Bumgarner’s Performance – In Perspective

On the surface, the 2014 World Series wasn’t a fall “classic” –  the average margin of victory was five runs.  Still, it had a tight and tense Game Seven, plenty of dazzling (at times game-changing) defensive plays, some outstanding bullpen work, Pablo Sandoval looking like Pablo Picasso at the plate (12 hits in seven games) and Hunter Pence cashing in a dozen safeties as well.  But most of all, it had a truly classic performance by Giants’ “ace” Madison Bumgarner – and that made this a Series for the age.

Madison Bumgarner - historic performance by Series MVP.

Madison Bumgarner – historic performance by Series MVP.

Madison Bumgarner claimed his place in MLB World Series’ annals with 21 innings pitched (two starts and a relief appearance in Game Seven) and only one run allowed (0.43 ERA).  His two victories and a save earned Bumgarner World Series MVP honors.  (The scorer at first gave Bumgarner the win in Game Seven – which would have enabled him to tie the MLB record for victories in a single Fall Classic, but later changed that to a save.) The superlatives were flowing freely during the game coverage and still continue in the traditional and social media.  And, rightfully so.  The Series MVP started Game One and threw seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball; followed up with a three-hit complete-game shutout in Game Five; and wrapped it up by coming on in relief in Game Seven to toss five innings of two-hit ball in the Giants’ 3-2 victory. Over his twenty-one innings of work, Bumgarner allowed just one run, nine hits and one walk, while striking out seventeen.  For the Giants: No doubt, no Bumgarner, no Series title.

It was clearly a performance for the ages.  In fact, it may have been the best World Series pitching performance ever (particularly given the futility of the rest of the Giants’ pitching staff and Bumgarner’s short-rest Game Seven shutdown of the Royals).

All the talk about Bumgarner got BBRT to thinking about past World Series pitching performances – the likes of which we’ll likely never see again.   I’m talking about achievements like:

  • Starting five games in a single World Series (best-of-nine Series) in just 13 days – completing them all.
  • Throwing three complete-game shutouts – in a five-game series.
  • Notching three complete-game wins in a single World Series – as a rookie.

Why aren’t we likely to see these kinds of numbers in the future?  First, “going the distance” is no longer a priority, seven innings is considered going deep; second, the increasing adherence to pitch counts; third, “closers gotta close,” setting up your designated 7th, 8th and 9th inning hurlers has become integral game strategy; and, fourth, the extended post-season means starting pitchers have thrown a considerable number of high-pressure playoff innings by the time they get to the World Series.  (Bumgarner had started four 2014 post-season games before Game One of the World Series; going 2-1, 1.42 in 31 2/2 postseason innings before throwing his first World Series pitch.)  Applause and thanks to Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy for ignoring all these factors – and to Madison Bumgarner for rewarding his confidence.

Given all that, BBRT decided to look back on those World Series’ performances in which a pitcher not only notched three victories in a single Series, but also limiting the review to those instances in which all three wins were complete games.

Despite Bumgarner’s magnificent 2014 achievements, BBRT’s vote for the number-one World Series pitching performance ever still belongs to:

http://

1905 – Christy Mathewson  – Three complete-game shutouts in six days

In 1905, the great Christy “Big Six” Mathewson tossed a record three complete-game shutouts in a single World Series – and he did it in a five-game Series.  In just six days, the future Hall of Famer started and finished Games 1, 3 and 5 – tossing 27 innings, giving up just 13 hits and one walk, while fanning 18.

On October 9, in Game One, Mathewson tossed a four-hitter, never allowing more than one base runner in an inning (singles in the fourth and sixth innings, ground-rule doubles in the eighth and ninth), as the Giants prevailed over the Athletics 3-0.  Mathewson allowed no walks and fanned six.

On October 12, Mathewson tossed a second four-hit shutout in an easier 9-0 victory.  In this game, all four hits were singles and Mathewson also hit one batter and walked one (while fanning eight).

Then, on October 14, Big Six tossed a five-hitter (four singles and a double) in a 2-0 win. In this game, he logged no walks and four strikeouts.

Mathewson’s dominance was no surprise.  In his prime – and on the way to 373 MLB wins – he was coming off a league-leading 31 wins (9 losses), NL-best eight shutouts, league-high 206 strikeouts and league-low 1.28 regular season ERA. Just how good was Mathewson?  In 17 MLB seasons, he logged four seasons of 30+ wins and another nine campaigns of 20+ victories – while leading the his league in victories four times, ERA five times, and strikeouts four times.

Now, here’s a look – in chronological order – at all the other hurlers to log three complete-game victories in a single World Series.  Hall of Famers are first referenced in Bold Face/Red/Italics.

1903 World Series – Bill Dinneen AND Deacon Phillippe

Considered the first official AL/NL World Series, the 1903 Boston Americans/Pittsburgh Pirates match-up was a “best five-of-nine” that went eight games (and saw two pitchers win three World Series games).

The hero of the 1903 World Series was Boston Americans’ right-hander Bill Dinneen, who picked up three victories in four starts  – tossing four complete games in the process.  That the 27-year-old Dinneen was the Americans’ pitching star came as a bit of a surprise, since the Boston staff was led by righty Cy Young – who had just rung up a league-leading 28 regular season victories (nine losses), the 36-year-old veteran’s fifth time leading the league in wins. Of course, Dinneen was no slouch, having gone 21-13, 2.26 in the regular season (after a 21-21 record in 1902). The Americans’ staff boasted a third 20-game winner in Tom Hughes, who finished 20-7, 2.57 (his only twenty-win campaign). Young did have a good post-season 2-1, 1.85 in three starts and one relief appearance – while Hughes lasted only 2 innings in his only start.

It was Dinneen, however, who brought the World Championship to Boston, starting games 2, 4, 6 and 8 and picking up three wins versus one loss (Game Four, 5-4). His efforts included four complete games, as well as two shutouts (Game two and the Game Eight clincher). Dinneen gave up just eight earned runs in his four starts (2.06 ERA), pitching 35 innings – with 29 hits, eight walks and 28 strikeouts. The 1903 World Series was pretty much the highlight of the hard-throwing Dinneen’s 12-year MLB career, in which he went 170-177, 3.01 and made it to the post-season just the one time.  He did, however, win 20 or more games four times.

On the Pittsburgh Pirates’ side of the field, right-hander Deacon Phillippe did all he could to bring the first World Championship to Pittsburgh – starting, and completing, a still Series-record five games in 13 days (October 1 – October 13). Phillippe was truly the Pirates’ ace. He had gone 25-9, 2.43 in the regular season – his fifth straight twenty-win campaign. In the Series, he started Games 1, 3, 5, 7, and 8 (when he came up against the hot hand of Dinneen). Phillippe won his first three starts, but lost the final two.  Phillippe finished the Series 3-2, 3.07, tossing 44 innings, giving up 38 hits, 15 earned runs, three walks, and striking out 22. While Phillippe would have only one more twenty-win season after 1903, he did finish his 13-year MLB career with a 189-109, 2.59 record and led the NL in winning percentage (14-2, .875) in 1910 (at the age of 38).

1909 World Series – Babe Adams, the rookie

Although he had the proverbial “cup of coffee” in the major leagues in 1906-07 (appearing in five games), Charles “Babe” Adams still qualified as a rookie when he went 12-3, 1.11 for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1909.  The rookie right-hander went on to pitch three complete-game victories for Pittsburgh (over Detroit) in the World Series, including a six-hit shutout in the final game (an 8-0 Pirates’ win). For the Series, Adams gave up just four earned runs, with 18 hits, six walks and 11 strikeouts. Adams went 194-140, 2.76 in 19 MLB seasons – walking only 430 hitters in 2,995 1/3 innings.  On July 17, 1914, Adams pitched a 21-inning complete game without issuing a single walk, which remains the longest game without a walk in MLB history.

1910 World Series – Jack Coombs, three wins in six days

Philadelphia Athletics’ Jack Coombs matched Christy Mathewson’s three complete-game victories in a five-game Series in 1910, as the Athletics topped the Cubs.  Coombs pitched Games 2, 3 and 5 giving up ten earned runs in his 27 innings of work (24 hits, 14 walks, 17 strikeouts). Like Mathewson, Coombs was coming off a spectacular regular season (his 31-9 mark was identical to Mathewson’s 1905 stats and he led the AL in wins). Coombs also had a minuscule 1.30 regular-season ERA. The 27-year-old rightly led the AL in wins again in 1911 with 28 and won 158 games in a 15-season MLB career.

1920 World Series – Stan Coveleski and three five-hitters

In 1920, the Cleveland Indians topped the Brooklyn Robins four games to three, with Stan Coveleski throwing three, complete-game five-hitters – winning Game Two 3-1, Game Four 5-1, and Game Seven 3-0.  The thirty-year-old Coveleski went 24-14, 2.49 in 1920 – the third of four consecutive twenty-win seasons.  He had perhaps his best season in 1925 (age 35), going 20-5 for Washington, leading the AL in winning percentage (.800) and ERA (2.84).  In 14 MLB seasons, he went 215-142, 2.89

1957 World Series – Lew Burdette leads underdog Braves

The 1957 Milwaukee Braves surprised the heavily favored Yankees behind the fidgety right-arm of Lew Burdette (who pitched in his first MLB game as a Yankee). Burdette started and completed Games 2, 5 and 7 of the Series.  In Game Two, he gave up seven hits and two runs, as the Braves won 4-2. He followed up with a pair of seven-hit shutouts (1-0, 5-0).  Burdette seemed an unlikely World Series “ace.”  At 17-9, 3.72, he was actually third on the Braves’ staff in regular season wins behind lefty Warren Spahn (21-11, 2.69) and righty Bob Buhl (18-7, 2.74) and fourth among starters in ERA (Gene Conley’s ERA was 3.16).   Burdette went 203-144, 3.66 in 18 MLB seasons – winning twenty or more games twice.

1967 World Series – Bob Gibson brings the heat

Cardinals’ ace Bob Gibson notched three complete-game victories over the Red Sox in the 1967 World Series (Games 1, 4 and 7), including a Game Four shutout.  For the Series, Gibson threw 27 innings, giving up just three runs on 14 hit and five walks, with 26 strikeouts.  In 1967, Gibson went 13-7, 2.98 – a mid-season leg injury limited him to 24 starts.   In the 1968 Series, while “only” going 2-1 in three starts, Gibson set the record for  strikeouts in a single World Series (35) and for a World Series game (17 in Game One). In a 17-year MLB career, Gibson went 251-174, 2.91 – with 3,117 strikeouts.

1968 World Series – Mickey Lolich on the big stage

In 1968, Detroit Tigers’ Mickey Lolich took a back seat to teammate Denny McLain – who went 31-6, 1.96 in the “Year of the Pitcher.”  Lolich, who had a solid season at 17-9, 3.19, however, stole the spotlight with three complete-game victories in the World Series.  Lolich’s 16-season MLB totals were 217-191, 3.44, including a 25-14, 2.92 season in 1971.

Very honorable mention in this post goes to four pitchers who earned three victories (just not complete-game victories) in a single World Series:  Joe Wood (1912 Red Sox/eight-game Series); Red Faber (1917 White Sox); Harry Brecheen (St. Louis Cardinals, 1946); and Randy Johnson (2001, Diamondbacks).

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

photo by:

Baseball Bloggers Alliance 2014 Player Awards

 

GAME ONE:  Giants Find Missing “Sock” – use extra base hits to down Royals in K.C.

GAME TWO: How Do You Spell Relief ?   Not G-I-A-N-T-S – as Royals “Lorde” it over SF’s Relief Corps.

We now interrupt the World Series for this important announcement regarding the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) 2014 Awards.

After each season, members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (an organization of 200+ bloggers dedicated to the national pastime) vote on a series of awards for each league.  Those recognitions, announced in increments during the month of October, include:

  • Willie Mays Award (top rookie)
  • Walter Johnson Award (top starting pitcher)
  • Stan Musial Award (top player)
  • Goose Gossage Award (top relief pitcher)
  • Connie Mack Award (top manager)

The results for all the awards are now in and, in this post, BBRT will share the winners – and top five finishers – in each of the BBA categories, as well as  few comments on areas where the full BBA results differed from BBRT’s early-October ballot.  For a detailed look at BBRT’s entire ballot, click here. 

 

WILLIE MAYS AWARD – top rookie

Jose Abreu dominated BBA rookie balloting, but did not top BBRT's ballot.

Jose Abreu dominated BBA rookie balloting, but did not top BBRT’s ballot.

Chicago White Sox’ first baseman Jose Abreu was an overwhelming selection for the BBA Willie Mays Award for top rookie in the American League.  Abreu hit 36 home runs and drove in 107, while putting up a .317/.383/.964 line and an OPS+ of 169.

Note: OPS+ is a player’s On Base Percentage plus his Slugging Percentage adjusted for the park and the league in which he played. An OPS+ of 100 equals the league average. The higher the OPS+, the stronger the performance.

In the National League, New York Mets’ pitcher Jacob deGrom outdistanced runner-up Cincinnati Reds’ outfielder Billy Hamilton in the BBA balloting.  DeGrom went 9-6, 2.69, with better than a strikeout per inning in twenty-two 2014 starts.

While BBRT’s NL vote went to deGrom, my choice in the AL did not even make the BBA’s top five. My selection for top AL rookie was Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Matt Shoemaker, who turned in a 16-4 record, with a 3.04 ERA (20 starts, seven relief appearances). Shoemaker moved passed Abreu (and others) on the BBRT ballot thanks to his performance under the pressure of the pennant race.  From August 1 to season’s end, Shoemaker went 8-1, with a 1.66 ERA.

The top five in the BBA Willie Mays Award voting:

American League

  1. Jose Abreu, White Sox
  2. Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees
  3. Collin McHugh, Astros
  4. Dellin Betances, Yankees
  5. Mookie Betts, Red Sox

National League

  1. Jacob deGrom, Mets
  2. Billy Hamilton, Reds
  3. Ender Inciarte, Diamondbacks
  4. David Peralta, Diamondbacks
  5. Ken Giles, Phillies

For the complete 2014 BBA top rookie voting, click here.  It may take a second click to reach the article. 

Prior BBA Willie Mays Award winners:

  • 2013: Wil Myers, Tampa Bay; Jose Fernandez, Miami
  • 2012: Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Bryce Harper, Washington
  • 2011: Eric Hosmer, Kansas City and Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
  • 2010: Neftali Feliz, Texas; Buster Posey, San Francisco
  • 2009: Andrew Bailey, Oakland; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh

 

WALTER JOHNSON AWARD – top pitcher

Clayton Kershaw captured his fourth BBA top pitcher recognition.

Clayton Kershaw captured his fourth BBA top pitcher recognition.

The BBA vote for top pitcher in the AL was a close one, with the Indians’ Corey Kluber barely outpointing the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez (2010 Walter Johnson Award winner).  Kluber, who went 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA (152 ERA+), finished among the leaders in ERA (third), complete games (second, tie), strikeouts (second) and innings pitched (third).

Note: ERA+ adjusts a pitcher’s earned run average (ERA) according to the pitcher’s ballpark (whether the ballpark favors batters or pitchers) and the ERA of the pitcher’s league. Average ERA+ equals 100; a score above 100 indicates that the pitcher performed better than average, below 100 indicates worse than average.

It was a much different story in the National League, as Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers won his third Walter Johnson Award in four years – more than doubling the voting total of the runner-up, the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright. Kershaw missed a month of starts and still led the NL in wins (21), ERA (1.77 – his fourth consecutive ERA title) and complete games (6), while finishing third in strikeouts.

Kershaw was a shoe-in for the NL top pitcher on BBRT’s ballot as well, but I went “outside-the-box” with my top AL vote.  The BBA’s number-one and number-two choices did finish near the top of my ballot (second and third), but my number-one vote went to the Twins’ Phil Hughes.  Now, I am from Minnesota, but this is just not a “homer” vote. Hughes won 16 games for a team that went 70-92. Only three players in the AL won more games (they each had 18 victories), and all three pitched for teams with winning records.  Hughes, who went 16-10, 3.52, also set a new MLB record for strikeouts to walks ratio (11.63) and recorded the fewest walks ever for any hurler to reach 200 innings pitched in a season.

The top five in the BBA Walter Johnson Award vote:

American League

  1. Corey Kluber, Cleveland
  2. Felix Hernandez, Seattle
  3. Jon Lester, Boston/Oakland
  4. Chris Sale, Chicago
  5. David Price, Tampa Bay/Detroit

National League

  1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
  2. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis
  3. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati
  4. Jordan Zimmerman, Washington
  5. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia

For the complete 2014 BBA top pitcher voting,click here.    It may take a second click to reach the article. 

Prior Walter Johnson Award winners:

  • 2013: Max Scherzer, Detroit; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
  • 2012: Justin Verlander, Detroit; R.A. Dickey, New York
  • 2011: Justin Verlander, Detroit; Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
  • 2010: Felix Hernandez, Seattle; Roy Halladay, Philadelphia
  • 2009: Zack Greinke, Kansas City; Tim Lincecum, San Francisco

 

STAN MUSIAL AWARD – top player

Mike Trout, five-tool player, now a three-time Stan Musial award winner.

Mike Trout, five-tool player, now a three-time Stan Musial award winner.

Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Mike Trout easily captured his third straight BBA American League Stan Musial Award, finishing far ahead of runner-up Cleveland outfielder Michael Brantley.  Trout, who hit .287, finished in the top five in the AL in runs scored (115, first), RBI (111, first), home runs (36, third), slugging percentage (.561, third), walks (83, fourth) and triples (nine, third). He also added 16 steals in 18 tries and showed Gold Glove defensive skills.

In the National League, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw executed a BBA double steal this year, taking both the Walter Johnson Award and Stan Musial Award (see the Walter Johnson Award text above for Kershaw’s statistics).  The race was closer than in the AL, with the NL’s second-place finish going to Pirates’ centerfielder Andrew McCuthchen.

BBRT’s ballot had Trout at the top of the AL, but listed the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen ahead of Kershaw in the NL.  Explanation? In past award announcements, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has referred to this award as recognizing the “top” or “premier” player in each league (as opposed to the Most Valuable Player). That distinction, coupled with the fact that the BBA has an award for the top pitcher (named after a pitcher) and this award for top player is named after a position player, swayed my vote.  (If the award had been labeled MVP, I would have gone with Kershaw.  This same controversy, by the way, influences MLB’s MVP and the Sporting News Player of the Year Awards.) Like Trout, McCutchen exhibits Gold Glove skills in the field, along with power and speed on offense. He finished 2014 (146 games) with a .314 average, 25 home runs, 83 RBI and 18 steals (in 21 attempts).

The Top five in the BBA Stan Musial Award vote:

American League

  1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles
  2. Michael Brantley, Cleveland
  3. Jose Bautista, Toronto
  4. Corey Kluber, Cleveland
  5. Victor Martinez, Detroit

National League

  1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
  2. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
  3. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
  4. Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee
  5. Anthony Rendon, Washington

For the complete 2014 BBA top player voting click here.   It may take a second click to reach the article. 

Prior Stan Musial award winners:

  • 2013: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh
  • 2012: Mike Trout, Los Angeles; Buster Posey, San Francisco
  • 2011: Jose Bautista, Toronto; Matt Kemp, Los Angeles
  • 2010: Josh Hamilton, Texas; Joey Votto, Cincinnati
  • 2009: Joe Mauer, Minnesota; Albert Pujols, St. Louis

GOOSE GOSSAGE  AWARD – top reliever

Craig Kimbrel - four straight Goose Gossage Awards.

Craig Kimbrel – four straight Goose Gossage Awards.

Atlanta Braves’ Craig Kimbrel continued his run as the BBA’s top National  League reliever, capturing his fourth-consecutive Goose Gossage Award – although this season he did get a bit of a challenge from Cincinnati Reds’ triple-digit closer Aroldis Chapman.  Kimbrel, who led the NL in saves for the fourth-consecutive year, finished 0-3, 1.61, with league-leading 47 saves and 95 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.  To show how dominating Kimbrel has been, BBA reports that his sparkling 227 ERA+ was actually significantly lower than his ERA+ in the two previous seasons (399 and 311, respectively). ERA+ explained in the Walter Johnson Award section of this post. 

In the American League, Yankees’ rookie reliever Dellin Betances edged out Kansas City reliever Wade Davis for Goose Gossage Award honors.  Betances, appeared in 70 games for the Yankees, putting up a 1.40 ERA (and a 277 ERA+), while striking out 135 in 90 innings.

BBRT’s ballot listed Kimbrel as the NL’s top reliever, but opted for the Royals’ Greg Holland – who went 1-3, with 46 saves, a 1.44 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings pitched – in the AL.

The top five in the BBA Goose Gossage Award vote:

American League

  1. Dellin Betances, New York
  2. Wade Davis, Kansas City
  3. Greg Holland, Kansas City
  4. Zach Britton, Baltimore
  5. Sean Doolittle, Oakland

National League

  1. Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
  2. Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati
  3. Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles
  4. Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh
  5. Jonathan Papelbon, Philadelphia

For the complete 2014 BBA top reliever voting click here.   It may take a second click to reach the article. 

Prior Goose Gossage Award winners:

  • 2013: Koji Uehara, Boston; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
  • 2012: Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
  • 2011: Jose Valverde, Detroit; Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta
  • 2010: Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay; Brian Wilson, San Francisco

 

CONNIE MACK AWARD – top manager

Pirates' Manager Clint Hurdle - a second consecutive post-season berth and a second consecutive Connie Mack Award.

Pirates’ Manager Clint Hurdle – a second consecutive post-season berth and a second consecutive Connie Mack Award.

Baltimore Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter and Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle were named the 2014 Connie Mack Award winners, recognized as MLB’s top managers by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

This is the second straight year Hurdle has taken home the BBA’s top manager recognition in the NL.  After breaking the Pirates’ two-decade playoff drought in 2013, Hurdle again led Pittsburgh into the post season, securing a wild-card berth and finishing just two games shy of the Central Division Champion Cardinals.

Over in the American League, Showalter led the unheralded Orioles to their first American League East divisional title since 1997, winning the division by 12 games over the second-place New York Yankees. Baltimore won 96 games this season, despite injuries to key players (Matt Weiters and Manny Machado) and the sub-par season and later suspension for 2013 star Chris Davis.

BBRT’s vote went to Showalter in the AL, but I differed from my BBA peers in the NL, where my top selection was Bruce Bochy of the Giants. Bochy led his squad to an 88-74 record (and Wild Card spot), despite the difficulties facing Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and injuries to Brandon Belt and Angel Pagan.  Counting on youngsters like Joe Panik and Andrew Susac, Bochy San Francisco on track.

The top five in the BBA Connie Mack Award vote:

American League

  1. Buck Showalter, Baltimore
  2. Ned Yost, Kansas City
  3. Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles
  4. Lloyd McClendon, Seattle
  5. Bob Melvin, Oakland

National League

  1. Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh
  2. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco
  3. Matt Williams, Washington
  4. Don Mattingly, Los Angeles
  5. Mike Matheny, St. Louis

For the complete 2014 BBA top manager voting click here.   It may take a second click to reach the article. 

Prior Connie Mack Award winners:

  • 2013: John Farrell, Boston; Clint Hurdle, Pittsburgh
  • 2012: Bob Melvin, Oakland; Davey Johnson, Washington
  • 2011: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay; Kirk Gibson, Arizona
  • 2010: Ron Washington, Texas; Bud Black, San Diego
  • 2009: Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles of Anaheim; Jim Tracy, Colorado

 

BaseballBloggersAlliance-thumb-200x155-12545The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams, as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of the awards voting, the organization consists of 215 blogs spanning most of the 30 major league squads, as well as general baseball writing.

The BBA is organized under a similar structure as the Baseball Writers of America, where blogs that follow the same team are combined into “chapters” and only two votes from the chapter on an award are counted. The blog chapters that are focused on general baseball were allowed two votes as well, which they could use both on the same league or split between the two leagues.

Chapters generally followed one of two methods when casting their ballot.  Either representatives of the chapter were given the ballots for voting or a “group ballot” was posted, accounting for both of their votes.  Notably, though the BBA’s awards come out well before their official counterparts, the BBA selections have matched those of the Baseball Writers of America in many instances over the past five years.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

photos by: & , , ,

More World Series’ Marks to Consider as the 2014 Fall Classic Opens

In my previous post, BBRT looked at some single-game World Series’ records that may be on players’ radar as the 2014 World Series gets under way click here for that post.  As promised, In this post, we’ll look at some overall World Series records.

 

Bobby Richardson - added a surprising bat to a polished glove in the post season.

Bobby Richardson – added a surprising bat to a polished glove in the post season.

We’ll start with the hitting marks.  As BBRT looked at the Fall Classic’s top accomplishments at the plate, one name really jumped out – Yankees’ 2B Bobby Richardson. Richardson drove in a World Series’ record 12 runs in 1960 (seven games).  This is particularly surprising in light of the fact that Richardson drove in only 26 runs in the entire 1960 regular season and never reached 60 RBI in a season in his career. Richardson also showed his post-season mettle in 1964, when the career .266 hitter (with a .267 average in 1964) banged out a record 13 World Series hits (later tied), averaging .406 for the seven games.

Here’s a look at some World Series hitting records.

 

 

Batting Average

Four-Game Series

.750 – Reds’ CF Bill Hatcher (1990, 9-for-12).

Five-Game Series

.529 – Tigers’ 1B/DH Sean Casey (2006, 9-for-17).

Six-Game Series

.688 – Red Sox’ 1B/DH David Ortiz (2013, 11-for-16).

Seven-Game Series

.500 – Cardinals’ CF Pepper Martin (1931, 12-for-24).

.500 – Pirates’ 2B Phil Garner (1979, 12-for-24).

 

Base Hits

Four-Game Series

10 – Yankees’ LF Babe Ruth (1928).

Five-Game Series

9 – by many players, only Phillies’ 3B Frank Baker notched two nine-hit, five-game Series (1910, 1913).

Six-Game Series

12 – Accomplished four times: First by Yankees’ 2B Billy Martin (1953).  Forty years later (1993), two players on the same team tied the six-game Series hits record: Blue Jays’ 2B Roberto Alomar and DH/3B/1B Paul Molitor. In 1996, Braves’ CF Marquis Grissom also enjoyed a six-game, 12-hit World Series.

Seven-Game Series

13 – Three players have managed 13 hits in a seven-game World Series: Yankees 2B Bobby Richardson (1964); Cardinals’ LF Lou Brock (1968); Red Sox’ 2B Marty Barrett (1986).

 

Home Runs

Four-Game Series

4 – Yankees’ 1B Lou Gehrig (1928).

Five-Game Series

3 – Mets’ 1B Donn Clendenon (1969).

Six-Game Series

5 – Yankees’ RF Reggie Jackson (1977); Phillies’ 2B Chase Utley (2009).

Seven-Game Series

4 – Achieved six times. Dodgers’ CF Duke Snider is the only player to reach four homers in a seven-game World Series twice (1952, 1955). Others on this list: Yankees’ LF/RF Babe Ruth (1926); Yankees’ RF Hank Bauer (1958); Athletics’ C/1B Gene Tenace (1972); Giants’ LF Barry Bonds (2002).

 

RBI

Four-Game Series

9 – Yankees’ 1B Lou Gehrig (1928).

Five-Game Series

8 – Athletics’ RF Danny Murphy (1910); Reds’ 1B Lee May (1970).

Six-Game Series

10 – White Sox’ 1B Ted Kluszewski (1959).

Seven-Game Series

12 – Yankees’ 2B Bobby Richardson (1960).

 

Runs Scored

Four-Game Series

9 – Yankees’ RF/LF Babe Ruth (1928); Yankees’ 1B Lou Gehrig (1932).

Five-Game Series

6 – Accomplished eight times.

Six-Game Series

10 – Blue Jays’ DH/1B/3B Paul Molitor (1993); Yankees’ RF Reggie Jackson (1977).

Seven-Game Series

8 – Accomplished eleven times.  Only Yankees’ CF Mickey Mantle had two eight-run, seven-game World Series (1960, 1964).

 

Total Bases

Four-Game Series

22 – Yankees’  RF/LF Babe Ruth (1928).

Five-Game Series

19 – Yankees’ SS Derek Jeter (2000).

Six-Game Series

25 – Yankees’ RF Reggie Jackson (1977).

Seven-Game Series

25 – Pirates’ 1B Willie Stargell  (1979).

 

Walks

Four-Game Series

7 – Giants’ 3B Hank Thompson (1954).

Five-Game Series

7 – Cubs’ LF Jimmy Sheckard (1910); Athletics’ C Mickey Cochrane (1929); Yankees’ 2B Joe Gordon (1941).

Six-Game Series

9 – Yankees’ 2B Willie Randolph (1981).

Seven-Game Series

13 – Giants’ LF Barry Bonds (2002).

A few others records of note: Phillies’ 1B Ryan Howard holds the record for strikeouts in a World Series (of any length), with 13 whiffs in 2009; Pirates’ CF Max Carey holds the World Series’ (any length) record for being hit by pitches at three (1925); and, while the record for triples in a 4-, 5- or 6-game Series is two, two players have hit three triples in a seven-game World Series (Yankees’ 3B Billy Johnson in 1947 and Braves’ 2B Mark Lemke in 1991). Lemke, by the way, did not play in Game One of that 1991 World Series

 

PITCHING RECORDS

The pitching records listed do not include the 1903 best-of-nine World Series between Boston and Pittsburgh (which went eight games).  In that match-up, Pittsburgh’s Deacon Phillipes set records for a World Series of any length in games pitched (5); innings pitched (44); hits allowed (38); and runs allowed (19) – while winning three, losing two and putting up a 2.86 ERA.

http://

As BBRT looked at pitching records, Braves’ right-hander Lew Burdette’s (photo above) numbers (good and bad) stood out.  In the 1957 World Series (against the favored Yankees), Burdette tied the single World Series mark for games won (3) and complete-game shutouts (2) – tossing three complete games and giving up just two runs (for a 0.67 ERA) and one home run.  The very next World Series (1958), against a nearly identical Yankee squad, Burdette set the World Series’ records for runs allowed (17) and home runs allowed (5) – going 1-2, 5.64 in three starts.

 

Here’s a look at a few World Series pitching records.

 

Games Pitched

Four-Game Series

4 – Yankees’ Jeff Nelson (1999); Red Sox’ Keith Foulke (2004).

Five-Game Series

5 – Dodgers’ Mike Marshall (1974).

Six-Game Series

6 – Royals’ Dan Quisenberry (1980).

Seven-Game Series

7 – Athletics’ Darold Knowles (1973).

 

Games Won

Four-Game Series

2 – Many times.

Five-Game Series

3 – Athletics’ Jack Combs (1910); Giants’ Christy Mathewson (1905).

Six-Game Series

3 – White Sox’ Red Faber (1917).

Seven-Game Series

3 – Pirates’ Babe Adams (1909); Indians’ Stan Coveleski (1920); Cardinals’ Harry Brecheen (1946); Braves’ Lew Burdette (1957); Cardinals’ Bob Gibson (1967); Tigers’ Mickey Lolich (1968); Diamondbacks’ Randy Johnson (2001).

 

Innings Pitched

Four-Game Series

18 – Braves’ Dick Rudolph (1914); Yankees’ Waite Hoyt (1928); Yankees’ Red Ruffing (1938); Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax (1963).

Five-Game Series

27 – Giants’ Christy Mathewson (1905); Athletics’ Jack Coombs (1910).

Six-Game Series

27 – Giants’ Christy Mathewson (1911); White Sox’ Red Faber (1917); Cubs’ Hippo Vaughn (1918).

Seven-Game Series

32 – Tigers’ George Mullin (1909).

 

Strikeouts

Four-Game Series

23 – Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax (1963).

Five-Game Series

18 – Giants’ Christy Mathewson (1905).

Six-Game Series

20 – Athletics’ Chief Bender (1911).

Seven-Game Series

35 – Cardinals’ Bob Gibson (1968).

 

Walks

Four-Game Series

8 – Indians’ Bob Lemon (1954).

Five-Game Series

14 – Athletics’ Jack Coombs (1910).

Six-Game Series

11 – Cubs’ Lefty Tyler (1918); Yankees’ Lefty Gomez (1936); Yankees’ Allie Reynolds (1951).

Seven-Game Series

11 – Senators’ Walter Johnson (1924); Yankees’ Bill Bevens (1947).

Other records of note : The record for hit batters in a World Series (any length) is three by the Tigers’ Wild Bill Donovan (1907) and the  Pirates’ Bruce Kison (1971); the Giants’ Christy Mathewson threw a single World Series’ record three complete-game shutouts in 1905 –  pitchers with two complete game shutouts in a single World Series include the Red Sox’ Bill Dineen (1903); Braves’ Lew Burdette (1957); Yankees’ Whitey Ford (1960); Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax (1965); Dodgers’ Orel Hershiser (1988); and Diamondbacks’ Randy Johnson (2001).

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

World Series – Individual Single-Game Records

With the World Series opening tomorrow, BBRT would like to take a look at some of the individual records that the Royals and Giants players may find themselves shooting for - or trying to avoid. We’ll start with World Series single-game hitting records – where, by the way, Albert Pujols holds a least a share of the record for hits, home runs, RBI, runs and total bases.

 

Albert Pujols has a piece of the World Series single-game records for hits, runs, RBI, home runs and total bases.

Albert Pujols has a piece of the World Series single-game records for hits, runs, RBI, home runs and total bases.

Most Hits in a Single World Series Game – Five

There have been only two five-hit games in World Series’ history.  The first was by Milwaukee Brewers’ lead-off  hitter and third baseman Paul Molitor, who hit five singles in six at bats as the Brewers (then in the AL) beat the Cardinals 10-0 on October 12, 1982. Molitor’s five safeties were matched on October 22, 2011, by Cardinals’ 1B Albert Pujols – who also went five-for-six, and slugged three home runs – as the Cardinals blasted the Rangers 16-7.

Most Home Runs in a Single World Series Game – Three

There have been five-three homer World Series games. We’ve already noted Albert Pujols’ three-HR effort (see the above section on most hits in a single World Series game).  The most recent three-homer World Series’ contest was by a player who will be taking the field for the 2014 Fall Classic.  San Francisco 3B Pablo Sandoval popped three round trippers as the Giants topped the Tigers 8-3 in Game One of the 2012 Series (October 24).  “Panda” went 4-4 and homered in the first, third and fifth innings – collecting four RBI. In the 2014 Series, he will have a chance to tie the only player to have two three-homer World Series games – Babe Ruth.  Ruth accomplished the powerful feat on October 6, 1926, as the Yankees beat the Cardinals 10-5. He victimized the Redbirds again on October 10, 1928 in a 7-3 New York win.  The Bambino started in LF in both those games.  The remaining three-homer World Series game belongs to Yankees’ RF Reggie Jackson (October 18, 1977).

Most RBI – Six

Three players have driven in six runs in a single World Series game – and, as you might expect – the Cardinals’ 1B Albert Pujols is one of them.  Pujols collected six RBI in his five-hit/three-homer game of October 22, 2011. The other six-RBI games belong to a pair of Yankees, although not the ones you might expect:  2B Bobby Richardson (October 8, 1960) and DH Hideki Matsui (November 4, 2009).

Most Runs Scored – Four

There have been ten World Series games in which a player has scored four runs – including, of course, that October 22, 2011 Albert Pujols’ game that keeps showing up here.  The others in chronological order: Yankees’ SS Frank Crosetti (October 2, 1926); Yankees’ LF Babe Ruth (October 6, 1926); Yankees’ CF Earl Combs (October 2, 1932); Cardinals’ RF Enos Slaughter (October 10, 1946); Yankees’ RF Reggie Jackson (October 18, 1977);  Twins’ CF Kirby Puckett (October 24, 1987); Athletics’ 3B Carney Lansford (October 27, 1989); Phillies’ CF Lenny Dykstra (October 20, 1993); and Giants’ 2B Jeff Kent (October 24, 2002).

Most Total Bases – 14

Short list here – Albert Pujols – again that October 22, 2011 game in which he collected three home runs and two singles.

Doubles – Four

Another short list. Chicago White Sox 2B Frank Isbell rapped four doubles on October 13, 1906, as the Sox beat the crosstown Cubs 8-6.  No other player has matched his four two-bagger performance.

Triples – two

A half dozen players have logged two triples in a World Series game, most recently on October 24, 1991, when Braves’ 2B Mark Lemke contributed a pair of three-baggers to Atlanta’s 14-5 trouncing of the Twins.  Others with a two-triple World Series game: Pirates’ 3B Tommy Leach (two triples in a four-hit game on October 1, 1903); Boston Americans’ (AL) LF Patsy Dougherty (October 7, 1903); Reds’ PITCHER Dutch Reuther, who also threw a complete game, six-hitter – one run, unearned – on the day he got his two World Series triples (October 1, 1919); Yankees’ 2B Bobby Richardson (October 12, 1960); and Dodgers’ LF Tommy Davis (October 3, 1963).

Most Stolen Bases – Three

Three bases have been stolen in a World Series game four times, by three different players. Pirates’ SS Honus Wagner stole second base three times (in four attempts) in an October 11. 1909, 8-6 WS win over the Tigers; and Dodgers’ CF Willie Davis stole second base three times in a 7-0 win over the Twins on October 11, 1965.  Cardinals’ LF Lou Brock stole second base twice and third base once in an October 12, 1967 Game Seven win over Boston and stole second base three times in an October 5, 1968 win over the Tigers.

Most Strikeouts – Five

Back on October 1, 1932, New York Yankee George Pipgras came to the plate five-times in a World Series game and whiffed on each and every trip. He also, however, was the winning pitcher, giving up four earned runs in New York’s 7-5 win over the Cubs.

Most Walks – Four (Intentional Walks – Three)

This one’s been done a half dozen times, although not since 1979.  Of more interest may be the October 23, 2002 World Series game in which Giants’ LF Barry Bonds was intentionally walked a World Series single-game record three times.

 

World Series Single Game Pitching Records

 

Fewest hits, Fewest Base runners – Zero

http://

Okay, Yankee Don Larsen’s October 8, 1956 perfect game set World Series single-game pitching records that can at best be tied. As a result, much of what is listed here will focus more on futility than accomplishment.

Most Strikeouts – 17

 

On October 2, 1968, the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson whiffed 17 Tigers on his way to a 4-0 win (five hits, one walk).

As an aside, Gibson and the White Sox’ Ed Walsh are the only pitchers to hurl a World Series complete game and strikeout at least one hitter every inning.  (On October 11, 1906, Walsh beat the Cubs 3-0; giving up two hits and one walk, while whiffing 12.

 

Most Hits Allowed – 15

On October 15, 1925, Washington Senators’ great Walter Johnson gave up 15 hits (nine runs, five earned) in a 9-7 complete game loss to the Pirates.

Innings Pitched – 14

Babe Ruth is the only player on both the World Series hitting and pitching single-game record sheet. On October 9, 1916, Ruth – then a southpaw hurler for the Red Sox – pitched a 14-inning complete game, giving up just 6 hits in beating Brooklyn 2-1.

Walks – ten

On October 3, 1947, the Yankees’ Bill Bevens gave up just one hit (8 2/3 innings) in a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers. Bevens, unfortunately, walked a World Series single-game record ten batters (one intentional), and free passes contributed to all the scoring.

Runs Given Up – Ten

Bill “Brickyard” Kennedy gave up a World Series single-game record ten runs on October 7, 1903, as his Pirates lost to the Boston Americans (AL) 11-2. Kennedy was matched up in a scoreless duel with Cy Young through five innings, before giving up six runs – all unearned – on three hits and three errors in the sixth and another four runs (all earned) in the seventh.

Earned Runs Given Up – Eight

Twice hurlers have given up eight earned runs in a World Series game. On October 5, 1928, Grover Cleveland Alexander (16-9, 3.36 in the regular season) lasted only 2 1/3 innings against the Yankees – giving up eight runs on six hits (one home run) and four walks. On November 3, 2001, Yankees’ reliever Jay Witasick came on in the third inning against the Diamondbacks, who already had roughed up starter Andy Pettitte for six runs (on seven hits and two walks) in just two innings. Witasick gave up a record-tying eight earned runs (plus one unearned) in 1 1/3 innings. While he gave up ten hits, Witasick walked none and recorded all four of his outs on strikeouts. Arizona scored 15 runs in the first four innings of a 15-2 win.

So, there’s a look at some World Series single-game records.  Watch for a post on records for a full series in the next day or two.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

photo by:

American Association Rules Change – Is It April Fools Day?

Take your base - it's free!

Take your base – it’s free!

The American Association (independent league) recently announced a new “extra-inning tiebreaker rule” – to go into effect in the 2015 season. The basics of the rule are that, after 10 innings, each half inning will start with the team at bat having a base runner at second base (apparently this rule is already in place in the International Baseball Federation and Can-Am League).  The player placed on second will be the player in the line-up immediately before the scheduled lead-off hitter for that half inning.  If the player starting the inning on second base comes around to score, the tally will count (statistically) as a run for the player and (if appropriate under normal rules) an RBI for the batter who drove him in, but it will NOT count towards the pitcher’s earned-run average.

Maybe BBRT is just too “old school,” but I actually checked to make sure this change wasn’t announced on April first.  This is a short rant, but let me just say, “No-o-o-o!”  (Note: As a fan of the American Association’s Saint Paul Saints. I take a special interest in this rule change.)

photo by:

2014 Post Season – Ya Gotta Love This Game

A basket of memories waiting to be made.

A basket of memories waiting to be made.

The 2014 MLB post-season continues to give fans all-the-more reason(s) to love the national pastime.

Consider, as of this morning (October 13):

  • More than half – eleven of 20 – of 2014’s post-season games thus far have been decided by a single run – and two of the games decided by more than one run were extra-inning contests. (With plenty of action left, the record of thirteen one-run contests in a post-season is easily within reach.)
  • There have been five extra-inning games in the 2014 post-season, with the surprising Kansas City Royals winning in extra frames four times.
  • The Giants and Nationals, in Game 2 of the NLDS, went 18 innings (and a post-season record six hours and 23 minutes), with the Giants capturing a classic 2-1 win on Brandon Belt’s HR in the top of the final frame. The pitching staffs got plenty of post-season experience, with the Nationals using nine hurlers and the Giants eight.
  • 2014’s “winningest” regular season team (98 victories), the Angels, is out of the play-offs, while San Francisco – tied for the fewest wins of any team to make the post-season (88) is still in.  In fact, two of the four teams still standing made it to the playoffs as Wild Cards (Giants and Royals)
  • The two teams with the fewest regular seasons home runs (Royals and Cardinals) are still in the hunt and both have out-homered their opponents (Royals 8-7, Cardinals 11-3).
  • NL Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers – who led all of MLB with 21 wins and a 1.77 ERA in the regular season – went 0-2, with a 7.82 ERA in 12 2/3 post-season innings.
  • The winning run in Game Four of the NLDS (Giants 3-2 over Nats) scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch.
  • In the Giants’ Wild Card play-on game win over the Pirates, San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford hit the first-ever Grand Slam HR by a shortstop in post-season play.
  • In the AL Wild Card game, Kansas City (which led MLB in stolen bases in the regular seasons) had a post-season record seven different players steal a base in a 9-8, twelve-inning win over Oakland. One KC runner was tossed out on an attempted steal – Eric Hosmer on an attempted steal of home.
  • Game One of the ALCS saw the Royals (who had MLB’s most stolen bases and fewest home runs) facing the Orioles (who had MLB’s most home runs, but fewest steals).  The Royals hit the game’s only home runs (three), while the Orioles stole the game’s only bases (two).
  • In Game Two of the NLCS, Giants pinch runner Matt Duffy scored from second base on a wild pitch with two out in the top of the ninth, tying the game at four. A Kolten Wong homer leading off the Cardinals half of the ninth gave St. Louis the win.

For More on Why I Love Baseball click here.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

photo by:

Baseball Bloggers Alliance – 2014 Award Ballot

After each season, members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (an organization of 200+ bloggers dedicated to the national pastime) vote on a series of awards for each league.  Those recognitions include:

  • Willie Mays Award (top rookie)
  • Walter Johnson Award (top starting pitcher)
  • Stan Musial Award (top player)
  • Goose Gossage Award (top relief pitcher)
  • Connie Mack Award (top manager)

BBRT will provide a link to the BBA site once all the winners are announced (later this month).  In this post, I’d like to share BBRT’s votes, as well as some background on my selections and those that were “close” to getting BBRT’s vote.  Your comments on the BBRT selections are welcomed.

 

William Mays Award (top rookie)

 

American League

BBRT vote:  Matt Shoemaker.

Contenders: 2. Jose Abreu   3. Yordano Ventura   4. Masahiro Tanaka

matt-shoemakerThank you Matt Shoemaker – for closing out the year in a way that both: a) prevents me from having to split my AL rookie vote; and b) enables me to vote for a player who more closely fits my personal definition of an MLB “rookie.”

While the smart money may be on Jose Abreu as the AL’s top rookie, BBRT’s vote goes to Angels’ RHP Matt Shoemaker. Undrafted out of college, Shoemaker ran up a 50-42, 4.52 record in seven minor league seasons. He worked his way up to an MLB “cuppa coffee” in 2013 (one game, five scoreless innings), before sticking with the Angels this season.  The 27-year-old, bearded rookie turned in a 16-4 record, with a 3.04 ERA (20 starts, seven relief appearances), with 24 walks and 124 strikeouts in 136 innings. Shoemaker moved passed Abreu on the BBRT ballot thanks to his performance under the pressure of the pennant race.  From August 1 to season’s end, Shoemaker went 8-1, with a 1.66 ERA.

Among the contenders was another 27-year-old – but less traditional – “rookie,” who is a veteran of eight seasons in Cuba (and a former Cuban League MVP). White Sox rookie first baseman Jose Abreu finished in the American League’s top five with a .317 batting average (third-best), 36 homers (third), 107 RBI (fourth), .581 slugging percentage (first), and .383 on-base percentage (fifth).

Additional contenders for BBRT’s vote included:  Kansas City right-handed starter Yordano Ventura, who put together a 14-10, 3.20 season for the play-off Royals and a was key player in the Royals’ drive to the post-season (4-1, 2.41 in six September starts); and a second less traditional rookie, New York right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who joined the Yankees after six seasons as a star in Japan (including a 24-0, 1.24 record in 2013) and finished an injury-interrupted season at 13-5, 2.77 with 151 strikeouts (versus just 21 walks) in 163 1/3 innings.

 

National League

BBRT vote:  Jacob deGrom

Contenders: 2. Ender Inciarte      3. Billy Hamilton

It’s a tougher call, with less spectacular rookie performances to choose from, in the NL.  BBRT’s vote goes to the Mets’ Jacob deGrom. The 26-year-old southpaw – who ran up a 21-11, 3.62 record in four minor league seasons – went 9-6, with a solid 2.69 ERA in 22 MLB starts.  DeGrom also missed a lot of bats, fanning 144 in 140 1/3 innings.

Finishing close, but behind deGrom in BBRT’s ballot considerations were: Arizona outfielder Ender Inciarte, who hit .278 with four home runs, 27 RBI, 54 runs scored and 19 steals (22 attempts) in 118 games; and Reds’ outfielder-speedster Billy Hamilton. Hamilton, who swiped 56 bases and scored 72 runs for the Reds.

 

Walter Johnson Award (top pitcher)

 

American League 

BBRT vote: Phil Hughes

Contenders: 2. Corey Kluber     3. Felix Hernandez

I expect to get some flack here, but my first-place goes to Twins’ righty Phil Hughes Why?  First, Hughes won 16 games for a team that went 70-92. Only three players in the AL won more games than Hughes (they each had 18 victories), and all three (Max Scherzer, Corey Kluber, Jered Weaver) pitched for teams with winning records.  Hughes, who went 16-10, 3.52, also set a new MLB record for strikeouts to walks ratio (11.63) and recorded the fewest walks ever for any hurler to reach 200 innings pitched in a season.  In 209 2/3 innings, Hughes fanned 186, while walking just 16.

The smart money goes on one of BBRT’s contenders – Indians’ righty Corey Kluber (18-9, 2.44).  Kluber was a strikeout machine, finishing with 269 K’s in 235 2/3 innings (just two strikeouts behind AL leader David Price). He also finished among the leaders in ERA (third), complete games (second, tie) and innings pitched (third).  Just behind Kluber, in BBRT’s estimation, was Seattle’s Felix Hernandez, the AL ERA leader at 2.14 (to go with a 15-6 won-lost record and 248 strikeouts in 236 innings pitched).

 

National League

BBRT vote: Clayton Kershaw (duh)

(Distant)  Contenders: 2 (tie). Adam Wainwright     2 (tie). Johnny Cueto

.

.

BBRT’s NL Walter Johnson Award vote goes (of course) to Dodgers’ southpaw Clayton Kershaw.  Not much explanation needed here.  Kershaw missed a month of starts and still led the NL in wins (21 against just 3 losses), ERA (1.77 – his fourth consecutive ERA title) and complete games (6), while also finishing third in strikeouts (239 in 198 1/3 innings).

BBRT sees a runner-up tie between the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and the Reds’ Johnny Cueto.  These two right-handed starters tied for second in wins (both at 20-9), finished two and three (behind Kershaw) in the NL in ERA and complete games, as well as one and two in the NL in innings pitched. In addition, Cueto tied the Nats’ Stephen Strasburg for the NL strikeout title (242), while Wainwright tied for the league lead in shutouts (three).

 

The Stan Musial Award (top player)

Note: In past award announcements, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance has referred to this award as recognizing the top or “premier” player in each league (as opposed to the Most Valuable Player). Makes this vote easier and less controversial.

 

American League

BBRT vote: Mike Trout

Contenders: 2. Jose Altuve     3. Miguel Cabrera

Mike TroutBBRT’s vote for the Stan Musial Award in the AL goes to the Angels’ Mike Trout. Pretty simple. How can you not vote for the player who led the league in runs scored AND runs batted in, while also flashing Gold Glove defensive skills.  Trout, who hit .287, finished in the top five in the AL in runs scored (115, first), RBI (111, first), home runs (36, third), slugging percentage (.561, third), walks (83, fourth) and triples (nine, third). He also added 16 steals in 18 tries. The only concern?  Trout also led the AL in strikeouts with 184.

Running behind Trout in BBRT’s considerations were: the Houston Astros’ five-foot-six second baseman Jose Altuve – like Trout a “plus” fielder, Altuve also was the spark at the top of the Astros’ lineup, leading all of MLB in batting average (.341) and base hits (225), wile also topping the AL in stolen bases; and Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera, with another solid season (.313, average, 25 home runs, 101 runs scored, 109 runs batted in).

 

National League

BBRT vote: Andrew McCutchen

Contender: 2. Giancarlo Stanton

With no one player dominating the statistics, the call on the NL’s premier player is a tough one.  BBRT  casts its vote for Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen (making my Stan Musial Award selections a center field sweep). Like Trout, Mccutchen takes Gold Glove skills into the outfield.  He also combines speed and power, finishing 2014 (146 games) with a .314 average, 25 home runs, 83 RBI and 18 steals (in 21 attempts). McCutchen also led the NL in on base percentage at .410.

Finishing just behind McCutchen is Marlins’right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the NL leader in home runs (37), slugging percentage (.555) and total bases (299). Stanton, who hit .288, also drove in 105 runs (second in the NL) and had the second-best on-base percentage in the league (.395).

 

Goose Gossage Award (top reliever)

 

American League

BBRT Vote: Greg Holland

Contender: 2. Fernando Rodney

BBRT’s vote for the AL Goose Gossage Award goes to the Royals’ Greg Holland, who went 1-3, with 46 saves, a 1.44 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings pitched.

Right behind Holland is the Mariners’ Fernando Rodney, who tallied an MLB-leading 48 saves. Despite the leadership in saves, Rodney was less dominating then Holland, going 1-6, 2.85 with 76 whiffs in 66 1/3 innings.

 

National League

BBRT vote: Craig Kimbrel

Contenders: 2. Kanley Jansen     3. Aroldis Chapman

craig kimbrelIn the NL, BBRT likes Braves’ closer, right-hander Craig Kimbrel, for the Goose Gossage Award. Kimbrel, who led the NL in saves for the fourth-consecutive year,  finished 0-3, 1.61 with 47 saves and 95 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings.  Over the past four seasons, Kimbrel has averaged just over 46 saves per year.

Based on strikeouts, walks and earned run average (always leery of closers with ERA’s over 3.00), others who merited BBRT’s consideration were: the Dodgers’ Kanley Jansen (2-3, 2.76, 44 saves, 101 strikeouts and 19 walks in 65 1/3 innings); and Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman (0-3, 2.00, 36 saves, 106 strikeouts and 24 walks in 54 innings).   There is one more “vote”… an honorable mention, actually … for Colorado closer LaTroy Hawkins, just for the fact that he is still getting the job done (4-3, 3.31, 23 saves in 26 opportunities) at age 41.

 

Connie Mack Award (top manager)

 

American League

BBRT vote:  Buck Showwalter

Contender:  2. Ned Yost

New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles April 23,  2011BBRT sees the AL’s top manager as the Orioles’ Buck Showalter, who brought the Orioles home with a 12-game lead over the second-place Yankees.  Not only were the Orioles not found on too many analysts’ pre-season East Division champion predictions, Showalter had to manage around injuries to key players (Matt Weiters and Manny Machado), as well the sub-par season and later suspension for 2013 star Chris Davis.

BBRT also gave serious consideration to Ned Yost, who brought the Royals back to the post-season after a 29-year absence – despite being the only team in baseball with less than 100 home runs on the season. The Royals won under Yost with defense and speed (the fewest home runs, but the most stolen bases) – a formula that puts additional pressure on the manager (manufacturing runs with singles, steals, the hit-and-run).

 

National League

BBRT vote: Bruce Bochy

Contender:  2. Matt Williams

BBRT’s vote for NL Connie Mack Award goes to Bruce Bochy of the Giants, who led the squad to an 88-74 record (and Wild Card spot), despite the difficulties facing Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum and injuries to Brandon Belt and Angel Pagan.  Counting on youngsters like Joe Panik and Andrew Susac, Bochy kept a winning attitude on the San Francisco team.

Just behind Bochy is Matt Williams of the Nationals, who won 96 games and finished a whopping 17 games ahead of their nemesis (the Braves).  Like Bochy, Williams managed through significant loss of time to injuries (catcher Wilson Ramos, outfielder/face-of-the franchise Bryce Harper and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman).

Keep watching BBRT for the final results of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance balloting.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

photos by: & , ,

BBRT September Wrap – Post-Season Predictions

September’s regular season games are on the books, the races are over and the post season lies ahead.  That means it’s time for BBRT monthly and season-ending wrap up. (You’ll also find BBRT’s post-season predictions along the way.)

 

MVP candidate Mike Trout helped Angels to MLB's best 2014 record.

MVP candidate Mike Trout helped Angels to MLB’s best 2014 record.

Most the MLB playoff teams showed their mettle in September. In the AL, the teams with the top-four September records (Orioles, Tigers, Royals and Angels) were all playoff bound.  The only exception was the A’s, who held on to a Wild Card spot despite September’s AL-worst record. In the NL, the story was much the same, the top-four September records went to the Nationals, Cardinals, Pirates and Dodgers – all headed to the post season.  The Giants, who complete the NL post-season lineup, finished September at 13-12.  Clearly, the teams that make up this year’s slate of post-season contenders are nearly all entering the playoffs with positive momentum.

Here are your playoff teams and a look at September performance (full results with won-lost records for the season and month are listed are the end of this post).

American League

Division Champions: Orioles, Tigers, Angels.  The Orioles continued to roll, putting up the AL’s best September record (17-10, .630 – following a 19-9 August and a 17-8 July), winning the AL East by 12 games. The Tigers won the Central Division title, finishing September with the AL’s second-best record (16-10, .615), topping the Royals by one game in the standings. The Royals tied the AL West champion Angels for the AL’s third-best September record at 15-11, .577.

Wild Cards: Royals, A’s.  The Royals made the playoffs and challenged for the AL Central title, finishing strong by playing .577 ball in September (after sharing August’s MLB-best record with the Orioles at 19-9). The A’s limped into the post-season – capturing the second AL Wild Card spot on the final day of the season, despite an AL- worst record for September (10-16, .385).

National League

Division Champions: Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers. The Nationals had MLB’s best record in September (19-8, .704), lengthening their lead to 17 games over the second-place Braves (who went a dismal 7-18, .280) for the month, dropping to 79-83 and a second-place tie with the Mets. The Cardinals took the Central title with a 17-9, .654 month (tied with the Pirates for the third-best September in the NL). The strong finishes for St. Louis and Pittsburgh, coupled with a late-season slump by the Brewers (9-17 in September), pushed Milwaukee (which led the division most of the season) out of the post-season picture. The Dodgers finished strong, with the NL’s second-best record at 17-8, .680.  Arizona had MLB’s worst record for September (7-19, .269) and for the season (64-98, .395).

Wild Cards: Giants, Pirates. The Giants finished September 13-12 and took the final NL Wild Card spot.

The Early and Late of It

On September 15th, the Angels became the first team to clinch a 2014 play-off spot topping Seattle 8-1.  The win gave the Angels a 94-68, .627 record – one of only two MLB teams playing .600 ball through September 15 (the other was the Baltimore Orioles at 90-60, .600).  The following day, the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles became the first teams to clinch 2014 division titles (the Angels clinched at least a wild card berth the day before, but did not wrap up the AL West title until September 17).

The last team to clinch a post-season berth was the Oakland A’s, who didn’t wrap up their spot until their last game of the season, beating the Rangers 4-0 to keep their one-game lead over the Mariners (who also won, beating the Angels 4-1).

 

Despite a combination pf ppwer arms and power bats, The Tigers were the last team to clinch their division.

Despite a combination of power arms and power bats, The Tigers were the last team to clinch their division.

The last team to clinch their division was the Tigers. On the final day of the season, the Tigers topped the Twins 3-0, to maintain a one-game lead over the Royals, who beat the White Sox 6-4.   The NL Central was nearly as close, with the Cardinals going into the final day with a one-game edge over the Pirates.  The Pirates’ loss was on the books, assuring St. Louis the title, before the Redbirds shut out the Diamondbacks 1-0 to take the Division by two games.

On the Road Again

The Dodger finished with MLB’s best road record at 49-32, followed by the AL’s Royals (47-34.) The Orioles, Angels and Mariners round out the top five road teams, with 46 road wins each.

The Angels ran up the best home record at 52-29, followed by the Nationals, Cardinals and Pirates at 51-30. The Orioles were the only other team with 50 home wins (50-31).

Twenty-one of MLB’s 30 teams had winning records at home (nine in the AL, 12 in the NL); while ten teams had winning road records (seven in the AL, three in the NL).

Uniquely, every team in the NL Central had a winning home record and played below .500 on the road.

Season and September Batting Leaders

Five-foot-six Jose Altuve had MLB's loftiest batting average.

Five-foot-six Jose Altuve had MLB’s loftiest batting average.

Number one on the hit parade this season was Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve, whose 225 hits and .341 average led all of MLB. Over in the NL, Rockies’ 1B Justin Morneau captured the batting crown at .319 (the second ex-Twin in the past two seasons to win the NL title after moving to the Rockies).  The September batting leaders (minimum 50 plate appearances) were Dodgers’ LF Carl Crawford in the NL at .448, 30-for-67) and Indians’ LF Michael Brantley in the AL at .416 (42-for-101). They were the only two hitters to best .400 for the month.

Baltimore DH Nelson Cruz was the only MLB hitter to reach 40 home runs, topping the AL. Over in the senior circuit, Marlins’ RF Giancarlo Stanton (despite missing considerable time) was the league leader with 37 dingers. September’s HR leaders, for the most part, helped propel their teams to the play offs.  Leading all hitters was Dodgers’ LF Matt Kemp with nine September round trippers. Following up with eight were Dodgers’ 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Tigers’ 1B Miguel Cabrera and Yankees’ C Brian McCann.

The Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez was the NL RBI leader for the season at 116 – and also tied teammate Matt Kemp for the highest September total at 25.  In the AL, Angels’ CF Mike Trout led with 111 RBI on the season, with teammate 1B Albert Pujols topping the AL for September with 22 runs driven in.

In the speed department, Dodgers’ 2B Dee Gordon led the NL with 64 swipes (19 caught stealing); while Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve topped the AL with 56 steals in 65 attempts. Two players (one in each league) reached nine steals in September: Phillies’ CF Ben Revere (9-for-12) and Rangers’ CF Leonys Martin (9-for-11).

Pitching Leaders Season and September

Clayton Kershaw - most wins, lowest ERA - missed a month.

Clayton Kershaw – most wins, lowest ERA – missed a month.

Despite missing about a month of the season, Dodgers’ left Clayton Kershaw led all of MLB in victories at 21 (versus 3 losses) and ERA 1.77 (becoming the first pitcher to lead his league in ERA four consecutive years). There were two other 20-game winners, both in the NL, both right-handers and both at 20-9:  the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright and Reds’ Johnny Cueto   Wainwright and Kershaw shared the NL (and MLB) lead in September wins, both running up five wins against no losses. The NL ERA leader for September (at least 20 innings pitched) was Cubs’ right-hander Jake Arrietta, with a 0.95 ERA in four starts.  He was the only MLBer with an ERA under 1.00 for the month.

There was a three-way tie (all right-handers) for most wins in the AL: the Tigers’ Max Scherzer (18-5); Angels’  Jered Weaver (18-9); and Indians’ Corey Kluber (18-9). Seattle righty Felix Hernandez captured the AL ERA crown at 2.14, edging White Sox southpaw Chris Sale (2.17).  For September, Kluber was the only Al pitcher to reach five wins (versus one loss), while the ERA leader for the month was Rangers’ left-hander Derek Holland at 1.46.

Tigers (and Rays) left-hander David Price led MLB in strikeouts with 271 in 248 1/3 innings, holding of the Indians’ Corey Kluber (269 Ks in 235 2/3 innings).  There was a tie for the strikeout crown in the NL, with right-handers Johnny Cueto of the Reds (243 2/3 innings) and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals (215 innings) each reaching 242 K’s.  Kershaw, with seven fewer starts than the two leaders, fanned 239 (198 1/3 innings).

The Mariners’ Fernando Rodney led all closers with 48 saves (three blown saves), while Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel led the NL with 47 saves (four blown saves). The runners-up in each league came from post-season qualifiers: the Royals Greg Holland (46 saves, two blown saves) and the Cardinals’ Trevor Rosenthal (45 saves, six blown saves). The Nationals’ Drew Storen was the only closer to reach 10 saves for the month of September (two blown saves), while Seattle’s Fernando Rodney topped the AL with nine September saves (no blown saves).

The Other Side of Leadership

No hitter struck out more times than Phillies’ 1B Ryan Howard this season (190 K’s in 569 at bats) – to go with a .223-23-95 line. The AL strikeout leader might surprise you – Angels’ star CF Mike Trout (184 K’s in 602 at bats). Even with all those whiffs, Trout hit .287, scored 115 runs, drove in 111, hit 36 homers, swiped 16 bases and is considered an MVP candidate. The September strikeout leader was Cubs’ 2B Javier Baez, who hit .149 for the final month, fanning 46 times in 101 at bats. Again, the AL leader in K’s for September might come as a surprise:  Tigers’ outfielder J.D. Martinez, who fanned 34 times in 96 at bats, but still managed a .354 average for the month.

Nobody walked more hitters than Phillies’ righty A.J. Burnett (96 walks in 213 2/3 IP – but also 190 K’s). The AL leader in free passes was the Angels’ lefty C.J. Wilson (85 walks in 175 2/3 IP). Notably, the two hurlers had similar ERA’s (4.59 for Burnett, 4.51 for Wilson), but Burnett ended the season 8-18, while Wilson won 13 and lost 10.  Burnett’s 18 losses led all of MLB, while the AL loss leader was Rangers’ righty Colby Lewis 10-14,  Eight hurlers lost four games in September, with three teams having two four-game losers: Atlanta’s Mike Minor and Julio Teheran; San Francisco’s Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong; Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo and Jimmy Nelson; Detroit’s Rick Porcello; Miami’s Nathan Eovaldi.

 

Before we look at a few September “tid bits” BBRT found interesting – here’s my post-season predictions.

 

AL Wild Card play-in.  A’s  reverse their September course behind Lester and knock off the Royals.

ALDS:  Angels too strong for A’s.   Tigers edge Orioles.

ALCS: Detroit starting pitching the difference as Tigers move on to World Series.

 

NL Wild Card play-in: Giants over Pirates.

NLDS: Nationals too much for Giants.  Dodgers’ pitching shuts down Cardinals’ offense.

NLCS:  Kershaw/Grienke the difference as Dodgers go to World Series.

 

World Series:  Tigers in seven, good pitching both sides. LA pitches around Miguel Cabrera, but Victor and J.D. Martinez light up Tiger offense.  

 

 A Few September Tid Bits

 Where Have All the Starters Gone?

Jordan Zimmerman put an exclamation point on the Nationals NL-East leading 2014 season, tossing a no-hitter on the season’s final day.  Zimmerman walked just one and struck out ten in the 1-0 victory over the Marlins. The no-hitter was saved by a spectacular leaping catch (with two out in the ninth) by Nats’ LF Steven Souza, Jr., who had come into the game as a defensive replacement for Ryan Zimmerman. In fact, all seven Nationals’ fair-territory fielders when the game ended were defensive replacements – only Zimmerman and catcher Wilson Ramos remained in place from the original lineup. ELIAS indicated this is the first time that has happened in an MLB no-no.

Here are a few other tid bits about the no-hitter:  It was the fifth no-hitter thrown on the final day of an MLB season; the fifth no-hitter of the 2014 season (all in the NL); and the fifth no-hitter in the history of the Expos/Nationals.

Under Control

One September 24, Twins’ hurler Phil Hughes beat the Arizona Diamondback 2-1 in Minneapolis – giving up one run on five hits in eight innings pitched. It gave Hughes a 16-10 record and 3.52 ERA for a Twins team that ended the season 70-92.  In his final start of the 2014 campaign, Hughes did not walk a batter, while striking out five – and that proved significant.  On the season, Hughes pitched 209 2/3 innings (more on that later), striking out 186 versus only 16 walks.  That gave Hughes a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 11.63 on the year – the highest single-season strikeout-to-walk ratio (among pitchers with qualifying innings) in MLB history. Bret Saberhagen had the previous record at 11.00 in 1994. That 209 2/3 innings pitched is also significant.  Hughes needed to log 210 innings to earn a $500,000 bonus (he had already earned bonuses at two previous IP levels, but left the game 1/3 inning short of the next bonus level following a one-hour- plus rain delay).  The Twins did offer Hughes a chance to pitch in relief in the final days of the season, but he declined, indicating it was more important to protect his health for 2015.  And, no whining, either.  Class act!

A Walk-Off Walk-Off

Derek Jeter - had to inclede a picture of the captain.

Derek Jeter – had to inclede a picture of the captain.

One September 25, Derek Jeter played his last game in Yankee Stadium – and he put a typical Jeter touch on his final at bat there – hitting a game-winning, walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth (giving New York a 6-5 win).

Eight Straight and Then the Pitcher

On September 15, New York Mets’ rookie Jacob deGrom got off to a blazing start – striking out the first eight Miami Marlins he faced and tying the MLB modern-day record for strikeouts to start a game.  Ironically, the string of whiffs was broken on a base hit by the opposing pitcher Jarred Cosart – just another reason I don’t like the DH.  DeGrom went seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits, while striking out one and fanning thirteen.

For the Tie and the Win

On September 8, the Chicago White Sox were down to their last strike, trailing the Oakland A’s 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and a 2-2 count on C Tyler Flowers.  Flowers, however, delivered a home run down the left field line, sending the game into extra innings.  Flowers was not done yet. In his next at bat, in the bottom of the twelfth inning, he hit the first pitch to him from reliever Jesse Chavez for a walk-off, game-winning round tripper.

The Hit (By Pitch) Parade

On September 12, Marlins’ right fielder Giancarlo Stanton was leading the NL in home runs (37) and RBI (105), when he came to the plate in the top of the fifth inning (facing Brewers’ right-handed pitcher Mike Fiers) with two outs and runners on the corners.  On an 0-1 count, Fiers threw an 88- mile-per-hour fastball that ran up and in as Stanton turned toward the pitch.  The pitch struck Stanton below the left eye, resulting in a bloody laceration, multiple fractures and dental damage.

First-base umpire D.J. Reyburn ruled that Stanton was swinging at the pitch, so – after Stanton was carried from the field  – pinch hitter Reed Johnson came to the plate with an 0-2 count.  That’s when things got even more intense – and strange.  Fiers first pitch to Johnson hit him on the right hand and the umpires again ruled that the hitter (Johnson) was swinging – resulting in a strikeout (logged against Stanton’s record).  The benches cleared, warnings were issued and a couple of ejections (Marlins’ Manager Mike Redmond and 3B Casey McGehee) ensued.  Meanwhile, what looked on the surface like a pair of hit batsman went into the record books as a strikeout for Fiers.

In the sixth inning, tempers remained hot and Marlins’ acting manager Rob Leary and pitcher Anthony DeSclafini were ejected after DeSclafani hit the Brewers’ Carlos Gomez with a pitch (left elbow).

September 12 turned out to be a pretty “wild” day on the mound and in the batters’ box across major league baseball – with 15 hit batsmen in 11 games (and, remember, Stanton and Johnson did not go in the books as “hit by pitch”). Here’s a little wrap up of the HBPs for the day:

  • Carlos Gomez hit by Anthony Desclafini after the Stanton injury.
  • The Mets’ Bartolo Colon hit the Nationals’ Ian Desmond (the first batter after Colon gave up a first-inning home run to Adam LaRoche. Then, in the fourth inning, Colon hit Jayson Werth with a pitch after giving up a home run to Anthony Rendon.  (Colon and Mets’ manager Terry Collins were ejected.) In the eighth inning, the Nationals’ Matt Thornton hit the Mets’ Daniel Murphy.
  • The Rangers’ Nick Martinez hit Mike Trout with pitches in the third and fifth innings of   the Angels 7-3 win in Texas. Angels’ reliever Joe Smith hit the Rangers’ Tomas Telis with a pitch to lead off the  bottom of the ninth, resulting in a warning to both benches.
  • The Royals’ Liam Hendriks hit the Red Sox’ Yoenis Cespedes in the top of third inning of Boston’s 6-3 win. The Red Sox’ Clay Buchholz hit Royals’ outfielder Josh Willingham in the back leading off the sixth inning of the same game.
  • The Rays’ Brad Boxberger hit the Yankees’ Derek Jeter on the elbow in the eighth inning of the Rays’ 5-4 loss to NY. In the ninth, the Rays’ Jake McGee hit Yankee 3B Chase Headley.
  • The Indians’ T.J. House hit the Twins’ 2B Brian Dozier in the top of the sixth inning of the Indians’ 2-0 win in the second game of a double header.
  • The Reds’ Johnny Cueto plunked the Cardinals’ Jon Jay in the top of the first in the Reds’ 1-0 home win.
  • The Giants’ Javier Lopez hit the Diamondbacks’ Cliff Pennington in the top of the eighth, as SF topped Arizona 6-2.
  • The Phillies’ A.J. Burnett hit the Pirates’ Stirling Marte in the second inning of the Pirates 4-1 victory.

 Thanks, Dad

On September 14, Giants’ manager (and former major league catcher) Bruce Bochy became the first manager to call in his own son from the bullpen.  It came in the sixth inning, and Bochy showed no favoritism to his son Brett – bringing him in for his major league debut with the bases loaded.  Brett, who ran up a record of 14-8,with a 3.03 ERA in four minor league seasons, walked in a run before logging the final out of the inning, and then allowed a two-run home run to Scott Van Slyke (also the son of a former major leaguer – Andy Van Slyke) in the seventh.  The first-place Dodgers trounced Bochy’s second-place Giants 17-0.

Whiff City

The Cleveland Indians’ pitching staff missed a lot of bats this season, fanning an MLB record 1,450 hitters– helping MLB pitchers set a season strikeout record of 37,441.

Hmm?

The Saint Louis Cardinals’ pitching staff led all of baseball with 23 shutouts in 2014 – yet their league-leading complete game total was just eight. Tampa Bay which had an AL leading 22 shutouts, had only three complete games.  #HowTheGameHasChanged

Some other team leaders.

Batting Average: AL – Tigers .277          NL – Rockies .276

Runs Scored:  AL – Angels 773            NL Rockies 755

HRs: AL – Orioles 211            NL – Rockies 186

Stolen Bases: AL – Royals 153             NL – Dodgers 138

ERA: AL – Mariners 3.17            NL – Nationals 3.03

 

 Final Standings and September Records

 

TEAM                W        L          PCT     GB       (Sept/)

AL East

Baltimore          96        66        .593                 (17-10)

NY Yankees      84        78        .519     12.0     (14-13)

Toronto              83        79        .512     13.0     (14-12)

Tampa Bay       77        85        .475     19.0     (11-14)

Boston               71        91        .438     25.0     (11-15)

AL Central

Detroit              90        72         .556                (16-10)

Kansas City      89        73        .549     1.0       (15-11)

Cleveland         85        77        .525     5.0       (14-13)

Chicago WS     73        89        .451     17.0     (11-14)

Minnesota        70        92        .432     20.0     (11-14)

AL West

LA Angels        98        64        .605                 (15-11)

Oakland           88        74        .543     10.0     (10-16)

Seattle              87        75        .537     11.0     (14-13)

Houston           70        92        .432     28.0     (11-13)

Texas               67        95        .414     31.0     (14-12)

 

NL East

Washington      96        66        .593                 (19-9)

Atlanta             79        83        .488     17.0     (7-18)

NY Mets          79       83        .488      17.0     (15-10)

Miami               77        85        .475     19.0     (11-16)

Philadelphia     73        89        .451     23.0     (11-15)

NL Central

St. Louis           90        72        .556                 (17-9)

Pittsburgh        88        74        .543      2.0       (17-9)

Milwaukee         82        80        .506     8.0       (9-17)

Cincinnati          76        86        .469     14.0     (10-15)

Chicago Cubs    73        89        .451     17.0     (12-13)

NL West

LA Dodgers      94        68        .580                 (17-8)

San Francisco  88        74        .543      6.0     (13-12)

San Diego        77        85        .475      17.0      (13-14)

Colorado          66        96        .407      28.0     (12-13)

Arizona            64        98        .395      30.0     (7-19)

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

photos by: & , , ,

Ed Reulbach Day – How the Game has Changed

On this date (September 26) in 1908, Chicago Cubs’ right-handed hurler Ed Reulbach did something that is (and, undoubtedly will remain) unique in MLB history.  On that date, Reulbach (known for his high-kicking delivery and sharp-breaking curveball) started both games of a double header (versus Brooklyn) for the Cubs.  And, starting both games of a double header is not what’s unique – it’s been done more often than you’d think and as recently as 1973.  There’s also been an instance of both teams starting the same pitcher in both games of a double bill and a major league hurler who started both ends of a double header three times in one month.  More on all of that later, let’s get back to Ed Reulbach. It is, after all, his day.

Reulbach won both games of that September 26, 1908 doubleheader and – as was expected at the time – went the distance in both contests.  But that still is not what makes Reulbach’s afternoon of work unique.  In MLB history, 35 different pitchers have accounted for two complete game victories in one day a total of 40 times.  Note: If you count only instances in which both games went at least nine innings, the total drops to 34 pitchers and 30 occasions.

Ed Reulbach - two shutouts in one day.

Ed Reulbach – two shutouts in one day.

What makes Reulbach’s accomplishment unique is that he is the only MLB pitcher to throw two complete game SHUTOUTS on the same day. The Cubs were involved in a heated pennant race and the pitching staff was reportedly growing arm weary.  So, Cubs’ player-manager Frank Chance called on Reulbach to toe the rubber in both ends of a double header against the Brooklyn Superbas (Dodgers). Reulbach responded by shutting down the Brooklyn squad 5-0 in game one and 3-0 in game two – giving up just eight hits in 18 innings on the day.  The extra work didn’t seem to bother the right-hander, as he came back after four days rest to shut out the Reds in his next start.  Just how critical were Reulbach’s two September 26 wins? The Cubs won the 1908 pennant with a 99-55 record – one game ahead of both the Pirates and the Giants.

Reulbach’s accomplishment should not have been a surprise.  “Big Ed” was on the way to a 24-7, 2.03 season in which he would lead the NL in winning percentage for the third consecutive year.  Reulbach’s final major league tally, over 13 seasons, was 182 wins, 106 losses and a 2.28 ERA. His MLB accomplishments also include a 17-game winning streak, a 44-inning scoreless streak and a World Series one-hitter (1906).

Now, a few other facts about pitchers who started both ends of a double bill.

Knuckleballer Wilbur Wood was the last pitcher to start both ends of a twin bill – although (unlike with Reulbach) that was not the original plan. On July 20, 1973, Wood started the first game of a double header for the White Sox (against the Yankees).  He got off to a good start, whiffing Yankee lead-off hitter 2B Horace Clarke on a wicked knuckler. Unfortunately, the pitch also fooled catcher Ed Hermann and Clarke reached first on a passed ball – which proved the highlight of Wood’s game.  In order, he followed up with: a walk to RF Matty Alou; a two-run double to LF Ron White; a run-scoring single to CF Bobby Murcer; an RBI single to catcher Thurmon Munson; a run-scoring single to 3B Graig Nettles; and an early exit in an eventual 12-2 loss. Given Wood’s short stint on the mound (reported at less than 30 pitches) and the lack of stress placed on a knuckleballer’s arm, Sox manager Chuck Tanner sent Wood back to the mound to start game two. The results were marginally better.  Wood lasted 4 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits and five runs, earning his second loss of the day as the Yankees triumphed 7-0.  Workhorse Wood, by the way, ended the 1973 season with 24 wins and 20 losses, the last American Leaguer to win and lose 20 games in the same season (Phil Niekro did it in the NL in 1979).

Joe McGinnity started, and completed, both end of a double header three times in a single  month- and won all six games.

Joe McGinnity started, and completed, both end of a double header three times in a single month- and won all six games.

Then there is Joe McGinnity, who started both ends of a double header a record five times in his career, and three times in a single month.  Notably, in August 1903, McGinnity not only started both ends of a double header three times, he also won all six games and completed all six.

Pitching for the New York Giants, on August 1, 1903, McGinnity won the first game of a double header against the Braves 4-1 and came back to win the second game 5-2. Just a week later (August 8), he repeated the feat, beating Brooklyn by scores of 6-1 and 4-3. Then on August 31, he topped the Phillies 4-1 and 9-2.  McGinnity finished the season 31-20, 2.43 and recorded 246 wins, 142 losses and a 2.66 ERA in ten MLB seasons, during which he led the NL in wins five times.

Then there is Bob Newsom, who started both ends of a double header four times (1934, 1937, 1938, 1945) for three different teams (Browns, Red Sox, Athletics) in his 20-year MLB career. (Newsom went 211-222, 3.98 for nine teams from 1929-53. He was a four-time All Star and a three-time 20-game winner, as well as a three-time twenty-game loser.)

The Newsom double-header/double-start that attracted my attention came on September 14, 1934 – mostly for the total between-game turnaround by Newsom.  Pitching for the St. Louis Browns, Newsom started the first game of a double header against the Athletics – and walked the first four hitters before being pulled.  Brooklyn Manager Rogers Hornsby (for some reason) sent Newsom back out to start game two.  This time, he totally reversed his fortunes, striking out the first four hitters and picking up a complete game 5-2 win.  Newsom’s other instances of starting both ends of a double header were more traditional – and resulted in two wins and three losses.

When the Braves and Phillies faced off in a double header on August 12, 1921, they collaborated to make MLB history – with both teams sending the same starting pitcher to the mound in both games for the only time ever.  George Smith was the Phillies’ double-starter, while Jack Scott did the same for the Braves. Scott was the losing hurler in both games, while Smith tossed a 12-hit shutout to win game two.  (Both pitchers were knocked out of game one by the third inning, Scott taking the loss, Smith getting a no-decision.) Smith, by the way, was on course for a 4-20, 4.76 season, while Scott would finish the year 15-13, 3.70.  Both hurlers had career records under .500.

To end, here are a few other hurlers who started both ends of a doubleheader: Cy Young, Old Hoss Radbourn, Grover Alexander, Babe Ruth, Don Newcombe, and Rube Waddell – as well as Hippo Vaughn, Mule Watson and Happy Finneran.

 

With that, let me just say – Happy Ed Reulbach Day.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

photos by: &

“Courtesy” Runners, Fielders and Hitters – How the Game Has Changed

Those BBRT readers who play softball – particularly if you play in a senior (over-60) league like I do – are pretty familiar with the concept of a “courtesy” runner, fielder or even hitter.  You may not be aware, however, that it wasn’t so long ago (well, at least it was in my lifetime) that courtesy players were allowed in the major leagues.  The last “legal” courtesy player (more on that distinction later) was deployed in 1949.  Following that season, MLB instituted rule 3.04:

“A player whose name is on his team’s batting order may not become a substitute runner for another member of his team.  

Rule 3.04 Comment: This rule is intended to eliminate the practice of using so-called courtesy runners. No player in the game shall be permitted to act as a courtesy runner for a teammate. No player who has been in the game and has been taken out for a substitute shall return as a courtesy runner. Any player not in the lineup, if used as a runner, shall be considered as a substitute player.”

In this post, BBRT would like to take a look at a few instances involving courtesy players – as well as circumstances surrounding those situations how they reflect changes in the way the national pastime is played.

Jim Hegan - last legal courtesy player.

Jim Hegan – last legal courtesy player.

The last legal use of a courtesy player came on July 2, 1949.  With one out, in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Saint Louis Browns (there’s a change right there) were leading the Cleveland Indians 4-0, when Indians’ SS Ray Boone was hit by a pitch and unable to continue. Indians’ manager Lou Boudreau (who also started the game at 3B for the Tribe – a player-manager, there’s another change) brought in Jim Hegan (who had started the game – and was still in – at catcher) as a courtesy runner for Boone. Boudreau needed the permission of Browns’ manager Zach Taylor to make the switch, which is why the slow-footed Hegan was used.  Note: Given the need for approval from the opposing manager, courtesy players – particularly runners – were often chosen from among the less fleet-footed players available.  Hegan scored on a sacrifice fly as the Indians closed the gap to 4-2. Since the courtesy substitution came in the bottom of the ninth, neither Hegan nor Boone returned to their position.  Note: Most instances (more than half) of courtesy players, particularly runners, have followed a hit by pitch – although base running injuries (spikings, sprains, collisions) and to a lesser extent equipment changes (damaged shoes) have also contributed.

The previous use of a courtesy player (July 2, 1949) also involved Boudreau’s Indians and, while it is less significant (not being the last legal use), it does serve to illustrate more about how the game has changed. Instead of the ninth inning, this switch came in the first.  This time, the Indians were playing the Red Sox in Boston.  Sox starter Joe Dobson got into trouble quickly: single by SS Ray Boone; walk to LF Allie Clark; double by 3B Ken Keltner (bringing home Boone); intentional walk to CF Larry Doby (loading the bases); Grand Slam by 2B Joe Gordon.  The next batter (here’s another of those changes), as was the often and accepted practice following a home run, was hit by a pitch.  That hitter was player-manager Lou Boudreau (starting at 1B that day).  Keltner, who had batted earlier in the inning, came in as a courtesy runner for Boudreau and scored (here’s another change, at least for AL fans) on a hit by Indians’ starting pitcher Bob Feller.  When the Indians took the field in the bottom of the inning Keltner was at third base and Boudreau back at first.

These two examples represent the final two “legal” uses of courtesy players.  On August 10, 1952, Pittsburgh fans witnessed the illegal use of a courtesy fielder.  It came in game two of a double header against the visiting Cubs.  In the top of the ninth of a 4-3 game (Cubs leading), Pirates’ catcher Clyde McCullough was injured.  The Pirates, however, had used their two remaining catchers as pinch hitters – Ed Fitz Gerald in the sixth inning and Joe Garagiola in the eighth. Cubs’ manager Phil Caverretta (a player-manager, by the way) agreed to let Pirates’ skipper Billy Meyer bring Fitz Gerald in to catch. The umpires mistakenly allowed the switch, which was was no longer legal under rule 3.04.

heffnerCourtesy fielders are much less common than courtesy runners in MLB history. The last documented legal courtesy fielder came into play on July 24, 1934.  It happened in the bottom of first inning in a game between the Bronx Bombers and the Saint Louis Browns.  Yankees’ 2B Tony Lazzeri got something in his eye and had to leave the field to have it attended to.  Don Heffner came off the bench to replace Lazzeri and finish the inning at second base.  Lazzeri’s spot in the batting order came up in the top of the second and he took his turn at the plate and then returned to second base in the bottom of the inning.

Even rarer are courtesy batters.  The only documented occasion being on July 12, 1915 in a game between the Senators and White Sox (in Chicago). With one out in the top of the third and the White Sox up 3-2, Senators’ 1B Chick Gandil wrenched his knee swinging at a pitch and could not continue the at bat.  Sox manager Pants Rowland (don’t hear nicknames like that anymore) agreed to let Senators’ manager Clark Griffith bring in Rip Williams to finish the plate appearance (Williams grounded out).  Gandil’s knee was popped back into place in the dugout and he took his position at first base in the bottom of the inning – finishing the game one-for-three, with a double, run scored and RBI.

Note:  The information used here was obtained free of charge from and is copyrighted by Retrosheet.  Interested parties may contact Retrosheet at www.retrosheet.org

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT