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.

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

Follow/Like the Baseball Roundtable Facebook page here.

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. 

The Hits Just Keep On Coming – Four-HR and Five-XBH Days

FIVE EXTRA BASE HITS IN A GAME

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 has 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 – except, instead of cleaning snatching the horsehide, Mahtook bumped/bounced it over the fence.  Then in the sixth inning, Ramirez hit a long line drive to right field, where Tigers’ RF Alex Pressley 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. As of September 4, he was .310-23-69 on the season (leading theleague in extra-base hits) – his fifth MLB campaign. The big day made Ramirez just the 13th player to record five extra-base hits in a game, the details on the other twelve are listed later in this post.

FOUR HOME RUNS IN A GAME

Then, the hits just kept on coming.  The very next day (September 4), The Diamondbacks’ J.D. Martinez tied another MLB slugging record – rapping four home runs in a single game, as his surging Diamondbacks dominated the Dodgers 13-0 in Los Angeles. The big day mde Martinez the 18th player in MLB history to accomplish that feat,  Here’s how Martinez’ day went:

  • A slow start, striking out swinging to lead off the second inning;
  • Two-run home run to left-center off starter Rich Hill in the top of the fourth;
  • Lead-off homer to right the top of the seventh off Pedro Baez;
  • Solo shot to center off Josh Fields in the eighth;
  • Two-run home run to left off Wilmer Font in the top of the ninth.

For the day, Martinez scored four times and drove in six runs. Martiinez was the second player to notch a four-homer game this seasson. The Reds’ Scotter Gennett was the first. For a look at all the four-home runs games that preceded Ramirez’ and some four-HR game trivia bits, click here.

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Now, here is the list of MLB Players (besides Jose Ramirez) with five extra base hits in a game.

George Streif, Philadelphia Athletics, American Association – June 15, 1885

On June 25, 1885 – as the Brooklyn Grays topped the Philadelphia Athletics, 21-14 in Brooklyn, the Athletics’ 3B George Streif become the first documented MLB player to collect five extra base hits in a single game.  He rapped four triples and a double – for 14 total bases. 1885 was the final year of Streif’s MLB career (1879, 1882-85). Over his career, he hit .208, with five home runs. The 1885 season was his best – as he finished with a stat line of .274-0-27 in 44 games.

George Streif’s four triples on June 15, 1885, remain the MLB record for triples in a game.

George Gore, Chicago White Stockings, NL – July 9, 1885

The second MLB player to record five hits in a game – like the first – was also a George.   In a July 9, 1885 game against the Providence Grays, Cubs’ outfielder George Gore collected three doubles and two triples. The Cubs won, at home, 8-5. In 1885, Gore hit .313, with five home runs and 37 RBI. In a 14-season MLB career (1879-1892), he hit .301-46-618.  His best year was 1880, when he won then NL batting championship with a .360 average, and posted two home runs and 47 RBI in 77 games. That season, he also led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Gore hit over .300 eight times in his career and led the NL in runs scored twice and walks three times.

George Gore also owns a share of the record for stolen bases in a single game at seven (June 25, 1881).

Larry Twitchell, Cleveland Spiders, NL – August 15, 1889

On August 15, 1889, Larry Twitchell started in LF for the Cleveland Spiders (versus the Boston Beaneaters) in Boston. Twitchell would later pitch a scoreless inning in that 19-8 Cleveland victory, but his bat is what earned him attention that day. Twitchell went six-for-six (with a walk), rapping a double, three triples, a home run and a single. Twitchell collected three RBI and scored four times in the game. Twitchell hit .275, with four home runs (11 triples) and 95 RBI on the season – arguably the best performance in his nine-year MLB career (1886-94). Twitchell’s career stat line was .263-19-384.  For those who like to stump friends with trivia, Twitchell is the only player who also took the mound on a day he collected five extra-base hits.

Lou Boudreau, Cleveland Indians, AL – July 14, 1946

On July 14, 1946 – as the Indians lost to the Red Sox 11-10 –  Indians’ shortstop Lou Boudreau went five-for-five, collecting four doubles and a home run. Boudreau scored three runs and collected four RBI in the game. Boudreau, who went .295-68-789 over 15 MLB seasons (1938-52), hit .293, with six home runs (30 doubles) and 62 RBI in 1946. In 1947, he had his best season ever – going .355-18-106.

Joe Adcock, Milwaukee Braves, NL – July 31, 1954

On the final day of July in 1954 – as his Braves beat the Dodgers 15-7 – 1B Joe Adcock rapped four home runs (tying the single game record) and a double.  His 18 total bases set the MLB record for a single game (later broken). Adcock scored five times and drove in seven runs in the game.  Adcock had a 17-season MLB career in which he hit .277, with 336 home runs and drove in 1,122 runs. In 1954, he went .308-23-87. His best season was 1961, when he went .285-35-108.

Willie Stargell, Pittsburgh Pirates, NL – August 1, 1970

Stargell was the big bopper on the day the Pirates topped the Atlanta Braves 20-10 in Atlanta. Stargell, playing LF, went five-for-six with two home runs, and three doubles.  He scored five runs and drove in six. For the season, he hit .264, with 31 home runs and 85 RBI. Hardly a great campaign for a player who, over 21 MLB seasons (1962-82), would hit .282, with 475 home runs and 1,540 RBI – topping forty home runs twice and 100 RBI five times and earning 1979 NL MVP recognition with a .281-32-82 season.

Steve Garvey, Los Angeles Dodgers, NL – August 28, 1977

On August 28, 1977 Dodgers’ starter Don Sutton threw a neat six-hit, complete-game shutout, as the Dodgers pounded the Cardinals 11-0 in LA.  The big news, however, focused on the number five – as the Dodgers’ popular first baseman, Steve Garvey, went five-for-five, with five runs scored, five RBI and a MLB record-tying five extra-base hits.

Garvey launched two home runs and a trio of doubles on his big day. For the 1977 season, Garvey hit .297, with 33 home runs and 115 RBI.  Over his 19-season MLB (1969-87) career, Garvey was a ten-time All Star and four-time Gold Glove winner.  His best season was probably 1974, when he won the NL MVP Award with a .312-21-111 performance – although he notched better numbers in many categories along the way. For example, in 1977, he hit .297 with career highs in home runs (33) and RBI (115). Garvey also twice led the NL in hits and logged six seasons of 200 or more safeties.  His final career line was .294-272-1,308 (with 2,599 hits).

Shawn Green, Los Angeles Dodgers, NL – May 23, 2002

SGreenOn May 23, 2002, the Dodgers topped the Brewers 16-3 in Milwaukee – and RF Shawn Green topped the Dodgers with six hits in six at bats, six runs scored and seven RBI. Green’s output included an MLB record-tying four home runs, a double and a single. On the season, Green hit .285-42-114 and, over a 15-season MLB career, his line was .283-328-1,070. Green’s best season was 2001, when he hit .297, with 49 home runs and 125 RBI.  Overall, he topped 40 home runs three times and had 100 or more RBI four times.

On May 23, 2002, the Dodgers’ Shawn Green hit for 19 total bases – the MLB record for total bases in a game.

Kelly Shoppach, Cleveland Indians, AL – July 30, 2008

Despite catcher Kelly Shoppach’s five-extra base hit game, the Indians lost to the Tigers (in Cleveland) by a 14-12 score.  Shoppach went five-for-six with two home runs and three doubles – scoring four times and collecting three RBI. On the season, Shoppach hit .261, with 21 home runs and 55 RBI in 112 games (the most games he would play in any of his nine MLB seasons).  Shoppach put up career-high numbers nearly across-the-board in 2008 (games-112; hits-92; runs-67; doubles-27; home runs-21; RBI-55; average-.261). Over his MLB career (2005-12), he hit .223, with 70 home runs and 216 RBI.

Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers, AL – May 8, 2012

Josh Hamilton was in CF, batting third for the Rangers as they took on the Orioles in Baltimore. He bashed four home runs (tying the MLB single-game record) and a double in five at bats – scoring four times and driving in eight, as the Rangers emerged victorious by a 10-3 score. Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, hit .285, with 43 home runs and 128 RBI in 2012. His best campaign was 2010, when he went .359-32-100. In a nine-year MLB career (2007-15), Hamilton put up a .290-200-701 line.

Jackie Bradley, Jr., Boston Red Sox, AL – August 15, 2015

In mid-August of 2015, Red Sox’ RF Jackie Bradley collected three doubles and a pair of home runs in six at bats, as his Red Sox pounded the Mariners 22-10 in Boston.  Bradley scored five times and plated seven tallies. Bradley finished the season at .249-10-43 in 74 games. As of September 4 of 2017, his fifth MLB season, Bradley had played 504 MLB games, putting up a .243-54-224 stat line.

Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs, NL – June 27, 2016

On June 27, 2016 – as the Cubs topped the Reds 11-8 in Cincinnati – Cubbies’ starting third baseman Kris Bryant rapped three home runs and two doubles in five at bats (crossing the plate four times and driving in six runs). Bryant proved to be truly on the move – also playing right field and left field in the game.  It was the 24-year-old Bryant’s second MLB season and he finished at .292-39-102 (with an NL-leading 121 runs scored). His performance earned him the NL MVP award. As of September 4, 2017 – just Bryant’s third MLB season – his career line was .285-90-260.

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Little League Provides Major League Highlight in August

There were plenty of highlights in August – pennant races, a trio of Immaculate Innings, landmark home runs by rookies and veterans, near-perfect games, a team hitting over .300 for the month and more.  We will get into all that in this post – the traditional Baseball Roundtable monthly wrap of stats and stories – but from this vantage point, the highlight of the month was MLB’s first-ever Little League Classic.

http://Embed from Getty Images

On August 20, MLB held its first Little League Classic (in conjunction with the Little League World Series).  It included an MLB game between the Pirates and Cardinals played in a venerable minor league ballpark (91-year-old Bowman Field) across town (Williamsport, PA) from the Little League World Series. The 2,366-seat ballpark was packed for the event – primarily with Little Leaguers and their families.

The Pirates came away with a 6-3 victory and the star of the contest was Pirates’ 1B and cleanup hitter Josh Bell, who had a single, home run (his 21st of the season) and four RBI. The real winners, however, were in Little League uniforms, as the Pirates and Cardinals players, coaches and staff spent most of the pre-game day mingling with the youngsters – touring the facilities, answering questions, signing autographs, taking selfies and watching their games. (How cool when the guy watching you in a Matt Carpenter jersey IS Matt Carpenter.) Cardinals’ players Tommy Pham and Carlos Martinez even popped for snow cones for the kids seated near them (200 snow cones in all) as they watched the Little Leaguers compete.

Clearly, the players (both Little League and Major League) and fans all had a good – no make that GREAT – time and I hope MLB will make the Little League Classic an annual event. In another effort to add excitement for players and fans, August also saw the first-ever MLB Players Weekend – bringing a little color to the game and offering players a chance to express themselves in personalized socks, equipment and nicknames.  For BBRT’s take on that successful promotion, click here.

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Now, let’s get down to the traditinal monthly wrap up.  As usual, there will be plenty of stats AND plenty of stories.  We’ll look at the month of August first – and drop in the year-to-date (through August 31) standings and stastical leaders at the end of the post.  For those who are less statistically inclined, it’s pretty easy to skip over the stat-heavy sections and go right to the stories that caught Baseball Roundtable’s interest over the course of the month.  Along the way, you’ll also find BBRT’s Players and Pitchers of the Month and a look at August’s most successful teams.

BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE’S AUGUST PLAYER(S) AND PITCHER(S) OF THE MONTH

National League Player of the Month – Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins

Giancarlo Stanton photo

Photo by Corn Farmer

What can you say about the numbers Giancarlo Stanton put up in August?  He was a beast. The Marlins’ RF banged out an MLB-leading 18 home runs (tying Rudy York’s record for August – set in 1937 – and second in MLB history for any month, trailing only Sammy Sosa’s 20 home runs in June of 1998.) Stanton also led all of MLB in August RBI (37) and runs scored (28), while hitting .349.  Our August NL Player of the Month, ended August at .289-51-110 on the season.  Also in the running, but well behind Stanton, were Phillies’ rookie Rhys Hoskins – who made his MLB debut August 10 – and put together a .304-11-25 line for the month. More on RH in the stories section. The Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt also had an honor-worthy month – .330-11-31.  But, ultimately and easily, Stanton is the guy.

National League Pitcher of the Month – Corey Knebel Brewers

BBRT’s NL Pitcher of the Month is Brewers’ closer Corey Knebel, who went 13-f0r-13 in save opportunities, posted a 0.00 ERA and fanned 21 batters in 15 1/3 innnigs.  Knebel – saving 13 of the Brewers’ 15 August wins – kept the Brew Crew in the NL Central race.

The Cubs’ Jake Arrieta also drew consideration after an August record of 4-1, with a 1.21 ERA in six starts, as  did the Nationals’ Geo Gonzalez,who who went 4-1, 2.23 in five starts (but for a loss and five earned run in six innings on August 31, Gonzalez might have slipped past Knebel.

AL Player of the Month – Manny Machado, Orioles

Manny Machado photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Picking an AL Player of the Month was a bit more challenging than selecting Giancarlo Stanton for the NL recognition. Ultimately, BBRT selected Orioles’ 3B Manny Machado, who hit .341, led the AL in RBI (35) and tied for the league lead in August home runs (12) – while also continuing to deliver plus defense at the hot corner. One unusual stat from Machado’s August performance – despite his strong numbers, he only drew three walks over the entire  month (also only 11 strikeouts).

Running a very close second was Tim Beckham, who celebrated his move from the Rays to the O’s (and his new job as the Orioles’ shortstop) by leading MLB with 50 August hits and a .394 average. Beckham also led the AL in runs scored for August with 27 – and added six home runs and 19 RBI. Before joining the Orioles, Beckham’s 2017 line with the Rays was .259-12-36 in 87 games. Looks like crab cakes agree with him. I also looked at the Rangers’ ageless Adrian Beltre, who went .330-7-30 for the month (one of only five major leaguers to reach 30 RBI).

AL Pitcher of the Month – Corey Kluber, Indians

Corey Kluber photo

Photo by apardavila

Corey Kluber earned the honor by going 5-1, with a sub-2.00 ERA (1.96) in six starts. The Indians’ righty averaged 7 2/3 innings per start and fanned an MLB-leading  54 batters (against just six walks) in 46 innings.  In his six starts (including a pair of complete games), Kluber never gave up more than six hits and only once surrended more than two runs (three).  In his only loss, he gave up two runs on four hits  in 7 2/3 innnigs, while walking one and fanning 12.

Also in the runnig were the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy, who went 4-0, 2.00 in four starts, fanning 45 in 36 innings; the Indians’ Trevor Bauer (5-0, 2.31); and the Rays’ Alex Colome, ten-for-ten in save opportunities, with a 0.75 ERA for the month.

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TEAM STATS – TWINS AND NATIONALS; MOST AUGUST WINS

We saw a bit of shifting in the standings in August.  First, nobody won more games (or even as many) as the Twins, who went 20-10 and moved into the second AL Wild Card spot. Ironically, Minnesota closed out July by losing six of their last seven and became sellers rather than buyers at the trade deadline (most notably dealing their All Star closer Brandon Kintzler). Then, in August, their young bats got hot and the Twin scored an AL-high 177 runs. Among the keys to the Twins’ resurgence were 24-year-old SS Jorge Polanco (.373-6-23 for the month); veteran (and former AL MVP) 1b Joe Mauer (.336-1-12); 23-year-old CF and defensive whiz Byron Buxton (.324-8-22); and 25-year-old LF Eddie Rosario (.307-9-25). Overall, the Twins hit .280 with 50 roundtrippers for August (both second only to Baltimore in the AL), and also logged the fifth-best staff ERA in the AL (3.78).

ROLLING A 300

In August, the Orioles hit .306 as a team – the only MLB squad to hit .300 or better.  They also led all of MLB with 57 August round trippers.  The only other team to reach 50 was the Twins. 

While the  Twins moved into a Wild Card spot, they didn’t gain much ground on the Central Division-leading Indians, who rode a pitching staff with the AL’s best August ERA (3.08), fewest walks and most strikeouts to a 19-win (versus nine losses) month. Leading the way for the Indians were Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer – a combined 10-1, 2.11 for the month. Other AL teams hot during the dog days of August were the Red Sox (18-9), Angels (18-10) and Orioles (17-12).  At the other end of the spectrum were the White Sox (11-18); Tigers (11-17) and A’s (11-16). The Red Sox’ strong month enabled them to overtake (and build a 4 1/2 game lead over) the Yankees, who were in first place August 1, but faded with a 14-15 record for the month.

RUNS – WE DON’T COUNT THE STINKIN’ RUNS

Of the teams that would qualify for the playoffs as of August 31, only the Twins have a negative run-differential on the season – having scored 646 runs and given up 661 for a -15. The Dodgers have the largest postive run differential year-to-date at +209, while the Padres have the largest negative at -150.  (Ouch!)

The Nationals led the pack in the NL, with 18 wins (versus 11 losses) – driven by a pitching staff that turned in an NL -low ERA of 3.19 for the month. The names of the biggest contributors might surprise you. Gio Gonzalez was the staff leader at 4-1, 2.23 in five August starts and in the bullpen, trade-deadline newcomer Sean Doolittle chipped in nine saves and a 1.38 ERA. The offense wasn’t bad, tallying the NL’s fifth-most runs for the month, but it was really the pitching that enabled the Nats to expand their division lead by a game, despite the Marlins solid 17-12 August (led by Giancarlo Stanton’s .349-18-37 performance). The Dodgers lost their last five games in August, but still finished 17-10 – with a 16-game lead over the Diamondbacks. At the bottom of the NL’s August results were the Mets (10-20) and the Phillies (11-19).

As we go into September, the closest division races are in the NL Central, where the Cubs lead the Brewers by 3 1/2 and the AL East, where the Red Sox lead the Yankees by 4 1/2.  The team farthest out of first place is the Giants, 40 games out. The best race going may be for the two AL Wild Card spots – with a 3 1/2 game spread among the Yankees, Twins, Angels and Orioles.  FULL STANDINGS AND EACH TEAM’S AUGUST RECORD IN THE CHART NEAR THE END OF THE POST. 

IF THE SEASON ENDED AUGUST 31, YOUR PLAYOFF TEAMS WOULD BE …

NL: Dodgers, Nationals, Cubs.  Wild Cards: Diamondbacks, Rockies

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

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NOW FOR AUGUST TEAM STATISTICAL LEADERS

TEAM BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST

Runs Scored (MLB Average – 132)

NL: Cubs – 191; Reds – 165; Cardinals – 162

AL: Twins – 177; Orioles – 175; Rangers – 156

FEWEST TALLIES

No team scored fewer runs in August than the Rays, with just 94 – the only team with less than 100 tallies for the month. The Brewers trailed all NL teams with just 103 August runs. The Padres had the lowest team batting average for the month at just .225 (the NL average was .254); while the Rays put up the lowest average in the AL at .228 (leaguer average – .258).

Average (MLB Average – .256)

NL:  Cubs – .290; Cardinals – .280; Braves – .273

AL: Orioles – .306; Twins – .280; Rangers – .275

SLUGGING PERCENTAGE

The Orioles were the only team  with a slugging percentage above .500 for the month (.534 – more than 100 points above the MLB average for August), while three teams finished with slugging percentages under .400 (Pirates – .367; Padres – .381; Giants – .392).

Home Runs (MLB Average – 37)

NL: Reds -49; Cubs – 48; D-backs – 42

AL:  Orioles – 57; Twins – 50; Indians – 46

Stolen Bases (MLB Average – 15)

NL: Reds – 20; Nationals – 19; Padres & Brewers – 18

AL: Angels- 27; Red Sox – 25;  Twins – 22

 GOTCHA!

The only teams to swipe fewer than ten bases in August were the Pirates, Cardinals and Orfioles (nine each). Atlanta had the worst success rate – with 14 steals in 25 attempts (56 percent). Cleveland was successful a MLB-best 89 percent in August (17-for-19). 

Walks (MLB Average – 92)

NL: Reds – 141; Cardinals – 114; Cubs – 110

AL: Twins – 106; Red Sox – 104; Angels & Rangers – 103

FREE SWINGERS

When you talk about free swingers, look to the Brewers and Cubs, who each fanned an MLB-leading 274 times in August.  The White Sox led the AL with 265 . 

 TEAM PITCHING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST

Earned Run Average (MLB average – 4.38)

NL: Nationals – 3.30; Dodgers – 3.60; Brewers – 3.72

AL: Indians – 3.08; Rays – 3.34; Angels – 3.62

Send Reinforcements. Quickly!

Seven teams had ERAs over 5.00 for August – topped by the Royals at 5.89. Then came the Tigers (5.69); White Sox (5.63); Reds (5.42); Phillies (5.40); and A’s (5.26); and Mariners (5.03). 

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB average – 132)

NL: Dodgers – 97; Nationals – 98; Brewers – 111

AL: Indians – 87; Rays – 96; Angels – 110

Strikeouts (MLB Average – 230)

NL: Dodgers – 260; Cubs – 259; Mets – 255

AL: Indians – 290; Yankees – 268; Red Sox – 266

FATTENING UP THE OLD AVERAGES

Opponents hit a lusty .294 against Tiger pitching in August (MLB’s worst Batting Average Against). The Phillies’ staff was the most accommodating in the NL at .287.

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB Average – 92)

NL: Dodgers – 71; Rockies – 75; Giants – 82

AL: Indians – 68; Twins – 70; Rays – 71

POWER AND PRECISION

The league leaders in August pitchers’ strikeouts – Dodgers and Indians – also each gave up the fewest walks in thier leagues. I guess they were not only throwing hard – but knew where the ball was going. 

Saves (MLB average – 8)

NL: Brewers – 14; D-backs – 13; three with 10

AL: Angels – 12; Mariners &  Rays – 11

Blown Saves

The Royals’ pen blew the most saves in August with six – and also had the lowest save percentage (40 percent).

Now on to the MLB August stats and stories.

 

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YOU’VE SEEN SOME (TEAM) STATS, HOW ABOUT A FEW AUGUST STORIES?

THE RH FACTOR

HoskinsThere were some “powerful” stories in August.  Number-one – at least from Baseball Roundtable’s vantage point – was the fast start of RH, Phillies’ rookie Rhys Hoskins. The 24-year-old rookie LF/1B made his debut August 10 (He was hitting .284, with 29 home runs and 91 RBI for the Triple A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.).In his first major league at bat, 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.  Then between, August 14 and 27, Hoskins went on a tear – 18-for-51 (.353) in 14 games, with 11 home runs and 23 RBI.   That gave Hoskins the record (we do track everything in baseball) for the fewest games played by a player reaching 11 home runs (18), as well as the fewest at bats to reach that number (64). Note: Hoskins was also the fastest to reach the nine- and ten-home run marks, but who’s counting. And,  just to top it off, young Mr. Hoskins – on August 27 –  made a sliding, shoestring catch to start a 7-4-3 triple play.

6 – 20- 25: CUBS LUCKY NUMBERS

On August 30, Cubs’ 22-year-old rookie Ian Happ (who, by the way, has played second base, third base and all three outfield positions this season) hit his 20th home run of 2017.  Nice job for a rookie – and he helped set an MLB record (another that falls into the “We count everything” category). With that homer, the Cubs became the first team with six players, age 25-or-under with 20 home runs.  The others are: Anthony Rizzo (31 HR this season); Kris Bryant (25); Kyle Schwarber (24); Wilson Contreras (21); Javier Baez (20).

FORTY-FOUR GOING ON THIRTY

Bartolo Colon - now a Twin - made a couple stops in New York on his way to topping all thirty franchises. Photo by Terry Foote

Bartolo Colon –
now a Twin –
made a couple stops in New York on his way to topping all thirty franchises.
Photo by Terry Foote

On August 20, the Twins (still in the Wild Card chase, looked to 44-year-old July pickup Bartolo Colon to win a big game (against the Diamondbacks) for Minnesota. Colon, in his twentieth MLB season, came through – going six innings (seven hits, two walks, four runs and six strikeouts) in 12-5 Twins win.  (The nine runs the Twins put on the board in the first inning certainly helped.) It was Colon’s third win in five decisions (with a 4.46 ERA in seven starts) since joining the Twins. Colon had been 2-8, 8.14 with the Braves at the time of the trade.

That’s not what made this contest special, however. Colon’s victory was his first against the Diamondbacks and made him the 18th pitcher to record a victory against all thirty current MLB franchises. On his way to completing the victory circuit, Colon (who ended August with 239 MLB wins) pitched for the Indians, Expos, White Sox, Angels, Athletics, Mets, Braves and Twins. Here is your list of pitchers who have carved a victory notch in their belt (a little Bartolo-pun there) against each of the thirty franchises: Al Leiter; Kevin Brown; Terry Mulholland, Curt Schilling; Woody Williams; Jamie Moyer; Randy Johnson; Barry Zito; A.J. Burnett; Javier Vazquez; Vincente Padilla; Derek Lowe; Dan Haren; Kyle Lohse; Tim Hudson; John Lackey; Max Scherzer; Bartolo Colon.   Colon, by the way, had a strong August – going 4-1, 3.40 for the month – and helping the Twins stay in the Wild Card hunt. 

21 – GOING PAST 30

On August 2, Dodgers’ 21-year-old rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger hit his 30th home run of the 2017 seasons (in a Dodgers 5-3 loss to the Braves). The long ball made Bellinger just the tenth NL rookie to reach the 30-HR mark. Bellinger ended the month of August 34 home runs on the season,well within striking distance of the NL rookie record of 38 (shared by the Braves’ Wally Berger, 1930 and the Reds’ Frank Robinson, 1956).  The overall record for rookies – 49 by the Mark McGwire of the A’s in 1987) seems out of reach.  Surprisingly, despite his 34 dingers, Bellinger does not lead MLB rookies in 2017 homeruns.  That honor goes to the Yankees’ Aaron Judge with 37 at the end of August.

A SHIFTY SITUATION

Dylan Bundy, suffered a shift-beating, no-hitter stopping buntsingle. Photo by Keith Allison

Dylan Bundy,
suffered a shift-beating, no-hitter stopping bunt single.
Photo by Keith Allison

On August 29, Dylan Bundy of the Orioles got the start against the Mariners – and came away with a complete-game, shutout victory (4-0). He almost came away with a whole lot more, however. With one out in the fourth inning, Bundy had allowed three base runners – one on an error and two on walks – and no hits. That brought up Mariners’ 3B Kyle Seager and brought on a defensive shift that moved Orioles’ 3B Manny Machado over to shortstop territory and left the hot corner vacant. Seager beat the shift with a bunt toward first base, logging the Mariners’ first hit.

Seager’s shift-beating bunt single would, ultimately, turn out to be the Mariners’ ONLY hit – as Bundy allowed only a safe-on-error and hit-by-pitch the rest of the way.  He finished with a one-hit, twelve-strikeout shutout.  For another August near no-hitter that caught my eye, read on after the sidebar box below.

WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE SHIFT HIT THE FANS?

Probably in the stands.  In the 2017 edition of the “Bill James Handbook” (Acta Sports, Chicago Il), writer/researcher John Dewan reports that MLB teams used defensive shifts 2,350 times in 2011 – and 28,074 times in 2016.  (Note: I highly recommend the Bill James Handbook, lots of great info for fans.)

On August 23, Dodgers’ southpaw Rich Hill took a perfect game (versus the Pirates) into the ninth inning, only to lose the “perfecto” on an error by LA third baseman Logan Forsythe on a ball hit by the leadoff hitter in the ninth (Pittsburgh SS Jordy Mercer). Hill got the next three hitters to keep the shutout and no-hitter intact. Unfortunately, for Hill, Pirates’ hurlers Trevor Williams (eight innings) and Felipe Rivero (one inning) held the Dodgers scoreless. Juan Nicosia came on to pitch a clean tenth for Pittsburgh – setting the stage for heartbreak. Pirates’ 2B Josh Harrison led off the tenth with a walk-off home run.   Hill not only lost the perfect game, but also the no-hitter, shutout and the game itself.  His line in the loss: nine innings pitched, one hit, one run, ten strikeouts.  For more on perfect games lost late, click here.

ANOTHER IMMACULATE INNING

In the month of August, three pitchers threw Immaculate Innings (three strikeouts on nine pitches):

  • Dellin Betances, Yankees – August 2 versus Tigers (Jim Adduci, Justin Upton, Miguel Cabrera)
  • Jose Alvarado, Rays – August 4 versus Brewers (Travis Shaw, Jesus Aguilar, Herman Perez)
  • Rick Porcello, Red Sox – August 9 versus Rays (Trevor Plouffe, Wilson Ramos, Mallex Smith)

This brings 2017’s total Immaculate Innings to an MLB single-season record eight. For more on Immaculate Innnigs, click here.

I LIKE IKE
Okay, you have to be pretty old to remember the Presidential campaign slogan “I Like Ike,” but you don’t have to be very old to like Ike Davis, who once had a 32-homer season while playing 1B for the Mets.  Davis, who hit .239, with 81 home runs and 291 RBI in seven MLB seasons is working to  revitalize his career (at age 30) as a relief pitcher in the Dodgers’ system. Not a total surprise, Ike’s dad – Ron Davis – racked up 130 saves in 11 MLB seasons and young Ike pitched in relief for Arizona State. (It was the Ron Davis connection – he came in to close for my home town Twins to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger” – that captured my attention.)

In his first appearance in the Arizona Fall League, Davis pitched one inning – striking out the side. As August ended, Davis had thrown 5 2/3 Fall League innings without surrenduring an earned run (three hits, four walks, six strikeouts).  Side note: in 2015, Davis made two pitching appearances for the Oakland A’s, giving up one hit and one walk (no runs) and fanning one. (He also played 65 games at 1B.)

A LONG WAY FROM HOME

The Angels’ Albert Pujols hit five home runs in August, bringing his season total to 21. Like most of Pujols’ long flies these days, they were a bit historic.  They brought his career total 612– moving him past  Sammy Sosa (609) and giving Pujols the most MLB home runs of any foreign-born player.  They also enabled Pujols  to catch Jim Thome for seventh place all time on the HR list.  Pujols finished August at .232-21-83.  Next up – Ken Griffey Jr. 630.

COMPARING THE KIDS

Bryce Harper photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On August 7, as the Nationals topped the Marlins 3-2, Bryce Harper hit his 150th career round tripper – becoming only the 14th player to reach that milestone before reaching age 25. Harper, of course, is often compared to another young MLB Star – the Angels’ Mike Trout.  Trout also hit 150 long balls before 25.  In fact, Harper and Trout reached that milemarker at EXACTLY the same age – 24-year and 295-days.

 

 

RUN THAT BY ME AGAIN

The Ray’s 3B Evan Longoria opened August with a bang – an August first cycle. Longoria’s cycle included a two-run home run in the first inning; a run-scoring triple in the third; a fly out to second in the fifth; a single in the seventh.   Then with two out in the ninth, and needing a double to complete the cycle, he hit a liner down the left-field and turned on the after-burners.  The play ended in a head-first slide into second – and Longoria called out. After a review, however, the call was overturned and Longoria had run/slid his way into the record books – by way of the replay.

KNOW A GOOD RESEARCHER?

On August 29th, the Twins’ Jorge Polanco became just the fifth Twin to homer from both sides of the plate in a game (as the Twins topped the White Sox 6-4). That’s not what caught my eye, however (after all, it has been done more than 300 times – a record 14 by Mark Teixiera and Nick Swisher). What intrigued me was that, the following day, LF Ehire Adrianza became just the third Twin to hit a triple from both sides of the plate in a game (joining Polanco and Christian Guzman). If there are any great researchers out there who can answer this question, it could save me a lot of time.  How many times has that been done?

13 – LUCKY AND UNLUCKY

On August 19, the red-hot Dodgers topped the Tigers 3-0 in Detroit.  It was the Dodgers 13th interleague victory of the 2017 season – tying a record for consecutive interleague victories shared by the 2004 Tigers and 2006 Red Sox. The win was also the Dodgers sixth in a row and 13th (against just three losses) in August.  Thirteen, however, also marked the end of the streak. In the next game, a pair of Justins brought justice to Detroit – as the Tigers topped LA 6-1, with Justin Erlanger giving up just two hits, one  walk and one run (nine strikeouts) over eight innings and LF Justin Upton stroking a two-run home run.  Side note: Two key Justins (Upton and Verlander) were traded away by the Tigers in  September. 

SOUTHPAW TAKES NORTHERNMOST SPOT IN THE RECORD BOOKS

cC sABATHIA photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On August 19, Yankee veteran southpaw C.C. Sabathia picked up his tenth win of the seasons (10-5, 3.99) as the Yankees topped the rival Red Sox 4-3 in Boston. Sabathia went six innings and gave up four hits and two runs, walking one and fanning four.    His second strikeout of the game – Chris Young for the second out in the second inning –  gave Sabathia 2,680 AL strikeouts; setting a new record for AL lefthanders. (Mickey Lolich had held the record at 2,679). Sabathia, in his 17th MLB season ended the month 11-5, 3.70 on the season.  For his career (as of August 31), he is 234-146,  3.70 – with 2,822 strikeouts in 3,289 2/3 innings.

 

EDDIE MATHEWS, FRANK ROBINSON, MIKE TROUT – HITING ‘EM HARD AND HITTING ‘EM EARLY

On August 19, Mike Trout hit his 25th and 26th round trippers of the season as the Angels beat the Orioles 5-1 in Baltimore. In the process, Trout became just the third MLB player to have six seasons of 25 or more home runs before his age-26 season. He joined Hall of Famers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson with that distinction.  For the full story, click here.

SPEED KILLS – IN A GOOD WAY

bYRON bUXTON tWINS photo

Photo by Keith Allison

August was a big month for MLB’s speed merchants, as eight players recorded inside-the-park home runs – the most in a month in forty years. At the top of my list is Twins’ CF Byron Buxton (Disclaimer: I am from Minnesota, so I am a bit biased on this one.)  Statcast™  clocked Buxton circling the bases in 13.85 second on August 18 (in Minnesota versus the Diamondbacks), breaking his own Statcast™ record of 14.05 seconds set last October 2. Here’s your list of August I-T-P home runs.

 

 

August 7, Javier Baez, SS, Cubs (versus Giants).

August 12, David Peralta, LF, D-backs (versus Cubs)

August 17, Daniel Descalso, 2B, D-backs (versus Astros)

August 18, Byron Buxton, CF, Twins (versus D-backs)

August 18, Nicky Delmonico, DH, White Sox (versus Rangers)

August 19, Denard Span, CF, Giants (versus Phillies)

August 22, Nick Castellanos, 3B, Tigers (versus Yankees)

August 24, J.T. Realmuto, 1B, Marlins (versus Phillies)

ALL STAR ALL AROUND THE BASES

In 2007, Ichiro Suzuki became the first (and still only) player to hit an inside-the-park home run in the All Star Game. 

ANOTHER ANGLE ON SPEED

On August 16, Padres 1B Wil Meyers turned on the after-burners.  In the fourth inning of that game, with a runner on second and two out, Meyers broke up a scoreless game with a run-scoring single to left. Myers then stole second and, after catcher Austin Hedges walked, successfully stole third. Meyer topped off his inning successful stealing home on the front end of a double steal. It was just the 51st time in MLB history that a player stole second, third and home in one inning. Forty-one different players have stolen their way around the bases in an inning, with only four doing it more than once in their careers: Ty Cobb (four times); Honus Wagner (four times): Max Carey (twice); Jackie Tavener (twice).

“WHIFF “- EL BALL

Yankee rookie phenom Aaron Judge set a new single-season  major league record for consecutive games with a strike out by a position player at 37 (July 8 – August 20) topping Adam Dunn’s 2012 record of 32 (with the White Sox). Judge also broke pitcher Bill Stoneman’s overall single-single season (1971) record for consecutive games played with a strikeout (35) and tied Stoneman’s record for consecutive games played with strikeout of 37 over more than one seasons (set in 1971-72). For more on Judge’s streak, click here.

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SO MUCH FOR STORIES – NOW, AUGUST STATISTICES

 

—–INDIVIDUAL BATTING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST—-

Average (minimum 50 at bats)

NL:  Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – .383; Jonathan Villar, Brewers – .364; Ender Inciarte, Braves – .362

AL: Avisail Garcia, White Sox – .423; Tim Beckman, Orioles – .394; Christian Vazquez, Red Sox – .385

Reverse Order

The lowest batting average for a player with at least 50 at bats in August was .113 – Adam Engel of the White Sox (9-for-80). In the NL, that dubious spot on the BA list went to Dominic Smith of the Mets at .164 (11-for-67).

Home Runs

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 18; Rhys Hoskins, Phillies & Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 11

AL: Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays, Gary Sanchez, Yankees & Manny Machado, Orioles – 12

RBI

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 37; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 31; Anthony Rizzo, Cubs – 30

AL: Manny Machado, Orioles – 35; Adrian Beltre, Rangers – 30; Justin Upton, Tigers & Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays – 27

Runs Scored

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 28; Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 27; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 26

AL: Tim Beckham, Orioles & Brian Dozier, Twins – 27; Mike Trout, Angels – 26

Stolen Bases

NL:  Billy Hamilton, Reds – 11; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 10; Starling Marte, Pirates – 7

AL: Rajai Davis, A’s, Whit Merrifield, Royals & Andrew Benitendi, Red Sox – 9

Walks

NL:  Joey Votto, Reds – 35; Eugene Suarez, Reds – 24; Matt Carpenter, Cardinals – 21

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 27;  Aaron Judge, Yankees – 23; Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 22

A SWING AND A MISS

Nobody fanned more in August than Yankee rookie Aaron Judge with 41 whiffs in 92 at bats. Over in the NL, the Phillies’ Nick Williams led the swing-and-miss parade with 37 strikeouts in 106 at bats.

—–INDIVIDUAL PITCHING LEADERS FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST—–

Wins

NL:  Jake Arrieta, Cubs – 4-1, 1.21; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals – 4-1, 2.23; Jeff Samardzija, Giants – 4-1, 3.05; Zach Davies, Brewers, 4-2, 2.06; Pat Corbin, D-backs – 4-2, 2.52

AL:  Trevor Bauer,  Indians 5-0, 2.32; Corey Kluber, Indians – 5-1, 1.96; Rick Porcello, Red Sox – 5-1, 4.04; Martin Perez, Rangers – 5-1, 4.19

ERA (Minimum 25 June innings)

NL:  Jake Arrieta, Cubs – 1.21; Mike Montgomery, Cubs – 1.73; Zach Davies, Brewers – 2.06

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 1.96; Dylan Bundy, Oriole – 2.00; Drew Pomeranz, Red Sox – 2.28

Ouch!

The worst ERA among pitchers with at least four starts or 15 innings pitched in August went to the Phillies’ Nick Pivetta, who put up a 11.57 ERA  and a 1-3 record in five August starts.  In the AL, given those parameters, the highest ERA goes to Ian Kennedy of the Royals (0-4, 9.57).  On the other side of the coin, the most innings pitched by a hurler with an August ERA of 0.00 was 15 1/3 by Brewers’ closer Corey Knebel. 

Strikeouts

NL: Jacob deGrom, Mets – 44 (39 IP); Patrick Corbin, D-backs – 42 (39 1/3 IP); two with 39

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 54 (46 IP); Chris Sale, Red Sox – 53 (37 IP);  Justin Verlander, Tigers – 50 (42 IP)

Saves

NL:  Corey Knebel, Brewers – 13; Fernando Rodney, D-backs – 12; Brad Zeigler, Marlins & Sean Doolittle, Nationals – 9

AL: Edwin Diaz, Mariners & Alex Colome, Rays – 10; Robert Osuna, Blue Jays – 9

______________________________________________________

NOW, A LOOK AT THE STANDINGS AS OF (END OF DAY) AUGUST 31

AND THEN THE YEAR-TO-DATE (THROUGH AUGUST 31) TEAM AND INDIVIDUAL STATS

aUGUSTSTD

______________________________________________

NOW FOR ALL YOU STAT LOVERS, HERE WE GO.

—–TEAM BATTING LEADERS THROUGH AUGUST—–

Average (MLB Average – .255)

NL: Rockies – .273; Nationals – .272; Marlins – .265

AL: Astros – .284; Orioles – .268; Red Sox – .261

TALLY-HO

The Orioles have the top batting average with runners in scoring position through August at .303 (the only team over .300). The NL lead in average with runners in scoring position is shared by the Rockies and Nationals at .297.

Runs Scored: (MLB average – 621)

NL: Nationals – 704; Rockies – 681; Cubs – 675

AL: Astros – 735; Yankees – 689; Rangers – 672

 TALLY-NO!

The Padres have plated the fewest runs through August (509). At the bottom of the AL, you’ll find the White Sox at 567.

Toronto has the lowest batting average with runners in scoring position (through August) at .222. The Padres are at the bottom of the NL at .228. (MLB average – .260)

The Giants have proven the most power challenged with an MLB-low 104 home runs through August – 101 behind MLB leader Baltimore.  Boston has the fewest round trippers in the AL at 140.

Home Runs (MLB Average – 169)

NL: Mets & Cubs – 193; Brewers – 192

AL:  Orioles – 205; Rangers & Astros -204

 SWINGING ON THE AIR WAVES

Brewers’ batters are “hitting the air waves” this season, with 1,314 strikeouts through August. The AL leader is the Rays, with 1,287. 

Stolen Bases (MLB Average – 70)

NL: Brewers – 107; Reds – 103; Nationals – 88

AL: Angels – 115; Rangers – 102; Red Sox – 90

—–TEAM PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH AUGUST  —–

ERA (MLB average – 4.35)

NL: Dodgers – 3.20; D-backs – 3.64; Nationals – 3.89

AL: Indians –  3.57; Red Sox 3.71; Yankees – 3.81

HOW DO YOU SPELL RELIEF?

The Dodgers boast MLB’s best relief ERA through August at 2.90, but the Indians aren’t far behind at 3.01. The Tigers have the only bullpen ERA over 5.00 at 5.20.

The Dodgers’ staff also has the best starting rotation ERA at 3.38. Clevand is best in the AL at 3.87.  Each league’s worst starters’ ERA?  The Reds (5.87) and Orioles (5.59).

Fewest Runs Allowed (MLB average – 621)

NL: Dodgers – 447; D-backs –  543; Nationals – 557

AL: Indians – 496; Red Sox – 553; Yankees – 560

WILD AND CRAZY

Through August, no team’s staff has hit more batters than the Padres with 44 HBP.  The Astros top the AL with 43 HBP.  San Diego also tops the NL with 44 wild pitches, second in MLB to the A’s 48. The Giants’ staff goes easy on hitters – they are the only team with less than 20 HBP (18).  Most often victimized? Pirates’ hitters have been plunked an MLB-leading 75 times; while Nationals’ batters have spent the least time rubbing out pain – being hit just twenty times (no other team has suffered fewer than 30 HBP). 

Strikeouts (MLB average – 1,097)

NL: Dodgers – 1,251; D-backs – 1,225; Nationals – 1,189

AL: Astros – 1,315; Indians – 1,312; Red Sox – 1,273

Fewest Walks Allowed (MLB average – 434)

NL: Dodgers – 356; Cardinals – 399; Nationals & Pirates – 405

AL:  Indians – 349; Red Sox – 373; Angels – 391

Saves (MLB Average – 33)

NL: Brewers – 46; Dodgers – 43; Rockies – 41

AL: Rays – 46; Blue Jays – 38; Twins – 37

BONUS STAT – HAVE AN OUT ON US

The Oakland A’s have given away the most free outs (errors made) this season at 105. Over in the NL that dubious distinction goes to the Brewers at 97. (MLB average – 78 errors.) The Royals and Rockies have committed the fewest errors through August (59) – and share the best fielding percentage at .988

__________________________________

ENOUGH OF TEAM STATS, LET’S MOVE ON TO …

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICAL LEADERS THROUGH AUGUST 31

Batting Average

NL:  Charlie Blackmon, Rockies- .339; Justin Turner, Dodgers – .327; Bryce Harper, Nationals – .326

AL: Jose Altuve, Astros –  .355; Avisail, Garcia, White Sox – .324; Eric Hosmer, Royals – .318

EVERY COIN HAS TWO SIDES

The lowest average through August (minimum 250 at bats) belongs to the Rays’ Danny Espinosa at .164 (41-for-250).  The Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber has the NL’s bottom spot at .199 (72-for-362). Just five  players with at least 250 at bats are under the Mendoza line. In addition to Espinosa and Schwarber, that list includes the: Rangers’ Mike Napoli (.195); Rays’ Brad Miller (.196); Royals’ Alex Gordon (.199).    

Home Runs

NL: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 51; Cody Bellinger, Dodgers & Joey Votto, Reds – 34

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 37; Khris Davis, A’s, Joey Gallo, Rangers & Khris Davis, A’s – 36

LIKE FREE SWINGERS?

Three MLB players – all in the AL – have fanned at least 170 times this season: Aaron Judge, Yankees (176); Khris Davis, A’s (175); Miguel Sano, Twins (170). Note: Those three have been productive despite the whiffs, with a combined stat line of  .258-101-250.

RBI

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 111; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 110; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 109

AL: Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 101; Johnathon Schoop, Orioles – 100; Justin Upton, Tigers/Angels – 94

Runs Scored

NL: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 120; Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins – 103; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 100

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 99; George Springer, Astros – 92; Jose Altuve, Astros – 89

Stolen Bases

NL:  Billy Hamilton, Reds – 55; Dee Gordon, Marlins – 48; Trea Turner, Nationals – 37

AL: Cameron Maybin, Angels & Jose Altuve, Astros – 29; Rajai Davis, A’s & Jarrod Dyson, Mariners – 28

Walks

NL:  Joey Votto, Reds – 113; Matt Carpenter, Cardinals – 89; Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs – 85

AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees – 99; Edwin Encarnacion, Indians – 89; Jose Bautista, Blue Jays – 74.

JUST WAVE ‘EM OVER

No player has drawn more intentional walks this season then the D-backs’ Paul Goldschmidt  and Reds’ Joey Votto – each with 14. Mike Trout of the Angels leads the AL with 13.

—–PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH THE MONTH OF AUGUST—–

Wins

NL:   Zack Greinke, D-backs – 16-6, 3.08Zach Davies, Brewers – 16-7, 3.85; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 15-2, 2.04

AL:  Chris Sale, Red Sox – 15-6, 2.77; four with 14

ERA (Minimum 125 innings)

NL:  Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 2.04; Max Scherzer, Nationals – 2.21; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals – 2.58

AL:  Corey Kluber, Indians – 2.63; Chris Sale, Red Sox – 2.77; Marcos Stroman, Blue Jays – 3.11

BANG ‘EM HIGH

The Mariners’ Ariel Miranda gave up the most home runs through August at 35 (150 1/3 IP). The NL leader is the Cubs’ John Lackey (32 in 141 IP). 

The highest opponents’ batting average  (at least 100 IP) belongs to the Twins’ (and Braves’) Bartolo Colon (.327). The only other pitchers with a Batting Average Against of .300+ are the Giants’ Matt Cain (.316); Tigers’ Jordan Zimmerman (.312); Padres’ Clayton Richard (.309);  Rangers’ Martin Perez (.304) and Twins’ Kyle Gibson (.303).

Strikeouts

NL: Max Scherzer, Nationals – 230 (167 1/3 IP); Jacob deGrom, Mets – 206 (178 2/3 IP); Zack Greinke, D-backs – 188 (172 1/3 IP)

AL: Chris Sale, Red Sox – 264 (185 1/3 IP); Chris Archer, Rays – 225 (179 1/3 IP); Corey Kluber, Indians – 215 (160 2/3 IP)

K’S PER NINE

Among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched, the Red Sox’ Chris Sale has fanned an MLB-best 12.8 batters per nine innings through August. The NL leader is the Nationals’ Max Scherzer at 12.4. The only other pitcher to fan at least 12 per nine innings is the Indians’ Corey Kluber at 12.0.

Saves

NL:  Greg Holland Rockies – 36; Kenley Jansen, Dodgers – 35;  Fernando Rodney, D-backs – 34

AL: Alex Colome, Rays – 40; Robert Osuna, Blue Jays – 35; Craig Kimbrel Red Sox – 31

THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY

Jim Johnson of the Braves leads MLB in blown saves through August at nine (in 31 opportunities). The AL leader is the Blue Jays’ Robert Osuma with eight (43 opportunities).

 

Primary Resources: ESPN.com; MLB.com; Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com; StarTribune.

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. 

 

Today’s Game … Free-Swinging/Hard-Throwing

There is no doubt today’s game is becoming both more hard-throwing and more-free swinging.  Earlier this month, I posted the chart below to show the rise of strikeouts per game over the years (more than double since 1950.   Now, below the chart, I offer some more evidence of the  nature of the new ball game.

kcHART

I’m working on a similar chart for home runs, but the trend appears to be similar. In 1950, fans saw an average of about 1.7 home runs per game (both teams combined) – 130 home runs per team over a 154-game season.  This season, fans have been seeing an average of just over 2.5 home runs per game – with MLB on a pace toward a season average of 205 home runs per team.

This free-swinging/hard-hitting trend shows up in other aspects of the game.  So far this August, we have seen seen three Immaculate Innings (three strikeouts on nine pitches) – bringing the total number of 2017 Immaculate Innings to an MLB single-season record eight – breaking the 2014 record of seven with more than a month to go.  (In fact, there have been only four SEASONS in MLB history with more Immaczulate Innings than we have seen so far this August – and that includes 2017.) Your 2017 Immaculate frames go to: Drew Storen, Reds (April 18); Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (May 11); Max Scherzer, Nationals (May 15); Kenley Jansen, Dodgers (May 18); Carlos Carrasco, Indians, (July 7); Dellin Betances, Yankees (August 2); Jose Alvarado, Rays (August 4); Rick Porcello, Red Sox (August 9).   Notably, in MLB history, there has been only one other season with as many as five Immaculate Innings (1998) and of the 89 Immaculate innings recorded, 40 have taken place since 2000.  Here’s the list by decade;

                                    IMMACULATE INNINGS

                                   1880s – 1            1960s – 8

                                   1890s – 0           1970s – 8

                                    1900s – 1           1980s – 4

                                    1910s – 1            1990s – 18

                                    1920s – 5           2000s – 15

                                    1930s – 0           2010s – 25

                                    1940s – 0

                                     1950s – 3

A few other Immaculate Inning tidbits:

  • Only four pitchers have thrown multiple Immacualte Innings: Lefty Grove; Sandy Koufax; Nolan Ryan; Randy Johnson.

    Sandy Koufax logged a record three immaculate innings.

    Sandy Koufax logged a record three immaculate innings.

  • Only Sandy Koufax has three such innings – one each in 1962, 1963 and 1964.
  • Lefty Grove is the only pitcher to throw two immaculate innings in the same season (August 23 and September 27, 1928).
  • Nolan Ryan is the only pitcher to theow an Immacutalte Innings in both the Ameerican and National League (Mets, 1968 – Angels, 1972).
  • The only World Series Immaculate Inning belongs to the Royals’ Danny Jackson (Game 5 of the 1985 Series).
  • The only players to come right out of the box and fire an Immaculate Inning in the first frame are: Sandy Koufax (1962); Roger Clemens (1997); Pedro Martinez (2002); Rick Helling (2006); Rich Harden (2008).
  • There have been only two Immaculate Innings in extra innigs: Sloppy Thurston (12th inning, August 22, 1923); Juan Perez (10th inning, July 8, 2011.)
  • More Immaculate Innings have taken place in the ninth ining (20) than any other frame.

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.

DH? We(s) Don’t Need No Stinkin’ DH!

Albers made his MLB debut with the Twins. Yesterday, he notched his first tjhree plate appearances with the Mariners - a single and TWO successfuy sacrifice buns.

Albers made his MLB debut with the Twins. Yesterday, he notched his first tjhree plate appearances –  with the Mariners – a single and TWO successful sacrifice buns.

Yesterday (August 21), 31-year-old southpaw Andrew Albers –  who has had an up and down professional career (150 minor league appearances and 19 major league appearances since 2008) – had a truly “up” day. Traded to the Mariners (for cash considerations) on August 11, Albers drew his second start of the season (his first time out for the Mariners, he gave up one run in five innings and got the victory in a 3-1 win over the Orioles). This time, he faced the Braves and – while he wasn’t as effective – picked up his second MB win of 2017. He again went five innings, this time giving up three earned runs as the Mariners won 6-5.  The two victories doubled his career total. Albers now stands at 4-5, 4.32 in 19 appearances (four starts) for the Twins, Blue Jays and Mariners. Note: Albers was 12-3, 2.61 at Triple A before the trade.

What made this a truly up day for Albers, however, was his performance at the plate.  In his first at bat – also his first MLB plate appearance – Albers collected an infield single and an RBI. He came up twice more in the game, each time successfully sacrificing a base runner from first to second.  Given the state of bunting I’ve seen recently, Albers deserves perhaps even greater kudos for the two sacrifices than for the infield single.  At any rate, he ended the game with his 1.000 batting average and his 2017 1.000 winning percentage intact.

WES FERRELL DIDN’T NEED NO STINKIN’ DH

FerrellReading about Albers feats in the batter’s box reminded me of how much I dislike the Designated Hitter – as well as what a solid batsman pitcher Wes Ferrell was. (No, I’m not old enough to have actually seen him play.) On today’s date (August 22) in 1934, Ferrell ran his season record to 12-2, with a ten-inning, two-run (one earned) complete game against the White Sox. Like Albers, Ferrell’s performance in the batter’s box may have exceeded his pitching accomplishments. Ferrell went three-for-four in the game, scoring two and driving in two.  And, he did it in spectacular fashion.  Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth (the game was at Fenway), Ferrell homered to tie the contest. Then, with two-out in the bottom of the tenth, the Red Sox’ right-hander went deep again to win the contest.  It was one of three walk-off home runs Ferrell would rap in his career – and one of five multi-homer games he would achieve.

Ferrell, in fact, holds the MLB record for home runs as a pitcher with 37 (he also had one as a pinch hitter), and his career line (548 games) was .280-38-208.  Ferrell logged some great years in there – on the mound and in the batter’s box.

In 1935, fort example, Ferrell led the AL in pitching victories, going 25-14, 3.52. He also topped the junior circuit in complete games (31) and innings pitched (322 1/3). At the plate, he hit a lusty .347, with seven home runs and 32 RBI in 150 at bats. He also had 21 walks against just 16 strikeouts.

A few other Farrell tidbits:

  • Ferrell topped twenty wins in each of his first four full MLB seasons (1929-32 … He did have a total of three appearances in 1927-28 call ups). In those first four full campaigns, he went 21-10, 3.60; 25-13, 3.31; 22-12, 3.75; 23-13. 3.66.
  • Ferrell had a total of six seasons of 20+ wins – and led the AL in complete games four times.
  • He was a two-time All Star.

SHOWING OFF ALL THE SKILLS

On April 29, 1931 Wes Ferrell of the Indians no-hit the St. Louis Browns 9-0 in Cleveland. Ferrell gave up three walks and fanned eight in the contest. He also rapped a two-run double and a two-run home run, finishing the day two-for-four with two runs scored and four RBI. On the season, Ferrell went 22-12, 3.75 with a league-leading 27 complete games, while also hitting .319, with nine home runs and 30 RBI in 116 at bats.

  • Farrell holds the single-season (nine) and career (37) records for home runs as a pitcher.
  • Farrell hit an MLB career-high .347 for the Red Sox in 1935.
  • Wes’ brother Rick Ferrell, a major league catcher for 18 seasons (.303-28-734).  is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Wes and Rick were together on the Boston Red Sox from 1934-37.

NEVER A QUITTER …ALWAYS A HTTER

After his major league playing days were over, Ferrell continued to play minor league ball – primarily as an outfielder.  His best seasons as he closed out his professional career:

  • 1941 … Hitting .332 with 20 home runs for the Leaksville-Draper-Spray Triplets of the Bi-State (Class D) League;
  • 1942 … Hitting.361 with 31 home runs for the Lynchburg Senators of the Class C Virginia League;
  • 1948, at the age of 40, hitting .425, with 24 home runs in 104 games for the Marion Marauders of the Class D Western Carolina League.

Ferrell finally hung up his spikes as a player after the 1949 season, when he hit .298, with four homes in 50 games for Class B teams in Tampa and Greensboro.

Ferrell’s final pitching line was 193-128. 4.04.  It might have been even better if not for shoulder troubles that began in 1931 and limited is ability to use his “plus” fastball and the fact that he spent much of his career pitching for middle-of-pack teams. Still, retired with a .601 MLB winning percentage.

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

 

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