Yesterday’s MLB Off-Day Trivia Answer

dirty baseball photo

Photo by kelly.sikkema

Yesterday, BBRT focused on Mike Trout’s exceptional All Star Game performance(s) – including the fact that he is one of only ten players to hit for the (career) cycle in the All Star Game.  To see that post, click here. Your MLB off-day (All Star break) trivia question was, “Who are the other nine players to hit a single, double, triple and home run during their All Star Game appearances?”

Here’s the list – and it puts Mike Trout in some pretty good company.

 

Ernie Banks

George Brett

Roberto Clemente

Prince Fielder

Steve Garvey

Willie Mays

Mike Schmidt

Lou Whitaker

Ted Williams

Tomorrow – baseball’s back!

Coming soon to BBRT: A Review of the newest book from Tom Zappala and Ellen Zappala – The 100 Greatest Baseball Autographs.

 

For more baseball trivia – if you haven’t already tried BBRT’s two (99 questions) quizzes, click here for Quiz One and here for Quiz Two. 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research (SABR); The Baseball Reliquary;

Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

Photo by ColumbusCameraOp

All Star Game Haiku – and an Off-Day Trivia Question

All Star Game Haiku

 

It is clear, no doubt

The Major League All Star Game

Belongs to Mike Trout

 

As we face the darkest day of summer – no MLB games scheduled – here is a little All Star Game trivia and a question to think about on this day without baseball. (Answer posted tomorrow).

Mike Trout photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Mike Trout was apparently born to own the All Star Game. In his first five full MLB seasons, Trout has made the All Star team five times.  In those five games, The “Millville Meteor” has hit .461 (six-for-thirteen), with two singles,  two doubles, a triple, a home run, three runs scored, three RBI and a stolen base.  Add in his two walks and Trout’s All Star on-base percentage is .533.

Trout has also proven to be a fast starter.  He’s managed a hit in his first at bat in each of his five All Star Games (more on that in just a bit).

Trout also has two All Star Game MVP awards to his credit (2014 and 2015), one of only five players to accomplish that feat and the only one to achieve it in consecutive seasons.  The other two-time ASG MVP’s are: Willlie Mays (1963, 1968); Steve Garvey (1974, 1978), Gary Carter (1981, 1984); Cal Ripken Jr. (1991 and 2001).

Trout is also one of only ten players to hit for the career cycle (single, double, triple and home run) in the All Star Game.  Trout accomplished the cycle in his first four All Star contests – and he did it in his first at bat in each game, and in order.

Now, for the trivia question. Name the other nine players to hit for the All Star Game cycle. I’ll give you their initials – and post the answer tomorrow. Note: Bold Face = Hall of Famer.

EB

WM

TW

GB

RC

SG

MS

LW

PF

For some All Star Game firsts,click here.

Comments on some All Star Game bests,click here. 

A look at the All Star Game in Minnesota, click here.

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

June Wrap Up – It Was A Scorcher

JuneWrapJuly is upon us, and that means it’s time for BBRT’s look at the previous month. Clearly, things heated up a bit in June:

  • The Orioles set a new MLB record for June HR’s and fell just two long balls shy of the record for any month.
  • Jose Altuve of the Astros hit a scorching .420, and the Orioles hit .300 as a team.
  • The White Sox hit seven home runs in a game – and lost.
  • The Rockies and Marlins played a game (which ended in a 5-3 Rockies’ win) in which every run scored on a solo home run.
  • The Braves’ Freddie Freeman hit for 2016’s first cycle.
  • The Giants chose to NOT use a DH in a game at Oakland, letting pitcher Madison Bumgarner bat for himself. Madbum doubled in his first at bat – leading off the third inning.

We’ll look at all of this and more in this post – as well as the usual statistics, leader boards and off-the-wall BBRT observations. (This post can get a bit long – a month of stats, after all.  If you prefer a look at other recent posts, there are links in the sidebar to the right.)

BBRT Note:  Apologies for being a day late on this post.  Our Golden Retriever

Windsor

Windsor

“Windsor” passed away a few weeks ago (cancer) and we decided to honor him by adopting a rescue dog.  Had a long drive/day on May 30th picking her (Wendy) up.  She was rescued from Turkey – and, while she needs lots of TLC, she is very sweet.

Wendy

Wendy

 

 

 

 

 

INDIANS HEAT UP – MOVE INTO FIRST PLACE

Cleveland Progressive field photo

Home to the hottest team in baseball. Photo by Ken Lund

No team was hotter in June than the Cleveland Indians, who went an MLB-best 22-6 and ended the month on an active 13-game win streak – although the Orioles challenged with a 19-9 record, driven by 56 home runs (a new June MLB team record). The Giants posted the NL’s top record for the month at 17-10.  BBRT Note: The Rangers also had a big month, 20-8, the only team other than Cleveland to reach 20 victories.

On the opposite end of the scorecard were the Angels, Pirates and Phillies, who suffered June swoons. The Angels’ 8-19 was the worst June mark in MLB, while the Pirates and Phillies each posted NL-worst 9-19 records. The biggest stumble probably belongs to the Red Sox, who went 10-16 – dropping from the top of the AL East (with a three-game lead) to second-place (five games behind the Orioles).

If the season ended June 30, your playoff teams would be:

AL Division Leaders: Orioles, Indians, Rangers.  Wild Cards: Red Sox, Royals.

NL Division Leaders: Nationals, Cubs, Giants.  Wild Cards: Dodgers Mets.

The full standings – with June won-lost records included – can be found at the end of this post.

BASEBALL ROUNDTABLE MONTHLY HONORS

 NL Player of the Month:  Wil Myers, 1B, Padres.

The 25-year-old Myers hit .327, with 11 home runs, 33 RBI and 25 runs scored for the Padres in June – and tossed in five steals in six attempts. Clearly, 2016 marks a comeback season for the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year (Rays), whose past two seasons have been hampered by wrist injuries. (In 2014-2015, Myers played in a total of 147 games, hitting .235 with 14 home runs.)

NL Pitcher of the Month – LHP Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies

Rockies’ veteran southpaw Jorge De La Rosa (35-years-old in his 13th MLB season) came into June with a 1-4 record and a 10.52 earned run average – and then turned things around big time.  In five appearances, three starts, De La Rosa went 4-0, with a 1.96 ERA – and four of those outings were in hitter-friendly Colorado.

AL Player of the Month – Jose Altuve, 2B,  Astros

It was tempting to go with Edwin Encarnacion – who hit .308, tied for the MLB June HR lead with 11 and was one of only two players to drive in 30 or more runs for the month.  However, BBRT could not ignore Altuve’s .420 June average (highest among MLB qualifiers) and his MLB-leading 42 base hits and .492 on-base percentage.  Altuve’s June line: .420, four home runs, 15 RBI, 19 runs scored, six steals.

AL Pitcher of the Month – Danny Salazar, RHP, Indians

Salazar won all five of his June starts, putting up a 1.91 ERA and fanning 35 batters in 33 innings. On the season, he is 10-3, with a 2.22 ERA and 107 whiffs in 93 1/3 innings.

AL Team of the Month – Orioles and Indians (tie)

BBRT’s first-ever tie for team of the month goes to the Orioles (on the basis of their power bats) and the Indians (on the basis of their power arms). The Orioles went 19-9 for the month, moving into first place in the AL East. They did it with offense, setting a new MLB record for home runs in June with 56 and leading MLB in average (.300), runs scored (185), hits (294); doubles (58); HR’s (56); and  total bases (520). Among the key June surge contributors: CF Adam Jones (.314-11-27); 1B Chris Davis (.284-9-24); and RF Mark Trumbo (.281-8-23).

The Indians actually outperformed the Orioles, going 22-6 (the best June record in MLB) and ended the month on a 13-game winning streak – behind a pitching staff that led MLB (in June) in ERA (2.42); complete games (four – no other team had more than one); shutouts (four); and batting average against (.213). Among the key contributors: Danny Salazar (5-0, 1.91 in June); Trevor Bauer (3-0, 2.01); Corey Kluber (4-1, 2.19); closer Cody Allen (1 win, six saves, 2.38).

NL Team of the Month – Giants

The Giants led the NL in wins (17-10) and did it with a balanced approach – giving up the fifth-fewest runs in the NL and scoring the third most (while also recording the NL’s highest June team batting average at .277). Among the team’s leading June performers: 1B Brandon Belt (.320-5-17); C Buster Posey (.319-2-15); SS Brandon Crawford (.315-1-23); P Johnny Cueto (3-0, 2.67); P Madison Bumgarner (3-2, 2.34).

Now, Let’s take a look at some unique events from June – and then (for those inclined to continue) go on to look at the month’s statistical leaders and losers.

I Remember this from Little League – But It Worked in the Show

On June 28, as the Cubs topped the Reds 7-2 in 15 innings, Cubbies’ manager Joe Maddon pulled out all the stops (or “Strops”) using six left fielders, including three called in from the bullpen.

All 24 position players (both teams) got into the game, and Maddon even used a trio of pitchers in left field. Reliever Spencer Patton started the 14th inning (scored tied 2-2) on the mound, retiring Reds’ SS Brandon Phillips on a fly out to center.  Then Maddon moved Patton to left field (in place of Chris Coghlan) and brought reliever Travis Wood to the mound to face Reds’ RF Jay Bruce. Wood retired Bruce on a grounder to first base. Maddon then pulled another switch – a one-for-one – with Patton coming back to the mound and Wood going to left field. Patton retired jhot-hitting Reds’ LF Adam Duvall on a grounder to second.  The Cubs scored five runs in the top of the fifteenth – and, as part of the rally, pitcher Jason Hammel had pinch hit for pitcher Spencer Patton. So, to start the inning, Wood moved back to the mound and reliever Pedro Strop came in to play left field in place of pinch hitter Hammel. (Patton, but the way, got the win.)

Lots of Offense – Even at “Pitcher Perfect Petco”

Petco Park photo

Petco Park – Site of a baseball hurricane. Photo by SD Dirk

The Mariners and the Padres faced off early in the month at San Diego’s notoriously “pitcher friendly” Petco Park – and seemingly set the tone for an offense-dominated month of June across MLB. The Padres started the month off with a 14-6 win over the Mariners. On the second day of the month, the outburst continued, as Seattle came back from a 12-2 deficit after five innings, to pound their way to a 16-13 win. The comeback from a ten-run deficit was the largest comeback in Mariners’ history – and the ten-run lead was the largest lead ever coughed up by the Padres. BBRT Note: The June 2 game was the highest-scoring contest (29 total runs) ever at Petco Park. 

Long Gone

The Orioles smashed 56 home runs in June, setting a new June record for round trippers.  (The 1996 Oakland A’s had 55 June homers).

BBRT Note:  The record for home runs in any single month is 58: Orioles – May 1987; Mariners – May 1999.

White Sox Blast Their Way Into the Loss Column

On June 25, the White Sox tied an MLB record by hitting seven home runs IN A LOSS. Despite out-homering the Blue Jays 7-1, the ChiSox dropped the game by a 10-8 score.  All of the White Sox home runs were solo shots and, despite the outburst, the Sox never had the lead.

Rockies Blast Their Way Into the Win Column

On June 20, the Rockies topped the Marlins 5-3 in Miami, not an unusual outcome.  However, the fact that all eight runs scored on solo home runs made MLB history. It marked the highest score of any game in which every run scored on a solo homer – literally crushing the previous record of five (Mariners 3 -Angels 2; May 4, 2015).

Keeping It Clean

The Miami Marlin’s went a record (since 1913) 28 consecutive games without committing an infield error – the team’s first and only June infield error came on the last day of the month. The streak, which began on May 30, ended on June 30, with an error by third baseman Martin Prado.

Top Ten List. A Ticket to the Hall?

Albert Pujols photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Angels’ DH Albert Pujols moved one notch closer to MLB’s top-ten career home run list on June 25, when he hit his 14th home run of the season and the 574th of his career.  The blast moved him past Harmon Killebrew into 11th place all time.  Next target?  Mark McGwire at 583.  Pujols next homer will put him on another list.  It will make him just the fifth player to hit at least 15 round trippers in each of his first 16 seasons.  The others are: Eddie Mathews, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Barry Bonds. All but Bonds are in the Hall of Fame.

First Cycle of 2015

On June 15, Braves’ 1B Freddie Freeman notched the first cycle (single, double, triple, homer in a game) of 2016 – although he had to work overtime (13-innings) to get it. For more on Freeman’s cycle, click here.

Touch ‘Em All,  Miggy

When the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera homered against Miami’s Adam Conley in the fifth inning of the Tigers’ June 28 7-5 victory, it not only gave Detroit the lead – it completed Cabrera’s dance card, giving him a home run against all 30 MLB teams.

Keeping Control of Yourself

In the seventh inning of the Angels 4-3 win over the Indians on June 11, Indians’ DH Carlos Santana drew a four-pitch walk from Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker. No big deal, right? Not so fast.  It was Shoemaker’s first walk since May 13 – a period during which he pitched 39 2/3 walk-free innings, faced 155 batters and notched 49 strikeouts.  That total of 49 whiffs between free passes ties Pedro Martinez for the third-longest in MLB history (one and two go to Curt Schilling and Greg Maddux at 56 and 53, respectively).

Youth Will Be Served

On June 27, 24-year-old Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant lit up the Great American Ball Park, going five-for-five with three home runs and two doubles as the Cubs prevailed over a stubborn Reds’ squad by a score of 11-8. In the process, Bryant set a new Cubs’ record for total bases in a game and became just the second player in Cubs’ history to collect five extra base hits in a game (George Gore notched three doubles and two triples back in 1885).  A few notes:

  • Each of Bryant’s home runs exceeded 400-feet (410-444-403).
  • Bryant’s game helped break a 13-game slump in which he had hit just .167. The five-hit day raised his season average from .265 to .278.
  • Bryant played three positions in the contest (3B/RF/LF)
  • The HR’s brought Bryant’s season total to 21.
  • Bryant had four runs scored and six RBI for the game.

Age Will Be Served

Forty-year-old Boston DH David Ortiz continued to celebrate his “farewell tour” around MLB.  In June, Big Papi hit .337, with four home runs and 16 RBI. Another old-timer, 39-year-old Yankee RF Carlos Beltran did even better. In 82 June at bats, Beltran hit .366, with 7 homers and 22 RBI.

More Why I Hate the DH

On June 30, with the Giants playing at Oakland, SF manager Bruce Bochy opted to not use the DH – instead batting pitcher Madison Bumgarner in the number nine spot (the first time a team had voluntarily declined to use the DH since 1976). In his first at bat – leading off the Giants’ third – Bumgarner laced a double (he ended the night one-for-four in 12-6 Giants’ win).

_____________________________________________________

Now let’s look at the team and individual stats, first for the month of June and then year-to-date.

— TEAM BATTING LEADERS FOR JUNE —

BATTING AVERAGE

AL

Orioles – .300; Tigers – .288; Royals – .284

NL

Giants – .277; Nationals – .276; Padres – .275

The other side of the coin:

The Pirates hit an MLB low .230 for the month, while the Rays’ .250 average was the lowest in the AL.  The six lowest June averages belong to NL teams.

RUNS

AL

Orioles – 185; Blue Jays – 158; Tigers – 154

NL

Rockies – 155; Nationals – 149; Padres – 145; Giants – 145

The other side of the coin:

The Met tallied the fewest runs in June with 86 (only the Mets and Brewers scored less than 100), while the Royals’ 108 was the lowest AL total.

HOME RUNS

AL

Orioles – 56; Blue Jays – 47; Rangers – 45

NL

Cubs – 46; Rockies – 39; Nationals – 38

The other side of the coin:

Atlanta hit the fewest June round trippers with 18. The Royals were at the bottom of the AL with 25.

STOLEN BASES

AL

Indians – 26; Astros – 21;  Twins – 18

NL

Reds – 29; Padres – 27; Brewers -23

The other side of the coin:

Nobody stole fewer bags than the Cardinals in June – just three steals in ten attempts. The Orioles, Rays and Mets were close, with just four steals each.

— TEAM PITCHING LEADERS FOR JUNE —

ERA

AL

Indians – 2.42; Astros – 3.11; Rangers – 4.04

NL

Cubs – 3.12; Cardinals – 3.46; Dodgers – 3.60

The other side of the coin:

The Twins’ 5.50 ERA was June’s worst, followed by the  Phillies 5.34.

STRIKEOUTS

AL

Mariners – 248; Rays – 248; Yankees – 245

NL

Nationals – 273; Dodgers – 261; Cubs – 251

The other side of the coin:

The Rangers logged the fewest strikeouts in June (170), while the Cardinals had the fewest in the NL (175).

Royals’ pitchers gave up an MLB-worst 51 home runs in June, while the Cardinals allowed only 17 round trippers.

FEWEST FREE PASSES

AL

Astros – 60; Yankees – 64; Twins – 64

NL

Cardinals – 67; Nationals – 71; Giants – 73

The other side of the coin:

The White Sox gave an AL-leading 120 batters a free pass to first base, while the Reds walked an NL-worst 110.

SAVES

AL

Rangers -12; Orioles – 10; White Sox 10

NL

Brewers – 10; Mets – 10; Marlins – 9

The other side of the coin:

The D-backs led MLB with 8 blown saves in June, while the Mariners led the AL with six.

____________________________________________

Now, let’s switch to individual player stats for the month of June.

— INDIVIDUAL BATTING LEADERS FOR JUNE —

BATTING AVERAGE – minimum 75 plate appearances

AL

Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros – .420; Kendry Morales, DH, Royals – .402; Manny Machado, SS, Orioles – .370

NL

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs – .378; Ichiro Suzuki, CF, Marlins – .368; Carlos Gonzalez, RF, Rockies – .364

The other side of the coin:

MLB’s  lowest averages in June (75 or more plate appearances) go to Twins’ DH/1B Byung Ho Park (.136)  in the AL and Phillies’ SS Freddy Galvis (.178) in the NL. Others hitting under the Mendoza line (less than .200) for the month: White Sox 3B Todd Frazier (.167); A’s CF Billy Burns (194); Nationals’ 1B Ryan Zimmerman (.188); Pirates’ 1B John Jaso (19’7); Pirates’ 2B Josh Harrison (.198).

HOME RUNS

AL

Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Blue Jays – 11; Adam Jones, CF, Orioles – 11; Nelson Cruz, DH, Mariners – 10

NL

Wil Myers, 1B, Padres – 11; Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs – 11; three with nine

RBI

AL

Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Blue Jays – 30; Adam Jones, CF, Orioles – 27; Chris Davis, 1B, Orioles – 24

NL

Wil Myers, 1B, Padres – 33; Carlos Gonzalez, RF, Rockies – 29; Jake Lamb, 3B, D-backs – 27

RUNS

AL

Adam Jones, CF, Orioles – 30; Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Blue Jays – 29; two with 26

NL

Wil Myers, 1B, Padres – 25; Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs – 25; Charlie Blackmon, CF, Rockies – 24;

STOLEN BASES

AL

Raja Davis, CF, Indians – 10;  Eduardo Nunez, SS, Twins – 9; three with six

NL

Billy Hamilton, CF, Reds – 9; Melvin Upton, Jr., LF, Padres – 8; Ben Revere, CF, Nationals – 8

WALKS

AL

Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Blue Jays – 23; Robbie Grossman, LF, Twins -23; Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays – 22

NL

Joey Votto, 1B, Reds – 24; Matt Carpenter, 3B. Cardinals – 23; two with 1

The other side of the coin:

No one fanned more often in June than White Sox’ 3B Todd Frazier (38 times). In the NL, the whiff leader for the month was Braves’ 1B Freddie Freeman (34).

— INDIVIDUAL PITCHING LEADERS FOR JUNE —

ERA – minimum 30 innings

AL

Cole Hamels, Rangers – 1.51 (six starts); Steven Wright, Red Sox – 1.62 (five starts)

Danny Salazar, Indians – 1.91 (five starts)

NL

Carlos Martinez, Cardinals – 1.31 (five starts); Jon Lester, Cubs – 1.41 (six starts);

Zack Greinke, D-backs – 1.63 (six starts)

The other side of the coin:

Among pitchers with at least four games started, the Rockies’ Eddie Butler had the highest ERA – 11.22.  In the AL, that distinction went to the White Sox’ James Sheilds (11.07). 

WINS

AL

Danny Salazar, Indians – 5-0, 1.91; seven with four wins (Cole Hamels, Rangers; J.A. Happ, Blue Jays; Doug Fister, Astros; Chris Sale, White Sox; Corey Kluber, Indians; Martin Perez, Rangers; Aaron Sanchez Blue Jays

NL

Zack Grienke, D-backs – 4-0, 1.63; Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies – 4-0, 1.96; Jon Lester, Cubs – 4-0, 1.41; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers – 4-1, 2.36; Max Scherzer, Nationals – 4-1, 1.96

The other side of the coin:

The Rays’ Chris Archer started six games in June and led all MLB hurlers in losses (1-5, 4.97). 

Work Horses

Jon Lester of the Cubs and Trevor Bauer of the Indians led their league’s in innings pitched for June – both at 44 2/3.  No one topped Corey Kluber’s (Indians) two complete games in the month, and five hurlers threw a complete game shutout: Kluber; Jered Weaver, Angels; Carlos Carrasco, Indians; Zack Greinke, D-backs; Julio Teheran, Braves.

STRIKEOUTS

AL

Micheal Pineda, Yankees – 49 (36 innings pitched); Chris Archer, Rays – 45 (38 IP); Danny Duffy, Royals – 45 (36 innings pitched); Matt Shoemaker, Angels – 45 (42 IP)

NL

Max Scherzer, Nationals – 58 (41 1/3 innings pitched);  Jon Lester, Cubs – 44 (44 2/3 IP)

Gio Gonzalez, Nationals – 44 (33 2/3 IP)

SAVES

AL

Sam Dyson, Rangers – 10;  Zach Britton, Baltimore – 9; three with 8

NL

Juerys Familia, Mets – 10; Jeremy Jeffress, Brewers – 9; two with 8

Losing Control

No one issued more free passes in June than the Pirates’ Francisco Liriano (20 walks in 24 1/3 innings), which contributed to his 0-4, 7.03 record for the month. Over in the AL, Seattle’s Nate Karns walked a league leading 18 batters (25 1/3 innings) on the way to a 1-1, 6.75 June.

________________________________________

Now, a look at team leaders season-to-date (through June 30).

 — TEAM PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH JUNE —

ERA

AL

Indians – 3.42; Mariners – 3.89; Astros – 3.91

NL

Cubs – 2.86; Nationals – 3.33; Mets – 3.35

The other side of the coin:

Only three teams have recorded earned run averages over 5.00 through June, led (and not in a good way) by the Reds (5.52) and Twins (5.18).  The other, as might be expected, was the mile-high Rockies at 5.13.

STRIKEOUTS

NL

Nationals – 765; Dodgers – 744;  Cubs – 695

AL

Yankees – 689; Mariners – 678; Red Sox – 677

The other side of coin:

The Rangers’ and Pirates’ staffs  have fanned the fewest hitters at  530 and 559, respectively.

The Giants, despite playing in the NL, lead MLB in complete games with six – while the Phillies, despite only one complete game, lead MLB in shutouts with 9.

COMPLETE GAMES

AL

Indians – 5; Red Sox – 4; White Sox – 3

NL

Giants – 6; Cubs – 3; Dodgers 3

Ten of the thirty MLB teams have yet to record a complete game in 2016.

 FEWEST FREE PASSES

AL

Yankees – 179; Astros – 208; Twins – 211

NL

Mets – 197; Giants – 208; Nationals – 217

The other side of the coin:

The Reds lead all of baseball with 349 walks.  The AL leader is the White Sox with 276. (The top five teams in free passes are NL squads.)

The Yankees’ pitching staff leads the AL in strikeouts, while also allowing the fewest walks – a pitching double play.

SAVES

AL

Rangers – 30; Orioles – 27; White Sox 24

NL

Marlins – 29; Mets – 28; Brewers – 26

Throuugh June, the Mets and Yankees are the league leaders in save percentage (saves versus save opportunities): the Mets with 28 saves in 34 opportunities (82.4%); the Yankees with 23 saves in 28 opportunities (82.1%).  The Reds have the most blown saves (16 in 29 opportunities).

 — TEAM BATTING LEADERS THROUGH JUNE —

BATTING AVERAGE

AL

Red Sox – .286; Royals – .276; Orioles – .272

NL

Rockies – .276; Marlins – .271; D-backs – .269

HOME RUNS

AL

Orioles – 125; Blue Jays – 116; Mariners – 114

NL

Nationals – 107; Cardinals – 106; Cubs – 104; Rockies – 104.

The other side of the coin:

The Braves have shown the least power in MLB, with only 39 homers through June (the next lowest total is 66 by the Giants).  At the bottom of the HR race in the AL – the Royals (69).

RUNS SCORED

AL

Red Sox – 434; Orioles – 403; Rangers – 395

NL

Rockies – 418; Cubs – 415; Cardinals – 406

The other side of the coin:

Atlanta has scored the fewest runs through June at 264. The Twins are at the bottom of the AL, with 317.

STOLEN BASES

AL

Indians – 63; Astros – 63; Red Sox 51

NL 

Brewers – 67; Padres – 60; Reds – 56; D-backs – 56.

The other side of the coin:

Baltimore has the fewest steals with just 12 (in 25 attempts), the Mets trail all NL clubs with just 17 pilfered bags (32 attempts).

The Cardinals are the least efficient base stealers – with 18 steals in 33 attempts (55% success rate) – as compared to the Red Sox (51 steals in 60 attempts – 85%) at the top of the heap.

 

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BBRT will pass on individual pitching and batting leaders, since there are listed on line and in the print media daily.

Coming Soon: A review of Steven K. Wagner’s “Perfect – The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder.”

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Standings as of end of play June 30 (June record in parentheses)

AL EAST

                        W-L              Pct.    GB       June

Orioles             47-31           .603     …        (19-9)

Red Sox           42-36           .538     5.0       (10-16)

Blue Jays         43-38           .531     5.5       (15-12)

Yankees           39-39           .500     8.0       (15-12)

Rays                33-45           .423    14.0      (11-17)

AL CENTRAL

Indians           48-30             .615     …      (22-6)

Royals            42-36            .538     6.0      (13-14)

Tigers             41-38            .519     7.5       (17-11)

White Sox       40-39            .506     8.5       (12-14)

Twins              25-53            .321     23.0     (10-17)

AL WEST

Rangers          51-29           .638     …        (20-8)

Astros             42-37           .532     8.5       (18-8)

Mariners          40-39           .506     10.5      (10-18)

A’s                  35-44            .443     15.5     (11-15)

Angels            32-47            .405     18.5     (8-19)

____________________

NL EAST

Nationals         48-32           .600     …         (16-11)

Mets               41-37            .526     6.0       (12-15)

Marlins            41-38            .519     6.5       (14-13)

Phillies            35-45            .438     13.0     (9-19)

Braves            27-52            .342     20.5     (12-16)

NL CENTRAL

Cubs               51-27           .654     …        (16-12)

Cardinals         40-38           .519     11.0     (12-13)

Pirates            38-41            .481     13.5     (9-19)

Brewers           35-43            .449     16.0     (12-14)

Reds                29-51           .363     23.0     (12-16)

NL WEST

Giants            50-31            .617     …        (17-10)

Dodgers          44-37            .543     6.0       (16-12)

Rockies           37-41           .474     11.5      (13-14)

D-backs           36-45           .444     14.0      (13-14)

Padres             33-46           .418     16.0      (13-13)

First-Pitch-Ever Home Runs – A Few Fun Facts

baseball photo

Photo by slgckgc

Yesterday, (June 19, 2016), Wilson Contreras got his first major league at bat, pinch-hitting in the sixth inning of the Cubs 10-5 win over the Pirates at Wrigley Field. Contreras hit the first pitch from Pirates’ righty A.J. Schugel for a two-run home home run – becoming the thirtieth player in MLB history to home on the first pitch they ever saw.

BBRT would like to use Contreras’ accomplishment as an opportunity to take an updated look at those first-pitch dingers.  (A little teaser to begin with. Depending on how you count, either 23 percent or 27 percent of the members of the first-pitch-ever HR club are pitchers … one  was a pitcher, but being used as a pinch-hitter. Just another reason BBRT hates the DH.)

  • Homering on the first-ever MLB pitch has been accomplished 15 times in each league, with the feat accomplished by players from 18 of the 30 MLB franchises. Contributing to that balance is Washington D.C., which has seen the first-ever-pitch home runs accomplished by both an American Leaguer (Brant Alyea, Senators) and a National Leaguer (Tommy Malone, Nationals).
  • The Cardinals have the most first-ever-pitch home run hitters with four. The AL leader is the Blue Jays with three.
  • Of the 30 first-pitch-ever HRs, 19 were solo shots, six were two-run homers, three were three-run home runs and two were grand slams.
  • The two MLB players who have launched a Grand Slam on the first major league pitch they ever saw are Kevin Kouzmanoff for the Indians on September 2, 2006 and Daniel Nava for the Red Sox on June 12, 2010.
  • The first-ever first-pitch home run was hit on May 7, 1922, by Pirates’ RF Walter Mueller (a three-run shot). Mueller went two-for-five that day, with two runs and five RBI. He hit only two home runs in a four-year MLB career (121 games).
  • The first American Leaguer to homer on the first pitch he ever saw was Red Sox’ LHP Bill LeFevbre (June 10, 1938). While it was LeFebvre’s only MLB home run, he was a respectable hitter over his four-season MLB career (.276 average in 87 at bats). Unfortunately, on the mound, he posted a 5.03 ERA.

Gene Stechschulte – a 6’ 5”, 210-pound right-handed pitcher –  is the only MLB pitcher to homer on the first pitch he ever saw, while being used as a pinch-hitter.  Stechschulte’s homer (a two-run shot) came in the sixth inning of a Cardinals’ 17-4 loss to the Diamondbacks (April 17, 2001). It was only Stechschulte’s second professional at bat – and his second extra base hit.  He had one minor league at bat (in 204 games) collecting a double. In his MLB career, three seasons, 116 games (all in relief), Stechschulte came to bat just five times – collecting two hits (the initial home run and a single).

  • The most career home runs by a player who homered on the first MLB pitch he ever saw is 195 by Jay Bell (first-pitch HR at 2B for the Indians on September 29, 1986 – 18-season MLB career). Bell also has the mark for the most home runs hit in any subsequent season by a member of the first-pitch HR club at 38 (for the Diamondbacks in 1999).
  • The most home runs hit the season the player hit his first-pitch HR is 14 by outfielder Chris Richard (first-pitch homer for the Cardinals on July 17, 2000). Richard hit 34 home runs in five MLB seasons,with a high of 15 for the Orioles in 2001.)
  • Seven of the 29 players to hit first-pitch-ever dingers were pitchers (eight if you count pitcher Gene Stechschulte, who was being used as a pinch hitter when he accomplished the feat for the Cardinals on April 17, 2001). The other hurlers: Bill LeFebvre (Red Sox); Don Rose (Angels); Esteban Yan (Rays); Clise Dudley (Brooklyn Robins); Jim Bullinger (Cubs); Adam Wainwright (Cardinals); Tommy Milone (Nationals).
  • By the position they were playing, here is the first-pitch home run hitter count: pinch hitters (8); pitchers (7); left fielders (4); right fielders (3); first baseman (2); shortstops (2); designated hitters (2); second baseman (1); catchers (1).
  • Only two players hit a second round tripper in the same game in which they achieved their first-pitch HR. On July 23, 1964, A’s shortstop Bert Campaneris went three-for-four, with two homers, two runs and three RBI as his Kansas City Athletics topped the Twins 4-3 in eleven innings. On August 2, 2010, Blue Jays’ catcher J.P. Arencibia went four-for-five with two homers, a double, three runs and three RBI as the Blue Jays beat Tampa Bay 17-11. Arencibia is the only member of the first-pitch-ever HR club to also collect four hits in the same game.
  • Rays RHP Esteban Yan hit a long ball on the first pitch he ever saw in the big leagues (June 4, 2000). He went on to hit 1.000 for his career – although he had only two at bats in 11 seasons (a single and that initial HR).

Finally, the list:

Walter Mueller, RF, Pirates … May 7, 1922

Clise Dudley, P, Robins (Dodgers) … April 27, 1929

Eddie Morgan, PH, Cardinals … April 14, 1936

Bill LeFevbre, P, Red Sox … June 10, 1938

Clyde Vollmer, LF, Reds … May 31, 1942

George (Sam) Vico, 1B, Tigers … April 20, 1948

Chuck Tanner, PH, Braves … April 12, 1955

Bert Campaneris, SS, Athletics (KC) … July 23, 1964

Brant Alyea, PH, Senators … September 12, 1965

Don Rose, P, Angels … May 24, 1972

Al Woods, PH, Blue Jays … April 7, 1977

Jay Bell, 2B, Indians … September 29, 1986

Junior Felix, DH, Blue Jays … May 4, 1989

Jim Bullinger, P, Cubs … June 8 1992

Jay Gainer, 1B, Rockies … May 14, 1993

Esteban Yan, P, Rays … June 4, 2000

Chris Richard, LF, Cardinals … July 17, 2000

Gene Stechschulte, PH, Cardinals … April 17, 2001

Marcus Thames, RF, Yankees … June 10, 2002

Kaz Matsui, SS, Mets … April 6, 2004

Andy Phillips, PH, Yankees … September 26, 2004

Adam Wainwright, P, Cardinals … May 24, 2006

Kevin Kouzmanoff, DH, Indians …September 2, 2006

Mark Saccomanno, PH, Astros … September 8, 2008

Daniel Nava, LF, Red Sox … June 12, 2010

J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays … August 7, 2010

Tommy Milone, P, Nationals … September 3, 2011

Starling Marte, LF, Pirates … July 26, 2012

Eddie Rosario, RF, Twins … May 6, 2015

Wilson Contreras, PH, Cubs … June 19, 2016

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Photo by slgckgc

Photo by PaulHorner

Photo by andrewmalone

Photo by brazucany.tv

Third Annual BBRT John Paciorek Award

JPA2In 2014, BRT launched its own baseball award – The John Paciorek Award (JPA). The JPA recognizes players who have had short, maybe very short, major league careers, but whose accomplishments, nonetheless, deserve recognition.  Just as the emergence of these players on the MLB scene was often unexpected, the annual JPA is awarded on no specific timetable.  BBRT, in fact, most often uncovers these brief, but bright, stars when researching some unrelated baseball topic.

(Note: Information on John Paciorek’s career – the inspiration for the JPA – can be found at the end of this post. Paciorek’s day in the sun constitutes arguably the best one-game MLB career ever.)

 ________________ 2016 JPA Winner – John Allen Miller _______________

This year, BBRT honors John Allen Miller with the JPA – for crashing just two homers in his MLB career, but making them both historic.

John Miller (center) made his two MLB home runs historic.

John Miller (center) made his two MLB home runs historic.

John Allen Miller played parts of two seasons in the major leagues (1966 and 1969, with the Yankees and Dodgers, respectively).  An outfielder/first baseman, Miller played in a total of just 32 major league games, getting 61 at bats and just ten hits (.164 career average), two home runs and three RBI.  With that output, however, Miller earned a special place in the MLB record books.  Miller’s two round trippers came in his very first and very last MLB at bats – making him just one of two players in MLB history to homer in their first and final official appearances in a major league batter’s box. The other is Paul Gillespie – whose MLB career spanned three seasons during World War II (1942, 1944, 1945), all with the Cubs. Gillespie, a catcher, appeared in 89 games – hitting .283, with six home runs and 31 RBI; and went zero-for-six in the 1945 World Series.

Miller made his MLB debut with the Yankees on September 11, 1966. The 22-year-old was in his fifth professional season and had hit a promising .294, with 16 home runs and 59 RBI in 113 games at AA and AAA that season. Miller started that debut game (against the Red Sox at Fenway) in LF, batting seventh. In his very first big league at bat, he hit a two-out, two-run (Yankee starting CF Joe Pepitone was on base) home run off of Red Sox starter Lee Stange.  Despite the Yankees’ long heritage of home run hitters, Miller’s long ball made him the first Yankee to homer in his first MLB at bat. (Little did Miller know he would not get another home run or RBI until the final at bat of his MLB career.) Miller came to the plate four more times, notching a single and three strikeouts. Miller got in five more games in 1966, going zero-for-18.

The following April, Miller was traded (along with pitcher Jack Cullen and $25,000) to the LA Dodgers for utility infielder John Kennedy. Miller spent 1967 and 1968 at Triple A Spokane – putting up respectable numbers.  In 1969, he made it back to the big leagues, getting in 26 games (just 38 at bats) for the Dodgers. In the first 37 of those at bats, Miller collected seven hits (one double and six singles), scored twice, but did not collect an RBI.   Miller’s last at bat of the season (and what turn out to be the last at bat of his MLB career) came as a pinch hitter (September 23) in the eighth inning of a game at Cincinnati.  The Dodgers, trailing 6-2 sent Miller to the plate for pitcher Al McBean.  In that final MLB at bat, Miller stroked a solo home run off Reds’ starting pitcher Jim Merritt.  (Thus, not only did Miller homer in his first and final MLB at bats, all of his MLB RBI came in those two plate appearances as well.)

What further makes Miller’s case for the JPA is how close he came to not homering in his final at bat.   Miller almost came to the plate one more time – on September 27, as the Dodgers and Giants faced off at Dodger Stadium.  That game was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the eleventh inning. Southpaw Ron Bryant was on the mound for the Giants and, after getting Dodger SS Maury Wills to pop out, he gave up singles to LF Manny Mota and CF Willie Davis. Dodgers’ manager Walt Alston sent the right-handed hitting Miller up to hit for LA pitcher Jim Brewer.  Giants’ skipper Clyde King –playing the percentages – brought in veteran righty Don McMahon to pitch.  Alston countered by calling Miller back and sending up left-handed swinging Len Gabrielson (who singled in the winning tally.)  Without the switch, that final at bat home run could have become just an obscure next-to-last at bat dinger. Note: Miller did go on to play three seasons (1970-72) in Japan, hitting .249 with 72 home runs and 222 RBI in 382 games for the Chunichi Dragons.

________________________________________________________

PAST JOHN PACIOREK AWARD WINNERS:

2014 – Brian Scott Dallimore – In his first start (not his first game) for the 2004 Giants, Dallimore had two singles, a Grand Slam (his first MLB hit and only MLB home run), a walk and a hit by pitch.  For the full JPA take on Dallimore’s 27- game MLB career, click here.

2015 – Roy Gleason – Gleason played in just eight MLB games, had a double in his only MLB at bat – but also earned a World Series ring (1963) and a Purple Heart. Ultimately, he was the only ballplayer with MLB experience to serve on the front lines in Vietnam. For the full JPA take on Gleason, click here. Note: Gleason’s life is detailed in the book “Lost in the Sun – Roy Gleason’s Odyssey from the Outfield to the Battlefield.”  

INSPIRATION FOR THE JPA

pACIOREKJohn Paciorek – signed out of Saint Ladislaus High School in Hamtramck, Michigan (where he had starred in football, basketball and baseball) – appeared in his first major league game on the final day of the 1963 season (September 29) at the age of 18.  The 6’ 1”, 200-pound outfielder had spent the 1963 season with Class A Modesto Colts. The Colts’ parent club, the Houston Colt .45s (that was the current Astros’ franchise name back then), was suffering through a difficult season. The team was 65-96 going into that final game.  Looking to the future, Houston had, in fact, fielded an all-rookie lineup (average age 19) on September 27. Youth was still being served two days later when John Paciorek started his first MLB game. The results were surprising – and worthy of recognition.

Playing right field and batting seventh in a 13-4 win over the NY Mets, Paciorek ended up with three hits and two walks in five plate appearances, with four runs scored and three runs batted in.  Perhaps equally surprising is that it was not only Paciorek’s first major league appearance, it was to be his only MLB appearance.  Back pain the following spring, followed by surgery (he played 49 minor league games in 1964 and missed all of the 1965 season) put an end to his MLB playing days. (Paciorek did play in four more minor league seasons.)  Still, you will find John Paciorek in the Baseball Encyclopedia and his is arguably the greatest one-game MLB career ever.  Among one-gamers, he holds the record for times on base and runs scored, and shares the record for batting average, on base percentage and RBIs. 

paciorekPaciorek, by the way, went on to become a high school teacher and multi-sport coach and is the author of two books (Plato and Socrates – Baseball’s Wisest Fans and The Principles of Baseball: And All There Is To Know About Hitting.) You also can enjoy Paciorek’s prose (and expertise) directly at his blog “Paciorek’s Principles of Perfect Practice” by clicking here. You can find out even more about Paciorek in Steven Wagner’s 2015 book Perfect: The Rise and Fall of John Paciorek, Baseball’s Greatest One-Game Wonder.”  (BBRT will be reviewing “Perfect” in the near future.

A final note. John Paciorek’s insight into the national pastime should come as no surprise. Paciorek comes from a true “baseball family.”  He was the first born of eight siblings and was followed to the big leagues by younger brothers Jim and Tom Paciorek.  (Like John, Jim’s MLB career was short – 48 games for the Brewers in 1987. Brother Tom, however, achieved a .282 average over an 18-season MLB career.)

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research; The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

May MLB Wrap – David Ortiz, Daniel Murphy, Clayton Kershaw and More

MayCalThe MLB season has now moved into June, which means it’s time for BBRT’s traditional lengthy (Cut me come slack here, we are reviewing an entire month.) monthly wrap up.

There is plenty to write about in MLB for May.  It was a month in which the Giants (after a sub-.500 April) caught fire and were the only team to win twenty games (21-8); the Red Sox hit .305 as a team; three players with a minimum of 75 plate appearances hit .400 or better for the month (led by the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy at .416); reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper had a game in which he reached based seven times in seven plate appearances, without ever putting the ball in play; Clayton Kershaw went “old school,” going 5-0, with a 0.91 ERA and three complete games; and 40-year-old David Ortiz proved “old school” can be a good thing, hitting .347, for the month, with nine home runs and an MLB-leading 28 RBI.  And, there was plenty more that caught my attention over the past month. You can read the details in the Caught My Eye section of this post (in blue), but here’s a few more teasers from May’s play:

  • During the month, two pitchers – both with last-place teams – recorded four strikeouts in an inning.
  • On May 29, the Yankees topped the Rays 2-1, despite getting only one hit in the game – becoming the second team this season to win a game in which they collected only one safety.
  • Aroldis Chapman didn’t take the mound until May 9 (suspension) – and still recorded the 21 fastest pitches thrown in 2016 – with a high of 103.1 MPH.
  • The Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez rapped a two-run home run on May 6, which wouldn’t be unusual except that it was his 26th career round tripper – and the first 25 were solo shots.
  • On May 11, the Nationals’ Max Scherzer became just the fourth pitcher in MLB history to fan 20 batters in nine innings – and, like all those before him, didn’t walk a single hitter.
  • The White Sox turned their second triple play of the season – the record for a full campaign is three.
  • First basemen named Chris  proved to be May’s freest swingers – the Brewers’ 1B Chris Carter led the NL with 43 strikeouts in the month, while  Orioles’ 1B Chris Davis led the AL with 42.
  • And much, much more.

BBRT Players of the Month

AL:  David Ortiz (DH, Red Sox) — hit .347, with nine home runs and 28 RBI (tops in MLB)  in 98 May at bats.  Maybe life does begin at 40.

NL: Daniel Murphy (2B, Nationals) — hit .416 (tops among players with at least 75 plate appearances), with seven home runs, 23 RBI and 17 runs scored in 113 at bats.

BBRT Pitchers of the Month

AL: Zach Britton (Closer, Orioles) — had eight saves and one win in ten appearances, struck out 13 in 11 innings and gave up zero runs.

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Starter, Dodgers) — went 5-0 in six starts, struck out 65 in 49 2/3 innings, threw three complete games, had an ERA of 0.91 for the month.

BBRT Teams of the Month

AL: Boston Red Sox — went 18-10 (AL’s best May record) and led all of MLB in runs scored, home runs and batting average.

NL: San Francisco Giants — had MLB’s best May record (21-8), driven by the month’s lowest team ERA.

Before we get into the specific events that caught BBRT’s eye, let’s take a look (statistically) at who was hot and who was not for May – starting from a team perspective.

HOT AND NOT – FROM A TEAM POINT OF VIEW

At&T Park was a happy place in May. Photo by Saul Mora.

At&T Park was a happy place in May.
Photo by Saul Mora.

Wins and Losses – San Francisco and Boston Lead the Way

No team was hotter in in May than the San Francisco Giants, who took control of the NL West by winning 21 of 29 games during the month (MLB’s best May 2016 record).  The Giants did it with pitching – logging the month’s lowest ERA (2.66), while finishing 23rd among the 30 MLB teams in runs scored. Leading the way for the Giants were starting pitchers Madison Bumgarner (4-0, 1.05 in May), Johnny Cueto (4-0. 2.03) and Jeff Samardzija (4-2, 2.08).  Closer Santiago Casilla also racked up eight saves with a 1.38 ERA.

Over in the AL, the best record went to the Boston Red Sox at 18-10.  The Red Sox rolled to their 18 wins on the strength of a potent offense – leading all of MLB for the month in batting average (.305), runs scored (182) and home runs (46) – while posting the 17th best ERA.  Boston got particularly strong performances at the plate from SS Xander Bogaerts (.395-5-20); CF Jackie Bradley, Jr. (.381-8-24);  and DH David Ortiz (.347-9-28).

The worst record for May: Only two teams won fewer than ten games in May: The Reds in the NL (8-20) and the Twins in the AL (8-19). Both finished with the worst May ERA in their respective leagues (Twins at 5.96; Reds at 6.17). The Twins were second-t0-last in the AL in runs scored for the month (111, Baltimore scored one fewer), while the Reds finished near the middle (ninth) in the NL.

MAY’S TOP TEAM STATISTICS

Won-Lost

NL: Giants … 21-8; Cubs … 18-10; Dodgers … 16-12

AL: Red Sox … 18-10; five teams with 17 wins

Offensive Leaders for May

Runs Scored

AL: Red Sox (182); Mariners (156); Indians (147)

NL: Cardinals (150); Cubs (139); Rockies (137)

Batting Average

AL: Red Sox (.305); Royals (.288); Mariners (.283); Angels (.283)

NL: Rockies (.276);  Pirates (.273); Diamondbacks (.273); Marlins (.273)

Home Runs

AL: Red Sox (46); Mariners (45); Rays (44)

NL: Nationals (43); Mets (40); Reds (39)

Stolen Bases

NL: Brewers (31); Giants (26); Pirates (22)

AL: Rangers (23); Astros (23); Royals (20)

On the other side of the offense coin:

Fewest Runs Scored

NL: Phillies (84); Braves (86)

AL: Orioles (110); Twins (111)

Fewest Home Runs

NL:  Braves (16); Phillies (18)

AL:  Royals (24); White Sox (24)

Lowest Team Batting Average

NL:  Mets (.211); Padres (.215)

AL:  Yankees (.232);  Astros (.236)

Pitching Leaders for May

ERA

NL: Giants (2.66); Cubs (2.81); Dodgers (3.18)

AL: Blue Jays (3.44); Mariners (3.64); Yankees (3.72)

Strikeouts

NL:  Nationals (287); Dodgers (285); Cubs (245)

AL:  Astros (267); Indians (249); Yankees (243)

Fewest Walks Allowed

AL: Yankees (64); Twins (72); Mariners (74)

NL: Mets (66); Giants (67); Cardinals (72)

The other side of the pitching coin:

Worst May ERA

NL: Reds (6.17); Diamondbacks (4.83)

AL: Twins (5.96); A’s (5.70)

______________________________________________________________

TOP TEAM STATISTICS THROUGH MAY 31

Now that we’ve had a look at May’s team statistics, like look at the year-to-date (through May 31).  As we move into June, only one team is playing .700 ball (Cubs at 35-15, .700, and holding a 6 1/2 game lead in the NL Central). Other teams with at least 30 wins include division leaders Washington (32-21, .604), San Francisco (33-21, .611), Boston (32-20, .615). Conversely, only two teams are playing under.300 ball; the Twins and Braves both stand at 15-36, .294.

IF THE SEASON ENDED MAY 31

If the season ended at the close of play on May 31, your playoff teams would have been:

AL … Division Champions: Red Sox, Royals, Rangers.  Wild Cards: Orioles Mariners.

NL … Division Champions: Nationals, Cubs, Giants. Wild Cards: Mets, Pirates.

Now, let’s look at some of the stats behind the standings. (Note: You can find the full May 31 standings at the end of this post.)

__________________________________________________

TEAM OFFENSIVE LEADERS THROUGH MAY 31

Runs Scored

AL: Red Sox (308); Mariners (256); Rangers (246)

NL: Cardinals (292); Cubs (275); Rockies (262)

BBRT Note: Despite the impact of the DH, NL teams make up four of the top five in runs scored.

Batting Average

AL: Red Sox (.294); Royals (.272); Rangers (.262)

NL: Pirates (.283); Rockies (.277); Marlins (.272)

Home Runs

AL: Mariners (77); Rays (71); Orioles (69)

NL: Mets (73); Cardinals (71); Nationals (69)

Stolen Bases

NL: Brewers (44); Pirates (38); Diamondbacks (36)

AL: Astros (42); Royals (38); Indians (37)

On the other side of the offensive coin:

Fewest Runs Scored

AL: Twins (191); Yankees (193)

NL: Braves (161); Phillies (164)

Fewest Home Runs

NL; Braves (21); Phillies (39)

AL: Royals (44); Angels (47)

Lowest Team Batting Average

NL: Padres (.226); Braves (.228)

AL: Yankees (.232); Astros (.236)

Fewest Stolen Bases

AL:  Orioles (8); Mariners, Tigers, Angels (16 each)

NL: Mets (10); Marlins (13)

TEAM PITCHING LEADERS THROUGH MAY 31

ERA

NL: Cubs (2.65); Nationals (2.95); Mets (3.25)

AL: Mariners (3.37); White Sox (3.47); Blue Jays (3.64)

Strikeouts

NL: Nationals (492); Dodgers (483); Phillies (457)

AL: Red Sox (463); Yankees (444); Astros (444)

Saves

NL: Marlins (20); Phillies (19); Mets (18); Pirates (18)

AL: Rangers (18); Orioles (17); three teams with 16

Fewest Walks Allowed

AL: Yankees (115); Rays (137)

NL: Mets (122); Giants (135)

On the other side of the pitching coin:

Worst ERA

NL: Reds (5.83); Rockies (5.13)

AL: Twins (5.01); A’s (4.70)

Highest Batting Avg. Against

AL: Twins (.284); Tigers (.275)

NL: Rockies (.279); Reds (.277)

Most Walks Given Up

NL: Reds (239); Padres (220)

AL: Red Sox (178); Royals (178)

_____________________________________________________________

CAUGHT MY EYE

Now, let’s give the statistics a rest – and look at some unusual on-the-field  occurrences over the month of May.

Patience can be a virtue. Photo by Richard Martin.

Patience can be a virtue.
Photo by Richard Martin.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

The Nationals’ Bryce Harper was treated with an unusual amount of respect (even for a reigning MVP) on May 8. In a game that saw the Cubs top Harper’s Nationals 4-3 in 13 innings, Harper came to the plate seven times and reached base seven times – without ever putting the ball in play. Harper drew six walks (tying the MLB single-game record) and was hit by a pitch. (Harper’s reaching base seven times in a game without an official at bat is also a record.) Three of the walks to Harper were intentional – one shy of Barry Bonds’ single-game record. (BBRT Note: Harper scored just one run in the game.)

Oh-SOLO-Mee-Oh

Here’s something else you don’t often see –a two-run home run by the Astros’ Marwin Gonzalez.  On May 6, as the Astros topped the Mariners 6-3, Gonzalez (starting at first base) hit a two-run shot in the second inning.  Why did this catch BBRT’s eye?   It was Gonzalez’ 26th home run in five MLB seasons – and his first home run with a man on base. That’s right, Marwin started his career with an MLB-record 25 solo home runs. (By the way, second place on this “list” is 11 solo shots before connecting with a man on base.)

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

Stay Whiff Me on This

On May 11, the Nationals’ Max Scherzer tied an MLB record by fanning twenty batters in nine innings – joining Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to accomplish that feat.  Like all those before him, Scherzer notched his twenty K’s without issuing a single walk.  Scherzer, by the way,  gave up the most hits (6), most runs (2) and most home runs (2) ever in a nine-inning, 20-strikeout performance.  Scherzer did get the victory, as the Nationals topped the Tiger 3-2 in Washington.  For more on Scherzer’s gem and other 20-strikeout performances, click here.

 

Triple Your Pleasure – Doubly

On May 18, the White Sox turned their second triple play of 2016 (the record for a season is three), while losing to the Astros 5-3. This one went in the “classic” 5-4-3 style (third base to second base to first) – as compared to their first triple killing of the year (April 22), which was scored 9-3-2-6-2-5. 

Triple Play Trivia

The Minnesota Twins are the only team to turn two triple plays in a single game – a July, 17, 1990, contest that they lost to the Red Sox by a 1-0 score.

Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson hit into an MLB-record four triple plays in his career.

On May 16, 1913 the Philadelphia Athletics turned a triple play against the Cleveland  Naps in which the ball changed hands an MLB-record nine times:  6-2-5-1-5-4-5-6-5-7.

The Whiffing-Poof Song

Depending on how you look at it, the Astros/Orioles Series of May 24-26 resulted in either fame or infamy.  In the Series, Astros’ pitchers became the first staff ever to record 15 or more strikeouts in three consecutive games.  The Astros swept the O’s by scores of 3-2 (13 innings), 4-3 and 4-2 and struck out 19, 18, and 15 batters in each game, respectively. The 52 whiffs – 56 percent of all the Orioles’ outs –  were also a record for a three-game series.  The most frequent whiff victim was Orioles’ 1B Chris Davis, who fanned eight times in 14 at bats (he also had two walks).  Houston hitters struck out a total of 31 times in the three games – which means that 47 percent of all the outs  in the three-game set came via the strikeout. 

Boston – Streak City

May 26 marked the first Red Sox game in the month of May that didn’t feature a base hit by CF Jackie Bradley. Jr.  Bradley’s 29-game hitting streak stretched just over a month (April 24 to May 25).  During the streak, the 26-year-old OF hit .423 (44-for-104), with eight home runs, 30 RBI and 19 runs scored (and Boston went 21-8). When Bradley started his streak he was hitting just .233, with no home runs – at the end of the streak his average was up to .350.  Bradley had 19 one-hit games in keeping his streak alive – and also had six consecutive multi-hit games (May 8-13), when he went 15-for-25.

Bradley wasn’t the only Red Sox “streaker” in May.  May 5 marked the last game in the month that didn’t feature a hit by Boston SS Xander Bogaerts.  The 23-year-old Bogaerts ran off a 24-game hitting streak (still alive) – that began on May 6.  During his streak, Bogaerts has hit .394 (42-for-107), with five home runs, 16 RBI and 22 runs scored. When he began his streak he was hitting .309, with one home run.   At the end of May, he was hitting .350.

King of the Hill – Another Streak

When Jake Arrieta picked up the win (in a 9-8 Cubs victory over the Cardinals) on May 24, it not only marked a 9-0 start to the season for the Cubs’ ace, it also marked the 23rd consecutive Arietta start in which the Cubs earned a victory (tying a record set in 2012 by Kris Medlen). The last time the Cubs had lost a game that Arietta started was on July 25, 2015.  The streak, however, was broken on the last day of May, when the Dodgers topped the Cubs 5-0 at Wrigley – despite Arrieta’s seven shutout innings.  Arrieta left the game with the scored tied at 0-0, but the Cubs went on to take the loss (breaking the Arrieta streak).  In his last 24 starts, Arrieta has picked up up 20 wins and four no-decisions.

Won One – With One

On May 29, the Yankees topped the Rays 2-1 in Tampa Bay, despite collecting only one hit (Tampa had six).  Ray’s starter Jake Ordozzi actually carried a no-hitter and a 1-0 lead into the top of the seventh, when a one-out walk to Yankee LF Brett Gardner and a home run by Starlin Castro resulted in two Yankee runs. For the game, the Yankees had only three base runners – Gardner, Castro and 1B Dustin Ackley (safe on an error in the sixth).  It was the second game won by a team with just one hit this season. The Rangers also won their April 4 Opener (in Texas) by a score of 3-2 over Seattle – despite collecting only one hit. 

By the way, a win on just one hit is not a record.  Five teams have managed victories without collecting a single safety.  You can find details on those in the box at the end of the April Wrap Up – click here  to go to that post. 

Who’s On First?

MLB’s longest home run (thus far) of the 2016 season was hit in May.  Who hit it and when?  Ah, that’s is, indeed, the question(s).  According to Statcast™  that honor  goes to Rangers’ rookie Nomar Mazara – with a 491-foot shot on May 25 off the Angels’ Hector Santiago.  But, not so fast!  ESPN Home Run Tracker gives the honor to the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton, with a 490-footer on May 6 off the Phillies’ Hector Neris.  (Note: Statcast lists Stanton’s shot at 475 feet, while ESPN’s Home Run Tracker has Mazara’s blast at just 453 feet. Hopefully, someone will hit a 500-foot shot and put this discrepancy behind us.)

Four Whiffs in One Inning

The month of May saw two pitchers – one from each league – join the group of (now 74) pitchers who have struck out four batters in a single inning.

On May 8, the Minnesota Twins’ Tyler Duffy went into the  bottom of the seventh trailing the White Sox 2-1. Tuffy got Sox’ 2B Brett Lawrie on a swinging strikeout to open the frame, then whiffed DH Avasail Garica, who reached first base as the final strike came on a wild pitch that got by Twins’ catcher Juan Centeno. After a run-scoring double by Sox’ C Dioner Navarro, Duffey fanned CF Austin Jackson, walked RF Adam Eaton intentionally and struck out SS Jimmy Rollins for the final out. Duffey took the loss in a game in which he gave up three runs on six hits and two walks (while fanning nine) in seven innings.

On May 24, Atlanta Braves’  Julio Teheran took the mound against the Brewers in the top of the second of a scoreless game.  Teheran fanned Brewers’ C Jonathan Lucroy and 1B Chris Carter (both swinging) to start the inning, CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis then swung at a third-strike wild pitch (reaching first base on the strikeout). After giving up a single to 3B Aaron Hill, Teheran fanned RF Ramon Flores to end the inning. Teheran got a no decision (the Braves lost 2-1), going seven innings – giving up just one run on three hits, walking none and striking out  a dozen.

For those interested in such things, Chuck Finley holds the record for four-strikeout innings at three. The only other pitchers to accomplish the feat more than once are A.J. Burnett and Zack Greinke (twice each).

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Now, let’s get back to May’s statistical leaders.

It was quite a month, with three NL hitters topping the .400 mark (Daniel Murphy, Marcell Ozuna and Ben Zobrist); 40-year-old David Ortiz leading MLB in RBI with 28; Clayton Kershaw (no surprise there) dominating the NL pitching statistics (5-0, 0.91 ERA, 65 strikeouts); the A’s Rich Hill (some surprise here) turning in five wins and the AL’s lowest ERA; and the Reds’ Adam Duvall and A’s Khris Davis leading the NL and AL, respectively, in home runs.

LEADING INDIVIDUAL BATTING PERFORMANCES IN MAY

Batting Average (75 minimum plate appearances)

NL: Daniel Murphy (2B, Nationals) – .416; Marcell Ozuna (CF, Marlins) – .411; Ben Zobrist (2B, Cubs) – .406

AL: Xander Bogaerts (SS, Red Sox) – .395; Jackie Bradley, Jr. (CF, Red Sox) – .381; Ryan Bruan (LF, Brewers) – .364

Home Runs

AL: Khris Davis (LF, A’s) – 11; David Ortiz (DH, Red Sox) – 9; Mark Trumbo (RF, Orioles) – 9; Todd Frazier (3B, White Sox) – 9

NL: Adam Duvall (LF, Reds) – 11; Jonathan Lucroy (C, Brewers) – 9; Chris Carter (1B, Brewers) – 8; Yoenis Cespedes (CF, Mets) – 8

RBI

AL:  David Ortiz (DH, Red Sox) – 28; Mike Trout (CF, Angels) – 27; Eric Hosmer (1B, Royals – 27)

NL: Ben Zobrist (2B, Cubs) – 25; Adam Duvall (LF, Reds) – 24; Brandon Crawford (SS, Giants) – 23; Daniel Murphy (2B, Nationals) – 23

Stolen Bases

AL: Danny Santana (CF, Twins) – 8; five players with six

NL: Jonathan Villar (SS, Brewers) – 14; Starling Marte (LF, Pirates) – 10: Matt Duffy (3B, Giants) – 7

Walks Drawn

AL:  Carlos Santana (DH, Indians) – 23; Mike Trout (CF, Angels) – 21; Jose Bautista (RF-Blue Jays) – 19; George Springer (RF Astros) – 19

NL: Bryce Harper (RF, Nationals) – 31; Paul Goldschnidt (1B, Diamondbacks) – 24; Jonathan Villar (SS-Brewers) – 20

On the other side of the coin:

There were nearly two dozen players with at least 75 May plate appearances who hit under.200 – including Ryan Howard (Phillies), who went 7-for-69, averaging .101 for the month.  A couple of first baseman named Chris  finished  atop of the strikeout list. Milwaukee 1B Chris Carter led the NL with 43 whiffs in May (to go with a .198 average, eight home runs and 16 RBI); while Orioles’ 1B Chris Davis fanned an AL-leading 42 times in May (.210-3-11).

BEST INDIVIDUAL PITCHING STATS FOR MAY

ERA (minimum 30 innings pitched)

AL: Rich Hill (A’s) – 2.13; Marco Estrada (Blue Jays) – 2.14; Martin Perez (Rangers) – 2.23

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) – 0.91; Madison Bumgarner (Giants) – 1.05; Steven Matz (Mets) – 1.26

Wins

AL: Joe Quintana (White Sox) … 5-0; Nathan Eovaldis (Yankees) … 5-0; Rich Hill (A’s) …  5-1

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) and Jose Fernandez (Marlins) … all at 5-0.

Strikeouts

AL: Danny Salazar (Indians) – 46 (in 37 1/3 IP);  Justin Verlander (Tigers) – 46 (in 42 2/3 IP)

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) – 65 (in 49 2/3 IP); Max Scherzer (Nationals) – 60 in 42 1/3 IP);

Saves

AL: Francisco Rodriguez (Tigers), Luke Gregorson (Astros) and Zach Brzitton (Orioles) – 8 each

NL: Jake McGee (Rockies); Mark Melancon (Pirates); Jeanmar Gomez (Phillies); and Jeurys Familia (Mets) – all with 9

The other side of the coin:

Three pitchers took five losses in May: Michael Wacha of the Cardinals went 0-5, 6.75; Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals went 1-5, 5.18; and Taijuan Walker of the Mariners went 0-5, with a 4.91 ERA. Ubaldo Jimenez had an 8.28 ERA in six starts (one win and four losses) and tied for the AL lead in walks allowed (with the Orioles’ Chris Tillman) at 19. Alfredo Simon (Reds) had an ERA of 7.67 in five May starts (one win and two losses). Tom Koehler led MLB in walks allowed for the month, with 24 in 34 IP (six starts).

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STATISTICAL LEADERS THROUGH MAY

Now let’s look at the statistical leaders on the season as a whole. A few observations: Nationals’ 2B Daniel Murphy continues to flirt with a .400 average (.397); the Rockies’ 3B Nolan Arenado, who led the NL in HR’s and RBI last season, is again atop the league in both categories; David Ortiz (.335-14-47) is proving that life may begin at 40; Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.56) and Jake Arrieta (9-0, 1.56), tied for MLB’s lowest ERA, are performing as advertised; the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez (8-2, 2.53. 96K in 67 2/3 innings) and A’s Rich Hill (8-3, 2.25) are catching a few people by surprise; and Robinson Cano (.291-15-45) is back.

BATTING LEADERS THROUGH MAY 31

Batting Average (150 plate appearances)

NL: Daniel Murphy (2B, Nationals) – .397; Ryan Braun (LF, Brewers) – .348; Ben Zobrist (2B, Cubs) – .345

AL: Xander Bogaerts (SS, Red Sox) – .350; Victor Martinez (DH, Tigers) – .343; Eduarado Nunez (SS, Twins) – .340

Home Runs

AL; Todd Frazier (3B, White Sox) – 16; Robinson Cano (2B, Mariners) – 15; Mark Trumbo (RF, Orioles) – 15

NL: Nolan Artenado (3B, Rockies) – 16; Yeonis Cespedes (CF, Mets) – 15; Trevor Story (SS, Rockies) – 14

RBI

AL: David Ortiz (DH, Red Sox) – 47; Robinson Cano (2B, Mariners) – 45; three with 40

NL: Nolan Arenado (3B, Rockies) – 43;  Anthony Rizzo (1B, Cubs) – 37; Kris Bryant (3B, Cubs) – 37; Yoenis Cespedes (CF, Mets) – 37

Runs Scored

AL: Mookie Betts (RF, Red Sox) – 49; Ian Kinsler (2B, Tigers) – 44; Xander Bogaerts (SS, Red Sox) – 42

NL: Gregory Polanco (RF, Pirates) – 38; Ben Zobrist (2B, Cubs) – 37; Kris Bryant (3B, Cubs) – 37; Nolan Arenado (3B, Rockies) – 37

Stolen Bases

NL: Jonathon Villar (SS, Brewers) – 19; Starling Marte (LF Pirates) – 17; Melvin Upton, Jr. (LF, Padres) – 10; Billy Hamilton (CF, Reds) – 10

AL: Jose Altuve (2B, Astros) – 15; Billy Burns (CF, A’s) – 12; Rajai Davis (CF, Indians) – 11; Jacob Ellsbury (CF, Yankees) – 11

Walks Drawn

NL: Paul Goldschmidt (1B-Diamondbacks) – 49; Bryce Harper (RF, Nationals) – 48; ; Brandon Belt (1B, Giants) – 36

AL: Jose Bautista (RF, Blue Jays) – 40; Mike Trout (CF, Angels) – 35; Joe Mauer (1B, Twins) – 31; Carlos Santana (DH, Indians) – 31

On the other side of the coin:

The following players with at least 150 plate appearances are all hitting below the “Mendoza Line”  (under .200): Ryan Howard (Phillies) – .154; Chris Coghlan (A’s) – .157; Yan Gomes (Indians) – .171; Derek Norris (Padres) – .179; Erik Aybar (Braves) – .182; Mark Teixeira (Yankees) – .190; Kendrys Morales (Royals) – .193; Prince Fielder (Rangers) – .194; Russell Martin (Blue Jays) – .197); Peter Bourjos (Phillies) – .199; Danny Espinoza (Nationals) – .199

In the strikeout race, only four players have whiffed 70 or more times: Trevor Story (Rockies) – 76K in 204 at bats; Justin Upton (Tigers) – 72 K in 184 at bats; Miguel Sano (Twins) – 71K in 179 at bats); Chris Davis (Orioles) – 70K in 185 at bats

BEST STATISTICS BY PITCHERS THROUGH MAY 31

ERA (at least 50 innings pitched)

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) – 1.56; Jake Arrieta (Cubs) – 1.56; Noah Syndergaard (Mets) – 1.84

AL: Jose Quintana (White Sox) – 2.13; Rich Hill (A’s) – 2.25; Chris Sale (White Sox) – 2.29

Wins

NL: Jakes Arrieta (Cubs) – 9-0; Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) – 9-0; Johnny Cueto (Giants) – 8-1; Jose Fernandez (Marlins) – 8-2

AL: Chris Sale (White Sox) – 9-1; Rich Hill (A’s) – 8-3; five with seven wins

Strikeouts

NL: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers) – 105; Jose Fernandez (Marlins) – 96; Max Scherzer (Nationals) – 90; Stephen Strasburg (Nationals) – 90

AL: David Price (Red Sox) – 79; Justin Verlander (Tigers) – 77; Chris Sale (White Sox) – 76

Saves

NL: Jeanmar Gomez (Phillies) – 17; Jeurys Familia (Mets) – 17; Mark Melancon (Pirates) – 16; A.J. Ramos (Marlins) – 16

AL: Wade Davis (Royals) – 15; Francisco Rodriguez (Tigers) – 14; ; Zach Britton (Orioles) – 14

On the other side of the coin:

The leaders in losses are: Phil Hughes (Twins) 1-7; Jared Eickhoff (Phillies) 2-7; James Shields (Padres) 2-7; Drew Smyly (Rays) 2-7; Matt Harvey (Mets) 4-7.  Six pitchers with at least fifty innings pitched have ERA’s over 6.00: Micheal Pineda (Yankees) – 6.92; Anibel Sanchez (Tigers) – 6.67; Wily Peralta (Brewers) – 6.51; Ubaldo Jiminez (Orioles) – 6.36; Jake Peavy (Giants) – 6.34; Clay Bucholz (Red Sox) – 6.24

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Now the Standings

 

MAY 31, 2016 STANDINGS  (May W-L in parenthesis)

AL EAST

Red Sox          32-20     .615     …    (18-10)

Orioles             28-22    .560     3.0    (14-13)

Blue Jays         28-26   .519      5.0    (17-12)

Yankees           24-27    .471     7.5    (16-13)

Rays                22-28     .440     9.0   (11-16)

AL CENTRAL

Royals              29-22     .569     …     (17-11)

White Sox         28-25     .528     2.0     (11-17)

Indians             26-24      .520     2.5    (16-13)

Tigers                24-27     .471     5.0     (11-17)

Twins                15-36     .294     14.0    (8-19)

AL WEST

Rangers             31-21     .596     …     (17-11)

Mariners             30-21     .588     0.5     (17-11)

Angels                24-28    .462     7.0      (13-15)

Astros                 24-29    .431     7.5     (17-12)

A’s                      24-29    .453     7.5     (11-17)

 

NL EAST

Nationals         32-21     .604     …     (16-14)

Mets               29-22     .569     2.0     (14-15)

Marlins            27-25    .519     4.5     (15-14)

Phillies             26-26   .500     5.5     (12-16)

Braves            15-36   .294     16.0     (10-18)

NL CENTRAL          

Cubs                35-15     .700     …     (18-10)

Pirates             29-22     .569     2.0    (14-13)

Cardinals          28-25    .528     8.5     (16-13)

Brewers            23-29   .442     13.0     (15-14)

Reds                 17-35    .327   19.0     (8-20)

NL WEST
Giants            33-21   .611     …     (21-8)

Dodgers         28-25   .528     4.5     (16-12)

Rockies          24-27   .471    7.5     (13-15)

D-backs          23-31   .426    10.0     (11-17)

Padres             20-33    .377  12.5     (11-18)

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CATFISH HUNTER IMMORTALIZED IN SONG

Let’s wrap up the May Wrap Up with a musical interlude.  May 24 happened to be Bob Dylan’s 75th birthday – and Dylan once immortalized A’s pitcher Catfish Hunter in song (a tune appropriately titled “Catfish,” recorded by Dylan and covered by Joe Cocker.  And, here it is.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Dotel, Bautista, Youngblood – Kings of MLB “Journey-men”

Trades, Free Agency, Waiver Wire – There are lots of ways to move from team to team on a player’s major league journey.  In this post, BBRT will take a look at a handful of players who could be considered the kings of that journey.  I’m talking about the MLB record holders for teams played for in a career, a season and a single day.

Octavio Dotel – 13 MLB Teams Played For in His MLB Career

Photo by" Jon Dawson

Photo by: Jon Dawson

Dominican-born Octavio Dotel traveled a long way to get to the major leagues.  And, after spending four of his first five MLB seasons with the Houston Astros, his travels were just beginning. The 6-foot, 230-pound right-handed pitcher would take the mound for 11 more teams over the next ten seasons – and holds the record for the most MLB franchises played for in a career at 13. Dotel, who retired at the age of 40, appeared in 758 games; put up a 59-50 record, with 109 saves; and struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings (1,143 whiffs in 951 innings pitched).

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s look at the career of major league baseball’s “King of the Road.”

Dotel signed with the Mets in 1995 (at the age of 21). Between 1995 and 1999, he worked his way through the Mets’ minor league system, pitching in 102 games (92 starts), with a 44-23 record, a 3.27 ERA and 613 strikeouts in 560 2/3 innings.

Dotel’s work earned him a promotion to the Mets in June of 1999 and he appeared in 19 games for New York (14 starts). He managed an 8-3 record, despite a 5.38 ERA – helped no doubt by his 85 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings pitched. In December of 1999, Dotel was traded (along with minor league pitcher Kyle Kessel) to the Astros for OF Roger Cedeno and LHP Mike Hampton. It would be the first of many moves for Dotel. It was also probably the most fortuitous, because it ultimately led to another  move – from the starting rotation to the bullpen.

In 2000, Dotel began the season in the Astros’ rotation and, in 16 starts, went 1-5 with a 5.84 ERA. An injury to Astros’ closer Billy Wagner, however, sent Dotel to the bullpen, where he notched two wins and 16 saves in 34 appearances (4.24 ERA). Dotel’s days as a starter were basically over.  (During the next 13 seasons, Dotel would make only four starts in 689 appearances.) Over the next three-and-a-half seasons, Dotel was a fixture in a solid Astros’ pen – going 19-17, with 26 saves, a 2.42 ERA and 410 strikeouts in 324 innings.

Then, on June 24, 2004, Dotel began his “MLB Journey” in earnest. On that day, as part of a three-team trade, Dotel moved from the Astros to the A’s (where he added six wins and  22 more saves in 45 appearances)  Over the next eight seasons, Dotel (as a result of four trades and six signings as a free agent) would pitch for the Yankees, Royals, Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Dodgers, Rockies, Blue Jays, Cardinals and Tigers. In 2010 alone, he would take the mound for three MLB teams – the Pirates, Dodgers and Rockies.

Dotel also pitched in the post season for the Mets (1999), Astros (2001), White Sox (2008), Cardinals (2011) and Tigers (2012). In 26 post-season appearances, he went 3-1, with a 3.86 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. Dotel – traveling MLB’s “Long and Winding Road” was a valuable addition to a dozen bullpens – as he racked up innings and strikeouts for a record 13 MLB teams.

MOST MLB FRANCHISES PLAYED FOR IN A CAREER

Octavio Dotel (RHP) – 13 franchises in 15 seasons (1999-2013)

Mike Morgan (RHP) – 12 franchises in 22 seasons (1978-2002)

Matt Stairs (OF/1B) – 12 franchises in 19 seasons (1992-2011)

Ron Villone (LHP) – 12 franchises in 15 seasons (1995-2009)

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Jose Bautista – Four MLB Teams Played for in a Single Season

Photo by: Keith Allison

Photo by: Keith Allison

 

While Octavio Dotel currently holds sole possession of the record for most franchise played for in a career, the record for MLB teams played for in a season (four) is shared by thirteen players. I’ll provide the whole list, but let’s look in more detail at the most recent (and, arguably, best known) player to accomplish this feat. In 2000, 19-year-old Jose Baustista was drafted by the Pirates in the 20th round of the MLB draft. He played in the Pirates’ minor league system until 2003. In those three seasons, Bautista took the field in 349 games, hitting .287, with 24 home runs and 100 RBI – never rising above High A ball. The Pirates left Bautista unprotected in the 2003 Rule Five Draft – and thus began his record-tying odyssey.

Picked up by the Orioles, Bautista started the 2003 season on the Baltimore roster, but seldom left the bench. In fact, by early June, he had only 11 at bats – and the Orioles placed him on waivers.  Bautista was claimed by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on June 3, but got only 12 at bats with the Rays between then and June 28, when his contract was purchased by the Kansas City Royals. Within a month (and 25 at bats), the Royals traded Bautista to the Mets, who put him on their major league roster and then (on the same day) included him in a trade with the Pirates (Remember them – Bautista’s original team).  The Pirates kept him on the major league roster for the remainder of the season (40 more at bats). So, Bautista took the field that season for the Orioles, Devil Rays, Royals and Pirates.

Remember that brief stint with the Mets (no games played, traded on the same day he was acquired)?  While he didn’t play for the Mets, his brief time on the Mets’ roster means Bautista was on a record five different major league rosters in one season. (There may be a second player to appear on five MLB rosters in a season; although he only played on three teams.  BBRT is working to confirm this. See the statistical note at the end of this post. )

How did Joey Bats do in his four-team/five-roster season?  He played in 64 games, had 88 at bats, a .205 average, zero home runs and two RBI.  From that highly traveled and inauspicious start, Bautista HAS gone on to make a name for himself as a Toronto Blue Jay and one of the AL’s most feared power hitters.

MOST MLB TEAMS PLAYED FOR IN A SINGLE SEASON … FOUR

Jose Bautista (OF/3B) – 2004 (Orioles, Devil Rays, Royals, Pirates)

Dan Miceli (RHP) – 2003 (Rockies, Indians, Yankees, Astros)

Dave Martinez (OF/1B)  – 2000 (Devil Rays, Cubs, Rangers, Blue Jays)

Dave Kingman (1B/OF/3B) – 1977 (Mets, Padres, Angels, Yankees)

Mike Kilkenny (LHP) – 1972 (Tigers, A’s, Padres, Indians)

Wes Covington (OF) – 1961 (Braves, White Sox, Athletics, Phillies)

Ted Gray (LHP) – 1955 (White Sox, Indians, Yankees, Orioles)

Paul Lehner (OF/1B) – 1951 (Athletics, White Sox, Browns, Indians)

Willis Hudlin (RHP) – 1940 (Indians, Senators, Browns, Giants)

Frank Huelsman (OF) – 1904 (White Sox, Tigers, Browns, Senators)

Tom Dowse (C) – 1892 (Louisville Colonels, Senators, Reds, Phillies)

Harry Wheeler (OF/RHP) – 1884 (Browns, Kansas City Cowboys, Chicago/Pittsburgh, Baltimore Monumentals)

George Strief (2B/SS/3B/OF) – 1884 (Browns, Chicago/Pittsburgh, Cleveland Blues, Athletics)

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A Triple Play – Taking the Field for Two Teams in a Single Day

YoungbloodThree players share the record for the most franchises played for in a single day at two. The first two to accomplish this feat were Max Flack and Cliff Heathcote, who were traded for each other between games of a Memorial Day 1922 Cubs/Cardinals doubleheader. The two outfielders each suited up against their previous team for Game Two. Both went hitless in game one of the doubleheader and both collected hits for their new teams in the second game (Flack a single in four at bats, Heathcote a pair of singles in four trips to the plate).

Joel Youngblood tied the record for teams played for in a single day in 1982, adding a twist – he played for and recorded hits for two different teams in two different cities on the same day.  Let’s look at Youngblood’s unique achievement.

On August 4, 1982, Youngblood started his day as a member of the New York Mets, who were playing an afternoon game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Youngblood opened the game in center field, batting third.   After striking out in the first inning, Youngblood drove in two runs with a single in the top of the third. Youngblood was unexpectedly replaced in center field by Mookie Wilson in the bottom of the fourth – and told by Mets’ manager George Bamberger that he had been traded to the Expos (for a player to be named later).

The Expos were scheduled to play in Philadelphia in Philadelphia that night, and Youngblood immediately set out to join his new team. He managed to catch a 6:05 p.m. flight to Philadelphia – eventually arriving at Veterans Stadium with the game in progress. To his surprise, there was an Expos uniform, with his name already sewn on the back, waiting for him.  The Expos wasted no time getting there newest player into the game. Manager Jim Fanning sent Youngblood into right field and the number-two spot in the batting order (replacing Jerry White) in the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, Youngblood singled in his first Expos’ at bat.  Thus, Youngblood collected base hits for two different teams in two different cities in one day.

Youngblood’s feat is even more startling when you consider the pitchers he touched for his two safeties. In Chicago, it was future Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins; while in Philadelphia, it was future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton.

MOST MLB TEAMS PLAYED FOR IN A SINGLE DAY

Max Flack – May 30, 1922: Cubs (RF); Cardinals (RF).

Cliff Heathcote – May 30, 1922: Cardinals (CF); Cubs (RF).

Joel Youngblood – August 4, 1982: Mets (CF); Expos (RF).

BBRT STATISTICAL NOTE: There may be a second player (besides Jose Bautista) to appear on a record five MLB rosters in a single season (although he played for just three teams).  I am still working to confirm this one.  Casper Wells finished the 2012 season with the Mariners. Wells was designated for assignment on March 31, 2013 by the Mariners. He was picked up by the Blue Jays (off waivers) on August 10. On August 22, the A’s purchased his contract from the Blue Jays.  Then, on August 29, the White Sox purchased Wells from the A’s. Finally, on August 8, the Phillies picked him up (off waivers from the White Sox.). During the season, Well actually played for only three teams – the A’s, White Sox and Phillies.  But depending on timing, he could have been on a record-tying five MLB rosters during the course of the season. When a player is designated to assignment, they are dropped from the team‘s 40-man MLB roster.  Now, the Mariners designate Wells for assignment on March 31 (opening day of the 2013 season). The question is:  Was he dropped from the roster before the season officially opened? I have a query into the Mariners to find out the specifics and determine if Wells matches Bautista’s five-roster, single-season record.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

Member: Society for American Baseball Research; The Baseball Reliquary; Baseball Bloggers Alliance.

If you like baseball trivia and haven’t tried a BBRT trivia quiz (each is 99 questions), click here for Quiz One and here for Quiz Two. 

 

Interested in a great baseball trip – a chance to see independent, A, AA, AAA and major league ball on a single trip, click here.   I understand there are a few seats left.

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Twenty Strikeouts in an Outing – and Then Some

Max Scherzer photo

Photo by Keith Allison

On May 11, 2016 Max Scherzer tied an MLB record by fanning twenty batters in nine innings – joining Roger Clemens, Kerry Wood and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to accomplish that feat.  The topic has been “trending “ all over the traditional and social media.  BBRT would like to add what is, hopefully, a little unique perspective to that “conversation” – followed by a brief look at each 20-strikeout outing, as well as a couple of hurlers who have done that accomplishment at least one better.  A few factoids.

  • Roger Clemens is the only pitcher to reach 20 strikeouts in nine-innings twice – and he did it ten seasons apart.
  • Despite the ten-year span between Roger Clemens’ nine-inning 20-whiff performances, he is neither the oldest, nor the youngest, pitcher to accomplish the feat. The youngest is the Cubs’ Kerry Wood (who did it in his rookie season at age 20). The oldest is the Diamondbacks’ Randy Johnson, who fanned 20 in nine-innings at age 37.
  • The most pitches in a 20-strikeout performance is 151 (by Clemens in 1996), the fewest is 119 by Scherzer.
  • Scherzer is the first pitcher to fan 20 hitters in nine innings without fanning every member of the opposing starting lineup at least once.
  • Randy Johnson is the only pitcher to notch 20 strikeouts in an MLB game – and not throw a complete game.
  • No pitcher to notch twenty strikeouts in nine-innings has ever given up a walk in the contest. That’s right: 45 innings, 100 strikeouts, zero walks.
  • Scherzer gave up the most hits (6), most runs (2) and most home runs (2) ever in a nine-inning, 20-strikeout performance.

Here’s a bit of detail on MLB’s nine-inning, twenty-strikeout performances.

April 29, 1986 – Roger Clemens, Red Sox, topped the Mariners 3-1 in Boston.  Clemens gave up three, hits, zero walks, while fanning twenty.  The only run for Seattle scored on a home run by Mariners’ DH Gorman Thomas in the seventh inning.  Clemens threw 138 pitches, 97 for strikes. He struck out all nine members of the Mariners’ starting lineup at least once; LF Phil Bradley four times.  Clemens was 23-years-old at the time.  He went on to win 24 games (leading the AL), the AL Cy Young Award and the AL MVP.  Clemens finished the season second in the AL in strikeouts with 238 in 254 innings.

September 18, 1996, Roger Clemens, Red Sox, topped the Tigers 4-0 in Detroit. He gave up five hits, zero walks, no runs. Clemens struck out all the members of the Tigers’ starting lineup at least once; SS Travis Fryman four times. Clemens threw 151 pitches, 101 strikes. That season, Clemens finished 10-13, 3.63, but led the AL in strikeouts with 257 in 242 2/3 innings. Clemens was 34-years-old.

May 6, 1998, Kerry Wood, Cubs, beat the Astros 2-0 in Chicago. Wood gave up just one hit, zero walks. He threw 122 pitches, 84 strikes. Wood struck out every member of the starting lineup at least once; 1B Jeff Bagwell, 3B Jake Howell and CF Moises Alou three times each. Wood was a 20-year-old rookie at the time.  He went on to a 13-6 season, with 233 strikeouts in 166 2/3 innings. Wood was the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year.

May 6, 2001. Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks, whiffed 20 in nine innings as the D-backs topped the Reds 4-3 in eleven innings (in Arizona). Johnson was relieved in the 10th (by Byung-Hyun-Kim) with the score tied 1-1.  Johnson gave up three hits, one run, zero walks. The lone run off Johnson scored in the fifth inning on a single by 3B Aaron Boone, a stolen base and a single by CF Ruben Rivera. Johnson threw 124 pitches, 92 for strikes, in his nine innings. Johnson struck out every member of the starting lineup at least once; SS Barry Larkin and RF Alex Ochoa three times each. He went on to a 21-6 season, leading the league with 372 strikeouts in 249 2/3 innings and won the NL Cy Young Award. He was 37-years-old at the time.

May 11, 2016, Max Scherzer of the Nationals topped the Tigers 3-2 in Washington. He gave up six hits and two runs, with zero walks.  Both runs scored on home runs – by SS Jose Iglesias in the third inning and RF J.D. Martinez in the ninth. Scherzer struck out everyone in the Detroit starting line up at least once EXCEPT DH Victor Martinez, who collected three hits (all singles) in four at bats. Scherzer threw 119 pitches, 96 strikes. Scherzer is 31-years-old.

 

DOING ONE OR MORE BETTER.

Tom Cheney struck out a record 21 hitters in a single (extra inning) major league game – a 16-inning contest between the Washington Senators and Baltimore Orioles (in Baltimore) on September 12, 1962.  For the full story, click here.

 

The record for strikeouts in a professional game at any level stands at 27  – Ron Necciai (netch-eye). For that story, click here. 

 

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Old Guys Rule – Bartolo Colon, with a Nod to Julio Franco

Yesterday (May  7), 42-year-old Bartolo Colon picked up his third win of the season – going 6 2/3 innings (three earned runs, six hits, one walk, five strikeouts), as his Mets topped the Padres 6-3 in San Diego.   Colon also made a bit of history – at age 42 and 348 days, in his 19th MLB season, Colon connected for his first MLB home run. It came in the top of the second inning (off Padres’ starter James Shields) and made Colon the oldest major leaguer ever to collect his first round tripper – breaking Hall of Famer Hurler Randy Johnson’s record (40 years and nine days).

BBRT would note. however, that when it comes to age-related home run records – Julio Franco remains the king.  Franco is the oldest player to homer in an MLB game, the oldest to hit a Grand Slam, the oldest to hit a pinch-hit home run and the oldest to record a multi-home game.  For details on these – and more of Franco’s career accomplishments, click here.

Haven’t tried BBRT’s Trivia Quizzes yet?  Quiz One, click here.  Quiz Two, click here.

 

Looking for a great summer baseball tour – Independent, A, AA, AAA and major league stops, click here. 

I tweet baseball@DavidBBRT

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

Baseball Reliquary – 2016 Shrine of the Eternals Electees Announced

reliquaryWhat do the following have in common – a one-armed major league outfielder, a pitcher who once threw a no-hitter while high on LSD, a team owner who sent a midget to the plate, a man in a chicken suit, a member of Major League Baseball’s 3,000-hit club, an MLB manager who won eight World Championships, a baseball card designer, a surgeon, a labor leader, a statistical wizard and more than one best-selling author?

Stumped?  These diverse individuals are all past electees to The Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals – an honor intended to recognize individuals who have had impact on our national pastime that goes beyond statistics and touches upon the culture and character of the game – with a particular focus on the fans’ point of view.

The Baseball Reliquary this week announced its 2016 Shrine of the Eternals electees:

  • a former Rookie of the Year, Cy Young Award Winner, MVP and first African American 20-game winner;
  • an MLB All Star outfielder, NFL Pro Bowl running back and media/marketing icon;
  • a sportswriter who “wrote the book” on first-person accounting of baseball games, penned hundreds of articles and more than two dozen books, and was named Magazine Sportswriter of the Year.

Before we take a detailed look at this year’s electees (and BBRT’s ballot), I’d like to provide readers with a brief overview of both the Baseball Reliquary and its Shrine of the Eternals.

The Baseball Reliquary (BBRT is a proud member) is a free-spirited organization dedicated to celebrating the human side of baseball’s history and heritage.  The Reliquary is truly a fan-focused organization, committed to recognizing baseball’s place in American culture and to honoring the character and characters of the national pastime. The Reliquary pursues that mission through its collection of artifacts, traveling exhibitions, ties to the Whittier College Institute for Baseball Studies and (perhaps, most visibly) through its own version of the Baseball Hall of Fame – the Baseball Reliquary Shrine of the Eternals.  For more on the Baseball Reliquary, and why you should become a member, click here.

Now, to the Shrine of the Eternals. Here’s what the Reliquary has to say about this honor.

Similar in concept to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the Shrine of the Eternals differs philosophically in that statistical accomplishment is not the principal criterion for election. The Baseball Reliquary believes that the election of individuals on merits other than statistics and playing ability will offer the opportunity for a deeper understanding and appreciation of baseball than has heretofore been provided by “Halls of Fame” in the more traditional and conservative institutions.

Criteria for election shall be: the distinctiveness of play (good or bad); the uniqueness of character and personality; and the imprint that the individual has made on the baseball landscape. Electees, both on and off the diamond, shall have been responsible for developing baseball in one or more of the following ways: through athletic and/or business achievements; in terms of its larger cultural and sociological impact as a mass entertainment; and as an arena for the human imagination.

Each year, the Baseball Reliquary submits a list of candidates to its members and the top three vote-getters are honored.  Note: The induction ceremony for this 18th Shrine “class” will take place Sunday, July 17, 2016 at the Donald R. Wright Auditorium in the Pasadena (California) Central Library.

So, let’s take a look the 2016 electees – Don Newcombe, Bo Jackson and Arnold Hano. Voting percentage for all the candidates can be found at the end of this post.

DON “NEWK”  NEWCOMBE

Photo: Courtesy of Baseball Reliquary.

Photo: Courtesy of Baseball Reliquary.

Elected to the Shrine of the Eternals in his first year on the ballot, Don Newcombe began his baseball career in 1944, as an 18-year-old pitcher with the Negro National League Newark Eagles. By 1946, he was a Brooklyn Dodger farmhand (Thank you, Mr. Rickey) and, by 1949, he was a starting pitcher for the Dodgers – going 17-8, 3.12 and winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award.  Remember, this was 1949 and “Newk” was facing many of the same racial pressures and prejudices as Jackie Robinson. Newcombe answered those considerable challenges with his arm and his competitiveness – becoming one of those most feared and respected pitchers in the game. His success helped pave the way for future Black major leaguers – particularly pitchers. Newcombe won 19 games (11 losses) in 1950 and, in 1951, became MLB’s first African American 20-game winner (20-9, 3.28). Then, after losing two prime years to military service, Newcombe returned for seven more MLB seasons.  Ultimately, he was a 20-game winner three times – including 1956, when he went 27-7, 3.06, won the first-ever Cy Young Award and was selected the NL MVP.  Notably, Newcombe was also no slouch at the plate. He hit .271, with 15 homers in his MLB career, and was, at times, used as a pinch hitter.  (After his MLB career ended, Newcombe played one year in Japan – as an outfielder/first baseman). Note: Newcombe is credited as the first former major leaguer to play in the Japanese League.

Newcombe not only found himself facing off against opponents in the batter’s box, he also faced (an admitted) fight with alcohol.  He eventually won that battle – and is credited with using his success to help others meet the challenge of substance abuse.  Newcombe ended his career a four-time All Star – with a 149-90, 3.56 record. In 1970, Newcombe was picked by the Dodgers to run baseball’s first Community Relations program. Newcombe also has received the “Beacon of Hope” award, presented at the Annual MLB Civil Rights Game. He remains in baseball and with the Dodgers as a Special Advisor to the Chairman. Congrats to this deserving new member of the Shrine of the Eternals.

VINCENT EDWARD “BO” JACKSON

Photo" Courtesy Baseball Reliquary

Photo” Courtesy Baseball Reliquary

Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson remains one of the most recognizable names in American sport – more than 20 years after he left the playing field, or more accurately playing fields.  Jackson was a multi-sport star – an MLB All Star outfielder (1989) and an NFL Pro Bowl Selection (1990) at running back (an injury kept him out of the game). He was also a Heisman Trophy winner (recognizing the year’s most outstanding collegiate football player) for Auburn University in 1985.  At Auburn, Jackson lettered in football, baseball and track.

After college, Jackson would go on to play four seasons at running back with the Los Angeles Raiders (1987-90), averaging 5.6 yards per carry and scoring 16 rushing and two receiving touchdowns.  Jackson’s football and baseball careers overlapped – as Jackson patrolled the outfield (and DH-ed) for the  Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and California Angels from 1986-94 – becoming known for spectacular outfield play, long home runs and speed on the bases. It was Jackson’s versatile athleticism, in fact, that led to his gaining status as a marketing icon.

In 1989, the Nike athletic shoe company began one of the most successful ad campaigns in history with a series of “Bo Knows” television spots. These featured Jackson being lauded for his athletic versatility by stars from other sports – “Bo Knows Baseball,” “Bo Knows Tennis,” “Bo Knows Cycling,” etc.  Jackson was acknowledged as knowing a range of sports including (but not limited to) baseball, football, basketball, tennis, running, cycling, weight lifting. There was even a shot of Jackson playing guitar – and doing it rather badly – with Bo Diddley commenting ”Bo, you don’t know Diddley!”  The spots proved extremely popular – and made Jackson one of the most recognized individuals in all of sports.

It clearly appeared that “Bo Knew” the sky was the limit.   He was a MLB All-Star, NFL All Pro, college football legend, and a media and advertising icon.  In 1991, however, things (including Jackson’s hip) took a turn for the worse. In a 1991 playoff game between the NFL Bengals and the LA Raiders, Jackson sustained a career-threatening (eventually career-ending) hip injury on what appeared to be a routine tackle at the end of a 34-yard run.  After surgery and rehab, Jackson made a baseball comeback with the White Sox.   In his first at bat back in the majors (1993), he belted a home run against the Yankees. He would go on to hit 16 home runs in 85 games and win the 1993 Comeback Player of the Year Award.  However, the hip injury has blunted a couple of key weapon in his arsenal – his electrifying speed and spring. Before his injury, Jackson had stolen 81 bases in 534 games. In 160 games after his return to MLB, he stole just one. Jackson retired as a member of the Angels during the 1994 baseball strike.  Is final season, Jackson his .273, with 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 75 games. In his eight MLB season (694) games, Jackson hit .250 with 141 home runs 416 RBI and 82 steals – and a penchant for the dramatic. Now, Bo Knows The Shrine of the Eternals. And, we still don’t know what might have been.

For more on Bo Jackson, you might try the book “Bo Knows Bo” by Bo Jackson.

ARNOLD HANO

Photo: Courtesy Baseball Reliquary

Photo: Courtesy Baseball Reliquary

Perhaps no individual play has been more “immortalized” in baseball history than Willie Mays’ over the shoulder catch of a deep drive off the bat of the Indians’ Vic Wertz in Game One of the 1954 World Series.  And, one of the best – actually the description most often credited as being “the” best – accountings came from the pen of Arnold Hano. It’s included in Hano’s book A Day in the Bleachers – an eyewitness report of that game that is said to have changed the face of first-person sports writing/reporting. Hano’s prose is as classic as the play itself. If you haven’t already read this one, you might want to give it a try.

And, there was no one better to undertake that task than Arnold Hano – a nearly life-long Giants fan (after a brief affection for the Yankees), whose infatuation with writing and editing came almost as early as  his love of the national pastime.  Hano’s literary career began as an eight-year-old, when he and his older brother began a mimeographed neighborhood newspaper. Hano followed that passion for wordsmithing into an early career as an editor in the book publishing world –  a career path that changed after that September 29, 1954 World Series contest. (Much to the benefit of baseball fans.)

BleachersIn fact, the critical success of Hano’s A Day In the Bleachers – with new editions published in 1982, 2004, 2006 – catapulted Hano to the top echelon of sport writers. Over the years, Hano’s work has appeared in the likes of Sport, Sports Illustrated, True’s Baseball Yearbook, the Saturday Evening Post and major news media like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times. He’s written more than 500 articles and more than two dozen books (more than one million copies sold) – including biographies of such stars as Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax and Roberto Clemente. He was also a regular contributor to the annual Baseball Stars series of biographies and, in 1967, published his own volume of baseball bios – The Greatest Giants of Them All. In 1964, Hano was named the Magazine Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Hano’s career is documented in the recently released film – Hano! A Century in the Bleachers.

Notably, Hano was more than a sportswriter. He was instrumental in civil rights and environmental protection efforts and, in 1953, he won the Sidney Hillman prize for a piece on the plight of California’s immigrant population. A writer who changed the face of sports writing – and worked to change our culture as well – Hano got my vote.

INTERESTED IN BASEBALL BOOK REVIEWS?  CLICK HERE.

So there’s the 2015 Shrine of the Eternals inductees.  Now here’s a look in alphabetical order) at those who got BBRT’s vote, but didn’t make the final three. (I did cast a vote for Hano.)

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Reuben Berman (1890-1977)

On May 16, 1921, during a game between the Giants and Reds played at New York City’s Polo Grounds, Reuben Berman captured a foul ball that was hit into the stands. The custom at the time was to return the ball to the playing field. In fact, some teams even employed security guards to retrieve balls if the fans declined to return them. In some extreme cases, arrests were made and charges (larceny) filed.  On that day in May of 1921, Berman, refused to return a foul ball – and, when confronted, tossed the ball deeper into the stands. After what some reported as an exchange of profanities and a minor scuffle, Berman was ejected from the Polo Grounds.  Berman, however, was not done with the Giants.  He filed a lawsuit against the club asserting he was illegally detained and had suffered mental anguish and a loss of reputation because of the incident.  The case went all the way to the New York Supreme Court, which found in Berman’s favor, granting him the sum of $100 (he had asked for $20,000). The $100 victory is not what got Berman my vote for the Shrine of the Eternals, it was the impact on fans of his stubbornness – and what became known as “Reuben’s Rule” or “Berman’s Law.” Berman’s case was the most important step in establishing the fans’ right to that precious souvenir – an official, game-used baseball. Every time we see a scrum (for a baseball) in the stands, or a one-handed (beer or baby in the other hand) catch of a foul ball, or a smiling youngster showing off his white, red-stitched prize, we can than Reuben Berman.

Ted Kluszewski (1924-1988)

I love to recognize players who do something we are not likely to see again (last year, I cast a ballot for Denny McLain, MLB’s last 30-game winner).  This year, I voted for Ted “Big Klu” Kluszewski – perhaps the last of the true power hitters who also practiced exceptional plate discipline.  In 1954, for example, Big Klu hit .326, with 49 home runs and 141 RBI – a season made even more remarkable by the fact the Kluszewski struck out only 35 times (versus 78 walks). I doubt if we’ll ever see another player top 40 home runs, without reaching 40 whiffs.  Kluszewski, in fact, had a streak of four seasons (1953-56) when he hit over .300, drove in 100+ runs, bashed 35+ home runs – and struck out no more than 40 times in any season.  In those four season, Kluszewski hit 171 home runs – and fanned 140 times (average 43 HR’s and 35 whiffs a season). It should also be noted that Kluszewski led NL first baseman in fielding percentage every year from 1951 through 1955. Unfortunately, a back injury in 1956 hampered his performance (he played until 1961).

Kluszewski is also noted for adding a bit of flair to the game, making his own intimidating fashion statement. Klu complained that his uniform jersey was too tight for his large and powerful biceps. He went on to have the sleeves cut from his jersey – exposing his bare arms from the shoulder.  (This was considered a bold move at that very conforming time in the game’s history.)

Kluszewski only appeared in one post-season – hitting  .391, with three homers and ten RBI in the 1958 World Series (for the White Sox).  True to his form – Big Klu did not strike out even once (25 plate appearance) in the Series.  For trivia buffs, left unprotected in the  1960 expansion draft, Kluszewski hit the first-ever home run for the expansion Angels (a two-run shot in the first inning of the Angels’ first game –  April 11 versus the Orioles). He added a punctuation mark, by hitting the Angels second–ever home run (a three-run shot) the very next inning. The Angels won 7-2, and Kluszewski did not strikeout. It was the first game of his last MLB season. Ultimately, however, what we all remember is those sleeveless jerseys and muscular arms.  This four-time All Star – whose last name also ends with “ski” – got my vote for the Shrine.

Mamie “Peanut” Johnson (1935 – *)

Mamie Johnson was one of three females to play for the Indianapolis Clowns during the declining days of the Negro Leagues (and the only woman ever to pitch in the Negro Leagues).  Johnson took the mound to the Clowns for three seasons (1953-55), running up a 33-8 record.  Her exploits are chronicled in the children’s book A Strong Right Arm: The Story of Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, by Michelle Y. Green.

Effa Manley (1900-81)

The first woman enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, during the 1930s and 1940s, Effa Manley ran the day-to-day operations of the Negro National League Newark Eagles (owned by her husband Abe Manley) – at a time when baseball, on the field and in the executive offices, was considered a “man’s domain.”  Effa, often thought of as a light-skinned black, was actually white.  She, however, grew up with a black stepfather and mixed-race siblings and was active in the New Jersey branch of the NAACP and Citizen’s League for Fair Play.  Effa Manley deserves recognition for overcoming both racial and sexual barriers as she exercised leadership in the national pastime. Multiple books have been written about Manley’s accomplishments. BBRT recommends:” Queen of the Negro Leagues: Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles, by James Overmyer;

David Mullany (1908-90)

David Mullany was the inventor of the Wiffle® Ball (1953), which ultimately changed backyard baseball for millions of young (and old) players and fans. I know I loved my white perforated plastic ball and yellow plastic bat – and played more than one backyard World Series opener with them (without shattering a single window).  Today, there are Wiffle Ball fields, leagues and tournaments.  The company is still operated by the Mullany family and you can learn more by visiting their website (www.wiffle.com)  You might also be interested in Wiffle Ball: The Ultimate Guide by Michael Herman.

Pete Reiser (1919-81)

Combine Willie Mays’ skill set (younger folks, think Mike Trout) with Pete Rose’s hustle and Yasiel Puig’s on-field abandon and you have Pete Reiser. In his first full MLB season (CF, Dodgers), a 22-year-old Reiser dazzled defensively and led the NL in runs scored (117), doubles (39), triples (17), batting average (.343), total bases (299) and hit by pitch (11) – tossing in 14 home runs and 76 RBI for good measure. Unfortunately, unpadded outfield walls, helmet-less at bats (the fiery Reiser was a frequent target) and aggressiveness on the base paths (Reiser twice led the NL in stolen bases) took their toll.

In his ten-season career, Reiser endured five skull fractures, a brain injury, a dislocated shoulder and a damaged knee.  He was carted off the field 11 times during his career (six times unconscious) and once actually given last rites at the stadium – and he played on. The three-time All Star retired as a player with a .295 career average, playing in 861 games over ten seasons. No telling what he might have done with padded outfield walls and batting helmets.  Pete Reiser was a true – and talented – gamer. For more on Reiser, try Pete Reiser: The Rough and Tumble Career of the Perfect Ballplayer, by Sidney Jacobson.

I

Rube Waddell (1876-1914)

Rube Waddell is pretty much granted the title of the zaniest player in MLB history – but he also was one of the best (at least when he was focused on the game). Waddell was known to wrestle alligators, leave a ball game to chase a fire engine, miss a game he was scheduled to start because he was fishing or playing marbles with neighborhood kids, bring his outfielders in to sit on the grass and then proceed to fan the side – and frequently do battle with owners and managers.  Waddell was more interested in the freedom to enjoy life and do things his way than money.  But, when Waddell was on his game, he was arguably the best pitcher of his time. The 6’1”, 195-lb. lefty led the AL in strikeouts six consecutive seasons (1902-1907) – by a wide margin.

How good was Waddell?  In 1902, he joined the Philadelphia Athletics in June – making his first start on June 26 (with just 86 games left in the season). Waddell proceeded to win 24 games (the league’s second-highest total) against seven losses, with a 2.05 ERA.  Despite his shortened season, he led the AL with 210 strikeouts, fifty more than the runner-up (none other than Cy Young).

In 1904, Waddell set a modern (post-1900) MLB record with 349 strikeouts that stood until 1965.  Waddell, elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, finished with a 193-143, 2.16 stat line – leading the AL in strikeouts six times, ERA twice, wins once and complete games once. For more on Waddell, 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.

John Young (1949-*)

A 6’3”, 210-pound, left-handed first baseman, John Young hit .325, with four home runs, 60 RBI and 26 stolen bases (in 29 attempts) in 99 games at Single A Lakeland (Tigers’ farm team) as a twenty-year-old (in 1969). The first-round draft choice (16th overall in the 1969 draft)  truly looked like a player with promise – and, in fact, enjoyed a big league cup of coffee with the Tigers in 1971 (two games, four at bats, two hits, one run, one RBI, one double). A wrist injury derailed his playing career, but didn’t dampen his love for the game and he went on to a long career as a scout. It was during his scouting days that Young developed a concern for the decline of baseball among young people – particularly in the inner cities.  In response, Young came up with the concept for the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program. Officially launched in 1989, the RBI program is now supported by all thirty MLB clubs and is active in approximately 200 communities – with more than 250,000 participants annually.  Overall, MLB teams have donated more than $30 million to the program. (The program also includes educational and life skills components.) A few RBI alumni in the major leagues include: Carl Crawford, Justin Upton, CC Sabathia, James Loney, Manny Machado and Yovani Gallardo.

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THE SHRINE OF THE ETERNALS:  2016 VOTING PERCENTAGES

Don Newcombe – 42.0%

Bo Jackson – 38.0%

Arnold Hano – 26.0%

Chet Brewer – 25.3%

Charlie Brown – 24.7%

Charlie Finley – 24.7%

Bob Costas – 24.0%

Rocky Colavito – 23.3%

Luke Easter – 22.7%

Charles M. Conlon – 21.3%

J.R. Richard – 21.3%

Effa Manley – 20.7%

Nancy Faust – 19.3%

Ernie Harwell – 19.3%

Hideo Nomo – 19.3%

Pete Reiser – 19.3%

Jose Canseco – 18.7%

Lisa Fernandez – 18.7%

Mamie Johnson – 18.7%

Dr. Mike Marshall – 18.7%

Bert Campaneris – 18.0%

Denny McLain – 17.3%

Rube Foster – 16.0%

Fred Merkle – 16.0%

Annie Savoy – 16.0%

Ted Kluszewski – 15.3%

Tug McGraw – 14.7%

Bing Russell – 14.7%

Rube Waddell – 14.7%

Reuben Berman – 14.0%

Joe Pepitone – 14.0%

Rusty Staub – 14.0%

Margaret Donahue – 13.3%

Phil Pote – 13.3%

Vic Power – 13.3%

Charley Pride – 13.3%

John Young – 13.3%

Octavius V. Catto – 12.0%

Daniel Okrent – 12.0%

Steve Wilstein – 12.0%

Dave Parker – 11.3%

Chris Von der Ahe – 11.3%

Mike Hessman – 10.7%

Dan Quisenberry – 10.7%

John Montgomery Ward – 10.0%

Wayne Doba – 7.3%

Isabel Alvarez – 6.7%

Emilio Cordova – 6.7%

Billy Scripture – 4.0%

Dr. David Tracy – 0.7%

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For a full list of past Shrine of Eternals honorees, click here.

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