Top 2016 Regular Season Award Candidates – And a Bit of History

First, a disclaimer.  Baseball Roundtable has never claimed to be the best prognosticator – although this year I did get seven of the ten playoffs teams correct in a February 8 post. I missed the Indians and Orioles in the AL (had the Astros and Tigers) and the Nationals in the NL (had the Cardinals).  My predictions for the post season, made October 3, were less accurate – although I still have a chance to be right on the World Series winner.  I have the Cubs winning the Series (just against the Red Sox). Surprises for me?  After an offensive slump in September/October, I did not expect the Blue Jays to get past the Rangers. (Note: the Jays scored the fewest runs in the AL after Aguste 31.) I also underestimated Terry Francona’s ability to manage a pitching staff.

So now, I intend to sit back and enjoy the rest of the post-season – and root for a Cubs/Indians World Series – and (in this post) present BBRT’s selections (and predictions) for MLB’s major 2016 regular season awards.


National League ROY – Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers

Corey Seager photo

Photo by apardavila

The competition for NL Rookie of the Year comes down to a pair of young, power-hitting shortstops – Corey Seager of the Dodgers and Trevor Story of the Rockies.  Seager gets the edge, largely because Story’s season was interrupted by injury.

Seager, the Dodgers’ 22-year-old shortstop was a 2015 September call up and – while not getting enough playing time to lose his rookie status – hit .337, with four home runs and 17 RBI in 27 games.  (In four minor league seasons, Seager put up a stat line of .312-62-278 in 390 games.)  In 2016, Seager proved his late-season 2015 performance was no fluke, playing in 157 games, and hitting .308, with 26 home runs, 105 runs scored, and 72 RBI. He made the 2016 NL All Star team and played a key role in getting the Dodgers to the post-season. He is the real deal.

Seager’s main competition for the ROY Award comes from the early-season rookie “story” of the year – Colorado’s 23-year-old shortstop Trevor Story. After hitting .340 in Spring Training, Story started the season with a bang (several bangs, in fact).  He homered in his first four regular season games (six home runs in those four contests).  Story went on to tie the MLB record for rookie home runs in April with ten long balls – finishing the month with a .261 average, ten homers, 19 runs scored and  20 RBI in 22 games. Unfortunately, in early August, Story suffered a thumb injury that required season-ending surgery. He ended 2016 with a .272 average, 27 home runs, 72 RBI and eight steals in just 97 games.

BBRT Selection:  Corey Seager    

BBRT Prediction:  Corey Seager

Brotherly Love (of the long ball)

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Dodgers’ SS Corey Seager and Mariners’ 3B Kyle Seager are the first brothers to hit 25 or more home runs in the same MLB season. Corey finished 2016 with 26 round trippers, Kyle with 30.      

American League ROY – Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees

Gary Sanchez Yankees photo

Photo by apardavila

Timing may prove to be everything when the votes are counted for AL Rookie of the Year.  BBRT expects a very close vote and gives the nod to Yankees’ 23-year-old catcher Gary Sanchez – although the fact that he played in only 53 games may work against him. The stats, however, back up his candidacy: a .299 average, 20 home runs, 34 runs scored, 42 RBI and 24 walks drawn (again, in just 53 games) – with virtually all of the damage done after August 1.  Couple that with his praiseworthy work behind the plate and you have a deserving Rookie of the Year candidate. Before his August call up, Sanchez hit .282-10-50 in 71 games at AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.  BBRT side note: Sanchez was called up to the Yankees late in 2015 – made his major league debut on October 3 –  and (few fans may realize) was included on the Yankees’ 2015 post-season roster.

The fewest games ever played by a non-pitcher in a Rookie of the Year season is 52 by Giants’ 1B Willie McCovey in 1959. He played his first game on July 30 and went to post a .354 average, with 13 home runs and 38 RBI.

BBRT sees Sanchez’ main competition coming from Tigers’ RHP Michael Fulmer (acquired by the Tigers from the Mets in the July 2015 trade for Yeonis Cespedes). The 23-year-old Fulmer went 11-7 (26 starts – 159 innings), with a 3.06 ERA.  Timing may be important here. Fulmer, who got his first start April 29, was 9-2, with a 2.50 ERA at the end of July. In August and September, Fulmer went 2-5, 3.59. Fulmer needs to hope the voters remember his May performance – when he went 3-1 with a 0.61 ERA (two earned runs in 29 2/3 innings).

BBRT Selection:  Gary Sanchez    

BBRT Prediction:  Gary Sanchez (in a very close vote)

From 1992 through 1996, the LA Dodgers had a record five consecutive Rookie of the Year Award winners: 1B Eric Karros (1992); C Mike Piazza (1993); OF Raul Mondesi (1994); SP Hideo Nomo (1995); OF Todd Hollandsworth (1996).  



American League MVP – Mookie Betts, RF, Red Sox

Mookie Betts photo

Photo by Keith Allison

This is a tough one to call – Mookie Betts, David Ortiz, Jose Altuve, Mike Trout and, perhaps, Josh Donaldson can all make a good case.  However, there is a need to narrow it down.  As BBRT considers these candidates, I remind myself that this is not the award for best player of the season – but, rather (by its own definition) for most valuable player (to his team).  So, despite another stellar season by the Angels’ CF Mike Trout (.315-29-100, with 30 steals), the Angels’ fourth-place finish becomes a factor.  Then there is David Ortiz’ unbelievable season – in which he pretty much demolished the record book for accomplishments at age 40 or over with a .315-38-127 line. Big Papi slips a bit on my ballot because of his role as DH, but he is likely to get an emotional boost in the actual balloting based on his career, age and attitude.  His leadership – on and off the field – has long meant a lot to this team. Then there is Josh Donaldson, a key element in Toronto’s 2016 success, who put up a .284-37-99 line, with 122 runs.  Still, BBRT sees his impact a bit short of either of the two players on my list I haven’t touched upon yet – Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve.

Altuve led the AL in batting average at .338 and base hits at 216, while also smacking 24 home runs, scoring 108 runs, driving in 96 and stealing 30 bases – all the time serving as the spark plug for the Astros’ offense. Just 26-years-old, the 5’6”, 165-pound Astros’ 2B already has two batting crowns, two stolen base titles, three consecutive 200-hit seasons, a Gold Glove and four All Star selections – and he seems to just keep getting better.  What he doesn’t have is an MVP Award – and I don’t think it’s coming this year. (It might have, if the Astros had made the playoffs.)  BBRT’s choice for AL MVP is Red Sox’ RF Mookie Betts – who did a little bit (a lot, actually) of everything. Betts hit .318 on the season, launched 31 home runs, scored 122, drove in 113 and stole 26 bases.  How does all that flesh out?  He was second in the AL in average, runs scored and base hits; third in doubles, fourth in RBI, sixth in stolen bases.  Betts is just 24-years-old and, like Altuve, just seems to keep improving.  Betts would get BBRT’s vote (if I had one) for AL MVP.  If he doesn’t win it, I expect it will end up as a career-topping tribute to the performance and presence of David Ortiz.

BBRT Selection:  Mookie Betts   

BBRT Prediction: David Ortiz

 You could make a pretty good All Star team of players who have won two or more consecutive MVP Awards:

        C –    Yogi Berra, Yankees (1954-55)

        1B – Albert Pujols (2008-09)

        2B – Joe Morgan, Reds (1975-76)

        3B – Mike Schmidt, Phillies (1980-81)

         SS – Ernie Banks, Cubs (1958-59)

         OF – Barry Bonds/ Pirates (1992), Giants (1993); Giants (2001-04)

         OF – Mickey Mantle, Yankees (1956-57)

         OF – Dale Murphy, Braves (1982-83)

           P –    Hal Newhouser, Tigers (1944-45)

           Bench:    Roger Maris, OF, Yankees (1960-61)

                             Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Tigers (2012- 13)

National League MVP – Kris Bryant, 3B-plus, Cubs

Kris Bryant photo

Photo by apardavila

Really not much of a race here.  Yes, there will be votes cast for Nationals’ 2B Daniel Murphy (.347-25-104), Dodgers’ SS Corey Seager (although the votes cast for Rookie of the Year may work against him) and Rockies’ master of leather and lumber 3B Nolan Arenado (who led the NL in home runs and RBI for the second straight season and is likely to pick up his fourth Gold Glove).  However, Kris Bryant should win the NL MVP Award hands down – he was the most valuable player on MLB’s winningest team.  The 24-year-old Bryant, the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year, played in 155 games, hitting .292, with a league-leading 121 runs scored, 39 home runs and 102 RBI (not to mention eight steals).  In the process, he started games at 3B, LF, RF, 1B and SS. Bryant’s contributions – at the plate and all around the diamond – pretty much define the term “MVP”.  His presence made manager Joe Maddon’s job a whole lot easier.


BBRT Selection; Kris Bryant   

BBRT Prediction:  Kris Bryant


Here’s a BBRT rant you have heard before, but BBRT is nothing if not consistent.  I believe we need another major award in MLB – recognizing each season’s best position player (to include the DH position).  Pitchers have the Cy Young Award – recognizing each season’s best pitcher.  There is, however, no equivalent award reserved for the best performance by a position player. While some would argue the MVP Award serves that purpose, the fact that numerous pitchers have won the MVP over the years argues against that contention. I believe we need a position player award equivalent to the Cy Young, as well as the MVP Award (based on contributions to team success).



National League Cy Young Award – Max Scherzer, RHP, Nationals

Max Scherzer photo

Photo by apardavila

BBRT sees the NL Cy Young race as Max Scherzer, followed by “Pick a Cub,” the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez, and a pair of Giants (Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner). Why separates Scherzer from this very talented pack? The Nationals’ righty:

  • Led the NL in wins (20 – the league’s only 20-game winner);
  • Led all of MLB in strikeouts with 284 (30 ahead of Justin Verlander’s second-best total) and WHIP (0.97);
  • Topped the NL in innings pitched (228 1/3); and
  • Turned in a 2.96 ERA – one of just eight qualifying hurlers to come in under 3.00.

That combination is enough to give Scherzer the edge in a very tough Cy Young Awqrd race.

For a list of contenders, look first to the Cubs’ staff.  You have Kyle Hendricks (16-8, with MLB’s lowest ERA at 2.13); Jon Lester (19-4, 2.44, with 197 strikeouts in 202 2/3 innings); and Jake Arrieta (18-8, 3.10). Then there’s the Marlins’ young star Jose Fernandez (who died in a tragic late September boating accident) at 16-8, 2.86, with 253 strikeouts in just 182 1/3 innings.  Finally, you have Giants Johnny Cueto, who had an all-around solid season at 18-5, 2.79, and Madison Bumgarner (15-9, 2.74, with 251 K’s in 222 2/3 innings).   There’s lots of talent here, but I think Scherzer’s numbers stand out from the small crowd at the top of the NL.

BBRT Selection:  Max Scherzer   

BBRT Prediction: Max Scherzer

A few Cy Young Award “firsts:”

      – First winner – Don Newcombe, Dodgers (1956)

      – First southpaw winner – Warren Spahn, Braves, 1957

      – First relief pitcher winner – Mike Marshall, Dodgers, 1974

      – First rookie to win the CYA – Fernando Valenzuela, Dodgers (1981)

       – First to win CYA and MVP in same season – Don Newcombe,                         Dodgers (1956)  

       –  First shared (tied) CYA – Denny McLain, Tigers & Mike Cueller,                  Orioles (1969)

        – First pitcher to win the CYA in both leagues – Gaylord Perry,                         Indians (1972)/Padres (1978)

American League Cy Young Award – Rick Porcello, RHP. Red Sox

Rick Porcello Red sox photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Rick Porcello of the Red Sox is an imposing presence on the mound at 6’ 5” and 205 pounds.  Well, the big guy had a big year in 2016 – leading all of MLB with 22 victories (against only four losses). In his 33 starts, Porcello recorded a 3.15 ERA (fifth-best in the AL), 1.01 WHIP (second-best in the AL) and fanned 189 batters (AL’s eighth-most) in 223 innings pitched (AL’s fourth-highest).  Also in the mix are the Indians’ Corey Kluber (18-9, 3.14, with 222 strikeouts in 215 innings); the Tigers’ Justin Verlander (16-9, 3.04, with a league-leading 254 K’s in 227 2/3 innings); the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ (20-5, 3.18), and Orioles’ closer Zach Britton (47-for-47 in save opportunities. with a miniscule 0.54 ERA in 67 innings). BBRT has to go with Porcello’s 22 victories and .846 winning percentage.  The most likely pitchers to sneak past Porcello would be Britton and his perfect record in saves or Verlander (those 250+ strikeouts will garner a few votes).  As an aside, 2016 saw Porcello (in his eighth MLB season) record his highest-ever numbers in wins, winning percentage, innings pitched and strikeouts – and his lowest-ever season ERA.

BBRT Selection: Rick Porcello  

BBRT Prediction: Rick Porcello

In 2016, eight MLB pitchers qualifying for the ERA title finished the season under 3.00 – and all eight were in the National League (with the two lowest ERAs belonging to Cubs’ hurlers Kyle Hendricks at 2.13 and Jon Lester at 2.44).  The lowest qualifying American ERA went to the Blue Jays’ Aaron Sanchez at 3.00.



American League Manager of the Year– Terry Francona, Indians

Terry Francona photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Okay, John Farrell did take the Red Sox from worst to first and Rangers’ Manager Jeff Bannister overcame lost time by Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Colby Lewis (not to mention Prince Fielder’s injury-forced retirement), but BBRT leans toward the Indians’ Terry Francona for AL Manager of the Year. Francona led the Tribe to the top of the AL Central (BBRT didn’t even pick the Tribe to make the post season) with a 94-67 record.  Francona pushed the Indians to the top despite a series of injuries (Michael Brantley, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, Yan Gomes). In the process, he earned continued praise as a manager who effectively handles a pitching staff under stress and uses position-player platooning to adjust for injuries, balance playing time and put winning combinations on the field.  I expect the voting will be close, but Francona should edge Bannister for the recognition. (Side note: Jeff Bannister was the 2015 AL Manager of the Year and only once has a manager received this recognition in consecutive seasons: Bobby Cox, Braves, 2004 & 2005).

BBRT: Selection: Terry Francona

BBRT Prediction: Terry Francona

National League Manager of the Year  – Dave Roberts, Los Angeles Dodgers

Dave roberts dodgers photo

Photo by Malingering

This looks like a three-way race between the Dodgers’ Dave Roberts, Nationals’ Dusty Baker and Cubs’ Joe Maddon.  All three managers had plenty of talent on the roster – and were expected to make the post-season.  BBRT gives Roberts the edge here for a couple of reasons.  First, Joe Maddon and Dusty Baker were already proven commodities. Maddon and Baker are both three-time Manager of the Year Award winners, while Roberts came into the season with one game of managerial experience. (Roberts filled in when the Padres fired manager Bud Black in June of last year.  He managed one game – a 9-1 loss to Oakland – before Pat Murphy was hired as manager and Roberts returned to the coaching staff.)   As a Rookie manager, Roberts led the Dodgers to a 91-71 record and the NL West title.  Not only that, he did it despite placing an MLB-record 28 players on the disabled list during the season – including staff Ace Clayton Kershaw (who, at one point, went 75 days between starts).  Bringing the Dodgers home in first place, despite an ever-changing lineup, bench and pitching staff (LA used 31 pitchers, including 15 different starters) give this rookie manager BBRT’s vote.

BBRT Selection:  Dave Roberts    

BBRT Prediction: Dave Roberts


Established in 1983, the Manager of the Year Award has gone to 44 different managers.  Here are a few tidbits:

     – La-La Land: The first ever Manager of the Year Awards (1983) went to Tony La Russa (White Sox) and Tommy Lasorda (Dodgers).

     – The most MOY Awards (four each) have gone to Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa. Cox won his awards with the Blue Jays (1985) and Braves (1991, 2004, 2005). La Russa won with the White Sox (1983), A’s (1988, 1992) and Cardinals (2002).

     – The first manager to win the award in both leagues was Bobby Cox (see above bullet).

     – Bobby Cox is the only manager to win the award in consecutive seasons

     – 47 MOY Awards have gone to first-place finishers; 15 to second-place finishers; four to third-place finishers; and one to a fourth-place finisher.

     – The only manager to win the MOY Award with a team that finished under .500 was Joe Girardi, who managed the 2006 Florida Marlins to a 78-84 fourth-place finish. (BBRT note: Girardi was fired after the season, despite winning Manager of the Year.)

Coming Soon – A look at the Baseball Hall of Fame 2017 Today’s Game Era ballot.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

September Wrap Up – Pennant Races, Pinch Hit Homers, and a Host of Hounds

The 2016 regular season is behind us, and that means it’s time for another BBRT monthly wrap up.  So, in this very lo-o-o-ong post, we’ll look at September records, stats and happenings; season-ending stats and observations; September monthly BBRT honors; and post-season predictions. Note: I normally post the wrap up on the first of the next month, but this time I decided to wait until October 2 (to include the end-of-season stats.)

September gave us plenty to look at, with such occurrences as:

  • The Cardinals setting a new MLB season record for pinch-hit home runs;
  • The White Sox setting a new record for dogs attending a sporting event; and
  • The Indians using a record nine pitchers to deliver a shutout.

We also saw some full-season accomplishments like:

  • David Ortiz, in his final season, setting new major league records for doubles, home runs and RBI in a season at age 40 or over (his final numbers: .315-48-127, with 48 doubles);
  • Zach Britton going 47-for-47 save in converting save opportunities – and setting an MLB record for the lowest ERA for a pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched;
  • The Twins matching an MLB record by having four players with double-digit home runs;
  • The Cardinals hitting a record 17 pinch-hit home runs;
  • Three players appearing in all 162 games.

This post will cover these occurrences and more, but first a look at the upcoming post-season.

Post Season Participants

'Cubs Win! Cubs Win!' -- 10:41 am CDT April 13, 2012, Wrigley Field Chicago (IL)There were no tight Divisional races as September came to a close. Your Division champs were the Indians, Red Sox, Rangers, Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers – and, as of September 30, all had leads of at least five games (Red Sox over Orioles), with the Cubs having the largest margin at 18 ½ games over the second-place Cardinals.

The Wild Card races were still to be decided as September came to a close.  In the AL the Orioles held a one game edge over the Blue Jays, with the Tigers ½-game behind the Jays and the Mariners one game out of the final spot. Over the final weekend, Detroit and Seattle both went 0-2, dropping out of the Wild Card competition.  Over in the NL, three teams were competing for two Wild Card spots, with the Mets one game up on the Giants and the Cardinals trailing San Francisco by one game for the final WC spot. The Mets split their final two contests, while the Cardinals and Giants both went 2-0 – knocking the Cardinals out of the post season.  You can find full standings and won-lost records (full season and September) at the end of this post.  

Your Final Playoff Teams:

AL: Division Champions: Red Sox, Indians, Rangers.  Wild Cards:  Orioles, Blue Jays.

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

—–Baseball Roundtable Quick Picks for the Playoffs—–

Wild Card Play In

ORIOLES over Blue Jays: Two power-focused, high-scoring offenses, but pitching gives the Orioles the edge.

GIANTS over the Mets: Noah Syndergaard versus Madison Bumgarner – a great matchup.  BBRT goes with MadBum’s post-season experience.  Off-the-wall prediction … MadBum gets an RBI double in this one.


ORIOLES over Rangers: A tough series, with both teams facing late-season issues with starting pitching.  BBRT thinks Orioles’ bullpen will be the difference maker.

RED SOX over Indians:  The BoSox have a balanced attack – a veteran presence – and enough pitching to keep David Ortiz on the field for at least another series.  Still, if David Price falters, the Indians could sneak by. 


CUBS over Giants: MadBum can’t pitch every day and the Cubs have a solid offense – plus Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks to start and Aroldis Chapman to close the door. Having to use Madison Bumgarner in the Wild Card game will hurt the Giants. For the Giants to win, Johnny Cueto has to pitch like a stud and Buster Posey has to hit like an MVP.  I just don’t think they have the horses.

 DODGERS over the Nationals.  The Dodgers will ride solid pitching to a series’ win.  Off-the-wall prediction: Clayton Kershaw, 2-6, 4.59 in 13 post-season games, will go 2-0, with an ERA under two in this series; and Kenta Maeda will shine.


RED SOX over Orioles: The Red Sox just have too much for the O’s – and Big Papi wants to go out with a bang. Hanley Ramirez has been hot, Mookie Betts could be the ALCS MVP.  Off-the-wall prediction: Zach Britton blows his first save of 2016 in this series.


CUBS over the Dodgers: See the NLDS, the Cubs have a young powerful offense (led by Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo), stellar pitching and destiny on their side. Off-the-wall prediction: Ben Zobrist hits a pair of key home runs in this series.


Two revered franchises. Seven games. A classic. Who wins?  Toss up, but I give the CUBS the edge. (It’s a long and tiring season and they have youth on their side.  I also like Kyle Hendriks and Jon Lester to win two games each. David Price may be the key for the Red Sox – along, of course, with the impact of Big Papi leading the emotional charge. Still, I see – Cubs Win! Cubs Win!


Fenway Park photo

Photo by Trace Meek

September’s winningest team was the Red Sox, who secured the Division title with a 19-8 month. Over in the NL, the Dodgers and Cubs both went 17-10 to lead the senior circuit in September wins. Other teams with at least 16 victories in the month were the Mariners (18-9); Mets (17-10); Orioles (16-11); Indians (16-11) – and the surprising Braves (16-10).

The Red Sox earned those 19 victories at the plate, on the mound and in the field – giving up the fewest September runs in MLB (85), while scoring MLB’s most runs for the month with 150.  In the process, they achieved the AL’s second-lowest September 2016 ERA at 3.05 (only Baltimore was better at 2.90) and the league’s third-highest batting average at .275.

The worst September performance?  The Twins at 8-19, the only team to record less than ten wins. (The Twins finished the season an MLB-worst 59-103.) In the NL, the worst September record belonged to the Phillies at 10-17.  The Twins were almost the mirror image of the Red Sox. Minnesota gave up the most runs in the AL (154) in September, while scoring the league’s third-fewest (107).

Before we get into details, highlights and stats for September, let’s look at BBRT’s Honor Roll for the month.

—–Baseball Roundtable September Honors—–

AL Player of the Month – Miguel Cabrera 1B, Tigers

Cabrera put up solid offensive numbers across the board in September: a .347 average (fifth in the AL among players with at least 75 plate appearances); 10 home runs (second in the AL); 27 RBI (second in the AL); and 20 runs scored (fourth in the AL).  Among the other players high on BBRT’s September list were Royals’ DH Kendrys Morales, with an MLB-leading 30 RBI, to go along with a .333 September average and eight home runs; and Tigers’ LF Justin Upton (.307-12-27 for the month). Red Sox’ DH David Ortiz (a sentimental favorite) was also in the running at .33-7-25.  A close call, but Miggy gets the nod.

NL Player of the Month – Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves

Freddie freeman photo

Photo by Neon Tommy

When Braves first-sacker Freddie Freeman went hitless in four at bats on September 29, it was his first hitless game in the month of September – and it ended 2016’s longest MLB hitting streak (which began on August 24) at 30 games. During the streak, Freeman hit .384 with seven home runs, 26 runs scored and 27 RBI, raising his batting average from .288 to .308.  For the month of September – during which the Braves  surprised baseball by going 16-10,  hitting .292 as a team and leading the NL in runs scored – Freeman hit .385 (tied for best in the NL), with six home runs, 22 runs scored (tied for third in the NL) and 22 RBI (tied for second in the NL). Freeman also drew 18 walks – contributing to an MLB-best .486 on base percentage. Freeman’s primary competition for BBRT Player of the Month for September was his teammate, LF Matt Kemp. Kemp hit .337 in September, with nine home runs, while matching Freeman in runs scored (22) and RBI (22). Freeman’s streak and on-base-percentage (102 points higher than Kemp’s) gave him the edge.

AL Pitcher of the Month – Rick Porcello, RHP, Red Sox

Rick porcello red sox photo

Photo by Keith Allison

Five AL hurlers picked up four victories in September and, among those five, Rick Porcello (4-1, 2.70) was second in ERA  (2.70), second in WHIP (0.88), first in innings pitched (he led the league with 43 1/3 innings) and third in strikeouts (37). Couple that with the fact that Porcello’s fourth September win was his 22nd of the season – against just four losses – and he earns BBRT Pitcher of the Month (and a likely a favorite’s position in the AL Cy Young balloting).  The key competition came from resurgent Tigers’ RHP Justin Verlander, who – despite going just 2-1 in five starts – put up the AL’s third-best ERA for the month at 1.93 (behind only the 1.44 of A’s RHP Jharel Cotton and the 1.85 of Angels’ RHP Rickey Nolasco). Verlander also led the league (and all of MLB) in strikeouts for the month, with 48 in 32 2/3 innings.  

NL Pitcher of the Month, Jon Lester, LHP Cubs

Easy pick here. Cubs’ southpaw John Lester was the only MLB pitcher to earn five wins in September (5-0 in five starts) and had MLB’s lowest ERA for the month at 0.48. Lester gave up just two earned runs in 37 2/3 innings pitched. For the month, opposing batters hit just .171 against Lester. In his five starts, he averaged just over 7 1/3 innings pitched, 4.4 hits, 0.8 walks, 6.2 strikeouts and 0.4 earned runs.  Lester finished the season 19-4, 2.28 – having won his last ten decisions (in 14 starts). His last loss came on July 3.

AL Team of the Month – Boston Red Sox, 19-8

The Red Sox finished August 74-59, two games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East.  They then went 19-8 in September to take control of the East, clinching the Division title on September 28. The Red Sox used a combination of pitching and hitting to earn Team of the Month recognition – giving up the fewest runs in the AL (85) and scoring the league’s most (150). Leading the Red Sox to a 3.05 ERA for the month (second-best in the AL) were starter Rick Porcello (4-1, 2.70) and Eduardo Rodriguez (1-1, 2.89). David Price added four wins (versus one loss), but did post a 4.35 ERA.  In the bullpen, closer Brad Ziegler was ten-for-ten in save opportunities, and did not give up a single earned run in 12 appearances. Bullpen mates Koji Uehara (11 appearances) and Junichi Tazawa (five appearances) also boasted ERA’s of 0.00 for the month, and Joe Kelly gave up just one earned run in 10 appearances (0.75 ERA for the month.)

On offense, 1B Hanley Ramirez (.313-10-26) and DH David Ortiz (.333-7-25) provided the bulk of the power, with plenty of help from the likes of RF Mookie Betts (.314 with 17 runs scored and five steals) and 2B Dustin Pedroia (.315 with 18 runs scored).

NL Team of the Month – Atlanta Braves, 16-10

The Braves entered September with a dismal 50-83 record and then surprised everyone with a 16-10 September – built primarily around their offense.  For the month, the Braves logged the ninth-best (or seventh-worst) ERA at 4.50, but led the NL (and all of MLB) in batting average at .292.  They gave up the eighth-most runs in the league (123), but plated the most tallies (143).  Leading the offensive surge for the Braves were: LF Matt Kemp (.337-9-22 for September) and 1B Freddie Freeman (.385-6-22) – with notable contributions from CF Ender Inciarte (.324 with an NL-leading 23 runs scored), 3B Adonis Garcia (.277-3-17, with 19 runs scored) and SS Danby Swanson (.313-3-13, with 14 runs scored).

Now, how about September team stats?




AL:  Orioles – 2.90; Red Sox – 3.05; Mariners – 3.22

NL:  Dodgers – 3.00; Cubs – 3.08; Brewers – 3.28

Five MLB teams had ERA’s over 5.00 for the month of September: Royals – 5.37; Twins – 5.13; Phillies – 5.12; D-backs – 5.05; Rockies – 5.02.

Fewest Runs Allowed

AL: Red Sox – 85: Orioles – 89; Mariners – 103

NL: Dodgers – 89; Cubs – 95; Mets – 95

Four teams gave up 150 or more runs in September: Rockies – 165; Pirates – 159; Twins – 154; Phillies – 153; Royals – 150.

Earned Runs Allowed

AL: Orioles – 78; Red Sox – 81; Mariners – 88

NL: Dodgers – 80; Cubs – 85; Brewers – 86

Only two MLB teams gave up 140+ earned runs in September: Royals – 143; Twins -141. The Phillies gave up the most earned runs in the NL (137).


AL: Indians – 240; Red Sox – 238; Tigers – 237

NL: Dodgers – 268; Mets – 250; Giants; 248; Cubs – 248

The Dodgers led all of MLB in strikeouts per nine innings in September at 10.06. Other teams reaching at least nine K’s per nine innings for the month were: Tigers (9.34); Nationals (9.13); Mets (9.12); Indians (9.04); Cubs (9.00).

Fewest Walks Allowed

AL:  A’s – 65; Red Sox – 68; Indians – 71

NL: Brewers – 70; Dodgers – 71; Cubs – 73

No team walked more batters than the Reds, who handed out 113 free passes in September. The Yankees’ staff walked the most hitters in the AL for the month at 102.  Coincidentally (or perhaps  not), the Reds also gave up the most September home runs in the NL (41), while the Yankees gave up the most long balls in the AL (39).


AL:  Rangers – 10; Red Sox – 9; Yankees – 9

NL: Mets – 9; Padres – 9; Marlins – 9.

Only two teams completed September without a blown save during the month: the Cubs and Indians (each with six saves). The Phillies had the worst save percentage for the month, with just five saves in 13 opportunities (38.5%).

Batting Average (hitters)

AL: White Sox – .286; Tigers – .278; Red Sox – .275

NL: Braves – .292; Reds – .286; Rockies – .273

The Padres had MLB’s lowest September batting average at .230, while the Twins were at the bottom of the AL at .231.

Runs Scored

Al: Red Sox – 150; White Sox – 148; Mariners – 147

NL: Braves – 143; Mets – 141; D-backs – 134

Only the Marlins scored fewer than 100 runs in September (99); while the usually high-scoring Blue Jays plated the fewest runners in the AL (100).

Home Runs

AL: Mariners – 42; Orioles – 41; Twins – 41

NL: Brewers – 42; Mets – 39; D-backs – 39

Just two teams launched fewer than 20 long balls in September; the Marlins (17) and the Indians (19). 

Stolen Bases

AL: Royals – 31; Indians – 26; Angels 23

NL: Brewer – 31; Nationals – 25; Phillies – 24

Seattle had the best stolen base percentage for September, safely swiping 14 bags in 15 attempts (93.3%). The Tigers were the only team to be thrown out in more than half their steal attempts, being gunned down seven times in 13 attempts.


—–Now let’s look at some intriguing happenings from September—–

Not Exactly a Perfect time to go to the Pen

On September 10, Dodgers’ southpaw Rich Hill was definitely on his game. In fact, after seven innings – and 89 pitches – Hill was pitching a perfect game against the Marlins, boasting a 5-0 lead and nine strikeouts. It was at that time that Dodger Manager Dave Roberts decided to replace Hill (who had earlier spent time on the disabled list with blister issues) with reliever Joe Blanton (who retired the first two batters in the eighth before LF Jeff Francoeur hit a single). The Marlins ended up with two hits, the Dodgers ended up with a 5-0 win – and Hill ended up with a victory, but no “perfecto.”  BBRT note: There has never been a combined perfect game in MLB. Second BBRT note: At least they were playing in Miami, imagine the uproar it they had been at home.  Third BBRT note: If that had been Jack Morris on the mound, Roberts would have needed the Fire Department and the “Jaws of Life” to pry the ball out of his hands.

Complete Games – We Don’t need Not Stinkin’ Complete Games

On September 17, Carlos Carrasco started on the mound (against the Tigers) for the Indians in Cleveland. Carrasco gave up a leadoff single to Tigers’ 2B Ian Kinsler – a line shot off Carrasco’s right hand that broke a finger and knocked him out of the game (and the rest of the season).  What followed was a bit of baseball history, as eight Indians’ relievers held the Tigers scoreless in a 10-inning 1-0 Cleveland victory.  The Elias Sports Bureau reports that it is the most pitchers ever used in a complete-game shutout.  The cast of characters? Carrasco; Jeff Manship (1 1/3 innings pitched); Kyle Crockett (2/3); Cody Anderson (two IP); Zach McCallister, Perci Garner, Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen (one inning each); Andrew Miller (two innings for the win.) Final line:  10 innings, four hits, three walks, ten strikeouts, no runs.

Shut Outs – Usually a Team Effort These Days

In 2016, MLB teams shut out their opponents 276 times – only 11.6 percent of those (32) were complete game shut outs (by a single pitcher). Clayton Kershaw led MLB with three complete game shutouts.

 Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready to Play

On October 2, Alcides Escobar started at SS for the Royals, Jonathan Schoop started at 2B for the Orioles and George Springer started in RF for the Astros.  They had one thing in common, they were each playing in their 162nd game of the 162 -game season – the only three players to do so in 2016.

Off to a Roaring Start  

Gary Sanchez Yankees photo

Photo by apardavila

On September 27, Yankee rookie catcher Gary Sanchez hit his 20th major league home run – in just his 51st major league game. The long ball tied Sanchez with Wally Berger of the Boston Braves (1930) for the fastest track (fewest games) to reach 50 home runs at the start of a career.  Sanchez, who got two at bats in a late 2015 call-up (no hits) and had a zero-for-four game performance for the Yankees in a one-game call up in Mid-May of this season, has been a solid performer since returning to the Yankees on August 3.  The 23-year-old finished the season at .299-20-42 in 53 games – earning mention as a rookie of the year candidate.

Save the Last Dance for Me

On September 28, the Orioles’ Zach Britton picked up the save in a 3-2 Orioles victory in Toronto.  It was his 47th save in 47 2016 opportunities. He appeared in one more game – on October 2 in a non-save situation – pitching 1 2/3 innings without giving up an earned run and setting an MLB record for the lowest ERA for a pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched. Britton gave up just four earned runs in 65 1/3 innings for a 0.54 ERA. His stellar work as a closer helped the Orioles each post-season, where he hopes to notch additional saves in the ‘big dance.”  BBRT note: Britton has a career ERA of 4.86 in 250 innings as a starter and 1.36 in 212 innings of relief.

Keeping he Pressure On

On September 12, the White Sox became the second team to score in every inning of a game this season, as they topped the Indians 11-4 in Chicago. The White Sox became just the 20th team in MLB history to score in every inning of a ball game (Note: Just last month, on August 11th, the Milwaukee Brewers scored in every inning of an 11-3 win over the Braves.)

That’ll do in a Pinch – Or Going to the Matt

On September 6, Matt Carpenter came to the plate as a pinch hitter (with two out in the top of the ninth inning and the Cardinals trailing the Pirates 6-5) in Pittsburgh. Carpenter homered to tie the game – and the Cardinals went on to win 9-7.   The homer not only tied the contest, it gave the Redbirds the record for the most pinch hit home runs a season at 15. The Cardinals extended that record to 17 pinch-hit homers with long balls in that role by Matt Adams on September 27 and Matt Holliday on September 30.

Another Dose of Dozier

Brian Dozier photo

Photo by rtclauss

On September 22 – as the Twins lost to the Tigers 9-2 – Brian Dozier connected for his 42nd home run of the year.  It was his 40th while playing second base (two came as DH), setting a new AL record for home runs hit in a season by a second baseman. It came as Dozier led off the first inning, his 19th career leadoff blast. The MLB record for homers in a season while playing second base (42)  belongs to the Cardinals’ Rogers Hornsby (1922) and the Braves’ Davey Johnson (1973 … Johnson hit 43 that season).


A Doggone Good Performance

On September 13, Chicago White Sox fans turned in a doggone god performance – as the White Sox took on the Indians (at U.S. Cellular Field) on “Bark in the Park” day.  According to the folks at the Guinness Book of World Records, 1,122 dogs attended the game – a world record for dogs attending a sporting event. The honor seems appropriate as the White Sox were the first team to sponsor a day for dogs in the park – a decade ago.  Oh yeah, and the Sox gave the pooches something to howl about, winning the game 8-1.

The Shakespeare of Baseball Retires

On October 2, Vin Scully announced his last game for the Dodgers – ending a 67-year relationship with the team (the longest tenure any announcer has had with a sports team).  Scully’s final game in the broadcast booth was a 7-1 Dodgers’ loss to the rival Giants in San Francisco.  His final call at home, however, was much more appropriate. On September 25, Scully called his last Dodger home game – and it ended with Dodgers’ 2B Charlie Culberson hitting a two-out, extra-inning (11th), walk-off, division-title-clinching home run. The round tripper was, by the way, Culberson’s only home run for the season.

Scully – who won just about every sports broadcasting award available during his career – “called” more than 9,000 Dodger games.  Among key “calls” in Scully’s career were:

  • Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series;
  • Perfect games by Sandy Koufax (1965) and Dennis Martinez (1991), along with 18 no-hitters;
  • Hank Aaron’s 715th homer run;
  • Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit, walk-off home run in Game One of the 1988 World Series;
  • Three World Series (1984, 1986, 1988); four NL Championship Series (1983, 1985, 1987, 1989); and
  • Four All Star games (1983, 1985, 1987, 1989).

Vin Scully – Bits of Trivia

      – Ironically, despite spending a career as a Dodgers’ broadcaster, Scully’s first baseball love was the rival Giants – who played at the Polo Grounds near his childhood home.

      – Known for his smooth harmonious broadcast voice – some referred to it as dulcet – Scully sang in a barbershop quartet during his college years.

      – On June 3, 1989 (a Saturday), Scully did the NBC Game of the Week play-by-play for a 10-inning Cardinals’ win over the Cubs in St. Louis. After the game, Scully flew to Houston, where his Dodgers were playing the Astros. (Scully was to broadcast the Sunday game.) The Saturday game went into extra innings and, rather than go directly to his hotel, Scully went to the ball park – and ended up calling the final 12 innings of that 22-inning contest. Two games, two cities, 23 innings – quite a busy day

Lucky Number Eleven

On September 25, Red Sox pitchers set a major league record by fanning 11 batters in a row – from the second out of the fourth inning to the final out of the seventh – as the Red Sox topped the Rays 3-2 in Tampa. The first six strikeouts (five swinging) went to starter Eduardo Rodriguez, while the last five (four swinging) were notched by reliever Heath Hembree.  Overall, five Red Sox pitchers fanned 23 Rays’ batters in the ten inning contest: 13 by Rodriguez in 5 1/3 innings; five by Hembree in 1 2/3 IP; one by Matt Barnes in 1/3 IP; none by Fernando Abad (who faced one batter and gave up a hit); and four by Joe Kelly in 2 2/3 IP.  And, how lucky was number eleven that day?  It was also the Red Sox’ eleventh consecutive victory.

Tom Terrific

Tom Seaver mets photo

Photo by slgckgc

When Red Sox’ pitchers Eduardo Rodriguez and Heath Hembree set an MLB record by striking out eleven consecutive hitters in a September 25th game against the Rays, they were teaming up to top a “one-man show.”  The previous record of ten straight batters fanned was set on April 22, 1970, by the Mets’ Tom Seaver – who fanned the last ten batters he faced while tossing a complete game and beating the Padres 2-1 in New York.  Seaver’s line for the day: nine innings pitched, two hits, two walks, one earned run and 19 strikeouts.



Not So Lucky Number Eleven

On the final day of the 2016 regular season, Twins’ CF Byron Buxton led off a game against the White Sox (an eventual 6-3 Twins’ win) with an inside-the-park home run. The blast enabled the Twins to tie a major league record – having eleven players on the roster hit double digits (10 or more) in home runs in a single season.  The power display did not pay off in the won-lost column, as the Twins finished the season with MLB’s worst record at 59-103, 35 ½ games out of first place in the AL Central.  The team whose record the Twins tied was the 2004 Tigers – who finished that campaign 70-92, 20 games out of first.



Average (minimum 75 plate appearances)

AL:  Ian Kinsler, Tigers – .386; Elvis Andrus, Rangers – .363; Jarrod Dyson, Royals – .362

NL: Joey Votto, Reds – .385; Freddie Freeman, Braves – .385; Yadier Molina, Cardinals – .371

Among players with at least 75 plate appearances, no one fared worse than Cardinals’ 1B Brandon Moss, who went 7-for-83 in September – a .084 average. In the AL, the lowest average (minimum 75 plate appearances) went to the Twins’ infielder Eduardo Escobar (9-for-85) at .129.

Runs Scored

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 21; Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox – 21; Adam Eaton, White Sox – 21

NL: Curtis Granderson, Mets – 23; Ender Inciarte, Braves – 23; Freddie Freeman, Braves – 22; Matt Kemp, Padres/Braves – 22

Home Runs

AL: Justin Upton, Tigers – 12; Miguel Cabrera, Tigers – 10; Hanley Ramirez Boston, 10

NL: Chris Carter, Brewers – 10; Matt Kemp, Braves – 9; Curtis Granderson, Mets – 8


AL: Kendrys Morales, Royals – 30; Miguel Cabrera, Tigers – 27; Justin Upton, Tigers – 27

NL: Anthony Rendon, Nationals – 23; Matt Kemp, Braves – 22; Chris Carter, Brewers – 22; Freddie Freeman, Braves – 22

Stolen Bases

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 8; Kevin Kiermaier, Rays – 8; two with 7

NL: Dee Gordon, Marlins – 14; Trea Turner, Nationals – 13; Jonathan Villar, Brewers – 10.

Walks Drawn

AL: Joe Baustista, Blue Jays – 23; Mike Trout, Angels – 23; two with 22

NL: Cesar Hernandez, Phillies – 22; Ben Zobrist, Cubs -22; Brandon Belt, Giants – 19

Swing and Miss – Nationals’ shortstop Danny Espinosa led MLB in September strikeouts – fanning 40 times in just 85 at bats (.106 batting average for the month). In the AL, Brian Dozier led the way with 38 whiffs in 111 at bats – but fared better than Espinoza overall, hitting .270 with 10 home runs and 18 RBI for the month.

Earned Run Aveage (minimum 25 innings pitched)

AL: Jharel Cotton, A’s – 1.44; Ricky Nolasco, Angels – 1.85; Justin Verlander, Tigers – 1.93

NL: John Lester, Cubs – 0.48;  Kyle Hendricks, Cubs – 1.38; Johnny Cueto, Giants – 1.78

Looking at pitches with a least four September starts, The Astro’s Doug Pfister had MLB’s worst ERA for the month at 11.74 (30 earned runs in 23 innings over six starts). In the NL, the worst ERA goes to the Pirates’ Ryan Vogelsong (8.72 over 21 2/3 innings in five starts).


AL: Ariel Miranda (Mariners (4-1, 2.62); Rick Porcello, Red Sox (4-1, 2.70); David Price Boston (4-1, 4.35); Taijuan Walker, Mariners (4-2, 4.31); Carlos Rodon, White Sox *4-2, 4.50)

NL: John Lester, Cubs (5-0, 0.48); Johnny Cueto, Giants (4-0, 1.78); Max Scherzer, Nationals (4-0, 2,43); Dan Straily, Reds (4-1, 3.13); Carlos Martinez, cardinals (4-2, 2.92) Adam Wainwright, Cardinals (4-1, 5.46)

The Cardinals scored 41 runs in Adam Wainwright’s five September starts, enabling him to go 4-1, despite a 5.46 ERA for the month. In contrast, fellow Cardinals’ pitcher Mike Leake also had five September starts, with an almost identical 5.47 ERA.  The Cardinals scored just eight runs in Leake’s starts – resulting in a 0-3 record for the month.


AL:  Justin Verlander, Tigers – 48 (32 2/3IP); Carlos Rodon, White Sox – 44 (36 IP); Yu Darvish, Rangers – 42 (28 2/3 IP); Chris Sale, White Sox – 42 (36 IP)

NL: Madison Bumgarner, Giants – 44 (39 IP); Jeff Samardzija, Giants – 42 (36 2/3 IP); Max Scherzer, Nationals – 39 (33 1/3 IP)


AL: Zach Britton, Orioles – 8; Sam Dyson, Rangers – 8; five players with seven

NL: Nark Melancon, Nationals – 8; A.J. Ramos, Marlins – 8; three players with seven


Finally, a look at full year stats– Team and Individuals

—–TEAM Stats 2016—–

Runs Scored

Al: Red Sox – 878; Indians – 777; Mariners – 768

NL: Rockies – 845; Cubs – 808; Cardinals – 779

Batting Average

AL: Red Sox – .282; Tigers – .267; Rangers/Indians – .262

NL: Rockies – .275; Marlins – .263; D-backs – .261

Home Runs

AL: Orioles – 253; Mariners – 223; Blue Jays – 221

NL: Cardinals – 225; Mets – 218; Rockies – 204.

Nobody scored fewer runs in 2016 than the Phillies (610). In the AL, Oakland had the most anemic offense, with just 653 runs. The worst team batting average belonged to the Padres at .235, while the Tampa Bay Rays were at the bottom of the AL (.243). In the power department, Atlanta notched the fewest home runs with 122, while the Royals were at the bottom of the AL with 147.

Stolen Bases

AL: Indians – 134; Royals – 121; Astros – 102

NL: Brewers – 181; Reds – 139; D-backs – 137

The Baltimore Orioles swiped only 19 bags in 2016 (in just 32 attempts). They were the only team in MLB with fewer than 35 steals and fewer than 60 attempts.


AL: Blue Jays – 3.78; Indians  – 3.84; Mariners/Red Sox – 4.00

NL: Cubs – 3.15; Nationals – 3.51; Mets – 3.58

Only two teams in MLB had ERA’s of 5.00+ in 2016:  The D-backs at 5.09 and the Twins at 5.08.


AL: Indians- 1,398; Astros – 1,396; Yankees – 1,393

NL: Dodgers – 1,510; Nationals – 1,476; Cubs -1,441


AL: Rangers – 56; Orioles – 54; Mariners – 49

NL: Mets – 55; Miami – 55; Pirates – 51.

When it comes to converting saves, no team topped the Orioles, who converted 79.4 percent of their 2016 save opportunities. The Mets led the NL at 77.5 percent. At the bottom of the save percentage standings were the Reds (52.8%) and the Twins (56.5%).

Batting Average

AL Jose Altuve, Astros – .338; Mookie Betts, Red Sox – .318; Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox – .318

NL: DJ LeMahieu, Rockies – .348; Daniel Murphy, Nationals – .347; Joey Votto, Reds – .326

Home Runs

AL: Mark Trumbo, Orioles – 47; Nelson Cruz, Mariners – 43; three with 42

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 41; Chris Carter, Brewers – 41, Kris Bryant, Cubs- 39

Run Scored

AL: Mike Trout, Angels – 123; Mookie Betts, Red Sox – 122; Josh Donaldsn, Blue Jays – 122

NL: Kris Bryant, Cubs – 121; Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 116; Charlie Blackmon, Rockies – 111


AL: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays – 127; David Ortiz, Red Sox – 127; Albert Pujols, Angels – 119

NL: Nolan Arenado, Rockies – 133; Anthony Rizzo, Cubs – 109; Matt Kemp, Braves – 108

The lowest batting average among players with a minimum of 500 plate appearances goes to the Nationals’ Danny Espinosa at .209 (108-for-516).  In the AL, the lowest qualifying average goes to the Royals’ Alex Gordon at .220 (98-for-445). Your 2016 strikeout leaders were both named Chris:  Chris Davis, Orioles, with 219 whiffs (.221-38-84 line) and the Brewers’ Chris Carter with 206 strikeouts (.222-41-95). 

Stolen Bases

AL: Rajai Davis, Indians – 43; three with 30

NL: Villar, Brewers – 62; Billy Hamilton, Reds – 58; Starlings Marte, Pirates – 47




                             Won      Lost      Pct.       GB        Sept.         Oct.


Boston                    93         68         .5xx      …        (19-8)        (0-2)

Baltimore                 88         73         .5xx      2.0       (16-11)      (1-1)

Toronto                    88         73         .5xx      4.0        (11-16)      (2-0)

New York                 84         77         .5xx       6.5       (14-11)      (1-1)

Tampa Bay              67          94         .4xx      19.5     (10-18)      (2-0)


Cleveland               93           67          .5xx       …      (16-11)        (2-0)

Detroit                    86           74          .5xx      4.5      (14-12)        (0-2)

Kansas City            81            80         .5xx       7.5      (12-15)       (0-2)

Chicago                  78            83         .4xx     13.0      (15-13)       (0-2)

Minnesota               58          103         .3xx     27.5      (8-19)         (2-0)


Texas                      95           66           .5xx      …       (15-11)       (0-2)

Seattle                     86           75           .5xx      8.5      (18-9)        (0-2)

Houston                   84           77           .5xx     11.5      (12-15)      (1-1)

Los Angeles             73           88           .4xx      20.5    (14-13)       (1-1)

Oakland                   68           93           .4xx     22.5     (10-17)       (2-0)

AL Tops NL in Interleague Play

The American League had the edge in interleague play this past season – winning 139 interleague contests to 121 for the National League.  Overall, eight AL teams had winning interleague records, five had losing records and two split thier 20 internleague contests.  In the NL, five  teams had positive interleague records, nine were under .500 and one produced a split.  The Cubs were the most successful in interleague competition – going 15-5. The Reds and D-backs had the worst interleague records at 5-15.  



Washington           94            67          .5xx         …       (15-12)        (2-0)

New York              87            74          .5xx        9.0       (17-10)        (1-1)

Miami                   79            81          .4xx        11.0       (12-15)       (0-2)

Philadelphia          70             91         .4xx        18.0       (10-17)       (1-1)

Atlanta                  67             93        .3xx         28.0      (16-10)       (2-0)


Chicago                 102            58          .6xx       …        (17-10)       (1-1)

St. Louis                 85              76        .5xx     15.0       (14-14)        (2-0)

Pittsburgh               78              82        .4xx     17.5       (11-17)        (0-2)

Milwaukee              72               69       .4xx      28.5       (14-13)        (2-0)

Cincinnati               68               93       .4xx       30.0      (12-16)        (1-1)


Los Angeles           91               70         .5xx        …        (17-10)       (0-2)

San Francisco        86               75         .5xx       1.5        (13-15)       (2-0)

Colorado                 75               86         .4xx      10.0       (11-16)       (0-2)

Arizona                   68               93        .4xx      18.0        (11-16)       (2-0)

San Diego               68                93       .4xx        18.5      (13-15)       (0-2)


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Tebow’s Targets – Some of Baseball’s Multi-Sport Heroes

Tim Tebow photo

Tim Tebow – going from a football helmet to a batting helmet. Photo by sportiqe

Wednesday, (September 28, 2016), former Heisman Trophy Winner (2007) and NFL quarterback (2010-12) Tim Tebow had his first official at bat as a professional baseball player – and he made the most of it.   The 29-year-old, signed in early September by the Mets, is playing on the Mets’ Florida instructional league squad.  In his first game action, Tebow took the first pitch he saw – a high fastball –  deep to left field for his first professional home run. While Tebow went one-for-six in the game, he did make contact in every at bat, a good start to his attempt at a multi-sport career.

Tebow’s first game appearance seem like a good reason (excuse?) to revisit and update Baseball Roundtable list of favorite multi-sport MLB players (first noted here in 2013). There have been more than you might think:

  • Braves’ pitcher Gene Conley is the only person to play on both a World Series winner and an NBA championship team;
  • Bo Jackson was an MLB All Star and an NFL Pro Bowler;
  • Deon Sanders is the only athlete to suit up for a Major League Baseball and National Football League game on the same day;
  • Carroll Hardy (the only player ever to pinch hit for Ted Williams) had a season in which he hit eight home runs for the Red Sox and another in which he scored four touchdowns for the San Francisco 49ers;
  • Hall of Fame hurlers Bob Gibson and Fergie Jenkins both played for the Harlem Globetrotters;
  • Famed Olympian Jim Thorpe – thought by many to be the greatest athlete of the 20th century – played for the MLB New York Giants and NFL New York Giants.
  • Matt Kinzler is the only person to play for both the Detroit Tigers (pitcher) and Detroit Lions (punter) – appearing in one game for each team.

There have been others who choose to concentrate on baseball, but showed the potential to be stars in other sports. Hall of Famer Tom Glavine (a 305-game winner and two-time Cy Young Award recipient) was drafted in the fourth round of the 1984 National Hockey League draft — two rounds ahead of future National Hockey League Hall of Famer Brett Hull.   (Glavine scored 232 points and had 111 goals as a high school hockey player).  Another Baseball Hall of Famer – outfielder Dave Winfield – was drafted coming out of college by the San Diego Padres (MLB); Atlantic Hawks (NBA); Utah Stars (ABA); and Minnesota Vikings (NFL).   MLB Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn was drafted by the NBA’s San Diego Clippers and the NL’s San Diego Padres – on the same day (June 10, 1981).  And the list goes on.  In this post, BBRT would like to look at MLB players who also played another sport at the highest professional level.  Here are BBRT’s favorites in this category:

  1. Deion Sanders (MLB/NFL)

sandersWith his nine-year MLB career and 14-year NFL career (all between 1989-2005), Sanders tops this list on the basis of some unique accomplishments:

– Only person to play in the Super Bowl (for the victorious San Francisco 49ers, 1995, and the winning Dallas Cowboys, 1996) and the World Series (for the losing Atlanta Braves, 1992);

– Only person to hit a major league home run and score an NFL touchdown in the same week;

– Only person to suit up for an MLB and NFL game on the same day. On October 11, 1992, Sanders played for the Atlanta Falcons in an NFL day game against the Miami Dolphins and then flew to Pittsburgh to suit up for the Atlanta Braves’ League Championship Series game against the Pirates that night. (He did not, however, get into the game).

As a MLB player (1989-1995, 1997, 2001) for the New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants, Sanders played in 641 regular season games, compiling a .263 average with 39 Home runs, 168 RBI and 186 stolen bases.  His best year was 1992, when he played in 97 games for the Braves – going .304, with a league-leading 14 triples, along with eight home runs, 28 RBI, 54 runs scored and 26 stolen bases.  He followed that up by hitting .533 (8 for 17), with four runs scored, one RBI and five stolen bases in the World Series.

During his NFL career, Sanders earned his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame  – intercepting  53 passes, returning nine for touchdowns;  returning 155 kickoffs for 3,523 yards and three TDs; returning 212 punts for 2,199 yards and six TDs; catching 60 passes for 784 yards and three TDs; and recovering four fumbles (one for a TD). He was an eight-time Pro-Bowler and the NFL’s 1994 Defensive Player of the Year. Sanders squeaks into the top spot on the list by virtue of his Football Hall of Fame selection.

Deon Sanders Trivia:  Sanders, a Florida State University alum, is credited with bringing the “Tomahawk Chop” to the Braves’ fans.

  1. Gene Conley (MLB/NBA)

conleygeneThe 6’ 8” right-handed pitcher excelled at baseball and basketball and holds the distinction of being the only person to play on an NBA Championship squad (Boston Celtics in 1959, 60 & 61) and a World Series Champion (Milwaukee Braves, 1957).

His MLB career spanned 11 seasons:  Boston Braves (1952); Milwaukee Braves (1954-58); Philadelphia Phillies (1959-60); Boston Red Sox (1961-63). Conley pitched in 276 games (214 starts), winning 91 and losing 96 with an ERA of 3.82.  He was a three-time All Star and the winning pitcher in the 1955 All Star Game.  His best year was 1954 when he went 14-9 with a 2.96 ERA.  He pitched in just one game in the 1957 World Series, giving up 2 runs in 1.2 innings of relief (the starts for Milwaukee went to Warren Spahn, Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl).

Conley’s NBA career was as strong as his MLB run.   At forward and center  –  playing for the Boston Celtics (1952-61) and New York Knicks (1962-64) – he came off the bench to score 2,069 points, grab 2,212 rebounds and dish out 201 assists.  He averaged 16.5 minutes, 5.9 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.  In 33 playoff games, he averaged 14.6 minutes, 6.7 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Gene Conley Trivia:  Conley is the only athlete to play for the Boston Braves, Celtics and Red Sox.

  1. Bo Jackson (MLB/NFL)

boBo Jackson (6’1”, 227 lbs.) had an eight-season career as an MLB outfielder:  Kansas City Royals (1986-90); Chicago White Sox (1991, 1993); California Angels (1994), He also was a running back for the Los Angeles Raiders for four seasons (1987-90).  In 1989, he was selected as a MLB All Star (and MVP of the 1989 All Star Game) and as an NFL Pro-Bowler.

His best year in MLB was 1989, when he hit .256, with 32 home runs, 105 RBI and 26 stolen bases for the Kansas City Royals.  That same year, he notched 950 yards rushing (5.5 yards per carry) and four rushing touchdowns for the Raiders.  That season he also caught nine passes for 69 yards.

In his MLB career, Jackson played in 694 games, hitting .250 with 141 home runs, 415 RBI and 82 stolen bases.

In his four seasons in the NFL, Jackson rushed for 2,782 yards (5.4 years per carry) and 16 touchdowns.  He also caught 40 passes for 352 yards and two touchdowns.  Plenty of fans would place Jackson at number one on this list (and I’d have little arguement with that ).

  1. Brian Jordan (MLB/NFL)

brianJordan patrolled considerable territory in his 15 seasons as an MLB outfielder (1992-2006) and three seasons as an NFL safety.  Jordan’s baseball career included time with the St. Louis Cardinals (1992-98); Atlanta Braves (1999-2001, 2005-06); LA Dodgers (2002-03); and Texas Rangers (2004).  He played in 1,456 games, hitting .282 with 184 home runs and 821 RBI.  He was an All Star in 1999, when he hit .282, with 23 home runs, 115 RBI and 13 stolen bases.

His brief NFL career, all with the Atlanta Falcons, included five interceptions and four quarterback sacks in 36 games.




  1. Kevin “Chuck” Connors (MLB/NBA/Hollywood)

chuckSix-foot-five with athletic skills and rugged good looks, Connors played for MLB’s Brooklyn Dodgers and Chicago Cubs and the NBA’s Boston Celtics (and was also drafted by the NFL Chicago Bears) before going on to play before even larger audiences as the star of the hit television series “The Rifleman.”   He makes this list more on the basis of his acting career, which also included appearances in more than 40  movies, including a starring role in the now classic “Old Yeller,” and guest appearances on dozens of television shows.

His MLB career included one at bat with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1949 and 66 games as a first baseman/pinch hitter for the Chicago Cubs in 1951.  He chalked up a .239 career average with two home runs and 18 RBIs.  In 1946-48, Connors played forward for the Boston Celtics, averaging 4.5 points per game in 53 games played.


Chuck Connors Trivia:  Connors is credited with shattering the first professional backboard ever, during a November 1946 Celtics’ pregame warm-up.


Here are some others who reached the highest level in baseball and at least one other sport. This list is not all inclusive (there have been more than five dozen players to appear in both an MLB and NFL uniform alone). No judgments here – alphabetical order:

Danny Ainge (NBA/MLB)

Ainge broke into the major leagues at age 20 (in 1979) with the Toronto Blue Jays.  He played just three seasons in the majors – 211 games, with a .220 average, two home runs and 37 RBI.  Primarily a second baseman, Ainge also saw time at third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions.  Notably, Ainge’s MLB career overlapped his college basketball career – Brigham University, 1977-81 – where he ran up average of 20.9 points, 4.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game and was the 1981 Collegiate Basketball Player of the Year.

Ainge’s NBA career began at age 22 and stretched over 14 seasons (1981-95) with the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trailblazer and Phoenix Suns.  The 6’ 4”, 175-pound guard totaled 11,964 points, 1,133 steals, 4,199 assists, 2,769 rebounds.    Ainge played in 193 NBA playoff games, averaging 26.1 minutes, 9.9 points, 3.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds.  He was a member of the Celtics 1984 and 1986 NBA Championship teams and a 1988 NBA All Star.

Danny Ainge Trivia:  Ainge is the only athlete selected as a first team High School All-American in baseball, basketball and football.

Frank Baumholtz (MLB/BAA)

Frank Baumholtz enjoyed a ten-season MLB career (1947-49, 1951-57) as an outfielder with the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.  He played in 1,019 games, finishing with a .290 average, 25 home runs, 272 RBI, 450 runs scored and 20 stolen bases.  His best season was his 1947 rookie year, when he played in 151 games, led the league with 711 plate appearances and hit .289 with five home runs, 45 RBI and 96 runs scored.

Baumholtz played one season of professional basketball (1946-47), as a guard for the Cleveland Rebels of the Basketball Association of America, forerunner of the NBA. He appeared in 45 games, averaging 14.0 points per game.

Dave DeBusschere (NBA/MLB)

The best basketball player to ever play major league baseball,  DeBusschere played 12 seasons in the NBA (1962-74, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks), was an eight-time NBA All Star, six-time NBA All-Defensive Player and played on the Knicks’ 1970 and 1973 NBA Championship teams.  DeBusschere is a member of the National Basketball Hall of Fame.  Over his career (875 games), the 6’6” forward/guard averaged 35.7 minutes, 16.1 points, 2.9 assists and 11 rebounds per game.

DeBusschere’s MLB career was considerably shorter than his basketball tenure.  He joined the Chicago White Sox at age 22 in 1962 and pitched in the 1962 and 1963 seasons, logging 36 appearances (10 starts), a 3-4 record and a 2.90 ERA. His brief major league career did include one complete-game shutout.

Dave DeBusschere Trivia:  In the 1964-1965 season, DeBusschere, just 24-years-old, was appointed player-coach of the Detroit Pistons.  From 1964-67, he coached the Pistons to a 79-143 record before going back to a player-only position.  He remains the youngest coach in NBA history.

Sammy Byrd (PGA/MLB)

Sammy Byrd had an eight-season MLB career (1929-34, Yankees and 1935-36 Reds), during which the outfielder hit .274 with 38 home runs and 220 RBI in 745 games. After leaving baseball, at the age of 29, to pursue a professional golf career, Byrd won six events on the PGA tour between 1942 and 1946.

Sammy Byrd Trivia:   Sammy Byrd is the only person to play in both MLB’s World Series and the PGA Masters Tournament.

Dick Groat (MLB/NBA)

Groat had a 14-career as an MLB shortstop (1952, 1955-67) with the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants.  He was a five-time All Star and won the 1960 NL Most Valuable Player Award, while helping the Pirates earn the NL Crown (and win the World Series).  That season, he led the NL in batting at .325.  Groat was a career .286 hitter, with 2,138 hits, 39 home runs and 707 RBI.   He was on two World Series winners:  the 1960 Pirates and the 1964 Cardinals.

Groat also played one season (1952-53) for the NBA’s Fort Wayne Pistons, averaging 25.5 minutes, 11.9 points, 2.7 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Dick Groat Trivia:  While at Duke University, Groat was a two-time All American in both baseball and basketball.  He was the first person selected to both the College Baseball and Basketball Halls of Fame.


George Halas (NFL/MLB)

While Football Hall of Famer George Halas may have been “Mr. Everything” in professional football for some six decades – player, coach, owner, promoter, innovator and pioneer – his MLB career was shorter and less noteworthy.  Halas played in 12 games (22 at bats, .091 average) as an outfielder for the 1919 Yankees.

During his a pro-football playing career (1919-1928), Halas played defensive end and wide receiver for the Hammond All Stars, Decator/Chicago Staleys and Chicago Bears.  A Bears’ owner from 1920 until his death in 1983, Halas coached the Chicago Bears (and their predecessor Staleys) for 40 seasons (1920-29, 1933-42, 1946-55. 1958-67).  Under his leadership, the Bears won nine Divisional titles, six NFL Championships and only six times finished with a losing record.

George Halas Trivia: Halas is credited with developing football’s  T-formation.

Steve Hamilton (MLB/NBA)

The 6’6” left-handed reliever enjoyed a 12-year (1961-72) career with the Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, New York Giants and Chicago Cubs – going 40-31 with 42 saves and a career ERA of 3.05.

Hamilton also played two seasons as a forward for the NBA Minneapolis Lakers (1958-60) – averaging 13.3 minutes, 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 82 games.

Carroll Hardy (MLB/NFL)

Hardy was a multi-sport talent for the University of Colorado in the early 1950s, lettering in football, baseball and track – earning All-Conference honors in football and baseball.  Immediately out of college, Hardy signed on as a receiver with the NFL San Francisco 49ers.  In 1955, he caught 12 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns, and returned three punts for  65 yards.  Hardy then chose to concentrate on baseball and played eight seasons (1957-64, 1967) as a major league outfielder, getting into 433 games for the Indians, Red Sox, Astros and Twins.  His career average was .225, with 17 home runs and 113 RBI.

Carroll Hardy Trivia:  Hardy is the only player to pinch hit for Ted William, as well as the only player to pinch hit for Williams’ replacement, Carl Yastzremski.  He also hit his first MLB home run while pinch hitting for Roger Maris.

Mark Hendrickson  (MLB/NBA)

Hendrickson, a 6’9” left-handed hurler, recorded 10 MLB seasons (328 appearances, 166 starts) with a 58-74 record and a 5.03 ERA.  Between, 2002-2011, he pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers and Baltimore Orioles.  His best MLB season was 2009, when he went 6-5 with a 4.37 ERA for the Orioles.

Hendrickson also played four seasons (1996-2000) as a power forward in the NBA for the Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings, New Jersey Nets and Cleveland Cavaliers.  In 114 games, he averaged 13.2 minutes, 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

Drew Henson (MLB/NFL)

The 6’5″, 225-pounder played quarterback for the Lions (2008), Cowboys (2004-05) and Vikings (2006).  He also appeared in eight games for the 2002-03 Yankees, going one-for-nine.  His NFL career consisted of just nine games played, and he completed a total of 11 of 20 passes with one TD and one interception.  Despite these less than sterling numbers, he can lay claim to reaching the highest professional level in two sports – and to throwing and NFL Touchdown and collecting an MLB base hit.

Vic Janowicz (MLB/NFL)

Janciwicz got in 22 games as a halfback for the Washington Redskins (1954-55), gaining 410 yards on 99 carries with four touchdowns.  He also played 83 games at catcher and third base for the Pittsburgh Pirates over the 1953 and 1954 seasons – hitting .214 with two home runs and ten RBI.

Cotton Nash (MLB/NBA)

Nash had brief careers at the top level of pro basketball (NBA/ABA) and baseball (Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins).   In baseball, the OF/1B got in 13 games (White Sox, 1967 and Twins, 1969-70) with a .188 average and two RBI in 16 at bats.  In basketball, the 6’5”, 215-pound Nash played forward for the LA Lakers and San Francisco Warriors  of the NBA and the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA between 1964-68.  He averaged 13.6 minutes, 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in 84 games.

Ernie Nevers (NFL/MLB)

Ernie Nevers is a member of both the College and Pro Football Hall of Fame. As a pro, he played for the NFL’s Duluth Eskimos and Chicago Cardinals for five seasons between 1926 and 1931 – earning All-NFL recognition at running back in each of those campaigns. Nevers also pitched for three seasons  (1926-28) for the AL Saint Louis Browns, going 6-12, with a 4.44 ERA in 44 games (12 starts).

Ernie Nevers Trivia:  On November 28, 1929, Chicago Cardinals’ fullback Ernie Nevers scored six touchdowns and kicked four extra points, accounting for all the Cardinals’ scoring in a 40-6   victory over the Chicago Bears.  The forty points scored in a single game is still the individual NFL record.

Clarence “Ace” Parker (MLB/NFL)

Clarence Parker got his MLB career off with a bang, homering in his first at bat for the 1937 Philadelphia Athletics.  It was downhill from there, as Parker played in just 94 games in 1937 and 1938 (SS-3B-OF) hitting .179 with two home runs and 25 RBI.

Parker proved more adept at football, making the Hall of Fame as a multiple threat player.  Playing from 1937 to 1946 for Brooklyn, Boston and New York (and winning the NFL MVP Award in 1940), he completed 335 of 718 passing attempts for 30 touchdowns, rushed 498 times for 1,292 yards and 13 TDs, had eight pass receptions for 229 yards and three TDs, returned 24 punts for 238 yards and one TD, returned five kickoffs for 98 yards, made 25 of 30 point-after-touchdown kicks (but only 1 of 5 field goal attempts) and punted 150 times for a 38.4 yard average.

Ron Reed (MLB/NBA)

The 6’6”, 217-pound, right-handed pitcher enjoyed a 19-year career as an MLB starter and reliever (Atlanta Braves, 1966-75; St. Louis Cardinals, 1975; Philadelphia Phillies, 1976-83; and Chicago White Sox, 1984).  Reed’s MLB career record was 146-140, 103 saves, a 3.46 ERA and 1,481 strikeouts in 2,477 2/3 innings pitched.  His best season was 1969, when he went 18-10, 3.47 in 33 starts for the Braves.

Reed also played forward for two seasons for the NBA Detroit Pistons (1965-66, 1966-67), averaging 18.9 minutes, 8.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Dick Ricketts (MLB/NBA)

Ricketts, a 6’7”, 216-pound right hander, had just one MLB season, going 1-6 with a 5.82 ERA for the 1959 Saint Louis Cardinals.  He played  in the NBA from 1955-59, scoring 1,974 points and grabbing 1,337 rebounds – for a per game average of 26.8 minutes, 12.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists.

Howie Schultz (MLB/NBA)

Schultz played major league baseball for six seasons (1943-48), spending time at first base with the Brooklyn Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds.  He played 470 games, hitting .241, with 24 home runs and 208 RBI.

In 1949, the 6’6” Schultz switched to basketball, beginning a three-year stint as an NBA center/forward.  He played for the NBA’s Anderson Packers, Fort Wayne Pistons and Minneapolis Lakers, averaging 5.3 points per game.

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

Making Contact – 115 Consecutive Games Without Striking Out

Old dirty baseball photo

Photo by kelly.sikkema

On this date in 1929, Cleveland Indians’ SS Joe Sewell notched his 115th consecutive game without striking out  (the MLB modern record) – a streak that went from May 19-September 19 (the following day, Sewell notched his third strikeout of the season.)  During his 115-game streak, Sewell racked up 436 at bats and 143 hits (.328), with 27 doubles, two triples, seven HR and 56 RBI.   On the season, Sewell fanned just four times in 578 at bats – and it wasn’t even his best campaign in terms of at bats/per whiff.   That would be 1932, when Sewell struck out just three times in 503 at bats – or once each 167.7 at bats (the post-1900 MLB record). For his career, Sewell fanned 114 times in 7,132 at bats – or once each 62.6 at bats. That, by the way, puts Sewell second on the career list (among players who played after 1900) to Wee Willie Keeler who fanned just once every 63.2 at bats in 19 MLB seasons )1892-1910).

Through September 18, 69 players have struck out more times in this season than Joe Sewell did in his entire 14-season career. 

By the way, if you are looking for the leader among active players – at the top of the list would be Nationals’ outfielder Ben Revere with 10.11 at bats per strikeout (as of September 18, 2016) – the only active player with more than ten at bats per whiff.

Active Players with the Most At Bats Per Strikeout (as of September 18, 2016)

          Ben Revere … 10.11

         Yadier Molina … 9.59

          Ichiro Suzuki … 9.36

          Dustin Pedroia … 9.26

         Casey Kotchman … 9.08

Note: Pre-1900 at bat/per strikeout ratios are off the charts. In 1871, for example, catcher Mike McGeary of the National Association’s Troy Haymakers went an entire season (just 148 at bats, however) without a whiff.  Later, in 1875, McGeary (with the NA’s Philadelphia Whites) had a season in which he fanned just once in 310 at bats.  If you look only at the NL and AL, Wee Willie Keeler holds the record with just two strikeouts in 570 at bats (one K per 285 at bats) for Brooklyn’s 1899 NL squad – a year in which he hit .379, with one home run and 61 RBI.


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


George Sisler – a Gentleman and a Scholar – a Hurler and a Hitter

George sisler photo

George Sislet – College All American Photo by The Library of Congress

On this date a century ago, future Hall of Famer George Sisler pitched the greatest game of his career. On September 17, 1916, The Saint Louis Browns’  5’ 11” southpaw (with an 0-1 record on the season) was matched up against the already legendary Walter Johnson, who was 25-17 for the Senators; closing out his seventh consecutive season of 25 or more wins. (Johnson would end his career with a 417-279 record, a 2.17 career ERA and an MLB-record 110 complete game shutouts.)

On that particular day, however, Sisler got the better of Walter ”Big Train” Johnson – pitching a six-hit (two walks versus six strikeouts), complete-game shutout, as the Browns prevailed 1-0.  The game was significant for a handful of reasons:  1) It was Sisler’s only complete-game shutout;  2) It was Sislet’s last ever major-league pitching victory (He finished his career 5-6, three saves, 2.35 ERA in 12 starts and a total of 24 appearances); 3) It was Sisler’s second victory over Johnson; he had topped the Big Train 2-1 as a rookie the previous season; 4) Sisler was batting third in the order; 5) Despite his losing career record on the mound, Sisler would earn his way into the Baseball Hall of Fame (after amassing 2,812 hits and a .340 batting average over 15 seasons).

At any rate, Sisler’s pitching performance of a century ago (he went zero-for-four at the plate), led BBRT to take a look at his remarkable career.

Sisler was a gifted athlete and, at least for his times, a scholar among baseball players.  He was an exceptional student in high school, as well as an end on the football team, a forward on the basketball team and a pitcher on the baseball squad. He attended the University of Michigan and earned not only three letters in baseball (1913-14-15) and two-time All-American recognition, but also a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Sisler, who primarily pitched and played outfield for Michigan (where he was not only a quality pitcher, but a fleet defender and solid hitter – batting over .400 for his college career), joined the St. Louis Browns as a pitcher in 1915, going 4-4, 2.83 in 15 games; tossing six complete games in eight starts.  The Browns also appreciated Sisler’s bat and athletic defense, and he saw considerable time at first base and in the outfield. He hit  .285-3-29, with ten stolen bases in 81 games. And, the best was yet to come. Sisler, switching primarily to first base in 1916, went on to play 14 more seasons – earning praise for hit bat and his glove.  In that time, he won two batting titles (.407 in 1920 and .420 in 1922). He also led the league in stolen bases four times (a high of 51 in 1922); triples twice; runs scored once; and base hits twice.  (In fact, his 257 hits in 1920 stood as the MLB record until Ichiro Suzuki collected 262 safeties in 2004.)  Sisler was also the American League MVP in 1922.  Despite this stardom, Sisler was known as a modest individual and true gentleman on an off the field.

His final career stat line was .340-102-1,178, with 2,812 hits, 1,284 runs scored, 425 doubles, 164 triples and 375 stolen bases. AND, it might have been even better. Sisler missed the entire 1923 season with a severe sinus infection that resulted in chronic headaches and vision problems. Although he returned to action in 1924, his batting eye was never quite the same. (He went from his .420 average in 1922 to .305 in 1924; and hit .361 before the infection and .320 after).  He still, however, managed to hit over .300 in all but one of his remaining seven seasons.

“Gentleman George” Sisler was truly one of the greats to play the game.

For those who track such things: Sisler also had two sons who played in the major leagues: Dave Sisler (RHP, 1956-62, Red Sox/Tigers/Senators/Reds) and Dick Sisler (1B/OF, 1946-53, Cardinals/Phillies/Reds).

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

Photo by The Library of Congress

Is There a Bad Day to Toss a Complete-Game One-Hitter?

Photo by cliff1066™

Sandy Koufax spoiled Bob Hendley’s day. Photo by cliff1066™

Is there a bad day to throw a complete-game one-hitter? Right-hander Bob Hendley – who went 48-52, 3.97 in a seven-year MLB career (Braves, Giants, Cubs, Mets) – might say that day came exactly 51 years ago (September 9, 1965). On that date,  Hendleyand his eighth-place Cubs faced off against the second-place (and eventual 1965 World Series winners) Los Angeles Dodgers and their “ace” Sandy Koufax in LA.

Hendley was on top his game that day. After eight innings, he had given up just one hit and one walk (versus three strikeouts). The only hit had been a harmless double by Dodgers’ LF Lou Johnson in the bottom of the seventh. Hendley had allowed just one run (unearned) in eight frames – and even that wasn’t his fault.  The pesky Johnson had led off the fifth with a walk; moved to second  on a sacrifice by RF Ron Fairly; stole third; and then scored as Cubs’ catcher Chris Krug made a wild throw past third baseman Ron Santo. Talk about small ball!

Unfortunately, it wasn’t nearly enough. Koufax, who came into the game already a 20-game winner (21-7), threw a perfect game – striking out 14 Cubs.  It was the last of Koufax’ four career no-hitters (one each in 1962-63-64-65) and his only perfect game.  For Hendley, it was a well-pitched loss and a piece of the record for playing/pitching in the MLB game with the fewest combined hits.

Hendley could take some solace in the fact that his may not be the best-ever unrewarded mound effort. Back on May 2, 1917, another Cubs’ pitcher – Hippo Vaughn – found himself in a true pitchers’ duel (in Chicago) against the Reds’ Fred Toney. Vaughn was 3-1 on the season at the time, while Toney was 4-1. After nine innings, the game was scoreless and NEITHER pitcher had given up a hit.

Hippo Vaughn photo

Hippo Vaughn – one tough loss. Photo by The Library of Congress

Looking at total offense over the first nine innings, Vaughn had given up two walks and one Reds’ hitter reached on an error.  Those three runners were retired on an attempted steal and a pair of double plays, so Vaughn had actually faced the minimum 27 batters through nine, striking out ten. Toney was not as overpowering, but just as effective. The Reds’ starter has also given up just a pair of walks, but had fanned just one.

So, going into the tenth, Vaughn and Toney were matched up in the first (still only) double nine-inning no-hitter in MLB history. In the top of the tenth, however, Vaughn gave up a leadoff single to Reds’ SS Larry Kopf; CF Greasy Neale (gotta love a game where a guy named Hippo Vaughn pitches to a guy name Greasy Neale) followed with a fly out to Cubs CF Cy Williams; then 1B Hal Chase tested William again – and reached base as William dropped Chases’ liner.  Now the Reds had runners at second and third with one out.  Speedy RF Jim Thorpe was the hitter and he hit a high hopped for an infield hit (scoring what would be the only run of the game).   Toney, who had fanned only one Cub over the first nine, was energized after getting the lead – completing his no-hitter with a 1-2-3 tenth, striking out two more Chicago batter.  Tough loss for Vaughn, after nine innings of no-hit, no-run ball.

For those who track such things: Toney finished the 1917 season 24-16, 2.20 – and his 12-season MLB career at 139-102, 2.69. Vaughn went 23-13, 2.01 in 1917 and 178-137, 2.49 in 13 MLB seasons (including five campaigns of 20 or more wins).

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

Ray Caldwell – An Electrifying (or denying) Hurler

CaldwellWe’ve all seen baseball fans reward a player (with a loud round of applause) for getting up, dusting himself off and trotting to first base after getting hit by a pitch.

But how about a player who get up, dusts himself off and continues to play – after getting leveled buy a lightning bolt.  It happened on this day (August 24) back in 1919, when hard-nosed, hard-living, Cleveland Indians’ hurler Ray Caldwell was knocked out by a lightning strike – only to get to his feet, “shake it off” amd complete the game. Note:  BBRT commented on Caldwell’s feat in a 2013 post, but a lot of readers have been added since them, and I think Caldwell deserves another shout out for his grit (and I’ll add a few details on his career.)

“Pitcher Ray Caldwell, who recently joined the Cleveland team, making his first appearance here was knocked down, but soon recovered and remained pitching.”

New York Tribune

August 25, 1919



Bain News Service photo.

As a ballplayer, Ray Caldwell was known as someone who played hard – on and off the field.  The 6’2”, 190-pound, right-hander was thought by many to be a potential team “ace” on the mound.  However, his career was derailed by ongoing arm troubles and a penchant for “living large.”  His days in MLB were marked with multiple fines and suspensions related to alcohol and absenteeism.  As New York Yankees’ manager Miller Huggins described it, “Caldwell was one of the best pitchers that ever lived, but he was one of the characters that kept a manager in constant worry.”   Reflecting on Caldwell’s career, sportswriter Fred Lieb (credited with labeling Yankee Stadium “The House that Ruth Built” wrote (April 27, 1933, The Sporting News), “He was one of the playboys of his time. Caldwell loved baseball, but he loved the high lights better.”

Caldwell, like most pitchers of his day (his MLB career lasted from 1910 though 1921), like to finish what he started.  He, in fact, finished more than 70 percent of his starts (184 complete games in 259 starts).  Not only was it difficult for opposing hitters to drive him from the mound, even Mother Nature couldn’t get the best of him.

On August 24, 1919, Caldwell made his initial appearance for the Cleveland Indians (after being released by the Red Sox, with a 7-4 record and 3.94 ERA).  Cleveland manager Tris Speaker, in a tight pennant race with the White Sox, thought he could handle the problematic Caldwell, and it turned out he was right – Caldwell went 5-1, 1.71 in six starts down the stretch, including a September 10 no-hitter against the Yankees.  (He also hit .348, 8-for-23, with four doubles in his six starts for Cleveland.)  But let’s get back to that August 24 game.

Caldwell started his first game in Cleveland – against the lowly Philadelphia Athletics – and, despite threatening weather, was cruising along with a four-hitter and a 2-1 lead.  With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Caldwell faced not only the A’s number-five hitter (shortstop Jumpin’ Joe Dugan), but also dark skies, rumbling thunder, occasional lightening and intermittent rain.  As witnesses reported, with Dugan at the plate, a lightning bolt blazed from the sky, hit near the press box, traveled down the ball park railings, exited and crossed the infield, dropping Caldwell (some said that it hit him in the top of the cap) as though he had been struck by a line drive.

The fans gasped, some even screamed, and the umpires rushed to the mound, where Caldwell lay face up, arms outstretched. Caldwell slowly sat up, then got to his feet and shook his head to clear the cobwebs. – refusing suggestion that he leave the mound.   Instead, he demanded the ball and retired Dugan on a grounder to third base on the very next pitch.

As noted, Caldwell finished 1919 strong for Cleveland and, in 1920, his 20-10, 3.86 season helped Cleveland capture the AL pennant.  By 1922, at the age of 33, however, Caldwell’s history of arm and disciplinary problems had brought his major league career to an end.  He kept playing, however, logging a dozen  more minor league seasons – and despite two twenty-win minor league campaigns, never again toed a major league pitching rubber.

Ray Caldwell – Some Highlights

In addition, to bouncing back to complete a game after being hit by lightning, Ray Caldwell had some other electrify career moments:

– On June 10 and 11, 1915, Caldwell was used in consecutive games as a pinch hitter for the New York Yankees.  He delivered consecutive home runs – a solo homer and a three-run shot. (This was in a year when the AL leader stroked only seven long balls.)

–  On June 23, 1917, Caldwell started both ends of a Yankees/Athletics doubleheader – winning both games.  He pitched six scoreless innings in Game One (leaving with a 9-0 lead in an eventual 10-4 Yankees’ win); then he threw a complete game six-hitter in Game Two (as the Yankees won 2-1). A good day at the office, for sure.

– In 1915, Calwell started 36 games and completed 31.

– He was a 20 game winner (20-10, 3.86) for the Indians in 1920.

– In 1914, he won 18 games for the Yankees and posted a 1.94 ERA (fourth best in the league).

– In 1915 he finished fifth in the AL in pitching victories (19), and fourth in home runs HIT (4).

– His career batting average was .248 and in 1918 and 1919, respectively, he hit ..291 and .296. 

Caldwell’s final MLB stats (Yankees, Red Sox, Indians)  included a 134-120 record and a 3.22 ERA.  In addition to his 20-win season with the Indians, he went 18-4, 1.94 for the 1914 Yankees and 19-16, 2.89 for the 1915 New York AL club.  A versatile athlete, Caldwell was also often used in the outfield, first base or as a pinch hitter. In 1918, he pitched in 24 games (21 starts) for the Yankees and also hit .291 in 169 at bats – playing in 65 games and taking the field at first base and in all three outfield positions (most often center field).  In 1915, his four home runs were ninth in the AL (Braggo Roth led the league with 7), despite Caldwell having 200 at bats fewer than anyone else in the top ten.  (League leader Roth hit his seven homers in 384 at bats; Caldwell hit his four homers in 155 at bats. )

Ray “Slim” Caldwell – not even a lightening bolt could drive him from the mound.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Ballpark Tours 2016 – Day Ten – Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa.

Principal Park - Des Moines - home of the Iowa Cubs.

Principal Park – Des Moines – home of the Iowa Cubs.

Ten days of care-free baseball travel are coming to an end.   For the past week-and-a-half, our band of 32 has gotten up each morning facing only three important questions:  1) Do I have a bus to catch?  2) Who is playing today?  3) What t-shirt and/or hat should I wear?

On the final day of our trip, we left Kansas City at 8:30 a.m. – after enjoying the Country Club Plaza’s breakfast buffet – headed for Des Moines and the 1:08 p.m. Iowa Cubs/Memphis Redbirds tilt.

BLEACHER BUMS XXXIV – What we did, as a group and on our own.

 – Our trip took approximately 230 hours and covered 2,500 miles.

– We saw nine baseball games (one rainout) in seven cities in four states in ten days.

– We tok in Independent-ball, A, AA, AAA and major league

– We visited barbeque joints, breweries, Irish pubs, blues bars and honky tonks.

– We enjoyed the Negro Leagues Museum, Graceland, the National Civil Rights Museum and more.

– In addition to our Sugar Loaf coach, members of our group traveled via horse-drawn carriage, hotel shuttles, Uber and taxi.

– We ate, drank, shopped and celebrated on/in Beale Street, Printers Alley, Westport, 18th & Vine and the Honky Tonk Highway.

– In the ball parks, we enjoyed fireworks, Elvis Night and zombies – and even a spirited game of Jenga.

– Our ball park food ranged from hot dogs and brats to Fried Moon Pies and “The Bacon Explosion.”

– We set up on-board Bloody Mary and Mimosa stations.

– While traveling our “baseball highway,” we shared Chex Mix, Chicago Mix, cookies, candy, chips, cheese and crackers – and lots of baseball stories.

– “In port,” we ate everything from Crawfish Etouffee to barbeque to oven-fired pizza.

– Meals in our on-the-road lunch stops covered everything from meatball sandwiches to Maid Rites (and more, even Chinese at one stop).

– We guessed how many runs would be scored, answered a baseball trivia quiz and played the cup game.

– We purchased nearly every souvenir imaginable … lapel pins, jerseys, hats, bats.  You name it, we bought it, and now we have to store it.

– We even took part in a baseball book exchange.

– We renewed old friendships and forged new ones.

– We had FUN, FUN, FUN!

10 maid

The stop at Maid Rite proved popular for several membes of our touring group.

Our Sunday morning bus ride included a rest stop at an Amish store that included a Maid Rite restaurant.  For those of you unfamiliar with Maid Rites (called by some loose-meat sandwiches), they are basically seasoned, crumbled hamburger on a bun –  delicious and increasingly difficult to find.  (Unless you are on a Ballpark Tours bus.)  Even though I had enjoyed a multi-plated breakfast buffet, I couldn’t resist a junior Maid Rite.

We arrived at Principal Park in Des Moines about 45 minutes prior to game time.  The park is located at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon Rivers – and you get a great view of downtown and the gold-domed state capitol building beyond the outfield fences.



Just your average Bloody Mary.

Just your average Bloody Mary.

On entering the park, I was pleased to find a bar serving Bloody Mary’s right near the gates.  Check one item off the BBRT list.  The Bloody Mary was $8.00 – and just average.  A good, pre-made Bloody Mary mix, but no added condiments or spices.

We had great seats – between home plate and third base.  All the seats in the park – which holds 11,500 – appear to be close to the action. The weather, by the way, was as good as the seats – mid-70’s, sunny with a light breeze, perfect for the last game of our tour.

The scorecard ($1) was one of the best on the trip.  It included a handout that provided: team rosters and numbers; the day’s starting lineups; full stats on each player; current PCL standings; the upcoming schedule; and “News and Notes.”  Kudos to the Iowa Cubs.

The "Out of Towners" were taking on the "Local Boys."

The “Out of Towners” were taking on the “Local Boys.”

A bit more about the ball park before I get into the game itself.   The scoreboard is a unique blend of old and new.  It has a large, clear video screen that provides plenty of information on each hitter (including their Twitter addresses), as well as replays of key plays.  Beneath that is a set of center field bleachers and an old-school, inning-by-inning line score (you know, the kind where you post the runs, hits and errors by hand) that labels the two teams ”OUT OF TOWNERS” and “LOCAL BOYS.”

Principles on Display at Principle Park

Some of our group thought the park should be named Principle Park, since the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is proudly displayed as you enter the ballpark.  The sign, I learned, was the idea of the team’s majority owner Michael Gartner – a former journalist.  

A brader park sandiwch the size of a catcher's mitt.

A breader pork tenderloin  sandiwch the size of a catcher’s mitt, served on a bed of fries for $11.

The concessions earned approval from our group as a whole – in particular the juicy Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich, the massive Pork Tenderloin Basket and the Bacon Explosion (summer sausage stuffed AND wrapped with bacon).  The walk-in beer cooler – fans can walk into the cooler and select their cold brew – is thought to be the only one of its kind at a ball park.

So, how about the game?

It was a close contest (2-1 after seven innings), eventually won by the Memphis Redbirds 4-1.  The Redbirds got to Cubs’ starter Jake Buchanan early, scoring twice on a single and two doubles in the first inning. He then settled down and held Memphis scoreless until giving up an unearned run in the seventh.

Mike Mayers, who started for the Redbirds, went a solid five innings – giving up just six hits and one earned run, while walking one and fanning eight. (In his last three starts, Mayers has walked just one and fanned 21 in 17 innings). Overall, the game featured 18 strikeouts – eleven by four Redbirds’ pitchers and seven by three Cubs’ hurlers.

If I had to name offensive stars for the game – offense was pretty light – they would be the Redbirds’ SS/leadoff hitter Breyvic Valera and Cubs’ 3B/cleanup hitter Jeimer Candelario.  Valera had three hits (all singles) and an RBI. It was his seventh three-hit game of the season and he ended the contest hitting .363.  Candelario had two of the Cubs’ seven hits (all the Cubs’ hits were singles), giving him a nine-game hitting streak and a streak of 28 consecutive games reaching base.

We did see a nifty 6-4-3 double play, a couple of running catches in the outfield, a leaping catch at the  centerfield wall, a nifty bunt single and a single on a lazy fly lost in the sun (We all thought it should have been scored an error).

Let the Pitchers Hit

As regular BBRT readers know, I am not a fan of the Designated Hitter.  Well, in the Iowa/Memphis game, the pitchers came to the plate.  The rules dictate that if either team is affiliated with an American League team, the DH is used.  However, if neither team is affiliated with an AL squad, the pitchers hit.  Memphis and Iowa are Cardinals’ and Cubs’ affiliates, so we got to see the pitchers take a few swings. Overall, the hurlers went two-for-five and – as you will read in the Cup Game aside – that worked out pretty well for me.

All in all, a well-played game – although fielders did have trouble with the high sky and there were some adventurous plays on fly balls and pop-ups.

The Cup Game and an Unlikely Win

Every so often, our touring group likes to add a little excitement to the contest with “The Cup Game.”  It goes like this – a cup is passed, in a specific order, among the participants (we had nine this time) – changing hands with each new batter.  If the hitter at the plate does not get a hit or a walk, you put in a quarter and pass the cup to the next participant. If your batter walks, you pass the cup, but put in no money.  If your batter gets a hit, you get the contents of the cup, and then pass it on.  If your batter hits a home run, you get the contents of the cup and an extra quarter from each participant.  Finally, whoever has the cup when the last out is made, gets its contents.  

For most of the game, I found myself receiving an empty cup and passing on one with my quarter in it. Then in the ninth inning, the cup came into my hands with about $3.50 in it.  Unfortunately, Memphis pitcher Dean Kiekhefer was at the plate. Of course, it would be a pitcher. Well, Kiekhefer hit a slow roller down the third base line (How hard do pitchers usually run on these plays?) – and he hustled down the line to beat it out for an infield hit (and a pocketful of quarters for me). I say again, let the pitchers hit.

I should add that the Iowa Cubs are not long on promotions between innings.  They do fire a lot of t-shirts into the crowd, and there was a costumed hamburger race (featuring youngsters from the crowd who were really competing). Most of the remaining between-inning activities consisted of fans (youngsters) answering questions about agricultural products and production. (This is Iowa after all.) It was actually refreshing not to be bombarded with one between-inning contest after another.

So, there is our trip.  For the reports on Day One, click here. Day Two, here; Day Three, here; Day Four, here;  Day Five, here; Day Six, here; Day Seven, here; Day Eight, here; Day Nine, here.

Alas, when I got up this morning, there was no ball game to get to (but a blog post to write).  Life is so routine.  I think I’ll take in a Saint Paul Saints Game tomorrow.

By the way, Ballpark Tours still has a September Chicago/Milwaukee trip and a December Cuba adventure planned.  Click here to get to their site.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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

Ballpark Tours 2016 – Day Eight – Called Up to the Show

If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it still make a noise?

Why I ask, you ask!  Because Day Eight of Ball Park Tours Bleacher Bums XXXIV was defined as much (or more) by what we didn’t see, than by what we saw.

Let’s start by talking a little baseball – Twins baseball, because we are now in Kansas City, taking in a pair of Royals/Twins tilts. Yes. after just six minor league games, we’ve been called up to “The Show.”

Kauffman Stadium before the monsoon.

Kauffman Stadium before the monsoon.

We arrived, by bus, at Kauffman Stadium under ominous skies and even more ominous weather reports.  Predictions were that a major storm front would roll in about 9:00 p.m. (7:15 game time) with significant rainfall, high winds and plenty of lightening.  We were well-armed for the confrontation, with umbrellas, Ballpark Tours 30th Anniversary windbreakers and ponchos (many bought at the Chattanooga Lookouts game).

The game started on time, with the Twins’ Jose Berrios (2-3, 9.32) facing off against the Royals’ Edison Volquez (9-10, 4.95).   We didn’t expect a pitchers’ duel – and we didn’t get one.

The Royals struck first, in an ugly second inning. Berrios started the frame by fanning Royals’ DH Kendrys Morales.  From that point on, things fell apart. C Salvador Perez singled; LF Alex Gordon walked; SS Alicides Escobar singled in a run; 2B Raul Mondesi walked, loading the bases.  Then Berrios walked CF Jarrod Dyson AND 3b Cheslor Cutberth – forcing in two runs (no more exciting play in baseball than the bases-loaded walk) – before getting RF Lorenzo Cain to end the inning on a 6-4-3 double play. Three runs on two hits and four walks – not a good sign.

The Twins came back on a long home run by 2B Brian Dozier (his 28th) leading off the third.  But, the Royals countered in the fourth, producing a run on a walk (of course) and two singles.

Then in the top of the fifth, with storms threatening (and eventually arriving), the Twins rallied with: a double by CF Eddie Rosario; a run scoring double by C Juan Centeno; a strikeout by LF Danny Santana; a single by Dozier (who then stole second); and a two-run single by SS Jorge Polanco – tying the game at 4-4.  It was at precisely that time, with Joe Mauer coming up, that the skies began to open up, the tarps came out and game went into a rain delay.

That’s what we saw.  Here’s what we didn’t see.

Rainfall fallout in the lobby.

Rainfall fallout in the lobby.

First, having studied, the weather reports, we didn’t wait too long before heading back to the hotel on the bus.  (Our early departure was the rule, rather than the exception, among fans at the game.) From there, some of our  folks headed out on the town, while others watched on smart phones to see if the game would resume – the stakes were high, there had been some friendly wagering on whether we would see any more rainouts (after the Day One washout) on this trip.  The speculation was accompanied by adult beverages in the lobby, where discussions touched on such topics as that night’s game and suspended versus cancelled game rules, Pete Reiser, Kaufmann Stadium concession prices, Mike Trout and the Twins’ pitching staff.

Shortly before midnight, when the lobby was pretty much empty (bar closed at 11:30) – and after a three-hour-plus rain delay – play resumed.  Twins’ 1B Mauer walked to put runners on first and second (remember the Polanco double that tied the game); 3B Plouffe popped up; and RF Max Kepler was called out on strikes to end the fifth inning.  The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the 11th inning, when Kansas City pushed across a run to win it by a 5-4 score – AT APPROXXIMATELY 2:15 a.m.  Yes, we missed an exciting game.  Yes, some of us might (and that’s a big MIGHT) have stayed.  But it takes a village to do a baseball tour – and there are times that community interests must prevail.  Plus, we still have baseball on the slate for Saturday and Sunday.

Now, a brief look at the day (I have to wrap this post up early, a group of us are headed to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum this morning).

Breakfast and a show.

Breakfast and a show.

On Day Eight, we had an early morning departure from the Marion (IL) Holiday Inn Express (8:30 a.m.), so the free buffet breakfast was pretty well attended.  Two highlights from breakfast (which included the usual items like scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, cinnamon rolls, toast, biscuits and gravy, etc.): 1) They had a pancake machine.  (You know, the ones that shoot out pancakes like a copier – or, as I like to say “Breakfast and a show.” 2) One of our tour group walked to a nearby Krispy Kreme and brought back warm donuts. Glazed donuts and coffee, great start to the day.

The trip to Kansas City was about six hours – including a lunch stop – and much of it was spent retelling tales from earlier in the trip (and discussing the scoring possibilities related to the extra inning “gift” runners in the Frontier League).  The lunch break was near a truck plaza, so we had our choices of fast food offerings.  I selected Arby’s and it proved a good decision.  Remember that meatball sandwich I couldn’t get in Marion?  The limited time special at Arby’s was – wait for it – a meatball sandwich.   The baseball gods apparently were smiling down on our maroon coach.

Oh, a little coach story here.  We are traveling on a Sugar Loaf (name of company) coach and some of our participants overhead local residents at one of our stops talking about the bus, speculating that “Sugar Loaf” was a touring country band.  I guess we are traveling in luxury – and we did stop in Nashville. Next gig, Kauffman Stadium.


8singAn additional bit of information on Day Seven – for the full day, click here.  I noted yesterday that the Frontier League has adopted rules that have each team starting any inning after the tenth inning with a runner on second – and wondered about the scoring. After a deeper look, I have found that the “gift” runner is designated on the scorecard as (ITB) – indicating a runner put on via international rules.  I also found that, while the pitcher who allows such a gift runner to score can still take the loss, the ITB runner’s tally is not considered an earned run.

Also, here is a photo of the Ballpark Tours group leading the seventh-inning rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game.  Given that the entire Southern Illinois Minors field is artificial turf (even the “dirt” portions), it might have been more appropriate if we had lip-synched the tune.  

We checked into the Holiday Inn Country Club Plaza in Kansas City at about 4:00 p.m., with the bus slated to head to the ball park at 6:00 for a 7:15 game.  You’ve already read about the game – which is also how we found out about most of it.  So, let’s look at the ballpark.

8 foundtainArriving at Kaufmann Stadium, you first notice the higher level of security (as opposed to all our minor league stops) … bag searches and metal detectors were the order of the day.  Once inside the stadium, which opened in 1973 and underwent significant renovation in the late 2000’s, you notice the steep upper deck, massive “Crown Vision” scoreboard/video board in center field and the right field fountain area.

Our group also noticed the concession prices – reporting paying $11 for a beer and $7 for a bottle of water.  Sticker shock quickly set in (of course, we had just come off the $1 beer, hot dogs and peanuts in Marion). I’ll try to have more on concessions at Kaufman Stadium in my Day Nine post. I didn’t have a lot of time for sampling after visiting the Royals Hall of Fame, picking up my Bloody Mary, acquiring ($1) and filling out the lineup on my scorecard, finding my seat and then joining the hoards fleeing the storm.

NOTE: Spoiler Alert – Given our Saturday/Sunday schedule, I may have to combine Days Nine and Ten into one final report. 

A talk on uniforms of the past was part of the Royals HOF experience.

A talk on uniforms of the past was part of the Royals HOF experience.

If you are visiting Kauffman, I would suggest that, before you take your seat, you visit the Royals Hall of Fame Museum (open until the top of the ninth inning). It’s located on the plaza  in the right field corner. You’ll find lots of great memorabilia, as well as plaques for the Royals (team) Hall of Fame members.  The biggest attraction seems to be the opportunity to have your picture taken with the 2015 World Series trophy – there was a long line of still giddy Royals’ fan waiting for that photo op. I was impressed with the big number five constructed out of 3,154 baseballs – one for every George Brett regular season hit.

Our seats were in the lower deck, down the right field line, good sight lines, but (as expected) further from the action than in the minor league parks we had visited. But then again, we had been called up to “The Show.”  There looked to be about 30,000 fans in the house (reported attendance was 28,463) and they were a loud and enthusiastic lot.  (Although it was hard to tell, since we were seated very near a set of speakers that blasted out the “Get Loud” music at almost painful decibel levels).

8 bloodyThe Bloody Mary – $10 at the Boulevard Pub – was adequate: good pour; spicy, but not over bearing (it could have used a touch more tabasco and a bit of celery salt); it included a lime wedge, but I do like more substance in a Bloody Mary (maybe a celery stick, olives or a pickle spear.) Still at $10, it was a better bargain than the $11 beer.  (One of our group reported paying $27 for two beers and a bag of peanuts.)






8 kabobOne popular concession item with our group was the “Berrie Kabob” – available for $7 at a nearby concession stand or from strolling vendors. They consisted of chocolate dipped strawberries, bananas and brownies (in various combinations) on a stick – and were delicious.  If you are looking for dessert, this one is a hit.



That’s it for Day Eight. For the reports on Day One, click here; Day Two, here; Day Three, here. Day Four, here; Day Five, here; Day Six, here; Day Seven , here.

The Day in MLB

A big day for home runs in MLB yesterday – a total of 49 round trippers in 15 games (only one in our game, but at least we were there for it). A few observations;

  • In Baltimore, the Orioles bashed four round trippers before they made their first out – in a losing cause. (They lost 15-8 to the Astros.)
  • The Cardinals tied an MLB record with their ninth consecutive multi-homer game, hitting a pair of long balls as they topped the Phillies 4-3 in 11 innings.
  • In Baltimore, both leadoff hitters started their team’s offense with first-inning home runs (George Springer, Astros/Adam Jones, Orioles). Not to be outdone, the leadoff hitters for the Cubs and Rockies (Dexter Fowler, Cubs/David Dahl, Rockies) matched the feat.

I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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



Ballpark Tours 2016 – Day Six – Strikeouts and Moon Pies

We had a “chance-to-sleep-in” 10:30 a.m. departure from Nashville, which got us into Chattanooga a bit early for check-in.  Fortunately, our illustrious tour operator is always prepared – and we were booked into the Big River Grille and Brewing Works (just a few blocks from the hotel) for pre-check-in lunch and beverages.

A good time was had by all - but, then again , it was a brew pub (and 98 degress outgside).

A good time was had by all – but, then again , it was a brew pub (and 98 degress outside).

It was a welcome and satisfying stop.  Plenty of handcrafted brews, oven-fired pizzas and sandwiches and entrees made from scratch – plus a nice selection of wines and cocktails.  The oldest brew pub  in Chattanooga, Big River Grille and Brewing Works offered an extensive line of hand-crafted beers – from Southern Flyer Light Lager to Iron Horse Stout – as well as a nice selection of wines, and cocktails ranging from classic martinis to pomegranate peach punch.




They take beer flighnts seriously at Big River.

They take beer flights seriously at Big River.


In addition, the lunch menu covered everything from Lobster and Shrimp Enchiladas to a BBQ Brisket Stuffed Burger to a wide selection of oven-fired pizzas (on beer-infused, rustic-ale pizza dough.)  Needless to say, a good time was had by all – and, from comments I heard, everyone loved the food.







T6 roomhen it was on to check-in at the Read House Historic Inn – originally opened in 1872 and rebuilt in 1926.  It boasted beautiful (and historic) rooms, complemented by the most up-to-date amenities.  Sitting in the elegant, high-ceilinged, chandeliered lobby, you half expected Winston Churchill of Al Capone – both previous guests – to come strolling in.

After check-in and a little down time, it was off to AT&T Field (not to be confused with AT&T Park in San Francisco)  for the Montgomery Biscuits versus the Chattanooga Lookouts contest. Opened in 2000 (as BellSouth Park), AT&T Field’s placement at the top of “Hawk Hill” offers some nice views of surrounding hills.  It was about an eight-block walk from the hotel to the part – on a humid, 90+ degree evening – so we were pleased to see the outdoor escalator which carries fans the last, steep 100-feet or so.


AT&T Field … the rain was on the way.

This really is a “blue collar ball park.” The only bells and whistles are on the Chattanoogo Choo-Choo, which (we were told) emerges from behind the right field wall for every Lookouts’ home run.  There were no long balls in our game, so the train remained unseen.  I’d suggest they run it either at the start or end of each game, so fans are guaranteed at least one view per contest.  Concession offerings were limited, but our group agreed the prices were right and the serving generous.

Now, to the game.

Starting for the Lookouts was 22-year-old southpaw Stephen Gonsalves – considered (by the number-four prospect in the Twins’ system (behind only Jose Berrios, Tyler Jay and Nick Gordon). Gonsalves didn’t disappoint, but Lookouts’ manager Doug Mientkiewicz did.

The 6’ 5”, 213-pound Gonsalves threw six strong innings, walking two and fanning nine – giving up no runs and NO HITS.  He was a pleasure to watch; mixing a solid fastball and effective slider. (I couldn’t get a line on his speed, a malfunctioning stadium  system consistently logged his fastball at 44-to-55 miles per hour. Gonsalves, however, is said to have a mid-90s heater.)  Mientkiewicz pulled the youngster (after 105 pitches) and brought in reliever Alan Busenitz to open the seventh.  Busenitz hit the first batter he faced (1B Jake Bauers) and walked the second (3B Patrick Leonard), before getting RF Justin Williams on a fly out.  The next batter, CF Cade Gotta, singled in Bauer to put an end to the shutout and the no-hitter. Busenitz gave up one more hit and two more runs – and the top of the seventh ended with The Lookouts up 5-3. Needless to say, there was a range of opinions about the appropriateness of pulling the starter with a no-hitter still in progress.


One of our own took part in the usual minor league hoopla – winning at “What’s in the box?”

The Lookouts, by the way, got out of the gate fast – and never looked back. In the bottom of the first, after leadoff  hitter CF Zack Granite was retired on a great play on a grounder up the middle (by Montgomery 2B Juniel Querecuto), DH Ryan Walker doubled, 3B Niko Goodrum doubled Walker home, LF Travis Harrison singled home Goodrum, RF Edgar Corcino walked, and C Stuart Turner grounded into a double play.  First inning: two runs on three hits and a walk.

Chattanooga tacked on two more runs on four hits in the fourth; one run on two hits in the sixth; and one on two hits and a walk in the seventh. The final:  Chattanooga six runs on 11 hits and one error. Montgomery: three runs on two hits and no errors.

A few highlights:

  • Chattanooga pitchers were dominant – giving up just the two hits (and three runs) in the seventh and striking out 14 Montgomery hitters (versus four walks).
  • Lookouts’ lefty Mason Melotakis, who has had injury problems in the past (Tommy John surgery in 2014), came out to start the seventh, but threw only one pitch before being replaced by Zack Jones – as the game ended, we had not heard an update.
  • Zack Jones picked up his first save for the Lookouts, going two innings, giving up no hits, walking one and fanning four – and showing a glove-popping fastball.
  • The offensive star of the game was Lookouts’ 1B T.J. White, who went two-for-three, with a walk, a run scored and two RBI.
  • Gonsalves ran his record with Chattanooga to 6-1, with a 1.81 ERA in 10 starts. The lefty has fanned 72 hitters in 59.2 innings at AA.
  • There was a 44-minute rain delay in the top of the eighth – and when play resumed probably less than 100 of the announced attendance of 1,765 were still in the park.  The gift shop did a brisk business in $5 Lookouts ponchos.
  • After the hot walk to the ball park, we found the free shuttle on the late night trek back to the hotel.
  • There were no Bloody Mary’s

In the Majors

Yesterday (August 18), the Blue Jays’ A.J. Happ became the major league’s first 2016 17-game winner, as the Jays topped the Yankees 7-4 in New York. Happ went 7 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits, four runs, one walk and fanning nine.  His record now stands at 17-3, 3.05.  The 33-year-old Happ, in his tenth MLB season, came into 2016 with a 62-61 record and a career-high 12 wins in 2009

The Fried Moon Pie

6PieFor those not familiar with it, a Moon Pie is a confection – popular in the southern states – that is basically a portable “s’more.” The traditional Moon Pie consists of two round graham crackers, with marshmallow filling in-between, dipped in chocolate.  The dessert has been around since 1917 and, for reasons unknown, there is a southern tradition of washing them down with RC Cola.  In fact, at least two musical groups have had minor hits with songs based on the RC Cola/Moon Pie combination.  Moon Pies, by the way were born and are still produced by The Chattanooga Bakery.  They now come in Chocolate, Caramel, Banana, Vanilla and Strawberry.

Why are Moon Pies in this baseball blog? It’s because the Chattanooga Lookouts honor the community’s Moon Pie heritage with a Deep Fried (chocolate) Moon Pie – the popular dessert dipped in corn dog batter, deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  This specialty concession item is a recommended bargain at just $3.00. Warm, sweet and gooey – I’d rate this offering a home run.  But be ready for the post-Moon Pie sugar rush.  

For more on Ballpark Tours 2016, click here for Day One; here for Day Two; here for Day Three; here for Day Four; here for day five.


I tweet baseball @DavidBBRT

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