Millar Time – The Long and Winding Road

MillarKevin Millar is an independent league baseball success story – going from an undrafted college ball player suiting up with the independent league St. Paul Saints to the starting third baseman for the curse-breaking 2004 World Series Champion Red Sox – and back again (to put a long ball exclamation point on his playing career).

Sasturday night (June 24), the independent American Association St. Paul Saints were celebrating their 25th anniversary (the franchise began in 1993 as a member of the independent Northern League). That year also marked: the franchise’s first-ever league championship; the beginning of its reputation for box office success (driven by out-of-the-box promotions and positive on-field results); and Kevin Millar’s first professional season.

Saturday evening, many of the same factors that shaped the first Saints’ season again came into play.  The Saints were in first place and they were celebrating their 25th anniversary with a game against the second-place (and defending champion) Winnipeg Goldeyes and a Kevin Millar/Bill Murray (co-owner) bobblehead giveaway.  In addition, the 45-yerar-old Millar – perhaps the Saints most visible success story and now co-host of the MLB Network show Intentional Talk – was back in uniform under a one-game contract.  As with most Saints promotions, this one went just fine.  The salt-and-pepper bearded Millar – facing live pitching for the first time in seven years – smacked a two-run home run to deep left in the bottom of the second inning. Earning a standing ovation in what was most likely his final professional at bat. Unless, of course, the Saints bring him back for their fiftieth anniversary.

The big fly, of course, made big news – from the Twin Cities Media to ESPN.  Who am I not to jump on the bandwagon.  So, this post will take a look not only at how Millar went from the Saints to the (World) Series and back again – but how he got to the Saints in the first place.

KEVIN MILLAR’S LONG AND WINDING ROAD

So, how did Millar get to last night’s heroics?   His road from the Saints to the World Series and back was long and winding highway.

As a teenaged who did not generating interest from MLB or four-year schools after playing for University High School in Los Angeles, Millar started his college career (without a scholarship) at Los Angeles City College (two-year school).  While his numbers were solid, they again didn’t generate MLB draft interest – but did earn him a basebalk scholarship to Lamar University, where Millar put up a .306-13-50 line (53 games) in his junior year, earning All Sun Belt Conference recognition.   As a senior he hit .324, with five home runs and 54 RBI (62 games).

Still, major league teams did not come calling and – after again going undrafted – Millar signed with the independent St. Paul Saints (Northern League) for the 1993 seasons.  In September of that season, Millar’s performance and “never give in” attitude helped earn him a spot in the Florida Marlins’ system.  Millar was sold (along with two other Saints players) to the Marlins for $5,000 – and he was one his way.  In 1994, Millar put up a .302-19-93 line with the Kane County Cougars of the Class A Midwest League.  By 1996, he was with the Double A Eastern League Portland Sea Dogs, where his .318-18-86 line. He was back iu Portland the following season, hitting .342-32-131 and earning him Eastern League Player of the Year honors.  And, in 1999, he was in the Pacific Coast League (AAA) with the Calgary Cannons (.301-7-26 in 36 games) – also making a splash in the National League with the Marlins (.285-9-67 in 105 MLB games). Note Millar also made a two-game, two-at bat, one-hit appearance with the Marlines in 1998. Along the way to the big leagues, Millar earned a reputation for steady grit and determination, a positive attitude and a sense of humor. Nothing changed once he put that big league uniform on.

Kevin Millar reached based safely in 71 straight minor league games over the 1997-99 seasons. 

Ultimately, Millar played in 1,427 ML games over 12 seasons – hitting .274, with 170 home runs and 699 RBI.  His best year was 2003, with the Boston Red Sox, when he went .276-25-96 in 148 games.  And, as the starting third baseman for the World Champion Red Sox in 2004, he put up a .297-18-74 line.  Not bad for a player who had difficulty garnering a college scholarship and went undrafted by major league teams multiple times.    In addition, Millar played in 28 post-season games with the Red Sox, hitting.242, with two home runs, 11 runs scored and ten driven in.  Throughout his career, Millar was known as a hard worker with a big personality.  He was a fan favorite and a positive off- and on-field influence wherever he played.  (Millar is credited with bringing a never give up attitude and the concept of “Cowboy Up” to the Red Sox’ curse-shattering 2004 World Championship team.)

On August 9. 2003, Kevin Millar hit the 10,000th home run in Fenway Park – a two-run shot thats provided the margin in the Red Sox 6-4 win over the Orioles. 

fanfest

After being released by the Cubs in March of 2010, Millar announced his retirement and accepted a position as an analyst with the MLB Network, but he gave on-field action one more shot – returning to the Saint Paul Saints and getting into six games in 2010.  He did not take the field professionally again, until Saturday’s now “viral” home run.  Note:  In interviews after Saturday’s game, Millar said he returned to the Saints in 2010 not just to take one last shot at playing, but to encourage players chasing their dreams in the independent leagues. “Without the Saints, I would have never been a big leaguer.  I was just a regular guy – but if you believe in something go for it.

I was lucky enough to get to meet Millar when I was volunteering at the 2014 All Star Game FanFest and three things were very clear, he loves the game, he is definitely fan-friendly and he continues to appreciate his time with the Saints (and the fact the fans here in the Twin Cities still remembered him fondly).

Kevin Millar clearly was the kind of player who would not be denied – and Saturday night’s long ball is just another example of what you can accomplish if you are willing to “put it all out there.”

Congrats to Millar on a career that saw him reach the World Series – and a Saturday night in Saint Paul that saw him reach the left field seats.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Follow/Like Baseball Roundtable’s Facebook page here.  Baseball commentary, blog post notifications and giveaways.

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

The Greatest Game Ever Pitched – In Relief

Picking the greatest MLB game ever pitched is always sure to spur some debate.  You can make a case for such performances as:

  • The Pirates’ Harvey Haddix’ 12 perfect innings against the powerful Braves on May 26, 1959;
  • The Robins (Dodgers) versus Braves 1-1, 26-inning tie on May 1, 1920 – when both starting pitchers (Leon Cadore and Joe Oeschger) went the distance;
  • Max Scherzer’s (Nationals) October 3, 2015, no-hitter (2-0 win over the Mets), when he fanned a no-hitter, record-tying 17 batters and walked none (only an error by third baseman Yunel Escobar stood in the way of a perfect game);
  • Given the pressure, Yankee Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game (October 8, 1956);
  • The Cubs’ Kerry Wood‘s May 6, 1998, one-hitter (2-0 win over the Astros) –  in which he fanned a nine-inning, record-tying 20 batters (with zero walks); or even the
  • July 2, 1963 16-inning duel between 25-year-old Juan Marichal and 42-year-old Warren Spahn (won by Marichal’s Giants 1-0 over teh Braves) – with both pitchers exceeding 200 pitches.

BBRT is sure readers can come up with even more candidates for the greatest MLB game ever pitched.  The list, however, is considerably smaller when you qualify the question, asking for the greatest MLB game ever pitched in relief.

ShoreThat honor, BBRT maintains, goes readily to Ernie Shore of the Boston Red Sox, who on this date (June 23) back in 1917 started the game on the bench as Red Sox “ace” southpaw Babe Ruth faced off against the Washington Senators. Ruth – a 23-game winner (with the AL’s lowest ERA at 1.75) the year before – was going for his 13th win of the 2017 season (versus four losses) and had pitched 14 complete games in 16 starts (2.35 ERA). There would seem to have been little chance that Shore, who had started on the mound (a no decision in a 5-4 loss to the Yankees) on June 21, would be leaving the bench that day.

The baseball fates had other things in mind.  Ruth walked Senators’’ second baseman and leadoff hitter Ray Morgan. Ruth was clearly and vocally upset with umpire Brick Owens’ strike zone.   A confrontation followed the base on balls, heated words were exchanged, Ruth was ejected (as was Red Sox’ catcher Pinch Thomas).  After the ejection, fists were thrown (Ruth reportedly striking Owens) and his Red Sox’ teammates had to drag an irate Ruth from the field.  And thus began history. Note: Ruth paid a $100 fine and drew a ten-game suspension for his outburst.

Shore, on just one day of rest and allowed just five warm-up pitches, took the mound.  Morgan tried to steal on the very first Shore offering and was thrown out by new Red Sox catcher Sam Agnew.  Shore then went on to retire the next 26 senators (two strikeouts) for a 26-up/27 down outing.  Shore’s performance did generate notable debate.  Some felt he should be credited with a perfect game, others a no-hitter.  The debate (kind of) came to an end in 1991, when an MLB committee dedicated to “statistical accuracy” deleted recognition of Shore’s game as a perfect game or individual no-hitter – determining its status to be as a “combined no-hitter.”  (Note: Among other actions taken by the Committee was the removal of the asterisk from Roger Maris’ single-season home run record of 61 in 1961.)  The perfect game and individual no-hitter may have been erased, but for BBRT, Shore’s performance on June 23, 2017 remains the greatest relief appearance ever.

Now, here are a few other Ernie Shore factoids:

  • Shore probably could have figured the odds of his coming off the bench that day in 1917. He was a college graduate who taught mathematics at Guilford College (Greensboro, NC) in the off season.
  • Shore pitched in the 1915 and 1916 World Series for the Red Sox – going 3-1 in four starts, with a 1.82 ERA.
  • Shore’s best season was 1915 – 19-8, 1.64 ERA. His career record was 65-43 (seven seasons), 2.47 ERA.
  • Before being part of the Red Sox’ rotation, Shore and Babe Ruth were teammates on the then minor league (International League) Baltimore Orioles. In 1914, Ruth and Shore were sold – together – to the Red Sox for $25,000.
  • Shore made only two relief appearances in 1917, the game in relief of Ruth and a May 26 game when he gave up one run over six innings as the Red Sox topped the Saint Louis Browns 11-7. (Shore earned a save in that game).
  • Shore served in the Naval Reserve in World War I (missing the 1918 season) and earned a Navy Commission. He attended Officer’s School at Harvard University.
  • In 1936, Shore was elected Sherriff of Forsyth County in North Carolina – a position he held until 1970.

Reference sources:  Society for American Baseball Research; Baseball-reference.com; baseball-almanac.com.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

Follow/Like Baseball Roundtable’s Facebook Page – click here – for baseball commentary, blog post notifications and giveaways (Coming up: Killibrew and Sano bobbleheads).

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

Baseball Roundtable 2017 Under-25 Lineup

SOMETHING OLD … NOW SOMETHING NEW

Mike Trout, Aged out of the Under 25 Lineup Photo by Keith Allison

Mike Trout,
Aged out of the Under-25 Lineup
Photo by Keith Allison

In a recent post, I presented “something old” about Major League Baseball 2017 – Baseball Roundtable’s current 35-and-Over Lineup.  (Click here for that post).  Today, I would like to take a look at the “something new” MLB has to offer, presenting BBRT’s 2017 Under-25 Lineup – partially to prove BBRT is not overwhelmingly “old school” when it come to the national pastime (although I still oppose the DH and the “just wave ‘em to first” intentional walk) and also because I believe today’s new crop of young and talented playes bodes well for the future of “the old ball game.”

By way of background, I began my baseball fan-aticism in the early 1950’s, at a time when a host of very good young players were making their MLB debuts.  Between 1950 and 1955 alone, for example, we saw the first MLB appearances of such players as Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Eddie Mathews, Ernie Banks, Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, Roberto Clemente, Al Kaline, Sandy Koufax and Brooks Robinson. I’m not sure I’ve seen such an influx of talent in the big leagues in such a short period of time since – until just recently. Today’s game features a wealth of explosive young talent – players who are adding excitement to the game on the mound, in the batter’s box and in the field.

In this column, I would like to present BBRT’s Under-25 Lineup, pitching rotation and key bullpen staffers – based primarily on 2017 performance; but also with an eye to the future.  I might note that by choosing Under-25 instead of 25-and-Under, I have made the task a bit harder – aging out a number of key 25-year-olds like: two-time MVP Mike Trout; current MLB home run leader Aaron Judge; 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant; 2017 Rookie of the Year candidate Trey Mancini; Robbie Ray (7-3, 2.87 for the D-backs); 2015 All Star and Cardinals’ ace Carlos Martinez (already in his fifth MLB season); and Brewers’ closer Corey Knebel.

With that background, here’s the Baseball Roundtable Under-25 MLB Lineup.  (Stats through June 18, 2017.)

CF/Lead Off – Mookie Betts, Red Sox, 24-years-old, 5’9”, 180-pounds (Fourth MLB season)

mOOKIE bETTS photo

Photo by Dennis Heller

Mookie Betts was an All Star (and Gold Glover) in 2016 and is hitting .270, with 12 home runs, 38 RBI, 11 stolen bases, 45 runs scored and an AL-leading 23 doubles as of June 18.  His career MLB average (421 games) is an even .300 and he has 66 home runs to go with 65 steals.

Signed right out of high school (fifth round of the 2011 draft), Betts was not only a honorable mention Louisville Slugger High School All-American baseball player in 2011 (hitting .509 in his senior year), but also the 2011 Nashville Class AAA All-City Player of the Year in basketball.  Although he was the Red Sox’ starting right fielder last year, he was Boston’s regular center fielder in 2015, so he gets the nod at the center of the Under-25 garden – adding a solid bat, speed and good glove to the lineup.  Betts hit .316 over five minor league seasons (299 games).

 

An all-around athlete, Betts was also the Tennessee boys Bowler of the Year in 2010.

DH – Jose Ramirez, Indians, 24-years-old, 5’9”, 165-pounds (Fifth MLB season)

jOSE rAMIREZ INDIANS photo

Photo by apardavila

Jose Ramirez, if I need him, can move around this lineup – playing third, short and second.  In his fifth MLB season (he signed with the Indians as a free agent in 2009), Ramirez will provide an experienced bat to move Betts into scoring position. Although Ramirez got off to a slow start in the majors (hitting .237 over the 2014-15 seasons), since the start of the 2016 season, he has hit .312 with 22 home runs, 126 runs scored, 110 RBI and 29 steals.  This season he is at .313-11-34, with seven steals – a great candidate for the two-spot in the order. Ramirez’ career MLB marks are .282-30-154, with 49 steals, in 398 games.

Ramirez showed his potential in the minor leagues, hitting .304 over five seasons (335 games).

Jose Ramirez can handle the bat.  In 2014, he led the AL with 13 sacrifice bunts … a nice skill for the number-two slot in the order.

SS – Carlos Correa, Astros, 22-years-old, 6’4”, 215-pounds (Third MLB season)

Carlos Correa Astros photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Competition was rugged for shortstop on the Under-25 squad, but I went with the youngest of the candidates – the Astros’ Carlos Correa. Also in the running were: Indians’ (23-year-old) SS Francisco Lindor; Dodgers (23-year-old) SS Corey Seager; and Red Sox’ (24-year-old) SS Xander Bogaerts – all 2016 All Stars.  This position is stacked with young stars.

Correa, the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year, is in his third major league campaign and is hitting .304, with 13 home runs and 43 RBI. A first-round (first overall) pick in the 2012 June Amateur Draft, the native Puerto Rican has an average of .282, with 55 home runs, 207 RBI and 27 steals in 315 MLB games. In four minor league seasons, Correa hit .313 over 282 games.

Correa was just the third Latino player to be the first overall selection in the MLB Draft – following Alex Rodriguez and Adrian Gonzalez.

RF/Cleanup – Bryce Harper, Nationals, 24-years-old, 6’3”, 215-pounds (Sixth MLB season)

Bryce Harper photo

Photo by Keith Allison

In his sixth MLB season at just 24-years-old, Bryce Harper is already an NL Rookie of the Year (2012) and MVP Award (2015) winner, as well as a four-time All Star. This season he is hitting .318, with 17 home runs and 51 RBI (62 games). He is, in effect, the “veteran” bat in the middle of the Under-25 order.

Harper graduated early from high school, earning his GED after his sophomore year. In 2010, at just 17-years-old, Harper enrolled at the College of Southern Nevada, where he played catcher and was named 2010 Scenic West Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

He was selected by the Nationals with the first overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft and, at 17-years-old, hit .343 in the highly touted Arizona Fall League. By age 19, he was an NL All Star.

On May 8, 2016, Bryce Harper tied a MLB record for walks received in a game with six free passes in a 4-3, 13-inning Nationals’ loss to the Cubs.  He was also hit by a pitch in the contest, reaching base seven times in one game without an official at bat.

1B – Cody Bellinger, Dodgers, 21-years-old, 6’4”, 210 pounds (First MLB season) 

The youngest (and only rookie) on the BBRT Under 25 squad, Cody Bellinger will give Bryce Harper some protection in the lineup. Talk about power potential. Bellinger (splitting time between outfield and first base for the Dodgers) has put up a .262-19-43 line in his first 50 MLB games – and even tossed in four stolen bases.

Drafted out of high school in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Bellinger hit .271-65-253 in 361 minor league games (five seasons).  In 2015, he hit .264-30-103 at high A – and, in 2016, he bashed .271-26-71 at Double A/Triple A.

Cody Bellinger is the son of Clay Bellinger – a four-season (1999-2002) major league utility player for the Yankees and Angels. Clay Bellinger made his MLB debut at age 30, after a decade in the minors. (Cody Bellinger reached the majors at age 21, in his fifth pro season.)  Clay Bellinger hit just .193 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI in 183 career MLB games. He played in 19 post season games with the Yankees, including in the 2000 and 2001 World Series.

C – Gary Sanchez, Yankees, 24-years-old, 6’2”, 230-pounds (Third MLB season)

Gary Sanchez Yankees photo

Photo by apardavila

Casey Stengel (after the expansion draft) once said, “You have to have a catcher, because if you don’t you’re likely to have a lot of passed balls.”  Well, the BBRT Under-25 team has a catcher – and he’s a good one.

Dominican Gary Sanchez signed with the Yankees as an international free agent in July of 2009.  He is in his third MLB season, although one of those was of the “cup of coffee” variety – just two at bats in 2015. This season, Sanchez is hitting .287, with 11 home runs and 33 RBI in just 40 games (early-season injury). In 95 career MLB contests, Sanchez is hitting .292-31-75 – robust power numbers and a good average out of the backstop slot.  Sanchez began his professional career at age 17 and, put up a .275 average, with 100 home runs and 431 RBI in 639 minor league seasons.

In August of 2016, his first full month in the major leagues, Sanchez was named not just the AL Rookie of the Month, but also the AL Player of the Month. He hit .389 (37-for-95), with 11 home runs and 21 RBI that August.

3B – Miguel Sano, Twins, 24-years-old, 6’4”, 260-pounds (Third MLB season)

Miguel Sano photo

Photo by Keith Allison

It’s always good to have a big guy over at the hot corner, just in case someone charges the mound. (Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews was famous for protecting his pitchers.)  Miguel Sano is that guy on the 2017 Under-25 team. In his third MLB season, Sano – now leading in votes for the 3B American League All Star spot – had found his stroke.  As of June 18, he is hitting .286, with 16 home runs and 48 RBI. In his three MLB seasons (259 games), he has averaged .258, with 59 round trippers and 166 RBI.  The Twins see the 2017 version of Sano as the player they expect going forward.

Sano signed with the Twins in 2009, after being pursued by several MLB teams – reportedly including the Pirates, Indians, Yankees and Red Sox, His $3.15 million signing bonus was the second-highest ever for a Dominican amateur.

 

Miguel Sano is one of the key players included in the 2012 documentary film “Ballplayer: Pelotero.”

LF – Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox, 22-years-old, 5’10”, 170-pounds (second MLB season)

Andrew Benintendi brings balance of power and speed to the bottom third of the Under-25 Lineup.  This season, he sits at .272-9-39, with eight steals.  In 99 MLB games, he has averaged .279, with 11 homers, 53 RBI, 51 runs scored and nine stolen bases.

A first round (seventh overall) 2015 MLB Draft pick, Benintendi played college ball for the University of Arkansas. As a sophomore, he led the Southeastern Conference with a .380 batting average and 19 home runs – earning recognition as the SEC Player of the Year and the Baseball America College Player of the Year, as well as recieving the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award.  Benintendi earned his way to the big leagues in a big hurry, hitting .312, with 20 home runs and 26 steals in 151 minor league games (two seasons).

Andrew Benitendi homered in his first-ever MLB post-season at bat, going deep off the Indians’ Trevor Bauer (October 6, 2016) in Game One of the ALDS. (The Red Sox lost 5-4.)

2B – Brandon Drury, Diamondbacks, 24-years-old, 6’2”, 210-pouids (Third MLB season)

Brandon Drury photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Brandon Drury, who can play around the infield, provides a steady glove and will give you solid at bats. This season he’s at .300-8-30 in 62 games.  In three MLB seasons, he’s played in 216 games (at six different positions) and hit .282, with 26 home runs (16 in 2016) and 91 RBI.

Drury was a 33rd round pick (Braves) in the 2010 MLB Draft – and began his professional career at age 17. In seven minor league seasons, he hit .285 with 60 home runs in 641 games.

 

Brandon Drury was co-MVP of the Appalachian League in 2011, after hitting .347-8-54 in 63 games for the Danville Braves.

Starting Pitcher, Lance McCullers, Astros, 23-years-old, RHP, 6’1”, 205-pounds (Third MLB season)

McCullersMcCullers stands at 6-1, 2.58, with 89 strikeouts (and just 23 walks) in 76 2/3 innings pitched in 2017. In three MLB seasons, his line is 18-13, 3.05 – fanning 10.4 batters per nine innings.

McCullers was a first round (41st overall) selection (Astros) in the 2012 MLB draft – after being named the 2012 Gatorade National (High School) Baseball Player of the Year. In five minor league seasons, he went 12-16, with a 3.67 ERA – striking out 320 batters in 267 2/3 inning pitched.

 

THE REST OF THE UNDER-25 ROTATION (with 2017 records)

Dylan Bundy, Orioles (7-5, 3.29); Luis Severino, Yankees (5-2, 2.99); Kyle Freeland, Rockies (8-4, 3.42);  Michael Fulmer, Tigers (6-5, 3.45).

Closer, Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays, 22-years-old, RHP, 6’2”, 215-pounds (Third MLB season)

Roberto Osuna blue jays photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Robert0 Osuna, apparently, was born to save games. Just 22-years-old, he already has 73 MLB saves (although he did not record a single save in the minor leagues). This season, he is 2-0, 2.67 with 17 saves and 36 strikeouts in 27 innings.  In his three MLB seasons, he 7-9, 2.64, with 73 saves and 193 K in 170 2/3 innings pitched. (Osuna saved 36 games in 2016.)  The Blue Jays signed Osuna (out of Mexico) in 2011 at age 16.

 

 

Roberto Osuna is the youngest pitcher in AL history to record a post-season save – and second youngest in MLB history. Osuna was also the youngest player in MLB history to reach 50 saves.

 

KEY SET UP MEN IN THE UNDER-25 PEN (with 2017 records)

Edwin Diaz, Mariners (2-2, 3.38, 11 saves, 26 appearances); Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks (3-1, 1.13, 25 appearances); Keone Kela (3-1, one save, 3.16, 25 appearances).

Clearly, there are plenty more young stars that could challenge for a spots in the Under-25 Lineup, I’ve already mentioned shortstops Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox, .318-4-390, 8 steals this season), Francisco Lindor (Indians, 256-13-28) and Corey Seager (Dodgers, .281-9-32).  There are also Under-25 players like Mets’ OF Michael Conforto (.289-14-38); Rangers’ OF Nomar Mazara (.278-8-44); and Brewers’ OF Domingo Santana (.270-11-35). Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado is a proven Under-25 star, but carries just a .213 average (13 home runs) this season and Rangers’ 3B Joey Gallo may develop (he has a .194 average this campaign, but 18 home runs). On the mound, Jose Berrios of the Twins is 6-1, 2.74 in seven starts – and, with a bit more MLB experience, could push his way into the Under-25 rotation listed above – and the Rockies’ Jeff Hoffman is 4-0, 2.25 after six appearances/five starts.  And, those are just a few of the name left out of the lineup (What about Kyle Schwarber?, you might inquire).  The fact is, there is a lot of good (great) young talent out there – and that promises an exciting future in our nation’s ballparks.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT.

 

Follow/Like the Baseball Roundtable Facebook page – link here – for more baseball commentary, blog post notification and prize giveaways. 

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

Johnny Vander Meer and that Tough Second (consecutive) No-No.

VandyOn this evening(June 15) in 1938, 38,748 fans gathered to watch the Dodgers take on the Reds in the first-ever night game at Ebbets Field.  Cincinnati southpaw Johnny Vander Meer made sure it was a memorable and historic evening in Flatbush – one that would be remembered for far more than the lighting.

On that evening, the 23-year-old Vander Meer – in his first full MLB season – threw a no-hitter, topping the Dodgers 6-0.  It was his seventh win of the 1938 campaign (against two losses) and the sixth in a string of nine wins without a loss. But it was much more than that.  Just four days earlier (June 11), Vander Meer had thrown a no-hitter in a 3-0 win over the Boston Bees (Braves) in Cincinnati.  The no-hitter against the Dodgers made Vander Meer the first MLB pitcher to throw two no-hitters in a season – and he remains the only major league pitcher to throw a no-hitter in two consecutive starts. Note: Since Vander Meer’s feat only four other pitchers have thrown two complete-game no-hitters in a single regular season (no one has tossed three):  Allie Reynolds, Yankees (1951); Virgil Trucks (Tigers, 1952); Nolan Ryan (Angels, 1973); Max Scherzer (Nationals, 2015).

Vander Meer, a 6’1”, 190-pound, fastballer not known for his pinpoint control, had to work for the second no-hitter.  He walked eight, while striking out seven – and faced maximum pressure in the final inning.  He started the bottom of the ninth easily enough, retiring Dodgers’ LF Buddy Hassett on a grounder to the mound.  Then things got a bit dicey. Vander Meer walked Dodgers’ catcher Babe Phelps, third baseman Cookie Lavagetto and first baseman Dolph Camilli in order – loading the bases with one out. He then induced a grounder to third by center fielder Ernie Koy (with Reds’ third sacker Lew Riggs throwing home for the force out).  With the bases still full, Vander Meer got an easy fly out to center by Dodgers’ shortstop Leo Durocher to end the suspense – and earn his way into the MLB record books.  Note: the first of the two consecutive no-hitters was a touch easier – a 3-0 win over Boston with three walks and four strikeouts.

Vander Meer finished the 1938 season 15-10, with a 3.12 ERA.  He would go on to a 13-season MLB career (losing two years – 1944 and 1945 – to military service), with a final stat line of 119-121, 3.44. He would be an All Star in 1938, 1939, 1942 and 1943) and lead the NL in strikeouts in 1941, 1942 and 1943. In 1943, he led the NL in both walks (162) and whiffs (174). His best season was 1942, when he went 18-12, with a 2.43 ERA and a league-leading 186 strikeouts.

JOHNNY VANDER MEER – BEFORE AND AFTER

From 1937 through 1943 (before military service), Vander Meer had a 3.11 ERA and a 75-66 won-lost record in 193 appearances. From 1946 through 1951 (his final MLB season), Vander Meer went 44-55, 3.93 in 153 appearances.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

Follow/Like the Baseball Roundtable Facebook page – click here – for more baseball news, blog post notifications and great giveaways.

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

BBRT 35-And-Over 2017 Line Up

Tomorrow’s (June 11) sports headlines will likely be dominated by the MLB draft – and filled with names like Hunter Greene, Brendan McKay and Kyle Wright.  In short, youth will be served.  With that in mind, Baseball Roundtable is going to take a different direction – and present the BBRT 35-and-Over Line Up (drawn from players active this season).  I’ll present the lineup first, then we’ll take a little closer look at each selection – as well as some potential “September Call Ups.”  Finally, I’ll fill out the pitching rotation and bullpen.

The BBRT 35-and-Over Lineup for 2017

Brandon Phillips … 2B and leadoff

Carlos Beltran … LF

Albert Pujols … 1B

Nelson Cruz … DH and cleanup

Jose Bautista … RF

Adrian Beltre … 3B

Jason Werth … CF

Ryan Hanigan … C

Mike Aviles … SS

C.C. Sabathia … SP

Santiago Casilla … Closer

_____________________________

Now for the details.

2B – Brandon Phillips, age 35, 16th MLB season, currently with the Braves

AAPhillipsPhillips a four-time Gold Glover, brings some speed at the top of the lineup (seven stolen bases in ten attempts this year). His 2017 line – .296-4-18, with 26 runs scored in 54 games. Phillips’ career stat line (through June 10, 2017) is .274-201-907, with 205 steals and 946 runs scored.  His bat has been dependable over the past three seasons, with averages of .294, .291, .296.

Brandon Phillips is a member of the 30-30 club (30 HR’s and 30 SB’s in the same season). In 2007, while with the Reds, he his .288, with 30 home runs, 94 RBI and 32 steals.

 

LF, Carlos Beltran, age 40, 20th MLB season, currently with Astros

AABeltranBeltran – a nine-time All Star and three-time Gold Glover – qualified at this position by virtue of having played eight games in left field this season.  On the year, Beltran has appeared in 54 games, hitting .243—8-24.  His career line is .281-429-1,560.  A CF for much of his career (he played about 75 percent of his outfield game there), he may have lost a step, so we’ll move him to left.

 

Beltran was the AL Rookie of the Year back in 1999, when he hit .293, with 22 home runs, 108 RBI and 27 stolen bases for the Royals.

 

1B, Albert Pujols, Age 37, 17th MLB season, currently with the Angels

AAPujolsPujols will be a key RBI man in the middle of the 35-and-over lineup. This season, in 57 games, he is hitting just .241, but he has nine home runs and 44 RBI (third in the AL).  For his career, the 10-time All Star has a .308 batting average, with 600 home runs and 1,861 RBI.  He’ll bring some runners home.  (Pujols also has two Gold Gloves on his resume.)  Pujols started his career with ten consecutive season of a .300+ batting average, 30 or more home runs and 100+ RBI.

 

Albert Pujols is a three-time NL Most Valuable Player (2005, 2008, 2009) – all with the Cardinals.  He is one of just 13 players to capture consecutive MVP Awards.

 

DH, Nelson Cruz, age 36, 13th MLB season, currently with the Mariners

AACruyzCruz is the big bat at cleanup.  So far this season, he is hitting .294, with 14 home runs and an AL-leading (tied) 46 RBI. Cruz has a career .276 average, with 298 home runs and 841 RBI. He’s been consistent in recent seasons – hitting 40 or more home runs in 2014, 2015 and 2016,

 

Cruz was the 2011 ALCS MVP – hitting .364, with six home runs and 13 RBI in six games for the Rangers. In 41 post-season games, he has averaged .292, with 16 home runs and 34 RBI.

 

RF, Jose Bautista, age 36, 14th MLB season, currently wit5h the Blue Jays

AABautisA proven power-hitter and six-time All Star, Bautista has rebounded from a poor start this season (.178-1-7 in April) and – as of June 10 – his 2017 stat line reads .232-11-29.  His career average is .254, with 319 home runs and 891 RBI.

 

Jose Bautista – known as Joey Bats – hit a career-high 54 home runs for the Blue Jays in 2010.

 

3B- Adrian Beltre, age 38, 20th MLB season, currently with the Rangers

AABeltreBeltre brings our 35-and-over team the classic combination of leather and lumber – five Gold Gloves and 400+ career home runs. Coming off an ankle injury, Beltre did not play his first 2017 game for the Rangers until May 29.  In his first eight games back, he raked at a .379 pace with one long ball and six RBI. What can we expect from Beltre? In 2016, at age 37, he hit .300, with 32 home runs and 104 RBI. Beltre’s career stat line: .286-446-1,577.  Side note:  With 2,953 hits, we can hope Beltre can add a little historic significant to our 35-and-over squad’s accomplshments.

 

Adrian Beltre is one of only four MLB players to hit for the cycle three times in their careers.

CF, Jason Werth, age 38, 15th MLB season, currently with the Nationals

I may be giving up a bit of defense to get Werth’s bat in the lineup.  He’s primarily a left fielder, but he did see some action in center field in ten of his 15 MLB season.  This campaign, Werth is hitting .262, with eight home runs and 18 RBI (47 games) – and four steals. He should provide a steady bat in the bottom third of the lineup.  His career line is .269-227-788, with 132 steals.  Werth has topped 20 home runs six times in his career – as recently as last season (21).  He has also logged two 20-20 (HR-SB) seasons, 2008 and 2009.  Side note:  For late inning defensive purposes, our team could have 36-year-old Mets’ CF Curtis Granderson on the bench.

Jason Werth – on May 12, 2009, while with the Phillies – stole second, third and home in a single inning.  He is one of just 40 MLB player to accomplish that feat.

C, Ryan Hanigan, age 36, 11th MLB season, currently with the Rockies

AAHaniganHanigan is hitting .256-2-8 in 13 games as a Rockies’ back-up at backstop. Given the wear and tear of the position, we seldom see regulars at catcher over 35. For his career, Hanigan is .250-30-210 in 660 games.  Our 35-and –over squad does have a potential September call up at catcher – seven time All Star Yadier Molina turns 35 on July 13, 2017.

 

 

 

Ryan Hanigan has caught a pair of MLB no-hitters, both by the Reds’ Homer Baily – September 28, 2012 and July 2, 2013.

SS, Mike Aviles, age 36, 10th MLB season, currently with the Marlins

Utility player Aviles will have to come off the bench – just five at bats in three games this season.  He can pretty much play anywhere and has a career line of .262-59-298 (881 games – 372 at shortstop). As with the catcher position, we can look toward a September call up – two-time All Star and three-time Gold Glover J.J. Hardy turns 35 on August 19.

In his rookie season (2008, Royals), Mike Aviles hit .325, with ten home runs and 51 RBI in 102 games – finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

 

SP, C.C. Sabathia, age 36, 17th MLB season, currently with the Yankees

AACCSabathia is 7-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 12 starts this season.  He will be out 35-and-over “ace.” The six-time All Star and 2007 Cy Young  Award winner (19-7, 3.21 for the Indians) has a career mark of 230-143, with a 3.70 ERA.

Rest of the rotation (2017 record):  Adam Wainwright (age 35; 6-4, 4.82); R.A. Dickey (age 42; 4-4, 4.73); Rich Hill (age 37; 3-2, 3.77); John Lackey (age 38; 4-6, 5.12).

 

In 2008, C.C. Sabathia tied for the league lead in shutouts in BOTH the American (2 shutouts for the Indians) and National (three shutouts for the Brewers) Leagues.

Closer: Santiago Casilla, age 36, 14th MLB season, currently with the A’s

AACasillaCasilla has notched 10 saves (4.03 ERA, with 21 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings) this season – and has a career line of 39-28, 3.23 with 137 saves. As a plus, his two best saves seasons are not far off – 38 saves in 2015 and 31 in 2016.

Setup men (2017 record): Koji Uehara (age 42, 3.10 ERA in 23 appearances); Pat Neshek (age 36, 0.82 ERA in 24 appearances).

On May 17, 2015, Santiago Casilla notched an immaculate inning (three strikeouts on nine pitches) in picking up a save as the Giants topped the Reds 9-8.

 

 

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

Follow/Like Baseball Roundtable’s Facebook Page – link here – baseball news, blog post notifications and great giveaways.

 

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

Four-for-Four (decades) – Players to homer in four decades

VizquelOn this date (June 10) in 2010, White Sox’ 3B Omar Vizquel took Tigers’ starter Max Scherzer deep to right field with one out in the bottom of the first inning – becoming just the fourth MLB player to homer in four different decades (nice symmetry there).  Vizquel hit his first MLB home run on July 23, 1989 – a seventh-inning solo shot as his Mariners beat the Blue Jays 5-2.  It was Vizquel’s only home run in the decade of the 1980s.  In the 2010’s, Vizquel hit one more home run (two dingers total in 2010) and then played 118 games in 2011-12 without adding a home run.  We’ll take a look at the players who have homered in four decades (Vizquel, Ted Williams, Willie McCovey and Rickey Henderson) in some detail, but first a few “factoids” about the feat.

  • Timing can be crucial – all four members of the Four Decade HR Club began their MLB careers in the final year of a decade. Ted Williams (1939); Willie McCovey (1959); Rickey Henderson (1979); Omar Vizquel (1989).
  • Two of the four players (Williams and McCovey) played just one season in both the first AND final decades of their four-decade HR streaks.
  • Williams, McCovey and Henderson are all in the Hall of Fame. Vizquel will be eligible in the upcoming voting cycle.
  • Vizquel is the only one of the four without at least one MVP Award (Williams earned two).
  • Williams (Red Sox) is the only member of the four-decade homer club to play his entire career with one team.
  • Williams and McCovey have the most home runs of any club members (tied at 521), Vizquel the fewest (80).
  • Rickey Henderson played for the most teams (nine) as he worked his way into the “Home Runs in Four Decades Club.”
  • Just coming in under the wire: Willie McCovey qualified with just one home run in the 1980s; Rickey Henderson with just one in the 1970’s; and Omar Vizquel with just a single round tripper in the 1980’s.  Note: Vizquel also had just two long balls in the 2010 decade.
  • Rickey Henderson’s first and last MLB home runs, appropriately, came as the lead-off hitter in the first inning. He hit a record 81 round trippers leading off a game for his team.

CLOSE, BUT NO CIGAR

Ken Griffey, Jr. began his career as a 19-year-old rookie in 1989 – going .264-16-61.  By his final season (2010), he had belted 630 home runs and gone deep in the decades of the 1980’s, 1990’s and 2000’s. In 2010, his final season (at 40-years-old), he played in 33 games for the Mariners, but did not homer. 

Now, here are a few more details about the members of the Home Runs in Four Decades Club.

TED WILLIAMS, LF, RED SOX (The Kid, Teddy Ballgame, Splendid Splinter, Thumper) – Career: 1939-1960; 19 seasons (time lost due to military service).

WilliamsTed Williams hit his first MLB home run on April 23, 1939.  The 20-year-old Williams’ first-inning two-run shot came in his fourth game for the Red Sox – a 12-8 loss to the Philadelphia Athletics. Williams ended that rookie season at .327-31-145 (his 145 RBI led the AL.)  His last home run came on September 28, 1960 – an eighth-inning solo shot as his Red Sox topped the Orioles 5-4.  It was the 42-year-old Williams last MLB at bat.  Williams finished the 1960 season at .31-29-72.

Williams’ career line was .344-521-1,839.  His homers by decade:

1930’s – 31 home runs

1940’s – 234

1950’s – 227

1960’s – 29

In Baseball-Reference.com, in the notation for “Buried”, where most deceased players have a cemetery listed, Williams’ notation is “Frozen.”

WILLIE MCCOVEY, 1B/OF, GIANTS/PADRES/A’S (Stretch, Big Mac) – Career: 1959-1980; 22 seasons.

McCoveyWillie McCovey hit his first MLB home run on August 2, 1959 – in his fourth MLB game (late July call up). It was a fourth-inning, two-run shot in a Giants’ 5-3 win over the Pirates. McCovey finished the season at .354-13-38.   His final home run came on May 3, 1980 – a fourth-inning solo blast as the Giants nipped the Expos 3-2.  It was the 42-year-old McCovey’s only home run in 1980 (his last MLB season) and he finished at .204-1-16 in 48 games (113 at bats).

McCovey’s career line was .270-521-1,555.  His home runs by decade:

               1950’s – 13 home runs

1960’s – 300

1970’s – 207

                                                   1980’s – 1

Willie McCovey won the 1959 NL Rookie of the Year Award despite playing in just 52 MLB games – that’s what a .354-13-38 line will do for you. Before being called up, McCovey had hit .372-29-92 in 95 games at Triple A. 

RICKEY HENDERSON, OF, A’s/YANKEES/BLUE JAYS/PADRES/ANGELS/METS/MARINERS/RED SOX/DODGERS (Man of Steal) – Career: 1979-2003; 25 seasons.

HendoRickey Henderson’s first home run came on September 17, 1979 – in his 78th MLB game. The 20-year-old rookie hit a solo shot, leading off the bottom of the  first inning as his A’s lost to the Rangers 6-3. It was Henderson’s only home run of the season (.274-1-26 in 89 games) and, of course, his only home run in the decade of the 1970’s.   Henderson’s last home run came on July 20, 2003 (at age 44) – another solo shot leading off the first inning (this time for the Dodgers, who lost to the Cardinals 10-7).  Henderson went .208-2-5 that season.

Henderson put up a career line of .279-297-1,115 – not to mention a MLB-record 1,406 stolen bases.

His home runs by decade:

 

1970’s – 1

1980’s – 137

1990’s – 140

2000’s – 19

OMAR VIZQUEL, SS/3B, MARINERS/INDIANS/GIANTS/RANGERS/WHITE SOX/BLUE JAYS (Little O)  Career: 1989-2012; 24 seasons.

Omar Vizquel hit his first MLB home run On July 23, 1989. The 22-year-old smashed a seventh-inning solo shot as his Mariners bested the Blue Jays 5-2.  It as Vizquel’s only home run of the season (.220-1-20) and the decade. Vizquel’s final home run came on September 8, 2010 – a fourth-inning solo shot for the 43-year-old – as his White were downed by the Tiger 5-1.   Vizquel played two more MLB seasons (118 games) without a home run. His 2010 line was .276-2-30.

Vizquel finished his career at .272-80-951.  His home runs by decade:

1980’s – 1

1990’s – 33

2000’s – 44

2010’a – 2

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

FOLLOW/LIKE the Baseball Roundtable Facebook page – News, blog post alerts, giveaways.  Link here.

 

Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance

Scooter Joins Rocky, The Iron Horse and the Hammerin’ Hoosier – 4-HR Games

http://

Players who rap four home runs in a game (which, by the way is rarer than a pitcher’s perfect game) usually have (well-earned) nicknames like Rocky, The Iron Horse or The Hammerin’ Hoosier.  Yesterday (June 6), an uncharacteristic “Scooter” was added to the list (now 17 players long) of major leaguers with four home runs in a single game.  I’m talking, of course, about the Reds’ Ryan “Scooter” Gennett – the 27-year-old (5’10”, 185-pound) utility player who went four-for-five, with four home runs, four runs scored and ten RBI as the Reds’ topped the Cardinals 13-1 in Cincinnati.  Gennett came into the game with three home runs on the season. Let’s look at how Gennett and his big game compare to others on the four-homer list.

  • Gennett blasted his four long balls in front of a home crowd; 12 of the 17 four-homer games have been achieved “on the road.”
  • Gennett’s ten RBI were the second most in a four-homer game. The Cardinals’ Mark Whiten’s 12 RBI (September 7, 1993) are the record, not just for a four-homer game, but for any MLB game (tied). The Mariners’ Mike Cameron (May 2, 2002) is the only player to drive in the minimum four runs in a four-homer game.
  • Gennett and Mark Whiten are the only players to include a Grand Slam in their four-homer contest.
  • Gennett came out on the winning end of the Reds/Cardinals matchup, only two players – the Phillies’ Ed Delahanty (July 13, 1896) and Braves’ Bob Horner (July 6, 1986) hit four home runs in a losing cause.
  • At 27-years-old, Gennett is the seventh-youngest player to hit four homers in a game. The youngest is the White Sox’ Pat Seerey (July 18, 1948) at 25 years -four months – one day.  The oldest is the Blue Jays’ Carlos Delgado (September 25, 2003) at 32-years-old.
  • Gennett, a utility player, was in left field for the game – the second left fielder to accomplish the feat. Four-homer games have been achieved by: six first baseman; four center fielders; three right fielders; two left fielders; one third baseman; and one second baseman.
  • Gennett was batting fifth in the order. Fourth (appropriately cleanup) is the most popular lineup spot for a four-home contest – seven times. Other spots: third – four times; fifth – twice; sixth – twice; seventh – once; leadoff – once.
  • Gennett scored four times and had 17 total bases. The Dodgers’ Shawn Green holds the top spot for four homer-games with six runs scored and 19 total bases (also the MLB record for total bases in any MLB game).
  • Gennett had a total of 38 career homers before his four-homer game, tied with Mark Whiten for the fewest ever for a player at the time he notched a four-homer contest. (Whiten ended his career with 105 homers).
  • Gennett now has a total of 42 career home runs (he is in his fifth MLB season). The Giants’ Willie Mays (April 30, 1961) has the most career home runs of a player with a four-homer game at 660. The player with the fewest is the Beaneaters’ Bobby Lower (May 30, 1894) with 71.
  • The fewest home runs hit by a player in the season in which he had a four homer game is 13 by Ed Delahanty, who went .397-13-126 in 1896. (The 13 HR’s did lead the league.) The most home runs hit by a player in a season in which he had a four-homer game is 43 by the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton in 2012.
  • Three players have won the home run crown in the year of their four-homer games: the Phillies’ Ed Delahanty (1896); Indians’ Rocky Colavito (1959); Phillies’ Mike Schmidt (1976).

Below is a list – and brief  wrap up – of the 16 players in big league history to record a four-homer game before Scooter Gennett.

Josh Hamilton, CF, Rangers, May 8, 2012 …. Hamilton (hitting in the number-three spot) went five-for-five (four home runs and double), scored four and drove in eight as his Rangers topped the Orioles 10-3 in Baltimore. The homers were his 11th-14th of the season. The 6’4”, 240-lb., 30-year-old outfielder finished the 2012 season at .285-43-128 and his nine-season MLB career at .290-200-701.  Hamilton had a career-high 43 home runs in 2012 and also had two seasons of 30+ round trippers.

Carlos Delgado, 1B, Blue Jays, Sept. 25, 2003 … Delgado (batting cleanup) went four-for-four, scored four and drove in six as his Blue Jays bested the Devil Rays 10-8 in Toronto. The homers were his 38th-41st of the season. The 6’3”, 215-lb., 31-year-old finished the 2003 season at .302-42-145 and his 17-season MLB career at .280-473-1,512.  Delgado had a career-high 44 home runs in 1999 and had 11 seasons of 30+ round trippers (three of 40+).

Shawn Green, RF, Dodgers, May 23, 2002 … Green (batting in the number-three hole) went six-for-six (four homers, one double, one single), scored six times and drove in seven as the Dodgers beat the Brewers 16-3 in Milwaukee. The homers were his sixth-ninth of the season. The 6’4”, 190-lb., 29-year-old finished the 2002 season at .285-42-114 and his 15-season MLB career at .283-328-1,070.  Green had a career-high 49 home runs in 2001 and had four seasons of 30+ round trippers (three of 40+).

Mike Cameron, CF, Mariners, May 2, 2002 … Cameron (batting cleanup) went four-for-five, scored four and drove in four as the Mariners blasted the White Sox 15-4 in Chicago. The homers were his sixth-ninth of the season. The 6’2”, 210-lb., 29-year-old finished the 2002 season at .239-25-80 and his 17-season MLB career at .249-278-968.  Cameron had a career-high 30 home runs in 2004; and had seven seasons of 20 or more.

Mark Whiten, CF, Cardinals, Sept. 7, 1993 … Whiten (batting in the seventh spot) went four-for-four, scored four and drove in 12 as the Cardinals battered the Reds 15-2 in Cincinnati. The homers were his 19th-22nd of the season. The 6’3”, 210-lb., 26-year-old finished the 1993 season at .253-25-99 and his 11-season MLB career at .259-105-423.  Whiten’s 25 home runs in 1993 were a career high, he had just one other campaign of 20+ long balls.

Bob Horner, 1B, Braves, July 6, 1986 … Horner (batting cleanup) went four-for-five, scored four and drove in six as his Braves lost to the Expos 11-8 in Atlanta.  The homers were his 14th-17th of the season. The 6’1”, 195-lb., 28-year-old finished the 1986 season at .273-27-87 and his 10-season MLB career at .277-218-685.  Horner had a career-high 35 home runs in 1980 and had three seasons of 30+ round trippers.

Mike Schmidt, 3B, Phillies, April 17, 1976 Schmidt (batting sixth) went five-for-six (four homers and a single), scored four and drove in eight as his Phillies edged the Cubs 18-16 in Chicago – in a game that featured 43 combined hits and nine homers. The homers were Schmidt’s second-fifth of the young season. The 6’2”, 195-lb., 26-year-old finished the 1976 season at .262-38-107 and his 18-season MLB career at .267-548-1,595.  Schmidt had a career-high 48 home runs in 1980 and had 13 seasons of 30+ round trippers (three of 40+).

Willie Mays, CF, Giants, April 30, 1961 … Mays (batting third) went four-for-five, scored four and drove in eight as his Giants beat the Braves 14-4 in Milwaukee. The homers were his third-fifth of the season. The 5’10”, 170-lb., 29-year-old finished the 1961 season at .308-40-123 and his 22-season MLB career at .302-660-1,903.  Mays had a career-high 52 home runs in 1965 and had 11 seasons of 30+ round trippers (two of 50+ and another four of 40+).

Rocky Colavito, RF, Indians, June 10, 1959 … Colavito (batting fourth) went four-for-four (one walk), scored five and drove in six as the Indians topped the Orioles 11-8 in Baltimore. The homers were his 15th-18th of the season. The 6’3”, 190-lb., 25-year-old finished the 1959 season at .357-42-111 and his 14-season MLB career at .266-374-1,159.  Colavito had a career-high 42 home runs in 1959 and had seven seasons of 30 or more round trippers (three of 40+).

Joe Adcock, 1B, Braves, July 31, 1954 … Adcock (batting fifth) went five-for-five (four home runs and a double), scored five runs and drove in seven, as the Braves beat the Dodgers 15-7 in Brooklyn. The homers were his 16th-19th of the season. The 6’4”, 210-lb., 26-year-old finished the 1954 season at .308-23-87 and his 17-season MLB career at .277-336-1,122.  Adcock had a career-high 38 home runs in 1956 and had two seasons of 30+ round trippers.

Gil Hodges, 1B, Dodgers, Aug. 31, 1950 … Hodges (batting sixth) went five-for-six (four home runs and a single), scored five times and drove in nine as the Dodgers bested the Braves 19-3 in Brooklyn. The homers were his 20th-23rd of the season. The 6’1”, 200-lb., 26-year-old finished the 1950 season at .283-32-113 and his 18-season MLB career at .273-370-1,274.  Hodges had a career-high 42 home runs in 1954 and had six seasons of 30+ round trippers (two of 40 or more).

Pat Seerey, LF, White Sox, July 18, 1948 … Seerey (batting fourth)  went four-for-seven (also had a walk), scored four times and knocked in seven runs as his White Sox topped the Athletics 12-11 in the first game of a double header in Philadelphia. The homers were his eighth-eleventh of the season. The 5’10”, 200-lb., 25-year-old finished the 1948 season at .231-19-70 and his seven-season MLB career at .224-86-261.  Seerey had a career-high 26 home runs in 1946 – his only season of 20 or more.

Chuck Klein, RF, Phillies, July 10, 1936 … Klein (batting third) went four-for-five, scored four and drove in six as the Phillies beat the Pirates 9-6 in Pittsburgh. The homers were his 11th-14th of the season. The 6’, 185-lb., 31-year-old finished the 1936 season at .306-25-104 and his 17-season MLB career at .320-300-1.201.  Klein had a career-high 43 home runs in 1929 and had four seasons of 30+ round trippers (two of 40+).

Lou Gehrig, 1B, Yankees, June 3, 1932 … Gehrig (batting cleanup) went four-for-six, scored four and drove in six as the Yankees outlasted the Athletics 20-13 in Philadelphia. The homers were his 8th-11th of the season. The 6’, 200-lb., 28-year-old finished the 1932 season at .349-34-151 and his 17-season MLB career at .340-493-1,995.  Gehrig had a career-high 52 home runs in 1927 and had 12 seasons of 30+ round trippers (seven of 40 or more).

Ed Delahanty, 1B, Phillies, July 13, 1896 … Delahanty (batting cleanup) went five-for-five (four homers and a single), scored four and drove in nine as his Phillies lost to the Colts (Cubs) 9-8 in Chicago. The 6’1”, 170-lb., 28-year-old finished the 1896 season at .397-13-126 (the 13 home runs led the NL) and his 16-season MLB career at .346-101-1,466.  Delahanty had a career-high 19 home runs in 1893.

Bobby Lowe, 2B, Beaneaters, May 30, 1894 … Lowe (batting leadoff) went five-for-six (four home runs and a single), scored four and drove in six as his Beaneaters (Braves) beat the Reds 20-11 in Boston.  The 5’10”, 150-lb., 28-year-old finished the 1894 season at .346-17-114 and his 18-season MLB career at .273-71-989.  Lowe’s 17 homers in 1894 were his career high.

Sources: Baseball-reference.com; Society for American Baseball Research; MLB.com.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

FOLLOW/LIKE Baseball Roundtable’s Facebook page, here – Baseball news and commentary, blog post notifications and great giveaways. 

 

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

Roger Maris – from zero intentional walks one season to four in one game – and other IBB Trivia

Maris

In 1961, the Yankees’ Roger Maris belted 61 home runs (breaking Babe Ruth’s then MLB record of 60). He also drove in a league-leading 141 runs, scored a league-leading 132 times and won his second consecutive AL Most Valuable Player Award. In addition, he drew a career-high 94 walks.  Ironically, however, 1961 was the only season in his 12-year MLB-career that Maris did not draw a single intentional walk. 

Compare that to the following season, when – On May 22, 1962 – in a 2-1, 12-inning Yankee victory over the Angels, Maris drew five walks in six trips to the plate – including an AL single-game record (later tied by the Red Sox’ Manny Ramirez) four intentional passes. In 1962, Maris drew a career-high eleven intentional passes, while putting up a .256-33-100 line.

 

Notably, when you talk intentional walks, the conversation pretty much has to focus on Barry Bonds.   Bonds holds the records for:

  • IBB in a season – 120 with the Giants in 2004. (Bonds, in fact, holds the top three spots. The first non-Barry on the list is the Giants Willie McCovey with 45.) Note: Only three players had as many total walks as Bonds had intentional walks in 2004 – Bobby Abreu, Lance Berkman, and Todd Helton (127 each). Bonds drew 232 total walks.
  • IBB in a career – 688. Second Place goes to the still active Albert Pujols of the Angels with 305 as this is written.
  • Most seasons leading the league in IBB – 12.
  • Most IBB’s in a nine-inning game – four (twice) on May 1 and September 22, 2004.

FEASTING ON FREEBEES

On May 22, 1990, RF and cleanup hitter Andre Dawson of the Cubs came to the plate eight times in a 16-inning, 2-1 Cubs win over the Reds. Dawson drew five intentional passes – the MLB record for IBB in a game. His day went like this:

  • Bottom of the first – runner on second and one out – intentional walk.
  • Bottom of the fourth – leading off – groundout to SS.
  • Bottom of the sixth – two outs and a runner on first – fly out to left.
  • Bottom of the eighth – score still 0-0, runner on third, two out – intentional walk.
  • Bottom of the 11th – runner on first, no outs – single.
  • Bottom of 12th – still 0-0, runners on first and second, two outs – intentional walk.
  • Bottom of 14th – score now 1-1, runner on second, two out – intentional walk.
  • Bottom of 16th – runners on first and third, one out – intentional walk, loading the bases. LF Dave Clark followed with a walk-off single to win the game.

Dawson, who hit .310-27-100, drew a career-high 21 intentional free passes in 1990.

A few other free pass marks:

  • Most IBB in a season in the American League – 33 by Ted Williams in 1957 and John Olerud in 1993.
  • Most IBB to a rookie – 16 to Mariners’ OF Al Davis in 1984, when he hit ..284-27-116 and was the AL Rookie of the Year.
  • Most intentional walks received by a team in a game – six, provided by the Cardinals (to the Giants) in a 5-2 loss On July 19, 1975 – with three going to number-eight hitter catcher Dave Rader. Here are the IBB’s: bottom of second to Dave Rader with a runner on second, one out and Cardinals down 2-0; bottom of third to Dave Rader, runners on second and third, two out, Cardinals down 4-2; bottom of the fifth to Dave Rader, with a runner on second, two out and the Giants up 4-2; bottom of the sixth to Bobby Murcer, with a runner on second, one out and the Giants up 4-2; bottom of the sixth to Willie Montanez, with the bases loaded, two outs and Giants still up 4-2; bottom of the eighth to Willie Montanez, with a runnr on third and one out and Giants up 4-2.
  • Six players have received intentional walks with the bases loaded: Abner Dalrymple (August 2, 1881); Nap Lajoie (May 23, 1901); Del Bissonette (May 2, 1928); Bill Nicholson (July 23, 1944); Barry (of course he did) Bonds (May 28, 1998); and Josh Hamilton (August 17, 2008).

WALKIN’ IN THE SUNSHINE

In 2004, the year he set the single-season record for intentional walks (120), Barry Bonds also set the single-season record for total walks (232). The next highest MLB walk total that season was 127.  In 2004, Bonds walked in 37.9 percent of his trips to the plate. (Notably, he only struck out 41 times in a .362-45-101 campaign.) While Bonds walked more than 100 times in a season 14 times, the only season he reached 100 strikeouts was in his rookie year (1986).  Note: The other two members of the 700+ home run club –  Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth – had zero 100 strikeout seasons between them.  Aaron also never drew 100 walks in a season, while Ruth had 12 seasons of 100+ bases on balls.

Among the references sources for this post: Baseball-Almanac.com; Baseball-Reference.com; MLB.com.

 

Follow/Like Baseball Roundtable’s Facebook page – here.  Baseball commentary, blog post notifications, baseball giveaways.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

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

Grand (Slam) Old Day at the Ballpark(s)

Albert Pujols photo

Photo by Keith Allison

It was a big day in baseball yesterday, not only did fans witness the first no-hitter of the 2017 season (the Marlins’ Edison Volquez), but major league hitters bashed a one-day record seven Grand Slams.  The four-run blasts where flying off the bats of players from A to Z (Adams to Zunino). The “Granddaddy” of those was stroked by Angels’ DH Albert Pujols in a 7-2 win over the Twins. It was Pujols’ ninth round tripper of the year, but more significantly, the 600th of his career.

All in all, it was a good day to come to the plate with the sacks full. On the day, MLB hitters made 20 plate appearances with the bases loaded – and hit a robust .579 in those situations.  The finally bases-full tally:

  • 20 plate appearances;
  • 11 hits (19 at bats) and a walk;
  • Three singles, one double and seven Grand Slams;
  • 37 total RBI in bases-loaded trips to the plate.

Here are the day’s Grand Slam contributors:

Matt Adams, 1B, Braves …. Fifth home run of the season, as the Braves beat the Red 6-5. (Adams hit a second home run later in the game.)

Ian Desmond, 1B, Rockies – His third home run of 2017, as the Rockies topped the Padres 10-1.

Albert Pujols, DH, Angels … His ninth HR of the year, as Angels win 7-2 over Twins.

Kyle Schwarber, LF, Cubs … His ninth HR, as the Cubs topped the Cardinals 5-3.

Travis Shaw, 38, Brewers … His tenth long ball, as the Brewers lost 10-8 to the Dodgers.

Chris Taylor, CF, Dodgers … His seventh, as the Dodgers beat the Brewers 10-8.

Mike Zunino, C, Mariners …. His second dinger of the season, as the Mariners topped the Rays 9-2. (Zunino had seven RBI in the game.  He had just five RBI in 33 games played going into the game.)

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

 

FOLLOW/LIKE The Baseball Roundtable Facebook page.

Member:  Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary; The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum; Baseball Bloggers Alliance

MLB in May – The Astros, The Long Ball, Rocky Mountain Surprise

The Astros did a lot of celebrating in May. Photo by Keith Allison

The Astros did a lot of celebrating in May.
Photo by Keith Allison

It’s June 1, and that means it’s time for Baseball Roundtable’s second monthly wrap up of the 2017 season. We’ll be taking a look at leaders and losers (statistically – for May and season-to-date), as well as unique events and trends that caught BBRT’s attention.

Two things jumnp out when I reflect on May in the Major Leagues – the Houston Astros and the long ball.

 —- The Astros —-

First, the Astros. May was, indeed, their month. How dominate were the boys from Houston? In May, the Astros:

  • Went 22-7 – the only team to reach twenty wins and the only team to play .700+ball (.759).
  • Led all of MLB with 180 runs scored and gave up MLB’s sixth-fewest (and the AL’s second-fewest) runs at 113.
  • Had and MLB-best plus-67 run differential.
  • Led MLB in batting average (.280), base hits (281), and home runs (52, tied with the Rays) and total bases (502).
  • Led all of MLB in pitchers’ strikeouts (299) and had the AL’s lowest ERA (3.60).
  • Tied for the MLB lead in shutouts (3).
  • Led MLB in saves (11, tied with the Rays).

All in all, a good month if you were an Astro.

— The Long Ball — 

Major Leaguers mashed 1,060 home runs in May – the second-most of any month in MLB history.  The only month with more long balls was May of 2000 … and, of course, we have a special designation for that “era.”

Looking at the month, Minnesota’s Target Field was the site of the most May roundtrippers (66), while the Houston Astros and Tampa Bay Rays propelled the most baseballs out of the park (52 each). The Marlins’ Justin Bour did more for the near-record than any other player, going deep eleven times.  The A’s Yonder Alonso and Rays’ Logan Morrison also reach double digits in home runs during the month.

— A Few Additional Observations —

During May:

  • The Rockies Charlie Blackmon split up his extra base hits  pretty evenly: six doubles, six homers and an MLB-leading five triples. As of May 31, he leads MLB with eight three-baggers; no one else has more than four.
  • The Rangers ran off a season’s-best ten game winning streak – in which ten different pitchers recorded victories.
  • Joe Maddon notched his 1,000 career win; Albert Pujols his 599th home run.
  • We saw the second and third “immaculate innings” (three strikeouts  on nine pitches).
  • With eight saves in May, the Rockies’ Greg Holland is now 19-for-19 in 2017 save opportunities.
  • The Red Sox needed FOUR strikes in the ninth inning of a game against the Rangers to tie the record for K’s in a nine-inning contest – and they got them.

These events –  and more on the month and season – covered as you read on. 

_____________________________

First, a look at Baseball Roundtable’s Players and Pitchers of the Month for May.

—–BBRT PLAYERS/PITCHERS OF THE MONTH (MAY 2017)—–

AL Player of the Month – Carlos Correa, SS, Astros

Carlos Correa mlb photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Carlos Correa, the Astros’ 22-year-old SS (already in his third MLB season), had an outstanding month of May, putting up an MLB-best  .386  average, with 22 runs scored, an AL-leading 26 RBI and seven  home runs. The 2015 AL Rookie of the Year – one of the current crop of good young MLB shortstops – just seems to keep getting better (and he has a solid line up around him to help him on that journey). Coming in a close second was Blue Jays’ veteran RF Jose Bautista, who came off a terrible start (.178-1-7 in April) to go  .317-9-21 in May. Bautists also scored 23 runs, and even tossed in a pair fo stolen baes.  Others in the  running were:  Yankees’ LF Brett Gardner (.327-9-21) and  Astros’ LF Marwin Gonzalez (.382-7-22).

AL Pitcher of the Month – Lance McCullers, Astros

Houston righty Lance McCullers went 4-0 (six starts), but more importantly, notched a 0.99 ERA over 36 1/3 innings pitched (37 strikeouts, 21 hits, 10 walks).  In the running were: Twins’ RHP Erwin Santana (3-2, 2.57 in May) and Red Sox’ southpaw Chris Sale (5-0, 4.24, with an AL-high 58 May strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings pitched).

NL Player of the Month – Charlie Blackmon, CF, Rockies

Rockies’ CF Charlie Blackmon put it all together in May – .359 average, six home runs, 24 runs scored and 22 RBI, not to mention five triples and three steals in four attempts. The seven-season MLB veteran (with a .300 career average) is a good part of the reason Colorado is fighting for the lead in the AL West. Finishing close beind were: the Marlns’ 1B Justin Bour, who led MLB in May home runs with 11, adding a .344 average and 21 RBI; and the Reds’ Adam Duvall (.291, with seven homers and an MLB-leading 28 RBI.

NL Pitcher of the Month – Alex Wood, Dodgers

WoodDodger lefty Alex Wood got off to a rough start in May – giving up five runs (four earned) in five innigns against the Giants on May 2. Still, his Dodgers scored 13 runs for the southpaw and he got the win.  Things turned around after that. The 26-year-old Wood (in his fifth MLB season) reeled off four more wins in May (the only NL pitcher to notch five victories in the month) and did not give up a single earned run in his final four May starts. Wood went 5-0 in May, with a 1.27 ERA and 41 strikeouts (versus seven walks) in 28 1/3 innings.

Unfortunately, he ended the month on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Woods now stands 6-0, 1.69 on the season (10 appearances/eight starts). His best season was 2013 – 11-11, 2.78 with 170 strikeouts in 171 2/3 innings for the Braves. Others in the running: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (4-0, 2.78, 43 strikeouts in 32 ½ innings) and Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks (3-2, 2.56, with 45 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings).

ROCKIES’ SURPRISES – SOMETHING OLD/SOMETING NEW

A couple of Rockies players have surprised me this season – a 33-year-old veteran and a 22-year-old rookie.  Let’s start with the rookie – RHP Antonio Senzatela. Name not ring a bell?  Check the top of the MLB  leaderboard in wins. Zenzatela finished May at 7-2, 3.49.  In his sixth season in the Rockies’ system (in 2012, as a 17-year-old, he went 5-2, 0.72 in the Domincan Summer League), Senzatela made the jump from Double A to the big leagues. In five minor league seasons, he was 41-19, 2.45.

Now the veteran. In his eleventh MLB season, Mark Reynolds has played for the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Indians, Yankees, Brewers, Cardinals and, now, the Rockies. He’s been known as a low-average, but dependable, source of power.  (He also led his league in strikeouts four straight seasons – 2008-2011 – and holds the record for most whiff in a season at 223 in 2009). In his first nine seasons, Reynolds put up a .230 average, with 237 home runs and one strikeout for every 2.75 at bats. Colorado seems to agree with Reynolds – averaging .291 with one strikeout for every 3.64 at bats since joining the Rockies in 2016.  So far this season (through May 31), Reynolds stands at .308-13-44). 

___________________________________

TEAM PERFORMACE/STANDINGS

Now. lets check on team performance and standings. (More on individual stats later.) If the season ended at the close of play May 31, your playoff teams would be:

AL: Astros, Yankees, Twins or Indians. Wild Cards: Red Sox; Orioles, Twins or Indians.

The Astros have a comfortable 11-game lead in the AL West – where they not only have MLB’s best winning percentage AT .704, but are the only team in their division playing above .500 ball. The closest AL race is in the Central, where the Twins and Indians are tied atop the standings.

The Astros, as noted in the opening paragraphs, were the best team in the AL (all of MLB, really) in May – and expanded their division  lead from three games to eleven. The Blue Jays did make a surge in May, with the AL’s sscond-best record (18-10), thanks to a revival of the team’s power bats.  They still, however reside in last place in the East.  The Orioles, who led the East on May 1, slumped to 12-16 – and third place – in May. The Twins and Indians are tied at the top of the Central, despite each going just one game over .500 for the month.

NL: Nationals; Brewers; Dodgers.  Wild Cards: Rockies; Diamondbacks.

As of May 31, the NL West would put three teams into the post-season (Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks) and they all have winning percentages of .600 or better.  In the NL East, Washington is coasting with an 9 1/2-game lead, and boasts the NL’s top winning percentage (33-19, .635).  The other two division are close, with one major surprise – the Brewers are leading the NL Central by 1 ½ games over the Cardinals, with the defending World Series Champion Cubs trailing by 2 ½.

The Dodgers –  behind solid pitching (May lowest-ERA at 2.94) and offense (an NL-leading 159 May runs) – had the NL’s best May recrord at 19-9, moving from third place to first.  They were, in effect, the NL verson of Astros-lite.  Tne surprising Rockies  and the Diamondback each won 17 games (12 and 11 losses, respectively) and sit just 1/2 game back.  The only other NL team with more than 15 May wins was the Nationals at 16-11.  They expanded their lead from 5 games to 9 1/2.  In the Central, the Brewers (15-12) and Cardinals (13-13), both moved passed the Cubs (12-15) in May.  The Phillies continued to flounder, with only six May wins (fewest in baseball) against 22 lossses.  Ouch.

FULL STANDINGs AND OVERALL AND MONTH-OF-MAY WON-LOST RECORDS

AT THE END OF THIS POST. 

 

_____________________________________

Now here are the stats that are behind May and season-to-date team performance.  If you are not a stat person, scroll ahead to the stories and events of the month. 

— TEAM BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF MAY — 

RUNS SCORED (MLB average – 130)

NL: Dodgers – 159; Rockies – 157; Mets – 153

AL: Astros – 180; Red Sox – 159; Rays – 154

AVERAGE (MLB average – .254)

NL: Rockies – .278; Reds – .271; Marlins – .270

AL: Astros – .280; Red Sox – .269; Mariners – .267

HOME RUNS (MLB average – 35)

NL: D-backs – 43; Reds – 40; Cubs – 38

AL: Astros – 52; Rays – 52; Blue Jays – 49

STOLEN BASES (MLB average – 14)

NL: Reds – 34; Nationals – 19; Brewers – 18

AL: Angels – 30; Red Sox – 22; Rangers – 21

Three teams stole five or fewer bases in May: Cubs, three (in six attempts); Mets, four (in seven attempts); Orioles, five (in six attempts).

WALKS DRAWN (MLB average – 94)

NL: Cubs – 112; Dodgers – 110; Pirates – 102

AL: Rays – 120; Tigers 118; Red Sox – 116

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

Only three teams tallied fewer than 100 runs in May: Padres (88); Giants (96); Philies (99). At the bottom of the AL were the Indians (110). The Cubs had MLB’s lowest May batting average at .216; trailing in the AL were the Angels at .233.

MOST BATTERS’ STRIKEOUTS (MLB average – 231)

NL: Dodgers – 259; Padres – 249; D-backs – 244

AL: Rays – 319; Tigers- 270; Rangers – 261

FEWEST BATTERS STRIKEOUTS

NL: Mets – 197; Marlins – 209; Nationals – 212

AL: Blue Jays – 186; Astros – 189; Red Sox – 195

—TEAM PITCHING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF MAY—

EARNED RUN AVERAGE  (MLB average – 4.29)

NL:  Dodgers – 2.94; D-backs – 3.38; Cardinals – 3.47

AL: Astros – 3.60; Indians 3.82; Rays – 3.95

STRIKEOUTS (MLB average – 231)

NL: Cubs – 264; Dodgers – 261; Nationals – 256

AL: Astros – 299; Red Sox – 275; Indians – 268

SAVES

NL: Cardinals – 9; Giants 9; Rockies 9

AL: Astros – 11; Rays – 11; Royals 9;

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

Four teams had earned run averages over five for the month of May: Phillies (5.49); Twins (5.25); Reds (5.12); Mets (5.06).

YOU’LL FIND SEASON TO DATE STATS, AFTER THE STANDINGS AT THE END OF THIS POST. 

____________________________________________________

Some BBRT observations from May.

Streaking Over .500

On May 9, the Rangers were 13-20.  They broke out of a slump, however, with an 11-0 pounding of the Padres (at San Diego).  Texas went on to fashion the MLB’s longest winning streak so far this year – 10 games from May 9 through May 21. During the streak, they won two on the road and eight at home, outscoring opponents 64-27.  Notably, ten different pitchers picked up a victory each over the ten-win stretch.

On Sale Today – Double-Digit Whiffs

ChrisSaleFrom April 10 to May 19, Red Sox Southpaw Chris Sale made eight starts with ten or more strikeouts in each outing – tying a record he already shared with Pedro Martinez for consecutive games with double-digit K’s.  Here are the steak totals:

  • Pedro Martinez, Red Sox, August 19-September 27, 1999: 61 innings; 107 strikeouts; six wins (one loss); 1.18 ERA.
  • Chris Sale, White Sox, May 23-June 30, 2015: 60 innings; 97 strikeouts; three wins (three losses); 1.80 ERA.
  • Chris Sale, Red Sox, April 10-May 19, 2017: 58 2/3 innings; 88 strikeouts; four wins (two losses); 2.45 ERA.

 

 

A Different – More Positive – Five-for-Twenty

On May 25, The Boston Red Sox used five pitchers to tie the MLB record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game – notching 20 K’s in a 6-2 win over the Rangers. Starter Drew Pomeranz fanned 11 in six innings; Heath Hembree, two in two-thirds of an inning; Robby Scott, one in one-third inning; Matt Barnes, two in one inning; and Craig Kimbrell, four in one inning.

The Red Sox needed a four-whiff ninth inning to reach the record-tying 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. Closer Craig Kimbrel provided it. He came in with the Red Sox up on the Rangers 6-2 and promptly fanned Texas RF Nomar Mazara, who reached first on a wild pitch. Kimbrel then got C Jonathan Lucroy looking, DH Rougned Odor swinging and 1B Mike Napoli swinging.

This made Kimbrel just the fourth pitcher to throw a four-strikeout inning AND an “immaculate” inning (three K’s on nine pitches in their careers.  The others are: A.J. Burnett, Kenley Jansen, Felix Hernandez and Justin Masterson.

This was the sixth 20-strikeout, nine-inning contest in MLB history – four of which were completed by a single pitcher (Roger Clemens, Red Sox 1986 & 1996; Kerry Wood, Cubs, 1998; Max Scherzer, Nationals, 2016.)  The Dodgers also used five pitcherS in a 20-strikeout, nine-inning contest September 25, 2012 .  On May 8, Randy Johnson (D-backs) fanned 20 batters in nine innings, but left with the score tied 1-1. Five relievers added one strikeout as the D-backs topped the Reds 4-3 in eleven innings.

In Memorial … Started with the Phillies, Ended Up with the Senators

BunningOn May 26, baseball lost Hall of Famer Jim Bunning (complications from a stroke).  Bunning not only had a seventeen-season, HOF-worthy baseball career, but went on to become the only Hall of Famer to serve in Congress.  Bunning pitched in the major leagues from 1955 through 1972 (Tigers, Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates). After leaving baseball, Bunning, who had a degree in Economics from Xavier University, served as the U.S. Congressional Representative for Kentucky’s Fourth District from 1987-99 and as a U.S. Senator from Kentucky from 1999-2011.

I … thought that being able to throw a curveball never was a bad skill for a politician to have.”

      Jim Bunning, Baseball Hall of Famer/United States Senator

The 6’ 3” side-armer was known as an intimidating presence on the mound – once leading the NL in hit batters for four consecutive seasons (1964-67). He was a 20-game winner (20-8, 2.69 in 1957) and a four-time 19-game winner.  A few more Bunning baseball facts, he:

  • Was 224-187, with a 3.27 ERA and 2,855 strikeouts over his career;
  • Pitched a no-hitter with the Tigers (July 20, 1958);
  • Pitched a perfect game for the Phillies (June 21, 1964);
  • Was a nine-time All Star;
  • Led his league in wins once, strikeouts three times, and shutouts twice;
  • Threw an “immaculate” inning (nine pitches, three strikeouts) on August 2, 1959.

Another Immaculate Inning

On May 18, Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen closed the door on the Miami Marlins in the Dodgers’ 7-2 win.  Jansen threw the third “immaculate” inning (three strikeouts on the nine pitches) of the 2017 season. Jansen came on in the bottom of the eighth with the Dodgers up 5-2 and got the final out by fanning catcher J.T. Realmuto on five pitches (which would seem inefficient in the ninth). In the bottom of the frame Jansen beat out an infield single (more #WhyIHateTheDH), as the Dodgers up the lead to 7-2.

In the ninth, Jansen fanned 3B Derek Dieterich on three pitches (all looking); SS J.T. Riddle on three pitched (swinging, looking, looking) and pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki on three pitches (looking, foul ball, swinging).  On April 17, the Reds’ reliever Drew Storen also threw an immaculate inning – while on May 14th, the Nationals’ Max Scherzeer accomplished the feat.

IMMACULATE INNINGS ON THE RISE

There have been 83 “immaculate” innings (three strikeouts on nine pitches) in MLB history –accomplished by 77 pitchers.  Sandy Koufax holds the MLB the record with three such frames. The emergence of fireballing relievers is reflected in the fact that 36 of the 83 occurrences have come since 2000. By contrast the 1950’s and 1960’s saw only 11.

More #WhyIHateTheDH … The Short and the Long of It

On May 18, the Blue Jays’ Marcus Stroman – who hardly ever gets a chance to step in the batter’s box – hit his first career home run.  It came in the fourth inning of Blue Jays 9-0 win over the Braves in Atlanta. (Stroman pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the win.)  The home run was just the 5’8”, 180-pound Stroman’s second career hit (12 at bats) – both this season – a double and the home run.   The last Blue Jays’ pitcher to homer before Stroman was at the other end of the height spectrum – 6’9”, 240-pound  Mark Hendrickson – who went deep back in 2003.

A Grand Occasion

On May 16, Cubs manager Joe Maddon reached a significant milestone – notching his 1,000th career major league managerial win as his Cubs topped the Reds 9-5.  Maddon is a three-time Manager of the Year and, of course, broke the Cubs’ curse last season – with a 103-win campaign and a World Series Championship.

Slump-Breaking 101 – Do it in Style

Tigers’ outfield Tyler Collins knows how to break a slump. Going into the Tigers’ May 17 game against the Orioles, Collins was in a zero-for-thirty slump (his last hit had come on May 1). During the slump, his average had dropped from .304 to .216  On the 17th, he broke out in a big way – going three-for-four with two home runs, a double and four RBI (getting his average back up to .238). Unfortunately, that game looks like an outlier – Collins got only two more hits in May (29 at bats) and ended the month at an even .200.

THE NAME GAME

In 2013, Christian Arroyo  graduated from Hernando High School in Brooksville, Florida and was drafted by the San Francisco Giants. Eighteen year earlier another Arroy0 – Bronson Arroyo (no relation) graduated from Hernando High as was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  On May 5, the 21-year-old rookie Arroyo (Christian) was playing 3B and batting sixth for the Giants, while the now 40-year-old Arroyo (in his 16th MLB season) was on the mound for the Reds. The first time they faced each other, youth won the day, as Christian homered off Bronson. (It was Christian Arroyo’s only hit of the day. Bronson, however, could leave the contest with a smile – he got the win, as the Reds topped the Giants 13-3.)

On May 6, as the Dodgers faced off against the Padres, CLAYTON Kershaw was on the mound, throwing to battery mate AUSTIN Barnes. The Padres countered with CLAYTON Richard on the mound and AUSTIN Hedges behind the plate. Are those monikers really that popular?  Note: Clayton (the Kershaw one) got the win, while Clayton (the Richard one) took the loss, as the Dodgers triumphed 10-2. The Dodgers’ Austin (Barnes) also outperformed his counterpart Austin (Hedges) – going two-for-four to Hedges’ zero-for-three with a walk.

Finally, The Chicago White Sox have had occasion this season to start an outfield lineup of Avisail GARCIA, Leury GARCIA and Willy GARCIA – not related.

The Big Ouch

On May 29, the Twins went into the eighth inning with an 8-2 lead over the Houston Astros (in a battle of division leaders). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Astro were 0-659 in their history when trailing by six or more runs after six innings.  Make that 1-659, Houston scored 11 in the eighth and and three more in the ninth for a 16-8 win.

______________________________________

Now individual batting and pitching leaders for May.

MONTH OF MAY BATTING LEADERS

AVERAGE (minimum75 at bats)

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – .359; Matt Kemp, Braves – .357; Buster Posey, Giants – .344

AL: Carlos Correa, Astros – .386); Marwin Gonzalez, Astros – .382; Eric Hosmer, Royals – .367

HOME RUNS

NL: Justin Bour, Marlins- 11; Jake  Lamb, D-backs – 9; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 9

AL: Yonder Alonso, Oakland – 10; Logan Morrison, Rays – 10; four with nine

RBI

NL: Adam Duvall, Reds 28; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 27; Jake Lamb – D-backs – 24

AL: Carlos Correa, Astros – 26; four with 22

RUNS SCORED

NL: Billy Hamilton, Reds – 27; Michael Confroto, Mets – 25; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 25

AL: Corey Dickerson, Rays – 27; four with 23

STOLEN BASES

NL: Billy Hamilton, Reds – 18; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 12; Trea Turner, Nationals – 9

AL: Camerin Maybin, Angels – 10; Elvis Andrus, Rangers – 7; five with six

WALKS

NL: Joey Votto, Reds – 28; Matt Carpenter, Cardinals – 19; Kris Bryant, Cubs – 19

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 22; Camerin Maybin, Angels -21; two with 18

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

The lowest May average (minimum 50 at bats) goes to the Tigers’ Tyler Collins at .108 (7-for-65). In the NL, the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber hit .120 in May (10-for 83).

The MLB leader in whiffs for May was the Orioles’ Chris Davis (46 strikeouts in 99 at bats), while the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger  led the NL with 40 May strikeouts (106 at bats). Still, Davis put up a .222-8-16 line, while Bellinger was even more productive at .245-9-27.  I’d call these Dave “Kingman Country.”

—MAY INDIVIDUAL PITCHING LEADERS—

WINS

NL: Alex Wood, Dodgers – 5-0, 1.27; six with four wins

AL: Chris Sale, White Sox – 5-0, 4.24; four with four wins

EARNED RUN AVERAGE (minimum 25 innings)

NL:  Carlos Martinez, Cardinals  – 2.03; Zack Goldley, D-backs – 2.20; Max Scherzer, Nationals, 2.27

AL: Lance McCullers, Astros – 0.99; Michael Fulmer, Tigers – 2.19; Derek Holland. White Sox – 2.56

STRIKEOUTS

NL:  Max Scherzer, Nationals – 60 (43 2/3 IP); Jeff Samardzija, Giants – 49 (40 2/3 IP); Jacob deGrom, Mets – 48 (36 1/3 IP)

AL: Chris Sale, Red Sox – 58 (40 1/3 IP); Chris Archer, Rays – 58 (40 IP); two with 45

The May leader (among starters) in strikeouts per nine innings was Chris Archer of the Rays at 13.05, followed closely by the Dodgers Alex Wood at 13.02.

SAVES

NL: Greg Holland, Rockies – 8; Fernando Rodney, D-backs – 7; Jim Johnson, Braves – 7

AL: Alex Colome, Rays – 10; Kelvin Herrera, Royals – 9; three with eight

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

The highest May earned run averages (minimum 25 innings pitched) goes to the Phillies’ Zach Elfin and D-backs’ Pat Corbin – both at 9.00. (Corbin, however, went 2-2 on the month.) Dylan Covey of the White Sox came close in the AL at 8.87.

Individual stats through May follow the standing and team stats below.

StatsMay

____________________________________________

—TEAM OFFENSIVE STATS THROUGH MAY 31—

RUNS SCORED (MLB average – 239)

NL: Nationals – 286; Rockies – 276; Dodgers – 271

AL: Astros – 292; Yankees – 268; Rays – 265

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

Only three teams scored fewer than 200 runs through May 31: Royals (178); Giants (183); Padres (190). No surprise, those same three teams were at the bottom in terms of average as well: Padres (.221); Giants (.228); Royals (.231).

AVERAGE (MLB average – .251)

NL: Nationals – .275; Marlins – .265; Rockies – .264

AL: Astros – .277; Red Sox – .269; Yankees – .266

HOME RUNS (MLB average – 64)

NL: Nationals – 77; Brewers – 74; D-backs 74

AL: Rays – 83; Astros – 82; Yankees 76

The Rays led all of MLB with 83 home runs through May.  This free-swining group also topped MLB in strikeouts over that period at 577. The Brewers were next at 496.

The Red Sox and Giants were the only two teams to not reach 50 home runs through May 31 – sitting at 48 and 42, respectively.

WALKS DRAWN  (MLB average – 175)

NL: Dodgers – 209; Cubs – 208; Pirates  – 189

AL: Rays – 218; Tigers – 208; Twins – 205

STOLEN BASES (MLB average – 27)

NL: Reds – 57; D-backs – 48; Brewers – 43

AL: Angels – 43; Rangers – 43; Mariners – 34

The Rockies and Orioles stole the fewest sacks through May. The Orioles had 12 (in just 16 attempts) and the Rockies 12 (in 24 attempts.) The Rockies’ 50 percent success rate was MLB’s lowest, while their Reds led the way with an 82.6 percent success rate.

 

—TEAM PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH MAY 31—

EARNED RUN AVERAGE  (MLB average – 4.20)

NL: Dodgers – 3.20; D-backs – 3.59; Cardinals –  3.75

AL: Astros – 3.49; Yankees – 3.82; Rays – 3.83

STRIKEOUTS (MLB average – 433)

NL: D-backs – 506; Dodgers – 503; Cubs – 479

AL: Astros – 537; Red Sox – 504; Indians – 504

FEWEST WALKS (MLB – average – 239)

NL: Dodgers – 147; Pirates – 151; Nationals – 159

AL: Red Sox – 132; Indians – 146; Yankees – 150

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

The NL’s worst earned run average through May belonged to the Phillies (4.95); while the Tigers were at the bottom of the AL (4.70).

The six worst starting rotation ERA’s belonged to NL team, with the Phillies at the bottom (5.95). Cleveland was at the bottom of the AL (4.79).

Two teams had bullpen ERA’s of 5.00 or higher through May: Twins (5.33) and Rangers (5.00). The worst bullpen ERA in the NL belonged to the Nationals at 4.82.

__________________________________________

Now let’s looik at individual leaders.

—BATTING LEADERS THROUGH MAY 31—

AVERAGE (minimum 150 at bats)

NL: Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals – .368; Buster Posey, Giants – .348; Zach Cozart, Reds – .347.

AL: Jean Segura, Mariners – .344; Corey Dickerson, Rays- .341; Mike Trout, .337

HOME RUNS

NL: Scott Schebler, Reds – 16; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals – 15; Bryce Harper, Nationals- 15; Justin Bour, Marlins – 15

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 17; Mike Trout, Angels – 15; – Khris Davis, A’s – 16;  Joey Gallo, Rangers – 16

RBI

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 46; Adam Duvall, Reds – 45; Jake Lamb, D-backs – 45

AL: Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 42; Miguel Sano, Twins – 39; Albert Pujols, Angels – 38

RUNS SCORED

NL: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 46; Bruce Harper, Nationals – 44, Eric Thames, Brewers – 42

AL: Corey Dickerson, Rays – 40; Aaron Judge, Yankees – 40; George Springer Astros – 39

STOLEN BASES

NL: Billy Hamilton, Reds; – 28 Dee Gordon Marlins -16; Jose Pereza, Red – 14

AL: Jarrod Dyson, Mariners – 14; Cameron Maybin, Angels – 13; Lorenzo Cain, Royals – 12; Elvis Andrus, Rangers –  12

EXTRA STAT OF THE DAY

Through May, no hitter has been hit by more pitches than Cubs’ 1B Anthony Rizzo (12). In the AL, the leader is the Angels’ Martin Maldanado with eight. If you are interested, “Brawlin’ Bryce Harper has been plunked once.

WALKS

NL:  Joey Votto, Reds – 39; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 39; Kris Bryant, Cubs – 35

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 36*; Jose Bautista, Blue Jays – 31; Miguel Sano, Twins – 31

*Ten of Mike Trout’s 31 free passes have been intentinal – which leads all of MLB.

Your strikeout “kings” through May are: Orioles’ Chris Davis – 79 whiffs in 175 at bats to go with a .223-10-18 line; and (in the NL) Brewers’ Kedon Broxton – 67 strikeouts in 161 at bats to go with a .248-5-15 line.

—PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH MAY—

WINS

NL: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 7-2, 2.37; Antonio Senzatel – 7-2, 3.49; four with six

AL: Dallas Keuchel, Astros – 8-0, 1.81; Erwin Santans,Twins – 7-2, 1.75; six with six

EARNED RUN AVERAGE (Minimum 50 innings)

NL: Mike Leake, Cardinals – 2.24; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 2.37; Max Scherzer, Nationals – 2.56

AL: Erwin Santana, Twins – 1.75; Dallas Keuchel, Astros – 1.81; Derek Holland, White Sox – 2.37

STRIKEOUTS

NL: Max Scherzer, Nationals – 100 (77 1/3 IP); Jacob deGrom, Mets – 92 (68 IP); three  with 84

AL: Chris Sale, White Sox – 110 (78 IP); Chris Archer, Rays – 95 (79 1/3 IP); Marco Estrada, Blue Jays – 78 (68 2/3 IP)

SAVES

NL: Greg Holland, Rockies – 19; Fernando Rodney, D-backs – 13; Seung-Hwan Oh, 12

AL:  Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox – 15; Alex Colome, Rays – 15; two with 14

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

The worst ERA among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched belongs to the Braves’ Bartolo Colon at 6.99. In the AL, the worst ERA  (again, at least 50 IP) goes to Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jimebnez at 6.66.

Among the sources for this post: ESPN.com; MLB.com; SABR; Baseball-Reference.com

FOLLOW/LIKE Baseball Roundtable’s Facebook page – lots of baseball talk, notification of new blog posts, great giveaways.  Click here.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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