candidate.

Save the Last Dance for Me

On September 28, the Orioles’ Zach Britton picked up the save in a 3-2 Orioles victory in Toronto.  It was his 47th save in 47 2016 opportunities. He appeared in one more game – on October 2 in a non-save situation – pitching 1 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run and setting an MLB record for the lowest ERA for a pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched. Britton gave up just four earned runs in 65 1/3 innings for a 0.54 ERA. His stellar work as a closer helped the Orioles each post-season, where he hopes to notch additional saves in the ‘big dance.”  BBRT note: Britton has a career ERA of 4.86 in 250 innings as a starter and 1.36 in 212 innings of relief.

Keeping he Pressure On

On September 12, the White Sox became the second team to score in every inning of a game this season, as they topped the Indians 11-4 in Chicago. The White Sox became just the 20th team in MLB history to score in every inning of a ball game (Note: Just last month, on August 11th, the Milwaukee Brewers scored in every inning of an 11-3 win over the Braves.)

That’ll do in a Pinch – Or Going to the Matt

On September 6, Matt Carpenter came to the plate as a pinch hitter (with two out in the top of the ninth inning and the Cardinals trailing the Pirates 6-5) in Pittsburgh. Carpenter homered to tie the game – and the Cardinals went on to win 9-7.   The homer not only tied the contest, it gave the Redbirds the record for the most pinch hit home runs a season at 15. The Cardinals extended that record to 17 pinch-hit homers with long balls in that role by Matt Adams on September 27 and Matt Holliday on September 30.

Another Dose of Dozier

Brian Dozier photo

Photo by rtclauss

On September 22 – as the Twins lost to the Tigers 9-2 – Brian Dozier connected for his 42nd home run of the year.  It was his 40th while playing second base (two came as DH), setting a new AL record for home runs hit in a season by a second baseman. It came as Dozier led off the first inning, his 19th career leadoff blast. The MLB record for homers in a season while playing second base (42)  belongs to the Cardinals’ Rogers Hornsby (1922) and the Braves’ Davey Johnson (1973 … Johnson hit 43 that season).


A Doggone Good Performance

On September 13, Chicago White Sox fans turned in a doggone god performance – as the White Sox took on the Indians (at U.S. Cellular Field) on “Bark in the Park” day.  According to the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records, 1,122 dogs attended the game – a world record for dogs attending a sporting event. The honor seems appropriate as the White Sox were the first team to sponsor a day for dogs in the park – a decade ago.  Oh yeah, and the Sox gave the pooches something to howl about, winning the game 8-1.

The Shakespeare of Baseball Retires

On October 2, Vin Scully announced his last game for the Dodgers – ending a 67-year relationship with the team (the longest tenure any announcer has had with a sports team).  Scully’s final game in the broadcast booth was a 7-1 Dodgers’ loss to the rival Giants in San Francisco.  His final call at home, however, was much more appropriate. On September 25, Scully called his last Dodger home game – and it ended with Dodgers’ 2B Charlie Culberson hitting a two-out, extra-inning (11th), walk-off, division-title-clinching home run. The round tripper was, by the way, Culberson’s only home run for the season.

Scully – who won just about every sports broadcasting award available during his career – “called” more than 9,000 Dodger games.  Among key “calls” in Scully’s career were:

  • Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series;
  • Perfect games by Sandy Koufax (1965) and Dennis Martinez (1991), along with 18 no-hitters;
  • Hank Aaron’s 715th homer run;
  • Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit, walk-off home run in Game One of the 1988 World Series;
  • Three World Series (1984, 1986, 1988); four NL Championship Series (1983, 1985, 1987, 1989); and
  • Four All Star games (1983, 1985, 1987, 1989).

Vin Scully – Bits of Trivia

      – Ironically, despite spending a career as a Dodgers’ broadcaster, Scully’s first baseball love was the rival Giants – who played at the Polo Grounds near his childhood home.

      – Known for his smooth harmonious broadcast voice – some referred to it as dulcet – Scully sang in a barbershop quartet during his college years.

      – On June 3, 1989 (a Saturday), Scully did the NBC Game of the Week play-by-play for a 10-inning Cardinals’ win over the Cubs in St. Louis. After the game, Scully flew to Houston, where his Dodgers were playing the Astros. (Scully was to broadcast the Sunday game.) The Saturday game went into extra innings and, rather than go directly to his hotel, Scully went to the ball park – and ended up calling the final 12 innings of that 22-inning contest. Two games, two cities, 23 innings – quite a busy day

Lucky Number Eleven

On September 25, Red Sox pitchers set a major league record by fanning 11 batters in a row – from the second out of the fourth inning to the final out of the seventh – as the Red Sox topped the Rays 3-2 in Tampa. The first six strikeouts (five swinging) went to starter Eduardo Rodriguez, while the last five (four swinging) were notched by reliever Heath Hembree.  Overall, five Red Sox pitchers fanned 23 Rays’ batters in the ten inning contest: 13 by Rodriguez in 5 1/3 innings; five by Hembree in 1 2/3 IP; one by Matt Barnes in 1/3 IP; none by Fernando Abad (who faced one batter and gave up a hit); and four by Joe Kelly in 2 2/3 IP.  And, how lucky was number eleven that day?  It was also the Red Sox’ eleventh consecutive victory.

Tom Terrific

Tom Seaver mets photo

Photo by slgckgc

When Red Sox’ pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez and Heath Hembree set an MLB record by striking out eleven consecutive hitters in a September 25th game against the Rays, they were teaming up to top a “one-man show.”  The previous record of ten straight batters fanned was set on April 22, 1970, by the Mets’ Tom Seaver – who fanned the last ten batters he faced while tossing a complete game and beating the Padres 2-1 in New York.  Seaver’s line for the day: nine innings pitched, two hits, two walks, one earned run and 19 strikeouts.



Not So Lucky Number Eleven

On the final day of the 2016 regular season, Twins’ CF Byron Buxton led off a game against the White Sox (an eventual 6-3 Twins’ win) with an inside-the-park home run. The blast enabled the Twins to tie a major league record – having eleven players on the roster hit double digits (10 or more) in home runs in a single season.  The power display did not pay off in the won-lost column, as the Twins finished the season with MLB’s worst record at 59-103, 35 ½ games out of first place in the AL Central.  The team whose record the Twins tied was the 2004 Tigers – who finished that campaign 70-92, 20 games out of first.



Average (minimum 75 plate appearances)

AL:  Ian Kinsler, Tigers – .386; Elvis Andrus, Rangers – .363; Jarrod Dyson, Royals – .362

NL: Joey Votto, Reds – .385; Freddie Freeman, Braves – .385; Yadier Molina, Cardinals – .371

Among players with at least 75 plate appearances, no one fared worse than Cardinals’ 1B Brandon Moss, who went 7-for-83 in September – a .084 average. In the AL, the lowest average (minimum 75 plate appearances) went to the Twins’ infielder Eduardo Escobar (9-for-85) at .129.

Runs Scored

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 21; Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox – 21; Adam Eaton, White Sox – 21

NL: Curtis Granderson, Mets – 23; Ender Inciarte, Braves – 23; Freddie Freeman, Braves – 22; Matt Kemp, Padres/Braves – 22

Home Runs

AL: Justin Upton, Tigers – 12; Miguel Cabrera, Tigers – 10; Hanley Ramirez Boston, 10

NL: Chris Carter, Brewers – 10; Matt Kemp, Braves – 9; Curtis Granderson, Mets – 8


AL: Kendrys Morales, Royals – 30; Miguel Cabrera, Tigers – 27; Justin Upton, Tigers – 27

NL: Anthony Rendon, Nationals – 23; Matt Kemp, Braves – 22; Chris Carter, Brewers – 22; Freddie Freeman, Braves – 22

Stolen Bases

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 8; Kevin Kiermaier, Rays – 8; two with 7

NL: Dee Gordon, Marlins – 14; Trea Turner, Nationals – 13; Jonathan Villar, Brewers – 10.

Walks Drawn

AL: Joe Baustista, Blue Jays – 23; Mike Trout, Angels – 23; two with 22

NL: Cesar Hernandez, Phillies – 22; Ben Zobrist, Cubs -22; Brandon Belt, Giants – 19

Swing and Miss – Nationals’ shortstop Danny Espinosa led MLB in September strikeouts – fanning 40 times in just 85 at bats (.106 batting average for the month). In the AL, Brian Dozier led the way with 38 whiffs in 111 at bats – but fared better than Espinoza overall, hitting .270 with 10 home runs and 18 RBI for the month.

Earned Run Aveage (minimum 25 innings pitched)

AL: Jharel Cotton, A’s – 1.44; Ricky Nolasco, Angels – 1.85; Justin Verlander, Tigers – 1.93

NL: John Lester, Cubs – 0.48;  Kyle Hendricks, Cubs – 1.38; Johnny Cueto, Giants – 1.78

Looking at pitches with a least four September starts, The Astro’s Doug Pfister had MLB’s worst ERA for the month at 11.74 (30 earned runs in 23 innings over six starts). In the NL, the worst ERA goes to the Pirates’ Ryan Vogelsong (8.72 over 21 2/3 innings in five starts).


AL: Ariel Miranda (Mariners (4-1, 2.62); Rick Porcello, Red Sox (4-1, 2.70); David Price Boston (4-1, 4.35); Taijuan Walker, Mariners (4-2, 4.31); Carlos Rodon, White Sox *4-2, 4.50)

NL: John Lester, Cubs (5-0, 0.48); Johnny Cueto, Giants (4-0, 1.78); Max Scherzer, Nationals (4-0, 2,43); Dan Straily, Reds (4-1, 3.13); Carlos Martinez, cardinals (4-2, 2.92) Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (4-1, 5.46)

The Cardinals scored 41 runs in Adam Wainwright’s five September starts, enabling him to go 4-1, despite a 5.46 ERA for the month. In contrast, fellow Cardinals’ pitcher Mike Leake also had five September starts, with an almost identical 5.47 ERA.  The Cardinals scored just eight runs in Leake’s starts – resulting in a 0-3 record for the month.


AL:  Justin Verlander, Tigers – 48 (32 2/3IP); Carlos Rodon, White Sox – 44 (36 IP); Yu Darvish, Rangers – 42 (28 2/3 IP); Chris Sale, White Sox – 42 (36 IP)

NL: Madison Bumgarner, Giants – 44 (39 IP); Jeff Samardzija, Giants – 42 (36 2/3 IP); Max Scherzer, Nationals – 39 (33 1/3 IP)


AL: Zach Britton, Orioles – 8; Sam Dyson, Rangers – 8; five players with seven

NL: Nark Melancon, Nationals – 8; A.J. Ramos, Marlins – 8; three players with seven


Finally, a look at full year stats– Team and Individuals

—–TEAM Stats 2016—–

Runs Scored

Al: Red Sox – 878; Indians – 777; Mariners – 768

NL: Rockies – 845; Cubs – 808; Cardinals – 779

Batting Average

AL: Red Sox – .282; Tigers – .267; Rangers/Indians – .262

NL: Rockies – .275; Marlins – .263; D-backs – .261

Home Runs

AL: Orioles – 253; Mariners – 223; Blue Jays – 221

NL: Cardinals – 225; Mets – 218; Rockies – 204.

Nobody scored fewer runs in 2016 than the Phillies (610). In the AL, Oakland had the most anemic offense, with just 653 runs. The worst team batting average belonged to the Padres at .235, while the Tampa Bay Rays were at the bottom of the AL (.243). In the power department, Atlanta notched the fewest home runs with 122, while the Royals were at the bottom of the AL with 147.

Stolen Bases

AL: Indians – 134; Royals – 121; Astros – 102

NL: Brewers – 181; Reds – 139; D-backs – 137

The Baltimore Orioles swiped only 19 bags in 2016 (in just 32 attempts). They were the only team in MLB with fewer than 35 steals and fewer than 60 attempts.


AL: Blue Jays – 3.78; Indians  – 3.84; Mariners/Red Sox – 4.00

NL: Cubs – 3.15; Nationals – 3.51; Mets – 3.58

Only two teams in MLB had ERA’s of 5.00+ in 2016:  The D-backs at 5.09 and the Twins at 5.08.


AL: Indians- 1,398; Astros – 1,396; Yankees – 1,393

NL: Dodgers – 1,510; Nationals – 1,476; Cubs -1,441


AL: Rangers – 56; Orioles – 54; Mariners – 49

NL: Mets – 55; Miami – 55; Pirates – 51.

When it comes to converting saves, no team topped the Orioles, who converted 79.4 percent of their 2016 save opportunities. The Mets led the NL at 77.5 percent. At the bottom of the save percentage standings were the Reds (52.8%) and the Twins (56.5%).

Batting Average

AL Jose Altuve, Astros – .338; Mookie Betts, Red Sox – .318; Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox – .318

NL: DJ LeMahieu, Rockies – .348; Daniel Murphy, Nationals – .347; Joey Votto, Reds – .326

Home Runs

AL: Mark Trumbo, Orioles – 47; Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 43; three with 42

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 41; Chris Carter, Brewers – 41, Kris Bryant, Cubs- 39

Run Scored

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 123; Mookie Betts, Red Sox – 122; Josh Donaldsn, Blue Jays – 122

NL: Kris Bryant, Cubs – 121; Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 116; Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 111


AL: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays – 127; David Ortiz, Red Sox – 127; Albert Pujols, Angels – 119

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 133; Anthony Rizzo, Cubs – 109; Matt Kemp, Braves – 108

The lowest batting average among players with a minimum of 500 plate appearances goes to the Nationals’ Danny Espinosa at .209 (108-for-516).  In the AL, the lowest qualifying average goes to the Royals’ Alex Gordon at .220 (98-for-445). Your 2016 strikeout leaders were both named Chris:  Chris Davis, Orioles, with 219 whiffs (.221-38-84 line) and the Brewers’ Chris Carter with 206 strikeouts (.222-41-95). 

Stolen Bases

AL: Rajai Davis, Indians – 43; three with 30

NL: Villar, Brewers – 62; Billy Hamilton, Reds – 58; Starlings Marte, Pirates – 47




                             Won      Lost      Pct.       GB        Sept.         Oct.


Boston                    93         68         .5xx      …        (19-8)        (0-2)

Baltimore                 88         73         .5xx      2.0       (16-11)      (1-1)

Toronto                    88         73         .5xx      4.0        (11-16)      (2-0)

New York                 84         77         .5xx       6.5       (14-11)      (1-1)

Tampa Bay              67          94         .4xx      19.5     (10-18)      (2-0)


Cleveland               93           67          .5xx       …      (16-11)        (2-0)

Detroit                    86           74          .5xx      4.5      (14-12)        (0-2)

Kansas City            81            80         .5xx       7.5      (12-15)       (0-2)

Chicago                  78            83         .4xx     13.0      (15-13)       (0-2)

Minnesota               58          103         .3xx     27.5      (8-19)         (2-0)


Texas                      95           66           .5xx      …       (15-11)       (0-2)

Seattle                     86           75           .5xx      8.5      (18-9)        (0-2)

Houston                   84           77           .5xx     11.5      (12-15)      (1-1)

Los Angeles             73           88           .4xx      20.5    (14-13)       (1-1)

Oakland                   68           93           .4xx     22.5     (10-17)       (2-0)

AL Tops NL in Interleague Play

The American League had the edge in interleague play this past season – winning 139 interleague contests to 121 for the National League.  Overall, eight AL teams had winning interleague records, five had losing records and two split thier 20 internleague contests.  In the NL, five  teams had positive interleague records, nine were under .500 and one produced a split.  The Cubs were the most successful in interleague competition – going 15-5. The Reds and D-backs had the worst interleague records at 5-15.  



Washington           94            67          .5xx         …       (15-12)        (2-0)

New York              87            74          .5xx        9.0       (17-10)        (1-1)

Miami                   79            81          .4xx        11.0       (12-15)       (0-2)

Philadelphia          70             91         .4xx        18.0       (10-17)       (1-1)

Atlanta                  67             93        .3xx         28.0      (16-10)       (2-0)


Chicago                 102            58          .6xx       …        (17-10)       (1-1)

St. Louis                 85              76        .5xx     15.0       (14-14)        (2-0)

Pittsburgh               78              82        .4xx     17.5       (11-17)        (0-2)

Milwaukee              72               69       .4xx      28.5       (14-13)        (2-0)

Cincinnati               68               93       .4xx       30.0      (12-16)        (1-1)


Los Angeles           91               70         .5xx        …        (17-10)       (0-2)

San Francisco        86               75         .5xx       1.5        (13-15)       (2-0)

Colorado                 75               86         .4xx      10.0       (11-16)       (0-2)

Arizona                   68               93        .4xx      18.0        (11-16)       (2-0)

San Diego               68                93       .4xx        18.5      (13-15)       (0-2)


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Tebow’s Targets – Some of Baseball’s Multi-Sport Heroes

Tim Tebow photo

Tim Tebow – going from a football helmet to a batting helmet. Photo by sportiqe

Wednesday, (September 28, 2016), former Heisman Trophy Winner (2007) and NFL quarterback (2010-12) Tim Tebow had his first official at bat as a professional baseball player – and he made the most of it.   The 29-year-old, signed in early September by the Mets, is playing on the Mets’ Florida instructional league squad.  In his first game action, Tebow took the first pitch he saw – a high fastball –  deep to left field for his first professional home run. While Tebow went one-for-six in the game, he did make contact in every at bat, a good start to his attempt at a multi-sport career.

Tebow’s first game appearance seem like a good reason (excuse?) to revisit and update Baseball Roundtable list of favorite multi-sport MLB players (first noted here in 2013). There have been more than you might think:

  • Braves’ pitcher Gene Conley is the only person to play on both a World Series winner and an NBA championship team;
  • Bo Jackson was an MLB All Star and an NFL Pro Bowler;
  • Deon Sanders is the only athlete to suit up for a Major League Baseball and National Football League game on the same day;
  • Carroll Hardy (the only player ever to pinch hit for Ted Williams) had a season in which he hit eight home runs for the Red Sox and another in which he scored four touchdowns for the San Francisco 49ers;
  • Hall of Fame hurlers Bob Gibson and Fergie Jenkins both played for the Harlem Globetrotters;
  • Famed Olympian Jim Thorpe – thought by many to be the greatest athlete of the 20th century – played for the MLB New York Giants and NFL New York Giants.
  • Matt Kinzler is the only person to play for both the Detroit Tigers (pitcher) and Detroit Lions (punter) – appearing in one game for each team.

There have been others who choose to concentrate on baseball, but showed the potential to be stars in other sports. Hall of Famer Tom Glavine (a 305-game winner and two-time Cy Young Award recipient) was drafted in the fourth round of the 1984 National Hockey League draft — two rounds ahead of future National Hockey League Hall of Famer Brett Hull.   (Glavine scored 232 points and had 111 goals as a high school hockey player).  Another Baseball Hall of Famer – outfielder Dave Winfield – was drafted coming out of college by the San Diego Padres (MLB); Atlantic Hawks (NBA); Utah Stars (ABA); and Minnesota Vikings (NFL).   MLB Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn was drafted by the NBA’s San Diego Clippers and the NL’s San Diego Padres – on the same day (June 10, 1981).  And the list goes on.  In this post, BBRT would like to look at MLB players who also played another sport at the highest professional level.  Here are BBRT’s favorites in this category:

  1. Deion Sanders (MLB/NFL)

sandersWith his nine-year MLB career and 14-year NFL career (all between 1989-2005), Sanders tops this list on the basis of some unique accomplishments:

– Only person to play in the Super Bowl (for the victorious San Francisco 49ers, 1995, and the winning Dallas Cowboys, 1996) and the World Series (for the losing Atlanta Braves, 1992);

– Only person to hit a major league home run and score an NFL touchdown in the same week;

– Only person to suit up for an MLB and NFL game on the same day. On October 11, 1992, Sanders played for the Atlanta Falcons in an NFL day game against the Miami Dolphins and then flew to Pittsburgh to suit up for the Atlanta Braves’ League Championship Series game against the Pirates that night. (He did not, however, get into the game).

As a MLB player (1989-1995, 1997, 2001) for the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants, Sanders played in 641 regular season games, compiling a .263 average with 39 Home runs, 168 RBI and 186 stolen bases.  His best year was 1992, when he played in 97 games for the Braves – going .304, with a league-leading 14 triples, along with eight home runs, 28 RBI, 54 runs scored and 26 stolen bases.  He followed that up by hitting .533 (8 for 17), with four runs scored, one RBI and five stolen bases in the World Series.

During his NFL career, Sanders earned his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame  – intercepting  53 passes, returning nine for touchdowns;  returning 155 kickoffs for 3,523 yards and three TDs; returning 212 punts for 2,199 yards and six TDs; catching 60 passes for 784 yards and three TDs; and recovering four fumbles (one for a TD). He was an eight-time Pro-Bowler and the NFL’s 1994 Defensive Player of the Year. Sanders squeaks into the top spot on the list by virtue of his Football Hall of Fame selection.

Deon Sanders Trivia:  Sanders, a Florida State University alum, is credited with bringing the “Tomahawk Chop” to the Braves’ fans.

  1. Gene Conley (MLB/NBA)

conleygeneThe 6’ 8” right-handed pitcher excelled at baseball and basketball and holds the distinction of being the only person to play on an NBA Championship squad (Boston Celtics in 1959, 60 & 61) and a World Series Champion (Milwaukee Braves, 1957).

His MLB career spanned 11 seasons:  Boston Braves (1952); Milwaukee Braves (1954-58); Philadelphia Phillies (1959-60); Boston Red Sox (1961-63). Conley pitched in 276 games (214 starts), winning 91 and losing 96 with an ERA of 3.82.  He was a three-time All Star and the winning pitcher in the 1955 All Star Game.  His best year was 1954 when he went 14-9 with a 2.96 ERA.  He pitched in just one game in the 1957 World Series, giving up 2 runs in 1.2 innings of relief (the starts for Milwaukee went to Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl).

Conley’s NBA career was as strong as his MLB run.   At forward and center  –  playing for the Boston Celtics (1952-61) and New York Knicks (1962-64) – he came off the bench to score 2,069 points, grab 2,212 rebounds and dish out 201 assists.  He averaged 16.5 minutes, 5.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.  In 33 playoff games, he averaged 14.6 minutes, 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Gene Conley Trivia:  Conley is the only athlete to play for the Boston Braves, Celtics and Red Sox.

  1. Bo Jackson (MLB/NFL)

boBo Jackson (6’1”, 227 lbs.) had an eight-season career as an MLB outfielder:  Kansas City Royals (1986-90); Chicago White Sox (1991, 1993); California Angels (1994), He also was a running back for the Los Angeles Raiders for four seasons (1987-90).  In 1989, he was selected as a MLB All Star (and MVP of the 1989 All Star Game) and as an NFL Pro-Bowler.

His best year in MLB was 1989, when he hit .256, with 32 home runs, 105 RBI and 26 stolen bases for the Kansas City Royals.  That same year, he notched 950 yards rushing (5.5 yards per carry) and four rushing touchdowns for the Raiders.  That season he also caught nine passes for 69 yards.

In his MLB career, Jackson played in 694 games, hitting .250 with 141 home runs, 415 RBI and 82 stolen bases.

In his four seasons in the NFL, Jackson rushed for 2,782 yards (5.4 years per carry) and 16 touchdowns.  He also caught 40 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns.  Plenty of fans would place Jackson at number one on this list (and I’d have little arguement with that ).

  1. Brian Jordan (MLB/NFL)

brianJordan patrolled considerable territory in his 15 seasons as an MLB outfielder (1992-2006) and three seasons as an NFL safety.  Jordan’s baseball career included time with the St. Louis Cardinals (1992-98); Atlanta Braves (1999-2001, 2005-06); LA Dodgers (2002-03); and Texas Rangers (2004).  He played in 1,456 games, hitting .282 with 184 home runs and 821 RBI.  He was an All Star in 1999, when he hit .282, with 23 home runs, 115 RBI and 13 stolen bases.

His brief NFL career, all with the Atlanta Falcons, included five interceptions and four quarterback sacks in 36 games.




  1. Kevin “Chuck” Connors (MLB/NBA/Hollywood)

chuckSix-foot-five with athletic skills and rugged good looks, Connors played for MLB’s Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Cubs and the NBA’s Boston Celtics (and was also drafted by the NFL Chicago Bears) before going on to play before even larger audiences as the star of the hit television series “The Rifleman.”   He makes this list more on the basis of his acting career, which also included appearances in more than 40  movies, including a starring role in the now classic “Old Yeller,” and guest appearances on dozens of television shows.

His MLB career included one at bat with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949 and 66 games as a first baseman/pinch hitter for the Chicago Cubs in 1951.  He chalked up a .239 career average with two home runs and 18 RBIs.  In 1946-48, Connors played forward for the Boston Celtics, averaging 4.5 points per game in 53 games played.


Chuck Connors Trivia:  Connors is credited with shattering the first professional backboard ever, during a November 1946 Celtics’ pregame warm-up.


Here are some others who reached the highest level in baseball and at least one other sport. This list is not all inclusive (there have been more than five dozen players to appear in both an MLB and NFL uniform alone). No judgments here – alphabetical order:

Danny Ainge (NBA/MLB)

Ainge broke into the major leagues at age 20 (in 1979) with the Toronto Blue Jays.  He played just three seasons in the majors – 211 games, with a .220 average, two home runs and 37 RBI.  Primarily a second baseman, Ainge also saw time at third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions.  Notably, Ainge’s MLB career overlapped his college basketball career – Brigham University, 1977-81 – where he ran up average of 20.9 points, 4.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game and was the 1981 Collegiate Basketball Player of the Year.

Ainge’s NBA career began at age 22 and stretched over 14 seasons (1981-95) with the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trailblazer and Phoenix Suns.  The 6’ 4”, 175-pound guard totaled 11,964 points, 1,133 steals, 4,199 assists, 2,769 rebounds.    Ainge played in 193 NBA playoff games, averaging 26.1 minutes, 9.9 points, 3.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds.  He was a member of the Celtics 1984 and 1986 NBA Championship teams and a 1988 NBA All Star.

Danny Ainge Trivia:  Ainge is the only athlete selected as a first team High School All-American in baseball, basketball and football.

Frank Baumholtz (MLB/BAA)

Frank Baumholtz enjoyed a ten-season MLB career (1947-49, 1951-57) as an outfielder with the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.  He played in 1,019 games, finishing with a .290 average, 25 home runs, 272 RBI, 450 runs scored and 20 stolen bases.  His best season was his 1947 rookie year, when he played in 151 games, led the league with 711 plate appearances and hit .289 with five home runs, 45 RBI and 96 runs scored.

Baumholtz played one season of professional basketball (1946-47), as a guard for the Cleveland Rebels of the Basketball Association of America, forerunner of the NBA. He appeared in 45 games, averaging 14.0 points per game.

Dave DeBusschere (NBA/MLB)

The best basketball player to ever play major league baseball,  DeBusschere played 12 seasons in the NBA (1962-74, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks), was an eight-time NBA All Star, six-time NBA All-Defensive Player and played on the Knicks’ 1970 and 1973 NBA Championship teams.  DeBusschere is a member of the National Basketball Hall of Fame.  Over his career (875 games), the 6’6” forward/guard averaged 35.7 minutes, 16.1 points, 2.9 assists and 11 rebounds per game.

DeBusschere’s MLB career was considerably shorter than his basketball tenure.  He joined the Chicago White Sox at age 22 in 1962 and pitched in the 1962 and 1963 seasons, logging 36 appearances (10 starts), a 3-4 record and a 2.90 ERA. His brief major league career did include one complete-game shutout.

Dave DeBusschere Trivia:  In the 1964-1965 season, DeBusschere, just 24-years-old, was appointed player-coach of the Detroit Pistons.  From 1964-67, he coached the Pistons to a 79-143 record before going back to a player-only position.  He remains the youngest coach in NBA history.

Sammy Byrd (PGA/MLB)

Sammy Byrd had an eight-season MLB career (1929-34, Yankees and 1935-36 Reds), during which the outfielder hit .274 with 38 home runs and 220 RBI in 745 games. After leaving baseball, at the age of 29, to pursue a professional golf career, Byrd won six events on the PGA tour between 1942 and 1946.

Sammy Byrd Trivia:   Sammy Byrd is the only person to play in both MLB’s World Series and the PGA Masters Tournament.

Dick Groat (MLB/NBA)

Groat had a 14-career as an MLB shortstop (1952, 1955-67) with the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.  He was a five-time All Star and won the 1960 NL Most Valuable Player Award, while helping the Pirates earn the NL Crown (and win the World Series).  That season, he led the NL in batting at .325.  Groat was a career .286 hitter, with 2,138 hits, 39 home runs and 707 RBI.   He was on two World Series winners:  the 1960 Pirates and the 1964 Cardinals.

Groat also played one season (1952-53) for the NBA’s Fort Wayne Pistons, averaging 25.5 minutes, 11.9 points, 2.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Dick Groat Trivia:  While at Duke University, Groat was a two-time All American in both baseball and basketball.  He was the first person selected to both the College Baseball and Basketball Halls of Fame.


George Halas (NFL/MLB)

While Football Hall of Famer George Halas may have been “Mr. Everything” in professional football for some six decades – player, coach, owner, promoter, innovator and pioneer – his MLB career was shorter and less noteworthy.  Halas played in 12 games (22 at bats, .091 average) as an outfielder for the 1919 Yankees.

During his a pro-football playing career (1919-1928), Halas played defensive end and wide receiver for the Hammond All Stars, Decator/Chicago Staleys and Chicago Bears.  A Bears’ owner from 1920 until his death in 1983, Halas coached the Chicago Bears (and their predecessor Staleys) for 40 seasons (1920-29, 1933-42, 1946-55. 1958-67).  Under his leadership, the Bears won nine Divisional titles, six NFL Championships and only six times finished with a losing record.

George Halas Trivia: Halas is credited with developing football’s  T-formation.

Steve Hamilton (MLB/NBA)

The 6’6” left-handed reliever enjoyed a 12-year (1961-72) career with the Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, New York Giants and Chicago Cubs – going 40-31 with 42 saves and a career ERA of 3.05.

Hamilton also played two seasons as a forward for the NBA Minneapolis Lakers (1958-60) – averaging 13.3 minutes, 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 82 games.

Carroll Hardy (MLB/NFL)

Hardy was a multi-sport talent for the University of Colorado in the early 1950s, lettering in football, baseball and track – earning All-Conference honors in football and baseball.  Immediately out of college, Hardy signed on as a receiver with the NFL San Francisco 49ers.  In 1955, he caught 12 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns, and returned three punts for  65 yards.  Hardy then chose to concentrate on baseball and played eight seasons (1957-64, 1967) as a major league outfielder, getting into 433 games for the Indians, Red Sox, Astros and Twins.  His career average was .225, with 17 home runs and 113 RBI.

Carroll Hardy Trivia:  Hardy is the only player to pinch hit for Ted William, as well as the only player to pinch hit for Williams’ replacement, Carl Yastzremski.  He also hit his first MLB home run while pinch hitting for Roger Maris.

Mark Hendrickson  (MLB/NBA)

Hendrickson, a 6’9” left-handed hurler, recorded 10 MLB seasons (328 appearances, 166 starts) with a 58-74 record and a 5.03 ERA.  Between, 2002-2011, he pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles.  His best MLB season was 2009, when he went 6-5 with a 4.37 ERA for the Orioles.

Hendrickson also played four seasons (1996-2000) as a power forward in the NBA for the Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, New Jersey Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers.  In 114 games, he averaged 13.2 minutes, 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

Drew Henson (MLB/NFL)

The 6’5″, 225-pounder played quarterback for the Lions (2008), Cowboys (2004-05) and Vikings (2006).  He also appeared in eight games for the 2002-03 Yankees, going one-for-nine.  His NFL career consisted of just nine games played, and he completed a total of 11 of 20 passes with one TD and one interception.  Despite these less than sterling numbers, he can lay claim to reaching the highest professional level in two sports – and to throwing and NFL Touchdown and collecting an MLB base hit.

Vic Janowicz (MLB/NFL)

Janciwicz got in 22 games as a halfback for the Washington Redskins (1954-55), gaining 410 yards on 99 carries with four touchdowns.  He also played 83 games at catcher and third base for the Pittsburgh Pirates over the 1953 and 1954 seasons – hitting .214 with two home runs and ten RBI.

Cotton Nash (MLB/NBA)

Nash had brief careers at the top level of pro basketball (NBA/ABA) and baseball (Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins).   In baseball, the OF/1B got in 13 games (White Sox, 1967 and Twins, 1969-70) with a .188 average and two RBI in 16 at bats.  In basketball, the 6’5”, 215-pound Nash played forward for the LA Lakers and San Francisco Warriors  of the NBA and the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA between 1964-68.  He averaged 13.6 minutes, 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in 84 games.

Ernie Nevers (NFL/MLB)

Ernie Nevers is a member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame. As a pro, he played for the NFL’s Duluth Eskimos and Chicago Cardinals for five seasons between 1926 and 1931 – earning All-NFL recognition at running back in each of those campaigns. Nevers also pitched for three seasons  (1926-28) for the AL Saint Louis Browns, going 6-12, with a 4.44 ERA in 44 games (12 starts).

Ernie Nevers Trivia:  On November 28, 1929, Chicago Cardinals’ fullback Ernie Nevers scored six touchdowns and kicked four extra points, accounting for all the Cardinals’ scoring in a 40-6   victory over the Chicago Bears.  The forty points scored in a single game is still the individual NFL record.

Clarence “Ace” Parker (MLB/NFL)

Clarence Parker got his MLB career off with a bang, homering in his first at bat for the 1937 Philadelphia Athletics.  It was downhill from there, as Parker played in just 94 games in 1937 and 1938 (SS-3B-OF) hitting .179 with two home runs and 25 RBI.

Parker proved more adept at football, making the Hall of Fame as a multiple threat player.  Playing from 1937 to 1946 for Brooklyn, Boston and New York (and winning the NFL MVP Award in 1940), he completed 335 of 718 passing attempts for 30 touchdowns, rushed 498 times for 1,292 yards and 13 TDs, had eight pass receptions for 229 yards and three TDs, returned 24 punts for 238 yards and one TD, returned five kickoffs for 98 yards, made 25 of 30 point-after-touchdown kicks (but only 1 of 5 field goal attempts) and punted 150 times for a 38.4 yard average.

Ron Reed (MLB/NBA)

The 6’6”, 217-pound, right-handed pitcher enjoyed a 19-year career as an MLB starter and reliever (Atlanta Braves, 1966-75; St. Louis Cardinals, 1975; Philadelphia Phillies, 1976-83; and Chicago White Sox, 1984).  Reed’s MLB career record was 146-140, 103 saves, a 3.46 ERA and 1,481 strikeouts in 2,477 2/3 innings pitched.  His best season was 1969, when he went 18-10, 3.47 in 33 starts for the Braves.

Reed also played forward for two seasons for the NBA Detroit Pistons (1965-66, 1966-67), averaging 18.9 minutes, 8.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Dick Ricketts (MLB/NBA)

Ricketts, a 6’7”, 216-pound right hander, had just one MLB season, going 1-6 with a 5.82 ERA for the 1959 Saint Louis Cardinals.  He played  in the NBA from 1955-59, scoring 1,974 points and grabbing 1,337 rebounds – for a per game average of 26.8 minutes, 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

Howie Schultz (MLB/NBA)

Schultz played major league baseball for six seasons (1943-48), spending time at first base with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds.  He played 470 games, hitting .241, with 24 home runs and 208 RBI.

In 1949, the 6’6” Schultz switched to basketball, beginning a three-year stint as an NBA center/forward.  He played for the NBA’s Anderson Packers, Fort Wayne Pistons and Minneapolis Lakers, averaging 5.3 points per game.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Family, Friends and Fans Will Miss the Joy of Jose Fernandez

Jose fernandez marlins photo

Photo by Corn Farmer

I had intended to use this post to commemorate the career of Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully’s retirement (and 67 years as the mellow-toned, harmonious voice of the Dodgers).  However, I will hold that for BBRT’s upcoming traditional end-of-the-month MLB wrap up – let me just say that there could be no more appropriate way for Scully to cap his broadcasting career than with the call of an extra-inning, game-winning, title-clinching, walk-off home run.

More on Scully next week, today I’d like to recognize the loss of one of baseball’s rising stars – Miami Marlins’ RHP Jose Fernandez – in a tragic boating accident this past weekend. In recent posts, I have talked about my excitement over the host of new young stars (Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant  – to name just a few) taking the field across the major leagues, even comparing this youthful new era to the 1950’s, when we saw the emergence of players like Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Whitey Ford and more. Jose Fernandez clearly was one of today’s brightest and fastest-rising young stars.  The twenty-four-year-old Fernandez was also one of baseball’s most inspiring stories.  He worked hard and risked much to get here – and once he arrived he played, worked and lived with dedication and joy. He was a player, who – despite early stardom –  did “more smilin’ than stylin’.”  

Jose Fernandez took joy in his craft, bringing to life Roy Campenella’s comment that “You have to have a lot of little boy in you to play baseball for a living.”

Fernandez took joy not only in his opportunity to earn a living on the baseball field, but also in the game itself.  And, he was as much fun to watch in the dugout as on the field – cheering on and applauding teammates and openly expressing awe and appreciation for long balls and sparkling plays. He also took joy in his interaction with family, friends and fans; his relationships with teammates and opponents; the opportunity afforded by his U.S. citizenship; and his impending fatherhood. As fans, we were priviliged to observe and share that joy.

Fernandez immigrated to the United States as a teenager in 2008 – after three unsuccessful attempts to defect from Cuba (and the ensuing prison time).  Finally, in a fourth and successful attempt (2007), his family to escaped Cuba (reaching Mexico). In that water crossing, Fernandez’ mother was tossed overboard and the 15-year-old Fernandez dove into the choppy waters in a harrowing and successful rescue.  After coming to America from Mexico in 2008, Fernandez attended high school (and played baseball) in Tampa, Florida – where he went 13-1, 2.35 as a Senior (2011).  His performance earned him a first-round draft pick by the Marlins (14th overall) – and he was on his way.

In 2012, after pitching in just two games at Rookie- and A-level the previous season, Fernandez put up a remarkable 14-1, 1.75 ERA record in stops at A-level Greensboro and High-A Jupiter. He started 25 games and gave up just 89 hits and 35 walks, while fanning 158 batters in 134 innings.

In 2013, at the age of 20, he joined the Marlins’ staff,  going 12-6, 2.19 and fanning 187 batters in 172 2/3 innings – earning him an All Star berth, NL Rookie of the Year honors and a third-place finish in the NL CY Young Award voting.  He overpowered (and baffled) hitters with a multi-pitch repertoire topped by a mid- to high-90s fastball and a devastating breaking ball.

In 2014, Fernandez was already recognized as the Marlins’ staff ace, honored with the Opening Day start. Fernandez got the win as the Marlins topped the Rockies 10-1, going six innings, giving up just one run on five hits and no walks, while fanning nine. Fernandez went 4-2, 2.44 in eight starts, as his season was cut short by an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery.

Fernandez began the 2015 season on the Disabled List – dedicating himself to the hard work of recovery and rehab. He returned to the Marlins’ mound on July 2 and finished the season 6-1, 2.92 with 79 whiffs in 64 2/3 innings. He was back.

Jose fernandez marlins photo

Photo by apardavila

This season, Fernandez earned his second All Star selection (11-4, 2.52 at the break). He was 16-8, 2.86 and had fanned 253 hitters in just 182 1/3 innings at the time of the accident.  For his MLB career, Jose Fernandez was 38-17, 2.86, with 589 strikeouts in 471 1/3 innings – including a brilliant 29-2, 1.49 at home.  He apparently took joy in swinging the bat as well, with a career average of .213 (.250 this season), with two home runs and  14 RBI in 136 at bats. In his very last game (September 20), he beat the Division-leading Washington Nationals 1-0, going eight innings, giving up just three hits and  walking none, while fanning a dozen.

Jose Fernandez – his personality was as electric as his curveball. He will be missed by many – including all of those who find joy in the national pastime.  Condolences to his family, friends and fans. Marlins’ owner Jeffrey Loria perhaps said it best, “Sadly the brightest lights are often the ones that extinguish the fasted.”

Photo by Corn Farmer

Making Contact – 115 Consecutive Games Without Striking Out

Old dirty baseball photo

Photo by kelly.sikkema

On this date in 1929, Cleveland Indians’ SS Joe Sewell notched his 115th consecutive game without striking out  (the MLB modern record) – a streak that went from May 19-September 19 (the following day, Sewell notched his third strikeout of the season.)  During his 115-game streak, Sewell racked up 436 at bats and 143 hits (.328), with 27 doubles, two triples, seven HR and 56 RBI.   On the season, Sewell fanned just four times in 578 at bats – and it wasn’t even his best campaign in terms of at bats/per whiff.   That would be 1932, when Sewell struck out just three times in 503 at bats – or once each 167.7 at bats (the post-1900 MLB record). For his career, Sewell fanned 114 times in 7,132 at bats – or once each 62.6 at bats. That, by the way, puts Sewell second on the career list (among players who played after 1900) to Wee Willie Keeler who fanned just once every 63.2 at bats in 19 MLB seasons )1892-1910).

Through September 18, 69 players have struck out more times in this season than Joe Sewell did in his entire 14-season career. 

By the way, if you are looking for the leader among active players – at the top of the list would be Nationals’ outfielder Ben Revere with 10.11 at bats per strikeout (as of September 18, 2016) – the only active player with more than ten at bats per whiff.

Active Players with the Most At Bats Per Strikeout (as of September 18, 2016)

          Ben Revere … 10.11

         Yadier Molina … 9.59

          Ichiro Suzuki … 9.36

          Dustin Pedroia … 9.26

         Casey Kotchman … 9.08

Note: Pre-1900 at bat/per strikeout ratios are off the charts. In 1871, for example, catcher Mike McGeary of the National Association’s Troy Haymakers went an entire season (just 148 at bats, however) without a whiff.  Later, in 1875, McGeary (with the NA’s Philadelphia Whites) had a season in which he fanned just once in 310 at bats.  If you look only at the NL and AL, Wee Willie Keeler holds the record with just two strikeouts in 570 at bats (one K per 285 at bats) for Brooklyn’s 1899 NL squad – a year in which he hit .379, with one home run and 61 RBI.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Soceity for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.


George Sisler – a Gentleman and a Scholar – a Hurler and a Hitter

George sisler photo

George Sislet – College All American Photo by The Library of Congress

On this date a century ago, future Hall of Famer George Sisler pitched the greatest game of his career. On September 17, 1916, The Saint Louis Browns’  5’ 11” southpaw (with an 0-1 record on the season) was matched up against the already legendary Walter Johnson, who was 25-17 for the Senators; closing out his seventh consecutive season of 25 or more wins. (Johnson would end his career with a 417-279 record, a 2.17 career ERA and an MLB-record 110 complete game shutouts.)

On that particular day, however, Sisler got the better of Walter ”Big Train” Johnson – pitching a six-hit (two walks versus six strikeouts), complete-game shutout, as the Browns prevailed 1-0.  The game was significant for a handful of reasons:  1) It was Sisler’s only complete-game shutout;  2) It was Sislet’s last ever major-league pitching victory (He finished his career 5-6, three saves, 2.35 ERA in 12 starts and a total of 24 appearances); 3) It was Sisler’s second victory over Johnson; he had topped the Big Train 2-1 as a rookie the previous season; 4) Sisler was batting third in the order; 5) Despite his losing career record on the mound, Sisler would earn his way into the Baseball Hall of Fame (after amassing 2,812 hits and a .340 batting average over 15 seasons).

At any rate, Sisler’s pitching performance of a century ago (he went zero-for-four at the plate), led BBRT to take a look at his remarkable career.

Sisler was a gifted athlete and, at least for his times, a scholar among baseball players.  He was an exceptional student in high school, as well as an end on the football team, a forward on the basketball team and a pitcher on the baseball squad. He attended the University of Michigan and earned not only three letters in baseball (1913-14-15) and two-time All-American recognition, but also a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Sisler, who primarily pitched and played outfield for Michigan (where he was not only a quality pitcher, but a fleet defender and solid hitter – batting over .400 for his college career), joined the St. Louis Browns as a pitcher in 1915, going 4-4, 2.83 in 15 games; tossing six complete games in eight starts.  The Browns also appreciated Sisler’s bat and athletic defense, and he saw considerable time at first base and in the outfield. He hit  .285-3-29, with ten stolen bases in 81 games. And, the best was yet to come. Sisler, switching primarily to first base in 1916, went on to play 14 more seasons – earning praise for hit bat and his glove.  In that time, he won two batting titles (.407 in 1920 and .420 in 1922). He also led the league in stolen bases four times (a high of 51 in 1922); triples twice; runs scored once; and base hits twice.  (In fact, his 257 hits in 1920 stood as the MLB record until Ichiro Suzuki collected 262 safeties in 2004.)  Sisler was also the American League MVP in 1922.  Despite this stardom, Sisler was known as a modest individual and true gentleman on an off the field.

His final career stat line was .340-102-1,178, with 2,812 hits, 1,284 runs scored, 425 doubles, 164 triples and 375 stolen bases. AND, it might have been even better. Sisler missed the entire 1923 season with a severe sinus infection that resulted in chronic headaches and vision problems. Although he returned to action in 1924, his batting eye was never quite the same. (He went from his .420 average in 1922 to .305 in 1924; and hit .361 before the infection and .320 after).  He still, however, managed to hit over .300 in all but one of his remaining seven seasons.

“Gentleman George” Sisler was truly one of the greats to play the game.

For those who track such things: Sisler also had two sons who played in the major leagues: Dave Sisler (RHP, 1956-62, Red Sox/Tigers/Senators/Reds) and Dick Sisler (1B/OF, 1946-53, Cardinals/Phillies/Reds).

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Soceity for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance. 

Photo by The Library of Congress

Another Dose of Dozier – and Some Historic Perspective

Brian Dozier photo

Brian Dozier – bringing 40-HR power to the Twins lineup. Photo by rtclauss

My Twins (BBRT is Minnesota-based) have not given me a lot to write about this year (a 53-91 season record will do that).  That is, not until Monday night. In the third inning of the Twins’ September 12, 2016 contest against the Tigers, Minnesota 2B Brian Dozier launched a solo home run off Tigers’ starter Daniel Norris to tie the game 1-1 (the Twins eventually lost 4-2).  It was Dozier’s 40th home run of the season and made him the first American Leaguer to reach 40 home runs while playing primarily second base (Yankees’ 2B Alfonso Soriano hit 39 HR’s in 2002). BBRT note:  38 of Dozier’s homers have come while playing second base, with two coming as DH.

The solo shot to left field also made Dozier just the second Twin and third player in franchise history to reach the 40-homer mark. Harmon Killebrew, who reached 40 or more round trippers in seven seasons was the last Twin to hit 40 (41 in 1970) and holds the franchise record of 49 in a season (1964 and 1969). BBRT note: Killebrew reached 40 while playing primarily at: 3B (1959); 1B (1967); LF (1962-63-64); and splitting time between 1B/3B (1961-1969). The only other Senator/Twin to reach 40 was OF/1B Roy Sievers (42 in 1957).  Dozier ended Monday’s game trailing AL (and MLB) HR leader Mark Trumbo (Orioles) by just one in the HR race. (The last Twin to lead the league in HR’s was Killebrew in 1969. The last second baseman to win a HR title was the Cubs’ Ryan Sandberg, with 40 home runs in 1990. The last 2B to win the AL HR crown – tie – was the Angels’ Bobby Grich, with 22 HR’s in the strike-shortened 1981 season).

Dozier is now just three homers shy of the most ever hit by a player taking the field primarily at second base – Davey Johnson of the Braves in 1973.  Looking exclusively at HR’s while in the lineup at 2B (remember, Dozier has 38 of those),  Davey Johnson (again, 1973) and the Cardinals’ Rogers Hornsby (1922) share the record at 42.  Jeff Kent (Blue Jays, Mets, Indians, Giants,  Astros, Dodgers) holds the record for career home runs hit while playing second base at 351 (out of 377 total home runs, the MLB high for players playing primarily at 2B). Kent hit a career-high 37 home runs for the Giants in 2002 – and had 12 seasons of 20 or more round trippers. Dozier now stands at 115 career (MLB) round trippers.  Dozier is also closing in on 100 RBI, with 94 for the season.  The single-season record for second baseman belongs to Hornsby (152 in 1922).

Rogers Hornsby’s 1922 season for the Cardinals is the best in MLB history for a second sacker. He  led the league in batting average (.401); home runs (42); RBI (152); hits (250); runs (141); doubles (46); total bases 450) – and threw in 14 triples and 17 stolen bases.

Dozier’s power is a bit of a surprise.  The 29-year-old’s previous MLB high for a season is 28 home runs (2015) and he never reach double figures in a minor league campaign. His HR totals, however, have increased in each of his five major league campaigns – and he has established himself as a legitimate power threat.  Perhaps more surprising about where Dozier stands now is how he started the 2016 season.  Dozier hit just .191 with three home runs in April. As of June 5, Dozier’s average stood at .206, with just six home runs and 22 RBI. Since that time (through September 12), Dozier’s line is .316-34-72.  At the close of Monday’s games, Dozier’s season stat line was .277-40-94.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliqaury; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Photo by rtclauss

Is There a Bad Day to Toss a Complete-Game One-Hitter?

Photo by cliff1066™

Sandy Koufax spoiled Bob Hendley’s day. Photo by cliff1066™

Is there a bad day to throw a complete-game one-hitter? Right-hander Bob Hendley – who went 48-52, 3.97 in a seven-year MLB career (Braves, Giants, Cubs, Mets) – might say that day came exactly 51 years ago (September 9, 1965). On that date,  Hendleyand his eighth-place Cubs faced off against the second-place (and eventual 1965 World Series winners) Los Angeles Dodgers and their “ace” Sandy Koufax in LA.

Hendley was on top his game that day. After eight innings, he had given up just one hit and one walk (versus three strikeouts). The only hit had been a harmless double by Dodgers’ LF Lou Johnson in the bottom of the seventh. Hendley had allowed just one run (unearned) in eight frames – and even that wasn’t his fault.  The pesky Johnson had led off the fifth with a walk; moved to second  on a sacrifice by RF Ron Fairly; stole third; and then scored as Cubs’ catcher Chris Krug made a wild throw past third baseman Ron Santo. Talk about small ball!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly enough. Koufax, who came into the game already a 20-game winner (21-7), threw a perfect game – striking out 14 Cubs.  It was the last of Koufax’ four career no-hitters (one each in 1962-63-64-65) and his only perfect game.  For Hendley, it was a well-pitched loss and a piece of the record for playing/pitching in the MLB game with the fewest combined hits.

Hendley could take some solace in the fact that his may not be the best-ever unrewarded mound effort. Back on May 2, 1917, another Cubs’ pitcher – Hippo Vaughn – found himself in a true pitchers’ duel (in Chicago) against the Reds’ Fred Toney. Vaughn was 3-1 on the season at the time, while Toney was 4-1. After nine innings, the game was scoreless and NEITHER pitcher had given up a hit.

Hippo Vaughn photo

Hippo Vaughn – one tough loss. Photo by The Library of Congress

Looking at total offense over the first nine innings, Vaughn had given up two walks and one Reds’ hitter reached on an error.  Those three runners were retired on an attempted steal and a pair of double plays, so Vaughn had actually faced the minimum 27 batters through nine, striking out ten. Toney was not as overpowering, but just as effective. The Reds’ starter has also given up just a pair of walks, but had fanned just one.

So, going into the tenth, Vaughn and Toney were matched up in the first (still only) double nine-inning no-hitter in MLB history. In the top of the tenth, however, Vaughn gave up a leadoff single to Reds’ SS Larry Kopf; CF Greasy Neale (gotta love a game where a guy named Hippo Vaughn pitches to a guy name Greasy Neale) followed with a fly out to Cubs CF Cy Williams; then 1B Hal Chase tested William again – and reached base as William dropped Chases’ liner.  Now the Reds had runners at second and third with one out.  Speedy RF Jim Thorpe was the hitter and he hit a high hopped for an infield hit (scoring what would be the only run of the game).   Toney, who had fanned only one Cub over the first nine, was energized after getting the lead – completing his no-hitter with a 1-2-3 tenth, striking out two more Chicago batter.  Tough loss for Vaughn, after nine innings of no-hit, no-run ball.

For those who track such things: Toney finished the 1917 season 24-16, 2.20 – and his 12-season MLB career at 139-102, 2.69. Vaughn went 23-13, 2.01 in 1917 and 178-137, 2.49 in 13 MLB seasons (including five campaigns of 20 or more wins).

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.