Multi-tool MLB Players – Princes of Power & Sultans of Speed

Baseball Roundtable loves multi-talented players.  For example, among my current favorites are Rockies’ “Lumber and Leather” 3B Nolan Arenado (two home run titles and five Gold Gloves in five MLB seasons); Angels’ “Power and Speed” CF Mike Trout (youngest player to each 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases); and Astros’ “Is there anything he can’t do?” 2B Jose Altuve.  You get the idea.

BBRT recently focused on players that deliver exceptional offense and defense. You can see my post on MLB players who have won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove in the same season by clicking here.  In this post, Baseball Roundtable will focus on players who combined power and speed on offense – beginning with those who have led their league in home runs and stolen bases in the same season and working my way down to the kings of the 30/30 (HR/SB) Club.

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Power and Speed Factoid One:  Only three times in MLB history has a player led his league in both home runs and stolen bases in the same season.  Here they are:

Ty Cobb, Outfield, Detroit Tigers – 1909 – Nine home runs and 76 stolen bases

Ty Cobb, in just his third full MLB season (fifth MLB campaign overall) already had two batting titles and one stolen base crown under his belt.  Then, in 1909, he led the American League with nine home runs and 76 stolen bases – as well as with 216 base hits, 116 runs scored, a .377 average and 107 RBI.

Cobb, by the way, won just the one home run crown in his MLB career (1905-1928), but also earned six stolen base crowns and 12 batting titles – and led the AL in hits eight times, runs scored five times, RBI four times, triples four times and doubles three times. The Hall of Famer’s final (24 seasons/3,034 games) stat line was .366-117-1,944; with 4,189 hits, 2,244 runs scored and 897 stolen bases.

Ty Cobb is the only the only player to lead his league in home runs and stolen bases without ever hitting the ball over the fence or out of the park.   In 1909, all of Cobb’s AL-leading round trippers were of the inside-the-park variety.  

Jim Sheckard, Outfield, Brooklyn Superbas – 1903 – Nine home runs and 67 stolen bases

SheckIn his 17-season MLB career (1897-1913), Jimmy Sheckard won just one home run crown and a pair of NL stolen base titles. In 1903, he hit .332, with nine home runs, 75 RBI and 67 steals.  Considered one of the finest fielding outfielders of his time, Sheckard’s career stat line was .274-56-813, with 465 steals in 2,122 games. Sheckard’s best season was 1901, when he reached career highs in average (.354), base hits (196), home runs (11), RBI (104), doubles (29) and triples (a league-leading 19).

 

 

 

 

 

Chuck Klein, Outfield, Philadelphia Phillies – 1932 – 38 home runs and 20 stolen bases

ChuckChuck Klein successfully defended his 1931 home run crown (31 round trippers) with a league-topping 38 in 1932 – and he tossed in an NL-best 20 stolen bases. It was one of only two seasons in a 17-campaign career (1928-44) that the Hall of Famer reached double digits in thefts. In that 1932 season, Klein also led the NL in hits (226) and runs scored (152), while driving in 137 runs – a performance that earned him Most Valuable Player recognition.

Klein’s career stat line was .320-300-1,201, with 79 stolen bases. He also recorded 2,076 base hits and scored 1,168 runs. He led his league in runs scored three times, hits twice, doubles twice, home runs four times, RBI twice and batting average once.

 

 

Chuck Klein won a Triple Crown in the only season to feature Triple Crown winners in both the AL and NL – and from the same city no less.  In 1933 (the season after his home run/stolen base leadership), the Philadelphia Phillies’ Chuck Klein won the National League Triple Crow – hitting .368, with 28 home runs and 120 RBI. That same season, Philadelphia’s AL entry (Athletics) also featured a Triple Crown winner, Jimmy Foxx (.356-48-163).

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Power and Speed Factoid Two:  Only six players have won both a home run crown and a stolen base title during their careers.  Let’s take a look at them.

You start, of course, with the three players from Factoid One – Ty Cobb, Jim Sheckard and Chuck Klein – then add:

Harry Stovey, Outfield/First Base – Worcester Ruby Legs, Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Reds, Boston Beaneaters, Baltimore Orioles, Brooklyn Grooms

StoveyPlaying from 1880 to 1893 (National League, American Association, Players League), Harry Stovey won five home run titles and two stolen base crowns. He led the NL in home runs in 1880 (six for Worcester) and 1891 (16 for Boston). Stovey also led the American Association in long balls in 1883 (14), 1885 (13) and 1888 (19) – all for Philadelphia. His two stolen base crowns came in 1886 (68 for Philadelphia of the AA) and 1890 (97 for Boston of the Players League). Over his career, Stovey hit .288, with 122 home runs, 912 RBI and 509 steals. In addition to his home runs and stolen base titles, he led his league in runs scored four tmes, doubles once, triples four times and RBI once.

 

 

 

Ed Delahanty, Outfield/First Base/Second Base – Philadelphia Quakers/Phillies, Cleveland Infants, Washington Senators

DelEd Delahanty enjoyed a 16-season MLB career (National League, American League, Players League). He twice led his league in home runs – both times for the Phillies – with 19 in 1893 and 13 in 1896. He led the NL in stolen bases (Phillies) with 58 in 1898. The Hall of Famer also led his league in hits once, batting average three times, doubles five times, triples once and RBI three times.  His career stat line was .346-101-1,466, with 456 steals and 1,600 runs scored.

Delahanty hit over .400 three times in his career – .405 in 1894; .404 in 1895; and .410 in 1899.

 

 

 

Willie Mays, Outfield – New York/San Francisco Giants, NY Mets

WillieThe “Say Hey Kid” won four home run crowns and four stolen base titles in his career – all of them with the Giants – just never in the same season. He led the NL in home runs in 1955 (51), 1962 (49), 1964 (47) and 1965 (52). He topped the league in stolen bases in 1956 (40), 1957 (38), 1958 (31) and 1959 (27).

In his MLB career (1951-73), the Hall of Famer also led the NL in hits once, runs scored twice, triples three times and batting average once.  His final stat line was .302-660-1,903, with 338 stolen bases, 3,283 hits and 2,062 runs scored in 22 seasons (2,992 games). He was the 1951 NL Rookie of the Year and the NL MVP in 1954 and 1965.  Mays, a true five-tool player, also earned 12 Gold Gloves.

So, there are your six players who have won both a home run title and a stolen base crown: Ty Cobb, Jim Sheckard, Chuck Klein, Harry Stovey, Ed Delahanty and Willie Mays.

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Power and Speed Factoid Three: Only two players have both a 50-home run and a 50-stolen base season on their major-league resumes – Brady Anderson and Barry Bonds. 

Barry Bonds – 52 stolen bases for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990 and 73 home runs for the San Francisco Giants in 2001

Barry Bonds photo

Photo by kevinrushforth

No surprise here. Barry Bonds, the all-time MLB home run leader (762), reached forty or more home runs eight times in his 22-season MLB career (1986-2007 … Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants) and stole forty or more bases three times.  What might be a surprise is that he only reached the fifty mark once in each category.

Bond’s career stat line: .298-762-1,996, with 514 stolen bases.  He also had 2,935 hits and 2,227 runs scored.  He led his league in home runs twice, RBI once and runs scored once. He was also a seven-time league MVP, 14-season All Star and eight-time Gold Glover.

 

Brady Anderson – 53 stolen bases for the Orioles in 1992 and 50 home runs for the Orioles in 1996

Brady Anderson photo

Photo by Keith Allison

A bit of a surprise here, since Brady Anderson’s second-highest season home run total was just 24 and he only reached 20 home runs three times in 15 MLB seasons (1988-2002 … Red Sox, Orioles, Indians). Anderson did top 20 steals in seven seasons. Anderson, a three-time All Star, put up a career stat line of .256-210-761, with 315 stolen bases.  His best season was 1996, when he hit .297, with 50 home runs, 110 RBI and 21 steals.

 

 


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Power and Speed Factoid Four: Only four players have hit 40 home runs and stole 40 bases in the same season. 

Okay, everyone pretty much knows this, but since there are no 50-50 seasons, the 40-40 list needs to be here.  I will, however, be brief.

Jose Canseco, Outfield, A’s – 1988 – 42 home runs and 40 stolen bases

In 1988, Jose Canseco hit  .307-42-124, with 40 steals – earning the AL MVP Award. His final stats (17 seasons … 1985-2001) were .266-461-1,407, with 200 stolen bases. He was a six-time All Star, 1986 Rookie of the Year and a two-time home run champ.

Barry Bonds, Outfield, Giants –  1996 – 42 home runs and 40 stolen bases

In 1996, Barry Bonds hit .308, with 42 home runs, 129 RBI and 40 steals. For more on Bonds, see Factoid Three.

Alex Rodriguez, Shortstop, Mariners – 1998 – 42 home runs and 46 stolen bases

Alex Rodriguez hit .310, with 42 home runs, 124 RBI and 46 stolen bases for the Mariners in 1996. In a 22-season MLB career (1994-2013/2015-2016 … Mariners, Rangers, Yankees), Rodriguez hit .295, with 696 home runs, 2,086 RBI and 329 steals. He was a 14-time All Star, three-time MVP and two-time Gold Glover. During his career he topped 40 home runs in a season eight times (with 50 or more three times) and stole 20 or more bases six times.  He led the AL in home runs five times, runs scored five times, hits once, doubles once and batting average once.

Alfonso Soriano, Outfield, Nationals – 2006 – 46 home runs and 41 stolen bases

Alfonso Soriano barely missed the 40-40 club in 2002, when he hit 39 home runs and swiped a league-leading 41 bases for the Yankees. He joined the club four year later with a .277-46-95, 41-steal season for the Nationals.  In his 16-season MLB career (1999-2014 … Yankees, Rangers, Nationals, Cubs), Soriano hit .270, with 412 home runs, 1,159 RBI and 289 stolen bases. He was a seven-time All Star and led his league in runs, hits and stolen bases once each (all in 2002, when he hit.300-39-102, with 41 steals for the Yankees). He topped 30 home runs in seven seasons and exceeded 20 steals in five campaigns.

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Power and Speed Factoid Five: Two players share the record for most times in the 30-30 (home runs/stolen bases) Club – and they are a father-son combination.

Going into the 1950s, MLB’s 30-30 Club had only one member – Saint Louis Browns’ outfielder Ken Williams, who hit .332, with 39 home runs, 155 RBI and 37 stolen bases in 1922. (He led the AL in home runs and RBI.) It was the only season that Williams (who finished a 14-season MLB career with 196 homers and 154 steals) ever reached thirty in either category. Williams retired with a .319-196-916 stat line.

The next 30-30 season was recorded by Willie Mays in 1956 (he did it again in 1957); then Hank Aaron joined the group in 1963; and Bobby Bonds earned his membership in 1969.  By 1978, there had been ten 30-30 seasons in MLB – and Bobby Bonds had five of them.  Through 2017, 38 players have acheived a total of sixty 30-30 seasons.  Only two have five 30-30 campiagns on their resume:   Bobby Bonds and his son Barry Bonds.

 

Bonds

Key resources; Society for American Baseball Research; Baseball-Reference.com; Baseball-Almanac.com

 

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Men of Steal – Players with 100 or More Stolen Bases in a Season

Baseball Roundtable would like to devote this post to MLB’s Men of Steal – at least those who excelled (and accelerated) on the base paths to the tune of 100 or more steals in a season since 1900. 

Round Number Relevance

Since 1900, there have been eight seasons of 60 or more home runs – and eight campaigns of 100 or more stolen bases.

Why 100 or more steals?  Just an arbitrary decision, but it’s both a nice round number and one that made sense once I started looking into which MLB players could meet the “century” standard.

Why since 1900?  In baseball’s early years, the definition of a stolen base was significantly different than in the modern era.  At times, players were awarded a stolen base not just for what we now consider a “steal,” but also in such instances as moving up a base on a fly out, advancing more than one base on a hit and advancing on an error. Under those rules, stolen bases were considerably more prevalent.  In 1887, for example, the 16 major league (National League and American Association) teams averaged 397 stolen bases, with the American Association Saint Louis Browns swiping an MLB-high 581 bases in 135 games. (No team recorded fewer than 221 steals.) As for individual stolen base statistics –  in 1887, six players stole 100 or more bases, led by the Cincinnati Red Stockings’ (American Association) Hugh Nicol’s 138.  I’ll provide a list of those early 100+ steal players at the end of this post, but the bulk of this article will focus on post-1899. Note: Baseball rules on stolen base statistics generally aligned with modern rules in 1898.

There have been only four players to reach 100 steals in a season since 1900: Maury Wills, Lou Brock, Vince Coleman (three times) and Rickey Henderson (three times). From BBRT’s perspective Wills is the single-season “Man of Steal,” while Henderson is the career superhero when it comes to wreaking havoc on the base paths.

100Seasons

Let’s take a look at the “thieves of the century (mark).”

Maury Wills, Dodgers

1962 – 104 stolen bases

WillsIn 1962, Maury Wills had what BBRT considers the most dominant single-season performance on the base paths ever. The 29-year-old Dodgers’ shortstop stole 104 bases to lead the National League – and all of MLB.  He added a .299 average, 130 runs scored, a league-topping ten triples, six home runs, 48 RBI and a Gold Glove to earn the National MVP award. Just how dominant was Wills as a base runner?

  • His 104 steals were more than every other team in MLB (there were 20 teams at the time) – marking the only season in MLB history where a player has “out-stolen” every other squad.
  • His 104 swipes were 37 above the MLB team average – one of just three seasons in which a player with 100 or more steals has outpaced the overall MLB team average.
  • He exceeded the stolen base total of the next best stealer (the Dodgers’ Willie Davis) more than three times over, topping Davis by 72 steals.
  • He stole as many bases as the number-two through number-five National League base stealers combined – Willie Davis (32); Vada Pinson (26); Julian Javier (26); Tony Taylor (20).
  • His 88.9 percent success rate was the third-best in MLB – and is the highest success rate ever in a 100+ stolen base campaign.
  • He was the first player to steal 100 bases in a season under modern rules.
  • He stole 0.63 bases per game played that season.

Team

Rickey Henderson, Outfield, A’s

1980 – 100 stolen bases

1982 – 130 stolen bases

1983 – 108 stolen bases

HendoRickey Henderson is easily BBRT’s career “Man of Steal.”  MLB’s all-time stolen base leader (1,406), by a margin of 463 bags swiped, reached 100 or more steals in three seasons.  He led his league in thefts 12 times (in 25 seasons) – the final time in 1998 at the age of 39.  He topped forty steals in a season in 17 times (reaching 75 or more stolen bases in seven seasons and fifty or more in 14 campaigns). He also stole over 30 bases in a season in four difference decades (from 33 stolen bases as a 20-year-old in 1979 to 31 as 41-year-old in 2000).

 

Speed & Power

Rickey Henderson was the most powerful of all the 100+ base stealers – and the only player to reach triple digits in steals and double-digits in home runs in the same season. Henderson stole 130 bases in 1982, while also hitting ten home runs.

Henderson hit 297 home runs in a 25-season MLB career. Totals for the other 100+ stolen base season players: Lou Brock – 149 home runs (19 seasons); Vince Coleman – 28 home runs (13 seasons); Maury Wills – 20 home runs (14 seasons).

Henderson topped 20 home runs in a season four times in his career, Lou Brock had one 20+ home run campaign. Maury Wills and Vince Coleman never hit more than six in any season.

Rickey Henderson’s 100 steals in 1980:

  • Reflected a 79.4 percent success rate;
  • Led the second-most prolific base stealer – the Expos’ Ron LeFlore – by three thefts;
  • Were more steals than ten of the other 25 MLB teams;
  • Were just nine shy of the MLB team average of 119;
  • Represented 0.63 steals per game Henderson played.

Henderson’s 130 steals in 1982:

  • Reflected a 75.6 percent success rate;
  • Led the second-most prolific base stealer – the Expos’ Tim Raines – by 52 thefts;
  • Were more than ten of the other 25 MLB teams;
  • Compared to an MLB team average of 122;
  • Represented 0.87 steals per game Henderson played.

Henderson’s 108 stolen bases in 1983:

  • Reflected an 85.0 percent success rate;
  • Led the second-most prolific base stealer – the Expos’ Tim Raines – by 18 thefts;
  • Were more than eight of the other 25 MLB teams;
  • Compared to an MLB team average of 128;
  • Amounted to 0.74 stolen bases per game played.

You Can’t Steal First Base

Rickey Henderson’s on-base percentage of .420 in 1980 is the highest-ever in a 100+ stolen base season (since 1900). He is the only one of the four featured post-1899 century mark base grabbers to achieve a .400 OBP in a 100-steal year – also reaching .414 in 1983. The lowest on-base percentage among these 100+ stolen base campaigns goes to Vince Coleman at .301 in 1986 (.232 batting average).  Lou Brock posted the highest batting average in a post-1899 100+ stolen base season at .306, when he stole 118 bases in 1974. The only other player on this list to reach 300 in his 100+ SB campaign was Rickey Henderson at .303 in 1980. 

Henderson, considered MLB’s best-ever lead-off man, finished his MLB career (1979-2003) with a .279 average (3,055 hits), 297 home runs, 1,115 RBI and an MLB-high 2,295 runs scored.  Inducted into the Hall of fame in 2009, Henderson was a ten-time All Star, a one-time Gold Glover and the 1990 American League MVP  (when he hit .325, with 28 home runs, 61 RBI, a league-topping 119 runs scored and a league-leading 65 steals).  In addition to his even dozen stolen base titles, Henderson led his league in runs scored, five times, hits once and walks four times. He hit .300 or better eight times, poled 20 or more home runs in four seasons and holds the record for lead-off home runs with 81. Although they say you should never walk a player who can turn a base on balls into a double, Henderson is second only to Barry Bonds in career walks – drawing 2,190 free passes, topping 100 walks in five seasons and leading the league in walks four times.

Next

 

Vince Coleman, Outfield, Cardinals

1985 – 110 steals

1986 – 107 steals

1987 – 109 steals

colemanThere was never any doubt about Vince Coleman’s ability to steal a base. Before he made it to the Cardinals as a 22-year-old rookie in 1985, Coleman had pilfered 289 bases in 328 minor league games.  In 1985, he translated a 110-stseal season into the NL Rookie of the Year Award. (He hit .267, with one home run, 40 RBI and 107 runs scored.)  In that campaign, Coleman became the first MLB rookie to steal at least 100 bags.

Let’s take a deeper dive.

Vince Coleman’s 110 steals in 1985:

  • Led the second most prolific base stealer – the A’s Ricky Henderson – by 30 steals;
  • Reflected an 81.5 percent success rate;
  • Were more than 12 of MLB’s of the other 25 MLB teams;
  • Compared to an MLB team average of 119;
  • Represented 0.73 stolen bases per game season.

Vince Coleman is the only player to steal 100 or more bases as a rookie, and the only player (since 1900) to steal 100 or more sacks in three consecutive seasons (his first three.)

Vince Coleman’s 107 steals in 1986:

  • Led MLB’s second-most prolific base stealer – the A’s Rickey Henderson – by 20 steals;
  • Reflected an 88.4 percent success rate – fourth-best in MLB;
  • Were more than nine of MLB’s other 26 teams;
  • Compared to an MLB team average of 127 steals;
  • Represented 0.69 stolen bases per game Coleman played.

Coleman’s 109 steals in 1987:

  • Led MLB’s second-most prolific base stealer – the Mariners’ Harold Reynolds –  by 49 bags;
  • Reflected an 83.2 percent success rate;
  • Were more than four of MLB’s other 25 teams;
  • Compared to an MLB team average of 138 steals;
  • Represented 0.72 stolen bases per game Coleman.

Vince Coleman is the only player to have a 100 stolen base season with zero home runs in that campaign. In 1986, Coleman hit .232, with no home runs in 600 at bats, while swiping 107 bases.

Coleman played 13 MLB seasons (1985-1997), finishing with a .260 average, 28 home runs, 346 RBI, 849 runs scored and 752 stolen bases (sixth all-time).  He led the NL in steals his first six seasons and topped 40 steals in a seasons eight times. He was a two-time All Star and the 1985 NL Rookie of the Year.

Success

Just as a point of reference: The current career mark for successful base stealing among players with at least 100 stolen bases is Chase Utley (151 steals/87.79% success rate); Carlos Beltran has the mark for those with at least 200 (or 300) steals with 312 steals and a 86.43% success rate; Tim Raines reigns among those with at least 400/500/600/700/800= steals with 808 steals and a 84.70% success rate; 900+ goes to Billy Hamilton (pre-1900) at 82.10% (914 stolen bases) or Rickey Henderson at 80.76% (1,406 steals). Henderson, of course, stands alone at 1,000/1,100/1,200/1,300/1,400+ steals.   Our four featured players line up like this career-wise: Vince Coleman – 80.95%; Rickey Henderson – 80.76%; Lou Brock – 75.34%; Maury Wills – 73.80%.

Lou Brock, Outfield, Cardinals

1974 -118 steals

BrockLou Brock, who led his league in steals eight times, reached the century mark in just one campaign. In 1974, at the age of 35, Brock swiped 118 bags (second-highest in a season, post-1899, all-time) for the Cardinals. That season, he hit .306, with three home runs, 48 RBI and 105 runs scored.

Lou Brock’s 118 steals in 1974:

  • Reflected a 78.1 percent success rate;
  • were double the second-most prolific base stealer’s – the Dodgers’ Davey Lopes – 59 thefts;
  • Were more than 15 of the other 23 MLB teams;
  • Exceeded the MLB team average of 104;
  • Represented 0.77 stolen bases per game Brock played.

 Brock, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985, played 19 MLB seasons (1961-1979) and finished with a .293 average, 3,023 hits, 149 home runs, 900 RBI, 1,610  runs scored and 938 stolen bases (second all-time). He was an All Star in five seasons, led the NL in stolen bases eight times, doubles once, triples once and runs scored twice.  He hit over .300 in nine seasons and stole forty or more bases 13 times (12 consecutive seasons from 1965-1976).

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Pre-1900 Players with 100 or More Steals in a Season

Billy Hamilton, Outfield, Phillies

Hamilton gets a full write up because he was pretty much acknowledged as the top best runner of his era. Known as “Sliding Billy,” Hamilton stole 100 or more bases – under the statistical rules of the time  – four times. He led his league (American Association and National League) in steals five times in 14 major league seasons (1888-1901).

1889 – Billy Hamilton’s 111 steals (for the American Association Kansas City Cowboys):

  • Were 12 more than the second-most prolific base stealer – the Phillies’ (NL) Jim Fogarty;
  • Compared to an MLB (National League and American Association) team average of 301 steals. Every team stole at least 203 bases;
  • Represented 0.81 steals per game Hamilton played.

1890 – Billy Hamilton’s 102 steals (for the Phillies):

  • Were five more than the second-most prolific MLB base stealer – the Boston Reds’ (Players League) Harry Stovey;
  • Compared to an MLB (National League, American Association, Players League) average of 275 thefts;
  • Represented 0.83 steals per game Hamilton played.

1891 – Billy Hamilton’s 111 steals (Phillies):

  • Were five more than the second-most prolific base stealer – the Boston Red’s (American Association) Tom Brown;
  • Compared to an MLB team (National League and American Association) average of 245 steals;
  • Represented 0.83 steals per game played by Hamilton.

In his final 100-steal campaign (1894), Billy Hamilton led MLB with 198 runs scored (in just 132 games played), 100 stolen bases, 128 walks and a .521 on base percentage. He hit .403 (Hugh Duffy of the Boston Beaneaters led the NL at .440). Side note: The 1894 season saw five hitters top .400 (four of them on the Phillies). So, even at .403, Hamilton had the fifth-highest average in the league and fourth-highest on his own team.

1894 – Billy Hamilton’s 100 steals (Phillies):

  • Were 22 more than the second-most prolific base-stealer – the Baltimore Orioles’ (NL) John McGraw;
  • Compared to an MLB team (National League) average of 262;
  • Represented 0.76 steals per game Hamilton played.

Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1961, Billy Hamilton won a pair of batting crowns (.340 for the Phillies in 1891 and .380 for the Phillies in 1893). He also led his league in steals five times, runs scored four times, walks five times and base hits once. In 14 MLB seasons, he put up a .344 batting average, with 40 home runs, 742 RBI, 1,697 runs scored and 914 stolen bases.

Additional Pre-1900 100-Stolen-Base Seasons.

Hugh Nicol

1887 … 138 steals (led league) for Cincinnati of the American Association

1888 … 103 steals for Cincinnati of the American Association

Arlie Latham

1887 … 129 steals for Saint Louis of the American Association

1888 … 109 steals (led league) for Saint Louis of the American Association

PLEASE TAKE A FEW MINUTES TO VOTE

Please take a few minutes to vote in Baseball Roundtable’s unofficial Baseball Fan Hall of Fame Ballot. BBRT would like to get a good fan sampling to compare with the official BBWAA voting results. Jusrt click here, to get to your ballot. Thanks – and thanks for reading Baseball Roundtable.

Charlie Comiskey

1887 … 117 steals for Saint Louis of the American Association

Pete Browning

1887 … 103 steals for Louisville of the American Associaton

John Montgomery Ward

1887 … 111 steals (led league) for the New York Giants of the National League

Jim Fogarty

1887 … 102 steals for Philadelphia of the National League

Tom Brown

1891 … 106 steals (led league) for Boston Reds of the American Association

Primary Resources: Baseball-Reference.com; The ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia (Gary Gillette/Pete Palmer); Society for American Baseball Research; Total Baseball (John Thorn); Baseball-Almanac.com

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Baseball Roundtable Looks at “Modern Game” Hall of Fame Ballot

Baseball Hall of Fame should make room for Harry Stovey in 2016. .

The Baseball Hall of Fame has released its Modern Baseball (Era) Committee Ballot – listing nine former players and one executive for consideration for the 2018 Hall of Fame Class.  The 16-member Modern Baseball Committee considers players and executives active between 1970-87.  This election is in addition to the traditional Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) HOF balloting. Era Committee nominees must garner the votes of 12 (75 percent) of committee members for election. Each member of the committee may vote for up to four candidates.  The Modern Era candidates for 2018 induction are: Steve Garvey; Tommy John; Don Mattingly; Marvin Miller (executive); Jack Morris; Dale Murphy; Dave Parker; Ted Simmons; Luis Tiant; and Alan Trammel.

BACKGROUND ON HALL O F FAME VOTING

The Baseball Hall of Fame Era Committees …

Today’s Game (1988-present); Modern Baseball (1970-87); Golden Days (1950-69); Early Baseball (1871-1949).  Near-term voting years for each committee:

  • Today’s Game – 2017, 2019
  • Modern Baseball – 2018, 2020
  • Golden Days and Early Baseball – 2021

To be eligible for the ERA Committees’ ballots: Players must have played in at least ten MLB seasons and have been retired for at least 15 seasons; Managers and Umpires must have ten years in MLB and be retired for at least five seasons if under 65-years-old, six months if 65-or-over; Executives must be retired at least five years or at least 70-years-old. In addition, the nominees must no longer be eligible for the traditional Baseball Writers Association of America balloting (BBWAA).

Traditional BBWAA Hall of Fame Elections …

For the traditional BBWAA election, players must have played in at least ten MLB seasons and been retired (as a player) for at least five seasons. Players stay on the ballot up to ten years (formerly 15 years), but are dropped from the ballot after any election in which they receive less than five percent of the vote. (Eligible voters are active and honorary members of the BBWAA who have been active baseball writers for at least ten years and BBWAA members for a period beginning at least ten years prior to the current voting. Each elector may vote for up to ten individual on the ballot – and it takes 75 percent of the vote for election.)

Stated HOF Election Criteria …

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”

In this post, Baseball Roundtable will take a look at all ten Modern Game candidates; comment on how BBRT would vote (if I had a ballot); and attempt to predict who the actual Modern Era Committee will select for 2018 Hall of Fame Induction. (I’ll present those comments and predictions in reverse order.)

Traditional BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot voting is underway – and Baseball Roundtable is conducting an unofficial fan ballot. To reach about those candidates and cast your unofficial fan vote(s), click here. 

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MODERN ERA COMMITTEE PREDICTION

Baseball Roundtable predicts that this year’s successful nominees will be:  Marvin Miller; Jack Morris; and Ted Simmons.  (Further comments on why BBRT predicts those results are included in the remainder of this post.) I might add that we could see fewer nominees get the necessary 75 percent vote: 1) Voting tends to be conservative; 2) With only four votes, electors have to be selective – and multiple candidates with similar “credentials” could end up splitting vote totals.  There is one caveat.  If the Modeern Game Committee choose to honor the late Marvin Miller’s wished and not select him for inducation, I expect one of the following players will join Morris and Simmons:  1) Alan Trammel; 2) Tommy John; or 3) Steve Garvey.

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IF BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE HAD A BALLOT

Let me say first, these were not easy choices.  There were half dozen nominees I could easily have voted for – but, playing by the rules, I limited myself to four selections. My preferences were based on the stated election criteria (see box above), which I divided into:  Game – actual stats and performance; Fame – awards and recognitions; and Character –  heart, conduct and contributions to both teams and the game itself.

Here are the four nominees I finally decided on:

  1. Ted Simmons, C/1B, 1968-1988 … Cardinals, Brewers, Braves

SimmonsMy first Modern Game vote (if I had one) would go to Ted Simmons.  To me this one is a no-brainer. What I find most puzzling is that in his first year on the traditional Hall of Fame ballot, Simmons got only 3.7 percent of the vote – dropping him from the BBWAA ballot after just one shot. (Player who gets less than five percent are dropped from the ballot.) I should add here that, in making this selection, I did take into consideration that Simmons played one of the game’s most challenging and wearing positions – and did it for 21 seasons.  Factors that drove my decision:

  • Simmons has more base hits (2,472) than any (primary) catcher in MLB history except Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez. That’s right. More hits than the likes of Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza, Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter (all Hall of Famers) or, going further back, more than Hall of Fame backstops Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey and Roger Bresnahan.
  • Simmons also has more career RBI (1,389) than any other primary catcher except Yogi Berra. Right again. More RBI than such backstops as Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Carlton Fisk, Ivan Rodriguez. Gary Carter, Bill Dickey and Mickey Cochrane.
  • Simmons also has more doubles (483) than any other primary catcher except Rodriguez.
  • He also ranks sixth all-time among catchers in runs scored (1,074) – sandwiched on the all-time list between Johnny Bench (1,091) and Mike Piazza (1,048) and is one of only ten catchers to cross the plate 1,000+ times (eight of the ten are already in the HOF).

Starting to see the logic behind my vote?

Ted Simmons had a 21-season (15 seasons of 100 or more games) major league career, primarily as a catcher.  He was with the Cardinals from 1968 to 1980, the Brewers from 1981 to 1985 and the Braves from 1986 to 1988.  He was an eight-time All Star (six times in the decade of the ‘70s) and finished his career with a .285 average, 248 home runs and 1,389 RBI in 2,456 games.  He hit over .300 in seven full-time seasons, recorded 20 or more home runs in six campaigns and had 100 or more RBI three times. His best season was with the Cardinals in 1975, when he hit .332 with 18 home runs and 100 RBI.  Although he was not a Gold Glove caliber defender, he was dependable enough to find himself behind the plate defensively in 1,771 games – 15th all-time and ahead of such stars as Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza and five other Hall of Fame backstops (Ivan Rodriguez leads the way with 2,427 defensive game at catcher).

All things considered, Ted Simmons would get Baseball Roundtable’s Modern Era vote and I am hopeful the Modern Era Committee will also see it that way.

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  1. Tommy John, LHP, 1963-89 … Indians, White Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, Angels, A’s

JohnTommy John pitched 26 years in the major leagues – and even had a ground-breaking (and game-changing) surgery named after him. During his time on the traditional ballot, John’s highest vote total was 31.7 percent.

John put up 288 victories (231 losses) and a 3.34 earned run average.  All solid numbers. However, there are pros and cons to John’s Hall of Fame candidacy. Let’s start with the pros:

  • John has 288 victories – that is 26th all-time among starting pitchers – and of the 25 pitches with more wins, all but two (Roger Clemens and Bobby Mathews) are in the Hall of Fame. Fact is, more than half the starting pitchers enshrined have fewer wins than John.
  • John won 20 or more games in a season three times and twice led the NL in winning percentage.
  • John’s 46 shutouts are also 26th all-time and all but one (Luis Tiant) of the pitchers with more shutouts than John is in the Hall – and, again, more than half of the pitchers in the Hall of Fame have fewer shutouts than John. He also led his league in shutouts three times.
  • John’s 4710 1/3 innings pitched are 20th all-time and he is one of just eight pitchers with 700 or more starts (his 700 starts are sixth all-time).
  • John’s 27 MLB seasons played are third in MLB history behind only Nolan Ryan (27 seasons … 1966-93) and Cap Anson (27 seasons …. 1871-97).
  • John retired with a .555 winning percentage, ahead of more than a dozen starting pitchers currently in the Hall of Fame.

There are also some cons:

  • John’s wins can be attributed to his longevity. As Baseball-Reference.com reports, his average full season record was 13-11 – which does seem to fall short of Hall-worthy.
  • Despite a respectable 2,245 career strikeouts, he fanned only 4.3 batters per nine innings – not exactly dominating.
  • He never won a Cy Young Award and was an All Star only four times in 26 seasons.

In my book, John also deserves Character credits for taking on the risk and leaning into the rehab of a new surgical procedure that had a long-term impact not just on his career (he won 164 games after the surgery), but on the game itself.

Ultimately, John was a good enough and dedicated to last 26 seasons in the major leagues – and put up 288 wins. Despite his low strikeouts per nine innings figure, he did what we look for pitcher to do – get outs and produce wins.

ONE FINAL THOUGHT ON TOMMY JOHN

HOF voters put Sandy Koufax in the Hall with just 165 wins – recognizing that injury shortened his career.  I think it’s time Tommy John and his 288 wins entered the HOF, recognizing that surgery – and a powerful work ethic – lengthened his career.  Side note: Tommy John had just one fewer victory after his historic surgery than Sandy Koufax had in his career.

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  1. Jack Morris, RHP, 1977-1994 … Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Indians

MorrisJack Morris would also get my vote  – although I may be a bit biased, having been in the park for his 1991 World Series Game Seven, 1-0, complete-game, shutout victory. This is a close call, but Morris’ reputation for grit and determination – particularly in “big” games – gives him the Character points he needs to push him to a spot near the top of the BBRT ballot. (Morris, by the way, had the highest vote total on the traditional ballot among this year’s Modern Game nominees – 67.7 percent in 2013.  He doesn’t need much of a push.)

The right-hander pitched 18 seasons (for four different teams) and his consistent status as a staff “Ace” or at least staff “Leader” is reflected in his 14 Opening Day starts. (Note: I acknowledge Morris was not the winningest pitcher on his team in all 14 of those seasons, but being selected for Opening Day does carry some significance and, I believe,  earn both “Fame” and “Character” points.)  Morris’ final stat line was 254-186, with a 3.90 ERA (that ERA hurts his HOF chances), 2,478 strikeouts in 3,824 innings pitched and 175 complete games. He was an All Star five times, a three-time twenty-game winner (led his league in wins twice and also led in complete games, shutouts and innings pitched once each). Morris threw 200 or more innings in a season 11 times. His best season was 1983, when he went 20-13, 3.34, with 20 complete games (in 37 starts) and an AL-topping 293 2/3 innings pitched for the Tigers.

All of these factors put Morris on the “very good” list – but, perhaps just to the edge of the HOF list.  So, what puts him over the top for BBRT?  A couple of things.  First Morris, won more games in the decade of the 1980s (162) – 22 more than any other pitcher in MLB – and also pitched the most innings (2,433 2/3) in the decade. His 1,629 strikeouts in the ‘80s trailed only Nolan Ryan and Fernando Valenzuela. Then there is his performance on the big stage.  Morris pitched in three World Series and was dominant in two of them – going 2-0, 2.00 with two complete games for the Tigers in 1984; 2-0, 1.17 in three starts (one complete game) for the Twins in 1991 (including that Game Seven, ten-inning, complete-game shutout); and 0-2, 8.44 for the Blue Jays in 1992. Even with that 1992 debacle, his World Series line is 4-2, 2.97 – three complete games in seven starts.  Overall, Morris’ post-season record is 7-4, 3.80.

Ultimately, BBRT thinks Morris has just enough to earn that spot in the Hall.   (Besides, if Morris gets in, the door opens a little wider for one of my Minnesota favorites – Jim Kaat, with his 283 wins and 16 Gold Gloves.)

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  1. Alan Trammell, SS, 1977-96 … Tigers

TrammelMy fourth and final vote required a little soul-searching – and moved me from my traditional “old school” approach to the ballot toward a view that also incorporates some of today’s “advanced” metrics. Note: In 2016, his last year on the traditional Hall of Fame ballot, Trammel garnered 40.9 percent support from the BBWAA.

Alan Trammel spent 19 of his 20 MLB seasons teamed up with Tigers’ 2B Lou Whitaker – making them the longest-running and most-prolific SS/2B double-play combination in MLB history. Trammel also was a six-time All Star, four-time Gold Glover and three-time Silver Slugger honoree.

Trammel does have solid numbers – particularly for a middle infielder – a .285 average over 20 seasons, 2,365 hits, 185 home runs and 1,003 RBI.  In addition, his HOF resume includes the 1984 World Series MVP Award (he hit .450 with two home runs and six RBI in five games). Trammel’s best campaign was 1987, when he hit .343, with 28 home runs, 105 RBI and 21 stolen bases. That season, Trammel finished in the top five in the AL in average, hits, runs scored and total bases.  Trammel’s case for the HOF does suffer a bit for having never led his league in any offensive category.

As I considered Trammel, I found a number of analysts and supporters who compared him to Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.  The two do have similar career stat lines – a pretty good measure of their Game.  However, the difference between Trammel and Larkin in the Fame department may explain why Trammel is not already in the Hall and Larkin is.  Larkin was selected to 12 All Star teams to Trammel’s six and collected nine Silver Sluggers to Trammel’s three. (Trammel did earn four Gold Gloves to Larkin’s three).   Larkin’s 1995 NL MVP Award also probably slightly outshines Trammel’s 1984 World Series MVP recognition.  In addition, while both players had two 20-20 (HR-SB) seasons, one of Larkin’s was a 30-30 campaign, which earns a few more Fame points. Given all this, I didn’t really buy into the Trammel/Larkin comparison.  However, I did think Trammel’s 20 years of solid production demanded further examination.

To complete my consideration, I went outside my comfort zone.  Now, those who follow Baseball Roundtable know I am both old and “old school.” I tend to lean toward traditional statistics like batting average, home runs, RBI, won-lost records, earned run average and strikeouts – and away from such markers as Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) and Batting Average on Balls in Play (BIP). I am more interested in how far a home run traveled than its elevation angle and exit speed and more intrigued by fastball/curveball speed and the number of swings and misses than spin rate and perceived velocity.  In addition, I do not like the new “wave the batter to first” intentional walk, challenge/replay and designated hitter. (I am not totally old school.  I do think the current crop of young stars is the best MLB has seen in decades).  Now, there are some relative new stats that I do place stock in – like Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) – and I went there to make my final decision on Trammel.  “Boom,” that put him over the top.

Trammel’s career Wins Above Replacement is 70.4 – compared to the average of 66.7 among Hall of Fame shortstops, eleventh all-time and sandwiched between Larkin’s 70.2 and certain future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter’s 71.8. That’s pretty good company.  When you look at WAR over the player’s peak seven seasons, Trammel looks just as good, seventh all-time among shortstops at 44.7 – compared to the average of 42.8 among Hall of Fame shortstops and ahead of such star-quality shortstops as Luke Appling, Barry Larkin, Derek Jeter, Pee Wee Reese and Phil Rizzuto.  Six of the seven shortstops ahead of Trammel by this measure are in the Hall of Fame (all except Alex Rodriguez).

Taking all of this together, Trammel would get my Modern Game vote – which I am sure will make me some friends among BBRT’s Detroit readers.

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THE REMAINING CANDIDATES

Now, how about the other candidates?  Let’s go alphabetically.

Steve Garvey, 1B/3B, 1969-1987 … Dodgers/Padres

GarveySteve Garvey was one of my final six (as I worked my way toward the allowed four votes).  Garvey’s high point in the traditional balloting was 42.6 percent.

Garvey was selected to 10 All Star squads (eight in a row from 1974-81) and achieved 2,599 hits and a lifetime batting average of .294, despite playing in notorious “pitchers’ parks in Los Angeles and San Diego. He hit over .300 in seven full seasons, collected 200 or more hits in a campaign six times and 100 or more RBI five times.  The level of competition for recognition at his position is reflected by the fact that Garvey does not have a Silver Slugger Award on his resume (approximately half his career was played before the Silver Slugger was established).  Garvey had plenty of Game.

Garvey also scores well in the Fame department. He was the 1974 NL MVP, the NL Championship Series MVP twice (1978 & 1984) and put up a .338-11-31 line in 55 post-season contests.  In addition, he was a two-time All Star Game MVP (1974 & 1978).  He added a little frosting to the cake with four consecutive Gold Gloves (1974-77) and also holds the National League record for consecutive games played at 1,207.

After leaving the playing field, Garvey did face some “character” issues (read paternity suits) – which tarnished his All-American image and may have cost him votes over time. Also working against Garvey is his 272 career home runs from what is traditionally a power position.  Garvey, however, did hit 20+ home runs in a season five times, with a high of 33 in 1977. He had several campaigns in the .315-20-100 range, but I would probably rate his best as 1977, when he played in all 162 Dodgers’ games, hit.297, poled 33 home runs, drove in 115 and tossed in a Gold Glove and 19 stolen bases. (His career high in steals was 19 in 1976.)

Overall, Garvey may be on the edge of the Hall statistically – particularly when you look at career home runs and RBI.  For BBRT, his ten All Star selections and post-season performance move him up the list and should eventually earn him a Hall of Fame plaque. He would have been my fifth selection this year – but, of course, there is a four-vote limit. Garvey does have a chance this year and will clearly remain in the running.

STEVE GARVEY AND THE POST SEASON

For your consideration: Steve Garvey’s post-season batting averages:

  •  Five NL Division Series games -.368
  •  22 NL Championship Series games – .356;
  •  28 World Series games – .319.

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Don Mattingly, 1B/OF, Yankees … 1982-1995

MattinglyDon Mattingly put up some very nice numbers in a 14-season MLB career – a .307 average, 2,153 hits, 222 home runs, 1,099 RBI. He also was a six-time All Star, nine-time Gold Glover, and the 1985 American League MVP. In addition, he led the AL in hits twice, doubles three times, total bases twice, RBI once and batting average once. So, why is he not in the Hall of Fame? In fact, why was his highest total on the traditional ballot less than 30 percent (29.2 percent)?

Mattingly played a position(s) noted for power and run production – and, due in great part to back issues, he did not put up the career home run and RBI totals that would have opened the doors to the Hall.  For example, after hitting .337, belting 119 home runs, driving in 483 runs and making four All Star teams in his first four full major league seasons, Mattingly hit .292, with only 99 home runs, 583 RBI and two All Star selections over his final eight campaigns. It seems unlikely Mattingly will get the Modern Game Committee nod.

 

 

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Marvin Miller, Executive

MillerThe late Marvin Miller (1917-2012) served as the Executive Director of the MLB Players Association from 1966-82 – negotiating the first collective bargaining agreement in professional sports and leading the MLB Players Association to a position as one of the most powerful labor organizations in the country.

Miller led the fight for free agency and arbitration and focused his efforts on enabling players to receive “market value” for their contributions –  dramatically altering the balance of power (or perhaps finally creating a balance of power) between owners and players.  This, ultimately, changed the shape of the game.  I do think Modern Game Committee voters may be ready to vote him in.  However, late in life, Miller requested not to be included on future Hall of Fame ballots (he had been rejected several times) – quoted as saying “I find myself unwilling to contemplate one more rigged Veterans Committee, whose members are handpicked to reach a particular outcome while  offering the pretese of a democratic vote. “

In not including this game-changing executive in my final four, I chose to recognize Miller’s wishes.

 

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Dale Murphy, OF/1B/C, 1976-93 … Braves, Phillies, Rockies

MurphyDale Murphy is a seven-time All Star, five-time Gold Glover, four-time Silver Slugger honoree and a two-time National League MVP (1982-1983). Overall, Murphy played in 2,180 over 18 seasons, collected 2,111 hits, stroked 398 home runs, drove in 1,266 and stole 161 bases. He also led the NL in home runs twice, RBI twice, total bases once and runs scored once.  These all work in his favor as a candidate for a plaque in Cooperstown.

Working against Murphy, however, is a .265 lifetime average – with only two full seasons at .300 or better and four full campaigns under .250.  His highest total on the traditional BBWAA ballot was 23.2 percent.

Murphy’s career can be divided into two eras: 1) 1982-87 and; 2) the rest of his big league tenure. Murphy was truly a HOF-level player from 1982 to 1987: averaging .289, with 36 home runs, 105 RBI and 19 stolen bases per season and winning his two MVP awards, six of his seven all Star selections, all five of his Gold Gloves and all four of his Silver Slugger Awards during that span.  Now, let’s look at the rest of his career, eliminating those seasons in which he played less than 100 games at the MLB level (his first two and last two MLB seasons). In the remaining eight campaigns, Murphy averaged .247, with 22 home runs, 75 RBI and seven steals. With his .265 average, I believe Murphy would need the boost of at least one other career landmark – like 500 home runs or 1,500 RBI to move past the other position players on the Modern Game ballot.

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Dave Parker, RF, 1973-1991… Pirates, Reds, A’s Brewers, Angels, Blue Jays

ParkerDave “The Cobra” Parker was a player who surely had Game – 19 major league seasons, 2,712 hits; .290 career average; 339 long balls, 1,493 RBI and 154 stolen bases.  His Game also included two NL batting titles, three Gold Gloves, three times leading his league in total bases, and an RBI title.  He also earned points on the Fame scale – seven All Star Selections, the 1978 National League MVP and the 1979 All Star game MVP Award.  Overall, Parker put up nine seasons of 20 or more home runs (three of those 30+); six qualifying seasons with an average of .300 or better; four seasons of 100+ RBI; three seasons of 100+ runs scored; and one campaign of 200 or more base hits.  His best season was 1978, when he won his second consecutive NL batting crown, with a .334 average, hit 30 home runs, drove in 117, scored 102 times, earned a Gold Glove and won the NL MVP Award.  Interestingly (at least to BBRT), none of those 1978 offensive numbers ended up being career highs for The Cobra. All that works in Parker’s favor. Yet, his highest vote total on the traditional ballot was 24.5 percent.

Parker scored negative points on the Character scale – drug-related issues (cocaine) that many believed affected his performance mid-career and put him on the stand (with immunity) in a 1985 federal drug trial.  (Parker and a number of other players ended up avoiding MLB suspension by agreeing to community service, ongoing drug tests and the contribution of 10 percent of their 1986 salaries to programs addressing drug abuse.) Parker also found himself facing legal action by the Pirates who claimed a combination of drug use and weight gain affected his ability to deliver promised performance.

BBRT note: Parker’s performance (and, in turn, his career numbers) were impaired by a series of injuries. In the early 1980’s, Parker had to deal with: knee issues (cartilage removal); a torn Achilles tendon; torn cartilage in his right wrist; and a ruptured ligament in his left thumb.

Despite the Character issues, Parker was my sixth finalist on my way to four votes. Parker’s drug use was not “performance-enhancing” and there is at least some precedence for “forgiveness.”   Hall of Fame Veterans Committee voters forgave Orlando Cepeda for his post-retirement conviction on drug possession charges, and he was inducted into the Hall in 1999.  Cepeda’s number were quite similar to Parker’s: MLB Seasons … Cepeda – 17, Parker – 19; Career Average … Cepeda -.297, Parker – .290; Hits … Parker –  2,712, Cepeda – 2,351; Home Runs … Cepeda – 379, Parker – 339; RBI … Parker – 1,493, Cepeda – 1,365; Runs … Parker – 1,272, Cepeda – 1,131;  Stolen Bases … Parker 154, Cepeda – 142. They each earned an NL MVP Award and Cepeda’s Rookie of the Year Award is probably balanced by Parker advantage in Gold Gloves.

While I would vote Parker in, I don’t believe the Modern Game Committee is ready to forgive and forget. (And, there is also that distinction that Parker’s legal troubles occurred while he was an active player. Cepeda’s issues arose after he retired.)

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Luis Tiant, RHP, 1964-82 … Indians, Twins, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels

TiantI loved to watch Luis Tiant pitch – that unique motion.  I also like to watch/listen to him off the field – that energetic personality and the ever-present cigar.  And, Tiant put up some pretty good numbers –  229 wins (172 losses) and a 3.30 earned run average. Tiant was a 20-game winner four times. He also led the league in earned run average twice – and spectacularly both times (1.60 in 1968 & 1.91 in 1972). In addition, he led his league in shutouts three times and his 49 career whitewashes are 21st in MLB history. With the Red Sox in 1975, Tiant was a post-season hero – pitching a complete-game, three-hit shutout against the A’s in the AL Championship Series and picking up two of the Red Sox three wins against the Reds in the World Series (a complete game shutout in Game One and a complete game 5-4 win in Game Four). Tiant’s best season was 1968, when he went 21-9, with a league-low 1.60 ERA.  Even then, for Tiant, it was a totally “right” season at the “wrong” time.  Denny McClain won the AL Cy Young Award (unanimous selection) with a 31-6, 1.96 mark and, over in the NL, Bob Gibson overshadowed Tiant’s sparkling ERA with a 1.12 earned run average of his own.

Ultimately, Tiant came up short in the traditional HOF balloting (a high of 30.9 percent) and comes up a bit short when the balloting limit for these Modern Game candidates is limited to four votes. Tiant never won a Cy Young Award and was selected to just three All Star teams.  I’m not saying a vote for Tiant would be a misplaced vote, but I believe he needed a handful more wins (say reaching 250) or a Cy Young Award to challenge Jack Morris and Tommy John on this ballot.  An attention-grabbing Game Seven World Series win – or a season or two of leading the league in wins or strikeouts also could have put him over the top. Very simply, with limited voting I expect Tiant will have to wait.

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

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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.

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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.

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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 maintaining 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) said 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 “hot” 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, popcorn, 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 from 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” intentional 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 responses 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 or coach visit to the mound).

Respondents also wanted to reduce the time between innings or pitching changes – 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 header each month; more day games; demote umpires (back to the minors) the same way you demote/call-up players; eliminate the new “slide” and intentional walk rules.

—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.  You’ll find additional baseball commentary, blog post notifications and prizes. 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

A New Long Ball Record … Some Random Observations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HR Per Game chart

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

SO9

A few K-related observations:

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

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

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

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.

________________________

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.

Primary resources: Baseball-Reference.com; MLB.com; Society for Americana Baseball Research.

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