Post-Season Trivia – The Only Player to Play His Entire MLB Career in the Post Season

The  2017 post season continues to provide some exciting – if at times less than crisply played – baseball. Here at Baseball Roundtable, we are celebrating the post season with some related history and trivia. Here’s the latest question.

POST SEASON TRIVIA

Who is the only player to play his entire major league career in the post season?

Okay, most of you probably remember Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez, called up by the Angels in September of 2002 – who collected five post-season victories (including a World Series win) before recording his first regular-season decision. Rodriguez, who would go on to record 437 saves in 16 MLB seasons (including an MLB-record 62 saves in 2008), pitched in five September 2002 games, fanning 13 hitters in 5 2/3 innings. That post-season he picked up two wins in the AL Division Series; two wins in the AL Championship Series; and a win and a loss in the World Series – again, all before his first regular-season decision.

Then, there is Royals’ 2B Raul Mondesi, who (in 2015) became the second player to make his MLB debut in the World Series.  Mondesi got in 72 games for the Royals in 2016-17.   And, of course (Who could forget?) outfielder Bug Holliday, who made his MLB debut in the 1885 version of the Fall Classic – as his National League Chicago White Stockings (Cubs) took on the American Association Saint Louis Browns.  (Holliday went on to a MLB career that carried into 1898.)

KigerThere is one other player who made his major league debut in the post season (the American League Championship Series). In doing so, this infielder earned a spot in baseball trivia lore, as he became (and remains to date) the only player whose entire MLB career was played in the post season. On this date (October 13) 2006, Mark Kiger made his MLB debut as a defensive replacement (2B) for the Oakland A’s in Game Three of the American League Championship Series (versus Detroit).  Kiger (who had spent the 2006 season at Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento) had been added to Oakland’s post-season roster after regular 2B Mark Ellis was injured during the American League Division Series (against Minnesota). Ellis had played 124 regular season games that season – starting 121 at second base.

The A’s had started D’Angelo Jimenez (a .183 hitter in 28 games that season) at the keystone sack in each of the first three games of the series. In Game Three – already down two-games to none and trailing 3-0 in the game – the A’s pinch-hit Bobby Kielty for Jimenez in the top of the eighth inning. Kiger made his first major league appearance as a defensive replacement at 2B in the bottom of the inning and handled one fielding chance (a 6-4 force out to end the inning). Jimenez was back in the line-up at second base in Game Four and the situation played out again. Facing elimination – and with the game tied 3-3 in the top of the ninth – Kielty again pinch hit for Jimenez, with Kiger coming in at second base in the bottom of the inning. The Tigers won the game – and the Championship Series – on a three-run Magglio Ordonez’ homer in the bottom of the ninth (Kiger had no fielding chances).  With that, the A’s season and Kiger’s MLB career were over.

The A’s released Kiger in December of 2006 and he signed with the Mets’ organization about a month later. Between 2007 and his final professional season (2009), he spent time in both the Mets’ and Mariners’ organizations, but did not make it back to the major leagues.

A few notes on Kiger:  He played collegiate baseball for the University of Florida Gators, where he put up a stat line of .314-8-57 in 2000 and .314-2-31 in 2001. Then, in his senior season, Kiger hit .403, with 11 home runs, 55 RBI and 11 steals in 65 games.  He was drafted by the A’s in the fifth round of the 2002 MLB Draft. Kiger played for nine teams over eight minor league seasons – compiling a .264 average with 47 home runs, 331 RBI and 66 stolen bases over 878 games.  The year he was called up to the A’s, he had hit a combined .276-9-34 (with 11 steals) at Double A and Triple A.  His best minor league campaign was, arguably, in 2007, when he hit .297-11-52 in a combined 128 games at Double-A and Triple-A.

Primary Resources: Baseball-Reference.com; FloridaGators.com.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Aaron Judge – the King of Swing – and some New York World Series Trivia

NEW YORK WORLD SERIES TRIVIA

Which New York center fielder – and future Hall of Famer – hit the first World Series home run in the original Yankee Stadium?

With the Yankees advancing to the AL Championship Series, I thought I’d focus this post on New York and the post season.  Particularly, Aaron Judge.  (And, of course, the trivia question at the top of this post – which will be answered later.)

Aaron Judge photo

Photo by Keith Allison

First, let me make it clear, this is not Judge bashing.  The fact is, Judge is a true baseball “basher” and without his MLB rookie-record 52 home runs (particularly those 15 September blasts), the Bronx Bombers would not have found themselves in the playoffs. His .284-52-114 season – with a league-leading 128 runs scored and 127 walks – will certainly earn him AL Rookie of the Year honors and maybe even MVP.

Still, Judge has established himself (at least for 2017) as the King of Swing, This season Judge not only set a new rookie record for home runs, but also set a new rookie mark for strikeouts with 208 whiffs.  Along the way, Judge also set a new record (for positions players) for consecutive games with at least one strikeout (37) – tying the overall mark belonging to pitcher Bill Stoneman.

Then, during the just-ended five-game AL Division Series against the Indians, Judge set a new record for whiffs in a post-season series with 16 – breaking the old mark of 13 (held by a handful of players; more on that later). In the series (won by the New York club three-games to two), Judge had 20 at bats, with just one hit – .050 average), four walks and, of course, the 16 strikeouts.  Of those 16 K’s, seven were looking and nine were swinging. Overall, in the five-game series, Judge was “credited” with 13 runners left on base.  Judge fanned six times on full-count offerings; seven times on a 2-2 pitches; twice on 1-2; and once on 0-2.

Wondering about the overall single-season post-season strikeout record?  That belongs to another Yankee – Alfonso Soriano.  In the 2003 post-season, Soriano played in 17 games (16-for-71) and fanned 26 times (six in the four-game ALDS; 11 in the seven-game ALCS and nine in the six-game World Series.

Now, for those who are interested in the previous record holders for strikeouts in a single post-season series (don’t worry, we’ll get to that trivia question), here they are:

—Sixteen K’s on the Big Stage—

Ryan Howard, Phillies, 2009 World Series

The mark of 13 strikeouts in a single post-season series was first reached by Phillie’ slugging 1B Ryan Howard. It came in the 2009 World Series, which the Phillies dropped to the Yankees four-games to two. In the six games, Howard went 4-for-23 (.174), with two walks, one home run, three RBI – and, of course, 13 strikeouts. On the season, Howard had gone .279-45-141 in 160 games.

 

 

 

—The 2013 AL Division Series – Two 13-strikeout “Performances”—

Austin Jackson, Tigers, 2013 ALDS

Tigers’ CF Austin Jackson picked up 20 at bats in the 2013 ALDS (won by Detroit three-games to two) – fanning 13 times, while getting two hits (.100 average), one walk and one RBI.  On the season, Jackson had gone .279-12-49 in 129 games.

Brandon Moss, A’s, 2013 ALDS

Sitting in the opposite dugout from Austin Jackson was A’s 1B/DH Brandon Moss – who matched Jackson whiff-for-whiff. In five games, Moss collected 18 at bats, two hits (.111 average) one home run, one RBI and three walks.  On the season, Moss went .256-30-87 in 145 games.

—Another World Series with 13 K’s—

Javier Baez, Cubs, 2016 World Series

As the Cubs beat the Indians four-games to three in 2016 World Series. 2B Javier had 30 at bats and five hits (.167 average) to go with one home run, one RBI and his 13 strikeouts. On the season, Baez went .273-23-75 in 145 games.

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Okay, now to that trivia question.

What New York center fielder – and future Hall of Famer –  hit the first World Series home run in the original Yankee Stadium?  

On October 10, 1923 New York Giants’ center fielder Casey Stengel hit the first-ever post-season home run in the original Yankee Stadium (and the first-ever nationally broadcast World Series home run) – with a ninth-inning, game-winning, inside-the-park round tripper that  gave the Giants a 5-4 win over the Yanks. Note: Stengel was in his 12th MLB season and had hit .339 in 75 games for the Giants during the regular campaign.

For my generation, the slightly eccentric Charles Dillon Stengel, whom we knew as “The Old Professor” (Okay, “slightly” eccentric is an understatement.), is forever linked to the Fall Classic.

StengelStengel made his World Series’ (and HOF) reputation as a manager – leading the New York Yankees to ten American League pennants and seven World Series Championships – with all that success coming in a span of 12 seasons (1949-60). The seven World Series titles ties Yankee skipper Joe McCarthy for the most by any manager – and Stengel is the only manager to capture five consecutive World Series titles (1949-53). Notably,  Stengel was let go by the Yankees after managing the Bronx Bombers to the 1960 AL pennant, but losing the World Series in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The WS loss came despite the Yankees outscoring the Pirates 55-27 over the seven games. For the full story of the exciting 1960 Fall Classic, click here.

 

 

I’ll never make the mistake of turning 70 again.

The 70-year-old Casey Stengel’s comment after being released by the Yankees after managing the team to the 1960 AL pennant and a seven-game loss in the World Series.  As a 70-year-old myself, I find this quote a bit close to home.

It should be noted that Stengel’s 12-season run of success with the Yankees was sandwiched in the middle of a 25-season managerial career (Dodgers, Bees/Braves, Yankees, Mets – in that order). Stengel’s overall managerial record was 1,905-1,842, and he had only one winning season outside that 12-year Yankee stretch (77-75 with the 1938 Boston Bees).

What is sometimes lost when considering Stengel’s MLB career is his record as a player – and those years also had World Series implications. Stengel played in three Fall Classics – hitting .393 with two home runs and four RBI in 12 games. In his final World Series as a player – with his New York Giants facing the Yankees – Stengel hit .417 (five-for-12 with four walks and no strikeouts), with two home runs, three runs scored and four RBI in six games. He led the Giants (who lost the Series four-games to two) in batting average, runs scored (tied) home runs and RBI. (The rest of the Giants’ squad hit .222 versus the Bombers’ pitching._

In 14 seasons as an MLB outfielder, Stengel hit .284with 60 home runs, 535 RBI and 131 stolen bases in 1,277 games. His best season was 1914, when Stengel hit .316 (led the NL in on-base percentage at .404), hit four home runs, drove in 60 and stole 19 bases.

Primary sources:  MLB.com; Baseball-Reference.com; Society for American Baseball Research.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE SEPTEMBER WRAP UP – PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

The regular season is over and the focus is rightly on the playoffs – but, for BBRT, there is still a look back – the monthly wrap for September.  And September was a big month, featuring everything from the Indians 26-4 won-loss record (including October 1); the toppling of both the AL and NL rookie home run records (Aaron Judge/Cody Bellinger); one qualifying .400+ hitter for the month (J.D. Martinez);  the fifth player in MLB history to play all nine positions in a single game (Andrew Romine); an MLB record-tying four-homer game (J.D. Martinez, again); a new member welcomed to the 300-K club (Chris Sale).  Details on all of this in this post – along with BBRT’s predictions for the playoffs.

SEPTEMBER – A VERY TRIBAL MONTH

You can’t talk about September without leading off with the Cleveland Indians. No team was hotter, going 25-4 (and then tacking on an October 1 win). They did it by giving up the fewest September runs (67) in all of baseball, while scoring the second-most runs (164). Who led the way? How about an ERA of 2.17 for the month, with three starting pitchers that won five game each and all recorded ERA’s under 1.50 for the month: Corey Kluber (5-0, 0.84); Mike Clevenger (5-1, 0.99); Carlos Carrasco (5-0, 1.48).  Only the Yankees outscore the Indians in September (168-164) – as the tribe put up MLB’s highest team average (.283) and the fourth-most home runs (44). The offense was led by 3B Jose Ramirez (.393-9-21); DH Edwin Encarnacion (.320-7-29). and SS Francisco Lindor (..292-8-23).

Other teams with at least twenty wins since September 1 were the Astros (21-8) and Yankees (20-9). Over in the NL, the top winner over that period was the Cubs’ squad at 19-10.  All  of these teams are going into the playoff with positive momentum.

On the other side of the coin, the Tigers went 6-24 from September 1 to season’s end – and for those who like to explore the causes, the Bengal’s September ERA was 6.62 (the next worst in MLB was the Rangers at 5.79). The only other squad with less tha ten September/October 1 victories was the Orioles at 7-21.  While the Tigers’ gave  up the most runs in September, the Orioles downfall was offense. No team scored fewer runs in September than Baltimore, with only  83 tallies.  It was quite a let down for the Orioles, who scored MLB’s third-most runs in August (175).

Notably, MLB finished the 2017 season with three teams topping 100 victories – Dodgers (104-58); Indians (102-60); Astros (101-62) – just the sixth season in MLB history to see three teams top the century mark.  Another “100-related” development saw the Twins become the first team to lose 100 games one season (103 losses last year) and make the post-season the following year.

Normally, this is where BBRT would list current Division and Wild Card leaders.  Since we are at season’s end, I’ll instead share my views on the playoffs.  As usual, the full standings and last month’s team-by-team won-lost records are provided near the end of this post.

BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS (GUESSES)

—-NATIONAL LEAGUE—

WILD CARD

Diamondbacks top Rockies … Have to go with Zack Greinke over Jon Gray – and J.D. Martinez and Paul Goldschmidt should provide all the offense Greinke needs. Also, Greinke is 13-1 at home this season …  hard to go against that home field advantage (particularly when the Rockies are away from Coors).  Still, the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado should make this interesting. Greinke, I believe, will be the difference maker.

NLDS

Dodgers top Diamondbacks … Despite a September slump (and a losing 2017 record versus the Snakes), BBRT expects LA to prevail in a well-fought series. Two good offenses (slight edge D-backs), but I like Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Yu Darvish over Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray and Zack Godley – particularly since Greinke will be used in the Wild Card game.  Strikeout-artist Robbie Ray, however, could make a difference in this one. If he can fan double-digit Dodgers in each of two starts, the Diamodbacks could surprise, but I’ll stay with the Dodgers.

Nationals top Cubs … A pretty even matchup.  Offensively, the Cubs scored 822 runs this season, just three more than the Nationals. On the mound, the Nationals put up a 3.88 ERA to the Cubs’ 3.95.  I give the Nationals the edge on the mound, with starters Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasuburg and Gio Gonzalez all posting ERA’s under 3.00,  versus the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta (3.53), Kyle Hendricks (3.03) and Jon Lester (4.33). Before the trading deadline, the bullpen would have been the Nationals’ weak point, but they added some quality arms and it’s now a strength.  There is, however, a wild card (no pun intended) at play here – health concerns regarding the Nationals’  Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper. If those two are not able to play up to their standards, the Cubs could advance.  I’ll stick with the fellows from D.C., however.

NLCS

Dodgers over Nationals … I still like the Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Yu Darvish combination – plus Alex Wood  for long relief or a needed start.  Just a slight edge to the Dodgers’ there. Two good bullpens face off; call it a stalemate.  Admittedly, Nationals’ offense is superior to the Dodgers, but at this point in the post-season, pitching depth is key.  I also expect Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger to step up.  Give me the California boys.  (Side note:  Kershaw may be the difference-maker.  He has to stop a potent Washington attack – Daniel Murphy, Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon – for the Dodgers to win. it’s his time.)

—AMERICAN LEAGUE—

WILD CARD

Twins over Yankees …  (Okay, so I’m a “homer,” I like my Twins chances behind veteran Ervin Santana versus 23-year-old fireballer Luis Servino). Plus, the Twins should be real loose – few expect them to win; the pressure’s on the Bronx Bombers. Also very few of these Twins have suffered through the post-season eliminations that have been dealt to the Minnesota franchise by the New Yorkers.  In a three-game set, I’d go with the Yankees, but one game, heads-up, I’m gonna stick with (and hope for) the boys from Minnesota. (Besides, I have my ALDS ducats and want to use them.) I look for Santana to be up for a big-game start – and Byron Buxton and Brian Dozier to energize the Twins’ offense.  The Twins will miss power-hitter Miguel Sano, who does not look ready for MLB pitching yet, but they did make their Wild Card run with Sano on the DL.  (Side note:  Keys for the Twins may be to get to Servino early – the back half of the NY bullpen is lights out – and to consistently pitch around Aaron Judge.)

ALDS

Indians over Twins … The Indians’ behind Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco are just too tough.  Surprisingly, on offense the Tribe (led by Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and Edwin Encarnacion) only outscored the Twins (led by Brian Dozier, Eddie Rosario and Joe Mauer) by three runs (818-815) over the course of the season.  The Indians have a notable edge in starting pitching and the pen – an MLB-lowest team ERA of 3.30 to the Twins’ 4.59.  The Twins were the first team to come from 100 losses to make it to the post season; but the Tribe just has too much on offense and the mound.  They earned their 102 wins – and they’ll earn a move to the next round.

Astros over Red Sox … Didn’t think I’d be saying this, but Justin Verlander may make the difference in a close series here. He’s looking like the pitcher Houston needed to add to Dallas Keuchel to make their vaunted – MLB-best – offense pay off.  The Astros led all of MLB in batting average, runs scored, doubles, base hits, on-base and slugging percentage – and were second to the Yankees in home runs. The Red Sox can counter with Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz on the mound (I’d still take the Verlander/Keuchel combination at the one-two spots), but I don’t see the Boston offense (led by Mookie Betts, Andrew Benitendi and Mitch Moreland) putting enough runs on the board to match the Jose Altuve-, Carlos Correa-, George Springer-led Astros.  Consider, Houston had five players with at least 80 RBI, Boston had two.  Where’s Big Papi when you need him? My vote goes to the Astros.

ALCS

Indians over Astros … Two 100-win squads facing off – not much to choose from.  I just think the Tribe pitchers have a better chance of shutting down the Astros hitters than vice-versa.

—-WORLD SERIES—-

Indians over Dodgers …Finally, the Dodgers meet a team that can match them pitch-for-pitch (pitcher-for-pitcher). Couple that with a bit of an offensive edge for the Indians – and I like the Tribe. We could easily see a new record for total strikeouts in this Series.  I see some low-scoring games – and Francisco Lindor and CoreyKluber sharing the World Series MVP Award.

A final observation before we look at the BBRT September Players/Pitchers of the Month. MLB baseball just finished up a season that had a lot of trotting and sulking – trotting around the bases after a home run and sulking back to the dugout after a strikeout.

  • During the course of the season, MLB hitters smashed 6,105 home runs   – that’s 495 more than a year ago and 411 more than the previous season record (5,693) – set back in 2000 (the steroid-era).
  • MLB pitchers fanned 40,104 batters – the tenth consecutive season in which the record for K’s has fallen. What was the record when the streak began?  In 2008, MLB set a new season strikeout mark at 32,884 (breaking the 2001 mark of 32,404). We’re now more than 7,000 past that number.   

 

BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE PLAYERS/PITCHERS OF THE MONTH

AL PLAYER OF THE MONTH – Aaron Judge, Yankees

aARON jUDGE photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Aaron Judge, the Yankees’ big (6’7” – 282-pound) rookie RF came back from a tough August (.185 average, with just three home runs) to record his best month of the 2017 season.  Judge put up a .311 average for September and led the AL in home runs (15), RBI (32) and runs scored (29).  And while he struck out 32 times, he also walked a league-topping 28. His performance gave him the AL’s best numbers in on-base percentage (.463) and slugging percentage (.889). A truly dominating performance.  Judge’s big September enabled him to set a new MLB record for home runs by a rookie (52).  He finished at .284, with an AL-leading 52 home runs.  He drove in 114 and scored an AL-leading 128.

Also in the running, but well behind “Da Judge,” were Tigers’ 3B Nick Castellano (.368-7-25) and Indians’ DH Edwin Encarnacion (.320-7-29).

AL PITCHER OF THE MONTH – Corey Kluber, Indians

We had a bit of a race here, but Indians’ righty Corey Kluber edged out the competition.  Kluber was one of four AL pitchers to pick up five wins AND notch an ERA under 1.50 for the month.  Kluber was 5-1, with the league’s lowest ERA (0.84) and second-most strikeouts (50 to teammate Carlos Carrasco’s 51) – and Kluber walked only three batters in 43 innings. Kluber finished the season at 18-4, 2.25.

Other deserving AL moundsmen included: Carlos Carrasco, Indians (5-0, 1.48); another Indian, Mike Clevenger (5-1, 0.99); and former Tiger, now Astro, Justin Verlander (5-0, 1.06).

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NL PLAYER OF THE MONTH – J.D. Martinez, Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks’ RF J.D. Martinez, who came over from the Tigers in July, tore up the NL in September. Martinez led all of MLB with a .404 average, 16 home runs and 36 RBI for the month. Those numbers included an MLB record-tying four-homer game on September 4.  Martinez finished the season (Tigers/D-backs) at .303-45-104. 

Also on BBRT’s radar (but as in the Aaron Judge case, far off the pace for Player of the Month) were Nationals’ 1B Ryan Zimmerman (.329-7-20) and Rockies’ 3B Nolan Arenado, who went .333-7-19 and continued to provide Gold Glove Defense at the hot corner.

NL PITCHER OF THE MONTH – Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

Stephen Strasburg photo

Photo by dbking

Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg had a solid September, going 4-0, with a 0.83 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings. His was the lowest ERA among NL pitchers with at least 20 innings in September, his wins were second only to the Cubs’ Jon Lester (5-1, 4.18) and the 40 strikeouts tied for third.  Strasburg finished the regular season at 15-4, 2.52.

Also in the running were: the Diamondback’s Robbie Ray, who led the NL in September strikeouts (47 in 30 innings), while going 4-0, 2.40 and the Dodgers’ Rich Hill (3-2, 1.86 with 40 whiffs in 29 innings).

 

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NOW SOME STATS AND A LOOK AT SOME INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES FROM SEPTEMBER

——TEAM BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER——

RUNS SCORED (MLB Average – 127)

NL: Marlins -151; Cubs – 146; D-backs – 143

AL: Yankees – 168; Indians  & Twins – 164

AVERAGE (MLB Average – .253)

NL:  Marlins – .279; Rockies – .270; Mets – .269

AL: Indians – .283; Royals – .279; Yankees – .273

DODGERS’ SEPTEMBER SLIDE

The Dodgers – despite finishing the season with an MLB-high 104 wins –  showed some weakness in September – with an MLB-low batting average of .223 for the month (and a 13-17 record since September 1). The Orioles were at the bottom of the AL at .224.

HOME RUNS (MLB Average – 33)

NL: D-backs – 42; Dodgers & Cardinals – 35

AL:  Yankees – 50; Mariners – 48; A’s – 46

JUST A TAD MORE PUNCH, PLEASE

The Pirates and Giants were the only teams with fewer than 25 round trippers in September, at 22 and 23, respectively.

STOLEN BASES (MLB Average – 14)

NL: Brewers -21; Mets -20; Cardinals & Marlins – 19

AL: White Sox – 22; Angels – 21; Yankees – 19

 STATION-TO-STATION

Five teams swiped fewer than ten bases in September:  The Orioles (3); A’s (4); Giants and Phillies (6); Blue Jays (7). The Royals haD the worst success rate (50 percent – 13 steals in 26 attempts); while the Yankees were the only team to reach 90 percent, with 19 steals in 21 attempts (90.5 percent).

 WALKS (MLB average – 90)

NL: Cubs -119; Brewers – 115; Cardinals – 113

AL: Yankees – 110; Indians – 103; A’s – 97

SWINGING AWAY

Nobody fanned more times in September than Rangers’ hitters – 277 whiffs. The Padres topped the NL at 269 (the MLB average for the month was 231). Only three teams recorded fewer than 200 batters’ strikeouts in September: Royals – 174; Indians – 180; Astros – 181.

—–TEAM PITCHING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER——

EARNED RUN AVERAGE (MLB average – 4.36)

NL: Pirates – 3.48; Nationals – 3.57; Brewers – 3.62

AL: Indians – 2.17; Yankees – 3.38; Blue Jays – 3.66

SIX RUNS A GAME – OUCH!

The Tigers had MLB’s worst September ERA at 6.62 – the only team at 6+. Five additional teams were over 5.00: Rangers – 5.79; Mets – 5.76; Marlins – 5.60; Orioles – 5.22; Padres – 5.22.

FEWEST RUNS ALLOWED (MLB average – 127)

NL: Pirates – 94; Brewers – 101; Nationals -104

AL: Indians – 67; Yankees – 98; Red Sox – 111

STRIKEOUTS (MLB Average – 231)

NL: Dodgers – 291; Cubs – 264; Nationals – 258

AL: Red Sox – 296; Yankees – 293; Indians – 288

FATTENING UP THE OLD AVERAGES

Opponents hit .313 against Tiger pitching in September.

SAVES (MLB average – 6)

NL: Nationals – 10; Philies – 9; Brewers – 8

AL: Royals – 11; Indians – 10; Astros – 10

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NOW SOME INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES TO CONSIDER.

Rookie HR Records Erased … Can You Spell That Without Any R’s?

Aaron Judge photo

Photo by Keith Allison

We saw the rookie-season AL and NL records both go by the wayside this September. On Monday, September 25, as the Yankees swamped the Royals 11-3 in New York, 25-year-old Yankee rookie Aaron Judge blasted his 49th and 50th home runs of the 2017 season – eclipsing the old rookie home run mark of 49, set by Oakland A’s Mark McGwire thirty years ago. (McGwire went .289-49-118 that season.) The 6’7”, 282-pound right fielder went two-for-four in the game, collecting three RBI (bringing his season total to 108.)  BBRT has talked about the increasing incidence of either trotting around the bases (home runs) or trotting right back to the dugout (strikeouts) in the national pastime – and Judge’s spectacular rookie season reflects that. At the time of his 50th 2017 round tripper, he also had an MLB-leading 203 strikeouts, making him the first MLB player to hit at least 50 home runs and fan at least 200 times in a season. Judge finished the season hitting  .284, with a league-leading 52 home runs and 128 RBI. He also led the league in walks (127) and strikeouts (208).  (Aaron seems a pretty good first name for a home run champ, don’t you think?) Side note: In three minor-league seasons, Judge reached 20 home runs in only one campaign – and hit 56 round trippers in 348 minor league contests.

Dodgers’ 22-year-old rookie 1B/OF Cody Bellinger’s timing was just a little bit off.  He picked “The Year of the Judge” to break the NL rookie season HR record, bashing his 39th of the season on September 22 – as his Dodgers faced the rival Giants in LA. The record of 38 had been shared by the Braves’ Wally Berger (1930) and Reds’ Frank Robinson (1956). Bellinger went one-for-three, with three RBI in the 4-2 Dodger win. At games end, his stat line was .274-39-94.  Bellinger finished the season at .267-39-97.

J.D. Martinez – a FOUR-midable Per-FOUR-mance

Four is a good number for the Diamondbacks’ J.D. Martinez.  On September FOURth, Martinez became the second player to hit FOUR home runs in a game this season (the Reds’ Scooter Gennett did it on June 6) and only the 18th player in MLB history to accomplish that feat. Martinez got off to a slow start – striking out in his first at bat (second inning).  He went  on to hit a two-run homer off the Dodgers’ Rich Hill in the FOURth; a solo shot off Pedro Baez in the seventh; a solo homer off Josh Fields in the eighth; and a two-run home run off Wilmer Font in the ninth – joining the Dodgers’ Gil Hodges (1950) and Braves’ Joe Adcock (1954) as the only players to hit FOUR home runs off FOUR different pitchers in one game.   (Oh yes, and the D-backs won 13-0, with Martinez driving in six.) Martinez was traded from the rebuilding Tigers to the D-backs in mid-July for a trio of prospects.  It turned out to be a pretty good deal for Arizona.  In 57 games for Detroit, Martinez hit .305, with 16 home runs and 39 RBI.  In 62 games with the D-backs, he went  .302-29-65.

Got A Little Time on Your Hands?

On Monday, September 4 – that would be Labor Day – A’s and Angels’ pitchers got in plenty of work. In a game that took 11 innings and four hours and 38 minutes, fans got to see 20 runs (Angels won 11-9), 30 hits and nine walks.  They also got to sit through 18 pitching changes – with 20 total pitchers used: 12 by the Angels and eight by the A’s. As always, for those who are interested in such things, the record for pitchers used in a game is 24 – in a September 15, 2015, 5-4, 16-inning Rockies’ win over the Dodgers in LA; a night game that started at 7.10 p.m. Tuesday and ended after 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.  Thanks to September rosters, not only were 24 pitches used, but a record 58 total players appeared in the contest. What is surprising is that after six innings, each team had used just one pitcher. The game featured eleven pinch hitters and three pinch runners.

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

Jose Ramirez Indians photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On September 3, Indians’ 2B Jose Ramirez tied a an MLB record – with a little help from his “friends” – by collecting five extra-base hits in a single game. As the Indians topped the Tigers 11-1 in Detroit, Ramirez collected two home runs and three doubles.  A couple of interesting tidbits about those homers: 1) Ramirez hit one from each side of the plate (the third time he accomplished that this year); 2) Both home runs were assisted by outfielders (hand/glove) before falling in for four-base hits.

His first home run, in the opening inning, was to left, where Tigers’ LF Mike Mahtook was ready to play the ball off the wall. Ramirez’ smash hit the top of the wall and bounced twice before rebounding toward the field. Mahtook jumped up, attempting to snag the ball with his bare hand – and managed to bump/bounce the horsehide over the fence.  Then in the sixth inning, Ramirez hit a long line drive to right field, where Tigers’ RF Alex Presley jumped to make the catch, only to have the ball bounce off his glove, into the stands and back onto the field for another home run.  Ramirez ended the day five-for-five, with three runs scored and five driven in. The big day made Ramirez just the 13th player to record five extra-base hits in a game.

Hey, Mikey Likes It!

While the Royals still don’t have a 40-HR season by any player in team history, they came close this season, as 3B Mike Moustakas rapped 38 round trippers, topping Steve Balboni’s previous Royals’ record of 36, set in 1985. Moustakas finished the season at .272-38-85. He, at one time, looked like a pretty safe bet to reach 40, but poled only three home runs in September/October.

Touch ‘Em all Andrew Romine

Photo by GabboT

Photo by GabboT

On the final day of September, outgoing Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus gave Tigers’ utlity player supreme Andrew Romine a chance to play his way into the MLB record books. As Detroit topped Minnesota 3-2, Romine became just the fifth player in MLB history to play all nine positions in a single game.  Romine was a well-deserving candidate for this achievement. Going into the game, his 2017 season had included: one game at pitcher; 21 games at 1B; 25 games at 2B; 22 game at 3B; nine games at SS; 17 games in LF; 23 games in CF; 10 games in RF.  Notably, the last player to play all nine positions in one game was also a Tiger suiting up against the Twins (Shane Halter – October 1, 2000). Others in the nine-position club: Bert Campaneris – Athletics – September 8, 1965); Cesar Tovar – Twins – September 22, 2968; Scott Sheldon – Rangers – September 6, 2000).

2017 – It’s All About the Long Ball

On September 12, the Twins used the long ball to power a 16-0 drubbing of the Padres in Minnesota.  The Twins’ home runs went like this:

First Inning – Brian Dozier (solo)

Second Inning – Jorge Polanco (two-run)

Third Inning – Jason Castro (two-run)

Fourth Inning – Eddie Rosario (two-run)

Fifth Inning – Jason Castro (solo)

Sixth Inning – Eduardo Escobar (solo)

Seventh Inning – Kennys Vargas (three-run)

The outburst made the Twins the first MLB team to homer in each of  the first seven innings of a game.

Yes, We Do Keep Track of Everything In Baseball

BBRT has long maintained we do keep track of everything in baseball. For example, in Game Three of the 1964 World Series, Yankee starter Jim Bouton – small cap, forceful follow-through – lost his hat a well-documented 37 times, a World Series record.  Oh. by the way, Bouton got the win – a complete game, six-hitter in which he gave up only one unearned run, as the Yankees triumphed 2-1.

Francisco lindor photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Now to 2017. On September 20, the Indians’ exciting young shortstop Francisco Lindor rapped his 31st home run of the season – setting a new record for most home runs in a season by a switch-hitting shortstop.  Previously Jimmy Rollins (Phillies, 2007) and Jose Valentin (White Sox, 2004) shared their record at 30.  Lindor extended the record, going .273-33-89 on the season.

 

 

Three-for-One

On September 8, the Tigers turned their first triple play since 2001 – as part of a 5-4 win over the Blue Jays.  It came in the sixth inning. With Kendrys Morales on first, Justin Smoak on second, one run already in, no outs and the speedy Kevin Pillar at the plate, Detroit’s 4-1 lead looked to be in jeopardy. According to Tigers’ 3B Jeimer Candelario, veteran 2B Ian Kinsler told him to “… be ready for the triple play” before the ball was hit. Pillar scorched a ball down the third base line to Candelario, who corralled it, stepped on the bag and threw to Kinsler covering second. Kinsler then relayed the ball to Efren Navarro at first to beat Pillar and complete the triple killing.  If you are interested in such things, the Society for American Baseball Research documents 716 triple plays in MLB history – seven in 2017.  The record for triple plays in a season is 19 (in 1890).  Post-1900, eleven is the top mark (1924, 1929, 1979).  The most triple plays turned by a team in a season is three (eleven times, most recently the 2016 White Sox).

The Minnesota Twins are the only team to turn two triple plays in a single game – a pair of around-the-horn (5-4-3 … Gary Gaetti to Al Newman to Kent Hrbek) triple killings in a 1-0 loss to the Red Sox  July 17, 1990.

Setting Sale for the 300-Club

Chris sale Red Sox photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On September 20, starter Chris Sale went eight innings for the Red Sox, as they topped the Orioles 9-0 in Baltimore. In the process Sale fanned 13 Orioles, making him just the 39th MLB pitcher overall and 16th since 1900 to reach the 300 mark in a season.  For the full story and more on 300+ strikeout seasons, click here.  Sale, by the way, finished the campaign with 308 strikeouts in 214 1/3 innings pitched.

 

 

 

Indians Run the Table

If it had been a game of billiards, the Indians would have run the table. The Indians did not lose a game in September until the 15th – capping a 22-game winning streak that stretched back to August 24. A few tidbits from the incredible run:

  • The Indians outscored their opponents 142-37 during the streak – a 4.8-run average margin of victory.
  • The Indians’ hit .306 during the streak, while the Tribe’s pitching staff put up a 1.58 ERA over the 22 contests.
  • During the streak, the Indians hit 41 home runs – four more than the TOTAL RUNS scored by the opposition.
  • It was the longest-ever winning streak in AL history (beating Oakland’s 20-gamer in 2002) – second longest in MLB history (the 1916 Giants had a 26-game unbeaten streak, which included a tie).
  • Their 15-0 start to September tied the record for the best start in any month in MLB history (June 1991 – Twins and September 1977 – Royals).

See Ball – Hit Ball

On September 19, Rockies’ CF Charlie Blackmon became the first player to reach 200 hits during the 2017 season – and it was just TWO much.  He reached two-hundred with a two-out, two-run, two-base hit in inning number two of the Rockies’ 4-3 loss to the Giants.  Blackmon ended the season with a line of .331-37-104 – and 213 hits.  He won the batting title and led the league in hits, triples (14) and runs scored (137). Other MLBers collecting 200 or more hits this season include: Jose Altuve, Astros – 204; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 201; Ender Inciarte, Braves – 201.

Riding the Cycle to Victory

On September 9, White Sox’ 1B Jose Abreu added a little excitement to an otherwise dismal White Sox season.  He was the catalyst in a 13-1 White Sox win over the Giants. Not only did Abreu go four-for-five with three runs and three RBI, he also hit for the cycle. He got the home run out of the way in the first inning (a solo shot); added a double in the bottom of the third; struck out in the fifth; singled in the seventh; and slashed a two-run triple in the eighth. It was just the sixth cycle in White Sox’ franchise history. Only the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rays, Marlins, Padres have fewer than six cycles – with the Marlins the only team to never record a batter’s cycle.

______________________________________________________________________________

STAT TIME

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS FOR SEPTEMBER

—-BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER—–

AVERAGE (minimum 50 at bats)

NL:  J.D. Martinez, D-backs – .404; Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies – .377; Joe Panik, Giants – .375

AL: Jose Ramirez, Indians – .393; Josh Reddick, Astros – .391; Nick Costellanos, Tigers – .368

REVERSE ORDER

The lowest batting average for a player with at least 50 at bats in September was .118 – Matt Wieters of the Nationals (6-for-51). In the AL, that dubious spot on the BA list went to Guillermo Heredia of the Mariners at .143 (10-for-70).

HOME RUNS

NL: J.D. Martinez, D-backs – 16; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 8; Domingo Santana, Brewers – 8

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 15; Matt Olson, A’s – 13; Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays – 10

RBI

NL: J.D. Martinez, D-backs – 36; Rhys Hoskins, Phillies -23; three with 22

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 32; Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 29; three with 25

RUNS SCORED

NL: J.D. Martinez, D-backs – 26; Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies – 22; three with 20

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 29; Brian Dozier, Twins – 28; Jose Altuve, Astros & Francisco Lindor, Indians – 23

STOLEN BASES

NL:  Dee Gordon, Marlins – 12; four with eight

AL:  Tim Anderson, White Sox – 9; Whit Merrifield, Royals 8; Mike Trout, Angels – 7

GOTCHA!

The Royals’ Whit Merrifield swiped eight bases in September, but he was caught an MLB-high  six times. Tim Anderson of the White Sox had the highest number of September steals without getting caught at nine.

WALKS

NL:  Rhys Hoskins, Phillies – 23; Joey Votto, Reds – 21; Neil Walker, Brewers – 21

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 28; Mike Trout, Angels – 21; Jed Lawrie, A’s – 18

A SWING AND A MISS

Nobody fanned more in September than the Rangers’ Joey Gallo (39 in 91 at bats). Trevor Story of the Rockies led the NL with 34 whiffs (107 at bats).

—–PITCHING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER—–

WINS

NL:  Jon Lester, Cubs – 5-1, 4.18.; five with four wins

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 5-0, 0.84; Justin Verlander, Astros – 5-0, 1.06; Carlos Carrasco, Indians – 5-0, 1.48; Mike Clevinger, Indians – 5-1, 0.99

ERA (Minimum 25 September innings)

NL:  Stephen Strasburg, Nationals – 0.83; Rich Hill, Dodgers – 1.86; Kyle Hendricks, Cubs – 2.01

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 0.84; Mike Clevinger, Indians – 0.99; Jake Ordozzi, Rays – 1.03.

OUCH!

The worst ERA among pitchers with at least four starts or 15 innings pitched in August went to the  Padres’ Travis Wood at 13.80 (1-3 in four starts).

STRIKEOUTS

NL: Robbie Ray, D-backs – 47 (30 IP); Aaron Nola, Pirates – 43 (30 1/3 IP); Gerrit Cole, Pirates – 42 (36 IP)

AL: Carlos Carrasco, Indians – 51 (42 2/3 IP); Corey Kluber, Indians – 50 (43 IP); Chris Sale, Red Sox 44 (29 IP)

SAVES

NL:  Hector Neris, Phillies – 9; Sean Doolittle, Nationals & Corey Knebel, Brewers – 8

AL: Alex Colome, Rays; Cody Allen, Indians & Ken Giles, Astros – 7

THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY

Brad Zeigler had a tough September for the Marlins. In six appearances, he tossed five innings – to a 7.20 ERA. He recorded one save, two losses and an MLB-leading three blown saves for the month.

Among starters, the Orioles’ Wade Miley and Rays’ Chris Archer each lost an MLB-high five games in September. Miley was 0-5, 9.74, while Archer was 1-5, 7.48. 

_____________________________________________________________________

Now, let’s look at the full year. 

2017FINAL

—–YEAR-END TEAM STATS—–

—TEAM BATTING – FULL YEAR—

RUNS SCORED (MLB average – 753)

NL: Rockies – 824; Cubs – 822; Nationals – 819

AL: Astros – 896; Yankees – 858; Indians -818

SHORT END OF THE STICK

The Padres scored the fewest runs in all of baseball in 2017 (604). The Blue Jays finished at the bottom of the AL (693).

AVERAGE (MLB average – .255)

NL: Rockies – .273; Marlins – .267; Nationals – .266

AL: Astros – .282; Indians -.263; Yankees – .262

HOME RUNS (MLB average – 204)

NL: Brewers & Mets – 224; Cubs – 223

AL: Yankees – 241; Astros – 238; Rangers -237

McCOVEY COVE – NOT SO MUCH!

The Giants were the only team to hit fewer than 150 home runs in 2017 (128).

STOLEN BASES (MLB average – 84)

NL: Brewers – 128; Reds – 120; Nationals – 108

AL: Angels – 136; Rangers – 113; Red Sox – 106

STICKING CLOSE TO THE BAG

The Orioles swiped the fewest bags in 2017 at 32 – the only team under 50. The Rockies had the lowest success rate at 63.4 percent (59 steals in 93 attempts).

The Yankees had the best success rate – 80.4 percent (90-for-112) – the only team to reach the 80-percent mark.

BATTERS’ STRIKEOUTS (MLB average – 1,337)

NL: Brewers – 1,571; Padres – 1,499; Diamondbacks – 1,456

AL: Rays – 1,538; Rangers – 1,493; A’s – 1,491

MAKING CONTACT

The Astros (who led MLB in average and base hits) made contact most often – fanning an MLB-low 1,087 times.  The Indians, were the second-lowest at 1,153. The Braves fanned the fewest times in the NL at 1,184.

—-TEAM PITCHING – FULL YEAR—

EARNED RUN AVERAGE (MLB average – 4.35)

NL: Dodgers – 3.38; D-backs – 3.66; Nationals – 3.88

AL: Indians – 3.30; Red Sox – 3.70; Yankees – 3.72

HOW ABOUT THOSE SPLITS?

The Dodgers and Indians led their leagues in starters ERA – 3.39 and 3.52, respectively. The Orioles were at the bottom of the AL at 5.70, while the Reds held up the rest of the NL at 5.55.

Bullpen ERA leaders were the Indians in the AL  (2.89) and, of course, the Dodgers in the NL (3.38). Worst bullpen ERAs?  Tigers (5.63) and Mets (4.82). 

COMPLETE GAMES (MLB average – 2)

NL: Nationals, Cardinals, Giants – 3

AL: Indians – 7; Twins – 6; Red Sox – 5

FINISHING TOUCHES?

The White Sox, Braves and Rays combined for zero complete games. 

STRIKEOUTS (MLB average – 1,337)

NL: Dodgers – 1,549; D-backs – 1,482; Nationals – 1,457

AL: Indians – 1,614; Astros – 1,593; Red Sox – 1,580

HOW ABOUT THOSE INDIANS?

Cleveland hurlers not only led all of MLB in strikeouts, they also gave up the fewest walks (406 – compared to an MLB average of 528). 

SAVES (MLB average – 39)

NL: Brewers – 54; Dodgers – 51; Rockies – 47

AL: Rays – 53; Blue Jays and Astros – 45

______________________________________________

—-CLOSING IN ON THE END – INDIVIDUAL FULL YEAR LEADERS—-

—BATTING LEADERS—

AVERAGE

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – .331; Daniel Murphy, Nationals  & Justin Turner, Dodgers – .322

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros – .346; Avasail Garcia, White Sox – .330; two at .318

BASE HITS

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 213; Dee Gordon, Marlins & Ender Inciarte, Braves – 201

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros – 204; Eric Hosmer, Royals – 192; Elvis Andrus, Rangers – 191

GOING FOR THREE

Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies led all of MLB with 14 triples (he had 14 steals). The Reds’ Billy Hamilton was second with 11 triples (he had 59 steals).  The only other player with double-digit triples was the Tigers’ Nick Costellanos with 10 (just four steals in nine attempts).

RUNS SCORED

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 137; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 123; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 117

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 128; Jose Altuve & George Springer, Astros – 112

HOME RUNS

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins -59; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers – 39; three with 37

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 52; Khris Davis, A’s – 43; Joey Gallo, Rangers – 41

THE OLD SWITCHEROO

J.D. Martinez had the third-most home runs in MLB at 45, but did not make the league leader boards.  He hit 16 for the Tigers and switched leagues (trade) to hit  29 for the Diamondbacks. 

RBI

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 132; Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 130; Marcell Ozuna, Marlins – 124

AL: Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 119; Aaron Judge, Yankees – 114; Khris Davis, A’s – 110

YOUR KINGS OF SWING

The Yankees’ Aaron Judge led MLB in strikeouts with 208 – the only player to reach 200 in 2017 (also one of just two to reach 50 home runs). Trevor Story of the Rockies led the NL with 191 whiffs. 

STOLEN BASES

NL: Dee Gordon, Marlins – 60; Billy Hamilton, Reds – 59; Trea Turner, Nationals – 46

AL: Whit Merrifield, Royals – 34; Cameron Maybin, Angels/Astros – 33; Jose Altuve, Astros – 32

TWO FOR THE ROAD

Leading their leagues in grounding into double plays were: Albert Pujols, Angels – 26; Matt Kemp, Braves – 25. 

—-PITCHING LEADERS – FULL YEAR —- 

EARNED RUN AVERAGE

NL: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 2.31; Max Scherzer, Nationals – 2.52; Stephen Strasburg, Nationals – 2.52

AL: Corey Kluber, Indians – 2.25; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 2.90; Luis Severino, Yankees – 2.98

WINS

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 18-4, 2.31; Zack Greinke, D-backs – 17-7, 3.20; Zach Davies, Brewers – 17-9, 3.90

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 18-4, 2.25; Carlos Carrasco, Indians – 18-6, 3.29; Jason Vargas, Royals – 18-11, 4.16

AN “L” OF A SEASON

The Red Sox’ Rick Porcello led MLB in 2017 losses – going 11-17, 4.65. 

STRIKEOUTS

NL: Max Scherzer, Nationals – 268; Jacob deGrom, Mets – 239; Robbie Ray, D-backs – 218

AL: Chris Sale, Red Sox – 308; Corey Kluber, Indians – 265; Chris Archer, Rays – 249

A GOOD MATCH(UP) FOR THE POST SEASON?

The Twins’ Ervin Santana and the Indians’ Corey Kluber shared the MLB lead in complete games (5) and shutouts (3).

SAVES

NL: Kenley Jansen, Dodgers & Greg Holland, Rockies – 41; two with 39

AL: Alex Colome, Rays – 47; Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays – 39; Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox – 35

WILD THING, YOU MAKE MY HEART SING

The Padres’ Jhoulys Chacin and Marlins’ Jose Urena tied for the MLB lead in hit batters with 14 each. On the victim side, the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo took the most shots – hit by a ptich 24 times.  

And, there you have the Baseball Roundtable September (and end of regular season) Wrap Up.  Hope you all enjoyed the season – and are ready for playoff baseball.

Note: Key sources – MLB.com; ESPN.com; Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com

FOR A LOOK AT BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE’S RECENT FAR-REACHING FAN SURVEY, CLICK HERE.

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

 

BBRT Fan Survey – Topics From the Ballpark Experience to MLB Rules to the Hall of Fame

This post will focus on the results of Baseball Roundtable’s first-ever fan survey – a 26-question (primarily multiple choice) effort that covered topics from the ballpark and ball game experience to the worthiness of Hall of Fame candidates to MLB rules and how respondents would change the national pastime if they could.  The survey drew 141 responses – and I thank each of you for participating.  For those reading this post, you might enjoy comparing your opinions to those of fellow fans.  Clearly, there is food for thought here. (Many respondents came from groups like Baseball Fans of America, The Baseball Reliquary and the Society for American Baseball Research).

What BBRT found (in general) is that survey respondents:

  • Like a close game, played on a grass field, lit by sunlight;
  • Think 2 1/2 hours is about the right time for a nine-inning contest;
  • Prefer double plays to strikeouts;
  • Are most likely to enjoy a traditional beer and hot dog at the ballyard.
  • Have about a one-in-three likelihood of maintaing a scorecard;
  • Prefer bobbleheads above other giveaways;
  • Would put Joe Jackson in the Hall of Fame;
  • Are still likely to be hotly debating the Designated Hitter rule; and
  • If they could  change one thing about the national pastime, it would be to improve the pace of the game – most likely by reducing the number of (and  time allowed for) pitching changes.

Of course, the survey covered much more. I hope you enjoy the read. (Special shout out to Google Forms – great survey tool.)

—- THE BALL PARK … WHERE AND WHEN RESPONDENTS PREFER TO TAKE IN A GAME — 

Fans are headed out the ballpark – and what kind of atmosphere are they hoping for?  Baseball Roundtable Fan Survey respondents indicated they would (slightly) prefer a day game over a night game; have a significant preference for outdoor baseball (We Minnesotans can relate to that one); and overhwlemingly prefer natural grass to artificial turf.  Here are the details.

Day games were preferred over night games 39.7 percent to 21.3 percent – but it’s significant to note that 39 percent also said they had no preference, and that it would depend on their schedule.  (Darn work! They always expect you to show up.)

DayNight

Just over 70 percent of the respondents preferred an outdoor ballpark. Another 12 percent went for a retractable roof. (Best of both worlds? Perhaps.)ChartIndoorOutdoorNatural Grass – Oh Yeah!

Baseball Field Grass photoSlugger Dick (Richie) Allen once gave this evaluation of artifical turf, “If a horse won’t eat it, I won’t play on it.”  The Baseball Roundtable survey respondents feel pretty much the same way. Asked for their preference, an overhwelming 93.6 percent said “Natural Grass;” 5.7 percent had “No Major Preference;” and one lone respondent selected “Artificial Turf.” 

—- THE OLD BALL GAME—-

What kind of game did respondents want to see once they got to the ballyard?  Ideally, a competitive contest (slight edge to pitchers’ duels) of about 2 1/2 hours in length.   And, when it comes to action – despite today’s hard-throwing/free swinging trend toward more and more strikeouts and home runs (MLB is setting records for both this season) –  survey respondents far preferred to see double plays over double whiffs and and were evenly split on the merits of seeing consecutive home runs or consecutive triples.

What follows are the totals for this portion of the survey.

What did respondents see as the ideal length (in time, not innings) for a ballgame?  More than one-in-four respondents (28.5 percent) think 2 1/2 hours is just about right. Notably, a two-hour and 15-minute game was preferred by fewer (4.3 percent) than either a three-hour (8.5 percent) or a 2-hour and 45-minute matchup (8.5 percent).  About one-in-six would perfer to go back to the old “two-hours, give-or-take” ball game.  The big winner, however, was “Who cares, you’re at the ballpark” – at 38 percent. It appears fans may be spending less time looking at their watches (or cell phone clocks) than we think. (Many are, however, spending plenty of time on their smart phones. Nothing like a selfie or tweet at the ballpark, especially if you are in foul ball territory.)  Here are the answers to the fans’ take on the ideal length of a ball game.

  • Who cares, you’re at the ballpark … 38.0%
  • 2 1/2 hours … 28.4%
  • 2 hours … 17.7%
  • 3 hours … 8.5%
  • 2 hours, 45 minutes … 6.4%
  • 2 hours, 15 minutes … 4.3%

When it comes to choosing between a slugfest, pitchers’ duel or a crushing home team win, it appears just “being at the ballpark” may be rewarding enough for nearly 42 percent of the respondents.  Second in the category of what kind of game would fans prefer to see was a tight, low-scoring game at 36.9 percent, more than double the 15.6 percent who would opt for a slugfest.  A competitive game was the common denominator, as only 5.7 percent preferred a home team rout.

Prefer to see

Baseball Roundtable Fan Survey respondents leaned toward the National League style of basesball, with 49.6 percent preferring the NL style of play to 27 percent favoring that American League style and 23.4 percent having no preference.  Next survey, I believe I’ll ask for opinions on what separates the two styles. 

When it comes to long balls or speedy trips around the bases, respondents were pretty evenly split between the preference for seeing back-to-back home runs or back-to-back triples.  Ideal, I guess, would be back-to-back inside-the-park home runs.

ChartHR

Photo by roy.luck

Photo by roy.luck

In these posts, I often go on (maybe a little too long) on how a baseball game isn’t complete for me until I see a solid groundball double play. Hooray, I found some support among respondents.  When it came to choosing between seeing consecutive strikeouts on 95-mph heaters or a 6-4-3 double play; the double play far outdistanced the strikeouts.

  • Prefer to see a 6-4-3 double play … 61 percent
  • Prefer to see consecutive strikeouts on 95 mph-heaters … 22 percent
  • No Opinion … 17 percent

 

When it came to witnessing record-tying peerformances at the ballpark, respondents again relegated strikeouts to the back seat. As the two charts below indicate, with a chance to witness history at the ballyard, respondents would be most excited about a pitcher’s perfect game.  And, for the most part, hitter’s cycles, four-homer games and three-steal innings outdistanced such achievements as twenty-strikeout games, ten-consecutive strikeouts and Immaculate Innings.  Four-homer games, I am confident, would have fared better if not put in the same multiple choice query as perfect games.

Chart ccyle

Perfectochart

—BALLPARK FOOD AND DRINK—

I also asked about food and beverage choices, but with all there is at ballparks these days – I do a post on just the Twins’ “new” food and drink offerings each year – some may queston the validity of these questions.  The answers reflected the heart and history of the national pastime – beer and hot dogs at the ball park.

There still is nothing like a beer at the ballpark – the number-one beverage in the survey, even if you combine regular and diet soda into one category.  I was surprised by the nearly 20 percent who selected bottled water.  It’s a new day, I guess.  Those who follow this blog know I traditionally rate each ball park’s Bloody Mary, so I’m in the 3.6 percent “mixed drink” crowd.  A few of the write-ins included: iced tea; Frosty Malts (never thought of those as beverages – but there is nothing like the combination of chocolate, malt and a wooden spoon); and “My own reusable water bottle.”  My apologies to many for not including wine on the list … but I do not see a lot of wine at ball games, so the grape slipped under the radar.ChartBeverage

Photo by TheCulinaryGeek

Photo by TheCulinaryGeek

The survey indicated beer and hot dogs (or some form of portable sausage) remain a baseball tradition. Hot dogs (or sausages) were listed as a preferred food by 60 perent of the respondents. “Something New and Different” finished second at 12.9 percent.  Here’s the full results:

  • Hot Dogs/Sausage … 60%
  • Something New/Different … 12.9%
  • Peanuts … 11.4
  • Pizza … 4.3%

There were also a number of write-ins, including Cracker Jack, pop corn, nachos, ice cream sandwich, seeds, chicken tenders, “something healthy and inexpensive,” the very specific “beef sandwich at Yankee Stadium,” and “I sneak in my own food.” (Could be the same respondent as the reusable watter bottle.)  One thing for sure, no need for anyone to go hungry at a ball game. (No comment on prices here. Maybe in the next fan survey.)

—HOW ABOUT FREEBIES?—

Something free at the ball park? What’ll it be.  No surprise here, bobbleheads lead the way – the favorite of 34.1 percent of respondents.  Also finishing strong were: baseball caps and replica jerseys.  For me anything free is a bonus – kind of like (but not as good as) extra innings. Here are the responses:

cHARTBOBBLE

Among the write-ins were baseball card packs; visors; ice chest (that was a pretty specific response); something made in the USA; and “I don’t go for giveaways.”

KEEPING SCORE – ONE OF MY FAVORITE PARTS OF THE GAME

Baseball scorecard photo

Photo by Paul L Dineen

Okay, I admit I’m biased.  I love to keep score.  So, in fact, does my daughter, who’s been filling out scorecards at ball games since she was nine-years-old.  I used to love the looks of other fathers whose young sons were more interested in the mascot, graphics and games on the video board or cotton candy vendors than the game, while my daughter was dutifully noting every K, 6-4-3 or 2B on her scorecard.  We always had to arrive early, so we could finish our food and drink before it was time to fill out the lineup.  Now, I do lament that I see very view scorecards or scorebooks at the games anymore, but the survey was at least a bit heartening.  (Although you have to take into account the the respondents were drawn from followers of Baseball Roundtable and fellow members of groups like The Baseball Reliquary, Baseball Fans of America and SABR’s Halsey Hall Chapter.  So it’s a little skewed.)  However, at least among survey respondents, just over 30 percent said they “always” or “usually” kept score.  That warms my heart. 

Chartkeepscore

—THE HALL OF FAME … SHOULD THEY BE IN? —

Now, we’re moving into the more complex issues in the survey, starting with a question on whether respondents would  vote to put specific players in the Hall of Fame – specifically Joe Jackson, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens. No need for commentary here, the votes speak on their own.  Only Jackson would get the 75 percent needed for election.

HOF chart

We also asked fans to: Name one player who isn’t in the Basebal;Hall of Fame who should be.

A total of 124 respondents wrote in an answer to this one –  coming up with 43 different names, ranging rom Pete Rose to Marvin Miller to Johnny Kling.  Here are the top ten, with the total “mentions” in parenthesis. (Side note:  BBRT was surprised that neither 283-game winner Jim Kaat nor Trevor Hoffman and his 601 saves made the top ten.)

     1. Pete Rose (36)

     2. Barry Bonds (11)

     3. Alan Trammell (8)*

     4. Joe Jackson (7)

     5. Dick Allen (5)

     5. Edgar Martinez (5)

     6. Fred McGriff (3)

     6. Gile Hodgers (3)

     6. Dave Concepcion (3)

     6. Tony Oliva (3)

     6. Lou Whitaker (3)

     6. Dale Murphy (3)

     6. Mark McGwire (3)

* A surprise here. With Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker most often mentioned in the same sentence, Trammell got more than twice as many “mentions” here as Whitaker.

—THE RULES  … OLD SCHOOL OR NEW—

Now, let’s move on to a look at some of MLB’s rules that seem to generate conversation – and at times controversey – among baseball fans. Depite being around for four decades, the DH rule continues to generate considerable debate and generated the widest split among respondents,with fairly equal numbers calling for no DH, the DH in both leagues and the current split. The two Wild Card system garnered the highest level of support (two-thirds of respondents liked it), while the new “wave the batter to first” intentiona walk rule was opposed by more than 60 percent.  Here’s a look at the survey questions (and responses) related to a handful of MLB rules.

First, the Designated Hitter – part of the American League rules since 1973.  Still plenty of debate here, with 35.5 percent thinking the DH should be dropped altogether, 27.7 percent wanting to see the DH in both leagues and another 34 percent preferring the current situation.  Looks like we’ll be talking about this for some time yet.

ChartDH

When it comes to interleague play, we also saw a fairly strong split, leaning just a bit (51.4 percent) toward interleague action. Notably, respondents did volunteer a few suggestions for improving interleague play. Those included having each division’s teams play the same teams from the other league each season (to balance competition); having  every team play each team in the other league at least once each season; and limiting interleague action to one game on any given day. ChartInterl

The current two Wild Card system was a hit, liked by 66.7 percent of respondents and opposed by about one-in-four. Clearly, fans like the way the Wild Card opportunity keeps more teams “in the race” until late in the season.  Being a Twins’ fan, it worked for me this year – but I’d kind of like the Wild Card to be two-of-three, so we’d be guaranteed at least one home game out of it. Chart Wildcard

The new rule allowing a batter to be waved to first drew the most opposition in the fan survey, with just over 60 percent (62.1 percent) opposing it, while about one-third were “fine” with the new rule.  Personally, I don’t care much for it. I’ve seen enough go wrong (or right, depending on your vantage point) during the old-style intentional pass to want to see it played out.

ChartIBBThis next one surprised me, as 63.6 percent of respondents were fine with the current challenge/video replay system – and only 20 percent would prefer to get rid of it. You’ll notice the total in the chart below does not add up to 100 percent.  That because about 10 percent wrote in answers – for the most part indicating they were okay with the system if the process could be completed in a more timely (much more timely for most) manner.

Chartreplay—CHANGING THE OLD BALL GAME—

The survey drew 119 responses to the write-in question: “If you could change one thing about major league baseball, what would it be?”  As you can imagine, the responses covered a lot of ground – from having a baseball skills competition at the All Star game to dumping the new Intentional Walk rule to reining in the proliferation of statistics.  We’ll take a look at some of the most discussed issues or changes.

GETTING VERY SPECIFIC – ERRORS AND THE INFIELD FLY RULE

The most specific change recommended related to the Infield Fly Rule.  One repondent suggested that if a fielder (unintentionally) drops an infield fly, it should  be considered an error.  The ball should be declared dead, the batter awarded first and all runners advance.  The logic suggested was that “The defense should not be rewarded for an error.”

Speeding up the pace of the game was the issue that drew the most response and the emphasis was on pitching and pitching changes in particular. (Twenty-three of the 119 responses related to mound/time issues.) A host of fans simply think the pace of the game would improve if we didn’t see so many pitching changes. Among the suggestions were:

  • Requiring a reliever to finish an inning or give up a run before being replaced;
  • Requiring each reliever to retire at least one batter; and
  • Reducing the size of pitching staffs.

The survey also saw multiple respondents suggresting that MLB:

  • Limit catcher visits to the mound;
  • Limit the number of times a pitcher can leave the mound; and
  • Better enforce the pitch clock (although there were a nearly equal number of calls to eliminate the pitch clock).

Batters were also the subject of suggestion – particularly:

  • Requiring a batter to stay in the batters’ box between pitches, except in cases of injury or game interruption (like a catcher of coaches visit to the mound).

Respondents also wanted to reduce the time between innings or pitching change – with many placing the blame on the need for TV commercial breaks.

As you might expect, the Designated Hitter rule came under fire with two main lines of thought – no surprise”

  • Elminate the DH (5 respondents);
  • Adopt the DH in both leagues (3 respondents).

There were also seven calls for lower prices (with a focus on ticket prices) and a handful of respondents who focused on September call-ups. The two lines of thought there were to either eliminate the September roster expansion or allow it in both April and September.

Here are a few others, BBRT found interesting: reduce interleague play; allow baserunners to initate a “challenge”; eliminate the challenge and replay; make the Wild Card playoff a best-of-three; install a laser system for foul balls and home runs; tougher drug penalties; have each team schedule one (single ticket) double headeer each month; more day games; demote umpires (back to the minors) the same way you demote/call-up players; eliminate the new “slide” rule and intentional walk rule.

—TOPICS FOR FUTURE SURVEYS—

Thanks to all who filled out this first Baseball Roundtable Fan Survey.  I plan more (shorter) surveys in the future and would like your input.  You can use the comments section to put forward topics you think  should be explored (or even to suggest I drop the survey idea).

Thanks agian to all who responded, to all who follow BBRT – and enjoy the post-season.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT.

Follow/Like Baseball Roundtable’s Facebook page here.

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

Willie Mays and George Brett – They Won a Couple of Close Ones

WILLIE MAYS COMES BACK – HIS 1954 BATTING TITLE

WillieOn this day (September 26) in 1954, Willie Mays won his first (only) batting title – and it was quite a comeback.  The Say Hey Kid was coming back from missing the 1953 season (military service) and – on that September day – he was also focused on coming back from third place in the batting race.

The Giants, who were headed for the World Series, were taking on the Phillies in Philadelphia. As the game got underway, Giants’ RF Don Mueller was hitting .34258; the Dodgers’ CF Duke Snider (starting against the Pirates in Brooklyn) was just .00007 behind at .34251; and Mays was third at .34224.

That day, the Dodgers’ starting pitcher, 23-year-old rookie southpaw Karl Spooner, was appearing in just his second MLB game.  In his first outing (September 22), he had thrown a complete-game shutout against the Giants. He picked up a 3-0 win, giving up just three hits and three walks – while fanning fifteen. Spooner built on that performance against the Pirates, again notching a complete game shutout (1-0), this time allowing four hits and three walks and fanning a dozen. The Pirates’ Jake Thies (3-8 on the year) was nearly as good, also pitching a four-hit complete game, giving up a single run on a Gil Hodges’ round tripper. Thies’ performance (the best of his two-season MLB career) cost Snider his chance at the batting title, as the future Hall of Famer went zero-for-three and dropped to .341.  Side note: Spooner suffered a shoulder injury in 1955 Spring Training and pitched in only two Major League seasons (1954-55), going 10-6, 3.09.

Meanwhile, the Giants were facing a tough pitcher in 23-game winner Robin Roberts.  Mueller got off to a good start with a single in the first inning, but he didn’t get another hit until the tenth (the Giants won in eleven). Mueller ended two-for-six, dropping his average to .342.  Mays touched Roberts (who pitched a complete game) for a single in the second, a groundout to second in the fourth, a triple in the seventh, a double in the eighth and an intentional walk in the tenth.  His three-for-four game pushed his average up to .345 – as Mays moved from third place to first on the leader board.

The anniversary of Mays’ batting title (and the close race described above) caused me to reflect on another very close batting race. This one took place in 1976 – and that’s what this post is really about.

Minnesota fans (I am a Minnesota fan, see my smile this year) may recall the 1976 AL batting race which carried right into the contenders’ final game (October 3) and final inning – with the three leading candidates playing in the same ballpark.

BrettReally, the stage had been set when the final regular season series opened two days before.  At that time, Royals’ DH Hal McRae was leading the AL with a .333 average, followed by Royals’ 3B George Brett at .328 and Twins’ 1B (already a five-time batting champion) Rod Carew at .325.

McRae took a zero-for-four that day (October 1) – as the Twins won 4-3 – and the batting race tightened up. Brett went three-for-three and pulled within .00005 of McRae – .33073 to .33078. Carew went two-for-four to move to .327 (no extra digits necessary).  Of interest here is that, despite the loss, the Royals were able to celebrate a division title that evening – thanks to an Oakland loss. The title-clinching opened the door for Carew to get back into the race.

The following day, the Twins again won (3-2) and – with Brett and McRae (and a number of other Royals’ regulars) on the bench – Carew reinserted himself into the final leg of the dash for the batting crown, going three-for-four and raising his average to .32945.

Here’s how things unfolded, with all three contenders on the same field for the final regular season game.

At game time, as noted earlier, Royals’ DH Hal McRae was leading the race at .33078, Royals’ 3B George Brett stood at .33073 and Twins’ 1B Rod Carew was third at .32945.

In the top of the first, Carew walked – and the leaderboard went unchanged.

In the bottom of the first, Brett (batting third) lined to short for the final out of the inning. His averaged dropped to .33022, giving just a bit more breathing room to McRae.

McRae, however, led off the bottom of the second and the Royals’ DH and cleanup hitter flied out to center and dropped to second in the race.  (McRae had more than 100 fewer at bats than Brett, so each out, or hit, made more of a difference.)  The race now stood at: Brett – .33022; McRae – .33015; Carew – .32945.

Carew lost more ground in his next at bat, by grounding out to shortstop in the top of the third.  His average slipped to .32890.

Brett added to his lead in the bottom of the fourth, with a double to right.  Now it was: Brett (.33126); McRae (.33015); Carew (.32890). But, McRae wasn’t done. He followed McRae’s double with a single to center of his own – raising his average to .33143 and retaking the lead.

Carew seemed to slip out of the competition in the top of the fifth, grounding out to second and dropping to .32836.  However, he got another at bat before Brett or McRae – and doubled to left (top of the seventh), putting the leaderboard at: McRae – .33143; Brett – .33126; Carew – .32947.

In the bottom of the seventh, Brett opened with a double to briefly retake the lead at .33230.  McRae, however, followed with an RBI single to go back in front. The leaderboard after seven innings: McRae – .33270; Brett – .33230; Carew – .32947.

The final inning of the final game and this thing wasn’t over yet – although Carew’s chances were. He singled in the top of the ninth, raising his average to .33057. But, even if Brett made an out in the bottom of the inning, the Royals’ 3B would finish at .33178.  Brett, however, did not make an out.  In the bottom of the ninth, he circled the bases on an inside-the-park home run that fell in front of and then bounced past Twins’ left fielder Steve Brye. (More on that in a minute.)  That put Brett in the batting lead at .33333. McRae, who was coming to the plate, still had a shot. A base hit would give McRae a .33397 average and the batting title, an out would put him at .33207, and  a non-at bat (walk, hit-by-pitch, sacrifice) would keep him at .33270 (still second to Brett). McRae needed a hit, but grounded out to shortstop.  The final tally – you can look it up – was Brett – .333; McRae – 332; Carew – .331. In one of the closest races ever – and one with a finish that quickly became controversial.

There were those in the stands – including McRae – that felt that Brye gave up on the Brett inside-the-park home run. McRae even felt that Twins’ Manager Gene Mauch had ordered Brye to misplay Brett fly ball, raising the possibility of racial motivation. In fact, after his ninth-inning groundout, McCrae made a one-finger gesture toward the Twins dugout, which led a bench-emptying confrontation.  Brye’s response was that he had been playing too deep and had simply misjudged the ball.  In the end, the first of three Brett batting titles was won in a tight race, in the last inning of the regular season, with a bit of a twist at the end – a twist that still stirs up some interesting conversation in Kansas City and Minnesota.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Three-Hundred Strikeout Pitchers – The Big Unit is Their King

Chris sale Red Sox photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On September 20, as the Red Sox topped the Orioles in Baltimore by a 9-0 score, Boston ace Chris Sale picked up his 17th win of the season (versus seven losses).  He went eight innings giving up four hits, no walks and fanning 13. The final whiff of the game (Ryan Flaherty for the third out in the bottom of the eighth inning) was Sale’s 300th strikeout of the season.  This made Sale just the 39th MLB pitcher overall – and just the 16th since 1900 – to record a 300-strikeout season.  It was also just the 66th season of 300 or more MLB strikeouts chalked up overall – and just the 35th since 1900.

This led Baseball Roundtable to take a look at the national pastime’s roster of 300-strikeout pitchers – and, one thing became clear, Randy “TheBig Unit” Johnson is their King – holding or sharing a host of 300K records (ranging from most 300K seasons to most consecutive 300K seasons to reaching 300K in the fewest stars in a season). Read on to learn about those marks and more.  TopSSKAs you can see, the chart above is divided into pre-1900 and since-1900 categories. There is good reason to look at the modern-day (versus the pre-1900) record.  The game was simply a lot different in its early days.  Consider the fact that of the 300+ strikeout seasons recorded since 1883, 15 (about 23 percent) took place in 1884. (At that time, the National League, American Association and Union Association were considered “major leagues.”) Since 1900, no season has seen more than two pitchers achieve 300 strikeouts.

A look at the 1884 MLB leader board give a solid indication of how much more likely a 300-strikeout season was in that era.  Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn led all pitchers in starts with 73 (he completed them all) and innings pitched (678 2/3). In fact, it took 523 innings pitched just to make the top ten. It’s little wonder 1884 saw 15 hurlers reach the 300K mark.

                 300+ Strikeout Seasons by Decade:

                    1883-89 … 27             1940-49 … 1

                    1890-99 … 4               1950-59 … 0

                    1900-09 … 2               1960-69 … 4

                     1910-19 … 2               1970-79 … 11*

                    1920-29 … 0               1980-89 … 2

                     1930-39 … 0               1990-99 … 7**

                                                             2000-09 … 4

                                                             2010-17 … 2

*Let’s call this the Nolan Ryan era.

** The Randy Johnson era.

For fun, let’s take a look at some of the game’s strikeouts records.

  • Along the way to his 300 strikeouts, Chris Sale had one streak of eight consecutive games with ten or more strikeouts (April 10-May 19) – tying the MLB record (which he already shared with Pedro Martinez – Red Sox 1999). Sale also had an eight-game streak of ten or more whiffs for the White Sox in 2015.

Chris Sale’s 13-strikeout game of September 20th was his 18th  2017 game with 10 or more whiffs.  Wondering about the record for a single season?  It’s 23, accomplished once in the AL (Nolan Ryan – 1973) and three times in the NL (Randy Johnson – 1999, 2000, 2001).

  • Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan share the record for the most 300+ strikeout seasons at six.
  • The only two pitchers to record a 300-strikeout season in both the American League and National League are: Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks and Mariners) and Pedro Martinez (Expos and Red Sox).
Randy Johnson photo

Photo by SD Dirk

Randy Johnson is the only player since 1900 to record a 300-strikeout season while playing for two teams in single season.  In 1998, Johnson started the season with the Seattle Mariners and was traded (right at the July 31 trade deadline) to the Houston Astros for Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen and a player to be named later (John Halama). At the time of the trade, the Big Unit was 9-10, 4.33 with Seattle – with 213 strikeouts in 160 innings. He helped the Astros win the NL Central Division title, starting 11 games and going 10-1, 1.28 – with 116 punch outs in 84 1/3 innings.  This also gives Johnson the distinction of the being the only hurler with a 300-strikeout season split between the AL and NL. Side note:  In 1884, four players recorded 300+ strikeout seasons, while splitting time among two teams.  If your interest runs that deep, see the list at the end of this post.)

  • Chris Sale reached his 300th strikeout in his 31st game of 2017. Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks made it to the 300K mark the fastest – in 28 games in 2001. Johnson finished 2001 with 372 strikeouts in 35 games (34 starts) and 260 innings pitched.
  • Only twice has one team had two 300+ strikeout pitchers in the same season – and one of those needs an asterisk. In 2002, Randy Johnson (there’s his name again) and Curt Schilling of the Diamondbacks fanned 324 and 316 batters, respectively.  Back in 1884, Old Hoss Radbourn of the Providence Grays fanned 441.  His teammate Charlie Sweeney fanned 337 batters, but only 145 with Providence (the remaining 192 were with the Union Association St. Louis Maroons).
  • Randy Johnson holds the record for consecutive 300-strikeout seasons at five (1998-2002); all for the Diamondbacks. Others with consecutive 300-whiff campaigns: Nolan Ryan (1972-74 and 1976-77, Angels); Amos Rusie (1890-92, Giants); Curt Schilling (1997-98, Phillies); J.R. Richard (1978-79, Astros); Rube Waddell (1903-04, Athletics); Toad Ramsey (1886-87, Louisville of the American Association); John Clarkson (1885-86, Chicago of the National League); Tim Keefe (1883-84, NY Metropolitans of the American Association); Old Hoss Radbourn (1883-84, Providence Grays of the National League).
  • Larry McKeon was the youngest player ever to record a 300+ strikeout season – fanning 308 as an 18-year-old rookie with the American Association Indianapolis Hoosiers in 1884. McKeon, by the way, went 18-41 that season, with a 3.05 ERA (512 innings pitched). The next year, he fanned only 117 (290 innings), but improved to 20-13, 2.86.
  • Nolan Ryan is the oldest pitcher to ever record a 300+ strikeout season, fanning 301 batters for the Texas Rangers (1989) as a 42-year-old. He went 16-10 that year, with a 3.20 ERA (32 starts, 239 1/3 innings pitched).
  • Players who have recorded 300-strikeout campaigns with multiple teams include: Curt Schilling (Diamondbacks and Phillies); Pedro Martinez (Expos and Red Sox); Nolan Ryan (Angels and Rangers); Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks, Mariners); Tim Keefe (New York Giants of the NL and New York Metropolitans of the American Association); Ed Morris (Pittsburgh and Columbus of the American Association).

KILROY WAS HERE

Matt Kilroy holds the record for the strikeouts in a season – 513 in 1886, for the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association.  As a 20-year-old rookie, the 5’9”, 175-pound southpaw completed 66 of 68 starts, going 29-34 with a 3.37 ERA and 513 strikeouts in 583 innings pitched.  The following season (still with Baltimore), Kilroy went 46-19, 3.07 – but fanned only 217 batters in 589 1/3 innings. He pitched ten MLB seasons, going 141-133, 3.47.  The modern-era record belongs to Nolan Ryan who fanned 383 batters for the Angels in 1983.  Ryan went 21-16, 2.87 that season – and fanned his 383 batters in 326 innings.

  • In 1904, Rube Waddell fanned a then (post-1900) record 349 batters – a mark which stood until 1965, when the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax fanned 382. Waddell held the AL season strikeout record until 1973, when Nolan Ryan fanned 383 for the Angels.   How good was Waddell?  When he fanned 349 in 1904, the next best total was 239. Elected to the to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, Waddell was considered one of the most talented and eccentric MLB players ever,  For more on Waddell, his baseball skills and his antics, BBRT suggests: Rube Waddell: The Zany, Brilliant Life of a Strikeout Artist, by Allan Howard Levy and Just a Big Kid: The Life and Times of Rube Waddell, by Paul Proia.

_____________________________________________________

Three-hundred (or more) Strikeouts in a Season – A (reverse) Chronological List

2017

Chris Sale                     Red Sox (AL)                          300

2015

Clayton Kershaw          Dodgers (NL)                          301

2002

Curt Schilling                Diamondbacks (NL)                316

Randy Johnson             Diamondbacks (NL)                334

2001

Randy Johnson             Diamondbacks (NL)                372

2000

Randy Johnson            Diamondbacks (NL)                 347

1999

Randy Johnson            Diamondbacks (AL)                 364

Pedro Martinez            Red Sox (AL)                            313

1998

Randy Johnson           Mariners (AL)/Astros (NL)         329

Curt Schilling               Phillies (NL)                               300

1997

Curt Schilling                Phillies (NL)                             319

Pedro Martinez             Expos (NL)                              305

1993

Randy Johnson             Mariners (AL)                          308

1989

Nolan Ryan                  Rangers (AL)                           301

1986

Mike Scott                     Astros (NL)                             306

1979

J.R. Richard                  Astros (NL)                             313

1978

J.R. Richard                  Astros (NL)                             303

1977

Nolan Ryan                  Angels (AL)                             341

1976

Nolan Ryan                  Angels (AL)                             327

1974

Nolan Ryan                  Angels (AL)                             367

1973

Nolan Ryan                  Angels (AL)                             383

1972

Nolan Ryan                  Angels (AL)                             329

Steve Carlton               Phillies (NL)                             310

1971

Mickey Lolich              Tigers (AL)                              308

Vida Blue                     A’s (AL)                                   301

1970

Sam McDowell            Indians (AL)                             304

1966

Sandy Koufax              Dodgers (NL)                          317

1965

Sandy Koufax              Dodgers (NL)                          382

Sam McDowell            Indians (AL)                             325

1963

Sandy Koufax              Dodgers (NL)                          306

1946

Bob Feller                    Indians (AL)                             348

1912

Walter Johnson           Senators (AL)                          303

1910

Walter Johnson           Senators (AL)                          313

1904

Rube Waddell              Athletics (AL)                           349

1903

Rube Waddell              Athletics (AL)                           302

1892

Bill Hutchinson             Chicago Colts (NL)                  314

Amos Rusie                  Giants (NL)                              304

1891

Amos Rusie                  Giants (NL)                              337

1890

Amos Rusie                  Giants (NL)                              341

1889

Mark Baldwin               Columbus Solons (AA)           368

1888

Tim Keefe                    Giants (NL)                              335

1887

Toad Ramsey               Louisville Colonels (AA)          355

1886

Matt Kilroy                   Balt. Orioles (AA)                      513

Toad Ramsey               Louisville Colonels (AA)           499

Ed Morris                     Pittsburgh Alleghenys (AA)       326

Lady Baldwin               Detroit Wolverines (NL)             323

John Clarkson              Chic. White Stockings (NL)       313

1885

John Clarkson              Chic. White Stockings (NL)      308

1884

Hugh Daily                   Chi./Pitt. (UA)                            483

Dupee Shaw                 Det. (NL)/Bost.(UA)                  451

Old Hoss Radbourn      Providence Grays  (NL)           441

Charlie Buffinton           Boston Beaneaters (NL)           417

Guy Hecker                  Louisville Colonels (AA)            385

Bill Sweeney                 Balt. Monumentals (UA)            374

Pud Galvin                    Buffalo Bisons (NL)                   369

Hardie Henderson         Baltimore Orioles (AA)             346

Mickey Welch                Giants (NL)                               345

Jim McCormick             Cleveland (NL)/Cinc. (UA)         343

Charlie Sweeney           Providence (NL)/St.L. (UA)       337

Tim Keefe                      NY Metropolitans (AA)              334

Tony Mullane                 Toledo Blue Stockings (AA)       325

Larry McKeon                Ind. Hoosiers ((AA)                    308

Ed Morris                       Columbus Buckeyes (AA)          302

1883

Tim Keefe                       NY Metropolitans (AA)               359

Jim Whitney                    Boston Beaneaters (NL)            345

Old Hoss Radbourn        Providence Grays (NL)             315

 

Primary Sources:  The ESPB Baseball Encyclopedia; Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

 

 

 

 

 

A New Long Ball Record … Some Random Observations

Yesterday (September 19) was an historic day for MLB baseball. In the eighth inning of the Royals-Blue Jays game in Toronto, Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon homered off Blue Jays’ reliever Ryan Tepera.  It was Gordon’s eighth long ball of the season.  It was also the 5,594th  home run of the 2017 MLB season, breaking the all-time, all-team season record of 5,693 set back in the 2000 (steroid-era) season. By the end of the day’s action, the new record was up to 5,707 – and we still have plenty of games to go.  This August saw another home run record fall.  August’s 1,119 home runs were the most of any month in MLB history – breaking the record of 1,101 set this June.  By the way, the August total represents 2.63 home runs per game (both teams), compared to the season average of 2.53 (through September 20).

Giancarlo Stanton leading MLB with 55 home runs. Photo by Corn Farmer

Giancarlo Stanton leading MLB with 55 home runs.
Photo by Corn Farmer

Contributors to this onslaught of long balls include veterans like the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton (with an MLB-leading 55 home runs, the first 50 round-tripper campaign since 2013) and Royals’ Mike Moustakas (whose 36 home runs have already tied the Royals’ franchise record for a season and are 14 more than his previous single-season high).  Rookies have also gotten into the show, with the Dodgers’ 21-year-old newcomer Cody Bellinger having already tied the NL rookie season record of 38 home runs and Yankees’ rookie (25-year-old) Aaron Judge standing at 44 home runs (five shy of Mark McGwire’s AL and MLB rookie record of 49).

The Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton is holding up his end of the 2017 record-setting home run pace, not only leading all of MLB with 55 home runs, but also having the season’s best at bat-to-home run ratio at 10.0.  Also in the top five in fewest at bats per home run are: the Rangers’ Joey Gallo (10.9); Yankees’ Aaron Judge (11.6); Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger (11.7); and Rays’ Logan Morrison (13.3).

Then there are the Reds’ Scooter Gennett and Diamondbacks’ J.D. Martinez, who each blasted a record-tying four home runs in a single game – making 2017 only the second MLB season to see two four-dinger games (the Mariners’ Mike Cameron and Dodgers’ Shawn Green in 2002). There have been only 18 four-homer games in MLB history.

As of today, MLB has 110 players with at least 20 home runs on the season (58 in the AL/52 in the NL) – one short of last season’s MLB record.  Of the 110, 29 have at least 30 HRs and three have forty or more (J.D. Martinez 40, Aaron Judge 44, Giancarlo Stanton 55).

And, not every one of 2017’s record-setting long balls cleared the fences. There have been 18 inside-the-park home runs this year – including eight in the month of August alone (the most in any month in forty years.)

So, why this power surge?  Some speculate that the ball is juiced. However, MLB says says the baseballs have been tested and are within specifications.  There are, of course, other possible contributing factors.  Pitchers are throwing harder than ever and batters appear to be swinging harder (and freer) than ever.  Together, these factors are certainly contributing to the increase in long balls.  (Not saying they are the only factors, but the trend toward toward a hard-throwing/free-swinging game seems to be playing a role.)

TROTTING AROUND THE BASES OR WALKING BACK TO THE DUGOUT – IT’S A TREND

Take a look at the charts below, plotting average home runs (both teams) and strikeouts (both teams) over the years. It appears the game is more and more about either trotting around the bases or walking back to the dugout.  First, home runs (average per game, both teams combined):

HR Per Game chart

Now, average strikeouts per game (both teams combined).

SO9

A few K-related observations:

  •  As of September 20, 2017, seven MLB players have struck out 170 or more times.  In 2000, only two players struck out 170 or more times; in 1990 and 1980, one player reached that total in each season; there were A total of three seasons of 170 or more strikeouts in the entire decade of the 1960’s.
  • There have been nine seasons of 200 or more whiffs by a batter – all since 2008.
  • In 2009, Mark Reynolds led MLB with 223 strikeouts; in 1957 and 1958, Jim Lemon  led the AL with a total of 214 strikeouts (94 in 1957, 120 in 1958).
  • Babe Ruth never fanned more than 93 times in a season, but led his league in strikeouts five times.

Primary Sources:  ESPN.com; MLB.com; Baseball-Reference.com

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

Gary Ward – A Cycling Record (or two)

I always like it when I have the opportunity to reflect on a hometown Twins’ accomplishment – and this is one of those days.

WardOn September 18, 1980, as the Twins faced off against the Brewers in the first game of a doubleheader, a 26-year-old rookie named Gary Ward was leading off and starting in left field for Minnesota. A September call-up, it was Ward’s fourth game of the season for the Twins and just the 14th MLB game of his professional career. (Ward had played in ten games for the Twins at the end of the 1979 season and was hitting .282, with 13 home runs, 66 RBI and 26 steals at Triple A when he got the 1980 call to the big club.) Little did Ward know, he was about to earn his way into the MLB record books that day.

In the top of the first inning, Ward double to center off Brewers’ starter Mike Caldwell. In the top of the third, with the Twins trailing 7-1, the 6’2”, 195-pound Ward singled to left – again off Caldwell. In the top of the fifth, he homered to center off Cardwell (Ward’s first major league round tripper) – cutting the lead to 7-2. In the seventh, he rapped a run-scoring triple to right field off reliever Reggie Cleveland, cutting the deficit to two runs (7-5) – and, of course, completing the cycle.  Notably, Ward had shown his ability to use the entire field – double and homer to center, triple to right and single to left.   In his final at bat, Ward lined out to short. His line for the day? Four-for-five with two runs scored and two RBI. The Twins, by the way, lost 9-8 on a walk-off home run by Milwaukee CF/clean-up hitter Gorman Thomas.

In completing his cycle, Ward immediately “wrote” one entry into the MLB record books and set the foundation for a second.

First, Ward set the record (which still stands) for the fewest MLB games played when recording a cycle (14). The Giants’ Fred Lewis came close to Ward’s record when he hit for the cycle in his 16th MLB game (May 13, 2007) – still the NL record for earliest cycle.

Second, Ward laid the foundation for the only (thus far) father-son combination to hit for the cycle. On May 26, 2004, Gary Ward’s son Daryle – playing 1B and batting third for the Pirates as they took on the Cardinals in St. Louis – hit for the cycle.  In that 11-8 Pirates victory Daryle Ward went four-for-six with three runs scored and six RBI.

For more on MLB’s cycles, click here.

SKIPPING A GENERATION

While, Gary and Daryle Ward are the only father-son combination to hit for the cycle, there is another “relatively” rare family cycle link.  Pirates’ RF Gus Bell and Phillies’ 3B David Bell are the only grandfather-grandson combination to achieve that feat (June 4, 1951 and June 28, 2004, respectively)

Here’s a bit more on the Twins’ Gary Ward. In that 1981 call-up, he hit .463, with one home runs and ten RBI in 13 games. Over five seasons as a Twin, Ward hit .285-51-219, with 26 steals (417 games). Over a 12-season MLB career (Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Tigers), Ward hit .276-130-597, with 83 steals (and 41 triples). The two-time All Star’s best season was 1982, when he hit .289, with 28 home runs and 91 RBI in 162 games for Minnesota. His son Daryle played 11 seasons in the majors (Astros, Cubs, Pirates, Dodgers, Nationals – 1998-2008). Daryle, playing outfield and first base, hit .263, with 90 home runs and 379 RBI over his career. His best campaign was 2002, with the Astros, when he hit .276-12-72 in 136 games.

GOING DEEP – THREE GENERATIONS DEEP

In this post, BBRT noted that Gus and David Bell are the only grandfather-grandson combination to hit for the cycle. The Bell family did have a chance to go three-deep in the cycle, as Gus’ son (and David’s father) Buddy Bell also played in the major leagues.

Here’s a list of three-generation major league families.

COLEMAN FAMILY

First Generation:

Joseph Patrick Coleman, pitcher … (MLB 1942-1955 … 52-76, 4.36)

Second Generation:

Joseph Howard Coleman, pitcher … (MLB 1965-79 … 142-135, 3.70)

Third Generation:

Casey Coleman, pitcher … (MLB 2010-12, 2014 … 8-13, 5.72)

_____________________________

BOONE FAMILY

First Generation:

Ray Boone, 3B-SS-1B … (MLB 1948-60 … .275, 151 HR, 737 RBI)

Second Generation:

Bob Boone, catcher … (MLB 1972-90 … .254, 105 HR, 826 RBI)

Third Generation:

Bret Boone, 2B … (MLB 1992-2005 … .266, 252 HR, 1,021 RBI)

Aaron Boone, 3B-1B … (MLB 1997-2009 … .263, 126 HR, 555 RBI)

_________________________________

BELL FAMILY

First Generation:

Gus Bell, Outfield … (MLB 1950-64 … .281, 206 HR, 942 RBI)

Second Generation:

Buddy Bell, 3B … (MLB 1972-89 … .279, 201 HR, 1,106 RBI)

Third Generation:

David Bell, 3B-2B … (MLB 1995-2006 … .257, 123 HR, 589 RBI)

Mike Bell, 3B … (MLB 2000 … .222, 2 HR, 4 RBI)

______________________________________

HAIRSTON FAMILY

First Generation:

Sammy Hairston, catcher … (MLB 1951 … .400, 0 HR, 1 RBI)

Second Generation:

Jerry Hairston, Outfield… (MLB 1973-89 … .258, 30 HR, 205 RBI)

Third Generation:

Jerry Hairston, Jr., 2B-3B-OF-SS … (MLB 1998-2013 … .257, 70 HR, 420 RBI)

Scott Hairston, Outfield … (MLB 2004-14 … .242, 106 HR, 313 RBI)

 

Coming soon, the results of BBRT’s first fan survey.  You can take the survey here.

Spoiler Alert from early returns: Beer and hot dogs are still number one; respondents are fine with instant replay, not so with waving a batter to first base on an intentional walk; double plays are more popular than strikeouts; and respondents would rather be in the stands for a perfect game than a four-homer game.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

The RH Factor – Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins is for Real

“We can’t put guys in the seats, can we now?”

                               Miami Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly …

                                 on defending against Rhys Hoskins.

HoskinsPhillies’ rookie Rhys Hoskins is the RH Factor in the middle of the Philadelphia line-up – putting up a .310-17-37 stat line since his MLB debut on August 10.  In yesterday’s contest – an 8-1 Phillies win over the Marlins in Philadelphia – the 6’5”, 24-year-old 1B/OF went two-for-two, with two runs scored and three RBI. He notched a two-run home run, a run-scoring sacrifice fly, a single and drew a walk in four plate appearances.  The home run was his 17th of the season and, like most of his long balls, carried a little history over the fence.  Coming in just his 33rd MLB game, it made Hoskins the fastest player to reach 17 career round trippers. And, it wasn’t even close – the next quickest to 17 career long balls in the big leagues was Boston Brave Wally Berger at 42 games in 1930.   Then again, Hoskins seems to be getting to all the long-ball marks at breakneck speed.  As the chart below shows, he has been the fastest to reach every career home run mark from nine to 17 (with more to come). Side Note: In other news … only Zeke Bonura, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams got to 37 career RBI in as few games as Hoskins. Not bad company.)

RHYS HOSKINS IS THE FASTEST PLAYER TO REACH …

          Nine Home Runs … 16 games

         Ten Home Runs … 17 games

         Eleven Home Runs … 18 games

         Twelve Home Runs …24 games

         Thirteen Home Runs … 29 games

         Fourteen Home Runs … 30 games

         Fifteen Home Runs … 32 games

         Sixteen Home Runs … 32 games

         Seventeen Home Runs … 33 games

So, where did the rookie “phenom” come from?  Let’s take a look.  (Oh, and just so you don’t think BBRT climbed aboard the Hoskins’ bandwagon a little late, the RH Factor was featured in a September 1 post – the August Wrap Up.)

First, I think it’s fair to say, the scouts didn’t see this coming – and that goes for pro and college scouts.  In 2011, when Hoskins graduated from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California – where he played baseball, football and basketball – he apparently wasn’t on anyone’s radar. (In his senior season, he hit .304, with three home runs and 22 RBI.) Not only did Hoskins go undrafted by the pros, he received only one college scholarship offer – California State University at Sacramento.

Coming out of high school, Rhys Hoskins wasn’t on the scouts’ radar.

Hoskins made the most of his three years as a Sacramento State Hornet: First Team Freshman All-American (Baseball America & Louisville Slugger) and Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year (.353-10-53); a .283-3-37 sophomore season; Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year as a Junior (.319-12-53).   That performance earned him $349,700 as the Phillies’ selection in the fifth round (142nd overall) of the 2014 MLB Draft.  Note: Hoskins was also a three-time Academic All-WAC honoree.

Hoskins began his professional career with the short-season (New York-Penn League), Williamsport Crosscutters, where hit just .237, but showed budding power with nine home runs and 40 RBI in 70 games. In 2015, Hoskins hit a combined .319-17-90 at Class A and High-A. In 2016, he really broke out – earning Eastern League (Double A) Rookie of the Year honors with a .281-38-111 season (135 games) for the Reading Fightin’ Phils. That $350,000 investment was looking pretty good by then.

2017 – THE YEAR OF THE RH FACTOR

Then came 2017, and Hoskins’ blazing start with the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs – .284-29-91 line in 115 games (International League MVP and Rookie of the Year). Just as important, he showed solid plate discipline, drawing 64 walks (versus 75 strikeouts). That earned Hoskins an August call up to the big club – where the burn did not exactly continue (at least nor right away).

In his first major league at bat (August 10), Hoskins struck out looking versus the Mets’ Jacob deGrom. His next trip to the plate, he hit into a 4-6-3 double play.  And in his final plate appearance of the day, he drew a six-pitch walk. After four games, things did not look much better. Hoskins was one-for-sixteen (.077), with one run scored and one RBI.

In Hoskins’ fifth game (August 14), things began to get interesting, as he went two-for-four with a pair of home runs.  Since that time (29 games between August 14 and September 13), Hoskins has hit .340, with 17 home runs, 36 RBI and 30 runs scored.  He also put up nearly identical numbers for walks (21) and strikeouts (22) over those 29 games. (He has 24 walks and 26 strikeouts overall.)  That combination of power and patience is why so many are convinced Hoskins is the real deal.

In  a clutch situation. a walk may be the best way to “de-fence” Rhys Hoskins.

And, just to top it off his hot start at the plate, young Mr. Hoskins – on August 27 –  made a sliding, shoestring catch to start a 7-4-3 triple play.

CAN RHYS HOSKINS WIN THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD?

Can a player who debuts in August capture the Rookie of the Year Award?  There is a (close) precedent. In 1959, San Francisco Giants’ rookie first baseman Willie McCovey made his MLB debut on July 30.  The future Hall of Famer captured NL rookie of the year honors despite playing in only 52 games.  McCovey put a .354-13-38 stat line that season.  Hoskins, who made his MLB debut on August 10, should surpass McCovey  in all offensive categories except average.  He’s could win this thing.  His biggest obstacle may be another 1B/OF –  Dodgers’ rookie Cody Bellinger , .272-37-86 through 116 games, who looks to break the NL rookie season home run record this campaign. Still, Hoskins should pick up his share of votes.

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Another Episode of How the Game Has Changed

Jerry Koosman ... 20-game winner for the Mets and the Twins.

Jerry Koosman … 20-game winner for the Mets and the Twins.

On this date (September 12) in 1969, the Mets – on their way to a World Series title – were in Pittsburgh for a doubleheader against the Pirates. Both games ended 1-0 in favor of the New Yorkers – and in both contests, the winning pitcher also drove in the only run.

In Game One, the Mets’ Jerry Koosman went the distance, giving up just three hits and three walks, while fanning four. He also drove in the winning (and only) tally with a single to right field off Pirates’ starter Bob Moose in the top of the fifth inning. It was Koosman’s fourteenth win of the season (versus nine losses).

In Game Two, the Mets’ Don Cardwell picked up his seventh win (versus nine losses), giving up just four hits over eight innings, while walking one and fanning three. (Tug McGraw pitched the ninth for his 12th save.) In the top of the second, Cardwell drove in the game’s only run with a single to left-center off Pirates’ starter Dock Ellis.

Now, you still see the occasional doubleheader, shutout and pitchers’ game-winning RBI (that final occurence more often in the NL, of course).  However, this game did cause me to reflect on “how the game has changed” over the years.  (Also, it gave me a chance to feature a Minnesota “favorite son,” Jerry Koosman – a career 222-game winner, who starred for the Mets and also was a 20-game winner for the Twins.) Here are just a few observations spurred by the anniversary of the New York/Pittsburgh double-dip.  Special note:  These are just observations, not judgements.

  • It was a doubleheader. (Don’t see many of those anymore.)

In 1969, MLB teams played 176 doubleheaders. Thus far, in 2017, there have been 29 doubleheaders (mostly split). Side note: The White Sox played a record 44 doubleheaders in 1943 and the Boston Braves played a record nine consecutive doubleheaders between September 4 and September 15, 1928 (18 games in 12 days). 

USED TO LOVE THOSE SUNDAY DOUBLE HEADERS

I always loved those Sunday two-for-one doubleheaders.  Of the 176 doubleheaders in 1969, 71 were Sunday twin bills. Over the course of the 1969 season, there were only three Sundays that didn’t feature at least one MLB doubleheader.

  • Total playing time for the TWO 1969 games was four hours and 21 minutes.

The QUICKEST two MLB games from yesterday (September 11) took a combined 5 hours and 37 minutes.

THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

In 1969, the average MLB game took 2 hours and 32 minutes.  In 2017 (through September 11), the average is 3 hours and 9 minutes.

  • The Mets and Pirates used a total of seven pitchers (and remember no DH) in that 1969 double-dip.

THE MORE THE MERRIER?

In 1969, fans could expect to see an average of 5.2 pitchers per game (both teams).  In 2017 (through September 11), that average is about three pitchers higher (8.3).

  • The starting pitchers in the Mets/Pirates twin bill were on the mound for 33 of the 36 innings.
  • The two winning pitchers fanned just seven batters in 17 innings. (The losing hurlers – Dock Ellis and Bob Moose – fanned 21 in 16 frames.

FANNNING FOR THE FANS?

In 1969, a fan could expect to see an average of 11.6 strikeouts per game (both teams).  In 2017 (as of September 11), that average is up to 16.7.

  • Jerry Koosman’s complete game shutout in the first game of the DH was his 13th complete game of the season – and his fourth complete-game shutout.

Koosman ended the season with 16 complete games and six shutouts and finished tied for ninth in the NL in compete games (Bob Gibson led with 28) and tied for fourth in shutouts (Juan Marichal led with eight). This season, as of  September 11, Erwin Santana of the Twins leads all of MLB in complete games with five and shutouts with three. Only Santana and Corey Kluber have more than two complete games and only Santana, Kluber and the Cardinals’ Carlos Martinez have more than one shutout.

  • There were, of course, no home runs in the doubleheader.

FANS DIG THE LONG BALL?

In 1969, MLB teams averaged approximately 1.6 home runs per game (both teams).  In 2017 (as of September 11) that average is 2.5. While that is only about one extra long ball per game, it is an increase of 57.5 percent.  

Again, just observations, no judgements.  Plus, a chance for younger fans to get a feel for how the game has changed over the years.

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